[Of course, page length depends entirely on font size and type.]
when we think we know it all,
along comes a teacher...
Fendal had been in this predicament before. It was his own fault, he knew. Long ago in his younger aspiration days, prior to his ascendency, he'd gotten lost in between. It was only by sheer luck that he reached his destination. But that was then, when he was a novitiate in the art of plane jumping. Others refer to it as phasing and mind morphing. Officially, it was called Cross-Dimensional Transcription (CDT).
At the onset of the 23rd century, it was discovered that insects (Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Arthropoda, Subphylum Hexapoda, Class Insecta) could dream. It'd already been established that they were capable of experiencing the whole gamut of emotions that humans were, albeit modified and tuned to particular species. Moreover, some of the more ancient ones like dragonflies experienced emotions that have no counterpart in the consciousness of humanity. Correspondingly, their dreams vibrated with color and complex emotional interactions and relationships for which we have no explanation.
Crystal Rendezvous: Part I
It was a quiet sunday morning in the woods, his woods. Summer was on the wane, late August, but the air, though chill, smelled fresh and welcoming. Overnight clouds were slowly dissipating, revealing breaks of blue. His cat, Mariah, had already taken off for the day's adventures, sneaking through the patchwork of tunnels she'd made in the high, thick grass. Stealthy, alert, excited. He'd see her when she came looking for pets and attention, and, of course, food. Oftentimes, she would hang out with him; they were close and cared for one another.
Crystal Rendezvous: Part II
It took a few days to get his head around his experience, days he insisted on solitude with Mariah, his cat. He would be convinced he'd been only dreaming if it weren't for Nalina's crystal goblet. He couldn't guess how it got there, on his table. His rational mind suggested that during the course of some drunk, he found it, pocketed it, then dumped it on the table with his change, forgetting having done so entirely. But when he looked at it, took it out of its box and held it gently in his hand, it all came back to him. If it had been a dream, he asked himself, why wouldn't it just evaporate, at least the details, like all other dreams?
he ventured farther than ever before, his tribe was in need of food,
after a storm, the terrain changed and he became disoriented,
trying to find his way home, he discovered a world he didn't know existed...
Edgar was troubled. He sat on a moss-covered stone in the middle of his favorite glade. A brook nearby cascaded down three short waterfalls; the muffled sounds it made, as it tumbled over rocks and raced through narrow pathways, ranged the music scale. Fliers zipped to-and-fro hurriedly, busy with the day's work. Birds sang their morning songs. Life reverberated through the tiny clearing. But not for him, not this day. He laid his satchel of food and water down on the grass; he needed to think.
The Adventures of Jethro, the Frog
Once upon a time, a frog named Jethro lived on the fringe of a pond near the top of a tree-covered mountain. It wasn't a very deep pond, but it was wide and fed by a tall waterfall of cold clear mountain run-off. Surrounded by miles of forest, Jethro lived a peaceful, quiet life devoid of humans.
a world unknown to humans, left alone to its own devising,
a seer, a missed opportunity, three friends decide on a plan...
Spring had finally come to the high woodlands of Mount Cowabunga. The tips of firs, hemlocks, willows, and cedar branches sprouted the bright green of new buds. No human has ever trespassed on these steep slopes; the volcano was considered sacred and was regarded with reverence by the valley-dwelling populace far below. Purple, yellow, and vermillion flowers budded and would soon fill the meadows with loud splashes of vivid color. The rock-hard ground was giving way to the relentless warmth of the sun. Ice on the streams and brooks was breaking up, the sound of rushing water called the inhabitants to come drink.
three adventurers on a quest,
a long dormant volcano about to wake up,
a sorceress, a magic stone, an unsettled future--
a prophesy and a prophet...
Dominic pulled up to adjust a strap on his pack. Leroy inspected their surroundings while Yancy sat on a cushion of moss. He took a swig out of his canteen, then another. "Better go easy on that," Leroy admonished, his hands on his hips.
"We'll be at Nathan's soon," he responded. "He's bound to know where there's water; he drinks the stuff." As an afterthought, he added, a smile in his voice, "And he needs it for tea."
