Where the wheels of poetry and prose spin ...

Monday, September 14, 2020

Dancing on the Pedals - (Tour de France Special Edition)

Dancing on the Pedals 
Image: Public Domain

Welcoming arms of pine 
The fields of smiling suns 
And the rise of road to sky 
Flowers my imagination 

Spinning carbon or steel 
The climb rises in tremolo 
With the beat of my heart 
And the Divine aficionado 

Out of the saddle I stand 
On a long day suffered 
The line between pedal 
And of shoe is blurred 

Tapping out a lively rhythm 
The pace of quickened tempo 
(Or the tempo sets the pace) 
On a summit crescendo
 
I hear the roaring thunder 
Of a monumental score 
Dancing on the pedals 
This road is my dance floor


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Reverse Polarity - a short story

 Reverse Polarity

“Scientists first observed the phenomena in the early 21st Century – the polarity of the earth was shifting. A repeating occurrence every 10,000 years. At first it was gradual. The populous was not adversely affected – until. After World War IV and nearly one billion deaths, one-tenth of the population, the earth transformed overnight as if the planet needed repentance. The South Pole and the North Pole changed positions. Reverse Polarity,” the autonomous holographic professor paused to wait for questions. None. 

[Image: www.earth.com - Fair Use Intended]
“Creatures such as eels, fish, insects, and birds among other migratory species were adversely affected. Later, studies proved the abrupt magnetic change caused the alpha brainwaves in many species such a dramatic alteration they all died. It was unknown at the time if humans were tapped into the Earth’s magnetic field as the aforementioned species, but they were equally affected.

Later this event was known as 'Dar la Vuelta’ or the ‘Blip’ or ‘Balik’ – meaning the “Flip”. However it was referenced, no amount of bombs could come close to the devastation. Only one billion survived. The Equatorial nations and surrounding regions were not affected.

“Many shouted it was a message. It was mankind’s turn to repent.

“After several brief months of chaos and a communications blackout the South America nations united, led by Ecuador; as did the African nations led the Congo; followed by the southern Asian islands led by Indonesia. Three new world powers. Once established, the military forces from Ecuador and Columbia along with Brazil – known as the Republica de Amerigo – migrated north to the old United States. Purpose, to control the infrastructure and obtain superior weapons. But this was a waste of time. The Dar la Vuelta had disrupted all pre-existing electrical devices north of five degrees latitude – the same was soon discovered south of five degrees latitude. They returned to their respective nations. But later on, they returned with their own equipment and weapons in order to take advantage and protect of her resources. United under the same banner, it was decided not to disclose this discovery to the other world powers. The intention – allow them to waste time and resources. Once the same was discovered by the United Indo-Islands when similar attempts were made in old Russia and North Korea and the Chinese Communist Regime, the Congo-Kenyan Empire’s spies relayed this intelligence to their superiors – they retreated from their attempts to control the old Iranian nuclear stockpile. Instead, Europe was their new resource target. And like their Amerigo counterparts, they figured out to occupy and utilize land to their north and south by spreading their own technologies across their newly acquired respective regions.

“Despite the distrust, there were no wars. No territory disputes. There was plenty of resources. Even the old cartels, the old militia and the old Triad realized the new abundance and a peace was agreed. But this was viewed as a temporary pacifier to a yet another new era. An era of over-population like not previous experienced prior to the Dar la Vuelta.

“¿Any questions, comments?” The professor asked his surprisingly attentive class – aside from one.

“¿Por que’?”

“¿Why what? Senorita.”

“¿If we won, why do we need to learn all this mierda?”

The holomatrix of the professor fluttered. “That is a question for anyone who intends to repeat history.”

“¡That’s not an answer!”

“On the contrary. It is. ¿Shall I continue?” The class removed their eyes from the solo disturbance and redirected their attention toward the professor. “Once the three super-powers began to repopulate the planet, the disputes began. Trade disputes. Resource and territory disputes. War. Population decrease. Population increase. War. ¿Would mankind ever turn from this vicious cycle? From one age to the next it seemed this destructive pattern was predestined.”

“That would require an Intelligent Designer.” One student stated as he stood, and politely returned to his seat.

“You are correct Senor.” The professor scanned the classroom. “¿But – is it possible to be predestined to change?” No one answered. “Back to the history lesson. ¿And where are now? Victors in the last war. ¿But at what cost? Two billion. 10% of the population,” a raised hand caught his eye. “Yes Senorita.”

“We were defending ourselves.”

“Yes. That is how history will be recorded,” silence. “¿And how will history record our current events?”

The professor initiated the two-dimensional holo-screen which emitted from the ceiling. News reports from around the world. “The greatest migration of anyone who can manage the cost or beg, or other unsavory means left their homes for safety. Lines of refugees. The various militaries from numerous nations are moving their respective equipment and weapons across multiple boarders by ground and air. Of course, this is causing chaos and conflict to erupt particularly since Union Ecuatorial is not prepared for this influx and has vowed to defend her borders around the globe,” a news anchor’s voice-over reported. “As the planet continues to increase its pace of reversing poles – which according to prominent scientists throughout the world, predict is any day now – the exodus from the northern and southern hemispheres toward the equator is massive and unprecedented in human history,” she continued to report.

[Artist Unknown - Fair Use Intended]
The professor pressed mute, as was his class. “Predictions indicate approximately only one billion people will survive,” he paused. “¿In the aftermath, will the survivors respond in the same fashion as our planet?

“Will this be on the test?” A voice from the classroom blurted.

“It will be on the most important test of your existence.”

~

"For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in pains of childbirth right up to the present time.”

       Romans 8:20-22

 ~

Note: Artistic license was taken in writing this story. The reversal of the poles is theorized to take place every several hundred thousands of years. The actual reversal is theorized to take over several hundreds of years. Please see the following article for more on this topic. For the purpose of this story the reversal is every 10,000 years and occurs over night, which allows for a more dramatic affect. 

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Love and Fear (and the Confusion in Between)

Love and Fear (and the Confusion in Between)

Love and fear
And the confusion
In between the lines
Of unbelief and faith
Led down by a green mile
Of self-incarceration
With thickening walls
Trapped in the prison
Cells of our brains
Is the inability
Or unwillingness
To act prudently
Stumbling on shortsighted
Hope rotting and wilting
From social commentary
Swinging tongues of swords
In the mirk and mire
Of an endless grudge
Drawing lines
In the sandbox
Of prideful pillars
Or too quick to fall
Into passive holes
With frightened minds
Preying on fractured hearts
Led by false wisdom
Bowing to the gods
Of pseudo peace
And circular reasoning
Strangled by a noose
Of isolated imagination
In the wild dance across
The temples of blindness
Crying against the chaos
Lies an increasing
Chasm of fear
Blurred by fists filled
With a disturbing
Indifference for our neighbor

When all this time
On the opposing cliff
Above the confusion


[Also published in this month's Synchronized Chaos.]

