Time Will Tell
"Watch it!" the elderly curator shouted as one of the khaki clad man tripped over a loose tile and bumped into him. The centuries old glass specimen jar Hobbs had been holding fell to the floor with a resounding crash.
"Are you all right Hobbie?" Lee Crane asked as he knelt on the buckled wooden floor, now puddled with shards of glass and vintage preserving fluid. Ebenezer Hobbs wearily knealt down to retrieve what he could of the splattered remnant of …whatever it was.
"Lee boy, of all the stupid, adlepated…no, not like that, there's glass all over the place. I'll go to the broom closet and bring something flat, so we can scrape up the…thing. Did you hurt yourself? Your hand's got a quill or something stuck in it."
"No I'm fine, looks kind of like an outsized bee stinger, doesn't it," he pulled it out with a wince. "Besides, that brandy it's been soaking in all these years must have killed any germs. I'll be right back."
"No hurry, not that we've got to help any last minute visitors to the place," Hobbs sighed," I'm just glad your Nelson got the stuff before lettin' it all go to rot when the museum went bankrupt."
"Hobbie, you know I tried everything I could to help save the place…"
"I know laddie, I know…"Hobbs used Lee as a support to rise up off the floor.
"No, you stay here. I'll go get the stuff and clean up the mess …any idea what it is?" he asked of the purplish blob like mass.
Hobbs laughed. "I doubt if I could pronounce it if I could read it," he handed over a soggy and now stained label on a shard of glass.
"The Admiral'll know, I'm sure,"Crane answered.
"Aye, he's a smart one, he is. And so are you. I never told you this before, but I’m mighty proud of you. We all are. Of course, we all thought you were a bit touched in the head when you decided to go into those tin cans you call submarines; but here you are the Captain of the one of the greatest submarines in the world."
"One of the greatest, Hobbie? Remember you're speaking about my best girl."
"Ach, there you go again. Lee boy, your mother is right, you need a vacation. A long one. Away from any body of water, includin' a mud puddle."
Crane laughed and went to find a mop and bucket and something to scrape up this collectible from the Hammersaw Nautical Museum that Nelson had purchased outright from the bank. More of a gesture to Lee than his actual desire to own the place. As it was, Nelson decided to sell the building, while retrieving the hodgepodge of contents for cataloging, examination, and possible inclusion in his own collection of biological specimens, nautical lore, and just plain stuff. He'd said some of it may come in handy on day.
It was about noon, and the Parrot's Perch wasn't very crowded, despite the dark storm clouds, thunder and lightning. Of the patrons who'd sought shelter or only a warm meal, most were old-timers, some of whom were playing checkers and casting curious glances at the man in uniform. Nelson knew he should have changed clothes. He stood out like a sore thumb, just a Seaview did in the harbor. He'd been concerned that the vessel would incur some local interest, but aside from some folks pointing from shore and a few small cabin cruisers or the odd fishing boat, she'd been pretty much left alone. Well, it wasn't exactly tourist season, and New Englanders were known for their reserve. As a Bostonian originally, he could relate.
He was enjoying this brief respite while volunteers from his crew carted boxes and crates from Hammersaws to Seaview. Sitting in the small eatery, he relaxed and enjoyed the laid back hometown ambiance of the place. His meal of fried clams arrived in a cheap plastic basket, accompanied by some crab cakes and a mug of steaming hot apple cider, just as Crane entered the establishment, and hung his windbreaker on the communal wall rack and waved as he spied his boss.
"Over here, Lee," Nelson called over to the younger man. I took your advice," he indicated his meal, and bit into another crab cake with a smile.
"Same here, Mrs. Brown," Crane intercepted the waitress as he was about to join Nelson.
"Lee!" she squawked in delight as she rushed over to embrace him with a hug. "About time you showed yourself!
Nelson rose as the woman accompanied Crane to his table.
"Admiral Nelson, may I present Mrs. Abigail Brown, the best cook in town!" he grinned, "and my 4th grade teacher. So we'd better watch ourselves."
"Lee!" she brushed a small piece of glop off of Crane's collar, then returned her attention to Nelson. "Oh, the big man himself? Pleased to meet you, I'm sure. Please, sit down, what a gentleman. We don't get that kind of courtesy much anymore. Some others, " she said loud enough to be heard by the entire establishment, and indicated some of the other Patrons, "could do with it. Oh, Lee, it's good to see you! Why," she sat down in the booth, next to Nelson, and leaned across to touch Crane's cheek, "you're looking fit. From what your mom said, I would have expected skin and bone! But then, she's always complaining about you not being looked after properly. Ever since you went off to Annapolis. So, are you here on business or just visiting? Kind of odd you bringing your submarine along with you this time."
"A bit of both actually. The Admiral's purchased Hammersaw's."
"That old junkheap?"
"At least it's interesting,"Nelson said disarmingly,"And remember, one man's junk could easily be another's treasure, however after looking at this," he showed off a musty and luridly painted volume of Sea Myths, "I'm not quite sure."
"Well, you never know. I remember seeing something on TV with an old book like that and it was worth a lot of money."
"I'm actually more interested in the aquatic specimens."
"Ooohh. Those thingys in the jars? I remember taking Lee here with the rest of the class to see 'em years ago..I hate to say this Admiral, but even he said they were, how was it you put it Lee? Booorrrring!"
Nelson laughed,"He may have been right. Let's just say, I'm intrigued by some of them. I really don't think for example, that the merfish is a mermaid. I think somebody sewed on an aborted fetus to a fishtail and I understand many of Hammersaw's exhibits were originally purchased from a traveling salesman."
"Some of them were real though certainly?"
"Without question. Welcome additions for any marine biologist."
A timer dinged, effectively interrupting the conversation.
"Meal's on the house," she rose,"I'll bring your usual, Lee. It isn't every day we get to welcome you home, luv, your's too Admiral."
"My dear," Nelson rose, "may I say that I will certainly recommend this establishment to my friends, for the food, and the charming company."
"Oh gosh,"she blushed and bustled to fetch the order from the kitchen.
"I think you've made a conquest," Lee smirked as Nelson sat down.
"Is everything aboard Seaview?" Nelson ignored the comment.
"Well, not quite everything."
"What do you mean by that?"
"We…I dropped one of them."
"Here you are," Mrs. Brown placed Crane's meal at the table, "I wish I could stay and visit, son, but, as you'd say, duty calls," she hurried over to one of the tables she'd been summoned to.
