“Walt, come up here” Surfacing from my fatigue induced sleep, i carefully craft a response calculated to evoke more information than that already given. I immediately deduce two relevant facts.
Since I don’t usually refer to myself in the third person, it must have been Tom, the pilot, who spoke.
1) “I’m on a plane”
2) “I must be Walt”
By this time I have finished crafting my response and give it voice.
“huh?” I mumble.
“Come up here and look at this, weird shit man”
I sit up, stretch and yawn. Glancing around i notice the plane is rather small, somewhat bigger than a Leer, it has a military decor the bench seats and bare ribs complementing the metal floor. It can carry maybe 20 soldiers with gear. I stumble through the passage between the pilot and co-pilot seat and am pushed into the co-pilot seat by Tom to prevent me from grabbing the throttle controls to balance myself. Tom is about 30 with sandy hair and a short well groomed beard with light blue eyes. He is wearing a brown leather WWII B2 jacket with a brown flight cap with a 50 mission crush. khaki pants and shirt along with brown ankle boots to complete his retro-retro outfit
“It’s a Fokker 670 light troop transport. The instrumentation is mostly on the HUD, the dials only display important stuff, like if an engine blows up, we’re at a negative altitude, or flying backwards so I’ll know to reverse the pitch on the props.” “Here” he reaches over and flips a switch on my console and a map automagically appears on the windscreen. There is a green arrow pointing ahead flanked by two red dots. This map overlays the view from the window with various things highlighted.
“I guess the green arrow is us, but what are the two red dots?”
The plane has straight wings, mounted high, and a turbo prop engine. (i assume the other one is the same, mirrored, I hope) I try to push the picture of a plane with a right wing on the left side of the plane with the engine pointing backwards out of my mind and concentrate on what Tom’s talking about. There is a “drone” just off the right wingtip. It looks rather like a land based cruise missile. dull aluminum in color. It is about 12′ to 14′ long and 2 1/2′ to 3′ in diameter. there are no openings, seams or markings of any kind. The nose is somewhat pointed. Looks like a Hallmark model on steroids. Short stubby wings reminiscent of an F-104. The back flattens out on the bottom like an upside down, squared off birds tail. On the top the fuselage smooths out to form an exhaust although I can’t see any evidence of thrust. There are no ailerons, flaps or stabilizers, the control is established by flexing the aero foil surfaces.
“Watch this” Tom waggles the control stick raising and lowering each wing about 30 degrees. the “drone” matches the maneuver appearing to be physically attached to the plane. The tail flexes like that of a bird in flight. The wings flex to match attitude. The thruster swivels to match speed. “You’re right Tom, it’s weird shit. If that’s all you wanted, I’m going back to sleep”
“Not yet, there’s another on this side, oops, the HUD went crazy”. A roadway had been added to the HUD display with the green arrow poised at the top. It appeared to be made of yellow logs strapped together and curving down to the surface terminating at a structure located in the middle of a field. As I watched the green arrow moved down the “roadway” and stopped in front of the building. After a few seconds the arrow repeated the movement.
“I think I’m being asked to land”
“I think you’re being informed that you are going to land, I don’t think you have a choice. These things have tapped into the control system of the plane” The plane started a gentle descent, Tom fought it for a minute then let go of the controls, the plane didn’t seem to notice. There was a horrible scratching on the skin of the plane.
“What in the hell is that, sounds like a giant cat grabbed the plane”
“It is a cat, that’s puddles scratching to get out. Got to go.”
“You’ll miss the landing’
“Can’t be helped, if i don’t let him out, he’ll shit on the floor. Bye”
I open the door on my side, swing my legs out, and step on the floor of my bedroom. I open the door and let Puddles out
Tom’s right, I missed the landing. I’m standing on a lawn watching the Fokker race down the road, it lifts and banks left to return the way we came. Damn thing climbs fast for a troop transport. That explains the metal floor, it’s so they can hose the puke out. The drones are continuing in the opposite direction.
I turn around, I am in front of a rather small Edwardian wannabe two story house. It is built of brownstone with two three story towers on each side and a tile roof. The large double oak door is flanked by two windows, there are three windows on the second floor and three windows on each tower. I climb the steps to the portico and bang the bangey thingie. It is a lion’s head in the center of the right door. A keyhole is on the opposite door with two metal pull rings at waist level. A woman pulls the door in (the pull rings must just be decoration). She is English school smarm looking with a hawkish face, black hair pulled back in a bun, wearing a blue business suit with a white ruffled blouse. 1920’s style eye hole boots. No makeup or jewelry except for a cameo brooch on her left breast and a wedding ring. Her husband probable has a humped back and is named Lurch.
We’ve been waiting for you”
She turns and enters the house. I follow. The door closes behind me. The door has two handles and a sliding iron bar that doesn’t match any of the hardware on the outside. The door can’t be opened from the outside. The floor is a polished mahogany finished oak. The room only contains a wingback settee and matching chair with Ottoman upholstered with a paisley cloth. A rosewood crescent inlay coffee table completes the furnishings. It is lit with a single incandescent bulb hanging from the center of the ceiling with a pull chain. There is a small fireplace on the opposite wall. The walls are paneled in a crosshatch pattern like someone put flooring on the wall. Through the door to my left is a large dinning room table with a chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Straight ahead is a stairway heading up. She walks around the stairway and pauses.
“Here it is”
She is indicating a door beneath the staircase angle cut to fit. It’s not trimmed. Looks like they just cut off a Home Depot door with a skil saw. I open the door and see a stairway heading down. It is dark. She reaches past me and flips a switch to turn on the light then goes through a door to the rear of the house. I descend the stairway one flight and open the door on the bottom. I enter a large brightly lit room about 40′ by 28′. The light comes from 20 double flouerescent “shop lights. there is a tiled floor and the right wall has three double bi-fold doors like you’d expect on a closet. The room is filled with clothing racks. They’re all tee shirts Some have bows or bloused sleeves or waistbands or ruffles but they’re basically just tee shirts. Some have printing, one I like says “Born To Lose” with a poker hand fanned out below it. A,K,Q,J spades 2 hearts. flanking the cards are two dice, each with a single pip (snake eyes) below is a broken heart.
A woman is browsing the racks, she picks up a tee shirt looks at it and replaces it. She is wearing one of these dolled up tee shirts. It comes almost to her knees. sleeveless with a pinched waist, slits down the sides and bows scattered randomly.
“Hi, I’m Walt”
“I know, I met you in the future. I’m Cougar Lou”
“I don’t remember you”
“Of course not, you haven’t met me yet”
She is wearing a feather in her hair, not perpendicular like an indian, but woven in in parallel.
“What is this place?”
“She runs a stall at the flea market on the weekends” She walks over and opens one of the double bifold doors. Indeed it is a closet. Above are teddys on a closet bar. Below are a series of drawers like you’d see in an apothocary. She glances in several of them. they contain women’s underwear. The top row contains normal stuff pink panties and white cotton bras. It gets racier as she goes down, peek-a-boo stuff, lacey panties, see thru bras, thongs. On the bottom row is the hard core stuff, studded leather, padded handcuffs, chains, whips etc.
I loose interest and glance around. I notice for the first time a balcony with a man standing on it. This piques my curiosity as you don’t usually see balconys in basements. I walk over and say “Hi”. The man has white hair and is very pale. He is wearing a flowered sports shirt with slacks and sneakers. When he turns I see he is actually an albino negro, pink eyes and all.
“yes” he answers
“Whatcha looking at?”
“The crypt” He turns and continues looking at the Crypt (?)
“What’s your name?”
“What difference does it make?”
