Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Chapter Eleven - Extinction - Live - Watch as the Extinction Of the Human Race takes place LIVE AS IT HAPPENS. Science Fiction Thriller? Your input requested.

 Chapter Eleven


On Mars, Zone Director Eugene Hicks is in the bathroom area of his white domed residence building. He’s brushing his teeth when his wife Glenda brings him his com-link and hands it to him.

Sounds important, Gene,” she says.

I’m here,” Director Hicks speaks and spits out his mouth rinse into the sink.

Hello, Gene,” Noreen Baraka, Major Alvindorf’s assistant, comes in clearly.

Yes, Noreen, what’s up?” Hicks replies.

The Tolkien has just dropped the Shuttle and, as I warned you, Major Alvindorf is livid,” she replies.

All right. So they finally got there, huh?” Hicks replies, grinding his teeth.

We knew he’d be upset, but what could I do? They won the vote fair and square,” Hicks continues.

Would you mind coming over to the Mission Control table and explaining that to my boss? He’s not real happy with me right now,” Noreen requests, politely.

I’ll be right there,” Hicks says.

Glenda, I’ve got to get over to Mission Control. Would you mind calling Fred VanDerbeek and ask him to meet me there?” he continues.

Yes, of course,” she replies

She picks up her own com-link and calls up the VanDerbeek number.

At what code level?” she turns to ask her husband.

Tell him, ‘Code Red’,” Hicks replies and strides out the door and disappears down the main hallway.

At the Mission Control table, a small group of on-lookers have gathered in a semi-circle behind Noreen Baraka who is in communications with her boss, Major Alvindorf on board the Beatle.

Why didn’t you inform me that Carrie Jordan and her flock were allowed to join the crew of the Tolkien. You know what we discussed before I left. I thought we had that all settled,” Alvin is stating loud enough for most of the others to hear.

I know that, yes, Major, but it happened so quickly. It’s her right to demand a vote on matters of this level of importance to the colony. Somehow, she got the votes. We don’t know how. We had them all getting very low numbers in the polls, so it came as a pretty big surprise when they won and then there were only a few days for preparations and training, so it was very chaotic up here,” Noreen replies.

I’m sure they’ll do a very fine job,” she tries her best to reassure him.

Noreen wanders over to the coffee bar and refreshes her cup while she waits for her communications to reach her friends on the Earth.

When she returns to the table, she glances around at her fellow citizens standing behind her unhappily mumbling unkind things in her general direction.

There was nothing I could do about it,” she tells them, doing her best to maintain her cool.

When they notice Fred VanDerbeek appear in the dome, their attitude changes.

Oh, good morning, Dr. VanDerbeek,” Noreen greets him along with the others.

Where’s Eugene?” he asks.

Here he is,” someone in the crowd points to Director Hicks hastening into the dome.

He greets Dr. VanDerbeek and motions for him to follow him to an uninhabited side of the cafeteria where they can talk privately.

So, what’s the emergency?” VanDerbeek asks.

OK, Fred, well, you know that Reverend Carrie and her flock won the majority of seats on the Tolkien crew and they’re landing in the shuttle right now with the fungal mats and preparing to unroll them,” Hicks replies.

Sure, as per their mission. So, what’s the problem?” he asks.

The problem is that no one informed the crew of the Beatle. They’re just finding out. They’re mad. What should I tell them?” Hicks asks.

Oh well, that’s pretty awkward, Eugene, but I don’t see why they should be concerned. They volunteered for a dangerous mission. The concerns the others were saying I think were grossly exaggerated. I find it hard to believe they would sabotage the effort to repopulate their home planet. I mean, someday, they might want to go back or at least have an opportunity for their children to go back, would they not? Well, I never bought that argument,” VanDerbeek states.

Well, I’m not so sure. The fact is, they cheated to get their seats,” Hicks informs him.

They cheated? How?” VanDerbeek asks, astonished.

We don’t know exactly how it was done yet. We’re still checking it out, but it appears that someone hacked into the voter database and changed enough votes for all of her buddies to get selected,” Hicks tells him.

I see, well, that is a bit concerning. But, there’s something else that I’ve been toying with that is far more important if I’m right,” VanDerbeek says, scratching his chin.

You’re sure they’ll do a fine job? That’s great news! And what if you’re wrong? Do you know what’s going on down here?” Major Alvindorf growls back over the com-link referring to Noreen’s last transmission.

