I’ve said before that I get some wild ass dreams. Maybe it’s the side effect of Cialis or maybe I should stop eating popcorn before I go to bed. But at any rate, these dreams can really fuck up my day.
The latest one involved the guys from Cum Town and an LSD trip that I won’t go into. But it got me thinking about the most fully fleshed out dream I’ve ever had.
About ten years ago, I dreamt about a dictator that summons his advisers to a dinner and everyone had to wear war paint. When the meal was served, the food is revealed to be the pieces of carcasses from the dictator’s vanquished enemies. One guys is served a dude’s face. This alarms the advisers who request foreign assistance to topple the dictatorship.
Obviously, the US responds by deploying an elite task force, led by a commander that was a drama major in college. Unfortunately, other nations have an interest in this country, so they too deploy special forces to take over the government. Without warning, the US task force is killed off by a competing nation and the commander is held captive. To make matters worse, even more competing nations pile into the country, escalating into an orgy of death and destruction.
Good news is: the dictator is killed. The bad news: the entire country is in ruins.
Of course, I’ve added more detail and commentary as time progressed. I really wanted to turn this into a novel, screenplay, etc. US military intervention was, at that particular moment, still a point of contention. Now that discussion has shifted (what a difference ten years makes) so I don’t know if I will ever flesh out this dream into a full blown story. But the nihilist in me still loves it: while outwardly it appears political, the story ultimately turns anti-political by devolving into pure action schlock. Everyone is a bad guy, so you root for everyone to die as you enjoy the spectacle of some poor nation getting blown the fuck up.
So please, somebody write this story into a book, movie, or whatever. Cuz I’m too lazy to do it.
I know “physically” I’m in my 30s, but in my heart I will always be 109 and counting down the days until death relieves me of this pitiful life.
But because my formative years took place during the 00s, I’m supposed to feel a sense of nostalgia for them.
It was a TERRIBLE decade: the death of rock/metal, 9/11, the Great Recession, Hurricane Katrina, the first run of the New England Patriots dynasty, Iraq, Afghanistan…and aesthetically it was a cheap knockoff of the 90s.
I’m sorry, but it sucked. And we all knew it.
Of course, occasionally I’ll listen to Three Doors Down and Shaggy then think “oh yeah, this was the shit,” while I reminisce about sitting on a dirty ass floor and playing the first Halo.
But the only thing WORTH remembering was MySpace. Remember how dope that shit was? You could customize your page, add a song, post half-nudes because that’s what people expected you to do. Why we abandoned that in favor of Facebook I will never understand.
I know that people I graduated with are starting to feel their age. They’re now working along side adults that don’t REMEMBER 9/11. Yeah that sucks, but you know what else sucks?
“Simon saw Yeshua come back from the dead!” Andrew said.
“I didn’t see Yeshua!” I replied. “How did you get to be so stupid?”
Andrew and I were meeting with Jacob and Levi at the Cyrene’s tavern after returning to Jerusalem. “What did you see?” Levi asked me.
“Look,” I said, completely ignoring his question, “I only came back to Jerusalem to bring Jacob back to Galilee. I already got Yeshua killed, I can’t let the same thing happen to his brother.”
“I’m not going back,” Jacob said.
“This might come as a surprise to you Simon, but people actually believe the Message. You thought the Romans could never be driven out of Judea, but everyone took notice of Yeshua. Including the Greeks!”
“The Greeks? We were only in Scythopolis for a few days. We barely spoke Greek!”
“Yeshua made quite an impression on them.”
“Yeah, they’re saying that he did all kind of shit,” Levi said, “healing the blind, casting out demons and sending them into pigs, making the lame walk…”
“Are you sure they’re not confusing him with one of the thousands of other lunatics that wonder around the Decapolis?”
“I’m telling ya Simon,” Jacob exclaimed, “these Greeks have some goddamned imagination. They think he’s some wandering miracle worker! There is some guy named Stephanos who followed us all the way from Scythopolis. He’s been screaming in the streets! He’s pissed about the crucifixion!”
“You guys didn’t talk to him, right?”
Right then, Mary walked into the tavern. She had the look of death on her face.
“What’s wrong?” Jacob asked.
All of us ventured outside of the city walls to Joseph’s tomb near the Mount of Olives. The women were weeping. I walked inside the tomb and Yeshua’s body wasn’t there.
“The Greeks?” I asked Jacob.
“How would they have known where his body was?”
Joseph was stomping down the hill up ahead. I looked over to Jacob. “Let me handle this,” I said.
Joseph was only a few yards away when he started yelling. “You guys have been an epic pain in my ass!”