“OK, I’ll call you Stranger”
I walk over to see what he’s looking at. There are four houses on one acre lots. They are identical to this one. One is nightime on a wooded lot. Another is a lawn with shrubbery and ornamentals. The third is desert with the yard decorated with rocks and cacti like they do in Arizona. The fourth is jungle. There is a road squared off at the ends.
“Do you want to go down there tomorrow?”
“Sure, why not?” After all this dream is getting interesting.
“OK, which one?”
“The one in nightime”
“OK, I’ll bring a couple of flashlights, they don’t have it wired down there yet. See you tomorrow night.”
I’m on the road in front of the nightime house. To my left a sheer white wall extends up and I can see the balcony maybe a hundred feet up. Stranger walks through the wall and hands me a flashlight. We walk towards the house, as I step onto the lawn it turns to night. We walk up to the door and Stranger pushes it open. It is dark inside, the light switch is inoperative. We flick on the flashlights. The house is empty We go down the stairway open the door and walk into the same room. The Tee shirts are gone. We walk straight across to the balcony. Looking out over the balcony I see a tunnel. It is arched with a flat floor. Stranger flips a rope ladder over the balcony and we descend. The Crypt-like tunnel has a series of shops on both sides, arched doorways with a slide down Iron Gate. Some of the shops are dark with the gate closed. The tunnel is lit with torches set into sconces along the walls. Looks like a bizarre bazaar. I walk into the first shop on the left (It’s a gun shop) and ask the merchant, “Show me what you’ve got.” He puts a rifle on the counter and starts explaining it to me. The ammunition looks like an 18″ glue stick, 3/8 inch in diameter. It has a solid smokeless powder center with a small hole down the center sheathed in brass. He opens the butt plate and inserts 15 or 20 of these rods . This thing has a capacity of 300 to 350 rounds He rachets the slide, then rachets it again to eject the round. I pick it up and look at it. Looks like a regular bullet except the casing goes all the way, there is no lip and a primer is inserted in the center hole.. Racheting the slide pinches off the round in the front making it pointed, cuts off the round and inserts a primer in the rear. He said that they (?) have gone to solid propellant because it burns more completely and because of the high rate of fire (600-800 rounds per min) powder would jam the rifle. The receiver is chromed to prevent residue buildup. It uses a blow-back action to cycle the receiver similar to an AK-47. The stock is straight to facilitate feeding the “glue stick ammo” It has two handgrips both with triggers.. The front trigger is the safety and the rear trigger releases the firing pin. There is no single shot mode. Firing stops when you release either trigger. There are no sights except for a laser sight mounted under the barrel. This is pretty much a “spray and pray” gun. As I walk out the arch I remember that the wiring wasn’t completed down here. I turned and asked him, “where’d you get the power?” “I’ve got a generater out back, Lowes had a sale”. I continue out the door wondering where “out back” could be when you’re 300′ underground. Weird shit, man.
I walk into the next alcove. It is a tea shop. The inside is lit by oil lamps, they must not have heard about the sale at lowes., it is full of ragheads, the ones we used to call sedekes (Friend) when I was in Libya. I smile and nod at each one I pass “Eat Shit, Sedeke” Ep Sheba, Sedeke” they respond. Yup thery’re the same peoople. They are smoking hookas, drinking tea. Some are playing some kind of tile game I havn’t seen before. The smell is overpowering. Napoleon had said that the French and the sedekes were two of the great civilazations of the world. The only thing I can see they share is an aversion to bathing. Stranger had prudently waited outside (I didn’t know dream characters could smell, in both senses of the word) The next shop is a auto parts store (Auto Zone) The clerk in her red shirt shows me a “jack” that can be attached to any car. By pressing one of four buttons on the dash a cam can be locked onto the shaft of one of the four wheels, driving forward or backward will rotate that cam along with the wheel raising it off the ground. Slicker than snot on a doorknob.
The next place is another gunshop, the clerk puts a small semi auto pistol on the counter. “Looks like a regular gun” “It’s not, it uses triangular rocket bullets. The triangular shape keeps a rocket propelled cartridge from spinning out like it would with rifling. See” He shows me the end of the barrel, it has a triangular hole. “Unlike normal bullets which penetrate then shock, this bullet explodes on contact burning the rest of the propellant. It is not normally fatal. It has a cap in the nose seated in mercury fulminate which explodes the propellent” I look at the case, it is steel with a cruciform mold inserted. He’s right, a steel bullet would not work in a rifled barrel. “It was designed for air marshalls, if you fired it at an airplane interior wall, it would not penetrate but cause a 1/2 deep 6 or 8 inch diameter dent.” He continued ” If you hit a person it would tear the same amount of flesh off.” “The triangular shape also allows more cartridges to be packed into the magazine, making for a slimmer, more concealable design.” Realizing I don’t have any dream money, and even if i did I don’t think I could bring one of these things back. (Not to mention trying to find ammo) I walked back outside to see if Stranger could scare up something more interesting.
“I want a monster” I announce
“yeah, like you have in nightmares”
“I don’t have nightmares, I’m a dream”
“I still want one”
“OK, you got it.It’s at the end of the tunnel” He turns and walks back to the balcony. At the end of the tunnel is a swirling fog like aparition. As I approach it makes aggressive feints at me then trys to avoid me as I get closer. I walk into it, it’s just an amorphous fog……..
…lapping at the Hindu Kush like an ocean. I must have dozed off. (Assuming you can doze off in a dream).
It’s a C-130 Military Air Transport System plane, the seats are facing to the rear. (if this were such a great idea, why come they don’t have the pilots facing to the rear?) We’re on the final leg of a flight from Diego Garcia to Baghram AFB. I ponder my situation, as close as I can figure I’m dreaming about dreaming about having a nightmare. Weird shit, man.
I glance back. This is one of those big planes with a ramp at the back for loading or unloading. It’s closed at the moment, good thing too, someone might decide to have a tailgate party. It can carry about 300 passengers. About 200 of these are US Army, they are mostly sleeping, couple of craps games going on. About 50 British troops. They must have snuck some Guinness aboard. They’re pretty loaded, all joined in singing.
I am a bloody hero,
A decorated Vet
The order of the Purple Shaft
With Pineapple clusters yet.
Have to watch these guys, make sure someone doesn’t try to go outside to take a leak.
Half a dozen guys in the back, heavily muscled, scruffy. Special Forces? everyone else is miscellaneous, some low ranking officers, some civilians, a couple of women.
Kind of a boring nightmare, or maybe I was just dreaming that. WSM. I look back outside. We’ve made little progress, must be some big mountains. I’m going back to sleep. I am immediately awakened by some idiot shaking my shoulder. Well, maybe not immediately the fog is gone, the mountains are far to the rear, and we are over a plain. The sun is flectorizing off a winding ribbon, lake maybe? “What?”
“Colonel, Can you speak German? They’re looking for someone who speaks German.”
“I’m a major.”
I go up front and take the headphones from the radio operator. It is German, but chopping in and out. “Try single sideband”, the signal clears up: strong and crisp. “They are trying to establish contact with a plane carrying the relief crew for the German aid center in Kabul.” I say
“That’s out” says the pilot
“Vas maken sie?”
“Flugplatz Kabul ist ausgehen”
“Ich kene, will sagen “Kom mit mir””
“I’ve got a fix on someone broadcasting broadband in German”
“Tie me into them” “Actung, Actung, Actung, Hallo, Hallo,Hallo”
“Walt, is that you? This is Tom”
“Vas maken sie? I mean what’s going on? why are you speaking German”, switching gears.
