General Fiction posted January 13, 2019 Chapters:  ...22 23 -24- 25... 

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Is this the answer?

A chapter in the book This Time - That Time 3

The Door

by sandramitchell

End of Part 23

I poured myself a glass of water and readied myself for some serious research. I will find something, if it kills me! Flexing my fingers, I set to and began my hunt for clues. Two hours later, after delving into every bit of information I could find, I was still no nearer finding anything that looked remotely like what the ‘powers’ were waiting for me to find.  
     I wrapped my arms around my shoulders as I let out a frustrated groan. “Why won’t you send me back?
I cried out. “Mildred needs me!”
      The silence that met me made me feel like screaming. I was obviously missing something, but for the life of me, I couldn't work out what it was.... 
Chapter 24 
I stared at the computer screen again. My thoughts were scrambled in so many directions, but none of them were leading me to where I wanted them to go. I stood up and walked over to the window and looked out onto the garden.
     I need to mow the lawn before it gets out of control. I’ll make a mental note to do it this weekend. “Oh, Mildred, what am I supposed to be doing?” I glanced over my shoulder at the computer. “Well, you won’t find out standing here, my girl. Best get back to it.”
     I sighed and gave one last look at the garden before I returned to the computer. After making myself comfortable, I scrolled down the page to resume my search for clues. What are the ‘powers’ waiting for me to discover? It must be something that will help Mildred evacuate the hospital before all hell drops out of the sky. But what?
     Flicking to the next page, I skimmed through and shook my head. Nothing useful there. I continued on until something caught my eye just as I was going to move on to page six. There, in large bold letters, was surely the reason the powers-that-be had been keeping me here. ‘Plans of The Regency Hospital.’ “Now that’s more like it!” I grinned, my excitement beginning to bubble over as I opened the page.
     I quickly perused the whole document on the screen before going back to give each of the floors, which included the basement, a thorough inspection. There was no mention of a shelter, which I didn’t expect to find, anyway. Why would I? Planes and Zeppelins didn’t exist when these plans were being drawn up, so the idea of anyone dropping bombs on people wouldn’t even have entered their heads. The problem was, I was stumped as to where I go from here.
     I looked over the top of the computer and stared vacantly at the wallpaper. I was so sure this was what I was supposed to find. With a soft groan, I rolled my shoulders, trying to relieve the tension I was constantly feeling these days.
     Turning my attention back to the job at hand, I went over each of the floors again to see if I’d missed something. The ground floor was the only one with doors to the outside, and to bring the patients to safety from the above floors, there were two lifts and a staircase. “That’s not a lot of good. They won't be any safer outside than they would be inside the hospital.”
     Having meticulously studied all the other floors, I decided to look once more at the basement. I squinted before I moved closer to the screen. What’s that? I magnified the picture and let out a whoop of joy. The relief I felt when I saw the words ‘Proposed connection to underground’ next to a door, which had dotted lines indicating where it would lead, was beyond words.
     “Proposed? Oh, please don’t tell me it was never built!” I shook my head. “No—this has to be what they wanted me to find.” My mind was doing cartwheels as I digested this new discovery. “It’s got to be it.  A corridor leading to the underground would be the ideal place to take patients in the event of an emergency.”
     The more I thought about it, the more convinced I became. A corridor would lead them along to another exit, as there would be no point waiting to go back into the hospital if it was going to be flattened.  “Yes, this is definitely it!”
     Believing I’d at last found what the ‘powers’ wanted me to find, I studied the basement plans for at least another thirty or forty minutes, working out the way to the door from the stairs and lifts. As if a camera was clicking away in my head, my mind quickly committed every detail to memory, and when I felt I could do no more, I slumped back in the computer chair and looked heavenward. “Please, please return me to the hospital,” I called out frantically to the silence around me. “I’ve discovered what you wanted me to find … I know what I need to do….”
“Oh, Lordy, the powers must’ve heard me and sent you back!” Mildred came rushing over and threw her arms around me. Or, rather, threw her arms straight through me. “Oh!” The baffled expression in her eyes was soon replaced with merriment when she realised what she’d done.
     I was back! The relief that flooded over me was intoxicating. “Mildred, you’re still alive. Thank goodness for that!”
     “Course I’m alive—what on earth are you goin’ on about?” she asked, giving me one of her strange looks before shaking her head and grinning. “You’ve missed the bombin’ you’ll be pleased t’ know. Them Zeppethings just didn’t want t’ stop last night. Lordy, how many bombs do you think they can carry in one go? It were right scary—” She stopped, I watched as her face scrunched up and her eyes closed for a second as she became aware of the incredulous looks everyone was giving her. She threw out her arms dramatically. “It’s alright, people, I’m just praticin’ me part for a West End play—so pleased I got your attention!” she quipped in order to cover up the fact that it looked as if she was talking to herself.
