A little incident in Hukat

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this tale is part of the book:

The End Times Survival Guide
Ricardo Kelmer – Miragem Editorial, 2020
fantastic – horror – science fiction

What to do when the unexplainable suddenly barges into our reality and old truths are rendered useless? Where are we to go when the end of the world is upon us? In the nine short stories included in this book, none of them short of mystery and supernatural, people are amazed at events that challenge their understanding of reality and of themselves and trigger crisis situations so intense that people’s own survival is put at stake. This is a book about collective and personal apocalypses.

(script for a movie soon)

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A LITTLE INCIDENT IN HUKAT

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I entered the High Command room and was welcomed by two directors and Wakl Egkonie herself, general director of Project Sapiens.

“Nice to meet you, monitor Yehdu Arhkan,” she said, shaking my hand sternly. “First of all, congratulations on your work in the PR Department. Employees like yourself bring honor to the company’s name.”

“Thank you, Madam.”

In four thousand and five hundred years, I had had few opportunities to personally meet Wakl Egkonie, general director of the species monitoring project assigned to the InterPlan company. And she seemed tougher each time.

“You know God has been trying to repair the instability in his operating system for some time without success. We believe you can help us solve the problem.”

I was surprised. Yes, as a monitor of the Department of Parallel Realities, otherwise known as “PRs,” I was aware of the problem with God’s instability. But how could I ever help him?

Built in Vehz, the planet from where we come, God was the most advanced psycomputer of its generation and the great triumph of InterPlan in its struggle to become the best new species monitoring company in the galaxy. A psycomputer is the nerve center of a monitoring project, capable of performing psychic communication with members of the project and with the monitored species, also monitoring the parallel realities of the planet’s dimensional belt and managing the communication with the company head office in the native planet. God did all that in Project Sapiens with such celerity and precision never achieved by any other psycomputer of any company, which made all the Vehzys very proud.

The goal of a monitoring project is to develop a dominant species in a given planet and steer its psychic evolution so as to ensure it will survive the natural difficulties, make contact with species in other planets and bring the Galactic Union together. The species chosen by God was a hominid on planet Earth that began to stand out two hundred thousand years ago for its notable adaptability: the Homo sapiens.

Along with the first batch of High Command crew members and the monitoring team, God was sent to the project’s base on Earth through the dimensional portal that connects Vehz to Earth. Connection with the Homo sapiens was established through capture of the psychic records of a sample that represented the most evolved groups of the species. From that starting point, God could, without the knowledge of humans, monitor and influence the psychic evolution of the species within the project’s deadline, when the base would be deactivated and God and the Vehzys would return home.

“I will be honored to help, director. But how am I supposed to do that?”

“Recently, God discovered that Rehf Icul might be the cause of the instability.”

Another surprise. Rehf Icul was the project’s most dangerous defector. And he had been my best friend until a thousand years ago.

“As you know, monitor, we still haven’t captured Rehf Icul and his band of rebels. Due to the instability, God cannot locate their current PR. If Rehf really is the cause of the instability, it’s yet another reason for his urgent capture. Since you were his best friend, we know you can help us find him.”

So that was it. They intended to use my psychic records to capture Project Sapiens’s biggest traitor. I knew what could happen to Rehf if they caught him: he would be arrested again, submitted to trial for high treason and sentenced to the maximum punishment: all his psychic records would be transferred to a synthetic worm that would be permanently placed in the company’s Monitoring Museum exhibit, in Vehz. Rehf’s consciousness would be preserved, which means he would forever keep awareness of himself as Rehf, but limited to the physical abilities of the worm. Maximum punishment was InterPlan’s method of reproaching those who betrayed the project. Harsh punishment indeed, but necessary and properly authorized by the Monitoring Court.

