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       Adam's Apple and the Infinite Regress, p.1

           L.G. Keltner
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Adam's Apple and the Infinite Regress

  Adam’s Apple and the Infinite Regress

  By L.G. Keltner

  Adam’s Apple and the Infinite Regress

  Copyright 2013, 2017 by L.G. Keltner

  Thank you for downloading this ebook. This book remains the copyrighted property of the author and may not be distributed to others for commercial or non-commercial purposes. If you enjoyed this book, please encourage your friends to download their own copy from their favorite authorized retailer. Thank you for your support.

  Cover Art by L.G. Keltner

  Table of Contents

  How This Story Came to Be

  Adam’s Apple and the Infinite Regress

  About the Author

  How This Story Came to Be

  I started blogging back in January 2012 because I’d read that blogging is a good way to establish relationships with fellow writers. It turned out to be a great move for me. I met a lot of great people, and I began participating in some great events. I joined the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, and that helped me to build my confidence. It gave me the courage to put myself out there.

  In 2013 I decided to join the April A to Z Challenge. The idea is to blog every day of the week (except for Sunday), and each post is based on letters of the alphabet. You start with A and finish with Z. It sounds like a simple enough concept, but coming up with that many posts is challenging. Still, I was determined to go through with the challenge. I just had to decide what I wanted to do and follow through.

  I saw other writers wrote serialized stories in previous years, and that idea appealed to me. Thus Adam’s Apple and the Infinite Regress was born. I wrote it and published it on my blog. Afterwards I intended to edit and self-publish it, but I didn’t. My confidence may have been improving, but I still wasn’t sure about self-publishing. What if people hated my work? What if no one read it? Those questions kept me from going through with my plans.

  I finally worked up the courage to start self-publishing my work in 2015, and I also started submitting my work to various anthologies and magazines. I recently came across this story hiding in one of my folders, and I decided to resurrect it. I’ve edited and tweaked it, and now I’m ready to send it out into the world. I hope you enjoy it!

  Adam’s Apple and the Infinite Regress

  The scent of thousands of decaying pages of legal proceedings, long forgotten in bureaucratic purgatory, mingled with fresh ink as new pages flew from the printers. The Federation’s Department of Universal Litigation and Lawyers, also known as DULL, had facilities on every member planet. The office on Dyntaxi Prime dealt with only the most grievous of crimes, and this was where the Magistrate, the head of all things legal, kept his office.

  When Adam Evans, a human male in his mid-twenties, was pulled from a relaxing bubble bath and handcuffed for the second time in his life (the first involving a horrific misunderstanding between him and a former girlfriend), he was shocked enough.

  However, when he arrived on Dyntaxi Prime and learned why he was there, his stomach nearly turned inside out. It took everything he had not to barf on the Magistrate’s desk.

  “You understand the severity of the charges,” Magistrate Bibble said. His bluish gray skin glistened with moisture, and his eyestalks twirled wildly each time he spoke. In fact, most people who came before him in his capacity as Federation Magistrate collapsed with vertigo long before any useful business could be conducted.

  The still-naked Adam shrugged as best he could. He couldn’t gesticulate all that well with his hands cuffed behind the metal chair. “Yes. Murder is quite serious, but only you would be crazy enough to charge me with murder under these circumstances!”

  Bibble leveled all three of his red eyestalks at Adam. “You won’t do well to insult the individual in charge of your fate.”

  He dipped his head. Though many in his situation might play nice, incredulity wouldn’t allow that. “She stole my apple. It isn’t my fault she took a bite and choked on it. You can’t blame her death on me!”

  “The instrument that led to her death came from you. Your inability to prevent it from harming others makes you liable due to negligence,” Bibble said stoutly. “If it makes you feel better, Mr. Evans, we intend to file charges against Ms. Newt as well.”

  “But . . . she’s dead!”

  “Death does not prevent one from being incarcerated, Mr. Evans.” Bibble smiled. “In fact, a dead inmate is preferable to a living one. The food costs are greatly reduced.”

  Adam wanted to scream, but he fell back instead on sarcasm. “Well, if you insist on applying the law that way, there’s an Earth creation myth that traces all of human sin to the theft of a single apple.”

  Bibble’s eyestalks went haywire. “Thanks for that information, Mr. Evans. I’ll be sure to look into that. Maybe I can file some charges in that incident. Condemning an entire race warrants the most severe of penalties.”

  All hope dissipated. Adam knew he didn’t stand a chance. “What’s my punishment?”

  “Mr. Adam Evans, you are hereby expelled from existence. You may keep your living body, but you have no name, no identification, and no sentient being is allowed to have contact with you under penalty of death.” Bibble aimed all of his eyestalks at Adam, and for the first time, he actually seemed threatening. “Have a nice day.”

  * * *

  Adam Evans, former member of the human race and the Federation, ate his last meal the following morning in a room the size of a walk-in closet. He’d finally been given a dingy pair of gray coveralls to wear, but only after several workers filed indecency claims against him.

  Though he’d already technically been expelled from existence, he had to wait for his guide. The guide would take him out to an uninhabited sector of the galaxy, explain the rules, and leave him to die a lonely, miserable death.

