General Science Fiction posted January 16, 2014

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Short Story

The Waters Off Rigel Part 3

by michaelcahill

In parts one and two some characters were introduced that would be part of a crew that was formed to investigate a wormhole that had been discovered right outside of earth's atmosphere. 

One thing became clear right away: This could not possibly be a natural phenomenon. Wormholes don't open up in one's backyard suddenly. This only need an RSVP card to make it more clearly an invitation. Whatever or whoever resided on the other end of that wormhole wanted to meet us and had provided a way for us to get there. This clarity existed within the confines of the team.

Surprisingly, the rest of the world didn't seem to get that connection. It all seemed so random to them. Even the scientific community shockingly treated it as something that just popped up like a weed through a crack in the driveway.
The testing and talking and debating went on seemingly endlessly. The team redefined restless several times. Objects, at first, and then hamsters traveled through the wormhole and returned back intact. Then two hamsters, then tree, then a rhesus monkey, then two, the list grew and the weeks passed.
Bolts finally said the words everyone had whirling around their brain.
"Let's go!"
One by one, all nodded their head in agreement. Smiles broke out like hives at a bee convention. Johan Karkovich immortalized the moment with one of his crazy impersonations of someone that no one recognized at all.
"Yes, mama daddy. Wanna go in da woimho. Oh yeah, da woimho. Here come daddy oooohhh!"
They all were laughing in the relieved way that you would imagine the sound of a fart would break up the coronation of a homely Queen. Jarveen, a language expert, grabbed his ever-handy guitar and some of the great minds and talents of earth broke out into an impromptu version of "Wanna Go in Da Woimho." It needed more cowbell, but its potential was clear.
News of the phenomenon got out, of course. It's funny how each little group receives news and relates it to themselves. Somehow, a teeming mass manages to find millions of individual reasons for an event's occurrence. Of course, the event relates to them specifically.
Religions prepared for the coming of whatever their particular name for God was, usually a face that looked coincidentally like their own. Tickets to the afterlife were on sale at every religious edifice worldwide and the lines were long.
"The new ark that carries us from this flood of iniquity will not land on a mountain top. It will land on the shores of heaven itself!"
I must admit that as a writer that sounded rather poetic. Ironically, the vessel under construction did resemble a modern day ark. The possibility of a permanent maroon led the designers to attempt to create a self-sustaining environment. They intended that this vessel would sustain life indefinitely even if lost in the nether regions of Orion's belt. It chilled the team more than comforted them.
Bolts looked at Sunny and said, "I don't know if there are any of these eggheads that aren't spoken for that I would breed with. I'm going to have to smuggle one aboard."
Sunny smiled and in her sweet voice said, "Doctor Trent would be pleased to assist. But, bring your tools. He is ancient you know."
"I haven't had and erector set since I was a little girl." That tickled Sunny and they laughed like little girls at a pajama party.
The oppressed prepared for their deliverance. There are two types of oppressed, those that truly are and those that pretend to be in order to get free stuff. The truly oppressed naturally observed these events as a means to more oppression to befall them. The pretenders saw opportunity and set about making themselves and their sticky outstretched palms visible.

Organizations designed to show the truth of what a hideous society we really sprung up all over the world. They were loud and intended to make themselves known to the aliens should the opportunity arise. If the aliens took pity on them and showered them with a little cash, all the better.
Those in power sloughed it off as though it was nothing publicly, while privately preparing to market the usurpers of their profits and authority. Wanting to own the wormhole fueled many a corporate and governmental fire.

It seems silly owning space especially space that is outside of earth's atmosphere. But, countries own portions of the deep blue sea don't they. Our waters, our air space, how human are terms like that? The Viacom Star way to Tomorrow Wormhole, your entrance to the galaxy. It isn't that far-fetched. It certainly isn't to Viacom.

Governments wanted it because they wanted everything. The United States has a flag on the moon. Wanna build a house there? The tax rates are quite favorable.
The crazies prepared to destroy it before it destroyed them or ride it off into the sunset depending on their particular from of craziness. The supplies of aluminum foil became dangerously low as precautions were taken to block alien snooping.