“I’m not, that’s my co-pilot. We got a message that Kabul was down, and to avoid it. My GPS is out, we’re low on fuel and I’m lost.”
“Hang loose, We’ll guide you in,”
“I see the plane now, it’s a fokker 670”.
pilot>me “all GPS systems are out, the system has failed, no need to tell him that, he’s got enough problems”
“Drop down in front of them, we’ll lead them into Baghram.”
Tom>pilot “I’ve only got about 20 min fuel left, if you can slow down I may be able to streach it out.”
Pilot>Tom “I can only slow this thing down about another 20 Knots, I’ve got a heavy load. What are you carrying? Anything you can ditch?”
Tom>pilot “No, only passengers, 18 nurses, 4 doctors and two delegates from Iraq to the embassy in Kabul.” “Want me to toss them out?”
Breaking in> “This is Gen Mckenzie, CO at Baghram.. Toss ’em out.”
Tom> “can’t sir, the door opens out, if we open it we won’t be able to close it”
Gen>”That’s ok, we can shoot them when they get here.” “you said you had a colonel on board?
Me>”I’m a major.”
Gen>”Don’t argue with me, Colonel, I don’t have time for shit. We’re under siege here, the shitheads have gone crazy, they are attacking in suicide waves, We’ve got plenty of ammo though. I am going to assume that the plane won’t make it and am setting up a rescue mission. I will have 2 Abrams, 4 Bradleys and 8 6x’s waiting at the end of the runway. Come in on the approach the traffic controllers will give you and you will be pointed back the way you came. We have both of you on radar so we can pinpoint where they go down. Come in low and fast and you may only get a few bullet holes. Use your anti missle defenses, they have SAMS. Good Luck.”
Me>” I’m an Air Force cultural exchange major”
Gen>”Keep that shit up colonel and I’ll have you busted back to major. Just tell Toto, he’ll take care of it.”
I hand the headset back and pick up the intercom, “Will Toto report to the front of the plane”
Before I hang up the headset a huge sergent comes storming down the Aisle. He has a face like a bulldog, no neck and is smoking a big cigar.
“Who the fuck you think you are calling me Toto, only Mac can call me Toto?”
“He’s the one who told me to call you Toto”
“Why are you called Toto?”
“Surely you can figure that out, Dorothy”
Shit!! I glance down to see if I’m wearing a blue Gingham dress. Nope, Air Force dress.
“We’re not in Kansas anymore?”
The sergent grabs the intercom and announces “Shut the fuck up.” It goes silent immediately. “Heads up ladies, we’re landing hot. Expect to be in combat in 15 minutes killing shitheads. You limies head for the weapons carrier to pick up your weapons and ammo. You debark first. Reinforce the line and set up an enfilliating fire. Sergeant Johnson your men will debark second and load your men on three of the trucks on the left side of the plane. You debark second. Sergeant Jeffries will debark last and load your men on the remaining trucks.
The men in the back pull the tarps off the equipment there. It is six 4 wheel ATV’s. They fire them up, then shut them down. The cargo master cracks the ramp to clear the smoke and pull the tarps out. The pilot banks sharply, drops the landing gear, engages the flaps and revs the engine. Wham!! we’re down, engines in reverse, brakes squealing. None of this touch and go shit you see in commercial airlines. Within a minute the brakes release and the engines idle down. I glance out the window, this guy is taxiing at 60 mph. The special forces mount the ATV’s and fire them up. The cargo master continues dropping the gate. After several minutes the plane starts breaking down.
Two of the ATV’s exit before the plane is stopped or the ramp down. They bounce once and exit left and right. The next two exit, then the last. The british are in the aisle and fast step off. The Americans on the left side next, then the right. They emptied this plane in 30 sec.
Sarge is waving at me, “move it, we’re in a hurry. Stick with me and try to look important.” We climb into the front of a bradly. A fussilade begins ahead of us and we’re off following the abrams tanks. As each vehicle enters the kill zone it’s armorment opens up. First the 20mm and .50 cal of the Tanks then the twin 50’s of the bradleys.
“Call up Mac and tell him we’re on the way.” says sarge. “Already have”, says the driver, “command tells us we’re 10 to 15 minutes from the crash site. With luck we’ll be back in half an hour.” The corpses are starting to thin out, I notice a couple of camels and a donkey. That’s what kill zone means, kill anything that moves. We’re trucking right along, it’s difficult to see, no headlights but the driver is wearing night vision goggles. I pull out the flashlight stranger gave me. “Put in the red filter colonel, you’ll blind the guys using night vision.”
“I’m a major.” It’s one of those bent flashlights that only the military uses. I put in the red filter. If a flashlight emits photons would a flashdark suck them up?. You could use headdarks with the goggles to drive in the daytime. Or use flooddarks to satuarate an area. Right now we could use the headdarks to deluminate the area in front of the bradly and use the goggles to spot intruders. This way lies madness.
“You got an extra gun?”
“Sure, colonel, take my 10mm, I’ve got twin 50’s on the roof.” I take it, it’s loaded.
“I’m a major”
On impulse I ask “Ever see a gun that shoots triangular bullets?”
“Sure, that’s that new one that air marshals use, I’ve got some ammo in the glove box, armor piercing and impact. Nobodys got any guns tho, the Air Force got them all.”
Shit, I should have got the gun, I didn’t have any money. I’d have had to steal it. Is stealing a crime in a dream? Do they put you in jail? Will I only dream about being in jail until the sentence is up? Would Stranger bail me out? WSM
I jump out of the bradly and walk to the rear. The sharp sting of tear gas causes my eyes to water. The soldiers are picking up the ones in uniform and tossing them in the bradlys. I check the ones that are not in uniform. They are mostly diaperheads and dead. There are two in business suits, also dead. Who killed them? What difference does it make? There is a body in a b2 jacket by the door. I flip it over, it’s Tom, dead. He’s clutching a .45 with the slide back, empty.
He’s been machine gunned. In the cockpit is another body, Luffwaffe uniform. He’s been machine gunned through the windshield. I pick up the attache case under his seat and head back to the bradly. They’ve almost finished loading the survivors. I look in the back, they are some unhappy puppies, puking and wheezing. Better than being dead.
Taking a count: there are three female doctors, the male doctor is dead, five nurses and a female private with some kind of plastic inflatable bootie on her foot. She broke her ankle jumping out of a 6X. I jump in the front and am immediately followed by sarge.
“Let’s go, we’re finished here”
The double column is speeding back to the base. The British have opened a corridor and we race through. I show the attache case to Sarge He glances into it, “Just the personnel records for the people on the plane. Take it over to base ops and let them deal with it.”
He seems in a mellow mood so I ask “Why are these people called shitheads?”
“Nothing sinister, these people are shiite, the plural in arabic is contracted to shiite’d. GI’s can’t pronounce that so they use the full form shiite hed, hence shithead.”
“Mac doesn’t like them”
“Don’t let him hear you say that, nobody but me can call him Mac”. “But yes, the shitheads have gone crazy, they think the end of the world is coming and it’s time to kill all the infidels and jews.” He pauses, then, “They may be right”
“When you go over to base op’s find out what’s going on, there’s some weird shit happening, let me know, not tonight though, I’m going to take my troops and the British over to the NCO club and buy them a couple kegs of beer.” ” When Private Pearson gets a cast on her broken ankle,
send her over”
The bradly stops and we all pile out in front of flight ops. An Airman carrying a carbine walks up to me and says “colonel” (I’m a major I thought to myself) “I’m Airman Penskie, I’ve been assigned to you by General McKensie to liase for you. You are to baby sit the rescued personnel to get them up to speed. “I brought you a weapon, we’re in a combat zone.” She hands me a 10mm on a web belt and as I strap it on “Get all the survivors to get on the blue bus and we’ll go to the hospital. From there we can take the ambulatory ones to the barracks. All I could get at this short notice was an open bay barracks. The quartermaster is getting the place ready, there are two female airmen to baby sit them, and the mess will be sending over sandwitches, coffee, milk and juices shortly. Here is a cell phone, I am at speed dial 1, and the Officer of the Day is speed dial 2.” I turn it on, it says USAF
By this time the survivors are loaded.
