Alpha and Omega
"A Rocketman Story"
By John Pirillo
A slice through the shadows. Fall back deeper.
Heartbeat so loud his chest feels like it's going to explode.
Maybe this time.
Maybe the search has ended!
"Come on, bucket head." Jet whined.
Harry swiped at the sweat pooling across his brows, his concentration unwavering as he studied the battle plans before him.
Jet, leaning over the plans, anxious to get going, fretted like the little child he was sometimes. Got to love him, mused Harry as he finally swept his pawn across the board to block the only exit that Jet's king had.
Jet grinned so big that Harry immediately knew he had made a tactical error.
"You should have blocked the rook, not the castle." Einstein said, as he hovered over his shoulder, the sweet smell of his cherry blend whispering between his teeth from the pipe he was smoking.
"Easy for you to say." Harry complained. "You plan a hundred moves ahead."
"Well, one tries." Einstein replied humbly.
Harry gave him a scowl, then waited for Jet to close the game.
Instead, Jet yawned, stretched real big and got to his feet, stretching like a lion does before leaping upon its prey.
"I'm whacked. Think I'll catch some shut eye. 'Night!"
"Hey!" Harry complained.
"You win, Harry. As always." Jet said, the hint of a snicker in his voice as he swept off to the right and their bunks deeper in the underground fortress. A fortress that was deep inside a series of natural caverns inside the Swiss Alps. Left there by ancient Romans on their way to defeating the rest of Europe. You could still see some of their statuary in deeper pockets of the fortress, where even some of their simple columns supported the cavern roof with beauty, while not actual need.
Einstein sat down and pondered the board a moment. "Actually, he's right. You do win."
Harry looked at Einstein. "You're kidding, right?"
Einstein gave him a stony face, then broke into laughter. "Night, Harry."
He walked off slowly, heading a different direction, probably to work with one of his fellow scientists on suit modifications Harry had suggested. He just found it harder and harder to fly the damn thing. He felt like a walking tank. Not like a bird flying. More like a bomb flying the wrong direction.
Brenda, one of the Nurses on station, slipped into a chair opposite him and set down two cups of Java. "Thought you'd need this."
"Thanks." He said, grasping its warmth, allowing it to warm his numb fingers. While the base was comfortable enough, no amount of work could change the temperatures inside, which were usually just this side of freezing. You could always see your breath. When he complained about it, Einstein laughed. "Would you rather it got hot and our electronics blew up, causing a thermal nuclear meltdown of our reactors?"
"Boom!" Einstein made a cute explosion sound, then laughed.
So that ended that.
"Harry. Base to Harry. Come in, Captain!" Brenda teased.
Harry focused on her face, the hint of a smile on his lips. "Sorry, just thinking."
"Ask me flight boy, you ding that old noggin a bit too much for comfort. Some day you're likely to turn into one of those steel brains like Al."
Harry barked with laughter. "He'd love hearing that. Then he could have a real partner to beat chess with."
She smiled, then took a sip of her Java.
Harry did the same. Then his eyebrows rose. She gave him the hint of a mischievous smile. "Woke you up, did it, fly boy?"
"You shooting for bedpan duty, Nurse?" Harry quipped.
"No skin off my back. I've been doing that for years, Penguin."
He laughed. "Sometimes I wish I were."
"Yeah. Read you loud and clear."
They both sat there lost in their thoughts a moment, then Harry said what was really on his mind. "Do you think they're still alive...out there...somewhere?"
Betty's face grew impassive. "Facts are not always pleasant, flyboy."
"Atta girl, fast thinking. But not as fast as my jenny."
"Your jenny is nothing more than a firecracker with metal slung around it." She countered, then put a hand on his hand, not liking the direction their talk was taking.
"Sorry, Harry. Didn't mean to blow out your tanks."
"Likewise." He said with a grin.
She softened. "We would all like to think she was still alive, but..."
He grew somber with that thought. "So many gone. So many."