Bottled water, duct tape, crazy glue and Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" became must haves for the discriminating survivalists hunkered down in the darkness waiting…just waiting.
For others, plans to enter the wormhole on the end of giant kite strings attached to kites made out of balsa wood colored by captured rainbows were under way in earnest. Others were constructing catapults made out of old car parts and discarded pizza boxes.

For one Snorts LaFontaine, a laughing stock all his life, it was time to strut. He had claimed for years that a wormhole existed right outside the earth's atmosphere that would take us to the ends of the galaxy. Everyone laughed at and dismissed him as nothing but a crazy old gutter drunk for most of his life. He could finally hold his head up and say, "I told you so."
The rest of the world just carried on in the nervous way they always did. Just waiting to see if it might affect them. It usually didn’t, after all.
Attempts to sabotage the mission met with failure and in many cases disaster. The attempts ranged in seriousness from the absurd to clever, but ineffective. The identities of the team remained secret, as did their whereabouts. The attacks were levied directly at the wormhole itself. Explosions of varying sizes were not uncommon. They had no discernable affect.

The wormhole remained unaffected as far as any scientific readings could tell. Individuals, some corporate sponsored and some on behalf of various nations, entered the wormhole never to be seen again. Some returned approximately two weeks later in skeletal form appearing to have been dead for several years.

No one returned alive. Many came through and just burned like little momentary flashes of light as they burned in the atmosphere. Religious leaders were quick to make martyrs out of individuals to suit their needs.
"Yes, brothers and sisters, even as I speak Brother Latimer wrestles with the devil himself in mortal combat seeking redemption for your souls." Or,
"Repent now! You will be swallowed up as Sister Naomi was. Her unrepentant soul doomed to drift in the fiery void of space for all eternity."
Explaining the incompatibity of a vacuum and fire would be of little point to the fervor of his message. With four billion people, it is surprisingly easy to gather a flock of blind believers to follow almost anything that sounds fervent enough.
"Go get that damn devil Brother Latimer! We're with you one hundred percent!"

In spite of the hysteria and hoopla surrounding the wormhole, life carried on as usual. It had little impact on anything in a real way. The time to launch the vessel had finally come. "The Emmisery" astonished the eyes of those lucky enough to behold it.

Its location at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert was a closely guarded secret. If anyone thought of sabotage, there was a fleet of stealth bombers at the ready to dissuade them. It dwarfed any previously recorded flying vessel and there were very few vessels of any kind that rivaled it in size. This monstrosity would dwarf the Spruce Goose, which I have seen personally.

Yet, it had a sleek and pleasing look to it. It brought Noah's Ark to mind when what it contained aboard was read off a list. There were live animals for meat and milk. There were plants growing in actual fields that would produce food. There where storehouses filled with dry goods and supplies. There was equipment beyond my abilities to describe that was designed to create a self–sustaining environment for the crew for years to come if necessary. One wouldn't call it a flying city or town. But, calling it, an airborne village would not be out of line.

It could take off and land and had hovering capabilities. Under the cover of darkness, these features were all tested and retested and they all checked out. It flew and it flew perfectly. Its destination awaited it. A magnificent vessel designed for one flight. That flight would begin today.
The send-off transcended the interest long since put in the back of most minds and filed away. After the initial excitement of discovery, the lack of action surrounding the wormhole had put the news on the back pages. Such is the attention span of humanity. Nonetheless, this was handled as a major earth-shaking event and the media responded.
"These twenty-seven heroic souls embark today before the eyes of humanity on a journey of discovery. I am reminded of the explorers I learned of as a small wide-eyed little boy in grammar school, Magellan, Pizarro and Christopher Columbus. And now, Karkovich, Trent, Genomare and many others join the pantheon of pioneers that seek the shores of a new world."



Rambling along. Some excellent input that I am considering. Many things to consider in editing. I have added a little more detail and tried to address some issues that have been mentioned. I am making note of flaws that are pointed out. Thank you very much for the input. I am taking it all into account and will refer to it when I re-write this after I am done posting this initial draft. Any suggestions are listened to and most appreciated.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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