The ‘Thrill Pill’ Man’s Gamble

 

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2194 – New York City

For the first time in mankind’s history, there were no wars on earth.

Peace reigned, thanks to technological advances and genetics. Poverty no longer existed. There was enough food and housing for all. There was one worldwide government led by a president who served a 10-year term.

Crime was non-existent. The factors that led to crime were eliminated from the collective DNA of most of the people on earth through 100 years of genetic engineering. But not all of them.

There were the unaffected, whose DNA was post 100-years ago pure Homo sapiens. They experienced emotional ups and downs, unlike the rest of the sedated world population. These outcasts lived in the fringes of the cities.

In the sewer systems and old subway tunnels mostly, but also in the massive landfills.

Above ground, as each person drove or walked to work, there was strict order. Routines ingrained in each brain. No road rage. No late trains. No violent crime. No guns or weapons of any kind.

Romance was gone, replaced by a passionless urge to procreate. There were no sports teams. There was no competition anywhere in the new global society. Conversations were casual and without complaints. Everyone had a place in the new world order.

Everyone but the outcasts, of course.

Despite being outcasts, they had a functioning society of their own. It wasn’t always pretty, but was crudely effective. In it, there were scientists who managed to operate in temporary labs located in the long abandoned subway tunnels.

The New York outcasts had no way of knowing if there were others like them hiding in cities around the world. Their world was defined by underground tunnels and landfills. If they were caught above ground they’d be gently restrained, their DNA tested, and then executing by lethal injection.

Among those scientists was a man named, Abraham Orlins, who was considered the most intelligent and creative among them. After years of experimenting, Abraham came up with a “thrill pill.”

It was part of his, and his colleagues master plan, to regain their place above ground once more. The pills, that only worked on humans missing certain DNA markers, were a one-hour realistic, exciting, experience that left the taker forever changed.

The emotional charge was addicting. Just like he knew it would be.

The pills were water-soluble allowing them to be used two ways; swallowed whole, or dissolved in a liquid.

After discussing the pill’s properties, the small group of scientists decided to put the first batch into the city’s water system. The complex system relied on a combination of tunnels, aqueducts, and reservoirs to meet the city’s daily needs.

Abraham and one of his colleagues, Clive Warner, were picked to deliver “Abe’s Thrill Pills” as they were darkly dubbed, to the nearest reservoir. As soon as it was dark outside they surfaced and headed for the reservoir.

Just before the sun rose, the two men returned, tired but triumphant.

It took longer than they thought. They observed the daily traffic above for several days before the first incident happened.

A speeding car slammed into the rear end of a delivery truck. Both drivers got out of their vehicles and fought like two honey-badgers to the horror of the onlookers!

By the next day, traffic was no longer flowing. The streets were clogged with abandoned vehicles. Arguments and fights broke out in the boardrooms of the skyscrapers and in the grocery stores.

As visitors came to New York and were exposed to the water, they didn’t want to leave. A growing awareness among the residents that it was the water which gave them their thrills resulted in entrepreneurs bottling it and selling it worldwide.

No one knew how to stop the spread of growing violence. Armed groups of angry men were seen beating and robbing innocent people. On the other hand, passion and romance attracted everyone – angry or not.

Abraham continued to pour his Thrill Pills into the waterways, and even managed to get them to people who were happy to sell them for profit. One entrepreneur passed them out as party favors during a government function for members of the new world order and the President.

Excitement grew among the underground community of New York. Abraham and the scientists had come forward and told them what was happening.

“Soon, my brothers and sisters, we’ll be welcomed with open arms and will assume our place above ground, the way it was intended to be,” Abraham assured the underground community.

Six months later the first nuke hit New York City.

As It Stands, my cynicism about humanity often creeps into these short narratives.

A Cautionary Tale: Immigrants From Earth

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When the first of the immigrant ships from Earth arrived on Mars there wasn’t too much concern on the inhabitant’s part.

There was plenty of room on the planet. The Martians themselves were a peaceful species divided up into tribes that answered to a Supreme Council. The leaders of the Council met with the earthlings shortly after they landed.

