Quantum Candy — Episode -1

Q-silvercandies-1

 

AceSpadesfinalFrom the corner of his eye, Mathew saw a disheveled, old man, several blocks down, staggering along in his general direction. The bus stop, at this time of night was deserted, so he figured, maybe this is where the old bum passed out after a hard day of drinking. The graffiti defaced bench seat didn’t look all that comfy, but then again, it was under a partially enclosed canopy, which judging by the Logo, was provided by the Good Samaritans Foundation. He looked at his wrist-watch 12:33 a.m.— the bus was already ten minutes late. His late model Honda Civic FT, which he owned prior to the ‘Adjustment’ was in the shop, getting yet another pricey repair. Well, he mused, the car was well worth it considering the junk being sold lately. Only two more days of riding the city bus, to and from work, and he would be back behind the wheel. Even with the price of ITC unleaded at $16.25 per gallon, including the Fair Use Tax, his Ride-Share credits substantially reduced his work related costs, to around .12 cents a mile. Quite the bargain when compared to a straight up Multi-Pass-Transit ticket, even over a week.

His job as a swing shift supervisor, made him a slightly better hour-credit than the average 4th Tier Income class, but it was still pretty tight when extra expenses blew the budget. There were still a whole lot of men, not unlike the bum still heading his way, that simply gave up. No lawful work for single men usually meant living in a crappy, little dive, with no doubt, equally bad smelling, over-nighters, sharing the same beds. He remembered how at first, people were thinking, maybe this austerity plan was going to work, but that was just the bullshit soft-sell to the masses. Every one on a job legally, was paid in IMF North-Union, National-debt notes, so drawn against the world bank fund in your bio-identification name or BIN number. Even those people, not in the lower working classes were furious, they too were going to be paying substantial additional taxes for servicing the national consumer debt liability Fund. The working poor simply realized, having no money to spend on anything, also meant getting on the short bus to the poverty grave. After the big Madrid earthquake, split the country in half, whole sections of the former States collapsed. Radioactive, industrial contaminated water nearly killed more people than all the previous wars put together. The Nation never recovered fully from the devastation.

The old bum was emerging out of the shadows. He looked harmless, thought Mathew, but that wasn’t always the case with some of these old timers. Judging by his ratty, filthy attire this one had been on an extra-long binge. These days anybody getting a BIN guaranteed paycheck, was required to pay the Life Sustenance Tax, which was computed by the work hours so performed, in addition, to the Commerce Value of the job itself. Technically, he made $42.25 an hour.  However, his actual take-home net per hour was around nine bucks and change. The tax Nazi’s at the IETA [International External Tax Authorities] which took over the job from the previous tax communists of the IRS, made no bones about the fact, they were a domestic, monetary spy agency. Their considerable powers included every possibility of financial surveillance, and of course, they had the absolute plenary power of Treaty Law, to scan your retinas, swab your cheeks, test your blood, compel forced evacuation of the bowels [hiding drugs, money etc.] demand a nice cup of hot piss, order a fresh breath-drugs-booze analysis, and or remove by force, the occasional pound of flesh when needed. Essentially, whatever was left of the underground economy had been brutally wiped out. Gangs without cars made easy targets for the international paramilitary forces who not only went after the primaries, but burned down the hoods they came from as well.

Considering, all that had transpired in just a short year and a half,  the actual price of most consumer goods fell considerably. A pack of cheap Asian smokes was down to a dime. However, the f’n tax on each pack was ten bucks minimum. The so called “open market” was more like a pig on a roasting stick. The Added-Value tax, placed on every sliver of its burned flesh was quite steep.  Most working time-value went just to pay the tax, on the tax, of the consumer based lifestyle. The computer driven American way of life took a major hit, but the massive disconnect in income levels between the top tiers and the lower eight, priced most people out of the Hi-tech segment which remained.

Now the conspiracy-theory was that the entire world had been taken over by a rogue, Sentient A.I. Machine, which oddly enough, was also rumored to be sharing “Deep Thoughts” with a former computer baron in its Golden-Neuron pathways. A filthy rich software geek and machine were as one. A Trans-humanism love-story, or a horror whose pages were still being written? Hard to tell. But the real question that remained, was this gated marriage before or after the Death Satellite, went berserk? Whose mind exactly was responsible? Either way, the killing duo raged, for months on end, murdering untold millions of people, treated no better than roaches, from a lofty perch above. None of the new world Order authoritarians, aka ultra-elite billionaires, would comment on that issue, much less acknowledge it was an issue.

No issue— no comment. How convenient that the price of their silence was paid in full with blood.

Even though there was no one around, he knew the Infraguards were always on the lookout for suspicious activity, meaning, anything they could exploit in some way of course, using the Global-CC’s atop the light standards. In truth, everybody knew those black and red wearing Infraguards, did the down and dirty work, at the behest of their super-secret Masters, themselves hiding behind the front-line authorities of the “new and improved” Homeland Intelligence Investigations-Security Services. Another unnecessary, mindless, inept bureaucracy dedicated to the subjugation of the public, with all costs paid by the labors of the people of course.

A one world dictatorship, pretending to be a World Democracy, was quite the con-job on the truth. The propaganda machine ran full tilt, as they always had on the TV screens, but now with a more ominous message, played once an hour as a trans-national ad, “Failure to Comply with all Requirements of the Adjustment, as Imposed and Granted by the Adjudication Treaty, will be punished by the Maximum Penalties, as required by International Law.” He stopped watching televised programming long before doing so became edgy. The national radio stations were bland musically and mostly devoted to state religious hokum. Laying a tax on religious services had the same result as throwing fuel on a inferno. More death and destruction to be heaped on an already suffering public.  People who tried to dodge the Worship Tax were treated more harshly than mass murdering bank robbers. Hiding any form of fungible money, that was taxable, by international law, was a risky venture, which for most ended in lengthy prison time.

For most Americans, under the Union Statutes, even the presumed crime of financial tax avoidance, meant armed IETA-Swat teams oversaw the immediate removal of every last possession, you legally owned, just a minute before. There was no Court hearings anymore, as they were deemed unnecessary, as the people were rendered guilty by law without trial. So, they just swooped into your dwelling, or place of business, with glossy Orders of Reparations and grabbed the assets right out from under your ass. Then you signed a fancy looking update of the 1040 form, under the Doctrine of Voluntary Compliance, which stipulated you agreed to pay your Penalty with Commercial Trade value, meaning all of your “Ad Hoc” consumer goods, and you were done. No prison time just a meaner quality of poverty. All perfectly legal of course, even without the gun barrels and satellite imagers, to keep that compliance silent, but deadly. After all, if you did not agree with the Adjudication Asset Adjustment handed out by the IETA, you too, just might join the dead, as just another tax ‘avoider‘ in a mass grave of deniers, rotting in plain view of the Law. Justice, was dead as a doornail, and revolting against the Order, was not an option given twice. The old bum, now less than half a block distant, judging by the breeze, had indeed been hiding down in the municipal sewer systems.

This old bastard as he approached, smelled so bad Mathew was tempted to walk down to the next corner. He wasn’t without charity, but there was a limit to what he would tolerate from anybody who smelled that rank at ten yards out. The old bum ran a filthy hand across his greasy, dark, matted hair, which still covered most of his head, but oddly enough stuck out in every direction. He had that bulbous, red veined, alcoholic nose, blood-shot brown eyes and that ruddy complexion, all these old boozers acquired, from living out of a bottle. His bushy beard was a horror all to itself.

“I got something you want,” stated the old, bushy-faced boozer through a crusty mouth of rotting, broken teeth.

“And what exactly would that be you filthy old man?” Replied Mathew sarcastically, while wondering just what was this fools game? He was liking him even less by the second. Apparently, there was no soap in the fantasy world this old, foul bum lived in. He watched as the crusty, old bum pulled this grime-covered, over-sized card, out of an inside-pocket of his filthy, ragged, dark-brown coat. He held up the card in the light so Mathew could see its front and back clearly. It looked like an Ace of Spades card, but not of any playing card design Mathew recognized. Then the old bum held it above his head, as if it was some kind of gift from God, or something. The card reflected light quite well.