"You still seeing the split?"
"Must feel like being stuck in a Mae West double barrel salute when that happens."
"Worse." He admitted.
She looked into his eyes. "What's it like in that other world?"
"We were winning."
He didn't say anything more. What more could he say? On his own timeline the Allies were beating the crap out of those brown shirts, but here...they were on the run...hiding in rabbit holes and taking pocket shots, hoping for a big break.
"You live back then sometimes, don't you?"
"Yes." He sighed, put his head in his hands a moment, then looked back at her. "It's like a dream...this world...when I'm there, but now that world..."
"Like a dream?"
"Al or Nicolai come up with anything yet?"
"Not a damned thing."
She put a hand on his wrist and he could feel the warmth of her seeping into his body. He flinched at first, but she didn't let go. "Whenever you want to talk more about it."
She got up and smiled. "Why don'tchu come up and see me some time, big guy?"
"You been looking at those old reels, have you?" He smiled at her.
"Oh yeah. Those movie stars had it all down." She returned the smile, then walked off, the same time as klaxons blared throughout the underground cavern.
Harry bounced to his feet, spilling his Java on the table top. He ignored it as he ran as fast as he could to the rigging area. He, along with a myriad of penguins, who supported the operations, raced in every direction. Checking power. Checking radar. Checking entrances and exits. Checking fuel. Checking supplies. Hauling out fire equipment. All the things that penguins did to make sure the flyboys were safe and the secret base secure.
He mused over the term penguins a moment, thinking it funny that his fellow airmen would be called something as cute as that, but such was the slang of the times...even in this alternate reality. Which brought him back full circle to the klaxons blaring. Either there was a major battle coming, or something had gone terribly wrong.
"Suit up, Captain!" Ordered his commanding officer of the day. Colonel Windser. The man was an uptight asshole, without the slightest clue of good manners or mercy. He would just as readily swap a fellow airman down into the ground as a Nazi storm trooper.
Harry ignored him as always, leaped up the ramp into his suit, twisted around and slipped inside. The ground crew sealed him in quickly and made sure his electronic network was active and ready. Others manned the new electronic consoles that kept track of his heart rate, his air, his munitions and more importantly his amp out if need be. He'd only amped once, and it had cost him a month in rehab from the shock of impacting the ground. He was determined...not to let that ever happen again.
Amping was a term for bailing out, but in his suit, it just meant being enclosed with a super inflated cushion that was supposed to protect him from earth impact. It did, but it usually left him in shock for weeks from the violence of the impact. They had tested it once without him and deemed it okay, but he knew better. It was experimental. Which was why he was begging them for lighter suit.
As his helmet sealed off and his scanners lit to life, his screens for monitoring the outside of the suit, his armament, his flight navigator, his communications gear came to life as well. "Rocketman, loud and ready." He quipped.
"Gotcha, Harry." Jet rang in from a receiver near his right ear.
Harry activated his legs and began disconnecting from the ramp. He turned and faced the ramp he would be launching from. He began racing up it as the mountainside ahead began to part like the fabled walls of Ali Baba's forty thieves.
"Rocket!" Harry shouted, then shot up into the midnight black of the Swiss night. No moon, no stars. Clouds thick and dreary. Perfect for his flight to stay hidden from the Nazi base below, but bad for his systems readouts, as the fog caused a lot of false readings.
"Jet, what's going on? Nothing in range."
"This is Colonel Windser, you are to stay air born until further instructions. We have a bogey. I repeat we have a bogey."
"Colonel, that tells me zero!"
"Heads up." Jet ordered.
Harry turned his helmet up.
The clouds were thinner there. As he flew higher, they thinned further and he became aware of something metallic coming into view. It was larger than him, and armed to the teeth. Another Rocket suit...with a huge Swastika on its chest.
"Jet, we have a problem."
"What is it?"
Static blasted into his ears, then Colonel Windser's voice blasted through. "Shoot it down. Now!"
