Tag Archives: Lonesome

Out of Time

Just a heads-up here. I’m starting on the third and final part of my fourth science fiction novel in the Rational Series. It’s called “Out of Time”. If you like sci-fi, especially from an author who does his homework, I think you’ll really like this one.

Like my other books, you can read the book “over my shoulders” while I’m working on it but, once I finish and publish it, all you’ll see are the links to purchase the book.

So take a look, over my shoulder, and let me know what you think of it. Just click the following link: Out of Time.

Mike Stone

Raanana, Israel

 

 

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Chapter 19: Journey to the Center of the Universe

Cadmus woke up twice during his first sleeping period. Lonesome raised an eyebrow but otherwise continued snoring away. He sat up in his hammock, swung his legs over the side, and slipped down onto the floor careful not to step on his sleeping dagu.

He opened his hand against the smooth wall to orient himself and followed the ambient lighting to the personal service room. He entered and slid the door shut behind him.

The first time he tried to pass water he relaxed his bladder in one dimension but the water squirted out in another dimension. Fortunately, the inside of his suit dried almost instantaneously,

The second time he tried to pass water, a couple hours later, he couldn’t figure out which dimension his bladder was in to relax and had to wait a few minutes before his bladder, his stream of water, and the toilet were dimensionally in synch.

He made his way back to his hammock somewhat proud of himself and fell back asleep.

The next waking period, after the lights made their presence felt through his eyelids and his dreams, and the smells of spiced tea wafted into the room, Cadmus looked over at Galen’s hammock and saw it was empty. Lonesome was not under his hammock either. He got out of his hammock and hobbled stiff-leggedly over to the shower room, took off his suit and googles, put them in the bin, and stepped into the shower stall.

After refreshing himself in the shower, he dried himself off, opened the bin, and found his suit and goggles good and fresh. He suited up and donned his goggles, and followed his nose to the kitchenette where Galen was putting breakfast on the table. Lonesome was eating his kibble in a bowl with gusto.

Sleeping period followed waking period, which followed sleeping period, so on and so forth until it became a routine of sorts that belied the danger and the desperation of their adventure, three insignificant microbes rushing to the defense of a dying universe.

After a while Cadmus became so proficient in the use of his suit and goggles that he became totally unaware of them. He was able to run through the halls effortlessly jinxing one way into one dimension and another way into another dimension, moving in ways he could not have imagined before. Lonesome followed along on his jogs around the ship anticipating his friend’s moves.

Galen was pleased that Cadmus was now his physical equal, and his sensory and motor skills were on a par with his own. The way Cadmus processed his sensations was the same as always though, and that also pleased Galen.

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Chapter 17: I Can See

Cadmus didn’t really understand what Galen had in mind for Lonesome but, since he never went anywhere without his dagu, he felt no need or inclination to ask.

“I really don’t see how we could be of any assistance to you,” Cadmus said to Galen. “I really don’t.”

Galen answered him matter-of-factly, “I don’t know why you finally agreed to come with me, although I’ll know as soon as you think of it, but I see across the three dimensions of time all the way to the event horizon and you and Lonesome join me in this journey.”

“You see me in the future?”

“You might say that.”

“I might not say it either,” Cadmus answered. He thought the future was the set of all things that hadn’t happened yet or maybe the set of all things that might happen.

“Time is just another set of coordinates in one or more dimensions, past, present, and future. The coordinates of time may be seen as easily as the coordinates of space if you have eyes in those dimensions. We are just a bunch of meandering vectors through volumes of space-time with beginnings and ends, and continuum in between.”

“That’s the way you see us?”

“Yes. Does that bother you?”

“Well, yes. So you see Lonesome and me meandering off with you?”

“Yes. That’s what I see.”

“So what happens to us? Do we survive? Do we beat the Frats?”

“I don’t know.”

“What? What do you mean you don’t know? I thought you said you could see into the future.”

“I can only see up to the event horizon. What happens to us beyond that is farther than I can see.”

“Farther than you can see?”

“Sight is linear but time is curved. None of us can see beyond the curves of time or space.”

“I wonder whether the Frats can see beyond the curves of time or space,” Cadmus said pessimistically.

“Yes, that is the question,” Galen agreed.