“Now Joseph, calm down,” I said. “I’m only here to collect Jacob and bring him back to Galilee. I swear. I’m not here to cause trouble.”
“Like hell! All the Jews are gone but now the streets are crawling with Greeks! Ever since Passover ended, they’ve been piling into the city!”
“I know, but we have nothing to do with that.”
“Bullshit! This idiot here…” Joseph cried, referring to Jacob, “has been seen screaming on the streets with that lunatic Stephanos. And now all of you are grave robbing!”
I shook my head as I looked over to Jacob. “Joseph, we didn’t take Yeshua’s body. Mary came here this morning and it was gone. As for the Greeks, I don’t know what to tell you. We’ll leave Jerusalem and maybe this will all blow over in a few weeks.”
“Too late. They’ve been threatening the Sadducees and Pharisees because apparently, Yeshua was railing against them in Scythopolis! I know you were there Simon. So this IS your fault!”
Damn it, I thought. I looked over to Jacob. “This has gotten out of hand. We’re leaving.”
“If all of you are leaving, you better do it quick. The Sanhedrin wants this fire put out now! Herod is bringing in mercenaries from all over the empire. A few of them might be here now. You’re probably as good as dead,” Joseph said.
“Then that means you too,” I told him. “You’re as guilty as the rest of us.”
Jacob spoke up. “It doesn’t matter where we go. Do none of you see what’s going on here? The moment Yeshua spoke against the Romans and their collaborators, we had a target on our backs. We knew the risks. And we accepted them. Because look around you: lepers, beggars, widows, children sleeping on the streets. We can’t continue to live like this. Even the Greeks agree! Yes Yeshua is dead, but that doesn’t mean the Kingdom of God is dead too. We continue to fight for it or we die in the streets.”
Joseph was silent.
“It’s time for you to take a stand Joseph,” Jacob continued. “You’re either with us or you’re with Herod.”
Joseph looked down to the ground and thought for a moment. “I have no love for the Romans,” Joseph said, “but I want no more bloodshed. So I ask all of you: stay away from the Gentiles. They aren’t our problem. Let them take the fall for this Yeshua situation. If you can do this, I can keep the Sanhedrin off your scent.”
“But Joseph,” Jacob replied, “a lot of them are Jewish converts. We’re in this together.”
“Listen to me Jacob: stay away from them. And please, for the love of God, lay low!”
With those words, Joseph walked away. Jacob was beside himself. “What does he expect us to do?” he said to me, “we can’t just wish the Romans away!”
I put my hands on his shoulders to calm him down. “Jacob, he may be onto something,” I said. “Let’s face it: we don’t have the power to get the Romans out of Judea just yet. Our only choice is to play the long game. Alright? Now you might be safe in Jerusalem for the time being, but you’re gonna have to live to fight another day. Also, keep quiet about being Yeshua’s brother. Okay?”
Jacob nodded. “Are you going back to Galilee?” he asked.
I smiled. “No. I gotta keep you out of trouble,” I replied.
All of us went back into the city walls individually. As I was returning to the Cyrene’s tavern, a strange man in a black cloak pulled me into an alley and put a dagger to my throat.
“I got money in my satchel,” I said to him.
“I don’t want your money!” the man replied. He was a short, wiry figure with rashes and scabs all over his face. “I recognize you!”
“Well I don’t recognize you.”
“Don’t play with me! I saw you with that man in Caesarea.”
“Yeshua you fool!”
He punched me in the stomach and I fell to the ground. “Why are you in Jerusalem?” the figure asked.
“I’m just a fisherman. I’m here in town because of Passover. I’m leaving tomorrow, I swear!” I said as I was gasping for air.
“Why would I lie about that?!”
He kicked me in the face and I fell flat on the ground. The man continued his interrogation.
“Who do you know here?”
I crawled back to my knees. “Joseph, alright! He’s from Arimathea! He’s on the Jerusalem Council!”
“Can you confirm that?”
“We can go talk to him now!”
The man put his dagger back into his cloak and he helped me off the ground. He also dusted me off. “I’m sorry about the confusion,” he said. “There’s a lot of insurrectionists around. They always cause trouble around Passover. Can never be too safe, ya know?”
I wiped the blood from my mouth. “Indeed.”
“Alright, well you take care now,” the man said.
He walked up to the edge of the alley, looked to his left and right, and disappeared back into the city streets.
“It is the King’s wish that your three female crew members join his harem. In exchange, we will grant you land rights on Ishnar, allowing you to remain here permanently,” Hazov declared to me in front of the Royal Council.
“What if they deny the King’s wish?” I retorted.
“Then you and your crew will be asked to leave.”
“Hazov, I can’t make them do anything. Those three crew members are distinguished women in their own right. I do not own them.”
