Copyright (c) 2016 by Randall R. Peterson ALL RIGHTS RESERVED This is a work of fiction. All persons, locations and actions are from the author's imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner.
By R. Peterson
Lightning penetrated the darkness for a brief instant and it showed relentless rain pouring cascading down the windshield, like Niagara Falls. Captain Smith tried flying the Fodiator through the gloom under manual control, finally gave up and switched to auto-pilot when the glowing spheres surrounding the vessel proved impossible to resist. Two flashing orbs entered the control panel and the navigation heading quickly changed to 15.634 degrees north and 75.419 degrees west. I was in the cockpit along with Alvin and Sabah. Captain Smith insisted that it would take four cockpit crew members to operate the craft where we were going. As we sped over America the lightning became more frequent, until every few seconds its strange otherworldly phosphorous light illuminated the land below us. I glimpsed the deserts Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico below us. They looked like islands in some strange inland sea. Still the rains continued.
“Mathematics is a wonderful thing,” Alvin said. What the hell? I thought, because he spoke as though we were all seated in his study, or some lecture hall. Completely misunderstanding my glare of impatience, he continued “Any problem known to mankind can be solved with equations.”
“Alvin Sullenger is the most famous scientist in the world not for his work with gravity but for his Balance Theory,” Abniel said as she brought us drinks and sticky buns heated in a microwave. She gave me a gentle smile, as if to say, humor him, please?
“I’ve heard your equilibrium theory ridiculed by theoretical physicists like Peter Higgs, Stephen Hawking and Werner Heisenberg, as being too simplistic,” I told him. “What exactly is it?” The quirky scientist had simple answers to almost every problem that made his fantastic inventions and brilliant discoveries in physics that much more astonishing.
“If A equals B then B must equal A,” Alvin said. “And it applies to all matter, mind, and energy in the universe.”
“I understand matter and energy but what the hell is mind?” I asked him.
Alvin rolled his eyes and began to sing and wave his arms like Ray Bolger, the actor who played the scarecrow from the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz “…and my head I’d be a scratchin’ while my thoughts were busy hatchin’ … if I only had a brain!”
I wasn’t the least bit offended; Alvin made me smile … and that was a very good thing.
“Then how do I become a rich man?” Sabah sounded skeptical. He sat quietly studying a console hanging over him that launched nuclear missiles when the Fodiator was in the air and atomic torpedoes when it was under water.
“Why do you want to become rich?” Alvin seemed more than just curious.
“To be happy of course,” Sabah blurted.
“Then,” Alvin said. “According to your beliefs, if riches equal happiness then by the laws of balance theory, happiness must also equal riches.”
“Then all I have to do to become the world’s richest man is smile?” Sabah sneered.
“You must act as if you already have your desires,” Alvin said, “completely and without faithless distraction. Then the universe is forced to put itself into equilibrium.”
“Perhaps in my infidelic imagination,” Sabah said. “The world’s insane asylums are full of self-proclaimed kings and movie stars, but what about reality?”
“Outside the fabric layers of the universe and inside all sub atomic particles there is only imagination,” Alvin told him with a shrug. “Believe what you want, but remember faithless distraction.”
“What is it about this specific location that is so important that we go there?” I asked the C.E.O. of Graviton Industries to change the subject.
“I, as well as my most trusted associates, believe that these particular co-ordinates define the exact location that the Mother Ship occupied when it last visited Earth sixty-five million years ago, just before the extinction of the dinosaurs,” Alvin said. He was texting into an i-Phone as a strange instrument floated in the air before him, something he had brought along from Graviton City. A hologram originating from the device projected 3D images of ever changing binary numbers, complex equations, and symbols on the aircraft’s ceiling.
“I was taught in school that an asteroid impact filled the atmosphere with debris bringing on a centuries long solar winter,” Captain Smith injected. “And as proof, a thin deposit of clay in the earth’s sedimentary layers, at the same time dinosaurs disappeared, contains large amounts of meteor dust.”