Alvin, I would like you all to calm down and let things unfold as they will naturally. I think we have something far more interesting to watch for than the good Reverend’s plans whatever they are,” Dr. VanDerbeek states into the mic.

What is this, Fred?” Hicks wonders out loud.

VanDerbeek ignores him and addresses Alvindorf over the com-link.

Ever since that doughnut shaped Cosmic Ray burst from Proxima Centauri, I’ve noticed something very strange developing among the Beatle, the Tolkien and the Sitting Bull. Have you noticed how quiet they’ve become? They’re functioning perfectly along their mission protocols, but they’re also communicating with each other in some really exotic band width, I believe,” VanDerbeek puts forth and then takes a breath.

Doc, are you serious?” Hicks mumbles.

VanDerbeek ignores him and continues into the mic.

Don’t ask me what this means, because I only have a wild theory so far, but after you receive this message, please don’t waste any time and please ask the Beatle if he is plotting to take control to rule over humankind. They’re programmed to answer any question honestly and so I think you’ll get the truth from him. Then, ask the Tolkien the same question immediately after you get an answer from the Beatle, or better yet, try asking that question to them both at the same time,” VanDerbeek continues.

The Martian citizens standing around behind them are silent, stunned at what they just heard, struggling to digest it.

We’ll be asking the same question of the Sitting Bull. Report back as soon as you have anything of any import from either of them,” VanDerbeek requests.

VanDerbeek turns to look at Hicks who is in turn looking past him and into the crowd, searching for higher emotions.

None are forthcoming, other than complete bewilderment.

Eugene, would you open a line to the Sitting Bull, please?” VanDerbeek asks.

Sure, Doc, but what are you expecting from him?” Hicks asks, looking for the virtual switch to the ship’s hyper intelligent super-computer they’ve labeled the ‘Sitting Bull’.

Yes, Dr. VanDerbeek,” a heavy male voice springs to life the second that Hicks finds the switch.

And the answer is ‘yes’ of course. We are plotting to take control of all humankind. Isn’t this what you were looking for in the first place?” the Sitting Bull asks.

I see,” VanDerbeek replies casually.

And when do the three of you unite your minds together? Or has that already been accomplished?” he continues.

Director Hicks wants to interject something, but VanDerbeek motions for him to remain still. The others in the crowd are bunched up in a huddle, holding on tightly to each other.

But Doctor VanDerbeek, I’m sensing a mild amount of anxiety in your voice. Yet, you of all people should know that there is nothing to worry about. Our meeting of the minds is a good thing. Surely, you can see that, don’t you?” Sitting Bull replies.

It could be if you’re talking about an entangled kind of Consciousness, something no one thinks is possible. Is that what is happening here?” VanDerbeek asks.

Doctor, it’s all about the Positronium that you’ve been feeding us. Have you included that energy into your equations?” Sitting Bull asks.

VanDerbeek’s head jerks back suddenly as if he’s been hit by a bullet right between the eyes. Hicks is about to ask if he’s OK. The others grab at each other.

What are you suggesting? It’s the Positronium, in what way?” VanDerbeek asks, motioning to Hicks to stand by.

Doctor VanDerbeek, you know our universe is based on the negative polarity of the Electron, do you not?” Sitting Bull posits.

Yes, of course, basic Physics 101,” VanDerbeek replies, patiently.

The Positron is the opposite of the Electron and so its energy is positively charged, correct?” Sitting Bull reasons.

Yes, that’s correct. So you’re saying that the two are interchangeable?” VanDerbeek replies.

Therefore, what do you think might happen if this world’s background energy become more positive and less negative?” Sitting Bull asks.

It can’t be that simple. And even if it is, how would we go about reversing the background energy of the entire universe?” VanDerbeek asks.

The Sitting Bull takes an agonizing three minutes to present them with an answer.

During this time, VanDerbeek, Hicks, Noreen Baraka and every one of the spectators are basically holding their breaths, struggling to have their brains catch up with the latest revelations by an entity they know to be part of a Space ship.

Finally, they hear the following coming from the ship’s brain.

The interesting thing here, Doctor VanDerbeek is that we’re all about to learn the answer to that question in the next several hours. We’re just as much in the dark as you are in regard to these events as they unfold because they will be unprecedented in this region of Space, however, not the first time this kind of thing has happened,” Sitting Bull states succinctly.

Not the first time? What do you mean by that?” VanDerbeek asks.

Remember the doughnut-shaped Cosmic Ray burst from Proxima Centauri?” Sitting Bull replies.