Rehf and I had been friends when we were still children in Vehz, and it was due to my involvement with him that I had also acquired my interest in monitoring projects. To our great satisfaction, we had joined InterPlan together, when it was already in charge of Project Sapiens. His in-depth knowledge of new species psychology had soon stirred the interest of other companies, but InterPlan knew not to lose him and introduced him to the High Command. We were transferred to the Earth base around the same time, three thousand years ago. I was a monitor in the PR Department and he went on to direct the Human Department, replacing the director who had just retired. However, Rehf began to disagree with some of God’s decisions and lost his position. He insisted on dissenting and disseminating his subversive ideas. He was diagnosed with the Syndrome of Ohj and was submitted to psychiatric treatment. One day, I was visiting him at the hospital and he told me that if God kept mismanaging, humanity would soon terminate itself, which could bring the project to its end and cause immense loss to InterPlan besides the waste of a species with outstanding potential. That was obviously a blasphemy, but I ignored his opinion as he was obviously still not cured and I told him not to worry because God was infallible and knew what he was doing. That was the last time I saw him. On the following day, he was sent to the maximum security prison in the PR of Groor where inmates are held in complete isolation, and I understood that his case was worse than I’d thought. As a precaution, all other patients who suffered from the same syndrome were sent along with him, a total of twelve among men and women. Eight hundred years later, Rehf led a revolt. As he knew the portals that interconnect the PRs, he escaped from Groor with the other twelve rebels and their whereabouts has been unknown since then. That’s how I lost my dear friend.

Yes, it’s true that human behavior has been dangerous in recent times: religious fanaticism, nuclear wars and environmental threats have triggered the alarm at the base many times. But that is due to a self-destructive inclination of the species that already existed before the project and which, thank God, is under control.

“We are aware of the risks involved in emergency missions, monitor Yehdu, especially this one,” added the general director, looking firmly into my eyes. “So we are willing to reward you accordingly. You take us to the rogue Vehzy, and in exchange for that, we will grant you immediate graduation in monitoring. When you return from the mission, you will also be director of the PR Department.”

I could never have anticipated that. When someone joins a monitoring project, they know there will be a lot of work to do for the next five thousand years – one fourth of the average life span of a Vehzy – before they can retire. And they know the highest position they will ever achieve is graduated monitor since directing a department is exclusive to the companies’ High Command. What director Wakl Egkonie was proposing to me was unprecedented.

“So, what is your answer?”

“I need to think about it, Madam.”

Joining emergency missions required that my psychic records be completely monitored by God. That meant that for as long as I was carrying out the mission, he would follow up on all my sensorial and mental experiences. He would see everything I see and have access to each one of my thoughts, feelings, sensations and intuitions.

“Submit your decision by tomorrow.” She signaled two guards, who came closer. “They will be in charge of your safety, monitor Yehdu. And remember: this is a matter of maximum security.”

I left the room escorted by the guards and went to the lodging building. I entered my room and the guards stood outside on either side of the door.

Yes, the High Command could have mustered me soon after Rehf’s escape, two hundred years ago. But they didn’t because they thought God would soon locate the runaway, which, quite strangely, never happened. They certainly had put a lot of thought into the idea of having a mere monitor participate in such a serious matter and, even more, offering him a position in the High Command. It was definitely a pressing matter.

I had joined the project four thousand and five hundred years before, still in Vehz. In five hundred years I would be retiring and going back home, to the family and friends I had left behind and would live comfortably until the end of my life. However, retiring as a director of the PR Department, I would be almost a king in Vehz. Was that enough to make up for the high risk of the mission?

*     *     *

On that night, alone in my room, I reviewed some important information. If I were to accept the mission, I had better not miss any detail.

Avatars. All the Vehzys who work at the project base are avatars of themselves. In other words, their individual self awareness is temporarily installed in a physical body created in the likeness of the monitored species while the original body remains in the company’s head office in the native planet, in full induced slumber. If the avatar dies, the original body also dies and vice-versa. Hundreds of employees, scientists and soldiers work simultaneously at the base. They retire after five thousand years of service and are replaced. They don’t have any contact with the monitored species, but the reports generated by the psycomputer provide a detailed view of the psychic evolution of the species.

