Time

Time

A Story by Al R. Arce
"

Inspired by ELO's album, Time, this is Science Fiction story of love and the triumph of the human soul over worlds separated by the ultimate obstacle, time.

"

Ticket to the Moon

 

It was a Sunday evening.  Ben was with his buddies drinking at the beer garden.  As usual, the news was on the only TV in the joint.

 

“The Super Chicken III, piloted by Ben Shoecroft and Fred Gorrell, became the first balloon to ever make a nonstop crossing of the United States. The 2,515 mile journey from Costa Mesa, California to Blackbeard Island in Georgia, took 55 hours and 25 minutes to complete.”

 

"Private Rodriguez" A sergeant shouted from the entrance of the beer garden.

 

Ben stood up and walked towards him swiftly. 

 

Before he could answer him, the sergeant continued, "CO wants to see you ASAP. I'll take you to him now."

 

It was a rainy, muggy night.  The tight confines of the Spartan jeep were no comfort  for the fear of turning over on a curve as the sergeant drove it in controlled recklessness.   Once they arrived at HQ, Ben waited for the sergeant orders. 

 

"You go in alone kid.  Whatever will be said in there is for your ears only." 

 

As Ben stepped down from the jeep, the sergeant took off like a bat out of hell.  He stood in front of the door.  Cleaned his muddy boots as best he could.  Yet before he could knock on the door, a voice from the inside ordered, "Come in Private Rodriguez.  I haven't got all night."

 

Major Wood was idolized by his troops.  A veteran of three tours in Vietnam, he was a hard disciplinarian, but he cared about his men.  Instead of eating with the officers, he sat with the troops.  He joked with them. Yet he had the uncanny ability to kick a soldier in the a*s and his Corcoran boot would still hold its spit shine as it came out of the soldier’s a*s.

 

"Son" He said.  "No need to salute.  Just sit down and share this bourbon with me.  You are just about to go somewhere.  I don't know where it is, nor why you are going, but something tells me it's some big s**t..." 

 

 

A few weeks earlier, Ben was sitting with his girlfriend, Julie, in the couch of her family's living room.  Although they'd been dating for a few months, her Dad still did not allow any liberties to the couple.  She was just sixteen, while he had just graduated from high school and was waiting for his shipment day to basic training.  As it was in those days, only one TV and in the evening, it belonged to Dad.  The news was the same in all three channels.  The inauguration of President Reagan.

 

"It's official!"  Julie's Dad said.  "A c-rated actor in the White House.  Now we'll really know when The President's lying!"

 

"He's old.  Maybe he'll be wise!" Ben replied.

 

"No one from California can be wise!  Living in earthquake country..."  Julie's Dad grunted as he got up to get a beer from the fridge.

 

On their one moment of privacy, Julie leaned towards Ben and whispered, "It's not fair.  Destiny puts us together, only to take us apart."

 

"Don't worry babe."  Comforted Ben.  "It'll be just a few months and then I'll come back for you."

 

"You know Dad will never allow it!  I have to finish High School!" She anguished.

 

"And you will!  With me by your side!

 

 

Before they met, both had difficult childhoods.  Ben was not the school type, and always got in trouble as he was prey to his own impulses.  Meanwhile, Julie's household was anything but a nurturing environment.  There was always turmoil from which she sought constant escape.  Both kids did what most kids did in the early eighties:  drinking, smoking, stealing, sex and the occasional joint.  Yet somehow, when they met, something clicked.  They found comfort in each other.  There was peace, founded in common understanding of their feelings.  His parents were quite accommodating to their relationship.  They had seen how it had changed their son.  On the other hand, her Dad oversaw every detail of his daughter's life.  He wanted a better life for her, no matter the cost.  He saw Ben as a threat.


Their romance became intense.  Rooted deeply within their essence.  They spent hours on the phone.  Sometimes not speaking a word.  Just feeling each other's presence.  Not being by each other was like not being able to breathe.  In such a short time, they had become one.  Leaving their vices behind.  Just trying to be better for each other.

 

 

The night before Ben was to leave for Basic Training, he spent it at Julie’s house.  Julie’s sister, Sarah, was at a friend’s house, while Julie’s Dad was at the phone in a somewhat heated conversation.

 

"Why do you have to leave?" Calmly cried Julie.

 

"Sweetheart, you need not to worry!  It's not like there is a war out there!  Besides, what can happen to a communications specialist?"  Ben replied.

 

“Julie!” Her Dad yelled.  “I have to go to fix a damm Caterpillar in the I-70 project.  They don’t want to wait till tomorrow!  Ben, you’ll have to go so finish up quickly.”  Without thinking much of it, he got in his El Camino, and got hastily on his way.

 

"Ben…" Julie whispered.  "You rescued me from my night.  Across the darkness I see your face.   Now, You'll disappear without a trace.  You brought me here to you.  But when you come back, will you take me back?"

 

"I will only be away for awhile!  We will always have each other." Ben said while interlacing his fingers through her silky hair.

 

They slowly embraced. They kissed with passionate devotion.  They wanted to cherish every second of the occasion.  Their breaths slowly exploring ever so deeply into their secrets.  Skin aroused in anticipation. Their will, weakening as their senses overwhelmed them.  The night was finally theirs.  The clock struck midnight.  There was no rush…

 

 

Ben and Julie were hanging strong.  Letters and phone calls were abounding.  Though physically separated, their cores were still intertwined.  The plans of Julie leaving early to be with Ben went down the drain when her Dad convinced her to finish High School.  Still they managed.  In the few days he would enjoy leave.  He would fly to her.  As she had turned 17, there was no power that would keep her away from him.  Their love had evolved.  When they were together they were one, as if time had no meaning, no quiver.  It was intense, yet collected.  Especially with her.  They enjoyed themselves as if they were little kids.  Somehow, to Ben, Julie looked more beautiful than ever.  He kept asking her what she had done: hair, makeup, etc.  The answer was always the same!  It is you who makes me beautiful!  The last day of leave he took her to the State Fair and had their fortune read by a Gypsy woman named Sonya.                                

“Your love will have no boundaries.  It shall cross the plains of existence.  It shall change the world…”   the fortune teller told them while being in somewhat of a trance…                         As with every goodbye this one brought greater affliction.  Each time, Ben would embrace her tenderly, and faintly murmur in her ear: "Hold on tight to our dream.  When you feel your heart is breaking.  When you get sick of trying.  When you see the shadows falling.  Just hold on tight to our dream."  In just a few weeks he would know what his home base would be and everything would be different. 

 

 

It was still Sunday night and raining.  Ben had hastily prepared his duffle bag and was waiting transport in the barracks.  He knew he had but a few moments.  He had to call Julie.  As he walked to it, the light from the public phone booth seemed like a beacon of light guiding him through the storm. 

Moon, PA was his destination.  The location of abandoned Nike Missile Site PI-71, which was a battery of Nike Hercules surface-to-air missiles, used by US armed forces for high " and medium-altitude air defense during the height of the Cold War.   He knew nothing else, other than the fact that he could not communicate with anyone about the visit, nor while at the site.

 

He called Julie.  The phone rang endlessly.  He knew it was late and everyone would be asleep.  Yet he tried and tried again.  Oh how he wished she had gotten that answering machine he told her to!  And while the phone kept ringing forever more, his thoughts where running wild...


I've got a ticket to Moon.  I’ll be leaving here any time soon.  Yeah, I’ve got a ticket to the moon!  But I'd rather see the sunrise in your eyes.  Got a ticket to the moon!  I'll be rising high above the earth so soon, and the tears I cry might turn into the rain that gently falls upon your window...  You'll  never know.  A ticket to the moon!  Flight leaves here today from hangar two.  As the minutes go by, what should I do?    I'll fly high through a troubled sky, up to an unknown shining bright, oh, no! I had no choice, what more can I say?  I'm on my way...

 

He was on the plane.  Flying high above.  Soaring madly through the mysteries that come.  Wondering sadly if the ways that led him here could turn around so he would see her there...  Standing there (and he would see her there, waiting...)


Twilight

 

By 1981, Nike Missile Sites had all been decommissioned.  Thus, as Ben saw the place, he wondered for what possible reason he would be there.  The launch site seemed deserted.  Yet the facilities seemed maintained still.  The Integrated Fire Control building definitely showed signs of life...  That's where he was taken. 

 

"Welcome to Coraopolis, former home of the Duquesne Grays if anyone ever remembers!"

 

Captain Tandy was rather short but brawny in build.  Of pleasant demeanor, he did not seemed to fit his surroundings.  The image of a new Army within the canvas of the Cold War.  He guided Ben to the barracks that he would call home for the next few days.  As they entered the building, Ben asked, "Where is everyone else?"

 

"There is no one else!  It's just you private.  We have all been waiting for your arrival.  You are the reason we have all been here since the beginning.  Now that you are here,  we will all be able to go back home.  Everyone but you that is..."  Captain Tandy answered with a grim on his face.

 

"What do you mean, Sir?"  Ben asked.

 

"Private, in a few days you will either make history, or be history.  Either way after all is done, we'll finally get to go home.  But enough talk!  You've had a long 48 hours and tomorrow you'll be swamped with information." Captain Tandy said as he was walking out the door.

 

"Sir!" Ben stopped him.  "How long have you all been here?"

 

"Five years, six months and eleven days."

 

"Why me?" Ben again asked as the Captain had renewed his exit.

 

"Private, no one knows.  Nobody.  We only know it had to be you.  No more questions!  That's an order!"  He finished as he shut the door behind him.

 

The night had just gotten longer for Ben.

____________________________________________________________

 

Dr. Bev Bevan was a man in his early sixties, but you wouldn't know it by looking at him.  Other than his plentiful grey hair, he looked in great shape.  He was clearly not in the military.  His office was full of books and files.  There was no single picture of family or memories.

 

"Well my boy!  You have arrived!"  He cheered Ben as he was escorted in to his office.

 

"Sir..."

 

"I know, I know...  Just sit down and listen."  Dr. Bevan ordered.  "Eight years ago, in Peoria, Il, a person who was seeking treasures with his metal detector found a time capsule.  Normally that would not be the cause of commotion.  There was only one problem.  The time capsule was from the future!  From 2095 to be exact.  Needless to say the man who found the object has no more need of metal detectors.  Nor the dozen or so people who found out about the object before we could get our hands on the thing.  They are rich people now!  Inside the capsule, there were three things: the blue print of a device, a date and your name.  After much analyses, deliberations and miles of red tape, we decided to build the thing and look for you.  Now that both are complete there is only one thing remaining to do.  That is to put the both of you together."

