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       Generations, p.1

           Francis Rosenfeld
 
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Generations
Generations

  by Francis Rosenfeld

  © 2014 Francis Rosenfeld

  Cover Design by Elan

  Discover other titles by Francis Rosenfeld:

  Terra Two

  Letters to Lelia

  Fair

  The Plant – A Steampunk Story

  Door Number Eight

  Contents

  Chapter One - Of Mermaids

  Chapter Two - Of Hyperspace, Magnets and Cooking

  Chapter Three - Of the Effects of Gamma Rays on Infinite Purple

  Chapter Four - Of Code, Chemistry and Music

  Chapter Five - Of Conversation and Cultural Differences

  Chapter Six - Of Being

  Chapter Seven - Of Life Ethics

  Chapter Eight - Of Love and Parenting

  Chapter Nine - Of Infinite Wisdom

  Chapter Ten - Of the Meaning of Life

  Chapter Eleven - Of Mentoring

  Chapter Twelve - Of Alchemy

  Chapter Thirteen - Of Here and There

  Chapter Fourteen - Of Useless Yuck

  Chapter Fifteen - Of Progress

  Chapter Sixteen - Of Lavish Indulgence

  Chapter Seventeen - Of Caramel Covered Blue Pears

  Chapter Eighteen - Of the Heart of Scorpius

  Chapter Nineteen - Of the Past

  Chapter Twenty - Of Dragons

  Chapter Twenty One - Of Feelings

  Chapter Twenty Two - Of the Wilderness

  Chapter Twenty Three - Of Vocation

  Chapter Twenty Four - Of Patterns

  Chapter Twenty Five - Of Reality

  Chapter Twenty Six - Of Flux

  Chapter Twenty Seven - Of Immortality

  Chapter Twenty Eight - Of Love

  Letter: To the Humon Cloud, Tagas Cloud's Secondary Inheritor,

  In Grace

  About the Author

  Other Books by Francis Rosenfeld

  Chapter One

  Of Mermaids

  "Don't go near it, Lily, you know we're not supposed to!" Jenna squeaked, alarmed.

  Lily smiled defiantly and stretched her toes to touch the delicate foam left behind by the ocean in its never ending rouse. Under Jenna's horrified stare she lowered her foot until her toes touched the surface of the water. It was warmer than she thought and had a dense, somewhat oily consistency, that lingered on the skin holding on a second longer before it dripped back into the ocean.

  "Wash it off, you're going to get sick, I heard it burns your skin if you leave it on for more than ten minutes!" her little friend continued, in a panic.

  "We're using the same water, silly, just desalinated," Lily thought, unperturbed. A little boy with a freckled face and pale blue eyes approached and bent down to touch the water surface with intense curiosity, trying to take in all its aspects through his senses: the water was warm, slick, very dense judging by the amount of refraction. The thick liquid made everything under the surface look blue-green and the water was so clear that he could see every detail as if magnified by a lens. The real sun came out from behind a cloud and the satellite started shining brightly again, dazzling in the coffee colored sky.

  "Let's go for a swim!" Lily sent her intent through the neural interlink.

  "You are not supposed to, I'll tell on you, you know I will, I'm going to call sister Sarah right now and you're all in trouble," Jenna started, bubbling like a little brook approaching a rocky bed.

  "If you do we won't let you know what we found," Lily thought. Curiosity valiantly fought prudence and won: Jenna quieted down, watching over Lily and Jimmy's shoulders, trying to capture the experience vicariously. All around them a little group of tanned children gathered closely.

  "What are you doing?" a familiar voice boomed from behind them, just as Lily and Jimmy were starting off into uncharted waters. Everybody froze in their shoes and quickly started compiling the most believable plan to get themselves out of their present pickle. Jenna would have liked to volunteer the commentary that she disapproved and was going to let sister Sarah know about it, but she got caught in Seth's gaze and figured she would be better off keeping her distance from the whole situation.

  Seth was still waiting for an answer and looked to the children for the inevitable made-up story but she had appeared too suddenly and the kids, whose imaginations were impressive under regular circumstances, didn't have enough time to concoct one.

  "Off you go, go home!" Seth uttered eventually, struggling to conceal a burst of laughter. "I told you to stay away from the water, didn't I?" The children shuffled swiftly on their feet and disappeared into the distance, relieved that they got away so easily this time.

  Seth crouched at the water's edge and caressed the glossy surface with absent gestures, watching the slow liquid span the length of her fingers, as if she saw it for the first time. She stared intently into the deep, through the water so clear she could see every spec of sand on the bottom. For all their efforts the vast oceans of Terra Two were still a big unknown. They had brought fish from Earth, of course, but it was raised in fresh water ponds on the islands, the natural water of their home world was tested and found too salty and rich in sulfur to accommodate life. She sunk her hands into a shallow tide pool and the liquid closed around them, creating slow moving swirls on the surface and dipping slightly around the disturbance.

