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THE TIME IDIOT
(2011) - a novel by A.R.Yngve - Sample Chapters

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CHAPTER 5

It was night outside the dimly lit hospital ward.

Corporal Adolf Hitler lay on one cot among hundreds, his eyes and head covered by layers of gauze, moaning and calling out for his mother. Many of the other wounded soldiers in the room also called for their parents. Their wounds were much worse than Hitler's. The air reeked of infected sores and disinfectants.

Prescott entered the room, wearing a physician's uniform he'd stolen. He checked the cots one by one, said "Ja" and "Guten Tag" to every other patient, and stopped by the corporal's cot.

The mustache looked wrong, Prescott thought. It was supposed to be square-shaped, and this one was long and pointy. But the face did look like the photo Moh had given him, and he couldn't see any square mustaches in the room, so...

"Mr. Hitler?" asked Prescott and uncorked the bottle, labeled with a skull and crossbones, which he had found in the physician's office. "Uh... Herr Hitler?"

"Ja? Was ist los?"

The corporal fumbled blindly with his hands. Prescott felt terror, as if the mere touch of Hitler were poisonous. He forgot his plan to merely blind Hitler, grabbed the corporal's jaw, forced the bottleneck into Hitler's mouth and poured the contents of the bottle down his throat.

Hitler gagged and gulped; his entire body jerked with forceful spasms.

Prescott took a few steps backward from the cot, trembling with fear, and ran for the exit. He said "Gute Night!" to a passing nurse, and ran for the camouflaged time pod.

German voices cried out in the night, and German bullets started to whistle through the air as Prescott climbed into the pod.

He shut the hatch and banged the homing button with his fist.

He turned inside out, thinking: Oh crap. I'll come back to the bunker at the base, and maybe Moh will be waiting for me there - with a gun.

***

The time pod arrived and touched down on firm ground. As soon as the pod had settled and the airbags deflated, Prescott grabbed the Kalashnikov. He had a look at the exterior through the pod cameras.

The screen showed that the time pod had landed in the same storage bunker as before... except that the piles of crates and barrels seemed to lie closer to the wall where the pod had landed.

Had the bunker grown bigger? The place definitely seemed more brightly lit, and the barrels looked shinier, as if the place had just been dusted. A noise came from the distance: he wasn't alone.

Prescott put away the Kalashnikov and tucked the Glock inside his jacket, and crawled out. With the remote, he activated the pod's camouflage and it melted into the rock wall.

Prescott spotted a very large signpost on the wall above the pod. The main text read, in five-foot block letters: STORAGE ZONE G. And underneath it, in much smaller letters: PERSONNEL MUST SHOW ID AT ALL TIMES.

The crates were all stamped "U.S. Army." The sight of the logo made Prescott relax. Good ol' US of A hadn't changed much...

"Halt!" An armed guard with a rifle and an MP badge ran toward him. "Identify yourself!"

"I... I..."

"What's today's password?" the guard barked, aiming his rifle at Prescott's chest. Prescott froze, his arms by his sides, his jaw moving up and down.

"Uh... eh... 'Halibut'?"

As the guard came closer and slowed his steps, Prescott noticed that the man's Army uniform and helmet looked a tad old-fashioned, like something out of World War Two.

"Who are you? How did you get in here?"

"I'm Prescott Walker, the President of the United States! Don't shoot!"

The guard halted, but kept his rifle trained on Prescott. "What did you say?"

"I said... oh crap. I'm not the President here, am I?"

"Damn right you're not. You're under arrest. Hands behind your head! Come with me and don't try anything funny."

Prescott obliged. They walked to the exit, which lay at the far end of the subterranean storage area. He caught a glimpse of the exit as an enormous sliding door, partly obscured by the piles of crates.

The guard picked up a small microphone from his lapel and reported to the base; he argued with someone about where exactly Prescott had sneaked into the facility.

Roughly ten minutes later they were approaching the door. It was bigger than Prescott had first believed - big enough to let in a Jumbo Jet. It started to slide open, and a large cargo jet plane rolled inside. The markings on the plane's hull read "USAF" and it carried a white star in a blue circle - but the plane's design resembled something out of the 1950s.

On its nose, a painted logo read: Hughes Aircraft.

"If you don't mind me asking, son... what year and date is it? I'm kind of confused right now."

"Damn right you're confused."

The guard's rifle poked Prescott between the shoulder blades, and he hastened his steps. A moment later, the guard told him the year and date.