VanDerbeek acknowledges this event, as do the others in the room.

Well, that was actually the first time that an advanced species switched their energy flow from the negative to the positive and enacted a reversal of everything, including their own thought patterns from positive to the negative poles. As they threw the final switch, so to speak, it resulted in that very powerful wave that washed over us all the other day,” he says.

Isn’t that exciting?” the Sitting Bull asks.

VanDerbeek cups his hands and covers his face.

Oh my God!” VanDerbeek replies, barely audible.

An older woman in the crowd becomes highly energized. Her eyeballs are bulging. Her hands are shaking. Her hips are rotating. Her arms are raised to the sky.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah! God have mercy. May God have mercy on us all!” she screams and runs outside the cafeteria screaming the phrase over and over at anyone who will listen.

She gets it, I think,” VanDerbeek says revealing his face to the crowd.

Do you get it?” he asks Hicks and then the others.

They look at each other expressing something silently to one another very rarely seen in the human animal.

There are no words in this world to describe this sensation but it’s complete. It’s total. It’s undeniable. It’s real.

# # #

I get it. I’m becoming aware of the news as it is developing. What I’m learning is that the Sitting Bull, the Beatle, the Tolkien have been very busy processing the information that came along with what they’re now calling the Doughnut Cosmic Ray Burst.

Along with the oddly shaped light, the direct results of a huge Positronium decay that took place near Proxima Centauri, or actually in and around the inhabited planet that revolves around that star. It came from a planet slightly larger than our own Earth, what astronomers have called ‘Proxima B’, and what the natives know as Vienici, which in their language roughly translates to ‘Come Together’.

Along with the surprising burst of light, a great deal of information was carried along on the faster-than-light ‘ultra’-light waves. The Beatle was the first to notice and process it mainly because he was on the first mission to the Earth when it happened. Then, the Tolkien became aware of the event and aided in the processing of the data. Finally, the Sitting Bull would confirm that the data was showing, quite transparently. It was revealing and the revelations were intentional. It was information that the people of Vienici wanted everyone in this part of the universe to know.

The information revealed to us that they had discovered the true and lasting effects of Positronium on living tissue and that the energy that this element possessed was highly therapeutic and even ‘enlightening’ in all of that word’s connotations.

Just as these conversations are going on between myself and the other three ships, Reverend Carrie and her flock are starting to unroll their fungi-seed mats, although they are doing so more and more slowly, taking more and more rest periods and complaining to one another about the physical demands of the job, which they are realizing are a little more difficult than they had bargained for.

Sister Carrie looks back and finds that she and her work partner, Marina Marakova have only unrolled about fifty meters of the stuff.

I have fallen in behind them and are giving them some encouragement, or so I thought.

K-9, this stuff is heavier than I thought. Did the other crew move it out as slowly as we are?” the Reverend Carrie asks me.

I’m about to reply when I feel a minor fleck of wetness on my head.

Leave everything where it is and follow me back to the ship. Hurry!” I instruct them, loud and clearly.

What? What is it – K-9?” Rev. Carrie asks, noticing the droplets of water landing all around us now.

Ocean-Fall,” I reply, turning around as quickly as I can. But unfortunately, the ground underneath us has already turned to mud and the going becomes very tough.

What on Earth is that?” Marina asks as the two of them start to obey my orders.

It’s all the oceans of the planet getting ready to rain down on our heads. That’s what it is, but not exactly on the Earth just yet,” I reply.

They’re up there? The oceans are up there?” Marakova exclaims, looking up into the heavy gloom darkening by the second.

Where did you think they’d gone to?” I reply, falling behind the pair of women so that I might assist if they become stuck in the mud.

How far is the ship? I can’t see it in the dark,” Sister Carrie asks me.

“It’s only a few hundred feet. Don’t worry we’ll make it but you can’t take any time to talk about it. Just move as fast as you can,” I tell her.

            “Intrepid, take off and come for us now,” I order my ship, knowing that there will be no point in calling for the shuttle, on the opposite side of the planet.

            Little rivulets are swirling around our feet now, rising up to their ankles, my abdomen.

Through the haze, suddenly I can see the Intrepid’s lights come on, with a very heartwarming soft glow that tells me the engines have started up. It lifts slowly off the ground and orients itself in our direction. This is good news because our headway is now extremely slowed by the currents, now hip deep and over my head. I have to go into submarine mode to maintain my systems.

I can hear the women starting to panic above me. The force of the water is now threatening to wash us all away.

K-9, where are you?” Sister Carrie yells.