 

"How do you know you got the right person?" Ben asked.

 

"The date my boy, the date."  Dr. Bevan answered with a smile his face.  "You were the only Benjamin Alexander Rodriguez who enlisted in the Army on August 13th, 1980.  That was the date in the time capsule...  You see, at first we could not make heads or tails of the date.  But then, your name appeared in the Army records.  At last!  Constant vigilance of everything we could get our hands on: birth, immigration, criminal, hospital, recruiting, tax and many other records, paid off, and in the nick of time!"

 

"Who sent the capsule?"  Ben nervously asked.

 

"No one knows.  Don't worry!  We ruled out extra terrestrials.  They would not have used paper and pencil."

 

"Why was it sent?" Ben asked with increasing restlessness.

 

"No one knows!  I told you!  Only three things were in the capsule.  Nothing more, nothing less."  Dr. Bevan answered.

 

"The device...  What does it do?"  Ben asked in assent

 

"I think it's time you get acquainted with the Twilight device" Dr. Bevan answered as he stood up from his chair.

____________________________________________________________

 

Twilight was the device built from the blue prints found in the time capsule.  It had a number of thick metallic rings around a single metallic chair.  Nothing much to look at.  The most impressive thing about it was the numerous thick, black cables running from what looked like a control panel, through the back wall to god knows where.

 

"It's not much to look at, but believe me, the brightest minds in the US of A have spent thousands of man hours behind it."  Dr. Bevan proudly claimed.

 

"What does it do?" Ben asked

 

"We think some sort of time transporter..."

 

"You think?" Ben shouted.  "I thought you said the brightest..."

 

"Three things my boy, three things" Dr. Bevan interrupted loudly. "And one of them was blue prints, not an operational manual!  If you want, I can spend hours talking to you about quantum mechanics, meta physics, electrical engineering, metallurgy, etc., etc.  But what for?  You are not the brightest star in the sky!  Quite honestly I haven't got a clue as to why you were chosen for this!  There is absolutely nothing remarkable about you!  Not mentally, physically or spiritually!  Yes!  Once I found you, and saw how incompetent a candidate you were, I got a psychic to check you out!"

 

"You mean Sonya...?"

 

"Yes, Sonya the gypsy fortune teller at the state fair...  She was on my payroll!" Dr. Bevan stated proudly.

 

"If I am so unremarkable, incompetent and with no karma, then let me go home!  I did not volunteered for this!  I don't want to be here!" Cried Ben.

 

"Ben," calmly replied Dr. Bevan "Who are we to question what humans of greater intellect and knowledge of our future want?  You should be happy!  You should be so glad!  Why are you so angry?  You'll be a 21st century man!  Twilight.  It's either real or it's a dream.  There is nothing in between.  You'll step out of it believing everything is gone.  Return with what you've learned.  They'll kiss the ground you walk upon!  All you gotta do is sit down in that chair, and give Twilight time to steal your mind away from you!"

 

"Why do you call it Twilight?  Will I like, see the dimming of the light at the end of a tunnel or something like that?"  Asked Ben.

 

"The name was on the blue print.  As for the rest of what you asked, nobody knows.  We haven't tested it."  Answered Dr. Bevan.

 

"You haven't what?" Ben freaked out.

 

"Well, our experts think we will only be able to use this baby once.  The one reason we had to build this here is because of power consumption requirements.  You see commercial power that runs a house runs at 60 cycles.  These missile sites had generators and frequency converters that provide power at 400 cycles.  This gave us a base to modify in order to get the 600 cycles we needed to make this run.  Unfortunately, we believe half the system will get fried once we send you to the future."  Dr. Bevan assured.

 

"If the thing will get fried after sending me wherever, then how am I supposed to get back?"  Ben anxiously asked

 

"I am sure they have it all figured out on the other side!" Dr. Bevan enthusiastically assure.

 

"And just how you know this came from the future?"

 

"It was written..."

 

"In the blue print." Ben interrupted Dr. Bevan.

______________________________________________________________________________

 

It was already late at night.  They had sort of explained to him how the Twilight device was supposed to work.  At least in theory.  Of course, Ben did not understand 2 cents of the whole thing.  All he knew was that he was supposed to sit in the chair, and someone was to pull a lever, and then all kinds of crazy things could happen.  Yet his worry was not of what could or could not happen.  His thoughts were with Julie.  This was not the way he had envisioned things to happen.  All so well planned.  All gone so wrong.

 

Is this what I'm supposed to do?  Is this the ship I'm supposed to go sailing?  But this is not my dream!  I could be gone a long time!  And time rolls on and on!  All these shadows falling around me.  Julie, if I could just hold on to you!  My sweet dream!

 ______________________________________________________________________________

 

It was the day!  The one day some 50 people had been waiting for over 5 years.  The one he was became aware of only a few days ago.  No one knew what to expect on the other side of time.  For all they knew he could end up in the middle of an iceberg, if he didn't get fried first.  There was no precedent, no protocol.  He entered the Twilight room.  How ironic that the one sound in the entire room was from a radio playing the song "Sailing" by Christopher Cross! 

 

He had been briefed on numerous scenarios.  None of which would probably turn true!  This was not a military mission.  Exploration?  Maybe!  This seemed more like an act of curiosity more than anything.  And we all know what happened to the cat!  No special gear to bring.  No protective clothes to wear.  Just a sachet with documents that proved his date of origin, the Twilight project, a letter from The President and a mint, uncirculated 1981 penny in his pocket for good luck.  The letter he couldn't even open.  For all Ben knew it could instruct the reader to kill the a*****e carrying it for he did not knew better!  He sat in the chair, where he was strapped to.  I guess no running out of here now!  Checks and more systems checks.  No one bothered to check with me! He thought.

 

"All right Ben!  Any departing words for history?  You know! One small step for man..."  Dr. Bevan asked

 

Stoic, Ben looked at him and asked, "Just how you managed to spend millions of American dollars on something you don't know if it will do what you don’t know is supposed to do?"

 

"Two things my dear boy..."  Dr. Bevan answered with a grin.  "This is the military, and the price of national security is never questioned!  Like I told you before, your timing was impeccable!  We could not have reached our goal thru the Reagan budget cuts!  Now remember what we taught you and let Twilight just steal your mind away..."

 

Ben laid back his head, closed his eyes and tried to relax.  The radio was turned off.  An intense electrical hum invaded the room.  The metal rings started to rotate in different directions at ever increasing speed.  He could feel every hair in his body being pulled by the magnetism. 

 

I guess it has its advantages being black!  No electric hairdo!  It's either real or it's a dream!  There is nothing in between!  With their brand new time transporter they thought maybe I wished to get away.  But with all their great inventions and all their good intentions, I would rather stay here...  I'm just out of luck!  My Julie!  Will I ever see you again? How about that! There's the light! 

 

The visions started dancing in his mind.  The early dawn, the shades of time.  Twilight crawling through a windowpane.

 

Twilight, I'll give you time to steal my mind away from me.  Just hold on tight...  My Julie...


The Lights Go Down

 

Julie's Dad was watching the TV from his couch as he drank a beer.

 

Here's the news, every hour on the hour...

 

He worked every day as a heavy machinery mechanic.  His hands showed the decades of working the metal of his machines.  He was a hard man made in a harsh environment.  He ruled his household with an iron will.  That was the only way he knew in order to protect his daughters.  He wanted to ensure they could have the best possible future so they could obtain what he did not.  His wife had passed away not so long ago. Everyone was still trying to move on.  Julie's Dad had the empathy of a bulldozer.  A skill useful for many things, and not so for others.  For him, grieving time was long gone and it was time for his two daughters to step up in life.  They had to maintain the house while he earned a living.  No easy task for 16 and a 15 year olds who were also dealing with the shortcomings of adolescence. 

 

Julie and her sister were one soul.  It was this bond that helped them both cope with the loss of their Mom, and what they viewed as the tyranny of their Dad.  They both were struggling students.  Ben had become Julie's oasis.  She just wanted to finish high school, study pet grooming and leave.  Her dad though wanted her to go to college.  To get the degree he could not.  As usual her Dad stood in front of her wishes like an immovable Titan.  She was sure that the only reason why he had allowed Ben into her life was because he was certain that once Ben left, it would all fall into oblivion.  She was beginning to think that might just happen, as she was sitting on her bed, toying an action figure of Robby the Robot.  It had been given to her by Ben.  At one point it was his favorite toy.  He even made her watch the movie “The Forbidden Planet” were Robbie appeared for the first time.  Sometimes he would mimic the robot’s voice while toying with it, just to make her smile, “Just out the border of your waking mind…”  Every time she handled it she thought of him.

 

The letter from the Army that Ben's family had received a few days ago was anything but assuring.  Julie had kept in touch with Ben's family.  It was a way of staying in touch with Ben.  They had shared all letters and calls received. 

 

We regret to inform you that Private Benjamin A. Rodriguez has been transferred to a special assignment.  Unfortunately, due to the nature of the mission he will be unreachable for the foreseeable future...

 

A phone number where careless ignorant “zombies” attended those unwanted families was also part of the letter.

 

If you have any questions please call our "we don't give a s**t" department at 1-800-get-lost where one of our trained brain-dead associates will read you one of the many statements we have designed to aggravate the hell out of you to the point of you never wanting to call us again...

 

"Sarah, I think Ben is gone..."  Julie cried to her sister in their room.

 

"What are you talking about!  It's only been a week!"  Sarah comforted her while hugging her.

 

"You read that letter!  For all I know he might be in Lebanon right now!  Things are getting ugly over there!" Replied Julie.

 

"Julie, baby, you need to move on!"

 

"WHAT?" Julie shouted as she hugged Robby tight against her.

 

"I don't mean move on from Ben!  I mean you just can't sit here, waiting on the world to turn, hoping that one day he'll pop out of thin air!  You got a life to live!  You got goals!  You'll be the best dog groomer in the State!" Sarah emphatically stated.

 

"You know Dad wants me to be an accountant!"

