World of Darkness, World of Hope, a Rocketman Story, by John Pirillo. Stranded on new timeline Harry faces worse than darkness: Loneliness!
World of Darkness, World of Hope
A Rocketman Story
By John Pirillo
What had gone wrong?
Time and space were no longer just concepts to be studied in a school or class room. No longer idle ideas of a thirsty mind. No longer theories to be argued and defended vigorously. They weren't a friend long gone in the memories who would remain there forever because he was dead. To himself and the world now.
No time and space were a harsh and hard reality to him. They meant that nothing was solid and certain in his life. They meant...
"Harry!" A voice assaulted his ears even louder this time.
Harry snapped out of his thoughts and became aware once more he was flying through the stratosphere at...he eyed his tach. Almost twice the speed of sound.
"Yeah. Here" He finally managed, sounding like a weak imitation of himself.
"Harry, what's wrong? We've been out of contact for hours!"
"Small problem is all. Everything's..." He had to force himself to say the next words. "...Is alright now."
Harry toggled the communications off, killing the connection to his...friend?
Harry's stomach was turning flip flops in his body, assuming full attention now. It had started soon after he had patched up the cannibalistic American and left him to his own resources to survive or not. He had a feeling he would, and then he had dashed back to his suit, and launched as quickly as he could.
He was still stunned from his experience.
His forehead felt like a meat factory with dozens of meat cleavers slashing into it, splitting it into tiny pieces. He wanted to wipe his forehead. It was sweating. And hot.
What had gone wrong? He asked himself for the thousandth time since he had launched. The real reason he had been out of communications had not been the fight. That had been relatively short. No, it was the soul searching he was doing now.
Red back home. Home? He snorted to himself. What's home?
He had to snap out of it, he couldn't keep circling the globe forever. He had to go somewhere. But where? America had become a cesspool of cannibalism. London was run by the Chinese and an alliance of peoples who had starved a once proud nation into what they had hoped would be a nuclear surrender, but instead had turned them into monsters like themselves.
This world had no happy alternative. It was just plain farked up!
He wanted to puke. His stomach agreed. He tried to restrain it. He couldn't afford to puke inside his rocketsuit. So he did the only sane and reasonable thing. He landed in what had once been named Greenland on his time line. Near the coast, where he could see icebergs floating lazily on the waves not so far away.
The beach he had landed on was very rocky and lightly covered with snow. He had marched along the beach in his rocketsuit, not sure if he could manage it without mechanical help at the time. He had found a small cave that overlooked the beach and gone inside. He had ditched the suit, leaning it against a back wall that was littered with driftwood. Probably from a past thaw that had raised the waters temporarily here.
He managed to shift most of the wood forward and get it burning with the help of an old boy scout technique he had learned what seemed centuries ago in time and space. He tugged out an emergency rations pack from inside the suit, broke out a folding plate and cup and made himself a jerky and spam sandwich.
Even this other world relied on Spam. Then he looked t it and the slimy Spam hanging out over the edges of the dry cracker ration he had, then slowly put it down. How did he know if even this wasn't...something else?
That put the nail in the coffin of his stomach's resistance. He immediately threw up, spewing into the fire, almost putting it out. He flung himself away from it, not wanting to do that and continued to gag for what seemed like forever. Finally, weak and exhausted he managed to crawl against the cave wall and fall asleep.
"Harry, you goof."
Harry smiled. Jet was dangling a paper doll in front of him where he lay upon his bunk, arms beneath his head. "Get it outta my face, or I'll rip you apart."
"Yeah. You and what Rocketman?"
Harry laughed. He was so untypical of the Brits who surrounded him and Jet in this war. He had blonde hair and lustrously warm brown eyes, witty and spunky, able to shoot the wings off a fly at a hundred years. Big ears, but they were offset by his long face, which was handsome and rugged with a two day old beard he never seemed to shave, sparkling brown eyes, and a frame that was six and a half feet tall.
Jet, tall as he was, was still a half foot shorter, but was muscled and slim like a well oiled wrestler, with luminous brown eyes, tight hair that looked like bands of curls, and flawless black skin that all the ladies loved. Harry grinned. His friend was the proverbial lady killer, though he was as gentle as a lamb with the women he dated, and never broke a single heart. Some kind of record for any warrior in this day and time, considering the circumstances.
Jet took the paper doll and as Harry watched hung it on a make shift Christmas tree, slung together from a beat-up coat rack, hangers for branches and shoelaces for strings of bulbs with tiny rocks hanging from them. Up and down the fake tree were cut outs of paper dolls. All women.