“Colonel” she says, (I’m a major i think to myself) “do you mind if I ask you something?”
“Why are you wearing major leaves?” (because I’m a major I think to myself)
“Picked up the wrong jacket”
“Oh, I’ll pick you up some silver ones tomorrow” (Guess I’m a colonel)
“By the way, you ever hear of a gun that shoots triangular bullets?”
“Yeah, they’re those air marshal pistols, we’ve got a bunch of them but no ammo, the army got it all”
The Bradlys gone, Shit!!, you’re an evil, evil aparition Stranger.
Hell, this is the military, I know how to play this game. “You want one?”
“Hell yes, it beats carrying this carbine.”
“Tomorrow pick up 27 of them to arm the Germans.”
“But there’s only 21 of them”
“Yes, I know”
“….OK, what about the ammo”
“Offer him 5 boxes, lets go”
When we get to the hospital the lawn is covered with about 100 casualties, a couple of nurses are affixing colored tags to the casualties. Leaving everyone on the bus, I collar one.
Me>”I’ve got the survivors of that plane crash”
Nurse>”Can’t you see I’m busy doing triage?” She continues with her triage, “We’re swamped, we’re not going to be able to get to what we’ve got now”
Me>”These survivors are 18 nurses and 3 doctors”
I’ve got her undivided attention now
Me>”Yes, I’ve been tasked with getting them up to speed”
Nurse>”What do you need”
Me>”It’s mostly tear or vomit gas, one broken ankle, some of them have been beat up.”
“Wait here a minute, I’m going to make a few phone calls.” She leaves at a run for the hospital.
Presently Medics begin appearing with boxes of equipment, one has a pair of cruches.
The nurse reappears with a bottle of pills, “Give them all one of these immediately, that’ll stop the nausea. They’ll know what to do with the rest of the stuff.” She returns to her triage.
We race to the barracks and she parks so as to provide some privacy. I unload the supplies from the back of the bus and help Pearson down. She refuses to give up her weapon so I duct tape the gun to the crutch. She seems happy with that, so I help her inside and deposit her on the first cot. The Germans are being unloaded, stripped and hosed down before being allowed into the barracks. I check it out, two private rooms, the rest is open bay, single cots, made up, foot and wall lockers, Butt cans on the columns, standard latrine in the back. Some of the germans have already staggered in, some are sitting on the pot and puking on the floor, others puking in the pot and shitting on the floor. Just one of those little choices everyone makes in life. One of the airmen comes in and passes out the butt cans. As normal, the germans get everything backwards, preferring to sit on the pot and puke in the butt can. I suggest to the airman that she remove the strainers from the drains. “Right”
Outside I comment to the airman on how much more efficient the service was than I remember.
“Not really, this is a transit barracks, it’s always ready.”
“Drop me off at base ops and pick up something a little smaller and less smelly for tomorrow.”
Bedlam reigns in base ops. It’s like listening to Ozzy Osbourne and Buddy Hackett having a argument about string theory in Aramaic. I give up, it can wait till tomorrow (night). I head to BOQ, find out I’ve already been signed in, go to bed and wake up.
There’s a knock at the door, Must be UPS with my scanner. Nope, it’s night outside. Must be the dream. I go back to bed. The knock repeats, I open the door to my BOQ room. It’s the airman. Leaving the door open “Come on in, Talk to me.” I get dressed. “I’ve got the guns, you have to sign this requisition.” I look at it, Yup, the Quarter Master picked up the cue, the 7 could be interpreted as a 1, I sign it. “Let’s go find the Army QM”
We arrive and I pick four guns out of the back of the weapons carrier. I put them in an AWOL bag and walk in. I tell the private at the counter I want to see the QM. I am escorted to an office containing a metal desk with two chairs in front. Behind the desk is a thin balding man wearing glasses with a bunch of stripes. When I shut the door he puts down his pencil deliberately and waits.
“I’m looking for some triangular bullets for those air marshall guns.” He’s still waiting. I pull one of the guns out and set it in front of him. He opens the box, lifts the gun out, racks it and smiles. The gun disappears into his pocket. He’s still smiling, we be cooking. He’s still waiting. I put the other three guns on his desk and they disappear into the desk drawer. “Wait here a minute”, he picks up the AWOL bag and walks out the door, shutting it behind him. He returns in a minute and hands me the AWOL bag. I almost drop it. I don’t insult him by looking inside but shake his hand and walk back to the wc leaving him loading his gun. At least he didn’t ask me about my major leaves.
I hoist the bag on the front seat “Open it up.” I go pick two more guns out of the back and climb in the front. The airman is examining the bag, “looks like about 35 boxes, mixed.” Did better than I hoped. We crack a box and load the guns.
“Back to the AF QM, we’ll turn in the other weapons and pay him off.”
“Want to pick up some fatigues while we’re there?, those blues are going to get hot”
When we arrive at Supply I let the airman go in first so the QM can credibly deny spotting the cahoots connection. When she comes out I go in and ask for some fatigues, short sleeve if they have them. While I’m waiting the phone rings, The first bar of “Off we go….” The caller ID says Area Code 913, Kansas, Stranger. I punch talk, Stranger says “You figured out the gun, let’s see if you can figure out the rank.” I stick it back in my pocket. The clerk is back with the fatigues. They’re BLUE on Blue camoflage fatigues. “Blue?” “Hey, it’s the Air Force”
Back at the barracks I go into one of the two rooms and change into fatigues. I put the brass leaves back on, I’ve figured out the rank thingie. I stop by the PX, pick up a string of pearls and put them on. The airman looks at them but doesn’t ask about the major leaves. So far so good. At the barracks I grab some coffee and a donut off the table in front and gather the survivors around me. I thank them for flying Surprise Airlines and ask if they enjoyed the shuttle service from the landing to the suites. Nothing. Ok. I introduce myself, tell them what I know and tell them I am going to base ops to make sure that all appropriate parties were notified and find out more about the situation. That took about a minute since I didn’t know anything. Pvt Pearson is in the stockade. I go there to sign her out, when we go back to her cell she has on some kind of plastic bootie, she looks as bad now as the germans did last night, I notice she still has the M-16 duct taped to the crutch. While the guard is unlocking the cell, I ponder the wisdom of locking up a drunk soldier with a loaded weapon.
“Are you having a dream?”
“Feels like it last night, the germans fixed my ankle so I went to the nco club and got some beer. I was dancing naked on the bar but they called the AP’s when I started shooting out the lights with my crutch. By the way, colonel, why are you still wearing…….” she looks at the pearls and stops. I offer to take her back to the barracks but she wants to get back to her unit. When we get where she directs me I pull out a gun and a box of ammo and wrap them in a rag. “give these to sarge, tell him they’re a present.”
When I arrive at base ops I am informed that a German Major is at flight ops and I am to pick her up.
She’s pissing and moaning about a male removing her piss bag. (she flew in in the back seat of a F-22.) I told her to grow up, this is only a dream.
On the way out “Why’d you say this was a dream?”
“Well, it is, I started taking Atenolol and began having these vivid dreams.”
