Would you care for a smoke?

What would you rather I call you? Air Vice Marshall?! Now, be a good chap, and sit down will you? I cant spend all my time fixing broken noses, can I?” The doctor had either not noticed the look of complete confused horror on Evan’s face, or he was equally as disinterested in the situation as Evan was stunned by it. For the next fifteen minutes, he was too shocked to really say anything, apart from mumbling ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to questions ranging from ‘does your head still hurt’ to ‘have you evacuated your bowels yet?” During the examination, Evan had been trying to figure out just what the hell had happened. This obviously wasn’t a practical joke of some sort, unless someone had figured out how to remove his tattoos, and make him look not only younger, but also a good few stones lighter, in the space of maybe a few hours… That left two possibilities. The more obvious and sensible being that this was a hyper realistic dream. Had to be. He had been knocked out in an aircraft museum, and in a Second World War display of an RAF Station to boot. Probably the medication he was on in a hospital was making his subconscious senses work in overdrive. The other, completely ridiculous possibility, was, that he was actually there for real. That, was impossible. The doctor put his stethoscope back into his pocket, and pulled out a packet of cigarettes. “Would you care for a smoke, Pilot Officer?” Evan shook his head, and was stunned at how acrid the smoke smelt from the cigarette. He caught a glimpse of the name on the white packet. CHELSEA. He had never heard of them before. Admittedly, he didn’t smoke, but he had never seen them on any shelves in a shop or supermarket before. The doctor finished his cigarette, and left, followed by the nurse in close attendance.

Looking around the room, Evan spotted magazines on the table, and some newspapers. The headlines read of victories in Tunisia in North Africa, and of the Americans getting revenge with the death of Admiral Yamamoto, who had been the mastermind behind the attack of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. The dates on the newspapers and magazines ranged from late April to early May, 1943... On the wall, next to the door, was an Esquire calendar. A beautifully airbrushed redhead in a green swimsuit sat next to a little box, where dates had been pencilled out. Looking closer, Evan could see what must have been the date. Saturday, 8th May. Sitting back on the bed, he tried to gather his thoughts. So far this dream was feeling so real it was scary. The paint on the metal framework of the bedstead was chipped. When he slid his fingertip over the chips, he could feel the smoothness of the paint, the rough edge where the paint was peeling. Picking at the edge of one of them he broke a piece off. Turning it over between his fingertips, he could feel the thick paint bend under the pressure he applied to it. The sheets on the bed were heavy, and felt stiff to the touch. Under the bed, a bed-pan sat there expectantly.

A knock on the door preceded its opening. Framed in the open doorway was a man, not much more than a teenager, wearing the wings of a pilot in the RAF on his left breast. He smiled as he walked into the room, removed his peaked cap and smoothed his hair flat. Tossing the cap onto the chair in the corner and unbuttoning his tunic, he jumped onto the bed, and folded his hands behind his head, while crossing his legs at his ankles. “You really are the clumsiest person I’ve ever met, you know that? Of all the stupid things to do, getting hit in the face by the tailgate of the truck like that. It was rather funny though Evan. What a way to join the Squadron! Everyone on the base knows of your name now, you’re infamous already! I say old man, are you alright, you look positively ghastly…” The man on the bed raised himself onto his elbow, a quizzical look on his face. “I’m sorry to ask, but, do we know each other?

Evan, if this your attempt to get out of owing me that £2 I lent you, you can forget it. It was your idea to buy that ruddy MG, I said it was a bad idea. It breaks down more than it drives.” Around the cuffs on his tunic were the thin blue bands of a Pilot Officer. Evan watched as he pulled a cigarette from a pack, and struck a match and lit it. “Look, this isn’t some sort of excuse, but I really don’t know who you are. This sounds like a bad cliché, but, since I woke up in here earlier, I’ve not had a clue where I am or anything. And now you come in, obviously you know who I am?The officer sat up on the bed, and looked straight at Evan. “Yes. You are Winston Churchill. No, wait. I know, you’re James Stewart, or how about Cary Grant?” Evan started to become both annoyed and panicked at the same time. Whoever this man was, he seemed to know him, but he was playing at silly buggers. “LOOK!, I am not joking, I don’t know you, at least I think I don’t. I THINK I know who I am, but I am not sure. I don’t have any real memory prior to waking up in that bed about thirty minutes ago!” The look in his eyes, and the scared look on his face, combined with the honest note of panic in his voice finally seemed to penetrate through to the other man. Evan watched as the man got off the bed, and stubbed his half smoked cigarette out in the ashtray. A look of concern had replaced the look of humour of a few seconds previously. “Are you serious Evan? Good Lord man, I know you broke your nose, and the saw-bones said you have a concussion, but ‘memory loss’? Are you talking about ‘amnesia’?

Trying to stem the rising panic that he was feeling, Evan decided that a half truth was needed. This dream was starting to become one of those nightmares that you cant wait to wake from. “It’s like I am in a very real dream, but although I know what is going on, and am in control of my actions, I don’t know how I got here, who you are, where THIS is, anything…Look, whoever you are, I am not doing this as a practical joke. I didn’t say anything to the doctor, because he would’ve probably thought I was crazy. If there is anyway you can help me figure this out, then I would appreciate it…” Evan sat down on the bed, and put his head in his hands, shaking with emotion, and trying not to be sick. The Pilot Officer sat alongside him. Evan could sense the man looking at him, even though his eyes were focused on the floor. A spider scuttled away to the skirting bored. “Evan, I know you’re not this good an actor, and I don’t think you would take a practical joke this far. Well, if only to humour you then. I’m Malcolm Roberts. 'Mal' or 'Colm' to those who know me. I’ve known YOU since flight training. We were both posted to No 53 OTU, and were lucky enough to be posted together here after confirmation of our promotions to Pilot Officer. I am the better looking out of the pair of us, you can’t hold your ale, you owe me £2 from the purchase of 'old Bess' the MG monster, we arrived here yesterday morning, you have been in here since you broke your nose, and we have been assigned to the same room in the Squadron billets. Oh, did I mention you owe me £2?

The End

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