A Rocketman Story
By John Pirillo
Harry grabbed for his boots, then realized he still had them on, flung off the blanket covering him, which he hadn't placed there, then for a moment remembered the presence of the warm body against him that night. Red! He blushed. He was a very moral man and the idea of sleeping with a strange woman was unnerving to him and his sense of values, but then after a few moments he let it go. Nothing was normal about his life anymore, was it really?
He slammed for the tent opening and almost knocked Al down as he came running from the opposite direction. "The Feds are flying in with their rocket wings. We've gotta slow them down or they'll destroy everything we've been fighting for."
Jet sighed deeply, but grabbed Harry's arm and led him to where the Rocketman suit stood, surrounded by guards. "The Feds. I suspect they're the equivalent of what you fought in wherever..."
"Yeah. That place."
Harry gave Jet a look. "Harry, you don't know, you really don't know? Know what? There's no Europe here. Never heard of it. This is the Britains. It stretches from the Atlantic to the Asias, where the Capitol is."
"Capitol is Asia?"
Jet grew a very frustrated look. "God! This is just driving me nuts. I wish we had time to debrief you properly. Are you going to help us or not?"
Harry stopped Jet in his tracks. "I have only one question."
"The Feds...why are you at war with them?"
Jet paled for a moment as he remembered something Harry had no idea of, and then he spoke again. "The Feds cannibalize the populations they conquer."
"Strip down their technologies?"
"No, Amigo. They eat them. Eat the people!"
Harry turned pale as a ghost himself. "And I thought Nazis were bad."
"Nazis?" Jet asked, dumbfounded by the comment.
"They grow soldiers to nine feet tall, turn people into zombies, and use Nukes to wipe out any resistance."
"I don't know what the hell you're talking about, Harry, I just want to know if you're with us or not?"
By that time Al and the General were standing next to them, watching and listening to everything.
Harry glanced at them, noted the intensity of the looks, then at Jet. "They really eat people?"
"Yeah, Harry. Even their bones. They take no prisoners, except for lunch or dinner."
Harry thought he was going to throw up. He wobbled for a second. Jet and Al rushed to steady him. Harry steadied, and then pulled away. "Sorry, this is just..."
"So much?" The General said in his strange Oriental accent. "Imagine how we must feel looking at the Harry we sent off into battle, who has come back an entirely different person."
Al nodded. "And who wears his Captain's stripes on his collar, instead of the belt like proper soldiers." Al pointed to the General, where Harry for the first time saw the General's stars.
"I guess I should be grateful you guys didn't just haul off and shoot me." Harry said.
Al lit up a new cigar, and then said. "We considered it."
Harry gave him a surprised look.
Al broke into laughter. "Just kidding, man. Just kidding."
Al rushed off.
Harry stared after him. "My Al doesn't smoke cigars are crack corny jokes like that."
"Your Al?" The General asked, his eyes narrowing fiercely again.
Harry looked at Jet, then the General. "Look, I don't know you guys. You don't really know me, but one thing I can promise you. I will do everything in my power to stop these Feds!"
Jet looked to the General. "See!"
The General nodded, then put his hands behind his back and followed Al's direction.
Jet took Harry in tow again. "Sorry to ruin your beauty sleep."
Jet handed Harry a block of something brown. "Eat it."
"What is it?"
"Keep you going until you come back safely."
Jet stopped Harry. "I don't care if you're not our Harry or not, I only care if you come back alive, Amigo. Harry or not, I have the feeling we're still close in your timeline. Am I right?"
Harry twined two fingers together. Jet laughed. "Got it!"
The two men rushed to the Rocketman suit.
Jet nodded to the Guards and they dispersed, rushing to their regular posts, joining the hubbub of activity around the base as the sirens continued to wail. Harry began to climb back into the Rocketman suit.
He turned around.
Red was rushing to him. He almost flinched when she put her arms around him, then he slowly puts his around her.
"Come back to me, Harry." She said.
She looked up into his eyes and he smiled. "I just want you to know I'm a one woman man. Whatever the other Harry was, I'm not him. You deserve an honest partner, not some low down immoral Sonuvabith."
She gave him a shocked look. "You're really not my Harry, are you?"
She let go and he held on.
"I mean it!" He reiterated.
She nodded, getting it.
Jet pulled her next to him. "Don't worry, Harry. No matter what happens, I'll make it right for her."
She leaned against Jet and smiled. "He's my huggyboo."
Jet shoved her away. She laughed.
"I am not one of those ugly stitches of a doll!" He complained.
"What's a huggyboo?" Harry asked.
Then the sirens changed their tone.
Jet's eyes widened. "Harry! Scramble! Now!"
Jet ran for a shelter that led beneath the ground. Red followed several paces, and then turned back as Harry began strapping himself into the Rocketman suit. She smiled. It was so warm and big that he felt as if his heart was a cold lump of ice melting in the hot summer sunlight.
She ran after Jet and followed him into the shelter.
Harry pressed the automatic that shut sealed off the suit and blended him with its controls, then eyed his combat screen. He could see a field of green and against it four large objects vectoring in on the camp. The objects had a strange shape like birds, and yet not.
As Harry prepared to launch himself he felt first, rather than saw Jet. Jet waved from the shelter's entrance, and then gave thumbs up.
Harry gave him a wave from the rocket suit, and then blasted off, jets roaring behind him, slicing the air with the force of their energies, leaving a screaming sound behind him like a banshee out for blood and guts. Troops all over the camp turned to look at Rocketman as he soared and they all burst into cheers. But Harry didn't see or hear that. His combat screen showed him he had to hurry or the wings would reach the camp before he could stop them.
He vectored into a level flight, and then accelerated. In moments he was out over the Atlantic, meeting the approaching machines of war. As he closed in he began to get snatches of static on his receivers and nothing quite clear. He ignored it. Combat was never simple.
