Quantum Candy — Episode III

9

 Apt.room-2

Well, just because something looks like candy was a not a good reason to treat it as such. What had followed the consumption of the bright-yellow substance, was by any love-making measure off the charts, but sometime around two and half hours later, the world went somewhere else for a while.

Where they went he had no words to explain.

Eventually, a brilliant yellow-sun rose across the horizon and promptly expanded outward too fast for his eyes to follow, or his mind to grasp. The very moment he thought for sure he and Charlene would be turned into blazing pop-cycles, the light liquified. The light which was actually flowing across the landscape in mile-high, undulating tidal-waves, simply swallowed them up whole. The sensation was akin to being under-water, as there was pressure, but he felt no heat, or cold, and no need to breathe. The golden-yellow waves continued onward into the vast distances, eventually going from horizon to horizon. They were nearly lost to each other in these luminous waves of soft orange and amber-yellows, undulating with specific geometries, seemingly without end. The world itself was gone. He felt no sense of Time, or any irrational fear, as he moved along at a leisurely pace, while Charlene was actually able to propel herself in a way he couldn’t quite understand. She went out then came back around to him seemingly without effort.

As they moved along, he soon realized, that merely touching their hands together, took considerable concentration. He had no problem sensing her presence while up close, but when they moved more than, ten feet or so apart, she became very faint, as if the impossible liquid medium of light absorbed her body. The undulating waves of amber geometries became stronger, as they were both pushed along by a new wave front that began in some impossible distance and reached them a moment later. Another massive wave of darker amber arose from deep below them and as it washed out into softer shades of translucent, yellow-oranges, he felt himself snapping back into that tiny space that he was… eyes-wide-open upon the bed.

Charlene was wide awake as well.

What really blew their minds was the still glowing patterns on the bed,walls, floor, ceiling…  in fact every tiny square inch of the rooms many surfaces. Like some kind of impossible after-image of negative into positive, he was thinking still in a state of shock. Two of the closet doors bulged outward as if the sun literally had come to rest upon them, with a pattern all around the sphere itself. While directly above them on the ceiling a spiral of orange and red slowly came to stop.

What was even more shocking was that the two of them were bright, vivid purple.

Charlene jumped out of the bed and ran into the bathroom… promptly shrieking at the sight of herself in the mirror. Mathew continued pondering the impossible geometries, perfectly etched in fine detail, in so many colors. He slowly rose out of bed, following the still glowing lines across the rumpled covers, over the night-stand and onto the walls. He opened the sliding cover, over the window, noting the patterns were very faint over his pictures, but far more pronounced on the bare walls and carpet. There were two aspects of the patterns intermingled, not counting the bulge of the closet doors. He ran his hands along the ultra-fine, etched lines, starting from the closet sun image, back around to the door. He took a quick glance down the hallway and then walked out into the living room. To his relief only the bedroom was effected. The purple color of his skin was already fading, thankfully, and Charlene, no doubt realizing this as well, came back out into the living room in her comfy bathrobe. She brought him his robe as well. She had re-composed herself.

“Sorry about the screaming… I was… just slightly mortified.” She came into his arms.

“Understandable… you did look good however.”

Right... but thanks. So I take it our room was the only one which has been impossibly transformed.”

“Correct… and I have no idea how either. Right now, however, lets get some coffee going.”

“Yeah, that’s a good idea.” She gave him another deep squeeze, before heading off into the kitchen. She began clearing the dishes off the table.”That was one wild ride… whew, but I am so glad we are back to normal.”

“Yeah, me too. I think maybe our skin was glowing from ultra-violet radiation, or something?” He checked the messages on the phone. His car was going to be ready around 5:30 p.m. or so today.

“Weird, but an interesting possibility. Although, I really loved that feeling of total immersion… I was just thinking of where I wanted to go and whoosh… like a jet-ski or something… and yet, I really never went that far from you.”

“I noticed that too. You were really moving along… I felt like I had two left-feet or something.” Mathew set the coiled mass of the banana-yellow, Q-candy back into the box, closing up the lid. The kitchen still smelled quite exceptionally  exotic.

“I suspect you’re far too left-brained, and rational-orientated. However, those beautiful geometries were blazing all around you… you looked spectacular, really, I was like wow… how is he doing that?” She quickly loaded up the auto-brewer and started prepping for the breakfast meal.

“That’s really interesting how we saw each other just a bit differently… to me, you seemed to be one with that entire golden space all around you. Almost like it was an extension of your will or something. As strange as it was I felt no fear at all.”

“Neither did I.. so long as I knew you were right there.” They came back together for a very long kiss. Then Charlene abruptly pulled away with a very funny look on her face.

“What is it?”

“That man approaching,” said, Charlene, looking quite bewildered, “I just felt his mind as clear as day.” She was pointing out the kitchen window, and sure enough a strange man was walking towards the entrance steps. “He is absolutely beside himself with worry. He is that newspaper carrier’s father.”

She was right of course realized Mathew, following her gesture. “Good grief Charlene, I know where that boy is. Tell him I will be out in a minute or so.” He raced back into the bedroom to get dressed while Charlene went and opened the door. He ignored for the moment the great mystery of the bedroom. He listened while the man introduced himself as Morey Stevenson, and that his son’s name, was Ryan. He was softly complaining about how nobody was willing to tell him anything. Fear, as always, was keeping people locked into silence, he thought. Which is the very reason why, those evil pricks, get away with hurting, so many people. He came back out of the room fully dressed, ready to go. Mr. Stevenson, was politely waiting for him, at the door.

“I know exactly where to look for your son, Mr. Stevenson. There is a short lane behind the school, which runs along the creek, very heavy foliage. I think that is where he takes a short-cut when he is heading from 11th over to Bradbury. It is about two and half miles from here.” He turned to Charlene who knew he was right. She handed him her key fob. “I will be back shortly.” He kissed her and went out the door with Morey right behind him going down the steps.

“It will be faster if I drive,” said Mathew, leading him around to where the van was parked.  He doubled pressed the unlock key for both front doors. He started up the van which didn’t need any warm-up time. He pulled away from the curb to do a u-turn and headed to the corner making a right. “I had a gut feeling something was wrong yesterday, but my boss called with a job I just couldn’t ignore. Otherwise, I was going to look around for him. Your son Ryan is a very dependable carrier. I swear I can set my clock to him. He does a great job and I really appreciate his conscientious approach to his work.”

