A Valid Path
A VALID PATH
Blake Edwards was just your ordinary average Joe. Nearly every day, one would see the thirty one year-old strolling down to the street corner snack shop on his lunch break from the State Accounting Department in Dallas Texas. This almost predictable routine of Blake’s would continue except on the few occasions, he brought his own lunch from his suburban apartment that he shared with his cat. This trend would continue until…
Twenty-seven year-old Sherry Duncan, another state employee who worked in the Division of Revenue, caught the eye of the young man six months ago when she first took the job. She was an average looking girl with an attractive smile that hid any plainness about her. Her reddish-brown hair and striking green eyes was inviting for Blake to ponder on.
Sherry Marie Duncan was born and raised as an only child just outside of Dallas by her suburban parents who both were employed by the City of Dallas. She had never married; however, she was formally engaged to a young city police officer for two years until she ended the relationship after her discovery of his involvement with a married co-worker who worked his shift. After the breakup, she did not date anyone for a year as she was very reluctant to trust men. Her father’s own affair eight years ago with the city deeds clerk, who was not much older than Sherry, did not help things at that. Nevertheless, her parents reconciled and managed to salvage their marriage and are doing as well as can be expected.
Sherry had her share of opportunities as several men had asked her out on occasion. She would smile, give them a bogus phone number and laugh about it with her girlfriends. This little game of cat and mouse would continue until she had noticed a seemingly nice guy who gave her a warm smile on the elevator one day. He wasn’t as handsome as some, but there was something genuine about him that intrigued her interest. She decided she would wait and let the young man make the first move.
Blake had seen the young woman on numerous occasions as her Division was on the same floor of the twenty-two story state building. They would exchange glances, coming to and fro sharing the same elevator many times. This would go on until the slightly introverted Blake asked her for her cell number one afternoon. Surprisingly to Blake, she wrote the number down on the back of her business card and handed it to him with a smile. Blake was ecstatic, as he thought of himself some what deficient on the ability to attract women, especially those he were interested in. “Time would tell” as he told himself that afternoon.
Over the last four months, their platonic relationship began to blossom, at least in the mind of Blake. They shared a few lunch dates for the first month. Eventually, Blake finally got around to taking Sherry to a matinee movie on a Saturday afternoon.
On another Saturday, Sherry asked Blake to attend play which he knew he would hate, but would love the company, especially when Sherry interlocked her hand around his elbow as they were seated in the auditorium, when the lights dimmed.
Blake’s mind was a thousand miles away from the meaningless play. Sherry’s perfume was driving Blake wild as his imagination began to go in overdrive. He thought about Sherry cupping her hand around his arm as they strolled across the parking lot of the civic center earlier. It was an unusually cool evening as she had leaned into his right shoulder for warmth as they reached the front steps of the building.
Later that evening, over a hot cup of coffee and pie, at a downtown coffee shop, Blake could not even remember what the play was about as he looked into Sherry’s eyes, while she talked about the playwright’s ability to captivate the audience well into the final scene.
It was that particular night that Blake fell in love with Sherry. He drove her home in his used Ford Focus to her apartment on Seventh Street. He held her hand gently as they reached the front lobby of the apartment complex. Normally, as in the last few times, Blake would say goodbye before Sherry would board the elevator. This time would be different. Without saying a word, Blake went inside of the elevator with Sherry.
There they were, all alone. Blake noticed Sherry’s eyes as she watched the floor numbers tick by as the elevator ascended. Blake knew she was waiting for his move. It was now or never, he thought. In a moment, the elevator would stop, the door would open and someone would probably be waiting to get on. If he were lucky, he thought, he would have a few more seconds until they reached her floor.
Blake reached for her soft hand. She slowly moved in close to his body as she took her eyes away from the numbers and looked directly into Blake’s.
Blake discreetly took in a nervous, deep breath, moved his face in close to Sherry’s and…
The elevator stopped. Blake was out of time! Oh, how he wished for more time as the chime dinged and the door opened. The elevator had reached the thirteenth floor of where Sherry resided. As a gentleman that he was, he walked her to the door of her room.
Blake was surprised as Sherry wrapped her arms around his shoulders and led him into a long and meaningful kiss. It was their first kiss. Blake longed for more. He longed to stay for the night-just holding her next to him would be heaven, he thought. Instead, he politely excused himself for the evening. She respectfully agreed and with a smile, disappeared behind the closing door of her room.
There will be plenty of time, Blake thought as he felt euphoria from being newly in love. “Plenty of time,” he said to himself, smiling as he neared the elevator. However, time would become Blake’s worst enemy…soon.
The local news channel could be heard in the background reporting on some atmospheric disturbances around Dallas, but Blake’s mind was still in the clouds from the most wonderful night of his boring life that he could remember.
Blake Edwards was born and raised in a rural area just outside of Tyler, Texas. His father was a health teacher and head football coach at the local high school where Blake attended. Blake took no interest in sports which he knew disappointed his father. To compensate for that, Blake participated in his schools academic decathlon and in his junior year, they came in first statewide. Blake excelled in mathematics and the sciences, which he would go on to college and double major in both physics and mathematics.
His mother, a housewife who raised Blake and his younger sister of three years, was also a part-time nurse. Now, she was working full time since Blake and his sister Amy, are on their own. His father, by now moved aside from his coaching duties, and was coasting toward retirement as a vice principle at the same high school.
Blake was a little shy growing up, and only associated within a small group of friends. He felt intimidated from the jocks that seemed to have the girls swarming all over them. It wasn’t until his junior year at the University of Texas that Blake went on a “real date” with a girl who was in his advanced statistical analysis class, as they would study together in the campus library.
Sunshine Smith was her name; a lanky redhead that loved bandanas and tasseled shirts. She was an only child from her aging hippie parents who had a long history of being protesters back in the sixties during the Vietnam War era. Sunshine continued the tradition of being active on her debate team and anti War organizations within the college community. She was also part of World’s Aids Relief organization that had a small chapter among college students on the campus. On a few occasions, she would bring Blake along to one of their meetings and Saturday charity events to help raise money for their local cause.
Blake enjoyed Sunshine company immensely that spring semester as they would sometimes lie out on blanket, under the stars on clear nights, talking, listening to her CD’s and mapping out the constellations from a star chart.
On one of those nights, on a blanket in an open field, just outside of town, Blake had his first experience with marijuana, as Sunshine offered the drug to him freely. They listened to Sunshine’s favorite group Radiohead on her boom box, giggled, had a few beers, and for the first time in his near twenty-one years, experienced a sexual encounter. This would not be the only time the young couple would engage in theses extra curricular activities. This would go on until Blake discovered her on-going relationship with a musician who was in a heavy metal grunge band on campus. Of course, Blake was heartbroken and ashamed of his risky behavior as he thought about his moral upbringing from home. Nevertheless, the experience made Blake a stronger person and less naïve of others. A year later, Blake went on to graduate with a 4.0 average in 1998.
Blake stood nearly motionless, as he gazed at his shave cream-covered face in his bathroom mirror, remembering Sherry’s face as they interlocked their lips before saying good night that evening. The sink water continued to run at a slow stream while the TV rumbled in the background. Blake wondered how he would look with a beard as he studied the shape of the cream over his face. He wondered if his new girlfriend would like him with facial hair. With that thought, he moved in close to the mirror, parted his lips, and kissed the mirror, smearing shave cream in a circular pattern on the glass.
He chuckled to himself, and then wiped the mirror clean with a wash cloth. At that moment, the lights flickered as if the power was getting ready to go off then returned to their full capacity.
After finishing the daily male ritual of shaving, he wondered back into the living room and headed straight for the TV. The power surged again as the lights flickered. He picked up the remote and switched to the music channel just as a Breaking Benjamin video was in progress. He sat down on his vinyl recliner, picked up the TV guide and began to stroll through the pages. In the meantime, the TV kept blinking out as if loosing a signal. With nothing interesting to watch, he put the magazine down, turned the TV off and headed for bed.
Blake lay on his back in the dark of night, as he stroked his tabby cat’s fur, which was lying on top of Blake’s stomach. His thoughts pondered on Sherry, who was to Blake, becoming the love of his life. He visualized the future of having her as his wife and mother of his children. He would not rush things he thought, but at the same time, he did not want to move to slow as his insecure thoughts visualized a handsome stranger sweeping her away from him. With that thought, he rose up in bed and looked at the clock. It was Saturday, September 22, 2007, 11:24 P.M.
Would she still be awake? He thought, as he eyed the cordless phone on the night stand.
Blake reached over and grabbed his phone then dialed Sherry’s home number.
The phone rang three times before her sweet hello permeated his ear canal.
“Sherry? This is Blake. I…” Blake paused.
“Hey Blake, is something wrong?” Sherry asked as her voice had somewhat of urgency about it.
Blake wanted so bad to spit out the three words that would sum up his feelings toward her. He quickly thought of how she would react if he came right out and expressed his love for her.
This is cheesy, thought Blake. This is supposed to be done in person! After all, we only kissed one time!
He thought of what the circumstances would be if she did not have the same feelings for him.
I’m such a dweeb! Blake told himself mentally.
“Blake, are you ok?” Sherry asked, interrupting his mental bashing.
“Uh…yeah, Sherry, I uh…just wanted to tell you once again of how much I enjoyed our evening together.”
Sherry chuckled lightly. “Oh, I thought something was wrong with you. Uh, yeah, I enjoyed it too Blake.”
“I…uh…you are very special to me. I just want you to know tonight was one evening that I will never forget.”
There was a pause on Sherry’s end.
I blew it! Blake thought.
“Thank you, Blake. You are very sweet. I won’t forget it either. I hope…we can continue to spend some quality…time together.”
Blake closed his eyes and exhaled lightly. “We have all the time we need,” He said with a smile.
The phone began to have some static drowning out something Sherry was saying.
“Hello? Sherry? Hello?” Blake replied franticly, as he faintly heard Sherry’s voice on the other end calling his name.
The phone went dead.
“Crap!” Blake blurted out, as he tried to call her number again.
To no avail, the phone did not even have the annoying static sound. It was completely dead.
Blake slammed the phone down on its base, startling his cat as it jumped off the bed.
He grabbed his cell phone off the nightstand and franticly speed dialed her cell.
There was nothing but a fast busy signal coming through. He tried again getting the same result. He glanced over at his clock which was now flashing “12:00” as if the power had been off.
“What is going on, a storm somewhere?” He muttered to himself as he got up and walked over to his window.
Blake opened the blinds and gazed out over the city streets of Dallas. The stars, of what few he could see from the city glare, were shining. He noticed a few street lights flickering on the street below.
“Somebody better get this power grid checked, Toby,” Black said, talking to his cat.
Blake closed the blinds, reset his clock to the time on his cell and tried calling Sherry from his home phone again.
No phone service.
He tried his cell. Still, the fast busy signal was all he could hear.
Felling defeated, he lay back down in the bed, turned the covers up and looked at the clock once again. It was 11: 33 P.M.
Blake took a deep breath and soon, drifted off to sleep.
Blake felt a jolt of pain as Toby scratched his chest, jumping off the bed.
Never in the four years of the cat’s life had he acted in such a terrifying manor.
By the time Blake rose up to a seated position, Toby had already scampered through the house, running as if his nine lives depended on it.
Being half asleep, Blake glanced at the clock on the night stand. It was 11:50 P.M. as something grabbed Blake’s attention. He looked toward the window. There was an eerie, reddish, glow that seemed to come from outside of the window. Blake reacted by jumping off the bed and walked slowly toward the glowing window. His body began to tingle as if tiny electrical impulses were firing through every cell. He discovered that his steps became slower and he felt as if he were being held back by some kind of force field.
The light became brighter, as it seemed to encompass the entire window, and shooting streaks of light through the cracks of the blinds, illuminating the bedroom.
Blake’s ears began to ring as he felt vibration throughout his body. He tried to walk but was frozen in his steps. His first thought was that it must be some kind of high tech terrorist attack, but there was no sound save for the ringing in his ears.
Blake became terrified, as the light seemed to be crawling through his window pane. He felt a sudden pressure as if being inside an airplane at high altitude. By now, the light completely encompassed the room. Blake slowly turned his head around, and through blurry vision, he noticed his clock on the stand, was racing forward through the numbers, over and over until it was just a blur.
The room became distorted as if the walls around Blake started to bend, stretch and close in around him. Blake began to wonder if he was awake, or dreaming?
The answer was all too real. The building began to disappear around him as he felt himself floating. It was if he were inside of a bubble, floating in space. To his horror, just before losing consciousness, he slowly lifted his head and noticed the night sky was filled with streaks of white light as if thousands of meteors were streaking by.
The last thing Blake noticed was a strange sound of what sounded like rushing water coming from all around him. He looked around one last time, but could see nothing but the bright white light that seemed to be inside of, as well as outside of his suspended body.
Just before opening his eyes, Blake could here voices around him. He thought he had turned the TV off before going to bed. The voices increased in volume as they began to get excited. He could hear others yell for their associates. Blake heard more voices as they seemed to be closing in over his body. It was not the TV. They were in his room.
Slowly, Blake began to open his eyes. They hurt. His whole body hurt. He felt a cold surface below his body. He suddenly remembered the strange dream he had of the bright red light. He slowly turned his head to where he thought the night stand would be. It was gone! He turned his head up and noticed, through blurry vision, strange faces looking down at him behind a transparent glass.
“He’s awake! He’s awake!” a male voice shouted.
Blake blinked his eyes several times as they slowly began to focus. He noticed at least eight faces looking down, each with white surgical masks on.
Have I been in some kind of accident? Have I been through surgery? Blake thought.
For the first time, he felt cold. He began to shiver as his own skin felt cold to the touch. He realized he was near naked except for the white underwear he had on when he went to bed.
“Increase the temperature, please,” a male voice ordered.
Blake could feel the temperature rising a bit as he watched what seemed like a multitude of doctors around him.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the retrieve was a success! We have Dr. Blake Edwards!” Came a male’s voice from what sounded like a speaker from somewhere in the strange room.
There were cheers and applause coming from around the room. Blake tried to comprehend why they mentioned a Dr. Edwards. It made no sense! Nothing did now.
Blake slowly lifted his trembling arms and touched the glass that was about three feet above him. It was cold, very cold. His muscles hurt. He felt stiff. Something wasn’t right.
He tried to speak, but his voice only muttered a whisper. His vocal cords felt strained and his mouth was parched.
“It’s alright Dr. Edwards. You will be fine in a few moments. As soon as the atmospheric pressure adjusts you can exit the pod,” One of the men said, behind the glass.
“Where am I? Why are you calling me…Doctor?” whispered Blake as he struggled to speak.
“We will explain everything, Dr. Edwards. First, your body needs to be acclimated before you can exit the pod,” the man standing next to the glass said.
“Pod, what are you talking about? Acclimated? What’s happened to me?” Blake asked as he discovered that his voice was beginning to come back. “Have I been in some kind of horrible accident…or was it some kind of attack?”
“You will be back to full capacity in a few minuets, Doctor. Again, we will explain everything once you regain your full faculties.”
“Explain? Explain what…Where am I?” Blake asked again as he looked around the brightly lit and solid white room.
Blake became silent as he studied the large room. It was bright, but strangely, he could not see any light fixtures. The light seemed to be coming from within the walls. There were several computer monitors that seemed to be built into the walls that were displaying graphs and numeric data. He looked close and could see another glass wall with a door, just beyond his audience. It looked sealed. He began to make out what looked like an observation booth beyond the door as it was elevated slightly. There were three figures looking through the observation glass. He noticed they were not dressed in solid white as was the others around him. It was three males which one of them looked to be older.
Blake slowly lifted his hands to his head and stroked his dark hair. He noticed that he was becoming warmer and his joints were not as stiff. His pain began to subside as well as his splitting headache.
After a few minuets, the pod began to buzz as the top of the glass slid back automatically.
The first thing Blake noticed was the smell of the room. It smelled like something scorched, or more like an electrical fire from a burned out circuit.
Two of the doctors reached down and slowly lifted Blake to a standing position. He was helped out of the pod and led down the three metallic steps to the white floor. Another doctor put a smock on Blake as soon as he came to a stop.
The crowd of doctors began to applaud as they faced Blake.
“Would you please tell me what is going on?” Blake asked the man on his right in a strained voice. Blake tasted metallic in his mouth .
“You will know everything, in time, Doctor, but first we need to get you examined and make sure you are all here,” He said, cheerfully.
“Why…are you calling me Doctor?” Blake asked as he was being led over to a wall.
At that instant, the seamless wall began to open up and a gurney unfolded as if out of nowhere, all in a mater of seconds.
“Uh…what is that?” Blake asked as he tried to make sense out of what was happening.
“Just lay down on the examination table, Doctor and the sooner we get you checked out the sooner we will be able to answer the many questions that you have,” One of the doctors said.
Blake could tell that his legs were weak as the two doctors each held his arms. He stopped.
“Please answer me! Has there been some kind of…attack? Why am I in the hospital?”
“Everything is going to be alright, Doctor. Please, lie down on the examination table.”
“Uh…no! I won’t do it!” Blake exclaimed as he felt the two doctors tug him lightly.
The two doctors looked at each other, and then glanced back through the door as if waiting on instruction from the men in the observation deck.
“Good day, Doctor Edwards,” Came a man’s voice from somewhere within the room.
Blake looked around but could see no sign of a speaker in the ceiling, or along the smooth walls. The voice seemed to be coming from within every area of the room.
“I know you have many questions and I promise you, that by the end of the day you will understand a little more that pertains to your present situation. In order for you to do that, you must be checked over first. This will only take a few seconds and the sooner you cooperate, the sooner you will know where you are, and why you were brought here,” The voice said.
Blake was speechless as he silently agreed. He began to move forward toward the solid white examination table, gazing around at the dozen figures in white sterile medical suits, watching his every move.
“Thank you, Doctor,” The voice replied.
“I’m not a doctor,” Blake mumbled as he reached the table.
Blake was helped up on the table by the two men. He felt something vibrate lightly under his body as soon as he lay down. He tried to move his arms and legs but was if he was frozen. He surmised that there was something about the table that kept his body from moving. He wondered for a moment what kind of hospital would have such advanced technology. Then a thought occurred to him
“Am I in Houston? I know they have that advanced hospital there with the latest procedures for heart and cancer patients.”
No one answered as one of the doctors touched the wall above Blake.
“That’s it, right? I am at Houston. I…must have contracted something…right?” Blake asked, looking straight up.
A computer screen seemed to appear out of nowhere within the wall. A small instrument, like a stainless steel antenna began to move out of the base of the computer screen. Several beams of blue light came from the metal object as they randomly shot their beams over Blake’s entire body. Blake felt nothing as the beams disappeared after about ten seconds.
Several doctors began to crowd around as they gazed at the large screen.
“Maximize.” one of the doctors ordered.
Immediately the image covered the entire wall as the doctors stood back and observed.
Blake could see out of the corner of his eye the image of every part of his body from the organs all the way down to his DNA.
The vibration stopped under his body as the computer screen disappeared from somewhere in the wall. Blake could now move freely. He noticed that the doctors began to remove their masks. They were congratulating each other. Some he noticed, were women, all with short cropped hair, and attractive. Each person appeared to be well groomed and manicured.
“Everything is in order. The transport was a complete success!” the voice said from within the room.
Blake rose to a seated position with a stunned look on his face. “What did you just do?” he asked.
“We told you it would only take a few seconds, Doctor. Now, that wasn’t bad was it?” the voice replied.
Blake looked around the room at the smiling faces staring back at him as if he were some kind of an exhibit.
“Uh…no…I guess it wasn’t. So, I have been transported to somewhere else, huh?”
“Doctor Sutton will be with you momentarily. He will be the one who will answer your questions, Doctor Edwards,” One of the other doctors said. “However, please remain seated on the table.”
Blake looked straight ahead as he noticed a male, who appeared to be in his mid forties coming trough the vacuum doors as they opened automatically. He had a smile on his face just the same as the others. He was not wearing a surgical mask and had on blue suite that looked to be similar to some kind of jumpsuit. His hair was a salt and pepper gray that lay close to his head. Blake noticed the dark circles under his eyes as he stood directly in front of him.
“Welcome, Doctor. My name is Dr. Noah Sutton,” The man replied as he extended his right hand for a hand shake.
Blake looked down at the man’s hand but did not return the shake.
“Would you please tell me what is going on…sir?” Blake asked as he remained seated on the table. Blake noticed some kind of strange triangular emblem on Dr. Sutton’s upper right corner of his suit, but no name tag as one would expect.
The man turned and gazed at the other spectators in the room. He said nothing. The others began to leave the room.
“Where is this place?” Blake asked
Dr. Sutton waited until the last associate was out of the room before speaking again.
“I understand your confusion, Doctor. After all, this has been quite an ordeal for you.”
Blake squint his eyes as he studied Dr. Sutton’s pleasant demeanor. “So, this must be some kind of government hospital out in the desert somewhere. Huh?”
Dr. Sutton smiled. “I guess you can say that, Doctor.”
“Why do you keep calling me doctor?” I’m not a doctor. You must have me confused with someone else. I mean…I am just a State employee in the accounting Division. I’m…a nobody!”
“Alright…Blake, Is that better?” Dr. Sutton asked.
Blake remained silent as he gazed back over the shoulder of Dr. Sutton and noticed some of the doctors had entered the observation booth.
“I assure you…Blake that you are quite important and there is no mistake. We do have the right individual. As a matter of fact let me give you some proof.”
Blake shook his head as he became more confused by the moment.
“You were born Theodore Blake Edwards, in Tyler Texas on the twenty-fourth of May, nineteen seventy-six. Your parent’s names were Michael Edwards and Cindy Harrison. You have a sister who was three years younger called Amy. You graduated at the top of your class in high school, in Tyler on the twenty first of May, nineteen ninety-four. You attended and graduated with honors at the University of Texas on the eighth of May, nineteen ninety-eight. You earned a bachelors degree both in Physics and in mathematics. You were unemployed for several months but took a government job with the State of Texas as an accountant in October of nineteen ninety-eight, where you remained until…September two thousand and seven.”
“What do you mean…until September two thousand and seven? Blake began to breath uneasy. “Have I been in some kind of…coma or something? Please…would somebody tell me what is going on?! I need …where’s my cell phone?” Blake eased off of the table as he began to pace around the room nervously.
Dr. Sutton observed his behavior; showing some concern on his face. “Blake, I’m sorry, your …cell phone is not here.”
“I…I got to call Sherry. She has got to be worried about me!” Blake said as he looked around the room.
“I’m sorry…Blake. Even if your…cell phone were here, you would be unable to contact her. Please…set back down on the table and let me explain further,” Dr. Sutton replied with an outstretched hand gesturing toward the table.
“Uh…ok…this hospital has phones, doesn’t it?” Blake asked in a near panic.
“No.” Dr. Sutton replied.
“What do you mean? What kind of a hospital is this?”
“Please…Blake, sit down and try to relax. There is a lot you need to know.”
“No! I want to call Sherry!”
“Your wife is not able to…”
“No, she’s not my wife. She is only a girlfriend. I…”
“Oh, that’s right. That hasn’t happened yet.” Dr. Sutton said almost apologetically.
Blake looked at Dr. Sutton strangely as he stood directly in front of him. “What did you just say?”
“Forgive me. Please…Blake, sit down.”
“I’m fine standing on my own two feet. Would somebody, just tell me, what’s going on!?” Blake asked looking back at the observation booth as his voice began to rise.
“Very well…Blake,” Dr. Sutton began.
Dr. Sutton began to pace the room slowly as he walked in a circular pattern around Blake.
“What you have experienced was…you have been transported through time…Blake. You have been transported to the future for a very important reason. I know this sounds unbelievable to you right now, but you will soon find…”
“You got to be kidding me!” Blake interrupted. “You expect me to believe some kind of asinine story as this? Oh…uh…I get it…this is some kind of test right? I mean something happened to me last night and I was brought here for some kind of…psychological evaluation, huh?” Blake asked as he looked sternly at Dr. Sutton.
“No, Blake, this…was and is no kind of test. This is…”
“So, how long have I been out?” Blake asked, cutting Dr. Sutton off again.
Dr. Sutton paused and exhaled. “You were transported ninety years into the future.”
Blake didn’t know if he should laugh or what. The joke was not funny.
“Ninety years?” Blake replied almost in a sarcastic tone.
“That is correct, Blake.”
“So…help me out here…uh…what year would that be…uh…my mind is kind of in a fog,” Blake replied shaking his head.
“The year is twenty ninety-seven…August, fourth to be exact,” Dr. Sutton answered, with a serious expression.
Blake sniggered lightly as he continued to gaze around the room. He thought for a moment how to respond to such a bizarre statement.
“Ok…say I go along with your little game and I…cooperate with whatever you hope to accomplish; can I go back home? I got to be at work at eight…uh in the morning. This is Sunday, right?”
Dr. Sutton did not respond. He just stood expressionless face to face with Blake.
Blake rubbed his hand through his hair. “Ok, what next?” he asked as he looked around the room once again.
“We are aware that it will take some time for you to be convinced…Blake. That is why we have taken every measure to assure you that what has happened is indeed reality. Therefore, I urge you to be patent with us so you will understand the reasons why you were chosen.”
Blake backed up against the table and seated himself. “First, why did you refer to me as Doctor? I never went to medical school or have a PhD.”
“Not at your present time, but…you did at a later date.”
“I…did?” Blake replied sarcastically.
Dr. Sutton exhaled and interlocked his fingers as if trying to think of how to make things more believable. He paused and began to pace the room again.
“Let’s just say you were a late bloomer, Blake. At your…present time, you were romantically involved with a woman by the name of Sherry Duncan, is that correct?”
“Yes, uh…is she ok? Do you know where she is? Oh, God! What have you done with her?” Blake began to exclaim.
“She was not involved. She remained fine.”
“What do you mean; remained? Where is she?” Blake asked again.
Dr. Sutton raised his hand. “Please…Blake, let me finish. You will find that most of your questions will be answered in a moment.”
Blake rubbed his forehead as he felt a panic attack coming on.
“You and Miss Duncan were married in Dallas on the twenty-sixth of July, two thousand eight. Two years later, you left your job and returned to college and earned your masters degree in physics at the University of Texas at Dallas in twenty twelve. You excelled in the masters program so easily that you continued your education at the highest level, earning your PhD in twenty fourteen.
It was during that year in which your first child, a son was born.”
“Wait a minuet! You are crazy! What kind of sick game are you trying to play on me, huh?” Blake yelled.
Dr. Sutton paused briefly and continued. “In the summer of twenty fourteen you and your family relocated to Colorado State University, where you began a teaching career as a professor in physics, quantum physics as a matter of fact.
Three years later, a daughter was born. You remained at University for six years before starting your research project on the mechanisms of quantum-space-time interface.”
Blake began shaking his head not believing what he was hearing. He wondered for a moment, about the night before.
“This must have been some kind of government test on citizens at random. Just be honest with me…Dr. Sutton! Was I chosen for some kind of psychological test? Was this a result of some kind of…new weapon? Just…tell me the truth and I will do…whatever it is that you want me to do, ok?” Blake replied as he watched Dr. Sutton approach him from the front.
“Blake, you are not being tested and the means that brought you to us are not any form of weapon. As a mater of fact, the reason you are here is the result of your on work. There is so much to explain.”
Blake was more confused as Dr. Sutton made no sense.
“Huh? I suppose if I don’t go along with you, you will zap me with your…ray-gun or something, right?” Blake responded sarcastically. “Alright, I will make a deal with you guys. I will listen to whatever you will tell me. Just promise me that after we are finished, you will…take me back to Dallas. I would hate to loose my job over this.”
Dr. Sutton did not respond as he could sense Blake’s frustration and confusion.
“We have something to show you during your first phase of assimilation. I want you to observe closely while we show you a demonstration of where you are and why you are here,” Dr. Sutton said in a more serious tone.
Dr. Sutton turned and faced the booth in the distance. He nodded his head as if giving someone a signal. Blake noticed that another man seemed to have activated something in the observation booth.
There was a faint hum, and then several different colors of light came from different areas of the room. The light beams seemed to be coming from the walls and ceiling, intercepting each other forming a three dimensional image in the center of the room.
It was a holograph. Blake had read of the technology in its infant stages in a Popular Science magazine that he subscribed too, but never had he imagined it being so vivid and advanced. It looked as if one could step right in the image and become part of the display.
Blake was astonished.
Dr. Sutton motioned for Blake to walk toward the 3-D image which was a swirling array of colors.
“What do you want? Are you saying that I walk inside of that thing?” Blake asked, reluctantly.
Dr. Sutton smiled, understanding Blake’s apprehension. “One has to be in the presence of the device to experience the images. I know this may seem somewhat frightening to you but this is just the beginning of you experiencing the wonders of our present world. It may also interest you to know, that this device is comparable to the television sets in your time. This is common technology of our day. Many citizens have this in their homes for program entertainment. Now, please…come. It is painless of course.”
Blake slowly rose off of the table and took four slow, reluctant steps toward the swirling colors. He could see that Dr. Sutton was waiting at the threshold with his arm stretched out.
Slowly, Blake stepped inside of the image with Dr. Sutton at his side.
Blake was in awe, as he noticed the blue sky above him. He was standing as if in downtown Dallas. He noticed that it was the present time around 2007. Cars, busses, trucks were whizzing by him as if he were actually standing in the middle of the street. The colors and sound were life-like. He instinctively tried to move aside as a Lexus sped right toward him. Part of the automobile just seemed to pass right through him. He turned and watched the tail end of the car speed away. As he turned back around, a cargo truck passed right through him.
“It’s alright…Blake,” Dr. Sutton said with a smile, raising his voice above the sound of the traffic. “Look around. This should be very familiar to you,” Dr. Sutton added.
Blake looked over to his right, it was the office building that he worked in. “Hey, there’s my office building! How are you doing this?”
Suddenly the scene changed. A female news reporter’s voice could be heard as the image displayed various events from around the world. He noticed they were standing right in front of the UN building in New York City. Blake was surprised to see unfamiliar sights as he gazed on the new Freedom tower of where the former World Trade Center towers once stood.
“Uh, why is that tower over there? I did not realize that it had been constructed so soon,” Blake said as another scene changed again.
“It hadn’t been built before you were transported, Blake. This is ten years later in twenty seventeen. Please, just be patient and watch,” Dr. Sutton said.
Blake was startled as he heard the reporter’s voice indicate that a Russian blockade had been compromised by Israeli troops over in the Middle East. Several thousand civilians were killed in the skirmish between American and Russian troops. Blake watched as he was now standing in the Streets of Jerusalem, watching tanks fire on each other.
“What is going on, now?” Blake asked, as bodies seemed to be lying at his feet.
“This is the start of a very serious cold war between the Russian Federation and the United States. This event led them to the brink of nuclear war. However, a silent treaty was signed and the world became a very dangerous place as thousands of advanced weapons of mass destruction were produced each year, causing a political stalemate between the two super powers once again,” Dr. Sutton answered as various scenes changed from around the world.
Blake felt himself being less skeptical of what he was witnessing.
“Ok…just a second. You are telling me that the Russians are our enemies now?” Blake asked.
“Pause” Dr. Sutton commanded. The images froze. “Well, not in this time. That is another issue that will have to be explained and has got to do with what you developed during your research…Blake.”
“So, let me get this straight. The Russians were our friends during World War Two and after that, they were the bad guys. Then, they were our friends again, and now you are saying they turned once again?”
“There is much for you to learn…Blake. Please, continue to observe,” Dr. Sutton said.
The images continued, showing different segments of world history and modern inventions with advanced technology. Blake was amazed at the presentation and technology.
He began to think to himself as he watched the visions scroll bye. He even thought that Dr. Sutton could be telling the truth after all. With that thought, he tried to mentally explain the experience as nothing more than some government experiment on citizens at random, using clandestine technology which the government would deny having. He wondered how many more citizens have been taken to this mysterious facility for this mind experimentation. Nevertheless, he convinced himself to “go along” and patronize them for as long as the experiment would last. He would hope that Sherry would not give up on him as he had no idea how long he had been unconscious or how long he would be subject to their silly game. But why? he thought. What could possibly be the outcome? Was this the government’s attempt to brain wash certain civilians into thinking that they were in another time? If so, how would they return them back to whom they were when the game was over? Surely, the government would not allow them to return with knowledge of this bizarre experiment.
Blake watched samples of news clips, entertainment programming, high tech game shows, which would allow the viewer to participate, as if on stage with other contestants, and scenes of vehicles who’s designs were literally out of this world. Space travel with nuclear propulsion was shown as the images went to and from a Mars colony and moon resorts.
All this was shown with 365 degree, three dimension, as if Blake stood in the middle of it all. Blake could only imagine something like this in his living room watching his favorite CSI episode. He repeatedly wondered why this technology was not marketed for the general population.
Something within the presentation startled Blake. Something frightening caught Blake’s attention.
“Hey, that looks like nuclear explosions. Where was this filmed?” Blake asked as he noticed the image was taken from within high in the atmosphere.