"Captain, are you disobeying a direct order?"
"No sir, just not interested in shooting my own self."
Long silence. "What?"
"It's me. Rocket me."
"Holy crap, Harry, how's that possible?"
"How are you possible, how am I?" He shot back. "Some kind of new split in the timeline. Jeepers, you're rattin' up the wrong tree, if you wanna make sense of this."
"Other suit is arming, Harry."
Harry did the only thing he could, he amped.
Inside his suit, he became compressed in a soft substance that would save him from any impact. The suit was made of a highly resilient metal that nothing short of an atom bomb could destroy. He was the only breakable part.
"Harry, you crazy!"
The last thing he saw was the face in the other suit as it closed in. His own. The eyes were in shock, then it shot to the right and vanished as he plummeted towards the earth.
That was the last thing he remembered for about a week. The next thing he remembered was Nurse Brenda's voice talking to Jet in a low murmur. Then he realized it was just him surfacing from dreamland.
He opened his eyes. He was hooked up to all kinds medical scanners and body fluids. "Hey!"
They both gave him looks of relief.
Colonel Windser stormed into the room, his face bright with anger, but instead of hollering at Harry, he wiped at his eyes, which were clearly wet with tears. He touched Harry gently on his shoulder. "Damn you, Harry!"
"Damn me, sir!" Harry joked back.
Colonel Windser jerked his eyes to Jet and Brenda. "You make sure he has everything he needs to recover fully."
He looked back at Harry. "And then you got a lot of explaining to do." He smiled. "I'm glad you made it, son."
He paused as if about to say more, then left in a storm as he had entered.
Jet whooped it up. "Harry, you just got cussed out by the meanest guy on the earth and survived."
"Didn't sound that way to me."
Brenda laughed. "You should have heard him when you amped. My ears are still healing from all the swear words."
"So what happened?" Harry asked, genuinely confused.
"You survived." Jet said gently, his smile warm and soothing. "You made it, fly boy!"
Harry laughed. "You should have seen the look on the other guy's face."
"I'll bet." Jet snorted. "Bad enough to have one loser in the air, let alone two!" He laughed. But what he was really thinking was "How could Harry be sure the other Harry would recognize the gesture of surrender and not blast him to kingdom come?"
Brenda joined the laughter, but Harry didn't. What had happened to the other him? Did he realize that Harry was not the enemy like he had the other? And why was he flying a suit with a swastika on it? Those questions boiled in his mind as he slipped into a much needed, and deep rest.
"The Other Side of Chaos"
Journey to the Center of the Earth
by John Pirillo
The other side of chaos was as close as the Walgreens and as far as the Taj Mahal. When Erin got up that morning in the small town of Hoover, California, he was expecting to grouse about the weather again. It always rained. Over and over and over. He had heard on the news report that they had the third highest rainfall in the nation, though you would never have thought so with the horrible drought going on throughout Southern California.
He whisked through his morning rituals, shaving, grooming his hair, powdering his arms and underwear, and then slipping into his usual worn jeans and t-shirt. Everyone knew him in town as the t-shirt man. Or Jeans. He preferred Jeans, it sounded cool.
After all, he was a bright eyed and bushy tailed genius of a hippy. He had managed to find his niche in the small town, where the Sheriff was a portly man who rarely left his office, except for accidents, and the town gossips were regular clients of his. He always delivered and they always smoked. The new pot laws weren't going to cut into his business one bit, though he was sure it would in the larger cities for those scoundrels who brought the green gold into the country on the backs of immigrants and machine gun toting gangsters.
"Hey Jeans!" He was greeted by Molly Two Burgers. His made up name for her. She served the best burgers in town. Veggies. No one ate meat in Hoover. They were all vegetarians and except, for the Sheriff, who ate the occasional chicken sandwich, liked it that way. The local realtors usually discouraged any immigrants with big money who wanted to buy into the city and change it. If they weren't veggie lovers, they didn't belong there. Also, the local Mayor had made it the law that everyone had to vote yes for a new neighbor to move in. Course that was never done in public, the politically correct idiots would have had them sued ten times south of summer if they found out and they'd be big news across the nation.
