For the Time Being

Louis C. Stewart

Chapter 1 — The Voyagers
Kevlin left the council room disturbed by the lack of fresh ideas. The council was definitely thinking in circles. The same old ideas and supposed solutions to the problem had been gone over and over again. The same mistakes were made in genetic control and the results were deplorable. Something drastic had to be done and no one, it seemed, had the courage to deal with it effectively.

Most of his colleagues were followers not leaders. Kevlin often wondered why he had the ability to think outside the box and to move in directions others thought impossible. It was likely that he was a “throwback”—a genetic mutation that actually had recourse to the type of individual thinking that had occurred in ages past. Of course, it seemed impossible to Kevlin to thrash out new ideas without a single soul with the ability to follow or support him.

This was the source of his frustration. He decided to view the screen and contemplate the planet that they had so many times visited before—this often gave him the “shot in the arm” that he needed from time to time. The inhabitants were so impossibly stubborn—they had no sense of logical reason. It seemed they were largely bent on self-destruction. Yet, they could think outside the box—they had the ability to make decisions and carry them through difficult situations. Of course, many of the decisions were wrong, full of blunders, but at least they tried.

The voyage could not count on them for help. There was too much space between their species and ours. The voyagers thought sensibly, too sensibly; they thought intuitively. That is the very reason why the voyagers couldn’t get anything accomplished: just one big stalemate.

Kevlin was absorbed in thought and didn’t hear Robur enter the room. He looked at Kevlin with surprise. It was not like Kevlin to leave a council meeting early. However, Robur guessed the reason and was not slow in letting Kevlin know it.

“Couldn’t take any more of it, eh? What is the problem this time?,” Robur exclaimed. Robur wasn’t a “throwback” like Kevlin, but he was able to understand some of Kevlin’s frustrations. He was generally more pragmatic—less of a creative thinker, but could sympathize and often understand what Kevlin was trying to achieve. “It is always the same problem—they are stuck. There is only so much that one can do with genetic engineering. One can alter and slice all you want but one can’t change entirely the material that one is working with. The attempt to strengthen our gene pool is not working because the genetic material is not different enough. We thought the problem was that the DNA was too foreign, under the circumstances, and we have found that the similarities have been the real culprit all along. It is now certain that to strengthen a race like ours there has to be differences enough to enhance the strengths of the mixture of genes rather than the weaknesses. If one can overcome the difficulties of paring down to a fine enough level the actual differences will be an advantage.”

Robur answered sharply, “But you have no choice in the matter—these humanoids are all you’ve got—you’ll have to go to plan B.”

Kevlin started to pace around the grey corridor that formed the part of the ship in front of the council chamber.

“Don’t remind me. That’s the problem. The council can’t make up their mind. They never can make up their minds and that is the crux of the whole problem. Most of us no longer have the courage to take a risk—to bet all or nothing on the outcome. They’d never have the courage to risk plan B even though we are close to having the technology to pull it off.”

“How much longer do we have if we don’t genetically do something?” Robur basically knew the answer but didn’t want to accept it and was hoping for a different answer from Kevlin.

“I would guess about five generations more or less,” Kevlin said, “and I don’t want to be around after that even if it were possible—some of us would be no better than idiots.”

Robur sighed and looked at his feet. That is what he was afraid of. They both turned to look at the screen. It gave them a sense of hope to remember that this world, at least in the beginning, held such promise for their survival. They could see villages and cities—observe the gamut from the simple life to the bustling world of the civilization that these humanoids had created through millennia of trial and error. Kevlin admired these humanoids for their strength and independence. Kevlin believed that that species wouldn’t have been stuck that long in a council meeting. Something would have been decided even if it were a mistake. These people take risks. Sometimes the choices are horrendously wrong but sometimes they were spot-on right.

The world was so fresh and green here—the sun was a bit smaller, but still remained a comforting globe of hot gas that gave life to the planet. Kevlin wanted to explore and told Robur that he intended to leave the ship. Of course, Robur would be concerned—the atmosphere was not quite right. Robur knew that too much oxygen that could cause some inflammation in the lungs, but Kevlin could always use the breathing mask, at least some of the time.

It would not do to be seen by the indigenous people. The overall shape of his body and certain features compared to theirs was enough to cause some concern in these hairy people with their beady little eyes and prominent nose and jaw. However Kevlin decided to leave in spite of the admonitions of Robur. He took his breathing mask with him and a cloak to hide his appearance as much as to protect his body from the elements.

Kevlin loved this world —the forests and rolling hills. He especially liked the sunsets over the seas and the brilliance of the blue sky as it set off the many clouds on the planet. He had thought that the world of his own would be better off with some pastoral landscape instead of the vast covered cities designed to control weather and general environment. He much preferred taking a chance with nature as it was. He remembered this world fifty years ago when one of the inhabitants was “summoned” to his ship as part of the research to solve the voyagers’ genetic problem. He remembered the general fear of the indigenous people as the two species experienced one another—and especially the fear and concern of the single individual that had made such an impression on him. He also remembered the difference in the two species in experiencing reality. This humanoid’s reaction to the visuals on the screen and his conception of the “mass murder” that was not really happening but took the shape of reality in his mind. How he thought it was somehow his fault –that he was a traitor to his species. He could not understand that it was simply an experiment in “genetic modeling” -–that what the screen showed him was only an illusion.

Kevlin wished that he could, once again, see this individual and assure him of the harmlessness of the experiment. Perhaps if he could make himself known to the population, instead of maintaining such a veil of secrecy, then there could be more mutual comprehension between these two worlds. But this veil of secrecy had been the policy for years on the part of the voyagers. This was essential ever since the development of nuclear power on this planet. These beings were so irrational. No—it was best to keep a low profile as they had done so far. Not to draw attention to themselves—that was how it needed to be done. The whole process from the “summoning” through the surgical genetic manipulation to the births. The loss of memory would manifest itself, perhaps, in the form of dreams. That is, if any memory was at all retained. Time was running out and an answer must be found to the problem soon or the very survival of the voyagers’ species was in grave danger.