“Just observe, please,” Dr. Sutton answered in a sullen voice.
The images were disturbing. Nuclear explosions were filmed showing the destruction of major cities. The bizarre experiment, testing Blake’s reaction was not in least bit funny.
Blake wondered how and where the film was produced. The special effects were the most realistic he had ever witnessed.
“Uh, Dr. Sutton, why are you showing all of this destruction? Are you supposed to be convincing me that the end of the world has already taken place? What’s your point?” Blake asked skeptically
Dr. Sutton took on another serious look. “What you are witnessing is a recording of the Third World War. This took place on the twenty-fifth of February, twenty thirty-one. The United States, China, France and Great Britton allied against The Russian Federation, a unified Korea, India, Syria and Iran. Every country’s infrastructure was virtually destroyed. What few survived eventually died out.”
Blake turned and gave Dr. Sutton a glazed look.
“Well, you survived and all these people here at this…place…wherever I am. How can you explain that?” Blake asked.
Dr. Sutton exhaled loudly. “Many of the earth’s present inhabitants are decedents of the survivors and some, especially in the upper hierarchy of our society, are decedents of those who were put aside by governments for certain leadership qualities. We were given instruction on how to go about surviving once the war ended. We…”
“Whatever! Ok…uh…can I just leave now! This…so called game you are trying to play on me is getting ridiculous! I don’t want to see any more of this crap! Just…take me home…please and I promise I will say nothing to anyone about your experimentation farm or whatever this place is!” Blake replied as he looked around at the images of the burnt landscapes.
“You cannot go back, Blake,” Dr. Sutton muttered calmly.
Blake looked surprised and Paused for a moment. “Excuse me, what did you just say?”
Dr. Sutton retained the serious demeanor. “You will not be able to return to the past, or more precisely, two thousand seven.”
Blake began to get angry for the first time. The game was getting old, he thought. He gritted his teeth and thought of how to not embarrass himself.
“You people could get sued for this stuff you do. I mean what purpose is all of this? What do you people hope to accomplish?”
There was a short pause as Blake looked around the images in motion. He noticed there were scenes of construction as what appeared to be cities on large platforms high above the scorched ground. Transparent domes were constructed above each city. Trains and autos that seemed to hover above their tracks were shone transporting people to and from their destinations within these large metropolises. Blake caught himself looking in awe at the architect design of the towering buildings within the images. Shuttles and various satellites were shown orbiting the earth. There were pictures of beautiful resorts that were supposedly constructed on the moon, all under a self contained dome. Even vegetation was inside of these moon cities.
Dr. Sutton studied Blake’s reaction and waited for the right time to interject his thoughts.
“What you have just seen, is the reconstruction period after the Great War and what you are seeing now is our present time, in twenty ninety-seven. It has been sixty-six years since the Great War and our technology is advancing at a remarkable rate, thanks to the generations before the war. The computer data bases before the Great War were preserved for this reason, Blake. Without it, our society would have regressed to a barbaric world. Our technology is continuing to advance, but sadly…our species is…becoming extinct.”
Blake did not respond but turned and began to run in the opposite direction, within the images. No sooner than a few strides, Blake crashed into the solid wall of the room, and fell backward onto his back, nearly being knocked unconscious.
The images disappeared as Dr. Sutton motioned for the others to come into the room.
Blake moaned in pain as he was grasping his forehead.
“Just lay still, Blake,” Dr. Sutton replied as he knelt down next to Blake.
Soon, about four of Dr. Sutton’s associates entered the room and gathered around Blake.
“Get me out of here! I don’t want to be here!” Blake yelled as he continued to nurse his bruised forehead.
“Lift him up to the table,” Dr. Sutton told the other men.
Slowly the men lifted Blake, and placed him back on the white table. Immediately, Blake began to rise up but was pushed back down with incredible strength by the other four men, forcing him to lie down.
“What are you doing?! Let me go! You can’t keep me here!” Blake yelled, as he tried to fight off the arms pinning him down.
“Hurry, please!” Dr. Sutton replied as he turned in the opposite direction.
A female associate rushed over and gave Blake what seemed to be some kind of pneumatic injection along his left, upper arm.
The table began to vibrate slightly, making Blake unable to move once again. The four male associates began to let go of Blake’s limbs and backed away from the table slowly.
Blake began to feel very sleepy and unable to speak. His eyes began to be heavy as he took one last look around the room at his apparent captors.
“Just try to relax, Blake. You will feel better after you get some rest,” Dr. Sutton said as he gazed down at the drugged young man.
“Everything is on schedule ladies and gentlemen. The psyche phase did not respond as predicted; therefore, we will continue again tomorrow before the physical introduction,” Dr. Sutton said as he looked around at his audience.
Blake tried to make sense out of what Dr. Sutton was saying as he felt his eyes starting to close. He wondered about Sherry’s safety, as he longed for her. Just before he lost consciousness, he mentally told himself the experience was nothing but a bad dream.
Blake could here strange humming noises coming from around him as he slowly, awakened. He also could hear footsteps coming from all directions.
The air smelled synthetic and he noticed the metallic taste still in his mouth. He thought for a moment, that he was in a shopping mall as a faint sound of electronic music could be heard in the distance. Blake slowly began to open his eyes. His first glimpse was the strange, bluish-purple color of the clear sky above him with ivory colored buildings towering in each direction. He immediately felt the soft rubber mat that he was laying on. Before attempting to rise, he tried to make sense out of his location. He began to tell himself that he must have had some kind of blackout and that he wound up in a shopping mall somewhere.
Blake slowly moved his head to one side. He observed people dressed nearly alike, walking swiftly by, only giving him an occasional glance of minor curiosity. He turned his head to the left. What he witnessed brought him out of his slumber immediately. He rose to his elbows, then, completely to a seated position with his legs hanging off of the ivory bench.
The humming of the hovercraft was nearly faint. Four people, three men and a woman silently boarded the craft not more than thirty feet from where he was laying.
He slowly got off of the bench and suddenly noticed that he was dressed.
He looked down at his blue shoes with a soft rubber soul which resembled some kind of sneaker. They were comfortable. He also noticed that he had on a blue jumper that fit his body well. It had a top that was held closed by Velcro.
Blake gazed around at the people strolling by. Each one had similar jumpers on. A few children were walking with what seemed to be their parents. Strangely, no one was speaking aloud. The soft, bustle of footsteps was all that could be heard.
Blake gazed over at a gentleman that was standing by a decorative fountain. He was in an orange jumper and appeared to be watching as if some kind of policeman. There were no weapons at his side. Blake began to take a few steps in his direction. He gazed around at what appeared to be some kind of outdoor mall. Everything was pristine. No litter, or anything was on the surface of the walkway, not even garbage cans. Everything seemed perfect, but very strange.
“Good Morning, Blake,” A voice from very close by said.
Blake turned around and looked in each direction. The voice was very familiar. He looked over at the security cop, a young man who seemed just a bit older than Blake, who was watching his every move. Blake looked around at the people walking by, giving him indifferent and expressionless glances.
“It is quite alright Blake. You cannot see me; however, I can see you,” The voice said.
Blake recognized the voice which was that of Dr. Noah Sutton. But, where was it coming from? Blake briefly gazed around for some kind of external speakers. There was nothing but the smooth curvature of the ivory buildings. Blake hurriedly walked over to the gentlemen standing at the fountain.
“Excuse me sir, I need some help. Are you with the police?” Blake asked.
“What is it that you wish?” the young man responded with an empty face.
“Could you please tell me where I am? I seem to have had a blackout or something and wound up on that…park bench?” Blake replied, pointing over at the empty bench of where he was lying earlier.
Before the man answered, Blake was distracted by a hover car that flew by behind him.
“What…was that?” Blake asked.
“That is our means of local transportation, Blake,” Dr. Sutton’s voice answered.
Blake turned franticly around. “Where…are you? What…are you doing?”
There was no answer.
“Could I help you?” The cop asked.
“Yeah, could you please tell me where I am, and what city is this?”
“You are on South Avenue, St. Louis,” The cop answered.
Blake looked around in confusion, as he repeated the city name in a whisper, looking perplexed. He witnessed several more hover cars go by, each going about the same in speed.
“Blake, walk south. Follow the walkway and observe. We want you to look and see the wonders of our world,” The voice said.
Blake whirled around. “How are you doing this? This has got to be another one of your…high tech…illusions or something, huh? Answer me!” Blake replied franticly as he looked the security cop in the eyes. “I am still in your…lab, or what ever this place is. You can’t keep me here!”
“Touch the walls, Blake. Go ahead. Touch and see for yourself,” Dr. Sutton’s voice ordered.
Blake paused and walked over about twenty-five feet to one of the buildings. He gazed up to the top with its towering spire. He gently pressed his hands against the side of the smooth surface. It was ivory. Blake looked back at where the cop was standing. Once again, the cop was silently staring at him.
“How are you all doing this? Why? Why me?” Blake yelled back at the cop.
The cop did not answer.
Blake looked off in the distance, noticing strange aircrafts silently flying overhead with the backdrop of the blue-purplish sky.
“Dr. Sutton, where are you? Please, I want to talk!” Blake replied in a frantic voice.
“Keep walking down the street, Blake. There is so much you need to see to believe.”
Blake paused. He began shaking his head in disbelief. “No! This is all an illusion! This is nothing but one of your tricks again! I’ll prove it!”
Blake began walking toward the hover lane.
“Blake, what are you doing?” Dr. Sutton asked.
Blake continued to get close to the hover machines flying by at speeds that would kill a human instantly.
“I wouldn’t do that Blake. Please stop.”
The air from one of the hovercrafts blew Blake’s Brown hair around. He took one last step out into the middle of the street.
“I’ll prove it to you. This is all a fake! Watch it go through me!” Blake yelled as an approaching hovercraft neared him.
In an instant, the young man dashed over and grabbed Blake out of the way. Blake was surprised to see that the man was able to complete the task in such a speed that any ordinary human being would be unable to match.
He just looked at the young man in the eyes as they both were standing ten feet away from the street. The man still had his arms clutched around his waist as the machine flew by.
“How did you do that?” Blake asked. “I didn’t even see you run to me!”
“I am to protect and serve. You would have been killed instantly had the hover mobile struck you,” The man replied, unemotional.
Blake pause for a moment as the man released his strong grip. “Please, listen to me. I don’t know where I am or what this place is…but you have to help me! They have taken or…abducted me from my apartment in Dallas. I just need to go home. I will give you my parents name’s if that will help. You could also call my girlfriend. Her name is Sherry Duncan. Her home number is two one four, five, five, five, eight, one, six, two. Her cell number is…”
“Blake, you need to listen to me,” Came the voice of Dr. Sutton again, cutting Blake off in mid sentence.
“How are you doing this?!” Blake asked as he looked around in a circle. “I want do anything until you tell me how I am hearing your voice!” Blake yelled.
A few bystanders gave Blake a condescending glance as they walked by.
“Alright, you have a transmitter and receiver implanted deep inside of your ear canal. You…”
“What?! What did you all do to me?! Now, you are implanting stuff in my head?” Blake yelled.
“You don’t have to yell, Blake. Actually, you can whisper if you would like.” Replied Dr. Sutton softly.
Blake put both hands to his head and cuffed his ears.
“Please, Blake. You will understand soon. I promise,” Dr. Sutton said.
For the first time, Blake could tell that the voice was indeed coming from within his inner ear as cupping his ears did not affect it.
Blake stood back and silently, observed his surroundings for a moment. “So, wherever you want me to go, that will help me understand?” Blake asked in a normal tone.
“Yes. I want you to walk down the avenue and observe. The security officer will make sure you are safe. If you do not tarry too long, there is a bus that takes passengers around the city by the observation deck every fifteen minuets. Once at the observation deck, you will understand more as some of your questions will be answered. Now, please proceed down the avenue.”
Blake looked back at the security officer as he retained the same blank stare. Slowly, he took a step in the direction he was told. Out of the corner of his eye, he could tell that the officer was walking some teen feet behind him.
Blake began to stroll slowly down the walkway looking in each direction. He noticed the polished and pristine buildings that were remarkable built by apparent advanced architectural design. The buildings seemed to be rounded at the corners instead of square like the conventional design of the past. Strangely, there were no sign of visible windows as Blake gazed up along the ivory walls. There was no seems but one solid, polished surface that towered above.
As Blake walked along, there was a space of a few hundred yards between two buildings. He stopped and noticed that it was a park with trees, grass and flowers. There was a walk track that seemed to go around the perimeter and out of site.
Blake remembered his visit to New York City during college and strolling through Central Park. It was apparent, that this particular park was similar.
Blake turned and began walking in the direction of the grove of trees. He paused and looked down at the ground in front of him. There was a flower garden that contained rows of mums that led about fifty yards to where the row of rich green trees began. A red brick walkway snaked through the garden. Something was strange; very strange. Blake listened carefully and noticed that there was no sound of birds or any kind of insects. He knelt down and looked closely at the flowers. They looked perfect. They were too perfect, Blake thought. He tested his suspicion by bending over and smelling the pedals. There was no smell! He reached down and attempted to break one of the flowers loose from its stem. It would not break. Blake was shocked as he discovered that the flowers were some kind of plastic material, all attached to the plastic stem and stalk. He dug his fingers down into the soil. There was no soil! It was synthetic fibers that resembled natural soil.
As he raised his hands up slowly, he noticed that the small hole that his hands had dug began to go back to the perfect flat surface which was there before. He reached down and closed his fist around one of the flowers, squeezing with all of his might. When he let go, the flower opened itself up again, back to its original shape. Blake was astonished. He began breathing hard as he stood to his feet. He jogged along the garden walkway to the edge of the trees. They were perfect. There were no sign of leaves on the bright green synthetic grass. He put his hand against the trunk of the tree. It felt almost like fiberglass; however, it was a material that Blake had never encountered before. As he gazed up through the tree, the bright green leaves were motionless with not the slightest breeze. It was apparent that the leaves were made from the same plastic alloy.
He looked off in the distance through the grove of trees and noticed a few people were sitting on benches; all silent. He wheeled around and saw the strange security officer standing motionless, watching his every move from over fifty yards away.
“What kind of a place is this?” Blake asked, realizing for the first time that Dr. Sutton was listening and watching.
There was no answer.
“Answer me! Where am I?!” Blake asked in a somewhat raised voice.
“I told you, sir. You are in St. Louis,” a voice answered from within his head.
Blake was surprised that it was not Dr. Sutton’s voice that answered. It was the security guard’s! Blake knew that the soft reply of the security officer would normally never be heard from that far a distance.
He watched the peculiar behavior of the officer. He was standing as if he were a mannequin. Not a muscle moved from where Blake could see. It was the same stance that Blake first noticed when he awoke on the bench, from up the street.
“Dr. Sutton? Are you there?” Blake asked.
“You must precede on, sir. The station is only one block away,” The security officer’s voice replied.
Blake squinted and could have sworn that the officer’s mouth did not move.
Blake’s heart began to beat with a frightening pace. His breathing started to become irregular.
He suddenly remembered having some panic attacks before a few final exams and panel discussions during his college days. He remembered the last one, which was four months ago, before his first date with Sherry. It was a Saturday lunch date and later, the two would take in an afternoon movie. He quickly recalled how he would sit in his car, taking deep breaths, before meeting her in the lobby of her apartment building at noon, on that particular Saturday. He remembered finally gaining control and seeing her step off of the elevator in the lobby. He remembered of how just seeing her seemed to calm his nerves. He recalled her light skin with her shoulder length, dark brown hair, which seemed to bring out her green eyes. She was beautiful to Blake. She was the love of his life!
With that thought, he longed for her once again. Just to see her face, instead of this bizarre experience would bring solace, he thought.
He heard himself call her name softly, as he gazed around. Suddenly, his thoughts were interrupted by the officer’s perfect, articulate voice.
“Your reluctance and apprehension is to be expected. Please, proceed down the avenue.”
Blake in the middle of his terror was sure this time. The officer’s mouth remained closed while he heard his voice.
“How…how are you doing…that?” Blake asked nearly stuttering, as he walked slowly back toward the street.
The officer did not answer but continued to stand very still. As Blake approached the street, he could see some people strolling by in the background. They all were silent. It was as if no one spoke aloud in this strange city. Just before resuming his direction down the street, he watched the expressions on the people’s faces. They were blank. No cell phones, purses or anything. The people, nearly all adults, were of various ages and mixed races. However, in a strange way, they were all alike. There were no smiles. All looked to be somewhat a bit sad.
“What’s wrong with everybody?” Blake asked.
The officer took a breath and began to speak. “The citizens are displaying normal behavior, sir.”
“Then, why is no one speaking?” Blake asked, as the officer approached his side.
“It could be that there is nothing to talk about.”
Blake did not like the answer. Clearly, the officer was withholding the truth. Blake assumed he would get an answer soon, as they kept telling him.
After walking nearly a block, the walkway turned slightly and led to the bus station.
Blake noticed that at least fifty people were standing by the street, looking up at what appeared to be a rotating holograph image, just above their heads. It was as if it hovered in the middle of the courtyard. Above the image, Blake noticed the fluorescent red numbering that gave the date and time. To his astonishment, the time read:
5 August, 2097
As Blake and the officer grew closer to the image, Blake could see that it was clearly some kind of news broadcast. He noticed the men and women standing, silently staring into the images of world affairs.
Blake tried to listen, but there was no sound coming from the image. Blake was beginning to get freaked out.
“Uh…there is no sound coming from that thing,” Blake said, hearing his voice echoing around the courtyard.
The people just remained silent, as they hypnotically gazed into the image.
“If you want to hear it, repeat the words: ‘News Update.’”
This is crazy, Blake thought. However, he had nothing to loose at this point and everything to regain.
“News Update,” Blake muttered.
Immediately, the reporter’s voice could be heard inside of Blake’s head corresponding to the news report. He glanced back at the stone-faced officer. The officer just replied with a nod of his head.
Blake could not believe what he was experiencing. He watched in awe of the reports and images from around the world. Other cities were shown, each looking nearly identical of the other. Strange looking machines and means of transportation were shown as Blake watched in utter amazement. Cities on the moon were shown with their glass domes. There was a report of an apparent leader, shown being paraded through a city street somewhere in Europe, on a hover platform. He was waving to a large mass of people on both sides of the street. Blake was shocked to her the reporter’s voice mention: “World Emperor.” Immediately, a news flash cut to a space station that was orbiting the earth. Someone apparently had escaped from an orbiting prison.
Blake tried to make sense out of what he was experiencing. It made no sense. For the first time, he began to wonder if he was really in the future. Noting of what he had seen so far could be done in the technology of his time.
“Twenty ninety-seven,” Blake whispered softly to himself, as he watched the images of the news reports.
Just before turning his head away from the image, he heard a reporter’s voice indicate a possible meteor shower down in Australia.
“I don’t want to hear anymore of this,” He said as he looked at the officer.
“Say: ‘off.’ The sound will go away from your receiver,” The officer replied, who was standing next to him.
“You mean…that thing in my head…is some kind of radio?”
The officer did not answer.
Blake repeated the word: “off” As before, the sound vanished from his head. He noticed others had walked away from viewing the image while some more people approached. He heard a few whispers, of the others repeating: “news update,” as they listened in. Blake knew everyone must have the so called receiver implanted in their heads.
Blake noticed a hovercraft about thirty feet in length, floated up next to the loading ramp.
“Please proceed to the bus,” The officer said as he pointed in the direction of the waiting bus with its telescoping stairs descending to the ramp.
Blake walked slowly over to the ramp and boarded the bus with about a dozen people. The officer was right next to Blake as they stepped inside of the bus.
Blake was amazed as he looked around at the interior. It looked more like a waiting room with soft padded benches around the wall, just below the curved windows. Blake was surprised to see that there was no driver or operator. It was just one big room.
The officer pointed to a middle seat.
“Observation deck one.” The officer said in a soft voice.
Blake could hear the other passengers say various other destinations as they boarded.
It was obvious that there was some kind of built in computer recording each voice as they boarded the bus, thought Blake. It was remarkable. If this was some kind of elaborate hoax, he wondered where they got the technology.
After the last person boarded and seated, the bus silently began its journey around the city. There were people getting off, others getting on as if it were a simple city transit.
Blake gazed out of the wide window at the many buildings designed and built in styles that only in his wild imagination could comprehend. Blake noticed that the hover ride was the smoothest he had ever experienced. There was no movement except for the effects of gravity when rounding a curve or going up and down inclines.
Blake gazed around at the passengers on the bus. There was a strange silence as no one spoke. He noticed a woman and her apparent son sitting across from his seat facing him. The woman was attractive of course. Everyone was. She was a brunette with short hair that lay neatly along the back of her neck, thirtyish and had natural assets any man would die for. Her lips were naturally full and red. Her check bones were positioned perfectly. There was no blemish anywhere. Her tight, light blue one piece body suite enhanced every curve. Blake thought of Sherry again. Sherry was more beautiful to Blake than anyone.
The boy looked to be around ten years old. He had blond hair with green eyes. He looked nothing like his mother. By this time, after studying the boy’s features, he was almost convinced the woman was not the boy’s biological mother; a sitter or caretaker, perhaps?
The boy just stared silently at Blake as the bus zipped along the avenue. Blake forced a fake smile at the boy. The boy just looked puzzled. He then looked away but in a few seconds, he continued his stare. It was obvious; the boy was not used to a friendly smile, even if it was a fake.
What kind of place is this? Blake thought.
Blake wanted to break the silence.
“What is your name?” Blake finally asked, smiling at the boy.
The boy looked up at his caretaker. There was something about the eyes of the woman when she returned the boys look.
Blake noticed that the other passengers on the bus looked at Blake with almost annoyance, then, resumed looking out of the window with their empty expressions.
Blake noticed the woman was still looking down at the boy as the boy continued to look at her as if waiting on some kind of approval.
The boy nodded his head back at the woman and returned his gaze toward Blake. He remained silent. Blake tried again.
“My name is Blake. Do you have a name?” Blake asked again.
Again, the boy looked up at the woman.
“Excuse me, I didn’t mean to frighten the boy. I was…just…never mind,” Blake said as the woman looked at him with empty eyes and expression.
The woman looked back at the boy again.
“My name is Michael,” The boy said in a soft voice.
“Blake smiled genuinely for the first time. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Michael.”
Blake stuck out his and for a handshake. The boy looked puzzled as he studied Blake’s friendly gesture. He looked back at the woman. The boy slowly shook Blake’s hand after a short pause.
“So, where are you going today?” Blake asked.
“Training,” Michael replied.
As Blake wondered what the boy meant, he noticed that the woman was staring intently at the officer who was sitting next to Blake. Blake causally glanced over at the officer and noticed he cast the same expression back at the woman. It was if they were both communicating silently. With what Blake had experienced so far, it wouldn’t surprise him. Blake felt a strangeness come over him again as cold chills went up his spine. The place was giving him the creeps. He quickly thought of something else to say before another panic attack started.
“I am from Dallas, Texas. Are you from…this city?” Blake asked.
Blake noticed a few strange looks from the other passengers.
The boy looked puzzled again, and then looked back up at the woman.
“I’m sorry. I can’t speak with you anymore,” The boy said dryly.
Blake was certain of it now. Michael was hearing the woman’s voice telepathically. He recalled his own experience of hearing the officer’s voice while he was in the park earlier.
Do all of these people communicate like this? Blake thought.
Blake studied the woman’s expression. There was definitely no emotion. He stared at her eyes. If was if there was no soul behind them.
“Excuse me uh…I want to apologize for being so personal with the boy. I guess…you don’t want him to talk to strangers, huh?” Blake asked.
The woman just stared at Blake with the same blank expression, not answering.
A voice suddenly appeared in his head. It was a male’s voice announcing that observation deck 1 will be the next stop.
In less than a minuet, the hover bus slowed and came to a stop on the outskirts of the sprawling city.
“Observation deck Number One. Please exit. Thank you,” The voice said inside of Blake’s brain.
Blake looked over at the officer, who had already stood to his feet. Slowly, Blake stood and walked toward the off ramp of the bus. He quickly glanced back at the woman and the boy. The woman continued her blank stare out of the window while the boy looked at Blake with a hint of helplessness.
Blake stepped of the bus with the annoying officer behind him. Clearly, by now, Blake knew that the officer must have been assigned to watch over him, but by whom? Dr. Sutton? Blake wondered where Dr. Sutton’s voice had been lately.
Blake took slow steps along a walkway that led out to a metal platform with rails. He heard the doors shut behind him on the bus. He turned and noticed that the officer had re-boarded the bus and was gazing at him out of the window as the bus sped away.
“Hey, what are you doing?!” Blake yelled after the bus, as it hovered off in the distance.
“Come back! Hey! You can’t do this!” Blake continued to yell, as the bus was nearly out of site.
Blake shook his head. “Dr. Sutton, are you…here?” Blake asked.
There was no reply. Blake suddenly felt like a fool. He turned and walked slowly along the concrete walkway to the observation deck which was less than fifty feet away. There were no other people around. No traffic, nothing but silence; A very strange, silence.
As Blake approached the platform, he noticed something far into the distance, beyond the observation deck. He blinked his eyes repeatedly as if he did not believe what he was seeing.
“Oh my dear God! What…what is this?” Blake asked himself, aloud.
As Blake looked out beyond the city, he starred in awe as it protrude several hundred feet in the air, making an arch, but to be broken off in mid air.
Blake became horrified as he realized the city he was in was actually built on a giant platform that was constructed hundreds of feet in the air. A transparent dome stretched just beyond the observation deck and descended down as it was attached someway under ground. The arch ruin was just beyond the outside of the glass.
Blake looked down at the scorched and crumbled buildings some seven hundred feet below. It was a ruined and desolate city. He noticed a crumbled baseball stadium. There were also ruins of an indoor football stadium as more crumpled buildings and other ruins disappeared under the platform. There was a wide area just beyond the arch. It was nearly a dry river bed that once contained the mighty Mississippi, save for a small stream.
Beyond what was left of the St. Louis arch, was a barren landscape that went on as far as Blake’s eyes could see. Blake was in shock of what he was seeing, as he glanced down at a metal sign on a post. It was short paragraph about the history of the “Old St. Louis Arch.” It told of its construction in 1964 and of it’s destruction along with the rest of the city during the Great War of 2031.
“No! No! No! It can’t be! This is not happening!” Blake said to himself, nearly panicking.
He looked up at the purplish-blue sky above him. He could not see the top of the glass dome. Only the atmosphere or what was left of it as most of the ozone and other constitutes were destroyed during the barrage of a nuclear war!
“Why…Why…me?! Why did…you bring me here?!” Blake asked, nearly in tears, as if waiting for someone to answer.
There was no answer! Blake turned away as he could take no more of the nightmarish scene. He looked ahead at the futuristic city which he was mysteriously brought too.
How could this be real?
Blake had one last resort of an explanation during his harrowing experience.
It was a very realistic nightmare and he would soon wake up in his Dallas apartment. He tried desperately to hold on to that thought. However, he soon began to think about all of the wondrous sights that he had witnessed, it became apparent that he had been transported through time, ninety years into the future.
He kept thinking of Sherry. She would be dead now. Everyone that he ever knew was all gone. Humanity as he knew had vanished. Somehow, those that survived the war carried on, or did they? Someone had to construct these cities of this world. Some governing entity had to regain control! So many unanswered questions entered his distraught mind.
After walking some distance and drowning in his self pity, Blake decided to walk along the hover-way. He wanted to find his way back to the facility of where Dr. Sutton was. He wondered if they were watching. He felt anger creeping up. He felt shame of what they did to this world. He wanted to curse at the top of his lungs. He stop dead in his tracks and looked around at the buildings. He watched the strangers walk around with their blank faces painted on. Some stared in his direction but said nothing.
“I guess I am the only stranger!” He said aloud.
Blake walked for nearly an hour until a small hover car approached from behind.
“Blake! Are you alright?” the voice said from behind him.
Blake immediately recognized the voice. It was Dr. Sutton’s. Blake turned slowly around to face the small craft. There was another man in the craft with Dr. Sutton. Blake assumed it was another associate. He remained seated, while Dr. Sutton stepped out of the topless craft.
“You needed to see for yourself…Blake. I know it was alarming for you,” Dr. Sutton said, almost apologetically.
“You have no idea how I am feeling,” Blake replied.
“You are right, Blake. I don’t. None of us do. However, you need to come with us. You have seen enough for now.”
“Where are you taking me?”
“You need to return to the facility with us. You need some nourishment.”
“I’m not hungry! I just want to go back home!”
“I understand, Blake. I…”
“No you don’t! What do you hope to accomplish, with me?”
“If you will come with us, you will know soon enough,” Dr. Sutton said as he gestured back at the waiting craft, floating two feet above the surface.
“No!” Blake replied.
Dr. Sutton breathed a sigh. He turned and silently gazed at his assistant then turned back to face Blake. “Please, Blake. We do not want to use force. Just come with us, and more of your questions will be answered.”
Blake decided to cooperate once again. He slowly stepped up on the craft and took a seat in the circular cockpit. Dr. Sutton was right behind him. The craft then sped off in the direction of the facility.
Several hours had passed, as he waited inside of a brightly lit, windowless room.
The room was hard to mentally measure its size as the floor was white with the walls. Blake guessed it was twenty feet square. There were soft padded chairs around the room with a glass table in the center as if it were some kind of conference room. As with the other room where he first arrived, Blake noticed that the illumination process came somehow from all areas of the walls and flooring as if they glowed themselves. Amazingly, not one shadow was cast. In the middle of Blake’s misery, the process fascinated him. There were no visible seems along the walls and ceiling. He had to admit, if this was indeed the late twenty-first century, the technology was mind-boggling.
Blake stared at the plate of synthetic food lying on the table with its four waffles that was supposedly to represent some food group. He barely nibbled on it at all. It was tasteless. The bottled water tasted stagnant. He felt himself crave a Hardees monster burger and fries. That was his favorite fast food. He soon saw for himself that there were no fast food restaurants in this place or time. Everything was synthetic, right down to the air the people breathed. He wondered about the people themselves.
Were they even real? They certainly didn’t act human. The thought was scary.
Blake began to breathe rapidly. He got up from the padded chair and paced the lonely room. It was another panic attack. He nearly had one in front of a female psychologist that they sent in to evaluate his reactions a moment ago. Just as the woman on the bus, she seemed too perfect. At least she spoke aloud. The other man before the psychologist spoke the same. He quickly wondered how many more visitors he would have before they would come and remove him from this mysterious room. The room had no door. At least it wasn’t visible.
Blake felt like a caged animal, a zoo exhibit and a lab experiment all wrapped in one. The feeling only added more to his panic attack as he labored in his breathing. He began to feel light headed. Suddenly, Dr. Noah Sutton’s voice appeared in his head, as if he could see what was happening someway.
“Blake, please sit down and take deep breaths. There is one other person that you need to see today. Please, you must relax.”
“How do you expect me to relax in a place like this?” Blake replied, as he continued to pace the room. “I want to go home! You haven’t even explained to me why I was brought here in the first place!” Blake yelled.
“Please, Blake I can here you just fine without raising your voice,” Dr. Sutton’s voice replied calmly.
“I’m not going to say another word, until you tell me why I was brought here!”
“You wouldn’t comprehend it if we told you now, Blake.”
Blake became enraged.
Blake was usually a calm person. He was known around his office as a happy-go-lucky person with a bit of shyness. He never complained, always did what he was told and would crunch numbers as if they were nothing. As a state employee, he often felt he deserved more pay than what he was getting. That was the one thing that irritated Blake the most during his nine years as a State of Texas employee. Not once did he complain, though. He took everything in stride…until now. His buttons were pushed. He had enough.
The silence continued for another ten minuets.
Blake began to breath erratically again. He felt more dizziness coming on. He kicked a chair over as it slid across the room. He picked up another and threw it against the wall. He took another chair and slammed it against the glass table, hoping it would break. The chair just bounced off, not evening putting a scratch on the clear surface.
Two men entered the room from the appearing and disappearing door.
They were normal looking but had the same blank expression on their faces.
“What do you want? I supposed you want to pick my brain too, huh?” Blake asked in between deep breaths.
“You need to sit down, sir,” The blond haired man said who looked to be in his mid thirties.
“I’ll sit down when I get some answers!” Blake replied angrily.
The other man, who appeared to be in his twenties, was buff and looked to be in top physical condition, had close dark hair, and bluish eyes that cast an eerier expression than the woman on the bus. He approached Blake.
“What…what are you doing?” Blake asked as he started to back up.
Blake picked up the last chair. “I swear I will crack you with this thing if you lay one hand on me!”
The man ignored Blake’s warning as he reached out to grab his arm.
Blake swung the chair with all of his might. The man held up his arm and deflected the swinging chair. The chair bounced off of his arm just like the one that hit the table from a moment ago. Blake was surprised to see the man did not flinch or show any pain.
He quickly grabbed Blake by the left bicep with a monstrous tight grip and flung him to the floor.
Blake was stunned for a second. “Let me go! What are you doing? You can’t do this!”
The man grabbed both arms and pined Blake’s shoulders down while the other man held his legs. Blake continued to yell and curse the two men.