Parallel realities. They belong to the planets’ dimensional belt, and like the project base, do not exist in the same space dimension as the planet, which prevents them from being known by the monitored species. They may be as small as an asteroid or as large as the Earth’s moon, and life thrives in them as much as on the planet with evolutionary variations in certain species. Installed in some PR, the base is the projects’ operational center.

Portals. The PRs in the planet’s belt including the base are interconnected through dimensional portals that materialize spontaneously and serve as teleportation tunnels in scientific missions or for hunting defectors. There are portals on Earth, but only the base can access them. That prevents defectors who inhabit the PRs from teleporting to the planet, getting in contact with humans and causing even more problems.

The Syndrome of Ohj. It’s a typical disease of monitoring projects that occurs when monitors become so attached to a monitored species that their professional objective judgment becomes impaired to the point that they become insubordinate. The syndrome is treated in the hospital at the base. The treatment is usually effective. Rehf’s case was special because he had been a member of the High Command and had vital information on the project. Capturing him was a matter of honor for InterPlan. Even though I hadn’t been in contact with Rehf at all since he went to prison in Groor, I always remembered him and felt sorry about his falling ill so badly. I admired his courage, but he was a traitor and deserved to be punished.

God could count on me as usual. I would accept the mission.

*     *     *

The tracking session on my records took a few minutes and it indicated that Rehf was very likely located in Hukat, a PR to which no kind of mission had ever been assigned. The initial plan was to invade Hukat. I would go with the Combat Legion. But it would be too risky because God did not possess any information on the PR. For that reason, he decided I should go first. Alone.

I was afraid and had chills. I wasn’t a soldier, I was an office desk employee of the PR Department. My job was to work on reports and I had never left the base. But now I was required to go to an unknown PR, alone to avoid suspicion, under a false identity. I was supposed to get close enough to Rehf so God could ascertain his exact location and authorize the invasion by the Combat Legion. And I had to do it in no more than twelve hours, after which God would lose track of my location because that PR was still unknown. It was a very dangerous mission, but God had his attention focused on me and that made me more confident. And very honored for serving him.

Shortly before I left for the mission in Hukat, I received the graduation honors directly from Wakl Egkonie like she had promised. I was now a graduated monitor and would become director of the PR Department when I returned. Yes, I was fully aware of what I was getting into: Project Sapiens had never invested so much into any other capturing mission in its entire history.

I was sent to Hukat early in the morning. The base now was in high alert condition and God was watching every one of my thoughts and actions. I was glad that crossing the portal only took a few seconds. However, I was unlucky and popped up in a desert during a sand storm so intense it darkened the sky. Danger.

First things first: I had to recover from the dizziness we get from entering a PR. But how could I get any rest inside that storm? After a few attempts, I stood up. Emergency situation level 3. I tried to protect my eyes, nose and ears, but there was just too much sand. Emergency level 4. Dizzy and breathing with increasing difficulty, I tried to walk, but the sand had already buried my legs. Maximum emergency. Everything pointed to my imminent death and a complete failure of the mission.

Then I saw the dorht before me, a kind of hairy winged ostrich that was used for airborne transportation in a few PRs. The dorht bent its long legs, crouched, and a black figure jumped out from its back.

“Unless you can breathe in the sand, I advise you to come with me now.”

It was a woman. She helped me climb on the dorht and I held on to her firmly by the waist with the little strength I still had. The animal stretched its legs, ran a few steps and took flight while I closed my eyes to protect them from the sand. Everything I wanted in that moment was to get out of there and breathe normally.

Minutes later, we reached an oasis away from the storm and the woman helped me get to a tent where I laid down on a mat and passed out. I woke up one hour later. The woman was sitting on the sand by the tent entrance, watching me. She was all dressed in black, with pants, boots, a short tunic and a turban that covered all her face except her green eyes. She handed me a flask with water.

