Ok before we get started credit this idea to this thread – Habbakuk and "you at 13 with an iPad" .?t=225330
Or www DOT alternatehistory DOT ?t=225330
This is a work of fiction and is copyrighted to the author. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead is coincidental and not intended by the author.
-=-/-\Chapter 1 – If I die before I wake
January 29, 2012
Hey, as Birthdays, go, it wasn't bad. I mean, my all time worst birthday was my 21st birthday – a recon patrol, so I was in a cypress swamp and had to tie myself to freaking tree to keep from slipping under and drowning in my sleep. Had to burn twenty six leeches off my body when I woke up.
I mean, that literally sucked.
But…this one…I had not spoken to anyone directly all day…and that was the good part of the day.
What's that line from the Moody Blues? "Bed-sitter people look back and lament, another day's useless energy spent."
Yeah, that just about summed it up. You start out life, looking forward with hope – and then you're fifty five, sitting alone in the night and listen to the wind howl and whip the snow through the bare limbs of the trees. Three ex-wives and a couple of kids that hated my guts…and truly, I couldn't fault them for why they hated me. I had really made some bad choices in my life. Not evil ones, just…bad ones.
Seemed like a good idea at the time.
But from here, it was more like "What the hell was I thinking?"
I sat in bed, looking morosely at my iPad. So many missed opportunities. If only I could go back, knowing what I know now. But what is that line from Omar Khayyam? "the moving pen, having writ, and all your prayers, and all your tears will not erase a line of it."
So I shut off the iPad and turned off my bedside lamp.
But as I slipped off to sleep and wondered again why it was I even bothered even to go on.
I woke up. The first thing I noticed was the pain – or rather – the lack of it. My comment is, if I ever wake up without pain, I'll look for the white satin overhead, because I'll be dead.
I've lived an eventful life. Three messed up discs, shrapnel, broken bones, dislocated joints…mornings always require a bit of stretching exercise just to get up. This morning? No pain.
My eyes snapped open.
That was my second shock.
Where the hell was I?
I was on the floor. On a futon. With a quilt over me. There was a tatami mat on the floor. My brain was going into over drive as I quickly scanned the room. A small closet, a bookcase, a desk, a chair.
There was a knock on the door, "Stevie, are you getting up? You'll be late for school."
I knew that voice. *MOM*? But..my mother was nine years dead? She had a heart attack and died in 2002. But…it sure sounded like her…I Jumped up – and instantly regretted it.
There were rainbow auras around everything, and the world suddenly started to move on a turntable. I was struck by an incredible wave of nausea, as a mass of memories started to cascade across my mind.
Ever hear the expression – "My life passed before my eyes." – well – suddenly I had TWO lives in front of me – the life I had live – the one in which I had lived to the age of fifty-five, and another life- apparently this one – where things had gone somewhat differently, and apparently, I was having my sixth birthday…and it was 1963.
But…first things first.
I slammed into the wall. Mom opened the wall. When she saw me, her expression become worried. "Stevie? What's the matter?" she asked.
"Choto mate, kudasai, Okasan" I said, as another wave of nausea knotted my guts…I pushed passed her into the short hallway. I still had a second to marvel at the sight of my father – dead seven years – but apparently still hale, stepping out of the small bathroom of the apartment, newspaper under his arm, as he fastened his belt.
"Benjo dijobe, Otosan" I said, as I pushed past him…he was a lot less bulky than he would become when I was a teenager – this would be the years when he was still boxing in the Middleweight Class – but I just barely made it to the toilet before I violently threw up.
Luckily, it was mostly fluid. It was Stomach acid, that sort of thing, since I hadn't eaten anything today. Kind of sad that I've gotten to know a lot about vomiting, isn't it? – but – comes of being an Medical Technician – especially a military Air Evacuation medical technician.
I kept on heaving, got it all out. Dad was squatting down there with a glass of water and a tissue. "Any more?" he asked.
I smiled. He knew a lot about this sort of thing too. "Let me check." I wiped my mouth, took the glass, rinsed my mouth, spit it out, then drank some of the water.
I was a bit queasy, bit it seemed willing to stay down. "Let me try standing up."