As Lee was about to explain, he and Nelson could overhear a conversation about them as she took an order, such as 'No kiddin?' 'The Crane boy?' ' Thought it looked like him' and 'About time he came home'.
Nelson chuckled, "You're famous."
"Only to my mother, infamous to everyone else."
Nelson laughed heartily,"So, which of my new specimens went splat?"
"I have no idea," he pulled out the soaked label from his pocket,"it's all faded. We scraped up what we could of the thing and put it into a plastic bowl with a lid. I hope it'll keep."
"It should. Probably worthless anyway."
Crane looked at Harriman Nelson and said gently,"You did it all just to help me and Hobbie didn't you? He told me if it weren't for the retirement package that you insisted the bank maintain from the purchase he'd be in big trouble."
"What's a friend for, besides, I can't think of a better way to use up some of the family funds, so no uneasy looks about it. I'm glad to help out."
"I don't know how I can ever thank you."
Hobbs is one of your oldest friend's so he's mine too. Enough said."
"Let's just enjoy our food. It looks like it's going to be a real gully washer out there in a few minutes."
"How about another hot apple cider?"
"You know, Lee," Nelson relaxed, "I could get used to this."
"Well,"Mrs. Crane stood, hands on hips,"about time you came in from the storm."
"Storm?" Lee looked about nonchalantly as he and Nelson dripped profusely in the entryway of the Crane house."What storm?"
"Upstairs, now. Both of you. I'll put out some dry things, and these," she fingered their soaked shirts,"are going in the dryer. I won't have your crew say I sent you both back to your boat with pneumonia. Lee'll show you where to stuff your things down the laundry chute into the basement."
Within minutes, both men had changed. Nelson was garbed in some sweats, and Lee had put on some old slacks only a few inches too short for him, and a sweater that had 'McGuffy's High School' emblazoned on it. Both were barefoot as they met in the upstairs hallway.
"What is that, mothballs?"Lee sniffed himself.
Lee began to laugh, and Nelson joined in as they descended the stairs to be immediately assailed by Mrs. Crane halfway, who shoved two thick pairs of work socks into their hands.
"Never mind that they're borrowed from next door." She stood in their way, there shaking off her umbrella, until both had clad their feet in the woolly mammoths only a few sizes too big. "Now come on down for some hot coffee."
"Ugh, mom," Lee said, " we're kinda full."
"Nonsense. You need something warm,getting soaked like that, and in this season," she laid a hand on Lee's forhead,"you may be coming down with something already. You look a little bit flushed. I'm getting a thermometer."
"Kitchen. Move it!"
"Anyone ever tell you that you remind me of Doc?"
"Yes, Lee, every time you're home, which isn't often enough, now get some hot coffee in your stomachs, both of you."
"I wonder if I ought to draft you as one of my officers,"Nelson laughed.
"And then…" Nelson stopped in his tale of one of their more exciting and non-classified assignments as the grandfather clock bonged 11 PM. "Is it that late? I'm afraid we're going to have to get going."
"Already? I was hoping Lee might be able to stay overnight and… by the way, I haven't seen him since he went upstairs a while ago. I hope his temperature hasn't gone up any."
"It was only a half a degree above normal."
"I know, but I'm his mother, I can't help it."
"I'll go check on him."
Nelson knocked on the closed bathroom door, "Lee, are you allright?"
Lee threw up in response to Nelson's call.
"Lee?" he opened the door. "Lee!" he looked at Crane, curled over the commode, clutching his stomach.
"Must…must have been bad clams…"
"What is it?" Mrs. Crane asked as Nelson came downstairs.
"I'm not sure. Maybe food poisoning."
"The hospital,"the TV reporter droned on the morning broadcast, "has confirmed today that Seaview's Captain, our very own Lee Crane, may have been poisoned by an unknown species of sea creature. There had been concerns about food poisoning from the Parrot's Perch, but that's been ruled out by the health department and blood tests.
"Commander Crane's symptoms are something out of a horror novel. He's in great pain, and it's been rumored that his eyes have begun to leech tears with traces of blood in them. Physicians are very concerned and are stumped on the actual cause of his distress.
'There is some credence that Crane may have been infected by an item in the Hammersaw collection. The Admiral, a noted marine biologist in his own right, and is assisting physicians in trying to discover and neutralize whatever it is that is causing Crane's distress...and now in other news…"
"Admiral," Dr. Conway sympathised,"we don't even know for sure that thing was what poisoned him. None of the antivenums and serums we've made from that sample are working. Adrenelin's no good either. Possibly the brandy neutralized an essential part of the toxin necessary to create an effective antidote for the creature, if that's what it is, or it's just one of those poisons that can't doesn't have an antidote. What's odd, is that whatever this contagion is, it's somehow responsible for neutralizing sedation we've tried on him. I'm afraid it's going to be rather excutiating. I hate to say it, but the sooner he looses conciousness, the better, for his sake."
"I just can't believe it, I can't believe it," Sharkey moaned as he spoke to Kowalski, one of almost everyone not on watch who'd come ashore, waiting for news, hoping, praying, as the Captain's condition grew worse and worse."They moved him to an isolation ICU. So he won't be disturbed by…hell, they moved him there so nobody can hear him…I saw him. God, it was awful. He's trying so hard not to scream…" Sharkey gulped, "they said…they said if they can't figure anything out, he's gonna' die!"
The mutterings and speculations stopped abruptly as a spent Mrs. Crane was escorted through the lobby, draped on a minister's arm, sobbing hysterically. Instead of following the two into the chapel, Nelson and Jamison wearily joined their men.
Jamison paused as he stood before the anxious cew, "It's hopeless."
"Damn that whatchamacalit!" Ski bashed his fist against the wall, "I'd make a deal with the devil if I could go back and stop it from ever happening in the first place!"
A flash of thought whipped through Nelson's mind, "Say that again." He furowed his brows in concentration. "If we can repair Pemm's time travel booster we can…"
"Go back in time and keep the skipper from getting stung! Ski said.
"From bumping into Hobbs and breaking the jar!" Sharkey added.
"But do you know how to work the thing?" Sharkey asked, " I mean if you can fix it? It was all busted into pieces!"
"We have to!"Nelson knew he was groping at straws, but it was all he had and he forced himself to think. "Perhaps…perhaps with electronic and microscopic imaging, we may just be able to see where the joins were, the order they were placed, etc…maybe we can determine how it works from the connections. But, " he hesitated, "if we do this thing, you all have to agree to it, to a man," Nelson said firmly."There could be…consequences in the future. The Captain had qualms about Pemm's time traveling. How changing the past would corrupt the future…but what kind of future will it be if we can't save his life? And our future hasn't happened yet!"