Jet had several fish that some sailors had brought into the camp by the truckload for the camp personnel. Their Christmas gift from Ike and the Brits who appreciated their efforts to save them and their fair land. The smell of the sizzling fish was driving Harry nuts. His stomach growled so loudly he was certain everyone a mile away had heard it.
"Jet, you've got too much doll on your mind, buddy!"
"Yeah. And you don't?" Jet snapped back. "And I heard that buddy! You like to me and Santa will take away the goodies I'm making for you."
"You're not Santa!"
"That's right and don't you ever forget it, pal!"
Harry laughed. Jet was always good for lifting his spirits up. He didn't like all the violence that went with war. He was sure Jet didn't either, but Jet appeared to burn it off with is rowdy sense of humor. But yes, he did have dolls on his mind. One in particular. A petite sassy nurse with the heart of an angel.
Nurse Sally, everyone called her. Flaming red hair and startling bright green eyes that cold poke holes in any lie with a look. His first and probably only ever love in his life.
His girlfriend had gone on a way mission to the outskirts of London to help with the wounded there, and even though close enough it seemed like a million miles away at that moment.
"Think you two'll get hitched up after the war?" Jet asked out of the blue.
Harry snapped awake, conking his forehead into the cave wall. The pain caused him to see stars a moment and it was then he noticed a familiar smell in the air. The same as that in his dream. Fried fish.
A hand put a wet cloth in front of his face. "Take it. It'll help reduce the pain."
Harry took it, rolled over and put the wet cloth on his forehead he had struck against the stone. Seated across from him at the fire he had made before was a slender man, with shock white hair and kind blue eyes. He wore a thick white jacket, white pants and boots. He had the posture of a warrior, but his aspect was kind in all ways. Harry could almost smell it from him, and that reminded him.
Growl! His stomach churned angrily, demanding to be fed.
The man laughed lightly and took a fish from the fire. It had been poked through by a piece of branch, which the man released into an eager Harry's hands. Harry took the catch and began gnawing on it right away, his hunger so intense he was almost blind.
"You have a good appetite."
Harry swiped the fish grease from his lips, and then sat up straight. Too fast. Everything began to swirl about him. The man leaped so quickly Harry wouldn't have had a chance to avoid him had he been an enemy, and caught Harry before he could collapse into the fire. He gently tucked Harry back against the wall.
"Will you be all right?"
The man went to the other side of the fire again and took off a second fish on another branch. He said no more, but ate, methodically and slowly. Harry watched for a time, and then when his stomach growled again, he remembered the fish in his own hands and started eating again. They both ate in a peaceful, camaraderie of silence until they were done.
The man leaned back against the other cave wall and belched.
The man smiled. "Good to see some Americans have a sense of humor."
Then Harry realized where he had seen that kind of clothing before.
He jumped to his feet. "You're the enemy!"
The man remained seated. "Do I look like the enemy?"
Harry stiffened a moment apprehensively, and then shook his head. "Only physically."
Harry sat back down.
"Well then." The man said kindly. "Why not tell me why I look like your...enemy?"
The man listened as Harry told him about the American he had encountered, and the Brits he had abandoned. Then he told him what he never thought he would tell anyone. He told him about his childhood.
"When I was ten I used to lay on a rock outside my parent's home and gaze at the stars. Someday I'm going to fly there, I promised myself."
"And did you? Did you fly there?"
The man gestured briefly at the Rocketman suit at the back of the cave.
Harry snapped to attention.
The man laughed. "Harry, you are so different from the other Americans. Why is that?"
"Because I am not from this world."
The man gave him a stern look.
Harry blushed, though he didn't know why. "I mean not from this world and its timeline."
The man nodded as if he understood everything Harry had told him.
"Now my friend, I think we both need to rest. It's been a hard day for both of us I think."
For some reason Harry could never explain until much later on, he trusted this man. Even if he did look like a Nazi storm trooper. He lay down and went to sleep immediately.
The man, however did not. He took out a small tablet and began to write in it. Finished, he ripped out a piece of paper, and then slipped it near Harry. He smiled at Harry, took another look at the Rocketsuit, and then exited the cave.
Harry woke up the next morning feeling better than he had in a long time, though he couldn't say why. He rolled over and then realized he wasn't alone. Or rather he was alone again. He jerked upright. The stranger was gone. He had never learned his name, where he was from. Not a thing. Harry cursed himself for being such an idiot. He turned. His Rocketman suit remained in place.
He frowned. Then he saw the piece of paper near him. He picked it up and read it.