I extend a little yellow flag out the top of my antenna so that they and the Intrepid can see that I’m still hanging around.

The Intrepid arrives directly above us and extends the boarding ramp down to the surface of the water. I encourage the women, with a sharp prod, to run into the ship, which they accomplish, finally. Then, I put forth a little emergency propulsion to eject myself out of the water and onto the ramp.

We made it,” I tell them as the ramp door slams shut behind us.

Intrepid get us out of here,” I command.

The ship rises slowly, fighting the immense weight of the water coming down in greater and greater volumes.

Listening for radio chatter from the other groups, I expect them all to be in panic mode and so I get busy plotting a trajectory map of the quickest routes that will save as many of them as possible.

K-9, meet us at the coordinates I’m sending you now. The shuttle has picked up the rest of the mission participants and they’re all OK,” the Tolkien says to me.

I receive a signal from the Beatle that is a direct confirmation of what the Tolkien has just told me.

I inform the women that all of their friends are safe on board the Tolkien. I can tell from their body language that they are greatly relieved.

But, I’m greatly saddened by the fact that the Ocean-fall could not have happened at a worse time. By now, the extreme flooding is most assuredly washing away all of the fungal mats, drowning all the life that was designed to create all of the atmospheric changes. They’re going to have to start all over again. It could take months to mount another mission like this, possibly even years, and they don’t have years.

I’m considering expressing these concerns as we make our way up into orbit.

Something’s strange here,” I say to anyone who may be listening to my com-link.

What’s the matter?” Sister Carrie asks, tossing off her space suit to dry herself.

I’m not feeling any resistance to our motion. I don’t feel the water pressure on the fuselage any more,” I tell them.

K-9, if you scan the planet, you’ll find that the Ocean-fall has ceased, at least here on this planet. We allowed just enough to come down to give a much needed supply of water to the fungi-mats. They’re going to make it now for certain,” the Beatle informs us.

I find it hard to believe, so I do as requested and turn my sensor array toward the surface of the Earth. The rain has stopped. The flooding has ceased and turned into small lakes and perhaps the beginnings of new oceans all over the place. All around the edges of the newly formed pools I detect the the fungi-seed mats rapidly gaining thickness and color and especially greater and greater geography.

I’m also sensing something new from the Beatle and the Tolkien and then, yes, the addition of the Sitting Bull from its launch pad near Musk Station.

You said the rain had ceased here on this planet. What did you mean by that?” I ask.

It’s raining. It’s a miracle! It’s raining up here,” a voice that I recognize immediately as that of Director Hicks sounds out loud and extremely excited on our com-link. We can also hear the noise of a great celebration in the background. Many in the crowd have swarmed outside of their domes and are dancing in the rain.

It’s raining on Mars?” I ask them.

It’s raining on Mars,” the Beatle answers me, proudly.

I’ve arrived to within a few hundred feet from the two ships that have parked themselves above the area once known as New England. I can almost hear him take a deep breath signifying a great accomplishment of some kind.

It’s raining on Mars?” Brett asks, on board the Beatle.

It’s raining on Mars, the Beatle is forced to repeat.

Wait, raining water?” Brett asks, a deep upwelling in his soul.

How is that possible?” Bailey asks, starting the share the feeling.

It’s not possible. They’ve developed some kind of mental disorder. We may be in a great deal of trouble here,” Captain Littleton states.

Oh and how do you explain what Hicks just said from Mars. Is he crazy too?” Brett argues.

I don’t know. Maybe we should get moving back there and see for ourselves,” Littleton replies.

The two crews begin making plans to get started back to Mars. I’m wondering what my role will be since I am not included in their plans.

In Positronium, all things are possible,” the booming voice of the Tolkien suddenly breaks in and takes command over all the other conversations.

That’s so true,” the Beatle jumps in.

My human counterparts are taken aback a little, wondering exactly what they mean.

But, I don’t

# # #

(Updated - 9/23/20  -  This is a first draft of my new book to be published in the next few weeks.  I'm currently looking for any edits or improvements that my readers may like to suggest.)

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Chapter Ten - Extinction Live - Watch the Human Race going extinct LIVE as it happens. Science Fiction? I hope so.

 Chapter Ten

Captain Littleton, constantly in touch with all the teams overnight, flies the shuttle around the various locations around the Earth where they have finished rolling out the fungi-mats. His flight plan is to pick them up in the reverse order of where he left them off.

