The Shimmering Ship
The Radio Rancher
Edited by The Radio Rancher
The Radio Rancher
Edited by The Radio Rancher
Author's Notes: This was my first story, and was written ten years ago, and was left unfinished. I have decided to complete the story, and while I am doing so, I am going to polish up the original work a bit, and correct some problems I have found.
I will leave the first version in tact for those who want to see it as it was originally written. I hope you enjoy reading this new updated version, and I do intend to complete the story.
Thanks for your patience.
The Radio Rancher
In this story, you will find some not so veiled references to some old and some not so old comedy bits, sneaked in here and there, but not all through the entire story. Let me know if you spot them. I only bring this up because I asked one person who enjoys the same types of comedy I do, and this person didn’t notice my little puns, so I warn you that there are some cute lines inserted that might possibly make you chuckle. Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
This story is copyright 20015 by me! That’s right. Just little ole me and probably shouldn’t be copied or distributed without my consent. Do you want to know why? Because I have a pretty nasty temper, when you mess with me. This is just a warning.
Disclaimer: This story is fiction. That means it does not pertain to anyone who really exists, or has existed, or may yet exist. Any similarity to persons living or dead is just my flaky weird spaced out mind making things up and has nothing to do with reality. This story is Science Fiction. The use of the word "Fiction" should also suggest that it isn’t real. OK, enough of that.
I want to thank the people who have been kind enough to read this story and have given me some pointers on how to fix some of my errors. Stephanie was very helpful in editing out a great number of mistakes and has helped me structure it better. She deserves a special thank you. Tom also gave me pointers on things to change as well. He is the person who suggested that I should learn touch typing, without which I am sure I would never have taken this incredibly long time to type this story. I seem to have written something that looks OK. I can’t believe I was able to write it. It still blows me away that it turned out as good as it did. The story is in my head and aching to get out and I am slowly bringing it to the surface. It seems to be working even with my mistakes in grammar and spelling, it still looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. Again, thanks to everyone for helping me, and a special thanks to Tim, for shaming me into doing it.All right, now let's get down to the story and have some fun.
It is the second half of the 21st century on the planet Earth.
Fred Braxton, a twenty two year old man, was never afraid to meet a challenge head on. He was six feet tall with short sandy hair and bright green eyes. He had been watching the ship and the "people" going in and out of it for a week. He wasn't sure why he was able to see it while other people could not. It had been sitting there in the wooded area near the high school, for at least that long, but no one saw it but Fred. It wasn't very large as spaceships go, but power oozed from it, you could feel its energy, somehow. People passing by would flinch or shiver as they came near the ship, and would look around, but they didn't see it. Fred thought it was very strange. The Aliens going in and out of the ship were "normal" looking, slightly shorter than the average Earth human, but all in all, just like everyone else. Somehow, though, the ship wasn't visible. How did they do that? It looked to Fred as if it were a holographic projection. It shimmered and pulsed, fading dimmer and brighter in a definite rhythm. You could see through it, yet it was somehow visible. This was so weird.
He had to tell someone about it, but who would believe him? Greg and Marsh, that's who!
His friend and schoolmate, Harry Selden, had introduced him to the two boys. Harry was Marsh's cousin, but now Fred was closer to Marsh and Greg than he was to Harry. He had a bond with the two boys. He could feel their minds, telepathically, just a slight touch. He could suggest something to them and they would react to it. He had done this before. He was sure if he planted the suggestion, at least one of them would show up here. He quickly drew a picture of the craft as he saw it, then he took a position near the ship to watch, and try to figure out what these "people" were going to do. There seemed to be no more than six of them.
If he could only get inside the ship, he thought, he might be able to determine where it came from, and what they were doing here. He watched carefully as one of them entered the ship, some interesting hand motions seemed to trigger the opening of the entrance portal. "I can do that," he thought.
