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The Zarnian Vodka Paradox

 

The Zarnian

Vodka Paradox

by

Robert A. Albert

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2017 Robert Arthur Albert

 

All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction

In whole or in part in any form

 

Manufactured in the United States of America

 

 

ISBN-13:

978-0692855201 (RAAlbertArts) 

 

ISBN-10:

0692855203 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Decisions

I think back on the decisions of my life.

Some made quickly,

based on responsibilities perceived.

Where would I be,

if I thought through more carefully,

deciding differently?

Where would the others in my life be,

if I decided differently?

Where would the others in my life be,

if they decided differently?

Of course, I’ll never know!

They’ll never know!

And, what does it matter?

Perhaps my “heart” decided for me.

Perhaps their “hearts” decided for them.

Perhaps the currents of life gave no choice.

My decisions put me where I am.

And from here, I cannot say,

if this is the best place for me.

Certainly, free will has led me here.

Certainly, this is uniquely my place.

 

 

Contents

Decisions 3

Foreword 6

Dedication 7

Chapter 1 – Traveling 8

Chapter 2 – Zarnia’s Sun Chaser 14

Chapter 3 – Hog Heaven 35

Chapter 4 –Escape 43

Chapter 5 – La Te Da 49

Chapter 6 – Arrival 55

Chapter 7 – The Backpack 66

Chapter 8 – The Web Site 73

Chapter 9 – He Doesn’t Suspect 86

Chapter 10 – He is Back 92

Chapter 11 – Going Fishing? 104

Chapter 12 – What Happened 110

Chapter 13 – Twelve Hours 122

Chapter 14 – I Must Go 138

Chapter 15 – The Stepford Husband 145

Chapter 16 – Ray’s Parents 156

Chapter 17 – Ray and Lucy 164

Chapter 18 – What Evil Lurks? 171

Chapter 19 – The Battle of Key West 178

Chapter 20 – The Truth About Zarnia 205

Chapter 21 – The Secret Room 211

Chapter 22 – Return to Zarnia 228

Chapter 23 – A Terrible Step Backward 231

Chapter 24 – Alone and Going Places 244

Chapter 25 – Katy Bulger 260

Chapter 26 – Chibouk 268

Chapter 27 – Preparation for Battle 285

Chapter 28 – Battle Begins 299

Chapter 29 – Meet the Wobbler 318

Chapter 30 – Searching 340

Chapter 31 – An Unlikely Ally 349

Chapter 32 – Siege 355

Chapter 33 – Two Zarnian Ships 359

Chapter 34 – Death Star 370

Chapter 35 – Zoleron 380

Chapter 36 – Coordination 385

Chapter 37 – Zarnia vs. Zoleron 393

Post Script 396

The End 399

Appendix A – Sun Chaser Technical 400

Appendix B – Subconscious Theory 403

Appendix C – Mental Telepathy 405

Appendix D – Death Star Architecture 406

Appendix E – Zara and Key West 408

 

Foreword

I have placed some interesting information in the appendices. If you are technical, please read the appendices for details.

I have taken vast liberties with language and use English throughout this manuscript because it is hard enough to write a story in English. Trying to use various other languages would put my sanity in jeopardy! However, I have started learning the Zarnian language, and possibly my next book will be written in Zarnian instead of English.

All character names are fictional to protect the guilty. In most cases, names have been kept consistent when in real life they would have to be changed to keep the origin of a character hidden. There is at least one character with two names, and that is unavoidable.

 

 

Dedication

Dedicated to My Wife of Fifty-One Years

Elaine,

patiently waiting alone,

while I create the world with words.

Crafted from my imagination,

my dreams,

a 414nd my life’s experiences,

as I dance upon this Earth,

t 414ogether with all of you!

Chapter 1 – Traveling

Ray Berger awoke at 5:00 AM on 9/17/2016 Saturday morning to a cell phone alarm playing, “Crown on the Ground,” by the Sleigh Bells. Disappointed, he realized his significant other, Lucy Lenora, had never made it to their shared bed last night, for the third night in a row. He would miss making love to her again this morning. As in the previous three nights, between naps, she continued to scan the heavens with her new telescope. Ray found Lucy asleep in her telescope chair and nudged her gently. Lucy woke quickly, sat up straight, and opened her eyes wide. She said, “There’s something out there! I can see it, and it is headed this way! It keeps getting closer!”

Ray said, “What do you mean, something?”

She replied, “When I tried to find Mars two days ago, I didn’t see any satellites except the moon. I’ve been scanning the sky for three days looking for anything of interest and testing this telescope. Four hours ago, I could see the details of the moon’s features.

“Then at about 1:00 am this morning I saw it. It looks like a flying saucer! I followed it for an hour and then fell asleep. Am I turning into a UFO believer?”

Ray said, “Well, if you saw it, then all of the folks with bigger telescopes saw it. Have you checked the news?”

Lucy said, “There is nothing on the news. It might be too new, or someone is quiet to prevent a panic.”

Ray said, “How will you track your saucer in Key West?”

Lucy said, “I don’t know unless we have enough room to take the telescope with us. The curious thing is that I looked a couple of hours ago, and I can’t find it. Damn! It’s a good thing I took a picture of it. It was visible from 1:00 am to 2:00 am, and now it is nowhere. Well, I’m out of time. I want to get to Mona and Derick’s place on time.”

Ray said, “You took a picture?”

Lucy said, “Yes, this new telescope has an on-board camera.” She showed the image, now on her cell phone, to Ray.

Ray said, “OK, we are taking the telescope with us! Lucy, on another subject, I miss our lovemaking, especially in the morning when we wake up. Is there something wrong? You don’t come to bed and spend every hour you can on your telescope.”

Lucy replied, “Nonsense. You are too sensitive! I promise to fix you up in Key West to the point of exhaustion. I’ve just gotten carried away using my new telescope! Remember how much time I spent on you when we first met?”

Ray said, “Yes, I do. That’s what I miss!”

They showered and had a quick raisin bran breakfast.

Lucy put on jeans, sneakers, a tee shirt, and a baseball cap. Always, on her left hand, regardless of where she was going or what she might be doing, Lucy wore a prized possession, her Great Grandmother’s engagement ring with the large blue diamond set with pink and white diamonds all around the platinum silver setting. On her left hand, Lucy wore a wedding ring even though she and Ray had not been married. Finally, she hung a gold crucifixion cross on a gold chain around her neck.

Ray wore shorts, a baggy shirt, no jewelry, sandals, a NY Mets baseball hat, and a concealed Smith and Wesson, M&P, .40 caliber pistol.

They loaded their bags into Ray’s 2010 Ford Mini Van and put the telescope in its watertight container on the top of their car. Ray packed several liters of vodka. He fondly preached to everyone, “Before vodka became known simply as an alcoholic beverage, it was known as a healing tonic. People considered it a “holy drink” that could make you stronger and prepare you to fight. It could make you feel better, take the boring out of boring parties, heal wounds, reduce stress, reduce toothache pain, and countless other benefits.”

Lucy and Ray did not have a very long history together. They met at a Sleigh Bells’ Concert May 2nd, 2014, at the Big Guava Festival in Tampa, Florida. The Sleigh Bell’s described as a “Noise Band” originated in Brooklyn, NY. Ray drove himself from Stuart, Florida to the concert. Lucy rode with friends. When they met, waiting in line at the concession stand for a beer, they both suffered from love at first sight. Lucy rode home in Ray’s car, and they started living together in 2014, just months after they met.

Ray Berger, a six-foot tall,180-pound, muscled athlete caught Lucy’s interest at once. He had thick blond wavy hair trimmed neatly around his ears, blue eyes, heavy eyebrows, a substantial nose, smiling lips, and tan colored skin. When Ray talked to you, he focused on your eyes as if he could read your brain activity. He dressed like a PGA golf pro.

Lucy, a five-feet-eight-inch tall, 130-pound, trim model caught Ray’s interest at once. For the concert, she wore her long brown hair down to the middle of her back cascading over her shoulders. Her pale complexion seemed void of sun exposure. She trimmed her eyebrows and wore light pink lipstick on her thin lips under a tiny nose. When she talked to you, she looked to your left or right and not directly at your eyes giving the impression that she didn’t want you to know the contents of her conscious mind.

Ray, 25 years old, had attended FSU for three years on a baseball scholarship majoring in computer science before the Mets drafted him. He had played a year with the St. Lucie Mets before going pro with the Mets in NYC. His record had been good until 2015 when an injury cooled his performance, and he began playing again for the St. Lucie Mets where his recovery to good form and performance had been proceeding well.

Lucy, also 25 years old, began a successful modeling career a year ago and now models all over the world. In the very competitive modeling industry, she has been quite successful at times. However, she now has long periods of inactivity.

They picked up Derick, and Mona Clark in Hobe Sound and the four of them looked forward to the five-hour ride seeing the Florida Keys up close on the way. They headed south to Fort Lauderdale, then south to Miami, and finally U.S. Route 1 to Key West.

Mona and Derick married on July 14th, 2014, claiming to be celebrating French Bastille Day. Both, sets of their parents came from France.

Mona, 27, taught history at the Stuart high school and Derick, 29, developed software for a local IT company called, “Programming Sciences Corporation.” The company slogan, “Reliable Software is Free,” puts forth the idea that good software justifies itself by never breaking and saving you its cost in extra profits and savings.

Derick was very thin in a six-foot-three body weighing about 150 lbs. With his thin beard and homely looks, he could double for Abraham Lincoln. When you talk to Derick, he reads your face like a book with his eyes moving back and forth.

In contrast to Derick, Mona’s body struck a rotund five foot three inches. Her bleach blond hair and pale white freckled face could be childlike. Mona’s radiant smile and kind brown eyes, instantly, made you feel like an old friend.

