Logans Run ; The Every Where Machine By Chip Bell
The early morning sun slanted across the creosote flat Logan sat on a flat boulder next to the solar car scanning a small lap top style computer he had removed from a slot in the dash. He had a map up on the screen studying the workings of a navigation program with all his heart. On the other side of the car Rem poured the last of a jug of warm water over Jessicas head and handed her a towel. She toweled off and Rem went to retrieve one of her dresses from the preparation cabinet behind the rear seat. Rem handed the garment to Jessica and she pulled it on. Rem came leaned climbed back into the car and returned with a folded black uniform of some sort. This was stuck in the back of the preparation cabinet I never noticed it there, It must be one of the uniforms for the people who used the car. Oh lets see Rem. Jessica hardly unfolded the stretchy black uniform. It was a form fitting stretch affair with a mint green turtle neck sewn to a black long sleeve shirt. The familiar insignia from the side of the car graced one shoulder. Jessica took off her dress and pulled on the uniform. How do I look? Nice said Rem, very .. Ah, formal and dignified.
Jessica hurried around the car to Logans side, curious to see what he would think of her new outfit. Logan. Yes? Look what Rem found Logan. Just a minut Jessica I have to figure this out real quick. Logan moved his hand over the screen and with his finger, dragged an icon across the screen to the lower right corner, and looked up to see what Rem had found. He stopped, startled at first, Who on earth was this?, yet he knew it was Jessica, The fog cleared rapidly and he realized Rem had found some sort of Uniform in the car. He was speechless. Jessica was pretty , he knew that he knew how she affected him knew the strange deep feeling that enveloped him from the inside out, how happy she made him, now he saw a new side of her. Her usual clothing made her look beautiful, sensual but this was different. She looked older some how, sharp, dignified, powerful. He realized his heart was racing. He couldnt take his eyes off her. You look, different, Iv never seen you like this before. She approached him. And stared into his eyes. He just stared at her. She smiled and gently took his head in her hands, tilting it to the left allowing her lips to reach his neck. She kissed his neck softly and nuzzled him kissing up to his jaw. Logan half moaned half sighed softly and fell limply against her. She guided him back to the flat boulder and sat next to him, kissing his lips and throat. A few minutes later she noticed the blank look in his eyes, Logan? Yes? The voice sounded far off some how. She had seen reactions like this back in the city of domes when people were under the influence of certain drugs. He was in some kind of trance not question of it. Logan? She shook him a little. Logan? The thought occurred to her that he might not snap out of it. What have I done? She shook him again. Wha..? What is it? Are you ok?
Yes, I think so a little shiver shook him and he looked up at her. Oh wow, what happened? Ha ha Jessica laughed, Id better take this thing off. Logan held his head in his hands and took a deep breath to clear his head. Jessica went around the other side of the car where Rem was leaning against the door deep in thought. He looked at her quizzically. Jessica did a little wiggle and snaped her fingers down by her hips. Rem furrowed his eye brows and frowned. As Jessica picked up her dress and started climbing out of the uniform. You better put this away Rem, Its dangerous, she laughed. Rem folded the uniform and put it back into the preparation cabinet where it would be cleaned and mended molecule by molecule at the hands of trillions of tiny machines.
To the east of the wide creosote flat rose a ridge of low mountains baked brown by the sun, Behind those, a canyon a mile wide and 3 miles long cut in between them and the mountains behind. In the middle of the canyon up a side canyon rose a white cliff the whole face of which formed an enormous shallow pocket three hundred feet around by a hundred feet back into the cliff. Water dripped from the top of the pocket to an empty pool at the bottom strewn with gray granite rocks which made up the boulder strewn side canyon. Across the back wall of the pocket crawled a rusty angle iron catwalk. A rusty elevator cage and a long set of stairs provided access to the walk Where the walk crossed the very center of the giant pocket a huge rusty steel balcony affair with expanded metal mesh for a floor. Bolted into the stone at the back of the pocket was a huge round machine with numerous small screens and dials. In the center of that was what appeared to be a mirror. Frances approached the console and began adjusting some dials The screens changed color and the mirror seemed to turn to liquid than went flat black Frances placed his hand into the blackness and pulled it out. Something like soot fell from his hand and evaporated into the air as if it had never been. A low hum vibrated the catwalk and balcony/platform where Frances stood and a Sandman stepped through the black opening. William 9 reporting for duty the man said and stepped away from the opening. Another DS operative stepped through, Carol 3 reporting, she stepped aside and several other operatives stepped through allowing the sooty dust to evaporate off them. Frances Grinned and they began to file into the elevator cage.