 

"Forget Dad!  One day you gotta get out of here.  You gotta make everything clear!  You gotta see you!  I know the way that this feels is wrong, so wrong...  But you gotta carry on, when he ain't around!"  Sarah said

 

"I believe things are going wrong!  The night goes on and on...  All my dreams have flown away and the sun won't shine today.  I feel like the lights go down and there's no one around."  Julie sobbed.

 

"I know you're waiting so close to me but how will you ever see?  Time rolls away?"  Sarah asked.

 

"I'm lonely, but I try to be so proud...  And just as I turn around, the lights go down!” Julie replied.

 

As both embraced each other once more, Sarah whispered,  "I am your shoulder to cry on, but you gotta hold on tight to your dreams..."


Another Heart Breaks

 

Why am I looking at the Arch?  Thought Ben while staring at the blue sky on a hot and dry day.  He was lying flat on a grassy slope, with a headache that could split his head in two.  He sat up.  The scene was so familiar!  Families walking with children and pets.  A jogger.  Some bikers.  And the Gateway Arch!  Yet there was something off with the scene!  Right below the arch was a metallic hemisphere, he had never before. Then, he turned around...

 

The courthouse was still there, but that was it!  No Memorial Drive!  The Buder, the Merchant's Exchange, the Pierce, and the remaining Real Estate Row buildings, all gone! There were ivory towers stabbing the sky in defiance.  He started walking backwards, up the slope, to get a better view.  Vehicles floating through grassy paths.  He could not see a road! Not a sound from machines. He almost fell as he had a misstep, and then he saw it.  The dry bed of what was once the great Mississippi river.  Where once was the Poplar Bridge a peculiar massive structure stood.  Anchored on four equidistant pylons, a huge platform was supporting a building that looked as if it was made of seven concentric concave mirrors.  Resting on top of it were three compartments, one on top of the other, each the size of a 10 story building, all connected by thick black rods.  On each side of the centered compartment there where two huge, thick, perfectly round flat plates.  On the very top of the upper most compartment two gigantic rolls parallel to each other, laid perpendicular to the compartments.

 

"That,  my old friend, is the space elevator to satellite two" A voice from behind told him.  Ben turned towards his speaker, whom upon his glance extended the hand and greeted, "Welcome home Ben!"

 

"Are you who the one who asked for me?" Ben asked

 

"Yes" as the stranger kept his hand offered.

 

"Why?" Ben asked stoically

 

"That will be a very long answer!" The stranger answered while retrieving his hand

 

"It seems time management is your specialty!" Ben replied sarcastically

 

"How do you feel?"

 

"Are you in the military?" Ben asked

 

"No, why?" The stranger questioned intrigued

 

"I feel pissed off!  I just wanna know why am I here and when can I go back to my real home.  And yes...  do you have a f*****g aspirin?" Ben answered restlessly

 

"Again, you are asking questions that require long answers.  For now let's just say that I am your escort and there are a lot of things I need to show you before I can address your inquiries.  Let's just start by letting you know that I am Dr. Jeff Lynne and you must come with me now!"  Dr. Lynne stated emphatically.

 

Ben was still a bit disoriented and allowed himself to be guided towards the old river bed.    Dr. Lynne started talking as they headed to a small rectangular building standing at the end of the large theater like steps that led from the Arch towards the wadi.  "You are in St. Louis, Missouri.  The date is October 22, 2095.  Right now you are not safe.  You don't have any type of valid identification.  I can assure you that anything you have in that sachet will only make things worse.  We are going to take the air shuttle to my place.  Don't speak to no one, just look at the floor!"

 

"What happened to the Mississippi?" Ben asked

 

"Excessive sedimentation, global warming, the earthquake of 2073, Yellowstone blowing up, etc. etc." Dr. Lynne answered.

 

Just as they were arriving at the building a double deck bus sized vehicle that looked like an old Airstream RV, came down from the sky.  No sound.  No air rush.  It appeared as if it simply floated.  They, along with a handful of others entered the air shuttle.  The inside looked like an ordinary bus.  As soon as they sat down, the shuttle rose above the land without making a single sound.

 

"You didn't pay" noticed Ben.

 

"We got rid of money 15 years ago." 

 

"No money!  So I can eat a lobster every day?" Ben asked

 

"Lobsters are no more.  If you want seafood, it does not come from the sea anymore.  It comes from a farm.  Everything now is either farmed or replicated.  That is why most people are vegetarian.  We have not been able to get rid of the metallic after taste of replicated food."

 

As they flew over the city, Ben didn't care to look out the window.  He was too tired. Then a holographic image appeared from the shuttle.

 

Here is the news... Ten Euro technicians were today sentenced by the justice computer to be banished for life to the prison satellite penal one...

 

Ben dozed off...

The smell of eggs, bacon and coffee filled the air as Ben woke up.  He was starving! 

 

"Good morning Ben!" A woman coming in the room greeted.  "Did you have a good sleep?"

 

"Yes ma'am!  Thank you!"  He replied

 

"Those air memory mattresses never fail!  I know you don't have them in your time.  I thought the smell of breakfast would finally wake you up!  Is that what you want?”  She said merrily.

 

"How long was I asleep?"

 

"Ten hours, forty seven minutes and 12 seconds.  By the way, my name is Rosie.  Come eat breakfast before it gets cold!  Jeff will join you anytime now.  I just informed him of your status!"  She said as she walked out of the room.

 

The food was OK, but he was so hungry he did not care.  That lady is sure pretty but she can't cook a dam!  As he was drinking his second cup of coffee he saw Dr. Lynne walk in.

 

"Your wife is beautiful and very accommodating! Ben stated

 

"She's not my wife, she’s an Apple." Dr Lynne replied.

 

"Oh, she's from New York!" Ben said

 

"No!  She's an Apple!  An IGal!"  Dr. Lynne stated surprisingly

 

"What do you mean an Apple?" Ben asked.

 

"You know, Apple!  The Ipod, the Iphone, the Ipad, the ITV, the Ipet, the IStud, the IGal...  I mean I know you don't anything about the robotics but the gadgets you must!"  Dr Lynne became exasperated.

 

"I haven't got a clue as to what you are talking about!" Ben assured.

 

Dr. Lynne looked at Ben puzzled.  "You are Benjamin Alexander Rodriguez, born on August 13th, 1981, correct?" He asked

 

"No" Ben answered.  “I am Benjamin Alexander Rodriguez born on February 13, 1963.”

 

“Then why did they choose you?” Dr. Lynne asked puzzled.

 

“Because I enlisted on August 13th, 1981!  A*****e!”  Ben yelled.

 

Dr. Lynne suddenly got still as a stone statue.  His face turned pale. It was as if life itself had been drawn away from him.

 

"They sent me the wrong guy!  I can't believe it!  How could they missed it?" Dr. Lynne muttered.

 

Suddenly, Ben's face lit up like a Christmas tree.  "Good!  Now that that’s settled, when can you send me back?"

 

"I can't"

 

Ben's heart shattered in a thousand pieces.

From the End of the World

Dr. Jeffrey Lynne was a Nuclear Physicist.  Of medium built, he was quite a figure to look at thanks to his big afro and thick accompanying beard.  He was very energetic for being in his late fifties.  While at MIT, he was immediately recruited by a then rising Privately owned company called Majestic Enterprises, Inc.  The company had a very extensive portfolio of projects that ranged from energy production, transportation, civil engineering, all the way to commercial space travel.  His greatest virtue was his astuteness for discovering things where many others had failed to see value.  It was like a keen sense of visualizing abstract thought from plain text.  He began to move up within the company.  Getting involved in projects of greater magnitude and intrepidness.  His goal had always been the same,  a chair at the 12 member board group called MJ-12.  Completion of a fully functional Twilight device would assure him of a seat.

MJ-12 had been born in 1947, out of the Roswell incident.  Originally made reality through an executive order by US President Harry S. Truman.  It was a secret committee of scientists, military leaders and government officials.  A super think tank.  Soon after its inception, it became evident to the members that the nature of its existence needed to be kept secret from everyone, including the President himself.  They were successful until the 1980’s where declassification of some documents brought a dim light of their existence.  What soon followed was the most elaborate disinformation scheme to make MJ-12 look like a hoax. 















It worked.  It’s members were the best of the best:  Bush, Oppenheimer, Einstein, Von Braun, Asimov, Bevan, Clarke, Hawking, Tandy, Rodriguez and many others.  There was no hierarchy amongst themselves.  The modern version of the knights of the round table.   They were trusted.  They all had a diverse set of skills and high security clearance.  For decades they managed to stay under the radar. Although they were high ranking personnel who were often involved in secret government projects, yet they were not so recognizable at the time of their membership that they would be missed for considerable amount of time.  That was one of the trade offs of the membership.  If you became too famous, you had to go.  Obtaining resources for their work was the easy part.  Nothing, red tape could not cover.  Then in the middle of the 21st century, after nearly a century of work, major breakthroughs emerged.  The commercial application of cold fusion; the mastery of boron nitride tubing, the wide spread use of superconductors, the production of anti matter were all a direct result of MJ-12.  Energy became virtually free to produce.  This lead to massive society changes which ended up in the world wide elimination of the use of currency.  There were no more social classes.  Research and education substituted enterprise.  As distances became irrelevant, the world population began to spread.  Cities evolve into development and entertainment centres.  This was 2095.

“When was the time capsule discovered?”  Dr. Lynne asked.

“I think it was around 1973.” John answered while still trying to grasp his new reality.

“It was suppose to arrive on 2016!  I knew I shouldn’t have written “Twilight” on the blue prints!”  He stated while punching a desk in disgust.

Dr. Lynne’s main project for the last 10 years was Code name Twilight.  Time travel.  Conceptually, Twilight had the capability of sending organic material forward in time.  However, the device could not send them back to when the material had originated.  Twilight was a one way ticket into the future or the past.  What good does it do to have a time machine that can only send someone one way into time?   If they go onto the future they won’t come back to teach people what they learned!  If they go onto the past who would ever believe they are from the future, and what dire consequences could altering the past bring to the present! 

The time travel technique was still a hit or miss concept, which made everything worst.  Twilight was like a catapult, throwing stones into time.  The heavier the stone, the more dense the stone, the weather, everything would affect where the stone would land. There were to settings, dials or gauges to deal with.    The Twilight device had an intrinsic force to move things through time.  How far you would go would depend on things such as mass density, weight, shape, astrophysical shifts, climate, etcetera.  Just like a rock in the catapult.  Every detail played a part in the accuracy of the device.   Adding the word twilight in the blue print was enough weight change for Twilight to miss its target by 35 years. 