He waited till the Aliens left, and then he tried to duplicate the opening sequence. It worked. There was an air lock, but, he noticed that the air lock was not being used as such, since, as he entered the outside hatch, he saw that the inside door was wide open. He stepped through the hatch. Now he was inside.
'Now what?' He thought to himself. It wasn't very large. It seemed to be the size of two large semi trailers hooked together, and it seemed to be lighted from all angles. The entire inside surface gave off a soft glow. It was beautiful. He noticed the navigational display panel, and he quickly copied the important figures on the back of the rumpled paper, on which he had been sketching. He wrote the word "spaceship" in one corner of the paper. He didn't stay in there very long. He didn't want them coming back and finding him inside. He decided to draw a map as best he could, from the information displayed on the instrument panel, and then he put the messy paper in the hole in the oak tree where the boys used to hide their treasures, when they were younger.
He thought with all his strength, in fact, he practically screamed in thought, to the boys, "Check the hidey hole." He hoped one or both of the boys would come and check it out. He had to stay there and keep watch on the Aliens, and try to find out what they were up to.
Later that day:
Greg and Marsh sat in Marsh's kitchen going over the paper for what seemed to be the umpteenth time. What did it mean? Greg had found it in their hidey-hole in the big oak tree that stood in the wooded lot near their school. It was in Uncle Fred's "hand writing", if you can call the wiggly hen scratches handwriting.
What made Greg look there? It had been years since they had used the hiding place. Now that they could "talk" to each other mentally there was no need to leave anything in writing anymore, but something made Greg go to the tree and neither one of them knew why he had the need to do so.
They were both geniuses. Marshall Manning was 16 years old, nearly 6 feet tall, 160 lbs, very well built and very good looking, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He had an I.Q. of nearly 200.
Greg Watson was only 15 years old, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, red hair and green eyes, he still had some baby fat but still had a decent body. His I.Q. was even higher than Marsh's somewhat over 200. That is why they were in the same grade.
"Uncle" Fred hadn't been seen for a week and they were getting worried. They always thought of him as "uncle" Fred. He was their mentor, their genius of geniuses. He had gone to school with Marsh's cousin, Harry Selden, who was in his 20's, but now Fred was more likely to spend time with Marsh and Greg than he was with Harry. Fred could build anything from parts or pieces he might have lying around, and could do things that simply could not be done by anyone else that they knew or knew of, for that matter.
What had happened to him? The paper was not helping. To call it a note would be stretching it a little. There were in fact words on the paper but they didn't seem to make sense and if they didn't make sense to Marsh and Greg then there was no way they would make sense to anyone else.
The word "Spaceship" was written in bold letters in one corner of the ragged paper and a rough drawing of what looked like a flying saucer in another corner and a crude map was in the middle of it. It looked as if it were pointing to a nearby star. Was it Alpha Centari? Well, that is what the boys thought and needed to figure out for sure.
"What else could it mean?" asked Greg. They knew they couldn't just sit there and do nothing, but what could they do?
The answer was simple; build a spaceship. Yeah right! Like two nerdy teens could build a spaceship and fly it to Vulcan to rescue Mr. Spock. Of course! Easy as pie. Or should I say PI. Math was going to be involved here.
"I hate math," said Greg.
"That's because you don't speak the language of math like I do," said Marsh.
Marsh could recite PI to forty digits from memory and multiply it by the square root of forty-two in his head and get the right answer. This troubled Greg just a bit, though Greg could strip a car to its individual components and put it back together all while listening to a conversation going on across the room and keeping track of every word. This bothered Marsh a little.
Their skills complimented each other, though. Together they were the perfect team. No one and nothing could stop them once they got an idea in their heads and they just couldn't fail Uncle Fred. They loved him and they knew they had to find him somehow. The problem just kept getting more complicated and the answer was not coming to either one of the boys.
Marsh's dad was a managing supervisor at an experimental lab for Leviton Research, one of those scientific laboratories where secret projects could take place without interference from prying eyes. Marsh spent a lot of time in his dad's lab.
