Equinox: Beginnings

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Jason Ronald King was born on the evening of Tuesday, May 4, 2274 at a medical facility located on the outskirts of a picturesque little seaside town called Oceanview.

It was a typical autumn evening. The clear starry sky and the chill in the air seemed to be warning everyone that winter was not far off. The carpet of leaves which littered the hospital parking lot agreed fully, but Ronald King barely noticed the crunching sound as he paced the distance between the hospital’s main entrance and his parked car anxiously, over and over again, pausing every few minutes to look at the large clock which hung on the wall behind the grey and white reception desk.

The parking lot was almost empty, except for a few cars including his own, another clue that it was rather late in the evening.

It would have been much more convenient for the stocky green eyed man to simply relax in one of the comfortable leather chairs in the waiting area close to the delivery room where his wife’s prolonged labour was drawing to its inevitable conclusion. Dr Slater did promise to call him with the good news after all, after his premature and hasty retreat from the delivery room earlier.

Renetta King on the other hand would have preferred to have her husband present, right next to her, encouraging and supporting her though the entire birthing process, but, it may have been easier asking for the sun to rise in the west as Ronald had only just discovered, the hard way, that he was queasy and risked passing out. Observing the miracle of life was unfortunately just one of the things he was not meant to experience.

After what felt like an eternity to Ronald, his phone finally indicated an incoming call. He hurriedly fished out the bulky mobile handset from the right pocket of his blue jeans and answered, his face lighting up immediately on hearing the doctor’s voice.

As far as Doctor Slater was concerned, it was just another successful delivery. It did take a little longer than usual but it was totally ordinary and routine, thankfully with no complications. Mrs King had given birth to a healthy baby boy.

Doctor Slater marvelled at how the newborn Jason didn’t cry at birth. He also noticed that the baby had a most curious expression on his face and seemed to be examining his surroundings, his little eyes darting from face to face. He raised his tiny hand almost in greeting when he recognised his mum, but Renetta King didn’t notice this as she was experiencing a mixture of joy and exhaustion and Doctor Slater simply shrugged this off as his own imagination. It had been quite a long and tiring day after all.

Baby Jason was already cleaned and snugly wrapped up in his little blue and white checkered blanket lying in bed next to his proud mum when the ecstatic Ronald King burst into the room. His green eyes seemed to come alive at the sight of his wife and newborn son. He rushed over to the doctor greeting him with a firm handshake.

“Thank you, doctor,” he said through his huge smile. He was not able to contain his excitement.

“Congratulations Mr King,” responded Doctor Slater, returning the handshake.

Ronald excitedly turned to the bed and affectionately touched Jason’s face. “Welcome to the family, Jason,” he whispered softly to his son.

To his wife he proudly said, “One day, our son is going to be known throughout the world!” He smiled at the thought. “This little boy is going to be famous one day.”

Oceanview, aptly named for its close proximity to the Indian Ocean was a little town on the east coast of the African continent with a rich history and colourful culture. It was founded by the Indian labourers who were brought over the ocean by the seafaring English in the 19th century, from their home country, India, to farm the vast sugar plantations.

The central business district consisted of a single main road flanked by little shops and surprisingly, two large shopping malls which sold everything from groceries to clothing and food. Palm trees lined the centre of the street adding to the character and appeal of this unique place which was still affectionately referred to as a village by the locals, conjuring up images of a rural scene from a bygone era.

The majority of the residents of this little town were descendants of the original founders and remained rooted to their culture and traditions. It was against this contrasting backdrop of new technology and old traditions that Jason King experienced most of his youth.

Ronald and Renetta King were ordinary working class citizens. The stocky, green eyed Ronald had lived in Oceanview all his life and knew almost every resident of the little town on a first name basis. The tall and slender, brown eyed Renetta hailed from a little town in the midlands called Smith’s Crossing.

Jason’s parents very quickly came to realise that there was something special about their son. He never cried that first night when he arrived home from the hospital. Instead, he appeared fully alert and aware of his surroundings, examining everything he saw. He had a curious expression on his face most of the time.

By his first birthday, Jason was able to speak with some fluency. He was a determined child and it was not too long before he had mastered the use of his vocal chords which were still developing. A single language wasn’t enough, however. He had to learn more. More languages and everything else that he could learn. He possessed a natural curiosity and a hunger for knowledge.

He spent hours on the internet, learning about the world he was born into while most other children his age watched cartoons. He was especially fascinated by videos about space exploration.

His parents tried to keep his abilities quiet to avoid unwanted attention but by the time Jason had begun school this proved impossible.

His above average intellect was noticed on his first day at school when he didn’t fit in with the other children and found it quite normal debating the theory of special relativity with his astonished teacher. Thanks to the internet, he was already knowledgeable on a host of sciences and languages.

As a young man, growing up in Oceanview was a challenge in itself as Jason did not fit in. He was quite an open minded thinker who questioned everything. His parents, like most of the others living in this little town, were very conservative, holding on to superstition and relying on culture and religion to guide them while he relied on logic. Because of this he kept pretty much to himself most of the time preferring the solitude of his own mind.

He was glad to be done quite quickly with high school as his intellect earned him the title of “nerd” which did his social life no favours. He was often bullied by the popular children because he was much younger and smaller in size making him a natural target.