The Captain of the ship, Lance Elliot, told the Martians that Earth was no longer safe to live on. It was badly polluted and climate change was creating havoc on every continent of the world.

Volcanos, earthquakes, drought, flooding, and wars were killing millions of people every day Captain Elliot explained.

We are immigrants who just want a chance to live in peace,” he concluded.

“What of our atmosphere? It’s deadly to you earthlings,” one of the leaders asked.

That’s true, but we have brought materials, and the technology, to build a dome with an ecosphere we could live in,” Captain Elliot countered.

Let us meet again tomorrow at this place. We must go home and discuss this matter further now.”

The next day.

Once the translator transmission signal was established between the two groups again, the Supreme Leader spoke,

We have given much thought to your request. We have been aware of your activities for hundreds of years. We don’t want the same scourges to destroy our world. Having said that, we have decided to let you stay for a trial period of twenty years.

You will be required to clean up your own messes and not pollute our planet. No military weapons will be allowed. We hope you will be good neighbors, and you can count on us to do our best to have friendly relations.

Know this, we are two different species, and the chance for misunderstandings is great. We must be honest with one another. We will leave you now to build your new home. You can always reach us through the communications signal we have established.

Peace.”

Captain Elliot and his officers returned to the ship and gave the order to start unloading their supplies.

More immigrants continued to arrive on Mars. They were from nations around the earth. They all accepted the terms the Martians presented. Each new community selected a leader whose task was to maintain good relations with other immigrant communities and the Martians.

Deep below the Martian crust, there were three immense cities housing millions. The one thing the Martian leaders were adamant about was there would be no contact between themselves and the earthlings.

Only leaders, would meet with their leaders in pre-arranged spots on the surface. The two populations weren’t going to mix. The earthlings were never going to see where they lived.

Years passed by peacefully. The great experiment, as some leaders called it, was going very well. Better than expected. Millions of earthlings relocated successfully there.

One day, a dome community that called itself Little Italy discovered a network of tunnels just outside of the dome area. Two miners went deeper underground than was agreed on in the Mining Provisions for Natural Resources Act signed two decades ago.

The miners didn’t have to go too far into the main tunnel before they stumbled upon ancient Martian funeral artifacts. Statues, fine pottery, and solid rock coffins were all carefully arranged to celebrate the dead.

When the two miners returned to the dome they brought death with them. Deadly ancient spores clung to their spacesuits, even after the decontamination process. The next day when people started dying, the leader of Little Italy went to the nearest dome community and warned them about a mysterious sickness that struck them.

That warning was passed on to all of the other communities by their leaders. Within two days every earthling on Mars was dead, thanks to the leaders who unwontedly spread the invisible death.

When the Martians saw what happened, they weren’t surprised.

As It Stands, mankind didn’t deserve a second chance after destroying the earth.

 

 

 

Global Warming Affects Hell

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The devil was furious! Hell was frozen over!

Tortured souls were no longer being burned in hellfires because they were snuffed out by freezing temperatures.

The volcanos stop spewing lava, and became encrusted in ice.

Lost souls were having a good time skating on the ice that formed over the rivers of fire throughout hell.

What made it especially galling for the devil was that it was all his own doing that caused the situation!

For decades, he worked with his minions on earth to infiltrate governments and to cause as much havoc as possible. One of the devil’s pet projects was convincing gullible humans that they weren’t polluting the planet, and that climate change was fake news.

He hand-picked, pliable, politicians told people global warming was just an excuse to hold back progress.

All the politicians had to do was deny facts, sell their souls, and make sure fossil fuels continued to spew into the atmosphere unabated.

For eons, the devil’s tactics bore fruit and the planet became so polluted people could no longer eat fish from the ocean or rivers. Gray blankets of smoke smothered cities from New Delhi, India to Los Angeles, California.

The smog became so thick people could taste it. Those who could afford it wore stylish gas masks, while the poor had none.

The oceans rose eight-feet in some parts of the world, leaving places like Florida little more than half the land size it had two decades ago. The east and west coasts of the United States were completely reconfigured by the rising waters.

