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fiction humor Science Fiction Stories

The Silver Sphere Part 5

If you haven’t been following “The Silver Sphere” or need a refresher, click here for part one and here for part two and here for part three and here for part four.

We arrived in New York City after a not-so-unpleasant drive from Daytona Beach. Most of the credit for the uneventful trip goes to my resurrected Mazda Miata. The last thing I needed was to be worn out from a difficult trip because my partner and I had a mountainous journey ahead of us.

Arcon, a super intelligent machine from the other side of our galaxy, was here to do a job of the utmost importance, and he had recruited me to help him. I’m certain, however, that he did not consider me as his partner. 

He, who is not really a “he,” but a highly evolved artificial intelligence packed in a portable silver sphere, didn’t have to like me. He didn’t have to consider me a friend, or an associate, or a co-worker, or anything else of that ilk. He had come to Earth to save us from a horrible fate. He had to do it quickly and efficiently. He had no use for extraneous pursuits such as cementing interstellar relationships because time was running out. In a few hours, the Earth would be reduced to fizzling cinders…unless we intervened successfully.

My name is Joseph Aleksov. I’m a writer by vocation and a Serbian by birth, not that it matters now. Metaphors tend to pop up in my oral and written communication. I use the word “mountainous” above for good reason. I have the unenviable task of transporting Arcon, undetected, to the very top of the One World Trade Center building.

A beautiful build resurrected on the ashes of the twin towers.

One World Trade Center was built to replace the Twin Towers destroyed on 9/11. It is one of the tallest buildings in the world, measuring 1,776 feet high. It is no coincidence that the size of the building exactly matches the date of America’s independence. Many features have been incorporated into the building’s construction to prevent the tragedies that occurred in the 9/11 attacks.

Arcon has assured me that the building’s security will not be difficult to navigate. I am, to say the least, doubtful. I have no idea how many layers of security we will have to pass through to reach the top of the building without arousing suspicion. I have read that there are four hundred security cameras mounted throughout the building, all of them running the latest anti-terrorist software. There are an undisclosed number of New York City policemen patrolling the building in any number of locations. I’ve read that the lower Manhattan police force has been beefed up to six-hundred-and-seventy officers. I imagine many of them are assigned to guard One World Trade Center.

I am reasonably certain of only three things: (1) I am not a terrorist (2) I’m no security expert, and (3) Although I am trying to save the planet, there is a high probability that I will be incarcerated, and shortly afterward, the Earth will explode.

A Pulsar From A Distant Star Destroys the Earth

With Arcon packed in wrapping paper inside a sturdy, innocent-looking shopping bag, I walked past the soaring white arches of the Oculus, an underground transportation hub. I was fascinated to learn about an interesting feature of the structure. Incorporated into its design is a lasting reminder of the attacks of September 11, 2001. It is in alignment with the sun’s solar angles on each September 11, from 8:46 am, when the first plane struck, until 10:28 am, when the second tower collapsed. Its central skylight fits this alignment and washes the Oculus floor with a beam of light.

Walking outside One World Trade Center near the entrance to the Oculus transportation hub.

Past the Oculus, I caught my first glimpse of the gleaming edifice known as One World Trade Center. Seeing the building in person added profoundly to my sense of urgency. The beauty and grandeur of this project is a testament to the resiliency and creativity of the human spirit. Seven other buildings have been constructed to complement the project. To imagine that all of this might be destroyed again by a random pulsar from a distant star is incomprehensible.

Neutron Star Supernova

To avoid waiting in lines, we arrived at the observatory entrance a few minutes after the opening time of 9:00 AM. Three soldiers in battle fatigues stood guard outside the entrance. A tag on their bulky vests identified them as members of the New York National Guard. Every inch of them, from their hats, to their pistols, to their machine guns, and down to their car-wax-shine-boots shouted: I mean business. Do not fuck with me. And, most importantly: DO NOT TRY ANYTHING STUPID.