At any rate, it was now nighttime on the planet and there wasn’t much danger of being discovered during the hours of darkness. The ship was surrounded by forest, which was bathed in the icy white light of the full moon. Kevlin was mesmerized by the beauty of the landscape. The forest was quite deserted and there was little chance of an encounter.

The moon was so far away here— not like at home where the proximity of the satellite was uncomfortably close. Here there was a respectable distance between this planet and its nearest neighbor and Kevlin drank in the eerie beauty of the night. The moon was going to set in a couple of hours and the landscape would change to a yellow glow so Kevlin spent the next two hours walking and thinking about what his next steps would be when the council would meet tomorrow.

After the moon set, the only light visible was the cold light of the stars. Kevlin knew that they were scheduled for a “summoning” this evening if an inhabitant were in the vicinity. He had to return to oversee the procedure. So, Kevlin was about to return to his ship, when he felt that he was not alone. His species had developed the ability to sense the presence of others without actually seeing or hearing them which was an added protection against accidental discovery. Kevlin, however, was sensing an inhabitant that seemed strangely familiar. He had a feeling of having known this person before but he couldn’t actually place where or when it was.

Kevlin decided to communicate with Robur. He told him to engage the ship’s power and let the ship rise to prepare for the “summoning” without him being aboard. He didn’t give a reason to Robur because he was unsure of the rationality of this decision. Of one thing he was sure: he was determined to find out whom this being was that, apparently, was so well known to him.

Chapter 2—The Dream
It was five-thirty in the morning in March of 1968 and Stuart Ellis woke from an extraordinary experience. (An experience was all he could call it because the dream he had just had was as full and alive as if he had watched a movie. It had had a beginning, and a middle, and an end—just like a full story or novel should have.)

Stuart had no choice. He got up and sat down at his desk and started writing. He wrote every thing he could remember. He knew the story was complete but, as all dreams go, his thoughts began to fade. He had to get the story out before too many details disappeared.

After completing what he could remember, he ate some breakfast and tried to decide what to do about it. He was not a writer; he was trained in science. As a matter of fact, he was still in school studying physics and one of the last things of which he had interest was writing. Of course, he wrote up experiments and that sort of thing, but this was different. This was fiction—at least, he thought it was. What else could it be? He did not believe that nonsense of alien abductions even though there was a substantial quantity of reports that was difficult to dismiss out of hand.

Of course he hadn’t been abducted—it was just a dream. But what a dream! He even felt guilty about his actions. Who ever feels guilty about a mere dream? It is nonsense, but still—what to do about it? Nothing? At least he could talk to Ken about it. Even though Ken was a psychology major, he would think that Stuart would have gone off the deep end. After all it was only a dream!?

Ken Coleman was a practical sort of fellow. He always saw the logic in things of the world and was good at coming up with a reasonable and sane way of dealing with problems. He was quite popular with his cool way of handling crises as well as manifesting certain mannerisms that definitely were him through and through. He had certain turns of phrases in his speech that eventually were termed “Colemanisms.”

He knew that he could see Ken when his Abnormal Psychology class was over. They would meet at the student union building. He knew Ken would probably have his morning “fix” of café au lait. After all, Ken was quite the Francophile.

Stuart walked over to the student union building, popularly know as the SUB, and was pleased that he was exactly correct in finding Ken sitting with his morning coffee. The SUB was a combination lunch bar and bookstore and Ken felt Stuart approaching immediately having always an extraordinary sense of his surroundings.

“Well, Ellis, what’s up? I have to tell you, you look like hell. Anything wrong?”

Ken was also quite sensitive about body language and knew right away that something unusual was afoot.

“Listen, Ken. I had a dream… an extraordinary one,” Stuart said with a certain amount of hesitation.

“Yeah? what’s her name? I’ll bet its X-rated,” Ken said, starting to laugh.

“Look, Ken. I’m serious. This is serious… It was a whole story. I dreamed a whole story. How often does that happen? I mean, it’s about aliens for one thing.”

“You mean the kind that are here and don’t pay taxes.”

“No—extraterrestrials from some other planet—they came in a UFO.”

“Say—I didn’t know you were into that kind of stuff. That’s not your style,” Ken said with a grin.

“Its not—or at least it wasn’t. Now I’m not sure— it was so real—and disturbing. I was in a position of saving people from them. They were like overlords. They were here to kill us for some obscure reason. But I was involved in saving some of us. I would look at some people in a certain way and I thought I was doing something to harm them—like changing them against their will. I felt guilty by doing it but I couldn’t help it. It was beyond my control.”

“So you were responsible for the deaths in the dream,” Ken said . “Could this be a simple case of guilt resulting from some unresolved issues of subliminal transgression in the real world?” Ken’s grin became bigger.

Stuart said immediately, “No—that wasn’t it—I saved them. The people that I changed survived. When the overlords, or whatever they were, pulled a switch or a lever of some kind the people I saw in their big screen —-I had a view over the whole world in that screen— died instantly. The ones that died were the ones I hadn’t changed. My ‘look’ saved part of humanity. They were the ‘new’ beings—the enlightened ones that were to carry on in the new civilized world.”

Ken laughed, “You were the savior of humanity—talk about ego. That takes the cake. You were the Christ figure.”

“I didn’t feel very Christ-like. I felt awful that it happened at all… Who was I to decide who was to live or die? Even though it seemed out of my control, there was volition on my part in my unconscious decision to give that side-long glance and—and they survived that received it. It has to be all-symbolic. Why would I dream such a thing.”

Ken had no answer, and it was true: this wasn’t Stuart’s style. He was an imaginative guy, and certainly had his creative side, but this was so far out of his realm of thinking it was incredible. It wouldn’t matter so much if the dream weren’t so awfully real in its logical continuity.

Ken did advise him to look into Jung and the idea of the collective unconscious but, except for some general symbols, this dream didn’t really fit in with the highly symbolic Jungian way of analyzing unconscious thinking. Stuart felt more confused and unsettled than ever. It was not clear at all why this dream had made such an impact on him. He decided to see another friend—one just crazy enough to make some sense out of this experience.

Ron Touchette had a brilliant mind. Ron was also the oddest fellow that Stuart had ever met. Stuart Ellis had met Ron at the fraternity house to which Stuart belonged.

They had begun to hang out occasionally outside the house since they had similar interests in science and music.