Alvin laughed while he continued to send someone a message. He could obviously multitask even better than women. “It was no asteroid. The Chicxulub crater is merely a footprint, a one-hundred and ten mile wide impression … like the dust track made by Neil Armstrong when he stepped on the moon.”
“The center of the Chicxulub crater is located under the Yucatan peninsula,” Captain Smith argued. “The co-ordinates, that we’re heading for, are five-hundred miles to the east.”
“The North and Central American continents have been drifting westward at the rate of one half inch per year.” Alvin said. “We used to be attached to Europe and Africa.” He switched a button on the device and was now playing a holographic version of World of Warcraft with a hand-held controller. “That would be roughly 487 miles … close enough.”
Thirty minutes later the aircraft ran into a patch of what appeared to be violent turbulence just as we were approaching the Gulf Coast. The Fodiator rolled twice before Abniel burst into the cockpit. She was obviously annoyed to see Alvin Sullenger still absorbed in his 3D adventure. “The world is coming to an end, we’re falling from the sky … and you’re playing a video game?”
I decided that even angry, she looked beautiful.
“Sorry,” Alvin said without diverting his eyes, ‘it’s a guild thing … were attacking the alliance capital in ten minutes!”
The Fodiator pitched violently to the left and Sullinger lost his grip on his controller. The mouse-like device banged against the fuselage walls. A swarm of black fluttering objects had surrounded the aircraft and appeared to be battling with the white spheres. A dozen flying creatures that looked like a horror-movie cross between locusts and piranha burst through the jet’s reinforced aluminum and titanium exterior. Immediately wind and rain streamed through the jagged holes the creatures had created. Seconds later, the plane went into a vertical dive. Even as I gasped in terror; I heard Abniel’s shriek above Sabah’s yell and I gasped again when she landed in my lap. I held her like a wild rabbit that I’d somehow caught with my bare hands.
Alvin’s brown eyes were as wide as a cow’s. “So that’s what Gubs look like! Amazing!” he exhaled, more curious than scared. My stomach was in my throat, thankful I could not scream. I held tight to my lovely colleague as if protecting her.
‘I don’t know what these things are,” Captain Smith wailed, gripping the aircraft’s steering tiller, “but I think your new amazing friends just destroyed the wing elevator controls … we’re going down!” The terrifying creatures were like balls of airborne Fluoroantimonic super-acids instantly destroying any material they came into contact with.
An earsplitting whine rose in pitch and volume like a descending missile.
Alvin struggled to pull several objects from his coat pocket including an orange Pokémon marble bag and began to read from a French pamphlet titled. Instructions de réparation d’urgence robot micro. “Gubs are the dark matter equivalent of bugs with chemical weapons,” he mumbled.
The Fodiator had begun to spin. I began to feel weightless. My head felt as large as a pumpkin.
Abniel’s fear turned to anger. “We’re all going to die, and Dr. Frankenstein is playing with marbles!” She squirmed in my lap, flailing her arms, and knocked the bag out of Alvin’s hand. Six tiny flying objects spilled into the air then regrouped and spun about the mad scientist’s head like orbiting moons. Alvin frantically punched several codes into what looked like a Genie garage door opener and three of the micro robots began to fire tiny laser beams at the Gubs while the others attached themselves to the instrument panel and the inside walls and began to shoot sparks as they repaired the holes in the fuselage. “Every bit of matter in the universe has its dark matter equivalent,’ Alvin said as he watched the inside of the cabin become a battleground, “that goes for all life forms!”
A long minute later, Captain Smith was able to bring the aircraft under control. He instantly sucked all the acidic fumes from the cockpit and refilled it with fresh air. It was a two second blackout that I’d never get back.
“What in the name of Allah were those horrible things?” A bulging-eyed Sabah shook like a wet and terrified dog as he stared at the smoldering aquatic insects twitching on the floor. My ears popped as the cabin pressure stabilized. I didn’t like the way Sabah’s hand hovered next to the aircraft’s targeting and launch buttons.
Calmly, Alvin explained: “Gubs are the dark side of Angylions, the white orbs that have been following and guiding us. Every conceivable bit of matter, energy, thought or emotion has a corresponding opposite. It is what keeps the universe and all things in balance.”
