Anti-Matter - Excerpts


What you are about to read is both a love story and a Science Fiction adventure through an area of the universe with which you may already be familiar, but on a subconscious level only. You may not be familiar with anti-matter on a personal level yet, but all of us, like it or not have had encounters with an amount of Anti-Matter that can vary from the tiniest of specks to large clouds of it that hangs over your life for days, months or even years.

Anti-matter is the opposite of the matter that we are all made of and which the Earth and the sun and everything we know is made of. Anti-matter has the opposite charge of matter and the opposite spin and so when anti-matter and matter encounter each other, they both annihilate one another.

As a Science and Science Fiction author my personal encounters with anti-matter that impacted my life inspired me to write this book because I discovered in my research that Anti-matter has been the single greatest influencer of my life, bar none. Whenever you expect an outcome in life say, for hard work, patience, and dedication to the cause, and the fruits of that labor are denied to you, it's my opinion that it's not "bad luck", but anti-matter that got in the way of attaining your prize, the normal outcome from all that hard work, patience and dedication.

On a larger scale, whenever we humans enter into world wars and major economic debacles, we can almost always put this down to the impact of Anti-matter on our society as a whole as well as on all individuals.

Anti-matter is so minute, so subtle that it has never been recognized as the true cause of all the conflict, chaos strife and trouble in the world. And today these things are at their zenith. Anti-Matter's impact is always on the sub-atomic level. However, in my earlier works, I think I have proven the fact that most if not all of our thoughts, deeds and actions all start out at the sub-atomic level and this is where all problems with Anti-Matter begin.

I've written this as a love story as the central part of this book because as we all know, it's a very fine line that separates love from hate. It's so fine that it's less than a trillionth of a trillionth the diameter of a human hair. This is exactly the space in which Anti-matter is the most comfortable and the most effective but its downfall is that it is exposed here at these levels. We only have to monitor our lives carefully to know its full impact.

To put it simply, Anti-matter comes out of the anti-universe and when it hits you, it produces the opposite events of what you expected, or the anti-universe and there is no escape. By the time you finish this book, I can practically guarantee that you will know how to recognize when you are in the proper universe and when anti-matter is dragging you over to the other universe, the one that is not the one you expected, hoped for, dreamed about or wanted.

Chapter One

The Anti-Matter Ray

You’re probably already wondering what value the story of a guy who invented the anti-matter ray may have on your own. And, sadly for most of you that value may turn out to be little or none at all because things have turned out so completely different than what I or any of you might have ever expected.

Some of you, in fact, the vast majority of you will never learn about me at all. You will be removed to another universe from the actions of my invention, but I will be completely unknown to you because in the universe where you’re going, things don’t happen exactly the same way as they do here in this one. It’s complicated.

It’s all down to anti-matter. This I can tell you and what you are about to experience is either this story and its impact on your lives taking place immediately after you’re finished reading. Or, you will experience the other universe where my ray has taken you and life goes on over there pretty much as it is supposed to, such as things go, and so it’s not a happy ending for the vast majority of you.

Look, I told you, it’s complicated. However, I know you can all handle it. This book was handed to you or you purchased it because someone or something connected you to this book, and you have allowed your eyes to make it down range this far. This means it’s more likely than not that you have the mental capacity to take in big ideas, to seek out and absorb completely new vistas, to go where no man or woman has gone before.

Therefore, I say ‘Congratulations’ to you for getting this far and I don’t mean in the book, but in the events of your life, whatever they have been. Big or small, they are uniquely yours and yours alone. Good for you. Aha, but do you know how you got here? I mean in this particular universe? There are plenty of other possibilities, you know.

I hope you will agree with me someday soon that your life’s events might be completely different, for better or worse, were you armed with the ability to identify the anti-matter in your surroundings and where you might be the most vulnerable. If you know what you might have done in the past, or even better, what you might be able to do in the future to combat the anti-matter in your life, your life could be so much better. I hope you will agree, maybe not right now, but hopefully by the time you finish this story.

Let us begin.

# # #

It's a recurring dream for me. I'm standing next to my best girl, my favorite person in the world, my soul mate. She's a watercolorist and oil painter. She's the love of my life, but to say I’m the love of her life would be stretching it. I’m definitely a love in her life. I think I’m authorized to say that much. To me, she’s the most beautifully designed object in the history of the universe and that’s no lie.

We're looking at a new painting of hers. It's a picture of a doorway which is not yet attached to any other structure. Presently, the door is slightly ajar and is merely floating in space on the canvas. Where it leads to, we have no idea, but we both have a good feeling about it. It all starts to come back to me, flowing like a river.

Where does that door go?” I ask her.

I don’t know,” she replies.

Why did you paint it that way?” I ask.

I don’t know that either,” she replies.

# # #

I need to interrupt the story right now for just a few minutes because, as you will soon see, this is a very difficult story to tell because there has never been a story like it. This story is so unique and different that I know there will be many skeptics. I’m only able to tell this story because I have actually lived it. I am also able to tell the story because I invented a device that allows the wearer to remember everything about the universe that he or she inhabited prior to their emigration to the new one.

So, I’ll start by saying that I'm not sure what parts of my story will be the most optimal for you to know. There are so many different things to say about it, so many different facets, but I have decided to concentrate on the most important aspects of the story so that I lose as few of you as possible. If I try to explain it all, I’m afraid that I would lose most of you, so we’re going to try to keep it simple or as simple as possible. It may seem a bit dreary at first, but let me tell you that there is a happy ending, at least for those who remain in this universe.

It’s also important to note that what I’m about to tell you actually happened to me, is happening to me and always will happen to me. If you're as fortunate as me, similar events will also happen to you. Indeed, they may already be happening to you at this very moment the same way that they're happening to me, but you have yet to recognize them in the way that is now, shall we say, the most optimal for you.

(End of my interruption.)

I met her at a party. I didn’t know anyone at the party except for the girl who invited me and who I was dating at the time, let's call her Kathy. I never saw Kathy after the party because at the opening minutes of the party, I was introduced to the most important person in my life by the name of Dana Del Rio.

She was sitting on a stool in the middle of the room, the light falling on her dark brown hair like a winter fog falls upon the forest. Everything went quiet inside my head. There were no other party-goers around. I simply fell into a trance. There she was, right in front of me, the girl that I had been dreaming about all my life.

Her big brown eyes followed my every step as I came closer and closer. She had on a little black dress with the most beautiful legs protruding out of them that I had ever had the great pleasure to behold in my life. She was tall and slender and flashed the friendliest set of teeth I had ever known.

"And this is my half-sister, Dana," someone, obviously her half-sister, says somewhere behind me and to my left. From this time forward, I would think of her name as some might regard as their mantra. I would find myself saying her name when I woke up in the morning and just before going to sleep at night, with many other times during the day when I wanted to avoid thinking about other less important things.

At this point in my life, I had been a 'normal', well-adjusted, sane and happy person, mostly. I never let things get to me, no matter if they were extremely good or extremely bad, extremely happy or extremely sad. I prided myself on my steadfastness and my cool, my presence of mind under fire, as they say.

But, when I began chatting with this nearly perfect example of the human female, I lost all control of my emotions and higher brain functions. I felt the impacts of each syllable as they were formed by her lips and her tongue, landing like snowflakes on my ears. I caught each exhalation as a great exaltation. I sanctified the moment. I broke it into smaller and smaller segments so that I could digest and savor it forever. With her every word, I fell deeper and deeper into a hypnotic trance where nothing else mattered to me. From this point forward, I would go through life as a creature that had morphed into something much better.

It wasn't what she said as much as the way she said it. The words she chose were perfect and came out of a secret dictionary that both of us shared through some kind of social bond I have not yet proven. The sound of her vocalizations were a kind of music that I had never heard before. Everything she spoke about, and I mean everything, were concepts that I had recently toyed with. It was as if she was reading my mind.

We talked all night, alone at the kitchen table. People in the main room of the house continued the party all night without us and I knew that because we could hear laughter and revelry going on, as we spoke about more serious things, like our past and future families, and how much they meant to us. At this point, I knew, and I think she also knew, that we were meant to have a family together. We never did.

Every half-hour or so, my girlfriend at the time, the lady who brought me to the party, would come into the kitchen to check up on us and it was obvious to her that the two of us were no longer connected to the normal reality going on everywhere else.

I never saw that lovely young lady again. Truly, she was a class act. I regret treating her so callously, but I simply had no other choice. To her great credit, she must have recognized that she was no match for Dana and just let me have her, without objection. When Kathy looked at my face directly, she would laugh, hysterically, and I assume it was because I do have a funny face. I never assumed anything lasting would come out of that relationship and I doubt she did either. But it was fun and I’ll always remember that.

Needless to say, that night sitting at a stranger’s kitchen table was the most magical night of my life. Today, many years later, this scene is no more than a blurred dream. I often wish that camera phones were more prevalent at this time so that real visual and audio evidence of this night could exist somewhere so that I might prove to myself that this event actually happened, and that it is definitely not some form of hallucination.

Instead, that night, this moment, that kitchen table is merely a scene from a dream inside a dream tucked inside a universe, sitting comfortably inside another universe folded up inside of something bigger, more intense and far more forgiving.

# # #

Where do you think the door leads?” She asks me, quietly.

I don’t know. I’m afraid to guess. I don’t think we want to know,” I reply.

A soreness deep within my muscle and bone, a complete and total emptiness, overwhelms me.

I must have done something or said something very wrong for that period in our relationship. She was twenty or so, and I was thirty and so I should have known better. I should have protected her and me from what I should have known was coming. I was reckless. She hit me with all the bells and whistles, so I would be forced to let out all the stops.

I should have seen how vulnerable and innocent a thing she was. I had become brash and bold by then, and somewhere, somehow, our styles of living our lives must have clashed in her mind. In my mind, instead of clashing, we were meshing perfectly. It just goes to show how wrong I can be about so many things.

We only lasted six wonderful and incredible months of what seemed to me to be a perfect union at that time. I did not see it coming. When she told me she had other fish to fry, better things to do, more horizons to visit, I was dumbfounded. The day turned to night. The sun would not shine for me. The birds would not sing. The trees would all die. The flowers would no longer open. The music stopped. The carousel of life stopped turning. The thrill of waking up every day to her delicious skin was gone.

Not a day goes by in this universe when I don't think of her, wonder where she is, what she's doing, who she's with, what she's thinking, what makes her happy.

Sometimes I hear from mutual friends about the events in her life that no longer include me. She’s traveling. She’s painting. She’s visiting with people we both knew together. She’s laughing and joking. She’s always married to someone else.

It’s hard, but I respect her decision not to engage with me any more. I think perhaps it’s because she knows that if she gives me an inch, I would try to grab that proverbial mile. But, I never embarrass her. I’ve never made a public spectacle of myself. I’ve never tried to force myself upon her. I stoically stand by her decision. You have to do this for the person you respect more than any other. You have to give them their freedom. Love has to flow in both directions. It did for a while for me and for this I am so eternally grateful. But, then suddenly, it just vanished from her direction. I was forced to live without it. This is how my life has deployed throughout the years.

Pitiful, ain’t it?

You’re wondering how anyone could spend their life wallowing in such an extreme degree of pain and self-pity. However, there’s a reason I’m telling you all of this now. Because it’s the very nature of anti-matter that it can and sometimes does create a new life, a better life out of the ashes of the old one that it destroys. And, this is why I’m here to tell you my story.

And, don’t worry, it has a happy ending, but only because I was removed to an alternate universe that anti-matter has thankfully created for me, well for all of us, truly.

(Here comes the good part. Wait for it.)

There comes a day when she moves out of my house. She stops by to pick up some of her clothes she had left hanging in the closet. I cannot hide the fact that my heart is breaking. As she slowly closes the front door behind her, she tells me that ‘Life is short.’

It’s the most memorable thing she will say to me because as we all know, this well-worn phrase means that she has to cut her life with me short because she’s certain there’s a better life for her somewhere out there with someone else. She’s right, of course. Why did I believe so strongly that her best life would have to be with me? What an ego.

So much for the agony and the ecstasy.

The good news is that, though I had no idea at the time, my first encounter with anti-matter had begun. My fate was sealed when the planet I live on ran smack dab into a small cloud of the stuff in hyper-space. It was just enough to break the spell I had cast upon the girl. It knocked my game out of the ball park. It hit us like an earthquake.

After she left, I knew something very strange had happened to me. How could this be part of the ‘normal’ world? One day, I was in love and happy as a clam and the next day, I was lower than a clam. There had to be a weird explanation, although a scientific one. I started to do the research, the very hard work that has led me to this point.

I began with the premise that I was now living in another universe and I therefore must start doing something about it. I used this experience to change my career and to become a world-renowned scientific researcher, in my eyes, a mere a lab assistant, in others. I have worked with some of the greatest minds in history in the realm of particle Physics and Theoretical Quantum Physics.

Of course being a mere lab assistant would mean that the profs, these greatest of minds, would often scoff at my ideas. I was always pushing the limits, trying to understand the facts that they had uncovered from a point of view well outside of the known universe.

It was a hard sell.

There’s nothing in the universe that happens without a very good reason,” I would tell them, knowing deep down that the events in my life would prove this old adage beyond any reasonable doubt.

They would scoff at me and snicker and stab me in the back, having as little to do with me as possible, lest their glorious reputations and careers might be placed in jeopardy. I was unfazed. I knew I was right and would be vindicated some day.

At least I gave them something to think about when they allowed me my one and only lecture to the grad students in the Stanford University’s Advanced Quantum Physics lecture of 2035.

There are at a minimum 25 quintillion, quintillion elementary particles flowing around and through our bodies and minds, and everything else we interact with from the air we breathe to the food we eat, at any given moment,” I would tell them.

And they are all interconnected. There is no empty space that separates the particles floating around in ourselves to the particles floating around inside anything else. Furthermore, the forces that hold all of our particles together to form individual distinct units of things, whether they are dumb people or smart phones, are the only deciding factors in all of our thoughts and deeds, and thereby control our fate. When this extremely dense interaction of particles is working harmoniously, everything seems fine in our lives. We are happy, fulfilled. We prosper. But, whenever the balance is tipped by the anti-matter in the universe, things can go awry,” I would continue.

I could see them all scoffing, snickering and rolling their eyes. They would never allow me to have another chance to speak or publish papers again. But, I knew I was right. Too much in the order of the mysterious had already happened to me in my crazy, compacted life. And, as for the rest of it, well, that’s the nature of the story that I can tell you today.

Indeed, revenge is sweet. Few of them are around any longer. Most, if not all of the so-called ‘great minds’ have been removed to their proper places when the anti-matter bomb was detonated. For now, suffice it to say that when I invented the anti-matter ray gun, everything changed forever and things will never be the same around here again, thank God!

And I am now the major scientific mind still here to tell you the truth of the constant battle between matter and anti-matter going on all around you at every moment of every day of your so-called lives. It never ends. Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy, bumpy ride.

# # #

My name is Jack Coppersmith, and I am no longer someone’s research scientist. Today, I'm simply a curious tinkerer, an inventor, someone akin to Thomas Edison or more precisely, Nikola Tesla and this is a kind of autobiography - slash - history lesson that takes place over the majority of my life time. It’s all true because I lived it. Your parents or even your grand-parents may have told you about these events, however, they were probably depicted much different than I am detailing here because they simply didn’t know the real story, the real science of what was impacting their lives so greatly.

And, I’m not asking for much. I only ask that you forget about everything you learned in high school and college Science classes because all that knowledge and wisdom that you sweated so greatly to be able to feedback to your professors, changed radically a few years ago, when the events I’m going to show you showered over us all and permeated everything on this planet.

Anti-matter is a type of matter that is the exact opposite of the matter that you deal with every day in this universe. It is not correct to only suggest that it is an electron with the opposite polarity of an electron, in other words a positively charged electron, or that it is a proton with the opposite polarity of a proton, or a negatively charged proton. Anti-matter has the opposite polarity of matter because everything about it is completely in opposition to what we experience here in this universe. Where we think something is ‘good’, anti-matter will treat it as ‘evil’. Where we think something is ‘evil’, anti-matter will think that it is ‘good’.

Therefore, it has been my educated guess, having experienced it to such a large degree, a degree to which you are also about to experience, that Anti-matter originates in an exact opposite type of universe.

In the 'Anti-Universe', North is South, up is down, inside is outside, left is right, black is white, blue is red, green is brown, bad is good, good is bad, etc. I believe further that nothing exists in our universe without its opposite counterpart existing in the anti-universe in the same quantity but in the opposite form and degree.

You’ll hear me remind you many times, that in the universe you’re in right now, electrons have a negative charge and spin in one direction. In the anti-universe, electrons have a positive charge and spin in the opposite direction. The same goes for protons and their anti-protons, quarks and their anti-quarks, gluons and their anti-gluons, etc. This has all been proven. And so, there has to be an anti-universe composed of all this anti-matter, and there could be many more than one.

And, sadly, or happily, depending on which universe you're talking about, your 'real and true life' is not expressed until you are able to recognize your opposite self as it exists in the 'anti-universe', the place where you exist and everyone else exists, but in the opposite person of yourself and even all your own experiences here.

Because, the facts of my story will show that there is a certain amount of leakage between the two universes and this leakage is what determines your fate. The leakage is performed via the element of 'anti-matter', something we have have only recently discovered, but more importantly is now manufactured in small quantities, thankfully, by the most complex of our scientific instruments like the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) in Switzerland and in America in places like the Stanford Linear Accelerator (SLC), where I once worked.

Of course, this stuff has to be manufactured in extremely small quantities, measured in 'anti-protons' because it takes immense amounts of energy to produce even a few lowly particles of the stuff and because any really big pile of anti-matter could literally make huge chunks of our planet, or even the whole planet simply disappear. Sounds crazy, but it's absolutely true.

In fact, this almost happened to me one day, when I actually made some of this wondrous stuff in the basement of my house. I almost prematurely removed myself to the opposite universe and I probably would have taken several million people with me.

Luckily, my dog started barking just in time before I could see the impact of what was going on in my house. Large portions of it were simply gone, vanished. Large chunks of dirt came out of where house cement foundation once existed. It is spooky, to say the least, when this kind of thing first happens and you realize that you have uncovered one of the greatest mysteries of Science.

So, what follows is what I now believe is the true and accurate depiction of events that took place after I actually contained a goodly portion of anti-matter inside a small but powerful magnetic bottle, the size of a hand-held flashlight. I created my anti-matter ‘Ray-Gun’ from a couple grams of Potassium 40, a radioactive isotope of Potassium and applied this material to a very powerful magnetic field so strong that it blew out all of my circuit-breakers in my house. This was a major problem until I was able to upgrade all of my electrical sub-panels, also inserting a new kind of surge suppressor of my own invention into the circuits.

In reality, I had not achieved anything really new in scientific thought. 'PET' scans (Positron Emission Tomography) of the human brain being the obvious example. This kind of anti-matter scan of the brain has been around for decades and it works extremely well in visually dissecting the most remote regions of the brain to show doctors where any cancer cells might be hiding.

What I did was merely to concentrate the anti-matter, in this case, positrons, and deliver this energy to a target several feet away delivered via a plasma wave that could carry them a distance without being annihilated itself by the anti-matter that it is transporting. This is similar to when we watch television. This kind of reality is made possible by images that are literally surfing a radio wave until they reach your TV antenna and then flow into your receiver, where they are reconstituted into the moving pictures we all enjoy every day.

The plasma delivery waves I use in my ray gun are copies of the plasma produced by the Large Hadron Collider in their recent experiments to uncover the true relationship of the God Particle with the electrons, protons, quarks, gluons, etc. of this world.

If I shot you with the plasma only from my ray gun, you would feel nothing at all as the energy would move completely through you without impacting a single atom of your body, in all probability. When I add the anti-matter, your physical presence, that is, the cells, atoms, molecules that compose your muscle tissues, your brain, your bones, is completely annihilated. That means it is wiped away. It’s gone, vanished, no longer existing in this universe.

But, it’s important to note that when a person is annihilated by my anti-matter ray, or by any encounter with anti-matter, this does not mean that the targeted person is killed or harmed in any way. The annihilated material of body, mind and spirit cannot be destroyed, as no energy or matter is ever destroyed according to the greatest of all the laws of Physics. It can only be conserved in the biggest recycling of stuff known anywhere.

What happens when one encounters anti-matter is truly the greatest wonder in scientific history. Because of the first and foremost law in Physics, the Conservation of Energy, the anti-matter rays of this universe do not do any damage to any living thing, the interaction between your matter and anti-matter can only result in your being removed from one universe and into another and without losing a single atom of your entire physical presence. It is really an exchange of energy from one time-line in this universe to a different time line of another.

In other words, no lasting harm comes from this type of encounter. One’s life is merely transported to a different reality, a different time line, still existing here on planet Earth, occupying the same exact space and time, but experiencing an opposite set of events, than the previous ones you would have known.

As you will soon see.

Positrons, or positively charged electrons, just one form of anti-matter, it turns out are fairly prevalent in the universe and are easily manufactured. It only takes a little energy to bring them out. When freed, they begin to construct an exactly opposite kind of universe because they come from an opposite type of universe.

As such, they are ambassadors that can redefine one’s reality along the time-lines of an opposite kind of universe from the one you had lived in previously. The transition is seamless because you have no memory of the previous universe since memory also has been annihilated in the transition. The complete and total memory loss means that, no matter which universe you are assigned to, it always seems like the ‘normal’ one for you simply because you have no recollection of anything different.

Therefore, as you will learn in my story, we had to be careful with what we unleashed when we unleashed this opposite kind of energy. Sometimes, the truth is antithetical (as revealed by anti-matter) to one’s biases, prejudices and commonly held beliefs. Over time, this can become disconcerting and confusing to the subject of the altered universe and they may never truly adapt.

As soon as I was able to capture a couple of milligrams of anti-electrons or 'positrons', positively charged electrons, which also have the opposite spin of ordinary negatively charged electrons, I cobbled together a way to contain them all inside a magnetic bottle, to focus them and then to shoot them out of the bottle with the use of a device similar to what almost every household on the planet has in the engine, the ‘magnetron’ of their Micro-wave ovens.

It took me nearly one full year to get all of the technology down to the size of an ordinary hand-held flashlight. When I did it, I took it out for a test drive. In my lab, I made small insects disappear. I then graduated to a rat that I caught in the back yard. It took only a few fractions of a second to make it go away completely. It made the rat's cage disappear. The whole animal was gone and I also lost some brick work underneath the cage that I had to replace. But all in all, a good first test. For all you animal lovers out there, remember, the rat had not been killed. He was merely transported somewhere else in the universe.

I was elated, of course. But the next test would be far more difficult. I would try to sell my technology to the Pentagon. They would be the only obvious place to take it. I was, and still am, patriotic enough to believe that I owed this to my country. If my country had the very powerful, almost unfair advantage to annihilate anything in an enemy's nuclear arsenal quietly and elegantly as this device promised, the United States would be on top of the world, literally.

Of course, the Pentagon folks would have to find ways to enhance the power of the invention. My small hand-held device was effective over a range of a few meters only. To be really effective, it would have to be powerful enough to impact a target over several hundred feet, and later over miles.

My great frustration, of course, would be finding someone at the Pentagon who would take me seriously. I don't know if you've ever tried to call the world’s most powerful military force’s headquarters on the phone, but my advice is don't waste your time. I’m sure they know about telephones, computers and email, but they don't seem to want to use them much. At least not in my experience.

The receptionist at the main number for the Pentagon asks you who you want to talk to.

I thought, 'Well, we're off to a good start.'

But, when I tell her that I want to speak to the Secretary of Defense General Tony - and I'm not making this up - 'The Tiger' McCarthy, she tells me that he doesn't take outside phone calls.

"OK, so can you give me his email address?" I ask in return.

"No, that information is not public," she says, officiously.

"OK, so, listen to me please Ma'am," I continue. "I have a new invention that could change the balance of power for the entire world and the Secretary of Defense is going to want to see it. So, now can you connect me with the Secretary?"

"No, I can't sir. Perhaps you should go through your Senator or Congressman," she replies.

"Thanks, Ma'am. You're a true patriot," and I hang up on her.

I had already gone the route of my Senator. They wanted me to send them something in writing, which I had already done and heard nothing back from them. When I called my Senator's offices, they would inform me that the Senator was very busy, but that she was aware of my call and every time I called back to see if she would meet with me, I would get a different excuse. They obviously thought of me as some kind of nut-job.

I made many more attempts to arrange a demonstration of my invention and each time got a different kind of run-around. I could not believe it. But, I’ll give them credit, they’re good at the run-around thing.

I thought of sending them a video of how the device worked on small critters, but I just knew that they wouldn't believe that either, even if they took the time to view it.

Finally, after careful consideration, I realized that I would have to take matters and anti-matters into my own hands. I would pay the Pentagon a visit and give them all a very live demonstration.

It took me a few more weeks to bring the power levels up to the point where I could annihilate a small structure nearby. I made this level of power my target because I believed that anything less would simply not impress them enough and I could spend the rest of my life in jail if I failed to impress. I would have to give them something out of their own play book - the 'shock and awe', they were used to delivering. This time, they would have to take some.

Fully prepared and having ingested an entire pot of coffee, I set out on the train to D.C. on a lovely September morning with my 'flashlight' dangling from my belt. Of course, though it looked exactly like a flashlight, it did not project any kind of light but it was something that worked in a flash to be sure. It was a nice enough and innocent enough looking device so that it attracted little attention.

Even though I tried to hide it under my leather jacket, the device so prominently protruding from my belt made me look like a train maintenance worker, maybe even a conductor. I figured this out after more than a few people came up to me and asked me for the time that we would arrive at the station in D.C.

At first, I tried to laugh them off, making a joke of their questions too many times and then just gave up after about the umpteenth request.

"We're right on schedule, Ma'am," I would tell them with a smile while pointing at my watch, or the place on my wrist where a watch would be strapped to, if I wore one, which I never did.

It was annoying but it whiled away the time nicely and took my mind off of the considerable apprehension that was building in my chest.

When we finally arrived in D.C., I called for an Uber. When the driver saw our eventual destination on his navigation app, he looks back at me and asks if I am in the military.

I tell him that I am not.

He persists. Probably because of the destination, I’m convinced he's imagining that I am a CIA or FBI agent. I was just glad that he hadn't pegged me for a train conductor.

I answer all of his questions as succinctly as possible and when we finally arrive at the drop off area for the Pentagon, I give him a nice big tip. After all, I might not be returning to polite society after I pull off what I was hoping to pull off. I might never be seen or heard from again.

As the Uber drives off, I could see the guard at the gate come to some semblance of attention or were they just stretching, I can't be sure, but I can tell that they are totally aware of my presence watching from their tidy little guard shack checkpoint, the only access to the Pentagon’s impressive main gate.

I strive not to over-think it and quickly draw the flashlight from the holster on my belt and then shout for them to move away from the guard house.

They react by standing frozen in place by the humorous nature of my demand. I yell my instructions again, as loud as my voice will carry, taking two or three quick steps toward the shack.

They finally do what I hoped they would do. They draw their guns and point them in my direction.

With a very shaky hand, I point the flashlight at the officer's weapons and squeeze off a silent blast of anti-matter at their hands. Their weapons instantly vanish. I am quite relieved that it doesn't take any visible portion of their hands with it.

They’re not laughing any more.

Waving the flashlight around, I motion for the two guards to step away from their little house and to open the iron gate.

Their eyes wide and quite visibly shaken, they comply.