"What do we tell his mother?"Chip asked.
"That we've got an emergency top secret mission…she'll understand that."
"She'll curse you till the day you die for leaving Lee to die alone with only her at his side if this doesn't work," Chip said, "hell, you're like his brother…"
Lee writhed in agony, his eyes closed in an effort not to cry out. It felt like knives cutting, twisting into to his gut, his arms, legs, and even his fingers. His head ached, pounded, and his throat was raw from heaving up blood and phlegm. IV's were attached, a Foley was in place and an emergency colestomy had been created to reduce the dysentery type flux. He'd complained to Nelson with a show of lightheartedness that if he was going to die, he'd rather do it aboard Seaview. It had been awhile since Nelson had accompanied his mother downstairs, and she'd come back up alone. In a way he was glad. It hurt to much to breathe and it would be hard to carry on a conversation of any kind. It was only a matter of time before they put him on a respirator. And then…and then…
"Admiral?" Lee called out hoarsly.
"Lee? Honey, it's okay, I'm here," his mother ran her hand through his hair ever so gently as even his scalp had become inflamed and raw. "Nelson had to go away. Seaview had an emergency. I don't know why other submarines couldn't go and do whatever it is they called Seaview to do and…."
"I wanted…to say…goodbye.." he gasped.
"I wish I could take the pain away from you!" his mother lost it then, and wilted against his bedside and cried. "Oh Lee, My baby! My baby!"
"Where are you?" he moved his hand, which she took gently in her own as he struggled to breathe.
"Yes, honey, I'm here," she motioned to a nurse, who examined his eyes and shook her head. Lee was blind and his breathing was even more labored.
'Lee, no wait.."
She reluctantly nodded to the nurse who with the attending doctor inserted the respiration tube down lee's throat. As it helped him to breathe, sightless bloody tears streamed down his face as he squeezed his mother's hand for the last time.
"Will it work?" Patterson whispered from his console aboard Seaview as Nelson held and made a few more adjustments on the repaired pocket watch.
"Man, it had better," Ski whispered back.
Time was running out. Lee was now on complete life support and finally comatose. Jamison had to be dragged away back aboard Seaview in the hopes that he could help convince Crane when they went back in time,not to help with any of the Hammersaw items, and to stay safely tucked in aboard the sub.
To a man, all had agreed that saving the Captain's life had priority over anything the future could bring. And now, it all depended on the little device the Admiral held in his hands. What if he'd made a mistake putting all the broken pieces of it back together and they went back to the days of the dinosaurs, or forward to God knew what?
"I wish Pemm were here," Ski said.
"Well, "Mr. Pemm suddenly appeared, "why didn't you ask?"
"But you're supposed to be dead!"
"Nonsense, as I've told you before, I might not have really been there at all when I died, but if you can't comprehend that, let's just say I simply escaped in the nick of time!" he laughed, "oh my, a pun! Admiral, The devise you so gallantly tried to repair is utterly worthless now. "
Nelson took a breath and pressed the plunger at the point in time he'd set. Nothing happened.
"You need me, admit it. You don't even know how it works let along to progam it correctly. If you're willing to make a deal with the devil like Kowalski here, you'll agree I'm a good substitute. You need me to save Crane's life. And I need a small… favor."
"You've said that before and I regretted it, twice. Why should I trust you?"
"Because my dear Admiral, your friend and beloved Captain will die in minutes. Even for a hick town like this, the media is making a big deal of it. He's on a respirator now, did you know that? Not that he notices anymore, being in a coma. What difference does it make if I send you back in time instead of you?You have no choice, unless you're not really his friend, but, perhaps I was mistaken, goodbye then," Pemm prepared to press his device.
"Wait…damnit, allright, alright!"
With a grin, Mr. Pemm pressed made a slight adjustment to his pocketwatch. Seaview shuddered, once, twice.
Nothing had changed in the harbor. It was still the same shore, the same harbor. The crew hurried to make ready the small inflatable boat to take Nelson ashore to Hammersaw's.
It was about midday, but the schooner Wayfarer was in full sail, five dolphins riding her prow while storm clouds were beginning to form on the horizon. Reluctantly her youthful Captain was about to turn her to shore when he spotted something he'd failed to notice before.
"What the…"he stared at the sight with a look of wonder. "Wow! Ahoy there!"the boy yelled excitedly, as he maneuvered Wayfarer alongside Seaview. "What kind of crazy boat is that?" he called out, as her crew were appearing topside. Securing Wayfarer, he swung himself over and aboard Seaview's deck with a strong rope."This is a submarine? Yeah, gotta be. Weirdest sub I ever saw," he happily and uninvited inspected the craft. "What's her name?" he asked of the men prepping the inflatable.
Nelson cleared his throat to stop Kowalski from answering, having no desire to alter history by revealing too much, even to this innocent child.
"Where's the Captain?" Nelson asked of him as he gave Wayfarer a glance.
"I'm her skipper."
"Yeah, yeah, and I'm John Paul Jones," Ski said.
"Look, Captain kid…."Ski said sarcastically.
"See for yourself if you don't believe me," he flashed a grin."Can I go inside?"he asked of Nelson.
"Sorry, but we're going ashore."
"Aww gee," the boy kicked his foot out in frustration. "Why'd anyone want to go ashore when they have a submarine."
"Mr. Morton," Ski approached the officer on the deck, "I checked the schooner like you said, but nobody else's aboard, the lifeboats are all secured. I just can't find anyone, there's this though," he handed the XO some flyers as he noticed the boy lieing down on the nose, staring down at the observation nose windows in fascination, unsucessfully trying to reach the transparent plates.
"Hmm," Chip noted, "Wayfarer Cruises…"he turned his attention to the boy who was now animatedly speaking with the Chief.
"Who knows how long he's been alone out there," Morton mused. "Unless he really is her skipper." He cleared his throat, "Boy, over here. Just how did you come to be alone on…" he looked at the flyer," Wayfarer."
The boy looked wooden.
"No-one is going to hurt you and…"
Just then Mr. Pemm emerged topside, " I must speak with the Admiral."
"Please, it's important. I seem to have made a mistake."
Morton turned, and seeing that Pemm wasn't joking, excused himself to one side, motioning the Chief to look after the boy, granting permission for him to go below deck with a nod.