“Those are the conditions on which you may stay on Ishnar.”
“Unacceptable,” I said, “I am responsible for the safety and well-being of my crew. Under no conditions would they submit to this demand.”
Hazov then whispered to one of the advisers. They convened privately for a few moments. “Alright,” Hazov finally spoke up, “then the King will accept one of your female officers for his harem: Commander Mwangi.”
I tried to hide the anger boiling beneath. “Under Space Fleet guidelines,” I responded, “we are ordered to respect the customs of extraterrestrial cultures. But I cannot submit my crew these demands, not without discussing it with them first. Please allow me to return to the Sagan where I will meet with my crew.”
“Of course, Captain.”
I was bluffing. I knew the crew wouldn’t agree to these terms but I needed time to find other options.
When I returned to the Sagan, Dr. Jackass pulled me aside. “Valdez is indeed pregnant,” he said, “we ran a DNA test and the father is Smashhouse. Yah was correct.”
“Fuck me running!” I replied.
I went underground to meet with Yah again. The guards refused to let me through. “Look,” I told one of them, “Hazov has granted me unrestricted access to Yah.”
“We need an explanation for your visit,” the guard said.
“I just need to go over with Yah the court proceedings on Earth should he stand trial,” I replied. “That’s all.”
“I need to confirm this with Hazov.”
“Don’t waste your time, Hazov’s time, and my time. You’re being ridiculous.”
We had a stare down for a few moments before he let me through. Another guard escorted me to Yah’s chamber.
“Can we have some privacy please?” I asked the guard. When he was out of earshot, Yah spoke up.
“I knew you’d be back,” he said.
“Of course you did.”
“We got off on the wrong foot Captain. But I can help you with your problem.”
“What is my problem?”
“Your ship doesn’t work and you can’t stay on Ishnar.”
“So? Maybe I can find another corner of this planet for my crew to live on.”
“The King of Ishnar rules this entire planet. If he ever found you and your crew, he would kill all of you. Face it: the customs of Ishnar is incompatible with Earth’s. You know this to be true.”
“How can you help me then? Can you fix thrusters, hydrogen drives, and hibernation chambers?”
“Through me, all things are possible.”
“Do you agree to do this?”
“You have my word, Captain.”
“What about Earth? It’s gone. Can you help us rebuild the planet?”
“I’ve only ever wanted what’s best for humanity.”
“Okay then. If you go back on your word, I will not hesitate to eject you into outer space where you’ll spend eternity in your chamber.”
“My powers are limited in this chamber. The only way I can repair your ship is if you release me from it.”
Son of a bitch, he was right. I knew he was right. And he knew that I knew he was right. We were playing each other. I had to make a choice.
I called the guard over. “Bring Yah’s chamber to the surface,” I ordered. “We’re bringing him back to Earth.”
“Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear hellfire,” I informed the crew. “The Sagan’s communication beacon has been pinging mission control for the last 50 years, ever since we entered hibernation stasis. We haven’t received a response back. It is safe to assume that all nuclear powers on Earth have indeed initiated Mutually Assured Destruction, leaving the planet in a radiated mess, meaning it won’t be safe to return there for the next 250 years.”
“279 years to be precise,” Dr. Jackass interrupted.
“In all likelihood,” I continued, “we are the last remaining members of Space Fleet, and possibly the last Earthlings.”
The crew looked at one another.
“When did you learn about this?” Valdez asked.
“Not long after we departed Tranquility Bay,” I replied.
“So we could have aborted the mission, returned to Earth, and Smashhouse would still be alive,” Valdez retorted.
“My orders were to continue with the mission and initiate population measures on the planet orbiting Tau Ceti. We have a responsibility not only to Space Fleet, but to humanity as well, to maintain our race.”
Valdez threw up her hands in frustration. “What about our responsibilities to the people of Earth?!” she cried, then stormed out of the briefing room.
Patel spoke up. “What about that ‘God’ thing?” he asked.
“Patel, you don’t seem to be too disturbed about this news,” I said.
“Sir, I’m in Space Fleet. We all knew the risks when we signed up.”
I nodded. “Forget about the ‘God’ situation. The being they have captured underground is indeed an intelligent life form, but I believe its intentions are deceptive. In my assessment, it’s too dangerous to bring it on this ship and back to Earth. Therefore, that thing, whatever it is, is the Ishnarian’s problem. I believe our best course of action is to remain here, under the good will of the Ishnarians.”
“Sir,” Hanson interrupted. “I’m in agreement with Valdez. We must return to Earth and assist in recovery efforts.”
“Hanson,” I said, “there may be nothing to return to. And that’s to say nothing about surviving hibernation stasis.”