"Harry, I can't promise you a peaceful life, but I know there's a greater purpose to our lives than what both of us have seen. If you believe as I do that man must aim for the stars in every way possible, and then I have drawn a small map for you to follow. Meet me there in one day and I will show you a world unlike what you have seen.
"Signed. Nicolas Tesla."
Harry got to his feet, kicked out the rest of the fire, scattering the embers, then crushing them beneath his boots. He went to the back of the cave and looked at his Rocketman suit.
"I don't know where this is all going, but there has to be a reason. A purpose to it all." His eyes wet for a moment.
Rocketman shot into the skies, an arrow of glistening metal and bright forces congealed in a mixture of hope and trust as man and machine went forth to discover the meaning of this new world and their place there. For now!
"There's Always Tomorrow." A Rocketman Story By John Pirillo. Harry's mission brought him back in time, but which past, and to whom?
"There's Always Tomorrow."
A Rocketman Story
By John Pirillo
Harry had felt a kind of wavering of his consciousness, kind of like you feel when you're surfacing from a particularly difficult sleep and you're not quite back in your body yet, and still submerged partially in your dream state. He had been traveling from West Berlin on a special assignment for the Allied Resistance. Now that the power domes had been lit up all over the planet, the Allies had bent their every resource to a way of passing through the domes without being instantly incinerated.
Their first clue had come from Harry himself. His brave dive that had brought him beneath the dome had revealed their limitations, that the power fueling the domes did have its limits, though it appeared to be almost limitless on the surface. Even so, beneath the hot zones of the domes the bubbles tapered off. They had weak spots. Not many. But they had them. Trouble was unless you had a jet suit like Harry that was more like a guided missile than a back pack, you couldn't survive the transition.
Harry frowned. He knew that because some of the brave men who had attempted to do so had either fried before they could complete their transition or their vehicles had exploded from the heat. The domes transition zone measured at a mere depth of a few centimeters, but the radiation and heat were their most intense in the middle centimeters, and that's the barrier they had yet to overcome.
Except for Harry's rocket suit, none had successfully been able to transit the domes of energy. Until today. What had been built by man's brain, was now being undone by man's brain. Einstein and Tesla had come up with a transition device, not much larger than one's thumb, which counteracted the dome field, causing a strong enough disruption for any vehicle or man entering it to pass through safely. Even as he weighed those thoughts in his mind Hitler and his nefarious regime of criminals would be surprised when dozens of their deeply secret bases all blew up at the same time and the domes went down. Permanently.
"Once the master dome is down, Harry." Einstein had told him, his face somber at the moment in the light of predawn overheads in the secret base. "Once it's down, you will go immediately to West Berlin and destroy its base."
"I don't understand, Al. If the dome's are down, isn't that enough?"
General Brighton, the lead commander at the base had returned from a mission in America with some of their scientists. It had been a scouting mission and successful. They had mated up with their companions in the underground of San Diego. There they had come up with the blueprints and plans for a simultaneous destruction of the domes. It had cost them almost ninety percent of their men to return safely with the plans, but they had done it.
General Brighton was one of the few British military leaders still left from World War Two, when it was still just bombs and bullets, instead of zombies and energy weapons. He was an old man of sixty now, but still wiry as hell and energetic enough to make a Chihuahua jealous.
"You need to understand, Captain." He cut in with his usual brisk British accented voice. "That the bloody place is protected by another dome, inverted about the power center that controls all the domes. Without that in ruins, the domes can be brought back on line within a matter of months, if not weeks."
Harry considered that. Jet stood to his left, chin lowered. Deep in thought. "He's going to need more than a rocket suit to take out that place, Sir."
The General eyed Jet and nodded. "And that's why you'll be leading the team that parapets in behind Harry and take out the guards and sub power stations. With enough of those blown, Harry'll be able to penetrate the inverted dome and blow up the rest."
Al finally gave everyone his usual boyish smile. "Which means it'll take them years to rebuild. If they ever do."
Tesla played the devil's advocate. "Of course by then, the bastards will probably have come up with something else equally as diabolical."
Jet smacked Tesla on his shoulders. "You're my man, Doctor."
Tesla gave him a crooked smile. "Just making sure you realize the tenacity of our enemy."
Everyone laughed. There wasn't a man there who didn't know the enemy was as determined in this day as the last. With their continued subversion of the remaining survivors into zombies, they had less and less resistance internally to deal with and could concentrate their forces and energies on coming up with more ways to uproot the Allied Resistance.
