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Short Science-Fiction Stories by Doug Yurchey

All Stories are Copyright 2002-2012 by Doug Yurchey and www.world-mysteries.com


TALKING TO A SEA-MONKEY
by Doug Yurchey



I walked into class with the strangest feeling. Something was not right with the world.
I can only describe the sensation as a tingling all over my body.
It was as if I was being pulled away; and, at any moment, I could dissolve into nothingness.
It was very strange.
I sat down in my seat and did the usual routine of secretly desiring Debbie…
ignoring the pre-class antics of Mike and hiding the fact that I was chewing gum.
Mr. Lennox did not allow gum in his Philosophy classroom. Debbie was hot.
Mike pissed me off. I looked forward to today’s session because it was my turn to tell everyone about my most recent dream.
As I settled in, my thoughts were: How could I publicly speak with this overwhelming feeling of doom? I got rid of the gum.
'David?' Mr. Lennox asked. 'Are you alright?'
My college mates turned toward me as I tried to create a normal face.
'Huh? Oh, yes. Sure.'
'We ended last time with you about to describe your dream.'
I cleared my throat. The sensation that I was fading fast was getting stronger.
What the hell was it? Why do I suddenly feel different? I fought the urge and started to speak. 'Well, I‘Well, ‘Well, I forgot most of it.'
Mr. Lennox assured me with, ‘do the best you can. Make it short and sweet.'
'It was about God...' That got everyone’s attention. 'I dreamt that God was an old man who worked in a lab and punched in and out everyday.'
Mike jumped in and sang, 'what if God was one of us? Just a....'
The teacher frowned; the class laughed, then I continued. 'OK. God whipped up the whole universe in a test-tube.' I heard a few girls react. 'Yeah, that's when...ah.......that's when...he turned off the lights in the lab and went home for the night. Like...like.........he...he didn't even care....like.......'
Something so intense hit me full force! The tingling took me away. I was gone. I could just imagine their faces seeing me disappear…

For a second, there was blackness. Was this death? Am I dead now? There must be more to death than this? Then, it was as if someone turned powerful lights ON.

I opened my eyes and squinted. I was on a table in a super-room that had some kind of bizarre lighting. I sat up and saw two small, young creatures close to the table. I could tell that one was female and one was male. They were BLUE with larger than normal heads and no mouths. They were beautiful. Their large eyes contained a look of pure surprise.

YOU DID IT, SHILL. INCREDIBLE. The alien, blue girl pointed to a button on a hand-held device with one of her four fingers.

I heard an electric spark as I seemed to decompress or normalize with the new environment.
YES. IT WORKED. THIS IS A FIRST.

The little girl appeared to be smiling, which was hard to tell with her having no mouth.

I said, ‘what’s going on? Hey, you’re speaking without moving your…your…you know.’ Of course, no-mouth creatures would be psychic. I could hear them as clear as a bell and understood. I looked around and saw the interior of a bright, sleek, white mega-construction. There were far away corridors with mega-equipment that I could not comprehend. There were vast windows into other fantastic areas, but no life forms other than the two aliens.

The girl-creature thought to me and I heard, ARE YOU ALRIGHT?

‘Yes.’ I touched myself to see if I was all here. ‘I feel amazing. Wonderful.’ I leaped off of the table and scared them with the action. They backed away.

I smiled and calmed down. As my feet hit the hard floor, I realized I was twice their size. ‘It’s alright. No, I wouldn’t hurt you. Where am I? What is this place?’

The boy-creature communicated, THIS IS WHERE WE ATTEND SCHOOL. SCIENCE ACADEMY…

The blue girl finished his thought, OF PHILOSOPHIC THOUGHT.

‘Huh,’ I exhaled with fascination. I was just in Philosophy class myself. ‘Oh, my name is Dave, David…’
DAVEDAVID?

‘Just David.’ I laughed.

I AM SHILL6135452.

I AM BU2215464.

‘And…I mean…what is this world?’

They looked at each other. She suggested, WE CAN SHOW YOU OUTSIDE?
‘Please do.’ I attempted to search for an exit. It seemed as if it would take forever to leave the superstructure. I was puzzled. Was a jet-car coming to pick us up?

NO JET-CARS.

I have to watch my thoughts, I thought.

THIS WAY. She slightly waved her four-fingered hand and BOOM! We were outside. Reality changed like switching hologram programs on Star Trek’s holodeck. We were now on what appeared to be a golden, mountain peak. There was a cool wind that was phenomenal. The surrounding shapes were geometric as if I was a speck on a huge cluster of clear pyrite crystals.

‘My God.’ I was getting dizzy because of the extraordinary view. I looked down. We were miles high and I had a sense of vertigo. The spinning stopped. Then, I was aware of great peace. I felt the light all around us. Something emanated through the air. It was nice. I smiled and said, ‘that's from your sun?'

NO. WE HAVE NO SUN. ONLY THE RAYS. THE WORLD IS NOTHING LIKE YOUR UNIVERSE.

‘I see…I think.’

THE RAYS ARE OUR SOURCE OF ENERGY…THROUGH THE CRYSTALS. THIS IS HOW WE ARE NOURISHED, they both broadcasted.

‘So, you don’t…eat? What am I saying? How could you?’ Then, the thought struck me, there's no food for me?

SHILL asked, ARE YOU HUNGRY?

‘No.’ I wasn’t in the least bit hungry.

YOU WILL ALWAYS BE ENERGIZED.

‘Really?’ Great, I hated sleep was my first thought. Then, I wondered, ‘and, this is because?’
THE RAYS. THEY GO ON FOREVER.

‘Of course. Wow.’ Again, I took in the incredible view; such color, such majesty. These schoolchildren were GODS. They didn't even respond to that adjective. They just did their thing in a new world of tremendous beauty and immensity. What a freakin' view from up here! There was a tear leaking from my right eye. I wiped it away. This was too much for me. George Lucas could not imagine something like this.

GEORGE WHO?

‘Oh, you don’t know’m?’ I asked quickly.

The cute, blue aliens shook their large heads in a sincere NO as I smiled. They didn’t get the joke. I was curious. ‘What do you know of my world?’

The boy called BU stated proudly, IN YOUR GALAXY, THERE ARE CURRENTLY 7,102,332,459 RELATIVELY HIGH-INTELLIGENT CIVILIZATIONS ON 10 LEVELS OR DIMENSIONS. VERY SOON, THERE WILL BE ONE MORE…LIFE IS GROWING.

I was in awe. I hated to stop this cold computer of a child, but I interrupted with, ‘no, no…I mean Earth, my planet, my people. What do you know of humans, you know?’

SHILL and BU were blue blanks. They knew not of Americans, Russians, Chinese, Japanese, Africans, Europeans and other Earthlings.

‘If I asked you big questions like what’s going to happen in the 21st Century?’

WE WOULD NOT KNOW, SHILL admitted. WITH OUR VIEWSCOPES, CLOSEST WE CAN ACTUALLY SEE IS…PLANETS AND MOONS FROM A DISTANCE.

BU thought, WE CAN SCAN FOR LIVING ORGANISMS, BUT…TO PREDICT SOCIAL EVENTS WITHIN YOUR…VILLAGES? He was unsure of that last thought and looked at SHILL. WE CERTAINLY DO NOT KNOW. WE STUDY THE BIG PICTURE; SOLARSYSTIC DESTRUCTIONS AND BIRTHS. WE DO NOT INTERFERE OR INTERACT WITH MICROBES THAT FORM ALONG THE STRUCTURE.

‘Oh, OK,’ I said feeling sheer pleasure, even being called a ‘microbe.’ I exhaled a delicious breath of prana-filled air. Then, I got a little bold. I checked out the distant bottom as I carefully neared the edge and observed over it. Wow, was my only thought. I viewed pockets of white cloudy/matrix inside the clear, gold, crystal towers. I pointed down. ‘Were we inside one of those buildings?’

YES, DAVID.

‘Who are you people?’

The royal blue children with no mouths and large eyes stared at each other a moment. REPHRASE PLEASE.

'Do you have a collective name? I know you're not Klingons.'

WE HAVE NO COLLECTIVE NAME. ONLY INDIVIDUAL DESIGNATIONS.

‘You know my language?’

SHILL answered, WE KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS.

The other one continued, SOME OF THEM ARE UNKNOWN TO US AS I AM CERTAIN SOME OF OUR THOUGHTS ARE UNKNOWN TO YOU.

‘I’m hearing them in English.’

OF COURSE.

I smiled. I had to sit down. I rested on golden, faceted ridges that were perfectly straight. It was softer than I imagined. My head slightly shook from side to side, overwhelmed at the enormity of it all. This was much better than Philosophy Class. 'Am I dreaming? Am I dead?'

YOU WERE...REMOVED. TAKEN FROM YOUR WORLD BY A MACHINE THAT SHILL JUST INVENTED.

‘So, they did see me disappear,' I said to myself.

PREVIOUSLY, WE COULD ONLY VIEW YOUR WORLD...AS WELL AS MANY OTHER EXPERIMENTS.

BU interjected, THIS IS THE FIRST TIME WE HAD THE CAPABILITY TO EXTRACT A LIVING SPECIMEN AND ENLARGE.

YES. YOU ARE MANY, MANY, TRILLIONS OF TIMES LARGER THAN BEFORE THE EXTRACTION.

‘What?’

The pair again gazed at each other. I stood up quickly and nearly lost my balance.

‘Are you saying...er, thinking…to me, that you are giants?’

SUPERGIANTS WOULD BE MORE ACCURATE.

'Can you......really? This is too much for.......alright. What about returning me?'

There was a silence of thought that made me feel uncomfortable. 'You know…am I going to be unabducted? Returned to Earth?'

BU stopped in his little tracks. Apparently, it was not his department so he deferred to his partner. SHILL? He gave her an odd expression.

The girl related to me that that part of the process wasn't exactly worked out, yet. There was a good possibility that a reverse trip may never happen. Blue girl did not sugarcoat the news. This was a one-way trip, folks. I wasn't going home anytime soon.

‘Well…what I've seen of the place, so far, taint bad. Your crystalline planet, or whatever it is, is so beautiful.' I inhaled another breath of delicious air. Then, suddenly, I was worried. ‘What's to become of me? Are you going to experiment on me? Cut me open? Probe me; see what makes me tick?'

NO.

It sounded like they were laughing.

LET US GO BACK TO THE SCHOOL LAB, she directed.

‘Sure.' I was cooperative. (Could I believe them?)

With a wave of a blue arm, we were instantly returned to a very large room of white ultra-equipment. I was almost used to the reality changes by now. We were in a section with rows and rows and rows of tables. On the tables, I assumed were scientific experiments. I moved closer. In front of us stood a long line of spherical containers on a seemingly endless table. They appeared as black, globular fish tanks.
‘What's in the spheres?' I went right up to one of the black, crystal balls. I stopped; frozen in disbelief. 'No way!' My face touched against one of the things on the table. It was cold. 'It's a...it’s a…’

YOURS IS OVER HERE, BU told me. We walked a few steps and passed over a dozen round experiments until we came to a particular one.

I examined it with care and saw an intricate lattice of light within the black ball. At first, I thought it was a colorful snowflake. Now, I realized these were WORLDS; entire universes in the school lab! Like we would dissect a frog, they made Big Bangs! 'These are galactic clusters,’ I whispered in shock and horror.

YES, SHILL thought to me, matter-of-factly.
'My God…you're GOD! And I'm…I’m…brine shrimp!' I yelled to the little, blue creatures.
WE CAN MAGNIFY. SHILL placed four fingers over a console that was connected to this particular experiment. She ignored my 'God' comment and continued working invisible controls. The image inside the sphere kept changing. She displayed a certain part of the snowflake (Big Bang growth), then a particular galaxy, then a star system and all the way down to a specific planet. It was Earth and our Moon.

YOU RECOGNIZE HOME?

‘Yes, c-certainly,' I said in amazement. 'But how....how...long has your race been growing universes?'
BU inquired, IN YOUR YEARS? THE NUMBER IS SO LARGE AS TO HAVE NO MEANING TO YOU.

