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“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
It was a blistering cold and foggy morning on Neptune in the Eco-dome that surrounded 4/5ths of the planet. Margaret was trudging along the frozen tundra, searching for food and shelter, hoping she wouldn’t freeze to death. She gingerly stepped over a body. As she walked over it, the dead person rolled over and she saw that it was a young man, with frozen looking blue eyes and a distinguishable nose. Why hasn’t the disposal team collected him from this sector yet? Why isn’t she frightened? It might have been because it was 3 AM and the team wasn’t on duty until 9 AM. Also, she had stepped over approximately six bodies in the past several hours. It might make people a bit squeamish. But as Margaret was to be a doctor, dead or injured people did not frighten her the least.
Her mission was to find her brother Daniel‘s body and bring it back to life. This may seem entirely impossible, but it was the year 3267. Technology had pushed so far, the scientific community was allowed five dead persons to be completely healed to life. Plus, Margaret was the getting close to being the most certified doctor on the Two Planets Of Union. She would have been using her high-tech equipment, but alas, it was lost in the wreck of the space ship she had boarded only nine hours ago, the Valiant. It had crashed on into the dome just one hour previous.
She tried to pretend she was her favorite childhood hero, Aldan Hisendisen. He was the man who had discovered Time Gliding, the actual method of traveling through time. Many said he was the bravest man that ever lived because of his daring experiments with Time Gliding like traveling to the Jurassic Era. But that was several years before Global Icing (the opposite of Global Warming) and mad scientists so strong and mighty that they reigned over Venus. These were all obstacles in Margaret’s way.
She then thought about how long ago she had been on a beach, under the warm, comforting sun. Too long, she thought regretfully. Months. Maybe even years. Margaret wasn’t usually worried about her appearance, but now she was horrified at the image in her mind of herself. Pale, and much too thin. She made a commitment to herself to visit sunny old Florida.
Today was the only day that Margaret had ever been afraid. She was usually a very fit and healthy young women, who had even set a few diving records, that people read about on their webzines. Margaret had climbed a structure that was the height of what Hawaii would be if the sea had completely evaporated. She hadn’t even shuddered at the sight of virtual pirahnsharks, a dangerous hybrid of sharks and piranha that had hyper-evolved wings and lungs in an Evol-Pod, responsibility of the notorious . She was one tough gal.
A thought popped into her mind subconsciously. “Why don’t I just deploy my self setting up tent?” . But then she remembered that she it had burned up in the fiery crash of Valiant. Or had she? Margaret didn’t have the actual memory of losing her webzine and the rest of her few belongings. She bent down in a tired way, like she had been doing intensive labor all day and every muscle and tendon in her body ached. Margaret slowly lifted the flap of nanotechnology encrusted fabric. She say a glint of light. That light only enlarged her hope of contacting a rescue team. She soon found herself ripping the flap off like a child to a candy wrapper. Her coin-sized, pressure-activated, tent, her webzine, a three week supply of pinkie sized Mega-Protein bars, and a two person Hover Glider were hidden in her thick pants.
She felt a rush of joy wash over her like bathing in Liquisun. Margaret snatched a Mega-Protein bar from the snow covering the ground. Her action was as impulsive as a baby crying when it is separated from its half-eaten food.
Now a new question has arisen. What are all of these things she finds in her leg pocket? First, a webzine is a little bendable screen that includes a holographic keyboard. One part magazine, two part computer. Her pressure-activated, coin-sized tent is exactly what it says. A compact disc that when pressure is applied to , it expands to fit 2 adults and 3 children. Mega-Protein bars are small yet restorative bars that contain usually 30 grams of protein or more. Liquisun is an extremely complicated subject. It is a molecular compound only found on Mars. After a secret dilution process, it can become a very pleasurable substance to bath in. Many an Alien have died from an overdose when they had visited Mars. And last but not least, the Hover Glider. A Hover Glider is a simple enough anti-gravitational board on which you hop and off you go, steering with an old wheel of a “car” from the early 2000’s.
Suddenly, Margaret stumbled along a hidden latch in the ground. Tentatively, she pulled it open. Immediately, a ladder appeared. Not like the brand they used then, in 3267, with the magnetic handles to be used with the accompanying magnetic gloves, but a regular wooden ladder with rungs about a foot long. Intrigued, Margaret slid down the ladder into a perfectly cylindrical (well, nearly) tunnel, forgetting the detailed map of each planet and it’s features on her webzine. Hoping it would lead her out, she followed it for what seemed like miles. Along what Margaret suspected was her sixth mile, a stout figure swaggered out of the fog. At first, Margaret thought it was a hallucination. But when it started singing an old rhyme most had forgotten, “Mary Had A Little Lamb”, she no longer thought of him as a illusion. she then called out,
“Whoever you are, please address me immediately!”