“Thanks. He mentions on a regular basis you are one of the few that always leaves him a tip on the subscriber payment. It’s why I decided to come up to your door. He has a good sense about people, but like me he hates backing down. Anyway, I think all this started, when I got into an argument with an Infraguard, named Rick Morsein, like a year ago at the Search and Rescue training center, where I sometimes help with new recruits. It was stupid, anyway, he tried to grab my arm, like he was going to teach me a lesson about how tough he was, but I trained with the Arizona Guard at nineteen and was in the reserves for well over eleven years. Just about the time of the Madrid earthquake, was when I got out. I had met my current wife and we moved out here to be closer to her parents. Well, my old instincts kicked in and I went off on the guy breaking his nose. I was slapped with a small fine and a warning because of my duty record. Well, that Morsein asshole was transferred over here and at some point must have seen me with my son. I help Ryan out with bulk transfers of the larger weekend papers which I don’t mind. He is real quick with deliveries and he is well organized, so time goes by real quick like and he is done. So recently, about three weeks age, my son told me the Infraguards were hassling him over those ridiculous day-time access permits. So I called that jerks boss and read him the actual ordinance. My son no longer needs a damn day-street pass, as all news-carriers are exempt from restrictions, after six months on the job. Since then the threats have been escalating and Rick is the one my son says is behind the threats. And yesterday, he didn’t come home. My wife and I looked all through the area, but not around the school itself.”

“At one time you could go around the entire school, but after the “Adjustment” and the day-time curfews, a couple of the little connection lanes between the major cross-streets, like this one we coming up to here… as you can see are gated. Now the only way to get to that little back stretch is through the schools rear-parking lot, as we are about to do, and then come out on that back lane. For someone on a bike or a moped, there is a narrow pass-gate which is activated by a pole-switch. Real easy for kids walking, and those on bikes as well.”

Mathew slowed way down as they headed down the narrow rear lane. Sure enough, on the right embankment Morey spotted a busted piece of the tail light. Mathew came to an immediate stop, put on the hand-brake, leaving the engine on. They both jumped out and went down the sloping, but rough embankment, through the thick over-growth along the nearly dry creek. They found Ryan immediately, unconscious, with his papers strewn all around him. His leg was entangled with his moped. The break was bad, but the angle had stopped the blood loss. His helmet was busted from the force of a side-swipe. He was still alive.

“They must have been waiting for him down at the end. There is a wide-turn around hidden by the trees which you can’t see until you get to the end of the lane,” explained Mathew, helping Morey, gently lift his unconscious boys head up and out of the trickle of water. Morey unhooked, a small mobile-service radio from his belt and called in the coordinates to dispatch a Life-flight helicopter, which was stationed at a military hospital. Another dispatch went to the local fire-station.

While Morey, stayed with his barely conscious son, Mathew went back up to the road to ensure the responder teams knew where they were and he moved the van down a few more yards and re-parked. Already he could hear the trucks from the local fire-station, sirens wailing on their way to the school, which was out for the summer. A couple of minutes later the responder MIU’s came down the lane. The teams piled out and began to set up the hand-carried gurney for transport. The helicopter came in a few minutes later and would have to land in the schools large back-lot. The responder teams began quickly clearing a better access path to allow the passage of the loaded gurney to be easier.

Once the responder teams had Ryan back up to the lane, a rear-lift gate was used to secure the gurney. They just backed up the truck down the narrow, tree-lined lane and from there over to the waiting helicopter. There were no hospitals around in this area. The Life-flight helicopter would take him along with his father back to the older, military hospital.

Mathew talked with some of the firehouse guys, for only a few minutes, as they had little to do with any investigation. One thing was certain, nobody liked those Infraguards. As one of the responders quipped.. he wouldn’t piss on one of them to save them from burning. Mathew got back into the van and did a quick u-turn at the end and then went back out the way he came in. He saw a few gawkers here and there, but basically, most people stayed out of sight. He parked the van and went back to the apartment. Charlene was patiently waiting for him, at the table sipping her coffee.

“We both saw that poor boy lying there in the creek bed,” said Charlene, getting up already knowing Mathew was going to nod in agreement.

“We do seem to be linked rather profoundly,”replied Mathew sweeping her back up in his arms. “Looks we are in for another amazing day, you and I.”

“Starting with a yummy breakfast, well nearly lunch now. So sit. I have everything ready to serve.” And so she did.

 

 

chapter-10After a thorough discussion, of the many factors involved he and Charlene had a plan of action. While he gathered up all the necessary supplies and loaded up the van, Charlene went online and found a photographic club which liked taking pictures of phone booth’s, especially the older ones. She made them a map of the locations of the ones which looked to be the most promising. So organized, they headed out the door, eager to see where this adventure, was going to lead next. Their first stop was a phone-booth, which according to the PB-Clubs recent pictures, was still in operating condition and was located, not that far down the road, at the older, city library.

Traffic was light along the freeway, and they made good time on this sunny, Saturday afternoon. Charlene had her fancy phone the “AINexus-Wonder All-In-One model,” which thankfully, she had with her, during her ordeal at the Court-house, and was never subjected to the asset seizure. The model was the latest version, as most such devices allowed service up-grades, with only a modest tax assessment. The corporations which managed to stay in the top-rungs of the communication-media-services, had continued their domination of their respective markets. The next-generation of all these “bundled-devices” were in wide use, but the costs of data and voice usage were quite costly, for anything above the basic, tier-1 service bundles. Charlene, quickly set up a dedicated page with data and photo entries in a more scientific style of category organization. Her former job required very extensive knowledge of the on-line libraries, to up-date Reality records both commercial and government.

“I have everything ready to go. Our date today is of course,  Sat. July 29th, 2037… I have a couple of r-coded entry fields, just in case we need to keep anything photo-wise, or data, in a secure crypt-folder. I have plenty of data-fields to describe the various factors, time, conversations, end-notes, plus description fields for what is extruded from the “Quantagraph” materialization’s. The clip-mic will feed directly into the voice analyzer program, which might be real interesting, considering the weirdness factor of these calls.”

“Sounds good to me. I am still a little worried about the over-all “anomalous” factor, which seems to be working just like “Murphy’s Law” where something always goes wrong when you least expect it… so I feel much safer with you watching my back. And let’s hope nothing major just transpires out of nowhere.” He exited off the freeway and made a left for the under-pass and then straight down to the old library main entrance. “And we are at our first stop.” He parked the van in the side-parking area directly across from where the older Booth was located. He could see there were a few people around, but they were engaged in their own business, and none of them had a clear-line of sight to the Booth interior.

“OK… looks like we are good to go on our next call experiment.” Mathew took one more look at the script and placed it back into the sturdy Hemp-notebook Charlene had organized, for anything else like the ad. She had her phone ready to go and the plastic bags, for what-ever, was going to be extruded. They looked around and casually headed over to the booth. Using the same technique as before he held up the “Ace-induction card” and slowly manipulated it until he could feel the magnetic-like-quality becoming stronger.

