(Copyright David Anthony Kearns. All rights reserved. Not for commercial republication in any form.)
Dec. 13, 2014 Newnan, Georgia - Awbrey Strothers crossed his legs on the coffee table watching the dregs of a CNN report. He hissed like a snake on the inhale, and then let the pot smoke pop out of his mouth in pleasant little O rings that followed each other toward the breeze coming from the screen door.
This is fuckin’ juvenile, he thought. I can’t believe I’m doing this.
The weed was his cousin Donny’s, left in a little baggie on the table. This was Donny’s house, in fact, in Newnan, Georgia. The dwelling was a long, singlewide that was stilted on the down-slope of a modest declivity surrounded by skinny pines and brown, soggy needles, way out in the middle of Bum Fuck Egypt.
Donny was a lawn guy, and he wasn’t here just now. Good thing. Donny, also, didn’t lock up, never did anymore. It was the sort of lapse that was so very Donny in nature: Donny-logic. See if he locked up, he’d have to remember his keys when he returned from his Donny-doings, and he might not remember, to remember the keys, on said doings, and he would get pissed and bust things.
Donny routinely started his yellow Ford F-150 with a screwdriver he had jammed into the ignition when the convolution of the keys – losing, finding, making new ones over at Wal-Mart and the losing those - had reverberated so much, one day in a rage he just ripped the bolt tumbler out and sort of jury rigged it. It was also, so very Donny of him.
Hard to believe Donny was not only kin to Awbrey, but represented the state-of- the-art in the human species. Hell, Donny was thriving! Had him a business; had him a nice girlfriend who didn’t mind him having to spend so much on child support; had him a hot-tub on the back porch. Even had him a little Shetland sheep collie in that little doghouse beneath the rabbit hutch that never once tried to run away on him, likely out of pure terror.
And then ladies and gentlemen, we have X, thought Awbrey.
X was out sitting on the hood of Awbrey’s mindnight blue Chevelle Malibu, circa 1971, mint condition. Yes, with the white racing stripes and the Bridgestone with raised white letters.
And why did X insist on doing that? Well, owing to the peculiarities of all that is X, he was presently sniffing the air; said he could pick up ‘man-sign’ that way like a bloodhound.
“X, get off the damned car and get in here. You’ll scare folks who drive by!” Awbrey hollered through the screen door.
“Ain’t nobody coming,” X said in his nasal, high-pitched whine. Liked to make dogs seek cover the way he sort of yowled everything, thought Awbrey. Sounded like a little girl crying in homeroom when she discovers her menstruation.
It was amazing how fast X had picked up southern vernacular in the space of a few days. Had all the inflections, and the drawl just right.
“Cash Cab reruns on?” X whined.
“No, Cash Cab ain’t on, X,” Awbrey said.
“Damn, I like that show,” X said.
Satisfied for the moment that man-sign content of the air particles was minimal, apart from that coming from Awbrey, X rolled off the hood, wandered in and wiped his bare feet on the welcome mat, then padded instinctively into the kitchen. It was sad the way his jeans hung down in bunches near those spastically articulated toes of his but he just wasn’t built like your standard man. Top half of him was sort of regular, but the legs were bent, and sized at about half scale.
“This place got any beer,” he asked, checking the fridge. “Yes! Touchdown!”
“Hell, son, they about turned you into an alckie down there didn’t they,” Awbrey said.
“So what if they did,” X said, and that was precisely the same sort of thing Donny would say, in that same defeated, downbeat tone, although an octave lower.
See, that was another weird thing about X; he somehow picked up on the psychic vibrations of a place, right from the get go, like he could feel the presence of anyone who had ever been there. Mostly it was just Donny in this room, so X had just channeled him without even knowing.
X - you had to hand it to him. The guy was a hoot to have around. Funnier ‘n hell, if you took away the circumstances, thought Awbrey.
“Didn’t we just shave your feet this morning,” Awbrey said trying not to offend. X was also very sensitive.
X sat on the couch, and slurped his Budweiser ignoring the jibe for now.
“CNN’s for shit anymore. It’s six o’clock, why not turn on CNBC?” X said.
“It’s not like you got any investments, man, do you?” Awbrey said.
X ignored that jibe too. “Gimme a hit of that. You’re obviously a mean-assed stoner who’s had way too much.”
