The Pod: Part 2

2.

The Pod’s Emergence

The Pod, aptly named for its appearance, was first mentioned ten or so years ago, roughly the same time Nano-Particulars had its first legal trouble regarding the face-mask. As the mask was solely an entertainment product, it was obviously lowest on the list of the company’s priorities, but the most anticipated of its products. The Pod emerged fully into consciousness once the funding for the face-mask required reallocation. This new invention boasted masses of promises to the public. In time, it fulfilled more than a few of them.

The Pod, an oblong device raised a bed’s height from the ground on a heavy pedestal, is a three dimensional oval that splits at the middle. One half, connected to its base, is stationary. The other half separates upward on heavy hinges to allow its user entry. There are two sizes; a single, and a double. A single is an economy Pod built for use by one person; the double, built for a couple, or size allowing, up to three.

The patented purpose of this invention was to make home diagnoses and administer treatments for certain high-powered clientele who wished not to visit doctors. The idea however, was protested heavily by the American Medical Association whom felt, that without the aide of a trained medical professional, any diagnostic results could easily be misinterpreted. It was also possible, they decided, that the machines could be too easily tampered, and so the technology was re-purposed.

It was in this re-purposing that the young CEO questioned what an endearing public might want and desire most. The answer; their dreams. It was a genius, elegant, simple, and not at all far-fetched– at least, not anymore. The new nano-tech allowed frequent, easy, and painless installation and extraction, of specific wireless receivers and transmitters in the brain. The wireless nanites would stimulate the body to sleep while keeping a component conscious in a land where anything was possible. And so it went that The Pod became the first technology in history to allow one to harness and control their own dreams.

In the time of man, a recurring theme to capture one’s dreams has emerged. This notion was now real. Hailed as a step-forward in our own personal understanding of desire, the experiences the Pod could provide were limited only by the user’s imagination. Many men, women, even some children, gained a greater insight into things that they otherwise would never have known. Other uses for The Pod appeared.

Apart from entertainment, it could be used as a therapeutic device in mental health facilities, giving families the chance to speak and otherwise visit with those ostensibly disconnected from the world. In fact, because of The Pod’s unique abilities psychotherapists thought it ground-breaking. Many people, incapable of communication for decades or more, began to speak through the dream lands The Pod connected them to. It afforded their family, friends, and doctors insights into their states. Many of them even managed to cope with their deepest fears and most wicked desires in a controlled manner. Some eventually lifted the curses placed upon themselves unwittingly.

Conversely, the technology was not perfect– or perhaps in the last vein, was built on a loose, moral ground that said each man or woman’s dreams would bring them peace. It is untrue, of course, for there will always be those whose dreams, desires even, are the very definition of nightmares. True as it is that many of these dream-demons were slain with the aide of family and friends, those whose minds had been haggard, worn far too long, are even in their dreams, the victims of phantoms. They are unresponsive, catatonic, emotionless. Even after their dream-demons, whatever they were for each, were slain in proverbial battles, they remained uncured.

And so history deviates to modernity.

For a span of time all of these things came to pass. Unfortunately, so too has that time passed. In the depths of the Pod’s programming, there was a fatal error. As alluded, there is in fact a rhyme and reason to the Pods’ function: One whom wishes to enter the dreamland must enter the Pod. Once inside, it closes you in. A matter of mechanical noises will sound before a bright light moves over your body. It stops on the head, flares for a moment, then shuts off. It is a medical scanning system, designed to tell specific nanites what to repair; this is the medical facet of the system. Indeed, there are massive health benefits to the Pod. (They were, after all, designed as medical devices.) The flare of bright-light is the release of the bots into the tissues of the brain.

There is no pain involved, and the flare has been suggested to be pleasantly associated with the experiences of the device. It hones one’s senses for the pleasure that awaits. However, I digress. The true purpose of this explanation is a deeper understanding of the terror that awaited us all. We overlooked it. Caught so boldly by the beauty and peace that dreams bring, we were asleep to unknowable horrors that lurked in shadow.