 

Chapter 2 – Zarnia’s Sun Chaser

From deep space, one light year away, at speeds up to that of light came an intergalactic starship. The ship carried hundreds of space travelers for over an Earth year to get to this point in the universe. Some of these passengers didn’t know it yet, but they were about to change the lives of people on Earth especially four friends heading for a vacation in Key West, Florida, USA, Earth.

At 2:00 a.m. on 9/17/2016 Earth time, Saturday morning, Captain Damara announced to the crew and passengers of Zarnia’s Intergalactic Star Ship, Sun Chaser, “I am addressing you in English, one of the languages you have all learned and must use while you are in the United States. We are about to enter Starlight’s atmosphere bringing us close to the end of our one-earth-year journey. We’ll dock the ship under water near a Florida island called Key West, one of the hottest vacation destinations for the people of Starlight. The inhabitants call Starlight, Earth. That is what we should call it from now on.

“Our ship, the Sun Chaser, and our excellent crew have made this a successful journey. Your skill and dedication in the use of the advanced technology on this ship, have made the trip as safe and as quick as possible.

“We will enter Key West as American tourists. Remember this always. All of you speak English and other Earth languages fluently without accents. Never use our Zarnian language. That way you will not slip while talking to each other, giving away your extraterrestrial origin. Make sure that you do not let anyone know you are from another planet. It is crucial for us to maintain ourselves as residents of Earth. That means that sometimes you must blend in by having some good old fun with the people of Earth. You have heard this before and will hear more in the future.”

The crew and passengers had a good laugh about the good old fun. Gelzek, smiling at Zara said, “I’ll bet the captain will have more fun than the rest of us put together.”

Zara replied, “He is a party animal, isn’t he? I think I’ll do my share as well. The one-year trip to get here has me tight, restless, and ready to go wild!

“You should know that when the I refer to a, “one-year trip”, I mean one of our light years, or the distance traveled by light during a Zarnian year. That is the amount of time it takes Zarnia to revolve around our sun, which is 730 days, or twice the amount of earth days. However, also realize, that the Zarnian day is12 earth hours. The planet rotates twice per earth day. So, since 730 times 12 earth hours is equal to 365 times 24 earth hours our Zarnian light year conveniently turns out to be equal to their earth light year! There is such symmetry in the universe!”

The auditorium erupts into laughter.

Then the captain, short and stout, with rosy cheeks, dark black hair and beard, and searching green eyes continued, “Thanks, Zara! This brings up another very serious matter. We are very similar biologically to the human beings on Earth. No one can reliably tell from outer appearances an Earthling from a Zarnian. Evolution on vastly different planets would not have made that possible if it did not have a great deal of help! We from Zarnia, know of our similarities to Earthlings because we have visited Earth many times over many centuries and documented our findings. So, we have investigated historical records to find answers.

“The people on Earth would not have even thought about this puzzle because they still think they are the only living beings in the universe.

“There is a famous theory stating that some third planet of enormous technological capabilities visited Earth and Zarnia in the past leaving their own people on both planets. It may have been an experiment, or this third planet may have been destroyed leaving their people stranded on Earth and Zarnia. Heck, since our planet may destruct, we are contemplating leaving Zarnians on distant planets all over the universe. So, someday, someone will realize that in spite of evolution there are many similarities among living things that exist on distant planets.

“I tell you this because we are similar but not identical. Your anatomy is different in many areas. For example, your knees are much stronger and resilient. An x-ray of your knee would cause a great deal of attention and questions about your origins. Do not submit to any medical treatment. Contact the ship for instructions if you need medical attention.

“Soren, as we discussed yesterday, we will put the ship down at Earth’s GPS location, 24°36’26.33“N and 81°51’42.33“W. This puts us less than five miles from Key West. Please take over the piloting of the ship and make it happen.

“Zavier, turn on all of our cloaking systems. We are going in using radar countermeasures, and we will not be visible due to our cloaking and the darkness at 3:00 a.m. All our lights will be off or covered. Once we land and dive under water, we can resume normal lighting. Our cloaking will display dark sky and stars under the ship making it even harder to be seen.

“Londrina, set us up for a water-tight docking in the shallow trench at the GPS coordinates specified earlier.

“Zara, I need a meeting with your political committee in the auditorium fifteen minutes after we secure our position at the designated GPS coordinates.”

The Sun Chaser approached from the northwest and waited until passing over the seaplane bases southeast of New Orleans before abruptly dropping straight down to an altitude of 1000 feet for the remaining distance to the GPS location outside of Key West.

A sailboat passenger near the underwater feature Lloyd Ridge^^1^^ looked up just in time to see the Sun Chaser glide over them. “Hey Drake,” she said, “Something weird is moving across the sky causing an area of distortion the size of several football fields. Or, maybe I’ve just had too many margaritas. No, it’s there. See the strange distortion in the stars. The stars in the sky ripple like those on an American flag in the wind. What the heck can that be?”

Drake replied, “Rebecca, I don’t see anything except stars. It must be the margaritas. I can’t wait to get to Key West so I can drink Margaritas and join you in your alcohol-induced hallucinations!”

Sun Chaser reached the GPS coordinates designated by the captain and hovered just over the water in complete darkness. Very slowly, Soren guided the ship to approach the three-foot waves until they began slapping the ship’s hull. Eventually, the sea water reached the window which completely circled the oval-shaped ship.

When the water passed over the top of the ship, Soren turned on the lights, and everyone on the bridge could see fish and other sea life swimming by as the crew of Sun Chaser invaded the realm of deep sea creatures.

More slowly the ship settled to the bottom and came to rest on the ocean floor. Sun Chaser had landed without incident in the water just northwest of Key West. The facility engineers adjusted the ships three legs onto the ocean floor, making the vessel level. During that process, they cloaked to match the ocean floor. Now, from above, they were not visually detectable.

At exactly fifteen minutes after the captain declared the ship docked, the political committee gathered in conference room A1. The captain and Zara sat on the auditorium stage as 200 members of Zara’s political committee filled auditorium seats in front of the stage. Excited discussions, on the way in, raised the noise level in the small auditorium just short of deafening.

Once the seating was completed, Zara, about 5’8” tall, with the figure of a long-distance runner, striking red hair trimmed short over her ears, stood on stage to chair the meeting. She smiled at the audience with intense blue eyes, a petite nose, and a childlike face with no makeup. Zara wore light-blue jeans, a black and white checkered shirt untucked and loosely opened revealing only a nicely-filled T-shirt underneath. Sneakers and black and white socks completed her current wardrobe which she had obtained from the Starlight Clothing Closet on the ship.

When Zara talked to you one on one, she seemed to telepathically draw information from you.

“OK, quiet now,” she said, “you all know why we are here, but I will tell you again.”

Zara said, “We are here to determine the feasibility of merging some of our civilization and Earth’s civilization. The determination will take place in six Earth months. You all have had training in multiple Earth languages, as well as all the political systems governing the 195 self-ruling countries on Earth. Each of you has a specific contact in one of those countries to meet and get close to. You’re to discuss all the points on the list that I passed out on the way here. You must cover all points, if possible. In general, we need to determine if the people on Earth will cooperate with us while we move some of our population to Earth and possibly the moon or other planets in Earth’s solar system. We bring incredible technology, and they bring a planet. Our planet will break apart around ten Earth years from now, due to the wobble problem which began shortly before we left. Cooperation between us is the only way our relocation can work, and the Zarnian civilization can continue.

“We have three other ships investigating three other planets in other solar systems on which to move our people. Certainly, we can’t try to move everyone to the same planet. That would cause instant overpopulation, even using our advanced techniques for getting more people in the same space. When all our ships return to Zarnia in a year and a half earth time and compare combined experiences and knowledge, we will make final decisions and plans.

“You will all use public transportation to reach your assigned country. This way you can experience many people and cultures along the way. You are posing as American citizens considering moving to your target country. Use that country’s language as it will indicate to everyone you meet how serious you are about joining their community.

“Once you get to know people, start talking about overpopulation that may occur in the future or is occurring now. Work on solutions. Find out how everyone feels about overpopulation. Ask about populating other planets. You’ve got the list of ideas and questions to work on. Use it. Learn the culture of the country you are visiting and find out what impediments might exist, like religious differences.

“Each of you has been issued a solar impulse phone. You can communicate with me or each other using these devices as standard Earth smartphones, or on impulse phones. On impulse, your conversations cannot be detected. When using these phones or any others, do not use the Zarnian language. Use English or your country’s language. If you are overheard using the Zarnian language, who knows what conclusions will be reached by someone who overhears you? Even better, find a place to call for both parties where neither can be overheard.

“In six months, we will gather at this spot to travel back to Zarnia. On the way, we will document our recommendations.

Jack asked, “What if I determine my recommendations in less time? Should I return early and voice my decision?”

Zara replied, “No, make sure you use your laptop to document everything in a very detailed journal. All data on the laptops will be encrypted automatically. At all cost, you must keep an open mind until the half-year is over. Only then do you get to return to the ship and discuss your findings. Coming back early is inexcusable and will be punished. There are no exceptions.”

Sonora raised her hand, and Zara recognized her, “What if my assigned person is dead?”

Zara replied, “Again, there is no excuse to return early. Find someone else in the same family or as close as possible. That part is up to you. Return, only after a half-year with your decision, based on your original person or a suitable replacement, in case your original target is no longer accessible.”

Zena asked, “What should we do if we become romantically involved with our assigned subject?”

Zara replied, “That is a good question. You must attempt to avoid that situation because it can cloud your judgment. However, we recognize that romantic involvement is possible since we are directing you to become as close as possible to your assigned person. If this happens, you must, after the half-year return to the ship to report your experiences and information. Then, if you want to return to your new loved one, you may. The ship will leave without you, and more than likely you will be called on in the future to help us out. If that is the case, you must cooperate or suffer consequences, which may be severe.”

