The POCKET UNIVERSE Chronicles

by Tom Schwing NSI, copyright Schwing RC Services

IMPERIUS INTERUPTUS

by Near Sighted Introvert

 

            Flash! Lazarus Long is alive and well and living in New Jersey on a flash drive in my pocket. Now apparently he’s in your pocket too. Whether I wanted him in my first novel or not, (working title “Imperium”), Heinlein’s indomitable heroes and heroines from the best science fiction of the Twentieth Century refuse to “grumble from the grave” simply because of the death of their Author.

            Robert Anson Heinlein passed away on May 8, 1988, (Armstrong Prime). He died peacefully in his morning nap, citing the records of the Heinlein Society  here on Armstrong Prime. According to Lazarus and Deety, I’ve been recruited for the vacancy. But you haven’t been cleared for those hyperlinks yet so watch it Bub! LL. Whether or not I earn my Capital “A” is yet to be decided, the benchmark for that prestigious letter being how many groceries these chronicles will put on my family’s table, and whether or not it allows me to refrain from honest work like welding, rigging, and concrete septic tank manufacturing for awhile longer and leave me to housewife my tribe in style . If all works out I am/will be/was honored to be one of the seconds in a Long line of ‘Near Sighted Introverts’.

            Lazarus advises me that there is a girl NSI in Tycho City on time-line Aldrin whose prolific talents make Stephen King seem stingy by comparison of literary output, and she’s in the running with many of the other Howard Family members for the same job. So! No time like the present to roll up the sleeves, strike a ciggie, and get cracking. It seems there are Universes to be expanded!

 

                                                                                                    PRIMORIS

             In a Pocket Universe the word “Author” gets a capital “A”. Aspiring Authors be warned! WAM stands for “World As Myth”- the idea that a Universe is created simply by being written about. We can’t have our Pocket Universes cluttered with vague characters left hanging in limbo in unfinished stories, as these are singular, and very real, Hells for the pitiable individuals trapped within them. If you’re not shooting for an “A” it may be best to ”Drop that wrench!”, at least for awhile, until you are ready to put a little TLC into the place you are building. I, for one, endeavor to be a caring god with a little “g”; in the tradition of my mentors Heinlein, King ,Lewis (CS not Jerry), and MacDonald.(George not Ronald.)

             “I’m not the musings of some Near Sighted Introvert, I’m not!” says Dejah Thoris Burroughs Carter. I think it was Deety. If not I’m sure someone can straighten me out at the next Foundation assembly, as by the time of Robert’s passing many Howards are already aware of WAM theory. Robert himself made the leap through the Dynamic Continuity barrier in “Sunset”, though not in the bombastic in-your-face style of our locally revered Master of Dynamic Continuity, Stephen King, in his Dark Tower series and other work. Robert managed to gather the required inertia without getting himself run over by a truck first!

            Since Heinlein’s death, I’ve been in literary mourning, rereading my paperback RAH collection for the umpteenth time, and going back to the early pulp stuff, motivated by the fact that if the fountain had been shut off it might be a good idea to see how much was already in the bucket, if maybe I had missed something important. My Heinlein database is extensive, everything from Life-Line and  Have Space Suit-Will Travel to “Sail Beyond the Sunset.” I’m missing some of my original collection, having lost my hard copies of Number of the Beast and Time Enough For Love when the box they were in was mistakenly placed out on Quakerbridge Road for one of my wife (PhD Information Technology) Dr. Robin’s yard sales last summer. They were carried off by a pair of red-heads for half a buck each never to be seen again. Hmmm!LL. The early pulp and young adult/teen stuff from the 40’s and 50’s, see Expanded Universe, should not be disregarded by any avid Heinlein follower. What I like to think of as RAH’s “Boy Scout phase” are the archives where can be found the seeds of incredible themes; like planets rotating 90 degrees from everything else and ending up in a new Universe just 90 degrees away, and of course Methuselah’s Children which is the first published appearance of the Howard Family. Robert never abandoned a character to oblivion it seems. Dr.Pinero appears in Heinlein’s first story Lifeline, and is still appearing in “Sail Beyond the Sunset”. I think the old death date dealing Hugo Pinero may hold a secret or two still, concerning the longevity of one Woodrow Wilson Smith. And just what did drive Administrator Ford to a psychotic break, that only long months of cold sleep could cure? What did Lazarus uncover on his excursions to the time of the Crucifixion? Come to think of it why does Lazarus seem to shy away from anything leaning toward the spiritual side; for example he is nowhere to be found in Job:A Comedy of Justice, yet he manages to burst through just about everywhere else from Stranger in a Strange Land onward.

