Nurse Amelia Cotton answered his plea. Amelia was one of those girls who seemed destined for nursing at an early age; embued with endless patience and kindness for all her wards, she was loved and respected by all.
Amelia walked across the darkened ward to her newly awakened patient “Morning, Joe how are you feeling?”
Looking around, Joe said “Confused. Where am I? And what happened? The last thing I recall, I was firing at the enemy planes then there was a flash and flames then I woke here.”
“Facts are few, Joe. We haven't had any accounts of enemy aircraft shot down but with so much going on it will take time. Take you time and see if you can recall what happened?”
Amelia helped Joe rise to a semi-sitting position and pumped his pillows as he sat back, still confused and not totally aware of his surroundings he tried to recall events of the flight. Amelia pulled the old chair up next to his bed as Joe though about the night raid.
“We'd just turned after our bombing run and were climbing to give some cover to the planes behind us when I saw it. We were on the return flight, flying at about 20,000 feet which was close to the ceiling for the the plane when came under attack from a Ju 88a dive bomber. It all happened so fast, we never had to think it was just reactions. All I heard was the skipper shouting, 'Keep 'em' open lads! We're gonna have a rough time now.' Then everybody opened up on the planes, guns going off, cases flying all over. As I was aiming at one of the planes...” Joe paused to think of what happened.
Amelia rose and ended his sentence “The plane vanished and was replaced by a bright light hovering in the sky.”
“How did you know?”
“I have been here for four years and heard the story many times.” Amelia replied.
“Nurse, can I have a cup of Rosie Lea, please? I've been out so long, I'm right parched.”
“Certainly Joe, I won't be long. I just have to warm the pot for your tea. You can call me, Amelia.”
“Thanks, Amelia. How long have I been here?”
“I'll let the doctor explain that for you, Joe.”
“Explain what? This IS 1943 isn't it!”
Joe closed his eyes as he tried to think of the recent past as he did he fell asleep. In the back ground he could hear a strange whirring noise. Living near the station, he recognised the sounds of aircraft engines building speed up but this was a higher pitch than that. Straining to hear and trying to remember the type of engines he was would recognise, he heard a voice from another bed.
The man turned to Joe and said, “You won't recognise it lad! I tried for months, never heard anything like it before and I'm on my second tour with the USAAF. I've been all over from the UK to Germany, Japan to the Aleutian islands and never heard it.”
“How can you have been to Germany and Japan. There are no allied bases there! We're at war with 'em.'”
“Joe isn't it. You have a lot to learn about this place. My name is Jack Merris and I was in the USAAF during the late 1980's.”
“I have heard that you Yanks had a good imagination but that it stupid.”
“You may think so now but in a week or two, you will not be so sure of yourself.”
Joe's curiosity was now running wild “What do you mean, Jack?”
Jack paused, this was Joe's moment to hear the unusual. How to put it? Would he understand the idea? “Okay, there is no easy way, Joe. I'll tell you it straight.”
“Tell me what,Jack?”
“The next time the nurse does the rounds, you watch her closely.”
“What do you mean?”
Jack went on “I could explain but you wouldn't believe me-hell I didn't at first-it's better that you see and hear for yourself, Joe.”
That night as the door to the ward opened and Amelia started her rounds, Joe caught his first sight of the puzzle. Watching the other men in the ward, Joe could see that there were many nationals from all over the world and all spoke to the nurse with no problem.
“Odd but not too strange.” Joe thought until he looked closer.
Not only were they different nationalities but their uniforms were strange too, there were new uniforms that he had never seen. Made from fibres that could hold the creases and only needed a quick shake to go back to form.
Keeping a close eye on her, Joe saw that as she moved across the floor, where she passed there was a strange greenish glow. Looking at the glow, Joe was suddenly hit by a bolt of light that left him stunned. Blinking quickly, he tried to focus but found that his eyes had lost the ability.
“Nurse!” he called out in panic.
“Joe, you really shouldn't have looked at that. You'll be okay in a while.”