But that had been this morning, now Harry was on his way to complete his mission and something had gone wrong. Horribly wrong. He could feel it in ever bone of his body, when the uneasy feeling subsided. The air about him had changed. Not dramatically, but subtlely. He checked below him and then to his right and left. The domes were gone. He was high above their reach and he should have been able to spot their tell tale flares of bright incandescent energies, but there were none. Had his Allied friends already dropped the domes?
He checked his internal time and it was still ten minutes before detonation. What was up?
He did the only thing he could. "Jet. I seem to have a little problem."
There was a long pause of nothing but static.
"Jet, can you read me, over?"
The static intensified, then as suddenly as it had come, it vanished.
He heard his friend screaming like a child who'd just had Santa dump all a ton of Christmas gifts in his lap. "Jesus! Harry! Where the hell have you been?"
"Where are you?"
"On target for the detonations of the domes."
"Detonation of the what?"
"The..." Then Harry got it. He felt every nerve in his body light up as if it were the 4th of July. "Jet, am I home?"
"Harry, you all right?" Jet's worried voice called to him.
"Home me in, Jet. I seem to be suffering from some battle fatigue. I don't trust my own senses right now."
"Gotcha, pal!" Jet chimed in.
A moment later his suit made a pinging sound and went to automatic pilot. He shut his eyes. All he had to do now was relax and everything would be okay. Then alarms sounded. His eyes shot open, the suit was dropping rapidly.
"Harry, what the hell are you doing? You have to maintain power to the thrusters or you'll drop like a Nazi bomb!"
Harry was almost in too much shock to think, but he got the thrusters back under control. "I thought you pinged me."
Harry's mind was racing. What was happening?
"Jet, quickly what year is this?"
Harry let out a whoop of triumph. "I'm back!"
"Back from what, Harry?"
A new voice broke through Jet's. "Harry, this is Al, please describe what you think has happened?"
Harry went into every detail of his mission starting from that morning. When he was finished, the radio went deathly silent for a long time.
Jet's voice came back on abruptly. "Harry. Alter your course to the following co-ordinates."
Jet gave them and followed them. He had had a long day already. His sleep had been terrible, as it often was before a big battle and the battle fatigue was catching up to him again. He fought to keep alert as he followed the co-ordinates. It wasn't until he spotted a familiar sight that he woke up, as if someone had thrown cold water in his face. It couldn't be. Yet it was. He refused to believe it, even though he had already figured out he wasn't any longer in his own time line. Question was, which timeline was he in now?
He had already fought in the original timeline. That's when he had transitioned from a secret war against the Nazis into an alternate timeline where Super Storm Troopers guarded a base of intercontinental missiles armed with nuclear devices. He had been cast unconscious into the freezing lakes of the Swiss Alps, then later recovered by a female scientist to carry on the war with the Resistance of that world which had been nuked to destruction by the Nazi empire.
Then he had found himself switched into a yet different timeline, evidently some side effect of the energies of his rocket suit, which had been built for him by Tesla and Einstein. The radiation sparked some kind of intermittent cross time travel, which he had absolutely no control over. He was a puppet of destiny, wherein he was fighting the Nazis, who seemed to always be winning in every world he ended up in.
He cut back on his jets and as the dust settled, was immediately surrounded by a platoon of British Marines. Something odd about them, though he couldn't figure out what it was at first. Then as he unhinged the front of his suit and stepped down, a very beautiful red head came flying between the troops and flung her arms around him. She gave him a kiss that would've melted the side of a battleship, then pushed him back and slapped his face. "How dare you run off like that into battle and not tell me, Harry!"
Harry stood there stunned a moment. He eyed her closely, noting that she had blue eyes and her hair was a true red, but tinted with shades or orange as well, and then said. "Who are you?"
She gave him a shocked look, then dropped back, finally giving his suit an odd look. She dropped even further back as he pushed through the troops. Jet had a thick beard and mustache. He didn't have the battle fatigues on the other soldiers did. Instead, he wore professorial glasses and a doctor's smock.. "Harry?"
They stood looking at each other a long time, trying to absorb the differences they both saw. Then Jet spied the rocket suit behind Harry. "I don't know where you've been, Harry. But that's not the suit you took off in when you were assigned to fly to Paris and blow up the Eiffel Tower."
Harry's turn to be shocked. "But the Eiffel Tower was destroyed by Hitler's nukes at the end of the war. The nukes I failed to stop."
Jet and Harry eyed each other silently a long time. Finally, Jet nodded to the Platoon and they scattered, returning to their positions. "Someone wants to talk to you, Harry. We'll sort this out later."
The redhead scooted back in close to Harry again, taking his right hand and clenching it so tightly he almost screamed with pain. "We're going to get through this, Harry. I promise!"