Massive rogue electrical storms in the sky and stratosphere made plane travel treacherous. Intense heat spurred fires across the globe. Water tables dried up in heavily populated desert areas like Palm Springs, California.

But in hell, the changes were welcomed by the suffering souls. The parts of hell that didn’t freeze over were warm with tropical climates, lush fruit trees, and plants.

The devil had outsmarted himself.

As It Stands, I always thought the devil and global warming might have a connection.

The Martians Last Stand

 

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The underground city of Atoish, Mars – circa 3088.

A group of top Martian scientists and elders are gathered for one purpose; to save the planet.

For eons, their scientists tracked movements in the Milky Way. They observed strange spacecraft coming from the solar systems other planets.

Most explorers avoided Mars rugged desert landscape, but some came near enough to make close-up observations.

It was only a matter of time before someone discovered the artfully disguised tunnels leading underground.

When the first space craft landed on Mars in 3091, it was from Earth. Two earthlings exploring the terrain stumbled upon a tunnel entrance surrounded by boulders. The Martians greeted them warmly, and took them to their capital City of Atoish.

The earthlings told the Grand Council that they came in peace and were explorers from the planet Earth. It amused the Martians that the earthlings were so awed by the gems and precious metals they mined for ceremonial purposes.

Martian history books noted that one of the men, Major John Wayne Connors, was very greedy and lusted for Martian riches. He was caught stealing a bag of precious gems and the Grand Council immediately banned the earthlings from Mars for life.

Most historians agreed that letting them leave was the beginning of the end for Mar’s future. Historians that recorded the contact wrote that they should have killed them, and protected the secret of their presence on Mars. But that would have gone against their beliefs. Lives were more precious than riches.

Mars, unlike every other planet in the solar system, had never suffered the ravages of warfare. There were no warlords or armies. It’s inhabitants were peaceful and highly intelligent. It had always been so.

Two years after the earthlings were banned their Martians science had advanced to the point where they could send spy drones to all the planets, to observe their actions. Their advanced software allowed them to translate conversations.

After listening to communications from Earth for a year, the Grand Council gathered to see what they could do about the imminent invasion coming from Earth. They listened to how the governments of the world agreed on a joint expedition to loot Mar’s precious gems and minerals.

There were no weapons of war, or standing armies, on Mars. It was a planet blessed with peace for eons, and that was coming to an end. There was no way to resist an invasion fleet.

The elders had no doubt that they would slaughter the people so they made a drastic proposal; using their mining experience they would create earthquakes with their seismic knowledge that would go on forever.

Of course it meant death for all Martians, and their civilized society. But wasn’t that what they were already facing with the invasion? It was better than torture or captivity.

The Grand Council took a vote. All were in favor of the idea. Then the elders went out into the cities and small towns and told the people what was happening, giving them time to prepare for the end.

Two weeks after the Martians decision, the earthquakes began.

By the time the first invaders from earth arrived, the surface of the planet was too unstable to land on.

As It Stands, this is my take on human beings as the primary predators on earth…and possibly beyond.

The Dream Weavers of Druin

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Candlelight danced across the walls of the cavern, sending long shadows scurrying across its enormous length.  

The Dream Weavers of ancient Druin were chanting and swaying in unison. Their high voices, shrill and clear, reverberated off the sandstone walls.

Once in the chronicles of mankind, there was a great city in Egypt called Druin.

It was located in Keme (what the Egyptians called their country), and was the home of the Dream Weavers when mankind was still wearing animal skins and learning about the properties of fire.

They interpreted people’s dreams, and gave them dreams of hope. They were also known for giving good advise on any subject. They lived in perfect harmony with man and nature. Their engineering skills were far beyond any earthling’s ability.

No one knew where they came from. The ancient texts disagree on a couple of possibilities. The prevailing consensus was the Dream Weavers were from the stars.

Unfortunately, Druin was destroyed by warring armies during the dawn of two great civilizations; the Egyptians and the Hittites out of Asia minor.

The survivors were forced to go underground into a series of caves located beneath the ruins. It wasn’t long before the desert claimed the ruins, leaving mounds of sand where great towers once stood.