She really is German, she is from Stuttgard and her name is helga. She began taking Atenolol for a heart problem. We compared notes for awhile and found we didn’t share any dreams other than right now. She did however meet Stranger on an ocean liner in a dream but she calls him Spectre. Same guy tho, white haired pink eyed albino negro. Weird shit man.
Back at the wc airman asks her about her rank. Shit I should have warned her, she’ll have to get a butch haircut, use black lipstick or something. Back at base ops I send them to the barracks. I enter and wander around everyone looks at the pearls but nobody asks anything and I’m sure not going to tell. The pearls work.
Base Ops is certainly sombre. There is a podium at the front. Behind it is a chalkboard with the announcement.
Standing Order of the day
All Shitheads to be shot on sight
A lieutenant walks to the podium and taps on the mike. “This is a periodic announcement Command gives when new information is received” Newcomers can pick up a situation report from the tables in front of the podium.”
“At 0817 we established contact with the USS Insipid, Captain Contagious, surfaced in Karachi Harbor. Details are included in the situation report addendum #4. We asked if they could provide relief for our shithead situation. The Insipid is a nucleur missile sub with 48 tomahawks and 24 MIRV missiles. The captain suggested a three pronged approach.
1) Take out Mecca. That has already been launched.
2) Take out Kabul with two MIRV missiles.
3) Scatter Tomahawks along the Highway between Kabul and Baghram.
The launch of the MIRVS will be delayed to coincide with the arrival of the tomahawks. The missiles will begin arriving on target at 0900. This is the end of this announcement”
I push to the front and pick up two copies with addendums. I can’t find a quiet place so I retire to the Officers Club. I grab a beer, find a table with a lamp, pull out my glasses and begin reading. It doesn’t take long to realize we’re in deep shit.
1) Baghram is surrounded by shitheads, although we are killing them at a ratio of 100:1 we are outnumbered by 1000:1. It is estimated that Baghram will be over run in 3 to 5 days.
2) At 0800 yesterday a mist or fog, composition unknown, rolled out of the ocean and covered the land to an elevation of 4000′. This had the effect of lowering the albedo of the affected areas from .8 to .2. It is estimated that temperatures under the fog rose to 250 degrees. At 0800 today the fog lifted. The land is scorched bare. 90 to 95% of humanity is gone.
3) The fog caused wild climatic fluctuations, the jet stream is whipping up and down reaching from space to the surface causing localized temperatures to plummet to -250 degrees. Within this “footprint” a previously unknown weather condition can occur. dubbed a “snow blitz” these resemble an upside down tornado. Spinning clockwise the downdraft concentrates the cold and draws the moisture out of the air. The snow blitzes deposit “blivits”, slabs of ice on the surface 100 to 150 meters across, 60 to 80 meters high and 3 to 40 km long. (That must be what I saw on the flight in)
Helga walks in gets a cognac and a beer and walks over towards me. I stop her with, “The shows about to start, lets go outside and watch.” We stand with the others facing south. The gunfire seems louder than it was yesterday. Helga sips on her cognac takes a swig of beer, frowns, dumps the cognac in her beer and chugs it. She looks for a trash can then just tosses the shot glass over her shoulder. What difference does it make?
A woman In fatigues glances over her shoulder and says “Oh, Hi Walt.”
“Who are you?”
“Are you following me?”
“Yes.” She has the feather in her hair. Weird Shit Man.
On the horizon I see a flash of light, a moment later another, then another increasing in brightness as they approach flash, flash, flash, flash, flash, FLASH, FLASH, FLASH GPS must have failed, they’re hitting the base. FLASH,Flash…..
FLASH, FLASH, I try to cover my eyes, somebody pulls my hands down, FLASH,
“He’s starting to come around, captain”
I open my eyes to focus in on a plump bald man with glasses. He’s putting a small flashlight in his breast pocket. He is wearing a pink jumpsuit a caduceus on his collar and what looks like a daisy embroidered on his left breast pocket. The doctor helps me sit up. My mouth tastes like a camel shit in it. He puts a plastic bottle with a suck tube to my lips. I suck. A cinnamon taste, not great but better than camel shit. I glance around, as much as I can, nothing seems to bend. Looks like a sick bay on a ship with pink decor. A faggot looking guy wearing pearls in a gold jumpsuit with daisy minces over to me. Ripppp, Ripppp, Ripppp. I can’t decide if the sound comes from his shoes or his butt. If the latter he’s a flatulantist par excellence. A real artiste. Best squeeze farts I’ve ever heard.
He shoves a hand in front of my face, “How many fingers do you see?”
“five,” I respond automatically.
I look more closely, “six” Yup, the guys got six fingers.
“OK, put him in the infirmary and start on the next one. The captain minces out. Rippp, Rippp, Rippp. The doctor brings a wheel chair over.
Rippp, Rippp, Rippp, Rippp, Rippp, Rippp
He helps me into it, I rock back and forth experimentally, Ripppppppp, ppppppppiR. Some kind of velcro type stuff. I’ll just ignore it.
He pushes me down the hall to room 24, inside it’s a cabin, bunk, chair, fold down desk and terminal all in baby blue. “This is your cabin, wait awhile till you try to get out of the wheelchair.” He walks out and hurries down the corridor.
I roll over and look at the terminal. It displays:
8:11 AM April,1,2024
Press any key
What key? No keyboard, nothing underneath, no buttons, WTFO? I press a red dot in the upper right hand corner. A standard 101 keyboard appears with a touchpad to the right, half a dozen extra buttons to the left. The desktop is smooth. Through trial and error I find the keys to the left control comfort functions, raise and lower desk, adjust angle etc. Feeling proud of myself I press a key at random. Nothing. Another. Nothing. “How the fuck do you press any key?”
The computer answers in a woman’s voice “To activate the press any key function annunciate “press any key” or if in manual mode press the “any” key. A red circle pulses around an unnoticed key above the arrow keys labeled “any”. “press any key” I say “lose the keyboard” The keyboard disappears.
The welcome screen is replaced by a visage of captain faggot. “Good morning, as you are no doubt aware, we have arrived at G-3757 dubbed RRB by the crew for red rubber ball. After all the exists have been upped and recovered, there will be an situation meeting in the main lounge, watch the orientation I have prepared and welcome again to the Daisy Mae.” The terminal goes back to the welcome screen minus the message waiting.
“What is an exist?”
“Exist, to have form, to live, to…”
“Not that, as a noun.”
“Exist does not have a noun form.”
“Whatever the captain said in his little welcome speech.
pause, “I think you are referring to exists,” the word X’ists appears on the screen. “He was referring to Xeno___ists, for instance you are a Xenobiologist, a specialist in alian life forms. Other examples are xenobotonist, xenolinguist or xenoxenologist which of course is a specialist in alien life form alien specialists.”
“Of course,” I respond, “Who is Daisy mae?”
“Daisy Mae is the crews name for this ship, the DSE-M (DeepSpaceExplorer), 13th in the series.”
“Show me the orientation”
I watch the orientation, this isn’t a boat, it’s a spaceship at the end of an interstellar voyage to a star system 10 light years distant. The ship uses the null zero space drive which gives it an almost infinite source of fuel and reaction mass. The dandilion is in fact a representation of the Daisy Mae. The petals capture the electrons and protons popping in and out of space at the quantum level as predicted by the heisenberg uncertainly principle These are stored seperately in magnetic “Thermos Bottles” until combined in the engine to produce hydrogen, oxygen and water. Using the strong force, it is a thermonuclear reactor in reverse.
Measurements and spectographic analysis from earth showed that RRB had 5 planets, one with a high level of oxygen.
