“Well Christ almighty,” Junior said to Bill, “is that a smile I see on your face?”
“You’re damn right!” Bill replied, “it’s a new day for ol’ William Lorenz!”
“Thought I’d never see the day.”
After the two exchanged pleasantries, Bill walked into the cafeteria and grabbed a tray. As he moved his way down the line, he came up to the dessert potions. “Care for some lemon meringue?” the cook asked.
“Ya know, I used to hate lemon meringue,” Bill replied, “but fuck it! Why not?!”
The cook shrugged and plopped the cake onto his plate. Bill then sat down on the other end of the table from Sappy. “Sappy, you disgusting piece of shit! How ya doing this morning?!” Bill greeted.
Sappy didn’t reply.
As Bill shoved his face with sloppy joes and French fries…drenched in nacho cheese of course…a gang of four inmates snuck up behind Sappy. Bill recognized the men. They were all fellow counter-revolutionaries on the outside. The leader tapped Sappy on the shoulder.
“I’m getting tired of seeing you diddle yourself in the shower,” the man said, “if I see it one more time, I’m gonna cut that pecker off!”
Sappy and the gang began exchanging words. Bill licked the nacho cheese from his fingers and approached the group. “What seems to be the problem here?” he asked.
“This has nothing to do with you Bill,” the leader replied, “go back to stuffing that dumbass mouth of yours.”
“Woah woah woah, cool it buster! I’m just trying to keep the peace!”
“How about YOU cool it, turncoat!” the leader retorted. This caught the attention of Junior, who remained on the sidelines with his finger on the taser.
“Turncoat?” Bill asked, “Tom, what are you on about now? Come on man, we lost! Let’s move on with our lives!”
As the two shouted at each other, Sappy quietly pulled out a shiv and leapt toward the leader. Bill grabbed Sappy and wrestled him to the ground. Junior and the guards never noticed the small dull blade being drawn as their sight was obscured by the gang members. Bill forced the weapon out of Sappy’s hand and snuck it into his own jumpsuit. “Sorry Sappy,” Bill said, “but it looks like you owe me one.”
“Everyone back to your cell!” Junior ordered. The guards grabbed the Sappy and the gang then escorted them out of the cafeteria. “What’s gotten into you Bill?” Junior asked.
“What do you mean?”
“Normally you’d be the one to instigate these fights but now you’re stopping them!”
Bill nodded. “Then I suppose you should be thanking Dr. Effington,” he said.
“Merry Christmas, Dr. Effington,” Bill said as he sat prim and proper in the psychotherapist’s office. The good doctor smiled and nodded in astonishment.
“Merry Christmas, Mr. Lorenz,” she replied, “I assume your meeting with Susan went well.”
“It did not, but that’s okay. I’m ready to move forward.”
“Yes, doctor. In fact, I’d like to learn more about you.”
Satisfied with the progress she was seeing, Dr. Effington gave a slight smile. It was the most warmth and personality Bill had seen from her. “What would you like to know?” she asked.
Bill shrugged. “Anything really. Why did you become a doctor?”
“Well, I realized the inefficiency of modern psychology to combat pathological behavior,” she explained, “in men, there’s sometimes a sexual component. If the new government is truly interested in eliminating crime, this problem should be addressed.”
“Your methods here have been kinda extreme, wouldn’t you say?”
“Only in light of the previous paradigm of sexual repression. But we’re now living in a new paradigm.”
Bill nodded. “I see,” he said, “so I’m sexually repressed?”
“Not repressed, Mr. Lorenz. You’re sexually misdirected.”
Bill thought for a moment. “So I’m assuming you’re still not wearing underwear?” he asked.
“You have assumed correctly.”
“May I see?”
Dr. Effington slowly uncrossed her legs and spread eagle in her chair. Bill gazed at her genitalia. “Am I still permitted to uhh…pleasure myself if need be?” he asked.
“Of course,” the doctor replied.
Bill unzipped his prison jumpsuit and started touching himself. “Can you touch yourself too?” he asked.
