An Exrcise in Reality

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: October 08, 2016

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Submitted: October 08, 2016

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Douglas D. Beatenhead Science Fiction Short Story

9514 Timber Ridge Dr. 4,887 Words

Grand Blanc, MI 48439 First North America Serial Rights

Telephone:(810) 655-0129 Copyright 2002 Douglas Beatenhead

Email: dbeatenhead@comcast.net

 

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AN EXERCISE IN REALITY

By

Douglas D. Beatenhead

 

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The year was 2028. He had just recently received his third doctorate; this one in applied quantum physics with general relativity. It was in this thesis that he united the four known forces, only to discover eight others. His previous doctorate was in genetics and biomathematics, and his first involved the science of a new form of abstract, matrix linear algebra.

 

His name was Dr. Duane Adams and he was only 24 years old. He was an astonishment--even surprising himself at his genius and ability to understand and apply the very latest in abstract science. Although most people called him a genius, he’s also been called: a freak, space alien, a prophet, messiah, eccentric, or an example of punctuated evolution--just to name a few. However, he simply thought of himself as a fast learner who had the ability and the desire to understand how the universe collectively works. Most of his time was spent in lectures, writing, research and experimentation.

 

They put his picture on TIME magazine and tried their damnedest to explain to the lay reader, all that he's done on the subjects he's discovered. New rocket propulsion systems, neutralizing the G force on aircraft designs, flying spaceships, creating a new branch of faster than light physics, and even changing dimensions. The discoveries never stopped. But then again, neither did his mind.

 

Near the end of the year 2028, on a night in late autumn, Dr. Duane Adams attended a symposium by a very outstanding scientist. It was titled: A New Understanding of Intellectual Biochemical Systems--the chemistries of intelligent life forms. The subject ultimately ended with the general conclusion that advanced biological systems do exist outside of our world and to stars beyond our own. Big surprise. Not only did Dr. Adams agree that there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, but he also believed that these other life forms were simply too far away; "even unapproachable by other dimensions--no spacecraft can ever reach us. Ordinary matter doesn't behave well at the speed of light, and if we go through other dimensions, it transforms into something else." Now they entered the realm of never ending speculation.

 

The UFONDs still had their own opinions on the science of space travel, even using some of Dr. Adams equations to prove it. But Dr. Duane Adams had other opinions as he was quoted saying: "I think all this fluff about UFOs is a waste of time and progress. We should be concentrating on more important issues. The ET scientists have been trying to communicate with other civilizations for over seven decades with absolutely no success. After all these years and with all of our supposed 'advanced technology', we still receive fuzzy pictures and frantic word accounts about UFOs. Even SETI has failed with all its latest--it's just a waste of time," he said. After the symposium, Dr. Adams left the building and walked toward his autolight transport.

 

While walking to his transport, he noticed that there were some people in the parking lot hooting and hollering while pointing toward him. As he approached, they gawked at him while screaming, "Look up! Look up Dr. Adams," yelling with faces contorted by terror. Then they all started scattering and running in different directions. Dr. Duane Adams stopped and turned swiftly to look at the sky, and in that moment, he saw something that changed his life forever.

 

It was a very bright light off in the west behind him. As it approached he could see three lights on the front of something flying, or floating very slowly. It appeared to be only about a mile above the ground. Whatever it was, he surmised, the thing was indeed, very large. To his estimation he figured the now obvious craft, a UFO, was about a mile wide and about five miles long. The brightest light was centered within two smaller and dimmer lights. He immediately thought of the middle bright light as some kind of viewing aperture--probably surveying the ground in panoramic representation. The lights grew much brighter the closer it came and it hurt his eyes when he looked directly at them. Slowly the thing turned up side down and moved in a straight path toward him, and him alone.

 

 

He watched with astonishment then turned his head away, only to notice another one approaching from the south. However large it may be, it was still some distance away, he thought. He could see that it was the same type as the one above his head, and that was the one that concerned him at the moment. Dr. Adams turned his head again and discovered that the craft was now only two hundred feet above--it was enormous. He turned to look back in the south direction and that's when he saw the other object burst out of sight. The only thing that remained was a long, thin streak in a starry night sky. It reminded him of a flashbulb--exploding in a blinding white light. He looked straight up again and saw that the overhead craft was now about fifty feet high.

