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Cronos. Part Four.

A young woman finds space helmet that leads her on to adventure and love.

Cronos. Part Four.

‘Did you make notes when you were here last?’ he asked.

‘No, I only made sketches of the dead Brontosaurus at the site,’ she answered as she got her notebook out and thumbed through the pages.

‘Well I know I did,’ as she continued to turn over blank pages until she looked up at him with a puzzled expression. ‘But they’re not here now.’

‘Different notebook?’

‘No. I never took it out of my bag. I did several pages but they’re not here now,’ a note of exasperation in her voice.

‘And I’ve just had a horrible thought. Come on, we’re going down outside for a minute,’ Brendan said, his face grim.

‘What for?’ Audrey asked.

‘I’ll tell you if I’m right. No. Leave everything here,’ he said as she started to pick up her bag. ‘We’ll only be a few minutes.’ She dutifully obeyed, leaving her bag on the floor, joined him at the edge of the central well, and then descended with him to the lower level. He picked up the helmets and handed one to Audrey and put his on, the visor being up.

‘Now look at this,’ he said after Audrey had settled the helmet on her head, and went and stood on the mat for the ramp to go down. With the daylight flooding in, he pulled out one of the Polaroid pictures of a console from his shirt pocket and showed it to her.

‘Now let’s go outside and back to our own time and we’ll look at the picture again,’ he said as he tucked it back into his pocket. He dropped his visor and ducking his head, went out of the door and down the ramp. Audrey followed suit and descended the ramp and stood beside him.

‘Now let’s lift our visor’s and look at the picture.’ He lifted his visor as did Audrey and he pulled the photo out from his pocket and they both looked at it.

It was completely blank.

‘Just as I thought,’ he said as Audrey gave a small gasp. ‘That explains the lack of the drawings in your notebook. Now let’s drop the visors and see if the picture is still there.’ They flipped them down and Audrey eagerly looked forward to see that the picture of the console was back there again.

‘Well that proves that,’ Brendan said, turning round and returning up the ramp into the ship. Inside, he took off his helmet and, taking Audrey’s, put them both down on the floor as the ramp silently closed behind them. ‘Damn it! That means that whatever notes we write or photos we take, we can’t take them back with us to prove we’ve been in the past. So whatever we see, it’s for us alone, which knocks on the head any thought of going public with this.’

‘Nobel prize?’ Audrey asked.

‘Don’t be crass,’ he said crossly, ‘this is bigger than that in scientific terms, but as I said earlier, we wouldn’t be allowed to keep the thing, so maybe it’s best this way.’ They went and stood in the centre of the well and moved their hands to start to rise up.

‘Let’s look at these other levels,’ Audrey said, coming to a stop at the first one. Brendan had gone slightly past, but soon came back down to her and they stepped off to one side. Well they couldn’t really step off because the wall was quite close to the central well, and there were only two doors that they could see. Audrey put the palm of her hand against the nearest one and it silently opened, the interior suddenly lighting up so that they could see as they moved inside.

The room, if it could be called that, was half the circumference of the ship, and the predominant features of this room were two coffin like capsules. They were about six foot long, the bottom half solid and the upper a clear plastic or similar transparent material like the dome. The lower half was padded in a material like the chairs on the top deck, and Audrey wondered if they gave out massages as well.

Going through the top were two plastic tubes, the ends that were inside the capsule looked like intravenous needles. The upper ends went into large containers against the side wall.

‘I think with these, it was a two man crew,’ Brendan said, waving his hand at the capsules, ‘and the tubes are for intravenous feeding while travelling through space.’

‘Those containers then must be their type of food or fluids,’ Audrey said. ‘These must be the controls,’ she said, moving to the end of one. ‘Four dials and a display screen that’s blank.’

‘Well they are not telling us anything,’ Brendan said.

‘Let’s look over at the other side and see if we can find a toilet or something for I will need to go shortly,’ she said. So they crossed over to the opposite side and got the door open and went inside. All that contained were two shower like cubicles that had many pipes going in or out for they had no way of telling which. On either side were two control panels that did not tell them anything either.