Tatham asked, “Why are we doing this? What is the motivation to merge with these backward people? Why don’t we simply take over and make them slaves?”

Zara replied, “Okay, granted, if we want to take over today we can. We have the upper hand in technology. However, on the other hand, these people have covered ground that we may not have. They can contribute to our well-being. I cannot explain or know what their contribution can be. Until we investigate thoroughly, we will not know. Most people I talk with in our society have struggled with this question. The current plan is what was decided as the best possible strategy. Remember, our planet is due to destruct in ten years. We need help from people of other planets so we can find a place to live when our own planet destroys itself. Earth is one of those possibilities.

Lambert yelled, “Look, I don’t care a bit about these people. We can take over right now and keep the survivors as slaves. Why should we care what happens to them? I know right now that we are superior and can just take over. In fact, I am upset that we have come here with no personal weapons. What idiot decided this strategy?”

Zara screamed back, “Me, that’s who, I’m the idiot! This strategy will make sure that war does not start before we can complete our mission. We had to ensure that you could not, in a fit of anger, make war on these very intelligent and compassionate people on Earth. I will be watching you closely. If you step out of line, your life ends here, without any consideration beyond painless death! So, watch out. Do you understand?”

Lambert replied, “Yes, and I apologize. I get it.”

The questions and answers went on and on. Eventually, the meeting ended. Zara established herself as the leader of the political committee and clearly asserted that her ideas and plan must be followed. Everyone left except the captain and Zara.

Zara said, “The meeting has been completed. Do you have anything else for me?”

The captain said, “As a matter of fact, I do. You recall that since you bear the key responsibility of the whole political committee and their findings, we did not assign you to a person on Earth to examine and help you decide whether or not settling here will be a good idea.”

Zara said, “Yes, I do.”

The captain said, “Well, we have changed our minds. Our reconnaissance has turned up a unique situation. We have found out that a man from Zarnia, whom we thought to be dead, in fact, has survived and is living on Earth with a woman whom he has taken for a wife, also from Zarnia. They have a son named Ray. This man and his wife, in fact, have stayed on Earth from separate and previous missions made to Earth. Now, I know their son, Ray, has our genetics. I know he has special talents. So, you will get to know Ray Berger, now in his twenties. You will meet him in Key West the day after tomorrow. Do you understand?”

Zara replied, “Yes, I do. Please explain how I should meet him and what his great significance is.”

The captain explained, “As I said, his name is Ray. You will meet him in Key West. His significant special talents put him at the top of our list of people on Earth to know and understand. We do not want you to know ahead of time what his talents are, as it may affect the outcome and/or your future relationship. For example, you may not think he has special talents. We could be wrong. You must meet him as planned and try to understand him. We have an idea that this one man may be significant in the Zarnian future. It is for you to understand and figure him out. So, meet him, know him, and after a half year, report to us like everyone else.”

Zara pleaded, “What are you saying? What are you asking? Why are you picking me?”

The captain replied, “Just go to him and figure out what it is without me to cloud your judgment. Go now. Be wary because danger abounds in Malory Square tomorrow. Go. Just go, and let your instincts lead you to the truth of his significance. Once you learn it, help him.”

Zara said, “I’d like easy access to the ship if possible. I don’t think I should live in Key West, and I probably will need access to some of the ship’s facilities. How should I do that?”

The captain replied, “Your Personal Amphibious Street Submarine Airplane awaits you. We have an acronym for it, PASSA. It has a gravity-focusing engine with an atomic core and battery that will last forever. This vehicle looks and feels like a standard jet ski when in amphibious mode. Everybody has jet skis here. Your PASSA will get you back and forth when you need to. Please, only use the submarine or airplane capability if you have an emergency. We don’t want anyone investigating its technology and discovering you are from another planet with advanced technological capabilities. As you told everyone else, we must all keep a low profile.”

Zara said, “But, won’t it look different enough to attract attention?”

The captain replied, “No, it will either look like a jet ski, a motorcycle, a submarine, or an ultra-light plane. The transition from one to the other is automatic and quick. Why don’t you take it out for a try?”

Zara replied, “That’s a great idea, captain. I’m going to do just that, so I can more knowledgeably address everyone tomorrow about Key West attractions. See you later.”

Zara walked to her private room, a benefit she had earned from her work organizing a big part of this mission. At 27, she had accomplished a great deal and had a very promising career. She grabbed the door knob of her room’s unlocked door and walked in.

The Zarnian version of pizza from a couple of nights ago littered the coffee table. Her desk supported a computer and piles of books all stuffed with bookmarks. The bed with sheets and blanket in complete disarray held piles of wrinkled clothing. She saw none of this as she made her way hastily to the closet. She grabbed shorts and a T-Shirt, stripped off her clothing starting a new pile on her bed and floor. Now, naked, she put on just three items of clothing, a tee shirt, a pair of very short shorts, and a pair of deck shoes.

Amidst a great deal of male and some female observation, Zara made her way to the ship’s garage deck. She found her new PASSA, mounted it, and started the nuclear-powered gravity-focusing engine. The PASSA, currently configured as a motorcycle, made very little sound compared to the Harley-Davidson motorcycles now on the streets of Key West. Zara simultaneously punched the ship’s transition door opener, and the PASSA’s accelerator as she raced toward a solid white wall in the ship. The transition room door opened, Zara flashed in, slammed on the brakes, and came to a rubber-burning halt. She pushed the green knob shutting the door she had just come through. Sea water flooded into the room, from a port on the bottom of the room, submerging the PASSA which automatically configured into submarine mode as a water-tight globe equipped with an oxygen supply deployed over her head. When the room completely filled with water, the outer door opened.

Down Zara went to the ocean floor breathing the pressure-controlled supply of oxygen provided by the crystal globe helmet. In the clear water, she rejoiced at the view as she passed sharks, dolphins, mahi-mahi, to name just a few.

Zara pulled back on the handlebars heading for the surface at high speed with the engine seamlessly changing gravity targets to go in the direction that she wanted to go while keeping Earth’s gravity as a major influence. Thus, the PASSA seemed to perform like a standard Earth vehicle. Zara leaped from the water to about fifteen feet above the ocean. The PASSA came down hard with Zara’s now wet T-Shirt revealing the beautiful and firm upper body of a young woman in prime physical condition. During one of the dives under water, her shirt almost lifted off over her head as the motion-produced water pressure pushed up on it.

She stayed on the surface allowing the crystal globe to retract and began riding three-foot waves like jumping ramps sending her into the air and then back down. She began to get the hang of jumping from one wave’s incline to land on another’s decline and surfing a bit before the next takeoff.

Zara, disappointed that she couldn’t try the airplane function when she ran out of time, aimed for a boat ramp near Malory Square. The PASSA anticipated the dry landing and became a motorcycle. Zara rode all around town, visiting the Key West attractions that she would present to the others tomorrow.

She, an attraction herself, rode around the streets of Key West, stopping for a drink and food whenever she felt like it. Some of her attention from onlookers came from the fact that a woman in good shape driving a motorcycle and alone seemed to be a rare sight. She paid for everything with a credit card that the financial people had worked out on the ship. All funds came out of a bank account on Earth in New York City. This completed her objective of testing the Zarnian-issued credit cards that everyone would be using. She had no problems with them and assumed that no one else would either.

When she stopped, she flirted a bit, and realized she could have started a short-term relationship if she desired. Zara, however, drew the line on her escapade there. She would have to wait on that. She said to herself, “Stay out of trouble like you’ve told everyone else on board the ship.” Besides, she had Ray Berger to think about and concentrate on.

Instead, Zara hunted the T-Shirt vendors near Malory Square for a new wardrobe of sorts. To Zara, good T-Shirts became half of her expanding wardrobe. She found shirts that said, “I’m from a different planet. What’s your excuse?” “Follow me close enough, and we’ll morph a bit.” “Girl on a bike, both with warm engines.”

While shopping from store to store, she found a bathing suit she couldn’t pass up. She bought the pink-and-black-striped bikini and stuffed it into the bag full of T-Shirts.

The sun, close to setting, presented a beautiful view as Zara, with her shopping packed safely in the seat compartment, soared her PASSA in motorcycle mode down the boat ramp near Malory Square. She stopped, briefly, as she observed two men carefully watching her. Then she plunged directly down the ramp as the PASSA converted into jet ski mode. After a quarter of a mile, she put the PASSA into submarine mode disappearing under water. She headed back toward the Sun Chaser.

Two friends, who evidently had spent a good deal of time at “Two Friends Bar” witnessed Zara’s plunge into the water and noticed that she did not come back up. They started screaming, “Hep, Hep; she’s drawning. She’s boot’tiful, but shez drawning. Call 911.”

They both bravely jumped in swimming in staggering circles looking for her, while they choked and gasped for air. People gathered on the edge of the water watching with intent amusement as these two well-meaning gentlemen searched for Zara. Eventually, they gave up and talked to a reporter about what they had seen. The reporter, realizing how impaired they had become, put the following article in the “Keysnews.com.”

Yesterday at sunset two patrons of a local bar witnessed a mermaid ride a motorcycle down the Simonton Street boat ramp and plunge into the salty water. The two friends searched exhaustively for the mermaid or her motorcycle. They found neither.

Shesh bootiful! I doughnut timk a merymaid cooed ride a muttercycle,” they said.

It is this reporter’s opinion that the mermaid in question had highly technical skills. When on dry land, she had legs and, in fact, could ride a motorcycle. When she hit the water, her motorcycle became her tail making her much more of a classic mermaid.

The two gentlemen at the scene that tried so hard went back to the bar to spread their version of the story and begin preparing for their next diversion from reality!

