Copyright© 2012 by Denham Forrest
When I spoke to him the next morning, Doug informed me that Rose had tried to feed him the same sort of ridiculous diatribe as Sylvia had tried to lay-on me. We kind-a wondered where those strange ideas had come from. It sounded like complete ... twaddle, to Doug and I. And, all rather too carefully thought out, for either Sylvia and Rose, to our way of thinking, as well. To put it succinctly, it sounded a little too much like 'joined-up-writing' for either of our wives to have come up with it.
Sorry, but one has to call a spade a spade, and both Doug and I would be the first to admit that neither of our wives were the smartest apples in the box. Oh come on, they were both extremely attractive women ... had they been just a little more ... er, fully equipped in the brains department. Then they surely would have picked up a couple of guys with a lot more of the readies than either Douglas or I had in the bank.
Mind you, it soon became apparent that Doug had been far angrier the evening before than I had. By all accounts – actually we had heard noises that had pre-confirmed the fact -- he had resorted to tanning Rose's backside for her. Somewhat surprisingly Rose didn't appear to have been too ... er put-out, by the experience either. It certainly surprised me some, that those two were so ... kinky.
However, whatever had happened the night before, it didn't stop Rose from informing us that she was joining Sylvia and the four goons, who were going down to the beach for a swim, shortly after Adona and his crew returned the following day.
This news took Doug and me by surprise and we could only conclude that such arrangements had to have been made the day before.
"Funny," we thought, "how neither Rose nor Sylvia had thought it necessary to mention those plans whilst our mutual altercations were in progress the night before." But then again ... on reflection, I don't suppose it was.
While we walked down to the beach... -- Christ, you didn't think Doug and I would let the girls go with those freaks without us, did you? -- Adona informed me that it would be at least a week -- or so -- before the boffins discovered what had really gone wrong with time calculations and make the necessary adjustments to their equipment so they could send us back to the right point in time. Not that I believed much of his explanation or anything much else the bugger said by then.
Although, Douglas seemed to be swallowing every word the History guy told him. Well, it looked like Douglas was from where I was standing.
Look, I'm reading between the lines here. I have no idea why, but I got the impression that – if they wanted too – Adona and his cronies could have sent us back to our own time almost immediately. But by their accounts, the machine they'd used a copious quantity of power. It appeared – or so they claimed -- that they didn't want to run the thing up again, until they were ready to bring the professor Pemberton guy forward in time in the same session. Adona said something about recharging the capacitors, or something stupid like that, anyway. Whatever, that was the impression that I got, or maybe it was the one that I was supposed to get. I told you, I was getting more distrustful of these guys by the minute.
You know, I had it figured, Adona must have come from a long line of politicians. And like all the politicians of today, it didn't matter what he said, I somehow knew it was all a web of half-truths and outright lies; designed to ensure that whatever he wanted (or needed) to happen, would happen. Whether that outcome was to our (Sylvia, Rose, Douglas and my own) advantage or not!
At the same time as Adona was feeding me all this sh ... yeah well. I was pumping Adona – well attempting to –, trying to discover as much as I could about why we'd been brought to that time. Doug was also trying to extract information from the historian guy about why they wanted Pemberton. I learnt almost nothing but Doug kind-of got the impression that they wanted to talk the professor out of inventing something.
"I think they daren't just kill him, because of what we were talking about earlier." Doug told me later, "You never know, he could well be an ancestor of half these people, much as you and I are likely to be. Hey, five kids; you and Sylvy must have really have got your act together once we get back."
"And you and Rose?" I asked.
"Three, according to the professor. He wouldn't go into details; I don't think he intended to tell me that you fathered five children in the first place. Apparently you, or your descendants anyway, are very important and they are shitting themselves on the quiet to get you back home in one piece. Me, not so much, but they are worried about my offspring as well."
"They seem to know a lot more than they are saying about us and our time, Doug. Did he give any hint as to why all this happened? Something flattened the World as we know it, and killed off all the animals."