‘Showers or disinfection chambers at a guess,’ he said, ‘but no sign of a toilet pan. You’ll have to go outside,’ he grinned. ‘I’ll come down with you and watch….’

‘No you won’t,’ Audrey interrupted indignantly.

‘…and watch to see that you are not disturbed,’ he finished with a smile. ‘Can’t have you getting caught out there with your pants down now can we?’

She laughed and they went down to the lower level and after donning the helmets, went down the ramp that was the really the door. He stood at the bottom of it while Audrey went off into the closest bushes to do what she had to do and when she came back, he too then went.

‘Let’s check this lower part,’ Audrey said when they were back inside and the door had closed behind them. They both were suffused in this orange glow and they moved round the walls, touching them with the palms of their hands until a door opened. As they went in the air seemed to come alight though they couldn’t find the source like a light bulb or neon, it was as though the air itself was giving off the illumination for there didn’t appear to be any shadows anywhere.

The contents proved that they were in some kind of time machine or space craft for they had before them, four pair of what could only be space suits.

Above each suit was an enormous goldfish type bowl of a helmet, though each pair went from clear glass to black though it was doubtful if they were made of glass. The suits too ranged from very light as Audrey found when she touched them, to very heavy and the last two pair had heavy boots to go with them.

‘We can see now that they only have one head, two arms and two legs whoever they are,’ he said as he lifted a helmet down off the shelf above one of the suits. ‘As they weren’t wearing these, they must use oxygen like us. I think these would be for a planet without air like ours. Look, they’ve got what looks like the same type of thing inside that we’ve been wearing.’ He passed it to Audrey to inspect while he picked one of the last ones down and put it on his head for a moment before taking it off. ‘Couldn’t see a damn thing with this one on.’

‘Probably for strong sun light or ultra violet rays, just look at the thickness of the suit,’ she said.

‘Judging by the boots they haven’t got webbed feet, and, hey look, a pair of gloves,’ and he held them up.

‘Four fingers,’ Audrey said looking at them, ‘or would it be three and a thumb?’

‘Can’t tell, they’re all the same length,’ Brendan said as he turned them over in his hands.

‘What height do you think, judging by the suits?’ she asked.

‘Oh about four six or eight I would say. Don’t you remember from your dream?’ he asked.

‘I can’t say I really noticed. I was too busy watching the drama but they were definitely a little smaller than I am.’

‘Let’s see what else we can find,’ he said going out of the space suit locker for that’s what it appeared to be. ‘Judging by where our helmets are and this door, we’re a third of the way round so there must be another room along here.’

He then moved off to the left, feeling his way along the walls with his hands. Audrey stayed where she was for it gave them some illumination other than the orange glow that was following Brendan like a huge halo.

‘Nothing,’ he said when he reached the helmets. ‘You try.’

Audrey moved out of the locker and the light faded and the door closed as she moved in her own aura of light and felt her way round but failed to find a door.

‘It doesn’t make sense,’ he said when she reached where he was standing. ‘There should be a door about here,’ he said as he went back and stood at what be about a third of the way round, feeling all over the wall.

‘What if it has a failsafe mechanism. You know, like you see in the films about nuclear submarines. Two keys to arm the missiles so that one person cannot run amok and start World War Three.’

‘You could be right, Audrey. Come over here and we’ll feel together,’ he said.

‘Now if that isn’t a chat up line….,’ she said and they both laughed and she had a tremor run through her for his laugh was very melodic and, she struggled for the right word but only came up with sexy. ‘I’d just love to come and have a feel with you,’ she said with a smile and joined him and almost instantly as their hands met on the wall, the door opened.

‘Did you say Open Sesame?’ he asked.

‘No. All it needed was a woman’s touch,’ she smiled. They moved in and had the same light spread out around them and saw the reason for a two handed touch for it seemed to contain weapons. Not weapons that they had ever seen or dreamed of, but then, they were not sure if they were or not.

There were at least eight that could be possibly hand guns, four that could be a form of rifle. There were sticks and tubes, some with loops, some of them looking like cattle prods.

‘In my dream, one of them was holding something like this,’ Audrey said and put out her hand but Brendan caught her wrist.

