No, it just doesn’t translate…

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“No, it just doesn’t translate accurately. We must find another way.”

Members of the council sat around the table in sober contemplation of the problem, silently nodding in agreement with the leader’s statement. G-12, System 22-4  had been troublesome from the start.  It was almost missed in the initial scans conducted upon this corner of the grid. Some data had populated the central console indicating that the system met the minimal parameters, but as this created only a minor blip in the larger view it was discounted. After further segments of this galaxy yielded nothing more promising it had been decided to make a full review of the data scan. It was only then that a closer look was given to system 22.

Upon closer examination it was discovered that the system was comprised of eight to ten worlds with three of those potentially residing within the “sweet spot” of the habitable zone. Drones dispatched to the surface of these for further evaluation did not report anything promising. The first was found to be barren and with insufficient atmosphere. The second was found to be overheated and toxic. The third did not yield any conclusive results. Efforts to recall the drone failed. This was not unusual. Often a drone would malfunction due to hypergravity, burning up on entry to an atmosphere. Other times magnetic anomalies would erase navigation systems causing the craft to drift aimlessly until impact or breaking away from orbit. In other cases, as was true in this instance, a drone might succumb to volcanic activity. Unless sensors indicated an abundance of the necessary conditions within a system it was rare for a second drone to be dispatched. 22-4 was one of those rarities.

A second drone revealed much greater promise than any probabilities calculated from preliminary analysis.  Though still plagued by considerable geological instability the world was blessed with an abundance of water, an optimal mix of gases in it’s atmosphere and had already developed an impressive bio-diversity. The life forms, though many were only primitive, were nearly innumerable. And there were a few higher forms which were deemed to have potential. Early in the sixth epoch it was agreed to send a set of exploratory teams to prepare for population. It was a process that had been repeated through the ages, the slow and careful cultivation of the known universe, one galaxy at a time.

Each of these were an experiment of sorts. Some thrived while others failed, as is the way of nature. The sowers had long since surpassed any recollection of their own origins or any contemplation thereof. There was no conscious quest of a purpose, they simply were and simply did what they did. Their seeds were planted into plots that were found suitable and worlds were left to flourish or fail on their own with minimal interference. Through patient and careful observation it was determined to either cultivate mythologies or conform to those that would form organically as a means of concealing their comings and goings amid these societies.  22-4 had remained a relatively quiet backwater for centuries, ignored and mostly forgotten, but this had suddenly changed. Now it was necessary to determine if it was still safe to leave unguided, or if as was sometimes needed, some radical alteration of their mythology was required.

“The messianic model will no longer suffice.  They now have too many competing versions, all co-opted to fulfill baser instincts.”

“Are they ready for the truth?”

“The truth! Ha! No…they would only try to pervert it to meet their own ends. We must steer them to a new truth; not the truth.”

This hung heavily in the room, a silence observed to allow the thought to be digested. After a long pause another member of the council offered another contribution to the discussion.

“Perhaps it is better to cull the herd first? A great cataclysm is always an opportune moment for introducing a new paradigm. How many are there on this world now? Six, seven billion?”

The leader did not address the council member directly, rather responding to the whole assembly. “It is true that such events can serve as a vehicle, however I do not believe that we need effect a direct intervention of such.  Within any ecosphere nature will always strike it’s own balance. It may well be time for this to occur of it’s own accord, if past history tells us anything. Introduction of a new truth in advance of this will accelerate it’s dissemination. Their susceptibility to superstition all but assures a correlation to be drawn between the two. It is not cause and effect, but will be perceived that way.”

Another member, an aged female, seized upon the mention of superstition.  “Superstition is the fertile ground for redefining  understanding of any phenomenon. It has given birth to many cults, but only where a voice has an opportunity to grow dominant. I fear that 22-4 has developed a degree of communication that challenges this.”

The leader observed that her statement had captured the close attention of all. It seemed as though this were an idea that all shared but had not formed the means of expressing it. Still it was incomplete. The leader allowed time for others to pick up on this reasoning and expand upon it, but this went unfulfilled. Perhaps a lack of concern or interest in this obscure island had dulled any desire to participate. The leader chose to facilitate this subtly.

“Please elaborate, 95. Enlighten us.”

She permitted a brief sign of amusement at the invitation, a mere blink of a look exchanged between them and then she continued. “Speech, the development of language, all forms of communication on 22-4, as with most worlds, is a very long cycle. In their early development societies form in isolation from one another. I’m not telling you anything we don’t already know, am I? But there is relevance…”

The leader smiled inwardly, aware of the direction she was taking this. ” Please, continue.”

” We may introduce a mythos in a very broad form, allowing it to take on it’s own unique characteristics within each. There will remain certain commonalities as each of these are cultured within their own environments. Without a means of effectively broadcasting these universally they grow and mature in different paths determined by each set of conditions. These may at times be altered in their course, accelerated by random events. Geological or oceanic upheavals, meteorological events or trends, the organic path as it were.  In this slow track the histories and mythologies are spread as travel expands. As societies may assimilate it is natural that the commonalities in their respective myths will merge the two to an altered narrative that finds concordance between the two. The mythology evolves. This process has completed its cycle on 22-4 and thus we have, as we have witnessed, a set of several that have become the dominant. While they share those same common elements they do compete with one another. As a whole population the technologies have advanced, transcending travel and the distances that have kept these mostly isolated from one another. They have achieved a level of instantaneous communication across the entire sphere. This allows for so many versions to be shared at any location and at all times, no longer restricted by spatial limitations….”

Another of the council members grew impatient with the remedial instruction on societal development. ” Yes, yes….as you say, sister…..things we already know! What is your point?”

Unfazed by the interruption 95 continued in stride. ” My point, dear 48, is that we have a society where so much data, factual and otherwise, is available at any time, anywhere and to any one being that it has been diminished. It is taken for granted. Individuals have the ability to select from so much that it is possible to limit that selection only to that which affirms an existing bias. Or, absent that, they have become enabled to assemble their own mythos and broadcast it anywhere to a global audience. With so many competing ideas, so many avenues for consumption there is little if any that assumes any merit. Speaking for myself, if I may, I fail to see how one introduces a “new truth” into this environment with any hope of it taking hold.”

Several members had been following the train of thought and had already arrived at the same conclusion. Heads nodded in a silent acknowledgement and faces grew pensive in a search for the means of addressing this concern. The leader looked about the table, searching the minds at work, considering which to prompt for further discussion.

“This is all true, 95. An extremely valid assessment and I believe that you have identified our way forward. ” The leader paused to await their faces responding with attention, the anticipation of hearing the way forward revealed. ” It is not our role to “cull the herd”, as you have suggested, 27.  Nature will decide when this is to occur and….that time may be near. The models that have been useful to our purposes have dissolved. They are still present, but no longer effective. They have been co-opted to purposes beyond those intended. A new truth may be planted and cultivated in anticipation of or in the wake of a great apocalyptic event, it is true. It has been done and has worked for us before. I foresee a variation of this for 22-4.  We shall introduce a new truth, but as never before.”

