Gravel flew as the car stopped, with other vehicles behind honking horns and breaking. Men jumped out and ran toward him. Groggily he climbed to his feet, staring. They were all in uniform and armed. He started to brush himself off, and saw that his shirt was torn on one sleeve, and his hands and part of one arm were grazed. When he put his hand up to touch a sore spot on his forehead, it came away bloody.
“What..?” he mumbled, and was suddenly grabbed by both arms. He winced and tried to pull his sore arm away with a muttered “ow!” He was pulled back onto the road, and found himself facing what appeared to be an army officer.
“Who are you, and where did you pop up from?” the officer snapped. “Speak up! Were you spying in the ditch?”
“Spying? Uh … I was just resting, and stood up to look around, to see where I was. I’m heading out for a bicycle tour, to get away from the city for a while. Why would I be spying?”
“We can’t be too careful. Some of the Krauts can speak English fluently, and have lived here for years. But they spy, and report back with hidden radios. You are blonde, fair skinned and blue eyed. You could be one. For now, you are a prisoner of war.”
The Captain turned to the men holding P.C. “Tie his hands and put him in the car. Tend to his injuries first.” He tuned to the rest of the soldiers, waving his hand. “Take that bicycle and put it in the back seat of the Lieutenant’s car, and get back in the truck. We have to move on, or I’ll be late.”
Everyone scrambled to obey orders. The two holding P.C. did as directed and patched him up, tied his hands and settled him in the front passenger seat. One looked at his gear, and then set it in front of him. “Sorry, chum, but there’s no place else to put it. Grip it with your fingers; that should keep it from doing more damage to your face. The drive will get bumpy. We’ll have to drive fast so the Captain won’t be late for his meeting.”
“P.C. did as the private suggested, taking hold of one of the straps. He lowered his head so that his forehead rested on the top. ‘Good,’ he thought. ‘Once we’re on the way, I can reset the time machine. Good thing I made it look like a cigarette holder, they just ignored it. I’d have hated to have to try to explain it.’ He chuckled inwardly at the thought.
Soon they were heading for London, going fast. He snuck a look at the speedometer, and gasped. They were hitting thirty five miles an hour! That was incredible – and dangerous. He slipped the time machine out of his pocket and set to work. It wasn’t easy, with his hands tied, and the car bumping and swaying, but at last, he had it set. 1905, June tenth, one week after he left, and the location in his basement work room. He pushed the stud. The right passenger seat was empty.
He staggered, and fell to the floor. “Whoosh! he exclaimed. I’m going to have some great bruises on my derriere. First I land on hard dirt, then on concrete.” Painfully, he climbed to his feet, put the time machine on the work bench, picked up the gear and climbed the stairs. At the top, he put his ear to the door and listened. Not a sound came through.
Cautiously, he opened the door and peeked out. He heard faint music, looked at his watch, and sighed with relief. Mrs. Kennedy was having her afternoon cuppa and rest. He slipped his boots off, closed the door quietly, and went to the front hall. He slipped the gear in the closet, put his boots back on, opened the front door then shut it noisily and walked into the sitting room. When Mrs. Kennedy came rushing in, he was sitting in an easy chair, looking exhausted and dishevelled.
“Oh, sir, whatever happened? Why, you have been injured! Do you need a doctor?” She was ringing her hands, hovering near the doorway.
“I had an accident. The bicycle was ruined, so I just left it where it was. I hit a pothole, and went flying, landed in a ditch. I’m all right, just some bumps and bruises, a little cut on my head. I took care of them, and caught a ride with a farmer back to the city, and got a cab home. All I need is a bath and some rest.” He heaved himself to his feet. “Perhaps you could get a cup of tea ready for me while I go and clean up. Then you can go finish your rest, while I call G.P. He can come and look me over while we talk.”