Monthly Archives: June 2016

Chapter 12: Departure

Lonesome was lying in the corner of his room, conserving his energy, while Cadmus was getting the few contents of his backpack together for the trip back home. He had enjoyed his recuperation with Remi and Galen, it had been most interesting, but now he was ready to return to Kaly’s memories on his home moon of 4g, a little wiser but also a little humbler about what knew and what he didn’t know.

“We called ahead at your hotel to tell them you’d be checking out today. They said you’d only be charged for the one day,” Remi said when Cadmus walked into the kitchen with his backpack. “We also called the terminal to let them know you’d be departing and that you’d need a tug to retrieve your ship from long-term parking.”

“Thanks Remi,” he said.

“Do you want anything to eat or drink before you go,” Galen asked.

“No.”

“We’re just a few moments’ walk from the garden and the hotel.”

Cadmus whistled to Lonesome who came bounding into the kitchen looking for his water bowl.

They left the cave and strolled up the path to the stand of trees on the ledge overlooking the valley and backing into the public garden between the two hotels. Cadmus never realized just how close the cave had been to the garden and hotels. Perhaps their cave had been in a higher—order dimension and he hadn’t been aware of it.

They stopped at the trees and looked out over the valley below. They felt a pleasant breeze wend through their clothing.

“I almost forgot to ask you both about a dark moon I passed on my way into the 3 system, 3b I think,” Cadmus broke the silence among them. “Can you tell me any more about it than the little I remember from what we were taught in our schools?”

“What were you taught?”

“That 3b had been inhabited by humans who had destroyed their moon, turning it into a cinder and that there were no artifacts or evidence of their existence.”

“Actually there were.”

“What do you mean?”

“We were there,” Remi answered. “Well, not Galen and I. My great grandparents, Lem and Yani, were born there.” Remi told Cadmus about the Lem’s and Yani’s Sapien parents, about the mutation, caused by working in the cobalt mines, that caused their amygdalae to disappear and their neurons to reroute directly into their prefrontal cortexes. The mutation also turned their skins blue.

The Sapiens on 3b believed the blue babies were abominations in the eyes of their god and killed all the ones they could get their hands on. A few Sapien parents, like Evanor and Thort, Lem’s parents, and Kivo and Thana, Yani’s parents, tried to protect their children from the hatred of the others. As it turned out, the children had certain attributes that proved advantageous so that the children ended up protecting their parents.

“The Sapiens called us Rats, for Rationals,” Remi continued. “My great grandmother, Yani, called the Sapiens Saps, probably a childish means of dealing with their hateful name calling, but the names caught on and stuck.

The Rationals tried to get away from the Sapiens, made their way to an uncharted area of 3b, and created a refuge for themselves in a fertile area with many natural defenses. The Sapiens organized an army with rifles, canons, and balloons and tried their best to exterminate the Rationals.

“After failing to crush us and losing many soldiers in the process,” Remi said, “they developed a cobalt bomb and shot it from a magnetic canon into the Refuge.”

Lem and the rest of the Rationals at the refuge saw it coming long before it was even built and they built a hyper-space tunnel between their Refuge on 3b and the unpopulated moon of 3a. It was rather primitive but effective. By the time the bomb was launched at the Refuge, the last Rational had left 3b, sealing the tunnel door shut.

As the Rationals had predicted, or seen depending on who was telling the story, the cobalt bomb set off a chain reaction of explosions that burnt the atmosphere and the surface of 3b, along with all the Sapiens.

“So apparently you and I have common roots,” Cadmus said after a while. “Do either of you have any idea where our common species came from?”

Galen had been quiet all this time but now he spoke up. “That’s a bit of a problem. As you might well know, Sapiens weren’t very reliable historians so much of the history predating the earliest Church records was attributed to stories and myths, but it is rumored that the Sapiens were deposited in this part of the Draco galaxy by robots who brought them along with them from a planet called Earth2 somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy. The robots called them humans. The robots kept very good records but unfortunately they were written in a language called ML1, which nobody living today can decipher.”