"OK." Said Dad.
I stood up. My head still was pounding like a hammer, but the rainbow auras were fading. The memories were starting to integrate.
On retrospect, it makes sense. I mean, think of it. Think of the brain as a computer – or hell, as think of your memories as a stack of file cards. Now, shuffle another stack of file cards into that original stack of file cards.
I mean, crap, what I just been through – was kind of, my brain's version of "file exception error at memory location 1E0H5…initiating hex file dump." And the "Blue screen of Death"
"You ok, boy?" asked my dad.
"Uh, just a little dizzy, father." I replied. "Sorry. Not sure what's the matter."
"Not a fever." Said my mother, checking my forehead, "no swollen glands." She looked at me. "Sore throat?"
"No," I answered. "Let me sit down a second." I said. "What time is it?" I looked for a clock. "I need to get dressed for school."
"Well," laughed my dad, "If you still want to go to school, then you're not shamming." He looked at his watch. "But it's 0630, and *I* need to get going if I'm going to get to the base on time…and I do NOT want to get TSgt Williams pissed at me."
Mom was looking at me sharply. "You're sure you're OK to go to school?" she asked. "this isn't Japanese School. And you're doing fine anyway…and hell, if you've got something contagious, you don't need to give it to the other kids."
I smiled. "No, mother." How to explain to her that trans-temporal memory collation was not contagious – or- at least I hoped not…"Just in case, perhaps I should wear a gauze mask."
"Hai," she said, "good idea."
I had some green tea and a piece of toast and butter to settle my stomach. That helped a lot. Then I got dressed.
The Department of Defense School (DoDS) at Yokota AB didn't have a uniform regulation, not the way the Japanese Schools did, but most of the American Children that lived off base dressed that way, anyway, to blend in. In my Black pants, White shirt, black jacket, black pillbox hat, I looked like a Japanese child, anyway…I said goodbye to my mother, and headed off to the base myself.
Fussa, Japan, in 1963, was a small town, outside Tokyo. It was kind of a neat place to my six year old eyes. To my fifty-five year old eyes, there was a hell of lot I was going to want to check out.
Back before WWII, this was an Imperial Japanese Air Force Base – in fact this was their Experimental base, something like Wright Patterson AFB or Edwards AFB. After the War, the American Far East Air Force had taken it over.
As I walked through the streets, I was busy trying to collate my memories and make sense of them. In my first life, my father had taken a different career path in the Air Force. In this one, it seemed – well, it was odd – my six year old self wasn't all that clear on some things about what father did – the fifty-five year old retired Air force Major was pretty sure that his father was an Avionics Repair technician.
The DoD School was on the edge of the base, so that the children living off base did not need to show ID to get in. There was a cluster of children in front of the doors. The school did not start until 0800, but the Japanese Schools started at 0730..most of the off-base students got up with their fellow students and got to school early.
I almost got myself in problems that first day…the first of many times I had to remember that what *I* was, was a six year old here, that what everybody else perceived was a six year old, that I had to BE what people perceived me to be.
Every see, the TV show "Quantum leap"? – Kind of like that. Except – I didn't even have my old body…just my old mind and memories.
There were some Junior ROTC cadets practicing in front of the school. I mean, 1963. In 2001, they wouldn't be allowed to walk around in public with drill rifles, but apparently, here-and-now, it was not a problem.
So, I drifted over that way. They were doing the manual of arms. Trouble was, it looked like the kid doing the instructing, didn't know all that much more than the kid he was trying to teach.
It finally got to be more than I could stand, when he let the trainee go from left should arms straight to attention. "Whoa" I said.
They both looked at me. "You say something, punk." Sneered the 'Trainer."
"Yeah, cadet" I said. "you're going to train, Cadet Airman, You need to train him correctly, or don't do it at all."
"What the hell do you think you know about it, you little…" said the Cadet. The other cadet put a restraining hand out.
"Hand me the rifle, and I'll show you what I mean." I snapped.
"I can't allow an issue gun in the hands of a non-cadet."