I point the flashlight at their little guard house, now empty and squeeze off my third blast of anti-matter. Much to my great relief, the entire guard house vanishes quickly and silently into nothingness right before all three pairs of eyes. Behind me, I can hear someone gasp out loud.

A young woman who had been dropped off immediately after me has just witnessed the events and grabs her phone and calls in an emergency.

I calmly stride up to one of the guards and I hand him my flashlight.

It takes him several seconds to get over the shock and then to understand what I was asking him to do.

"Whatever you do, do not squeeze the back end of this device. That's the trigger and you have already seen how it works. OK?" I tell him with what I hope is a disarming, though nervous smile.

Gradually, the two soldiers begin to come back to life, the color back in their faces. They grab me by the arms, holding me in place while one of them gets on the phone to call for backup.

"I'm here to see the Secretary of Defense. I believe I've done enough to deserve a meeting," I inform them as calmly and coolly as possible.

The young woman, who is an unwilling witness, dressed very professionally is also on her phone to what I expect is ‘911’. From either the young woman’s call or the guards calling, several squad cars screech into a full stop by the gate. Five or six large uniforms emerge and greet me and judge me somewhat harshly. They point their guns at my head and shout all kinds of obscenities at me, even ordering me to the ground. They treat me like a terrorist, and it suddenly dawns on me that they have every right to believe that.

"Look, I had to announce my presence this way. You guys apparently don't take outside phone calls from people like me. I tried every other way to get your attention but I could see it was going to take months, and we may not have months," I ramble on to anyone who will listen, my face squashed onto the concrete.

I don't think they care much about what I am trying to tell them. They quickly zip-tie my hands behind my back, lift me off the ground and walk me to their car and shove me into the backseat with gusto.

I don't know why I couldn't foresee events unfolding this way. Of course they would not take me directly to the Secretary of Defense. I was mortified that I had not thought this through at least a little better. Before seeing anyone in authority, I would have to be thoroughly examined and it was going to be embarrassing to be sure.

As soon as they have me safely caged in the private security office off of the main complex, the goon squad comes in and begins asking all manner of questions, including my name, address, occupation.

I just keep repeating that I had invented a new kind of weapon and wanted to give them a demonstration, was frustrated by their lack of interest and therefore had to take matters into my own hands.

I tell them over and over that they should just watch the security camera videos to see how my invention could revolutionize warfare. I meant no harm and I’m certainly not a terrorist. I’m a patriot.

None of them seem to be listening to me at all. They have my flashlight sitting on the desk next to them and so I know that this is my only hope. Sooner or later, they’re going to connect what happened to my device and my willingness to show them how it works without risking any lives, other than my own.

The goons just keep threatening me with life in prison if I don’t talk, which, sadly, is exactly what I’m doing.

Then, I realize that they’re just going by the interrogation manual that they were forced to learn years ago in the early days of ‘goon squad’ training.

They’re merely going by the book that instructs how to keep repeating the same questions over and over until you get the answers you want to hear and not much more. It’s the kind of training manual that makes you wonder who got the contract to write the damn thing in the first place. And, the answer is usually - Mr. Rogers. It makes me question how we won any wars at all. It goes to show just how incompetent the enemy must be, whoever they are.

After a couple hours of this senseless back and forth, I think I may be having some impact because two very impressive looking young fellows arrive in dark suits and highly polished shoes. Their ties are perfectly matched to their suits and shirts.

I’m guessing that by now someone has looked at the security camera videos and I’ve made my point at last.

"You idiots, how many times do I have to tell you. I am not a terrorist. Would a terrorist show up here in an Uber and then give you a demonstration of a new invention that I then turn over to you willingly and peacefully?" I ask again, hoping the dark suit guys, quiet up to now are a little brighter in the mental acuity area of the brain.

I direct my plea at either one of them.

"Didn't any of you bother to watch the security camera videos by now?"

My tormentors cease their steady stream of questions and defer to the two men still silently standing in the back of the room. One of them puts his hand to his ear. He seems to be in communication with someone above him.

"All right, that's enough," the square jawed suit says quietly, directing it at the goons by my side.

"Yes, we’ve watched the videos. The Secretary will see you now," his partner interjects, soberly.

"Well, it's about time," I say, regaining some dignity and shaking off the totally unfounded and extremely unpleasant past few hours as best as I can.

The pair of agents from I don’t know where - escort me out of the interrogation room and out into a long corridor that seems to go off into eternity.

Glad to be out of the disgusting little room, I march along happily between them, trying to lighten the mood.

"So, how do you know the Secretary will see me now?" I ask, grasping at anything to break the awkward silence.

The one in front of me turns to look back at me with a cold stare which I take as clear instructions to refrain from any more questions.

Suddenly, I'm very thirsty, maybe even hungry, but I know enough not to ask about food at this point.

After quite a long and fatiguing march, we arrive at what appears to be a large conference room somewhere in the center of the complex.

Standing at attention in front of the imposing double doors are two very colorful uniforms, I suspect to be connected to the U.S. Marines or Seals due to the very jaunty red berets dangling precariously from their heads.

We stop at the doors as the Marines come to rigid attention.

"OK, you're on," my forward guide states succinctly.

The pair of suits suddenly turn and then depart down the hall without further comment or ceremony and leave me standing in front of the two austere figures.

Surprisingly, they salute me and then grasp the door handles and very slowly swing the doors open and signal for me to enter.

I soon notice a group of approximately twenty to thirty men and women huddled around a figure in their midst who appears to be doing most of the talking.

Upon seeing me at the doorway, the group opens up to reveal a man who I know from recent news coverage to be the Secretary of Defense.

'Finally, Looks like I got your attention,' I say defiantly to myself as I enter the room.

The Secretary, a tall, handsome black man, is seated at a long conference table with his minions standing around in a semi-circle, with many pairs of eyes zeroed in on me. Someone has delivered my flashlight to the room and I spot the Secretary place it on the table in front of us.

It’s been several minutes and he, nor anyone else has said a word.

A man in his fifties or sixties, wearing what was once a clean white lab coat, his eyes glaring at me, pushes himself out of the crowd. He's short and stubby. His hair is disheveled, he’s sporting a grayish stubble all over his face, and he looks as though he's been working for several days around the clock without a break of any kind. The others in the group seem to defer to him.

"So, this is the device he shot at the guard house?" He asks.

The secretary confirms it, looking at me as if I'm a goat or a sheep that is about to be sacrificed at the altar.

I'm noticing the group slowly move away from the man in the lab coat as if they know what's coming. I'm getting a little nervous for some reason.

The lab coated gentleman picks up the flashlight and begins to examine it closely.

"You told the guards not to touch the back of this thing because that's where the trigger is, right?" He asks me.

"Yes, that's correct," I reply, politely.

"Oh yes, I see," he says.

He points the flashlight squarely in my direction and sneers at me in a way I’m sure is straight out of the comic books. It’s almost funny.

"Don't point that at me ...." I'm about to say 'Please', when suddenly I feel a very unique sensation beginning to overwhelm me from the tips of my fingers and toes all the way to the ends of the hair on my head, rolling across me like the most powerful thunder clap in history. It comes in ever-increasing waves of energy and it's all coming from my anti-matter ray gun.

I quickly realize that this asshole has shot me with my own gun. I’m simply his guinea pig.

I'm even more shocked to find that there is no pain, only incredible angst to be leaving the universe that I know and love so much.

Struggling to stay calm, I try to confirm my new status. I move my hands directly in front of what would have been my face. I can see and feel nothing. I no longer have any arms or legs or even a face. Yet, I can observe the man in the lab coat walk rapidly over to where I was a minute ago and he too waves his hands through the space where I was just standing, demonstrating my complete and total absence from my previous life in his universe.

I can feel the hot air go out of the crowd as they begin to realize what has just transpired right before their eyes.

I can’t hear them, but I can see them talking as a group as he wanders slowly back into their midst. For the most part, they all appear to be in total shock and surprise, perhaps wonderment. I hear someone quietly sobbing in the background, probably out of fear. It can’t be sympathy for me, a total stranger, a would-be terrorist.

The Secretary appears to be asking his advisors about something.

I wiggle some of what used to be arm and leg muscles to gain more information about where I am. It's not an unpleasant place. I definitely don't feel dead. There are no indications that I'm anywhere other than where I have been except everything appears to me like a photographic negative at this point. And everything is reversed like a mirror image of the scene.

The people I had noticed to the right of the Secretary are now on the left. The people who had been on the left are now on the right but still in exactly the same order. And now everything that was white is now black and everything that was black is now white.

And it's windy which I find very strange since I last remember being inside a large and well air-conditioned meeting room. Somehow I manage to turn myself around to see that I am standing outside the building in a vast meadow of purple saw-grass blowing in the force of the wind, but I'm sure it's not ordinary saw-grass. It's something else and I'm also under water, yet it's not water. It's something like water, yet crazily enough the opposite of water. And there's also a new kind of sound accompaniment or a new kind of music that is not really sound or music, but waves of something just as lovely, but definitely not meant for human ears.

I spot a number of shadowy figures slowly moving towards me from the waving grass. My scientific curiosity has overwhelmed my natural tendency toward fear. I want to meet these people very badly. I have something very important to share with them, but I don’t know exactly what it is.

Then, behind me, I can see the lab coated man in the distance mention something about me which I infer only because he’s pointing to the place where I stood just minutes ago.

He removes what looks to be a platinum writing implement, a plain looking, although rather large pen, from his shirt pocket and aims it in my direction. I have not moved a step because I'm not sure I even have things that can take a step in this "anti-place” and “anti-time”.

He clicks a button on the back of the pen with his thumb and suddenly I can feel the same waves of energy that hit me from my flashlight reverse themselves. I'm literally being painted back into the scene in the conference room while all the other characters in the scene are coming back from their negative and reversed imagery into the world that I once knew and took for granted.

I can breathe again. I wave my hands under my face and am quite relieved to see them and feel them once again.

"I bet you didn't see that coming?" The Secretary finally speaks.

"Yes, that's for sure," I readily and happily agree, because I had not.

Apparently, they, this group of Pentagon scientists, were way ahead of me.

And it was shocking.

Apparently, and completely independently of me, they had devised the anti-anti-matter gun.

And I was living proof that it worked.

# # #

What happened to me at the Pentagon is my first taste of the real ‘Reality’, the kind of reality where the switch between universes can take place so extremely smoothly and seamlessly, indeed so painlessly, that we don’t even notice the switch. For some of us, I believe this kind of thing happens several times a day, or maybe even several times a minute.

However, most of us are lucky to have it happen only once or twice in our lifetimes. Most of us don’t know the switch has occurred until years down the road when it’s too late to do anything about it.

So, this could have taken place much later in this story, or much earlier. Looking back at everything that has happened, I just can’t be sure. But, I have decided to connect the dots, to paint in some of the remaining swatches of it here and now for whatever purposes it may serve. To be sure, I may have only dreamed it, and yet somehow I know it to be a true life event of mine, but in which universe it occurred, I still don’t know for sure. You’re going to help me make that determination in the end.

# # #

So, I find myself at her house in Honolulu. She's in her art studio and working on a new water color painting comfortably installed on her easel at eye level. So far, she has only sketched in what appears to be a doorway, slightly ajar, opening to blackness, in the middle of the canvas.

In the years since I had known her, she had become a very competent water colorist. She had not achieved the level of artistry that would make her famous or even successful in the financial sense of the word. But, her paintings were studied, professional, compositionally clean and worth a look.

I had seen her paintings at a public gallery showing. I went at a time when I thought the odds very low of her being there. I had always been convinced, perhaps mistakenly, that I had left something of myself buried deep inside her soul, but her paintings certainly didn’t show it, and this was discouraging.

The doorway delicately etched onto her canvas closely resembles a door that I had seen somewhere before. I wake up almost every morning, thinking about this doorway and where it could lead.

But, it's just a doorway floating there without a building or anything else attached to it.

"So, it's a doorway into what?" I would ask her, in my dreams.

"So, you tell me," She replies, and I'm positive that at this particular moment she is asking my opinion about whether or not we will ever be important to each other again.

I remember this event quite clearly because I believe it is the moment that she realizes that she will leave me. It’s a door that I was hoping would lead to our very happy future in the universe in which I know and love her very much and she loves me. To her, it is purely a doorway into a different universe, one where I simply do not matter to her in any significant way. And she wants me to know that.

It’s also the universe in which she is to be married to another man. It’s just three months after she dumps me. She must have met him days or weeks after leaving me. I always thought it was too fast for her to find this kind of intensity in her life again, but she amazes me at how fast it happens for her, and how long she makes it last. Mazeltoff!

In first notifying me that we were over, she had given me a verbal ‘thirty-day notice’ as if I were her landlord and this was part of our lease agreement. It was at the airport. I have never felt good in an airport ever since.

Cut - that’s a take,’ the movie Director of my life yells.

Que credits’ - movie over.

We live happily ever after.

Except it doesn’t happen that way. In this life line, I don’t have the courage to follow in Dustin Hoffman’s footsteps. My thirty days notice over, she does marry the other guy.

I’m a great big fat loser.

The universe goes off into a tail spin. The rest is history.

# # #

I’m standing again directly in front of Secretary of Defense Tony 'The Tiger' McCarthy and his group. He seems to be deep inside his mind, quietly weighing what to do with me.

He orders the rest of the group to go back to their duties. Lab coat guy remains behind along with the Secretary's assistant, a very pretty and regal black woman carefully gripping her smart phone, tablet, whatever it is.

"All right, Mr. Coppersmith, I think you may want to consider working for us now," General McCarthy suggests, gesturing toward the stubby smirking man in the lab coat who had so rudely introduced me to my own gun.

"Oh, yes, you'd be working with Dr. Magnitsky here," the Secretary continues.

"I don't think you've received any formal funding for your work, have you?" Magnitsky asks.

"No, I have not," I reply.

"So, then, how did you miniaturize your ray on a shoestring budget?" Magnitsky asks, picking up my flashlight in his hands again, examining it carefully.

"Nano-particles," I reply succinctly.

"Hmm," Magnitsky mumbles looking directly at the Secretary.

There follows a long awkward pause in the conversation. I look over at the Secretary's pretty assistant who smiles back at me seductively. She’s stunning. I have to take a deep breath or two.

"Assuming I accepted your job offer, what would I be doing?" I ask, still a bit unnerved from my experience in the anti-verse.

"You're the only person who has a working and a rather practical knowledge of the matter and anti-matter involved, but more than that, you're now the only traveler who made it into another universe - a very special astronaut in a way - who has traveled into the Anti-Universe and come back safely," Dr. Magnitsky replies, effusively, hands in his pockets.

"So, I'd be your guinea pig? You want me to continue to get shot with anti-matter?" I ask, both excited and alarmed.

"I don't think you should characterize it that way," the Secretary states.

"Oh, I see, so there's a better way to characterize it?" I ask, humbly.

"Well, let's see, Rikardo, you can explain it to him better than I can," Tiger says sluffing it off to Magnitsky.

"Mr. Coppersmith, we've been following your progress carefully without alerting you. We have read your letters. We didn't respond to you because we weren't really sure how we could use you. Then, when you showed up here today and sort of demanded our attention, we had a very detailed, though rushed conference while you were in detention over there and we finally realized where our shortcomings lay and what we could do about them," Magnitsky begins.

He moves around to the seat next to the Secretary's and sits down and motions for me to pull up a chair and join them.

I comply and find myself seated just a few feet away on the other side of the table.

General McCarthy’s very lovely and exotic assistant, whom I will learn later is named Michaela, is busy thumbing around on her device and raises her eyes occasionally from her screen to send very friendly and conducive radiation my way.

"So, what I am going to tell you is highly classified and you must promise not to discuss anything you learn here today with anyone. Do I have your promise" Magnitsky asks.

"Sure, but I don't have any kind of security clearance, do I?" I reply.

"Your ray gun is sufficient for that, I would say, right, Mr. Secretary?" Magnitsky says looking over his shoulder.

"Yes, I'd say so," the Secretary responds quietly.

He motions to Michaela to do something on her device which I assume relates to an instant security waiver for me.

Magnitsky gets a nod from Michaela granting him permission to continue talking along these lines.

"Look, here it is. We have reason to believe that the Russians and Chinese, and possibly even the terrorists have some kind of anti-matter capability. We have never come up against a level of secrecy such as this before, so we are unable to verify our suspicions, but certain recent events have made it a top priority to find out exactly how much they know about our program and what kind of advances they have made," Magnitsky continues.

"It's this country's greatest threat," Tiger McCarthy adds calmly in support.

"I still don't know what you're getting at. What would I be able to do about all of that kind of thing? I'm no spy," I state as forcefully as I can.

"We have no idea what you'd be able to accomplish. This is all new to us as too. Like I said, you're the first human being that we've been able to send into another universe and then bring him back," Magnitsky says, leaning forward in his chair just slightly, but enough for me to notice.

"So that would imply that you've shot this thing at other people? You tried to inject them into the anti-verse, but they didn't come back?" I ask as an educated guess.

"Yes," Magnitsky replies.

"How many?" I ask.

"About a dozen," Tiger replies with what appears to be a great sadness.

I will learn later that one of their failed missions is Tiger's son, Sterling, injected as one of their first tests of the system about a year prior, and who has never been seen or heard from since.

"What do you think the difference was with me? Why did it succeed this time," I wonder out loud, my mind racing.

I'm watching them both carefully.

"We've had some difficulty in the focusing aperture of our beam. We lose focusing energy by the square of the distance to the target. So, we never know how much or how little to use. Until your device came into our possession, we had no potential solution. You seem to have solved the problem nicely. We need your expertise and we're willing to pay you handsomely for it," Magnitsky responds, finally.

"So, it was my plasma carrier wave that makes the difference, yet it was your beam that brought me back. I had never even conceived of bringing something back. How does that work?" I ponder, truly impressed.

"Turns out that reversing anti-matter is no problem once you've gotten something converted into anti-matter, it's just a matter of changing the polarity of a few common threads and it works just like a magnetic field. We don't know exactly how a magnet gets the magnetism, but that doesn’t keep us from producing electricity with it,” Magnitsky replies, somewhat crudely, but I follow the logic to a certain degree.

"OK, I will need a government credit card with no limit on it. Whenever I need something, I want to purchase it without any bureaucratic bullshit," I begin, cutting to the chase.

"Granted. Anything else?" Tiger says, apparently delighted to get things moving along.

"I need ten million dollars in my bank account after I complete the mission, whatever that is, or at the end of one year, even if it fails. I need to leave my family with some financial security. All of these years of developing my ideas on my own required them to sacrifice a great deal," I state, crossing my fingers behind my back.

"Granted. Anything else," Tiger again meets my demands without any hesitation or counter offers.

'They must be desperate', I think to myself, concluding greedily that I should have asked for more.

"Then, I accept. So, let's make sure we're all on the same page here today. I hear you saying that you'll pay me with an unlimited credit card during my tenure with this agency and at the end of one year from today or upon the completion of my role in the project, you will deposit ten million bucks, tax-free by the way, into my account," I say, rising to my feet, hoping to catch them in the enthusiasm of the moment.

To my great surprise, the two men join me in standing up. Michaela, busily makes notes, is already standing behind them and is gently bumped off balance by her boss, who has to apologize.

I notice, or perhaps we all notice how gracefully she prevents herself from falling.

"Agreed. That’s acceptable to me. Michaela, make a note of the arrangement we just agreed to," Tiger fires off towards his assistant while pumping my hand energetically.

Magnitsky finally smiles and also shakes my hand in agreement.

"When do we begin?" I ask, enthusiastically.

"Right now, actually," Magnitsky says.

Maintaining his smirky little smile, he picks up my flashlight and aims it directly at me once again, searching for the trigger, finds it and fires at me it again.

"Oh, no, not now?" I’m about to yell.

Before I can complete the sentence, I feel the same tingling sensation as before while everything begins to untangle from the 'real world'. I find myself wandering around in an empty conference room.

I seem to be standing in the exact same place as I was when we made the agreement, but at a different time and place. Everyone is gone. I’m not sure who they were, but I know they’re gone. It’s my best guess that I’m in the anti-verse again, except this time, it’s different.

"I should have asked for more money," I say to myself, wondering if anyone has heard me.

The doors swing open behind me. I turn to find a large group of young people, boys and girls, flooding into the large room. There’s a huge display screen on the wall just overhead and a computer on the table that I know to be mine. There’s a slide presentation loaded up on the computer connected to the screen on the wall. It reads, “Particle Physics 101 - Stanford University Physics Department: Professor Jack Coppersmith, Course 405a”.

The kids are taking to the chairs all around the room. They look at me as though I’m important somehow. Then, it dawns on me that I’m a presenter here and these are my students. I’m here to teach them something.

But what?

I’m a bit nervous, but gradually the nerves give way to a feeling of confidence. As I stare back at them, they all start to settle in their seats and stop the chatter.

I am supposed to say something.

Well, if you have not stumbled into the wrong room, we’re going to talk about the latest research in particle physics today,” I begin, gesturing to the slide in front of the class.

I can feel their eyes drilling right through me. They’re all so young. It reminds me of when I was that young and carefree when all I had to do was keep the mind open and let it all flood in.

I think about advancing the presentation to the next slide and my computer obeys by displaying a diagram I’ve labeled as ‘The History Of The Known and Unknown As Far We Know It’.

You’ve all heard about and possibly even studied The Big Bang, right? Let’s have a show of hands. How many of you know what the Big Bang is?” I ask.

A couple hundred hands go up.

So, that’s good. Most of you, I see,” I’m rolling.

Most of the class has settled in by now. They seem bright and eager and willing to give me a shot.

OK, and at this point in the evolution of the universe there isn’t much going on for hundreds of thousands of years. Everything is simply too hot. Then, as things gradually begin to cool down, Goldilocks arrives and she says, ‘This porridge is too hot,’ tasting the particle soup all around her. Then, she says, ‘This porridge is too cold’, tasting the particle soup a couple million years down the road. Then, she says, ‘This porridge is just right’, tasting the God Particles that are the first ingredient of this amazing soup,” I continue, which I can see has confused quite a large bunch of students, mostly seated in the front rows, probably the brightest of them.

The display has a picture of the Goldilocks fairy tale where she is sitting in the home of the three bears and is tasting their porridge that they left out in the open while they take a walk.

One of them raises his hand furiously.

Why are you talking to us about fairy tales? This is a Physics class, isn’t it?” He asks, boldly enough to sustain a few nicely exaggerated guffaws around the room.

You get an ‘A’, Mr. Hicks,” I reply. I have no idea how I know his name.

My name is Jenkys,” he replies.

Whatever your name is, you’re correct. This is a Physics class and if you will simply shut up and listen, great intellectual breakthroughs may occur for some of you today. Sadly, perhaps not for you, Mr. Hicks,” I return, scornfully.

Luckily, I can hear a healthy amount of chuckling around the room, this time at his expense and not mine.

Yes, sir. Sorry,” Jenkys says, remorsefully.

The rest of my lecture that day has been recorded and replayed all around the world so many times that I’m not sure if I really need to tell you the rest.

I tell the students, frequently using well-known fairy-tale characters, all about how the God particles are the creators of the electrons, protons, quarks, gluons, muons, and even the anti-electrons, the anti-protons, the anti-quarks, anti-gluons, etc. I show them how it all happens in the blink of an eye.

What are God particles?” A student in the front row, asks without raising his hand.

All right, so in sections ‘A’ and ‘B’ in the Fall and Winter semesters, which are pre-requisites to this class, by the way, I explained everything about the God Particle, so I am not going to go over that material here,” I respond.

Suffice it to say for those who may have missed it, the God particles are the first things created by the Big Bang, and therefore, they also create everything else. This is why they are called the ‘God Particles’,” I finish answering his question.

He appears satisfied for now.

Next, I show them the data for the phenomenon known as ‘Entangled Electrons’.

I show them how all these fundamental particles wherever they are in the universe also know about each other, the same way that we know that we are part of the human race which implies that we know at least a little something about the rest of us on the planet.

You all know from basic physics that electrons, at least in our universe have a negative charge and a spin in one direction. But, we also know that when two electrons become ‘entangled’, one electron will reverse its spin when its partner reverses his or her spin. Now, I ask you, how does one electron in this partnership know about the condition of its friend, room-mate, soul-mate, or whatever it is that has them so entangled?” I ask them.

No one seems to have an answer.

OK, but it gets better, anti-matter can be affected by an electron that has a positive charge and the opposite spin. When an anti-electron or positron comes into contact with an electron, they both mutually annihilate each other. So, what happens if two anti-matter electrons become entangled? Surely, if two electrons in our universe can become entangled, then it’s very likely that two anti-electrons or positrons can become entangled as well in the other universe,” I say, pausing to see how many I’ve lost.

Now, I ask you, when two entangled anti-electrons become entangled, they are aware of each other because they will exhibit the same properties of reversing their spin when their partner reverses its spin. Do you follow? So, what would you call this kind of awareness in the opposite universe?” I query.

There is no answer so I must answer it myself as I knew I would.

The answer to this question is that whatever their awareness in the opposite universe, it probably means that there exists somewhere the opposite type of reality that we’re experiencing here,” I suggest.

This results in a stunned silence again.

Then, finally.

Does this mean that in the other universe the students know more than the teachers and so we have to uneducate them to understand less?” Mr. Jenkys asks.

Good question, Mr. Jenkys. And, I don’t know. It could be exactly like that over there. I only know, or believe I know that this possibility exists. We now have overwhelming data to support this theory,” I share.

I would only hope that throughout your lives that some of you go on to test this theory of mine as many times as you dare, because the more testing along these lines, the more you will find the greatest adventures of your lives,” I conclude, hoping to get their full appreciation here.

I go on to show them how the process of the most massive communication in history is still ongoing even today. In short, I’m painting the largest and most massive scene for them that I can in such little time and hope for the best.

Then, I decide to hand it all over to them on a silver platter. I complete the lecture with a detailed diagram of the human brain. I explain how the human brain is composed of all of the materials that the God Particle created billions of years prior to our arrival on the scene. I point out how the neurons of the brain use electrical energy the same way that a computer uses it, except in a much more efficient but also more creative way.

I go on to show them how their own brains are connected to everything else by the energetic motions of these little things like electrons, protons, quarks, muons, gluons, and so forth. I show them how the universe is constantly under construction by the entire summation of all of the billions upon billions of these tiny building blocks, some of them in one universe and some planted firmly in the other.

Then, without going into the biology of the brain much more, I show them how their brains are all just clumps of concentrated universal porridge, all connected to the matter and anti-matter fields of this universe and all possible universes. I’m hoping they’re getting it. For college kids, they sure look young.

Then, I show them the process, in detail, of their own growth from a single cell in their mother’s womb into the amazing and astounding creatures that they have become today with countless billions of cells acting in concert to bring them in full contact with everything else.

The electron and anti-electron, the reality and anti-realities of your lives will proceed to happen all around you until you either die completely blind to the real truth as to why you were here, or you will understand it all prior to that inevitable demise we all must endure at some point in time. It’s going to be one or the other,” I conclude.

I’m brave enough to believe I have proven to them all of life’s purpose in one simple but over-arching Physics lecture. From start to finish it will last just slightly over two hours. I’m a sweaty mess by the end of it.

At first, to my chagrin, they don’t appear to be impressed at all.

Then, I notice the glimmer of realization coming from small groups scattered around the room whispering and taunting each other.

Soon, I’m warming up to the notion that it’s time to drop the bomb on them.

Anti-matter is created at the same time as regular matter and it’s dispersed all over the universe in random clumps. There’s not so much that it can annihilate everything, and it’s not too little that it won’t make significant contributions to your lives. Something has sprinkled just the right amount of the fairy dust all over the universe, so that there is no avoiding it either,” I conclude.

