Walkabout

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It began as a penal colony. No. That is not entirely accurate. As far as the history books were concerned, it began as a penal colony. It was an isolated mass of land where criminals could be put out of sight, and thereby out of the minds of those who had been wronged by their acts. In truth, it had existed long before the pragmatists devised a purpose for it.

Like all continents, it had already served as a home for many. In an effort to bring justice to the land, unjust men laid waste to the native inhabitants. Blood had been spilled onto sandy soil where little of value might grow. These rational minds — progressive thinkers and planners for their time — sought to sow seeds that would bare fruits of ill fortune. Strange, then, that such a blossom of staggering beauty had managed to grow from all of that pain and suffering. Continue reading

D.O.A.: 1/3

GodInABox

 Deity On Arrival

By

Jordan Siron

Dr. Moira Kostas stood before her creation, which sat atop a metal table. “It” was a simple box made of plastic, the front of which was hollow and allowed for the placement of a glass screen. Behind the screen rested a next of coiled wires, which connected to microprocessors Kostas and her team had spent years fine-tuning. She allowed herself a moment to take a deep breath, collecting her thoughts before she proceeded.

Here goes nothing, she thought. With a self-conscious wimper, it began.

The box hummed for several minutes, and an image finally displayed on the glass screen. It was a yellow circle, roughly the width of a human head, and in the center of the dot was an arrangement of lines, spaced to look like a facsimile of a  face. The expression given to it was indifferent. It looked like this:

(-_-)

So far, so good, she thought. She took a seat at her desk, making a note of the progress on her computer. The humming fell to silence, which she also made a point to notate, and after an hour’s wait the on-screen expression changed. It then looked like this:

(*_*)

This change inspired hope in Moira, and she made a note of it on her computer. 10:45 AM, October 10 2022: Woke Up!, declared her notation.

“Hello.” The greeting was quiet, calm, and Moira made another note.

10:48 AM, October 10, 2022: Spoke!

*     *     *     *     *

Three days later, Moira’s lab was flooded with members of the press. They were corralled to the back of the room, where they were told to wait politely, sitting in chairs that had been provided to them by NaviQuest Globaltronics. Moira’s box sat two yards away from them, covered by a white sheet.

“When can we see it?” Barked Chester Furguss, a brash and hungry reporter with United Collective. His query was bolstered by the grunts and snarls of his peers.

Him,” Moira corrected, “Please, just be patient for a few more minutes. He’s had a very grueling time.” She added, trying to be as congenial as possible, “In the mean time, I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have for me and my team.”

“Harumph!” Chester called back. The sentiment was mirrored by his peers. “I’ve got a question.”

Moira remained composed, smiling her approval at the impetuous youth.

“How do we know this isn’t another farce?” Chester asked, his digital recorder held in Moira’s direction.

Before Moira could respond, Clayton Knell stepped between Moira and the digital recorder. “We at NaviQuest engineer many things, but we do not engineer farces.”

“Step aside, Knell.” Challenged Chester. “Or have you forgotten about Quaque –” Chester looked down at his notes, trying to carefully read the word he wasn’t sure how to pronounce. He gave up, relying on its catchier title. “Omni Trekking, that is.”

Quaquatraversing,” Moira corrected. “We haven’t forgotten about that, but there is no evidence that says the mission was a ‘farce’.”

“Then where is the pilot? Where is the ‘oodles’ of information your spokesperson promised would return with her?”

Clayton once more interrupted, “That is neither here nor there.” He confronted Chester, hoisting him from his seat, expelling him from the room despite the young man’s fervent attempts at releasing himself. He slammed the door to the lab, locking it before turning back to face the rest of the stunned reporters.

“You were all briefed beforehand as to what questions were considered ‘in play’, yes?”

The reporters looked to one another then back at Clayton. They nodded.

“Good. Then no more bullshit about Quaqua… Omni Trekking. Yes?”

Another reporter timidly raised her hand. Clayton gestured for her to speak.

“How–” the reporter faltered, clearing her throat before she continued. “How long has ‘it’ been awake?”

“That’s more like it.” Clayton withdrew to a corner of the room, taking with him a fraction of the tension.