The leader had obtained their undivided attention. A careful study of those faces surrounding him showed that there were none exhibiting those creases about the eyes or hesitation at the corners of the mouth, signs that they may have anything they wished to insert into the discussion. Thus assured the leader proceeded.

“A catastrophic event is warranted here, but not of the natural variety. Not a sudden and rapid reduction in the population. That will follow, given their nature.  This is a species that has forgotten or denies their animal nature. We have changed them, yes, altered their genetic course irrevocably, but with the hope of retaining some of their more desirable attributes.  They have arrived at that state of hubris that predicts the extinction of many. They remain susceptible to superstition, needing to assign the means of understanding to that which they can not know.  They still do this, though they have convinced themselves that they have evolved past this behavior. They reject and disparage the mythology of their ancestors as primitive and ignorant, abandoned their need of gods and assumed the role for themselves. The messiah model will be rejected. They make their own messiahs. We will introduce the new narrative, but the messenger must be the anti-hero, the reluctant messiah.”

“And how would we do this? What catastrophic event?” It was 27 again, a skeptic by nature. His query was not a critique of the plan; simply the need for detail.

“We do not offer this as the herald for catastrophe. It is a voice that will be drowned amid the many, as 95 has so properly reminded us. We will expose this messenger in a place where they are most likely to be heeded, not by a large audience but gradually, relying upon word of mouth but using those means of mass communication as they are available as well. The event will be the eventual destruction of global communication. This will be a teacher, reaching many through mass medium, then after the collapse of the communication grid the message will be carried forward by others, the “disciples” if you will. In the wake of the collapse the message will resonate and will not need to compete with so many other voices.  We are slowing them down then redirecting. Its back to the long cycle.”

Several brows rose, impressed with the explanation. Heads nodded in agreement with the wisdom of this plan. There would be further detail, of course, but this was understood and agreed as a general direction. It would now only want for a script, a messenger and at a later date to be determined a massive series of solar flares or other electro-magnetic disturbance to fry the communication grid.  It was just a new twist on an old program that was tried and true.  The only real surprise was that 22-4 had ever even reached this stage. All of the smart money had been placed on it’s eventual extinction.


To be continued…


It was a cool, wet day in early spring that 998 was delivered to the co-ordinates 42 degrees, 13’24” N and 121 degrees 46’39” W. These were the proximal co-ordinates; the actual manifestation occurring somewhere just on the outskirts of the unassuming settlement situated a short distance inland from what was roughly the center of the western coast of the land mass known as North America.  22-4, or Earth as it was known in the local tongue, had been visited by the sowers in this same vicinity at a time roughly 4,000 years before by the planetary calendar. Time was yet another disorienting factor in visiting these worlds. It was necessary to remain aware of not only where one was, but when. All time is relative, but in dealing with indigenous populations it became critical to observe the sequential nature of their understanding of it.  Calendars in the terrestrial sense were an anachronism to the sowers.

998 had reviewed all archives and uploaded the data cache for 22-4 in preparation.  This was the third planetary insertion for him, the first on this world. The assignment, though less rigorous than his previous expeditions, did promise to be lengthy in its duration. In reality this was a sort of condemnation.  The amount of time required virtually assured that he would become fully integrated to the relative time scale of the planet, making an eventual extraction highly improbable. The risks had been made clear and were acceptable. As far as these worlds went this was one was not so onerous.  It enjoyed a mostly temperate climate, it’s bio-diversity painted an ever changing portrait of bright color and much to marvel over.  Technologically the dominant species were on the cusp of a great leap forward, still primitive by his understanding but advanced enough that it did not promise to be a wholly spartan existence.

The most striking sensation upon arrival was the potent and nearly overpowering scent of pine oil in the air. The sowers through their evolution had retained only the most rudimentary of olfactory glands. In their sterile existence there were few “scent” molecules present and those that were present were mostly neutral in their nature. The most pungent odor known to most sowers was ozone and given the vestigial nature of any remaining sense of smell even this was subdued in character.  This was one of those things that all the research and preparation could not ready one for; it simply had to be experienced.  In all of it’s varieties life bore a multitude of scents.  998 had to spend the first several minutes after arrival slowly breathing in the air and begin to form a mental catalogue of these many scents and build the correlations to their source.  It was a highly unnatural sensation initially, but as a bank of memory was built for it the overwhelming nature subsided until fading into part of the unconscious background.

After regaining orientation 998 made a careful study of the surroundings. He had managed to manifest in a space and time with no sentient life forms to observe what would be to native life forms a truly bizarre phenomenon indeed. The sowers were possessed of a vaguely humanoid form, though plainly alien to any native life.  In the process of materialization to the surface it was necessary that sowers remain in their true form.  Only after manifestation was complete and a brief period of acclimation to the local atmosphere were they able to shape their form to something familiar, to blend in to the scenery. His initial contact subject was a young adult male, engaged in the local custom of hiking a nature trail. Recalling images from his data cache 998 morphed into the image of an average adult male of similar aging and characteristics. His image was made to blend in to both the environment and the activity, appearing with garb, footwear and paraphernalia identified with hiking. Accessing an internal mapping system he determined a course to travel that was marked in local unit of measure of 15 miles to the northwest, a geopoint identified as Mt. McLoughlin. Somewhere in that vicinity within a time frame of 60 to 120 earth minutes he was to encounter his subject.

As an internal function 998 was unable to sense the passage of time in the manner of human beings.  For him it was more mathematics, a counter to keep him oriented to the dimension as perceived by his hosts. The journey was simply a movement of mass and energy from one point to another, the “time” elapsed just another piece of data working in the background. If this assignment was anything like those previous this anomalous presence would gradually form as a part of a character consciousness, a sort of mental construct that aided in maintaining an outward normalcy. This was not a conscious act, just something that occurred naturally in the course of a manifestation. After arriving at the proximal coordinates 998 began to walk about on the marked trails, watching for the appearance of the subject.

In a relatively short distance upon one of these paths he came upon the subject seated amid some scrub vegetation surrounding a small promontory jutting out from the trail in a rocky face overlooking the long slope. The spot was deserted, save for some avian and reptilian life forms. No other sign of sentient beings present. The subject had not yet detected him.  A small cloud of wispy gasses arose from the space and drifted across the air to 998. It was accompanied by a scent, one that he had catalogued as the combustion of organic material, composition unknown.  His speech library correlated it to the word smoke. This was puzzling initially for there was no apparent thermal energy that would foster combustion of materials, organic or otherwise. Solar energy was present, but in filtered form due to larger clouds of moisture hovering higher in the atmosphere. He remained still, observing the subject in as much detail as possible before revealing his image.

