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Savage Survival


Darrell Bain's Monthly Blog - January 2011

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Bainstorming: Darrell's Bain's Monthly Blog.
Copyright © January 2011, By Darrell Bain

Responses to subjects brought up by this blog are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.

Subjects this month: Special Note, Betty’s Book, A simple remote, Building love, Progress report, Two faces, I don’t get it, Book report, Time Change damage, Banks and lending, Tonto, Dream Act, No tips, Excerpt from Warp Point.

Special Note: Betty and I had a very nice Christmas this past year. We also celebrated our 33rd Wedding Anniversary on New Year’s Eve. We sincerely hope all our readers and fans had a great holiday season and we wish you the very best for the coming year.

Betty’s Book

For those who haven’t heard, Betty also has a book in print, Articles, Muses and Favorite Diet Breaking Dessert Menus. Anyone who wishes to correspond with Betty may use my email address, d-bain@live.com

A simple remote

This year I think I shall ask Santa for a simple remote control, one that does nothing but turn the TV on or off, adjust the volume and has numbers to pick the channel or a button to scroll for them. Nothing else. I promise I’ll be good. Honest.

Building Love

There is no way to really know a person without living with them. Once a couple are married or move in together it is inevitable that faults and virtues  you weren’t aware of will become evident. How you handle that is a good indication of much you really love the other person. Once Betty and I were married she had to discover my many faults, some I wasn’t particularly proud of at the time. And of course I did have a few virtues as well. The reverse was true, of course, although Betty turned out to have a wealth of wonderful qualities I hadn’t been aware of beforehand. Betty never once faulted me for some of my less pleasant attributes. She concentrated on my positive points. I did the same thing. She has a few faults that annoy me but I never mention them. They pale beside her virtues. And know what? Once you began thinking about the other person’s good qualities and ignoring the bad ones I believe love will grow. It certainly did for me. I was in love with Betty before we married but over the years I’ve come to love her more and more and more. I’ve just about forgotten about any faults she has because I always think of her good side and it has paid untold benefits. I can’t imagine loving a person more. Remember all this the next time you start to open your mouth about some little thing you don’t like about your partner. Instead, think of the goodness in him or her. I suspect that eventually, just like me, you’ll forget all about anything else except what a great person your other half is.

Progress Report

I have completed Apertures and sent it to my publisher for editing. This was a really neat story to write but I had to be awfully careful to keep it all straight. Apertures is a brand new twist on an old theme, alternate universes (alternate earths in this story), whereas very rare individuals are capable of opening apertures to alternate earths. Jan and Jani, eighteen year old twins discover the hard way that they are “Naturals”, the most powerful and capable of those individuals able to create apertures to other worlds. Their ability puts them on the firing line as alternate earths with despotic governments want the use of their services -- willingly or otherwise! If that won’t work, they’ll settle for killing them. For all of my fans who ask about sequels, there will be one to this novel! In fact, Apertures will include the first two chapters of the next book.

Alien Enigma, written with Tony Teora, remained on the Amazon science fiction best selling list for ten weeks. It is still doing very well, I’m pleased to say.

At the present time I’m working on the second book of the Apertures series while at the same time continuing with the non-fiction political commentary book. I can’t give a definite time frame for the completion and publication of either but I am working as fast as my abused back will allow. I long for the time when I could write three novels and a few short stories every year and not break a sweat!

The Disappearance Enigma, written with Mary Ann Steele is out in ebook form now and may be in print by the end of the month. If not then, soon.

Warp Point is at last in print. It has continued to be a very good seller ever since publication as an ebook three years ago. The print version corrected some typos and the cover is more attractive.

This is the sixth year of the monthly blog Bainstorming. I’m gratified that reader response remains high and generally positive for this general interest blog. I enjoy writing it but it does take time away from my creative efforts in writing fiction.