“This is the most powerful object yet known to mankind…” intoned the old bum, with great pomposity.”It is the means to obtain other-worldly powers… and rewards.” Slyly grinning, he pointed with his filthy right-hand to the beat-up old phone-booth across the street. He stared hard at Mathew and strongly stated, “I can prove it right now. When I am done, you will pay gladly, for what I have to offer.”

Good god, thought Mathew, this guy is a literal, raging f’n lunatic and so he replied, “Yeah, well… you have only until that bus turns the block to prove your special flavor of insanity means a damn thing to me. And if… you pull anything stupid, and I will bounce you hard right to the gutter, in a heart-beat.”

The old man looked Mathew over still grinning like a demented fool… then promptly headed across the street. Mathew watched rather bemused, as the old drunk, still holding up the card in front of him, circled around the older styled booth, which was missing the accordion door. While he watched the utter strangeness play out before him, so he was wondering… what is it about the human condition that drives, what once had to have been a semi-normal adult male, to piss away his life, and become nothing better than another deranged, booze addled, foul smelling fool? Sure times were tough, but for most that was the norm not the exception. What the hell was this old nut still doing out on the streets? He was clearly way past delusional and deep into robust insanity. How the hell did somebody like him even get the supplement cards to remain that pissed drunk for so long? Opiate junkies stayed inside the crash dens, but hard boozers just wandered the hell around doing whatever they wanted.

He glanced back down the street— still no damn bus yet. Maybe the route had drastically changed?

Buses did not drive the same exact route everyday like they did in the old days. The routes were much more flexible to pick up riders, specifically those who purchased the pass-tickets 24 hrs in advance. People still had to be in the route zones, but smaller van styled coaches were also used for those in adjacent areas. Real time GPS coordinate matches were updated through the operation centers and electronically dispatched. The bus he was waiting for normally remained on the other side of the freeway over-pass on 15th Avenue and headed west to the downtown loop. Instead, the bus was routed by the real-time scheduler, to go right on Parkway, which went under the freeway, take the next left on Franklin Drive, and then came down three blocks to this stop where he was waiting. Afterwards, the bus continued down two blocks, took the left on Harding, went back under the freeway turning right on Fallsa Way, which was actually a bit faster time wise than 15th, and headed back to the downtown loop. About eight minutes later, the bus pulled into the main transfer stop at the conjunction of the four primary routes. There he picked up the number five and then it was onto the north freeway and back out to his own neighborhood. He did basically the reverse coming into work as going home.

The old nut had finally stopped circling around and actually entered the booth.  He watched still rather perplexed, as the bum still holding up the odd card, now stood directly in front of the phone box, waving it slightly. The phone might still work, he thought, but not likely. At which point Mathew, much to his great surprise, heard the incoming ring?

Now how the hell was that possible? He thought aloud. None of these older pieces of crap public booths received external personal calls? And how exactly would this old bum even know when a call would come through? He watched curiously, as the old drunk pulled out a rolled up sheet of thick paper out of another pocket of his filthy coat. The old bum was waving him over— the cloud of former stench was just starting to dissipate, but nonetheless, he was intrigued by the oddness of it all. That card looked brighter in appearance for just a moment.

Still no bus as he stepped off the curb and headed cautiously over to the booth across the street.

Mathew, nearly holding his breath, stood at an arms length from the filthy, damn bum. He could also now see that the sheet, the bum was staring at as if in a trance, was some kind of full page ad—- for a pizza joint? The old drunk, who had waited until he was close enough to the booth, reached for the receiver. Mathew had counted nine rings. The bum was holding up the ad sheet, now unrolled, two-inches from his face, with his left, with the card, which glowed slightly.

The old bum picked up and answered,”Hel–lo, this is ugh… the ugh.. Ace of…. Sp–ades uhm Piz–za.. Em-por-e-um. How can… ugh I mean, how may… we help you?” In a quavery tone he continued,”Yes, um, we do have ah… the two, of ugh specials [cough] tonight… well no… I… I have no… I mean of ugh yes, there is no charge [cough, cough] for the ugh um extra top…pin’s.”

Mathew, listening intently while the old codger repeatedly, stumbled over his words, was convinced something was real here, but was so crazy he too, needed to be three-sheets to the wind, like this guy, to know why.  What kind of mutual insanity was he partaking in by merely standing here listening to this horse-shit? Because now, he could hear quite clearly, a very loud, male voice, on the other end of the line screaming, an unmistakable long line of profanities no less, and demanding, over and over again,  to know the name….? Name of what? He was quite tempted to grab away the receiver just out of sheer frustration.  However, the old bum was not looking so confidant, as he had before, in fact, his heavy-bearded, ruddy, filthy face was turning more ashen-white by the second. His hands were also visibly shaking as he lost his place, once again, from the whatever script thingy on the ad sheet he was obviously barely able to read.

Wait, don’t hang up yet!” unexpectedly, cried out the old bum. Who then looked as if something had grabbed him by the throat. His body stiffened unnaturally.

Mathew watched dumbfounded, as the next moments played out in slow motion, as something did indeed come right out of the receiver. He jumped back instinctively, as a diffuse, very light-blue-cloud quickly enveloped the old man, who was clearly in profound pain, as this cloudy something promptly silenced his screaming and blurred him out… and then in a split second the old bastard was gone! The over-sized card and the pizza ad both drifted back down to the pavement, as the receiver slapped hard against the plastic inside panel. Mathew, cautiously stepped back a bit further, but whatever it was that caused the old drunk to suddenly vanish, was having no effect on himself. There was no burned smell either. Whatever, the hell that just happened defied any physics he was aware of personally.

He looked around nervously, his pulse racing and went back out into the street. Still no damn bus.

There was absolutely nobody around and the global cameras atop the light standards, when not in use were unlit. Nobody was watching and no data was being recorded.  As for the old Quik-n-Go mart– in the lot behind the booth—it was boarded up and had been for years.  The only business’s left around here were industrial only and they were on pretty strict energy rationing this time of year. The cleaning crew he supervised serviced the small delivery hub complex, two blocks from the bus stop,  once a week.

Then the damn pay-phone rang again.

Mathew, who had not felt anything akin to real fear in a very long time, felt his heart thumping. The receiver itself was still dangling from the damn box. The ring was quite different, however—more bell like in tone with an odd over-lay. Another distinctive three pulsing rings, just like the first, followed by a pause of two seconds. His gut feeling was to run. But he had learned that fear never provides the best answer just the expedient one. He walked back over to the booth and picked up the over-sized card and the ad sheet off the pavement.

The ad was old—according to the print date on the bottom— from nineteen-forty-seven? The paper itself, while soiled with dirty finger-prints and such, was fine-grained… smooth, no wrinkles despite being rolled up,  and seemingly untearable. The quarter page, day-time color ad photo, was of a Pizza parlor named, “Ace of Spades Pizza Emporium” also featuring a forties style Panel truck. The truck was parked at just the right angle to afford a good view of the mural which covered most of the trucks custom, driver-side, rear panel. The design incorporated an illustrated male figure holding up a wand over a cascading series of pizza pies, largest to smallest, along an arc, to convey the impression, they were ascending out of a series of mountains, each so shaped like a sundae.  Very colorful in effect. In addition, the truck mural had on all side edges, a large Ace-of-Spades, with smaller ones in artful,  scrolled rings of three. A pattern which reminded him of Borromean rings. This edge pattern was also repeated on the pizza Marquee. He also noted that a Name was artfully interwoven into the pattern of the motif design. The name was “HEPHAISTOS,” which he dimly recalled, as the great Olympian, god of fire.

