Invasion of the Body Snatchers or What Happened to My Wife

Invasion of the Body Snatchers or What happened to my Wife

Invasion of the Body Snatchers – I’ve seen both versions of this sci-fi opus. And have a particular fondness for the seminal version. There is something about the black and white medium, that seems, well, more real. And more horrifying. Perhaps it’s a state in which it is more easy to deny the proof of your eyes.  You saw it, but did you really see it. And what you don’t see is what truly terrifies you. Your imagination steps in and magnifies ideas that were only pinpoints into voracious thoughts, filling your consciousness and crowding out all else.

We probably saw it on TV originally, but it only made its best impact in that venue of our film education, the Harvard Exit. Seeing it on TV with interruptions for car or Alka Seltzer ads every ten minutes can seriously dilute the effect of the tension. So with those distractions out of the way, we were right there with the protagonist Kevin McCarthy as he tries to cope with the rising fear that the people he is helping, really are fearful for good reason that their friends and loved ones have been replaced by something eerily like them, but ultimately not them at all.

I had a similar real-life experience recently. At Winco of all places.

Once a week we forage for our weekly provisions at our friendly neighborhood Cubfoods, I mean Winco. We each have our duties.  Karen has made her list and I push the cart. I can pull a can off the shelf and put it in the cart, but she has to make the more expert judgement when it comes to which cut of chicken or steak to buy. We travel a well worn path throughout the store, which always culminates at that toll booth, the checkout stand.

We share in the chore of moving our catch from the basket to the conveyor belt, but that task complete, we take up our unique duties. While she gets out the checkbook and monitors the register for price errors, I manuever the cart out to the other end of the conveyor belt and commence to bag the groceries. I have become adept over the years we’ve been coming to Winco (twenty, count them) at filling the bags efficiently and in the main intelligently, though I do come into criticism for the weight of a single bag (cans should be grouped together, right?) or the placement of that carton of eggs (it is in a protective box after all).

This time there was a breakdown in the norm. As I finished with the last bag, Karen had left the clerk (my assumption – the check was written and surrendered) and was talking to a lady with a baby. I swung the last bag into the cart, and was turning the cart around into the exiting traffic, when the clerk called after me with an authoritative insistence in his voice – “Sir, you need to pay for those!”

I had entered the Twilight Zone. I looked at the clerk and he looked back at me. I was sending thoughts his way – don’t you see that I’m a packer, not a payer. And scanning the crowd for my wife. She had moved along, but was still talking to the mom with a baby. And was completely oblivious to our current deadbeat status. I sleep-walked my way back to the clerk and paid up. My thoughts were no longer on the embarrassment of being put on the spot, but who was this person who looked like my wife, and why hadn’t she paid the clerk, a task that she had always performed in the past ad infinitum.

She chalks it up to a “senior moment.”

I just want to know what happened when we passed through the produce department this time.