‘No. Don’t touch them. We don’t know how to handle them. God, wouldn’t the Pentagon just love to get their hands on these,’ he finished in a whisper. Reluctantly he pulled Audrey from this arsenal of weapons that this world had never seen, nor would they. The door silently closed as they moved out into the central well in their own orange glow.

‘They’re not of our world Audrey and best left where they are,’ he said, holding her hand.

‘Yes Brendan, you’re right,’ she said, loving the way his hand was holding hers.

‘Let’s check out the next level,’ and so they gently rose up to their hand movement, finding that one was sufficient as they were still holding a hand of the other. They had to laugh when both made the gesture to find that they had pointed in opposite directions and it was Audrey who dropped hers to follow Brendan.

They were slightly disorientated by being in a circular environment that it took them nearly halfway round before a door revealed itself to the hand and they stepped into what they thought of as the engine or propulsion unit of the sphere.

There was an almost inaudible hum to the ear but what took the eye was the plethora of tubes of different sizes that almost pulsed in a variety of colours. The largest had a blue glow to it and if they could have slowed time even further they would have seen that it was a single orb that flew around inside. But as they couldn’t, it appeared to be one continuous flow of blue light.

Other tubes had different colours, some dull, some bright. One that caught Audrey’s eyes was one thin tube that flashed round at a regular spaced interval and unconsciously counted and then realised that it had a space of forty five seconds.

‘I know that one,’ she cried out. ‘That’s the homing beacon.’

They had begun walking round and found that all these tubes passed through four massive box like compartments that had many dials and buttons, the lights flickering on and off. You cannot say that they were in all four corners in a circular room but they were equidistant from each other and it was from these came the low humming noise and she felt them give off a very slight tremor.

‘Whoever they were or wherever they came from, have far exceeded whatever our world can produce in engineering and technology. We’re thousands of years behind in this kind of thing,’ said Brendan in awe. ‘I think we’re in the wrong profession in looking at the past when we should be looking into the future if this is what is there.’

‘I’ve got a funny feeling that those who were travelling in this were the same as us. Looking back into the past, looking for the beginning or whatever it is we are really looking for,’ Audrey said.

‘That’s quite a profound thought Audrey,’ he mused, ‘and you could very well be right. Other than that, they could be on a Thomas Cook tour of the universe.’

‘Are you making fun of me?’ she asked, a frown on her face.

‘Of course not darling,’ he smiled at her and her heart gave a leap, for it was the second time he’d used that word. ‘I’m hungry,’ he said. Men, Audrey thought, stomachs first before love.

So they left the propulsion room and drifted up to the top where they had left the baskets.

‘Good Lord,’ Brendan exclaimed, ‘the sun’s going down. How long have we been here?’ Audrey looked at her watch.

‘About seven hours, though we did walk for half an hour before we got to the helmets, then another half hour from there to here.’

‘So what time would it be at the camp now?’

‘Well if we left the camp at say, half past one. Walk for half an hour to the helmets, that makes it about two minutes past two o’clock at the camp.’

‘Bloody hell! So if we wanted to be back at the camp for six o’clock, how much time would we have here?’

‘Well that’s one question so far today that I can answer,’ she said as she got her pad and pencil out. ‘Two and a half days exactly,’ she said triumphantly after a few minutes of calculating. He took the pad and pencil from her and started to do some calculations of his own. While he was busy with that, she opened the wine and poured some out into the paper cups she’d packed and opened a fresh pack of sandwiches.

‘This time thing is frightening,’ he said abstractedly taking a sip of his wine. ‘It seems fun to stay here for two and a half days and yet only be away from the camp for four hours. That would be nearly thirty six and a half hours for a whole year. Ten years would only be just over fifteen days. How could you explain your ageing so fast in so short a time? God it’s frightening.’

The sun was going down fast now and there wasn’t much daylight left.

‘Eat something and we’ll think of this later,’ Audrey said, offering up the pack. ‘It’ll be dark very soon and we haven’t found a place to sleep yet.’

‘We could always sleep in those capsules down below,’ he said as he munched on a sandwich.