"Can I look through it?" the child asked about the periscope, as he xplored the control room.
"Yeah, okay, but…"Sharkey pushed the red button to raise the scope and the child grabbed the handles and swung around in great circles, his eyes glued to the viewer.
"Hey this is great! Enemy fleet approaching! Prepare to fire torpedoes! "
Morton jumped down from the ladder with a scowl on his face, and noticed the scene, hurring over to the periscope island, "What are you doing? Give me those,"he foled the periscope's handles down and glared at the boy. "I didn't give you permission to take over….Sparks, contact the Admiral and have him come back. We have a problem. O ' Brian, dive the boat."
"So we're not where we're supposed to be," Chip said coldly as he handed Nelson the working device.
"No, no, no,"Mr. Morton," Pemm insisted, "we're where we're supposed to be, just not when we're supposed to be. We're some 20 odd years further back from when Crane was stung. I can't imagine what happened. I was certain of my calculations."
"So what do we do now?" Morton asked.
"Well," Pemm said,"first I have to dechipher exactly when we are…"
"You mean you don't know?" Nelson interrupted sarcastically.
"As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I need the information so we can go forward to where we need to be."
"We'll have to deal with the child first," Nelson said, "we just can't leave him here after what he's seen. It's a fair guess we can't let him tell anyone about what he's seen either, or the future will be affected, his, even ours. I'm glad you kept him aboard Chip."
'What a mess," Morton said.
"That's an understatement."
Meanwhile, Captain kid, as he's quickly been dubbed by Ski's Pals, had gone, albeit reluctantly, to the crew's mess where a small group of men had been gathering, though by now warned and wary not to reveal anything of importance to their guest.
"Do I gotta?" he asked as he saw the plate of sandwiches, and hot tomato soup.
"Ain't ya hungry?" Chief Sharkey asked.
"No, I'm not, and I wish you'd all stop treating me like some kind of baby. I'm fine and I'd like to meet the Captain."
"Uh," Sharkey stammered, "maybe later…first, you'd better eat something, if only to make the Admiral happy."
"Why, what's he gonna do if I don't, shove me in a torpedo tube?"
"Perhaps, should the situation warrant it," Nelson responded from the doorway. "At ease men, I'd like to see our guest privately. Come along with me lad."
"I ain't your lad, cheech, you sound like somebody's Irish uncle or something," he stood up but stayed where he was.
"Admiral,"Morton's voice came across the PA. "We show a small craft approaching about 2 miles away, profiles like harbor patrol. I'd like to take her to the bottom."
"Good idea, Chip, with their antiquated equipment we should be able to avoid detection, but make it silent running to be on the safe side.
"Attention all hands," Morton's voice came through the PA."All hands, silent running!"
As the great craft went through the many procedures to submerge, and slipped below the waters, the boy watched in excited awe as he stood at a 40-degree angle and drinks sloshed over their rims if the men weren't careful. He was about to say something when Sharkey slapped a hand over his mouth.
They could hear the props above them slow and stop. Nobody made a sound as they descended. At least tried not too much as Sharkey felt the boy's fist in his stomach and couldn't help grunting. The kid put his finger to his lips and grinned sarcastically. But at least he'd been released from Sharkey's hold. Nelson motioned him to hold on to something but the boy stuck out his tongue in response.
Suddenly the sub settled on the bottom with a lurch and the boy spilled onto the deck. There was something about Nelson's motion for him to stay put and quiet that instilled obedience.
"Are you sure you saw something else?" the patrol boat's Captain asked of a crewman as the Wanderer was secured for towing.
"All I know is I saw something like a giant sea cow under the sailboat's port side, kinda glowing, going deeper and deeper till it vanished."
"Hmm. I don't like this. Yesterday a man died after being in this same area, and now you say you saw a weird biologic…and to top it off we find a sailboat's in the same place, abandoned. It's always been a spooky place. My great great grandfather Obediah told me about a sea monster that…."
"Excuse me, sir," one of the crewmen approached, handing the Captain a radio report.
"Oh shit. Get a dive team ready!"
The radio reporter continued,"Is there a monster in Bungle Bay? Early tonight the coast guard reported the sighting of an unidentified creature near the sailboat Wanderer. But the coast guard had no time to investigate a sea monster, as they searched in vain for the son of the sailboat's owner, presumed fallen overboard and drowned. According to his hysterical mother, she'd no idea he'd taken the boat out, as he's not allowed to go sailing by himself, and despite all the best efforts, the search for 8-year-old Lee Crane has been abandoned. In other news…"
"Turn it off," Nelson ordered from the control room, as all hands looked over to where the boy now sat on the periscope island kicking his heels against the metal rim below.
"Well," Lee said defiantly as he saw the men staring at him,"she was just sitting there. Why shouldn't I take her out?"
For a moment, no one knew what to say or think. They'd come back in time to save Crane, and here he was, although a little shorter and a lot younger.
Nelson ran a hand through his hair, and was about to say something when Mr. Pemm coughed.
"I almost forgot about you," Nelson said.
"May I speak with you?"Pemm asked meekly.
"My father's gonna' kill me,"Lee interrupted, and stood, "Look, it's been real fun bein' aboard this classy pigboat, but I really gotta' go."
"Yes, yes, a moment," Nelson said,and stared at Crane. "I'm sure you want to go home, and you have a lot of questions, and I'd like to accommodate you, but right now, I'm afraid you're going to have to stay aboard for awhile while we figure… things out. Chip, take care of it will you? I'll be in the nose with Mr. Pemm."
"You'll be sorry, you all will, when my pop hears about this. Kidnapping, that's what it is, kidnapping!"Lee said with all the bravado he could muster as Morton told Ski to escort him of the control room and to the guest quarters.
"Is that before or after he kills you?" Ski was heard to say as he urged the boy on by his shoulders.
"Who are you people really and what is this boat? You ain't no Navy sub," Lee asked as the two traversed the companionways toward the guest cabins.
"No. We're not Navy, not exactly. We're a research sub. The Admiral's a marine biologist. We use the sub for him to explore the sea with," Ski answered non-challantly.
"You mean he dissects fish and stuff?"
"Yeah, I suppose you could say that."
"Eeeyooo.They called you Kowalski… "he mused and gulped,and whispered in horror,"Russian spies!"
Ski snorted, "Russians? Look, " he said gently, "we're no spies and we're not Russians. We're all decent law abiding Americans, satisfied?"
"Well," Lee hesitated, "if you were Russian spies that's what you'd say, wouldn't you?"