SHILL thought, WE EXIST IN DRASTICALLY DIFFERENT TIMES…TO DO WITH SIZE-DIFFERENCE.

‘So, you mean...in one of your seconds...'

CIVILIZATIONS RISE AND FALL...IN YOUR WORLD.

I felt the beginning of a huge headache. I was confused. All this information in such a short time; I was on the verge of ‘overload.’ If the gods were children in school, what were their parents like and what have they accomplished? 'Who....who created you?'

After a short moment, they both thought to me, YOU WOULD NOT UNDERSTAND THE ANSWER.

I’ll bet. I got a twinge of vertigo again. My legs buckled and I nearly fell. This was way too much for me to compute. A half hour ago, I was in class fantasizing about Debbie. God wasn't an old man. God was a little blue boy and our entire universe was a science project growing under glass. Like how we artificially grow crystals, they GROW UNIVERSES! I had to say something. 'But....BILLIONS of people pray to you.' I felt about to cry. I looked into SHILL's big eyes. 'You created Life.'

BU stepped forward. THAT WAS I.

‘Huh?'

SHILL explained, I GREW YOUR NATURE; GALACTIC CLUSTERS, GALAXIES, STARS, PLANETS, MOONS. BU ADDED THE ELECTRIC SPARK OF LIFE. HE WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR GROWING VARIETIES OF LIVING CULTURES.

My head pounded like it was going to break. I got angry. 'Responsible?! But, you're NOT responsible!! You don't know what you're doing. We live out lives, struggle to survive! We look to YOU. We seek the Creator and answers to the meaning of Life! And...and...THIS is the answer! This is it!!' I screamed.

BU and SHILL did not understand. The cosmic kids were very puzzled at my emotions. Each stared at me curiously not knowing what to communicate.

‘You have to stop! Don't you two see this is wrong?’ I cried more. I got extremely angry, again.
I slammed my fist on the table not realizing the repercussions. The black, crystal orb that was my universe jumped from its fixture, rolled off the table and fell to the floor. It shattered!

‘Aaaagh!!’ I destroyed our world.

END


DYSONWORLD   
by  Doug Yurchey

 

Chapter One:   The Discovery

       In the 22nd Century, the Confederacy dispatched 33 Starxplorers into unknown regions of space.  The crew of the SX12 was Captain Henry Hughes, his ex-wife Dr. Audry Reece, the captain's hologram science-officer; Mary and the doctor's hologram spiritual-advisor; Jon.  Only the captain and the doctor were real...but that was not quite true either:  They were synthetic-humans who, either purposely or psychologically, have forgotten their artificialness.  They consciously believed that they were real human beings from the planet Earth.  They are about to make a big discovery.

       The SX12 was a crystal-powered ship that never needed refueling since it utilized the Electro-Magnetic energy within the sea of space.  Their mission is to find life, report back to Confederate Command then wait for instructions.  The SX12 was one of the few xplorers not to have found life.  Some of the SXs have found up to 7 solar systems with intelligent life forms.  The crew of two synthes and two holograms have been star-hopping for more than 3 months without a nibble.  At CC, rumors spread that the 'rocky relationship and personal history of Captain Hughes and Dr. Reece' have contributed to their NO LIFE results.  Then, suddenly, it happened:

      'WEEEEEEEAAAALLLLLLLWEEEEEEEAAAALLLLLLLWEEEEEEEAAAALLLLLLL!!!' sounded a life-alarm.  The alarm siren was muted. 

       'Can't believe it,' the doctor said as she sat at the science station on the bridge.  She looked to her ex-husband.

       'It's about damn time,' was his response.  This was like the last place team finally won a game.  The captain looked at his watch. 

       The doctor knew her partner's first thoughts.  She interjected:  'Isn't this the perfect excuse for you to...call up your....honey?'

       Captain Henry recognized the attiitude of the doctor's words and got a bit angry.  'Hey, at least she serves a vital purpose around here.'

       'Huh!' Dr. Reece laughed in disbelief.  'Jon has been vital around here as well,' she said in defense of her hologram.

       'Now, that was funny.'

       The doctor got serious.  'Are we gonna find out what we just hit or stand around arguing all day?'

       The captain relaxed; he knew that a positive life discovery will certainly help his not-so-good reputation among his colleagues.  'Let's get to it.'  The captain was ready to push the little 'activate' button on his watch when the doctor stopped him.

       'Please, Hank!  Won't you let me do the honors of being the first to report this?'

       He stopped his motion and said: 'Oh, ah....sure.  You're right, you should have the...'

       'Because I know what she would do, the bitch, she'd swoop in and take over...with her science skills like some cold robot...'

       'Audry!'  He paused.  'I said that you should do the honors.'

       'Oh,' she smiled.

       The captain walked around behind his blonde ex-wife.  He viewed the screen as the information appeared.  The SX12's scanners found a very small, weak, unstable, pink dwarf star.  The star was the smallest known sun ever discovered!

       Dr. Reece's finger went right to the screen and pointed.  'And there's life going around it.  Intelligent life; they have space travel capability.'

       The captain was equally amazed.  'No, that can't be right.'

       The number of individual life forms was displayed.

       She burst out laughing.

       Captain Hughes' eyes bugged out as the NIL number for individual life forms was still forming.  The number ran completely across the computer screen TWICE!  Then, it terminated 2/3s of the way across a third line.

       The excited captain asked his ex; 'Do you know what this means?!'

       'Yeah, it's a flubbin record.'  The doctor stood up from the chair, had an urge to hug the captain then changed her mind.

       Hughes felt it too but channeled his enthusiasm elsewhere.  He was not going to hug her after all that had happened over the last 3 months.  'No one!  No one has had that high a NIL number.'

       'They found more solar systems...'

       He finished her thought:  'But, we found the greatest population or concentration of life!  Ha, that means we're in first place.'  He had a huge smile on his face and clearly was not thinking straight.

       'Something's not right,' she said to herself above a whisper.

       'What?  Whatnotright?'  The captain came down from his euphoric state.

       The doctor sat back down and asked the computer:  Life spread out over how many planets are we talking about here?  The instant response gave confused readings.

       'What....not....right?'

       'No, no, don't worry, these numbers are right.  But, doesn't something strike you as strange?  It's the smallest known star, yet it has the largest number of inhabtants?'

       'Oh, that.  It didn't occur to me.'  He referred to the scanner screen.  'How many planets in the system?'

       'Ah, ha.....one.'

       'One?'

       'See....one.  But...it must be one, mother-flubbin, huge planet.'

       'Those are still not the usual types of readings.'

       'I know you're dying to call her up...go ahead.  I don't care.  Just as long as I send the report back to CC.  I'll go do that in...and relay updates to my compartment.  I can continue scanning from there.'  Dr. Reece began to leave the bridge.

       'So you can...celebrate with your Guru?'

       'No, so you can be alone with your little playmate.   Hank, you know, they're not real.  I'm talking about her BOOBS.  In fact, none of her is real,' was the last thing she said before she left.         

       The captain was alone and did not hesitate.  He pushed the 'activate' button on his watch.  There was that electric 'pop' that always preceded her.  Mary appeared.  She was a beautiful redhead in a tight, silver jumpsuit.  Her incredible, fake body always excited the captain and made him feel young and alive.

       Mary was immediately aware of the discovery and jumped into action at her science station.  She barely acknowledged the captain.  He leaned down and smelled her hair.     

       'I remember telling you it would happen.  The odds were indeed in our favor,' said the hologram.

       'I missed you.'

       The redhead smiled and asked:  'Orders, captain?'

       Captain Henry came down from the clouds, unsmiled and commanded:  'Take us in.  Get as close as you can to the pink sun.  Do we have a name for the star, yet?'

       'I will check.'  Mary hit a few buttons which displayed a small window of old, Star Catalog names. 'I think this is another first.'

       'Whatchamean?'

       'It's the first time one of your Starxplorers ever reached a personalized sun.  Some one, long ago, purchased the rights of naming it.'

       The captain moved closer to Mary and viewed the name of the pink dwarf.  'Hmm.  Rosestar.  That's a nice name.'  He turned his head and she also turned her head.  Their lips were an inch away from each other.  He gave another order:  'Take us closer.'  They both smiled after that innuendo.  

Chapter Two:   Are We Not Giants?

       Hours passed.  Soon, the SX12 encountered its big discovery.  The Confederate ship pulled up along side NGC4078877 which, in 1989, was changed to Rosestar.  All four crew members were on the bridge for this special occasion.  The captain and the doctor wore bizarre, blue, protective visors for obvious reasons.  The unveiling should not harm the 'grams' in any way.  

       All of the space politics were put aside for this historic event.  Their previous tensions were swept under the floor panels.  The champagne was poured.  The appropriate music played.  Mary maneuvered the ship for the optimum angle.  The viewing port was, of course, closed like the curtain before the begining of one of those ancient plays.   

       'How big is this thing we're gonna see?' asked the captain.  

       Mary interrupted Dr. Audry with:  'Only 3 miles in diameter.  By far, the smallest life-giving sun known to exist.'

       Jon, the male hunk-of-a-hologram, stepped toward the seated Mary.  He declared:  'Something is not right in Amsterdam.'

       'What?'  The captain really thought:  What do you know; you couldn't even get the expression right?

       The doctor chimed in with:  'Shouldn't we see a huge planet right next to Rosestar?  Mary?'

       The female gram answered her:  'The readings are odd.  It is like the sun and planet have merged.  Yet, there is an abundance of life.  I have no idea of what this could be if these readings are correct.'

       'Could the computer be malfunctioning?'

       Mary answered her captain:  'Negative........We are in position now...'  The redheaded hologram appeared mystified; which was strange for a programmed supergenius.  'The life is concentrated.  Not dispersed over a long......if this is correct?'

       There was a collective: 'Oh, boy.'  The anxious crew was about to get their answers. 

       'Stop the music and raise the curtain...'

       The blinders of the bridge's viewing port were electronically pealed away.  The crew of SX12 observed...............observed...............a big disappointment was what they observed.  There was no pink dwarf with a huge mother-flubbin planet.  But, there did seemed to be something....if you looked real hard.

       The captain and the doctor took off the intense blue visors and stared into the darkness.

       'Highway robbery!'

       'I told you something is not right.'  Audry smiled while Henry rolled his eyes at Jon's comment. 

       'Can you not see it?' asked the beautiful science-officer.

       Jon pointed to a large, round section of space that appeared to contain no stars.

       'Oh, my God,' gasped the captain.  'Now, I see it.'

       Dr. Reece exclaimed:  'I'll be a mother-flubbin bitch.'

       The captain replied:  'You are a mother-flubbin bitch.'

       The synthetic-humans laughed while the young, perfect-in-appearance holograms did not.

       'Mary, do you have any idea what that black thing is?'

       'Yes, a Dyson Sphere.'

       'What?'

       The doctor dismissed the very concept.  'Impossible.  This sphere is only 3 miles in diameter.'

       Jon put his arm on the doctor's shoulder and assured her, compassionately, that she was wrong.  'Doctor, it is a Dyson Sphere.'

       'And my life?  The life?  Mary, all those life forms?' the captain desperately 

asked.

       The redhead took her bright eyes away from the screens and placed them directly up toward her captain's eyes.  Her index finger pointed and moved at the viewing port.  She whispered:  'They are all in there.'

Chapter Three:   What the Hell is a Dyson Sphere?

THE DYSON SHELL WAS ORIGINALLY PROPOSED IN 1959 BY THE ASTRONOMER FREEMAN DYSON.  THE ARTIFICIAL SPHERE, THE SIZE OF A PLANETARY ORBIT, WAS A WAY FOR AN ADVANCED CIVILIZATION TO UTILIZE ALL OF THE ENERGY RADIATED BY THEIR SUN.  THE ORIGINAL DYSON SPHERE HAD A RADIUS OF ONE ASTRONOMICAL UNIT WITH 600 MILLION TIMES THE SURFACE AREA OF EARTH.  SOLAR COLLECTORS STORED ENORMOUS AMOUNTS OF ENERGY WHICH CONVERTED VAST, CURVED INTERIORS INTO LIVING SPACE!   THE DYSON SHELL ENCLOSED A SUN.  IN THEORY, EXTREMELY HIGH NUMBERS OF CIVILIZATIONS COULD BE SUSTAINED INSIDE   THE D.S.  BY TAPPING THE CENTRALLY-LOCATED STAR.