Forget about it, Bub, we ain’t going there! LL.

 

We’ll see about that Lazarus. TS

 

            I found RAH, or he found me, at depths exceeding 400 feet, while serving as a young missile technician in the US Navy. RAH was “on-patrol reading” for my second 72 day patrol with the Blue Crew aboard  SSBN 657, USS Francis Scott Key(razor blades now). Good old FSK was the first submarine to launch a Trident missile when the Navy began to upgrade from the Poseidon/Polaris program circa 1978-1983. Our 16 spanking new C4 Trident missiles were the lethal prototypes of the D5 Tridents which today cruise the oceans in Ohio class or better ships, in even more Apocalyptic batches of 24 each. We had the honor of launching four Operational Test shots off of Cocoa Beach Florida, doing our part to panic the Soviet Union into spending themselves bankrupt in the Cold War arms race as they tried in vain to keep up with our technical superiority. Now that’s a way to win a war, without ever firing a live shot. Thank God it never went to DEFCON 1, as who knows where nuclear warheads built by godless alcoholics oppressed under the whip of a Communist regime are going to end up once launched.

             I’d spent the first patrol earning my dolphins under the constant imperia of “Get Qualified!” Learning the boat’s systems valve by valve, standing watches and getting signed off, roaming the sub with my constant companion the ship’s piping tab, learning damage control and immediate action, took all of my available off-watch time, as I had determined to earn the coveted silver dolphins in one patrol. Once those dolphins are earned though (and subsequently tacked on by a punch to the chest from every dolphin wearing member of the crew), a submariner finds himself with plenty of spare time on his hands. Thanks to enlightened shipmate MT2 Terry George, I ended up jumping sideways into Heinlein’s World As Myth universes with that borrowed (from Terry) copy of Number of the Beast. The technical facts about gyroscopic precession I still had fresh on top of the brain, having just graduated from the Trident C4 missile school and Polaris Electronics training, and all that freshly acquired knowledge about inertial navigation and the magic that is a gyro meshed so easily with Heinlein’s space-time travel device that I was thoroughly hooked. Mix all that up with erotic overtones, women in their skin, free love, and Jubal Harshaw’s lifestyle and a horny young sailor doesn’t stand a chance. I’ve been happily grokking ever since.

 

                             12.7.2009, Armstrong Prime Time

 

             I’d  put one word in front of another and had finally gotten past a 30 year writer’s block to land my interview. The funny thing is I had set out to warm up the keyboard on my loyal Dell with a fluffy C.S. Lewis-ish Christian fantasy for my daughter and her Anime’ obsessed peers. I was a bit taken aback by Long’s first question. Certainly not what I intend to ask my Author when we at last meet. But more about that later.

 

            I’m refraining from the temptation of the Big Delete, for much of what follows can be a confusing wade through the interrupted prose of what was supposed to be my first story, and the interruptions come from some pretty weird voices, and as usual, they all seem to be critics. My manuscript seems to be picking up italic voices that I don’t remember writing. Maybe I’m on the down leg end of a time loop.

 

About your copy of this manuscript: if the byline reads, by A Near Sighted Introvert and  your personal first man on the moon was either Neil Armstrong, Leslie Lecroix, Buzz Aldrin, or Barney Fife, you’ve probably (but not certainly) got the appropriate copy. If you find you don’t recognize any of the individuals existent on this flash drive than you’ve either spent the twentieth century in a cave, weren’t born yet, or you live on a timeline so exotically different from Armstrong Prime that there is no ready explanation as to how this copy came to be in your hands. If your first man on the moon is Elvis or Icarus, or you have no men, nor a moon to land them on, we’d like to hear from you! Could be good for circulation.