It was first reported a month ago; a machine had malfunctioned, and in the removal of the nano-bot phase, the light had flared much too brightly. An old man within the pod, slaying wild beasts (a fantasy lived out countless times through this technology) awoke abruptly. The machine smoked, sparked. The man ran for his life. What happened next was nothing less than a spectacle of terror.

The machine, shook and rumbled before the light flared once more. The Pod’s top flew open, shattered its steel hinges, and emitted a swarm of bots. They stood before the man with shifting shapes. Billions of particle-sized robots, for no apparent reason, took the appearance of the ghastly beast the man had done battle with. The massive, two-headed demon, hued in the ever-amalgamated opaqueness of the bots bared three sets of razor sharp nestled in each of its three heads. The bots, in defiance to their programming, presented this man with a perfect apparition of the beast he’d attempted to slain. It raised a long, flesh-torn arm with a hand of sharp claws. With a single swipe, it lopped the man in two.

This event, while the first, was not the last. Even after the demon mutilated the man, it continued out the door and into the street. It ravaged two passersby who jested at its odd, statuesque appearance, causing the street-walkers to flee in terror.

The demon still walks the Earth, though I have not personally seen it. Good that I haven’t! I would freeze in terror, slain by its absent, cold blood. However, it is not the only shape-shifting, plague-mass that walks the earth. At least a dozen more have been confirmed; everything from demons to lumbering dinosaurs. They are the machinations of valiant, terrified minds, created by those whom so wished to be masters of their own dreams as to slay dragons of myth, or hunt mighty beasts that could topple buildings, or even lead conquests of Spaniards against Mayan tribesmen. All of these apparitions have been confirmed, as well as others of more “refined” dreamers.

Reports of Einstein walking about spouting nonsensical equations have been confirmed in the triplet. (No doubt, his ignorance is drawn from the limits of not only his programming, but the mind of his dreamer.) There are sirens who, in defiance to reason, lure people over only to have their songs never end. New harlots seek out patrons, but having been dreamed by the Rippers of the world, wish not to engage in intercourse, instead rob and murder.

It is a dreadful, terrifying time, but there is a plan in the works. I can say little until it is finished, or else fall to the demons I attempt to slay.

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Short Story: The Power

The Power

Harlan Mackie was the thirty-five year old front-man for Twisted Ballistix, a band that had already seen its hay-day and obligatory fifteen minutes of fame. Like Most, Harlan and the rest of the group had squandered their fame in their youthful lust for money, drugs, and women. Now, pushing forty, they’d done and seen more than most, and tired of the scene. But none of Ballistix was quite so burnt out as “Mac” Mackie.

He’d done all of the things the others had and then some; blown cash, toured foreign countries and waters, and soiled his share of women. Through it all, he’d aged each day with more weariness than the last. Long before Ballistix was featured in No Moss, the counter-culture music rag that dribbled on everyone’s reputation, he’d seen their decline on the horizon. Only Mac predicted their shift from 80’s glam-rock to blues-inspired jams and graveled crooning would see their popularity wane. Even when it did, he was the only one to mind– maybe, to notice.

While Shift (the drummer), John, and Jake, (bass-guitarist and guitarist respectively) had taken to the change with ease, Mac still clung to the delusions of the high vocals of the Glam-era. His voice begged to differ, had dropped octaves since his youth. He knew what was happening, couldn’t stop it with all the fame in the world; he was getting old, washed up.

He sat in the green room of the Tower-Blade theater in Chicago, hometown of the Blues. The others of the group had already left for the side-stage, there gear waiting for them on-stage. Mac knew the way there without having to be directed. They’d played Tower-Blade twice before, once during the glam-era, and once immediately following Ballistix’s reincarnation. He’d been left to his warm-ups, as usual, given privacy to psych himself up.

Instead, he psyched himself out. He hunched over the lighted bureau back-stage to stare at himself in the mirror. His eyes were deep purple, baggy. His long-hair, already peppered gray, was ratty from more restless nights than he cared to recall. There was nothing more to be done about it, he was finished, through– not even willing to finish out the Tower-Blade gig. Don Mclean had been right; there was a day when the music died, even if Mac couldn’t quite place it anymore.

