Inkeri watched as the medical staff freed the man from his own clothes and the gook that had saved his life. Her hair was a fiery red waterfall that fell to her kneecaps. The man didn’t struggle. She assumed he was aware that they were intending to save his life. That, or the long sleep had turned his brain to mush. They pushed fluids intravenously, the lactic ringer contained in an armband that was Velcroed to the upper arm. She was present throughout the flurry of activity that was not just to save him but to collect samples. A portable fMRI scanner was used to capture deep tissue. Inkeri observed the results of the scans without sharing opinions. The medics said he was human, and the genetics suggested ‘human enough’ that he could breed with the present Earth population. The small differences she saw, in organs and genes, was beyond the present medical staff’s knowledge and pay grade. Their spoken observations were flawed. She was amused by their conversations.
The brain scans did not reveal a brain that was turned to mush, but one that was hyperactive. It resembled the scans of brains under the influence of DMT. Micro-dosing LSD could get this level of coordinated activity, but DMT did it better, longer, and with less side effects.
The man’s wrists and ankles were secured to the bed railing.
No one bothered her, no one spoke to her. They did not need to tell her to get out of the way, as she was always just out of the way, coming closer to touch the man and falling back in the mad dance. There was finally peace. She and the man were alone. Well, as alone as anyone could be here on the moon. She stood beside him. She collected her hair, pulling it to the ends, and draped this over the man’s forehead. He was bald. He had a goatee.
A sister wife entered. Her hair was blond, almost moonlight, and equally as long as Inkeri. She was in her forties, but could have been mistaken for being in her twenties. The tiny blond hairs on her arm and leg seemed like jewels with the pervasive, indirect lighting that left no shadows. Her blue eyes were kind, innocent.
“Has he addressed you?” “No, Runa,” Inkeri said. “Have you discerned nothing?” “Have you?” Inkeri said.
“He is dangerous,” Runa said.
“And which of our guides are telling you this?” Inkeri asked. “He had the sign of the day.
He is likely a master of the Arts. He will be peaceful.”
Runa nodded. She drew closer to the man, touched his face. There was hope on her face. Lust. Not just for intimacy, but for knowledge. There was no doubt she would give up her celibacy to this man for the exchange of knowledge.
“Maybe he is the One,” Inkeri said.
“Folklore talk,” Runa dismissed. “It’s a distraction from the path.”
“The guides lie,” Inkeri said.
“I know,” Runa said. “Just part of the game. It teases out the gullible. Even if there is truth in the stories of the One, what are the odds we would find him? Further, if he were…”
“They’d kill him?” Inkeri asked. “They’d risk losing the advancements he could provide?”
“They’d kill all of us to make sure he was dead,” Runa said.
“You cannot kill me.” It was German, perfect, an older dialect with an accent that no one present had likely heard before.
Both Runa and Inkeri stepped away from the bed. Inkeri’s hair came away slowly, falling from the rail. The man was not secured. He sat up, lowered the rail in an unusual way; at least, he didn’t touch the controls. He swung his legs out and stood, stretching, breathing. He did not seem at all bothered by the sudden presence of guards, all of whom were pointing weapons. He faced them, curious.
“You should not have awaken me,” he said in German. “They will come for me.” Captain Stian Holk entered. He did not tell his men to lower their weapons. He was tall, clean shaven, and as blond as any of the guards. He was the only one wearing rank, and the only one with the ‘symbol.’ He inhaled through a ‘vape,’ and released a reddish vapor. “Who are they?” he asked. “The gods of old?”
The man did not respond to this. “May I have my clothes?”
“Bring this popper something to wear,” Holk said. “You realize, Sir, you are in my debt.” “For clothes? I would just assume continue naked,” the man said.
“For saving your life,” Holk said.
The naked man removed the armband and tossed it to the bed. The man spoke in English, with a British accent. “You did not save me. You have definitely waken me before schedule. I did not foresee this, but I accept it. It’s within parameters, and clearly meaningful.”
“I prefer you continue to speak in German,” Holk said.
A hospital gown was brought. The guard offering it was too timid to approach. Runa took it, scowling at the soldier, but smiling rather manipulatively at the man. The man accepted, kindly, bowing. He donned this, pulling the strings around his back and tying it in front. He was aware his butt remained bare.
“This is only half as well as I would treat you, if the roles were reversed,” the man said.
