I can still remember the day it happened… I was in the kitchen rehydrating some pizza while father was downstairs tinkering with his doo-dads and whatchamacallits and making considerable noise while doing so. It had always frustrated me that, despite his ingenuity, he never bothered to fix the sink that leaked like a carotid artery every time I used it. Or that he would constantly procrastinate in fixing the automatic doors on the house as if he had no idea how important doors were. I said to him “You mean to tell me you can find the time to destroy my basements cleanliness with your lab equipment strewn about, but you can’t find a single moment to prevent these doors from sticking? I mean come on pop you built the dam things!” But dad knew that despite all the yelling and bickering that had seemed to engulf us over the years, we still loved each other dearly.
I took the pizza out once it had reached the recommended decontamination temperature and set it on the table. It was picture perfect and odorless. As if he could smell it dad yelled “Supper ready yet!?” I replied, “Yes now come eat and fix this door.” We sat down to eat in silence, savoring each simulated bite. “Remember when I would cook this for you when you were a little girl?” dad said. I replied, “Yes pop well that was before Hydracorp took over the food industry.” His expression soured, he grew silent and finished his meal with no visible enjoyment whatsoever. He looked at me again with a confused inquisition, “Lucile” he said , I sighed predicting I was in store for another one of his lectures on the ‘good ol days’, “ Yes pop”, “Lucile doesn’t it bother you that our food is now pre made in factory’s by them? Their tiny dirty little hands making miniature versions of what we used to call food so that we can rehydrate it to a proper size and then just hope it doesn’t poison us?” His train of thought began to upset me. “Why on earth would they want to do that?” I said. “We have given them a home here with steady pay and now they even have rights to own land and be protected under law! “I could see that stern look in his eye begin to deepen. “Yes”, he replied, “but it’s not just that, we have left them to the task of manufacturing everything we use in our daily lives and then Hydracorp finds a way to make their little products large enough for us. Even the earrings I gave your mother for her birthday were made by them! I searched far and wide and could not find a single jeweler that was not in some way affiliated with the Blefuscudian slave trade.” This shocked me for I hadn’t heard it referred to in that way for years. I looked at him and said “Well pop, it’s the way of the world now and who are we to complain? We have everything we need and we no longer have to force our own people into menial labor.” Pop looked at me with amazement and then let out a deep breath, smiled, got up and went back into his lab. I wanted to go down after him to continue the discussion, but it was clear that neither of us were willing to accept each other’s view point.
Later that day I started gathering my things to go to the firing range. I didn’t want to leave the house for too long because I did not want pop to think I was mad at him after our little quarrel. So I packed only what I needed, my pistol, my smokes, and a Hydracorp travel kit that consisted of: two sandwiches, a fruit basket, extra bullets, a hanky, and protective earmuffs, all of which could be rehydrated with my trusty Hydracorp solution packet. The kit fit nicely into my front breast pocket. As I was trying to leave I realized that the automatic doors in the house were still not working. I kicked the door in frustration and yelled for pop, but his lab had been quiet for a least an hour. “Off on one of his dimensional escapades again. “I said with a sneer as I tried to force the front door open in a fit of anger. For a moment it seemed like it might open but I soon realized, no matter how hard I pulled, it would not budge an inch. I let out a childlike scream, “ Ahh blasted thing!! Pop when you get back from wherever the hell you are, you are in a world of hurt!” While trying to force the door open a second time another scream filled the air, but didn’t come from me..
I looked out the window and saw my neighbor Edgar lying on the ground clutching his stomach in pain. I yelled out to him “Edgar! What’s wrong?” He replied “ Ohhhh Lucile oohhh the woe ohhh the woee.” Beside him was my other neighbor Allen who was also doubled over in pain. Both Edgar and Allen were screaming “ Woe woe woe!!”. Then a sight of horror fell upon my eyes… as they both simultaneously liquified right there on the street corner! It was as if they were a stick of butter in a forgotten microwave! It was a disgusting display of slime and human entrails. My adrenaline started pumping as I realized something was terribly wrong. Suddenly there was panic in the streets as people fell to the ground in pain and transformed into indescribable disfigurements of death! It seemed a funny thing to me at first given the suddenness of it coupled with their exaggerated flailing and hysteria. But I was soon to realize is was no joke.