He tore a scrap of paper from a pad, scrawled over it. The words themselves weren’t important, but the gist was that he was finished, gone. He grabbed a roll of duct-tape from a road-kit, tore off a strip, slapped it atop the note and smacked them both against the mirror. He grabbed his leather jacket, long a staple of his life– even before the Glam-era of eye-liner and finger-less gloves that had accompanied it and helped to make him a star.

He hesitated. He wasn’t a star anymore. He was a has-been, a burnt-out caricature of himself that he doubted anyone would miss. The music was gone. What else could matter to him?

He tossed the jacket over the back of a chair, turned away. He made it to the door before a deep baritone called out to him.

“’Ey Mac, you forgot your jacket.”

Mac whirled ’round, petrified at the lanky figure of a black man, roughly his age. Mac blinked twice. His mind swam. If he’d been stoned, he’d’ve sworn he was hallucinating the legend of John Robertson, Blues-God of Chicago that’d been one of the tour-de-force performers during the genre’s creation.

He took a few steps over room, his black suit-jacket and tie pressed and loose beneath black fedora. He had the deep-set eyes of Robertson, even the gravelly baritone, but it couldn’t have been him– Robertson’d been dead for thirty years, maybe more. He’d had a mishap with an especially potent strand of Heroin, made it to the hospital just in time to die in the ER. Everyone one that’d played the Tower-Blade– indeed, anyone that played the Blues– knew of Robertson’s death. The OD’d started in this very room, at an after-party for one of Robertson’s “Welcome Home” performances. It was the last time Tower-Blade had let anyone throw after-parties in the building.

Even so, the very reflection of Robertson in his prime seemed to make its way toward Mac. The latter’s jaw was slacked above his stony muscles and bones. Robertson extended a hand to the leather jacket, lifted it off the chair, presented it to Mac.

“Can’ go on without’cha your threads, man,” he said. The Robertson look-alike– as it had to have been– met Mac’s eyes, “You ain’t lookin’ so hot, Mac-Knife. What’s the digs?”

Mac’s mouth closed just enough for him to shake his head, “You… You’re…”

“Dead?” He asked under the brim of his fedora. He laid the jacket back over the chair, “Yeah, I s’pose I am ’bout now. What is this, ninety-eight?”

“Oh-three,” Mac said.

“Damn,” Robertson said as he removed his fedora, began to traipse the room with an upward gaze. “The new millennium. Never thought I’d see it.”

Mac blinked, “You didn’t. You were dead in seventy-three. OD’d in…”

Robertson met his eyes again. His words were slow, a serious rise to one of his brows, “In this very room.”

“You’re a… a ghost then, right?” Mac said, in disbelief of his own words.

Robertson’s signature, crooked grin appeared for a moment. He put a long, chocolate finger to his lip, looked to the floor as he stepped over to Mac’s chair. His hand fell to the chair-back, and he crossed his feet in a lean, began to gesture widely, then in small sweeps, with the hat in his other hand.

“Whad’ya know about science, Mac-Knife? Physics, Biology, space-time ‘n all that?”

Mac shrugged, shook his head, too torn between disbelief and utter shock. Robertson straightened enough to step past the chair, set his hat at the bureau in front of it, then lean against its side with a hand in the pocket of chinos, the jacket draped around it.

His other hand illustrated as he explained, “Ya’ see Mac, there’re these moments in time, in our lives, where we just sorta’ fit into place. Physicists call this a Nexus, it’s a point where a bunch of things coalesce– sort’a snow-ball together, to roll down hill in one big conglomeration together.”

Mac blinked, swallowed, “Uh… okay.”

“I can see your confused, but I’ll simplify it for ya’,” he drew the other hand from his pocket, gestured wide to the room. “There’s three events in my life that occurred in this room, that changed its course forever. Bein’ the man that I was, it also changed history. At each’a those events, you can trace that snowball’s path through history to the present, through all the people that were effected through me– My death was one’uv ’em.” He dropped the extra hand again, “Now, the other two, were quite a bit more subtle. They weren’t the kind of thing you see too easily, ‘less you know what to look for.”

