Captain Beau Whitley opens the door of his Avian. His white, helmeted head sticks out in deep contrast to the burned fighter. He retracted his seatbelt and pulled himself out. His clumsy action caused him to drop fifteen feet to the ground, landing on his back. The heat from the fire leaking from the Avian almost reached him. Beau slowly recovered from the shock of the crash and stood up, nearly toppling over. In all of his ten years flying and fighting the Moralists, he had never had a closed encounter as this last one. This will be his first crash landing.
His first lieutenant’s voice was loud in his ear, "BW? Do you copy?"
Beau takes his helmet off, relieving him from the loud noise. The voice was at a more comfortable audio range with the helmet off. He shakes his head and responds. "BW here."
"BW. Good, you are all right. I was worried there for a bit. Your vitals are not stable. You need to took an LSS shot immediately."
Beau turned to look at his Avian. The crash landing caused the front magnets to fold against the hard ground. The fire was literally leaking from the other wing. "Chief Ju. That's not going to happen. I can't get in the Avian for the medkit."
"You must be in more shock than I anticipated. Use the emergency LSS on your flight suit. If you don't remember how to, I'll walk you through it, BW."
"Leave me alone, Chief Ju." Beau felt his jumpsuit for the firm disk on the right thigh. He slapped it hard and felt the adrenaline rush with the other mix of medicines going into his blood system. The warm feeling of the opiate analgesic spread through his chest. Beau took a deep breath and held it as he landed hard on his knees, and his forehead met the ground as in prayer.
"Took a deep breath, BW."
A few moments passed, and Beau took a deep breath and became fully alert. Standing up, he took stock of where he actually was. Content with his aim of falling, Avian broke the outer barrier of the plantation.
"I'm at ground zero."
"Okay. Then we will go to BZT25. Do you need a refresher?"
BW smiled at the sarcasm. "Just guide me there."
Beau followed Chief Ju’s instructions through the old plantation to the mansion. "Chief Ju?"
"Have we done this before?"
There was a short pause.
"No. You're the first to break the barrier in a hundred and seventy-five years. Why?"
Beau looked around the familiar grounds of the plantation mansion. It was a timeless, southern solid plantation from the early 21st century. At the top of the landing, the front doors were missing. The staircase curved around the four floors intimately. The memories of Southern Bells dancing at their coming-out parties filled his head. He felt the need to move to the side and salute the brave, young soldiers in Confederate uniforms ready for the war re-enactment walking towards him. The sweet smell of pork barbecue wafted through the air. "Meat? There was no such thing. Was that pork?”
"BW? What's going on? Your vitals are going wild. Did you say pork?"
"It's like déjà vu. It’s as if I’ve been here before. I can almost see the fat, old cook in the kitchen roasting the hog and the rest of the staff getting the dining room ready."
"What do you hear? Your vitals are going crazy."
"There's a live orchestra playing Chopin."
"That can't be. Our instruments show nothing, only your vitals. It could be holograms."
"I knew. I don't understand it. I'm hallucinating."
"Technically, BW, You're not. The sounds seem real through you. Go to the main foyer and find the Grand Ballroom."
"I can almost taste the pork. I can smell the perfume from the roses, jasmines, junipers, and other flowered from the garden."
"That's impossible, BW. Don't let the holograms fool you. You need to reboot the system. If it stops, plants will grow again. Inferior animals will roam the world."
"I knew. I knew. Stop hounding me."
Beau walked through the entire house. He knew every floor, every room. The secret compartments and the hidden passages were easily distinguishable to him. In the attic, he moved a windowpane that opened and followed the secret passage straight down to the Grand Ball Room.
"BW? How did you know that was there?"
"I just knew. I don't understand it."
Beau also knew that's where the main generator was located. It was breaking down. Some plants were starting to grow at the poles. The plants were causing changes to the climate, and the government would slow down. There were too many consequences if that happened.
"BW? What happened?"
"What do you mean?"
"You're vitals when offline. We can't see anything in this room."
"Audio seems fine."
"You're in the Grand Ballroom. BW. We don't have much time. You need to reboot the system."
"Yes. Chief Ju. Yes. I knew. You've already told me."
"I don't need to remind you of your mission, do I?"
Beau became puzzled at the comment. Why was Chief Ju so insistent on his mission? She was never like that before. It seemed like they didn't want him to distract from the task. The more he thought about it, the more confused he became.
Believing that as an orphan, the Minister of Mundovus adopted him and loved him as a father. Even if he was the most powerful man in the known industrialized globe, Americus did not have time for him. When he came of age, he was coerced to enter the Military, handpicked from hundreds of Mundovus. Which seemed odd. His scores were high. Nonetheless, not as high as many others who had more experience doing this mission.