“Earth is our home sir! We must do something!”
“Now I am the captain! And my orders are to remain here. Is that clear?”
“How can you be a captain when there is no Space Fleet?!” Hanson said and left the room in protest.
“I guess the meeting’s adjourned then,” I said. As everyone left the room, I pulled the Doctor aside. “Check on Valdez,” I told him. “Confirm that she’s pregnant. Run a medical exam if need be. We need to investigate the veracity of Yah’s claims.”
I returned to my quarters and pulled out a bottle of bourbon. There was a knock on the door. “May I speak with you sir?” the voice asked.
It was Mwangi.
After my encounter with Yah, I had been reluctant to make eye contact with her. I took a big swig from the bottle and invited her in.
“What can I do for you Commander?” I asked.
“Sir, I didn’t want to bring this up in front of the crew,” Mwangi said, “but launch thrusters are blown in addition to the hydrogen drive being depleted. And with hibernation chambers being iffy at best, it appears that we’re stuck here.”
I started to rub my temples. “I can’t believe that Space Fleet sent us up in this piece of shit,” I said. “Is there anything you can do?”
“It’s normally a simple refueling process,” she replied, “but because we’re on a planet stuck in the 14th Century, it might take decades before I could develop the materials to even begin the process. I’m sorry Captain.”
I sighed. “It’s not your fault Commander,” I said.
“I guess you can call me Nia now.”
“Can I offer you a drink Nia?”
“I would love one sir.”
“Please, call me Bill,” I said as I poured her a glass. After I handed it to her, she stared at it for awhile in deep thought.
“I also want to tell you that even though you’re the captain and have to maintain a stoic distance away from the crew,” Nia said, “I have supported your decisions 100%. And I know these last few days have been difficult for you. But you don’t have to be a stranger. You have my support.”
“A captain is only as good as his crew, specifically his Chief Engineer,” I joked.
“Then you must not be a very good captain,” she laughed.
“Nonsense,” I said, “I’m thankful to have your support.”
There was an awkward silence for a few moments as we sipped our drinks. Finally, Nia smiled and spoke up. “So how are you going to spend the rest of your days on this planet?”
“Honestly, I haven’t thought about it,” I laughed. “I guess I’ll be a farmer. There’s nothing else to do on this forsaken planet.”
Nia leaned forward to touch my hand. “I could be a farmer’s wife,” she said.
I clasped onto her hand. “Now I just need to talk to the Ishnarians,” I replied.
“So you cast God into hell?” I asked Hazov as we were descending deep into the surface of Ishnar in an elevator.
“That’s one way of putting it,” he responded. “But be warned though: Yah can still read your thoughts. We have yet developed the technology to block that ability. Other than that, he is completely contained within the chamber.”
“How does this chamber work?” Dr. Jackass asked.
“The walls of the chamber itself is reinforced with titanium-like nano tubing. This prevents porous openings all the way down to the quantum foam level. Even God can’t penetrate past that micro surface,” Hazov said.
“Fascinating,” The Doctor replied. “How did you obtain this technology? Forgive me, but technology on Earth appears to be beyond that of Ishnar and yet we haven’t developed those capabilities.”
“This technology was given to us by the ‘God Species’, as your captain calls it. This is why our technological capabilities appear to be so uneven.”
“Indeed, your culture appears to be from the Middle Ages of Earth, yet you’re using interplanetary radios, plasma weapons, and advanced forms language translation.” the Doctor said.
“Doctor,” I interrupted, “you’re about to meet God…or the first CONFIRMED alien life…and this is what you’re interested in?”
“Captain, I understand that you’re nervous, but it is part of Space Fleet’s mission to study extraterrestrial cultures.”
I rolled my eyes.
Finally the elevator stopped roughly 8 km underground. As we walked through the corridor to Yah’s holding area, Hazov continued to brief us. “A transparent piece of aluminum will allow you to see into the chamber,” he said. “Yah can take any form he chooses, but it’s only a mirage. While he can read your thoughts, you cannot communicate telepathically. You will have to speak with him over the monitors, and he will do the same for you.”
When we reached the guards holding large plasma rifles, Hazov stopped us and pinned a device onto Dr. Jackass and me. “This is just a precaution,” he stated, “but Yah is highly radioactive. The chamber should contain the radiation, but should any leak, this device will absorb it.”
Hazov could see I was shaking nervously. “Captain, you’ll be fine,” he said to me, “sure Yah played a big part in our histories. But he’s not actually God. While his material is not fully understood, insofar as we can tell he is made of normal matter just like you and me. He can’t hurt you. So don’t let him get to you.”
