Yesterday afternoon Chaz Browne set out to explore the hills on the “back 40”, as he liked to call the western part of his property. After a while he pulled out his compass to determine the direct route to his house, when he saw that his compass was spinning erratically. As he moved away from the hills, the compass started steadying. As soon as he walked back towards the side of the hill, it went batshit.
As he walked around the brush he noticed a group of bushes on the hill. The leaves were turning purple, they were dying. He also smelled ozone. He continued around the hill and the smell of ozone got stronger, and he realized that most of the plants and bushes on this side were damaged or dead.
Then he saw the cave. At first he thought is was a fissure on the rocks, but as he approached it he saw it was large enough to enter. The smell of ozone was very strong the closer he got. He put a bandana over mouth and nose and ventured into the cave. He took out his iPhone and used it as a flashlight. In a few seconds his eyes were accustomed enough to see a shimmering glow inside. He turned off his iPhone to see if the glow continued, or if it was a reflection of his iPhone light somehow. The glow was there still. It was contained by a ring about 2 meters in diameter. He walked up to the glow. It seemed translucent. He thought there was a pale shimmer of light behind it.
He slowly touched the glow. He felt a shock and an intense tingling all over his arm. He pulled his hand back immediately. It scared him. He had no idea what was happening. He decided to go back home and return tomorrow when he was better prepared.
As soon as he got out of the cave he started feeling better. All the way home he wondered what had happened. The smell of ozone was strong, and the plants were damaged. What did that mean? What was the glow? Could it be electric? What could generate the electricity? Anyway, tomorrow he would go back with a gas mask and see if he could figure out the mystery. He didn’t have anything he could use to measure any electromagnetic discharge. Now he wished he had paid more attention in his high school’s physics class. Well, nowadays we have Google. Maybe he could figure it out anyway, he thought.
When he got home he noticed that the electric clocks were dead, as if they’d been fried by a power surge. Something had knocked out all the electronics that were not protected by a surge protector, including light bulbs. Fortunately he had a surge protector on his computer, and he was hard wired to the internet, so his laptop wasn’t damaged. He wondered if it had anything to do with what he discovered in the cave. He logged on and started reading Google News. He found a story about abnormally large sunspot discharges from the sun this week that could affect all electronic instruments around the world. Maybe that was it.
What he had experienced in the cave was not his imagination, something strange was happening there. Chaz didn’t know what to call it, but it reminded him of Stargate, an old Sci-Fi movie he liked. For now he would call it the portal, and tomorrow he would discover what it really was.
The next morning Chaz woke up refreshed and ready for adventure. He found an old gas mask in the garage and took one of his new LED flashlights, that advertised light that could shine for a zillion miles, etc. He also picked up the walking cane his wife used to walk with, before she passed away. He packed a few sandwiches and filled his camel hydro-pack with an electrolyte and water. His iPhone wouldn’t work in the cave, but it could take pictures, so he also threw it in the backpack.
He looked around, but couldn’t think of anything else to take, so he set out walking towards the hills.
He smelled the ozone before he saw the cave. He put the gas mask on and continued. He entered the cave slowly and let his eyes get accustomed to the low light. He saw the portal, still shimmering in the cave. He took out his flashlight and aimed it towards the portal. Unlike the reflection of the light when he shined the light beam on the walls, the portal sucked the light right in. No reflection whatsoever. He took his walking stick and touched the portal. The stick vibrated at a very high frequency, and he almost dropped it. Chaz took out his iPhone and took a few pictures of the portal.
Chaz knew he was going to try to enter the portal. He couldn’t just walk away and forget it. He remembered the strange feeling when he touched the portal, so he steeled himself and decided to walk through quickly.
When Chaz entered the portal, he thought he had died. It felt like his body was disintegrating. It was the scariest thing he had ever encountered. Then gradually he felt or saw his body reforming. When he somewhat felt normal again, he was totally drained. He saw a large rock to the side, and quickly sat down on it. He had no idea of what had happened. He looked at the cave and saw that he was now in the back part of the cave. The crazy feeling he felt when he passed through the portal was really scary. He wondered if he’d had a stroke. He also wondered if the ozone smell was toxic and was causing hallucinations.
