Authors: Adair Hart
Tags: #time travel, #science fiction, #aliens, #space adventure
Copyright © 2015 Adair Hart
All rights are reserved to the author. No part of this ebook may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Editing done by Laura Petrella
Cover done by Tom Edwards
Interior Design done by Colleen Sheehan
Published by Quantum Edge Publishing
To get updates on new books and other notifications, sign up for my mailing list at:
r. Albert Snowden was focusing on the most important part of his day, his nap. He gazed out the window in his living room with his hands clasped behind his back. The brightness of the melting snow outside made him squint his eyes. Winter was finally ending in Northwest Columbus, Ohio. He enjoyed wintertime since fewer people came by the house and there were more opportunities to nap undisturbed.
He had been having trouble sleeping lately and felt more fatigued sometimes after waking up. He turned away from the window and shuffled toward his favorite recliner in the living room, hoping that maybe a change in sleeping venue might help. He wore clothes from the previous night, when he had fallen asleep grading papers at his desk in his study. The deep wrinkles in his brown twill slacks reflected having slept in his chair, and his white striped shirt, with his brown bow tie and cotton vest, had a spattering of recent stains hinting at a late-night dinner. He stood around five feet eleven inches, and the tufts of brown and gray hair on his balding head connected with his well-trimmed beard. A smile crept across his face at the thought of napping for the rest of the afternoon. He plopped down onto the recliner, glancing around while wiggling his toes and gripping the recliner arms. The chair was like an old friend just waiting to comfort him. He was ready for his nap.
He reclined in the chair just as Emily, his niece from his deceased older brother, Dan, arrived. He raised his eyebrows as he watched her bounce into the room from upstairs. The smell of scented shampoo permeated the air. She was wrapped in a bathrobe and running her hands through her damp hair. She reminded him so much of her mother, Sarah, standing around five feet nine inches with dirty-blond hair and a face deep in thought. Despite that, she definitely had her father’s disposition and personality traits. It sometimes felt as if he were talking with his brother.
“Uncle Albert, I’m going to the store here shortly to pick up a few things. Need anything, like coffee?” asked Emily.
“I’m fine. Well, actually,” said Dr. Snowden, stroking his chin, “we are running low on coffee. Can you pick that up? Make sure to get ground coffee, not that instant crap. You don’t need to get creamer again either. You know I only drink my coffee straight black.” He noticed Emily giving him a critical look. She must have been unhappy with something he had done.
“You stayed up late grading papers again, didn’t you? You know that could’ve waited till today. That’s why you want to nap all the time. It’s screwing up your sleep cycle,” said Emily.
He nodded his head at her. “Yeah, I know. I don’t think going to bed at a regular time would help that anyways. Regardless, papers are graded, and I can now enjoy studying a nap. I’ll be fine. You worry too much. Have a safe trip.”
Emily shook her head and sighed. She turned and bounded up the stairs.
He appreciated her concern for his well-being, but it was overbearing at times. It was her way of keeping him close after Dan died. He had a strong relationship with her parents. Sarah was Dan’s childhood sweetheart and grew up with Dan and Dr. Snowden in a small town outside Columbus. When Dan and Sarah moved to Florida, Dr. Snowden moved as well and took a job near them. Sarah died giving birth to Emily, and Dr. Snowden became a big part of Emily’s life as she grew up. He had lived there until Emily’s graduation from high school. He then took a teaching job in Columbus.
Dan died on February 4, 2011, from cancer in Emily’s second semester of her sophomore year in college, leaving Dr. Snowden the only relative left in their small circle. Emily came up from Florida to stay with him the summer after Dan died and decided to stay and finish her degree while living with him. He was helping her financially, and her second semester of her senior year was well underway. He enjoyed having her around, as she made the house feel more alive. She also reminded him of what was gone. He surveyed the living room and realized he was in the clear. He would finally get a nap in without any more distractions. He reclined the chair and closed his eyes.
Two knocks rang out from the front door. His eyes popped open. He had not expected anyone today that he could remember. He hoped it wasn’t those Jehovah’s Witnesses Dr. Bryson sent last week. While he enjoyed a good prank, three times in a month was a bit much. He rose from the recliner with an audible sigh and lumbered over to the front door, pausing to peep out the peephole.
A Caucasian man in his midthirties stood outside, with dirty-blond hair, a chiseled chin, and piercing blue eyes that seemed to penetrate the peephole. The man had on a dark-blue and silver pinstripe suit and polished black shoes. His hair was short with a small wave jutting out the front and to the side. The sides were shaved, giving an overall clean-cut profile.
