THEND

Part One: Of Light Lost
Section One


Pricks of light speckled the absent void, and allowed even those in the brilliantly artificially lit city to see the two planets off in the distance and the omnipotent moon rising just off the distant horizon. Inside the city below, men walked strait and tall, oblivious to the almost full figure that was rising as it had countless nights before, but without purpose. Here, this moment is frozen.

There was an old highway that led into the city. If someone traveled along it, someone could be assured of being undisturbed, not from lack of travel, but from lack of use. Men traveled by energy in those days. It was obsolete.

We move along this ancient monument of man. We don't take any time except this moment that stands still. We pass homes, factories, and farms that produce what solid matter converters cannot -- fountains, recreational areas, and governmental buildings. Wood, found to be to flexible and flammable, is absent in all structures. It was obsolete.

Reporters and policemen no longer inhabit the confines of the street. Since the creation of intercontinental peace and the formation of worldwide government, they haven't been needed. There are still a few terrorist groups, but they are small and insignificant in relation to the power of the whole. They were obsolete.

As we continue on, there were a cluster of restaurants. The menu included no prices, for the objects we call money were then an object of speculation and wonder of an era not long past. Money was obsolete.

As we turn off the highway onto what was once a back-street, we find alleys leading off the streets. Peering closely into the shadows, we may see creatures, not unfriendly, who had left the dark everlasting structures of steel and stone. They were cellular creatures that, if you had come too close, you would hear as I have. Do not fear them. They have bark, 'tis true, but if you are in need, they will help protect you -- for a price. Their boughs cover the entire city. Bargaining with them is possible since they were flexible.

We slow as we approach a house on the edge of the street. It was an unusual house; one of the few from the time that buildings were made partially from wood. It had seen happy times, sad times, hard and easy; it had withstood floods, hurricanes, and storms; but nothing recently.

Inside this wizened structure lies one of importance to what was to happen. Fate had chosen him. He was a college student of twenty one years. He had the shadow of a man, but, in the right light, his age melted away.

He was in his bedroom right them. He was sitting up in bed, listening with all of his senses. The room was unusually organized, but had papers and books encircling a central clearing point. The titles included "Ancient writings," "The 1086 Processor," "Advanced Electronic Theory," "The Fusion Engine," and so forth.

We move over to the desk. There were two items of interest. One was a packet of papers entitled "Modifications to Military Decryption Programs." The other was a letter.

The letterhead was spartan, if existent. Even so, there were impressions of a great scholarly mind which had been firmly chiseled into stone, then left out to wear away over the years. A curious thing about it, the wording was as if it were meant to be a matter of business, but then, as the letter went on, it became more personal in style. It was as if the person who wrote it started out in a formal style, then forgot to be so formal, writing as if to a friend.

Exiting the house, we move two blocks due south to the college this nameless prodigy attended. We enter through a wall into the storage room. Here were boxes enough to make someone's eyes swoon. The only one of true importance is the one over there in the corner inside the security system. It was marked no differently than the others and addressed to the same archeology department. It was even from the same dig as many of the other boxes. Yet the contents were two stone tablets, not ordinary tablets, but ones inscribed with special power. We pass back through the security system. We don't trip the system since we are not here so much as time is concerned.

Next door another room with a sign over it labeled "COMPUTER LAB" houses some of the most sophisticated pieces of machinery that man had yet invented. The capabilities were mind-boggling.

We exit the building through the storage room. We move through crates of parts man hadn't even dreamed of yet. Back outside, we return to the point where we started, awaiting the continuation of time. Time must continue for the sequence of events inevitable to have happened. Besides, if time remained stopped, no one would have died -- or lived. And living... dying is a law-bound necessity.


He shot up from a sitting position. He was searching for an insubstantial, intangible force which had awakened him from his sleep. Concluding that it was non-existent, he got up for a glass of water. A moment later, he returned from the bathroom, less parched and less awake. He walked over to his desk and picked up a letter addressed to him from the college archeology department, a man of over eighty. It stated:
 

Archeology Department
Terminè University
Diabloangel, New California 14618

Mr.
1200 Roto Street
Diabloangel, New California 94530

Dear Sir:
Please come to my office tomorrow at 3:20 pm to discuss your final project for my class. If you cannot make it, please see me for another time. I hope to see you there. Until class tomorrow!

Your friend,
Oscar


He replaced the paper, gave a shrug, and went back to bed.


Diary Entry: Jan. 8, 7:02 am: For some reason unknown to me, Oscar wishes to meet me about my final class project. I don't know why he's talking about this so early. The school year is only a third over.

Worldwide, all is quiet. Don't take this wrong, I am grateful for peace. But, as many can tell one, there tends to be a great calm before the storm. Maybe I'm just imagining things.

Locally, there are terrorists, robberies, theft, a couple of murders -- just a quiet day. These aren't to the same degree as they had been once. Old habits die hard. Sometimes quickly, but always hard...


We peer down into one of the college's classrooms. Here, caught in a half standing position, was Oscar Nadànio. He was an unusually immaculate figure at this moment. Students joked that he was as old as the dig dust under his fingernails. Mr. Nadànio was the head of and the archeology department. It had taken him years of work and diplomas to achieve this position -- now that he was near his death.

A vast multitude of books, some two hands high, created a wasteland of what were once working tables for students. Among them were weed-like charts and drawings of things both known, unknown, real, and unreal.

The clock on the wall hung there as a vague reminder of hours which had been forgotten. It had emitted no sound in respect for our presence. As we leave, the hands resumed their cyclic task, repeating what they had done once more.


Professor Nadànio got up from his chair, vaguely conscious of the knocking made at the Professor's door. Outside the door, he stood with his senses aware of... something..., yet uninformed as to its nature, being too brief to know, but readily recognized. Oscar opened the door without greeting, without recognition. Oscar handed him a hastily scribbled summary dated some days ago. His eyes widened as the Professor stood there, stroking his unkept and mangled chin. He would have stood closer to Oscar if it weren't for his odor. The note read:
 

Several tablets have been found out at the Black Ridge dig. For your final project, you can translate them if you wish. I'm about to try myself, but, since you are reading this, I have been unsuccessful in translating them. I'm sure you'll find a way.


"Did you find anything at all?"

Oscar shook his head and grunted an exhausted and forced, "No."

He left.


Diary Entry: Jan 8, 11:51 pm: This being my third entry, I will just report my progress. There is none. That's not quite true, I have failed to identify the writings as any of the previously known "languages", if you will excuse the lack of a better word, and that in its own backwards sense is progress. The idea came to my mind that it might be a dialect of a language. This is the thread that I will follow next. I pray it will lead to an historical end. I seem to be a workaholic, especially since its that time of year again. Eighteen years, and two days ago. Liz in the psych class I took last year said it was because of my "insatiable desire to create a past because he lacks a past of his own due to a lack of parental..."

Back to work.
 

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