AVAILABLE ON AMAZON KINDLE….
CHAPTER I – WHAT’S UP DOC?
I sighed, threw off the covers and hauled my legs over the side of the bed. Sitting up, I opened my eyes to the sight of a six foot, orangey-rust colored, fuzzy-haired, multi armed and legged caterpillar, wearing bifocals, a white jacket, and a stethoscope dangling from around his neck. He was staring at me from across the room.
He spoke. “Hello, my dear. You’re in our sick bay. I’m Doc Grog. Glad you’re finally awake. How are you feeling?”
Words failed me. So I screamed.
He rushed over and patted me on the shoulder, and comforted, “Now, now… there’s no need to be frightened.”
Easy for him to say. He hadn’t just lost his mind.
“Why several years ago,” he explained, “we had one of your species appear right in the middle of our Annual Jitter Bug Contest. He took one look at us and passed right out.
“I spent many months helping him adjust and now he’s one of our best shoemakers.
“So you see, my dear, I’ve dealt with this type of situation before. Just put your trust in Doc Grog and I’ll have you up and about in no time. It will take a little orientation and so forth, but you’ll do just fine here.”
I closed my eyes and thought…hard.
The last thing I remember was lying all snugly in bed in my San Francisco apartment…alone…admittedly feeling sorry for myself, while I sipped French Vanilla coffee, sharing a special moment with one of my favorite books.
Of course! Why didn’t I think of it immediately! I must have fallen asleep and this is a dream! Or, more appropriately a nightmare. All I needed to do was wake up. Simple!
I shut my eyes counted to one hundred (ten didn’t seem like it was going to be enough), and opened my eyes again. Doc Grog was still there, ah… here. So was I.
I pinched myself just to make sure. This was definitely not a dream. I was, as the Doc had said “here”.
I gulped and squeaked a question.
“Ah, exactly where is here?”
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry,” he smiled. “How very thoughtless of me.”
I’ll say one thing for him, he was extremely polite. Under the circumstances that was somewhat comforting.
The Doctor continued, “You are in Beetlemania. We’re the third largest city on Caterpilleria. Which is the eighth planet in our little portion of the Cosmos called Glitter Galaxy. Which, in turn, is just to the right of your Milky Way.”
Well, that answered that.
Since I was on a roll I asked another question.
“How did I get here?”
“Oh, my dear, I can see this is going to take some explaining.”
This had better be one heck of an explanation!
The Doc removed his stethoscope setting it on the edge of the bed, folded six sets of arms across his chest and began his lecture.
“You see, your species is not very, shall we say, open-minded to the fact that there are many other planets and species living day-to-day lives billions and billions of lightyears away from Earth. Such a conceited lot you are. But every so often one of you lets the door open to that possibility.
“Sometimes it’s just a little thought, a question, a twinkle of a perhaps. When that happens, you start asking more and more questions, searching for something. Perhaps some answer; or perhaps a different or maybe more exciting life. After a while, those questions turn into wishes. Then those wishes turn into beliefs, and an overwhelming desire to see what you call The Wild Blue Yonder.
“Those beliefs then become so strong that your own thoughts transport you to another place.
“I don’t know why you begin by landing here. Do you and your species have a particular fondness for big, furry bugs?”
“No,” I again squeaked, “not that I know of.”
I certainly didn’t.
I thought about what Doc Grog had said. It was true.
I’d always wondered if there were other places different from Earth. Or if that was it…just one long, noisy commute to and from work, grocery shopping, clawing up the ladder hopefully to success, with an occasional movie, or rock concert, and a once-a-year mini-vacation – or if hard up, a staycation thrown into the mix– along with a broken heart to let you know the vastly insensitive and fickle universe still had the upper hand.
And if there were such a place, I’d always wished I could be there. Ever since I was little kid I’d wanted to be somewhere different, grand and wonderful, out of this world!
I didn’t think I had meant that last part literally. But then again, I wasn’t sure what I’d had in mind.
But here I was.
And, surprisingly, remarkably composed.
Perhaps I was in shock. Or, as first suspected, just plain nuts. But either way, I couldn’t just lie here.