Cadmus asked, “What happened to the robots?”

“They were all destroyed by some sort of digital virus,” Galen answered.

“And if there was an Earth2, what happened to Earth?”

“There may or may not have been a planet called Earth in a galaxy called the Milky Way that collided with Andromeda a long time ago,” Galen suggested.

Cadmus had no more questions he wanted to ask.

They walked through the park, Lonesome getting in some last-minute sniffing. Remi held his arm as they negotiated the hyper-bridge over the chasm near the entrance gate.

At the hotel entrance, Cadmus hugged Galen and Remi, and thanked them for saving his life and taking such good care of Lonesome and him. They wished him a safe journey back home. He turned to the door but then something made him stop and turn around quickly, but they were gone already.

He walked through the doors with Lonesome up to the desk.

“I trust your time with us was interesting,” the clerk at the check-out counter asked.

“Yes,” he replied, “it certainly was.”

“Please take your seats in those chairs over there and make sure to buckle your seatbelts and those of your dagu,” she said as though he were an experienced interdimensional traveler. “When you are ready, just press the button on your arm rest.”

After buckling Lonesome into his chair and then buckling himself in, he pressed the button, closing his eyes. Cadmus felt his body lurching backwards.

He opened his eyes and saw the shuttle through the trees. He unbuckled himself and then Lonesome who jumped down and started barking at a flutterby that had landed on his nose.

They walked through the trees toward the shuttle. An attendant asked him whether he had a reservation for the flight to the terminal.

Cadmus said yes he thought so and fumbled around in his backpack looking for the papers.

“Don’t worry sir,” the attendant said kindly, “somebody called ahead and made arrangements for you both.”

Cadmus thanked her and they climbed into the shuttle, taking their seats. He checked to make sure there were no passengers sitting next to Lonesome. He fastened his dagu’s seatbelt and then his own, looking around the shuttle cabin and then looked at each of the safety signs. Some were written in Draco.763 Standard and some were written in what he assumed to be ML1. They all had MASER audio streams directed at anyone who looked directly at a sign. They’d get their safety message to you one way or another.

The steps retracted back up into the shuttle underside and locked down. There was a faint whistle of air and a sense of pressure against his eardrums. A female voice told the passengers the shuttle would be taking off momentarily.

Lonesome barked twice but before Cadmus could shush him, the shuttle’s engines began their own roaring and the shuttle lifted above the tree line. The ground beneath slowly became a lush green quilt of beauty interspersed by wisps of clouds. Soon the blue canopy of 3a darkened into a black night studded with stars. He looked out the window and saw the lovely blue-green moon roll to the side. A small point became brighter and larger, turning slowly into Draco.763.3 Terminal.

The shuttle adjusted attitude and approached its assigned docking port. He barely felt the press-relax-lock between the shuttle and the Terminal port. A few moments later there was a sound of air exchanged between the shuttle and the Terminal port and then the portal door opened. The Terminal air smelled slightly stale. He frowned without thinking about it and unlocked his seatbelt and that of Lonesome who jumped off his seat and waited for Cadmus to follow him.

They came out through Gate 138A and followed the arrows as did their fellow shuttle passengers and the merging passengers from other shuttles arriving from other sectors on 3a.

Cadmus followed the arrow to the long-term parking pick-up spoke. When he arrived, he stopped in front of a vacant screen. A pleasant looking Rational avatar appeared on the screen and asked how she could be of assistance.

“I want to go back home to Draco.763.4g. I need my ship.”

“Please prepare for DNA spectral analysis flash identification.”

After the flash the avatar told him his ship was waiting for him at Gate 28M. He thanked the avatar who smiled and then the screen was blank again. He followed the arrows to Gate 28M.

When Cadmus and Lonesome arrived at the gate he was flashed again. The gate portal opened and they stepped into their ship, humble but home for the next two hundred and seventy days. Lonesome ran to his favorite corner beside the rocking chair.

