Chapter 8 (Sabastian)
Victor had a glimpse of the tall man through the capsule. What he saw was a man that looked to be in his 50’s with shoulder length gray hair. He had two deep creases that stretched from the side of his nose to his jaw.
As the man left the room, Victor, from his vantage point, saw a dozen rooms along the hallway. They were about 20 feet square in size with high ceilings. Except for the transparent walls facing the hallway, each room was surrounded by bright white walls. There were people busily working at the desks and tables that filled the rooms.
The tall man walked all the way to the end of the hallway and entered into a small room. There, he unclipped the capsule from his shirt and placed it on a table. Then he suited up with a thin, transparent protective clothing which covered him from the top of his head to the bottom of his shoes. He then clipped the capsule back on very gently and walked out another door that led to the next room
As they entered Victor saw a circular shaped room which was as large as a school basketball gym. In it were a few silver spherical objects that were 10 feet in diameter, with large windows along the side of the sphere. The tall man stood close to one of them and then touched it with a wide silver wrist band. Suddenly the door of the object opened upward. As soon as the man walked in, the lights inside illuminated. The tall man then sat down on a large chair and again waved his wrist band again, this time causing the door to close.
The man began to press a few keys on a computer panel in front of him. Then the door of the building which was closest to their spherical object slowly began to open. Victor felt a slight movement where he stood. It was then he realized that he was in some sort of spacecraft. Victor had never seen anything like it except in science fiction movies. As soon as it left the building, the vehicle gained speed. The view from the wide windows in the flying saucer became blurry, as if you were viewing the countryside from within a supersonic train.
A few minutes later, the craft containing the man and Victor arrived in a remote village.
Victor began to observe the surroundings from the capsule once they arrived in the village. There were no trees or flowers anywhere. The houses were in such poor condition that they resembled the slums of a third world country that Victor had seen on news programs. The view before him looked very gloomy, damp and decrepit. The street was covered in garbage everywhere he looked. The living quarters seemed to be flimsy shacks that lined both sides of the filthy, narrow street. How disparate and out of place the unpleasant scene seemed under the crisp blue sky, felt Victor.
As soon as the tall man stepped out from the flying craft, he was surrounded by strange looking people. It appeared that they were begging for something from him. The tall man bowed to them politely, but gave them nothing and kept on walking.
Street after street, Victor saw similar scenes. The endless slums, the people begging with their out-stretched hands. Victor soon realized something odd about the people there. They were all elderly men and women with long, tattered, colorless and dirty clothing. All the people seemed either disfigured or mentally handicapped. Victor was startled to see a man with short stubby arms. Another man, with his spine grotesquely twisted to one side, came very close to the tall man and tried to touch the capsule holding Victor. His hand was gently pushed away. The sight of one ghostly woman sent shivers up Victor’s spine upon seeing her. She was leaning against a wall. She was skeleton-like, her head was covered only sparsely with grey hair, a long drawn face and hollow eyes. Everywhere the tall man went, there were ghostly men and women surrounding him. Victor found it peculiar that there were no children, any young people, for that matter, among them. The people Victor observed were so strange that he began to wonder whether the entire scenario was real or if he was having a nightmare.
The tall man entered one of the houses in the slum. In it were a half dozen beds, all occupied by elderly individuals. Some tried, unsuccessfully, to get up to greet the tall man when he had entered the house. Every one of them had sunken eyes, grayish skin color and an emaciated body. They all appeared to be dying, by Victor’s quick assessment. After the tall man greeted them, he opened his bag and took out a plastic bottle containing pills. He took out the pills and walked to each bed and gently gave a couple of pills to everyone in the room.
They all nodded to the man as if they were saying “thank you” when they received the pill, perhaps too weak to speak words. Some had tears filling their eyes. Victor did not know what to make of all of this. This man, showing such compassion to these elderly individuals, was the same man responsible for putting Victor through so much pain a short while earlier. He could also be the abductor of all the missing children. As far as Victor was concerned, the man was the most heinous of criminals, not a saint. Yet the people there looked at him with the reverence reserved for true saviors. Perhaps he is a doctor of some sort, Victor began to think. When the tall man was bending over to hand out the pills to the people, Victor caught a glimpse of the man’s face through the capsule. The man’s eyes were filled with compassion.
Victor and the tall man visited more houses and the same merciful actions were repeated at each. After a few hours, he returned to his flying saucer, leaving the village behind.