When he got his breath back he looked around the cave and noticed a diffused light coming from the back of the cave. He decided to explore it further. In for a penny, in for a pound, as his father used to say. He slowly got up and started walking back towards the light. The further he walked into the cave the brighter it got. He didn’t need his flashlight. Chaz knew these hills. Unless there was a hole in the roof of the cave, he didn’t know where the light was coming from. He continued walking and soon arrived at the entrance to the cave. The opening was larger than the one he entered, so he knew he was somewhere else. Perhaps he had found another entrance to the cave. He hadn’t walked far, so he knew he was still on his property. But where?
Chaz stepped out of the cave, and the first thing he noticed was the grass around the entrance. It was brown and recently cut. He could still smell the recently cut grass. Chaz lived in New Mexico, and was adamant about not having any cultivated gardens on his property, so he was really confused. Then Chaz’s blood ran cold, and the hairs on his arms stood on end. When he looked up he saw a red sun overhead. The sun was at least 50% larger than what he was used to seeing. Then he noticed the sun was dark red, and not the bright white he normally saw. Perhaps this was some kind of an eclipse? He looked around. 100 yards from the cave he saw a white wall completely surrounding the area he was in. There were no walls or fences on his property. What was going on? He pulled out his compass to see the direction to his house and the compass was still spinning wildly.
He started walking towards the wall, still checking his compass. It continued to spin. Chaz knew he had not taken any drugs in years, so he wasn’t stoned and had no idea of what was going on. He looked at the sun again. Still large and red. Perhaps his blood sugar was off. He took a PB&J sandwich from his backpack and started eating it. It tasted weird. He tried to wash it down with water from his hydro-pack, but the water had a very strange consistency, like gel, and Chaz involuntarily spat it out. What was going on?
Chaz instantly had the realization that he was no longer on his farm. But where, was the question? He turned back and looked at the cave. He wanted to make sure he could find his way back. The entrance to the cave was large and well defined, so he turned back his attention the the wall he was approaching.
The wall was at least 15 feet tall, and he could not find any gate anywhere on the length of it. He reached towards the wall to see what it was made of, as he couldn’t recognize the material. The minute he touched the cool smooth surface he heard a soft whirring sound, and suddenly a door appeared in front of him. The door slid open and Chaz could see a small building nearby. He walked through the door and heard the strange whirring sound again, and saw the door disappear into the wall. He walked back to the wall and touched it. It was solid, and couldn’t see any door. He looked up and realized he would have to climb the wall in order to get back home.
What was he thinking about? How could he get home, if he didn’t know where he was? He walked towards the building. He couldn’t see any doors or windows on it. However there was a path on the grass leading up to the building and Chaz walked on it towards the building. As soon as he got within a couple of feet of it, a door appeared and opened.
An old man was sitting at a console, and looked up surprised to see Chaz.
“Gredasy fossgfu.” He said.
“Sorry?” Chaz said.
“Oh, you speak English?” He said.
“Of course, what do you speak?” Chaz said.
The man looked at Chaz carefully and stepped out from his console and walked around Chaz looking at his clothing. The man was wearing some sort of a blue jumpsuit.
“Where did you come from?” He said.
“I was exploring a cave on my property, and found a portal that let me to another exit, and then led me here.” Chaz said.
The old man looked at me a long time and chuckled.
“You are the first in centuries.” He said.
“The first what?” Chaz said.
“The first person to cross the portal into our world. It’s not supposed to happen. We were told it would never happen. But then, all politicians lie. I knew it was just a matter of time before somebody showed up.” He said with a smile.
“Where am I?” Chaz said.
“That is hard to explain. Sit down.” He said pointing to a chair.
Chaz was happy to sit. He was not feeling too secure.
“My name in your English is Guardian. My role is to guard the portal. I basically do a lot of research, because nobody has come through the portal in centuries. Our centuries, not yours.” The Guardian said.
“Where am I?” Chaz asked.
“Our planet is called Home. Well, not really, but close enough. You wouldn’t be able to pronounce it anyway. We are very far from your planet. By the way, how much physics or astronomy do you know?” He said.
“Not much. Why?” Chaz said.
“I was going to try to explain where we are in the known universe relative to your planet.” He said.
“I wouldn’t know anyway, but how did I get here? And why is your sun dark red? And why do you speak English with an American accent?” Chaz asked.