Just like the Goldilocks zone,” Hicks or Jenkys, interjects in a final epiphany.

Just like that,” I agree.

So, you’re saying that whenever something awful is happening to us, it’s due to the anti-matter in the area that we’re living in,” a male student behind Jenkys asks.

That’s correct, Mr. Parker. However, I hope you will realize someday that the alternative reality may not be that ‘Bad’ for you at all. It may even be the thing that was supposed to happen to you,” I reply.

So, is there anti-matter flying around us all right here, right now?” he counters.

You can count on it,” I reply, smiling.

I think they’re getting it.

At their young ages and stages, however, I doubt they are ready for that big a step, but I’m encouraged to plow ahead, anyway.

Think about it this way. Everything is so perfectly settled by now, some fourteen billion years after the Big Bang, that something has to be around to shake things up every once in a while. If not, we’re all robots, automatic life forms who never suffer any problems and therefore without any incentives to improve,” I maintain.

So, anti-matter is out there to shake things up?” Another female student in the front row speaks out.

Maybe. It could be. It could also be for the purpose of total decay and dissolution. There’s not enough evidence to know either way for certain, as far as I’m concerned, but I’m also convinced that there is a force that is watching the entire play of things. It’s keeping score, or its a referee, and I don’t know which,” I tell her, hoping this will spark even more questions.

It does not. The section is over. Some silent universal alarm system has informed them that they have other classes to attend now.

They start to shuffle around in their chairs and look to me for a formal dismissal.

OK, that’s all for today. Get out there and make your parents proud,” I announce, wiping the screen with a wave of my hand.

I never expected a standing ovation and get none, but a couple of hand-shakes, a few kind words on their way out would have been nice.

I’m alone again. The short and stubby Magnitsky enters the room. It’s changed back to the conference room in the Pentagon, I think.

He puts his pen back in his pocket.

You will come with me, please,” he says.

# # #

When I made the decision to bring my invention to Washington, I was certain that nothing would be known about it, at all. Nothing had been published anywhere about anti-anti-matter anywhere. There was no indication in my own research that such a thing could exist. I was never even one hundred percent sure of the effects of anti-matter on human life, let alone its opposite, until I just did it.

To this day, I keep asking myself if I had known that there could be an antidote to anti-matter, would I have continued looking to create a ray based on the latter or on the former?

The answer is moot at any rate because someone else took the opposite path from my own, which I find interesting to say the least. But, the fact that I am so far the sole recipient of this crazy reversal of fortunes is rather astounding to me.

But, I digress.

Magnitsky silently leads me out of the conference room, down through several connecting hallways and then outside to a private driveway where a black SUV is waiting.

Have you ever been in the White House?” Magnitsky asks me as he directs me into the vehicle.

No, I have not. I suppose you have?” I reply.

Oh yes. With all of the terrorists prowling around as they are these days, the Secretary and myself are called over there almost daily,” he informs me.

I see, and so that’s where we’re going?” I ask.

Yes, of course. Surely you didn’t think you could avoid meeting the President after what you have accomplished?” Magnitsky replies.

I guess not,” I return.

A few minutes later, we’ve arrived at the front security gate of the White House. The two men and two women standing at the gate bend over to peer in the car window. Recognizing Rikardo Magnitsky, they open the gate to allow us entry onto the White House driveway where we roll on up to the famous rear portico and entry.

I know the President of the United States is a former and highly successful used car salesman from Dallas, Texas, and being the great talker that he is, even I have been impressed by his ability to make the craziest ideas in the world seem tolerable.

When we arrive at the door to the Oval Office, Magnitsky grabs the door knob and bars me with his arm, stopping us both in our tracks. He looks at me with great concern on his face.

President Pulliam does not do well with all of the heavy Science stuff. Just keep it simple for him and you’ll be his friend for life,” Magnitsky warns.

I’ll try,” I say, as amicably as I can.

When we enter the room, the President is seated at the famous ‘Resolute Desk’ and on the phone. He waves us in. It sounds to me that he is talking to someone about a boat that he is trying to purchase or have repaired, I don’t know which.

There are a handful of people, extremely well dressed and quaffed quietly seated around the room, mostly resting on the two sofas facing each other in the center of the room taking us in. About half of them are wearing various military uniforms so I can tell by all of the colored bars on their shoulders and lapels that they’re very high up in the pecking order.

Then, I also notice that one of them is the Secretary of Defense, Tiger McCarthy.

No one speaks for the longest time.

I am standing beside Magnitsky patiently awaiting further instructions.

Suddenly the President concludes the boat conversation and hangs up the phone. He looks over at me and smiles, holds out his hand to formally greet him.

I am relieved to find that he’s an ordinary enough looking guy with enough flaws to make me feel his equal. He’s tall, but not taller than me. His face is more reddish than most, probably due to the fact that his family originated in Ireland. His attire is impeccable, as one would expect of a President of anything, let alone the President of the freakin’ United States!

It’s an honor, Mr. President,” I say, without hesitation because it is the truth that makes me add something that I wish I had not.

I want you to know that I did not vote for you. I voted for the other gal, but it’s still an honor to meet you,” I blabber, senselessly.

Well, thanks for the honesty. I appreciate that,” the President says, but it’s not the kind of appreciation I would have liked at this point.

I hear that you’re the guy that put anti-matter into a bottle, or a ray gun, or whatever that thing is,” the President says, nodding at Magnitsky’s belt line.

I hadn’t even noticed that he was carrying my gun on his belt.

Yes, I’m the one,” I reply.

All right, so that’s good. Have you decided to join us, yet?” The President asks. His chair squeaks as he leans back in it.

Well, I think I’ve already been conscripted. Mr. Magnitsky here keeps using me as a guinea pig. Don’t know how much he’s told you, but I’ve been to the other side and back, thanks to him,” I declare.

So, I’ve heard,” he replies, chuckling.

The others just nod in blind agreement.

And I’ve also heard that you are to be amply rewarded for your time,” the President continues.

You’re talking about my retirement plan. Of course the tricky part about that kind of a retirement plan is living long enough to collect on it,” I say, aptly.

Very true, well, Rikardo, why don’t we show some good faith by you giving Mr. Coppersmith his ray gun back,” the President says.

Are you sure, Mr. President?” Magnitsky wonders, looking precariously up at me.

I’m as surprised by this offer as everyone else in the room. Being very brave and decorated men and women of the Armed Forces, they remain in their chairs, fidgeting not even a discernible little bit as Magnitsky reticently hands me my anti-matter ray gun.

Of course, no one has to worry at the moment, since Mr. Magnitsky has the anti-matter cartridges in his pocket,” I say, accepting the gun and pointing it at the floor.

I wasn’t sure of this, but I couldn‘t see them trusting me all that much at this early stage.

He laughs.

So, it’s no surprise when we all watch Magnitsky remove the three anti-matter cartridges from his right pants pocket. I realize that they all remained pretty calm because everyone in the room has been told that my ray gun is useless without the anti-matter cartridges.

You’re right, of course. We had to be careful, especially here in the White House. You understand, I’m sure,” The President mumbles.

Of course,” I reply.

Rikardo, give the man his property now, but Mr. Coppersmith, I’ll ask you not to load them into your device until after you reach your next assignment. We’ve got something cooking right now that I’m hoping will interest you,” President Pulliam says.

Magnitsky reluctantly complies with his bosses order.

They look and feel much like ‘D’ sized flashlight batteries. I take them in my hand an put them into my front pocket.

So, what is it that you want me to do, Mr. President?” I ask.

I need you to send some really deplorable people into a really deplorable universe,” he replies.

I see,” I tell him, but I can tell by the expressions of the others in the room that I don’t see it at all, just yet.

# # #

"All right. Listen up! Remember that we don't want to make a huge crater out there. Just a little divot under their feet, at the most! No tell-tale footprints left behind. Everyone copy that?" Air Force General Barney LeBuff, my new boss, is yelling for everyone to hear loud and clear.

Copy that,” I reply, dutifully, right along with the others.

I'm rapidly adapting to my new role as part of a team of scientists working for the USAFDOC (United States Air Force Drone Operations Center) a top secret location in Palo Alto, California.

I've been ordered to join a group of hardened military types who have been fighting the long, continual war on terrorism for decades.

I’m standing in a semi-circle formed around a couple of desks or command centers, as they’re called. We’re focusing our attention on a computer screen where our Operator/Pilot Captain Carl Wannamaker is seated, as he manipulates a joy stick on the desk in front of him.

On the large monitor is a scene of the Afghanistan desert. We're floating above and moving over the sand at about fifty or sixty miles per hour. The drones telemetry, speed, direction, distance to target, battery life, etc., is displayed on the upper portion of the screen.

A few tired tufts of half-dead brown grass blurs past and under us. The camera on board the drone is scanning ahead searching for the physical location fed into its tiny little brain by the 'Com-Def-Sat', a nickname for a new breed of artificially intelligent satellites whose only mission is to find suspected military and civilian targets such as this one and alert Drone Command when one of them emerges from a building and foolishly moves around out in the open.

Standing next to me, or milling about in the vicinity is Secretary McCarthy, Rikardo Magnitsky, three of our military liaison, General LeBuff, Colonel Randall Myers and Lt. General Joy Piersall, as well as three of my own technicians assigned to me, Stephen, Keenan, and Brenda, all ‘Post-Docs’, or intern Physics professors at Stanford University just a few miles down the road from our facility.

It's top secret. No one, not even the neighbors, are aware of the true nature of this place, essentially a command unit of the US Air Force currently an essential element in this country's war on terror. The building is well camouflaged and quite ordinary in appearance by design. It's situated in a small industrial park with signs on the building depicting the 'Flavo-Rage Ice Cream Company'.

In reality, at this time, we're testing my anti-matter ray installed on a drone about the size of your kitchen frying pan.

I'm watching a map of the area on a monitor to the right of the main work-station where another Air Force 'co-pilot' Captain Helen Calico, is monitoring her part of the mission, ‘logistical support’. She is rapidly typing commands on her keyboard and then waits for the confirmation data to flow onto the right hand side of her screen next to the map. The data is informing her of the location and progress of ancillary assets such as live troops on the ground or aircraft in the vicinity who can give aid if needed.

Put on your Google Glass if you want to watch it in 3-D,” General LeBuff recommends.

As he puts on his 3-D glasses, I locate mine on my desk and put them on my face. The others are doing the same. Though not essential to the task at hand, they do make the work seem much more fun.

A little yellow dot indicates where our drone is flying and drawing slowly closer to an 'x' mark where the target is in real time. From the speed and direction of our little yellow dot, it appears that we will be in range to intercept the target, kicking up lots of dust, in about a minute or two.

"Permission to arm the device," Captain Wannamaker asks, suddenly breaking the tension in the room.

"Go ahead, arm," General LeBuff replies attentively.

"Arming now," Captain Wannamaker shouts out loud and clear. His hand on the joystick is barely moving. His left hand reaches across and pushes a small red button, the safety release, on the base of the joy stick.

I can see his thumb slowly move up to the trigger.

"Confirmed," Co-Pilot Helen Calico calls out from her station next door.

I'm nervous. It's the first time that my anti-matter ray gun has been placed on a remote vehicle to be used in real-life combat. The tests here in Palo Alto with an unarmed replica has gone extremely well. Given the huge amounts of time and money spent on the tests, I'm not surprised by that outcome.

But, now we're in the actual battlefield doing real live munitions testing. I must admit this is exciting to me, despite all of my long-held views of non-violence. It’s perhaps a cop-out, but maybe a good one, that our target today will not be harmed in any way. It may be terrifying for him, simply due to the unprecedented strangeness of his new situation. But no one will die today, or suffer any pain at any time. I’m quite proud of that.

I'm also realistic enough to know that if we're not pursuing this line of endeavor, someone else will and that could become a checkmate, and that's the ultimate and final end of everything if you understand the game of chess, and I do.

So, there's a slight chance in everyone’s mind that other parties may have gotten wind of this technology somehow and have worked out an effective defense. I have other concerns bigger than this one, but this is the biggest fear for the moment. I can imagine that my colleagues standing here are just as nervous about the outcome as I am, but at least it’s to be settled in just a few minutes.

Suddenly, there it is on the screen just a few hundred yards ahead, a little gray puff of a dust cloud that must be the target vehicle racing across the desert sand.

As we approach more rapidly now, from the camera on board the drone, we can all see that the target is a small white Toyota truck. We can also see a couple of red motorbikes racing along in front and behind of the vehicle as some kind of an entourage for our main target.

We're all hoping that in the car, we will soon see the face of one Prince Sindar Bin Sindar. He's been determined by our ‘intelligence community’ to be an important backer or at least a major cheer-leader of the terror groups in the region who have been hacking into our nation’s banking system, interfering in our elections and maybe also in slaughtering innocent women and children, though that evidence has not been confirmed as of yet.

We have tried of course, and without much success, to block the funding for this group, money that we thought had been going into automatic machine guns, bombs, even anti-aircraft missiles, but which has actually been spent on cyber warfare computers, software and technicians, illicit drugs and God knows what else.

Largely due to the Prince's activities as a kind of middle-man, and whose activities we’ve been tracking with the drone army, we believe we've located the building in Afghanistan where they may be conducting their cyber warfare operation, or at least a major portion of it.

Suddenly, the drone has flown up beside the little white truck. It’s dogging it, matching it turn by turn.

The cameras are working perfectly,” I note.

High-Def locked on,” Captain Wannamaker confirms.

It’s like we’re a bunch of righteous angels following silently alongside without the target even noticing us.

Inside the truck, I can make out two men in the front seat dressed in black and two men in the back seat, and one that appears very much like the pictures of the Prince that I have seen sits next to the window just a few feet from the drone. He is oblivious, picking his teeth.

"Target identified." Helen, in the next booth is watching a facial recognition program zoom in on the face of the man in the back seat.

The monitor flashes the official confirmation. He looks towards us and then spots the drone. He reacts with an expression of sudden shock and surprise and then, oddly enough, a great big zany smile washes over his face. He flips us the bird and then turns his head to yell something at the driver.

"Fire when ready," General LeBuff commands calmly, so calmly I know why this type of human does well in the military which makes me proud to be serving here today anyway.

Suddenly, we can all see the Toyota truck swerve frantically away to its left and slamming into and then running over one of the motorcycle escorts.

"Oh, I bet that leaves a mark," I say out loud and then regret it.

I'm sure his mother loved him.

The drone follows the white truck in lockstep, flawlessly matching every wild and crazy maneuver the driver makes to lose it.

We then see the Prince's face as he looks back out his window directly at us out the rear window.

The prince seems utterly amused and apparently mouths the words - 'Fuck You', pointing his finger directly at us.

I’ve got you now,” our pilot says barely audibly.

Captain Wannamaker gently depresses the trigger button on the top of his joy stick.

I hold my breath. In the next second we all expect the Toyota truck to disappear before our eyes, completing our battlefield test as one hundred percent successful.

We keep waiting.

The Toyota truck continues along in its frantic race over the sand. It's not annihilated, not even wounded. The drone suddenly and mysteriously crashes to the ground.

We can see it's covered in sand, but there remains a tiny speck of blue sky seen through all the grains of sand.

Then, the screen goes completely black.

Co-pilot Calico’s telemetry metering runs down to null values and then everything freezes up.

"What the freaking Hell just happened?" General LeBuff yells towards the screens and then stares blankly at all of us, but mainly me.

"I don't know. My controls just went out. I lost it as soon as I pressed the trigger," Captain Wannamaker states and then looks next door to see what his colleague may have.

"I have no telemetry from Com-Def-Sat," shaking her head sideways, she confirms what we are all slowly realizing.

These results have nothing to do with my part of the project, therefore I don‘t feel compelled to explain anything, but I offer something up anyway.

"I'd say we've been hacked," I conclude, remembering that mysterious building in the desert where Intelligence said the bastards were building a cyber-war room.

"It did feel like someone else took over the controls at the last minute," Captain Wannamaker concurs.

"Looks like they're a step or two ahead of us," I posit, removing my 3-D Google glass and polishing the lenses to clear the serious smudging from the heat and humidity of the last few minutes.

I can imagine the Toyota and the three remaining escorting motorcycles speeding off into the desert in complete and total bewilderment but probably unaware of how close they came to the brink.

# # #

Over the next few days, with the rest of the team in full 'emergency-meeting mode', the condition of any bureaucracy where everyone gathers for far too many emergency meetings, I'm mostly taking long drives in my car. I have just put it on auto-pilot and then chose ‘random destinations’ so that the thing will keep moving without disturbing my thoughts.

Even though I was conscripted for this ‘anti-terror’ duty, I have come to believe that my anti-matter technology may be used to do something positive for the world and not end up like every other weapon system known to man. Call me a Pollyanna.

I love to think through my problems this way. It seems likely that someone out there is aware of our new class of weapons and that they are able to hack into our computer networks to deny us the most effective use of them. That means we're in a whole pile of trouble.

General LeBuff, as I expected, was livid after our attempt to remove Sindar Bin Sindar failed so spectacularly. He authorized a full out level 5 investigation. This means that just about every intelligence operative in the world, from all countries would be tasked to gather information on who or what was responsible.

My suspicions were that the new building with the green roof was built with the help of the Russians or Chinese. The Afghanis couldn't possibly have the resources to build a computer farm that would be able to break into the most secure weapons system in the world - until now. And, even more worrying to General LeBuff is, 'how did they know where we were and what we were about to do?'

My car has taken me out into the woodsy area of Palo Alto up in the hills. Climbing slowly up a leafy country road, I spot a squirrel prance into the road a few feet in front of us. I watch in amazement at how the auto-piloting system of my car applies just enough braking to my speed and direction so that the squirrel can not be injured in any way and yet the passenger, me, is not thrown forward into the dash. If I hadn’t been looking out the front window I wouldn’t have even noticed this very subtle adjustment in our trajectory.

Looking back out the rear window, I can see the lucky little gray critter has made it safely to the other side of the road, completely unaware of how modern technology could have taken his life, very quickly, very suddenly, without mercy, but didn't because of some even more highly advanced breakthroughs in the way that machines can think.

With the latest software upgrade on my fully electric vehicle, the company now boasts that any collision with anything alive that runs out into the road ahead of the vehicle will not and cannot happen.

It occurs to me that my car’s brain now contains more consciousness, more consideration for all life on the planet and the delicate balance of ecology than is contained in the average human brain.

But it also strikes me as extremely odd that I can be driving along in my shiny and sexy new car and know that as the Tesla engineers come up with better and better technology, all they have to do is beam a software upgrade over the air into the computer brain of my car and I have a completely new capability added on to my original vehicle. It can be something as simple as a tiny improvement to battery performance or it can be something as amazing as saving the lives of the squirrels, raccoons and the deer.

But, it’s also amazing to me that this dear old car of mine is now an antique. And then, something hits me like a sledge hammer.

I've got to get back to the control facility. I give my car the new destination and it effects a nice and safe 'u-turn' back down the hill and eventually onto the new elevated hyper loop, the ’909’.

The one thing that I never considered in my research on anti-matter, and I never read or heard that anyone else has considered, is that the anti-matter itself might be in possession of some kind of will power all its own. There was always the ‘Entanglements’ phenomenon in Quantum Physics that shows how electrons possess some extra-sensory perception (ESP) knowledge about their partners. And, it was speculated by some, including myself earlier in my career that this property of ‘entangled' electrons could explain much about how our universe is connected like a huge brain by a synaptic orbit of some force that we know nothing about.

And so, it is starting to dawn on me that if the electrons in this universe possessed this kind of eerie awareness of their situation, a kind of Consciousness, why wouldn't anti-electrons be in possession of the same kind of properties, except in the opposite direction?

The more I thought about this problem, the more I could see, hear, taste and smell it. It could represent the best possible solution for all of the challenges we were now facing with a large portion of the world.

Certainly, if we can improve the Intelligence Quotient of the car of which I am a passenger, over the airwaves, then why not improve the aim of our anti-matter over the same airwaves by upgrading its intelligence levels as well?

It would impact not only the focusing and aiming of these magnificent little soldiers in my anti-matter army, but we would probably be able to defend ourselves from almost any form of evil if they knew who they were working for, and fought the good fight because they wanted to. They could become the biggest and best army the world has ever seen. An Artificially Intelligent Armed Force, quite literally

I’m over the moon with a giddiness, but more importantly with a clarity, I have never known before.

On the way back to the Operations Center, I begin to plan how it might be done. If we can pull it off, we would easily win any battle against any of our Internet counterparts on the other side of the planet and neutralize them before they even thought about how to hit us, when to hit us, or what to hit us with.

My mind is racing.

I can hardly wait to inform the rest of the team.

I won't have long to wait. I'm getting out of my car now parked just outside the front door of the D.O.C. I let the car go and it drives off on its own to park itself in the nearby lot. It will return home on its own, if it gets no further instructions.

Before I can enter the building, in the upper right hand corner of my Google Glasses, I can see the postage stamp sized image of my new boss, Secretary Tiger McCarthy calling for my attention.

Accept.” I order the glasses to take the call.

"Hello, Jack," Tiger starts off.

"Yes, sir, Hello. How are you?" I reply courteously.

Unsure he will be able to understand my reasoning, I’m struggling about how to start feeding him my new ideas.

"Listen, Jack. We've had some developments come up over here in Washington where we believe you would be more effective. Can't explain on an insecure channel, so just get on the next Washington Hyper-Loop out of there and message me as soon as you arrive," the General tells me abruptly and then vanishes from my sight.

"Yes, sir," I reply, too late for him to hear.

He will know of my compliance of his orders from the positioning that my glasses are constantly sending him.

I'm surprised but also optimistic that they're including me in this meet-up at the highest levels. I'm guessing that some of them trust me about as far as they can throw me, even now. I try to imagine the look on their faces when I hand them the solution to most if not all of our computer hacking problems.

I tap my key fob in my pocket to alert my car, which has just settled down to rest in its parking space. Instantly, it comes to life and glides silently to the front entry of the facility where it had just dropped me off.

I wonder if I should go inside and tell my colleagues about my new epiphany, but the thought is quickly rejected as wasted energy since my boss has just told me to bust my buns to get over to meet with them.

I plop myself down into the passenger seat and order my good friend to take me to the Hyper-Loop station ‘asap’, a phrase that she knows to mean, ‘at the highest legal speed possible’.

The car responds instantly and with her very sexy voice also reminds me to click my seat belt.

I calculate that I'll be there in about ten minutes depending on traffic and then as I call up the Hyper-Loop Pod schedule on to my glasses it looks as though they are leaving every ten minutes, so I can calculate my arrival in Washington in about an hour and a half.

As we're approaching the Pod Station, I receive another Google call, this time from my cute blond wife Elizabeth.

"Hey you," she begins assertively. I know that the most likely subject here is for me to pick up some item that she needs to make our dinner and which she has forgotten to pick up on the way home.

"I just want you to know that I won’t be home tonight. I’m going to my sister’s house to baby-sit for the week-end,” she says.

"OK, that’s fine, my love. I was just ordered to Washington D.C. by my new boss. I was just going to call and tell you,” I reply.

Oh, OK, so you were just going to tell me?” she says.

Afraid so, my love. I may not be back for a couple of days or maybe even longer," I reply, tersely, unemotionally.

I’m in the zone, a zone she recognizes I’m sure.

"Yeah, OK, bye," she says, possibly picking up what I'm putting down.

At any rate, she’s never been even the least bit interested in my work. I’ve just informed her that I’m going to Washington D.C. to meet with the highest levels of the administration, yet she asks me no questions about it, not one. Well, it’s not her fault, anyway, is it?

I eventually find myself walking down into the Pod platform where I see a small group of professionals already seated and amicably sharing their most impressive stories.

I can see the countdown rapidly approaching five seconds where a final call will come over the speakers for us to take our seats and get ourselves strapped in.

I'm busy clicking the final strap into place when I hear the final klaxon. I feel the bump as the pod slowly leaves the station, accelerating like the old jet liners.

Within a few seconds the pod sucked along by the most powerful vacuum pump in the world, will quickly break the sound barrier and then quickly reach Mach 3.5. But the rate of acceleration is so smooth and predictable that it's impossible to feel uncomfortable other than a slight popping of the ears.

I don't feel very chatty today, so I've decided to take advantage of the music booth just over my head and start to finger the controls to sort through the available selections.

Even though the Science of this mode of transportation is extremely simple, it always amazes me how they can keep the lights on inside the hover-pods while shooting them down a vacuum tube completely free of any tracks, cables or even guide-ways.

I gaze over at one of my co-passengers, a smartly dressed youngish and dapper fellow, in a very business-like dark blue suit.

"Hi, how you doing?" I assert, looking for a nod or a wink and no more.

"Fine thanks," he replies and goes back to reading a newspaper, which looks to be a stock speculation newsletter of some sort, affirming my assessment.

Then, I notice his shoes. I've seen the same spit polished look on General LeBuff, Captain Wannamaker and most of the other military, even Captain Calico.

That's odd' I muse. 'He should be wearing wingtips’.

Oh well. It's probably nothing,’ I conclude, chuckling at my newly minted level of paranoia.

I draw the virtual booth down over my head and close my eyes. The trip will be just long enough for me to take a little siesta, or so I'm thinking.

# # #

I'm startled back to life by the gentle chimes informing us that we have arrived at our destination. The bright lighting of the station is almost painful to my eyes. The doors open with a slight puckering sound as a little valve somewhere neutralizes the pressure differences between the pod and the outside atmosphere.

Popping up out of the Loop station, we all separate and go in different directions, everyone except the guy in the dark blue business suit with the spit polished shoes. He looks over at me and says something about the possibility of rain.

I barely acknowledge him.

It appears to me as though he's waiting like the rest of us for his next connection to somewhere. But he also appears way too interested in me. Every time I glance in his direction, I see him looking at me or in my direction from his peripheral vision.

I think to myself that maybe he’s thinking about me the same way that I’m thinking about him.

But, I'm also hoping his car will arrive before me and then I can forget the whole thing.

My ride shows up first. It stops smoothly and then doors open for me as the auto-pilot announces my name and destination.

I’m here for Jack Coppersmith,” the female voice says clearly.

Looking out the rear window of the auto-tram, I can see the stranger's ride arriving just a few seconds behind me. He gets in quickly. I can’t hear his destination, but I can see right away that his vehicle is following my own.

'Interesting', I think, whereupon, my phone vibrates in my pocket.

I can see the face of my boss, Secretary of Defense, McCarthy.

"Yes, sir," I answer, not waiting for him to speak. "I've just left the loop station and I’m in the car. I should be there in about ten minutes."

"Great Jack," he says, gently, almost bored. "Hope your trip went well."

"Yes, fine, however, I think I'm being followed. A guy in the loop pod with me, looks like an investment guy, but I don't think so. Keeps looking over at me. He's a few hundred feet behind and sticking pretty close," I inform the General.

"Blue suit?" He asks, immediately.

"Yes," I reply.

Dark hair, greenish eyes?” he asks.

That’s right,” I reply.

"He's one of ours, Jack. We're just looking out for you," General McCarthy says.

"Thank God," I reply, relieved.

"We'll be waiting for you in the Eisenhower Room," the General informs me.

"Yes, sir,"

"And Jack, I will need you to be brilliant. The President is demanding that we put an end to all of this," Gen. McCarthy states, almost as an afterthought.

"Wait, what?" I ask, flustered.

"Yes, he'll be here Jack, and he’s not in the best of moods. So you will be at your best behavior, if you know what I mean," McCarthy warns.

"Well, I'll try," I counter.