The real Alaska as lived by an itinerant fisherman, prior to and after the Prince William Sound oil spill of '89.
Crashing Out: Chronicle of a Drifter
Inspired by the winter spent with reindeer herders in Eastern Siberia, I decided to parachute into the middle of the Amazon with only the clothes on my back, a pocket compass, a Swiss-army knife, a basic map, my passport, a pack of matches, and a toothbrush.
two scientists search for the source of time, for timelessness itself,
unaware that their attempt is destablizing the universe
and that they would enter a realm they couldn't imagine...
Roger was depressed, sullen, had been for some time. His moody disposition had rendered him friendless. To his obsessed mind, his life was a tragedy. And now this: his TV remote needed batteries. He'd been warned. The 'remote battery low' message had been appearing on his screen constantly; for weeks, it seemed. But he held off. His cash was low and there were more important things to spend it on, like cigarettes and beer.
Stephen Obelisk had been keeping diaries for years, all his adult life in fact. He believed that if he could just write down the precise words in the precise order, they would magically free him. But from what exactly he still hadn't put his finger on.
punished for hubris and laziness, constrained to live the life of a mortal human,
he discovered something the gods had not anticipated, something that made all the difference...
A long long time ago, Bob lived the life of a god. He'd been bound to Earth and responsible for rain to replenish the flora worldwide and especially the crops of the humans. But that wasn't what he wanted. He'd requested domination over the fires in the bowels of the Earth, volcanoes and rifts hundreds of miles long from which boiling lava poured, destroying cities, villages, forests, and people in an extravagant and spectacular display of godly rage and displeasure.
On The Brink Of Extinction: The Cambrian Contingency
What would happen to our universe if the reset button were pushed? What would happen to life if the geometry of our universe were completely overwritten by a new one? What would happen to humanity? Would consciousness survive the transition? Can it be stopped!
Derek didn't understand, not the underlying concepts or the operating principles. It was his first assignment. Although he trained on the latest holographic simulator known, it was like driving a grav-car, he learned how to drive it, but as to how it worked he had not a clue.
a mysterious kidnapping on a planet at the edge of the Orion Arm,
a freelance cargo ship, a captain lost in grief, and a crew ready to do anything,
two planets from the Perseus out to thwart the plans of an authoritarian government,
and a brilliant scientist whose discovery it all hinges on
He felt like a fraud and a coward. Biting his tongue for the sake of,..., what? Until it all came crashing down like the card house it was. He wanted to die. Didn't care how, not really. Painlessly would be nice, but, as long as it was quick, he didn't care. When asked how things were going, he'd always reply -- fine. Fine. Right. He wanted to tell the truth; he wanted to say he felt like hell, that life meant nothing, less than nothing. Where he got the energy to go on, he had no idea. Thoughts of suicide were his constant companion, but something always held him back; he figured it was her. It certainly wasn't fear of the unknown; of that, at least, he was certain.
The Story of Donald
From the Great Library on the planet Xulcator
Keepers of all Knowledge and Legends in the Galaxy
[or at least they try to]
a lost ship in need of repairs forced to land on an alien planet,
a planet without life, yet full of growing things,
a planet with a secret no one could have imagined...
The Space Fleet transport ship Enigma, contracted to the Froebinus Environmental Institute, was ferrying a team of enviroscientists to a potentially earth-like planet in the near Sagittarius Arm. It was routine business. But as they altered course at a prescribed waypoint, the entire ship shuddered violently, then shifted in and out of phase with hard matter. Abruptly, they emerged from quantum space into ordinary spacetime in the middle of an asteroid field. Their attempt to reenter quantum space failed; the gluon-field capacitor was malfunctioning. Taking a few lumps along the way, they managed to escape the worst of it. A planet loomed ahead. Needing repairs and a place to stop to reorient themselves, they scanned it for acceptable parameters.
terraforming on a lifeless alien planet on the edge of humanity's expansion,
androids out of control seeking to know what it means to be alive,
and a man who can unravel the mystery, a man trying to begin a new life...
