Ch. 1 — The Missouri Rifleman

  

By: Eugene C. Rideout

 

Ch. 1 — The Missouri Rifleman

The stream of .30-caliber bullets rockets out of the plasma TV, miraculously missing the right arm of the lone young viewer.

The damage to the sofa is massive. The entire right arm is shattered, which renders that end of the seat barely usable.

Severely shocked by the projectiles that have buried themselves in a shower of wood splinters in the lumber frame of the four-seater where his arm had been resting, fifteen-year-old David James Richardson gasps.

The grade ten prodigy stabs at the buttons on the remote control he is using to surf for a program to watch. Now, “I’ve got to turn this thing off, so that doesn’t happen again!” he mutters to himself under his breath.

The intent is to prevent further shots from blasting out of the family’s entertainment center. “Bullets can’t get out of the TV and damage furniture; things like that don’t happen,” he stammers aloud.

He punches at the touch-screen of the set’s remote control, but quickly realizes that, in the clumsiness of his panic, rather than hitting the OFF button, he has instead pressed the CHANNEL button.

The image of what appears to be a World War II American soldier or marine does not disappear. Instead, DJ is almost petrified when the M1-Garand-rifle-toting serviceman suddenly zooms in to point-blank range.

For the first time in its history, the Richardson’s family room is penetrated by the business end of a firearm.

Don’t shoot!” the boy yells.

Instantly, almost without a thought, he begins to poke repeatedly at the CHANNEL button to reverse the action that brought the uniformed man up close and personal, right into the home of the St. Petersburg, Florida, family.

He is delighted to see the warrior rapidly, although at first only in a brief series of jerky movements; then, thankfully, as far as James is concerned, smoothly, back off from his earlier confrontational stance, as the boy deliberately holds the button down.

His huge sigh of relief is clearly audible at the immediacy of the troop withdrawal from his home.

A distinct lack of daylight in the scene causes the teenager some difficulty seeing much beyond one hundred yards or so.

His thoughts revert once more to turning off the set his dad has recently installed in the family’s rec room.

However, it occurs to Deej, before he hits the OFF button, that nobody will ever believe his story in a month of Sundays.

If the lad powers down the TV, he will destroy virtually every scrap of evidence he has of the momentous incident.

Everything, that is, with the exception of the enormous holes gouged into the settee.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to get a second opinion.

What an intriguing and challenging decision the teen needs to make.

He must choose between getting verification of what he has seen and experienced, or, pulling the plug, and thus powering off the set, losing everything.

The damning thing, it, is that the proof of the reality of his experience lies in leaving the TV on and letting someone else see it.

From his family’s experiences, the teen knows instinctively that the intruder is an American warrior, probably from World War II. He cannot conjure up any additional information that would explain the strange, violent intrusion.

All of this prompts many questions: Should DJ fear an increase of danger presented by this, or other armed men entering the house through the HD device?

Perhaps even more importantly, will he be able to control whatever happens next?

If James leaves the set on will it continue responding in a similar way?

#

“Life is great,” is not an expression he is about to use; especially now, after this experience.

School is out for James. It is just before 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 21, 2015.

Heavy clouds are contributing nothing toward making this a fun day. Rain, heavy at times, frequently attended by lightning and its resulting thunder, has not allowed the lad to be an active participant in anything outside the house.

Normally, a sunny Saturday would be taken up with sports, like baseball or soccer.

Today would not give you the impression that this Florida resort city is able to advertise an average of three hundred and sixty days of sunshine each year.

Now, with the gloom of a mid-winter nightfall already set in, compounded by the stormy skies above his home, the youngster is waiting for his parents to arrive from the airport.

DJ’s folks are returning from spending their Friday keeping business appointments, and most of Saturday making family visits in Atlanta, Georgia.

Alone in the house with his older sister, Lyndsey, herself a near-prodigy sixteen-year-old high-school senior, it occurs to the lad that what has just occurred is well beyond fantastic.

No, not the experience alone; that had proven to be phenomenal.

Rather, the feeling to begin dawns on him that by means of a television set, although for but a few moments, the ability to become involved in real-time history has briefly become a possibility for him.

Having ex-military men in the inner circle of his close-knit family, the boy knows enough about the armed forces of the United States to quickly recognize the appearance of American warriors from the various eras.

This includes both World Wars I and II, as well as Korea, and Vietnam.

Like the uniforms of the American Civil War, each of those later conflicts had its own distinctive uniform style, easily recognizable to the discerning eye despite the passage of time.

So, somehow, Dad’s new television has permitted a physical interaction, between the present day in 2015, and the very far distant past of the Second World War.

These thoughts quickly jell in his mind to make Deej realize he has no choice!

“Lynz!” he cries, “come here, quick!”