“What was that strange light I saw as you crossed the floor?”
Ameia paused trying to think how to expain the inexplicable to an airman of 1943. “You are not going to believe me but that was time passing across the ships bow. As a ship creates a bow wave on the seas, we created this in time and space.”
“Youve got that right, I've read H.G.Wells but that was fiction. Good as it was, it will never happen.”
“That's what I thought.” Jack added, “In my time, men had stood on the moon but time travel was still for the future.”
Joe was getting more confused by the minute “You talk as if this is the future to me, yet the past to you.”
Amelia replied “In here time has no sense-we are out of synch with it-we are in all time zones, yet not in any.”
“Amelia, if you are a nurse. How do you know all that?” Joe asked.
“Here comes the punch line.” Jack thought.
“To you, I appear as a WW2 nurse, so that you were not startled. To the others I appear in a form that they chose to accept.”
“So what is your true form?”
“Form? I have none. I am all things to all men yet nothing at all.” Amelia replied. “As you have seen the lights, you can look out of the windows now, Joe.”
Turning, Amelia opened a small oblong box-like object on the side of the wall. The covers slowly drew back with a slow hissing sound and Joe raised himself in the bed to look out. In the background all he could see was an array of stars whoosing by.
“What the hell!” he exclaimed in shock.
“What you see flying out there is what your scientists call the Milky Way,” the voice of a man replied. “your peoples are still trying to explore our worlds, that is why we came to yours. To see what you are like. We have noticed your aggresviness to each other, yet at other times there can be great kndness too. The most frightening thing is that so few people believe we exist out here. Which is the reason for seizing you.”
“Sorry guv, you lost me back there.”
“To us, people are like radio recievers and certain people are tuned into our wavelength, that is why they see and percieve elemental messages.”
“So you mean, those cranks are really picking messages up after all!”
“Exactly, Joe. We had to make it look that way to protect our homes. But now...” the man's voice tailed off.
“I didn't like that ending, Doc.”
“We have to explore new worlds as ours is devasted by winds and earthquakes that get stronger every day and you are the vanguard of the next generation.”
Just as Joe was going to reply, there was a bright flash and he was thrown back against the bed.
“Lord above, Joe. Do that again and I'll kill ya, never mind the bloomin' Gerry planes.”
Getting groggily to his feet, Joe looked around at the surroundings. He was in a hospital ward but this time there was no strange lights just boarded windows. “What happened to me?”
Phil Kerry said “We were flying through the flack a couple of nights ago and you got raked with .50 shells from the Ju 88a we had on our tail. The engines caught fire and we went into a dive, with the plane on fire and your chute in the fuselage, you decided to jump out and take the chances of surviving rather than getting burned alive.”
“I can remember that part, Phil. What about the flash and the lights in space and the weeks I've been away. I was seized and taken by an alien craft, you know.”
“I told ya before, mate. Reading those novels will make you queer in 't' head.” Phil said shaking his head, “You bailed out over Germany and the next thing we heard was a message from the underground saying a strange airman claiming to have been aboard a flying ship was in their hands. We arranged to pick you up and you've been here in and out of your sleep for the last three days.”
After a few weeks recovering Joe was allowed back to base. The first thing he did was go to the hangers to check the planes but when he got to within fifty feet of the Lancasters he froze and couldn't move.
The Flight-Sargeant told him to see the camp doctor. After making an appointment Joe went back to the canteen for a brew.
Later that afternoon, he was leaving the surgery when the phone rang.
“Doctor Norrie, how can I help?”
All Joe could hear was the Doctor, it didn't take a genius to put question to the answers.
“The freezing up is natural after such a shock, sir.”
“Physically, even after the fall he is still 100% fit.”
“Mentally, I would say about 85%”
A pause, then the doctor said something that froze Joe's blood in his veins
“There is one thing I can't explain. A strange green glow behind his eyes.”
“No, sir. I haven't seen or heard of anything like it before.”