The men were rolling around on the ground and screaming as they mutated into figures of unimaginable dread. Some men turned into large wolf like creatures howling and crying, screaming and chasing others in an orgy of violence and bloodshed. Others turned into lumbering green zombie like monsters and some men just simply disappeared! Now I was grateful that my doors were sealed shut. The chaos outside had my heart pumping like a jackhammer and then I yelled “Father!” I ran to the basement and his laboratory was still empty. He left me a note that I grabbed and put in my pocket. Him leaving me notes after a sudden departure had become a regular occurrence to the point where the notes became so redundant I hadn’t even bothered to read them most of the time.
But oh god how I wished I could speak to him now. I burst into tears at the thought of him having to face the same fate as those poor men outside. Then in a panic I thought “I will call my friend Marion, she’ll know what to do.” I scrambled to turn on the telecom system. She answered after several call attempts, “Marion!” I cried, I am so glad I reached you, are you alright? Do you know what the hell is happening out there? I cannot reach pop! He’s on one of his dam scientific escapades again! Please tell me that you know something. I noticed that she still had the earrings on that I got her for her birthday. “Lucile “she answered, “Don’t fret my child, soon all will be revealed to you.” This reply sent a cold shock up my spine. Could Marion, the most trust worthy and strong woman I know, be a part of this horror? I replied “ok..” Marion then told me to stay calm and that someone would be over to the house shortly to explain everything. I noticed that Marion had a vapid and almost melancholy look in her eyes. I reluctantly nodded my head and ended the transmission.
I sat down with a sigh and began to contemplate what was going on. “Why are just the men being eradicated? Why haven’t the women been affected? Why haven’t I been affected? Is this some horrible prank or am I dreaming? I gave myself a pinch and realized that this situation was real, and that I needed to shape up in a hurry. Was I going to sit idly by while people are suffering? Laze about like a stone while the world is coming to an end? “Not likely!” I said out loud. I went back over to the jammed door and unholstered my pistol. Aiming carefully at the hinges I fired KAKOW and again KAKOW KAKOW. Finally, after wasting half of my 95 round Hydracorp mini magazine, the door let out a loud creek and slammed to the ground with a thunderous impact! I did a barrel role outside, dove into the grass and drew my gun in preparation for anything. But there was nothing… Only silence. All of the men were gone. Nothing left but tufts of wolf fur and disgusting piles of melted flesh. The eeriness of it all filled me with profound discomfort.
With a firm grip on my pistol, I slowly and cautiously walked through the street. Finally, I made my way over to Marion’s house. There was a massive crowd of women around her and they were all hanging on her every word. She was clearly their leader, and who could blame anyone for wanting to follow her? She was so bright and strong willed anyone with half a brain would listen to what she has to say. I could not make out what they were saying to one another because the pitch of their voices was so high it was virtually inaudible. They eventually caught wind of my presence and simultaneously turned toward me. They all stood there, emotionless, expressionless, completely devoid of humanity, just staring at me. Shortly after, as if she were royalty, they made way for Marion to approach me. Seeing her filled me with so much relief. I knew she would be able to explain things to me and help me make sense of this madness. She reached out and shook my hand, which was uncharacteristic of her, and said “greetings friend. I am glad we have met here in this place of gathering, I was afraid for a moment that we would have to take you by force.” This reply startled me, “By force?” I said. “Yes but fear not” she said, “Take these and the answers shall be revealed to you.” She reached out her hands which had two brand new pearl earrings in them, very pretty, very tasteful. I knew then and there that this was not Marion and could not help myself from bursting out in anger. “You are not Marion!” She had no visible reaction but the women around her seemed puzzled and looked at one another, as if they were confused as to who Marion even was. “AHAH! I knew it! You cannot be Marion, because Marion is my best friend and she knows that even when I was a small child I was afraid to have my ears pierced. She knows I HATE earrings!” Marion replied “Yes of course, that is unfortunate. Now you must be liquidated like the others.”
I was frozen in terror when Marion grabbed me, as if she had the strength of ten women, and threw me into the side of a mailbox with a bone crushing force. I quickly sprang to my feet but realized my left arm was broken. Then like a terrible march of soldiers the women all started towards me their eyes glowing white and blood trickling from their ears! Then suddenly beams of fire shot out from their earrings and were cutting holes in the ground all around me. With my good arm I drew my pistol and fired KAKOW KAKOW. I thought If I was going to die then I am taking as many of them with me as I can. One after the other they fell to the ground but as quickly as I gunned one down, another would step over and approach me. Almost immediately I felt a cold shock come into my leg and realized one of their beams had grazed me. Laying on the ground, with my arm broken and my gun empty, I closed my eyes and awaited certain death. Then out of nowhere a shockwave of light and color appeared right in front of me! It was a beautiful array of aurora lights and distortion waves, too beautiful to describe. Had I died? Was this heaven? I became nauseous and was beginning to pass out. Then I heard a voice call my name, “Lucile!” The voice cried out again. “My dear I am sorry I did not fix the automatic doors now take my hand!” “Father!?” I yelled, reaching out and grabbing the hand that was protruding from the lights. In all the intensity and pain, I fainted.