Alerted by the sound of gunfire, and James’ scream at the marine warrior, Lyndsey Parker Richardson is already en route from her third-floor bedroom to the family room.

As the senior teen present, she feels a need to investigate the cause of the racket her brother is generating.

“What’s all the yelling about?” she demands. The questioning look on her face tells the story. She slowly descends the stairs to the living room.

“Why are you screaming? … What on earth was that shooting?

“For the love of Pete! What in the world have you done to the daybed, David James Richardson?” she challenges the fifteen-year-old by his full nomenclature, staring incredulously at the mangled piece of furniture.

Normally the two share an excellent relationship, but this is too much.

“Just wait till Dad sees what you’ve done to this sofa,” she chides.

“Who cares about the chair,” the boy retorts. “Take a look at this!”

Having little more than a crude idea as to what effect it might have, DJ slowly and deliberately presses the CHANNEL button, even doubting within himself that it will again function as it had before.

Mixed feelings of happiness — it has to be more like vindication, in reality — and fear overwhelm him as he sees, in the half-light of that dawn battlefield scene, the far-off marine slowly yet distinctly getting closer.

He stops before the armed combatant gets within effective range.

“I don’t see a thing,” the girl insists.

Suddenly realizing something that will help him resolve his problems with the doubters later, James slips a new, blank DVD into the recording device attached to the TV and starts the machine, to get a permanent record of whatever happens during the next confrontation, should there be one.

“Still nothing,” the girl harps.

Totally unimpressed at the sight of yet another soldier on the TV, and far away, at that, she asks herself, “Why are the males of this household so fascinated with military things?”

Still intensely annoyed over the massive damage to the piece of furniture, she blurts out: “You’re not showing me anything, DJ. How did our davenport get smashed?”

“He did it!” DJ has trouble containing himself, and excitedly gestures in the direction of the U.S. military man he can see on the TV.

Infuriated, Lyndsey resorts to ridicule: “What have you been smoking?”

This is a ludicrous rhetorical question, but she is trying to illustrate for James that his constantly putting blame on the far distant marine is idiotic, and makes no sense whatsoever.

“It can’t have been him,” she lectures. “TVs don’t do that sort of thing. They can’t just run off and show whatever they want; they can only display the programs the TV stations put out!

“So, David James, that leaves you; what did you do to our sofa?”

“Good grief, Lynz,” he says, “I’ll zoom this guy in again and you can see for yourself what happened!”

Although subconsciously he feels a desperate need to be cautious, he is being forced into shedding his inhibitions.

His sister’s relentless pressure is beginning to get to him.

Once more, the young student stabs at the CHANNEL button repeatedly, finally holding the button down for a brief period.

The Marine private looms larger and larger, until he pulls in so close that the wood-sheathed barrel of his rifle again sticks right out of the TV, a full twelve inches into the room.

Lyndsey screams, “Stop, James!” reacting with shock at this development, having never been exposed to such war weaponry before.

“Sorry I busted a cap at y’all, sir,” the young steel-helmeted stranger drawls. “I dun thought y’all wuz the enemy; it’s a good thing I heard y’all a-speakin’ English. Everything is so damned hostile here on Iwo Jima.

“I’m just a farm boy from Clay County, Missouri, trying to stay alive in this here pesky war! That tends to make you shoot at anything unfamiliar … Please pardon my French, ma’am.

“I don’t see any way that we can ever win this here battle; it just seems to go on endlessly. We landed at 9:00 a.m. day before yesterday, February 19, and the shooting hasn’t stopped since we dun arrived!

“Who are you people, anyway? … How did y’all get here? … What are y’all a-doin’ here? … Don’t y’all know we got a war a-goin’ on?

“Holy smokes! What on earth happened to your love seat?”

“I was just surfing through the channels on our TV, sir, and suddenly you appeared. The chair was wrecked when bullets from your rifle hit it. I’m sorry I alarmed you and made you shoot.”

“Y’all were doing what? … What in creation is TV?” he demands; but suddenly interjects, “I have to go; my sergeant is a-callin’.”

“Before you go, sir! What place did you say this is? Where are we again?”

“This here is the Japanese island of Iwo Jima; it means Sulfur Island. We are about 750 miles from Tokyo.

“See y’all later, folks!” At this, his rifle is withdrawn without further incident from the HD screen of their dad’s favorite toy.

The two Richardsons exchange the thought that the Missourian looks incredibly young as he lopes off in his camouflaged outfit to rejoin his squad.

Now Lyndsey watches studiously, and with a much more intense level of interest, as her brother again backs off from the area using the CHANNEL button.

As the view slowly fades of the now well-lit background, she notes, with his agreement, that the overall scene is that of a huge battlefield located on a small, partly flat, island.

Its most prominent feature, making it appear to be aesthetically unbalanced, is its being completely dominated at one end by an unusual looking mountain about five hundred feet high; probably, the girl adds, an extinct volcano.