“They give you pot in there, too?” Awbrey asked.
“There’s a lot you don’t know, about me. A lot,” X said taking the roach and toking it like a pro. Unfortunately this ruse had its limitations. X possessed virgin lungs. He exploded in a coughing jag ending in a teary-eyed gasp.
“Yep, that’s just how they do it in the movies, X. You did everything right, right up to the point where you couldn’t hold it in.”
X smiled. For some reason that was funny.
“No Y-fi in here either I suppose,” X said, and now in pot-speak, he sounded like a kid on helium.
“Donny ain’t exactly a high tech sort of guy, X. Sorry. No Y-Fi, no Tivo, no Smartlife” Awbrey said with a big grin which broke into a chuckle followed by a cough.
“Donny and Smartlife; the thought thereof. Do the math.”
“Ain’t a genius, is he,” X said.
“Who do you have to G-mail anyway?”
“Nunyo Damn Bidness?”
“Precisely the fellow,” X said toking again.
“Careful X. It’s creeper. It Creeps up on you like man-sign.”
X watched a lot of movies. Since his cloning, this was practically the only activity he had been permitted, apart from reading and indoor soccer in the company gymnasium.
They cordoned off the gym, only top brass of the contractor Camerdyne Systems Inc., and Air Force personnel who had been cleared, would get to watch the games. X took them on three and four at a time, and always won. What a reality show you could make, thought Awbrey: indoor soccer with a cave man.
They wouldn’t let him build a skateboard ramp. He had no use for basketball, hated it. He was built too low to the ground for that. But give him an indoor soccer ball and a couple of goals and he ruled that thing.
X got a lot of what he said piped in to him from a local cable television station.
Georgia cable was different from Florida cable, but he knew the basics of all American dialects and even a little Spanish by now. He said television had a suicidal effect on him but, the meds helped him sort it all out and keep his perspective; his X-y bead on things, as it were.
He also wanted this agreed upon right up front, that he looked nothing like the guys in the old Geico commercials, when in fact, he did, only a little shorter, and with a longer nose, and a barrel chest, and these ears that kind of, peeked out at you from the sides of his head. There was also the smell, Le ode du Ex, to consider, which Awbrey never mentioned.
Even the name X came from popular culture, during just another boring-ass day answering questions, taking tests and watching movies, when he had done with the tests in about half the time it took for the smartest homo sapiens to complete them.
And when they had given him all of it, everything they knew about him and where he came from, the whole story start to finish he listened quietly, politely and said “Okay, I’ll call myself X. “
And they said; “that’s crazy. Why?”
And he said; “I was inspired in the way Malcolm X chose his last name to represent the unknown variable, the slave name that no longer exists”
And then they said, “You can’t do that.”
And he said; “The fuck I can’t! My name is Xavier. X for short.”
And they couldn’t argue so they said “ok.”
And they found out his mind was like a ravenous beast. He devoured the internet and all its many applications from porn to tweet, in a number of days as though no more difficult to swallow than a sloppy pile of whipped potatoes. Thank you can I have more?
X got bored fooling with that until he discovered online trading. He made calls for some of the guys at the Camerdyne plant, then bam, the hero was given indulgencies, like Budweiser. Then he discovered sports betting, and bam again - he damned near had groupies on staff working for him. They were practically naming buildings after him.
You need anything X? Anything we can get you?
At one point a hooker had even been bribed with a whole shit-load of money, and given a blindfold. It was whispered that X wasn’t too keen on bestiality at first, but he sampled the merchandise all the same. Nothing else to do; the reverse on the whole Planet of the Apes deal. And yes, Awbrey and X even talked about that movie during one of their many recent sessions.
“Chuck Heston must have been gay, dude. I saw that movie! He should have gone after that female?”
“You mean Mrs. Cornelius?” Awbrey had winced.
“She was fine!” X said with a laugh. “But the rubber teeth would have gotten in the way!”
X what a goof.
Again, this all would be humorous were it not for the reason he had been cloned in the first place, and why it was kept so secret.
“So Unc!” X said suddenly.
And yeah, they had bonded so well, he thought of Awbrey as his uncle, a crazy uncle, at that.
“Explain me this Christianity business again, as you see it.”