If only perfect love could spread as quickly as a pandemic. - Dave Douglas


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

3 - a short story (Part 3 of 3)

3
(Click here to read from the beginning.)


They sat around the kitchen table. But not for long. Holly shoved her chair backward and stood to announce her loss of appetite. She flapped her arms once only to let them land on her hips. The two men did not move their heads but rotated their eyes upward. Food was a priority.
Manny was not as quick as Adon to set his fork down. “Mi amor. Where would we begin looking? If they are still here,” he took a bite, “we need to tend the farm.” Manny mumbled as he swallowed his breakfast.
“I heard the one called QR-something say something about a survey. That means they are still here,” she stalled. “What if there are others? They could help us find them,” she trembled. “How long has it been?”
“She’s right,” Manny chimed into the argument. “But –”
Adon exhaled. “Which side are you on?”
“I’m not taking sides,” he took another bite.
Adon looked to the paint-peeled ceiling for his next thought. “But how? Manny is in no condition.”
“We do what we always do. We ask,” Holly prompted as they all shared a glance and a smile of agreement.
“We follow,” Manny smiled.
Holly returned to her seat and together they began talk to the author of their faith.

~

“This is fascinating,” L3 admitted to QR. “But I do not see how it is relevant.”
“Society and culture, not to mention the population has diminished on our world.”
QR attempted to exceed its programming by relating to the humans from its vantage point in the ship. “Nothing closely resembles the interaction of these three – the unity.”
“And —” L3 turned to check a monitor. “— that is the ‘rub’ as one of their author’s employed. There are only three. Perhaps a small population is capable of the ‘unity’ to which you reference,” L3 paused, in the same way it paused their mission. “This diversion has gone on long enough,” L3 paused to examine a monitor. “An intelligent suggestion to land nearby, cloak the ship, yet far enough away not to be detected should mystery around our refraction arise, but – your curiosity program –” It stopped. “It has always conflicted with my programming.”
“Compatible balance,” QR stated of their combined coding. “I suggest we collect more data and report these findings, in addition to our geographical surveys. Calculations and observations suggest a high probability of societal improvement,” QR countered.
“Your statistical probabilities may need further analysis. In addition, the suggestion of a complete societal paradigm shift, if that is indeed what you suggest, is unlikely,” L3 stopped. Calculated. “A short diversion. 48 hours. Then we complete our scans. I should be able to complete some the scans from this location.”
“I could boost the scanning radius,” QR added.

~

After Adon, Manny and Holly gathered around the breakfast table and repeated their activity from the previous morning – with hands embraced – they headed to the barn. Manny, but mostly Adon worked on repairs to an old horse-drawn tractor. Wild horses and burros had migrated north from the high desert in search of food and water. The geothermal activity provided the paradise conditions in the valley in which both humans and livestock and wildlife enjoyed. This provided an ample supply of tamable beasts to assist with farming. Holly loved to break a new Mustang; she was a natural. But Manny felt the need to check on his wife. It was his own injuries which prompted his concern. Holly wasn’t keen to his caution; this resulted in an argument which may have been worse than broken ribs. Manny injured her confidence. “It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve done this, let Adon do it!”
“Don’t be stupid!” She indirectly injured the old man.
“Simmer down now,” Adon interfered as he rushed out to the dusty display.
“I’ve got this!” Holly shouted. The beast of burden bucked and twisted. “Manny! Back off!” Just as she glanced at him for half-a-second, her balance shifted in the opposite direction of the movement of the horse. Holly was on the ground with dust in her throat. Nothing broken, she assessed as the horse circled the corral away from her. Holly huffed. Manny scurried toward her. This effort forced a wince of pain. “I said –” She slung her talon-like words.
“I know, ‘back off’, but –” He stopped to catch his breath.
“I’m going inside. Go back to work,” Her wisdom caught her anger before the argument escalated even further. She brushed his offered hand away and rose on her own strength. Manny kicked the dirt on his way backed to the barn. Adon slapped his back to tame his unbridled spirit.

~

The two robots monitored and logged the events of the morning. L3 stated as if to repeat a previous agreement. “46.3 hours remain.”
“Acknowledged,” replied QR.

~

Late in the afternoon Manny and Holly were seated on the front porch swing. The swing started out motionless, but as they continued their conversation the motion grew in strength as did their reconciliation. Adon saw them through the front room window and strolled out to join them. “Do you remember when you two first arrived?” Adon asked as he leaned against the front porch railing.
“I saw Holly as a means to survive,” Manny recalled. “You taught us unconditional love. To give without expecting anything in return.”
A whisper of wind swept by Holly’s lips. “That’s right,” she agreed as she affectionately grabbed her husband’s arm.
“One,” Adon concluded with a smile.
“One,” they responded in kind.
“Now, how ‘bout supper?”

~

“One,” QR relayed to L3, who was below deck. He repeated the word with increased in volume.
L3 returned to the bridge. “And the significance?”
“There are three. But they act as one.”
“39.2 hours remain,” L3 stated dryly.

~

After Adon, Manny and Holly gathered around the breakfast table and repeated their activity from the previous morning – with hands embraced – they headed to their apiaries and crops – mostly corn, squash, and beans. Another long day of farming, repairs and tending to the livestock, ended in laughter around the supper table only to repeat their post-breakfast activity of talking to their author.
“What it is it?” Holly asked her husband who gazed off in the distance at the end of supper.
“Just wondering again. Are there others?”
Adon interjected. “One day – one hope.”

~

QR observed from the safety of their cloaked ship. It was keen to document the humans’ activities and conversations. Meals. Work. Disagreements. Recreation. Cooking. Gentleness. Arguments. Forgiveness. Hunting. Kindness. This mixture increased the curiosity of QR – albeit confusing. It turned to L3. “Regardless. They are one. Despite differences in daily expectations. They are one. It is contrary to the productive achievement by means of rational individualism. They are a mystery.” It paused. “It is contrary to our world.”
“We still have not determined how this valley is relatively flourishing while the remaining planet is dead or dying. A single ecosystem should not survive on its own,” L3 stated.
“It too is a mystery,” QR ascertained. “Not that I understand; you heard what the one called Adon said.”
“29.2 hours.” L3 reminded.