“So much for the element of surprise,” Cadmus offered hopelessly.

“We would not be able to surprise them, but you might.”

“When do we leave?”

“We already have.”

“Do you mean that I agreed to go?”

“Yes.”

“Why did I agree?”

“Because you realized that the element of surprise confers a ten percent advantage for a short window of opportunity. Actually it’s only a five percent advantage.”

“Are you parked at the terminal? Shall I call us a shuttle?”

“No need. Just call Lonesome to come to you.”

Cadmus whistled through cupped hands. Lonesome came loping, ears flopping counter to his paws pulling down the hill.

“What now?”

“Can you lift up Lonesome and hold him in your arms?”

“Yes, at least I think I can.”

“Do it.”

Cadmus bent down, put one arm under the dagu’s belly while his other arm wrapped around the dagu’s flank, and tried to straighten up under Lonesome’s weight. Cadmus started to lose his balance.

Galen scooped them both up into his strong cobalt blue arms. “Close your eyes a moment,” he told a very surprised Cadmus who felt himself being flipped over. His arms thrust out instinctively trying to protect himself from the fall and Lonesome jumped out of his arms, pushing sharply against his chest, but when he opened his eyes, what Cadmus saw didn’t look anything like his island in the middle of the lake.

“Where are we?” Cadmus asked, “and what is that?”

“We’re still on your island but I had to flip you and your dagu bodily into a volume where my portal is,” Galen explained. “That structure over there is the portal.”

Galen led Cadmus over to the portal door while Lonesome tagged along behind sniffing the ground furiously. He put his hand on the door and it shimmered away. They walked through it into a large octagonal room.

The portal door shimmered closed and disappeared into the curved wall. The large windows on one side of the room were filled with strange constellations of stars Cadmus had never seen before. Through the windows on the other side, he saw a huge irregular structure where their sun, 763, should have been. It throbbed like a beating heart in shades of ultraviolet.

“What you’re looking at through that window is a Dyson hypersphere. We use it to power our portals and terminals in this solar system, and to conserve stellar fusion.”

After some time Cadmus turned away from the windows and began looking around the octagonal room they were in. “Why is the room so empty,” he asked his host.

“It’s not. You’ll see later. Anyway it’s time to get you and Lonesome suited up.”

“Suited up?”

“Yes. You first. Walk over to that scanner in the corner and remove your clothing.”

“Everything? My socks and underwear too?”

“Yes, everything.”

Cadmus did as he was told. After he had undressed the scanner powered on and moved around him slowly projecting a blue light against his skin. When it finished whatever it was doing to him, it produced a shiny blue suit through one of its orifices.

“Please put this on,” Galen said. “It is a robotic exoskeleton programmed to allow you free movement through all eleven dimensions. You’ll be able to command it verbally or, eventually, by your thoughts. It is also designed to protect you from harm.”

“Thank you,” Cadmus said looking admiringly at his arms and legs. One of the walls opposite him turned into a mirror and he admired himself fully in it. “But how can I move through the upper dimensions if I can’t see where I’m going?”

“That’s what these are for,” Galen smiled and tossed some goggles over to Cadmus.

Somehow Cadmus managed to catch the goggles in his gloved hand.

“Those are all-dimensional,” Galen explained. “They allow you to perceive all dimensions but, since your brain can’t represent more than a three-dimensional volume, they project the upper-dimensional structures into a three-dimensional representation. It’s like shining a light through a three-dimensional wire sculpture onto a two-dimensional wall.”

Cadmus put the goggles on his head and over his eyes. At first he couldn’t see anything. Then it powered on. What he saw made him nearly lose his balance and fall. He saw a room full of structures he never could have imagined before. They were positioned at impossible angles that made him queasy to look at. His hands shot out against something, anything, to steady himself to keep upright, whatever that was anymore. He removed the goggles from his head and the room became empty and familiar again.

“You’ll have to get used to them,” Galen said kindly. “After a week or so, it’ll become second nature. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea for you to move around in the suit until you get used to the goggles.”

Cadmus looked around the empty room and saw a reclining chair by one of the windows. He couldn’t move. Then he remembered what Galen had said about the suit. He told the suit to walk over to the chair by the window. Halfway there he was able to walk just by thinking about it.

