Wednesday’s session with Professor Smith came around faster than could be imagined. Sat back in his comfy leather chair, the clinicians feet were up once again on the upturned paper bin, was it always upside down Mac wondered, more a foot rest than receptacle for waste. The professor had an expression on his face, the cat who had pinched the best bits of fish from off his masters plate, a satisfied expression, did he have good news. They had shaken hands, dispensed with the formalities of patient and doctor and taken up respective positions ready to begin.

“All the tests are back Mac,” he was explaining, “and I am happy to report that there is no indication of any disease process which could be the root cause of your loss of memory.”

Mac knew that. No one else could. He heard the diagnosis but for a moment in time he was lost, brooding over his predicament. Why had there been no dream of Aunt Bessie recently, why had the bridge not delivered her promise? It would not be long before the suggested timescale would pass, the touching membranes, his theoretical passage home. It was not for the lack of endeavour either, to rid this enforced presence herein, goodness knows he had visited the appointed site more times than were comfortable to dare over the past few days, odd times and all, in an effort not to be found out. None had given any hint of change. No aura, no ground movement, no time shift, not even a pinch of any change in reality, though that idea now brought him back to that odd experience the last time he had occupied the professors uninteresting cream coloured office, this very room.

That claustrophobic sense of the walls closing in, an otherworldly sensation of reality, no the exact opposite of reality in fact, imaginings, dreamlike, call it what you will but definitely do not attribute a tag of reality to it. The experience had also happened again in the comfort of the farmstead lounge, accompanied by a physical, no mental, or whatever it was, a sinking feeling, one of unavoidable dilemma, manifest in the apparent alteration of structure itself, the walls, window moving to encage, the floor dropping like a circus ring removing to let in water for the aquatic part of the act. But all this at the same instant as the television and indeed Margaret herself, sat next to him, not showing any alteration or evidence of being involved. Strange was a word he had come to think on a lot lately, and this word certainly fit the bill for these moments.

“Oh, right, that’s good then isn’t it,” the patient finally answered, playing with the white drawstrings of a new hooded garment, a navy blue, zip front cardigan type of top with a flag of this new country emblazoned on the back. “So where from here then Professor?”

“We’re just completing some more data this morning, just for clarification.”

Mac puzzled for a few seconds, searching for a meaning, could not find one so asked, “data, what kind of clarification?”

The yellow shirt and even yellower bow tie worn by Professor Smith illuminated his face and especially his chin and neckline. Mac wondered if he liked butter, he certainly ought to.

“Another dna analysis is just being redone, the first set was inconclusive,” Smith explained. The bow tie danced a little as he spoke.

As a child Mac always had a problem with dizziness, feeling the room was falling in, claustrophobia some had it down as, others hypotension because of his height. This returned, room shrinking sensation reminded him of those early years, the worry of going to junior school because he occasionally felt that frightening feint sneak upon him, in morning assembly, in what to a small boy suddenly felt like a huge expanse of a meeting hall, or during class singalong, in particular in class singalong. The words, tune, would begin to echo around the walls, brightly coloured walls decorated with the classes work, very relaxing and comforting for most of the time, but in these episodes awfully frightening and unable to offer any recompense. Then everything, sound, vision, perception would resonate about the inside of his head, blurring the definition between voice and piano, one noise, non descript in its recognition, colours jumped out at him from off the painted posters and his head would spin like the top his father jokingly bought him as an only present one birthday. While all this was going on the rest of the class, world, carried on regardless, unaware of the turmoil he was in.

One teacher, year two, a dragon of a lady some would say, but the best for controlling boisterous six and seven year olds, mentoring them to achieve their best, took him under her wing. Whenever he felt the dizziness coming on she would sit with him momentarily. Mrs Farrow invented a cure, putting his head between both his knees until the feeling passed, a diversion of sorts even if it had no therapeutic effect. Maybe it had, it always did the trick.

Dna results? This thought now filtered down and, now recognised interrupted the daydream. He returned to the job in hand. “So no match to any history then?”

“None whatsoever with the first batch, but we are wondering whether or not it may have been contaminated with some other sample, so we just need a rerun to obtain another set.”

The professor was edging a little, speaking in too lack of a matter of fact for his position, a does not matter kind of an approach that did not reflect his medical standing. Why?

Mac was suddenly concerned. “Contaminated?”