~

After Adon, Manny and Holly gathered around the breakfast table and repeated their activity from the previous morning – with hands embraced – they headed in a southern route. It was time for a fresh catch of fish to balance out their protein intake. Dreams of fried fish in bacon fat filled their imaginations and appetite. The three carried a fly rod each. Each had a pack equal in size. Each took turns at lead. A warm breeze kissed their cheeks and whistled through the tall green of their little paradise.

“Suggest we follow,” QR turned to L3.
“Negative.”“During repairs, I modified my personal cloak. With minimal detectable refraction. And if you prefer, my cloak is now functional while in motion.” QR built its case.
L3 seemed to stare in disapproval. “Demonstrate,” to which QR complied, “adequate,” It paused to check a few readings, “permission granted. But, if you are detected, immediately return to the ship.”
“Understood.”

~

“It’s the best spot!” Manny happily shouted. Adon and Holly were right behind him.
Holly pressed one more time. “But so soon after?”
“Don’t be – I’m not afraid.”
“He’s right. The bear is dead,” Before Adon finished his sentence, Manny’s fly floated on the surface with the precision of a dragon fly.
The therapeutic waters streamed through Manny to create a peace with which they shared. After a couple of hours Holly moved closer to him. “I miss Amalea,” She said. Manny dropped his eyebrows in a quizzical look. “Not the robot. The ‘person’ she was,” She pondered the river. “I know she was a machine, but – for a short while –,”
It was not an easy task to steal away Manny’s attention from fishing, but he turned to his wife. “I understand. But, she was programmed to have a personality. As subtle as it was.”
“Yes. But – and the finality of it all!” She peered into his eyes, seeing his response without his need for words. “I know. It seemed unreal.”
“We know what’s real,” he encouraged. They reconnected with the waters.
Holly relayed her thoughts to Adon as they hiked back. The afternoon sun followed them back to their home. They walked along the creek this time. A family of trees to their left with the powerful ridge of mountains off in the distance gazing down. A meadow to their right with a peaceful invitation. Another time.

~

“5.9 hours remain,” L3 reminded QR upon his return. “Your recalibration of the sensors provided success. I was able to complete much of the scans from this location. Remaining scans will take 74.1% less time than anticipated.”
QR had much to report but it knew L3 was intent on the mission. At any rate, its curiosity program was not to be ignored. And curiosities must be shared. “Listen to this recording,” QR pressed a button on his torso.
L3 copied the recording, compiled it with the data and conversations QR had relayed to it thus far. “I understand. But scans show they do not meet the genetic requirements.”
“Our creators met the genetic requirements. But our new world is about to destroy itself,” QR paused. “We ‘may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm’, even by its own hand.”
“And ‘how do you decide what is injurious, or not injurious, to humanity as a whole?’” L3 debated by verbatim. “We could injure by introducing their gene-pool.”
“Scans indicate the female is barren. Adon is elderly.”
“Our doctors could alleviate her condition and create an even larger problem. And what about the younger male?”
“Irrelevant,” QR returned to its original line of reasoning. “The rate of the population decrease is exponential. They will be extinct in nearly three generations,” it gathered data from L3’s closest monitor. “I suggest one more day. Then we complete the scans of the outer rim of this valley and the surrounding range.” It was persistent.
L3 visualized QR’s logic. “And then we leave.”
“And then we return to extract.”
“Extract?” L3 objected.
“Request,” QR paused. “I have a recording of the pages, but no one will listen to us.”
This argument continued for the next 3.68 seconds in transmission format only, which, if decoded for their creators would have been a lifetime.
“My previous postulation stands – sample versus large population. Besides, why would anyone leave this little paradise?” L3 continued to debate knowing its counterpart may be correct. “Nevertheless,” It paused, then provided QR with new orders. “Deactivate the cloak. Engage stealth, and move us toward the northeast range, farthest from our present location,” it paused. “I will be down below calculating the billions of probable outcomes to your proposal,” step by step, QR complied.

~

After Adon, Manny and Holly gathered around the breakfast table and repeated their activity from the previous morning – with hands embraced – they took to the front porch. Their minds and bodies screamed for rest after a long week. Heartbeats settled as they gazed in the direction of a small row of yellow roses. Their lazy day was spent with a short stroll, enjoying lunch together on the front porch, and reading and falling asleep in the pages of a book.