“Maybe the best way to explain it is to give you some history.” He said.
“Please do.” Chaz said.
“We are a very old civilization. We have almost a million years of recorded history. Your planet has about 5,000 years of civilization. You had animals like dinosaurs and such for a few million, but they were extinguished… Did I say that right? Extinguished?”
“Yes, that’s fine. Go on.” Chaz said.
“Anyway about that time we discovered that our sun was dying and we would have to emigrate to other solar systems to keep our species alive. Fortunately we were quite advanced in the sciences and were able to identify about 100 planets in our galaxy that could support life as we knew it. Your planet was one of them. So we started emigrating to your Earth.” The Guardian said with an enigmatic smile.
Chaz sat there trying to digest what he was hearing.
“You are the descendants of our race. That is why you look like us. Every few hundred years we seed your world with new ideas. We’ve done this with 48 planets so far. Some are doing better than others.” He said with a shrug.
“You do this through the portal?” Chaz asked.
“Don’t get ahead of yourself. Let me give you a bit more background. Have you ever asked yourself why people on your planet are different? Different skin color, size, shape and aptitude?” He asked.
“Because of where they developed? Sun, climate, etc?” Chaz asked.
“Yes, but not in the way you think. All races evolved in different planets, with different gravity, nutrients and electromagnetic properties. We realized that the different planets were overbreeding in certain aspects, so we decided that bringing them together would strengthen our race, that is -all of us. So we brought peoples from many different planets together; what you call caucasians, asians, indians, and blacks, together thousands of years ago. We did this in many of the planets we were colonizing. You don’t think you evolved from apes, do you? We knew that we couldn’t do anything for your people, but needed to let you develop together into a flourishing civilization. It’s been an experiment that some in our Council feels is lost, although others think they will make it in the end.” The Guardian said.
“We’re an experiment?” Chaz asked.
“I guess it probably sounds callous. Is that the right word, callous? I have kept up with the development of your language through your television. Have you watched House of Cards? It’s my favorite.” The Guardian said.
Chaz sat there dumbfounded. He was having problems digesting all this.
“Anyway, as I said, every few years we send somebody over to give you a hand. Not that you couldn’t do it by yourselves, but we are frankly in a hurry. Our Home doesn’t have much time. We would like your planet to be more advanced before we finish emigrating. We have consumed almost all of our natural resources here. We produce much more CO2 than is good for us. A planet cannot sustain life as we know it, without a balanced environment. We were so consumed with new technologies, that we stripped Home of all of it’s resources, including our sun. You asked why the sun is so red? We found a way to tap our sun of it’s energy, and after a million years… Soon the sun will cave in on itself and this area of the galaxy will be a big black hole sucking in everything around it. Our avarice has destroyed our planet, and if we cannot find a place to live we will disappear.” He said with a shrug.
“But Earth is already overcrowded. There is no room for your people. We have millions of people going hungry.” Chaz said.
“I know. We are hoping you will find a way to correct the imbalance. You see, civilization is like the sea, with waves that come and go. Waves come that influence thinking. Now the wave seems to be about personal greed and disregard for others. We had hoped that your races would have mixed better, instead we find you constantly fighting each other. The sad thing is that nobody can win alone. This is what the Council is concerned about. Fortunately we have 47 other planets, and some of them are doing better.” He said.
“We have people on Earth talking about colonizing Mars.” Chaz said.
“Yes, I heard about it. Musk is his name, if I’m pronouncing it right.” The Guardian said.
“Yes. Is he one of yours?” Chaz said.
“Actually yes. We should have sent him earlier, but your technology was not quite up to snuff. However, it will take hundreds of years for you to colonize Mars, to be able to accept a large number of immigrants. You have to replenish the soil and atmosphere. Also you need a lot of water and Mars’ temperature is a bit extreme for our taste. We are thinking that we might have waited too long and are reconsidering other options.” He said.
“Why don’t you send some people over that can help expedite the development of Mars?” Chaz said.
“I think the extreme temperatures make it less likely to work. Our bodies tend to be a bit fragile.” The Guardian said.
“Tell me about the portal.” Chaz said.