“Lynz, that marine has no idea what a TV is! … How could that be? … What planet is he from?”

“Deej,” she asks, ignoring his questions, “what do you think would happen if you tried pressing a different button on the remote?”

The question brings renewed feelings of trepidation to the lad.

“Lynz, this is not a game, you know,” he cautions. “What happens if we get up close and you get shot?”

The girl continues her quest, “Well, just take it easy! Go slowly! Be ready to reverse whatever you do.”

“Hey, hold on! You’ve tried the forward and the reverse; now try the left and right buttons and press them only once or twice, just in case. Go slowly!”

At that crucial moment, the doorbell rang, insistently, twice.

“DJ, just let me get rid of whoever’s at the door and I’ll be back; wait for me!”

#

“Oh! Hi! … Grandpa Richardson! What brings you out on a dirty day like this?”

“Hello, Lyndsey. Boy, I’m glad I found somebody at home. I had a late appointment at the hardware store and thought I’d drop by on the way home.

“I just wanted to say hello to you folks. Is your dad home?”

“No, Gramps. They’re just flying in from Atlanta; Dad had a few sales calls in the city, and he took Mom with him yesterday morning. Today, they were planning a couple of family visits while they were there.

“They phoned a little earlier to confirm that they had made it to the check-in at Hartsfield and told us we could expect them back here about 7:00 p.m., in a couple of hours.”

“What are you two doing? What’ve you got for homework?”

“Grandpa Buck, our homework is all done; but something very strange just happened with our TV. Could you take a look at it and let us know if you have ever heard of that sort of thing before?”

“Do you mean your dad’s new HDTV? Hey, I hope it’s not broken.”

“No, the set’s OK, Gramps; it’s what just came on it that’s upsetting us!”

“Whaddya mean?”

“Come down to the rec room and DJ can show you what happened to us just now.”

“James, it’s Grandpa Buck!” the girl calls down the stairs.

“Hey, DJ; how’s it going? Lynz tells me something unusual happened to your TV. Holy crow! What on earth’s damaged your sofa like that?”

“Well, I was just surfing on the TV for something to watch and this happened, Gramps.”

The youngster presses on the button that, a little earlier, caused the island to loom large on the HDTV, and zips in to the area where the young Missourian had appeared previously.

This time, however, the young American warrior is nowhere in sight.

“Seriously, Granddad, I zoomed in on an American soldier and gave him a scare, and he fired his rifle into our daybed! He only just missed me!”

The combat zone is filled with the never-ending sights and sounds of fierce battle, the crackle and roar of out-of-control fires, and multiple explosions.

To be prudent, he backs off from the scene until the coastline of the island with its blob of a volcano away in the distance is all that remains in sight.

Buckminster Richardson needs to see no more. Although born in 1957, years after the war ended, he proclaims dogmatically, “That’s Iwo Jima. That’s what it looked like back in 1945.

“I recognize Mount Suribachi at the far end.

“What you see there, Deej, is the east side of the island, where the U.S. military landed its troops for the invasion.

“My, what a fight the Marines had for that tiny chunk of real estate, let me tell you!

“My granddad, that’s your great-great-grandfather, was drafted into the U.S. Army back then, and he fought against the Japanese in the Pacific.

“I’ll bet that what you’ve found is some history program that is showing old footage of the fighting for Iwo.”

“You’re right about the island. The marine just identified it as Iwo Jima, and told us it is close to Japan, but Gramps, this is not a TV program.

“This is live! That’s the strange thing that’s happening to Dad’s new television!”

“It can’t be live, son; TVs don’t do that sort of thing. They can’t just run off and show whatever they want; they can only display the programs the TV stations put out!”

“So far, you’re the third one to say that. We both said exactly the same thing. But that’s not true in this case.

“Look!” As he speaks, Deej ‘gasses up’ the big TV and ‘drives’ it in to Iwo Jima again. Somehow, James has to prove to his grandfather that his own earlier statements are accurate and true.

He moves the screen view to display the area where the initial confrontations had taken place.

At first, he again finds only scenes of battle; more thunderous explosions, the constant rattle of innumerable small arms.

These will not convince his grandfather of anything. To the older Richardson it still looks like a regular history program being shown on TV.

Lynz had been a tough nut to crack, but she finally saw the light. Now Gramps has to become a convert too.

“James! Look! That’s the guy from Missouri; over there, on the right!”

“See, Gramps. There he is!” echoes her brother. “That’s the marine who shot up our sofa!”

He can now point out to his grandfather the warrior his sister has identified, sprawled out on the near side of a large boulder.

The marine is firing his rifle at a Japanese soldier.

The diminutive enemy is carrying what looks like a torpedo, to be used to clear a small group of American soldiers armed with flamethrowers off a small rise in the terrain.