And last, I’m pleased but curious at how well Starship Down is still selling two years after publication. Perhaps a lost starship with all kinds of on-board problems is an interesting subject to fans, especially after aliens come into the picture.

Two Faces

The commission on cutting our enormous national debt and deficit made one suggestion for raising the SS retirement age to 68 in 2050, forty years from now. Some of the congress critters say no way! Ain’t gonna do it! Why should they care? They’ll be dead and gone by then and they sure didn’t give a damn about leaving all that debt for the future when they’ll also be dead and gone! But I suppose being two faced comes natural to most politicians. I was sorely disappointed when even though a majority of the members endorsed the final report there weren’t enough votes to take it to congress. There were seven cowards on the commission out of eighteen members. They thought of their party first and the country second.

I don’t get it

Are the people in congress all schizophrenic? First they yammer all over the country about cutting the deficit, then they huddle with Obama and come up with a jillion dollars in tax cuts, increasing the deficit almost another trillion bucks over two years. Where in hell do these people come from? An insane asylum?

Book Report

Surely everyone knows about the book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I read it as a young man and have read it several times since. I just finished what will probably be my last reading. It is a great book, enjoyable for all ages and genders. Betty read it again right before me. There is a sequel but it wasn’t done by Stevenson. I just read it and while it is okay, there are just too many coincidences to make it believable.

The Third Reich at War by Richard J. Evans managed to surprise me despite all the military history I’ve read. Despite being a Vietnam veteran I’ve probably read more about WWII than about the Vietnam war. What surprised me and sickened me at the same time was the way so many of the conquered people were treated by the Nazi regime. Of course we all know about the holocaust and murder of six million European Jews, and I’ve read a good deal about it, too, but what’s been mostly missing from the histories I’ve read is the horrible way the rest of the population of the invaded nations and the prisoners of war the Germans took were systematically killed, both by design and neglect. Hundreds of thousands POWs were corralled without food, water or shelter and allowed to die with no attempt to keep them alive. The conquered people were considered little more than vermin and slated for extermination by starvation, overwork in clandestine weather and eviction from their homes. They were systematically robbed, brutalized, shot, tortured, raped and shoved into slave labor with no concern at all about their welfare. They were meant to die! It wasn’t just the SS troops who participated in this attempted genocide. Members of the German army followed the example of the SS with very few protests. They had been propagandized into believing the people were subhuman, unfit to occupy the same earth as the German master race. It is hard to believe just how much a previously civilized people could change under the Nazis, and change willingly, apparently. Letters from regular troops told how they felt and it wasn’t much different from Hitler’s genocidal notions of what to do with Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, Poles and other ethnic and national groups. I sincerely hope we never see the like of such things again. Read this extremely well documented and researched book if you dare. It isn’t so much about the war but about how the occupation was carried out by the German army and the subsidiary groups. Horrible!

Time Change Damage

The time changes first came into being as a way to help farmers out, giving them more daylight in the summer, their busiest season. That was in the days when the country was predominantly an agricultural society. I ask, why are the damn time changes still in effect? There is absolutely no need for it anymore. And it contributes to a lot of unnecessary misery and death, I believe. How? Because for people like me who are greatly affected by jet lag, even a one hour time change leaves a person groggy and not thinking clearly when they are up an hour earlier than normal or going home an hour later than normal. How many auto accidents are caused by this factor every year? How many people die in these accidents? There have been a number of studies and every single one shows an increased risk of auto accidents, industrial accidents and increased errors at work and home because of the time change! So why do we keep this stupid system going. No one I’ve ever talked to likes it. Is it simple inertia? Or did some stupid politicians think they were doing us a favor? If that’s so, they weren’t and I wish they’d put time one way and leave it the hell alone!

Banks and lending

For the last two years I’ve read voluminous amounts of information that  says banks are not lending money. Know what? It would just be that if the government put its own fiscal house in order the banks would have enough confidence in the economy to lend all kinds of money!