 

When Zara returned to the ship and walked down the hall toward her room, she wore one of her new T-shirts.

Thankfully, no one on the ship that saw the article tied it back to Zara. Even if they did think about that possibility, Zara could explain the incident as two good friends who really had many great times together, but couldn’t be relied upon as witnesses of anything.

The very next morning a young boy swimming from the beach near the Simonton Street boat ramp found a T-Shirt with the inscription, “Take me to your leader.” He gave it to his Mom who wears it at the beach every time she takes her son.

Zara videoed the whole Sun Chaser arrival for future use. In fact, Zara videoed everything she could to file into the permanent records of, “Zarnia’s Project Starlight.”

Chapter 3 – Hog Heaven

Ray, Lucy, Derick, and Mona passed through Key Largo, Plantation Key, Wilson Key, and stopped for lunch at Hog Heaven Sports Bar and Grill in Islamorada, FL. Hog Heaven, situated on a beach overlooking the ocean, had excellent food for the price. A giant swordfish, a big knotted rope, and other ocean-oriented items marked the front of Hog Heaven. The tail of a small airplane that supposedly crashed nose first rose at a forty-five-degree angle behind the building

This stop, a Mona and Derick suggestion, had a parking lot half-full of motorcycles, mostly Harley-Davidsons.

Derick said, “Hey, Ray, do you still have your Harley?”

Ray replied, “No, it only took one narrow escape to encourage me to sell it and use the money as a down payment on this new-to-me minivan. I don’t have a death wish like you or Mona.”

Derick said with a grin, “Do you know that our first week in Key West, we’ll be sharing the island with thousands of bikers from all over the country? Next time, we should take Mona and my cycles and ride double to Key West.”

Lucy chimed in, “I’m not sitting on one of those death rockets with either one of you, especially since I’m sure some drinking will be going on.”

Derick said, “That’s what I figured. You have no spirit of adventure!”

Lucy said, “To be more accurate, I have no death wish!”

Mona added, “The bikes are as safe as cars.”

Lucy said, “Changing the subject, did you see anything about a UFO near Earth? Look, this is a picture of it.” Lucy showed Mona and Derick the image on her phone.

Mona replied, “I saw some references on Facebook this morning, but nothing on network news.”

Ray and Lucy walked first toward the restaurant, and Derick and Mona followed behind out of hearing range.

Mona turned toward Derick and said, “Take a look at Ray’s walking stride. I can’t explain it, but it looks a bit mechanical and not smooth. There is just something different about his motion. Can you see what I’m describing?”

Derick replied, “Yes, I can see it, but everyone looks a bit different in the way they move and walk. I do know that in his baseball career he has slid into bases and twisted his knee into horrible positions. Never has he suffered permanent damage. Sports writers have commented on that fact many times.”

Once inside they could see that most of the bikers looked to be fifty-years-old, if not older. The four newcomers took a table near a window overlooking the ocean, a dock loaded with boats, and a beach.

Inside, patrons played pool on four pool tables. A long green railing with tables for four lined up alongside. Lots of green neon adorned the ceiling. In the center of the establishment, sat a blue-topped bar circled by wooden bar stools of various colors and sizes. On the periphery sat a 1950s Cadillac.

Before looking at the menu, Ray said, “The road makes tourism possible so that more people can enjoy the wonder of the keys. Just look out the window! Unfortunately, the beauty suffers from traffic and overuse. It’s as if the thing of beauty ensures its own demise!”

Derick said, “Lighten up, Ray. You are much too serious!”

They ordered seafood and drinks. Ray and Derick both drank two vodkas with lunch. Ray felt great. The vodka made him feel strong and adventurous, and they all knew that it would not affect his driving if he stayed under three or four shots. Curiously, Ray’s reflexes became quicker when he drank vodka straight or on the rocks. He didn’t know why other alcoholic beverages could have the opposite effect. Derick, on the other hand, slurred his words by the time he finished his second vodka.

They exited the building’s rear entrance where Ray said, “First, let’s stroll out to the dock and then to the man-made beach out there close to the ocean. I want to get a good view and smell the ocean.”

The four of them walked to the beach area which had a table with a thatched roof over it and seating for six to ten people. Ray and Derick stopped to look at a small statue of dolphins, while Mona and Lucy continued a bit separating them about twenty yards from the men.

Derick asked Ray, “Didsh ou bring da ring? Rff ou go’n ta ask hrrr ta morry ya?”

Ray replied, “Yes, I have it, and will ask her to marry me sometime within the next week. The less you talk, the better! And no more beverages for you!”

Not far from the ladies, a group of young men with long braided hair wearing dew rags, strings of beads, and vests, congregated around the table. A couple of them with tattoos of the pirate skull and crossbones turned to look at Lucy and Mona. One of the young men yelled out and moved in their direction, “Hey, ya wanna ride with a real man, honey? I’ve got one hot engine on my bike, especially when I’m sitting on it!”

Mona asked Lucy, “Are they talking to us? How do you attract these nut cases? Our jeans and shirts reveal nothing. These guys must be hard up!”

Lucy, replied, “I thought he meant you! Maybe he meant Derick or Ray!”

By then the two tough guys had gotten close enough to hear that last comment and were not happy. The second guy pointing to Ray and Derick said, “Look, honey, please don’t hurt my feelings. I meant both of you beautiful and sexy little ladies. If you want a real ride, ditch these losers and come with us!”

Lucy said, “Ah, does this approach ever work for you?”

The first guy replied, “Well, sometimes it does. Sometimes, it turns out that the ladies are not with anyone and they tell us they would love to try out our hot engine and go for a real hard ride. So, if we don’t ask, how are we going to know. Right?”

Mona said, “I understand. Well, you lucked out this time. I’m married to the man with the neatly-trimmed beard back there, and Lucy here is living with the other. We are very much together with those two.”

Waves of sea water crashed violently against the rock retaining wall sending sprays of water into the air with a great deal of crashing and splashing sounds. The four redirected their attention briefly to look at the spectacle on the rocks. When they focused back to each other Derick and Ray had joined them.

Derick said to the bikers, “Lawk. Baak off. We dunt want an’trable! Dere’s a boonch d’action gong inside. Try yer line in dere! I tink u’ll find mare than u can hendle.”

Testosterone drifted in the air like clouds of a lightning storm. The first guy said, “Look, don’t be so rude. How would you know how much action we can take, old man? You should drink and talk less!” While saying that, he quickly moved around the ladies and pulled a knife from a sheath attached to his belt, placing the point gently but firmly on Derick’s throat. “Now, why don’t you just apologize?”

Derick instantly felt like a big-mouthed idiot. In a reflexive action, Derick backed up a few feet, but the guy, with a menacing smile, followed him flawlessly with the knife on Derick’s neck causing a small dimple at the knife point.

Derick pleaded and sobered up a bit, “Lawk, man, dese our women. U must know wat kind of responsibility that is. It takes time; it takes money. You guys have it made if you’re single. Why change that? Trust me; you dunt want to. Neither one of these ladies wants to be with you, hot rod motor, or not.”

Then Ray, who had stealthily moved to just the right location without attracting attention, held a Smith & Wesson, gun to the knife holder’s temple. He said, “OK, son. You have come to a gunfight with a knife.” Ray pointed up against the temple to ensure that a bullet did not hit someone else after exiting the skull. “Are you always that stupid? Back off instantly, or I will have no choice but to fire in self-defense.” The guy with the knife held it in position for seconds. Ray applied more pressure to the knife-holder’s temple. Finally, the knife holder slowly retracted it and backed away.

The two failing pirates instantly began apologizing, attempting to defuse the situation. “We’re sorry. We were only fooling around. We meant it as a compliment. I apologize to the little ladies, but I must say, they are beautiful. We’ll be over here if you change your minds.”

As the bikers walked away, Ray said to Lucy and Mona with a broad smile, “It’s up to you two. Make a choice! Them or US!” No one laughed at that comment.

Adrenalin pumped through Derick’s body, sobering him up a bit more. He said, “That’s not funny! Ray, how did you do that so fast? Does the vodka loosen you up? You told us many times that it helps you prepare for battle, but I’ve always assumed that meant baseball-diamond wars! And good grief, I didn’t know you were carrying a concealed weapon. What the hell!”

Ray said, “We probably should get out of here before they come back with more soldiers and their complete arsenal.”

Derick dropped the subject as Ray drove the rest of the way to Key West and their destination for the day, the “La Te Da.” hotel.

The rest of the way, Lucy could not put down her cell phone as she searched for news about the UFO she thought she had spotted. NASA finally admitted that they were tracking something small headed toward Earth at incredible speeds.

 

Chapter 4 –Escape

Albrecht Stiefvater crouched in fear. Rubble, rubble, rubble everywhere around him. Explosions, explosions, explosions everywhere around him. What went wrong? How could this happen to the master race? He knew now how it felt when all your assumptions about life, and how you fit into that life, are suddenly proved completely wrong.

He took a deep breath filling his lungs with acrid dust and fine particles of masonry and evaporated flesh. He coughed as the irritation in his lungs reached the painful peak of possibilities. A faint whistle quickly pierced his ears becoming louder and louder. Now he could see it as it headed right at him. He hurriedly crawled into a hole in the rubble as deeply as he could, scraping his body through torn clothing. Then a sound so loud his ears went silent as rubble and dust flew high into the air all around him. He felt, more than he heard. The thumping as pieces collided and came to rest at the insistence of gravity.

The explosions stopped as bombers turned around to return to their bases in France and England. Now came the tanks from the East and the West. His imminent capture caused him to shudder. However, it beat the crushing and smashing death that men, women, and children suffered all around him.