The battle raging outside had also come to a conclusion. The Angylions appeared to have beaten the Gubs. The few remaining aggressors vanished in a lightning flash.
“You would think,” Sabah said. “That a superior being larger than a galaxy would be able to defeat such small enemies. If this thing truly is God, then we are being punished for our sins, and we must all choose a more respectful and moral course that aligns with the wishes of Allah.”
The surety at which the cab-driver assigned by the N.S.A. sought to decide all our future morals and actions was beginning to disturb me. People of a right mind always contemplate and wonder … while those stricken with mental illness are always so dead sure of themselves.
“I’m almost sure the Gubs come from within the mother ship,” Alvin said. “As well as much more terrible things that I suspect we will encounter later. After all, a supreme entity that can traverse the universe at a thousand times the speed of light must carry good and bad along with her, otherwise where could it be found?”
Sabah smirked as if he knew the answer, but the eyes staring out the cockpit window were filled with fear. I’d been with the N.S.A. long enough not to trust them. I had a feeling that there was more to our cab driver from Turkey than met the eye. The wide eyed ignorance he had displayed at the airport and at Graviton City now seemed to be disappearing. He was obviously much more clued-up than he pretended to be, and that scared me.
We were now over the Caribbean, a little south east of Jamaica. “It looks like we’re all going for a swim,’ Captain Smith said as the Fodiator began to descend. A swirling vortex of vapor at least fifty miles wide swirled on the surface of the dark blue water as innumerable white orbs disappeared into the center.
I looked at the still smoking holes Alvin’s micro robots had repaired in the cockpit. “I hope there are no more ruptures in the fuselage.” We slowed to what I thought was almost a halt just before we reached the water, still the impact was jarring, a sonic boom exploding under water and mixing with our screams of terror.
“Quiet!” Alvin demanded. “Together with a group of mounted Horde. I’m about to charge the gates of Stormwind.”
The strange dark matter substance that mixed with the semi-liquid atmosphere of the new Earth appeared to vanish as the Fodiator became a submarine. Abniel wiggled off my lap and strapped herself into a seat. She refused to look at me; perhaps I’d held her a little too tight. Monstrous sea animals of mystical proportions maneuvered just outside the fringes of the powerful underwater lights. Shadows of fins, fangs, tentacles and other hideous appendages danced just beyond our limited view. “Oh my God!” Abniel screamed. A dark shape suddenly covered half the windshield and a suction clad tentacle with the girth of an oak tree attached itself to the port window. My head clunked against a support beam as the Fodiator was jarred violently to one side.
“Don’t!” Captain Smith stared horrified at Sabah. The Turkish cab driver had a finger poised inches from a button marked TUBE FILL PRE-LAUNCH. A red light just above TARGET ACQUIRED was glowing. “These ADCAP Mark 48 torpedoes carry an atomic warhead that is supposed to be incapable of detonation less than one-hundred seventy-three nautical miles from any target. But in any underwater explosion,” he explained, “the surrounding water doesn't absorb the pressure like air does, but moves with it. Even at that range, the resulting concussion would still wipe us out, and at least half of the world!”
“Are we going to let this thing tear us apart?” Sabah pulled back his fingers but not by much.
“There are other ways,” Smith said. He opened a tiny door in the control panel and adjusted what looked like an elaborate spring solenoid voltage regulator. When he flipped a switch a moment later I thought we’d been struck by lightning. The entire exterior of the flying submarine instantly turned to vapor, blasting outward for a hundred yards in all directions. “I’ve just turned the outside of this vessel into one of Nikola Tesla’s direct energy weapons!” Captain Smith beamed.
“I thought those experiments were a boastful failure,” I said. “A way to keep his genius in the public eye.”
“Actually, for all but a few years after Tesla died and the government kept his confiscated papers secret, they have been relatively common place,” Smith said. “Since the turn of the century you can purchase a small one almost anywhere.”
I stared in disbelief.
“A stun gun,” Alvin said as Regent Lord Anduin Lothar fell to his level one-hundred Shaman and a dozen others. “He made the submarine into a giant underwater stun gun.”