“Absolutely nothing to be bothered with Mac, it sometimes happens with these tests. We’ll know more today.” Still unrevealing, no more of a proper answer, but still that know something smile across his face. What was the professor up to?

Mac pursued his goal. “So no family match on the data base, no medical history?” Could that be it, had they found his contemporary?

“None whatsoever, but a rerun may be more fruitful.” There was absolutely no doubt in it, the professor was holding something back for sure, something of interest.

“And the sample could be contaminated?” If his dna matched someone else, surely that could be put down to a twins scenario, what was this information being kept a secret?

“It does happen on rare occasions, a strange result, anomalies, let’s wait for the next set, they will be here within the hour.”

“Anomalies, what on earth does that mean?” Mac was chomping at the bit now, and pretending to be shocked, “am I a freak or something?” He realised he could be, nothing was the surer.

The clinician in the professor returned to nurse his patient. “Not at all Mac, listen you must not become stressed, it’s not good for your condition, now just calm and let’s continue our session, yes?” He stood up and walked over to Mac’s easy chair and patted him on the shoulder. “You must not worry over any of this Mac, it will all come out in the wash. Let’s get started eh?”

“Ok if you think it’ll help.” How could it? It could no sooner help than the fictitious man in the moon the people of this new world once marvelled over, still play along a while he decided, at least until these second results came in, then he would have first hand knowledge of what had been found.

So for the next hour Professor Smith carried through his treatment plan, questions about Mac’s predicament, had he felt any improvement, had any more memories returned? In between were staged certain tasks, games call them, either on paper or with the aid of apparatus, building blocks, picture boards, most very rudimentary, then computer aided tests, slightly more interesting if the software had not kept crashing.

The minutes ticked by, the digital glow from the clock’s red numerals announcing one minute then the next. Boring was not an adequate word to describe the session, though to keep the Professor on board Mac intimated of another scene coming to him, an allotment and people working the soil. That was a good result for the time being the professor insisted, Mac kept up his pretence and worried they were not making much progress.

“Another memory is not what I would describe as not making progress,” the professor insisted. Suddenly Smith pulled up short and took a phone from out his trouser pocket. He looked to the identity of the caller then answered.

“Yes…..good……what came up this time then?” A pause to listen, then, “so no change, the same as before.” He scratched at his temple and looked over the table to his patient. “No doubt whatsoever then?” Another moments silence accompanied by a most interested squint of the clinicians eyes, a search for rationale almost by the looks of it, or disbelief. “Bring me paper copies please, you know I hate all this techy presentation….. five minutes, that’ll be fine.”

“Good news?”

Professor Smith’s satisfied expression did not alter as he answered. “Very interesting information if it is true Mac, though I need to see the evidence myself, and have it explained to me before I accept it.”

Mac stood to straighten his legs, he was becoming restless, anxious if the truth be known. Why had he taken up this appointment today, why not just keep trying the bridge? All of this was taking up valuable time, time he could not afford to lose. Chances were that with all he had read about this nations health service, the results would be mixed up anyway, or messed up altogether, so why worry over it? No, the priority was to keep trying the bridge. He walked over to take another look at the computer screen and sat at that seat for a change. “What did it come up with then?” he finally asked.

“Prof Bramley is bringing the printout of data to show us. If it is correct you have quite a unique dna sequence, let’s wait while she arrives though to discuss her findings.”

“And that will shed some light on my problem?”

Professor Smith adjusted his bow tie, it had slipped and was tickling his chin. “I’m not sure of that yet Mac,” he answered, “but Prof Bramley is an expert in this field so if anyone knows she certainly will.”

No sooner had the sentence been delivered than there was a loud knock to the office door, followed by an exuberant entrance without waiting any invitation from inside.

“This sequence is astonishing I tell you Philip,” the newcomer began without a thought for the expression across her colleagues face. “I ran a double lot to make sure and I tell you if this is true we are on to something…..” Mac bent his head and shoulders from around the computer screen to allow this scientist the realisation of the full compliment of company she now kept, “quite interesting.” These concluding words were delivered with much less excitement.

If this was Bramley, she looked on somewhat at a loss, surprised. Mac was too. Far, far more so, extremely so in fact. The blood drained from his head and neck. He must look ashen, pale in the face. He hoped his disbelief would be interpreted as belonging the sentence just delivered. It was not just for that however. Oh no! Something far stranger than his own dna profile now presented itself, herself!