“We are almost there…”he said, “and with one more turn, we should be good.”  Charlene was noting carefully in her entry notes, the exact time the card came to a stop. Just like before, the in-coming, call-ring, sounded immediately. Charlene was now recording the rings as well.

“That is a really different ring tone, then anything I have ever heard before,” she commented, while she watched Mathew place the Ace-card atop the phone.

“Almost sounds like a reverb-echo, over the ring tone itself, but I can’t quite place that “buzzy” electronic over-lay. I am going to let it ring nine-times for this experiment.”

“It sounds to me like one of those old style MRI machines…. I had to get a test done before I was married for my lower back, after falling off a horse… there is something very familiar about that last little bit on the third-pulse.”

“Was that the same horse you told me about that was stolen?”

“Yeah, same one. Belonged to mom’s sister actually. The guy who stole it claimed she owed him money for some work he did on her property, specifically the pump-house, but she paid him for what he actually did— not what he never finished. Luckily the neighbors spotted him with the horse and called it in for the animal rights Act violation. That guy was a total idiot. He made a complete fool of himself in the court hearing too, cursing the judge and my aunt almost from the first minute. He of course lost, and was cited for contempt, as well. We are up to seven rings, and now eight…”

“And it is showtime… as of now.” Mathew picked up the receiver, on the ninth ring, and just as before spoke very calmly, “Ace of Spades Pizza Emporium.”

“I beg your pardon,” replied the unidentified female, with a notable irritation, to her tone of voice.

“Yes, we do have a very nice special today, the all meat marvel plus, three side orders, for the same low price.”

“I do not appreciate this intrusion on my private line. Tell me your name?”

“Yes, our side orders do include drinks and dessert.”

Listen to me you ignorant ass, I will not tolerate these childish intrusions of my time, or play any damn games.  I demand to know who you are!

“Yes, we can deliver any order free inside our specified zone.”

YOU, worthless piece of sh**t, I do not want any goddamned service,  I want to know who you f*****g are!!”

“Yes, our side-orders include a wonderful mix of fresh salads, with a choice of dressings.”

You… miserable foul creature, I assure you this little game of yours comes with severe repercussions. Now kindly F**K OFF!!”

Mathew hung up the receiver after the line chirped three times… Charlene quickly hooked her phone to her belt. Just like before— the coin return slot glowed just a bit, and then extruded, a most amazing substance… Charlene whose eyes were as wide as can be, was quick with the first bag, which he took a hold of as well, as this stuff came out with some real pressure.

“OH, my God Mathew…. this is unbelievable… look at how much stuff is coming out!

Which it was— in a streaming flow of brilliant gold-flecked, yet solid colored, bean-shaped particles, with swirling micro-bubbles, of incandescent colors. The hefty-bag was nearly half-way full by the time the flow began to slow up. The weight of the stuff was close to forty-pounds or more, as the last of the “Quantum Candies” sputtered into the hefty-bag.

“I told you this was some mind-bending stuff going on here,” said Mathew taking a quick look around. “OK… let’s get this back to the van. We can check out our “Rewards” in privacy and make some notes.” He picked up the card. They nonchalantly carried the bag between them back to the van. Nobody was paying them any attention. They got back inside and closed the doors.

Charlene opened up the bag taking out a handful of the sweet-smelling many-colored, golden speckled, slightly bean-shaped “candies” with the micro-bubbles of iridescence. She handed him one to study. She unhooked her phone from her belt and made some more voice notes as they both examined the quantum candy reward. She had Mathew hold up several individual examples and photographed them from multiple angles. “These really smell good… but not as you would expect of any candy quality. Something else quite undefinable.”

“Exactly… the look, feel and colors to ordinary candy are quite similar, but the smell is sweet in another way… distinct, but not recognizable.”

“I swear it smells more like exotic flowers, or some kind of mix… citrus maybe… each one is just a bit different, but still has the same top note.”

“Well, I think your nose is way superior to mine in that regard, so let’s go with your aromatic discernment’s as a clue to what these might be or do… which I do not think we should experiment with for the moment.”

“Agreed… way too risky considering what the bedroom looks like now.”

“Instant re-decorating is a phenomenon all to itself. So let us move right along to our next location.” Mathew started up the van and went back out the way they came in heading back to the freeway. “Our next stop is the train depot and hopefully, it is a slow day in that section. Those guys are highly territorial. Jerry had some kind of back-room deal going with an engineer for some truck parts, he got lost in the back area there and those guys came out like a bunch of solder ants or something. He was surrounded in minutes, and he said, they were not even the slightest bit friendly. Luckily the guy he was meeting, noticed all the commotion and so realized what was going on. So we defiantly do not want to go into the wrong area.”

“I have our route in already to go and it looks like the booth is facing the picnic/lunch area on one side and a tiny public park for kids on the other. So we will avoid the main work areas by using one of the side lanes and the parking lot entrance.”

“Sounds good to me.”

After arriving, at the main entrance Charlene guided him to the proper side lane and through the maze of buildings until they reached the parking lot, and from there to the section where the booth was located. On this sunny day, there were people over in the picnic area, plus some kids out in the park playing. Charlene clocked their time at 2:58 p.m. just about  85 degrees. She quickly prepped another two hefty-bags, as Mathew took another look around, especially for the camera’s on the top of the light standards, or any other location, which might have a direct line of sight to the booth. Actually, the booth enclosure was gone and had been replaced by the newer model of the rain-shield style. Mathew saw nothing wrong with the phone itself.

He continued casually looking around, as Charlene pretended to be fishing some coins out of her purse strung over her shoulder-left side. While he saw a few positions of the cameras which might afford the view of the booth, he felt certain the angle was not good enough to see something coming out of the coin return directly. They both were wearing hats and sunglasses, so a camera would not get a clear view of their faces, for retracement software to auto-match easily. The risk wasn’t so much doing anything illegal, as much as getting unwanted attention, from the wrong slime-balls, always looking for something to make trouble from, and clip some coin for themselves, in the process. Him and Charlene once again casually made certain no one was paying them any attention, so he could initiate the call. While she noted the time, at each stage of the initiation process, he continued to hold and turn the card just so as to make the connection work. When he could turn the card no longer Charlene noted that time as well and then for each of the rings. The spacing between them, and the over-all tone was different.

“This ring tone is not like the last one,” said Charlene, looking at the spikes being analyzed by a free program she had looked up on the library listing and added to her custom audio profile settings. “There is a real buzzy tone pulse with very high-frequency peaks. Way above normal hearing range, like above dog audible as well.”

“Now that is real interesting…. considering we have no idea of where we are connecting to physically, or geographically.”

“So you think another planet like ours… or something else?”

“My gut feeling is something else, that is connected back to our reality alright, but not as we might think. OK we are coming up on eleven-rings…” He placed the glowing card atop the phone box, pointing out the movement in the background-graphic which Charlene captured. He picked up the receiver… repeating the same opening line of the script, just as before. Only this time there was no response at all.