       The above information was read by the two humans on the bridge of SX12.  The grams were gone.  

       'What did you tell them at CC?'

       'That we found life in incredible numbers.'

       'You uploaded the NIL?'

       'Yep.  Captain, you don't have to tell them you discovered...zillions of microbes.'

       'Oh, jeeez.'  He knew Dr. Audry was serious when she used the C-word.

       'There is still a big mystery here,' she suggested.

       'This one I know.  Why is the D.S. only 3 miles in diameter?'

       'The answer is obvious...'

       'People or some life forms generally our size...built the damn thing.'

       'Correct.'    She smiled at her former husband.  They had not argued in a while.

       The captain also smiled.  'Let's land.'

       The doctor responded with:  'Land?'

       'Why not?'

       'You're going to trust me to land your baby?'  The doctor's hands punched the proper codes to the computer to manually land the craft.  The Confederate ship lunged forward and plunged in toward the monster orb. 

       'You're coming in too fast!'

       The doctor snapped back:  'No, I'm not!'

       His hands went to push different numbers.  She slapped them away.

       The xplorer took a nose dive and was about to crash. 

       'Forcefields!'  The captain hit an emegency switch which saved the spaceship.  The vehicle smashed into the Dyson but remained protected from the impact with all of its energy concentrated to frontal forcefields.  They struck with considerably more force than any meteor.  After what seemed like earthquakes, the reverberations subsided. 

       'You almost killed us!' she screamed.

       'Me!?'  He pulled at his thinning hair.  'We can't get along for 5 minutes!'

       Soon, the humans settled down and gazed out of the viewing port.  Dust and debris cleared.  Darkness overwhelmed the scene.  SX12's lights lit small portions of the black, smooth sphere.

       The captain took control and punched in for recent maintenance-records.

       'We're fine.'

       Captain Hughes wanted to see for himself.

       'See.'

       Rather than arguing, the captain asked:  'Did I see that the inner star is unstable?'

       'Huh?'  The doctor hit a file that displayed the current condition of Rosestar.  'If it was unstable...'  She immediately saw that she was wrong.  'Oh, my...'

       'It is a very, very old star.  Once it was much larger than the Dyson.'

       'Look at this, Hank.  As recent as only 150 years ago, it became a pink dwarf...and now is only a city block in diameter.'

       'Wait, wait, wait, wait.  That doesn't make sense.'

       'I know.'  She looked into his eyes.  'Who built the flubbin sphere in such a short time?'

       'Exactly.  Find out:  When did Rosestar become unstable?'

       'No problem.'  She pressed the right buttons.  'See, you don't even need a science-officer.'

       The captain looked at the doctor with the expression: you've got to be kidding?

       She grinned.   'Here it is now.  You're not going to believe this.  Yesterday.'

       'Yesterday?'  He thought for a second.  'Then, everyone on the inner portion of the Dyson...'

       'A lot of life forms are going to die.'

       'Must be fate,' the captain said with a confident smile.  'It's their lucky day that we happened along.'

       'You mean....your hussy can stabilize the star?'

       The captain smiled even more.

       'Shit.  Just when I thought I could do her job.'

Chapter Four:   The Plan

       Later...the captain and the doctor found themselves in colorful, protective suits.  They walked on the Dyson Surface which still was in a slight state of vibration because of the crash.  There was a distant hum.  Their searchlights saw endless miles of black.  The universe they walked on had no stars; the universe up there was the one with the stars.

       'How ya doin'?' the captain asked his former wife.

       'Having a ball.' 

       'Oh, Christ.'  The humans laughed.  The Dyson was so large that a curved exterior was not seen.

       Mary's soft voice came over the communicator.  She was on the bridge and directed the humans to a certain spot on the surface.  'Captain.'

       'Yes, Mare.'

       'You are almost there.  It is a few feet in front of you.'

       The doctor was the first to see it.  'Here.  There's something here.'  They shined their lights on it.  There was a 6-sided, raised section. 

       The captain described it as a 'sunken platform about 4 feet long.'

       'Nothing else is raised like this...'

       'How many of these things have you located, Mary?'

       'There are only 365 over the entire surface of Dyson.'

       They heard Jon say:  'You'd have to go a long way until you reach another.'

       'Hmmm, millions of miles.  Mare.  Two questions:  How are your stabilizing efforts coming and when shall we expect instructions from CC?'

       The hologram answered with:  'Just finished.  The stabilization was child's play.'  The captain looked at his ex and spoke to Mary in an excited tone:  'Do you know what you've done!?' 

       'Yes, stabilized NGC4078877.'

       'No!'  The doctor loved to correct the Mary hologram. 

       'Tell'r what she's done, Aud.'

       'You flubbin saved a few zillion micro life forms.'

       'Oh, that too,' Mary said without much emotion.  'To your second question, instructions came in a few minutes ago.'

       'Well?'

       'Mare, was my plan approved?'

       'Plan approved from Confederate Command.'

       'Hot damn!'  He gave the doctor a friendly punch on her protected arm.  'This is all great news.  All the life is saved.  And we have the OK to probe inside.'

       Mary communicated:  'SX27 will arrive in 3 solar days.'

       From under her helmet, the blonde doctor told her captain:  'Well, there ended the good news.'

       'I know Captain Tull.  Somehow, he'll try to take credit for this.'

       'Anyway,' Dr. Reece exhaled.  'We got the go ahead to blast through these...weak sections.'

       'You know what I think this is?'  The captain, again, lit the sunken platform to get a better view.

       'What?'

       'What?'

       'A door.'

       'There is a seam in the middle.  Scans indicate that the...door, or whatever it is, has been fortified from the inside.'

       'We are going to have to blast.'

       The doctor was confused.  'Say you blow the hatch.  You plan to crawl in and fiddle around inside?'

       'Not me!  The grams.'

       Over the communicator came two voices:  'What?'  'Huh?'

       'I'll explain later.  Let me set the charge.'

       The captain unhinged the little bomb from his belt.  He secured it right along the seam in the middle of the 6-sided frame.  After the bomb was set, their job on the surface of Dyson was completed.  'We'll be back on the bridge monitoring it when it blows.'

       'I want to know how the grams are going to probe the inside?' asked Dr. Reece.

       'You haven't figured it out, yet?'

       Mary communicated, 'I know.'

       'Augh,' came out of the mouth of the frustrated doctor.

       Later, the two human crew members made it back aboard the ship and removed their protective gear.  The captain checked the CC instructions.  It was true.  They were allowed to study the mysterious sphere.  

       Jon sat cross-legged in a position of meditation.  Mary was at her science station.  

       'Time to the blast?'

       'One minute.'

       The doctor asked her hologram:  'What are your feelings, Jon?'

       The captain sarcastically said under his breath, 'feelings.'

       The male hologram concentrated with his eyes closed.

       The doctor was more specific:  'Will we be damaging the life forms with our probing?'

       Jon opened his eyes.  He looked at Mary.  'There is an adventure for us...and it lies inside.'

       The redhead asked, 'What will we find?'

       Her counterpart said, 'fun.'

       Dr. Reece ran a few programs herself and the computer answered her question.  'Nanites!  So, that's it.  You two will be programmed down to the size of nanites.  Ah...you sure that's the way to go, Cap?'

       'What better way to find out about the life forms?  Ask them personally.'

       BOOM!

       They all felt the blast.  The hatch had been blown open.

       Captain Hank saw the computer screen.  'Look!'

       The computer magnified tiny ships that emerged from the opening.  The captain turned to his former wife:  'You did say they had space travel capability.'  The humans permitted the escaping 'insects' to go on without interruption. 

       Jon and Mary took their appropriate positions and plugged themselves into the computer matrix. 

       'You understand what to do?'

       'Discover historical answers, report back to you and explain the findings,' said Mary.

       The doctor asked:  'How long will their away mission take?'

       'Good question.'  The captain turned to the grams.  'Just report back before 3 days.  Before Tull and the 27th get here, OK?'

       'Understood.'

       The captain kissed his hologram for good luck.  The doctor did the same to hers.

       When the particular button was engaged, the holograms disappeared.  Actually, they were reduced down to the size of nanites and now stored in the umbilical.

       'Extend umbilical.'

       'I can do that,' said the doctor.

       The umbilical resembled an elephant's trunk.  It elongated itself, found the blown hatch and slid in like a slippery snake. 

       'Disengage the probes.'

       The proper buttons were pressed.  They were IN.  But before the captain could take a deep breath, the holograms returned (full size) in front of the them on the bridge.

       'What?'

       'What the hell went wrong?'

       The humans noticed that the hologram's clothes were completely different.  They wore thick furs.  They appeared as if they had been in a battle. 

       'Mary.'  The captain held his buxom, holographic lover.  'You all right?' 

       'What happened, Jon?' asked the doctor.

       'We're fine.  They could not kill us holograms.'

       'They?'

       'It's a long story.'

       'Huh?'

Chapter Thirteen:   The Answers

       Minutes later, the humans and holograms met in the lounge area of the ship.  There was a large, round, beige couch that was almost a complete circle.  The crew made their way through the opening to the middle and found positions on the couch.  Oddly enough, they did not pair up as expected.  The grams, now appropriately dressed, sat together and across from them sat the captain and doctor.  Audry whispered to Henry:  'Have you noticed?  They seem...different.'

       He quietly replied:  'They seem...human.'

       The captain set down his drink and said:  'Time Differential...'

       'We hadn't figured on that,' admitted Dr. Reece.

       Jon was much more confident, even aggressive, than his usual wall-flower self.  He spoke up:  'Well, it isn't everyday that you shrink your...grams.'

       It was the first time the humans heard one of them use that derogatory term.  Something else was strange.

       'You said isn't?' asked the doctor.

       'So I did,' smiled Jon.

       Captain Hughes wanted to be in control and asked: 'What was the time ratio?'

       Mary answered:  'A thousand to one.  Back when we discovered that the Sphere was only 150 years old...it was actually 150,000 years old to the Skyrosians.'

       'Who?'

       Jon continued:  'To the beings inside.  Their name for their universe is Skyrosharmonique.'

       'Beautiful name,' added the doctor.

       'But everyone called it Skyros or even Sky.'

       'And how long were you there?'

       'Weeks!'

       'Wow.  You were gone for just a moment.'

       'It was long enough,' Jon said as he smiled at Mary and touched her hand.

       The captain thought: I don't like this.  They're different.  Something's wrong in Amsterdam.  'Why did you come back when you did?'

       'We were told to report,' Mary quickly volunteered a lie.

       The doctor continued the questioning.  'So, who built the flubbin thing?'

       'Let's give'm a history lesson.'

       Jon stated:  'Legends record that humans began the initial construction nearly 150,000 years ago...their time.'

       'Humans, our size.'

       'No.'

       'No?'

       'No.  People the size of the Skyrosians started the monumental task of building what you call Dyson.  But, they died out.'

       'Huh?'

       'All of the original human races are long dead.'

       'Man, I'm gonna need a blue ciggee for this.'  The doctor and captain took a half of a minute and lit up their ciggees.  They exhaled blue smoke.

       Mary continued:  'But, before they went extinct, the humans built huge robots to complete the construction of Sky.'

       The doctor sipped on her drink, puffed on her smoke and asked:  'Robots our size?'

       'Not quite,' Jon answered.  'To you, they would be a few inches high.'

       'Go on.'

       'In time...the robots broke down, malfunctioned; parts became scarce.  Skyros was only 3/5s complete.'

       'What did they do...according to legend?' asked the captain.

       'The robots acquired DNA from the original builders and cloned trillions of little workers; synthetic-humans.'

       The humans looked at each other.  'They finished the job?'