He knew he could trade his knowledge for a new life helping the approaching conquerors develop weapons of the future. He knew a great deal about future weapons. The rocket program had caused its share of death. The nuclear program promised to provide explosive power greater than mankind could imagine. All the destruction around him, from months of bombing, could be the result of one bomb. The biological agent of grotesque death proceeded on schedule. Even now the use of Hydrogen cyanide gas helped eliminate the undesirables in his country. Yet, these techniques could all be replaced by his creative methods of destruction that only a few of his closest friends shared. He had participated, as an expert, in all of these killing techniques. His close associates respectfully called him Doctor Death.

Hunkering down, no longer ruled his actions when the bombs stopped. So, he grabbed a cigarette and climbed to the top of the rubble hill near him. Looking around him at the devastation, he lit the cigarette drawing smoke into his already painful lungs. He needed the calming drug that cigarettes provided. His torn and filthy uniform barely covered his body as he looked out to the horizon observing the destruction around him.

Interrupting the monotonous gray lumpy landscape, just ten yards away a woman, now face down and still in death, held a bundle she had tried to shield from the debris that had fallen all over them. Her tiny baby, wrapped in a torn and filthy blanket, lay still with eyes wide open and staring at the sky that had rained death down upon them.

He blew out a puff of smoke while thinking deeply. He looked at the insignias on his uniform that identified him as a high-ranking officer in that army of his destroyed nation. If they had only listened to him, none of this would have happened.

He blew smoke rings as the tanks and soldiers approached from miles away. Then he saw it. In the distance, a huge sphere broke the view of rubble. He carefully walked and climbed toward this curiosity that had survived the bombs and destruction around it. When he got close enough, he realized that this Volkswagen-sized globe showed all the countries on Earth the way it might be seen from space. The globe rested in a display stand with a drawer. Inside the drawer, he found a box labeled, “Escape Kit.” Inside the escape kit, he found a harness similar to a parachute harness.

He thought about all the possibilities for his future when the invading armies reached him, and he decided to make a bold move by following the escape kit instructions. He had no idea what kind of an escape this would be. He felt, however, that he had little to lose. If he didn’t take this chance, the rest of his life might be worthless. He had one of those gut feelings you get sometimes. So, he decided to take a chance on this mysterious possibility of escape.

First, he put the harness on and attached it to a port on the top of the globe. Second, he pushed the escape button on the side of the display case. A click sounded, and two more balloons inflated automatically to the size of the globe. The globes rose into the air until the harness attachment line became taut. Then he rose with the globe now a set of three hydrogen balloons. The display case stayed on the ground.

He witnessed the scene below as the conquering army advanced on the crippled city with him now rising above it all. Once again, his expectations of his future changed. Now, he saw himself drifting somewhere to a remote wilderness town and starting life over again. He knew he had the intelligence to become a successful businessman and earn his way to fame and fortune. After all, he rationalized, the nation he left had failed because of the mistakes of others, not his. And, if it had been left up to him, he would be ruling the world now.

The breeze blew his balloon and him across the landscape. An image of a black-and-pink-bikini-clad woman appeared on a broken piece of metal as he floated by. He recognized it and smiled. Then, as he rose higher, the scene below became an expanse of miniature moving pieces that could no longer be identified. Only continents and oceans could be discerned from his advancing altitude. Of course, he hadn’t thought through the means of escape. This escape began to seem foolhardy as the air became thin and extremely cold. He shivered uncontrollably as the cold sank deeply into his body lowering his body temperature. He passed out into a sleepy haze of dreaminess slumping over into his harness as the balloon, and he rose higher and higher.

In the distance, at his altitude, a small vehicle the size of a WWII jet slowly advanced on him. When almost touching him, it began to hover, and a hatch door opened. Mechanical arms reached out to grab his harness and release the balloons. The arms slowly pulled him into the vehicle as the hatch door closed behind him. The craft, shaped like two dinner plates one upside down attached to the bottom one right side up, sped away at a high enough speed to disappear after one deep breath.

Dr. Death awoke half an Earth year later on planet Zoleron. His rescuers escorted him to a beautiful home in the suburbs near the city of Bunia. Once inside, a man in a military uniform sat down across a table from him. “My name is Dergano. Sir, we the people of Zoleron, have rescued you from either death or life in prison for your part in the atrocities, or what you would call, ‘ethnic cleansing,’ that you and your country performed on the rest of your sorry planet Earth. We have followed that conflict for a few years and know that you have the expertise we need to build an invincible fleet of ships and men. We need you for our weapons systems. You are the expert in our area of the universe.”

Death said, “So, I get freedom, free room, and free board. You get my background knowledge in weapons systems. I like the deal and accept. Would you throw in one more little thing for me? I need an endless supply of women to keep me truly happy. You know what I mean.”

Dergano said, “Yes, I do!”

Chapter 5 – La Te Da

La Te Da, on Duval Street, has semicircular brick steps at its front door with a blue-striped awning overhead. At the sidewalk behind a white fence are tables and chairs sheltered by dark blue umbrellas. To the right of the main building, still behind the white fence, a separate building contains an outside full sit- down bar.

Behind the bar is a pool surrounded by a building containing more rooms. Colors flourish, red, light blue, dark blue, light green, dark green, yellow, and more. La Te Da serves full dinners that compete fabulously with any restaurant in town. The efficient and entertaining bartenders both in and out set the mood at La Te Da.

In the evening, their live entertainment attracts an audience from all over Key West. Downstairs in the main building a singing piano player keeps everyone singing and dancing. The full bar in the back of the room helps. Upstairs, several nights a week, a cross-dresser entertains to a normally-full audience.

During the light tourist 414 season, their cheapest room is
$215 per night. During heavy tourist season, their most expensive
rooms are $400 per night. On New Year’s Eve, their rooms are over
$400 per night. The prices are well worth it. La Te Da is where
Ray, Lucy, and the Clarks would stay while in Key West.

Ray and Lucy had been trying unsuccessfully to conceive a child for a couple of years. They didn’t know why they could not conceive, but had just started the process of finding out why and what they could do.

Ray did not feel that marriage was a requirement for raising a child. So, Ray had not proposed marriage to Lucy. From Ray’s perspective, a child did not automatically require marriage for the parents. He would say, “Think of all the divorced parents who have children from previous marriages, and all of the single parents. We would be no different than them, right? Maybe better, actually.”

Lucy, on the other hand, perceived that Ray wanted to marry her only if a child resulted from their union. Lucy felt like a commitment to her should be made first, and then a couple’s commitment to a child.

Ray began to see her point and figured that this trip would bring them closer together and he would propose marriage during the trip, pregnant or not.

After checking in and unpacking, they all met downstairs at the outdoor bar. Ray had sobered up a bit since his Hog Heaven vodkas. He ordered another vodka martini and sipped on it frequently, while they discussed the narrow escape they had at Hog Heaven. Ray could feel the warm numbing sensation as the vodka once again invaded his body. He began perceiving everything moving in slow motion. He could easily sense all the action around him as if he had eyes all over his body. Compared to everyone else his moves had blazing speed. Why had he not tried this in a ball game? If he had, he would probably see the baseball’s seams moving and know where that ball would break. He had thought of this before, but feared to try it because drinking had so much of a negative reputation. Only lately had he begun to understand that he performed better physically under the influence of vodka. The amount of vodka became the big question.

He played back the altercation at Hog Heaven, seeing the thug pull his knife in seemingly slow motion. As the man’s knife headed toward Derick, Ray had plenty of time to think. Like in a slow-motion movie, he saw himself pulling his gun from his concealed belt holster, flipping the safety off, and putting it against the thug’s temple. All of this had been completed while the thug’s knife hand moved less than an inch. Ray put the gun on the thug’s temple before his knife came close to Derick. The only problem seemed to be that Ray didn’t know the correct dosage of vodka. If he took too little or too much the consequences could be dire.

He put these thoughts aside and suggested, since it was so early, they could walk up to the Conch Republic Seafood Company Restaurant on 631 Greene Street adjacent to the Wharf. It was 6:00 p.m. when they arrived.

Ray ordered another vodka martini while he waited for his Ahi Tuna appetizer. He began drinking another when the appetizer arrived.

The band played rock music that forced them to move to the beat in their seats and eventually stand up and dance in the space between their table and the band. People began to watch Ray carefully as he moved in ways that no one had witnessed before. He could bend to the beat in ways that would send most people to the floor. But Ray had the ability to defy gravity and to recover instantly without falling down. He seemed to be a circus act on steroids!

Then, while waiting for dinner, he drank another. Ray’s condition went from unparalleled good 414performance to unparalleled bad!
At some time during his fourth vodka martini, Ray’s conscious mind
stopped recording events.

Both couples continued dancing to the live rock band, until Ray, indicating that he must visit the restroom disappeared around a corner.

While Ray attended the men’s room, Mona noticed a woman dancing nearby. She said to Derick, “Look at the way she moves. It’s just like Ray! Do you see that, Derick?”

Derick replied, “Yes, I agree. She moves like Ray.”

Ray never came back, and no attempts at reaching him worked. The three walked around the area in separate directions returning to the Conch Republic to compare notes. No one had seen him, so they decided to walk over to Malory Square to find Ray. When they got there, Key West police and State Police were everywhere. They talked to several people and found out that a terrorist had threatened to shoot all the, in the terrorist’s word’s, “Filthy American Capitalist Pigs.” Based on witness testimony, he never got a chance. A man nearby had shot him in the head between the nose and eyes. The terrorist had died instantly dropping his AK-47 at his feet and falling on top of it.

Derick said, “Do you suppose that was the work of Ray? I hope not.”

“Ditto that,” said Mona.

Lucy said, “I’m not ready to call the police. We should probably keep texting and calling while we follow separate routes back to La Te Da, to see if he made it back there. He has his gun. That could be good, or that could be very bad! I’m really worried!”