He motioned her not to say anything, as they both waited… she continued clicking off the time increments with her digital point-pen… fourteen seconds and counting.

Mathew felt a much stronger tingle in his fingers than before and a male voice finally spoke.

“Who the F***K are YOU?”

“Yes, we do have a very nice special this evening, any three-toppings for one low price.”

“Listen to me carefully, stupid-shit, I know what these calls are all about… sooner or later, we will find you and I guarantee you will be wishing to your lord, you never transponded to any such number, especially mine.”

“Yes, we do have a wide variety of fountain drinks and desert specialties.”

“So this is how you want to play, you little organic dirt-bag, fine… I can play too.”

“Yes, all deliveries are free with any order in our primary delivery zone.” The line was not chirping yet, and the receiver was getting noticeably warmer in his right-hand. The pause was getting to around four seconds. So he tried one more line,”Of course we can accept any form of payment in person, but only authorized bank-card purchases for delivery orders.”

That seemed to be the next needed parameter as he finally heard the three chirps, but this time they didn’t stop. It was Charlene who suddenly had the gut instinct to snatch the card off the top of the phone box. As she did so they both stepped back. She kept the phone recording going, while stuffing the card into a handy slot on her purse. This time the chirps went to a full, staccato-piercing, sound-level— and then the booth just violently twisted on its base like hot taffy.

The phone box was not destroyed, exactly, it was just twisted like a metallic soft-serve, but the coin return nonetheless, issued something… just like a fountain. Out came these one-inch black like beads… which were streaming upwards in an arc.. while still in a chain-necklace like quality extrusion. Charlene, not losing her cool for a second, had the bag open with a flick of her wrist and Mathew grabbed a hold of it— just as the odd chain like extrusion began breaking up into smaller pieces in mid-air. Into the bag however, went the shiny black, odd-shaped one-inch beads, with knobs now visible, as he kept in position to catch the stuff. Only a couple of pieces hit the ground which Charlene picked up as if they were bugs or something.

Mathew looked around nervously, noting some of the kids were now looking at them funny. “We need to get out of here right now.” Charlene was right beside him as they hastily returned to the van. Luckily, their way out was not conducive to any one else so inclined to follow them. Most of the vehicles were parked on the other lots facing the park. The few on their side were in pre-pay parking stalls. He sped back out and they were once again back out on the freeway.

“What happened Mathew? That booth twisted like paper or something?”

“I have no idea. Clearly, there are forces at work here that are unquestionable damn dangerous, but I think there is a real purpose behind not allowing any space, or better yet, pauses in the audio or Cymatic induction phase.”

“Like baking a cake, there cannot be any loud vibrations to the oven, or your cake falls flat… and is ruined.”

“Interesting way of looking at it. I swear though, he was purposely over-loading the line… as if he locked onto the signal origination.”

“Maybe the calls, are being initiated by a third source, like a call center A.I. or something?”

“That would explain a few things actually… especially the surprise to hostility factor. Maybe they were expecting to answer a call only from somebody they know, and instead, hear the first line of the script by an unknown party.”

“Exactly… Oh I am getting a call from so and so, and they pick up just as you are receiving the connection line alert… so time is really an important factor, plus, the Cymatic function of the voice? Is it the words you are speaking or maybe the intention? I mean from all that we have discussed, it is your consciousness that is ultimately being transducted, as we are oddly enough organic “Cymatic Producers” when you get down to the nitty and gritty of it all. So what were you thinking when in that pause of time?”

“I was thinking about a really old series, my Dad raved about that he saw as a kid. I can’t remember the name of it exactly, but it was all about these quantum objects that did these really unique things to reality. Anyway, I was thinking what kind of “object category” would these things fall into if looked at from that perspective. In that old series, my Dad mentioned, that they knew the why, or the how, behind the way these “objects” worked. He simply had no idea how such an event might have happened period. In the show people just figured out what these “objects” did as they removed them from this old motel. I never figured out the rest as I have never seen a copy of that series.”

“So… you think these things are essentially coming from the same exact place?”

“Well, maybe like a place where these “other” people are using it for reasons like that motel, ’cause that is where the “objects” are made.”

“So we are like tapping into the same little set-up, they have all to themselves. The little secret for making these “objects” or “stuff” and that is why they are so pissed-off. Here you are making “stuff” and maybe they have to pay for it too?

“Holy, hell Charlene, maybe that is it… it’s like ordering parts over the phone in a real-time production factory. So, yeah, that might be the underlying reason for the ear-burning swearing. They get the cost and we get the reward.”

“So, what do yo think these things do? Because they do not smell sweet at all. In fact, they seem to be as hard as diamonds, by my sense of touch mind you, and they do not look like anything that belongs in the body period. These little knobby extrusion things, have lots of different color shades, and they have quite a heavy feel to them.” She handed him one to look at while driving.”There are those that seem identical, but the majority are just slightly different, both in color and the arrangements of the knobbies.”

“No sharp edges, or facets, which I think is quite significant. And it is heavy like a ball bearing. I bet if you stuck this under a microscope each of these “knobbies” is made of even smaller “knobbies” just like a fractal.”

“I love fractals. My mom and I had so much fun on her old style computer. She had all of these programs her and my dad bought for each-other, when they were still married, of course. Well one of them made these incredible 3-d fractals, which you could then modify in so many ways it was endless. We made so many pretty images. We lost everything from that period of time, as you know to the fires of 2019. Well, I should say my mom lost everything in her rental house, I was already off to college, but that fire was so bad. She was just one of thousands.”

“Yeah, I remember that one real well. My dad told me one of his old buddies heard straight from the horse’s mouth, that they never disclosed the real reason for the militaries underground storage tanks exploding like they did… he said, they were attacked early in the morning, by some kind of foreign space-based, beam-weapon. Real Star-wars kind of power, and that they lost more lives than they ever admitted to on any public record.”

“No kidding… you never told me that before…”

“I never even thought of it truthfully, until you sparked my memory. I tend to place most memories in the dusty section of my brain, or so my dad told me on many occasions.”

“Now that I can agree with… you are just a bit absent-minded at times, but you never forget the important things.” She leaned over to his side for a moment adding intensity to her point.

“Well, I do believe we are almost to our final spot for today. Coming up next the old “MD Executive” airport.” Mathew took the exit and then another right. “We had in the early days some contracts out here. The new one took all the lucrative business, of course, but this one stayed open for the old timers and the hobbyist’s still playing around with their various flying toys.” Sure enough they could both see that a good number of them were indeed out on the old air-strips and surrounding lanes, but nobody was anywhere near the parking lot where the booth was located. An old snack bar was closed except for Monday through Wednesday. “Must be an old club that meets here or something.”