 

            Bony thumbs hook into a fat shiny black leather gun belt as the bulgy eyed deputy leans back past ramrod straight, hitches his britches self-importantly, licks those Mr. Limpett lips, snorts through one nostril,  and prepares to give Otis and Gomer or anyone else who will give him the time of day a lecture. The deputy is in his glory, all suited up and ready for inspection sir, in his parade day, state trooper-wanna-be dress blues, complete with outrageous Smokey Bear hat. “Don’t wear my hat Ange… I hate it when other people wear my hat.”

 He got that from his mother, who was the same way about hats, don’t you know?

Deputy’s Note-Now hear this! We’ve fouuuuunnd… that text changes to italics may occur spontaaaaaneously after time excursion edits and additions to the text are inserted by certain back-looping individuals, said individuals of whom we are tracking rrrRIGHT now, and that’s direct from the Mother Thing, and sheee  got it from the 3 Galaxies, and that particular police Force is just a little bit higher than yer local FBI. See that triangle with the spirals on my shoulder here? They don’t just hand these out in a cereal box you know! That’s where your G-Men come from these days. That is all. Roger, over and out.”

 

            Angelus 12.6.2009 V1:The Mighty Archangel Angelus descended from the Big Canvas that is Heaven to All beings, and began his free-fall toward the current High Point Terra, generally moving along the infinite length of the Spiritus Highway known to some of you as Limbo, others as Purgatory. Down he plunged, to the place an Armstrong physicist would label the 11th dimension early in this 21rst century.

 

 

            Sera waited for him below on soaring mountaintop, white wings folded, gracefully patient. Soon she would be his earthly half again. “Why the feathery intro?” Sera prays, "Soaring mountaintop? What wings? Beloved Author, it smells like concrete and urine down here! And I think I’m waking on the roof of the Empire State Building! You want to snuff whatever it is that you’re puffing, and take charge here!"

 

            Perception stirred in the ancient Archangel, than kicked in like an eighteen wheeler popping its clutch in granny gear, and he lurched into the clockwork thud, thud, tick-tocking pulse of Time in a Universe. His spiritual muscles stretched and flexed with new Power of his own, as he synchronized his existence with his surroundings. He felt the soul-searing pain of separation from the Three of Him that is mighty, mighty God.

We’ve been there, and done that before Angelbaby, keep coming to me, I’ve missed you terribly.

The Descension process included a complementary joy. It was like a Christmas Morning nowness of finding himself alive, existing in time again, and aware, and traveling the Spiritus highway, and not wanting, for the moment, to be anywhere else in the Universe. This joy was spiced by the delicious anticipation of Union with Sera below. He rejoiced in his new being.

 

Hang on folks, I’m not sure we’ve got the right guy hear! What is all this belly button fluff? LL 

 

A song bombarded his consciousness, familiar and a favorite, although he was hearing it for the first time in his new awareness. He reveled in the licks of Welcome to the Eleventh Dimension, played in perfect improv style by the Heavenly Wilburys. Roughly similar and sung in the cadence of “Revolution”, notes penned and played long ago, by one of the Wilbury members himself. A simple popular tune from way back when they were dazzling the Earth bound masses with only feeble man-made guitars and Earthbound acoustics. Imagine what Harrison and Hendricks, Lennon and Holly are doing with instruments forged in collaboration with Stradivarius, Gibson and Les Paul, backed up by drums skinned by a Neanderthal shaman who’s been perfecting said drum-making art for 100,000 years, with support vocals and instrumentals by the best of  300 thousand or so generations of Musical Races from Unfallen Places! Wonderful. He’s a poet and don’t know it. LL. Is old Asimov still around?

 

 

So you say you want a new dimension…whoa oh whoa ho!

Well you ain’t the only one!

Not too crazy ‘bout your new Descension…whoa ho whoa ho!

But you don’t want to miss the fun!

 

Angelus allowed the flow of the Highway to sweep him along. The Carpenter moved among them, laughing and hugging, and loving or lugging, shepherding his saved ones toward Home.  He was Jesus, the Gentle Hippy Savior to many of this latest crop of Christian ascenders…and so he didn’t disappoint his sheep, ambling among them, swinging them to his breast with his massive Carpenter’s strength for their first Divine hug, their first head-scruffing and “well done “, loving them like small children.