Another man, who appeared to be in his forties, came from nowhere and put another pneumatic injection in his left upper arm.
Just before loosing consciousness again, Blake felt powerless and confused. The three men rose to a standing position keeping their eyes on Blake as he lay on the cold floor. He could see their empty expressions as his eyes began to close. He thought he heard Dr. Sutton’s voice in the room ordering the men to take Blake to some other area. Then, everything faded to black.
When Blake awoke, he noticed that the lights or, whatever the illumination was, had been dimed considerably. He felt lethargic, not energetic as he did when he woke up on the park bench earlier. Clearly, he had been drugged. He felt as if he had awaked after a night of hard partying.
Blake suddenly remembered his college days at the University of Texas. He remembered one night of an all out party with Sunshine and her hippie friends.
He knew he was a fish out of water so to speak, but he wanted to experience what other college kids talked about. For two months, during the spring of his junior year, he took his nose out of the books, let his girlfriend talk him into going gothic, and experimented with a few recreational drugs. He remembered going out in town to a rave party one night with Sunshine and her friends. He remembered the heavy music blasting and the effects of an ecstasy tablet that was given to him by one of Sunshine’s freaky guy friends. The last thing he could remember was that the two got separated somehow that night, and in his fading memory, he recalled seeing Sunshine getting intimate with another guy on the dance floor while music from Marylyn Manson pulsated in the giant speakers of the club. He remembered seeing the two slip out of the door and into the parking lot. It was that night, in his stupor, that he came to his senses. He decided right there that he had enough of the decadent lifestyle.
As Blake lay quietly in the dim room, he kept thinking of that particular night in his life.
He remembered standing, looking confused in the middle of the dance floor, knowing that his girlfriend was probably having sex with another guy in the parking lot. He remembered as he started to walk toward the club door, another girl grabbed his arm and pulled him back into the masses of people gyrating on the dance floor. He remembered seeing the girl briefly around campus. She stood there, laughing with her gothic makeup, fake vampire teeth and her jet black, dyed hair, wanting to dance. Her fake blood oozing from her mouth against her white, powdered, skin cast an eerier feeling on Blake, even if it was all a get-up. Her snap on fingernails were long and black. She had a black, tight, mini skirt and black work boots that came nearly to her knees. He remembered, asking her about the mysterious disappearance of Sunshine. She just laughed and told Blake that she had left with her boyfriend, which he did not know she had for the last two months. He remembered feeling crushed, foolish and embarrassed. He was too stoned to cry. He just wanted to go back to his dorm and sleep what was left of the night away.
The gothic girl leaned in and began to slither her pierced tongue like a snake as she licked his ear. The sensation was strange as his whole body tingled with the effects of the ecstasy drug. After forcibly pulling away, he remembered bumping his way through the bodies of partiers and emerging out into the parking lot. He decided that he probably would experience his first fist fight as he began to look in the windows of empty cars. He felt even more humiliated as Sunshine had driven them both to the club, but now, as he stood where they had parked her Jetta, he realized she had taken the car and left with her boyfriend. Blake remembered stumbling back inside and asking a bouncer to call a cab. He remembered the bouncer, who looked just as freaky as the others, laughed in his face before obliging to his request. “Can’t handle it, huh? You must be a new-b, dude,” He recalled him saying.
When Blake arrived at his dorm, just after four, he recalled standing alone in his bathroom, looking into the mirror of what he had let himself become. The black eye liner was starting to run from his watering eyes. It was pathetic! The experience was enough. He wanted to be himself again.
He never spoke with Sunshine again after the humiliating experience. Although, he had thought from time to time, what had become of her? He knew she was an environmental science major. He remembered hoping she was well, considering the choice of a risky lifestyle she once led.
Blake almost sniggered as he thought about that rebellious time in his life.
He gazed around the dim room which included to his surprise, some amenities. The couch was actually comfortable that he was lying on. He soon discovered that there was soft, classical music coming from somewhere within the room. It was not in his head. It was coming from some kind of speaker within the room. He rose slowly to a seated position. He still felt groggy. He decided to lie back down. Blake wondered how long he had been out this time; a day, two days…a week? It was hard to tell. It was apparent; they were changing up the game a bit by trying some relaxation techniques. The nightmare just seemed to go own, Blake thought.
Blake heard some kind of electronic chime. Soon, a door off to the side opened. It must have been some kind of door bell, thought Blake. He was surprised that they even had the audacity to announce their arrival.
Blake squinted through some blurry vision and noticed it was another female who had entered the room. She was carrying something that resembled a food tray. He looked closer as she approached. There was something familiar about her. Then, it hit him like a ton of bricks.
Blake rubbed his eyes as if he were seeing things. The woman set the tray down on a small table in the middle of the room, about fifteen feet away. She stood still with her arms to her side as if she was waiting on a reaction from Blake.
Sherry? Uh…Sherry, is…that you?” Blake asked. “This can’t be real! I must be dreaming!” Blake said to himself as he studied the woman.
Her brown hair was longer than the other women he had encountered. It was shoulder length, just as Sherry’s was.
“Hello, Blake,” The woman said.
Blake studied her expression. It was empty just as the others. Her voice sounded like Sherry’s. She looked like Sherry. Could it be? He thought.
“Who are you?” Blake asked as he rose slowly to a seated position.
“You need nourishment, Blake. I will be looking after your needs for now.”
The woman was attractive just like Sherry was.
“What is your name?” he asked again.
“Sherry, if that’s who you want me to be,” She replied.
Blake breathed a sigh. He felt high from the effects of whatever they injected him with. He wanted to believe her.
“Walk toward me, please,” Blake requested, as he tried to focus on her face.
The woman walked slowly toward Blake until she stood right before him.
Blake took her hand. It was cold, but soft to the touch. He noticed that she began smiling as she looked him in the eyes. Her green eyes were strange and empty.
“You’re not Sherry. I don’t know what you all have done, but you could never be Sherry,” Blake said as his head bobbled back and forth.
“If you miss Sherry, you can call me by that name, if that’s what you want?”
Blake was speechless. In his drugged state of mind, he was beside himself at their callousness. Surprisingly, he felt no anger.
The woman took Blake’s hand and put it in both of her hands. She rubbed his hand tenderly. “You will be fine, Blake. Everything will be just fine. You will get through this. I am here to help you,” She said with a tender voice.
“Are…you a…nurse or something?” Blake asked as he watched her hands, stroke his.
“In a sense, yes Blake, I am.”
“Am I sick? I feel like crap.”
“Yes, you are ill. That is why it is imperative that you consume your nourishment,” She answered.
“Did Dr. Sutton send you?” Blake asked.
“That’s not important now. The important thing is for you to get well and to proceed with your life,” she answered.
“My life is in Dallas,” He said in almost a slur.
“I’m sorry, Blake. Soon, you will comprehend why you were brought here. Then, all of your questions will be answered,” She said tenderly.
Blake looked around the strange room.
“Could you answer one question, please?” Blake asked as he looked the woman in the eyes.
“I will do my best to answer,” She replied.
“Could you at least tell me where I am or, what kind of a facility this is?”
“You are inside of your assigned quarters.”
“What do you mean…assigned?” Blake asked
“This is where you will be living now. This is your new home, as you would say.”
Blake wanted to scream, but felt a strange sense of restraint coming over him. He wanted to lash out at the woman, but could not. He felt like something was controlling his anger, keeping his emotions in check. He quickly surmised that it must be the drugs he was on. He felt exhausted as he forced some emotion to come out. He just stared at the woman’s empty green eyes.
“Are you alright, Blake?” She asked.
Blake shut his eyes and forced himself to shed a tear. He thought of Sherry and the life he was supposed to have had with her, in some other time. He thought of the children that they were to have had. He wondered what had become of them. It was too much to fathom for Blake in his current state of mind.
Normally, he would feel anther panic episode coming on but now, he felt some calmness again. It was if some outside force was controlling his reactions. The thought was disturbing.
He just lowered his head and became numb. The woman responded by gently caressing his hands.
“I…just want…Sherry,” he said, as he felt her cold, but tender touch.
The woman lifted his head in her hands and looked Blake in the eyes. “Come, I want to show you something.”
The woman gently took Blake’s hand and led him off of the couch and over to the far wall.
As Blake took slow steps toward the wall, he noticed something remarkable was happening. The apparent windowless room began to change before his eyes. The solid wall became transparent giving way to a view of the city from several stories up in the air. Apparently, the seemingly windowless buildings from the outside were designed to be seen through from the inside as if they were entirely glass. Once again, Blake marveled at the design technology.
Blake felt a strange sense of belonging come over him. He looked out across the futuristic city of St. Louis at the many ivory towers in the distance. There were strange aircrafts, some triangular, silently flying in each direction, apparently transporting passengers across the city.
He looked up through the evening, twilight sky and noticed tiny dots of lights high above the atmosphere circling the earth, as a few stars were starting to show. They appeared to be satellites-many of them.
“Now, let’s move backward a few steps,” She said.
As the two stepped backward away from the window, the outside view began to get dimmer. As they moved to the center of the room, the walls took on their solid appearance once again.
“I’m impressed, ok?” Blake said as he turned to face the woman. He was also surprised to see she was similar height of Sherry at 5’ 8’’.
He glanced down at her cold grasp on his right hand. He slowly took it out of hers.
Blake turned and looked at the covered food tray. There was a covered drink in a stainless steel cup beside if it. He felt famished. He wondered if it was the same synthetic junk they tried to offer him earlier.
“I think you will enjoy it if you would partake,” The woman said as she studied his reaction.
Blake walked slowly over to the small table with two soft chairs that were tucked neatly under its glass surface. He reached down and lifted the metallic cover. It was a burger and fries!
At first impulse, Blake wanted to tear into the food as if he were some starving wild animal. He slowly took the cover off of the drink. It looked like a cola. He could tell it was still fresh as it was poured over ice. He felt reluctant. With all he had witnessed so far, he wondered if it was even real.
“Go ahead, Blake. Taste it. You will find it pleasing, I promise,” The woman said with little emotion.
Blake picked up the drink. He slowly put it to his lips. It tasted just like a Dr. Pepper, his favorite soft drink! He took a small swallow. It was refreshing.
How did they know? He thought.
Blake slowly picked a fry off of the plate and bit a small section of it off. It was crisp and fresh, not too greasy, just the way he loved them. He then picked up the top bun off of the burger. He was surprised to see it had no cheese. Blake hated cheese. He brought the burger to his mouth and took a bite. It was medium well, just the way he liked his burgers. He could even taste the char-grill flavor. It was delicious, and still hot! He also noticed that there was no ketchup or mustered. It only had mayonnaise, dill pickle, lettuce and tomato, just the way he always requested at his favorite fast food place.
Blake pulled the metal, padded chair out and seated himself. He began eating the burger and fries, as the woman stood behind him.
Blake felt her creepiness. With a mouth full of burger, he turned around. “Do you mind? You are making me nervous, standing behind me,” He said as tiny bits of meat were spit with his words. “Could you…just…sit down or something?” He said pointing over at the other small chair across from him.
The woman slowly walked around and stood by the chair. “If that’s what you want?”
Blake had nearly inhaled half of the large hamburger at this point. He just nodded his head at her strangeness. The woman took a seat and began watching him eat.
Blake hated others to watch him eat. That reason alone was why he did mostly take-outs. For now, it did not bother him. He was too into the delicious burger to say anything. The woman just remained silent as she watched him consume every crumb of food that was before him.
“I don’t know how you guys did it, but I think that was the best burger and fries I had ever consumed,” Blake said as he stared down at his empty plate and cup.
“Could I get you anything else, Blake?” The woman asked, with a blank look.
Blake looked back at the woman, who was still seated across from him. He couldn’t resist the answer he wanted to tell her.
“Yeah, you can get me a freaking ticket back to Dallas!”
“I am sorry, Blake. That is not possible.”
“Why?” Blake asked as he began to engage her, felling more strength from the food.
“I am not at liberty to discuss that with you.”
Blake sniggered sarcastically as he studied her strange demeanor. “Well, what are you at…liberty to discuss?”
“Your needs,” She answered quickly.
“My needs,” Blake repeated.
“Yes,” she answered quickly again.
“And what needs would that be,” he asked.
“You tell me,” she replied as she stared into his eyes.
Blake looked around the room, trying to make some kind of sense out of the sick game.
“Alright, I need…to go back to my own home in Dallas, Texas. Is that hard for you to understand…Miss…?”
“It is impossible to honor your request; I am, sorry.”
“It is not physically possible.”
“The explanation is simple, Blake.”
Blake paused for a moment, while he looked into her emotionless eyes. “Ok, then if it is simple, tell me,” Blake said as he folded his arms.
“Dallas, Texas does not exist anymore. There is no Dallas, Texas in this present time.”
Again, Blake wanted to scream at the mysterious woman. He was sick of their head games. He was agitated but not angry as he normally would be. He was convinced he was under some kind of mind control drug. It was a mental paradox, he thought.
Blake just stared down at the empty tray again. He could not think of anymore questions at this point. He felt numb, violated and empty. He could only think of one response at her bizarre answer.
“Please leave now! I want to be alone!” He ordered, as he kept looking downward.
“Is it what you really want?” she asked in a calm way.
“Just go away…please!”
The woman rose slowly and picked up his tray. Blake listened as she walked slowly over to the door. He kept his eyes cast downward, as he heard her exit the room. He heard the door seal behind her.
After a few moments, Blake got up and walked over to the narrow door. He placed his hand along the smooth surface but could find no handle. He tried pushing. It would not open. He felt like a prisoner. However, as before, his emotions remained numb. Blake just turned and slowly walked back to the small couch. He felt more tiredness. He lay back down and within a few seconds, he was fast asleep.
As before, Blake had no concept of time or how long he had been sleeping when he awoke. He noticed the soft classical music had stopped. He looked around the room and felt some bitter-sweet relief that he had not woke up in some other room or God knows where. It was the same room as he noticed the small table and two chairs tucked neatly under the table.
Blake heard a peculiar sound coming from somewhere outside of the room. It sounded like a stream of water running in a sink, or a shower. It was coming from the other side of the wall. Blake remembered the strange woman who resembled Sherry. He wondered what she was up too now. He realized he had not even seen the entire dwelling.
Blake slowly got up from the bed and followed the sound of the water. He noticed that there was an open area which led down a hallway in the dwelling. As before, the room was dimly lit. By now, Blake noticed that he did not feel as groggy when he awoke the first time. He hoped the drugs were wearing off.
Blake turned the corner and walked down the hallway. There were two rooms, both off to the right, each beside the other. There were no doors to the rooms. As Blake approached, he noticed the sound was coming from the first room. He turned and looked into the room. It was a bathroom with an elegant bath tub in the middle of the room. Water was apparently coming from under the tub somehow and depositing over the back wall of the tub like a fountain. There were three candles lit around the shelf of the tub. To the left and near the wall, there was a toilet.
Blake looked around the room and noticed there was no one. Someone had to have run the water. He took slow steps toward the tub and looked in. It seemed to be a hot tub as the water was swirling. He bent over slightly and put his right fingers into the water. It was hot and inviting. Blake knew he had not bathed since he was brought to this place. He guessed they made every effort to make the experience as relaxing as possible. He wondered if the woman was somewhere in the apartment. If not, he would bet they were watching from somewhere.
“Hello!” Blake yelled.
The water suddenly stopped as the water depth looked to be about 15 inches inside of the tub. It was quietly swirling.
“Hello!” Blake yelled again, looking back into the hallway.
He thought about the receiver inside of his head. “Dr. Sutton, can you hear me?”
There was no answer. All he could hear was the gentle bubbling of the swirling water that was looking more inviting each time Blake gazed upon it.
Blake paused for a moment. He began to remove the blue jumper. He was surprised of how well it seemed to just roll off his body down to his feet. He removed some rubber slippers, then his thigh length silk, undershorts, that Blake well knew wasn’t his. He cringed at the thought off someone dressing his naked body unknowingly.
Blake stepped upon the porcelain step of the tub and looked behind him once again. No one was there, at least not in physical form.
Blake sat down inside of the tub and felt the swirling increase. The temperature began to automatically adjust to what he thought was perfect. He relaxed as he laid his head back against the back of the tub. The porcelain suddenly became soft, conforming to the back of his head.
He must have dozed off again as he was startled by the sound of footsteps entering the room. It was the Sherry-look-alike. She was carrying a brown towel, a tube of what looked like shampoo and a fresh set of clothes for Blake.
Blake became embarrassed. “Where…where did you come from?” he asked, sitting up with his hands across his lap.
There was a small stand by the tub. The woman walked over and placed the folded towel and clean jumper on the stand.
“Would you like me to wash your hair for you?” She asked, looking down at him with her all too familiar blank smiles.
The surprises just keep coming, thought Blake.
“Uh, you got to be kidding me,” He replied.
“I will wash your hair, if that’s what you want. You will find it very relaxing,” She said.
“Uh…I don’t think so. If you don’t mind, I would like some privacy. As you can see, I am taking a bath. Besides, I don’t even know you, Miss…”
“Very well, then. Your breakfast will be in the great room when you finish bathing.”
The woman turned and walked out of the bathroom and back down the hallway.
Blake finished his bath and put on the fresh jumper. For the first time, he noticed there was not a mirror on any of the four white walls of the bathroom. There was a vanity with an oval basin inside but no faucet. He walked slowly over to the vanity and as he looked straight ahead, the apparent solid wall in front of him became a rectangular mirror. Blake backed away a few steps and noticed that it slowly became solid again.
“Cool,” He said, softly.
As Blake approached the vanity again, the mirror reappeared. Blake felt around the wall, immediately, a section of the wall, just under the mirror, opened and a small drawer slid out automatically. Inside was what looked to be a small handheld razor, deodorant, aftershave, tooth brush and paste. Blake looked at himself in the mirror for the first time since his last night at his apartment in Dallas. He was surprised to see that he did not have much stubble. His hair had been cut unknowingly during one of his unconscious sessions. He quickly wondered how long he had been here. To Blake, it only seemed a couple of days, maybe three at the most. He remembered seeing no clock or calendar when he awoke in the apartment both times.
Could I have been here for weeks, or months? Blake thought, as he looked at himself in the mirror. He noticed that he had lost some weight as his face was thinner and his eyes looked sunk in.
“I will get to the bottom of this now.” He said as he walked swiftly out of the bathroom.
As Blake entered the great room, he noticed a smell of bacon permeating the room.
He noticed that one glass plate with a glass of orange juice was sitting in front of the chair. There were two eggs, cooked over easy, just the way Blake loved them and two slices of toast with strawberry jam neatly placed on the bread. He wondered how they knew of his favorite breakfast. He remembered thinking about the breakfast while bathing, just as the woman entered the bathroom.
He reached down and took a bite of the toast and jam. It was delicious! Just the way his mother had made her jams-not to syrupy but just the right amount of sugar.
Blake turned and looked around the apartment. He wondered where the kitchen was as he had never got that far in exploring the apartment.
Blake turned and went through another short hallway to an open room. There was no dishwasher, fridge, stove, microwave or any kind of cooking appliance in sight. He thought that they were built into the wall just as the other amenities were. He walked over and touched a wall about mid ways up. Nothing happened. He walked over to the other solid white wall and touched. Immediately, some kind of built in appliance slid fourth. He thought it was some kind of stove except there were no eyes. He wondered how his breakfast was cooked. He looked around for the mysterious woman.
“Hello! Miss, are you here?” He yelled.
There was no answer.
Blake shrugged his shoulders. He felt weird, but still could not bring himself to anger. He turned and walked back to the great room. He seated himself at the small table and began to eat. The food was perfect; too perfect as Blake had many suspicions going through his clouded mind.
After finishing the breakfast, he walked over to the edge of the room. He looked out over the city and noticed that the sun was slightly up in the east. For some reason, it did not hurt his eyes to look at it. It was as if the wall had some kind of a built in sun screen. He began to think of Sherry again. He wanted to cry, but couldn’t. He wanted to feel remorse, but couldn’t.
He was startled out of his thought by the sound of a door sealing shut. He whirled around and there was the woman who had somehow provided every need that he had thought about.
“Did you enjoy your breakfast, Blake?” She asked, in a soft feminine voice.
Blake just stood for a moment not answering. He watched her eyes gaze over at the empty plate on the table. There was something different about her this time. It was her hair. No, it was her appearance. She seemed to no longer resemble Sherry. He wondered if it was the Drugs that made him see her as Sherry. Her hair was short and close around her neck just like the mysterious woman on the bus.
“I am glad you enjoyed it,” She added.
“How did you know?” Blake asked.
“You are to go and see Dr. Sutton today,” She said, avoiding his question.
“I asked you a question,” Blake said as he walked closer to the woman.
The woman just looked into his eyes as he stood directly in front of her.
“Let me ask you again. How did you know that I like my eggs over easy and strawberry jam on toast?”
“Dr. Sutton will be expecting you in one hour. I suggest…”
“Forget about Dr. Sutton! Why are you people avoiding my questions? You asked me earlier if I needed anything! Well, I do! I need you to answer my question, please!” Blake said as his voice rose a bit.
“I was told,” She replied, stoically.
“By whom?” Blake asked quickly.
“I cannot answer that now, Blake.”
Blake turned and began to pace the room. “You haven’t even told me your name or where you are from. I don’t know anything about you except you seem to have provided everything I missed. I mean, you even wanted me to call you my girlfriend’s name! Why are you acting so strange? You people took me from my Dallas apartment; brought me to some God awful place you call twenty ninety-seven. You all keep telling me that my questions will be answered, but you keep putting me off!”
“My name is Carla. I am from here in St. Louis.”
“This is not St. Louis, Missouri!” Blake said as he gazed out of the window at the strange looking city.
“You are correct. This is not Missouri. Missouri does not exist anymore, nor, do any other state from the former United States.”
“What…what are you talking about?” Blake asked as he turned to face Carla.
“This was explained to you in your debriefing phase. Unfortunately, we had to modify our approach.”
Blake paused and walked up close to the woman again. “How long have I been here?”
“Dr. Sutton will answer that for you, Blake,” She tenderly replied.
Blake felt a bit of emotion creep up. He placed his hands on the woman’s shoulders and slightly shook them. She was solid. Blake noticed that her shoulders barely moved.
“No! I want you to answer me. Please!” Blake exclaimed.
“You have been here twenty-four days as of today. It is the twenty-first of August,” She said.
Blake was stunned. “No! That can’t be! I…just…it’s got to be only the third or fourth day…” Blake quickly became silent as a thought occurred to him. “Unless…they put me under for some reason…did they? Please, tell me what happened!” He asked as he continued to grip her firm shoulders.
“As I stated before, there was a problem in your debriefing phase. You had to be restrained and isolated. You became…combatant. You tried to attack two of our debriefing counselors. About a week later, after Dr. Sutton attempted to explain your purpose here, you made a futile attempt to escape. However, you were apprehended quickly before you were able to destroy the portal. Nearly everything was explained to you before you spiked, Blake. You had to be sedated and psychologically adjusted…for your own protection. I hope you understand.”
“What do you mean…spiked?”
“You were psychologically near a mental breakdown. The ramifications would have altered the future. Therefore, we had no choice but to alter your perceptions.”
Blake could not react. He just shook his head in disbelief. “You mean to tell me that I have been here nearly a month and…you all…zapped part of my memory with some kind of…drug?”
“It was necessary for your own protection.”
“I don’t believe a word you are saying,” Blake replied.
“Very well, Dr. Sutton will see you momentarily and he will explain in further detail.
Nearly an hour had passed and two male security guards were at the door of the apartment ready to escort Blake to another facility. Carla also accompanied him at Blake’s surprising request.
He was led down the brightly lit hallway to an elevator. It was an oval glass elevator that was on the outside of the building. Blake was surprised that the floor his apartment was at least seven hundred feet high, and his was not at the top.
The elevator descended smoothly. Blake noticed that both of the unarmed security guys were silent as they just watched his every move.
Blake was led out to an area that contained several parked hover cars. There was one which had a triangle marking on the side, which began hovering as they approached.
The triangle must have some significant meaning, Blake thought.
“What does that triangle represent?” Blake asked looking over at Carla as she walked beside him.
“That is the symbol of hierarchy.”
Blake looked confused again. “What?”
“I will explain later,” She answered as they stepped into the cockpit of the car.
“Sit by me, please,” Blake said in a low voice
The car hovered around the maze of the city streets until it stopped in front of an oval building. It looked to Blake more like an indoor sports arena than some government facility. The only writing was just above the door which read: “Complex One.”
Blake was brought through the nearly invisible double doors of the building and led to another elevator. Instead of going up, it descended several floors.
Blake was led to another hallway and brought inside of one of the rooms that were off to the side. It was about thirty feet by twenty. It contained a soft couch that inclined and was big enough for two adults.
Blake seated himself while Carla remained standing. She turned and faced the two security guards that were just inside the doorway. They immediately turned and walked out. The door sealed behind them.
“Well, you can sit if you like,” Blake said.
“Thank you,” Carla replied politely as she seated herself beside Blake.
“You’re welcome,” Blake answered, not making eye contact.
After a short pause Blake broke the silence. “So, what do you think he will do today?”
Carla sensed his slight apprehension. “I am not sure. I assume he will continue with the debriefing stage in some capacity.”
There was another brief silence.
“So, tell me more about this hierarchy thing,” Blake said as he turned to face Carla.
“The hierarchy is a governing entity that controls all social functions within the population.”
Blake grinned for the first time. “Sounds like City Hall.”
“Yes it does,” Carla, said as she looked into his eyes, grinning slightly. “However, this hierarchy is only a governing branch of the world hierarchy. The World emperor is in control.
“Who is the world emperor?”
“He is Christopher. His dwelling is in Europe, where the country France once was.”
Blake just took it in and did not respond for a moment.
“What does this…Christopher control?”
“He oversees every aspect of our modern society.”
“Like what?” Blake asked as he began to feel weird again.
“He controls everything from modern religion to trade and disbursing.”
“Oh, so you guys actually worship a God instead of yourselves?” Blake replied sarcastically.
“Our religion does not consist of one God. It represents a system of degrees one has to master before reaching a higher plane of a self controlled existence. Once a human being reaches that plane, they are allowed certain privileges which are given by the emperor.”
Blake surmised that the so called modern religion sounded like a mixture of all religions rolled into one-hence the word “Hierarchy.”
“Does…this Christopher know that I am here?”
“Then, why be so secretive?”
“Dr. Sutton will explain all that you need to know when you are ready,” Carla replied in a soft, assuring voice.
Blake contemplated the bizarre situation for a moment before changing the subject.
“Listen…Carla, I want to apologize for being…a little rough back at the…uh…my room.”
“It is quit alright, Blake. I understand, really, I do.”
Carla took his hand and placed it in hers. Blake could not help but noticed her touch was cold. Everything about her was cold and empty. But yet, he found himself becoming fascinated with her and enjoying her presence in some strange way. He also found himself thinking less of Sherry. He still longed to see her but, could not bring himself to utter sadness as one would expect. He felt strange just trying to make sense out of the emotional paradox he found himself in.
Blake’s mind wanted to accept everything they had revealed to him, but a small inkling of his heart wanted to believe it was all an illusion. Nevertheless, he felt better when he would not think about it. It was as if his mind was being reprogrammed to just be numb with ever passing moment.
As Blake sat alone with Carla in the mysterious room, he made a mental decision to just go along with them…for now.
His thoughts were interrupted by a hiss of the door. In walked Dr. Noah Sutton.
He looked familiar with his gray jump suit and a white jacket. He was carrying a small type of lap-top. Blake quickly jerked his hand out of Carla’s cold grasp.
“Good Morning, Blake,” Dr. Sutton said cheerfully.
Blake made a sudden mental decision to cooperate with them in every capacity. He thought if he could do that, they would reduce his drug intake, however they were doing it.
“Good Morning Dr. Sutton,” Blake said almost with no emotion.
Dr. Sutton raised an eyebrow as if surprised by his sudden change of demeanor. “We need to go over some things with you today.”
Dr. Sutton glanced up at Carla. She got up at once and started to leave. Blake looked surprised.
“Uh…please…Dr. Sutton, if it is alright with you, I would prefer her to stay with me.” Blake replied.
Dr. Sutton paused for a moment. He smiled and turned to face Carla as she was about to reach the door.
“Very well. Carla, would you please remain with Blake as he requested?”
Carla stopped walking and turned back around to face Blake.
“Yes, if that’s what you want,” She replied.
With a strange emotionless expression, she walked back and seated herself beside Blake on the small sofa. She returned her gaze at Dr. Sutton.
Blake watched her as she crossed her legs in a sophisticated fashion that seemed to intrigue Blake even more. Dr. Sutton studied Blake’s fascination with Carla and smiled again.
“Blake, first I want to ask you a series of questions. Tell me what you remember up to this point, starting with the day you were transported here.”
Blake knew that Carla had told him, claiming that he had been here twenty-three days. He remembered her telling him that he had attempted an escape somehow. Blake had known through her that part of his short term memory had been erased. He would just play the situation out to the best and tell Dr. Sutton what he wanted to hear.
“I remember being examined and questioned. I also remembered being outside and exploring this amazing city. I was angry when I returned to this facility and apparently sedated. I woke up later in another facility with this woman…uh…Carla caring for me. That is about it, Dr. Sutton.”
Blake studied the small box that was on his lap. Apparently, it contained some kind of screen, or a note book, Blake thought.
“Do you know what the date is?” Dr. Sutton asked.
“I think it is around the sixth of August, twenty ninety-seven.”
“Do you know why you were brought here?”
Dr. Sutton paused as he gazed at Blake. Blake could tell he was surprised by his sudden cooperation and was trying to not show it.
“Alright, I will need to show you a clip of your history leading up to your…death. You need to know this Blake. I understand this may be difficult for you to accept. However, once you understand the scope of the project you will also understand why you were brought here.”
Dr. Sutton got up from the chair that was directly across from Blake and slid it back up against the wall beside the sofa.
“Please, observe. Activate disc one,” Dr. Sutton ordered.
Immediately, a circular image began to appear in the center of the room giving way to a colorful three dimensional image.
It was the news clips again. This time they were reporting on the third world war that was supposed to have been launched in 2031. A secrete weapon was being developed and the technology was stolen by the Russians. This led to an all out war with the two apparent supper powers with Russia being the first attacked. In a matter of a few hours, most of the major cities around the world had been destroyed along with millions of innocent people. It was reported that the “weapon” was destroyed during the nuclear exchange before it could be completed.
Blake saw a picture of himself apparently in middle age. He was giving a top secret lecture before some apparent panel of government physicists, explaining the mechanism which manipulates matter and anti matter. This in turn would produce a wormhole inside the “particles of time,” as he would go on to say. The process accounted for many of the undiscovered wormholes which are abundant in nature. The device would manipulate these countless sub-microscopic wormholes into creating one portal of space/time. This portal, in theory, would allow someone to go back and forth in time. One would be able to travel to the past universe and manipulate history, preventing major catastrophes from happening, only for the good of mankind. The device was tested, but no human was sent.
“You mean…I invented that thing?” Blake asked, as the report continued.
“Yes. Unfortunately, as you seen in the log files, the technology fell into the wrong hands and it became somewhat of a weapon. We could not allow the enemy to activate the portal; therefore, we had to retaliate to prevent them from attempting to alter history, thus the technology was destroyed,” Dr. Sutton replied in a somber voice.
There was a brief silence as Blake tried to understand.
“So, that’s why you brought me here? You brought me here to prevent this from happening? If all of this is true, why couldn’t you just go back and kill me…before I…developed it?”
Dr. Sutton paused for a few seconds and took a deep breath. “Then, I would not be standing here.”
For the rest of the session, even with the mind altering drugs that Blake had been secretly given, he was beside himself of Dr. Noah Sutton’s claim of being his grandson.
Blake was shown a picture of his daughter, during the session. Her name was Emily Grace Edwards. Blake had noticed she looked strikingly like her mother, Sherry Duncan. After the war, she had been educated at a remote government facility and had married in her mid twenties. She had one child soon after, which was named Noah Sutton. Blake was told that she currently resides in Atlanta and was 80 years old. Blake requested that they would allow him to see her, but as he was told numerous times on his other requests, it can not be permitted.
Blake’s other child, a son, had disappeared and was presumed dead during the war which left Noah Sutton the only heir to Blake’s project. Blake was told that when Dr. Sutton was a young man; he became Blake’s assistant on redesigning and developing the time transporter prototype which would be ultimately used to go back and somehow prevent the catastrophe from ever happening. There were many setbacks during the re-development of the project and Blake learned that his future self died at the age of eighty-three, in 2060. Dr. Noah Sutton would continue Blake’s work until it was perfected in 2092. The Device was tested numerous times and it was recorded that a portal was sent back to a time on earth before mankind emerged. However, the test was a success but nothing significant was brought back except a few leaves of some variation of palm and several blades of grass.