This hi-quality design had to be meaningful in some way, but he was not sure if subjective interpretation of the elaborate visual elements, was a clue to how this worked, or merely window dressing for what actually was purposeful. Either way the photo ad was well detailed, in the manner in which it was staged. The Delivery area, was depicted in the buildings full length front windows [photo right side of the truck] as a large, star shaped area of 19.5 miles. The center of the star contained a smaller image of the figure on the panel truck. The hours of operation were 11 to 11 seven days a week. The corner lamp-post was adorned on top by on over-sized, spherical shaped lamp held up with 4 lions, each facing the cardinal directions as denoted. The cross-street was named Zenith Avenue, which also had the tri-spades motif as part of its design. The over-sized address on the ornate entrance read 1313 Destiny Way.

He flipped the ad page over. On the entire back-side was an elaborate colored image of a sun, moon and nine unspecified stars as part of a science article on time travel, but the actual article print was way too small to read. The deeper oddness was that the nine stars were arranged, with a readable golden scroll text around them, “discrete scale invariance” and “from the infinitesimal to the infinite” plus, the halo topped figure of a woman, between them, holding a tablet with 22.7 so etched.

Across the top left-side of this image was an inset, of the tiny print, using red-colored text and was also quite interesting:

“The inter-dimensional travel of mankind, into other realms of earth-centric realities, remains in the misty corners of the Unilluminated reaches of scientific advancement. The Equations, of the Temporal time-frame States, leave more to the imagination, then to scientific fact. Nonetheless, the Speculation that mankind will some day learn how to harness the Invisible Realms, to bridge his own colorful realty, to lesser Domains, and to those Above, makes us Ponder, what Hidden messages were written into the cycles of the stars themselves. Time-Dilation is the true Key to the Manifold Supreme Universe. Our Society welcomes new members, whom have the fortitude and desire to become the Seekers of new Fortunes.

Now this was some strange stuff! He ignored the fifth ring… instead he read through the additional blue-ink-typed script across the bottom. Only answer with affirmative responses— never reference yourself— never answer any question of who you are, or where you are specifically, in any way—-use any combination of responses to keep the conversation under your control, without undue stress, or emphasis. If the respondent demands anything always answer we can, followed by another menu attribute. Never place the Q-Transduction Card on a television, or next to a radio for long periods of time! When conducted by this method of transmission, hyper-spatial convergence produces novel results in matter-energy propagation and quiescent states. Our members, have discovered this switching of parallel Quantum Resonators, by trial and error, and NO guarantees of safety is expressed, or guaranteed, in the use of the Card or Rewards obtained.  —G. Simmons Ph.D.— Quantagraph Engineering Development Research Specialist

The seventh ring sounded, as he stared at the very unusual Ace of Spades card, which was four by nine in size, and from the feel of the surface, was actually made of some kind of metallic material. The card was heavy and when held at an angle to the source of light, there was a rainbow hue along the edges. On the back of the card was attached an additional clear-plastic-like-material, post-it note.

He cleared off the grime. In small print the note read:

Never say your name, period! All threats are to be ignored! Always answer the questions demanded by calmly stating variations of the ad script. Do not allow the respondent to control the focus of the conversation. The relationship between responses/questions posed determines the Nature of the Reward. The Substance of the Reward is determined in part by Unknown factors dwelling in the depths of the sub-conscience. Take great heed to not allow the conversation to wander as this will cause unexpected and unwanted deviations in the Purity of the Reward. No explanation has been yet found on Why this Reward is Issued in the manner described. Great experimentation was conducted by many tests to determine the correct script protocols. Language is much more than mere syllabic tones alone. Hyper-Spatial/Time-Dilation Communication Cymatics Protocol Team Manager— R. Smith. Ph.D.

Below this entry were some examples of the required responses, written in hand:
“Yes, we do have a special today.”
“The Special does include three side-dishes”
“Yes, we do include cold beverages free with any Special Order.”
“Delivery is Optional and and If so, only in the specified Delivery area.”

Remove this note before using the QT-Card.

So he carefully peeled off the post-it and stuck it to the ad sheet thinking what the hell is a Quantagraph? He then cleared off the grime on the Ace card with his shirt sleeve. Was this card some kind of quantum device? What was clear to him was that—The old bum did not follow the instructions. He placed the QT-card, facing him, atop the phone box. He was holding the ad sheet in his left-hand. As the ninth ring ended he picked up the still dangling receiver, with his right-hand, took a deep breath,  and pushed the blinking call button.

“Ace of Spades Pizza Emporium, how can we help you?” He stated firmly.

Who the f**k is this?” snarled a male voice with an accent quite unrecognizable.

“Yes, we do have a special this evening.”

I want to know, right now, how you obtained this f*****g number!”

“Yes, the special does come with extra toppings.” He replied calmly, while confident this was a different respondent.

“Don’t you f*****g play around with me you c**k-sucking, worthless piece of shit. Tell me your f****g name!!”

“Yes, we also include a variety of garden salads with our daily Special.”

You sorry-ass, ignorant prick of a mothers whore, who the f**k are you?”

“Yes, we also have cold beverages included in the daily Special price.”

F**k you all to hell… you ignorant scumbag. You have no idea what you’re fooling with here you f*****g low life!”

“Yes, we do have speedy home delivery within our primary zone.” He calmly replied, while wondering, was this the hot-line to assholes in Hell or what? At this point Mathew felt a very distinctive electric like tingle in his finger-tips and the line loudly chirped three times. The card glowed visibly and he saw movement in the graphic. Before the unknown male, could start another barrage of cursing him, the line audibly dis-connected. He hung up the receiver.

Mathew stepped back from the phone-box, feeling very relieved. Then the coin return slot opened up? To his utter surprise a novel substance came forth from the slot, under obvious pressure. He watched in amazement as a copious amount of a root-beer-colored, gel like stuff, issued forth from the slot in thick globs. What this was he had no idea… but there was a lot of it…. the globs fell to the floor of the booth and seemed to harden up slightly. He stepped back into the booth. The last glob of the “Reward” sputtered out of the coin return chute right into his out-stretched right-hand.

He stared at the cool, yet weighty stuff—What in the hell!

The substance actually smelled good. Like candy in fact. So this was a reward?

He stepped back out of the booth and looked down the street. Still no bus.

He stood there looking at this stuff in his right-hand. The night was quiet and unremarkable, except for the now missing, and presumed dead, old drunk. How could anything come out of a damn, coin chute except a coin? Of all the crazy ass-shit, he had seen over the years, this was by far, the topping on the cake. The root-beer colored gel/stuff was slowly turning to a more crystal-like quality in appearance both on the booth floor and in his hand. Clear in fact, with bright swirls of lighter browns/whites and sparkling, multicolored specks throughout as he compared them. He looked over to the where the trash was piled up behind the mart. He set the semi-hardened piece of “candy” on top of the larger piece along with the QT-card and ad sheet.

He quickly walked over to the informal trash pile and swiftly rummaged through a few larger bags, until he found a clean donut box, along with a recent paper, both stuffed inside a clean, opaque plastic-bag. He went back over to the booth. He put the box down next to the glob. He then placed the smaller piece, card and ad sheet on top of the plastic bag. He carefully lifted up the semi-crystallized glob of stuff— it seemed to weigh a couple of pounds, roughly as large as a medium-sized, pound-cake —and was not sticky. He turned it over. Clean on the bottom… the sweet smell was quite strong and not familiar. He then placed the blob into the donut box along with the smaller piece. A bit of a bulge at the center of the box as he closed the lid locking the tabs. He tossed the newspaper aside and slipped the donut box into the plastic-bag. He then placed the card and ad into the bag as well. It was not a good fit, as the box stuck out of the top of the bag slightly, but it would suffice.

As he finished he finally heard the familiar sound of the bus coming around the corner and hustled with his unique package back across the street. The bus pulled up to the stop.