 

While looking at the UFO as it slowly descended over the lot, Duane suddenly heard a sound that whispered like a very quiet jet. In addition to the softened roar, the ground rounded and swayed up and down, like waves on the surface of thick oil. He heard the noises of buckling buildings cracking and snapping on their foundations--some even crumbling to their basements. He had to steady himself on the waves of a solid surface, which also created large cracks and crevasses.

 

He was astounded by the extremely large spectacle and felt profoundly that what was happening was, indeed, real. Dr. Adams was having trouble catching his breath as he felt himself hyperventilating. And looking down at his hands and legs, he was bewildered to see them turning a glowing, twinkling pink. The last thing he remembered before he blacked out was something, or someone telling him: "Prepare to meet a new future." As he awoke, the first thing that entered his mind were the words: Unidentified Flying Objects.

 

 

"How could I've been so stupid and arrogant," he told himself, and his captors. He was strapped to a table and it was cold to his naked skin. Although he couldn't see the aliens, he thought of them as the typical grays that most people have described in the past and present. And the strange experiments they perform on his body fascinated him much more than the occasional sensation of pain. They took samples of his urine, sperm, blood, oral mucous, muscle tissue, fat, and even his fecal matter. However, the most amazing and surprising thing they did to him was an autopsy while he was still awake.

 

"Oh my God, is that my heart?" he said to anything that could hear him.

 

"That is your heart. We need to compare it with others," an alien spoke.

 

"Why can't I see you? Show me what you look like."

 

"The spectrum of your vision is inadequate," another voice spoke. Their strange and broken words were understandable but at the same time, had a very unworldly dialect that was impossible to mimic.

 

"Then give me some glasses with filters so I can see you?" he asked as if a matter of fact.

 

Their answer in return was silence.

 

"Those are my lungs. See me inhaling and exhaling--interesting--isn't it?" Duane said with some hidden-screaming concern.

 

"Yes. Interesting," it simply replied.

 

He could feel them probing around inside his torso, showing him bits and pieces of his anatomy. Duane took a big gulp, or at least it felt he did, and then screamed while fastened to safety braces, "Oh! Oh my--that's my brain! How are you doing this...and why are you showing me?"

 

"Interesting--isn't it," it simply answered.

 

After the autopsy, they put him to sleep again, leaving no stitches, no scars and no pain. He awoke naked, standing in a warm lit room that bathed his body in a glowing blue.

 

"Examine yourself," an alien voice echoed, "does your anatomy feel correct?" It was the first spoken question.

 

"I feel correct," Duane answered.

 

"Then you are complete," the alien replied.

 

He was presented a robe, which came from an inlet on the side of a wall, and was instructed to put it on. He did as they told.

 

"Your propensity must be defined," it spoke.

 

"You want to know how much I know?" Duane asked.

 

"Yes."

 

The alien invited him to sit down in a fabulous ergonomic, form-fitting chair that slowly materialized in the middle of the room. It looked like it was constructed of polished metal, but the material was actually very velvety and soft. It floated just above the floor. In front of the chair was a table, and on the front of the table was something that looked very much like a keyboard--but different in many ways.

 

Slowly, like the chair and table, there appeared before his eyes a holographic dome machine. And although holography on earth was nothing new, this was far beyond comparison. The resolution of the letters and symbols were so amazingly vivid, that it was perceptibly clear that the instrument was far superior to those of human origin. Then a voice entered the room.

 

"We need synaptic analysis. Respond with vocals or finger panel."

 

The first thing that was shown to him was a three dimensional panoramic screen of all the planets, including the sun. Dr. Adams felt immersed within the entire 3D scene. On top of the screen was a twin set of values for various parameters displaying: velocity, acceleration, position and time. One set for the earth and the other set for the spacecraft. From the holographic display, he could see that they were orbiting the solar system, and at a quite fantastic speed. One trip around only took an hour. And what was particularly worrisome to Duane was the time. Time on the craft was going backwards, but very slowly.