Apparently, just before the onset of the Great War, Dr. Blake Edwards and his family were taken to a remote bunker somewhere in the mid-west to live during the reconstruction phase. To his surprise, there were many more survivors in shelters throughout the world. He was shown clips of devastated lands and cities that killed several billion people worldwide. However, the human race survived as well as the technology which was preserved on protected government data bases throughout the world.
Certain government agencies had secretly put in place a communication base that would survive the nuclear explosions, led by the United States. The agencies would unite and become one on the reconstruction phase worldwide. An interim military government was quickly established which evolved into a hierarchy, establishing a supreme commander who oversaw all aspects of the modern society. Blake was astonished of how well the system worked. However, in all of the modern technology and many mind boggling inventions, there was one thing that was revealed to Blake from the session which overshadowed everything he had learned. It was reported that human beings were slowly becoming extinct. With an alarming drop in the conventional reproduction rates, modern scientists became unsuccessful in finding fertility drugs to counteract the anomaly.
Blake wondered why he had not seen many children in this apparent future world. Now he knew. This was the thing Dr. Sutton was trying to get across to Blake. The thought was disturbing to Blake. He was not only living in a future that he did not belong, but Blake Edwards was living at the end of the world, with no future at all, apparently set in motion by himself. With that thought fresh on his mind, he was brought back to his assigned apartment and ordered to remain there until the next session.
Blake had been to at least thirteen more sessions since the disturbing revelations. The sessions grew less and further apart. Slowly, Blake found himself becoming more assimilated into the doomed society. He knew without the help of their designer drugs, he would have had a breakdown. His heart was burdened and heavy, yet he had a strange since of purpose. He would think of Sherry less, and the thought of ever returning was fading fast. He felt himself becoming somewhat attached to the mysterious woman called Carla.
Blake walked hand in hand with Sherry as they crossed the small stream over large rocks. She nearly slipped out of his hand but he grabbed her around the waist before she fell into the cold creek. They laughed and shared a kiss as they reached the other side.
Sherry spread the blanket down on the soft grass in the meadow beside the stream.
Blake took off his sneakers and lay down as Sherry had already done so. They both looked at each other as they lay side beside on the blanket with their shoulders touching.
“I love you, Blake Edwards,” Sherry said with a tender smile.
Blake looked her deep in the eyes. “I love you too, Sherry.”
They both shared a long kiss.
Blake turned back around and looked up into the bright, cloudless, blue sky. He could here the birds chirping in the distance with the sound of the creek slowly rustling by. He wanted this moment to last forever. He turned his head and looked her in the eyes once again.
“Sherry, there is one thing I need to ask you,” he said.
Sherry tenderly smiled as if knowing what he would say. “Ok.”
“Will you be my wife?” Blake asked feeling uninhibited.
Sherry smiled and planted a soft kiss on his lips. “Yes, Blake. I would be honored.”
Blake was ecstatic. He slowly returned a kiss on her lips.
“I want to have your two children,” she said tenderly again.
Something was wrong. Blake became confused as he looked at Sherry.
“How did you know?” he asked.
“I know everything about you, Blake,” She replied in an almost unemotional response.
Blake felt her slipping away. A cold chill came over him as he lay nearly awake in a semi dream state.
“Sherry! No, don’t leave!” He said as her face began to disappear.
Blake felt her body lean into his and her soft lips touching his once again. He felt some sense of relief as he still held onto her while his inner conscious was telling him it was nothing but a reoccurring dream.
Blake wrapped his arms around Sherry as her body crawled partly on his. He felt her soft skin along her back and discovered that she was naked. No longer did he hear the creek, or see the blue sky above. No longer could he look into Sherry’s green eyes. Now, everything was dark. However, her kisses became more passionate as he felt her soft, lips grow cold. Sherry was gone. Nothing remained except the bed beneath his body inside of the bedroom of the dwelling.
Blake, still feeling the effects of his blissful dream pulled the mysterious body in close to his. He began to return his own passionate kisses along her neck. He opened his eyes in the darkness of the room. It was Carla. He paused for a moment as he contemplated his loneliness, looking down making out her silhouetted face. He felt her gently pulling him in to her.
“I love you Blake,” She said in a tender voice.
Blake awoke the next morning feeling relaxed and content for the first time since his arrival two months before. He moved his legs around and felt someone else’s bare legs next to his. Their skin was cold. Blake quickly gasped as he opened his eyes.
He remembered going to bed alone as Carla would leave each night. He would never ask her as he assumed she had her own place. Now, she was laying beside him, naked, her eyes wide and alert as if she had not been asleep.
“Good Morning Blake, did you sleep well?” She asked, as her head turned toward his.
“What…what are you…doing here? I…I thought you left last night…uh…oh no!” Blake stammered, realizing he had been intimate with her. Of course, how could he forget it?
The soft green sheet was just below her neck. She reached out and stroked the side of his face. Blake recoiled up to a seated position with the covers over his mid section. He also discovered that he was naked as well.
“So, it wasn’t a dream!” Blake said, almost to himself.
“What do you mean, Blake?” she asked as her hand reached out to him again.
“You know what I mean! I was…dreaming of…Sherry and…then you were here! You were here all along, weren’t you?” Blake asked as he felt disgust. “You took advantage of my loneliness, didn’t you, huh?”
“It was what you wanted Blake. I was only…”
“Get out! Get you clothes on and get out! I don’t need you! I don’t need anyone!” Blake said raising his voice for the first time since he was under the medication.
Blake turned around and faced the opposite wall. He felt the bed move slightly as Carla got up and stood on the other side of the bed. Blake felt an eerie silence. He slowly turned around and noticed Carla was standing still looking in his direction with that familiar cold stare. Blake studied her for a moment. It was if she was waiting on him to say something else. For the first time, Blake looked at her naked body as if that was what Carla had intended. Blake felt a cold chill come over him again, as he thought back to the vivid dream he had during the night about Sherry.
“It was me, Blake,” replied Carla’s voice from within his head. “It was me…Carla.”
Blake looked confused as he studied Carla.
“What, who said that? What are you doing?” Blake said as he realized Carla had not opened her mouth to speak.
“Yes, that was me you kissed in your dream.”
Blake felt more cold chills as if Carla was reading his mind.
“Stop it!” Blake ordered.
“You needed the dream, Blake.”
Blake was sure that Carla was speaking to him telepathically, some how. He quickly recalled that second day in the city of how the security guard spoke to him when he was in the park.
“How are you doing that?” he asked frantically. “It was you…you somehow sent me that dream in my sleep! How dare you!”
“I was only trying to help you,” Carla’s voice replied.
“Stop it, please!”
Blake reached up and cupped both ears with his hands. He bent over and felt some long lost emotion creep up into his empty soul. He thought of Sherry again. He thought of the vivid dream lying with her on the soft blanket.
The bed began to move slightly again. He heard Sherry’s voice, just like the voice in his dream.
“I love you, Blake. Please don’t leave me. I am the closest thing you have to Sherry. You can dream the dream every night, if that’s what you want. Look at me, Blake,” Carla said telepathically.
Blake turned around, and through teary eyes, he became shocked of what he was seeing. It was Sherry! Somehow, Carla had caused Blake to see her as Sherry. Sherry was lying down on the bed with an arm stretched out in Blake’s direction.
Blake, in his manipulated state of mind, tried to free himself from his loneliness.
“I missed you Blake. Please, make love to me again,” She said, smiling.
Blake began to lose his reasoning as he tried to convince himself that Carla was causing his hallucination somehow. Something in his mind was getting in his way of reasoning. He felt a strong sense of longing for her.
Blake closed his eyes tightly. He shook his head.
“Don’t fight it, Blake,” Sherry’s voice said. “I just want you to be happy.”
Blake continued to keep his eyes closed.
He felt some reasoning return. He would open his eyes once again. It was Carla this time.
She was lying back on the bed.
“Please, Blake. It will only make things easier for you,” Carla’s voice said in his mind.
Blake suddenly longed for 2007.
“You cannot go back, Blake. We explained that to you. Please, just let me help you,” Carla said telepathically, reading his thoughts. “I love you, Blake.”
Blake suddenly began to cry.
Carla rose up and gently hugged him, placing the side of his head into her chest. She gently stroked his hair, while Blake sobbed.
“Just let it go, Blake. Let go,” Carla said in her audible voice.
Blake became more distant and numb with each passing day. The sessions with Dr. Sutton became only one per week. He had learned a lot through the sessions and his conversations with Carla. He knew a lot about the cold world that he was now a part of. However, something was missing. Some piece of the sinister puzzle was not complete. Moreover, with each passing day, Blake became more disenfranchised with the apparent reality around him, and as time passed, he felt less inclined to find the missing link. He became one with the paradox that he was faced with as his consciousness accepted his own fate. Nearly all of his questions were answered as he was now part of a world full of heartless human beings just coexisting on the eve of extinction.
Life was meaningless and empty. Machines could do anything a human could do and more. Designer drugs were mandatory as they would keep humans in a neutral emotional state, otherwise people would mentally self destruct from boredom and loneliness, causing anarchy and chaos. Now, as time was nearing the end of the 21st century, the modern human would live out his or her empty life with no legacy to leave behind to the next generation-as there would be no next generation. Only what few humans were in control within the hierarchy of society had some purpose for living.
Blake wondered where he stood within the hierarchy of this society. He was never told. According to Carla, he had to obtain a certificate of degrees that he would master to become one with the hierarchy. For now, Blake accepted what was told to him, to stay alive and mesh within the empty society of modern humans. He learned to keep his emotions in check and to control his thoughts around Carla. She had promised Blake that she would not communicate with him telepathically or read his thoughts. However, Blake would secretly not trust her, as she probably knew that also. Strangely, he became attached to her as she would help provide his needs on a daily basis.
Blake continued to live each day, learning about his new world. He would visit the nearest information zone for the news, in his brand new hover car that was provided to him by Dr. Sutton. Blake was amazed of how simple the craft was to operate. Even a child could pilot one, he often thought.
In all of the bizarre chain of events that led him to this point, Blake knew the one reason he was kept alive, was to see what kind of world that precipitated from his supposed time transporter project that he had started long ago. He admitted that he always had a fascination about the concept of time travel since his high school years. He had read several books dealing with the concept from Steven Hawking and Einstein during his college years. Even in his freshmen year of college, he wrote a paper about the subject for his English-lit class. Other than being labeled as a nerd, he was envy to most of his classmates and the professor for scoring the highest on the essay.
He secretly visualized himself as being a physics teacher someday. However, before he had realized, he seemed to be locked in, working for the State of Texas as an auditor for nine years. His dream of teaching faded with each passing year. Now, as he was living ninety years in the future, it was his future that he was witnessing which led to the extinction of the human race.
“I am glad you are adapting well, Blake,” Carla said as she smiled.
Blake momentarily took his eyes off of the hover way as they moved along on the outskirts of St. Louis.
Blake enjoyed Carla’s company. However, he still felt confined to the city. He knew he was monitored nearly every hour of the day by Dr. Sutton and his associates. Carla had told him about an isolated area just outside of the city, next to the wall of the dome. It was behind a warehouse and she would take him there at his request. He had told her that he wanted to talk to her in private and after assuring Blake that he would not be monitored, he took her at her word. Dr. Sutton would not be able to communicate with Blake at this distance, as he was told.
Blake parked his hovercraft next to a refuse container, behind the warehouse. He turned around and held Carla’s hand. He leaned in and the two embraced for another passionate kiss.
“Be careful Blake, we don’t want an audience,” Carla said grinning.
Blake smiled. “Carla, I need a favor. I know you love me and I…have grown to love you too.” Blake paused, thinking of how to word his request. “Let’s get out of here.”
“What are you saying?” She replied as she gave soft quick kisses on his lips.
“Are you not reading my mind?” Blake asked as he moved back and looked her in the eyes.
“No. I promised you, that I would not do that and I intend to keep my promise,” She said with another smile.
Blake believed her. He looked her in the eyes once more. He sensed her genuine affection for him. She was strange, but so was everyone else in this future world. However, she was all that he had. With each passing day, he had resigned to the realization that he would never see Sherry and 2007 again.
“Where do you want to go?” Carla asked.
“I want to get out of this city, Carla. I want you to come with me.”
“Why, you seem to be adjusting very well, Blake.”
“I want you to get us two one way passes to the moon. We can live there, just you and me,” Blake replied as he clutched her hand.
“Blake, I…you know I can’t do that,” She began to say. “I…belong here, in St. Louis.”
Blake looked around out into the distance at the automated factory. “You call this St. Louis?” Blake asked as he chuckled sarcastically. “Believe me, Carla, this is not St. Louis! This place…it’s…nothing compared to my world. I wish you could have been alive in my world, and then you would understand what I am saying.”
Carla became silent as she studied Blake’s expression. She lifted up her hands and tenderly cupped his face. “I understand more than you realize, Blake Edwards. Besides, you haven’t attained the degree of travel privileges within the hierarchy yet. You are only second level.”
She then, kissed his lips softly.
“Please, Carla, can you not…pull some strings? I have to get away. Please do this…for me; for us!”
Carla did not respond but planted a long compassionate kiss on Blake’s lips. Blake in turn held her tighter as he pulled her close into his body. He began to kiss her neck as Carla leaned her head back as if in a state of ecstasy.
Blake paused and looked her in the eyes waiting for her answer.
“Let me think about it,” She answered. Then she returned with seductive kisses of her own, pushing Blake to a lying position on the seat of the hovercraft as she giggled.
Dr. Noah Sutton was seated in his study, looking at a computer screen showing plans for a new civic center in the middle of the city. He was startled out of his thoughts by the chime of his entry door.
He activated a small button on his desk, making the door transparent from the inside, showing Carla standing in the outside hallway. The door opened automatically. Carla entered the room and stood just in front of Dr. Sutton’s glass desk.
“Hello Carla,” Dr. Sutton replied softly, with a smile.
“Hello, Dr. Sutton,” She responded.
“I assume you have an update?” Dr. Sutton asked, as he interlocked his fingers on his desk.
“Blake informed me earlier today that he wants to leave St. Louis,” She replied quickly with no emotion.
Dr. Sutton raised his eyebrows as if surprised. “Oh…how come?”
“He indicated that he was tired of living in this city and wanted me to get him a pass to the lunar colony.”
Dr. Sutton began to smile. “You don’t say. Well, did he give a more specific reason?”
“No sir. I believe he has accepted all that is needed for the project.”
“Are you saying you believe that he is psychologically ready for the final phase?”
“Dr Sutton smiled again. “I say you should get him the pass, Carla.”
“Yes sir, however, there is one more thing.”
Carla paused for two seconds. “He wants me to go with him.”
Dr. Sutton chuckled and stood to his feet. He walked slowly around and stood in front of his desk.
“You mean he wants you to live with him…on the moon?” Dr. Sutton asked looking more pleased.
“That is his wish, yes,” She answered.
“Obviously, you have done a wonderful job, Carla,” Dr. Sutton replied. “I can see why he is so…intrigued with you,” Dr. Sutton added as he looked at Carla from head to toe. “You are remarkably created and you seem to be one of the best in the field.”
“Thank you, sir,” She replied with a slight grin.
“I think you should…tell him that you will go with him,” Dr. Sutton said. “Convince him that you are sympathetic to his insecurities by promising that you will never leave his side.”
“As you wish, sir,” She replied.
Blake whizzed along the hover-way on his way out to check the information zone again. He wondered how long it would be before he could reach a level in society to have the privilege of owning his own information zone instead of having to go down to the public ones. He had left Carla at home this time as he told her he needed to be alone with his thoughts, before the two would leave St. Louis. She respected his wish.
Blake parked the hover car in a marked spot next to the bus station. He walked through the silent masses of people in range to activate his implanted receiver.
He looked into the hovering image of news reports of the day talking about some moon shuttle being stranded in deep space with two hundred passengers.
Blake became more attentive when another report was shown showing apparent humanoid robots being manufactured at some undisclosed plant, in the former China. Blake was amazed as the reports showed the process of a robot being manufactured and transformed into a humanoid machine, each operated by a tiny IBM processor, powered by a hydrogen cell. Male and female versions were being manufactured at an alarming rate; each programmed differently to perform their designated duties. The humanoid machines were so natural looking that Blake quickly thought of those around him. It was hard to distinguish which was human and which was a machine.
Apparently, the report was for a new “chip” which would enable the humanoids to operate as some kind of mobile communication device via satellite.
Blake could not understand the concept fully, however, he understood enough to rush back and confront Carla.
As he hovered along the avenue, he mentally tried to convince himself that Carla was not a machine. She couldn’t be! He thought. However, she never would explain how she could read other’s thoughts and send Blake dreams. He quickly thought of how he never noticed her sleeping or eating during the nearly three months that he was here. A large lump appeared in his throat. As he neared the ivory building that housed his apartment.
Blake stormed inside of his apartment looking for Carla. To his surprise, Dr. Noah Sutton was sitting alone in the great room as if waiting for Blake’s arrival. Apparently, he had been watching Blake’s every move.
Dr. Sutton noticed the confused look on Blake’s face.
“Where’s Carla?” Blake asked as he gazed at Dr. Sutton suspiciously.
“She’s not here, Blake.” He said, dryly.
“Where is she?” Blake asked, trying not to overreact.
“She’s out for the moment.”
“I need to talk to her. Uh, why…are you in my house? Blake asked, knowing his questions were meaningless.
“Please sit down, Blake. I understand why you are confused,” Dr. Suttonreplied.
“I would prefer to stand, thank you,” Blake replied condescendingly. “Now, will you tell me where Carla is?”
“Not until you sit down,” Dr. Sutton said pointing to the chair. “We need to talk.”
“I thought we completed our sessions,” Blake replied.
“Sit down, Blake!” Dr. Sutton ordered, with some agitation in his voice.
Blake paused for a moment as he gazed back through the hallway. He walked over and sat down on the plain, white chair across from the sofa that Dr. Sutton was sitting on.
“Ok, I’m sitting,” Blake quipped.
Dr. Sutton paused for a moment as he studied Blake’s expression.
“I believe you wanted to confront Carla about the report you just seen earlier, am I right?”
Blake became curious of how Dr. Sutton knew where he had been. Carla must have told him when she read his mind, Blake thought. For a moment, he even wondered if Dr. Sutton could read his mind. However, one more question was tearing at Blake.
“Uh, I did see a report about these humanoid machines being produced. I…could not believe it. They look as human as…I do. Tell me, Dr. Sutton, where is Carla?”
“Carla was ordered…went for training today.”
Blake became skeptical of Dr. Sutton’s answer.
“Training, uh, what…do you mean?”
Dr. Sutton paused as he let out a sigh. He stroked his chin as if searching for the right words. “Blake, you see, Carla is…just as you have seen on the reports, a machine. She was designed for…”
Blake’s chin dropped to the floor. He stood up from the chair quickly.
“No! No, that’s not possible!”
“Yes, Blake, it is possible and it is true.”
“You’re lying, Dr. Sutton. Carla…she’s…I mean…she is a woman, for Pete sakes!”
“Yes, Blake, in appearance or physicality she is. Carla was manufactured five months ago, to be a fully developed, adult, humanoid female, designed to be your companion and caretaker.”
“I don’t believe you! I mean…I shared with her my thoughts and…desires. We…shared our feelings just like any other couple would. You are just testing me again!”
“Did she read your thoughts, Blake?” Dr. Sutton asked calmly.
Blake paused and looked away from Dr. Sutton’s gaze. He had a point. Blake had asked Carla many times of how she was able to do it.
“How do you expect an ordinary human to read thoughts, Blake?”
Blake put his hand to his mouth. He had to admit that he always thought something was odd about Carla.
“She was manufactured just for you, Blake. She was modeled after Sherry Duncan, who later became your wife.”
Blake remained silent as he started to pace the room. He recalled the incident when he and Carla were intimate for the first time. He recalled her causing him to see her as Sherry by a mental hallucination somehow. Carla convinced him that the vision was nothing more than a reaction of the emotional stability drugs that he had been given. Apparently, she lied as Blake now realized.
“Have you ever seen her sleep, Blake? What about eating?”
Blake often wondered why Carla never ate in front of him. He just assumed she was on some kind of diet as her body was perfect.
“It was all part of the plan, Blake. Without her, you would not have made it in this society. You would have degenerated and the project would have failed.”
Blake slowly walked over and stood in front of Dr. Sutton. His anger began to boil.
Blake began to pace the room as he placed both hands on his head. “You mean…I have been having…been…intimate and…living with a freaking…robot?!
Dr. Sutton stood to his feet.
“They are not robots, per say, Blake. They are HDP’s; Humanoid Data Processors that are designed to assist humans in every aspect of day to day living. Not just number crunching and manufacturing. They…”
“You mean…those things out there are taking the place of human relationships?” Blake said, pointing out toward the wall.
“Not exactly, Blake. You see, there are many forms of HDP’s,” Dr. Sutton began as he started to walk toward Blake. “For example, and just to name a few; there are machines that are manufactured for child rearing, domestic duties, police, medical, research development, surveillance and…companionship for male or female.”
Blake rushed over, grabbed Dr. Sutton by the top of his jumpsuit and shoved him against the wall.
“You animal!” Blake replied as he gritted his teeth in front of Dr. Sutton’s face. “I…can’t believe I fell for your…sick games. Is this what you people do for kicks? This…hierarchy government as you call it, is that your form of entertainment?” Blake asked feeling nearly sick to his stomach.
Dr. Sutton’s face became pale as Blake was nearly cutting off his air from the tight grip.
“No…Blake, we…we are preserving the human race as long as possible. We…”
“You call replacing human beings with robots, preserving the species? You call developing some kind of machine that can read minds, preserving mankind? You call putting some kind of receiver in a person’s head progress? Is this why you brought me here? You wanted me to see the error of my ways, right? Why, why go to the trouble of showing me this dysfunctional society and the end of the human race, if I can’t go back? Tell me, Dr. Sutton!” Blake asked as he pounded the back of Dr. Sutton’s head against the solid wall.
Dr. Sutton began gasping for air, wanting to tell Blake their true intentions.
“I hope all of you…burn in hell!”
Blake stepped back and rammed the back of Dr. Sutton’s head into the solid wall. Immediately, Dr, Sutton fell to the floor, apparently dazed.
Dr. Sutton slowly got to his feet, and began wiping the blood from the cut on the back of his head as he labored in his breathing.
“I hate you! I hate all of you for bringing me here! Most of all, I hate what you have done to this world and the people!”
“You…can do something about it now, Blake.” Dr. Sutton replied as he wiped some of the blood away with a bare hand.
“I want to be alone now, unless you will continue to monitor me and my thoughts.” Blake said as he turned his back.
“I assure you Blake; I am unable to read your thoughts. I am flesh and blood just like you, as you can see!” Dr. Sutton replied as he reached out showing the blood on his trembling hand. “Please listen to me. This is what I wanted to talk to you about, Blake.”
“Tell Carla to come here. I want to talk to…whatever she is!” Blake said as he walked over next to the transparent wall, gazing out over the city. “Where is she?!”
“She will be reassigned,” Dr. Sutton said. “Listen. Blake. I…”
“Hum, I wondered how many times…it… has been…reassigned before me, huh?”
“You were her first assignment, Blake. She was specially manufactured to be compatible with you, prior to your arrival.”
Blake turned slowly around and looked at Dr. Sutton. “Why, Dr. Sutton, why?” he asked earnestly. “Why put me through all this…nightmare?”
“It was all for our good intentions. We wanted to make your transition as smooth as possible.”
Blake paused as he gazed back out once again. He looked up through the transparent wall at the cloudless purple sky with a half moon showing.
“Please, leave me alone, Dr. Sutton. I need some privacy.”
“I need to explain something to you, Blake.”
“I have heard enough! Get out! I want to talk to Carla!
Dr. Sutton breathed a heavy sigh, as he wiped the last trickle of blood. “Very well, just…calm down and when you are ready…”
“Just go!” Blake yelled as he pointed to the doorway.
“Goodbye, Dr. Sutton!” Blake said with his back still turned.
Dr. Sutton paused for a moment before exiting the apartment.
Blake continued to gaze out over the city in silence for a few moments.
My God, what have I done? I got to get out of here! He thought silently.
As Blake waited for Carla, he removed the two small metallic discs from the front pocket of his jumper. It was the two passes to the moon Carla had given him three days ago. He was all packed with what few clothes he had. His bag was in the bedroom ready to go. Carla had put a few of her things in it as well.
Blake Edwards had become what they wanted. He was ready to live out the rest of his life in this future world with Carla…until now.
Blake was emotionally crushed again. The thought of having a relationship with a synthetic human nearly made him sick. The deception was nearly unbearable for Blake to comprehend. He still could not make sense out of it all.
Blake was hungry. However, with Carla out of the picture, he would try to fend for himself. He missed her cooking and strangely, he missed her intimacy, even if she wasn’t a human. Blake would admit that he had never experienced such stimulating and deep conversations with anyone such as Carla-not even Sherry. He also recalled their intimate moments being more intense than anything he had ever experienced. He tried to push the thought of being intimate with a machine out of his mind. The thought was disturbing and dehumanizing. It was apparent the citizens of this future society are involved with such relationships. His anger began to boil deep within his soul.
Blake suddenly realized that he became angrier with every passing moment. It was if whatever they were using to control his emotions, no longer existed.
In the middle of his bizarre thoughts, the door opened. Blake was startled as he turned around. He was standing in the middle of the great room, looking surprised as Carla entered the door.
The first thing Blake noticed was her jump suit. It was now green instead of blue.
“Hello, Blake.” She replied in a different tone than he had been used too.
In a strange way, Blake felt happy to see her, as she stood motionless in the middle of the room. He wondered for a moment if she was reading his thoughts. He gazed at her perfect body from head to toe. Not a blemish anywhere!
Blake remained speechless as he studied her different demeanor. He quickly thought of a test. Blake sent her a thought.
He waited for a few seconds. He heard nothing in his mind. He wondered if she was still honoring his request to not read his mind.
“Where have you been, Carla?” Blake finally asked.
“Dr. Sutton informed me that you requested my presence,” She replied, seemingly to avoid Blake’s question.
Blake took a few steps toward her. She stood her ground as she looked him in the eye. Normally, she would reach out and tenderly take his hand and ask him if she could get him anything. Blake missed that.
Blake studied her eyes. They were the same; empty, soulless. Now, he understood why. However, there was something different about her.
“Why didn’t you tell me, Carla?” Blake asked calmly.
“Tell you what, Blake?” Carla replied, dryly.
“Ah come on, Carla. You know what I am talking about! Can’t you read my mind?” Blake responded sarcastically.
Carla remained speechless.
Just like a woman! “Ok, Carla. You can stop now.”
“Stop what, Blake?”
“You know what I am talking about, Carla.”
Carla remained speechless and stoic.
“Prove to me that you are…not human,” Blake said in an indifferent tone of voice.
“Your request is not necessary, Blake. You have your information,” She replied in the unemotional, almost monotone manner.
“Do it, Carla!” Blake responded in a raised voice.
Carla paused for a few seconds before she began to unzip the top of her jumpsuit.
The zipper stopped just above her synthetic navel. She unfastened her Velcro brae and put her index finger to where her sternum would be. She pushed inward and an eight inch portion in her mid section moved outward. Blake was amazed to see various fiber optic type wires being exposed. Also, three small, dim lights were flashing in a rhythmic manner as if some kind of pulse. Blake opened his mouth slightly and looked in awe. It was true! The deception was nearly unbearable.
Blake put his hands to his head, and kicked the small, chair across the room in anger. It was just as he feared! “Why, didn’t you tell me that…you were…not human?! Blake asked in anger.
“You would not have accepted me. You needed me as your caregiver and companion,” Carla replied in her normal tone of voice.
“You lied and deceived me, Carla.”
“The plan would not have worked if you would have known that I was an HDP.”
“So, what else have you lied to me about? So, there was a plan, huh? Tell me Carla what the plan was!” Blake said as he crossed his arms.
The mid section of Carla closed and sealed itself leaving no trace of a seam. She fastened her brae and zipped the jump suit up to just under her neck.
Carla paused for a couple of seconds as she computed Blake’s reaction. “You were to be assimilated as I was assigned to assist in that protocol.”
Blake chuckled sarcastically. “Now you are sounding like a robot. Oh, excuse me. I did not mean to insult you by calling you a…robot,” Blake said, sarcastically apologizing.
Carla did not change her expression.
“Are you re-assigned now? Are you…going to be another man’s…companion?” Blake asked in the same sarcastic tone. “Do you know what we call women that are like that in my time?”
Carla paused as if contemplating his reaction. “I have not been re-assigned or re-trained as of this moment.”
Blake felt some hidden relief. He wondered why he felt that way over a machine. For a moment, he could understand how the human race could be drawn to depend on the HDP’s. “Will you be re-assigned?” Blake asked curiously.
“Yes. I am to report to the HDP training facility at Fourteen hundred hours. The re-training process takes just under an hour. I will report to my newly assigned task immediately afterward.”
“What time is it now?” Blake asked.
“Eleven hundred fourteen hours,” Carle replied immediately.
“I want to ask you something Carla. Please be honest with me…or is that possible?”
Carla continued to stare into Blake’s eyes.
“Where will you be re-assigned?”
“At the hierarchy department,” Carla answered
“Processing communication data for satellites.”
“That sounds too generic, Carla,” Blake said softly.
“That’s all I was told. I will no more of the specifics when I am re-trained.”
Blake began to become more curious about her “feelings.”
“Can I ask you something else?”
Blake took another step close to Carla. He was within two feet. He wanted to test her reactions. He lifted his hand and gently stroked her soft skin-like face with the back of his hand. She did not re-act to his touch as she would have normally in the past. This puzzled Blake. If she had not been re-programmed, then he would assume she would react to his touch. Somehow, she made a conscious decision to remain distant and unresponsive.
He would test her further.
“Carla, do you still love me?” he asked.
Carla did not reply at first. “That has no merit in protocol at this time,” She said after about a three second pause.
Blake chuckled sarcastically, thinking of how she answered by purposely avoiding the question as if she had some kind of feminine element in her computer brain. She wouldn’t deny it.
Blake reached down and took her cold hand. She remained as stoic as before.
It was a strange feeling of how he had grown accustom to her companionship. Another strange feeling came over him. She was all he had in this twisted futuristic world. What now? He thought.
Blake stared her in the eyes. He studied the perfect contour of her synthetic face and features. Her lips were full, red and beautiful. Was it possible to fall in love with an HDP? As weird as the concept appeared to be, Blake determined that a man, a lonely man such as he, stranded in another time, did fall in love with her and part of him still was in love.
“I do love you, Blake Edwards,” She said in almost a whisper.
Blake reacted by stepping back. He looked Carla in the eyes.
“Machines cannot love, Carla,” Blake responded dryly.
Carla slowly lifted her hand and lightly placed it against Blake’s left check. The machine’s touch was cold, but yet sincere. She gazed at Blake with her soulless green eyes. “I was made to love you and I love you even now more than you can imagine, Blake Edwards,” she replied in a soft voice.
Blake felt her true sincerity. He took her hand.”Then why go to be re-trained? Just…stay. We have the discs for a shuttle flight to the moon. You said you would go with me!” Blake replied. “We’ll…work through this somehow! You are all I have, Carla!”
“My assignment as your caregiver and companion has now been terminated. It is time for you to move on to the final part of the project,” she replied as she removed her hand from Blake’s.
“I don’t understand Carla…you seemed…so happy with me. I’ll admit I have…gotten used to you…Carla. Here I am in the strangest land. I have lost everything. My life as I knew it has been destroyed. My parents, all my relatives, what few friends I had are all gone. I have nobody but you. I am stuck in a moment of time, that no one has given me a clear answer as to why I was brought here. If I can’t go back, then why bother? If I invented this…this…time machine or transporter as they call it, then why not go back and kill me or, do something to prevent it from being developed?”
Blake stepped away from Carla’s gaze and turned his back toward her. He wheeled back around. “You see, it makes no sense, Carla! Why bring me here to this time? Why not send it back and get one of my parents before they met, huh? That way…uh…I wouldn’t have been born. It makes no sense!”
“It had to be this way, Blake. It is the only way to rectify the past and preserve humanity.”
“What does a machine know about…humanity?!” Blake asked as he turned his back and took a few steps toward the transparent wall. “No one has ever given me a logical explanation as to why humans are going extinct!”
There was a brief silence as Blake looked out over the vast city.
“Then, I will tell you,” Carla had finally said, as she took a few steps toward Blake.
Carla began going in to a long scientific explanation of how human chromosomes were altered due to the effects of mutations on the human chromosome brought about by cobalt radiation that somehow found its way, affecting the chromosomes of the survivors. Blake still could not make sense out of what she was trying to tell him. Apparently, cobalt bombs were secretly manufactured after such ideas in the twentieth century were considered next to impossible.
Her seemingly, vast, unlimited knowledge had always fascinated Blake. Now that the truth was made known about her, he understood why.
“So, in human terms, you are saying that the effects of radiation in the atmosphere from the nuclear war caused the genetic anomalies?” Blake asked.
“Yes, in simplified summery,” She answered.
“I assume that what you are saying is all of this was brought on by my so called time transporter?”