Just like moving around in my body, he thought.

He sat down tentatively in the chair and put on the goggles again. The things he saw went crazy again. He watched Galen walk over to one of the consoles and press some buttons. He looked over at Lonesome, who was looking up at him from a strange angle. He was panting and sniffing the air, but he was smiling. Galen came over to the dagu and asked him whether he was hungry. Lonesome looked up at him. Galen poured some kibble into a bowl in the corner by the scanner. While the dagu was eating, Galen powered on the scanner. Lonesome didn’t seem to pay attention to the scanner moving around him or to the blue light. After the scanner and Lonesome had finished what they were doing, the scanner spit out another suit, this one for Lonesome.

Galen wrapped the two pieces around Lonesome and zipped them together. Lonesome didn’t like the idea of his suit at first and wasn’t very cooperative, but soon he forgot about it and loped over to Cadmus, lying down by his reclining chair.

Galen walked over towards them and stooped down to slip the goggles over Lonesome’s head and eyes. The dagu raised his head and looked around, sniffing.

Cadmus watched Lonesome get up awkwardly, almost falling, and walk uncertainly over to the console and sniff around it. He remembered he hadn’t seen it before putting on his goggles.

He looked up at Galen, who was standing over him and smiling.

“I can see,” Cadmus said softly, “but I’m not sure I understand what I see.”

“Time,” Galen answered, “give yourself time.”

from Out of Time

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Chapter 16: The Third Species

Cadmus was silent for a while. He looked up the hill instinctively and saw the cabin dark against the night sky. 4 should be coming up in the north soon and make everything a ghostly pale color. Galen was nearly invisible against the night even though they were standing close to each other.

“Your story has given me an appetite,” Cadmus said. “I had just gotten home when you called and arrived. I don’t know what’s in the pantry that’s edible, but why don’t I check and cook us up something to eat?”

“Sounds good to me,” Galen answered.

As they walked up the hill Draco.763.4 was just starting to come up over the craggy mountains to the north casting a bluish white light on the roof of the solitary cabin. There was a dark pile of something on the porch. Cadmus rebuked himself for not thinking to turn on the porchlight when they left.

The pile turned out to be Lonesome on the porch waiting for them to come home. Cadmus stepped carefully around the dagu, opened the front door, and felt around for a light switch in the darkness. Galen sat down beside Lonesome and looked up at the planet rise as it began to fill the night sky.

Cadmus found some powdered eggs that didn’t smell too bad. He also found some powdered soup. He couldn’t read the label on the can and hoped it wouldn’t make them sick. He poured some kibble into one bowl and water into another bowl for Lonesome.

After some time Cadmus came out to the porch carrying a tray with two plates of scrambled eggs, two cups of soup, napkins, and forks. He set the tray down beside Galen and sat down on the other side of the tray.

They ate silently, looking up from time to time at the lovely but lethal planet that seemed close enough to reach up and touch. This thought passed through both their minds, not because Galen shared Cadmus’ way of thinking about things but because all Cadmus’ thoughts passed through Galen’s mind like a nebula near a black hole.

“I would imagine you have discussed these findings and conjectures with your peers,” Cadmus continued their thread.

“Yes, of course.”

“So what did your peers conclude?”

“Our peers concluded that our enemy may be more than we are capable of dealing with.”

“Why? There are a lot of you. If you put your minds together, you should be able to come up with a strategy to defeat these creatures.”

“We know our limitations.”

“You have limitations?”

“Yes.”

“What for instance?”

“We are rational to a fault.”

“What could be the fault of rationality?”

“That it is based on the non-rational.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Rationality is the most economical, straight-forward, simplest, ethical, and aesthetical form of thought. If you want to assert something, however, that is neither totally trivial nor self-evident, you’re going to need a set of axioms underpinning your rational system of thought. Axioms are assertions that can’t be proven or questioned. Axioms are non-rational.”

“Can you speak a little more concretely so that I may follow you?”

“Imagine a rational system of thought is an edifice, a tall and vast structure, and its axioms are the ground on which the edifice stands.”

“Alright. I can see that.”

“If someone attacks an axiom upon which your rational system rests, the entire structure will collapse.”

