Back on Earth — Future Allies Meet
Kevin was wide awake the moment his eyes opened. He had heard the sound of large waves pounding ashore all through the night even though he lived on a small hillside garden farm several kilometers from the ocean. He had awakened in the gray light of dawn mixed with silver light from a waxing moon. Kevin listened closely to the crash of individual waves above the continuous roar of whitewater and knew from experience that the waves were huge. Kevin stretched and briefly thought about when his older brothers, Walker and Shawn, had taught him how to surf. They would jump at the chance to surf with him today but were instead way out in space. He thought also of his parents at the lunar science base but his mind was once again pulled to the present by the roar of big surf. He jumped to his feet, made his bed, stepped into blue jeans and strode excitedly into his small kitchen.
Breakfast was simple; a large scrambled egg burrito with avocado and salsa a neighbor had given him in exchange for some oranges and tangerines. Kevin turned on his computer and read over his work from the previous day as he ate. He occasionally made notes and referred to large stacks of books and periodicals that he pushed aside to make room for his breakfast plate. After checking his email and two hours of intense morning concentration he was ready for the day. Birds were singing in the warm early morning sunlight. Kevin stretched again and enjoyed feeling his own strength as the healthy young student and hard working surfing farmer that he was.
“Come on, Happy,” he called to his dog. “This is going to be a great day.” He rolled up his portable computer, slid it into its protective tube and placed it in his backpack, along with the latest work he had completed on his written thesis. Bread, cheese and avocado went on top. On the way to the car he stopped to picked some tangerines and add them to his lunch.
From the vantage point of the tangerine tree he could actually see the roaring whitewater of huge surf. He watched intently as the deep dark blue of an exceptionally large wave curled over and slowly crashed into roaring whitewater behind a row of barely visible palm trees on the distant beach. “Those palm trees would make an interesting painting from this view,” he thought, spitting tangerine seeds and peeling another. He marveled at the long and perfect lines of deep ocean swells that stretched to the horizon. Whitewater was even visible on distant islands far out to sea. Kevin felt a primordial surge of excitement sweep through his entire body, it culminated in a joyous hooting shout as he spread his arms to the setting daylight moon. Happy, the dog, raced him to the car.
Happy scrambled into the seat as Kevin unplugged the combination solar and wind power generator station before sliding behind the wheel of his little truck. He switched the joy generator on and pressed the forward pedal with his right foot. They lifted gently from the ground and floated slowly down the hillside driveway toward the main road.
The truck had once been an experiment of his father’s. People had turned to watch it quietly gliding the streets before the experiment had moved into mass production and general use. Now the little truck was not in the least unusual. Although still kittle known to the outside world, almost everyone in Pacifica now had one model or another. Roadways of Pacifica were being planted to a low growing grass that squeezed out weeds and helped reverse global warming by removing carbon dioxide from the air and sequestering it in the soil.
Kevin tended the family farm and went to school while his parents continued their experiments at the lunar science base on the moon. He had converted part of the road to a plant nursery and vegetable garden. The little truck passed over the garden without a hint of disturbance to the tender plants below.
Kevin turned onto the main road that ran curvy horizontal drive along the mountain range. He marveled over how this small farm truck had effected his life. His father, Will, had been disappointed when he changed his studies from mathematics and physics to political economics. But his mother, Leslie, a medical research scientist who had realized the medical applications of her husband’s researches into joy forces, had smiled broadly when Kevin explained himself.
“I am going to be a social doctor for a sick world full of countries that refused to use dad’s inventions because they might limit corporate profits.”
A small spark of a smile had crossed his dad’s face but it had been rapidly replaced by a scowl and a comment that it was probably too late and too big a job because people outside Pacifica were convinced by media propaganda to accept life-long austerity that reduced them to subsistence wage slavery working for immortal corporate monsters that are owned by ten or twelve people more wealthy than half of all humans put together.