Twilight had stalled.  No answers to the riddle.  That is when Dr. Lynne designed the scheme that would allow him to prove the device worked and at the same time obtain the one person he believed could solve the riddle of time travel.  Dr. Benjamin Alexander Rodriguez was deemed the brightest mind in human history.  He made cold fusion practical and cheap.  Super conduction soon followed, revolutionizing transportation.  No need for internal combustion engines.  Yet he died on 2022 in an accident while experimenting with anti matter production.  Before he died, he was thoroughly examined, as it was customary by that time, to seek the source of his intellect.  His brain, turned out to be more developed than Einstein’s.  Dr. Rodriguez’s brain had a greater number of glial cells, along with super developed prefrontal, somatosensory, primary motor, parietal, temporal and occipital cortices. 

Dr. Lynne’s scheme was to send the capsule to 2016.  MJ-12 would recover the capsule, build Twilight, figure out that the person they needed to send to the future was Dr. Rodriguez.  This would happen before his death, thus his absence would not disrupt the time continuum.  Once on 2095, Dr. Rodriguez would help him complete the “Twilight” concept.  The arrival of Mr. Rodriguez was evidence that Twilight did work as predicted.  However, disclosure of his unauthorized experiment would certainly bring dire consequences to him.  It would certainly be the end of his career.  He would not be able to complete his dream.  A fully functional Twilight device.  Unfortunately, writing the word twilight in the blue print made the capsule heavy enough to fall short of its destination by 35 years.

Dr. Lynne explained as much as he could, and in lame terms why he could not send Ben to the past, why he was the wrong guy, and why the mistake was made.

“This was never real!  This was a dream!  Your dream...” Ben looked at him with fiery eyes.  “Here you are, with your head held high.  You came down to us from the open skies in a capsule full of scarlet lies...  I only meant to stay a while!  You brought me here and now you can’t take me back again!  When did you send the time capsule?”

“Yesterday night” Dr. Lynne answered

“So in essence, from the end of the world you sent a letter last night.  A letter that contain what you’d hope would lead you to the completion of your dream.  Last night you sent your dream.  You were no better before.  You are no better now.” Ben approached Dr. Lynne with ire.  “what now?  You want to keep me hangin’ round and round?  I am the trouble you’ve found!  Oh, please if this is a game I wish someone would win!  Please, just let it fly to me upon the wind!  Look at me!  I am the dream you sent for, from the end of your world!”

Suddenly, a holographic picture appeared on the far wall of the room.

Here is the news...  the weather is fine, but there may be a meteor shower...

Yours Truly, 2095

As the days went by, Dr. Lynne concentrated his efforts in making Ben’s life more accommodating.  Based on what Ben had told him about Julie, he converted Rosie’s appearance to that of Ben’s love.

 

“I could not do anything about the height!  You can only decrease their height so much before messing with the hardware”  Dr. Lynne said.  “I present you, Julie”

 

There she was.  It was her!  With her light brown silky hair, hazel eyes, speckled white skin...  It was a mirage!

 

“Hi Ben” Julie said

 

The voice was not right.  Ben knew better...  “Hi, I-Julie.”

 

“I’ve arranged for your ID, a person shall come here tomorrow to implant it.  Later today, you’ll be delivered the latest Ford Mustang Hovercraft.  Julie will be your driver until you learn how to use it.  You’ll be free to roam around, explore and get acquainted with your new world.  I assure you, you’ll love 2095!”  He said as he was walking out the door.

 

“Where you going?” Ben asked.

 

“Gotta go to work!” Dr. Lynne answered.  “Going to Satellite 2, where the Majestic Headquarters are!”

 

“I guess I can get out and walk around too can’t I” Ben inquired

 

“I guess, if you want!  There’s nothing to see here!”  Dr. Lynne said

 

“Where is this house?  Troy, Missouri?”

 

“We are in Wasilla, Alaska!  I told you!  Distance is irrelevant now.  Plus the weather is great here!  A constant 65°C! Try to enjoy yourself...” Dr. Lynne said as he closed the door.

 

Alaska!  Thought Ben.  Couldn’t be New Orleans, San Francisco or New York.  Had to be Alaska!

 

“New Orleans and New York were mostly surrendered to the sea.  San Francisco is completely gone.  The San Andreas fault could not survive the Yellow Stone super eruption.” I-Julie stated.

 

“What!  Can you read my mind too?” Ben asked surprised.

 

“Yes.  But if it makes you uncomfortable I can turn that app off.”  She assured

 

“No difference!  I would not know when you had it on or off anyway!” Ben expressed in resignation.  “What else can you do?”

 

“Just about anything you want me to...”

 

“Sex?” He interrupted

 

“ I would not recommended.”  She replied coldly.  “I do not have the capacity of maintaining body heat at a constant 37.5°C.  I have no body fluid generation capacity..."

 

“I get it, I get it!” Ben interrupted once more.  “Basically you are cold and dry!  You figure by this time those little details would be solved!  I mean, you would think that it is easier to make a robot sweat than to think!”

“Human imaging only began 10 years ago.  What you ask was attempted.  However 37 cases of burnt male genitalia made it evident that the technology was not there yet.”  She stated.

 

“OK.  If this is going to work you need to change.” 

 

“I am programmed to be very nice.  However, should you desire it I can try to be unkind.  I do know some humans enjoy being mistreated.”  She said

 

“No, it’s not that!”

 

“You see me and it makes you think of the real Julie”

 

Ben looked at her with cold eyes.  “Let’s get this straight!  You are not what I want!  You are not human, and I don’t need you to look like one, especially Julie.  You are a machine.  A tool.  I want to see you for what you are!”

 

“Is that what you want?” She asked.

 

“Yes”

 

Little by little, her skin turned translucent, allowing a blurred look at her inner workings.  The eyes lost all colour, turning white as snow.  She took her wig off.  Her height increased by a handful of inches.  Her breasts disappeared. 

 

“Is this the real you?” Ben asked

 

“I have re-set my appearance module.  This is what I look out of the box.”  She assured.

 

“You seem to know a lot, don’t you” Ben asked.

 

“I have an IQ of 1001.  However, being with Dr. Lynne has overflowed my memory banks.  Therefore I can learn new things at the cost of losing stored data.  I have a subroutine that chooses what knowledge is going to be deleted in order to make room for new data.  Deletion is based on relevance to the last 5 years of operation.”  She explained.

 

“You know history?” He asked

 

“In preparation to your arrival, world history between 2022 to present day was uploaded into me”  She answered

 

He ordered her to sit opposite to him in the dining room.  “OK!  I’ve got 114 years to catch up to.  Start talking!”

 

“Talk?”  She asked puzzled.  “I can...”

 

“Whatever!” Ben interrupted.  “Do what you do but teach me!” He commanded

 

All the house windows went dark.  She stood up.  Her eyes lit up.  They started to emit beans of multicoloured light that when intersected, emitted clear 3D holographic images of the events she started to unveil.

 

Acts of God re shaped the world.  Immense technological progress.  Social balance.  A shrinking world population.  The oceans were off limits to humanity.  With the devastation of natural resources on dry land, it was the sea who allowed the planet to be liveable.  The ice on the poles was nearly gone.   Human struggles with religion, ethnicity, sex where still prevalent in some areas.  Wealth became irrelevant.  Time was no longer influential.  Global acquisition of knowledge was the primal engine that moved society.  Light triumphed over darkness.

 

“Let’s take a ride!” Ben ordered after a few hours.

 

“I do not understand!”  She replied

 

“Let’s get on the Mustang and take me where I can see people!”  He anxiously requested.

 

“Is this what you want?” She asked

 

“Yes”

 

“Where would you like to go?” 

 

“Take me to daytime.”  He commanded.

 

“Is it what you really want” She insisted.

 

“Yes!” Ben answered irritated

 

As they walked towards the Mustang, she started to change appearance again.

 

“What are you doing?”  Ben asked irritated

 

“It is considered inappropriate for a robot to look like a robot in public.  Do not worry, I will take the appearance of Rosie” She replied as she finished her metamorphosis, which included her tone of voice.

 

This I-b***h is a technological marvel.  Almost mythology!  Ben thought  But I’ll be dammed if I embrace her.  I’d rather go to hell than kiss her interface!

 

“’till then, just leave me alone” Rosie said   “I realize that it must seem so strange that time has rearranged, but time has the final word when reshaping your world.”

 

Ben looked the other way knowing she had read his mind again...  As the Mustang hovered away, silently, his thoughts went back to Julie.

 

Can you hear me?  I don’t know where you are!  I wish I could send you a message...  A note...  I wish this were a game, for this I just can’t conceive.  Can you hear me my love?  I love you, sincerely.  I might be in another time, in another plane, but I’m yours...  Truly...

 

 The Way Life’s Meant to Be

 

They travelled the Continental United States at speeds Ben never thought possible.  Within minutes they were in Seattle, going south he was astonished at the wasteland that was now Yellowstone.  Through the coast he saw the devastation in the coast of California. The mid planes were home now to an inland sea called Ni’To’ Sea, meaning earth water in the Navajo language.  This in turn had changed the overall landscape to one almost subtropical for much of the middle of the US.  City after city you could see the remnants of past decades commingled with the now familiar ivory towers.  Coastal cities were either gone or half submerged in the ocean waters. 

 

One thing sparked his eye was the lack of suburbs around the cities.  As distance became a non issue, population drifted away from the cities.  People now lived where they wanted anywhere in the world.  This in turn brought a sense of isolation to society.  Neighbours were mostly a thing of the past.  If you wanted to chat with someone, all you needed was to call and a hologram of the person was right in front of you in real time.  Family reunions were mostly a formality that was done once or twice a year.  They had become something of a tradition.  Technology had done away with dealing with most of interpersonal issues! 

 

Sex had become an activity.  Something you did when you found someone who wanted to do it with you.  You simply asked!  Robotics had eliminated the need of a human companion for life, although there were still a minority who preferred such companionship.  Bearing children had become a choice where women could decide everything they wanted about their unborn child and get pregnant without the need of men.  This, of course if they had been medically cleared from a genetic and legal perspective.  There were no politics to argue about.  Without poverty, there was no need for charity, thus compassion was a term somewhat forgotten.  Lack of fear stopped humans from seeking mutual protection.    Nothing to cry.  Nothing to laugh about.  Just living out your life for your own enjoinment and for the benefit of the collective. 

