The Holes in the Sky

By Vera Searles




The day the holes appeared in the sky was the beginning of the next Productivity Era.  The Dwellers had been told that the change would start on the last day of memrix, in the year twenty-seven twenty-six.


At her obwindow, Keesha stood watching the clouds ferment and roil.  What had been soft puffs of serenity now became shadowy slits of dark matter.  Keesha looked down at her son, not yet two years of memrix, his eyes fastened on the  holes in the sky.  He telemented, “Where is the sky going, Mama?”


She replied, “The Dwin are sucking it down into blackness.  Don’t fear, Jaybo, our domiorb is shielded.  Nothing can harm us here, inside.”


“But the grass is going, too,” the child telemented, pointing.


From the obwindow, Keesha watched as the green play space turned gray, then black.  Birds, caught in flight, disappeared into the dark matter.  Flowers and shrubs drooped, then fell apart into gray dust.


Later, after Jaybo was napset, she snapped her speaker into the wavenet.  “I am Keesha.  I request a reprieve from the change, until my son is older.”


The buzzing noise of the Dwin sounded in her memrix.  “Denied.”


“Why?” Keesha asked.


She heard the Dwin conferring, but then they clamped the silence shield over their voices.  The Dwin were Paradroids, from the Planet Celesius.  They were short, round beings that dressed alike in white and red tunics and looked alike, male and female.  The only difference was the topaz jewel that dangled from the female’ s chin.  They had perfected technologies beyond any in the galaxy, and were experts at telekinesis, telepathy, and shape shifting.  They had implanted in each Dweller a granule of crystal behind the right ear that gave them access to the Dweller’ s memrix.


While she waited, Keesha looked up at the sky.  Each hole was spreading, touching another, turning in upon itself with a film of anti-matter.  


Her mind buzzed as the Dwin replied, “Request denied because your son must participate in the new Productivity Era, as must all Dwellers.”


“But he has not completed his two year memrix!” Keesha protested.  


“This is the last day of input of old memrix,” the Dwin droned.


Keesha felt herself becoming aggravated and pushed the easeout valve in her arm.  A flood of tranquility surged through her veins, and she continued her argument in a logical, sensible manner.  “ He has had less then two years of memrix.  The limited supply of visions and images from a two-year period is not enough to last until the next change.  His mind will be blank and unused.  This will not benefit the community.”


Again the Dwin clamped their silence shield over their voices as they conferred.  Then they buzzed, “You forfeited your son’s right to a reprieve at the time your husband died.  We granted a reject of those events in your son’ s memrix.  In place of his father’s death, the space was used for eduvisits.  He has many fine images of ancient art and sculpture.”


“It’s better than watching his father die,  Keesha agreed.  The scene was firmly locked in her own memrix, but she seldom upmented it, for it was too painful.  Her husband Miklo had been a scientist, searching out new types of time travel in the overlaps of the space-time continuum,  by using negative energy to hold open wormholes.  He had succeeded in keeping one open in the backspace of time, but it suddenly exploded before time appeared on the other side.  Miklo became a spatter of quantum foam particles that floated away into Farspace.  Keesha often wondered if it had been the Dwin’s doing, for they did not approve of space travel, preferring that the Dwellers remain close by where they could be easily controlled.  


On the wavenet, the Dwin were responding.  “For the benefit of the community, your son has no right to another reprieve.  He must participate in the new Productivity Era along with all other Dwellers  Reject stands.  Reprieve denied.”  The Dwin withdrew their connection.  


Keesha stared out of her obwindow.  The world  outside was black.  Her domiorb was surrounded by darkness, and all the others in the community stood silent, unseen.  The orbs were free floating and never touched each other because of their anti-magnetix shields.  During the new Productivity Era, Keesha  and Jaybo would exist in this isolated space, their minds drawing upon various phases of memrix to create a new surround for themselves.  At the end of the new Productivity Era, the Dwin would bring all the new surrounds together and the residents of all  the orbs would share in the next era of memrix.  


Keesha recalled the last change, just before Jaybo was born.  The ocean in which the orbs had been floating turned into sky, and the various aquatic life forms that swam past the obwindow became trees, birds, flowers.  Each domiorb had a green play space for the children, and a sun that shone down daily to give light and warmth.  


Jaybo finished his napset and came to stand at the window.  “Mama, where did the sun go?”


“Look in your memrix, and you’ll find the sun,” Keesha told him.  


“I see it.  It is a big red ball,” the child telemented, his hands forming a circle.


“That’s right.  Now upment all the other things that you like.”


She gathered the child in her arms and stared into the darkness outside as she listened to his recitation:   “Green grass.  A pretty flower.  A red and yellow bird.  A swing I sit in while you push me.  A tree with branches that I will be allowed to climb when I am old enough.”