“We built it about 5,000 years ago. It’s what we use to bring people with new ideas to your Earth. Your European ancestors were going to stay in the dark ages, unless we brought them the concept of zero. The eastern cultures had a numbering system that included the zero. Can you imagine trying to do serious mathematics, or invent the transistor, with the Roman numerals you were using? Columbus couldn’t have sailed the seas and exploited the Americas without the compass. Yes, we have helped you a great deal. We usually just send spirits, and let them find new bodies. Of course, with the exception of when we brought entire tribes to populate specific areas.” He said.
“Did you bring religion?” Chaz said.
“Hah! No that was your doing. We thought it was a very convenient way to teach new cultures. The natives were not educated, and religion gave them rules to live by. Unfortunately it became about power, and many religions have corrupted the concept of helping others.” The Guardian said.
“Do you believe in God?” Chaz asked.
“Of course. Somebody created us. There was a civilization before us of very powerful beings. They just disappeared one day. Some people think they are in a another dimension because they didn’t want to deal with the problems our race had created. I personally don’t know.” The Guardian said.
“Have you had others come to your planet?” Chaz said.
“We rarely have anybody come to us. You are the first in centuries.” The Guardian said.
“How do you do use the portal to move to other planets?” Chaz said.
“It’s an area of physics you probably don’t understand much. The closest you would have is what you call Quantum Teleportation. You see your Einstein, although he had good ideas, was wrong in many ways. Fortunately we sent somebody to try to steer him in the right direction, but they had a personal dislike for each other, and it didn’t go as planned.” He said.
“You sent somebody? Who?” Chaz asked.
“You called him Nikola Tesla.” The Guardian said.
Chaz thought about what he was hearing, although it was hard to digest.
“You know, we’ve sent hundreds to you over the years.” The Guardian said.
“How do you send them?” Chaz asked.
“Sending bodies is dangerous and sometimes causes problems. We just send the…you call it spirit or soul. So we send the soul through the portal, and then the soul, or spirit, finds a body that needs it.” He said.
“I know what you mean. I thought I was dying when I passed the portal.” Chaz said.
“All matter, as you know it, it condensed energy. The portal changes the matter back into its native energy, and then can be teleported through the portal to anywhere in the universe where we established another portal. It’s sort of dangerous. We prefer to send the spirit, which is pure energy, and let it find a new host. The spirit does not lose the knowledge it has when it travels through a portal.” The Guardian said.
“How come more people haven’t found their way to you before?” Chaz said.
“Normally it is not visible. Unfortunately, your sun’s activity this month activated the portal so you could see it. Normally you could go into your cave and never see it. As soon as the solar activity dies down, it will not be visible to anyone again.” The Guardian said.
“How about me? Will I be able to return?” Chaz said.
“Why? Do you want to?” The Guardian asked.
Chaz thought for a minute. What did he have to look forward to? His wife was gone. They didn’t have any children. His world was nuts. They just elected a President that was so egotistical that he was blind to everything outside his family. The world was more polarized than at any time in recent history.
“Think about it. It’s a big decision. By the way, what is your name?” The Guardian said.
“Interesting name. Did you pick it?” The Guardian said.
“Not really. My parents did.” Chaz said.
“If you stay, you can pick your own. You don’t have to make a decision now. Are you hungry?” He asked.
Chaz thought about the PB&J sandwich he had in his backpack. “Yes I am. Will I like your food?” Chaz asked.
“One of the advantages of our civilization is that we nurture our bodies with healthy food that tastes good. Our food delivery systems knows your tastes, and generates food to suit your tastes. Here, put your hand here.” The Guardian said.
He took Chaz’s hand and put it against a panel on the wall. A slight tingling indicated that something was working inside. Chaz thought about macadamia nut ice-cream and wondered if they had any here.
In a few seconds the panel opened and a bowl of ice-cream emerged.
“Can I taste it? Our food delivery system cannot create flavors that we don’t know. It uses your own memory to create the taste. I’ve never seen this food you ordered.” The Guardian said.
“Sure, be my guest.” Chaz said.
“Be my guest? What a great expression.” He said while taking the bowl and putting a spoon into it.
Chaz watch the delighted expression on the Guardian’s face as he let the ice-cream melt in his mouth.
“Oh, this is incredible. What is it?” The Guardian said.
“It’s macadamia nut ice-cream.” Chaz answered.
“Yes, I can see that sensation is a large part of your world. This provides a very pleasant sensation.” The Guardian said licking his lips.