“Dude, I am way too tired and too stoned now for that conversation. We have to make a plan. We ain’t got time…”
“But you always mention it in your books!”
“Which ones have you actually read, and I mean, all the way through, X?”
“Well, I thought the character of Priscilla in White Lion of Stone Mountain was somewhat two-dimensional,” he quipped.
“Nice try, ace. The books, not Kirkus review off the web,” Awbrey said.
“Alright, I haven’t read any of them,” X said.
“You read just about everything else in there, why not me?”
“They wouldn’t let me. They knew you and I would meet,” he said.
“No shit,” Awbrey said to this. This fact, if true, was amazing; it was a window on the convoluted rationalizations, the tweaked and perverted reasoning of the contractor/government cabal.
“They really said you can’t read my books just because we were going to meet?”
“Honest engine. Thought it would screw something up,” he said.
“Well, we screwed up anyway, didn’t we?”
“Sure did,” X said as the commercial came on.
“And that stuff really happened?” X asked.
“You know, the Civil War and all that,” X asked.
X did this every now and again. He needed confirmation to decipher was actual history, and what was bullshit handed him by geneticists and anthropologists at the company. He knew that somewhere along the line, a great big chunk of it would wildly diverge, he just hadn’t found out what part of history was bullshit yet. Maybe all of it was.
“Hell yeah, it happened,” Awbrey said turning to look into the boy’s eyes. He wanted him to know it was true, real truth, true-true, no bullshit and he didn’t want to be tormented with a bunch of “really?’s”.
X just shook his head; “and they knew that blacks were human beings and they wanted to keep slavery going?”
“Fuckin’ A they did,” Awbrey said.
“It just don’t make sense, Unc.”
“Tell me about it. We are a fucked up species, my friend.”
“Look,” Awbrey said tossing the Nerf football into a laundry basket by the television. “We can’t stay here too long, X. Donny’ll be home and he ain’t put together too well, mentally. He’ll have some kind of conniption fit if he lays eyes on you. This was quick little place to recharge but we need to beat feet.”
“Yeah, man-sign, big-time! I’m surprised we haven’t seen anything on CNN,” Awbrey said.
“Unc, think about it, what would they say? What would they tell reporters? I mean, look at me!”
“You got a point, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there looking,” Awbrey said.
After they had taken their respective leaks and checked for shedding on the floor, they shuffled out to the Malibu.
“Wear the hat!” Awbrey said as they jumped in.
“I hate the hat,” X said to this, but put it on just the same, a nice red and white Braves rally cap.
Nothing wrong here officer, just an extremely ugly hobo down on his luck being given a lift; a gnome with a Braves cap on. Nothing out of the ordinary and sundry.
“I can hear, Unc. It hurts sometimes what you think.”
“Sorry, man,” said Awbrey.
“You realize of course, we have to get rid of this car, Unc.” He said this somewhere south of the Georgia - North Carolina line.
“Awe, man we can’t get rid of The Bird! What would make you say such a heinous thing?” Awbrey said.
“Sat coverage on the east coast is good, down to the half hour, something flies over, takes a picture, every twenty-nine minutes at least. That’s a conservative guess,” X said. He was a wealth of information.
“How did you know how to disable the tracking device?” Awbrey asked.
X was almost asleep when he answered; “It was in your Smartlife System. GPS tracks you. You don’t realize how many little unanswered emails are being sent and received with that thing. One to your home, one to them, all through your ISP, one from your home to them when you start to move. The whole thing had to go, man. Simple. I ripped the whole thing out. But, they got sats and they have a vector,” he said.
“We’d be trapped on a peninsula called Florida. Had to head north. Makes sense. You weren’t going to try to get me a fake passport were you, leave on a cruise ship out of Miami or Canaveral? I get a big picture of that happening, and so do they. Had to be north. Then it’s just a question of routes. I-95, I-75 corridors. I’m actually surprised we made it this far in this damned thing. Racing stripes, who does that anymore?”
“Hey turd brain, this is a classic automobile,” Awbrey said.
“Classic red-neck mobile, you mean,” X said to this.
“Fuckin-A right, buddy!”
“Think Unc. If we’re going to make it all the way to D.C. we have to have a less conspicuous ride and you know it,” X said.
And he was right. Awbrey just hadn’t figured out a way to swap out yet that made any sense.