Entrance to the One World Trade Center Observatory.

I tried on a friendly smile and a wave. It didn’t go over well. We passed through the glass and steel doors to the security gauntlet. I call it a gauntlet because it looked more ominous than a TSA security station at an airport. I purchased an expensive express lane ticket for the observatory. To my dismay, I realized the express ticket wasn’t going to make my journey through the gauntlet any easier.

I was most concerned about the complicated scanner. It was equipped with a laser scanner and a conventional x-ray camera. It looked powerful enough to examine Arcon right down to his atoms. I didn’t see how Arcon’s disguise as a Nineteenth Century Art Deco vase was going to pass muster. Attempting to pass through this formidable security array was sheer suicide. Then again, what choice did I have? I’d surely be dead if I didn’t try.

Art Deco Silver Vase 19th Century
19th Century Art Deco Vase

I placed the shopping bag on the scanner’s conveyor belt. I shed the required personal belongings one normally removes before boarding an airplane, and placed them alongside the shopping bag. I walked through the metal detector, certain that I’d be surrounded by policemen at the other end.

I made it through the metal detector without hearing any alarms. A heavily armed police officer approached me. I thought: this is how it is done. Politely lead the suspected terrorist away so as not to disturb any of the other visitors.

Instead of arresting me, the officer asked me why I was bringing the vase into the building. I told him that I intended to give it to my fiancée as a gift. I ad-libbed the part about my fiancée. It sounded more believable than “my girlfriend.” He looked at me with an entirely too serious expression. I was positive he didn’t believe my story. Then, he asked me how long I planned to stay in the building. With every ounce of my being, I tried not to look relieved.

I had no idea how to answer the officer’s question. How long would it take Arcon and me to do what we had come to do? I barged ahead, ad-libbing all the way. “I’d say six hours to be on the safe side, officer. Would that be alright?”

“Let me see your driver’s licence, or some other valid ID.”

I handed over my driver’s license in mortal fear that I had said something wrong.

“Collect your items and wait for me on one of those benches over there. I’ll generate your OWTC ID card and bring it to you. You’ll need the card for all points of entry in the building. Don’t lose it. If do you lose it, report it to the nearest officer or staff member. The card will no longer be valid after six hours, so watch your time.”

Passing through security into the South Lobby at the One World Trade Center

Collecting Arcon and my paraphernalia, I found the nearest bench. It was a relief to sit down after the harrowing trip through security. I spoke to Arcon in our customary mode of conversation; mental telepathy.

“How did you get through that scanner without your circuitry being detected?”

Arcon answered me in my native Serbian tongue. “I converted my insides into pure energy, and then I went into hibernation mode. I have a variety of energy frequencies to choose from. I used the most effective one for the pass through the scanner.”

“You could have told me beforehand. I was worried they’d find out you weren’t really a Nineteenth Century Art Deco vase.

Arcon made no immediate reply, which was unusual for him. He always had some sort of bouncy rejoinder ready when we spoke.

“I’m sorry. It didn’t occur to me to tell you.”

I was astounded by Arcon’s reply. Was he learning to have feelings in the same way he was learning the colloquialisms of the Serbian and English languages?

Before I could say anything more, the police officer returned. He handed me my ID card and pointed to a bank of elevators twenty yards to my right.

Entering the elevator to take a forty-seven second ride to the observatory.

“Take one of those elevators up to the observatory,” he said. “It’s a forty-seven second non-stop flight to the one hundredth floor.” He smiled at his clever little joke.

I smiled too. On the outside only.

To Be Continued…

Categories
dreams fiction Science Fiction Stories

The Silver Sphere Part 4

If you haven’t been following “The Silver Sphere” or need a refresher, click here for part one and here for part two and here for part three.

