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Cronos. Part Seven.

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

Cronos. Part Seven.

‘Home darling,’ Brendan said when the ship was still. Audrey stretched and they went up to look at the house as it was back in 1919.

‘When was it built?’ Audrey asked as she held her arm round his waist.

‘I don’t really know. We were living here when one of my great greats fought at the Alamo.’

‘Well it looks lovely and I’m sure that I’m going to love living here. Can we go out and look at it as it is in our time?’

‘Of course, we didn’t come all this way not to see it properly. How long did it take us?’Audrey looked at her watch.

‘Just over three hours.’

‘Three hours and nearly six thousand miles. It’s incredible. Come, let me show you the house as it is now.’ He took her hand and they went to the centre of the craft and went down to the lowest deck and put their helmets on. ‘We’ve got to keep these on because there will be ranch hands about for we can’t let them see us suddenly turn up out of nowhere.’

With the ramp down, they went out and lifted their visors to see the place now in 1999 and yet remain invisible.

‘Oh it’s gorgeous,’ Audrey exclaimed at seeing the well tended lawns and the profusion of flowers round the perimeter of the ranch house, some climbing up the trellis-work that was up against the rails than ran round the verandah. They walked right round but couldn’t enter for all the doors were closed and so he led her to the stables.

‘Look, there’s Sam,’ and she saw a white haired Negro carrying a sack of meal across the yard. ‘He must be sixty now and he still looks the same when I was a child and he’s absolutely marvellous with horses. It was him that taught me to ride, lifting me onto a horse when I was only just able to stand up let alone walk.’

They walked to the stables which were in the shape of the letter L, where some horse’s were looking out of their boxes. The earth was packed down and looked as though it had been swept it was so clean and smooth. Opposite was a large water trough where they went and sat down.

‘How many work here?’

‘Four at the last count. There’s Sam, he runs the place. Ruben and his wife Sarah, she does the cooking for them and keeps the main house clean and tidy. Then there’s Thomas. He and Ruben see to the lawns and exercise the horses as well as the cleaning out of the stables. They all live in the house on the other side of the stables where the large paddock is.’

‘This is lovely so why is it you live in Boston?’ she asked.

‘I don’t,’ he laughed. ‘I live here when I’m not out on a dig. It’s mother and father who live in Boston, that’s where my mother and her family come from. I think her side of the family were at that Boston Tea Party they’ve lived there that long.’

‘But you were born here?’

‘Yes. Father insisted on that. He wanted me to be a Texan as was the rest of our family and that’s why I want us to live here so that our children will be Texans’

‘Will I ever be a Texan?’

‘If you can ride a horse you can become one. Have you ever ridden one?’

‘Not what you would call ride. I’ve sat on one that walked but I don’t think that counts.’ He laughed.

‘Well Sam would be delighted I’m sure to teach you. Come, let’s go back to our camp. This is making me homesick seeing the place and yet I cannot show myself.’

They got up and walked slowly arm in arm back to where the ship was, only finding it by dropping their visors. The ramp and door closed silently behind them, shutting out the daylight but suffusing them in the orange glow as they stood in the middle and gravitated up to the map room.

‘Three hours to get here, how long to get back do you reckon,’ Audrey asked settling herself down on the chair by the earth screen. This had the G2 button pressed so the earth was stationary and she pressed G3 to see the pulsing light which showed here where they were in relation to the rest of the Americas. She then pressed the buttons to set the Earth back into its turning mode.

‘Can’t really say but I guess it won’t take long. So as you’re the pilot, send us back there,’ he said. She put in the grid co-ordinates and pressed the enter button. The light hum and small tremor lasted all of ten seconds.

‘Bloody hell,’ she breathed out. ‘Six thousand miles in ten seconds. Do you know we’ve just set the world’s fastest land speed record.’ She grabbed a pencil and some paper at the map table and worked it out. ‘Wow! Two million, one hundred and sixty thousand miles per hour. That’s faster than anything on Earth or in the air and we didn’t even get any G forces.’

‘The Pentagon would go ape shit if they ever got their hands on this. Talk about stealth bombers, this is more powerful and more dangerous if it got into the wrong hands. So we must not let anyone know of this, ever.’

‘Not even our children? Our future historians?’

‘Only under supervision,’ he grudgingly said. ‘They’ve got to learn first that the world is to be protected and not destroyed.’

Audrey quickly changed the subject for what he had said conjured up the most alarming images that she didn’t want to think about. ‘Let’s go and have lunch and we can talk about us moving up to the ranch,’ she said getting up.

‘I still can’t get my brain round it,’ Brendan said shaking his head as they walked towards the mess tent back at the camp, his helmet swinging from his hand. ‘Ten seconds from Texas to here, the middle of nowhere in the Argentine.’

Audrey got two steaks from the freezer knowing that ten minutes in the sun would soon thaw them out for grilling.

‘We’ll have to go to the market soon if you want fresh veg,’ she said as she prepared the salad. Brendan who was sitting at the table nodded, for he was trying to write down as much as he could from memory of the trip. It was a pain in the butt he’d said to keep going in and out of the ship, taking his helmet off to write down what he could remember on paper outside before going back inside to try and memorise another section of notes to be transcribed.

Instead of beer, he opened a bottle of local wine to go with their steak and salad meal.

‘When can we go to the ranch?’ Audrey asked as they dined.

‘You really want to go there then?’ he smiled at the pleasing expression on her face, knowing the answer before she said it.