"Great and you said you had something new to bring to the table, so I hope it's what the President wants to hear. That's all I can say," Gen. McCarthy continues and then abruptly disconnects.

I've barely had time to get my thoughts together when my car slowly drives up to the main gate of the Pentagon. I can see my friendly ‘tail’ drive up behind me. The man in the blue suit quickly emerges and touches his hand to his forehead in a quick informal salute.

I nod and then quickly scurry along the walk to the gate, show my security pass at the guard house, show it again at the security desk. Then I make my way down the main hall hastily and as fast as I can move using the moving walkways.

I take a deep breath and ask the security guard to open the doors for me, which he does without hesitation.

"The President's in there," he whispers, as I glide past.

"I know," I say.

Suddenly, there he is. Though we’ve only had a couple of brief meetings, I'm already feeling very comfortable in his presence. He seems to put everyone at ease, including me. He makes everyone feel like he’s your best friend. I can quickly see why he became a politician. There must be something in his DNA that gives him all of this charisma, I’m guessing.

I spot General McCarthy seated next to the President’s desk. They both stand up to greet me.

"Ah, and here he is, at last, freshly squeezed from that awfully dreary place in California," Gen. McCarthy announces me sarcastically.

Out of the corner of my eye, scattered around the periphery, I spot five or six men in black suits, much taller than the rest of us, obviously watching over the President like mother hens. And, then there's the guy with the 'Football', the Devil's device that can launch nuclear havoc and rain devastation down anywhere in the world, sitting solitary at a table way off towards the back of the room. He looks neither up or down, neither to his left or right. I've never seen a worse job in my life, hoping that your efforts are never used and if they are, you’re not going home ever again.

The President extends his right hand and I shake it vigorously. He's got a firm grip, I notice.

"Hi Jack," he says and that’s all.

He sits back down watching me to see what I do or say next.

Hello, Mr. President. Secretary McCarthy,” I put forth automatically.

And then, coming to my senses, "I voted for you. Just wanted you to know that."

Polite laughter makes its way around the room.

"That's good to hear," The President replies, smiling broadly.

"OK, it’s great to know that you didn’t waste your vote, Jack. I know your time is very valuable, Mr. President," Gen. McCarthy says, laughing, then comes to the point.

"Tiger, I have whatever time it takes,” the President says, calmly relaxed in his chair.

General McCarthy remains standing and finally lets us know what this is all about.

"Well gentlemen and ladies, we're all here today to discuss the recent deployment of the new anti-matter weapon on that terrorist fellow Sindar whatever. And, of course the mission failed - not a really great outcome - but at least we've determined that it's due to some very clever bastards who somehow made their way around and through some of the strongest computer security in the world. But, the real problem is that they may have developed the same technology we were about to use on them and are now about to use it on us,” he says.

And we don’t have as many clever bastards in hacking like they do,” McCarthy continues.

"Yes, and I understand that this new technology is largely of your creation, Mr. Coppersmith," the President says leveling his gaze in my direction.

"Actually, Rick Magnitsky over there is way ahead of me, I think. My contribution was mainly the miniaturization of the containment vessel, a super-conducting nano version of the Penning trap, so that a ray gun like mine can be clipped to my belt or attached to something as small as a drone," I reply.

"I see," the President looks over at Dr. Magnitsky perking up a bit in his chair, happy that I mentioned him.

No one in the room moves anything other than their eyelids.

"This is serious business, my friends," the President tosses it out there like a hand grenade.

"Rikardo, what do you think we should do about this, then?" The President demands from Magnitsky but in a way that is so disarming and innocent that I'm sure Magnitsky is totally blinded by it.

"Well, we believe that they will make a mistake somewhere along the line and then we'll nail 'em," he replies, slamming his fist to the table with gusto.

The President doesn't seem to buy it. His face is stoic, but I can tell from his body language that he is very unsatisfied with that answer.

"Does anyone else have something more definitive?" The President asks us, slightly perturbed.

"Mr. President," I begin, clearing my throat and hoping I can get the concept out there in a way that a 'civilian' can understand. Then, I remember that I'm actually more of a civilian than any of them. I’m sure that he thinks I’m delaying my answer for no reason.

"Yes?" The President replies. This time he turns his chair in my direction.

"OK, so on the way over here on the loop, I was marveling at how the electricity stays on inside the pod even though it’s traveling at such amazing speeds. There's no batteries, no cables, no connections to any electrical source that is visible anywhere and then I realize that the solution to this problem is similar to the one in front of us today," I begin.

And that is?" The President says, following along nicely.

"When we speak about the anti-electron, you know the heart of the anti-matter, we have to realize that electrons are sometimes entangled with each other. This means that they have partnered up with a buddy electron - a soul-mate of sorts - and we know this because, after these two soul-mates pair up, they never forget about their partner," I say, noticing that there are many heads, including the Secretary's, shaking vigorously sideways trying to warn me not to go in this direction.

I instantly decide to ignore them all.

The President looks sleepy.

"This has been established in thousands of experiments by now all around the world," I continue, boldly.

President Pulliam nods slowly as if he's vaguely familiar with the concept, but I think otherwise and that I may be going too fast for him. Maybe not.

"So, I just realized that when we're dealing with positrons or anti-electrons as we are doing, they too can become ‘entangled' but in the opposite kind of way," I continue, knowing that I'm on thin ice here.

No one, as far as I know has studied 'entangled' anti-matter, so at this point, I'm sort of making it up as I go along.

What would be the ‘opposite way’ of knowing about each other?” Pulliam asks.

What are the odds that he is still with me, I wonder.

I believe that they are intentionally forgetting about each other,” I suggest and I’m sticking to that.

It's strange enough to consider that electrons can share some form of Consciousness, the one quality that most people believe separates us from everything else in the universe. But, my instincts are telling me that anti-matter can have the reverse effect of making us forget about all of that. It makes us act like automatons, lifeless creatures. It’s the opposite of life’s greatest achievement, Consciousness, or an involuntary unconsciousness. It seems to me from studying my species that it’s always one or the other.

It's come to my attention long ago from earlier research that Consciousness is what connects us to everything else. It's not a medium of separateness at all and in fact can only be the opposite of that and is the connection itself. Nothing else is needed.

"So, when we think of 'entangled' anti-electrons or positrons, we have to think of them as 'un-entangled'. In other words, they don't remember anything about their soul-mates, but they don’t remember about only these individual buddies of theirs and no others. I know this is going to be hard to imagine, but the effect of this is that they forget about each other before they can even be introduced to each other," I blow it up about as far as I can.

The silence in the room is deafening. I can see some of the female staff members in the back of the room, stirring a bit in their chairs as if they may know more than I do on this topic.

So, what does that mean?” Magnitsky appears highly skeptical, even though he is the one that created the first anti-anti-matter, the stuff that gave me this insight.

It could mean that this is the way that the realities of two separate universes can be maintained within the same space. We’re all booted up from the sub-atomic world and if they, the electrons, protons, etc. can make connections all over the place through the rules of ‘entanglements’, we could be living the way they already planned for us to live. Conversely, when they are un-entangled, I think we find ourselves extremely lonely, confused and in complete and total disarray. Now, maybe we know why,” I reply.

I have to wait for a reaction from someone before I can even consider my next thought, whatever the heck that's gonna be. I’m happily aware that I just made up an entirely new area of study, but one that could be the most productive area of Science ever and for which I may even receive the Nobel Prize.

Yeah, right?

Finally, the President comments, "So, you’re saying that they can take over the White House?"

"Yes, or they may have already taken over," I reply, knowing that’s not what I meant, but amazingly, it could have been what I was supposed to say.

"Well, OK, so what do we do about it?" The President follows-up.

"I don’t know, exactly, but it could come to us all as a group or to one of us individually, if we just put our heads together,” I suggest, excitedly.

I think we all hear the whirring of the President's wheels spinning in high gear.

"OK, so you're saying exactly what to us now?" The President asks, humbly. I take it as a good sign.

"It means that we may have an enemy who seems to know all about us, and especially they know what to do that will drive us absolutely crazy. However, since we know that’s how they will behave, we should be able to counter-act them by not reacting as they predict we will act. When your enemies make you perform as they predict, they’re winning. We're on opposite ends of the spectrum. But, when you know both possible outcomes, you can’t do anything other than win. Do you see that?” I ask.

I think so. Our enemies are inspired by the anti-matter in the universe, so once we know that, we can counter-act them by doing what? I’m confused,” The President says.

I hope it’s obvious by now. We have to do the opposite of what they are trying to get us to do,” I reply.

I have to take a breath.

It just dawned on me on the ride to Washington today that they are part of our anti-universe just as we are part of their anti-universe, but they can't know that we've had this breakthrough that puts us one step ahead of them. We just have to be confident of that. All so that we can build our strategy on that assumption,” I continue.

As I speak the words, I realize that I'm going off into some very unchartered territory.

And, I also don't know for sure if my recognition of this situation changes it?

Tricky, huh?

"I think what Jack is saying is that we don’t want to just react to everything they do. And so far, we have not been attacked by the enemy even though we have to assume they have the same capabilities as we do," Secretary McCarthy explains.

So, they want us to attack them?” The President asks.

"Yes, exactly, Mr. President and knowing this, we can use it to build our strategy. We never react the way they are obviously prepared for. We just get them to keep reacting to us, until they blow their cover and give us enough information to know exactly who and where they are. In essence Dr. Magnitsky spoke the truth. Eventually, they will make a mistake and then we've 'got em'. I say, noticing Magnitsky perk up and smile a bit.

"So, we stay on the attack and know that they will attempt to block us, but each time they do it, we trace them back to their lair somehow, but how?" The President asks, getting off a good one.

I'm not prepared to answer that one yet. So, I’ll improvise.

"Well, we, the team here, have to brainstorm a bit more to answer that one. We can't just go off half-cocked. We need to come up with some kind of bait that they cannot resist taking," I posit.

Bait? I like that,” Secretary McCarthy breaks in.

What kind of bait?” The President is also intrigued.

Well, again, what is it that someone who is one hundred percent antithetical to us would want more than anything else in the world?” I suggest.

What do you think?” McCarthy asks.

What is it?” Pulliam asks.

They want to be on top. They want us on the bottom and they want to be on the top,” Magnitsky exclaims loudly.

Suddenly he’s standing. He’s been following my logic apparently, and extremely fired up about something I’ve suggested, even though it feels like I was just ranting.

How do we do that?” I ask, shaking my head.

I had been thinking in terms of bribing them with money or sex.

With these,” Magnitsky says, holding up his anti-matter pen and my anti-matter flash light in his hands.

# # #

Even though I was free-styling with the President and the Secretary, much of what I had told them was based on my real life up to that point. It was basic instinct by now. I had been hit by a few events in my life that made me go deep into the sub-atomic world for explanations as to how things happen because there was simply no logical explanation for these events in the ‘normal’ fields of Science that I knew about.

In one of my more creative modes, I discovered something that I call the ‘Flux Antenna’. It’s just a couple coils of copper wire, but when I put it on my head, I begin to remember things that I would never know about without it. I also begin to see the anti-matter in the universe in ways that no one else can.

When I return to my room after our meeting, I shuffle through my bags and locate my antenna. I place it on my head, hoping to get more clarity about what I just divulged almost without thinking at the White House.

Suddenly, somehow, I'm thousands of miles away. I'm in a bathing suit and seated on a beach blanket on Waikiki beach, Honolulu, Hawaii. A beautiful young brunette whom I instantly recognize as Dana is striding slowly over towards me. She's looking very happy, content, but mostly serene.

I'm happy again, happier than I have any right to be. After this morning's interlude at the condo, I'm more convinced than ever that she and I may have a better shot at a real future than ever before. It’s probably wishful thinking, but I’ll take that over the other alternative.

I believe I've told her about this vague theory of mine in so many ways over the past few months. In this universe at this time, I don’t have a complete handle on it, but it’s developing slowly in my brain, mainly due to her allowing me into her life. I wouldn’t have her if there was not another, larger reason than just dumb luck. I don’t believe in that.

'Surely, she knows,' I think to myself as she plops herself down next to me and wraps her incredibly sexy long arms around my neck and shoulders.

Standing here just now, in this place, holding her in my arms, I feel connected to the planet and the universe in ways that I’m at a total loss to describe. It’s like when you experience your first ice cream cone, except multiplied one thousand times. It’s like riding a bicycle for the first time and getting far away from home. It’s like seeing your favorite movie for the first time and knowing that it’s all about you. It’s like making your first million bucks, if you’re ever lucky enough to do that.

It’s true, you know?” I say, looking at her through my tinted sunglasses.

"What do you mean, chili bean?" She says, employing her secret weapon, the musical notation in her voice that makes my heart soar.

"I was just thinking about something as I watched you walking over here," I begin.

"Oh yeah and what would that be?" She replies.

"I was thinking about how happy you make me," I continue.

"Oh shut-up, you nerd," she says, slapping me playfully on the top of my head.

"Hey, watch it. I'm sensitive up there," I complain.

"Yeah, soft up there, isn’t it?" she teases and hits me again.

"Hey, why are you hitting me?" I ask, feigning annoyance because I actually live for the contact with her, no matter what variety it is.

"Because, you're just too much. You’re going to the woodshed and whooped real good! Like you know you should," she sings.

Now, she's doing 'Country'. This morning it was 'Swan Lake'. Tomorrow it will be Gershwin's 'Rhapsody in Blue'.

She never fails to entertain and amuse me as no one else can do now or ever will again and I'm aware of that just as sure that I know God made little green apples.

A soft morning breeze comes in off the Pacific and wraps itself around us both for a while and then drifts away.

"By the way, did you hear the news?" She interrupts.

"No, what's going on?" I ask.

"I just heard it on a radio walking out here," she announces with a slightly upturned mouth.

"What's going on?"

She starts to giggle deliciously but holds it in with her hands over her mouth.

"OK so what's so freaking funny?" I ask.

"There’s this guy who lost his left arm and leg in a car crash,” she says, demurely. 

God, that’s horrible,” I reply.

Yeah, but he's all right now,” she says, looking away.

She got me again. I don’t want to give her the satisfaction, so I just shake my head and stare at her beautiful round mouth and her shiny little nose as she laughs hysterically.

She looks up at me, begging for my approval.

I try not to flinch.

"You get it, right?" She asks, calming down.

"Seriously? You think that's funny," I finally chortle, drawing her closer to me, gently touching, then not touching, letting her get just out of reach.

"OK, so now I know that you're just a big fat stick in the mud." She teases, kissing me on the lips warmly. As usual, she leaves me breathless.

"So, you got it. I’m a very big fat stick in the mud, all right," I state, with false empathy.

"So, I only changed the story up a tiny bit. Seriously, the news is that they've come to an agreement on Nuclear Disarmament. Russia, China, Europe, the U.S. Everyone has signed on to the agreement. They say, they will start the dismantling of all the nukes next week. It's amazing, don't you think?" She reports, this time, seriously.

"Yeah, right, so where’s the punch line. We’re all radio active?” I attempt to joke back, not very effectively.

I look down the beach and spot several people excitedly running up and down amidst the beach chairs. They’re filled with the news that confirms what Dana has just told me. Several of them run splashing and cheering frantically, hurling themselves into the waves. Couples are hugging and kissing. Single people are seeking anyone they can hug and kiss. It's really a wonderful scene of history in the making.

I find it both exciting and troubling at the same time. There had been absolutely no indication of this little miracle, not even close. It seems somehow very odd to me that this is happening now. It’s too easy.

"This is incredible," I have to admit.
I can see Dana looking at me more carefully than I can remember her looking at me, as though I could have had something to do with this. Joining in the spirit of the moment, I wrap her up in my arms and we kiss for a good long time. I can hear the waves splashing on the sand all around us, gently lapping at our feet. She’s purring like a cat. Or is it the little beach buggy filled with teen-agers heading down the beach towards us?

The moment seems surreal and that's only because it is. The wave of energy that's hitting the beach this glorious morning in Hawaii is very welcome tidings even though it's not completely uncalled for. The world Congress has been calling for a global ‘de-nuclearization’ for the past several decades, always falling on deaf ears. The response has always been null and void. Sure, lots of speeches of sympathy everywhere but no real action.

Then, suddenly, starting a few months ago, the concept had been gaining popularity until recent days where acceptance of the idea and then the demand to get it done hit an all-time high with ninety percent of the electorate in favor. This the statistical point in the elections at which the automatic trigger just makes it the law of the land, because there is literally no opposition. It’s the will of the people with only the tiniest minority, usually the most uninformed and ignorant, the apathetic, who oppose.

This automatic and instant democratic law-making is very new, but it seems to be working. It’s an incredible improvement in the way that things get done around here, but that too seems strange to me, as if it came out of nowhere.

When we finally return to our Condo, I turn on the TV and watch as I imagine everyone else is watching all around the world as President Pulliam along with the Presidents of Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, France, Great Britain, the President of The World Congress all make brave and syrupy speeches about how proud they are to be able to get this done for us at last.

Every nuclear power appears to be in compliance and have just now signed off on the destruction of all nuclear weapons in their arsenals without any further delays which will be confirmed by international inspection, beginning in a few days from now. It’s impossible, but there it is in the news.

After changing out of her bathing suit, Dana arrives in the living room, carrying a couple of glasses of wine to join me in celebrating the wonderful news.

"I don't know how this happened, but isn't it wonderful?" She asks.

"Yes, and it's because I love you and you love me," I testify.

She looks up at me, her beautiful brown eyes pooling up just a little.

She says nothing, and I find that a bit surprising too, given how we usually respond to the word.

"You do love me, don't you?" I ask, holding her tight.

I watch her take a big lung full of air.

"In what universe could I not? Of course I do, you lunatic!" she releases, reassuringly.

I think it more than a little odd that she is talking about the possibility of a different universe out there. I wonder where she could have gotten that idea. She's always doing that kind of thing to me. Totally, out of the blue, she’ll toss out completely new elements of her personality that I had not seen or imagined to that point. Somehow, I know that if we live to be a hundred and five, she will never cease to surprise me like that.

Carefully parsing her words, I kiss her gently and then tell her that we should go out and celebrate.

"I bet the whole island will be out partying tonight. We should join them," I suggest.

"Yes, of course, Darling," she replies, softly.

As I'm changing for dinner, I replay in my mind how she made reference about another universe when answering my question. What exactly was she trying to say? I could take it two ways, but normally I would not.

I shudder all over as an exceptionally cold breeze from the Arctic hits the island square in the face. But, of course, that level of cold front never comes down this far South, at least not in this universe, so I just shine it on.

Looking back, I wish with every cell in my body that I had questioned her just a bit more on that.

# # #

The day after the meeting with the President I get a surprise visit in my office from General McCarthy and tagging along, it seems, is General LeBuff.

I move the phone away from my head for a minute.

"Oh, good morning, Mr. Secretary, and Mr. General," I start off clumsily and gesture at a couple of chairs in front of my desk which I'm currently standing behind.

"Be with you in one second," I continue. “It's the wife, Elizabeth.”

"Listen, babe, I have to go now. The Secretary just came into my office and we have some important things to discuss. I told you, I don't know when I'm coming home. It could be in a few days, it could be longer. I have no idea. Something quite important has come up, that's all I can tell you," I try to wind up the conversation loud and fast enough for my two guests to hear.

"OK, yes, I love you too. I'll call you when I get the chance," I continue trying my best to quell the idle chit-chat.

"Yes, OK, my dear, Good-bye," I say, finally able to hang up.

Turning to my two bosses, "Sorry, gentlemen, what can I do for you?" I ask, politely.

They sit down directly in front of me.

"That's all right," Secretary McCarthy begins amicably enough.

"I know full well about the wife-thing," LeBuff says, mysteriously.

Oh, you married, General?” I ask.

No, I’m not, but I have many friends who are,” he replies, chuckling.

Oh, OK,” I mumble, forcing a smile.

"Yeah, amen, brother, I hear that,” Secretary McCarthy agrees, sarcastically.

The two men look at each other like I'm slightly uncool, which I am.

"All right now, so we've been discussing what you told the President yesterday and we've come to a conclusion of sorts - and we'd like to put something to you. You're not military, so we can't make it an order. So, I want you to consider it as a request only. A huge favor you can do for your country," The Secretary begins without any further falderal.

"We didn't come to this decision without weighing all of the risks against the implications for the country," General LeBuff adds, then stops and glances over at his boss.

"Sounds rather ominous," I mumble, struggling to catch their drift. It's obviously something painful or distasteful or both they want me to undertake. I think I know what it is they're getting at.

"You want me to go into the anti-universe again," I stutter.

It's not that it scares me, it's just that it scares the shit out of me. I have been there twice already, though briefly. I readily admit that it was interesting, but it was also very uncomfortable. Though it was also a great honor to be the first ‘anti-astronaut’ into this region of the anti-cosmos. I'm not sure it's an honor that I would like to repeat and I let them know.

Ever since that day when Magnitsky shot me with my own anti-matter ray gun, I've been trying to sort out my impressions of where I had been, what made it happen and what helped me to come back into the same point in space and time where I began that day.

"Yes, but we understand that you’re being well-paid. So, we need you to start earning it. We need you to go back and stay long enough to find out where the hacking is coming from. But you have to remain there until you get enough information to help us figure out what we can do about it," General LeBuff replies candidly.

They appear to be tag-teaming me.

"You're the only one that can do it. It appears you impressed the President too. You fed him all of this stuff of yours about the electrons unknowing about their future partners. That was pretty good, I must admit," Secretary McCarthy adds, jovially.

I didn’t quite follow any of it, my man, but it was inspired, I must admit,” LeBuff adds.

"So, the President is in on this?" I ask, knowing the answer.

"Yes, he said that you sounded like you already 'Un-know' our future. Therefore, sending you into the anti-universe could make it all un-happen, whatever that means. He also wanted us to tell you that if you make it back, he will arrange for you to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor," General LeBuff replies.

"If I make it back? Sounds like it could be awarded posthumously," I snarl.

"There's no sugar-coating it, Mr. Coppersmith," General LeBuff says, getting all formal on me.

The President also told me that for us to get the outcome we want in this universe, perhaps you don’t make it back here,” McCarthy admits.

I nod my head, slowly digesting.

He learned more from my little lecture than I ever intended,” I say.

Both men remain in their chairs stoically surveying my face for an answer.

Secretary McCarthy pulls a cigar from his shirt pocket and puts it in his mouth without lighting it up.

They're still staring at me silently.

'They want a decision now?' I'm thinking.

"You mean you want a decision, now?" saying it out loud.

I should have seen it coming, and I'm sure I would have if I wasn't so distracted by other issues in my life. My wife, Elizabeth and I were just about done. I really didn't want to come home and the truth was that I enjoyed the limelight in Washington and Palo Alto the last few months because I was not bothering her, nor her me.

'Just like me to run my big fat mouth," I ponder.

I should have known the minute I got that crazy theory out there yesterday that this would be the result and so I should be better prepared today for their offer than I am. I might have made it better for myself, maybe even getting more money by volunteering for the mission yesterday, right there and then in front of the President. The timing could have been heroic. Too late now.

"OK, I'll do it, but I have to bring my own anti-matter gun with me and also Magnitsky’s so I can get back home under my power," I demand.

The two men look at each other for a second or two. LeBuff leans over and whispers something to Secretary McCarthy. I have no idea what that is all about.

"That means that you can come and go at will between the two universes, does it not?" General LeBuff points out perceptively.

"That's true. And, you'd want it that way if you think about it. When you send an astronaut to another planet, you always plan on how to get him back home, don’t you?" I ask, rhetorically.

"Of course we do," Secretary McCarthy agrees.

"Well in this case, you’re actually giving the astronaut - myself - a second space ship, loaded with plenty of fuel, to practically guarantee his flight home to friends and family, but at a time and place of his own choosing," I add.

The two men huddle up again whispering to each other for what seems an eternity.

"Well, OK, but how long do you think the mission will last? And how long before you're ready to go?" General McCarthy asks, finally.

"I don't know. I'd like a few days at least. I would need to make a few more tests of the hardware. And, I would want to go home, visit my wife and family and see them and you know that kind of thing - because it could be the last time," I suggest.

"Yes, understandable, of course," General LeBuff says.

"All right. So, it's done then. We’ll tell the President that you've accepted the mission. While you're back in California doing whatever, we'll be setting it up here so that you can get the maximum throughput," General LeBuff says.

I have no idea what he's talking about, but whatever that means, it sounds good, like it may give me slightly better odds and giving me slightly more time to prepare.

"Of course, you realize you can't mention the mission to anyone, not even your family," Secretary McCarthy says, removing the moistened cigar and putting it back in his pocket.

"Of course. I'll just tell them that I have a foreign assignment, remotest jungles or something like that but nothing more. Well, I have to justify the fact that I will be gone for some time, and won't be able to contact them at all, right?" I ask.

"Yes, that would be acceptable," General LeBuff agrees.

The two men stand up in unison nearly bumping into each other.

"I think it's best that you go home tonight. No reason to waste any more time around here. There’s a need for you to get going ASAP, as you may know. So, why don't you go home and get all that over with as quickly as possible, OK?" General LeBuff suggests succinctly.

I can't disagree with his logic.

"Yes, sir. I'll leave right away," I say, standing up and moving to join them at the door.

We shake hands and I get the feeling they think it may be for the last time.

"OK, Coppersmith. Inform us as soon as you're on the way back. No more than a few days, though, huh?" Secretary McCarthy recommends gently enough.

"Yes, sir. It will not take long. I don't have that many friends," I admit, chuckling.

I didn’t think so,” Secretary McCarthy quips.

Uh, huh, military intelligence,” I must add.

I'm slowly realizing the importance of my situation and wondering how long I might actually be able to delay the inevitable.

The thought also occurs to me deep down somewhere that I must see Hawaii one more time, just in case I'm never able to find my way there again.

"Aloha," I shout as they show themselves out the door and into the hallway beyond.

General LeBuff scratches the back of his head as if wondering why I put it that way.

I can hear the Ukulele's already.

# # #

The SHL, or the Submarine Hyper Loop, is one of the most popular and the newest wonders of the world. Instead of the normal underground routes, a dark and boring tunnel ride through the Earth, the Submarine Hyper Loop tunnel is clear and transparent for miles near to the embarkation and arrival points.

As such, as it emerges from the depths of the seas, the vista from the SHL is light, uplifting, fun and exciting, filled with schools of fish, whales, dolphins, jellyfish, sharks, turtles, all the life in the sea, that is normally hidden from sight.

As we gather speed, few of the passengers are able to keep their heads stuck into their phones or books and instead gawk at the scenery, pointing out the many wonderful surprises to one another.

Sadly, after a few minutes, we're moving so fast and have achieved a depth where all of the scenery blurs into a grayish murky solution that is not much better than the underground Hyper-loops.

But, when decelerating near the Hawaiian island chain, the tunnel rises up the continental shelf near the surface once again and the whales and the myriad colorful fish abound again in the greatest populations found anywhere else on the Earth. The miracle of such abundant and most graceful life forms of these waters never ceases to inspire me to new levels of mindful care and love for my beautiful blue planet. Still the only one like it in the universe that we know about.

Today we also enjoy the amazing sight of the red-hot lava flowing from the lava tubes and into the ocean sending huge plumes of steam many miles into the sky. It’s the process of island-building that has been going on around here for tens of millions of years and will continue making beautiful Pacific islands in what I call the ‘belly-button’ of the planet for another hundred million years or more if we’re so lucky.

I've decided to bring Elizabeth along with me this time. We've been to Hawaii many times before, but this time, being possibly the last time, I want it to be special for her. And, there's still a chance that we can reconcile our differences.