“Why couldn’t Dr. Sutton tell me that?”
“He tried to. You became violent and assaulted him. That is why I was allowed to explain everything to you now.”
Blake paused for a few seconds until a thought occurred to him. “Well, if I can’t go back, then, how can the past become rectified?”
Carla did not answer. Blake knew he was on to something. It was the missing puzzle piece. Carla just stood in silence. Blake glanced over at their bags. His anger began to boil once again. “I trusted you! You betrayed me, Carla.”
“I am sorry you are angry, Blake,” Carla replied in a soft voice. “However, I must continue here as I am assigned.”
Blake felt shattered once again. First it was Sherry, now it was Carla. Even if she was a machine, it still didn’t change the fact that he had grown to love and depend on her. Now, he realized that an HDP, with all of its vast intelligence and capabilities, was unable to love. It would only act out its pre-programmed assignments. He felt disgust as well as sadness.
“I hate you! All of this is madness!” Blake replied by raising his voice again
He gritted his teeth and looked into Carla’s unemotional face. “Get out of my sight! Get out you…freak!”
Carla slowly turned around and walked to the door. As the door opened automatically, she paused. She looked around and noticed Blake had turned away and was looking out through the wall of his apartment again. She briefly processed his hurtful feelings as she stood at the threshold of the door. She made a conscious decision to make an informal response to his pain that she sensed. She processed his thoughts once again.
“Good Bye, Blake. I will miss you too,” She said telepathically.
As Blake whirled around, he noticed Carla taking her index finger to her left eye and wiping away a tear. Carla looked at the tear droplet on her finger trying to process something that she had never experienced.
Blake paused in his anger and noticed Carla’s sadness. They both looked at each other for a few more seconds before Carla turned and exited the room.
“Carla!” Blake screamed, after his door closed behind her.
Blake moved swiftly over to the door and followed Carla out. As he stepped out into the marble hallway, he noticed her walking away to the elevator.
“Carla! Carla, wait!” Blake yelled after her. “I’m sorry!”
Blake began to run toward Carla as she reached the elevator. The elevator doors opened and Carla stepped in quickly. She turned around as Blake approached the closing doors.
For a moment, Blake noticed her tears were running down both sides of Carla’s face. Then, just as Blake reached for the door, the elevator was sealed shut. Carla was gone.
“What have you done?! How could you do this to humanity?!” Screamed Blake, as he looked around the hallway.
“It was not us, Blake. It was you. It was you who designed the transporter which in turn destroyed the world as you knew it,” Dr. Sutton’s voice replied again as he had been monitoring Blake and Carla’s conversation.
“No!” Blake screamed again.
“Yes, Blake. Look around. As I have tried to explain to you, this world is a result of your work!”
Blake put both hands to his ears and screamed again as if in agony. Blake rushed back into his apartment and grabbed his only suitcase.
He rushed back out into the hallway and took the second elevator to the bottom floor of where his hovercraft was parked.
Blake traveled over to the other side of the city to the shuttle port. He had heard Dr. Sutton’s voice asked repeatedly of where he was going. Blake had refused to answer his many attempts. Blake soon realized that the implanted receiver must have some kind of range as Dr. Sutton’s voice had vanished. He would bet Dr. Sutton would have the synthetic police on his trail at any time.
Blake was surprised to find that no one had tried to stop him as he paid his fare for the one way ticket to the moon.
Blake forced himself to conceal his anger as he walked along the shuttle port lobby looking for the correct boarding gate. He quickly gazed at the other folks who were going along with their blank stares as usual. As his pace slowed, he noticed a young couple, male and female in their twenties, in fount of him. They were arm in arm. Of course they both were attractive and from what all Blake had learned, it was hard to tell which one was a machine. Blake guessed it was the male by how well his physic was. Blake turned his head as the couple stopped to kiss and giggle as if two love-struck teenagers. The thought became even more disgusting as time went by.
Blake reached the gate and casually looked behind his shoulder wondering if Dr. Sutton had any of his security machines following. All he noticed was the silent masses of people strolling to their respective gates, being shuttle to various parts of the world or the space port.
There was a middle-aged, Caucasian, single woman who was in front of him, waiting to board the escalator which would move them up to the boarding ramp of the space shuttle.
He smelled her perfume. It was sweet. She must be human, He thought. He could not recall Carla ever wearing any kind of fragrance as she never had any reason too. Nevertheless, he would take no chances by striking up a conversation. Friendliness had no place in this future society.
Blake took a window seat and waited while the hydrogen engines powered up. The top of the airlock opened up as the shuttled ascended vertically above. Soon, the shuttle was a thousand feet in the air as Blake looked out over the scorched landscape that used to be Missouri. The shuttle picked up speed and was heading up into the outer expanse of the earth’s atmosphere toward the orbiting space port.
Blake was amazed of how smooth the artificial gravity took effect as they reached the upper atmosphere and into the weightlessness of space. He gazed out of his window at the magnificent view of earth below. It looked strange and barren, not as he remembered the pictures from the astronaut’s recording while growing up in his own time.
In a few moments, he heard a computerized female voice indicating that the shuttle of seventy passengers would be reaching Space Port Two in less than three minuets.
After reaching the docking port, the passengers were directed to proceed off of the shuttle, onto the boarding ramp of the space port. Before getting out of his seat, Blake noticed three gigantic, deep space vessels, at least a quarter of a mile long, docked just beyond of where the shuttle had came to rest. He guessed they were cargo ships awaiting departure to the Mars and lunar colonies, as smaller, automated ships were on-loading their cargo, going back and forth from earth. Just beyond the three huge space vessels, he could make out a smaller vessel that must be the lunar shuttle he was to board.
Blake reached the inside of the space port lobby and followed the orange signs that indicated direction to the gate for moon departures. He kept his eyes forward and looked emotionless as possible as he rounded the wide corridors with his small suitcase in hand. He could hear a female computer voice announcing various departure times with the corresponding flight numbers. He noticed of how clean and pristine the walls and high ceilings were with their decorative crystal and porcelain. The place was amazing. Blake was startled as he heard a hissing sound from over his head on the twenty-foot ceiling. He looked up and almost directly overhead, was a robotic polisher that was hovering back and forth on the ceiling collecting what little dust there were. Blake stopped briefly and watched the small device as it went along on its programmed assignment. The attractive middle-aged woman whom Blake noticed earlier, bumped into him accidently as he stood in the middle of the hallway. Blake immediately realized that he must have looked odd staring at a piece of machinery that everyone else thought no mind of.
“Excuse me. I was…” Blake reacted as he noticed her glancing back at him.
“It’s ok.” She said in a soft voice, as if ashamed to speak aloud. She turned her head and kept walking.
Blake knew for certain that she was human by the reaction in her eyes. It was the first time someone actually spoke to him other than Dr. Sutton.
With that thought, Blake kept his eye on her as she made her way out into the main lobby of the space port far ahead of him.
Blake reached the large lobby and noticed a giant window with a magnificent view of earth. It was breathtaking to say the least. Blake wanted to just stop and be in awe, but knew he must keep walking to blend in with the other stoic travelers. There were chase recliners in several rows facing the mammoth observation window with weary travelers relaxing. There was classical music coming from the hidden speakers, which permeated the lobby with perfect acoustical precision. Ironically, Blake recognized the music being the piece played for the 1968 movie, “A Space Odyssey,” one of his favorite science fiction films.
Blake soon discovered that during his view of the earth, he had lost sight of the woman whom had accidently ran into him. As before, he kept following the signs to the moon shuttle entrance gate. He turned to look behind and noticed that two security HDP’s were trailing him from about one hundred feet.
“You got to be kidding me.” Blake muttered in a low voice to himself as he quickened his pace.
Blake could see the shuttle gate ahead as he hurried along. In his stride he discovered that the middle-aged woman was reaching the top of the boarding ramp entering the shuttle. Some other travelers were looking at him oddly not being used to someone running through the space port lobby. Blake glanced back over his shoulder as the two machines began to run after him. Blake ran faster, pushing a few of the travelers out of the way that were in front of him. Two of the people fell to the floor, but did not react verbally. As the two synthetic security men raced through the remaining bystanders, three humans were knocked off of their feet and sent flying through the air as if they were lifeless ragdolls. One man was flung against the wall and was killed instantly, why the other two lay on the floor badly injured.
In no more than a few seconds, the two synthetic humans reached Blake and grabbed him by both arms with their death grips and wrestled him to the floor, just a few feet from the shuttle boarding gate.
“Let me go!” Blake yelled as the two machines held him down with his shoulders to the floor.
Blake managed to free his leg and kick one of the machines in his face. It did not even phase the thing. Blake was flipped over with his face buried to the floor. Several bystanders began looking on emotionless as Blake continued to scream.
Blake felt a slight prick as one of the guards injected a drug into his right upper arm. Almost immediately, Blake felt lethargic and was drifting into unconsciousness.
As before, Blake awoke being surrounded by the white light of a windowless room. He felt drugged as he struggled to make out the figures around him. He tried to count them. He thought there were four people, all in white lab coats just as they were when he first arrived. He realized he was being wheeled down a hallway on a gurney. He looked straight up and saw a familiar face. It was Dr. Noah Sutton. He cast an eerie expression downward, almost sorrowful, as he looked into Blake’s face.
“Where…am I?” Blake asked in a weak voice.
“It is time Blake,” Dr. Sutton replied.
“What do you mean?” Blake asked as he looked around at the other assistants, two males and one female. “What, what’s going on? What are you people up to now?” Blake asked as he looked up at Dr. Sutton. “Carla?”
Dr. Sutton did not respond as he walked along glancing down at his grandfather periodically.
“Where’s Carla? Where is she?” Blake asked, feeling groggy.
“She has been reassigned,” Dr. Sutton replied.
Blake suddenly realized that he was nearly naked. He raised his head slightly using as much strength as he could and noticed that he had on just his white underwear that he was wearing the day he arrived. “Where…are you taking me?” Blake asked.
“Just try to relax, Blake. This will all be over soon.” Dr. Sutton responded as they entered a large room.
Blake immediately recognized the room of being the area of where he arrived in the time transporter device. Just as before, there were at least a dozen technicians all in white, at various stations, monitoring small data screens.
“How much time?” Dr. Sutton asked one of his associates to the right sitting in front of a screen.
“It’s a go, Doctor,” The man replied. “The trajectory path has neared the apex.”
Blake could tell the man was a real human, as everyone else was in the room. Blake slowly moved his head over and noticed a screen displaying strange diagrams of funnels, interacting with each other. A streak of light was intersecting both funnels, disappearing about halfway through. Blake noticed that to the right, a glass capsule was sitting on a platform of coils and electronic circuitry. There were coils and cables over the casket sized pod that were attached to the ceiling.
He heard a strange humming noise, the closer he got to the pod. He also felt the hair on his arms tingle as he felt the power emanating from the device.
“What are you doing?” Blake asked.
Dr. Sutton stood to the left of Blake as they parked the gurney beside the pod.
“You are going back, Blake. It is time for you to go home. That was what I was trying to tell you at your dwelling before you…reacted violent toward me.”
Blake felt some confusion as well as excitement. He also felt more anger as he realized they knew all along he could return to his present time. Blake shook his head as he looked up at Dr. Sutton. “Why? Why did you lie to me?”
“You had to see for yourself and believe what the future held if you continued on with your desire to experiment with nature. Now, you have seen the future. It is our hope that you alter your plans and preserve our species, Blake.” Dr. Sutton replied.
Blake became speechless. He silently agreed and understood their good intentions.
Dr. Sutton nodded to the other two men that were next to him. Slowly, they lifted Blake off of the gurney and inside of the pod.
Dr. Sutton walked over and looked down at Blake who was lying on his back inside of the pod.
He reached in, and placed his hand on Blake’s left shoulder. “Goodbye, Grandfather and good luck,” Dr. Sutton replied with a smile.
Blake responded with a slight nod of his head.
The glass began to close and seal. Blake could hear some kind of buzzing alarm as the others began to leave the room to the observation deck.
In just a few seconds, Blake felt a slight jerk and tingling sensation. He heard ringing in his ears as a bright red glow began to encompass the room.
Suddenly, the glow traveled within the pod as Blake felt his body becoming one with the light.
His mind suddenly empted as he felt his body separate from it’s natural form. Then, he felt a sense of nothingness.
Blake felt tired. His body hurt from head to toe. He rolled back and forth on the hard surface trying to open his eyes. As he strained to open one eye, he felt a burning sensation. As he opened the other eye, the burning was in both eyes. He lay on his side as drool was coming out of his mouth. His tongue felt numb as if he had ten shots of Novocain. The metallic taste in his mouth made him nearly sick. There was something in his blurry vision that was coming toward him. He tried to make out what it was as the creature approached. He felt frightened but was to numb to react. He turned on his back. His vision was blurry as some kind of device was turning overhead. Something walked on his body. He felt a slight pressure as something was walking or crawling across his bare chest. He tried to raise his head but was too weak. He wanted to speak but was unable. His ears began to ring as his body felt tingling within every nerve. He began to feel the hard surface below his body. Feeling was coming back. He blinked his eyes several times trying to focus on the spinning object above his head.
After a minuet or two, the object began to come into focus. It had blades and was turning a constant speed.
The mysterious creature hoped back on his chest and began to stare at Blake in the face.
Blake felt some terror as he tried to make out the creature that was in front of his eyes. The creature jumped off just as Blake moved his head slightly.
Blake stared at the turning blades that seemed to be descending toward him.
No! It was stationary! Blake thought. God, what are they up to now?
Something was different. It was a fan. It was attach to the ceiling and three light fixtures were protruding from it! Blake felt some of his strength returning as he lifted his head. He looked around the room. It looked familiar to Blake. It was his kitchen! Something pounced on his naked body.
“Toby! Is that you, Toby?” Blake grunted, in a whisper.
Toby rubbed up against Blake’s shoulder, purring rapidly.
Suddenly, Blake heard his cell phone ringing from somewhere in the house. It sounded as if it were in his bedroom.
Blake rolled over and slowly lifted himself to a seated position. His head pounded as if he had a massive hangover. After a few seconds, his dizziness began to subside enough for Blake to try to stand.
The cell phone played Blake’s ring tone over and over which was The Who’s “Who are you”, as it was the theme song for Blake’s favorite TV show, CSI. He struggled to rise up on his knees. He noticed the phone had quit ringing after six rings.
Blake stood to his feet, wobbling as the tingling sensation continued. He could barely feel his feet on the floor. “God…it was a dream…how real!” he said to himself as he took small steps to his bedroom, using the wall as a crutch. He felt a sense of euphoria.
As Blake entered the room, he noticed that the clock on the night stand was blinking 12:00. The blinds were down and the room was dark. Blake limped over and adjusted the blinds which let some light in. The small, amount of light, hurt Blake’s eyes when he tried to peer out of his apartment window. It was a bright sunny day as a few cars were going by below.
“Sherry!” Blake said aloud in a raspy voice.
He noticed that his phone was on the night stand just where he had left it when he last put it down before the harrowing experience.
Felling some more movement in his legs, Blake hurried over to the stand and speed dialed Sherry’s number. She answered during the first ring.
“Blake, are you ok?” Sherry asked as soon as she answered.
Blake let her voice resonate as he could not believe what he was hearing. He paused as she spoke his name again.
“Blake, what’s going on? Is this you?” She asked almost frantically.
“Sher…Sherry, is…this you?” Blake asked still in some-what dreamy state, with his gravely voice.
“Blake, you sound horrible! Are you sick or something?” Sherry asked, hearing his strained voice, struggling to communicate.
Blake took a few deep breaths, trying not to overreact.
“Blake? Tell me your ok! I’ve been trying to call you all morning! It is ten forty!”
“Uh…yeah, Sherry. I…I have not been feeling well,” Blake answered as he sat down on his un-made bed.
Blake felt his head clearing by the second.
“Do you want me to get you anything, or come over…?”
“Sherry! Tell me something!” Blake suddenly said cutting her off in mid sentence.
“What is it, Blake?” She replied sounding confused.
“What is the date? Uh…what is today?”
“Excuse me?” Sherry replied
“Please, just tell me!” Blake replied frantically.
“It’s Sunday, why?”
“What year?” Blake asked hurriedly.
“Why do you want to know that? What’s wrong?” She asked sounding perplexed.
“Just tell me, please!
“It’s September twenty third, two thousand and seven.”
“My…God what a night mare! I’m sorry, Sherry, I…had a rough night,” Blake said as he breathed in relief.
“Listen Blake, you don’t sound so good. Anyway, after the phone went dead last night, I tried calling you on your cell, but got nothing. When I woke up this morning, I have been trying to reach you since seven-thirty! Did you not hear your phone?” She asked with concern.
“No…no Sherry I didn’t. I must have…been sound asleep.”
Sherry paused for a second. “Listen; do you want me to come over? Do you want me to bring you some medicine or something?”
“Yes, please,” Blake answered calmly.
After thirty minutes, Sherry arrived at Blake’s apartment. Blake had showered, put on fresh clean clothes and was lying on the bed feeling fatigued when a knock was heard at his door. He tiredly got up off of the bed and approached his door. He looked out of the peep hole and noticed it was Sherry waiting with a bag of something.
He still felt emotionally numb after the experience and wondered how he would react being with her.
Blake opened the door. Sherry looked at him with surprise. “Blake, uh are you ok?” She asked as she noticed something different about him.
“I am now, that you are here,” He replied in a weak voice. “Come in.”
Sherry noticed his weight loss and sunk in face. To her it looked as if he had aged ten years. “I brought you some veggie soup. Are you hungry?” She asked as she walked in and sat the pot down on a small table in his living room.
Blake stared at her as she approached him again. He could not help but think of the relationship he had had with Carla…if it was a dream, he felt guilty. It all seemed so real being in a futuristic world for nearly three months. He wanted to embrace her, but he did not want to push her away. They had only kissed one time, apparently, the night before.
“You look terrible, Blake…I mean…you look much thinner than you did last night.” Sherry said.
She lifted her hand and felt his forehead. Blake immediately felt her warm touch in contrast to Carla’s coldness.
“You’re ice cold! Maybe I should take you to the clinic or ER.”
“No!” Blake reacted suddenly. “Uh…I will be all right. I just need to lie down for a little while.”
Sherry reacted by looking strangely at Blake. “Well, alright, if you say so.”
Blake reached for her hand. It felt warm and soft.
“Come on, get back in bed. I will tuck you in.” Sherry said as she began to lead Blake toward his bedroom.
Blake followed slowly behind her with his hand in hers.
Blake slowly lie back on top of the covers and put his head on the pillow. His body still hurt from the ordeal.
“Are you hungry? I think if you eat something like hot soup, it would make you feel better,” She said.
Blake just looked up at her gazing in her eyes, not saying anything. His throat was still parched and sore. He wanted water more than anything.
“Let me take the soup to the kitchen and zap it a minuet or two in your microwave.”
Blake nodded in agreement as he looked up at his ceiling.
As Sherry walked out of the bedroom, Blake was startled by what he was looking at on his bedroom ceiling. There were strange burn markings which resembled dark streaks fanning out from the direction of the window. Blake slowly rose up and leaned the back of his head on his bed frame, staring at the markings.
“No…it was a dream. It didn’t happen!” He whispered to himself in disbelief.
“Blake!” Sherry yelled from the kitchen.
Blake suddenly took his attention away from the ceiling hearing Sherry’s voice.
He slowly rose off of the bed and walked through the living room to his kitchen.
Blake noticed Sherry staring in bewilderment at something on the kitchen floor, as she was still holding the pot of soup.
“What…what’s going on?” Blake asked as he noticed her.
“What is that, Blake?” She asked pointing to the floor.
Blake was startled as he noticed scorched marks which outlined of where his body was lying on the kitchen floor. The same pattern of black streaks fanned out in every direction on his tan linoleum floor.
Sherry just looked at Blake waiting for an explanation. Blake was speechless. He couldn’t think of any explanation unless his nightmare had really happened. He wouldn’t dare tell Sherry about it; at least not now.
“Well, what happened here?” She asked again.
Blake shook his head back and forth. “I…I had a nightmare, Sherry.” Blake finally said. He quickly thought of something else. “It must have been a fire. I must have had some kind of…accident or something.”
“What…what are you not telling me?” She asked, looking at Blake with utter confusion.
“Nothing…I mean…I don’t know what happened. I remember waking up on the kitchen floor.”
Sherry glanced back down at the outline. “Did you get burned? Have you checked yourself?” She asked.
“No.” he answered.
Sherry sat the pot of soup down on the small kitchen table. “Take your shirt off,” She ordered.
Blake slowly lifted his Dallas Cowboys sweatshirt up and over his head.
“Turn around,” She said.
Blake complied by reluctantly turning his bare back toward Sherry.
“Blake, you have red marks all over your back. It’s streaked just like the floor. Does it hurt?”
“Uh…a little. I will be fine; I promise,” Blake replied.
“I really think you need to see a doctor. I have never seen such strange markings.”
Blake hurriedly put his sweatshirt on. His head began to burst with pain. He raised his hands to his head.
“Blake! What is wrong? Tell me!”
“I…I need to lie down.” He said.
“Let me get you some Tylenol,” She said as she looked in his medicine cabinet.
Sherry found the medicine and ran some water in a glass. She handed him the water and two extra strength tablets.
Blake thanked her and swallowed the tablets. He began walking back to his bedroom. Sherry silently and caringly followed.
She gently helped him under the covers.
“I need to sleep a little more. I will be alright after a nap,” Blake said in a weak voice.
“I will stay if you need me too,” Sherry said.
Blake just nodded his head.
Sherry remained in the room for nearly an hour to make sure that Blake was ok. He had drifted off to sleep in a matter of minuets. She then closed his door, went back to the living room and began to straighten his apartment, occupying her time.
As Blake awoke, he found himself strangely thinking about Carla. He missed her. He thought back to the last conversation they had. Carla had tried to explain the genetic anomaly that had mysteriously occurred over time believed to have been brought on by the consequence of nuclear war. She had told him that once humanity were extinct, machines such as herself, would have no meaning and would eventually become obsolete. He tried to visualize her world with no humans but only machines carrying on a meaningless form of existence. He could not fathom a future such as what he had seen. The more he thought about it, the more terrifying it became.
It was true; Blake had plans of returning to school and obtaining a doctorate in physics. It was true; he had visualized himself standing in front of a class full of college students, teaching quantum physics! He had thought about doing that for years but kept the idea to himself. Now, everything is different. Dream or not a dream, his vision of the future was forever changed.
Sherry gently knocked on his bedroom door as she heard him tossing and turning.
“Come on in, Sherry. I’m awake now,” Blake ordered as his voice was finally coming back.
Sherry walked slowly in the room with a smile. She noticed Blake’s melancholy expression as she approached his bedside.
“Do you feel better now?” She caringly asked.
“I don’t know. I feel a little stronger.”
“Do you want me to get you anything else?”
“No thank you.”
Sherry noticed that Blake had been crying as his eyes were watered. She would not press the issue.
Blake lay flat on his back, staring at the streaked ceiling above.
“So, what are you thinking?” Sherry asked, reluctantly.
Blake slowly turned his head back toward Sherry. “I guess I am just thinking about the…future.”
“Oh?” Sherry replied.
“What about it?”
Blake did not answer right away as he paused trying to find the words. He knew all to well how the future would play out if he continued on with his plans. No way would he ever tell Sherry about his experience, not only would she think he was a lunatic, but he would risk loosing her as well. This was something Blake would have to live with for the rest of his life.
“I think I will take a couple of days off work starting tomorrow. I…I just need some time to think about what I want to do in life.”
Sherry looked down at Blake with a puzzled look. Blake could tell that she was confused.
“I will be alright Sherry. I just need some time alone, you know just to think.”
Sherry bent down and planted a soft kiss on Blake’s forehead. “I understand. Do you want me to leave now?”
Blake gently took hold of her hand. “No, stay with me for a while longer.”
Two days has passed since Blake’s return to the present. He needed one final proof that what he had experienced actually happened. The proof would be this day as he waited out in the lobby of the Dallas Eye, Ear and Throat Clinic. He had been referred by his personal doctor to the ear specialist. He had gone to the doctor the next day after his arrival faking a sever ear and headache. His doctor could not find anything thus referred him on to the specialist for a next day appointment.
Blake lay on his side while Dr. Trent inserted a micro camera deep into his ear canal.
He watched the fifty-four year-old specialist’s expression as Dr. Trent studied the computer screen beside him on the counter.
Blake strained his eyes up to the screen, hoping to get a glimpse of the tiny radio device that was supposedly implanted in 2097. From what Blake could distinguish, there was nothing on the screen but the dark ear canal and gobs of wax that the tiny light would pick up.
“Do you see anything?” Blake asked as the device tickled his ear canal.
“No. Just as the other canal, everything appears to be normal, Mr. Edwards. There are no signs of irritation and the ear drum appears normal. However, we could do a scan if we don’t find anything visually,” Dr. Trent replied.
“Well…what about all of this pain? Something is not right I tell you,” Blake said, knowing full well of his fabricated story.
Blake noticed the doctor’s strange expression as he looked back at the screen. He looked again.
“What is it?” Blake asked hoping he had found the device.
“I don’t know. The camera picked up something near the tympanic membrane on the lower wall…but it…wait….hold on, I see something!” Dr. Trent said.
Br. Trent adjusted his controls to get a higher magnification. “What the…”
Dr. Trent stopped in mid sentence as he studied the strange object on high magnification, attached to his canal next to the drum.
“Well, what is it? What do you see?” Blake asked excitedly.
“I…I don’t know Mr. Edwards. There seems to be something lodged…or attached to your lower canal. It…looks like it is fused with the canal and the tympanic membrane. Humm…strange.”
“What does it look like?” Blake asked.
Dr. Trent did not answer as he turned the screen away to make sure Blake was not looking.
“Please lie very still.” Dr. Trent ordered.
Dr. Trent walked over to interphone on the wall. “Travis, would you come in room six please?”
Dr. Trent continued to remain silent as he studied different angles of the mysterious device in Blake’s head. In about 45 seconds, another doctor entered the room. It was Dr. Travis Shelton, Dr. Trent’s partner in the practice. He was about ten years younger and Blake noticed a Dallas Cowboys button attached to the front of his white coat. He was handsome and built very well-apparently worked out a lot, thought Blake.
“What’s going on?” Travis asked.
“Take a look at this, will you? What do you make of it?” Dr. Trent replied as he stepped back a few steps.
Blake watched Dr. Shelton study the screen.
“Are you recording this?” Dr. Shelton asked.
“Oh yes. Does that thing look like…what does that look like to you?” Dr. Trent asked.
“Can you get a closer look?” Dr. Shelton asked.
“I’ll try. I am about maxed out now with resolution. Give me a few seconds to come in focus…there!”
Dr. Shelton was speechless for a few seconds. “Do you see that writing on that thing?” Dr. Shelton asked
“Holy gamoly!” Dr. Trent exclaimed.
To both doctor’s astonishment, the screen showed a tan, oval, object about the size of a pin head attached with something that resembled tiny landing pods fused in with the tissue of Blake’s canal. On top of the surface of the receiver was stenciled:
Both doctors glanced back at Blake while he studied their expressions of bewilderment.
“I told you something was there.” Blake said. “Please tell me what it is.”
Without answering Blake, the doctors continued to look at different angles of the tiny device.
“Have you ever heard of such a thing?” Dr. Trent asked his partner.
“Heck no, maybe in the movies,” Replied Dr. Shelton, as he studied the screen. “Where is it that you work?” Dr. Shelton asked as he looked at Blake with suspicion.
Blake closed his eyes, realizing they had found the device that was implanted from the future. It was true! It was all the proof Blake needed. He felt some relief; however, he wondered what was to become of this incident. He was sure that they would question him till no end, and possibly contact the proper authorities, on their discovery.
“I work for the State of Texas…uh, the accounting Division, why?” Blake answered finally.
Dr. Trent walked up close to Blake. “Mr. Edwards, have you been around any…electronic equipment or components lately?”
Both doctors glanced at each other.
“There appears to be a…tiny…obstruction, attached deep inside of your lower ear canal that needs…further…investigating,” Dr. Trent replied with concern on his face.
Blake tried to play innocent.
“Is it…a tumor?” Blake asked.
Both doctors glanced at each other again.
“How long has the patient had pain?” Dr. Shelton asked as he turned to Dr. Trent.
“He said two days,” Dr. Trent answered.
“Would one of you tell me what you see?” Blake asked.
“There seems to be some kind of foreign materiel that has somehow lodged to your lower canal next to the ear drum,” Dr. Trent finally answered.
“What kind of materiel?” Blake asked.
Dr. Trent paused for a few seconds as he looked back at the screen. “I am afraid I cannot answer that at this time, sir. That’s why…we need to investigate this further before we can give you the specifics.”
“Could I…just see it…please?” Blake asked.
Dr. Trent glanced over at Dr. Shelton. Dr. Shelton shrugged his shoulders slightly without saying a word. Blake could tell both men had never seen anything like it, nor would they ever again in their lifetime.
Dr. Trent turned the computer monitor around. Blake was amazed as he studied the magnified image of the futuristic transmitter and receiver. It was just as Dr. Noah Sutton had said. Blake hoped any kind of spectacle would not come from this discovery. He also wondered if he had somehow altered the future again by introducing this future device to the present time. Nevertheless, Blake just needed one final ounce of proof. Now, he had it. It really happened!
Blake was left in the examination room alone for nearly thirty minuets. He assumed that the two doctors were off somewhere discussing the device or, perhaps on a conference call with other specialists sharing their discovery. He wondered how big of a Pandora’s Box he had opened; however, he had to have his proof. Now he had it, regardless of what consequences were to come.
The half-hour seemed like an eternity as Blake recalled everything that he had been through. He thought of Carla again. He also thought of his relationship with Sherry. He felt weird about all of that. He thought back to his intimate moments with Carla and felt ashamed. He knew Sherry had no clue about it. He tried to justify the relationship with Carla by convincing himself that he was sure he would never get back to his present time and that Carla had in all practical appearance, seemed physically human. Nevertheless, it happened and it would be something that would certainly stay in the closet. He felt nauseated again from being so manipulated…
The door to the examination room opened, interrupting Blake’s thoughts. He welcomed the distraction. Both doctors had a serious look on their face. Dr. Trent pulled up the stainless steel stool and seated himself beside the table. Blake had since rose to a seated position. Dr. Travis Shelton stood just behind Dr. Trent with an indifferent expression that suggested his collogue was about to go into a Dr. /patient lecture.
“Mr. Edwards, we apologized for keeping you waiting,” Began Dr. Trent “However, we need to discuss a strategic game plan here for you. This…component must be removed immediately due to a possibility of inner ear trauma, or infection which could possibly set in if we leave the…object alone.”
Blake knew Dr. Trent was feeding him a line of bull. He studied their faces and sensed their suspiciousness. If there was one thing that Blake learned through his harrowing experience, it was his ability to read people’s emotion and sense their intentions better than he ever could.
Dr. Trent continued.
“This…is a serious matter, Mr. Edwards. What Dr. Shelton and I discussed a moment ago, was that in order for us to go ahead with a course of action, we need to place you in a proper environment that is more equipped to handle such a delicate…procedure.”
Blake became alarmed. “What procedure…Doctor? Can you not just…do something about it here?”
Dr. Trent paused as Dr. Shelton folded his arms but kept the same expression.
“No. There is an auditory specialist in Houston at Texas Medical that only deals with ear abnormalities. He is a renowned surgeon nationwide and has had years of experience…”
“Surgery?” Blake responded, cutting Dr. Trent off. “Why, surgery? Can you not just get one of your tools and go in and remove it?”
“It’s not that simple, Mr. Edwards. You see…”
“Dr. Trent, I…I got to be back to work tomorrow,” Blake interjected.
Dr. Shelton unfolded his arms and cleared his throat. “Mr. Edwards, this object, or what ever it is, has seemed to fuse itself with your canal membrane. It is so close to your ear drum, that we here at this clinic, do not have the skills and equipment necessary to undertake this procedure. Quiet frankly Mr. Edwards; we have never seen anything like it in our practice. If left unattended, your chances of developing an infection and going deaf are quite high.”
Blake did not respond for a moment. He realized that the two doctors were dealing with an unknown. However, he had one question on his mind. “When…would I need to have it removed?”
Blake noticed Dr. Shelton’s eyes glance down at Dr. Trent as if waiting on him to give Blake the news. There was a slight pause as Dr. Trent exhaled.
“We need to go ahead and arrange for your transportation today.”
“Today? I mean, don’t I at least get to go home and pack a few things and make arrangements with my job?” Blake asked.
“Our office will make those arrangements for you, Mr. Edwards. As far as clothing, you will be provided for during your admittance,” Dr. Trent answered.
“Admitted? You mean I am going to have to stay there in…the hospital?”
“Yes, just long enough to monitor your post surgical condition and run a few tests,” Dr. Shelton answered.
Dr. Trent looked up over his right shoulder at Dr. Shelton briefly and nodded his head in agreement.