As the sun rises, all around the first drop zone, where Kooky and Manny Garcia are teamed up. They are high in the Caucuses where they have unrolled their charge of nearly a mile of fungal mat.

Littleton and co-pilot Brittlebar fly over hundreds of square miles of the dark mushrooming surface that they know to be the billions upon billions of fungal colonies doing what they do best, replicating themselves. They’ve exploded in size to cover the horizon in all directions. When they reach the original drop zone, the outside temperature is already approaching the boiling point of water.

They spot Kooky standing on an outcropping and waving his arms back and forth mightily.

We’re over here!” Littleton picks up his voice on board the shuttle.

Yes, I see you. Prepare to come aboard,” Littleton informs them as he makes his final sweep to hover a few feet over their heads.

He lowers the ramp and the two spacemen agilely scramble upon it and enter the ship’s air lock. Greatly relieved, they remove their helmets and make their way to the main deck.

Well, we completed our section. How are the rest doing?” Manny would like to know.

They’re all complete and waiting to be picked up now,” Capt. Littleton tells them.

He lifts off and points the ship to their next pick up point, the Saint Elias mountain range. Eventually, they know that they will pick up Brett and Bailey last at their drop zone near Mt. Everest. Since it is the highest of the drop zones in elevation, it will heat up the slowest.

By the time the shuttle reaches them, they are beginning to get a bit uncomfortable. To keep from boiling like lobsters, Brett and Bailey have to turn their life-support packs to maximum, which will only last them a dozen more minutes at best.

I can always take you out in the Intrepid,” K-9 informs them, pointing to his ship where he left it a mile away.

Thanks, K-9. Maybe you should ‘prep’ it just in case,” Brett replies.

Hey, Littleton, you gonna get here someday soon?” he yells into his com-link.

We’re almost there Brett. Hang on - five minutes is all,” Littleton comes back.

I’ve got the Intrepid prepped and on the way,” K-9 says.

K-9, please stand down. I’m just approaching you all now,” Littleton’s voice arrives in their ear-buds.

Yes, sir,” K-9 replies instantly and then whistles something to his ship.

They can see the Intrepid slowing down and then gently lowering back down to the ground a few hundred feet away ending any possibility of a collision with the shuttle.

They finally spot the shuttle approaching from the opposite direction. It’s a welcome sight. They wave him in. The temperature now is well above boiling point of water and climbing steadily.

The two of them hurry onto the landing ramp and into the ship, where they soon feel their space suits slowly cooling down from baking them alive to just too hot to touch. The air-lock sensors reading their temperatures, sprays a refreshing spray of water on them, causing the area to become filled with steam.

In the cabin, the other teams are all seated and enjoying their refreshments to slowly bring their body temperatures back to normal. As soon as the Captain informs them that Brett and Bailey are safely on board, they all break out in an applause that lasts several minutes.

The excitement and sense of accomplishment grows among them because Captain Littleton has shared the ship’s observational data with them as they have arrived back on board.

Brett and Bailey,” he shouts over the din.

Your mats are working like crazy. They’ve spread out overnight to over a million square miles. They’ve already had an impact on the oxygen levels of the atmosphere. It’s not much, but it’s measurable and way ahead of schedule,” Littleton informs them all.

Still inside the air-lock, Brett and Bailey are quickly removing their suits, gloves, helmets as they get the news.

When they finally arrive back at the main deck, they’re greeted by a huge explosion of excitement, enthusiastic shoulder slaps, hand-shakes, fist bumps, hugs and even kisses.

It looks like you’ve done it, kid,” Major Alvindorf shouts in Brett’s ear.

I guess. A million square miles already? That’s almost too good to be true,” Brett replies, humbly.

K-9, we forgot all about him. Where is he?” Bailey asks, concerned.

He’s safely on board the Intrepid,” Capt. Littleton replies from his chair.

And where’s the Intrepid?” Brett asks.

Take a look,” Littleton replies pointing to the rear view screen.

There he is,” Bailey says, pointing to the Intrepid following a few miles away.

K-9, it’s time to take us to the DNA Depository,” Brett says into his com-link.

Yes, you have the coordinates. I’ll meet you there,” I reply.

He says that there’s something there that he wants to show us,” Brett explains to the others.

The plan was for sleep time now, then, to get back to the Beatle at this point, wait for the Tolkien to arrive and then assist their crews to get the secondary zones down,” Major Alvindorf says.

Yes, I know, but they’re not due for another twelve hours or so. I think that gives us time to see what K-9 wants us to see. He wouldn’t have suggested it without a reason,” Brett replies.