“So, explain to me how they approached you again,” X said.
“Two years ago, nearly to the day, I’m on my lonesome in my big ole house in Dalonega. And Carol…”
“That’s your wife,” X said.
“Ex-wife, yeah. Carol has gone. I’m suffering a wicked case of writer’s block..”
“This was after Purple Mountain was published?”
“Right, but I hadn’t written a damn thing in nearly a year. My agent calls me out of the blue and said a government contractor wants to offer me a million dollars to work for them, for a year,” he said.
“This was Camerdyne,” X said.
“No, they used a cut-out at first, and by now you know, Camerdyne is a cut-out for NSA or DARPA or someone like that, working through the Air Force,” Awbrey said.
“Cut outs, for cut-outs, for road-signs for bill-boards…” X said.
“Guy behind the guy, kinda shit. A Chinese puzzle with no end,” Awbrey said.
“Alright, why you?” X asked.
“I got my degree in history and anthropology from GSU. I’m an award-winning southern writer, and a Pulitzer candidate,” Awbrey said.
“Yeah but why you?”
“They said it had something to do with my theories on military strategy. Then they said it had to do with my theories on quantum phenomena and the occult, in which, my background is pretty extensive,” Awbrey said.
“But you don’t believe that,” X said.
“I’m wondering now, if maybe project BACKROADS was just looking for another Oswald,” Awbrey answered.
“You aren’t looking to kill the president, are you?”
“No but I am driving around with a cave man in my car,” Awbrey said.
“Cave boy, you mean. I’m thirteen. And Unc, as you know, cave men, as they are called in the parlance, are actually homo sapiens, although I’m not so sure about the sapiens end of the Latin. I think Linneaus got that part wrong. I am a proud member of the homo neanderthal branch of the human family tree,” he said.
“And what would they need a patsy for anyway?”
“I haven’t figured that out yet but it did seem awful easy to get your sorry ass out of that facility,” Awbrey said.
“ I think that is just your rabid paranoia at work again heightened by the recent use of a control substance. You need to take your medicine. It was like you said. You wanted to show me a real soccer field. They trusted you,” X said.
“So, did they tell you how they did it?” Awbrey asked.
“The cloning? Yeah, most of it. They were able to isolate DNA from a sample somewhere, somehow. They evacuated the nucleus of a gorilla embryo, injected my DNA. I was gestated inside a gorilla mother, and I came to term. Dolly the sheep primate style,” he said.
“What I can’t figure out is where they got Neander DNA,” X said.
“I know,” Awbrey said. “Your DNA was found inside vacuum frozen glass tubes in a sealed titanium vault, inside a cave. And that cave was found beneath a half a mile of ice in Antarctica,” Awbrey said.
“Well, that certainly would rewrite some history books,” X said.
“Science books, religious texts, all of it. You name it,” Awbrey added.
“What is BACKROADS?” X said.
“Top Secret government project to come up with a scenario for a hostile takeover of all we hold dear, free market capitalism, society etc. etc. etc.”
“They asked me to brainstorm it using everything I knew and I came to the conclusion that a web attack with viruses would be a starting point and I illustrated how,” Awbrey said.
“They said ‘think bigger we got that covered’ So back I marched out there into the world of research and I said, likely the Chinese or other communist block countries would side with a destructive element of the Jihadi movements, meanwhile a socialist block would be created consisting of Cuba, Venezuela and other Latin nations. Street gangs and the Jihadis would find common interest in our demise as a society. Look for demonstrations so forth escalating in the US and US-backed Latin nations and their connections with the Chinese.
“Then it occurred to me that all this economic activity with China was just a ruse. That they opened their capital markets to us with the deliberate intention of attempting to crash the stock markets and all world markets at a later date, when all of this unrest was taking place,” Awbrey said.
“Does it hurt being you? What did they say?”
“They said ‘hell we know all about that already, think bigger!’”
“Then things got weird,” Awbrey said.
“Then we met,” X said with a laugh.
“No, not yet. First they showed me a film about Hernando Cortez and I had already done some research on him, how he conquered Mexico. Then they brought an Air Force guy in to speak with me. I wasn’t supposed to look into his eyes or address him by name. I think he was Air Force anyway. He went by the name of Glen.”
“What was his deal?”