"It is not a gun." I snapped back. "It is a rifle - or a replica of one, cadet. What the hell do they teach you? A gun has a bore diameter greater then a half inch, or fires more than one shot per trigger pull – of which this does neither."
At that point, another Cadet, a cadet major walked up. "What's going on?"
"Trying to run this little punk-ass first grader off." Said the cadet airman. "I'm trying to teach Wells the 15-count manual of arms when he butted in."
I looked at the cadet major. "Take a look Cadet major. Take a good look at his instruction, and see if you're happy with it. I'd say this guy- " I jerked my thumb at the cadet airman – "needs to learn it over, by the numbers. And he needs to tuck in his right arm on the forearm – he keeps "chicken-winging' – that's going to lose you points in a competition."
The Cadet Major looked at me blankly. "YOU know the 15 count Manual?" he asked.
"Sure" I said, forgetting myself.
"This I gotta see." He took the rifle from the Cadet Airman and passed it to me.
I grabbed it out of the air snapped to attention, went to port arms, checked the bolt, stuck my pinky in the chamber, looked up, slammed the bolt shut, grabbed the muzzle with my right hand, keeping my fore arm tight against the forestock, brought it straight against the right side of my body, butt against my right toe, and asked, "Permission to begin 15 count manual of arms, Sir?"
The cadet looked back at me in some surprise and said "Begin"
I then snapped through right Shoulder Arms, left shoulder Arms, right shoulder arms again, port arms, present arms, right shoulder arms, and back to attention – just like in the book.
In my first life, I've been teaching junior ROTC for nine years and coached many a competition drill team.
But – I'd forgotten. In this life, I was a first grader. The three Cadets were all standing there with wide eyes and open jaws. "Holy shit." Was the best that the Cadet Airman Basic could come up with.
"No swearing in uniform, cadet." I snapped.
About this time, we were gathering an audience of other cadets – and one of the instructors came over.
A Grizzled-looking old Senior Master Sergeant came over, looking angry. "Cadet Major Johnson, there better be a DARN good reason why you have are allowing one of these children to play with one of our drill rifles…or you are not going to be a Cadet Major for long."
"OH HELL, yes, Master Sergeant Darnell," breathed the Cadet Major, "You need to see this, just to tell me I'm not hallucinating." He looked at me – "Kid – hell, kid, what's you name? Do that again, please."
THAT was when I realized I had kind of screwed up. Well, what the hell. "Steve." I said "Steve Stewart." I snapped to attention. "Permission to begin fifteen count manual of arms, sir."
And I went through it again.
At the end, the cadets were cheering…the Master Sergeant was openly amazed.
"Mr Stewart?" he said.
"Why aren't you in JROTC here?"
"Too young." I said. "I'll join if I'm old enough before we PCS."
"Good answer." He said, nodding sagely. "What grade are you in now?"
"Are you freaking kidding me?" he said. The rest of his comment was drowned out by the loud buzzing of the school bell, and the commotions as the students headed into the school building.
The day was …tiresome. I could quite literally do this on autopilot. Hell, I could TEACH this stuff on autopilot. I spent a lot of it trying to figure out what had happened…and integrating my memories of my past life into my present situation.
I suppose it helps that the idea of time travel, or ISOTS – drifting In the Sea Of Time – Science fiction – that sort of thing – was no stranger to me. Actually, the idea of going back along your own timeline and changing things was an old literary idea, not even really Science Fiction. I smiled.
This wasn't 2011…and probably hardly anybody here-and-now had ever seen – or remembered – "It's a Wonderful life." – That Movie was decades in the past – and the TV holiday showings were decades in the future. But…how different was this timeline from my own?
I needed to explore this. In my original timeline (OTL) in 1963, we'd just gotten transferred – permanent change of Station or PCS – as the military calls it – to Niagara Falls AFB, from Craig AFB, just outside Selma, Alabama. In this Time Line (ITL), it looked like my father had followed a different path – we had not gone back to the continental US, staying in Japan. In fact, ITL, it did not look like I had ever been in the US.
From what I had picked up so far, it looked as though things seemed to be on track. Kennedy was President, LBJ was the Vice, and Nikita Khrushchev was in charge over at the Kremlin. The Berlin Wall and the Cuban missile Crisis had both occurred and gone past with much fear and relief with their resolution.