“Must be,”echoed Charlene getting out to stretch before unloading. She watched as Mathew checked-out the booth.

“Clean as can be camera wise… and hopefully the booth does not get destroyed, this time.”

Mathew, had parked the van, right in the line-of-sight of anyone coming into the parking lot, just in case. The two of them quickly went through their working procedures, to get set up. He went over to the phone, “Interesting, this one is a brand new model, but in the old casing. Still, has a coin return though, in working condition, so it is good to go.” He waited for Charlene, to be in the right position, before, starting through the card procedure. He noted once again, as the card produced just the right magnetic-like-lock, was the tiny movement of the back-ground graphics, as the card glowed slightly.

“Try a shorter ring response this time, just to be different.”

So he did just that picking up on the third ring, and stating the opening line.

“Hello, I can barely hear you…” said a woman with an elderly voice, of a very foreign accent.

Mathew quickly thinking that her question was going to force him to double-the-responses— lip spoke to Charlene what the woman had said, as he raised up the volume slider for the microphone output. “Is the line more clear?”

“Yes, I can hear you better, but I am still confused, as to why you have rung me up?”

“Yes, we do have a personal-pizza special”

“I do not re-call your name, or your reason for knowing my transceiver connection number. I want some answers…”

“Yes, we do have a pan version. Any three toppings of your choice are included in the same low price.”

“Price? What price? I have no reason to want a pan of anything. I am becoming quite annoyed with this conversation and I want this nonsense to cease immediately. Tell me your name right now, or I shall report you to the communication authorities for immediate punishment. I warn you, I am not to be trifled with any longer.”

“Yes, we have a wonderful assortment of fresh salads, garlic bread and desserts to go with your special.”

I will report you… you… filthy animal.”

“Yes, we can deliver to any address in our primary zone for free.”

The phone chirped right on schedule this time and the line disconnected. Charlene, had the bag ready and as the coin slot visibly glowed a stream of a more fluid like extrusion arced through the air under great pressure. Then it expanded. They could really do nothing as the bag swelled outwards. Mathew found it very awkward trying to keep the titanium-white and lime-green stuff going into the bag, as the stuff inside was expanding, but thankfully, not getting heavier. This was volume expansion only, but that too, was a rather tricky problem, as neither one of them could keep the stuff, under real control. It seemed like Styrofoam, or something. It smelled good however, like a sweet, but spicy rum-cake right out of the oven. The hefty bag was nearly splitting at the seams. Charlene tried getting another bag into position only to find it filled even faster and split under the pressure.

As he grabbed up pieces, breaking off, he noticed there was no heat. However, if anything, it was colder than any previous batch. The shear bulk of it was getting out-of-control. Then all of it— suddenly started popping– just like pop-corn. And it went everywhere. Each fat kernel, was about two-inches in size, and the interiors were in pastel, to near metallic bursts of every color. A real rainbow effect. The two off them wasted no time however, as the pieces were just light enough to be blown around by the wind. Charlene grabbed more bags out of the van as Mathew, working as fast as possible, picked up the “quantum candy” in big scoops. Charlene had grabbed a plastic wide-mouth dust-pan and she was able to get really big scoops. So they worked together across the expanse of the smooth concrete. The job was easy enough, but they both worked up a sweat as they finally managed to get all of the “Reward” back into the hefty-bags. All eleven of them were stuffed to the hilt.

“We have quite the haul here,” joked Charlene, wiping her brow. They quickly packed the bags into the van until it too was stuffed tight.

“Hopefully, we get home without any problems— as I have no idea how to explain any of this… period”

“Don’t look at me. I have no idea how we are going to stuff all of this into the apartment. I mean, of course it will all fit inside, but not in the available closet space. We have nowhere to store this much stuff out-of-sight.”

Once back inside Mathew started up the van.”Well, we need to head over to Jerry’s shop to pick up my jalopy. We might be able to off-load some of this stuff there in one of his storage sheds. No questions either. I will just pay some extra on the shop bill, and he won’t say a word otherwise. Hell, when we know something more about this stuff, we might as well start giving it away.”

“Or at least have like a party, or something fun… guess a flavor or something. But, only after we know it is safe to do so. I do not want to be responsible for anyone doing something truly horrible. I mean, we have enough to worry about, just for ourselves.”

“I agree.” As they were back on the freeway, he was also wondering, just how would they might break news like this to their closest friends. Some truths are too crazy even for long friendships to endure.

 

chapter-11After, arriving home with all of the new “Rewards” minus the large bags which Mathew successfully stashed in a storage shed at the shop. Jerry himself, wasn’t even there, just his old buddy Mike, whom Mathew realized, might actually be willing to try anything, just for kicks alone. But, then again, making some guy into a guinea pig, wasn’t a really ethical solution either. Charlene had placed several items of each batch on the table for them to study. She was so enthused by this new adventure he was seeing a side of her, she had buried under years of broken dreams with Bill. She was more vibrant than he had ever seen her before, which assured him they had made the right choices. The question was just how much risk should they take in regards to these quantum substances, which by their unique qualities really did seem like candy. Charlene was entering into her fancy-phone every detail she discerned from how each item looked and smelled. The only odd-ball, by the sweet, smell criteria was of course the black-knobbies, which really had no smell at all and were seemingly diamond hard. He was wondering if this one was a bad sample, or a substance, in an entirely different classification. He then noted that funny look on Charlene’s face again.

“We are about to have company. Look.”

Sure enough a big guy in a suit was heading up the steps. “Put all of these in a bowl and stick it in the fridge. Looks like a round of coffee is in order.” He waited for her to stash the stuff in the fridge before heading over to the door.

“Evening, Mr. Everette, I am Detective Sumner,” he held up his badge, for a moment,”and I am here to speak to you about the incident involving Ryan, the carrier for this area. I just have a few questions I would like to ask you, if you don’t mind being on the record of course.”

“Come on in Detective, we just arrived home and we are about to have some coffee. You are more than welcome to join us.” Mathew led the Detective into the kitchen for a quick introduction. “This is Charlene, our guest Detective Sumner, is investigating what happened to Ryan.” They both took a seat while Charlene took out another mug for the heavy-set Detective to use.

“I won’t be long. I just need to understand how you knew where to find this boy, considering nobody else knew where to look so specifically.”

“Actually, it was a logical deduction. In my line of work I am often, up and out very early in the morning. On more than a few occasions I have seen Ryan on his moped, at the far end of Bradbury, which is where the school-kids go to pass through the gate there leading to that back lane on the way to school. If you were not familiar with the area you would assume he had come down 15th. I also know many of the local youths like to hang out back there getting themselves into trouble, on occasion, so it seemed to me a logical place for him to be if he was missing. Call it a gut hunch that was right.” He watched as the Detective wrote up his statements and as Charlene readied the coffee.