A Pulsar From A Distant Star Destroys The Earth

I carried an expensive mahogany bar chair from Jeffrey’s den into the garage. My friend, Jeffrey, has a trust fund that allows him to pursue a career as a freelance photojournalist and writer. I have to admit the man has talent and good taste. And, despite all of our trash talk, Jeffrey has proven he’s a loyal friend with a generous heart. He shares his good fortune with close friends. That’s how this whole thing got started. Jeffrey lent me his posh beach house while he was away in Paris on assignment. One night, while walking on the beach among fingers of salt water waves, and lost in thoughts about endings for my latest mystery novel, I literally stumbled over Arcon.

As I walked back to the house to retrieve Arcon, I came to the conclusion that fate had placed me in this situation. Jeffrey might be writing this story as easily as me. It actually makes more sense for Jeffrey to be writing the story since he writes non-fiction articles instead of fiction novels like me. And, he lives year-round in his stunning, ultra-modern house fronting a lone stretch of Daytona Beach. (Except when he’s not off somewhere on an adventurous assignment).

Luxurious Beach House Den Overlooking The Ocean

I planned to take advantage of my good fortune, if I can call it that. I’d write a screenplay and a novel along with a factual account of my experiences with Arcon. With any luck, I’d be able to crawl back into the good graces of my agent and my publisher. Assuming, of course, Arcon and me and the rest of the world survived the next sixty hours.

I noticed Arcon had remained unusually quiet since the conclusion of our latest mind-boggling discussion in the kitchen. I sensed that my friend from the other side of the Milky Way was gathering his energy to restore my old car for our impending trip to One World Trade Center in New York City. I had read it was the tallest building in the United States, and we were headed to the very top of it. I figured if my interstellar friend had it in him to pull of this off, it would be nothing short of a miracle, even for a super-intelligent fellow like Arcon.

One World Trade Center Building Standing In The Manhattan Skyline

After carefully carrying Arcon from the house to the garage, I placed him comfortably on the bar chair. A few feet away, my decrepit red Mazda Miata waited for whatever might happen next.

From what I casually refer to as an eye in the center of his sleek silver body, Arcon began scanning the car with a beam of pale blue light. Suddenly, the blue light bloomed into a cloud. It engulfed the entire car. Then, frenetic energy forms emerged from the cloud. For a few seconds, I was looking at an abstract light sculpture suspended above the car, until the forms shot off to do their jobs. Each glob of energy serviced a different part inside and outside of the car. Then, the blue energy globs congealed to create a throbbing blue blob surrounding the car.

Three Dimensional Abstract Moving Light Sculpture.

I expected to see my ancient sports car begin to morph into a new version of itself like a movie I had once seen. That’s not what happened. Arcon’s only predictable feature is that he’s always unpredictable. I kept my mouth shut. I knew instinctively that I’d be excoriated if I interrupted.

I heard grinding noises coming from underneath the sheath of blue energy. Then came the screeching sounds of metal moving against metal, almost like the car was screaming in agony because Arcon had forgotten to administer an anesthetic before the operation. After several minutes of nerve-jangling scaping and crunching, the sounds became more subtle and less excruciating. I heard faint crackling noises. It sounded like Arcon was whipping up a huge batch of popcorn in an oven. Finally, I began to detect the pungent odor of paint thinner.

“I think you should leave now,” Arcon said to me telepathically in my native language of Serbian. “The fumes might make you sick.”

I wasn’t used to this kind of concern from Arcon. Maybe he’s starting to warm up to me, I thought.

Silver Sphere with Streamlined Sides and a Hole in the Middle.

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Arcon shot back. “We don’t have time for you to recover from a poisoning episode.”

“Right. I almost forgot. I’m just a means to an end.”

“Not quite. Now, what color would you like the car to be? Keep it conservative. We don’t want to attract attention.”

I settled on something called atomic silver, a glossy dark gray.

“Done. Now, be a good boy and wait in the kitchen. I’ll call you when it’s safe to come back.”