  The meal was a courtesy to keep him quiet. Unfortunately, it was composed of flabby bologna and hard, dry biscuits. No good food would be wasted on someone in his situation.

  He thought it could get no worse.

  So, when a young human woman with hot pink hair looking like a poof of cotton candy bounced into the room with a radiant smile, he smashed his head into the plastic table.

  “Good morning!” Everything about her oozed cheerfulness as she plopped into a chair across the table from him. “How are you?”

  Adam looked up, his forehead now marred by a red welt. “Just wonderful.”

  She looked intently at him for a long moment. “Something tells me you may be fibbing a little.”

  He glared at her, then raised his hands toward the unfashionable polka dotted ceiling. Normally he would have inquired about such a decorative choice, but now wasn’t the time. “Please kill me,” he implored the universe.

  “Don’t be silly,” the young woman said as she smoothed the wrinkles from her powder blue mini skirt. “Magistrate Bibble has already done that.”

  Adam covered his face with his hands. He felt an awful headache coming on. “Please don’t tell me you’re my guide.”

  “Don’t be silly!”

  He heaved a sigh of relief. “Thank goodness for that.”

  “Of course I’m not going to tell you something that isn’t true! That would be ridiculous,” the girl continued. “I may be your guide, but you don’t need to use any formal titles with me. You can just call me Ditz.”

  Adam would have laughed if the whole universe weren’t currently punching him in the gut. “That’s an appropriate name.”

  “Thank you! That’s what my mother used to say.”

  Wow, Adam thought. Where did they find someone this
dense? She makes solitude seem appealing.

  “Anyway, you’re lucky,” Ditz said conversationally. “The Magistrate could have decided to kill you. He had several people launched into the local sun last week. The Federation hates to make decisions like this, but if we didn’t have order, we’d have nothing. That’s why it’s important that you follow the rules I give you.”

  Okay. A side dish of baloney to go with my bologna, Adam thought bitterly.

  Ditz stood up. “We’ll go over the rules on the ship. First, I need to take you to medical so you can get your chemical castration done.”

  Adam nearly fell out of his chair. “What?” His voice came out two octaves too high.

  “Chemical castration,” Ditz replied casually. “Exile means you can’t do anything that might tie you to civilization. Since producing children would do that, celibacy is important. While it’s illegal for anyone to even speak to you, let alone sleep with you, that doesn’t guarantee it won’t happen. Castration will. The doctor will simply inject you with drugs that render you permanently impotent.” She giggled. “It’s no big deal, really.”

  “You’d think it was a big deal if it were being done to you!” Adam yelled. Of all the things they could do to him, this was the worst. He’d be all alone for the remainder of his life, and this would guarantee he couldn’t even partake in his favorite solo activity. “Death would have been more merciful than this!”

  Ditz grinned. “There’s no need to be so grumpy. Try to make the best of it!”

  Adam shuffled into the hallway behind his guide, and the fact that she skipped like a bubbly child only rubbed manure into the wound. He briefly considered kicking her, but he felt defeated. Trying to fight his way out might only make things worse.

  Then he thought about it. How could things be any worse? he asked himself. If I try to fight, a guard may catch and kill me. And compared to the fate I’m facing, that sounds like a lucky break.

  It still didn’t seem right to tackle this innocent girl. Ditz was exactly the trusting, gullible type the Federation bureaucrats would use to do their bidding. She didn’t have a clue how wrong this all was. All she cared about was doing the job she’d been hired to do.

  Yet even with that and all those years of being told not to hit girls, he couldn’t let her get him to the medical facility. Poised just behind her, he balled his hands into fists. It would probably only take one good hit to knock her down.

  A split second before he struck, three armed guards rounded the corner ahead of them. That would give him what he wanted, right? They’d shoot him if he made his move. A quick reaction to put him out of his misery . . .

  Even with these thoughts in mind, Adam hesitated. He’d never actually tried to die before. Living came so naturally to him. He lowered his hands, once again defeated, only this time by himself.

  When the guards raised their weapons at the two of them, he panicked. They know what you were going to do. They KNOW.

  “Hand him over, Ms. Garrison,” one of the guards growled.

  Ditz’s persona dissolved in an instant. “No chance,” she growled back. With a single movement, she produced a small, round object and flung it at the guards.

  The resulting flash left the guards in a heap on the floor and Adam at a loss for words.

  When Ditz turned to him, she wore a mischievous smirk. “Come with me if you want to live.”

  So that’s how Adam ended up following Ditz. What other option did he have?

  She pulled a sleek phaser from a holster hidden beneath her light pink shirt and held it out in front of her as she walked. Moving in a crouch, she looked like an animal about to pounce on its prey.

  “Ditz, what’s going on?”

  “My name isn’t Ditz,” she replied. “That was just my cover, and it seems they caught on to it sooner than I hoped. My real name is Layla Garrison, and I’m here to help you. If you want me to do that, shut up and do what I say.”

  “So you have a plan?” The embers of hope resurrected in his chest.

  “Didn’t I say you needed to shut up?” Though her words sounded entirely serious, her eyes glittered with amusement.