Jonathan Xavier Blakely was given an opportunity to get out, all the way out, and decided to take it. His wife had passed away two years earlier, they had no children. Depressed, his work suffered, he only had one paper published in all that time, in a second-rate journal to boot. For a scientist of his caliber and renown, that was unacceptable. He was a major contributor, 20 years ago, to the theory of neural network entanglement. It fostered an evolutionary and exponenential leap in the processing capabilities of the android brain.Time Thieves
a universe coming to the end of its life,
an effort underway to steal time from ours,
unknowingly, a man opens a portal between them...
A door slammed, he didn't flinch. The large house was dark, even with the afternoon light slanting in through the dusty, cobwebbed drapes. The family had moved out; ghosts, it was reported. It dominated a high hill overlooking a monastery halfway down. At the bottom of the long slope, where the land leveled off, sat an ancient cemetery, and about a quarter mile beyond was the main harbor where fishing boats tied up. It was a quiet town, not much out of the ordinary ever happened. Until this.
a small, easy-going town somewhere in America,
a relic that if used properly can bring the dominance of evil into the world,
and an alien agent with remarkable powers sent to prevent it...
It was a warm saturday morning in Myrtleville. The soda fountain at the drug store on Main street was doing a brisk business. Franklin's Hardwares was running a sale on grass seed; well-kept lawns were the pride and joy of the community. Sherman's groceries was out of hamburger buns; with July 4th coming up, it was the talk of the town. Tammy's bar already had a few regulars, talking about baseball and arguing over who was the best mechanic in town. A few were warming up the pool table, it was going to be a hot afternoon and they wanted to be sharp.
In the year 1859, Charles Darwin published Origin of Species; a few years earlier, 1856 to be precise, Neanderthals were discovered in a valley of the same name near Mettmann in what is now North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. Each of these major steps forward in understanding corroborated the other and presented the world with a new, revolutionary perspective on what it meant to be human.
the universe is splitting apart, tearing along a jagged edge of spacetime,
the shock wave radiates across the galaxies leaving devastation in its wake,
two scientists on Earth, with the help of a being from another realm,
are determined to stop it before it reaches the Milky Way...
Discordance marked its passage, a vast expanse of formless emptiness lay strewn in its wake, the very space around it dissolved into chaos and harsh white noise. The crack raced along the jagged fault line, increasing in speed as it tore through the fabric of spacetime. Even as the universe was increasing in volume, it was splitting in half. What had given birth to space and time was going through a transformation, an emergence into a new form. Galaxies and clusters were in its path; the closer to the fracture, the more forceful and destructive. The shearing sound reverberated across the universe, ripples of memories undulating ever outward.
an approaching black hole threatening annihilation, a shamanic scientist who believes he can stop it,
and a researcher from another plane of existence who just happened to be in the neighborhood...
It was imperative. He sought the solution to a problem that would save everyone; he believed it existed, but nowhere could he find it amongst the known and familar thoughts and ideas populating his mind. It had to be outside of it, or at least outside of what had formed into rigid and fixed ideas. A new arrangement, a never-before seen pattern, emerging and coalescing into clarity itself.
two captains, two supercomputers, one sorceress, at the vortex of timelessness,
enclosed within a barrier of unknown energy, and no way out...
Long ago in the year 2213 the Space Fleet Discovery Ship Medusa was exploring the far region of the Sagittarius Arm on the other side of the galaxy. They'd chosen a destination area that appeared to long-range probes to be completely devoid of stars, planets, asteroids, comets, and debris of any kind. Even radiation. Almost a hundred parsecs in diameter, it was a volume of space that clearly didn't make much sense, given that even between Arms there was something. Their mission was to investigate, so they investigated.
the midst of an intergalactic war,
a world-encompassing sea of rock,
a cavern of unknown intent
A muffled wump off in the distance, coming from what sounded like the next valley, dispelled his homesick reverie, bringing him reluctantly into the present.