It seems doubtful to me, but I'm determined at some level to try my best. After all, if I don't make it back or I make it back but in a different time-line, I may regret not trying just a little bit harder. She's a sweet woman, just not the one I was supposed to meet, I guess.

But, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So, I have no regrets marrying her. And, starting today, and for the next several days, I intend to give her more than what she bargained for and something to remember. It’s all I’ve got and I think that this is better than nothing.

On the ride to the condo I booked online, I'm thinking about my mission and how much I'm going to tell Elizabeth about it. I will have to go in a few days and I might never see her again. She has no idea about my work. She's tried to ask questions about it from time to time and I've done my best to explain it, but the light in her eyes never really glimmers with recognition as I would like. It’s like she hears me, but the neurons are working on some other things.

Finally installed in our Condo, we get changed, make small talk about the rest of the day, where we will go for dinner, entertainment, etc. I can tell she's happy to be in Paradise, but I am starting to sense that there's something on her mind as well.

Soon, not soon enough for me, we're making our way down to the beach. It's a gloriously beautiful day fresh and bright as a daisy here on the Kona Coast.

One of the things I always wait for is the song of the doves in the trees and I'm not disappointed. Every time I hear their beautiful little cooing sounds, calling out to one another, I know I’m in Paradise.

The beach is calling to me already as it always does. I can’t wait another minute and I have to go racing along the well-worn path to the beach with Elizabeth jogging steadfastly behind me. I’ve got my snorkel mask, my frozen peas in a zip-lock bag that I will use to attract all my old friends, the graceful yellow tangs, the parrot fish, the mahi-mahi, the rockfish, the rays, the green sea turtles. I haven’t seen them in so long. It’s too long. Today will be a great reunion party. We’re pulling out all the stops.

When we finally settle on a strip of warm sand, Elizabeth busies herself laying out our towels and setting up the beach chairs and umbrella. She doesn't like to get too dark. She's brought a small cooler for our drinks and asks me if I'm ready for one of her famous Bloody Mary's.

"Yes, ma'am. I sure am. Bring it on, my darling," I say with a big smile for good measure.

She's not without her amazing moments.

"Here you are 'punkin'," she says.

We clink our glasses together. The first sip is always the best. I start to look around for my snorkel mask and fins.

"They're right behind you," Elizabeth says, knowing exactly what I'm dying to do.

"That's an odd sort of man over there," Elizabeth says, suddenly noting a man with a flat-top hair cut and square jaw, so square we can see this most discernible feature from several hundred feet away.

At this distance, sitting alone on a towel with a white hotel robe on, I can't determine if he's the Pentagon agent who's been following me the past several weeks, or not. If he's not the same man, they are all cut out of the same cookie-cutter mold.

"He is a little strange, isn't he?" I reply. "Must be a tourist. Maybe from Bosnia-Herzagovena."

"How do you get Bosnia-Herzagovena?" Elizabeth replies, rejecting my dry sense of humor, as usual.

"I don't know. I just like saying Herzagovena. It’s like Gewirtztraminer, another favorite of mine," I reply.

"Ha, Ha, Ha," she laughs and then abruptly changes the subject.

"You know, my love, I'm glad we're here in Hawaii because I know that you love this place more than anything and it helps me to tell you something that I've been meaning to tell you for some time," Elizabeth begins, looking me steadily in the eyes without flinching.

"OK, sounds ominous. What's on your mind?" I ask.

"Well, you haven't been around much, you know?" She begins.

I think I already know where this is going. She's going to ask me to not work so hard, stay home more. Pay her more attention. I'm very concerned about what I'm going to have to say to her. We just got here. I was hoping to have a few laughs before we had to do this. I listen to her mumbling something about being lonely and am on the verge of interrupting.

"There's no easy way to say this, so I just have to spit it out, I guess. I've been having an affair and I think I love him," she says nervously, then looks away.

"What?" I can't believe it. I never would have suspected anything like that from this woman.

"I'm sorry, Darling. It just happened. I wasn't looking for anything, exactly, but there he was suddenly asking me if I was happy and I just started crying in his arms. It just went downhill from there," she says.

"OK, Yes, all right. Gee whiz, nice way to let me know," I’m stammering, coughing, muttering.

I'm truly shocked. I try to shake it off. It’s similar to what I was going to tell her, but now, this is different.

"I guess you never saw that coming?" She pouts, stoically extending her lower lip.

Suddenly, she's the sexiest thing I've seen in a long time. Funny how that works.

It hits me, how I can be so completely wrong about somebody.

"True. You have no idea how much I never saw that coming, my dear. So, what are you saying? Are you leaving me?" I ask, shocked.

The world is swirling around me. I'm scratching around for something, anything to get my bearings, a compass bearing I can rely on.

"I don't know. Right now, I'm having a good time with him. I don't know if he's in love with me or just playing with me, but I know I love him. I just realized it on the way over in the Hyper-Loop, because I missed him more than I wanted to be with you," she confesses.

There’s a long pause while I take that in.

Sorry,” she says, softly, taking my hand in hers.

Are you mad at me?” she asks.

No, not mad, just a little surprised, that’s all,” I reply, looking out at the glassy shine on the water’s surface.

Do you really want to tell me that you’ve been completely happy with me?” she asks.

No, I don’t really want to tell you that,” I reply.

I knew it. You know?” she says quietly.

I suspected that you did,” I reply.

She looks at me with a face that reminds me of why I married her in the first place. She is and always will be special. She has a complete trustworthiness and naturally simple unassuming aura, an innocence about her that I never really appreciated, until now.

"I see. OK, so I want you to know that I'll support you in anything you do. But, it just so happens that I have something important I need to tell you too," I begin.

"OK, but don't tell me you're having an affair also?" She asks, almost laughing.

"Well, maybe, in a way. I'll be leaving you in a few days. This trip was meant to be my way of saying good-bye because I'm not guaranteed that I'll be coming back any time soon. I’m kind of an astronaut now," I say, trying to maintain my composure.

Her sexy little pout turns into her perfect imitation of when she was a teen-ager, which I missed, but sometimes wish I hadn’t.

"Oh yes, it's that strange government job that you took recently," she murmurs.

"Yes and honey I have no ill feelings towards you and what you're experiencing right now with this guy. If he's good to you, I want you to go for it. I know I've been a bit distant lately and it's because I'm in love with my work. You know that, right?" I ask, hopefully.

"I know. You're always saying that. And, isn’t that just a little convenient right now? Couldn't you be just a little angry right now?" She asks, almost disappointed.

"I know and I am a little angry and jealous. But jealous for what you have. Is this guy good to you?" I ask.

"Yes, very good to me, at least so far," she replies, slowly.

"How long has it been going on?" I ask, noticing a pod of dolphins surfing the waves a few feet away.

She starts to tell me the time and place they met, somewhere at a Yoga class or something like that. I’m not paying attention because I really don’t care. I’m more relieved than anything that I didn’t have to tell her my feelings have changed towards her, because she did it for me. What amazing luck. Or is it?

While she's talking about her initial attraction and how it grew to something more, blah, blah, blah, I notice a group of five or six figures running down the beach about a football field away from my blond shadow guy, still seated on his towel and watching us, or me, even more carefully.

He seems to notice them the same time that we do.

"What is it?" Elizabeth is concerned, reacting to my sudden awareness of the approaching danger from down the beach.

The dolphins have all ducked out of sight.

I'm becoming more concerned at this point because the six approaching figures are all dressed in black from head to foot. I can’t see their faces at all. Pointing at our location, they're shouting at each other in a language I do not interpret. They also appear to have automatic rifles at their sides and as I recognize what these things are, begin to point them in our direction.

Suddenly, I notice dozens of small puffs of sand flying up in all directions all around us and then I hear the bursts of the guns firing, immediately thereafter.

"Rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat," is a universal kind of warning of imminent danger that is new to me, but I catch on quickly.

In between us and the six attackers, my blond shadow man has jumped to his feet, throws off his robe revealing that he too is heavily armed. He begins to fire at the six black figures who have drawn to just a few feet away from him. They have ignored him at their own peril. He instantly renders three of them deceased.

The remaining three stop in their tracks and train their weapons in his direction, giving me time to remove the flashlight device I’ve stowed away in the cooler. I had intended to show it off to Elizabeth to justify how busy I’ve been and reveal what my work has been about.

Now, it appears that I'll be giving her a much more real live demonstration than I had planned.

The blond-haired shadow-man takes a round in his left leg just below the knee and I see him go down in the sand while I'm raising my flashlight and pointing it at the three remaining attackers just beyond him.

"You're going to use a flashlight on them?" Elizabeth yells, flattened out in the sand.

I press the trigger as quickly as I can after acquiring the first of the three in my sights.

He disappears just as I knew he would.

The other two turn their weapons away from blond-man, towards us, but just a fraction of a second too late.

I spray the area with a wider beam of anti-matter so that I can't miss. I aim too low. Several hundred feet of sand beneath their feet disappears, exposing black lava rock all around them and then further below the hole is a huge lake of fiery red-hot lava which suddenly rises up to engulf them in a huge ball of fire. Their bodies instantly evaporate with a loud hiss and a huge cloud of steam rises high in the air.

I believe I hear a couple of very loud screams as they are consumed. The pit grows big enough to engulf the other three who blond-hair-shadow-man has wounded. They also hiss and scream as they fall into the lava pit and are also consumed instantly by it.

Blondie is close enough for the heat of the lava to singe his hair off of his head, making him suddenly bald as a billiard ball. It also takes his eye-brows before he can gather up enough momentum to get his butt out of there.

He scurries away from the edge of the pit and clamors over to where Elizabeth and I are standing. Without the least expression of pain, he presses his towel tight onto his leg wound to stop the bleeding. He looks down at the flashlight I’m still holding tightly in my hands.

"Quite an impressive little flashlight you've got there," blondie says, looking back at the red hot lava pit.

"Glad you liked it. You're on our side, I take it," I reply.

"Tiger McCarthy sent me," he says, grimacing.

I suddenly realize that this is the same guy that's been shadowing me ever since that day in the Hyper-loop. What's thrown me a little is that he's just dyed his hair blond.

"If it wasn't for you, we'd all be dead. You gave me the time to get hold of my flashlight," I say, gratefully.

Two or three small groups of teen-agers who had been walking along the beach path are also milling about, pointing us out in total amazement.

I look over at Elizabeth and notice an expression of total shock and disbelief.

"So, this is your work?" She says, gesturing to the flashlight.

"Yeah. Part of it. I was just going to tell you about it," I inform her.

To my left, suddenly, I can hear the squeals of the dolphin pod coming back to our beach. They appear to know something of what has just transpired and are busily chirping away at us on the beach. Some are enthusiastically beating their tail-fins against the surf to rocket them out of the water and skimming upright in a kind of salute, I think. It's quite a moment, making me happier to be alive than any time I can remember.

Finally, blondie breaks the silence.

"Can we get me to a hospital, please?"

"Oh, of course. Come on honey, help me get him to his feet," I grunt.

I need the help. He sports a very solid and dense body.

We get him to his feet and trundle him off the beach and over to a low wooden sand barrier near the front steps of the condos.

My wife who has been a nurse somewhere in her career, asks one of the teen-agers for his belt and then uses it as a tourniquet for Blondie’s leg wound.

The crowds who have been largely quiet all this time are now gathering around us closer and start to ask many embarrassing questions about the flashlight which I've now clipped back onto my waist band.

I try to minimize the curiosity by telling them that it’s a new kind of shotgun.

One of them kindly recalls that it made no explosive sounds when I used it.

I tell him that it’s got a silencer on it.

But, it opened up that lava pit over there, man” one of them points out.

No, that just happened to erupt at the same time I was firing at those guys. Who were those guys, anyway? Does anyone know them?” I ask the crowd, trying to divert attention away from my flashlight.

Oh yeah, well that was one Hell of a coincidence then, man,” the teen-ager says, fixated.

We're all starting to feel the immense heat even at this distance from the lava pit that I've just created.

Someone in the crowd of on-lookers shouts and points at the red hot mess, just beyond us.

I look over at the glowing red hole in the sand and to my horror it appears to be growing. The beach is being eroded at first slowly, but it’s also accelerating and threatens to tear up a huge section of the coastline.

The ocean water begins to rush in to the pit creating a huge steam cloud billowing high into the air all around us which in turn starts to create a slimy fog all around us.

"Everyone, run!" I shout at the crowd. For a brief second or two they all turn to look in horror at the rapidly widening hole. They quickly understand my order to get out of the area.

The hole starts to accelerate and is at our feet literally in a red hot minute.

I notice the panic in Elizabeth's eyes. Blondie is not ready to panic, but since he can't run very fast, he gets the religion very quickly with the red fury just a few feet away now. The heat is withering. I can feel my skin starting to melt. I can't believe it.

As the red hot lava begins to eat up the sand at my feet, I'm quickly realizing that it's too late for the three of us to escape from this monster. I can see that the crowd of onlookers will likely get away because they were all up on the cement walkway and roadway, just a few feet above the beach. Down here on the sand, it's another story. We’re going to have to fight for our lives. I can’t believe that it’s going to end this way.

The space around us is rapidly overwhelmed, everything suddenly surrounded by the red hot lava and stranding us here on this spot. I’m choking. The heat is frying my lungs. The awful truth hits me like a ton of bricks that our only escape is to take the greatest leap out of this world that only I can provide for the three of us.

Just before the heat knocks me out, I make the decision. I remove the flashlight from my waist band. I have just enough time to aim it at Elizabeth and I press the trigger. She looks at me as though I've betrayed her totally, but there is no other choice.

"There's no other choice!" I yell at her as she vanishes from our universe.

I point the device at Blondie and notice that his last expression is one of gratitude. He’s nodding at me.

Do it,” he yells, forcefully.

The last thing I see is his blond hair and his white teeth gleaming at me from out of the haze.

By now, the heat is curdling my skin. My hair is literally on fire. I look up and notice the crowd above yelling that help is on the way, but it will be too late, I know. I point the device at my midsection and without hesitation because I can ill afford any more seconds in this place, I press the trigger, just as the red lava flow completely overwhelms our little section of beach.

My thoughts are scattered. I’m thinking that this is a highly unusual way to spend a vacation. I’m thinking about my wife, Elizabeth and if I will meet her on the other side. And oddly enough, I’m thinking about the other guy in her life now and how he may take the news.

Most importantly, I’m also thinking about how on Earth we might get back, or when, or if we get back at all.

# # #

A pair of uniformed soldiers stand at attention in front of Secretary McCarthy's desk.

"Mr. Secretary, we've just gotten word that Jack Coppersmith, his wife and our agent, Sargent Ahern have disappeared. Witnesses say that they were consumed by a kind of berserk lava flow that exploded out of nowhere on a beach in Hawaii," the aid, reports.

The Secretary is motionless for a couple minutes, attempting to put the news in the proper perspective and then suddenly, he grasps it.

"Get me General LeBuff!" Secretary McCarthy orders immediately into his intercom.

"Yes, sir," a voice comes back.

"OK, you two, I want you to take the Loop out there to Hawaii. I want you to find anyone who was there and saw this thing and grill them pretty good. This sounds a little fishy to me. I want to know if Coppersmith had his flashlight with him," General McCarthy tells the pair of uniforms, a Lieutenant Colonel Skip Brazen, US Marines, and a Lieutenant General Shania Johnston, US Air Force.

"Yes, sir, it was reported that witnesses said that someone - and we think it was Mr. Coppersmith - during the attack was aiming a small black flashlight all over the place and they thought it was odd because it was broad daylight at the time," Lt. Colonel Brazen replies, tersely.

Attack? What attack?” McCarthy barks at them.

Oh, yes sir. I forgot to mention sir. Another witness told us that there had been some kind of terrorist attack on the beach with automatic weapons fired at the three of our people prior to the volcanic eruption and then their disappearance. This must have been what he was aiming at," Lt. General Johnston adds.

OK, get out there immediately. Leave right now. Find out as much as you can, especially if there's any more intel about these people who were attacking them. Is that understood? Do you have any further questions on your assignment?" McCarthy commands.

"Perfectly, sir. No questions, sir," Lt. General Johnston replies efficiently.

The two aids salute in unison, swivel neatly through a complete one hundred and eighty degree pirouette and escort each other out of the Secretary's office.

"Hello, Barney?" General McCarthy noticing his phone light up, hits a speaker button on his desk.

"Yes, Mr. Secretary, General Barney LeBuff from the Drone Center in Palo Alto, calling in as you requested, sir,” the phone reports in his ears.

"Copy that. Thank you. Barney, do you have any information on what just took place in Hawaii?" The Secretary directs into his phone on the desk.

"No sir. I do not. Can I ask what you have?" General LeBuff replies.

"Well, you can ask, but I don't have much intel yet. I'm sending a team to investigate. They're leaving now," Secretary McCarthy replies.

He paces behind his desk for several steps in either direction, scowls, rubs his forehead, growls at no one in particular.

Both men are silent for a brief moment.

"Maybe you could send Magnitsky out there? He’s the expert in this kind of thing, right?" General LeBuff suggests.

Secretary McCarthy stops abruptly in his tracks as his face suddenly lights up.

"Great idea. I’ll send him,” McCarthy agrees.

Yes, I’m sending him along with Colonel Brazen and General Johnston," the Secretary continues.

"Yes sir. Good idea, sir," General LeBuff mumbles into the phone.

"Whatever it is, we have to get to the bottom of this. Coppersmith was not authorized to bring the weapon with him on vacation, was he?" General LeBuff wonders aloud.

"Certainly not. I'm hearing that he somehow bluffed his way past security. They had no idea they were supposed to prevent flashlights from leaving the building," Secretary McCarthy states with a fair amount of consternation.

"Mmm, yes, who could have foreseen something like that?” Well, there's no telling where he is now, and what he's up to," General LeBuff muses.

"Of course, if they were under some kind of terror attack, you can probably excuse this breach of security, and the device does belong to him, not us, I believe," LeBuff continues.

"True," McCarthy agrees.

"Well, at least I can say this. From working with the man as I have these past few weeks, I do believe he's loyal, sir," LeBuff volunteers.

"I hope so, General LeBuff. I certainly hope so," the Secretary says, gazing off into the distance.

"If anyone can bring him back, it would be Magnitsky, sir," LeBuff says.

"Yes, I guess that’s so," the Secretary says, resignedly.

He peppers the end of their discussion with a manly grunt from his basic training days.

"Mr. Secretary," the intercom interrupts.

"Yes?" McCarthy responds, holding his hand over the phone’s mouthpiece.

"The President is on the line," the voice answers.

"Oh God, that's all I need," McCarthy mumbles into the air.

# # #

This part of my story is almost impossible to describe accurately. When you take a blast of anti-matter squarely in the face as the three of us have just done, there is a sensation of suddenly being part of something so incredibly complex and intricate in so many ways that it’s a miracle that you’re still alive. The sensation of being alive is persistent in this quantum state, but it is a different kind of ‘aliveness’, if that is a word.

In this state of matter, a person is not truly a unique and integral unit as one normally feels in the type of aliveness such as you are experiencing now. In this disintegrated state, the ego is completely removed from the mind. There is no longing, no desire, no needs to fulfill like breathing, eating or drinking or even for sex. There is only a persistence of individuality that snaps into a larger persistence of aliveness that is part of the universe as a whole. In other words, there is no separation from anything any longer. It’s a knowledge that God exists and we are all part of God. And, it’s not just a faith in God’s existence that we are forced to believe by an outside force. It’s the force of God itself that we are now part of.

There is also a sense of satisfaction in knowing all of this, as though one was intended to know this all along, or that we once knew it and just forgot somehow. It’s only the constant physical cravings of the actual living unit, something I can recall even now in this special state of being, that prevents us from knowing it all. It’s something I intend to work on if and when I get back to the actual ‘normal’ living state.

And, to my great disappointment, that reality is coming at us fast. It’s like we’re falling, but not falling downward. I told you, it’s hard to explain.

With a wonderfully rapid 'flushing' sensation and at a speed and angle that defies description, we are down, suddenly and standing on the good old Terra firma once again. Blondie is in the lead most likely because I removed him first. Elizabeth is just above and ahead of me on this long and winding slide through space and time. I am bringing up the rear.

When we abruptly arrive at the end of our ride, we find ourselves standing face to face and belly to belly in the other universe, though we can’t know this at this time. We are not capable of memories from another universe and so we all feel, at least I feel, as though this is our natural universe. How we got to this point in space and time never even enters our minds to question. We are suddenly back, sporting the same bodies and brains as we are accustomed to and that, thankfully, is enough.

Looking around, I see that it’s a beautiful day. I see the three of us currently standing around on a beach on the Big Island near Kailua Kona, one of my favorite spots on the planet.

I'm delighted to see a familiar pod of graceful gray dolphins frolicking in the surf just a few hundred feet away. I feel as though they are family. Always a delight to see, but this time they're all up on their tail fins, paddling the water to stand erect and completely out of the water. They seem to be very excited about something taking place on the beach, but I'm at a loss. I see nothing out of the ordinary here, just the typical tourists and me and my friends.

Elizabeth is here, who I know is my ‘ex’ and a curvaceous young blond woman, 'Trixie' whom I have only recently met somewhere. But I can't for the life of me, recall where. We’re staring at each other and no words come out. I have no idea why these two are standing here with me, but I’m OK with it. I feel that I’ve just woken up from a weird dream and the rest of this will soon come back to me.

I’m also feeling very strongly at this point that my beautiful and very talented wife Dana Del Rio, is about to join us. Straining to locate her, finally her fine slender figure appears to me out of the ocean mist. She’s joyfully jogging down the path from our condo to the beach filling out the sexiest bathing suit in the world, but sexy mainly because she’s in it.

Maybe it's wishful thinking, but the fact that I had been married to this other woman, staring at me oddly, doesn't seem to bother us. I have no idea why she is here, but it’s cool and modern and it’s fun, so I go with it and so does she.

Dana runs up to me eagerly and I smile broadly as she rushes up to my front and hugs me tight and then kisses me passionately, right in front of the others.

"Hello, darling. So, here you are. I've been looking for you all morning. Where did you get off to?" Dana asks, suddenly noticing the other two in my little group.

How to explain my happiness in this moment? I feel as though I have not seen this wonderful woman in years even though I know that we're happily married and that this universe is the place where I belong, have always belonged and will always belong to.

Our recent narrow escape from the firey red hot lava pit that we’ve just undertaken, is not readily retrievable information for me at this point.

"Hi beautiful," I begin. "I just came outside to get a load of this amazing morning. Have you ever seen a sky like that?" I ask, pointing out to the horizon.

Pink cotton candy clouds are silently melting into each other. Just above the horizon, ominous dark clouds are making love with the undulating surface waters. The crispy white sand under our feet crackles in appreciation and acceptance of our feet.

"No, never, my Darling. Aren't you going to introduce me to your friends?" Dana asks, turning her attention towards the other two.

"Oh, yes, of course. This is my friend, Elizabeth," I begin.

"Ex-wife, you Bozo!" Elizabeth exclaims, playfully jabbing me in the arm.

"All right, if you please, my ex-wife," I admit, suddenly learning about this right here at this moment.

"And this is . . . " I can't go on because I don't know her name.

"What's your name again?" I ask her.

"Trixie", she replies.

Just as with Elizabeth, I know I've seen her somewhere before, but just cannot place exactly where or how we know each other. Her jaw has a prominence that I know belongs to a friend, somehow.

"What's that flashlight doing hanging from your belt? Are you starting to do 'maintenance' somewhere, for some reason?" Dana asks me, noticing my side-arm for the first time.

"No, it's nothing like that. It's part of my new research job," I tell her.

"Research where? You're an entertainment lawyer. What research?" Dana asks.

"Yes, that's true, I am, or at least that's my cover," I reply.

Now, I must tell you that, at this point, it's amazing to me how I even dared to tell her about things that live in my other universe. It stems from something deep inside me that makes me say it. It’s what we call instinct, I think.

"Your cover? What does that mean?" She asks me, more deeply scrutinizing the other two standing here with me on our little beach.

"I'm just kidding. You know? I'm always playing around with you and you can't get enough, right?" I ask, pulling her in tight.

"You're such a bum," she replies.

"I tell you what. Let's go get our snorkeling gear and go for a swim. Look how beautiful it is out there," I suggest, turning for the house.

"And what about them?" Dana asks.

"Oh, they'll survive," I reply.

Hey, look you guys why don't you go down the beach and get yourself some breakfast at the Pancake House," I say as I toss Elizabeth my wallet.

This seems to satisfy Dana and Elizabeth for now though they are looking at each other very suspiciously for some reason.

"Good, so let's go get changed, sweetheart," Dana suggests and guides me along up the path to our condo. The other two turn and then start to walk down the beach in the direction of the cafe.

"I'm remembering something. I think it's important," I begin.

"What’s that?" She asks, barely looking up at me.

"I'm supposed to find somebody and prevent them doing something to somebody else," I say to myself out loud.

Something is swarming over my brain like the strongest kind of a migraine. It's a deep thought that I'm supposed to have, but the thought itself is having a hard time surfacing even though my brain is straining very hard to release it.

"So, are you OK, my love?" Dana asks as we get to the door.

"I think so," I reply.

Dana slides behind the little wet-bar and locates all the ingredients for her famously stiff Margarita. She mixes the ingredients in the blender. Pours in the extra bit of Tequila that I - well actually both of us enjoy. She throws in some ice, tops it with a lime twist and then she walks over to me and hands me my concoction.

A toddy for the body,” she says and clinks our glasses together.

"So, what on Earth is your ex-wife doing here?" Dana asks, over politely, her smile swashed all over the room.

"I have no idea, whatsoever. It may have something to do with that Trixie chick, but I just don't know," I reply.

We clink glasses.

"OK - so let’s drink to ex wives and ex lovers!" she says, holding up her glass to mine, giving me the evil eye.

"Cheers," I return and take my first sip of the spicy beverage that she and she alone can do so well.

"I thought that this was going to be a special romantic hideaway trip for us this time," Dana complains, moving over to the sofa and sitting down gently.

"Oh, yes, I know. Actually, I promise it will be precisely that. I just have to figure out how to get rid of those two," I reply.

"Well, what's your best strategy for getting it done in the next few minutes?" Dana asks, gesturing at the window.

I move over to it and look out.

Not far down the beach I can view Elizabeth and Trixie slowly meandering back in our direction.

"They don't know which condo we're in, do they?" Dana asks.

"No, we can't just hide from them," I suggest and start towards the doorway. But Dana pulls me back down onto the sofa.

"You mean they actually don’t know where we’re staying?" Dana asks, suggestively.

"I don't think so. How could they, we just got here," I remind her.

"What are you talking about? We've been here since yesterday. You showed up with these two a few minutes ago. Where did you find them, by the way?" Dana recalls and then wonders.

"At the lava pit," I'm slowly recovering the thought that was struggling to come to the surface of my brain moments ago.

"What lava pit?" Dana asks.

"You know the one right . . . " I stop abruptly, realizing that the lava pit, which is simply not visible, would have been right there on the beach outside our window.

It was right there on the beach where Elizabeth and Trixie are now walking very safely on the perfectly ordinary warm white sand.

"It's not there any more," I mumble to myself.

"You're saying there was an open lava pit down there?" Dana asks, greatly befuddled.

"I guess that's what I'm saying," I reply.

"We're over here, you guys," I yell at them at the same moment that they spot me and start up the path to our door.

"Imagine what that would do to our Real Estate values," Dana says in a semi-quandary, just as they enter the complex.