Now quite relieved, Mathew boarded the bus and slipped his multi-day pass through the auto-reader. The driver apologized for being late and explained that a major search for a couple of shooting suspects, had stopped all traffic for forty-five minutes. Mathew nodded his acknowledgement and with his package made his way to the back. The few people on the bus were either like him, getting off from work, or were heading into the downtown area, mostly for the over-night shifts. Nobody paid him any attention as he settled into a rear seat, still very concerned, about what had transpired.

Basically, weird shit like this wasn’t supposed to happen to normal people. The rules of physics did not allow for some unknown substance to come out of a damn phone booth return slot. He reached into the bag, slightly lifted up the box lid and took out the smaller piece. He looked at the crystal-gel in his lap quite carefully. There was nothing about it right now that even hinted at how it came into his possession or why. The smell was indeed sweet, but also quite exotic in a way he couldn’t quite place.

The question being was it harmless or something poisonous…?

Is this a case of curiosity kills the cat, like that old bum, or a genuine eureka moment that old boozer was too stupid to figure out?  He had to have known something, but clearly ignored the warnings. The QT-card, if it was indeed some kind of super-advanced quantum device using Cymatics, as a means of obtaining this other form of matter, would indeed be exceptionally valuable. But why did that old bum have such a device at all? Whatever this stuff was it had some weight, so it was dense… maybe quite concentrated? He had a whole lot of questions. However, he figured it was just not a good idea to conduct any experiments, on the way home, while on the damn bus. He put the piece back into the box. The bus made good time back to the transfer station. After, switching to the number five he just kicked back as he pondered— why did that old bum vanish at all?

 

chapter-2Upon, arriving back home he placed the donut box with the larger piece in his fridge and placed the smaller one on the table, along with the card and ad. He then set about making himself something to eat. He placed a couple of veggie-burgers in the micro-wave and sat down at his kitchen table. He picked up the smaller piece of the foreign substance. The first question really was why did the unknown authors of the scripts call this a Reward? A reward for what? He reached over and picked up a blank sheet of note-paper he had by the phone for messages. He wrote down the conversation he had with the unknown vulgar party. Why was the other party so pissed off? How did the Q-Transaction Card initiate action at a distance? A distance not just of miles but of another “dimension” which had what? A similar existence to our own, or something else?  A hyper-spatial relationship? What did that really mean? The swirls were of white bands mixed with dark-to light browns, while the different colored speckles were bright and random through the mix. He put down the crystal and finished making his meal as a multitude of questions swirled through his head with no good answers.

After, sitting back down at the kitchen table, Mathew, continued studying the unique crystal-like substance as he slowly ate his rather bland, double-veggie burger, while washing it down with some decent store bought ice-tea. He glanced at the micro-wave screen clock. It was now one-fifty eight in the morning. He decided to head off to bed.  Maybe by morning that implied decision would make more sense. He picked up the QT-Card, ad sheet, his dialogue note and placed them over on his work desk, next to his rather ancient, notebook-computer. His dad had given him that computer as a HS graduation gift. He really missed his father. He never had a chance to really knew his mom, who tragically perished in relation to the earthquake. He headed down the short hallway into his bed-room.

He was very intrigued by the term “Quantagraph” and wondered if that was something the on-line libraries would red-flag if he searched on the term. Military related scientific secrecy, was just as bad today, as it had been in his father’s youth. Searching for something that was so classified would alert the “sniffer-bots” somebody was ripe for Intel-surveillance. He did not need that kind of trouble period.

However, no sooner had he finished undressing the phone rang. He went back out to the kitchen. The caller ID displayed an unfamiliar number. He picked up really hoping that he would not regret doing so…

Hello?

“Hi Mathew it’s me… sorry to call so late.”

“Charlene? What’s wrong?”

“Bill and I had another really bad fight… long story… the place is totally trashed. So I need a place to stay the night.  I swear, I won’t be any trouble and Bill, well he is in jail, on account of fighting with the Infraguards. I can make us a nice breakfast….”

“No problem…. of course you can. Where are you?”

“I am at the ChanExxon station off the 412-A exit. I can be there in ten minutes.”

“Alright… good. Oh, and just don’t park in that fat-pricks second space in front. Park on the side facing the alley. Nobody will mess with the van. I will meet you.”

“Okay… thanks. I am on my way.”

He put down his old-fashioned cordless back on the cradle. He quickly re-dressed. Charlene was one of the few woman he had known for a really long time. She worked across the street from where he once worked as a floor manager. They both had the same time slot for lunch and liked the same diner. He really missed that old Chucks… damn good food in a nice quiet place with mostly the regulars. He always liked talking to her and she soon became his faithful lunch buddy. She was also married to a then CHP officer named Bill, who had that attitude he was thee bad-ass heading for the Hall-of-Fame of bad-ass. The CHP however was massively over-hauled after the “Adjustment” and became part of the National Highway Service and Control Bureau. Bill like so many others were deranked to merely call service only, which meant very little nowadays.   The Infraguards handled everything under the wretched direction of HII-SS International Corp. owned in full by the ultra-elite.

So in reality, Bill was just another self-centered, egotistical prick with a plastic badge. He cheated on Charlene, on a regular basis and smacked her around whenever he felt she was getting too bitchy. He had tried to stay clear of the deeper drama, as at the time; he had his soon to be ex-wife to deal with on a daily basis, who also, never seemed to be able to keep her life under any kind of rational control. Unbeknown to him, she had become hooked on a new form of meth called “Blue-Tripper” which was not as addictive, as the previous versions of Meth, but just as potent. He hadn’t realized until too late, how deep into the addiction she was hooked, psychologically, more so than physically. Still and yet, she was always bouncing off the dam walls and disappearing for weeks at a time with her equally bat-shit-crazy friends.

Charlene, back then, knew the full story. When Mellisa, took off one day with her nut-buddy Andrea, along with her new lesbian guru, she essentially never came back. Almost a year went by before he learned the whole deal was wrapped around some witless jack-ass, with some serious coin, who had taken the lot of them off to a suburb of Las Vegas, where they started a commune of sorts… well until the hapless schmuck footing the new tax bills finally went broke. By that time Mellisa, actually had initiated the divorce proceedings, and because they had no kids, the marriage was over and done with soon thereafter.  By that time the “Adjustment Event” had occurred and nothing was to be the same. He and Charlene kept in touch, as best as circumstances allowed, over the many years since. He headed out the front door, heading down the walkway and then back around to the side street.

He had only been standing there for a few minutes when he saw the familiar lights of her van coming down the street. That was one of their long running jokes. She had owned her Toyota van for about the same time as he owned his Honda. Both of them had well over four-hundred thousand miles. He was pulling a bit ahead now that she did not need to commute all the way across the valley to her job site. She was down to only a few hours a week until the new building, stalled in receivership, went into new hands. The small van pulled up and parked. Charlene opened up the side door before getting out. She went right into his arms.Their deep affection for each other had been just a slight problem at times— Bill wasn’t exactly just jealous, he used any excuse to do more harm to her, physically or mentally, it really made no difference. The mere mention of his name made him go mental.

“Are you alright?” He asked, hugging her gently and then releasing. He reached into the van and picked up her small over night bag. He could see no visible major bruises or anything. He closed the side-door.

“Yeah, just a bit sore is all.” She replied, leaning on him for support as they began walking.

“He tossed you down the stairs again, didn’t he?” He asked already knowing the answer.

“Yes.. the lazy asshole went ballistic, after I refused to go and get him another pack of smokes. He was drunk by noon, as usual, and forgot, where he had left, the last pack. He spends money, like he is a frick’in millionaire, and yet, when I tell him, I have nothing in the account, he goes ape-shit on me. He knew, we were totally broke until he gets paid… and the way, he has been behaving lately, purposely, pissing off the night-shift Sargent, by hanging out with that stupid whore Elaina… over at that all night Escort-X bar… totally ignoring his field calls, so he can play with her tits all night. He is such an asshole. All he does is rage about how much he hates being married to me.  Yet, when he is sober, he refuses to even discuss, getting a divorce… but I swear Mathew, this time, I am done with him.”

