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|Outrunning the Storm|
Type: Science Fiction
Author: Michele Dutcher
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Ebook Short Description Two men will rise: Jonathan Boyles-a quiet, NASA computer programmer; and William Floke – a con man/messiah raised on the plaque rotted surface of Mars. Baseline humans, clones, AIs, and tweaks will compete to claim their place in a social order ruled over by super-corporations. Eventually the children of the programmer and the messiah will meet on Ross 128-4 to do battle and open the gate.
Chapter 6 Messiah
The abandoned space station hung in the silent vacuum between Saturn and Titan like a floating tombstone. Its empty shell was only memorable because of the phrase it carried with it: ‘Heaven’s Door’. The letters had been painted in fluorescent blocks six stories high and could be seen at a distance of 50 kilometers, smiling down on the surface of the great moon. The relic could be viewed most clearly by the wealthy as they arrived on the intersystem transport from the inner-worlds. It had therefore become a symbol for abandoning the disease and death and destruction of the older planets, and entering the wealth and eternal life of the outer-colonies.
Most people didn’t need a relic to tell them where they belonged; the planetary differences had become instinctual centuries ago.
William Floke knew where he belonged; on the nano-plague rotted surface of Mars – but he sat in a bar on Titan anyway, five steps from the entrance. The holographic program serving up drinks could tell at a glance that Will didn’t belong in the outer worlds. His dark-purple eyes, the gap in his front teeth, and even the way he held his empty glass were blaring signs. But the bartender wouldn’t be calling for back-up. She would let him pass through. Perhaps he was a sex seller – perhaps not.
Paul placed a fresh drink in front of Will, sitting on a chair in front of him to cut off the other patron’s view of his companion.
“I was told by Ace that it’s a woman this time,” William sighed. He sipped on the sweet liquor. “That always makes it a little easier.”
“It is a woman,” replied Paul. He handed Will a square of plastic which he quickly placed on top of his pupil. Reading the thin film, William nodded that he had received and understood the contents. Within ten seconds the blotch had dissolved into the fluid surrounding his eyeballs.
Paul ran his right hand through his dark, thinning hair. “She’s an eternal.”
Paul leaned over the small table, getting close enough to feel Will’s breath on his face. “Is your bio-dot still working, Will?”
“Lifetime guarantee, Paul. You already know that.”
“How many of these dots are there now,” asked Paul.
“I was told, when I got the implant, that I was one of only three. And it was mentioned that I only received it because of a specific assignment.”
“Maybe this is that assignment.”
“Perhaps. They told me what to look for. I’ll have to wait and see.” Will looked down and away, uneasy talking about the subject even with his mentor. “Would you like a little sample then?”
“I could be talked into it,” nodded Paul discretely.
Will understood the implication and rubbed his palms together to activate the micro-dot, sending an influx of endorphins to his palms. He unfolded his hands and placed them palms-up on the table.
Paul took two fingertips and touched the center of Will’s hand. He shivered with pleasure for a moment, smiling and closing his wrinkled, heavy eyelids. “That’s nice, my friend. That’s very nice.”
“You’re welcome to take as much as you like.”
Paul withdrew his hand, inhaling deeply as he sat back in his chair. His heavy tummy shifted over his belt as he thought about the offer. “I can’t, although the thought is tempting. I must be in top mental form tomorrow morning.” The pair each sipped on their drinks without talking for almost a minute.
“Yes, Paul, I can still read your mind,” said Will, almost irritated by his friend’s insistence on running the dot through its paces.
“Well, read this!” Paul laughed, pressing his index fingers against his temples.
The wild-haired young man finally broke into a laugh in spite of himself, remembering for a moment that it felt good to smile.
"And you really can't read anyone's mind, from what I've been told. You can just sense the amplified emotional energy running through someone's neural pathways, and with practice, venture a very educated guess as to what they're thinking." Paul sat back, content after giving the scientific reasoning behind one of Will's biodot-induced talents. "I really wasn't sure about your aspirations on Mars at gaining a religious following, but I've heard whispers that your goals may be reached quicker than planned, especially now that you have the bio-chip."