     I couldn’t help it, I just cracked up laughing. The fear and worry of the past few hours must have triggered my emotions, because suddenly I was laughing and crying at the same time. “Oh, Mildred, you have no idea how good it is to see you again.”
    As I looked around at all the wounded people, many more than the last time I was here, the seriousness of what might be going to happen in a few short hours’ time brought me back to my senses. “Mildred, what’s today’s date?”
     Mildred frowned and turned away from the patients. “I’m not rightly sure,” she whispered behind her hand. “Why?”
     “It’s important, Mildred. Quick, ask someone.”
     Her frown deepened as she looked at me, then she turned back to face everyone in the ward. “Oh, hang on a sec.” Walking over to the nearest bed, she picked up the patient’s chart. “Here we are—it’s the eighth of September.”
     My heart sank. Although I knew we hadn’t, just for the tiniest moment, I was hoping James and I had got the dates wrong, giving us a few days' grace—even one day would have been nice. “Come with me, Mildred, we have to go down to the basement.” I shouted over my shoulder as I dashed towards the door.
     “The basement? What d’you want t’ go down there for?” she asked as she quickened her pace in order to keep up with me. “Miss Veronica, what the heck’s goin’ on?”
    I stopped just outside the ward and looked across at her anxious expression, and decided to get straight to the point. “There’s going to be another bombing raid tonight, and this hospital will take a direct hit. Luckily, the Zeppelins won’t be here until after dark, so we still have a few hours to get everyone to safety, but we haven’t a minute to waste.”
     Mildred’s sharp intake of breath, and the blood draining from her face as she took in the enormity of what I’d told her, had her leaning against the wall to steady herself. “But, they can’t … how can they get back t’ Germany t’ reload, and then get back here so fast? It’s not possible … is it?”
     “They have dozens of Zeppelins, Mildred. It’s amazing what you can find out on the internet these days. Quite honestly, I was as shocked as you that they would attack on two successive nights.”
     Mildred’s pale face accentuated her wide eyes. As I watched, I could almost see her mind whirring into action. “We’s got t’ get all the patients outta here,” she said with a steely determination now appearing in her eyes. “But how? There’s loads that can’t walk, and where’d we take them anyways?”
     “Before they sent me back here, I found the plans for this hospital on the internet. After studying them for a while, I found what looks like a door leading from the basement into an underground corridor. Now, the thing is, it only says ‘proposed door’ on the plans, so I’m hoping they did put it in and that it’s still there. If we can just go down and check it out, I’m sure we can organise a quick evacuation.”
     “You think so?”
     I pointed over to the lifts. “There’s only one way to find out. Let’s go and take a look.”
     Mildred didn’t hesitate, and after telling a nurse she was taking a break, quickly walked over to the lifts with me in hot pursuit. She pulled back the metal gate and waited until we were both inside before closing it behind us and pressing the button to take us down.
     As we stood side by side in the rattling cage, Mildred grimaced and gave me one of her distorted smiles. “I hates comin’ down here,” she said. “This is where we have t’ take the families t’ identify the bodies of their loved ones. There’s more down here than usual due t’ what’s goin’ on up top.” She gave a shudder. “I just hopes the mortuary door’s closed.”
     The lift juddered to a halt and Mildred pushed the gate open. The light was dim, but just bright enough to see by, allowing me to stand for a moment and picture the layout I’d memorised from the internet. Mildred was already outside the lift, waiting for me to follow. I pointed towards the far side of the basement where I remembered the door to the passage had been drawn on the plans. “Over there.”
     I stopped short when I saw the wall was covered by a row of high individual metal racks, each one supporting shelves wide enough to hold two boxes side by side. My eyes flitted along the other walls in case they’d put the door somewhere else. They hadn’t. The door, if it had been put in, had to be behind one of these metal racks. I threw my hands up into the air and glared angrily at the roof. “A little help now and then wouldn’t be such a bad idea!”
     Unperturbed, Mildred started moving the boxes so we could see behind them, and we both let out a sigh of relief when the door was revealed. Five minutes later, she had cleared the rest of the boxes from the shelves, and then carefully moved the empty rack away while I stood there feeling completely useless. As soon as we were able to get to it, she excitedly turned the door handle—only to find out it was locked.
What the hell do we do now….?
Characters in book 3
Veronica Russell – time traveller
Mildred – now a time - traveller with Veronica
Dr James – Veronica’s husband
Ann – their 10-year-old daughter
Michael – their 8-year-old son
Gladys Pembroke – suffragette and mother to
Tommy -16-year-old-son   
Vice Admiral Charles Pembrock – Gladys’s bullying husband.
Mary – Maid 
Lady Amelia Monkton – Gladys’s aunt
Clare – Leader of this suffragette group 

The powers-that-be




I'd like to thank everyone for their encouraging reviews and constant support, I'd be lost without you. As you know, I'll take any suggestion on board and and I'm always happy to be told if an error is spotted. This is written in UK English, with Mildred's added dialect. Thanks again. xxx
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