But myths and legends kept the story of the Dream Weavers alive. Ancient Egyptian scholars called them gods. Wise men from around the world devoted their lives to searching for the ancient city of Druin.

November 9th, 2024

Alexandria, Egypt

Aatami Emam, was a 45-year old scholar who devoted years to researching the Dream Weavers, and the ancient city of Druin. As a member of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, he was in the perfect place to combine work, and his own personal goals.

Discovering Druin was the main goal in life. He had a good reason too.

He lived in troubled times. The first nuclear strikes wiped out North Korea, Guam, and Osaka, Japan. More followed as Russia, China, The United States, Iran, and Israel, launched their nukes.

Although a worldwide truce was currently called, there were no guarantees that hostilities wouldn’t suddenly flare up again. The punishment to the planet and millions of people was profound and permanent.

Aatami knew his chances of finding Druin were slim. Hundreds tried before him. Even if he discovered Druin that didn’t mean he’d find a way to contact the Dream Weavers who he prayed were still around.

There was no other way he could help mankind. Then, the answer came to him in a dream.

He saw the way to Druin, and when he got there he woke up the sleeping Dream Weavers! His dream was so real that he thought it actually happened. The next morning he started packing and called a Turkish friend, Iskander,  who was a guide for archeological digs.

It took three days to get to the right spot in Iskander’s land rover. By noon of the fourth day they discovered, just beneath the surface, the ruins of Druin.

“Did you bring the sticks of dynamite?” Aatami asked Iskander.

“I did effendi, although I must tell you they weren’t easy to get,” he replied.

From a safe distance, they watched as the earth rose momentarily in a mighty shower of sand. A gaping hole was revealed when the sand finally settled back down.

Both men were veteran adventurers. This wasn’t the first time they went in search of something. They tied ropes to the land rover and skillfully repelled down the opening.

There was shards of mosaic tile on the ground. Ignoring them, Aatami went straight for a partly uncovered statue of a bearded man from the waist up. Just like in his dream. He approached it reverently and touched the torch in the man’s hand.

The sandstone walls started to rumble and the men were scared for their lives. When it the earth stopped shaking, an opening on one side of the hole was revealed. A cave. Pulling out their flashlights, they went inside.

Hours later, they came to a larger cavern and saw three rows of sixty men sitting on thrones. Apparently asleep. They were perfectly preserved. They wore silk robes that were combinations of every color in the rainbow.

“Now we wait,” Aatami said, as he sat down. They soon fell asleep.

In the two men’s dreams they saw the Dream Weavers rise from their thrones chanting something in a shrill long-forgotten language.

The next morning when they woke up, they felt hopeful about things in general.

Aatami’s gift from the Dream Weavers was the ability to bring peace wherever he went. He was also granted the power to give healing dreams to people suffering, and to interrupt their dreams.

Iskander’s gift was the ability to solve any engineering challenges while staying at Aatami’s side as his defender.

As instructed, they hurried back to the land rover and didn’t look back when the desert dramatically engulfed the hole.

As It Stands, my variation of a dystopian future…but with hope.

The Outcast’s Fate

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He was cast from the planet Paradise because he questioned the authority of the Fifthe Lords.

Ohlan had dared to ask questions about other planets and civilizations, infuriating the Fifthe Lords who preached they were the only truly intelligent beings in six galaxies.

Other planets were considered to be stocked with inferior beings and cultures. The idea of mingling with inferior beings was not only repugnant, but could cause disunity among the Fifthe people who considered themselves gods.

They were immortal. No other species in six galaxies could make that claim. Their laws were rigid, formed before the dawn of other civilizations. But Ohlan defied the law when he secretly visited the Milky Way galaxy.

He wanted to see, first hand, the young planets and their inhabitants. The Fifthe Lords, already suspicious of Ohlan’s intentions, caught him in the act of visiting Saturn. It was enough to get him banned forever.

He could never came back to Paradise or the Gron Galaxy. His name was struck from the Hall of Records and his family were no longer allowed to say his name. Ohlan was banned to the primitive planet Earth.