He gave the suit another goose of speed and angled upwards so he'd have some maneuvering room for his attack. As he shot over the approaching wings, they fired cannon at him from the wing tips and noses of their craft. Harry gave them no thought. Ordinary cannon fire couldn't stop him unless it was dead on, and he had no plans of being dead on. He changed his vector. The cannon fire followed him.
"What the crap?" He cursed, and then gave the suit a sharp vector to the left.
The cannon fire closed in, still following him.
Harry did the only thing he could think of then, he arced up and over and headed straight for the cannon fire. At the last possible second he flipped the Rocketman suit over in a steep deep, and then shot straight back up.
The cannon fire missed him, but turned also and began tailing him as he ran. Straight at the wings. As he closed in on the wings, he could sense, rather than feel their surprise. The first wing, a huge vehicle the size of a B-52 with a double fuselage and triple wings turned slightly. Whoever flew that monster knew tactics.
Then Harry almost lost it. The insignia on the side of the wing was the Stars and Stripes. "Oh dear God!" He uttered.
"Harry." Jet's voice entered his shattered thoughts.
"Read you, Jet."
"Watch out for their cannon..."
"Already know. Dodging them now."
Harry closed in on the banking Wing. It was going to be close. The cannon fire was hot on his heels. Literally. If he had exposed bare feet at that moment, he was certain they would've been burnt by the heat of the closing cannon fire.
He had no time to analyze the technical aspects of t he munitions, only that they were deadly. Then he grinned to himself. "But then again, so am I" He said to himself.
"Repeat Harry. I didn't get that."
Harry grinned. "Later, Jet!"
Harry did an abrupt vector switch that lined him up with the nose of the huge bomber wing and its escorts. The cannon fire was smart, but not human smart. They kept going.
Harry shot upwards as fast as he could, but not fast enough. He was caught in the backwash of the cannon fire impacting the bomber, and then slicing through the remaining wings like a horde of angry bees attacking an insect.
The whitewash of the power that exploded was immense.
Harry was flung so hard that even inside his protective webbing he was slung so hard that his teeth rattled.
He lost control of the suit for several long moments. He blacked out.
He was back home. "Dad?"
Harry looked up at his tall father, so fine looking in his military uniform. Blue and gold. Major stripes glistening.
"What are cannibals?"
His father laughed, and then swung Harry up on his shoulder and behind his head. Harry hung on and laughed.
"Gonna eat you! Eat you!" He laughed.
Harry laughed too.
He snapped out of the vision and instantly saw on his combat screen and through the visor that he was only a matter of a dozen yards of crashing into sea. He reversed the engines and slowed down, then nudged the suit around until it was facing land again and goosed the power.
As he flew he spotted the wreckage of the four attacking wings. The insignia on the bomber still floated. Stars and Stripes. A very sobering image.
When he landed at the camp, soldiers rushed to help him climb out. They pounded his back, congratulated him, offered him candy, cigars, their tent number...the women, and tears. Harry accepted it all with humility. His eyes were just on two people at that moment. Red and Jet. But he ignored them as Al and the General stepped up to stand next to them.
"The Feds are Americans?" Was all Harry said.
Al's eyebrows rose questioningly.
"The Feds are Americans?" Harry said again in disbelief.
The General was about to answer, but Red beat him to the punch. "The Americans fell to the Feds at the beginning of the war."
Al jumped in. "I'm sorry, Harry, but there is no longer an America."
Harry almost fell at the shock of it.
Jet jumped in and steadied him. "Hey, Amigo, it's war. It happens."
Harry looked at everyone. "I think we all need to sit down and have a long talk."
The General nodded, and then looked to Al, Jet and Red. "You take care of him."I've still got wings attacking Ireland."
He marched off.
The soldiers about them gave Harry more cheers and applause, then began thinning out.
Harry finally turned back to his new friends.
Al motioned to the tactical tent. "I think it's best if we talk in there. I can show you...show you what you need to know."
A gorgeous blonde burst from the ranks of the soldiers and flung herself against Harry. "Hey big guy! You're the hero. How about tonight? Ready to cool your jets yet?"
Harry was so shocked he couldn't respond. This was the second time a woman had done this to him. "Uh..."
Red came in and gently broke Harry and the Blonde apart. "Give the man some time to cool his heels, Private."
The blonde gave Red a dismissive look, winked at Harry, then turned to leave. "I'm still in Tent 20, Big Guy. Don't forget. I know I won't!" She said with a wink, and then dispersed into a crowd of milling soldiers, all taking excitedly and pointing towards Harry.
Red looked at Harry. "You really aren't him, are you?"
Harry smiled. He liked her. He just wasn't sure how much he should. He wasn't her Harry. But then who knew how long he'd be in this timeline. "No. I'm not."
She slipped a hand into his and squeezed. "I think I'm going to like this version of Harry."
Jet was watching the whole thing with his jaw hanging open. Finally, he couldn't hold back any longer. "Mother of God in Heaven, Harry. My Amigo, you really aren't Harry."
Harry smiled at him. "Not that Harry anyway."
They all laughed.
Al motioned to the tactical tent again. "Unless you'd like to spend the whole war gossiping?"
Harry laughed and they all entered the tent.
He didn't know how long he would stay in this timeline. He worried about the last one he was in, and his original timeline. Did they just stop while he entered a new one? Was this timeline just an alteration of his life, like the Hindus believed? Was he just following a different thread of the vast tapestry that God had already created, where every single thought, word and deed were already detailed?
He didn't know. He almost didn't even care anymore. He was dislocated in time and space. But as he felt t he warmth of Red's hand in his, and listened to the friendly chatter of Al and Jet, he knew that somehow, some way, it was all going to work out in the end.