Robertson hesitated, slid his other hand in his pocket, scratched at a heel with the opposite foot.

“Now listen close, Mac-Knife, ’cause one’a these concerns you directly, and the other’ll make you understand why. The first, is somethin’ that’s brought me here to ‘ya today.” Mac gave a small blink as if prepared for Robertson to continue. He drew his left hand from his pocket, began to gesture between them, “Good. You’ll be needin’ that curiosity.”

He went silent, sank into memory that brought on an old vernacular that immediately swept Mac into the past with it. Robertson began, “Ya’ see, I was a Blues-man, one’a the first. I knew all the other boys when they were the firsts too. Me ‘n the Kings, Muddy, and John Lee, and more than you could name; we was the soul– the heart of a poor-folk taught all their lives they wasn’t worth nothin more’n the sweat on their brow. But ya’ see, we disagreed with that notion, ‘n like the ancient troubadours, we didn’t know nothin’ more than to sing about it with screams ‘n cries from the only instruments that knew it better than us.”

Mac suddenly felt the sweat bead on his brow, heard the distant sounds of wailing guitars that cried out over the throaty shouts of young blues-men trying to find their place in the world.

As if Robertson felt it too, he commented to the effect, “Ya’ see, thing is, back in them days, we didn’t have a place. Nobody’d heard’a the blues, and no-one gave a thought to the poor-folk ‘less they’d had to step over ’em in the street. ‘N all of sudden, here we were– ‘fore the Brits and their invasion, the rock-pop scene, hell, even ol’ Chuck ‘n his duck-walkin’– screamin’ for someone to help us find our place in the world.”

Mac finally found his words over the sounds of past Blues-men that wailed in his head, “But you’re a legend, John. You always were.”

Robertson gave a giggly laugh, his pearly whites bright as ever in his brown mug, “Maybe I was, but no one starts out that way, Mac-Knife. Hell, you know that better’n anyone. Me ‘n the boys? We was trash, not fit to shine the shoes’a the folks we made rich with our suff’rin’.” He nodded to himself with a look at his feet, “Hmm… yeah. Yeah. That’s what we was. ‘N you see, that’s where the first of the events’a my life comes to play. Year was… uh.. ’63, I believe,” he did a mental calculation. “Forty-years to the day, if I’m not mistaken.”

Mac knew the year, “’63? That was right before all the marches and protests.”

Robertson was pleased, “Tha’s right. One’a the first times black-folk rose together, said they wasn’t gonna’ take it anymore. ‘N you know what happened here, that night?”

Max shook his head, “I know you were here.”

Robertson’s brow gave a buck, “I was. ‘N I wasn’t.” He removed both hands from his pocket, “Ya’ see, we was just workin’ on carvin’ ourselves out a spot in the world when it went ‘n got crazy on us. All’uva sudden, people were risin’ in the streets, throwin’ their own cries and pleas. We didn’ think they needed us no more. Or at least… I didn’t.” He put a finger to his mouth again, waggled it outward for a few turns, “Nah, I was wrong ’bout that. ‘N I knew it then. Ya’ see, me ‘n one’a my guys– cat by the name of Tempo-Jones– called ‘im Jonesy in those days– had a sit before the show. ‘N all we could hear in the background was the roarin’a the crowd.”

Mac heard it too. It wasn’t in his head this time, it was the audience waiting for Ballistix to take the stage, start a night of screaming blues. Mac shuddered, ready to bolt.

Robertson held him in place with a smile, “Yeah, that was how I felt. See, I didn’ think then, what I know now: It takes a legend to lead a crowd, be their… their representative. ‘N the best man to do that’s the one that can be heard over their own roar to scream for ’em.”

Mac’s eyes narrowed, “I don’t understand.”

Robertson nodded, “I ‘spect not, but you will.” He slid his hands back into his pockets, wiggled a foot along the heel of his wayfarer, “It was ten years to the day that I shot-up a dose a dope that made me soar so high I didn’t come back down. Thirty-years to the day, as it is now. Those are two’a three events that I was talkin’ about. The first, ‘case you missed it, was me realizin’ that the people needed me to cry out for ’em. The last, was me havin’ done my job. The Brits’d already invaded. Chicago was a Blues town. ‘N the poor, black-folk’d had their say ‘n now people were listenin.’ They didn’ need me no more, ‘n I didn’ need to be creatin’ what me ‘n the boy’s’d created anymore. I was finished with the world, and it in turn’d finished with me.”