"Hm, how can I prove it…I know, here, look at this," Ski pulled his jumpsuit down over his tattooed arm.
"Satisfied?" Ski raised an eyebrow at the boy. The tattoo had US Navy with a sailor's hat over it. " I got this during my hitch before I joined things here."
"Doesn't prove a thing," Crane said.
"Look…wait…"Ski stopped by the deserted crew's lounge and bent down over a magazine wall rack."What would Russians be doing with American magazines, answer me that."
"Well," Lee rifled through a few pages of the boring technical zine, but suddenly stopped and whistled at the full nude layout of a buxom redhead in the Sexpot Sally that spilled out of it, "Wow!"
"Hey!" Ski yelled as he tried to grab the sexy magazine away from the boy. "How'd that get there,don't rip it out!Give me that!"
"Stop pullin!" the boy griped, just as Sharkey appeared.
"What's going on here?" he took in the scene right away. "Hand it over kid, now."
"Ahh man,"Lee groaned, as he handed over both the zine and the centerfold.
"Kowalski! You're supposed to takin' care of him, not contributing to the delinquency of a minor."
"I ain't no delinquent, " the boy said, " let me look just a little more, Chief, pretty please?"
"Pretty please? Oh kid, you need to get away from the apron strings. No, this is adult stuff, now, get going, like you was ordered."
"Gee whiz, everybody treats me like a child," the boy whined.
"Yeah Chief," Ski surprised himself by coming to his defense,"what harm was it?"
Sharkey he put the offending magazine back in it's hiding place,"I said, take the kid to his cabin! Now!"
"That's Captain Kid to you Chief!" the boy said to Sharkey and stomped over to the hatchway, and stuck his tongue.
"Well, this is just dandy,"Nelson paced his cabin as the errant crewman stood before him.
"I'm sorry, sir,"Ski said, "but I…"
"Kowalski do you have any idea how very nearly you could have fouled everything up even more? What if he'd seen a date on those magazines? What if he has, and they just haven't registered in his mind yet?"
"But he thought we were Russian spies and now he doesn't."
"Be that as it may, you acted foolishly, and I want your word that you won't try any such stupid stunt again, is that clear?"
"Good. A girlie magazine! I want to get to the bottom of this, and get that smirk off your face. I don't mind extracurricular reading, but this, this…in the hands of an impressionable boy… now, listen up, "Nelson changed the subject, "Mr. Pemm is certain his calculations are correct after all, and that we're in the right time and place to prevent Captain Crane's death, but the how or why is beyond us other than finding a live sea-creature that matches the one from the museum. We must find one, in order to make antivenum. It could be a trillion to one shot, but it's the only one we have. Our own sample of tissue is in the lab, so we can try to identify any similar creatures we may happen to find. Now, while the rest of us will do our utmost to find said creature, you will guard the boy. I don’t want him out of your sight, day or night. You'll even bunk with him. He will not, I repeat not be allowed access to any printed materials, library matter, or such thing that may give away our being from the future or what he'll become. He already knows too much." Nelson sighed and put out his cigarette, "However, what's done is done. And as much as I'd like to keep him confined to quarters for his own protection, I can't find it in my heart to make him a prisoner. Just keep him out of trouble until we send him home, and that's an order."
"But whyyy?" Lee whined, as he was nudged into the lower bunk.
" 'Cause I said so," Ski answered as he tucked the boy in.
Just as quickly the boy untucked himself, clad in an oversized shirt which came down to his knees."I'm not sleepy, and I still think you guys are kidnappers. Probably want a bunch of money so's the Admiral can buy another sub. And where's the Captain? Proably threw him overboard and he's been all eaten up by sharks. My mom was cryin' . You heard the broadcast. She thinks I'm dead. That's mean."
"We'll return you home soon enough. I sure as hell want to, so don't worry. Now go to sleep."
"I gotta pee."
"You just went."
"I gotta go again."
"Well, hurry up!"Kowalski ordered. He'd only been baby-sitting Captain kid for hours and was exhausted. He'd watched his nieces for his brother Stan on numerous occassions but they were nothing like this!*
"I'm sorry Mr. Morton,"Ski said a few minutes later as Doc examined his sore knee in sick bay, "he said he was having trouble with the head, and when I went in to help him, he pushed me down and I bashed my knee against the pump. When I managed to get up and out he was gone. I called you right away."
"Any luck Sharkey?" Morton called into the mike.
"No sir, the kid's vanished."
"Sir," Ski said, "he thinks we're the bad guys."
"Hardly surprising from his point of view,"Nelson said from the doorway, "I may regret this, but I don't think I have much of a choice, " he picked up and mike and clicked on the PA button, "Now hear this, this is the Admiral. Lad, sorry, Lee, if you'll come to the nose, I promise we'll take you home as soon as possible. We're not kidnappers, or Russian spies. We're simply…on a life and death mission. I can't expect you to believe that but it's the truth," he was about to put up the mike but quickly added, "scout's honor. "
"Ski, return to your regular duty schedule when Doc's finished. We've already pulled the genie out of the bottle."
Nelson sat in the nose, contemplating the depths. He'd ordered Seaview off the bottom, but not far above it and the electroneon creatures of the deep cast weird reflections on the windows.
"Well," Nelson asked without turning, as he heard the rather hesitant footsteps from the spiral steps."You finally decided to make an appearance…. Lee, over here son, sit down."
"Who are you?" the boy said cautiously as he obeyed.
Nelson sighed and said simply, "In a nutshell, we're trying to find a species of sea creature in an attempt to make antivenum to save our Captain's life."
"Well why didn't you say so?"
"We…never mind..you believe me?"
"Don't get me wrong, I haven't really decided yet,"Lee said cautiously, "what kind of creature? Just the other day my pop and me took a guy out fishing and he got bit by something and died a day later. It looked kinda like a cross between a cuttle fish and a sea snake, but all purply and squishy looking…"
"Did you catch it?" Nelson grabbed the boy's arms.
"Yeah, we caught it, but it crept it's way out of the ice chest and plopped back into the sea when we weren't looking."
"Do you remember where?"
"Well, not exactly, but it was around where Seaview came up."
"Would you recognize it if you saw it again?
"I think so…"
"Come with me," Nelson practically dragged the boy towards the lab.
"I'm not sure," Lee examined the specimen, "the one I saw was a lot bigger, not as dark. And it had yellow spikes….and was about this big," he stretched his arms wide.
"This is all that's left of ours, we needed it at the hospital. But could this could be piece of such a creature?"