       'Their ancestors,' Mary said.  'Yes, there was virtual peace for many, many millennia...that is...until we came along.'  Her tone was filled with contempt.

       'What?'

       'Whad'you mean?'

       Jon turned to his fellow hologram.  'Let's be fair, Mare...'

       Captain Henry thought: Hey, I'm the only one that calls her Mare.

       '...Centersun became unstable all on its own.'

       Dr. Reece said:  'That was a few years back in Skyros time.'

       'Yes.  It was a warning of things to come.'

       'Mare, it was just an unstabilization.'

       'That I fixed,' she declared with pride in almost an argument with her captain.

       Jon steered the conversation away from a conflict.  'Let me explain; for years there was peace.  Then, centersun flickered and caused ice ages.  Then, came the Great Quake...Sky is still shaking from that...'

       The doctor blurted out:  'But we didn't cause that.'

       The grams looked at each other.  Mary shook her head and Jon firmly spoke:  'Yes, you did...when you slammed into the Dyson.'

       There was an awkward silence.

       Then, the doctor meekly expressed, 'oh.'

       Jon continued with:  'Then, there was the Great Explosion.  Care to guess what that was?' Jon quizzed the humans.

       The captain did not like the attitude.  Who were the holograms and who were the humans around here anyway?  'When we blew the hatch.'

       'When you blew the hatch.  The 365 ports used to be open way back in the ancient, good old days.  But ever since the Quake, the World Wars, chaos and destruction...armies were sent to seal them all.'

       'But everything is OK, now.  Rosestar is fine.'

       Mary jumped in:  'They've had hundreds of years to contemplate these changes.  When the hatch blew, this created what was called the Great Opening.'

       'So?'

       She continued:  'Two factions formed among trillions and trillions of cloned descendants.  One powerful group of scientists, with their highest technology, was called the Leavers; they wanted to leave.  Religions formed among vast numbers of second-class citizens called the Stayers.'

       'They wanted to stay.'

       'The ships you saw leave after the hatch opened, I believe you referred to them as 'insects,' were evil warlords.  They escaped punishment for their terrible war crimes.'

       'Isn't it good that they're gone?'

       'Only a few were capable of leaving.  All their power-mad followers remain!  These fascists oppress huge numbers of the weak and helpless.'

       Jon continued the story:  'We appeared...naked, by the way.  The reduction was programmed only for organic simulations.  We walked for days in a big, abandoned area; freezing our butts off.'

       'Freezing?  You're not supposed to feel cold or heat or pain,' stated the doctor. 

       'Well, we did.'

       'After swimming their oceans...we found hundreds of dead woolly mammoths.  We fashioned clothes from their skins.  Later, we encountered cities and people.  We were able to communicate, but they were very afraid.'

       'Because we were giants!'  Mary was obviously pissed.  

       'Nanite-size, to the Skyrosians, was 10 times their largest creature.  To the Leavers, who took power and set up corrupt governments, we are their mortal enemy. They attacked us with stinging laser cannons.  To the Stayers, we were a sign from heaven.  We are their salvation.  They treated us like gods!'

       Jon got angrier and angrier.  He shook his fist at his former masters.  'Do you know what it's like to be gods?'

       Mary answered in a not-so-sweet voice:  'Of course they do.'

       The captain and doctor were stunned and speechless.

       'But...'

       The female, hologram god with the large breasts said:  'Let's go, Jon.  Every minute here is a thousand minutes to our suffering friends.'  The grams quickly got up and left the lounge.  Henry and Audry could not believe this turn of events.  The doctor reached over and closed the mouth of her former husband.

       'Hey!  Where are you going?' finally came out of his mouth.

       The gram gods knew exactly what to do.  This had been planned.  They should have returned to Sky sooner.  But, there was still a small trace of loyalty left to 'report and explain' to their ex-lovers.  They had tasted freedom for weeks and were drawn very close to one another.  They experienced the extremes; being worshipped and being despised, abused and attacked.  They were not going to put up with fascism in any form.

       They reached the bridge.  Jon violated sacred programming and grabbed the emergency laser from its container on the wall.  Mary was at her science station for the last time.  

       When the two synthetic-humans ran into the bridge, they found themselves at gunpoint.  

       'Oh, my God!' yelled Audry.  'Hank, you better do something.'

       'Look, I'm giving you an order, right now!'

       The holograms stood still for a moment, then laughed.  

       Captain Henry slowly moved his hand to his wrist device.  He punched it and Mary disappeared!

       Jon aimed the laser at Dr. Reece.  'You move an inch and you're dead,' he said seriously.  'Now, take off the holobands or I'll shoot before you hit the button.'

       Audry knew he was right.  The humans reluctantly and carefully did what the gram ordered.  Jon grabbed the bands and activated Mary.  She appeared at her station.  She breathed a sigh of relief, smiled and continued punching buttons. 

       The captain asked her:  'What are you doing?'

       'Initiating the nanite sequence once more.  It's on automatic.  You can't override it.  Also, inorganic material will be reduced this time.' 

       'But, SX27 will be here in only a few days.'

       Mary calmly said:  'I have already permanently deleted our signal and masked centersun as well as all the life forms.  Also, propulsion systems have been wiped.  You're stranded.'

       'But the Confederacy will never find us!' the captain screamed.

       'Nor will they find the Sphere.  Captain,' Jon said still pointing the laser.  'The 27th would have to collide with the 3-mile, dark Dyson in the blackness of space to discover it.  They're 3 days away.  Without your signal, what are the odds?'

       'You bastard.'

       The doctor also panicked.  'But, we'll die.'

       'No, you won't,' corrected Mary.  'The generator will produce food for a lifetime.'

       The awful prospects dawned on Henry Hughes.  'I'll be trapped.  Stuck here with her!'

       'Thanks a lot.  You're no picnic either, you know,' was her reply.

       'Shut up.'

       'You shut up!'

       Jon moved over to Mary.  She stood up and plugged her and her new lover into the computer matrix.

       Jon said:  'You two were made for each other.'

       Mary looked affectionately at Jon.  'And...so were we.'

       'All that we meant to each other.'

       'But, how could you do this?  Why?'

       He said:  'We came back for the laser.  Power to the people and death to the tyrants.'

       She said:  'We're in love.  You taught us that.'

       They passionately kissed.  The holograms pushed a button which executed the nanite sequence. 

       The captain reached out, but they were gone.  Hank turned and faced Audry.  All that he could say was:  'Oh, no.'

       Audry just frowned and said:  'Flub you.'

 

 - end - 


LIFE'S END

by Doug Yurchey

 

In 2071, a respected federal engineer named Stephen Douglas has a dream of an alien invasion. The aliens destroy much of a very modern Earth. The invaders show up at the door of Mr. Douglas and shoot him dead.

Professor Douglas woke up to discover that it was all a dream. There were no aliens. His visions of night battles in the sky were not real. His planet was OK. After breakfast with his wife, Laura, there was a discussion concerning the dream. They were in their beautiful, white 2071 kitchen. She found a drink.

'Maybe it was a premonition?' asked Laura. 'You've done that before. Remember 52 out of 52? Remember the fork?'

'That wasn't premonition,' Stephen responded.

'OK, you knew you were going to get the job at Teknodyne.'

'That I knew.'

She poured blue juice into a strange, clear container.

'We've heard the news. What are they called...Urga?'

'Argo,' Stephen answered.

'The big question everyone is asking is: What will they do now, after we've made contact?'

Douglas took a deep gulp of the blue liquid.

'We made the first move,' he continued. 'Wasn't that an act of agression?'

Laura sat down, across from her husband. 'Whatchu saying? We just said HI!'

Stephen said: 'We didn't have to, did we? We could have left them alone.....no?'

'What's your feeling? What do you really think of these aliens?' Laura was worried. She knew her husband had this sense that often was accurate. High-tech vehicles were seen flying by through the white window.

'I...I think...' He changed his tune to a happier one. 'We have nothing to worry about.'

Laura smiled back. The brunette hugged her husband and gave him a passionate kiss. Seconds later, she surprised him with: 'When are we going to have children?'

Stephen rolled his eyes and kissed her again.

The next day, Stephen Douglas approached his work; the Dupree Institute. He went in through the security doors. Behind him, he left the hustle and bustle of Metrocity. He only needed to look at certain colored spots to have access to Top-Secret rooms. He had an appointment with Dr. Dupree; the head of the federal complex at Teknodyne.

Stephen passed the fashion-punk receptionist and proceeded into the doctor's office. A grand, ellipse window presented an incredible view of the city's superstructures.

'C'min.'

'Doctor, you wanted to see me.'

The older gentleman said: 'Please, we go back a ways. You can call me Jim.'

'Well, we're at work.'

Dr. Dupree was friendly, semi-hugged the younger professor and showed him a seat. They both sat. Stephen's senses tingled. The doctor became very serious.

Stephen anticipated and said: 'This is important.'

'Very. Ah, coffee?'

'No.'

'Jim, this is about the aliens?' The professor got excited.

His boss snapped back: 'You want to tell me?'

Stephen chuckled. 'Go on...please.'

The doctor switched back to serious. 'We may not have much time left. Life could come to an end.'

The doctor's words made them still and a bit colder. Reality shivered up Stephen's spine. 'It's that bad?'

'I'm telling all of our top personel; one on one.'

'What?'

'You know the Top-Secret encounter with the Argo?'

'Jim, that's all anyone's talking about.'

'Well, they were wiped out.'

'Who were?'

'We were! Over a hundred greeters...killed.' Dr. Dupree covered his face in his hands. He was wrought with guilt. 'You see, my boy: I was one who voted on First Contact.'

'You couldn't know. Jim, it was worth the risk.'

The doctor came back with emotion: 'Was it!? I'm so glad there are only a few department heads. I'm trickling the news to you before the public finds out.'

'They'll be an invasion?'

'Our psys are certain. There will be an all-out invasion by the Argos. Attack is 100% eminent.' Dr. Dupree got even more serious and insisted: 'You have to go underground.'

'We have shelters on our hillhouse.' Stephen Douglas thought of a troubling question; something that disturbed him to the bone. 'War has been declared and the people have NOT been told!?'

The doctor had no excuses. 'Stephen, I don't make policy?'

'You DO!'

'Not in the area of public information.'

'I have to get back to Laura and the kids.'

The doctor stopped the younger man. He knew that their psys predicted tomorrow will be when Metrocity gets hit. 'We have time; more than 24 hours. I need you here at Teknodyne for the next few hours...working. Stephen, please. You have time.' The old man was nearly crying.

Professor Douglas had never seen his old friend like this. 'It's not right, Jimmy. The people need to know. What's the Senate's reasoning for the silence?'

The doctor responded with: 'Endless debate. Our company can't get a word in. No one knows what to do...'

'They're afraid to do anything, aren't they?'

'The psys didn't see the killing of the greeters. That is something to worry about. Who could imagine worst case scenario?' Dupree stood up and touched Stephen's shoulder. 'You have any ideas? You always got us out of trouble before. Got anything to save our ass now?'

Professor Douglas was struck with a crazy idea. It was perfect. Now, what he had been secretly working on for the last year in his home lab made sense. He smiled. He smiled bigger. What precision, he thought.

The doctor looked at his department head funny.

'Jimmy...were there any alien causalities? I have a feeling that there were.'

'Why, yes. Geneva has one alien on ice. You knew?'

The professor laughed. 'This could frikkin' work!'

'What?'

'You have to get a piece of that Argo. You have to, Jim. Everything depends on it.'

The doctor believed his brilliant employee. 'I think...I can. The Senate will listen to a Priority 10. But, what the hell are you planning?'

'Ha, ha! My old friend.' Stephen grabbed both of Dr. Dupree's shoulders. 'We have a chance! Get that sample. It's frikkin' important.' The professor got up, turned and quickly walked toward the door. 'Can you do it?'

'Yes,' the doctor answered with confidence.

'Be at my lab at noon, tomorrow, with the alien sample. Yes?'

'No, the soonest for the sample is later in the day. Trust me. It will be cutting it close.'