My ‘ex’ and her companion are just outside the front door of our condo complex and scanning in all directions to learn where we are.

I jump up again and go to the door. This time, Dana neglects to stop me.

"We were wondering where you were?" I say, welcoming them into the condo.

"Well anyway, that restaurant you told us about is closed," Elizabeth says.

"Oh, sorry," I reply, motioning for them to sit.

"Would you like a Margarita? Dana makes a killer version," I ask hospitably.

"Sure, but don't you two want to be alone?" Elizabeth answers.

I look at Dana and try to get her sense of the answer we should give.

"I mean, we just got here, but I can tell you two are really gonzo about each other," Elizabeth continues, glibly or is it sarcastically? I can’t tell.

I have to give her credit. For being my 'ex', she sure is acting like a real sport about this turn of events. I'm trying to recall what went wrong with our relationship in the first place.

Dana looks at me like she knows what I'm thinking.

"Imagine if what would do to your Real Estate values?" Trixie asks, confused about Dana’s joke.

I hand her a nice cold margarita.

"I asked Jack where you three met up and he tells me that you met at a lava pit and for some reason he seems to think it was right out there on our beach. Of course he's having one of his 'fun-fugues', as I like to call them. There's never been any lava flows out there," Dana replies, pointing outside.

"They call it in Hawaiian - 'Ah-Ah'," I point out as an aside.

"Oh, the lava pit, yes. That's funny, I was just talking about that to Elizabeth on our way back over here. I had a dream or something of a lava pit opening up somewhere and I was sure it was right here. Because the beach is the same. The condos are the same. Everything's the same, but different," Trixie says loud at first and then the words taper off.

"If I saw lava coming towards me I'd probably call it 'Oh-Oh' instead, wouldn’t you?" I joke, targeting no one in particular.

No one laughs or talks. We're all kind of speechless.

It's an awkward moment. I'm wracking my brain trying to think of a joke or a story that will get us all back into some kind of conversation flow. Anything will do.

My mind's a total blank.

Then, Dana notices the flashlight again.

"Darling, this is the first time I've seen you carrying a flashlight around in broad daylight. You going daft, old boy? What's gotten into you?" She asks, chuckling and poking me with a sharp digit.

It's odd, but I haven't even noticed the strange thing until she pointed it out and now it’s beginning to bother me.

Strange thoughts start to come flooding back to me.

So, why would I be carrying a flashlight in the middle of the day? That’s odd. I'm sure that it has something to do with how we all got here. But how? She's right. I must be going senile.

I remember being very hot, burning up. Then, the flashlight and then we were here.

# # #

Secretary McCarthy is pacing back and forth behind his desk. President Blake Pulliam's voice is being broadcast all over the office. McCarthy's facial expression says it all.

"We have no idea where they are, Mr. President," Tiger McCarthy announces, abruptly.

"We have no idea - is not exactly what I want to hear - Tiger", the President says, sharply in rebuke.

"Look, Mr. President, it could be they were overtaken by that fissure opening up on the beach. And that would be tragic of course,” McCarthy suggests.

Horrible, of course,” the President says, calming down.

Or it could be something else along these lines. There were terrorists who created some kind of eruption and Jack used his ray-gun to save his life as well as our agent Ahern and his wife Elizabeth. It could be just as simple as the reports suggest," McCarthy offers.

"You're telling me an eruption could be caused by terrorists?" The President muses, frustrated.

"I don't know. We don't have enough information yet. I'm sending Dr. Magnitsky to get his take on things. He's in the Loop now," McCarthy replies.

"So, you guys have been working on this kind of thing for over three years now and you're telling me, we're unable to get ahead of this?" The President demands.

"I'm afraid so, Mr. President. Magnitsky has developed the anti-anti-matter ray and this guy, Coppersmith contemporaneously developed the anti-matter ray. So, we’re sort of learning as we go. But so far, Magnitsky hasn’t yet uncovered any type of bridge between one universe and the other. There may be a major type of barrier that we have just recently encountered. It's going to take some time to work out what it's made of before we can learn how to breach it at will," McCarthy offers the President some hope.

And yet, Magnitsky was able to bring Coppersmith back on two occasions,” The President reminds him.

"Apparently, but we have no idea really where he went both times. It could have been that he was in the flux, the space between the two universes. We just don’t have enough evidence yet,” Magnitsky counter-theorizes.

Then, how do we know that there are indeed two universes or more?” The President asks.

"Ah, yes, well, we know about the other universe mainly because of the 'Black Cat Experiment," McCarthy shoots back.

"OK, I'll bite. What the Hell is the black cat experiment?" The President asks.

"It took place a few years ago in the early stages of our research. One of our lab assistants brought in her two cats. One was a plain old gray cat, but a recent mother. The woman, I forget her name, Karen something or other, I think, wanted to find a home for the kitten. It was a very unusual jet black kitten with bright green eyes, almost neon," McCarthy begins, then pauses.

"OK, go on," the President says, following along.

"So, Magnitsky gets the idea to place the mother cat in an anti-matter chamber and send her into the other universe to see what happens to her kitten," McCarthy continues, struggling to recall the details of the experiment.

"OK, go on," The President shows a little impatience.

"Well, before he does that, he has each of us, about a dozen of us at least, to write down the words 'The kitten is black', and put the piece of paper in our desk drawers and lock it for safekeeping, even throwing away the key," McCarthy recalls.

And why did they write down that the kitten was black?” The President asks.

In case, we all forget what it looked like prior to the removal of the mother,” McCarthy replies.

"All right, and then," the President sounds calmer.

"Oh and before we did anything, we had someone come in and take a blood sample from the mother and the kitten to establish their DNA," McCarthy interjects.

'OK, good idea, right," the President agrees.

"So, then Magnitsky puts the momma cat in the chamber and turns it on. The cat disappears as was expected and we wait exactly five minutes. And, then he reverses the polarity of the chamber so that it now neutralizes the anti-matter. And the momma cat is back with us. You with me?" McCarthy says.

"Yes, I'm with you. So, what happened?" The President asks.

Well, at first nothing. The momma cat was the same and the kitten was the same as before,” McCarthy says.

So, what was the point?” The President asks, confused again.

Well, Magnitsky doesn’t give up. He realizes that his timing may be off, so he repeats the experiment and waits longer and longer before he reverses polarity and brings the momma cat back. When he’s done it about a hundred times, and by this time, he makes the waiting period go to four hours and a few minutes. It works,” McCarthy says.

So, what happened?” The President asks, excited.

"The momma cat is back, but we look over at her kitten and he's no longer a black cat with green eyes. He's actually turned grayish, sort of mottled with brown stripes and his eyes are blue," McCarthy replies.

"All right, and your conclusion was?" The president asks.

"With that amount of time on her hands, momma cat was able to find a different father for her kitten. She mates with a completely different male than the first father of her kitten and the results were amazing,” McCarthy says.

"And let me guess, somehow even the kitten’s DNA was different?" The President asks, catching on quickly.

"Yes, we tested the kitten again and its DNA was completely different. We didn’t have the father of course, but it certainly matched the mother, so nothing changed there, but it also changed all along the new father’s chromosome. We could see that instantly," McCarthy concludes.

"So, it was a completely new kitten. Very interesting," the President says.

"That's how we know they don't just disappear and remain in the same universe," McCarthy says.

"OK, I can see that McCarthy, but my question is - Is the kitten the same kitten as it was before momma cat went over?" The President ponders, perceptively.

"Well, your guess is as good as mine, on that score. All I can say is that Magnitsky believes that it's the same kitten because it never moved out of this universe. It only changed a little genetically, less than one hundredth of one percent. It had to be the same kitten having the same thoughts, living in the same place, but who would experience a slightly different series of events impacting it from that point on, a new line of fate. And we all had to agree that this would have human repercussions as well," McCarthy recalls.

"What do you mean by that, exactly?" The President asks.

"Well, it was a black cat. I'm a black man. And so even you know how people react to black cats, right?" McCarthy contends sharply.

The President stares off at the wall for a while. It's several moments before he’s able to reply.

"And that's not going to be his fate now? Is that what you're saying?" The President asks.

"That's what I'm saying, Mr. President," McCarthy replies.

# # #

Quantum physicist Rick Magnitsky arrives at the loop terminal and orders an auto-car to take him to the beach on Kailua Kona where he has been ordered to investigate recent events concerning myself and my compatriots.

He's amazed to find an array of huge dump trucks, cranes, tractors, all feverishly working to cover up the lava pit. They're poring hundreds of tons of rock, gravel, boulders and sand into the pit. It seems to be working, but at a very slow pace.

It's extremely dangerous work and several hundred National Guard troops have circled around the pit to make sure no one else gets too close and falls in. Sadly it has happened to a few curious tourists already in the last few days.

The residents of the area are mostly out on their front yards watching with great apprehension. If this operation doesn't work and this strange phenomenon continues, they will all be homeless soon, paradise lost.

Magnitsky looks over his shoulder to his right and spots the two uniforms that General LeBuff told him were sent ahead. They're following their instructions and interviewing the neighbors and other witnesses asking for more information on what they saw and heard at the time of the eruption. They are each busily taking copious notes.

Magnitsky removes his anti-anti-matter device, the size and shape of an old-fashioned ink-pen from his pocket and adjusts the settings for a wide area targeting just enough so that he can reverse the apparent damage done by my ray gun earlier.

He stands there for a few seconds on the sidewalk and notices a news team from the local Hawaiian NBC affiliate. They are panning their cameras all around the pit for background 'B-roll' shots of the disaster that they will most likely use on the night's news programs.

Magnitsky realizes that he will have to return later.

Looking up at the blue sky and then down at his watch, he calculates that the sun will be down by 8:15 or so. He makes his way to the nearby shopping area to find a meal and potentially a room close to the scene.

He’s starting to feel that he may have to remain here for a while.

As Magnitsky turns to leave the beach, a familiar figure catches his attention from out of the corner of his eye.

He turns slowly to see a man in his twenties wearing a head-to-foot white robe with an intricate red checkered hood, definitely not tailored in the West. There's something about the face too that worries him. He's seen this face before.

The man is alone and is staring transfixed into the pit and seems totally unaware of Magnitsky or anyone else.

Magnitsky quickly remembers the mission at the drone control center where they were watching video from the drone following the Toyota truck. He can see it quickly closing in on Sindar-Bin-Sindar, the terrorist target of the day when they were seconds from removing this man from this world.

But someone, somehow forced the drone to fail in the last seconds, just at the moment where Captain Wanamaker was about to squeeze the trigger to fire the weapon. Magnitsky recalls the face of total shock and surprise in the window of the Toyota truck. This is the same face that appeared on their drone monitors that day.

At that moment, Sindar-Bin-Sindar looks around as if sensing Magnitsky's curious glare. It takes him a moment to focus in on his observer and suddenly realizes he's been made.

Magnitsky watches as the dark slender man takes a few vaulting steps and disappears into the crowd.

Magnitsky chases after him. But it's too late. He's gone.

It’s not possible for this man to have evaded him that easily and yet . . .

"How did he do that?" Magnitsky wonders.

Chills scramble up and down his spine from one of the possible answers.

# # #

Today, I’ve decided to do some online money laundering as I like to call it. Somehow, I’ve accumulated more than a billion dollars in various investments. That may sound like a lot, but at this point in time, it’s just about enough to keep the lights on.

I go in and out of soybeans, solely based on the fact that I love Tofu. I go long and short on the dollar, in and out of Bitcoin, long and short on the index funds, in and out of the Russell 2,000, and sometimes we even take a flyer on reliable and safe sports bets.

On this day, I'm reallocating about half of our assets into a new kind of money that is based on the older models but works much more efficiently and fairly. The new money called 'Fractons' is a simple bookkeeping of one's debits and credits and runs on Version 10 of Block-chain.

It’s truly revolutionary. One no longer needs to have a job or even an avocation to survive any more in the new economy as long as you have access to Fractons, simply fractions of credit a person can earn at any point in their life by performing certain tasks that are judged to be good for the society as a whole.

To earn more credit, any person, anywhere in the world simply accomplishes something for another person or group, has them authenticate the product or service is delivered and credits are instantly deposited into their account. I find this a very efficient, as well as the fairest, way to manage the world’s economy. I want to help it succeed, so I invest in it and tell everyone I know to do the same.

The system rewards active, creative, productive people more than the indolent or incompetent folks in the world, but doesn't require that anyone actually get hired for a traditional job, although that also works in this model. The contractor and contractee merely sign the binding agreements and it happens. The system itself has finally been proven to be unhackable by any person or computer on this planet and therefore safer and more secure than any other form of payment-for-services rendered in history.

But, the best part of the new currency is that it is completely democratic as well as racially, ethnically, gender etc. neutral. Any person regardless of age, sex, ethnicity, gender, etc., simply applies for a 'Fracton' account and then basically everything is automatic from that point forward. One has entered the new ‘gig economy’. When they've accumulated enough 'Fracton', they merely swipe their phone near a terminal and get cash in their preferred currency at the allocated exchange rate, or complete a purchase transaction.

The secret sauce of this new form of money is a computer algorithm, always running in the cloud and devised by a computer thinking about the problem of human survival completely on its own. It’s completely objective, un-hackable, unbreakable that is always running in the background of every other system running in the world at all times. It instantly calculates the values for the type of work being performed, all based on supply and demand, as it happens, and immediately calculates the proper compensation for all parties involved.

Many people are calling it the savior of the world, as if it is something both living and divine. It’s viewed as so accurate and fair, that a new religion is beginning to develop around it. They’re calling it ‘Rhythmism’, for now, because people are becoming quite used to a new kind of rhythm taking over. I’m hoping for a better name for it someday, but I can’t think of what it might be.

So sometimes, you can't find enough people to pick your grapes at any particular moment in a given region. Therefore, anyone who chooses to pick grapes in that locality at that time is going to earn a relatively high rate of compensation on their labor, simple supply and demand economics so far. The cost of labor in a labor shortage is recalculated every time a person volunteers to aid in the picking of grapes and begins picking the fruit. The going rate falls just a small fraction of a penny because one more worker came into the market.

The system is smooth and seamless. Under the old economy, grape farmers may have to plow many thousands of acres of crop back into the ground, while millions went starving, simply because they could not find enough workers to pick their crops in time.

Under the new system, in a labor shortage, in any given region, wages will be adjusted automatically by the algorithm until enough workers are enticed by the prevailing wage to join in the harvest and the crop is saved. Everyone wins, including the consumer because they are always guaranteed they will eat grapes today. Workers are always free to move on to earn any higher wage at any time at any other endeavor. Very logical, very fair, very productive. And we are beginning to see the whole thing working because it’s fair and not influenced by twisted up and confusing government regulations and minimum earnings and benefits.

But, the real beauty of this new system is that everyone is aware of all labor and service rates of compensation minute by minute and put forth on their smart communication devices. Everyone knows what everyone else is earning at every moment of every day and this allows people who could not afford the luxuries in life to simply wait until the prices for that product are low enough for them to participate.

At first, folks were concerned about the loss of traditional ‘entitlements’ like Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, that kind of thing. But all of these social safety nets are not lost and are recalculated minute by minute by the Algorithm based upon how much each citizen has performed throughout their life. There is no paperwork, no bureaucracy. Everyone is paid according to how much they have contributed, plus a fracton.

A small fraction of every transaction in the world is withheld and stored in memory, and the calculation allocates a share to each individual worker on the planet. Eventually a share of the total sum set aside is requested by someone who has retired or become unemployed. Whatever is available for that person at that time is then paid to that person. The total elimination of the bureaucracy which has always stolen, borrowed from and otherwise corrupted these funds makes it all affordable because it’s constantly recalculated according to individual needs and the available funds at that time for that person. No more - no less.

And, this is the most important aspect of the new ‘Rhythmism’, if there is not enough money at any point to support all of the retired persons in any given area, the calculation is merely adjusted upwards on the cost of services or adjusted lower on the compensation for labor until there is enough to make the promises to the retired community be paid in full. Everything in the world economically and even ecologically is in a constant balance. There is no compromise with fairness any more. There are no greedy lobbying groups for any corporation or private individual any more who simply used to make the system so top-heavy, unfair, undemocratic, unethical and unjust.

The Social Contract today is the fairest and comprised of the highest moral values in our history as a species. This also means that it can improve on its own as well. Somehow the heart and soul of the ‘Master Algorithm’ is smart enough to know that it too must change based on the results, intended and unintended, of some of its strategies. In other words, it learns from its mistakes and is constantly improving in relationship to fairness, justice and equality.

But, equality for the ‘Master Algorithm’ includes enough consideration for every single life form on this planet so that every single life form is guaranteed to remain free from any kind of extinction or even pressure to reduce in numbers. Even insect lives are considered in the constant recalculation of what should be going on.

And this is where I could go off and make an entire new book on this subject alone, and perhaps I will someday. For now, just realize that the planet is finally in the hands of a management that cares about everyone and every thing so that we no longer have to worry about the end of the world or the extinction of a species, especially our own. The overall guiding principle is that the home planet must be protected above all other considerations since it and it alone is the giver and the sustainer of life.

This is the part of the new economy that surprised us all the most when it was announced by The Algorithm one fine morning. Few of us were prepared for it, including myself, and yet it was put into place without comment or objection in a global upgrade on January 15, 2042. The Algorithm had apparently been cogitating on the problem for years until it finally resulted in the launch of its first major upgrade on its own and with absolutely no help from any human programmer. It was suddenly the law of the land and there was no real objection.

And so today, if there is an over-abundance of doctors or lawyers in any given region at any given time, it's often possible that grape-harvesters will earn a higher rate of pay than the local doctors or lawyers, simply because there is more demand in that region for grapes than health care services. In other regions of the world it could be the reverse or the same thing can happen to doctors and lawyers as measured against a different profession, say plumbers.

The good news is that these compensation amounts and costs are recalculated so fast and efficiently that it makes every day a guessing game that keeps life fun and interesting for most of us. We never know how valuable our services will be that day until the end of the day when we see our compensation flow into our accounts.

This completely objective computer algorithm makes for some truly wonderful adaptations in the work force as most people look in their banking app for indications of which type of labor is paying the highest that day which they might even be able to perform that day. In many cases, due to the degree of difficulty in finding the right kind of workers to sustain the planet, an ordinary person without a High School education can earn more than most Ph.D's.

If this kind of economic imbalance ever changes, the Algorithm will catch it and employ a higher conversion rate for the time spent doing the health care work or whatever work is most needed at that time.

Of course, this changes everything. You may even remember the days where we had to suffer the health care and payments imposed on us by a very corrupt and elite centralized political system where the so-called leaders employed very little if any creative thought or actions in any part of managing the economy.

Most of the time, we had to suffer through great economic booms or busts, like the Great Depression or the Great Recession. The booms never lasted long enough for most to take advantage and the busts always lasted long enough for most of us to suffer through a very large portion of our lives, with many of us giving up altogether. Somehow, after all the fancy speeches to the contrary, the ranks of the poor always expanded while the ranks of the super-entitled and super-rich always shrunk in relation to one another.

Needless to say, like every other great change in culture, the early adopters of this new form of money will be the most rewarded and this is being reflected in how much the 'Fractons' have grown in value and the more one has, the wealthier they have become, but in this case, one can earn as many ‘fractons’ as anyone else, by simply watching the daily ‘re-calc’, as it is called, and recasting one’s role in it.

In a way, the entire planet has been turned upside-down by this one major innovation. Today, there are millions of millionaires, but they are black and brown and every shade in between. The higher level incomes are mostly paid to laborers and house cleaners, contractors, bus drivers, gardeners, tour guides, farm workers, arborists, bee keepers, and the list goes on of people who actually do tangible things for others.

All this while the former wealthy classes have had nothing taken away from them. It’s going to be harder to achieve an elite status of any kind simply because the algorithm holds nothing sacred. There are no prestigious professions any more, to the exclusion of what is needed to be done. There are no more good-old-boy networks. There is no more country club advantages that can be applied.

One of the most popular catch phrases of the day is: ‘Urgent pay for urgent care.’ But this no longer means health care alone. It’s all about someone who can care enough to do whatever needs to be done that day, that week, that year.

As for myself, my own daily endeavors have been rewarded much more than I could ever dream possible, but only because I was able to pick the right side of trades that many others in my group missed. Sadly, those who missed the flip-flop of the global monetary system lost a ton of equity in those days. We were not given much notice, and I myself would have missed the greatest exchange of wealth in history as did the vast majority of my colleagues except for the fact that my beautiful Dana seemed to have a foreknowledge of this epic moment in history.

"Why is it everyone suddenly wants to pay for my paintings in this new currency?" She asked me, innocently one day at dinner.

"What new currency?" I said.

"I don't exactly know, but I think they said - 'fractons' or 'fractibles'?" She replies.

"Never heard of it," I said, vaguely making a mental note to research it on the web after dinner.

And what a surprise it was for me later that night, when I watched my scanner app toss me all of the information about this new form of money. I quickly realized it could become the backbone of an entire new economic model, one that could solve all the social and political problems of the past few thousand years in one fell swoop.

Imagine my chagrin when I realized that I had accumulated everything in the old-fashioned dollars. I could barely sleep that night. The thought took over my brain that this was the future and that I had better adapt very quickly or else go down in ignominious defeat.

The next day, I converted a few thousands of my dollars to 'Fractons', that my dear wife had alerted me to, and then watched over the days that followed how much in value they would rise, almost by the minute. It was a faster valuation explosion than any stock or even any commodity had ever risen in history, and by many orders of magnitude faster. And, as luck would have it, I would end up on the correct side of most major movements in the price - up or down. It was uncanny. Whenever I had to make a choice in the direction of this volatile market, I simply talked to Dana about it and I would eventually know the right answer.

As time went on, I gained more and more confidence and began to believe that I was perfectly in tune with the waves that this volatile commodity was making. I almost couldn't lose. This troubled me, of course and over time I became more cautious as I knew my luck would have to turn against me eventually, but then, I had Dana’s uncanny and unwitting wisdom on the subject to fall back on.

So, we simply could not go wrong. We were a team. We bought, or it's more accurate to say, we 'went long' on them more and more, sometimes shorting them too, until I could eventually convince all my entertainment clients to switch all of their money over too.

Then, I learned that they would soon begin trading in 'Fracton Futures'. This made it much easier to buy and sell or bet on the future value of these things rather than holding the actual 'Fractons' themselves. This sounds crazy, but it was like dealing in, trading in, holding onto, then discarding, reversing the direction of one’s own future, and by that I mean - literally.

I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun in my professional life than during these transitional times. Eventually, Dana and I were 'all-in', as they say.

The rest is history. Fractons have exploded into the standard currency for almost all nations of the world. But more importantly the Algorithm that developed alongside of the cyber-currencies is what made it sustainable and more legitimate than any other economic model because of the fairness of distribution of the stuff. It was the most improbable but most welcome segment of human history that I or anyone can attest to today. Suddenly, one day, we were all playing the game on an even playing field.

To be sure, this is an astounding turn of events in social progress and it's turning the entire global economy on its head. Only the most obsolete and moribund political pundits fail to rave about the new currency, but in the greatest irony of all, political pundits now earn, in most cases less than the average grape picker, because, as it turns out the supply of political pundits at any given time and place nowadays greatly outweighs the demand.

With all the best thinking about the care and maintenance of our world in the hands of a thinking machine, there is no need for the pontifications of the morally depraved and mentally handicapped. Happily, these beings are the only truly threatened species today.

Finally, it's my greatest pleasure to report these events to you. But, this is all just background information to help you understand the next part of my story. It is not the 'Fractons' that are important here, nor The Algorithm or even the revolutionary new economic model that we're utilizing in the world today that is the important part of this story.

No, indeed. What we discovered as Scientists, who are more fairly compensated by the Algorithm for doing this work is that it was not our great collective intellectual achievement as humans that saved the day. It was the anti-matter in the universe at the time, or perhaps the lack of it, that made it all happen. It all goes to show just how much can be accomplished when one removes or at least counter-acts all or most of the anti-matter that is impacting their lives.

Of course, it all depends on which universe you have ended up inhabiting. Some of my readers will relate to what I’m telling you as history, historical facts, a true and accurate description of the last forty or fifty years of your lives, plain and simple. And others of you will know my life story here as Science Fiction only.

What is important for you to remember every day from now on is that what you do with this information will determine your fate. If you choose to treat these real vibrations that I am giving you as impossible contrivances, your fate will remain on the track that it’s headed in right now. On the other hand, if you choose to treat these accounts as history as I know them to be, you will move your fate into a completely new direction.

What that direction shall be or in what form it shall take, of course, I cannot predict. That part is all up to you. I’m not God.

# # #

Because of all this success with Fractons, it was right about at this time in my career and marriage that Dana and I decided to do more entertaining, not for business any more, but just for the pure enjoyment of it.

We had just come home from Hawaii a few days ago with my ‘ex’ Elizabeth and her new friend Trixie in tow. They were ready to hang with us for the duration. How do I know? Because they simply never left our sight, never had any place else to go, never gave us any reason to kick them to the curb either. They simply became Dana and my best friends by default.

We had recently purchased our dream home, a ten bedroom bungalow in Malibu California, right on the cliffs. I don't want to tell you what we paid for it. Suffice it say that it would bankrupt most small nations. Due to my success with my 'fracton trading’, we could have purchased many more of these little beauties. This is still quite amazing to me because my success came so rapidly that it still seems like a dream. But, nearly everyone is just as amazed as I am in the new economy, just at various levels of appreciation, as I am describing.

And so this success also meant that we had enough cash flow to have swarms of friends and family come over almost every week-end for a celebration they would talk about for many days. We spared no expense for our friends and even friends of friends.

This day was going to be another such celebration.

The catering trucks have all arrived and their workers are busy setting up the tables where from all the night's flavorful goodies will be served.

I get a call from our regular entertainer, Pete from 'Pete And The Portables'. They can't make our party tonight, but they've made a call to a friend of theirs who will be able to perform on such short notice. I cringe to think of who that might be, but Pete guarantees that we will not be disappointed since his friend is quite a 'Get'.

When he tells me her name, I am close to expiring, and I don’t expire easily, trust me. But this is a miracle of a ‘Get’. She's one of my favorite musicians. She's one of the world's top ten most beloved names in 'Pop'. Best of all, after hearing about my career and my recent good luck, she has agreed to perform for only two Fractons. I have to take a moment to fully ingest what Pete has just told me.

He insists that it's true and that Lady Madonna is on the way and should arrive just after most of my guests have arrived, which is not a problem for me at all.

I thank him very enthusiastically and then rush off to tell Dana the good news.

I catch her in the kitchen discussing last-minute food preparation and presentation tips with a group of the servers we’ve used many times over the years. They know us and love us, I suspect because we always tip them more than they have the nerve to charge us, which is a lot.

Needless to say, we never have to work hard at choosing our party help because they give us in return truly amazing service. We've gone through a few dozen mediocre ones before settling on these three or four providers who always manage to arrive on time, get everything setup beautifully, never complain, have the most delicious food dishes on the planet and on top of all that are really fun to party with too. They obviously remove all of the stress and anxiety of preparing for an event like this.

When I announce that we're going to have Lady Madonna perform for us tonight, there's a highly enthusiastic collective scream from the girls and healthy high-fives from the guys.

Dana can't believe it, so I make the obvious observation that we'll just have to wait and see if she does in fact show up before too long.

Then, I hear the familiar razzing from my long-time business partner and one of my best friends - at least that's what I tell him - John Bertrand. He’s really one of the best people I’ve ever known.

"You getting your act together?" John asks, coming up from behind.