When the tall man returned to the building, the flying saucer passed through a room that was filled with a thick mist. Then the tall man boarded the flying sphere back to the circular shaped room. Once it returned to its original spot, the man left the craft and walked through a small room filled with the mist. Then they entered another of the seemingly endless white rooms. There, he put the capsule aside and removed his protective clothing. The capsule was picked up again by the man and then taken back to the same room where Victor had been miniaturized. Victor was extremely apprehensive as he speculated on what might come next. Was Victor destined to be one of the old sick people or was he going to be trapped in the capsule for the rest of his life? Would the tall man give him an electric shock again to bring him back to his original size? Victor hoped for the latter. If so, however, that meant enduring the excruciating pain all over again!
As he wished, Victor went through the reverse process. When he regained consciousness, he found himself right back in the large room with the shiny white walls. A flood of emotions flowed through Victor. He was hurting from the pain of the process, but happy to be back to normal size. He was disappointed to find he was not back home, but back in the white room. Strangely, he felt safe being there this time even though he still could not fully understand what was going on.
A few minutes passed, and when the pain finally subsided, Victor began to hear a voice behind him. It was gentle and soothing. Victor looked around, but there was no one in the room.
“Victor.” The voice called to him.
Victor looked around again, but didn’t see anyone.
“Victor, you can’t see us but do not be afraid. We do not mean any harm.”
“Who are you?” Victor asked.
“My name is Sabastian. I am the one who took you to the remote village to see the Majority. I am a doctor.”
“Where are you? Why can’t I see you?”
“You cannot see me because I am standing outside of your room. This room was built so that our people may communicate with visitors from other worlds. We can see you, but you cannot see us.”
“What do you want from me? Are you going to kill me? Or are you going to make me like one of those men and women out there? Victor asked with a mixture of indignation and fear, bordering on panic, in his voice.
“No. Victor. We do not have any intention of harming you. The experiences you have had since you came here were necessary.”
“Those experiences were necessary? What are you talking about? You almost killed me. And…how do you know my name?!” His panic was turning to anger.
“We brought you into this room to find out exactly who you are. That is how we also found out your name. This place is capable of creating the visual memories of any individual. Instead of interrogating a person, we simply place a person in here and observe his most prominent experiences in three dimensional visions.”
“That’s why I saw my family in this room,” Victor whispered, his mind racing.
“Yes. Through observation of your past, we came to the conclusion that you are a good man. Your primary concern is to protect innocent people.”
“Why did you put me into that horrible shower stall and then into a small capsule?”
“We had to sterilize your body. Then you were temporarily minimized in size and were placed in a small capsule.”
“Why did you do that?”
“We did that to protect you and also the people who live here. That is done to eliminate any chance of our people being contaminated by any organism that you might be carrying or from organism that we might be carrying that could be harmful to you. We have to make absolutely sure that you will not inadvertently introduce any diseases when you return to your place.”
“The technology you have to shrink objects… I’ve heard of such things before, but only in one man’s imagination. I never knew someone actually invented it. Why was it kept secret?” Victor asked.
“Well, for now please think that you are not in your own country. Some of us here have brains advanced to the point that we can do what you would only view as wondrous things. Things you would only dream of in your world.”
Victor wondered which country came up with such advanced technology. Russians? Chinese? But then, he thought that he must only still be dreaming. “If this was a dream, why not dream about advanced technologies? I might as well,” he thought.
The man’s voice continued.
“We need you to understand what is going on in this place.”
“’In this place’? What do you mean? That doesn’t make any sense. Why did you really bring me here? Did you abduct our children, too?” Victor asked impatiently.
“We do not like to use the term ’abduct’, but, yes. We needed them here. We wanted them to understand what is going on here as you are doing right now.” Sabastian answered.
“Understand what?” Victor was no less confused than when this ordeal had begun.
“…understand what will be the consequences.”
“Consequences of what?” Victor was getting annoyed at Sabastian’s seeming deliberate avoidance of clarity.
“Those men and women.”
“What?! You are not making any sense at all.” Victor said in exasperation.
“In time, Victor. In time.”
“No, I don’t want to stay here any longer. I want to go back home together with the children you have abducted. Right this minute!” Victor demanded. “I’m an officer of the law. You have no right to do this to me!”
“That request, unfortunately, we cannot comply with. We need you to be here for a while. Please be patient with us for a little longer” Sabastian replied somewhat sympathetically.
“To do what?” Victor said, straining to regain control of his emotions.
“To observe and understand,” the voice calmly replied.