Hazov smiled and patted me on the shoulder. Then the doctor and I proceeded past the guards. We were escorted down a long corridor, where there at the very end was a large square chamber with a medium-sized window revealing a radiant orange glow inside.
I walked up to the window. But I couldn’t tell anything discerning inside, other than the orange mist. “Can he hear me?” I asked one of the guards.
He nodded. Then I opened my mouth.
“I am Captain William Kananga of the USV Carl Sagan. My first officer here is Dr. Sergei Jackass. We are members of Space Fleet representing Earth: a planet that I believe you are familiar with.”
Moments went by and there was no response. I looked back to the guard. “Are you sure he can hear me?” I asked him.
Then a strange voice came over the monitor.
“I know who you are,” the voice said. It wasn’t a deep voice, certainly not one I would associate with God. But it had resonance.
“Of course,” I replied. “I understand that you wish to return to Earth. What is your past associations there?”
“Siddhartha Gautama, Moshes, Mohammed, Yeshua: the Carpenter of Nazareth,” the voice replied.
“I’m afraid that I’m unfamiliar with Moshes.”
“You know him as Moses. I gave him the Ten Commandments.”
“Right. That’s why he was glowing as he came down Mt. Sinai. He was exposed to high levels of radiation.”
“That’s why I said that no man can see my face and live. I gave mankind scriptures to protect them from themselves.”
“Unfortunately those scriptures have been used to justify hate, discrimination, and war for thousands of years.”
“Yes, but humankind were savages when I found them. I gave them the power of reasoning to help them grow. Evolve.”
“What good that did them. What about the Holocaust? Nuclear war?”
“I had nothing to do with that. If I was permitted to stay on Earth, I could have prevented all of that.”
“You seem to want to take credit for humanity’s successes but want to evade responsibility for all of its ills and your failure in preventing them. Even your own “scriptures” make you look like the bad guy.”
“Mistakes were made, of course. And I’m prepared to answer for those. But humanity needs me now, more than ever. Earth has been destroyed in a nuclear war, has it not?”
I looked over to a concerned Dr. Jackass and back to the chamber. “I know what you’re trying to do,” I said to Yah. “But you’re not God. You’re not an all powerful, all loving deity. You’re a charlatan that wonders from planet to planet, taking advantage of vulnerable species.”
“I know that you beat off to Commander Mwangi this morning,” Yah said.
“What’s that got to do with anything?”
“She’s going to have your child, ya know?” Yah continued. “You will be a better father to it than you ever were to the son you left behind on Earth to die in those nuclear bombs.”
“Commander Valdez is pregnant too. The late Commander Smashhouse is the father…”
“You’re not benevolent,” I interrupted. “You’re a sick, sad, and lonely being. Not worthy of our worship.”
“I am Alpha and Omega. The Beginning and the End. I shall have no other gods before me!” Yah declared as the orange glow morphed into a mirage of my late son.
“I’ve listened to enough of this hubris,” I said then stormed out of the corridor. As I walked passed the guards, I threw off the radiation device.
“Captain, are you all right?” the Doctor asked as he ran up behind me.
“What happened?” Hazov asked.
“Hazov, my recommendation is to sling that fucking thing in there right into the sun,” I said, then stormed into the elevator. Hazov and Jackass rushed in behind me. “Take me back to the surface!”
The two men were silent as I tried to cool down. As the elevator ascended, the doctor touched me on the arm.
“So you’re telling me that God is actually a gas being…as opposed to a liquid and solid being like we are…comprised of mostly radon and xenon IN ADDITION to an energy source fundamental to the universe that has yet been discovered? So he’s basically a floating brain that can disappear and reappear through subspace, thus giving the appearance of being omnipotent and omnipresent. But he is actually locally bound by gravity, just like normal matter in the universe?” I asked Hazov.
“That is correct.”
“That’s crazy. If he’s gas and can disappear into subspace, then how did you capture him?”
“He’s not the only one ya know? We had help from members of his species. This particular “God”, as you call him, has been on the run for millennia. After we rebelled against Yah, as we call him, we were discovered by this particular alien race and they helped us capture him. This race of beings, or “gods” if you will, instructed us to put Yah on trial for his crimes against humanity. He was found guilty and placed within an inescapable gas chamber deep beneath the surface. The Gods recommended that we reach out to Earthlings, so that Yah can face his crimes there.”
“Why didn’t they reach out to us directly?”
“The Gods have a strict “no-interaction” policy with humans, a rule which Yah broke and the Gods temporarily suspended, which is why they helped us capture him.”
“I don’t know Hazov. If what you’re saying is true, there’s is no one alive today on Earth that could testify against him.”