She looked at Mathew sweetly and sounded sincere, but the fact was she had been “trying” to leave him for years. Bill had gained quite a bit of weight since his demotion and was basically, border-line retard when he was drunk and not much better sober. Charlene, had been slightly over-weight, when he first met her, but was much thinner now. He found her to be quite attractive. She kept herself in nice clothes and she always looked good. She was smart and funny, but when it came to Bill, she was like some kind of blow-up doll. She could never see the way out of Bill’s miserable, stupid life. He knew deep inside she felt sorry for Bill, whom she had known since they were both like seven or eight. She was around when Bill lost his mom to cancer. He had only directly met Bill’s dad once at a barbeque… a truly, vicious old prick. Drank whiskey, like it was water, and was combative as all hell. Charlene was terrified of him for a good reason: Bill’s dad was old CIA.

He gently led her up the stairs and into his apartment. He set down her bag in the bathroom so she could get what she needed. He had a fold-out couch which was one of his better trades with another old friend. Damn comfortable actually… he easily set it up for her as she changed in the bathroom. He put a twenty note on the table for the morning. She had spent the night before on two occasions, but that was back in the old days, when their friendship had clear rules: no fooling around, even if she was plastered. It was a tough boundary to keep. She came back into the living room wearing a comfy looking nightgown.

“I really appreciate this Mathew and if I wasn’t still married… ” She was thinking the same as him.

“O.K. good night then.”

She slipped under the covers and he turned out the light and headed off to his room. He had already decided that if she needed to stay longer he had no objections, regardless of intimacy. What he had never put up with was having Bill on his door-step, since it meant trouble. As in getting out the base-ball bat and caving his stupid skull in… kind of trouble.  The problem being the rat bastard had access to any gun he wanted. Quite the advantage when everybody else not in the “Law Enforcement racket” had a hell of  time just getting a single use permit plus ammo. And Bill was the kind of guy that really enjoyed sticking the barrel of a gun, right up into some guys face and threatening to blow their head off. Having undressed once more, he slid under the sheets and turned off the night light. He still had no idea how to explain his wacky late evening surprise, but that could wait.

He fell asleep without effort.

 

 

 

 

 

chapter-3Mathew woke up to the welcomed nice aroma of Charlene’s cooking. He showered and dressed with his usual efficiency as water for many was now more expensive than electricity. He went out into the living room noting she had already folded back up the bed. He went into the kitchen to find her appropriately dressed, for her appointment at the Court Municipal Center, in regards to Bill. She was very flirty which was something else he really liked about her all along.  After, all these many years, they were quite at ease in each others personal zone. He was glad to see her smiling.

“Smells really good in here,” he said sincerely, sitting down. He glanced over at the tube-alert cube wondering why the morning paper had not arrived yet. Despite all the claims newspapers were dead and buried, after the ‘Adjustment’ the internet was so hobbled by the massive security apparatus stuck to its ISP ass, people rightly abandoned it as the costs soared into the strata-sphere and remained there without any explanation. Hemp-paper stock made a significant comeback for multiple market uses, and affordable home-delivered newspapers once again, became quite popular. He knew by local scuttlebutt the local newspaper carrier was having trouble with the Infraguards, who kept pulling his street access license. The boys dad had done something a while back to piss off one of the zone officers and they were taking it out on him. He was a solid carrier and Mathew tipped him every pay period.

“I have to be inside the court-house hearing room at one-o-clock sharp,” said Charlene, finishing the meal preparations. “I am also going to sign off on the dissolution proceedings.” She sweetly glanced his way. “Don’t give me that look… I am totally serious this time.” She finished setting the table, while serving up a nice combination of toast, eggs and hash-browns, with some better quality, veggie-style sausages. “And yes, I spent it all at the corner market… you have very little in the way of meals in that cupboard.” She sat down next to him at the table.

Mathew smiled and nodded in agreement. He really didn’t keep much in the way of food on the premises. He finished another big bite and then told her what he had decided,”You can pretty much stay here as long as necessary…  no conditions. Especially, if Bill, is only going to get another slap, on the wrist.” He was always impressed with her cooking skills, which he knew from many past conversations, Bill simply took for granted.

“Thanks…”She leaned her head over to his shoulder, while adding, “And you’re right. He won’t be in for long.” She sat back up, and rose from her chair, to check on the coffee. “I know you think he is completely retarded, but he can be rather cunning when he needs to be.” She had fixed his coffee, in the auto-brewer, just the way he liked it without missing a beat.

“We will handle that possible situation as need be.” He turned towards her, after she sat back down, looking deep into her eyes. “I care too much for you to let them do anything.” Her impromptu kiss told him she was well past holding back her feelings for him.  The two of them continued flirting with each other as they enjoyed the meal.

“Speaking of other curious things for a moment… I was meaning to ask you, what is this..?” She picked up the piece of the “crystallized candy” he had left on the table. “It sure smells really good, not like root-beer either, but it is really weird looking. Especially, those colorful specks. I also couldn’t help noticing, you have a big-ass, chunk of it, in the donut-box, stashed in the fridge. And judging, by the unusual appearance, I would also say homemade. But I know you too well, Mr. Micro-wave, to presume you made candy. So do tell.”

He let out a big laugh, knowing she was literally right on all accounts.

“Honestly, Charlene, I have no idea what this is…” he turned it over in his hands. “Much less, how it came into my possession. I mean, I know, where I obtained it… but I cannot explain the how... it is really out-there, as in unbelievable. Seriously…” He handed her back the piece. Now she was really looking at him funny so he told her straight out, saying,”I think it came from a parallel dimension…” Her eyes got wider as she turned the piece around in her hands. “Yeah, I know that look too.” She laughed knowing he was right. “Like I said… it really is unbelievable.”

“Well, you never lie to me, or exaggerate anything… ever,” she responded, quite cautiously to his statement. “And you are the most rational man I know, and so, if you say to me, it came from another dimension…. I am inclined to believe you. But, honestly, I have no idea what that even means.” Her blue-eyes twinkled when she smiled at him. “So what exactly do you intend to do with this stuff?” She handed the piece back to him looking very perplexed.

“I don’t know,” he said putting it back on the table, out of the way. “Hell, I really have no idea what to do with it specifically. I just know how it arrived is a real mind-bender.”

“Since when did you become so mysterious?” She replied, sounding rather incredulous, but still smiling.

He just smiled right back at her as she was finished with her meal. She then starting cleaning up, while he had seconds on the hash browns, eventually coming back to his side. He put his hand out and she placed hers atop his own. She came into his lap. He ran his fingers through a strand of her modestly styled, shoulder length, blonde-hair looking into her very, blue-eyes.

“I am still married…” She began, clearly weighing her conflicting emotions, adding,”I really don’t care about that stupid, infidelity penalty, but I am really scared shitless of Bill’s father. Even though, I have no idea where he is right now… he has told me again and again, if I ever divorce Bill, or have an affair with another man, he will hunt me down and kill me, right along side the son-of-bitch I am with… no problem. And the sad fact is I know he is speaking the truth.” Her voice dropped to nearly a hoarse whisper, as she confessed,”I know I should have left him a long time ago, but I am such a coward.”

He caught one of her tears gently with his finger-tip… as she looked back up to him.

“I know….”He replied, holding her gaze,”I mean, I figured it had to be something along those lines, but those two idiots are not exactly calling the shots anymore. It is only a question of resolve. And I will not allow you to be hurt again, period.” She put her arms around him and closed that gap. She knew he wasn’t kidding either. After a long, intense squeeze she seemed to have resolved her will to action.

“O.K. After, I get the court hearing squared away, I will get the rest of what I need out of there today. Speaking of which I need to get going.  The afternoon rates are just plain extortion… eighty-five dollars to park in the main lot and forty-five for the side lot. I can still use my exemption ticket from last night, so long as I re-enter the main gate before noon. ”

He glanced over to the micro-wave. The clock read 11:25.

