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April 22, 2024

Anachronocity v7p5

By Josh Brown

What a Mess - Part Five

"Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, oh shit--that asshole just vaporized Katlyn!" The sharp sting of Bethany's slap knocked the hysterics out of Alex. "What just happened?"

"I slapped you," Bethany said.

"Not that," Alex snapped. "What happened to Katlyn?"

"...and Yerik, Sela, and Horus. Not to mention the Elder."

"Them too. Was it a suicide bomb?"

"Smooth, Alex," Daniel said from behind. Alex had almost--not quite, but almost--forgotten about him. A moment later, he blinked away leaving Alex alone with Miss Obsession 2552.

"Nothing so archaic. Those eetee don't have the ability to 'vaporize' people on command. I'd say--"

"So what happened then? Where'd they go?"

"Must I slap you again?" She reached up and brushed her palm against the red handprint on Alex's cheek. "I don't want to--but I will if I must. Just relax and let me finish, okay?"

"Right," Alex said. He took a subtle step back, eyes scanning the toggles and switches on the console before him. "You were saying?"

Maybe not subtle enough if the frown that creased Bethany's face had anything to say about it. "I'd say the eetee probably just sucked them into an alternate dimension."

"Alternate dimension?"

"They're still on the ship. We just can't see them and vice versa."

"He can do that?"

"What exactly is an Elder doing on this ship?"

"Is she--are they safe?"

Bethany's eyes narrowed. "Long as they don't kill the eetee."

Sighing with relief, Alex grinned. "They wouldn't do that."

"Might if they don't realize they've been shifted."

Alex's grin vaporized. "They might not know? How is that possible? The light nearly blinded me and I just saw it on a monitor!"

"That was just a byproduct of the camera picking up energy buildup. No actual light was used in process."

"Oh shit."


"Release him!" Sela demanded.

Yerik had his hand wrapped firmly around the Elder's neck, the Elder's body pinned against the wall with his feet dangling below him.

Katlyn stood back with watchful eyes. There was no doubt in her mind that, should the occasion arise, she'd be able to take the hulk down. She'd just rather the occasion never arose. Muscles and size never mattered much to her--but the confrontation wouldn't be simple.

Next to Sela, Yerik reached behind his back and pulled out a gun. The thin muzzle pointed toward Horus as the Russian, with perhaps a bit of a gleam in his eye, said, "Let go or I shoot." The words held little meaning for the man. He clearly wanted Horus to not let go.

And Horus seemed more than willing to oblige the older man with his grip around the Elder's neck tightening. "We're not going to let this abomination get away with the knowledge he's stolen and the murders he's committed."

"It's not your place to make those decisions," Sela said evenly.

"Whose side are you on, Sela? It's a valid question. Ever since I've known you, your decisions when it comes to Elder matters have been lacking. Compassion is a great tool. But it's lost on the Elders and you shouldn't be risking the lives of every League member with it."

Yerik gazed at Sela. In retrospect, Horus would probably think now wasn't the best of times to lecture Sela about using less compassion.

With a slight nod from Sela, Yerik took a single step toward Horus and yanked on the firing button just under his finger three times.

Katlyn's first laser gun show disappointed when nothing happened.

Yerik pressed the button several more times. The result was always the same--shooting blanks.

Horus threw his head back and laughed, a deep hearty laugh filled with mirth that stretched and rose to a high pitch as the Elder's knee jerked up and buried itself in Horus's testicles. The greatest equalizer known to man--and apparently the Elders--never failed. The big man's grip fell from the Elder's neck. Horus collapsed in a heap, his hands cupping his package.

Almost immediately, the redness around the Elder's neck faded. He looked down at the mass of fallen flesh. "Now is not the appropriate time to attempt to assassinate me." His eyes lifted to Sela and Yerik. "Your weapon didn't work because we're not in your reality any longer."

Sela's hand automatically went to the intercom on the wall. She switched to the security room and spoke briefly. When no reply came, she tried again.

Once the Elder's words were verified, Sela turned away from the intercom. "What do you want?" she asked.


Alex toggled the intercom on. "They're gone."

On the monitor, Mama's multi-chinned head looked up at the camera. She and Anthony arrived too late for the vacation to dimensions unknown.

"Bethany says the Elder used some kind of Jedi mind trick to warp them into another dimension. Not exactly sure what she means by another dimension--but there you have it."

"Bethany?" Mama said through the intercom.

"Yeah, she's here. She knows everything."