When I awoke I looked around and soon realized I was in my bed and my wounds were tended to. What happened to me? I could hear a noise coming from the kitchen. I scrambled to find my pistol, reloaded it, and rushed into the kitchen. It was pop, he was actually fixing the sink! “Pop!” I yelled. He replied “Yes dear one moment just a final adjustment.. and…. yes.! No more leaky faucet!” I sat down in astonishment and saw that the doors were fixed as well! And there were no bodies on the streets. No sign of those horrors whatsoever. “Pop was it all a dream?” I asked. “Oh my daughter” he replied, “did you not read the note I left you?”
He sat down beside me, wiped the sweat off his forehead, and explained. “You see my dear. It was them! It was them all along! They had the whole thing planned from day one those clever little buggers.” I became impatient. “Who, dad?” I said “Why the Blefuscudians of course! You see, while being slaves for Hydracorp they slowly plotted their revenge against us in the form our own household products. They used the Hydracorp shrinking technology to literally shrink themselves into a microscopic form. From there they established colonies on our women’s jewelry, earrings in particular. So you see, once the women had the earrings on it was all over! They used the earrings as a means to take over their minds and use them as tools of world domination!” I stared at pop in disbelieve. “ Ok” I said , “ But what about what happened to Edgar and Allen? And the rest of the men?” Pops smile sank a bit, and he said “The men, well, they were simply able to poison them with gene altering food additives! Fortunately, I was privy to this plot and protected myself against their poisons. It took a tremendous amount of patience, but I was able to construct a new light ray machine. One that can not only travel to other dimensions, but can also travel to different points in our own dimension! I call it the Hewit ray 2.0. I used that very machine to rescue you and take us to an alternate timeline where the Blefuscudians are not our slaves and we in fact live with them in peace.”
“Wait a minute” I replied. “So.. pop, you’re telling me that the Blefuscudians shrunk down and colonized our women’s earrings to use them as instruments of death and eradication, while simultaneously altering the genes of the men to wipe them out? And you knew of this the entire time and built a time machine to circumvent these events and prevent the Blefuscudians from being enslaved in the first place? How did all of this happen!?” Pop leaned forward, smiled and said, “Oh my dearest daughter, I thought the details of scientific discourse did not interest you?” Pop and I both let out some long needed laughter.
Via the Hewitt Ray
by M. F. Rupert
This story has got to be my favorite so far in the course (and not just because it did not involve a group of annoying Victorian explorers) . I felt a powerful curiosity in this story that was almost philosophical. Lines like “sounds we cannot hear – colors we cannot see “and “the world we are aware of is a very incomplete one “, put me in mind of a passionate scientist describing the ignorance of our own senses.
Although the actual science of what is going on in this story is reduced to a throw away explanation (as many stories do) by claiming that the details are not important, “I will not weary you with the details”. Well I don’t know about anyone else but I would have to say that the details of a machine that can teleport matter 180 miles a second would be very important!
The main hook for me in this story was the character of Lucile. I found her to be very interesting although not quite as altruistic as I had hoped . It was a relief to read a story with a strong female lead. She almost feels masculine in a sense of her being a brash pilot with no scientific experience, like a female Hans Solo? I mean she was travelling to another dimension and only thought to bring a colt revolver and a pack of smokes!
The men in this story feel very helpless in many respects. They seem almost like damsels in distress. Her hapless scientifically minded father who is a ” child to the world” and doesn’t seem to be aware of the true danger he is in, as well as the slave that she frees from a fate of death, taking him back to her world as a souvenir of sorts.
Her adventure has all the hallmarks of a classic fish out of water sci-fi tale. I especially enjoyed how , even when captured, she blows smoke in the face of the repulsive pig eyed savages in defiance!
The world itself is very interesting. The woman of this world are not painted in a very good light at times. They were once subjugated then fought back and won against the opposite sex to create a “better” society. These women seem almost Vulcan-esk in how they have broken all things down so logically, right down to having a specific area designated to using sterile beautiful men for sex. Here even pleasurable sex has had logic and order applied to it.