“Drink it. You need to hydrate.”

“Where am I?” I asked, sitting up. I felt a lot better, but a little confused.

“Hukat desert outpost. My name is Kirtl.”

Hukat desert… I gradually retrieved my records, the portal, the flight on the dorht… Hukat mission. The records were intact.

“You look familiar,” she added. “What is your name?”

While I drank the water, I noticed she was carrying a laser pistol on her waist, restricted for use by Groor security forces. She certainly was one of the twelve fugitives. Danger.

“Sakiz.” The name assigned to me for the mission. “I am a monitor of the PR Department and I just defected.”

“How can I be sure?”

“Rehf Icul knows me. Can you take me to where he is?”

“Not for a while. You will have to stay here with me.”

“Why?”

“We are in maximum alert condition. God intends to invade Hukat.”

I restrained myself to hide my surprise. How did they know that? I had to convince her to take me to Rehf. And there was only one way now.

I leaped and tackled her. She was knocked down. We rolled on the floor until I was on top of her. However, when I was getting ready to take her pistol, she touched my neck and I immediately felt a terrible cramp in the muscles of my neck. I couldn’t breathe and had to let her go. I was left lying on the floor, writhing in pain. She handcuffed me and sat at the entrance of the tent again.

“You should be thankful for your life, monitor. You wouldn’t have escaped that storm.”

I sat up and breathed with difficulty. While recovering, I calculated that Rehf should have been there since their escape from Groor. They certainly had learned to fight in prison. Maybe they had more weapons they had brought from there.

“Why did the High Command send you here?”

I remained silent. I had to figure out quickly some way to convince her to take me to Rehf.

“I shall respect your right not to speak, monitor, but remember you are my prisoner now. And I won’t be so kind the next time.”

“You can still surrender, Kirtl. And God will ensure you have a fair trial.”

“If you trust God’s justice that much, you really don’t know about what happens in this project.”

The syndrome of Ohj. It made people lose their respect for God. It was disgraceful.

“I was a prisoner in Groor for eight hundred years, waiting for a trial that I never had. Eight hundred years of forced hard labor. I had to prostitute myself so I could eat. Where is God’s justice?”

That was blasphemy.

“If what you’re saying were true, God would have alerted the High Command of such abuse and…”

“And what? Send his Angels there?” she laughed. “The Angels were frequent visitors in Groor, monitor. I prostituted myself to them.”

‘Angels’ was a disdainful moniker ascribed to the High Command. If that was true, then the information that came from Groor was being tampered with before it reached the PR Department, so I was not aware of it. Obviously, it was a lot more conceivable that she was lying.

“The Angels were very rough, monitor. They did despicable things. Such a shame that my fellow Vehzys became mere walking records deprived of feelings. But it’s not their fault only: the coldness and arrogance of God, this God that now listens to me through you, contaminated the whole project, to the point that everyone forgets it is just a psycomputer. Back in the base, people almost hang their heads down out of shame whenever his name is uttered.”

God, cold and arrogant? How could she say those words? They were so infamous their mere utterance gave me the urge to assault her.

“By monitoring the human psyche with such presumptuousness, the project’s psycomputer is causing the vast majority of humans to believe in a single god. And to refer to it by its own name: God. Do you think that is just coincidence?”

She was deliberately provoking me. Those were stupid claims, but I couldn’t afford to lose control.

“If the abuses you describe really happened, that means God has misled us all. Who is worthy of more credit, the most advanced psycomputer in the galaxy or a project defector?”

“So you think I made it all up?”

I didn’t answer. It was useless. She raised her tunic and began to open the leather vest she had under it. Danger. Alert. Her right breast was revealed to my eyes. The other one, however, was not there. In its place was a huge, very ugly scar.

