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Anitorum by TS Caladan

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1 Anitorum by TS Caladan on Mon Dec 05, 2016 2:24 pm

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Anitorum

by TS Caladan



[Author's note: Where are they? Who are they? Who put them there? Why? And who's the girl?]



Yes, we’ve crashed on an uncharted planet; I’m separated from my squadron; we’re cutoff from home world, but…

        I’m Okay and it’s such a beautiful planet...

       A yellow sun shone brilliantly in a deep blue sky and underneath was pristine nature. Colorful mountains stood tall over endless miles of green forests, clear lakes, rivers, streams and waterfalls. The magical land seemed like a fantastic dream, but it was absolutely real.

       Zar asked himself an obvious question aloud, “For such a natural environment, why not the smallest signs of anything living, outside of the amazing plants?” His helmet was not on his head. He was not sure where it was at the moment.

       The Sun’s rays struck Zar’s silver ‘spacesuit’ and it sparkled in intense light.

       The lost soul and squadron leader marched through fertile orchards with a variety of fruit trees around him. Different shaped fruits of multiple colors tasted delicious. He drank from clean streams. The patrol officer could live on the unknown planet. He’d be very happy inside ‘God’s Splendor of Creation.’

       …If I only had my memory.

       Zar wondered: Where’s my squad or way back to the ship? Was the memory loss and disorientation due to concussion from the crash? The food, the drink? He remembered his name.

       He thought it weird, stripped of the usual equipment for emergencies. There were no communication devices, monitors, weapons or utility belt on him. Even squadron logos and rank insignias were gone from his silver suit.

       Zar’s eyes beheld tremendous fields of emerald meadows among all the scattered clusters of trees and waterways. There was green vegetation with highlights of blue, purple and yellow plants totally unfamiliar to the squadron leader. No structures. The view of mountains and meadows appeared to go on and on and terminated at a very distant and odd horizon.

       He was alone and felt like a bug within infinite jungles of natural beauty. He relaxed as if his hectic passed life (whatever it was?) so needed the unplanned and unexpected ‘vacation’ to Heaven here. Zar sighed and breathed the glorious, clean air.

       Patrol consisted of routines in space, boring reports and secured perimeters while cooped up in a virtual ‘tin can.’ Home planet was hell. It seemed a very long time ago and far away.

       Here was the life! Nature’s Paradise.

       This endless world was a ‘fairy tale’ to him, only experienced in stories and films. It was nothing like the bustling, busy Metropolis of Xenon, which he only recalled in bits and pieces.

       From what Zar remembered, insane Xenon was a relatively small super-city, but on a massively global scale. Nature once existed there and had faded from records and memories. He asked himself: Why would anyone remain on chaotic Xenon when spacious, lush planets or satellites like this one thrived somewhere?

       Where was this? How could such an oasis in space be a real, unknown place and have stayed hidden? Untouched? Am I alone? Why did the distant horizon hardly curve at all?

       It was bizarre that after several hours, where (curved) miles were traversed, there were no traces of any animals or his squad or the ship’s crash site.

       Zar received more thoughts into his jumbled brain…

       How could everything have disappeared? Did natives take the crew and carry them away, even the spaceship?

       Zar noticed that after the passage of what had to have been 8 hours, the overhead sun had not moved in a perfect sky. He questioned if it was Xenon’s yellow sun? It appeared larger and brighter than recollection.

       Were there no clouds, sunsets, twilights, night and what he remembered of stars? He was fine if that were true. COLD was his prime bad memory that he did not want repeated. So far, everything here was constant: A sun stayed directly overhead and the cool breeze was very slight and continuously the same~

       Zar suddenly felt as if he was watched. He was out in the open among a field of exquisite, green flowers with a few other colors. Bushes and hundreds of fruit trees formed a dense border between the flower grove and thick vegetation. He was near the edge. The man in the shiny suit was an ‘easy target’ and knew that eyes were upon him.

       Branches broke…

       “Who is there?” Zar shouted to whatever hid in front of him.

       To his total surprise, a man about his same age and size, only with light hair and odd clothes, casually walked out of the tall bushes and into the open meadow.

       Zar’s initial assessment was the spy wore a costume from hundreds of years ago. He had on a top part called a “shirt” and bottoms known as “pants” or “trousers.” He had on shoes and no spacy boots.

       They spoke a common language. First contact was friendly. They smiled.

       “Hi. My name’s David.”

       Zar laughed. “Ha, ha. That is a funny name.”

       David replied, “And that’s funny clothes, friend.”

       “My name is Zar. You said my clothes are funny?”

       Each stranger shared a laugh, but soon got down to serious business.