I notice that there is no gravity.
I’m wearing a pink hospital gown with little daiseys imprinted on it. One of the kind split down the back with your ass hanging out. I decide to put on something more substantial. The captain might come around and ask me to pick something off the floor. (I did, after all, ask for a nightmare). I find some underwear in one of the bottom drawers, they’re baby blue with little daiseys on them. What difference does it make? The door snicks open behind me. I straighten up in horror but it’s only a nurse.
“Here’s some MOM” She hands me a blue bottle with racing stripes on it. It says Turbo Milk of Magnesia.
“Your GI tract hasn’t been used for 12 years, if you get stopped up, take some of this, you know the saying, MOM, your true blue friend. With friends like this, who needs enemas.”
I lay on the bed to wait for the meeting and wake up.
Chime, Chime, “There will be a status meeting of all the X’ists in the lounge at 7:00 PM. Dinner will be served in the dining area at 6:00 PM.” Chime
“What time is it?”
“Put a clock on the terminal.”
“5:03 appears on the screen.”
I put on a jumpsuit, blue with the daisy. The slippers have that velcro stuff on them.
Rooting through the drawers, I spot the cell phone given me by airman Penski. I turn it on, USAF, 5 bars. Impressive. On impulse I press and hold the 1 button.
“Sergeant Penski Here.”,
“Hi airman this is Colonel.”
” I’m a sergeant now, where are you?”
“Out of town, Airman, I had to leave suddenly, what happened at Baghram?”
“I’m a sergeant, The bombardment from the Insipid worked. We pretty much wiped out the shitheads. Soon after you left we evacked back to the Rocky Republic, well, it was the USA then.”
“What’s the situation now, airman?”
“I’m a sergeant. We made out better than we thought. We’ve got about 4 million population in the Rocky Republic which extends from New Mexico to Calgary. The Sierra Confederation has about 3 million. We are allied in a war against the Aztlan Empire, that’s whats left of Mexico.”
“Got to go now airman, call you later.”
“I’m a …”
I hang up.
I check the manufacturer of the phone, it’s a Nookiea 69.
A cat comes bounding into the cabin….on the ceiling …. ripp,ripp,ripp,ripp….ripp,ripp,ripp,ripp and jumps to the floor, boink, boink. “Let’s go, Its chow time.” The chime chimes, it’s 6PM . It jumps back to the ceiling and exits. ripp,ripp,ripp,ripp….ripp,ripp,ripp,ripp I go to the door and follow it down the hall. Snick, the door shuts.
The dining area consists of about a dozen tables scattered about. The decor is lime green. There are about a dozen people wearing various colored jumpsuits. Most are blue (X’ists), 1 gold (captain), 2 pink (medical) and two white (?). The cat is on the ceiling eating out of a bowl. Must be electrostatic force holding the feed in. Some people are seated, the rest are lined up at a dispenser in the wall. I join the line and receive a metal tray with green goop, brown goop, white goop and red goop on it along with a squeeze bulb. They are respectively, vegetables, meat, potatoes and apple sauce with the cinnamon drink. the texture must be necessary to hold the goop to the tray. The only utensil is a spork.
After the meal the captain calls for order.
“A rather disturbing occurance has occured. Six years ago, sidereal time, the Daisey Mae reversed orientation to begin deceleration right on time. For two years everything was right on schedule. We were receiving data, news, updates etc. from Woomera and Houston. on Apr 1 2020 ST Woomera went dead. As you know the links were established at Woomera and Houston so one would always be in range. When it came time for Houston to come online it was also dead.
The EOS station in Chile however continued transceiving with no problem. Exactly 24 hours later Houston and later Woomera came back on line. It was however only a carrier, no data, news, etc. A few weeks later Woomera went off the air, two weeks later Houston followed. EOS in Chile began modulating the signal in what we determined was morse code. Using the computer, we decoded it as saying that the personnel at EOS were unable to make any contact with the outside. Then, after a couple of weeks, it also went dead.” “Any Ideas?”
I immediately stuck my hand up and said, “Maybe the earth was enveloped to an altitude of 4000′ by a killer fog destroying 95% of the population. The Rocky Republic is allied with the Sierra Confederation in a war against the Aztlan Empire and is too busy to contact us.”…….”Just a wild guess.”
As I was leaving the captain was saying “Well, talk this over among yourselves and if anyone has anything constructive to say see me.”
Chime, chime the chime chimes. The terminal reads 7:01 AM.
“This is the captain, after you’ve had breakfast, come to the bridge, there’s been some new developments.” “By the way, there’s no record of you boarding the Daisy Mae.”
I ponder for a minute then “You may be right, out”
Getting out of bed I notice the blanket is attracted to the bed, like a magnet.
I pick up a bulb of kafe and head for the bridge. It was filled with X’ists. I am handed a briefing flimsy. We are orbiting the second planet out from RRB. The crew has named it Chloe
Primary RRB Red Rubber Ball, red dwarf,4700 degrees
System Cinder, Chloe, Crystal, Cloud, Cold
Cinder Mercury size close to RRB
Diameter 6000 miles
Precession 80 Deg (no moon)
Year 244 days
Day 18 hrs
Atmosphere Nitrogen 60%, Oxygen 40%, no trace gases
Water Surface 30%
Ocean 6000 mi N to S, 1500 mi E to W
Numerous seas and lakes
Topology No mountains
Tectonics None evident
Temp Equator 70F – 90F
Mid 60F – 70F
Pole -30F – -10F
Polar Ice Caps
Flora Swamp near Ocean
Jungle near ocean and lake melding into tundra near poles
Swamp near Ocean
Forest out from jungle
Plains out from forest
Desert out from plains
Fauna One large life form on plains, size of small pony
Artifacts Square buildings, 12′-18′ square
Signs of Cultivation
Crystal, Cloud Gas giants
Cold think Pluto
The captain sees me put down the flimsy and minces over. “What do you think?”
Me> “Might be intelligent life.”
Captain>”My thought exactly. I propose we send a landing party down near one of those buildings in a shuttle, get together a list of what you’ll need, I’ll handle the X’ists and provisioning.”
I get together my list, give it to the captain, go to bed and wake up..
“Talk to me” 7:00 AM
Captain> “We’re ready to go, look over the attached list of supplies, and see if we missed anything, grab some breakfast and report to the shuttle bay”
I look over the list, tents, sleeping bags, food, everything I wanted, bunch of unfamiliar stuff, two spare recharged magnetic thermos’ two blasters, two two needle guns, two sonic blasters, on a hunch I go rooting through the drawers again and find that little air marshals pistol. It has 30 rounds of High Explosive bullets. I slip it in my pocket. I grab some breakfast and head to the shuttle bay.
There are three shuttles, mounted vertically on launching rails/grapples. They are the lifting body type with no windows or visible means of propulsion. Dull aluminum in color with no seams visible.
I tell the captain “You forgot the water”
“No that’s an output of the zero null space drive”
Standing next to the door of the bottom shuttle is Tom, brown leather B2 jacket and all.
I walk over and say “Hi Tom, how did you get here?”
“I’m not Tom I’m the pilot”. I notice no one in this dream has a name, including me. Weird shit man.
“What’s your name?”
“Anyway Tom, I just thought I’d mention we probably shouldn’t land in the aliens field, no reason to piss him off at the get go.”
“I’m the pilot. Why don’t you sit up front with me and tell me where you want to land?”
The doc walks over and hands us each a small bottle with on-demand nose plugs.
“What’s this for, there’s plenty of Oxygen?”