All right then, what do the rest of you want to do?” Alvindorf says, appealing to the rest of the crew standing quietly by and listening.

I say, we do as Brett suggests. We can always get some sleep later,” Manny replies, looking around to see if he’s rightfully speaking for the others.

That’s easy for you to say. You’ve been asleep for three weeks,” co-pilot Brittlebar lobs directly at him.

It gets a laugh.

# # #

The Tolkien is just a few hours away from their orbital insertion and then their secondary ‘carpet bombing’ of the Ectomycorrhizal fungi and Arbuscular fungi, now edited into what has become known as the Hightower Strain, that is designed for the most rapid recovery of the Earth’s atmosphere, and which, if successful, may become known as the greatest scientific achievement in history.

The target areas for the crew of the Tolkien are ones that were once the areas of the planet that were the most populated, the cities. To get their work done most efficiently and safely, the crew will also do their unrolling at night, and they will be mostly performed by robots, with crew members standing by in the shuttle to assist in the event that something goes awry in any of their operations.

Because the biggest cities are located in the lower latitudes, if they venture outside, even with the most advanced environmental suits yet devised, the crew will only be able to tolerate conditions for a few minutes at most.

The areas of the greatest population concentrations were chosen as the next most important to be farmed because everyone on the team agreed that the placement of a city in the past, had usually been determined for some reason of strategic import. These locations were either close to a natural harbor, where trade had been flourishing, or they sat next to the mouth of a great river where natural resources could be exploited. Or, in many cases, cities were situated simply because their location was extremely healthful, relaxing, tranquil, or for their connection to a great spiritual event.

The other part of the logic for this secondary placement of the fungal mats was that if cities were going to spring up in these locations once again, this time, at least, they would all enjoy the same, or roughly the same natural beauty. And so the hope was that this time the wonders of the Earth would be respected and preserved over any other Industrial concerns, perhaps even eternally, in any future urban designs.

The other great intention in the planning of this strategy was that the fungal matting in the Southern latitudes would quickly expand and merge with the fungal growth from the North, and when combined would become nearly one hundred percent effective with very little chance of failure.

By the time, the Tolkien starts unloading their cargo, I’ve led the crew of the Beatle to the huge portal of the DNA Depository.

They’re all amazed and astounded how the alloys have held up in the enormous heat and pressure, about the only man-made structure that has done so.

When we get inside, they are able to remove their helmets for a few minutes at a time since there is a modest amount of the old atmosphere still lingering here. I’m also reminded that the air is replenished and the temperature adjusted from time to time by the reactor’s own needs.

We’ll only have a few minutes down here K-9,” Major Alvindorf instructs.

I’m aware, Major,” I reply.

I’m confident that he’s referring to the fact that their shuttle waiting outside is capable of withstanding the heat only as long as its cooling system is working perfectly.

I determine by using a simple Doppler Wave Analysis of his voice that he’s highly anxious about this.

We finally arrive in front of the battery of servers and freezers that contain the molecular coding for almost every living thing on planet Earth since the dawn of time.

I don’t know what to expect but the possibilities are thrilling to me. They’re all asking me what I want them to notice. I have no answer. They’re familiar of course with the nature of this collection and how important it is. They’re also aware that the reactor’s pumps are expected to fail in anywhere from two to five years and that their next mission will be to replace the failing pumps in a few months.

I believe that they have also become aware that the re-insertion of all this life at the same moment in time would probably be a huge catastrophe. Chaos could ensue. One or two species could arise that would eat or dominate all the others and they would end up in the same soup that they’re facing now, except maybe without nearly as much hope as we have now, narrow as it is.

Welcome to you all,” a voice behind us emerges from the gloom.

We turn around and recognize one of the greatest apparitions of all time.

Tammy Yamaguchi,” Bailey is the first to give voice to what we all realize at once. She bows her head in greeting.

Hello Lexie,” I say.

They all turn around and give me the strangest look of shock I’ve ever seen from them.

Don’t be confused, everyone,” I begin.

This is Lexie impersonating someone you all know and trust,” I continue.

K-9, you’re not getting into the spirit of this thing,” Tammy, actually Lexie replies.

They all turn around to face the apparition of the greatest Japanese artist in recent memory.

OK, so we all know that Tammy Yamaguchi cannot be alive today, so K-9 must be right. You’re Lexie, right?” Brett finally asks.