Ron was a musician that had written and conducted some “over the top” choral music in the style of Hector Berlioz. He also had the bad habit of coming close to flunking out of school on several occasions. He would get an obsessive interest in a subject and run it into the ground. He would get involved with the subject as a practitioner, unfortunately without the proper credentials. The year before Stuart met Ron, psychology was Ron’s interest and more than a year was spent doing something in a psychiatric hospital. Stuart never learned what Ron did but he would bet money that it sure wasn’t emptying trash.

Ron’s charm knew no bounds—he could talk his way in and out of everything. After his interest in psychology, he developed an obsession with the business of undertaking. He had obtained a job at a local funeral home and was busy greeting mourners as well as injecting formaldehyde into the newly dead. All of this, of course, without the proper authorization.

Stuart knew where this funeral home was located and was long overdue for a visit anyway. Usually he would see Ron somewhere on campus and he wouldn’t go to the funeral home uninvited but he had to talk with him. He was sure he might have some insight into his dream.

It was early evening and Stuart made his way to the old mansion that had now become Forrest and Charterhouse Funeral Home. The old place was the quintessential haunted house, complete with gables and an immense electric lamp hanging on the porch.

Stuart rang the bell and entered. The light was low and the room was full of shadows. The furnishings were 19th century and would have been a perfect setting for a horror movie. The house was silent as a cemetery. He looked for Ron and finally hesitatingly called his name. Ron was busy in the “OR” with a recent “customer” but answered that he would be available shortly and that Stuart was to make himself at home. Stuart always felt ill at ease —-he shouldn’t be here among the dead. It was as if he was in an entirely different dimension. He had the feeling that he could be trapped at any time with no possibility of escape.

When Ron joined him he breathed a sigh of relief. It was always less spooky with another person in the room. “Well, what a surprise,” Ron said as he slid of the surgical gloves and deposited them in the trash.

“I had to talk to you,” Stuart said. “Something has happened and I don’t know what to make of it.”

“Well, it does sound serious—better start at the beginning.”

As Stuart related the details, leaving nothing out, a smile crept over Ron’s face.

“You’re making this up,” Ron remarked. “You’re writing a novel—just like that science fiction short story you tried to write two years ago.”

“No—I swear. Besides that story was garbage—that’s why I gave up any writing—I dreamed this story—from beginning to end. What do you think it means?”

“Well, you know some people think that dreams like that could be premonitions.”

“Yeah, right. Get serious! In a few weeks, a flying saucer is going to land in the middle of Walla Walla and start scooping people up,” Stuart said, “and I am going to be the big hero or the grand villain or whatever.”

“You have to see the big picture,” Ron said. “It could be symbolic. But even if it is closer to reality than we are supposing, it could happen in the future—a long ways in the future. It might be reasonable at that time. And maybe it is symbolic of a more normal reality.”

He left Ron and decided he needed a long walk. Clearly this was going to bother him for a while. He was not a writer—he discovered that two years ago, but it seemed to him that the best thing he could do was to get it down on paper. To objectify it in that way would be a way of distancing himself from the experience. It becomes, then, not his story, but that of an anonymous author whom he had decided to read. Stuart went back to the original sketch he had written earlier and put it into literary form.

The light was blinding—I had never seen light that bright before. It wiped out all of the surrounding woods. All the somber woods in twilight screamed of light. I was drawn into the light in spite of my fear—there were no doors—only the disembodied light that beckoned.

Then it was dark—all I saw were shapes moving in the darkness. They appeared to be floating rather than walking. I was more curious than afraid. They did not appear to be threatening in any way. Their bodies appeared like leather and their eyes were like dark pools of black. There seemed to be no expression yet the eyes seemed to tell me something—something beyond my understanding. Their mouths were triangular and didn’t move but I seemed to hear them speaking to me in spite of it. I was hearing them in my mind and they were explaining that they came from far away.

Stuart was stuck—he couldn’t remember the details of the dream at the point that he realized that they were extraterrestrials. He didn’t remember experiencing fear, but mostly curiosity.

He checked his notes and found that this part of the story was blank. He took a break and checked his schedule for the afternoon. He had time—perhaps if he didn’t try so hard to remember. He decided to walk with no destination in mind. As he passed people whom he didn’t know on the street, the most important part came back to him. He quickly returned to the house to continue writing—seeing strangers had jogged his memory.

I had returned to the real world after my experience and had met a variety of people—some friends and some strangers. Without knowing it I was making a mental contact somehow with them in the form of a certain glance or look. Nothing happened but I knew that somehow I had changed them. I could tell they were changed by an indescribable expression on their face. I thought that what I was doing was evil and I tried to stop it but it was beyond my control. I felt that I was harming people with the ‘look’ and I could not stop it.

There was another blank space to cope with, but Stuart remembered the ending very well when he saw, in his earlier sketch, the mention of the screen.

The aliens had led me before an enormous curved screen. I was told that this screen showed me a view throughout the world. That was hard to grasp but it seemed that some combination of images was presented that allowed me to see cross sections of everything that was happening—as if it were miniaturized but absolutely clear when I focused on a particular area. As the aliens pulled a switch or lever all mankind was dropping to the ground as if dead. I was sure they were dead—all of them except the ones that I had given the ‘look.’ Those survived! I thought I was causing pain to the very people that in the end survived the aliens’ slaughter.

Stuart Ellis had no idea why he was spending time writing this down. He had no more insight now than he did before committing this to paper. Maybe it was all Jungian symbolism– just as Ken said.

As the days passed the vivid images of the dream faded from memory. Life went on as usual and the dream eventually took its place alongside the other dreams—appearing no more or less important than the others—at least for the time being.

Chapter 3—The Discovery
At first, the sightings were easily explained away. A moon reflection or luminous clouds could be responsible. Artificial satellites or even the movement of the international space station were possibilities. But later on, the frequency of mysterious lights and shapes could not be so easily dismissed. Altogether too many people were observing and documenting the strange phenomena and even photographing them. No—they were not to be pushed aside as easily as all that.