“Tell me more about your planet.” Chaz said.
“It would take too long to do it verbally. Sit at my console. I will download our history to you. We have perfected education. We install all the data in your cortex and you just have to look for it. It’s sort of like having Google in your mind.” The Guardian said.
“Is Google your idea?” Chaz asked.
“Not really. We can’t take credit for everything. We brought Alta Vista to you, but Google was a natural development of Alta Vista and others.”
Chaz walked around the console and sat in front of it. The chair, or whatever it was called, reformed to fit his body better. The Guardian stepped beside him and touched a few areas of the console. All of a sudden Chaz felt his space open up.
“Wow, that felt interesting. Instead of feeling like my space was limited to the size of this room, I feel like my space is huge. It feels like the entire sky is my space.” Chaz said.
“Yes, that is a benefit of education. However, data alone will not make you smarter. You have to use the data to activate it. Otherwise it’s like having a pair of shoes in your closet, but never using them. Your feet will still be cold.” The Guardian said.
“Interesting simile. I notice you don’t wear shoes.” Chaz said.
“Yes. I got that from one of your soap operas.” He said.
“You know, soaps are not real.” Chaz said.
“Yes, but they reflect the state of mind of your people.” The Guardian said.
“What do you do for fun or adventure? I don’t seem to see anything about it in what I learned.” Chaz said.
“We don’t have fun, like you call it. We have evolved to be very efficient, and enjoy the culmination of a project. We don’t waste time. Production is the basis of morale.” The Guardian said.
“I’m not sure that I prefer that. I think we are best when we are able to create our own destiny, based on our desire to learn more and our experience and intuition. We call that adventure. My coming to you was an adventure. It was fraught with danger. I thought I may die when I walked through the portal. But I did it anyway. If I didn’t want adventure I would have never come over.” Chaz said.
“Yes. That is one of the benefits of a young civilization. We lost that, but gained so much more.” The Guardian said.
Chaz sat there at the console and looked in silence at The Guardian for a while.
“I want to go back to Earth. I appreciate the time we have spent together, but I don’t see a role for me in your world. You are too organized and programed. I like the mystery of the unknown in my world.” Chaz said.
“What will you do when you go back?” The Guardian said.
Chaz thought about it for a minute.
“I’m going to become a science fiction writer. I’m going to write about the future. Perhaps I can be a modifying influence in our culture.” Chaz said.
“Interesting. I didn’t think you would want to return to your crazy world.” The Guardian said.
“It may be crazy, but it is my world. It deserves all the help I can give it.” Chaz said.
“Then you better get ready to return. The portal is going to close soon. The sun spots are diminishing. Oh, by the way, do you want to keep your body?”
“What do you mean? Keep it?”
“If you want, you can terminate your body and go back in spirit form and pick up a new one.” He said.
Chaz thought about it. If he dropped his body, he would have to start all over again — in diapers.
“Nah. I kind of like it the way it is now. I know I don’t have much time left in this body, but I’ll make the best of it in the time I have.” Chaz said.
“Then it is easier if you discard everything you have and go through the portal naked. The added material makes it harder to travel through the portal. Remember the feeling you had when you came? It will be easier on you if you discard everything.” The Guardian said.
Chaz started taking off his clothes.
“Will I remember everything when I return?” Chaz said.
“Probably will, at the beginning. In time this will probably seem like a dream.” The Guardian said.
Chaz finished removing his clothes and folded them on the floor. Then he stood up and turned to The Guardian.
“How do you say good bye in your world.” Chaz said.
“Just good bye. Maybe we will see each other up the line.” The Guardian said.
“How do I get back?” Chaz asked.
“I’ll open the doors for you. Fair winds and following seas.” The Guardian said.
Chaz smiled at the nautical reference.
“I read that in one of your classical books. Do people still say that in your time?” He asked.
“Yes they do. Thank you for everything. I will miss you, Guardian.” Chaz said.
“Good bye Chaz Browne. Thank you for letting me experience macadamia nut ice cream.” The Guardian said as he smiled and sat back on his chair. He placed a finger on his console.
Behind him, Chaz felt the door open. He turned and walked out of the building. He turned towards the wall and saw the gate open, and beyond, the cave beckoning to him.