Feeling a bit more comfortable, and willing to make the best of an unusual situation (an understatement if there ever was one), I said, “Well, Doc Grog, if you’re going to be my guide, I better introduce myself. My name’s Gloriosa Webster — Glo, for short.”
What can I say? My father thought I was glorious.
“Very pleased to meet you, Glo. Everyone calls me Doc.
“Let’s get you some food, some more rest, and then a little exercise to make sure all the parts thought-transported properly. Then I’ll show you around Beetlemania.”
CHAPTER II – BLACK IS BLACK
When we got outside it was redding. On Earth it rains, on Caterpilleria it reds. That’s because the drops are bright crimson. Doc told me it only dyes the skin or fuzz as the case may be, for a few hours. Just the same, Doc and I wore hooded redcoats.
The city of Beetlemania was quite the place. Red rain, green sky, purple clouds, one Sun like ours only much bigger, warm weather year round and a lot of people…make that one person and a lot of bugs. As we strolled down the pathways I interrupted Doc’s tour commentary.
“I don’t see any vehicles traveling about, Doc.”
“That’s because, my dear,” he answered, “we don’t use them. We thought-transport everything from place to place, including ourselves. All the inhabitants of the planets in this galaxy use thought-transportation.
“You see, these planetary species developed their minds instead of working on the technological side of things, as your people did, and still do on Earth. That’s one reason you Earth people seem so strange to us. No insult intended, but your thought processes are very infantile.
“For instance, you spend all your thought capacity figuring out how to construct a huge tin can strapped to hot fueled, burning rockets to transport your little, itty-bitty bodies to your Moon, and soon Mars, if your news is to be believed.
“And making artificially intelligent robots to do your work for you! Not to mention that some of them are built to be emotional support companions. The mind shudders to think what therapeutic advice one would get from a human-like hunk of semi-intelligent circuit boards!
“Oh me, oh my! I’m still having difficulty processing that!
“Just contemplating the mechanical complexities and the potential disastrous results of those elements gives me the fuzzy frizzles… they’re kind of like your goose bumps.”
A shiver went through Doc from his head through all his appendages. I could see his fuzz ripple as it made its way through all six feet of him.
“Whereas you could have spent all that time honing and fine-tuning your minds, as we did. If you had, you’d be able to zip here and there just like us — on the whim of a thought.
“You still could, my dear, but you’d have to stop putting all your intelligence into the gizmos and gadgets and began thinking for yourselves.”
Doc sighed, rolled his eyes, and shook his head. “That’s why we figure it will take you at least another billion years to reach our galaxy with a few exceptions like yourself.”
“Wait a second!” I gasped. “You mean your galaxy knows all about us?”
Doc again explained. “While it is a bit difficult for six-foot caterpillars to transport to your planet without going unnoticed, we do have another planet with a race that looks a lot like your people. They’re called Humanoids. They have three arms, but with a little fashion sense they can camouflage the extra appendage and pass for Earth people very easily.
“They visit Earth every so often and return with the latest updates. We particularly enjoy your motion pictures, and television.” He chuckled. “`The Wild, Wild West’ and ‘Transformers’ films were a riot, what with all the mechanical gizmos and gadgets. I haven’t laughed so hard in years.”
This was just a little too much to digest.
“You mean to tell me,” I gulped, “that you guys have been spying on us for eons, know all about our development, our space programs, wars, movies, books, foods, clothing, inventions, habits and we didn’t and still don’t have a clue?”
I must have looked a little pale.
Doc took me into a tavern for a cold glass of something strong, while he continued to explain.
“Glo, there’s nothing to worry about. We really have no interest in conquering your planet. We simply keep tabs on you so that we’ll be prepared when you’re finally able to make it to our corner of the universe in vast numbers.
“By that time we’ll have a program set up to incorporate your kind into a new way of life, peacefully. At first you’ll receive instructions, spend some time studying, and then participate in practice sessions to train you to think again. “Eventually, you’ll be able to thought-transport like the rest of us. Hopefully, with the passage of time, thought-transportation will be as natural to your future generations as driving one of your cars is now.”
