Serialized My Craft

Jake Rutledge and the Guy With Bad Timing (Fantasy Novelette)

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Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing - Part Seven

“I am not sure he is my brother, and I am not sure he isn’t my brother,” I was talking to myself and Charlie didn’t care. With Dan missing, I felt absurd once I heard the words come out of my mouth. Charlie just let me ponder it out.

“He resembles him, but he doesn’t act like him,” I pondered. “And you know Charlie, he knew nothing about the time I smacked him in the head with my front forks. I don’t think he’s my brother.”

“Well, then who is he?” asked Charlie who bounced in his seat as we passed over a pothole.

Before he was dead, I started asking Dan some questions. The motorcycle accident came up as a little test of his memory and my brother failed. He knew nothing about being hit in the head with my front forks. He failed a few other memory tests too. Such as the time we tried to set the farm ablaze with fireworks.

None of this matter though because Dan didn’t want to walk down memory lane. He was still on a mission and before I could call him on his memory lapses, he told me about his plan to get back to the base, capture the weather machine, and keep the Air Force from turning it into a weapon.

He had pulled himself off the IV stand and was still alive. He knew the Air Force would come for him, and he was just waiting.

“I will power down for a few minutes and get some rest,” Dan told me before shutting his eyes. A few minutes later I found the contacts. Dan never moved an inch. Then the Air Force came, Dan escaped, and Charlie and I were going to the brig.

I caught Charlie up to the present.

Dan had told me he had to get back to the base, sneak into the lab, and take away the weather machine. I presumed he meant to destroy it, but everything was happening so fast I forgot to ask questions.

“The guy isn’t dead?” Charlie questioned my story. We were riding with five of the airmen, and they had already warned us to “shut our mouths.”

“No. In fact, he should be right behind us.”

I lost track of Dan when I had to run outside to stop World War III. Before I left the diner, I convinced Sally to attend to him and do whatever he wanted.

 I now wondered if that was such a good idea. Sally counted on tips to round out her check, and she might have put off any field trips to the base. I glanced at my watch.

“Just after two,” I muttered to myself. “Sally should have finished the lunch rush.”

“What part of quite don’t your get?” an airman asked. “Why are you talking to yourself?”

I glared at him, but didn’t open my mouth again until we rolled into the base. Charlie looked at me and nodded.

We have been friends a long time and Charlie seems to understand my impromptu plans by a simple glance. He rose from his seat and lunged at me.

“You no-good bastard,” Charlie screamed. “This is your fault.” He threw a punch, which landed on my chin. I fell backward. As I scrambled to climb up, two airmen wrestled Charlie and pinned him against a tire.

“What the hell is going on in here?” Colonel Cox stood at the back of the van waiting for an answer.

“These two haven’t followed a single command since we left Pretty Prairie, sir,” said an airman. “And now this one wants to fight.” He grabbed Charlie by the shoulder and stood him up.

“Put them in the brig until we can sort them out,” said Colonel Cox.

Three airmen shoved me and Charlie into what amounted to a chain-link cage. We each had a bed and a blanket. Where the bathroom was, I didn’t know, but I wished I had asked.

They searched my pockets and took away the contacts in the medicine bottle. I hoped they would think it was only aspirin. We were now alone.

“The weatherman is alive?” said Charlie.

“I think he has a few more lives left to live,” I said as I looked around the cages for a way out.

“Nice punch. I was hoping they would take us right to the brig.”

“Anything else I can do?”

“You can look for a way out of here.” Charlie looked around his cell and the warehouse they locked us in. I couldn’t find a door.

“I’m guessing that guy isn’t your brother?”

“Pretty sure. He favors him though.” I had decided there was no way the weatherman was Dan.

“You keep saying that like you hope it’s true.” I thought Charlie made a point. Losing Dan with no trace in Afghanistan had left me and my mom and dad lost. It was too much to hope for a happy reunion.

Still, the weatherman lacked some of Dan’s features, and he had no memory of some of our key exploits as kids. Memory loss? I think I was putting too much faith in hope.

“We need to figure out how to escape.” I looked around the room and tried to push way the fence or twist around the posts. It was sturdy. Someone stretched the fence trying to kick through it. I pulled at the chain link and tried to stretch it more to free it from the post.

“We don’t have a lot of time,” I said. “Charlie, find a camera and see if we’re being watched.”

I turned over my bed to see if I could tear off a leg and use it to rip the fence. The aluminum leg bent off after a little effort. I used it as a lever to pull away the fence from the post.

 I made progress and soon one of the fence wires broke. I tore into it with more fury and snapped a few more wires. Now, I could grab the fence and pull it away from the post.

 A small hole formed against the wall. I pulled on the post trying to bend it in half. Soon, I could push my head through the hole. Two wiggles and I was outside the cell.

“You made swift work of that,” said Charlie. “Now get me out.”

I used the bed leg to work on breaking the lock holding Charlie in. It was a tough go, and the lock refused to break. Out of the corner of my eye I followed an arm reach around me and drag me to the ground. An airman had me pinned. I observed a hidden camera behind our cell.

“Well Charlie, you missed a camera,” I said pushing back at the airman. I saw a second airman throw Charlie back into the cell. He bounced back from the fence, and judging from the look on his face, he knew he had messed up.

The airman slammed me into the cell. He wrenched my arm around my back, as a steady stream of blue-uniformed sentries filled the space between me and Charlie.

They rushed in and brought Charlie out holding his hands up. They had us and there was nothing I could do to stop them.

I pulled away, and the guard held me as another brought down a baton in a swift thrust to my shoulders.

I let out a groan and everything went black.

I woke up in a huge computer room with various people twisting knobs, staring at screens, and recording measurements on tablets. The guards had taken off my cuffs, and I rubbed my sore neck. In the center of the room, nurses were intent on taking care of Dan, the weatherman.

They cleaned his face and from his neck down he wore a white jumpsuit. The clothing appeared too white, and I thought they wrapped him in a cloud. I recalled the storm, the torn up clinic, and Dan going off to the Middle East.

“I thought you were dead,” I said to Dan who acted like he did not hear me. I would have asked him again if Colonel Cox hadn’t boomed from behind me.

“Oh, he’s very much alive.” The colonel walked around to block my view of the weatherman. “Only he’s not your brother.”

I sort of knew this already although I still hoped it was Dan.

“Well, you had me fooled.”

“You know,” said the colonel. “We never even considered the two of you might run into each other.”

“It is a mystery,” I said. “I suppose you’ve cloned my sister too?”

“I wouldn’t call it cloning.” I scanned the room as the various scientists turned toward me.

“More like artificial intelligence.”

Part One – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Two – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Three – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Four – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Five – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Six – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Seven – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Eight – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing
Part Nine – Jake Rutledge and the Guy with Bad Timing

Looking for a new adventure? Walk around in Jake’s shoes.

— wordsmithholler (@wordsmithholler) July 11, 2018

© 2019, Michael Shawn Sommermeyer. All rights reserved.

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