‘Oh yes,’ she breathed out, her face aglow. ‘Real green grass instead of this dried scrub here. A swimming pool and I can learn to become a Texan and ride a horse. I can’t wait,’ she said as she chewed on her steak. ‘I hope the beef up there is more tender than this!’

‘You won’t get any better,’ he replied grinning.

‘Angus beef will take some beating,’ she said, trying not be outdone in the beef stakes. ‘Have you ever had beef cattle on the ranch?’

‘I think they disappeared when oil was found. Less trouble, well that’s what my father told me.’

‘So you’ve never gone out catching the critters,’ she smiled as she said this American word, ‘with your lasso, roping and branding them?’

‘So you used to watch Westerns when you were a child?’

‘No. They bored me. The good guy always got six men with six shots despite the fact that they fired over thirty at him and they all missed. No, once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all, though it would be nice to see the real gunfight at the O.K. corral. Which we could do, if you’ve got a mind to relive the past whilst wearing the helmet.’

‘Well I bet it wouldn’t be as good as seeing the film. No, I’ll stick to looking for Dinosaurs and we’ll let the children rewrite the history books. Talking of children,’ he said, putting his knife and fork down, ‘how about a little practice in the sack?’

‘I never thought you’d ask,’ she said pushing her empty plate to one side. ‘I’ll leave the washing up for you to do tomorrow.’



At breakfast next morning they began to discuss about transferring to the ranch. This brought up the problem of the Overlander.

‘We just can’t abandon it. The camp stuff we can, but it would look suspicious if we left without the car,’ Brendan said.

‘Sell it in La Copelina,’ Audrey said.

‘Hah! Who’s got enough money there to buy it. No, we’d have to take it to Bahia Blanca and even there we wouldn’t get a good price for it,’ Brendan said.

‘Well ship it home by air freight or whatever. We can then travel home in the sphere with whatever we can carry.’

‘We wouldn’t have our exit stamped in our passports if we did that,’ he replied.

‘Who cares! We can go wherever we want. We don’t need visas or entry stamps.’

‘Audrey. It could cause us problems later and things could get out of hand. No, we’ve got to work out a way of getting our passports stamped to show as us leaving the country.’ This gave them some thought to mull over as she saw to transferring what she wanted from the camp to the ship.

‘How about this,’ Brendan said as they were having a coffee break. ‘We get our jet to come down to Bahia Blanca to pick us up. Now it’s an airport on the lowest rung of the ladder as far as airports go. We land our ship inside the airport perimeter and get ourselves inside the terminal and present our passports to leave, get them stamped and then make our way to the ship. Here we phone the plane and tell him that we’ve changed our mind. He can then fly off and we’ll be free to leave in the sphere.’

‘Oh great, yes. We just park up and stroll in without anyone seeing us,’ Audrey laughed.

‘With our helmets on?’

‘Oh, yes, I see what you mean. Yes,’ she said becoming more enthused now. ‘We can suss out a way into the terminal and then we can get back out the same way! Yes, it would work. What a clever husband I’ve got,’ she said, leaning over the table to plant a kiss on his nose.

For the sake of having nothing better to do, they took the trip to Bahia Blanca’s airport and found where it would land within the perimeter and, with their helmets on with the visors up, roamed about to see the way the ground staff worked and more importantly, how to get into and out of the main terminal.

It was agreed that he would drive the car and Audrey would find him when he stopped for the day on the route to Bahia Blanca. He would drive for twelve hours and then stop, a distance of roughly two hundred miles. The terrain was difficult and would take all of these hours.

So next morning, they held each other tight as they kissed goodbye and he quickly got into the car and drove off. Audrey couldn’t help but cry after the dust disappeared and sat down on the bed that she had come to love and be loved on to sob at this first parting.

But the tears dried up when she became practical and told herself that it was only for ten hours and so dragged the bed out from the mess tent to spend the day sun bathing. In a way she wanted to be riding with him but knew that she would see him later and so lay back and enjoyed the sunshine.

The sun was on the wane when she roused herself and made a pot roast that was ready when the sun went down and with care, she held it as it was still hot when she put her helmet on and went to the ship and once inside, was able to put it down to shift the ship to the expected grid they thought he would be at.

They had calculated it well for she saw a fire about a quarter of a mile away. She’d already carried the pot of food out before lifting her visor, and so she walked towards the fire he had lit to guide her. She took her helmet off well before she reached where he had stopped so as not to startle him.

‘A sight for sore eyes,’ he said standing up at hearing her approach and seeing her come into the light given off by the fire. She went into his arms for a kiss, being careful of the pot she was still holding. ‘As much as I love you,’ he said letting her go, ‘that smells delicious and I’m ravenous.’ She laughed and he quickly got two plates and forks out of the car and they sat and had dinner. She let him eat most of it for she could always get something next morning whereas he would be driving again.

The pup tent was up and so she crawled into with him after he had eaten and there they slept for the rest of the night. There was still some of the roast left in the pot for him to eat cold in the morning as a breakfast and it wasn’t long before they were saying goodbye again.

He reached Bahia Blanca on the afternoon of the third day after very hard driving and that night, they slept in an hotel together. They were at the airport early the next morning where he first put in a call for the family jet to come and pick them up and was told that it would arrive at about six that evening which suited them admirably.

The next job was to arrange for the car to be shipped to Dallas on the first available freight plane, which would not be for several days which he said would be no problem. He paid for this with his credit card and then they got a taxi back to town.

