Doc Ch. 02bykingkey©
I had been driving for about 3 days when the weather really turned nasty with a lot of thunder and many close lightning strikes. Thank God I was almost home. I had just turned north out of Hill City toward the old ghost town of Silver City on Highway 385 when a particularly bright flash lit up the front of my truck, causing me to swerve off the road into a gully. The next thing I knew, everything went black!
It must have been some hours later when I woke because it looked like the sun was just coming out and the sky was clear. I was up against the driver's door with my truck wrapped part way around a pine tree where the passenger door would be.
I had to force the driver's door open. It was relatively undamaged but the angle the truck was leaning and the brush made it difficult. I struggled out of my seat, climbed out and examined my truck. I could see that it was totaled. When I swerved off the road down into that gully, it ended up half embedded in a big-assed pine tree after knocking down several others on the way down the bank. Damn! It looked like I'd be walking out.
I went around back to the camper and checked myself out in what was left of the mirror. I had a real nasty cut on my head and the makings of one hell of a shiner.
I got back to my feet a little unsteadily and searched for my first-aid kit. I had a pretty well laid out kit that I had been adding to for years -- ever since I was the medic for my Marine Recon Squad. You never know what you might need -- or when.
After cleaning and bandaging that nasty gash in my forehead, I looked around, and figured I might as well head on home, as it was closer than trying to walk back to the highway and on into town. That decided, I slung my first aid pack over my shoulder and groaned at the thought of walking several miles with a headache and all the aches and pains of being thrown about in the wreck -- I'd thought I was done with all that ground-pounding while beat-up when I left the Marines. I struck off up the dirt road toward my family home.
Three hours later I was just coming onto our ranch land and things started to really look wrong. I had been noticing little things that weren't quite right all along, but put them down to things changing because I had been away from home so long, but what I was seeing now ... this ... was just ... wrong.
I had come to the crossing of Blanched Creek, but where was the bridge that my dad and uncles built when I was just 10? There was no sign it had been washed away in a flood. In fact, it looked like it had never even been there in the first place. The road just headed straight into the ford. And... now that I was paying closer attention, where were all the fences that I had spent so much time as a kid repairing? Well, maybe the bridge had been washed out and the fences fallen down to disrepair, but none of my family had ever mentioned the place being in this kind of shape and I had been over that bridge not all that long ago on one of my infrequent visits home.
Thinking the folks at home probably had a simple answer, I figured I would leave the road and take a short cut through the old homestead to the main house. There, I'd see if any of my family could give me a ride back to my truck to get my things.
I struck out to do just that and about 20 minutes later I was just within sight of the old place. I saw someone coming out of the old barn. What the hell! No one had lived there for ages! Sure, we used to have hunters coming around wanting to stay there, but after the first horse was shot, we put a quick stop to that.
As I got closer I was really in a state of shock because the only times I had ever seen this man before was in pictures. Here was my great grandfather, who died in 1893. I called out as I walked up and he turned white as a ghost, obviously as shocked as me.
"Clay? Clay? Is that you?" he asked.
"Well my mama did name me Clayton, but I don't think I'm who y'all mean." I told him.
"Sure you are. You look a little older but pretty much the same. They told us you was killed down at Fort Laramie, though I don't know why you wanted to become a Army Doctor after you finished that fancy doctor school back east." Now the reason for his shock was obvious -- he thought he was seeing a ghost returned from the dead!
I stared at him in amazement. "But Grandpa Henry, that wasn't me! That was my Great Uncle Clay that was a doctor at Fort Laramie. My dad said I took after him as far as he remembered."
"Who's your pa's folks?" he asked
"Jake and Storm Song"
"But Jake's only 4 years old!" he exclaimed
"Well he was 35 when he had dad."
"This sure is a might confusing! Maybe we should keep most of this to ourself's for now and let everyone think you are Clay. To bad though... we could sure use a doctor 'round these parts. Best we got is a horse doctor."
"Well I do have some medical training. I was a medic in the military, but I suppose I know more about being a doctor them most of the doctors around here." I didn't know for sure, but with the other weird things, meeting what appeared to be my great grandfather obviously living on what should have been an abandonedhomestead, I was beginning to have an idea. And yes, if what I thought was true, then I did indeed have more medical training than any doctors around there.
"I still say you look and act like Clay. Too bad he really was killed.
"That damn Custer broke the treaty they signed back in 68 at Fort Laramie giving all the Black Hills to the Lakota. When one of his men done found gold over there in French Creek and blabbed about it, now the whole damn area is flooded by Fools trying to get rich. It's got them Lakota up in a rage, and they're killin' everything in sight."
"What about you here, all by yourselves? They bothering you?"
"Nah... since I'm married to Red Cloud's youngest wife's sister they pretty much leave us alone. Every once in a while some young bucks come around trying to start trouble, but Red Cloud keep's them pretty much on a short rope. Last time they started something I peppered their asses with rock salt. Plus, we have always treated them right in trading and if they are hungry we let them cut out a couple of steers. But away from here you'd better be armed."
"Grandpa Henry, what date is it anyway?" The more Grandpa Henry talked, the more I felt my suspicion was right, impossible as it seemed. If he answered the way I thought, then I would be certain.
"I think it's July, Year of Our Lord, 1876. I know it's 1876, but I'm not sure if it's July -- could be June. A body kinda loses track o' time out here."
Despite what I'd already figured out, the shock of having it confirmed must have shown on my face and in my body language. I think I muttered, "1876... then it really is Grandpa Henry... how...?"
Grandpa Henry may have heard me, but I'm sure he saw my reaction. He paled a bit then seemed to get a grip and took control. From the way he did, it was evident he too had figured out my oddities where time-based. I was at a loss to understand why he accepted it so easily. Maybe after thinking I was the real Clay come back from the dead, the time thing wasn't much stranger. "I think maybe you should call me Uncle Henry rather than Grandpa or folks will look at us both funny, being as with your looks they are going to think you are my brother's boy, Clay. Another thing -- those are some odd looking clothes you're wearing -- we need to do something about that. I think I still got all of Clay's stuff in the barn. Why don't we get ya looking natural? What year are you from?" The last was asked almost too casually as I followed him into the barn.
"Yesterday when I woke up it was July 7, 2009."
He stopped dead in his tracks.
Author's Note: In most Marine outfits the medics are Navy Corpsmen, but in the Force Recon outfits the medics also fight so they are made up of the actual Combat Marines. Everyone has to multi-task.
I would like to thank my great editors Eviltwin and Ice Wolf they make my scribbling worth reading.