I would like to express my thanks to all the people who send letters of sympathy and condolences to Betty and I after hearing of Tonto’s untimely death. We sincerely appreciate all your letters. It was really good of you to take the time to write and we thank you.

Dream Act

Let me say that I am totally against letting illegal aliens into the country. It is ridiculous that a nation like the United States has allowed over ten million illegal to cross our borders and congress seems disinclined to do anything about it, for the usual stupid political reasons. However, Congress just had a chance to at least partially redeem itself by passing the Dream Act--and failed! This act would have allowed children brought into the country illegally when under the age of sixteen through no fault of their own to have a chance to become citizens after serving in the military or attending two years of college. And paying 2500 dollars. These kids, some of them now grown, didn’t come here of their own volition. They deserve a chance after paying some dues. The people in congress opposing the act said it would lead to a cascade effect by allowing their relatives in, too. Perhaps so, but those kids eligible for the act (had it passed) must come from pretty decent households to have finished two years of college or served two honorable years in the military. Wouldn’t relatives of these kids generally be the kind of immigrants we want? And they would come in legally, not illegally. Congress did a disservice to those kids who are here through no fault of their own and they ought to be ashamed of it, especially when they won’t do a damned thing about the ten or twelve million adult illegal aliens in the country!

No Tips

Let me start off by disclosing that my mother was supporting five children on a waitress’ salary before she remarried, so I know well how important tips are to the people who serve you your food. Most are not even paid minimum wage and depend on their tips to make up the difference. I’ve seen time and time again how this fact isn’t known and the service people are shorted. A 15% tip should be left for regular service, a 20% tip for very good service and a 10% tip for inferior service. I’ve seen people order a ten dollar meal and leave a quarter as a tip. And so far as I can figure out, no one tips the people at the fast food outlets. Every time I leave a tip at a McDonald’s or similar place the person serving me tries to give it back thinking I’ve made a mistake. The other day I stopped at a fast food place in town I’d never been to and bought $8.37 worth of food. I gave the lady ten dollars and told her to keep the change. She said “What?” I said “Keep the change.” She looked puzzled and asked, “Are you sure?” I asked her whether anyone ever left her a tip and she looked at me as if I’d asked whether the Martians were still landing. “No one ever does,” she said. I shook my head sadly as I turned away with her still staring at the extra money like it might bite her if she put it into her purse. Please remember this little vignette next time you stop for something to eat.

Excerpt from Warp Point

Chapter One

           “It has to be,” Matt Selman said, standing and staring at rows of figures on his monitor. The data arriving in his office at the University of Houston was coming from the University of Hawaii’s astronomy department, routed through a geosynchronous satellite. He touched a key. The screen flickered and the columns of figures were replaced by a graphic representation. A line appeared at the edge of the large screen directly above his desk and progressed toward the center. The line was green at its origin, then gradually changed to a dark red color.

           “Why?” Tara Whitley asked from beside him, her voice holding a tremor of excitement. “How can you tell?” She was looking at him, not the monitor.

           Matt shrugged, as if the moment wasn’t really so momentous that it was causing his pulse to race. “Easy. Once they backtracked, they found it was accelerating from the moment it appeared, and now it’s decelerating.”

           For a long moment Tara was speechless. Without really thinking about it, she found her hand gripping Matt’s upper arm. She simply stared at the monitor, trying to make herself believe in what Matt had told her and what the data had just revealed. Unconsciously, she glanced around to see whether anyone else was in the room with them who might laugh at her reaction to the improbable data. The information was coming from Pan-STARRS, the Panoramic Survey Telescope, then downloaded to their own astronomy department at the University of Houston. The Pan-STARRS had been developed by the University of Hawaii, and was used, among other duties, to detect potentially dangerous objects which might threaten Earth.