Ephesians 4:2-6

The next morning, a familiar voice was heard. “What is humility?” QR stood outside the back door as the three humans stepped down to the ground.
They were astonished to see it. “You came back!” Holly exclaimed.
QR asked a different question. “What is patience?”
“Where’s your – how did you put it? – your counterpart?”
Again QR was persistent with yet a different question. “What is the ‘unity of the Spirit’ from the third page?” It continued to question. “Will it work for many?
Adon immediately answered the last question with full confidence. “Yes. There’s nothing about it being exclusive. Unity is meant to be shared.”
From memory, Holly quoted her favorite portion. “… humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
QR stood in silence. “It is recorded,” it pointed at his metallic skull.
“It’s a machine. It’s not going to understand.” Adon took a step toward QR and smiled.
“But we observed how you interact,” it paused. “I am curious, since you place these words in greater importance, as evidenced by the frames, than the books below, it is logical to conclude they provide a sustainable foundation. You do not destroy each other. I see cause and effect. But ‘love’, I do not understand.”
Pity attempted to surface on their expressions – it was a machine they reminded themselves.
“But – the others might,” QR pointed to the sky.
“Enough standing ‘round. Chores can wait,” Adon motioned in the direction of the front porch as they walked around the house. “Others?” Adon asked as Holly took a seat on the swing. QR stood at the edge of the porch steps, with Manny and Adon on either side of the swing.
“Others like you,” QR responded.
“Like us!” Holly exclaimed.
QR explained. “We did not anticipate your presence on this planet. In fact, our scans indicate you are the last surviving humans.”
Holly gasped. Her voice trembled. “No one?” Tears took the path of least resistance down a small line in her cheek as Manny moved to sit by her side.
QR glanced at her but continued. “This planet was dying and could not sustain the enormous population. Records are not entirely accurate – it was a long time ago – but at some point a select group of your species sought out a new planet. L3 and I are here to determine if it is safe to return. However, it is determined terraforming is highly improbable; and this valley is the only habitable area – insufficient hectares to support the entire population of our planet.”
Adon asked. “You came to assess whether it was safe to return?”
“Affirmative. Our designers had hoped that nature would have restored itself.”
“How many?” Manny’s arm cradled his wife’s shoulder.
“At one point, eleven billion,” QR stopped when the humans responded in awe. “Now, less than a third,” the aforementioned pity was in full bloom.
“What happened?”
“History repeated itself. Self-achievement soon dominated the culture. Family units are a scarcity. Civil unrest and racial turbulence. Over-industrialization. Many philosophies and ideologies clashed, which resulted in conflict, chaos, and war. A cycle in your history. And although records are incomplete, this time the rate of self-annihilation is exponentially greater, resulting in irreparable damage to society and the planet.”
“Exponentially? What’s different?” Manny continued to ask.
“Before we left on this mission, we did not know. You have unity,” QR rotated its head as it maintained visual contact while it moved to the rail.
“Did these humans bring literature?” Adon asked as the sunrise lifted higher to become a spotlight.
“Yes. As well as music and art.”
“But they do not have the words on those pages,” Adon concluded as he pointed back at the house. “Words of life.”
“I have a complete library of all human literature stored in my memory files. Nothing like the pages on your wall exist,” QR’s voice nearly carried a sense of loss, at least vicariously.
“With such chaos, how did your mission get off the ground?”
“Robots consist of the majority of labor, including soldiers. I was once the latter.”
“But what about doing no harm?” Manny asked.
“L3 and I were reprogrammed,” It looked off toward the forest. Acknowledged. It transmitted to L3’s order in acknowledgement. “A small group of humans with the required means and skills secretly deployed the mission.”
“Your mission has changed,” Somehow Adon knew the direction of this conversation.
“Yes. There is a change of plans. Your three pages –.”
“You don’t just need to take the recording of the pages,” Adon progressed.
“No one will listen to two robots. The probability of –” QR stopped. “Humanity is in harm’s way – of itself. We must prevent its destruction.”
“Zeroth law,” Manny interjected. Before QR continued, Manny’s curiosity forced his next question. “Can you lie?”
“Negative,” it replied as a matter of fact. “But we can refrain from disclosing the truth for certain periods of time – if it serves the greater good.”
Manny was afraid to ask. “And who decides, or decided the greater –?”
QR answered before he completed the question. “The designers, of course. Present any inquiry and I will answer,” it paused. “In addition, during my reprogramming I was provided with an empowerment subroutine in order to make ethical decisions. It is why we are having this conversation now.”
“And L3?”
“Negative. Those who sent us did so in haste.”
Manny was deep in thought. They all had various musings which reflected on their faces. He asked solemnly. “There is no God. Is there?”
QR seemed to look bewildered by the slight turn of its head as if to take time for record retrieval. “No.”
“Imagine that,” Holly relayed with surprise and sadness.
Adon focused their full attention back to QR. “I don’t think we need to imagine,” QR held out its hand. A holographic display ignited upward. Adon, Manny, and Holly witnessed images of this new earth. It did not take long to recognize there were other humans out there; and sadness swept their faces at the disheartening images which confirmed QR’s previous account of death. Death in many forms. Manny wept.
“What’s the name of this new earth?” Adon inquired.
QR paused. It seemed almost embarrassed to respond. “Paradise.”
“How arrogant we can be,” Adon stated. After a brief thought he then added. “There is more to the three pages than ethics.”
QR seemed to express a blank look.
Adon added. “It’s more than a code of living,” he emphasized but wasn’t sure he should continue as he knew their robot friend wouldn’t understand.
“Please expand,” QR asked in order to accumulate more data.
“It’s a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe,” he paused and was pleased by the similar expression on the faces of Manny and Holly. “On the back of the third page we learn to be imitators of God, who is also Jesus and Spirit. Perfect unity in three. We believe this same God wants to share this unity with us.”
QR said nothing. “I understand the need for unity. Paradise once had common goals, which seemed to provide unity. It did not last long,” the robot paused with the intent to provide additional information. But it was not required.
Adon smiled at Manny and Holly, and then asked. “When do we leave?” Certainty filled his voice.
We cannot,” it returned in similar fashion.
“What do you mean?” Adon asked.
QR stated. “Our ship is designed for two robots. The designers only accommodated for a total of three – including one human. Fortunately, there was not time to remove the rations before we departed.”
Holly looked at Manny. She knew his face. She knew what he was about to say next.
“I will go!” Manny blurted without hesitation. He looked at the others. Holly was a pillar, but tears fell, nonetheless.
Her pain alleviated somewhat when QR added. “We are uncertain when we will return.”
“How long will it take? How far?” Adon asked.
“One Earth month. 3,000 light years,” QR answered.
“How?” Manny’s curiosity nearly exceeded the programming of QR.
“The Fold,” it gathered this answered was insufficient. “We fold space which gives the ability to travel great distances in a relatively short period of time. For this distance it takes multiple Folds. It is quite safe.”
“Safety is not my concern. The science is what fascinates me. I’ve only read about it in books,” Manny quickly returned his thoughts to the others. He then gazed at Adon and Holly, and the beautiful surroundings of trees and hills and mountains; he could hear the calming river behind the house. “Beauty.” He smiled. “Now I’ll be able to bring the ultimate beauty.”

~
 
Squaw Butte (Background) from Bogus Basin, Circa 22nd Century
While Manny packed, he looked at his flyrod, but decided against taking it with him. He finished when he safely tucked the three pages into his backpack. They all gathered around the ship. L3 stood at the top of the ramp. It observed the three humans. They huddled around each other with arms embraced over each shoulder. Adon prayed a simple prayer and asked the author of their faith, the God of the universe, to bless Manny. “Don’t worry about the three pages. We put them to memory.” He trembled as they released their hug. “Speak truth. Speak hope, my son.”
Holly threw her arms around her heart – her Manny – and kissed him. “I love you,” Manny responded in equal fashion.
“I will return,” Manny assured her. QR nodded in agreement.
QR escorted his guest up the ramp. They turned. Manny waved as the ship began to swallow up the ramp. Before the door closed Manny said to Adon and Holly as they smiled at one another. “Time to go fishing.”