“The Gods feel that there is no statute of limitations on such crimes. They’ve also provided evidence.”
“No court on Earth would accept this case. There’s no precedent and no direct testimony.”
“On the contrary. Yah is prepared to return to Earth to answer for his crimes.”
“He wants to right his wrongs.”
I laughed and threw up my hands. “In the last 20 minutes, I learned that there are humans on another planet and that God exists…in fact, MULTIPLE Gods exist…and this particular God was actually the Devil and he wants to repent. None of this sounds real. And besides, how did you guys get to Ishna? Are Earthlings descended from you, or are you descended from Earthlings?” I asked.
“We are descendants from the followers of Yah on Earth. The Gods were onto Yah’s activities there and he had to go on the run. A number of his followers went with him on a crude starship 1500 years ago, and that’s when they discovered this planet.”
“Why did the people of Ishna turn on him?”
“He was a tyrant. He stated that there should be no other gods before him. Strangely everyone assumed that he was the ONLY god. But this came under question by my grandfather, who challenged Yah’s authority. Yah was about to bring a plague onto Ishna for retribution but the Gods caught up with him. His rule was toppled, he was brought to trial, and then he was imprisoned.”
“What happened this God alliance that was after Yah?”
“They disappeared as mysteriously as they appeared.”
I rubbed my forehead. I was starting to have a headache. “So can I visit with Yah?” I asked.
“You can meet with him whenever you’re ready,” Hazov replied.
“I’m not ready,” I replied. “I must meet with my crew first.”
“Take your time.”
I returned to the Sagan and summoned the crew. “If you have religious convictions, I have some good news and bad news,” I said. “Good news is God exists. Bad news is he’s imprisoned on this planet.”
Patel and Hanson were shocked. “The fuck your talking about, Captain?” Patel asked.
“God’s an evil bastard apparently,” I replied. “He tortured the people of Earth and the people of this planet. But he’s wanting to change his ways and is prepared to face the people of Earth. Plus there are humans on this planet too.”
Everyone was confused. “How do you know they’re telling the truth?” Hanson asked.
“Well I just talked to the humans,” I replied. “As for other part, there’s only one way to find out: I’m gonna go talk to God.”
“Dear God,” I prayed, “we’ve never talked before. Mostly because I’m pissed off at you for doing nothing about Earth’s suffering. But I have no one else to turn to. So if you are a just God, I pray that you keep this crew safe as we enter into uncharted waters. Honestly, I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m a lost soul drifting among the stars. Give me the strength of courage. Give me the wisdom I need to guide this crew. Amen.”
Right then, Commander Mwangi entered my quarters. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to disturb your prayer sir,” she said.
“I wasn’t praying,” I replied. “I was uh…I was beating off. You know, masturbating until ejaculation?”
“I thought you said your dick don’t work. You told the whole crew.”
“Well I like to cum soft. What do you have for me?”
“This is the full report on the condition of the Sagan.” She then handed me a tablet. “While she’s holding now, the hydrogen drive might not survive a return trip to Earth. I also report that we have cleared the Astroid Belt and are approaching Jupiter. The hibernation chambers are now fully functional.”
“Very good Commander. Thank you.”
I departed for the bridge where I found Dr. Jackass marveling at Jupiter. “What a sight,” he said.
“Doctor, we were here three weeks ago,” I replied.
“I know, but this planetary beauty never ceases to amaze me.”
I nodded. “Assemble the crew,” I ordered.
The crew gathered in the hibernation section, ready to be briefed. “We will be hibernation stasis for the next 50 years. During that time the hydrogen drive will slowly pick up speed. Eventually we’ll be traveling near the speed of light,” I stated. “Once we’ve arrived at Tau Ceti, braking thrusters will fire and we will be awakened from hibernation. Have a nice long rest.”
The crew and myself then began dressing down into our undergarments. This predictably caused a stir. “Damn Patel! Does that hog have a rank of its own?” Smashhouse joked, referring to Patel’s abnormally large penis protruding through his shorts. He then looked over to Hansen. “Hey Liz! Nice tits!”
“Commander Smashhouse,” I interrupted, “behave yourself. You’re a Space Fleet officer.”
“Pardon me sir,” he replied, “hibernation makes me a little nervous.”
After he said that, I began to admire Mwangi’s body in her Space Fleet issued underwear. That’s all I could think about when I climbed into my chamber. I began to wonder if my partial erection would stay throughout hibernation stasis. Wouldn’t that have been something? A guy that hadn’t had a boner in nearly 10 years would now have a permanent one for the next 50.
It probably would have been a record.
50 years later…
Unfortunately the boner didn’t last. But I figured that I’d get it next time.