‘Oooh no!’ Audrey said with a shiver. ‘To me they look like coffins with glass lids, no thank you.’

‘Well you can have a massage as you sleep in one of these chairs,’ he laughed.

‘I’d rather sleep in a place where you can hold me to stop me being frightened of being in this strange place,’ she said in a quiet voice.

‘Now that I would love to do if there was such a place of comfort,’ he said most seriously in a voice that matched hers.

In just a few minutes, the light from the sky disappeared and it was dark outside and yet they still had a subtle glow in this upper part of the sphere so that they were still able to see one another as if in half shadow. He moved over to sit beside her and he took her into his arms and they kissed, slowly to fall onto the blanket where they stayed the night.

They woke up in the morning to full daylight and put back on the clothes that had come off in the night.

‘That’s one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in ages,’ he said as he sat up.

‘And one of the most satisfying,’ she smiled as she did up the last button of her shirt before giving him a kiss. ‘Now what would you like for breakfast. We have a sandwich, a sandwich or a sandwich,’ she laughed. ‘I forgot to pack a frying pan.’

‘How long can we last with what we’ve got,’ he asked, taking a sandwich.

‘Maybe breakfast tomorrow it we go a little bit easy. Now what shall we do today?’

‘Study the consoles and see if we can make some sense out them,’ he said, finishing another sandwich and taking a small drink of water.

They went up to the map room and began to study the grid. This was on the lower screen and it had a total of thirty six squares, each with a set of markings at the top which was presumed to be the sectors.

The one in the middle was of a darker shade of the others and the markings of this square were visible on the small display screen above what they thought would be what we would call a keyboard.

Now the screen up above seemed to be of a much larger area with one darkened patch that they assumed was where the lower one was showing where they were, that had a different set of symbols displayed above it.

‘I think this would be the enter button,’ Brendan said, indicating the largest knob on the right hand side of the keyboard. ‘If we were to put another set of symbols onto the display and pushed this, we might be able to move the ship.’

‘But we don’t know how big each square is. It could be a few hundred yards, it could be miles,’ Audrey said, a little apprehensively, ‘besides, we don’t know which way is north by this grid.’

‘What was the compass bearing we followed?’

‘As close to south east as you could get.’

‘And the door and ramp was facing slightly towards us which would put that roughly facing south then,’ he said.

‘Yes, but is the door on this grid at the top or bottom, it still could be facing in any direction?’

‘We’ll only find out by trying. Are you game? We were able to see that ridge to the north. We’ll move one square, check it from the outside or the observation point up top. If we do succeed in moving it, we should then be able to bring it back to this same place.’

‘Alright, but make a note of everything you touch and what is up on the screens now.’ This was done on their note pads and then Brendan began pressing the buttons following the sequence to the left of the existing dark one. This sector, as he called it was up on the screen and he looked at Audrey with his right hand hovering over the big button.

‘Ready?’ he asked and her hand came and held his and she nodded, not daring to speak. His hand pushed the button and they could hear a slight hum and felt an infinitesimal tremor and then silence again. They had been watching the screen in front of them and watched as the original one came up bright and the one to the left darkened.

‘Was that it?’ Audrey asked in a perplexed tone. ‘If it was, it wasn’t very exciting was it?’

‘No, but let’s have a look from up top first before checking outside.’

So they left their seats and gravitated up to the dome and looked out and the view was still over trees.

‘Well the ridge is still there,’ Audrey said.

‘Yes, but is it closer or further away, that’s the point?’

‘Let’s look down at ground level.’

Back to the central well they let themselves down and put their helmets on and went through the door that opened at their touch and the door and ramp came into operation as they trod on the mat. With visors in place, they went down and stood on the ground and looked around.

‘Well we definitely moved,’ Audrey said, ‘for I don’t recognise the tree formations here. If only we could leave markers or something,’ she cried.

‘Okay. We keep moving square by square until we hit the clearing where the Brontosaurus is lying,’ Brendan said and led the way back into the craft.

They moved one square up, nothing. Two right, two down, three across and two up, the eleventh square was when they found it.