His ability to transport to other solar systems was gone. He was taken to a vast desert on earth where there were little signs of life, and unceremoniously dumped without food or supplies.

Because he was immortal he wouldn’t die in the desert, but would be tortured by the blazing sun, hunger, and thirst.

Like all the residents of Paradise, Ohlan was a shape-shifter, and had the ability to take on any appearance he wanted. A caravan of camels and men came over a dune and approached Ohlan, who quickly morphed into the shape of a human.

The caravan halted a hundred yards away and the leader rode out alone to investigate why a man was standing naked in the middle of the desert. As he approached he could see Ohlan’s blistering skin.

“Greetings stranger!” the caravan leader called out as he drew near to Ohlan.

“What sad twist of fate has left you in such a bad condition brother?”

Ohlan had no idea what the earthling was saying. He studied his body language instead.

“Awww…I see. You do not speak our tongue. Enough questions then. Come with me, and I will clothe and feed you.”

The caravan leader nudged the camel who squatted down and allowed him to get off. Holding the reins, he gestured toward the caravan in the distance and indicated that Ohlan should follow him.

Two months later the caravan safely arrived in the city of Jerusalem. During the trip, Ohlan quickly learned to speak their language. The traders shared their history over camp fires, and potent barley beer.

But Ohlan didn’t stay there. His lust for travel drove him on. When he arrived in Egypt he was thrilled to see man-made crude giant mounds. He sought out the leaders of Giza and used his superior intelligence to teach them building techniques.

He watched proudly, as the Khufu Pyramid was built with the techniques he taught their engineers. It took the name Inhotep, and spent his time talking with Egyptian scholars and priests.

But the day came when Ohlan had the wanderlust again. He traveled to the Americas and spent time in Peru. He witnessed the ascension of the Moche people after the gradual demise of the Chavin culture.

Once again, he shared building secrets and other arts with the leaders and wise men.  He guided them in the construction of two giant structures, known thereafter as the Temple of the Sun (Huaca del Sol), and the Temple of the Moon (Huaca de la Luna).

As the centuries came and went, Ohlan moved from one culture to the next, sharing knowledge. In the annuals of time and earth history, he became known as The Traveler.

In fact however, he was just an outcast.

As It Stands, I like to explore what happens to individuals who go against the common norms.

The Curse of the Orionian Diamond

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From the Chronicles of Zartam

“And there was a great Lord who processed the biggest, most beautiful, diamond in the Milky Way solar system.

It came to pass that a warlord in the dune fields of Auroe heard about the famous diamond and lusted for it.

Rek Thronebolt, the ruler of the dunes of Auroe, gathered up other warlords from the wasted lands of Gattis and the forests of Turon. He promised them riches and slaves from the wealthy kingdom of Zan, whose king Zartam was rumoured to be getting old and weak.

The great war that followed ended in a deadly draw, as most of the participants were killed. Only a few stragglers from each side survived. Among them was King Zartam’s daughter, Zetrina, who pocessed the Orionian diamond.

She was a high priestess of Parek, a magical cult that worshipped truth and honesty. As such, she put a curse upon the diamond if a cheat or a liar tried to take it. Zetrina and three other priestess died a year later.

Hundreds of years passed, erasing the site of King Zartam’s castle under the shifting sands as the dune fields expanded.”

Transcribed by Lut Nore

On the Second Day of Hatar, 33098

Dar En Sun, Hyperion – One of 62 Moons surrounding Saturn

“Be careful how you handle that Actinolite Cat’s Eye necklace. It’s made from a rare gem from Earth, you dolts!”  the Museum’s curator, Nar Feh, grumbled.

He was running out of time. The intergalatic exhibition of rare and precious gems of the Milky Way, was coming to Oberon, the second largest moon orbiting Uranus. There were only three more zorts left, and he still didn’t have the Orionion Diamond.

It was slated to be the crown jewel of the show. Backers from two solar systems were financing the exhibition. They expected to see the Orionion Diamond. As a matter of fact, it was in the contract.