"Maybe. Sure looks like it. Doesn't smell like it though. The one we had smelled like hot grilled sausages, kinda garlicky."
"Garlic? Are you sure?" He quickly he rifled though box after box stacked high in a corner until he finally found what he was seeking.
"Sea Myths ?" Lee asked incredulously of the huge and smelly book from the 1700's which showed a ghastly giant octopus with sailors in it's clutches as it had them for lunch.
"Wait, wait," Nelson turned the pages until he stopped on one and ran his finger down the first hand accounts. "I seem to remember something….ah, here it is," he began to read, "Account of Captain Obediah Smith…
'It was still night in a third phase moon. We suddenly smelled garlic, all around us, which made us uneasy as we were 600 leagues from any land, and were busy with a harrowing storm. The lightning lit up the sky again and again. Suddenly the critters were off aways starboard, big purple things a man's outstretched arms span across, they were, with yellow spears shooting out what looked like roe, and spraying foam up and over themselves, right beside us, and a couple of leauges away too. It was there in the distance that the mermen came up out from underwater, ghastly, horrible looking mermen with tentacles coming out of their faces, and humps on their backs like deformed camels. The heavy waves and darkness hid most of them, including their beast of burden, biggest sea cow I've ever seen, water washing all over it as bit bobbed up and down, it's eyes a glowing. As suddenly as they appeared they sank back down into the sea, just as the day broke, leaving what was left of the purple critters and roe all pulsing on the surface, which wasn't much. I ordered them scooped up, thinking it might be a tasty treat, but both the flesh and the roe was worse than any goodwife's cooking, and they stung like hell…..'
"Roe…eggs…reproduction…."Nelson pondered aloud as Lee looked through the book with distain, "chemical changes …no mention of the Captain or his crew getting ill…this could be an important key…and it's the third phase of the moon now, and it's almost dawn! But where the hell did it happen?"
"You sure you're not aliens?" Lee asked of Ski in the control room after having watched the flying sub dock after her fruitless and quickly aborted evening recon. Seaview had surfaced in the chop, and divers in protective gear stood by on deck with net guns ready."It sure looked like a flying saucer to me. And those planes you spooked sure scared it back here in a jif."
"Sometimes FS1's mistaken for a UFO, but that's another story." Ski knew Nelson had only grudginly allowed an aerial glop search hoping any such spotting by men of the time would be attributed just to that.
"So we just hang around here till the sea blobs decide to come up and fool around?" the boy snickered. " Mermen and their monster sea cow?"he laughed." What a bunch of cra…"
"Ski, pay attention to that screen," Morton interrupted, "anything profiling like our blo…sea creatures, sing out, even if they're miles away." He turned his attention to the boy,"I'm sorry Lee, but this is not a time for chatter. Go back to your quarters or be quiet, but don't bother anyone."
"What's going on here, Chip?" Nelson came over.
"Lee's been bothering all the men at their posts. Frankly sir, he's in the way."
"I was only interested…"Lee complained.
"Lee, I think Commander Morton is right. We have a very important job to do, and the men must give their instruments and assigned jobs their undivided attention. You can understand that, of course you do."
"Yeah, I understand," Lee pouted. "I understand just fine," he cast Morton a glare and with a little more vigor than necessary stomped out of the control room aft.
"Don't worry about it Chip," Nelson said, "you're right about him being in the way…if he only knew this was all for him…"
"I thought you'd be in the control room, where all the excitement is," Mr. Pemm said to the boy as Lee sat down in the wardroom dejectedly.
"They don't want me around."
"I know the feeling. They don't like me either."
"I want to go home."
"What's keeping you?"
"Perhaps you could just slip away."
"How? Swim all the way home? I don’t even know where we are now."
"There are ways, lad, trust me."
The air vents were easy to crawl through and it was without difficulty that Lee opened the hinge and crawled down into Nelson's cabin and unlocked the door.
"Very good, lad!" Pemm closed the door quietly and began to rifle through Nelson's property, stopping in front of the safe."It must be in here. Oh, don't look at me like that. I told you it's my property. I'll help you get off the sub later."
"But why did the Admiral steal it?"
Pemm looked at the child benevolently, as he picked the lock successfully, and held the pocket watch, "Jealousy, sheer jealousy. Typical for a pirate."
"What's going on here!" Nelson boomed from the doorway.
"You stole his watch!"Lee shouted furiously, amazed that he must have eyes in the back of his head to show up just when….
"I did no such thing," he grabbed the device out of Pemm's hand, "and what are you doing here?"
"Give it back!" Lee kicked Nelson in the shins.
"Stop it! "Nelson tried to grab Lee but the boy was too quick and in the scuffle he managed to pry the watch out of Nelson's hands when he bit them and darted out of the cabin.
Nelson immediately noticed Pemm's smirk.
"Get that grin off your face Pemm, you knew that would happen, didn't you? All right, what now?"
"Only Time will tell," Pemm snickered.
"That's all we need," Morton griped, as Nelson explained the situation, "Chief, take every available man and search for Crane, if he presses anything on that watch we could end up a million years from now!"
"Lee," Nelson spoke into the mike, " Lee come to the nose at once. You don't understand. I'll try to explain, but that is not a pocket watch, and I'm not a thief. The device is very dangerous and… and top secret. Just set it down and leave it alone. Lee, Lee, answer me!"
But there was no answer as the child had snuck into a small conduit to escape detection from one of the search teams and was worming his way aft to who knew where.
Two hours had past, then ten, then twenty. There had been no sign of the creatures, nor their pint-sized passenger.
"Admrial," Chip asked, "you don’t' think he could have…could have…"
"I don't know Chip. If Lee's pressed a button and sent himself through time…and all by himself…get Pemm here on the double."
The novelty of crawling through vents to escape capture was quickly evaporating. Time an again Lee tried to find a shaft or tube that would lead back to a corridor, but to no avail. He was getting confused in the maze of conduits and piping. He couldn't find a way out to get back to Pemm. He couldn't find a way to get out at all. He was lost. "Stupid watch!" he flung the device against his prison in fear coupled with anger. It opened up and Lee was witness to the weirdest psychedelic display of colored lights he'd could ever have imagined.
"What the…"Nelson watched too, as the entire boat inside and out was bathed in spectacular rainbows of colors.
"All right Pemm, I want an explanation, and I want it now!"Nelson spat.
"Oh, you mean the diaphanous display? The psychedelic show? I can't possibly imagine."