The subject was seated, manipulating some device and bringing an open cylinder to his mouth. 998 then observed that the subject held in his other hand another, smaller cylinder which when rubbed at one end with the subject’s thumb produced a flame. There was the source of combustion! The subject drew the flame to the base of the larger cylinder and then inhaled air through the top. A gurgling sound was faintly audible from that distance and then another cloud of gas drifted from the cylinder, followed by a larger volume of gas exhaled by the subject. The image of this activity was scanned to the memory cache and in mere instants produced an explanation. The subject was smoking a bong, likely filled with the dried leaves of a native plant life, cannabis sativa, which was commonly consumed as a mild intoxicant.  Colloquial descriptions included the terms weed, grass, smoke, bud and several others. 998 now had an understanding of the act being performed but no comprehension of motive. The intoxicating effect would have to be quite pleasurable as it seemed counter-intuitive to deliberately inhale gasses that were known to damage lung tissue, an organ vital for human survival.

Programming indicated several possible courses of action, the two primary being to continue to observe undetected from a distance or to approach casually, offer greeting and inquire if the subject was willing to share the consumption of the intoxicant. Based upon his observations and the data available 998 concluded that the subject, in a mildly intoxicated state, would have reduced inhibition and a lessened probability of hostility, thus an opportune moment for approach. He engaged his speech programming and began to walk steadily forward toward the small bluff where the subject remained, still smoking from the bong.

“Hey man! That smells good! Hows it goin’?”

The greeting seemed effective. The subject turned to his approach, exhibiting no signs of alarm and a welcoming facial expression. ” Hey! Whats up, dude? Goin’ pretty fuckin’ good right now….”, he chuckled, pausing to point toward the bong, ” … ya wanna a hit off this? I got plenty, man. It’s good stuff!”

998’s speech processor reacted in nano-seconds, prompting the optimal response. ” Sure! Sounds good!” With the invitation clearly tendered 998 moved to take a seat on the other half of the large rock and accepted the bong and lighter as it was presented to him.  Arranging himself to a relaxed but secure position he took them and mimicked the act just as he had observed it. The scent much more pungent now the smoke stung his nostrils and eyes, causing the outward reaction consistent with such close exposure. He drew deeply from the tube and held in the smoke as he had observed, then gradually exhaling a plume. Conventions dictated that he pass it back to the subject, but it was declined.

 ” Nah, it’s cool. You go ahead. I got a head start on ya!”

998 pulled the bong back and repeated the process a couple more times before finally handing it back. He began to vaguely experience a sedating haze, surprised at the sudden reaction from such a small degree of ingestion. ” Thanks! Yeah, thats good stuff, man.”

The subject grinned and set the device on the ground next to his pack then extended his hand in the customary greeting. ” Hey! I’m Paul! Nice t’ meet ya, dude!”

998 extended one of his own hands and met with Paul’s in a handshake. He had made no prior calculation of a name corresponding to his identity. His speech processor defaulted to the most common names in the english speaking world and prompted his timely response. ” Hey! I’m John. Likewise.”

“Well hey, John! You from Klamath?”

Data incomplete. 998 was unaware if the subject was native to Klamath Falls. Without a sufficient cover and no beings in the town to vouch for him the safe response was determined to be from other urban centers in proximity of the region. ” Nah, I’m from Sea-Tac. Just passin’ through here.”

“Thats cool! I been to Seattle a couple times. We get a lot of out-of-towners come here to hike. Mostly from Portland or Salem. Some come up from California. This yer first time here?”

“Yeah, I uh…..I heard about the lava tube caves and some of the trails around here. Wanted to come and check it out for myself while I’m headed through.”

“Cool. So where ya headed?”

“I dont know. No where in particular, I guess. Just movin’ along, ya know?”

“Yeah, thats cool. So ya stickin’ around here long? Ya got a place to stay?”

“Uh…no. Not yet. I just came around this morning. Haven’t decided how long I’ll stay here. You know a good place?”

“Well if ya wanna stick around a couple days and check things out you can crash at my place, if thats cool. Yer not some kinda serial killer, are ya?” Paul sniggered as he added the last line.

998 responded with an equally dismissive humor. ” No, man! I’m cool. But…you serious?”

“Sure, no problem.”

“Well thanks! That’d be really cool.”

“Okay then! So, you wanna go on and hit the rest of this trail, or what?”

“Sure! Let’s go!”

It was as easy as that.  For all of the accounts of what a hostile world this planet could be this was the easiest initial contact 998 had experienced. And the weed wasn’t too bad either.


more to follow…


The gravelly path crunched beneath their boots as they steadily ascended the long grade of the trail. To Paul the vistas falling away to the plateaus behind were inspiring, a perspective to help center his being. He was not a stranger to the site; he had visited the trail often. On this day he had sought it’s familiar solace to clear his mind of many clamoring voices. These were not hallucinatory in nature, simply a number of matters troubling his conscience.  Ordinarily the solitude enjoyed in these visits was the cure for what ailed him, but today the distraction of a new companion was welcomed, though he really wasn’t certain why this was so. There was something he noted in John that seemed familiar. He was unable to say just what that was. He just seemed to be one of those people one sometimes encounters who possessed a certain “everyman” quality.

They continued for some way in total silence, only the whispering breeze occasionally punctuated by the distant shriek of a hawk carried across the sky. 998 was making good use of this, utilizing all of his senses to intuit Paul’s make up and general perspective of life and the world around him.  The images and impressions he could form from Paul’s psyche showed that he was indeed a good selection to receive the message. Lesser characters had been selected earlier in this world’s history, some with results far exceeding expectations. From the data cache 998 was reminded of the stellar example of Jesus of Nazareth. Out of nothing, from an insignificant corner of an early civilization, this one messenger arose from such obscurity to be elevated to divinity. Divinity was one of those peculiar concepts that arose organically out of human experience due to the work of the sowers. As an idea it had grown so powerful as to have reached across generations and the planet to where it was still a potent force here, now, in this terrestrial place and time.

They were nearing a crest, a brief evening of the grade before the final climb to the mountain’s peak. Paul turned to 998 as he unloosened his pack from his shoulders and reached inside.

“You want some water? I brought a few bottles. They’re probably not very cold any more, but hey, it’s still wet, right?”

998’s metabolic rate was advanced enough to prolong hydration, necessary for his species as well. He did not need the water as Paul’s body may have, but for appearances accepted the offer. ” Sure, I’ll take one. Thanks.”

From this vantage they stood together at the edge of the trail, peering back to the southeast across the wide, placid lake and upon the distant town beyond the opposite shore.  Reflections of the passing clouds drifted over the surface of the lake, appearing like sheep milling across a distant vale. They sipped at their waters in an uncertain silence. 998 sensed that Paul wished to speak, but was still searching his words. He was scrolling through his speech programming, linking with his external data collection to formulate a suitable initiation.

“It all looks so small from up here, don’t it?”

Paul seemed startled at this at first. It was not the voice, but what had been said. ” Wow man! That’s like psychic or somethin’! I was just thinkin’ the exact same thing!”