  She advanced into the mellow waters carefully treading the bottom, one step at a time, trying to make sure the sea floor was solid before moving farther. Her shoulders tensed and her heart was pounding and she got angry at the thought of being afraid. She raised her chin and straightened her back and walked more decisively, failing to see the edge of the continental shelf in front of her feet and stepping into the void.

  Seth had never wondered if humans could sweat under water, it seemed like one of those situations that one doesn't encounter often enough to inform oneself about, but she got the answer to this question nevertheless when she was instantly drenched in cold sweat as she lost her balance and got pulled into the warm and very fast moving rip current running parallel to the shore. She could swim but knew that even the best swimmers are often no match to the power of the sea. Everything happened so fast she didn't have time to panic, the water was moving her along the shore, swaddling her in a dense network of liquid turbulence. Even if she tried she couldn't sink. The salty water pushed her close to the surface and the closer she was the faster the waters moved her, picking up speed like a sled down a steep hill. In less than five minutes their village was completely out of sight and the water moved her farther from the shore.

  "Sarah," she thought, hoping that the redhead or one of the other sisters had their neural interlink bracelet on and could hear her. Apparently this just happened to be the time when everyone decided to take a breather and be alone with their own thoughts for a change. It was only five and Seth had two hours until Vespers when she knew everybody would be in communication range. She still couldn't fight the current, she tried to move slowly towards the edge as she was taught on Earth but the viscosity of the water combined with the speed created a half pipe that threw everything back to its center. Seth could see several islands in the distance, the closest one she approximated to be about fifteen minutes away. She looked down to see the details on the rocky bottom which seemed very close though she knew there had to be at least a hundred feet of water under her by now. When she looked back up she saw the island zooming by and vanishing into the distance.

  "How fast is this thing?" she shuddered. "Good thing I'm still on the planet, with any luck by seven o'clock I'll circle the world and get back home." She tried contacting the sisters again, with no luck.

  The warm waters soothed her muscles and nerves while they carried her faster and faster p
ast islands large and small and a strange euphoria sunk in, making her giggle. The water was making her feet tingle and ran through her hair like a brush, over and over again.

  "A hundred strokes" she remembered, "who has time to brush their hair for so long every day" she thought. "A hundred strokes," she started laughing gently, carried by the current and feeling cozy and warm. "One, two, three, four,..." She started yawning. "Stop it!" she yelled at herself, but the brush strokes continued, tempting her to count them. "...fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen..." Her eyelids grew heavy and despite a titanic struggle she fell asleep.

  ***

  The suns were high in the sky when Seth came to, around midday. She was laying on top of a large palm frond on a small crescent shaped beach strewn with driftwood. At its edge, behind a row of coconut trees, started the plantings of what looked like a small farm. Seth could see the house in the distance and hear the giggles of a small group of children approaching.

  "Claude, Claude, come quickly, you won't believe what I found!"

  Claude approached as fast as he could, scrambling through knotted tomato chords and pumpkin tendril curlicues. "What is it, Jose?" They stopped in fear and awe at the sight of the laying creature.

  "Wow, dude, I found a mermaid!"

  "Don't get close, I heard they bite! Do you want to go tell your parents?"

  "Later. It has legs. I thought they were supposed to look like fish?"

  "Shut up, Thomas, you know they grow legs when they dry up."

  "Yeah, that's right, man, I forgot."

  They approached cautiously from opposite sides, careful not to awaken the sea creature. Seth kept her eyes closed and summoned all her will power to prevent herself from laughing.

  "Do you think it can hear us?" wondered Robert, a chubby kid with straw-like hair that moved with every breath of wind.

  "I don't know, maybe. Dude, it looks human."

  "Hi," said Seth, getting up. The little group ran away in wretched panic, trying to put as much distance between their tiny selves and the she-monster as they could.

  "Can I talk to your parents?" asked Seth in the sweetest, most persuasive voice she could muster, forgetting that mermaids were famous for their mesmerizing voices. The children got the confirmation that they were indeed in the presence of the mythical creature and froze in fear.

  "Do you think she is going to eat us?" asked Thomas with a voice so small even he could hardly hear it.

  "Can you tell me where I am?" asked Seth, gazing deeply into the eyes of the kid closest to her.

  The latter couldn't break eye contact, gulped several times trying to speak and then started crying with high pitched wails. Seth approached him gently to comfort him as the rest of the children watched her with pure terror, waiting for the imminent carnage.

  She pushed the hair off the little boy's forehead, wiped his tears and set him back down, bending to his level to make herself less scary.

  "Please, I am lost, can you take me to your parents? I really have to get back home," Seth asked sweetly.

  The little boy hesitated, then reached for her hand, despite the horrified gasps of the others, and led her towards the farm.

  "Tell me about your home" the little boy found the courage to ask. "Do you have gills?" he continued, with no regard for logic or consistency.

  A cascade of questions and comments followed: did she have to come up for air every once in a while, did she have an underwater garden, how come the water didn't push her to the surface when she slept, was it dark on the bottom of the ocean, were there a lot of other creatures down there, what did she eat, did they cook in the boiling water from the volcanic eruptions, how did they tell time, did she have any friends, did she go to school, did she get along with her siblings, and last but not least, what were her magical powers.