“The downtown parking racket is quite the money maker,” he quipped, knowing how ruthless the parking tyrants ran the entire downtown area. She gathered up everything she needed back into her purse and they both headed for the door. “That same Council committee is trying to force Bob Gunter, to pay the city for parking his fleet trucks, on his own property. Calling it a zone privilege.”

“They are such money grubbing shits…. what ever happened to our country? Lousy Chinese billionaires own everything by secret proxies and yet they refuse to admit it. Why no ChanExxon is a just a new brand of gas-o-line…” He closed the door behind them. They started down the steps.

“Why of course Chang-Le pop tarts and McZhang… golden arches, are just as American, as apple pie…” jokingly countered Mathew, laughing, as they went down the walkway. He could feel her tension easing considerably as they both laughed at the utter stupidity of it all. She unlocked the door with her key fob. He helped her into the van.

“I have yet another day to wait for my jalopy to be repaired, on account the part is still not here yet, but If need be I can borrow Ted’s truck for a couple of hours. He is with his dad, fixing that three-story office building, out there on Davis Road. He says, the previous occupants really tore it the hell up, and so everything is getting replaced. Nice paying contract for a change. They are saving a butt-load of fuel, by using that new rig of his dad’s, so Teds truck is parked in the mean time.” He closed the door behind her. She then rolled down the window.

“Sadly enough, I really do not have much left after all these years,” she answered. “Bill has busted and broken just about every nice thing we have ever owned. I swear he ruins things on purpose, just to bitch about not having the stuff he thinks he wants. He swears, he just has to be better than the rest of those clowns he hangs around. But it is nice to know something else is available if needed. What time do you go in to work today?” She started up the van.

“I have a short-shift actually. We picked up the contract for the DUPS hub… over on Crescent street, so I need to be there at eight pm with the crew and I will be back out at midnight. Not allot of work really, just a few maintenance necessities on the inside, which our guys will get done, in two and half hours, max. We will then scrub off the graffiti, on a couple of trailers, until mid-night. Not a bad gig, but could pay a bit more. I will leave the key if need be in the slot behind the box, and I will get another key made over at Jerry’s shop. We will get things squared away, I promise.” He leaned inwards to meet her obvious expectation.

Her goodbye kiss told him she was on the level. He stepped away from the van. She did a quick u-turn, waved good-bye and was off down the street.

He just hoped she had no surprises down at the court-house. The law wasn’t exactly operating on normal terms anymore. But if she just blew it off, Bill would wipe the floor with her, and the law would make her liable for all of his debts, if she was found guilty of abandonment. The marriage rules had changed, and as usual, not for the better. Infidelity, was rather costly, especially if the spouse in question, had not already signed off on the marriage formal dissolution papers, with a court notification, to the other spouse. No kids meant no time lag once the court took notice. Sadly, Charlene tried to have a baby early on in her marriage, but she lost the pregnancy to miscarriage. That was one subject he knew that hurt her very easily. Bill never gave a shit.

So with Bill cooling off his heals in a jail cell, even for a night, she had lawful court imposed 72 hour window to file, with an automatic declaration of unfit criminal character, as the cause for the dissolution. Bill had no option of not signing the papers during that period of time. Criminals had severely restricted rights. The court appointed, Counselor of Human Services, would ask Charlene a boatload of questions, about everything basically, and give her a psych-test. So long as she was in the pass zone she would be a free woman.

 

 

 

chapter-4While walking back to the apartment he remembered something. Down in the basement of the old YMCA building was a public phone. A real old one in fact. He quickly went up the stairs and back into the apartment. He went into the kitchen. He picked up the candy like crystal and considered the possibilities. He decided another test was definitely in order. He had a couple of wide-neck, glass jars under the sink. So he got them out. He then went to the hall closet and got out an old gym bag.  He stuck a towel into the bag to cushion the jars, which he added. Then he went to his drunk drawer and found his old digital watch, which ran on light from any source. His wrist-watch was strictly a time teller. He needed to log the time factors if possible. He had a large funnel so he stuck that in the bag as well. He went over to his desk and picked up the QT-card and the ad sheet. He looked at the card carefully, as he held it up to the light noting the refraction along the edges. Where did this thing really come from? Why the Ace of Spades design? He knew the Ace of Spades was superstitiously regarded as the Death card, but it also referred to secrets and mystery. If the ad date was right, was the other meaning intended? Or was he literally dealing with the realms of the dead? Something to consider. He placed the QT-card and the ad sheet into the gym bag. He looked around, trying to think of anything else he might need, and deciding no, headed back out the door. He left his key in the hidden slot just in case, he was delayed for some reason.

When he arrived at the YMCA it was obvious that nobody was around. He went to the rear of the building and entered through one of the public doors. The place was kept up to a minimum and smelled a bit stale. Otherwise, there were stacks of chairs along the walls and folded up tables. The elderly who still came here did so for the heated pool on the other side of the building which had a completely separate entrance. If anybody wanted to use this space it wasn’t expensive to rent out. There just wasn’t much interest. As for kids, they had very little freedom anymore to do much of anything, except attend school, and if they were from a very poor background, a structured work experience class. The entire entertainment sector for teenagers essentially collapsed, after the ‘Adjustment’ hit the nation, due to the financial penalties imposed on anything, absolutely not essential. Most working parents could simply no longer afford the steep taxes levied on all of the electronic toys, so many had grown up with previously, and took for granted.  The tax burden had eased up a bit lately, but the damage had been done. The teenage lifestyle vanished as did anything so confiscated. The “Adjustment” for most was quite brutal.

He went down another flight of stairs to the sub-basement. Sure enough down at the end of the wide-hallway was a genuine relic of the past.  A rotary pay phone. He set down the gym bag and took out the QT-card and ad sheet. He read very carefully once again everything, not that it made any more sense to him. The old bum had circled around the booth with the card, but here that was not possible. He took off his watch and put it in the bag. He took out the digital watch and set the timer.

First, he held the card up with the front facing him. Nothing. So then he tried doing the opposite. Still nothing. He tried simply waving it in front of the phone. No ring, but as he did so he noticed something. As he experimented with the card an effect became more pronounced. He concluded that old, filthy bum really did not understand what he was doing, or why. Maybe, he took the card from somebody else only after watching them? Perhaps, even killing the previous owner of the card without fully grasping any of the deeper aspects. Thus, the old boozer apparently died due to slothful ignorance of the basic rules. He found by moving the card in a steady arc of back and forth motion, while turning the card clock-wise three turns and back two, some kind of force was gripping the card. When he could move the card no longer, the phone rang.

For a split second the card was literally suspended defying gravity. He decided to let the phone ring seven times, for this first experiment. After, the phone began to ring the card felt normal again, so he placed it on top of the phone box. A better connection maybe? He had no idea, but he was trying to find some kind of logical answer, so he was patient. He waited as the fifth ring sounded— each sounding exactly three seconds like before and the same bell tone with the slight over-lay of another tone… or echo? On the ending of the seventh ring he picked up the receiver. Only then did the card glow ever so slightly… there was indeed some kind of movement in the background graphic.

“Ace of Spades Pizza Emporium.”

Who the hell is this?”

“Yes, we do have a very exciting special today.”

Special? What makes you think I want to know about some f*****g special?”

“Yes, we have three very nice side dishes included with our daily Special: garlic bread, garden salad and desert.”

You f*****g moron, I do not want any goddamned special! I want to know how you came by this number?”

“We do indeed offer a nice variety of cold drinks with our daily Special.”

You filthy son-of-bitchstop playing me like I am some kind of mindless  fool!

“Yes, when you order the Special, we deliver your order free in our primary delivery zone.”

F**k you and your goddamned special! Tell me what I want to know right f*****g now! I…”

The line abruptly chirped three times, just like before and disconnected. The QT-card went back to normal. He noted the time at just under eight minutes. He would refine the timing as he experimented more.