 

"This display isn't correct," Duane told the aliens.

"Explain," was their simple answer.

 

"According to your display, we're traveling faster than light; 2.9 percent faster if the numbers are correct."

 

"You are correct--2.9 percent."

 

"But my equations support that only superwaves can travel that fast."

 

"Your equations are incorrect."

 

"Oh really, and how can that be?"

 

"Your coefficient of space permeability is not a constant--it varies with time."

 

Dr. Duane Adams did some mental calculations, and then answered, "Okay. Yes. Yes, I see. That may explain it."

 

But there was no answer to his comment, only silence again.

 

Apparently, the aliens were giving Duane some time to study the scene and numbers, and then suddenly a voice echoed, "Do you understand what you're seeing?"

 

"Yes. We're accelerating," Duane replied, and then added, "We're leaving the solar system."

 

Duane sat comfortably in the chair and watched the values increase and decrease. To him it was all amusing; the velocity increased to 20.6 percent while the time decreased dramatically. He watched as the first star went by, and he even knew it by name.

 

"Are you surprised by what you're seeing?" it spoke its third question.

 

"No, not really," he replied.

 

Suddenly, he saw an enormous array of stars zoom by--faster and faster until they became streaks of color. And then what appeared to be the ultimate; they flew out of the Milky Way Galaxyand within seconds, they approached another. The velocity increased to 40.2 percent and time became meaningless. After another few seconds, Duane was in awe as he watched a multitude of beautifully colored and speckled galaxies flying by, and after a few seconds more, they became blurry streaks growing in intensity, and then exploded away from him into a bright red glow. After a moment, all he saw was void. The velocity climbed to 100.3 percent and the time had switched to zero.

 

"We have left your universe," an alien said.

 

"Where are we going?"

 

"To a new future," it simply said.

 

For the first time that Duane could remember, he was at a loss for rational explanations and no matter how often he spoke to ask questions, no words were ever returned. He decided to simply go with the flow. He wondered if the aliens would ever take him back home. And if they did, he thought, what was to become of earth? He had to smile at himself a little bit, because as he continued to think, he realized that not only would the earth be gone, but so would the solar system. And the sun was probably a red giant by now, or maybe a white dwarf. He knew this to be true because of the large amount of space and time he'd traveled--there'd be no turning back--nothing to return to.

 

He changed his thoughts to the aliens and wondered about their motives. And what were they going to do with him? He sat in the chair thinking when suddenly the screen came alive again. But this time with no pictures--only symbols, numbers and words.

 

"Your propensity is not complete," it said, "continue."

 

Dr. Duane Adams looked at the holographic machine again and noticed it transformed into a test. Questions, equations and diagrams had appeared inside the display. Intrigued, Duane began. At first, the answers were simple and covered all the body of knowledge discovered by humankind. But as the time grew to hours, the more he didn't know or understand. On the top of the screen it showed the percent of correct answers and at the beginning it read one hundred. But as the time grew longer and longer, the value grew to zero.

 

In a very frustrated and angry voice, Duane finally clamored, "I give up! None of this stuff makes any sense!"

 

"Propensity is defined," it said with indifference.

 

 

After his intellectual analysis was through, Duane watched the holographic scene switched from symbols and words to a black space with a point of blue light centered in the display. He wondered what it was, and what it meant. Suddenly and unexpectedly, the point of light exploded to fill the screen as Duane watched in utter amazement. At first everything he saw was a brilliant blue, but rapidly change into a multitude of vivid colors. Then the galaxies appeared, flying by and apart as each galaxy flew by another. The surge of excitement was much greater arriving than leaving.

 

"Is this a new universe?" he asked.

 

"Gamma, gamm pro-fa eerhoo?" Duane heard it say.

 

"What's happening?"

 

"Tok paa...be hoc coo sepaa," another one said.

 

"Are we landing?" he asked.

 

In the last moment of those spoken words, Dr. Duane Adams heard nothing more. His dreams were empty and his eyes didn't see when they beamed him on the soil of a foreign world.