“Hello. My name is Aldan. You probably didn’t know that the 45,876th digit of pi is 7?”
The man named Aldan ran familiarly through Margaret's head. Instantly Margaret found a file in her many cabinets of thoughts. “Of course! Aldan Hisendisen! The man behind Time Gliding! Are you okay???”
Instantaneously, the young and frazzled doctor to be pounced on the delusional man and stuffed on of her Mega-Protein bars into the man. They were also very handy when someone in your vicinity because of their ingrediants.
“Thank you. I feel much better.” Now his voice was dreary and slow, but he seemed nice.
“Aldan Hisendisen! Everyone has been looking for you for the last four years! Where have you been?! What have you been doing?!”
“Hold on there, girlie. One question at a time. First off, I’ve been in my laboratory perfecting my Time Glider.”
“Why didn’t you tell anybody where you were? Everyone still thinks you were eaten by a pirahnshark on your vacation in Mars!”
Aldan replied with a nasty tone, “I did that so I could work in peace! Everyone kept badgering me about when it would be done. They all wanted to stop one of their friends from dying, or what not. So I faked my own death and escaped to the deserted moon N-19. The isolation there calmed my mind. After I finished with my invention, I’ll come back out and say that I reversed my own death, just to unveil the Glider.”
Margaret was completely shocked at the tone of his voice. Hearing his commercials telling people Time Travel was near gave her the impression that Mr. Hisendisen was a nice little man indeed. But now she had completely changed her mind.
First she thought she should leave him hear. He would eat up all her Mega-Protein bars within weeks with a metabolism that fit his body type (stout and peguin-like) But then a thought drifted into her mind, saying “Once I do escape, the would treat me as if I were a hero for finding Aldan Hisendisen!”
Since she had no certain idea of the man’s metabolism, but she did know for certain of her future possibility of stumbling upon an exit and becoming a hero, she decided to hold onto him.
Now, why is Margaret acting in such a hostile way? The reason is top secret. Only a handful of people knew. Not even Margaret knew. Her mind was being controlled by the second most evil mind on the Two Planets in Union. His name was Dr. Cheripova.
And Margaret was in for a big surprise when she reached an exit.
Dr. Cheripova thought he was a very lucky man. He thought of himself as lucky because Margaret hadn’t noticed the lapse of memories in her head. Dr. Cheripova was the great great grandson of the man who invented mind control. That’s another reason why he was lucky. Not everyone knew the secret of controlling other beings minds. And that’s just what he was doing.
Aldan at first wanted to send Margaret into the year 1079. He thought she would take all the credit for returning him. She would be considered for the Scientist of the Year Award, which he was aiming to receive. But then a most clever thought bobbed to the surface of his distorted mind. She is lost too. And one of the greatest minds on the Two Planets of Union, from what he had heard. Maybe you will receive credit for finding her!
Aldan liked that idea, so he stuck with it. It was as simple as that. But he didn’t know that he didn’t make the decision. It was Dr. Cheripova.
A spark in Margaret’s head ignited an idea. She thought to jump on her Ultra Slider and glide away with Aldan. She could use the GPS system in her webzine to find a local hospital once she left the dome.
As soon as she announced this to Aldan, he agreed.
“Oh, and besides,” he added sarcastically, “I’ve always loved fast, uncontrollable speeds.”
And with a snicker from Margaret, the odd-looking pair hopped onto the sled and Aldan slammed on the big, red, glowing GO button.
The Ultra Slider sped along the tundra on a thin sheet of ice, suspended by state of the art magnet technology.
It only took several minutes of gliding along at 200 miles an hour to reach an exit out of the Arctic room, into a near deserted city. Then a couple more minutes to locate a hospital.
Now is when the plot thickens because none other than his father was controlling Dr. Cheripova’s mind. Dr. Cheripova Senior. He had gone mad in his late thirties. That was when his beloved wife had abandoned him for his lack of attention. He had only his 6-year-old son who seemed to have no interest in science whatsoever, his father’s favorite subject. He lived, ate, slept, and breathed science. He wanted his son to someday discover the cure for cancer or the common cold. But no, for the first thirty years, all he was interested in was theater.