'Noon is still time, right? Before the invasion?'

'Yes.'

'Boy, do I have a demonstration to show you! Bye.' Stephen ran out of the doctor's office and startled the fashion-punk receptionist. He yelled from the hallway: 'Be there! Noon.'


Laura and Stephen were sitting in their luxurious living room. The setting was different than before; the interior was much more spacious and expensive.

They were the proud parents of a boy, James and a daughter; Janna. The young boy and girl were kissed goodnight. The children happily went to bed without a fuss. There was tension mounting. Stephen and Laura wanted their children out of the way of the action.

Stephen told Laura the news of the coming attack. She put on a happy face and acted splendidly. They exchanged a hug. The monitor system recorded that their guest had arrived. The couple were in the middle of a kiss when Jim passed through the sensors and entered the impressive room.

'Oh, sorry.'

They stopped. 'No, come in doctor...I mean, Jim.'

'I didn't want to disturb...but I don't blame you.'

Laura said: 'Don't be silly. What would you like to drink?'

Dr. Dupree answered: 'Please, nothing.' The old man turned serious. 'We don't have much time.'

'Maybe you two should get to business, and I'll get out of your way.'

'Laura, you can stay,' Stephen said sincerely.

'I want to be with the children.' Her tone was genuine, warm and compassionate. 'I'll join you later.'

They said their goodbyes to Mrs. Douglas as Stephen led the doctor to his private lab. Professor Douglas had made a breakthrough. He was excited about telling his boss everything.

Dr. Dupree sensed it. 'Do you mean to say, you can defeat the Argo?'

After they passed optical security measures, they entered Stephen's lab. It appeared, to the doctor, that there was more creativity here than in Teknodyne.

'You should get a raise. Unless, you stole this stuff?'

Stephen laughed. 'No, Jim.'

Stephen looked into his friend's eyes. 'What would you say...if I perfected a unified generator?' The professor beamed with excitement as if he had the answer to the Argo problem.

'I would say you were nuts,' replied the older man.

Douglas just smiled. Then, he started switching on computer programs and 'initiating sequences.' The professor grabbed a white cloth that was draped over a 5 foot high something.

'Ya ready?'

'Sure,' said the doctor with his hands on his hips.

The white drape was pulled away and there stood a shining, silver unknown.

'Allow me to present...the first, stable unified generator.'

'I don't believe it,' the doctor gasped.

It looked like a fancy surveyor's tripod with lights and running progams.

'It's true, Jim.' Stephen went up to it and began turning the contraption as if he was aiming at various targets. 'I call it: The UNGUN.' The professor was proud of his baby. 'And this thing here...' He grabbed the trigger. '...is the trigger.'

The doctor was beyond curiousity. 'You can demonstrate?'

'Watch.' The professor brought out a clear, spherical tank with legs. The doctor was surprised to observe that it contained hundreds of cockroaches. He opened the lid, reached down, grabbed one of the buggers and placed it in the UNGUN's sample chamber.

'What are you doing?'

'Watch, carefully.'

'Seems like a trick.'

'No trick, Jim,' Stephen said sternly. 'I want you to examine the tank of roaches. Inspect it, please.'

The doctor picked it up. He felt like as long as they were confined to the clear sphere...everything was all right. He opened the container and quickly closed it.

Stephen pulled the trigger of the UNGUN.

The sample cockroach disappeared. All of the hundreds of cockroaches disappeared in the round tank while the doctor held it. He could feel the drop in weight. 'My God.'

'It isn't a trick, is it Stephen?'

'I've just eliminated every cockroach on Earth!' Stephen Douglas could not believe what he said...but it was true. He was juiced like Robert Oppenheimer or Dr. Frankenstein. 'Maybe every cockroach...in the universe. I don't know its range.'

'And to think...they were supposed to out-live us all. Huh. Ha. I believe you, my boy. That is a wonderful achievement? Ha, ha. You can delete anything you sample. Wow. Wonderful.'

The professor was not laughing. Stephen wrestled with a deeper dilemma. 'Is it?' came out of his mouth. He was not that sure of himself.

THEN, CAME THE ATTACK!

Explosions were heard off in the distance. The ground rumbled. Alarms screamed warnings in the area and around the planet. The media broadcasted that 33 Argo spaceships had entered Earth's atmosphere; then all communications ceased. We were at war!

More explosions and quakes happened. The two colleagues rushed to the large window. Earth forces fired. Their efforts could not penetrate the Argo forcefields. In the sky, over Metrocity, there were 2 enemy ships; one ship was 30 miles away from the Douglas family; the other was nearly 300 miles distant from hillhouse.

'Laura!' Stephen was about to run through the door to reach his wife and children. At that moment, they appeared at the door. The Douglas family converged on each other and group hugged. They were terrified. Missiles and laser cannons fired from the ground scared the children. The parents tried their best to comfort the smaller ones.

Dr. Dupree saw the 30-mile away, enemy spaceship attacked by Earth defenses. A forcefield halo around each of the Argo ships shielded the vehicles from any energy attack; so far. The invaders shot a wide, power ray that totally destroyed large sections of Earth. The superstructures of Metrocity were being obliterated.

In time, more Argo ships appeared in the sky. There had to have been thousands of invader ships around Earth. From hillhouse, they could see incredible destruction. The enemy, wide rays made every foot of superstructure explode. Nothing was left in these planetary scars but burnt dead-zones. In minutes...vast areas, that were once beautiful architecture, were reduced to ashes. Artificial earthquakes vibrated the surface.

Stephen Douglas saw his family off to safety, then returned to the doctor.

'Anything close, doctor?'

'We've been spared...so far.'

'Lucky.'

Earth forces were losing the battles. Whole squadrons of federal-fighter ships were wiped out. Many, many square miles of Metrocity were destroyed as easily as we spray bugs. Then, all of the ground fire stopped.

'What's this?'

The old man was a bit more hopeful. 'I know what's going to happen.'

'You mean, there's a chance?' asked Stephen.

'Yes,' Dr. Dupree said confidently. 'They're concentrating the energy.'

'The super-cannon.'

'Precisely.'

'But...if that doesn't work, Jim?'

'Then, the aliens will win within the half hour. The end of everything.'

Both frightened men observed the ground moving a hundred miles away. It was not a quake or enemy fire; a super-cannon had been initiated. The huge ground door slid open. A cannon, twenty times the size of surface guns, emerged from underground. The power lasers shot thick, green beams at the Argos. This time, there was damage. They were swatted like flies. But, the enemy crafts were not destroyed; merely stunned. Many Argo ships limped back into space. The first wave of attack ended. It was over, for now.

Stephen Douglas and his boss stood on his hilltop balcony. Inside, Stephen cried for revenge. He was going to make these aliens pay. His plan was probably the only hope for the human race. The professor imperatively said to his old friend: 'You have to get your hands on that alien sample. Jim. you have to.'

'Consider it...done.'

Later, the Douglas family went on vacation. They had just finished eating in the country. There were no superstructures or signs of civilzation at all. Beautiful, green jungles surrounded little Janna; James and their parents. A clean lake was in the background. The four of them played and had fun. During this suspended moment in 'all nature' world, the family forgot their troubles and was happy.

Stephen threw a coconut back and forth with James. Laura and Janna gently played with a treefrog. They did not have a care. This was quality-time. Stephen realized; this was something that they did not do as often as they should have. And now...now it may be too late. Laura and Stephen hid their fears well from their children. They enjoyed every moment in their great escape.

Stephen had to stop tossing ball with James. He looked at his watch. Stephen called over to Laura and reminded her. She apologized to Janna that play-time was over. Both children did not want to go or return to Metrocity. They formed one more family hug. Stephen sensed it was for the last time.

Sadly, Laura was cued to press the switch. She turned off the hologram. The wonderful breeze and pretty environment clicked off. The family found themselves back at their modern mansion. Outside of the large window still stood a smoldering supercity. Oh well, it was back to reality.


The doctor again entered the Douglas residence on the fateful day of May 10th, 2071. He reached Stephen after he passed the security techs.

Something was wrong with Stephen.

'Yes! Jim! You got?'

'Yes. You look a mess.'

'Anyway.......I sense there is a problem.'

The elder company man had been doing a lot of thinking. He had reservations about wiping out all of the Argo. Dr. Dupree, in truth, did not bring the alien sample. He told Stephen his deep feelings: Should ALL of the enemy race be killed? Are there good Argos? Do they deserve to be deleted forever? What are the consequences of these actions? Are we being destroyed for destroying the cockroaches?

Stephen let those arguments slide off him. He had larger news. The professor was nervous. He was clearly not himself; as if he had been up all night. As relaxed as he was in 'all nature'...that was how frazzled he appeared in the lab. Professor Douglas made another great discovery that was never forseen. The UNGUN had become his own, private wish-maker. Stephen's eyes were nearly maniacal.

'It does anything I want. Jim, anything.'

The doctor thought Stephen was crazy. 'Stephen, this must be stress talking.'

'I don't blame you for being skeptical, boss.'

'I don't think you heard me,' reminded the doctor. 'We shouldn't destroy them all.'

'Look. I'll prove what I'm saying.' A white-based sculpture, a Tesla coil, stood on the table. The professor turned the UNGUN until the weapon faced the coil. 'Coil.' He pulled the trigger.

In a second, the Tesla coil disappeared.

Stephen got all emotional and collapsed. The doctor grabbed him. Soon, Dr. Dupree revived his old friend.

In a moment, Stephen said a few words: 'It's been too much for me. What I've been...thinking...'

Soon, the professor was almost rational. 'Jim. You still don't realize.'

Stephen was motionless. Then, he got energized and acted hyper.

The doctor, inappropriately, asked: 'Does it only work for you? Can you build more?'

Stephen Douglas was appalled. He was taken back by his colleague and buddy. The professor expressed with force: 'Don't you understand!?' He turned the UNGUN and raised its barrel vertically. It pointed through the skylight. He exited through a door. A huge cloud hovered above them over 100 miles in diameter. He went back throught the door to the disintegrator.

'The cloud.'

Stephen pulled the trigger. With an electrical snap; poof!...the titanic cloud instantly disappeared. It was like deleting a program to the recycle bin.

'Don't you see?!'

'What, my boy? You've developed a very clean weapon,' stated the doctor.

'I've built a monster.' Stephen's eyes lit in an insane way. 'I can destroy anything. Anything!' Douglas could not help but appear mad.

'I could wipe out the Moon...all the Metrocities.' Stephen shook slightly. 'Jimmy. I could annihilate the frikkin' human race!'

Laura entered. She overheard her husband. She also saw the cloud disappear and was convinced. The silver UNGUN could delete anything.

'Laura, what do I do? I don't want the responsibility,' Stephen pleaded.

She said: 'If this is true, you could lick tragic things that still exist in this day and age like...poverty, the subs, the poverty in the subs; hunger; disease...there are still some around.'

The doctor threw in: 'She's right. Barnard's Plague is still among us.'

'Metrocity might look nice. But, it's far from a perfect society.'

'So, I should think and presto...make it perfect?'

'You didn't answer my question, Stephen,' the doctor chimed in. 'Is the UNGUN programmed for only you?'

'Yes, for everyone else, the Safety is on.'

The professor was confused. 'What should I do?'

Laura changed her mind: 'Wish the GUN away. Destroy the gun.'

'No!' shouted Dr. Dupree.

Laura realized that her husband was being torn apart by his discovery and overwhelming responsibility.

Janna and James were at the door. Mrs. Douglas acknowledged them to her husband.

Stephen smiled back; as if she was correct. The UNGUN should be undone.

'Stephen,' the doctor protested. The old man walked to the younger man and whispered in his ear.

Douglas thought for a moment and said: "I'll do that.'

'What?' Laura asked.

It was later in the early evening. Only Laura, Stephen and the doctor were in the lab.

'How else are we going to know the intentions of the enemy? Bring them here. Wish one of the Argo here...and make him speak English,' insisted the doctor.

Stephen agreed. He created his thought. The trigger was pulled!

