Alec's Dream, p.1Dave Birchbauer
Ghosts of Angels
Copyright © 2010 by David D. Birchbauer
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Of all the hundreds, or maybe thousands of books I’ve read, I've seldom read about the invention of anti-gravity. Anti-gravity has always been a dream of mine. Like all kids, I dreamed about flying, from watching Superman and the Flying Nun to the many sci-fi movies like Blade Runner and Star Wars. I always fantasized about how life and the world would be changed because of anti-gravity.
Through my years of college, I’ve been taught anti-gravity is impossible. I guess that is why it is seldom even mentioned in science fiction… sci-fi is about possible futures, not impossible futures. As I’ve aged, I learned that experts… teachers and scientists do not really know everything, and I now believe anti-gravity is possible.
This book is about people who don't believe the naysayers; it’s about people who don't believe the impossible is impossible.
About this Second Edition
Based on feedback from relatives, friends and customers, I have learned that the original first few chapters left readers confused, and to my surprise, a bit angry. Funny, my intent was that these chapters were to be light and fun short stories introducing anti-gravity along with the main characters.
Luckily (for me), everybody seemed to enjoy the rest of the book. This gave me a chance to do some comparisons between the two parts. I eventually determined that the beginning didn’t have a very strong story or time line; the source of their confusion. Also after some soul searching, I discovered I have a knack for blending multiple story lines that seem to make the read fun and unpredictable.
This rewrite was very difficult for me as I absolutely LOVED the original beginning chapters. I miss them. But at least I know they are still there blended into the new beginning.
So I hope you enjoy this new edition and please LIKE it (that is, if you actually like it) and add a comment, good or bad, as they are incredibly helpful to me (as for all writers).
Prologue ~ Gravity
The packed conference room smelled of sweat and cologne. "It's Alec Mc COUGH... Not... Mc QUE." Alec reminded for the 3rd time.
"Yes... whatever, Mr. McCoy." Alec glared at the heavy man standing at the head of the conference table, his sweaty bulk barely fit in his suit. A slight movement to his left caught Alec’s attention as his business partner Clay Matteson slowly stood. No one else seemed to notice until Clay rested his fists on the table and cleared his throat. Alec was always impressed by his ability to dominate a crowd with just a gesture. "We've had enough discussion, so it's agreed... 12 more months of funding..."
The man at the head of the table... Alec couldn't remember his name even though he'd known him for months now... shook his head. "You fooled me before, but now I see right through your parlor tricks." He grabbed the shimmering silver cloth from the table, crumpled it and tossed it to the floor. It began fluttering and swirling like it was stuck in a small whirlwind.
Alec reflexively grabbed the blue bug-like component from the table before the same happened to it. He then made a move to jump on the gravity blanket, but a look from Clay held him fast in his seat. "This is real. We've only had 6 months to put together a company, build a staff and develop a product." Clay gestured to the flopping silvery gravity blanket.
"I'll give you three months… three months… to deliver dividends on our investment. WE might be easy to fool, but you won't be able to get away with it with REAL customers." The fat man growled as he pulled out an overused handkerchief to wipe the sweat from his face. Alec made a mental note to make sure that the air conditioning is broke again for their next meeting.
Clay casually reached down and scooped up the blanket and switched it off by its small control box. "You’ll have your dividends… and more." He stepped to the open door and stood beside it signaling the end of the meeting.
The overstuffed investor stormed out first with Clay following close behind. Alec waited while the rest of the entourage packed up their laptops and papers before he led them out in silence. The only one that ever talked was their leader… Alec remembered his name now… McDonald… Mr. McDonald. The other people, his associates, always looked… somehow staged, like extras on a movie set; a beautiful secretary and 3 tall handsome men. All perfectly dressed… like storefront mannequins. They always made Alec feel like a 40 year old potbellied engineer… which was exactly what he was. “I wish you well.” The secretary whispered as she shook his hand before parting. Once outside, the secretary and the 3 men walked out to the parking lot where they squeezed into a small gray sedan while McDonald climbed into the back of a waiting black SUV.
After watching both cars exit the parking lot Alec looked at Clay. “So what do we do?” He asked as Clay handed him the blanket. “All this thing does is flop around like a newspaper in a windy city street.” He turned it back on and it began flapping in his hand like a freshly caught fish.
“I trust you’ll figure something out.” Clay’s smiled.
“What… toys, trinkets… parlor tricks?” Alec gave the blanket a shake. It slipped from his hand and began slowly flopping across the parking lot.
As they walked after it Clay said. “Look… what you’ve created is the greatest invention since electricity. Now all you need to do is find something useful to do with it.” Alec bent to pick the blanket up and a small gust of wind shot it up in the air before he could grab it. Clay laughed at his reaction. “What is it you wanted to do most with anti-gravity?”
