|| Home :: Robert Fitton :: Time Travels :: 1939|
Kate wanted to kill herself legally and Andy was helpless to stop her. He skidded to a stop fifty feet from the shopping plaza's termination clinic and scrambled from his little green Saab. She had threatened to end her life so many times because of the debilitating pain, but he always talked her out of it. He slipped across the gritty, salted sidewalk and shoved the glass door against the lobby wall.
The receptionist behind the counter lifted her head, but kept her eyes on the colorful monitor graphics. " Yeah ..."
" Where is she? Where's my sister?"
She squinted and finally looked up. " Who the hell are you?"
Andy locked both hands around the counter edge and spoke slowly, but his emotions threatened to overtake him. She clicked the mouse and another Supernet site appeared. He yelled over the accompanying music.
" My name is Andy Reese. My sister Kate left a note saying she was on her way over to this ... this clinic!"
A man with greasy blonde hair, clad in a green lab coat quickly shut a metal door behind the receptionist. " This is a legal termination clinic."
" My sister, where is she?"
" Some woman named Karen Reese," said the receptionist, checking something else on screen.
" Kate. Her name is Kate," said Andy."
The guy folded his arms. " All patients records are strictly confidential according to universal coverage."
Andy dove across the counter and slid into the office. The man jumped back, but Andy clawed his lab coat. Only his martial arts discipline prevented him from destroying this drone. " Listen, you get me to my sister&ldots; Her disease is not life threatening."
" According to the law any client may enter a termination facility and be treated."
" Treated?" asked Andy.
" I hope they send you away for this invasion of our privacy!" barked the receptionist.
" Shut up! Where is she?"
" Morally, I don't have to answer your questions."
" Morally? What do you know about morals?" He slowly crunched the man's skull against the metal door. " I want my sister out of here!"
" You'll pay for this, you bastard! There are laws protecting termination clinic employees as well as clients."
Andy tightened his grip around the man's chin and pressured his head back. " You let me inside or I'll kill you!"
The man's faced flushed red as he choked. " You're too late."
Andy released his hand and stepped back. Tears rose in his eyes as he collapsed into one of the vinyl chairs. The woman clicked the mouse and his hollow voice cut the silence. " And that's it? You ... you just let some-body walk in here and take their life?"
" I'm e-mailing the Lawyers Union," said the man, rubbing his chaffed throat as he pointed. " You've broken the law, you prick. We have our rights."
Andy lowered his head into his hands. He visualized a sun drenched image of Kate's straight brown hair and medicated green eyes as she lounged on her wicker chair yesterday afternoon. Talk of checking into a termination clinic ceased days ago. After shopping this afternoon, he had planned to bring a specially prepared meal to her, but he received a call from the observatory. While he did not have to drive up the mountain, they needed him to investigate some high energy readings beyond Antares, in Scorpius from his apartment computer. Now Kate was dead because he had stayed home.
" I loved my sister. Don't you people understand that?"
The guy shook his head. " You are in big trouble, dude." He opened the metal door and disappeared into a green tiled room out back.
Numbness settled over Andy's shoulders. The woman behind the desk continued with her Supernet activities as if he was no more than an annoying fly buzzing around the office. A bony framed woman within shriveled countenance and expression of perpetual annoyance now entered the office from a side door. " Mr. Reese, we will have to ask you to leave the premises. You are committing a federal crime by remaining here."
His anger stirred with sadness as he pictured Kate's verdant eyes again. Before her bone marrow problems she was so energetic and a catalyst in his own life. All his emotions twisted like muddied water down the drain. He banged his elbow against the metal door hard enough to dent it. The two woman behind the counter stepped back and the receptionist turned from the web site. He produced a muffled wail as he lifted the counter door.
" You damned people. You murdered my sister! You murdered her!"
The front door rattled and cold air swept inside. A security team of two men and a woman, dressed in brown and green combat uniforms, bolted through the open doorway. They surrounded him with long barreled weapons and the short blonde woman with cold steely blue eyes faced him. " Disruption of a termination clinic operation is a federal offense, Mr. Reese."
" How do you know who I am?"
" You've been scanned," she answered quickly and unemotionally.
" Are you kidding me?" Andy stared at the heavy rifles as clinic workers gathered behind the counter like spectators at a sporting event.
" What the hell is left? The Supreme Court makes it legal to kill yourself with no questions asked? If you want to do it, you do it."
" Let me talk to him, Sergeant," said the nurse in the green fatigues. She told Andy she was in the room when they injected Katie.
" Sure, you get paid for this. You work in a damned termination clinic and you take a paycheck for helping people kill themselves! That's sick! You hear me, sick!"
She looked concerned, but Andy would not trust someone who just assisted in killing Kate. " I can get you some sounder. It will make you feel better for a long time, Mr. Reese. Fix you up."
" Sounder. They have all the names to make you think it's just something you take for a headache ... Where is my sister's body?"