Deej cruises in close to the Missouri lad, “Can we help, sir?” he calls out.

“You know, I can barely see y’all, folks; and we might be able to make use of that.

“Would it be possible for y’all to carry me across to that huge rock over there?” he drawls.

“If I’m having trouble spotting y’all, it may be that the Japanese are not gonna be able to eyeball us either, and I may be able to get off a few shots at that guy.”

“Sure, climb right in.”

The young marine tosses his Garand rifle through the portal into the rec room, quickly following it with his body. Whose jaw drops? … Buckminster Richardson!

The polished floor does not fare well at the hands of the marine combatant. A Garand tips the scales at over 9 lbs. The multiple steel parts on it leave many more dents in the shiny floor than do the marine’s hands and knees.

“OK. That rock over there, just about fifty yards out. If y’all could take me there, that would be swell.”

James complies quickly without a word.

Lyndsey and her grandfather are speechless at this turn of events, but nonetheless they continue to pay rapt attention to the goings-on.

The youthful combatant, complete with rifle, exits rapidly through the HD screen, not realizing that this is really a time machine.

Its likes he has never seen before, and, in all probability, will never see again.

From the haven of the large rock, the marine blasts away an entire eight-round magazine. The empty clip automatically ejects with its very distinctive ‘ping’ sound.

“I dun missed the son of a gunner,” he exclaims, for the second time heaving his Garand through the screen onto the Richardson’s wood floor; naturally, causing ever more dents.

His average-sized frame follows and he draws himself up to his full 5 feet, 9 inches and moans, “For some reason those cartridges were like they wuz duds!

“I could see the bullets just a-fallin’ out of the end of the barrel of my rifle. I can’t believe that; eight misfires out of eight rounds!

“Anyway, I appreciate y’all a-helpin’, folks. Say, remind me again, what was it that happened to your chair?”

Lynz speaks as DJ ‘drives’ back to the young marine’s original location, “It’s a long story.”

“Thanks for your help, folks.”

“Who are you, sir? What is your name?” Lyndsey inquires of the uniformed man.

“Bartlett James, Jr. of the Clay County James family, ma’am. Thank you again for your help.”

Gathering up his Garand, he clambers through the TV, for the third and final time, to disappear into the broad daylight of an Iwo Jima morning.

Buckminster confesses, “Deej, I’m so sorry I doubted your word. I’ve neither seen nor heard anything remotely like that, on TV or anywhere else. What an incredible experience.”

As the older Richardson speaks these words, DJ pulls back from the heavily contested area until, once again, the east coast is the only part of the island that remains visible. Mount Suribachi is still obscured by the smoke from the incessant, heavy naval artillery fire.

Lynz responds to Buck’s comment by expressing her own thoughts on the matter, questioning where the phenomenon originated.

“Who sent this portal to us? No one else has this capability with his or her TV.

“Is it from heaven, or the angels? I can’t think of any other source for it. Who has this potential, and is able to pass it on to others?”

#

“Gramps, when you rang the doorbell, Lynz and I were just about to try a couple of experiments to find out if we are able to change the view.

“We know we can move in and out from a scene, but we want to see if we can move around in other directions.”

“Hey, don’t let me stop you, kids. This is fascinating.”

Iwo Jima is still in sight in the distance, and, with one finger poised to get out of whatever he does, James pokes at the VOLUME button.

The result seems negligible. The volcanic island appears to move very slightly to the left.

A digit to the VOLUME button simply causes the Pacific rock to move back to its original position, and a second push of the VOLUME button takes the island fortress an additional tiny notch further to the right.

A third finger-press on the same button has an identical effect.

“Deej, try holding that button down … to see if it repeats that movement,” the girl suggests.

A steady press on the VOLUME button now causes the Japanese-held island to move, slowly at first, then smoothly, then rapidly, from the center of their view until it almost disappears from sight off the right hand side of the screen.

All that now remains in sight is the deep blue Pacific Ocean with hundreds of ships of every imaginable size, shape, and purpose, either at anchor or moving around near that island coastline.

“Look at all those ships. What in the world can a fleet of that size are doing?” the boy queries.

Granddad breaks in, “If you’re able to move left and right like that, why don’t you navigate over there, and let’s all have a look.”

The boy uses the remote, and, pressing the touch-pad keys he has already experimented with, moves Gramps, his sibling, and himself, in closer to the action that is taking place offshore of the embattled Iwo.

Drawing in to within a half mile of the closest capital ship, the three can see the whole of a large naval squadron, sporting a number of huge aircraft carriers. The war birds from the flattops are lending much needed ground-support fire to the Marine grunts on the island.

Included too, are six massive battleships, a number of cruisers, and, finally, many destroyers, all using their huge rifled guns.