What exactly was the obsession with knowing his name? Why not ask about the pizza or the money? He had quickly grabbed up a jar, but it was not needed exactly. What issued from the coin return slot was bright, banana-yellow and more like licorice in consistency.  The long rope of stuff was the width of the coin slot and curled up, so much so, he was able to pile it up without effort. The smell was extraordinary and definitely, not banana… more like some kind of exotic wild-flower perfume found in a really expensive boutique. The “candy” for lack of a better term was cool to his hands and weighty just like the other batch. After a good two minutes it finally stopped. He had at least twenty-five pounds of this stuff. He was going to need a damn wheelbarrow or something. This process of extrusion was really something he thought.

The exotic smell filled the entire hallway.

He was standing there laughing it was so damn crazy. And so he pondered— two “Hyper-Cymatic States” producing a third? But, was it just his side, or was something, going to the other side as well? The script protocols were quite explicit… so maybe it was just not a good idea to try “solving” the other side of the mystery, while in a call. Perhaps, a quality of Tension, between one or more of these “States,” that had to be just right, in order to produce something… or you get zapped like that old bum? All things considered, maybe it was better to just stick to the rules, and not worry about the external details.

He also pondered the nature of this reward business. This batch was quite different from the first. No clue as to why either. He decided to get this stuff back to the apartment. Trying to explain any of this might be a real problem.

He raced back up the stairs. Over in the corner of the largest room he had seen a pile of boxes. It didn’t take long to find one of the right size with some pamphlets still inside. He quickly transferred these to another half-empty box, back across the room he went, and back down the stairs. The ‘substance’ was not the least bit sticky. He gingerly re-wrapped, the long, licorice like ‘substance’ so it would fit neatly inside the box. He closed up the top. He placed the watch, ad sheet and the QT-card back into the bag. He balanced the box on his shoulder, tucked the bag under his other arm, and went back up the stairs. He quickly exited the building, back out the doors, and headed back to his apartment. He did not see anyone, including the paperboy(whom he was still wondering about), along the way. When he reached the top of his steps one of his elderly neighbors waved at him. She was a bit of a nosy-body, but she was also looking for her paper. The apartment building was a two-story style and he was on the second floor. He had a sensor-Newspaper tube next to the mail-station, but she owned the small home adjacent to the apartment, so she usually found her paper right next to the garage door. He set down the box and gym bag and retrieved his key. He opened up the door and slide the box and bag inside.

“Hello Mrs Pernoy. I see your paper has not arrived as well.” He checked the tube just to be sure the battery wasn’t dead.

“No it hasn’t. I called to inquire why the carrier was late, but they said he left this morning at his usual time.”

“He is a very dependable young man as a rule. Which is why I am quite concerned that the Infraguards are interfering with his route.”

“Well if that is the cause, I am going to complain to our neighborhood watch council right away. We have laws in our city.”

He watched her totter off back inside her enclosed porch. If only he had his car he could make a couple of quick passes through the area. The Infraguards liked to hang out at the intersection of the two main thorough fares. Which was about two miles as the crow flies from his street. He knew the kids route took him well over three hours to complete, but he wasn’t sure the order he traveled prior to starting this section specifically. There were quite a few short-cuts a moped rider could take to save time between the different sections. Because the moped was considered a ‘powered cycle’ it was subject to the pass requirements. Another set of stupid rules which were passed to control all traffic into and out of the day-time control zones. During the adjustment period all of these laws were passed to make any non-sanctioned movement illegal. People had no freedom to simply drive around, unless they wanted to be shot. Infraguards used to be police officers until the international controllers, made them their personal bitches. The “International Fraternity of Guardsmen” was born… like a bed full of rats.  He headed back up the stairs, just as the phone rang.

“Hello?” He answered.

“Afternoon Mathew. Gilroy here. Hey, I just got a call just awhile ago. Seems a generator malfunctioned over there at the Sampson storage warehouse. Well, anyway they have a huge mess over there due to their freezers going off-line and they called to ask us if we could get some guys over there to move the remaining frozen stocks into reefers. Then do some light clean-up. I sent Mike over in our shop-truck to pick you up. I know this is really short notice and all, but they are paying us twice the going labor contract rate. Could lead to some other contracts as well, if they like our work.”

“No problem Mr. Levart. I will be ready to go in a few minutes.”

“Good. I really appreciate your excellent work ethic Mathew. Mike will be over at your place shortly. Give me a ring if you encounter any problems, once you and the crew are on the clock.”

“Will do.” He closed the call. His boss was a good guy… a little impatient with the newbies at times, if they didn’t buckle down and put some effort into their work, but he was a fair boss. Mr. Levart, was a sharp businessman, who relied on his supervisors/foremen like himself, to keep the crews on their toes and productive. And right now, the extra BIN notes would mean paying off his shop bill much quicker than expected. He picked up the sweet smelling box and the gym bag bringing them with him into his bedroom. He quickly re-dressed in his all purpose cover-alls. He put back on his wrist-watch.  He was still wondering about the time element in regards to Charlene when he saw Mike headed up the steps. He let him in and then left her a quick note on the table and the two of them went out the door.

He closed the door behind him and stuck the key back into the slot as before. He followed Mike back out to the service truck. This was turning out to be a very busy day.

 

5

 

Qt-Card-1By the time Mathew had returned home, it was close to 12:45 in the morning. Much to his surprise, and relief, Charlene was waiting for him at the bus stop. As they walked the block and a half back to his apartment she told him in detail everything that had happened, once she had arrived for the court hearing. He in turn explained his day once he had been picked up by Mike.  Good thing, he had left the key for her, he was thinking, as he followed her up the stairs into the apartment.

“So this is all you have left?” He asked, looking at the few boxes still stacked, plus her clothes ready to be put away, rather astounded by what she had told him.   “I have plenty of space in the bed-room closet for the rest of your clothes and such.”

“Thanks, I wasn’t sure how you wanted things to be arranged. Like I said, If I had arrived even a few minutes later, everything of mine would have been gone too. The supervisor for the IETA asset collections, was just about to sign off on the paperwork. Luckily for me she was in a good mood and was suspicious enough to call the Asset Collections Duty Clerk. Even after talking to the guy, she let me pull only those boxes which did not have anything to do with Bills so called asset rights. ”

“So Bill lied on the asset disclosure form?” He could tell by the wonderful aroma wafting from the kitchen she had been cooking.

“Oh did he ever.” She looked at Mathew noting his hatred of Bill went deep. “You are no doubt hungry so I made your favorite… with a little extra. Just have seat and I will do the rest.”

“Nice… ” He sat down at the table. Their affections to each other needed no words. Every touch was now quite meaningful. She had spruced his usual bland, double-veggie burger with sliced Jack-cheese, tomatoes, pickles and a sauce she made herself, plus a big plate of homemade fries she had been keeping warm in the oven. “This is fantastic Charlene… ”

“For a man who appreciates it.” She let him enjoy his meal, while she continued putting away the kitchen stuff she managed to save from the asset seizure.

“How much of your pantry stock did they take? I seem to remember you had quite of bit of homemade stuff, that you and Cindy, managed to stock up on.”

“Not much really,” She answered. “When I arrived, most of the house was already cleaned out, packed up and on the truck.”

“That is so damn wrong. There are very strict rules about seizing homemade food-stocks, and personal items, but they get away with it anyway.”

“They are going to claim I was “Hoarding” on the “Ad Hoc” asset list, so they can leach off my provisions. I swear they are nothing, but damn thieves with a stupid, plastic badge.”

“No kidding. And Bill never showed up?”

“No… not for one second. He was out at seven a. m. on a special bail release. His dad is still able to pull major strings. They may have destroyed the CIA on the books, but I swear I think they just moved it completely out-of-sight.”

“I don’t doubt that for a second either. One of Jerry’s older friends knows some pretty interesting things about where some of those guys went after the earthquake, and he swears they were already well prepared for the moving. Underground no less, in who knows what State… secret military bases, or otherwise. They had all the money they needed to do anything.”