“Somehow they had a discarded pill bottle from my trash and I hadn’t admitted during my polygraphs that I took anti-depressants. He said it was a federal crime and I was to be given new polygraphs later. But then he said to me ‘Mr. Strothers, what would happen to you if you stopped taking this for a week?’ and I said; ‘Hell I’d probably nut out’”
“What did he say?”
“Aw, he just nodded, then in marched another guy with a brief case full of different meds, pain pills, dick-straighteners, downers for the spastic, sero-pops for the schitzos, all kinds of shit that was prescription. And then he says, ‘Mr. Strothers what would happen to society, if all the sudden, all this crap wasn’t available on the open market?’ and I said ‘Hell, we’d all probably nut out’”
“What did Glen say to this?”
“He said ‘Mr Strothers, do you see where we are going with this?’ and I said, ‘No, not exactly’ and he said, ‘we hired you to bring yourself up to speed and you’ve done that. But we didn’t hire you for your prowess as a computer wiz or as a military strategist. We have people who can do that. We hired you for your ability to think laterally and in four dimensions, as exemplified in your background, and your ability at structure in novel writing.’”
“Nice compliment,” X said. “Then what?”
“He says, ‘I give you a week to think on it, on top of which, ask yourself what would happen if all the world, were suddenly controlled by one central authority?’”
“I come back in and I am utterly clueless so, they gave me a clue,” Awbrey said.
“In walks an archeologist, nice looking dame, but all business. She takes out some artifacts, bones carved with handles used for fire making, spear heads, a piece of wood obviously used for sowing seeds,” Awbrey said.
“Well the funny thing about them is, they were are per-mineralized, you know? Petrified. They had been in the earth more than half a million years and they had turned to stone. Wasn’t supposed to be. She says, ‘these were uncovered in the desert in New Mexico,’” Awbrey said with an exhale. X could tell this part made him nervous.
“Homeboy, sapiens didn’t fully genetically evolve until 60,000 years ago, the Human Genome project pretty much proved it. So, it’s likely these were tools your folks had made, X, and there was more. It turns out there was much more,” Awbrey said.
“Huh,” X said casually.
“Same Air Force guy comes back in and says, ‘here I want you to read this,’ hands me a Bible. ‘Focus on the book of revelations and tell me why you think it’s in there,’” then he walks out.
“Well that shit about blew my mind when I started thinking about it.”
“What conclusion did you come to?”
“That all this shit has happened before. By the way, you’re living proof,” Awbrey said as the turned off a dirt road in rural North Carolina.
They purchased a nearly ancient 1977 Chevy Nova from a used-car dealership outside of Cherokee North Carolina.
The bird was left as part of the trade. Awbrey asked the guy to either paint The Bird, or shelter it for a few days. The guy wouldn’t scrape off the VIN number, said it was illegal but he did agree to keep it covered in a shed on the property before he sold it.
“What’s the matter son? Are you with The Brand?” the dealer had asked Awbrey after listening to his strange, furtive requests.
Awbrey said no, we was not a member of the Aryan Brotherhood, but some people from the government were looking for he and his little pal, who had a medical condition.
“I’ll say,” said the car dealer, taking one look at the boy. “Is it contagious?”
“Oh, uh. No, sir. It’s that he grows hair waaaaay too fast. They got a whole team of experts who want to look at him, for some military thing, and he’s had just about enough of their bullshit.”
“Yeah you know, fighting in cold climes? Or when you’re in survival mode out in the wilderness. Some sort of enzyme to make the hair grow. His body produces it like crazy,” Awbrey said.
“Who is he to you?”
“He’s my nephew,” Awbrey said before he knew what was out of his mouth. X just smiled really big.
“Well, son, my condolences,” the dealer said at last, seeming to believe them.
“Should have told him you were with The Brand,” X whispered “He’d a done it, fore, shore! And he didn’t believe your bullshit story by the way, though, nice try.”
“Shhhhhh,” Awbrey said.
“And did you have to buy a 1970s muscle car? This here sled’s only one county over from Hazard,” X asked as they pulled away again.
“Yeah, unc, as in Dukes of…?”
“Way too many reruns for a growing boy,” Awbrey hissed in disgust.
“I’m just saying it’s not very random of you.”
“Well, we need something I can work on if it breaks down.”
“You’re not helping,” Awbrey said, adding “smartass.”