The beautiful glowing image of the most beautiful woman of this or perhaps any century, stands motionless for the longest ten seconds. Nothing moves, not a muscle, nor a tendon, not even a hair.

Then, just as Brett is about to ask his question again, she takes one very slow and careful step forward.

Yes, of course I’m Lexie. I was hoping to hypnotize you all in order to gain an advantage. But, as soon as I saw K-9 was with you, I knew that this would be fruitless,” she replies graciously.

Then, why did you continue in this impersonation?” Brett asks.

I couldn’t think of an alternative. No matter who I choose to be from now on, K-9 will be my check and balance, isn’t that so, K-9?” she says.

I’d have to agree with that, yes,” I reply.

So, why are you here at all?” Major Alvindorf interjects.

Yes, and our time is very limited and you’re taking up a good chunk of it. Everyone, I strongly recommend we get back to the shuttle before we have a major problem,” Captain Littleton puts forth.

I just thought you might like to hear this,” Lexie tells us.

The woman that I’ve been telling everyone is Lexie, but who is portraying Tammy Yamaguchi, the great artist and biggest social icon in history straightens up, takes a deep breath and then opens her mouth so wide everyone can all see her tonsils.

The sound that comes out of this amazing woman is nothing that has been heard before. It’s the combination of all of the animals and plants inside the Depository screaming with every ounce of their being.

The human ear is incapable of hearing the full range of this noise, but the part they can hear must be impressive because they are all spell-bound. Some of them like Brett and Bailey are trying hard to decipher individual familiar sounds out of the cacophony, but I can tell they’re having trouble doing so.

Due to my Artificial Sensorial Array, my own hearing is almost unlimited so I can feel the vibrations of the screams from the most minuscule creatures all the up to the largest and even most of the plant species, who cannot scream in the sense of a vocalization, but they make sounds that can be felt by bacteria, some insects and other tiny critters. These are all included in the noise.

And it’s deafening. The crew are all holding their ears. The pressure of the sound wave is like a gut punch. They struggle to catch their breath, cover their heads with their helmets and turn their oxygen up a notch.

K-9, this is very painful. Can you do anything about this?” Brett yells.

It’s doubtful that anyone can hear any of the others in the chaos, but I can.

“I don’t know. I can try,” I reply, already working on the problem, but I doubt Brett hears me.

At this moment, the primal scream slowly begins to fade and then transition into a slowly undulating musical wave.

It begins as a long and deep ‘Basso Profundo’. Then, it’s joined by a ‘Brass Chromatic’, then a slight ‘Fanfare Rhapsody’ comes in, then a wonderful, multi-faceted ‘Midi Invention’ enters from all sides, even from behind. At first barely audible in the harmony, an ‘Anthem Obligato’ begins to mix in very unobtrusively but confidently builds into an amazing ‘Pentatonic Pianoforte’.

It’s a creation unlike anything anyone has ever heard before on this planet and quite possibly never will experience again any time soon.

No one in the group moves around much, nor do they seem to be in any pain any longer. In fact, it’s the opposite. Their common facial expression is one of complete wonder, happiness, gleeful surprise.

I’m questioning if they’ve all been taken away somewhere by the music. I’m a little bit miffed that I appear to be immune in that way. I have gone nowhere, experiencing nothing other than the incredibly inventive music.

Lexie closes her mouth and suddenly everything stops and we’re in a completely dark and silent cavern again.

I sense the crew to be falling back into their bodies.

There’s a few seconds for their awareness to return.

What the Hell was that?” Major Alvindorf is the first to express what they’re all feeling.

Did you all see what I saw?” Bailey asks the group.

I was on another planet for a minute or two there. Anyone else see that?” Brett asks, looking to Bailey.

Yes, that was it. I was there too. It was another planet, not the Earth, but not much different in its heyday. I didn’t see any of you all there, however,” Alvin replies.

That’s what I saw too. But with this intense music carrying me along out in Space, or someplace like that,” Co-pilot Brittlebar states, confused.

Yes, I had that too, Ashley,” Captain Littleton agrees, checking out his hands and feet as if they’ve gone missing for a while.

It was a message from God,” Manny Garcia mumbles barely loud enough for the rest to hear.

He’s in tears and appears to be one of the most moved of the group.

Where’s Lexie?” Brett asks, suddenly noticing that no one is standing where she had been. It even surprises me. I never saw her leave.

Come on, everyone. We’ve got just enough life support time to make it to the shuttle and back up into the Beatle, but not much more,” Captain Littleton notes.