‘So far so good,’ he said as they had a big lunch having missed breakfast. ‘Now we just have to wait till the plane lands before we make our move,’ Brendan said. They rehearsed what they were going to do when the time came and discussed and thought through all the mishaps that might occur. When they ran out of ideas, they went to a cinema and sat through Star Wars but because it had been dubbed into Spanish, Audrey couldn’t follow one word of it and so fell asleep.

Brendan woke her up when it had ended and they went outside into the early evening. ‘Bit farfetched,’ she said with a yawn when they were walking back to where the ship was parked. Brendan chuckled but didn’t say anything as they found a quiet spot to put on their helmets to disappear and with the visors going down, went and found their own star wars craft to whisk them into the airport confines.

Being such a small airport, they had found it easy to gain access and by waiting until somebody went into the toilets, were able to follow through and when left alone, take off their helmets to meet up again a few minutes later.

Having ascertained that their plane was on the tarmac, they went through passport control and had theirs stamped as leaving the country and then had a sticky moment at the electronic booth they had to pass through.

They went through alright but it was the helmets that went onto the small conveyor belt to be scanned. They themselves were on the other side and saw the x-ray machine that just showed the two helmets as solid objects. These were then handled, the two men with puzzled looks on their faces as they looked inside and asked Brendan about them.

He just shrugged his shoulders and said in Spanish that they were just crash helmets for motor cycles, made in the U.S.A. which with another shrug of their shoulders, passed them over.

So they were now into the departure area and declined the help of a hostess to show them to the aircraft saying that they would go when they were ready. It was hard for them to get lost in a crowd for there weren’t that many people there in the terminal, but they managed to slip away and put their helmets on and become invisible to the present persons about.

It was then just a matter of waiting until the right doors were opened by someone for them to slip through, actually moving through that person who had the door open at the time. Once they got outside it was just a matter of dropping their visors to find the ship and make their way towards it.

Even so, Brendan crouched down to take his helmet off and use his mobile phone and eventually got patched through to the pilot of their private plane to say that they had changed their mind about leaving at that time, so he could leave whenever he wanted and apologised for putting him to the inconvenience of coming all that way for nothing.

‘Now what do we do?’ Audrey asked Brendan when he had put his helmet back on and was visible to her.

‘We spend the night in an hotel in Dallas. We can’t very well turn up at the ranch before the plane itself gets back there now can we?’

‘Okay, Dallas here we come,’ she said as she dropped her visor and led the way to the waiting craft to whisk them off on a quicker journey than the plane that had come to collect them.

That plane was still in sight of Bahia Blanca’s airport when they took off their helmets in downtown Dallas where they had landed ten seconds later from taking off themselves.

Brendan hailed a taxi and so they booked in to one of the best hotels and had a lovely room service meal delivered up to their suite after they’d had the luxury of a hot bath each. They had booked in without luggage but as his name was known to them, nothing was said or any thought given to this fact. Breakfast was had in their room and they left just before midday, the usual time for turfing people out without charging them for another days stay.

But just before leaving, he phoned the ranch, the call being picked up by Sarah, and he said that they had just landed and would be up to the ranch within a couple of hours. It was short notice he explained to Audrey, but knew that Sarah would be on the ball and have everything ready for them.

Their next stop was to hire a car with driver to be taken to the ranch for there was no need to rent one when there was a car already there in the garage at the ranch. They had no compunction at leaving the ship where it was for the time being for it would be better for them to arrive at the ranch the way they had planned. It could be collected at any time and then parked up where they had landed the first time of their clandestine visit.

They sat back for the hour and a half journey, Brendan pointing out points of interest that had no meaning for her being unaware of the history of Dallas except from the cowboy films.

They were soon out on the highway and it was just rolling fields and woods that could be seen and she became excited after the car had turned off onto a small road that then petered out to be the drive up to the ranch.

The first thing that caught her eye were the oil pumps, the nodding massive pieces of iron that were moved by big iron rods that made them move up and down as they brought the oil to the surface where it was fed into pipes that disappeared under the ground to wherever the oil was being collected. Audrey counted eight of them before she asked exactly how many of them were on the property.

‘Twenty, or twenty one, I’m not quite sure, but it’s what gives us the means to live as we wish,’ he said. ‘At least they’re out of sight of the ranch which is a good thing. Look, there’s Thomas giving one of the horses a run.’ Which he was indeed, crouched low over the horse’s neck as it galloped across the field ahead of them.

‘Well tell Sam that I don’t want to start on that one,’ Audrey said, and that was all she could say for the ranch came into view and the sight of it from this different angle took her breath away. ‘It looks even better than it did a few days ago,’ she said as the car drew up on the drive in front of the house. Audrey recognised Sam and the woman beside him must have been Sarah and the other man just had to be her husband Ruben for Thomas was out riding a horse.

There were cries of greeting as Brendan got out of the car and then an intake of collective breaths.

‘Oh Lordy Lordy, it’s Miz Fowler herself,’ said Sarah, crossing herself, her black face showing a massive smile and pearl white teeth as she lifted her arms up to the heavens. Sam and Ruben too had big wide smiles on their faces to see Brendan’s wife come visit them.

‘Welcome to Fowler’s Reach Miz Fowler,’ Sam said coming forward smiling and holding out his hand. This Audrey shook. ‘Doesn’t she look a picture Sarah?’

‘Better than de wedding photos fer sure,’ Sarah said coming up to shake her hand and to then clasp her to her big bosom. ‘My, our Mistah Brendan has sure got hisself a fine filly.’