I took a huge gulp of my drink. It didn’t help.
“Okay, Doc, you’re making this sound like Utopia. Business is done in a snap. Goods transported from one place to another without the need for fuel or the moving costs. All you need is a thought and a safe place to land the merchandise. You want to go shopping — poof — you’re there, right?”
“Yes, indeed.” Doc said. “And while we can thought-heal a lot of our small physical problems now, in the not too distant future, we won’t need any physical solutions to heal any damage our bodies may encounter. Surgery will be a thing of the past and drugs won’t be needed.
“Drugs, you see, tend to mess up our thinking,” he added.
“Okay. But don’t you guys have other problems? No screw ups? No political power-plays? No fights? No blackmail? Backstabbing? Wars? Not even a little shoplifting? No bad guys, at all?”
“Alas, my dear, I wish that were the case. We do have our situations,” sighed Doc. “There are those of us who use black thoughts to get their way. These black thinkers are the evil-doers, the thieves, the no-goods, the troublemakers, or worse, users of violence. They interrupt others’ well-intentioned actions and thoughts and try to screw up the whole works. That’s why we still need Thought Shields and the Thought Patrol.”
Some bugs dressed in black jackets with bright silver buttons nodded to Doc as we left the bar and resumed our walk. These bugs carried no weapons that I could see. Doc said these were the Thought Patrol. And once they apprehended a black thinker, it was their job to help him, her, or it, become a cleaner, healthier thinker.
This was done by making them fess up. They had to write down all their evil black thoughts, big and small, and contemplate the injury they caused and who they had hurt. Once they’d confessed all their dark deeds, the next step was for them to visit each individual they’d maltreated and repair the damage done. The hope was that by doing so they were more inclined to think cleaner thoughts and act accordingly.
But, as Doc also informed me this was sometimes a very long process and many a black thinker was still scribbling away after having already been at it for over twenty-three years. But, he’d said, they’re kept away from the general populaces of the planets until they demonstrated they’d become clean thinkers.
To say the least this was definitely mind-boggling.
I had thought-transported my way into a galaxy with giant, talking, hairy bugs, three-armed Humanoids, and a host of other species I had yet to meet. And I had no clue how I did it.
The idea that some of these over-developed mind wizards were evil thinkers that could and did cause a great deal of havoc did not make me feel all comfy cozy either.
I kept listening for the theme music to “Outer Limits”.
I’ve come this far, so I might as well get the rest, I asked, “What exactly is a Thought Shield?”
“Well,” lectured Doc, “as we developed our thought processes we simultaneously developed a defense mechanism against all others’ thoughts. So whereas we can thought-transport ourselves and physical matter, we cannot read each other’s minds any better or worse than your people. Then we figured out how to project our own thought shields into an energy field which we use to surround our possessions.
“The Thought Patrols also use their combined thought shields converted to an energy field to nab the black thinker. Once enclosed, the black thinker can’t thought-transport without a great deal of very intense thinking and severely scorching his precious hide. Some have tried and the results were not pretty.
“Therefore, to answer your previous question, we do not have much shoplifting. The last poor black thinker who tried it singed every last piece of fuzz off her body. Too bad, she was really a looker. Six of the best looking legs I’ve ever seen, covered in the silkiest mauve colored fuzz you ever saw.”
I brought Doc out of his dreamy-eyed reverie with my next question.
“Doc! Is there a way to tell a black thinker from a clean thinker or do you just have to wing it?”
Doc sadly shook his head.
“Glo, the only way to tell a black thinker from a clean thinker with any certainty is by his or her actions. I realize this is a rather sorrowful answer. The bad has to happen before you know you’re dealing with a constant black thinker and by that time some harm is already done.
“However, there are times you can just tell something doesn’t feel quite right about a particular individual. Kind of like the feeling you Earthlings get when someone on your planet scratches fingernails across a blackboard.
“In this galaxy, it’s like the electrified vibrations we get whenever, Cosmos Forbid, we listen to your Heavy Metal music.”