Frances exited the elevator and motioned to his operatives to follow They walked a rusty expanded metal bridge across the dry pool toward the upper floor of the side canyon where it lay in a flat narrow sloping plane along the wall sloping to the floor of the main canyon below. Here at the edge of the deep cut that formed the floor of the canyon several large spider like robots were laying huge granite blocks hewn from boulders in the canyon floor by directed energy cutters. The blocks fit air tight and formed a face in which a large granite door operated up and down by the artificial control of gravity sealed off a bunker leading into the side of the canyon . Francis stood in front of this in side a large thick 10 foot wall of granite blocks Down the upper floor a few yards stood the first of many large cactus like plants. They were clumps of long green spines in the middle of witch were large white flowers 3 feet across by 3 and a half feet deep. In the bottoms of these giant funnels sat pools of rich sweet sticky amber colored nectar. Frances watched a form hanging on the completed part of the wall. It was about 3 feet long and hung upside down by its back feet and folded its wings around it. Francis approached the animal which had no fear of the Sandmen. It was some sort of horse he knew that from its head and the main that hung wildly downward as well as the broom like tail which concealed a tiny claw at the tip. It had claws on its wings and hind legs and a long tongue that would reach into the flowers to suck the nectar Many of these creatures came up the canyon at night to roost in the pocket and in the jagged outcrop above it. Francis squeezed the creatures soft black nose and it snorted. As was the ritual here in the evening and early morning the Sandmen getting off duty for the night filed down the hill with a bucket full of toasted chunks of bread toward the flower. When there, they would dunk the bread and eat the sticky syrup with it than return. It got started 2 months ago when bored Sandmen on assignment decided to try the stuff. The sun sank below the ridge and the horse bat things began to file into the sky toward the forest of flowering cactus below, whinnying as they went. Francis turned and walked into the bunker.
Rem sat on the back of the solar car and kicked his feet back and forth in contemplation. Than he noticed a low hum or was it voices? It came from all around seemingly from every where. It sounded like wind in a forest also but so low as that you could hardly hear it. Rem removed the device from his belt and scanned the aria. The sound definitely had a source but it was not a physical location one could pin down, more like not really in the hear and now but here and some where else also. The whole thing smacked entirely of the quantum thought Rem. This belonged to the realm of quarks and gluons and neutrinos and so forth or, of something very like that. Some one ,or some thing was manipulating the environment on a quantum level in a big way. Rem looked up in the sky off to the southeast . Millions of stars clouded the sky Rem could remember when he could pick out satellites and air craft and space vehicles among the stars and name each of them He could remember the exact dates when each of them fell from site to burn up in the atmosphere. Just as Rem finished that thought a new light caught his eye, only this one was moving quickly toward their location but more to the west of them. Within a fraction of a second Rems computer brain realized that the light was not a star, calculated the exact distance and adjusted his vision to a high enough power to make out the vehicle. It was a long rectangle about a hundred yards by 50 yards with towers at the corners. The towers were putting out an energy field over the rectangle in the shape of a dome. On board Rem could see some structures at one end sticking up in the air and a wall along the western facing edge. Toward the middle he could barely make out the tops of trees. This was some sort of barge like the old cargo vessels that used to ply space and the skies but obviously faster and built for luxury as well as function. This carried people.
