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Freedom of Choice

By Carlos Goodyear All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Scifi

Chapter 1

It shouldn't exist, but it does. This simple statement was, and still is today, the only legitimate response the scientific community dare give to a world demanding answers they were incapable of providing. Despite years of ceaseless toil, and the most sophisticated devices ever crafted by the hands of man, every attempt to assess even a hint of its true nature has resulted in a costly failure.

That word hadn't even been contemplated in the beginning.

Modern library shelves groan under the weight of books detailing, in exquisite mathematical detail, our ever deepening understanding of the unshakable laws that link matter, energy, and time into a unified whole. If we threw an obscene amount of money at them, how could our best minds not come up with a way to protect us from something driving civilization to the brink of anarchy?

It would've been cheaper, and just as effective, to buy a crystal ball.

In the end the eggheads turn off their computers and take a wild guess about what is going on. Most return to their labs to think about something, anything, else. Some decide to quit all scholarly pursuits and seek employment in the fast food industry were things still make sense. A tragic few choose instead to lock their doors and play a private game of Russian roulette.

None of these decisions has any effect towards resolving the problem.

All manner of riots and civil disruptions already in progress grow worse. This too has no effect on finding a solution and the mobs eventually go home to think about something, anything, else. In truth they focus mostly on beer, televised sports, and vapid Hollywood celebrities.

Who says a short attention span is a bad thing?

Eventually, at ever greater government expense, all the costly erudite scientific speculation and research program results are boiled down by a world famous public relations firm into a single phrase and feed relentlessly to the masses: "It exists. It's not going away. Get use to it."

* * * * * * * *

THE THING: DAY ONE

New York

Too cheap to pay for the expensive services of a licensed Kennel Club dog breeder, Mr. Lawrence scoured the INTERNET until he found, Miss Lilly Vickers, an even more frugal male purebred Samoyed owner. After several chat room conversations, and the exchange of legally binding notarized paperwork approved by the New York Kennel Club, the deal was struck.

One day hence, early on a rainy midweek morning when their planned meeting place should be vacant, both parties would bring their young dogs to Central Park. Since Sassy, Mr. Lawrence's bitch, was currently deep into the throes of her first heat, the outcome of the meeting was eminently predictable.

From a purely economic point of view the arrangement couldn't be better. In four months time Miss Wickers would take legal possession of a fully weaned pick-of-the-litter worth a considerable sum. Mr. Lawrence could put whatever puppies remained on the market for substantially more.

For both parties the end result would be a monetary bonanza, and likely to be repeated as often as possible. That is, until the unfortunate Sassy was unable to pump out yet another litter, or died prematurely due to the physically harmful consequences this ruthless arrangement.

Spike, Miss Wickers' dog, would never see any of the progeny of this or any other of his numerous future couplings. He'd live out most of his pitiful existence within the confines of a small animal carrier constantly traveling by car, train, and plane until advancing age and a veterinarian's syringe brought his miserable unloved life to an end.

Not that either owner cared. Money is money after all.

The dogs never noticed the bright red-green mist-like cloud slowly rising out of the ground. Canine eyes aren't very sensitive this color range and, frankly, both were engaged in a far more serious act that left no room for idle doggy speculation. The humans were another matter altogether. Still firmly holding the leads attached to their respective dog's collar, they watched in wonder as a nearly perfect sphere of red and verdant rapidly spinning vapors engulfed them all.

Before vanishing as swiftly as it appeared, the haze abruptly burst into a silent kaleidoscopic explosion of colors. The humans deep in its rapidly shrinking core spin around in awe as they try in vain to understand the significance of this event.

Detective Matthew Simmons had seen it all, or so he'd thought until just now. Domestic disputes, drug deals gone bad, terrorists, murdered children, children murdering children, suicides, rapes, corruption of city, state, and sadly, fellow police officers . . . you name it and he could tell you where and when it had happened during his long twenty years with the NYPD.

Horrible events that kept him awake far into the night and made him keep a countdown of every remaining day until his long awaited retirement came due.

Enjoying a quiet early morning walk before checking in at his nearby precinct, he turns a sharp corner upon a deserted park walkway and steps into a scene straight out of a television comedy sketch. Wise to the ways of this publicity and mass media mad city, he spends only a few seconds looking down at the strange goings on before scanning the nearby foliage for the hidden cameras that had to be there.

Nothing.

No cameras or camera operators for that matter. No production crew, no microphone booms, no lights, not even a single union contract-required pastry and coffee cart to keep everyone happy while they waited for an unsuspecting dupe to fall within range of their trap. As many people learnt to their regret every day, living in a big city filled with camera totting wannabe film directors and YouTube aficionados could royally suck.

After using his Cellphone to call for backup, he prepares the same device to make a video record to supplement the written report he'd submit before leaving his desk this afternoon. With traffic so light at this early hour, it shouldn't be more than a few minutes before help arrives.

As he waits for ambulance EMT s and uniformed officers to appear, he watches from a prudent distance as two fully dressed adults continue to imitate the sexual positions and mating habits more appropriate to the two small dogs standing tail-to-tail nearby.

Unclothed, the male dog had been far more successful reaching his goal. Despite their enthusiastic efforts, the growling humans were still being thwarted by closed zippers and several layers of early fall wear. As a lifelong dog owner, Detective Simmons was reasonably sure the humans would be far easier to separate even if unclothed.

Although, oddly, the two canines seemed intent to do just that despite the noticeable discomfort this act was causing. Not a chance. It might be another two or three minutes before the male's penis-knot shrank enough to escape the bitch he'd just impregnated.

Satisfied he'd digitally filmed enough evidence to satisfy his precinct's lawsuit wary Captain, and the mob of news crews guaranteed to materialize when word leaked out of this bizarre event, he aims the Smart phone camera lens towards the two white furred dogs.

Approaching slowly from a direction furthest from the larger howling male's sharp teeth, he methodically zooms in on the smaller softly yipping female's collar searching for a name tag that might identify its owner. Little did he know he was about to make history.

In a clash of static and electronic feedback a voice explodes from the Smart phone's powerful speaker. Suspecting he'd accidentally pressed the wrong icon on the crowded main screen, and possible erased something important in the process, Detective Simmons lowers the volume and examines it from every angle for anything that might be amiss.

Confident the NYPD issued device is still functional; he swipes the recorded video to the starting point and begins to watch. In a matter of seconds he's standing with trembling hands and mouth agape. Centered in the small screen is a close up image of the panting female dog's jaws and tongue moving in perfect synchronization with a barely recognizable human voice.

The voice of a terrified man repeating two words over and over again.

"It hurts. . . It hurts . . . It hurts . . ."


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