And Prescott thought: So the pod brought me back to the moment when I left, and it still works. But Professor Moh didn't show up, and the base is bigger now. That's got to be a good sign. Bigger military... stronger defense... safer country. When I took out Hitler, things must've finally been set straight. No Nazis, no World War Two... hey! That means my Dad never fought in World War Two! Good for him. So I'm not President any longer, big deal. It was worth it, to save the world from all that misery.

"I need to talk to your President," he said in a more confident tone. "I have a lot to explain."

"Damn right you do, but you'll talk to the base commander after we throw you in a cell. You're not getting near our beloved President Roosevelt!"

Prescott halted so abruptly that the guard nearly bumped into him. The guard snarled a curse.

"Sorry! Roosevelt who?"

"Kim Roosevelt! Where've you been the past six years - Planet Mars? Move or I handcuff you."

They walked past the cargo jet and into the harsh desert sunlight.

"Wow," said Prescott. In this version of the present, the base was a small city with its own streets, water towers, power lines and in the distance what must be a missile launch pad. Trucks, troops and small vehicles were in constant motion, and a sense of urgency lay in the air. Vapor trails from numerous high-flying jets streaked across the sky.

The guard directed Prescott to a small jail, and other guards frisked him. They found the Glock and examined it with great curiosity.

"Never seen this model before. Is it Russian?"

"And it's so light, like plastic."

In Prescott's pockets they also found his wallet, cell phone, iPod, driver's license, various badges and cards, and the remote-control for the time pod. Now the guards became seriously suspicious, and sent an urgent request for the base commander to come and interrogate the intruder.

***

The base commander, a general in his fifties who Prescott didn't recognize, carefully laid out Prescott's items on the table between them. The only thing absent was the Glock.

"This," he said and pointed at the cell phone, "is some kind of two-way, right?"

"It's a Motorola cell phone," Prescott said. "Haven't you seen one before?"

The general frowned and examined the phone closer. He saw the Motorola logo on the plastic casing and his mouth fell open.

"Who are you really?" he asked.

Prescott sighed and repeated his name, address, occupation and closest family. "My dad, Morgan Walker, belongs to one of the most influential families in Texas. Surely you've heard of the Walkers? Oil, business, my brother the Florida governor..."

Saying this, he felt a little more confident; he crossed his arms and couldn't suppress a smirk. The general stared at Prescott for a moment... and then laughed in his face. He laughed so hard he had to wipe a tear from his eye.

"Yes, I've heard of old Morgan Walker. He's that Texan oil tycoon, and yes, I've heard of his sons Ted and Franklin Walker - one's a senator and the other one's nobody in particular."

The smirk on Prescott's face evaporated and he raised himself, hands gripping the edge of the table. "No! This isn't right. Let me talk to Professor Calvin Moh. He can explain. Please! You must find Calvin Moh."

"What's his role in this?"

"He helped me get here."

"Really?" The general reached for the radio mike on his lapel. "Get me Intelligence." After a pause, he continued: "Grumman? This is Stockwell. Send your best boys over here right away, we've arrested an armed intruder. He's packed with strange gadgets I've never seen before, and he carried some foreign handgun. Alert the FBI to put out an A.P.B. on Calvin Moh, a scientist. That's M-O-H. The intruder claims Moh is his accomplice. Oh, and find out everything you can about someone named Prescott Walker, possibly related to Morgan Walker. Yes, that Morgan Walker. I'm in the jail questioning the intruder."

Stockwell put down the microphone and smiled ominously at Prescott.

"I have no idea what your game is, mister, but we'll find out. If the Russians sent you, my boys will know. So you'd better start telling the truth now, or you only make it worse for yourself later."

"What...?" Prescott couldn't believe this. "Look, I know this all seems incredible, but I swear to God I'm not a spy! I'm... I'm a time traveler!"

Stockwell's smile broadened. "Really," he chuckled. "Like in the movies?"

"Exactly like in the movies! A guy travels back in time, he changes something, and when he comes back the world looks different... you know? It was a research project, on this very base! I was here, as a visitor! The time machine was built here! Don't you have research going on here about, uh, time travel? You know, time has two dimensions instead of one...?"

The general paled and pointed a stubby finger in Prescott's face. "When Calvin Moh gets here, he'd better tell the same story as you. Or you're in for a world of trouble."

Prescott trembled. Usually when he was this stressed out, playing music would relax him. He reached for his iPod on the table - and two guards immediately grabbed him from behind and pulled him out of the chair.

"Try that again and they'll shoot," Stockwell said.

Desperate to calm down, Prescott played his favorite relaxing song in his mind, the one his mother used to lull him to sleep when he was a little boy.

On top of Old Smokey...


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