Blake became silent again. Something wasn’t right. They just weren’t telling him everything and he could sense it. Blake was used to being lied too, he thought.
“I have a cat that needs to be fed. Uh…I need to call my…girlfriend and let her know about this, ok?”
Dr. Trent glanced down at Blake’s flip phone clipped to his belt.
“Go ahead. You have ample time for that,” He replied.
Blake waited for the two doctors to leave the room. However, they did not. Blake knew they were on to something and didn’t trust him.
“Uh…If you all don’t mind, could I have a moment?”
Dr. Trent got up from the stool and glanced at Dr. Shelton.
“I’ll have the receptionist get in contact with Mr. Edward’s employer.” Dr. Shelton said as he turned to leave the room
“I need to fill out some paperwork and work on getting your flight ready. If you will excuse me, I will just be over here at this desk working on that. You can go ahead and call. Just…pretend I’m not here,” Dr. Trent said with a fake smile.
The suspicion was so thick; you could cut it with a knife, thought Blake. Clearly, Dr. Trent did not want Blake out of his sight. Blake also wondered who else they contacted.
Sherry Duncan was in the break room of her office chatting with one of the secretaries about someone pinching off a section of the human resources lady’s birthday cake. She giggled knowing that Mrs. King would grit her teeth not being the first to sample the giant slab of a sugar square on her fifty-seventh birthday.
Her cell phone rang a chime on her hip. Sherry glanced down at her phone and noticed that Blake’s name appeared on the illuminator.
“Excuse me, Bobbie.” Sherry said as she made her way out of the break room and into the hall. The fifty-two year-old bleached, blond followed her out and went the opposite direction, swinging her hips, back to her little cube.
“Blake, how are you?”
“Listen, Sherry, I am at the Dallas Eye, Ear and Throat Clinic getting that check up I told you about. Uh…they want me to go to Texas Medical Hospital in Houston for some kind of…procedure. Uh…it’s my ear. They…”
“Why, Blake? What’s wrong with you?” Sherry asked being alarmed. “When do you have to go?”
Blake paused. Sherry could tell that he was troubled. “Uh…like right now. They want me to go immediately. Uh…there is some kind of…obstruction in my canal that…”
Sherry heard a doctor’s voice in the background interrupting Blake, trying to inform him of not giving out the information. “Are you ok?” She asked “Was that a doctor’s voice?”
“Yes, Sherry. Listen. I got to go. Would you please feed Toby for me? They may want me to stay for a few days.”
“Oh my Gosh, Blake. I will go with you, if you want. Let me call…”
“No, Sherry. I will be ok. I promise. Just…take care of Toby for me. Will you? And listen…please do not call my parents. There may be nothing seriously wrong. I don’t want them to worry, ok?”
Sherry paused felling confused. “Ok. Call me just as soon as you get there!”
Blake agreed, an immediately got off the phone, leaving Sherry in a state of confusion.
A small jet was chartered which flew Blake to Houston. Also, Dr. Trent emptied the rest of his schedule for the day and went along with Blake. The two did not speak for the short, twenty minuet flight.
A hospital shuttle was arranged to meet Blake and Dr. Trent at the airport which would transport them over to Texas Medical Center, the largest hospital in the United States. Once at the hospital, they wasted no time by escorting Blake up to the specialist’s office on the third floor of the hospital. It seemed his insurance had already been taken care of before his arrival.
Blake studied the small man as he sat in one of two padded chairs behind the doctor’s desk. Dr. Trent sat at his left. The two visitor chairs sat lower to the ground, giving the illusion of inferiority to the specialist.
Dr. Chadwick Brown, an auditory specialist, was short, mid-forties and had sharp features that seemed enhanced by his bald head. Blake began to think of a troll as the man’s ears seemed out of proportion of his small face. He was no more than five feet four inches tall. However, it was apparent, after listening to the man ramble on about his knowledge, the man’s ego and arrogance made up for his small stature. He must have been teased and bullied for being different in his younger years. For a brief moment, Blake sympathized with him. Blake noticed the man’s two teenaged daughter’s pictures over on the Cherry bookcase behind Dr. Brown’s high back, leather chair. Blake assumed the doctor was divorced as there was no picture of his wife about the room. Blake wasn’t surprised.
Dr. Brown continued his small talk of cutting his golf game short to meet Blake and Dr. Trent at his office.
“Normally, Mr. Edwards, we would get the paperwork filed, get started in the morning; however, due to the importance of this situation, we must proceed immediately,” Dr. Brown said.
Blake nodded his head and could feel Dr. Trent looking at him also.
“The first thing we will need to do is get you started on a series of pre-op tests this afternoon so we can get a feel as to what we are dealing with for the surgery. Later on, we will get you settled in a private room, then will proceed with the surgery first thing in the morning. I will have to admit, those images of the obstruction that Dr. Trent sent me this morning is quite a concern.”
There was a moment of silence as if Dr. Brown was waiting on Blake to react.
“Do…you have any questions, Mr. Edwards?” Dr. Brown asked breaking the silence.
Blake thought for a second but only one thing came to mind. “Uh…can you tell me where the nearest restroom is?”
Dr. Brown cast a look of surprise at Blake’s off-the-wall question. He raised his eyebrows, cocked his bald head as if caught off guard.
“Well…if it is that urgent, Mr. Edwards, you can use mine over there,” Dr. Brown answered as he pointed at the door along the wall next to his giant built-in aquarium that contained exotic, imported, tropical fish.
“Thank you,” Blake answered as he got up out of the chair.
He felt both doctor’s eyes suspiciously watch his every move as he reached the bathroom.
Blake was astounded as he noticed the spotless, expensive décor in Dr. Brown’s personal bathroom. A typical sign of OCD, he thought. No wonder the little troll was divorced. Who could live with such a perfectionist?
After waiting for about twenty seconds, Blake flushed the toilet, and quickly speed dialed Sherry’s number. She answered on the first ring. Blake began to whisper.
“Listen Sherry, I can only talk for just a few seconds. I am here at Texas Medical Center in Houston and they want me to stay here and do the surgery first thing in the morning. I…yeah Sherry I will be ok. Don’t say anything to anyone about this. I don’t think they know I am calling you. I just wanted to let you know. I got to go.”
Blake hurriedly turned of his phone as he turned off the running water on the sink.
Dr. Brown stirred in his leather seat and rubbed his chin as Blake returned to his seat.
“So when do we start?” Blake asked.
Dr. Brown did not answer right away. Instead, he leaned back in his chair and tapped a pin between his teeth, making an annoying chatter sound, as if studying Blake’s demeanor. “Mr. Edwards, I hope you understand the urgency here. To us, it is not that important of where this…object came from, what concerns us the most is the way it…was attached.”
Dr. Brown got up out of his seat and walked around and stood beside his large desk.
Blake could not help but notice his perfectly pressed shirt and slacks. Blake mentally decided that the little troll was just as nerdy as he was, except the guy was a multimillionaire. I should have been a doctor, thought Blake.
“The object seems to have been surgically attached, Mr. Edwards. This sheds a different light on the subject rather than just being an obstruction,” Continued Dr. Brown. “The…object has fused itself within your canal membrane, in close proximity of the eardrum. Removing it would be a very delicate procedure; therefore, we hope to have a game plan after we run a series of tests and scans. That’s about as simple as I can put it, Mr. Edwards.”
“I understand,” Blake said quietly.
Dr. Brown glanced over at Dr. Trent then clapped his hands together. “Ok, I presume we better get started. I will contact housekeeping and make sure your room is ready. There should be a gown and slippers there for you to change into. You will also need to turn your cell phone off and give it to the techs. They will store it with the rest of your personal affects.” Dr. Brown Paused and looked at his Rolex. “We will start in about an hour. We need to be finished by five because I have a VIP function to attend tonight.”
Blake was escorted to the fifth floor, told to change clothes and be prepared to undergo a battery of tests for the rest of the afternoon. Dr. Trent remained behind to presumably have a private discussion with Dr. Brown before being flown back to Dallas.
Blake was cat scanned, given an auditory sound test, blood tests, and about every other kind of test short of a prostate examination.
Blake was lying on his side as Dr. Brown inserted the tiny camera into his right ear canal, displaying the device on his monitoring screen.
“Unbelievable!” Dr. Brown said to his female assistant who was standing on the opposite side of Dr. Brown. “I would love to see the tool that placed this thing in his head. So, you don’t have any recollection of how this object was placed in your ear, huh?” Dr. Brown asked for the third time.
“No Sir,” Blake answered as he lay still on left side.
“Do you have any pain?”
“Is the recorder on?” Dr. Brown asked his assistant.
“Yes.” She answered.
“Good! This will make a great presentation.”
It was after dark and around 9:30 in the evening, when Sherry arrived at Texas Medical Center in Houston. She walked in and immediately went to the information desk.
There was an elderly lady, presumably a volunteer, sitting at the station drinking coffee out of a white, disposable cup.
“Can I help you?” She asked with a smile.
Sherry adjusted her purse strap on her shoulder. “Yes, I am looking for a new patient here by the name of Blake Edwards. He was admitted this afternoon,” Sherry said.
“Alright, just let me check hon,” The woman said as she typed in the last name on her computer.
Sherry watched the woman’s expression change as she mumbled the names.
“I have a Brian Edwards, Alisha Edwards and Peter Edward. I do not see a Blake Edwards. Does he go by another name, dear?”
Sherry became confused. “No, uh…His name is Blake Edwards. He is thirty-one years old and he called me this afternoon from this very hospital and told me he was being admitted. Please, could you look one more time?”
The woman typed in his name again. “I’m sorry, dear, there is no one admitted here by that name. Are you sure it was this hospital? Did you check Houston General?”
“Uh…yes, I am sure it was this hospital. Can’t you people get anything right?” Sherry responded feeling very frustrated.
The woman shook her head. Sherry immediately realized she over reacted.
“I’m sorry. I just drove in all the way from Dallas. He is a dear friend uh…actually he is my boyfriend and he was flown here from Dallas this morning. He is seeing some auditory specialist here, and is to have surgery tomorrow morning. Do you think his name just did not get into the system yet?” Sherry asked in a much calmer voice.
“Well, if he was admitted this afternoon, he would automatically be registered on the patient data base. Do you know the doctor’s name?” The woman asked as her fingers were standing ready on the keys.
“Uh…no, I…he did not tell me his name. Could you like, find out who does that sort of thing here on your computer?” Sherry replied as she leaned over trying to get a peek at the screen. She noticed a couple had walked up behind her, waiting to get their own information.
The elderly woman gave Sherry a look of empathy. “Give me just a moment, dear, and I will see what I can do.”
Sherry waited for nearly thirty seconds as she watched the night shift janitor polish a section of the floor just ahead of her.
“I have two doctors that are auditory specialists. One is Dr. Chadwick Brown, and the other is resident Dr. Theresa Weathers. Their office is up on the third floor. They are gone for the day. I’m sorry.”
Sherry bit her lower lip. “Uh…do you have a number of where they can be reached?”
“I’m sorry. I don’t have access to that information. Is there anything else?”
Sherry thought for a moment. “Yes. Could you tell me if one of those doctors has a surgery scheduled in the morning?”
“I’m sorry, I don’t have access to that either. You will have to go to the hospital personnel department for that information. They are closed this evening but will open up at six in the morning.”
Sherry rubbed her forehead in disappointment. She made a mental decision to wait out the night in the hospital lobby, hoping to try to find out something the first thing in the morning. She knew that Blake’s phone had been turned off and that he was somewhere in the huge hospital. She thought about going from door to door, but that would take an eternity and she would probably draw suspicion from the hospital security.
She kindly thanked the woman and decided to get herself some coffee before making herself comfortable on a lobby chair.
Blake was sitting up in a reclining position on his hospital bed watching some documentary on The History Channel. He felt isolated as he had no room phone and no cell phone. It was apparent, that he was to be in no contact with anyone.
As Blake stared into the TV, he felt like a prisoner once again just as he felt in 2097. He was told not to leave the room and was to have no visitors until further notice. He bet that there was a security guy posted just outside of the door. He wondered if Sherry had made it to the hospital. He only hoped she would walk through the door anytime; however, as the way things were going, he wouldn’t hold his breath.
As Blake stared into the TV, he wished again that he had just kept his mouth shut. It was obvious, that he was now a person of interest to the authorities as the transmitter was made known. He knew he would be required to answer a lot of questions; questions that he had hoped would never be asked. He thought of Sherry and how he would explain everything to her. He wondered if she would still want to be with him as he would never tell her the truth. He began to think of false explanations. He hated lying, but in this case, he had too, or if he told her everything, she would surely leave him. He wouldn’t blame her for leaving anyway. With that thought, he wondered about the future. It would forever be altered. There would be no marriage to Sherry. There would be no Noah Sutton. Maybe it was meant to be this way, he thought. One thing is for certain. The futuristic device that was implanted in his head was discovered. Pictures were taken and when it will be removed, he knew the device will be examined by scientists. More pictures will be taken, notes will be taken, and for all practical purposes, late 21st century technology will be introduced to the present. That alone should alter the future beyond of what he could imagine.
Blake turned his head toward the hospital window that was covered with blinds. He began to cry. Things were only going to get worse, he thought.
Sherry had dozed off after waiting for hours in the main lobby of the sprawling hospital. She opened her eyes and noticed a few doctors and nurses were walking out. She looked at her watch and to her surprise; it was five minuets past six in the morning. In almost a panic, she rushed over to the personnel department, which had just opened. Once there, she asked the receptionist about Dr. Brown’s surgery schedule.
“I’m sorry; Dr. Brown has no surgeries scheduled for today. As a matter of fact, he is scheduled to be off today,” The young receptionist responded.
“That’s impossible! My boyfriend told me yesterday, that he was going to have surgery on his ear this morning!” Sherry replied franticly.
“What’s his name?” The girl asked.
“Blake Edwards,” Sherry responded nearly leaning over her desk.
After a short pause while typing in Blake’s name, the young woman began to shake her head. “There is no one listed by that name. Have you tried Houston General?”
Sherry exhaled in an agitated manner. “I swear to God, that he called me from this hospital yesterday afternoon! I distinctly remember that he told me that he was being admitted and was having surgery the first thing this morning!”
“Hold on, please,” The woman said as she picked up her phone. She then, called Houston General Hospital.
“Yes, this is Heather Shillings from Texas Medical Personnel. I need to find out if you have a Blake Edwards Admitted. He was also to have ear surgery this morning.”
Sherry bit her lip as she waited for nearly a minuet.
“Alright, I see. Thank you,” Heather replied politely, and then hung up the phone. “Well, they have no one listed by that name on their patient registry either.”
“Could you tell me how to get to the auditory department on the third floor?” Sherry asked.
“Sure. Just go out past the lobby to the first set of elevators. Once you get on the third floor, take a right and follow the signs. It’s the second hallway…”
“Thanks!” Sherry replied as she hurried off.
Sherry followed the blue auditory dept. signs after reaching the third floor. She paused as she noticed Dr. Chadwick Brown’s name under the Department’s listing.
She went through the double doors and walked hurriedly down the desolate hallway. She approached Dr. Brown’s office door which was the third one on her left. She jiggled the brass plated door latch. It was no use, as it had an electronic key pad.
She sighed in frustration.
There was a padded decorative bench on the other side of the hallway. She decided to wait. She looked at her watch. It was fourteen past six.
What seemed to be an eternity, she glanced at her watch again and noticed it was only twenty minuets past six. Just then, she heard the double doors open down the hallway.
She noticed a short, balding man walking in her direction with a white doctor’s coat that seemed to be too large for his short legs. He had on a golf shirt with tan slacks and brown leather loafers. He gave her a suspicious look as he approached. Sherry immediately jumped up.
“Are you Dr. Chadwick Brown?” Sherry asked excitedly.
Dr. Brown paused as he looked at Sherry before answering. She could tell he was caught by surprise.
“Yes. May I help you?” He answered keeping the suspicious look on his face, as he approached the door.
Sherry noticed he had removed his key card from his pocket.
“My name is Sherry Duncan I am looking for a patient that you may know. His name is Blake Edwards. He told me yesterday he was being admitted. He also told me he was going to have surgery on his ear this morning.”
Dr. Brown kept a straight face and blinked his eyes rapidly. “I’m sorry…Ms. Duncan, I…I don’t have any patients by that name and…I do not have any surgeries scheduled for today.”
Sherry became confused.
“Look…Doctor; Blake Edwards is…very close to me. He told me that he was at this hospital. Why is he not registered?”
Dr. Brown glanced nervously down at his Rolex watch. “I’m sorry, I wish I could help you, but like I said, I do not have any patients by that name or any surgeries scheduled in the near future. Try Houston General. Now, if you will excuse me, I have some data entries to get caught up on.”
Dr. Brown gave a fake smile and turned away to unlock his door.
Sherry grabbed his right forearm firmly.
“Please! I don’t know why you all are being so secretive. I just want to talk to him, or just tell me he will be ok!”
Dr. Brown looked down at Sherry’s arm gripping his forearm.
“Ms. Duncan, I respectfully request you to remove your arm. I will tell you one last time. I do not have a Blake Edwards as a patient.”
Sherry continued to hold Dr. Brown’s arm.
“I don’t believe you. Please, just tell me the truth! Just tell me he is ok!”
“Remove your hand from me, or I will call security!”
Sherry removed her hand. She backed away a few steps. “Alright, if you do not have any surgeries this morning, then why are you here? I checked with personnel this morning and you were scheduled to be off!”
Dr. Brown seemed highly agitated as his small, round faced reddened. “Like I told you, I have some work to catch up on. In any event, it is none of you concern…Miss!” Dr. Brown replied as he turned to unlock the door.
“I will just wait here in the hall, then,” Sherry replied as she crossed her arms.
“I must warn you; this hospital does not tolerate any type of harassment. I promise you if you continue this behavior, I will have you escorted off of the premises.”
Dr. Brown opened his door and quickly entered. Sherry noticed that it locked as it closed.
Sherry paced the floor in front of Dr. Brown’s office for a few moments. The uncertainty was tearing away at her sanity as she reached in her purse and removed her razor phone. She speed dialed Blake’s number, and once again, his phone was cut off as it went straight to voice mail.
“Blake, it’s me again. I don’t know what is going on, but I am worried. I am here in front of Dr. Brown’s office on the third floor, D-wing of Texas Medical Center. It’s…about six-twenty and I confronted Dr. Brown a moment ago. He told me he does not have a patient by your name and that he does not have a surgery scheduled today. I know he is lying, Blake. He’s also an idiot, if you ask me. Anyway, he threatened to have me removed from this hospital and was acting real weird. If you get this message anytime soon, I need you to call me and let me know what is going on with you…ok? I need you to help me out here, Blake.”
Sherry returned her phone to her purse and sat back down on the padded bench.
After sitting for nearly five minutes, Sherry noticed that two security guards and a man in a dark suit came through the double doors and were walking swiftly toward her. One of the security guards was an oversized black man who looked like a lineman for the Dallas Cowboys, she thought.
“That little weasel!” She murmured to herself, referring to Dr. Brown.
The other security guard looked to be a middle-aged man of Hispanic decent and was nowhere near the size of his friend. The other man was Caucasian, around forty and was well manicured with a stoic expression. They all three hardly removed their eyes from her as they approached. They were on a mission and she was the target.
“Miss Duncan’, you need to come with us,” The big black man said with a deep voice, as they stood in front of Sherry.
Sherry remained seated.
“There has been a complaint about you harassing Dr. Chadwick Brown,” He said.
Sherry stood to her feet. The first thing she noticed was that the man must have been at least six foot-eight.
“Listen…officer. My boyfriend is here in this hospital but for some reason, he was not officially admitted. He is supposed to have ear surgery this morning and…that doctor in there denies that he even knows what is going on!”
“What is your boyfriend’s name, Miss Duncan?” Ask the man in the dark suite, with piercing green eyes.
“Blake Edwards…uh, anyway, for some reason, nobody wants to tell me what the heck is going on!
The big security man glanced over briefly at the man in the suite. The man responded with a quick nod.
“It’s time to go, Mss Duncan,” He said as he pointed his large finger toward the double doors.
“No! I want some answers first! Just tell me where is Blake Edwards?! He called me from this hospital, yesterday!”
“Miss Duncan, if you do not proceed out those doors, we will have to forcibly remove you. Let’s go, please,” The black man replied
“Did you not hear what I said?” Sherry replied.
“I need you to turn around, please,” The large man ordered.
“Why, are you going to arrest me, or something?” Sherry asked as she noticed the man reaching for his cuffs.
The man grabbed Sherry by the elbow, and turned her around. The Hispanic man silently grabbed her other arm and held it to be cuffed.
“I don’t believe this! Why am I being arrested?! All I wanted was for someone to tell me where my boyfriend is!”
The man in the suit stepped over and stood directly in front of Sherry while the two security guards secured her arms behind her back.
“Miss. Duncan, It would be in your best interest to cooperate with us. You are lucky Dr. Brown did not press assault charges against you. That would be a felony,” The suited man said.
“What Assault? You got to be kidding me!” Sherry replied
“We have it on film, Miss. Duncan. Now, what will it be?”
“All I did was…placing my hand on his arm! Oh my God, this is crazy!” replied Sherry as she looked up for a camera.
“That constitutes, assault, Miss Duncan,” Replied the black man’s voice from behind her.
“Let’s go Miss. Duncan,” The man in the suite replied.
“I got your purse,” Said the Hispanic guard.
“Ok! Please, you don’t have to cuff me! I will go on my own!” Sherry said pleading, as they approached the double doors.
The two security guards glanced over at the man in the suit who by now, Sherry assumed was in a position of authority. The man nodded his head. Sherry felt the strong hands of the black man grab hold hers as he unlocked the cuffs.
“Now, may I have my purse, please?” Sherry asked as she rubbed her sore wrists.
“We will give it to you once you are outside of the hospital. Keep walking Miss Duncan,” The suited man said, gesturing toward the double doors to the main hallway.
Sherry was escorted to the elevator and all the way out through the main entrance of the hospital. Once outside, she noticed that the Hispanic man handed her purse to the man with the suit. The man turned around and briefly thanked the two guards. The two guards turned and went back inside of the main doors. Just as Sherry was about to ask the man for her purse, she heard a car move suddenly up to where she was standing. Another man in a suit and sunglasses got out of the passenger’s side and reached inside of his sport coat. He drew out an identification badge which read, FBI.
“Miss Sherry Duncan, FBI. You need to come with us.”
While Sherry remained dumbfounded, both agents grabbed her by the arm and whisked her in the back seat. Both agents sat on each side of her as the car hurriedly sped away to the main street.
Blake was prepped, and wheeled down to a third floor operating room of the auditory department. Once inside of the OR, he noticed that there were two nurses and another male doctor standing back from the table as they all had their surgical masks and goggles on.
Two more men entered with surgical outfits as well. Blake knew one was Dr. Brown as he only came to the shoulders of the other man. Dr. Brown had on a funky, decorative, head cover with Sponge Bob cartoon pictures all over it. Blake, as he was lying flat on his back, noticed that another man was standing back near the corner of the operating room as if observing. He was in surgical gear as well.
Wasting no time, Dr. Brown spoke a few words of a meaningless conversation to Blake before he ordered him to turn on his side. Once Blake was on his side, the anesthesiologist placed the breathing cup on Blake’s nose and mouth. Just before Blake succumbed to the drug; he heard Dr. Brown’s mousey voice.
“Ok, let’s see what this thing is all about, people! This should be a real…”
Blake faded into a deep sleep.
The surgical team watched the screen in amazement as Dr. Brown probed at the tiny transmitter near Blake’s inner ear. The titanium tool lifted the transmitter enough to expose what appeared to be some kind of fiber fused into Blake’s canal.
“My God, what have we here?” Dr. Brown said to himself, knowing that his other assistants had never seen anything like it as well.
“Sir, are you watching this?” Dr. Brown asked the man who was standing back from the surgical team.
The mysterious, older man, who was a government agent, watched in awe, as he studied the ‘Motorola’ logo across the top of the tiny device.
“Well, there goes the little green men abduction theory…unless they carry the Motorola brand, ” Dr. Brown replied sarcastically.
The others laughed, but the government man was not amused.
“We are ready to proceed with extraction,” Dr. Brown said, as he looked into the magnifying scope.
“Go ahead,” The man replied softly.
Dr. Brown used the specialized surgical instrument with precision. He struggled to put the tool in place as not to damage Blake’s ear drum and canal membrane.
‘Towel!” Dr. Brown ordered the nurse, who was standing to his right.
“Hurry up!” He said, clearly venting his frustration with the difficult procedure.
The Nurse lightly padded Dr. Brown’s forehead blotting up the nervous sweat.
“That’s enough!” He said, as the nurse removed the towel, hurriedly.
“I am beginning the extracting phase,” Dr. Brown said as he knew he was being recorded.
Dr. Brown gently pulled the tiny devise and discovered more nerve fibers attached.
He then inserted a small laser, and began to burn the tissue that was fused to the devise.
“Good God, people. Whoever put this thing in…oh…I got some bleeding here! Give me the micro suction, hurry!”
Dr. Brown removed the tiny extractor tool and inserted a long thin suction tube and began to suction the blood that was pooling around Blake’s eardrum.
“Ok, I’m going…in again,” Dr. Brown said as he nervously reinserted the extractor.
He gently pulled the devise away from Blake’s damaged ear drum and tissue.
Dr. Brown swore loudly as he noticed more blood issuing around behind Blake’s ear drum. The man who was observing stepped up closer to the viewing screen.
“What’s going on Doctor?” He asked, with concern.
Dr. Brown remained silent as he struggled to save Blake’s badly, damaged ear drum.
“Doctor, I asked you a question. What is going on with the extraction?”
“Just…just some small bleeding from…around the Tympanic membrane. It can be controlled,” Dr. Brown answered nervously, knowing that Blake would be forever deaf in his right ear.
“See that you do, Doctor. I would hate for anything to…happen to this patient under…your knife,” The man said softly with intimidation.
Dr. Brown swore loudly as part of Blake’s eardrum tore away with the object.
“I need to get the Malleus realigned in proximity with the…Incus,” Dr. Brown replied to his associates.
Two of Dr. Brown’s associates glanced up at Dr. Brown, knowing that Blake’s hearing in his right ear would forever be gone.
Once the bleeding was controlled, Dr. Brown clipped the last nerve fiber and slowly removed the tiny object from the ear canal.
“Have you got the patient’s serum ready?” Dr. Brown asked.
“Yes, Doctor,” The nurse answered.
Dr. Brown slowly inserted the device inside of the small tube that contained a sample of Blake’s blood serum so as the object would not be contaminated.
“Get that to the lab as soon as possible,” Dr. Brown replied as he laid his extractor down.
The government agent followed the nurse to the lab with the tiny transmitter floating around inside of Blake’s serum.
The lab supervisor removed the device from the small container and placed it on the electron microscope. He studied the futuristic technology as he probed at its outer shell.
“What the…” the scientist reacted as he noticed the object was starting to bubble.
“What is it?” The government man asked.
“I don’t know. I never have seen anything like it. It’s like…starting to gel!” He said as he turned to face the man.
The man pushed the scientist out of the way as he looked for himself.
The man noticed what seemed to be a type of circuitry inside of the devise but was now becoming harder to see as the outer edges were beginning to liquefy.
“Get a picture! Hurry!” he said to the scientist.
The scientist aligned the electron camera on the dissolving image of the device and hurriedly snapped a few shots.
After a few seconds, the scientist looked back at the government man. “It’s…gone sir.”
“What do you mean…it’s gone?!” The man replied.
“The…object has dissolved into a liquid. I will run it for analysis at once.”
“Hurry, please! We have to know what we are dealing with here!” The man replied franticly.
The scientist recovered a tiny sample that was quickly evaporating and placed it inside of the spectrometer for analysis.
“Are you recording this?” the man asked.
“Yes. I should have the analysis in a second.”
The results were transferred to a near-by computer. They were quickly printed out as the two men studied the screen.
“Whoa!” The scientist replied as he looked at the results.
“So, what have you got?” The man asked.
“I have never…seen anything like this, sir. I mean, what kind of technology can produce this?”
“So, what am I looking at?” The government man asked.
“Uh…apparently, it is pure organic in nature. Somehow, this…object…or whatever it is was manufactured using organic compounds with…amino acids.”
Dr. Brown and his assistant had just walked into the lab. The government man was so in awe, that he did not noticed when Dr. Brown walked up beside him.
“So, have we got a fix on this thing?” Dr. Brown asked. “Oh my God! Are you serious?” Dr. Brown replied as he noticed the computer results. “So, where is the object?”
“It dissolved, Doctor. It simply…just turned to a liquid,” The government man replied.
“Hmm, I see. Apparently, once the object was removed from the tissue, it started…decomposing rapidly,” The scientist replied as he continued to study the screen.
“In other words, it sounds like the object was somewhat viable, relying on a host to function,” Dr. Brown interjected. “Once I removed the object from its…viable source, it became inactive and therefore, dissolved quickly. Remarkable! This one will be for the books for sure.”
The three men were silent for a few moments as each studied the screen.
“What about the picture?” The government man asked.
“I did the best I could, sir. There is not much to see, but just a bubbling blob of material,” The scientist replied.
“I want it and I want a copy of the analysis,” The government man ordered. “Where is the patient?”
“He is in recovery, sir.” Dr. Brown answered.
“Good, don’t let him out of your site.”
Sherry Duncan was escorted into the Houston Police Station by the two FBI agents to a private interrogation room. Sherry assumed that the officers had already been cleared in advance as no police officer questioned them as they entered. Both FBI agents made sure that no one was in close proximity of the room, before they began their questioning.
Sherry was seated behind a small table as one agent stood by the door, and the other one, who was with her at the hospital, began to interrogate her.
As they were just a few seconds into the interrogation, her cell began to ring inside of her purse where the agent sat it down, just out of her reach. He noticed Sherry looking at the purse.
“I’m sorry, Miss Duncan, I can’t let you get that,” He said with half a smile.
“Why? It might be Blake.”
“I assure you, it is not Blake,” The man said as the phone continued to ring.
“Why do you say that?” She asked as she eyed her purse.
“If it is important, they will leave a message. Do you have voice mail?”
Sherry sighed in frustration as the phone became silent. “Yes.”
There was a beep from the phone which meant a message was left.
“See there? Now, when we are done here, you can call them back, ok?”
Sherry remained silent as she seethed at the FBI agent. She noticed that he was very muscular and purposely used his physic to intimidate. She guessed he was in his early forties by the speck of salt and pepper around his temples on his neatly trimmed hair.
“That reminds me.” Said the man as he lifted her purse and spilled the contents out on the table. Some lose change bounced off and rolled around on the floor. Her pink razor phone nearly bounced off the edge.
Sherry was dumbfounded and speechless. The two agents each noticed her reaction. The one who was standing over by the door, who was much younger, smiled.
“Excuse me…why did you do that? Am I being arrested or something?” Sherry asked.
The man lifted her cell phone up, and began to push various buttons, ignoring her question. He raised it to his ear and listened to the message that was just left. Sherry was appalled at the manner of the two agents by their invasion of her privacy. She wondered how they knew her password.
The agent chuckled at the message. Sherry felt emotionally violated by their treatment.
The agent closed the phone and laid it down on the table.
“Uh…can you at least tell me what the message was?” Sherry asked.
“Oh, it was…a girl by the name of Amanda. She said something about Blake’s apartment being ransacked when she came over to feed his cat. That’s all,” Said the agent while he glanced over at his partner and gave a sarcastic grin. “Anyway, let’s get on with this, Miss Duncan,” He said as he turned a serious face toward her. “How long have you known, Blake Edwards?”
“Is Blake in some kind of trouble?” Sherry asked.
“Miss Duncan, we will ask the questions for now. Just cooperate with us by answering the questions truthfully and then you can go home, alright?”
Sherry remained silent.
“So, how long have you know him?” he asked, as he gave her an intimidating stare.
“Uh…you mean…like…personal or…”
“How long have you known Blake Edwards?” The agent asked again
“I had seen him around at work for about six months. That’s how long I have been in state government. Uh…I have only known him personally for about four months.”
“What do you mean by personally?” The agent asked.
“We are dating.”
“So, he is your boyfriend?”
“Yes, I suppose so.”
“Are you guys, serious?”
“Not really. Uh…I mean we care a lot about each other. We…”
“Are you in an intimate relationship with Blake?”
Sherry became more uncomfortable by the moment. She paused wondering how to answer such a personal question.
“We…do not see other people…I mean…we are exclusive.”
“That is not what I asked, Miss Duncan,” The agent replied as he sighed.
“Then…what do you mean?” She asked timidly, dreading the answer.
The agent glanced briefly over at his partner. “Are you and Blake Edwards…sleeping together?”
Sherry slightly reddened. “No. Anyway, what…what does that have to do with anything?”
The agent sighed again as acting disappointed by the answer. He continued his train of thought disregarding Sherry’s question. “Have you ever noticed Blake going on any trips or vacations, since you have known him?”
Sherry paused, still somewhat shocked at the personal questions. “No. He has never indicated to me about going anywhere. Please, tell me what this is about…sir.”