“Speak German,” Holk said.
“No,” the man said.
Holk stepped forwards. He smiled. Only Runa and Inkeri knew he wasn’t really smiling.
“I can make your life very uncomfortable, Sir,” Holk said.
“No, you can’t,” the man said. “I will not speak German to you again, not because the language offends me, not out of defiance, but because I have a preference. I will cooperate with you in other, limited ways. I will not try to escape. When the others come for me, and they will come, eventually, I will aid you, conditionally. You will have to ask for my help, and grant me freedom to respond in the manner I wish to respond. You may take me to my cell now.”
“I assure you, Sir. I can handle those who will come, just as I can handle you,” Holk said.
The signal was subtle, but it came. Two guards fired their weapons. The flash of energy was as if someone had used a flash to take a photo. The man went down.
“See,” Holk told his men. “Nothing to fear here. Take him to his quarters. You, two, with me.”
Inkeri and Runa followed Holk in a different direction.
Emily Grayson had been confined to her quarters since the incident. Though they assured her, she had done nothing wrong, she felt as if she had done something wrong. The more they assured her, the less convinced she was. They brought her her meals. The small cafeteria was the only chance for small, guarded social exchange, but now the only ‘light’ was media, and the large screen television which showed nature scenes 24-7. The screen was in an alcove, going from wall to ceiling, and folding along the edges going back to the room. Entering it gave one the illusion of being immersed in the environment. It was not precisely holographic, but it could be, and it could envelope her, and if she wore the head band, she could have olfactory and tactile sensations through brain stimulation. A shower head above allowed her to bathe with the illusion of rain. The screen was surreal enough that she imagined she could push through the screen and go into the environment it displayed, but her brain knew there was nothing but solid moon rock beyond, and going up would lead her to a barren, airless world. She called it a world. If she could walk on it, barren or not, in her mind it was a world. The moon had cease to be a moon, a mystical place. It was not joyful. She had never been to prison, so she could only draw on her ideas of prison, and suspected that prison life was a step up from here. The Oasis Alcove was her only respite from the barrage of greys.
The Oasis Alcove offered her a variety of nature scenes, but there was one option that presented her with a view looking out of a large, box seat window that overlooked her backyard as a child. It made her so homesick for childhood that she frequently felt depressed and was unable to linger. It was not a static, home video. It felt live- a breeze turning a leaf. Dew on the morning grass, grass her feet longed to walk upon. One day while sitting there, her parents emerged and went into the back yard. They were accompanied with friends and were grilling. They were young, like before she was born young. This bothered her so much that she hadn’t watched it again. She didn’t have the nerve to ask about it, for fear of being sent back to earth for hallucinating.
The door to her room opened, and Emily came out of her bed, leaving the book she had been feigning to read. She had never seen the women before. They were beautiful, even without makeup. She immediately boxed them as young, maybe teens, possibly twenties, but that was pushing the envelope. Their hair was long, pulled tight and over their ears, and a bundled stream of a pony tail that went to the back of their knees. Their black robes were so simple, a single piece pull over, cotton, tied tight not at the hips, but just below the breasts which enhanced the bosom, accentuating the femininity. Each had a circular, gold plate, each their own mandala etching of flowers unfolding, and was centered on their navels. Gold ordained the collar rising to the neck. They had the Egyptian Ankh, and other symbols. She was drawn towards the symbols.
“Eastern Stars?” Emily asked.
The blond laughed and introduced them. “I am Runa. This is my sister-wife Inkeri, and my sister-wife Jorunn,” Runa said.
“The pattern on you mandala…”
“Your father was American. Your mother French,” Runa said. “Father was a Scottish Rite Freemason. Your mother was an Eastern Star. And you know more than you should know for someone who is uninitiated.”
“I am very observant,” Emily said.
Runa took Emily by the arm and led her to an open space in the room, away from the bed. For a cell, it was at least spacious. The three of them became points in a triangle in which she was center point. They brought their bundled hair forwards, handing the end to a sister-wife, so that now the triangle was defined by the length of their hair. Inkeri and Jorunn closed their eyes. Runa maintained eye contact with Emily.
“You know the history and the languages, and yet you prefer to mythologize it, favoring the occult parallels of the modern day age, super heroes and villains,” Runa said.
“It seems evident, that’s just something we do as a species. People assume the little figurines were worshiped as gods, but I postulated they are the equivalent of today’s action figures,” Emily said.
