Read Along: Paradise Palms: Chapter 30
Girlfriend wanted to scream, but the shock of the situation constricted her throat. It was all she could do just to breathe. Sam seemed to be the only person not surprised by what had happened. The speed with which he applied the tourniquet to the detective’s arm was nothing short of amazing. The bleeding stopped almost instantly. Until he started barking orders, no one had moved.
Where had the officer gone? Girlfriend wondered. He had just disappeared into nothingness. Into that strange jungle Sam had tried to describe to her, but nothing he’d said could prepare her for the reality of it. What would happen to that man?
“Girlfriend! Drive back to the house. Now! I don’t want you here.”
She heard his words and knew what he meant, but she couldn’t react. She could only move her head in Sam’s direction and look at him. He shouted again.
“No.” Girlfriend shook her head. With what she’d just seen, she wasn’t about to leave him there alone. She couldn’t do that. How could she go and leave Sam here with all this chaos? She needed to see him and know he was alright. Hadn’t she explained that to him already?
“Girlfriend, go. I’m not asking you, I’m telling you. I don’t know what else is going to happen here and the last thing I want is something to happen to you. Now get back to the…”
“I’m here because I want to be. Not because you ordered me to be here. If there’s something I can do, tell me.”
She leveled her stare at Sam and didn’t move. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then leaned in and kissed her.
“Then I need you to make sure Detective Schneider is fine until the ambulance gets here. See if you can find something to cover up the end of his arm. I’m going to see if I can find out what happened and if everyone else is alright.”
Girlfriend nodded. She fetched the small first aid kit from the back of the quad and hurried to Detective Schneider’s side. He’d stopped screaming, but still gripped his arm and moaned in pain.
“Detective, I’m here to help you. I need to look at your arm to see if there’s anything I can do.”
He didn’t reply. His skin felt clammy. He was going into shock and she needed to do something. Cover him. That’s what she needed to do.
“Officer!” She yelled to the one officer who still hadn’t moved. He looked at her. “I need a blanket. Quickly. He’s going into shock. I need to get him covered.” The officer nodded. “And find out how long it’s going to take that ambulance to get here. He needs to get to a hospital fast before he loses any more of his arm.”
The officer ran off and Girlfriend focused her attention to the end of Andrew’s arm. The cut was so perfectly clean as if a massive blade had severed is cleanly. The bone and muscle, though still leaking a slight amount, appeared otherwise undamaged.
Girlfriend opened the first-aid kit and got out the gauze and a large patch. The patch barely covered the tip of Andrew’s arm and, based on his lack of response, he’d gone into shock. She wrapped the gauze and tried to get his attention.
“Detective! Detective, talk to me. Do you know where you are? Can you tell me your name?”
He stared up into the sky. She held the bandage with one hand and shook his shoulder. He blinked his glassy eyes, but made no other response.
“Here’s the blanket,” The officer said, holding out the blanket for her to take.
“Well cover him! I’m a little busy with his arm. Cover him as much as you can.”
Girlfriend used the entire roll of gauze and a good amount of tape before she considered the job finished.
Sam stood with the other two officers, keeping them back, away from the line in the dirt where the fourth officer had disappeared. Sam appeared to be the only sane person. That was, until Doc Brenner showed up.
Doc had on a brown suit and a rounded hat. He walked purposefully with a cane in one hand and a smug smile on his face. He looked calm and relaxed as he approached Sam.
“Keep on eye on him,” Girlfriend told the officer, pointed to the detective.
She got up and walked over to Sam, who still hadn’t noticed Doc. When Sam did see him, he lunged at him.
“What the hell have you done?” Sam screamed, grabbing Doc’s lapels. “Do you know what you’ve done?”
Doc Brenner’s hat fell off as Sam shook him violently. Girlfriend placed herself between the two of them. Doc had lost his calm demeanor and looked fearful.
“Let him go! Let go of him, Sam. We’ll never get anything out of him if you keep this up.”
“I should just tear his head off now,” Sam growled, but thankfully he released Doc Brenner.
“I say, what’s the meaning of that reception? I thought you’d be happy to know your hunch about me was correct.”
“I’d be happy if I didn’t know that you killed at least two people and maimed another.” Sam pointed at Detective Schneider ‘s still body on the ground.
Doc Brenner winced looking at the bandaged arm. “Oh dear. What happened?”
“What happened? What happened? Something you did caused a person to fall into that jungle and then the jungle disappeared.”
“Heavens no!” Doc dropped his cane and ran a hand over his face. “This is dreadful. I was fully prepared to turn myself over to your judgment. I only wanted to get your attention before I did.”
“Doc, I think you’ve got some explaining to do. You’d better start talking and fast, before I decide to tear you in half, and it won’t be as neat as it was with Casper.”
“I’m dreadfully sorry for your friend, Sam. I truly am. I had no desire to mislead you earlier and I’m sorry about that as well. I’m afraid I can’t talk here. Not now. I’m losing sensation in my legs and I must sit down.”
Girlfriend took Doc Brenner’s arm. “I’ll help you over to the quad. You can sit there and tell us what’s going on.”
As she helped him over to the quad, Lin and Tiger Lily arrived. “Alright, Doc,” Lin said angrily. “You’ve got some explaining to do.”