The hospital that Margaret and Aldan reached was called Nicht Hereingehen. It was very unfortunate that this duo stumble upon this, for it’s name is bad itself.
“Wow,” muttered Aldan as he entered the elaborate hospital. Both people entered the building thinking of the awards they would get for returning someone famous, although they didn’t show it.
“First things first. Let’s go find the manager of the place and receive some quality healthcare.”
Margaret had all sorts of bumps and bruises to make her think that she had been on board a ship that had crashed. Her most severe problem was the fist-sized chunk of hair that was frozen. But Aldan was a whole different person.
He had traveled back from the Jurassic Era and had had a run in with a feisty pterodactyl. The Jurassic dinosaur spotted Aldan trying to steal one of her prized eggs for a Tuesday morning brunch. He had been there for two and a half weeks because of a miscalculation in his laboratory. He was very hungry and was hoping to fry it. Instead, he received peck after peck and was now covered in flecks of blood on his arms and torso.
When Margaret had finally noticed Aldan’s injuries, she let him have what seemed like the lead doctor, for they had the whitest lab coat. She settled with a nurse practitioner with a coat like a moldy lemon.
“After all,” she had said to Aldan, “I just need her to rub in some Bruise-Be-Gone paste. I could do it myself,” the boastful bit of her personality kicking in, “But she looks like she needs a major confidence boost,” she added sympathetically as she took a side glance as the geeky-looking woman with greasy hair and glasses thicker than my palm fumbling with a clipboard.
Of course this was all an act. She was Marie Marree (named this because her parents were deemed the least creative on the continent after naming Marie’s brother Boy). One of the smartest women on the Two Planets in Union. And she was married to a certain control freak whose name rhymes with Weriewova.
Meanwhile, in the superintendent’s office, a plan of malicious doings was being finished. When I said “And Margaret was in for a huge surprise as soon as she reached a building” , I meant that building was going to be something that wasn‘t what the duo expected. It meant that Dr. Cheripova jr. was the runner of the place. It meant that the hospital was a fake. It meant that someone was going to get hurt.
Aldan was being walked into the room where his doctor would work. He had a limp, so they couldn‘t walk very fast, which was unfortunate for Aldan. He’d want to start running soon because the building was going to burn up.
A shriek of terror ran through the hallways as the building started to burn. Another innocent being broke free from the grasp of Dr. Cheripova’s mind control, realizing what was happening around them.
The shrieks sounded like a thousand nails scraping against a blackboard to Margaret. Then Margaret heard one small voice wailing in all the commotion above the rest.
“Mommy. Please help me. I don’t know where to go!“
Out of instinct, Margaret threw her body on the door where the cry for help was coming from.
Chapter 3 and a half
Helping the Underprivileged
The room that Margaret just entered was surrounded in flames. The little girl was inside a circle of dangerous energy. Margaret didn’t hesitate for a moment and leapt over the flame and snatched the girl.
“Who are you?” The voice whimpered with fear dripping off of every syllable.
“I’m here to save you and that s all that matters right now,” the young woman reassured.
Margaret bounded back over the flame in a single leap still clutching the girl.
Margaret landed with a heavy thud on her butt on the hard, merciless floor. Ignoring the pain, Margaret flew over the shattered door laying on the floor.
Setting up Camp
The little girl, whose name was Hannah, Margaret, and Aldan emerged from the burning wreck like amazing survivors.
They had learned that Hannah‘s mother was one of the nurses and she just had to follow her to work because she was acting very strange. She didn't t drink any of her coffee in the morning, which she had never done, she had left without breakfast, which was highly suspicious because she was a tubby woman and never missed a meal.
Margaret remembered that she had her tent with her. Without a word, she silently slipped her pop up tent out of her pocket and tossed it gently right before her gang. In less than seconds, the tent inflated itself and made a loud cracking sound.
“Everyone in!” They didn’t need telling twice. Maybe not even once.
Hannah was the first one in. Then Aldan clamored in, almost knocking over the lamp. Aldan was very surprised at how simple the tent was. He had been living in an extremely complex hut with all the components needed for making 3 extra Time Travelers so he could make modifications to one or two. He thought that he would have a tough time trying to work on his machine in secret without the right tools or the space. Then Margaret almost leapt through the portal like a practiced acrobat. The tent was filled to the brim with beeping lights and flashing strobes. This particular tent was dedicated to helping doctors and scientific matter. On the outside the tents were just plain old tents, but inside they were filled with computers, holographic televisions and a kitchen. This one was provided to Margaret by the Help Out Our Doctors (HOOD) nonprofit organization where everyone, oddly, wore red hoodies and jeans. They liked to help out unfortunate doctors who couldn't t afford equipment. Margaret could afford it, but they were a jolly little group who liked helping doctors.