Saturday, July 11, 2020

3 - a short story (Part 2 of 3)


3
Click here to read from the beginning.)

The two robots looked at the framed pages on the wall.
“From the middle page,” Amalea pointed.
“You’ve had a chance to read it,” Holly said.
“Yes. I read it just before you returned. What does it mean?”
L3 invaded the mind of QR. We must not overly engage these bipedals.
Understood. But, they have accepted us as one of their own kind. Would it not be prudent to discover and learn as much as we can? This statement is unknown to us. QR debated.
Proceed with caution. L3 ordered.
QR added. We can reference them as human.
Yes. But they are not our makers. L3 firmly transmitted.
Adon gently removed the framed page. “Manny is very handy,” He wrapped his hand over Manny’s shoulder. “In fact, he helped me whip this place back into shape. You should’ve seen it, what with all the leaks. Not much we can do about paint though,” He pointed to the opposite wall. “I found an old picture of the place. Not sure when it was taken,” The humans gazed it with affection. “Manny also built the barn and corral. And Holly has a way with horses and livestock,” He smiled. “They are definitely a blessing.”
Manny propped himself up to feel more included in the conversation. “You helped too you know,” he said humbly.
Holly diverted the topic momentarily. “You need to rest Manny,” she sat on the arm of the sofa and stroked his hair back. She added to continue the topic. “And we make sure to remember.”
Adon continued for Holly. “These two found me,” he smiled with a reminiscent sigh. “I nearly gave up on this world. Not my life mind you, but the world. I hadn’t seen a soul in ages,” He paused. “I forgot what it meant to love,” his voice trembled momentarily.
“Hate?” QR inquired.
Matthew 4:19
“Indifference. I stopped caring,” he regained his composure. “Then, I found these pages years ago, in an abandoned building which looked like a church at one time – just down the road. Heh, the only road in or out of this forgotten town,” Reminiscence covered his face. “Like the road – the pages were covered in dirt in the basement. The statement, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men’ is Manny’s favorite. That’s why he loves fishin’ so much,” Adon handed the frame with the words he just read to Amalea. “But there was no one left. I lost my family –.” Silence shadowed the room. “But I continued to read the other pages. And I discovered hope – ‘one hope’, from the third page,” he looked at a blurred Manny and Holly. “And then – and then.”

“And then we saw him. Sitting on the front porch swing,” Manny’s energy begun to grow. “That swing means a lot to us.”
“But it sways. Not like the words on these pages,” Holly added.
“They were children,” Adon said.
“We were not,” Manny interrupted.
“Young enough.”
“Young enough to need your help,” Holly continued.
“And tattered. Their clothes – you should have seen them! It was a no-brainer.”
“It was all heart,” Manny stated with affection. “The last people we encountered tried to kill us. We haven’t seen them since –” Manny appeared he wanted to forget.
Holly gladly interjected. “And eventually, Manny and I gave our hearts to each other. That is when Adon married us. He said he was once joined in the same way.”
“Over the years the most important lesson we learned from ‘greater love’ is not only is it a matter of a one-time sacrifice, but a daily sacrifice.”
Adon managed the conversation toward their guests. “Tell us, how have you survived?”
The holo-human robots looked at each other. They were not programmed to provide a cover story. Varick deflected the question back to them. “Among all the desolation, how have you three survived? How has this valley maintained an ecological balance on its own? It does not seem possible.”
Adon answered. “We don’t fully understand it either,” He smiled. “The springs north and also south of here provide water,” He pointed toward the river just beyond the back of the house. “From the southern springs the river turns westward. About eight miles downstream an old dam broke at some time.”
“Fascinating,” Varick stated dryly. “This assessment is incomplete. There must be further explanation.”
Adon added. “We believe the one with greater love has provided. And we are thankful for it every day,” a smile grew on his face.
L3 gave QR a blank stare. QR’s curiosity returned to the previous subject as its Amalea requested additional information, “The ‘sacrifice’ you reference, it is important?” Her tone shifted to urgency. “Please elaborate.”
Holly finished for Manny. “No other book teaches what we’ve learned from these three pages. Adon invited us to be a part of his life. To live here with him. That was nearly thirty years ago.”
“Who is the author?” QR asked.
Adon answered. “After careful study, although limited –”
“We believe it’s God,” Holly interrupted with enthusiasm.
Varick’s expression barely changed since they all first met. The holo-matrix of QR painted a Mona Lisa smile on Amalea’s face. Her curiosity into the social connection the humans had with the author triggered her next question. “Is there conflict?”
“What do you mean?” Manny asked.
“Among the three of you.”
“Of course.” He smiled. “But we learned,” He pointed at the framed pictures.
“Learned?” Amalea’s curiosity grew as she peered at the other frames. “What is printed on the other pages?”
“As you can see, we have a lot of books. Books which I collected —” Adon responded as he plucked a novel from one of the shelves, books which ranged from Asimov to Mellontas, Rand and Wells.”
Holly fondly recalled. “But none of them compare to these three pages.”
L3 swiveled its head to QR.
“So – you haven’t told us about yourselves yet. Tell us. How did you survive before coming here?” Manny asked with care.
“It is late. Amalea, we need to exit,” L3 stated with cold authority.
“You don’t mean to leave?” Holly exclaimed. “But it’s dark.”
Manny added. “After all you’ve done for me.”
“Yes. And you can’t travel at night,” Adon stated as he returned the framed pages to their home on the wall.
Varick turned his head toward Amalea. “We can manage.”
“Nonsense!” Holly stood with her arms wide.
QR looked to his leader for direction. L3 transmitted. I suppose if we depart under the circumstances it may arouse suspicion.
Amalea spoke up. “Your offer is appreciated. We accept.”
Between the three hosts, the robots gathered three separate responses. “Wonderful!”
“It is wise.”
“Will you need separate rooms?”
“One will suffice,” Varick responded.
“I’ll show you to your room,” Holly obliged. As she led them, QR stopped to complete his scan of the remaining framed pages.
“I will see you all in the morning!” Adon concluded as he headed out the back door in the direction of his home adjacent to the barn just a stone’s throw from the main house. Chickens clucked inside the barn as they had already settled in for the night among the few cows and the snoring pigs. A lone coyote howled off in the distance.

~

L3 and QR stood in the middle of a guest bedroom. Sparse decoration. Double bed. But the robots did not require anything the room offered other than privacy. The holo-matrix of QR began to flutter. Deactivate holo-human form. L3 ordered. You expended 22.7% more power than I. Power down. I will remain active. QR complied, and both of the robots became statues. Black, grey statues. The lights from QR turned off. L3 stared into the space that was the opposite wall.