“In another time, you would be executed for such blasphemy,” Runa said.
“How can you not see it? In the old days, we had totems. That’s still going on! High schools and colleges have mascots and they celebrate in designated circles. Some even have bonfires,” Emily said. “We have always held symbolic rallying points as a way of defining membership, which is good in many ways, and yet also, by definition, leads to exclusions of a larger population. If we were able to recognize this and harness symbolic language in a more precise way that allows us to recognize all of humanity…”
“You want a One World Government,” Runa said. “The New World Order.”
“Um, no. Well, yes,” Emily said. “It’s inevitable. The fiction of independent, isolated countries needs to end in favor of recognizing how we all affect each other. War has to end.
World hunger shouldn’t exist in this day in age, given our tech and resources. All people should have access to medical and clothing. We need a new paradigm, one that does not measure human being on productivity and wealth.”
“And what should the standard be? How would we determine the elite from the chaff?” Runa said. “How would we distinguish the queen from the priestess from the student from the impoverished? How will you know the good from the bad? Even you, you cherish the heroes and the villains of your preferred icons. You spin your own paradigm fiction of light and darkness. You are corrupt and everything you touch is corrupted. Your middle class status has warped your view of things, given you the illusion of choice and sovereignty. You are a peasant, a slave. All earth bound dwellers are slaves. You were born to serve us.”
Emily didn’t have a response. She wanted to ask if she could go home now. She knew, there was no going home now.
“What is your relationship to the man you released from prison?” Runa asked.
“I don’t understand,” Emily said.
“The man you released from stone,” Runa said.
“I have told Müller everything. I don’t know how he became human,” Emily said. “He was always human. He was frozen in stone,” Runa said. “As is the entire garden of stone creatures. They are imprisoned there. You freed one. What is your relationship with him?”
“I don’t understand. I have no relationship with him. I have never met him,” Emily said.
“Truth,” Jorunn and Inkeri said.
Runa frowned. She suspected a lie.
“Your unconscious has information about this man. Reveal it to me now,” Run insisted.
“I don’t know anything about this man!” Emily insisted.
“Truth,” the sister-wives said.
Runa scowled at Emily.
“You saw your parents, and yet you’ve asked no one about them. Why?” Runa demanded.
“I…” Emily looked back at Jorunn.
Runa smiled. “Thought you were hallucinating? What if I told you we have the ability to see the past?”
“You time travel?”
“We can see the past. We can record the past,” Runa said.
“You mean like, remote viewing?” Emily asked. “Or with tech?”
“Everything is tech. Your body is tech for the soul. Every plant, every creature that walks on the earth, or swims the seas, or burrows- it’s all tech,” Runa said. “Either you are a tool that unlocked the man from his prison, or you’re co-conspirator. You do realize, girl, if we want, we could kill your mother before you were born. We can undo this thing you have done. For what purpose was he unleashed?”
“I don’t know,” Emily said. She couldn’t discern if they were bluffing. They didn’t deny time travel. They didn’t answer her question at all. If one could see the past, could one influence the past? Clearly there was a paradox here. She was too wound up in that to experience the fear that was growing inside her.
“Truth,” the sister-wives said.
“She conceals a deeper truth,” Runa insisted.
“Truth,” the sister-wives agreed.
Runa chuckled. “I will get to the bottom of you, yet, girl. I would like to get there without breaking you. The information is more reliable if we get there without breaking you. I would like you to consider ways to be more compliant. If you didn’t know, there are a large number of single, horny men on this base.”
“I would like to go home now,” Emily said.
“You will never step foot on Earth again,” Runa said.
The sister-wives opened their eyes and dropped the hair. The frowned indicated the statement was false, a look that Emily didn’t catch. Runa let go of Inkeri’s hair, and patted Emily’s cheek. The sister-wives were already out of the room. She leaned in close to Emily.
“I own you, now,” Runa said. “You will serve me, or die.”
The man sat in a cell, lotus position. He was a man in his fifties, but had the appearance of someone younger. His beard was trimmed. His hospital gown had been upgraded to light blue hospital scrubs. They felt like pajamas to him. He seemed to be in shape, but not someone overzealous about exercise. He had not touched his bed or any of the food offered him. There were two guards inside the room and two guards outside the room. The guards watched him. The cameras watched him. At no point was an eye not on him. Captain Holk entered with a personal guard, and a female dressed in ceremonial robes, black, gold trim, and accouterments of a past long gone, of a place, immeasurably far away. The man got up without being prompted, brought hands together in a polite gesture and bowed. The female started to emulate the gesture but was nudged. Holk went to the table and sat. His attendants stood behind him.