“Least I got to see the wider world,” X said dejectedly.
“I don’t understand modern cars. That’s why the dealerships charge so much to do anything. You can’t get your hands in there and fix things. Always have to have a lift and special tools,” Awbrey said.
“Planned obsolescence,” X said.
“So, why quantum physics?” X asked randomly.
“Timelines. You think of a building, right?”
“Uh-huh,” X said.
“Each little floor is a chunk of history,” Awbrey said.
“Modern human beings exist on, let’s say, the 23rd floor.”
“Okay, I’m with you,” X said.
“Neanders exist on Floor 22,” Awbrey said.
“Speed up. I’m still with you,” X said.
“Now, the building can be thought of as a company edifice that produces something.”
“Widgets, atom bombs. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, sport. It doesn’t matter for right now,” Awbrey said. “The point is, the floors, the walls, the bathrooms, are all laid out sort of like a maze, just like in a building.
“Mankind, and I mean baby mankind, and baby Neander-man, get off their respective elevators and are cordoned, corralled into certain rooms. And the rooms are laid out identically on each floor, but the ceilings and the floors separate these two counterparts as they negotiate their various mazes and find the tools they need to get into the next rooms, to do whatever it is they’re supposed to do before moving on with those tools in hand,” Awbrey said.
“And this is the explanation you gave the Air Force guy? I wish I had seen his face,” X said. “You don’t need a PhD to come up with this.”
“Yeah, he was pissed. But, he knew I was right,” Awbrey said. “It’s so simple, it’s been right under our noses the whole time.”
“So the walls are what?”
“Major events that run through the structure of the building, that send you and I down our own respective hallways into different rooms. Biblical shit, floods, eruptions, comet and asteroid impacts, diseases, stuff like that. Any periodic, natural, calamitous event that makes resources scarce and forces our respective developments a certain way, no matter what,” Awbrey said. “Walls in the office building that have no way to be circumvented, leading to walls of our own construction.”
“Wars,” X said.
“Now you’re getting it, X. Good boy.”
“Wait a sec? Who owns the office building?”
“Good question, but you’re getting ahead of yourself. Now, what I came up with for the Air Force, and this was about the time we met, I postulated that there is a certain point in the development of the monkey, where he gets too smart for himself. He gains the peak of his technical knowledge and expertise, which, forces him down corridors on the back side of the building. These events on the backside are what drive him back towards the elevator shaft; they are events that reduce him back down toward the spine of the family tree. The eighties rock group Devo had it right. They called the top and said everything forward of that time was de-evolution.”
“So that a little bit of him,” X interjected, “is used to form the monkey that emerges on the next floor.”
“Right. Now, the caretaker, the building manager that you asked about. He sees that the only window to the next floor for the monkey, is that event that forms the basis of the genetic timeline and elevator shaft. That tiny population of monkeys that survives, say, a polar-magnetic shift, and all its after effects.
“Caretaker, now, he’s a sneaky bastard and a quantum being. He can see time laid out like a building. And when you think about it in a four-d model, it is. All events are actually occurring simultaneously in his world view. Quantum theory teaches you that.
“He can ride the elevator, up and down. In fact, he doesn’t need an elevator. He has backstairs, keys to locked doors and hatches between floors; he has window-washing gear and he can get into any floor, any room, at any time he wants.”
“Kind of like a janitor landlord,” X laughed.
“Worse, his job is to drop in every now and then and direct the monkey as needed,” Awbrey said. “See this wall here, you’re about to run into it, turn do this…blab bla-bla.”
“Religion,” said X.
“If you think about it, every major religion has an apocalypse spelled out. Prophets Edgar Cayce and Nostradamus had very similar views on this as well. Notice that the religions themselves, are calling each other the great Satan right now. And there’s even a little guidebook in every one that details what the great Satan will look like.”
“Which is what?”
“A warlike human being who has a great public speaking voice. In short every intelligent human on the face of the earth. Isn’t that just great? Ain’t that convenient? Look in the mirror for examples. And yet the average human is, and has been, worked up into a lather trying to find this Anti-Christ in a finger-pointing, racist, ethnocentric rage.”
“On to the back side of the building, I suppose,” X said.
“And Caretaker is perfectly okay with that going on. So what does that tell you about him?” Awbrey said.