“And you think our universe is rational and in danger of collapsing from an attack on its axioms?”

“No,” Galen said. “The universe and its physical substrata are under attack, and our ability to defend them from attack may be subverted by an attack on our axioms.”

“I see,” Cadmus said. But did he? It was all so confusing to him. Images were flying around his brain in circles. He began to feel queasy. Why had Galen come all this way to tell him these things? What could Cadmus possibly do about it? After all he was blind in all but three dimensions. Why him?

“Because you are irrational,” Galen said. “You would not be vulnerable to an attack which could incapacitate us. If we train you what to do, you could do it without thinking. We need you to come with us.”

“A two-species defense against a superior species?” Cadmus asked.

“No,” Galen answered, “a three-species defense.”

“Who is the third species?”

Galen reached over to scratch Lonesome between his ears and the dagu leaned into his hand.

from Out of Time

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

 

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Chapter 14: Galen

“Hi Galen, it’s me, Cadmus. I hear your voice but what the hell is this thing in my hand?”

“It’s an STU. I sent it to you through the q-foam. It has a Q-bit Entanglement Box embedded in it so we can speak across dimensions.”

“I have no idea what you are talking about. Where are you? How’s Remi?”

“We are at home where you left us two hundred and seventy days ago. We’re ok in this timeframe but I need to talk to you.”

“To me?”

“Yes.”

“Do you want me to come back to you? I just got home.”

“No, you would take too long to get here. I’ll come to you.”

“Really? That would be great! When do you think you’d be able to come?”

“Now.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes.” Galen’s voice came from behind. Cadmus turned suddenly and saw Galen sitting on his chair by the door.

“How long have you been sitting in that chair Galen?”

“I just arrived a few seconds ago.”

“How did you come so quickly?”

“In hyperspace we’re nearly next door neighbors.”

“Can I get you something?”

“A cup of coffee would be nice.”

Cadmus walked into his three-dimensional kitchen and rummaged around his cabinets looking for an unopened can of coffee and some cups while Lonesome nosed Galen’s knee and allowed himself to be petted.

He put water in the kettle and turned on the magnetic loop. The water boiled into a whistle, dying down as he poured the steaming water into the coffee grounds in each cup.

Cadmus brought the cups into the living room, handed one to Galen, who was standing looking at the pictures of Kaly on the wall.

“That’s my wife, Kaly, when just after we married. As you can see, we were very young then.”

“She is beautiful.”

“This is Kaly when we vacationed at Lake Reflection in Sector 12. We were celebrating our first anniversary. Here she is just before we went to a concert. They were playing Forlorn Fugue that night. Here she is when Lonesome was a pup. We had just found him and she asked whether we could keep him.”

Lonesome’s right ear perked and he sniffed in the direction of the picture Cadmus had pointed.

“She is a lovely woman.”

“This is a picture of Kaly a few months before she … died. She wouldn’t let me take any more pictures of her like that.”

“Like what?”

“She thought she wasn’t very attractive when she was dying. She was to me but she didn’t feel that way to herself. I told her the camera only photographed her outside herself and she was still beautiful on the outside. I don’t feel very beautiful inside, she had said. But you are, I told her. The camera can’t see that, but I can. Anyway she told me I was going blind and I should get my eyes checked. That and I wasn’t to photograph her anymore.”

“You must have loved her very much.”

They finished their coffee and both put the empty cups on the side table.

“Yes. Please don’t misunderstand me Galen. I’m really glad to see you. You and Remi saved my life and nursed me back to health; however, I’m most curious what couldn’t wait another two hundred and seventy days or so to talk about?”

“Let’s go for a walk. I’d love to see your beautiful island.”

from Out of Time

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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Part 2 Chapter 13: Arrival

Part 2: The Rat Warning

Who weeps for Cadmus?


 

Chapter 13: Arrival

Cadmus pulled into his usual port on the humble Terminal of Draco.763.4. After sweeping the floors of their living quarters, collecting the trash and garbage, and gathering up his personal things into his old 3D backpack, he looked around the cabin to make sure he hadn’t missed anything. He picked up the picture of Kaly from the ledge of the picture window and put it lovingly into his backpack so that it wouldn’t be scratched or crushed.