“Really?”

“Yeah! I know, right? Isn’t that freaky, man?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe not so much. It’s like synchronicity, right?”

“Whoa! Yeah man….Jung! Yeah man! That fucker had it all over Freud, didn’t he?”

This was a promising response. 998 nodded visibly and smiled, wordlessly acknowledging his agreement. ” Yeah, I kinda like Jung’s take on things.”

Paul now seemed to show more curiosity over his new companion. 998 could tell he was engaged. He remained silent, allowing him to further formulate additional conversation. Paul took a longer drink from his bottle until a small stream trickled from one corner of his mouth. He set the bottle aside and wiped his chin with a shirt sleeve.

” Yeah, ya know that’s one of those kinds of things like deja vu. I mean, like, its connected into your brain somehow even though you don’t know where its comin’ from, ya know? Like you can tell its real, but you know it cant be. Then yer just like hypnotized by it, tryin’ to figure out where that shit comes from. I think I notice more when I’m stoned, but maybe its because I’m stoned. Ya know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I know what you mean. It makes sense, though, if ya think about it. I mean look at how many cultures have used hallucinogens as part of some religious experience? It’s like there’s certain chemical keys that open up pathways for our minds to meet with something beyond.”

“Exactly! I think that’s why they got all these bull shit laws against the stuff. They don’t want the people to discover the truth, man!”

“You think they lead to the truth? What truth?”

“Ah, you know what I mean man! It’s not just the drugs, that’s just one of the tools, right? They help ya get to where you can see, but then you gotta meditate so your mind can take you the rest of the way.”

“Okay, but rest of the way where? What? What truth?”

“I don’t know, man! Like whatever’s there, ya know? Whats on the other side, ya know, like….. like after all of this.” Paul gestured with a sweeping arm to indicate everything, the world around them.

“Hmm. Yeah, I suppose it’s somethin’ like that.

“Yeah. Maybe it’s God, maybe its somethin’ else. Maybe its another place, or another time. Maybe it’s another dimension we cant even understand.”

998 was impressed. This was dangerously close to the truth. And this was only one sampling of the species, clearly not their brightest star.  This species was definitely in need of a redirection.  There were perhaps some exceptions, there always are , but on the whole humans were still an untested quantity. The consensus was still generally pessimistic, but if there were not some hope still kindled amid this world he would not be here.

“Do you believe in God, Paul?”

” I’m not sure. I mean…I think I kinda do….but I’m just not convinced what that is.”

“Most people still say this is a Christian nation. Whatcha think about that?”

Paul’s face screwed into something approaching a scowl and then dissolved into a softer countenance expressing doubt. ” Yeah, I dont know about that. I mean I know what’s meant by it, right? Our traditions and customs and all, right? There’s principles in it that are sort of a backbone to our whole system, but we’re not like Iran, ya know? I mean there’s not a church that runs everything. You dont have to believe, it’s voluntary. You get to choose for yourself. At least thats how its supposed to be.”

“You’ve thought about this some! Most people don’t even want to talk about it.”

“Yeah, well ya know what they say, right? Never discuss religion or politics?”

“Mmm. Yeah, I guess they do say that, don’t they?”

” It’s cool with me, ya know. I mean I can talk about it, but with some people? It ain’t always good. But its cool to find somebody else who thinks about this shit!”

Paul seemed content to leave this as the last word on the subject for the time being. He placed his half emptied bottle back inside of his pack and hefted it back on to his shoulders then turned back on to the trail. 998 followed and without further conversation the two of them completed their trek to the summit, some 300 yards ahead. Past the treeline there remained patches of snow scattered across the bleak, rocky face. In the still air could be heard the steady trickle of melt seeking its path downward through the many cracks and crevices of the volcanic cone. The very peak was still covered in icy slush but a well worn path was marked through it. Spring had come on early this season and the trail had already been active. There were few who attempted the journey in the full winter months. Upon reaching the nearly 9500 foot ceiling the sun broke free momentarily to bath their surroundings with a near blinding white light reflected from its surface. At this elevation the air had grown thinner and the crunch of every step was amplified. Paul found himself somewhat winded and was mildly puzzled to find that his companion seemed to be unaffected.

“Whoa, dude! I’m either smokin’ too much dope or you’re pretty used to this! You know we’re almost two miles up, right?”

998 shrugged, decided it was too late now to feign exhaustion. “Really? Huh! I didn’t know it was that high.”

They stood together, squinting against the light and forming visors above their eyes with their hands to look all about. To the south the view reached well into neighboring California with it’s Mt. Shasta, to the west and north further into the cascade range, the peak of Crater Lake in the foreground some 50 miles distant.

“Well this is it! Didn’t think I’d need the sunglasses today!”

998 craned his neck skyward to an arc pointed westward. Against the glare he could make out that more low, dense cloud approached and would again shade them soon. ” Yeah, looks like you’re gonna be alright without ’em. More cloud comin’ in, see?” He gestured to the west horizon to direct Paul’s attention to the looming relief.

“Yeah, yer right. Ya wanna get stoned some more or wait til we get back down part of the way?”

” I don’t know. What do you think?”

“Hmm.  I’d like to, but I’d probably choke it up this high, ya know?”

“Yeah. Maybe. You wanna head back down?”

“In a minute. I gotta get some pics…” He reached into a pocket inside of his jacket to extract his phone. ” Aren’t you gonna take any?”

“Umm…..I don’t have a phone.”

“No shit!? Yer on the road with no phone? What, did you lose it?”

“No. Just don’t have one.”

“Really? Damn, dude….”

“It’s okay. I really never wanted one.”

“Huh. Oh well. To each his own, I guess.” Paul regarded his companion a moment longer, beginning to ponder him further. He concluded that he must be running away from something. Probably a broken heart. That’s what it usually was, wasn’t it? Unconcerned he shrugged this off and proceeded to snap some shots with his I-phone. The first couple were glared out from the light and then the cloud bank returned. Paul refocused the shots and took them again. He checked the new images, satisfied with their clarity and then completed a set from all angles.

From his data cache 998 understood the use of such devices to capture and preserve images.  He felt sorry for their need of a device to preserve their views. The sowers possessed enough memory capacity to preserve flawless images of every single sight they had ever viewed. It was hard for him to even try imagining not having such abilities. The human brain with their genetic alterations had the capacity for this, but sadly they were yet a long way from developing this potential. There were methods of accelerating this process, but the few attempts had resulted in the subjects going mad, unable to cope with even a 10% expansion.  Further attempts had been discouraged, instead waiting for the natural evolution to occur at its own pace.


later comes a shocking revelation……


On the return trip down the trail they engaged in sporadic bouts of idle chatter. What, for example, did he (John) like to eat when he got the munchies? What kind of music did he like listening to? The dialogue aid in his speech programming selected appropriate responses based upon context, location and profiling of the party engaged.  This enabled 998 with the optimal response in any instance, offering what to say but not how to say it. That was a nuance left to the user. Once familiarized with the process the user would learn to develop certain skills in the form of their delivery to make their speech appear genuine and not as if it were being read from a script. In lesser developed cultures this was not as crucial, but on Earth it did require an experienced user.