The project that was currently being worked on there was a thin polymer material with extremely high insulating capabilities as well as super tensile strength.
Greg knew he could construct a small craft that could be used to travel into space and would be impervious to the particles that would bombard it there. He had all the tools to build it in his workshop in the garage. The map was so vague, though. The boys were not going to be able to find that "needle" because it wasn't just one haystack they needed to look in to, but a whole field of haystacks. They had to find the right haystack and then run the proverbial magnet over it till they came up with the needle, too bad that the needle was not magnetic. They would need to invent a magnet that worked on plastic, so to speak.
Marsh could do the math and design the shape and size necessary to build a ship. The materials to build it were available from his dad's lab.
What they needed and couldn't figure out how to get was a power source and an engine to propel the ship. While they were at it, they needed help trying to figure out exactly where to go and, in short, they needed someone that wouldn't just laugh at them.
Who could they trust? Uncle Fred was missing and he was just about the only person that they felt comfortable talking to freely.
"What about Mr. Bailey?" asked Greg? Gerald Bailey was their science teacher, the best they had ever had, and he knew all about propulsion, but would he listen to them and take them seriously? They had to try.
School had let out for the day and everyone was headed home, well almost everyone. Greg and Marsh knocked on Mr. Bailey's door.
If you were to see Mr. Bailey from a distance, you might search around for a blue police box and a robot dog since he looked remarkably like Tom Baker AKA the fourth Doctor Who.
"Come in, boys," said Bailey, "How can I help you?"
"We need your help," said Marsh. "Uncle Fred has disappeared."
"He left this." Greg said.
They showed Bailey the paper and the two boys told him how they had planned to rescue their friend, and asked him to help them prepare for the project.
"Ok, boys, we need to work this out together. Let me think about this." Mr. Bailey sat down and thought for a minute, then he said, "The first thing we need to do is figure out where he is."
"We can build the ship ourselves," said Greg. "But we need help with the propulsion system. Could you help us, please?"
"I will do what I can," said Mr. Bailey. "I need to study the map here and try to figure it out and I need to determine what method of propulsion we will use."
"Did you say 'We'?" asked Greg.
"Yes, of course. I have to go with you. I wouldn't miss this for the world," Bailey said with a chuckle. "Now let's get busy and figure out how we are going to do it."
Gerald Bailey had a great love of science and he knew that he needed to help the boys accomplish the rescue.
Fred was getting tired and hungry. He knew he had to rest soon, or he would not be able to keep his vigil. He decided to head to Jack in the Box for a burger and fries and his favorite drink, a root beer shake. He sat down to wait for his order and nodded off. When his order was done they called his number. He jumped up, grabbed his food and headed back to the park bench where he could watch the visitors.
He was not quite as careful as he should have been. He nodded off again and when he awoke, one of the Aliens was standing in front of him.
"Why have you been watching us?" said the man.
"I don't know what you are talking about," said Fred.
"Yes you do. You have been here for days. I think we need to talk. Come with me, NOW," said the man as he grabbed Fred by the arm. He was quite strong and he held Fred's arm tightly. They walked to the ship and entered.
"We saw you come in here yesterday and we were, to say the least, surprised that you were, not only able to see our ship, but enter it as well. You are certainly someone to be reckoned with. Now we must decide what to do with you," said the man.
"Will you tell me please who you are and why you are here?" said Fred.
"We are from very far away. VERY far." The man said grinning.
"I had guessed that much from your navigational display panel, and that doesn't really answer my questions," said Fred.
"Why should 'I' answer 'your' question? You are the intruder here. I think 'you' owe 'us' the explanation," said the man.
"Well, alright, since you put it that way," said Fred. "Your ship is parked here, it is not visible to most people, seemingly everybody but me. I guess you see it as well, and you seem to be hiding for some reason. I was just trying to figure out what you were doing."