 

Dr. Duane Adams awoke some time later and found himself lying on the ground, naked. Lying on his back and looking up, he saw something he'd never seen before and thinking he'd seen enough. With two balled hands he rubbed his eyes.

 

"What? What in the world--the sky is pink," he said out loud.

 

And the rainbows created an amazing unusual effect, one arched here, two over there, splitting the deep, translucent blue clouds which tried to hide a star and three moons. Even stranger was the near distant horizon: the trees, the leaves, the bushes and grass--all pastel colors.

 

"Is this autumn?" he whispered. And from a distance, he looked angelic. Slowly turning around looking, with his arms stretched out slightly and his palms facing skyward; he appeared to be mouthing a prayer.

 

"Where am I? What is this place?" His memory returned with those haunting, alien words: "To meet a new future."

 

"I get it. Now I understand--this is an experiment, and I'll bet they're watching."

 

Dr. Duane Adams stood silently and watched the sky for a while to see if he might be able to get a glimpse of the spacecraft. He didn't see any craft in the sky, but he took a little time gazing at the moons. They weren't like the one that orbited the earth. These were different--they varied in size and brightness. And they weren't just white and gray features with visible craters and streaks. No, these moons had colors and texture. They almost appeared to be inhabitable. It suddenly occurred to him that no matter how spectacular everything was, his common senses must come first. His interest switched dramatically and he sprang into a survival mode. He knew that he'd eventually need the six basic essentials: fire, food, water, shelter, clothing and a weapon.

 

He didn't know exactly what to do first, but fire seemed to be on the priority list. He scrambled for some weeds, small sticks and twigs, two branches and a rope-like vine. With these elements he did what some people would; he fashioned a bow and proceeded to make fire. Frustrated, he became suspicion. What was wrong? The weeds were smoking, but wouldn't catch fire. Taking a deep breath for a break, he smelled the problem. The air smelled different--much different than earth's. It had a rank flavor, kind of stinky but he was becoming use to it. He wondered if there was enough oxygen in the air, or if it was indeed, oxygen. Could it be something other? He had made ultrahigh temperature plasma many times before, and surely, he thought, low temperature plasma should be child's-play. He focused his attention back to his objective and proceeded.

 

"Come on baby, you can do it, just a little harder, faster..." puff!"...there we go." Dr. Adams had made fire. But because of the amount of sweat and time he'd spent, Duane was certain that the length of time taken had something to do with the air. He had to re-focus. No more speculating for the moment. He had fire and that was the end of it. Duane decided to make this campfire his 'home base'.

 

Now he needed clothing, something to cover himself for protection. Searching his surroundings, he noticed a very tall tree, which grew big brown leaves. Curiously, he approached. He felt the lightness and smoothness it exhibited, it felt dry and shapeable-- possibly wearable. Of course he would create his own design. Using a pointed rock, he began scraping away the unwanted pieces and keeping the design he desired. He had fashioned something like a toga, but much more flexible. He used a thin vine as a waistband.

 

 

Walking back to his campfire from out of the bushes, suddenly he heard some rattling in the brambles behind him. To his surprise, he saw an extraordinary creature walk sluggishly out and into the clearing. It looked like a crossbreed between a platypus with teeth, and a small hairless cow. The strange animal simply ambled its way past Duane showing no fear or regard. It hooted like an owl.

 

"Possible food?" he asked himself. He did some serious thinking and consideration. Now aware of what were obviously wild creatures, he proceeded to the next problem. He needed a weapon.

 

He set off to forest again to look for the perfect specimens. He found a very straight branch about eight feet long. Sharpening one end with the pointed stone, he then slit two thin slots on the other end for stabilizers. He found two nice strong leaves, and slid them one below the other, ninety degrees apart; he had fashioned the branch into a spear. He had his weapon.

 

Out of nowhere, a very sudden obvious thought occurred to him. That symposium he had last attended and the life forms they had talked about. Indeed, there were strange vegetations with unusual colors. And what about that small platypus cow with teeth, he thought? What other life forms might be living here? Could there be intelligent ones who think and create? Or would they all be predators and pray? He also considered where he might be on the food chain.