“He doesn’t give a shit?” X asked.
“He never did. In fact, all of our bullshit suits his purposes, just fine,” Awbrey said.
“You’re saying God, doesn’t care,” X said and he seemed happy with this theory.
“No, not God. Caretaker. There’s a big difference. Caretaker is just another creature. More advanced. We are sort of a hive, a farm, or a colony of creatures he uses.”
“He put us here, on the farm.”
“Likely not, in my view. But he conquered time-space, created his back passages, and he uses our goofy plundering through our respective floors to his advantage. To him, all our bullshit combined with natural events forms sort of a clock where he can keep his own timeline straight, so he doesn’t paradox himself, his own coworkers tweaking and manipulating humans on other floors.”
“Damn,” X said.
“Yeah, damn. You’re damn right, damn. But, and here’s the deal, right about the time the monkey gets too smart for himself, he actually becomes too smart for the caretaker’s purposes. He actually takes his first peek through one of the windows looking outside and he realizes where he is.”
“In his struggle for security he builds the atom bomb. In so doing he begins to see some of the laws of mathematics, physics, chemistry that bind up the universe. At that moment he understands that religion is far too arcane a construct to even begin to describe God. He begins to see the walls, doors, floors, everything and he realizes they can be circumvented.”
“And the Caretaker?”
“Well don’t you know old Caretaker he’s seen this kind of behavior before, in homo habilis, homo ergaster, homo heidelbergensis, homo neanderthalensis, because time really is laid out like a building where everything has happened, will happen, and is happening all at once. So, Caretaker knows just when to show up and stir the pot, keep the monkey’s interests moving in the right direction,” Awbrey said.
X leaned back in his seat and looked over at Awbrey. Was he being serious?
“Roswell, 1947,” said X.
“Good. You see where I’m going,” Awbrey said.
“What did the Air Force say when you came up with this one?” X asked.
“It was like they expected me to go in this direction. After I told them about the building construct, they knew where I was going, because by now they saw it too,” Awbrey said. “It was like a piece in a giant puzzle fell neatly into place.”
“But wait a second, are you saying that Neanderthals, my kind, developed to the stage of the atom bomb?”
“It’s highly possible and more than likely. Neanderthals roamed the planet for more than four hundred thousand years. As humans go, we’ve been here for only sixty thousand and look at us,” Awbrey said.
“But nothing. Science is now proving that your kind had the capacity for language. That you can speak is evident in the fact we’re having this conversation. Your brain size on average was larger, not smaller than homo sapiens. Look at some of things you can do, X; you possess psychic abilities, you can smell a man who is hunting you from more than a mile!”
“But I thought we were wiped out in Europe, hunted down!”
“You were, by my kind. Remember the back side of the building. This was long after your societies had been destroyed in my opinion. The new and improved model finished you off.”
“From Caretaker’s viewpoint, slightly less intelligent, way more aggressive, and we run faster than y’all.”
“So you’re saying…”
“All the shit we’re going through, your kind went through, before. You likely had the internet, television or their equivalents, Monday night football, World Cup Soccer, women’s rights, Vietnam, China, racial tensions, all of it. This has all been done before,” Awbrey said.
“But there would be evidence?”
“Picture a massive calamity. A polar reversal, or the like. Then throw a hundred thousand years on top of it for all, or most, of that evidence to be systematically erased by Caretaker.”
“You’re forgetting the titanium, lead-lined case found in Antarctica with your DNA inside it. At least two hundred thousand years old. Frozen, sealed so that no one would find it, so that a quarter million years of gamma rays would not destroy the structure of your DNA. That’s thought, that’s planning. That’s intelligence. That’s desperation,” Awbrey said.
“And what I can’t figure out is how they knew, how they did it, unless they too understood finally what was happening to them. They had no other option. They could see the building and they wanted to build their own little window to the next floor,” Awbrey said.
“How come Caretaker missed it?” X said.
“Because Caretaker is flawed, like us. He ain’t perfect. And if he has imperfections, he can be defeated and we can truly live free.”
“How would he be defeated?”
“One, the near impossible would have to happen. We agree to stop fighting each other as a species. That paradoxes the next floor. If you paradox him, this majorly screws up his itinerary and can physically destroy him in the floor above this one. See? You construct a new floor up there a floor where he is not the master, but we are.”
