“I must create a system, or be enslaved by another man’s.” William Blake, 1757 – 1827
Jack P Rocket-Man Chronicle, REV.13.
Jack P Rocket-Man is FICTION. No warranties expressed or implied.
REM: The Four Visitors were capable of moving in time; what about that dehydration procedure, the Black Jet must freeze-dry the five of you; why? Wouldn’t that be fatal?
JPRM: The Four Visitors from the near future had demonstrated to my satisfaction that year 2103 is the end of the line. They expressed, implied actually, that they needed me, not just anyone, to help them rescue the planet. I was beginning to understand why I got the job, after all I am an Engineer. A very special Engineer.
The Four of them: “Homo Sapiens Tempus” bio-engineered themselves to endure the Earth Sun’s startling behavior: it was simultaneously cooling while emitting mystery particles — mutated neutrinos — which would ultimately destroy all things. The Earth, and everything on it.
The Visitors were holding out on me; there was something they were not revealing. Ironically I thought I knew what it was. Which made me all the more willing to heed their call.
The Post-Humans had evolved in under a century from “Homo Sapiens Sapiens” to physically perfect, albeit strangely pigmented folks who could master the laws of physics, but not the forces of destiny. They were lacking….
Someone who: (1) Had an inexact but broad knowledge of physics, as well as mechanical, electrical, and computer software design and manufacturing procedures. (2) Was tired of playing rent-a-cop, directing traffic, and checking delivery vehicles for contraband at the THT International Airport. (3) Possessed empathy, work ethic, and the outside-the-box thinking that was becoming obsolete in Twenty-First-Century Planet Earth.
The term “freeze dry” is a metaphor, an oversimplification. That Black Jet — which was capable of terrestrial travel by way of hydrogen propulsion — did a lot more….
Put it this way: moving the Black Jet and its contents — living creatures — required making it, and its contents, really small, and extremely dense. I said to Gracie, the Techie/Engineer of the Four Visitors, that was a very vague explanation.
“Think of a BB Gun: which moves faster and further, a BB or a Cotton Ball? The Black Jet moves around in time by shrinking and extracting energy, turning it into physical momentum from a location in The Universe known as Boomerang Nebula. We discovered the principle not because we are smart — we are just extremely stubborn.”
“The Boomerang Nebula is the coldest place in the known universe, one degree above Absolute Zero. We don’t fully understand the process, just that we haven’t killed anyone yet.” Yet — Gracie had just said!
It was getting colder and drier in the Black Jet. I was scared, but by then it was plenty too late. Gracie, Visitor Two, was speaking smoothly soothingly. Her sweet resonance made me feel like I was gobbling up a frozen soft-serve ice cream cone, vanilla, size large.
“Remember when you were ten years old, your parents bought that bicycle at the local Sears, Roebuck and Company? They just call it SEARS now.” Boy, I sure did remember that bicycle. But I didn’t remember telling Gracie!
Gracie continued, “Turns out, that bicycle must have been manufactured sometimes on a Friday afternoon. The oven-baked enamel was an exciting, eye-grabbing shade of red. You were in fifth grade, at the Catholic School. The Nuns there were great teachers, weren’t they; you were already experimenting with words, combining them in new ways, even creating a personal private lexicon!
“You called that bicycle paint, red, ‘blood cranberry.’ That new bicycle was the first thing outside your home, your parents, your food, and clothes, that you perceived as something apart, but always with you.” I thought, yes — like my wife Louise — but fortunately Louise wasn’t here for freeze-drying along with four stealth-black aliens in business apparel!
“Then came the realization that the perfect sheen, the magical smoothness, was all a transitory pleasure. It was temporary by nature, but worse than that, your particular blazing red bicycle was constructed on the last shift of the week! It was defective.” I never told anybody about the disappointment!
Gracie kept it up, “The preparation at the factory: there was a film of oil on the steel, the paint primer tank hadn’t been agitated, the baking oven temperature was a few degrees Fahrenheit too hot. A synergy of errors. Bad manufacturing tolerances.” Gracie was an Real Engineer, as well as a psychic/empath!
Technology had been created by Mankind in his own image: of luck, randomness, and an indefinable emptiness that always appeared, eventually.
Such as: when I parked the red bicycle, sliding it carefully into the galvanized steel bike-rack at the Catholic School. The front fender made a little click, brushing gently against the smooth gray bars that held all the bikes neatly in place.
A flake of blood cranberry enamel the size of my thumbnail fell onto the playground sand beneath the bike-rack. The early morning sun due east caught the angle perfectly, the intact paint chip glared like the Eye Of Satan, at the Catholic School Yard. I was the only one who saw.
The final bell rang for the kids to go inside for a morning prayer and to pledge allegiance. These were the days when physical discipline was on the decline, but one of the more senior, larger, more traditional Nuns, Sister Michael — which sounded like a guy’s name to a little kid — had a habit of walking around with a twelve-inch wooden ruler, even when there seemed to be nothing that needed to be measured!
REM: Gracie, the Tech Visitor, was she the compassionate one?
JPRM: At that moment, obviously yes. Turns out later that the other three of them, lovely Angela, silent Karl, and articulate Slim, the co-leader with Gracie; they were all great people.
Inside the Black Jet my ears were buzzing, respiration dwindling. Always the Engineer, I noticed that there was virtually no difference between breathing or pretending to hold my breath, at least relative to my decreasing time attention span.
That reminded me of Boston Massachusetts in the 70’s when I had to make an emergency visit to the Dentist. When I was a kid, after the war, WWII, my family didn’t believe in dental hygiene.
So there I was in Boston MA with a molar containing a cavity the size of a moon-crater, but the edges were rougher. I was attending Engineering School, not much money, the most practical solution was the tooth had to go. Or that I died immediately.
There, they gave sodium-something, pentothal? It was like an out-of-body experience — I guess — that sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it?
Back inside the Black Jet, which right then is working hard at compacting itself into a micron-sized pea of energy, metal, and organic life, I am gazing into Gracie’s eyes. Even though technically she is the pilot and sitting in front of me, and I don’t believe I’ve seen her rotate her head one-hundred-eighty degrees.
Gracie’s eyes are blue-green-gray irised with fathomless deep black pupils. The air shimmers. That black makes me think of licorice candy, the good stuff, not the too much sugar. Her eyes are uncannily familiar. I’ve seen them many times.