 

Dr. Duane Adams found it difficult to constantly hold back his natural curiosity, but he knew that the basic priorities must come first. He now felt the need for liquid; water would be nice. And before this day was through, he vowed to himself that he'd find water. All living things must have water; or could that ideological assumption be untrue here?

 

Although Duane had no real relative conception of time yet, he had had a strong sense that, from the time he'd been awake, that there were still five, maybe six more earth-hours until dusk, evening, and night. And as far as Duane could tell, this planet had only one star. Although night would be coming soon, it was reassuring to know that tomorrow would bring a new day. Light and dark cycles; Duane was happy about that because he liked the concept of sleep.

 

Again, Dr. Adams fell victim to letting his thoughts drift off into tangents and daydreams. He mentally shook off those thoughts about sleeping, and focused on to where he had left off. Water. That was the last thing he wanted today. It was time to go find water.

 

Duane spent most of the last few daylight hours searching for water. He was looking for brooks and ponds or lakes, even a puddle would do. And when he failed to find any, he went to sleep without water. He would try again tomorrow.

 

Of course, his campfire was still burning, and that made him content. The moons were back in the sky again, but in slightly different places. They looked like an artists' conception--their vitality was vivid and clear. Hidden from the day and only visible at night, were all the strange and beautiful objects that the night sky had to offer. Globular star clusters, galaxies, celestial clouds and stars. They seemed so close to him, though they were billions of miles away. Sleep came quickly that night, and so too, did tomorrow.

 

"I've found the human!" some girl cried out loudly.

 

"Does it look like us?" she heard another say.

 

"It's a man," she replied in a lower voice.

 

"Is he okay?" A man said as he approached.

 

"I think so...he's starting to wake."

 

"Are you okay?" he said to Duane.

 

Dr. Duane Adams awoke with blurry eyes and a very dry throat. He could hardly speak. As his eyes slowly became accustomed to the early morning light, he saw a man and a woman learning over him.

 

"I have to have water," he said in a low and gruff whisper. He forgot just how long it had been since his last drink of water.

 

"He's dehydrated," the man told another, "bring me some water." He held a flask to Duane's mouth. "Small swallows...that's right, one at a time."

 

Only after Duane came to his complete senses, did he scoot away on his butt in a mild state of fright. "Who are you people? Are you the aliens?" he asked defensively.

 

"No, we're not the aliens, and neither are you; you're just as human as we are."

"Then I don't get it," Duane said to himself and the other man.

 

Dr. Adams took a few seconds to look around, and saw a few other men and women standing near by. They were dressed in casual uniforms that almost looked modern, but only in the most general terms. They had no helmets, no explosive looking devices, bullets or guns. However, oddly enough, they were only carrying straight shafts with pointed tips, and to ornament them, the shafts were decorated with a series of tubular circles.

 

"Here, have another sip and I'll help you to your feet." the man said.

 

"Where am I?"

 

"Planet Laus Deo," the man answered.

 

Duane grabbed the flask and took another drink. He stopped for a moment to concentrate on another question. "Why are we speaking English?"

 

"What did you call it?" the man questioned back.

 

"English."

 

"Now there's another word for the books," he said.

 

"We're all speaking English…well, aren't we?" Duane asked.

 

"Call it what you want Mr.…I'm sorry, but what's your name?"

 

"Dr. Duane Adams."

 

"As I was saying, Duane; we're all speaking the same language, but each of us call it something different, and each of the names are new. We'll add it to the list of new words."

 

"Who are you?" Duane asked as the man helped him to his feet.

 

"My name is Ephrome Wiken, and we all have at least two or three names. We also have an extremely diverse culture, but there's one thing that's very obvious to us--we're all human beings. So in that regard, Dr. Duane Adams, welcome to our party."

 

"Let me see if I understand you correctly, Mr. Ephrome Wiken…we're all from different planets?"

 

"And universes if you remember," Ephrome added.

 

"What about the children?" Duane asked, "Where did they come from?"