"You're lying, and if you're such a good time traveler, you also know where Lee is! Tell me!"
"I haven't the slightest idea."
"There's something about 10 miles off, "Ski said " on the surface. But it profiles like an old fashioned sailing ship, a multiple masted vessel."
"Admiral," Patterson called out," I'm picking up some schools of some small creatures rising to the surface. I think they match the profiles of the blobs."
"Hey, did you hear something?"Ski asked as he led one of the search teams, corridor by corridor, compartment by compartment.
Unintelligible muttering, something that sounded like wailing, a few thumps, and a few choice words came from inside one of the smaller chambers that contained a twisting maze of pipes.
Ski banged on the larger of the small pipes, "Hey! Is that you kid? Come on, answer me! We're not gonna hurt you! You wanna be stuck in there till you die?"
There was no response, then Ski had an idea." Have it your own way then, at least you won't stink up the boat while your body decays and crawls with worms and turns into a skeleton. Come on guys.." Ski indicated to the team to fiegn lessing footsteps away and waited.
After a few minutes they heard a slight scuffling and Ski pointed to the pipe from which it came, and ever so quietly they unscrewed the bolts at a join. When the last had been removed, they quickly pulled the o-ring off." Okay kid," Ski commanded, " we're getting' you outta there, whether you want to or not!"and a dirty, moist, and worn out little boy spilled out from his prison.
"Hold him," Ski ordered, as one of the team summoned the Admiral.
"It's not yours! It's not!" Lee shouted as he saw Nelson approach.
"Calm down! There's an explanation for everything. The watch, hand it over."
With hands which still clutched the now closed device and with a huge frown, Lee reluctantly did as he was bid.
"You did too!" yelled Lee in Nelson's cabin, held firm by Ski.
"For the last time, I didn't steal the device," Nelson continued to explain things, "Mr. Pemm lied. I simply locked it away for our own protection, your's included."
"That's the stupidest thing I ever heard! Time travel? With a pocket watch? What kind of a dope do you think I am?"
"Look, against my better judgement, I've told you that we're from the future. Pemms' devise is the how of it."
"Well, if he brought you here, it's his invention, and you stole it! You're a pirate, just like he said."
"Look," Nelson ran a hand through his hair, "Pemm's always has an ulterior motive, we just don't know what it is yet this time. And when you banged his devise against pipewall and it opened, it brought us back even further in time…."
"If you can travel through time, then send me home to mine!"
"I'm not sure if we can," Nelson said seriously, " but I promise you I'll do everything in my power to try."
Seaview bobbed and twisted in and under the growing waves.Nelson had decided that the search for the specimens would go on for when and if they returned to their respective times. As for Lee, well, in spite of regarding Nelson as a certifiable nut case, he'd agreed to help Ski on lookout duty in the conning tower for the specimens, to get some fresh air, he'd said.
Nelson was uneasy. Lee knew way too much,and even if their mission was sucessful, he wondered how many changes were already ireparable. If Pemm ever sent them back that was.
It was too dark to see much. The glow from Seaview's windows and her running lights cast an aerie glow upon the deck and the increasing waves as the thunder and lightening crackled.
"There they are!" Ski yelled from his lookout post in the conning tower, as the purple blobs began to appear and squirt up their roe and foam in a spawning frenzy. The men on deck, secured by safety lines, were quick to act, aiming their net guns into the masses and haul them aboard, careful to keep the cargo well back as they were dumped into the waiting crates
Lee tiptoed to lean over the coaming, standing on a couple of boxes, his life jacket tied double. He thought he saw something, and strained his eyes for the dim outline of a ship being tossed about in the waves worse than Seaview. He'd only really agreed to come up here in the hopes of getting away when he'd heard about another boat nearby. He was about to call out to the distant vessel when the sub lurched, sideways, spilling him overboard onto the deck and then dumping him in the sea as Ski hung on to the handrail. Once the boat righted herself somewhat, Ski jumped in the water after Crane. It didn't matter that the blobs stung. Nothing mattered but getting the kid back. If he could find him. The waves were making it impossible and he was soon overpowered the effort. A grappling hook found Ski and he was pulled back to Seaview.
"Let me go! I gotta find him!"
"Divers are out searching already,"Sharkey pushed him to go below deck, "get to sick bay, you look like you've been stung. Bad."
"Chief, the skipper!"
"I know , I know, get movin."
"You think I give a damn about being discovered?" Nelson slammed his fist against the plot table.
"But Admiral,"Mr Pemm oozed, "if Seaview is determined to be a man-made craft instead of a monster by that sailing ship, you'll be changing history."
"And what the hell do you think we've been doing all this time! Im ordering you to take us back!"
"You'd better dive the boat before they get any closer."
"Lee Crane is probably drowning out there, and you want me to simply let him?"
"You don't comprehend, do you Admiral. I can't alter this situation. It wouldn't be ethical. I didn't bring us to this point in time. Crane did.Dive the boat Nelson, or Crane, you, everyone may simply cease to exist."
"Take her down O'brian!"Nelson ordered, " Pemm, you wouldn't be so calm if you didn't know more than you're letting on. That's the only reason I'm doing this."
"Any luck?"Morton asked of the diving teams.
"Not yet," Sharkey replied, " it's pretty rough out there, no sign of him. Only the blobs and…."
"There he is!" came a garbled voice over the diver's PA…"grab him…he looks dead…c'mon get some air into him…"
"He's breathing okay, he has a nasty bump on his head…man, he's covered in stingers…hurry…"the voice faded as the teams began to swim back to Seaview.
Lee had awakened in sickbay, but was noticeably confused and had been vomiting a great deal. He had high fever and had begun to cry in pain. It was getting hard for him to breathe and his tears had blood in them.
"It's the same,"Doc said sotto voice to Nelson. "The exact poison as before, working faster than in the other time, but Ski was stung as well, and he's fine…"
"Admiral, can't you do somehitng?"Sharkey asked as Crane gasped for breath.
"Don't you think I've tried?! We've injected every base anitvenum from the blobs I could make. I was wrong all along. There is no vaccine…. Lee's going to die, one way or another."
"Admiral Nelson," Pemm interrupted as the corpsman inserted a breathing tube down the small patient's throat. "It's been a nice visit but it's time for me to go."
"I said its time for me to go, and you as well. I took the liberty of retrieving this. Don't ask how, just accept it."
Pemm looked at the boy with triumph.
"You wanted him dead all along!You monster!!!" Nelson grabbed Pemm's throat.