Lonesome bounded off to the elimination room and after a few moments raced ahead of Cadmus to the portal door.

Cadmus set the systems to power down in five minutes. He looked around the cabin one more time and opened the portal door. The dagu jumped through the door followed by his good friend.

4 Terminal was not nearly as big as 3 and there was not nearly as much passenger traffic. The signs displayed only Standard and the avatars on the screens were friendly looking Sapiens. He knew the way to Entry Control. There was no central hub in this terminal so he just had to walk along the outer rim and would eventually run into it.

When he got to Entry Control he found an available screen. The avatar who appeared on the screen looked familiar. “Hello Cadmus,” the avatar said. “How was your trip?”

“Fine,” Cadmus answered.

“Will you be returning your ship to us now?”

“Yes thank you.”

“Will you need a shuttle down to 4g?”

“Yes, for my dagu and me.”

“You’ll be leaving from Gate 29 in one hour.”

“Don’t you need to scan my dagu and me?”

“No, that won’t be necessary. We’ve seen you around.”

Cadmus and Lonesome arrived at Gate 29 well before the shuttle. When it finally arrived after some delays (there had been a snow storm in one of the sectors), they stood in line and filed aboard. The shuttle was half empty so Cadmus found a seat half way between two people with the largest space between them. His dagu preferred to lay down at his feet. Cadmus hoped the flight attendant wouldn’t make a fuss about that.

There was an announcement that the portal door would be shut and people should take their seats. The attendant demonstrated some of the safety procedures in case we miss the flight window and skip off the atmosphere into space or come in at too sharp an angle and burn up in the atmosphere.

The door was shut and the shuttle detached from the terminal, drifting away from the portal slowly. The retros fired briefly and turned off. The shuttle glided all the way into orbital insertion around 4g.

When the shuttle finally entered the upper layer of atmosphere it began to vibrate and shake. When it hit the middle layers it suddenly plummeted, soared up, and plummeted again.

The shuttle ignited the retros solidly when they entered the lower layers and arrived safe and sound at their first destination. A few passengers filed out of the shuttle.

The shuttle lifted off and flew to another sector and another sector, at each destination more passengers filed off, until only Cadmus and Lonesome were left.

Finally, the shuttle landed in an open field near an intersection of two long and narrow roads. Cadmus thanked the flight attendant and stepped gingerly out of the cabin onto the grassy meadow, with Lonesome jumping out after him. They walked quickly off the landing pad toward the road.

The shuttle thrusters rumbled rising slowly into the air. He followed it with his hand shading his eyes like a salute. Soon it was lost in the clouds and the rumbling was replaced by silence.

They stood by the side of the road waiting for someone to stop and give them a ride home. Finally an old truck pulled off the road near them. The farmer asked Cadmus where they were heading.

“Up the road by the lake.”

“Hop in. Your dagu can ride in the open bed in back.”

“If you don’t mind, I’ll ride in back with him. He wouldn’t climb in otherwise.”

“Suit yourself.”

Cadmus pulled down the door flat against the chains and Lonesome jumped up onto the flat door into the bed. Cadmus climbed up into the bed and pulled shut the door. The truck started to move forward. The farmer stopped at the stop sign, looked both ways twice, and the truck continued up the road toward the mountains.

When they reached the large lake, Cadmus tapped the rear window of the driver’s cabin and mouthed the word “stop”.

The farmer slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road. Cadmus and Lonesome jumped down. He waved at the farmer’s face in the side mirror. The farmer’s mouth twitched slightly and the truck moved on.

They walked through the field to the edge of the lake and over to a ram-shackle pier, careful to avoid the missing planks. He looked over the edge and found his faithful row boat tied to one of the pile logs. They walked carefully down the stairs to the platform and climbed into the boat. He loosened the thick knots and pulled the rope free of the pile.

He let the boat drift away from the pier and mounted the oars. He dipped the tips of the oars into the lapping lake water and started to row toward the small island in the center of the lake.