Mac shook his head, “That’s not true, John. People still love you. You’re still a legend. Your work still affects people, it changed the world.”

Robertson waggled his finger at Mac with a smile, “See, now you’re catchin’ on, boy. You’re getting’ there, but you’re not there yet. Ya’ see, cats like me, we got somethin’ more in our veins– more’n blood, more’n soul, more than anything you can think to name. I always called it “The Power.” The power to get up on that stage, ‘n wail the blues with my git-box, ‘n echo the cries’a of the people for them– ‘n I did it louder’n meaner than any other man could’a.”

Mac nodded, “That’s what I mean. You are a legend. The people still need you.”

“As an icon, a legend,” Robertson agreed. “That’s how they need me now.” He scratched at a cheek, presented a few fingers through the air as he explained, “’Ya see, that third event that I was tellin’ ya ’bout? That’s what’s happenin’ right now, right here.” Mac squinted at him. Robertson cocked his head to one side, examined him for a minute. “Lem’me ask you somethin’ Mac-Knife; in all the years you been performin’ how many times you lost time? Been so in the groove you ain’t sure where it ends and you begin? I’d wager it’s more’n you know.”

Mac looked to the floor, thought about it. His eyes returned to Robertson’s with a shake of his head and a shrug, “Yeah, so? That’s what we do, innit? We try to get lost in that groove, take everyone with us?”

Robertson’s smiled weighted his cocked head further to the side, “Yep. You’re right.”

“So, what’s your point?”

Robertson’s head kept its tilt, but his arms crossed and his eyes gleamed, “You know the power I was talkin’ about. I know you do. We all do. That’s why we’re in this business.” Mac made a half nod, as if to affirm Robertson’s words. “And you know, that power, it’s somethin’ none of us can explain. Somethin’ we don’t quite control. It just works through us. Works us over sometimes, right?” Again, Mac nodded. Robertson’s head straightened, “It was ’71, two years before I collapsed from that shot’a dope, that I was leanin’ in the very spot I’m in now. I was ramped up for a gig, ready to scream the blues, when the power overtook me. It was better’n any dope I’d ever had, ‘n I suddenly found myself here, with you, with all’a the knowledge I’d ever need to make my point– like I’d lived more’n forty years in seconds.”

Mac shook his head, confounded, “No, that can’t be. You’ve been dead … and this… I just, I don’t understand.”

Robertson smiled, “This is one’a them Nexus points, Mac.” He finally straightened from the bureau, “Ya’ see, I’m bound to give up my power at some point. No man on this earth can defeat death. He’s a miserable bastard that hunts us down no matter how long it takes ‘im. But the kind’a power I got, the kind you’re gonna’ have; it can’t just appear. It’s gotta’ be handed over.”

Robertson stepped over to Mac. He stepped back on instinct, “No, I’m done. I’m leaving.”

The old blues man met his eyes, “Tell me what’s happening in your world. War, right? Lot’s’a poverty? The sick ‘n dying screamin’ out for someone to listen? Someone to echo, loud as they can, so the others can hear? To use their power for good? Isn’t that why you got in this game? To be the Tom-Cat, loved by all ’cause’a the screamin’ you did for ’em while they were screamin’ for you?”

Mac grit his teeth. He wasn’t sure why he’d gotten into it anymore. For that matter, he wasn’t sure of much, except that he couldn’t keep living as husk, a has-been, a burn out.

Robertson lifted his hand, placed it on Mac’s shoulder, “All you been lookin’ for’s a way outta’ your predicament. ‘N now you have it. Sing the blues, ‘n feel it.” He jabbed a finger into Mac’s chest, “Feel it. If not for you, then for the people that need to be heard. You’ll be a legend. One the world needs. You’ll change history, just like I did. Like the boys did with me. All you gotta’ do’s accept the offer.”