"Well, if you must know, we are having some trouble with our ship." Said the man. "It is not responding to commands properly, and won't exceed FTL (faster than light) speed for some reason that we have yet to figure out, unless………."
"Unless what?" asked Fred.
"Maybe our anti matter containment field is dissipating anti matter into multi-dimensional space." Mused the man.
"Possibly," said Fred. "But wouldn't that cause the core to deteriorate and collapse?"
"Not likely, but we should run a diagnostic to be sure the field is intact." Said the man.
"By the way," said Fred, "I didn't get your name. What should I call you?"
The man standing in front of Fred was about 5' 7" tall, well-toned body and about 150 lbs and had light brown hair. He was average looking, resembling Tim Conway as he looked on the Carol Burnett Show, except for one thing; he had the most amazing piercing blue eyes Fred had ever seen. "I am called Bish," said the man. "What should we call you?"
"My name is Fred, Fred Braxton. Maybe I can help you with your problem. Perhaps your multi-dimensional stasis management module is damaged or misaligned. I noticed that your ship's cloaking device is pulsating and shifting from one level to another. It seems to shimmer. Could there be a problem with your power source or a regulator? If you will allow me to examine it, perhaps I can find the trouble and repair it for you." Said Fred.
"You would do that for us?" asked Bish.
"Of course I would," said Fred, "Why shouldn't I?"
"Well, for one thing, you don't know us and for another, we can't let you go back home. We are not from your world. You have seen our ship and security protocols will not allow us to let you leave," said Bish.
"Well, perhaps you will change your minds once you realize that I mean you no harm," said Fred.
Back in Marsh's Kitchen:
The boys talked things over for several hours and decided that they should go and search the area near the oak tree, where Greg found the note. They thought there might be clues they had overlooked, and they wanted to check it out more carefully. The two boys walked to the wooded area and searched the ground around the tree. They found a wrapper from a hamburger and a paper cup that had contained a root beer shake.
"I think we have a clue here," said Marsh, "I am sure these came from Uncle Fred. A root beer shake, that's his favorite drink. Look, it still has some liquid in it, so it can't have been here all that long. He might still be around here somewhere, but where?"
"Damn, did you see that?" said Greg.
"What?" said Marsh?
"I thought I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Something flickered or shimmered just then. Over there." Greg pointed in the direction where he saw the flicker.
"The sun is very bright from that direction. Let me put on my sunglasses." Said Marsh.
"Ah! Good idea." Said Greg, as he put his on, and then they saw it.
"What is it, and why is it flickering like that?" asked Marsh?
"I think their cloaking device is screwed up," said Greg.
"I bet they have Uncle Fred in there," said Marsh.
"Let's watch, and see what happens," said Greg. They moved slowly back to keep out of sight of anyone coming near the ship.
"Boys!" said a man who came up behind them. "I think you'd better come with me."
"W-w-w- why?" they both said at the same time.
"Well, I could tell you that I am the owner of this property and try to convince you that you shouldn't be trespassing, but you wouldn't believe me, so, I think the best reason would be, that if you come with me you'll find out what happened to Fred. He seemed to think you would try to find him," said the man as he put his hands on the boys' shoulders and slowly pushed them ahead toward the entrance to the ship.
The boys walked with knees trembling, and glanced at each other.
'Should we run for it?' Greg mind linked with Marsh and asked him.
'We'd better not,' thought Marsh, 'If we want to see Uncle Fred again.'
'Good point,' Greg thought. They entered the ship in front of the man.
Back in Marsh's kitchen:
Marsh's phone was ringing…. once…twice…five times. "Darn the voice mail is picking up. There's no sense leaving a message" thought Bailey.
"Now where are they? They said they would call me if they came up with any ideas. But that was hours ago," thought Gerald Bailey. Now he was beginning to worry.
The boys were amazed at the incredible array of instruments that gleamed at them inside the ship. The soft glow from all around them perfectly lighted the entire room. There were no shadows and no glare. It was beautiful.
As the boys stared, wide eyed at the spectacular sight before them, they heard a familiar voice.