Eventually, they all met back at the La Te Da bar around 10:00 p.m. Ray had not returned. Lucy called the police who promised to let them know if Ray showed up at the police station.

Chapter 6 – Arrival

Waking from a deep sleep, he became aware of falling. Something is wrong. My head is not on a pillow, and there is no sheet or blanket. Why? he thought. From where? He abruptly opened his eyes just in time to witness the surface of the ocean devouring his shoes, then his pants, then his chest, and then his eyes as he tumbled underwater in a very deep salty place. He could taste the salt water as he breathlessly and instinctively used his legs to propel himself upward toward the surface. Reaching the air above the six-foot waves, he took a deep breath and looked around without seeing any land. What he did see turned out to be an unmanned sea kayak filled with water. How strange, he asked himself, How could you be so fortunate after being dumped into the ocean, to have a mode of transportation to use, within twenty feet?

He knew a bit about kayaking, one of his favorite pastimes. He mentally thanked whoever tipped over and fell out of this kayak for having the presence of mind to tether the paddling system to the kayak. Then nearby, face down in the water, he found the lifeless body of a woman wearing a pink-and-black-striped bikini. He couldn’t help but wonder what had happened to this poor young woman in the prime of her life. Likely, her demise would ensure that he would survive. Although, he thought, it would have been nice to encounter her alive. He thanked her and apologized for having to leave her body to save himself. From somewhere the muffled sound of, “You are welcome,” reached his ears!

He reached into the cockpit to the left of the seat and found a water pump exactly where he would have placed it. He looked topside aft seeing a paddle float. This kayak could save his life. He saw no land in any direction. That probably meant that the closest land might be at least twenty miles away, much too far to swim. Besides, he wore a backpack which might carry something he needed. He would investigate that possibility later. He didn’t know why or how he got dropped in the ocean, but did know what to do next.

He pulled the paddle-float from under the bungee cords on the rear deck of the kayak. He pulled his backpack off and placed it under some bungee cords on the front of the kayak. He unfolded the paddle float and inflated it. He grabbed the paddle and put one end of his paddle system in the bungee near the rear of the cockpit and put the paddle float under the other end of the paddle. In this way, he had a temporary outrigger on this kayak and could easily climb in by putting his hands in the middle of the paddle outrigger and hooking his left leg into the cockpit and then twisting himself into the cockpit. Once in, he began using the bailing pump to get the water out of the cockpit and the large sponge he found behind the seat to finish the job. Inside a coffee-can-sized container built into the kayak, he found a handheld GPS device. He read the latitude and longitude, GPS location, 24°36’26.33” N and 81°51’42.33” W, not far from Key West, Florida, according to the GPS device’s map. He removed and deflated the paddle float, put everything away, and paddled toward Key West almost six miles away. He felt a presence near him which he could not understand. There could be no one out here without a boat or a submarine, he thought. After he had paddled about a half hour, he felt that presence weaken.

He suffered confusion about who he was and where he had come from. His name. His NAME. He couldn’t remember his name, or anything else about his life before paddling this kayak. His memory had been erased.

He couldn’t believe what he saw next in front of him,414 headed in
roughly the same direction. A woman swimming, clad only in a
pink-and-black-striped bikini. He pulled up alongside her and said,
“Hey, you’re a bit far from land to be swimming alone without an
escort, aren’t you? I thought I saw your lifeless body back there
where I splashed down?”

“Oh,” she said as she turned over to him and began treading water.” We are not that far out. Look behind you. He did and saw the edge of a swimming pool, at first hazy but clearing and becoming sharply visible behind him. It moved with him, staying only a couple of feet behind. When he turned around, he was amazed that suddenly he was in a pool and not recognizing anything, or any of the bikini-clad women looking down at him. The bikini woman he followed into the pool climbed out and slowly became invisible.

The thought hit him, in a comical way, that he had died, and this might be an atheist’s version of heaven. It didn’t seem too far from the suicide bombers’ wish that radical jihadists employed. That’s when he witnessed the man with a gun pointed at him.

Thoughts of heaven vaporized as the gun holder said, “What the hell are you doing? Get out of my pool immediately. You have scared all my wives so that they might have nightmares for the rest of the year!414 What kind of trick did you pull to simply
materialize out of the side of my pool without warning? Ladies,
relax. It’s just a foolish prank. You wouldn’t get all worked up
over a magician’s trick, would you?”

“Well,” said Susan, “That all depends on whose being tricked and the perceived consequences if the trick goes bad, doesn’t it? If the magician put one of us in a box full of monkeys and told us to teach them to dance the hokey pokey or he’d make us disappear forever like we have never existed at all, I’d be scared to diapers, wouldn’t you girls?”

The man holding the gun said, “That is a ridiculous analogy, Susan. Get serious!”

Susan replied, “Jake, you are too serious. Why don’t you drop your gun before you hurt someone? Let’s find out how he managed this very entertaining trick. Okay?”

The jumper thought to himself and unfortunately subliminally uttered, Where the hell am I. Maybe it’s a retreat for the insane. What man would possibly want these many wives? What woman would want to share her husband with one other woman let alone this many other women? And this idiot, I guess Jake, pulled a gun on me just because I splashed down into his pool! And then this business about nightmares. I ….

All the women in bikinis nodded yes to something not shared with him.

The jumper looked again at the man with the gun and proceeded to swim to the steps of the pool and climbed out onto the concrete deck. Several women yelled, “What do you want to do with him, Jake?”

Jake, the man holding the gun, replied with a question to everyone, “We should teach him a lesson in manners, shouldn’t we? Did anyone see where he came from?”

“I did,” replied one of the women. “He came from that thing that cleans stuff off the surface of the pool.”

Another woman volunteered, “Anita, you mean the skimmer, Darling.”

Anita replied, “Yes, the skimmer. I happened to be staring right at the skimmer, imagining that if I crawled into it where would I end up. Under the influence of the contents of my vodka flask I thought, I might end up in some exotic paradise? I could see the paradise full of young people in bikinis. I would have been so happy to join all of them. So, I did and frolicked amidst such merriment until I had enough and started to return here. As I watched myself in this scene, that man squeezed out of the skimmer with me. We became a morphed version of the two of us. The closer we got to the center of the pool, the more his image took over until I was gone and it was just him in the pool and me here. I thought it to be quite a lovely trick. As he rose out of the water, Jake, you grabbed your gun and yelled at him to get out of the pool.” She took another big gulp from a flask she held tightly in her hand.

Jake said, “Susan, you just saw him appear out of you in your daydream. Did anyone else see anything? And what is in that flask?”

The murmur from the crowd continued for minutes as the crowd discussed what they had seen. Ultimately, no one saw anything different than a man, suddenly, in the pool where there had been none seconds before. Most just looked in that direction as Jake yelled at him.

While the discussions went on, the jumper looked carefully at Jake’s pistol, noticing that the safety was in the on position and that Jake did not have his fin 414ger on the trigger. As if he had
done this sort of thing his whole life, the jumper acted quickly
with unnatural speed and accuracy using unmatched hand-eye
coordination. He reached out and grabbed the gun with his right
hand raising it into the air with incredible speed. It was like a
frog using his tongue to snap a fly out of the air. Within a
microsecond, the jumper had the gun pointed at Jake with the safety
off and his index finger set against the side of the gun over the
top of the trigger guard.

The jumper said, “OK, Jake, you seem to be leading this crowd of women since you spoke first and with authority and they all seem to listen to you. It is beyond my comprehension how any man can control any team of women with verbal commands. You and I are going for a ride. Make sure everyone lets us pass as we make our way to your car. I have no idea how I got here, but just want you to bring me to the police where I can get a fair shake.”

Jake replied, “Look, you startled us. Well, you startled me to be precise. We mean you no harm. I don’t get along with the police very well, so I’d like to keep them out of this. Why don’t I just take you to one of my guest rooms where you can shower and put on some dry clothes. We are about the same size so that I can give you an outfit.”

The jumper hesitated but with incredible speed put the safety back into the on position, ejected the magazine, and cleared the cartridge in the breach of the gun. He handed it back to Jake and said, “OK, let’s go.” The crowd parted as he and Jake began walking toward the house.

Jake said, “What’s your name?”

The jumper replied, “I don’t know. I seem to have amnesia.”

“Well,” replied Jake, “you certainly relieved me of my Glock swiftly. Do you remember anything about yourself?”

“No, I do not remember anything.” At that, the man pulled out his wallet and looked at a stack of cards. He found a license. “It says here that I’m Ray Berger, born October 22, 1991.”

Jake replied, “OK, Ray, that’s a start.”

Jake led Ray to a restroom adjacent to the pool where Ray could shower and dry off. Jake passed dry clothing to414 Ray so
Ray could be drip free before entering the house. The backpack that
Ray had lost track of suddenly appeared near his pile of wet
clothing. He put it aside until he showered, dried off, and
dressed.

After that process, he looked at himself in the mirror and squinted a bit and wrinkled his face in a questioning gesture. “Who is that?” Next, he picked up the backpack and towel dried it. The seams were tight and covered with a sealant to make it waterproof. The zipper also seemed to be tight and water proof. Before Ray could look much further, Jake knocked on the door and said, “Ray Berger, are you finished?”

“Yes, I am and will be right out.”

Ray emerged clean, dressed in Jake’s clothing and carrying a towel full of wet clothes and a waterproof backpack.

“Well,” said Jake, “You look better in those Walmart specials than I did.”

“Jake, this backpack is waterproof, indicating someone with intelligence dropped me off here. That leads me to believe that you were picked as a person I could trust to help me figure out how to reenter my life after, who knows what has happened to me. I know nothing about me and, in fact, my image in the mirror struck no tremors of recognition before I walked out. But, tell me about yourself, so maybe we can make some sense of why I am here under mysterious circumstances?”

