Who Do You Think You Are?

Who Do You Think You Are?

A reader brings up the need for further light on the dark mantra from my book “The Lost Key of the Buddha” which was “Who do you think you are?”

First let me point out that the “Who do you think you are?” often does come to you from your Dweller or sometimes the Dark Brothers as an attempt to stop you from moving ahead. This can happen if you are attempting to shine light in darkness or increase the sharing of light within light.

In other words, it can happen if you are confronting an organization in complete illusion or shining a greater light among fellow seekers such as exist here. Gathered seekers are not perfect and still have much to learn and the “Who do you think you are?” will also hamper good dialog being discussed among them.

Secondly, it may seem that ignoring that mantra could lead to an inflated ego. Should you always ignore the statement or are there times that one should pay attention to it?

The answer to this question again requires the all-important Second Key of Judgement. Whenever one decides to follow a rule with a complete black and white attitude there will come times when it does not apply and deception will follow. To avoid getting caught in this trap the principle must be sought and understood. Only when the principle is understood will the seeker be able to see correctly how the mantra is used destructively and then shine the light in the darkness.

To shine the light on the underlying principle we will discuss the two applications of the mantra and how to differentiate.

[1] When it inflates the ego.

The ego tends to over-inflate our own value in relation to our fellow men. When the pilgrim succumbs to this tendency, and does not resist or introspect, the results are startling. The person then begins to see himself as being two, four, ten and a hundred times more capable and important than he really is. Once he follows the path of the ego to great unearned heights his logical mind may throw the question back to himself: “Who do you think you are?”

He will register this question and then ignore it with reasoning such as:

“God has told me who I am so I must be a much greater soul than my brothers.”

“I am as great as any man in history.”

“I am just like other great persons when they started out but no one knows me yet. I am not seen for who really am.”

Example: The deceived one thinks: “All signs point to the fact that I am a great avatar or messiah. My mind asks who do I think I am, but I must ignore this and submit and follow the voice of my soul or god who tells me who I am.”

It is not the voice of God he is listening to but his ego. The voice of God will never tell you that you are a great person or messiah figure. The most it will do is to give you a job to do. God is not interested in your greatness but is interested in the labor you are capable of doing. The great servants will listen to the message and do their job without concern about their own greatness. Those who are ego driven will be very concerned about their greatness being recognized.

The above is an extreme example but in ordinary lives the ego still works overtime. In his job, for example, his ego may convince him he is superior when he is doing a mediocre job. In football he may think he deserves to be the quarterback when others are more proficient than him.

In these and many others “Who do you think you are?” is a legitimate question.

[2] The negative effect of the mantra on sincere seekers is that it makes them doubt themselves and that which they are capable of accomplishing.

Unlike the voice of the ego which tells the pilgrim he is a special being, beyond that which he has earned, the voice of the soul tells him that he as a reflection of God. As such he is capable of accomplishing anything that anyone else has if he wants to put in the time and effort. Equality and brotherhood is stressed by the true voice, not superiority or unearned status.

Here are some examples where the mantra is used in a negative way to discourage seekers.

The pilgrim seeks a revelation through the soul. As he is on the verge of it the mantra comes: “Who do you think you are?”

He thinks to himself “I am silly to think I could get an answer like Moses or Paul did.”

The truth is that we all have equal potential and the gifts that are available to one are available to all if one is willing to pay the price.

The pilgrim feels the inner voice telling him he needs to do a work that will further the will of God.

Again he hears “Who do you think you are?” I’m no apostle like Peter or John.

The truth is that what one can do all can do if they are willing to move ahead and invest the time and effort needed.

This also happens in everyday life. Maybe your inner voice tells you to go to college and get a PhD. Then your dad tells you. “Who do you think you are? No one in the family has ever gotten a PhD. Do you think you’re smarter than the rest of us?”

Or it may manifest in lesser things with such challenges as:

“You think you’re better than me because you quit smoking… “

OR, he is insulted because he…

Learned a second language.

Goes to church.

Got a promotion, etc.

Whenever the seeker moves forward, he will, encounter resistance in some form of “Who do you think you are?”

The key to true discernment is to look at the essence of the principle that gives us the true way to respond to this mantra.

The main differentiating point is this:

The ego will emphasize personal unearned greatness and unearned illusionary accomplishment.

The voice of the soul will not put emphasis on personal greatness but on the job to be done or the talent to be acquired.


A reader asks how the cycle of 7 female and seven males lives works out within the 1000 lifetimes.

There is not just one set of cycles of seven, but many within the 1000. After seven lives as a male and then seven as a female the cycle repeats.

However, this is not a black and white number. If a life or two is cut short it may take more than seven lives to complete the cycle. Then, because of accumulated karma, a break in the cycle may be needed. In essence, there are seven waves of female followed by male energy to pass through and then it is repeated.

Things change somewhat when the person becomes a disciple. At this point he has learned most of the lessons of the two energies and can choose his sex. He can pick the vehicle which is most useful for the service required.

During the Piscean Age a greater percentage of disciples incarnated in male bodies because of the greater opportunity. That is changing, however, in this age because of the greater opportunity for service and equality as a female today. The disciple is more interested in opportunity than gender or race.

The 1000 lifetimes are experienced in this system of creation and during this period all seven chakras are developed. These are lives in physical or etheric bodies. They may not all be on this earth.

During the first 777 lives progression is very slow and made mostly by trial and error. After this the pilgrim begins to search for meaning and answers. Somewhere near the thousandth life the disciple reverses his journey around the zodiac and goes through the labors of Hercules. This can take from 12 to 36 lives.

The seven initiations are not directly linked to the opening of the centers. At the time of the first initiation the lower centers are mostly open and the throat and heart are partially opened, but not completely under control. One can still find correspondences to the centers. For instance, the first initiation is symbolized by a rebirth — the birth of the Christ in the heart.

The first center is the source of physical life, but the first initiation is about the birth of spiritual life, a higher octave of the first center.

We have lived more than a thousand lives if we were to go back to previous systems and universes but the door to those memories is closed to all, except the mind of God itself. We are eternal beings who live endless lives according to our desires.

Beware of the young doctor and the old barber. Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

Oct 22, 2007

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Hidden Codes

Hidden Codes

There has been much interest in codes in the scriptures, the Great Pyramid, Da Vinci’s works so I thought I would give some thoughts on these and other anomalies.

What makes these interesting is that they appear to give to us hidden messages, and it is always fascinating to decipher hidden codes and discover their meaning. This natural interest is one of the reasons The Da Vinci Code was one of the biggest selling books of all time.

Hidden meaning is said to be found in a number of differing codes. Some, but not all of these are:

* Parallel or corresponding verses. The seeker examines writings of different times or locations and corresponds one against another to find hidden meaning.

* Alphebetics. This is a system developed by a member where he finds synchronous meanings in words, letters and numbers.

* Numerology. By reducing various words and phrases to numbers hidden truth is revealed. The most popular use of this is the seeking of the notorious 666 in various names.

* Chiasms. This is a coded method of writing that was recently discovered in the Bible. You can read more about it in this website: http://www.jefflindsay.com/chiasmus.shtml

* The Bible Code. Here different repetitions of letters and words are sought and put together to reveal predictions of the future.

Bible code experts have been able to find all the great events of our history locked up in Hebrew code which has predicted everything from Christ to Hitler to the Kennedy assassination.

I first became aware of code locked up in the Bible over thirty years ago when I read a book about hidden messages in the Bible. I do not recall the name and author, but I was captivated with some of the things he discovered using various methods of numerology. In the creation account alone, he found all kinds of measurements that have not been available until the modern era. Coded in the Hebrew was the distance from the earth to the sun, the circumference of the earth as well as its radius and numerous other celestial measurements.

The author concluded that such things coded in the Bible could not be a coincidence and made this conclusion: He figured the ancients had much knowledge that they thought would be lost so to protect and preserve their technology and knowledge they decided to code it in the Bible and other writings. This way the knowledge would be preserved. Even after a cataclysm mankind would not have to rediscover it all over again.

This sounded like a fine conclusion until I started putting two and two together.

If the ancients wanted to preserve knowledge in code that the wise could find and use in the future then they have utterly failed at their task. How so?

The answer is simple. None of the information hidden in the code was discovered by studying the code. It was all found through scientific investigation and THEN that knowledge was found in the code.

In other words, the code did not assist mankind at all. This would correspond to my telling a friend I have the location of his lost keys written inside a sealed envelope but he cannot open it until he finds his keys. He then finds his keys through his own intelligence and opens the envelop. Sure enough, it has the correct location of the keys, but what good does it do him, outside of being an interesting curiosity? Not much.

This same problem occurs with the Bible Code in that they have not been able to accurately predict the future, which is yet to come. This minor detail has greatly baffled them.

Yes, every major event from our past is there and the code seems to predict our future, but so far their future predictions have been wildly off and completely unreliable.

So what gives here? Were the ancients really giving us hidden messages that are usable to us, or just yanking our chains?

For the answer we need to look toward the Great Pyramid. This mysterious monument has within it hidden code just as does the Bible. Not only have all kinds of celestial dimensions and alignments been found in corresponding its dimensions, but many believe they have verified that the history of the world was predicted in its various measurements.

Again, the thought was expressed. How great was the wisdom of the ancients in attempting to pass down to us this knowledge to us. But again we have the same problem. The Great Pyramid did not reveal any knowledge to us but first we gained the knowledge and then we observed the code.

The mystery of the code in the Bible and the Great Pyramid has behind them the same answer which is this.

First the purpose of the intelligent design behind these and other timeless works was not to preserve knowledge in code in the hopes it would be useful to future generations. The architects and writers never had such a thing in mind. The human instruments behind such creations never fathomed that we would discover all the codes and hidden meanings that we seem to see.

So if the codes were not a product of human intelligent design then how did so much intelligence get built into the Bible, The Great Pyramid and other works?

Bible believers would simply answer that it was God who did it, but that does not account for the codes built into The Great Pyramid which was built by heathens.

The answer is the grand key behind Masonry and all creation. Masonry seeks to explain the keys behind the creative force of the grand architect of the universe and this is found in the first verse in John.

“In the beginning was the Word…”

And what is the Word?

The Word is sound and sound is vibration. Now you would think that a simple sound, which is just a small part of a word would be too simplistic to create much, but think again. The truth of this dawned on me when I was visiting a science exposition in British Columbia in Canada. There they demonstrated the complexity of sound by creating different simple sounding tones and sending their vibration through a plate containing iron filings. I was amazed at the different complex and beautiful patterns that were created by such simplicity. Then when they changed the sound the patterns changed. They were all beautiful and all very complex.

As I watched this I thought:

“In the beginning was the Word…”

Suddenly I could see how a seemingly simple word spoken by God could have created all there is.

I couldn’t find an exact example of what I witnessed but I found several interesting examples of patterns created by simple sounds.

Here is an example of water disturbed by a sound: LINK

And here is an example of the effect created by sounding one letter of the AUM. What is interesting is the ancients used this pattern as a symbol of the AUM. LINK

So what does this have to do with complex codes being imbedded into inspired works?

It is simply this.

To create an inspired writing, a work of art, a building or anything of timeless value the builder or initiator must tune into the divine Spirit and receive inspiration. This inspiration is simply the implanting within the heart a divine word or vibration. Then as the builder manifests his creation, which may seem to be a composition of a few simple words or materials, it will be found that encoded within is a part of the very signature of God.

If we examine other great works with the same scrutiny as we have done with the Bible we would also discover great intelligence and patterns built within them. Examples would be The Gettysburg Address, the works of Shakespeare, the art of Da Vinci, and others.

Oh, wait! They have looked at Da Vinci and found codes, haven’t they? And there are more yet to be discovered.

So if the codes were rarely consciously implanted, as many have thought, is it also possible they are not fully comprehended by consciously looking for them the way many teach?

Yes, indeed. Have you ever read a book about the symbolism of the Great Pyramid or the Bible code only to go away with your head spinning and not being much smarter than you were before you started reading? Many find such things interesting but the end result of such looking at the details does not seem to bring much enlightenment except in affirming that a divine intelligence is at work somewhere.

What then should be our approach to the hidden codes? Are they of any use whatsoever?

Yes. They are of great use, but not in the way that has been suspected.

If we seek to understand the inner codes by looking at them directly, we are attempting to see the forest by looking at the trees. Instead of looking at individual trees we must step back and see the whole forest to get the picture. For one thing, there are too many trees for one to get a picture by looking at them individually. Also there are many hidden trees or parts that are missed by looking at the individual code and attempting to piece everything together.

The true approach is so simple that it passes over the heads of the intelligentsia of the world.

The answer is found in the simple approach of contemplating inspired words and planting them within the inner spirit as a seed is planted in fertile soil. The mind of God, which resides within each of us then translates the needed codes and reveals the mysteries to our minds as the knowledge is needed. When the mind then receives the code it sees not the individual trees, but a large enough part of the forest so understanding is achieved.

Thus, we solve with great simplicity that which seemed to be a great complex mystery. The codes are planted by the mind of God and revealed by the mind of God without the need for the seeker to be aware of all the details and complexity of the code.

The truth is that any inspired writing or work will contain code that is to be translated by the Holy Spirit within. If Johann, Ruth, or Dan writes an inspired sentence, the code and the mysteries will be imbedded, but if another writes from the lower mind there will be no code therein and the words will pass away and not be searched out any more than a person will seek to hear a piano that is out of tune.

This explains why after maybe twenty years since reading a scripture or inspired statement that the phrase may pass through your pondering mind and suddenly new meaning will come. Additional code is finally revealed to you. You have gained access through placing attention on the things of God.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

 — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Oct 19, 2007

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Other Selves

Other Selves

A reader brings up an interesting subject that we have not fully covered before which is basically this.

Dick Sutphen gives evidence that people can live more lives than one simultaneously. Under hypnosis he has had people regress into two different overlapping lifetimes. He then provides some evidence that these lives which were recalled were real people.

Does this mean that our essential self is split into two, four or more entities? Or do we have an oversoul which puts out a number of lives? Or is something else going on?

The first time I heard of this doctrine was in the writings of Lobsang Rampa who preceded Dick Sutphen. Here is what he teaches on the subject. He says that each of us is connected to an oversoul which is a greater entity which has a number of extensions. The oversoul can have three or four lives incarnated and then an additional three or more out of incarnation.

Before I give my views let me say this. Through the Oneness Principle any other soul in any time frame can be reached. Through regression techniques it is possible to have the subject tune into the consciousness of any other person and replicate his personality to a degree. This replication will not normally happen though unless the person is either directed or given a hint to move in this direction.

Also under hypnosis a person can create a false identity or falsely duplicate one he has heard about. A subject can falsely think he is recalling being Napoleon and create a personality for the hypnotist that is his best guess as to what Napoleon would be like.

Because I understand this I do not use standard hypnotic techniques in my regression. You don’t have as high of a percentage of people regressing, but what is recalled is more accurate and you do not have so many false personalities manifesting.

No method is infallible but I have attempted to hone down my method so false recollection is at a minimum and when it does occur it is fairly obvious.

Dick Sutphen uses a deep hypnotic trance and in this state the subject seeks to do everything possible to please the hypnotist. If it appears the hypnotist desires a certain response then the inner mind will seek to bring forth that response.

Here was your quote from Sutphen talking to his subject: “You have the power and ability to draw upon all knowledge existing in the superconscious levels of your mind, and to allow this knowledge to flow down into the conscious mind as we work together. If you are now or have been another individual within the time-frame of your birth up until now, I want you to transfer identities with your own separate-self. If there is more than one, your mind will choose which of these simultaneous multiple incarnations you will experience this afternoon. If you are experiencing only your present incarnation on the earth, you will inform me of this after the completion of the actual transfer instructions.”

Note the key phrase here: “If you are now or have been another individual within the time-frame of your birth up until now, I want you to transfer identities with your own separate-self.”

When a hypnotized subject hears a phrase like this his black and white computer brain looks for command statements that it can manifest and the one thing that stands out is “I want you to transfer identities.”

If a person is in a deep trance the “If” will be ignored and the command statement of transferring identities will be programmed into the mind. A person under hypnosis is capable of taking on a large variety of personalities and taking on a false past life would be no problem.

Stage hypnotists illustrate this every day. They will often bring a fairly introverted subject to the stage and tell him he is Elvis or some rock star and he will entertain the audience with a very amazing imitation. When he comes out of the trance, he will not believe what his friends tell him he did when he performed.

Most regressions under hypnosis that bring forth two people in one timeline will have one or both of them being fabricated by the subject. Once in a while they will both be real people but the alternate one will be someone the subject tuned in to through an astral retrieval.

The question that remains is what is the real truth to the matter? Are there a dozen of us running around on several levels of existence?

As John would say the answer is yes and no.

From one point of view the answer is yes, many times yes. There are billions of extensions of ourselves as taught in the following mantra:

“The sons of men are one and I am one with them.”

All of us spring from the one God and are linked just as the stars in the sky are linked to the one space from which they sprang. But just as each star has its separate existence and identity so also do human lives.

We thus have a link with each other through the one soul of humanity and any one individual when using the right principles can tune into any other individual.

In addition to this humanity branches forth like a great tree of life and those joining to create the same branch are more closely attuned to each other than with distant branches. Even so, the same life energy of God flows through the whole of the tree.

Those closely linked are often nourished by the same solar angel and thus a sharing of consciousness comes quite easy. Such a solar angel could be compared to the oversoul as taught by some.

The personality you are is unique and there are not duplicates running around, though it is possible that your solar angel may put out another extension. If so, its personality would be different from yours but of a similar evolution.

It is not likely that you have some rogue Mr. Hyde out there creating havoc that you are responsible for because in normal situations you are the only extension of your soul which has incarnated and if another you is out there it would be of similar spirituality to yourself.

Fortunately, you are only you except in the universal sense that we are all brothers and offspring of higher lives. When we eventually go to higher spheres and see how the incarnation and evolution of the sixty billion monads played out and it will all add up and make sense.

True Hoarding

A reader comments: “I have just finished reading the fourth book in the Immortal Series, and I must say, it was some of the most incredible information I have ever read. JJ, you have really outdone yourself in this book.”

“I would like to open a discussion about JJ’s Parable of Abundance, as it was the one that made me think the most, and has the most pertinence in my life. I really loved the story, and I believe that it talks about a deep truth regarding abundance, and even more importantly, the principle of interdependence and how this can heal the world.

“But it also seems to imply that being prepared for possible future probabilities is unhealthy, and creates an unbalanced state of mind. For me, I have several years of food storage and would someday like to have a fortified underground structure that will allow me to be prepared for the possibility of Earth changes. I personally don’t think that is unwise and unhealthy, and would like to open the discussion to anyone who has an opinion on the matter, including JJ, for the purposes of our mutual enlightenment.”

JJ: The most important principle to apply as it relates to this and other subjects where all the pieces do not seem to apply is The Lost Key of the Buddha — “the Middle Way.” This principle is so important that a whole book is dedicated to it. Solomon summed it up well when he said there is a time and purpose for all things under heaven.

Another important principle is this. The Law of Correspondences is never exact and cannot be used as a precise formula for discovering truth. It is only an indicator. The full picture of the truth always has to be discerned though using the correspondence as a seed thought and then seeing how things play out through the use of the intuition.

In normal times where the life of a society stands on its own the parable applies. In a living society hoarding is not necessary if the right principles are applied.

The problem many are concerned with is what would happen if there was a near complete collapse. Shouldn’t we store food to prepare for such an event? Food storage would be helpful in times of shortages or even a depression, but if there were a total breakdown storage wouldn’t do much good as illustrated in my story “Journey’s End.” The only way to be relatively safe in such a collapse is through the use of the Gathering Principle. Only a united and gathered people could be protected from the mobs that would surface.

Another point is this. The hoarding in the parable applies to taking and storing more than you need for a comfortable life. Since food is an essential then one must do what is necessary to make sure he has enough. If circumstances dictate the storing of some for emergencies, then that does not fit in with the hoarding talked about in the parable. Look at the story of Joseph in the Bible where he stored up seven years of food and saved Egypt from starvation.

Examples of true hoarding would be:

  1. Saving more money than you need instead of putting it in circulation where it will help others.
  2. Storing up possessions that are beyond what you need. Buying the big house, multiple and luxury cars, expensive jewelry, etc.
  3. Using your time for only things that serve yourself.

The point of the parable is that we should not take more than we need for self if putting the excess in circulation will benefit the whole. This does not mean that we need to take a vow of poverty or not protect ourselves by storing food if deemed necessary.

The Choice

Question: You have referenced DK telling us that a disciple cannot make a true choice between the right and left hand path until the third initiation. But do not average seekers make many choices between good and evil before that time?

JJ: We make thousands of decisions about light and dark, right and wrong before we face the great decision at the third initiation. Joe an Aeton from Book III was not yet close to the third degree but did get on the path as a first degree initiate near the end of his stay.

The difference between decisions of light and dark before the third initiation is passed and afterwards is this.

Before the third, but after the second the person may be pure in heart and as sincere as can be yet be deluded by illusion. Such illusion will cause many of his decisions to be incorrect even though in his heart he wants to do what is right. If he maintains a purity of intention he will discover his errors and correct them.

He cannot yet make a choice between the two paths because illusion creates a fog that blurs them and he cannot see them clearly. He may even be assisting the work of the dark brotherhood while deluded into thinking he is doing the opposite.

For example, take a look at the political debate going on with great intensity throughout this planet. Both sides have sincere intelligent people but when they both diametrically disagree you know they both cannot be right. Either they are both wrong or one is right and the other incorrect.

The one that is correct is usually not correct because the believer is a third degree initiate, but because his foundation beliefs that have been taught to him are correct. The initiate who is incorrect has illusionary foundation beliefs that he has not brought forth to the light of day.

Those sincere people who have not achieved the second initiation have a bigger problem. For them the ego and glamour is what deceives them. They are not yet close to solving the problems of illusion.

Only when the person approaches the third initiation and understands illusion can he then see the two paths and make an intelligent decision. The one who chooses the dark path sees how illusion works but cannot yield up his ego and selfish nature to higher will. Instead of rising above illusion he decides to use illusion to further selfish ends.

The one who chooses the right-hand path sees illusion and sacrifices self to dispel it so it loses its power. He then ascends in consciousness to the intuitive plane.

Does this mean the third-degree initiate is perfect and can never be deceived? Third degree initiates, and even those higher, are still regular human beings and have to assimilate data like the rest of us. You can pull a practical joke on an initiate like anyone else but when it comes to seeing how principles apply to the evolution of humanity and himself he is able to see the picture without illusion as long as he looks. None of us have looked all directions so correct angle of vision is important to the initiate.

Hope this helps. If I left anything unexplained let me know.

People who get nostalgic about childhood were obviously never children. Bill Watterson (1958 – ), Calvin and Hobbes

Oct 15, 2007

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Condemned To Live

Condemned To Live

By J J Dewey

I believe I wrote this around the age of 21-22 (1966 or 1967). This gives a far out (and fictional) answer to a great mystery

Riggs and Forbes were killing two birds with one stone. Their vital mission was the testing of a newly installed light-drive aboard the ship. Their second assignment was to release their prisoner to his appointed fate.

“Why did you do it?” said Riggs to the prisoner. “Why? You knew that a single person such as you could never have succeeded. You could have lived a good life. A pleasant life.”

“Yes,” said the prisoner. “Physically I could have lived a good life. But my conscience cannot allow me to live in a world of evil. A kingdom ruled by the force of evil will sometime divide against itself. And a kingdom thus divided cannot stand. Only by going against the authorities could I introduce my plan for perpetual maintenance of our world.”

“And look where it got you,” said Forbes. “You and your ideas on brotherly love.” Forbes spat on the prisoner. His hands were tied and the saliva dried on his face.

“It’s sure too bad,” said Riggs. “I think some of your ideas have merit but only a very small percentage of the world could have lived life the way you outlined it. Now look what you have waiting because you went against the supreme dictates of the State. Eternal punishment! Do you realize what that is?”

The prisoner said nothing.

“We’re approaching the designated spot,” said Forbes. He pressed a button and a picture of a flaming body flashed on the screen. “That’s it. That’s your home forever.”

The prisoner stared at the screen without emotion.

“You can yet change your mind,” said Riggs. “You can swear on the record that you will honor, respect, and obey the supreme powers. Then too, you have to refute your ideas. They give you until the last moment.”

“I have chosen my fate,” said the prisoner.

“And one hell of a fate you have chosen,” said Forbes. He signaled for an android. “Android X1l3, prepare for conditioning the prisoner.” Forbes looked the prisoner in the face. “Are you going on your own will, or do you need some assistance?”