Amid a dreadful roar, they continue landing salvo after salvo of shells on the slopes of Mount Suribachi, the strange-looking igneous extrusion-like hill at the southern (Tobiishi Point) end of Iwo Jima.

Other U.S. landing craft and many other small boats can be seen, packed with men heading for the island battlefront.

[If he could turn in his grave, Ferdinand Magellan, the Portuguese explorer, who died in 1521 CE, undoubtedly would surely do that. The Pacific Ocean is called thus from its title in Latin, “Mare Pacificum,” or, “peaceful sea,” an appellation given to it by Magellan himself.]

There is no mistaking this for a “peaceful sea,” here offshore of the 8-square-mile island.

“Kids, it’s hard to believe that this is really happening.” Once again, Buckminster expresses his feelings of wonderment at what his grandchildren have shown him by means of the high-definition set.

“Listen,” Buck’s excitement about James’ discovery shows. “You’ve already figured out how to close in and back off from a scene, and you just worked out how to move from side to side.

“Now, this is up to you, guys, but how would you feel about trying some of the other buttons on the remote; like the MENU button or the GUIDE, the MUTE or CANCEL buttons?

“Go easy when you press them. Just be ready to reverse any effect that you think may not be desirable.”

“Gramps, I just got through telling Lynz we could get ourselves killed if we wind up on the wrong end of somebody’s gun again!”

“Yes, I recognize that, DJ, but, what I reckon is that things are falling into place far too easily here. What I’m thinking is that every button that you’ve tried so far has had a logical function attached to it.

“Don’t forget what just happened to Bartlett James a few minutes ago. He had eight consecutive misfires with his M-1. Now, exactly what, or who, made that happen?

“Is Lynz right? Has this fascinating portal been sent to you by some higher power? Maybe by someone who hates violence? I’m just wondering if this goes any farther, because there just seems to be some sort of order to all of this.

“If you’d be willing to try it out, it may be that you’ll find other effects that are going to help you to make better use of this system, or machine, or capability, or gizmo, or whatever it is.”

Thus is born the title by which this phenomenon has come to be called, and will in future be known, the System.

“Well, I’ll tell you, the more I think about doing this, and I sure wish I had a gun, that’s all!”

“How would you feel about shooting one of our marines?” Buckminster questions.

“I definitely wouldn’t want to do that, Gramps.”

“Listen, even though it’s still broad daylight through the set, just remembers what Bartlett James said about the visibility of the portal.

“It’s not very likely those folks on the ships or the island will be able to see us anyway.

“Just be ready to backpedal out of anything undesirable you get into, and remember, take it easy!” Buck encourages.

“You still have to try out several of the buttons yet, Deej,” Lyndsey prompts.

In response to his sister’s suggestion, James asks Lynz if she would keep notes of any buttons he pushes. There must be no case of “I don’t remember,” attached to this operation.

They both know that successful use of the System in the futuremay rely on good records from these early activities.

Granddad wears a smug smile, while Lyndsey, notepad in hand, peers inquiringly over DJ’s shoulder; and the lad prepares to start pressing buttons.

Deej, continuing the earlier conversation, “I tend to agree, Gramps. Every push of these buttons convinces me more that Lynz may be right, and this is some kind of gift. Anyway, here goes with the VOLUME button.

“Ready, Lynz?”

“I’m with you.”

Now, on the left side of the remote, “VOLUME button: one push … Did anyone see anything happen?”

Lyndsey, “It looks to me like a video that has skipped. What do you think, Granddad?”

“I agree with your sister, Deej, it looks like a piece of movie film that has been joined too many times.

“Try that again; only hold the button down this time. Gently, take it easy.”

VOLUME: Down, and hold!”

“Look at the ships scurrying around; it’s like time-lapse photography. Hey! It’s getting dark already.”

“Granddad Buck, that’s not a projection effect; that’s us! We’re moving forward in time! Let me go the other way with the GUIDE button.

“I hope you’re right about there being some sort of order to this … Awesome! … It works too!” the boy chortles.

“It’s getting lighter! … The whole scene is moving backward again … now forward … now backward … then forward once more … it’s high speed motion, Gramps, but still live action.”

Lyndsey exclaims, “This is spectacular! There really is organization to this!

“What in heaven’s name is going on? Why is this happening to us?

“We’re able to make the TV travel through time. Gramps, did you say you had heard of this happening to someone else?”

Buckminster repeats, “No, Lynz, just the opposite. I have never heard of anyone with a capability like this before.

“But I’d be willing to bet there are billions of people who wish they could have it, though.”

Now, in an episode that comes upon them without warning, in sudden horror the trio watches helplessly as six Japanese kamikaze pilots, carry out a suicide attack on one of the flattops.

Taking advantage of low-cloud cover, they plunge their bomb-laden airplanes toward a large aircraft carrier and five of them succeed in deliberately crashing onto her decks.