"BW. You need to hurry. You only have twenty-five cycles to complete your mission. I can't stress the importance of this."
Beau was getting annoyed fast with Chief Ju's insistent voice in his ear.
"The free world depends on you doing this."
"Stop badgering me," Beau said firmly. "Why me? I don't understand."
"It’s premature to tell you now. Chief Ju raised her voice. "Once you get to the Terradustria, I'll tell you." Chief Ju took a moment and relaxed her tone. "Please hurry. It’s important."
Beau was perplexed. Why him? That question bothered him more than anything else did. The sound of the orchestra restarts, the scents of flowered emanate, and the chatters murmurs once again.
“Find the damn thing and reboot it. NOW!"
He walked to the far wall, and he stood face to face with a large painting. He felt an icy sensation trail down his back. The hair follicles on his skin stood on end. The room's temperature seems to drop a few centigrades. The music stops, the chatter of the party ends, and the smell of the flowered ceases. A sudden void of the senses envelops him. Beau could not believe he was staring at himself in the painting. No one had ever seen pictures or any resemblance to the creator of the industrialized world, Dr. Beau Whitely. At the bottom of the image, a gold plaque held Dr. Beau Whitley's name. Beneath it stood a date, July 1, 2015, Two hundred years to the day. "Chief Ju?"
"BW. Do your mission. That is an order."
Beau ignores the command. He notices the discoloration, the abandonment of the frame, and dust all around. There should be cobwebs or animal droppings, the cotton eaten by rats. There was nothing like that. There were no animals in over a hundred years or plants for just as long.
Starring at it, he notices the dark brown, wavy hair. It was in style for the year, long enough to be above the bright, white shirt, barely touching the crisp collar. The bangs parted in the middle cascading into a frame of his long, masculine face in a mid frown.
Subconsciously, he hand-combs his hair and blows at his bangs. His was past due from his regulation haircut. Chief Ju had been hounding him on getting a haircut for the past three months. His excuse was that he didn't have the time to train for this mission. Wearing his helmet was becoming a tight fight over the last few weeks.
Women always complimented his brows and long eyelashes. They would stare into his deep, brown eyes. "What color are your eyes?" The grey-eyed girls always asked. They had never seen a color so dark. Everyone had grey eyes, but not him. "Chocolate," he would answer. He licks his lips savoring his favorite dark chocolate bar from long ago. "Chocolate," he whispers.
"BW? What did you say?"
Staring at the portrait, he notices that the permanent down-sloping nose ends in a sexy bulb, very aristocratic for its era. Like his, it flows with his long face, giving him an air of nobility. No one had a nose quite like his. He didn't have children, so he never passed on that trait. Men looked up at him. His nose commands attention and jealousy. Three jealous men with flat, feminine noses had broken him as many times, which gave it more character.
Beau massages his jaw. How many combat fights has he been in? The long square jaw gave him a unique looked. It ends with a semi-cleft chin, making him looked more virile and more robust than the rest of the men. "Caveman," the others called him. His build and physique were not unique, except that his body created strange gasses and smells, which at times were quite embarrassing.
Beau ignores the voice; he is entranced by the crisp white shirt on the portrait. It matches his white uniform in style. Even the collars were of the same height. The blazer on the picture fits the burnt over-jacket of his uniform. He pulled the lapels, straightens his shoulders, takes a deep breath, and pumps his chest with pride. The portrait was that of him. “Nothing today would make me looked this good."
"BW? What are you talking about? Get on with the mission."
Beau felt a trickle on his upper lip; he touches his nose and notices that it was bleeding. Again. The dry atmosphere always made him bleed. The background of the portrait was a soft brown with a swirled backdrop. He looked out the windows and noticed the air was brown and swirly. It has always been like that. Memories of a blue sky with white clouds filled his head. The green of the grass and the multi-colored leaves of the fall color his fields in different hues of red, orange, plum, purple, and yellow. He took a deep breath and coughed. The air was getting moist. The increase of oxygen was affecting him, disorienting him.
"Captain Beau Whitely, are you with us?" Chief Ju's robust and commanding voice was losing its force.
Beau raised his hand and passed it in front of the portrait, half expecting it to do the same. He felt stupid. It was a portrait. He lowered his head.
Suddenly he heard a loud hiss. Streams of vapor escape the frame of the portrait. "Welcome back, Dr. Whitley," a soft, feminine voice said. The picture moved to the exposed opening.
"BW? Are you there?"
"I'm here. I found the entrance."