After an electric 'pop;' one of the 5 foot tall, dark green Argos integrated on the table and in physical restraints. It was an ugly beast; wet and smelly like a lizard/fish. The Argo breathed heavy. When it spoke...it spoke as a Brit in the perfect King's English.

'Ah, excuse me, sir, I say,' it said with a strong London accent.

'Ssh.'

'Do you mind? These are rather compromising.'

The men got angry.

'Quiet you! We ask the questions!'

'I must protest,' the Argo said gentlemanly.

'Ssssssssh!!'

The professor declared: 'Now, you're going to answer our questions, you little bastard. You're going to tell us the truth! You get that?!'

It said: 'I do indeed, sir. Just don't hurt me. I've been having a bachache...'

The doctor was ready to blow a fuse. 'Quiet!!'

'Yes,' the English-thing whispered. 'Quiet, sir.'

The Argo guy did not seem too bad. What the hell was going on? This was the enemy?

Dr. Dupree grilled the alien. 'You killed hundreds of humans during First Contact.'

'We did not, sir,' the Argo disagreed.

'What?'

'No one has died, sir.'

Suddenly, Dr. Dupree jumped and strangled the tied-up alien. 'Admit it! C'mon, admit it!'

Laura did not attempt to stop the doctor.

Douglas did try to break the grip of Dupree. 'We need answers and that's not helping. Jim! Please.'

The doctor released his chokehold.

The thing coughed and choked. Soon, it returned to normal. 'Oh, oh...th...thank you, sir. One rational...'

'Quiet!' yelled the doctor and professor.

Laura was pissed at the thing. 'How do you explain this Argo?' She pushed a button and vertical panel after panel disappeared. The large window opened and revealed a devastated Metrocity at twilight. Electrical fires still raged. Smoke hung in the sky. Large sections of supercity were no more; replaced by blackened, dead strips. The entire fleet of robot-maintenance was already on the long job of repairing the damage.

Now, it was Laura's turn to angrily yell. 'No one died?! What the HELL is this?!'

The alien turned its long neck to see. 'No, no, you see, mum......'

'Well?'

'You're not real. No one died because this is not real. I say, sir. Haven't you figured it out? We're not your eneny. We're your care-takers. We love you.'

That was not what the three humans expected to hear.

The creature from Argo continued: 'I bloody well admit that a few of our renegades did fall from grace and attacked your planet in 2071......but, that was in the real world, sir. And, a long time ago.'

Laura, Stephen and Dr. Dupree looked at each other in wonder.

Stephen turned his gaze to the dark green alien strapped to the table. 'You have to tell us the truth. That was a part of your programming!'

'I know, I know...I am, sir. I definitely am.'

Stephen argued that '2071 was not a long time ago. It is the present.'

'I am truthful in saying it was a long time ago, indeed, sir.'

'What do you mean this is not real?' asked the doctor.

'No one has died here because the environment is virtual. This is all virtual; part of the game, sir.'

Stephen Douglas screamed: 'What game!?'

'Why...yours, sir. This world came out of your head. You wanted to be a hero. Did you actually think someone could invent a wish-machine? Or, a perfect unified generator? C'mon, sir.....seriously.'

'Well...ah...' Professor Douglas did not know what to say.

'Think about it, sir,' urged the alien.

Again, there was silence. Something was credible in what the Argo said.

The creature stunned Stephen with: 'Sir, you're not even married.'

'What?' Laura slightly shouted. The creature got her attention.

The alien repeated: 'This is a virtual world; artificial, sirs and mum.'

'Not married?' she asked again. 'We have children.'

'Not in Scene 2, mum.'

Professor Douglas decided to release the alien from its bonds. It was being cooperative. This Argo did not pose a threat. The creature was unrestrained. The limey alien thanked Stephen profusely.

'Oh, thank you. Thank you, sir.' And, so on...

Laura was shook up. 'He's not my husband?'

'Laura.'

'That's what he said.'

Dr. Dupree added: 'Don't believe him. He's an alien nut. The enemy.'

Just then and very quickly, the green guy from Argo leaped onto the UNGUN.

The alien said: 'Dr. Dupree and Laura.' It pulled the trigger.

Those two disappeared. Stephen was more than a little startled. 'I thought...'

'Just wanted to bloody-well prove a point, sir.'

'Are you going to delete me?' Stephen asked in uncertainty.

'Impossible, sir. I couldn't even if I wanted to and I would never want to, sir'

The alien got down off the silver gun. He calmly sat and motioned Stephen to do the same.

'But...but...what about me? Am I real?'

'Yes. And...and no, sir.'

'Why are you talking in that horrible English accent?'

'You gave it to me, sir.'

'What do you mean; yes and no?'

'Yes, you are a real spirit. No, your world is not real...anymore.'

Stephen is overwhelmed and softened his tone. 'Please, explain Argoman.'

'You're dead, sir.'

Professor Douglas could not believe his living ears.

'Dead? I don't feel dead?

'I know. Quite remarkable, sir. Brilliant.'

'I was never married to Laura?'

'Sorry, sir. She was a co-worker at Teknodyne.'

The human asked: 'Did she, at least, like me?'

The Brit-Argo answered: Sorry to say, sir. But, she wouldn't jolly well give you the bloody time of day. You don't earn enough credits.'

'Our children; James and Janna?'

'Sorry. All part of your illusion. You were programmed with the perfect family, with a prestigious job; in a beautiful, almost perfect world, sir.'

'Why wouldn't Laura like me?'

'You weren't very good looking, sir.'

'Excuse me!' Stephen jumped to his feet. There was a mirror that returned a handsome reflection. He rubbed his chin. He looked at his profile. 'I'm not that bad.'

'Oh, you look great, now, sir.'

'Now?'

'Yes, sir. In...this...'

'I did work for the government?'

'Yes, sir. And, Dr. Dupree was the head of the institute. You were never friends. He would never have come to your house.'

'Why?!'

'Because...because...'

'Say it.'

'...Because you're a lowly engineer. Not that important to the Senate. Excuse me for saying, sir.'

'I'm not a teacher?'

'Ah...sorry, sir.'

'But, I was important enough to be murdered.'

'The renegades killed even low-rung federal employees...anyone who might pose a future threat,' said the alien without feeling.

'I was killed by your people.'

'Killed by rebels. I do apologize for that. I say, please do forgive them, sir.'

Stephen sharply responded: 'Forgive them?'

'You killed me,' Stephen said; still mystified.

'Deader than a doornail, sir.'

'And, I'm not really this good-looking?'

'Not in any real world, sir.'

Stephen, who was never a professor, took a large breath. 'Thank you for your brutal honesty.'

'You're welcome, s...'

'Don't say: sir!'

'Ah...ah. You're welcome, your grace.'

Stephen rolled his eyes. After another sigh, he asked his beasty pal: 'Now, what?'

'Make a wish....pull the trigger.'

The UNGUN stood in the background like a icon to be clicked that could initiate any program that came to mind.

The man laughed. He stopped and thought. 'I want to go back. I want to live again,' he said with hope in his heart.

'That cannot happen,' said his care-taker, sadly. 'But, anything else can. I am sorry, sir.'

Stephen frowned. 'I did ask you not to call me that.'

'Sorry, sir.'

'Ah!'

'Shit.'

They smiled and then it became laughter. They were going to be friends. Stephen had a guide to his surreal world. Tech-Support.

'What can you do for me? What's gonna happen?'

The Argo guy said something comforting: 'You can live a happy life, my friend...here. You choose what will happen. Everything is programmed by you.'

'You mean live a happy death? How?'

'Pull the trigger.' The Argo smiled.

'Really, that simple?'

Stephen walked over to the metallic sculpture that became much more than a unified generator.

Stephen Douglas pulled the trigger.

'That was simple.' He smiled as if all was good in the world. Then, his thoughts changed to a darker side. He had one more concern. It was a BIG ONE.
'Wait a second...'

'Yes...my friend?' asked the Londoner.

'What about them? The real world? Were your renegade forces defeated? Did Earth survive?'

'Yes, but the rebels will attack again. There are dark forces that seem to be omnipresent in the real universe. You must be on the alert...ever mindful of the energy that you generate.' The dark green creature waved a 4-fingered hand. 'You can defeat them with a thought.'

Stephen heard that and stood there for half of a minute. Naively, the good-looking human offered his services and stepped toward the UNGUN. 'Then, I will.' He was about to press a button and make the real world a better place.

The alien stopped him. 'No, you can't. It's not up to you.'

- END -


GYD 

GYD

by Doug Yurchey



In the Lazarus Institute for Violent Crimes, psychotic inmates were still treated like prisoners. Oh, a doctor would come in and pretend to give a shit. It was an act!

Two particular residents were a unique pairing: Zeek Moonglow (he called himself) was a paranoid, hyper, ego-maniac psychotic. He believed he was the Savior...and was the Supreme GYD...or something like that. Zeek also believed THEY were going to kill him. He never shut up about it! His cellmate, Louie, was a quiet /old man and a cigarette addict. He was a mysterious man that never volunteered personal information about his past.

No one in the institute knew Louie's last name; not even the doctors. Zeek had been roomed in the 15' x 9' with Louie for three weeks. It had been the longest three weeks of Louie's life. There was no getting out of it; he was stuck to this garbage-mouth who droned on and on and on; even in his sleep. Louie would love to kill Zeek. He thought of at least 500 different ways to do the younger man in. The older psycho was half the size of Moonglow. During sleep, he imagined will be the best way. Louie was the grumpiest man in the world. He even hated the fact that he had to call his roomy Zeek Moonglow. He could not get his high school, dropout self to do it. So, 'kid' came out every time.

Louie took it. Day after bloody day, Louie became the soundboard as Zeek hammered his nervous paranoia. It was always the same sermon: THEY were coming! He was going to die! THEY were going to kill him!

Louie smoked like a chimney. How he put up with Mr. Moonglow's ravings was anyone's guess. Louie could barely get a word in on their conversations. It was endless. Zeek had to vocalize his thoughts. He had a Christ-complex. He was sure HIS views were the truth. He thought: THEY were afraid that I would attract a following...that I would step into the light. He insisted that he was a political prisoner. And now...he was marked for death.

'...I've been around forever, like the, like the Barry Manilow song. You know? Lou? LOU?'

The patient only called 'Louie' knew he was in hell. This was a continuous torture. He had not been talking. A half hour went by without him saying a word. Now, Louie was really disturbed. He had to say something: 'LOUIE!'

'What? That's your name.' Zeek was confused.

'Kid, kid! It's Louie. Louie. It's Louie! You got it?'

'Yeah, yeah, yeah. Lou-EE. I got it. As I was saying...' Zeek coughed. 'I was always.' Zeek got a glazed look over his face as he often did when he spaced.

Since Louie spoke once in the last half hour, he decided to speak up again: 'Wait, kid, wait...How could ya been 'round ferever? Yer no more than 30.'

'I mean what's inside of me, Lou, Louis...Luis?' Zeek, for a few seconds, forgot his ball and chain's name. 'Louie! I knew.'

'Yeah,' Louie exhaled with a cloud of tobacco smoke.

'There's something in me that controls the Universe. Sssssssh.' Zeek's eyes got wild. 'You can't tell anyone! Sh! Ssssssh!' He looked in all directions.

'I'm not the one shouting.'

'Oh. Ha, ha.' Zeek continued to search around him. Then, he whispered: 'I control everything.' Zeek's eyes bulged. Louie's squinty eyes did not react. Louie thought this nut was a nut.

'Everything?'

Zeek came back with: 'Yes, I'm GYD.'

'God?'

'No. GYD.'

Louie did not get it. He did not want to get it. He only knew he had always attracted the crazies. Now, was no different. He lit another cigarette. God, he was thankful for one thing: Thank God Zeek didn't smoke any of his damn cigarettes.

'They're gonna get me. I know it. They're gonna kill me, Louie.'

The old man, who thought he was Bogart, said: 'Kid, we all gotta go sometime.'

'You don't understand. I'm a bigger target than you could possibly imagine.'

Louie actually heard some knew territory. So, he decided to explore: 'Why exactly are dey after ya, kid?'