They walked towards a large tent. The Tower of Big Ben hovered in the background. Harry stopped for a moment and pointed. "That shouldn't be there. This shouldn't be here." He pointed to the camp. It should be a nuclear pothole."
Jet eyed Harry warily. "Amigo, you sure got some head injury. Don't know what Nukes are, but they sound truly nasty."
Jet gave Harry a second and longer appraising look, then they went inside. There, General Eisenhower and Albert Einstein stood before a large tactical map. Except that General Eisenhower looked different. Even Al; he had brown skin. The General yellow like a Chinese.
Eisenhower turned a fierce glance on Harry. His almond eyes appraised Harry thoughtfully a moment, then sharply. "Report, Captain."
Harry immediately saluted, even though he was still in a state of shock.
"Captain Harry Jackson, Air Command. Rocketman reporting as commanded."
"Sir." Eisenhower growled in an oriental accent.
"Sir!" Harry repeated, saluting smartly yet again.
Eisenhower came closer, examined Harry with eyes as fierce as hawks. This man was a lot fiercer looking than the strong, but milder man he knew back in his home timeline. Harry glanced towards Al. A black Al. He could never have imagined such a thing. But there he was, the same face, but framed by spiky white hair. Al smiled out a cigar and lit it.
"Al, where's your pipe, why are you brown?" Harry stammered.
He looked at the red head. "Who are you? Why did you kiss me so...swell?"
She almost choked with laughter. "Swell! Harry no one talks like that anymore."
He turned to Jet. "You don't need glasses."
"You've got eyes like an eagle."
"Sorry, Amigo, but that hasn't been true for a decade."
Al continued to gaze at Harry in a relaxed manner. He indicated a beat up stool. "I suggest you sit down, young man. You've got a lot to digest I fear."
At first he didn't believe a word he was hearing. He was in a kind of battle shock. The alteration of timelines had yet again caught him in its grips and this time in a more rigorous manner. Britain was a nation of Orientals. Jet was a doctor like Al, and Al was Latino. The red head was his fiancée in this time line. But there were more shocks to come. And ones he didn't like one bit.
He kept giving her side glances. She didn't look like Nurse Sally exactly, what with blue eyes instead of green, but...
She kept looking at him, like a child who's found themselves in a horrible nightmare that can't wake up from. "Stop looking at me like I've turned into some kind of monster?"
"It's not that, it's just..."
She shook her head, fighting off tears, then couldn't hold it anymore. Her heart was breaking. She burst into tears finally and ran from the tent.
Al looked at Eisenhower. "Ike, I think I should..."
"She deserves some help right about now. Go ahead."
Al smiled gratefully and slipped from the tent to follow Red.
The General's eyes gazed solemnly at Harry. "Just answer one question, son."
Harry nodded, the fatigue and shock taking a toll on his energies. He could barely keep his eyes open. "Yes, sir. Anything."
"What do I look like in your timeline?"
Harry burst into laughter. The Ike he knew of his timeline would never, have never ever asked such a question. And he sure as hell wouldn't have let Harry off the hook so swiftly. He would have dogged him until he had wrung every single bit of Intel he could, then wring him again."
The General finally lost his solemn look. He clapped a hand to Harry's shoulder and turned to Jet. "See that he gets a warm meal and a bed to rest on. We'll figure this mess out tomorrow. Time enough for questions, right Doctor?"
Jet nodded, though he didn't act as certain as the General. He gave Harry a long look, then nodded again, indicating the exit.
As Harry was being led out he looked back. The General was still watching him. "Tomorrow, Harry. Tomorrow. There's always tomorrow." He chuckled. "Especially for you."
Harry followed Jet, who had yet to gather his own senses together. When they reached a tent, Jet opened it. Two cots were inside. "Yours is the one on the left."
"Jet, what happened to me?"
Jet looked him in the eyes. "I don't know, Harry. You're still Harry, but you're different somehow. The fact that you looked like you were in shock when Red smacked you with those gorgeous lips clued me in really fast that you were not my Harry."
He paused, then grinned. "Either that or you were giving her one of the biggest cons a Romeo like you can do."
"Harry, everyone knows Reds just one of a dozen ladies you got on the hook." Harry laughed again and slapped Harry on his back. "Amigo, there isn't a soldier in this camp that wouldn't love to trade places with you."
Harry gave him a blank look. None of it made sense. He'd never hang one woman up to dry to be with another and that many at the same time. He bit his lower lip. Evidently these multiple time lines were not only different in how the Nazis won the war, but also, how the people acted. At that moment he determined not to let what Jet had said about him be his real self, whatever that might have been.