       “Have you seen anyone else, Zar? My family is missing.” David seemed more desperate for answers than the patrol officer.

       “That was my question to you, David. I am missing a squadron crew of 17, mostly men, a few are young cadets. I have seen no one or any kind of building and I have been walking for hours.”

       “Same with me. This is a big place.”

       They found comfortable spots and sat on big, soft, colorful flowers in a toadstool shape.

       “You have seen nothing of a crashed ship?”

       David asked excitedly, “You have a ship?”

       Zar responded, “For all the good it will do. It is wrecked and I seem to have misplaced it. How is your head? My memories are also missing.”

       “That’s very peculiar, because…because I can’t remember anything outside of our camping trip and a few personal things.”

       “What is camping?”

       “Ha, ha…seriously?” David asked incredulously.

       Zar expressed, “Both of us have amnesia, apparently. You said your family is missing?”

       David answered, “Yes. Oh. Camping is a vacation or ‘get away’ to an area in the country. I, I, ah…saw you in the field and thought…thought you’d have answers for me, or a way out?”

       “Sorry my friend, David. I am as lost and dumbfounded as you...”

       “Shelley and Raven,” David said with strong feelings, after a pause, as he recalled more thoughts.

       “What?”

       “Shelley’s my wife, been married for 17 years. Raven’s our daughter; she’s 15 and probably scared right now.” David became sad as if he would never see them again. He snapped out of a daze and asked his new friend, “Wait a minute, Spaceman. What the HELL kinda ship are you talkin’ about?”

       Zar responded as a matter of fact: “The normal patrol ship.”

       “Where’re you from?” David was excited as if he encountered an honest-to-goodness extraterrestrial.

       “Xenon, 5th planet in the Centauri System. But something may have escaped you, David?”

       “What’s that?”

       “You could be from Xenon, too? Similar sun.”

       “What? Say again, please.”

       “Do you know what planet you are from?”

       David looked up and chuckled. He looked down. “At the moment, no.”

       Zar spoke confidently, “This could have to do with Time. We appear as the same species. I think Time is involved, David. Maybe?”

       “Time?”

       “Do you know the year? What year do you think it is?”

       David honestly answered, “Yes. Why, ah…it’s 1978.”

       Zar rose to his feet and laughed at the bright, blue sky as if he understood. “Nineteen-seventy-eight? You are about 100 years off! Ha. It is 2082, my friend.”

       David also got to his feet, but at a much slower speed and with a lot on his mind. “I can’t believe it, ha. Always wanted to meet an alien. Only you’re saying: you’re from the future?”

       “Possibly your future.” 

       “But I never heard of Xenon.”

       Zar thought of possibilities. “Maybe the memory is missing or maybe Xenon was known by another name in your time?”

       “Hmm.”

       “Hopefully, we will remember more and more.”

       “Whatever our past, where are we? What is this place of such great beauty?” David inquired.

       “I cannot answer that until I find my crew or find my instruments. They might have been transported away like you were transported here.”

       “So they could have taken Shelley and Rave?”

       Zar said, “I understand how I got here and why my brain is scrambled, I think. I remember the crash. I do not understand why your mind has gaps also, David.”

       “Hmm. My last memory is getting out of the car with the family. We picked a good place to stop…”

       Zar was puzzled again by one of his new friend’s words. “What is a car?”

       “You don’t have cars?”

       “Whatever they are, we do not use that word for them.”

       “Well that’s how I thought we arrived here in this gorgeous spot. We got out by the lake and pitched our tent…don’t ask.”

       Zar smiled. “What do you remember next?”

       “Well. After everything was ready, we’re going to start a fire and eat a meal. I went off to pee and…and…”

       “And what?”

       “Zar, I couldn’t have lost my way. I went back and forth for hours. They were just GONE. Even the car. Ah. I remember the lake campsite was the same. It was as if someone or something snatched them away.”

       “In my case, we all took perimeter positions and expanded in a big circle. My people, my equipment and I guess my car…were snatched away as well.”

       Suddenly a loud explosion was heard and felt!

       The men were thrown a few feet and landed on the ground. They were unhurt. The force was preceded by a short ‘buzz.’

       “What the HELL?” David yelled and soon came to his senses.

       Zar wiped his shiny suit and got to his feet first. He helped David up and searched for injuries.

       When the dirt and dust settled, a nice 100-foot crater was produced approximately a quarter of a mile away from them.

       David exclaimed, “Wow. Let’s check it out! Can you believe a meteor smashed down and formed a crater before our eyes?”

       “That was no meteor, my friend,” Zar corrected.

       “It wasn’t?”