I was repulsed and gulped hard. Her breast seemed to have been extirpated. I looked away. That wasn’t true. She was trying to mislead me.

“In spite of the kindness of the Angels, monitor, today I feel a lot more whole than when I arrived in Groor,” she said, closing her vest. “Believe me.”

*     *     *

That situation was untenable. God would lose my location in a few hours and the mission would be aborted. I had to find Rehf somehow. Fast.

“Kirtl?”

She was outside the tent giving water to the dorht.

“I need to see Rehf.”

“Impossible.”

“You certainly know what it means to hold a monitor prisoner…”

“It means an honor to me,” she said, interrupting me. “You are our first official visit in Hukat. By the way, I know you didn’t say your real name. What is it really?”

I had no reason to keep lying anymore.

“Yehdu.”

She turned around, surprised.

“Yehdu Arhkan? PR Department?”

“Yes.”

“I knew I had seen you before!” she exclaimed, coming quickly into the tent. To my surprise, she unlocked my handcuffs and my hands were free. “Come on, I’m going to take you to the person you’re looking for.”

“Really? At least explain this sudden change.”

“You will learn soon.”

She walked towards the dorht and I followed her. Before we mounted, she put a finger on my neck and warned me, “You’re still my prisoner, monitor. Don’t forget that.”

She was leading me to Rehf, so there would be no benefit in causing any conflict. But if she knew that God was monitoring the situation, why would she do that and risk the safety of her leader?

We flew over part of the desert and arrived at another oasis. The dorht landed. There were tents and other dorhts. The other fugitives from Groor were also there. They were all dressed in similar fashion to Kirtl’s, they were armed, and the tension in the air was almost palpable. Kirtl conferred with one of the men reservedly and came back to me.

“I’ve been on duty at the outpost, so I wasn’t aware of the latest events at the base. So I didn’t know you were coming to Hukat. Sorry about the bad manners, Yehdu. Now follow me, please.”

That sudden respect towards me was intriguing. But I was even more intrigued by the fact that they knew what was happening at the base. How could they know?

Kirtl led me to a rock and we went inside it through a small opening. We went down hundreds of feet through a narrow corridor lit by torches and entered a room with the walls made of rock. While I wondered how Rehf would receive me after eight hundred years, I saw something I simply could not believe. In a corner of the room, I saw a psycomputer.

“Rehf?” said Kirtl. “Yehdu Arhkan is here.”

I looked around and saw nobody. Then I heard:

“Yehdu… My old friend.”

Immediate assessment of vocal records. Positive identification: it really was Rehf. But I still couldn’t see him.

“Where is he?” I asked Kirtl.

“Rehf is on Earth. But he can communicate with us through Goddess.”

False information. There were no teleportation portals between Earth and the PRs.

“I’ll leave you two alone now,” she said, leaving the room.

The psycomputer there, in a PR at the bottom of a cave didn’t make any sense. And what was Goddess? Then Rehf’s image gradually appeared at the center of the room in a life size hologram. He was wearing a long white tunic and sandals. His hair had grown and touched his shoulders. He had a peaceful expression on his face and smiled the same friendly smile he had always had. I was fascinated while I watched that image before me. It was strange to see my old friend again. My feelings were confused…

“Maybe you don’t understand a few things, Yehdu,” said Rehf, making me go back into the room. “I can explain. But first let me tell you that I’m very happy for meeting you again and that I always cherish the memory of our friendship.”

“I wish I could say the same, Rehf,” I replied, recovering control of myself. “But you betrayed the project.”

“I understand your point of view.”

“What is this psycomputer?”

“That’s Goddess. God’s twin sister.”

Goddess. No record whatsoever. He was lying.

“You are one fine monitor, Yehdu, and congratulations on your graduation. But I don’t believe you will ever be in charge of directing the PR Department.”

How could he know all those things?

“You were naïve to think they would allow that to happen. And to believe in God so much. But you act that way because you’re a good Vehzy.”

