Tom Bisant dream’t he was an astronaut who just returned from a twenty year journey to Enceladus, Saturn’s moon. He rode a Super Stegosaurus rocket… It slipped through time on the wings of a Proton-Drive Engine.
Space surrounded Tom like a cold, black room. He saw a gray shadow, a stand-in for death. The shadow staggered across a make-shift stage while struggling to perform a song-and-dance routine. When he was a teenager Tom wanted to be a comedian, but he was never ready to perform in public so he became an astronaut instead. The dark hole of space gave him time to think and revise his comedy act.
When the ship landed on Enceladus Tom was met by a younger version of himself.
“Look… they see me coming and they want me to screw them. I’m a celebrity. Women let me do whatever I want.”
“Obviously,” Doctor Zosimo Kulio replied, “the stress of your new job is making you feel inadequate so you compensate with bravado.”
“Hey, what gives… I’m here for your support. I thought we had a deal.”
“Oh, dear… no deal… you were ordered by your manager to get an evaluation and, in my professional opinion, all your man talk is covering up a deep seeded sense of inadequacy and most likely homosexual tendencies.”
“Fake news!! You must be working for the networks. I’ll sue!!”
When Tom Bisant returned to Earth he was old. No one remembered him. People were no longer interested in space flight. Everyone retreated into Virtual Reality, self-contained versions of Paradise. Real world scenarios were too complicated to understand, let alone manage. The real world was binary and everyone was sold on digital. The binary world was characterized by conflict, opposites, compromise, and adjustment. The digital world was always perfect and seamless.
The memo slithered out of congress like a viper. The ruling party was committed to building a bigger, better swamp. The memo was a distraction meant to inhibit enforcement of the law.
There were aliens on Enceladus living beneath the ocean that covered the moon.
Tom was a relic. He tried to talk to his estranged lover who he hadn’t seen for twenty years. It was impossible to bridge the gap. She was no longer present. She slipped the moorings of time-and-space and hung quiescent in some VR holding cell. What can you say to an empty shell?
Tom faced disaster everywhere. Space was an escape. Back on Earth disaster loomed large. The doctor prescribed pain-killers and anti-anxiety medication. Thoughts of suicide increased (a side effect caused by the drugs). A dark street hid malicious intent: strangers suddenly appeared like ghosts, asking questions and demanding information. He worried constantly about unlocked doors and faulty electrical-wiring. The plumbing in his home moaned like a wounded elephant. The house creaked. The TV assaulted him with ads and news about government shut-downs and social unrest. Tom longed for the peace of Enceladus.
We all crave attention. We are obsessed with celebrities on TV. We are social creatures so we create terrifying acts of mass murder. We want to be remembered. It is impossible to escape danger. The sun gives Cancer. The air contains contaminants that lead to COPD.
There is no way to justify an abduction in the middle of this narrative; still, it happened. Millie Vincent from Moorpark, Idaho was reported missing on the morning of February Fifth. Although she returned two days later, many unanswered questions remained. Where did she go and why? No one believed she was abducted by a UFO, but that’s what she described. UFO abductions are as common as cattle mutilations and crop circles, but no one believes those events occur either. Millie’s story had a strange twist. She recalled everything that happened on the UFO. Her description of the alien ship was like nothing ever reported before. The inside of the craft looked exactly like a karaoke bar with decor from the 1960’s. Rock music was blasting. A few gray aliens were also in attendance. Most surprising to Millie were the people in the bar. She recognized many government officials led by the Commander-in-Chef who let loose a disco rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner. The officials cheered, bowed, and praised his glory. The aliens took notes.
On Enceladus Tom Bisant confronted his younger self. The boy was fragile and insecure. He tried being the class clown in order to make friends. His comedy hung in the air like flatulence and Tom ended up in the Principal’s office. The boy was humiliated and wanted to commit suicide. His mother’s pills mixed with alcohol would do the trick. At the final moment the boy had a vision of himself as an astronaut. His life was saved.
Corporations gained profits and the stock market hit greater highs since the new president was elected. But, it was all negligible. There were rumors of a pole shift. The president was beginning to feel trapped by the fake news hammering him from every media outlet along with low poll ratings. A new plan was hatched. When in doubt spread the wealth, shore up the base, and lower taxes for power brokers and lobbyists. .
The administration supported a new Black Label miracle beverage to be marketed to all segments of the population. It was a scientific breakthrough that promised a universal cure-all and remedy for the ailments of old age. If people couldn’t afford to purchase the drink it would be given out for free. A Day of Reckoning and Reconciliation was declared when everyone (as one) would drink the Black Label.
Tom Bisant knew it was a sham. The life he led was make believe. He tried and failed would be written on his tombstone. His career as an astronaut and the journey to Enceladus happened in his brain after taking LSD while listening to Jimmy Hendricks. He confronted himself in his head… Time seemed to stop. When his turn came he would gladly sip the beverage along with everyone else.
The transmission was fuzzy, hidden beneath layers of static and concealed within a camouflage of codes. Scientists discovered a multitude of transmissions in the sounds picked up by radio telescopes.