Alec watched the blanket circle back down at the edge of their parking lot. “Fly.” Then as another gust pushed the blanket back up in the air he added. “Maybe we should get a car to chase it down.”
“Don’t worry. The batteries will give out soon… but it’ll probably get stuck in some trees first.”
Alec looked at the line of trees surrounding their new ‘office building’. “I don’t know how to make that thing fly.”
“Why don’t you make a flying suit out of it?” Clay asked.
“I don’t think that would work… It would probably tear the wearer apart.”
“Or turn them into one heck of a break dancer.” Clay laughed. His expression turned sour as he spied the black SUV returning.
“What? Did McDonald forget something?” Alec watched it as it drove straight at them with the summer sun glinting off its windshield.
“Hmmm.” Clay growled as the SUV pulled to a stop in front of them. Two muscle men in suits stepped out the front doors. The face of the one opening the rear door for McDonald was scrunched like an ugly dog. The other obviously wore a bad hairpiece. “Pug and Rug” Alec thought.
“Is there something else we can do for you?” Clay didn’t say it like a question.
“Mr. Matteson. Mr. McCoughe.” Alec noticed he said his name correctly. “I’ve been thinking things over and would like to make a deal with you.”
Alec looked curiously at Clay. His chiseled face was unreadable as stone. “Just what are you offering?” Clay replied.
“I want complete control of your company… GraviTych… I also want all rights to your patents, copyrights, intellectual property and other ideas pertaining to anti-gravity.”
“You’ve got to be joking!” Alec stepped forward. McDonald’s two henchmen stepped to block him.
Clay pulled Alec back. “You’re already a major stockholder… once we’re successful you’ll be rich beyond your wildest dreams.”
“Just take my offer.” McDonald wiped his face again as the late summer sun beat down on him. Alec thought he must be boiling in that black suit.
“Just what do you
“Money is no object. Name your price, all debts will be forgiven. Just sign the papers and go away… never to invent anything else again.”
“What if we said no?” Clay squeezed Alec’s arm holding him back.
“I’m not asking.” He looked at his two henchmen. “All you need to do is give me a price… and we… my friends and I, will go away.”
Clay stood to his full height, his muscled frame tensed. The thugs were wider but not as tall. Alec tried stepping forward again but Clay put out his hand. As Clay was about to answer, the growl of an old pickup truck clanking through the parking lot made them all turn. The driver’s head and arm stuck out the window, his smile exposing a mouth in need of orthodontics. He held the shimmering and wriggling blanket in his outstretched arm as the truck jerked to a stop in front of them.
“Ees dis yous?” The young man jumped out the driver’s side of the rusty pickup. The truck’s bed was full of tool boxes, ladders and all sizes and shapes of construction material and junk.
“Yes… thank you.” Alec stepped forward to retrieve the gravity blanket but before he could grab it, Pug stepped between them. Rug pulled out a gun.
“I believe you were going to give me an answer.” McDonald continued ignoring the pickup truck driver.
All attention was on McDonald when Alec heard the newcomer say “Oh sorree.” as Pug stumbled into him with the gravity blanket wriggling on his head. Alec quickly stepped back as Pug pulled a gun and began blindly waving it. Clay took advantage of the distraction and leapt on Rug who easily slammed him against the SUV with one arm. Before Alec could step up to stop Rug from doing anything else to Clay, Pug, with the blanket still wrapped around his head, flew past him and into Rug. Both fell to the ground in a heap. Alec looked back to see the newcomer awkwardly holding out Pug’s gun to him.
“Thank you very much.” Clay said stepping in front of Alec as he collected the gun. He was already holding Rug’s.
McDonald gave the stranger a good hard look… then turned noticeably paler. Looking at Alec and Clay he said. “It doesn’t matter. You realize that in 3 months we have full control anyway… I was just trying to be nice.”
“I thought you said we have 3 months to return some dividends…” Alec looked at Clay who frowned and shook his head.
“Your partner knows. Don’t you Mr. Matteson.” McDonald smiled. Pug and Rug climbed to their feet. Pug threw the blanket on the ground in front of them.
“What is it? Clay?”
“I believe there was a clause in the contract... I never thought much about it… something about return on investment penalties…”
“Very good Mr. Matteson. You see, we are very thorough with our contracts. Three months from now, we expect a fifty percent return on our investments and if we don’t get it, we get full ownership of everything. You get nothing.” McDonald climbed into the back seat while Pug and Rug returned to their front seats. “Three months.” He said out the open window before it slid shut.
Alec looked to Clay.
“Sorry… I didn’t realize.” Clay said after watching the SUV exit the parking lot.
“Don’t blame yourself… you weren’t the only one to agree to the contract. Besides, we’ve got three months to surprise the world with our anti-gravity.” Alec smiled then looked to the stranger who stood silently, curiously watching them. “We’re sorry you got mixed up in this, but you saved the day… and maybe our lives.” The stranger handed him the still wriggling gravity blanket.