William nodded before glancing around the room. “Tell me what you see.”
“I see people frolicking, dining, laughing – enjoying the luxury of the Titan lakes. I see a Venusian Tweak in the corner, trying to hide its wings. They’ve been using Titan recently as a relay point. The word is they’re waiting for something or someone, so they’re stuck here, on this moon. They’re like everyone else, trying to get as far away from the inner worlds as possible.”
“I wonder what they’re looking for?” asked William.
“I don’t know. Some secret society, prophecy, oogly boogly stuff. I’ll bet Kimgee’s Martian Tweak knows. They’re all connected mentally. Supposedly they all share a common ancestor, an Eve 1. That's why they can mentally access each other so easily...or so the story goes.”
"Have you actually seen it happen - the inter-tweak telepathy thing?"
"No. But Kimgee says he's seen his tweak, R7X do it. Something about a blood vessel on the left side of the skull moving noticeably while they go completely quiet."
“Really? That could come in handy. Do they have an outpost close?” asked William.
“I’ve heard they’ve set up their own colony, in a biosphere inside the rings. They have an Earth woman with them.”
“He reminds me of R7X, only a Martian tweak doesn’t have the wings, of course. What’s with those wings anyway? Are they used to fly between the floating cities on Venus, or what?”
“The Tweaks of Venus use the wings to move about their environment – it’s an adaptation because of the high atmospheric pressure, even thirty miles above the surface of Venus.”
“They are beautiful creatures by design. There is just something about the expression around the eyes – unfulfilled longing perhaps.”
The Tweak’s eyes shot towards William, as if it had heard him, but instead of looking away, William held the stare for just a moment.
Paul drew William’s attention back to the table they were at by shifting in his chair enough to allow him to see the rest of the room. “What do you see, William?”
He studied the crowd for a moment. “I see young, beautiful men whose parents have paid dearly for their everlasting youth. They are dancing with girls who will never grow old and never decay, at least not in our lifetimes. I see a whole new race of humans: a species so callous that they left us behind to starve on Mars while the nanoswarms ravaged our resources. They could have sent back the technology to stop the plaque, but they kept all of it for themselves. Perhaps, someday, even these creatures will find they haven't run far enough to hide from the nano-swarms. They reveled in the safety and comforts of the hydrocarbon pump-stations here. Peace and serenity – ‘have a lovely day’ – it makes me want to vomit.”
Paul seemed to puff up, reclaiming his place opposite his friend, making sure no one could see his companion. “Don’t get yourself worked up, my young friend. We’re just passing through this bar. No harm done.”
The two were still talking when three men dressed in black and white work uniforms stepped up to their table. The servers pulled chairs from another table to form a tight circle around Paul and William.
“This is the one I told you about”, whispered one of the newcomers, nodding towards the younger man.
The servant looked him over carefully before building the courage to even ask the question. “Can you help me Lord?”
“Do you believe in me,” asked William, focusing his purple eyes on the face of the tired workman.
“I do Lord, I do.”
“Blessed are those in pain, for they shall be comforted,” said Will. He once again rubbed his hands together as though warming them and small beads of drugged sweat appeared. He placed his hands on the table, palms up.
The workman’s arms were shaking as he placed his hands, palms down, on top of Will’s. He shut his eyes and smiled, feeling relief from the inner world disease that was eating him alive.
“Take as much as you need, my friend, for I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”
Eventually the second man withdrew his hands, placing them on his lap. The relief was only temporary, they all knew that, but for a few days this man would know peace again. “Thank you, Lord,” he whispered.
The music was booming now as the revelers scurried into the loud pleasures of the night. Around the other tables the eternals laughed, and they sang the lyrics to overplayed songs.
But if you could have gotten close enough to hear the lowered voices of the five resolute men in a corner by the front entrance, you might have heard them recite in unison: “In the beginning was the Door, and the Door was with God and the Door was God. And the darkness has not overcome it.”
God looked around the table at his newest disciples and smiled.
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