~

The next morning L3 reactivated its holo-form. L3. We have a problem. L3 peered in QR’s direction. My holo-matrix will not activate.
Run a diagnostic.
I completed one twenty seconds ago. Power is insufficient. Remaining power diverted to primary systems.
Is your cloak functional?
Negative. But since the cloak only works when stationary, how will that help our predicament?
Scanner?
Negative. QR answered.
I also am experiencing a malfunction. I am limited to visual scanners. The haste of our superiors. L3 added.
“Breakfast is served!” They heard Holly enthusiastically shout from downstairs.
The humans cannot see you as you are. We need to begin the launch sequence. If a robot could be stressed, it appeared as an underlying tone.
Leave? QR inquired. But we have not completed our surveys.
We will complete our scans. But we did not anticipate our recent encounter with these bipedals.
I understand our mission parameters did not include an encounter with sentient life, but we cannot leave the humans. There is much to learn.
L3 emphasized the mission. Our first priority is to exit without the humans observing. We need to return to the ship for repairs. Suggestions?
Window. Exit.
Excellent. This room is located at the back of the house. The tree line is 50 meters from the house. We can reach it in 3.4 seconds. We will need to leap over the river. L3 opened the window. It viewed the surrounding area. All clear. L3 made its exit out the window first. It jumped from the roof and landed without incident, as if he had completed the maneuver a thousand times. L3 took one more scan and confirmed the all clear. QR mirrored its counterpart and was on the ground.
Suddenly they heard a scream sourced by the female inside the house.
“Adon!” Holly shouted.
QR looked at L3 for instructions. We cannot run now. We are identified.
Agreed.
Holly darted down the hallway and ran out the front door. “Adon!” Her voice cracked, as it ricocheted an echo off the surrounding butte and hills.
Manny wandered downstairs with a look of intense curiosity; he held his ribs as if to hold them in place. The screen creaked open. His first contact was much less dramatic than Holly’s. “I haven’t seen one like you for a long time. But you look different,” he stepped off the front porch to examine his new guest head-to-toe. “Where are you from?” Manny peered at the robot with a keener interest than before.
Before QR could respond Varick peered at it. Stand down.
By now, Adon trailed Holly’s dust as they ran around the side of the house. “What is it?” She trembled with finger raised at QR.
“Remember that warehouse I told you about? Before we met?” Manny asked Holly.
“Vaguely.”
“He’s an android or robot of some kind. There were hundreds of them in that old warehouse we found years ago – all deactivated,” he circled QR. “Are you programmed with the Three Laws?”
“Affirmative,” QR responded. It turned to L3 for approval. No response, but a blank stare.
“Then we have no worries,” Manny assured Holly. He redirected his attention to QR.
“Where did you come from?” Holly asked.
“Another important question is, ‘where is Amalea?’” Adon looked around the settlement.
QR pressed his metallic gaze in the direction of its leader. There is a 0.12 probability they will believe we were designed on this planet.
It appears we are out of options. Proceed. L3 indicated reluctantly as its vocal processors would allow.
“Do not be alarmed.” QR held its exo-hand to its torso unit. “I am Amalea.” It paused for a reaction. “It means ‘curious’.”
“But how?” Holly was dumfounded. The morning sunrise grew higher as did their own curiosity.
At that moment Varick deactivated its holo-matrix. Holly gasped for air. Manny steadied her, gulped then stammered. “You are definitely not from that warehouse.”
QR appeared stunned at its counterparts action.
“Affirmative,” L3 replied. Black and grey, the robots stood naked.
“Then, where – who?” Adon stuttered. His expression was quizzical, but he could not bring himself to ask the question truly on his mind.
QR launched its finger toward the sky. Everyone other than L3 peered up in a combination of amazement, disbelief, and astonishment. “I am designated as QR-15. And this is my counterpart –”
L3 was abrupt. “We must depart.” What felt like a hurricane swept through the settlement sourced by the robot’s ship as it landed in a nearby clearing.
No. Not yet. QR quickly swiveled his cranial unit at its leader.
Once our survey of this region is complete, we will return to our superiors. L3 commanded.
But there are important cultural questions which need answers. QR’s programming instructed him to obey orders, but that seemed to conflict with its inquisitive functions.
“Board the ship,” Switch to manual. We depart. L3 was about as cold as the water Manny fell into the day before. QR complied.
A visual scan of the humans from left to right, and L3 stated. “Good-bye,” It marched over to the ship and boarded. Doors closed. Adon, Manny, and Holly stood with their mouths open as the ship disappeared into wonder.
Manny was the first to break the unified trance. “Wait. If they are programmed with the Three Laws and they speak English –.” He gulped. “— and they are not from here, do you know what that means?”

Adon had the answer on the tip of his tongue, and Holly was right behind him. “It means that humans created them.” He looked toward the sky once again. “There are humans out there.”

~

(Click here to read Part 3 of 3, posted July 21, 2020)

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

3 - a short story (Part 1 of 3)


3


“Three”
“Are you certain? That should not be.”
“The adverse conditions of this planet do not seem to be as extensive as previously recorded by the remote ship,” the one with the designation printed on its cranial unit, QR-15 responded to the other unit, L3-DR.
“And that ship had limited equipment which resulted in an incomplete assessment,” L3 paused and swiveled toward the spherical hologram which emanated from the floor. “It may be a small planet, but to be thorough, perhaps you should complete a sensor diagnostic,” nearby monitors reflected off its obsidian semi-exoskeleton frame and chassis.
“Acknowledged,” after a short interval, the matte granite grey QR stated succinctly, “Diagnostic complete. All systems operating within normal parameters. Shall I complete a second scan?”
“Please do,” confirmed L3 while peering out the window toward the blue planet below. QR mirrored its counterpart as the sphere reflected off their visual sensors – a narrow strip which stretched horizontally from one side of their respective cranial units to the other.
“Scan complete,” announced the ship’s computer.
QR turned toward its monitor and relayed the analysis. “Negative active industry. Negative global communication systems. Similar to the eastern and southern hemispheres, minimal to little vegetation. Scanning for lifeforms,” it paused. QR continued its scans and adjusted its cranial unit to move closer to the screen. “Vegetation present. Unlike the rest of the planet, a valley contains active geothermal activity. Surrounding topography is mountainous”
“Lifeforms?”
“Confirmed. Three bipedal lifeforms – within proximity to one another. Numerous quadrupeds of various sizes scattered throughout the region – 81 point –” it abruptly paused.
L3 turned, “Troubleshoot.”
“The readings are not precise. Approximately 81% are located in the surrounding hills and trees and mountains. Their erratic movement is cause for the incomplete measurement.”
“Move the ship into low orbit and prepare for landing,” L3 instructed. “A safe distance from the three bipeds. The butte to the west is ideal. It is strategic for observation,” it scanned its data for a more precise location, then pointed at a monitor to catch QR’s attention. “Land, 44.0327° N, 116.4121° W.”
QR performed the necessary functions as the ship broke orbit.
During their initial descent, they were able to conduct more detailed analyses. L3 monitored its instruments. “There are higher levels of O2 compared to other regions. What do your readings indicate?”
“Aside from the increased quantities of vegetation relative to the surrounding regions –” it paused until its instruments could detect more information. “A river flowing to the west – its source flowing from the north.”
L3 looked at his counterpart. “That partly explains the existence of biologicals in this region,” QR returned the gaze of its counterpart. “Expand your search —"
“We are entering the atmosphere, disrupting sensors,” QR interrupted.
“Acknowledged.”
QR was flawless. The ship landed without incident.

