I’m inside the capsule. I have only two controls. A Jump button which allows me to exit any given situation, and a signal button that requests a return to home base. They wish me well. There’s no need to be strapped in, but I fasten the belt anyway. Taking a breath, I hit JUMP. Within two seconds, a low frequency electric thrum is felt, and blackness descends over me like a hood.
This is unexpected, and I’m alarmed. But so is everything on this excursion. The thrumming grows louder, gains in frequency, then stops. Complete silence, then almost blinding light. The light of day. What I see are the dreary remains of a forest, all beige and grey deadwood leaning this way and that. Central to the scene is a narrow stream, over which a teenage girl is squatting to pee. Her long nightgown is soiled, stained, soaked. She has her head down, and pees through the gown. The stream, in the full sunlight, is multicoloured, as if fed from a fluorescent paint factory. She straightens up, stands oddly. She is missing a foot. I am disturbed by her face. She has a maniacal grin, and blue eyes without whites. She spreads her arms, upturns her face, and lets out a howl of utter misery and desolation. I cannot help. She cannot see me…..JUMP.
I am on a green plateau far above a wide lowland. It is twilight. The scene has an aspect of ancientness. In the land below me, I see many many small fires being lit (campfires of an army?) As I watch, there are more and more, in the hundreds or thousands. Twilight deepens. Along the faint line of the horizon, I see black shapes approaching in the sky. From my point of view, they are triangles flying in formation, each with faint dotted lights on its underside. They are closer now, almost over the encampment below me, and they move more slowly. They begin to tumble, but do not lose their position relative to one another. I think of dice being rolled in very slow motion, and I see that they are not triangles, but pyramids. They have ceased their forward progress over the valley, and I now hear a growing swell of adulation or celebration from the throngs around the fires. This scene has held me enthralled, but I grow anxious about this first trial of our theories. JUMP….
Twilight once again. I am on the edge of a dusty dirt road. Dozens of people (prisoners?) are being led naked by black robed figures with electric prods. The road ends abruptly in a drop off to a large pit, from which smoke or fumes is rising. There are cries and moans from the people. One of them breaks ranks with the group. He makes a run for it, coming in my direction. Several of the black figures are still standing in the roadway, and, with one stroke, one of them cuts him in half with a beam from the prod. I hear and feel the thumps as the body lands. I think perhaps he was the lucky one.
I CALL FOR HOME.
The thrum begins anew, and the hood of darkness descends. In no time, I am back in the brightness of our shop. Tom and Jerry approach me with looks of anticipation, but I am quite dazed and cannot answer questions right away. Tom walks over to the monkey’s cage, and brings him out. I am still sitting in the machine, but preparing to stand up. Tom says “Rod, you said there was something a little different about our little guy here. Can you tell what it is?” I think back, and recall that Mickey the Monkey, whom we had rescued from a bad environment, had been missing part of a paw and also had an injury to one of his eyes. Mickey now had the same injuries, but they were reversed, left to right.
They do not ask me about my trip, but glance covertly at one another. I notice the sun coming through the small curtained window is a shade of blue, as if shone through a lens filter. They move toward me, and Jerry says You’re not Rod……….JUMP.