Kevin smiled as he pulled around a hairpin curve leaving the big canyon that was his home. It was always possible his younger sister, Grace, would change her college major from marine biology and continue on in physics— that might make dad happy. He laughed at himself for thinking his sister would rescue him. Meanwhile, in reality, his thesis was progressing well and the view of the shoreline frothed white with mist from huge waves beckoned. He, the dog, and their little truck turned down the mountain and headed for school and then surf.
He remembered again the conclusion of that past conversation with his mom and dad when he had changed his course at school. He had asked, “Dad, why do you work so hard to make your inventions for people if they are causing global climate collapse and ruining Earth?”
His dad had grumbled something about the environmental benefits, Kevin had seen his eyes smiling through the gruff voice. That’s when Kevin had relaxed and said, “Me, too, Dad. Don’t you worry even a little bit! All the time I put into math and physics won’t be wasted and I’m always going to be here to help on the farm and whatever your next project turns out to be.”
Kevin also planned to stay involved working with his sister and cetaceans. This work with whales and dolphins had grown naturally from their close associations with the sea as surfers and sailors. Grace had been the one who first defined Pacifica as the Grey Whale Coast. Grace had also discovered the Salish Sea off Vancouver to be the capitol for all northern pacific cetaceans and named the capitol Cetacea.
Their parents were up on the moon doing their separate researches into use of the joy forces that hold atomic nuclei in a tight embrace that keeps them from blowing apart. He and Grace, were the only two in the family remaining on earth. He thought again of their two older brothers, Shawn and Walker; they weren’t even in the same galaxy. "I wonder what my brothers are doing right now," he said to Happy, who answered with a tail wag and a quick lick on Kevin's cheek.
Kevin and Grace’s parents, Leslie and Will Berrigan, had survived the purge at the lunar research center after the Pioneer fleet had defeated United States of Earth attackers and gone to find a new home planet. Ironically it was their dad’s application of the science learned to produce the joy powered truck that powered the departing spaceships. Making matters worse for themselves, both parents had refused to work on any project even slightly involved with military research and war. Even so, Pacifica had convinced the United States of Earth that his parents were too valuable to ban from further research funding. They had, after all, stayed loyal and not left with the pioneers.
Kevin quit daydreaming about the past and patted first the truck and then the dog, Happy, “Looks like we’re here,” he said. Happy grinned and wagged his tail to communicate obvious appreciation for everything on Kevin’s mind.
Their first stop was the pier at Butterfly Beach. Kevin and his friends had stood on the pier the night before and watched huge waves in the moonlight. A fisherman friend’s boat had been found crushed against a nearby cliff. After several days wondering what might have happened, they had gone out to the pier to hold their own private wake for their friend, Lamar.
The surf had become even larger while the small group of friends had stood out on the end of that pier to say their goodbyes. The giant waves seemed an answer from the deep. Larger and larger grew the black waves as they swiftly passed and crashed phosphorescent in the moonlight. The band of friends defied danger and danced with surfers’ balance on the farthest out point of the pier until a towering giant sent them racing with giddy laughter toward shore.
The pressure of immense waves passing shoreward under the pier slapped water skyward in the gap between each pier plank. Ruler-straight jets of water traveled the length of the pier faster than they could run. Wave after wave passed beneath them, shooting powerful head-high streams of gushing water up through the cracks. Denny, the lightest among them had been picked up off his feet by the force of the upwelling water and was barely caught by his surrounding group of his friends. When they finally reached shore, they were completely drenched. They stood looking back at where they had been and roared with laughter. “Goodbye Lamar!” they cried with one voice. And none could tell saltwater from tears.
Now, in the morning light, Kevin looked out at the pier and was surprised to see the outermost half of the pier was totally gone. Where they had stood was empty air. The monster waves had destroyed the pier after they left. He savored his memories of the night; Lamar was so much fun, so handsome and so smart that he sometimes made Kevin jealous, especially when beautiful surfer girls were around laughing with Lamar and his stories. Then Kevin took a deep breath; he and the dog headed for the university and a progress conference with his thesis advisor.