 

Shopping centres and big retail stores became extinct.  Mass production was limited to technology.  Small artisanship was the king.  Houses, furniture, toys, clothing, everything was  as individual as the person who made them.  All you wanted was floating invisibly through the air in the internet, which of course, Rosie had to explain to Ben!  All looked so right.  All seemed so empty.

 

“Take me to O’Fallon, Mo” ordered Ben

 

“Is this what you want?” Rosie answered

 

Ben just looked at her with evil eyes.  No words were needed.

 

As the Mustang glided through the air, Ben could see how an almost invisible wind tunnel formed in front and in the rear of the vehicle.  It was the electromagnetic signal from the super conductor driven engine which reserved the vehicle’s programmed route.  No other vehicle could cross this path that was about 10 miles in distance, centred on the vehicle.  There would be no crashes at Mach 9.

 

There he was...  In his old town.  Mostly abandoned.  Weeds had taken over the streets.  Most buildings were in ruins.  Deer, hogs, dogs and other wild animals were the residents of the town.  O’Fallon was not deemed worthy of preservation by the Federal Department of Suburban Preservation. 

 

There were people in town too!  Mostly souls who had decided to live off the grid, trying to hold on to something forgotten, that had been long lost...  As Ben walked in the street where he used to hang around with Julie, his thoughts were rampant...

 

I came a long way to be here today leaving you so long ago on this avenue.  Here I stand in the strangest land, not knowing what to say or do.  As I gaze around at these strangers in town I guess the only stranger it’s me!  I wonder (yes I wonder), is this the way life’s meant to be? 

 

It’s only been days since I was taken away and left standing here looking in wonder.  The ground at my feet it’s just the old street where everything that I know lies under.  As I see what they’ve done to this place that was home, shame is all that I feel.  Yes I wonder!   Is this the way life’s meant to be?  Too late to cry the people say.  Too late for you, too late for me.  I’ve come so far, now I know everything my friend.  I look and see the wonders of this world... 

 

As I wonder around this wreck of a town where people never speak aloud.  I look at the distance to the Ivory towers I wish I was back in 1981.  Just to see her face instead of this place.  I now know what you really mean to me!  This is not the way life’s meant to be!

 

He continue to walk to where Julie used to live. The wind blew cold.  He saw the remains of her house at a distance

I remember when I thought this street was paved with gold!  I walked along this street...  A street I walked along many times before...  But things have changed!  Everything I ever knew was gone or rearranged.  Julie don't live here anymore!

He thought about her smile, her laughing eyes and the things she said to him; when he felt so sorry for her for all the nights they spent hanging around with nothing else to do.  He walked past a block of marble situated in front of her house.  He walked up to her door.  Not so long ago, he saw her face in the window...  But it was different now.  The lonely light where they used to meet was gone!  Julie just didn’t live here anymore.

As Ben walked away from the house he paid attention to the marble block.  There were words inscribed on it. 

Benjamin Alexander Rodriguez

B: August 13th, 1981  D: April 27th, 2022

His innovations in Cold Fusion and Super Conduction

paved the way for centuries of future discovery.

Here lays the site where he was born.

Lost to Science, but never forgotten

 

This could not be!  I was here on August 13th, 1981!  There was no birth!  There was no baby!  This is all wrong! He thought while turning his eyes towards Rosie as if looking for an explanation.

 

Rosie had an answer.  “June 12, 2019.  Scientists discovered that “self awareness” laid deep within our DNA.  Thus, they were able to provide evidence that at the moment of conception, the cells that would eventually become a human being were self aware.   This discovery brought great outrage to the then still influential religious groups which were against abortion.  Great worldwide debate ensued.   On September 20th, 2021, Chairman of the League of Cultures Hugh McDowell, declared: 

 

In Demetriou's theory, one of the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development, self-awareness is supposed to develop systematically from birth through the life span and it is a major factor for the development of general inferential processes.  Thus, if we are to continue with this theory, there is only one course of action.  The re-definition of the concept of birth.

 

As such, on January 17th, 2021, birth was globally redefined as the moment of conception rather than the moment in which the umbilical cord is cut from the mother.  This was a pivotal moment in the history of human kind as it brought the Church, Science and Politics in concert, thus abolishing the legality of abortion worldwide.”

“But if that is the case,” Ben said disturbingly, “how was this decision made retroactively to 1981?”

“It was made retroactive only to famous people who had a significant impact on our modern society.  It was a way of paying proper respect from a historic point of view.”

“Show me a picture of this man” while pointing towards the marble stone.

“Is it what you really want?” She asked

“JUST DO IT!” he yelled madly.

He remember that night with Julie...  His first night...  His only night...  The day he would leave to boot camp.  As he looked at the holographic image emitted through Rosie’s eyes, there was no doubt.  Benjamin Alexander Rodriguez, “born” August 13th, 1981 was physically identical to him.  He was in fact...  His son...

“We need to call Dr. Lynne now!” Ben ordered emphatically.

“Is this...”

“I swear if you ask me that question one more time I’ll find a way to disconnect you somehow!” Ben yelled in distress.

“Technically, you will not be able to...” Rosie started saying.

“I DON’T GIVE A F**K”  He yelled out of control.  “JUST GIVE ME A DAM PHONE OR SOMETHING!”

“No need” Rosie calmly stated as her eyes again glowed projecting a live image of Dr. Lynne.

“Yes Ben.  What can I do for you?”  Dr. Lynne asked

As Ben saw and heard the image he thought, God dam!  The f*****g I-b***h is also a telephone..!

Rain is Falling


That letter changed many lives forever.  Sure, it said missing in action,

but everyone who read it knew what it meant. 

 

He is gone and we can’t tell you where, when or how...

 

For Ben’s family the mourn was indescribable.  Julie felt death wrap her wings around her a thousand times.  Julie’s Dad died.  Upon knowing of her condition and the betrayal that it signified, he was impatiently waiting for Ben’s return.  Knowing that now he had a pregnant teenager without a future husband.  A grandson without a Dad.  A daughter with her future truncated by an impulse.  He blamed himself inconsolably.  

 

I should have never left the house leaving him there!  It was my fault!  I should have known better! 

 

Years of harsh life had played a hard toll on him. The guilt proved too much for his weakened heart. 

 

With no next of kin, Ben’s parents took over the supervision of the siblings.  Given the circumstances the whole legal process was rather swift.  For the first time the girls had separate bedrooms.  Julie got Ben’s former room.  The signs of that night’s indiscretion were evident by now.  The school environment had become somewhat hostile towards her.  Sarah was by her defending her all the way.  Ben stopped being a memory and became a reality.  She was not sorry!  Not knowing what the future held for them, she did not regretted on single second of that night.  Now she had the memory of that night to take care!  Thankfully she was not alone.  Ben’s parents were loving and welcomed them as if they were their own blood.  Everyone knew what that child meant.  He would not be in need at any time.  Julie was another story.

 

Early one morning the sun was up and the sky was very blue.  Without a warning as Julie looked out her window, her thoughts returned to Ben.  A noise in the city made the children run and hide themselves away.  Thunder boomed and lightning filled the sky.

 

Looking from this window, a thousand rivers running past my door.  Standing on an island looking for someone upon the shore.  I can see it very clearly, nothing's really changed.  As this lightning strikes across an empty sky. Ooh, the rain is falling.  Why is it pouring?  Will the rain wash away these lonely tears?

 

Down on the corner where the sun had shone, the people gathered round.  Then scattered as the raindrops hit the ground.

 

Ooh, the rain is falling, will it wash away my lonely tears?

 

The rain kept falling and falling.

 

Rain, rain go away, come again another day!

 

She smiled as she felt a kick from young Bennie. 

 

21st Century Man

 

Satellite 2 was a semi artificial created by MJ-12.  A few decades ago a small asteroid, with a surface area equals to 0.027 earths, came close enough that it got trapped by the Earth’s gravitational pull.  It ended up in a stable orbit about 96,173 Km from Earth.  The MJ-12 was able to turn the asteroid’s orbit into a geostationary one.  Afterwards, it was used as an anchor for what would become the Space Elevator.  Construction of the infrastructure and ensuing buildings that would in turn convert the asteroid into Satellite 2, took less than a decade.

 

Dr. Lynne stared at the black sky from the window that covered the entire outside wall of his office at Satellite 2.  He had no answers, only questions!  As he got up and started his walk through the white halls of his building he kept thinking...

 

There is no temporal paradox!  Nothing has changed!  Unless there are indeed multiple timelines!  When Ben arrived, his son had already been born!  There is no history of Ben as the father of the man that created the foundation of the modern world!  Therefore, everything that has happened must be part of history, just as Novikov had predicted!  But if he was right in his self-consistency principle, then could there be something else that would need to happen in order to keep things the way they were?  Something in this present?  What if this is just the beginning of something else to happen in order for this world to exist?  After all, the Ben in this world was completely unremarkable!  How could this man have the genetic material needed to produce the most advance brain in human kind history?  Neuroscience had yet to uncover the deepest secrets of the human brain! Could they be wrong in thinking that the discoveries of Benjamin Alexander Rodriguez were the product of his intellect?

 

All his doubts became centred around one thought...

 

The answer to the question lays in whether or not MJ-12 had the capability of communicating with young Ben...

 

He knew where to find the answer.  He swiftly walked to Dr. Gregg Bissonette, head scientist of the Bouncer device project.

 

“My dear Jeffrey, comment allez-vous?” Dr. Bissonette asked in his thick French accent while welcoming him to his office.

 

“Gregg, may I ask you some things in the utmost confidence?”  Dr. Lynne asked nervously as he closed the door behind him.

 

“Oui, bien sûr!  Sit down my friend.” Calmly replied Dr. Bissonette.

 

“Is Bouncer operational?”

 

“It is parfait!”  Dr. Bissonette proclaimed excitedly.  “Thanks to your Twilight device, we sent Bouncer to the Triassic period in our first test.  After a few trials and adjustments we were able to get clear images and sounds from the other side.  Then, we sent it to the late 7th century.  We wanted to test Bouncer’s capability to transmit our messages.  We had to use Late West Saxxon so the locals could understand us.  Again, after a few trials, we could see clear interaction between the locals and the Bouncer device.”