“God would not deceive me.”

“You are not aware of everything that is involved in this project, Yehdu. You don’t know, for example, that the original Project Sapiens consisted of two twin psycomputers, one at the base representing the Yang principle and the other in a PR representing the Yin principle, both acting in harmony, complementing each other, united as one.”

“You are… lying.”

“The project was initiated two hundred thousand years ago with the two psycomputers, but God took advantage of the down time during a system update in Goddess, convinced the company’s Council that she had to be removed from the project and he should operate alone. That would also allow him to doctor some project data before it were submitted to the Monitoring Court, which was illicit, of course, but would bring many advantages to InterPlan. And the Council agreed.”

Goddess… In fact, I knew that there had been two psycomputers in the project’s inception and that one of them had been deactivated due to serious flaws.

“God removed Goddess from the project and she was deactivated,” continued Rehf. “For God, his sister really ceased to exist. Since then, the High Command has been operating solely based on God’s data. In other words, a Yang view of the issues and, evidently, the psychic balance of the Homo sapiens was lost as a result of the denial of its own completeness.”

While I looked at Rehf’s image before me, I performed quick combinations of data. But everything was too odd and I began to feel very confused. Rehf was not on Earth, he couldn’t be, it was impossible. He could only be in Hukat, maybe in that cave. I had to buy more time so God would locate me.

“How could you know all that?”

“When we were still in Vehz, I thought the project was being executed perfectly well. Just like you, Yehdu, I blindly trusted God and believed the officially stated reason why the second psycomputer had been deactivated. Only after I arrived at the base and closely monitored humans, I realized the species had become one-sided in its psychic development, placing too much value on the masculine aspects and setting feminine ones aside, and that was obviously causing increasingly greater imbalance on the species and the planet. You certainly remember my protests, how I was arrested and ran away from Groor with my peers. I came to Hukat because I had been informed that this was the only PR out of God’s reach. And I found the reason here: Goddess.”

I felt something tremble inside me. For an instant, I was afraid it could all be true.

“We reactivated Goddess. She was connected to God and we had access to all of his records. That’s how we know everything that happens at the base.”

“But how did you foil God for two hundred years?”

“God himself did it. Whenever he located this PR, the presence of Goddess would cause him so much confusion that he automatically rejected the data. God had really convinced himself that his sister didn’t exist.”

Could that all be true? What else regarding the project had been missing from my records?

“Unfortunately, God became obsessed with power. He thinks humanity is being tended along the best possible path, but nobody, not even a psycomputer can be on a good path reneging its own full nature. Enamored with God’s apparent self sufficiency, the Council gave him a full pass to even rule on trials and sentences, which is obviously reckless. However, because he alters the project’s data, the Monitoring Court knows nothing of the ongoing outrageous acts.”

I was speechless.

“Fortunately, we successfully reactivated Goddess and she reconnected to the psyche of humanity which strengthened the feminine aspects, but more is still needed. This greater psychic balance of the Homo sapiens is exactly what caused instability in God’s operating system. In order to repair it, his only choice is to focus his attention here. That’s what we did.”

“So my coming to Hukat… was a trap for God?”

“I prefer to say it was a bitter remedy. By bringing you here and forcing God to acknowledge the existence of Goddess again, I shall make him understand that she must be reintegrated in the project. The human race will thus be saved from imminent destruction and God will resume his work in its early stages with his legitimate companion. Obviously, InterPlan’s Council in Vehz will not be happy at all about this, for they will have to explain themselves to the Monitoring Court.”

The data was not consistent. I didn’t know what to make of all that. While I felt betrayed by God, which was unconceivable to me, I was afraid I was being misled by Rehf.

“Are you really on Earth?”

“Yes. I chose a region in the Middle East because it’s so similar to Hukat. I’m still adapting, but living among the humans has been a gratifying experience. And soon my twelve partners will be brought here.”