‘Yes, yes, yes!’ Audrey almost screamed out, jumping up and down in the dome. There, about four hundred yards away, they could see the dead brute and Audrey turned and hugged Brendan. ‘Isn’t it great! We found it!’

‘Yes,’ he said, hugging her back. ‘Now let’s plot it.’ He pulled his pad from a pocket and began to sketch the angle it was lying and used her compass for the bearing. ‘Now let’s measure the distance.’ Back down again they went and with helmets on, paced the distance between the ship and the dead creature. He also noted that the door of the ship was definitely facing south.

Back inside the map room, he put in the code for the square one down and one right and moved the ship backwards, or so it seemed to Audrey.

‘Why have we started to move away?’ she asked.

‘Look,’ he said pointing at the square they were on. ‘We’re here in the middle of this one. The ’saurus is here in this square, about four hundred yards from the middle. Now if we pace out the distance from here to it, I can then work out the size of each grid and from that, work out the scale of the big one up there,’ pointing to the screen above them.

‘Oh, I didn’t think of that,’ Audrey said a little abashed.

‘How are we going to get an accurate measurement?’ Audrey asked as the tramped towards the carcase.

‘I’ve been giving that some thought and decided that we’ll have to get back into the camp and get my tape measure. Pop the visor up back into our own time. Into the tent, helmet off, pick up the tape, back on with the helmet and then down with the visor. Simple,’ and laughed at the expression on her face.

‘You’ve certainly worked out how to use these things,’ she said in admiration.

‘It took an hour to work it out so I’m not that clever.’

‘Well I think you are,’ she said hugging his arm as they carried on. They reached the dead animal and lifted their visors to see it change into a half dismembered skeleton before turning round to see that work was still going on at the tables.

They walked up to his tent and he was relieved to see that the flap was up so they could enter to retrieve his tape measure. As he said, he took off his helmet to be able to pick it up and putting his helmet back on now they had the tape.

They went back to the tail end of the carcase with their visors down and he thought that twenty yards was long enough to measure at a time. While she stood holding the loose end, he walked off following the beacon in his helmet until he reached twenty yards. He stopped and Audrey walked towards him and went on past, following the same bleep and line in her helmet until the tape went taut. Forty yards so far.

They did this change about in their measuring eighty eight times which gave them exactly one mile and they could see the sphere. Another three turns to reach a total of one thousand eight hundred and twenty yards.

‘So far so good,’ Brendan said, writing in his note book. ‘Now we move the ship for another measurement.’ He led the way in and up to the map room.

‘Now with the carcase lying north west of where we landed, we go two squares west and two north. Then we measure the distance to the carcase and I can then work out roughly the dimensions of these square grids.’ Audrey agreed and set the code for the square they wanted and pushed the enter button.

The slight hum and tremor lasted about a second and they then went down and out for this measuring.

It was near enough to one thousand yards. He did his calculations as they walked back and entered the craft.

‘Beam me up Scotty,’ he joked to Audrey, ‘and set us down on the grid with our dead friend.’ This she did and when they’d settled down, they went up to the dome just to make sure it was there.

‘I wish we had a table here,’ Brendan said when they were back in the map room. ‘It’s damn difficult to keep writing on my lap. ‘Right, as far as I can make out, each grid is about nine hundred yards squared. That would make this whole area just over three miles making the whole thing covering about twenty seven and a half miles in total. That would be the size of that one grid on the upper screen. So,’ and he began doing some more sums for a moment or two, ‘if that screen also has thirty six squares it would be a total of just under twenty thousand and eight hundred square miles.’

‘That’s big,’ Audrey said.

‘Not really. From one side to the other would only be one hundred and sixty five miles across so we are really only looking at just a fragment of Argentina.’

‘Well I’m not walking across that today,’ said Audrey. ‘I’ve had enough walking and I’m tired. Let’s call it a day for now. There’s not a lot of food left and we’ve still got dinner at the camp to eat.’

‘Okay,’ he said, ‘but make sure we leave all our notes here so that they don’t disappear.’ With that, they gathered up their waste paper, blanket and empty water bottles in the baskets and went and stood in the central part for their descent to the lower level. With the dimension of this well being only four foot across and with what they were carrying, they squeezed themselves together to go down. She smiled up at him as she pressed the front of body against his.