They paused at the same point where 998 had first encountered Paul to further imbibe in the pipe. He had sampled a range of intoxicants from several worlds and never developed an affinity to any. For the most part these had little effect for him yet he found that he was rather developing a liking for this cannabis. Its effect was pleasant without being incapacitating, of relatively short duration and provided a mildly sedating quality without the undesirable after effects as found in those from fermented or distilled beverages. Further consultation with the data cache informed him that other methods of ingestion were suggested to avoid damage to lung tissue. A tea, as a simple preparation, or an actual cooking process to render it in an elixir form. It might also be eaten in it’s raw form or prepared as an ingredient in some baked foodstuffs. He made a note that he would wish to try some of these as well.

After that brief interlude they resumed the trail and conversation again returned to eating. Paul continually sought his thoughts on various establishments to which he offered no affirmative response. After hearing multiple choices he finally deferred, telling Paul that where ever he wished to go would be fine with him. Paul replied that this was okay and they made a turn into a path leading to the trail head where had parked his vehicle. There was only a short distance more until they arrived at the gravel parking area where Paul’s lone vehicle resided, a powder blue Jeep Renegade of a late ’90s vintage.  998 was amused by their primitive modes of transportation and the peculiar enthusiasm many humans held for these hulks. His visual was synched to the data cache for recognition and in an instant he was able to identify the make and model of the vehicle, most of its critical specifications and any marketing material identifying it with probable driver profiles. Accessing this data and pairing it with what he had absorbed thus far from Paul this vehicle would seem to be a highly suitable match. His dialogue aid suggested he should offer some remark about the vehicle.

“You got a Jeep! Thats cool! The Renegade is a lot of fun, huh?”

Paul smiled at this. “Yeah, they are. I like ’em, anyway, even though this one is an old rust bucket! 225,000 miles on this puppy and still pluggin’away. So where’d you park your buggy?”

“I don’t have one.”

“No shit? Man, yer doin’ this shit old school, aren’t ya? Hard core, man! I’m down!” He extended his right arm straight out, offering his clenched hand for a fist bump. 998 responded in kind. ” Go ahead and take shotgun, dude. It’s unlocked.” Speech processors rapidly sourced the vernacular and 998 climbed into the vehicle.

Paul wasted no time in starting the engine and slapping the Jeep into gear, creating a cyclone of gravel in their wake. He switched on the radio, tuned to the local FM Alternative station. The song Carry the Zero by the band Built to Spill was playing. “Oh, this is a cool jam!”, he enthused and increased the volume. The tires ground along the rough service road to the highway as he tapped out the rhythm of the song on the steering wheel, singing along. Upon reaching the highway he paused without reducing the volume and spoke over it to announce that he would just hit the drive thru at Taco Bell and go back to his place to “Spark up and scarf out”. 998 responded with the simple reply “cool” and then made a show of rocking in his seat to appear that he was also enjoying the music. He’d not had much experience with this and wasn’t entirely sure what his thoughts were on this phenomenon. The manipulation of sound waves intrigued him. It seemed a most peculiar function of mathematics though he had to admit that the rhythms and harmonies were infectious. He’d certainly want to learn more about the variety of instruments used to render these sounds.

Paul seemed satisfied that his companion appeared content with his selection and was happy to just listen and enjoy the ride.  998 observed the country roll past as they rode back to Klamath Falls.  What a green world this was!  He marvelled at the density of plant life here. He had learned that plant life in a multitude of forms was common in most of the habitable universe, though not always green. And no where else was he aware of it existing in such abundance. As he watched the lush vegetation file past his window he mused at how humans were so largely unconscious of it. They seemed to have no appreciation of the remarkable similarities between the smallest grasses and the mightiest pines that shared the forest floor. So much life existed absent consciousness yet it counted for the vast majority of energies invested into living form. Were they able to comprehend that their own life energy might once have inhabited a fern, or might at some future iteration rest in a towering cedar perhaps it would be different. They were yet a long way from this.

A roughly twenty minute ride brought them to the edges of the town where Highway 140 morphed into the South Side Expressway and crossed the Klamath River. 998 observed that they exited to Washburn Way and then headed north. Much of this part of the town was still open space, the buildings increasing gradually as they progressed northward. Nearing a traffic signal at Onyx Avenue the light turned yellow and Paul revved the engine to race into a careening left turn, narrowly clearing an oncoming car whose driver apparently had the same intent of beating the signal change. A horn blared as the car roared away down Washburn.  Paul grinned and looked into his mirror to see them pulling away, stuck his arm out the window with his middle finger extended and called out ” Ahh fuck you!”

He rapidly recovered his composure and wheeled to the right into the Taco Bell parking lot, taking the next space in queue for the drive-thru. “We have arrived, dude! Sorry about that back there, you know, the uh…”

“Nah, it’s alright.” That’s what he said. He was thinking that he had just seen a brief exhibition of the innate aggression present in the species. This was their difficult challenge: to preserve enough of this natural instinct to insure that they might do those things necessary for their survival, while tempering it enough to avoid their self destruction. To place it in human terms it was the desire not to tame the species, rather to domesticate the species. For a moment he allowed himself to lament the fact that the vast majority of humans failed to understand the difference between the two.

They were still idling in the drive thru when Paul abruptly made to exit the vehicle. “Dude! Take the wheel a minute, will ya? I gotta go take a pis, be right back!”

Before 998 could utter a response he had dashed away. He clambered over into the drivers seat and quickly familiarized himself with the muscle memory for the operation of the controls.  They had only nudged forward two spaces in the line before Paul rushed breathlessly back to the driver door. He uttered a quick “thanks, dude” and slipped back into the drivers seat.

A few minutes later they pulled away from the window with a sack of burritos and two large Baja Blasts. Paul turned back into Washburn northbound and they rode on for many blocks through the town until approaching Shasta Way he signalled right. It was just around the corner now he was assured. They turned past a church then immediately on the right was a white and green sign suspended between two wooden posts, bearing the name High Lakes Apartments.

“Well, here we are dude! I picked the place for the name, right? High – Lakes?” He punctuated this with a little laugh. 998 caught the reference but only smiled. Paul drove ahead to the second lane and pulled in to park along the street next to the third building on the left. High Lakes Apartments was a tiny oasis nestled in between blacktopped lots for surrounding mini strip malls, restaurants and a monolithic Coastal Farm and Ranch store. The complex was comprised of three-storey multi unit apartment buildings. The way they were oriented to the surrounding streets one might easily travel past without even knowing they were there. Paul led the way into the building with 998 close behind. They entered a low ceilinged hall with dim lighting and at the second door on the left Paul selected the right key from his ring and opened up his apartment.