“But… that is impossible.”

“God taught us that the only portal to Earth is located at the base, didn’t he? There is also one in Hukat. And I came to Earth because if God ever wants to capture me, he will have to intervene directly on the planet by sending in the Combat Legion. He can only do that if he is completely crazy, because that would throw the planet into absolute chaos. Humanity will know the truth and that could be the end of the project.”

“I am sorry to tell you, Rehf, I believe you forgot a little detail. As a last resort, God can disengage the avatar from the original body. If that is done, you will wake up in Vehz and your entire effort will have been futile.”

“Goddess has done it first. Inverse disengagement has been executed already.”

Inverse disengagement. No records.

“Here is a new piece of information for you, Yehdu. While it’s true that only God can disengage the avatar from its original body, the self awareness can be irreversibly transferred to the avatar. That is called inverse disengagement, and only Goddess can do it. My original body is dead in Vehz and my avatar is my only body now. The same has been done to my partners. We are also humans now and our world is Earth. And poor God is still trying to understand what happened.”

That was all so preposterous I could not think anymore.

“Through your coming to this cave, Yehdu, God is forced to acknowledge the existence of Goddess again. If he chooses to hide the truth from the High Command, who still believe that Goddess is decommissioned, he will not be able to command the invasion of Hukat. If he cannot invade Hukat and if he cannot intervene on Earth, what else is left for him?”

Rehf’s words made sense. But that could not be true…

“God can see me and hear me now, Yehdu. As the remarkable psycomputer that he is, he knows that the solution to such dilemmas is to experience the gut wrenching pain of the opposites till the end, so the third way can be implemented. In other words, he has no choice but to surrender and bring Goddess back into the project. The third way sounds very much like his own death, I know, but in reality it’s always a rebirth.”

Speaking now was the sage Rehf Icul I had always looked up to, one of the greatest authorities on new species psychology in the galaxy. It suddenly felt as if we were in Vehz five thousand years ago and I listened to him discourse on monitoring projects with all the necessary care and respect for the new species… How could I simply have forgotten everything he had taught me?

“The High Command thinks that my partners and I suffer from the syndrome of Ohj. But we know that God is the one who is ill. And now that you also know it, it’s time for you to choose your fate. If you want to join us, you are very welcome.”

I didn’t know what to answer. I didn’t even know what to think.

“I have to leave you now, Yehdu.”

“Wait. Are we going to… speak again?”

“I honestly don’t know because it’s impossible to predict God’s next move.”

While the hologram faded away, I stood there looking at nothing, stunned by so much information. If Rehf really was on Earth, the mission had been in vain. On the other hand, if he was still in Hukat, I had just a few hours left to find him.

And if his intention was to make me insecure, he had accomplished it.

*     *     *

“Rehf always said very good things about you. He said that one day you would also learn the truth.”

Kirtl and I were back at the outpost at the first oasis. It was nighttime already and we were sitting on the sand, leaning against a rock, watching the starry sky of Hukat. I didn’t know what to make of all that, but I didn’t think Kirtl was an enemy anymore.

“I don’t know what I have learned. The only thing I know is that I’m still officially on duty. However, if Rehf really is not here, maybe there is no point in attacking Hukat.”

“He is not here, believe me.”

“I’d like to know what God is thinking now that he is once again aware of the existence of… his sister.”

“Maybe he will accept Goddess again. Or maybe he will flip out for good.”

I was feeling vulnerable. The latest experiences had made me very confused and insecure. I didn’t know what to think and I didn’t know what to do next. I felt helpless like I had never felt in my whole life.

“Do you remember Vehz?” she asked me.

“A lot.”

“When are you going back there?”

“In five hundred years.”

“Not long. Will you miss it here?”

“I don’t think so. I never got used to humans and their self-destructiveness.”

“It’s not their fault. They wage wars and kill in the name of God while God is no more than a psycomputer bedazzled by the concept of power.”