           Matt noticed Tara’s reaction and grinned, making him look younger than the forty years he had just reached. “No use in thinking Houston can keep this a secret. Hawaii’s already got the data, as well as Colorado and a dozen other places.” He was still getting used to having his new assistant around. He had worked by himself so long that having someone to share the duties had come as a surprise, one he hadn’t been sure he would like at first. Now, though, he was glad to have another person to share his delight at this latest development from the Pan-STARRS telescope. It had worked exactly as it was designed to, although had the phenomenon on his monitor occurred a week later, the scope would have been involved in a large scale survey of far more distant objects for several weeks and another observatory would probably have made the discovery. He doubted that survey would occur now! Not with an alien object entering the solar system—and doing it in a fashion which only wild theorists had thought possible.

           Tara forced a smile, though amusement was the last thing she was feeling at the moment. “I’m trying to imagine what the public reaction will be. After all the decades of searching and thousands of science fiction stories depicting this exact scene, I’ll bet no one will believe it at first.”

           “We won’t have much to say about it,” Matt pointed out. “The news is already circulating. I’ll bet CNN is already on it, or will be soon. Something like this is too awesome for a cover-up.”

           “But I’ll bet some politicians will try—or at least downplay its significance.”

           “Of course they will,” Matt said, glad to find that Tara shared his view of politics, in this instance anyway. He suddenly noticed how close she was standing and how fiercely she was gripping his arm. Although nothing romantic had developed between them, he held a rather faint hope that something might. Their disparity in age had kept him from broaching the subject so far. She was barely in her mid-twenties, fifteen years younger than he. Besides, he was no hunk, nor very good looking, what with shocks of reddish hair that wouldn’t stay in place and a sprinkling of freckles across his face. Why would someone like her, a young pretty woman with raven hair and a ready smile, be interested in him? Not to mention the fact that anything he said to her along those lines might be taken as sexual harassment. Despite the easy nature of their relationship to date, she was a subordinate, working for him.

           “Well, what do we do next?”

Matt brought his thoughts back from the realm of unfulfilled desire to the reality of the present. He suddenly felt a little woozy, a delayed reaction from the spurt of adrenalin that had rushed through his body upon first discerning the import of the downloaded data. “I think the first thing I’d better do is sit down. I got a little too excited and didn’t realize it.” He gently removed her hand from his arm and sat down in the chair in front of the monitor. He looked at her. “Pull up a seat, Tara, and we’ll see if we can find out what the initial reactions are on the net.” He grinned at her. “I bet they’ll be good for some laughs, huh?”

* * *

           “What in hell is on that geek’s mind to make him so goddamned insistent on seeing the president?” Chase Redglove asked, but got no immediate answer from his subordinates. They were used to the White House chief of staff talking to himself.

           Finally one of the junior members present ventured an opinion. “It has to be about that so-called spaceship, sir.”

           “Spaceship? What goddamned spaceship? We’ve got more important things to do than talk about a fucking spaceship! Those goddamned rocket scientists think the space program is the only fucking thing in government worth spending time or money on.”

           They were also used to Redglove’s bursts of profanity.

           “Uh, sir, I don’t think it’s about the space program,” Gene Flanders, his senior assistant, said. “There’s news circulating on the net about…” He hesitated a moment, trying to decide how to put it to Redglove without having his boss skin the hide from his neck for bringing it up. “…well, they’re saying a spaceship from outside of the solar system is on a path toward Earth.”

           Redglove’s mouth set in lines of pure disgust. “Goddamn it Gene, that fucking SETI program has been wasting government money for decades. Tell Marvin Stanforth to go to hell. No, wait.” He pierced the junior assistant who had spoke first with his eyes. He pointed, not remembering the woman’s name. “You go tell him. Don’t hurry back.”
Blushing furiously, the young lady left the room, trailing thoughts behind her that would have gotten her fired on the spot had they been vocalized.