"Yeah - we did! A nuclear holocaust sort of catastrophe, he's being a little vague about exactly what though. Years after our time anyway ... five hundred years at least. Could be much more, for some reason these guys are a little ... uninformative about actual dates, can't work out why though. Anyway, religious or ideological wars by the sound of it ... He weren't too clear about that either. Whatever after they blew themselves to bits they resorted to chemical and biological warfare, I think. That led to a sort of 'dark ages' again, and it's taken them the last couple of thousand years or so, to clean everything up. Apparently they are still at in some places. There's only about fifty million people left on the whole damned planet now. All ruled by a sort of 'Big Brother' come 'Living God' type character. Seems a magnanimous type though, everyone appears to be happy about it, anyway."
"But these guys might be his henchman, Douglas. You know, on the inside!"
"That's a point, we might only be seeing one side of the coin."
"I'm not sure I like this side." I said, gesturing to the four guys cavorting around in the surf, with our wives.
"Me neither. But probably we'll get a better idea about what's what, when we get to the city."
"They're taking us somewhere else?"
"I got the feeling that they don't want to, but they are worried about our safety out here. But then again, maybe that's the impression I'm supposed to get. Apparently, there are some not very nice wild animals kicking around out there somewhere. Not many, from what I gather; but enough for them to be worried about. And of course, there's the logistics problem; keeping us fed and watered out here."
About then Doug and I decided that it was time for us to go into the water for a while as well. Maybe we thought that those guys were getting a little too familiar with the girls again.
Maybe it was all an act, but one thing we had noticed, was that the four tossers -- for all their apparent machismo – they didn't appear to be able to swim very well, at all. This is supposition, but they appeared very conscious of not going out of their depth. We – or at least I -- had noticed their confusion when the four of us had taken our surfboards along with us; it was obvious they had little idea about what they were used for either. To be honest the idea of swimming in the sea appeared to be quite novel to them.
I'll admit that at first I had taken that with a pinch of salt and thought it had been a come-on where the girls were concerned. But seeing them in the water ... well I'd revised that assumption. There was no doubt that the breakers scared them for a while, at least. That is until they had begun to gain some confidence, from Sylvia and Rose's actions. It was then that Doug and I figured we'd better get in the water a bit sharpish-like.
Once the girls got out into the good waves with Doug and I, they seemed to forget about the other four guys completely. Those four might have been gaining some confidence, but they still weren't enamoured with the idea of being out of their depth. Later, one of the big guys did try to surf under Rose's instruction. But Doug and I had to rescue the sod, when he got caught in a rip. After that happened, the four strangers retired to the safety of the shallows again.
"You noticed the others?" Doug asked when we were sitting on our boards together some way out, waiting to pick up on a good one.
"What others?" I asked.
"The rest of Adona's crew. They've positioned themselves on the high-ground around the beach."
"Keeping an eye on us, in case we do a runner, I should imagine." I grinned. Not that there was anywhere that Doug and I could run to.
"No, they are looking inland. They are guarding us, from something..."
"Or someone?" I interjected.
"Could be. You know, that's probably why those two guys were left behind last night. I've noticed that whenever we leave the sphere, they all get all figidity and those other guys fan out and start scanning the horizon. Either they are worried about that nasty wild life, or there is more than one faction around here somewhere."
"Yes, but I suspect that it's the wild animals. They don't appear to be worried while we're inside the sphere and the door is closed; and that suggests wildlife. Other people could just open the door and walk through it, couldn't they?"
"Good point, but we shouldn't jump to conclusions."
"That's why I told you about my thoughts. Oh, here comes a real doozy, get paddling, George." With those words Doug laid forward on his board and started paddling for all his worth.
It was the biggest and best wave of the whole day, and Doug and I rode the bugger right up, virtually onto the beach, before the tunnel collapsed and broke over us.