Mac steeled himself with a deep breath; everything Robertson had said, everything he’d felt himself, all of his worries and cares seemed to hinge on his answer now. It was as though he’d been shown the way to revival, all he had to do was take the steps along its path. He wasn’t sure he could. But he wasn’t sure he could turn it down either.

He bit at his lips, took a deep breath, “What do I do?”

Robertson smiled, lowered his hand, “Well, that’s the question, ain’t it?” He turned around slowly to grab his hat, “We all asked it then; what do we do to find our place, our way? Truth is, we had to carve it out. ‘N we did.” He lifted Mac’s jacket from the chair, “I expect, like we did, you’ll figure it out. You just gotta’ get there.” He handed it over, “Don’t forget your jacket, Mac.”

He extended an apprehensive hand, retrieved the jacket from Robertson, their eyes locked, “Wh-what if I can’t do it?”

“My momma’ always said, ya’ never know ’til ‘ya try.” He glanced sideways with a bittersweet look, returned his eyes to Mac’s, “I kept that in my heart, followed it all my life. Who knows– maybe you can too.”

He lifted his hat to Mac’s chest, handed it over, and stepped away. Mac whirled to follow him, “Wait! John! How do I do it?”

Robertson was halfway across the room, smoky and transparent looking. He glanced back with a crooked smile, tipped an invisible hat forward, and disappeared.

“Mac?” A voice called behind him; it was the equally aged figure of Jake, his Paul around his neck, waiting to be plugged into scream. He gripped it in one hand beneath a plectrum, “You warmed up?”

Mac stared for a second, then looked to the hat, “Y-Yeah. I’m coming.”

Jake squinted at him, “Where’d you get the hat?”

Mac was breathless, “John Robertson.”

Jake snorted, “Pft, yeah, alright joker. C’mon, we gotta’ show to play.”

Mac slipped into the leather jacket, took a deep breath, then set the hat atop his head. A rush of power floored him, coursed through his veins as his ears honed in on the sounds of the distant crowd. He suddenly understood. He reached forward, tore the note off the mirror, balled it up, and tossed it away. He turned for the stage, disappeared from Tower-Blade’s green room.

Short Story: The Hub of the Wheel

The Hub of the Wheel

The first moments of the great epoch of were witnessed by one being and one being only; I. In the depths of reality, amid the finite but innumerable universes, and beyond the ten dimensions, do I dwell. I am the hub of a wheel of never-ending, cyclical, energy conversion. For those that do not understand, they will soon enough.

In the vast infinities of which I occupy, there are but two orientations with which to build reality and all within it: positive and negative. I am that which cleanses these orientations– returns them to their original bearing, hereto called polarity. My ever-present, omnipotent arms, stretch and unfurl beneath all that is, was, and ever shall-be. They ooze cleansed polarities to form the fabric of all existence.

I’ve no need nor fear of life nor death, for I am that which turns them upon themselves. As life is born unto each universe in the cosmoses, and carries on its futile, inexorable existences, their polarities shift. They become tainted with inverse charge. As those that live must inevitably expire, they must also be cleansed. I devour them whole, digest them with purifying acids that return their parts’ polarity to the universe once their forms and consciousness have decayed– passed, beyond eternity’s reach. These exchanges ensure my eternal existence, for I am and am not. I exist, but am beyond existence, surpass it. I am the beating heart of all reality, and its inevitable vacuum of death; that which both stays and balances its hand. For I am all that is, was, or ever shall-be.

The wheel that turns for eternity, and of which I am but the central part, is that of which I shall speak. The wheel is a principle of life, necessary to the process of living, dying and death, and the re-birth of matter, energy. The particles, waves, decaying and emerging organic matter, are to their natural inclinations and excreted once more in diminished quantities upon ever-expanding planes of reality.

But take heed this warning; do not mistake my explanations, nor my eternal existence for arrogance or foolishness. I speak the turning of the wheel upon its bearings as the hub that keep it steady upon itself. I balanced it so that it may spin forever more without fear of it coming of its lugs. This process, ingrained in me by the very fact of existence, must be carried out by one who is chosen for the greatest burden of responsibility.