He and his wife, Ginger, are usually the first to arrive and he always asks the same question. We both know that he means well, but this is the only witticism he's managed to deploy in his entire life and simply doesn't need any more. 'Why fix something that ain't broke?', he'll say whenever I razz him back on its over-use.

I can’t wait for Pete and the Portables again,” Ginger tells me.

"Oh crap, they couldn't make it this time," I say, giving Ginger a hug, squeezing her butt, as she is always doing mine, our usual greeting.

John tries to ignore it, but I make sure he doesn’t.

Dana returns outside and gets her butt squeezed by John and everything is cool.

We get caught up on recent life experiences with John and Ginger which is always pretty boring, but in a unique way. It’s always slightly amusing to me that they can be so boring. But, when I tell them how boring they are, they just laugh and then I laugh and everything is wonderful between us.

Dana and I kiss and go our separate ways busily directing the caterers, bar-tenders, stage crews, parking valets, etc., in hopes that we might eventually be able to relax and entertain our friends and ourselves at some point.

Soon, we're happily overwhelmed by our guest arrivals. I love going from table to table to chat with each group, whom I barely know in real life, but who are starting to become regulars at the house. I’m happy to find that everyone’s happy and excited, outgoing and cool. The food is disappearing quickly as are the alcoholic beverages and that makes me glad to see.

I feel a truly epic party developing and everyone seems to be in total agreement. On the other side of the yard, I can see Elizabeth and Trixie mingling amongst the guests, welcoming them, exchanging pleasantries with them as if it’s their own party. At one point, they are both seated at a table together toward the far side of the yard, entertaining each other quite nicely as well as a few of the guests.

Elizabeth waves to me from across the yard and I wave back joyfully. It fills my heart with great pride that my relationship with my ex is so warm and friendly.

Then, I spot a dark and angular figure seated at their table. He's wearing Arab robes complete with the red and white checkered bhutra, the long flowing head scarf of the Arabian peninsula. He waves to me as well. He looks awfully familiar, but I don't have time to reflect on him much longer.

At this point, Lady Madonna's bus rolls up to the house and blocks the entire road. Several of her band and roadies quickly emerge and then spill over into where they know is a party. They're all extremely friendly, but efficient, carrying their instruments over to the stage. They appear eager to get things rolling along.

Then, there she is in all of her amazing glory. She's a whole bunch taller than I had imagined. She's all made up so that there's a sparkle and a glow, one might even say, an aura around her as she descends upon us.

"Lady Madonna," I start out with a stutter in obvious awe and admiration.

I start to hug her, but Dana runs up from behind me and gets to her before I can.

"You snooze, you lose," Dana tosses back at me.

"It's so wonderful you had an opening," I finally volunteer and then getting my hug.

"I know, right?" She replies.

She starts talking about the fact that they have to wrap up early because of another engagement in Vegas tomorrow, so they will be traveling in their bus overnight from Malibu.

I do my best to sympathize completely and try to tell her how lucky we are to have her at all. I invite her to join us at the table for drinks and she replies that she never eats or drinks before a performance.

I get the feeling that they've had better on the ride over. She appears to be coming down from the clouds.

I escort her over to the small stage we've just set up for her and I try to tell her about all the recordings she's made that have changed my life.

She's heard all of that before, but is gracious enough to smile and listen for a while.

Then, she gets suddenly very serious, excuses herself and starts to instruct the band which songs will be sung and in what order. Her play list is astounding and every song she mentions is a total memory blaster of my life.

The band begins to tune up. Dana and I are standing hugging each other and watching this most impressive scene developing in front of our eyes where musicians of this caliber start to recognize the moment when they’re switched on more than any other time in their lives. You feel it in the way the band warms up, connecting to each other, agreeing on the key, the beat, the tempo, the syncopation of it all.

They’re just about to begin when I hear a kind of thunderous racket coming from the street out in the front of the compound. Lady Madonna, with the microphone in her hand, looks over towards the street as does everyone else in the band. I turn and see our guests start to rise out of their chairs and head for the darkest and most distant parts of the property, some even jumping over the fence into the neighbor’s yards to escape in panic.

It sounds like all Hell has just descended upon us. And as if to announce their arrival from Hell, they gun their engines so that the thunder reverberates all over the neighborhood. I start to recognize and count dozens of extremely large motorbikes and their even larger riders collecting out in the front of the house all around Lady Madonna's bus.

Because her microphone is live, I hear Lady Madonna mumbling - 'Oh no, not again'.

I make a mental note that she must have been expecting them.

The bikers all dismount and remove baseball bats, hatchets, even swords from their bikes and then I notice a few with automatic rifles in their hands. They appear to be very worked up about something. They know somehow that Lady Madonna is here and they are about to terrorize her, me and my guests for some odd reason.

I call out for 'Security', such as they are, but out of the corner of my eyes, I see them all heading for the neighbor's yards right along with most of the guests.

"Some security," I say to Dana, thankfully still next to me but who now appears terrified. She's grabbing my arm so tight, it's almost numb.

The oddly dressed gang of bikers, heavily bearded, with black, greasy jack-boots, start to run and stomp their way into the back yard. I have no idea what to do. Everyone is scattering in all directions. I can see John and Ginger, Elizabeth, Trixie and our other friends, panicking, stumbling over one another to get away as quickly as possible. They’re screaming for me to follow.

Then, I realize that I have something dangling on my belt that might be extremely useful.

I quickly unclip my flashlight and point it at the gang now approaching us at a full run, yelling and screaming vulgar epithets threatening to kill every last one of us. And for what reason? I have no idea. They seem to be especially angry at Lady Madonna who stands above us on the stage, defiantly.

One of the roadies is trying to wrestle her to the floor of the stage but she's too mad. Leering at them and cussing at them, she's not intimidated at all.

Just as they approach, I yell at the top of my lungs for them to stop. Oddly enough they stop for a brief second, they laugh at me and then one of them points an automatic weapon in my direction.

I respond by leveling my flashlight in his direction and press the trigger, just milliseconds before he presses his trigger. Silently and effortlessly, he disappears.

Then, I spray the whole group of bikers behind as if you might spray an ant colony with a can of insecticide. They all vanish, one by one, as rapidly as I can focus my ray on them. My guests are a frozen and astonished group of onlookers, I notice.

Suddenly, all is peaceful. Everyone takes a deep breath. They're all gone. I can see only the faces of our friends, slowly wandering back into the yard, as astonished as a person can be. I’m just shocked but happy I could save the day this easily. It's a heady experience, I must say.

Up until this moment, I had no idea what this flashlight was used for. I only knew that I needed to carry it always. I make a promise to myself to carry it from now on, every moment of my life, without exception, but I would also like someone to tell me how it works.

One or two bikers who I missed somehow have avoided the annihilation of their brothers. They have made their way to the front of the house before I can adjust the sights of the device for a narrower beam which would cover the greater distance. I don't want to make my house disappear, so I have to let them go. The pair finally reach their motorbikes before I can catch them and they speed away in a thunderous roar that gradually fades into the night.

"OK, everyone. Danger’s over. Let's get back to the party, huh?" I announce to my friends, now slowly making their way back from their hiding places all over the neighborhood.

Someone in the crowd shouts out loud about what just happened? I think it's Selena Deleon, a dear friend and now a famous movie actress.

"What just happened?" She shouts. Others are echoing her concern.

I want to answer her, but I don't know how to begin.

I see Lady Madonna and her band in a clump near the stage steps trying to assess the situation. I can tell everyone is in a total state of shock, as am I.

I'm glad I have Dana in my grasp. That's all that matters. She's safe. The rest of my friends are safe. There is no visible damage to anything that I can see.

"Is everyone OK?" I ask.

Each of the guests starts to check up on each other.

"We're shaken, but still ready to Rock and Roll!"

The rest of the group takes great cheer in that assessment.

It's the voice of one of my newest friends, Chaz. I knew if anyone would recover quickly it would be this stalwart fellow, whom I have determined to be a professional party-goer, no more, no less. I can't see him in the crowd, but I recognize his voice somehow.

"What is that flashlight? I saw you point that flashlight at those guys and they just vanished,” he says, emerging from the crowd.

What the Hell was that?" Another voice chimes in.

"Actually, it was all just part of tonight's entertainment, my friends," I decide, suddenly, pulling myself out of my stock taking.

A phalanx of cop cars have quietly pulled up on the front drive with their blue, red and white lights flashing brightly, reflecting off the windows of my neighbor’s houses.

My brain is rapidly calculating what to do next. I realize that the flashlight is going to be an issue with the cops, so I quietly sneak it behind Dana's back and whisper for her to take it into the house and hide it somewhere.

She takes it and meanders off in the direction of the rear veranda. She makes it in the house just as the first group of cops runs into our back yard.

One of them recognizes Lady Madonna and asks her to step aside so he can individually record her impressions of recent events.

I know that just about everyone at my party is going to be carrying substances, now legal everywhere.

"Does anyone have a joint you can share?" I ask the closest group of people to me.

One of them hands me a lit joint and I take a long and deep puff of smoke into my lungs. A feeling of complete euphoria rushes over me, just as the cops come up to us and ask who's house this is.

I look at the name tag of the cop who seems to be in charge. It says 'Pepper'.

"I'm the owner, officer. Good evening. How are you doing, sir?" I begin, respectfully.

"Yes, fine, thanks for asking. So, what's been going on here?" Another one of the uniforms asks me, checking my eyes.

"Well, you see. We were just starting to listen to Lady Madonna here when . . . " I'm interrupted by another officer standing behind the first one.

"Where are the jokers who belong to those bikes outside?" He asks.

I look over to the side of the house and I can see Lady Madonna and her group rapidly boarding her bus, preparing to make their escape, I’m supposing.

Lady Madonna, rushed through her interview, runs over to the bus door, turns, finds me in the crowd and blows me a kiss and then shapes some words that I can't quite make out.

I take another long pull of the fragrant and delicious weed, probably grown not very far from here and recently harvested just for tonights events.

I blow out a huge smoke ring into the air just above the Sergeant's head.

"Ooh, officer, that's a really good question you've asked," I begin.

I am so amused by the question, to the great consternation of the cops, I start laughing so heartily and so loud that most of my friends are quick to follow suit. They have no idea why I'm so amused, but they are eager, apparently, to join in my merriment.

I believe that the joy and laughter of this night will be remembered for a long while. And, we haven't even started yet.

Now, what the Hell do I tell the cops?

# # #

Due to the very rapid changes that have taken place in the world recently, the transitional government found it necessary to set up 'Unacceptable Confusion Camps' or UCC's as they are called in this new world order, so named because the vast majority of us find this type of confusion to be unacceptable in a modern and manageable civilization. When a problem reaches epidemic proportions as has happened in the recent past, they become unacceptable to the vast majority, who now rule the planet without the constant interference of the bureaucracy.

People who have been determined by the police and other social organizations as 'Confused' because they are homeless, psychopathic or criminals are committed into these camps where they are housed and fed, receive the appropriate medical treatment.

Their children attend schools within the camps. The adults are also tested for any kind of skills or aptitudes they may possess and these skills are enhanced by educators especially trained in how to find the best in people and augment their knowledge and even their physical abilities so that they may be able to re-enter society to become productive citizens again one day.

The camp commanders have learned that a small minority of their tenants will never make it out of the camps because they prefer to be cared for, rather than take any responsibility for their future and will fight tooth and nail against any kind of ‘improvement’, training or discipline in their behavior or any interference with their ‘freedom’.

And even this is tolerated in the UCC, but at a great cost. Under the ethical and moral standards throughout history, the solution to this problem may seem rather harsh and inhumane. But, for us who are alive today, it is a simple choice to make and so, after much soul-searching and philosophical debate, we made it.

Those who continually refuse to be re-trained, reintroduced into society, and prefer to live off the hard work of others are sterilized. Their DNA will not continue to replicate in the human genome. This is determined to be a fair and just solution so that the human race may continually improve genetically through a more rational and natural form of evolution, rather than stagnate.

The procedure is not painful or invasive in any way. The UCC medical staff, once the courts have approved it, merely place a slightly modified version of the anti-matter ray under the bed of the individual in question.

The Anti-matter, in this device is extremely diffuse and is modulated and focused on the genitalia of the subject individual if it is male or the uterus of the subject individual if they are female. The Anti-matter is injected into the system where it will remain and it will annihilate any sperm cells as soon as they are created in the male or the egg cells in a female as they are created, thus rendering the individual incapable of reproducing those genes in any other individual for the life of the subject individual. The subjects will never be aware of this condition and can carry on what they think is a normal sex life as much as they want. There are no moral objections from the churches because there is nothing that is killed. The possibility for life to come about through these individuals is simply removed.

In this way, as more and more individuals are placed in the camps, the least undesirable element of the human species is gradually eliminated. It's a slow and gradual process, but it has been calculated that within the current century, the population of the Earth will no longer be the home to the most destructive and malevolent creatures ever known to walk the Earth. These most violent, uncaring and unproductive of our race are gradually eliminated. No future generations of these traits will emerge to lessen the chances of survival for the rest of us.

In this way, we may even evolve into a wholesome and completely responsible new kind of creature who universally respects our mother Earth and all of the life forms that inhabit it equally to the respect that we give to ourselves or more. There are no more dark clouds coming from over the horizon that threaten all life on the planet because the most dominant life form is no longer hell-bent to destroy everything in its path and in fact is slowly coming around to do the opposite.

And here's the kicker, the part I have played in this new direction in Evolution may never become known. I may go down in history as just another person who lived and breathed, loved to his maximum capacity to love in this world. Someone who has strived to the best of his ability, and while making ordinary mistakes, some of them unforgivable, is just like all the rest of us.

I may never achieve any notoriety or any special place in history and I'm fine with that. As long as I've done everything in my power to make some positive change in life and in the fate of my planet, that's all that matters in the overall scheme of things and I'm still learning. I am not done yet.

And herein lies the most interesting part of my story, I think. In this universe I'm involved in a highly respected profession, married to the love of my life and having the best life that anyone can dream of having. In another parallel universe, I'm an inventor, a technologist, married to someone I truly have nothing in common with, and in a world that is chaotic, disordered, corrupt and undisciplined.

How I am able to discern the two paths in my life will become clear to you as you make your way through my story. Most people never gain this unique perspective about things and so I have attained quite a lofty vantage point to be sure. I hope I am wielding this unique power wisely. I leave the final determination of this life up to you.

But in my more creative universe, at least I have invented a device that can transfer the awareness of any human being from one universe to the other whereupon one can live the kind of life that they deserve. The only problem is that by this time, I have yet to connect the two universes so that one version of me can be aware that there is another version of me somewhere else, on another time line. To gain the maximum throughput of this invention, I would like to know my matching life story, as it extends into the parallel universe and thus produce much different results in this one. This has so far eluded me.

Until now. When I find the flashlight hanging on my belt and instinctively use it to remove the bikers who are about to kill us all at my party, the wheels start meshing like gears in a huge universal transmission.

On the morning after the party, I get a phone call 'requesting' that I come down to the police station to make a full report and of course answer some of their questions. The main question being, 'Where did all the bikers go?' I managed to evade that question last night, but now, they want an answer.

The policeman on the phone, Sergeant Pepper who we met last night, also mentions that witnesses reported me pointing what looked like a flashlight or a gun at the bikers. They want me to bring it to the meeting.

A big red warning light goes off inside my head. I ask Dana what she did with it, and she responds by bringing it to me and plops it on the bed by my feet.

Of course, Dana is just as curious as the police. She wants to know where I got it and what it did to the bikers too.

I have to tell her that I don't have the slightest clue. I have a gut feeling that someone may have planted it on my person at just the right moment. But that doesn't explain how I would know how to use it at the exact same second that I would desperately need it.

They expect me in an hour at the police station. I'm panicking a little, so I call a colleague of mine, Manny Rivera, a criminal lawyer who represents many of today's top celebrities and Hollywood stars. Even though I'm sure this could and should be classified as self-defense, others may see it as mass murder.

"Manny, I need your advice. I don't know if you were at the party last night, but the police want to see me. We were invaded by a biker gang of some kind and they were coming right at me, fully loaded for bear. I had to defend myself," I begin as soon as I hear Manny's voice on the line.

"Don't fret, my friend. I wasn't at your party, but I'm starting to get tweets about it. I'll meet you at the station. Which one is it?" Manny tells me.

"Oh, thanks, Manny. I feel much better. It's the Malibu Sheriff’s station on Lost Hills Road," I respond.

"OK What time?" He asks.

"Ten, this morning," I answer.

"Great, I'll meet you in the parking lot. Do not go inside until we've had a chance to talk," he says.

"You got it," I reply, feeling slightly more confident.

"They want me to bring the flashlight," I remind him.

"Oh yes, the flashlight. Heard about it. What the Hell is that?" Manny asks.

I can almost hear him scratching his head.

"I don't know, Manny. It's just something I noticed that I've been wearing the last few days. I have no idea where it came from. I knew it might become useful someday, so I kept it on my belt. Then, when these jokers showed up, it was all I could think of doing at the time. I was hoping maybe it would blind them and we could run away in the flashbomb," I’m making it up, going on instincts.

There's a long pause during which I begin to resonate with Manny's thought waves.

"OK, that's good. We're going to stick to that story, but do me a favor," Manny says.

"Yeah, sure, anything. What?" I respond.

"Don't bring the flashlight you used last night. They may confiscate it. Do you have any other black flashlight around the house that you can give them?" He asks.

I had to think for a few seconds. Yes, I did have another black flashlight in the garage.

"Manny, you're a genius!" I shout, coming out of my panic rapidly.

# # #

Secretary of Defense Tiger McCarthy is hitting golf balls at the Pentagon practice driving range. Next to his tee is President Blake Pulliam. They're both excellent golfers so their balls are sailing hundreds of yards into the sky and then landing one by one on a target that White House staff have placed at a respectable but not unreachable distance for their bosses.

The President pulls his arms back and raises his driver far above his head and then swings as though he’s going to kill the little white ball laying helplessly on the ground in front of him.

There's a 'whack' and a 'whoosh' as he hits the ball very hard in mid swing and it sails high up into the blue sky.

"So, what is Magnitsky telling you, Tiger?" The President asks while Secretary McCarthy is placing another small white ball on the tee.

"Well, the last I heard from him, he said that there are too many eyes on the eruption. So, he's waiting for the interest to wane a bit and then he'll go there, probably at night and attempt to bring them back," the President replies, then rips another ball off into the wild blue yonder.

The ball sails for several seconds, vanishing to a small dot against the sky so they can barely see it. They quickly pick it up again falling to Earth just to the right of the target.

"What's he doing over there? He's had one excuse after another. Why doesn't he just get it done?" The President sounds a tiny bit frustrated.

Another ball gets blasted off the tee and high into the sky.

"I don't know, Blake," Tiger McCarthy replies.

"Tell you what. Tell Dr. Magnitsky that he's to bring them back tonight. I'll have someone call Hawaii PD, or CIA assets out there and they'll get rid of all the tourists and the security guards, whatever, and then he'll have no more excuses!" The President orders.

"That's a fine idea. I'll tell him. When and if I can find him," General McCarthy says, slamming another ball off the tee.

"What do you mean 'if' you can find him?" The President asks.

"He's turned off his auto-responder. We have not been able to locate him for three days. We keep getting his messages, but he is not responding to our questions," McCarthy replies.

"I see. That's a bit problematic, isn’t it?" the President says, sarcastically in mid-swing.

"Yes, I was just getting ready to call you and ask you for some agency help," McCarthy admits.

His next ball is hit high into the air, but this time it vanishes for real. It never hits the ground. They don't have a clue as to where it went.

"Where's your ball?" The President queries.

"I have no idea. It never hit the ground?" The Secretary theorizes, half in jest.

"I never saw it hit the ground," the President claims in earnest.

"Let me hit another one," McCarthy pleads.

The Secretary slams another white ball high into the air. It floats high above the trees for several seconds headed far away down the fairway.

Instead of falling back to the ground and rolling around toward the target, it simply disappears, never landing anywhere.

"Not Again! What the bleeding Hell? Let me try it," President Pulliam exhorts.

The President places another ball on the tee, raises his driver high over his head, swings his arms like a giant gorilla. The driver strikes the ball with a solid bang and sends it soaring.

The two men watch carefully this time. The ball sails high into the blue and then simply vanishes from their sight. They peer for a long time at the ground where the ball should have landed, but see nothing except the short manicured grass gleaming in the sun.

"Where did it go?" The President mumbles and then twists his head slightly to one side, where he notices Tiger's mirrored expression.

President Pulliam and Secretary McCarthy look at each other and come to the same conclusion at the same time.

"Magnitsky!" The two men realize in unison.

Rick Magnitsky comes out of the parking lot and up to the driving range tee just a few feet away. He's got hold of a pen that the two men quickly recognize as his anti-anti-matter pen he took to Hawaii to bring me, Elizabeth and Trixie back to this universe.

It appears that he has other plans.

As Magnitsky approaches, President Pulliam realizing the sheer logic and purity of the man's next move, wants to express one objection that might defer the inevitable.

"Sorry, Mr. President. It's just too tempting. I'm sure you would do the same thing in my shoes. Sorry General!" Magnitsky exclaims.

"What the Hell, Magnitsky? What are you . . .

Before Tiger McCarthy can complete his thought, Magnitsky points his pen at the President and then at his boss, Secretary McCarthy and presses the clicker at the tip of the pen.

The President and Secretary McCarthy completely vanish in less than a second.

Magnitsky looks over his shoulder at all angles of the range. He sees no one close enough to have a clear view of what has just happened, except for a pair of Secret Service agents assigned to protect the President and the Secretary just down the hill.

They are leaning against their car, on a cigarette break. Finally noticing there is only one person where there had been three, the two agents explode off the side of the car and run up towards the tee.

Before they can make ten feet, Magnitsky points the pen at them and they also vanish in a fraction of a second.

"Long live President Magnitsky!" Magnitsky laughs out loud.

# # #

At UCC - 007 just outside King City, California, Tiger McCarthy and Blake Pulliam wheel their shopping carts stuffed with all their Earthly possessions in black plastic trash bags into their assigned twelve foot by twelve foot camp site. Fitted out with a water spigot and electrical outlets for charging their phones, computers or a TV if they have one, it’s the preferred locale of last resort for those who are housing challenged these days.

Since their recent arrival, they have just cleared their first full day of 'Orientation' and are scheduled to take an aptitude test the following morning to determine how they might best serve to re-enter what folks used to call, "polite society".

"I'm sorry, man," Tiger mentions to Pulliam as they are arranging their sleeping mats, bedding and clumsily deploying their tent.

"It's OK, I didn't do us any good, either." I simply cannot remember anything past yesterday when we arrived here," Pulliam replies.

"Me too. What would you say are the odds that neither of us can remember past yesterday? Seem strange to you?" Tiger asks what he knows is his old friend and now traveling companion.

"I'd say that's pretty damned long odds, if not impossible. So, you tell me how the Hell we got here, anyway," Pulliam replies.

"One day, the world’s your oyster. You're playing around on the golf course and the next day, you're homeless," Tiger mumbles mostly to himself as his brain struggles to deal with their situation.

He looks out over the hills to see the sun rapidly setting behind them. Their daylight is waning rapidly so they both move about with the intent to get everything they need out of their carts and setup before dark.

"What'd you say?" Pulliam asks, vaguely remembering suddenly how much he liked to play golf.

"What did I say, when?" Tiger replies.

"Just now, you said something about playing golf and the next day we're here in some kind of homeless camp, didn't you say that?" Pulliam wonders.

"I did say that, didn't I?" Tiger responds, sliding a tent pole into its retainer.

"Yes, you did. I remember being worried about something. It was something important. We were both worried about it, right? Don't you feel that?" Pulliam asserts.

He rifles through his bags for some clean and dry socks that he can change into.

"Yes, I was supposed to send someone to do something," Tiger recalls.

"Maybe they did what you told them and that's how we got here?" Pulliam chortles.

They both laugh nervously. The laughter disturbs one of the nearby encampments where someone has already retired for the evening. A female voice yells at them to 'shut up' from inside the nearby tent.

Tiger finds a bottle of red wine in one of his bags and retrieves it with greater appreciation than he expects.

"You want a drink?" He whispers to his friend.

"You bet I do!" Pulliam exclaims softly, in hopes of retrieving a plastic cup that he knows must be somewhere deeper in his bag.

As he fishes around for a cup, the two men notice another couple, two middle-aged females, coming down the main path towards the empty allotment next to their own. Carrying huge duffel bags on skate boards, they notice their assigned space next to Pulliam and McCarthy's lot and begin to settle in, parking their skateboards nearby.

McCarthy is the first to acknowledge their presence.

Hello, ladies,” he says, quietly.

The two women ignore them and continue going about their business quietly.

As they set up their camp they are also forced to take some verbal abuse from some of the previously retiring inhabitants. They notice that McCarthy and Pulliam are diligently sipping their wine out of their red plastic cups.

"If you share some of your wine," the female begins, "I have some cup cakes we just found."

"OK, that sounds like a deal," Tiger replies getting up to hand the newcomers their wine bottle.

The newcomers repay the favor immediately by unwrapping a couple of half-squashed cakes that they managed to scrounge out of a trash can at a nearby restaurant.

They exchange the cup-cakes for two glasses of wine and both parties appear satisfied.

"You look familiar to me, somehow," Tiger states, munching on his cake.

"My name is Harriet," the female replies smartly. "Lieutenant General Harriet Johnston, US Air Force."

"I'm Tiger McCarthy," Tiger replies shaking her hand.

"And, I'm Blake Pulliam," the President says.

"And I'm Lt. Colonel Janice Brazen, US Marines. But you can call me Skippy!" The other of the pair states aloud.

"For God's sake, shut up!" The voice in the next tent yells.

The women with the cup cakes suddenly rise to a strict and steady stance and salute their new-found friends as though they have just discovered their superiors.

"Why are you doing that?" Tiger asks them, amazed, as is President Pulliam.

"Honestly, sir, I have no idea," Johnston says quietly.

"It's strange, but the two of us cannot remember anything past yesterday when we arrived here," Tiger tells them.

"You know, I was just telling my friend, Harriet, that I can't remember anything past yesterday either," Brazen says shaking her head.

Pulliam glances over at his friend in disbelief.

"That's totally bananas. Like we've all got amnesia at the same time?" Pulliam speculates.

We were just commenting on the odds,” McCarthy adds.

"They appear to need workers pretty desperately around here. We just got through an all-day orientation and the bullshit is endless. Tomorrow we go for an aptitude test so that they can train us for whatever careers we're best suited for. You'll find out tomorrow," Tiger reports.

"They say they want to help us," Pulliam agrees.

"Do I look like I need their help?" He asks, chuckling and wincing at the same time.

"Won't you please shut-up!" Their annoyed neighbor yells at them yet again.

"Sorry, ma'am," Harriet whispers back at her. "We just got here."

"Well, if you want to stay here, you'd best learn to shut up soon," the voice warns.

"Yes, ma'am," Skippy replies bravely.

"So, what did you do prior to landing here?" Tiger asks Harriet, politely.

"I have no idea, but I'm sure it was something great. I remember being a kid and signing up for something that I believed in with all of my heart and soul. I must have done something good because I’ve got rank now. But, now I'm here. I don't know where I went wrong. And you? What did you do before?" She asks in reply.

"I feel as though I was in command of some vast army. I think I was a General in the Roman Empire and fought off the Vandals. Something like that. Sometimes I also get the feeling that I was in the Crusades," General McCarthy says, almost ready to believe it.

"And you, sir?" Harriet says, turning to face Pulliam.