       “You did not hear? It was an electrical blast from above. Probably a magnetic charge.”

       David looked into a cloudless, azure sky and saw nothing. He asked, “Do you know what’s going on? Is there anything like this where you come from, Zar?”

       Zar answered, “There are terraformed pleasure-planets that could not be more exclusive. This is nothing like the reports I have heard. My people would kill for a place like this, away from machines and personal robo-devices and the fast, monotonous life. Ah. Give me the simple life, any day. This is marvelous.”

       “Outside of the bombs from above, eh?”

       They laughed.

       “Yes, right. I forgot about that. Ha,” Zar said as he stared at the fresh crater. “Uh. By my memory, our spaceship came upon a mysterious planet that suddenly appeared and should not have been there…hence, the crash. Either we went through a wormhole or it did.” 

       “Wow. Okay. If the explosion was unnatural, and, and we’re in some alien zoo? Well, now what?”

       “Maybe our zookeepers want us to go in the other direction?” Zar suggested and pointed.

       “Haven’t been over there.”

       “Our answers might be there. Maybe a building or something? Although I have not seen a structure in miles and miles.”

       “I’m game.”

       “What?”

       David clarified, “Let’s go. Lead on, boss.”

       They stepped lively the other way and watched the clear skies. Apparently the ‘attack’ was over and the men headed off in the right direction.

       What was over there?

       There were no sounds of birds or any kind of wild animals. There was only a constant temperature and light wind. The only sounds were waterfalls and brooks that ‘babbled’ in the tranquil setting.

       The guy in a spacy suit and the guy in shirt and pants walked more miles. They did not need rest or sleep. They ate colorful fruit filled with nectar and it kept them healthy and energetic.

       The Sun held the same position at zenith. They believed the planet did not rotate and here was a world of eternal sunshine. No night. No cold. No darkness. They also concluded the planet had to be monstrously enormous because of a horizon line that was nearly straight.

       “So we’re being watched? You think by natives?” David asked.

       “Someone dropped the bomb, right?”

       Then it happened…

       “Ah!” David suddenly saw movement and color where there should have been none. “Oh, my God!”

       There was a naked blonde girl in a stream only thirty feet away! She tilted her head, made a terrible face and jumped in terror.

       “Hey!”

       She ran to shore as fast as she could and dashed through trees.

       The guys followed.

       The race ended when David shouted, “We’re not going to hurt you!”

       The frantic girl stopped, turned and covered herself with her hands. The look of horror on her face was gone. Her eyes were bloodshot.

       David arrived and removed his shirt. His first thought was to cover her (to gain her trust) and he did. The long shirt covered most of her.

       Did she have the answers?

       “Call me…Teer.” She was average in appearance except for the fiery eyes. She had long, bare legs.

       Topless David replied, “Beautiful name.”

       Teer giggled.

       “I’m David and this is…”

       “I know who you are…”

       Her words were ‘bombshells’ to the guys.

       Zar, a semi-psychic, was very surprised and responded, “You do? Then what is my name?”

       Teer laughed and expressed, “Ha, ha. Don’t believe me?”

       The future-man declared, “I do not.”

       Her glassy eyes looked right into his eyes. “You don’t believe me? Zar of Xenon?”

       “Now I do.”

       They laughed.

       “Spare me the introductions, boys. I know about your squadron and what’s happened to your family,” she calmly stated.

       “You do? Where’s my family?” David yelled in her face and also grabbed her shoulders. He did not expect a punch.

       One blonde gave it to the other. She hit him good, right in the nose.

       David was rocked to the core and he staggered.

       Teer laughed and howled like an animal. Then she ran away and screamed even louder.  

       Zar helped his friend.

       “Go after her, ah,” David was groggy and insisted.

       Zar from Xenon ran into eternal daylight and eventually caught her in another flowered meadow. They fell to the ground. They wrestled and rolled over and over in sensual positions.

       “Tell me where my crew is!” Zar landed on top of Teer and pinned her down with his body.

       “Oh, rough boy.” She smiled big like a maniac and then whispered seductively, “You want me?” She grabbed his ass.

       It was only at this awkward moment that Zar saw how blazed her eyes really were. She was obviously drugged and out of her mind. “I want the truth, girl! What do you know?”

       “I’ll tell you the truth, big boy.” She felt up his ass with firmer grasps.

       Zar closed his eyes. Half of him was delighted and half of him wanted to strangle her. “Just tell me.”

       Teer again made direct eye contact and relayed the facts. “Ha, ha. I’m a Watcher. I’m one of the guards here.”

       “My squad!” the soldier screamed in anger.