  Adam resisted the urge to speak. He didn’t want to give her the excuse to yell at him again.

  She whipped her head around, surveying every intersecting hallway for any sign of trouble. “Hurry up, bonehead,” she urged. “They’ll be sending reinforcements any second.”

  “I’m right behind you,” Adam protested.

  She gave him a dirty look. “I wasn’t talking to you!”

  He was about to ask who in the world she could have been talking to, but he was distracted when a warm sensation flooded his veins. The world faded as his molecular structure lost cohesion and swirled about in a beam of golden light.

  Adam’s rematerialized eyes first spotted a control panel with flashing multi-color indicators. A man in a jumpsuit sat there, and a moment later, Layla was walking over to greet him with pink hair in hand. Her real hair, a long chocolate brown that was slicked back into a ponytail, was much easier to look at.

  “Where are we?” Adam asked as soon as he found his voice.

  “A spaceship that’s about to break orbit,” she replied.

  Adam laughed. “I guess deus ex machina works as a method of escape.”

  Layla laughed too. “If you want to call it that, fine. I call it ‘George and the big red button.’ He just had to break through the building’s security to get us out. It all went according to plan.”

  “The button is more of a scarlet,” George objected.

  Layla ignored that comment.

  Adam sighed. Layla didn’t seem to like him at all, which would make this trip decidedly unpleasant. “Why did saving me become part of your plan at all?”

  “Simple.” Sitting beside George, she started tapping buttons. “There’s a lot of dreadful behavior going on within the Federation. Bibble is overstepping his bounds. After he exiled you, he announced that he’s considering exiling about half of the Sarcasian race.”

  “But Bibble is Sarcasian!”

  “True, but that only highlights how unstable he is,” Layla said.

  Adam’s face twisted in thought. “I don’t suppose he’d be dumb enough to include himself among the exiled, would he?”

  Layla snickered. “That would be nice, but I don’t think we should count on that happening.” Then she looked at George. “Course plotted. Let’s go!”

  “Go where?” Adam asked.

  She stood again and approached Adam. Her smile was almost seductive. “Our secret base. We’re collecting people to start a revolution, and you’re going to help us.”

  * * *

  Layla headed to the galley for a meal. Adam tagged along, eager to get something into his stomach that didn’t taste like it was fished from a sewer. Perhaps he might have liked better company, but anyone was better than Bibble.

  The galley wasn’t well stocked, but the peanut butter and jelly sandwich he ended up with was a vast improvement over his breakfast. “So,” he began after taking the first bite of his sandwich, “if you came to rescue me, why did you scare me so bad?”

  Her brown eyes glittered. “You mean that bit about chemical castration?” she said knowingly.

  “Yeah, that bit.”

  She dipped a plastic spoon into a can of peaches. “The room was being monitored, so I had to go through the normal spiel guides are expected to give. I hoped if I played my role well enough, no one would suspect anything.”

  Adam narrowed his eyes. “So you didn’t enjoy scaring me?”

  Layla shrugged as she brought a golden sliver of peach up to her lips. “I didn’t say that.”

  He’d forgotten about his sandwich. “So, what’s your story? I assume you wouldn’t be here taking these kinds of risks unless something happened to you. Were you exiled?”

  Dropping the spoon onto the table, she leaned
back and crossed her arms in front of her chest. “My story isn’t important. All you need to know is that we have a common goal.”

  Adam raised an eyebrow. “My goal is to get my life back if at all possible.”

  “That can happen if we get rid of Bibble and his friends in DULL. They have control over the entire Federation right now, using every means of legal maneuvering to get what they want. No one can stand up to him, yet that’s exactly what we intend to do.”

  “And how do you intend to do that? What’s the plan?”

  She shook her head. “I don’t think we can tell you that just yet.”

  “Why not?”

  “We need to know we can trust you with that kind of information,” she said simply.

  He snorted. “Why wouldn’t you consider me trustworthy? Do you think I’m going to turn you in? If I even tried that, I’d be killed.”

  “You never know what could happen out here.”

  As if that comment were cursed, George’s voice cut through the air via intercom. “Layla, you should know that we’re about to be captured by the Vaaldeens. There’s nothing we can do to avoid it.”

  She sighed. “Adam, you might want to get on the ground facedown and put your hands behind your head.” Then she slipped out of her chair and onto the floor.

  “Wait a minute! Shouldn’t we do evasive maneuvers or something?” Adam protested.

  Layla laughed. “You’ve seen too many movies. Besides, George has a foreshadower. If he says we’re going to be captured, we might as well accept it.”

  “A foreshadower?” Adam asked. “What’s that?”

  Before Layla could answer, George called back again. “Prepare for beam out!”

  * * *

  The story of the foreshadower begins with a young man named O’Cyrus McMillan. He lived in the Pemdas colony on the outskirts of the Federation, where he owned and operated a factory that produced the hottest fashion accessories of the time. Glow-in-the-dark girdles were his largest seller. For some reason, the rich women of the Federation liked it when their undergarments shone through their outer layers of clothing. Such displays were frequently used as ice breakers during stuffy social functions.

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