" I'm sorry, Ms. Reese's body will be incinerated as per her wishes."
" No! At least let me bury her! Have a funeral!"
" That will not be possible, Mr. Reese," said the nurse. " No legal instructions were given. The law is quite clear on this matter."
" What the hell has happened to this world? " An elderly woman in a wheel chair and two young woman appeared by the door. " So, what's wrong with her? Too old?"
The sergeant checked a hand-held communication unit. " The supplementary report on you Reese says you are a martial arts practitioner. You could face additional charges ..."
Andy closed his eyes. He offered no resistance as they placed the expandable plastic restraining rings around his wrists. " We will have no disruption of terminal clinics," said the sergeant.
" Might disturb the dead," said Andy.
" Sergeant, get him the hell out of here. We have clients," said the nurse.
" Yes, Sergeant, we wouldn't want the lady to have a heart attack and die."
" Bring his ass to detention."
Andy struggled at first as they led him out the front door into the darkened shopping center's frozen parking lot. The cold night air stung his glazed eyes and sweaty skin. " I don't get it, you're arresting me and they just killed my sister." The camouflaged cruiser van was parked a few feet from his Saab and next to a prodigious snow bank, brightened by the moonlight. He looked up at the stars and across the snow sifted mountain peaks. " Are you really a pro-termination advocate, Sergeant?"
" You mind your own damn business, Reese," she said as they swung open the van doors.
As the team prepared to push him inside, Andy looked her in the eye. " It doesn't make it right. My sister is dead,"
She chuckled and shook her head. " Don't be a wimp."
* * *
Cody slowed his shiny red BMW and the engine whined. He popped a second bright green pill. " You know, sometimes it's best to shut your mouth when it comes to the law, Andy. You want a pill? It's FDA legal. You're not supposed to drive with it, but what the hell."
Andy shook his head. He was not going to lecture Cody again about the stupidity of keeping his blood levels elevated. " Thanks for getting me out."
" You owe me, man. How about taking in some virtual stuff back in the apartment?"
" When's your trial?" he asked and flipped the dash monitor.
" I don't know. I'll leave it for my lawyer whenever I get him."
" You got the cash and you'll get off. That's the way it works in this world. What about your Saab?"
" Impounded." A knife pierced the forehead of the man on the screen and blood erupted from the fissure above his eyes. " I don't want to watch this, Cody."
" You're becoming a real prude, Andy, you know that?" Cody flipped the screen and two bare-ass women kissed on satin sheets. Andy banged the power switch. " Hey, man, there's no violence there."
" Just get me home."
" That first flick, my friend, The Cruzean Connection, was number one at the box office last year. Wicked gore ... Number one, man."
Andy grabbed the door handle. " Number one ... So what? That means nothing."
" You need to get laid, pop some colored jumbos and chill out, man. Even the President pops colored jumbos. But she was a super model, what do you expect?"
Andy looked at Cody's distorted face as the car slowed and stopped abruptly. " I'll see ya."
" I can call the escort service. Get somebody over here before midnight. Keep you company. Or maybe some virtual servicing."
Andy did not look back and marched up the snow bank walk.
" Don't waste your money."
The moon hovered near the mountains and the stars crystallized over the snow capped countryside. Cody's car fishtailed at the corner and disappeared behind the next street's chunky snow piles. Despite the frigid air, Andy dallied on the walk and tracked a pinpoint satellite across the sky dome. Since he was a little boy he was in love with the sky; enough to earn his doctorate and study radio and optical signals for a living. When he was not driving to the SKYSCAN facility atop the mountain, he was aligning his home computers into the world wide and orbital tracking systems. The sky was cold and silent, and in some ways preferable to the media noise and astounding lack of perspective everywhere. And now Kate was dead.
He clicked the front door locks with his remote and continued up the walk. The inner stairway was warmer and he pulled back the Velcro on his coat as he trudged up the carpeted stairs. Kate's narrow face, vibrant eyes and ready smile stayed with him to his apartment. Her bone disease was not on the list of miracle cures over the past few years. He pushed his re-mote again and opened the apartment door. Kate would have faced a long battle with constant, pain inducing therapy, but he could not support her termination.
His computer turned on the lights and then spoke to him.
" Room temperature: seventy-two degrees, Andy. Is that acceptable?"
" That's about the only thing that's acceptable," he said as he threw his coat over the kitchenette chair. " I want to scan."
" Program executing."
He opened the refrigerator and took out nutrient juice pack. Across the room his large desk monitor brightened with the SKYSCAN program. He pushed the straw into the juice pack and pulled back his desk chair.
" Inner solar system, Jovian moons."
" The observatory wishes you to scan the Sigma-"
" You will implement my program, computer."