As for my origins, I can tell little, nor do I remember much. Blinked into being at the very microcosm before reality’s birth, and before time, space, or combination thereof was conjured. I do not deal in uncertainties, and for those whom wish absolution for theology or theories, I cannot provide it. I am. There are no others. I was drawn from nothingness into the void. It was there that I begin, to ever-more balance the wheel as it began its first phase of turns. As time grew, I hungered, and so I feasted on the ever present imbalance on polarity requires. When I was full, I excreted the cleansed forces. I knew then that it was for these reasons alone that I was brought forth.

What began at my emergence will last eternities longer than any life, universe, or space itself. Perhaps one day, an endless void will expand ever outward; growing, perhaps, from the very bearings the wheel turns upon until a fire swallows all, myself included. For now, there is no smoke, no spark, and in that there may never be– For the Wheel is well-oiled, and I balance it well.

I am all that is, was and ever shall be. I am the hub of the wheel who shall know nothing else, but the eternal procession of polarity– of each division of existence, oriented as it is, then swallowed by my limitless arms, to spewn forth once more into reality.

Yes, it is I who keeps the wheel spinning, makes possible the actions of a deftly physical and predictable fabric of time and space. Not god am I, nor man, nor any other of the countless species which identify themselves. For I am the hub of the wheel; the perpetual motivator of its spin, a tree of reality whose roots draw sustenance from every mathematical position, drawn about and combined, in the billions of universes and beyond. I am the keeper of all that is, was, and ever shall be, for I am the hub of the wheel.

Dedicated to Tony Jay.

First Short Story: Forgetting the Moral

This will be presented in two parts. Today is part one. Next week is part two. Simple enough, right? Enjoy!

 

Forgetting the Moral

Part one

The Survivors

Our species’ cultural history has varied greatly through the passage of time, as have our ideologies. Geography has determined this, and as the human race has evolved over time, brought upon us poorly-divided arguments. The truth of this bears repeating, for in our own time we have learned to meld technology with dangerously conflicting ideologies. We have harvested the atom, the wave-particle, and the quantum particle; perfected nuclear dispersal, implementation, and eradication, all whilst forgetting the value of peace.

The severity of this has led humanity to the situation it is in. Our leaders, though meant to speak for us, willfully fought against our cries. But perhaps it would be best explain what led humanity to this predicament first.

Somewhere nearer or farther than two-hundred years ago, we discovered the atom. That is; we were able to see it with immaculate instruments, scrutinized and perfected since the time of the great Galileo. Where he wished to view the vastness outward, we wished to turn inward. To look upon that which has so gracefully eluded us, and is beyond the ranges of the most powerful microscopes.

And so we devised a quantum-nuclear microscope. Fusion powered and capable of reaching views in the billions of times, we looked down upon the minutiae with an awe found anew. But Our devious nature was bound to catch up with us. With this newly discovered subatomic sight, we began to experiment with the basic building blocks of all reality. And licking quantum physics by discerning the state of the universe at the Big Bang, created new technologies, elements, and a number of other fascinating advances. We agonized upon the most crucial of subjects, then perfected particle transportation.

This transportation, though limited in its range at first, went into wide-spread use. The first of the travelers through this strangeness, a feline aptly named Schrodinger, (or perhaps ironically, as this test made obsolete the man’s theories) was transported from one laboratory in Massachusetts, to another thousands of miles away in Berkeley, California. The trip itself lasted only six seconds; from the transporter firing at M.I.T to the other powering down at U.C.L.A.

But what of those who felt the machine might tear the fabric of time, sundering particles, and thus the universe itself? Naysayers, they were called. And the others, worried there were far too many, unpredictable circumstances might disrupt the transport? They were wrong. As were those that said the poor animal would be turned outside-in upon arrival– they and their riled activist groups.

Science moves ever forward, yet again a day had come for it to show that eternal persistence. It was magnificent, marvelous. Though the public’s lack of knowledge into new physics does not permit a proper explanation, it was perfect in its function, and after an overhaul, in its form.