Then we swam back out to retrieve the girls who'd wiped-out; probably through ... unfortunate timing. I won't say lack of skill because Sylvia and Rose are as good surfers, as Doug and I are. Wiping-out is part of the game.
The surfing had done something for Doug's and my self-esteem; it also helped that the four tossers couldn't talk surfing with the girls. They had little understanding of why anyone would want to risk their lives in that way anyway. It appeared that -- to them -- being out of your depth in the sea was tantamount to attempting to commit suicide.
I think for a little while, the surfing session reminded Sylvia and Rose why they had married the men they had, and they stuck close to us for the rest of the morning.
Lunch was supplied by Adona's people that day. We'd noticed that they hadn't accepted our offers of food and some of them had looked a little queasy when we had eaten; especially meat.
The meal was carried down from the larger craft and set out for us on Sylvia's and my dining room table. Not all of Adona's people joined us. They appeared to get all the sustenance they needed in liquid form, from bottles they distributed amongst each other almost incessantly. Doug tried some of it and reported that it would never replace a good pint or cola in the popularity stakes. I passed on the offer, after seeing the expression on Sylvia's face when she tried it.
Lunch consisted of fruit, that looked like no fruit any of us had seen before. Indeed nearly all of the food Adona's people supplied us with appeared to be fruit of some kind. However Sylvia and Rose, could somehow discern flavours that were, they suggested, reminiscent of fruits that we were familiar with. Doug and I just shrugged when they announced yet another one.
Okay, I'll admit the taste of one giant berry did remind me of strawberries. But it looked as much like a strawberry as a house-brick would.
As we ate Adona formally informed us that, for logistical reasons, we were going to be transported to "The City", until they'd sorted out their time mix-up. Doug and I had noticed that the city was referred to in the singular every time that it was mentioned.
"Just one city for the whole country?" Doug mused later.
"Well you said that there are only fifty million people left in the whole damned world, Doug. That's less than the population of the UK in our time. They might only need one city for each country."
"Or continent!" Doug observed.
"That's a point, I wonder how sustainable the world's civilisation is, with only fifty million?" I asked.
"Well, it must be, they're still here, aren't they?"
"But who rules out there, Doug, and why are those guys on their guard all the time when we're outside the sphere?"
Adona and the history guy watched in fascination when Sylvia and Rose unloaded -- and discarded outside -- the contents of our fridges and freezers. They certainly weren't going stay frozen for a week or so without mains power and my little Lister couldn't supply power for that long without more fuel. Our hosts, had little idea of what diesel oil was, or where it came from. Although I believe the history professor guy must have had; but he just didn't talk much, especially to me.
I'll go further, the guy seemed to actively avoid me as much as he possibly could.
Anyway a couple of tosser's who'd been chasing round the girls, threw-up and then legged it, when the girls explained to them that the meat wouldn't keep, what would happen to it over the next few days, and why.
"For all their size and macho-ness, these guys don't appear to be as tough as they look!" I observed to Doug on the quiet.
"Are you intending to see if they are, when it comes to fisticuffs?" He asked.
"I'd rather not, if I don't have too. But if Sylvia doesn't watch her step, I might have to come over all macho myself anyway," I replied.
"Remember those bloody weapons they carry, for Chri'sake. And don't get carried away, we need these guys to get us back home."
"If they can, Doug. I'm beginning to have my doubts."
A third craft arrived to fly us to the city. This one was all kitted out inside like the first-class section of an airliner. It even had stewardesses. More importantly, they were the first females that we'd seen.
Douglas's instinctive reaction to them -
"Jesus bleeding wept! Why in heavens name are those guys chasing around after Rose and Sylvia?"
Mine too, I might add! My god, one can say nothing else but, "Those females were beautiful." They knocked every air stewardess, film star and catwalk model I'd ever clapped eyes on into a cocked hat.