At first, Stuart Ellis paid no attention to these reports. He was working as an aerospace engineer and was connected, at this time, to M.I.T. The usual speculations about such things did not interest him in the slightest. But as the sightings became more prevalent, Stuart remembered an article that he had read in a barbershop at the corner of Mass Avenue and Huntington when he was new in Boston, about fifty years ago. The article was about a New Hampshire couple that was abducted by an alien spacecraft in Exeter, N.H. Their experience surfaced through hypnosis and at the time Stuart was intrigued by the incident. It made him aware, at that time, of the dream he had experienced earlier that year and he wondered if there could be any connection.

As time passed and more and more of these incidents were reported, he stopped taking them seriously and assumed some sort of mass hysteria was at the root of the occurrences. He buried himself in his work and decided that his imagination was running away with him. Better to leave all that nonsense to the tabloids.

Eventually the sightings were being reported daily and were causing a stir with the population in general. He remembered his dream of so long ago and couldn’t help but think that there could be a connection to him personally. He remembered how real everything seemed in that dream—how the images had formed an actual story. Gradually the vague images of the dream emerged into focus. He could remember the aliens in his dream as if they were real beings that he had known once upon a time.

As the days passed, he could not get the thought of this dream out of his mind. In addition, the reports of sightings became big news since many of them were associated with New England, especially in Maine and New Hampshire. There was something that he had to do in spite of himself. He arranged some time off from his engineering project and drove to Wells, Maine where many sightings had taken place. How ironic that these sightings, possibly extraterrestrial, would be associated with a town bearing the name of the great British writer who practically invented science fiction.

Stuart had no particular plans. It was almost as if he were more and more drawn to some indescribable goal that was unknown to him All he knew was he had to search out what his connection was to these mysterious sightings. There was a direction that he was drawn to more than the others. When he left the train he bought some food, put it in a knapsack, and made his way to the edge of town. He simply walked into the woods in the direction that he chose using only his intuition.

Stuart had no idea how long he had walked. It could have easily been three hours and he was beginning to get hungry. Suddenly, it appeared in front of him. He was so close to it that he couldn’t see it in proper perspective. It seemed at first a simple clearing in the woods. Then he saw that the trees surrounding the clearing were bent as if an enormous wind had forced them over. Then he saw that the trees were bent at different angles. It took him several minutes to realize that the clearing was in the shape of an enormous circle and the trees had been forced outwards as if a giant wind had originated from the exact center of the clearing.

It didn’t take Stuart long to realize that this could easily be connected to the sightings in the sky. It was as if something had landed in the woods and had, by sheer force, cleared away the surrounding trees and brush. He also realized that anything that would happen would be under cover of darkness. The idea did not appeal to him but there was no question of it. He first had something to eat then prepared to wait for nightfall.

Stuart had dozed for a few hours and it was now dusk. He had not felt comfortable sleeping in the “magic ring,” so he found a relatively comfortable spot about ten yards away from the ring. He felt uneasy about the place—as if “they” would know of his presence there. He had found a little depression amongst the trees with a gentle slope to place his back against. It was getting darker and he realized more and more the utter stupidity of this adventure. Either nothing would happen and it would be a colossal waste of time or something would happen, something not safe, something tremendous and dangerous, and he could be in a whole lot of trouble. And all because of a stupid dream fifty years ago.

Well, it wouldn’t do to stand in this hollow the rest of the evening. He moved out into the ring of trees in order to have better view of the sky. At first he saw the splendor of the setting moon bathing the forest in a sea of golden light. The very branches of the trees were glowing as if a subtle fire burned within the trees themselves. Shortly, the moon set and the sky was full of cold starlight. Then he saw it: a patch of sky to the north that was glowing with a reddish light. There were no towns of any size to warrant that kind of sky-glow. Then, the light changed to brilliant white although it was still a long ways away. Stuart could not contain his curiosity. He walked toward the light hoping to find its source.

Stuart walked for probably an hour or more and it seemed that the source of the light wasn’t any closer. It was much more than curiosity that drew him onward. He did not realize at the time that he was becoming obsessed with this mysterious light in this forest. He only knew that this burning curiosity had a vague connection with his dream. It was if this light somehow owned him and he was required by something or someone to reveal its secret and, therefore, illuminate his dream.

Finally, it seemed that the light had moved overhead and Stuart was gazing into the center of this brilliant celestial fire. At once he saw the source of this fire. It appeared as an oblong piece of glowing metal. He could not tell, however, if it was solid or not—it manifested itself as a projection or an illusion but it pulsated with a light that changed colors in a subtle way. It was no longer possible to describe the exact color of the object.

Then something happened which froze his blood. The object sent a beam of light downwards as if it were an extension of itself and another object appeared at the end of the shaft. This second object was slowly being drawn up to the center of the light. At first Stuart couldn’t tell what this thing was but as his eyes focused on it the object took on the shape of a human. The light was in the shape of a shaft from the ship to the ground and the human, if that’s what it was, was being drawn up like a fish on a hook— up the shaft of light. The human’s head was falling on his breast as if he were asleep or dead. It was truly an eerie sight –it was not a sight Stuart was soon to forget.

Stuart had no time to contemplate his situation because the beam suddenly appeared as a globe of luminous matter all around him— blinding him so he had no longer any sense of up or down. He felt a sense of pressure, almost like wind, but no effects of wind were discerned. It was a force utterly alien to him. He felt as if he were going to be blown away but he remained stationary. Everything was happening so fast there was no time to absorb what was happening to him. Then he saw HIM—a humanoid similar to himself. The head was larger and the eyes were deep black. The lower part of the face was smaller and the mouth was rather triangular. The rest of his body was rather inconsequential—almost as an afterthought on the part of whatever god created it. He seemed to be clothed in some sort of leathery substance. Before Stuart could adequately grasp the implications of what he was seeing, he was rendered speechless when the creature spoke to him in perfect English.

“Well—we meet again, after fifty years. I’m sure that you don’t remember me,” said the humanoid. “I am Kevlin.”

Finally, Stuart pulled himself together and remembered immediately the dream of fifty years ago—the real reason for this obsessive adventure. Even though he hadn’t remembered the name, this alien that called himself Kevlin, was quite prominent in his dream. He was the one who encouraged Stuart to observe what was happening in the screen. The infamous screen that presented the images of the destruction of mankind.

