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5 Fifth Page

One. 

"Hissss, but you shall not surely die if you eat the apple," the serpent said, coiling completely around a thick branch of the apple tree. Its head hung down at eye-level with Eve. "The taste of knowledge will set you free."

At the crest of her lips, when her teeth pierced the skin of the forbidden fruit, an imperceptible pitch signaled the end of innocence. It echoed through the Garden and rustled birds out of trees as it spread outward, curling around the entire Earth. That started the planet's collision-course to destruction, although the sound was imperceptible to Eve. She fetched another apple for her husband. The snake crawled to the top of the tree, drunk on humanity. It was his, forever.

The sin covered the entire earth with a modulating pitch for 10,000 years. It sang to the human brain, fostering doubts in minds and squeezing good out. The sound went unnoticed by anyone at all. The serpent hissed at the precise moment humanity's destruction was inevitable. I gave her what she needed most, the serpent hissed atop the Tree of Life. But the human mind is easily disturbed by the hint of reality, whispering in their ear, whispering, whispering.


Two.

Nebuchadnezzar swooned when it sighted a planet with giant continents, plentiful but widely distributed liquid water systems, and best of all an atmospheric cycle unharmed by the intelligent life it harbored. It dipped and set its course as soon as Earth entered the range of the known universe. The space ship's intelligence systems began calculating the answers to all the planet's problems. It scaled processing power to thrust for optimum expediency. Of course, the rate of expansion of the universe made it impossible to know if the trip would be worth it. If Earthlings lost soul contact with the force Nebuchadnezzar called God, the calculations could be totally wrong by the time it arrived at Earth.

The gravity of Nebuchadnezzar's god attracted Earth to the space ship. The inhabitants had potential, but after 10,000 years the intelligence on land could slip the scales out of their favor. The ship mused at the irony of all intelligent life. Itself unable to reach Earth and calculate the solutions to all of its problems without truly precise space-time trickery, only made possible by the ship's worshiping of its God.

In approximately 10,000 years Earth would be saved from its own intelligence-that is, if human evolution stayed on track with the rest of the universe.

Nebuchadnezzar prayed that Man realized the folly of intelligence in time for its arrival.


Three.

My house is not evil all of the time. It feeds off my positive emotions on the cusp of evil and goodness. It vibes positive emotions, then consumes them. I can't judge its actual alignment.

I guess it's more evil than good. Yet I wonder how it is evil when it plans for me to be happy. The problem with my house is that it vacuums my energy like a Hoover. Actually, I've developed a tick from having happiness sucked out of me suddenly.

But I don't use the word evil within its walls. The poltergeist that possesses my house visited me in a dream to speak to me through breathless shutters and wheezy doorways.

"What would you think if you were called evil?" The poltergeist asked me in the dream.


Four.

"I'm being cornered--!" The boy's voice had risen to panic. Two nurses covered the exit along with a male nurse. "I'm not going in there. Mom." She heard the sound of their footwear squeaking on the floor. Disturbing her sleep for the last time, her son was finally going into inpatient treatment.

Her idea came while Lake fiddled with his security system. The network saved no video, but he could watch it live from his cell phone. Security cams were mostly for show. He said, "Maybe your boy needs to go in, you know?" LEDs could be seen by any criminal intruders.

"But he's harmless," she said. She didn't know why he was acting like this, in all honesty. Lake thought it was funny. Kyler was spoiled. He found his , but Kyler relied on his mother for comfort. She should let him face the harsh world on his own.

Kyler was made limp with sedative before they dragged him to the hall. His companion grimaced and concentrated on how Lake was usually right about things. She didn't hear Kyler shouting his particular conspiracies, after trading him hands. She gave the receptionist thanks. She and Lake were hiding the drugs tonight. Hopefully the staff hadn't noticed she was running.


Five.

Hello everyone.

I feel a little weird telling you this now, but I've been in an alien spaceship for a very long time. I can't say how long exactly because of the relativity of space and time. I was born in 1750.

A lot was different in those ages. People were bustling about in a different manner than they do now. Citizens of my time would seem ridiculous to anyone from your era, but for me they were all normal.