“Sure, some of the walls are going to be there. Big events which we can begin to predict the better we understand geology and astronomy, but other stuff, wars, and that, we can control!”
“You mentioned that the building produces something,” X said. “What is that?”
“Now we get to the heart of who Caretaker is, what he does,” Awbrey said. “The monkey…”
“That’s us, collective humanity,” X said.
“Right, the monkey builds stuff with his little-bitty mind and his opposable thumbs. He’s good like that. But, from Caretaker’s view, you don’t want him to get too smart. Now evolution is at work while his knowledge base grows. During those peak hours, just before he outsmarts not only himself, but you the Caretaker, he’s capable of a lot of things. You give him some technology you have at your disposal, like the semi-conductor. He fools with it, and then you give him something else, say, stealth-tech, or even anti-gravity drives. What does he do with it?”
“I don’t know?”
“What is his first inclination and by that I mean my species’ first inclination; it might not have been yours, remembering that mankind was bred for aggression to a certain extent?” Awbrey said.
“Weaponology. It is his first instinct because monkey is a paranoid motherfucker, above all other quirks and vices. He’s a natural born chicken-shit and he’s worried that the other guy across the fence, or the Berlin Wall, or the Great Wall of China might have figured this wonderful thing out on his own, see?”
“Well, like William Penn and his beads for Pennsylvania, or whatever, or Cortez offering guns and steel, or Americans offering the Winchester rifle, Caretaker gives him baby steps so monkey man can think he’s ahead of the other guy. Meantime, Caretaker’s got monkey man’s busy little opposables working on other stuff as a trade off,” Awbrey said.
“Right. Stuff so secret not even God knows about it. He’s got him sending up huge secret satellite arrays pointing to the center of the galaxy to chat with who-the-fuck-knows. See?
“Caretaker likes his galaxial hot rods, likes zipping back and forth through wormholes and whatnot. But, he’s flawed. It’s likely he can’t breed anymore. It’s likely he needs timelines to keep everything straight in his own mind because when he zips off at light speed, then finds his way back through a worm hole, time has gone all caddywampus on him. He not only has to say ‘where am I,’ but he ask to ask himself ‘when am I?’ and that’s a very important question.”
“Don’t you see? He’s outsmarted himself. Little paradoxes and gamma bursts have screwed up his DNA so bad he can’t make babies. He also needs a time-clock so he doesn’t make the problems even worse and that’s where we come in. Our silly little histories and civilizations provide him with a calendar. ‘I’m on floor 22, room seven, chimp discovers fire’ that kind of deal.
“So he’s always been here?”
“From our perspective he has. He either evolved here, will evolve here, or some other kind of weirdness, an amalgamation of all creatures born to this planet in the past, present and future.”
“Dude!” said X.
“But again, back to my original question, why you?” X asked.
“If I am not some sort of Oswald who will be left hanging with a wild assed story and no proof, it’d have to be my experiences with the esoteric knowledge,” Awbrey said.
“Our people were Welsh; superstitious, psychic, some of them. I have a feeling they knew on some level I have the background. It has to do with ancestors and so forth. Sometimes people have their ancestors sort of hanging around them, or in them, speaking to them and so on.
“My folks were big into all that knowledge,” Awbrey said.
“Right, your innate psychic abilities would be like a radio beacon to the dead of your kind. They would start speaking to you in one way or another, and I would be there to sort it out, explain to both you and your keepers what was happening to you,” Awbrey said.
“But you chose instead to bust me out of there,” X said.
“It wasn’t humane, the way you were living. That’s not a life. I couldn’t sit by and watch that happen, especially since….”
“Since what? Since I age so fast?”
“Something like that. I have to be straight with you, X. Cloning as we know it, has a way to go,” Awbrey said.
“Dolly the Sheep,” X said.
“Exactly, she aged too fast. It was like her genes knew how old she actually was,” Awbrey said.
“Or maybe Neander, owing to the exigencies of his hellish brutal life, had to age rapidly,” X said.
“There is that remote possibility,” Awbrey said.
“So your genius plan is, again, an appearance before congress, shock and awe,” X said.
“Yep,” Awbrey said.
“And knowing all that they know about you, unc, there isn’t the slightest chance they’ve predicted your next move?”