“Sam, I’m going to leave you with your first resettlement group,” Àkbä informed me, once we were back inside the mushroom. His hands carefully plotted our course, touching the knobs and buttons and graphs of the console panel with the deft touch of an experienced navigator. As he did so, he explained to me how one went about navigating such a craft, where the maps of the galaxies were stored in the Mother Ship’s memory, and how to locate one’s place in each map. (“You Are Here,” each map proclaimed, a little blinking mushroom noting the place, rather like a shopping mall’s diagram.) “But I warn you, Sam…your fellow Earthlings are confused and frightened. It will be no easy task to organize them. But that is the task I charge you with now. You are at liberty to share with them all that I have told you about the Joracian Resettlement Plan—whatever will aid you in persuading them to come on board.”
“Do I have access to any…materials?” I asked, feeling a sudden sharp lack of confidence in my own abilities.
“The secrets are within you,” Àkbä said with a faint smile. I felt his support growing inside me and I began to radiate confidence. “If anybody can succeed in this venture, you can!”
All sense of fragile motion ceased. “Here we are, good buddy. Good luck. I’ll be back in a couple days.” With that, I felt a sudden vacancy or sense of separation and found myself sitting in the corner of what felt like a large gymnasium. The walls were dark mountains of shadow, and the time of day felt like twilight. At the far end of the gym huddled a crowd of maybe fifty or sixty humans, their long purple shadows touching my feet. A few in that crowd noticed my presence. They began to shout and point; soon everyone was crowding around me, yelling and pointing. “Who is he? Is he one of them? Let’s kill him!”
I could see I had my work cut out for me.
First, I introduced myself to them. I gave it to them as straight as I knew how. “Earth is past. Finished. It’s history.” If we’re going to survive in our new world, I explained, we would have to acquire some new skills, and a new outlook. “The Joracians took us out of geo-context because it was no longer healthy for us.” I described the Resettlement Plan, how all of us were scattered in myriad colonies all across the universe, arranged by kinship ties and scent. The Joracians were willing to share the secrets of their advanced peaceful civilization—safe technology, telepathy and more!—but we would have to organize and develop ourselves, our… consciousness. “Our destiny now is in our own hands. But we must be willing to prepare, to develop ourselves, to–to learn to work in teams.”
“What sort of work?” one fellow asked, a sneer and a raspy cough of a voice. I could see he might be trouble.
“Creative work. Self-discovery, development, you know. Trying to be a better person. A–and poetry. Any kind of writing, really—”
“What did you say your name was?”
“Marz,” I said. “Sam Marz.”
“You’re as full of shit as a Christmas goose, Sam Marz!”
I just looked him in the eye and said nothing; but I did not smile.
There was a moment or two of uncomfortable muttering among the others; then a woman spoke up:
“I believe you, Sam.” She turned to the others—a woman maybe in her late forties—and said: “He’s right. There’s nothing for us on Earth any more. We’ve got to do what he says.”
A considerable discussion of this last point ensued, with many voices participating; some old, some young, men and women—hell, we even had a few teenagers. I suggested that we all sit down in a loose semicircle, with me facing the half-circle of people. We gave ourselves enough room so we could sort of stretch out and be halfway comfortable, you know, and then…we started to talk, one at a time, introducing ourselves, where we hailed from back on Earth, and what our lives had been like. It was a varied group, too, with some blue-collar workers, firemen and policemen, some college professors, some retail business types, and secretaries, a veterinarian, a lawyer, some housewives, a taxidermist, and even a lifeguard! A wonderful group; and as soon as the first wave of disclosure slowed, I taught them a simple meditation to help them relax and acclimate themselves to our new adventure. Introducing them to the child within themselves, we imagined a safe and secret place in a forest, in the mountains, by the sea—wherever they wanted to be, really, the first place that came to mind—where they might like to create a sanctuary…and so the first meeting came to a close. I suggested that perhaps we should all rest for a few hours.
The group had gotten to its feet, and a few individuals were milling around at the edges of the gym, when somebody yelled: “Hey, look here: there’s food!” And sure enough, there was a long table laden with boxed dinners of cold fried chicken, cole slaw, potato salad and two huge vats of iced tea. I suggested we form two lines to take advantage of this unexpected feast in an orderly fashion. I asked one of the girls to help me serve the iced tea; and we waited until everybody else had received their dinner and drinks before we served ourselves. Her name was Kim and she was from Springfield, Illinois. We sat down to share a meal and get acquainted.
“Where are you from?” she asked, after we had eaten a few mouthfuls of fried chicken.
“Missouri,” I told her; I had lived in Kansas City, Missouri. “I was born in Philadelphia but I grew up in St. Louis. I moved to Kansas City after college.”
“I had some family in Kansas City,” Kim told me: her only sister and brother-in-law. “They really like—liked it.”
“Kansas City was a very friendly place. Nice people,” I replied. St. Louis, by contrast, was rather stodgy and patrician. But I said nothing to Kim about this. If you can’t say something positive, after all, it’s really better not to talk.
“I wonder where they are—?” Kim asked and suddenly, an icy chasm yawned between us: she looked bewildered and tiny. “Is this going to be all right?”
“Everything’s going to be just fine, Kim. Don’t you worry.” The degree of reassurance in my tone of voice surprised even me.
As we finished eating our fill and pushed the boxed debris aside, it seemed to disappear. The space we occupied had grown darker and darker; we could no longer see or hear the others.
“Kim?” I leaned forward, peering hard to make out her face, when I noticed that my clothes had dissolved, and I was lying on my back with a huge, throbbing erection! Kim crawled up on top of me, naked as the day she was born, and began kissing me on the lips as she swayed back and forth, rocking her hips slowly at first but with steadily increasing momentum. I cupped her large breasts (Kim was small but well-endowed) with my hands, licked her nipples, kissed her lips wildly, ferociously inserting my tongue deep into her hot red orifice, kissed her chin, her forehead, temples and eyelids.
“Ooh, lover, it’s soo-oooh good!” Kim crooned in a husky voice.
I grabbed her love handles gently but firmly and began thrusting her down, faster and faster, on the rapidly approaching crescendo of our passion.
The moment, when it came, was like that pause between a nuclear explosion and the eerie billowing of a mushroom cloud: it seemed to last an eternity, then it was quickly over and everything became qualitatively different. Kim had collapsed on top of me and we lay panting and dripping with sweat in each other’s arms.
Our reprieve was brief. A second libidinal formation soon followed the first, as Kim—who, in our copulatory dénouement, had rolled off to the side—began to stir. She clambered between my legs and seized the purple tube in her hands, her hot little tongue behaving like a strange foraging animal, independent and single-minded, oblivious to all but its own inescapable instinct. Kim was insatiable: her tongue and its devotions were driving me crazy! When I could bear it no longer, I pulled her off me and, rising to my knees, mounted her from behind. We joined in a repetitive, thrusting maneuver, bouncing her off my groin. It was exhilarating and seemed to go on indefinitely. A short gasp, followed by a kind of whispered wheeze, elicited from Kim, as her torso eased forward and down, her arms outstretched. So we continued, throughout the night…
When I awoke, Kim was cradled in my arms asleep, where she had spent the night. I was relieved to find us both dressed. She opened an eye. “Sweet dreams?” I asked. The corners of Kim’s mouth curled up in a smile. “Dream of the apples,” she whispered.
A breakfast of fruit and juice, whole grain cereals and skim milk, fresh-baked wheat and raisin bagels, coffee and non-dairy creamer was prepared for us and waiting, just as dinner had been the night before. After a leisurely meal, it was time for me to get down to work.