           Redglove flipped a page on the morning’s agenda. “Okay Gene, I need you to brief that fucking Marine general who’s causing all the flak about shortfalls in equipment. Make it plain to him that we don’t have the money and don’t have an ice cube’s chance in hell of getting it any time soon. Shut him up. See the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs if you have to, but I want him stifled. Goddamned Marines, think they’re fucking supermen, let them use what they have.”

           The phone in front of him rang. Redglove was already so irritated that he picked it up himself. “What!” he yelled. “No! You ever call again while I’m in a meeting you can kiss your fucking job good-by. Huh?” Chase’s face split in a grin. He slammed the phone down. “Takes care of that,” he said, nodding to himself. “The president’s science advisor just quit. Or at least I think so. Now where were we?”

* * *

           Marvin Stanforth seethed, fantasizing over ways Chase Redglove might meet a slow and painful death. Redglove was practically a card carrying Luddite, so far as Marvin was concerned, and a bigot besides, who made little effort to conceal his distaste for anyone other than pure white Anglo Saxons in government—or any other position of authority. Marvin waved his admin assistant away and sat at his desk, chin propped on clasped hands, trying to think of his next move. He didn’t really want to quit his job, though he had come close to saying so a moment before. Anyhow, right now the important thing was figuring out a way to bypass Redglove and get to the president. This event was earth-shakingly important and the president had to be made to realize it. He brought one hand away from his chin and down to his desk, then began tapping its surface with his forefinger. Somehow, that always helped him think when he needed to solve a problem in a hurry.

           A few minutes later Marvin picked up the phone. He hated using his race to get what he needed, but in this case he felt it was justified. The president was of necessity a political animal; there was no other way to get elected these days. If Redglove wouldn’t listen to his science advisor after being told plainly there was an emergency, then perhaps the president would talk to a politician. In this case, Ramon Clearman, titular head of the Democratic Party in California and chairman of that state’s black caucus, might be the man. He dialed Ramon’s number from his near-eidetic memory.

           “Hello, Marvin. What’s on your mind?” Ramon answered after Marvin had waded through a couple of flaks who guarded access to their boss.

           “I need to see the president and Chase is tuning me out.”

           “Is it about that bullshit spaceship story, Marvin?”

           “It’s not bull, it’s the real thing, Ramon. The president needs to be briefed as soon as possible.”

           “Did you tell that to Redglove?”

           “Yes I did. It was like talking to a brick wall. I don’t think that man really believes in space, not down in his bones where it counts. He’s a complete illiterate so far as science is concerned.”

There was a long pause. “All right, Marvin, I can get you in, but this better be good. I’m going to have to use up a bushel basket of favors to buck the appointments secretary. The president’s a stickler for letting him handle his schedule.”

           “Thanks, Ramon. I would say I owe you one, but this is bigger than simply trading favors. Our whole future may depend on how this is handled. You’ll call me back?”

           “I will. Stay close to your phone.”

           Marvin breathed a sigh of relief, then turned on the television in his office and began rapidly scanning the developing news while making cryptic notes on how he would present the latest data to the president. The man wasn’t a simpleton like so many of the electorate, but he had a huge workload and an equally huge number of problems. The rise of Muslim fundamentalism had upset the whole world of geopolitics and it was still in flux. Not to mention the fact that if anyone looked closely, the United States was broke, and its borrowing power was strained to the limit.

           An hour later he had his appointment. Four thirty in the Oval Office. Marvin glanced at his watch and called his driver, wishing his office was closer to the White House.

* * *

           Dan Saddler muted the volume of the television in the den and turned to his wife, Stacy. “Wow, sweetheart! What a story! I just hope it’s true.”

           Stacy took her husband’s hand and leaned against him. She rubbed her cheek against his shoulder. “I hope so too. I used to think science fiction was foolish until you got me reading it. Golly, this is just like something from one of our books.”

           Dan kissed his wife and thought of how much he loved her. The spacious den and big wide-screen television were some of the benefits of a life spent together in hard work, building up a software company and finally selling it for a considerable amount of money. Still in their early forties, they had retired to the piney woods area of East Texas and built a home there.