Beau entered the familiar room. The pod in the middle with a few blinking lights was quickly deteriorating. Acid rain had seeped in, making significant gaps in the ceiling and walls. Concrete and steel were not enough to keep the Terradustria safe. "The Dr. didn't have the forethought of his invention,” he said.
The door behind him closed with a loud thud, sealing him in.
"Chief Ju?" he said.
The communication was lost.
"State your new name," the feminine voice said.
"Welcome back, Dr. Whitley. Please hold for playback."
A screen in mid-air appeared. It was sideways. The projector was malfunctioning. "Jenny, please adjust the recording." Startled, he questioned how he knew the voice's name and what command to use.
The recording shifted, disappeared, and then appeared life-size. The image of him only older appeared. "Beau? They gave you my name?" The recording said.
"Yes. They gave me the original name."
"Warning, outer perimeter breach," Jenny said.
"The Mundovus are approaching. They will not kill you, only stun your body to reboot."
"What can we do?"
"You have to stop this. The world is dying slowly. If this continues for too long, the world as we know it will die. In a couple of hundred years, there will be no oxygen. I'm dying now, and it's only been forty years. The polar ice caps will melt. There will be no plants, no animals, and no hope."
"Why should I do anything?"
"You're me. I don't know what generation of me, but you’re I. You were cloned because only I can reboot the system."
"That's what I'm here to do."
"Don't you remember anything? The oxygen? The water? The plants? The animals? The children?”
“The Mundovus won’t let us know the past.”
“My daughter Jenny is barren, and so is half her generation. The animals are dying too."
Beau felt overwhelmed with memories, feelings of sadness, and loss. "I remember. But, how?"
"You're me, Remember? You need to stop this. We need to stop this."
Beau felt a sudden need to save the world. "How?"
"Bleed on the patch." A small Petri dish came out of the side console. It had a small needle in the middle.
"What will that do?"
"I programmed a self-destruct system a year after. I saw my error. I was greedy. They stopped me. We need to do this."
"Warning. Warning." Jenny’s voice was louder.
"BW? What are you doing?"
"I'm tapped into the receiver. As you can see, the seal is broken. Open the door. We need to finish this mission."
"Dr. Whitley. What will happen to me?"
"I have a protocol in place. Stay here, and they will pick you up. We'll fix the world, one man at a time, starting with you. The world will change rapidly. Some will survive and return to normal or as normal as possible. I don't know what the damage has been so far."
"I miss the taste of chocolate."
"Warning. Outer haul breached." Jenny said.
"BW. I knew you were in there. Open the door.” Chief Ju yells. “It's an order."
Beau stood in front of the Terradustria. He didn't want to die. He opens his right palm and holds it above the Terradustria. A hissing sound came from his side. A large candy bar of dark chocolate lay in the middle.
"My favorite." Dr. Whitley said.
"It can't be. How?"
"You should know better. You're not the only human that eats organic material. There are things you don’t know."
Beau thought about it. He never ate with anyone. His diet was always at home or specially made for his illness. "I'm not sick, am I?"
"No. You’re the healthiest man on the planet."
"BW? Don't do anything stupid. We have one inch to go."
Beau could feel the heat from the door as it started to warp and turn red.
"Chocolate." It was not a question. It was an answer. He picked up the bar and took a bite. The bittersweet piece melts slowly in his mouth. He felt an orgasmic feeling unlike any he had before. Confused by his erection, he took another bite. It was just as orgasmic as the first one. His eyes widened, and a smile brightened his face. Another bite and yet another fills his mouth with pleasure. When the bar was gone, he walked over to the patch and slammed his palm on the needle. He felt no pain, just pleasure. The Terradustria beeps, and the remaining lights stop.
"Protocol BW is in place." Chief Ju said.
"Imagine that. The protocol has your name." Dr. Whitley said.
"What now?" Beau asked.
There was no answer. The lights in the room faded. Behind the console, a passageway opens. He ran and dove into it. As it closes, he hears the main door collapse. Chief Ju’s last scream rang in his ear, forever locked in his memory. "Goodbye, my friend, If you were my friend."
Beau ran through the dark passageway to the light at the end of the tunnel.
"Dr. Whitley, are you in there." Jenny’s voice said.
Beau came out by the dry riverbed. "I'm here.” He looked around for a machine but found a young woman with brown eyes.
“Please call me BW.” Beau could not stop staring at the chocolate eyes.
"You're a Moralist."
"Yes, I am."
"You sound familiar."
"I'm Julie. I am a descendent of Jenny. She was your assistant."
"Finish what you started. Come on, we have to go."
Beau felt alive. He had a new purpose in life.
Writers Bloc V – Henderson Writers Group
October 14, 2014
Word Count 2,833