"Greg! Marsh! You got here! I knew you would find me."
"Well, frankly, we had some help from him," Greg said pointing at Bish.
"Ah, so you met Mr. Bish," said Fred.
"He seemed to think we should come in here, with him," said Marsh. "He said we would find you here. It's good to see you. We were worried about you."
"What's going on here?" Greg asked.
"Our FTL drive failed and we were forced to land here to make repairs," said one of the other men that had not spoken before. He was nice looking with short medium brown hair and a slim body, and just like the rest of the Aliens, he was around 5' 7" and had those piercing blue eyes. "I'm Hack," he said.
"Fred tells us that you two are geniuses. He thinks you might be able to help us find the problem, or problems," said Bish.
"Well," said Greg, "we noticed that your cloaking device is varying in intensity, and shimmering. I have a feeling it will fail completely pretty soon, and then everyone will see your ship. As it is, anyone wearing Polarized sunglasses can see it just fine. At least we did, when we put on our glasses. Before that, there was only a tiny flicker from the corner of the eyes. You would miss it if you weren't looking very carefully. Of course, knowing what we knew already, we were paying very close attention. Uncle Fred had drawn us a picture of your ship, so we knew what it looked like."
"Marsh here is very good at math and Greg has remarkable mechanical skills, so between us, I think we can help you find out what's wrong," said Fred.
"Damn!" Greg said. "I forgot about Mr. Bailey. He is probably having a fit by now. We were supposed to get in touch with him and let him know what we found. He will be worried sick. I bet he thinks we have been kidnapped. I'd better call him and let him know we are alright."
"Right." said Fred. "He will want to help, too."
"He is our science teacher," said Marsh, "and I am sure he will be able to help find what's wrong."
"Ok," said Bish. So Marsh took out his cell phone and called. Mr. Bailey had been worried because it seemed to him that people kept disappearing, first Fred, then the two boys. So he was very glad to hear from them.
Marsh told him to come to the park bench near the oak tree. Then he and Bish went outside to wait for Mr. Bailey.
It didn't take long because Mr. Bailey had been in his office at the school. Bish and Marsh saw Bailey come into view.
"Here we are," said Marsh. "This is Mr. Bish. He and his men need our help. We told him we were sure you would help, too."
Marsh and Mr. Bailey both noticed that the cloaking device was getting even more useless. Now they could see a faint outline of the ship with the naked eye, if you knew where to look and were paying attention. It would only get worse. If something weren't done soon, it would fail completely.
They walked to the entry port and went inside.
"What brings you here to earth?" asked Bailey.
"Well, our FTL drive failed while we were passing through your star system. Your planet was the only suitable landing place for us, as we require an atmosphere similar to yours, to be able to breathe. We've been stranded here for several weeks. Last week we noticed Mr. Braxton here watching us and we decided to find out what he was up to. He was the first of your people to see our ship and he could see it without any lenses. He is not sure what allowed him to see it, though. He was willing to help us, but he said you and the two boys would help as well."
"Of course we will," said Mr. Bailey. "Is there somewhere we can get access to your error logs and a lab we can use?"
"Yes, of course. Come this way," said Bish.
Bish was obviously in charge here. He took them to a lab near the rear of the ship, which was decked out with every imaginable piece of test equipment. Bish told them to do the best they could to trace the problems.
Marsh was certain it had something to do with a massive power loss he had noticed somewhere in the system, but he couldn't quite pin it down until he noticed a very strange power signature. It was coming from outside the ship possibly on the outer hull. It was slowly, well not that slowly, now, draining the main power emitter.
"I think you may have picked up some sort of parasitic entity that is draining your power. It is somehow attached to your outer hull. I can't tell you how it's connected or exactly what it is, but it seems to be draining energy on the order of hundreds of terrawatts per second. At this rate, your power will be drained completely in less than a week and a lot less if what I am noticing, now, continues. It seems to be accelerating its rate of depletion of your power source." Marsh said.