Then he got a really, really horrible thought. What if his alternate Harry was also thrust into his last timeline instead of him? What happened there...would it affect him here? And did what he do here affect there? His mind was reeling from the implications of what had happened to him...yet again. The first times the timelines had been altered only by the amount of time, but this time...
Jet gave him a searching look. "Harry, you don't look so good. You all right, amigo?"
Harry shook his head. "Would you be?
"Last thing I remember was flying a mission to destroy the energy domes surrounding the continents."
Jet's jaw dropped. "Energy domes around the continents! Where the hell you been, amigo, what happened to you?"
"I don't know. Yet. So now what's going to happen?"
Jet smiled. "I imagine you'll wake up bright and early and go through another, deeper and more thorough briefing, then you'll probably be off to war again like all of us. Like all of us, Harry. Only..."
He started to say more, then waved it off. "Just rest, Harry. You've can re-rig your brain tomorrow. Time enough then." Jet slapped Harry on the back again. "Good to have you back with us safe and sound, amigo. Sleep well. You've earned it."
Without another word Jet exited.
Harry collapsed on his bunk. He didn't even bother to kick off his boots. The moment he hit the bunk he was out like a light. Then he felt something warm press against him. He awoke to find Red laying next to him, her arms about his neck, snuggled against his chest.
Harry started to wake her, then pulled back.
"Tomorrow, Harry." He whispered to himself. "There's always tomorrow, Rocketman."
Then he fell into a deep and restful sleep.
At least until the air raid sirens began to wail.
Red was gone. Jet rushed through into the tent. "Rocketman, we need you!"
Fighting Nazi Monsters! "Storming the Future" A Rocketman Story by John Pirillo. Would he ever be able to return to the woman he loved?
Storming the Future
"A Rocketman Story"
by John Pirillo
Harry stood before the Rocketman suit, which was hanging by its arms in a clench of metal clamps that held it at a perpetual 12 inches above the pressed concrete flooring that covered the interior Swiss base of the Resistance. Behind it hung a second version, and behind that a third and so on through about ten versions. Each version was smaller than the last, but still far too big.
He then looked at the smaller jump suit, as he called it, that was slung casually over a work bench where Einstein and Tesla were clucking like mother hens over their new babies. It looked similar to the old movie serial he had seen in the States before he had been transferred to the Allied front in Britain It was, however, powered differently, and modular. Each part of it could be replaced by simply removing the entanglement field that kept it in place.
The entanglement field was something that Edison had come up with on a whim. He had been researching electromagnetics in hopes of finding a way to automate the building of his cars...and now the war effort's weaponized vehicles more rapidly, with them being easier to fix when things blew up. Which was often. It was based on some law that Harry didn't have the slightest comprehension of. Science was not his forte. Flying was. He frowned, but flying a ticking bomb had never been on his list of flying objects when he woke up in the future, or in the past and was drafted into the war on the Nazi regime.
"Don't worry, Harry, they'll work it out." Jet told him from the side.
Harry, startled from his reverie, and turned to eye his friend. "It's getting worse."
Jet put a comforting hand on his friend's shoulder. "I know, brother. Believe me I know. I'm the one that has to listen to you scream at night, remember?"
Harry sighed, then dug his hands into his uniform pockets, letting his frustration drain away. Jet was right. He always was. It just fretted at him that he had so little control over what was happening.
Al, perked up, probably feeling Harry's upset and nodded to Tesla, who gave Harry a wave, then returned to probing the jump suit with a tiny tool that had headlights on it. Al brushed his hands off, wiped them carefully on a dirty cloth, then on a cleaner one, and came over, all smiles and perky. "Harry, my boy. So good to see you. And so bright and early."
Jet gave Al a cockeyed grin. "As if anyone could sleep in this hole in the wall anyway."
Al clapped a hand on Jet's right arm. "Always shooting from the hip."
"Just be glad you're not the one in my sights."
Al laughed, patted Jet's arm, then gave Harry a more serious look. "You had them again?"
Harry adjusted his flight attitude and zoomed in a descending arc towards the newly reconstructed Eiffel Tower. It was late at night and only a few guards stood there, but they were Sturmgiganten. The giant, genetically enhanced soldiers cooked in Hitler's massive genetics labs buried somewhere in Asia and out of the reach of the Resistance.