Jason obtained his doctorate in astrophysics by the age of sixteen, having already contributed immensely to his chosen field of study. He was widely respected by his peers for his three dimensional thinking and fresh approach to problem solving.

His fascination with space exploration led him to wonder if the light barrier could ever be broken even though Einstein’s theories predicted that such a feat was not possible. He decided to dedicate his life to solving this puzzle so that mankind could one day travel faster and further into the galaxy than ever before.

Jason was at his happiest working in his state of the art research laboratory which was funded by the United Earth Government. Their resources were seemingly unlimited and they had provided him with every piece of equipment he had requested, even the unnecessary ones. He had his misgivings about working for them but wisely chose to keep such thoughts to himself. He could end up losing everything and be labelled an enemy of the state, a label which easily resulted in one being charged with treason.

“Vince!” Jason called out. “I’m going to take a little break. Can I get you some coffee?”

“Yes, thanks,” replied Dr Vince Singer without even looking up from his work.

Vince was much older than Jason as was everyone else he encountered in the research community. They had become close friends over the last two years. Jason was almost nineteen now while Vince was thirty eight, yet the age gap was not apparent to them.

Vince was well built and strong but possessed a gentle personality in contrast to his appearance. His dark brown eyes were framed by prescription spectacles even though his myopia or nearsightedness as it was commonly referred to could easily be corrected by laser surgery. Jason had always admired Vince for his good manners. He was always the perfect gentleman no matter who he had to deal with.

Jason was almost the complete opposite in appearance compared to his friend. His pitch black hair was usually shaved off completely or existed as fine stubble while Vince’s long brown locks often fell in front of his eyes if he didn’t tie it into a neat little pony tail.

The slimmer looking Jason often worked out in the gym when he wasn’t engrossed in research or consuming copious amounts of strong coffee. He was obsessed with building muscle and changing his skinny appearance which was the one thing he hated most about himself. He was almost as tall as Vince, but not quite.

Jason returned with two coffees.

“White, with two sugars,” announced Jason. “Just the way you like it.”

Vince smiled as he looked up from his desk peering at Jason through his steel rimmed spectacles. “And yours, extra strong with six sugars,” he responded. “Thank you.”

“We’re definitely spending too much time together,” retorted Jason before taking a sip of his coffee.

The sweet warm liquid was just what he needed. It warmed him up from the inside while the fresh dose of caffeine coursed through his bloodstream making him feel refreshed and wide awake once again. The long hours and lack of sleep were beginning to take its toll but they were so close to making a breakthrough. The guys in the black suits from the government were also beginning to turn up the pressure.

Over the last two years, the government had poured a vast amount of money and resources into Jason’s research and they were now expecting a return on their investment. Over the last two years Jason and Vince had worked tirelessly to unravel the secrets of faster than light travel and a breakthrough was now within reach.

Vince had begun his career as a medical doctor but also found that his real passion was research, attempting to turn science fiction into science fact. He had specifically requested to join Jason’s faster than light research team. His primary function was to research the effects of high energy fields on the human body as well as to assist Jason in any way possible. Being a medical doctor and highly qualified scientist made him an invaluable asset to the team.

It turned out that Albert Einstein, the famous German born physicist was quite correct in reasoning that it would take an infinite amount of energy to accelerate an object to light speed and that light speed was indeed absolute. Einstein’s famous equation E=mc² was proven to be correct by Vince and Jason during the course of their research.

The resourceful Jason reasoned that if an object was held in a bubble of real space and time, and that space-time itself was expanded ahead of this bubble and contracted behind it, any speed would be possible because the object would actually be standing at rest, relative to its own space-time.

Jason often likened this theory to peristalsis, the worm like contractions of the intestine which propelled food along from one end to the other, the food representing the spaceship and the intestine representing space.

There were those who thought his theories were ridiculous and belonged in the realm of science fiction because of his age. Some were angered at the amount of resources being wasted on him at the cost of more important research projects. This just made Jason King even more determined to succeed and prove all his detractors wrong!

“Are you familiar with the Pioneer space probes that were launched in the 1970s?” asked Jason between sips.

“Yes, I’ve read about those probes,” replied Vince. “They were the first man-made objects to travel beyond the solar system. It was quite a remarkable feat at the time!”

Jason was more fascinated that the probes contained information about Earth, including audio recordings and visual material, in the event that they were discovered by intelligent beings. The solar panels which charged the batteries were expected to become less effective, the further away from the sun they travelled.

“It’s a pity that Pioneer 10 seemingly vanished into a worm hole in 2015,” continued Jason. “And Pioneer 11 was thought to have been destroyed by an asteroid.”

He took another long sip, draining the coffee mug completely with a distant look in his eyes.

“Mankind has truly come a long way since those early days,” he marvelled.

Vince drained his mug as well and returned to his desk.

Jason knew that they were on the verge of succeeding. Just one tiny little challenge remained. They were really close to a breakthrough. He could feel it. Any day now and mankind was going to be able to truly explore the vastness of space like never before while he and Vince would be hailed as heroes for making such a valuable contribution to society.

“Any day now,” smiled Jason smugly to himself. “Any day now.”

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