‘I like this kind of lift,’ she said as they descended.

‘Elevator,’ he corrected her.

‘In English it’s a lift.’

‘Lift is to raise something, and elevator goes up and down,’ he said.

‘I know something else that goes up and down,’ she said with a smile as she kissed his chin.

‘Minx,’ he laughed as they reached the bottom. ‘Time for the helmets and back to the land of the living.’

‘And dead. We’ve still got that Brontosaurus to finish yet.’

‘Do you know,’ he said as she put her helmet on, ‘this is the first time I’ve wanted a dig to finish so that we can do some more exploring in the time ship.’

‘Me too when I found out what the helmet was,’ she replied, leading the way out and onto the flat ground and lifted her visor. With her disappearing from his sight he lifted his.

‘Don’t do that without saying something,’ he protested. ‘It made me jump when you suddenly vanished.’

‘Sorry,’ she grinned, turning to him. ‘I wanted to see if the others were still working, and they are.’

‘What time is it?’ he asked and she looked at her watch.

‘Three thirty. A bit early to go back from a picnic. We’ve only been away two hours at the most. What can we do to fill in the time?’

‘Well let’s move further away where they can’t see us and I’ll tell you,’ he grinned and she grinned back at him and they moved away from the camp.

Two hours later they roused themselves and made themselves presentable.

‘We’ll leave the big baskets and helmets here and you can come and collect them when it’s dark,’ Audrey said. ‘I carried them full yesterday.’

‘This morning you mean,’ he said. ‘Let’s not start making mistakes in front of them by getting our days confused.’ They strolled hand in hand back to the camp where work for the day had finished and parted at the entrance to her tent. ‘I’ll take the basket up to the mess, you go and have your shower first.’

Audrey handed over the basket and went into her tent and collected her douche bag and shampoo and went off to the shower. She paid special attention to the white bits that Brendan had kissed and after frolicking naked in the sun with him knew for certain now that she was in love with him, her earnest wish now was that he was in love with her. The cold water helped cool down her desires as she washed herself.

She’d taken a clean set of clothes with her and felt fresh and so alive now and almost skipped her way back to her tent.

‘All yours now,’ she sang out as she went into hers and heard an inaudible reply that she took to be his assent. In her tent, she put a little bit of make-up on using the small stand mirror and daubed some perfume on in the right places and went up to the mess tent for a beer before the dinner bell was sounded. He joined her twenty minutes later.

‘Why do the boys keep looking at me and smiling?’ she whispered to him after ten minutes, for as they had drifted into the mess tent, that’s what they had been doing.

‘Professor Martinez has already guessed about us and no doubt he has mentioned it to Manuel. He in turn, will have told the others and so it is now common knowledge,’ he said.

‘What common knowledge?’ she asked.

‘In your quaint English way, that we are an item,’ he said with a smile. ‘Look, we’d been out for a picnic and you are bouncing about like a spring lamb, especially when you came out of the showers.’

‘You were watching me?’

‘Only to see when I could go there, besides,’ and he dropped his voice, ‘I would rather have been in there with you,’ and he picked her hand up and kissed it.

‘Stop it!’ she hissed, they’re all looking at us,’ her face going all red.

‘I don’t care for I love you,’ he said now with a serious face.

‘You do?’ she gasped, her heart thumping wildly in her chest.

‘Yes, and if it wasn’t for the grinning cretins that surround us I would be now going down onto one knee to ask you to marry me when we finish the dig. Please say you will?’ Not only was her heart pounding but the blood was now racing round her system raising her pulse rate up to a very high level. Her eyes came alight at the anxious look in his and she felt that she was trembling all over and glad that she was sitting down for even her knees now felt weak.

‘Oh Brendan yes,’ she breathed out in one long drawn out sigh.

His eyes came alive with joy and he pulled her into his arms and kissed her. There then came clapping from the boys as they watched the two of them in their embrace as they kissed.