“Yes, but the atmosphere’s thinner, about what you’d expect at 4000′, you’ll be ok unless you exert yourself. This is O2 spiked with CO2, about 2 weeks worth, there’s more on the shuttle.”
“What’s the carbon dioxide for?”
“To trigger the breathing reflex, remember there’s no trace gasses.”
Pilot at large “Everyone get on board and seated”
I climb in and go up front to sit in the co-pilots seat. Looks exactly like the Fokker 670 with no window. I look at the meter that was labeled ‘Prop Pitch’, It’s now labeled ‘Flux Polarity’ The rest of the meters are the same. Tom climbs in the seat and says “Screen on” then “cabin” The screen switches from forward view to cabin. Once he sees that everyone is seated he says “restraints on”
Whoof!! feels like an air bag went off. I am completely immobilized. Can’t move either.
“Forward View” we’re looking again at the bay door. A stenciled message says “Do not launch until the door is open” no shit!!
A message appears on the Hud “Bay evacuating, please wait” Must be Windows software. Presently the door begins opening revealing the stars beyond.
There is no sensation of movement. The stars begin streaming to the lower right of the screen and Chloe begins filling the screen on the left. A “roadway” appears on the HUD looking like a bunch of yellow logs banded together. It loops around the planet to disappear. Looks just like the one in Crypt. These must be the guys that sent those drones in Crypt. Weird Shit Man. As soon as the shuttle is aligned with the “roadway” Tom says, “restraints minimum” I feel the restraints loosen. I can move again.
“Tom, how long before we land?”
“I’m the pilot, 6.4 hours, get a nap”
“Good Idea” I wake up
I wake up to the shuttle being buffeted by a strong wind. I let go of the thought of what it would be like to dream about being in a dreamless sleep. It was giving me a headache. (How can I have a headache in a dream?) We must be in re-entry (or in this case entry, next time it’ll be re-entry) On the HUD the “roadway” drops out of sight over the nose of the shuttle. Must be at a high angle of attack. The buffeting lessens to a scream, then a whistle. Tom begins a series of slow lazy curves losing speed back and forth across the “roadway” It now connects to the surface. For the first time in this dream I can feel weight. Tom stops ess’ing and lets go of the yoke. The shuttle lines up on the “roadway” and continues it’s descent.
“Mornin, Tom, about to land?”
“I’m the pilot, Yup, pick out a place to land”
“How hot is the exhaust on this thing?”
“No heat is expelled, it uses a small zero null space drive.”
The landing site is in clear view now, it looks like cultivated fields, one acre each, with a small square building in the center. “Land just outside one of those fields” The “roadway” moves slightly, we descend and bump, we’re down. Tom notifies the Daisy Mae that the Daisy Petal 1 has landed and shuts down the shuttle. Tom and I decide to reconnoiter, might as well look around also while we’re out. Tom walks the perimeter while I walk over to the edge of the field and squat down. Looks like wheat,old Kansas wheat. Domesticated. Outside the field the cover is wild wheat. Off in the distance are a few trees, very tall with a ball of leaves? at the top. I don’t see anything like birds, insects, worms, only that spider looking thing that just came out the the building. (Pretty simple ecosystem, not much diversity) It walks directly towards us.
“Hey Tom, come look at this!!!”
Tom comes running over, “I’m the pilot, what the fuck is that?”
“It’s a wheat farmer, albeit not the type you find in Kansas.”
As I take pictures I’ll describe the creature as best I can. It has an elongated egg shaped body, 18′ diameter and 48″ long. It is supported by 8 very long legs based laterally that go up then down. Each leg is about 2″ in diameter ending in a thin, pointy claw. It has a 3″ diameter cylindrical neck 10″ long topped by an egg shaped head . There is an oval patch on the top of the head quartered by marbled patches on the top, and dimpled patches on the bottom. It is a shiny, opalescent black with no orifices, openings or features of any kind. It is completely ignoring us except when it hears a sound and turns it’s head towards the sound.
“Hello” I say. It turns it’s head towards me.
The xenolinguist rushes up “Stop, Stop you’re going to contaminate the first encounter and confuse it” He places a device on the ground.
“Hello” the xenolinguist says. Chastened by the expertise of the expert I return to the shuttle. Tom beckons me forward.
“Whatcha got Tom?”
“I’m the pilot. Watch this, the HUD clearly displays the alien and the xenolinguist. The linguist is saying “Hello” Tom raises the frequency and the alien fades out, he returns back to visual and the alien reappears. The xenolinguist is still saying “hello” Tom lowers the frequency and the alien fades out again. The xenolinguist is still saying “hello” He’s getting a little hoarse from the thin air.
I rush back out and tell the xenolinguist, “That thing thinks we can’t see him. Why don’t we send some sensor probes out to some other aliens, see if they make any sounds and re-broadcast them here” That should shake his tree.
“Well…OK…I’m not getting anywhere here. I’ll order 6 of them now but they won’t be delivered till the morning.” He picks up his device and we head back to the base camp. I crawl in the bed roll, go to sleep and wake up.
The Xenolinguist is shaking my shoulder.
XL>”Wake up, we’ve got results.”
XL>”They sent down six probes, all aliens responded with the same word”
XL>”Krick” “The tentative translation is “What the fuck is that thing?””
We carry the translation device back out to the alien. He beat us there. The XL lays it on the ground and turns it on. Krick says the device, Krick says the alien, “What the fuck is that thing?” says the device.
Then the alien does the oopsy-daisy. This is hard to describe in words but I’ll try. His head retracts flush, then he walks his tail end over his head until he is upside down. (It is clear, however, that upside down and right side up are arbitrary descriptions) His body just kind of rotates in place and his legs do all kind of weird things. His legs are double double jointed. He moves his head to 6″ from the device and emits a high pitched squeal. The XL picks up the translator and the alien does the oopsy-daisy again. The XL holds up one finger, the alien goes “ting”, The translator says one, two fingers, tang, two, three fingers The alien gets the idea and takes off, sounds like Rachmanonov doing a concerto in triple time on a xylophone. I notice his body has gone from mirror finish to rough. After 10 minutes he stops.
The XL is listening intently to his headpiece “Wow…wow…………wow” To me “He’s sent an entire mathematical system to the main computer. It’s octal (That figures, 8 legs) addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, square roots, squares, exponents, Logrithms, trigonometry, calculus differential and integral, quantum physics, a solution for the three (or any) body problem, a solution for TOE and what is being translated as a theory for time travel.” “Wait a minute…..Ok”. ” the physist says to give him something to prove it.”
We both sign a flimsy, put it in a zip lock and hand it to the alien. He grabs it with a fore claw and the bag disappears. He walks over to the shuttle and points to the skid. There is a zip lock bag trapped under the skid. I get Tom to move the shuttle over 6″ and the XL picks up the bag. Inside is the flimsy we signed. “WOW” we say in unison. Weird shit man. The XL tries to pick up the translator but the alien beats him to it. “Let him have it, I’ve got more” says the XL. We fashion a strap and hang it around the alien’s neck.
A woman in a black jumpsuit walks up and says, “Hi Walt.”
“Cougar Lou?” She turns her head and shows me the feather.
“Why do you look different every time I see you?”
“It’s a different cloak. Nexus likes to experiment.”
“Shh, I need to record this”
It’s going to take some time for my gasted to get un-flabbered. I go back to my bedroll, go to sleep and wake up.