“I have chosen this,” said the prisoner. “I need no assistance. Not yours.”

Forbes slapped the prisoner in the face. “Then get going! Back there.” He pointed to a doorway. “We’re going to give you eternal life!” Forbes laughed.

“You know,” said Riggs, “that eternal life wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t such side effects in getting it.”

“Yea like the pain a guy has to go through to get it — right hero?” Forbes pinched the prisoner. He showed such a lack of emotion that Forbes pinched him again. The prisoner gave Forbes a look that took away the sport, and Forbes shoved him through the door.

“Maybe we’d ought to tell him what he’s in for,” said Riggs.

“We shouldn’t for his sake. But we will.” Forbes pointed at an outfit that looked something like the machinery in a dentist’s office. “See that?” he said. “We strap you in there and those instruments overhead insert more than four million invisible light needles under your skin and into your nerve endings. Others go down to your bone marrow. Some treat you with radiation, others with electric shock and still others secrete fluids. Altogether they’ll give you an indestructible and immortal body. There’s one catch — the pain. In the process of all this every nerve in your body will be activated to its maximum capacity. In short, it’ll be like getting blown to bits and living — not dying — but consciously feeling the agony of every separated molecule of flesh and bone in your body. Also, your brain has to be totally active and alive for immortality to take hold — thus no anesthetic. Perhaps now you can see now why the government has had not accept this immortality. Oh there have been a few who have feared death enough to take the first four thousand needles, but they hit the panic button at that point. They decided they’d rather die than suffer such intense pain, even for a brief period.”

“The government concluded that the only way to get this thing tested would be to use someone who is worthy of such an honor. So it was reserved for someone who broke the supreme law of speaking against the dictates of the State. You did that hero. Now you’ll be the first immortal.”

“How long will this process take?” asked the prisoner.

First four needles will be injected. It’ll take ten minutes for them to do their job. Next forty needles. That’ll take another ten. You’ll get five sets after that. The number of needles in each set is increased times ten. Each set functions ten minutes and each set brings a tenfold increase of pain. It’ll seem to be more, but it’s not — just tenfold. And that’s just the beginning — wait until we throw you into that fiery sun out there.”

“We don’t really want to do this,” said Riggs, “but we’re on orders.”

Forbes slugged Riggs in the mouth. Riggs slid across the floor. “We’re doing this and we like it,” commanded Forbes. “If I put what you just said on the record, you’d have death waiting for you on our return. This time I didn’t hear you.”

There was an ugly silence in Riggs. It was about a minute after he recovered that he took the time to wipe off the blood that ran down his neck.

“Any more questions?” said Forbes to the prisoner. “Yes, will I be sensitive to pain after this treatment is finished?”

“You bet you will! The State’s fixing up the worst punishment conceivable, and they sure aren’t going to leave the pain out. It’ll feel like four million needles once you’re thrown in that fiery mass among the stars. The instruments say the surface is forty thousand degrees. The State wants to make an example out of you to be sure no one else speaks against them again. Now, if you ever have company out there, you’ll know someone followed in your footsteps. But I’m afraid you’re the only one of your kind. The only fool. It’s too bad the courts found you sane. I felt sure they wouldn’t.”

“You know your world will destroy itself within a hundred years?” said the prisoner as if he had read it from history.

“Our leaders know what’s best,” said Forbes. “They know.” He slugged the prisoner in the face as hard as he could. “They know!” he shouted.

The prisoner was silent.

“I pray they know,” said Riggs.

“You’d better know they know!” said Forbes. “What you just said is another possible death sentence. Unfortunately for hero over here, death shall be anticipated, but shall never come — Well, we’d better get on with the conditioning. Take the driver’s seat hero.”

The prisoner did as commanded without apparent emotion. “Strap him down,” commanded Forbes to the android. “Bind him tight and hard. He’ll need it.”

“Won’t the pain kill him?” said Riggs.

“Damn bet it would if we didn’t deactivate the nerve impulses from his heart to his brain the first four hundred needles would probably kill him in a few minutes. If not the four thousand would mean sudden death. No heart could bear the emotional strain he’s going to get.”

“Prepare first four needles to condition heart.”


A slab of metal was lowered over the prisoner and he squinted as he felt the sharp burning enduring pains in his chest.

The needles were microscopically thin and could not be seen by the human eye. The single witness to their presence was the strain on the prisoner’s face.

Ten minutes passed. The strain was still there.

“Lower forty needles! Shoot radiation into vital parts.” The prisoner jerked and trembled within himself acknowledging the forty needles.

“How about that,” said Forbes. “The instruments show his heart is still beating regular. If not for those first four needles it would have reached three times its normal speed.”

Ten minutes passed.

“Lower the four hundred! Radiation to bone marrow.” The prisoner jerked and trembled more violently.

“Heart still normal,” said Forbes. “That’s all that’s keeping you alive, hero. Next you’ll receive ten times the pain anyone has yet endured.”

Ten minutes.

“Lower four thousand!”

The prisoner screamed and then held it. His flesh rippled with pain.

Ten minutes.

“Inject forty thousand!

“Heart normal, good — still alive. Lucky fella.”

Ten minutes.

“Inject four hundred thousand. Cosmic shock.”

The prisoner began to turn white! He radiated with a slight glow.

“Look!” said Riggs. “What’s happening?”

“Damned if I know,” said Forbes.

“Is he alive?”

“The instruments say he is. Heart’s normal. Brain cells’ functioning.”

“But his face. The strain’s gone. He looks content. There’s a slight smile on his face.”

“I see! I see.”

“Well, what happened?”

“Darned if I know. Maybe he gave up trying to find an expression for the pain.”

“But he looks happy. Should we proceed?”

“Damn rights! We’re carrying out orders no matter what.”

Time passed.

“Ready or not hero, you’re getting the works — the four million.”

The needles were lowered.

“His body’s turning brighter!” said Riggs.

“It sure as hell is!”

“His eyes are shut. Is he asleep or dead, or what”

“The instruments say he’s alive and wide awake.”

“He looks happy.”

“He couldn’t be. The pain! With that pain no one could be happy,” said Forbes.

“He is!”

“Hell he is. He just thinks he is.”

“Check the instruments.”

“Heart’s normal. Brain’s normal. He feels it all right. The thing is we don’t know what he feels. No one’s ever felt what he does.”

“It couldn’t be good.”

“But we don’t know,” said Riggs.

“No, we don’t. Time’s up! Start removing the needles. Release the four million!”

The prisoner’s face seemed to lose some of its bliss. “Release the four hundred thousand!”

The prisoner was overtaken with rippling pain.

“Release the forty thousand!”

The prisoner’s strain was somewhat lessened.

“Release the four thousand!”

And less.

“The four hundred,”

And less.

“The forty.”

And less — very little strain.

“The four!”

Gone! The prisoner was back to normal except for the fact that he was immortal, indestructible, and…

“Holy hell he’s bright! I can hardly look on him.”

Riggs looked curiously at the prisoner, “What do you feel? Was it really bad?”

The prisoner studied his white glowing body, then looked up. “Yes. At first the pain was bad. Worse than I had previously tried to imagine — and when I was struck with that fifth set of needles I knew it would be impossible to get worse.”

“And it was, for the sixth set brought a joy and pleasure that surged through my entire body, and the pain was gone. The seventh set increased the pleasure tenfold. It was worth the whole ordeal just for those few moments of not merely physical but mental joy. It’s beyond words!”

“It looks as if that’s one punishment that backfired on the State,” said Riggs.

“That was a mere preparation for the real punishment,” said Forbes. Wait until he feels the heat of hydrogen fusion.”

“You said that would produce the same effect as the four million needles.”


“Then I go without fear.”

“But maybe it won’t.”

“Then take me back to the State. I am immortal and I fear no punishment. I can now speak against them at will. I’m sure I can gain many followers.”

“We shall carry out our Orders,” said Forbes in a loud clear voice. “I don’t think you ever had any good feeling, and I don’t think you’ll find any thrill in bathing in that white hot lava. But even if you do, you’ll find that in a few billion years that star will go into a cooling process and when it reaches a certain temperature you’ll have that maximum pain waiting for you.”

“Perhaps — but perhaps not. I shall go gladly knowing there are billions of years of physical and mental pleasure awaiting. Surely that is sufficient preparation for the future cooling. I shall be ready. I have now come to realizations I never before conceived.”

“Yes, like getting joy from pain,” said Forbes. “Well, I wish you all kinds of joy out there in those flames. I’d like to see the tool shed in which you’re going to build for your cool flame protector.”

The prisoner was silent for a few long seconds. “My fate is in your hands,” he said.

“We could take him with us, or put him on a cooler planetary body,” suggested Riggs.

“You’re asking for death, aren’t you Riggs? You know it’s very possible they’ll test us for the truth, and if we disobeyed orders…”

“Do as you’re ordered then,” said the prisoner

“Damn bet we will,” said Forbes “But I’d almost take you back to the authorities if I thought you’d get any satisfaction out of this. But I’m not. Get in the escape hatch.” Two androids escorted him and strapped him down. “Lower the escape rocket!”

The androids did as commanded, and the prisoner began to vanish.

“I hope it isn’t too bad for you out there,” said Riggs. The last thing the prisoner saw was Forbes slugging Riggs. The mini rocket was fired into the burning sun.

“There she goes!” said Forbes. “Give ‘er five minutes and the rocket will melt away leaving hero’s body the only descending solid. Oh, I’ll bet that smarts!”

Riggs got up after his brief visit with the floor. “That’s the second time you’ve hit me today. And that smarts.”

“Listen. I’ve got more seniority in this business than you, and I can belt you whenever I see fit. However, you try it and you’ll have the courts waiting for you on return.”

Riggs tried to ignore him and doctored his face.

“Well, let’s get on with this test — shall we?” said Forbes.

“Let’s,” said Riggs in a tone that nearly made Forbes hit him again.

Forbes looked at him sourly for a moment. “Get the notes and equations,” he said.

“We are to test the light-drive to star system X-ll8-O. That’s three light years away.”

“Then according to our scientists, if we were to take on the speed of light, of which our light-drive is capable, during the round trip everyone in our star system shall have aged six years.”


“And in the process of riding with light we’ll be changed to pure energy and cross that eighteen trillion miles of space in the twinkling of an eye.”

“Wrong,” said Riggs. “It’ll be far less than that. The actual time spent riding with light will be a fraction of one over infinity of a second or zero time. We will not live through a second of time in this journey; therefore, we won’t age.”

“Then it’ll be just as they said. As soon as we push the light-time drive we’ll be there.”

“Just as soon as we push it,” assured Riggs. “Even if we were to transverse the universe?”

“Distance is no object. However, those occupants of our star system will live through those light years we shall skip and shall age accordingly. The light-time of our journey shall be six years for the round trip; therefore, our friends shall have aged six years.”

“Even our buddy in the flames?”

“Yes, you want to visit him on our return?”

“Oh — I don’t know,” said Forbes. “We might see if he’s still there.” He gave a short evil laugh.

“You’re the pilot. I’m the mathematician,” said Riggs. “Set the dials.”

“You do your job, I’ll do mine. You just get those figures right!”

“They’re right. The rest is up to you.”

“Only a few minutes,” said Forbes. “Make ready the seats.”

“They’ll be ready when you get here, hurry.” Forbes set the last dial and reclined in the seat next to Riggs.

“Sixty seconds,” said Riggs.

“I’m ready.”

“They say it’ll be kind of a dissolving feeling,” said Riggs. “I hope that’s all it is. We’d better get there in one piece. Why I read a theoretical paper on reassembling from teleportation. If I have your head when we get there…”

A jerking acceleration.

“Twenty seconds. Feel that? The sub light acceleration.”

“Yea — not long now.”

“Eight seconds.”

“Four seconds.”




Three seconds of silence.

“Is that it?” said Forbes. “Did it work?”

“Let’s find out.”

“I don’t know if I felt anything or not. Kind of a shiver.”

“Check the constellations!”

Forbes stared through the portal for five seconds before he broke the silence;

“Holy, holy hell things look different!”

“What — how?” Riggs turned on the scanner. “Holy Lord of the State! Where are we?”

“Where’s the constellations? It’s just a big mass of stars or galaxies or something. Turn the scanner the opposite direction.”

Riggs did as told. The light faded into blackness.

“We’ve reached the end of everything,” said Forbes.

“Wait — there’s a fiery ball!”

“What is it? A galaxy?”

“Can’t tell. Let’s find out where we are first and back track our figures and settings.”

Dials and figures were checked until…

“No,” said Riggs. “No! Nonononono… It can’t be. It can’t.”

“Where are we?” shouted Forbes. He screamed the question three times — short intervals between each.

“The end,” said Riggs in a voice less audible than his thoughts. “The literal end — the end of the universe! We crossed over thirty billion years of light-time.” His voice dropped in realization. “Thirty billion years.”

“Your figures!” accused Forbes in a full-throated yell.

“They were correct — perhaps your settings?”

“Why you runt!”

“I can fight back now,” said Riggs. “The State is thirty billion years back in time.”

Forbes released his grip. “Thirty billion years?” “Sixty billion if we make a round trip.” Forbes slugged Riggs.

“You can fight back if you want,” said Forbes. “If you do I’ll just knock the hell out of you. If you don’t, we can get busy figuring out how to get back.”

“Okay,” said Riggs. “I’ll take this belt, this last one. Let’s get to work.”

“You’re a sport,” said Forbes. “You know I was mad and had to hit something.”

“If you go and knock the sense out of me I won’t be able to think clearly enough to get us back.”

“Back?” said Forbes. “You’ll get us back. If you don’t, I will knock the sense out of you. By the way, what’s that ball of fire out there?”

“That,” said Riggs is another universe — full of ga1axies and nebula of stars.”

“And that fainter light?”

“Another universe. Farther away. The closer is at least a distance of one hundred trillion light years.”

“Oh, the State would love to have the knowledge we possess!”

“There is no State,” said Riggs. “It died billions of years ago.”

“There is a State!” shouted Forbes. “There is!” He raised his fist.

“Don’t — don’t. There is a State. Sure there is,” said Riggs.

Forbes’ arm went limp and he laughed. He laughed in an evil and insane way. Riggs watched him in fear and pity.

“Are we going back?” sad Riggs, humbly.

“Damn right we’re going back! We’re going back and find that State. Why they’ve probably populated the universe by now. The hero’s return. That’s what it’ll be Riggs. The hero’s return!”

“The hero’s return,” said Riggs in a voice that was comforting to Forbes.

“Let’s get to hell back!” said Forbes in imaginative eagerness, “Get to figuring.”

“Well,” said Riggs. “We can reverse the light-drive, and that’ll put us back a lot closer to where we started. It would take a lot of work, but I could make allowances for galactic and stellar movements. We could make it back to our point of origin.”

“Great! Get to work — I’ll check the instruments.”

“You realize the stars and galaxies in our portion of the universe will have passed away and regenerated several times upon our return? New stars will have taken the place of old ones.”

“The State will be on them!” shouted Forbes. It’ll be there. The State’s immortal.”

“Sure,” said Riggs. “Let’s get to work.”

“To work,” said Forbes.

“How long’s it been?” said Forbes after a long silence of working, “A week? A month? A year?”

“Four days,” said Riggs.

“That’s a hell of a long four days!”

“I’m just finished. You ready?”

“I’ve been ready a year!”

“What’s four days.”

“It’s a hell of a long time!”

“Here’s the equations and notes. Feed them into the machines and we’ll be set.”

Forbes grabbed them. “Get in your seat,” he ordered.

“Hurry,” said Riggs, “but do take time enough to set our course correctly.”

Forbes finished and was strapping himself in his seat. “If you did your part, we’ll be heading back.”

“The equations are correct.” “Sixty seconds!”

“Sixty seconds,” said Riggs.

“Good ol’ home! Wonder what she’ll look like.”

“Different,” said Riggs. And there was a silence.

“Five seconds,” someone finally said.

“Three seconds.”



And a slight tingling sensation passed through their bodies.

“Home!” said Forbes. “Let’s go soak our eyes with it.”

Forbes ripped his straps loose and ran to the portal. He stood in silence.

“It’s different,” he said in a whisper. “Different.”

Riggs turned on the scanner. The gleaming white of stars and nebula were before their eyes.

“That’s not home!” said Forbes. “Home never looked like that.”

Riggs checked the instruments. “We’re home all right. The only difference is sixty billion years. Let’s take a peek at our new universe.” He adjusted the scanner.

“It’s actually beautiful,” said Forbes. “Beautiful! Why look at this galaxy we’re in. It looks — it looks almost hand carved.”

“And look at that one over there! The spiral one. The stars are no longer random. It’s as if someone took over and organized them, put them together — a completed giant jigsaw! It’s a sign of intelligence we’ve never before come upon Forbes. Infinite intelligence!”

“The State!” said Forbes. “I knew they were still here. I knew it, I knew it! Sixty billion years! Riggs! They’ve conquered the universe. They’ve become a giant hand and molded it. Lord, they’ve done a good job!”

“If it was the State.”

“It was the State,” screamed Forbes.

“OK, OK,” said Riggs with some irritation. “Let’s select an inhabited planet and land.”

“There’s one!” Forbes pointed to the scanner. “That third one. The instruments show a good atmosphere and inhabitation. The State’s there. Let’s go find it.”

Riggs and Forbes circled the planet and lit on the sunlit half.

The gleaming silver metal of the ship stood erect and silent outside a large city.

“Don’t forget your interpreter so we can speak to these people,” said Riggs.

“Got it!”



“Do you feel strange — weird?”

“No. No more than usual.”

“But feel that air. The ground. The grass. The trees. They all seem so alive. It’s as if we’re being watched, watched by everything — but, but not everything. I don’t know. I can’t say the words I want.”

“You’re mad!”

“It’s as if they’ve all waited for us — this everything. I feel as if we’re in the jaws of something, but we’re not — but we are. It — it’s something that touches the soul.”

“You trying to give me the creeps?” asked Forbes. “That doesn’t sound like the State.”

“No — no. Not the State. More powerful — engulfing. Something so terrible, or so sweet.”

“The State’s all-powerful!” screamed Forbes.

“Then this is all-all-powerful.” Riggs looked towards the heavens.

“Fool!” said Forbes. And the two men walked into the city.

The city was dirty and unclean. A slight breeze blew loose papers to and fro. The general appearance was like that of a full house which has fifteen minutes of care and cleaning a day. The people were thin and nearly every child had red eyes and tear washed faces from wanting. Forbes stepped on a newspaper in the gutter. The headlines reported of famine, pestilences, earthquakes in diverse places, wars present and those which were sure to follow, and gave a general appearance of world-wide fear. The lower left hand corner reported the tragic loss of an interplanetary crew on their virgin flight.

“Where’s the State?” said Forbes. “The State’s their leader, their creator, but there’s no mention.”

Riggs was silent.

Forbes grabbed a passerby, “What’s the name of your world?”

“What’s with you buddy?” He was a small man. Forbes held him confidently.

I said, “What’s the name of your world?”

“You’re insane.”

Forbes slapped him six times.

“Hold it! You’re on Earth. Good ole Earth.”


“Damn it yes. Now let me go.”

“And the State owns it?” Forbes held him tighter.

“The State! Where you from anyway?”

“Away. Now who’s your ruler? Your owner?”

“The government. They make all the decisions. They rule us. At least they did. Here lately everything’s gone to hell.”

“I mean the whole earth, the surrounding planets — the stars! The State owns them and you don’t know?”

The man was silent in his lack of understanding and Forbes pushed him away.

Suddenly: “Repent ye! Repent ye wicked and adulterous generation. Repent, repent else ye be cut off and burned as stubble.”

Riggs and Forbes turned abruptly to see the source of the words. They viewed a tall man, large of bone with long snow white hair and a beard tapering at the chest cavity. He had a leathery skin about his loins and was carrying a dark book. His face was worn but not elderly and his deep-set eyes revealed wisdom and experience.

“Repent! Repent!” he cried.

“Repent?” said Forbes as if he had heard something entirely incredible. “What the hell does he mean by that?” Forbes walked up to the man and Riggs followed. “Are you made up for something?” he said to him.

“I am here but to deliver that which has been commanded.” The man looked at Forbes earnestly. “Repent or be cut off and destroyed. The end is near.”

“How near?” said Riggs. “Perhaps we’d better head back to the ship.”

“You believe this fool?” said Forbes. “He’s a nut. Anyone can see that.”

“I asked him a question,” said Riggs. “I think he’ll answer it if you’ll permit the silence.”

“Thank you,” said the man. “The exact minute, the exact hour or day no one knows. But I do know this — that the people are ripe in iniquity and the day is near, very near. Perhaps we are living in it. And last night I dreamed a dream. A silver eagle fell from the sky and lit gently without harm. Two beings sprung forth from its bosom — and the end was waiting for them.”

“A silver eagle. That’s our ship!” said Riggs.

“You’re a fool Riggs!” Forbes looked at the man. “Maybe you’ll know. Who created this race and organized the stars and galaxies overhead. Where is the State? For that matter who sent you?”

“The Lord of Heaven and Earth is the creator. The same sent me. He has shown me many visions. We have walked and talked together, and he revealed to me many mysteries. His word is in this book.”

Forbes grabbed it ripped it opened, and read the first passage: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

“This god — that must be the State.”

“God is the author of all truth and light,” said the man. “I perceive that the State of which you speak is non existent.”

Forbes threw the black book on the hard cement and kicked it.

The man’s eyes were laid serenely on Forbes. “My final admonition to you is repentance. Pray for forgiveness of all your sin; else ye shall be destroyed. Repentance is your only salvation. The last minutes are ticking away.” The man picked the book up and walked away crying repentance. Those nearby ignored him.

“This here earth really knows how to breed ‘em,” said Forbes. “Riggs, I think we’ve lit in an insane asylum.”

Riggs was silent — staring after the footprints of the man.

“Yep,” continued Forbes. “We really know how to pick’ em.”

Suddenly Riggs seemed to come alive. He grabbed Forbes by the shoulders. “Forbes, Forbes! Who do you suppose that god in heaven is?”

“The State. It can only be the State.”

“But the State’s not eternal — but Forbes, someone else is! Someone we know.”

“You’re as insane as the old man of the sea over there,” said Forbes. “It couldn’t be… It couldn’t be him!”

“But it must be — the prisoner! He had eternal life.”

“The State’s eternal and many in number. The god has to be the State!”

“But the god in heaven is good. The State is evil. Think of it Forbes! That prisoner alive all those eternities. He had to gain some knowledge with each passing year. As years and centuries passed he gained knowledge upon knowledge, wisdom added to wisdom. Think of the principles he mastered after a billion years. Two billion! Thirty! Why after one had progressed sixty billion years he could consider his life a midpoint of two eternities. By now he would be all powerful and all-knowing.”

“You’re mad! The only god is the State!”

“Forbes! There it is again. That weird feeling. The earth itself seems to shiver — almost tremble. I feel as if he knows we’re here. He knows our thoughts, our feelings. He knows everything, Forbes. Forbes!”

Forbes slugged Riggs.

“My god is the State!” screamed Forbes. “If your god is here, there, anywhere — Riggs — I defy him to show himself, and his power!”

The earth began to tremble.

“That’s his power,” said Riggs.

“Earthquakes are common here,” said Forbes. “I’m heading for the rocket!” He began to run.

“We’re at his mercy!” screamed Riggs. “I know we are!”

He didn’t follow Forbes. He stood silently — contrite.

Forbes was running, not listening, screaming: “I shall find my god. The State is my god! The State is my only god…”

Suddenly fire and lightning descended, and Riggs heard Forbes screaming with pain in the distance.

The earth began to quake more violently and there were great shifts in its interior. The stars above did not seem to hold their positions, and the moon was red as if it were drenched in blood. Riggs saw trees and buildings quake and burn and fall. Women and children were all around him screaming…screaming.

Riggs began trembling within himself. In a few minutes the flames and quakes would end his life. Then despite the turbulence about him he began to think very clearly and remember what the white-haired man had told them.

Riggs looked toward heaven and a peace and calmness was in him as he knelt in prayer.

Oct 21, 2007

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The People with the Missing Nothing

The People with the Missing Nothing


J J Dewey

(This is another early story. I believe I finished it early in 1962. It is over 12,000 words and will take a little time but I think you will enjoy it.)