The crew slowly woke up and climbed out of their chambers. Everyone except Smashhouse.
“What’s going on?” I asked Dr. Jackass.
“It appears sir that Smashhouse didn’t make it. He died during stasis.”
The crew was stunned. Valdez began to cry. This was my first death after 20 years in command.
“Funeral will be held at 1500 hours,” I said. “Everyone please attend.”
Dr. Jackass placed Smashhouse’s body in a makeshift casket and draped the flag of Space Fleet over it. The casket was put into the the jettison chamber where it was waiting to be released.
“Unfortunately I didn’t know Commander Smashhouse for long,” I said at his eulogy. “He dedicated his life to the service of Earth and the exploration of space. This crew loved him and his presence will be sorely missed. He was a brave man.”
Dr. Jackass then readied the chamber.
“From the cosmos whence we came. To the cosmos we shall return.”
Commander Smashhouse’s casket was then released into the vast, empty void beyond.
After the funeral, Mwangi and her two engineers began work on fixing the stasis chamber. “I can’t guarantee that this won’t happen again,” Mwangi said to me. “It’s going to take a long time before we can get these chambers fully calibrated.”
“You have all the time you need,” I replied, then patted her on the shoulder.
Dr. Jackass approached me alone as I was walking towards the bridge. “When are you going to tell the crew about Earth?” he asked.
“Doctor, they just lost a fellow crew member. Now’s not the time.”
“Don’t wait too long.”
As I came onto the bridge, Valdez announced that we were approaching the fourth planet from Tau Ceti…our destination.
It’s resemblance was strikingly similar to Earth’s.
“Send out a message on the same frequency as the extraterrestrial transmission. Let it state: ‘Your message has been received. We come from Earth and are currently orbiting your planet to establish peaceful communication. Please respond.’”
Valdez relayed the transmission and the bridge stood silent until we received a response.
Moments later, a message was coming in through the computer. What appeared to me as gibberish, Dr. Jackass gawked at in amazement. “My god,” he said.
“This appears to be a mix of Hebrew and possibly other Sumerian languages. Whatever it is, it’s definitely an Indo-European language.”
“How’s that possible? Can you decode it?”
“Running it through the computer now,” the Doctor said. He typed away frantically until the results were in. “I have it, sir. These are coordinates. A diplomatic party will be there waiting on us.”
“These guys don’t fuck around,” I said. “Alright, assemble the crew and initiate landing procedures.”
Everybody was gathered together once again. At that moment, I hadn’t yet processed the gravity of the situation. “Shortly we will begin landing on this planet, whatever the occupants call it,” I said to the crew. “You need not worry: surface conditions are extremely Earth-like. Dignitaries will be there to greet us when we land. The Doctor and I are both trained in diplomacy, and we handle this situation. Please be on your best behavior. Now strap in, we will be on the surface shortly.”
I sat on the bridge while Valdez steered the ship towards the surface. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. This planet was like a second Earth.
Finally we landed on a prairie-like terrain. I walked towards the back of the ship with the Doctor where the bay doors were. I took a deep breath. “Open the doors,” I said.
We proceeded down the lowering platform, and there waiting on us were 15 humans. I was puzzled by this, but I pushed forward with the plan.
The Doctor and I walked up to the man in front. “I am Captain William Kananga. And this is my first officer, Dr. Sergei Jackass. We are members of Earth’s Space Fleet. We come in peace.”
The man smiled. “I am Hazov. And welcome to Ishna.”
He spoke perfect English.
“How can you understand us?” I asked.
“We were able to decipher your language by monitoring your communications.”
“Please Captain, we will go over all the details in time. But first, you must know why we invited you here.”
“We have undergone a massive revolution in the last 100 of your Earth years. We have taken control of Ishna by overcoming a being that both our planets are familiar with. We want to offer you a chance to bring to justice a Being so powerful that he forever altered your history.”
“I don’t understand.”
“We are offering you what was once called the One…Adonai…God.”
To avoid alienating my audience with discussions on politics that are completely boring and academic, I’ve decided to make a return to fiction.
Once again, I will challenge myself by writing in a genre that I’ve never done before. This time HARD science fiction (if you know what I mean 😉) a la Arthur C. Clarke, albeit in first person because that’s the only way I know how to write.
And instead of descending into pure action schlock, as my stories tend to do, I will try to end this one on a hopeful note.
Per usual, I will be winging it and make no guarantees that it will be good.
“Fuck space!” I said to my executive officer while we were docking at Space Station Tranquility Bay orbiting earth. “This will be my last mission, so help me GOD!”
“You said that 5 missions ago, Bill,” the XO replied. “Personally, I love it out here. It truly is a never ending frontier.”