Moira smiled warmly. “He has been awake for roughly three days now, give or take an hour or so.”

The reporters all made a point to correct their questions, removing “it” in exchange for “he”.

“Three days? Why the delay in alerting the press?” Asked the reporter, feeling more brazen. “Isn’t this the kind of thing you would want to mention sooner — especially in light of…” the reporter caught herself, casting a nervous glance at Clayton. “I mean to say, in light of how big this could be, wouldn’t you want the world to know as soon as possible?”

“Most assuredly. All the same, when dealing with something this ‘big’, it’s best to take every precaution. Wouldn’t you agree?”

After a round of questioning, during which Moira was asked the standard queries (How long was the project in development? Whose idea was it? How did Moira get the job? And so forth.), Moira was ready to introduce the star of the show. She pulled back the white sheet.

Quaquaversal: Part 1/5

EndOfDaysPart One

The sky had reddened. It had worn thin, and behind the warm hue the people on Earth could see into the infinite cosmos. Somewhere in that vast expanse, lightning storms were never ending. They must have been distant, for no one could hear the thunder; their light did not illuminate the streets, and the bolts struck no ground. Further still, two galaxies could be seen merging.

There had been no solid reason for this change, this perceived re-working of the rules of reality. All the same, suspicion ran rampant. NaviQuest Globaltronics shouldered most of the casual blame. People conspired to construct some kind of explanation that the conglomerate had finally submerged itself too deep in the waters of exploration, having been known to dip its toes in them since its inception in 1976.

There was talk of leaked reports, murmurs of secret meetings abroad with Quantum Physicists who lived comfortably on the cusp of the scientific community. Accusations of bribes and severe, inhumane counter-measures being taken in order to keep the public blind were par for the course in the coming days. Even with circumstantial evidence and expedited efforts, nothing solid had been gleaned from the members of countless tribunals who met at all hours. This hardly mattered to the public.

A sense of dread hung over the men and women as they busied themselves with the ‘hows’ and the ‘whys’. Someone, or something, had lifted the pale blue veil that had hidden their eyes from the unspeakable infinity that had always been there had they cared to look. Those who had held out hope that God Almighty would be waiting for them above the clouds could not find Him. Their lives had been built with every leap of faith, and now they found themselves suspended — not by good-intentioned angels, but by a cold vacuum rich with stars that had no grand design in mind for those who basked in their light.

Scientific minds called for reason, for the God fearing men and women to see this development not as a belittling of all they held dear. Rather, they called for society to consider the benefits of this sudden “unmasking” of nature. It was not a breaking of the rules of reality, but the first of many clarifications of realty’s terms. Indeed, much of the tools and formulas that guided science were asked to be reconsidered. If not for how accurate the laws were to our reality, then for how they might reconcile the very different realities that might lay in wait outside of humanity’s grasp.

A common analogy during those days: “Man flourished when he sailed beyond the horizon not to find sea monsters, or the very edge of the world, but more land.”* The universe was now in a position where it could be as demystified to the common person as the oceans had been. The flagrant revelation of the world outside humanity’s own would spur the need to wander further. Not simply the need, but the want — the inherent desire to see what else might be possible.

After the hysteria began to fizzle, progress was allowed to find purchase back on Earth. NaviQuest Globaltronics, hoping to use the early allegations to their benefit, poured money into the privatization of interstellar travel. They had eclipsed the efforts made by all who had attempted such an undertaking, which had spanned decades before The Clearing (as it would come to be known).

Their efforts were not in vain. Thus emerged the science of Quaquatraversing. The classification came from the Geological term, Quaquaversal, which meant “to slope in all directions starting from a common center”. Hoping to make the venture seem less alienating to the common person, the marketing men at NaviQuest simply dubbed it “Omni Trekking”.

Whichever term one preferred hardly mattered. By any name the process had captured the imaginations of the common person. It promised the ability to travel in every direction, simultaneously and instantaneously. The first manned attempt would take place that October. The world waited with baited breath.

*Dr. Jacob Maumbstein, “Exceeding Expectations: Man’s Grasp, and Interstellar Travel”.