Stuart exclaimed, “ I just witnessed an abduction—- that’s what it was, wasn’t it—-what are you doing to us—why are you here—where are you from?” All the questions in his mind came tumbling out at once with absolutely no form or organization. He felt completely powerless in the alien’s presence and was completely overwhelmed by the experience and, as a result of the trauma and the intensity of the light and radiation, immediately lost consciousness. The world, at that moment, had ceased to exist.

Chapter 4—In The Ship
Stuart Ellis suddenly awoke. He was not sure whether or not a noise woke him because it was silent and dark all around him except for a dim, greenish glow. But he had a distinct memory of his name being pronounced, as if in his head. His consciousness slowly returned as well as his memory, a memory of vague images less than reality but more than a dream.

He remembered being drawn into a ball of light. Was it against his will? Did he make the decision to go into the light? He definitely remembered the light in the woods and his curiosity that drew him toward it. But the closer he approached the more his consciousness became vague and hazy. He knew that he was making a connection with the dream almost fifty years ago, but was this experience that he was having now no more real than the dream?

But it was different now. Things were no longer vague. He seemed to be in some sort of a room with a strange green glow around him. A person called Kevlin had introduced himself; he remembered that. There were questions—then nothing. That was his last memory. Then he suddenly remembered a ship and an abduction. His blood ran cold. He realized he must be in the ship and had been taken aboard by the aliens.

However, he was alone. It was strange that he wasn’t being examined or experimented on. He wasn’t restrained in any way. What could be the reason he was brought aboard the ship? He felt the need for movement. Movement would confirm to him that he was not injured… that he was not dying. Activity was the opposite of infirmity.

There was movement in the air but it wasn’t cold. He stood up and carefully explored his surroundings. The hairs on his arms were electrified as if there were static electricity near him. He wasn’t experiencing a chill, so it seemed that only the electrical energy itself was causing that effect. Then he remembered the theory of antigravity that had been discussed in recent scientific publications. Perhaps these aliens had technology based on these theories that allowed the ship to hover without any outward sign of propulsion. These aliens must use massive amounts of electromagnetic force to accomplish this.

It was clear to Stuart that he was within the ship but it was unclear how he could have escaped the dream-like state that abductees usually experience. Possibly his freedom was some of Kevlin’s manipulation. At any rate, he was free to explore and more importantly to find a means to escape.

However he was also in a position to discover what the voyagers had in mind. This was the reason that he was drawn here in the first place. He wasn’t going to give way to his fears now, not when he was so close to solving the mystery of his dream.

He found that he could walk remarkably easily. The environment in the ship had a gravitational pull less than Earth. It was probably a result of the antigravity field. He felt curiously light-headed with a sense of well-being. His fears gradually left him—he felt that he was in the middle of the greatest adventure of his life. All the mystery of his extraordinary dream so long ago was to result in, dare he call it, an epiphany. How could fear overcome him when he was on the most exciting quest that he could ever have imagined? He had to hold himself back from breaking into a run—to wildly discover everything at once—to finally get to the bottom of what had haunted him most of his life.

He needed to think rationally and calmly. He had to slowly and carefully make a survey of the area, like a detective who keeps all his senses fine-tuned and sharp. He needed to take the opportunity to discover the real intentions of the voyagers slowly and methodically and, above all, to connect this apparent reality to the dream of so long ago.

He found his way along a dim corridor that, in turn, led to a chamber lit by the same greenish light that seemed to pervade the entire ship. The chamber seemed to be a laboratory with large vessels of glass objects set on tables. The vessels contained liquid and something else as well. It appeared to be shapes of organic material—undeveloped organisms either preserved or growing in this dark, secluded laboratory. On closer inspection, he saw the unmistakable shape of a human being—a human growing inside this glass jar. He looked around and found all the others existed in different states of development.

Stuart immediately felt paralyzed. He realized at that moment something that froze his blood. They were growing their own humans. For what reason? To be slaves on some alien planet or to be exhibited in some museum or freak show. His fear took over. He immediately ran from the chamber and fell against the wall because he wasn’t used to the weaker gravity.

He regained his balance and ran down the twisting corridors of the ship—not knowing toward where he was running. Sheer panic had taken over. Then he suddenly stopped. As he turned a corner he came face-to-face with five aliens. They were small—much smaller than he was. Their heads were larger than their bodies –hairless–and two large deep black orbs that were apparently eyes. Their overall color was grey with darker areas on parts of their bodies. They remained immobile—just staring at Stuart. There was no use in panicking—he mustered all the self-control he could and he simply turned around and walked away. The aliens did not follow and Stuart breathed a sigh of relief. If he was a prisoner here why did they not try to seize him? Maybe Kevlin had something to do with their behavior. He needed to think—-just think—put everything in its place. Compartmentalize his thoughts and work out a plan.

He, once again, thought of leaving the ship. He was in a very dangerous position. What if they decided to leave Earth while he was still on the ship. He couldn’t risk that—he must find a means of escape. But, at the same time, he was drawn in to solve this mystery. He was “called” to this—he wasn’t here by accident. He realized that he couldn’t allow his emotions to get the better of him in this extraordinary situation. Stuart realized that it wasn’t rational to suppose that their actions were geared first and foremost to hurt and destroy in spite of his dream. His interpretation could have been faulty. Their reasons, he was sure, made sense to them—their plans were laid out in order to foster some advantage for their own species. It doesn’t mean that they necessarily would have to destroy humans in the process. If that were the case it would have been done already. He reasoned that they appeared to have complete mastery over their technology and would, therefore, be able to help themselves without necessarily harming us.

Stuart realized that he needed to find Kevlin. He was sure, based on his experience with the aliens he saw in the corridor, that Kevlin was one that would be communicative enough with him to answer some of his questions.

So he continued to explore. He found himself in a room with myriads of dials and gauges. Electronics and systems of which he had never dreamed were here in this small room. Could this be a control room of sorts? He wondered if the electromagnetic field that he was experiencing could be controlled from this room. It was certain that he wasn’t going to touch anything to experiment. He also had noticed that the ship seemed to be designed like the inside of a snail shell. As he walked down curved corners he seemed to be winding around in a circle of an ever- diminishing circumference. What would he see when he ultimately reached the center?

