Plenty of Time
[The continuation of the Survivor Short Story “project” in the War On Boris the Bytrode series. This time, back in time, 1967, following the adventures of middle-aged mum, Letitia… In this episode (9.5) Letitia and her black sheep brother reconnect but she is worried that Boris is lurking…]
She’s Your Mother?
Letitia knocked on the white metal door. It rattled. No answer. She could hear sizzling of water on hot plates and a cacophony of clanging. She was uncertain whether she should pursue her brother. Might be a trap; just the sort of thing Boris would do. She glanced behind, worrying. Fretting. Boris could be lurking just around the corner. Or inside. With Gunter. Hadn’t he gone to Boris after Frieda’s disaster of a party? The party he hadn’t been invited to? She turned and looked back. The motley crew of smokers were sniggering at some unspoken joke. Trevor loitered at the bottom of the caravan steps. With no way to retreat, she had to knock again.
She hammered the door, and nearly lost her balance as the door swung open.
‘Whose making all that racket?’ Gunter barked. He slung the tea towel over his right shoulder and glared at Letitia. ‘Who are you?’
From below Trevor who had been keeping abreast with the smokers’ conversation, called out, ‘It’s your mum, Ferro. Mrs. Ferro.’
‘I’m not your…’ Letitia began.
Gunter stared wide-eyed at Letitia and then yelled at Trevor, ‘She’s not my mum. My mum’s a…Oh, never mind.’ He turned his attention to Letitia. ‘Who are you?’
‘I’m your, sister—Letitia.’
‘Who?’ Gunter stared blankly at her with his deep blue eyes. ‘You don’t look like her.’
Wiping a stray hair from her face, she said, ‘You are Gunter Fahrer, aren’t you?’
‘Er, yes.’ Gunter responded cautiously. He continued to peer at Letitia with a mixture of pity and paternalism as if she were the local village idiot.
‘Son of August? From Bavaria?’ Letitia persisted attempting to dispel any notion that she was insane.
‘Shush, keep your voice down woman.’ Gunter sounded more annoyed than over-joyed at the connection.
‘I-I’m your sister, Letitia who vanished. Remember the party? Frieda’s party? The one she didn’t invite you to? The one Boris…’ Letitia babbled while trying to edge her way into the van. ‘I know I look a lot older, but time travel…’
‘Who were you?’ Gunter’s brow wrinkled as if her presence on the steps of the food van troubled him.
‘Letitia, your sister. I’ve been on Mirror World, a parallel, well not exactly, oh, dear…’ she repeated. ‘You don’t believe me. You think I’m nuts.’
‘If you are, how come you’re so…tanned?’ Gunter said.
‘Oh! The nanobots, and skin grafts after the burning…of me.’ All her courage evaporated into the heat of the night. ‘I guess, on this world, maybe I never…’ she turned to go. ‘That my mum and your dad never…’
As she planted a foot on the pavers below, Gunter called out. ‘Just wait a minute! Come back! I had to make sure, Lettie.’
Letitia looked up at him. ‘You remember me? Recognise me then?’
‘Natuerlich. I must test, you know.’ Gunter jumped down the van steps. ‘Come, we go for a walk.’
Letitia shrugged. ‘Sure, why not? Looks like I better get in practise. Have to walk to Adelaide, later.’
‘Sorry, I didn’t recognise you. You look so, so different.’ He wiped his hands on his faded jeans and paced towards the stone wall by the beach. Letitia followed, with Trevor still trailing after them.
With the curious smokers lost in a fog of smoke and out of earshot, Gunter muttered out of the corner of his mouth, ‘You shouldn’t be here, you know.’
‘Is she one of yours?’ Trevor asked.
Gunter glared at Trevor.
‘It wasn’t my idea,’ Letitia said. ‘Something happened when the plane crashed. I just want to—go to Adelaide. I know I shouldn’t be here. Not here. Not at this time. I’m not sure you can help. But Will, Frieda’s…’
Gunter held up his hand. ‘Frieda? Frieda? Don’t mention that name around me!’
‘Sorry, I know she was mean to you. That what she did caused all this sh–, I mean rubbish to happen: Boris’ attack on the satellite we were on; me ending up in Mirror World; not to mention the recent plane crash…’
‘Plane crash? What are you talking about?’
‘The one in Antarctica,’ Letitia sighed, beginning to wonder if Gunter did not have something seriously wrong with his memory.
‘She is one of yours. You can tell. They are different. They stand out.’ Trevor was suddenly palpably excited. He was hopping around in the dark as if dancing at a rock concert.
‘Antarctica? There’s been no crash in Antarctica. Not recently there hasn’t.’ Gunter scanned his half-sister cynically.
‘Didn’t Boris tell you?’ Letitia raised her tone an octave. ‘They said you had gone to his side. The dark side. The least he could…’
‘Where do the IGSF get their intel from? I’ve been in Melbourne.’
‘All this time?’
‘More or less.’
But Letitia sensed he withheld the whole truth from her. She decided to allow that last comment slide. ‘So you’ve been living in Melbourne, then? But, not with your sister, Doris, I gather.’
Gunter snorted, ‘Doris? She’s in Adelaide, I think. She’s become a teacher, so I heard. Some high school up in the hills.’
He swapped the tea towel to his other shoulder. They strolled along the esplanade. Trevor tagged behind, scuffing his feet but not mumbling.
‘There’s this girl, must be your daughter – looks like you.’ Gunter began deep in thought. ‘I thought she was you, because the last time…’
‘Jemima!’ Trevor piped up into our backs. ‘Mr Fahrer likes her. But I say she’s too young.’
‘Shut your gob Trevor,’ Gunter snapped. ‘She’s my niece.’
‘Niece? She’s too old…’ Trevor said.
Gunter dismissed him with a wave of the tea towel. ‘It’s complicated.’
‘Things are always complicated with you Krauts,’ Trevor whined.
Letitia smiled. ‘You know Jemima?’ She began to skip with hope.
‘Yeah.’ Gunter uttered curtly and strode head down and hands deep in his pockets as if he had entered a dark cloud of discontent.
‘Jem has been here? In Melbourne?’ Letitia clapped her hands. ‘She’s alive!’
‘Mmm.’ Was all the response she received.
‘She comes every now and again. She was here yesterday, wasn’t she Mr Fahrer.’ Trevor chipped in.
‘Quiet Trevor.’ Gunter barked. Then he stopped and turned to Letitia. ‘Are you looking for your daughter? Has she run away from you?’
‘Well, not actually.’ Letitia had to be honest despite how the situation would appear from Gunter’s perspective. ‘What was Jemima doing in Melbourne?’
‘Said something about looking for her grandmother. Or was it her father. Know anything about that?’ Gunter asked. He stood stabbing a sticky lump of chewing gum on the asphalt.
‘Possibly.’ Letitia thought it time to explain her virtual dilemma and see if Gunter could help her. ‘You see, I think Jemima is up to something. I’m starting to suspect that she sent me here, back in time, to…I don’t know, somehow fight in the war against Boris. Just before the plane went down, she told me to drink some wine and that she had a plan. I always get suspicious when Jemima says she has a plan.’
This’s not a good sign, Letitia thought.
Trevor began to whine, ‘Why have we stopped, Mr. Fahrer?’
[Continued next week in Chapter 10.1 “Doors of Deception”…]
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2021
Feature Photo: Summer sunset © L.M. Kling 2019
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