“Can we continue to discuss your history?”
“Actually, I was hoping to talk more about you.”
Dr. Effington started rubbing her right hand down her thigh. “How so?” she replied.
“Do you do this for all of your patients?”
Bill began stroking himself harder. “So ehh, what gets you off?” he asked.
“A lot of things,” she replied as she rubbed herself.
“Can you take out your uhh…,” Bill began to stutter.
“Breast?” Dr. Effington asked as she unbuttoned her blouse. After she exposed her bare chest, she placed one hand on a nipple and the other between her legs. Bill was completely zoned in. “When was the last time you were intimate with someone, Mr. Lorenz?” she asked.
“Please don’t call me that,” he said.
“Would you rather be called ‘Bill’?”
“I’d rather be called nothing.”
Dr. Effington’s moans of pleasure increased as Bill neared climax. “You can come closer to me,” she offered.
“I can’t,” he said, “the heart monitor will go off.”
“I had it switched off.”
Bill slowed down as he moved his chair closer to hers. He reached out to touch her leg. As he stroked her leg and himself simultaneously, he began to feel a sense of performance anxiety.
“Is everything alright?” Dr. Effington asked.
“I’m…I’m sorry doctor, I don’t know what my problem is!”
She buttoned up her blouse and placed her hand on his shoulder. “It’s quite alright,” she explained, “I’m proud of you. You’ve made a lot of progress.”
“I never go into space sober,” I told Dr. Jackass.
The USV Carl Sagan departed from Tranquility Bay en route to Tau Ceti. The doctor and myself were doing preparations before addressing the crew.
“I just don’t think introducing yourself to the crew is a good idea when you’re drunk,” the doctor replied.
“I’ll decide what’s best for this mission.”
The two of us got into our dress blues and proceeded to the conference area where the crew was assembled. “Good afternoon,” I said, “I am Captain William Kananga. You may call me Bill. The gentleman standing next to me is Dr. Sergei Jackass. He will serve as the executive, chief medical, and chief science officer of this mission. We are currently en route to Tau Ceti, approximately 4 light years away, which would make this the first interstellar mission outside of the Solar System.”
The crew looked at one another, startled by this revelation.
“The objective of this mission was previously classified, but now it can be told,” I continued. “Space Fleet has received a transmission from a planet orbiting Tau Ceti. The information contained in this transmission is of the most extraordinary nature. In fact, it has the potential to be the most significant finding in human history. There is now considerable evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence. So our mission is to initiate first contact with these beings.”
I took a pause for dramatic purposes, then proceeded. “I’m sure you all have had time to meet with one another, but I will do some formal introductions. LT Commander Lauren Valdez is our Chief Pilot. LT Commander Dick Smashhouse, the co-pilot and navigator. Commander Nia Mwangi, Chief Engineer. LT Elizabeth Hanson and LT Arun Patel are also engineers serving under Commander Mwangi. In case you haven’t noticed, serving under my command are six very attractive people of both sexes: three males and three females from all corners of the Earth. This is done for the purposes of genetic diversity should we get stranded on this alien planet. Yes, we might have to fuck one another because this will be a long ass mission. Don’t worry about me though. My dick don’t work. Any questions?”
Commander Smashouse raised his hand. “Yes sir,” he asked, “can the Starship of the Imagination handle a mission of this magnitude? After all, she doesn’t have the best reputation.”
The crew laughed.
“Yes yes, I know about the reputation of the Sagan,” I replied. “But I assure you, with this new design and refit, she is now the finest ship in the Fleet. Anything else?”
Not a hand was raised.
“Then you have your orders. Once we reach the orbit of Jupiter, we will initiate the hibernation phase of this mission. DISMISSED.”
The crew disbursed to their respective stations. I met with Commander Mwangi to discuss the condition of the Sagan. “Centrifugal operations are fully functional,” she said, “our gravity is now comparable to Earth’s.”
