Chapter Two Thousand Two Hundred Fifty
16th September 1973
Walking from the cottage he lived out into the garden, Peers Sjostedt was troubled as he often was these days. It had been raining the night before, so the air smelled of damp and mold. It was the sort of thing that he associated with autumn, more proof the seasons progressed and would continue to do so. He had encountered people who were so narcissistic that they acted as if all of it would stop when they did, but the truth was there in the seasons. No one was so important that the world would stop spinning on its axis.
Sjostedt felt like the world was going mad and he was reminded of the cynical take on the line; Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it. With the additional line, Those who learn from history get to sit and helplessly watch as others make the same stupid mistakes. This was because he had made the mistake of looking at a newspaper and had seen how all the things that he had worked against his entire life were all still there in full blossom. Saber rattling between powers, crime, poverty, and malice at all levels. In the Reichstag, the Politicians spoke a good game but at the end of the day, no one heard about the Military being denied the money to purchase the latest means of blowing things up. It was hard not to feel that all that had sacrificed over the last several decades had all been for naught. That the start of the Twentieth Century had been in a muddy trench, and it seemed like it was doomed to end there. It was hard not to feel disappointed.
Being retired gave him a whole lot of time to think about these things as he went about his weekly routine. It being a Sunday, he felt like he needed to be somewhere else. It came from decades spent in the Lutheran Clergy. Frequently, he considered how the world was when Martin Luther had nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the All-Saints Church in Wittenberg, how even as things had changed radically, the world remained the same. Of course, it was easy to see how Martin Luther would probably be horrified and outraged by today’s society for all the wrong reasons. Considering the actual Witch Hunts that he had engaged in it was really no surprise. When Sjostedt compared an opinionated woman who had drawn the ire of her neighbors or the sort of trash that regularly appeared on television with the sheer potential crime that a nuclear bomb represented, it was truly no contest.
Sitting down on the bench in the garden, Sjostedt felt the ache in his chest that had been there since he had gotten shot in France a lifetime earlier. His Doctor said that the efforts to save his life had done damage to his lungs and it was something that he would have to continue to live with…
What felt like the crushing weight that suddenly landed on his chest was a bit different though? His left arm went numb, so he was unable to stop himself from falling over as darkness consumed his vision…
“I expected better from you” An all too familiar voice said, “Becoming embittered in your old age, such a waste of limited time.”
Sjostedt stood on a seashore not far from his home in Flensburg. The figure he recognized as Coyote, unlike in his past encounter, Coyote was in the guise of a young Diné warrior in the field gray uniform that the Heer wore prior to the Soviet War. Basically, Sjostedt himself from decades earlier.
“This isn’t your usual place” Sjostedt replied, this should have been the Mesa Desert of the Four Corners region of America.
“There have been too many Westerns” Coyote replied, “It became a cliché and the Diné being the toughest and smartest managed to colonize Europe with the Europeans being none the wiser. So, this is just as much my place as anywhere.”
“And it could be argued that you are a devil sent to torment me” Sjostedt said angrily.
Coyote gave him a yipping laugh.
“I thought you had a better imagination than that” Coyote said, “Being an old man who sees devils under every rock, talk about clichés.”
“Regardless” Sjostedt said, “None of this is real, you are a hallucination like before now that I am at the end.”
“No need to be so dramatic” Coyote said, “And who said that this was the end?”
“It isn’t obvious to you?” Sjostedt replied, “It is to me.”
“Fuck that” Coyote said, “You’ve unfinished business at the place where it all began.”
“Where what began?” Sjostedt asked bewildered.
“Where do you think?” Coyote said with a laugh, and Sjostedt was slammed back into… well, everything.
“We were afraid we lost you for a minute there, Pastor Sjostedt” An unfamiliar young man in the red coat of a Field Surgeon said with the sort of fake confident smile you gave someone to put them at ease. Sjostedt had given it to enough people over the years to know what it looked like.
Sjostedt was laying on the concrete path of his back garden, too weak to move, one of the newfangled plastic IV bags was hanging from the Surgeon’s hand. That had been the means by which a drug had been administered that had brought him back. Sjostedt couldn’t pretend to understand how that worked.
As he was being loaded onto a stretcher, Sjostedt saw that his housekeeper was standing there looking horrified. She must had been the one who had found him. His mind kept going back to his brief conversation with Coyote. It didn’t matter who the messenger was. Apparently, he unfinished business. But where was the beginning?