“Come, have a seat,” Holk said. It was in German.
The man came to the table and sat. Holk poured himself a tea. He poured one for the man, and set the cup on a dish and served it. Holk drank the tea.
“We are civilized. I would not poison you,” Holk said.
“I know you would not poison me,” the man said.
“And yet you don’t eat or drink?” Holk asked. “Are you protesting? Are you trying to die?”
“I will not die,” the man said. “Not here, anyway.”
“Still determined to speak English? I will continue in my native tongue,” Holk said.
“As to be expected,” the man said. “Again, I am not offended by the language.”
Holk frowned. “Let’s start over. I am Stian Holk.”
The man brought his hands together and bowed. Holk did not imitate. The girl behind him bit her lip, feeling very uncomfortable about not being able to respond appropriately.
“This is where you tell me your name,” Holk said.
“You’ve not entered the ritual with respect,” the man said.
“So, if I don’t dance to your tune, you won’t tell me who I am addressing?” Holk asked.
“Do you care who you’re addressing?” the man asked.
“Not really. Simply a formality. Greases the wheels so to speak. The people watching, the upper echelon and the scientist and the historians, they are all curious. I’d just assume kill you and be done with it,” Holk said.
The man said nothing.
“Your name isn’t Gilgamesh, is it?” Holk asked. The man seemed amused but didn’t bite.
“What crimes did you commit to be put in stone for all eternity?”
The man’s eyes went distant, searching for a memory that was for him, merely days ago, but in actuality- the actual time stamp held no meaning here. He returned his eyes to the present, to Holk. There was a humility in the smile.
“We all have fallen short and I have done many things that should be met with consequences,” the man said.
“But being put stone, that seems a bit harsh,” Holk said. The man nodded, a slight agreement.
“Please, I must know. What is your name,” Holk asked.
The man brought his hands together again, and bowed. When he came up, Holk had still not entered the ritual. “I am Preston G.”
“Preston! That’s a nice name. Almost modern,” Holk said. “G. G? G is your sir name?” “My people do not have Sir names. We do not sort people by families by lineage. Some of us do have titles,” Preston answered.
“So G is your title?” Holk said.
“No,” Preston said.
“So, is G short for something? Does it mean something?” Holk said.
“You may make of it what you will,” Preston said.
“Do you have a title?” Holk asked.
“I am a Waycaster,” Preston said. “Preston G Waycaster.”
The female went to her knees, bowing. Holk hit her with a back handed fist, knocking her to the floor. He got up from his chair, took her by her bundled hair and lifted her till her feet found purchase. Preston stood. The male attendant drew a weapon. So did the guards.
“You will not bow to him! He is not a god!” Holk said, spittle coming out of his mouth from his rage.
“She was merely demonstrating respect,” Preston said.
Holk released her and pointed to Preston. “I will not be counseled by you on how to treat my personnel. You are a prisoner here.” “You cannot contain me,” G said.
“Sit,” Holk said.
“No,” Preston said.
“Sit, or die,” Holk said.
“You do not hold the authority to kill me. Especially with these toys,” Preston said. “You would have much more luck with your energetic weapons.”
“I assure you, these will be quite effective,” Holk said.
“Primitive projectile weapons are crude, random. Even at this range, the guards are more likely to miss, ricochet off the wall and kill you. Best case scenario, their weapons misfire. Worst case scenario, each of them end up having a stroke or a heart attack. Or perhaps, the fear I have just instilled in them prevents them from pulling the trigger.” “Shoot him,” Holk told his assistant.
The assistant hesitated.
Holk pulled his weapon out and pointed at his assistant. “Shoot him.”
“Go ahead, son,” Preston said. “I don’t hold you responsible for what happens next.” The kid pulled the trigger. Nothing happened.
“Empty the chamber, do it again,” Holk insisted.
The kid emptied the round and the next fell in place. Again, the weapon misfired. He repeated this two more times. Holk turned his weapon to Preston and pulled the trigger. His weapon misfired.
“As I sai