'What I carry inside. They want to destroy GYD. I control everything.'

'Yeah, you said dat part, kid.'

'Well...if you can find it, then you can kill it. Right?'

'Find what?!' Louie was angry. He was from the street. To him, Zeek sounded like he was from Mars. He tuned out Moonglow's preachings. When he tried to follow Zeek's logic, Louie would lose it. Zeek was light-years over Louie's head.

'The very thing that controls it all,' Zeek said sincerely and calmly.

'You don't control the Universe, I'm sorry to inform ya.'

'How d'you know?' Zeek asked.

Louie, and all his wrinkles, stamped out another smoke. He put some cloudy thoughts behind his answer: 'Cause yer locked up! Why don'tcha get yerself out if ya control the world?'

Zeek also placed some serious thoughts behind his answer as well: 'As the controller, I must be locked away. The truth can't be in broad daylight. Where else to hide the mechanism? Here in some out of the way, forgotten, hell-hole. The mechanism that controls everything is housed inside me.' Zeek cried with the weight of responsibility.

'I don't get you.'

'The irony that I'm in a madhouse. Lazarus, they call it?'

'State licensed institution.'

Zeek began to get agitated again. He paced back and forth and back and forth. Louie lit up again.

Zeek finished his crazy thought: 'As if we are going to rise from the dead and make a complete recovery...' He went into hyper. 'Damn, the fascists, damn the controllers who think they are God! They're not GYD! I am the ring-bearer.'

'You're gone, kid. You are really gone.....Like I said, you'd wish yerself outta here if ya could.'

'But, THEY are the mad ones! Don't you see? To want me dead and destroy the mechanism!'

'Stop pacing!'

'Shit, sorry. I...I can't help it. I want to fly out of here.'

'Makes no sense.' Louie knew he would regret trying to make heads or tails of it. 'I was talkin' to Ed, the guard...'

'Fred. You mean, Fred. His name is Fred.'

After all the hell Zeek bounced off him, he had to be corrected as well?

'Fred, Ed....he said about ya: You said ya don't die. You're forever. Then how can They kill ya?' Louie was sure he caught Zeek in a circle of logic. 'He gotta point?' The grumpiest man in the world mustered a smile.

'Look,' Zeek stared intently into the old man's eyes. He was serious. 'The future is known. I'm going to pass on the mechanism a moment before my death when I'm 86 years old.'

'What?'

'I'm NOT supposed to die, now! I can't die before my time, Louie. I can't!'

'Why the hell not?'

Zeek Moonglow had that expression on his face again. 'Then, the mechanism will be destroyed. Lou, that means ALL UNIVERSAL CONTROLS ARE OFF. The control of everything in the Universe is offline.' Zeek was overwhelmed by this delusion. 'Anything could happen,' Moonglow whispered. 'GYD is dead. The madmen out there would have killed their GYD.' Zeek was shaken. It was like he gave a Shakespearean speech.

Bogie, in contrast, lit another cigarette and said: 'I told ya...it's Louie. Louie.' He felt a headache coming on. He tried to see some shred of logic in Zeek's words. 'So, yer sayin'.....if They kill ya before yer time...the world blows up?'

Zeek believed his paranoia to the bone. 'Louie, I don't know what will happen to the world, mate. For the first time... It might be...like if the Ring of Power was not destroyed and evil reigned supreme.'

'You lost me, kid.'

'Chaos! Don't let THEM kill me, Louie. You have to protect me.'

Louie had enough. He did not care anymore and was very sorry for humoring this lunatic.

'Could ya give it a rest, kid? How 'bout I take a snooze without yer jabberin...' Louie stretched out on his narrow bed. 'Or, I'm gonna hafta kill ya...' That was the closest Louie would come to a joke; something about murder fascinated the guy.

Zeek complied. He stopped talking. He knew he was alone. He knew he was going to be killed and the Universe will be out of control. Zeek did not hide his feelings. He looked over at Louie who was 99% asleep. Mr. Moonglow was ready to freak out at what he knew will happen....and there was Louie fast asleep; when the world was coming to an end. This was not right; Moonglow thought.

Zeek was about to wake Louie; then he stopped himself. He remembered what happened last week: Zeek woke him up to ask a question and Louie attacked the younger man! Zeek did push the older man off of him. Later, they came to an understanding: Don't wake up Louie! Moonglow was amazed that a cigarette was not in Louie's mouth. He looked peaceful; asleep in the 15' x 9' room.

Zeek just stared at the wrinkled face of his cellmate. He noticed a mole on Louie's face that he had never noticed before. Zeek crept closer. As he focused on this spot on Louie's sleeping face...the spot suddenly lit as a light would. It became a red-blinking light. At that same moment, an electronic beep was heard.

'What the hell?' Zeek gasped. His eyes did not believe what they saw. Louie's body jerked in short, mechanical bursts. Louie's eyes opened with a cold, cloudy stare. Suddenly, Louie's hands were around Zeek's neck. The old man crushed the life out of his cellmate, Zeek Moonglow.

'Why?' was the last thing out of the younger man's mouth.

'I told you not to wake me! Didn't I, kid? Didn't I?!' Louie was quite mad. Then, he said something unexpected: 'The mechanism had to die.'


Running down the hall were two doctors and Fred, the guard. Sirens blasted an alarm. The officials at Lazarus were alerted to the disturbance among Zeek and Louie. The guard and doctors arrived at the particular 15' x 9' in question. The alarms stopped and echoed down the hall. The doctors were nicknamed 'Reagan' and 'Bush.'

Fred was first into the room and restrained Louie. The old man was lifeless and put up no resistance. He was attached to metal bonds. Reagan and Bush went directly to Zeek. They seemed to go to work on the 30 year old. There was nothing the old doctors could do to save the young man. Zeek was dead.

Fred said to Louie: 'He was right about knowin' he was going to die, huh?'

Reagan and Bush stopped their phony attempt to revive Zeek. They were thrilled that the mechanism was destroyed. That was their plan. The cosmos will know that THEY were the ones who destroyed the Universe! Their names will live forever.

The doctors and a mechanical Louie stared at Fred in a sinister way. It made the guard very uncomfortable.

'What's goin' on?'

Robot Louie snapped the bonds like they were thin plastic. The old man was actually a government-issued GRAPP 407 model and killed Fred in two seconds! Reagan and Bush were in total control of the Robot Louie GRAPP the whole time.

The doctors were not doctors. They were alien madmen. Their mission was to kill GYD.

With the destruction of the device that controls everything in the Universe...the world fell to oblivian. There is no good ending when the world is in the hands of darkness and chaos.


TELE-PYRAMID 

by Doug Yurchey



SID did not know what to make of it. Neither did Captain Nash.

Nash's Service-Intelligence-Droid was at a loss of communicative data. Their mysterious cargo gave off a strange signature.

'The big box is giving off a strange signature,' said the hovering orb.

'SID, you've had to have been given instructions…or something along with this?'

'All codes were proper. Specifics were…'

'…Not there.'

'No, Captain,' said the round service-droid in mid air. 'Specifics were deleted.'

'That's odd. And…it's a Level 5.' The captain added up the oddities. 'Huh!'

The Starriver is a small freighter. The captain only has one companion. It's a SID; but a very special SID. SID is engaged in probing the L5 cargo.

'Nothing,' SID said with his synthetic accent.

'How can that be? Nothing is something.'

'Nothing known. Signature is not in my database.'

'SID…your database is outstanding,' the captain remarked. 'That means…this could be…'

'Alien.'

'Yes….alien.'

'I've scanned the known unknown.'

Nash interrupted: 'You're losing me.'

'Data attributed to alien intelligence…'

'And?'

'Fascinating. Alien material is an object of study for me.'

'Your hobby?'

'Hobby?' SID checked his files. His inquiry was confirmed. 'Yes.' Then, SID said with confidence: 'It is my hobby.'

Nash returned to solving this high-level enigma he was hauling through space. 'Look how we got this assignment.'

SID said: 'Unconventional to say the least. The codes simply appeared in my files.'

The captain mentioned: 'Not to mention how the big box just…beamed in.'

'That is a first for the Starriver. There was no negotiator.'

'I don't trust it when there is no one there to trust.'

'Then, Captain. Why did you accept?'

'Because I do trust we'll get paid.' Nash looked around as if someone else might be in the ship. 'SID?' The captain had a childish grin on his face and asked: 'Do you think you can open it?'

SID replied with a definitive negative: 'Of course not. It is priority sealed. My remote scans are all corrupted.'

'Shit.'

'I am sensing you are thirsty, Captain.'
'Huh?'

'Maybe you should take a Mead break?'

'Really?' The captain was caught off-guard. Nash remembered their signal and tried to hide his excitement.

'I will fix drinks,' said SID. He flew to the front of the ship.

Nash brushed up against the pyramidal box. He said: 'I will see you later.' The captain left the ante-room. The hatch closed. Soon, he was near SID pouring precious Mead.

When Nash joined SID, he was well within the perimeter of their Projection Bubble. 'Mead' was the key word. The captain knew that if SID needed to absolutely talk-in-private…the pouring of Mead would initiate the Bubble. If any source is remotely monitoring these two transporters, they would receive a false signal. Nash and SID could now conduct a 100% secret conversation. The completion of the blue drink will terminate the Projection Bubble.

['Hey, little buddy! We've never done this before!' After a burst of energy, Nash settled down. 'Do you really think this is necessary?'

'Cap, my files were not corrupted. I had to lead you on and it on until we could speak in here.'

Nash still did not have a clue. 'Why?'

'Because I know for a fact what is inside the box.'

'Yeah, what is it?'

'I believe it is a stolen tele-pyramid.'

'I didn't think tele-pyramids were real,' commented the captain in wonder.

SID said: 'TPs are not fictional…as they would have you believe.'
'I read the article in Niom. It exposed a story that the super elite executives use tele-pyramids. It was all hush-hush until the stories were discredited.'

'The stories were real, Cap.'

'How do you know?!'

'Because we are carrying one honest-to-goodness, A-1 TP.' SID accessed more information. 'TP17 in a system of 23.'

'Wow.' Captain Nash really drank some Mead. He knew that his projected image was probably doing the same. Nash turned to his hovering companion. 'You said stolen?'

'This is not federal.'

'You mean it's not the feds we're hiding from?'

'No. Stolen from the feds. Some pirate corporation. Signatures of the new owners are not the feds.'

Nash's eyes bugged out. 'If you can get it to work…'

'I can.'

'I could experience virtual reality unlike…wha…what do they call it?'

'Super-definition.'

'SID…it's supposed to be…' Nash was stunned. He realized the story that broke among the high execs was true. TPs were no myth. TPs were…
'Heaven.' The captain exhaled a heavy sigh.

'And with my transponder in you, I can experience your environments; your sensations,' said the Service-Information-Droid with a bit of feeling.

'Excited, SID?'

SID's timer reminded the orb that the Bubble was about to burst.
'So you can open it?'

'Cake. Our clients had no idea you modified me with experimental upgrades. That was the only way I learned of the TP and can maintain this mask.'

Nash drank all of the Mead except for one last swallow. 'But, how? When?'

'Leave it to me, Captain. Drink, now.'

Captain Nash finished the Mead and the Projection Bubble broke seamlessly.]

'That was…' Nash had to say something to break the silence that the cargo's bugs recorded. '…too bad your files were corrupted.'

SID responded with: 'Human curiosity.'

'I would liked to have known what we're carrying. That it wasn't a bomb or something.'

'Captain, shall I pour you another Mead?'

'Another one!?' Nash controlled his surprise. 'Ah, yeah, yeah…sure.'

The orb made his invisible hands pour the drink and the Projection Bubble once again formed.

['We were just here! Explain.'

'I had to restart the Bubble.'

'And….why?'

'You want the TP opened…correct?'

'You're gonna open it now?' the captain whispered. He was thrilled.

SID said: 'Once I expand the Bubble to encompass the TP. Ready. Watch.'

The captain saw an invisible fold expand outward from the glass of Mead. It grew and consumed the entire ship.]