The snow crunched to the pacing of my weary feet. The air was bitter and cold; the twilight still, calm, and undisturbed. I looked up at my destination; that which would be my conquest, my exultation, that obstruction which has exhilarated the minds of man from the beginning. This mountain along with others has brought courage from the coward, strength from the weak, dreams from the unimaginative, and conquest for those who have ventured upon it. So beautiful was the white blanket which covered it, so great its size, yet ever so treacherous is its surface.

Vulnerability was becoming apparent as my limbs lost their sense of existence as my body grew numb, yet my soul found peace, my being sought rest. The motion of the organic and non-organic was still as tranquility reached its apex.

Suddenly nature seemed hurried and applied its forces to strip me of mortality. The earth seemed to shake as the whiteness of the snow grew dark and the conscious ceased to exist. The period in between was like the twinkling of an eye but whether long or short, I don’t know. The unforeseen consciousness was becoming apparent as a warmth; a flow of life seemed to again dominate my body as the crystals of frozen fluid within my limbs were again liquid and responded to the beat of my heart.

I opened my eyes to view heaven, or hell, only to find myself enclosed within a rectangular box about ten feet long with a width and height of about half that. My eyes were filled with light which was emitted from the walls — so bright were the rays emitted that it caused my flesh to glow with exceeding radiance. These rays seemed to give my body warmth and supply my soul with energy. I felt my body growing increasingly stronger, my limbs were again flexible. As I arose, I noticed the side which made the length opened like that of a sliding door to reveal a group of spectators. Each had a look of keen interest on their faces. Perhaps I should have jumped up and down with joy and asked for Saint Peter — but the memory of the warm room canceled the thought, and perhaps I had not yet bid farewell to mortality.

Well, the guys were yet staring, and they didn’t look like angels or devils; just ordinary men. Their dress was slightly unusual. One of them wore a cape — obviously its purpose was to distinguish authority. They chatted among themselves with a mumbo jumbo I never encountered. Their lips articulated their words very sharply and formed an accent which would be impossible for any man to acquire or imitate. I felt they must have a hell of an alphabet if they put their words in writing.

I saw no means of communication other than sign language. They must have noticed a touch of curiosity in my eyes for they finally took notice and motioned me out. As they did so, one of them with a cape took my hand. His grip was firm and the contact of our flesh seemed to send a voltage of energy tingling through my body. It was unexpected, like that of an electric shock. Following the impulses of the natural man I resisted. My unwillingness caused a static within my brain. Immediately I dropped his hand. I noticed his wrinkled brow – as if my resistance caused a disturbance in his brain also. He raised his hand again, smiled and motioned or me to take it. It was long and slender. The tight stretched skin made the bones very apparent throughout his body. His face had only the essential characteristics and his eyes were etched deep in his forehead revealing the wariness as well as weariness of his leadership. His hair as well as the others was a very light blond and extremely short – probably a few millimeters in length. Something like a three-day beard.

I again looked at the hand. It was quivering slightly — as if it were telling me to take it. I realized that nothing went wrong until I resisted the force of his being. Perhaps if I had allowed the energy to maintain its flow there would have been no alarming effects. Still, I feared the unknown. Finally, the man who appeared to be the leader motioned to two other individuals and spoke a couple sharp words. Their language seemed so acute that I feared it would pierce the soul if spoken loudly. The two men joined hands, closed their eyes, and thrust themselves into a state of concentration. After a short time, they dropped hands, looked my direction, and by the look on their faces they seemed to be saying — “See, won’t hurt you”. The leader again stretched forth his hand. I bit my lip and reached for his. As I held to it I noticed he closed his eyes and concentrated — I did the same. This time I allowed the power of his being to flow into my brain. It brought a rather pleasant sensation. My cranium throbbed upon receiving the impulses of his thought. It brought pictures within my mind which were, no doubt, the same as those contained in his. Consciously the impulses meant nothing, but somehow, I could feel their meaning. The sequence brought meaning through feeling, the same as sound with hearing the difference being that feeling is understood universally. A dog, cat, or even a wild animal can feel love, hate, fear, or anger with no vocal communication. A man communes and makes friends with his dog by using feeling — such as petting him on the head, speaking in kind tones, or using friendly movements. Kind words may be spoken in harsh tones and interpreted by dumb animals as being offensive. The same may be said of humans. By the same principle I could feel his thoughts and get more meaning than if they were spoken, for the world of thought has an unlimited vocabulary.

Within my mind were pictures of the place I was in. It was a large green valley with a shield of ice overlapping hiding the sky. Even so the valley was very illuminated.

I could feel his thoughts; interpreting them from my inner consciousness to the ego: “The pictures you see within your mind are that of this valley which is called Sheldon — named so because of his greatness as our founder. If not for him we would not be, we would have no purpose; for our organization is after the pattern of his thought. I am Evondi – the leader of the people within this valley. A quake opened a gap which created a passageway into this land. You were found near there, your body frozen solid. Because you were not crushed we were able to bring you to life. You shall find our scientific knowledge much superior to yours.”

“This valley is within a mountain range, of which the mountain you were on is one. You see by my thoughts a glacier over our heads yet the valley is warm and green. Also notice the walls of the mountains are illuminated and the ice shield instead of absorbing the light is nearly a perfect reflector and adds to our illumination. The walls formed by the mountains gives off a radiation which heats our lower atmosphere.

We have existed as civilized beings for over 30,000 years. At one time, about 20,000 years age there were about twenty million of us who existed in this valley. At that time our science wasn’t far enough advanced to support any larger number. Our only hope for survival was to set restrictions on reproduction. Tests were given to sort out a select few who were far above par both mentally and physically. These few are our forefathers. From generation to generation the average individual became increasingly more intelligent. We began to obtain great mental powers along with our scientific advancement which has developed at the fastest rate possible considering our population which is now less than 100,000.

You are the first visitor on record from the outside world. Up to this time we have not been able to reach your world by physical means, but the earthquake which brought you here opened a gap through which it is possible to pass.”

“What do you mean ‘by physical means’?” I thought.

Immediately I felt the answer: “Our science has recently, that is relative to our standards of timekeeping, mastered the secret of teleportation With this we have selected certain persons, decomposed them into pure energy and recomposed them on the outside. Unfortunately a tremendous amount of energy is required to accomplish this For every pound of matter we teleport the machine has to use a pound of anti-matter. The element which is the key to its manufacture is presently non-existent. Its supply was exhausted with our last teleportation — five years ago.”

“And during this time when you did visit us you were undetected?” I interrupted.

His thoughts were slightly delayed. “…Yes. We had to be for no one would have believed our real purpose or origin. Those sent on missions were disguised by an artificial means. Our identity shall be made known in our own due time.

During the previous fifty years we have sent a very limited number of persons into your world on varied missions, namely to gain knowledge of your civilization. Our knowledge is limited for soon after teleportation the person is recreated at his place of departure. Because of our mind reading abilities upon contact we have a considerable knowledge of your character traits. Before this gap was opened, we thought any further gain of knowledge about you was impossible, but this hole gives us new hope, hope that we can establish contact with your world and share our scientific wonders. The most advanced of your world would stand in awe when their eyes view our most primitive machines. Our only wish is to establish a peaceful co-existence between your people and ours.

After a time, we shall enter your world and make our presence known – until that time we shall strive to make you most comfortable. Any further questions shall be answered by your guide. Now, if you will please step into this chamber.”

He loosened my hand and motioned me into the chamber. As I sat in the chair within, I feared slightly – the chair looked as if it might have been a means of electrocution. They strapped me down and pulled a few switches, after which a flow of energy vibrated through my body. Within a few seconds the hum of the machines died down and a couple men released me. Others gathered around looking at some data on a screen. Evondi hefted me from a chair thinking: “This process is to determine who shall be your guide. It has analyzed your personality and selected the girl within a select group for whom you’re best suited. Already she is being prepared to meet you. It shall be her duty to answer your additional questions and show you our efforts to make our land great along with the wonders we have produced.”

We discussed further for a time until my head was motioned in the direction of a most beautiful girl, a very most beautiful girl. Holding our hands, Evondi introduced us: “This is Amondie; indeed she is a perfection of beauty. She shall be your guide during your stay. No doubt you shall acquire a notable gain of knowledge from her. I need say nothing more; I sense you shall discover each other with no additional help.”

Evondi joined our hands as we studied each other. Her hair was very much unlike that of the males’. It gleamed with the color of platinum and hung gracefully below her shoulders. So perfectly was it put together that a mere few strands seemed out of order. This in itself added upon perfection. Her skin was very fair; her hand in mine felt tender — so soft and smooth, yet was not limp and was vibrant to the touch. As I studied her face, I realized how incomplete my vocabulary is. A description beyond the symmetrical slanting cheek bones is found only in the world of thought and that would be incomplete. Her beauty… overwhelming; enough said.

Dark blue eyes — staring, a look of devotion, over-supplied with love. They reflected and softened the lights of the building more so than the moon does the sun. The connection of our hands released a world of thought which made clear the purity of herself. My inner self rejoiced upon so much as viewing such a female and immediately felt love — a different kind of love for this girl. Somehow, by the connection of our thought. I was able to know her all at once – because of this, my desire to become close to her was nearly overpowering. She would be the fulfillment of any man’s dream.

All doubts faded as Amondie proved herself to be as I expected. Her personality entranced me. As the first day passed into the second so did our friendship grow into a greater attraction, I knew their mating machine would be a great gift to mankind; having the infallible ability to select mates. Any man would think so after having had such a selection made for him.

She showed me the marvels of their world. Many were beautiful manmade imitations of nature. I grew to feel she was nature’s single inimitable creation.

I grew to love their form of communication, with aliens that is. Everywhere we went we held hands. I thrived upon the impulses I received — they were so clear, penetrating, and meaningful. I felt as if I were becoming more receptive and my power to concentrate was increasing. It was becoming an increasing thrill to the soul to commune in such a manner, for such a feeling is non-existent elsewhere and there are not words to describe it. The same as the word “pain” was created to describe a hurt and ‘joy” for happiness a new word would have to be made for the feeling of drifting in thought.

A thing intrigued me — their swimming pools. For every section of land there was a large swimming resort. I grasped Amondie’s hand: “Why all the swimming pools – you have many more for the size of your people than we?”

I felt her gentle thoughts: “The radiation of the mountains causes our skin to dry. To prevent this we must submerge ourselves in water at least every two days. We use these swimming pools because of their soft water. We must go swimming soon.”

I thought: “We must .”

We did.

Amondie and I were lying beside the pool on reclining chairs. As I was thoroughly enjoying my rest my interest was acutely centered on two men beside me. Amazingly my attention was focused on the smoothness of their bellies. As good as my vision is — I couldn’t see a navel! I glanced at others, but trial and error revealed no indentation upon their stomach. Ah, I had at last found a physical difference, but the realization soon brought sorrow for I feared Amondie and I were different. Perhaps these people were androids created by an even greater people, or more likely they evolved from a different origin than the outside world. Fearing the answer, I cast the thought aside and let things happen as they would believing I would find out soon enough by investigation.

After our swim we continued our touring. We viewed their all-embracing laboratories and witnessed their vast machines manufacture food for their populous. While walking together I beheld an enormous building at least covering a square mile of land and towering a dozen stories skyward. Women passed in and out as they pleased. Strange that I had noticed no men. Curiously I thought, “Amondie, what’s the purpose of the large building?”

Suddenly I felt a throb of energy jab through my being — as if the question shocked her. “I mustn’t tell you; not now — we are different and it would be unfair to spoil our relationship. Please don’t mention it again … Come, I’ show you our park.

As expected the park was beautiful. Each blade of grass was an ultimatum of perfection. We were lying side by side under a tree holding hands watching water of a stream trickle past us. I felt Amondie’s thoughts: “What did you do on the outside, that is before you entered this valley?”

Thinking a reply, pleased at the interest she was showing: “A little of everything you might say. Painting namely. A release of emotions you know, My pictures were pretty much in demand. I was paid rather well when compared to the average artist, but as I said I did it as a release of emotions. If I wasn’t in the mood to paint, I didn’t – I couldn’t. Because of this my income was that of the average painter. In between my moods I was in dire need for money. I did every thing from picking fruit to haul’n hay to factory work to earn my salt. I hated whatever job I had so bad that I usually quit to try painting again. Just before the quake I was climbing a mountain. I find the sport very refreshing and satisfying. I happened to be on my vacation. You’ll never guess where I got the money for such a luxury?”

“Where?” she thought — her eyes alive with interest.

“I painted my masterpiece, abstract art. I named it ‘work’. I just slopped what I thought of work on that canvas and behold — the critics loved it. Easiest thing I ever painted.”

I looked into her eyes and was silent a moment. Finally, I revealed my thoughts, “I don’t know what you call it here, but I know you must have it.’ Getting down to the point. “On the outside we have what we call a kiss.”

Her thoughts affectionately replied: “Yes, we have such a thing here. From what I’ve learned of your world our kiss is somewhat different. It differs in meaning and feeling from yours. In it we may unite and become as one spiritual being. This is the maximum state of mind and while in it the will has the power of carrying out any desire, even to the extent of the life we possess. If you want, you may experiment.”

I drew her close and as I did, I felt her thoughts, her love, her being coming nearer, deeper, more meaningful. We touched lips. I felt myself being released from the burden of my body and sensed the fusion of our two beings. Such a merging of love, of spirit which brought forth a heaven previously unknown to any homo sapien. Her soul was clean, pure, and undefiled by any mortal sin. Her thoughts were my thoughts, her memories my memories; her being was that of which I was. The core of my spiritual being throbbed with an exaltation, a thrill such that the physical body is unable to encounter or one’s mortal self to comprehend.

Our eternity terminated with our caress, yet the forever we spent had not withered the leaves nor eroded the earth — even so we existed infinite within the fall of a teardrop.

She smiled and thought: “Amazing, putting a picture together with your own hands. Why such a thing is unheard of here. Our science reproduces everything we desire. How I would like to see one of your paintings — to actually see a reproduction with feeling, thought and emotions would be a new experience.” Then modestly she thought “Do you think you could do a portrait of me?”

I looked at her face. “Why of course. She would be the best portrait in all creation. Why if I could capture but a portion of her…”

I sensed she was capturing my thoughts. Her face looked overjoyed as I thought a positive answer. “I will need some tools.”

“I’m sure I can get you everything you shall need. When would you like to start?”

“Anytime,” I thought eager to commence my masterpiece.

“Tomorrow” she thought hopefully.

“I’d start right now if I could; I’m in the right mood.” She moved closer. We continued conversing. She was interested in every move I’ve ever made – the same as I was of her. Questions? A bountiful supply she had. I enjoyed every one of them. I loved to watch her face glowing with interest and feel the sincerity of her thoughts as I told her of many of my past experiences.

Some time passed. I tried changing the trend of thought: We were lying side by side holding hands staring at what should have been the sky. There was a slight breeze. I turned my head towards Amondie whose long platinum hair was swaying rhythm with the motion of the air, I touched the soft flesh of her cheek and moved my hand upward to remove the few strands of hair which cached her deep blue almost purple eyes — staring so intently, reflecting the beauty of her soul. Her loveliness becoming a growing attraction.

Our trance was broken as she jumped to her feet. I felt her tugging at my hand thinking: “It’s time for me to show you your place of rest. We must go now.”

I followed rather reluctantly. She led me to a small but extremely futuristic and roomy building. “This is where you will spend your nights during your stay. I am required to tell you to use the thought intercom to contact the supreme center before you make any journey outside of this building without me as a guide. You are to have your purpose okayed and you shall be expected to fulfill only that purpose. I hope this doesn’t make you feel uncomfortable or that the superiors don’t trust you, but I am told it must be so for security measures for your people and mine. And remember – if your mission is doubted you shall be followed by a monitoring system. I am sure nothing will go wrong; besides, why would you want to leave before morning? Oh, yes, you will find much more comfortable clothes in the closet than those you’re wearing… And you will have breakfast served as you desire – I hope … Now I must go.”

I clutched her hand — “Amondie–” My thoughts lagged unfinished.

She seemed receptive to my inner thoughts and drew herself near for a goodnight kiss. I felt her thoughts: “The magnitude of our kisses are controlled at will and in this we shall not leave our bodies. The kind which you are accustomed to seems fitting for the occasion.”

A mortal kiss was never so gratifying.

Yes, I was very comfortable — physically. The bed made me feel as if I were floating in the zero gravity of outer space. I laid awake – staring at the ceiling wondering worriedly. Amondie’s thoughts flashed repeatedly through my mind “We are different” — Just how different were we? I wondered if it was impossible to make her my mate “She doesn’t have a navel” I thought in my own kind of humor. My thoughts continued: “Ha — kinda funny when you think of it. Just how much does a navel of a difference make? Seriously, these people are made of real flesh and indeed they have original personalities. Perhaps we are of a different species, if so perhaps it would be against the law of nature to make Amondie my companion.”

Not being able to sleep I got up and paced tie floor. Absentmindedly I started outside for some air. As I passed the doorway I felt the thoughts of authority jerk through my being: “Your purpose for leaving?”

The question jarred to recollection the memory of Amondie’s instructions about using the thought intercom to contact the supreme center before leaving. I talked into open space — “I just wanted to get some fresh air — I couldn’t sleep.”

The thoughts came in return: “Your language is yet hard for us to understand and speak. Many shall have mastered it within a week; for the present you must use the thought intercom. Merely place your hands on the bar-like structure and release your thoughts.”

I did so and thought the same sentence I spoke.

The reply came: “You may, but you shall be watched on our communications screen. Proceed.”

I felt uncomfortable outside — the feeling you get when you suspect someone of looking over your shoulder.

I ignored the feeling and studied the night. The ceiling which covered the land became tinted and spread a moonlighted darkness over the area. The thoughts glanced from my mind — “How about that — an artificial night. The walls of the mountains still glowed, but the non-reflecting ceiling made for a perfect night.

I casually paced around my dwelling yet thinking worried thoughts of Amondie. In our kiss there were a few thoughts held back; thoughts that in all probability she didn’t want me to know. There was something mysterious about that large building — she seemed to hide her thoughts on it. Somehow in the near future I must find out about it. I mustn’t appear prying — I may have my freedom taken away. As it is, I’m feeling a bit uneasy – these people seem to be going to the extreme with watching me; as if they fear my discovering something … it hardly seems the thing for such a peace-seeking people to do. They say I am watched for security measures. This arouses my curiosity – this they should never have said.

At first it was without form like that of phosphorescent paint sprayed in thin air. Fragments of seconds passed; it became more illuminated and began to take form — at first fuzzy against the screen of the atmosphere, but within the wink of an eye a solid material arm ending at the elbow appeared floating in midair. A clenched fist unfolded to reveal the palm upon which was a small capsule. I felt the thoughts pierce my mind:

“I sense that you are restless. This pill will relax you; you may sleep well with it. It has no harmful effects and doesn’t dull the mind or require repetition as many of those of which you are accustomed to does. Many of our people take them for they clear the mind and sharpen one’s thought. Of course, you need take it only if you will and when desired. No doubt you need rest — your body is limited in endurance and is weary.”

My body responded to the surprise and the fear which existed at first. The rapid but powerful surges of my heart were dying down as I reached for the capsule. I was curious of the existence of the arm and commenced vocally to ask a question only to have the memory of our language difference cause my vibrations to fade.

Thoughts flowed into my mind: “If you desire communication take my hand.”

I stood awestruck, watching the arm floating in midair I felt like grabbing it and giving it a big harry yank. I wondered if I would pull a body out of nowhere — or perhaps I would be stuck with an extra arm. I perished the thought and clasped the hand.

As I was thinking of what to think I felt additional thoughts: “I sense you have questions on your mind. You wonder why I can communicate with you with no bodily connection — and you not with me. This is simply because of our greater mental powers. No offense please — but because of your weaker mind, that is in comparison to our people, you are capable of what our people are not. That is receiving thought with no physical connection, Your ability to receive thought will vary according to your distance from the sender and your concentration. The only reason you have not received any as of yet is that none have been directed at you.”

After a slight pause: “An even greater question on your mind is, of course, how my arm appeared here… especially after you were informed that we no longer have teleportation. You see, we are no longer able to teleport outside of the valley — for as you were told, this requires a large amount of energy, of which we no longer have. Even so, we do have a system whereas we may transmit ourselves anywhere in the valley from this main center. As your people say, ‘A picture is worth a thousand words — come my direction, I’ll show you.”

His hand pulled me toward him. Suddenly I felt as if I were dissolving and found that I had passed through an invisible screen into the supreme center. I felt myself to be assured that I had reassembled in one piece and looked at the person whose hand I held. He was one of Evondi’s men. “My name is Soloni I am an adviser to our leader Evondi. Behind you is the screen through which you passed.”

I turned and studied it. It was shaped like a door, but looked, more like a hole than a screen. It was as if I were looking through a window with no pane. Within this so-called screen was a picture of the place where Soloni’s arm first appeared. He explained: “This is our teleportation device, the only one in existence. It serves as a screen for viewing anywhere in the valley, and as a teleporter. To contact you all I did was focus the screen on you and stick my arm through it. I didn’t force my whole body through, for once this is done one can’t return, except by some other means. In other words, part of my body has to be on this side of the dimensional hole before one can enter — there has to be a connection. When we joined hands such a connection was made. If you wish to return to your place or departure, you merely need to walk through the screen… And if you desire a good rest I’m sure the capsule will help.”

He dropped my hand and motioned me onward. Walking through the screen I felt a tingling sensation along with that of dissolving. Perhaps it was created by the realization of how fantastic the thing I was doing really was. As I passed through everything behind me faded and became immaterial.

Walking into my dwelling I scrutinized the capsule between my thumb and finger — along with the idea of taking it. True, I did need a rest and was finding it hard to sleep. On the other hand, I feared it would be even harder sleeping wondering if Soloni had told me of its real purpose. I comforted myself thinking: “If these people wanted to give me a drug for their own purpose, surely they would not have me take it on my own will.” Deciding to take the capsule I started searching for water. I found a most peculiar hydrant from which I drew sufficient water to devour the pill. I walked over to my bed, flopped my body out, and waited for results. The bed grew more comfortable — to the extent that my body was unaware its existence. The pill seemed to be a catalyst for my imagination. I felt as if I were drifting in a world of thought, of dreams — very realistic and creative dreams in which my conscious mind seemed to exist. These were controlled dreams, my spirit moved at will, In them I had no worries, no discomfort I knew my body was receiving a maximum or relaxation.

I was awaked by the warmth of soft fingers on my brow forging themselves through my hair revealing the thought: “Breakfast is served.”

I lifted my eyes and saw the object of my desire – Amondie. A look of soberness turned into a hopeful smile as she motioned towards a tray of food. As I partook of the delicacies I wondered if the wonders of their science made the food so delectable or – Amondie’s good cooking. I preferred to think the latter.

As I took the last bite I sensed that Amondie was hopefully wondering how I liked my breakfast. I gulped down the last bite, grabbed her hand, and thought the most complimentary thoughts I could pry from my mind. She smiled modestly, gave me a brief kiss on the cheek, and released the thoughts: “You’ll get lazy if you stay in bed all day – time to get up.”

She walked over to a closet, yanked out some clothes, and tossed them in my face. Then she took the tray, opened the kitchen door, turned around, and gave me a motion which I interpreted to mean: “Be back in a moment.”

I got out of bed and examine the clothes. In my opinion they would be termed as — “very casual”; something like an artist would depict clothes of a hundred years in the future. I hurriedly put them on before Amondie returned. They were very roomy and comfortable and would probably fit a person twice my size. Nevertheless, the material contracted and expanded easily to take the form of the wearer and it fitted me nicely – I thought.

I walked into the kitchen to get Amondie’s opinion. She was putting away some already washed dishes which were probably done in one of the machines the place was furnished with. She turned, grabbed my hand, smiled with approval, and thought: “You’re one of us already. We must go, the superiors have a busy day planned for you.”

She spoke some words into thin air and an arm appeared. She grabbed it, held to me, and we walked through the teleporting screen into the supreme center. Instead of Soloni, a group of men awaited us. I assumed they were made of scientists and government authorities. They had a busy day planned. They put my body through a large series of tests, possibly to compare it with theirs. One thing which really made them marvel was my navel! I supposed it was something new to them — after all, they lacked that amount of empty space, or nothing, out of which it is composed. They really gave it a going over. They must have taken twenty pages of notes — more surprising still, they took a mold of it! Ha -probably envious.

Along with the physical tests they put hordes of wires all around my head, arm, legs — all over me; you guessed it …even my navel. Afterwards they asked me simple questions; nothing secretive – something like a preparatory for a lie detector test. Upon my answering, their machines hummed and screeched out an awesome tune as the many lights flickered their messages. They took great interest as they decoded the symbols.