Brendan got up from the bench they were sitting on, ‘Cookie!’ he cried as he went over to the big ice box. ‘Glasses, pronto!’ He delved inside and brought out a large bottle of Champagne and began to tear off the foil as he went back to the table as Cookie put a tray of glasses down.

Martinez and Manuel came into the mess tent just as Brendan got the wire off the bottle and popped the cork. ‘Come take a glass,’ he cried to them as he began filling the glasses. ‘I brought some of this with us hoping for that answer,’ he said to Audrey. He passed round a glass to all inside the tent and finally gave one to Audrey and picked up the last one for himself.

‘Gentlemen! I ask you to drink a toast to Audrey who has just consented to be my wife!’ and he raised his glass, Audrey raising hers to try and cover her bright red face. Though he had spoken in English, it was known the gist of what he had said and they all raised their glasses crying out Salud. He then went and kissed her again and she began to cry.

‘Why the tears darling?’ he cried.

‘I’m so happy,’ she wailed and it made everyone laugh when it was translated.

Martinez was quick to come over and give the bride to be a kiss and Manuel shyly gave her a peck on the cheek.

‘Felicidades! Senorita,’ he stammered, backing away at his temerity in actual kissing the girl and going back to take the hand of Martinez. Audrey had noted this but thought it of no consequence so dismissed it from her mind.

Not only was one bottle of champagne opened, but six that evening, the last two being drunk round the fire after dinner by the four of them in their low chairs.

‘If only I were twenty years younger,’ Martinez slurred, not for the first time. ‘I would have given you a run for your money,’ he said to Brendan in his halting English. ‘But now I have to give way to the younger people,’ and he patted the hand of Manuel.

‘I will go to my bed now to leave you two to enjoy this night, the fire, the stars and of being in love. Salud!’ and he finished his glass and got up saying something in Spanish to Manuel who quickly finished his glass and gave a little wave as he and Martinez left the camp fire to disappear in the gloom.

‘He’s pissed,’ Audrey said when they were alone.

‘I’m drunk too. Drunk with the sight of you filling my eyes with your beauty. Drunk with happiness that you have agreed to marry me. Drunk with….’

‘Champagne and tiredness,’ Audrey said, getting up and going and sitting on his lap and putting her arm around his neck as his arm went round her waist, and kissed him. He held her tight with the one arm as they kissed and with the other, began to fondle her.

‘Not here,’ she whispered in his ear, ‘out in the middle of the camp.’

‘Then let’s go to my tent and consummate our marriage.’

‘We’re not married yet?’ she said.

‘Well practise then,’ and she laughed but insisted that they use her tent so that she could kick him out before the morning tea arrived.

‘What shall we do today?’ Brendan asked her, though he was a joint leader of the excavation.

‘I think we should get this dig over as fast as we can, besides, I’ve still got to photograph yesterdays work and catalogue them, get them packed.’

‘I agree,’ he said, ‘but our helmets and things are still out there.’

‘I’ll slip off sometime and get them. Let’s get this over with and then we can spend more time with the ship.’

So they set to work with a will to try and get the job in hand finished as quick as possible. Brendan had sent a letter out by the next truck to his home to announce that he was engaged to one Doctor Audrey Summers of England, and would, on his return to Boston be married to her.

Sunday’s were still observed to be a day of rest for the work crew, though for Audrey and Brendan, it was a day, in their present time, at the ship. Though due to this time warp, would spend several days observing a herd of living Brontosaurus. It was a mine of information for Audrey and she made copious notes of their courting and mating habits.

It took her two weekends to write a thesis on the herd and mating instincts of the Brontosaurus, taking care to write it objectively and not give any hint that she had actually observed them in their natural habitat. She even went so far as to describe the padded feet which had never been recorded before. She made two copies to be sent off on the next food delivery truck.

One was sent by Brendan to the College of Anthropology in Boston, and the other to Audrey’s old professor for reading to a similar institute in London.

While Audrey was doing this on these Sundays, Brendan was constantly roving back and forth from the ship’s time to the present time, to record what he could remember of the various symbols on the consoles. Though he couldn’t carry anything written, he had to rely on his memory to record what he had noted.