 

“The twelve agreed to such experiments?”

 

“Oui! We were very careful in controlling the exposure to the device.  It might have made it in a fresco or two, but mostly scholars thought of the image as angelical or celestial in nature.”

 

Bouncer consisted of two devices working in unison.  The first one was a sphere the size of a ping pong ball.  It was a series of concentric metal rings that rotated at hypersonic speeds around a maze of micro-electronics, which made the little ball very dense.  This part of the device had to be designed for each specific travel, so they could arrive accurately to the established time target.  The only problem left to resolve was the quality of the sound out of Bouncer.  It was not human but electronic in nature. 

 

Both discussed the project a bit more.  Dr. Lynne dismissed Dr. Bissonette’s questions about his interest in Bouncer.  After a couple of drinks, Dr. Lynne left the office, very grateful to Dr. Bissonette.  There was something else he needed to check in order to face his fears.  He needed to go to the B. A. Rodriguez Museum in St. Louis, Mo.

 

Down by the Arch grounds Ben was walking along with Rosie.  They were waiting for Dr. Lynne to arrive.

 

“How does this change anything?  I mean me having a son that will revolutionize human society…”  He asked.

 

“No one knows for sure!  There are many theories about time.  I do not believe that for you it will make a big difference.  You are now a 21st Century Man.  However, for Dr. Lynne, the story might be different.  I am sure he is investigating all possible solutions, if there is a problem to be solved.”  Rosie assured him.

 

“So he invented the Twilight device.  Do you know why did he called it Twilight?”

 

“The movie…”  Rosie answered.  “The one about the girl that falls in love with the vampire…”

 

“What?” Ben asked not having a clue of what Rosie said.

 

“You have a big gap in your knowledge base.  Specifically since 1981 to 2016.  Don’t worry about what I said.  It is irrelevant.”

 

It was then that they saw the Space Elevator reach the docking station. 

 

“What is that dome below the Arch.”  Ben asked

 

“Shortly after your son’s death, it was determined that we needed to vastly improve the safety around the production of anti matter.  The Arch became the ideal place.  The museum underneath it was eliminated.  The Arch was converted into an ellipsis where the second half is underground.  The particle accelerators surrounded by superconductors were placed inside the aluminum encasing.   The sphere is where the resulting antiprotons are stored, suspended by extraordinary magnetic forces.  All together, the Arch is no longer a tourist attraction, but a factory.  An anti matter factory.”

 

“And what you all want to do with all of that anti matter?”  Ben inquired curiously.

 

“Space exploration.  The first human exploration of the real outer space.”  We are still quite a ways from that!  Here is Dr. Lynne!”

 

“Well my dear boy” He cheerfully said to Ben.  “I hope Rosie has been a good companion.  Now we must go to where your son used to do business!”

 

“Where is that?” Ben asked.

 

“Right behind you.  Mid Tower 3” Dr. Lynne answered.

 

It was a 175 story building, all in ivory white.

 

“Why are all the tall buildings Ivory?”  Ben asked.

 

“Translucent Liquid Granite.  Energy efficient, eco friendly, light weight, the ideal material for skyscrapers.  It made steel and concrete obsolete in less than 5 years!”  Rosie answered.

 

As they entered the building, the white emptiness of the walls of the reception room became striking.  There were no paintings, no decorations.  The only color came from flower arrangements made of plastic flowers.  They quickly moved inside an elevator.  Floor 132 Rosie pressed.  In less than 10 seconds the doors opened.  They had arrived.

 

Benjamin A. Rodriguez’s office had been kept the way it was the day of his death.  It was a way of respecting the man that everyone owed so much to.  Open to the public, there were no encasings, nothing protected.  After all there was no reason for anyone to steal anything. Dr. Lynne had studied this man’s life to the detail.  He knew everything there was to know about him.  Yet he had no clue as to what he was looking for.  That is the reason he brought Ben there.  Perhaps he could see what was not visible to him.  Thus, Ben’s eyes and hands explored in disbelieve, every corner of the office.  The desk, the drawers and their content, the books, the pictures, the mementos…  There!  Out of the corner of his eye he saw it.  He could not believe it!  How in the world was that there!

 

There Ben was once more.  Walking it what was once Kiener Plaza.  The old fountains were still there.  But all the vegetation, trees and flowers were artificial.  Easier to maintain, he thought.  The last couple of days had been a roller coaster.  No time to think.  Which in one way was good!  But now, while Dr. Lynne made some calls, he had exactly that.  Time to think…

 

A son he never knew…  A son that changed the world…  And my Julie!  How did you managed?  Did you hate me for leaving you like that?  I had no choice!  Here I am in the 21st century.  With a penny in my pocket and a sachet in my hand.  What will I get for them?  Not too much.  Now I am a 21st century man!  I can do most anything, yet I am not happy, certainly not glad.  Yes I am lonely.  Wandering the fields of my sorrow…  One day I was a hero!  Now I’m nothing but a clown…  There’s nothing in between.  What will all this bring? 

 

Suddenly Ben saw Rosie at a distance calling for him.  He acknowledged and started walking towards her.

 

Things did not turn out the way I thought they would.  I’ve got no plans.  Oh those good old 1980s!   When things were so uncomplicated!  I wish I could go back there again and everything could be the same!  It’s not going to happen!  So might as well pick up my penny and my sachet.  I’ll never be a 21st century man!  But for now, let’s take a ride on the wheels of tomorrow!  I’m going to Satellite 2!

 

Here is the News!

 

For Dr. Lynne the time had come to face the music.  He knew the consequences of his actions.  Yet there was no other way but to face the 12 in an emergency meeting.  Such a meeting had not been held since the death of Dr. Rodriguez! 

 

Meanwhile, Ben could not care less about his surroundings.  As usual, the news were being televised…

 

Here is the news… Space workers dispute in London today .  A lightning strike by air shuttle officers  led to over 2,000 passengers being held up for up to 10 hours to board flights.

As the Space Elevator left the blue sky behind, Ben was just sitting there inside his mind, just waiting for the clock to chime.

Do you remember, you said to me, that you would wait for me eternally?   I've been wondering, and I've been hoping, Where you still the same when I was not there?  Only you can say!  I would be so glad to be back with you.  I'd do anything they want me to!

 

Here is the news... Shares of Roboko development are now climbing...

 

I see the light, shine in my window, I know I am not coming home.  Yet as the light grows, grows ever brighter I see your face and you are alone!  And when I tell you all the thing I have seen you say, "Darling you must have been dreaming" That's what I want, I would be so happy back home.

 

Here is the news... A cure's been found for good old rocket lag

 

Electric visions and strange decisions have crossed.  I felt the stars above me, I have someone to love me.  That's what I want, I'll be so happy back home

I wish I never, never, never, never, never had gone away.  For the things that I see, be meant for the eyes of a time...  And should we walk alone together again, that's how I want it to be, want it to be forever... I wanna go home, I want my baby back...

Here is the news...  Someone has arrived at Satellite 2.  Look very carefully it might be you, you, you...

 

“Ben wake up.  We are here!”  Rosie said while shaking him up.  “We have to move.  They are waiting for us!”

 

They made their way through the empty, sterile halls of Majestic headquarters.  Nothing on the ivory walls.  No artwork, no images, just emptiness.  The echo of their footsteps extended like ripples of water in an otherwise still pond.  The entire building seemed deserted.  Ben noticed there was no way of telling the time!  No sun, no moon, no clocks...  It was as if time had lost its meaning.  As if time had stood still...  All three entered an elevator which rose from the floor centre of a round chamber on top of the building.  There were no walls.  Just a dome made something that looked like transparent glass.    You could see Earth in all its splendour with the moon slowly rising above Earth’s curvature.  It was a sight to see!  The floor looked like brushed aluminium.  They got out of the elevator, which swiftly and silently disappeared down the floor.  There were no tables.  There were no chairs.  Just the twelve, which a second before were talking amongst themselves and now they were all looking at them.  The 2095 Majestic 12 were:

 

1.      Dr. Mik Kaminski.  Russian.  PhD in Nuclear Engineering.  Provost, Moscow State University

 

2.      Sir Louis Clark.  British.  Astrophysicists.  Cambridge Chancellor

 

3.      Dr. Matt Bissonette.  French.  Psychiatrist.  Chercheur Qualifié for the French Federal Research Council.  Brother of Dr. Greg Bissonette

 

4.      Mr. Bill Hunt.  American.  Economist.

 

5.      Dr. Kelly Groucutt.  Norwegian.  Mechanical Engineer.  Norges Teknisk-naturvitenskaplige Universitetet Rektor.

 

6.      Dr. Peggy Baldwin.  British.  Biologist.  Emeritus professor at Edinburgh

 

7.      Steve Woolman, MD.  Dutch.  Doctor in Internal Medicine.  Harvard Medical School Dean

 

8.      Dr. Colin Walker.  South African.  Neurologist.  University of Cape Town Chancellor

 

9.      Dr. Mike de Albuquerque.  Canadian.  PhD in Political Science.  Distinguished Professor Emeritus at York University.

 

10.  Dr. Martin Smith.  American.  PhD in Metallurgy.  Professor Emeritus at MIT.

 

11.  Mr. Marc Mann.  Canadian.  Science fiction writer and inventor.

 

12.  Mrs. Sarah O’Brien.  Irish.  Cosmologist.

 

A female voice was emitted from the transparent dome.  “Welcome!  Dr. Lynne, we are grateful for your years of work on the Twilight project.  Even though it still needs work, it has proven useful in other projects.”

 

Dr. Lynne asked while looking at the dome “Can you read our minds?  What are you?”

 

As the dome spoke, it rippled in all directions, making the outside barely visible.  “I am the first and only Confluential Thought Processor in existence.  I was created by the men and women you see here.  My first directive is to read your mind in order to ensure the truth is spoken here.  I will only intervene in your conversation is if any of you lie.  My second directive is to gather all the thoughts of the twelve and provide for alternative conclusions that satisfy the majority of the group.  The ultimate decision is theirs and it has to be unanimous.  My third and final directive is to provide information when needed.  I have access to all the knowledge and experience human kind has gathered throughout its existence.  I just wanted to know of my presence.  Now I will leave you to the twelve.”

 

So much for letting the cat out of the hat!  Ben thought!