Most of the day was taken by being scrutinized, but there were a few remaining hours to do as I pleased which was, of course, with Amondie. We spent our time in the park, sometimes walking, other times sitting side by side, but always holding hands thinking: “Amondie, about that portrait, I…”

“You still want to do it — don’t you?” Reassuring, I thought, “Yes, more than ever.” A gleam of happiness appeared in her eyes. She turned and again spoke some words into thin air. A few seconds passing, a hand appeared dishing out all manner of painting supplies. Amondie sent her thoughts: “I learned of all the material you need from the information gained from probing your mind with our machines. All that needed done was to feed the coded information into the production machines. They change the atomic structure of any material used, such as air, earth — anything material, into the figuration described on the code. All that needed done was putting in the information and bringing out the finished product. Of course, only the superiors are allowed to use the machines. Fortunately, they heeded my desires. They want you supplied with everything you want. A good impression is their only desire. Perhaps you would want to examine your new tools.

“You bet”, I thought eagerly. I examined the instruments. There was everything I could remember ever wanting in paint supplies. There were many accessories, plus hundreds of shades and colors, much more than I’ve ever used. Feeling that both or us wanted to get started I hurriedly set up the canvas and prepared for an eternal masterpiece.

“The pose, the pose”, I thought to myself. Any position would do as long as she was posing. I looked at Amondie, “Of course”, I thought. “Just as she is now is perfect”. I pictured how I would paint her as I viewed her sitting, not entirely reclined, under the shade of a leafy tree by a small stream of running water. “I shall have to add a blue sky with a few clouds”

I straightened her slightly and visualized the completed canvas. I wanted to capture her look of soberness — her mouth, not quite smiling having a look of sincerity, of tenderness. I wanted her eyes reflecting that special tint of light; revealing the love glowing within her which was so radiant — glowing with a look of hope, of happiness. And how much I wanted to capture the over-all benevolence of her face — showing with the tenderness of the Virgin Mary. How I wished for the masterful lines of Da Vinci!

As the days passed the picture began to take form, and as it did I could see the work of my subconscious. The portrait was capturing the beauty of her soul, something deeper than that material part represented. I could also see my soul in the portrait represented in her. Over and over I told myself that she and I made the picture; we were both there.

She was as anxious as I to see its finish. She seemed so joyful to quit posing to see how much I had done, yet she was an excellent model; once in position, she stayed there until I motioned for her to relax; immediately after I was rewarded with her interest. Often while looking at the portrait, she would grab my hand and think: “How much longer? Surely you have flattered me enough already. It seems so perfect; each day I wonder how you shall add upon it, yet you always do. Our machines merely imitate but you seem to do so much more.”

“There’s still much do be done. Your eyes are not yet perfect and I have to add upon the color. When it’s finished it shall represent the perfection of an eternity of God’s creation.”

“Your thoughts flatter me more than your painting.” She glanced at it again and added thoughtfully, “Well, maybe not, but I am not as much as either. Even so, I love you for the way you think… and the way you draw.”

She drew herself close; the nearness became one as we spent another eternity, as we had many by this time. Each brought a new joy and knowledge as we discovered one another. Each brought happiness as our love grew. And each brought greater fear of our difference. How I abhorred the thought of having my dreams of announcing her to the outside world as my wife shattered. But within our eternities – all fear was gone, replaced with peace of mind and an incomprehensible feeling of joy and knowledge of things immaterial,

Amondie was learning English. They were setting up schools to teach their people various languages throughout the earth. Even so we preferred our former means of communication. It was much more enjoyable holding hands, drifting in a world of thought.

I spent the night alone. When alone with nothing to do I do a lot of pacing, thinking. On one of these nights I felt Soloni must have had pity on me. I was surprised to see an arm appear with a bottle of sleeping tablets. Still later it seemed as if his sympathy was growing for every night, he extended his arm for me to clasp to join him in the supreme center. He worked alone there at nights; since his job required little attention, we had much time to keep each other company. Soloni was also working on the English language. It gave me a feeling of importance for a person of such superior mentality to ask me to explain certain elements of it. Our friendship grew with each passing night; our conversation never lagged.

One of these nights while he was working adjusting some of the machines I was relaxing half asleep, my mind blank. Suddenly I felt thoughts: “I wonder if all the outsiders are like him – if so, I take much sorrow in their extermination. I shouldn’t, but it makes me sad that a quake opened a passage for our age-old plan of vengeance. I would join them in death if Evondi knew my thoughts.”

The thoughts jerked me from my slumber. I thought perhaps I was dreaming but a dream entering your mind doesn’t wake you. What had Soloni said? …I am able to receive thought because of my weaker mind, but these weren’t directed at me. But then he also said that my perception varied according to my concentration. Perhaps for an instant my mind was opened to his thoughts and if I were to concentrate, perhaps I would receive more information.

I relaxed, leaving my mind opened, concentrating. I received more thoughts. This time they were directed towards his work.

I was horrified at the reality of’ his former thoughts I tried to remain calm as I spoke, covering a yawn with open fingers: “Soloni. I’m rather tired. Do you mind if I get some rest?”

He spoke as he turned from a large switchboard: “Fine with me. For the time being I would be a poor conversationalist — I shall be busy for a while. The screen is set on your dwelling; you may use it.”

In my room I was nervous, I would had been a damned fool not to have been. I didn’t take a pill, my desire for sleep was gone – completely. If I were to do anything; find out anything I should do it as soon as possible Now was my best opportunity; while Soloni was busy. First I wanted to find out about something of which I had been curious of a long time, the large building.

I walked out the door as if I had accidentally forgotten to contact Soloni. There was no interruption. Even so the silence was disturbing. I had to assume he didn’t see me leave or didn’t really care.

After walking a couple miles, I came upon the building. I marveled at its enormousness. Its length stretched an approximate mile in the distance with ten evenly spaced openings on a side I stood on the corner watching, hesitating. Even during the night women passed to and from the building.

Viewing the door nearest me I decided to test my power to receive thoughts As I concentrated they came — at first weakly but grew discernible as my thought was intensified: “My tenth donation. If it’s a girl it shall be named Agathelia; but if it shall be a boy it shall be called the same as Sheldon, the greatest of the forefathers. Oh, the joy I would receive if I were to live to see this one and the others born and raised.”

Of course, this made little sense (very little) and very much aroused my curiosity I approached the first opening — concentrating as I did to receive thoughts of anyone near me. By doing this I was able to avoid those in my path. I passed through several perpendicular halls after which I viewed one which ran the length of the building. The walls of the long hall glistened with the light reflected from the radiant ceiling. Moving a few steps forward I saw the reflecting material was transparent glass. Through the glass I could see eggs set in rows of about fifty feet, the thickness of the walls. Guessing at how many of the giant halls were in the building I knew there must have been millions — billions of eggs! Obviously this was their method of reproduction; inwardly I had thought of it but bad been unable to convince myself.

I pressed my hands on the glass walls and moved close to examine an egg. It was much more slender and pointed than a chicken egg. The length was nearly twice the width, of which I would guess the length to be a foot and a half. The color was an illuminated powdery white with tiny brown spots scattered at random. I examined others; naturally they varied slightly in size and color. They appeared to be extremely advanced within the evolutionary process of their species.

In my amazement I failed to sense the warmth of the walls for a period of time. The temperature seemed slightly greater than that of my body. Impossible — a giant incubator! I reasoned that they must have spent millennia gathering such a large number of eggs. They would rot after a short period of time – unless through their advanced science they were put in suspended animation. To be hatched all at once?? But why? Could it be to provide a populous for the outside after our extermination? Yes, it was a horrible thought, but I feared it true. Once these eggs were hatched there would be no room for the civilization outside. But perhaps they would keep a few of us for the sake of keeping our species from being extinct. Possibly we may be pets; some of us servants — perhaps slaves for their physical labor. No doubt their conquest would begin upon the hatching of the eggs. How long? I wondered. What did it matter? I knew those outside would be powerless against such an advanced race. That was speaking of the billions outside — I was just one. My chances of stopping their desired conquest was infinite. If I had escaped no one would have considered believing such a civilization exists. I knew I must try — surely God wouldn’t have those created after his image and likeness destroyed by another race.

I ventured further through the building exploring some of the perpendicular halls. Concentrating as I verged upon an opening I received the thoughts of a worker of some kind: “The incubation is in order. Within a week the first million eggs shall have hatched. Each person shall have ten children to raise. After they reach maturity each of them and the capable living will raise ten – requiring the hatching of ten million eggs. Next one hundred million, and eventually the entire six billion shall be born and raised to take the place of the outside race whom we are sworn to destroy and replace. How I hate them.”

The thoughts changed towards his work. They were from a male guard looking after the eggs.

I wanted to get the hell out of that place. The guard’s thoughts brought a great fear to my mind as the reality of our destruction became more apparent. I felt as if I must hurry — get out of that maze; I was getting warm enough to be hatched.

As I was trying to find an exit I bumped my elbow on a bar-like structure which sent warm vibrations through my body, like that of thought impulses. Being curious of their origin I touched it again: “Attention — people of Sheldon;” The thoughts were forceful and caused me to draw back at first. I thought that perhaps the bar contained instructions to the people. After a time I gathered the courage to grab it firmly.

The bar repeated itself and continued: “We are the elders. This message shall be handed down from generation to generation and you must know of our purpose whether you are living a thousand years from our death, or however great the number may be. There is a great desire for vengeance in our hearts — one which we know we cannot fill. At the present it is all we can do to exist for this valley is a place of damnation. Starvation and plagues have taken a heavy toll. Sheer will power, determination, and desire for vengeance is the nourishment of our people, and they are looking upon you — our posterity — to do that which must be done that we may go down to the grave with peace of mind.

“We were once a prosperous people on the outside. We had wings and soared as the fowl of the air. We were peace, loving people and we loved our fellow man. Even so, we were often pursued by wild two-legged mammals who were ruled by their savage impulses of hate and destruction. Since our wisdom was so much superior to theirs, we could have easily overtaken and destroyed them. But such a thing was against our law and each time they came upon us we moved to avoid any contention. Often, we would give them food, clothing, and precious things to soften their hearts that they might have peace with us. Even after all this they still sought our blood for they were desirous of our wings and it was a great honor among them to obtain them from us. He who had such proof of himself slaying a birdman was considered a great warrior. Finally, they did gather themselves together in a great band that they might come upon us and destroy our people from the face of the earth. And they did attack us unexpectedly and came upon us with a great desire for our blood and all were destroyed except those few of us who did flee to this valley which they did cause to be sealed up forever.

“We found the mountains to contain a deadly radiation which would cause death on anyone who would remain near them for an extended length of time. Thus we had no hope or digging our way out. We were forced to build our homes some distance from the mountains that the radiation would not be deadly to us. Even so it does cause our skin to dry unless we keep ourselves near water and we fear that within a few generations that it will produce a mutation which will rob us of our wings. The children born in here so far have wings smaller than their fathers.

“Now we leave with you the burden of making up for our mistake of tolerating those creatures outside. For when you do find a way out, co-existence with them will be impossible, and we do not want kindness to bring disaster upon you as it did us.”

“We leave with you our hope that you will carry out our desires — and we leave with you the order of the eggs that the smallness of the valley will not cause our posterity to dwindle. Even so, remember that each egg represents a life and generation the outside people have halted.”

The bar started repeating itself.

I released the bar and continued my search for an exit. The thoughts the bar released brought some sanity into my mind and I was able to think a bit more clearly – and the reality of destruction became more apparent in my mind.

I left with my mind full of wonder. I knew that our only possible salvation would be to cover up the cavity wherein I entered, but to do so I would need an explosive charge. Meanwhile I had to get back to my dwelling before Soloni noticed I was absent.

Knowing I needed rest I took a pill and went to bed.

As usual I was awaked by Amondie I stared at her lovely face. Surely she did not seek vengeance nor want to see me and my fellow beings destroyed.

Amondie spoke cheerfully – much more so than the mood I was in desired for conversation: “Hurry and get ready, I want so much to see the portrait finished. It is nearly done isn’t it?”

I spoke solemnly, “Yes, just a few more days.”

Amondie changing her mood – more seriously now: “Your voice quakes; is something troubling you?”

I looked up at her; her round eyes glowing with a tint of reflection: “What could be troubling me – perhaps the long hours we have to spend apart. Now go do the dishes and I’ll get ready.”

Reassured she smiled, swooped up the tray, and hurried towards the kitchen. As I watched her I knew there could be no desire for vengeance within her; nevertheless, I had to find out for sure.

While walking towards the park holding hands I concentrated, trying to feel bitter thoughts or any knowledge of their plan of vengeance. This assured me of her innocence for I felt no malignant thoughts. I knew she had to know their plans — that is unless they have machines that can control the mind. Perhaps she was not controlling her own.

Amondie must have sensed something was on my mind. I did very little on the portrait. Every so often while I was painting our eyes would meet. She knew something was troubling me but seemed afraid to ask.

That night, as usual, Soloni teleported me to the supreme center to keep him company. As we were drinking a brew those people found very pleasurable I looked at my host, “Soloni” I said, could you tell me of your weapons — I would assume your race has created many.”

He looked pleasantly surprised – as if I hit upon a topic of interest. His thoughts revealed no suspicions “Yes, of course, we do have a large variety. Take this one on my side — a paralysis ray. Effects only temporary.”

“And your other ones?”

“…The same thing but of a different magnitude.”

His hidden thoughts revealed it to be a much more dangerous gun than that. I assumed from his thoughts that one may consider himself dead after having come in contact with the ray it emitted. He told me differently because he didn’t want me to wonder why anyone would be equipped with such a deadly weapon.

He continued: “Perhaps you want to see our museum of weapons dating to the present. If you want, we may visit it now.”

He turned the teleporter on one of the larger buildings in the land. This time we both walked through the screen. Soloni left a thread through the dimensional hole to keep it opened, permitting our return.

We entered a room full of all manner of weapons. Some of those of the past millennia resembled those of our twentieth century. Some were handmade and were fine in workmanship, better than some of those they now use. Of course, I presumed the present ones were more effective. While observing the guns I felt Soloni’s thoughts: “He’d be surprised to learn that all of these guns were created with one purpose in mind – with the hope that a passage would be opened to the outside so the reason for their creation would not be in vain. Now after thousands of years, even tens of thousands, we were able to cause a quake which opened a suitable gap.”

As I concentrated harder I could see how they did this by setting charges in the earth at exact locations. An image of the machine which controlled them also appeared. His thoughts showed there was one charge left. I realized that if this was detonated it might close the gap making passageway impossible. It would be much easier than stealing one of the guns which were closely guarded. Besides, I probably would have gotten the wrong gun.

I started a conversation by asking questions. Soloni spent hours telling me of their old guns. That was his main interest. The new ones he eluded.

We returned to the supreme center. I viewed the machine I had received from Soloni’s thoughts hoping I would get a chance to use it. I was sure I could operate it, Soloni’s thoughts made it seem simple. All I needed was the chance I wondered if it would come – and how?

I returned to my dwelling, took a pill out of the bottle, but instead of taking it I put it in my pocket. This night I preferred to lie awake thinking – planning.

The night passed into morning. It brought with it Amondie and my breakfast. This morning our conversation lacked fluency. I felt as if I were at fault. On our walk through the park I felt there was something I had to tell her: “Amondie”, I said.


“I must leave you I said – fearing to tell her the reason why.

She looked at me with a face full of sorrow: “Don’t be speaking the truth – please.”

“I am speaking the truth, Amondie. I must leave – perhaps tonight.”

“But the superiors — they may not allow it. They say you are their responsibility.”

“I know, but I must try and leave. If you knew my purpose you would force me to. I can’t tell you if you know; if you don’t know now, you will soon.”

“If it has to be that you must leave – then I will go with you.”

She said that which I expected – that for which I had hoped. I felt she would remain true to me; nevertheless, I hadn’t included her in my plans. “I want you to come,” I said, “but we are different; you wouldn’t like our world.”

“Who am I kidding” I thought to myself — “In most probability my world shall soon cease to exist – and she with it if she were to come.”

I continued, “You would soon find me to be an old grouch; besides, danger is involved, and it is greatly increased with two instead of one. I would rather be without you than have your death on my conscience; you shall be safe here.”

Suddenly she drew back as if mesmerized, then put her hands over her face and wept. I had forgot to conceal my thoughts. I hadn’t thought of her holding my hand. She looked at me as if she were unmercifully awakened from a sleep and said: “It true. It’s terrible — terrible. You’re not responsible for the actions of your prehistoric grandfathers.”

She continued, “At first I was like the others. I was glad a way had been opened to the outside — a means of conquest. Throughout the past eons the hate of our forefathers has been kept alive. It was thought long ago that the hate for the outside people might die so a system was set up for the superiors to carry it out. Through this the people’s hate for your fellow man has not dwindled.”

“I was very trusted by the superiors; nevertheless, they feared I might release thoughts of our conquest to you. To eliminate this possibility of failure they censored my mind of all memories which they wished to remain secret. Even so, your thoughts jarred them back. A memory cannot be erased completely. With my complete memory back I should hate you. But now I realize how many lies were spread causing us to despise you. No memory could make me hate you — ever. The portrait you painted disproves all the lies ever spread. In it there is love and feeling — something we have not had for a long time. How I wished it could be finished, now I know it can’t.

“You must have come from a wonderful people; I like them already. I must go with you. From your thoughts I know you have a plan. It will work – it must. It is much better for this people to continue existing as they have then to have your billions die.”

From nowhere an arm appeared. This time the hand clenched a weapon. A voice spoke as another hand appeared: “You are ordered to come. Take my hand. You have destruction for your disobedience.”

Amondie and I looked at each other. Her eyes helplessly motioned for me to obey. I took his hand and Amondie mine as we passed through the barrier. This time we were greeted by a group of men. Evondi spoke: “We have under estimated you. How you discovered our plan, we don’t know. We know nothing of yours, but it must be stopped.”

He grabbed Amondie and threw her towards a couple of his men ordering them to take her into another room. I couldn’t stand seeing any force used on her. My fear was replaced with adrenaline as Evondi felt all my power condensed in a fist. Words couldn’t express my satisfaction of seeing him slide across the floor and bumping his head on the wall. Ha – served him right for building a slick floor.

Naturally some of his men grabbed me. A couple others revived Evondi. He got to his feet — gnashing his teeth, coming at me with both hands clenched to a fist. He relinquished his anger with three heavy blows on my face after which he had me thrown into a cavity on the wall and threw a switch.

“Go ahead and leave that hole,” said Evondi. “It’ll kill you.”

His hideous laughter echoed down the hall as they took Amondie away. Tears ran down my bloody face as I stood powerless. Wondering what Evondi meant about death upon leaving, I moved my foot forward slightly. As I did I felt a burning pain as I watched the tip of my shoe disintegrate. I looked at my foot and noticed my big toe got a manicure. If I had left, my body would have burst into nothingness. It was unbearable thinking of what they were doing with her. I feared they may have killed her.

There were footsteps. It was Soloni. I nearly cried to him: “Have they killed her — did they?”

“You needn’t fear for her life. They plan to brainwash her to make her think as they. Physically she shall remain unchanged, but after they are finished she shall hate you for Evondi plans to have her kill you. After the correct thought tapes are run through her mind, she will want to. It will be a while yet.”

What a horrible thought – having the girl I love so much; that loves me to cause my death.

I looked towards Soloni. Our eyes met. He had a sympathetically worried look of indecision on his face. I sensed that our friendship may pay off, “Soloni! You’ve got to help me escape. I am no monster. You know that. You can’t see me killed for something my ancestors did thousands of years ago.”

His lips moved and the whisperings were to himself. To my surprise he turned the same switch Evondi had. This time the hum of the machinery dying down told me he had turned it off. He motioned me out saying: “Evondi has gone mad. The vengeance set up by our forefathers is insanely childish despite their wisdom. I can’t let it be carried out. I was supposed to be in charge of your annihilation including your women and children. I’d rather die than have such a thing on my conscience.”

“Then you will help me?”

“To keep from slaughtering women and children — I’ll do anything.”

“The explosive charge that is left — will it close the gap?”

Soloni looked surprised. “The explosive charge… but how’d you?” Pausing to think. “Yes, it’s a possibility. On the other hand, it might open a wider gap. That was its original purpose. I have a different plan. The only thing left to do is for you to close the gap.”

“Go on.”

He handed me a grenade-like devise, instructed me how to use it and said: “You shall escape through the teleporter after which you must run as fast as possible. When you are a few feet from the cavity throw the grenade.” He paused a moment… “But I warn you. You may not survive. A landslide could bury you forever.”

“I’ll get buried anyway.”

Reassured he said: “Good, then you will do it. I shall focus the teleporter as near as possible to the outside.”

“First we must get Amondie… We’ve got to save her. I can’t let her hate me.”

He grabbed me firmly, my head looking the direction they took Amondie, as he said: There’s not time. The lives of billions of people are at stake – your people. To delay would mean their destruction. It’s better that she be brainwashed than for your world to perish. She will live.”

“And you?”

“I chose my fate when I released you from your prison. I want your world to continue living. You must go now.”

My mind drifted back to Amondie. “Amondie’s pure thoughts being replaced with hatred. I can’t have that done. – I can’t.”

Lost in a world of concern I shoved Soloni away and started running the direction they took her. Having taken a few steps I felt as if I were running in honey. My limbs grew more frigid until I stood motionless. I felt Soloni carrying me back to the teleporter speaking as he did: “I had to use the paralysis ray. Everything is at stake and we can’t delay. I am going to teleport you to the designated spot. In a few seconds you shall be able to run again. At that time you must run as fast as possible. Evondi will be back soon.”

He shoved me through the teleporter. I looked up and viewed the opening. It was a short ragged climb. I started running — hurrying, grabbing at the rocks for support. The fresh air of the outside was nearly in my lungs. Suddenly a silent beam vacuumed the air and touched my shoulder and my body was over-whelmed with weakness. I began to fear that it was the death ray I had learned of from Soloni’s thoughts. No doubt it was shot at me through the teleporting screen.

My strength faded and I collapsed to the earth. The wound was drawing the force of life from my body. I could feel myself, as well as hope for the billions outside, slowly dying.

Through the numbness of my brain I could hear movement of bodies through the dimensional hole which was still opened. Without doubt Soloni had been discovered. I looked up at the cavity and sensed the nearness of the blue sky waiting to be seen. I wondered if fate had planned it this way. Perhaps it was nature’s way — “The survival of the fittest”.

I turned my head and saw a mirage — a hopeful mirage. My dying eyes prayed it was real. Amondie was standing before me. If she were real, then she must have escaped and passed through the teleporter. But then the horror of another possibility overwhelmed me with fear. Perhaps Evondi had sent her to finish killing me. Perhaps he is waiting with eager eyes forcing himself to hold his laughter until that time when I would abhor it most.

Then I remembered Amondie’s words: “No memory could make me hate you.” Hesitating I spoke; my voice drolled out, barely audible, with some fear, some hope, and wavered with a question mark of uncertainty. “…Amondie, you’re still the same — they didn’t…?”

She bent over me. The soothing motion of her hand on my forehead, like that of a mother caring for a sick child, removed the shadow from my doubt. I felt her thoughts, vibrant and strong with the love and feeling she had; “Yes, I’m unchanged. Soloni saved me from being brainwashed. He gave his life for the world he loved — your world,”

“I’m dying Amondie.”

She drew herself closer. My blurred eyes could see her tears. You won’t; you’ve got to live. The lives of the billions outside are in your hands. You will save them. You must.”

She pressed her lips to mine. I could feel our spirits merging together with an even greater love than before. My soul was filled with joy as I gained a true knowledge of the surety of our love and, as before, all fear was gone.

We spent our last eternity.

I felt myself returning to my body. Lying on my back clenching my fist I could feel that my body had its normal strength. Amondie was lying by my side motionless. I touched her cheek, my voice quavered as I spoke her name, I said it twice.

She opened her eyes, They were viewing nothingness, yet they still contained that special tint of reflection. She managed to speak: “The force of life which was mine is now supporting you. I will have joy if you will remember me by it as you live. I want you to live your life for both of us on your world which must be so wonderful. My love for you shall not die with my body, such a thing is immortal and has no end. It shall be with you always. I have willed it.”

Something inside of me died as she closed her eyes. From the grip I had on her hand I felt that her last thoughts were for my safety, that I must hurry and close the gap and save my people.

My sorrow was so very great. I had to leave her fragile body lying on the rocks as I escaped. I wanted to look back, but I couldn’t. It would have only added upon my grief. Perhaps I had already taken too long.