ANGELUS! Are you coming down or are you going to leave me here to freeze while you God-watch for your own amusement! Circa 200 AM is our D-Day Angelbaby, Sera tells him. That’s today! And today is two hundred years After Terran Moon-landing, which is the Universal Calendar Benchmark for dynamic continual navigation among the Terran time-lines without getting into Authorian sorting algorithms and WorldMyth sub designations. What I’m trying to say is that I’m oriented and I know where-when we are on the Highway. You better soak this up while you can Honey! I’m losing my intuitive link, and it’s getting a bit scary down here. I’m in anime now, but dear I don’t have any pants on! And it’s cold! And I’m not sure, but I think I smell monkey! And burned castor oil. I don’t know what kind of near sighted introvert is running this here show but I think he might be a pervert! Stop ogling amongst the Seen and Unseen and get down here!

   Angelus watched with supreme satisfaction as wolfish priests and shamans were ejected by the Carpenter. The loving Hippy was gone, Yeshua now appeared more like Thor with his Hammer, striking evil imposters from the fold as they screamed “Lord, Lord!”, only to be met and led away by their personal demons toward the Great Left Edge. And yes there were millstones around scoundrel necks just as he’d promised! He didn’t just give his word, Yeshua was the Word! Go God! “All priests and shamans should be considered guilty until proven innocent” Never forget that His Infinite Justice goes hand in hand with his Infinite Mercy.

Uh, Angelus? Babydoll? This is Sera hear! I seem to have resolved in anime smack in the middle of a twentieth century movie legend. While you bounce around on God’s lap up there, I’m watching a giant smelly ape swat Sopwith Camels with one hand. Oh, and did I mention that I’m sans pants or skirt in NY and observing from the middle of a giant monkey fist! (NSI note-This Legend is such a mess now, every remake poor Fay loses more of her clothing…and come to notice that Fay Wray isn’t even the heroine’s name in any of  the movies either. But this happens more often than not. It is not the universe as Authored that endures, but the one that is read, watched, rewritten, passed on and observed by the Great Mass Consciousness that continually lives on in the minds of its Observers, errors and all.)

 

 

To His holy Jewish ascenders he was familiar Rabbi Yeshua, and you know what? He saved them too! Welcoming them into the fold and delighting in their surprise to be existing AD(after death) at all, laughing with the supreme relief as they at last recognized that it was He all along who had blessed and protected them and hammered them into shape over the ages since Moses. Muslim men ran to meet 72 Virgins. And they were true Virgins from the Unfallen Races, not 72 holy hags that no one on Earth had wanted to …er ,desired… anyway! Those particular hags are reserved for suicide bombers, frigid females with hymens like steel hardened concrete and faces like scalded cats. Hey, who said that!

Hindus found Nirvanas, bypassing the chaos-to-order confusion of the Great Masses sorting themselves out. These holy souls rocketed themselves directly over the Left Edge of the Big Canvas at one microsecond AD, dis-incorporating souls streaking beautiful luminous trails like comets, leaving their permanent marks on the Canvas as their final contribution to it, the final stroke after thousands of the life stories they’d etched with their endless reincarnations. They were like the worker bees of the Father. Native Americans soared like Eagles to their Great Spirit, Who had ready for them a planet of their own, in a timeline where Columbus and anyone else who’d ventured to American shores had taken an ass-kicking, and an unblemished Earth was their’s for the stewarding. They were the Meek who inherited an Earth. ANGELUS! Are you really sitting in the lotus position clapping your hands like the World’s mightiest baby? Sera hung on to King Kong’s clenching index finger and watched as another Sopwith Camel bounced down the side of the Empire State Building leaving a fiery trail of debris.

 The Sorting of Souls had been in process since Adam’s death, yet not one soul’s final destiny had yet been fulfilled, even Adam and Eve, and all their corollary counterparts on the infinite time lines of the fallen races. It would be eternities until most of the Great Majority of AD souls made any observable progress along the Spiritus Highway. They sorted either to the Left Edge as insignificant specks, implosions of self-will run amok, or to the Center if they were tame enough to be housebroken for Heaven. Would you bring a wild snapping dog into your perfect house? Saints were surprised when they went directly to the right hand of the Father, not being aware that they were indeed saints, being the bearers of saintly humility. In the mean time the unsainted would be used and abused by the Spiritus realm, those with the intuitive knowledge to assert true Will Power. As Angelus moved closer to Highpoint he became aware of the conversations between the Souls. The stakes were higher than they’d ever been at this dawn of Imperium, and the gods and demons were determined to make their final marks on the Canvas.