He checked the consoles and saw that his ship had been topped up and restocked, even Lonesome’s favorite synthetic meats.

The rocker and folding table were where he left them, next to the picture window. The calendar and checklist were still taped to the wall. Most importantly the photo of Kaly was still there on the window ledge. He picked it up, lost in thought, still married to her memory, in spite of his imaginary transgression during the shock of seeing Remi naked that one time.

He put the photograph back on the window ledge. He walked over to the consoles, sat down, and clicked the engine warm-up sequence. The mechanical joints tensed up and the portal lock released them. The ship floated back and the engines whirred with a soft throbbing sound. The ship was now moving steadily backward in a straight line. The Terminal moved away, still looming large in front of them, but a little less so than before.

When the ship had reached a safe distance from the Terminal, it turned away slowly, and then stopped, waiting for permission to proceed. After a few moments the command feed started to display on the running log and the ship’s auto-response answered back.

His ship began to move, slowly at first, then picking up speed, maneuvering around the terminal until it had a clear vector to his home planet Draco.763.4, at which point it adjusted attitude once more.

He felt the expected mechanical shiver of his craft as the massive solar sails unfolded and spread out to catch the faint radiation from Draco.763. The engines quieted down somewhat.

Cadmus settled down for the long trip home. He looked at his checklist to check what there was to do.

Lonesome was snoring beside him.

from Out of Time

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

 

Advertisement

Leave a comment

Filed under Prose, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stories and Novels, Uncategorized

Chapter 11: Possibly Inevitable

They went on many walks together over the coming days and weeks, sometimes with Galen and sometimes with Remi. Lonesome would lead the way with his meandering path. Cadmus felt like the paths and sites around their cave, the hills, and valleys were becoming more and more familiar to him, but he was warned that the local topology could change without warning and his sense of space and time couldn’t deal with it.

He took their word for it and let them walk him around like a blind man being helped across a busy street. Remi had told him that all of his senses were limited, not just his vision. His perceptors, that was what she called his eyes, ears, tactiles, taste buds, and olefactors, were capable of perceiving in all dimensions but the higher order conceptors were only capable of creating a worldview of three spatial dimensions and a linear temporal dimension. Those were Remi’s words as he remembered them afterwards. He might have gotten some of the terminology mixed up but he thought he understood the idea.

“How do you and Galen see things?” Cadmus asked Remi one day in the kitchen over a cup of tea.

“Would you be able to explain what it’s like to see color to someone who has never seen color before?” she asked. “Or what it’s like to see at all for someone who has never seen? Or to imagine the second-order spaces of a hypercube perpendicular to its first-order space?”

“You lost me at the last example.”

“I’ll try to explain it to you with an analogy more familiar to you.”

“This ought to be good,” Galen walked into the kitchen, poured himself a cup of tea, and sat down at the table.

“When we focus our conceptors on a particular volume of space we conceive it like you do, but when we unfocus we conceive it differently.”

“How so?” Cadmus asked. When he unfocused, things just got blurry.

“Our unfocused conception allows us to see the inside of you like we and you see the outside of each other. We see where you’ve been and who you were all the way to the beginning of you and where you’ll be and who you’ll be all the way to your end. We hear everything you think and say, everything you’ve thought and said, and everything you’ll think and say.”

“But how do you know what I’m going to say or think before I know it?” he asked.

“Because that is how you think and speak, all at once. That is how you act, all at once. You think everything happens in linear time, one thing at a time. That’s your worldview.”

“So what is your worldview?”

“Everything that is possible is inevitable and everything that exists existed since the beginning and will exist until the end.”

Cadmus couldn’t really understand how a worldview like that was possible, but Remi’s words somehow gave him comfort that Kaly and Lonesome might be around in one form or another until the end of the universe. Maybe Cadmus too.

from Out of Time

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

Leave a comment

Filed under Prose, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stories and Novels, Uncategorized

The Chocolate Shop

“What? You don’t like chocolate anymore?” He asked them.