 

"Surely, Dr. Duane Adams, you know where babies come from?"

 

"Yes, well, okay…I know, you know what I'm trying to ask you? Don't you?" Duane said more seriously.

 

"My apologies, Duane, I'm afraid I'm having a little laugh at your expense."

 

"This isn't funny," Duane insisted, "this is serious business! We're dealing with reality here! Don't you people understand?"

 

"Hum," Ephrome muttered: "reality, understand, serious business; we all know those words, Dr. Adams. And we still educate ourselves. What are you suggesting?"

 

"Look around you, Ephrome. Don't you understand what's happening?"

 

"Of course we do, and we're still learning.

 

"We're all aliens?" Duane asked while knowing.

 

"Good conclusion, Mr. Adams. And the drop-offs are becoming more infrequent--about one every ten years now."

 

"Do you have computers? Electricity? How about airplanes?"

 

"You're kidding I hope," Ephrome said, “look at us and around you.”

 

"We all have expressed those type of words--it‘s called technology--and we don‘t have it yet. You’ve only been here a day…haven’t you?"

 

"Just one night."

 

Ephrome Wiken looked at his people and smiled. "Let me give you an exercise in reality, Duane. You carry the distinguished prefix of doctor, Mr. Adams, but so do we. Let's see how smart you really are. Pick up that rock and throw it."

 

Dr. Duane Adams did as he said and threw a rock as hard as he could. To his amazement, the rock immediately spiraled and accelerated upwards with such intensity that it was just a blur to his eyes. He continued to watch. It stopped in midair, then began to vibrate violently until it was glowing a bloody deep red. Very quickly, it accelerated to the ground at such a great speed, that it made sizzling and snapping sounds before it hit the ground. And when it did hit the ground, it actually sounded like ammunition exploding. The rock shattered into several pieces and flew in every direction. Instinctively, Duane fell to the ground and covered his head. After it was over, he got up and said out loud, "what was that all about?"

 

"That, Mr. Adams, is reality."

 

"Do you understand what just happened?" Duane asked Ephrome mysteriously.

 

"Yes, finally, but it took us about three-hundred years--Laus Deo years of course."

 

"You're three-hundred years old?" Duane croaked.

 

"Oh no, I didn't mean to imply that. I was born here. I simply meant that our forefather scientists' took that length of time to discover the governing principles. That happened two decades ago. I'm not trying to change the subject here, Duane, but what's that on the ground?"

"My weapon," Duane said as a matter of fact.

 

"You haven't used it, of course."

 

"How would you know? I'll be happy to inform you, Mr. Wiken, I tried it yesterday and it worked perfectly." Duane forced the issue.

 

Ephrome stepped backward a few paces. "I want you to throw it at me, Duane, killing me if you must. Because if you don't kill me right now, I'm going to have to kill you." Ephrome drew his weapon, "You've got to the count of four: 3,2,1..."

 

Duane threw his spear at Ephrome, as accurately and as hard as he could. It made a vapor trail in the air behind it as it arched its way into the sky. It went way over Ephrome's head, missing him safely, and then went out of sight. To Duane, all of these events happening didn't make any sense. Nothing on this planet seemed right!

 

"Don't panic, Duane, we'll help you adjust. Our primary goal will be to get you settled in and back to school."

 

"Oh! That'll be great, Ephrome, and I'm very honored--I enjoy teaching."

 

With a gentle chuckle, Ephrome responded, "What knowledge can you share that would be relevant here? You are just now receiving your first lessons in our most basic natural laws. I'm sorry Duane, but you'll be a student here--not a teacher."

 

 

Dr. Duane Adams inquired with a disbelieving question, "Then I will be attending as a student?"

 

Ephrome's response was, "you'll start first grade tomorrow."

 

"You've got to be kidding me!" Duane demanded, "I have three doctorate degrees!"

 

"Well, why didn't you say that before?" Ephrome said blankly.

 

"You didn't ask me," Duane responded indignantly.

 

"Oh. Okay…well, under these startling circumstances…we'll start you in third."

 

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© Copyright 2017 Douglas Beatenhead. All rights reserved.

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