"Admiral,No!" Doc and his corpsman managed to pry Nelson's hands away. "Don't make it worse."
"Yes, Admiral, don't make it worse,"Pemm held his device and pressed the button.
Seaview shuddered once, then again.
"Look!" Doc yelled. "He's gone!"
All that remained on the surgical gurney were crumpled sheets and a respirator pumping air on them. Crane had vanished.
"Pemm? Pemm!" Nelson shouted to no avail. The little man had disappeared as well.
"Have you figured out where we are yet?" Nelson asked Chip wearily.
"It looks a lot like where we were before we started this whole mess, but all lighthouses and shores of New England look alike to me. We should have our bearings in a few minutes."
"Harbor master approaching sir," the lookout yelled below to the control room. "She's signaling to come alongside. Somebody's really getting antsy aboard that boat sir, they're demanding to board."
"Look, tell them we'll pay any fine for parking here without permission but make her go away, I'm not in the mood for visitors," Nelson said.
"She says if you're the Seaview, she has a package for you."
Some noise was heard as the engines of the cruiser stopped and footsteps were heard jumping aboard Seaview's deck.
"We said," Morton yelled up the hatchway, " to send it to the institute!"
"Well," a voice said as sneakered feet climbed down the ladder an jumped the final few to the deck, "that might be a bit difficult. Permission to come aboard?"
"Lee!"Chip and Nelson exclaimed as everyone not glued to their seats jumped up and began slapping the Captain on the back as well.
"What the…" Nelson asked, then urgently," Lee, what day is this, what year?"
"Are you allright? I thought I was the one with food poisoning. Actually,it wasn't food poisoning at all, just an allergic reaction, pretty close too, to that whatever it was in the specimen jar. Mom said I sank into a coma, then suddenly everything started working again. I'm fine now. So, have I missed anything?"
"Let me get this straight,"Lee relaxed in the nose," my body must have needed antibodies which it could only get if I went back in time to be stung by the same kind of blobs that Hammersaw bought from that old ship?"
"Apparently. Like treatments for allergies, a small dose of the problem is injected with increasing amounts over time and whalla, immunity. In your case, however, it was one dose, one time, and barely enough to prevent death but…
"But why didn't Pemm just click me back to the museum, warn me not to bump into Hobbs in the first place? That was the original idea wasn't it?"
"I have no idea, Lee, rather a round about way to go about it, I agree. And it was actually you that managed to place us in the 1700's, not Pemm. I don’t know if he'd planned on that or not. I am confused that you don’t remember any of this since you were a child when it all happened."
"Perhaps I do, at least maybe,"Lee dragged a hand through his hair." I've only fallen overboard three times. I know I took out Wanderer on one of them, and the next thing I knew, I was washed up on the beach with an outsized lifevest on, mumbling about Russian spies, time travelers and that a submarine was sneaking around, but I couldn’t remember any more details than that. I thought it was all a dream. The doctors said so, you know some dreams you never remember when you wake up, only bits and pieces. Anyway, I had a pretty vivid imagination anyway and a huge bump on my head. And now it turns out that it was all actually real…."
"You know Lee, there are theories that time is actually a circle, so who's to say what's past or future? Though I admit the more I try to figure it all out, the more it gets confusing."
"At last," Pemm suddenly materialized in front of the men, "you're finally showing some intelligence!"
"Pemm!" both men stood in shock.
"I'm getting too old for this, "Nelson sank to his seat wearily.
"Now that services have been rendered," Pemm said, " I'm here to collect the small favor I mentioned to you."
"And I thought we'd managed to get rid of you."
"It's nothing much, Admiral, I simply want to purchase your collection."
"My collection? It's nothing but junk!"
"Ah, but as you yourself have said, one man's junk is another man's treasure."
"Value? What value? No, never mind. If it will get rid of you, go on, take it. It's all yours. Gratuitously."
"Thank you Admiral," Pemm grinned, " till we meet again,"he vanished.
"Not if I can help it."
"I heard that," a disembodied voice echoed back.
"Harry," Edith Nelson said excitedly on the speakerphone in Nelson's office at NIMR. He and Crane were going over some topographical charts when the call had come through. "I've got such wonderful news! I just bought an entire antique collection! All sorts of wonderful nautical stuff. Professor Pemm said it was probably worth 4 million. I managed to talk him down to 3 and then…."
"Professor Pemm?" Lee interupted, incredulous.
"The owner," she continued brightly, "Anyway, he was going to be doing some extensive traveling he said, and he'd heard of your penchant for the finer things in life and asked if I might like to purchase it for you, Harry. What is it ?You sound like you're grinding your teeth. Oh, and Harry, guess what, right after I signed the check, the insurance appraiser came over and said it was actually worth triple that much. Anyway, when Professor Pemm heard that, he reneged, right then and there…begged me to sell it back to him. Now maybe I could have sold it higher on one of those auction nets, but I know and opportunity when I see one. 9 million, Harry! Am I a smart cookie or what!"
"Very good Edith, yes, very good," Nelson said calmly, " Are you still coming out next week?"
"Wild seahorses couldn't keep me away, well, gotta run, bye Harry dear."
"See you soon," Nelson ended the conversation, sat back and took a long drag on a cigar.
"How can you be calm at a time like this?"Crane asked, "he tried to bilk your sister out of 3 million for something you'd already paid for and given to him free!"
Nelson merely unfolded a slip of paper from a pocket and handed it to Crane.
"What's this?"Lee asked.
"A receipt, from the Ace Theatrical Agency. When the bank heard about Pemm's offer they contacted me immediately; such is my relationship with my sister and our joint bank account. I simply hired a little help."
"Then the appraiser's a…"
"Fraud. An actor. That stuff Pemm was so anxious to get his hands on, is still quite worthless, however, I'd pay almost that much to see the look on his face when he finds out, even though his check bounced.The bank and I just haven't figured out when to tell Edith, though. "
"What if he tries to get back at you? He still has the timepiece you know."
"Hmm. A definite possibilty, but," he leaned back, "here, have a cigar, I keep some for special occasions, and your being alive is one them, however," he continued,"if he's upset, he could always zap himself back in time to before I hired the actor."
"Who is Pemm really Admiral?"
"A genius, a madman, who knows?"
"Well, only time will tell, " Lee grinned.
The End?*photo clip courtesty Stephanie!
*Sea Tales and the Hammersaw Nautical Museum here are fictional, and not intended to be the title of any published work that may be of the same name or an actual musem of the same name.