“Has Blake ever talked about other governments or expressed a desire to visit another country?”
Sherry became more confused as well as feeling creepy. “No.”
“Do you know if he has had any visitors from overseas or anyone since you have known him?”
“No. He…is not real outgoing, ok? I don’t think Blake has any friends except his co-workers. I mean, don’t get me wrong. He is well liked; it is just…”
“Have you ever heard him express anger or dissatisfaction with this country?”
Sherry stiffened in her seat.
“No. Blake is very patriotic. He loves his country. What…why are you asking me all of this?” Sherry replied.
“Have you heard him express dissatisfaction with the US involvement in Iraq or Afghanistan?”
“No. I…never heard him mention anything like that. We never talk about the war, terrorist attacks, or any of that stuff.”
“Has he indicated to you what political orientation he is?”
Sherry sighed and crossed her arms, clearly becoming agitated. “I don’t know…sir. Come to think of it, I don’t even know if he is a democrat or republican, nor do I care. That sort of thing has never come up in our conversations.”
The agent paused and interlocked his fingers. He began to pace the room slightly.
“Let’s talk about Blake’s family, shall we?” he began. “How well do you know his family?”
“Uh…I have never met them yet. He just told me about them. I know they live in Tyler. His father is a teacher and his mother is a nurse…oh, he did tell me that he has a younger sister who is…I think living in Oklahoma City, married to a doctor…I believe.”
“Has he indicated to you about his family’s background?”
“No. I just know he wants me to meet them. Oh yeah, he did say they were Methodist. That’s all I know, ok?”
There was a slight pause as the agent contemplated his next question. Sherry remained silent watching every move the agent was making. He reached inside of his pocket and removed a small notepad. He began to jot down something. She hoped the stupid questions were coming to an end.
“Miss Duncan, you were seen going into the apartment complex of were Blake lives this past Sunday morning. Could you please elaborate on that?”
“I called Blake that morning and he said he was not feeling well. He complained of a headache and took a nap after I arrived around eleven A.M.”
“Were the both of you together, the night before?”
“Yes. We went to a play, and then stopped by Brook’s Café for some desert and coffee.”
“What happened after that?”
“He took me home to my apartment. We said good night and then he left.”
“Was that the last time you spoke with Blake that evening?”
“No. He called me later on to just say goodnight…I assume, but then, we got cut off. I tried calling him back, but his phone went straight to voice mail. His home phone was dead for some reason. I did not talk to him again until around ten thirty the next morning. He told me he had a bad dream and slept till ten thirty. Please…tell me, is Blake in trouble…or is there something about him I should know?”
“Well, we are hoping you can tell us, Mss Duncan.”
“Look, Blake is a very real person. That is what I like about him. He doesn’t like to impress and is kind to others. Basically, if most men were like him…I guess…you guys, or should I say men in general, wouldn’t have a bad name. I have never had any reason to suspect Blake was involved in anything.”
The agent chuckled lightly. “So, he is the model boyfriend, huh?”
“I…guess, yes he is.”
The agent looked over at his partner who sniggered lightly also. “Well, those are the ones that surprise you, Miss Duncan. They blend in with everyone else and in most of our criminal cases we investigate, they seem like model citizens, you know the ones you want to take home to momma.”
The other agent who was by the door laughed.
Sherry stiffened again. “What do you mean…criminal?” She asked
“Well, that is what we are hoping you will tell us,” The agent said with a fake smile.
Sherry began to shake her head as she became dumbfounded. “Look, I…I don’t have any idea what…you guys are talking about. Like I said, Blake gave me no reason to believe he was involved in any criminal activity. You have to believe me. Please, tell me what is going on that makes you suspect Blake’s involvement?” Sherry asked as she looked at each agent.
The two agents glanced at each other as if they were finally seeing her point of view.
“We have a proposition for you, Miss Duncan,” The man said.
Sherry remained silent.
“If you have no involvement in any of your boyfriend’s affairs, then maybe you can do something for us to help yourself.”
“Sherry became confused again. “What do you mean? I haven’t done anything! Am I being arrested?”
The agent lifted his hands as if to calm Sherry down. “Just a minuet, Miss Duncan; No, you are not under arrest. Let’s just say…that you are a person of interest. Here’s what we want you to do for us. When we take you back to your car at the hospital, you are to drive straight back to Dallas. Do not go back in to that hospital, do you understand?”
Sherry immediately envisioned the FBI sending one of their agents to follow her back to Dallas. She also knew that Blake was at the hospital and admitted secretly. Dr. Brown must have been instructed to lie about the surgery. She thought. It was almost too much for her to fathom. Blake Edwards, whom she thought would finally be Mr. Right, was possibly involved in some despicable crime. For a moment, thoughts of various heinous crimes came to her mind such as: serial killer, rapist, child molester and others. She tried to shake the thoughts. Not Blake! It has to be some kind of mistaken identity, she surmised. But then, she remembered the strange burn marks in Blake’s apartment, which he seemingly couldn’t explain…or wouldn’t. She began to feel light headed and nauseated. She wanted to cry as she labored to hold back the tears. She wondered if her apartment was ransacked and bugged. Most likely, she thought.
“God…Blake!” She said to herself as a tear rolled down her check.
“Miss Duncan, do you understand?” he asked, waiting for an answer.
“Good. Also, we need you to do one more thing for us.”
Sherry continued to silently sob, wiping another tear away.
“We want you to keep your eyes and ears open for anything unusual going on around Blake’s apartment. We want you to contact us if you see anyone coming around that you do not know, or approaching you asking for his whereabouts, alright?” The agent said, as he reached inside of his sport jacket pocket and drew out his personal card.
She briefly studied the FBI logo with the words: “Special Agent Timothy Wilson, Federal Crimes Investigation Division.
“Are you going to be ok, Miss Duncan?”
“So, now you want me to be an informant and spy?” Sherry asked, in an almost choked voice.
“Just don’t leave Dallas, for now, Miss Duncan,” He replied.
“I mean…just tell me what is going on! Why?! Sherry asked, desperately
“It’s a matter of national security,” Agent Wilson replied
Blake remained in a hospital recovery room until just after noon. He was given a light meal, which he did not eat. After being discreetly removed from the hospital, Blake was taken by a government car with three men to a near-by hotel. One of the gentlemen who sat next to Blake was the older man of around sixty that observed during Blake’s surgery. He was silent as no one else spoke a word while the car weaved in and out of traffic through the Houston streets.
Blake still was somewhat groggy from being put under, as he did not want to speak anyway. He felt the numbness and wondered if the hearing would ever return to his deaf right ear. He was not told by Dr. Brown of the permanent deafness from his destroyed membrane and nerve fibers. He was briefly checked over, given an antibiotic and was told to quietly go with “these men.” He remembered being wheeled out of the back service entrance of the hospital, similar to the one that he and Dr. Trent entered the day before.
The car pulled up to a modest hotel, and he was ordered to quietly exit the car.
Apparently, the men had already rented the room as one, who was the driver, walked ahead and unlocked the room on the second floor. All three men were in well pressed suits. Besides the older gentleman, the other two were both in their thirties and quite distinguished looking.
Blake entered the hotel room and was told to sit at the table, by the sliding glass door which led out to the deck, overlooking the pool. One of the men wasted no time, as he quickly pulled the curtain, and turned on the lamp.
“Mr. Edwards, I assume you know why you are here?” The older man said, calmly as he approached the table.
The man reached inside of his white button down shirt. Blake assumed it was some kind of ID. Instead, he pulled out a pack of gum and put one of the sticks into his mouth.
“Would you like a piece of gum, Blake?” he asked calmly, holding out the pack of gum in his direction.
Blake remained silent and shook his head lightly.
Blake noticed the other two men mingle about the room then one of the men picked up the desk phone and called the front desk.
“Who are you?” Blake asked in a weak voice.
The older man smiled while he chewed the gum and reached inside of his jacket. He pulled out a black wallet and opened it up.
“We are from the Office of Homeland Security. These two gentlemen are agents Todd McCray and Steven Compton.”
Blake wondered why the older gentleman did not introduce himself. Instead, he quickly returned the ID badge to his jacket.
“Am I in trouble, or something?” Blake asked
The man smiled lightly. “I hope not Blake. You are a nice guy; a model citizen, heck, you don’t even have a parking violation to your name. That’s what I can’t figure out about you, Blake. That’s why we need your help in shedding some light on this situation.”
“I…don’t understand. What situation?” Blake asked, knowing about the Pandora’s Box he opened.
The man smiled again. “Alright, I will get to the point, Blake. Where did you get the electronic device that was implanted inside of your head?”
Blake momentarily paused, thinking about the repercussions of his decision to have proof that the futuristic transmitter was there. He wondered if he was reshaping the future by every moment. “I…don’t know. I just…had a headache and went to the ear clinic. I though I had some kind of bad infection. The next thing I know, I have some kind of tumor or something in my ear.”
The man chuckled. “That would make a good argument, except for one thing, Blake. Tumors do not have the word, Motorola stenciled on them.”
The agent who was sitting on the edge of the bed chuckled also. The other agent was busy requesting coffee to be brought up as he just hung the phone up.
“Coffee’s on its way, boss,” The man said who had just got off of the phone.
“They removed it, right?” Blake asked.
“Yes, it is removed. However, I regret to inform you that…you will never hear again out of your right ear.”
Blake felt nauseated. “What? You mean…I am deaf in this ear…for good?”
“Yes. I would say that is…a small price to pay for…espionage. Wouldn’t you agree…Blake?”
“Uh…You are badly mistaken…sir. I am in no way a spy! You got to believe me!” Blake replied, nearly pleading.
“I want to believe you, Blake. Like I said, you are a nice guy with absolutely no record. You come from a nice family and you have no enemies. So, help us out will you? But, more importantly, you need to help yourself. Just come clean, and tell us who you work for. Right now, you are looking at life in federal prison. Cooperate, and maybe, we can work something out for you.”
Blake was dumbfounded. Who in their right mind would believe him anyway? He thought.
How are you going to get out of this one, Blake? He mentally asked himself.
“I…I don’t know what you want me to say. I mean are you trying to get a confession on something that I have no part of?” Blake asked.
“He’s hiding something, boss,” The man seated on the bed responded.
Blake looked over at the other agent who was returning his suspicious stare.
The older man lifted his hand as a gesture, quieting the other agent. “You want some coffee, Blake? Anytime, room service will be knocking at this door with a fresh pot of coffee. Just relax, have some coffee with us. We will take just as long as you want to iron this thing out. It’s up to you, ok?”
Blake did not respond. In less than thirty seconds, a knock was heard. Just as the head agent had said, one of the agents retrieved the pot at the door, gave the hand, which was all Blake could see coming through the crack of the door, a twenty dollar bill.
The older agent poured each person a cup of coffee including Blake which he poured first. Blake was offered cream and sugar, but refused as he liked his coffee black.
After a brief pause while each sampled their own cup of coffee, the older agent began to speak once again. He started commenting on the quality of the coffee at various hotels he had visited around the world, especially the exotic coffee beans in Columbia on some clandestine government assignment. As his rambling continued, he began to compare the coffee with two of his ex-wives which Blake didn’t get. Obviously, the two other agents had heard their boss’s jokes before as they both chuckled. Blake wondered what baring the meaningless conversation had as his comments did not seem to be directed to any particular one in the room. Blake assumed it was just some mind tactic to “soften him up” for more interrogation to follow.
The interrogation did continue. Blake refused to tell them what he had experienced, knowing it would be no use.
After about two hours, the older agent took a bathroom break and let the other two agents have their turn. To no avail, Blake did not tell them what they wanted to hear.
Once again, after about another hour, their patience was running out. They no longer displayed their easy going manner as the younger agents voice grew rough in tone.
“Blake we have been here nearly four hours now. I think it is time for you to stop going around in circles and tell us what you know and who you work for!” The younger agent said. Blake noticed the older agent began to pace the room, occasionally looking out at the pool, as he pulled the curtain gently away. He watched the older man as the man popped another stick of gum in his mouth.
“I told you. I work for the State of Texas in the Department of Finance, with the Accounting Division. I swear to you, it is the only work that I do. I am not involved in any outside organization such as spying on the government!” Blake said as he rubbed is head in an exhausted manner.
“Do you realize what kind of trouble you are in, Blake?” The agent said.
Blake became peeved. “What do I have to do? What do you want me to say?”
The agent sighed and leaned down on the small table, looking at Blake with intense eyes.
“Tell the truth! Who are you working with and who put that device in your head?!”
Blake put his head in his hands. He became startled when the man pounded his fist.
“Answer the question!”
“I don’t know who put that thing in my ear, ok? I am not working for anyone other than the State of Texas. I swear to God! Give me a lie detector test and I will prove it!” Blake answered.
The agent leaned back up to a standing position. He silently stared at Blake for a few seconds. He gave a frustrating sigh and looked over at his boss.
“I got it,” The older man said as he approached the small table. The other agent backed away respectfully to give his boss room. The older man leaned down on the table and got very close to Blake’s face. Blake could smell the spearmint coming from the man’s breath.
“Have you ever heard of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, Blake?” he asked in a softer tone.
Blake knew what he was talking about. Now they were trying to intimidate him with fear of torture.
“Yes, why are you asking me that?”
“Do you really know what went on there, when the detainees refused to cooperate?”
Blake wanted to believe he was bluffing. He decided to go along.
“When it comes to national security, there are no interrogation guidelines. When our country is at war, and when we perceive a threat to our sovereignty, we will take any action on obtaining intelligence to prevent an attack on our innocent civilians. The people that you see on the news who are caught giving other countries secrets and vital information are not brought through the common system of codes of Justus. They are processed as if they were an enemy captured during wartime. Federal prison is not a place you want to end up, Blake; nor, would your girlfriend…Sherry Duncan.”
Blake could not believe it. Now, they were using Sherry for leverage. He had to know more.
“What…what do you mean?”
The older man straightened up. “Sherry Duncan came to the hospital last night to see you.”
“Where is she now?” Blake asked hurriedly.
The man looked down at his watch. “She should be home in Dallas by now. She was instructed to go home, by the FBI this morning, after they questioned her.”
“Why?! Why is she being questioned?” Blake asked as he shuffled in his seat.
The man knew he had struck a chord by mentioning Sherry.
“Let’s just say that she is a person of…great interest.”
“She had nothing to do with…” Blake stopped in mid sentence, realizing he made a major blunder. “She has no idea about what was put in my ear.”
“Oh, so…there is something going on, huh?” The man asked as he raised a bushy eyebrow.
“Please, leave her out of this. I swear to you, she knows nothing…she knows nothing about the device!”
The man smiled slightly. “Now we are getting somewhere, Blake. Tell me what you know about the device and we will see about not including your girlfriend in on this. Right now, she could be charged with the same thing you are.”
“What?! You can’t do that! She has no idea what has happened to me, ok?!”
The man glanced over at one of the other agents and nodded his head. The agent, who was sipping a coke by the door, took out a small recording device from inside of his suit jacket and placed it on the table in front of Blake. Blake stared down at the small recorder, knowing that whatever he said would be used. He immediately thought about his rights as a citizen. However, at this point he wondered just how bad things would become for him if he hid the truth. He was tired, hungry and the pain in his ear from the surgery was hurting more by the moment as the medication was wearing off.
The older agent noticed his apprehension. “Just start from the beginning, Mr. Edwards and tell everything you know about the origin of the device that was implanted inside of your ear. Please speak in a normal tone of voice and clearly.”
Blake looked around the room. He wondered how much of the future would be altered by sharing his experience. He knew they would not believe it. No one would believe such a story. Blake starting doubting again and even wondered again if it was an experiment and if the men in the room were in on the gag as well. Nothing made sense anymore.
“Mr. Edwards, you can begin anytime,” The man said.
“You…won’t believe me,” Blake muttered softly.
“Try me. Just tell us what you know.” He replied formally. “Please speak up.”
“First, I got to tell you that, I swear…I am not a spy and I had nothing to do with that thing in my ear.”
The agent nodded his head. “Just tell us what happened.”
“Uh…it happened to me…last Saturday night…uh, actually around eleven thirty,” Blake began.
“I’m listening, go on,” The man said.
“I…had some kind of experience. I find it hard to believe myself, but I…was taken to…another…place and time.”
The man cocked his head as if surprised. Blake looked around and noticed the two younger agents looking at each other.
The older agent scratched his head. “Go on, continue please.”
“Somehow, I was…taken from my apartment that night by…some kind of…transporter that sent me into the future to the year…twenty ninety-seven. I was…”
“Is this another one of those alien abduction stories?” One of the younger agents replied.
The older agent held up his hand as if to quite the man. “Just let him speak, ok?”
The younger agent sighed as he shook his head.
“Ok, so, a time machine was constructed and sent from twenty ninety-seven. You were then…transported back to twenty ninety-seven. So…what happened next?” The man asked.
Blake continued, reluctantly. “Basically, I was transported to that year so…I could see what become of the world…due to my…invention of the…time transporter, as they called it.”
The man nodded his head. “Ok, then what?”
“I swear to you, I thought it was all some elaborate psychological experiment on random individuals. I didn’t believe it myself until…until…”
“Until, what Mr. Edwards?”
Blake felt another panic attack coming on. He tried to remain focused. “Could…could I have some water?” Blake asked as his breathing rate and pulse increased. He felt his hands shake slightly.
The man motioned for one of the other agents to pour Blake another glass of ice water from the picture that was sitting on the chest. Blake drank the water as if he were extremely thirsty. He closed his eyes and took some deep breaths.
“I can’t believe we are listening to this crap, boss,” The youngest agent said.
Without acknowledging the comment, the older agent kept his eyes on Blake. “You were saying you did not believe it yourself until…what, Mr. Edwards? Please continue.”
Blake took another deep breath before continuing. “…Until they showed me…the proof. I saw it for myself.”
“Who’s they, and what did you see?”
“The scientists or the ones who conducted the time transporter project, they showed me the world. I saw what was left of the world outside of the dome.”
The agent scratched his head again. Blake could tell he was confused at his rambling.
“Wait a minuet, Mr. Edwards. I thought you said you invented the time machine.”
Blake knew he was sounding like a man gone mad.
“I did. Supposedly, I constructed the machine sometime before the year twenty thirty-one. That was when the…nuclear exchange happened and all was destroyed…well, nearly all.”
“So, there was a nuclear war?”
“Yes, apparently…apparently it was over acquisition of the…machine. I was told that the…Russians stole the technology from us somehow, and to prevent them from altering history, we launched a preemptive…nuclear strike on their country after we failed to retrieve it in diplomatic ways. The transporter technology was destroyed…as I was told. It had never been tested up until then.”
The older agent rubbed his forehead and eyes for a moment, trying to keep a straight face.
“So, how did…you get transported through time, if the time machine was destroyed?”
“My wife, daughter and I survived as well as others who were in a bunker. Supposedly, I had a son that was…killed.”
“How tragic,” The agent sitting on the bed said in a mocked sad voice.
Blake paused, after the comment from the younger agent.
“Go on,” Ordered the older agent.
“I began to assemble another device, under the supervision of the government, to go back and prevent the nuclear war from ever happening. There were some problems constructing the second prototype due to limited recourses I presume, from the war. I continued through a number of years, with the help of my…grandson. I was told that…eventually, I…died in twenty eighty-three. My…grandson, whose name was Noah Sutton, continued my work and supposedly perfected it sometime in the early twenty nineties, so…in August, twenty ninety-seven, the machine was sent back to this time. I was…retrieved and arrived in St. Louis, twenty ninety-seven. I…lived there until late October, twenty ninety-seven. After I was shown proof, and was led to believe that I could never return, I…was taken back to their laboratory and sent back to this present time to…correct my mistakes…on ever doing research on such a device. That’s basically…it.”
The agent took a deep breath and walked over at the window. He looked out of the window at some kids playing in the swimming pool. He popped another piece of gum in his mouth. He turned and slowly walked back to stand in front of Blake. Blake noticed one of the other agents was grinning while the other one was seething.
“That is…a remarkable story…Mr. Edwards. However, there is one thing that is missing.”
Blake stared down at the table, knowing that he had made a complete fool of himself.
The man leaned down and looked up at Blake to force eye contact. Blake slowly lifted his head.
“You still didn’t tell us about how you got the device in your head.”
Blake took another deep breath. “They put it there right after I arrived. I was given some kind of an injection that rendered me unconscious. I didn’t know about it until…I heard the voice…in my head.”
“Boss, this guy is a lunatic!” One of the agents replied.
The man held his hand up again. “You heard a voice? What did the voice say, Mr. Edwards?” The older agent asked.
“Look, I know this all sounds so…ridiculous to you. It would to me too, ok? I am telling you the truth about my experience,” Blake interjected.
“Please continue, Mr. Edwards. What did the voice say?”
“It was…a man’s voice. It was…Noah Sutton’s, my…grandson. It was coming from the receiver that was…implanted sometime while I was unconscious. They could also hear me speak. Apparently, all of the citizens in that city had those things implanted for communication. Even news broadcasts…well, anyway, right before I was sent back, Carla began telling me about…”
“Wait a minuet, Blake, you are loosing me,” Began the older agent. “Who’s Carla?”
Blake rubbed his hair back knowing it made no use to explain.
“She was a…humanoid machine that was assigned to me…”
“Ok, you mean she was a robot?” the man asked, nearly grinning for the first time.
“Uh…not exactly, you see…”
“A cyborg then?” The man asked, with a grin.
“No, uh…they didn’t refer to them by that way. They were called HDPs, which stands for Humanoid Data Processors. They were much more…advanced than what we think of as robots.”
Blake looked over as the agent that was sitting on the bed began to rub his head muttering something to himself. “I told you that you would not believe me,” Blake said
“So, now we have Carla the robot entering this story, huh?”
One of the other agents chuckled.
“Tell me gramps, was she hot?” asked the agent that was sitting on the bed.
More laughter. This time, the older agent chuckled.
The agent tried to keep a straight face as he began to question Blake again. He picked up his glass of water and took another drink. He reached down on the table and apparently paused the recording on the small recorder. “Now, that is exactly how I wanted to describe my second ex-wife!” The older agent said, while looking around at his younger associates. All three burst out laughing. “Except her name was Karen; Karen the robot!”
“I’m sorry, Blake, I just had to throw that in. Now, with that aside, now let us continue,” The man said as he reached down and activated the small recorder. The agent, who was sitting on the bed, stood up and pretended to be talking on a cell phone in a woman’s voice. “Oh Blake, honey, I miss you so...much! Please come back to see me when you make another time machine!”
The two younger agents burst out laughing again. The older agent in charge could not contain his laughter as well. “Listen…guys! Let’s get on with this, alright?” He said while trying to regain his composure.
After waiting for the humiliating laughter to subside, Blake just kept his eyes downward, not being surprised at their reaction. If he was in their shoes, he would be laughing too, he thought.
“So, Professor Edwards, when you returned to this present time, you complained of an earache and visited the Dallas clinic?”
“Yes. I wanted to know for sure if what all I experienced was…true and not just a nightmare I had.”
“So, let me get this straight, you were…retrieved from the present, sent to the year twenty ninety-seven, shown the error of your ways from inventing a…time machine. Then, you were sent back to the present,” The man said in almost a chuckle.
Blake paused for a second. “I know it sounds unbelievable, but yes, that’s about it aside from a few other details.”
“What other details, Blake?”
Blake looked around the room. The two younger agents were both smiling, anticipating another wild tale.
“I’ve think…I said enough…sir. The rest is…not important.”
The man gave a straight face for the first time since early into the interrogation. “I will determine when you’ve answered enough questions, Mr. Edwards.”
“It’s no use. I wouldn’t believe me either,” Blake replied while staring downward.
“So, this Noah Sutton…whom you…claimed to be your future grandson, what was he like?”
Blake sighed and shook his head for a moment. “He…was older, uh…about forty-five. Uh, he was apparently, in charge of the…project that was to retrieve me.”
“So, did he have something to do with the device that was planted in your head?”
Blake paused again as he kept his eyes downward. “Yes, I assume he did. Although, he never came right out and told me.”
“What about this…Carla? Let’s talk about uh…the robot’s involvement?”
“She knew about it. I believe the HDPs could communicate somehow through the devices that were inside of the people’s ears. I don’t know. I was never told…”
The older agent threw up his hand again. “Wait a minuet; are you saying the robot could communicate with you telepathically?”
“Apparently so. She could…read my thoughts…somehow through the device.”
“You mean, it could read your mind?”
“I know that sounds crazy, sir. I…”
“Answer the question, please,” The man said.
“Like I said, I…believe it had something to do with the device. Uh…yes she knew what I was thinking. I could not understand the technology, nor would anyone from this time.”
The man reached down and deactivated the recorder. “She’s sounding more and more like my second ex-wife. I swear that woman could read my mind.”
The other two agents chuckled again.
The agent was sitting on the bed rose up again. “Excuse me boss, I just have to ask one thing…off the record of course.”
The older agent backed away and let the younger agent stand in front of Blake.
“Mr. Edwards, you said this…robot was assigned to you. Did it…uh, she…sleep with you too?” he asked with a silly grin.
The other agents chuckled.
It was not amusing to Blake. He knew he had made himself a spectacle now.
“I…don’t have to answer that.”
“You just did!” Responded the man as he laughed. “I wish I could have one assigned to me, what about you, McCray?”
The other young agent responded with another chuckle that was by the door.
All three men laughed again.
“Hey, Blake,” began the youngest agent who was standing in front of him. Blake knew another joke was on its way. “Did you bring back any sexy pictures of your robot girlfriend?”
Blake did not respond but kept looking downward.
“You didn’t, huh? Well, you want to see some?”
The men chucked again.
“Alright, alright guys, let’s not get too off track here.” The boss said while still in a chuckle.
“What a freaking idiot!” the young agent said, under his breath, as he returned to sit on the bed.
He reached down and reactivated the recorder. “Ok, Mr. Edwards, What you are saying is, the device that was placed in your head from twenty ninety-seven, was used as a communication device, uh compared to a cell phone or something?”
“I…don’t know. I just…know that it was used for some type of communication. Uh…they could use it for…news reports too. Outside of what I told you, that’s all I know about it. I swear.”
“This robot named Carla, how did you two interact?”
Blake knew that the question was just a formal rewording of the question that jokingly asked a few moments ago which drew laughter and pun. There were some more light chuckles.
“I…did not know she was not human until…until right before I was sent back.”
“How did you not know when she could read your mind, Mr. Edwards?”
“I…just thought it was some…high tech way of communicating through the device someway. Everything was so advanced, ok?”
“So, otherwise, you reacted to the robot as if it were a legitimate human, right?”
Blake paused again. He knew he would be ordered to answer the question if he remained silent for another second.
“Did you have…a relationship with…the robot?”
“Yes.” Blake replied as he kept his eyes focused on the carpet.
There were more chuckles from the two younger agents.
“How did it make you feel, when you found out your future girlfriend was…not human?”
“It…was humiliating of course. I was manipulated into their plans. I…I assume any man would do the same thing if they were left in the position that I was.”
“So, in other words, you were brought to a place in the future, introduced to a…robot that you thought was human. You were convinced that you could never return to the present, so, you developed this…intimate relationship with a…what did you call them?”
“HDPs.” Blake replied sheepishly.
“This…humanoid female became your significant other in assisting with their plans of assimilating you into their future society until you were convinced?”
“Then, she dropped the bomb on you by revealing that you were…having it with a machine?”
Blake sighed again. “In a round-about way, yes.”
“You must have been really peeved.”
“I was so humiliated at their mind games that I tried to escape on my own to a lunar colony.”
“Oh, so they have colonies on the moon in twenty-ninety-seven?”
“Hey, did you meet Flash Gordon?” The agent on the bed asked with a grin.
“I don’t think Flash was born yet, McCray,” the other agent replied.
“Oh…I must have meant Buck Rogers, then,” the agent answered.
“Nope, Buck Rogers was in the twenty-third century. He wasn’t born yet either,” the youngest agent replied back with a chuckle.
“Guys, guys, please. Wee are trying…to have a serious interrogation here,” the older agent replied, trying to keep a straight face.
The agent turned his face back to Blake. “Then what happened?”
“My escape was thwarted, and then I was put under sedation and placed back into the transporter. I awoke on my kitchen floor at ten thirty, the next morning. Like I told you all earlier; I was convinced not to develop the time transporter research as all humans were going extinct.”
“So, sometime after twenty ninety-seven, humanity would become…extinct?”
Blake sighed again. “Yes, both Dr. Noah Sutton and Carla…told me that there was some kind of genetic anomaly that prevented reproduction somehow and it could not be reversed.”
“Now, let me get this straight, Mr. Edwards. “Humanity was going extinct, so, they built these humanoid looking robots to fulfill the shortage?”
“I don’t know. I never did know how long they have been in production. I just knew they were becoming more advanced with time.”
The older agent paced the room slightly, rubbing his chin. “Ok, I think I am getting the picture here. Apparently, you were the key person in this grand scheme of history that could save mankind?”
“I…I try not to think of it that way. Really, I’m just a nobody but…”
“But, it was obvious that you became famous in the future that could alter our existence!”
Blake just slightly nodded his tired head.
The agent in charge slowly reached down and shut off the recording device. Blake assumed another humiliating joke was on the way. To Blake’s surprise, the agent in charge had a stern look on his face and nodded to one of the younger agents in the room. The agent, who was sitting on the bed rose slowly and retrieved what looked like a lap top that was closed, lying on the dresser. The agent opened the container and Blake noticed that it contained a syringe with two unmarked vials of clear liquid tucked away in a foam mesh.
Blake watched as the agent proceeded to fill the syringe with the mysterious fluid. At that time the agent walked over and stood behind Blake. The agent in charged looked at Blake in the eyes with bad intent as both younger agents were standing by awaiting for some order from their boss to proceed with whatever sinister deed they were up too.
“The little I’m crazy game that you are playing is over, Mr. Edwards. We don’t want to play anymore.” The agent said in a serious tone. “I am going to give you one more chance, and will ask you one more time. Who put that device in your head, and who are you working for?”
Blake became uncomfortable, feeling another panic attack coming on.
“I…I told you everything! I don’t know what else to say,” Blake muttered.
The agent bent down and put his face a few inches away from Blake’s face. He was so close that Blake could smell his aftershave mixed with the sent of gum. He began to speak in a soft tone.
“In a minuet, you are about to experience the most pain that you have ever felt in your meaningless life, Mr. Edwards. Since you refused to cooperate with us, we have no choice but to extract the truth by other means…of persuasion. I am giving you the courtesy of preparing you, by telling you this, Mr. Edwards.”
The agent slowly returned to a standing position. He then nodded to one of the agents as if giving the signal. Immediately, the agent who was standing behind Blake reached around and forced his left arm down on the table.
“What…what are you doing? What’s that?” Blake asked frantically as the younger agent began to move the syringe down to his arm.
“I swear, I told you what all I know! I…I am…not lying! Please, don’t!” Blake pleaded.
Blake felt the prick of the needle as it forcefully penetrated the vein.
In a matter of seconds, Blake felt his arm get very hot as the feeling soon spread throughout his body. Blake felt his joints tighten and every muscle contract. He felt his heart rate speed up as a sense of panic began. His head began to throb with excruciating pain. He began to gnash his teeth with the reaction of unspeakable and indescribable agony. The destroyed ear drum from the surgery began to become unbearable with pain with every beat of his rapid pulse. Blake began to cry out.
In his agony, Blake could see that the three agents stood back and watched with unemotional faces as if they were used to this tactic. Blake’s breathing became rapid as his body shook convulsively.
“How about it, Mr. Edwards? Does this jog your memory?” The agent in charge asked between Blake’s groans of pain.
Blake began to force out some words from his tormented mind. “I…told you…everything! Please…you’re…killing…me! Please…stop!”
The episode continued for what Blake thought was forever. After a couple of minuets, the agent repeated the question about the device. By this time, the induced pain was too much for Blake to withstand. He felt delirium creeping in as his mind began to shut down. The question was asked repeatedly over a span of five minuets. All Blake could do was moan. He felt blood inside of his mouth of where he had bit his tongue numerous times. He felt his head being held back by one of the agents as they griped his hair, forcing Blake not to lose consciousness. The small amount of pain from his hair being pulled was nothing in comparison to the mysterious drug that encompassed his entire body.
Blake felt his chest heave as he struggled to breathe. He felt his heart began to hurt as it was working beyond what it could possibly withstand. In his last few breaths, his mind longed for death. He knew it was coming, but the pain held on.
“Boss, we’re losing him,” one of the agents said, as his words echoed inside of Blake’s head.
The agent in charge nodded in agreement. The young agent took the other bottle in the case and hurriedly filed the empty syringe. He then inserted it inside of Blake’s arm.
In a few seconds, Blake felt his body becoming relaxed as the pain subsided. His heart rate slowly reduced to a normal rhythm.
As Blake came to his senses, he noticed the three agents were still standing in front of him, with stern faces. Blake wiped the many beads of sweat away from his brow with the back of his trembling hand. He still breathed heavily.