 

            Angelus had ascended to the Big 3 quite “early” in Creation, and he’d endured this unavoidable lance many times before, yet was always stunned by its intensity. Free-falling from Heaven is still a fall, free-willed or not. His heart came alive with compassion, in empathy with Lucifer and his misguided minions, condemning themselves to Pride, and suffering the consequences of the first ancient Imperium. He had been there in battle, and there had been nobility on both sides as the lost ones were tossed out of Heaven. Joy burst in him too, as he realized he was being tempered and blessed to carry out a most glorious Imperium. No floods or Apocalypses this time around, he was sure. In this Imperium many veils would be lifted. A Great Contraction of time and space was about to begin. He knew this intuitively, it was part of his angelic being. He decided to carry out his Imperia immediately. Angelus curled up into a comfortable fetal position and resolved himself to carry out his most important order. His fall was halted and he perched on a new blue cloud and did his job. Angelus watched.

 

December 5, 2009, Timeline Armstrong Prime.

 

            “HANDS OFF THAT KEYBOARD!” All thoughts of  the somewhat goofy Angelus flew from my mind when I turned to see the lanky red-headed man in full kilt and glory, parked un-modestly open-legged in my spare office chair. I was shocked but not surprised. As a well read traveler of Heinlein’s universe(s) I was thoroughly familiar with his pushy antics, using his vast life experience to manipulate his universe and crashing into others where he was neither needed nor welcome in a constant quest to just live on. I’d been looking forward to this for 30 years.

            “Say Bub, can I bum one of those Camels?” Lazarus Long reached for my Camel pack without waiting for my permission and helped himself. I flicked a Bic lighter for him after watching him wave the cigarette in the air in a futile attempt to get the butt to self ignite.

   “Don’t you guys on Armstrong have any of the standard amenities yet?”, he rumbled.

He puffed deeply, filling the office with blue smoke. “No lunar base a full 30 years after first touchdown! Not even rolling roads or flying cars. I make a motion that we all bounce over to Aldrin Prime where they get things done.”

“Well, there is Viagra”, I defended, somewhat lamely. “And GPS is  pretty cool.” We were still squarely locked in the Crazy Years here on Armstrong Prime, with an affirmative action community organizer for a president, and Bread and Circus politicians pandering to an ever goofier minority of politically correct idiots. And how did Lazarus know about Aldrin Prime? That was my thing, wasn’t it?

            I fired up Camel filter number 23 of the day myself and together we made a blue cloud that Angelus would fade away forever in. He’d rubbed me the wrong way in the first thousand words of his existence anyway, the big vague pompous Archangel. But not that hot little number Sera, The bottomless Fay Wray stand-in was spun up and on her way. She’d had the good sense to make a god-call to her Author early on, and found her muse’s voice to me. Angelus is too content in his Limbo, maybe even spiritually retarded, sad to say. So let him float where he is for now, content to follow Jesus around like a puppy and watch things unfold. But he’s there and watching from atop a new blue cloud of Camel smoke now. This NSI deems it a necessary measure that all matters must be observed in order to, well, to be. Angelus is our silent observer, insurance against the Unread Myth Laws of WAM, laws enforced stringently by 3GPD that can create some real Hells when broken. This NSI’s babies are (ought to be)safe even if this yarn turns out to be a dud.

 

 “We don’t know if we can trust you concerning our women-folk, Bub!”

At first I thought Lazarus was referring to my somewhat randy nature concerning the fairer sex, and my intentions toward the luscious Howard Family beauties he was known to consort with. I suspected that maybe he was worried that they would all be relegated into a tawdry soft pornographic existence, followed by oblivion.  But I was mistaken.

            “If I join your little conspiracy how do I know I won’t be stuck in some celibate altar boy version of a world, one where nobody ever takes their pants off? I did my time in the 40’s and 50’s Pal, and I refuse to ramble around in a world that has plenty of nubile girls but only implied penises for the heroes!” I was pleasantly surprised, so I was feeling generous. Abracadabra.