"Better get everyone to the mess, dearie. What better place to discuss this mess."

Down in the mess hall, Mama explained the situation more thoroughly for Bethany, Franky and Jared. The whole hiding the facts from the only three people remaining on the ship that didn't know seemed foolish to Alex. At least that wasn't a problem anymore.

Anthony nodded as she finished. "Alex's lack of knowledge about the Elders dimension doesn't surprise me. The younger generations are not learning the full facts about the Elders thanks to the Elders' growing power over our education systems. Since they look human, their main goal is to humanize themselves in the eyes of humankind. They leave out the very important fact that they are not only not human, but they don't even live on our plane of existence--except in a human host."

"How's that work?" Alex asked.

"Like I told you before, Mr. Sterling, the Elders need human bodies to exist in this reality. They've been harvesting our kind for thousands of years. By the time we ran into them, they had quite a collection. With their medical advances, they're able to keep the bodies alive far longer than any human would live."

"This all seems very... basic. Too basic."

"We don't have the luxury of going into epic detail at this time."

"Okay, I can understand that. But I think you can take a few more minutes to answer some questions. Like... how did the first Elder take a human body if they needed a human body to begin with?"

"You would have to ask them that. It wasn't on the list of shared knowledge between our two kinds. Which you'll note is a greatly lopsided list. We've given them vast quantities of information and knowledge while they've barely shown us anything."

Uh huh. The Elders are hiding it from us seemed to be a common "shut the hell up because we don't know" answer.

Something else nagged at Alex. "If they can't exist in our reality without a human body, how can humans exist in their reality with a body?"

Alex wanted to punch this frail old man before the obvious answer escaped his lips. "Another thing the Elders neglected to share," Anthony said.

No time for this now, Katlyn was in danger. "How do we get them back?"

Anthony spread his hands out. A wry smile crossed his lips. "We can't."


Katlyn followed the group to the mess hall.

Along the way, she stepped up next to Sela and asked the foremost question on her mind. "What's going on here?"

"We've been pulled into the Elders' realm."

Up ahead, led by Yerik, the Elder said, "This isn't our realm. This is the corridor between our realms. We cannot enter the Elders' realm with these bodies. Life doesn't exist here."

"Yet here we are," Katlyn countered.

"You've been here before."

"Have I?"

"You don't remember because you were unconscious, but yes. This place exists outside of time and space. We're still on the ship, but we're not. The ship you see around you is merely a placeholder, a snapshot of the world all of you are most familiar with because your minds would shatter under the weight of the truth. This is no more the ship than your body is actually walking and you are actually talking. All of that is an illusion brought on by your mind to safeguard you from insanity."

As they poured into the mess hall, Katlyn felt uneasy with the Elders' explanation. Moreover, if this was all an illusion, where was her body?

Horus hobbled in last, gingerly walking bowlegged with his hands still cupping his testicles. He glared at the Elder, refusing to sit down on the hard wooden bench.

Experimentally, Katlyn poured herself a glass of bottled water and tasted it--still wet, still had that strong mineral taste. Was it possible the Elder lied? She discounted nothing.

"If this isn't really happening," Sela asked, "why did we come here?"

The Elder looked to the left of the room, his eyes adjusting on what appeared to be a blank wall. "Unlike you," said the Elder, "I see the actual realm. My mind is equipped to deal with traveling between the realities."

"And?" A touch of impatience tinged Sela's voice.

"I have the ability to will myself into this realm--"

"And others."

"Yes, and others. I cannot just will myself--or others--back, however. I don't have the strength or the training required for that. Only our high priests have the discipline needed for such feats."

"And?" More impatience--Sela's nerves were on edge. Katlyn felt the woman's agitation at how helpless this situation left her.

"That means I have to locate a doorway between the worlds. There's one such doorway here."

"Where is it? Let's waste no more time."

The Elder nodded at the wall. "Right there--however, you don't want to enter it. The doorway leads back to realm of the Elders. It means instant death to any human body that passes through."

"What are you going to do? Abandon us here?"

"Not at all." The Elder smiled. Despite his body psychically appearing to be in its 30s, the smile shined with a well-preserved age. "We're going to end our difference here and now. I merely wanted to be near the doorway in case it becomes apparent there is nothing I can say or do that will convince you everything you know is based upon a foundation of deceit and misconception."

"And if that becomes apparent? Then you're going to abandon us here?"

"Of course."

To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-09-04
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