Friday, August 28, 2009

Water fell from a hole in the sky – about nine thousand gallons an hour. The water was not particularly interesting. It was brackish, filled with common trace elements, and it smelled of sulfur. It posed no particular threat to the Earth.
What made this water interesting was that it poured from a black, two-dimensional circle six hundred feet in diameter about four thousand feet above the surface of the Atlantic Ocean seven miles off the coast of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
For three days the American military and scientific community had studied the phenomenon, sampling the salty rain and monitoring the hole by every conceivable means from merely eyeballing it to searching its depths with Doppler sonar. All agreed something, or, more rightly, many somethings, moved just behind the portal’s featureless black surface. And those somethings were, by human standards, huge.
Waves lapped against an orange and white Coast Guard cutter anchored below and just outside the portal’s fall zone. The boat had been retrofitted to handle several hundred pounds of radio transmission equipment and computers. Painted in blue letters on the ship’s stern was the name Contact.
“You ready for this?” asked Dr. Teller, the team’s resident chaos theorist and computational pattern analyst.
“Not gonna get readier,” quipped Dr. Alysan Mizen. Unlike Teller, she had no formal ties to NSA, CIA or any of the other three-letter govie agencies. Her game was communications theory, especially as it applied to hypothetical extraterrestrial civilizations. Funny how that had seemed laughable to most of her peers until about seventy hours ago. Now she was on the verge of directly contacting a non-human, sentient intelligence for the first time in homosapien history while all her friends who had gone into telecommunications to make the big bucks watched on Fox and CNN.
“Okay, this is it people. We’re blasting the first twenty prime numbers at three hundred gigs, ten watts, and twenty megs of bandwidth. If you’ve got a TV dinner you want warmed up, just plunk it on the dish,” said Alysan getting several smiles and even one real chuckle from the taciturn govies.
Her finger hovered over the target pad on her laptop as she started a countdown.
“Ten, nine, eight. . . “
A sleek, black cigarette boat raced across the water, ripping up the surf and churning a plume of white froth in its wake. Coast Guard ships plowed after it, sirens blazing, and men on microphones screamed hoarsely for it to cease its ingress towards Contact.
“Oh, shit,” said Dr. Teller.
Must be a religious freak or one of those weirdo sci-fi people, thought Alysan.
The cigarette boat flew towards the scientists at incredible speed, bouncing on the waves like a toy. Dr. Teller dived over the side and the other govies followed. Contact’s captain yelled for them to stop, but they were already in the water.
“I can’t start the engines with them right below us,” he cried at Alysan, as if she could pull the govies back on deck. For her part she ran for the bow, carrying the laptop with her.
The cigarette boat’s engines died suddenly and it turned at so sharp an angle Alysan thought it must surely roll, but somehow it remained upright coming to a near stop only feet from Contact. A canopy door popped upward on the black craft and a woman maladroitly tumbled out, flopping into the water with all the grace of a log.
She beat water, swimming hard as the Coast Guard ships tried to maneuver around her abandoned boat. Several uniformed men with rifles stood at the rails, but they seemed reluctant to fire in Contact’s direction. Thank God.
Alysan peered down at the woman, who was slowly approaching a sea ladder on Contact’s port side.
“Alysan!” the woman screamed as she struggled to grab a rung in the churning waters.
Alysan moved closer, her heart thundering at hearing her name. She placed the laptop on a secure stand and bent towards the mystery woman.
“Do not approach the suspect,” said an amplified voice from the nearest Guard cutter.
Alysan bent and gave the woman a hand onto deck.
When the woman cleared the rail, dripping and coughing, Alysan saw her own face, aged and worn and damaged. The older Alysan wore a dirty bandage around her head, covering her left eye. The bandage was caked with dried blood. Her left cheek bore an open gash that no longer bled, but looked hours fresh. Her brown hair was ratty and parts of it had been singed away. She wore a blue coverall splattered with what could only be more blood and whorls of some yellowish oily substance. Here and there her pasty white skin showed through holes in the fabric.
“You’re me,” said younger Alysan.
Older Alysan took her by the shoulders gripping hard.
“Don’t send that code,” she said in a cracked voice.
“Something goes wrong?”
“The Carcosai, they’re language is radio frequency. The first twenty primes are a threat – a grievous insult – a declaration of war. The moment you sent it the holes opened everywhere. The Carcosai – they are. . . tentacled, bulbous, many-eyed, the size of mountains. They were like titans, ripping down our cities, absorbing the brunt of our weapons like pin-pricks.”
“Stay where you are,” said the guardsman’s amplified voice as the cutter neared it’s engine idling.
“How did you get here?” asked young Alysan.
“No time!”
Old Alysan dashed to the laptop, typed furiously for several seconds and then smashed her hand down on the send pad.
In a matter of seconds a return message arrived, and then something huge, green, and sporting at least seven hundred tentacles eased slowly out of the hole overhead to float there dripping water into the sea.
“OH HELL!” said the Coast Guardsman who had never switched off his mic.
“What’d you send?”
“Six, six, six. The Carcosai holy greeting.”


Saturday, August 08, 2009

Today’s Word: Anomie (A recycle from 2003)

The mid twenty-first century saw an anomie of the middle class as conservatism and moral integrity weakened like pillars under the crushing arms of a long-haired Samson. Three generations -- these later deemed by scholars as the weakest links in the human evolutionary chain to date -- caused the downfall of western culture through a slow erosion of respect for law, moral fiber, and empathy for the human condition. Generations X,Y, and Alpha tore our country apart with murder, fornication, and lasciviousness.

That is why, during the latter half of the century, DOCTRINE was created. We are a global organization, with government oversight committees on every ruling body in the world. Our infrastructure of neural-path GOALMASTER™ supervision nodes now spans the breadth of humanity, unobtrusively preventing immoral behavior the world over. Because of DOCTRINE, global GDP has skyrocketed by nearly three hundred percent compared to market averages just fifty years ago. Crime is at lower levels than the 1950's, even in the former United States of America.

Now that you have reached the legal age of twelve, you have been fitted with your first set of neural-path GOALMASTER™ supervision nodes. From this point on, you will enjoy a whole new world of information access, as well as global GPS positioning twenty-four hours a day. You will even be able to ask for directions or answers to taxing moral dilemmas. A DOCTRINE agent is always just a PHONE THOUGHT™ away.

-- david j.