“So, I saw the disfigured. What else you want me to observe?” Victor decided to go into detective mode hoping to take some control and to start getting answers.
“The people you saw…” the voice began to explain. “Some of them are physically disfigured. Some of them are mentally handicapped. As you witnessed. And some… unfortunately, they suffer from both.”
“What happened to them?” Victor asked calmly trying to assert some command in his voice.
“What you should know is that they are the general population in this land. We call them “the Majority”. We – who are normal -- are the Minority. We are the few who were not affected by it.”
“Affected by what? A nuclear bomb? Was there an incident like Hiroshima and Nagasaki here? Did the government secretly experiment with the atomic bomb somewhere in the US, and we’ve never heard of it? Is that why they all look disfigured?” Victor quickly lost his professionalism and began to shout in frustration.
“No, Victor. No nuclear bomb was dropped anywhere so they are not suffering from radioactive poison.”
“Then what is causing all that?” Victor asked trying to control his feeling of helplessness and exasperation.
“Have you seen the long-term effect of drugs on humans?”
“Yeah, I see many drug addicts in Los Angeles. But the symptoms are temporary. None of them lost their limbs or mental capacity because of the drugs they used. Though some were killed because of an overdose.” Victor replied feeling like maybe the conversation was finally getting to a subject he understood.
“We understand. But you saw the effect on only one generation of people. Can you imagine what it will do to people through many generations?” Sabastian replied patiently as if speaking to a child.
“You mean to say that the ancestors of those people used drugs for many generations? How could they? I’ve never heard of anything like that. It’s impossible. Drugs became prevalent in the U.S. in 1960’s. If it’s anything, it is affecting only one generation.” Victor said.
“You are right, Victor. I know this is a very difficult concept for you, but you are not in the 20th century. You are in the 24th century.”
“What?! What are you talking about? It can’t be. How could I be in the 24th century?” Victor became very confused and agitated. Sabastian then said to him.
“We brought you here. We needed you to see this world so you can understand.”
“How could you bring me into the 24th century?” Victor was incredulous.
“We have the technology to bring you here.” The voice calmly stated.
“Jesus Christ! Am I still dreaming? I’ve heard about a time machine. But it was still the imagination of man in the 20th century.” Victor’s mind was reeling.
“You are not dreaming. You are truly in the 24th century.” Again the voice replied calmly as if speaking to a child.
Victor kept silent for a while trying to make sense of all he had heard to this point. He was trying to get control of his emotions. After he calmed down, he asked one question that had been bothering him since he had visited the village,
“I noticed there were no children nor young people among the Majority. What happened to them?” Victor asked once again trying to go into detective mode.
“You now understand the effect of the long term usage of drugs over generations, right?” Sabastian asked.
“Yes, they cause abnormalities and affect people mentally and physically.” Victor answered. Then Sabastian continued.
”There is another side effect from the drugs.”
“You mean to tell me all these people can’t have any children?” Victor asked.
“Yes, you are correct. The long-term use of the drugs also crippled the reproductive systems of the people here.”
“But your kind can have children, right?” Victor asked hopefully.
“Yes, but we are not the Majority. We are the Minority.”
“What are you trying to say?” Victor asked struggling to keep the confusion he was feeling under control.
“If we don’t do anything, human beings will soon become extinguished race. Victor, you are seeing the end of the existence of the human life on Earth.” Sabastian replied.
“You mean, the end of the world is coming?” Victor asked.
“Yes. Soon. Though our people can reproduce, we are small in number. We cannot reproduce fast enough. Soon the Majority will take over. Eventually, we will be gone, too,” Sabastian said with a touch of sadness in his voice.
“All the technologies you have, you can’t change the will of the Majority?”
“We tried. What you have to know is that nothing can change people’s will unless they themselves want to change,” Sabastian answered.
“I know that. But if they knew that the end of human existence is approaching, they have to care about it. They HAVE TO.” Victor replied angrily.
“Some of them have the knowledge. But those people also stopped caring whether they exist or not. Their main concern now is to have a supply of drugs, nothing more. Even though they are disfigured, they do not see themselves that way. As long as they are able to acquire drugs they can escape from their reality and they are satisfied. Besides, disfigurement is becoming so prevalent, they no longer see their disfigurement as different from others,” Sabastian replied. “Worst of all, they are not even concerned about having enough food for tomorrow. So many are dying from starvation.”
(Writer's note: Chapter 9 will be uploaded on Wednesday, July 15th.)