The transporters were manufactured with swiftness. New industries sprang up to accommodate them, others died out. The automobile was obsolete, as were planes, trains, and all other manner of transportation. So it went that particle physics became the aspiration for many, new minds. From cooks, to welders, and all in between, the sole occupation became programming assorted machines to the specifics of the clientele ordering it. The new technology became as common as the television, more so even through it boundless applications.

It was a beautiful time, it seemed. Science had clutched so tightly on the consciousness of man. As expected, it caused many an outcry from the faithful. However, in time each renounced their apprehension, in danger of being left behind in a new golden age.

Such great detail of this achievement has been imparted, but only because it was through this that we humans lost our true sense of right and wrong. In truth, none saw it that way– it is the folly of man that we become myopic in the sense of great pains and pleasures. We played with the fabric of our reality, and in turn were so fascinated with it, we wished to stretch it to our will– morph it into some facade of a canvas with which to paint.

Much of what came next has been lost, but enough is known to relay the effects.

Two decades after the wondrous new transporters were constructed, distributed, and subsequently marveled upon; a new imperceptibility was encountered. Fields became stagnant, industries threatened. Most of the learned were satisfied to begin research, (and not long after, production) of quantum multiprocessors. Once again these inventions were hailed as a venturous step forward, a great marveling of humankind. True to effect, they were bought and sold unscrupulously.

But it was in the first new industry that pioneers had been born. These pioneers, having made unimaginable fortunes in transporter technologies, saw the new computational industry as merely a footnote. In keeping with human behavior, they sought other, more profitable applications. There they found the epitaph to Earth’s story.

Several, major manufacturers and military organizations, under the false pretense that someday we would fear militant invasion by extraterrestrials, developed the Particle Bomb. The specifics of its construction were kept secret– unlike the transporter machines, a renowned story of mankind. But it was later tested upon a plot of land in Nevada. It was immediately apparent that something was terribly wrong with this new technology.

Worldwide organizations of peace lobbied for its destruction, pled for disarmament with our allies, whom vowed immediate conflict were the weapons not destroyed. Still the tests continued unabated, and soon their disastrous effects were seen by all.

It seemed an impossible thing to hide from the public’s eye: a portion of the Mojave desert, inhabited only by those few beasts that can live comfortably in such a clime, simply disappeared. The bombs differed so completely from our other weapons as to make Nuclear Fission primitive by comparison. Where an atomic or nuclear weapon exploded, leaving behind radiation, these bombs achieved critical mass. There, their vibrations triggered isolated, earthquake-like tremors. But what was there in place of cracking earth? The horrifying ripping of the seams that held together the fabric of space and time. Whole swaths of reality disappeared, the spans varied by yield.

It was not destruction. It was eradication. To see the Mojave afterward would leave one as empty as it is. The land rises and falls with normality. Then, isolated nothingness– a veritable black hole in the desert without the physical gravity to tear the shattered heart asunder. What a dreadful sight!

Once revealed to the other countries, they offered us an ultimatum; destruction of the bombs, or war. It was challenged, cast aside by the shortsighted leaders whom fought against us. Chaos ensued. The coming wars were swift, bloodshed a given. Those against their enemies equally offered their citizens safe-haven. But a coalition was formed, nuclear weapons of old reintroduced. By war’s end, the whole of North America had become incurably irradiated– but not without a moment’s revenge.

The particle bombs were dropped in clusters, disintegrating masses of Europe and Asia. Beautiful, timeless, mountains; serene brooks and fields; even the occasional, drab beauty of human habitation was cut-clean from existence as though that particular part of the universe had never fully formed. When the dust settled, all were eerily silent.

To tell of the rest would introduce far too many uncertainties, opinions, and speculation. Most of us, the Survivors, have wandered out and around the voids and radiation zones for so long our minds have left sanity behind. Those few who’ve retained that precious commodity have devised new aims for the particle technology: We shall leave this hallowed world, find a place to start anew. Cunningly devised ships, in only a few years time, will transport us to a new world to Terra-form it. One, perhaps, where we may finally learn to co-exist peacefully. Only one thing is certain now; where we go from here, only time may tell.