Dr. Snowden wrinkled his brow and narrowed his eyes. This was definitely not a Jehovah’s Witness. He had put up a No Solicitors sign last year and made sure it was displayed prominently. There was no way this man could have missed it. He either ignored it or was there for another reason. Either way, Dr. Snowden was going to find out. He cracked the door open a bit to get a better view.
“Dr. Snowden?” said the man in the doorway.
“Yes, can I help you?”
The man bowed with his left arm across his stomach. “My name is Evaran, and I am here to save you.”
Dr. Snowden’s smirked. Great, another religious nut, just what he needed. He had tangled with people pushing various philosophies on him all his life. He had developed a mental checklist of tactics to refute many of their claims. He avoided confrontations if possible, knowing that once a person made up their mind, they rarely changed their view. However, when cornered, he did not back down either. “How’d you know my name? Did Dr. Bryson send you?”
“I do not know a Dr. Bryson.”
“Well, how’d you know my name then?”
Evaran pointed to a package sitting on a chair on the front porch. “You have a package from the college with your name on it.”
Dr. Snowden stepped back a bit and opened the door all the way to see the package. It was several feet wide by several feet tall. He did not remember hearing a package dropped off last night. “Hmm, that’s odd. Okay, well, thanks for stopping by. It’s been great. Take care.”
“Wait!” said Evaran, extending his left hand, palm up, toward Dr. Snowden. A vertical ten-inch screen appeared, hovering above a ring on his middle finger. On the screen was a decrementing timer, and it showed around ten minutes.
Dr. Snowden crossed his arms and raised his eyebrows as he scrutinized the display. He was not aware of any type of technology capable of producing a free-floating screen, especially from a ring. Typically, he would have already shut the door, but the screen from Evaran’s ring intrigued him. He pointed at the display. “Okay, tell me what that is, and I’ll listen to what you have to say. Deal?”
Evaran nodded and half grinned. “Curiosity. That trait befits you. It is a deal then. At a high level, the screen is a holographic projection emitted by my ring. The ring also emits ultrasonic radiation for tactile feedback. The ring itself, however, is really just a relay for a much more powerful system. Does that satisfy my part of the deal?”
Dr. Snowden pushed his glasses up. He had never heard of technology combined like that before or seen anything so advanced. He was not even sure he fully understood it. He could not deny what was in front of him, though. “Yeah, I guess, although I’d like to touch it.”
Evaran extended his hand farther toward Dr. Snowden.
Dr. Snowden poked at the display and felt resistance, like touching a rubber sheet. His eyes widened and his lips parted as he pulled his head back. The applications a technology like this could power did not escape him. He closed his mouth after realizing it was still open. He pulled his hand back and looked at Evaran. “That’s … pretty amazing.”
“I am glad you think so. Are you ready to hear what I have to say now?”
“Sure, why not,” said Dr. Snowden, dipping his head slightly and gesturing with his right hand for Evaran to continue. He had many questions he wanted to ask, but he figured maybe after he heard what Evaran had to say, he could ask them.
Evaran pulled his hand back. “I am here to save you from the current predicament you are in. The world around you is an illusion, and I need to prepare you for an awakening.” He pointed to the timer with his right hand. “In around eight minutes, this world will disappear, along with you in it. When it does, I will be there to guide you through your awakening.”
Everything about this encounter seemed unusual to Dr. Snowden, from the high-tech screen he was seeing to the impeccable suit Evaran wore, which was not normal for a door-to-door solicitor. “That’s an extraordinary claim. Do you have extraordinary proof to confirm this claim?”
Evaran lowered his hand to his side, making the screen go away. He nodded. “Ahh, the scientist in you speaks. I like that. I do have some evidence that you may find interesting. Let me ask you, have you had dreams of being in a room that you knew was a medical room of some type but did not recognize as any medical room you have seen before?”
Dr. Snowden’s heartbeat ramped up, and his mouth fell open. He had only told Emily about the dreams, dreams she was having as well. How could someone he never met know about them? “Yeah … I’ve had a reoccurring dream about a medical room.”
“Did the room have six beds, six stalls, a large screen with unusual symbols on it, and an unusual-looking freestanding console in the corner of the room?”
Dr. Snowden crossed his arms and leaned forward a bit. He licked his lips as he pondered what he just heard. Evaran’s description of the room was too exact to blow off as pure chance. “How’d you know about that?”
Evaran furrowed his eyebrows and pursed his lips while placing both hands together in front of him, touching at the fingertips. “This world is a virtual simulation, a program that tries to approximate the real world. You are a virtual representation of yourself, an avatar. Your physical body is still in the real world, actually in the room I just described to you. You have been here for about three weeks. Occasionally, your body needed to be moved for research and maintenance. I am guessing that was most likely done with you in a sedated state. Your dreams would then be glimpses of the real world.”