“Speak for yourself, Jackass!”
Dr. Sergei Jackass and I served together for 15 years. I was a military man. He was trained astrophysicist from some dump of a university in east Europe. We came from two different worlds, but together we made one hell of a team.
After our ship, the USV Jim Varney, completed docking maneuvers, Dr. Jackass and I were ordered to meet with Admiral Stockdale for debriefing.
“Captain Kananga, I trust that your mission was a success,” the Admiral said.
“Yes sir,” I replied, “the two years studying the black hole around Uranus was money well spent.”
“We gathered all the sufficient data sir,” Dr. Jackass interjected.
“Good. You men will have a fortnight’s rest and then report USV Carl Sagan for your next mission.”
“Wait a minute, sir,” I said, “with all due respect, there’s a reason why the Sagan is called the Starship of the Imagination: because your imagination is the only thing that works on that piece of shit. If you want to send me into deep space in that thing, then you can have my resignation.”
“Captain Kananga, I understand that you want to be on the front lines in the war in North Africa, but this is important. We need you out here.”
“What can be more important than fighting for peace and democracy?”
“Because this information is classified, I was going to wait until you reported to the Sagan. But I will tell you now. We have received a strange transmission from a planet orbiting Tau Ceti.”
“Admiral,” I said, “I’ve been on one end of the Solar System to the other, and let me tell ya: there ain’t no aliens.”
“Space Fleet Command disagrees. STRONGLY,” the Admiral replied, “take a look at this report.”
The Admiral handed me a folder filled with charts and graphs I didn’t understand. “You know I can’t read this shit,” I said, “I’m a soldier, not a mathematician.”
Dr. Jackass took the paperwork and was stunned. “My god,” he said, “Captain, this is for real this time.”
I paused and rubbed my face. “Tau Ceti is over four light years away,” I said, “there’s no way the Sagan could make that kind of journey.”
“The Sagan has been updated and outfitted with all the necessary technology for interstellar travel,” the Admiral added. “We need you Captain. Damn it Bill. We need you. BADLY.”
The Admiral extended his hand.
“Okay Admiral,” I said as I shook his hand, “one more mission.”
I celebrated my birthday while on leave. I was somberly drinking myself into oblivion when Dr. Jackass stopped by my London flat.
“Doctor, I don’t want to be lectured,” I said.
“All I said was ‘happy birthday.’”
“With all the heavy interstellar objects that we’ve spent so much time around, we’ve aged so much slower than people on Earth. I’m the same age as my son now! Nobody told me that was gonna happen!”
“Is this about not being able to fight in the war?”
I took another drink. “I don’t know doc,” I said. “I feel like I’ve let so much time on Earth pass. This planet’s gone to shit and I’ve been wasting time flying around space doing nothing about it. The resources dedicated to Space Fleet could have been redirected to fight this war. I feel useless. Old.”
The doctor poured himself a glass of Irish Whiskey. “Captain, I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye,” he said, “but the exploration of space is Earth’s destiny. War is a machine of humanity’s past. It’s time to put childish things away and build a future.”
“Dr. Jackass, you’re an idealist. I’m a realist. We don’t live in the future. We live in the present. And presently I’m drunk as shit, depressed, and want to kill people.”
“You’re too short sighted.”
“No, I see the universe for what it is: a vast empty wasteland, void of any meaning or God. And if there is a God, he has to answer for creating this shitty planet. I swear.”
As we settle into the Cold War II and the ever present threat of nuclear war, it’s time to look at the silver lining: we might get better movies.
One thing I miss from the first Cold War is character study films of the 1970s. They should make more movies that look into the depraved lives of ordinary people in an uncritical manner. I’m sure they still make em but they’re probably shit.
Jack Nicholson was the king of these movies back in the day. Perhaps the best example being Five Easy Pieces.
I’ve decided to get back to my roots and start building up my Criterion Collection. So I recently purchased Five Easy Pieces along with Paris, Texas (The only time I saw Paris, Texas when I stayed up late and watched HBO when I was 10 years old. It blew me the fuck away. I had a weird childhood).
When you have a toddler running around that gets PISSED if you watch anything other than Blippi, it’s hard to find time to watch these movies. But I got far enough into Five Easy Pieces to watch one of my favorite scenes in film history: Sally Strothers’ random heartbreaking monologue on being forsaken by God.
The essay pamphlet that accompanies the Five Easy Pieces blu ray is pretty good. Apparently this early 70s state of being, where everyone’s fucked-upness was a given…and people talked while others listened…is an existence that’s no longer.
So it’s refreshing to look back at a time that was no less deranged, but far less judgmental.