‘Wedding photos?’ Audrey couldn’t help asking. ‘We haven’t seen them ourselves yet,’ she laughed, being released from the hug from Sarah.

‘Well get yourself into the house and I’ll find what ones dey sent down to us. Ruben! See to de bags!’ Sarah commanded as she led them into the house. Ruben standing there looking bewildered when the car driver shook his head about the lack of baggage.

Audrey knew she was at home as soon as she went through the front door that opened directly into the main room of the house. It was low ceilinged and stretched from one side to the other. A massive brick and stone fireplace was opposite the door with three massive great leather couches, one in front and one either side. The wood floor was covered in rugs, the designs of the like she’d never seen before which she found out later were Navajo.

A great big pair of cow horns were mounted above the fireplace and down each side were what she believed were Indian artefacts. There were solid dressers either side of the door, dark and smoky and the tops that she could see, glistened with many years patina of wax being applied to them. Many pictures in frames were artfully arranged on the tops.

But one stood out proud and in the centre and it was of her and Brendan just after they had kissed and turned away from the priest that had married them. The smiles on both their faces showed just how happy they felt.

‘Oh Brendan, just look at this,’ she sighed. He came over and put his arm round her shoulder as he looked at the picture.

‘Hm, handsome fella there,’ he gave her shoulder a squeeze. ‘Wonder who the woman is?’

‘You beast,’ she said with a smile, punching him lightly on the chest. ‘The happiest day of my life,’ she said as she sighed again.

‘Mine too darling,’ he said giving her another squeeze.

‘I hope the rest of the photos have come out as nice as this one,’ Audrey said, resting her head on his shoulder.

‘Where’s de bags Ruben,’ they heard Sarah ask her husband.

‘Ain’t none,’ he replied.

‘That’s alright Sarah,’ Brendan said turning round. ‘They are following on later.’

‘Well I’ve aired out de master bedroom and put fresh linen on de bed.’

‘Thank you Sarah,’ Brendan said. ‘Come Audrey and I’ll show you our bedroom. Ruben, can you fix a fire for us.’

‘Yassir,’ he said as Brendan took Audrey’s hand and led her off to the left of the fireplace into an inside corridor and he stopped at the first door on the left and opened it for her.

‘Good Lord!’ Audrey exclaimed when she saw the size of the bed. ‘It’s huge!’

‘Everything’s big in Texas,’ he laughed, for it was nearly eight foot across and at least ten long. A dark massive solid headboard and an equally heavy scrolled tailend. Big embroided pillows and a thick patchwork quilt covered it.

‘We’d get lost in that,’ she said.

‘All the better for a game of hide ‘n’ seek,’ he laughed.

The room itself was big so the bed didn’t overpower the senses. Chintz curtains were up at the two windows on either side of big French windows that had matching curtains that came to the floor.

Two huge wardrobes filled the left hand wall opposite the bed and to the right against the corridor wall and opposite the windows was a big dressing table with a chintz covered stool in front of it. Mounted on top was a long oval mirror with two wall lamps at either end. The floor was as the lounge, highly polished wood with thick heavy rugs covering most of the free area.

‘I simply love it,’ Audrey said turning to Brendan and kissing him, ‘and this bed is wonderful,’ running her hand down the smooth tail end. ‘It looks very old, is it?’

‘Hand carved out of solid wood by my Great Grandfather,’ he said with a touch of pride, ‘as much as quite a lot of the furniture, except for the leather couches in the lounge, they’re fairly new.’

‘New?’

‘Well they’re not quite eighty years old yet,’ he laughed, ‘but you’ll never find any as comfortable as them. I’ve quite often fallen asleep on them and been reluctant to get off to go to bed.’

‘I take it that leads to the bathroom?’ she asked indicating a doorway between the left hand side bed cabinet and the wall with the windows.

‘Yes. All mod cons here,’ he replied.

‘So I’ve got to go the long way round or climb across you,’ she smiled.

‘Yes, he grinned, ‘for if I had to climb over you I would never get to it.’ She laughed and went and inspected the big bathroom which was half the length of the bedroom and half as wide again.

The bath was big enough for two people whereas the shower could have held four at a pinch. Toilet, bidet and two wash basins with mirrors and lights. Thick carpet on the floor and the walls tiled except for a large space directly opposite the shower which was a full length mirror.

‘This is bigger than my old sitting room back in England,’ Audrey said.

‘Come on and see the rest of the house, a bathroom is after all only a bathroom.

‘But what a room,’ she whispered to herself as she followed her husband out back through the bedroom and out into the lounge and round to the other side where, instead of a corridor, there was an open arch that led into what was obviously the dining room. For there was a long table that easily could sit twelve.

Solid wood and highly polished as the rest of the house furniture. Big heavy sideboards on either side, high with glass fronted windows protecting different arrays of china and glasses.

At the far end was a low sideboard that held cutlery, condiments and a variety of different sized plates.

‘This way,’ he said, ignoring the dining room altogether and went through a swing door. Not the bat wing door like those to a saloon that is always depicted in westerns. This was a double hinged type that could be pushed open from either side, handy when you’re hands are full with plates or whatever.

The kitchen itself was as big as the bedroom, a big range on the far wall surrounded by more pans than she could count in one glance. To her right beneath a large window were two big stainless steel sinks with plenty of draining space on either side.

To the left was one of the biggest fridge freezers she’d ever seen. Two big doors and it even had an ice cube machine in one door. The centre of the kitchen was taken up by a large well scrubbed wooden preparation table and a massive chopping block at one end.

Sarah had pots on the range and was busy chopping up vegetables on the wooden block.