Upon exiting their craft, the two metallic bipedal machines carried various equipment attached to the back of their respective torso units down a narrow ramp. QR’s feet took the first step of its kind onto the soil of the alien world. According to QR’s readings, one of the three bipedal biologicals was a safe distance away from their landing point. Eleven point three-eight kilometers to be exact. The other two were a bit further to the south. The ship closed its doors as they continued to monitor their surroundings. “Activate the ship’s cloak, L3 instructed. The range of mountains north-by-northwest and 900 meters greater in elevation from the valley floor was the perfect vantage point to observe the three bi-pedal bios. Although their distance from the valley floor was too great for the human eye to detect their location, there was a small cave for the two robots to store their equipment and engage the rock formation hologram for camouflage just in case the bi-pedals had visually enhanced equipment of their own. “Observation equipment activated,” confirmed QR upon L3’s command.
“This discovery will delay our original mission parameters.” L3 stated to its counterpart. “Time economy is of the essence.”

By dusk the three biologicals were gathered around a heat source – they had built a fire. Two males. One female. There were two structures nearby – worn and modified – and a few others in the valley. After a couple of hours they stood and embraced one another. Two entered one structure, while the third entered the adjacent structure. The two machines observed no activity for the next two hours. “As anticipated. They are in sleep mode,” QR transmitted to L3. “Return to the ship and engaged the active scanners,” L3 ordered.
“Acknowledged.” Complied QR.
L3 finished, “Power down.”

The next morning, the two bi-pedal machines no longer appeared as such. “Engage holographic camouflage (HC),” L3 ordered, and the robots projected skin and hair and clothing to appear like the biologicals. L3 appeared male, and QR female. Each with semi-worn clothing and backpacks. The latter to camouflage their respective equipment mounted on their backs.
“Activating female voice protocol,” QR said in its new voice.
“Activate the Cranial Transmission Function (CTF),” L3 commanded.
Testing. QR responded without the use of its vocal unit.
L3 nodded in response. Confirmed. One of the biologicals was unaccounted for, so the two robots remained in HC and CTF mode as they traversed their way down the mountain. The hike was a simple matter, but they added a zig-zag pattern to their trek. In short time they reached the perimeter of the biologicals’ settlement. They peered up toward a small knoll and utilized the surrounding foliage and trees to avoid visual contact with the bios. Alter holographic camouflage to match the surrounding landscape. Commanded L3. They positioned themselves on the southwest corner of their settlement just inside the tree line on the eastside on the stream. The two seemed to disappear as they remained motionless to observe the biologicals.
Soon, the female approached their position. She was less than two meters in height with golden hair. It appeared she was headed directly at them until she stopped and turned to motion to one of the males – who was greater than two meters in height. “I believe Manny was due back an hour ago!” She shouted.
“You’re right,” replied the male as he mirrored her tracks to her position. Both of them stood next to the robots and gazed in a direction 10 degrees off L3’s left shoulder. The male pulled out a visual enhancing device and peered toward the southwest and rotated 180 degrees to his right, then completed the rotation.
“Do you see him?” Holly asked as steady in tone as she could. “I don’t know why he can’t just fish here,” she pointed at the river behind the house. 
Circa 21st Century

“Don’t worry,” Adon replied, but with a hint of concern. “I don’t see him Holly,” he swiveled to gaze down the valley toward the south. “Nothing. But he could be beyond the hills,” he tried not to look concerned. “Come on,” he motioned toward the house. Adon sunk into the porch bench, while Holly stood at the top of the stairs.
“We need to go after him,” she implored, with a singular foot set as if the top step was a starting block.
Just as quickly as he sat, he returned to a stance to embrace. Adon’s face was filled with lines that read like a history book, with peppered wiry hair and coffee complexion.
“Higher ground. Pack lightly,” holly was pleased with the plan as she entered through the front door. They both chucked small packs over their shoulders, then headed out the back door and marched passed the disguised robots.

~

Manny stood like a bear with his grizzly beard. He scanned the current of the river in order to read it like a book – its eddies and ripples and anything it might speak. He cast his line and hit his target – a small pool just to the left of a boulder in the river. Nothing. He made the attempt again. And again. His smile never faded. How could he let it among the trees which lined the soothing flow of the river. Finally, the fly disappeared under the water and in a split second a large trout sprung from the surface. This one was a fighter. As skilled as he was at this pastime he learned from his now deceased padre, minutes later he had his prize – and lunch. His papa would have been proud. Although today this catch was dinner as he lost track of time in the heat of the hunt and the beauty of the valley.
“What was that?” Manny heard a rustle. He swiveled quickly to his right and there it was. A beast two feet taller than Manny. He stood toe-to-toe with it. As if instinct pushed him into the river, he fell backwards, and the current carried him downstream. He bobbed up and down as he twisted and turned in the current, then caught a glimpse of the beast as it charged down the riverbank. Disbelief. Not at the beast. But at the two people. They were not Adon and Holly. Manny shouted. “Look out!” The beast charged toward their position. The man quickly took cover behind a boulder while the woman stood her ground and motioned as if to pull a weapon.
The man shouted, “No!” The woman pulled her hand out absent of the weapon. She dodged the beast, but it managed to knock her down. Manny struggled to reach the riverbank as he pulled out his hunting knife. The beast unleashed its claws in the woman’s direction. Manny leaped toward the beast with his weapon arched behind his head. As he landed on the beast’s shoulders he thrust the knife into the back of its neck. With a ground shattering growl, the beast swiveled. Manny was tossed into the air with the blur of ground and sun and tree and rock and beast. The beast, injured, let out a thunderous roar which echoed across the valley; and directed its rage toward Manny, its target chosen as it leaped onto him. Its dinner plate sized paw swiped at his shoulder. But instead, the beast howled in anger, and then in pain. Manny managed to thrust his knife into the beast’s heart. It breathed its last as the weight of the beast nearly crushed Manny as it fell upon him. The sun above him faded as his eyes closed.
The woman rushed toward Manny. “He has a pulse, QR stated to L3 who emerged from its seclusion. L3 stood next to QR. The two robots looked at the other.
Assess his condition. L3 ordered. And maintain HC and CTF. QR pulled out a device from his pack and waived it over Manny’s limp body.
He has minor fractures to three ribs, various contusions, and a minor concussion. Injuries are not life threatening. QR reported.
We must depart.
QR objected. He needs medical attention – which we can give him.
Destroy the creature, then we depart. We must not be identified by the others.
The rebuttal from QR was as calculated as his landing. They both looked down at Manny. He is vulnerable to the elements and possibly other predators.
L3 provided its counterpart with new calculated instructions. The other two are searching for this one. We will take him to his settlement, attend to his injuries, and leave him there.
Suddenly, the two robots heard a rustle and a twig snap. L3 looked at QR. Two quadruped lifeforms approach from the northeast. 400 meters. It pointed in the direction he referenced. Immediately, QR picked up Manny. Weapons?
Negative. Place the human on your back and alter the holo-matrix to resemble the beast. I will do the same. The bear-like holo-matrix enveloped Manny’s limp body. They quickened their pace and assumed a semi-zig-zag pattern which caused their path to cross what appeared to be an old road. Time had nearly eaten a rusty old sign fallen from its post.  QR captured an image of the following letters: WELC-M, SWE-T, ID-H. Within three kilometers they approached the humans’ settlement and reengaged the human holo-matrix. 