On board the Board the barge 8 stories up the forward tower Morgan stood peering out over the chasm between the tower and the edge of the deck and out the energy field out there the wind was howling past them as they approached mach 3 though they were slowing down now. A bird twittered in the top of a small tree on a balcony aria below disturbed by something or another. The city of domes had developed 8 of these fast barges in a mater of weeks putting robot labors to work building more robot labors and building the barges. Prior to that, only Morgans small privet yacht had been in existence. Morgan pulled back the front opening of his long leather coat and reached into a pouch on his utility belt where he groped for a piece of gum. He pulled out the small sphere and removed it from its paper wrapper. The wrappers had sayings printed on them and Morgan fancied them. This one simply said When you pick your pleasure , never forget, today , tomorrow, and every day thence, is last day Morgan smiled Last day would come for him in a few years . Than an odd thought struck him as he gazed up at the full moon with its ruined domed cities stretching across the surface. Would it come? Was any thing certain in a world where things were created like the one he was going to see. The device could open up a hole into any where. Unlike the mater energy transport devices in the city, this one needed no receiver and could be pointed any where. Inconclusive tests had came back that hinted that the thing might be going to any when as well or for that matter to realms beyond the understanding of even the cities scientists. Stories were floating about of hyper space and infinite bubbles within it each containing a universe representing every probability. There were other stories as well, of other dimensions where the normal physical laws worked differently. All these stories haunted most, the minds of the Sandmen who had to travel through the device. Morgan had done it, just to reassure his subordinates. But this barge was fast and filled with more luxury than the device. He looked across to the long couch where several women were sitting. Fairly young for the circles Morgan ran in, mid 90s still had that glow about them, flawless, no wrinkles, no lines, smooth soft skin. Morgan rubbed his craggy face, his skin had never been smooth, even as a teenager. He tucked the little wrapper into his pocket and approached the couch to sit down, smiling at the 19year old looking girl next to him. He offered her the little sphere of gum but she brushed it away so Morgan popped it in his mouth. Well be landing soon he said. The barge began to decelerate as if on cue and drift toward the long dark canyon below. The girl looked at Morgan and rolled her eyes. Morgan gave her his most grotesque leer in retaliation and exited smirking as her face flushed red with anger.
Rem watched the barge descend below the mountains into the canyon on the other side. The glair from its landing lights lit up the whole sky. They would be safe until morning but to Rem the whole thing smacked of the city of domes. The sun climbed into the sky and Rem heated water over a small fire. Logan climbed out of his bed and folded the blanket up. Jessica crawled out of her bed next to Logans Waters hot said Rem. We have got to get some infrastructure around here said Logan this is going on for to long.
Im afraid I have some bad news Logan. I think your friends from the city are just over those mountains. Jessica chucked a small rock toward the mountains, Thats all we need She looked out across the desert. Where ever Sanctuary is, it isnt out here in this waste. The city is up to something back there Logan said Rem. Last night, an enormous barge flew into that canyon. Rem described barges and gave a brief description of there history . That flew into the canyon? Jessicas mind raced over the possibilities. That was big portable infrastructure with an eye to luxury. Important people must be on that barge
They wouldnt go back there with out some good reason. We better check on them Logan, find out what there up to. Logan nodded and put the last of the gear into the solar car. A half hour later they were tracking along a long abandon road over grown with creosote. In places you could see a piece of broken pavement. Turn there Rem said. The car swung around and headed toward the mouth of the canyon. Theres a lot of activity up ahead said Rem. Some large equipment and structures as well as an enormous power reading and something I cant figure out. Its some sort of wave form but its like nothing I have ever seen. The car glided smoothly up the canyon and Logan admired the large flowers growing from the thorny cactus. They sat the care down gently in a hidden wash and exited it. Jessica threw a pack on her back with some water and Logan grabbed a canteen and attached it to his belt as they headed up the wash toward the aria Rem had scanned.