“Come on in! It ain’t much, but hey, it’s a roof and a bed, right?”

“Right, yeah….hey thanks for inviting me like this.”

“No prob, man. Come on! I’m starvin’, aren’t you?

The apartment was small, sparsely furnished, but surprisingly tidy. A couch with an end table and lamp, a recliner, a long, low coffee table that served as a dining area were the main pieces in the room. There was also a stereo stand with a modest sound system, another mismatched stand held an old CRT television and a cable box.  The coffee table held a laptop computer, a large, round amber colored ashtray and a variety of smoking paraphernalia. He glimpsed a small kitchenette beyond the room and a short hall leading back to what was presumably the bath and the bedroom.

They took their places on the couch and spread the contents of the bag out on to the table. The wrappings were shed quickly and they devoured the whole thing in mere minutes, washing it down with the sticky sweet sodas until the final gurgle erupted from their straws. 998 had little use of human food, though he had no difficulty ingesting it. He had only the vaguest sense of flavor. He could identify things such as sour, sweet, bitter, salty, but any of the individual nuances of human fare were lost on him. The act of eating was more for the sake of appearances. His bio systems were capable of metabolizing nearly every morsel taken in. Any waste product generated in the process was excreted through the pores.

As expected Paul produced more cannabis and loaded the chamber of his bong to spend an afternoon in a blissful sloth. During that process he retrieved a small rectangular device with multiple buttons, a remote it was called. He held it out and switched on the television.  Some manner of sporting event came to life on the screen, the volume low and hardly discernible. In between hits on the bong Paul asked what he liked to watch. 998 selected the safe response to say simply that he didn’t care and really didn’t watch that much television anyway. Paul shrugged and began to scroll rapidly through the channels, scanning the titles until spotting something he considered worthwhile to watch. 998 watched the blur dully, hoping to see or learn something of interest. Suddenly Paul cried out.

“Hah! There we go! The history channel! Ancient Aliens, you ever see this shit?”

This piqued 998’s attention and he focused at the screen intently.  A man, still rather young looking, appeared on the screen with a bizarre profusion of hair sticking out haphazardly from his head. He could tell he was speaking, but could not hear.

“Turn the volume up…”

Paul obliged, adding ” Oh, this dudes a trip, man! My boy Giorgio!”

998 listened intently from the television ….

“…the ancient astronaut theory suggests that this is a direct result of extraterrestrials tampering with our DNA, so we’re half human and half extraterrestrial. We’re hybrids…..”

Paul hooted. “Man I’ll tell you what! They do have some real interesting stuff on here, but this dude? Giorgio’s a freak, man!”

” I don’t know, man. There might be somethin’ to that, ya know?”

“Ha! You never seen this? Really?”

“No, but it looks interesting.”

“Yeah, its interesting. Some of the stuff they put on here actually sounds pretty legit, ya know? Its just this guy, man! He’s too much.”

998 listened to more of the theories discussed on the program. There were a number of citations of evidence from ancient earth civilizations, the Sumerians, the Mayans, all of which he was familiar with. He was heartened to hear how much of it they had figured out, though he knew the parts they were missing. It was not expressed in character but inwardly he smiled as he listened further and watched Paul’s engagement with the subject. It was only the two of them and it seemed fateful somehow that he should be offered up such a clear invitation. The protocols suggested it better to allow more time to gain the subjects trust, but his instincts told him that this was a golden opportunity.

“Hey Paul? Don’t you think there must be other life out there?”

“Well yeah, man! I mean the law of probabilities, right?”

“Exactly! Its not so far fetched that somewhere one of them might not have come here, right? Maybe that is how we got here, ya know?”

“Yeah. Maybe. Sure, it’s a plausible thing, I guess.”

“Right. Here, lemme see that remote a minute, will ya?”

Paul pitched the remote over the short distance between them and 998 snatched it out of the air one handed. In one fluid motion he clutched the device, swung it around to point at the screen and switched it off.

“What the fuck you’d do that for?”

“Just chill, dude, okay? I gotta show ya somethin'”

Paul had the start of grin then, seeming to think that there was some kind of joke to come.  998 stood tall and straight in front of him, no more than six feet away. he let his arms fall relaxed at his sides and closed his eyes, training his mind inward.

“What the fuck ya doin’ man?” he asked, still with a bit of amusement in his tone.

998 began to emit a very low subsonic hum, putting a mild pressure on Paul’s eardrums. Paul had only begun to notice this mild discomfort when a brilliant flash of light filled the entire room. Instinctively Paul threw up his arms to shield his face and cried out “Jesus!” The light vanished as suddenly as it had appeared and the hum had ended. As Paul gradually lowered his arms back to his sides and tried to blink away the flash blindness he began to see a fuzzy outline of something standing where John had been. He was having difficulty focusing, though he could tell something wasn’t right. Was it John standing there? What had just happened? He stood up and rubbed his eyes then blinked some more. His sight was growing clearer now. He stepped toward John and…..

“Holy fuck! Ho-lee fuck! What the fuck is…John?”

998 stood before Paul exposed in his true form. He projected a pheromone that exerted a calming effect upon humans and allowed him a moment longer to recover himself. Then he spoke.

“I am the last of my species, Paul. I have been sent for a purpose. You need not fear.”


still more to come. be patient 


998 knew  that remaining in his true form would be unsettling, a distraction. To calm any anxieties he smoothly reverted to character. The process was much less dramatic than the shedding of character, to human eyes appearing as an instantaneous change. The process was painless for 998, the only sensation involved being that after exiting character one was left with a feeling throughout the body like that experienced when wearing a tight fitting hat for a long period and then after removing it still having the sensation about one’s head that the hat was still on. He now appeared again as John.

Paul was left unsteady. He did not exhibit signs of fear but was now wary, cautiously weighing a decision whether or not to flee. Not flight from fright, rather it was just an instinct to put some distance between himself and something uncertain. Deep down he still needed to be convinced that he would not come to harm. The shock of it was still fresh enough that he remained paralyzed. 998 spoke calmly in the voice of his character.

“I am John. This is how you shall see and know me, Paul. I will not shock you with any further displays. Unless, of course, you still feel you need further proof?”

Paul shuddered then snapped from his daze. ” No no! Its…I….I believe…. I think I believe, uhh….. How the fuck do you do that, man?”

John assumed a kindly, paternal expression. “Oh Paul, dear dear. I couldn’t begin to explain it to you even if I wanted to.” Paul was completely unconscious to the gradual effects that the release of the calming pheromones were having on him. He only knew that his heart rate had resumed a normal rhythm and the adrenaline surge that had jolted his body was now neutralized.  998 had remained skeptical of how effective this agent could be on human behavior.  As a matter of science he fully understood the mechanics of this. He was just surprised to find that after so many generations of the genetic makeup of the species being watered down they still carried the same potency as with the lower orders of life on the planet. He had thought that as with the sowers the receptors would have been dulled to the extent that this would no longer be effective.  Humans may have reached a stage where they were no longer conscious of this sensory function, but clearly they were still susceptible to the influence. 998 moved this bit of data to have a more prominent place in his processing centers, considering that there might be many circumstances in this mission where this might prove to be vital.

