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You're the One

By AdamLSchultz All Rights Reserved ©

Romance / Adventure

You're the One

Fred Astaire crooned in the background as Henry Stephens struggled to throw off the rubble pressing against his chest.

Night and day, you are the one.

That winter was too hot, even for the small town of Greenville. Henry walked about town in shorts. He didn’t approve of shorts, but Janey liked them on him. He was going to marry Janey one day, so he figured he best get used to it.

“Only you beneath the moon or under the sun.”

Daylight punched through what was left of the roof above him, brightening the clouds of billowing dust in the room. He coughed and coughed but it brought him no relief from the milieu of substances clinging to the back of his throat. Someone was screaming beside him. Heavy footfalls sent waves of shocks through his head, the wooden planks of the floor creaking and jumping with every boot hit. Henry felt death brushing against his feet.

He thought of Janey.

Until you let me spend my life making love to you.

Janey giggled as she sat on the bed beside him. The idea of making love was new to them, but it was something they both looked forward to once they were married. Fred Astaire and his damned song just made the wait that much harder. Janey leaned over and kissed his cheek.

“Will you propose to me like that?” she asked.

“Of course not,” replied Henry. “I wanna spend the rest of my life loving you.”

“So you don’t want to make love to me?” she asked, putting on a childish pout.

He looked at her a moment, brow raised. She laughed. He followed.

Like the drip drip drip of the raindrops.

Mr. Jackson, lawyer and owner of the town’s only office Crosley, was running across the street towards the cafe. Henry knew something was wrong when Mr. Jacksion made no effort to protect his Italian custom-tailored suit from the torrent of rain falling from the sky. The moment the lawyer burst through the café’s door, Henry jumped from his seat and ran over.

“The Japs!”

“What about the Japs, Tom?” asked Mr. Chapman, cook and owner of the café.

“They’ve bombed Pearl Harbor!”

Nearly all the patrons gasped.

“Come to my office,” Tom yelled, wide-eyed. “It just broke on CBS.”

Every man stood. Mr. Chapman, a man of fifty-three, jumped over the lunch counter to join the throng gathering around the lawyer. They followed Mr. Jackson to his office.

Like the tick tick tock of the stately clock as it stands against the wall

The block of stone was kicked off of him. As it went, the grain of the rock tore open the front of his jacket, revealing the shirt beneath.

“Get up ya lazy son of a bitch, we got a war to fight.”

A meaty hand suddenly appeared through the dusty mist at Henry’s face.

“Grab it. You ain’t dead are ya?”

“No,” Henry croaked as he gripped the hand and was hoisted upright in one quick jerk. He blinked away some grime in his eyes and saw Paul Grant’s large, grinning face inches from his own.

“Jerry’s back. Damn Krouts are on the counter-attack. They want this village back. We ain’t gonna let that happen.”

Henry nodded.

Sgt. Grant shoved an M1 into his chest. “Here. Kearsky’s weapon.”

“And Kearsky?” asked Henry.

“Dead,” Paul replied nonchalantly.

So a voice within me keeps repeating you, you, you

Henry lay in bed covered in sweat. He had just made love to Janey, now his fiancée. It was a broken rule, something their parents would never need to find out. It was also a gift, for Henry would be reporting to Fort Benning by train the next day.

“Something to remember me by,” Janey had said, kissing him on the lips for the first time.

Though they had bumbled their way through the act, it would be something Henry would never forget; it was the greatest gift he would ever be given.

Only you beneath the moon or under the sun

As Henry stepped through the ruined doorway of the house his company had taken refuge in the previous night, he looked up into what he expected to be the bright morning sky. Instead, he saw a rippled metal ceiling framed in steel rafters. Bright round lights hung from the high ceiling, each mounted beside visible ductwork.

“Am I in an airplane hanger?” he asked aloud, switching the weight of his gun to his left shoulder. When the rifle barrel failed to make contact with his clavicle, he looked down. The weapon was gone. So was his uniform.

Directly in front of him were shelves and shelves of what seemed to be products. He walked over to a particularly bright area and picked up a box.

iPod Touch, now in festive neon colors!

“Ah, I see you’re interested in a Touch huh?”

Henry turned around. Before him stood a young man, not much older than he, dressed in jeans and a plain white shirt. Over the shirt was a royal blue shirt with a white tag that read “Wal-Mart” and “Chad.”

“Huh?” he asked him.

“The Touch is totally awesome. It’s, like, the best out there. You can hold nearly a year’s worth of music on it.”

“Excuse me?” asked Henry, looking down at the box. The device looked like something out of a Flash Gordon comic. It was sliver with rounded edges and nothing else. There were no visible antennas or plugs.

“It’s only two-hundred and fourty-nine dollars. A total steal?”

“Two hundred and what?!” Henry asked, nearly dropping the box.

“Yeah, I know, totally cheap!”

“Listen,” Henry said, pointing at the young man. “You ain’t French.”

“Of course I’m not. I was born right here in Greenville.”

“Greenville?” Henry furrowed his brow. He was supposed to be in France, the village of St. Mere-Eglise, holding back the German counter-offensive. What had happened?

He handed the box to back to the strange man and walked towards a large metal box. “DVDs, 5 dollars each!” the sign above it read.

“Where in God’s name have I gone? Is this the future?” he asked himself as he leaned against the edge of the box. He closed his eyes and sighed heavily.

In the roaring traffic's boom

An explosion rocked him awake. Rifles and machine guns were clicking away around him. He was crouched behind a stack of sand bags, Paul firing next to him. Henry raised his rifle, peered over the bags, and started shooting. Black shapes darted in and out of the buildings across from them.

