Zanzibar – Part 7
Zanzibar – Part 7
by Keith Channing
Still in darkness, Javelin slowly became aware of voices; familiar voices. He reached into his mind to make sense of what he was experiencing. The only parallel he could recall was when he was coming round from general anaesthesia at the dentist’s surgery, having had a couple of teeth extracted. But this time, he had no recollection of having been put to sleep. He forced his eyes open and immediately screwed them closed again, such was the brightness of the sun in the centre of his field of vision.
In no apparent hurry, his senses gradually returned to him. He turned his head to one side, so he could open his eyes without blinding himself. When he did, he saw Comet and Cougar leaning over him. That made sense. They were, of the seven members of the Motorhead gang, the most sensitive, the least ‘hard’.
“Where’s the rest?” Javelin asked through parched lips.
Comet held a bottle of clear, bright green liquid in front of him. “Drink this,” he said.
“What is it?”
“I think it’s water. It tastes okay, and Jacob says it has stuff in it like sports drinks.”
Javelin accepted the proffered bottle and took a deep draught from it.
“Wow; that’s good!” he said, “Knocks spots off anything I’ve had before. I feel properly awake again.”
“Where’ve you been?” Cougar asked.
“Not sure,” Javelin replied, “I was just saying we should split, then I came to here.”
Jacob, who had been listening from a short distance away, approached the trio. “You disappeared two days ago, Javelin. This has never happened before. Sure, a small number of people have vanished in the past—”
“Like Hemi,” Comet interrupted, and started sobbing again.
“Like Hemi,” Jacob agreed, “but until now, none has ever returned.”
“What do you suppose that means?” Cougar asked.
“I have no idea. We know that time has a different meaning here; although we all came here from different time periods, we’ve all been here for about the same length of time. Ask anyone how long they’ve been here; none of them will say more than a few years, yet some left home more than one hundred and fifty years ago. You’ve been gone for two days, but you might have been wherever you were for minutes… or decades. Were you in The Smoke?”
“Where were you?”
“I don’t know.”
“But you know it wasn’t The Smoke.”
“Yes. I’m positive it wasn’t.”
“Do you remember anything about where you’ve been, whom you met or what they might have done to you?”
“Not a thing. As far as I’m concerned, I must have just fainted or something. I don’t know nothing about being nowhere else.”
While Jacob was in conversation with Javelin, Comet and Cougar were talking between themselves.
“What d’you think?” Comet asked Cougar.
“Dunno, mate,” Cougar replied, “He seems certain he’s not been in The Smoke, though.”
“Yeah, but how can he be sure of that, and still not know where he has been?”
Before Cougar could respond, Rambler, Cobra and Mustang came running to them from the dense woodland across the clearing.
“Is that Javs down there?” Rambler asked, breathlessly. Before either Comet or Cougar could respond, he continued, “Where the hell’d he come from?”
“Yeah,” Mustang agreed, “and where’s he been for the past two days?”
“That,” Jacob interrupted, “is a mystery we are trying to unravel. Now; I suggest one of us – or one of you, if you prefer – talk to him calmly and quietly, and try to find out what he knows.”
“I may be able to help.” Rambler looked up and saw an older woman regarding them over half-glasses that were resting on her nose. She was smartly dressed, as though for a business meeting. Short and slim, with long, greying hair tied in a bun, she carried herself with what looked like defiant confidence.
“You’re old,” Rambler said dismissively, “how can you help?”
“That’s no way to speak to a lady,” Jacob admonished.
“Leave him, Jacob,” the lady replied, “he’s young. He’ll learn.”
“I hope so, Ruth,” Jacob said.
“So?” Rambler said, “You haven’t answered my question…”
“How can I help? What a very good question, most perceptive. Yes, I am old. I was over seventy when I arrived here. I had been thrown into a punishment pit in a Nazi concentration camp in 1942. I never reached the bottom of the pit, I came here instead.”
“And that is important why?”
“Have you ever heard of Sigmund Freud?”
“I have, Rambler,” Cobra said, “I’ve heard my dad talking about him. Wasn’t he something to do with psycho-something-or-other?”
“Well remembered, young man,” Ruth said, “Sigmund Freud was the father of psychoanalysis and highly influential in the art and science of interpreting dreams, unlocking the subconscious and so on.”
“And how does that help Javs?” Rambler asked.
“I haven’t always been old, you know. Before the Nazis took me, I was a practising psychologist. I studied under Dr Freud and others in Vienna. If anyone can help your young friend unlock what has befallen him these past two days, I believe it is I.”
“Fine words,” Rambler said, “you can talk the talk—”
“And,” Jacob said, “you will find that Ruth is more than able to walk the walk, too. I suggest you allow her to take Javelin to her hut and try to help him recover his memories.”
“And I suggest you—” Rambler started to say.
“Leave it, Rambler,” Comet counselled, “the old lady’s trying to help. Can’t do any harm; unless you’ve got a better idea, that is. And it might help us get Hemi back.”
“Okay, take him,” Rambler conceded, but when he looked, Ruth was already entering her hut, Javelin at her side.
Ruth’s hut was like all the others, built of what was euphemistically called ‘local materials’ – baked mud bricks, with grass thatch on the roof. Sparsely furnished, as were they all, a small area was partitioned off by a reed curtain. It was into this area that Ruth guided Javelin. She bade him lie on a comfortable-looking couch, while she sat on a stool beside him.
“You gonna hypnotise me?” he asked.
“Not if you don’t want me to,” she replied, “I shall mostly listen while you talk. I may guide your thoughts, but you will be conscious and in control throughout. However, if you allow me, I can induce a light trance-like state to help you free your unconscious mind.”
“Can we try without first, please?”
“Of course. Tell me everything you remember about your absence.”
“I remember nothing. I didn’t even know I had gone anywhere. I thought I just fainted and came around straight away. I can tell you one thing though.”
“Excellent. Let’s start there, shall we? What can you tell me?”
“Just that… this is going to sound silly.”
“Go on, Javelin; no-one is being judged here.”
“Well; it’s just that I think I know a lot of things now that I didn’t know I knew…”
This is now a round-robin between Keith Channing and I.
or Jump ahead to Part 8