As Paul gradually recovered his equilibrium he began to form questions. A trickle at first and then a flood, so many that he struggled with where to start. 998 observed the rapid activity in Paul’s frontal cortex and patiently waited for him to complete his processing. As this went on for some minutes Paul became aware that his mouth had grown extremely dry. He licked his lips and tried to will his salivary glands to produce, but to no avail. Blankly he rose and went to the kitchen to get some water and returned with his own open bottle and another to offer to 998. He did not need the water but graciously accepted it with a quiet nod as it was placed before him.

“So…. you’re the last? What, like you guys are dying off and trying to repopulate through….Oh ho-lee shit! You tellin’ me Giorgio is right?”

“Not entirely, Paul. Its….its a bit more complicated than that. No. I am the last of my species. There are others.”

“You mean…..?”

“Paul throughout the universe there are nearly as many higher life forms as there are species upon this planet.”

“No shit! Fuck, man! So…..oh man, this is just makin’ more questions….”

“Oh I understand, Paul. This will take some time. But don’t worry. I plan on being here for some time. In fact….in fact, Paul, it’s highly unlikely that I will ever be able to leave. At least not in any sense that you might comprehend.”

“Okay, so you said you had a purpose, right? Like some kind of mission?”

” Yes, you could put it like that.  Without any specifics I suppose that would be the best way to describe it.”

“Huh. So, like….umm. Can ya tell me what it is? Not like the whole plan, ya know, I mean like just basically. Ya know, like in a mission statement. Oh…wait….umm, you understand what a mission statement is?”

Making an effort not to seem condescending 998 offered his reassurance in a gentle tone.    “Oh certainly, yeah sure, Paul. Yeah I understand that. Lets see….” 998 assumed a pose through his character that indicated that he was searching for the right words. ” To put it in the form of a mission statement. Hmm.” 998 carefully weighed several possible versions for this. “My purpose is to redirect the course of your species, to return it to a path that reaches for your ultimate potential.”

Paul considered this, trying to form a picture of that mission in the context of humanity and it’s present state. ” Okay, so like we’re the wayward child and you’ve come to put us back on the right road?”

“Mmm…..yes, it would be something like that.”

“Huh. Well you may be just in time, dude, ’cause we sure got some things fucked up on this planet. Well, I guess you’d know that or you wouldn’t be here, right?”

“No world is perfect, Paul. We are….we are guides, not creators. At one point it was believed that there was great potential for this world, for your species. There is still that belief. Not shared by all, but on the whole we still have hope for your continued progress.”

“Okay, okay…..Just….just hold on a minute, dude. I need to smoke another bowl.” Paul took the bong and scraped ash and residue from the chamber then methodically repacked it with the pale green, fluffy buds.  998 observed patiently as Paul applied a flame and drew deeply until the fluid churned within the tube. Clouds of the smoke roiled within the orange translucent tube and then spilled slowly from over the rim as Paul pulled away and held the breath deep. A few seconds passed and he exhaled long and slow, tripling the volume of smoke swirling about the room. When the last of the long breath was spent Paul extended the bong and a lighter and a look as to ask would he care for more. 998 politely waved it away.

“So who is “we”, or “they”, or whatever?”

“We are called….In your tongue we are called the sowers.  We’re sort of uhhh…. what you might describe as an all-star team from several advanced civilizations.  We do on an intergalactic scale what bees essentially do on this planet. That is we move about, mostly unnoticed, and we uhh….just through the course of very random interaction we pollinate worlds, so to speak. To insure the continued advance of life.”

“But you’re not creators? I don’t get it. I mean it sounds like what you’re doing makes you, like, the gods or somethin’. And why? Why even do it?”

A genuine wry smile formed within and translated into the expression on the face of 998’s character. He thought to himself “why indeed?” Before he could attempt any answer Paul continued.

” Is this like how we got the whole thing about the God, like the big boss, and then all the angels? That whole idea? Like you guys are the angels, right? So is there, like, a god? Or gods?”

” There is “god”, Paul. Not “a god”, not “the god”. Or gods. There is just god. God is. But it is not what you think it is. The concepts of a god or the gods? These are just the creations in the minds of sentient beings.  Sometimes it is a phenomenon that evolves of its own accord. Most instances, actually. Often, to some degree here on your world, it is a result of a mythos that we may have planted, like a seed left to germinate. Your species, other species, other worlds, these are the fertile ground that we “sow”. We are the sowers.”

“Huh. God is. What the fuck does that even mean, man?”

“It means…. this is difficult, Paul, because your species has all of your preformed means of understanding or describing the concept. “God” is a word, an identifier that your speech requires to indicate the concept of “God”. You have other words that don’t entirely capture the meaning, but they come closer. Nature would be one. Your species often describe natural phenomenon, or the reasons for these, by saying that “it is nature’s way”.  What you describe, what most of your species has anthropomorphized to describe as a “god” entity is in fact a universal life force, a form of energy that is omnipresent. It is nature’s way. “It” decides the course of life. All life. We may be able to influence events to steer it in one direction or another. Sometimes we succeed and sometimes we fail. We do not control it. We can not control it.  But we have gained a clearer understanding of it. We are masters of nothing. Like you and your species we are simply a part of nature, instruments of whatever purpose nature may hold.”

Paul was spellbound by this explanation. He took up the bong and consumed more cannabis. “Whoa, man! This is some heavy shit, dude! Damn! I always knew all of those churches were full of shit!”

“Oh you should not say that, Paul. Not out of fear of some damnation, that is surely part of the mythology. The churches are not all bad, they have their purposes. Many impart wisdom, guidance. Much of what they have taught are lessons that we brought here to guide the species, Paul. Now it is true that their creeds have often been co-opted by humans for purposes that are wholly human, selfish. But there are still valid teachings there. You just have to look for them, not wait to be told what they are.”

“Oh, right, right! Yeah, I get that. Its not the spiritual thing or the moral thing I got a problem with. It’s the organizations, ya know?”

“I understand, Paul. The organizations are human institutions and like humans they are not perfect. They are the messengers, not the message. Did you know, Paul, that there is no “perfection”? Another human creation, I’m afraid. Everything that “is”, that is that which exists, not that has been made by human hands, everything that “is” is as it was meant to be. It’s not our choice. We must take what is given.”

“Okay, so what about, like, the prophets, then. Or the founders of religion or a movement, or whatever. Was that, like, you guys, or….?”

This was one of the questions to be anticipated. Faith or bias resistance to that which challenges that bias. These were the seeds of doubt, suspicion.