“Milk and sugar Detective?”

“Yes, that would be nice thank you.”

Charlene came around and placed the steaming cups in front of them both.

“Thank you.” Detective Sumner looked at his notes for second,”OK… so you had gut hunch where this boy was possibly located, but if the boy’s father had not come to the door, would you still have made this remarkable leap of logic?” He took a big sip of the coffee smiling at Charlene, who was making busy for the evening meal.

“This boy is so dependable, I literally can set my watch to him, on most mornings. When he did not arrive on time I had a bad feeling something was wrong. However, I was called in for an emergency job, and by the time I was off work, much later that night, it slipped my mind that the situation was not resolved yet. Thankfully, the boy’s father came to the door when he did or that poor, busted up, side-swiped kid would have been laying there even longer.”

“I understand your anger Mr. Everette, and I am no buddy to those bastards stinking up our jurisdiction either, but when I go before a judge, to put my finger on one of them, I have to every fact checked, and double-checked, or the SOB, will just go right back out to do more harm to the community.” The detective continued drinking his coffee.

“I get that Detective, I am just telling you, that the suspected individual, was taking advantage of one of the few places, he knew, he could get away with such an assault, and nobody would see the result, until long after the fact.” Mathew sipped his coffee waiting for the detective who was still making notes.

“Well, I agree with that assessment. This does have all the ear-marks of a premeditated assault.  Just like I said, every little detail has to be sworn in clearly, or that guy, will just sit there smirking beside one of those corporate suits, and we are back to square one. So far we have not found one single witness who will actually go on record prior to the boy heading through the school lot. Only the subscribers who did not receive a paper have said anything of substance time-wise, but they of course cannot be called on to directly substantiate the suspects alleged actions.”

“I understand Detective. Those Infraguards scare the hell out-of-people, just so nobody says nothing.”

“Well, you are quite right about that. People are scared of them for good reason. Well, I do thank you for this wonderful coffee, Charlene. I still have some more foot-work to do before I file on the case charges. If I need anything more can I contact you directly Mr. Everette?”

“Absolutely… here, take one of my work cards…,”he handed the detective one of them,”I only use the mobile when I am working, but my machine here will take any message any time as well.” Mathew walked the Detective back out to the door.

“I don’t think this guy is going to walk away clean on this one… but I also know how the system works and these guys, as you very well know, usually just get a slap to the wrist, and a paid vacation, while their shrinks file more excuses for their rotten behavior. We will talk again soon Mr. Everette, enjoy your evening.”

“Same to you Detective.” Mathew shut the door and went back into the kitchen. Charlene was staring at the fridge.

“I think something has happened. Something really interesting. I poured out some milk from the carton, not a lot mind you, but now it is back to where it was before. So watch this.” Charlene took out the milk jug and filled a large glass. She returned the jug to the fridge and then re-opened the door. The jug was back to the previous amount. She then poured the glass of milk back into the jug filling it to the top. She set it back in. She re-opened the door and filled two glasses right to the top. She put the jug back into the fridge closing the door. She re-opened the door and sure enough a full jug again.

“Now that is something else. Lets try doing the same idea to everything in a closed bottle or container.” Charlene started handing him all of the bottles of stuff he had, not past the expiration date, just things like relish and some olives he had bought on clearance sale that he did not use up right away, plus some newer stuff Charlene had bought to make meals a bit more palatable. She was quick and efficient in her organization of how to get the same results. By her step-wise procedures she had proved beyond any shadow of doubt, this was a phenomenon unlike anything he had ever seen before,  or thought possible. His gut hunch was that the odd-ball knobbies were the culprits and so he began experimenting with anything in his sparse cupboards which fit the criteria. He discovered that anything which had a closed lid, or could be sealed air-tight followed the same remarkable process with just five of the knobbies in an open bowel in the same closed space.

While Charlene continued her wizardly manipulations of any substance she could put in a closed jar, he went and grabbed a can of old pre-clad coins, in his bedroom closet, plus an old-ashtray overflowing with the new ones. He followed the same procedure of putting the coins in a air-tight jar and dumping them out and repeating the closing of the cabinet doors.

“Holy Moses Charlene, I just tripled the amount of coins, new and old. Look every coin is identical, to the previous set.” He took out several of the one and five dollar coins, which while clad, nonetheless, were spendable. He followed the procedure until he had filled the largest glass jar available. “There is now around sixty dollars here… and now every time I dump it out… by the procedure, I am now doubling that amount as well. And after repeating this procedure, we now have several hundred dollars in new clad coins.”

“Well, after, doing the same for what was in the fridge and some of what I had and your own stuff, I have tripled the amount of substances on average, lack of jars, and space is now the only real limit. And I have been testing as I go along, and everything so far, tastes just as it is supposed to be… which means if we buy fresh product and do this little procedure, we will, theoretically speaking, never run out of anything, ever again.” Charlene looked very pleased with herself.

“So each one of these little knobbies, is therefore, worth a fortune, so measured, by the goods which can be replicated instantly.”

“And we have barely begun testing to see what other material goods like soaps, detergents, shampoos, etc.  I mean the list of things we can test is really long, when you think about it.”

“It’s like a factory or something… only the process is unknown. I mean we now know what is possible, but why it is possible..?” He held up one of the heavy knobbies, “There is no doubt a limit, but we are in some deep waters here.”

“The quantum state is still a big mystery of science, or maybe just what they will actually allow to be known. Hell, they might have discovered all this a long time ago and do you think any of those mega-sized corporations would ever tell the public?”

“Hell, no, ” he replied, putting his arms around her. “They would just reap the wind-fall profits and kick-back while the rest of us labor in poverty.”

“Exactly… well anyway I am going to mark everything with a Q-C-number and I will check the results every three days or so, just to be sure we are not being fooled by mere appearances.” Their affections ebbed and flowed without effort and all the extra excitement put quite a charge between them.

“Yeah, that’s a good idea. There is no reason to go off the band-wagon all crazy with good intentions and bad premises.”

“Meanwhile, I have an idea about what to make us for dinner. She pulled away after another kiss. “I just need to go the corner-market for a few things.”

“How much would you like darling… I seem to be rather flush at the moment.” She flashed him a big smile, as he handed her, a big handful of the five dollar coins, which she placed into her purse.

“I won’t be to long.” She turned giving him a nice, dramatic bouncy exit.

While Charlene was off to do some shopping for dinner, Mathew put away the coins, and the other odd and ends they had filled the kitchen table up with in their frenzy of testing. When he was done he went back into the bedroom, briefly looking out the window. He sat down. The covers did seem different, not just due to the wild color scheme, but smooth like silk. He stared at the huge bulging sun on his closet doors wondering how such a transformation was even possible.