A Space Fantasy Part Three

A Space Fantasy Part Three

“They’ve confirmed the report of the energy force in the area of the new planet, and that’s not all…”
At this point Denisov called the session to order. He led off saying, “I suppose, by now, you’ve all heard about the confirmation of the energy report. I believe Dr. Smedley has the complete details on the subject. Dr. Smedley.”
“Yes, sir. On the day of the catastrophe there was an unusually large amount of energy reported in the area of Pluto and the new planet. Since then, my colleagues have had strange reports of similar energy in the area of the planets that the platforms are covering. Even some has been recorded in the vicinity our own dead planet earth, although there is no evidence of any near us on the moon.”
“What does all this mean?” asked one of the government officials. The two officials faced each other across the circles, each a representative of the two separate parties forced into a coalition after the Great Disaster. But science was the real ruler now, it had played the major role in placing civilization back on its feet.
“In answer to this question I will turn the explanation over to Dr. Marchand, one of the coordinators of the project in the area of radio-astronomy.”
The petite elderly gentleman next to him cleared his throat and began. “Uhhumm. Ah yes, let me see. It seems that there has been reports from our platforms of unusually high radio wave and energy activity. However, the emissions are not from the planets themselves, but are amplified by them. We have located the main source of the energy to be coming from the solar giants at the center of our galaxy. God only knows if they are the sole instigators or just a link in a bigger chain.”
A moment of astounded silence descended upon the room, followed by a rush of voices.
“Silence, please, gentlemen,” voiced the small man, “there’s more. My colleagues and I have been formulating theories based on recent reports from the platforms. But they’re more than theories, I believe we’re coming closer to the truth.”
“Pluto has been under observation for sometime now since the destruction of its platform. As you know its makeup is that of nickel and iron, making it similar to the planets of the inner four orbits. Just a few days ago, we found that an energy envelope was formed around it. Our Neptune, Uranus, Saturn, and Jupiter stations have reported similar pockets forming around their planets.” At this point explanatory pictures were appearing on the scanners.
“On Pluto there appears to be an atmosphere forming, of methane similar to that of Neptune and Uranus. It also appears to be gaining in mass. Something is happening there that we’ve been trying to do for years – energy to matter!”
His audience was thunderstruck. Understanding was beginning to dawn.
“All the planets from Jupiter out are undergoing change. It is essentially following this pattern, Pluto is becoming like Neptune, Neptune like Uranus, Uranus has a ring crystalizing becoming similar to Saturn, Saturn is swelling within its rings and will soon gain the proportions of Jupiter. Jupiter appears to be going through a dramatic change. It is losing its dense methane atmosphere and breaking down.”
Everyone in the room was mutely standing. Those that knew beforehand kept quiet also.
Marchand continued. “It is easy to predict what is to happen, making the supposition that each of the planets is exemplary of a phase that a planet passes through. Jupiter, breaking down, will add to the asteroid belt and form another Mars. Mars will gain mass and become another cradle of life. We have already sent a recall message to our colonies on Mars for they could never take the change.”
“Earth has already shown signs of its next step, its dense clouds, and intense heat from the holocaust. It will take the place of Venus. Venus’ clouds will disappear to become a Mercury. And last of all Mercury will plunge into the sun, completing the cycle of a planet.”
“The appearance of this new planet was the signal for the solar system to start out all over again. This means that men will have to leave in order to survive. Maybe we were supposed to have made it within this time. Who knows? But the problem is at hand now, that is why we have asked the counsel of Dr. Simmons, the noted physicist.”
Oliver stood up and addressed the assemblage. “Until just now we had not known whether the proposed theory was true. But I have been looking for solutions just the same. I believe the answer is entirely revolutionary. We would not be able to make it in rockets, we do not have enough to accommodate our population, nor even a place to go to. What holds us back? Our vulnerable bodies. I believe we can convert the energy of life into energy free of a body. This I believe is the only solution to our dilemma.”

Through the vast coldness of space it passed, but it did not care. It rejoiced in its new found freedom. Behind, it left a series of planets on a dancing spiral towards the light.

 

[Please remember if it sounds at all sophomoric, I was probably just a sophomore at the time].