For now. Harry thought grimly. One day. He let the thought subside as he dropped lightly onto the semi-lit platform at the top of the tower. It was similar to the one he remembered from his youth, when his father and mother had taken him to Paris for part of an European vacation. Those had been happier days. For Harry. But they had ended badly for his parents. His mother had contracted cancer and went through what seemed like an endless series of tests and remedies, which left her weaker and weaker over time.
A stomping of a boot.
Harry snapped out of the past to the present. This present. Not the one he had been born to. Which was in late twenties. Not this one which was a thousand years later and the hollow shell of the world it had once been. Its peoples decimated by a constantly warring faction of Nazi soldiers and Eastern Global warriors and weapons. The Second World War had ended with nuclear strikes at all the major western capitals of the world. The Eastern Block and Nazi Germany had divided the planet into two zones. They lived an uneasy peace between them, which was enforced locally by zombie soldiers...citizens whose minds were preempted by electronics...and Sturmgiganten...huge genetically modified soldiers that stood over eight feet tall, had muscles as thick as tree trunks and fists the size of hams. No, it wasn't a pretty future, or past as he remembered it.
Harry slid in a sliding curve with his left foot and the other one jacked up and caught the Nazi giant in its right kneecap. It grunted in pain. They had no voice like normal, but spoke in a kind of apelike grunt. Harry knew the one on the opposite side would be coming fast. For some reason these creatures always knew what was going on with the other. Knowing that, he swiftly followed the kneecap kick with a double punch into the giant's privates. The giant grunted even louder, the pain of its crushed testicles...thank God it had something normal...being so excruciating that it doubled over. That brought its chin into Harry's reach. He slammed his right elbow into its throat, then shoved with all his strength and sent the giant tumbling against the railing, where its giant yellowed eyes glared at him angrily, promising hideous torture. It wasn't going to happen. Harry drop kicked the giant in its stomach and it flew head over heels from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Its grunts grew louder and louder with pain as it fell into the large metal struts holding up the massive tower.
Harry never got to listen to it strike the bottom, because even if he could have heard it, the second giant was on him. He spun around powered his suit and flew like an arrow of destruction into its chest, sending it falling back against the railing. Harry didn't wait to struggle with it. He clasped one of its arms, gave his suit a power surge and lifted it off the platform, dangled it over the ground below and let go. He didn't listen for any grunts. He had a mission to do. He lit on the platform again and went to the strange device that topped the tower. It was, according to the Resistance informants, a death ray, that once activated. That one and a score of them about the city. That once activated, would create a lethal dome of blazing energies which no living thing could survive.
His mission. It's not going to happen.
He set the charges he carried in his side flaps, planted the timers carefully on all of them, set them for sixty seconds and leaped from the tower.
He flipped on his jump suit and waited for the rockets to kick in.
Harry's face was flushed and sweating by the time he had completed the retelling of his dream. Jet looked at him, his jaw hanging down. "God, Harry, I never knew. Man!"
Al took out his pipe, which he always did when he was considering something weighty, or something that bothered him deeply, proceeded to tamp tobacco in it, then light it. He took several puffs, then said. "We're going to find out what is causing these time loops, Harry. I promise it."
He said nothing more, but he gave Harry a quick side hug, then stepped back to rejoin Tesla, who looked up then, saw Harry's face, gave him a worried look, then returned to his work, with Al whispering words to him so Harry and Jet couldn't over listen.
Harry slumped against the work table behind him and wiped the sweat from his face. He felt like crap. Probably looked like it too.
He and Jet went to the small eating area that was allowed the base, took out two mugs and filled them steaming black java. They plugged the liquid with dabs of sugar and milk, then sat down, eyeing the activity going on, even at such an early hour.
A platoon of Resistance Forces were training in one corner, their Squad Leader, hollering at them to stay trim, stay in line, be quiet, get down and all the other nasty things those guys did to save the lives of those in their command.
"It's like I'm unhinged in time, Jet." Harry finally said, lifting his eyes from the activity in the base, to Jet's.
Jet nodded. He waited for Harry to go on.
"I never feel the death, but it always ends up that way. Why do I only remember the deaths?"
Jet laughed. "God's keeping you humble, man. God knows you need it, Flyboy."
Harry laughed despite the sadness and dismay he felt. He took a long sip of the hot java, the coffee streaming down his throat and igniting the nerve endings in his body, bringing some semblance of reality back to him again as he got further away from the dream.
Then he remembered. "Jet, it's been happening to me when I fly the suit."
"Yeah, man, we knew that."
"Yes, but it only happens after I've been in battle."
Harry jumped to his feet and dashed off.
Jet set his coffee down. "Now, I know why they call him Rocketman. He never keeps his feet on the ground long."