Francis stood on the balcony adjusting the view on a screen. The picture cleared to show Three figures walking up a deep wash. He adjusted the view, zoomed in. Jessica, Logan and Rem. Francis couldnt believe his eyes. This time I take you back he thought to him self. He had not came out here entirely in search of Logan and Jessica but because the large pocket made an ideal place to put the transport machine and he had a lot of experience out side. If they happened along so much the better. Francis dialed the image in closer and switched on the machine. Its mirror surface darkened to a sooty black and he watched the figures disappear from the canyon. Rem was floating in a black place in the grip of quantum forces propelling him through a dimensional doorway fields nudged him this way and that, guided him on course to a central point. Rem gathered this information in one nanosecond by the next he had learned how to control the fields for his own use. Change a frequency slightly here another there and the direction shifted. Francis watched the glowing progress indicator when suddenly the mapping line chained they had somehow taken over the controls. Francis grabbed his blaster from his belt and jumped into the soot like field before him.
Logan squinted in the bright sun. He was surrounded by a city scape in mustard yellow. Buildings, streets, walkways, even tall poles with some sort of solar collectors if thats what they were all in a kind of mustard yellow ceramic. Jessica and rem stood off to the left, up a walkway, five figures approached, as they drew nearer, Logan could make out there shape better. They were human looking form a distance but as they drew closer the similarities began to disappear rapidly. They wore very roughly woven clothing of a drab grey color with lumps of colored thread in the weave here and there , their skin was white with deep folds. Their heads had two short beaks and three, sometimes more small black eyes surrounded by those same deep folds of skin. He thought about drawing his blaster but they did not seem to be making any threatening moves or even to be armed. Their whole posture was very casual and unassuming, they merely plodded along the ceramic path as if nothing was wrong. They approached and stopped to stair at the three strange beings that had arrived in their world.
One of the beings faced Logan first one beak moved than the other but all Logan could hear was a kind of twittering. Than he heard or felt or perhaps a combination of the two a voice in his head. Who are you? Where do you come from? Logan spoke his name and the names of his companions. I hear you but in my mind. Are all your kind telepathic? No said Logan, no one I know of. It must be something between your kind and mine than, because that is unknown here as well. I am Ack and this is Bok and Kep . This is Rooasia and we are known as Wolks . Logan told the tail of earth and Rem filled Logan in on how they came to be where they were. Rem could not communicate telepathically with the Wolks but Logan explained a what different noises meant and Rem simply learned the language. Making the Wolk noises was no problem for Rem as he simply recorded the original noise and played it back adding his own unique tone to it. The Wolks were utterly fascinated by Humans and by the strange every where machine that had bought them. Wolks apparently lived on a world in a parallel universe in which Earth and its sun never formed. Instead the Wolk star of Rooawk had formed and given rise to the solar system known as Baowk. Baowk had three planets with a breathable atmosphere and thriving Wolk colonies on them with ships traveling back and forth carrying all manner of exotic cargo. Jessica took a liking to the Wolks and there peculiar patient methodical approach to every thing. To see a Wolk happy or sad or worried or any thing else was mundane, but to see a Wolk excited was unheard of. Perhaps if an asteroid was going to obliterate Rooasia , some Wolks might be excited but likely they would be loading a fleet of ships as quickly and methodically as possible to make for the nearest colony world. Perhaps this is why the Wolks never quarreled among themselves or had wars. Wolk weapons were strictly for defense against the local wild life , some of witch lacked the Wolks benign contemplative nature. Logan and Jessica toyed with the idea of not trying to get back to Earth at all but setting up a life here. Rem also found the idea appealing and spent no end of studding the Wolks scientific discoveries.