“I wish it would have not resorted to this, Mr. Edwards. However, with what is at stake, we must continue until we have your complete cooperation.”
“Please. I told you the truth. I…can’t explain any clearer.”
The agent in charge glanced over at the younger agent with the syringe and nodded his head again.
“No! Please don’t!” Blake pleaded. The episode was repeated. More pain; more intense than the last.
Blake was brought in and out of the extracting tactic for hours until he lost consciousness.
Rather than keep up the torturous technique, the agents would not risk his death as they placed Blake’s unconscious body on one of the beds.
Blake slept for several hours until the ring of one of the agent’s cell phone woke him. Blake noticed that it was dark outside as he slowly turned his head toward the curtain.
The agent in charge, mumbled into the phone as he paced the room. Occasionally he glanced back at Blake and noticed that he was awake, while he talked. Blake looked around the room and noticed that several pizza boxes, soft drinks and bread sticks were on the table. Some were empty as apparently the other agents had eaten.
“He’s conscious now. Yes…I will see you then,” The agent said, and then closed his cell phone. The older agent walked over to the edge of the bed. He gazed down at Blake.
“Sit up, please,” He ordered softly. Blake slowly rose to a sitting position in bed. His head hurt from both the torture and the surgery. The agent handed Blake his pain medication and a glass of water. Blake swallowed the tablet gladly and gulped the water down his parched throat.
“Someone will be here soon that would love to hear your story, Mr. Edwards. Are you hungry? What do you like, Blake, pepperoni, cheese, mushroom?”
Blake just shrugged his shoulders and knew he was in for a long night.
Blake was kept awake well into the night. Then was allowed a few hours sleep until he was brought a plate of biscuits and gravy from McDonalds, the next morning. His head ached again, and was allowed one dose of pain medication as well as the antibiotic from the older agent in charge who was keeping Blake’s meds.
A few more humiliating questions were asked about various areas of his past, as if they hadn’t already checked. Blake had no idea that he would wind up in the custody of Homeland Security. He wondered how far this thing would go before reaching the President’s desk. Surely, they would just think he was a nut and let him go. That was what Blake hoped for, even if he was telling the truth.
Blake had heard the older agent’s cell phone ringing numerous times all morning. Each time, the man would step inside of the bathroom and talk. Blake surmised that he was getting information form other agents doing background checks, computer checks…etc. Blake visualized that other agents had ransacked his apartment, confiscated his hard drive, looking for any terrorist clues or whatever they look for in the name of national security. He knew the search would frustrate them. He held on to his idea that sooner or later, they would give up…or would they?
After answering some more meaningless questions from the other agents, Blake was allowed to shower and freshen-up. While inside of the bathroom, he heard a knock on the door. Apparently, the agents were expecting company. Blake listened as he could tell someone arrived by the sound of the greeting. He overheard the agent in charge refer to the visitor as: Dr. David Summers. Just as quick as the mysterious visitor had arrived, he left the room with the older agent in charge.
Blake emerged from the bathroom, and noticed that only the two younger agents were in the room. Each one was sitting on a double bed giving him a look of amusement as he walked across the room back to the small table. Blake noticed that a tripod and camera bag was over in the corner. It was disturbing that he would now be videoed and studied by some shrink.
After a few seconds of silence, Blake asked one of the agents where their boss was. One of the agents informed him that he took his recorder and was in another room, reviewing it with someone who will be visiting with Blake afterwards. He was then ordered to sit down and wait patently.
After about fifteen minuets, the door opened, and in walked the agent in charge, with an elderly, distinguished, looking gentleman. The elderly man was carrying a laptop and had a serious look on his face. Blake assumed the agent in charge had let him hear the audio recording of the previous interview. Blake sensed that the older gentleman took it much more serious than the others for some reason.
Blake noticed that the elderly man was neatly dressed with an uncommon blue, bow tie at the top of his white button down shirt. His hair was completely white and was balding on top. Blake figured he looked to be in his early seventies.
The agent in charge gave a quick introduction of the man and wasted no time in getting the camera set up for recording. Blake assumed his normal position seated at the small table, while the elderly man started the camera to record.
“Good Morning, Mr. Edwards.” Said the man, as he slowly sat down in front of Blake on the other chair, which was with the small table.
“Good Morning, Doctor.” Blake acknowledged.
“I am the senior psycho analysis officer with the Department of Homeland Security and also with the CIA. I periodically do consulting with the behavioral units in the FBI at Quantico Virginia. I apologize if I may yawn occasionally during our session due to getting up at four this morning. I got the call from the deputy director at my Arlington home this morning back in Virginia. However, I managed to nap a bit on the jet this morning, so, if you would, Mr. Edwards, please start by telling me about yourself-where you are employed, birth date and so on. After your brief introduction, just relax and tell me everything you know about all that you experienced last Saturday night.”
Blake reluctantly began to tell about himself and proceeded into the hypnosis that the specialist induced. Blake began to vividly recall the harrowing experience of being thrust ninety years into the future and back.
He answered the shrink’s questions one by one as the session went on for more than an hour. As before, the older agent in charge, which Blake began to realize, seemed to be higher up in the organization than he first thought as he listened intently standing by, next to the sliding glass door. The agent’s eyes glared at him with more of a serious nature than when he conducted his own interview the night before. Also, the other two agents that were in the room refrained from their chuckling as if they held some higher respect for the one giving the hypnotic interview session.
Once the interview session was over, one of the other agents helped dissemble the camcorder from the tripod as Dr. Summers gathered his notes and laptop. The agent in charge motioned for the door, as the youngest agent hurried over and opened it for the two men. Blake assumed they were retreating to another private room to discuss the interview.
As the two men exited the door, the other two agents walked over to Blake and gave him intimidating stares. Blake was not affected as he tried to recall what he had said to the old man.
“I hope you know what you’re doing, Mr. Edwards,” One of the agents said.
Blake remained silent.
“I think you ought to turn your story into a book. It would make a great sci-fi novel!” The other agent said, as he chuckled. “I especially loved the part about the robot lover. Man, I wish we had some of those running around in this time!”
The slightly older agent wasn’t as amused. “Give it a rest, Todd. I think Mr. Time Traveler gets the point by now.”
“Well, what do you think, Doctor?” The head agent asked, as they both sat across from each other on the two beds, in another acquired room, two doors down the hall. “This is in your line of expertise.”
“I think you have an interesting subject on your hands, John,” Dr. Summers replied as he opened his laptop, across his knees.
“Yeah, he’s interesting alright. “He’s a freaking basket case!” John replied, with a grin.
The elderly shrink rubbed his scraggly, grey goatee as if in deep thought. The agent wondered why he did not respond to his pun.
“So, what are you thinking?”
“I believe Mr. Edwards is telling the truth,” Dr. Summers replied, as he stared down at the images of the device that was emailed to his laptop from the hospital.
The agent nearly swallowed his gum. “David, tell me you are not serious!”
Dr. Summers continued to scroll down on his laptop, looking at the various pictures of Blake’s implanted device, which was inside of his head.
“Come on! You got to be kidding me! Are you telling me that you actually believe this fruitcake?”
Dr. Summers stood to his feet, and placed the laptop down on the bed, turning the images toward the agent. He began to pace the room slowly, interlocking his boney fingers as if ready to go into a distinguished lecture. John glanced over at the images on the laptop, waiting for an explanation from the government, contracted shrink.
“David, you are…”
“Just hold on, John, before you get all bent out of shape, please here me out,” Dr. Summers said, holding up his wrinkled hand.
Dr. Summers paused for a few seconds, as he began to slowly pace the room.
“I do believe he is truthfully recalling what he had experienced,” Dr. Summers began. “Now, do I believe he physically traveled to and from the future by conventional means? That would be physically impossible.”
Agent John Henderson looked confused as he took out his last stick of gum and placed it in his mouth with the other stale piece from an hour ago. He suddenly caught himself wishing for a cigarette for the first time since he quit seven years earlier.
Dr. Summers continued.
“I have been around in my forty-seven years of working with the government, John. I have been working with the government since nineteen sixty interviewing everything from UFO abduction claims to sightings of Sasquatch. Do you recall reading about the Barney and Betty Hill case that happened in nineteen sixty-one?”
“Uh, yeah, that was supposedly the first documented alien abduction claim, wasn’t it?” John answered.
“Precisely, and as with other paranormal cases over the years, I have observed and concluded that they all seem to have a special trait in common.”
“What’s that?” John replied quickly, as his eyes closely followed Dr. Summers around the room.
“They each believe, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that their experience was real. Even under deep level hypnosis, they recalled everything in vivid detail, just as Blake Edwards did. As numerous lie detector tests proved, they were actually telling the truth.”
“So, you think it was some kind of dream or hallucination?”
Dr. Summers began to shake his head. “Not exactly, John. I believe that Mr. Blake Edwards had definitely experienced some kind of unexplained phenomena.”
John gave a sigh at Dr. Summer’s answer. “I was hoping you wouldn’t say something to that effect, Doctor. Just like you said before, time travel is physically impossible, right?”
Dr. Summers paused.
“In a conventional way, yes; however, theoretically, and on paper, it can be possible. I know you are somewhat familiar with Einstein’s theory of relativity.”
John nodded in agreement as beads of sweat began breaking out on his forehead.
“To put it in a nutshell, space and time are curved. Let’s put it this way. If an astronaut were to travel in a space ship nearing the speed of light, time would seem normal relative to the astronaut. Let’s say the astronaut traveled to the nearest star and back at near the speed of light. Let’s assume the astronaut was gone for twenty years. Now that is assuming, it was twenty years to the traveling astronaut; however, back on earth, a hundred, two hundred or more years had past. Theoretically, the astronaut could then meet his great, great, grandchildren when he returned.”
“So, what has all of that got to do with Blake Edwards?” John asked.
“Oh yes, sorry about my rambling on. Anyway, in this present time, we have no means of that kind of propulsion system to send someone that far into space. We must be hundreds or perhaps thousands of years away from that kind of technology. Or, we may never be able to harness that kind of technology. Thus, time travel is left to the mathematical equations on paper. Traveling backward, on the other hand, is not possible, not even theoretically…as of conventional equations.
“So, he’s delusional!” John interjected, sounding desperate.
Dr. Summers mustered a brief grin. “However, there is one more explanation. Let’s just suppose, Mr. Edwards really did travel through time. He…”
“Wait a minuet! I thought you said…”
“Please, here me out, John.”
Dr. Summers continued.
“Suppose, not very far into the future, our technology would be able to manipulate space into wormholes. Let’s just say for the sake of argument, that Mr. Blake Edwards did return to college to become a physics professor. Let’s suppose that in the future, he was able to conduct experiments on matter and anti matter to produce a…”
“Time machine?” John interjected again, sounding desperate.
“Not a time machine, per say but a…wormhole. Remember, what I said earlier, space is curved. Let’s assume you take a sheet of paper and fold it in half.”
Dr. Summers walked over and tore out a sheet of paper on a legal pad. He then removed an ink pin from his pocket. He drew two dots about six inches apart and began to wrap the paper in a circular fashion.
“Let’s say this dot is earth, and the other dot is your destination. The curved sheet of paper represents space and time. Now, as you can see, to travel to the other dot, you will have to go liner to get to your destination. Suppose it will take thousands of years to get there in space. That would be futile. Who would ever want to undertake such a task? However, if we were to fold this paper tightly so that the two corresponding dots line up, take this pin, which represents the wormhole and punch a hole into the paper, we can see that we would immediately reach the other dot almost in an instant when the paper is folded. Thus, space is bent.”
Dr. Summers held up the sheet of paper showing the pin sticking out the back side of the paper. John felt like he was back in his college physics class in the 1960s.
“Ok, David, I get the picture. You are saying with a wormhole, someone could go back and forth between the two destinations in a mater of seconds.”
“Precisely, but, those destinations could be certain points in time or perhaps, dimensions, even alternate universes,” Dr. Summers answered enthusiastically. “How that could be manipulated, remains to be seen.”
John reached over and picked up Dr. Summers laptop. He studied the pictures of the tiny device, on extreme magnification.
“It still doesn’t explain how this Motorola electronic thing got in his ear, or who put it there.”
Dr. Sutton shrugged his shoulders. “You wanted my psychological and scientific evaluation on the subject, didn’t you? I’m not a detective, John.”
Dr. Summers paused and shook his head. “That is and I will admit, unexplained and to be honest with you, I don’t know how it could have been accomplished with such precession in today’s technology”.
“I’m sorry, Doctor, I will have to disagree with you there. You know what I think? I think someone put the thing there for communication purposes. I think he concocted that crazy time travel story, making himself look like a lunatic to throw us off.”
“Well, if that is the case, where in this time could one get that technology?” Dr. Summers asked.
“That’s what we have been fishing for, Doctor. The guy apparently knows something!”
Dr. Summers walked slowly over to the agent and placed a shaking hand on his shoulder. He looked the agent right into his eyes and gave a gentle suggestion.
“Let it go, John.”
The agent took out his handkerchief and wiped the beads of sweat from his brow, knowing and silently about to agree with Dr. Summers. “What do we do with him?”
“Let me ask you something, John. Has the subject been formally charged with anything?”
“Has a background check indicated that he is a threat to national security?”
John paused as he gave a condescending sigh. “No.”
“What about electronic surveillance? Any suspicious emails or internet visits?”
“No. However, we did find that…he visited a…site regularly which theorized time traveling.”
Dr. Summers raised an eyebrow as he removed his hand from the agent’s shoulder. “Ah…how interesting.”
“To be honest with you, Doctor, what has us baffled is that he has a…perfect background that would put some priests to shame. We have been unable to find absolutely nothing on this guy. His home phone records show nothing. His cell phone records show nothing and he has very few friends other than his coworkers. His work record is stellar, and he hardly even takes a vacation. He has never been out of the country and only left Texas once in the mid nineties on some college trip to New York City.”
Dr. Summers, chuckled lightly as he sat back down on the bed across from John. “From what I see, John, he displays no threat to himself and others around him. As you say, he is not a flight risk, so, I see no reason to detain him any longer. Unless you have some concrete evidence on him, you have no legal right to detain him much less to arrest the poor guy. Let me ask you this. What about the girlfriend?”
“Miss Duncan has a clean background as well. She has since been released but is under surveillance at this time,” Replied John, as he fiddled around in his shirt pocket for more gum but soon discovered that he was out. A cigarette crossed his mind again. “My God, David…how can this be? What do we do with him?” John asked as he began to breathe heavily.
Dr. Summers paused. “I would recommend releasing him as soon as possible. You can keep him under surveillance until you are satisfied and truly determined that he is not a threat. However long that will be, will be up to you guys. If, one day, he returns to college to…become that…physics professor, then you may get your answer what you are looking for. If not, well…the future just may have been saved,” He replied with a slight grin.
“I thought you said he is delusional!” The agent replied as he started to sweat again.
“I didn’t say that John…you did.”
“Now, you sound like you actually think he really did travel to the future.”
Dr. Summers chuckled. “In my line of work and from what all we know, anything is possible, right?” he said with a grandfatherly wink.
Agent John Henderson silently recalled his experiences dealing with top secret investigations as well. He had to agree with him.
“I’m done here, John.”
Dr. Summers rose up and gathered his laptop and writing pad. John remained seated on the bed, staring at the floor with a disappointing demeanor.
Just before walking toward the door, Dr. Summers paused and turned around. “I will study the recordings further and make a formal evaluation. I will send it to your Washington office as soon as possible. I assume just as the others, this will remain classified…right?”
John paused as he clung to the defeated look.
“John?” replied Dr. Summers, waiting for John’s answer.
“Uh, yes, Doctor, of course.”
John knew there was one more thing that he withheld from Dr. Summers. He wanted to omit the finding but after all of the time traveling lecture that he just heard, he couldn’t help but wonder. After receiving a phone call from his associate in Dallas, earlier that morning, he was left with a sickening feeling in his gut. It was another unexplained piece of evidence that corresponded to Blake’s experience. He would wait no longer.
“Doctor, wait!” John said.
Dr. Summers stopped dead in his tracks just before opening the room door.
“There is one more thing…that I forgot to mention. I have agents that were searching Blake’s apartment and…some burnt…what appeared to be markings, were on the bedroom ceiling and kitchen floor. A sample was taken and flown to our lab for analysis.
Also, radiation levels were detected in the apartment. They were above background levels. They were…”
“Go on, John.” Dr. Summers replied.
“They were comparable to…cosmic radiation.”
“You mean, space?”
John paused. “I guess…yes.”
Dr. Summers breathed in a breath of fresh air. “Like I said, I will review the session and send you a formal evaluation. Let him go, John. You have no reason to hold him,” Dr. Summers said with a smile. “Oh, I will need to meet with Mr. Edwards briefly and privately before he is released, please,” Added Dr. Summers before he stepped out of the door.
John sighed reluctantly. “As you wish, Doctor.”
Blake remained seated at the table while alone with Dr. Summers in the opposite chair. The other agents were excused to the hallway. The video camera was already packed away which indicated that the discussion was going to be off the record and private.
“I believe you Blake and everything is going to be all right,” Dr. Summers replied, after nearly a minuet of silence.
Blake looked up at the old man and replayed the sound of his voice in his mind. It sounded familiar.
“You have nothing to worry about. Everything was a success, Blake.”
Blake stared into the man’s eyes. He began to think and knew he had seen this man before. “Who…who are you?” Blake asked quietly.
“Of course you may not recognize me. I have changed in appearance…obviously,” The mysterious man replied as he ended with a chuckle.
“I…do not remember meeting you, but, you seem very…familiar,” Blake said as he continued to search his memory.
“I am Noah Sutton.”
Blake stood slowly to his feet as he studied the old man’s familiar face. Blake remained speechless.
“I know…you must be confused again, Blake. It is true. I am Noah Sutton and I can prove it.”
“How did…I thought that the transporter was destroyed and…oh no, no, you are just… you can’t be Noah Sutton!”
“Please sit, Blake. Let me explain something to you.” The man replied as he pointed a shaky finger to the empty seat.
Blake slowly seated himself as he kept his eyes on the old man. “Ok, prove to me that you are Dr. Noah Sutton.”
“If you recall, in twenty ninety-seven, back at your dwelling, you became confrontational to me when it was revealed to you that Carla was an HDP,” Dr. Sutton began. “You pushed my head against the wall and it began bleeding. This happened just before we sent you back.”
Blake recalled the incident, but still was not completely convinced. “Ok, give me something else.”
When after you first arrived, do you remember being shown the holographic image of Dallas Texas in your present day? There was a speeding car that went right through you. I never will forget the look on your face.”
Blake had a look of surprise knowing none of the events was brought up during the interrogations. Only Noah Sutton would know. “How did you get here? Why are you old, now?” I thought the transporter was destroyed after I was sent back!” Blake replied in almost a whisper.
“Yes, it was dismantled and the technology secretly destroyed, but not until I was sent back a few months later. You see Blake, I was sent back to the year nineteen seventy-six.”
“Why…nineteen seventy-six?” Blake asked.
“That was the year you were born. I was at the hospital at the time of your birth, Blake. Nobody questioned me as I stared at you through the wide window beside your young father. I imagined he just thought I was there for some other birth.”
“Wait a minuet! How were you able to do this?”
“Before I left, in twenty ninety-seven, we were able to falsify documents matching the primitive technology of the nineteen seventies. That was the year in which I was able to become my identity as forty year old Dr. David Summers. My credentials had me listed as being employed by the US government since nineteen-sixty.”
“I was more or less an observer, Blake. I watched you and secretly made sure you were taken care of.”
“I will have to admit, it was fascinating, watching history unfold. I could have changed the outcome such as warning about natural disasters and impending wars. I could have warned about the terrorist attacks on September eleventh, two thousand and one, but I could not. I had to let things happen they way they were meant to happen. Who would have believed me anyway?”
“So, it all started with…me?” Blake asked.
“I’m afraid so. Like I said, I kept up with you over the years, Blake. I even came to your high school and college graduations. I actually looked forward to this day, meeting with you face to face. I am grateful that I lived to this age to see the project come full circle. I am actually seventy-seven years old, Blake. However, my present identity lists me as seventy-one. I have no family as I never married. That would create a paradox, I’m sure, or some forces in nature would prevent it. You do live in a remarkable time, Blake. I can go to my rest now, knowing that such a catastrophe will be avoided. If time travel were to be rediscovered, our data models indicate it would be only a minute chance and would be hundreds of years in the future.
Blake studied Noah’s words in his mind as there was a brief silence. “What will happen to you, I mean…”
Noah Sutton slowly rose to his feet. He took two small steps over and placed his hand on Blake’s shoulder.
“Now that the future has been changed, I would have never existed anyway.”
Blake slowly nodded his head in agreement.
“I must go now, Blake. Do not worry about the outcome of this…episode that you are going through. I will make sure that you will be eventually left alone and not harassed by your government again.”
“They tortured me,” Blake replied. “They wanted a confession.”
“I know. I assure you that will never happen to you again.”
“So, will I ever see you again…Dr. Sutton?” Blake asked.
“Will you be going back to…twenty ninety-seven?” Blake asked.
“Have you ever heard of ‘The Novikov Self-consistency Principle, Blake?” Noah asked with a smile.
Blake paused for a moment, remembering his own informal research in books and the internet on the theory. “Yes. It basically states that you cannot return to the future to witness the change, if one were to travel back in time and alter history, right?” Blake replied.
“Yes. So, you see, I am to live out the rest of my natural life here in this present time. There will be no future of what you witnessed, therefore, no time transporter was invented. Thus, I have no means to return.”
Blake contemplated the thought.
“Take care of yourself, Blake.” Noah said, as he turned and slowly made his way to the door.
As soon as John Henderson returned to Blake’s room, he wasted no time in arranging transportation for Blake to return to his Dallas apartment.
Blake was given his meds, cell phone, which he knew would be taped and his wallet. He was driven back to Dallas, by one of the agents who remained silent the whole way. On the way home, he wondered about the fabricated story of a rare infection that he was instructed to tell Sherry and whomever else knew about his Houston stay. He wanted to tell Sherry the truth, but knew she would never believe him and leave him if she hadn’t already.
Assistant, deputy director, John Henderson, stood motionless at the convenience store’s counter. He had hurried alone in his rental car through the busy Houston streets, contemplating his decision, while mentally recalling Blake’s experience of traveling into the future. He recalled getting a call on his cell phone after Blake was released, from another one of his operatives in Dallas. They had said there were reports of “atmospheric disturbances” in and around Dallas the night of Blake’s experience. The apartment manager had said power had suddenly went off at around 11:30 P.M. that Saturday night around the grid block Blake lived on and power had returned three minuets later. What really perturbed John was the interview of a witness, who had witnessed a very bright flash of light out side of the apartment building on the side of where Blake’s apartment was. He was now less skeptical because of all of the “other” government secrets that he knew about in his thirty seven years as an FBI agent, CIA operative supervisor and now, since July, 2002, Assistant Director with the office of Homeland Security. He recalled the UFO abduction stories and the technology his government had acquired since the 1947 Roswell incident. Deep down, his consciousness told him that anything was possible in this universe, even…time traveling.
The thoughts were nearly two much for the sixty year-old as he stood in a trance-like state in front of the store clerk. Being paid to deceive and keep secrets from the American people had taken its toll. Retirement crossed his mind once again.
“Come on, buddy, what are you doing’?” Came a man’s voice from behind him.
“Sir?” the clerk asked, trying to get his attention.
John licked his lips as he studied the rows of cigarettes behind the young man. It had been over seven years since he had had puffed his last. “Give me one pack of Camel regular, please,” John finally said, with a slightly nervous quiver in his voice.
After driving around and staring at the unopened pack on the dashboard, he pulled up in front of a “gentlemen’s lounge” in downtown Houston.
The place was nearly desolate as it was early afternoon. The lights were very dim, giving it a sleazy feel, while trying to convey an upscale atmosphere. There were less than ten patrons, all men of course, middle-aged and older, scattered around the stage. John slowly walked over to the gold-railed bar and seated himself. He looked to his right, and two men of at least in their sixties, sitting right below the stage, was staring unemotionally up at the young exotic dancer as she swung around the gold colored pole.
John watched as she uninhibitedly paraded her assets, but soon found his thoughts returning to Blake Edwards.
He removed his cell phone from the inside of his jacket and stared at it for a few seconds as if contemplating making a call, then, turned it off. He picked up the pack of cigarettes and removed one from the pack. The bartender, who appeared to be in his sixties, walked over and stood in front of John, and began to smile, noticing that John had stuck the unlit cigarette to his lips.
“You need a light, sir?” the man asked.
“Please, and while you are at it, get me a scotch on the rocks; make it a double,” John replied.
The man obliged as John gladly inhaled the first drag of smoke. It felt soothing. He hurriedly took in another drag as the bartender sat the glass of scotch in front of him.
Looking down at the glass, he suddenly thought of his times spent in AA meetings before his second divorce. As John was contemplating taking the first drink in ten years, he understood why both wives had left him. It was this very reason he was sitting here. The pressures of work, nights on the town entertaining government collogues-frequenting bars, strip clubs and no time for his two children, led to his demise as a father and husband. Now, he had become a lonely man, on the verge of self destruction, nearing the twilight of his life. He felt the call of decadence once again as if it had been his destiny throughout his life. The outward appearance of a clean cut man with tailored suites and professionalism left others to wonder how such a man could have it all together. John secretly knew he was a man lost in his own demons, with his personal life in shambles and mentally struggling to maintain his competence.
Maybe in another time or place I could have got it right. John thought as he stared at the glassful of spirits, while taking his pen, and punching it through the folded napkin.
John swirled the scotch around, and took a drink. He glanced over at the only girl on the stage that looked to be no more than 20, and thought about Blake’s tale of Carla. He chuckled at the thought as the girl made eye contact with John. The young dancer returned with a flirtatious wink. In a cloud of his own smoke, John gathered his pack of cigarettes, half empty glass of scotch and began to walk over to a small table below the stage.
“I’ll have another double. Just bring it over here,” He said to the bartender, as he made his way over to the stage. When John seated himself, he pulled out a fifty-dollar bill and began to roll it around in his fingers, getting the girl’s attention. The dancer smiled seductively as she moved in the direction of where John had sat down.
Blake had called Sherry as soon as he arrived back at his apartment. Just as he had expected, the apartment was in shambles. He also suspected his phone line and living space would be tapped and under surveillance.
His suspicions were right, as the government had secret agents hid around various areas of the block where Blake lived. He was followed daily. His small talk on the phone to his parents was being eavesdropped as if he were labeled a terrorist.
Sherry was understandably distant. Blake had gave her a line of about him contacting a rare infection that was thought of being terrorist related, but after formal investigation, was cleared of all suspicion. She continued to not trust Blake after her own humiliating ordeal.
After about two weeks since Blake had returned to Dallas, Sherry arranged to have lunch with Blake at the local food court, down the street. They arranged to meet shortly after noon. Blake sensed what was coming, especially after their relationship had been falling apart over the last two weeks.
He had grown numb to the thought of Sherry officially breaking up with him. He wouldn’t blame her. He knew she did not trust him after her own experience of being questioned and followed. They were probably watching now, he thought as he nibbled on his sandwich sitting at the small, wire table with Sherry.
Both were silent for a few moments, then, Blake reached for her hand. It was cold. He had a sudden remembrance of Carla’s hands.
Sherry removed her hand and had a tear in her eye. She began to tell him of how uncomfortable she had become in their relationship since the ordeal. As Blake had expected, she proceeded to inform him that she wished to not see him any longer.
Blake was numb. Once again, he realized the experience had taught him to keep his emotions in check. He understood and silently knew she deserved someone she could completely trust. With what she had experience, he wondered if she would ever trust another man again.
As Blake sat there listening to her, he longed for her to find happiness again. At the same time, he visualized a future that would forever be changed. There would be no wedding. There would be no grandson called Noah Sutton. There would be no Carla, and more importantly, at least he hoped, there would be no discovery of time travel, at least in Blake’s future.
After leaving the small café, and going their separate ways for the last time, Blake looked around at the city while he strolled down the sidewalk. He knew eventually, the government would call off their hounds when they were finally satisfied he was not a threat. As he strolled along, strangers, men and women of all ages and various races glanced his way, with most giving a friendly smile. Blake began to smile, knowing that at least there was still hope in the human race. He once had loved Sherry and part of him still did, however, letting her go was a price that must be paid for ensuring that nothing he had witnessed would ever come to pass. A strange sense of accomplishment came over Blake as he whistled a tune.
Maybe this was how it was all to be!
He strolled along with his hands in his pants pockets, returning to his office, where he would spend the rest of his working career.
Four years had passed since Blake and Sherry had their last lunch together. Blake had moved on in his life as well as Sherry. The last he had heard, she was happily engaged to an attorney who worked in a private firm downtown. Blake had not dated. He had a few female friends, but no one special. Blake had moved from his apartment and was living in a studio apartment closer to his office. As far as he could tell, the agents were not keeping tabs on his every move any longer. Just as Noah had once said, they seemed to have given up about two years after his experience. Blake still held onto his menial state job as an accountant and had no plans to leave.
It was a hot July day on a Saturday. Blake checked for any messages on his smart phone before gathering up his dirty clothes in the corner of the room. A knock was heard on his apartment door. He looked through the peep hole and noticed an attractive woman who had a fashionable yellow skirt and white pull-over shirt on. She had a cream colored hat with a brim pulled slightly down covering part of her sunglasses. Blake wondered if he should open the door. He knew he had paid the rent on time. Nevertheless, the mysterious woman intrigued him, as he slowly opened the door.
Blake was astounded as he looked at the woman standing in his doorway removing her sunglasses.
Blake stood speechless as he gazed at Carla.
A feeling of mixed emotions began to go through his mind. He had tried to forget about Carla, but as traumatic as the whole experience was it was if it had just happened. The ordeal had cost him Sherry and many sleepless nights as well as reoccurring bad dreams. He also went to therapy and had been on antidepressants for the last four years. Now, it was as if he was reliving the nightmare all over!
“Carla? I…don’t understand. How…?”
Blake was nearly speechless as he continued to gaze at her. She removed her hat and Blake noticed that her brown hair lay neatly around the back of her neck. She was perfect, just as he remembered her.
“May I come in?” she asked, with a smile
Blake just nodded his head. She walked slowly in, just past the threshold. She closed the door behind her.
“How…I thought…you were reprogrammed,” Blake asked
“No. I assisted Dr. Sutton on the project until he left just a few weeks after you were sent back. Dr. Sutton left the transporter data in my banks and was secretly reassembled years later.”
“By…whom…you mean…by you?”
Carla smiled. “Yes.”
“Is this…it” Blake asked.
“The time transporter device does not exist now, Blake,” Carla answered with a smile.
“So, you mean…you will be…here?” Blake replied.
Carla smiled again. Her full, red lips looked inviting in contrast to her unblemished face.
“What will you do…I mean, how you would be able to function in this world?” Blake asked as he was still in a state of shock.
“I have already been here nearly three months, Blake. I have a job; a computer analysis specialist. I have an apartment, an automobile, even a cat,” Carla replied with a smile.
“What about Dr. Sutton?” Blake asked. “Is he still living?”
“Yes. He has retired from his job and is living a quite life in Hawaii.”
“So, you have been in touch with him and…he knows?” Blake asked, still in bewilderment.
“So, he knew you would be transported to…here?”
Blake paused for a moment, trying to contemplate what all Carla was saying. More questions were tearing at his mind.
“You…won’t age. How will you explain that to people?”
Carla paused as if she were thinking like a mere human. “I will age now.”
Blake shook his head slowly as many more questions raced through his mind. Carla remained silent. Blake had never witnessed her being so…human. It was apparent Carla had evolved to a more advanced machine. He wondered how long she must have remained behind to become so much more advanced. It could have been hundreds of years. However, one question had to be asked. He had to know.
“Don’t you know what I am thinking?”
She took two steps toward Blake and reached for his hands. Her hands felt warm. Blake felt some long lost emotion return as he grasped her hands in his.
“No, Blake. Without the device in your inner ear, I am unable to communicate with you by thought.”
For the first time, Blake took his eyes away from Carla’s face and looked down at the hardwood floor they were standing on. He noticed her modern, causal shoes. He had thought of her every day since his return.
“I have so…many questions. I…don’t know what else to say…or where to start.”
Carla smiled again. “We have all the time you need.”
Blake felt her warm caress as she held both hands. Her eyes seemed full of life.
“I missed you, Blake Edwards,” Carla said softly and smiling.
Blake remained speechless for a few seconds as he contemplated his feelings again. He closed his eyes as she caressed his hands. Her touch was emotional and warm. Blake knew something was different about her. It was if she had learned to actually feel human emotion. He suddenly remembered the day back in 2097 when Carla seemingly shed her first tear. She seemed as perplexed as he.
When he opened his eyes, she had moved in close. He gazed into her green eyes.
“I missed…you too, Carla.”
One apparent conclusion came to Blake’s mind as he studied her beautiful eyes.
Carla was more human than human!
They both embraced in a long and meaningful kiss.