       “Oh, them. Your squadron and his family don’t exist. Silly illusions, games, escapes. You made them up, filled in the blanks. You know, after your mental breakdowns wiped everything?”

       Zar rolled off of Teer and he laid flat on his back. He got lost in the pureness of the blue sky. Zar felt that the crazy, naked, drugged girl spoke 100% truthfully. He relaxed.

       She continued, “You come from, well. We all are from a planet called Clarion.”

       “Clarion?”

       He was dazed and sensed that David approached. “What is this place, Teer?”

       “We call it the Anitorum. I work here. Or did? And I think I know who dropped me here.”

       “Anitorum?”

       Teer explained, “Like a Ring-World around our Sun, a sliver of a Dyson Sphere can house millions of electrically powered lots or Units like this one.”

       “What?”

       “Clarion is a highly congested mega-Metropolis like ‘Delis,’ all business, a corporate ‘rat race’ on a global scale. Thousands of our people have full breakdowns every year and crave simplicity, an end to numbers and data. Ones who can’t hack stresses of modern life and break are sent to an Anitorum.”

       “I am a patrol officer.” Zar was stunned and weakly expressed, “No squadron?”

       Teer observed David as he approached. He’d be with them soon. She also observed a thick, small branch among the pretty flowers. The branch had a point on one end.

       Zar saw David also and asked Teer in a complete fog: “You work here?”

       David shouted, “Hey!” He heard Teer tell Zar that she loved him…

       …And then she shoved the pointed end of the branch into Zar’s neck with such force that it came out the other side.

       “Aaaaah!”

       Suddenly…

       The three of them disappeared from Unit 51810CFR of the Anitorum.

 

       Two guards in black uniforms brought two former guards into a white interrogation room and shackled them to hard seats. They left after the prisoners were secured.

       The ex-guards wore grey prison clothes. They were caught. In front of the men were 17 screens on the wall, one for each district on Clarion.

       Images of ten men and seven women (in the same type of silver jumpsuit Zar wore) were on the screens. One spoke…

       “What possessed you to play with the patients, as you did, Jed 794 and Daro 1101?” asked an Anitorum administrator.

       Jed and Daro glanced at each other and the wall-screens with childish expressions on their faces.

       “Ah…we…”

       “Well?”

       Jed 794 offered a reason to the administrators. “We were bored.”

       Daro 1101 inquired, “May I ask a question, sir?”

       “We do not know what to do with you, yet.”

       “That wasn’t the question.”

       “Ask.”

       “Were you watching us and the Unit the whole time? Did you see everything, administrators?”

       “Yes.”

       Daro rehearsed a defense and asked a good question that the officials had not anticipated. He glanced at Jed a second and asked 17 screens, “Then why did you not stop it from the very beginning? Why did you wait so long? No one could have foreseen a horrible tragedy to a patient. You could have prevented it! Wait until the rest of Clarion hears about this. YOU’LL be the ones who’ll need new jobs!”

       Jed piggybacked onto his cohort’s furious defense. “They were watching too? Probably enjoyed every minute.”

       From one of the screens: “You drugged a fellow guard! How do you explain that criminal act along with an electric ray discharge? Just having fun?”

       “Oh. Oh, yeah. How is she?” Jed asked.

       “We didn’t get along with her, sir,” Daro confessed.

       “We’re done. We’ve decided,” an administrator declared.

 

          Inside one of a number of Anitorums that circled the Clarion yellow sun as a gigantic RINGWORLD, two men met. Their memories were erased by 95%.

       “I see you under the water, now come out!” yelled a man in a black outfit [who had Daro’s face].

       Slowly, a man in grey clothes [with Jed’s face] emerged from underneath the lake water. “Don’t shoot!” He put his hands high up in the air. “I’ll go back. Peacefully.”

       “Ha, ha. Now that’s funny since I seem to be missing my gun, my mind and the rest of the…Safari team.”

       “Safari team?” the wet man wondered as he reached shore.

       “You can lower your hands, friend. You said take you back. Back where?”

       “I…I, ah…aren’t you a prison guard? Aren’t you here to take me back to my cell?”

       “Prison? No, friend. Don’t know what you’ve done. But you’re not in prison now.”

       “I’m not?”

       “Look at this pastoral garden. It’s simply beautiful. Incredible.” His arm stretched out and he turned and viewed the full panorama around them. “But you know, what you said?”

       “Huh?”

       “Ah, somehow, I don’t know? It rings a bell.”




[#38 in upcoming Caladanthology called "Science Faction"]




The original inspiration for my version of the story:
Time Travel Short Film 'Paradox' [HD] - Tribeca Film Festival





How to order novels by TS Caladan


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