Earth Bound – Chapter II

Critical Decision

Come in, come in, Sir,” Dr. Benito Stelfast says as he stands up and walks around his ornate desk with his hand outstretched, “I appreciate your taking time from your busy schedule to come and talk to me. Here. Have a seat.”

Thank you.”

Senator Falstaff Boyd looks down to his left at a leather covered wooden chair and sits while Benito leans back against the front of his desk, facing his constituent.

I know why you’ve called me in, Dr. Stelfas…”

Please. Please. Call me Benito.”

Senator Boyd looks a bit stunned, slightly bewildered, but his physiognomy quickly morphs into introspection.

O… kay, Benito, but I know what you want; I just can’t go along with the plan. It’d give one man too much power, and that one man, without a doubt, would be you.”

That’s not assured. There will be an election afterward. The citizens will ultimately decide who the leader will be. It could just as easily be you.”

Dr. Benito Stelfast has his doctorate in robotics engineering. He is also a senator representing one of the four biospheres erected many centuries ago throughout the globe by ancient scientists who had realized the inevitable total destruction of the planet caused from global warming initiated in the late nineteenth century by the Industrial Revolution. He currently resides within the South American biosphere atop land once the former capital of Peru. The recent violent attack on his biosphere by an atavistic, barbaric tribe of mutants has encouraged him to consolidate the four domes into one heavily secured colossal biosphere called Colossus V.

Please don’t patronize me Doctor. Besides, I’m not convinced that we need only one biosphere. What will happen to the four that currently exist?”

The idea seemed to quicken as he spoke it and give it life.

We can give them to the betas. They are our biological brethren, right?”

That’s not a bad idea, really. I’m sure they could use protection from the insufferable terrestrial elements. How any of them have survived is beyond belief.”

That’s exactly what I’m trying to say. It’d be the beneficent thing to do. None of us ever anticipated that anyone could survive the planet’s last mass extinction that destroyed practically every plant and animal so many centuries ago.”

I am well aware that the mutant beasts currently existing in the Wild Earth Zone are the miraculous survivors of the humans so callously left outside the four biospheres by the scientific community nearly five centuries ago,” he paused, “and your idea to give them this special opportunity is morally appealing in some distorted way, but I just can’t abide the possibility that one man would be leader of, in essence, the entire population of the civilized world.”

Think of the betas. Nobody ever expected survivors. It’s baffling that anything survived… plant or beast… but our latest sensors have shown that very few mammals did survive, and they do exist, The DNA tests gathered by servitons1 have proven irrevocably that the betas have adapted to the environment that killed off 95% of all carbon lifeforms. No one knows how these… these beasts… how these barbaric mutants survived the most devastating mass extinction ever, the wiping out of practically every living thing on the planet that was created by the human population during the aftermath of the global warming initiated by the now infamous Industrial Revolution.”

It’s just that they don’t appear to be threatening to us in any way; they have adapted to the climatic changes; we haven’t. They can live beyond the protection that our biospheres grant us. They’re harmless to us; there’s no reason to consolidate.”

That’s where you’re wrong. The betas are serious threats to national security. There’s evidence that strongly suggests that the betas have the ability to produce weapons of mass destruction. Our very way of life is at stake.”

How are the betas threatening? Didn’t our Robotic Army totally wipe out those savage warriors just ten years ago? They had rudimentary weapons… clubs and rocks.”

Why take chances. Video surveillance shows us that they’re barbaric. They’re really not human anymore.”

Then why worry about them?”

Because they’re animals! Animals capable of destroying portions of the biospheres that would cost too much money when it can be so easily avoided if we consolidate the four biospheres into one colossal, technologically superior biosphere built with even more protection against the betas and their ever-threatening technological advances.”

It doesn’t seem necessary; they’re not that dangerous. Seems like a ploy garnered through unfettered capitalism.”

Benito pauses, sighs, and then slowly walks to the other side of his desk where he sits, still facing Senator Boyd, a panoramic view in the huge window behind the defeated scientist displays a pastoral man-made recreational lake.

So, you’re still gonna vote ‘No’ in two weeks?”

I am. One colossal biosphere seems unnecessary.”

Very well; although, I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that you don’t see the clear and present danger that exists to our very way of life.”

There was nothing more to say, so Senator Falstaff Boyd leaves Benito’s office silently while Dr. Benito Stelfast ruminates with cerebral intensity scorching his hazel eyes that churn extinguished yet burning emotional fury.

Before retiring for the evening, Benito takes a soothing bath to calm his frayed nerves. He steps out of the tub when he hears his doorbell. As he ties his bathrobe, there comes a knock on the bathroom door. It is Benito’s personal serviton, Rodney.

Forgive the intrusion, Sir, but Sergeant Viernes from the Diplomacy Station is waiting in the library. Seems he needs to speak to you. Says it’s an urgent matter.”

Thank you. Inform him that I’ll meet with him anon, and offer him a drink.”

Already done, Sir.”

As Benito enters the library in his bathrobe, Sergeant Viernes leaps from the cushioned chair with a drink in one hand and a marijuana cigar in the other.

Dr. Benito Stelfast,” he blurts as he stands.

He starts walking toward the doctor as the doctor slowly approaches him, but the investigator stops suddenly, gulps down the rest of his drink, steps back toward the chair, sets the empty glass on the table beside the chair, then he takes a few puffs on the cigar before smashing it out in the ashtray on the same table. By the time he turns back around, Benito is upon him with outstretched hand.

I am Dr. Benito Stelfast.”

Pleased to finally meet you, Sir. I’m Sergeant Viernes.”

Well, how may I help you, Sergeant?”

I’ve come to bring sad news, Doctor. Senator Falstaff Boyd is dead.”

Really?” Benito takes an awkward step backward. “I just talked to him not twenty minutes ago…”

Dr. Benito Stelfast’s face slightly contorted with confusion. Then he almost silently whispers, “How?”

Another serviton malfunction.”

Where?”

In the basement of his office complex a few blocks south of here. Seems like his serviton went awry, strangled the senator, then initiated a self-destruction program no one knew existed within its circuitry. Destroyed itself completely. It’s the third incident this month, but this time it struck down a senator.”

Damn,” says Dr. Benito, mostly to himself.

Don’t worry Doctor. No one blames you; everyone knows that you’ll ultimately figure it all out. You’re the greatest doctor of robotics ever lived.”

Still…”

Benito stands silently for a moment then says, “What was the senator doing in the basement?”

No one knows, Sir, but the mayor wanted you to know, and I was sent to tell you.”

Again, Benito stands in retrospection. Sergeant Viernes then coughs a little, drawing Benito back from his cerebral journey.

Oh, I’m sorry, Sergeant. It’s just so…”

I understand, Sir. Will you be needing anything else from me?”

Hm? Oh… no. No thank you. Here.”

Dr. Benito hands the investigator a few cigars.

Thank you, Sir,” Sergeant Viernes sings. “We don’t get this quality down at the station.”

_______________________________________________________

1 Service automatons.

 

 

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