"I’m the President of the United States or something like that," Pulliam responds with a big dumb smile on his face.

Loud guffaws emanate from all over the camp.

For God’s sake!” The annoyed neighbor yells.

"That reminds me. Anyone got anything besides these awful ham and cheese sandwiches?" Tiger asks of the group.

Each of them holds their sandwich high in the air.

Air escapes their lungs in short bursts even as they struggle to muffle their amusement.

"Shut Up! Morons!" The annoyed voice shouts again.

# # #

The music you hear in the background is from the Alan Parson's Project, 'I Robot', one of my favorite classic Rock albums. Whenever I play it Dana rips off her clothes and then dances for me extremely scantilly clad. She’s the best dancer sporting the best body I’ve ever known or ever will know. She’s incredible. She drives me up the wall. I play it quite often.

It's kind of a Bolero beat pulsating with a nice slow crescendo, drums that are haunting and tantalizing, like far-away sonic booms demanding every drop of your attention from body, mind and spirit. Today, she again has one hundred thousand percent of my attention.

It's the night after my police interview at the station. Thanks to Manny my lawyer, I brought an ordinary black flashlight with me and they did indeed confiscate it, but it will befuddle them for months trying to connect a harmless beam of a normal flash light to the events of my party last night.

But, tonight, Dana and I are eagerly attempting to forget all about that harrowing experience of the last twenty-four hours and by doing what we do best together. We’ll relieve the stress by having one of our best and closest encounters ever, at least this will be my intent. I'm always ready to couple with Dana because A. she’s so lovely, graceful, caring, giving, beautiful and B. I love her beyond the pale. She always appears ready and excited to couple with me, for the same reason, or so I believe and I believe it deeply. There’s no going back.

Sex is not everything in life of course, but when you finally find the most compatible sexual partner in your life, you can feel everything in the universe snapping together like a huge jig-saw puzzle. You know exactly why you were put on this planet with this equipment and what is supposed to happen next. And there is no fear that can work against you any more.

Whenever I glue our two bodies together I try to use ‘Super-Duper’ glue because I have never known anything like her before and I know I could never find anything like her again and I want us to stick to each other from now on, no matter what. It's as though the entire universe revolves around this union of two people, the Ying and the Yang, the North and the South poles, the 'innie' and the 'outie'.

Everything in life comes into focus for me every time I achieve a physical union with Dana and it makes me realize why I was born, how much I had strayed off course, in the past, and how simple it would be now to get back on the right course toward the highest and best use of my skills, my talents, my unique insights.

I only feel love this way with my second wife, Dana. With my first wife, sex was a kind of artificial substitute for love. It was love-making, not love itself. It was something we both knew we had better do and do it often or the marriage would dissolve since we both knew we had nothing more than that in common really.

But, the odd thing about this comparison of the two women is that my first wife belongs to an earlier lifetime, and my second wife belongs to another life, perhaps later, perhaps earlier. I don’t know. The differentiation is that powerful, yet confusing at times.

I knew that my life had truly begun the day I met Dana because it was so different than any other day in my life. It was one amazing and magical moment out of the millions of moments that had already passed through me in this apparent time line.

I’m at a party mainly of strangers. Someone introduces me to her. She's perched up on a wooden stool in the middle of the room, all alone. Strawberry flavored light beams are playing in her hair, rendering a brilliant and simple beauty with a regal serenity. Her smile is beguiling and pure. She's wearing an amazingly tight little black dress. Her perfect legs are crossed and her toes are perfectly pointing ballet style, toward me.

"And this is my half-sister, Dana," the voice says and that’s it.

I look. My heart fills with happy expectations. I’m hers. She owns me.

I wonder how she could be half of anything. She is so perfect and I’m so lucky to be anywhere near her. Unless she’s to be my better half, which she will prove to be in time.

This is the moment that every nerve ending in my poor body has been designed to record. I’m alive as never before. I’m struck by an unseen lightning bolt, frozen in time. When she looks at me, I melt. My heart fails to beat, my eyes, ears, fingers, toes, and nose are all tuned to the essence of her wafting all around me and penetrating right through me.

Something about me catches her imagination too, I’m assuming. What a thrill. We talk alone together, uninterrupted all night until the party is over. No one else wanders across my live stream. No other being can be recognized. I'm swept away by everything she says and does. I'm hypnotized. I cannot move. I cannot speak and yet I move and speak just enough to keep her in my sights.

I don't hear her words, only the music that emanates from her heart and soul. The moment we have both been longing for during every moment of our lives has finally arrived and intersected at just this place and time. We hold it in our hands, massaging it, breathing life into it. Suddenly and without warning, she knows my whole life history and I know hers and the two life lines are approaching fast, meshing, molding into one undeniable and irrevocable termination point.

In case you don’t get it yet, I'm alive like never before. I'm born again. Life begins at this point because there in front of me is the woman of my dreams, talking to me as if I’m the man of hers.

Promise me,” I say finally when we’re getting ready to go home.

Promise you what?” she asks, puzzled.

Promise me that whatever happens from now on, you’ll be honest with me,” I continue.

She looks at me funny, wrinkles her nose.

I’m not in your league, not even close, which is to say I’ve never gotten this close to the perfect woman before and it looks as though we’re going to start a wonderful friendship here tonight. So, all I ask is that you give me a heads up when you’re finished with me. Is that too much to ask?” I go on, seeing her to the door.

Wow,” she says, laughing.

I know. I’m getting ahead of myself, aren’t I?” I ask.

You certainly are. Look, I like you, but . . . ” she says. I don’t let her finish.

Look, don’t ask me how, but I already know that we’re going to live together. It’s going to be a very passionate love affair, at least that’s what you will have me believe. I also know that you’re going to wake up one morning and realize that you can do better, much better than me, which is so obvious to me, I hate to tell you. It will take you longer to figure that out. But you will eventually, and so, at some point, you’ll dump me and it’s going to be extremely painful for me. People jump off the Golden Gate Bridge for less. But, I don’t care. I really don’t,” I check her beautiful, amazing, wonderful brown eyes to see if she’s still listening.

She is.

Dana, I’m telling you all this right now that I don’t care how long you give me. I’ll take any amount of the time in your life whether it’s for the next five minutes, five days, five months or five years, or even if somehow, on a million to one chance, it lasts a lifetime, I will be the luckiest man on the planet for just having known you, even if only for a few seconds. Being able to touch you, or if, for some strange reason, you let me kiss you, I’m sure I’ll die right then and there of pure and total ecstasy,” I say, with no idea where it came from, but I’m extremely happy I was able to let it out and she was there to hear it all.

Of course, this is not exactly what I said at the time, I’m sure, but it’s what I would say to her if I had the chance to go back and do it all over again.

Standing there next to our cars, having exchanged phone numbers, I’m waiting for a response.

It’s a long time coming. She starts to vocalize something, can’t and then tries again. It’s obvious she was not prepared for this direct an approach. But I’m optimistic enough to believe she’ll give me another shot, just one more shot.

Uhm, so let me call you,” she says finally, then plants a warm and gentle kiss on my cheek.

As she gets into her car, I marvel at her perfect cat like movements that even cats would envy.

Before starting the engine, she looks out the window and allows me another moment to concentrate and focus on every muscle and freckle, every hair follicle of this delicious woman so that I can never forget it.

I wait three days before I know I will go insane.

She calls me at my office on the morning of the third day after the party and invites me to dinner.

She’s very nervous, I can tell because her voice is not the same. It’s shaking and unsure. I believe she’s nervous because she’s never called a guy before for a date. She’s never had to. But she had to call me.

In one universe, it will last no more than six months and I will be destroyed, as I predicted I would be.

In another universe, crazily enough, I’ve found her again and we live happily together until death tears us apart.

Which one is the universe you’re inhabiting at the present time? You’ll just have to wait and see.

# # #

The White House is under heavy military guard. Troops are lined up on both sides of all surrounding streets for miles. The compound itself looks like a military fortress with armored SWAT vehicles all over the avenues, the grounds and driveways. Uniformed and heavily armed soldiers patrol the perimeter of the White House grounds. The roof of the White House, Congress and nearby office buildings are swarming with armed snipers ready to take out anyone that appears out of place on the streets below.

When President Pulliam and Secretary McCarthy disappeared at the driving range, the news outlets treated it like some kind of hoax or a prank of some kind. After numerous attempts by the media to get any word from the President failed, White House Communications Director, Poppy Campesino stands on the White House lawn and appeals to anyone who may have knowledge of the whereabouts of the President to get in touch with them on a special hotline. She informs the public that any informants will not be punished in any way and the government is in fact, offering a ten billion dollar reward for information resulting in the safe return of President Pulliam and Secretary McCarthy.

The news media, now whittled down to five individuals who represent the five remaining news channels, stand in front of their cameras a few feet away, and are repeating the information just given to the country while each puts their individual interpretations on the information.

"We are being told that the President and Secretary of Defense, Tony, 'The Tiger' McCarthy were on the practice driving range when they simply disappeared. They have not returned to their duties. Their Secret Service detail has also disappeared. There is no indication of where they may have gone," UNN host, Brad Jamieson reports to the nation.

"Running the White House on a temporary basis is Dr. Rikardo or Rick Magnitsky, who has been a Pentagon aid to Secretary McCarthy," Jamieson continues.

"We're also being told that the Vice President and the Speaker of the House are currently in negotiations with Dr. Magnitsky to eventually take over control of the White House as directed by the line of succession provided by the Constitution," the well-known newsman reports.

He appears to be reading as calmly as possible from his notes.

At this same moment, in the Oval Office Vice President Shaq Martinez and Speaker of the House Baines Bushmaster stand next to each other in front of the President's desk arguing vehemently with Rikardo Magnitsky, staring defiantly back at them from behind his desk. They are demanding that he step aside and allow them to take control of the Government.

"Look man, there is no proof that the President is missing. He just might be out on another hike in the woods with his girlfriend, what's-her-name. Who knows?" Magnitsky asserts.

"He disappeared while under Secret Service protection. How do you place him on a hike in the woods?" Vice President Martinez demands.

"I'm telling you one more time, until law enforcement can clear up this situation and assure us all that the President has truly disappeared, I must remain as the temporary caretaker of this White House. That's my story and I'm sticking to it," Magnitsky makes his case forcefully.

"And what gives you that right? Look, man, there is no provision in the Constitution for a 'caretaker president'. Now, once again, I demand that you step aside and hand over the White House to me!" Vice Pres. Martinez demands more forcefully this time.

There’s no place in the Constitution, perhaps, but there is plenty of precedent. Several Presidents before me were later determined to be caretaker Presidents by the historians,” Magnitsky asserts.

Yeah, right. Name one,” Martinez asks.

You mean, name one who wasn’t? Not a single President got to this office legitimately. You know that, Shaq,” Magnitsky replies.

When you spend billions of dollars to force yourself into an office that pays only a few hundred thousand, what is that?” Magnitsky continues.
Martinez looks over at the Speaker for help in what to say next.

Look, we can have you arrested right here on the spot, man! Don’t make me do that,” Martinez exclaims.

Magnitsky surveys the austere and determined faces of the two gentlemen standing before him and realizes that his time is up. There will be no compromise with these two.

"All right. I'll step aside. But, I want you to know that I'm doing so under protest," Magnitsky says quietly walking over to the front of the desk as Vice President Martinez, sensing victory, tries to move around to the back of the desk.

Both men begin to calm down slowly. Magnitsky lets the Vice President take his place.

"Protest noted," Martinez announces happily sitting in the Presidential chair.

Speaker Bushmaster follows the Vice, now President Martinez around the side of the desk, and takes up a position immediately behind the newly seated President, thus making him the new Vice President.

"Feels good. Now, get out!" President Martinez, beginning to appreciate his new power, shouts at Magnitsky.

"All right, I'm going, but if you wouldn't mind signing something that will make it official and relieve me of all liability?" Magnitsky counters, removing a dull gray pen from his shirt pocket.

"We're signing nothing!" Martinez snorts.

"Very well. I thought as much," Magnitsky says, calmly raises the pen to point directly at the two men behind what is known as the 'Resolute Desk'.

He clicks the top of the pen once aimed directly at Martinez and then rapidly repeats the process a second time aimed at Bushmaster. The two men disappear, vanish, are no more. The empty chair behind the desk rocks back and forth resolutely.

"Well, I guess it is true that the pen is mightier than the sword," Magnitsky mutters into the empty room.

# # #

Dana and I, having fooled around all morning are ravished with hunger. I sort through a few left-overs in the refrigerator, calling them up to her in the bedroom. The doorbell rings. My lovely 'ex' Elizabeth, her new friend with fire-engine red hair, Trixie and the man from Arabia I saw at the party are standing on my front porch.

"Hello, Darling," Elizabeth begins, enthusiastically.

"Elizabeth? Hi, honey. What's going on?" I reply, trying to make myself appear as mystified as I am.

"OK, gosh, can we come in?" Elizabeth asks, brushing past me. The other two blow right past me and further on into the living room.

"OK, sure come in, by all means," I reply following them inside.

I don’t know why but I invite them to take a seat.

The three of them plop down onto the sofa and I take the other facing sofa in the middle of the room. Dana calls out from upstairs wondering who was at the door. I tell her and that seems to satisfy her. I get the feeling she'll be joining us in seconds.

"Oh, these are two friends of mine. Trixie here is from Texas. She says that you and her have met before," Elizabeth informs me pointing to the red-head.

"We’ve met before?" I mumble.

"That's what she says. And, this nice man is Sindar Bin Sindar, did I say that correctly?" She asks the dark man with the red checkered head gear.

I'm amazed at how neat and clean it appears with a solid black ring like a halo that holds it securely to his head.

"Oh yes, Elizabeth. Just right, thank you," he says almost too politely and then stands up, bows and extends his hand out for me to shake it.

I take his hand, bow a little myself and plop myself back down on the couch.

"OK, so, what's up?" I ask again.

"Hello everyone," Dana floats into the room like a swan, all dressed up in one of her nicest pants outfits and smelling like a Spring garden of flowers.

"Hello, Dana," Elizabeth says, smiling as hard as she can.

"Hello, Elizabeth," Dana replies, out-shining the smile of the day.

A few silent moments go by while we’re feeling each other out. I feel Trixie is trying to formulate something relevant in her mind. Sindar Bin Sindar, expressionless but taking my measure very carefully, is calmly and patiently awaiting his turn to speak.

Elizabeth takes the initiative again. It's uncharacteristic for her, but how I know that, is not anything I can wrap my mind around.

"Well, you know Jack, I didn't really remember anything about you until the night of the party. I thought you were just another guy I knew somehow, but when you waved at me, I knew that you remembered,” she says.

Remembered what?” I ask foolishly.

Do you remember that we were married once?” she replies, batting her long, but probably false, eyelashes.

I look over at Dana who struggles with a really bad cough all of a sudden. She leans forward and gives me the look with the raised eyebrows I always enjoy so much, just not now.

"Uh, OK, so assuming that’s all true, why are you here, my dear?" I persist.

"Well, at the party, I was talking to this gentleman over here," she says, prodding the neat Arabian fellow next to her.

"He was saying these very strange things to me and I was about to get up and walk away, but that's when the biker gang arrived and, guess what? He predicted what you would do, even pointing out your flashlight hanging on your belt before you even seemed to notice it. Then, he said that we shouldn't worry and that you would know what to do," Elizabeth explains.

I notice the Arabian gentleman's eyes glistening, the rest of him still seated squared up, yet ready.

"Go on," I say.

"So, then, you did exactly what he said you would do. You noticed the flashlight just as they started shooting at us. You picked it up, turned it on them and they all disappeared. Just like that! There were no gun shots, no explosions, no noise at all. Everything was in slow-motion. It was amazing. We were all stunned. Then, it was over. Everyone was rushing to get home. You were gone somewhere. But, I knew at the moment that you fired that thing that you were my husband in another lifetime and Trixie here, well I'll let her tell her story now, if she wants to," Elizabeth explains, all in one long breath.

I notice that Trixie is incredibly buff. Her arms are muscular but not too much. She's obviously been working out - a lot.

"OK, yeah, I'm going to echo everything that Elizabeth just said. This man over here predicted everything that was about to happen. I knew he was probably right, so I didn't feel the need to run away. Instead, I was very curious. But then, when you fired that thing, I knew instantly that I had known you too in another reality," Trixie's voice is warm and sultry.

I want to believe her. I notice her clothing is extremely well tailored and her shoes are spit polished. I've seen her somewhere before as well. I just can't place it yet.

"Don't tell me I was your husband also?" I ask, half in jest, the other half of me very worried.

Dana tells me with her eyes that I don't really want to wait for an answer.

"No, I was your bodyguard and I was a man," Trixie says, with a much lower, very deep voice.

"Oh boy," was all I had.

"I was there to protect you from this guy," she continues, and points her thumb at the Arabian.

And others like him, I suppose,” she continues.

There's a long pause as we all try to catch our breath.

"Yes, this is all true," the Arabian man confirms.

"My name is Sindar Bin Sindar. I am from Saudi Arabia, as you can see. In another reality that these friends are referring to, I am your worst enemy. You try to kill me every chance you get and I try to neutralize your efforts every chance I get," Sindar continues, slowly and carefully choosing his words.

OK,” again, all I got.

It seems that our lives are inter-twined because every time I attempt to counter your efforts, I find myself involved in your story. It’s not as I had predicted,” he continues.

I find his story intriguing, but before I can respond, the phone chimes in the wall to alert me that I have a call. I'm glad because I can feel my poor brain straining to digest all of this.

Our house is a huge audio and video studio always on duty so to speak, so all I have to do is speak a few decibels above the median levels for the system to register my voice as demanding her attention.

"Who is that Suriel?" I yell at the wall where I've always assumed her 'voice-chip’ resides.

I start wondering about what kind of reality these people are from, why I would need bodyguards and why I would have any enemies at all. I'm a simple business guy here in this one. I’m always trying to make friends, so the last things I would want to do is make enemies.

"It's a man by the name of Blake Pulliam. I'm eighty eight point five nine five percent certain that he's the President of the United States," Suriel says, inexplicably.

My guests, except for Sindar and especially my wife and myself are quite stunned by what my AI attendant has just said.

"What do you mean, Suriel? I’ve never heard of this guy," I demand, loudly, expecting to hear a major correction.

"Yes, I've analyzed his voice and everything else about your history as well as the contacts on your phones as well as those of your guests here today, and I believe the caller is or was or soon will be the President of the United States," Suriel continues.

"Very smart phone you have there," Sindar says, smiling from ear to ear as if he has inside information.

"Put him through, Suriel," I reply, reluctantly.

The next voice we hear is somewhat familiar.

"Hello, Mr. Coppersmith, I presume?" The male voice asks.

"Yes, that's me. What can I do for you?" I reply, watching the others shift their weight and fidget a little.

"I'm calling you because your number is locked into my phone in my contact list,” the caller begins slowly.

OK,” I reply.

Now, at this point I must tell you, because I think you can accept it by now, that there will always be tiny little glitches here and there where two or multiple universes meet. It’s like little clues of breadcrumbs along the trail of life that gives you pause every once in a while and lets you know that there is at least one element of magic or mystery in your life line. Hopefully, you’ve experienced more than one of them from time to time.

This is one of these little glitches for me.

I have no idea who I am and I'm here with a friend in a homeless camp. He and I both have no idea who we are other than our names, because it’s in our phones. We both appear to be suffering from some form of amnesia and so I was hoping that perhaps a phone contact of mine like you of people I once called or who called me would be able to shed some light on our situation," the voice goes on.

In the background, I hear another familiar voice telling the caller to mention the other two in their group.

"Oh yes, there are four others who arrived shortly after we did and they also don't seem to remember much," the caller says.

"Arrive where? Where are you?" I ask, even though Suriel has their location marked by a red dot on a map of the state that she has projected onto the wall viewing screen.

"We're in some kind of orientation camp. They say that we're going to be re-trained and re-habbed back into society at some point," the voice replies.

"I see," I say out loud.

"They're in a camp for the confused,” I whisper to the others in the room.

"Yes, I heard that. That's where we're at alright - an 'Unacceptable Confusion Camp'. I wish I could give you more but that's all we really know. Can you tell me why your name and phone number would be stored in my phone?" The voice asks.

"I think you'll learn that your traveling companion is your Secretary of Defense, Five Star General Tiger McCarthy. Go ahead ask him," Sindar says, interrupting.

I'm able to hear the caller whispering something to his companion.

"He knows his last name is McCarthy, but the 'Tiger' and the 'General' stuff, he knows nothing about," Pulliam states quickly.

"Just a minute. Let us confer for a moment, please" I reply and motion to Suriel to mute the call.

Then, turning to Sindar, I begin rather harshly.

"OK, smarty pants, why is my name and phone number in this guy's phone. I've never heard of him. He's in a camp for the confused. Yet, you who seem to be the least confused of all, know more about them than they do!"

"If you please, Mr. Coppersmith. If you will tell our friends at the camp your address and instruct them to come here at once, I think we can all have a very interesting and highly productive meeting," Sindar asserts.

"Yeah sure, as soon as you tell me more about your involvement in all of this. Why are you the one to answer all of these questions?" I ask, nervously.

Deep down, I'm not sure I want to know.

"Oh well, yes, that's because I have one of these," Sindar informs me as he removes his red checkered bhutra from his head.

He fingers around the rim of the head piece and gently removes a shiny copper wire coil from under a flap in the headband. There are five or six thin wires braided around each other to form a circular head band that is securely tucked away and hidden inside the rim of the bhutra.

"What the Hell is that?" I demand.

"It's your Flux Antenna. You invented it yourself at least a dozen years before you invented the anti-matter gun. It's such a deceptively simple yet elegant design. Then, you forgot about it. You had no idea when you made it, but it serves to preserve one's memory when one moves around between the several universes to which we all belong," Sindar informs us carefully, graciously.

"It’s true, it works. I can tell you that. He let me wear it this morning. This is how I remembered everything about you, Darling," Elizabeth says, suggestively.

"And, does he let you wear it also?" I demand sarcastically of Trixie.

"Yes, and it works. That's how I know that I was your bodyguard. I think I can remember just about everything that happened back there," Trixie replies, also suggestive of something.

But you were a man, weren‘t you?” I ask, just because it seems obvious by now.

That would be correct,” Trixie says, calmly.

I have to take a minute to walk the circumference of the room.

"So, if I have this President guy and his Secretary of Defense, as you call them, come over here, you'll let us wear that thing, and presto-chango - We'll all be on the same page?" I postulate.

"That's correct. Very good. Yes, the same page, exactly," Sindar, agrees and laughs heartily.

"Suriel, unmute please," I instruct my highly capable smart phone assistant.

"OK, Mr. Pulliam. My assistant is going to send you my address with instructions on how to find us. I'll also pay for you to take the loop over here and then we'll talk. We have someone here who can help you more than I can, I'm guessing," I inform the caller.

"Well, thank you very much. We appreciate that. Can I bring the other four as well?" Pulliam asks.

"Yes, I guess so. Sure, why not? Let's make it one big happy family," I reply.

"Thanks very much. We're on our way," the caller says and summarily disconnects.

"Suriel, you know what to do," I say to my AI assistant.

"Yes sir," she replies.

"When will they arrive?" I ask her.

"They will arrive in approximately fifteen minutes, depending on how fast they can get to the loop station," Suriel replies.

"OK, everyone. I suggest we take a break. I have to go powder my nose. Dana, you?" I say, wandering towards the East hallway.

"Yes, I'm with you," Dana says taking my hand, smiling at our guests.

"The guest bath room is down the hall over there," I instruct the others.

"I'm OK," Sindar replies, smiling.

"So am I," Elizabeth says.

"Me too," Trixie agrees.

When I get Dana alone in the upstairs bedroom, I ask her about her impressions of our guests.

She's amused that I would be attracted to a girl like Elizabeth, almost the complete opposite of herself and I do wonder myself. Sometimes, love is just a random process.

Sindar, she thinks, could be a spy and warns me to be careful.

"A spy from where?" I ask her.

"I don't know, but you should find out sooner rather than later. Don't you think?" she says, stroking my hair.

"Yes ma'am," I mumble in between a few yummy little smooches.

# # #

(The following is taken from a PBS documentary about me that we did a few years back. I include it here because it will help you understand something that is going to happen soon in the story. Lacking knowledge of one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in history, you may not get it.)

Scientist friends of yours and mine have been working on the most delicate scientific detection system for decades and today, they have pooled all of their work product together in a manner so that they may be able to detect gravity-waves for the first time. The machine is called 'LIGO' or Laser Interferometer Gravity-wave Observatory.

Scientists working here will use a laser beam of known wave lengths and compare these to other laser beams so that if and when a gravity wave passes over the Earth, the wave lengths of their laser beam that runs directly in line with the gravity wave’s direction will stretch the fabric of space-time precisely as far as the gravity wave is predicted to stretch it, and thereby stretch the underlying laser beams waves as well. The size and degree of this stretch in the fabric of space is so small that it requires a number of zeroes that is hard to imagine. To put it simply, the size of the stretch in the fabric of space-time is less than a billionth of a billionth of the width of a human hair.

And yet LIGO will detect it and LIGO will detect the first gravity wave that humans are aware of on the morning of September 15, 2015.

When this very delicate instrument is finally completed and switched on, the chief investigators go home to get some rest. It's four o'clock in the morning and they are exhausted. As soon as they get to sleep, there is a call from their offices informing them that something has been detected. It could be what has never been seen before, a gravity wave. The scientists rush back to one of their twin facilities, one in Hanford, Washington and the other situated in Livingston, Louisiana.

Meanwhile, coming from an area in the sky just under the constellation of Ursa Major, a gravity wave is approaching. It has been created 1.3 billion years ago, from the interaction of two massive Black Holes that have become gravitationally locked in to the influence of the other and are spinning faster and faster in a closer and closer encounter with one another.

On this day, they have finally spun into each other and combined into an even more massive Black Hole. It is the last moment of the two giant's intercourse that creates the gravity wave that will be detected here on the Earth by LIGO first in the Livingston, Louisiana facility and then seconds later in the Hanford, Washington’s twin facility.

When the scientists finally prove to themselves months later that the event was real and was not produced by any random or artificial electronic events, they release the picture of humankind's first recording of a gravity wave. It is short and sweet in duration, just big enough to be seen on a graph and incredibly enough, lives just slightly above the frequency and duration of human brain waves. It’s also just long enough to be translated into sound.

When they interpret it as one would a musical wave, it sounds exactly like a 'whistle'. But it is actually the tail end of the gravity wave that the two massive black holes have been pounding the fabric of space like a drum. It is the largest and deepest drum beat in the universe. It is a deep resounding wave that is so rich and vital it will ride over the fabric of space/time for another 1.3 billion years until it finally rushes past us here on our home planet.

It is so short, just the tail-end of the interaction, only a few seconds in length and shrill as when you whistle for your pet dog.

There is also an 'anti-stroke' to the shape of the gravity wave that makes it sound more like someone flirting with a pretty girl whistling at her as she walks by.

Whit-Whew” is exactly how it sounds and how it was intended to sound. It was made 1.3 billion years prior to the day when humble little creatures such as us became smart enough to create a detector that could hear it. And it came from outer space.

"Someone or some thing in the universe is whistling at us?" my interviewer suggests.

"Maybe, it is a warning of something to come?" her assitant wonders out loud.

No, it’s just to let us know that someone out there is listening,” the interviewer continues.

Yes, and maybe whoever it is, is giving us a ‘heads-up’. Like ‘Hey all you beautiful people down there, I can see you naked!’” I tell them.





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