“Very good,” I replied. “By the way, the Sagan is a good ship right? I hope I wasn’t blowing smoke up everyone’s ass.“
“Well,” she said and gave a long, uncomfortable pause. “I’ll just say that she can do the job. I’ll have a full report for you in the morning.”
“Thank you Commander. I’ll be in my quarters.”
I sat down at the edge of my bed and cracked open a beer. Dr. Jackass walked in moments later. “You should’ve packed liquor. It’ll last you longer,” he said.
“Are you feeling better now that you’re back in Space?”
“You know doctor, I know that you’re the Chief Medical officer, but I don’t need you to be my psychiatrist.”
“Jesus Bill! I’m just trying to have a conversation!”
“Well I’m still pissed off that Space Fleet has sent us on this wild goose chase. How can we initiate first contact with an alien species while Earth is an absolute dumpster fire?”
“Maybe a perfect world can never be achieved. But we should always pursue a better one.”
“Whatever Dr. Confucius.”
We were then interrupted by Commander Valdez over the intercom. “Sir, you have a subspace message coming in from Admiral Stockdale.”
“Put it through,” I groaned.
I put down the beer and booted up the computer. “To Captain Kananga: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY,” the message read. I tapped on the screen and a video of the Admiral popped up.
“Bill,” the Admiral said, “I regret to inform you that the war in North Africa has taken a turn. All nuclear powers have initiated Mutually Assured Destruction. The number of casualties is yet confirmed. The Fallout from this event will be considerable and all of Space Fleet personnel and equipment have been reassigned to assist in recovery efforts. In essence, Space Fleet is being disbanded. Therefore, this will be the final order from Space Fleet command: DO NOT abort mission. Repeat: DO NOT ABORT MISSION. The planet orbiting Tau Ceti likely has Earth-like conditions. It is advised to begin population initiatives there. Should that fail, use the hibernation chambers for as long as possible until radiation levels on Earth return to normal. This is a process that might take centuries. It is also advisable to not inform the crew of this development until after reaching Tau Ceti. It has been a pleasure serving with you Bill. Farewell.”
I couldn’t hit shit with my six shooter. I missed every target.
J Robert Oppenheimer’s 10 year old son, Malachi, watched and nodded his head. “Did you really know my father from the war?” he asked.
“Sure, why not?” I replied.
“Whose side did you fight for?”
“Uh, Abraham Lincoln’s?”
“963rd, 9th battalion, 4th infantry, uhmmm, at the Battle of Waterloo?”
“Did you get injured?”
“Oh yeah. All over.”
Malachi scratched his head. He knew I was full of shit. “Are you sure that you didn’t know my father from the future?” he asked.
“How do you know about that?”
“He has a time machine in the barn.”
Malachi took me into the barn and lifted a large tarp off a time weapon—a similar looking time weapon that sent Mr. Ree, Oppenheimer, and myself back to 1879.
“Does it work?” I asked Malachi.
“Of course. My father built it. He can make anything work.”
Oppenheimer stood at the entryway of the barn. “That’s enough Malachi,” he said. “You run along now.”
Malachi shook his head. “Yes father,” he said and went back to tending to his chores.
“Why didn’t you tell me about this, Bob?” I asked Oppenheimer.
“It doesn’t work.”
“Malachi says it does.”
Oppenheimer paced back and forth, rubbing his hand across his face. “Look,” he said, “we can go over this all day. Sure, I can send you to the future, the past, whatever. But it’s almost impossible to get you back to YOUR timeline. I’m sorry James. But we need to look at the present. You’re here. Mr. Ree is here. I need help. This community needs your help. Please help me. I can’t fight Dickleburg on my own.”
I thought through his words. “You love Malachi,” I said. “But did you know that I have a child back in that timeline? If there is a chance, however slim, to get back there, I have to take it. Wouldn’t you do the same if you were me?”
Oppenheimer nodded. “If I’m going to help you,” he said, “then we have to secure these goldmines. There’s a property in gold that makes these time weapons work. To secure the mines, we have to defeat Dickleburg.”