The sixth craft is disintegrated by anti-aircraft fire, from the guns of the picket line of destroyers set up as an outlying guard against such attacks.

Unfortunately, although the physical damage to the ship itself is not severe, the raid, at 5:00 p.m., costs the lives of one hundred and twenty-three of her crew.

DJ ‘drives’ backward in time once more to the beginning of the kamikaze attack, then backs up briefly and advances slowly to the stern end of the huge aircraft carrier where the name Saratoga is displayed in huge letters.

For safety’s sake, James moves slightly ahead in time, to avoid possible harm to his family from future attacks on the flattop.

“My goodness! What on earth have you found here, Deej, Lynz?” Buck exclaims, still in wonder.

Because the enormous fleet is such an awesome sight, the siblings and their granddad spend quite some time cruising around the area of the Pacific island, watching the ships of the Iwo Jima task force mostly at anchor.

With DJ’s help, Lyndsey takes turns ‘driving’ the System around the ships. She practices moving in time, both forward and backward, to be able to locate different scenes, until she becomes quite adept at making changes.

The trio marvels at aircraft take-off and touchdown operations, crowds of landing craft circling in the wake of their mother ships.

It is intriguing to the kids how the planes and boats are able to move around, in the sky, or on the sea, respectively, without ever crashing into each other.

Buckminster, an ex-military officer, knows the long hours, days, weeks, and months of practice that go into making such operations run smoothly.

So, both DJ and Lyndsey make use of this opportunity to give each other suggestions on how to ‘drive’ the portal around the fleet.

They watch the ships and small boats carrying personnel moving around.

The larger ships are going about their business; the landing craft shuttling scores upon scores of men from ship to shore.

Each vessel is making the most of the approach of darkness for cover from enemy fire originating on the island.

The experience the siblings are getting piloting the device around using the remote control will later prove to be of benefit in another sense.

They still have to demonstrate the discovery to others to prove that their eyewitness accounts are true, and, eventually, also in their experimental activities.

Still on the left side of the remote: “OK VOL, Lynz.” The boy presses just once. “Nothing!”

“Press it two or three times; if that does nothing then hold it down!” comes from the grey-headed one.

“Ooooo-eeeee! Look at us go up in the air! Look at the lights on those ships! This is better than being in a helicopter.”

“Now make it go down again, James.” Lyndsey directs. “Easy … go slowly! It’s hard to see the ocean in this light … You don’t want us to go swimming, do you?”

James releases the CANCEL button, and the System, as Buckminster Richardson has unofficially named it, settles down just three or four feet above the surface of the Pacific Ocean.

“Granddad Buck, you were right; each of the buttons we’ve tried so far has its own function.”

Lyndsey voices a profound conclusion, “Do you realize the meaning of what the three of us are witnessing here?

“According to what Deej just did, we can watch Saratoga being attacked, as many times as we want, always live … and we appear to have access to things that happened a long time ago.

“But, each time we watch something, it is as if it is just occurring for the very first time.

“The System is allowing us to travel through time to 1945; three-quarters of a century ago.

“From what you said, Gramps, no-one has ever done that before.” she says.

[Through their mobile phones, from Internet Web pages, a little later, the folks discover the official Navy record of this kamikaze attack, which lasted only three minutes.

The action actually started at 5:00 p.m. on February 21, 1945, on USS Saratoga, a flattop built from what was intended to be a battle cruiser hull, and commissioned by the U.S. Navy in 1927.

This seemingly insignificant detail is not presented as trivia, but rather, as vitally important and meaningful data. It establishes an indent on the yardstick of time for the trio.

It unerringly identifies the point in America’s history at which the kids and Buck Richardson have experienced their confrontations with the Clay County, Missouri, marine.

This is awe-inspiring, inasmuch as it verifies for the siblings and their granddad that the trio has traversed close to 7,780 miles (each way) of real estate.

In addition, they have literally traveled backward in time to a date on the calendar when this country’s thirty-second president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is alive and well, and serving as Commander-In-Chief of the military forces.

Finally, that they have actually seen young Americans fighting a desperate enemy of the United States; seventy years in the past, back in 1945!]

#

“Kids; this is your call. Ladybird would be thrilled to experience this. Do you think it would be OK if I got her to come to the house, so that she can see it too?”

“Well, Gramps, the word is going to get out sooner or later. I was hoping we’d be able to keep it on a need-to-know basis, until we’ve been able to have a word with Dad and Mom, but I don’t see what harm it could do if Grandma Ladybuck came and had a look.

“Will you call her and get her to drive herself here?”

“She can call a taxi if she wants to; just as long as she doesn’t take too long about it.”

#

“Buckminster! What’s this all about?” Ladybird Richardson calls out, as she sweeps down the stairs, making her grand entrance. She is in the company of Lyndsey, the designated doorkeeper.