His rifle snapped in the air like a whip with each trigger pull. Henry was sure that two of the blurry black figures had fallen at his rifle’s command. They were winning.

“Mortars!” yelled Paul before ducking down and covering his head. Henry heard a shrill whistling in the distance. It grew louder by the second.

“Get down!” Paul screamed at him, physically gripping his shoulders and wrestling him to the debris strewn cobblestone. Henry brought his arms on top of his head and closed his eyes. He prayed. He thought of Janey.

Day and night, night and day

Standing back up was much more difficult than he expected. Henry’s joints were either too tired or too frightened to move. With tremendous effort and explosions of pain in what seemed to be every part of him, Henry finally stood. Had he been hit?

Through his eyelids, which were refusing to open, he could see that the world was bright. He took two steps. The world was dark. He walked two more steps. The world was bright again.

Henry forced open his eyelids with his fingers. He saw a corridor of metal and glass doors, each opening to a shelf system stocked with colorful boxes and bags. Confused but curious, he gripped one of the handles and opened the door. A blast of frigid air hit him. He stumbled back and fell against a door on the opposite side of the hallway. As he steadied himself, he saw the lights within the compartment he had opened turn off.

The world in front of him went dark. With a turn of his head, he saw the compartment behind the door he was leaning against was now lit. He grinned and took two steps forward. The light in front of him turned on. He took two steps back. It cut off.

He giggled. He thought of Janey.

“She would love this,” he said, taking two steps forward.

Like the beat beat beat of the tom-tom

Henry took two steps over a fallen German soldier.

“We got em on the run!” Paul told him, patting his shoulder.

“Great!” Henry replied, wondering whether the light had turned on or not. “It’s a shame I’ve been missing the battle.”

“What do you mean?” Paul asked, tilting his head.

“I’ve been traveling through time!” Henry said, grinning. It’s so cool! They have these light up iceboxes that turn on the moment you get near them. Oh, and they have this thing that looks straight outta Flash Gordon!”

Paul put his palm on Henry’s forehead. “You feeling ok?”

“Yup,” he said, grinning.

Paul shook his head. “Look, there’s a bathroom back in the house we were in. Go there, wash up, calm down. I think the adrenaline’s getting to ya.”

Henry blinked, considering the request odd.

“Just do it. It’s an order,” said Paul.

He shrugged. He thought of Janey.

That this longing for you follows wherever I go

As he washed away the dirt and grime on his face, he wondered what Janey was up to. Gosh he missed her.

He closed his eyes and splashed some more water against his face. Once he had wiped the moisture away from his eyes with the sleeve of his uniform, he looked into the mirror.

Henry screamed. It was a primal reaction. What had he just seen in the mirror? A monster? An animal? A ghost?

He laughed at himself.

“A joke mirror, all the way here in France,” he said, giggling. “I’m so gullible. Sarge must’ve put it here.”

When he looked back into the mirror, he screamed again. The image reflected back did the same. A wrinkled, sagging, bald, and liverspotted monster screamed right back at him, jowls quivering. The creature’s top teeth fell down as its mouth opened wider. Suddenly, Henry was choking. He spat out a top set of teeth.

He turned and looked around. The walls around him were wooden; an open, latching door flanked him in the rear. Before him was a long mirror. Still screaming, he got a good look at the creature he had now become.

It was hunched, dressed in a frayed and fuzzy flannel button up shirt and sternum-high khaki pants with pleats. Its hands were gnarled and twisted, the fingers no longer properly aligned. He brought the disgusting hand up to his face and tried to flex it. Pain shot from every joint in his arm and filled his body with hot, searing lava.

Tears began to fall from his glassy eyes. He started to run away from the image but found the monster’s body unwilling to cooperate. It hobbled forward instead, its legs unable or unwilling to stretch farther than a foot apart.

Henry shuffled as fast as the monster would allow, running into a shoe rack and another blue vested Wal Mart gang member on his way out of what seemed to be a sea of children’s clothing.

“Oh dear God,” he groaned, hobbling through the garish and alien looking fashion. “God no!”

“Janey!” he called. “Janey, honey, please!”

He reached a wide path and looked down. Beneath his standard issue boots were cobble stones.

“Paul? Paul? Where are you Paul?” he called out into the French village square.

“Amerikana! Frei!”

The Krouts had his number. How stupid could he be?

An MP40 sputtered to life in the distance. Something tore through his heart.

He thought of Janey.

There's an oh such a hungry yearning burning inside of me

“Janey. Janey. Janey.”

It was all he could say. All he wanted to say. His heart, rent asunder, beat faster and faster against the cage of his ribs, begging for escape. The steel, raftered ceiling glared down at him, coming in and out of focus as it wanted.

“Granpa, granpa?” yelled a female voice.

“Janey. Janey. Janey.”

“But granpa,” came the voice again, now choking on confusing and shock. “Grandma’s gone. She’s gone.”

“Janey. Janey. Janey.”

“Suzy, what’s wrong?”

“It’s grandpa. He fell down. He keeps asking for grandma.”

It's no matter darling where you are I think of you

The world was bright. A face, familiar and heavenly, began floating down towards him.

“Janey. Janey. Janey.”

She was standing in front of him, surrounded by white.

“Henry,” she said, smiling.

“Janey,” he groaned, refilled with hope, desire, and yearning.

“It’s time, Henry.”

Henry nodded. He wrapped his arms around his beautiful bride. They were bare, strong, young arms. He smiled.

Night and day, you are the one
Only you beneath the moon or under the sun
Whether near to me, or far
It's no matter darling where you are
I think of you
Day and night, night and day, why is it so

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