There is a coldness to them that is powerful and haunting. Immediately when Lucile meets the leader she informs her that her second in command has died to which she replies“ well we all die someday “, a very Vulcan like reaction. It is also shown that these women may not have the empathy needed for motherhood as they have giant insect servants care for there children! They also have their children’s lives\careers pre-planned which is a nice touch to this Utopian- Dystopia.
People who cause trouble in this world are altered and if the alterations are unsuccessful that person is painlessly executed . This put me in mind of the Star Trek the Next Generation episode called “Justice”, where the enterprise beams down to a Utopian like world that is beautiful and efficient. However, they later realize that the worlds beauty is the result of a black and white judicial system that issues the death penalty for any and all transgressions against the population. Parallels can also be drawn with the Star Trek the Next Generation episode called ” Angel One “.
“My Father!” I wailed. “If he is with these Third Evolutionists and you wipe them out—what will happen to him ?” “I’m afraid it is unavoidable, but if he is with them he will have to go too.”
It also gave me that star trek feel in that it was dealing with issues of interfering with another society and violating the prime directive. The people of this world have visitors but are still eager to be rid of them so they can continue with there way of life and development. Her taking the insubordinate man as a souvenir is a form of deception and alteration that would conflict with the prime directive (if this was Star Trek).
“We enjoyed having you here. But only as visitors. When your visit is completed you must go back. We are much too busy living our own lives and working out our destinies. We do not care to take on the responsibility of trying to fit in our lives with those of an odd dimension nor to take the time and trouble to fit the odd dimensioners into our life.”
I was glad to see Lucile rescue the insubordinate male however I was let down that she so eagerly participated in war. I suppose that is something Hans Solo might do if profit or some greater cause was involved. I was hoping she would have a moral dilemma and perhaps not get involved, or seek some diplomacy. Although I could see how that would be in vain given the stubborn nature of the world she is in. In the end it felt like Hans Solo fighting along side the empire.
“Lucile, I did not know you were such a blood-thirsty savage. Why, I watched you through the television and you certainly did your share of destruction and seemed to be enjoying yourself immensely !”
“I thought you wanted the men to admit the women’s superiority.” “Oh well !” I answered nonchalantly, glancing out of the corner of my eye at John. “It all depends on who the man is”
*Fades to black and cue music and audience laugh track
Readings by Edgar Allan Poe
This is the first time I have read any Poe and I must say it was quite delightfully grim. Like a warm nightmare blanket. Interesting parallels in this weeks readings with our previous ones. Particularly in how The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall bares a likeness to Man in the Moone.
In The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall I really enjoyed the descriptive writing once he was travelling through he air. I also like the concept a lot, I mean if I could build a balloon that could take me to the moon to escape creditors I think I would at this point.
This story was the only one that I felt a science fiction vibe from. Probably due to the extensive scientific detail the narrator goes into as well as travelling through space. The sense of discovery and ingenuity also gave this one a strong Sci-Fi feel. The others felt more like classy horror and macabre. I can picture the Domingo Gonsales seeing this balloon in the air and saying ” Dam! Why didn’t I think of that.”
I really enjoyed the atmosphere in MS Found in a Bottle and A Descent into the Maelström. These two stories felt very similar to me. Especially the theme of descent. Descending into a whirlpool as well as descending into madness.
“ For gods sake, quick quick put me to sleep or wake me, I say to you I am dead!” “ dead!” “ dead!”
by Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Scientific expeditions can’t help but put me in mind of classic Jules Verne or Isaac Asimov. While reading I was waiting for there to be a catch to all of this Utopian bliss. I was waiting for the women to turn out to be horrible cannibals, or perhaps evil robots ( I know it is a stretch). It was disappointing to me that there was no catch to all the perfection (regardless of gender). I was waiting for something grim that never came, maybe I have been conditioned by modern Sci-Fi / Star Trek.
Personally I wouldn’t mind living in a matriarchal utopia, especially one like this. Seems like a great place . Almost all of the behavior of the men was frustrating, especially Terry who is clearly a misogynist @$$&*#! . However it was quite comical when one of the men attempts to lure a woman out of a tree with diamonds, these are real scientific minds at work.. I also enjoyed how the author used the Utopia to paint a grim picture of the real world through comparison, reminded me of Swift for a minute.
A thought that came into my mind was why are the men constantly trying to escape? They are being treated well and living in a paradise. If they were truly interested in a scientific expedition would they not stay and safely observe as much as they could?