I again started pawing my way to the outside hoping the radiation wouldn’t be too great. The rocks around me were glowing with a strange light and caused a much greater slowness in my escape. I looked up and saw the sky. I wanted to wrap my arms around it and pull myself the short distance I had yet to go for safety.

Suddenly a beam passed a slight distance over my head. I turned and saw Evondi and his men emerging from an invisible screen and pursuing me with great haste.

The shock was great enough to give me the needed energy to get outside and run a good throwing distance from the cavity. I lifted my arm to throw the grenade — I couldn’t. My soul was in torment. Evondi’s thoughts — his men — they were directed toward me-on me -within me. I couldn’t fight them. They weighted my spirit. The concentrated thoughts of their superior minds were trying to control my actions. They weakened my will, my spirit, and my body. I was barely capable of standing. They were emerging slowly and confidently from the opening, taking their time walking toward me.

As they came nearer their thoughts became more intense and the agony of my soul became greater than any physical pain I have, ever endured. My mind did not seem to be my own and I had nearly lost all concern.

I began to swim within myself searching for hope; reaching for something — someone. I did not know if I were alive; or whether I was lying with my head in the snow or standing waiting to be shot down. All I knew was that I was in conflict with something intangible and I could not tell if my eyes saw light or darkness.

Then I felt the soft flesh of a gentle hand radiating thoughts; pure and filled with love. I saw the face of a beautiful platinum haired girl and I kissed her and was with her and all the torment was gone. We walked together for long time, or perhaps a short time, and I loved her.

Amondie’s love was with me and I had somehow regained will. My mind was clear; my body strong.’ The grenade was tight in my hand and I threw it. I felt the concussion and my body was thrown back.

I was hurt and unable to walk. I lifted my eyes and saw that the gap was closed. Evondi was dead. I knew that I would soon join him. I would die as I nearly did before. I would freeze. The bitter cold chewed at my hands and face. Then I realized that my body within my clothes was warm and that the material out of which they were made must have been a perfect insulator. Remembering how stretchy the material was I stretched it over the bare parts of my body and fell asleep.

I awoke in a comfortable bed. Some inhabitants of a nearby village found me and carried me to safety. I had visited them before climbing the mountain and they nearly considered me a god for surviving weeks in snow and ice. After a few days they were able to move me.

Ah, but primitive civilization was a comfort. The environment was good for my wounds and I was healing quickly.

After settling back in the outside world my financial life improved immensely. I had some reverse engineering done on my clothes and the pill I stuffed in my pocket. I then filed for several patents that I sold to large corporations.

I started painting with greater regularity. Someday I would recreate the portrait I had painted in the valley. I know Amondie wanted it finished. I had numerous sketches of her. It brought back so many memories each time I saw her face appearing as I forged the smooth lines of it on a drawing pad.

I spent much of my leisure time swimming, a habit I acquired in the valley. I was basking on the side of a large public swimming pool reading a paper, thinking of Amondie. My heart ached with a longing for her as I thought of her dark eyes staring so intently. Sometimes when I lie on the twilight of sleep I would swear she were near – trying to commune with me just as she did when she saved my life for the second time on the mountain. Often in my dreams we walk together holding hands, lost in a world of thought. When awake I felt I really was with her, for I know her spirit didn’t die.

…And Soloni — he gave his life to prevent our conquest. I shall never forget him. He would be glad to know that his life was not given in vain. This people on the outside are now safe.

Feeling a bit content, I leaned back to read the paper. “Hmmmmm — so Russia’s testing again.” The first line of the paper read: “Russia announces plans to show proof of their having a new generation of nuclear bombs in a test scheduled for next week.” I read for details. The paper said that the location of the detonation would be approximately the same as that of the valley. It seemed rather odd that our people should end up destroying them. Now the outside world would never know they existed.

Then something kind of peculiar happened — a strange object was floating near the edge of the pool. I scooped it up in my palm and looked at it with a kind of horror as I thought: “A lot can happen in a week.” The sentence ran over and over through my mind as I viewed the object; an artificial navel… Then, I felt their thoughts.

Oct 14, 2007

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The Phone Takes Its Toll

The Phone Takes Its Toll

By J J Dewey

(This was my second short story, again written in 1961 at the age of sixteen. At the time I was reading Edgar Allen Poe’s works and thought I would write a story patterned after his style.)

“No, no, I won’t talk.” “Please don’t shoot — please – please…” A series of shots put an end to the old man’s cries. The air was filled with silence only transcended by the dire thoughts of the murderer. “The old boy didn’t have much life left; besides he could have caused me plenty of trouble.”

“I’m the killer. You must have a pretty vile opinion of me from my previous act, but you need not have, for I have a good reason for all my deeds. You see, I never kill a man without a reason. The reason I killed the old man is very explainable. He knew things – things which could cause me trouble. It’s better this way – for both of us. His mouth no longer threatens me and he no longer has to fear death; he should thank me for ending his life. No doubt life was an affliction to one as old as he.

As I walk home I feel relieved, knowing I have nothing to fear. The law is farther from me today than ever. I breathe with deep breaths of exultation, for the first time in ages, my mind is at rest.

Those were my thoughts; surely no one would have thought me a murderer. If you could have seen how calm, how unruffled my nerves were, surely you would have not thought I had just killed a man. I was clever, I knew I had committed a perfect crime. No human eye could possibly find fault with the job I had completed so well.

All the way home the air seemed to be filled with a state of tranquility. No doubt the knowledge of my safety allayed any fear which ran through my brain.

Upon reaching my house I found something very strange. I found an extra telephone in my home. It was dull black in color and placed on the mantle of my fireplace. What kind of person would go around implanting telephones on mantles of fireplaces? I thought there was something wrong with this neighborhood ever since I moved here – we don’t have cat burglars, instead we have the opposite.

I examined the phone. I lifted it off the hanger; there was no dial tone. I pressed my ear tightly against the receiver. It sounded as if someone had his phone off the hook. As I listened, I heard the sound of breathing – It was very deep and slow; nevertheless, I Knew someone was there. Suddenly: “You are there, aren’t you Mr. Masters? I knew you would come. You have no idea how long I been waiting.”

Surprised, I let the phone slip from my fingers. I drew back as I watched it swing back and forth while hanging on the wire. The person had a dry parched voice; it sounded as if he just came off the desert. Whoever he is; he has nerve…going to all the trouble of installing a phone just to scare me. That breathing – I can still hear it, slowly, silently, but very discerning. It’s as if the matter of my brain were exposed to the cold breath of a ghoul. I went in the den, opened a book and commenced reading, concentrating, but still the breathing was there, so close, so very, very close, like that of the soul entrapped within the body. It’s merely my imagination; the cause is merely the memory of the breathing I heard on the phone, flowing through my brain.

To end this madness all I have to do is hang up the phone. This was my decision. I entered the doorway to the living room and viewed the phone, still dangling on the wire, swinging very gradually. I approached the phone – gradually, with much care, as one would approach a man in his sleep with intent to kill. As I verged upon the object, the breathing became more apparent, more noticeable. The intensity of the sound didn’t vex me, but just its existence – whether mental or physical began to disturb increasingly, my being, like that of a snake creeping and crawling through one’s brain. Finally, the phone was within my reach, I grabbed it and held it tightly within my grip. As I was about to hang it up, I began to wonder who was on the other side. I put the earphone a few inches from my ear. I heard nothing, even the breathing seemed to become stilled.

Daringly, I ventured to put it closer and closer until, at last, I had the phone pressed tightly against my ear. I listened with great concentration, but heard nothing but impenetrable silence, as if the universe ceased to exist. Then came that voice — dry, muffled, parched — it seemed to jolt my soul even more than death itself. “I am with you, Mr. Masters, I shall be with you to the end – an end which shall never come.” Then came the laughter, so hideous, so abhorred and intense that it seemed to be echoing out of the depths of hell to place an eternal scar upon my soul. He seemed to expel laughter with a large exhaling of breath as if the cause was holding his breath during the previous moment of tranquility.

The terror of my soul was somewhat eased after I thrust the receiver on the hook. The laughter ceased and again silence was the victor.

I hurried into the bar to pour a drink. Having done so, I released all of my mortal self to the support of an armchair. I closed my eyes, feeling a bit at ease, a bit content until – until my horror was again commenced as the cold breath flowed across my brain, growing more intense — and more — and more. The sound was again becoming more apparent. He was right, he is with me – whether behind – in front or within me – I don’t know, but he’s here, breathing on me.

The phone’s ringing. He’s trying to call me towards him, to put me in fear to satisfy his odium. The phone – it caused all of this madness, the breathing, the laughter. Perhaps it is my way out. If I were to disconnect the phone perhaps it would release the psychological bond between our minds, or whatever the cause of the breathing.

I bravely opened the door to the living room and viewed the phone undisturbed on the mantle. I ventured towards it and as I proceeded, I noticed a marked change in the breathing. It was heavier, deeper, louder, and seemed to be upon or within my very being. Instead of disturbing me, it gave me confidence, for I knew I vexed him with the thought of removing the phone. I smiled greedily; my brain grew cold. as I reached to dismantle the phone. I yanked it loose and crushed it triumphantly on the floor.

While in my stupor, I seemed to have lost contact with the breathing. I gazed at the phone lying on the floor with the receiver extended the full length of the wire. At this moment, I realized that the atmosphere was absent, the appalling breathing. Again, there was a state of silence, so quiet, arid and placid that I doubted my existence. This was short-lived, for soon the tranquility was interrupted by that sound I now know so well, that abhorrent breathing. It sounded as if the air were being forced from the lungs of a dead man. So quietly he breathed, but I could. hear it so well.

I could no longer feel the breathing in my head, but I could hear it, so faintly, so waning. The phone, it’s coming from the phone. He wants me, he wants me to come towards him. I swore that I wouldn’t give in. I have to dispose of the phone completely then my horror shall end.

I approached the phone cautiously and slowly, again as one would approach an enemy in his sleep. Slowly I proceeded, but quickly did he commence his work with his horrible breath – his horrible soul. I reached for the phone, but he was upon me — within me, destroying my very being. I reached further only to yield myself to his hideous engrossing soul. I became weak, my legs could no longer support the weight of my body. Sweat came from every pore. He was fast overpowering me, but I fought. I fought with all my soul and spirit. Then came the release. He lost all power which he had over me. I raised in exultation. Then I noticed it, very small, but it was there, the fire.

The fireplace had a fire placed in it, at first a small flame, but growing quickly. Suddenly: “I am with you, Mr. Masters. I shall be with you to the end – an end which shall never come.” I looked and viewed his form which was as horrible as his piercing soul. The phone — I reached for it to throw it away — only to have my hand pass through. I heard laughing. It was him coming toward me. I looked toward the fireplace. The fire was growing larger.

Oct 13, 2007

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One-Eyed World

One-Eyed World

By J J Dewey

(This was the first short story that I have written back in 1961 when I was sixteen. I think it illustrates the principle of illusion.)

Man what a nap! Never have I felt so rested after a sleep. As I get up off the bed, I feel rested, light as a feather, and have an exhilaration of energy. To sum it up, I feel great. Strange though, I have just come to the conclusion that I do not know where I am. The room I am in has the appearance of an ordinary hotel room. I don’t have total amnesia — I just don’t know how I got here. Apparently, I was placed here just recently. The last date I remember is July 25 at about 2 p.m. No doubt it’s that same date, but how did I get here and why do I have partial amnesia? I look at my watch. It’s exactly 6 minutes past three. One hour and six minutes have elapsed without any memory.

As I wander around the room, I glance out the window and see the Moonbeam Bar, one of the better-known places in town. This means that I must be in Bill Gates’ hotel — why I know Bill — he’s one of my best buddies. The Moonbeam is one of my favorite hangouts. Perhaps he found me there lying on a table and gave me a room to sleep it off. According to my last memory, that wasn’t where I was. The last I remember, I walked into a restaurant about a block away from the Moonbeam and met an old friend, Lee Maloom. At this time he introduced me to his friend. His name was Mark… I never was good at remembering names, especially last names. He seemed to be a normal person, though I will never forget his face; it marked an impression on me. This is the last memory I possess. I’m almost positive that I didn’t go to the Moonbeam, and I’m sure I wasn’t loaded, because I don’t have a trace of a hangover.

Perhaps I was given some kind of sleeping pill and was later robbed. Wait, I still have my wallet. Let me check; yes, everything’s in order, no money was taken, I’ve even got the grocery list Mary made for me this morning. I can see her now — cleaning house, watching the clock, waiting for me to come home. Yeh, I was lucky to get a girl like that for a wife. I can also see Jack and Bobby playing in the yard. It’s things like this that makes a guy want to come home.

I am pacing the floor wondering what I should do. It seems as if the most reasonable thing to do would be to leave this place, then I could find Bill and maybe he could explain how I got here. I have a strange feeling of direction as to not leave; it’s as if I am forbidden to leave for some purpose. I am extremely curious as to how I got here, but have no desire to leave. There is nothing to do except for pacing the floor. I notice a comic book lying on a chair. It looks like one of the science fiction variety. I pick it up and notice that all the characters have only one eye just above their nose. The odd thing about it is that even the heroes from earth have only one eye. Comic books are sure different now, than when I was a kid. I don’t mind something a bit different, but this is weird. It seems to be presented in such a way that it seems normal for a person to have one eye.

I feel as if I have to wait in this room for a purpose, as if I shouldn’t leave yet. There’s nothing to do so taking a nap seems to be a good resort. As I lie down, I feel restless, as if I’m being watched, the kind of feeling that makes one afraid to turn around for fear he will see something horrible. Perhaps this is why I don’t want to leave the room; perhaps there is something out there — something I shouldn’t know about.

I can’t seem to get to sleep; at times I nearly dose off, but it doesn’t last. I look at my watch, only twenty-seven to four. Every minute seems eternal. What’s the purpose of my being here and why don’t I want to leave! I wish I knew. One thing I do desire to know is! “How long I will have to wait before I will want to leave?” I know I can walk through that door whenever I want, but some exterior power is compelling me not to.

I am trying to go to sleep. My head is turned away from the door. I know there is something out there, something I shouldn’t know about. Call it instinct if you wish, but I know there is something weird, something which seems so far away, as if it were locked within my subconscious, and I know the answer is behind that door. I feel that I must wait for a period of time, but how long, I don’t know. Surely this period of time will end soon; then I will know the answer to my questions.

I nearly fall asleep in my thoughts, as I hear the door open. It makes little noise, but I know that it is opening and that it must be nearly all the way open by now. Within the next second numerous thoughts flow through my mind. I fear exceedingly. I am afraid to look. Why? Surely no bug-eyed monster is waiting to overtake me. Suddenly I hear a woman’s voice, “Mr. Jack, Mr. Jack. Sorry to bother you, it’s just me, the cleaning lady. I hope I didn’t alarm you. I was told not to disturb you, but I had to get some towels. I hope you don’t mind.”

Great throbs of relief poured through my brain. I know now that I have nothing to fear. The lady’s voice was kind and easy to discern and soothed the fear that ran through my brain. I must answer. I see her bending over a drawer getting some towels. I glance out the door and see nothing unusual. The cleaning woman has most of the towels. She is turning and starting to say something. The words she utters I don’t know; I don’t know if she said anything. Upon viewing her face my fear came back tenfold.

She has only one eye!

It is slightly larger than mine and in between where the two eyes should be. Upon viewing her eye my limbs become rigid. I feel like I’m in a dream, one in which I try to run, but can’t.

While staring at her, my fear is increasingly growing. I can feel my heart thrusting blood through my body; I feel as if I have no choice but to run out the door. I burst through the doorway and hear her mumbling something, but I am in no mood for conversation. At the top of the stairs, I see Lee and Mark sitting at a table downstairs. I must tell them what I saw, even though they won’t believe me. I think back to the comic book I read. Perhaps this is a dream, or I nearly imagined what I saw. I try to ease my fear by thinking this over and over. I walk down the stairs and call out to Lee and Mark. They look startled. Mark seems to be whispering something to Lee. I call to them again; still they don’t answer me. I approach Lee and tap him on the shoulder. He grabs my arm tightly and Mark jumps on me.

One eye! Mark and Lee both have one eye!

Mark tells me to take it easy and everything will be all right. Seeing my best friend with one eye was too much, again my heart starts pounding and I am stuck with fear. With all my power I must strike against them. I push Lee across a table. I don’t know how far he slides, afterwards, and then I push Mark aside and run out the door.

Its nineteen minutes to four. The minutes pass very gradually. As I walk down the street, I see hundreds of one-eyed people. I’ve pinched myself hundreds of times wishing I could wake up. I wonder if I’m really at home dreaming all of this, but in a dream one can’t feel pain or sweat, like what’s on my brow. I think of the science fiction stories, which I’ve read, where people are transported to different dimensions. Perhaps somehow I was switched with my double from another dimension, except in this dimension people have only one eye. Perhaps by some form of transmutation I occupy his body, and he was switched to mine. If so, he’s probably having the trouble as I am. Wait; no it can’t be…if this is so. I must check. Perhaps I have only one eye. I have a small mirror in my wallet, I pull it out and hesitate, but then force myself to look. Yes, whew! Two eyes! At least I’m normal. This means that our bodies, and not our souls, exceed this dimensional barrier, if one exists. Meanwhile, I must find an exit to this one-eyed hell.

I must go home and tell Mary my story; we can work it out. Perhaps I can tell her, her real husband is in another dimension, my dimension, the dimension where I belong. Surely, I don’t belong here. As I walk toward my house, I try to hide my face, for surely everyone here would think of me as a monster with two eyes, the same I think of them being freaks with one eye. There’s our house, but as I approach it, I think of Mary cleaning the house, and turning around and staring at me with her one eye. I know I couldn’t bear it. I can’t go and see her. As I turn to walk away, I think that for some reason, I shouldn’t have been disturbed nor left my room.

Wow, suddenly I’m getting sleepy; I can hardly walk. I feel like I’ve been heavily drugged. I’m being overtaken with sleep. I remember falling to the ground and feeling very comfortable and relaxed. My subconscious seems to recall someone carrying me someplace.

I hear a voice; it sounds like Mark’s. He’s telling me that on the count of three every thing will be normal again, and I will remember everything I was told to forget, when he hypnotized me. He counts to three very slowly and the first thing I see is his face. Yes, I remember now. Mark is a hypnotist and tried hypnosis on me and found me to be an excellent subject. I cannot express my relief; everything is normal again and I am not afraid. He wanted to experiment with a strong post hypnotic suggestion by making me see things abnormal and unearthly. If all was successful, then after one hour I was again to go into a deep sleep only to be awakened by Mark. Now I am glad that everything is normal again. I see Mary and the two boys, as cute as ever. Mark says to look in the mirror and see if the hypnosis is entirely successful. As I look in the mirror, I see myself as a normal person.

I look at my one beautiful eye in the center of my forehead and am so glad things are back to normal.

I am presently congratulating Mark on his original idea to hypnotize me to think I had two eyes and it was not normal for those around me to have one eye. To end the day, we all have a drink and laugh at what a preposterous thing it would be if humans were created with two eyes.

You there… You reading this. When you awake from your concentration on this you may think that you have two eyes. If you do, you must have been the other guy hypnotized by Mark.

Oct 11, 2007

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To Multiply and Replenish

To Multiply and Replenish

By J. J. Dewey

This was one of my first stories written ibn 1961

“Don’t quit — please. I’ve got so much work I’ve…”

It was no use — she turned and walked away. Not even a good-bye. It’s too bad, she was a pretty one. I guess I shouldn’t have chased her around so much. Terrible habit of mine! Terrible. Lose more secretaries that way. It’s been going this way too long. About time I changed. The next one will be — different. That’s it — a change in figure will allow me to get something accomplished.

After dialing the phone … “Employment center???”

A very stretched out one word solos: “Yeeesssss?” (A short pause) “To whom am I speaking?”

“A. L. Fergot … PhD. S’il vous plait.”

“You again?”

“Me for the last time,” I said; proud the way I did — so — authoritative, so very authoritative. “I’ll have the usual. That’s it — a secretary. One difference, this time don’t put emphasis on the looks — I want someone efficient. I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

I remember so very, very clear the first time my eyes feasted upon her. Her presence was made known by a knock on the office door. An open door usually leaves a hole, but not this one. The gap was completely filled by a big blob of a thing I considered to be on my opposite sex — woman. “Good morning Miss Appetite” (the Miss I assumed) I almost said. “A good 1/7 ton” I said to myself. “Closer to 1/6 — scrutinizing her — maybe 1/5 … nah, not quite.”

Some of my other thoughts “Wow would you look at that double chin — and those cheeks — real hefty. I mean there’s enough to heft. Now a real lover, I mean a real lover wouldn’t pinch her on the cheek — he’d grab a handful and squeeze: develop a good grip that way you know. That nose!!! Wide as the length of the average finger. “Her eyes, her eyes — her dark blue eyes” I thought passionately — humoring myself, “look like hell because of her long droopy eyelashes.”

I could go on, but we shall stop at the eyes for it was there I discovered that she was fanning me more than I her. That cow-eyes stare gave me … shall we say “the creeps”. Her eyes gawking at me made me feel like a luscious watermelon just ready to eat. She looked as if she were planning on doing the eating — and lots of it.

Her infernal gaze shocked me into motivation. “Er — Have a chair, Miss…?”

“Fairbanks” … “E. S. Fairbanks,” came her reply.

“Fairbanks, Fairbanks,” I mumbled under my breath for the sake of memory seating myself at my desk thinking, “That voice, that voice — that penetrating voice,” again humoring myself with passionate thoughts, but then thinking harshly, “Can only be compared to a thumbnail scraping across a blackboard.”

I got a file sheet, wrote down her name, and without looking up (very businesslike) I asked, “Age?”


“Years experience?”

“Have done secretary work since I was 18.”

“Former employers?”

Oh, but they were great in number. So great were they, that I scratched a line over the single name, I did write down and perished the thought of approximating any number.

She would say something like, “Oh, yes, then there was Mr. Harris. A very dear man, but I didn’t like his round nose. I never did like round noses. Ever since I was this tall (motioned with her hand a few feet from the floor), I’ve had a phobia of round noses. I quit working for him, I don’t get fired — if anything I quit. Yes, sir, I told myself, ‘Now Miss Fairbanks, you just can’t go around working for someone with a round nose — it just ain’t ethical;’ sooo I quit, that’s what I did.”

“I seeee.” I said in the state boredom like an Eskimo watching a glacier melt.

“Then there was Mr. Lopez with the long earlobes…”

On and on and on until I interrupted. “Er — Miss Fairbanks — as you’ve probably heard I’m working on a time machine. I have many notes, equations, and formulas I need typed and filed. I shall give you the material with simple instructions. All you need do is follow them. Is everything clear?”

“Why of course…”

I interrupted before she could utter her next word. I knew her open mouth was filled with boredom. “You shall work in Room 2. It is furnished with all the necessities.”

I got up, opened the door, and motioned her down the hall. My thoughts exploded, “Wow talk about a broad!” “She’s broad alright — about three ax handles from hip to hip … nothing exact of course.” “… And the momentum of that swing. Man like that would break the jaw of the strongest hippopotamus!”

Out of courtesy, I accompanied her to her office. “You shall work here, and please disturb me only when necessary. I’m rushed on this machine. The government’s willing to pay a large price, and I want to be first.”

“Ummmm hmmmmm” she said, staring with that passionately cow-eyed glare. I shook inside. If she wasn’t yack’n she was staring. Oh, but I was joyful to be rid of her.

I had to work so hard. There I was slaving away on the time machine and I would get that eerie feeling — as if some ghoul were watching my every move. The cause was soon revealed as I turned my head and viewed one. Yep — it was her; standing over there filling the doorway, her eyes glued to me.

“Miss Fairbanks!” I said with a rather raised voice.

I nearly regretted waking her from her coma. My words seemed to be the motivating factor for her jaws. Out it came — yak yak yak yak. Such childish little questions to which she knew the answers. “Common Sense?” “Ya ever heard of it?” I thought. Then came her ideas for improvement. How to run things. Her words brought agony to my soul. How I yearned for the days of beautiful secretaries, the exercise, the short sprints, and getting nothing done — now — an ugly one who tires me with her facial features, and getting less than nothing accomplished.

She carried a suitcase to work, which very much aroused my curiosity, although I should have guessed the contents thereof. I pride myself with some common sense. At noon (Oh, you’ve guess it so soon?) I walked by her office and viewed the most tremendous meal in all creation spread all over the table and part of the floor. Good thing she had a whole hour to eat. A whale would lust after her lunch. I could also see why she needed the job.