Stood in front of him, this new member of the medical team running his treatment was a carbon copy of Pastour Beck back home. Knowledgable face under a mop of natural blonde hair non betraying of her sixty years, this woman of six foot and athletic build was without doubt the second person in this time who Mac could recognise as someone met before. The recently arrived on the other hand had no idea of any of it.

Professor Smith nodded in their patients direction. “This is Mr Hammerton, and this is Professor Bramley,” he said by means of an introduction, an emphasis on the word is indicating by its delivery that some cat may be out of the bag, but which cat and was it a cat Mac was not meant to be privy to.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance Mr Hammerton.” Bramley extended a grey, fine check bloused arm and tanned hand in greeting. “Are you ok?”

Smith had noticed too. “Mac, are you alright?”

“A little overwhelmed that’s all. Quite interesting, what do you mean by that?” Mac asked.

“This data Mr Hammerton, quite unusual it is!”

Bramley, Beck, whoever she now was had put the evidence on the desk for Smith to look over. Reaching for his flimsy spectacles and balancing them on the end of his pock marked nose he ran an index finger across the paper printouts. Now a poker face expression gave nothing away but the frantic movement of his finger from one piece of paper to the next betrayed an enthusiasm bottled up inside.

Bramley skirted the edge of the desk to take up a position on the clinicians side. “So you see!” she whispered in a musical tone of voice, “very interesting indeed, would you not agree?”

“This?” Smith asked, pointing at one piece of information.

“Well just compare the two, or combine them, the same sequences we would expect in say……in an hybrid twenty thousand years ago. She was whispering, but Mac heard the gist of it. “Look at the genome maps, the graphical prints, look at this hapmap, it shows variations in the genome indicative of what we would expect if….”

“If what?” Mac, his composure and colour returned was showing much more concern now. Pastour Beck’s doppelgänger or no, her identity was of no paramount importance at the moment, though his eyes did keep wandering back to wherever she was standing in the room, as if checking she was still of the same appearance.

“You seem to have a very odd, if not unique genetic make up Mr Hammerton,” Bramley retorted.

Smith’s expression was now one of do not become too concerned Mac, we two phycisions are in full control, there is no need to trouble yourself over this finding. Clearly there was, for these two also betrayed a more seripticous side to their meeting, findings. The ramifications were obvious.

Mac was up to speed, he knew. “So how unique?”

“Very.”

“Extremely,” Bramley added. “These results show you to have a genetic makeup like no other I ever seen Mr Hammerton, if it was not so far fetched I would even go as far as to say these results say you have some other ancient human about you, an admixture with another branch of human evolution, the neanderthals, I’m sure you’ve heard of them. If it is true you are certainly a very special individual though I cannot explain how this has come about.” She paused a moment on what had just been said, took another look at the data then confirmed it. “Yes, there is certainly reason by this data at least to suggest that this be the case.”

Mac needed a defence. “That’s absurd,” he began in earnest, “there must be some mistake.”

“That’s exactly what I said,” Smith added.

“And me too, but my team have repeated these findings and the results are the same. For whatever reason I am going to take another swab, if you will allow me, to be absolutely safe and sure but I am certainly in no doubt of the present data even if I do not comprehend it. Let’s do one more run with a fresh sample eh?”

“It’s all a silly mistake Professor Bramley, it simply must be.” Mac complained bitterly, he needed to make a stand. “How can I be a unique specimen among the population?”

“How indeed?” Smith butted in.

“Take another swab please, let’s have this all resolved, I’m sure the next lot will be different,” The room was beginning to fold in again, he had not eaten since breakfast. “And can we finish this quickly please, I need some lunch,” An annoyance in this request emphasised the stupidity he attributed to the results and sort of burst the two professors bubble. They clearly thought they were on to something, but judging by their patients outburst were left a little unsure now.

The swab taken Mac took his leave and left them to it. They seemed more than happy to let him go anyway so they could continue with their discussion. Of course it could be true, the data, obviously it could. From a different universe the chance was more likely than not. His head was all over the place, and it needed clearing before finding the Land Rover and Margaret in the car park. Slowly walking the perimeter of the mass of many vehicles he took a few minutes to compose his thoughts, reduce the bewilderment to acceptance. He was different and that was the end of it. Why did these people put so much emphasis and finance into owning these myriad of cars was the next thought that came to mind, bringing him to some sense of normality.