They wore the same yellow shirts as the men, but outside their leggings and they were a little longer. More reminiscent of sixties shift-type mini-dresses than anything else, but maybe that's the voyeur in me coming out. Regretfully I have to report that their lower extremities – legs -- were also clad in those same tight ... well jean's, even down to the rivets; but not made of denim, made of some very thin black material, that the guys were wearing.
Yeah I know! Why hadn't I noticed those jean things before, on the guys? Well ... why do you think?
The women wore no bras; that was obvious, because of the sheerness of the shirts -- dresses or whatever you like to call them -- they were wearing. But after careful and considered observation, Doug and I decided that they were wearing thongs beneath the leggings. Sounds better than jeans.
Having climbed into the craft and been shown to our seats by the stewardesses -- or whatever they were supposed to be -- the craft rose smoothly from the ground, circled the sphere a couple of times, and then headed off towards the east.
"Er, who's flying this thing?" Doug enquired after a minute or two.
I had not noticed that no one was sat at the front, like in the drivers seat.
"Computers. I tell them where to go and they do the boring bit," Adona replied, pointing to the communicator hanging from his ear. Then he mumbled something, that I didn't hear, and the craft promptly changed direction.
"Dartmoor, I believe you called it." Adona directed at Doug, as we passed over the highest point of the moor. "I saw you looking at it, Douglas, and thought you might enjoy a closer look."
It was as we were looking at the moor that I realised that, although the craft had had no visible windows on the outside, we could see out through the metal walls. But I never had the chance to ask Adona about the fact, because a herd of ... well, cattle, I suppose you'd call them -- they were big and didn't look like any cattle I'd ever seen before, more like American Bison than anything, big bison at that – had come into view in one of the moor-land valleys. Not far away from them, were two large brown cats, like lions or tigers -- obviously the same genetic family anyway -- only much larger that any big cat I'd ever seen in my life. And there was no mistaking the fact that the big cats were stalking the cattle. But they were gone again in an instant, as we flew on at speed.
"What happened to Plymouth?" Doug asked as we zoomed off moor and flew a little way out over the sea.
"The clean up after the holocaust. I'm afraid that it obliterated all surface trace of your time," Adona explained. "Radiological and biological contamination, I'm afraid. Every inch of the surface layer, at least a metre deep, had to be run through fusion reactors; nothing recognisable is left after that.
"If you were to dig down a few feet of course, there would be traces there. But on the surface, everything was converted into sterile dust and sand. It's still in the process of recovering back into soil in some places. It was all seeded of course, but nature takes it's time."
"Jurassic coast looks like it's gone completely. But that has Portland Bill if I'm not mistaken; but it's an island." Doug added a few moments later.
"Natural erosion Doug, it's been a long time you know," Adona assured him.
Suddenly the craft turned north, inland. Douglas hazarded a guess somewhere near where Southampton should have been, but there was no sign of it or the Isle-of-Wight.
As we flew northwards we found ourselves flying over dense forests. You could say that it looked artificial, and maybe it was; there was a virtual straight line of demarcation between the prairie and forest.
"Damn-it. That's got to be the ruddy Thames, that's for sure; but it's so bloody big." Doug exclaimed, as we flew out over a vast expanse of water.
"It's dammed down river. The Tam supplies all of the city's water and power." Adona informed us.
So we learnt that the name had changed from the Thames to the Tam, in the intervening millennia.
Then very suddenly we were upon it, a single great big shiny dome, maybe a mile or so across and several hundred feet high, with numerous smaller domes neatly arranged around it. The craft flew right around the city -- I assumed that Adona was showing us its extent -- and then came to a gentle halt and hovered for a while, before descending into a space between two of the smaller domes.
It wasn't until our craft landed that Doug and I realised that -- like the sphere we'd been transported through time inside – the domes were not made of glass or metal, but some form of energy.
