THE TIME IDIOT
(2011) - a novel by A.R.Yngve - Sample Chapters
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The guards put Prescott in a cell for the day, and served him a meal on a mess tray. They not only took all his gadgets, but also removed his belt and shoelaces - presumably so he couldn't hang himself.
When the guards had left, Prescott ate his meal. He'd been served a bottle of Coca-Cola with the meal, in the old-fashioned glass bottle. The food tasted okay, and Prescott realized how hungry he'd become.
When he was finished, he started looking around. A yellowed poster on the wall read: LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS. He could glance out through the cell bars and across the corridor.
The cells he could see looked empty... except one. A man in Army shirt and pants lay on a bench and snored lightly.
"Hey!" Prescott called out to the other cell. "Wake up! I've gotta ask you something!"
The other prisoner stopped snoring. "Shut up," he moaned. "My head hurts. God, that was some foul booze! I'll never drink home brew again."
"Listen up! I need to know a few things. Like, what's going on?"
The prisoner sat up, groaned and rubbed his neck. He was wearing a wrinkled infantryman's uniform. "What the hell are you talking about?" He spoke with a slight slur.
"You know, our country. Are we at war?"
The prisoner scratched his unshaven chin and made an effort to focus his eyesight on Prescott. With his bronze skin, sharp nose and high cheekbones he resembled a Native American. "Whaddya mean, 'at war'? We're always at war with someone or something. It's America's Manifest Destiny to fight the good fight!"
If the soldier was attempting sarcasm, it went right over Prescott's head.
"Is the Cold War still going on?"
"What, there's a cold one now?" The Native American prisoner, a private judging by his demeanor and the absence of stripes on his shirt, put his feet on the floor and made a stretching exercise for his neck. "Wars are not cold. They're an exchange of heat between two agitated tribes, for the purpose of dissipating excess energy..."
"I come from a wealthy family and I can pay you for information."
"Must be my lucky day." The man went over to the bars of his cell, and peered across. He searched his pockets and found an empty pack of cigarettes. "Got any smokes?"
"I stopped smoking years ago. Listen... are we at war with another big country? Gimme a straight answer and you'll make some easy money. I need a quick briefing on the political location... uh, situation."
"A fool and his money are soon to be parted... but okay, sure. The United States have been on the brink of war with the Soviet Union since... since at least the 1950s. What saved us from Armageddon was the atomic war between Russia and China. It seriously dented the capacity of the Reds to attack us, though they've done a lot of rebuilding since. There was a lot of talk that we should go in and liberate England after the war, but the Soviets threatened to hit us with all their missiles so it came to nothing."
Oh dear, thought Prescott, the Reds have taken England. How could this happen? Didn't the British have Winston Churchill?
"What about Churchill?"
"Winston Churchill! Britain's great wartime leader!"
The prisoner turned pensive. "Churchill, Churchill... wasn't he the British Minister of Defense who got assassinated by a Commie agent in the Forties, a few years before the invasion of England? He used to warn everybody about Stalin, and Stalin heard it..."
"The President we've got now... is he Republican or Democrat?" Please, please let it be a God-fearing conservative Republican.
"She is a Democrat - the third member of the Roosevelt clan to be elected President. Now, where's my money?"
"They took my wallet."
"Story of my life. I'm Steve Nafuth, by the way. What's your story?"
It took Prescott less than ten minutes to tell Steve, who listened hard.
When Prescott finished his tale, Steve made a perplexed face and shook his head. "And I thought I had problems." He tapped the collar of his shirt, and said in a completely sober voice: "Okay, I'm done with him. Let me out of here. He's telling the truth, or at least he thinks he's telling the truth. Maybe that Calvin Moh can explain... or perhaps a psychiatrist can."
A guard came in and unlocked Steve's cell. Prescott realized that he'd been duped.
Steve came over to Prescott's cell door and made a sloppy salute. "Colonel Steve Nafuth, Army Intelligence. Mr. Prescott, before we take you to meet Calvin Moh... what exactly happened to your 'time machine' after you arrived here?"
Prescott feared that if he shut down the pod's camouflage, they might take it apart and he'd be trapped in this world forever. Then again, maybe this was as good as it would ever get? So the Commies ended up clobbering each other, perhaps it was all for the best... and America was still strong and free. Pity about Churchill, though.
"Uh, what was the question again?"
"Where is that time machine?"
"Hidden," he blurted out and immediately regretted it. "I can't let it fall into the wrong hands."
Steve Nafuth's expression turned grim, and he was about to speak when there came a beep from the hidden radio in his collar. He tapped it. "Yes? Where is he? Good. I'll be there right away with the intruder. Raise the base's alert level from Condition Yellow to Condition Orange."
He turned to Prescott and said: "Moh is here. We'll all go and have a little chat with him."
"That was quick!"
"He works in one of our minor labs on this base. When you quoted Moh's research papers, Stockwell really sat up and took notice."
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