He also pondered the logical ramifications of being able to duplicate so many different substances seemingly at will. Practically speaking, such a novelty of transformation, would indeed by extremely helpful, but with a few logical downsides. Considering how income was tracked three ways to Sunday, suddenly spending way more money than could be accounted for would lead to an investigation, or at least a visit from the wonks always on the look-out for anything suspicious.  This meant having too much stuff would be a real problem, if such an opportunity arose for him and Charlene to be investigated. If these clowns confiscated the card or the substances it would be a serious problem untangling the web once it was weaved.

Therefore, it seemed to be quite necessary to ensure such a situation did not arise, which meant they had to be very careful about splurging, or having too much high-end stuff crammed into every nook and cranny of the apartment. They would need a storage space where they could keep anything that might lead to trouble.

Lying to your friends was not a good idea, and as much as he trusted Jerry, he also knew he had a tendency to just throw caution to the wind, when the situation suited him or his wife. But they were his friends and if he was suddenly rolling in the dough, or suddenly eating like some kind of gourmet, or something, they would eventually know something was up.

And then he was right back to square one.

Say too little, was one consequence, and saying too much, was another. He also did not like the idea of his boss getting into any kind of jam due to him, bringing the suits into his business affairs, just checking him out for whatever reason. Having no job, meant government services crawling up your ass, with a micro-scope, to see what it was you were doing, that led to your no longer being gainfully employed. There were no excuses for not paying your share of the “Adjustment taxes” and short, of being a down-trodden old stinking bum, the answer was not in your favor.

Maybe, that too, might explain the old bum. Maybe, he was Joe normal before getting the card and did not plan very well, and thus, became a stinking bum to hide himself from prying eyes. Losing the suits these days was quite the task, so a foul appearance would be one way of beating the system. If one could stand living that way.

Consequences, cause and effect… there was no escaping the natural laws no matter how fancy ones pants may be… or filthy… so he and Charlene, would continue living normally, with a tight check on the out-of-this-world adventures, until they had a better location to utilize. Keep the home safe. They would need to find some other place and that too would require some careful planning.

He headed back out into the living room. He and Charlene still had quite an interesting extra connection going. He knew she was back and so out the door he went to grab up some groceries. A quick glance reminded him she was one smart shopper. Small bottles and amounts of food stocks, mean nothing, when all you need to do is close a door and viola... you never run out.

 

 

 

chapter-12 Another week went by as he and Charlene thoroughly experimented with their new-found discovery of substance replication. What they had come to agree on was a simple solution which satisfied his concerns of suddenly having far more than what his job actually could explain budget wise. Charlene was an expert thrift-store bargain hunter, especially in glass containers used for just about anything. What they had surmised from all of their various tests, was that just a few things in a glass jar was more than enough to keep them well supplied. While he worked his usual schedule she transformed their domicile to the ninth degree of organized simplicity, with her new collection of glassware, filled with just the right amount of whatever they needed, and without giving away the game at hand. She was still having some trouble with Bill, but nothing she couldn’t handle with more forms and signatures. Bill had gambled on her falling apart, only he had no idea she was on a mission, a whole new chapter of her life was already well under way. She found this new exciting challenge to be just the thing to keep her not only busy, but exceptionally productive, in a way she found very much to her liking. Their relationship had eclipsed any previous expectations and was now on that level where they both were enthused about every day and what new possibilities they could tease out of those knobby replicators.

The other substances were far more risky, and they had decided not to gather up any more, until after they had a better understanding, of what they had already collected. He had made arrangements with Jerry to keep anything he needed safely stashed out-of-sight in a large, storage unit tucked in the rear of the shops second lot. He had his own key to the locked gate and nobody was any the wiser. He still had not quite figured out how to get Jerry and his wife on the inside track, but he was sharing all the good stuff Charlene was baking. They both liked her immensely and the following week-end they were invited to another one of Jerry’s, back-yard cook-outs. They had found out any liquid in a closed container was good to go, as far as, replication went. In fact, he was finding any mono-substance organic or in-organic, replicated without issue. The open question was how long was this “knobby-reward” going to work? He weighed the “stuff” out and found he had forty-seven pounds of it… only five pounds, broken down into bowls of five to seven each, were needed, to keep the current replication cycle going. Once they had everything, they were going to be using, in the appropriate glassware, he had thirty-four pounds sitting unused in the storage unit.

They still had no idea what to do with the Styrofoam, pop-corn stuff, the original root-beer crystal stuff, much less the box of banana licorice, which was smelling just as wonderful as ever. Charlene however, was eyeballing those gold-specked beans everyday and she was becoming very tempted.  What was also quite interesting was that the knobbies had no effect on the other substances. A fact they decided had to be due to the substances coming from the same state of undefinable origination. So after coming home from an early morning Saturday, having a fantastic brunch, soon followed by another round of passionate love-making, she was adamant it was time for another test. Having re-dressed into some comfortable clothing, they were both on the bed pondering the substance in question.

“This is the one I really want to try,”said Charlene, holding it out in her right-hand for him to see. “There is something about it that really calls to me. Serious.” Hers was a brilliant sun-gold yellow.

“Interesting… I on the other hand will simply close my eyes for a moment and choose at random, from this jar, thus, providing the counter-point choice factor.” He had picked a solid-bluish bean. They compared them as each was about the same size, and aside from the different main body color, each was strewn with the gold-speckles and the swirling micro-bubbles of iridescent colors.

“Show-time.”

They each placed the bean-shaped “Reward” into their mouths at the same time and swallowed followed by a kiss. A long one. And nothing happened. He picked up his stop-watch he had placed on the night-stand…” If two-minutes and seven seconds, goes by and still nothing of interest happens, we then go to the two hours and seven minutes…”

“Based on the figure holding the tablet?”

“Exactly… they placed all of these clues in that ad for a reason, or perhaps a reminder… who knows.. two minutes have now passed…”

As every second ticked he noted something. It was the sound of clicks. As Charlene stood up she seemed to be moving very slowly, he tried to reach out to her, but suddenly found himself in a crazy rotation. It was as if the room and divided along an impossible axis, as he was being rotated away from her and this room. Only this time there was no light, only a eerie, quality of inky blackness without end, heading his way.

Then it became so dark he could not see his own hand before his face. He finally came to a stop. Suddenly three tremendous thunder-claps, seemingly right over-head, sounded off in succession. And then night turned back to a more subdued quality of daylight under a thick canopy of clouds. Out in the distance was an enormous object–spinning some four-hundred feet or so, off the ground. Lit up like something out of the movies— the light pulsing through it was so strong his shadow seemed more real than himself. The ground was damp and was a very dark-brown, but it wasn’t dirt specifically. More like a spongy material… not quite bouncy, but real close. He got back to his feet. He was standing at the slightly higher-end of a wide u-shaped valley, surrounded in the great distance by steep mountains– there was nothing else here, but that thing pulsing like crazy, and him.

