“Nowhere is … there warmth to be found … Among those afraid … of losing their ground …” The Byrds, 1966
Jack P Rocket-Man Chronicle, REV.12.
Jack P Rocket-Man is FICTION. No warranties expressed or implied.
REM: Alien Two, the one you called Gracie; it sounds to me like the two of you hit it off … What is a Water Bear?
JPRM: Gracie, Visitor Two, was attractive, smart, and a great communicator. She reminded me of my wife and partner, Louise. I did mention to the visitors that she, Louise, was expecting me home later on that day! They said no problem.
A Water Bear is an example of a larger group of organisms called Extremophiles: they can tolerate environmental extremes. That specific term generally doesn’t refer to sentient beings, but the visitors from our earth circa 2103 defied more than that one rule!
In 2103, the future, the visitors were having trouble with the earth sun. Theirs and ours. According to the scientists, the sun wasn’t playing by their rules. It was emitting Mystery Particles that literally broke the laws of physics, and things got worse still. The star life cycle, the Main Sequence was wrong too.
The earth sun was cooling at an unprecedented rate, and all the solid matter on earth, alive and inorganic, was becoming less solid. Like mutated swiss cheese.
The visitors from 2103 were an adaptation; their unique coloration had been bio-engineered for warmth, heat absorbtion, plus they had an extra layer of pigment or some sort of shielding to block those mystery particles from drilling tiny holes in their bodies.
I suspected they weren’t telling me the whole story, otherwise they wouldn’t need me. As much as I liked them, they had a couple bad habits: (1) They could create scary, realistic virtual realities. (2) They talked me into entering their Black Jet!
The Black Jet would bring us to 2103 and back; they were the proof it could be done, they promised. I wasn’t sure if it was a combination of me being an engineer, and a mental case, and that they hypnotized me — but I believed them.
I knew they were holding back on me, but my empathy told me they weren’t out to kill me, at least not on that particular day in 2003 at the THT Airport.
The Black Jet, I called it, was the time-travel equivalent of ultra-light hiking. The interior reminded me of my old Chevy Impala Super-Sport, except more luxurious. “It’s faster,” said my Gracie … I knew it! the four time visitors were psychic!
Like the terrestrial jet aircraft it resembled, the EA500: the visitor vehicle was a six-seater. “There’s a weight limitation,” Slim, the leader verbalized. I was 5-feet-8, and a tightly packed 160-pounds, much smaller than Mr. Director. I was flattered they wanted me for my body … don’t tell Louise!
Their closer proximity had apparently activated some form of sensitivity on the part of the visitors which allowed them to read my mind and answer my questions. Unlike my engineering buddy Gregory Johnstone, they were not single-purposed, nor limited. I was riding with real people! Except they were post-human people!
The interior was cleaner than clean, no germ phobias on my part. Gracie and Slim were the pilots: was that the right terminology for a machine that could compress time? That got me thinking; these scientists on earth had estimated that all the material in the universe, compressed, would be somewhere between pea-sized and a cube one thousand light-years on each side. Pretty close tolerances, right?
I must be pushing their size limit. The interior revealed some flat-screened monitors and, surprisingly, a small array of analog dials. I figured that the post-human visitors, as I began thinking of them, “Homo Sapiens Tempus,” wouldn’t be dramatically different, just adapted to their situation. The engineer part of my brain wondered if they were heavy? I hadn’t dared touch them.
Unlike that small contemporary jet, the visitor-machine had a dual-pilot capability. I was jammed in with them and suddenly realized questions were being answered, details were expanded, and the word phrase “Boomerang Nebula” popped inside my head. I guessed, at least in the close proximity of the cabin, my twenty-first century brain was an open book. It didn’t bother me though.
REM: You weren’t concerned that they were reading your mind?
JPRM: No. Louise and I, we’re very similar. She likes them preachers: the books, the DVDs, the television programs. Most of them are OK; the best ones are the ones who have the least ego and are not entirely aware of how helpful they really are. They are giving credit to a higher power — could be — but without giving themselves enough credit!
My favorite TV Minister, he said something, I forget the exact words but it means don’t be living in your own past. If you had my past you’d agree! So I’m cool … My biggest concern was getting back OK for Louise. I hoped I didn’t smell like coffee and energy drink too much! Those visitors smelled clean!
Gracie had explained much earlier that day the Black Jet was in BETA Engineering development phase, I forgot! Too late…. The cabin is nice, nothing held together by duct-tape. The controls beneath the three flat displays were few, and identified in their native language made up of text and icons. There were two pull-out keyboards of bright metal with designated groups with color-coded keys and LED indicators.
Now the cabin lights are dimming, just like inside those sophisticated cinemas when the show begins, except it’s bright sunlight on the South Runway! Gracie’s pulling on that thing that makes an aircraft rise; she’s on the left side of the dual controls. Incongruously, amidst the geometrical perfection and zen-like simplicity, I saw a little picture card attached in the center below the flat displays. It’s an illustration of an earthly angel, attached with clear office tape.
Is that good news, or bad news?
The Black Jet accelerated like a bat out of hell — wrong idiom — as we blazed towards the twenty-second century earth. I fixed my gaze to that paper angel attached to the Time-Machine’s dashboard. I didn’t see a shrine or anything…. that card was my only hope. The angel drawing reminded me of that Ion Engine photo I told you about, it glowed that same electric blue!
The acceleration was fierce. I hadn’t done much flying, ironic — working security at the airport, huh? I know this really wealthy guy, he has an automobile called the Bugatti Veyron that does zero-to-sixty in less than three seconds! The Black Jet is faster. I wondered if the four visitors selected me versus the Airport Director based on G-Force tolerance.
We headed southeast towards the Atlantic Ocean. In about one breath — under tremendous G’s — we’re above the Skyhaven Salt Marsh Conservation Area. The scene looks like a humongous Google Map, except a billion pixels! And it won’t stand still, it’s vibrating, shaking!
I’m feeling thirsty. Gracie says, “It’s the Water Bear Effect.” “What?”
“The Water Bears, those little animals, to survive in space: they dehydrate down to near-zero moisture….”
“The Black Jet is freeze-drying us, so the faster-than-light can kick in.”
“So we will not die….”