We were copying alphabets from the wall charts onto those stupid green sheets with those enormous pencils…the ones the size of a crayon.
I had automatically started using my left hand to do the letters, and had finished quickly.
Miss Grunwalt stopped at my desk as I was finishing. "STEVEN" she snapped angrily.
"Huh." I said. I was going to have to work on that respect thing. But, jeeze. Twenty something blue-eyed blonde with big -yeah - *look at her face, stupid, look at her face, you're six fer godsakes* I reminded myself.
Trouble was, she was younger than my OTL kids, for crying out loud!
"WE TALKED ABOUT THIS" she said. "This is unacceptable." She said. She rapped the desk top with her ruler for emphasis.
"Huh" I said, dumbly. "What did I do wrong?"
"Your hand, Steven." She said. "Which hand do we write with?"
"Aw fer crying out loud…" I said – then remembered to shut up. *1963, 1963, 1963, you dumbass, stupid bastard, * I cursed myself inside my head. *We went through this the FIRST time, you dumbass, don't you remember.*
OH, HELL, I remembered now. It was about the end of that period, when they stopped trying to persecute lefties into become righties…
"My apologies, Miss Grunwalt." I said formally. "I will do them correctly."
She looked at me oddly. I sat there in my chair, trying to project an image of peace and tranquility, the proper image of an obedient student…with the bilious green paper in my left hand and that odious fat pencil in my right.
It took me the rest of the allotted class period to copy those stinking letters onto the sheet – and the result – well – they looked like a six year old had done them, is the best I can say.
A brain damaged six year old might be more accurate description.
I hate writing with my right hand.
But Miss Grunwalt was happy with it. "Good job Steven. Much better than yesterday!" she said, smiling and giving me a nice big B+ for a grade.
Well, Hell. "good" is what the boss wants, so, for now, she was my boss. As long as I kept her happy on this stuff, I was Ok.
And hell. At least she was easy to look at…Long blonde hair, cornflower blue eyes, and stacked like a…yeah, you get the picture. At least it would be a few years before I hit puberty and had to worry about embarrassing hard-ons at the wrong times…although, if I kept having thoughts like this, that might happen early, too.
We had a library period after that…part of the period was listening to the teacher read us some story about kittens and a ball of yarn…which I pretty much tuned out.
But, we had 15 minutes to pick out a library book to take home. Now, my ITL-self had been wanting the new Curious George book…and I had to admit, even as an adult, Curious George is still fun.
But I wanted to check out this Library. I needed to check out the resources available to me. My plan was to start writing down as much as I could remember about my previous life – especially electronics and computer science – but there were some things I needed to refresh my memory on.
But I found a book on Transistor theory – Shockley and Harding, 2nd Edition. I chuckled when I saw that. The one I'd used in College, in 1982, was the 10th Edition. But…1963.
I took it up to the front desk to sign it out. The librarian bit her lip. "That's not supposed to be here. That's supposed to be in the base library. That's too advanced for you." She moved to put it aside.
"Hey" I protested. "I wanted to brush up on transistor theory."
"Uh" she smiled. "Right" and "what do you know about transistor theory?"
"Where do you want to start?" I asked. "Wafers of absolutely pure silicon doped with germanium to enhance electron transfer in the presence of a base current?'
She blinked in astonishment.
"NPN, PNP transistors, or tunnel effect diodes?" I asked. "There's a lot of interesting work being done right now in that field, and you can't start too early, is what my dad says." I pushed the card at her. "So I figure I better get started."
"Uh…right." She said, weakly. She stamped my card and put it in the book. "Bring it back in two weeks. You can renew it for another week if you need to."
"Thank you." I said.
The librarian looked at me. I sat down at one of the library tables with my classmates. I looked up to see her talking to Miss Grunwalt and pointing at me. They saw me looking at them, and I smiled and waved. They reddened and looked away. I grinned and went back to reading about the current state of transistor theory.
I made it through the rest of the day with no major incidents. The hardest part was remembering the "use my right hand to write" rule.