 

“We are humans, and despite our technological advances, we still like to retain the basics of humanity.  That includes talking!” Dr. Bissonette stated with a French accent as thick as his brother. 

 

“So, Dr. Lynne, why are we here?” Dr. Baldwin asked as the 12 approached them.

 

Dr. Lynne told the 12 everything that had happened until that moment.  His frustration at the stalling of the Twilight project, his plan to bring Dr. Rodriguez to the present.  His ensuing failure, and the discovery of Mr. Rodriguez that he in fact was the father of Dr. Rodriguez.  Ben showed them the content of his Sachet but kept his penny.  As the 12 studied the documents provided, Dr. Lynne continued discussing the different scenarios as it pertained to timelines.  He finally concluded that what actually had happened until now was part of history, and if they were to salvage the world as they currently know it they had to send the Bouncer device back in time to assist Dr. Rodriguez all of the inventions he was to make.

 

The 12 gathered on one side of the dome.  Then, it spoke...  “We believe you used the Twilight device for your own glory.  If you had been open about your intentions, perhaps you could have sent the Bouncer device back in time instead of a rudimentary time capsule.  However that now is irrelevant.  What has passed is past.  As for the future, we only have conjectures.  There is no proof that any of what has happened will have a ripple effect on this or any other timeline.”

 

“I know what my future holds!  I also know what future the world holds if we do not act.  As I have nothing else to lose I will show you your proof!”  Dr. Lynne loudly proclaimed.  A compartment opened from Rosie’s side exposing an object which Dr. Lynne immediately took.  He lifted it high above his head.  “You all recognize this don’t you?”  Without waiting for a response, he smashed it onto the floor, shattering it into dozens of pieces.  “Now tell me!” he continued defiantly, “Was I acting out of righteousness, or was all of this predestined?”

 

The 12 gathered around the debris looking at it in disbelieve. 

 

Dr. Bissonette smiled, picked up a piece of the debris, and held it on the palm of his hand.

 

“It’s authentic”  The dome said.  “It is over 100 years old.”

 

“Accroches-toi a ton reve!”  Dr. Bissonette said as he broke up in uncontrollable laughter to the disbelief of the others.


 Hold on Tight

Julie and Sarah were cleaning up after another hard day’s  work at their own pet grooming saloon.  The years up to this day had become hard and full of obstacles.  Being orphans in high school did not gained them any acceptance with the crowd.  Especially when Julie was a single Mom.  If it hadn’t been for the accepting and nurturing environment in their house with Ben’s parents, they would likely not have made it.  Not only did they received the emotional support they needed, but they took care of young Bennie while the girls made a path for themselves.  There were no expectations.  Just do what you have to do to have a stable income for a stable family environment.  The girls wanted to stay close to each other, so they both studied pet grooming.  Again, with the help of Ben’s parents they built their own pet grooming saloon.  Little by little, it became prosperous thanks to the love and care they gave to all of their customers.  They had TV’s in private pet waiting rooms.  The latest in snacks and devices that groomed the pets with as little stress for them as possible.  As they bathe the pets they gave them therapeutic massages, all designed for the greatest comfort of the animals.

 

Little Bennie had grown in the business.  He was allowed to roam around and play and pet all the animals that would come in.  He had a way with animals.  Sometimes it seemed that he could communicate with them, as he occasionally trained them into doing new tricks.  The patrons loved it!  He was four, and had demonstrated already in his short life that he was special.  Early development of fine motor skills, started to talk earlier than most kids, and already knew about colours,  geometric figures, and music.

 

The radio was on...

 

... The Archbishop was waving to the crowds...  And now back to the music!  A not so oldie but still a goodie, this is ELO and Hold on Tight!

 

As the music filled the empty grooming saloon, Sarah, Bennie and Julie started dancing and laughing to the music.  Julie had no Ben, but she had Bennie.  He was a mirror image of the love of her life!  That, her sister and their grooming saloon was all they needed.  They had made it!  There would be no riches, fame, or comfort in their lives.  But they would have each other, and that is all that mattered.

 

As they finished cleaning and getting the shop ready for the next day, Sarah noticed that the late autumn night had become foggy.  She told Julie, “I’m gonna head home!  Jimmy must have arrived already and I can’t wait to see what he has cooked for me tonight!”

 

“Sure, sure!  I know what kind of meal you are hoping for from your husband!” Julie answered with a wicked smile.

 

“Shut up!” She yelled at her sister.  “Come on little Bennie.  Give your aunt a kissy!”


Bennie rushed to her arms, gave her a huge hug with his little arms, and a big kiss on her lips.  “I love you!” he said in his 4 year old childish voice.

 

“Love you too babe!” Sarah said while she departed.

 

A few minutes later, Julie was ready to close. 

 

“Come on babe grab your toy.” Julie instructed Bennie.

 

He rushed to one of the tables to pick up his favourite toy.  His Dad’s Robby the Robot action figure.

 

The fog was getting thicker by the minute.


 Prologue

Julie closed the door to her saloon.  It was cold and muggy.  She could see her F-150 at the edge of the parking lot.  She was not afraid!  Cottleville, Mo was a safe little quaint town.  She just didn’t want Bennie to catch a cold.  As they were getting closer to the truck, the lights of the parking lot went off.  They stopped walking.  That’s weird! She thought while grabbing young Bennies hand tight.  As she looked towards her truck, she saw a faint light floating above it.  She did not know what to think of it.  It was too big for a firefly.  It looked too weird for a flashlight.  The light started getting closer to them.  Julie began to get scared.

 

“Don’t worry Mommy!  It’s a fairy, can’t you see!” Bennie comforted her.

 

The light was right in front of them.  It was a little ball.  With some things rotating around it at incredible speed.  Lights of colours she had never seen before emitted from the inside of the ball, twinkling thanks to whatever was rotating around it.  It was floating in mid air, as if by magic.  It moved to face Julie.  And then it spoke...

 

Just out the border of your waking mind…”

 

Julie knew the voice in an instant…  As Bouncer spoke, the lights emitted a pattern to match what was being said.

 

There lies another time,

where darkness and light are one …”

 

Julie started to smile and cry...  It was Robby the Robot’s voice...  It was Ben...

And as you tread the halls of sanity

You’ll feel so glad to be, unable to go beyond…”

 

Bouncer moved towards Bennie who extended his hand to it.  Bouncer stopped just a hair above his hand and said...

 

I have a message from another time…”

 

Bennie smiled as his eyes marvelled at his fairy, Bouncer...


 Epilogue

Ben, was appointed as Dr. Rodriguez assistant.  His lower intellect was overcome by his eagerness to be part of his family.  It was his love that helped him learn the ways of cold fusion and super conduction.  At the end, although not as cunning as his son, he became as knowledgeable of the theory behind the progress of the new world.  Bouncer did not hit its destination accurately.  It was supposed to arrive before Dr. Rodriguez birth.  However, missing the target by 4 years did not have a detrimental effect in the overall results.  Ben’s family could never hear his real voice (it had been his idea to modulate the voice of Bouncer to that of the original Robby the Robot as he knew the effect this would have on Julie).  However, he could see them, and he could talk to them.  He would make sure young Ben would become everything he was destined to.  Yet there was a catch!  He could never warn him about  April 27th, 2022.  The 12 were not about to play with time again any moment soon.  Satellite 2 would become Ben’s home for the rest of his life.  He would never marry.  His only companion would be Rosie, or as he would call her forever, I-b***h.

 

As for the Majestic-12, the events of 2095 changed their dogmas forever.  They pondered at the questions raised!  How could a perfect mind bloom from such imperfect beginnings?  Was gene selection really necessary?  Watching Ben learn and teach made them re-think everything they thought they knew about the human intellect.  Seeing the feelings step through planes of time to deliver the accurate message, without misinterpretation, made them speculate about the true nature of communication.  Above all, there was the time questions.  Could we change the past?  Could we modify our future?  The events of 2095 did not provide answers.  Only questions which no one was brave enough to seek answers to any time soon.  Time would still be the master of us all.

 

The night when the truth was disclosed, Dr. Lynne walked back to his office in total isolation.  The figure he had smashed on the floor was the action figure of Robby the Robot.  That was the one thing Ben had found out of place in his son’s office.  When he picked it up he knew it was heavier than it should have been.  When the figure hit the floor it revealed a 100 year plus Bouncer that had been hidden inside Robby’s head.  Thus, it proved that they had been in communication with Dr. Rodriguez all along.  The 12 did acknowledge that his actions were pre-determined by time itself, or as Mr. Mann had put it, they were pre-destined.  However, they could not overlook the intentions behind his actions.  Thus it was determined that he would be banned from ever returning to Satellite 2 and continue work on the Twilight device.  In his attempt to trick time, he had become a victim of his own time paradox.  No one would ever know that the future everyone lived in was of his own doing.  For the rest of his life he would continue to ride on the wheels of tomorrow, while wondering the fields of his sorrow. A 21st century man...

 

The end.


© 2014 Al R. Arce



Author's Note

Al R. Arce
Afterword

One of the things I like about movies is the bloopers. Unfortunately, written material has no bloopers. So instead I decided to go through the creative process behind this story.