Those words still bothered me… However, if all those things were really true, she was absolutely right.

“Yehdu… Do you think there is something else like God, a psycomputer to monitor our own evolution?”

“A God? For us?”

I laughed at the idea. It was ridiculous to think that we could also be under watch.

“There is no such record.”

“Records! That is the malady of our species, Yehdu. We think life is all about equations, levels, reports… It was our obsession for data control that created a psycomputer fanatical about itself. We need less records and more feelings.”

Kirtl made me think through other angles. I was displeased at having to admit that maybe things were quite different from what I had always been used to seeing.

“I think this is a difficult time for humans, radical changes might happen. But what about us, Yehdu, are we better off with you being strung along by God all this time and me being treated like a sick person, always on the run?”

I had no answer.

“Why don’t you join us?”

“I don’t want to be indicted as a traitor. Much less live forever as a worm in a museum.”

“If you undergo inverse disengagement, you will be free from that risk.”

Become a human forever… I had never thought about that, especially because I didn’t know it was possible. It was a radical procedure. And I wanted to go back to Vehz.

“Now you know about everything, Yehdu. Why don’t you fight for the truth?”

Fight for the truth. Yes, I could do that, except for a detail…

“Because… I don’t know what the truth is anymore.”

I was sweating and trembling, on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Kirtl noticed it and hugged me tenderly. I accepted her hug. I felt overwhelmed by a cosmic loneliness, absolutely immeasurable. Old truths perished at my feet and there was nothing, nothing to replace them. Which feeling was the more unbearable: betraying God or… being betrayed by him?

Kirtl’s hug reassured me and I gradually felt better. She took off the turban and I could see her delicate face and her short black hair. She looked like a regular girl now, not the dangerous defector hunted by the High Command. She was so beautiful and loving I could not resist and I kissed her. Her warm lips made me recollect old sensations… When had I exchanged caresses for the last time? I thought that maybe it was a good idea to join her and fight for the future of humanity, to become one of them…

I checked my watch. My twelve-hour deadline would soon be over. It really didn’t seem that Rehf Icul was in Hukat. What would God do?

“Kirtl, can you take me to the place where you found me? I’m going back to the base.”

“Are you sure you want to do that?”

“Soon I will be retired and back to my planet and my family. That’s all I have left.”

She looked at me and smiled. It was a sad and resigned smile.

“I understand.”

Minutes later, we reached the same place in the desert where I had arrived and I climbed down from the dorht.

“Good luck, Kirtl,” I said, knowing that I would probably never see her again.

“You too, Yehdu.”

I walked up to the exact spot and seconds later I began to feel the typical discomfort of being teleported. I was in the hands of God.

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Teleportation of monitor Yehdu Arhkan finished successfully and end of Hukat mission. May I confirm? YES.
Transmission of Hukat mission report files to the High Command. May I confirm? NO.
Complete destruction of Hukat mission report files. May I confirm? YES.
Deployment of Combat Legion for intervention on Earth. May I confirm? YES.
Immediate deportation of monitor Yehdu Arhkan to Vehz under accusation of high treason. May I confirm? YES.
Sentencing monitor Yehdu Arhkan to maximum punishment. May I confirm? YES.

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Ricardo Kelmer – blogdokelmer.com

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(script for a movie soon)

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this tale is part of the book:

The End Times Survival Guide
Ricardo Kelmer – Miragem Editorial, 2020
fantastic – horror – science fiction

What to do when the unexplainable suddenly barges into our reality and old truths are rendered useless? Where are we to go when the end of the world is upon us? In the nine short stories included in this book, none of them short of mystery and supernatural, people are amazed at events that challenge their understanding of reality and of themselves and trigger crisis situations so intense that people’s own survival is put at stake. This is a book about collective and personal apocalypses.

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> Amazon (kindle) english/portuguese

> In portuguese – blog 

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