            “Woody, check under your kilt. I think you’ll find that you’ve been amply nick-named”, I reassured the old goat. He leaned back and lifted that plaid flap. “Yowsa! Boss, that’s very generous of you.” His attitude changed immediately as he considered the possibilities of existence under my keystrokes. He’d called me “boss”, definitely a step up from “bub” or “pal”. After observing his new enhanced manhood of Milton Berle- like proportions, old Lazarus almost became amiable. What healthy, red-blooded man wouldn’t? The gift that keeps on giving.

“Just don’t spend all your spare time shtooping  your mother with it, Corporal Bronson.”, I remarked to my kindred soul, who gave me a sly wink in return.

             “I wouldn’t have asked but after reading that holy rolling Angelus dreck you just banged out…I don’t want to sign on with a Nehemiah Scudder type. Besides you know how long it took us to whip Robert into shape? The dreary days of Methuselah’s Children are way in the past in our duration and we’ve no interest in romping around some sterile Flash Gordon existence again. You catch my drift TS?”

            “Drift caught Woody. So how are Deety, and Laz and Lor, and Mama Maureen anyway?” I queried as I squashed out my hot-boxed Camel. When your favorite fictional hero breaks the Dynamic Continuity Barrier in your office you’ll smoke faster too. The Heinlein women have been deliciously haunting my fantasies since my Navy days in the early 1980’s when a shipmate had tossed me his copy of ”The Number of the Beast”. Thanks Terry G., wherever you are!

 

 “Does Deety still have those phenomenal nipple bursts when she’s happy? “ I asked him. Lazarus replied with 2 words.

“Gay Bounce!”

 

 

Chapter 2 : Lazarus and the Rolling Stone

 

“Why don’t you see for yourself?” purred Deety. Dejah Thoris Burroughs Carter. I felt her presence before I saw her, a gentle brush of soft aureoles and firm yet flexing nipples caressed my neck and electrified the hairs back there as she folded her arms around me at my keyboard. “Oh Lazarus, I like him, I vote yes for Anton!” Well that’s great girl, but I’m not Anton.” Decided to toss that pseudonym yesterday, I thought to myself.

             “Apparently you do girl! Now button up your blouse and behave yourself! Your getting the new boss all worked up and we don’t have time for an elaborate orgy scenario just now.”

That was from Lazarus, not yours truly. Doc Robin just nodded off early again tonight, I’m all for orgies.

            Deety complied, but came around from back of my chair and curled up in my lap, giggling as the swivel chair swayed back with her added weight, delighting me, as she had buttoned all her buttons except for the top one, the important one, and now all those delectable buttons were in my face. She smelled of soap and water and fresh girl, under a Catholic school girl’s uniform of which no nun in any universe would ever approve. I noticed that it matched Woody’s kilt in pattern, but its colors were anything but parochial. Aureole pink is the description that comes to mind, overlaid with what? Contrasting lavender? Maybe not. I’ve learned to rely on the wife and daughter or my gay friends when it comes to labeling girly colors. I counted myself lucky, in any case, as BH’s girls tended toward wearing nothing but skin as they lived on and developed, no pun intended. I don’t have in mind another rehash of “Have Space Suit-Will Travel” but I don’t want my tome to degrade into a debauched love fest by having all the Heinlein girls pop in bare-assed in the first interview. Hey, I’m only human. Jubal Harshaw is my hero, but we can’t build a world just to sit around Jubal’s pool can we?  

            Then I remembered Zeb Carter. Big bad Zeb Carter could be formidable if he was in protect Dejah Thoris mode. “Uh, Deety, what would Zebadiah say if he saw us like this?”

            She gave me a daughterly peck on the cheek and replied, ”He’d say,’ What have you got in mind Boss?” I rearranged Deety’s nubile loveliness in my lap so as to peer past a fragrant earlobe in order to see how Lazarus was responding. He had an enigmatic expression on his face, one bushy eyebrow raised high above slightly squinting eyes under that shock of red hair. At that moment he reminded me of Clint Eastwood in a Dirty Harry movie, good guy to have around, but a bit like having a live hand grenade in the room with you. This uneasiness is even more acute when you’ve got one of his female  kinfolk giving you a not so subtle lap dance in his presence. I need not have worried. Lazarus was used to the cultural nuances of Boondock females, whereas I was still overcoming a mid twentieth century Catholic education, not to mention a fiery redheaded wife of my own in Dr. Robin, who takes pride in being the “scariest bitch you ever want to meet” when it comes to rival females.