“No, Saba,” Tommy was pulling away. “I still like chocolate. It’s just that I don’t want to go here.”

The older man looked inside at the tables and chairs, the shelves of light and dark chocolates, the cloudy displays of ice creams and sherbets, and the nice looking young girl holding the menus standing in the open door way smiling at them. It looked like nothing had ever happened here. It looked like a perfect place to take his two grandkids for a holiday weekend.

Daniel was busy double-thumbing something on his smartphone and didn’t seem to notice where he was at the moment.

“Why, Tommy?” he asked.

“Because,” Tommy said.

Daniel stopped double-thumbing and explained, “He doesn’t want to go inside because this is where those terrorists came in and shot and killed those four people.”

Tommy nodded his head somberly, agreeing with his brother for a change.

“Oh,” the older man said, “I see.”

They walked over to the low wall surrounding the open square where kids were skating and riding their bikes. They all sat down facing the square with their backs to the chocolate shop only ten meters away.

“If the world is such a good place, why are there such bad people?” Tommy asked his Saba, which means “grampa” in our language.

“I ask myself that all the time,” he replied. “If the world is such a bad place, why are there such good people as you kids and your parents?”

“That’s not what he asked, Saba!” Daniel interjected. He was the wiser of the two brothers. He was going to be bar mitzvahed next month. A long time ago, when we lived in tents in the desert, that was when a boy became a man. He still felt like a kid though. “He said ‘if the world is such a good place …'”

“I know what he said, Daniel,” the older man smiled. “I just wanted to show you both that reversing what he asked was also an interesting question.”

Tommy said, “What I meant was why do bad things happen? Why can’t we be protected from them?”

“Your parents, your brother and sisters, your grandparents, and everyone else who loves you want more than anything in the world to protect you from bad things,” Saba said, “more than they would want to protect themselves.”

“But what happens if you are not with us?” Daniel asked.

“That’s why we try to keep you close to us when we go somewhere.”

“What if the bad people are stronger than you?”

“Love gives good people strength they didn’t know they had.”

“What if they shoot you?”

“There will be good people around you who will try to protect you.”

“What if they run away with their kids or what if they’ve been shot too?”

Saba was quiet for a few moments. He didn’t really believe in God but he didn’t want to weaken their confidence. Neither did he want to lie to them.

Daniel asked, “Why do bad people do bad things anyway? Don’t they know they’re not good?”

Saba was thankful to be rescued from the previous line of questioning. “I don’t believe they think they’re doing anything wrong. Nobody does anything wrong intentionally. Everyone believes what he’s doing is the right thing to do.”

“How can anyone think killing an innocent person is the right thing to do?”

“Maybe we killed an innocent person whom they loved very much, like we love you, and they wanted revenge for what we did.”

“Why would we do that? We don’t go around killing children, women, or old people. Sorry, Saba.”

“Maybe we killed an innocent person by accident when we were trying to kill terrorists.”

“But who started it?”

“Nobody remembers. Everyone believes his enemies started it.”

“But who really started it?”

“I don’t know. It depends on who’s doing the counting.”

“Don’t they know we wouldn’t kill innocent people on purpose?”

“They don’t care what we say or think. They just care about what we do, like us. We don’t care what they say or think either, just what they do.”

“Why do they think revenge is the right thing to do?”

“They think that revenge is a kind of justice, when no other form of justice is available to them, just like many of us do, and everyone believes that justice is the right thing to do.”

“I wanted revenge when one of my classmates said I was too short to play basketball at recess,” Tommy admitted.

“What did you do?”

“Well, at first, I wanted to punch him in the stomach.”

“So what did you do?”

“I threw the ball into the basket. Everybody laughed at that and he said I could be on his team if I wanted.”

“If only people could think of other things to do to get even, besides killing, that would be good,” Daniel raised his finger wisely.