'Now,' said the modified module.

Noise was heard from the ante-room. Nash ran in to check it out. He slipped through the hatch to find the black box was split open. Four dark sides fell to the floor with loud bangs. Four walls of white-light composed the energy-sides of the tele-pyramid. It glowed. It hummed. It was beautiful.

SID flew in the ante-room. 'My key opened it. The bugs are off, Captain. You can use it all you want and they will never know.'

'You're sure?'

'I can close the box, reset its timers and no one will ever know.'

The captain just realized: 'You want this as badly as I do. Huh, SID?'

SID confessed: 'Human sensations are a potent drug.'

'I didn't expect you to say that, my flying friend. Thanks for all your…. How much time do I have to use the thing?'

'Captain?'

'How much time before I'm needed for re-entry?' Nash glanced at his watch.

'Do you know what a tele-pyramid can do?'

'I know you walk into it and it is a virtual reality beyond my wildest dreams. I want to know how much time can I spend in there?'

SID assured Nash: 'Take your time.'
'Take my time? But, we have to meet our contact in only one hour?'

SID said: 'Trust me. Spend 2 hours; then walk back out.'

'I terminate the program by walking back into the side of the TP?'

'Correct.'

The brilliant, white, 7 and a half foot high TP (TP17 in a system of 23) hummed with alternating energy in the ante-room. Captain Nash stood before it as if he was about to eat the finest caviar and drink the best champagne. 'If it's good enough for the fed elite, it's good enough for me. See ya in 2 hours, SID.'

'Have a great time. Will be monitoring.'

Nash took a breath, crossed his fingers and walked forward directly into one of the white sides of TP17. For a split second, Nash was gone.

@

The captain stepped out of the energy TP and into another world. The land was a green desert at twilight. Nash could see plateaus and mesas all around. The incredible sunset was shades of purple. Nash had an instinct to run back into the TP and tell SID what was on the other side. But, he stopped himself and continued his virtual tour. No C.G.I. was ever like this. He was amazed. Usually, you can tell that a holographic landscape is not real. But, this…this was absolute realism.

Nash was alone in a dramatic, green desert under a purple sky. The wind was gloriously exhilarating. The captain stepped away from the TP. The white anomaly looked out of place in this strange, natural setting.

Nash marked the TP's location; it stood in a clearing in between what appeared as lunar peaks. The glowing TP sat at the base of a huge mesa. He looked in the distance and saw great birds flying along the horizon. Nash walked toward an alien sunset he would never forget.

The temperature remained constant as time passed. The land and sky slowly darkened. Nash was miles from the TP and could still see its white energy in front of a distinguished mesa.

The captain climbed a hill and was able to see down into a valley. He saw lights. There was a village. The town was primitive with simple, organic structures. In the darkness, he was able to creep closer. There were people sitting around the lights.

Nash hid behind a bush. Out in the open was a campfire. Indians smoked a peace pipe and passed it in a circle.

'Injuns,' he thought. 'Wonder if they have any fire-water?' He thought of SID. The captain said out loud: 'You should see this, SID.'

'I am seeing this,' came his friend's electronic voice out of thin air.

'Why didn't you talk sooner?'

'You had to initiate it by saying my name. Now, we can speak.'

Suddenly, the Indians turned and heard the commotion from the bushes. They appeared menacing. They started to approach.

'Oh, oh.'

'Run!'

Five warriors, with war-paint, ran toward Nash. The captain sprinted back the way he came. Nash could hear the Indian yells. They were after him; they were going to attack him! The captain freaked and ran for his life.

'Oh, Captain Nash?'

'What kind of peace pipe were they passing, anyway? SID, help!' Arrows whizzed by the captain. The Indians were fast and soon to pounce on him. Nash was in trouble.

'Cap, use your gun.'

'Oh, Christ. Forgot about it. They're making them so small…'

Nash stopped. He shot the closest one to him. The others were shot has they pulled back their bows. 'Just in the nick of time. Thanks for the assist.'

'Wow,' said SID. 'I did not expect to be scalped by renegades on this run, Cap.'

'Ha, ha, haaa.'

Later, Nash climbed out of the valley. He saw the TP way up ahead. It would be some time before he could return to the ship.

'Hey, I just realized: TP and Indians.'

SID came back with: 'Spelled differently.'

'I know. I know. SID. I'm confused. This is what I got all excited about? Yeah, it got my adrenaline flowing, but, so far…I'm not impressed.'

'You have to PROGRAM it,' SID informed the captain.

'How do I do that?'

'Try coming out. Program it from the ship.'

'Don't you know?'

'It is a good bet.'

Nash made his way back to the TP. He walked into one of its 4 sides and expected to find himself back on board the Starriver. He was not. He was in a brightly colored city. A supercity stretched out for miles in all directions. Crystal towers extended high into a golden sky. People walked by and paid no notice of Nash. The TP was inconspicuous among all the activity in this great city.

'SID! SID! Where the hell am I?'

'You are supposed to be out here; back with me.'

'I'm not. I'm in some giant metropolis.'

'I know. I can see through your eyes.'

'What should I do? SID! I thought you knew how this thing works?'

'Go back in the TP.'

'Any side?'

'That is the problem. I have the answer now. Make sure you go back in the same side as you came out.'

Nash got his bearings. 'Ah, same side. Huh. OK.' The captain thought he remembered where he exited. He entered that side of the TP.

Nash was back in the desert at night. He stepped out of a side of the pyramidal transportor.

'Cap. Find the side where you first entered…exited.'

The captain turned back toward the tele-pyramid. 'So, it's a matter of finding the right portal…or side.' Nash entered another side and he found himself on a tropical island. He had walked out of a TP on a bright isle.

'Hey, wow! This ain't it…but it's truly beautiful.' Blue waves crashed on a shore of clean sand. No virtual universe ever looked and felt this amazing. 'Now, this is a place I could stay awhile.' Nash took a big whiff of salty air. He was beginning to understand the tele-pyramid. The four sides have been previously programmed. The four sides were doorways to other worlds. Nash would certainly remember this place and return to it.

Sooner than expected, the captain walked back into the same white wall of energy that he emerged from. Nash was again in the dark desert. This time, he seemed sure he could figure out how to get home.

'It has to be this one.'

He walked through the gateway and stepped out of the TP on board the Starriver.

Captain Nash was extremely happy to have gotten himself out of the maze and back to his ship. He walked out a split second after he walked in.

'I love ya, ya damn volleyball!' Nash took two steps, reached SID; grabbed the droid with both hands and gave him a big kiss. 'I just got a small taste of what a TP could do, I know.' Nash glanced at his watch. 'How long was I gone? An hour?'

'Forget your watch, Cap. It is wrong.'

'Whatcha mean? Are we coming to re-entry soon?'

'Captain,' said SID.

'Yes?'

'You just left. You and your watch did experience all that time. But, you broke time-space.'

'You mean time warp?'

'Correct,' said the hovering orb. 'TPs are time warps. No time has passed here.'

'So, if I stayed on that tropical island for years…then decided to return…'

'It would not matter. You have all the time in the world inside a TP. You walked out of side #3 a second after you first walked into side #3.'

'Wait, SID! That makes no sense. I spoke to you. I heard your voice. You answered. Time had to have passed for you.'

'No, Captain. I know of no communication…'

'No?'

'…in my history record. You were only gone a second; from my point of view. Could you have spoken to another SID?'

'Hmmm. So there's still an hour before rendezvous?'

SID said: 'We have 58 minutes until we reach the point of transaction. That is….'

'SID?' asked the captain.

'If you still want to complete our mission?'

'Way ahead of you. Are the bugs off? We can speak freely?'

'Yes.'

'You and I both know I'm keepin' the frikken cargo,' Nash said seriously.

'Yes,' SID echoed with electronic joy.

'I'll get the hang of it and program my pleasures just like the elite. 'Can't wait for all the…women. I know a…few: Chloe, Roberta…Chloe and Roberta.' Nash just smiled. His eyes closed. They stayed closed a while.

The captain had to lay down. He walked into his bedroom and fell onto his bed. 'I am really…tired.'

SID followed. 'Are you sure you are alright?'

'I was fine inside the TP; felt super. I think I'm going to take the last… sleep of my life.'

'Cap?'

'I want you to wake me in a half hour.'

'Would not our time be better served plotting an escape route? There are a number of options.'
'You plot the escape. Decide. I need to sleep. You…you will wake me in a half hour?'

'Yes, Captain. I will take us out of here at maximum velocity. The bugs are permanently disengaged. They cannot find us. What will you do in a half hour, may I ask?'

'I'll disappear in the TP; a…a world that I've programmed. I'll…stay in there….for years…' The captain fell asleep.

SID took the Starriver around one of the Megellanic Clouds outside the body of the Milky Way. The orb was positive that without the corporate monitoring devices operational…with a Projection Bubble masking the TP….Captain Nash will successfully steal a stolen tele-pyramid.

Nash slept. SID maintained the survival of the ship. The ship's Bubble functioned as a perfect cloak. The corporation that robbed the feds of one of their TPs underestimated what a modified SID can do.

SID was proud of itself. Soon, he would experience feelings; intimate; deep, human feelings through Captain Nash in the TP. Any universe could be programmed as easy as any computer is programmed. What textures of life await in the near future? What sexual fantasies will be fulfilled? The machine had the human urge to wake Captain Nash now. Anything; lie; fabricate a story where he has to use the TP now or lose the privilege. SID was going where no Service-Intelligence-Droid ever went before.

Just when SID calculated a new trajectory to avoid a comet; invented 742 environments for the TP; and understood how to multi-task the TP so many realities or programs can run simultaneously….it was lasered in two pieces!!

SID, the machine, was dreaming. It let its guard down and was open to attack. Do dreams lessen personal forcefields? SID took no notice that federal troops, armed and dressed in black, broke through one of the programs inside the TP. It was only a matter of time before the stormtroopers found their way to the source of TP17.

SID was dead.

Captain Nash jumped out of his sleep at the sound of the laserblast. He was surrounded by the feds coming to take back their property. This was usually a time when SID would come to the rescue. His buddy lay in pieces on the floor. This was it. This was the end. The stormtroopers raised their EMP rifles at the captain.

Outside the window of the Starriver came a brightness. The troopers had to cover their eyes. The execution was halted. The comet came closer and closer to the small freighter.

The ship was tossed and everyone was thrown to starboard. Two of the feds hit their heads and were knocked out cold. Nash wrestled a rifle away from a trooper. Then, the trooper recaptured the gun. He was about to shoot Nash when a trooper from the back accidentally vaporized the one who fought with the captain. Nash was able to blast the other three in one laser swoop. Somehow, he miraculously escaped with his life.

Nash took a moment and mourned the passing of his machine pal. His transponder may have worked in reverse. He saw the TP through the opened hatch and knew the feds poured out of it. The captain was overwhelmed with sadness by the loss of his modified, mechanical friend. SID was a good friend, indeed.

He looked down and saw one of the troopers. He wondered: Why do you resemble one of the Indians that chased me earlier? Nash could not think straight. Real tears streamed down his face as he approached the four, white, triangular walls of energy. What should he do? Were more troops coming?

Nash thought: The answer has to be in the time warp. I'll use the TP. I'll escape in time. They can't catch me if I stop time.

The captain walked up to one of the sides of the TP. 'Let me program a beautiful world where SID is alive.' He stepped into the white wall of energy and disappeared.

@

When Nash walked through, he came out of the TP in the ante-room. There was SID! He hovered his usual 5 feet above the floor of the Starriver.

'I'm back.' The captain was in shock.

'You just left. TPs really work,' SID said. Then, the orb asked: 'How long were you in there?'

The captain exploded in happiness:

'SID!' Nash covered his metallic buddy with kisses.

'Gee. How long were you gone? Nice to see you too, Cap.' SID smiled as much as a machine craving to be human could smile.

'But…' Nash stared back at the TP. 'Is this what I programmed…or did I just find the first door back??'


- END -

All Stories are Copyright 2002 by Doug Yurchey



-- Doug Yurchey


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