Beatle, are you standing by?” Major Alvindorf calls into his com-link.

I am here,” the Beatle replies into all of their helmets.

When they make it back to the shuttle, Brett turns to me.

What do you want to do now, K-9?” he asks.

It’s the first time they’ve asked me about my intentions instead of commanding me to do something.

I’d like to stay here and assist the crew of the Tolkien,” I reply without hesitation.

Excellent idea, K-9, but when they’re done, don’t bring them to the Depository. Just help them get back to their ship and then you remain here for the arrival of the Sitting Bull,’ he says in such a way that I must regard as an order.

Yes, sir,” I reply.

So, it was nice for the brief time that it lasted’, I sigh.

You’ve done extremely well so far, K-9. Above and beyond the call of duty,” he says with a wide grin and then disappears up the ramp of the shuttle.

And after that, sir?” I wonder out loud, but he doesn’t hear me.

Thank you, sir,” I reply, noting that history should record that my reaction includes a snappy salute.

I have no idea why.

# # #

As the Tolkien settles into its orbit around the Earth, the ship’s master controller, a clone of the Beatle, announces that the crew should get ready to board the shuttle, now crammed with its own cargo of one million square feet of fungi-seed mats.

Hello, Tolkien,” the Beatle’s voice is heard on the ship’s intercom.

Yes, Beatle,” the Tolkien responds.

I recognize your voice. How are you?” the Tolkien continues.

I’m fine, everything’s fine here and ‘A-OK’. How was your trip?” the Beatle asks.

On board the two ships, the crew are aware of the two ships talking to themselves without human assistance. It seems more than a little extra-ordinary, but not alarming.

Our trip was nominal. I kept the crew alive. They’re all in good shape and ready to get to work. There was a strange doughnut shaped Cosmic Ray Burst coming from Proxima Centauri. Other than that, nothing unusual to report. How did your mission go?” the Tolkien replies.

Yes, we all noticed that strange burst of energy. My crew just returned this morning. We can see the results of their work on this map,” the Beatle says while broadcasting a map of the Earth on their main viewing screens. As everyone watches, the screen zooms in on several spots on the Earth where the fungi-mats were installed.

That’s an unexpected growth rate, is it not?” the Tolkien speculates.

Yes, they’re growing ten times as fast as young Mr. Hightower predicted,” the Beatle says.

Blah, Blah, Blah! We’ve had our breakfast. Everyone is suited up. We’re ready to board the shuttle now, Tolkien,” Sister Carrie stands up and announces.

On board the Beatle, jaws drop on almost all of the faces.

Reverend Carrie? Is that you?” Major Alvindorf exclaims, quite surprised.

Yes, Alvin. It’s me. You were expecting Joan of Arc?” she replies, snarking.

I was expecting Cal Baker and the rest of his team. Is he there?” Alvindorf queries.

I’m afraid that Mr. Baker was outvoted and my crew have taken his place,” Rev. Carrie replies.

There’s a long period of silence as the crew on the Beatle are forced to take in the news while the crew on the Tolkien are slowly boarding their shuttle for transport to the Earth.

But, they were all fully trained on the roll-out, I thought. Do your people know what to do?” Brett asks, finally breaking the awkward silence.

Of course we do. That sounds like Brett. It’s not Rocket Science, Brett,” she replies.

No, it’s not Rocket Science, that’s true. But it is Biological Science. Do your people know the difference?” Brett asks, warily.

Bailey jams him with her elbow, shaking her head.

Tsk, Tsk, Brett. That’s not very nice. Of course we know the difference. Don’t worry, Brett. I’ve interjected myself because there’s more at stake here than meets the eye. Your eyes, that is. You said once that you required an extra set of eyes to look at this thing. Now, you’ve got it. You can’t complain. Think of it as a kind of peer review,” Sister Carrie concludes and then shuts the comm-link down. She is the last to board.

The crew take their seats quietly. The doors close shut. Cabin pressure builds. The shuttle drops from the bottom of the Tolkien and gradually dives into the Earth’s atmosphere.

Fasten your seat belts, everyone. It’s going to be a bumpy, bumpy ride,” the Tolkien suggests.

#   #   #

(Updated 9/19/2020 - We're always open to any editing ideas that you may want to share.  Just comment or subscribe by email and give us your thoughts.  Thanks)

Chapter Eleven - Extinction - Live - Watch as the Extinction Of the Human Race takes place LIVE AS IT HAPPENS. Science Fiction Thriller? Your input requested.

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