“Get in line,” said Sam. “We just lost an officer and the detective here lost an arm.
Lin shrieked at the sight of Detective Schneider’s missing appendage. Tiger Lily only turned her nose in disgust. Girlfriend helped Doc sit on the quad. He took several deep breaths.
“This is all wrong. Nothing like this was supposed to happen.”
Sam reached for Doc’s lapel again, but Girlfriend held him off. “Why don’t you start with what is happening, and you’d better talk fast.”
“Nothing like this was supposed to happen. I assure you that I never intended anyone any harm.”
“What did you intend?” Sam asked. He seemed to have calmed down slightly.
“I was looking for my son.”
That earned a collective gasp from all in the area.
Doc continued after wiping a tear from his eye. “You see, all this started many years ago. My son, a brilliant young man in his own right, helped me to build a transportation device. The only trouble was that we could never figure out where things went.”
Girlfriend didn’t want to hear what Doc was saying and had to sit down herself. The rest all followed suit and sat on the ground. She was only certain that if Doc Brenner was indeed responsible for what was happening, they were all safe for the time being.
Sam shook his head and said, “Don’t tell me you transported your son.”
“Oh heavens no! I would never do such a thing. He was most adamant about not sending me either, even though we were able to recover items we sent in one direction. The items were supposed to teleport across the room. No further.
“We ran into complications, I guess that’s the best way to describe it. Items would come back with debris and dirt. We decided to expand the field of teleportation. We even tried sending small animals to see what happened. Some of them came back dead. We found that with only a slight increase in energy, we could not only transport matter in one direction, but we could bring something back. It was then we started to notice that we were sending metal and animals and getting dirt and vegetation.
“I don’t know how long we worked on the teleporting, but we had to expand the field to the point we could actually send an area the size of a room. That was when we decided to set a timer and send ourselves. We transported ourselves to finally see where the items we transported were going. As you may have already guessed, they were going back in time. Our transporter device was not a teleporter, it was a time machine. We found ourselves in a primeval jungle of pre-history. We went many times, taking pictures, video, documenting and journaling what we found there. Being scientists, it was only a matter of time that we decided to set up a base of operations there, but we couldn’t do that within a small area in Minneapolis. That’s when I got the double wide here at Paradise Palms.
“From there we brought in a lot of material needed to build our base of operations. It wasn’t difficult. Juilo Sanchez keeps such irregular hours, that he would arrive late at night and no one ever suspected anything. They were already used to his coming and going late at night. I paid him well to keep quiet about the shipments he brought in for me.”
“Hold on a second,” Sam said. “Are you telling me that you and your son built a base?”
“Of sorts. My son is very crafty. The base is composed of modular buildings and a small radio station. We even managed to get a rocket strong enough to launch a satellite. I’ve got some incredible images from orbit. No one has even seen prehistoric Earth before, but I’ve got pictures that show the continents just prior to the full break up.” Doc looked excited as he spoke.
“This is where my tale falls apart, I’m sad to say. My son, Clive Brenner, decided that one of us needed to stay at the base and do as much research as he could. He, being the younger and stronger, thought it should be him. He’d be able to fend off any danger, and react faster in a dangerous situation. I didn’t like it, but I had to agree. Everything went fine until two or three months ago. We had exchanged information regularly through the teleporter and I had sent him all the food and equipment he could need. I had even enlarged the area of the teleporter to encompass the entire trailer park so I could send him anything he could need. We had set up mock-ups for the power lines and telephone lines and such as well as a generator to keep power up inside the park during the transfers. The area just east of my trailer is where we would do the transfers.
“Clive didn’t show up the last time I tried to do a transfer to him. I didn’t think much of it at first. I had gone two or three days without hearing from him as he went off on some expedition of his, and then he’d return and we’d start exchanging information. This time I haven’t heard from him at all. No messages, no transfers of information, nothing. I have gone to the base and looked, but I have not seen him there. I dare not go outside the base area for I’m far too old to go traipsing in the jungle unassisted.”
Doc Brenner took a moment to stifle a cry before he continued. “Never in all my years did I think my research would put anyone in danger. Sam, I’m truly sorry for Casper’s death. I’m also very sorry for what happened to the missing officer and this detective. I still must ask, even though I’m sure you’ll all say no, but Sam, can you help me find my son?”
Girlfriend, mesmerized by Doc’s story, looked at Sam. He sat with his head in his hands. She could tell the struggle was tearing him apart. She was sure that given the chance, he would hurt Doc Brenner, but on the other hand, Sam had always been one to give a helping hand when asked. Sam didn’t know Doc that well, but when it came to the trailer park and its residents, he was always there to help.
Slowly, Sam raised his head. He spoke without emotion. “I should let you suffer as you’ve made others suffer. In fact, I think I will. You want to find your son? Do it yourself.”
Sam stood and started to walk away. He stopped when he heard the sirens of the ambulance. One officer who had been waiting near the Sandy Bar ran to join them.
“There’s something on the road! It looks like the front end of a car or something.”
Sam’s head snapped in the direction of the road, then back at Doc Brenner. “You’d better hope someone else hasn’t suffered by your hand.”