When Cadmus reached the island he ran the boat onto the grassy shore. It was late afternoon by now. Lonesome jumped out of the boat onto the grass. He pushed an oar into the mud until the side of the boat was flush with the shore and stepped out onto the lush grasses. Lonesome ran up the hill to the porch that ran around the log cabin. Cadmus followed his dagu to the door of the cabin. He pulled a key out of the planter near the door and opened the door with it.

He opened the window shutters to let in some light and air. The air inside the cabin was stale and dusty but, otherwise, everything was pretty much as he had left it.

He rinsed out Lonesome’s dusty water bowl and pored a helping of kibble into his food bowl.

He took the picture of Kaly out of his backpack and set it, just so, on the window sill.

That was when he heard a strange bleeping noise coming from his backpack. He rummaged through the pack until he lifted out a strange looking device that seemed to be making that unfamiliar noise. There was a round button flashing green on and off.

He pressed the green flashing button and lifted the device to his ear.

“Hello?” he said into the thing.

He heard a vaguely familiar voice come from deep inside the thing in his hand. “Hello, is that Cadmus? Cadmus? It’s me, Galen. Please say something!”

from Out of Time

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

 

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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

 

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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

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Chapter 9: Path to Recovery

Time, rather the illusion of it, lapped at the shores of higher order space, coming tantalizingly close but never quite crossing the threshold. There were no clocks on the walls of his room. Cadmus had forgotten to buy a hyper-dimensional watch at the store where he bought his new clothes and backpack on the orbiting terminal above 3. He was probably still wearing his old 3-D watch but he couldn’t see it or feel it. Time passed or it didn’t pass. He had no way of knowing for sure.

Lonesome seemed to get along just fine with Galen. He took the dagu with him on long walks. Remi put his favorite synthetic meat in a bowl for him to eat every day. They also brought Cadmus his meals and tea when he was strong enough to sit up in bed.

One day the morning sunlight warmed his eyelids and when he opened them he felt strong enough to try getting up without calling for help. He sat up, swung his legs slowly over the side of his bed onto the cool glass floor. He stood up and managed to lock his knees against the wobbliness. He took a few steps toward the doorway, his arms held out at his sides trying to keep his balance. Negotiating the doorway, he turned left and walked slowly down the hallway with his hand sliding along the glass wall. He came to another open doorway and glanced in.

Remi was standing in front of a mirror brushing her long thick blue hair, her naked body wet. Cadmus snapped his eyes around in front of him and continued walking forward, the wobbliness in his knees nearly uncontrollable. He had seen her back and front, and she just kept on brushing her hair. He almost fainted.

He reached another open doorway and saw that it opened onto a kitchen. Cadmus sat down at the table and looked around him. There was no clock in this room either.

Remi walked into the kitchen dressed in her usual one-piece suit, her hair tied in a simple knot from which the rest of it flowed loosely down her back.

There was no way in God’s galaxy that she had not seen him looking at her when he had passed her bedroom in the hallway and yet she behaved as though nothing had happened. “Would you care for some tea?” she asked.

“Yes please,” he said. He watched her run the water into a kettle, place the kettle on a metal square until it began to whistle. Then she spooned some tea leaves from a jar into two glass cups and poured the steaming water into the cups, turning the water brownish green and dissolving the leaves. Cadmus made a mental note on how to make oneself tea in this dimension for future reference. It seemed so quaint but the tea tasted good. She sipped her tea too.

“May I ask you a question?” he broke the silence after a while.

“Certainly,” she answered looking into his eyes.

“How do you know enough about my anatomy to operate on me?”

“We are not so different, you and I. We have the same anatomy as you, except that our skin and hair are blue and we lack amygdalae.”

“I guess you know more about my anatomy than I do. What are my amygdalae for?”

“They are connected to your sensory systems, provide your basic emotional responses, and aggregate and index your long-term memories.”

“Do we need them?”

“Apparently you do.”

“How do you get along without them?”

“Our sensory systems connect directly to our prefrontal cortex, which aggregates and indexes our long- and short-term memories. We have emotions too, but they are processed in our prefrontal cortex.”

“Is that what makes you so smart?”

“I don’t think it makes us smarter than you but it does make us more rational, our motor responses are thirty percent faster than yours, and we are able to see things you can’t see.”

“Like higher order dimensions?”

“Yes, like those.”

“Why is that?”