Affectionately known to all as Ladybuck, she is a grand lady who has skillfully blended her school-teaching career with her wifely duties and her other fulltime job, raising their three children.

“Cripes! What’s with the sofa?” she gasps, letting go of her college-diploma and masters-degree English-language skills in favor of more readily recognizable vernacular expressions.

Precisely twenty-five minutes have elapsed from the time Buck called his wife, until her ring on the doorbell.

“You won’t believe this, darling! Get a load of what happened to Deej and the TV a bit earlier. The kids have been showing me this stuff ever since I came here from my appointment with the consultant at the Hardware Doctor.”

“What are you talking about, Buck? What’s happened?” she asks impatiently.

“Deej was surfing on Russell’s high-def TV a couple of hours ago. I honestly can’t figure out what happened.

“There was a lot of lightning and thunder for quite a while earlier and I guess it’s always possible that the house was struck by lightning; but it’s had a very strange effect on the TV.”

“Your point is?”

“Sorry. DJ, can you show Ladybuck the carrier you showed me before?”

“Did you get me all the way over here just to look at some aircraft carrier on TV?” she asks.

“Yes, but you never saw one like this before, my love,” Buckminster assures his wife.

Deej again draws the System up toward the offshore fleet; changing time slots so that a pristine USS Saratoga is once again clearly in sight at point-blank range, close enough to permit Ladybuck to be able to see the crew moving around on her flight deck.

“OK, I’m waiting … What’s happening?” she queries yet again. Her patience is beginning to wear thin.

“Oh, my word! What’s that smell?” she wants to know. “Is that something in here?”

“That’s the ship,” Buck explains. “That’s the smell of the smoke from the funnel, and the avgas fumes from the aircraft that are landing and taking off from the carrier.”

“What is this, ‘Whiff-o-Vision’? You can’t smell things that are on TV.”

“Grandma, this isn’t an ordinary TV program,” Lyndsey explains.

“This is not video or old pictures. This is live. You’re looking at the U.S. fleet offshore of Iwo Jima, during the Second World War.

“Now look at what happens. Watch those six aircraft diving down onto the flight deck of that aircraft carrier. That old flattop is USS Saratoga on February 21, today’s date, but back in 1945.”

“Good grief! Why did they do that?”

“They’re kamikaze aircraft. The pilots crash their planes onto the carrier to try to sink it. They individually committed suicide in order to do that,” the girl continues.

“Each of those aircraft was carrying at least one bomb, so there’s no way any of those pilots could have survived. We’ve watched that attack several times now, live each time.”

“How can this happen?” Ladybird exclaims. “It can’t be live, guys! TVs don’t do that sort of thing. They can’t just run off and show whatever they want; they can only display the programs the TV stations put out!”

“Grandma, you’re the fourth person to say that today. That’s exactly what each one of us thought. But, this is live, and kind of scary, if you ask me?”

As Lyndsey speaks, James again moves forward briefly in time for the sake of their own security.

“Where are your dad and mom? Why is it they’re not here with you?”

“Darling, Russ and Dianne are on the way home from a trip to Atlanta,” Buck volunteers. “The kids say they’ll be here in a little while; about seven o’clock.”

“Hey, I can’t wait to hear Russell howl when he sees that chair,” the older woman grins. “How did it get damaged anyway?”

Again, the story of Bartlett James, the marine from Clay County, Missouri, is related, and another routine inspection of the enormous holes in the sofa takes place.

“Let me understand, are you telling me that this is not on the TV, but rather that I am able to watch it live through the set, as if I am looking at it through a window?”

“Grandma, what a useful illustration. Yes! That’s it precisely,” DJ commends.

“This is unbelievable,” she says. “It’s hard to comprehend how something like this could happen.”

“Let’s hope Dad is as easy to convince as you are, Grandma.”

Lyndsey wants to make sure no one misses the point, “I hope you realize what James said about today being February 21, 2015, here in St. Pete’s. This is the seventieth anniversary of that 1945 attack on Saratoga.”

“Say, kids, it’s only just after dark at Iwo Jima, but it’ll be dark and close to dawn by the time we arrive back home in St. Petersburg. It would probably be a good idea to move backward in time for a few hours. That way we can travel in daylight. You can make a final adjustment when you get the System back to St. Pete’s.”

“Granddad, that sounds like a good suggestion.”

Deej reverses the view until it appears to be just after sunrise on Iwo, then turns the System onto a northeasterly course until he figures that he will bypass Hawaii on the way back to the United States.

Next, he ‘guns’ the remote control into forward motion at ‘warp speed.’

Thanks to the International Date Line, the 7:00 a.m. time at Iwo Jima turns into 1:00 p.m. the previous day at Honolulu, and it remains daylight for quite a while.