A Space Fantasy Part 2

Space Fantasy 3

The silent earth slowly revolved above the craggy horizon of the moon. The light from the sun set the moonscape into great contrast, the light washed surfaces etched with deep black shadows. The scant atmosphere of the moon was unspoiled in direct contrast to its neighbor in space. The earth was swathed in a cloak of dense clouds. The beautiful blue seas would now be hidden forever from their ruler the moon.
What had happened to the earth? Once the earth ruled man and through its natural laws dictated his reward or punishment. But man grew knowledgable through his inquisitiveness, and handed it down through the ages, adding and retaining. The fork in the road came with his discovery of the relationship between energy and matter. Here was the elementary secret of the Universe. He found that he could convert matter into energy. But its first applications were for destruction. It had helped stop wars, with the constant threat of its use. Man modified and improved it until it could be done with the levity of a passing thought. He even tried reversing the process, but failed. Such power was for greater things.
The mechanical voice broke Oliver’s train of contemplation as he gazed through the massive tinted window at the moon’s night sky.
“Would you repeat the message?” asked Oliver, obviously having missed the general trend of the message. “Something about the Telemar Project?”
“Yes, Doctor Denisov called. He’s moving the meeting back another hour, pending more information from the units,” the well modulated voice answered.
“Thank you. Oh, and please have Val bring in some coffee.” Oliver turned his gaze from the squawk box, back to the beautiful panorama before him. Spread across the floor of the great crater was the city, the oldest on the moon.
Val entered with the coffee, handed him his cup gently kissed his forehead, and quietly took a seat beside him. They stared in silence out the window for a few moments. Finally, Val turned toward her husband. His eyes were still fixed absent-mindedly in the distance. A strand of his hair hung across his forehead. She reached over and brushed it up, calling his mind back into the room.
“What are you thinking about?” she asked, taking his hand in hers.
“Oh, nothing.” He shifted his position and looked down at the floor.
“Come now, there’s something bothering you. What is it?”
A smile spread across his face, a sigh of resignation. “Alright,” he sighed, “I’ll tell you, I guess I’m a little worried about the meeting this morning. It seems we’re getting closer to the solution, but I don’t like it, none of us do.”
“Well, can you tell me?”
“No, I’m afraid I can’t. If what we suspect is true we’re going to have to keep it under wraps for awhile, until we decide what to do.”
He gulped down the last of the coffee and added, “Well, I either better get some rest, or start to get ready for the meeting. The time isn’t far off.”

The corridor moved Oliver quickly on to his destination. He looked through the transparent walls on both sides, watching the people busy at work processing and filing data on their computers. So engrossed with his thoughts was he that he missed his turn off and had to back track. He took the branch tunnel and a chute down to the lower levels. He was now entering the high security area. The walls are no longer transparent, but a spotless white. There were no guards. There was no need for them. The walls were equipped with wide angle lens and other detection devices, connected to a computer security system. If any intruder was spotted in the corridor solar cells in the walls would be activated, and he would be either blinded by the intense light or fried by the terrific heat.
Finally he arrived at the final check point. He removed a small card from the inside pocket of his jacket and pushed it into a slot next to the door. The door slid open and he stepped in. He was now standing in the center of an enormous computer, who was now comparing him to the information on his card. On that small card was about every piece of physical information possible about him, even down to the average number of cells in his body at any given time. The whole treatment was painless, it only hurt his pride a little, to be searched over entirely, by a machine. The examination was soon over and a door at the other end opened. He strided out and the door closed behind him. A voice said, “Thank you,” and his card popped into a tray on the wall of the room. He scooped it up and replaced it in his pocket. He walked on into the large conference room.
The room was divided into two parts, an enormous lounge where they could recline and rest between sessions, and the conference room itself. The conference room had two concentric circular tables with portable scanners and recorders in the center.
Oliver was met at the entrance of the lounge by Doctor Denisov, the director of the Telemar Project.
“Good morning, Oliver. Well, you’re the last one, the rest are already in the conference room.”
“I hope I haven’t detained matters.”
“Don’t worry. Most of them are still in the process of waking, especially after I interrupted their slumbers early this morning with my message.”
The two men walked into the room and took their places, Denisov at a large desk in the center of the two circles and Oliver in the inner circle. The room was alive with the buzz of conversation. Altogether there were seventeen people at the meeting: Denisov, six scientists, counting Oliver, two government representatives, and eight members of the Telemar stations, including Brad Smedley from the ill-fated Pluto crew.
Oliver’s neighbor leaned over to him and said, “Morning, Simmons. Have you heard the news?”
Oliver shook his head.