‘Sarah here runs the kitchen,’ Brendan said.

‘That’s right Miz Audrey. Yous the lady of de house, I’s the mistress of de kitchen,’ she said, her knife up in the air. Though she had a big smile on her face, it was clear to Audrey that Sarah was saying exactly that and would brook no interference in what was her domain.

‘And long may you be so Sarah,’ Audrey responded with just as nice a smile, ‘as long as Mistah Brendan is fed well on his chittlin ‘n’ greens.’ The last was said in the best she could in a Southern States accent.

‘Ho you gotten yourself a fine feisty filly there Massa Brendan, dat’s for sure,’ Sarah laughed, but it put both of the two women in their places in the tacit unspoken agreement that Sarah was boss of the kitchen while Audrey was boss of the rest of the house.

Brendan and Audrey went through the kitchen door into the yard, leaving Sarah cooking the dinner, and went across to the stables. Three horses were impatiently stamping their hoofed feet knowing it was close to their feeding time. Thomas was currying the horse he had been riding when they arrived and Sam was in the process of checking one of its hooves.

‘Hello Thomas, what’s this one’s name for I don’t recognize her?’ Brendan asked.

‘Vixen Mistah Brendan,’ he replied.

‘Of course,’ he laughed. ‘I should have guessed. For there’s Comet, Blitzen and Dancer.’

‘Santa Claus’ reindeer!’ exclaimed Audrey, clapping her hands. ‘How wonderful. Where’s Donner and Prancer?’

‘I’m afraid they’ve gone Miz Audrey,’ Sam said.

‘Tell me,’ she said to him, ‘what the names of the horses that you had when Brendan began to ride. Which was his favourite?’ Sam looked at Brendan before he answered the question.

‘Nana,’ he said. ‘That was the first one he learned on. Then he rode Pan and…..’

‘Don’t tell me,’ she squealed. ‘Peter and Wendy!’ Both of them roared out with laughter at her guessing the other two horse’s names.

‘So which horse are you going to teach our Miz Audrey to ride Sam? She tells me she’s only ever walked a horse before and I said to be a true Texan, she’s got to be able to ride.’

‘Tha’s right, and de best one for dat is Dancer! Nice an’ quiet.’

And so it was settled that that was the horse she was going to learn to ride, starting the very next day.

They went back into the house where the dining table had been laid and after having a wash, sat down to a ranch style dinner that floored Audrey, it being so much that she had to apologise to Sarah that, as wonderful the dinner was, it was just far too much for her to eat.

Sarah went off muttering under her breath, the odd words of skin and bone, needs fattening up were the only words they caught.

‘Don’t let her bother you,’ Brendan laughed. ‘What we don’t eat, they will. She’s always over cooked, ever since I’ve known her. Don’t take it to heart for I’ve always been skin and bones to her. God help the horse if I was to get to her size!’ Which made Audrey laugh and so came to accept the huge meals that were produced and the mutterings afterwards of Sarah feeding sparrows.

What followed was one of the most poignant memories for Audrey, when she and Brendan sat on the leather couch in front of the fire that Ruben had built. They’d been left alone and she curled her legs up and admitted that the couch was the softest she had ever sat upon. So, curled up against Brendan, the fire giving off not only heat but light, they looked through the wedding photos that had been sent down to the ranch.

It was an idyllic peace for Audrey to lay half across her husband’s lap as, by the firelights glow, they looked at the captured memories of their wedding day.

It was silent tears that ran down her face as she looked at them, remembering exactly when they were taken and of how happy she had been when they were taken, not that she wasn’t happy now. They just were proof of what she had felt then but no way did they inspire her to be any happier than she was now, in the arms of the man she had married and loved to distraction.

No one, but no one, she felt could or would ever be as happy as she was at that moment. A warm fire, a lovely home, a loving husband and the whole world at her beck and call with their time machine.

‘Brendan,’ she said dreamily when they had finished looking at the photographs. ‘We keep calling our ship by many names. Space ship! Time machine! The sphere! Ship! It! Why don’t we give it a proper name?’

‘Do you have such a name in mind my sweet?’ he asked drowsily.

‘Well I have had an idea or two and played around with them. I think we’ve established that the first letter is equivalent to our letter C in our alphabet, right?’

‘Yes,’ he murmured.

‘Well the third and fifth symbol are the same, so I’m assuming that they would be a vowel. Now if that vowel was to be an O, we would have C, block block O block O block. So if we made the first block an R and the next block an N and the last one an S, we would have the name of Cronos. Which if you play the word around in your mind, you would come up with chronology, the study of time, Cronos. Before you say anything, hear me out.

There are two versions in mythology of Cronus and the one I prefer is that of what was called a golden age. The fruits of the earth were in abundance, and men lived a carefree life like the gods and, the most important part, lived without old age!

I know that we can argue over the fact that we will age, but look at the ages we will have covered! Tens of millions of years and age is miniscule in comparisons to what we can see in those years. Our ship I believe in my heart was named Cronos by the people who conceived and built it. Therefore, I think we should henceforth call it Cronos.’

‘Very well put darling though I think many people would be able to pick holes in your assumption,’ he said.

‘Darling!’ Audrey came back at him. ‘Nobody else is going to be able to pick holes in it as you said, for didn’t you yourself say that nobody else is to know of our find?’

‘Touché, and I am hoisted by my own petard. You’re are perfectly right my sweetheart and so it shall be named, Cronos it is.’