She was a damned slow typist. She’d pluck out a few words then reach for a piece of chocolate; her lips puckered and smacked while she chomped. My very precious papers stuck together with candy, added much fuel to my frustration.

A rotten bookkeeper she was — couldn’t add with an adding machine. I’ll say one thing, the employment center filled half of my request: The no-so-good-looking part, but the efficient — ho boy: If one were negative; the other positive, they would average out neutral.

The days passed — I became uneasy, queasy, my blood freezy. I was aging prematurely. The shock of sensing someone staring with glazing eyes, then turning to view the reality of one’s fears — I’m tell’n you the shock is terrific. I figured I was aging a year a day, and at that rate I didn’t plan on living too many years.

Then came the day, “Not again,” I thought agonizingly, “Please — not again.” I turned and once again the shock hit me. There she was staring at me. My blood felt as if it were caked in globs of clot as I looked at her eyes cast gleamingly my direction. “Miss Fairbanks,” I said with a voice of thunder, “If you want something ‘get it’; otherwise…”

Her eyes opened with a frightful glare as I started my sentence, but before I could say leave, she was thundering her behemoth body my direction. What else could I do??? I ran — I ran like hell … ‘round and ‘round and ‘round the room. I glanced behind me and wondered how many calories per second she was using to keep up to me. Now I know why my former secretaries left. How I envy their escape.

The chase lasted through timeless eternities. I gasped for air and nearly fell, the only thing saving me was the “yum yum eat’m up” look on her face. By the laws of nature an elephant has to tire, but not this one. Her desire for a man kept her stampeding onward. If I were to take time to open the door, she would catch me; I just had to keep running ‘round and ‘round and ‘round until she tired or I passed out.

On our 1,684th (a guess) lap she caught me by my shirt. The centrifugal force of our circular movement threw her body toward the time machine controls. Her large carcass scraped against the numerous switches and was flung into the sending cabinet — along with me and my shirt.

The time machine hummed, lights flickered, and I bit my fingernails. “So the time machine is going to get its first test” I thought subconsciously.

Our next sight was that of a wild, but lovely flowery, fruitful wilderness. The future, the past, another world? I didn’t know where the hell we were. Wherever it was there was no way back. She was unconcerned. The hard run she had brought but one thought into her mind — FOOD! Off she went to the nearest fruit tree. She plucked some off drooling, not thinking it might be poisonous. There was none like it on our earth. She didn’t care — she chomped away on it like it had long been her favorite food.

My concerns were many — the main one being the future. Was there a way out? Then horridly wondering I asked, “Miss Fairbanks — what’s your first name?”

“Didn’t I tell you? It’s Eve,” she said, shoving some fruit my direction, motioning for me to take it.

A kind of frightful reality entered my mind as I wondered about the next nine hundred years. I realized how my first name fitted into this nightmare — Adam…

Hungered, I ate some fruit.

Sept 26, 2007

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A Penny For Your Thoughts

A Penny For Your Thoughts

By J. J. Dewey

Farce Shelbee was concentrating on his next move. His friend Less Brighten was watching him.

“Have you really been thinking of chess these past five minutes?” Less asked.

Farce said nothing. He continued concentrating on the board. Less was not surprised. Farce was often like this. He waited until he finished his move.

“Checkmate!” said Farce.

“Well, you did it again, Farce. You did it again. I’ll beat you someday, but tell me. Did you hear me a moment ago when I spoke to you?”

“You spoke?”

“You mean you really didn’t hear?”

“Did I miss something?”

“I just asked you a question while you were concentrating on your move. Say, I’ll give you a penny for your thoughts. What were you thinking about?”

“My next move? That’s all.”

“You’re sure?” said Less. “You know when you get that look in your eyes you always make me wonder. Sometimes I think you’re thinking of conquering the world.”

Farce laughed. “That’s a good thought. I think I’ll do it tomorrow. Ha!”

“You reminded me of something else. I was watching an educational program on television last night, and they were discussing the brain and its powers.”

“What’d they say?”

“Well, they said that we only use a small percentage of our brain power. Our brain emits certain kinds of waves which actually effect other people. The harder we concentrate the stronger these waves become.”

Farce leaned nearer. “Do tell.”

“Well, they explained that the reason some people are masters and others servants is because some emit strong waves and others weak ones. This can put the weaker-willed person under control of the stronger.”


Less could never tell how much Farce absorbed the things he said. “Even more interesting he said that if a person could concentrate hard enough he could make someone else do anything he wanted, and the weaker-willed person would think that it was his own will. Fortunately, these waves from most people are negligible.”

“That’s interesting. It really is.”

“You made me think of it when I saw you concentrating. I’ll bet you have as powerful brainwaves as they come.”

Farce smiled. It would be pretty neat to have power over other people.” He paused. “Just by thinking.”

“And what would you do if you did have the power?”

“Dunno. Never thought of it.”

“How about, well… like I said, ruling the world?”

“Now Less, do you think a guy like me would get a charge out of ruling the world?”

Less looked at Farce, a boney, timid man with glasses. “On second thought, sorry I mentioned it.”

“I hope so. About the most dramatic thing I’ve ever tried to rule is the chess board. Then there’s my girl, Rosie. Do you know what I would do with the power if I had it?”




“Why should I? In a way it would be stealing. Stealing a man’s mind. You know I’ve always tried to do what’s right, and I think it would be wrong.”

But it could be used for good.”

“How’s that?”

“You could make the people of the world stop fighting, and there would be peace. Imagine no more war.”

Farce thought, “You have a point there.”

“I’ll tell you what,” said Less. “Let’s experiment.”

“You mean you believe it will work?”

“I don’t think I can do it, but I know you can if any man alive can.”

“Well, it does kind of interest me. What do you propose?”

This time Less appeared to be in deep thought. “Let me see.” His eyes sparkled. “I’ll tell you what! Sometime during the next day or so you concentrate your thoughts toward me bringing you something. I don’t want to know what it is yet, but think something up and have me bring it to you.”

“Well, I might try it out if I get bored.”

“I hope you get bored,” said Less, getting up. “I want to see if it works.”

“We’ll see.”

Less opened the door and looked into Farce’s unbeguiled eyes. “Farce, if any man on earth could be trusted with the power, I think you’d be the one.”

“Sure Less. We’ll see you later.”

“Yea. Later,” said Less and he was gone.

Curious thoughts ran through Farce’s mind. He wondered if it were possible for him to have the power. Farce had a great desire to get at the bottom of things. This combined with the thought that he may be able to do some good was impetus for him to experiment.

Farce sank himself in a most comfortable chair thinking of an idea for his first experiment. He decided he would have his girl, Rosie, bring him some flowers. He concentrated over and over: “Rosie, bring to me, Farce Shelbee, some flowers. Rosie, bring…”

At first his brow was wrinkled from the pressure of his eyelids, but as the intensity of his concentration increased the indentations on his face were smoothed and he nearly slept with thought.

A knock at the door sharply woke him from his semi-slumber. “Rosie?” He jumped up.

“Yes, it’s me. May I come in?”

“Yes, of course,” he said reaching for the door wondering if her coming was a coincidence — and if she had the flowers.

A bouquet of flowers was his first sight.

“How did you know it was me?” she said.

“Oh, I just thought you might be happening by. Why the surprise visit?”

“Oh, I just wanted to see you. You haven’t been over for two days now. I thought I might fix supper for you. You haven’t been getting very fat on your own cooking.”

“You’re doing all right on yours.”

“You say things like that and I’ll let you starve.”

“I’m sorry. Who are the flowers for?”

She looked at them as if startled, surprised that she had them. “Oh. For you, I guess. I just picked them on the way here. They pretty up the place. You aren’t the best housekeeper, and flowers always help.”

After Rosie had left Farce let out a gleeful yell. Why, he did he had no idea, but his mind was invigorated with the thought that he had the world in his palm. All he need do is think.

Now Farce knew he had to find the range of his power. Did it just work on Rosie because they were so close? Would it work on anyone or just certain people? He must know. Something inside him told him he had to.

Farce leaned back in his chair and thought of the many ways that he could use his new power. Why he could become the world’s richest man. Farce had never given much thought to riches. They always seemed so far away. But now they were in his grasp and a new temptation was there. But Farce was never a greedy man nor did he intend to be, but he was curious as to the extent of his power, and there must be a way to include riches in the next experiment. Ah, the idea finally hit him! Why not concentrate his thoughts towards everyone and have each person send a penny. That way Farce would not be taking a noticeable amount from anyone. No one would miss a penny, and if enough people sent them in he’d be rich.

This was his decision, a penny for his thoughts. Sounds pretty good he thought. He relaxed and began concentrating: “Attention, whoever and wherever you are. Stop what you are doing and find a penny, put it in an envelope, and send it to Farce Shelbee, Box 66, Spud City, Idaho, USA.” He repeated this over and over in his mind until he slept again.

The next afternoon he found the first one in his box. It was in a plain envelope with no return address and a single penny within. The envelope was postmarked Spud City and the address looked like Rosie’s handwriting. His hopes were dimmed as he wondered if Rosie was the only person he could reach with his thoughts.

He slowly pushed his box shut, looked again through the window at the emptiness, and started walking away, staring at the mint coin.

And then — “Oh Farce. Another letter for you.” It was the postmaster speaking from behind the bars.

“I didn’t see you back there. I thought it was all sorted.”

“It is now. Yours is the last one.” He hefted it. “It feels empty outside of a coin. A penny maybe. It’s funny. I had an itchin’ for a penny this morning. I wanted one something awful. I wonder what I planned to do with it.”

Farce looked rather funny at the postmaster handed him the envelope. He stared at it a moment. His eyes had a wild, yet happy and dreamy look in them. Then Farce turned around, ran out of the post office, dashed off a good throwing distance, and yelled and screamed with victory all the way home.

Farce relaxed in his easy chair staring at the handwriting on the second envelope. It appeared to have been opened with some haste. The handwriting looked like Mrs. Teeters’ down the street. At least he knew now he had the power. Power to control foreign minds with his own will. He would work on it. He would perfect this new gift until he tempered it to his satisfaction — And at this point, Farce was a hard man to satisfy.

The first thing Farce did when he got home was build a couple frames for his first two pennies. He hung them up on the wall side by side. He put a number one on Rosie’s and a number two on Mrs. Teeter’s. He wrote the number two in gold since that was the special one. “The first of millions” he told himself. He spent two hours hanging them straight on the wall of his living room.

That evening Farce again relaxed in his chair. He picked up a comic book. It reminded him of Less. He liked comics. Farce noticed an advertisement on muscle building: “Muscles grow with exercise. Send in for our 90 day plan…” That’s the key thought Farce. The more I exercise my mind the stronger it will get. He leaned back and started to concentrate again: Whoever and wherever you are find a penny and…”

Five minutes later the door burst open without a knock. Farce jumped up, startled. It was his friend, Less.

“Here you are, Farce. A penny for your thoughts!” He smiled holding a penny in his hand.

Farce took it and looked at it a minute. He slugged Less on the shoulder. “Less, you’ve made me the happiest man in the world.” He stomped his foot on the floor and let out a yell.

“Hey! What’s with you?” said Less. “I thought I’d come over here and pull a joke and you start jumping up and down.”

“You think you came here and gave me this penny for a joke?”

“Sure I did. You know I’m always doing stuff like this.”

“Less,” said Farce. Do you know why you really did come here with a penny?”

Less looked alarmed. “No! Don’t tell me.”

“Yes, it’s true. You came here because I made you. I thought you here.”

“Now Farce, settle down.” Less put his arm gently around him. “Just sit down here and you’ll be all right after a little rest.”

Farce threw his arm off. “Listen. You’re the one that started this. Can’t you see that it’s worked!”


Farce grabbed Less and shook him as he spoke. “The experiment, Less. I tried it. It works!”

“Oh, that,” I didn’t think you’d take it seriously. That’s just a thing a guy talks about. You really didn’t think me here did you?”

“You know I’ve never lied to you. I’m telling you, Less, I’ve got more power than any man in the world. I’ve got the world in my hand!”

Less backed away one step, his eyes widened. “Farce, enough is enough. I feel creepy with you talking like that.”

“Less, I thought you’d be the first to accept my power. Can you believe I thought you over here?”

“Well, I could, but I made the decision myself.”

“But, Less, that’s the way it works. Remember. That’s what you said!”

“Let’s see you use this power again.”

“All right. I left a pen at Rosie’s the last time I was there so I’ll have her bring it to me now.”

“This should be interesting.”

Farce leaned back in his chair and had such a genuine look of thought on his face it made Less think twice.

Five minutes later, a knock on the door. “Come in Rosie,” yelled Farce.

Rosie opened the door cautiously. “How’d you know it was me?”

“Just knew.”

She gave him the pen. “Thought you might be needing this.”

“Thanks. I was wondering where it was,” said Farce calmly.

“I’ve got a meeting I have to go to,” said Rosie. “See you later.”

“Bye,” said Farce. And she was gone.

So far Less had stared in silence with great awe. After Rosie shut the door behind her Less stared at it a few minutes, then he woke from his stupor and let out a yell. Farce joined him and they embraced each other. This called for a drink.

Less eyed the rim of his glass. “You realize what you could do with this power?” He looked at Farce.

“I realize. If I could concentrate hard enough I could become emperor of the world.”

“You could also become the world’s richest man. Why you could make people give their money to you.” Less thought a minute as Farce was in a bliss of imagination. “Farce,” he said in a serious tone of voice, shaking with a sudden fright which had come upon him. “Promise me something!”

“Sure, what?”

“Never use this power of yours on me. Promise me that.”

“What’s the matter? Afraid I’ll make you commit suicide?”

“Just promise me, Farce. Here and now.”

“Don’t you trust me? You did a few days ago.”

Less spoke with a terrifying tone of voice. “Promise me Farce.” He grabbed him by the shoulders. “Promise me!!!”

“All right. All right. I won’t use it on you. I never even thought about it. If I ever decide to conquer the world, you’ll be my sidekick.”

Less was much more relaxed. The tension built up in his face was smoothed away. “So what are you going to do with this power now?”

“I’ve been thinking. I’m not really greedy, but I would like to experiment. For the present I’m going to concentrate on people sending me pennies.” He pounded his fist on the table in a manner that startled Less. “I won’t be satisfied until my thoughts reach all over creation! I’m going to get pennies from all over, from India, Russia, China… They may not call them pennies, but they can send their smallest medium of exchange.”

Less thought of what Farce said earlier about stealing but decided not to bring it up. “You think your thoughts can reach Russia?” he said.

“I know they can. If they can reach a mile they can reach anywhere. When the pennies start rolling in you can be my manager, Less.”

“And your sidekick when you rule the world,” joked Less.

Farce didn’t smile. “I’ll give you a percentage. Ten percent. Now leave me alone for a while so I can spend my time in concentration.”

“I’ll be back tomorrow then. Happy thoughts.”

The next day Farce received ten more coins from various people in Spud City and spent the day after in deep thought with the exception of a few interruptions from Rosie.

“But Farce. Why don’t you want to go out tonight? Why?” said Rosie.

“I just don’t. I’ve got a lot to do.”

“What are you doing, playing hermit?”

“Listen. I’m just busy tonight.”

“You’ve never acted like this before. Farce-Farce, is there someone else?”

“No, there’s no one else!”

Rosie looked at him in disbelief and nearly cried.

“There’s no one else,” said Farce. “If I told you what I was doing you wouldn’t believe me.”

“If you really loved me, you would tell me.”

He told her.

“You expect me to believe a stupid story like that?” Who is she?”


She started to cry again. Then Farce got the idea. He concentrated: “Rosie, you are happy. You are happy. You want to go home and watch television…”

After several minutes of concentration her tears were dried. She smiled and said: “On second thought I think I’ll go home and watch television. Have a good time concentrating.” She walked out the door. Farce smiled. He knew how to keep her out of the way now he thought.

Farce sat down to concentrate. His thoughts wandered. Another girl, he thought. That’s not really a bad idea. Rosie’s rather plump and not very sexy, but she is the best I can get. Her personality is interesting and she’s got a good heart. I guess my face doesn’t deserve much better. Ah, he thought, but my mind does. I could have any girl I want. Ha! But that’ll come later. Back to business. He continued concentrating.

The next day when Less came by the first thing he noticed was a large stack of opened envelopes on Farce’s front lawn. He walked up to the door and heard jingling inside. Within the door Less heard someone laughing in a voice he had never heard before and felt that weird feeling again. He knocked. The laughter stopped abruptly.

“Who’s there?” the voice uttered quickly.

“Me. It’s Less.”

The laughter started again. “Oh, Less. Less. Ha-ha. Come on in. I’ve got more. Lots more, ha-ha.”

Less walked in and viewed Farce sitting on a pile of pennies, occasionally throwing a handful in the air. Then he threw a handful at Less to wake him from his stupor.

“Feel it Less. It’s real, real!”

Less bent over and picked up a handful. “Yea,” he said in a whisper.

“Three thousand four hundred and sixty-three pennies altogether, Less. Even got a few from Denver. It won’t be long and my thoughts will reach around the world. A hundred million coins and I’ll be a millionaire.”

Farce and Less gathered the coins and took them to the bank and cashed them in. In return they received $34.61. They lost two pennies in the process. Farce handed Less $3.46. “Here’s your ten percent.”

“I’m game. Ten percent of a million dollars is one hundred thousand. Not bad.”

“And there’s nearly three billion people on earth.”

“Yea,” said Less. “You know, I’ve been trying this the past couple days, and it just hasn’t worked. The power must have something to do with that oversized forehead of yours.”

“Maybe. But it works, and that’s the main thing.”

“Yes, it works,” said Less.

Two weeks passed.

“Back up a little more!” yelled Farce.

“How’s that?” said Less.

“Good. Dump them.”

Less dumped the truckload of envelopes on the vacant lot. He parked the truck and walked over to Farce who was admiring the mountain of envelopes.

“A lot of them from New York,” said Less.

“Even a few from France and England. It won’t be long before we have worldwide coverage.”

“Not long now.”

“About a half million dollars worth wouldn’t you say?” said Farce.

“About.” Less agreed.

“We ought to take them to the bank soon and get some paper money.”

“Yea, but how are we going to open all the envelopes?”

“Good question,” said Farce. He thought. “I’ve got it! I’ll concentrate my thoughts around the world for someone to invent a mass letter opener and to send or bring it here. I’ll think on that tonight.”

Four days later Farce received a contraption sent by freight from Boeing in Seattle. It was the size of a car, complete with directions. It took one man to operate it and could open a thousand envelopes a minute. Farce put Less to work on it.

In two more weeks they received letters from Russia, China and India. “Look, Less. Look. Pennies from all over the world. Look at that mountain of copper.”

“And just think of how large of a mountain of envelopes we’d have if we hadn’t hired a hundred men to haul them away and burn them.”

“Really something isn’t it, Less?”

“Sure is.”

“Less, would you believe me if I told you something?”

“A few weeks ago, no, but today yes.”

“I was watching the President on live television last night, and I concentrated on what he should say, and…”

“So that’s it! That’s why his speech was so messed up. I was wondering about that. Farce. You been getting ideas?”

“Just thinking, Less. Just thinking.”

“Farce, you got pennies from over half the world now. You’ve got enough to be rich for the rest of your life. Are you going to quit now?”

“Quit?” said Farce in a raised voice. He looked upward with a gaze that scared Less. “A God treats all people equally.”

“A God?” Less felt a chill.

“Everyone will send me a penny before I’m through. I’m no respecter of persons.”

“But some parts of the world are poor. A penny is a lot of money to them, and most of the stamps cost a lot more.”

Farce screamed. “They’ll send me pennies or else!” It was the first time in his life Farce has raised his voice in anger to Less. “I’m no respecter of persons. Oh, how long shall I wait on this people. Mine anger is kindled against them.”

“Your anger is kindled?” Come off it, Farce. Let’s put jokes aside.”

Farce turned his head slowly and his eyes seemed to burn through Less. Less looked in them a few seconds, then turned away, looked again, and felt cold and scared. His legs felt as ice and it seemed as if he were surrounded by a dark cloud.

“What’s the matter, Farce? Huh, what’s the matter?”

“Silence ye fiend from the pit!” he pronounced in a voice that wasn’t his.

Less didn’t dare breathe.

“Be ye here early on the morrow for work,” said Farce and walked away.

Less didn’t sleep well that night.

That evening Farce was in his usual state of concentration. Now the sport of the thing seemed to be gone, and he was going at it a bit more seriously. His lips were pressured together. There was a knock at the door.

Farce stood up. “Yes, who’s there?” he stated in a raised and unfriendly voice.

“Rosie. It’s Rosie.”


The door opened. “What’s all this ‘who’s there’ about? You a segregationist now?”

“Close your mouth you harlot! I’ll give you two minutes to say what you want.” He had his arms folded, surrounded with an air of dignity.

“Farce, Farce. Don’t say things like that. Why have you avoided me the past month? And what’s with all these pennies? Everything’s so strange. What’s going on?”

“You have one minute left,” said Farce without emotion.

“Farce, it doesn’t even sound like you. You scare me. Let’s go out again tonight. A good dance or something will do wonders. Snap out of it, Farce. Farce!”

“That’s enough. From now on you are numbered on my left hand.” He pointed to the door. “Be gone.”

She started to embrace him, but he coldly closed his eyes and Rosie suddenly desired to go home and go to bed. As she left, Farce said, “The next time you come in here take off your shoes.”

Rosie cried all the way home.

The sun was shining on more than a thousand men working near the pile of pennies. They all thought they were working for Farce because they wanted to do a good deed. That’s what they thought.

“You’ve got all Spud City out there sorting and counting those pennies,” said Less.

Farce was standing, arms folded, eyes gazing at the men and coins. He didn’t answer, but his eyes grew proud.

One of the men came up to Farce, bowed reverently, and said, “Lord Farce, according to our calculations ninety percent of the people in the world have sent a penny.

“And the other ten percent?”

“They must be stubborn to thy will, O Lord Farce.” The men bowed and went back to work.

“I must get that final ten percent. I must. I cannot be sure of world domination until all yield. I can have no one against me.”

“Farce, you’re kidding aren’t you? Do you really intend to go through with it?”

“I shall not turn back, and call me Lord Farce from now on.”

“Come on, Farce. We’re friends, aren’t we? I don’t want to call you that.”

“It’s Lord Farce.” He stared at him with eyes of ice. Less shook inside.

“It scares me — you having people call you Lord. It really does.”

“If you are to be my friend you must not fear. Is that clear?”

“Yes, Farce.”

“Lord Farce!!!” Farce shouted louder than Less had ever heard anyone shout. The earth seemed to quake.

“Haven’t any authorities tried to question you, Lord Farce?”

“They tried, but the mighty one controlled them. There is but one authority now.”

“And that’s you I assume.”

Farce slugged Less in the mouth as hard as he could. Less rested a few minutes, got up, and leveled his eyes with those of Farce. There was an eternity of depth and darkness in his eyes which Less didn’t like. “Farce, you won’t try and control me. You promised.”

“My promise covered mental control only. I can always have you controlled physically.”

“But, Farce, I mean Lord Farce. We’re friends. Friends.” Less sounded more like he was asking a question than making a statement.

Farce put his hand on Less’ shoulder. “You’re slacking off on your work here. A wise and faithful servant doesn’t have to be dictated to in every trifle.”

“Yes, Lord Farce,” Less said with a slackening tone.

“I’m going into isolation for three days without food and water and concentrate on that final ten percent. See that I’m not disturbed. I expect to start conquering the world in the next ten days. Take care of things out here and look after the sheep.”

“Yes, Lord Force.” He paused a minute. “Farce — I mean Lord Farce.”

Farce gave him his eyes.

“At first you just wanted to use the power. You thought maybe you could do some good. Then you wanted the money. Now you want to rule. You want to control every person on this planet. What happened to the idea of stopping wars and making peace? How about that?”

“When I put all things under my feet there will be peace.”

“Peace, hell! Like Zombies have peace.”

“I say unto you again, see that I’m not disturbed, or I shall find ways to unleash my wrath upon you.” And Farce went into his room for three days and nights.

Farce put more energy in those three days of concentration than he had in all the time that preceded that time. When he came out he made the towns people kill a lamb and roast it for him.

A few days later Farce was again surveying the mountain of coins. He spoke to Less. “Have the head mathematician report to his master.”

“Yes, Lord Farce,” said Less.