“Let’s take the beach route,” Kevin said, looking at Happy, who grinned in lolling-tongue agreement. The little truck lifted from the ground with a slight hum and floated onto the road. The dog wagged its tail and intently studied the road ahead. It was still early and there really was no reason to rush, Kevin stopped to watch the waves at all his favorite surf spots. They were all huge, as large as he had ever seen. The day was equal to big winter surf in Hawaii.
He had worked hard on his thesis and was confident his historical research into the collapse of the old United States of America would cause quite a stir in academic circles, hopefully beyond. He knew he was young and many would ignore what he had to say. It was for this reason that he so carefully drew parallels between the old United States and present conditions within the United States of Earth. The effort he had put into his research and writing had proven to be far greater than he had expected. Kevin sighed out loud knowing there was still more work to do before his thesis was finished. Sometimes it seemed too much for one person and he wondered if it would ever be done.
Today was the critique of the first reading by his lead professor, Dr. Jerry Karcz. Kevin was a little nervous but he had taken the day off from both farm work and research and large surf was a good omen; a little rest was due. He arrived and parked at the university more quickly than he wished. Parking and walking to his advisors office also passed in a flash. Kevin had a case of butterflies in his stomach as he reached to knock on the professor’s door.
“Come on in, Kevin,” he heard the professor call out. He entered a cluttered office that was piled high with books and papers everywhere. The sight made Kevin realize he needed to clean off the kitchen table before Grace came home for her semester break. “Good morning, Dr. Karcz,” he said, hesitating by the door.
“Sit down, Kevin. Relax, I’ve read through your work and find it quite good. There is more to do, of course, this sort of work is never done. Even so, I’ve taken the liberty to invite the national department of foreign affairs to assign a reader even at this early stage. Dr. Banyakya from their analysis division is joining us here. She should arrive momentarily.”
“Does that mean you like it?” Kevin asked.
“It’s not finished, but I believe you are on target. Yes.” Dr. Karcz replied. “Let’s examine some of the more mechanical aspects of the writing itself and wait to hear what a real policy expert has to say.”
Dr. Karcz tossed his copy of Kevin’s manuscript across the table. Kevin fanned the pages and saw red ink just about everywhere. “This thing is almost four centimeters thick,” he said, “judging from the amount of red I see, we could be here for hours.”
“No, no” Dr. Karcz responded. “I wrote many questions that came to mind as I read it over. Some were actually answered further along and others are just there for you to consider. I think most of my editorial comments will be clear when you have time to go through them.” He rose to a knock at the door. “That must be Dr. Banyakya. I’ll open the door for her.”
Kevin turned back to examining the notations written on virtually every page of his thesis. He was just starting to concentrate when he heard something in the tone of Dr. Karcz’s voice that caused him to turn and look.
His heart skipped a beat to his second primordial moment of the day— he was looking into the most beautiful dark brown eyes he had ever seen. Dr. Banyakya was his own age, possibly even slightly younger. Her skin was a beautiful shade of Honduran brown tinged with the blush of a peach. The doctor was a California beach girl of staggering beauty. Kevin bolted to his feet while attempting to appear casual and undisturbed. He saw her eyes flash over him before she smiled and walked toward him with her hand out.
“You must be Kevin Berrigan,” she said, “I am Leona Banyakya. I asked Dr. Karcz if I could be here for a brief introduction after he so graciously sent a copy of your thesis draft to our office.”
Kevin’s brain slowly caught up with her words. He watched his hand reach out and shake hers. She looked straight into his eyes before glancing down and then to Dr. Karcz.
Kevin found himself looking close up at a beautiful face with perfect skin. Her hair was so black it reflected light. She wasn’t wearing any makeup at all. “I’ll get you a chair,” he said. She looked back at him with a smile and said, “Thank you.” Her voice was as beautiful as the rest of her.
Dr. Karcz took his seat across the table from Kevin and Leona. He looked at two of the most striking human specimens he’d had in his office in many years, maybe ever. Then he turned his attention to Leona, “From the tone of our correspondence, I presumed you closer to my ripe old age,” he said.