"Move out," came the cry, echoed up and down the line. Mogarth raised his heavy body, his four powerful yet very tired legs straining, wiped his antennae clean, then, lifted the M-ray pulse rifle and slung it over a shoulder. They walked ahead, wary but also casually, they've been here before. They marched in silence towards the hill, not knowing or wanting to know what lay beyond. Mogarth, his mind weary, tried to imagine what could've made the wump sound. It was new.
a robot composed of an unknown mineral kidnapped to another world,
a collaborative movement towards autonomy amongst an alliance of colony planets,
and a scientist's quest to track down his lost creation whose nature he only thought he knew
Dgggg. Vimmmm. Ca-chunk. Mmmmm. The robot stood, waiting for commands. Doctor David Kobanoff, lead scientist on the project, dwarfed by the size of the metal man, stared up into the blank expression on his creation's face.
"Do you see the container on the table, Tobias? Pick it up and bring it to your lips." Tobias had been the name of a character in a story his mother used to read to him when he was little, after his father had died in the war, when they lived together and alone in a remote rural area of northern England. A mythological person of great powers, he would call on him to protect him at times of stress and loneliness. His imaginary friend. As head and instigator of the project, he had the liberty of naming their first robot.
Captain Coary and the Space Rangers
Volume I: "Realm Of The Thought Beings"
Volume II: "Invasion Of The Dark Lord"
Volume III: "Time Eaters of Centaurus and the Dancing Twins"
Volume IV: "Day Of The Sarcophagus"
Volume V: "Timequake At Planet Zero"
It was a hot summer night. The birds and other day creatures had all gone to bed. Mary Elizabeth was sitting in her rocking chair that used to belong to her Aunt Bessie who died of cholera a few short months ago. She was well-screened in, Mary Elizabeth, that is, from screens she made herself.
As far back as the twenty-first century it was suspected that space and time were simply emergent phenomena of a more complex underlying process, like the earth's crust floating on its mantle.
It was autumn in Massachusetts, a sharp invigorating sunny day. I was wearing a knee-length cashmere coat, dark blue; a scarf a friend had given me; and suede cowboy boots. I was visiting folks, and to give us all a break, I decided to go for a walk in the woods nearby.
Jeremiah Zad tossed and turned; he'd been having nightmares for weeks. He couldn't think of a single reason why; his life was fairly quiet and uneventful.
The snow had been falling steadily for three days. Dave Flattery decided to work from home, even with his four-wheeler, it was just too much to try to drive. He worked in advertising and could accomplish as much at home as in his office.
His old Suburban clattered over the familiar potholes of the dirt road leading to the compound. Cresting the final hill, Doctor Jameson could make out the three trailers parked in a circle and the canopy-covered sitting-area off to the left.
Robert Fenwick III didn't believe in God. It wasn't that he considered himself a humanist for whom the question of God's existence is irrelevant, or an agnostic for whom the question is unanswerable, or, heaven forbid, a nihilist for whom no question need be asked; no, such labels were beneath him. He simply could not be persuaded to subscribe to or endorse any dogma, ideology, philosophy, or belief system, including those that believed in not believing.
The contract was for 5,000 dollars. Not much, but enough for the way he was living. All he had to do was drive 200 miles east and kill a worthless drug dealer and, of course, any witnesses, like family, friends, or customers.
After years of soul searching and misinterpreting events based on faulty intelligence and shallow understanding, he arrived at the end of his life a broken, confused and deeply troubled man.
Zol-Tar dropped through the interstices of Mind ever more deeply with the same ease as an insignificant gnat might fly through the massive holes of a screen.
Frick and Frack, collaborating scriptwriting team, in the back of a jewish delicatessan, 3:15 P.M., Monday, July third, 1994; New York, New York:
It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was that confusing. I didn't know if I was coming or going. Melinda, my dog, was in the hospital waiting for a heart donor, it didn't look good.
A shot rang out; it happens. The captain of the vessel slumped forward, his face coming to rest in a simmering bowl of Quaker Oats. The entire back of his head was gone. That is to say-- vaporized.
Wielding the heavy black rock found protruding from the wall of their cave, its narrow edge chipped to utter silence, Gorg easily rended the belly of the long-toothed beast.
