Thirty-five cents? I hope you saw that! It was a bargain. It was the first thing I looked for when I entered the drugstore, and then I slumped down and asked for a five cent ice cream cone.
I belonged to the science fiction book club too. Hard back novels for $1.00 The school library had quite a few science fiction novels on the shelves too. Larry Baker told me all about the new titles he had read and I listened with bated breath. We couldn’t wait for all these futures to come to past so we could live in the future for just a few exciting, adventurous hours.
Why, it was as exciting and certain as tomorrow could possibly be. In that future past, Interstellar luxury cruises would be here by 1990. The whole galaxy would be flooded with men by 2999 Man would be seeded throughout the belt of G-stars. Livable planets would be engineered and eased into orbit with the axis tilted just so in order to create seasons. Oh the treasures we would find as man evolved or manhandled the environment they found. Wars, and rumors of wars would rage throughout the galaxy until man gained more sense, wondrous day that would be.
They say I am old now because a mere 7 decades have passed me by and I still have strength enough to build my own home. I expect to have another 3 decades before it is time to take my tomcat through the door into summer. I’ll still be driving my personal ZoomMobile.
The world’s fastest man in cross country racing on a bicycle is 105. The imaginary science fiction that was the mechanics of the future is now declared “Old Hat” and I have lived to see a world rapidly expanding for the mad dash to claim a future more wondrous than anything I could have dreamed of when I first shuttled across the galaxy in 1953 CE.. The future is here and ready to bolt out from under us if we aren’t careful..
Then I woke up and the future was behind me.
“Aupskietch?” someone asked. “Phuieaubbi,” I responded before I realized I was awake. I tried to open my eyes – but they were open. There was simply nothing to be seen. I tried to move my head – but it simply wouldn’t move. I tried to lift my arms. They wouldn’t respond. Both feet seemed to rise a bit, but not much. There was only one logical explanation. I was back in the nest!
“Do you feel like talking for a while?”
“Sure,” I said. The eagerness with which I responded told me that I was a bit lonely. I couldn’t remember a time since leaving the nest that I had felt this lonely. That information was revealing. I had my memory back. It felt good. “What happened?” I asked.
“Well you got whackered in back of your head so hard it shook up everything inside. The primary blow was hard enough to rupture the spinal connection. You have also experienced traumatic brain injuries. The brain was severely bruised, resulting in internal swelling similar to the Shaken Baby Syndrome. Besides working on the external spinal wound we operated to relieve swelling, retinal vein occlusion, seal off retinal haemorrhage and leakages through certain other orifices.”
“Nothing serious then?” I asked because I hadn’t understood a word he had said.
“Uh,, No. Nothing serious. We have stabilized your head and neck so that everything heals nice and smooth. We are restraining you so you won’t go clawing at any of your bandages and wreck any of our handiwork again. Our IV is feeding you so you won’t feel hunger and our regenerative potions will help your body heal more rapidly. The only thing we have left to monitor is a few possible loose blood clots. We couldn’t perform operations as smooth as you could have done yourself but we did clean up all the bone splinters laying around up there for free.” And he rattled off with an Ah Ha Ha Ha!
I couldn’t laugh out loud at his little joke, but I could chuckle through my teeth a bit even though it hurt. “How long will I be laid up here?”
“Oh, from 3 to 5 weeks, depending on your rehabilitation progress.” he replied. “Phegeoick?”
“Phegeoick,” I responded sadly. “But, what was I doing in that guy’s office to start with?”
There was a long, long tense silence. I had enough time to wonder if the talking head had gone awry before my question had been asked. Not saying good bye was beastly uncivilized, I thought. What if someone had heard me talking to myself?
Then I heard the same voice continue as if I had never asked the last question. “Why didn’t you tell anyone you could speak the Darcueverian Hill language?”
“Why are you asking about that? I didn’t know it was illegal, Is it?”
“Ah contraire,” the voice said. “Volunteers are desperately needed for a contact mission in order to settle a medical dispute.”
“Huh?” I said. “That’s easy. Drop a hydrogen bomb on Tahuash and they won’t dispute it any more. Especially if you get Tahuashio in the first blast.”
There was another long silence. “Are you still there?” I asked.
“Uh, Yes. However, I am trying to orient your response inside my ratiocination circles. Hydrogen bomb I understand, but I can’t understand why you want to drop one on a peaceful people, and I don’t understand where you are thinking about dropping the bomb. I have never heard of Tahuash – or of Tahuashio. Where are these places? What are they supposed to be?”
It was my turn to stretch out the silence. I decided he was serious. “You are a very ignorant man,” I said at last. “Go away.” I could not close my eyes, but there was no real need to. I went to sleep with my eyes wide open because I was in total darkness.
When I woke up my bed was in a turmoil and I was sea sick. I was securely fastened to my bed as it spun around. I could remember that first the bed flipped slowly so that my face was pointed towards the floor. Minutes later my face turned to the east and my feet were up over my head. I was perfectly perpendicular to the floor, as near as I could tell. Once more the bed spun until I was standing perfectly perpendicular to the floor but with my head up and turned to the west. I knew there was a purpose to all these gyrations, and I was securely fastened to my bed.
Some things you just gotta take on faith. I took my safety on faith and I accepted the purpose of this motion to be beneficial and expected that I would soon return to a horizontal position with my face pointing towards the ceiling. The motion seemed to stop but it took a few minutes for my body to settle down and figure out which way was up and which way was down. I was flat on my back again.
“He slept right through it.”
“Impossible!” He raised his voice. “Jaysun!”
“Are you trying to reach me, by some chance?”
“Of course I’m trying to reach you!”
I waited a bit as I tried to understand what was going on and said, “My name is Bill Allison”
There was a long, tense silence, then I heard a snarl. “Next time, hang him out the window and let him listen to the street traffic for an hour or so before you drop him down to the concrete below.”
A female voice protested. “That would kill him!”
“Not if he lands on his head.” The voice was fading away as the talking head left the room. I wished I could grin; he might have been joking.
Figuratively speaking, I curled up again and went to sleep.