At dawn, the Schill University student center building was virtually empty. Although the cafeteria on the basement level offered a wide range of breakfast entrees, the two security guards seated at the counter stuck to their usual coffee and doughnuts. Their customary daybreak grunts and shrugs were replaced this morning with wide-eyed animation replete with exaggerated hand gestures and raised voices.
"Did you see that damn thing take off last night?"
"Damnedest thing I ever saw."
"Shit. That was a damned spaceship man."
"What do you mean, 'Maybe'? That sucker was a rocket ship. It just flew right up and disappeared … and you saw the other one, right?"
"Yeah. That one must've been about a mile out. Man, seein' two of them fly up was a sight I'll never forget. For a second I thought those were missiles."
"What do you think it was all about?"
"Roger was on patrol duty last night and he said that he chased two faculty down to the fields. They cold-conked him, but he got himself back up and chased 'em over to the practice fields. By then a couple of the townie cops showed up. Roger said these folks stopped at the fields and ran into a god-damned spaceship. Then a third guy carrying something, maybe a body, arrives and they just took off."
The story was met with a firm nod of approval. "Where is Roger anyway?"
"He said that he had a meeting this morning … in town. Seems now, that some folks from the government want to speak to him."
"When I drove in through the back, the state police were running road blocks around those practice fields. Must have been ten, maybe twelve cars, and behind them I thought I saw a humvee or two, you know, the kind the military uses."
"Shit. Sounds like a big deal."
They gulped and swallowed, and then gaped at the TV above their heads as a news story came on. "According to Scranton police, the two rockets seen by hundreds of witnesses last night were nothing more than model rockets fired off by hobbyists. Officials declined to identify those responsible but did indicate that a full investigation into the matter would be forthcoming."
"Yeah, bullshit. Those were big suckers. I believe Roger. He was close to the one takin' off from here and he ain't one to exaggerate."
"You're damn right. Just look at the fuss out there this morning. Those weren't no model rockets. Somethin's up and it's somethin' big." The two slugged down the remains of their coffees, stood up and left for their rounds.
Something big indeed was up.
In a matter of weeks the discoveries made at Brookhaven became a worldwide sensation. Broadcast and cable TV networks carried the story and video clips of interviews with Dr. Percy Wild flooded the internet.
"…It appears that two scientists from Schill University presented Dr. Wild with a gold medallion claiming that it was millions of years old. In a stunning revelation, Dr. Wild stated that using his advanced MRI imaging system, the medallion was found to contain humankind's genetic code…"
"… The implications of the find, if indeed it is not a hoax, are enormous. Religious groups claim the find is a fraud while scientists remain skeptical. Curiously. the medallion itself may have been lost…"
"… Dr. Wild claimed that he was attacked by some fanatic, but was saved by an odd-looking stranger. The Schill University professors, Dr. Adam Dove and Dr. Linda Garcia, who found the medallion have disappeared without a trace…"
"…Wild stated that the medallion was found in a coal mine. Although it is now missing, all the data collected at Brookhaven is secure, along with a three-dimensional image of the medallion itself…"
Percy Wild had achieved fame. The discovery of the medallion, the revelation of its contents, and the mystery surrounding the missing university scientists were hyped by the media with daily updates for weeks after the incident at Brookhaven. Dr. George Freedman of the Schill University analytical labs had come forward to confirm the existence of the artifact, providing even more details of its composition and underscoring its likely extraterrestrial origins. Not surprisingly sightings of UFOs peaked that September and continued on for several months thereafter. Meanwhile, the implications of the discovery began to percolate up through the dogmatic layers of organized religions throughout the world. In light of the DNA sequences found in the artifact, fierce arguments ensued between fundamentalists and moderates of Earth's major religions, questioning the origins of the human race in a way that was never addressed in ancient scripture, in a way that pointed to a possible alien origin. These arguments were only the beginning of a religious upheaval the likes of which the world had never known.
Adam opened his eyes. "Where, where am I?" he asked of no one in particular. His voice was hoarse, his mouth felt numb.Lying on his back, he squinted at a single light fixture embedded in a dull metal ceiling. He sat up and immediately had to fight down a spasm of nausea. He stared at the opposite wall until it stopped moving. A portion of a mirror on that wall reflected back an image of a nude man whose feet were dangling a few inches off the floor. Transparent, flexible tubing containing a clear liquid dangled from a device at his side. Its pointed nozzle left a trail of droplets on the table. He looked down and saw that the tubing must have come loose, leaving behind a red streak across his forearm. The room seemed to move again, forcing him to grab hold of the table he sat upon with both hands. Everything was the color of dull, sterile gray—cabinets, or what looked like cabinets, counter tops, floor and ceiling. The place bore a vague resemblance to a doctor's examination room.
And, where is the doctor?