The screen fluttered and a numbered program flashed in yellow letters on a blue background. Kate never understood his fascination with astronomy. She lectured him about his hobby diverting from true employment. The lectures stopped when the doctorate degree was posted on his office wall at SKYSCAN. A crisp image of Jupiter cast a red glow across his sweatshirt once the room lights dimmed. He stared at the multitude of swirling gaseous bands and the eternal red spot, but quickly was lost in thoughts of Kate riding her bicycle years ago before the millennium. Mom and Dad were still alive and the wrecking ball had not leveled his family's house in Tobin Springs. They even chain sawed the huge pine tree planted by his father when Andy was three years old. " Sleep soundly, Katie. Sleep soundly."
He had the computer utilize the Ptolemy telescope in lunar orbit to scan the crater packed moon, Io. Once it implemented the visual scan of the Jovian system with other frequencies, Andy leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes. Somehow he would have a church service for Kate. He grit his teeth and shouted. " I just don't understand why killing yourself is legal!"
" Is that a question for me?" asked the computer.
" Sure, you answer it."
" McCain vs. Oregon in 2012 specifically allowed the states to allow an individual to end-"
" Shut up!"
" Is that a command?" asked the computer.
" No ... no. I want to send my extraterrestrial message now."
" You have an incoming e-mail from Cody and an attached list of escort services."
" Table it. No, delete it. Bring up my salutation on the hyper-band."
" Implementing ..." Andy watched as the Ptolemy image swung to an-other Jovian moon, Ganymede. Andy studied its cracked surface. " Do you wish a live message or the recording salutation to the stars?"
" Recorded." He did not have the will to record a new message.
" First signal on audio and the rest hidden."
Andy soon heard his own voice, lively and not affected by grief, broadcast from the powerful gain antennas in earth orbit.
" This is Andrew James Reese speaking from the planet earth from the year 2015 AD."
" Do you wish update of year?" asked the computer.
" Sure, why not?"
" This is Andy James Reese speaking from the planet earth from the year 2016. I am human being, a scientist, twenty-four years old, searching for intelligent life in the universe. By the time you hear this message I will be long dead, that is of course unless you are cruising around us here on earth.
My planet suffers not from poverty but from abundance. Things once deemed important are now annoyances. There are no consequences as we sink in our own prosperity."
" Do you wish me to automatically update your age on your birth-day?" asked the computer.
" Yeah ..."
" By the time you get this message, maybe we will have straightened ourselves out. We used to live in a world that wasn't perfect, but at least a place where most people were guided by an inner compass." Andy smacked the desk. " For all the good this will do. Maybe all civilizations become self-indulgent ... I can't believe Katie is dead ... Computer."
He stared at Ganymede's shattered crust. " Bring up family album, lower corner of screen. And then I want access to the historical photo sites."
" Do you wish me to list viewing history?"
" No, I'll determine where I'm going," said Andy and he sipped the nutrient pack's cool liquid.
" Message is repeating to the galaxy."
" Are you cracking a joke, computer?"
" Do you wish me to?"
" Forget it." A picture of Kate and himself on their bikes, appeared in the monitor's lower corner. " My God, what have they done?" Katie was so innocent after she lost her tooth and her poodle eyes pulled him back through the years.
" Do you wish access to family video and audio disks?"
" No." Another picture of Andy and Katie at a zoo in Denver prompted him to clamp his wet eyes. He folded his elbows on the desk and cried into the stuffy darkness. Maybe the computer could not sense his grief or his distraction and it said nothing as he wept.
The repeating beep awakened him and he sat up in front of the monitor.
" You have an incoming message," said the computer.
Andy squinted at the clock in the lower corner of a refreshed image of Jupiter. " Who's calling me at three-fifteen in the morning?"
" It's odd."
Andy yawned and for a moment actually forgot Kate was dead. " I really need to get to bed ... What's odd?"
" The nature of this reception is incoming."
" You said that." Andy stood and chucked the drink pack in the wastebasket.
" No, from space. A disturbance."
He turned and faced the Jupiter image. " Disturbance? I don't see any disturbance."
" The disturbance is around Ganymede and it's not visual. Its more of a distortion. I don't have the ability to tell you why."
" Somebody will pick it up."
" No, it's on a thin waveband, directed off a local cell tower."
" What? Are you sure?" asked Andy.
" It has visual content and is current. Not recorded."
" Okay, let's see it. I want to get some sleep."
" Full or partial screen?" asked the computer.
" Just play it."
At a dark table two men with white straight hair and smooth bronzed faces sat in carved wood, high backed chairs next to a middle-aged woman with red hair. They were clad in pale smooth green cloaks within a snowy image of sandstone columns and a long open window. Craggy mountain peaks were back dropped by a magenta sky, layered with swift moving deep gray clouds. The man in the center spoke English with a Jamaican or Caribbean accent " We wanted to contact you directly, Andy. We see you and are aware of your work with SKYSCAN."
" Who are you?"
As the old man continued the signal popped in and out like a bad microwave transmission.
" We speak to you, Andy from the six hundredth year from the Unification of the Seraph enclave on Ganymede. You see us within a compressed frequency through time."
Copyright c 2000
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