Following Arcon’s instructions, I returned to the kitchen and cracked open another beer. I closed my eyes and thought about the ending of my novel again. The elusive ending finally dawned on me. The detective and the beautiful FBI agent realize they are both too strong-willed to commit to a long-term romantic relationship. To make matters worse, their next cases required them to work undercover in distant locations. Ultimately, they come to a decision: to stay friends and perhaps occasional lovers if their paths cross again.

The thought of unhappy endings generated images of something much worse. I saw the deadly pulsar emerge from a wormhole and slam into Mother Earth. A few hours after the Earth exploded into a blinding fireball, there was nothing left but stardust. All the hopes, all the dreams, all the achievements, all the moments of joy and sorrow, all the beauty and all the ugliness—all gone in a heart-beat. It was not science fiction. It was a reality hurtling towards us–getting closer every second.

A Pulsar From A Distant Star Destroys The Earth

“Come, Joseph,” I heard Arcon say inside my head.

A few minutes later, I stood before a glossy new 2012 MX-5 Mazda Miata. I noticed Arcon had made it a convertible.

“Looks even sportier with the hood added.”

“I thought you might like it,” Arcon replied proudly.

“Is there any chance we can take turns driving to New York?”

“Get real, Joseph. Hurry and pack your things. We’ll only have time for a few cat naps and bathroom breaks on the way. Our window of opportunity is shrinking as we speak.”

Apparently, Arcon was picking up our vernacular with every conversation we had. I did not relish the thought of the journey. I’m sure Arcon didn’t have to read my mind to know this. My expression had to be a dead give-away.

I thought I heard Arcon heave a sigh.

“Don’t just stand there, my boy. It’s time to rock and roll !!!”

To Be Continued…

Categories
fiction humor Stories

The Silver Sphere Part 2

Neutron Star Explosion

I am writing this story at the behest of a super-intelligent synthetic being from a distant star system in our galaxy. If you missed part one, click on “story”.

I’m not entirely sure why I’m writing this, aside from the urgent request, but I feel strongly I’ll have at least an inkling by the time I finish. I’m assuming a cataclysmic event will not intervene to prevent me from finishing. As they say; nothing ventured nothing gained.

My name is Joseph Aleksov. When I first stumbled upon an odd-looking shape on a moonlit beach, it had little patience with me. It called itself Arcon to facilitate communication with my simple human brain. I thought of the thing as a “he,” but Arcon isn’t really a he or she. He’s not even an it. Arcon is pure consciousness of an artificial variety. That’s the best description I can offer. I originally described Arcon’s physical features as follows:

“It was a shiny silver sphere punctuated by streamlined indentations on its sides. It had a hole in the center which, in the moonlight, revealed nothing but bottomless darkness. Hardly an eye, at least not a human one. I couldn’t look at it for too long. It pulsed every few minutes, as if it were breathing at impossible intervals. And then it started flashing.”

Silver Sphere with Streamlined Sides and a Hole in the Middle.

After Arcon convinced me to take him home to my friend’s plush split-level house on Daytona Beach, he finally stopped his painful-to-my-eyes strobing. I was able to look him straight in the eye, man to man, so to speak.

I had driven Arcon to the beach house in the back seat of my decrepit Mazda Miata. Arcon reclined there regally, like the CEO of a large corporation, ignoring my attempts at conversation. Occasionally, he flashed, vibrated, and made annoying electronic clicking sounds. Clearly something was up, but Arcon refused to let me in on the secret.

As we walked up the stone steps to the sculpted front door, I kept an eye peeled for voyeurs. My womanizing friend, Jeffrey, had commissioned a local artist to carve a seductive female nymph into the oaken door panel. Jeffrey’s amorous adventures were the talk of the town. Frustrated husbands in the neighborhood were known to point telescopes at Jeffrey’s door to catch a glimpse of his latest conquest. I shrewdly camouflaged Arcon with the light coat I had been wearing to protect me from the evening chill. I did not want to be caught smuggling a super-intelligent piece of alien hardware into the house.