A few minutes later a man walked like a puppet up to Farce. Mathematician number one reports that between ninety-five and a hundred percent of the earth’s civilized population has sent pennies. However, not all of them have come in the form of coins. Some have sent pieces of silk, ivory, food and so on. There are probably more on their way.”

“That’s enough,” said Farce. “I’ll conquer immediately.”

“What will you do first?” said Less.

“First I’ll have all television and radio stations throughout the world announce my leadership. I’ll have the press print it. I’m concentrating for photographers right now. Also, I must have a suitable place to live. I shall have those who are able, build me a mansion, or temple. Call it what you may. It will make anything Solomon thought of shrink into insignificance. We have a lot of open space here so I’ll have it built ten miles on a side and as high as any building on earth.”

The dimensions even startled Less. Farce continued. “I figure I’ll have the million most intelligent and able people on earth work on it. Maybe more. I’ll use about fifty percent of the world’s gold supply along with much of the silver and jewels. I’ll give them a year to complete it, or they die.”

“And what will you use all the room for?”

“The most beautiful hundred thousand women on earth will live there. They will be my wives.” Less thought he noticed a smile on Farce’s face. The first in a long time, but not a comforting one.

That day Farce conquered the world, and the building of his mansion commenced. Within a year it was done. He had restrained himself from all women until this time. Now Farce and Less stood looking at the complete structure.”

“Not a bad looking building considering it was built with mortal hands,” said Farce. The passing of a year had left him unchanged, his eyes yet cold and emotionless.

“Yes,” said Less. He looked twenty years older. He was tired and worn out. Farce worked him hard the past year without pity.

“One hundred thousand women are on their way now,” said Farce. “They should be arriving any time.”

Within minutes they started to arrive from all parts of the world; in planes, trains, and cars. Farce had mentally selected these women and now he could see his dream coming true. He had everything he wanted: riches, women, power…

The first woman to arrive came to greet him. Farce made her think that she was happy to be there to serve him. She told Farce, addressing him as Lord, that her heart, soul, and body belonged to him. Then she kissed his feet and went into the building. Hundreds more came and thousands more were on their way. Each told Farce how much she loved him, kissed his feet and went into the building.

The passing year had built much tension and fear in Less. Finally, the tension was beginning to outweigh the fear.

“You vain man!” yelled Less. “Are you going to have all hundred thousand women do that?”

“Why not?”

“You realize that many of these women were happily married and loved someone else?”

“Now they love me.”

“They say they love you, but they don’t. Then don’t even live anymore. They’re just your puppets!”

“I warned you a year ago,” said Farce. “If you speak against me again, you die.”

“But Lord Farce,” said Less, the only man on earth who had the free agency to speak his will. “consider all these women and the millions of lives you’ve ruined! You can’t go on this way forever. You can’t take the place of God. You weren’t a God and you’ll never be. You’re a fool, a damned fool, and if there’s a hell, you’ll go there.”

Farce’s face turned blood red and his eyes glowed with more anger than Less had seen on any ten men.

“You must be killed now.”

“Not if I can help it,” said Less and he jumped on Farce.

Farce was so taken by surprise at someone defying his power that he couldn’t concentrate for help. All he could think was vengeance towards Less and by his thought Less retreated.

Less was standing up now, his eyes gazing into eternity. Farce got up and straightened himself. Then he looked Less in the eyes and screamed: “You’re under my power now! Do you hear?”

Farce yelled louder: “Mine! You’re under my power. The whole earth is mine!”

Less felt as if his whole body were made of cement. He could strongly feel Farce’s controlling thoughts gluing his joints, preventing him from moving.

“I’m going to have my wives kill you, Less. They are going to claw you to death. I am going to tell them that they are wild cats and you’re their enemy.” He laughed loud and hard. When he stopped he had Less tied to a pillar of the building.

“Now you’re tied up I’ll give you your mind back. Any last words, friend?”

Less shook his head and came to himself. He eyed the women whom Farce had lined up to kill him. They looked so lovely and gentle. How could Farce be so cruel?

For the first time in ages Less did not fear to speak what was on his mind. He looked Farce in the eyes. “You’re no God! Gods don’t break promises. You controlled my mind, and you promised you wouldn’t. Farce, you promised. No, you’re not a God, Farce, but you’re sure the devil’s best friend.”

Farce pushed his finger in one of Less’ eyes. He screamed a while and then stopped.

“I just wanted to be the first,” said Farce. “I don’t have my servants do anything I wouldn’t do.” He laughed again. “You’re going to have a good death though. Can you think of a better way to go than being clawed to death by beautiful women?” He laughed in an even more hideous laughter. Less thought he wasn’t going to stop.

Suddenly, the earth began to shake. It shook for a few minutes and leveled Farce to the ground. When he got up he noticed a giant crack in the building. He looked at it and cried and screamed. He threw his arms around a pillar, “No-no-no-no,” he said.

A few minutes later the earth shook again. Farce collected himself and concentrated: “Someone find out what’s causing this and tell me.”

A short time later a man came running up to Farce. “They’re coming. They sky’s full of them!”

Farce grabbed the man and shook him. “What is it man? Speak sense.”

“Two of them have lit. More to come. Lots more.”

Farce shook him harder. He yelled, “What lit?”

“One in Germany and one in Arizona?”

“What, what?”

“Shells from outer space. One about ten miles wide. The other a little less. Inside are millions of small discs. They look as if they’re coins. Both capsules contain millions of small coins. Pennies maybe. There’s thousands, millions more shells on their way.”

“Coins,” thought Farce. “Pennies!? His thoughts weren’t that powerful. They couldn’t be. No-No!”

The earth shook again.

“That’s another one,” said the man. “One will strike here in a few hours, and in a few days so many will hit the earth that it will be destroyed.”

“The earth?” Farce stared into space. Is there no escape, not for anyone?”

“Within days these shells will have covered the earth. There are so many shells coming that the earth will double in size within a few years.”

“No one will escape?” Farce’s eyes were more shallow than before.

“No one,” said the man. “All should be dead by tomorrow.”

Farce was silent. “Death,” he thought.

“Lord Farce,” said the man, “Would it be all right if I spent these last few hours with my wife?”

“What is there to stop you?”

The man pointed to the large building. “She’s in there.”

The reality of the things Farce did in the past year suddenly hit him. He looked at the man and saw that his eyes were begging him for a positive answer. Farce started to weep. He grabbed the man, embraced him a moment, and told him to go and find his wife. Then he released his mental control over the women. He thought of Rosie. He decided he would rather spend these last few hours with her than any million other women. He sent out a mental command for her to come.

He remembered Less. “Oh, my dear friend. What have I done?” He ran to him as hard as he could. He untied him, threw his arms around him, and wept.

“Less, Less, my good friend, please forgive me, forgive me.

Less moved back and stared at Farce with his one remaining eye. Before him was a man who went from being a God in his own mind to a sniveling coward. As Less felt the extreme pain in his eye from the wound, he knew there was one more thing he had to do.

With all his strength, he punched Farce in his eye.

Farce fell to the ground and Less stood over him. “Hurts doesn’t it?” he said.

Farce forgot about his situation for a moment and rose up in anger, “I could still have you clawed to death.”

“Go ahead! It wouldn’t hurt any worse than you betraying me.”

Farce composed himself and spoke with humility. “My friend, I’m so sorry I betrayed you and everyone and everything that is important to me. Absolute power has absolutely corrupted me. There’s something I have to tell you. My thoughts were much more powerful than even I realized and we are being bombarded by pennies from outer space — trillions of them. Within two days all life on earth will be destroyed. We’ve both going to die, Less.”

“So now you’re going to die you want to make amends?”

“I don’t deserve it, but the answer is yes,” said Farce.

“I’ll think about it,” he replied. “You say we have about two days?”

“About two days.”

I don’t feel very forgiving right now but I’ll see what I can do before the two days are up. What do we do now?”

“Rosie is coming and I’ll see if she will spend her last hours with me of her own free will.”

“Good luck,” said Less with some sarcasm.

Both men looked in the distance for a few minutes as if they were watching for Rosie.

“What if Rosie tells you she hates your guts?” said Less.

“She won’t,” he replied.

“She won’t or can’t?”

His friend’s words cut him to the core. Without even thinking about it he was still controlling her mind. Should he release her and give her freedom to hate him or should he die in her arms with her mind under his control? Maybe she would forgive him. Maybe he should release his control…

Farce struggled with his decision but was overcome with such fear of rejection that he couldn’t let go. He fell down at Less’ feet and wept.

Posted Sept 24,2007, First written 1962

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The Gambling Gods

The Gambling Gods

By J. J. Dewey

Zork was an angry young god. He had just lost his last planet in an intergalactic poker game.

Poor Zork. Poor, poor, Zork. He had no kingdom — and what was a god without a kingdom? A god has to have a kingdom. A god has to be worshipped. A god has to rule and reign.

He had nothing. He was now higher than the mortals only by his possession of eternal life, but he was the lowest of the gods. Never in the eternities had a god blundered so. “Never, never, never,” he told himself.

He should have known. The older gods were wiser, more knowledgeable, intelligent. They could predict circumstances that he couldn’t. His father had warned him against gaming. For the past six trillion planetary revolutions of Zork’s youth he had been warned. His father’s words echoed over and over in his mind: “I don’t know how individuals like Elu, Keilie, and Zee ever got to be gods. It’s getting so a good god can’t have any peace. One is always being tempted to gamble with his kingdom, which brings on the possibility of the supreme punishment. All gods were at one time good, but eternity can change things. Remember Zork. There are bad gods. They’ll take you for every planet, moon and star you have.”

Zork recalled how it all happened. He was riding his favorite comet past the Ring Nebula in Lyra when some mysterious power surpassing his own drew him off course. He was drawn right into the Royal Casino of the Gods within the nebula.

Hundreds of galactic revolutions ago the gods of the surrounding universe assembled here for peace and rest, that is when all was well with their created populous. Each God who desired membership in the resort donated a portion of his star systems for the celestial haven and had the privilege of spending his own seventh day there, made sacred by himself.

Eternities ago the Royal Palace of the Gods (as it was called then) was the perfect place for a good god to get away from it all. Here he could quit worrying about how the hell all of his mortals were going to make it to heaven. Many gods feared they would have to enjoy heaven alone so they often used the Royal Palace as an escape mechanism.

Within the Royal Palace was beauty surpassing any mortal’s comprehension. The structures within the nebula were made of the white matter of the stars themselves and the refinement, magnificence, and elegance were in a dimension discernable only to a god. A mortal could not see the beauty, and if he could it would be of no worth for he would have no understanding.

It used to be that the gods enjoyed the companionship of one another in the palace and drank drink and ate celestial food prepared by their angels. They talked over the latest affairs of the state and their real estate problems. Here the gods were able to discuss with those of their own intellect which provided the social balance even a good god needs. They shuddered at the thought of an insane god. The servants of such a being may as well go to hell. The Royal Palace made for a well-rounded god, they thought.

For billions of mortal life spans things went pretty darned good. The weak god gained strength from the strong gods, the young gained knowledge from the old, and the bashful were greeted and shown around by the others. Thus, all mortals in the universe were provided with a well-rounded god and everyone was happy.

Then Lord Elu had to spoil the whole thing. Being the forgetful god he was, he just plum forgot about some of his planets, and by the time he came around to see how the people on it were doing, a thing called gambling seemed to have spread around. The mortals enjoyed it enormously. Even Lord Elu thought it looked fun so he decided he’d liven the Royal Palace up a bit for the first time in eternities and show everyone how it worked.

He started with bingo.

It’s such a mild game, he told the other gods. And after all we need some kind of new recreation around here once in an eternity. Remember. The purpose of this place is to provide for a well-rounded god.

His motion was carried with minor resentment.

Many of the gods found great pleasure in this new sport. Just what they needed, they thought.

But they soon grew bored of playing the same game over and over and wanted something new.

Lord Elu introduced the slot machine and the majority of the gods rejected it and replied, “It sounds like something an adversary would inject in the mind of a mortal. We’ll have no part of it. We must set an example for those mortals over whom we preside.”

But many of the gods wanted the game, and it was only a short time before gaming instruments were secretly established. It worked like a chain reaction. Within a few mortal life spans every game the gods found their mortals had created was installed in the Ring Nebula in Lyra.

The more respectable gods, of course, resented this but could do nothing about it since any manner of contention was forbidden among them. They shivered at the thought of the supreme punishment.

Soon the loud laughter, the merry making, the gambling among their fellow gods caused the good gods much irritation. The thought of a god falling for the temptations of a mortal was unheard of in the previous eternities and the majority of the gods, being pretty good fellows, moved out to the planetary nebula in Camelopardos in order to maintain their good standing.

After that, the gambling gods had the Ring Nebula in Lyra all to themselves and had what a mortal would describe as a heck of a good residence.

By and by the gambling gods decided to change the name of the place. Let’s not continue calling this haven a mere palace. It’s a casino. A royal casino.

Thus it was named: The Royal Casino of the Gods, Inc. Esq.

From that eternity of the gambling, gods gambled like mortals and lived like triumphant devils. Every so often a god would lose his entire kingdom and would get kicked out wearing only a ring of stardust and by the time Zork happened to be happening by, only an elite group was left. Some of them had kingdoms numbering over a dozen galaxies while the outcasts had none. The losers had to start again from scratch and build a new kingdom from the sub-atomic particles drifting aimlessly between the galaxies. They would have to go through that process of building up again. First create hydrogen atoms, fuse them to helium, and…

As a rule, each god was a ruler over one galaxy and his glory was determined by its size and the goodness of the mortals therein. Everyone was happy. But now Elu and the rest had to spoil the whole thing by winning from their fellow gods. Elu considered himself champion of the universe, for he had twenty-six galaxies, six nebula, three star clusters, and oodles of stray stars and hydrogen clouds. Because of his gross negligence, all of his mortals had become stupendously wild, and the disintegration of a precious planet was a frequent occurrence if the mortals were not set in order by a higher power.

It was a frequent occurrence on Elu’s worlds.

Yes, Lord Elu had more kingdoms than he knew what to do with, but was he satisfied?


Was his thirst for power never quenched?


Did he want more?

Yes, of course.

Thus Lord Elu, who considered himself the head of the bunch, placed guards for the sole purpose of sighting young tenderfeet whom they figured could be tempted into a friendly mortal game of something that would involve some real estate. These young gods were always looking for an easy star cluster.

Thus Zork was spotted and drawn into the entrance of the casino. Elu greeted him personally, nice and friendly-like.

“Welcome, welcome, welcome,” said Elu in as hearty of tone as he could muster in the vacuum of space.

“You’ve come to the right spot m’boy. We wish to welcome you and escort you around our casino. The Royal Casino of the Gods. You can’t get classier than this, boy. You just can’t… Come one in and I’ll show you around.”

“Yes, I’ve heard of this place. My father…”

“Pretty nice, eh boy?” Elu butted in as the pearly gates were opened.

“It is. It really is,” gasped Zork. His mouth was opened at a relaxed width.

“It’s a roof over our heads. Keeps the meteors away,” said Elu.

Zork stared. It was beautiful. Really.

“What’s your name, boy?” said Elu.

“Zork,” Zork barfed up on the third try.

“Well, Zork, just don’t stand there suspended. Follow me. It’s not every day a young one like you gets in here. We don’t check I.D.’s if the customer looks really respectable.

Zork couldn’t resist. There was no harm in browsing. He parked his comet and entered.

“Pretty nice machinery we got here, eh Zork?” said Elu with an opened hand in the direction of the celestial slot machines.

“I guess,” said Zork. “What are they?”

“It’s a machine to fortune,” Elu said as if he had gained his entire wealth through it. “All you do is put in a star coin (each god as coins which are individual deeds to his planets, stars, galaxies, nebula, etc.) and pull the lever, and if the windows show any of those emblems on the side you get back more than you put in. Go ahead and try ‘er out.”

“I don’t …”

“Go ahead,” said Elu with friendly persuasion.

“What’s one star compared to my millions,” thought Zork and gave the machine a try.

The windows showed a planet, star and a moon. Three star coins rolled out.

“Hey! That’s pretty neat. Pretty darn neat,” said Zork. “Maybe I’ll try again. Do you mind?”

“Go right ahead,” said Elu, sounding as much as possible like he didn’t mind.

Zork continued for awhile and was coming out about even.

“Just exactly whereabouts is your kingdom located?” said Elu with business curiosity.

“The third region in the forty-seventh sector, code 100110101111-A,” said Zork, watching the windows with anticipation which made Elu feel good inside.

“I’ve been there before,” said Elu with lust in his eyes. “You’ve got a nice little galaxy going for you there. Rich in hydrogen clouds, too.”

“It’s a living,” said Zork automatically.

“Say,” said Elu in a different, more enthusiastic tone, “how’d you like to join us in a little game we’re brewing up. Mortals most universally call it poker. No matter what planet one goes to, it’s called poker. Never figured out why.”

“Yes, that’s what most of my mortals call it. That is odd. The game looks fine and all that, but I don’t know. I don’t want to risk much.”

“Bet with hydrogen atoms if you like. We just play for our enjoyment. A god needs some recreation.”

“The game does look fun,” said Zork. “Ok. Maybe I’ll risk a few hydrogen atoms.”

“That’s the sport,” said Elu. “Come on in here, and I’ll introduce you to the boys.”

They entered a majestic room within which were a number of tough-looking gods. They were seated around a table.

“Fellow gods,” said Elu. “I wish to introduce you to Zork. The aspiring young god from the forty-seventh sector. Zork meet Chi, Zee, Keilie, Sardon, and Mu-Si.”

They all exchanged nods. Instant friendship.

“Say,” said Chi, “Isn’t that your pop who owns Andromeda?”

“Why yes. Yes it is,” said Zork.

“Mighty fine pop you got there boy. Yep, mighty fine. And I might say he’s got he’s got a great kingdom going for himself. Its magnificence surpasses the Milky Way in size, but not glory. That is a terrific pile of stars.”

“The Milky Way,” said Keilie. “What a kingdom! Wow!” He slapped his fist into his hand.

“You can give up on that one,” said Elu. “Well, Zork, shall we commence our recreation?”

Zork sat hesitantly. He still didn’t know whether to trust them. In fact, he knew from the words of his father he shouldn’t. But what was the harm? He wouldn’t risk more than a few atoms.

“Wow,” Keilie continued, “I say that Jehovah really has it made with that Milky Way under his belt. You know when we own that galactic coin so that we’ll really be running smooth.”

Elu gave Keilie an ice cold stare. “What do you mean ‘when’?” he said not quietly. “Do you think Jehovah will just come give you the deed to his eternal work? Do you?”

“Ohhh,” said Keilie. “I meant ‘if,’ he said humbly. “If we owned the Milky Way we would have it made.”

“Say what you mean from now on,” said Elu. “No wonder I always wipe you out in this game.”

“You what…?” said Keilie sounding like a western gunfighter.

“Simmer down,” said Elu. “Remember the supreme rule: No contention.”

“Yea, sure,” said Keilie looking at Zork, clearing his throat.

“Shall we play?” said Elu.

“Let’s” said Keilie.

“We open with a hydrogen atom,” said Elu.

“A what?” said Sardon in a gasp.

“A hydrogen atom,” said Elu gnashing his teeth, pronouncing the words in a tone of god’s laughter. “We play for sport. Remember?”

Sardon had a blank look on his face.

“Yea. Remember?” said Mu-Si.

“Oh. Yea. Sure,” said Sardon. “I remember. Sport.”

“I presume you know how to play after having watched your mortals,” said Elu to Zork.

“Yes, I believe I’ve watched them enough to recollect,” said Zork, a little uneasy. He had watched mortal card sharks on TV.

“Good god,” said Elu as he dealt the cards and commence a game of the gods.

Zork was quite enjoying himself. He was coming out about even and didn’t have to worry about not doing so.

Elu had as pleasurable and content of a look on his face as he could force.

The others were looking a little bored, especially Keilie. He was sitting on the edge of his chair, nerves showing, seemingly perturbed, biting his immortal thumbnail to no avail. It was immortal, and he couldn’t chew it off.

Finally, “Let’s get this show on the road,” said Keilie. “If the kid doesn’t want to go any higher than hydrogen atoms — boot him out. If we don’t get some adventure in this game I’m outta here”

The other gods nodded and mumbled among themselves to show they were of the same opinion.

“I’m not a kid,” said Zork. “I’ve got a kingdom that many older gods would trade theirs for.”

“Then maybe you’ll play poker like a mature god,” said Keilie.

“I’m sure he will,” said Elu in a voice of confidence. “Won’t you Zork?”

“Well, maybe we can play for double or nothing,” said Zork.

Keilie started to protest, then he thought: Double or nothing. Two, four, eight, sixteen … two to the one hundred and thirtieth power. “Yea,” he said. “Yea. Now you’re thinking. We open with two hydrogen atoms in this game, four the next, and so on.”

“No,” said Zork. “I just meant…”

“I gotta admit it kid. You’re smart. Smart. OK everybody, we play by the kid’s rules. A couple dozen games, and we’ll be in the big time. Then we’ll go into stars.”

Zork didn’t like being called the kid, and he frowned at Keilie.

Keilie just smiled back and said, “Yep, I gotta admit it kid. You’re on it tonight.”

“What makes you think it’s night?” said Chi.

“Mortals always play poker at night,” said Keilie.

“It’s an eternal day around here. Besides, we aren’t mortals,” stated Chi.

“Quiet!” said Elu, and he dealt the cards.

They continued playing.

Cards were cut and dealt and cut and dealt. They played and they played and enjoyed themselves tremendously. Except for Zork. He was a bit nervous. Even so, each seemed to be winning an equal amount of the time. Zork won the thirtieth game.

“Well, Zork,” said Keilie, “it looks as if you just won yourself 1,083,572,324 hydrogen atoms in one whack.”

“A pretty striking number,” said Elu like a father.

“Yea,” said Zork, “but it’s still less than one trillionth of a gram.”

“Been studying math have you?” said Keilie. “You needn’t worry then. You’ve got trillions of tons of that stuff.”

They played forty more games, and they opened in grams.

In ten more they reached into the pounds. Eleven more and they were in tons. Fifty more and they played in trillions of tons, and Zork was doing pretty good.

“I don’t know about this,” said Zork. “It’s higher than I wanted to go. I think I’ll quit while I’m ahead.”

“You can’t quit now,” said Elu. “You’ve got to give us a chance to catch up. It’s part of the game.”

“Maybe,” said Zork, “but I don’t want to lose my hydrogen clouds, or my kingdom.”

“We’ll see you fellows,” Zork continued, “and don’t try and stop me. Remember the supreme rule on contention.”

Elu wanted to grab Zork and tear him apart, but the thought of the punishment for breaking the supreme rule nearly made him wither with fear and trembling.

Then good old Keilie came through: “No more kids!” he shouted banging his fist on the table. “Nothing makes me want to throw my throne in a vacuum more than a gutless mama’s boy spoiling my fun. No more bottle sucking kids. From now on we check I.D.’s. From now on we don’t allow anyone in unless they’ll agree to play for a t least a planetary revolution.”

“Quit calling me a kid,” said Zork. The only thing preventing him from slugging Keilie in the mouth was fear of the supreme punishment.

“Let’s finish our game without the kid,” said Keilie ignoring Zork. “Maybe we can enjoy ourselves now.”

“I’m not a kid,” Zork nearly screamed.

“He who playeth like a youth, is a kid in my book,” said Keilie.

Zork was irritated. He was as mature as the rest, and he knew it. He sat back in the game, and things really got underway. In a second of a god’s time unexpected words were uttered from Zork.

“What’s the matter, Keilie? You afraid to bet half of your kingdom? Huh? What’s the matter? No guts?”

“Just a minute kid. Just a minute.” Keilie snapped for a servant to bring him a box from drawer SQY.

The servant returned with a cigar box from which Keilie took one cigar and lit it in a very mortal fashion.

“You’re out of your head,” said Mu-Si. “That’s a mortal habit. It’s unhealthy.”

“We’re gods,” said Keilie in a raised voice of authority. “Nothing’s unhealthy for us. We’re playing a mortal game, and I’ll smoke a mortal cigar.”

“Mortals smoke because they’re nervous,” said Zork. “You’re delaying things, Keilie. You haven’t got enough guts to bet like a mature god.”

“Listen kid.”

“You listen,” said Zork, getting braver, “I’m taking you on for half of your kingdom.”

“Are you with us?” said Elu.

“I’m thinking,” said Keilie. “You haven’t got so much at stake. With your good luck you’ve won all kinds of kingdoms, but I’m down to my last.”