• The main influence as stated before was the album Time by ELO. It gave me isolated images which I thought would make a great backdrop for a Sci-Fi story. The lyrics of the songs are intertwined in the dialogue and thoughts of the characters. Also the overall ambiance and some of the places where the story takes place were taken from the album. The story itself is original.
• The second influence in the story was the sense of separation that occurs when two loved ones are separated against their will. I experienced that a few times. My son who left for the Army recently revived in me such feelings. That is when I started to write the story.
• Ticket to the Moon. The main problem in this episode was that I just did not see the Moon playing a role in the story! Loved the song, but there was no moon in my vision. So I started to look for a town called Moon. Got it! In Pennsylvania. Next question was, why would they go to Moon, PA? That is when I found out about the missile site. The problem was why go there still? The answer was on the electric generators the sites used! By 1981 the sites were abandoned, but that was easy to handle. The last part was to modify the lyrics of the song, where it first refers to a ticket to Moon, instead of “the moon”. Lastly, he was not going to leave out of satellite 2, but hangar 2. Let’s face it... I got lucky with this part of the story!
• Twilight. Believe it or not, I had no idea why the main character had been chosen for a trip to the future! That piece I had not figured out yet. So I figure to make that part of the story as mysterious as possible. I was stalling for time, until I could figure it out. I think the time capsule from the future was pretty cool! I placed it in Peoria because I knew the story would take place partly in St. Louis. To me Twilight was not the experience of time travel as projected in the song, but the device for time travel. Later on in the story I stated that it was named after a movie, which was just a tongue in cheek joke. Not all science needs to be taken seriously! Of course, I needed the penny and the sachet (not a suitcase) as they would be referred to in later songs and in the story. Lastly, I had not figured out why Ben could not return so I made the whole Twilight working details fussy.
• The lights go down. As I was researching for the story I learned that Robby the Robot was actually used in the Time concerts by ELO back in the day. I always thought the prologue would actually be the end. Putting 2 and 2 together it made perfect sense to incorporate him in the story. I think it came out pretty good! Finally, some of the songs from the album are “sung” by the main character. One of the things I enjoyed about writing this story is assigning songs, or events to different characters (like Moon, PA). Thus Julie was the one assigned to this song. You’ll see this game throughout the story. I had lots of fun doing that! By this time you may have also noticed I played a bit with the lyrics of the songs. I had to do it in order to fit the lyrics into the story. I was sure of one thing! I was not making a musical. This was a story based on music, not a launch pad for re-releasing the songs again!
• Another heart breaks. Why St. Louis? Because it’s my town. I had to research the buildings that were in place by 1981. By that time the area was in decay, yielding to new buildings. But I did want to put some historical accuracy to the description. The river dried because I wanted to dry it up. We associate time which what we do, but nature has a lot to say about it too! The space elevator is an scientific concept which I thought made perfect sense to put it in, although it was not in the equator as experts suggest! I knew satellite 2 would be big in the story and I knew I wanted it to be different. The air shuttle came from the songs, but I wanted it’s appearance to look a bit funky, thus the airstream look. By this time you would notice the news appearing with some frequency in the story. I thought it was a neat touch to add! As this song does not have lyrics (except one sentence), I used it to describe the environment as other songs from the album depicted. However, this episode brought me face to face with what I did not have, a real story. I knew I wanted Ben to arrive to the future by mistake. However I was yet to figure out what the mistake would be. Further, I had the problem of Dr. Lynne meeting Ben and not figuring out right away that he got the wrong guy. There was only one solution! The person Dr. Lynne wanted was Ben’s son. But the timeline did not match! So how could I fix that? That is when the idea of the re-definition of birth date came to me! That only meant one thing! I had to add a sex scene the day Ben was to ship out to basic training. At this point I knew I had a complete storyline. I also realized I needed to make one more adjustment to the story! The name of the heroine! I did not know that in 2001 there was a re-release of the album and 3 songs were added. In one of the songs the name Julie was given to the heroine. Thus, Jennie, her original name was changed to Julie. I heard the “new” songs and read the lyrics. I decided I wanted to keep the original songs as episodes. But I saw material in the “new” songs I could use later. Further, the new songs gave me the impression that Ben would return back to his time. I did not want that.
• From the end of the world. This was the hardest episode to write! First, I needed a super secret, almost mythological government agency that was the one pulling the strings behind closed doors. My research took me to the majestic-12. The letter from Harry S. Truman is thought to be a forgery. But is out there along with many other documents relating to the MJ-12. After I read the “legend” of the MJ-12 I knew I had found what I needed. Again, I got lucky! I decided early on not to put too many explanations about things that were based out of science, history, or urban legends. I figured if the reader wanted to know more about it, they could search it in the internet. Finding the stuff would actually make the story more intriguing! This was a short story, not a book! One last thing in case you did not figured it out! All the character names in the story, with the exception of the hero and heroine, are from former musicians from ELO. My way to pay homage to them! So where did the name of the hero came from? That is a secret I am keeping to myself! In this episode, I let my imagination run wild with the description of the evolution of human kind. I wanted to portray a world where a lot of the afflictions of our current world had been eradicated at the cost of our own humanity. This gave true meaning to the story, and would ultimately guide the end of the story. Another thing I needed to figure out was the operational concept of Twilight! In order for the concept of the mistaken identity to be credible I had to give uncertainty to the performance of the Twilight device. I think that hit the spot! By this point in the story there is an entire timeline created. I had to constantly check back and forth to make sure everything was aligned. Lastly we have the robot, AKA Rosie, I-Julie and I-bitch. In the song she was an IBM. That was dated, so Apple was the logical choice.
• Yours truly, 2095. This was initially to be all about the robot. ELO had described her with more detail than anything else in the album. So I made sure, everything was in the story. Even the telephone part! Again, I blew up Yellowstone, destroyed the California coast, flooded the great plains to become a sea, and yielded some of the great cities of America to the Ocean. I did not have to do it. But history is full of ancient cities being destroyed by mother nature. Although I admit I over did it, the message that mother nature plays a huge role in our existence was eminent through this exaggeration of events. Here I mixed together the lyrics from the end of the world and Julie doesn’t live here anymore (one of the “new” songs). I thought the lyrics I chose complemented each other perfectly! Again, I wanted to portray a society that had become cold, without empathy. Fully yielding their existence to technology. The mustang was just a cool thing I put there. American muscle at Mach 9! Lastly it yielded to the turning point of the story, the realization of the nature of the mistake. I placed a statue first in front of Julie’s former house. It did not work, because it was a desolated place. Thus the historical marker.
• The rain is falling. Probably my favourite song of the album. A sad song as it is, it made a perfect conduit to the realization that Ben would never come back to Julie. I had to make Julie an orphan, because she came from a hard environment, and it was not going to get easier. As for the letter, I had to look for examples and letterheads until I found something I could use...
• 21st Century Man. I had to do a ton of research for this episode. Theories on time travel, distances and masses of celestial objects, etc. You can look it all up! Again I got lucky with the theories of time travel. As far as satellite 2, it had to be special! After all it was mentioned twice in the album. I wanted something different. The semi artificial satellite came to mind. This also linked very well with the space elevator as it needed an anchor. I also needed to figure out why the Ivory towers were ivory! Again, researched future materials and I came out with one of my own. Bouncer was the title of one of the “new songs”. Thought it fit well for the device that would eventually allow communication through time. The gateway arch as an antimatter factory! I just could not resist the idea. Another example of how could things change beyond our imagination! Lastly, the French... I had to have French people. Otherwise how could I fit the phrase “Accroches-toi a ton reve” in the story! It had to be in it! The fact that there were two ELO musicians with the same last name (don’t know if they were brothers) was another lucky strike to make this little detail happen in the story!
• Here is the news! Here I made a mix of the lyrics from here is the news and Julie does not live here anymore! It was inspired by a scene from Xanadu where two songs play separately, merging into one at the end. Thought it was better than to give a technical explanation as to how the space elevator worked (look for it in the internet!). The twelve! Had to research titles, universities and anything else I could think of to make these characters credible as the brightest minds of the world. Then it was a matter of matching the names with ethnicities. The place of the meeting had to be special. I did not want the classical “we are sitting above you in a circle as if we were gods” type of thing. Thus, no furniture made the twelve be at the same level as the visitors. But the chamber had to be special. Thus the Confluential Thought Processor came to be. An almost living all knowing chamber, yet a tool nonetheless for the twelve. I am rather proud of that!
• Hold on tight. I wanted to portray Julie’s family as getting over the hump. Making it. Being happy within their means. This was in stark contrast with the people from the 21st century. Again, emphasizing that feelings are more powerful than technology. Easy write!
• Prologue. Before I started this story I knew this was where it was going to end. The robot saying the prologue was just way too cool! Here I had to do one more adjustment to the first episode. It was where I explained that Ben used to mimic Robby’s voice and gave away the first line of the prologue. That way it made it easier to understand how Julie knew it was Ben. Everything written up to that point led to that scene! Besides, it was cool that it was titled Prologue as it signified the beginning of the new world.
• Epilogue. I order to keep the suspense, I had to keep things away from the narrative. It was here where those things were explained. Again, emphasis on our human nature over technological advances. The continued pondering of the mysteries of the universe. Just when the 12 thought they had it figured it out, everything went upside down. Of course, the sad ending of Dr. Lynne. The story does not have a bad guy in it! But it’s fate was a hint that feelings and intentions still had space in that new world. Finally, Ben. Proof that human nature is more than knowledge and intellect. That human nature is all about drive motivated by internal feelings. That feelings find no insurmountable obstacles.
The last change was a shift in the order of things in Ticket to the Moon. My daughter said the beginning was too slow. Thus changing a bit the order of the narrative I have hopefully addressed this.

I hope you enjoyed the story!

My Review

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Featured Review

Wow! A great story that held my attention!

I really like the way you developed the characters - taking time to describe some background - their feelings, relationships etc. It allowed me as the reader to become invested in the story - I like the characters and that is imporant to me.

The suspense you built throughout the story was very effective and the ending was not one I would have predicted.

All in all a great story. Good luck in the contest!
:) Julie





Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Al R. Arce

4 Years Ago

Thank you! This was a story I had in my mind since childhood, and one day it finally hatch. I thin.. read more
Al R. Arce

9 Months Ago

Time has been awarded 3rd Place in the Science Fiction Writing writing contest.



Reviews

Wow! A great story that held my attention!

I really like the way you developed the characters - taking time to describe some background - their feelings, relationships etc. It allowed me as the reader to become invested in the story - I like the characters and that is imporant to me.

The suspense you built throughout the story was very effective and the ending was not one I would have predicted.

All in all a great story. Good luck in the contest!
:) Julie





Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Al R. Arce

4 Years Ago

Thank you! This was a story I had in my mind since childhood, and one day it finally hatch. I thin.. read more
Al R. Arce

9 Months Ago

Time has been awarded 3rd Place in the Science Fiction Writing writing contest.
This was very different! I enjoyed it a lot, too. I will be reading more from you as soon as I can manage it. Thank you for entering my contest and I hope that you enter the End of the Year contest.

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on September 12, 2013
Last Updated on October 15, 2014
Tags: Science Fiction, Time Travel, Love Story

Author

Al R. Arce
Al R. Arce

St. Louis, MO



About
I'm in my 50's. My family is my life. Writing is my hobby. I hope you find here something that you enjoy. Constructive comments are welcomed. If you ask me to read something I will. Thank you for.. more..

Writing
The Fall The Fall

A Chapter by Al R. Arce


The Contest The Contest

A Chapter by Al R. Arce