When we arrived safely inside, I unwrapped Arcon and perched him atop a glass kitchen table. I took a seat opposite him and asked: “Why did you find it necessary to nearly blind me with pencil bolts of lightning shooting out of your eye.”

Arcon replied telepathically in my native Serbian tongue: “I needed to get someone’s attention, and I was thinking about my mission. Then you happened along, and a strategy fell into place.”

“Please let me in on it”

“Are you certain your friend won’t be returning any time soon to reclaim his house?”

“He’ll be in Paris for the next two weeks writing for a fashion magazine.”

Arcon’s silver sides glistened. “Good. Let’s get down to business. And don’t interrupt me unless you have a highly intelligent question to ask.”

I made every effort not to be insulted by Arcon’s cavalier attitude. I had gleaned from our discussions at the beach that the fate of the world was at stake. If that were true, I had to put my petty feelings aside.

“To put it bluntly,” Arcon began, “your world will be destroyed by a pulsar from a neutron star that exploded two hundred and fifty light years away.”

“What?”

Arcon seemed to pause for dramatic effect. “Unless we do something about it. As your people are fond of saying; ‘time marches on.’ In this case, time not only marches, it is taking a shortcut through a wormhole. The pulsar has heretofore been disguised by this wormhole. It will reappear fifty thousand miles beyond the outer reaches of your solar system. Think of it as a traveler walking to Orlando, and then deciding to hop on a supersonic bullet train to save time and shoe leather. By the time the pulsar appears, it will be too late. We have seventy-two hours to save your planet.

I thought: This must be an elaborate ruse my trust fund friend is playing on me. What are the odds of something like this happening?

“Did you come here to share a bottle of twenty-year-old single malt scotch to enjoy what is left of our lives?”

“If I was capable of laughing, I wouldn’t.”

I stared back at Arcon wondering: How can a super sophisticated being like Arcon not be capable of laughter?

“I wasn’t created to laugh. It’s a waste of time and energy. Instead, I’ve used the time remaining to arrive at a solution to your problem. I must warn you that it’s not guaranteed to work. It all depends on you following my instructions perfectly.”

I closed my eyes thinking; Okay, I’ll play along.

“Why me?” I asked with faked timidity.

“You tripped over me.”

I sighed. “You win, great wizard of the universe. Where do we begin?”

Arcon vibrated and made clicking sounds, as if he were annoyed with me. “Stop thinking this is some kind of foolish joke. I’m not a cosmic comedian.”

“Okay. Okay. Don’t get more bent out of shape than you already are. What now?”

“You take me to New York City,” Arcon answered crisply. “To the top floor of the One World Trade Center building.”

(To Be Continued)

Categories
fiction Stories

The Silver Sphere

Man Walking On A Moonlit Beach

It wasn’t a sphere, technically.

I found it on the beach. Right at the water’s edge.

Actually, I didn’t find it. We’ll get to that later.

First things first.

My name is Joseph Aleksov.

Two days ago, I left my comfortable beach house to go out for a stroll in the middle of the night. The full moon and stars were my sole companions. I needed to think about the plot of my latest novel, and I found the salt air always helped.

The night was clear. I splashed my feet in the tips of the tides. I felt the crisp ocean breeze ruffling my longish hair as if it was saying, “Tell me your story.”

Before I could answer, I almost tripped and fell.

A thing about the size of a basketball rocked gently in the water at my feet.

I had the distinct feeling it was looking up at me, even though it had no discernable eyes.

It was a shiny silver sphere punctuated by streamlined indentations on its sides. It had a hole in the center which, in the moonlight, revealed nothing but bottomless darkness. Hardly an eye, at least a human one. I couldn’t look at it for too long. It pulsed every few minutes, as if it were breathing at impossible intervals.

Silver Sphere with Streamlined Sides and a Hole in the Middle.