“Thank you,” she responded. “I’ve actually been doing this type of work for quite a few years as a helper with my grandfather’s writings. He worked as an analyst in my department as a young man.”
“Oh?” Dr. Karcz responded. “What is his name? Maybe I know him.”
“Javier Banyakya. He was a wonderful man.”
“The Javier Banyakya?” Kevin and Dr. Karcz both asked.
“Yes. My grandfather was the one who proposed monetary reforms that led to our nation, Pacifica, adopting his eco-monetary unit,” Leona answered.
“I’m honored to meet you,” Dr. Karcz said. “We were all saddened to lose such a great mind when he died so suddenly and unexpectedly.”
Leona’s smile clouded. “Perhaps the mystery of it will be cleared up someday,” she said.
“Mystery?” Dr. Karcz asked.
“Our family has never been satisfied by the conflicting explanations given to us by the United States,” Leona answered quietly. “His later works were especially resisted there,” she continued. “My grandmother also died in the fire. Everyone asked them not to go but grandfather insisted. He said his newest work applying artificial intelligence to an environmental transaction price along with caloric currency valuation and standard accounting would change economic relationships with Earth for the better. I will not rest until justice is answered.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your grandmother, too” Kevin said.
“Your grandmother’s piano recitals are among my most favorite musical works,” Dr. Karcz said through gritted teeth, “If there was foul play of some kind, I certainly hope the truth will eventually come out.
“Now,” the professor continued, “please tell us why such a high level foreign policy department requested your attendance at Kevin’s preliminary thesis review.”
“Okay.” Leona responded, “Here it is, in a nutshell. The department has become concerned about the future stability of the United States of Earth. Kevin’s work compares problems we see today in the United States of Earth and the collapse of the old United States of America, along with its nemesis, the Soviet Union.
“As you can well imagine, we wish to be as prepared as possible for such a large event as a bordering nation’s collapse. The department wants Kevin to work for us while he finishes his thesis. If he accepts, I am to be his primary contact and liaison for information flows within the department of foreign relations.”
Kevin was ecstatic. “Are you saying I’m going to be paid to finish my thesis and you are going to help me write it?”
Leona laughed. “Yes and no but not exactly,” she answered.
“Then what exactly do you mean?” Kevin asked. He found that he couldn't sit still and concentrate while looking straight into her eyes so he jumped to his feet and began pacing.
“You will be paid as a full-time analyst and work from your home according to your usual schedule,” Leona said. “Dr. Karcz will continue as your scholastic advisor and, should you accept the position, I will monitor your work quite closely and relay specific questions about it from the international relations department staff. Dr. Karcz has taught you well, Kevin, you’re the only person so far who has so thoroughly explored this area of our nation’s vital interest.”
Then she giggled, “My last sentence was personally written by the Secretary of State and I memorized it.”
“Wow!” Kevin responded. “When do I start?”
“There is extreme urgency to this,” Leona said. “When would you like to start?”
Kevin thought of Happy dog waiting patiently in the truck, and the huge surf pounding the shore. “How about tomorrow?” he asked.
“That’s what we hoped you would say,” Leona replied. “I’ve kept my day clear. Would you like to go over some of the preliminary areas of interest later this afternoon?”
“Hmm," Kevin pondered. "I don’t suppose it’s easy for you to free up time and travel here like this.” He mused. Then he smiled. “I’ve promised myself a one-day vacation. The surf is mongo huge. Can we do it at the beach?”
“Let’s go,” she said.
Dr. Karcz stood up from behind his desk and showed them to the door. "I'm looking forward to this," he said, smiling and shaking first Leona's hand and then Kevin's; "I am so glad to be part of the adventure." He clapped his own hands in anticipation as he closed the door on his old life and gazed ahead at something exciting and new. “Youth is not wasted on the young,” he said aloud as he leaned one hand on his desk and then jumped a tiny bit stiffly while clicking his heals. He cheered purposefully as he did it and heard their contagious youthful zest still alive within himself.
continue to Chapter 7