No one wanted to be big news. A nice quiet leisurely life was the order of the day and carefully maintained in the open, and behind closed doors.
There was nothing nasty in it, they just didn't like the world out there, the meanness in it, the clambering and climbing over one another to achieve. To achieve what...a mortgage that no one could afford and the non-named depression took away from them and cars that cost a hundred times more than a person could afford.
None of the Hooverians, as they called themselves, none of them wanted to be part of the United States as it stood today. They called it the Lost Continent of the United States, because it had lost its way and sunk beneath the waters of logic and reason.
No one bought into that trash about God ruling from the state capitol and none of them believed that all children were angels. They were only too clued in about how children were, and made it their earnest duty to see to it that no child got away with anything. Ever!
The way they did that was to make sure the adults always did their duty and that no child was ever spoiled. It was terribly hard work for the smoke loving, peace hazed citizens, but they relished the idea of bringing up souls that actually had minds of their own, if not as rebellious kinds as now populated the larger part of the states.
Evans picked up the morning paper that Molly Two Burgers threw down before him and read the headlines. "Two eggs. Sunny side up. Four sausage. Golden brown..."
"Yeah. I know, Jeans. And no toast. A bagel with raisons and cinnamon with heaps of wet butter."
"Read me like a psychic."
"I am a psychic." She laughed.
"Yeah. But only to those ornery citizens who make the mistake of touring our humble little town. Speaking of which."
He laid the paper down. "My bones have been aching for days now. And you know what that means."
She handed his order over to Jake behind the counter and he began putting together the breakfast for Jeans. He waved and Jeans waved back. Jake was deaf, but he was one smart fellow. He made the best organic muffins this side of...well wherever!
Jeans leaned across the morning headlines....Terrorists cut off the heads of two state leaders in the Middle East and cook them for breakfast. "It means we're in for a big...gigantic change of weather."
"Well, I don't believe that to be true, Jeans. I do see those kinds of things, you know."
He felt the ache again in his bones. It was like a low, low vibration that was slowly building up within his body. "It keeps getting stronger, like someone was pressing me down into the earth."
"Well you sures hell ain't no black hole, Jeans." She laughed.
He returned the laugh, and then sighed. "I sure hope I'm wrong, because I don't want no one to get killed."
That stopped her grin. "Killed?"
He nodded. "Remember last time I had one of these, Brown and Sugar drove their car off the rain slicked bridge into the gully where the river was swollen. They never stood a chance."
Her face clouded over a moment in grief. "I loved them twos like hell."
"Yeah. Everybody did."
She went to her phone.
"Making that phone call."
He nodded. He knew what that phone call meant.
She did it, and then returned.
When his breakfast came steaming on a plate to him, he ate it quietly, even as more and more of the citizens poured into the small cafe to sit quietly, watching him. Finally, he finished, then stood up and faced the crowd of about thirty. The place was jam packed. The rest would be listening and watching on the video systems him and Jed, his brother, had installed throughout the town so this kind of thing could be done on a moment's notice without any great effort on anyone who might be inconvenienced to come at that time.
"Something big is about to happen."
"Better believe him."Molly Two Burgers urged.
Bread. A very large man. A baker, with huge Italian eyes and a meaty stomach from eating half of what he cooked stood up. "How big?"
"Bigger than your belly."
Everyone laughed, but Bread. "My tums pretty damned big, Jeans. You sure?"
"Yeah. Damn sure."
Bread, who was the Mayor, turned to face the other citizens. "Alright then. You know the drill."