It took them the next seven weeks to finish off with the last bone and any vestiges left of the subject that was now packed ready for whatever museum would pay for it. The meticulous record of the dig would be transcribed later and a copy sent to the purchaser of the find at its last resting place.

Three trucks were sent up and they all had a good dinner and drink on their final night and the men were a bit hampered the following day by their hangovers when it came time to strike camp.

Brendan had puzzled Professor Martinez by insisting that the water tank and feeding pipe and pump be left as well as the mess tent and all utensils, latrine and shower. To put the man’s mind at ease, Brendan said that he intended to return after his marriage and use the place for his honeymoon. It was a strange place to choose, but then he was an eccentric American and so had no further questions as to what was left and what was taken away.

The six men from La Copelina were paid off, being allowed to take some surplus stores as a bonus. The rest carried on to Bahia Blanca where the last crates of the Brontosaurus were unloaded to be flown later for their storage place in Buenos Aires.

It was here too that Professors Brendan Fowler and Martinez said goodbye as well as Audrey and Manuel, their assistants. The two Argentineans would stay behind to auction off the tents and impedimenta to share what it was sold off for. In respect of Brendan and Audrey, they took the first passenger flight out and were glad to reach Buenos Aires and book into an hotel for a night or two to have a most welcome bath instead of the usual cold shower.

Though two rooms had been booked, one of which was only used that first hour so that they could both have a bath at the same time. But after that, only one room was used for the two nights they stayed there.

Audrey was pleased that she could now relax in hot water and really scrub herself clean, then get back to being a woman by putting on a dress instead of shirt and shorts. After doing her own hair and make-up, she was in high spirits to meet an equally clean Brendan in the bar and have dinner at a proper table and being served in a first class style.

They didn’t stay downstairs long before going to bed and re-avowing their love for each other. As they did the following night.

They left Buenos Aires the following day and flew into Boston where a chauffeured limousine was waiting for them to take them both to his home. In case you are wondering, the helmets travelled with them and though asked about them on their entry into the United States, that they were declared as their motor cycle helmets was accepted.

Brendan’s family having been pre-warned from Buenos Aires of their estimated arrival, a room had been made ready for Audrey to which she was whisked up to immediately on setting foot in his home. This was so that she could have time to recover from the flight and have a bath before being introduced to the curious family.

The Fowler’s were a highly prestigious family in Boston’s society and they were naturally curious that their son, Brendan, a highly sought after male by the females of said society, that he should choose to want to marry an English woman, was nothing but intriguing and they waited for her to be presented to them.

Brendan had knocked on her bedroom door just as the maid sent up to help Audrey had just finished doing her hair. She was wearing a new dress they had bought in B.A. before flying and she looked ravishing and he said so as he kissed her.

‘I’m feeling more nervous now than when I first put that helmet on,’ she said to Brendan when they broke apart.

‘Nonsense! You’ll be fine. Just be yourself and they will love you as I do. Now are you ready?’

‘Once more into the breach dear friends.’


‘No, Henry V sweetheart, let’s go.’

Audrey was greeted with warmth by Brendan’s mother and father. Then she was introduced to his uncles and aunt, One uncle with his wife and his aunt with her husband. She was made to feel like a queen not just because she was Brendan’s intended, but her own open face so alive and vibrant was what endeared her to his family.

It was during dinner, seated with Brendan on one side and the unmarried uncle on the other, it was learnt that Audrey no longer had any family and the uncle, Bernard, at once begged to be allowed to be the one to give her away at the wedding.

She had liked his round fresh face and white haired he might be, would be the perfect foil to be at her side when she did walk down the aisle. So she accepted his offer and he promptly kissed her hand and vowed that if Brendan failed to show up, he would be glad to take his place. Flattered, she kissed him on the cheek which made him blush for they were still sitting at the table.

In an old fashioned way, the women retired to the drawing room for coffee leaving the men to their port and cigars. Here, Audrey went through the usual social interrogation as to her upbringing, family and expectations for the future.

It was artfully done and Audrey didn’t at any time feel discomfited by the experience. These women of Brendan’s family were past masters of this art and she earned their respect and approved Brendan’s choice of his future partner.


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