Stuart had wandered and explored the ship for perhaps two hours. He was still haunted by the unsettling experience of the biology chamber. His emotional mind was telling him to escape—find a way out. But he was moving into the inner sanctum of the ship—his rational mind knew he needed answers and he was drawn more and more toward what seemed to be the center of the ship. He wondered why he hadn’t seen any aliens after the first encounter with the five. This made him uneasy. Perhaps this was a trap—maybe this was their intention to make him feel safe and then spring who knows what on him. Just as he started to panic again he found a room more brightly lit than the corridor. The room’s light contained a reddish tinge that added to the unsettling feeling Stuart experienced as he entered. In the room were several stationary and official but comfortable chairs that were facing away from him. The room didn’t appear at first to contain anything else until Stuart saw on the far end of the room something that stretched across the wall. It was dark grey and lifeless and the image immediately jumped out at him. He saw it for what it was—it was exactly as in his dream. The curved screen that he so long ago witnessed the murder of hundreds of thousands of people. He knew that he had been responsible—responsible also for the salvation of those, chosen by himself, who escaped death through his own manipulation of fate. But that had been a dream, hadn’t it? —–now he wasn’t so sure.

It was at this moment that Stuart realized the actual connection between his dream and the reality he was now experiencing. His whole life had been leading to this one event. His role in Earth’s survival which, fifty years ago had been no more than a curious fantasy, was, in some inexplicable way, a reality. A reality, however, that had been only somewhat more real than his normal but vivid excursions into the dreamland of his imagination.

There was now no escape. He was going to have to witness once more the execution of who knows how may hundreds of people through that insidious television screen. As he stood immobile before the screen he noticed a faint glow—not green, as in the normal environment of the ship, but a luminous grey light begun to appear in the remote areas of the screen which then became a brilliant but dark blue appearing as a vision of the remotest depths of space. Then the colors changed and images of what looked like Earth appeared—images far and wide of the terrestrial landscape. Stuart was mesmerized by the images and colors—so mesmerized he did not see Kevlin entering the chamber.

Chapter 5—Kevlin Explains
Kevlin was somewhat taller than the other aliens and had an air of confidence that appeared incongruous with Stuart’s brief experience with the other beings. Kevlin looked at Stuart for a few seconds with his deep set and coal black eyes. Finally he said, “With all this ship to explore, I see you didn’t get very far. You knew we were not trying to keep you as a hostage otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to get away as you did. I am sure that fact alone raised innumerable questions.”

Stuart replied, “You abducted me as you have done to countless others—what do you mean—I couldn’t resist being drawn into the ball of light, or whatever that was, in the woods.”

Kevlin drew nearer, “You drew yourself into it—that dream you had was more important than you realized. Your sense of responsibility and guilt drew you here in spite of yourself—humans are often bent on their own destruction and at the same time their own fulfillment of their glorious destiny.” Kevlin went on to explain that they were voyagers and their mission was the conservation of mankind as it originally was supposed to be.

Stuart was angry. He, for one thing, didn’t believe him and since he had just seen the screen and the memory of what he thought was real from the past burned into his inner being as if it had only just happened.

Stuart said, “But my destiny seems to be nothing less than a destruction of countless humans—and for what—so you can have superior control over what ever you are going to do? And all at our expense— and you expect me to help you. Is that my glorious destiny that will eventually result in the end of Man?

“Yes—but you are wrong about us and our purpose here”

Stuart was puzzled—what possibly could be any other purpose than what he suspected to be the case. “Are you saying,” he said, “that all these abductions from the past were not a plan to reinforce your gene pool at our expense—what do we ever get out of it?”

Kevlin said, “What indeed—but you are thinking only of your own species —not of universal life. What about what your species could become in five thousand, ten thousand—a million years?”

Stuart began to shift his feet. He hadn’t thought of that—but what of it—that was just smoke and mirrors. The issue was not the human species. The issue was the future of these voyagers—these aliens from hundreds, perhaps thousands, of light years away. He wasn’t going to be put off by mere theorization. He knew what happened fifty years ago—he saw—he was there. He was responsible and it was ultimately Kevlin’s fault.

“What about that poor woman, “ Stuart replied, “that Whitley Streiber had written about in his book on abductions in the 1980s. She was abducted and underwent ‘experiments.’ She actually got to see her child born—a product of alien and human genes mixed in a most horrible way. The child couldn’t live on Earth because it was not born adapted to terrestrial gravity and air pressure and had to remain on the ship. The woman was only allowed to see her for a few minutes.“

Kevlin motioned for Stuart to sit in one of the chairs and he took one close by. He answered, “It is true we began by biological experiment but we worked eventually on the cellular level to genetically engineer what could be the best of us and you—we weren’t successful. The strands of DNA were not compatible with ours –they would break apart and not make the strands of genetic encoding that was necessary to combine species. Cross-breeding itself wasn’t going to work—we had to experiment on the molecular level to find combinations that would bond in a way that could retain the genetic information” At this point Robur entered the room and took a seat slightly behind them.

“Of course you had trouble,” Stuart said, “how can you expect our species to combine with yours that come from God knows how many thousands of light years away?”

Kevlin moved his small triangular mouth in the closest way that one could interpret as a smile. He looked at Robur—silently inviting him to speak. Robur began to explain, “You would be surprised how close our species could possibly be to one another. Why do you think that we chose you to observe for so many hundreds of years—yes, hundreds and even thousands of years. You don’t think that what the Mayans and the Sumerians and the ancient peoples of Mohenjo-Daro experienced is not connected with our visitations in the 20th century? Why do you think we have been obsessed with you all these centuries—you of all people with your propensity for war and destruction.

“ You don’t understand.” Kevlin said as his smile increased, “YOU are US. We haven’t traveled any distance in space to reach you –our machines have been able to cross dimensions in order to shift ourselves in time. By your years we come from about a million years in your future—well—according to the timeline that now exists in your world.”

The statement hit Stuart like a thunderbolt. He hesitated for a full minute. Robur and Kevlin remained silent.

