DO NOT BE ALARMED!
I redid my chapters to be smaller, so we are on chapter 7 now. Still at the same place in the story though.
Are you kidding me? I screamed at myself. Winthorpe? I could have sworn I saw a man named that one time on a really old movie…How would I ever get used to hearing my name being Winthorpe?
Briefly I scanned my history that I should know…My parents’ names, my siblings, and my date of birth. As soon as I thought I could remember Annie James, Henry James, and Matilda James, I clicked off my flat tab and shoved it in my coat.
This was it. I was on my way down the corridor, everything dear to me was packed in my pockets so that was not saying much about my pathetic life. I was about to embark on a new future. One that I hoped would change the world for the better.
Jack was waiting for me and looked nervous to me. I cursed under my breath at his rigid demeanor. That could alert someone that there was something going on. These people were very good at reading body language. So I quickened my pace to get him out of the courtyard.
I was handed a backpack for the day. I figured I could get away with taking the water and perhaps my rations that were inside.
“You need to relax, man,” I said as I approached Jack.
“I am relaxed! I’m just anxious to see what you got done last night! I just sat there in bed wondering how you would pull this off,” he laughed and clapped me on the shoulder.
“Your lack of sleep has you standing like a robot. Take a deep breath and let’s go.”
We took off for our post, once again heading for Ladymeade Parkway. We were silent until sure we were out of surveillance at the base.
“So, how did you do it?” Jack asked.
I laughed out loud at his eagerness. I stopped walking and he followed suit as I dug in my pockets. Drawing out my new prints, I took one out of the sleeve to show him.
“Here it is…I just have to glue it to my finger. It is clear, it works, and I only have to use it when I know I will need to be scanned,” I said.
“That is amazing, Wes. Truly amazing. I would never have thought to do that. What did you use?”
I gave him the run down of the night in the supplies closet and showed him my altered ID. It was angry and red when I drew up my sleeve but I knew it would heal in time.
We started walking again.
“My name is Winthorpe,” I snorted.
Jack just laughed until he had tears dripping from his eyes.
“Okay, that’s enough I think. Maybe I could just go by Thor for short. He is a legend from another place in the universe who fights to change his world. Do you think he would mind if I shared his name?” I chuckled.
Jack broke out into a new bout of laughter. “I don’t think he would mind at all. But I think Marvel would probably hate you.”
“Most likely,” I replied.
We stopped a spell at the house Jack was working on.
“Been nice working with you, Winthorpe,” Jack said struggling to control his laughter.
“Yeah, take care of that wife and kids back home. I’m glad I met you, Jack.”
Jack just waved to me and started climbing in the rubble. I took a mental picture of him before I turned and headed the distance to the house that would change my existence.
The ground started to rumble under my feet. I felt dizzy, like I couldn’t keep my footing. I could hear matter falling all around me and a scream rent the stillness of the air.
“Jack!” I called out.
Nausea gripped me and when the shaking stopped, I got back to my feet and sprinted to where I had last seen my comrade. I could feel my hands shaking, my breathing was ragged and I thought for sure I would pass out.
I couldn’t see him. I couldn’t hear him. It was like the destruction had just swallowed my friend up. “No, no! Don’t let it take Jack!” I mumbled as I made my way through the large stones and bricks that lie on the ground.
I could hear the dust settling as it fell through the piles of wood and stone, like rain on a metal roof. “Jack!” I yelled out picking up debris and throwing it into the street.
It felt like it took me forever to wade through the aftermath of the small quake. But there, not even too far beneath, was my comrade. My accomplice in this whole charade. He had been crushed, his bones badly broken and his head leaking colors I never knew existed in the human body.
I threw up and the tears came unbidden to my eyes. There was a moment when I didn’t think I could even breathe. This man was a father, a husband, a son…and my friend.
I knew I couldn’t touch him. But I fell to my knees and cried.
When I felt hollow and spent, I replaced the pieces of rock that used to be part of that home…the ones that most likely did Jack in.
Once I gathered myself up a bit and dried my eyes, I realized that my time had come. No one could know about any plan since the only one involved had just died. I scrambled down and ran. I ran fast and hard until I made it to where we had placed the man I would replace in this world.
With every limb of my body shaking, I slipped into what remained of Winthorpe’s home. Frantically I searched for clothes and at long last, I found most of a closet left standing. I stripped my body of my soldier’s clothes and slid my body into the soft fabrics of clothing of quality. If I had been more aware, I would probably have reveled in the feel of them.
There was a bag, a man’s leather satchel that I snagged and tossed all of my paraphernalia in it. Hurrying back to dead Winthorpe’s corpse, I set about the task of dressing him in my filthy uniform. I could smell the rotten smell of decay coming from his bloated figure and I fought back the vomit that threatened to escape me again. I had to exercise control over myself. I didn’t know how much time I really had.
Knowing that the dead man would more than likely fall apart if I dared to drag him, I picked him up and carried him to where I had dug him out.
“I’m sorry about this, chap,” I said with sincerity before dropping him back in the hole and filling it in with the rubble.
It was time to hide. Staying in the house would not be safe, not if another aftershock came through. I could be buried in there. So, I took the satchel and left, not looking back. As I passed around the back of the house, something shone at me in the dusty light. I bent and picked it up.
Carefully I opened up the leather folder that sported a silver insignia. It was Winthorpe’s wallet. I had the man’s wallet. How it ended up back there, I have no idea. But all I could keep thinking was that this was a plan from a higher power. This was my destiny. No matter how humans tried to control the outcome of anything, Fate would always step in and steer people in the right direction…down their path. There was no other explanation.