“Let me give you an example, Paul. When I, uh….when I frightened you with my transformation what did you say? You cried out “Jesus”?

“Uhh, yeah. Well that wasn’t a religious thing, ya know. When you’re surprised or scared that’s just one of those expressions that comes out. Kind of a reflex, ya know?”

“Yes, I understand that. But don’t you see? It is a reflection of how deeply rooted this is in your culture. You’re right. Its not religious, not spiritual. Its cultural. Maybe they can not be separated from one another, but they are not the same thing. But I digress…Anyway, Paul, Jesus? He was not one of us. Jesus was a man. He was real. He lived, he was a teacher and a prophet. He imparted wisdom for living in harmony with each other and with nature. That was his purpose. Did he perform miracles? Did he have certain abilities? Yes, he did. For those things he had some help from us. It wasn’t our plan to see him nailed to a tree, that was your doing for your own purposes. There was nothing “divine” about it. All that came later. Someone else’s mythology, a human invention.  Jesus was a great messenger and teacher, a guy you certainly wanted around if you wanted to put on a great wedding feast or cure your leprosy, but the son of God? Sorry, but no. Or at least no more than any of the rest of you are.”

Paul seemed to be pondering this deeply, a frown creased his brow. “Wait a minute! Hold on….Yer tellin’ me that you guys, like what? You created Jesus, or gave him the mission or whatever, and then you just left his ass flappin’ in the wind? What the fuck, man?”

“Ah-ah, nature , Paul. We may guide or attempt to guide it a certain direction, but we do not control it.”

“Yeah, okay, but I mean if you can give the dude a mission and help him out with some of the props and shit…. I don’t get it. Ya did that to steer things a certain way and then some other people come along and turn it to shit and you can’t, like do something the same then? Like, not intervene directly, but you know, like you say….you could have done something else to “steer” things a different way, couldn’t ya? Hell, why even do anything then?”

There was some truth in what Paul said, but again it was more complicated than that. He could explain more later, but there were other things Paul would need to learn first. Paul did not persist and allowed these questions to not only go unanswered but not even acknowledged. He was still struggling to make some sense of it on his own when his countenance again changed and he moved to another line of questioning.

“So what about the others, then? Right? Like Mohammed or Siddhartha , or…..hell I don’t know the others. Are they yer guys’ work too? “

“Siddhartha we can take credit for. Mohammed was spawned as an entirely human reaction to Judeo-Christian teachings, another one sadly co-opted.  It’s always when these are taken by those who would pervert the teachings to their own ends that the teaching takes on an ill name and is entirely rejected. This too is in part why I am here.”

A look of understanding crossed Paul’s face with this explanation. ” Oh, I get it now! Yer the janitor, then, right? Come back to clean up somebody else’s mess?”

“I can understand why you might perceive it that way, Paul, but as I say it is more complicated. Much more, I’m afraid. In order for you to fully understand what has been done, or not done as you have noted, there is more that you need to know. This is going to be the most challenging part for you. This is the reason why we must work through messengers and can not reveal ourselves entirely to an entire population. It’s too disruptive.”

Paul had not the slightest inkling what this meant. No conjecture, no attempt to in any way interpret this into something that he thought he might understand. The long pause left hanging at the end of the last statement frustrated him. The longer it went on he became agitated, growing impatient for the rest. 998 did this purposefully. Paul’s face began to blush slightly, his ears grew hot and finally he burst out.

“Well!? What the fuck, man? What is it? Yer not gonna tell me?”

998 remained calm and replied in a soft but steady voice. ” I can tell you, Paul, but you must listen. You must listen to it all and do not interrupt with more questions. You will need to hear this and you will need to allow some time to begin digesting it before you can ask any more questions. Do you understand?”

Paul’s expression was intent upon these words. His face reflected a sickly mix of anger, confusion and fear. It was the panicked look of a caged animal. His nostrils flared steadily as he breathed heavily, slowly calming himself until the tension in him subsided. ” Okay. Sorry. I’ll listen.”

“Paul your observation of what was done, and not done, in the case of Jesus is only one example of what I am about to tell you. Your perception of the event is viewed in a lineal field of time, comprehended within the scope of finite dimension. You can see what was done first then what happened after, and then what happened after that. You perceive actions and reactions. These are real, actions do produce reactions. You know physical laws governing these things. These laws are understood as absolutes, and this is correct, but only in part.  Actions and reactions radiate across different planes. What you perceive is within your plane of existence. Your view is spatial,not only in terms of physicality, but your mind has assigned a spatial quality to events as well. Spatial in the sense that it is perceived and defined as within a select set of fields that are linear: past, present, future. Anything that happens, action, reaction, it all falls within before, during or after.”

998 paused here to open the water bottle and take a few sips from it and then cautioned Paul before proceeding.

“You may want to take a few more hits off of that thing before I go on, Paul. In fact, I’m quite certain of it. Go ahead.”

Paul no longer appeared angered or afraid. The flush upon his skin had faded. He now only looked anxious as he heeded 998’s admonition and took in a couple more healthy doses from the bong. 998 waited until he was positive that Paul was done, the bong returned to its place on the table, the lighter out of his hand next to it and he had relaxed back into his seat.

“Paul I will be able to help you fully understand these things as we go on. It can be illustrated for you, but you must first be prepared for it. What I am going to tell you now is only where you can begin this understanding. Paul, time, as you understand it, does not exist. If there is truly time in any sense whatsoever then one would have to say that everything is now. Everything that has, does or will exist does so right now, in this instant as you are living it, but it does so across multiple planes, simultaneously. Likewise for everything that has happened or will happen. These planes are infinite There are planes where you do not exist. There are planes where you were burned alive in childhood. Planes where this planet exists and planes where it doesn’t. Planes where plants are the most advanced life forms. Everything that nature intends that could possibly exist or happen, or not exist or not happen, every possibility in infinity is. You call this God. It is as I told you before. God is. That is a human word, a human understanding for that which has no word, that which can not be known. It can not be known because your are a part of it. So am I. So is this building. So is wet mucus on the snout of a Great Dane 7.2 miles north-northeast of this room.”

998 decided to stop there. Nothing more he could say presently that would make it any easier. Paul sat in a daze. His eyes said that he had heard it all, but they also said he was still trying to process it. He was completely still in his seat, continued to blink at normal intervals. His breathing and heart rate were steady. Looking blankly ahead, with no trace of emotion or animation in his voice he quietly said, ” I’m gonna need more fuckin’ dope”

998 had broken the rules. He had broken protocols on exposure, but that was a trifle. He had broken the big rule, rule numero uno. He had instead of planting the seeds of a new truth, he had revealed the truth. Knowing this truth he finally understood that the rule did not matter. The truth was like Dylan: it means everything and nothing at the same time. And no matter how many times it was revealed it never made any difference in the grand scheme of things because of one other simple and absolute truth. The truth just doesn’t translate.

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