“You wanted the kid to bet,” said Elu.

“OK, OK,” said Keilie, a might perturbed. “Half of my kingdom.! I’m in.”

“I’m folding,” said Chi.

“Me too,” said Sardon, Zee, and Mu-Si.

“OK kid, show your cards,” said Keilie, biting the hell out of his cigar.

Zork showed four galactic queens.

Keilie’s cigar dropped limply out of his mouth, and unexpectedly, he slammed four island universe kings on the table and grabbed for the star cluster coins.

Keilie was taking so much pleasure in scooping up the coins that it made Zork feel bad.

But he should have known. The usual happened.

“Not so fast there,” said Elu as he laid down a royal flush in moons.

“Ho hum,” said Elu. “Another game, another kingdom.” He lazily palmed the winnings toward him.

“Damn!” said Keilie, squeezing his cigar into burnt ashes under the pressure of his immortal hand.

“Now, now, now,” said Elu. “We mustn’t get angry. Remember the supreme rule.”

“Yea … sure,” said Keilie.

“Darn,” said Zork to Elu. “Now you’ve got half of my kingdom.”

“So he has, kid. So he has,” said Keilie. “Ha! Ha! Ha! What are you going to tell your pop now kid? Huh? What are you going to tell him?” He laughed about a half minute longer before he stopped. Then he added seriously, “Don’t feel bad kid. He’s won a lot more than that from me. A lot more.”

“Don’t worry boys,” said Elu taking one of Keilie’s cigars and lighting it with friction from rubbing his index thumb and finger together. “There’s plenty of opportunity to get it back.”

“Not today,” said Keilie. “No. Not with my luck. Some other time maybe but not now.”

“You’re quitting?” said Elu astonished. “I never thought the time would come.”

“I never thought my kingdom would get so low. I’ve got to start using it sparingly.”

“Well, we’ll see you, sport,” said Elu, articulating sport like a dirty word.

“I’m not leaving. Just going to hang around.”

“Go ahead,” said Elu, “but the rest of us and Zork are going to have a little fun — eh Zork?”

“But I can’t lose the rest of my kingdom,” said Zork.

“And you can’t let your pop know what you have lost either,” said Elu.


Maybe you can win back more than you lost,” said Elu.

“Yea,” Keilie butted in “maybe you can. That’s it. Go ahead. Clean the house out.”

Zork couldn’t tell whether Keilie’s tone was for or against him. “I…” Zork couldn’t think of anything to say.

“Relax and make yourself comfortable,” said Elu. And the rest of the gambling gods prepared to play.

“This time I’m not going to bet such a large gob at once,” said Zork.

“That’s the stuff kid,” said Keilie. “I’d kinda hate to see you lose all your glory in one whack. Do it a little at time so you can enjoy going broke.”

“Shut up,” said Elu as politely as he could with clenched teeth.

“Are you going to shut me up?” said Keilie.

“I might. I just might,” said Elu.

“Just try it,” said Keilie.

Elu pointed at Keilie with his cigar, smoke coming from his mouth as he spoke. “If it wasn’t for the supreme punishment, I’d cram a white dwarf star down your throat.”

“You’re a big man with words,” said Keilie. “Punishment or no punishment — you’d still be chicken.”

Elu’s cigar smoldered in his hand. He stared at Keilie in cold silence for about thirty seconds, then dealt the cards.

“Man you sure are mad, aren’t you?” said Keilie to Elu with lots of voice variety.

Elu closed his eyes tightly and mumbled something to himself, then audibly he said, “We open with a star.”

The game proceeded as Keilie expected. Chi, Zee, Sardon, and Mu-Si won and lost just enough to keep them happy. Zork got a few good hands, but did rotten bluffing. He lost bit by bit, each time close enough to give him hope of winning the next game, and the next, and the next… Each time he lost more until he knew he had to keep playing at all cost — as long as there was hope of winning.

Time passed.

“Gee, that’s too bad, you’ve lost everything,” said Elu in his fatherly tone which was becoming annoying to Zork. “Have you got anything at all left?”

Zork held a planetary coin in his palm. He was just about ready to cry.

“Too bad kid. It really is,” said Keilie. “Elu’s a big man, you know. I’ll bet he’ll let you gamble away your last coin if you want.”

Elu gave Keilie another cold stare, then kindly said to Zork, “It is your only chance for salvation. We could play for it if you like.”

Zork didn’t say anything. He just motioned for Elu to deal.

For one time no one really wanted Zork to lose, and when Zork got his hand he felt as if the whole universe was against him. A pair of black craters was all he had. He slapped them on the table and walked silently away.

“Zork,” said Elu, “We haven’t shown our cards yet.”

Zork didn’t seem to hear. He started walking out the pearly gates toward his single possession — the comet.

Elu looked at Zork’s hand spread on the table and he understood.

“Bye kid,” said Keilie. “In a way I kind of liked you.”

Elu went to the door to the heavens and issued his final statement, “That’s the way she goes sometimes, boy. Come back after you build up another kingdom. We’ll accept you with open arms — sucker.”

Elu didn’t know whether Zork heard him or not. Zork was off on a comet, and he was gone.

The defeated young god drifted through space a long, long time doing nothing but feeling sorry for himself. After he did enough of that he decided he was just plumb foolish for not taking his father’s advice. Yep, Zork was an angry young god.

After Zork pouted and cursed himself sufficiently, he decided he needed advice. He just couldn’t go back to his dad and bluntly tell him that he blew his whole kingdom in a poker game. He would go see his god — godfather — that’s what. He would pay Jehovah a visit. Jehovah was just about the best god in the universe to get advice from, besides, he was a good friend of his dad. Often, when Zork was younger, he would visit Jehovah, for he would tell him some of the darndest things his mortals would come up with. Yes, the door was always opened for Zork in Jehovah’s kingdom, and now he was glad he had a friend.

“Well, hello there Zork. Hello there boy,” said Jehovah, greeting him with opened arms. “It’s been a long time. It’s surely good to see you again.”

“It’s good to see you too,” said Zork, just above a whisper.

“Well, Zork, you look a bit more mature, a bit older. Your eyes have a shade of experience in them. How is the young god and his thriving kingdom anyway?”

“That’s what I wanted to see you about.”

“Something’s troubling you, isn’t it Zork?” said Jehovah in fatherly friendship. “Your kingdom?”

“I no longer have a kingdom,” said Zork.

Jehovah said nothing. His understanding eyes told Zork to continue.

“I suppose you’ve heard of the Royal Casino of the Gods,” said Zork.

“No! No, No, No. You lost your kingdom to Elu.”

Zork bowed his head shamefully.

“Oh,” said Jehovah, “Why do the gods have to fall for weaknesses of mortals? Gambling only tempts the supreme punishment. How can Lord Elu have any joy from a kingdom he did not earn?”

“I was a fool,” said Zork. “I don’t deserve to be a god.”

“You’re much more worthy than those in the Ring Nebula,” said Jehovah. “What are your plans now? You could start all over again from scratch, or maybe I could help you with a job.”

“I don’t know,” said Zork. I feel pretty worthless right now. It may be wrong, but I would like revenge — or a least get my kingdom back.”

“And if you can’t what will you do?”

“Build a new one I guess. Say! I heard you built the main part of yours in just six days.”

“That’s six days according to my reckoning of time. And that’s nearly an eternity. Kept me busy all the while, too.”

“I can’t let my father find out I lost my kingdom,” said Zork, “and creating a new one is my only chance. That is unless I had some capital. Then I could win back my old one.”

“And you want a loan?” asked Jehovah.

“I don’t know,” said Zork, a bit frustrated. “I guess not. I would probably lose it and could never pay it back.”

“That’s true,” said Jehovah, but on the other hand that’s the only way to redeem your kingdom without breaking any moral code. I’ll tell you what — I can give you a chance to win it back.”

“But I don’t want to risk any of your kingdom. My conscience won’t let me.”

“You won’t be,” said Jehovah and he handed Zork the galactic coin to the Milky Way.

Zork trembled at the thought of the value he held in his hands. “Why this is the galactic coin to all your kingdom. I wouldn’t trust myself a light second with it.”

“To tell the truth I wouldn’t either if it weren’t worthless,” said Jehovah. You see, Zork, the Universal Center has a new thing going. For a small light year payment they will keep the deed to all of one’s possessions. This does away with the burden of keeping track of the coins. All of mine are now useless. I was thinking of keeping them for keepsakes, but now they may be put to a much better use.”

And the gambling gods don’t know they are useless?”

“That’s right, Zork.”

“Would it be right to gamble under that false pretense?”

“If you don’t win back more than is rightfully yours,” said Jehovah. “You spent an eternity creating your kingdom and you have a right to own it. For that matter, you should have sought nothing which requires no effort. I get much more satisfaction and reward from my kingdom than Elu does from all of his put together. That’s what really counts.”

“Yes…, I guess you’re right. I wouldn’t have known what to do with more kingdoms if I had them. One just plays to be playing I guess.”

“You will take the coins and do your best?”

“Yes. Yes, I will,” said Zork. “I surely will. And I’ll try and not lose your galactic coin. I know it means a lot to you.”

Jehovah put his right hand firmly on Zork’s shoulder and stared at him with all sincerity. “Come back later and tell me all about it. I’d like to just have a good talk with you. It’s been a long time.”

“It has. It’s been too long, Jehovah. I’ll be back soon.” Zork jumped on his comet and gave thanks as he sped away in happy determination.

“What’re doing back here?” said Elu, greeting Zork with a pressured frown on his lips.

“I’ve come to play some more,” said Zork in questionable modesty.

“With what? Punk,” said Elu. His mouth look like an ugly wrinkle. He wasn’t so friendly this time, Zork thought.

“I’ve got plenty to play with,” said Zork.

“You couldn’t have built a new kingdom in this short time,” stated Elu in utter disbelief.

“No, but I obtained one,” said Zork and held out the galactic coin.

Elu gasped. He gasped twice, three times.

“Zork. Zork m’boy,” Elu again said in his fatherly fashion. “Don’t stand there suspended. Come be with us. All our friendship and love is waiting for you.”

“Boys,” Elu said to the other gods as he and Zork walked into the game room. “Our friend Zork’s come to be with us. Isn’t that nice?”

The other gods mumbled to themselves, and Zork couldn’t decide whether they thought it was nice or not.

“Show them what you have,” said Elu. Zork didn’t like his elbow.

In all meekness Zork revealed the galactic coin to the Milky Way.

The gods looked pale and funny for awhile. Keilie was finally able to barf up a sentence, “Kid. Kid, what’d you do? You know stealing’s against the eternal law.”

“He couldn’t have stolen it,” said Mu-Si. He would have the eternal punishment wrought upon him. We can see he doesn’t.”

“How’d you get it kid?” said Keilie.

“Details, details,” said Elu. “He’s got it hasn’t he? He’s unchanged isn’t he? Sure he is. He must have obtained it fair and square. Now let’s have a little game.”

The other gods seemed to agree with Elu’s haste and prepared to play.

Elu pulled out the finest chair for Zork and seated him as gentle as a new bride.

Zork gave thanks and no one could tell whether he meant it or not.

“Is everybody ready?” said Elu.

“No, not quite,” said Keilie with an expressed look of decision. “I’ll be right back.”

“Well, are you going to play, or aren’t you?” said Elu.

“I suppose.”

“You suppose?” said Elu in disdain suspicion.

“I think I’ll go check my computer. You know I’m getting down to my last few stars; I’ve got to be careful.”

Elu laughed in belittlement. “As usual it won’t do you any good. You’ll lose. You’ll lose like you always have. Then your mortals will have a good god.”

“I’ll beat you,” said Keilie. “The rule of Elu is hell, and I won’t have my mortals living in hell. That is until they deserve it.”

Elu laughed in an unfunny and wicked way.

Zork watched Keilie walk away, and now he was beginning to respect him somewhat, and also feel some pity.

“Ahem. Well, let’s start, shall we?” said Elu. “Keilie wouldn’t feel right if he didn’t start in the middle of things. Shall we open with stars, Zork?”

“I guess so,” said Zork. He was rather nervous.

“Good. Good,” said Elu and he dealt the cards.

Zork received a rotten hand so he thought he’d try bluffing. He was the only player to keep his original hand. Elu took one card, apparently without his usual confidence.

Zork raised a thousand stars!

Chi, Zee, Mu-Si, and Sardon folded.

Elu stared at Zork from the opposite side of the table, trying to hold his surprise. “That’s the spirit, boy. That’s the spirit,” he said with lowering enthusiasm. Then he stared into Zork’s eyes intently and infernally to the extent that Zork felt a slight burning in the backside of his head. With unexpected eagerness he saw Zork and raised.

Zork saw and raised with an apparent lack of confidence he cursed himself for showing.

Elu saw and raised.

One more time, thought Zork. He saw and raised.

Elu saw and raised.

Zork gulped (audibly).

Elu smiled.

Zork folded.

Elu laughed.

Zork gnashed his teeth.

“What’d you have?” said Mu-Si to Elu.

“You’ll never know. Never.” Elu let out a “Ha!”

“A five of craters high,” said Keilie looking over Elu’s shoulder. You hear that kid? A measly five of craters.”

Zork looked at his six of moons and cursed himself and this time gnashed his teeth beyond a mortal breaking point. (Fortunately, a gods teeth are also immortal and indestructible.)

“Too bad, kid,” said Keilie. “You just gotta read more poker books.”

“What’d your computer say?” said Elu, consciously holding his mouth in a frown.

“It said I’d win if I play my cards right. … A little humor there.” Keilie nudged Elu and the frown was no longer a conscious endeavor.

“You won’t,” said Elu slowly and spitefully.

“Let me sit in and we’ll see,” said Keilie with the confidence of a kingdom.

“Sit in,” said Elu in a raising tone which sounded as if he meant go away.

“If you don’t want me I’ll leave,” said Keilie in a controlled pout.

“Sit in,” said Elu, this time demanding.

Keilie sat, someone dealt, stars were raised, and Zork lost. Elu was out-bluffed! Keilie was the victor. A thousand stars!

“Nothing like a good easy victory from amateurs,” said Keilie.

Zork was beginning to look like a child who had just lost his candy to a bully. However, Elu’s loss saved the tears.

“I guess the law of averages is bound to let you win once in awhile,” said Elu in a disturbed tone of voice. “But as long as it remains a law, I’ll come out ahead in the long run. The smart ones always do.”

“Yea. Sure,” said Keilie. “Deal.”

Keilie won again. And again!

“Something’s wrong,” said Elu. “You go away — then come back and take the pile. If you’re breaking one of the rules — remember the supreme punishment.”

“I’m still the same old Keilie. That should be proof.”

“Maybe you’re too ignorant to realize you’re cheating,” said Elu. “Sardon, run a check on these cards, and bring me back a new deck.”

Sardon found them a new deck and left for the lab.

“Now maybe we can have an honest game,” said Elu.

“Yea, I’d kinda…” started Zork, but no one was listening.

“Just deal the cards,” said Keilie. “That is unless you want to cut out.”

“You’ll be the one cutt’n out, bare in hydrogen clouds,” said Elu.

“Yea, Sure,” said Keilie mockingly.

Elu dealt with his lips pressed to a frown. Keilie took four cards and then folded, leaving his single star coin for the ante.

And so it was. Keilie seemed to fold at the right time and raise at the right time.

A planetary revolution passed. Keilie won all the Milky Way from Zork and two kingdoms from Elu. Zork was out of the game now. His eyes looked like hot jelly.

“You must be cheating,” said Elu to Keilie. “You must, you must.”

“Now, now, now,” said Keilie. “The stars have just changed in my favor.”

“Hell!” said Elu.

Keilie’s mouth looked like a straight line. Still somehow it looked like a smirky smile to Elu.

“I can’t understand it,” said Elu. “You must have found a means of cheating not included in the rulebook.”

“Sure,” said Keilie. “That’s what they all say. You want to quit while you can?”

“If I were a mortal I’d wring your neck,” said Elu. “Better still — if you were a mortal I’d send fire out of heaven to burn the hell out of you.”

“Words, words. Always words. If we were both mortals, you’d be hiding in alleys to keep out of my way.”

“Shut up and deal.”

Keilie dealt. Elu had an ace of stars high and threw away four. His four new cards made for a royal flush in stars! “Oh boy, Oh boy,” thought Elu.

Keilie folded.

“What the…,” said Elu. “It’s almost as if…”

Sardon walked in. “Sure an interesting lab,” he said. “There’s all kinds of stuff down there. Somebody just got done tinkering…”

“The cards?” butted in Keilie. “What’d you find?”

“On the level. You must be winning fair and square.

“Maybe,” said Elu in a tone that nearly made Keilie shake. “We’ll play another game and see.”

The cards were dealt, thrown away, taken up, and Elu had a pair of deuces. “Damn,” he thought. “Maybe I’ll try bluffing.”

Elu raised a million stars.

Keilie saw and raised. He smiled.

Elu saw and raised without his usual confidence.

Keilie saw, and raised a kingdom.

Elu looked mad as hell and folded.

“It’s too bad,” said Keilie, eyeing the coins as he palmed them toward him. “Too too bad.”

Elu stared at Keilie, his eyes ice cubes, and thought in an evil of concentration, “Keilie — you’re a dirty lowdown rotten cheat.”

Keilie glanced up sharply in alarm.

Elu smiled and thought, “It’s just as if you read my thoughts. You don’t’ do that now do you Keilie?”

Keilie looked scared as hell.

“What’s that on your ear?” said Elu to Keilie.

Keilie got up and started backing away.

“I said what’s that on your ear?”

Keilie was mum. He shook his head and continued backing away.

“You were tinkering in the lab. What did you make?” said Elu.

Keilie put out his hands in a motion to stop Elu, but he didn’t. He put forth no fight after Elu jumped on him.

Something was screamed about the supreme punishment.

Elu struggled with Keilie until he stole the object from his ear. Elu put it to his ear and was silent for a moment, as if he were listening for something.

“You’re worried. Aren’t you Keilie? I can read your thoughts with this thing. There’s nothing in the rulebook about reading thoughts, but it’s as lowdown way to cheat as any. I’m taking my star coins back.”

“I won them,” said Keilie. “I shall keep them. I have that right.

“You cheated and I’m going to tear you apart,” said Elu, charging toward Keilie in a slow heavy walk.

Keilie shook his head slowly in half revolutions and backed away.

“Don’t do it,” the other gods cried to Elu. “Don’t. The supreme punishment! No! No!”

But Elu grabbed Keilie, threw him down, and beat him — and beat him with mortal blows in the face and body. He squeezed with immortal strength at the neck, and kicked the body, and pounced on the body, and tried to destroy the body of Keilie — to no avail. He was immortal, immutable, and indestructible.

Keilie didn’t fight back. He knew.

But Elu kept kicking and swearing at Keilie and beat him again in the face. And beat him. And beat him.

The gods cried, “No. No!”

Elu kept beating Keilie. Harder — harder! Trying to destroy. Smashing! Tearing!

Then it happened.

Slowly at first.

A tail.

Two horns.

The supreme punishment!

Elu was changing, changing. Slowly but visibly hanging. The rate increased the same as does a bonfire grow from a single flame.

The horrible form shrieked away from Keilie and withered with pain, whimpering, whimpering.

The gods around Elu were struck with grief and terror. Their souls ached with remorse for him and they knew — they knew that eternity would never quite heal that ache. Being gods, having a perfect conscience, they knew they would be tormented forever by the very though of Elu’s punishment. Elu was now an adversary, without glory, without possession, an eternal ruler of darkness.

“Elu — why? Why did you do it?” shouted Kellie in a shaky voice. “Oh — ‘m sorry. I couldn’t lose my kingdom. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”

Elu shivered and whimpered like a kitten in dry snow. His glory was gone, and the countenance of the other gods was pain to him, as if the molecules of his spirit were rebelling, breaking apart, tearing, reshaping.

“Do something for him,” said Zork. “Anything. Hurry!”

“Get a shield,” said Mu-Si.

“A cage?” said Sardon.

“No. Something opaque.”

“A box?”

“Get it. Hurry!”

Elu’s trembling was somewhat lessened, somewhat at ease when he was concealed in the blackness within the container Sardon had found. At first the box trembled slightly, then quieted like a motor shut off. The god’s knew Elu’s pain was gone…. And his glory.

The gods stood around the box for a while, heads lowered, bowed in humility, in shame, and in grief over their fellow god, and his kind of death.

“It won’t happen again,” said Keilie. “We can’t let it. We must quit gambling. It tempts the supreme punishment. I’m taking my original kingdom — my original kingdom only and return to eternal life the way it once was. From now on I’ll be a good god and take good care of my mortals. And I’m for dumping this casino and turning it back into a palace. Anyone disagree?”

No one disagreed.

“So it is,” said Keilie. “And I’m for having no more kingdom than is rightfully ours. Anyone disagree?”

No one disagreed. They looked at the box. It trembled slightly.

Zork looked up. “Then you won’t be upset when I tell you that the galactic coin to the Milky Way is no longer valid.” The deed is with the Universal Gatekeeper.”

“Why you little…,” but Keilie caught himself. “No — no, I couldn’t have taken it. Not really. Especially not now. I don’t even want the coin. Here, you take it.”

Then Zork nearly cried with a realization, “I lost all my kingdom. What am I going to tell my father? I can’t tell him what I did.”

“You don’t have to kid. Elu doesn’t have a kingdom anymore. The rules say that he who suffers the supreme punishment shall have his possessions fairly divided by that person against whom the crime was committed. That’s me kid. You can have your kingdom. So can everyone else who left here godforsaken.”

Zork’s eyes looked like melting ice. “Thanks Keilie. You have a good heart. You’ll be a great god yet. Thanks. Thanks…”

“It’s nothing, kid — nothing.”

“What are we going to do with Elu?” said Mu-Si.

“Give him to the kid,” said Keilie. “He can take care of him to earn his kingdom back.”

“But what’ll I do with him?” said Zork.

“It’s up to you kid. Anything you want. Just find him a home.”

Somehow Zork didn’t mind Keilie calling him a kid any longer. He was getting to like the way he said it. They shook hands, said goodbye, and parted.

Drifting through space on a comet, thinking: A home. Where could Zork find a home for Elu? A good home? Why I’ll bet Jehovah could give him the best home there is, thought Zork. I’ll ask him when I return his galactic coin.

“Zork, Zork. It’s good to see you again so soon,” said Jehovah. He put his hands firmly upon Zork’s shoulders. “You won back your kingdom?”

“No,” said Zork, “but I regained it. I got it in a tragic way. An awful way.”

“Ohhhh! No, no. The supreme punishment?”

“The supreme punishment,” confirmed Zork.


“Yes, Elu.”

“They tempted fate with a mortal game,” said Jehovah. “It had to happen. I hoped it wouldn’t, but that inevitable end was not preventable. Perhaps the others are a bit wiser now.”

“I believe they are,” said Zork. “They’re changing the casino back into a palace.”

“Good,” said Jehovah. “If our old friends return I might spend my Sabbath day there for relaxation.”

“Sounds good!” said Zork with a slight look of happiness.

“What are you going to do with Elu?” said Jehovah.

“I’m hunting a home for him. Any suggestions?”

“I’ve got some young green planets coming. You could leave him off on one of those if you wish.”

“Yes. I might do that.”

“Fine,” said Jehovah, “and do come back soon after you do. I would like to have a talk. It’s been so long.”

“It has,” said Zork. Perhaps we could meet at the Royal Palace on your seventh day.”

“That’s great, son. I would like that very much. … And would you bring your father?”

“Sure would,” said Zork. “I sure would.” Zork got on his comet.

“That’s tomorrow,” said Jehovah.

“We’ll be there,” said Zork.

“Goodbye Zork.”

“Bye Jehovah.”

And Zork was gone.

Zork traveled for a long, long time hunting for a good planet for Elu — a fruitful planet, a living planet, a warm planet.

At last! Through the void eternity of the Milky Way he found it. Green and fruitful. Just right! A third planet.

“Here you go,” said Zork. “Rest in Peace. No hard feelings.” And Zork dumped him in the thick atmosphere.

Elu skipped across the outer fringes of the blanket of air, sank within and fell downward, changing, changing.

He lit in a fruit tree.

He crawled down the trunk on his belly in his new ungodly form. No arms. No legs. A scaly skin. He crawled and withered his way. His thick skin scraped the bark.

Evil, hatred, revenge, and bitterness boiled within him and scalded his mind. He saw a man. A woman.

The universe above was still and quiet and looked down upon the mute turbulence.

Posted Sept 23,2007, First written 1962

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