Up and at ’em. The alien is waiting for me. He still has the translator around his neck. Rather than giving a blow by blow description, I will give a summary. For sake of this discussion I will refer to the aliens by the name “Krick”, this alien as (Krick) Prime, with a singular pronoun of hesh (He She)
The alien has two orientations, up and down, (purely arbitrary). Up is the traveling/mating orientation. Down is the feeding orientation. Hesh switches between up and down with the “oopsy daisy”
When up hesh has a black opalescent mirrored finish. Hesh is invisible to all frequencies except visual (probably a defense for a former predator) The acoustic pod (head) is extended on a 12″ long 3″ diameter “neck”.
When down hesh has a black scaled finish. Visible in all frequencies. The acoustic pod is retracted.
There isn’t any, exactly, although they do mate. There are two types of Kricks, prime is a Squark, the large one. The other type is called a Squirk, about 2/3 the size of prime. (prime has sent for one) I am assured by prime that they are identical (like a 10 oz pound of coffee, I guess) Each has a penis analogue and a vagina analogue. When mating the squirk goes down and the squark mounts hesh front to rear. Each injects larvae into the other which eat the host until the logic unit (brain) is all that’s left. At this point the larvae, take the logic unit apart and assimilate the pieces (128) This gives them a rudimentary racial memory. The remainder of the larvae die off. When the food is exhausted, the larvae break out and emerge as small krick. The squirk issues squark and the squark issues squirk. They only do this once.
Prime is confused about the concept of sex, male and female. I ask a female crew member over and prime humms her, “yes I see the difference”. See sensory input.
Krick have no eyesight but are entirely dependent on acoustics. The front of the acoustic pod has an oval tympanic membrane divided into four parts. The top two quadrants have marble sized bumps, the bottom two have pimple sized bumps. Each quadrant is routed through the neck to the logic unit via waveguides where the four signals are assimilated using a crossover network (cavitron) Sounds originating from the krick are canceled out.
There are two modes of input, passive where the krick listen only and active, where the krick emit a sonic pulse (Humm) and analyze the echo. Similar to sonar, but more sophisticated. The left and right quadrants give a stereoscopic hearing. There is a quality Prime calls depth, which provides a 3 dimensional image of the object hummed. There is also a quality called density, similar to ultra-sound. The concept of color is meaningless.
It’s been a long day, I go to bed and wake up.
The squirk has arrived. As promised it is 2/3 the size of prime. I’ll call hesh sub (prime). Unlike prime, sub acts like a juvenile, pestering everyone, and supremely curious. Prime tells me there may be as many as a million krick scattered across the planet, occupying the high plains. Hesh tells me that there is another sentient alien that occupies the jungle areas of Chloe. (They don’t get along). The krick can share sensory input among themselves, not telepathy, but just sensory input. (again, probably an adaptation to a extinct predator). Prime has learned to use the translator to communicate directly with other krick. He says something in English the translator gives the krickian equivalent which, since it is an external sound, is not filtered out.
Prime wants to visit the Daisy Mae. I point out that he is too big. Krick have pointed claws and would be helpless in free fall. Prime suggests sending sub, Hesh’l just tell sub to listen at everything. We fashion a harness and send Sub off with Tom.
We walk over to the building. It is small, about 16′ square, looks like it’s made of adobe. It has a single arched doorway with no door. The floor is covered with what feels like peanut shells. The interior is bare. Outside is a 6′ pile of what looks like wheat harvest. Scurrying around the pile are what look like upside down tea cups with short fat legs.
“What are those things”
“(noise) They’re pests, we can’t get rid of them.”
I think immediately of the cat “Might be able to help you with that”
I call back to the Daisy Mae.
“I have need for a cat, has Tom left yet”
“The shuttle pilot”
“No, just getting ready to, I’ll hold him up”
I explain the situation and ask him to send someone down who wouldn’t normally get to surface with the necessary stuff
“done” he replies.
While waiting we go over what Prime has received from Sub. They had been in direct communication while the Daisy Mae was above the horizon. As we are finishing up I see the contrail of the shuttle. We head back to the base. A female yeoman steps out with a cat carrier. I tell Prime to remain still so as not to spook the cat. She returns and comes out with cat food and accessories. Sub is de-harnessed and bounds over to Prime. “Weird shit man” he pontificates. Then to me “Weird shit man” Hesh repeats this with all members of the crew. Prime, when queried, says “Sub thinks that is a human greeting, that’s the first thing the crewman said when he saw hesh.”
I introduce myself to the yeoman
“Hi, I’m Walt”
“Who” she replies.
“I’m the yeoman, thanks for sending for me”
I tell Prime to hold still, so as not to spook the cat and tell yeoman to open the cage. The cat sniffs the food, then the dishes, then me, then the yeoman, then the food again. I tell Prime to move to see how the cat reacts. Prime goes into a bizzare frenetic whirling jig, body bobbing up and down, mixed with oopsy daisys, pointed claws stabbing into the dirt in a blur. The cat immediately appears on the yeomans head.
“YEOWWWW” goes the cat
“YEowww” goes the yeoman
“WOW!” I go
“Yeowww?” says prime
After we calm the cat down and disentangle it’s claws from the yeomans scalp, (she’s still going yeowww)
I ask prime “What in the hell was that?”
“That’s our “Dance of Death”, we use it when fighting. “That creature’s pretty fast, think it can catch those (noise)?”
“That was my thought exactly, we have a saying “don’t get in a quick contest with a cat.” “Let’s break for tonight and take him over tomorrow.”
I balance the cat food on top of prime and set off for his house, yeoman follows, then the cat at some distance. He definitely has mixed emotions about the wisdom of following a giant spider with his cat food. Yeoman instructs Prime on how to set up the feed bowl and water then hesh backs up 6′. Cat is fascinated by the critters, with only an occasional glance at Prime. Zap, he’s got one. “That creature is fast” repeats Prime. Cat brings the critter over and begins playing with it. Presently he tires of it and goes to get another. After an hour he has a dozen piled up, and is having to range further to find them. After two hours he can’t find any although he hopefully makes the rounds around the pile periodically. Evidently they are smarter than they look, I know there were over 100 there when we started.
I’ve been checking out the soil, it appears to be a clay like substance uniformly covered with 4′ of dirt. Prime assures me it is the same across the high plains. The ecosystem I’ve described so far is pretty much it. No flying thingies, no insect thingies. The Xenobotonist tells me that it isn’t really wheat, just looks like it. He’s over checking out the only tree within walking distance.
I’m going to finish up here and go check out those other sentients Prime mentioned. I tried an xray on Prime, no result, he’s opaque. Ultrasound works but it’s hard to get him to stand still. Hesh says it’s dis-orientating, but I finally get an idea of what’s inside. Other than the “brain” in front, and a few small organs to support the “brain”, a heart (kind of, it is a single chamber with a check valve and works like one of those hand operated siphon pumps) and the remainder is a large air bladder. This is not a lung but provides a negative pressure to suck air in through the skin osmotically like an insect with a pneumatic assist. Heshe’s stomach is on the outside, it picks up “wheat” grain in tiny pockets and the nutrient is absorbed directly into the blood stream. When exausted, the seed is dropped.
The ship reports it has located a colony of those other sentients. I return to the ship to evaluate the gathered data.
These are some ugly things, resembling somewhat a crab. they’re built on the same basic design as krick (8 legs, sonic patch) They’re calling them honkers because of the sound they make. The legs are shorter and stouter. There is a mouth? like a spiders. They have a top shell with the sonic pad at the front and a bottom shell with a mouth like a spider. Between the shells is a bellows, they breath by expanding and contracting the bellows like a concertina. Back to this sound they make, when they exhale it sounds like a duck call, when they inhale it sounds like a deer call. It’s quite a racket when a bunch of them are together. This colony has about 100 igloo shaped buildings. and a population of about 200.