“The public eye is a bad place for geniuses,” Abniel said glancing at Alvin. “Unless you have a protected floating city in the Nevada desert that you can escape to.”
“Nicola Tesla could have built his own anti-gravity sanctuary but he made a crucial mistake and was tripped up by a common blunder,” Alvin said.
“What was that?” I asked.
“Faithless distraction,” Alvin shook his head. “He let another’s faithless beliefs influence his own.”
The underwater giants that had threatened us before were becoming more plentiful, but this time they kept their distance. Giant octopus looking creatures as large as carnival rides, enormous squids with arms half a mile long and other horrible monsters swam just outside of zapping range. Some of the creatures appeared transparent and we could see their insides working. We were all amazed … some of us were terrified.
“Obligate anaerobes are just micro-organisms that have always been here,” Alvin said. “Before this, you needed a time machine and a very powerful microscope to see them.”
“These kafir demons are too large to be from our world,” Sabah said wringing his hair. He was sweating nervous perspiration that gave off a faint scent like burning almonds. My trainer at the N.S.A. had called the strange smell Nutella without the hint of a smile.
“These creatures only look large because we are getting smaller,” Alvin said, “a lot smaller.”
“I’m the same size I’ve always been,” Smith said staring at his hand. “What are you talking about?”
“Ever wonder why huge things … stars, planets even galaxies can disappear into a black hole no larger than a pin head?” Alvin questioned.
Captain Smith shrugged his shoulders. “Squeezed together by tremendous gravitational pressure?”
“Size is just another element in the closed structure of infinity,” Alvin said. “It doesn’t matter how small something gets … you can always cut it in half … forever.”
“Are you saying what we are going into is something like a black hole?”
“Something like that,” Alvin said. “Only the Angylions know for sure where they are leading us.”
“I wish I had with me, a copy of the Holy Koran,” Sabah covered his eyes as if shamed by where he was. “So that here, at the end of all things, I might align myself with the wishes of Allah. I must now cling to the second pillar of Islam”
“What is the second pillar?” Captain Smith asked.
“Prayer,” Abniel said.
I remembered my National Security trainer’s simple explanation as to the fragrance that permeated most mental health facilities. “It’s the smell of crazy,” he’d told me.
Sabah unstrapped himself from his seat, knelt with his hands flat on the floor, closed his eyes and faced what I’m sure he thought was Mecca. His voice dripped with the distillation of overflowing terror as he listened to a religious message on his i-Phone and repeated the words as he put on earphones. "Aman Tanrım bizi yukarıda … bana sadık kulunuz … olmak yardım …"
We had problems larger than Sabah for the moment. The Fodiator, following millions of streaming Angylions, was moving toward a huge opening in one side of what looked like a massive underwater moon.
“What is that?” Abniel gasped as we moved toward the glowing white sphere.
“My guess would be cytoplasm enclosed within a membrane … a single living cell,” Alvin told us.
“Are we going to die?” Abniel gripped my arm so hard it hurt.
“We are all going to die sometime,” Alvin said. “I don’t have the itinerary but I think I know where we are going.”
“Where is that?” I had to ask the question even though I thought I knew the answer.
“To meet the one who planted the seeds of all life on our world,” Alvin said. “We are going to meet … Mother.”
The inside of the sphere was filled with alternating pure white light and impenetrable darkness like a very powerful florescent light rapidly blinking off and on in an underground cavern. The Fodiator, with all systems functioning except the jet engines, which wound down instantly upon entry into the sphere, settled on a glass-smooth floor like the surface of a perfectly frozen lake. It was only during the dark pulses that we could see anything. The brilliant Angylions revolved around us like a vast asteroid field in the darkness and disappeared in the pulsing light.
A hobo-stew of mixed sounds from the outside blasted incredibly loud into our ears, some of them violently objectionable, and all of us, except Sabah, screamed. The Turkish cab driver, wearing obviously sound proof headphones, was deep in prayer, his voice boomed louder than ever, and he seemed oblivious to our present danger. The exterior sounds gradually diminished in volume and improved in quality until every tone brought on a kind of tranquility and euphoric elation.