I pulled out my Korth 357.
“I’m no good with those six shooters,” I replied. “But I can shoot a fly’s dick off with this 357. Can you help me make more bullets?”
We stole guns off some guards that Angelika brutally murdered and ran down the corridor.
“The time weapon is is being held three floors above us,” Angelika said.
We began to feel tremors all around us. I asked Angelika the last time this volcano erupted.
“About 25,000 years ago,” she said.
“Then this thing could go off at any moment. We better hurry.”
We went down the corridors and up the stairs in an attack formation. Angelika and I covered the front. Mr. Ree and Oppenheimer covered the rear.
When we reached the room holding the time weapon, the Kill Squad…along with Izzy….was there. They altered course and stormed into the volcano earlier in a bloody, devastating firefight. Not many survived.
“Thank goodness you’re alive,” the Admiral said. “And you found J. Robert Oppenheimer. Excellent work. Lt. Captain, please dispose of the scientist.”
Lt. Captain cocked his pistol and raised it up to Oppenheimer’s head.
I raised my rifle to Lt. Captain.
“Pull that trigger and you’re dead,” I told him.
“But Colonel James,” the Admiral said, “this time travel stuff is against the laws of God. We must destroy all of the evidence.”
“No,” I said. “Oppenheimer has as much right to exist as the rest of us.”
Dr. Sí then rushed in with his guards. “Well well,” he said. “Glad you’re all here.”
We were surrounded. We dropped our weapons.
Dr. Sí walked up to the Admiral. “I’m happy to see you’re doing well Admiral,” he said.
“This ends today doctor,” the Admiral replied.
“I think not,” he replied.
Dr. Sí walked over to a control panel. In a corner across the room, the floor moved, revealing a lava pit.
“I’m sorry Admiral,” the doctor said. “But you can’t go where we’re going.”
The guards grabbed the Admiral and pushed him towards the pit. “You’ll never get away with this,” he yelled.
“Of course I will. I control time! Think about the possibilities Admiral! We could have taken over the world. You never understood that.”
“Izzy, don’t let them do this,” the Admiral screamed. She walked over to him and the guards.
“You’re one abusive son of a bitch,” she said. Izzy then roundhouse kicked him into the fiery pit. When the screams stopped and the flames died down, Izzy turned around.
“Can I go home now,” she asked. “I didn’t want to be here anyway.”
“I’m sorry madam,” Dr. Sí replied. “I cannot let anyone leave here alive.”
“So what happens now? This volcano will erupt at any moment,” I asked.
“Exactly Colonel. In a few moments, I will time travel out of here and this volcano will erupt, destroying the evidence.”
“You’re not going anywhere,” Angelika said. Dr. Sí walked up to her, grabbed her hair and put his lips on her.
“I’m sorry things didn’t work out between us,” he said. “I gotta go.”
He went back to the panel and a countdown started. A laser dropped down from the ceiling which would release a plasma field around its target, triggering a spacetime ripple that would permit time travel.
“Before I forget,” Dr. Sí said to me, “here’s the $1 million I owe you. Where I’m going, this money is no good.”
He threw a metal briefcase as my feet.
“Alright,” the doctor said, “let’s get this bullshit over with.”
The laser then fired out a beam, creating the field around Sí. While the guards were mesmerized by the sight, Oppenheimer ran into the field, pushing the doctor out.
There was a bright flash of light, then Oppenheimer was gone…lost somewhere in time.
“You fool!” Dr. Sí yelled.
Out of the confusion, Angelika attacked the guards and took a gun. She began spraying bullets across the room. I picked up the briefcase and ran for cover.
I grabbed a rifle from a dead guard and began shielding Izzy. Mr. Ree then engaged in the firefight.
When all the guards were dead, Angelika threw down her semi-automatic and grabbed Dr. Sí. He tried to put up a fight.
“Angelika!” he screamed. “This volcano will go off any second. We don’t have time for this!”