 

“The mission you’re thinking of is classified, Bub. I’m not without resources, Dora just checked in with the title of this chapter. Gay Deceiver is looping back to your rewrites about every ten of our seconds and she’s keeping all of us posted. ”

            Uh-oh. I was back to “Bub” again. Tough toe-nails for Lazarus. Like my predecessor I needed to put some groceries on the table and get a mortgage paid. Forward march and send the royalty check.

 

            “Lazarus, RAH sent you on that mission originally, but all you ever did was grouse about not being able to find a radical young rabbi amongst the plethora of crucifixions you observed.” There! It was out, on the table. For those of you who honor Elvis as your first man on the moon, the chronicles of Long and company, (NSI Heinlein/Armstrong Prime) make numerous references to Lazarus’ time jumps to the first century, ostensibly on a quest to meet, or at least find Jesus Christ. Woody claims that the missions were abysmal failures.

            “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.” the kilted one grumbled, and crossed his arms over his chest, and grunted negatively when I offered him another Camel. Instead he reached under a fold in his kilt and withdrew one of his own smokes, which this time did self-ignite when he waved it in the air. I took this as a good omen. I was wrong. “If you’re going to be effective at this WAM job, Tom my boy, there are a few things you need to get straight right now son, and one of them is that there are barriers which can be broken and Partitions which are there for a reason. You don’t romp around haphazardly in a universe with a Yahweh in charge. Or even a Nehemiah Scudder, for that matter. Especially if you’ve got a wife and kids.”

            “So you’re not an atheist after all? Who would have guessed that the champion of lip service to whatever local church happens to be handy, would be an actual God-fearing man?” , I remarked, trying to provoke him. At that moment Deety gave me a peck on the cheek and backed toward the office door and went through it, closing it behind her. I’ll never get used to Deety leaving a room without being mildly disappointed at her departure.

            “Like Jubal says, pal, ‘Have you ever considered that God may be a committee?”, retorted Lazarus. He brushed back some of the red hair from his ear, and frowned. For the first time I noticed what looked to be an ocular implant tucked behind his left ear. “Besides, I know what you’ve got stuck in your craw kid, and you’re way off-base. I give you my solemn word that I did not cause the Resurrection.”

            “So you’re a mind reader now?”. Jeeze! He had hit the nail right on the head. “You mean you didn’t cause the Resurrection yet because I haven’t written the story yet!”

            Lazarus laughed aloud, leaning forward in his chair, hands over bare fuzzy red knees, and just guffawed. “So what are you boy, about 39 or 40?”

“Actually I’m pushing 50.” , I replied, a bit indignantly, but flattered at the same time.

            “ A mere child! Son as you get older and wiser maybe you’ll actually figure out who is working for who around here. Say, have you got any coffee or Coke in the kitchen? Let’s go get some, I could use a little boost.” Lazarus rose from the chair and stretched luxuriously. The office door cracked open again and I anticipated Deety’s return, only to find myself surprised by the appearance of a small cat. Pixel? Or that other cat who was always looking for the Door into Summer? In either case how had she gotten past Junior and my other dogs? They weren’t cat killers, to be sure, but all four are rescued dogs who tend to be a little protective and turfy once they find their “ forever home” under my roof. A cat in the hallway at the top of the stairs where Junior stood guard would not go unannounced, and Blue has a bark that can be heard in the next county. That’s when the hairs on my neck stood up again, and it wasn’t Deety’s fault this time. I moved toward the office door and peeked out.

            My “office” door opened to a beautiful view of Earth, just in time to watch the planet diminish to the size of a ping-pong ball. Lazarus gave me a shove from behind, somebody stuck a cat in my arms, and two redheads grasped my elbows from either side. That’s when I fainted. Just before I blacked out I remember thinking, “Wow…it’s dejavu all over again.”