Nar Feh’s collection featured a brilliant assortment of gems from Actinolite Cat’s Eyes from Earth; Yellow Geodes from Neptune; Green Amethysts from Venus; Andalusite from Mercury with it’s changing colors; Dense Cassiterite from Uranus; Golden Chrysocolla from Jupiter; Stunning Blue Sapphires from Saturn; and Purple Rubies from Mars.

But thus far, no Orionian Diamond from Hyperion. The main attraction. All of Nar Feh’s hope was resting on the team he hired to get the fabled diamond.

The team from Mercury consisted of six people. All, but one, were experts on precious gems and minerals in three solar systems. Their combined education would fill the Great Library of Hroth Hor on Jupiter.

The sixth member, Dar Ben Toca, a famous jewel thief and noted adventurer in jail, was granted amnesty when he agreed to work with the team to locate the Orionion Diamond. Someone had put up a lot of xelks to pull that off.

The mission had to be completed before 12 zorts passed.

Hyperion was windy and cold year round. No living thing appeared to be left. The team, packing pounds of equipment, trudged through wastelands that were once fertile fields, and forests of colorful hard wood for nine zorts.

If it wasn’t for the discovery of the Chronicles of Zartam by the Hyperion scribe, Lut Nore, no one would have ever known about the great diamond, or the Kingdom of Zan. The moon’s history would have remained forever lost under the shifting sands of time.

Hyperion.

Tempers were getting short in the main tent one night. The five experts were busy blaming each other for their failure to locate the lost kingdom of Zan. Each had a vision of glory. Each dreamt of untold wealth and fame.

Alone, in his small tent, Dar Ben Toca took another hit off his pipe. The ingredient was a plant from Pluto, a weed with the wonderful power to ease a person’s mind from daily struggles.

Setting the long pipe down, he crawled out of the tent and stood up. The night sky was filled with stars glittering like diamonds. A shooting star streaked across the heavens. He walked away from the camp’s bright lights coming from the main tent.

It took a few moments to adjust his eyes to the difference in lighting. When he did, he was surprised to see what appeared to be a square rock sticking out from a sandy mound.

As he got closer he realized the mound was higher than he thought. Getting down on his knees, Dar Ben Toca started digging with his hands. In a short time it became obvious that he had discovered something important.

He had mixed reactions about his discovery. On one hand, he still had to go back to prison. His reward was getting 52 zorts off his 499 zort sentence. On the other hand, he could take his chances and grab some supplies and take off.

He might not survive long, but at least he would die free. The problem was he did swear an oath that he would return. He went back to his tent and curled up with his pipe. He’d sleep on it.

The next day, Dar Ben Toca led the team to the spot he’d discovered. After setting up the extraction loaders, and activating two robot diggers, they all watched as the fabled castle wall was slowly revealed!

Within a short time the diggers had made it to the ground floor of the castle and were clearing out rooms. The team watched the process until it got dark. When they got up the next day a path had been cleared for exploration.

It was the team leader, Kor Kar, who discovered the Orionian Diamond in a great tomb in the castle’s bowels. It sat on a stand designed to display it. The stand was next to alabaster coffin containing the body of the high preistess Zetrina.

When the whole team assembled in the room, Kor Kar made a short speech applauding their efforts. Then he turned to the diamond, which was the size of a normal earthling’s head, and reached out for it…

The team gasped in unison when Kor Kar’s face turned black, his eyes rolled back, and he made small mewling noises before dropping to the ground like a sack of Martian red roots.

The curse!” someone screamed.

“It can’t be!” someone else claimed. “There are no curses!”

“Then what was that!” another hysterical voice asked.

Finding the diamond was one challenge. Getting the diamond back to the museum was another.

What are we going to do” one of the team members asked. “Aren’t any of us honest enough to pick this diamond up?”

That’s when Dar Ben Toca saw his chance to get a better deal. Maybe even his freedom.

“I’ll do it. But I need you all to speak up for me.”

Four heads nodded up and down in agreement. Anything to complete their mission.

When Dar Ben Toca held the heavy diamond in his arms he knew his life was going to get better.

As It Stands, truth often comes in strange packages.