There was a counter sink below the mirror. Adam got to his feet, swayed a little more, and lunged forward to the sink, catching himself on its rim. A single handle provided water which he splashed into his face. He shook his head and looked about.
No towel … that figures.
Wiping his hands on his chest he dragged himself to a small rectangular glass pane set in the wall. His legs felt heavy, sluggish. Yet another wave of nausea forced him reach for the wall. He gazed through the glass and saw only darkness. The glass was imbedded in what was probably a door with its edges barely visible.
There's no handle, of course.
He stood there for a minute, trembling with the effort. He thought back to the shuttle—the chase, Alpha carrying a body, and the door sliding shut. Then things got foggy. He recalled embracing Linda, and kissing her.
A great kiss.
He looked through the glass panel again. His pupils were growing accustomed to the low light and now he saw muted floor lighting in what was taking the shape of a hallway. It dead-ended to his left, and to the right it disappeared from view.
His hand brushed against the door and the door hissed.
Hedda was released from the hospital and no charges were filed pending further investigation by the Pittston police. Preliminary findings pointed to self-defense. The Pittston police liked Hedda and the crime lab somehow failed to provide a complete ballistics report. Fortunately, Herman's bullet had passed through her thigh and no major arteries were severed. A few stitches, a few days rest, and Hedda was back at her museum hobbling about on crutches, doing what she could to straighten out her collections and sort out her memories. The events of the past week would long remain with her. A knock from the front door stopped her brooming mid-sweep.
"Ma'am, you be Hedda, Hedda Morrison?" The visitor wore khaki overalls, held a large brown metal box and sported a low-slung and fully stocked leather tool belt. He was a big man with a dark clay complexion and long black hair tied neatly into a ponytail.
"And, you must be the carpenter, right?"
"Yup. that's me. Name's Windstorm, Jay Windstorm, ma'am. I guess this here's the door you want fixin'?"
Hedda's eye was drawn to a fragment of yellow police tape still caught on the edge of the door frame. Cool air wafted through the door, fluttering the tape and carrying with it a scent of fallen leaves. She nodded. "Windstorm. Unusual name."
"Yup, it's native American or what the English translation would be. My father's side … his family was part of the Sasquehannock tribe, descended from the Algonquins." He then gave the door a closer look. "You're gonna need a whole new door. I can probably save some of the hardware and rebuild the outer frame. Looks like someone without a lot of patience came through here."
An involuntary shudder ran through Hedda as she recalled the deadly encounter.
Windstorm gave the museum a quick glance while he made a show of fishing in his belt for a screwdriver. "You must be a lover of history. The stuff you've got in here … it's like the story of mining in this valley."
"It only goes back about a hundred years."
Windstorm nodded. "This valley, this whole area has a rich history … more than just mining, and it goes back thousands of years."
"You mean native American history?"
"Yup. That's the real history of this country."
Hedda paused in reflection. "Mr. Windstorm, I were wondering, and I hope you don't mind me askin'… askin' you about Indian, eh … native American religions. What I mean is what do the Susquehannock believe about creation, ya know, how we came to be?"
Windstorm tilted his head to one side. "Hey … there's a question I don't hear too often in this job, but I don't mind tryin' to answer it. Our beliefs aren't much different from most other native Americans." He found the screwdriver and began working the bottom door hinge. "I guess you'd call it a creation myth these days. Honestly, I don't recall all the details, and there are a lot of versions, even among the northern Nations, but here's how I remember it. There was a great Earth mother who had two sons, one good and one evil. After their mother died, the good one - his name was Glooskap—made plants, animals and humans, while the evil one, Malsum … well, his job was makin' snakes and poisonous plants. It turns out neither one was immortal, so in a fight with Malsum, who used some trickery, Glooskap was killed. But he managed to resurrect himself and eventually kill the evil one. He kept making good things, while Malsum went underground becoming a kind of wolf spirit, hasslin' humans ever since."
"And do you believe in this story?"
Windstorm tossed a loosened hinge to the floor and started on the next. "It's as good a story as any I suppose."
Hedda grinned and resumed sweeping the floor.
Adam lurched into the hallway through the opening. The two panels disappeared into a hidden recesses. He took an extra step to catch himself from falling, and the door hissed shut behind him. He turned and touched it, and the panels parted once again.
He took a few carefully placed steps along the hallway, fighting off a compulsion to retch. The brightness of the floor lighting increased. A few more steps and he could see that the illumination was keeping up with him, brightening ahead and dimming behind. He saw several more glowing glass door panels ahead to his right.
Peering in through the next panel, he saw a room much like the one he left, but empty. There were four more to go before the hallway disappeared to the left. Adam was about to conclude each room was vacant when he reached the last in the line. It was occupied.