“Not different back home though eh Mac?” These words comforted him somewhat as Margaret waved over to him. She was standing at the door to the Land Rover. He made a dash one way then the other over to her. The clouds were just rolling back replacing a slate grey sky with inviting blue. At least the day was turning out for the better.

“Good session?” she asked when he came in earshot.

“Not bad, though I’ve some weird dna readout by all accounts!”

“Which means?” Margaret climbed back into the cab.

“Who knows, I didn’t understand half of it. I had another memory though, of an allotment, Prof Smith seemed to think that was good.”

“It is love,” Margaret insisted.

The engine, after complaining a couple of times started up and was now running. They were on the way home.

“Just doesn’t seem to be much.”

“Any recall is good, remember what we found on t’internet, they’ll, could, come back slowly…… remember?”

Mac pretended to worry. “Slowly is certainly the word though ain’t it?”

The debrief continued as they left the hospital grounds and just for once Mac was glad of the chocolate bar collection kept stashed in the glove compartment. Normally he would have packed some fruit but had forgotten this morning, what with sneaking off to the bridge. One bar then a second satisfied his hunger and put a stop to the noises coming from his belly.

The two held hands most the way home, discussed the tests and made other idle conversation about the farm workload. Margaret always managed to ease his mind with her concern and care, treading carefully between banter and discussion she guided his thoughts to those of a more relaxed agenda, a true soulmate if ever there was one. And why not, of course she was.

But what of Bramley? That was a surprise to say the least! In all the turmoil he had not come to terms with that revelation yet, of seeing his towns religious cleric transported as it was, in like for like appearance, even more similar than Margaret was to Sal. At least Margaret had a slightly thinner frame, and most certainly at the moment, not being pregnant. As well her hair was a different style and colour, but Bramley? She was Beck through and through. Same letter initialing their surnames too he mused, how strange could that be? But that was not even the half of it. Her hair, body, gait and mannerisms all mimicked those of Pastour Beck back home. Only Bramley’s suspicious attitude to the results and her subterfuge with Smith singled her out as a completely different individual.

Green trees and greener fields replaced the urban sprawl and displaced the botheration. Countryside, sunshine, Margaret, a home in all but name. Would any other traveller have been as fortunate? Or was it all prearranged? Was all this meant to be, was it organised for him to find, a life to become involved in and take up in this other time and place? He still wondered.

Sal? It was an effort to put her to the back of his mind and constantly keep her there. When she resurfaced it always took a toll. How would she be looking? The baby will have grown a lot by now and Sal’s belly must be big. What could she be doing about his absence. Aunt Bessie had better have put her mind to rest.

The remainder of the afternoon passed by with better therapy, tending the potato fields, another visit to the bridge and over dinner Walt’s mid week catch up of how the farm was performing interspersed with checking up on Mac’s health and progress at the hospital.

If one person in this world gave Mac a reason to believe in change, then Walt Helliwell was he. Nothing in any wildest dream, and he was definitely having some of them, could have prepared for the change in attitude, outlook and concern this elder would exhibit over the short time since their first encounter over the farm gate. Having taken Mac into his home Walt had also taken him into his family and heart. Joking on occasions now, of Mac not needing to worry, for if no memories did come back he had nothing to be afraid of, he, Walt, regarded Mac as a son of his own now anyway, and tonight added another gem of a comment.

“If yor two yungsters decide to tie knot, then no father on earth could be any prouder.”

That melodic comment hit Mac for a six. Margaret blushed.

The two lovers looked over the empty dinner plates to each others embarrassed faces. One thought it could be a possibility, the other could not think on it at all. Both smiled. Walt grinned so much he revealed a missing premolar. Mac had never noticed it before so knew it was the widest smile he had seen so far from him.

“Well ya can’t keep living over brush!” he added. “Can ya?”

“Dad!” Margaret objected with giggle and shriek all rolled into one.

“Only sayin lass, ya knows me. Ses what I think, never gets mixed up then.”

“Yes, well, that be as it may dad. Let’s get Mac on the road to recovery the first eh?”

Walt considered himself told off so took his leave to the lounge, having to have the last word as usual as he went. “Grand lad that mind, don’t be losing him.” He stole a smile at Mac as he passed, adding “grand lass too Mac.”

“No need to tell me that Walt, you have a lovely daughter.”

“I knows that lad I does. Truly blessed, yes truly blessed.” That comment saw him to his easy chair and the local news programme on television. Walt’s day had finished. It was down to them now to wash and clear the dishes.

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