Adona's men did not accompany us, as we left the craft. He led the four of us inside one of the smaller domes, through a building where a welcoming party of sorts was waiting for us. Not that anyone of them spoke to us, as we passed through what I can only described as an airport arrivals gate.
You know what I mean, there was a place to collect luggage and some desks with guys sitting behind them who I thought for a moment were going to ask us for our passports. Instead they snapped to attention and saluted Adona, who gave them a cursory nod and wave of his hand in reply.
Then he led us out into the vast space of the dome itself. It was much larger than I expected, considering it had to be one of the smaller domes. An odd place rather reminiscent of a town square crossed with a country park. Great paved areas, with rolling lawns in between, and a few single story buildings dotted about here and there rather higgledy-piggledy.
People were lounging around outside them, on chairs and what looked like sun beds, while others appeared to be playing sports on the grassed areas. It was pleasant to note that not everyone wore the same bright yellow get-ups as Adona and his gang.
Mind you, it did appear that the people liked vivid colours. Almost every colour of the rainbow it looked like. Most were wearing the same design shirt and jeans ensemble as Adona, but in many different colours, it stood out that very few were wearing yellow. But then again, some folk, both men and women, were wearing what looked something like Roman togas. Difficult to be more precise because the only togas I'd ever seen were the film industries interpretations of what a toga should look like. But once again they were of a myriad of different bright colours, and only the odd one or two of them were shades of yellow.
We trailed along behind Adona right across the expanse of the dome, until we came to a long single storey building. Dotted about in a wide arc around it, were guys in those yellow shirts again.
"I hope this will suffice your needs. I'm afraid that most of the city is below ground; our people only use the surface as recreation areas, but it was thought that you'd prefer to live on the surface. It's been kitted out with everything we believe you'll need. If there is anything we've forgotten, then please ask one of your guides."
Adona told us as he led the way inside and introduced us to about a dozen young men and women, who, it was explained, were to be our guides.
I kind-a sussed them as minders straight away. Most of them left with Adona, leaving us with a young couple who showed us around our accommodation.
Mind you, once again, the guy had trouble dragging his eyes away from Sylvia and Rose. The young woman couldn't – or wouldn't – stop grinning like a Cheshire cat, at Doug and myself every-time we spoke to her.
To our surprise there were four bedrooms, and it appeared to cause a little consternation in our minders, when we showed preference for only using two of them. They appeared to have assumed that Sylvia and I for instance, would use adjoining rooms. They had to swiftly move around the clothing they had supplied for us.
Yeah, sorry I didn't mention the clothing did I? Well, not the fact that Adona had insisted that we did not pack or take anything with us from the sphere, other than what we were actually wearing at the time.
Mind you, that had caused more than a short delay while Sylvia and Rose changed into attire they deemed suitable for travelling and meeting new people in. Much to Adona's confusion actually, but of course he was used to everyone wearing those same basic outfits.
Adona had insisted that everything we could possibly need would be supplied, and it was. Albeit, that same basic designed clothing, much to the girls chagrin, at first. Well, except for shaving gear for Doug and I – it appeared that our hosts no longer grew facial hair – but that oversight was corrected very quickly. Oh yeah, and brassieres for the two girls by the way; once again an oversight and one not so quickly remedied.
As I said, we all had the same choice of outer clothing, either those shirts – longer dress type things, worn untucked by the girls -- and the jeans or whatever. Or a kind-of short dress-thing, with the toga get-ups to go over the top.
Doug and I both went for the shirt and leggings at first, although they were embarrassingly tight fitting in certain areas. Later we both switched to the toga get-ups.
Yeah well, wearing a dress -- when every other male around, appears to be in the habit of wearing them -- isn't as embarrassing as virtually having your wedding tackle on public display all the time. Those bloody leggings were very thin and extremely ... body hugging. Come on, you get the idea.
The strange thing was, except for the leggings – of which every pair we ever saw anyone wearing, were black. Our shirts, togas, the two girls dresses and everything else, were white.