Ronnie cut the cable. It was a defining act, a dividing line between his former life as a nobody and his new life as a God.
When Ronnie was eleven he was considered a prodigy. Teachers praised him. His parents, Dawn and Harkness, were ecstatic because their brilliant son gave them the kind of status they dearly wanted, but it didn’t last. Ronnie was paraded before audiences hungry to see a true mastermind. Expectations were overwhelming. Ronnie froze on TV, his mathematical expertise dried up like road kill on hot pavement. His parents let him know how disappointed they were. Nothing seemed to matter and no one cared so Ronnie doused his sorrows with alcohol. He started drinking heavily as a young teenager.
Drinking led to drugs. His mental acuity was short circuited. He lost interest in math. Ronnie left home after high school. He worked sporadically. His life was reduced to hours of watching cable TV. Ronnie’s family disowned him and his only friend was a drinking buddy who was homeless. Ronnie slipped, almost seamlessly, into being a nobody.
He recognized himself on TV, in sitcoms: The hapless drunk, the teenage hophead, the total failure. His drinking buddy called himself, Commander Zorn. He was an old man who was a bit creepy. Several times when drunk he tried seducing Ronnie. The Commander always said it was meaningless fun, but Ronnie suspected Zorn was really gay. The old guy was Ronnie’s only friend so he put up with the nonsense. The Commander had the gift of gab and he often told interesting stories that excited Ronnie’s hunger for something imaginative, a way out of the dismal world he inhabited. There was something mysterious about the old guy who called a cardboard box his home and boasted that it was an Imperial Kingdom. He talked with an odd accent and he used words that had no meaning and sounded more like music. Zorn always advised Ronnie to cut the cable.
He cut the cable with a pair of shears used to slice metal. The TV was turned on at the time and there was an electrical surge that kicked Ronnie to the ground. If he hadn’t been drunk he would have been killed. Instead, his mind was pulled from his body to float free in ethereal space. Ronnie was no longer tethered to 3-dimensional reality. He became part of the transmission, the buzz in space. Life and death stretched before him like a smorgasbord. The music of the spheres rumbled with harmonic dissonance.
Commander Zorn loved a computer game called, Space Invaders. He started playing as a boy and never lost interest until one day he was knocked down by a death ray. At the time he was an adult working as an accountant for a woman’s lingerie company. He was completely disabled by the death ray, i.e. – he was mentally incapable of holding down a regular job. Zorn moved into a cardboard condo and left the workaday world behind, bolstered by a growing addiction to alcohol. He cut the cable and drifted free, conquering new worlds and altering Time and Space.
Ronnie slipped between the ribbons of wireless communication experimenting with different personas. He was in the back seat of a 1938 Ford Coupe with Mary Kemper fondling her breasts and decoding the mystery of sex. Simultaneously he enjoyed a box of popcorn laced with lysergic acid at the back of an Imax Theater with Robbie Collins. The boys became friends and lovers, exploring an infant universe filled with possibilities.
After years of interminable boredom aboard the Zippo Space-liner, Commander Zorn took charge. No one else wanted the job. The previous captain locked himself in his cabin trying unsuccessfully to kill himself. The Zippo fell through a black hole and the lives of everyone on board were extended by millions of years due to a quantum entanglement. After a millennium trying to reset time, everyone gave up and just wanted to die. Seances were conducted by Madame Celia-Quark to contact some outside force to end the boredom.
Ronnie floated like a buoy in a flux of etheric currents. He was information. He had access to all the knowledge in the universe. One moment he held an ordinary glass of water and the next he was the Atlantic Ocean. When he turned up the volume he could hear angels playing electric guitars. He heard voices from every point in space and time. He heard Celia-Quark: her mind trying to crawl out of her skin, asking for help. Ronnie played the role: a ghost at the seance. He couldn’t resist lifting the table, blowing out the candle, and talking like a dead uncle. This was the group’s first outside contact. Everyone around the table quacked with expectation. Ronnie never got over his fear of other people’s expectations so he left the seance as soon as he arrived. The room collapsed like a deflated balloon brought down by the prospect of another millennium of absolute boredom.
Commander Zorn immediately picked up on Ronnie’s presence. They knew each other in another life. Ronnie could feel the resonance of Zorn. He was drawn to the source. In an unexpected confrontation Commander Zorn and Ronnie were pulled together by the currents of space/time. Wireless pixies engineered the encounter. Zorn and Ronnie merged like liquid Jello and then solidified. They were always one and the same person just separated by time (the young self and the old man). Ronnie-Zorn realized the role he had to play aboard the Zippo. The only chance to save the world from boredom was to crash the ship into a giant asteroid. The asteroid known as Bsh-44 was headed toward Earth, on a direct path to cause a major life-extinction event.
Nothing could stop the transmissions. Hidden within layers of camouflage and separated by cryptic codes the messages kept coming. Scientists discovered the transmissions were omnipotent: constantly changing, reshaping the universe — and remaking every form of life.