Jet sighed, threw the rest of his drink down his throat, then ran after Harry.
Harry struggled into the Rocketman suit while the Techs helped him lockdown. It was like squeezing a soft tomato through the top of a wine bottle. It had to get inside without bursting. At least that's what it always felt like to Harry at first. He eyed the jump suit and wished it were stable. He needed the flexibility it provided. No use living in the past, he thought, then stuffed his arms into the arms of the Rocketman suit and waited as he was closed inside.
Jet tapped on his faceplate. "Reading me, Harry?"
"Only too loud and clear, pal."
"Good, next time you run out on me like that I'm charging for the time."
The Techs about them laughed too.
Harry and Jet were base favorites. Their humor and stamina were well known, as was their battle readiness.
Harry activated the controls in his suit with his chin, tongue and nose, then dropped lightly to the floor as the overhead clamps released him. He turned towards the rising hanger door. He twisted slightly to look at Jet. "Make sure Al and Tes are monitoring my flight this time. It's important."
"Not telling me why, pal!" Jet exclaimed in aggravation.
Harry smiled through the face plate. "No time. Just tell them. Please!"
"Gotcha!" Jet dashed off.
Harry turned the Rocketman suit towards the opening to the Swiss air, then ignited his suit's rockets. He kept them tuned low so the radiations didn't backwash into the crew scrambling to clear his path, then punched them into full gear when he reached the opening. They could never leave it open more than a few seconds for fear of the Nazi Fume Fighters catching wind of them. So far they'd been lucky.
Harry launched into the clear blue skies of the Swiss Alps, Lake Lucerne below him as he angled towards the clouds. He checked his radar and spotted a Fume Fighter. They had won that name from the ugly black smoke they emitted as they tore through the atmosphere, leaving a smoking trail of black fumes and stench.
"Closing." Harry said into his communicator.
"Gotcha, Harry." Jet said.
"Be careful, Harry." Al told him.
"My middle name." Harry chuckled. "Except when it's he who drops like a rock."
Jet whooped with laughter. "That was good, brother. Really good."
"Here goes!" Harry warned, then accelerated the suit, closing in rapidly on the Fume Fighter which was high above. Obviously, the pilot had his attention forward, instead of below, for Harry was able to launch a series of rockets into its exhausts before the pilot awoke to the Rocketman behind him.
Harry didn't give him a chance to warn anyone, not even himself. He launched a deadly one, two whammy salvo of rockets which sent the Nazi pilot back to Valhalla.
Harry circled the area he had struck the Fume Fighter in, waiting for his theory to be proved. Nothing happened.
"Well, Harry?" Al finally said, his voice sounding a bit worried.
"Nothing. Not a damned thing." Harry groaned.
Realizing he had just shot down his own theory, he headed back to base. He shot through the entrance, backed off on his rockets, then lit like a dandelion on his favorite spot. He waited impatiently for the Techs to unlatch him, then thanked them, and raced to the back where Al, Tesla and Jet were standing next to the jump suit, which was still in pieces.
Al gave Harry a searching look.
"I thought the weapons somehow triggered the response that threw me between timelines."
Al nodded and turned to Tesla, who had been jotting notes in a small tablet in his hands. "I think you're wrong, Harry. "
He held the tablet up. Harry squinted at the mathematical symbols on it.
"What's it mean?"
But the words that left his lips seemed hollow, empty, as if he were in some kind of deep echo chamber. He jerked his eyes towards Jet, who was reaching for him and then...
Harry was falling and falling. The rockets had failed. He would die if he couldn't fire up the engines. Finally, he did the only thing he had left for him to do, if he hoped to survive. He jettisoned himself.
He watched the jump suit smash into a building and explode, sending scores of storm troopers from their quarters to see what was going on.
And there Harry was, dangling from a parachute high above their heads, but plainly visible if any of them looked up.
"Harry!" Jet screamed.
Harry shook his head. Jet shook his body.
Harry snapped out of the vision he had been experiencing and realized he wasn't falling anymore.
Tesla wrote more notes in his tablet. "You were gone for..." He looked at his pocket watch. "Three seconds."
Harry let out a whoop of joy. He hugged Jet. "It worked. It worked!"
Al smiled comfortingly. "Yes. It did. Now..." He sighed, as he and Tesla exchanged glances. "We have to figure out why you are disobeying every law of physics known to man."
Jet patted Harry on his back. "That's because he's Rocketman."
Everyone laughed, except for Harry, who secretly wandered if someday he would be able to use the new knowledge and return. Return to the woman he had left behind. He had loved and was stricken from his life forever by a quirk in time.