“Anybody up for an ice cream,” Saba asked, standing up and stretching his arms and back, “somewhere else?”

“Yes!” they both answered.

The older man offered each his hand and they walked away from the chocolate shop on the square. He said a silent prayer to no one in particular that today wouldn’t be the day and this would not be the place.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

1 Comment

Filed under Dilemmas, Essays, Dilemmas, & Philosophy, Prose, Stories and Novels, Uncategorized

Chapter 10: Succubus

Kalyra stood naked in front of the mirror of their bedroom brushing her thick long black hair while he lay on their bed watching her intently. He loved when she would do that just before she’d lay down next to him. He wondered whether there was a mathematical function that expressed the exquisiteness of her geometry. Cadmus shivered in anticipation. She would brush slowly, repeatedly, until the soft light danced and shimmered in the blackness of her hair. When she was done she put the brush in its place on the table in front of the mirror and turned around to face him. He looked up at her dark brown eyes, the pronounced cheek bones, and her inviting lips puckered up in a kiss. He couldn’t breathe, she was so proudly beautiful. He made a space for her to lie down. She turned off the light and lay down beside him carefully, tentatively. He felt the full and warm volume of her breasts against his chest. He kissed her mouth, then her cheeks, and then her eye lids, her ear lobes, and neck. He kissed her breasts, first one and then the other. He kissed her soft belly. The room was now bathed in some sort of ambient light. Her skin was so blue it was almost black. Kaly’s face had changed into Remi’s face. When he entered her they were so entangled, legs and legs, arms and arms, that he had no sense of where his body ended and hers began, that he was inside her and she was inside him, that he was obliterated in an explosion of …

He woke up. He felt the wetness between his legs. Lonesome was snoring in his sleep on the floor beside his bed. He got up and walked into shower to clean himself and clear his head of the dream that made him wince in guilt when he remembered it. Is this how I repay the generosity of my hosts? He thought to himself. Is this how I honor Kaly’s memory?

Cadmus tried to shake the thoughts and memories from his head. He dried himself and dressed.

He walked out of the room, keeping his eyes straight ahead of him until he reached the kitchen. Galen was sitting at the table sipping a cup of tea and reading the morning news as it flashed across the table surface. He looked up and saw Cadmus standing there.

“Would you like a cup tea?” he asked.

“Yes, that would be nice.”

“Would you like some fruit with that? It is fresh from our garden and will just take a moment to prepare.”

“I’d like that as well, thank you.”

Cadmus ate and sipped his tea while Galen continued reading the news.

Lonesome came into the kitchen, walked over to his food bowl, and began nibbling at it. Then he licked at the water bowl.

When Cadmus had finished his tea and fruit, Galen asked him whether he felt up for a walk with Lonesome and him. He said yes, he’d enjoy that.

They walked down the path to where the steps led down the valley into the fields. The sky above them was dark blue almost to the point of being violet. The sun was warm but the air was cool and refreshing in the shade of the orchard they were walking through.

Galen broke the silence. “Don’t feel so guilty about that dream you had last night. We don’t have doors in any of the rooms and we’re not very modest when we are at home. Remi is beautiful, isn’t she?”

“How do you know what I dreamt?” Cadmus asked. His knees began to shake. “Do you know my thoughts?”

“As a matter of fact, yes,” he laughed. “How do you think we’ve been communicating together? We project our thoughts into your mind and you think of how you want to respond and speak. We sense all they ways you think of responding and hear what you decide to say.”

“I feel so embarrassed about what I dreamt of Remi.”

“You can’t direct your thoughts any more than you might put a rope around the wind. Your mind will think whatever is possible for you to think. Consciousness is quantum after all. It’s what you do about your thoughts that is important.”

Lonesome sniffed a bush beside the path and lifted his hind leg to release his water.

“Remi reminded me of my wife, Kaly, I guess.”

“I know.”

from Out of Time

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

Leave a comment

Filed under Prose, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Stories and Novels, Uncategorized