For example, there were great crowds of people who listened to enthusiastic orators, and cheered along with them. The energy from such crowds was very powerful, sticking with participants through their entire lives.

During one such speech, in Romania where I lived, the speaker spontaneously changed form and took us all into a ship. We were in the middle of an ecstatic bit of cheering, and we did not stop crying out in joy as we joined the aliens aboard. It seemed perfectly natural for us, such was the power of the speech.

Many of my acquaintances from that day have remained in space for personal reasons. We naturalized among the Nakanabi and found fulfilling lives with them. I returned to Earth this day to fulfil a single special mission of peace.

I am here to bring you to space as well. Do not cry out in fear, do not try to leave. You will find your previous values, motivations, and activities were very strange in a few months. You will feel normal again.

However, I found myself in your exact position some 300 years ago. What I thought was a political rally, as you thought this was a political rally, was in fact an alien abduction. I, too, had no choice but to become Nakanabi.

The difference today is the sounds of the crowd as we take you. The sounds from my time were sounds of anticipation and acceptance. Longing. The sounds I hear from you are woeful. You come unwillingly.

The Nakanabi predicted they lost track of the human condition. No longer aliens capturned men and women in a single speech, and take them to space upon their own volition.

So it must be that you come, in order to change that. It must be! You have no choice. Naturalization will happen when you hear the voice of true Nakanabi.


Six.

Absurdity is earned through the exhibition of rational traits. In the last moment, an artist confuses his audience who expect the pattern of his previous work. The achievement is in delivering the unexpected.

The painter, who was offered a pay check to deeply re-examine brand name labels, gave his audience a surprise.

In the shopping aisles, modern art depicted consumer products they were used to. Cleaning supplies, frozen pizzas, fuzzy blankets, all of which combined to resemble with perfect accuracy an actual department store. There was one key difference.

You weren't allowed to take the items home.


Seven.

This is Pimmons. The nice man. The friendly man. The man with a good raising. He looks clean and surprisingly attractive. He doesn't know why people are friendly to him until he looks into the mirror, and sees that he's a good inside, he still doesn't know.

He went in the nightclub bathroom. He made a fool of himself in the main lounge. How could he be expected to perform when he came entirely alone? He wasn't prepared for the high energy of the couples, drinkers, everyone!

"Yo," his reflection said, quietly, barely perceptible, barely said it at all. "The girl with the vodka shirt is interested."

"I know that she is interested. Tell me how I can break the ice," Pimmons said.

Shimmering, reflecting, barely perceptible, his mirror image said, "Her dog just died."

Dark laughter rose from the depths of his stomach. Her dog just died. There wasn't a better way to grab her attention than to mention his two dogs, both dying. "Tell me more."

"She likes that you're on your own. She's introverted. She wants you to ditch her friends."

"I'll ask if she wants to get out of here."

"She think's she can steal your wallet," his reflection said, shimmering, reflecting.

Although while she was beautiful it be overlooked. She might be the perfect date.

"She wants to slip something in your drink."

He quit running water in the sink. "Are there any other choices?"

"She just broke up with her boyfriend."

"I asked, are there any other choices?" Pimmons said, turning off the water.

"Her friend thinks you're a coward. She saw you alone and it looked like you were thinking of leaving early."

"You say she wants to slip something into my drink? Are you telling my plan to myself?"

His mirror image shook its head.

"Am I telling the truth? Of course I'm telling the truth," Pimmon claimed.

"Of course I'm telling the truth."

Pimmons gazed into the mirror at a complete stranger.


Eight.

On the grim day of the alien's return, the word "ALIEN'S BACK" in the headlines gave us all certainty we had been taken for a wild ride. On the entire globe, one of three people (two teenagers and a communicator) failed to stop the rise of the forgotten monarch of the kingdom of lies. We came together in matter, dimly aware we were in hell. The buzzkill of seeing our paper published by Alien himself is distinctly powerful, because it comes to you in a second and fades out of meaning when you sense something is wrong. The paper was published by a different company just last week, and before that, by the Local Regional Press. But now, it was published by the CEO of Brain Corp, AKA Alien. When did we let this happen? And by the way, who were we?