Margaret thought that with all the equipment, she might be able to cure cancer. And that‘s just what she did.
The trio was stuck in the tent for five weeks. Five weeks that both Cheripovas have thought that they were dead. If only the three people knew this, then they would have been able to escape the end of the solar system they were in, and go back to Earth. But they didn't. This was unfortunate, because the evil family would be running around Neptune looking for people to make cronies. Oh well.
Chapter 4 and a half
Aldan nor Margaret nor anyone else knew something secret, or else it wouldn't be a secret. It involves Margaret and Aldan. They were daughter and father. It sounds a little weird, but it’s true. As a baby, Margaret was dropped of at the Intellectuals and Orphans, where kids who had no parents were dropped of if their IQ tests proved positive. Margaret grew up there and was taught in the ways of the doctor. She was a natural, of course, because of her heritage. The staff all thought that she would do something amazing in the world of science, for she would constantly amaze them with flashy information. And they were right. But Margaret and Aldan weren’t ready for that kind of relationship. At least not until their minds were free places once more.
Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch
Luigi loved to catch evil doers. It was his favorite job when he was in Malibu, Florida. His boss was a plump woman who would do anything for a donut. She was very helpful when trying to extract information about the power-crazed government in America. He reported to his company how weak the police force was. It was something he might want to remember late when trying to save someone’s life in the far part of the solar system. You see Luigi was a highly trained individual called a forceful private eye. He was hired when he was 16 by the head agent at HOOD. Luigi was shoplifting at the Buy-All in Topeka, Kansas. Head Agent Baxter was there a vacation. The man saw the swiftness of Luigi’s hand snatching for a webzine, with state-of-the-art secruity too. At first Luigi was consumed in hope of the bulky man not turning him in. Instead, he was taken to the HQ of HOOD.
Right now, Luigi was on a mission to locate missing personnel, namely Dr. Bennett. Right then, the biggest help arrived in Luigi s e-mail inbox. The half Latino noticed that it was from Head Baxter. The e-mail has hastily opened with hope of a new clue. It read:
From: Head Baxter
To: Luigi C.
Luigi, I have the most spectacular idea! Have you used your tracker in your webzine to locate her HOOD tent? I just remembered that we gave her the tent weeks before we lost her. Mail me when you have the answer. Her tent’s code is 5268.
Quickly exciting the e-mail browser, he clumsily opened his Locater. Jabbing in the code supplied by Baxter, he waited with his hands sweating. If he found her, he would be Assistant Head Agent. She was the most important person besides the President of Two Planets in Union. Margaret had a reward of 20,000 creds (or credits), for she was believed to hold the key to solving cancer. As Luigi was wringing his hand in nervousness, the locater found the tent. He would have e-mail the Head, but he dropped his webzine because he had really wet and sweaty hands. Unfortunatly, the only design flaw of the modern webzine was that it was extremely fragile. Looks like he would have to revert to his old ways.
Chapter 5 and a half
Head Baxter was waiting impatiently for the e-mail from Luigi to come about Margaret‘s tent and locating it. Seconds later, three words flashed across the screen, WARNING! CODE 8RJ5FN6DL4JU8! Head Baxter unfortunately knew what that was. It meant that Luigi’s body heat had stopped powering his webzine. Now someone would have to touch it to activate it again.
Oh great. His e-mail provider from the government blocked everything unless the webzine where it came from was registered in his address book. And only his wife, children, and commanding officers were in there. If only Luigi found his mother and asked to use her webzine to e-mail me. Miraculously, an idea materialized into his head, Call your wife, tell her to locate Luigi, and to have him e-mail you on her webzine. Too bad his wife was hibernating.
Margaret wasn’t supposed to have gone to Neptune. She was supposed to stay at home in Boise, Idaho. But her love for her brother drove her to Neptune, where he was last seen on his 18th birthday. She was young, but still wanted to go, but her parents restrained her. Finally, when she was 20, she escaped when her parents were out to dinner with some Australian friends. She went to her friends at HOOD. She knew that they would obey any doctor. She caught a space ship called the Valiant, and then was kidnapped by one of Dr. Cheripova's cronies, pretending to be on the crew.