“People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion” Albert Einstein, Theoretical Physicist
Jack P Rocket-Man Chronicle, REV.15.
Jack P Rocket-Man is FICTION. No warranties expressed or implied.
REM: You were in the Black Jet with the Four Visitors. They were taking you forward in time just prior to 2103, insisting it’s all over for our Earth at that point. The time-travel required a form of suspended animation. Is that right?
JPRM: That’s four questions, you know how many questions I can handle. Yes to all four.
The “ten-year old little engineer” flashback was a side-effect. A variation of Lucid Dreaming. What surprised me was the reverence with which the Visitors cherished the effect. The Visitors, “Homo Sapiens Tempus” I called them, were still people. They worshipped knowledge, and dreams. I guessed that made the Black Jet a church of sorts.
My bicycle wheel, the little boy-genius story, it did not revert miraculously an hour before sunset! Wheelbuilding is not simple. I never figured that one out. Remember Occam’s Razor? I spent the money I earned selling blueberries on a new wheel!
The “wheel story” was a lesson in efficiency and truth. Everything turned out fine, just not as expected.
The Four Visitors and me were once again conscious, and alive, even. Comically, Silent Karl is the Flight Attendant: there are energy drinks, coffee black, and my favorite nutrition bar. Everyone’s a taker. We made it, I figured.
The Future Visitors seemed to require the same basic food groups: a few calories, lots of energy, and vitamins. They stared at me as if: “What do you think, we run on hydrogen, ion, and nuclear propulsion, like the Black Jet?”
I noticed the Black Jet is heading in the opposite direction, North-West based on the location of our Sun.
We are flying really low over the Atlantic; the angle of the sun and the depth — lack of depth actually — of the water transforms the ocean into rumpled blue cloth. The contrast isn’t right, there’s too much turquoise in the sky where azure should be. A sky above, sky below illusion that scared me!
Karl’s voice is in my head again, “Sky Island below, two cemeteries. Civil War-era. Some say it’s haunted. Skyhaven ahead, you can see Parrot Cove.” I could, but there was a problem. The luxury homes on Great Parrot Avenue were gone.
When I was a kid there were some cheap “polarized” sunglasses you could buy for almost nothing. This was prior to photochromic lenses, like I was wearing. I noticed the Sun was running on lower wattage, dimmer. The Visitors had warned me….
We touched down on what was once a private drive for the ultra-rich people of Skyhaven. Next, the Black Jet proceeded to descend vertically by virtue of some elevator mechanism in the runway. We left the vehicle.
We were inside a tunnel, like a subway but clean, which ran beneath Route US-1A, based on my rudimentary sense of direction. I wondered if there was a branch to E Street, near The Casino, where Louise and I lived in 2003…. I stopped wondering.
Gracie, my favorite Visitor, was talking again, not that telepathy-stuff they employed within the Black Jet. These aliens were living contradictions. They could read and write minds, but only sometimes. They got buzzed on strong coffee and energy drinks. They were careful to take their vitamins.
“We’re headed towards the Skyhaven Shoal Project, 23 Condominiums, facing the Shoal Isles,” Gracie, the loquacious matte-finished Homo Sapiens Tempus began.
“We could have walked outside, it’s still morning albeit another century. The Tunics don’t enjoy the daylight, they stay in mostly in the daytime, but we didn’t want you to burn.”
Gracie’s aware that I don’t have their acquired layer of built-in sunscreen. I’m just a twenty-first century white-boy. Apparently the “Tunics,” she called them, could acquire a really great suntan, but not dark enough, when the Sun is making subatomic holes in everything.
The Skyhaven Shoal Project was supposed to start in 2003. That was when the second iteration of financial and cultural deterioration began in what was the USA. Just prior to the Earth Sun Mystery Particles and Main Sequence problems.
The Toronado Motor Inn at Skyhaven, New Hampshire had a checkered past. It was constructed on a squarish patch between the Skyhaven Salt Marsh Conservation and US Route-1A, angled so that the two-story single-row eighteen-unit conglomeration of concrete, glass, and crooked wood, painted white with carolina blue trim featured a perfect ocean view. The rates were low.
As with virtually any structure or system geared toward generating an honest income for the proprietors, and shelter and calm for the guests, little things began unravelling with the passage of time. Entropy.
The two rows of nine units, excluding the office and maintenance areas at the end nearest the state highway, were numbered ZERO through EIGHTEEN. The reason for this apparently was triskaidekaphobia, “fear of the number thirteen.”
Furthermore, when viewed from the front, the unit numbers were counter-clockwise, ZERO thru EIGHT, NINE (above EIGHT) thru TWELVE, FOURTEEN…. I found myself strangely attracted to the Toronado during walks I took while breaking up my daily routines.
There were other odd things about the Toronado, such as when peering through the front slider-doors and being able to see straight through the building, it was just a single row deep –the other side of the world appeared shinier and darker than it should be.
Some of the locals were attracted to my attraction of the place. I keep to myself, most folks are insufficiently insane to be interesting, yet I always remain courteous. Consequently, after my repeated stopping, re-reading the expired building permit, looking inside — the place was gutted — I was informed why the Toronado had lost favor.
There was a family named Parsons, same name as Uncle Jack, but no relation, who had stayed that year 2002. It was in May, before things got busy. Big car, a small but seaworthy twenty-two foot boat. Middle of the week.
The family signed the register. They asked the Motor Inn Management about Sky Island, a tiny dot barely visible off-shore.
The next morning a report was filed with the Skyhaven Police Department: two missing children — girls, eight and ten. The Parsons kids. The parents remained at the Toronado for a full week for the search. The children were not found. The parents had clean criminal records. Some notes were taken, but how does one prove a lack of something, even people?
The only peculiarities were the twenty-two foot boat had recently been in the sea….
And the parents, according to the register, had checked into Unit THIRTEEN.