"You need to conserve power. Only use it for essential functions right now. I would suggest you route as much power as you can to the cloaking circuits if you want to remain undetected," Fred said bleakly.
"We need a scanner that can detect a power signature like this," said Marsh. He showed them the unusual power signature.
"I think I can build something to do that," said Fred.
"I'll help you," said Greg.
They got to work quickly, and had something tinkered together in short order.
The two boys and Bish scanned the outside hull of the ship with the cobbled together scanner. There was a fluctuation in the cloaking field near the port nacelle, which quickly vanished from the scanner.
"I think we are going to have to shut down the entire power system and let this thing starve itself. That might stun it enough for us to transport it back into space where it came from." Bish said.
"There is just one thing, though," said Marsh with a catch in his voice. "Is it sentient? We can't just kill it if it's intelligent. We have to give it a chance to live. We have to try to communicate with it and find out what it wants or needs. Does it need all the power it is draining from your ship or is it trying to harm you? We need to know in order to decide how to proceed."
"I have an idea," said Greg. "Let's try to talk to it telepathically, like we do to each other, Marsh."
The boys sent out a tentative thought. 'Who are you and what do you want here?' they said simultaneously in mind speech.
'I am Delaren and their ship snatched me without warning, and it seems to have bonded me to their hull without so much as an 'I beg your pardon",' he thought to them. Only the boys and Braxton heard Delaren's mental voice.
'I am sure they didn't know that you were there,' said Greg.
'Where do you come from, Delaren?' asked Braxton.
'I am from everywhere and nowhere,' replied Delaren. 'My kind has existed since the beginnings of time itself and we are very long lived. We sustain ourselves from the energies of nearby suns. While I remain stuck here to this ship's hull, my energy is draining off so fast that I won't be able to sustain myself for more than a week your time. I need to get closer to your star 'Sol' isn't it? I can recharge from it and be on my way, but you don't have the ability to carry me there, do you?' he asked sadly.
'We could if you weren't draining power from the ship,' said Braxton.
'How long can you survive without draining power from the ship here' asked Marsh?
'I don't know,' said Delaren. 'But not very long I'm afraid.'
'Well, if you don't stop draining this ship it will be totally dead in a week or less, there will be no more energy for you to harvest from it, and you will die. If you can hold out and keep from draining any more energy from it, we can take you close enough to Sol to let you feed from it and you can be on your way,' said Braxton to Delaren.
He then explained the entire situation to Bish, and asked Bish, if they could take Delaren close to the sun, and drop him off. Bish was hesitant at first thinking about how much of a mess Delaren had caused their ship and crew, but as he thought about it, he realized that it wasn't Delaren's fault any more than it was theirs. It was agreed that the ship would transport Delaren to the sun and let him recharge. Delaren would then help the men recharge their power system as well. He would have plenty to spare and he could go back to the sun for more if he needed it. All in all, it seemed to be a fair exchange.
The humans and the aliens all thanked Delaren for recharging the ship, and Delaren thanked them for getting him to the sun. As the newest sunspot exploded, the people in the ship saw the most beautiful creature they had ever seen glide effortlessly away toward the far side of the galaxy. In their minds; Marsh, Greg, and Braxton, all heard the voice of Delaren say, 'goodbye and thank you! I will see you again. You can count on that.'
The ship landed quietly, back in the wooded area, where it had been parked before, and the four humans all asked if they could visit Bish's home world. A short conference was held, and it was decided that since the humans were responsible for saving their ship, as well as saving Delaren, that it would be only fair to bring them home, and allow them to meet the planetary leaders of their home world.
Before they left, Braxton took everyone out to eat at Jack in the Box, where they all had burgers, fries and root beer milk shakes.
End of part one.
Well we certainly have met some interesting people, haven't we? Will we meet any more? Well, probably. Stay tuned and be ready for some very interesting developments.
Comments gratefully accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org