“Preconceived structures in your brains prevent you from seeing all there is.”

There was a soft swishing sound from the hallway and Lonesome came bounding into the kitchen. He nuzzled Cadmus affectionately and stood up to him with his front paws on his shoulders. Galen walked into the kitchen a few moments later, saying “I’m glad to see you up and about.”

Cadmus swallowed his guilt about seeing Remi naked and asked Galen, “Where did you and Lonesome go?”

“Lonesome led the way. You’ll have to ask him. Anyway you’re welcome to join us whenever you’re up to it.”

Galen ran some water into the kettle, made himself a cup of tea, and sat down at the table with Remi and Cadmus while Lonesome lay at his companion’s feet.

from Out of Time

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

 

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Chapter 8: A Stitch in Time

Cadmus opened his right eye just a slit. He saw a tall blue woman bending over him. A slice of sharp pain slashed through his chest and stomach. He winced and lost consciousness.

Sometime later, he couldn’t tell how long, he heard a detached voice asking someone, “how do you feel?”

He opened his right eye and then his left. The young Rational couple he had seen at the park was standing near him. He hadn’t realized before how tall they were.

“Where’s … Lonesome?” he asked with obvious concern.

“If you mean the dagu,” the blue man answered, “he’s right here beside your bed.”

Cadmus tried to move his head to the right to see for himself but the pain in his neck was intense. He inched his right hand toward the side of his bed and felt Lonesome’s cool damp nose and warm breath nuzzle his hand.

The words came to him slowly, as if from a great distance. “What … happened … to … me?” he asked.

They looked at each other and the woman softly explained, “You entered a place you shouldn’t have entered, failed to see the hyper-bridge, and fell down a worm hole.”

“We have so many of these holes around here and I’ve told the others we should put doors over them or plug them up,” the young man interrupted. “This one isn’t good for much besides providing a local gravitational lens vector to view the surface of the planet 3 below.”

“Galen,” she stopped her partner, “he is not concerned about that. Turning back to Cadmus she continued, “and you died.”

Cadmus turned pale and stuttered, “Do … you … mean I’m dead?”

“No,” she corrected him, “I said you died. Nothing is forever and nothing is immutable. Death is just another state that organic molecules can transition to or from at the cellular level.”

“I … don’t understand,” Cadmus began to find his voice.

She went on, “Galen and I picked you up from where you fell and carried you back to our cave, as it was closer than the hospital …”

Galen interrupted again, “… and, besides that, Remi here is just as good as any of our hospital doctors.”

Remi went on modestly, “it’s a simple enough procedure. Everything natural in the universe exists symmetrically in all dimensions, the ones you know about and can sense as well as all the higher dimensions. Only Sapien-made things are three dimensional because you can’t make what you don’t know, but your natural Sapien bodies are all-dimensional.”

“I still don’t follow you,” Cadmus confessed. “I don’t know much about this higher dimensional stuff. Most of us just know how to use the hyper-space vectors that you and the robots created. None of us have the technology to build this.”

Remi said, “The fact is you were in pretty bad shape when we found you. We had to take you home, reprint some of your internal organs, get your cells to stop dying off and start living again, and insert a codec or two and a few transducers … oh, yes, and stitch up the rupture in your local temporal dimensions.”

“I thought of it,” Galen said proudly.

“Sounds really simple,” Cadmus said somewhat sarcastically.

Remi smiled at Cadmus. “I was joking about stitching up your time. There’s no such thing as time. So how do you feel?” she asked once more.

“Like I fell off a cliff,” he smiled back. “I guess Lonesome and I will pay better attention to the signs from now on. What about the hotel?” he asked.

Galen answered, “We called them, told them what had happened, and that you would be staying with us until you felt better, Cadmus.”

“Would you prefer us to take you to a hospital?” Remi asked. “You and your dagu are welcome to stay with us until you recover.”

Cadmus wasn’t really sure what he should do under the circumstances. Should he politely refuse them? On the other hand, it might be an interesting experience in his otherwise inconsequential life. “If it’s really not too much trouble,” he tried to remember to smile, “I’d prefer to stay with you here until I can get back on my feet and get around a little.”

from Out of Time

Mike Stone

Raanana Israel

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