UnBooks:The Future (But not as we know it)

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The novel The Future (But not as we know it) is also available in paperback.

Chapter 1: Destiny Comes 'a callin'[edit]

It wasn't a particularly warm morning. I might even call it a cold one. But I won’t because that would imply that it is indeed, warm, yet it really isn't. You’re probably imagining a boiling hot summer now- stop it. Stop it now. Forget I said anything. It’s cold, ok?

The small, blasted box that sat in front of me was a transcontinblonki scanner array. I’m not entirely sure why they gave it such a large, silly name. Nor do I care, for the damned object was the reason I was sitting here. Who am I?

I’m James Ryan.

This, in case you hadn’t picked up, is a hero’s name. So I’m probably going to do something extremely awesome in my life. Currently, this wasn’t the case. See, I’m a deep space scanner officer working to discover other life in the universe. I guess, that sounds pretty darn interesting. I’ll get to be the first one to discover other life, I’ll be a hero. Of course you’d think that. No, I spend my days rotting at this desk in this tiny control room in this forsaken white bricked observatory in Antarctica.

Seriously, Antarctica? I suppose it was somebody’s idea of a joke. Damn them all. This job was a joke- I was 99.99999999998% sure that there was absolutely no other life out there. I don’t know about you normal people, but in scientist terms, that’s not much. But I suppose I deserved it, playing the trick on the AC- the Actual Commander. Oh, you hadn’t heard about it?

It was a cold winter morning, as winter mornings usually are. I had the master prank set up- it was our Acceptance Speech, the one all cadets received before we entered the Great Giant Green Fleet of the Human Race, or the GGGFHR, or just the Triple G, or even the Good’ol Fleet, or the G-String, but usually just the Triple G. The commander, the AC, or Actual Commander, or Actual Cu-, er, usually just the AC, was set to talk about our great achievements, or the lack thereof, and I had set a small explosive device underneath the pedestal where he would stand. It was only meant to give him a small surprise. Maybe even send him a few centimetres into the air. For Christ’s sake, it was only a joke!

Apparently there was a slight miscommunication with the twits who provided the charge. I said:

“Only a tad of powder. Not too much. I’d rather not kill the old feller.”

Which apparently came across as:

“Give me three tons of powder, enough to blow the f*ck out of the AC and, hell, let’s go for the entire destruction of Sydney!”

Either way, when the charge went off, the AC didn’t just fly. He flew. Like, really far. This, I must admit, was a strange sight to behold- I couldn’t decide if I was laughing out of control or shocked that my harmless yet ingenious plan had instead atomized the stage and a good portion of the cadets unfortunate enough to sit on the front rows. The AC himself- well, he was asplode.

Hence, I was assigned here. I suppose it was because they couldn’t find anybody else to fit this job- otherwise I would have been executed on the spot. So here I am. Working this boring, pathetic job. All because I annihilated the majority of the year’s cadets. I always knew the Fleet was going to be strict, but not this strict. Obviously I’ve been framed somehow, and one day I’ll find the bastard who did this to me. But, I decided that it would be far more appropriate to work here in this prison that they called a laboratory and bide my time, rather than being a hero and all. Not for now, anyway.

It was this fateful day, however, that things really started to get interesting. It was the day that the tiny green coloured LCD radar screen in front of me began beeping. And it really, really began beeping. Not like, say, the kind of annoying beeping an alarm clock makes. No, this one was the kind that makes your ears ring with pain and causes you to roll around upon the ground screaming in pure agony. Well, you try living in a silent, sealed room for years on end, then having a piercing sound declare war upon your helpless eardrums. I suppose I’m exaggerating, but still, it was pretty darn surprising. After making a wide, sweeping motion to wipe the dust that had been gradually building up on the screen, I could finally see where the beeping sound was coming from. A tiny blip had appeared on the circular screen, slowly pulsing as the Tachteyonki scanner array passed over it. Now, it couldn’t have been another G-String ship. Oh no, none of those flyboys would ever consider flying back to Earth, for it was far too undesirable- you know, the nuclear fallout and all. Oh yeah.

As it turns out, they neglected to mention that they had left the planet in giant space arks until they had left. I guess they didn’t want to shock me into, well, death I suppose. No matter, this strange green blip invading my radar screen had to be reported!

Swivelling around my chair in a sharp fashion you’d probably see in the movies, I made by first mistake. I had recently made a coffee, my sixteenth today I think, and placed it on the bench next to me. Unfortunately, my leg connected with that bench. The coffee went AWOL, before finally reporting on my leg. The wrong way up. I may have danced around a bit after this, my hands clutched firmly around my shiny new burn on my spindly leg. Luckily, nobody could see me, so I ripped by pants off to my underwear and sulked for a good half an hour or so. Finally, I stumbled to the communications console, my eyelids still red from… eh… heroic fluids removal. Feverishly tapping away the controls, I hailed the new Actual Commander’s flagship, the GGGF Really Big. A second passed before another ear shattering beep threatened to turn my eardrums into sunbaked tomatoes. Recovering, I gently placed a microphone set over my head. Another second passed, before a voice emanated from deep with my headphones.

“Hello? Pauls Pizza Place, how can we help you?”

I blinked in puzzlement. This wasn’t the AC. Unless the Triple G had taken up pizza delivery.

“… we still have pizza out there?” is all I could say, though it came out more of a croak than words. Boy, how long had it been since I’d said something to somebody else?

“Oh, go to hell. That poison incident was, well, an accident, and the planet we wiped out wasn’t even that important.” the voice sounded young, and somewhat irritated.

“No, as in-“

“Look, you want a pizza? Fine. We deliver all around the universe. Make your order.”

I considered hanging up, but then I realised it had been sixteen years since my last pizza. And that wasn’t even a good pizza.

“Uh… you still sell Hawaiian?”

“What the hell’s Hawaiian? Look, just take the Transxanian. Seriously, you’re starting to annoy me. Where’s the delivery location?”

“Transxian-whatsit? Uh… you deliver to Earth still?”

There was a slight pause, before a click. I realised they’d hung up on me. Well, that was the last time I’d buy from them. Sighing with disappointment, I redialled the number, noting that I’d pressed the ‘5’ key rather than the ‘2’ key before. As the inbuilt phone began to tick, communicating through the thousands of satellites that the Intersteller Telstra Network consisted of, I swear I could feel the unmistakable tingling of destiny mingling with my soul… then I realised a rabid penguin had attached itself to my arm.

To be continued sometime soonish...