“Well, that’s why I am so worried. If George is still pulling the strings he could make major trouble for us.”

“Well, if he does it will be on the dirty-side. Lawfully, you are now separated.”

“Court sanctioned, sealed and signed,” she laughed, giving him a playful squeeze. “However, I barely passed that damn psych test. I swear, that woman, doing my interview, kept throwing out these weird-ass questions… all centered around my inner-most sexual feelings, of course. I told her it was none of her damn business, what I was feeling.”

“Good for you. It isn’t any of their damn business,” he emphasized.

“But, anyway she tripped me up enough, just to get a stronger, anger response, and then tried to say, I was not thinking clearly about my decisions. I told her not to confuse my disgust with her with my anger towards Bill.”

“Shut her up no doubt,” laughed Mathew, in admiration of her spunk. “You are quite brave when you feel confident you are right.”

“Well, maybe just a bit, mostly, I was really annoyed by then. She wrote in her file some “additional notes.” So, I might have to go back in for additional counseling sessions. Which, of course, I will have to pay for.”

“Naturally,” he said, as he nodded in agreement.”They never miss an opportunity to make another bureaucratic buck.”

She eased into his lap. Her breath was sweet, as he kissed her, for making him such a wonderful meal.

“Now we need to talk about that stuff you seem to be collecting,” she said, playing with his hair. Mathew, was partially bald, but only on the very top. His short, dark-brown hair, was slightly going grey at the temples.

“Well, I went over to the old YMCA facility knowing they have an old relic of a payphone down in the sub-basement. There used to be some offices down there for whatever… reason. So in any event, I ran another experiment of sorts and once again that thing worked. Let me up so I can go get that box.”

“I will make us another batch of ice-tea,” said Charlene, letting him up. “And I re-filled all the ice-trays with bottled water.”

“I was meaning to do that, but never had the chance.” He gave her another long kiss.

He headed for the bedroom, picked up the box and the gym bag, quickly walking back out to the kitchen. He took out the QT-card and the ad sheet, from the gym bag, so Charlene, could look at them. He then pulled out of the box the licorice like stuff, setting it on the table and then picked up a knife. He easily sliced off several pieces. He sat back down in his chair looking at the slices. Charlene, who when finished with the ice-tea and filling their glasses came back into his lap.

“Wow, this one smells really good too,” she said, looking over the mass of banana-colored, coiled-stuff. She then studied the piece Mathew, had handed to her, as well. “And look at the pattern inside. This stuff is amazing looking.” She picked up the ad and read the back and then stared at the front color picture, along with the note.”What the hell Mathew? This is the craziest thing I have ever seen. And this QT-card? Quantagraph? I do remember some science class stuff about nano-quantum, q-bit registers somethings, still in the theoretical stages, but from what you are saying, this thing is well beyond anything we publicly, have right now.”

“No doubt way beyond. There are lots of questions here, of which I have no good answers. I also have yet to decide what to think about all of the possibilities, lurking in the background. I just know there is something very major going on here, but it is kinda spooky, the way it is working. I mean, whoever, is on the other side of these calls, they have been royally pissed off. In fact, I haven’t heard that kind of swearing and cursing in awhile. Do you remember that real skinny guy that used to come in and hang around Barbara, when she was on the floor?”

“Yeah, kind of… wasn’t he the real nerdy looking guy?”

“Yeah, that’s him. Well his dad owned the card printing business next to us and he used to run off the dopers and gang bangers, who would make deals in that back section, there next to the trash bins. Hookers too, once in awhile. But that guy could swear in three languages without pause… we would run back out there just to hear him let loose on those guys. He was the heavyweight, swearing champion…” he laughed. “Well anyway, the call respondents seem to be talking English, but I don’t know for sure, if that is true, or simply, how I perceive them. The accents are really different. Both times they seemed to understand what I am saying, but something else is going on here that so far makes no sense. I mean why are they answering a random call?

“I don’t get it either. Why even bother?”

“That’s the mystery to me. I mean, if I had some fancy private-line, and somebody calls me random wise, I might warn them not to call again, but if you see, that the number on the ID screen is unknown, why pick up? That’s the part I don’t get at all. Why pick up?”

“Do you think, that maybe, they have to answer?”

“Sort of like a condition?”

“Well, if they have no choice, but to answer the call, maybe that is what pisses them off, and then they take it out on you.”

“Maybe… but what is even stranger yet, I do not actually dial any number.”

“That is so bizarre. If you don’t… so what is?”

“I have no idea. The only thing that makes any sense is that this QT-Card is exploiting some arcane corner of physics. Almost like a trick of physics… and the Device is tapping into some other hyper-reality to make this trick happen.”

“So you think there are other people like us?”

“Well, maybe not like us exactly, in every respect, but the card has to be connecting to something, or nothing would happen. I was thinking about how the communication grid across our planet, is enormous… very powerful, and it has been operating for a very, long time. Now imagine, another reality like ours, which also has a similar technological grid of sorts, which while technologically different, does essentially the same thing… there is a natural parallel of sorts that perhaps on a quantum physics level is… being used by this device in conducting “Cymatic energy” back into a specific quality of matter.”

“Well, if I am following you correctly, you are referring to a form of vocal Cymatics being transducted…? And the end result is being called a Quantagraph?”

“Well, the propagation of sound waves in a medium induces patterns, but in this case those patterns are producing a corresponding form of matter after some unknown “state” has occurred, which requires these odd as hell calls. ”

“Sort of like an oven, where the oven is a transient-state and the call maybe is how the “stuff” is drawn out of that state. So each result is a Quantagraph, maybe like a recipe, of sorts.”

“A hyper-spatial region, is being accessed, or some how is controllable by the device, which must then also store these Quantagraph’s. Hell, there could be an entire library of them stored in this card, which in turn, may very well be using such nano-computations in conjunction with other devices as well.”

Charlene, was studying the QT-card, carefully, took another sip of her ice-tea. “I just remembered where I have seen this pattern on the back side. There is a gift shop over on Summerset and Greene, just a hole in the wall place, anyway, I saw a book with this pattern on the front-cover, in the display case. Fairly, recent too. I was window shopping for a gift for Sam’s wife, Gabrielle and I so went in to check it out. It was a really interesting little store. I think we should go check it out.” She got up to re-fill their ice-tea glasses.

“That’s a good idea. Maybe, there are some public knowledge connections which will help us figure out the madness in the method.”

“So the bigger question is…?” She asked returning to his lap.

“What does this stuff do?” He was caressing her cheek.

“Exactly. If we eat a piece of this “Reward” what is going to happen to us?” Her gaze was mischievous. “It certainly smells really good and it does look, just like candy in some respects. But, looks can be deceiving.” Her hair was undone and across her shoulders.

“Quite true. And in this case Candy from another state of reality…no less. Or as my science instructor would say, another quantum state of matter, where Consciousness is perceived Reality, but physical reality is the sum of both.” Their kisses were becoming more heated.

“That would make this stuff, ‘Quantum Candy’— which by the way, the scent alone is making me crazy.” Her blouse was nearly unbuttoned.

“Very catchy name too. Do we dare?” He asked, between more kisses as she began undoing his shirt buttons.

“Maybe half a piece at the same time?” She suggested.

“Considering the unknowns here… that might be the best way to start our little experiment.”

“Agreed.”

He took a piece of the bright yellow substance he had already cut and sliced it again in half. He handed Charlene one and took the other. They kissed for a long moment and then each placed the half-piece into their mouths at the same time.

“This is really, really good,” she said, emphasizing how good it felt by how she moved against him.

“Yes, it is… as sweet as any fancy chocolate I can remember from my youth.”

“Exactly… whew… wow… my taste buds are in ecstasy.”

“So are mine. Overwhelming.”

“Mathew…”

“Yes….”

“Let’s go make love right now.”

 

 

 

 

 

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