“Time’s up bitch!” she said. Then she threw him into the lava pit. A large flame shot up in the air.
Meanwhile, Mr. Ree was monitoring communications between guards over the radio. “Reinforcements will be here in a minute,” he said.
I handed the briefcase to Izzy. “Make sure Miriam gets this,” I told her.
We shared one last look. “Mr. Ree and I will give you cover while you escape,” I said. “Angelika, go with her.”
“But I didn’t get the weapon,” Angelika responded.
“Let it go,” I said. “You can save humanity without it.”
I reached out my hand to hers and we looked deep into each other’s eyes. “Goodbye Angelika.”
She gave a pause. “Goodbye James,” she said.
Izzy and Angelika, along with a few surviving members of the Kill Squad, ran back down the corridor. The tremors were beginning to pick up.
Mr. Ree and I stood behind the control panel, waiting for reinforcements to arrive. “Ready to go where no man’s gone before,” I asked him.
He put a cigar in his mouth. “You’re reading my mind.”
As guards were pouring into the room, Mr. Ree provided cover while I fiddled with the controls. The laser pointed in our direction and released a beam. The field surrounded us.
Where…or when…we were going, only God knew.
Then there was a brilliant flash of light….
Izzy, Angelika, and the Kill Squad made it out of the volcano just as it erupted. As they watched the explosion from a safe distance, Izzy turned to Angelika.
“Do you think they’re dead?”
Angelika looked to the ash cloud hovering over the jungle. She thought for a moment.
“No,” she replied. “They’re out there…somewhere in time….”
“This is science gone haywire,” J. Robert Oppenheimer said. “I should have never agreed to help Dr. Sí.”
“Don’t beat yourself up,” I said to him. “We’ll get you out of here and back to your own time.”
“It doesn’t work like that,” he replied.
“Sure it does. It’s science! Anything is possible.”
“We can’t just go ‘back in time’. Doing so would violate all sorts of Newton’s laws. When the quantum field is generated, the individual is transported to an alternate timeline. The laws of physics remain the same and the outcomes in these timelines might be similar to our own, but it’s not the same timeline. Am I making sense?”
“Nope,” I replied. “But we’ll get you as close to your timeline as humanly possible.”
“Forget it,” Oppenheimer replied. “Our best option is to disarm the weapon to prevent this from happening again.”
“How do we do that?”
“There’s a special property in the element of gold that penetrates through space and time. If the gold is removed from the nano chambers, the weapon would be powerless.”
“Sounds like a plan Bob.” I looked over to Mr. Ree. “Do you think the Kill Squad will alter course and find us?”
“I doubt it,” Mr. Ree said. “I don’t even know where we’re at.”
“We’re at the bottom of a dormant volcano,” Oppenheimer said. “They’ll never find us.”
“Shit,” I said. “Then we have to take matters into our own hands. We just need an opportunity.”
Angelika then peered through the opening of our cell door. “James,” she said, “just hold tight, I’m gonna get you out of here.”
“Angelika,” I replied, “I thought you were with Dr. Sí.”
She then reached her hand through the opening to touch my own. “Dr. Sí is no friend of the Ionian Liberation Front. He’s no friend of peace and justice. I don’t want this technology to fall into the wrong hands.”
“Get us out of here and we’ll destroy it,” I said.
“No! Think about it James. With this weapon, we can right all the wrongs. We can undo our violent past and create a better future.”
“I don’t know Angelika.”
“Please, I’ll get you out of here. But let me have the weapon.”
I thought for a second and agreed to her terms. Then she grasped my hand tightly.
“What’s your wife’s name?” she asked.
“She’s a lucky woman. Perhaps in another time….”
She let go of my hand and closed the opening. I heard some rustling outside, then a few gunshots. After a few moments, the cell door blasted open.
Angelika walked across the rubble wearing a skintight leather suit and holding a Heckler & Koch M27.
“Alright boys,” she said. “Let’s blow the top off this volcano.”