  ***

  By the time the small group arrived at the farm house the sisters were alerted to Seth's disappearance and were bombarding the airwaves with calls. Coherence got lost in the commotion and the leader was trying in vain to concentrate on one message or another while holding up the barrage of questions from the children and the somewhat awkward introduction to their parents. She signaled to the sisters that she was ok and will talk later.

  "Papa," little Thomas said, "we found a mermaid and she is really nice. Can we keep her, please?" he asked.

  Thomas's father looked at Seth and introduced himself.

  "Jules Roget, pleasure."

  He was frowning and smoothing his mustache, trying to assess how the stranger suddenly appeared in his back yard. As funny as the children's assumption was he had to admit that there was no way for somebody to show up on that beach without passing through the farm other than coming from the water.

  "I got pulled in a rip current, the waters can be pretty treacherous if you don't pay attention," started Seth politely.

  The farmer's frown amplified, carving a deep crease between his eyebrows.

  "Nobody comes from the water." he said tersely.

  "Where am I?", Seth asked.

  "71 49'45.21n 29 39'23.86w" Jules answered.

  "That's on the other side of the planet, they have a shuttle leaving for our camp in three hours," sister Jove laughed.

  "Do you remember those fascinating patterns we saw on the surface of the ocean when we first approached Terra Two? They are spontaneously forming currents, too bad we can't control them, they are very fast." Sarah chuckled softly.

  "You two do realize I will be back soon, right?" Seth retorted, annoyed that the distance didn't allow her to respond to the banter with one of her legendary stares.

  "Didn't we tell you to stay away from the water?" sister Jove pushed her luck.

  "Let's hope the children are not listening to these details," Seth sighed, resigned. "Now that they know they won't sink they are going to ride these currents endlessly and end up goodness knows where. We're going to spend all of our time fetching them."

  The children were of course listening intently, careful not to miss important details about the rides that sounded like glorious fun.

  "You wouldn't dare!" Seth addressed them, unconvinced. She raised her eyes and met the furious look of Monsieur Roget who didn't want to have this problem to worry about.

  Chapter Two

  Of Hyperspace, Magnets and Cooking

  Feeling the rush of water swoosh around her body sister Novis slid through the concave fluid track moving her right arm slowly, very slowly, careful not to spin out of control at that speed. The thrusters on her arms and legs applied a power differential to adjust for the change in direction.

  "Steady at 383mph, left turn, recalculating torque, approaching boundary...Full stop!

  Jimmy, what in tarnation are you doing here!?"

  Jimmy scooped himself out of the waves, reached into the watery surface and pulled out Lily's hand, followed by Lily herself. The children looked surprised at the question and stared at sister Novis with large innocent eyes.

  "We just wanted to try the new game," Jimmy said, apologetically.

  "It's not a game, it's a simulation!" sister Novis grunted. "Another half hour down the drain. Sister Roberta, why are Lily and Jimmy in the bubble?"

  "Sorry, dear," sister Roberta mumbled. "I must not have refined the brainwave scan enough." She readjusted the frequencies and applied another filter. "Ready to go!" she said.

  "StreamPath simulation, take 198 in 3, 2, 1." Sister Novis was back at the beginning of the track, thrusters humming.

  "How is it going?" asked Sarah, who had just stepped through the door and was quietly directing Lily and Jimmy out of sister Roberta's lab and towards the beach.

  "Don't ask!" sister deAngelis whispered, and judging by the look on sister Roberta's face the latter was at the very end of her frayed nerves, begrudgingly hanging on to a very fragile thread.

  "Stream speed 450 mph, Reynolds number 300. Linear drag, holding. Approaching boundary." The drag slowed her down as she approached the lip of h
er watery track and as she almost pushed past the slight indentation that marked the edge of the stream an unpredictable strand of high turbulence threw her back to the center of the half pipe and the speed jumped back to 539 mph.

  "Darn it! Full stop!" sister Novis screamed, exasperated. "We made it here through hyperspace and we can't tame water flowing through a pipe, it must be a punishment, I tell you!"

  Sister Roberta sighed, recalibrated the wave length modulator and restarted.

  "StreamPath simulation, take 199 in 3, 2, 1," she said, with the enthusiasm of a disgruntled camel.

  "Full stop!" screamed sister Novis. "I've had it with this nonsense, we're not doing anything else until we figure out why the turbulence is throwing me back. What am I, a human yo-yo? We could do this forever, even the kids got bored after simulation 143!"

  Truth be told, the kids didn't get bored, they followed Sarah's direction out of sister Roberta's lab, circled the building and got back in through one of the back windows, unnoticed. They were sitting on an old spectrometer table, quiet as little mice, careful not to draw any attention to themselves. They found the energy in the room exhilarating and were not going to miss it for the world, the grown-ups were doing real work, the kind of work kids weren't normally privy to.

  "The edge turbulence is completely random," sister Roberta apologized. "I tried every modeling equation there is and every time another random swirl pops up!"

 
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