Everyone began spilling out of the cafe, making it feel empty and hollow after all the humanity that had been breathing in it. Whiffs of pot smoke edged his nostrils. He wondered briefly who had been dabbling, then forgot it when Bread came over and sat next to him. He motioned Jeans to sit and he did.
"Weather like last?"
"No. Definitely not weather. Not that kind at least."
"Can you at least give us a hint of what's coming?"
Jeans hated doing it, but he knew it was a necessity. So he sat down on the floor and fell into his lotus meditation position. He let the world slip away and allowed himself to drift with the cosmos, his senses heightened and alert like a young kids. He felt the thrumming feeling again in his body, but this time it was more tangible, more palpable, as if it had a life of its own. He followed the vibration with his mind and found himself drifting not upwards...where rain and storms might be, but instead down. He felt himself accelerating and going further and further down.
He knew his body at that moment was sweating as if he were in a sauna, his heart palpitating from the effort of his descent, and then he saw it.
Bread and Molly Two Burgers had his body between them, his head in her lap. He opened his eyes. "It's horrible. We can't beat this one."
Bread and Molly Two Burgers looked shaken to their cores.
"There must be something we can do?" Bread urged.
"Yes. There is."
Jeans sat up slowly, wiping at the sweat of his forehead. "Everyone must sleep outside from this moment on. No one stays indoors. No one travels on the bridges, or on the waters. Make sure all our flammables are safely secured. Shore up our food and water supplies."
"Just what are we protecting ourselves from, Jeans?" Bread said as he got up to carry out the suggestions.
"The Big One. A holy god smacking, end of the world, up our ass, dead in the water, god forsaken Big One!"
They all headed in different directions, intent on making sure everyone was as safe as possible. They spent the next four days outside in tents, even when it began to freeze and huge winds began to blow, threatening to destroy their temporary shelters.
Then in the AM of the last day, when everyone began to doubt Jeans and his bones, the earth began to tremble. At first lightly. Jeans felt it in his bones the most. It became so intense he screamed in pain, and then all hell broke loose.
It was like someone had tossed a Nuke into the center of the town. They all fell to the ground as it struck, but no one's eyes left the town view, even as they were tossed and turned like eggs in a skillet by the violence of the shaking. It felt as if God himself had grown angry and decided to smash the earth with his cosmic fist.
Every single building in the town crumbled like a giant fist had whacked them. The two local bridges broke apart and plummeted into the gulches below them. The huge water tower that supplied the town fell over and a flood of water rushed towards everyone, but no one drowned, because their tents were on high ground.
But some were hurt, though precious few, by falling trees. Every single tree for miles was struck down like matchsticks broken by a massive hammer. Children cried out in terror, Bread felt his stomach flip flop as if it might never stop. Molly Two Burgers enfolded her twins in her arms and Jeans did the same, protecting them from flying debris made from the falling trees.
And when it finally ended, when the terror and destruction ended, what remained of Hoover was a huge chasm in the ground. But not one person had died. Nor would they. They had obeyed the laws of common sense and not ignored the warnings that had come to them, however unscientifically through Jeans.
And Jeans. Well, he had managed to save his crop and they might struggle a bit for awhile to get their food supplies back to normal again, but no one would run out of smokes.
And one more thing happened, Jeans never meditated again after that. What he had seen had changed him. He stopped smoking the green gold or any other color. He sold it to administer relief to those who needed it, but he refused to ever touch it again. Part of him knew that what had happened was more than an accident, for he had seen the source of the Big One. He never told one person what he had seen and never would, for fear of what it might draw to them if he did. No, instead he dedicated his time to helping the others rebuild their homes, plant crops, and heal the sick. Jeans had become a kind of saint in a way. Even if by accident.
Proof of Concept Teaser for The Leviathan. Follow me on twitter! https://twitter.com/RuairiRobinson
Developed with the assistance of Bord Scannáin na hÉireann/ the Irish Film Board
Created by Ruairi Robinson. With a script by Jim Uhls (screenwriter of FIGHT CLUB)