Jake said, “OK, I’m an Internet entrepreneur with one success, so far. I developed a website that helps people find relatives from the past. My system can be used to discover your ancestors or lost family members. That must be why you stand in front of me now! Maybe my website can help you find yourself!”

Ray said, “What’s with the gun? I posed no threat to you in your pool. You were nowhere near shooting me before I relieved your weapon from you. And I, in contrast, seemed to have the swiftness of a gunfighter from the old wild west or what we imagine to be a gunfighter! So, maybe I have questions that your website can help me with. Do you have a computer I can use? I’m sure I have experience with computers but don’t know for sure since I cannot remember anything before today.”

Jake replied, “I’ll bring you to your room and pick up a computer on the way. I have a bunch of computers for guests to use. As far as the gun goes, I have a permit to carry a concealed weapon. It’s my second amendment right. I’ll never use it unless I or someone close to me faces deadly force. I have a shooting range out back so I can practice a great deal. However, I’ve never practiced confronting a real person, especially one with your reflexes. I don’t know how you reacted so quickly, but I wish I could have countered the move. It just doesn’t make sense. I barely felt the gun leave my hands and you were already pointing it at me. What secrets are you keeping beneath your amnesia fog?”

Ray replied, “I have no idea where that came from and look forward to finding out.”

Jake led Ray to a guest bedroom. On the way, they passed a workout room with free weights and aerobic machines, a professional kitchen, and entertainment center with a 70-inch television, a huge living room with overstuffed leather furniture that rivaled, “Rooms to Go.” They proceeded up a semi-circle staircase to the second floor, down a hallway, and to a door labeled, “GUEST-1.”

Jake said, “Ok, this is yours for now. I’ve got a meeting to attend for a couple of hours. Please, make yourself comfortable, dig into that backpack for clues and check out my website which may be useful. The password to the laptop is, ‘GUEST-1’ and my website is the home page for Google Chrome.”

Jake brought him into the room, gave him a key, and said, “No tipping allowed.”

Ray smiled as the door closed behind Jake.

 

Chapter 7 – The Backpack

Ray placed the backpack on the room’s coffee table and sat down on the leather couch. Around him, he could see a couple of leather chairs, kitchenette, door to the restroom, and door to the bedroom. On the other side of the room from the hallway door, sunlight shone through a curtained window. Ray got up, walked over to the window, parted the curtains, and looked out. Below him, he could see the pool he had just been in, still loaded with beautiful young women. Beyond the pool lay a large field, perhaps five acres of heavily treed forest, and then a huge body of water that may have been an ocean.

Talking to himself, Ray said, This guy claims he developed a website that helps people find lost relatives. He claims all the young women in the pool are wives. Where is that legal? Maybe he’s running an Internet brothel. He can’t possibly have a harem this large. These women would tear him to pieces. I just don’t get it. Why am I here? Where have I been? How did I relieve him of his gun so quickly and efficiently?

Ray sat down again on the couch and opened the backpack. Inside he found a Smith & Wesson, M&P, .40 caliber, handgun. Next, he found several boxes of defensive ammunition that contain bullets that are hollowed out. These bullets cause more damage and tend to stay in the body that has been shot. This way the target tends to be more affected and the bullet doesn’t tend to travel on to accidentally strike another and potentially innocent person. He started talking to himself again, Am I on a mission? Am I an assassin? Have I been trained?

He had no answers. So, he pulled out another item, a cell phone. Of course, it had been password protected. He had no way of remembering what the password was. However, when he pressed the iPhone 6s home button the phone menu opened. He concluded that the phone recognized his thumbprint and must be his phone, or someone went to a lot of work to make it look like his phone. So, he pressed the home button for a long time activating SIRI. The SIRI reply proved nonstandard, “My name is Jean. I’m an upgrade to SIRI, with the ability to hear and remember all your questions, even if they are self-directed. I also have the power to anticipate questions. I have access to all of the Internet.”

He checked the text messages. One was from Lucy Lenora! Lucy had texted him a week ago, “Ray, where are you? Please let me know. You had too much vodka to drink and were very drunk. I tried to get you to eat something, but you were so bad off that when you tried to eat it, it just fell out of your mouth and dripped down your chin and onto your shirt and then the table and finally the floor. We started using less and less vodka in the martinis, but by that time it was much too late. You drooled like an adult-sized infant. Suddenly, claiming that you were going to the restroom, you left and didn’t return. I’ve been trying to call you and text you since then. It’s been hours! Everyone is looking for you.”

Then Ray read his reply from an hour after her question. “I’m okay and headed back to our room. See you later.” However, he could not have been okay, because the only evidence that the texting occurred was the iPhone message log. He had no memory whatsoever of sending it himself.

He didn’t remember drinking too much, leaving, or anything. Texting on his phone had to be his texting, right? “Drank too much” “Drank too much” He repeated that over and over in his head until he did remember something. He could see vodkas in his past as a very pretty woman looked on with a concerned look on her face. “Ray,” she said, “Haven’t you had enough?”

“No” he had replied. “I’m fine. When I have too much, I’ll know it. Leave me alone. I know what I’m doing and don’t need any help from you!” Something in his reply began to stimulate memory cells in his brain. They were not dead. Just sort of dormant or injured. Then, the rest of the days of his life began to fill in. They were in Key West with friends at a restaurant drinking and eating. The vodkas were going down easier and easier. The vodka made him feel indestructible, and he did become quicker in fights or battles. Evidently, the positive effects diminished after a certain amount, and he obviously didn’t know the optimum amount yet. The evidence of his diminished capacity came from Lucy’s description of his condition the day he walked out. Apparently, he gained back his skills as the vodka gradually cleared from his body.

The name on his license is accurate. His girlfriend’s name is Lucy. He cannot remember what happened after he left her. He can’t remember the texting. Where had he gone after leaving her? What kind of trouble must he have encountered?

Ray texted back again, “Hey, I’m okay now at a rich polygamist guy’s house.” The message showed up as undelivered! Apparently, his cell phone carrier did not reach his current location. He punched the little-cogged gear wheel to gain access to the phone’s configuration. He picked the Wi-Fi option and found one very strong Wi–Fi signal called, “DREAMER.” But, what could the password be? He looked around the room and all over the laptop for a clue. Where would you hide your Wi-Fi password? “DREAMER,” what the hell did that have to do with anything? Well, honestly, he didn’t know the answer. Then he thought a bit harder about all the beautiful young women in bikinis just one floor down at the pool. I’ll bet the password is, “plethora.” He typed in, “plethora” and that didn’t work.

Ray said to himself, What the hell can it be? Look on the laptop. That’s where he found it, “Chibouk,” scribbled on the back of the laptop. That worked! His cell phone, now connected to Wi-Fi, still showed his text messages as, “Not Delivered.”

Ray decided that the local Wi-Fi he connected to did not have Internet access. That made sense since if he was a prisoner, the SOB that put him in here did not want his messages to make it to a destination that might be able to help him.

He tried calling the number, but there was no service.

In frustration, Ray flopped back on the couch’s comfortable leather back and fell asleep. He woke up at the end of a dream that didn’t make sense.

 

On a table against a black background a colorful red, white, and blue toy top spun in perfect balance until friction on the table top slowed its spin down, and the top wobbled and fell. Around a groove on the circumference of the top, “Zarnia” had been carefully carved twice. The two carvings balanced each other out. A child picked up the toy top, spun it by wrapping a string around the middle groove, and throwing the top away holding onto the string. When the top came to the end of the string, the top spun rapidly onto a pitch-black plane with a pitch-black background. The top spun on the bottom spire for a minute before it lost enough momentum to topple over. Before the first child could pick up the top, another child picked it up. He waved his hand over it and put it back on the table top. The first child then picked it up, wrapped the string around it, and threw it out and away from him. The toy top spun in a wobble this time and would not balance at all.

 

Ray had no idea what this toy-top dream had to do with him. So, he made some coffee in the kitchenette and logged into the laptop using, “GUEST-1” for an ID and Password. Then he connected with Wi-Fi so he could access the Internet using the same network and password as with his phone. Ultimately, he had the same Wi-Fi Internet access limitation. He yelled, “What the hell?” He walked to the hallway door to exit and found it locked on the outside. Now he had, in fact, become a prisoner! He picked up the phone on the table near the sofa and got no dial tone.

He pounded on the door. He screamed at it. “Let me out of here. Right now,” no one answered. “Oh crap,” he said. “Get the damn pictures, and we’ll measure every step.”

But, what did that mean? His brain was misfiring, and he couldn’t control it.

Ray screamed, “What the burning brain cells does that mean?”

Siri, AKA Jean, answered, “I’ve been following your line of questions, and although I cover the entire Internet, I cannot find anything related to your questions. You are a very confused young man. You should seek professional help. I’m going to sleep now.” His phone began to snore!

 

 

Chapter 8 – The Web Site

Gradually his phone’s snoring began to fade, and it occurred to Ray that he had two options. One, he could start shooting his way out. But, there was no indication that he had encountered lethal force. Blasting away with a .40 caliber semi-automatic weapon could not be justified. He believed, wholeheartedly, that justification of lethal force in the form of a Smith & Wesson M&P only took place against something truly dangerous like a knife, another gun, a karate black belt, a sledgehammer, an ice pick, or some other irrefutable instrument of death. But, why not just blast the lock on this door. But, what waited for him on the other side?

Another option was to try the website that Jake called his website supposedly the home page set for Google Chrome on the guest laptops. It apparently could help him find relatives from the past. But, what good would that do him? Well, if he had access to that website and the rest of the Internet had access to the same website, then the Internet might well be available from the relative’s website. It might be possible to set up a route on the website to pass traffic from his laptop or phone out to the rest of the world. Ray decided he should be able to accomplish this and worked on the idea for a couple of hours. Of course, he couldn’t know if he knew how to do this or not!