“I’m Clay Matteson, this is Alec McCoughe.” Clay shook the curly topped newcomer’s hand.
“I is Eugene… ah Eugene… Landstroud. I glad to meet you Meester Meek Coff, Meester Madeeson.” Alec thought he seemed genuinely glad to meet them. “Ees dat your building?” He pointed to their offices.
Alec noticed how easily Eugene brushed off the previous conflict as he followed his stare. “Yes… yes it is. We just took it over a month ago. It still needs a bit of work.”
The old building needed more than a little work as half its windows were still boarded up. The eclectic building consisted of 3 sections. The one furthest from them was the oldest. It was the original 3 story grain mill set next to an old stream. It was made of river stone with a peaked cedar shake roof. Extending from its side was a large flat roofed, two story red brick section added when the building was turned into a school house, years later. The section closest to them, the section they now occupied, was the latest addition. It was built when the building became a textile mill 60 years ago. In Alec’s opinion, it had the most character; four stories, made of cream colored brick with large wooden beams and a peaked roof that mirrored the grain mills.
“I good at feexing tings.” Eugene said.
Alec looked at Clay, and as good friends do, made a decision without needing to say a word. “Would you like a job?” Alec asked. Clay smiled in agreement.
“Don’t you want… to eenterview me?” Eugene questioned.
“C’mon inside, we’ll show you around. We can talk.” Alec said as he turned off the gravity blanket.
They returned to the conference room. It was one of the few inhabitable rooms other than the engineering labs and Clay’s office. The smell of sweat still permeated the room.
“You make this?” Eugene asked looking at a floating wooden box in the corner.
“Yes… I mean not just me. My daughter helped… or… I should say… this wouldn’t have been invented without her.” Alec gave it a spin. The power cord hanging from it twisted tight and soon the box began spinning in the other direction as its cord unwound.
“You and your daughter…”
“She must be very… ah eenteleegent.”
“She is… talented.” Alec nodded as Clay smiled.
“Eees she work heere?”
“No, she’s just a kid, not even in high school yet.”
“So she not heere?” Eugene scratched his head and walked to the conference table where he examined the gravity blanket Alec tossed there.
“She’s here somewhere, its summer vacation. I think they’re exploring the building.” Clay answered for Alec.
“Yes, she’s with my daughter Sofie. They’ve been friends… well since they were born.”
“Sofeee. Dat name is preety.” Eugene said as he began smoothing out the blanket on the table. All the wrinkles and creases curiously disappeared as it formed a smooth shiny surface. “Dees is strange mateereal. What it made wit?”
“Oh, that’s what we call a ‘gravity blanket’. It’s made out of this.” Alec pointed to the floating box still slowly unwinding.
“Oh… the blankets actually made from thousands of miniaturized boxes… sewed together with a micro fiber.” Alec peeled up a corner of the blanket. “It sure is humid in here” he added noticing how it stuck to the damp table.
“You have no air condeeteener?” Eugene asked.
“It’s broke.” Alec shook his head. “Someone was supposed to fix it yesterday… but they never showed.”
“I can feeex it.” Eugene said as he curiously picked up the blankets control box attached to its corner. “what ees dis?” He turned the small knob clockwise and the table instantly collapsed like it was stepped on by a giant elephant.
A stunned Alec reflexively reached down and shut off the blanket. Picking the blanket up, he turned it over in his hands and then gave Eugene an astonished look.
“I sorree! I can make new table! This one ugly anyway.” A panicked Eugene began picking at the broken pieces of the table.
“No… no need to worry.” Clay laughed. “Alec… it seems that we found out how to use that blanket of yours.”
“I think so…” Alec stared at the blanket in his hands. He then gave Clay a knowing look “I know what I want.”
“You were asking me what I wanted with anti-gravity…
“Then we have a goal… 3 months from now… a flying car. We’re now in the flying car business. I’ll get busy getting more of these things manufactured.” He said pointing to the blanket in Alec’s hand. “But what about that ‘gravity inductor’?”
Alec pulled the blue bug-like component from his pocket and turned it over in his hands. “I’m not quite sure. Its theory of operation is completely different… I’m not sure exactly what it can do or how to make it do it.”
“So why did we spend so much money developing those?”
Alec shrugged. “I… I don’t really know.” He lied.
“Well then I’ll concentrate on the blankets… you get your team together and build that car.”
“I’ll feex dee air condeetineeng.” Eugene added dropping the table pieces in the corner. “Den I make new table.”
Clay smiled at him then turned to Alec. “I think we’ve found a new building superintendent.”
Chapter 1 ~ The Scavenger Hunt
Alec's Dream by Dave Birchbauer / Fantasy / Actions & Adventure / Science Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on16 votes