Finally Stuart said, “But how about my dream that obviously had been connected with what is now happening? Haven’t you somehow manipulated me into being one of your agents in subduing or causing a metamorphosis in humans by that ’look’ that I produced which caused a mental change?”

Kevlin replied, “Even though the dream appeared real to you and, in many respects, it had more reality in it than normal dreams, the dream, as are most dreams, was highly symbolic. You no more had the power to metamorphose other humans than even we had in our advanced stage of development. And we certainly didn’t pull a lever that destroyed half of mankind which had not been changed by your ‘look.’ All of that was nonsense based on the human propensity for a guilty conscience. “

Stuart thought for several moments. Was this a trick to gain his confidence? The dream had been too real—-but what if Kevlin was right. Why would he try to destroy his own ancestors if what he had said was true? With this revelation he could see a “humanness” in Kevlin even if they were separated by a timeline of a million years.

Stuart said, “But Kevlin, why is it necessary to enlarge the gene pool—-What is wrong with your—–our people that this would be necessary?”

“We can no longer operate individually. Yes—- we have evolved and advanced immensely in technology but at an enormous cost. We have developed a social organization —-in some respects far in advance of yours. But our development of mental telepathy, which made possible our social organization, had a price—-we, little by little, lost the means of individual decision-making. We are inferior to you in this one aspect—and it is a major defect. In the abductions which we have carried out we have been obliged to use hypnosis and drugs to control you. We did not have the ability as a group to stand up to one of you with your individual courage and sense of survival. We admire your survival instinct and want to regain it by genetic strengthening.”

Stuart thought about what Kevlin had said. In the mid 20th century Aldous Huxley had cautioned against totalitarian governments—including the ones that could happen by lulling a complacent population by things such as television. He thought about the 50’s and 60’s and the rise of entertainment and the disregard for how their society was being subliminally organized. And now we use electronics in the form of cell phones, smart phones and laptops as a constant distraction giving the individual no time for self-contemplation. Was Huxley right? Are these the very beginnings of what eventually will destroy man as an individual? After all the physical reality of evolution begins with the mental predisposition. A giraffe grows a longer neck only because it needs to forage in more remote and higher places. The “couch potato” syndrome had become a reality in an indolent and passive species that had once taken charge of his existence as he pulled himself out of the Stone Age. Stuart had long thought about the seemingly degradation of man. He had no idea it could have resulted in such terrifying extremes.

Kevlin explained, “Since we haven’t been completely successful in our genetic engineering, we have other means of saving ourselves but it is dangerous. We have been visiting more frequently since 1947. You know the reason for that.”

Stuart shook his head. The date meant nothing to him. Robur glanced at Kevlin with a look of disbelief.

“You had recently used the atomic weapon against your own species,” Kevlin explained. “We felt it was time to intervene. Do you think those close calls that occurred with nuclear missiles were only by divine providence or your own doing? What appeared to be good luck, or whatever, was our intervention. If you had blown yourselves up we wouldn’t even be here. We developed a way of shifting in time. As you know, you being a scientist, matter and antimatter exist but in a very precarious relationship. The speed of light is the barrier that separates the two— volume decreases and mass increases as one approaches the speed of light. Also time slows down as one approaches 186,000 miles per second. We found a way of crossing the light barrier at which point time becomes less rigid and very “slippery.” That is why we have been able to voyage into the past. You may have felt, on this ship, an electromagnetic field resulting in effects on your body. This electromagnetic field is the source of power for an antigravity means of propulsion. It can do much more than that—it can cut across other dimensions —including time. I believe you had an experience with that very phenomenon in a quite primitive form in the 1940’s with the infamous Philadelphia Experiment.”

“In short we are going to change the timeline,” Kevlin said. “This is what we call Plan B and if we change it now, the future of mankind will escape some of those debilitating effects of evolution that I spoke of. Genetic engineering will not be necessary in that case. Now I have spoken enough. I wonder if you would like to see what we have accomplished so far in our work in genetics such as it is”

Stuart said nothing. He wasn’t sure he wanted to. Finally he replied, “I can’t leave here without seeing everything that you are willing to show me—no matter how difficult it is to understand or accept. Yes—-go ahead.”

Robur, Kevlin, and Stuart rose and moved toward the back of the room. A door slid open near them and two voyagers entered with a strange child. The child appeared not to have been more than four years old. Stuart saw immediately that he or she was genetically changed and was neither voyager or 21st century human.

The child was a frail, retiring humanoid —not at all what was apparently desired by the voyagers. The one, who was obviously its mother, was standing close to it in a protective way. She was definitely a 20th century earthling— not a voyager like Stuart originally thought. The mother explained to Stuart that her child could not yet talk and was not able to survive in the earth’s atmosphere. She was obviously distraught and had no idea what she could do for her child. She could not live long in the environment of the voyagers and the child could not live on earth as it was at present. They would have to be separated.

Stuart approached it closer—he could not help looking at the oversized head with scarcely any hair—only wisps as would appear on a very elderly person. The body was more “human” than futuristic mankind with their small but agile physique but the eyes were large and deep black like the voyagers. The child was obviously terrified of him. It let out a howl more like the squeal of an engine than a human. Stuart immediately stopped his approach and its mother took it away.

He was profoundly shaken by the experience and thought that if that was all that the voyagers could accomplish in genetic manipulation they had better be more accomplished physicists if they were going to initiate Plan B in changing the timeline. He had no idea how that would affect the present time that he was in. What if he was no longer “himself” whatever that means? What if he had different memories? How extreme would a timeline shift be?

Stuart knew that Kevlin and the voyagers would have to resort to Plan B—there was no other choice. He had grave concerns even though he didn’t understand all the ramifications of such a procedure.

“Kevlin, what will happen to us if you go ahead with your Plan B? Will we be aware at some point that the ‘change’ had occurred? How will we ever know that something like that had happened?” Stuart looked down at his feet. “Maybe it doesn’t even make any difference.”

Kevlin reassured him saying, “The change that will affect mankind so profoundly will hardly be felt in your time. We will simply nudge time into what might be described as a different channel—-much like the flow of a river. The changes that will occur doing your lifetime and, for that matter, many lifetimes to come will be minimal. But those changes which will multiply itself through the centuries will be crucial in the course of time for a species of human being that can be more in charge of their lives.”

