Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Prologue Concluded

Four years later.

It was a dream…or was it?

The mists seemed to swirl endlessly, and it was difficult to tell which way was up. There was no forward or backward, but all directions were the same. It felt as if it were moist, but warm and unusually comfortable. The mist itself seemed to penetrate everything, giving him an odd sense of peace and filling him with light. Each and every individual particle that the mist consisted of radiated its own shining light. Slowly, some of the mist seemed to coalesce into a human-like form, gaining intensity in its brightness until it became near impossible to look at. As the shining spirit became more corporeal, more features could be seen: a long, reddish-brown beard streaked with silver, a kind and gentle face that seemed to know love and pain, a flowing robe of pure light.

something familiar…

The being walked closer to Henry, holding something covered in a blue cloth. It pulled the cloth off to reveal a large wooden box. The box seemed to hum as Henry looked at it, and as he looked, his body seemed to tingle.

"Here is what you need," the being said, in a deep, melodious voice.

Henry shifted his attention to the ornate box. Somehow, he knew exactly what was in there. He did not know how he knew, but he did. Nonetheless, he could not help but ask, since he did not know where his "knowledge" came from. Just in case. "What is it?" Henry asked.

"Inside is the theory of interstellar travel and the plans for the engine."

The humming grew a little louder for a moment once the entity stopped speaking, as if to drive the point home. He did know what it was! But how? Because he had dreamed of space since he was a child? Did he still want it? Those dreams seemed long dead, never to be roused again. But that didn’t seem to matter now. He once had a plan for what he would do if he could take colonists or explorers into the vastness of space, but as he grew older…and wiser…he realized that it was too complex of a task for him to handle. He wasn’t sure if he could handle it. What would the entity say if he refused this gift? Would it be taken away forever, never to be seen again? Was he wasting a great opportunity? Or was it really all just a dream? He puzzled at how all these thoughts seemed to buzz through his mind in an instant, and then decided to treat the incident as if it really were just a dream. "I…I can’t take this. I wouldn’t know what to do with it anymore. Once upon a time, I dreamed of going into space, leading people into new realms. But now…I don’t think I could do it."

"Maybe not, but this is what you have always wanted. You prayed fervently for it when you were young, and now it is here. And it is now your duty to take it. You have been chosen for this mission. You have undergone many trials in your lifetime, all of them subtle, yet perfectly designed for this undertaking. You have been trained for it, and despite your opinion, you can do it. At any rate, that is all irrelevant. It is God’s will, and you cannot refute it. The fate of humanity depends on it.

"Therefore, this is yours." He then handed Henry the wooden box. The box was about eighteen inches long, nine inches wide and four inches high. The wood was of a rich, deep pecan, with a gold "X" on the lid. Henry opened the box. Inside were pieces of paper. On one was a design for some type of motor. On another, there was a procedure for power generation. On it was written: "…small version of the AG synchrotron generator will reverse polarity of normal helium electrons. The one to one ratio of normal helium electrons to the antimatter form of helium electrons (positrons) will cause a high-powered explosion resulting in vast amounts of energy. With this much energy being created, a device can be operated that will essentially ‘pull’ a shuttle through the space-time continuum, thus allowing the shuttle to achieve great speeds. Gravitons can be harnessed from the side products of the matter/antimatter collision, which is essential in creating this ‘warp,’ along with allowing for artificial gravity and inertial dampening for propelling the ship when not using this ‘warping’ device…"

The being then said, "Remember this: If the people sent with you to form a new civilization follow the ways of Earth, who knows what problems will befall you. You may befall the fate Earth is destined for. Your trials will be many, but you and the people who go with you are the last hope for humankind."

Somewhere, off in the distance of the mist, he saw another entity, but it had a bluish glow to it. The first robed entity seemed to disappear from view, as if it were never there. Suddenly, Henry found that his entire attention had been fixed on the bright blue entity, but he couldn’t recall ever turning his body to look. The entity waved its hand in an arcing motion at Henry. The blue entity spoke.

"Remember God’s commandments to you. Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as you would yourself. And never forget yourself. Love is the key to everything. Without love, there is no life…or shouldn’t be. See for yourself."

The humming of the box began to increase in Henry’s hands until his body seemed to vibrate violently. The blue being started to dissolve into a brilliant mist, swirling and surrounding Henry. The mists began to darken and shift, and a landscape began to form: pictures of trees half dead and a sky of a sooty blue-brown. Fires ran wild across the land. Almost no sun could be seen, and it felt very cold.

The blue entity began to take normal human form as he spoke. He somehow stayed out of direct view of Henry. He said, "Look around. This is the fate of Earth. There is nothing that can be done about it. This is actually a merciful end to the last and one of the cruelest chapters in the history of humankind. Nobody expects this to happen…especially in your current time. But it will happen. The people of the Earth did not follow God’s greatest commandment, and this is the penalty."

Henry continued to view the surroundings. Creatures struggling to find something to eat, others struggling to breathe in the seemingly poisonous air. It almost seemed that all living things in this barren landscape were screaming, screaming in a terrible pain that cut straight to Henry’s soul until it was almost impossible to take it anymore…

Then Henry woke.

Henry jumped out of bed, staggered, and almost fell to the floor until he grabbed the bedpost. He picked up a towel that happened to be left hanging on the back of a chair, left there to dry after a day of swimming yesterday. He mopped his face with it, which was drenched in sweat, and looked around the room, stunned. "Whew, what a wild dream. I can’t believe how…"

That’s when he saw it…something on his desk wrapped in a deep blue cloth. His heart suddenly lurched, which augmented his feeling of surprise. He felt like his head was swimming. Could it be? he asked himself. How could it be? He cautiously made his way to the desk. He stood above the desktop, staring blankly at the shrouded container, hesitating to remove the cloth and open what was inside. After struggling with his senses for a bit, he timidly reached for a corner of the blue cloth, and with a jerk, yanked it off.

There was nothing but a piece of wood he had been carving the night before. On the top was a large "X," which he had just finished that previous night.

Henry dazedly put the cloth back down, sighing. No surprise there. He glanced over to the night stand by his bed. A thick, red binder lay there, open, the pages seemingly glowing in the early morning sunlight. Sighing once again, he plodded over to the binder, grabbed the nearby pencil, and started writing.