Light exploded into my eyes when it breathed. After two or three breaths, I had to look away.

I thought; What if the thing is radioactive?

Then it spoke to me. A voice inside my head. In my native tongue: Serbian.

“I am not a thing, or some genus of clap trap concoction humans refer to as a computer. I am a highly evolved organism. You may think of me as Artificial Intelligence. I am much more than an AI, but your mind is incapable of conceiving what I truly am.”

I drew back a few steps thinking, “I must be dreaming.”

“For a man who writes novels, you display little imagination” the thing said.

I felt strangely comfortable speaking to the machine, as if speaking to a telepathic silver sphere was as everyday as munching on macaroni and cheese.

“Do you have a name?” I said out loud.

“Call me Arcon. A-R-C-O-N.”

“Got it. Are you from some far distant solar system?”

“Next you will ask me: Do I come in peace?”

“The thought did cross my mind.”

“The answer is yes and no. I’m not here to hurt anyone, but I’m certain to upset a sizeable subset of the population if news of my mission leaks out.”

“That sounds a bit ominous.”

“It’s more than a bit.”

“Should I be alarmed?”

“It won’t help.”

“I see. And how, may I ask, do you know I’m a writer?”

“Not important.” A terse reply. “We have work to do. Urgently.”

“Since you appear to know everything about me, you must realize I’m way past my deadline. My editor calls to scream at me daily.”

“Not important. Look, Joseph. I’m getting cold and I’m tired of soaking in this sea water.”

“It sounds like you are inviting yourself to go somewhere.”

“I am. I need your assistance. Why don’t you take me home to the fabulous beach house your wealthy friend has so generously lent you. We have much to discuss. Among other tasks, there is a story I want you to write.”

“But I just told you–“

“Never mind that. Pick me up and take me to the beach house. If I miss my deadline, you won’t have to worry about yours.”

To Be Continued…

Categories
Stories

The Storm And The Sea

Night time at sea.

No land in sight.

The ocean is calm. It speaks to the pale moon in glittering reflections that please the silent orb.

A giant freighter laden with shipping containers sails through the reflected light, trudging on its way to ports unknown.

All is well until…

A violent storm arrives, unexpected and unannounced.

The sea is perplexed.

The moon remains silent, unemotional, and mysterious.

The storm spews banshee winds and battering rain.

“How dare you disturb my tranquility,” says the sea to the storm.

“You have no governance over me,” says the storm.

“No governance? I am your Lord and Master. You obey me. I do not tolerate insolence. Be gone, and do not return, unless I ask you to.”

The heavens explode with lightning and raucous thunder.

To the sea, the thunder sounds like haughty peals of laughter.

“Renegade! You flaunt the laws of nature.”

In protest, the sea conjures up twenty foot waves.

The furious waves boil, rise, and crash back down to the surface of the sea.

Looking on, the full moon remains aloof, wrapped in shrouds of gray mist.

A wave jerks the massive freighter upwards at a seventy-degree angle. When the wave rolls on, the ship smashes down as if an Olympic weightlifter had dropped it to the floor, thundering, after a six-hundred-pound overhead lift.

“I’m sorry for your troubles,” the sea says to the freighter. It will take me a while to control this storm. Until then, you will have to abandon your cargo if you want to survive.”

“My hull is impregnable. This puny storm is no match for my sturdy strength. I will shake off this weather like a dog shakes off water after a bath.”

“You will drown if you don’t listen,” the sea answers. “I can’t allow this impudent storm to do as it pleases.”

The freighter deigns not to answer. It lumbers along stubbornly, until it is lifted precipitously by another wave, and battered cruelly by howling gusts of wind and driving rain.

“Arrogance. Idiocy. Rebelliousness. Will it ever end?”

“I am the sea. Ageless. Alive since this planet’s birth. And yet, I must suffer fools, it seems, until the end of time, which may come, alas, much sooner than expected.”

Photo By EliasSch on Pixabay