Having failed to carry his wife across the threshold, he made amends by taking her up into his arms and carrying her into their bedroom and to the bed where not only him but his father had been conceived upon. Where also were Christian, Marion, Clayton and Astra, though with some years between which comes later in another episode.



Audrey stood there feeling a fool out in the stable yard after

breakfast. She had not a stitch of clothing in the ranch house other than what she had been wearing when they arrived and Brendan had helped her get dressed in a pair of his jeans, rolled up at the bottom for his legs were longer than hers. A belt was a definite requirement which bunched up the front because of their waist difference. The shirt too had to have the sleeves rolled up but the one saving grace was that they were able to find a pair of boots that fitted.

Feeling like a clown, she stood there in the yard as Sam introduced her to Dancer. He made no comment on her attire for which she was grateful.

‘Let her smell you,’ was the first lesson Sam was giving her as she fed the filly with an apple that he had given her to give to the horse as a token. ‘Stroke her and speak to her. Let her get used to your voice. Don’t be too soft in your speech but be firm. You’ve got to get her to know that you are de boss.’

Brendan held the bridle while Sam showed her how to mount the horse properly, helping her to put her foot in the stirrup. Brendan then passed the reins over to Sam for him to carry on with the lesson while he went and sat down on the edge of the water trough to watch.

Sam only had her up on the horse for an hour, which was enough for the first day. The rest of the morning was learning how to curry comb the horse and begin to learn the names of the tack used. Within a week she was able to saddle the horse herself and find the right pieces of tack such as the harness and reins and how to put them over the head of the animal.

Though Thomas would clean most of the gear at a later date after riding, she still had to know how to do it herself to know if it had been cleaned properly. She could also now canter out in the paddock for Dancer seemed to like this tutorial as much as she did.

They did cut one morning short for Brendan to drive her into Dallas where they spent most of the day shopping for new clothes for her, including a couple of riding outfits. At the same time, they collected Cronos, Audrey taking it to one grid before the homestead and then waiting for Brendan to pick her up in the car so that they both arrived at the ranch house together. At least the machine was now closer and could be moved at anytime now.

This they did two weeks later, moving it close to a small copse by the Sabine River where, now that Audrey could ride enough to be able to go out with Brendan on their horses and tether them in the trees to browse while they went off in Cronos.

It took them a month to grid mark the ordinance survey maps according to Cronos before they got down to the serious business of hunting the Dinosaur of North America. It was amazing to be in the Jurassic period and see the low lying jungles and swamps left by the retreating ice packs. The lush vegetation that many species of Dinosaur lived on for most of them were plant eaters.

By flitting through the years they were able to see the development and change of these animals, though they were really classified as reptiles. The Apatosaurus, formerly called Brontosaurus was one of the largest and it was the cross breeding that saw the beginning of the carnivorous emergence such as the Allosaurus which was the forerunner of the larger Tyrannosaurus.

It was this latter that began the demise of the Dinosaur for he would attack the plant eating ones until they were finally wiped out and then without meat, they too died simply from starvation.

It was in the middle of these jaunts that Audrey said that she wanted to do some shopping in Dallas and so they took a day off and drove into the city. It wasn’t the shopping she wanted really, it was so that she could visit a doctor and later, in a restaurant having lunch, she announced to Brendan that she was pregnant.

‘Oh darling!’ he exclaimed, almost dropping his fork as his eyes lit up and he held her hand across the table. ‘You’re sure?’

‘Yes,’ she nodded, her face wreathed in a big smile. ‘I popped into see a doctor and he confirmed it.’

‘Wait until mom and dad hear this. They’ll be thrilled to bits. So will Sarah and the others at the ranch. Oh Audrey, it’s wonderful news. When?’

‘About seven months.’

‘That puts paid to your riding lessons then,’ he said.

‘Nonsense! I asked him about that and he said I can still ride for another three. Then I’ve got to start taking it easy,’ she replied. ‘I’ve got to be a Texan before it’s born.’ He laughed.

‘Oh darling I can’t get over it,’ he smiled. ‘You a mother and me a father! Will time travel affect it?’ he said suddenly alarmed.

‘I shouldn’t think so,’ she laughed, ‘though it will be well travelled by the time it’s born.’

‘We’ll have to curtail our travelling now though.’

‘Again, nonsense. We will go on as planned and peg the site of a fallen animal and then check it back,’ she said.

What this meant was that when they found a Dinosaur that had either died from natural causes or had been killed but not ravaged, they would note this on their map. They could now work Cronos to jump ten years or so to check if the carcase is still there and if so, keep jumping years until it eventually got buried under earth or covered by some other mishap.

At this point when they were certain that it wouldn’t be disturbed for a few million years, would take off their helmets and peg out the site and record it on their modern map.

It all took time for invariably the remains would be scavenged and they would have to find another one. Two they followed in this way were found to have been discovered as it were by a dig and the skeleton removed.

In spite of this, they found and traced four and these would be ‘found’ by the two Professors to earn them the title of being The Fossil Hunters. These sites produced the most complete remains ever found, the best one being that of a Triceratops, a two horned Dinosaur.



Audrey could now ride the horse Dancer, it being regarded as hers now, at a mild gallop when Brendan insisted that the time was up for her riding as she was now six months gone. Her mother and father-in-law paid a visit to the ranch and spent a week with them, thrilled at the expectancy of becoming Grandparents. Audrey couldn’t stop her mother-in-law from arranging to have two nurses move in when she would be due to see and help with the delivery.