She was stretched out on a table, much as he had been, naked and attached to a line hanging from the ceiling. The door panels parted as he pressed the outer surface. Linda was lying on her back, breathing steadily. He shook her gently, but there was no response. He was staring at her body, really staring at it. He turned away and looked into the mirror. The face that stared back at him was book-ended by a pair of very red ears. For some reason, he felt like a child, and being naked just made everything worse.
Adam reached over Linda's prostrate form and gently brushed back a displaced lock of hair. He bent over, kissed her and whispered, "Linda … it's me, Adam. I'm going to find out what this is all about. I'll be back real soon."
He left the room and continued his walkabout along the curved corridor. His gait and equilibrium had improved. He began to feel steadier on his feet. After a couple of dozen paces, he came upon an expansive unlit area, a kind of alcove into which the hallway emptied. When he stepped forward into the awaiting gloom, a new set of lights powered on. They were arranged along the facing wall, and as their intensity grew, details of the semicircular room were revealed. Mounted below each light was an instrument panel of some kind, and below that, something that reminded Adam of a casket.
There were six rose-tinted metallic caskets positioned in an arc, radiating out like spokes on some bizarre wheel, or more accurately, half-wheel. As Adam neared the macabre display he saw that each casket sported a little window where the head would be if there was a body within. He approached the one farthest to the left. A dim glow from inside outlined the face of a woman, seemingly quite at rest. A scan of the so-called instrument panel above her head told Adam nothing more than some parts of the display, possibly monitoring gauges, were undulating in a slow but steady rhythm. He studied her face—her eyes were closed, bluish lips slightly parted, and dark hair pulled back. No signs of life. Atop the window pane was a small placard with several undecipherable symbols displayed. He was about to move on to the next casket when his eye caught a small movement across the glass surface. He leaned over to take a closer look and saw a tiny bubble caught in the frame. A moment later, it was gone.
He continued along the arc. Three caskets were occupied by more sleeping beauties—two men and a woman. The next was empty. Its window held a card with his name, ADAM. He leaned across to the last casket, also empty and as he expected, it displayed the name, LINDA.
These could be the devices used to provide stasis, something Alpha had spoken of. This must be the mothership and we're being prepared for stasis. That would explain the IV's.
Adam decided to get back to his room. If Alpha was going to show up, it would be there. He trotted off down the hallway. A mesmerizing lighting display followed him along the way. He peeked into Linda's compartment and found her undisturbed. He wanted to go in again, but instead, he blew her a kiss. Moments later he was seated on the table in his room. It felt like an hour passed, and Adam had long since decided it would be easier to pass the time by lying down. After a while his eyelids grew heavy and he fell into a light sleep.
He dreamed of spaceships, new worlds, stars and galaxies. A deep voice reached him from among the stars. "Adam. Relax. No need to get up."
"Alpha! I knew you'd come."
Adam's eyes flickered open. The ceiling light kept the figure floating above him in a blurred shadow. Then he felt a pinch on his forearm and the glowing workings of the universe folded about him like a warm blanket. He felt peaceful, cozy and safe while streaking through the dark void wrapped in his blanket, passing planets whirling about their suns. The voice returned. "Adam. I've re-attached your medications, getting you prepared for the trip."
Despite his spectacular flight through and between galaxies, a tiny portion of Adam's thinking brain was aware that it was about to succumb to an even deeper slumber. It took what he had left of his concentration to force out one slurred question. "Alpha … the guy … the bad alien … what happened to … him?"
Adam plummeted toward the enormous black hole at the center of the galaxy and began to feel his body being delightfully torn apart. The voice echoed between the vestiges of torn spacetime in a most melodious manner. "Fortunately, we were able to save him. No need to concern yourself. Just enjoy the ride. Good night, Adam."
Alpha checked the tubing, insuring that it was properly inserted, and scanned Adam with a small hand-held device. He nodded in satisfaction and turned to leave when he saw a face at the door window. The panels slid apart, and a tall man stepped in. His features were pale and expressionless. He wore a hooded sweatshirt, open at the front, revealing a heavily bandaged chest. Alpha smiled and said, "I thought that went rather well, don't you?"
End of Part 1
Thanks to my agent and publisher I was permitted to share with you the entire text of Part 1 of Algorithm. This was the ending to the original novel. A second novel, 'The Makers', follows Adam and Linda on their 10,000 light-year journey to the planet of the Makers, from where the medallion originated so many millions of years ago. The two stories have been combined into a two part novel. Thanks very much for your interest in Algorithm.
I think you'll get a real kick when you discover who the Makers are. Visit http://www.arthurmdoweyko.com/novels.html available as ebook (cheap) or print. Thanks for your support and interest. If you feel super-charged, please consider dropping by Amazon to leave a review. I would really appreciate that act of kindness !!! http://www.amazon.com/Algorithm-Arthur-Doweyko-ebook/dp/B00O5HD75O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412445127&sr=8-1&keywords=doweyko-Arthur
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