Ladybuck first spots the islands of Hawaii on the right side of the screen.

That verifies, at least, that their vector is in the right direction and so Deej just edges it slightly to the south to insure passage over the North American coastline in the Los Angeles area.

From the Hawaiian Islands area to the California coast takes a lot less than one minute of time. It is 4:00 p.m. The Los Angeles area becomes visible, but there is something strange to the eye. No highways crammed with speeding cars hove into sight.

The terrain below is unbelievably free of urban development; the enormous build-up of the post-war years simply is not there. This obviously is not the Los Angeles of the twenty-first century.

As the homeward journey progresses, DJ stops the System, making a slight adjustment to their location in the stream of time. This is because, while it is 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time in Los Angeles, it is no longer daylight in St Pete’s, three hours ahead, on Eastern Standard Time.

The boy makes a minor time reversal to ensure that their hometown arrival will be before sunset, which should be occurring about thirty minutes after touchdown.

It is now a simple matter to make a minor change to their course, and direct the System toward the east coast and the Atlantic Ocean.

The quartet arrives in short order over the eastern seaboard expecting to see the Oceana Naval Air Station at Virginia Beach, where the ramp should be crowded with dozens of F-22 Raptor fighter-jets.

Their aircraft-loving eyes would have been richly blessed if the homeward flight could be slightly interrupted by a slow and deep undulation along Oceana’s Runway 05R which, under normal circumstances, provides the best view of the parked fighter jets.

The oscillation might have happened, but, nothing! It simply isn’t there!

No Oceana! No jets! Rather, it appears to be a small airfield located on what looks like a scarcely lit farmer’s field.

“Ding!” Granddad Richardson has an answer for what has happened. “Got it, guys! What you’re looking at here is what will eventually become NAS Oceana, but we’re here in 1945; at least, we think it’s 1945. The F-22 Raptor is a product of late in the twentieth century, fifty-some years in the future.

“All you’re likely to find at Oceana in 1945, if anything, is a supply of Chance-Vought F4U Corsairs.”

“Buck! Let me see if I can verify that on the Internet on my phone, and get back to you,” Ladybuck offers. She picks up her mobile and strolls off into the hallway to concentrate on the data.

As he climbs up out of the Oceana area, the youngster makes a gentle turn just south of Virginia Beach and ‘beetles on down’ to Jacksonville, Florida, where the group turns south southwest and crosses the hinterland of Florida toward Tampa Bay.

Because it sprang to public attention between the Spanish-American war and World War I, Orlando is there as a well-developed area, but no sign of the huge theme park that will become such a great contributor to its economy in later years.

Deej and his family are by now not surprised by the absence of this prominent feature of Central Florida’s landscape.

DJ takes the System forward across the Bay; past what the history-conscious group comprehends probably is not going to be MacDill Air Force Base, but rather, Southeast Air Base, Tampa.

Tampa Bay passes beneath them in a mere moment and they arrive at the site of the beautiful St. Petersburg pier, although this edifice has yet to be constructed there in decades yet ahead.

Alongside that lay the Albert Whitted Airport, a naval-cadet training station for much of the war-years period.

For generations of pilots not yet born, it will provide take-off and landing services, as well as to many hundreds of thousands of small private aircraft over its many years of faithful service.

“I found it, Buck!” Ladybird reports. “In 1945, the NAS was known as Naval Auxiliary Air Station Oceana; which lasted until 1953, when it became NAS Oceana. It started out as a three hundred and twenty-nine acre facility in 1940, and then slowly expanded until it reached its present size.”

“Look at that, Gramps!” The teen ‘drives’ slowly but surely up to a building on Second Street South, and ‘parks’ the System well within sight of the front of the structure.

It is the home of the St. Petersburg Sunshine-Herald. There, emblazoned across a huge metal billboard, is an enormous clock and calendar.

By what this modern family is accustomed to, the timekeeper is ancient. It is not quite a sundial, but it certainly is august. It is an aged and obsolete clock by today’s standards, with an analog display that shows the time with huge and elongated mechanical hands.

However, of even greater interest is the calendar segment. Although incapable of speech, it seems to be screaming at the family, “February 21, 1945.”

At last, there it is; independent confirmation. An uninterested party verifies beyond a doubt that the group has been able to travel backward in time, seventy years to World-War-II-era 1945.

So, regardless of the time adjustments the group has made on the way back to St. Pete’s, the newspaper’s calendar still makes the statement that they are on the same page, date wise.

Irrespective of the display on the clock-calendar at the Sunshine-Herald Building, or what time it is on Iwo Jima; according to the clock on the wall, it is actually 7:00 p.m.

And, right on time, the carport door opens and Dad’s voice calls up to the family room for help with the bags from the taxi.

####

 

Link to Chapter 2: “Harrison Connor, Cleveland, Ohio”

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