After they had gone back to Boston, Brendan went off to get funding from Universities and students to start digging for the fossils while Audrey stayed at the ranch and wrote an in depth book on the Tyrannosaurus. It was published to much acclaim by members of their profession but panned again by sceptics, but this was later.

She’d written the first draft for Brendan to add to when she went into labour. The nurses had arrived ten days before, sharing one of the bedrooms and dining with them, happy with this arrangements. The doctor had been put on stand-by and as his fee would be high, was prepared to drop everything when the time came.

Well it did and he arrived at the ranch an hour before the birth to see that all was going well. Brendan was hustled out of the room for the doctor and nurses to take over and assist Audrey. Brendan paced the lounge after phoning his parents to tell them that it was due any time and so they stayed in their home to await the news.

It was four and a half hours after she began her pains that he heard the wailing cry of a new born child and he was now hopping about, waiting for one of the nurses to come out and tell him. It was the doctor who emerged from the bedroom into the lounge, wiping his hands on a towel.

‘Well Brendan, you have a fine healthy son and the mother’s doing fine,’ he beamed at a successful delivery. Brendan shook his hand, his face alight with joy as he kept on shaking it.

‘Sarah!’ he called out for he knew she was in the kitchen with the others waiting to hear. ‘It’s a boy,’ he cried out as she came into the lounge, followed by her husband, Sam and Rubens. ‘Open the champagne! Can I see them Doctor?’

‘In a minute,’ he laughed. ‘Let the nurses get everything clean and ship shape,’ he said as he took the proffered glass from Sarah, Brendan taking his and they clinked glasses.

‘To Christian Fowler!’ Brendan declared and they all drank to the toast.

‘You can go in now Mister Fowler,’ a nurse said coming into the lounge. He put his glass down and startled the nurse by grabbing her and giving her a big kiss before hurrying off to the bedroom.

There was Audrey sitting up in their big bed with an even bigger smile on her face as he stepped into the room. She was holding a small bundle in her arms.

‘Is he big enough to be a Texan?’ she asked. ‘He weighs nine pound and two ounces.’ Brendan had moved over to the side of the bed as she had spoken and looked down at the pink face all screwed up.

‘Of course he’s a Texan, just as you are my sweet,’ he replied as he bent down and kissed her. ‘A kiss for a wonderful mother and a beautiful wife,’ he said as he kissed her again, oblivious to the smiling nurse standing on the other side of the bed.

‘Christian,’ she said to the bundle in her arms as her finger stroked the small soft lips, ‘meet your father. Brendan, meet your son.’ Tears were running down her face as she said these words as Brendan lifted up with his finger the small fist that grasped at it and held on tight.

‘Can the others come in and see the heir?’ he asked Audrey who looked at the nurse.

‘Just for a few minutes. Mrs Fowler is tired and needs some rest,’ she smiled. He quickly went to the door and called out for those waiting to see the new baby. They came in and stood and all cooed over the baby, Audrey getting a kiss from Sarah. The nurse only just gave them the few minutes before shooing them all out, Brendan included.

The nurse took the baby from Audrey and placed it in the cot beside the bed and settled her down to rest and get some sleep. The nurse stayed in the room while Audrey slept, though the nurses did change places once, having a drink of champagne with Brendan in the lounge. The doctor, after a couple of glasses had left and Sarah was busy getting dinner ready while the other men drifted off to their chores.

Brendan had his dinner on a tray sitting on the edge of the bed as Audrey ate hers, though she only really pecked at it but drank two glasses of champagne. He then sat and watched as she breast fed the baby and also watched the nurse clean him up afterwards before settling him down for the night in his cot before saying goodnight herself and going off to her room.

Brendan quickly got undressed and got into bed and held Audrey in his arms, kissing her and telling her how much he loved her. Tired as she was, the birthing pains almost forgotten, she was thrilled and exhilarated at being able to give her loving husband a son, and still in his arms, they both fell asleep.

It was still dark in the early hours of the morning when the baby woke up with a cry and Brendan was out of bed in a flash and hurried round and picked it up and was rocking it in his arms when the bedroom door opened and a nurse stood there framed in the light from the hall.

‘I heard the baby cry,’ she began. ‘Oh, Mr Fowler!’

He realised instantly that he was naked, for he always slept like that, and here he was with just the small bundle in his arms showing all that he’d got.

‘Well now you’ve seen the son’s and the father’s,’ he said, hastily passing the baby to her as he dived back under the bed covers for the nurse to carry the baby round to Audrey who was just sitting up.

‘Let’s hope he grows up to be like his father,’ she laughed to the nurse, ‘for to him, everything is big in Texas.’ The nurse laughed though she was still blushing as she handed over the baby and quickly left the room.

‘Did you have to parade yourself like that?’ she asked though it was spoken with a smile as she pulled one breast out of her nightgown for the baby to feed.

‘I didn’t know she was going to come in the room,’ he replied.

‘She’ll tell the other nurse and they’ll probably have a good laugh about it,’ she chuckled. ‘I just hope it wasn’t erect with you not having had sex for a month.’

‘Well it wasn’t and I don’t see what she would have to laugh about,’ he said in a somewhat petulant voice.

‘Oh lighten up. I can see the funny side of it even if you can’t,’ she said as she transferred the baby to the other breast.

The nurse had the decency to blush when they met later at breakfast though nothing was said about the incident and the two nurses only stayed for another few days before they said farewell, taking home a nice pay packet each, Ruben driving them back to the city. The doctor dropped in two days later just to check both mother and son and left pleased that both were doing fine.