“I’ve never felt this calm, happy and hopeful!” Abniel inhaled deeply as if the air we were breathing was some kind of exotic drug.
“Where are we?” Captain Smith sounded like he was ready to laugh.
“I think this must be some kind of examining chamber,” Alvin said, “where our host finds out what brings us pleasure and what doesn’t.”
Until then, I had forgotten what it felt like to be sixteen. I was suddenly full of a non-nervous energy and my legs felt like they could run five miles without slowing. The tranquil and euphoric tones now delightfully crisp and clear were still changing. They slowly arranged themselves into a song. I had never heard the Byrds’ Turn Turn Turn played live, but no group of musicians on Earth could have played the classic folk-rock song with such profound exuberance and mystical charm as what we heard inside the sphere.
“Oh my God! This is my favorite song!” Abniel started to dance.
“It’s defiantly on top of my list,” Captain Smith agreed.
“I bought the 45 when I was thirteen and wore it out three times on an old Silvertone Instant Play record player,” Alvin said.
We were all smiling when the exit hatch opened seemingly on its own. As we walked down the aircraft stairs, none of us were frightened … just gloriously expectant. I blame myself for leaving Sabah inside the Fodiator. Abniel suggested that we bring him along but I said no. “He’s deep in prayer,” I told the others. “Let him worship God in his own way!”
A magnificent tree appeared in the distance with each dark interval of the pulsing light and we walked toward it. Perfectly tapered branches spread outward like an umbrella. As we drew closer I noticed the fruit. “What do you bet this will just happen to be the best thing we ever tasted!”
Alvin shook his head but he couldn’t stop smiling. “Whatever we are dealing with can obviously read our thoughts and also our minds,” he said. “What we are being presented with is our deepest desires and our basic beliefs offered as a gift.”
“What’s wrong with that?” I said as I reached for what looked like a perfect snow white apple.
“It’s the balance in all things,” Alvin said. “Nothing is ever perfect. You may not see the worm but it is there just the same!”
I took a bite, and it was as if my life-long thirst for knowledge had suddenly been satisfied. Problematic memories from my past now had easy and simple solutions. I knew more in an instant than I’d ever learned in eight years of all-night college cramming sessions. Undreamed of inventions settled in my expanding brain like patent ready pages in exacting detail and function. I knew without any doubt that life does not exist without death and that they are two parts to an eternal journey. The total amount of living things on our world is exactly equal to all the living things that have ever died from the beginning of time onward because they are the same. There is absolutely no reason to fear … change, because life will always become death and death turns into life and neither can exist without the other. I understood Alvin Sullenger’s Balance Theory and how it applied to all things in the universe.
“We have a visitor,” Abniel nudged me back to reality.
A glowing ball of light appeared an indeterminate distance away. I could clearly see a dark silhouette of a human-like personage inside. We moved toward what became a her with no fear. Joy, euphoria, and most of all gratitude, filled us to overflowing. A breathtaking love, longed-for for all eternity, was beckoning us forward. I felt more than wonderful. It occurred to me that we were children, lost for four-billion years and who had only now finally found our way home.
We all heard the mechanical whine, but Captain Smith was the first to realize just what the sound meant. Abniel and I turned with him. Four hydraulic rods on one wing of the Fodiator were lowering a sixteen-hundred pound AGM-88D nuclear missile into firing position. The missile was aimed directly at our newfound mother.
“What does that crazy son-of-a-bitch think he’s doing,’ Captain Smith screamed as we both turned and ran toward the flying submarine.
My newfound mind powers were extraordinary. My vision was like a super high speed movie camera that I could play back frame by frame. I was only halfway to the Fodiator, when I actually saw the nuclear warhead as it launched from the aircraft. Without being told I knew it was a thousand times more powerful than the one that fell on Hiroshima, I also knew it was the end of everything.
As Alvin had tried to tell us with his strange and over-brained Balance Theory. There is indeed … a worm in every apple.
To be continued …