           “Well, shucks, we’ve been wondering what we were going to do with the rest of our lives, but now I think we’d better delay any decisions until we see what comes of this.”

           Stacy brushed at her short, taffy blond hair and nodded. “I think you’re right, hon. If this is true, the whole world’s going to be in turmoil. Lord God, I don’t even like to think about it.”

           “I think it’s the real thing, sweetie. That telescope in Hawaii was built specifically for this sort of thing, in part. I don’t see how it could be a hoax.”

           “How about a natural phenomenon? That’s happened before, something we didn’t understand at first being taken for messages from the stars.”

           “I don’t think so, not this time. There’s nothing known that can decelerate like they say this object is doing—and without any visible indication of thrust as well.” He suddenly brightened. “Hey, want a drink? I’m going to make me one.”

           Stacy smiled and patted her husband on the thigh. “Why not? I think this deserves a special celebration.”

           Dan winked as he got up. “Special celebration” was one of their key phrases for making love.

           “Make a pitcher of punch!” Stacy called after him as he headed for the bar across the room. She wanted the late afternoon and evening to be eventful, and punch would string out the anticipation better than mixed drinks.

           Stacy turned up the volume on the television again since the commercial was over, but it was only an earlier segment being re-broadcast. Instead of looking at it, she watched her husband, admiring his slender but well-muscled form. He hadn’t let himself go like so many men did as they approached middle age, and the hard work of landscaping and moving into their new home had kept him active. For that matter, she didn’t think she had much to complain about with her own body. She had been unable to conceive despite numerous attempts and spending a small fortune at fertility clinics. Not having children had a lot to do with her trim body, but like Dan, she had stayed active and exercised regularly. She knew she didn’t have a spectacular figure, but it was firm and shapely enough. She was satisfied; with herself, with Dan, and life in general, other than their failure to have children. That was especially true now, living in their spacious new home. They hadn’t even had to spend money on the land. Dan had inherited the 500 acre ranch from his father. They had sold off what cattle remained, then torn down the old house and built a new one, farther back from the county blacktop road, for more privacy. When they wanted company, there was always Houston or Shreveport, over in Louisiana. They had friends living in both places, like Matt Selman. In fact…

           “Here you go,” Dan said, handing her a glass of punch and sitting down beside her with his own. He glanced toward the television. “Something new, looks like.”

           Stacy lost the thread of thought involving their astronomer friend as the anchor came on with breaking news.

* * *

           Brigadier General Chester Hawkins, liaison officer of SFO, Space Forces and Operations, was briefing the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. The commanding generals of all four branches of the military were present. There were no civilians at this meeting. The Chairman, General Harry Binds, would talk to government figures later, the ones who counted. In his opinion, there weren’t many.

           General Hawkins was going down the list of points he had written on an index card he held in one hand. “Sir, we’ve backtracked to when the object was first sighted. It isn’t something that has been approaching us gradually. It appeared suddenly. We have regular observations dating back months and years of that area of the sky and there’s no sign of it prior to March seventeenth of this year. It is――”

           “Hold on a moment,” General Binds ordered. “Can you tell us what that means, the sudden appearance?”

           Hawkins debated inside his mind for several seconds, deciding how to present the answer. “Sir, the conclusion of a number of highly respected scientists is that, since faster than light travel is theoretically impossible, the object must have come through some sort of…well, warp point is a good term, I suppose. An area of space congruent with another area light years distant.”

           “Warp point. How does that work? Could we build one?”

           “Sir, we have no idea of the mechanism of the warp point, whether it’s natural or produced by…by whoever or whatever controls the object. It’s certainly far beyond our abilities, if it is a construct. The thinking so far is that it’s not. The really bright boys think it’s natural and that there may be many of them in the galaxy.” He waited a moment to see if there were more questions. When he saw there weren’t, he continued. “As I was saying, the object is still on an intercept course with Earth. That hasn’t changed since it began decelerating.”