Cablegrams, cards and flowers were coming in from the time Brendan phoned his parents with the news of them having a Grandson, the first cable being from them naturally.



A big party was held at the ranch two months later for the christening. Mother and father, uncles and aunt stayed at the ranch while friends, who’d been ferried down by their private jet, were put up in hotels in Dallas where limousines ferried them back and forth to the ranch.

Outside caterers were brought in for they had nearly as many people for the christening as they had for their wedding. The baby was duly christened as Christian Ulysses Fredrick Fowler and later became known affectionately as Cuffy.



Brendan had raised half of the money required for this first dig of his on American soil from the University, himself putting up the other half. This meant that whatever was found, it would be split two ways, not the fossil itself but the monies it would be sold for.

Though Audrey had been with him to find these sites that they later excavated, she stayed back on the ranch with Christian. Though she did visit the dig quite often by using Cronos and keeping her helmet on and thereby, could sometimes snatch an hour or two of loving with her husband in his tent without anyone else knowing that she had ever been there.

It only took them ten days to uncover the first bones and the crew of students were ecstatic at finding them so quickly. So much so, that they worked longer hours than they should. They were amazed that the leader of the dig, one Professor Brendan Fowler, could tell at a glance of the few bones that they uncovered, that it was belonging to a Tyrannosaurus. It was proven two weeks later when they had removed the top soil to reveal the fact that it was.

With this now being an established fact, he went back to the University for more money to begin another dig while the others finished off this first one. He got three quarter funding this time. Though he made the news with the Tyrannosaurus, it was even bigger news of the finding of a complete skeleton of a Triceratops with a new group of students.

By finding a capable nanny for Christian, Audrey was able to help out at the beginning of this dig, Brendan giving her the credit for finding this one and so that was when they became the Fossil Hunters. It was remarkable that nobody picked up the fact that though these two digs were nearly a thousand miles apart, Brendan had time to visit the other to supervise what was being done. It was naturally assumed that he had taken time off from one to go to the other, not that he could whiz between the two in a matter of seconds.

It was of constant amusement to Audrey and Brendan over this but they still took precautions by not overdoing this form of transportation. Though they still had two more sites pegged, they went out to find more but with the provisio that they would only reveal them one at a time after each dig had been brought to a successful conclusion.

It was during the second dig that she fell pregnant again. With the help of Cronos, she was almost able to be in two places at once. It was also idyllic that he would announce he was going into whatever was the nearest town for a few days, only to be picked up by Audrey in Cronos to spend those days at the ranch.

They were getting the best of two worlds and were the happier for it which was how they came to be together when they conceived their daughter Marion.

Audrey was by now a competent enough a horsewoman to be able to saddle, bridle up and mount Dancer to go out over the ranch and even do small jumps. Though she still left the currying of the horse and the cleaning of the stable to Thomas.

When she was six months gone she then took the time out to start their book on the Triceratops. Its mating habits, life, eating and defence. Their nanny at this time, a feisty young Scot’s lass by the name of Maggie, took care of Christian at this time to leave her free to concentrate on her writing.

Though unknown to either Audrey or Brendan, Thomas, who was half white and half Negro, had started paying court to Maggie, using the quaint old way of saying it. Maggie had come to love little Christian and she simply adored the strong looking master of the house as much as she did Audrey. With Audrey now being pregnant again which would mean another child to look after, decided to accept the attentions of Thomas for she wanted to stay and become a member of this tight knit and loving family.

When Audrey learned of this one evening through a personal tete-a-tete with Maggie, decided to act quickly, for she really would need Maggie when her own child was born. She had the two of them into the lounge one evening and asked point blank if Thomas loved Maggie enough to get married? He had said yes. Maggie said yes too to the same question put to her if she wanted to marry Thomas.

Before they knew it, they were married and Audrey had them flown by their family jet to Florida where they had a fortnight’s cruise as their wedding gift for the honeymoon. Audrey, having had an austere upbringing where money was concerned had learnt since being married to Brendan than it was there to be spent in good causes such as this. It wasn’t the money but the thought and consideration that was behind it that lent itself to winning the heart and the affection of those to whom it had been given.

Audrey didn’t begrudge the fact that she had Christian all to herself for those two weeks, to feed, clean and play with. She just hoped that he would take to his new brother or sister as he had to Maggie.

Again, Brendan’s parents were delighted with the news and made another trip down to the ranch, bringing expensive and somewhat unpractical presents for their Grandson. Audrey was delighted at their visit but was also glad when they left for Boston again.

The same two nurses were again employed at her lying in and assisted the doctor in bringing Marion into the world. Brendan was over the moon, dancing around in the lounge as they all drank champagne again, this time with Maggie being there.

It was almost as if planned that on the first night with the new baby crying, Brendan was up in a flash to be caught this time by the other nurse stark naked in the hall light holding the crying baby. It became a standing joke that he flashed himself to every nurse the night after a baby was born, which later proved to be a fact for he was caught out on the next two occasions a few years hence.

Again the christening was well attended at the ranch much the same as for Christian, only it was now his sister to have the baptismal water poured over her forehead as she was christened, Marion Ursula Francis Fowler, to later be called much like Christian, as Muffy.



I think it is here that we should close the first chapter of Cronos with Brendan and Audrey now having a family. They still moved on to ‘find’ two more palaeontology sites which added to their esteem as the Fossil Hunters. As for Cronos, well, he was a time machine of the first order, and as he had survived on earth for over a hundred million years, who can say how much longer he would remain?

*

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