Logan and Jessica sat in front of what passed as a Wolk sidewalk caf. Logan leaned back in his chair and played a card game with Ack while Jessica helped another Wolk sort through a box of junk that they intended to sell. Logan looked off to the right into the street . Some young Wolks were chasing a creature that seemed to be a bunch of red roots sticking up in the air form a central lump. Apparently the intent was to lop off one of the creatures root like tentacles for lunch. Logan noticed a gray haze in one spot that seemed to darken into a field of black soot. Ack cast one eye over in that direction while the other two watched the cards the creature held. By now the black soot was a round sphere to dark to see through. Suddenly it began to dissipate revealing the form of Francis. He stood there blaster in hand and soaking wet, shivering from cold. He made his way toward Logan and Jessica raising the blaster to cover them but quaking from cold. It was a warm day in this part of Rooasia as they were near the equator and Ack pondered the reason for the new Humans shivering also a Wolk reaction to extreme cold. No more of this L- Logan n-n-no more. Francis shivered again and glanced up at the welcome sun beating down. Rems hand moved to quickly to actually see as it grabbed the blaster out of Francess hand. Sit down and warm your self up Frances the android said. Youll like the food here, Its apparently quite palatable to Humans and loaded with all sorts of good stuff. Rem tossed the blaster to Jessica and she smirked as she put it in the box of Junk. The Wolk, Pek looked up warily at Frances one eye on him and a couple more on the blaster. Frances shivered and looked disgusted as he eyed the Wolks in the caf. He walked over and sat at the table. Picking up a blue sphear from a squair bowl made of the same mustard yellow ceramic but with some black decorative lines. Frances took a bite , chewed a little than greedily began devouring the spheres one after another. He turned his attention to a glass pitcher with a long spout full of some moss green, pulpy juice. He took a taste and than sucked greedily on the spout nearly emptying the contents , than he grabbed a reddish brown cube that looked as if it were covered with coconut and bit into that. He devoured it and grabbed another than back to the pitcher. Ack watched the insane display of hunger with a mixture of fascination and pity. Francis finished the pitcher of Juice took a deep satisfied breath and passed out on the ground. Ack quickly reached in to his pocket and drew out something that looked like a dried up old stick about an inch in diameter with various leads on it. He twittered into it and Francis disappeared from his sprawled position on the ground. Hes at the emergency medical facility. Ack twitted into his stick thing again and they all found them selves in a large lobby surrounded by purplish glass This way, Ack lead them to a room at the end of a round tunnel with glowing orange paint on the ceiling. Francis sat up in a bead looking rather frustrated. A Wolk came in with his uniform, We washed you clothing. Your anatomy confused our computer for a bit, where did you come from? Ack began explaining patiently. Your friend had injuries from exposure, a small fracture in his leg and multiple bruises as well as a little salt water in his lungs. Frances sat up. Give me my clothes. Every one exited the room and Francis came out dressed once again in his DS uniform. Francis approached Logan Jessica and Rem. He fumbled in his pocket and bought out a device. He smiled at them triumphantly and pressed a series of icons on a small screen. The bright sun lit the wash and Francis looked around confused. It wont work Francis said Rem I can control your machine much better than that device can. The more I do it the better I get at it. Were right back where you took us from. Francis reached for his blaster and realized it was back in the Wolks box of junk. He backed up and swore than backed up some more and took off running up the wash. We better get back to the car Logan Jessica said.
Francis jogged into the DS camp and slumped over resting his hands on his knees. Their in the canyon, he explained to the group of Sandmen his ordeal with the machine, about landing himself in a freezing sea and washing up on rocks before he could get the mapping information strait on the remote control device. Wait here said Morgan. He grabbed a blaster and holstered it as he mounted a hovering vehicle that resembled a long, flat, stainless steel stick with a seat, handlebars foot rests and a small wind screen, a square head light fit flush to the front end . The machine hummed and lifted off the ground shooting off into the distance. Morgan shot down the wash and saw the three making for their car, no way they would make it, he drew his blaster and tried to take out Rem with a couple of shots. He was moving to fast to stop next to them and he had to get that android. He leaned down and flew low past them when he felt a sharp blow to his head. Morgan fell from the machine, which stopped, in mid air rider less. He pulled his hand back bloody from his head to find Jessica kneeling over him The last thing he saw was her fist drawn back, and than blackness. Nice aim with the rock Jessica Rem said. Jessica gave Morgan a swift kick in the ribs and got on the Vehicle. Logan climbed up on the seat and put his arms around her waist. Rem perched on the flat body of the thing behind the seat and she flew them to the Car. They tied the machine hovering behind the car and made off out of the canyon.
Morgan woke up and spit a tooth into his hand his head hurt as he grabbed his follower and called to be picked up. Did you get them? said Frances. No, I didnt get them said Morgan,I dont know where they are either.