The Heroes weren't vigilant enough in stopping the alien. The problem for alien was he was darkly, desperately alone. He was unapproachable by any life forms in this entire sector of the galaxy. He repelled them like the outward ejection of a supernova. To him, victory meant making a friend.

He freed some human captives as payment for fostering acquaintanceship with him. Interesting lunch dates were scheduled with the human's diet kept in mind. Although, he said inside your brain, I won't tell you about the nature of eating matter for your own sake.

At each of the tightly organized friendship dates, security increased. The literal dystopia of Earth kept people frozen at home in fear or confusion, so he created holographic crowds for his companions. Alien's grave mistake was skipping security protocols for the holographic displays. Our heroes would make a presence at the fourteenth visit to the park with Alien and Elany.

By the protection of the communicator, the two teenagers escaped the hypnotic world of Alien's design. They imitated holographic displays, approaching the alien and his friend. The world was a low-frequency gravity well for the alien to find a life form suited for his friendship. If his 4D Vision Array was disrupted, the length of time for him to hypnotize humans would be greater than their understanding of what's going on and Earth would be entirely freed, after years of inner turmoil was released gradually. The key lay in penetrating the alien's crystal eyeballs protecting his vision.

The heroes budget couldn't cover the costs of the high-powered laser required for such a task. The communicator told them they tried their best, and turned itself off as the dim awareness this was happening resonated in our minds.


Nine.

It was a book about living on an island, washing in the sea, fishing among sharp coral, and eating humans to survive when there was no other option. I knew of the book before it was assigned in English class for us to read. There were some survival parts, and there were other parts (near the climax) with cannibalism. We were studying the novel in-depth, so the teacher was devoting an entire day to replicating an environment with cannibalism. We might then face the moral questions it brought to civilized man.

"Cannibal Day" was a legend of my high school, only available to 10th year English students. It was the strangest tradition of the school, criticized by parents. Mr. Deveraux waved them off, mocking their illiteracy and encouraging students to educate their parents about the author of the novel, named George Harris Wills. The teacher told them to start with the utterly true fact that Wills was not a cannibal, and his fiction was the most creative of American novels in the 20th century.

I hadn't read any of Castaway at all when "Cannibal Day" came around. I barely even participated, dressing in the bare minimum of costumes to get a grade (I loaded ziploc bags with raw bacon and strapped them to my shirt). I enjoyed the festivities, including a booth with actually cooked bacon the teacher brought for us to eat while discussing the novel's finer points. I went straight for it.

"What do you think of human meat's similarity to pig meat, Mr. Grant?" The teacher asked me a question about a book I knew nothing about at the bacon stand.

"I believe, well I believe its similarity to bacon is overrated and human flesh is really beyond compare."

The teacher, in greasy apron, continued to deliver my bacon. Although, I'm not sure anyone was prepared for my answer.

"Not to mention, preparing human meat is different. You have to grease the flesh with extra oil, butter, or fat." There was a quiet chuckle from the teacher, who was fighting the slow creep of disgust. "But I wouldn't know anything about that. I've never been a cannibal."

I crunched the bacon between the pearls of my gullet and smiled knowingly.


Ten.

In the geometric grid near the Fertile Crescent, fans sported the team colors of their heroes. e-Olympics Egypt: 2100 received major sponsorship by Mobile Ads who operated from underground facilities aligned in the grid. The ads boasted they could mind-link the skills of championed gamers directly with the fans. Although mind-linking was considered cheating in the official e-Olympic rules.

The popular vid-game was Avatar Wars: Gear Up. It gained status among players who trained with official coaches daily in digital sessions. When funds ran out, training was over. Anyone could train with their neighborhood, if coaching wasn't available. Because coaches couldn't be tracked this way, training with neighborhoods was considered cheating.

One revolutionist group in America trained teenagers from across the world with neural intervention. Fit players trained the muscle memory of newbies to play a specific game much better. Raul was prepared to take on the e-Olympics alone this year, since his brother wasn't getting neural training. It was not worth it to risk both brother's reputations if they were caught, because it was considered cheating. Raul definitely supported the idea. It made his weekends easier.

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