           Hawkins paused a moment to look at his card, then continued. “There is no evidence of thrust of any kind which might be responsible for the deceleration. We have no idea how it’s being done, but if it continues as it is now, the object will arrive near Earth on or about the tenth of May.”

           “Why do you keep referring to it as an object, rather than a spaceship?” General Binds asked.

           So far, the other generals were deferring to the chairman for questions. Hawkins suspected it was because they didn’t want to show their ignorance of what was happening. They shouldn’t mind, he thought. No one else knew much, either. “Sir, a spaceship implies something manned. We don’t know whether it is or not. It could be a robot craft, like the instrument packages we’ve sent around the solar system, except this is being done on a much more ambitious scale, of course.”

           “I see. Go ahead.”

           “Yes, sir. Upon arrival, we don’t know what it will do. We presume it will begin orbiting Earth, but there’s no way to tell.”

           “Could it be dangerous? An impact, like an aimed weapon?”

           “No, sir, not so long as it keeps decelerating. Or I should amend that to say it would cause minimal damage if it impacted at the speed it will be going upon arrival, depending of course, on where it landed. It is rather massive, so far as we can tell without having any knowledge of the type of force it uses for power.”

           “How massive?”

           “Um, minimum size, say two football field lengths and about half that in breadth. Maximum, two or three times that. It’s hard to calculate a mass without knowing what’s inside.”

           “Suppose there’s nothing?”

           “I can’t imagine that, sir. There’s at least enough instrumentation to be directing it toward us. And obviously, it’s either intelligently controlled, or has instruments which determined its actions in advance.”

           “All right. Any idea of where on earth it might land, supposing it does land and not go into orbit?”

           “No, sir. It’s far too early to say.”

           General Binds’ mouth, when not asking questions, was set in a grim line. Hawkins could see that he obviously didn’t like what he was hearing. Or perhaps it was simply the lack of hard intelligence which was aggravating him.

           Hawkins glanced at the index card to see what his next item was, then continued. “We’ve done reflection analysis in as many wave lengths as we have instruments for. The surface of the object is made of a reflective material with a rather high albedo, although it isn’t metal as we know it. We’ve gotten indications of several common metallic elements present, but not in concentrations high enough to account for the bulk of the object, so at present we’re stumped there. Once it gets closer we may find out more, but I suspect we’ll have to wait to analyze an actual sample of it, if we’re allowed to.

           “So far as the object attempting to communicate with us, or giving out any kind of signal for that matter, we’ve drawn a blank. There’s been none, not in any wave length we know of.” Hawkins paused again. He felt a fine film of sweat building on his skin. Going through the briefing for the Joint Chiefs made him realize just how little they did know of the entity. No one but General Binds was asking questions, but he had a thousand for himself. So did every other scientist on Earth, he thought. He let his gaze travel around the table, waiting for the next move.

           Finally Binds said “Is that all?”

           “That’s the main points, sir. I’m sorry we have so little hard data for you, but I’ve got my whole staff working to get more as it comes in. There is some elaboration in the individual briefing packets you received beforehand, and I’ll be glad to try answering questions from those, if any of you have them.”

           General Binds scrutinized the other chiefs. They all remained singularly silent.

           “I guess not. That’ll be all, General Hawkins. Please be prepared to meet with us once a week for the next month or so, and you have my leave to call me personally if anything turns up you think we need to know between times.”

           “Thank you, sir. I will.” Hawkins saluted and left, noting how late in the day it was. Earlier, it had seemed as if time was passing at a crawl. His own office was in another portion of the pentagon. He thought of going back, but contented his conscience with a call to his clerical sergeant, telling her he would be home if anything new broke. This thing wasn’t going away any time soon, and he needed some rest.

Darrell Bain
Shepherd, Texas
January 2011




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This page last updated 01-01-11.