He tried everything he knew or could remember but did not get outside of the local Wi-Fi network. There was only one website available to him, www.FamilyTreeFound.com. He followed the instructions by filling out almost nothing except, the data that existed on his driver’s license. That’s all he had.

This process took five minutes, and he pressed the “Report” button. The website started to churn away devouring data from his license. The facility saved the completed report and displayed it for Ray to read.

He read the entire report but didn’t feel that he read about himself. He felt like he read about a stranger he must get to know again. Nothing in the report made any sense because he had no memories to verify that the report accurately represented him.

Only one thing struck him. He knew from his phone text messages that he had a significant relationship with Lucy Lenora. That is the only relationship he could verify. Oddly, Lucy Lenora showed up with an alias of, Karen Anne Potter! Maybe he knew that before his amnesia or maybe he didn’t. It just seemed strange.

So, while he pondered this fact, he turned his attention to his phone. He looked at all the text messages. Of course, the one from Lucy was there, but there were several posted after that one.

One was from someone called, Jungle Rat, who asked, “Who da hell da yar tink y are blasting yar way in her like dat. We’s a peasful people, and dunt deserves dat tretmunt. Yar gonna be fixed far wat yar dun.”

Ray had replied, “I don’t care what you think. I must get back to where ever I came from. If you know anything that might help me, tell me now, or I’ll come in and start messing you up!”

Rat replied, “Na weigh. We’s peaceful. Dunt know shit bout ya. Yar crazy. We dunt wnt no tubble. Da ya here me, ya nut case?”

Ray asked, “Why did you abduct me then?”

Rat replied, “We dudn’t yar fool. Yar just be like a bad dream. Go bak whure yar com frm. Leve us alone.”

Ray asked, “So, I can just walk out? You don’t care?”

Rat replied, “We dnt wnt ya. Get out. Now!”

That ended the text message conversation. What the hell did it mean? And who the hell uses a slang dialect in their text messages?”

More text message conversations existed just as confusing and unexplained. How could Ray text these people anyhow? They weren’t in his contact list, were they?

He looked and, in fact, they were. There, as plain as the moon on a clear day, he found Jungle Rat! Extensive contacts with text messaging to match littered his phone. None of them made more sense than the one with Jungle Rat!

Then Ray saw the photo app icon. He wondered if he had taken any pictures that might clear up his old and forgotten several days and most of the rest of his long-term memory. Just as text messages that he didn’t remember might lead him back to his identity, pictures taken during his ‘after too much vodka’ experience might also help him find himself.

So, he opened the photo app and witnessed about a hundred photos taken in the last week or so. The first one showed a Key West bar with a table for four seating one young lady, a couple, and an empty seat. The empty place had a drained vodka martini glass and scattered remains of beans and rice. He guessed he took the picture and the others smiled because he could barely hold his phone to take any pictures. He had blurred and tilted all the images.

Ray knew the pictures carried GPS information that could be used to pinpoint the location of where each picture had been taken. Ray found Key West GPS data in all the pictures taken in Key West. Strangely, he could remember or figure out how to do many things, but couldn’t remember any names.

He looked out the window and took a picture of the pool and all the bikinied ladies. When he looked at the GPS data embedded in the picture file, it indicated something quite remarkable. The GPS data, in the picture, contained a non-standard GPS latitude and longitude. He said to himself aloud, “What the heck does that GPS indicate? It makes no sense at all! What can I do with that information? Could we be on another planet? How do I process this information?”

“Well,” said a voice from somewhere. “I’ve been listening to you talk to yourself for almost a day. I might be able to help you with some of your questions if you just ask the right way.”

Ray looked around and realized that the voice probably came from his backpack. He opened it up and unloaded the gun and cartridges. He pulled out toiletries. His phone was already out. Out came a change of underwear and he began to feel like Jack Creature, the private investigator that didn’t have a place to live or a place to keep things. So, he had no clothing except what he had on. When his clothing became dirty, he just bought new clothes. He simply didn’t keep anything.

He dug in deeper into the backpack and found a vial of brown liquid. He opened the bottle and smelled it. He tasted it. “This is a bottle of Jameson Irish Whisky!”

The voice in the backpack said, “You are correct. Can you pour a shot for me please?”

Ray said whimsically, “Do you have a shot glass?”

The voice said, “Pick up the bottle and pour it into the palm of your hand.”

Ray replied, “You can’t be serious!”

The voice said, “Just do it!”

So, Ray poured the bottle slowly into the palm of his hand. To his surprise, he saw the brown liquid pile up in his hand formed like a small glass. He stopped pouring when he imagined a shot-sized glass would be topped off.

Ray said, “OK, that was weird. You are invisible, and everything you touch is also, right?”

The voice replied, “I am invisible. There is a small whiskey salad … Well, it is a surprise. Did you ever hear of whiskey salad?”

“Uh, no,” confided Ray. “I can’t wait to try it. So, how do I try this salad?”

The voice said, “Just hold the palm of your hand out again, and I will serve the salad for you.”

That’s what Ray did, and he found a fork in the kitchen and dug into where he thought the salad would be and then put it into his mouth. “This salad is amazing!” he said. “Okay, Mr. Invisible! How long have you been here? How can I help you? How can you help me?”

Mr. Invisible responded, “My real name is Boris Bodoni, and I can’t help you. Only you can help you. I can talk to you and explain what I can see, but you must figure out what will make your situation better. Frankly, you are in a world of trouble, and I don’t think you have a chance of surviving. For one thing, you became aware of yourself and your pitiful life at the age of, what, when you kayaked into that pool?”

Ray said, “Well, based on my license, I’m 25 years old.”

Boris said, “Yes, doesn’t it strike you as a bit odd that you have no memory of anything before?”

Ray said, “I do, though. I know my girlfriend is Lucy Lenora and I do remember having too many vodkas.”

“Right,” Boris replied. “But, most of your memory is gone. What would explain a loss of memory?”

Ray said, “Some injury to the head would do it. But, I don’t have a head injury, do I?”

“Well if the injury is bad enough you might not even know you have the injury. In fact, if a head injury is bad enough what might be the case?”

That’s about the time when Ray heard a commotion outside of the one window in the room overlooking the pool. He jumped up, walked quickly to the window and peered out at the crowd of bikini-clad women. They had formed a line that circled the pool in a long spiral with the pool at the center and the end of the line being out of site in the distance. One by one they were walking down the pool steps into the pool.

The pool had become a raging spiral of moving water. Women caught in this spiral circled the pool repeatedly as they moved closer and closer to the middle of the pool. Once in the middle and vortex of this water tornado, they got sucked in and disappeared.

Ray dove at the backpack and grabbed the gun and magazine. He put a handful of cartridges into his pocket and used more to load the gun’s clip. Once done, he pushed the magazine into the handle of the gun and racked the slide, effectively loading one cartridge into the chamber. Now he was ready to do combat. He jumped up and virtually flew to the door.

Boris said, “Ray, what are you doing?”

“I’ve got to save the rest of those women.”

“What women?”

“The ones in the pool being sucked out of a drain in the center of the pool?”

Boris replied, “No! When I look out the window, I see a peaceful Intracoastal. Can’t brain injuries cause hallucinations?”

Ray said, “No, this is not a hallucination. I’m going to blast myself out of this room, run downstairs into the pool area and stop the line of women being devoured by that thing, that drain from hell!”

At that, Ray held the gun with both hands and pointed it at the latch. His arms were outstretched and stiff with both hands gripping the gun steadily. He had unlocked the safety and was ready. He pulled the trigger. The pistol erupted in smoke as the firing pin engaged the center of the cartridge causing a great explosion inside of the metal tube of the cartridge. The pressure became intense but the walls of the cartridge backed up by the gun barrel would not let the explosive forces travel back or out the sides. The only option was for the pressure to push the bullet down the gun barrel and out of the gun. This happened as the gun’s recoil pushed back on Ray’s hands. The gun raised into the air lifting Ray’s hands and arms. Ray re-aimed for the next trigger pull.

The bullet hit the door latch, blowing pieces of the latch and door all over the room. Ray fired again and again until the latch and part of the door exploded out. Ray swung the door in.

Of course, by the time he got through the door, everyone would know he had blown the door and was armed. Ray instinctively knew that, and did one head over heels roll to a spot behind a desk that provided good cover. He peaked through the under part of the desk and saw Jake unarmed. Jake pleaded with him to cease his aggressive actions, “Ray, you don’t know what you are doing. I just wanted to keep you safe until I could neutralize the threat you apparently witnessed. I’ll explain the whole thing if you put your gun down and come with me.”

Ray replied, “There is no way I’m coming with you. Just let me get back to the pool where I can help those innocent women draining out of the pool.”

Jake replied, “OK, have it your way. Come on out, and I’ll walk with you to the pool. But, you don’t stand a chance against, ‘Barney the Atomic Pool Drain.’ He’ll just pull you in with the women.”

Ray gave him a blank stare.

Jake said, “That is a joke. Settle down.”

Ray said, “I have to try something, and he came out from his cover to confront Jake. He took no more than five steps when Jake pulled his concealed weapon and fired a shot in Ray’s direction. Ray was ready and ducked and fired a shot at Jake, who went down hit in the abdomen. He grabbed himself in the midsection.”

***

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The Zarnian Vodka Paradox

Ray Berger and his significant other, Lucy Lenora, join two friends for a two-week Key West, Florida vacation. He strays from Lucy and their two friends and meets Zara from the planet Zarnia.

  • Author: Robert Albert
  • Published: 2017-08-06 17:20:13
  • Words: 86831
The Zarnian Vodka Paradox The Zarnian Vodka Paradox