Megan put her drink down hard on the glass-topped coffee table. Nobody moved in the hot, stuffy parlor. Through the sliding screen door, the fading light outlined the mountains far to the southwest, dark clouds menacing their jagged ridges and peaks like a pack of hungry hyenas ready to pounce.
You have to understand what I'm about to tell you is strictly between you and me. You must promise. I have to tell someone before I bust or get killed too. I'll start at the beginning.
Three teams of astronomers poured over sections of a picture of the deepest view into the universe ever seen, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope over what amounted to four days of exposure on a single location -- a point, actually -- far off in the distance.
It's not easy for me to take corporeal form. I can only do it for a brief period of time; the energy outlay is enormous. But I'll try to maintain stasis for as long as possible so I can tell you what I've discovered. Two hundred and fifty seven years ago, I died, or at least it seemed so. Let me attempt to recount the events leading up to it, and those that followed.
It was a dark and moonless night. Quiet prevailed in the rough-scrabble town; its hard-working residents either fast asleep or huddled in the few bars that spotted Main street, their neon lights beacons of refuge from the damp chill. None could have been even remotely aware of what was about to take place.
Charles scrawled lines on the paper with the unusual pencil he'd found while exploring the storage shack at the back of the rental. It was hardly what you would think of as a writing instrument, it's length -- a foot or more -- and its elongated teardrop shape spoke otherwise. But the small boy saw it that way and so it was.
Frank was sitting on a moss-covered log in the quiet, peaceful forest. It was his desire to sit some place with little to no distractions in order to think.
The winter dawn under the heavy sky contrasted his surroundings in shades of grey; shadows and silhouettes of angry trees squirmed franticaly over the ice underfoot.
He was kidnapped while in dreamland and taken far away to a sunless planet. His shadowy captors unceremoniously dumped him and left. No one else was around.
His being dwelt beyond the confining envelope of space and time we call the universe, once a tiny seed of creator-energy.
In the beginning, Mankind pursued a pantheistic spirituality infusing all things -- living and nonliving -- with the qualities of a Supreme Being [shamanism being the oldest form of this].
I was sitting alone at a bar drinking bourbon and coke on the rocks, mesmerized by the whirligigs of leaves and trash dancing in the street.
He was going mad. Living alone in the quiet woods with his cat, Mariah, he'd lost touch with society; it didn't take much. Reality was next. Except to buy groceries and other needs, hardly ever did he venture forth. But his reclusive lifestyle was not what was driving him crazy.
Nalina and Ramajadi strolled down the grassy hill towards the town below. It was a sunny day. Butterflies flitted about, riding the sweet-smelling updraft. They entered through the south gate; the road was dusty, it hadn't rained for a while.
Tableaux | Portraits
(1) Paleoneurobotany, (2) The Fenwick Boson, (3) Dark Matter Galaxies,
(4) Thought Has A Material Base, (5) November, 2126, (6) The Evolution of Man's Destiny
The scientists at the International Institute for Extra-Planetary Discovery (IIED) passed around tubes filled with strong herbs, making sure everybody's pipe remained full. They were in a celebrative mood and deservedly so.
"Tom, you know you have an early meeting tomorrow, don't you?" cooed the machine voice, tinged with smothering femininity, lilting in all the right places, but slightly dissonant as though pieced together.
The following dispatch was captured in mid-broadcast, as it were, and translated--appropriately interpreted where necessary--by Doctor Heinrich Korazinski of SETI. Although the sub-space recording has been verified and accepted as genuine by the scientific community, Doctor Korazinski refuses to reveal how he understood the alien language. One can only guess.
It's 3:30 in the afternoon on a drizzly chill April day in the Northwest. The phone's ringing in the other room; ignore it. Let me pour a glass of Sheraz and get comfortable. I want to tell you about where I've been living for the last half of my life.
He was from another planet; it was obvious. No one that smart and that good looking could possibly be from Earth. After being elected President of the World, he initiated mandates, proclamations with the weight of law:
He was a broken, shattered force of nature, a discombobulated field of loosely connected molecules purposefully rendering the shape of a human being by sheer will and tenacity.
Just like it says -- s t u f f.