“Now,” Kevlin said, “we have come to the end of our discussion. Robur and I have explained as much as you are able to understand at this point. I am pleased that now you understand that your interpretation of your ‘dream’ was in error and that your memory of it should no longer be a subject of concern. Now it is time for you to leave us.”

And leave he did—Stuart’s return from the ship was abrupt—-too abrupt. It was clear that Kevlin was unwilling or unable to answer any more of Stuart’s questions. He found himself back in Wells with his memory perfectly intact with regards to the circumstances aboard the ship but not in regards to his return to Wells. There was no doubt in Stuart’s mind that the experience was absolutely real—there was no sense of a dreamlike state at all. However it was unnerving to have gaps in his memory. Why would he not remember the circumstances of his return?

The next few days were days of contemplation. Stuart had to file away all that had happened into neat little piles in his brain in order to make sense of the extraordinary events that he had witnessed and the astounding information that he had acquired from Kevlin. He had decided to pay a visit to his old friend, Ken Coleman, who had a clinical psychology practice in Connecticut.

Ken was always happy to see his friend from the past—-they enjoyed reminiscing about the “good old days” in college. This visit, however, was different. First of all, Ken didn’t really believe Stuart. How could he believe him? The story was incredible. Ken was sure that Stuart was not crazy but with a story like that he had to, at least, entertain the thought of hallucinations from drugs.

Ken was fairly sure that Stuart didn’t do LSD or mushrooms and little by little was convinced that Stuart definitely believed what he had experienced. As the details of the adventure unfolded it was difficult to not accept, at least, a part of this fantastic story. Ken began to think—why not—–we are not alone in the universe—that seems logical. But people from the future—-it was hard to get one’s head around that. Ken suggested that Stuart write it up as fiction and not file a report as if it were real. That would be asking for trouble. As far as a change in the timeline was concerned, that was the most incredible part of the story. Ken simply grinned at Stuart and said with his characteristic and disarming simplicity, “Time will tell.”

Stuart agreed, at some point, to write it up as a short novel. He left Hartford where he was visiting Ken and took the bus back to Cambridge. He might as well go back to work at MIT and try to put into perspective an adventure that would scarcely be believed by any sane person.

He did not put his story down on paper for a very long time.

Kevlin and his people had been gone for over ten years. Whether a decision to change the timeline had been reached and the change had been accomplished would never be known for certain. It is assumed that the timeline would have been changed after the events that happened between Kevlin and Stuart since it was not necessary to make a change so early in mankind’s development. Man still had, in Stuart’s present time, the ability for forthright decisions. Of course if anything had been changed while he had actually known Kevlin it would not be evident since his very memory would be changed along with the timeline adjustment.

That being said Stuart had often thought of what the outcome of future man would be. It was clear that the genetic engineering was not going to be successful. The genetic material was, strangely enough, too similar to make the kind of changes that were to be necessary. The negative rather than the positive aspects of the genomes would be prevalent which became obvious as a result of the voyagers’ experiments.

Changing a timeline isn’t as easy as all that. First of all how does one decide how to actually make the change? Just because one wants a thing, doesn’t make it magically happen . Perhaps all kinds of unwanted changes would occur that had nothing to do with what mankind wanted to accomplish. Kevlin and his people could have unwittingly designed the end of human life by a very small but fatal adjustment to the time continuum.

Still, Stuart trusted Kevlin. There was a serious concern for us, them and us… that did not escape Stuart’s notice. Whatever Kevlin and the future race did was going to benefit man’s future in a very gentle way. Also, there were the dreams that Stuart had in the last ten years. As opposed to the dream of sixty years ago the ones of the last ten years were decidedly of a different nature. They began as disturbing dreams about mankind on the brink of some awful disaster. And then they stopped. The dreams, abruptly and suddenly, stopped cold. It was if some unknown occurrence had taken place wiping out all the disturbances in the time continuum. That was it—if one cannot know whether a timeline has been changed perhaps our dreams do not play by the same rules. It is perhaps possible that an old time line can be sensed and compared to the “now.”

And Stuart did have dreams, strange ones that had to do with communication systems and the fact that human beings were becoming addicted to electronics in general. In his dreams, he saw people walking around blindly with electronic devices of entertainment and communication. One needs to communicate directly, face-to-face, with his fellows—that is what keeps an “edge” in communication and the exchange of ideas. No wonder the evolution of Man had developed as Kevlin described. Maybe this was an indication that the timeline had, eventually, been altered. After all, the image of people constantly mesmerized by electronic devices, falling into ditches and running into lampposts was frankly ludicrous. Then Stuart remembered something that Kevlin had told him indicative of the timeline change. Kevlin had said if Stuart noticed a time when a logical progression had altered—if human life was going one way and then abruptly and inexplicably went another direction that would indicate a possible change in the timeline. Stuart had noticed about two years ago a change in attitude in his society. It was subtle and barely noticeable but it did seem a change in people’s attitude toward communication. They were talking to one another more—face-to-face—not using electronics but actually talking and discussing issues. Human beings were not afraid of “confrontation” in the best sense of the word. Could this be the sudden and illogical change that Kevlin spoke of?

All in all. Stuart felt content. There was a growing confidence in the world now and he was sure that it had something to do with the voyagers. All the turmoil that he had felt sixty years ago had melted away. The meeting with the voyagers and especially with Kevlin was an extraordinary relief (obviously) after things were explained. Even at that time, there was the sense of a burden being lifted from his soul. Why was the safety of man such a personal concern? Stuart had no answer to that question, but the contentment that he now felt was certainly not just in his imagination.

So, Stuart did finally write his story. He set it as a work of fiction and even added the security of changing his name. He had taken Ken’s advice. No use in borrowing trouble—no one would have believed a story like that. He even had to remind himself that it wasn’t all the work of his imagination, or a dream! Funny—it had all started as a dream, hadn’t it? Anyway, Stuart was now satisfied that he had happy days to look forward to and a sense of hope for mankind—at least for the time being.

Featured Artwork:
Gerry, Atwell. “Scenic grass against the Sun”. Wikimedia, 25 October 2016,