Chapter 8. The Repulsin

Black again. But the irons are there still. Can knock my head on them. Let me crawl out of this machine.

Look, grass! And some shrubs over there. I step on the green. Well, seems that I push too hard against it. Makes me jump like a ball. My gut feels like when I’ve been diving my Stuka above Poland.

Poland?

Nah!

Probably Southern Ukraine. A summer noon over the temperate steppes. Between the Dniepper and the Don.

Impossible. We have retreated from there about one year ago.

Wait a minute. What am I talking here?

Uncle Ritschy comes from 1956 and my mind gives me the chronology of the war?

Something is wrong. With my mind. Let me walk a bit, to gather my thoughts.

I leap. Uhm, more things are wrong. And not only with my mind.

Where am I? This is not Poland, nor Ukraine. This can’t be the Earth!

Steppes on the Moon? Come on, Rolf, you had a commotion. Or two.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

My B-Uhr is ticking. Yeah, I know that. And, and its sweep-second hand is moving. The way it should. Oh my God, I must be out of Nirvana.

Time reads 03:52 hours.

Nineteen minutes. Took me nineteen minutes from Salzburg to the inner core of the Moon—where the B-Uhr stops showing the time—and then over to this steppe, wherever that be.

Right! Need to do the maths or else I’ll go crazy. If that means anything anyway.

Tick. Tick. Tick.

How strange that no wind blows over these steppes. So perfect a silence that I can hear my wristwatch ticking.

No wind and not much gravity either. Must do some calculations. Now!

The noonlight dims hurriedly into a midnight sky. Clear.

I watch my B-Uhr: 03:54.

By the clock, I should brace for the dawn. If not for Rivkah and my love for her, if not for Austria and my love for her, if not for those Nazis and my deep disdain of them, in six minutes I would drop the atom bombs over Northern Transylvania. But I didn’t. Uncle Ritschy, arriving from 1956, is a strong indicator that Rivkah has successfully stolen my plane. Is the war over? I don’t know. A guess is not enough. I need to know.

First things first: where am I?

Out of the tip of the repulsin behind me, a narrow beam of orange light pierces the black of the skies. Vertically. Until it bends to a curve which bounces out of an unseen spot and into a tiny star. A star or a planet. Perhaps a planet.

Trajectory. The trajectory of my repulsin. Makes sense. Let me see.

I climb on the machine. I try to climb but I find myself jumping, like a frog, almost.

Here I am, a move away from placing my head into the orange light.

I know, I know, this is dangerous. What if the beam will kill me?

What if it won’t?

One way to find out.

I feel a chill at the nape of my neck. No pain and no other sensation in my head. Then a warmth over my forehead, on the spot where the beam departs from me like nothing is obstructing its course.

The numbers begin to add up. I wish for graphics and I get them. Orbits in fine white.

Oh mein Gott! I am on Mars.

Never imagined that they’ve got such steppes on Mars. But let me follow the trajectory backwards.

Stop over, the Moon.

Departure date and time (from Moon to Mars): Thursday, September 28th, 1944; 19:33 hours.

Arrival date and time (from Earth to Moon): Sunday, September 24th, 1944; 03:33 hours.

How on Earth Uncle Ritschy made it up there from 1956?

Up or down? Who knows. Better leave these questions for another time. Or whatever.

Back on my feet, gazing at my wristwatch, I understand that today is Thursday, September 28th, 1944; 04:05 hours, Berlin time. And my feet touch the plains of Mars. Looking so much like Ukraine. Feeling no wind on my face. Science and insanity working together in my mind. I have to stop thinking. At least for a while.