All Things Mysterious Volume Nineteen Eighty-Four
Lt Jones in: The Alternate Universe
John Lennon finished tuning his Epiphone Casino and sent a chord through his Vox amplifier. There! That sounded pretty good. After ten years at his civil service job in Birmingham, he’d finally got a chance to play some of his music. Now that his equipment was sorted out, he was ready to rock and roll!
In a nearby park, a group calling itself America for an American America was holding a rally around the hot button issues of the day-- an end to the occupation of the Sandwich Islands and for the legalization of beer.
John Winston Lennon was slowly dying. Not in a physical sense, although he was doing that, just as we all are. No, he was dying onstage. No one seemed to be listening and those that were couldn’t even be bothered to applaud at the end of a song. And he’d busted out his ‘A’ material for this gig! Just what did he have to do to hold an audience--jump up and down and spit wooden nickels?
When Lieutenant Jones materialized from his hotel room in Dubai he was face down in the grass. He must have been sleeping, but he was wide awake now! He was in a large park in the center of a city, he could tell that much, and as he looked over his surroundings he saw a large gathering of people at one end of the park. Apparently someone was about to make a speech. This must be the focal point in this time and place that he’d been meant to see.
Lennon had slunk out of the pub after being stopped in the midst of his set by the proprietor, who said that the remaining patrons wanted to hear a Swedish singing group called Oslo on the jukebox and would he kindly pack up and go? Darn it! fumed Lennon. He knew, absolutely knew, that folks would enjoy his music if he only had a chance to present it. Maybe some more practice wouldn’t hurt. He went to the park down the street to do a little busking. Meandering over to his favorite area where the picnic tables were, shrugged his guitar case off his shoulder and opened it up, carefully placing it open on the ground, the better to collect any donations. He began playing a composition of his very own called ‘Plutocrat Hero’ which was a slow, hypnotic number celebrating the masters of the universe. Soon the people at the rally began looking in his direction and nodding along with the beat. One, a man with tousled hair and very white teeth, gave a thumbs-up sign. One called out, ‘You know, kid, that’s a pretty good song.’ What else you got?’ Lennon smiled and launched into another song he called ‘Happiness Is a Warm Sandwich,’ which was a pointed comment on the occupation of the islands.
‘I personally like classical music, but it has a good beat,’ a man in a three-piece suit sniffed. In a moment he was drowned out by the rally’s first speaker.
‘We believe that the Islands should be open to all, and not be restricted to rich folks and army men. We believe that beer should be legal to brew, possess, and drink for anyone over the age of ten. Where we veer off is the methods to achieve these goals.’
‘BOMBS!’ shouted half the people.
‘LOVE!’ shouted the other half.
‘QUIET!’ shouted the other other half.
‘As I was saying,’ continued the principal speaker, ‘what I propose is a fact-finding trip to the Sandwich Islands and find out for ourselves what the effect of the occupation is!’ Naturally this was met with raucous cheers, for who wouldn’t want to go to a warm island paradise? No one rallying in the park really knew for sure what was going on there; the Islands were thousands of miles away and most people had only a vague idea of the details of the ongoing military occupation but many were strident about it anyway, after a fashion.
‘If we can end this unconscionable occupation, I’d even give up bootleg beer!’ This, of course, was met with a chorus of boos.
The speaker continued, ‘We will take a delegation of six people; raise your hand if you’d like to volunteer!’
All but a handful of people raised their hands; to narrow the selection process, the speaker, whose name was Jonah, selected those who had not. Lennon was one, since he was still playing his guitar; the Lieutenant was another, since he was really just an observer; two more were a couple who were sound asleep under a tree and paid no attention to the entire rally; and of course Jonah himself. That made five, and they would need the sixth to actually get them there by hook or by crook.
Once the couple was awakened and told of their good fortune, all agreed to meet at the docks very early the next morning, for it was a long way to the Sandwich Islands. For his part, Lt. Jones had an uneasy feeling that something was amiss in this timeline.
When they arrived at the pier, the travellers were dismayed to find that they were sailing all the way across the ocean on a raft. A rickety looking thing that looked to be held together by string, bits of tape, and chewing gum, it sure didn’t look like it could hold all six people and their effects, but, they hadn’t much choice, as luxury liners are expensive. Still, mused the Lieutenant, this was pretty spartan for such an undertaking. But the band of hardy sailors was so convinced that their cause was just that they all dutifully clambered aboard the raft without a look back, and soon they were a-sail. Jonah, the head of the organizing committee for the rally, navigated since he had provided the raft after the captain of the ship they’d chartered got a better deal to sail to Seward’s Folly up north. The couple who'd been sleeping at the rally were talking to John Lennon, who had brought his guitar, an extra pair of trousers, and literally nothing else. Lt. Jones brought up the rear of the raft, if a raft can be said to have a rear, and was alone with his thoughts. The feeling that something was very amiss with this time frame was even stronger now, and he felt sure that the focal point in time was very near and that something needed to be set right to put the universe back on track. But his reverie was rudely interrupted when the cry went up--MAN OVERBOARD!
Whew! Who has fallen overboard? Can they really get to the Sandwich Islands on a raft? Who or what is the focal point in time, and can the Lieutenant fix the universe? Tune in next Thursday for the exciting conclusion to Lieutenant Jones in: The Alternate Universe!
Alternate histories are fun!
Paul Christopher knows who shot JFK and he sets out to prove it, even after his superiors at the CIA nix his investigation. He quits and goes out on his own to prove (or disprove) his theory. Not strictly an alternate history, it's a corking good read and a very plausible story in terms of how the martyrdom of the late president might have happened.
Bet you didn't know that there are really at least two 2016s--read about the both of them here and see which you prefer!
There's more than one 'Germany won WWII' novel out there; this is one of the best:
Questions/Comments/Vera Lynn records? Mike@mysteriousbookshop.com