Circa 21st Century
After the robots placed Manny next to the fireplace, QR built a fire. They attended to his injuries. QR looked around the primitive room of the weathered house. They stood at the edge of the family room ready for a quick exit down the hallway which led to the kitchen and the back door as they waited for him to regain consciousness. A short while passed. L3. QR pointed at a bookshelf. Are you able to identify these objects? They both examined rows of books. Above the bookshelf were three frames with enclosed three torn pages. Image capture, we need to exit soon. L3 ordered.

Scan of one page complete.
QR reported.
Time for our departure. L3 commanded. QR did not have time to scan the other two pages.

Before Manny woke, a gentle breeze from the open front window kissed his face. From a distance, Holly picked up the pace with Adon in tow. “Smoke rises!” She bellowed as the house exhaled a puff of smoke. Finally, the masters of the house returned.
The two robots traversed the hallway into the mud room.
Purple filled the sky above as twilight blanketed the valley. With his ribs bound and a blanket draped over him, Manny began to wake. Holly busted through the front door. “He’s home!” The house came to life again as Holly embraced and kissed him. Manny moaned and winced in pain. In her excitement she had not seen the bandage around his torso. “What happened?” She gasped when she realized he was injured.
“You okay son?” Adon’s voice lowered with care.
“Been worse off,” Manny said in way to remind Holly.
The two robots, still in holo-human form, utilized the reunion’s commotion to make their exit out the back door. The screen door creaked as they stepped down to the earth once again. Adon's smile was interrupted, “What’s that?” he leaned his body around the corner which led down the hallway. Faint shadows caught his eye. His protective natured ordered him to investigate. “Excuse me.”
“What is it?” Holly asked as Adon held his index finger to his lips to request silence.
By now, it was too late for the intruders. “Holly!” He hollered. Adon stood at the top of the backdoor step. “Stop!” The robots froze. They turned and gazed up at Adon. Neither party took the next action. Adon’s face reflected shock. But these were people. Humans. Other humans. Finally, he broke the silence “But – how –?” He muttered.
But how? QR mimicked to its counterpart. Sensors were focused on the other two.
Nonetheless –.
“Greetings.” QR directed its attention to the biological.
QR! L3 transmitted.
“Greetings,” Adon repeated with trepidation as if he broke each letter into a syllable. Crickets filled the night air.
“Adon? – People!” She paused in equal disbelief. “Where are your manners? Aren’t you going to invite our guests inside?” Said the one gifted with hospitality. L3 stood like a statue. QR mimicked the smile on Holly’s face.
“Where are you from? When did you get here?” Adon asked.
QR broke the silence. “We saw your settlement as we passed earlier today.”
Holly interjected, “Well, why didn’t you –?”
“We did not want to trespass, as indicated by the sign,” QR relayed.
“What! That old rusty piece of history?” Holly replied as she smiled while she grabbed her hair to bind it in a ponytail.
“She’s right,” Adon confirmed. “We haven’t had the need for signs like that one for ages,” he paused as he tugged upward on the suspenders of his blue overalls, which appeared to have received several repairs over the years.
“A large creature attacked –” L3 began to report.
“Bear,” Manny interjected.
“And you rescued Manny?” Holly exclaimed.
QR looked at Holly. “On the contrary. He destroyed the creature but was injured in the process. Logically, it seemed he resides at this dwelling.”
“Bear?” Adon repeated Manny. “Curious. If they come down to the valley it’s usually upstream,” He pointed in the direction of the river behind the house.
Holly returned to Manny’s condition. “And you saw to his wounds.” Holly was just beside herself. “Thank you!” She stopped to catch her breath. “Well, I’m Holly and I guess you gathered this is Adon, and Manny is inside,” she shook in excitement. “And what are your names?”
QR looked at L3 for direction. Our designations are inadequate.
L3 agreed. Searching database for relevant names. “My name is Varick, and my counterpart,” he corrected himself, “companion is – Amalea.”
I suppose I am curious. QR transmitted to L3 with a glance.
Adon fed more off of Holly’s welcoming tone, “Welcome to our little valley and our home, Varick and Amalea,” he motioned for everyone to enter the house.
QR transmitted to L3, Lead on.

~

John 15: 13-14a

“We can’t thank you enough for taking care of Manny,” Adon’s enthusiasm equaled Manny’s smile for his heroes.
“Have a seat. You must be thirsty! May I get you something to drink?” Holly asked their guests as they gathered around Manny.
“Drink?” Amalea wondered.
Varick interjected, “Nothing for us – thank you.”
Adon continued. “It seems he’ll make a full recovery in no time.”
“Not too soon,” Holly’s concern dominated the room. Manny smiled again.
Amalea scanned the room. The same room with the framed pages. “I am curious,” He started as he circled his attention to Manny. “Why would you risk your life to save a stranger?”

Manny looked up at Amalea. Adon responded. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his – or her – life for his friends,” Manny pondered the light from the lamp on the end table as it dispelled shadow. Finally, their new guests sat down.

~

(Click here to read Part 2 of 3, posted July 11, 2020)