He walked towards it as there was nothing else to do.

He wasn’t afraid… it wasn’t his nature to fear first and act… if it was going to kill him what could he do? Absolutely nothing… he was no threat, but trespassing on some other things turf… might well indeed come with a reprisal. Once again, what could he do to not break a rule when the rule that brought him here was not understood. If that thing was some kind of computer or something… maybe it was here to assist those who came here? It was possible.. so he continued onward at a steady pace. He was quite worried about Charlene.

When he reached the point where he seemed to nearing the exterior, of the main ring, of the lighted area, a very loud and high-pitched series of tones, pretty much drowned out his thoughts. Like a whirlpool of notes, to fast for his mind to distinguish, this wall of sound enveloped him.

He was being moved effortlessly to a different kind of space. His eyes felt buggy for just a moment.

“You are a new Seeker?” Questioned a voice nearly lost in the whirling semi-musical fog.

“Yes… I am seeking answers. I just don’t know the right questions.”

“A wise admission for one who is not yet prepared for such weighty answers. Many come here seeking power and fail. Many more want to know the deepest secrets of existence and yet, cannot grasp that moment has yet to occur. What is age in a timeless realm?  A single moment brought forth all there is and yet none dare to ask to whom the gift served. A single potential expressed to the ultimate heights of resolution, thus sustained in perpetuity, by its singular perfection. The hand of greatness, brought forth, a perfect gift that needs nothing else to sustain its existence. Such an existence becomes a riddle to those that cannot grasp the simplicity of the true purpose: to Sing.”

Mathew had no idea what that even meant. Gathering up his courage he asked,”So who are you?”

“My kind serves the Great One of All, as the Gate-Keepers, between the seen and unseen worlds, the immaterial and Material Realms, of which this place is just a construct. This place does not reflect my existence anymore than your own. To fully understand the truth of the object which transmutes the hidden properties, of the great mysteries in ceaseless motions, you will need to learn many new things. Concepts, which are well beyond the primitive reality of the world from which you came. However, I see great truth in this moment, and that is your reward.”

“What about the woman I was with Charlene? Where is she?”

“The female is in another construct, quite unlike this one. She has chosen a different path than you. If after, she has accomplished her quest, she too, will be released, back to where she came from on your world. That is the price for coming here. There is no changing the rules to escape the choices one makes. Like you, either she perseveres, or she dies.”

The shock of the words hit him like a baseball bat to the gut.

“You have much to learn, if you are to be successful in your Quest, to find those answers, that you claim to seek. That journey begins now.”

Before Mathew cold pose another question he was once again in darkness. Only this time he could see stars emerging as they swept counter-clockwise over-head. When the great mass of stars ceased in their rotations he was at the back of a very long line of robed men. They paid him no attention as they waited to move forward. On his left there was a great wall standing at least twelve feet high and four feet thick. The grey stone was covered in graffiti which seemed Arabic by quality. His own clothes had been replaced by a robe quite similar to the ones of the men ahead of him. As the line slowly move forward more men came in out of the darkness behind him. Not all the languages were the same as he could discern stark differences in the spoken speech. The men eyed each other warily, but there were no confrontations between the groups that had formed. He kept close to the wall as the line was not single file, but rather a free-flowing assembly. None of them spoke to him directly, or made any gestures. And so he moved along until at last he could see the main entrance and the guards who were challenging those seeking entry. As he moved to around twelve yards from the gate he realized they were asking questions, of which the correct answer had to be immediate. Several men had been to slow in response, or perhaps too flippant, and consequently, they were brutally, knocked to the ground. There were many more guards of great size just inside the gate and they were well armed with long-heavy spears, as well as, swords of distinctive design. They knew exactly what they were doing and no man, so yet challenged, had bested one of them, for even a second.

Mathew wondered what he was going to do, as he did not speak the language. As he looked back to the wall he noticed a very odd thing occur. A specific section of writing momentarily blurred and then he could read in English what was written: God is good. When he repeated the phrase to himself it sounded Arabic. He had no time to ponder this as he was now staring up at two of the guards. The one on his right asked him the question and he replied without hesitation the phrase. Both guards gave him a hard look, twice over and then nodded for him to pass.

Thus, he too, went into the city. But what city was this?

Mathew, quite bewildered by it all, and very worried about Charlene, walked along a narrow paved walkway jammed with other early morning travelers of every description. Even worse, he considered, than the busy morning commute, minus the powered vehicles. Here in this city a multitude of carts were being pulled by men and beasts alike. The cross streets  were long and narrow as well. This city was quite large, but in the early twilight of a new day, it was tough to judge more specific details. He just kept walking as a sense kinda told him where to go. The lane he had been following came to a split, where another branch headed up the hill. There were lots of inter-connecting buildings, dwelling and other structures crammed together on either side of the avenue, but he could see up in the distance was a much larger structure with lights. Well, oil lamps from what he had seen so far, was the standard of technology. He intuitively headed up the avenue, passing the hunched over cart-puller’s and other assorted men, with occasionally a shrouded female, just like the Muslims back on earth. He saw no females simply walking alone by themselves.

A good thirty minutes of walking briskly up this latest avenue, later, he finally crested the top of the avenue and sure enough the larger structure was a cafe of sorts. Under the high-roof it was clean, well-lit, and very busy with multiple female servers in nice clothing, moving very quickly as they were serving a wide assortment of men, but some females as well. The diners were enjoying, a rather substantial break-fast, at the long well made tables. There were at least forty of these tables, perhaps, seating well over a hundred people just by a quick sweep count.

Mathew casually, made his way over to one of them, that barely had anyone sitting down just yet, and made himself comfortable. Good workmanship was evident in everything he looked at— be it chairs, tables, lamps etc. A very courteous female server came to the table and asked him what he wanted. The words were understandable, but the funny thing was he was having a tough time translating the speech back into English. As if two-minds were at work. So long as he did not try too hard, to mix those two qualities together, he was able to speak her language and be understood.

He ordered the number three breakfast combo: a big chunk of fresh out-of-the-oven bread, a large bowl of a morning soup, a pitcher of fresh milk, with another side-dish of an egg and meat mixture. The food smelled quite good and the portions were generous. He didn’t wait for long either. The same server brought him his order on a large, clean wooden tray with equally clean silver utensils and side garnishes. When he reached into the front pocket of the robe, he was quite surprised he had the right gold coin to give her. She thanked him courteously and was off to help the next diner.

As he sampled each of the dishes he found that the food was quite good. He had the gut feeling this was going to be a very long day.

 

 

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