In the darkened obwindow Keesha saw their reflections - - a two-year-old child and his twenty-four year old mother, both with black hair and slender bodies.  With her free hand, she pushed a strand of hair away from her slate blue eyes that glinted with anger at the Dwin  


When the child hesitated, Keesha telemented, “Now go to your art section and upment the paintings of all the masters.”


The boy nodded and began another litany.  Keesha hoped the images in his memrix wouldn’t give out too soon.


                                                            *   *   *   


The change had never lasted this long.  At every nine-hour interval, when Keesha’s time on the wavenet was scheduled, she snapped in.  “I am Keesha.  When will the change be completed?”


“Soon,” the Dwin replied.


“Can you be more specific?”


There was a long buzz before the Dwin replied, “Data unavailable.”


“What about our food supply?” Keesha asked.  “You have decreased our portions again.”   Ample supplies had always come through the delivery chute in the roof of the domiorb, and requests for extras or favorites had always been met immediately, but now only the barest minimums were being shuttled down the chute.  “Can we have more protein?  The child is in his growing stage.”


“Request denied.”


“And we are running out of memrix!”


“Play repeat.”


“We already have.  Many times over.”


“Request denied.”


“I demand to speak to your leader,” Keesha said.  Zimora had often presented herself to the Dwellers through their memrix.  She looked like all other Dwin.  


Zimora is not available,” the wavenet buzzed.


The Dwin had never before been this evasive, this miserly.  Had something gone wrong?  Something the Dwin weren’t revealing?  “I demand to know what is happening!”  Keesha shouted into the wavenet, then realized it was dead air.


                                                            *   *   *   


During the following weeks, their portions were decreased again, with no explanation from the Dwin.  Each time Keesha asked the reason, the reply was the same: “Data unavailable.”   Although she gave the child most of her own food, he grew noticeably thinner, and lethargic.  He had no interest in the patterns of his memrix, and even the hologames Keesha played with him did little to cheer him.


The tranquility serum with which she filled her easeout valve was no longer being delivered down the utility chute.  Keesha worried over this, for to be without the serum was uncharted territory.  How would she react in a crisis?  She could remember no time when there was no serum to deflect all anxieties and annoyances.


Each evening as she rocked the boy to sleep in her arms, Keesha remented her memrix to the time before the Dwin….


                                                            *   *   *   


When Keesha was little, her parents, both warriors, had been killed during a battle in the long war with Dwinworld.  All she had left of her mother and father were their holoimages.  She remented them often, visiting them and Miklo in the Delta wave prism.


After the loss of her parents, she had been placed in a wardage where, at age fifteen, she met Miklo, and they were nupted.  He had advance degrees in space-time technologies, and they were given quarters where he had access to all ongoing interspace experiments within his own laboratory.  


For many years their home planet of Belleterre had been at war with Dwinworld, and when it finally became obvious that the Dwin would soon occupy their planet, the Council  agreed to a treaty.  The Dwin would own all Realworld territory, while the Dwellers and their families were assigned to floating domiorbs.  As long as they didn’t interfere with the Realworld activities of the Dwin and obeyed the memrix experiments that the Dwin conducted, the Dwellers would be provided with great luxury.  All their needs would be met; they had only to make their requests on the wavenet.


                                                            *   *   *


It always seemed to Keesha more like being a prisoner in isolation.  The word circled through her memrix, dragging hatred and distrust with it.  She stared out through her obwindow at the darkness.  There were no stars, no moon.  Gone were the birds, the green space, the sky, the clouds.  Gone was the freedom to see nature, to feel, smell,  observe, meet friends at Council House, enjoy other people.  Nothing existed outside of memrix.  The Dwin controlled her life.  She hated them.


The first patterns of memrix the Dwin had provided had been of lush greenery with many species of wildlife.  Monkeys swung past the obwindow on vines, and many multi-colored parrots festooned the foliage, their chatter sending a cacophony of sound throughout space.


Then the Dwin made the first change, and after a short time, when the darkness was lifted, the domiorbs floated beneath a great body of blue-gray water.  When the last change came, it too was short, and Keesha had been delighted that Jaybo had been given a large green space in which to run and play with his holofriends.


But now - - for this change, this was too long a time of darkness.  Keesha knew, from a place beyond her memrix, beyond her holoments, that she must try to escape.  And only one way was possible - - through the holes in the sky that were no longer visible.


Against her breast, the child murmured in his sleep.  Her arms tightened round his small body as Keesha searched for a solution.


She remented the holonotes of Miklo’s journal, but the scientific symbols were too complex and abstruse for her to decipher.  Somewhere in his memrix was the translation pattern for all technological equations.  To explore Miklo’s memrix, Keesha must enter the Delta wave.  


Gently she placed her son on the sleep mat and lay down next to him.  As she focused on the multidimensional diamond prism in the ceiling above, it slowly began to revolve, and soon Keesha entered the holoment of Miklo’s mind.


“Hello my dearest one,” he said from the Delta wave pattern of the prism.  


“My love,” she said.  “I am lonely without you.  But I have decided that Jaybo and I must escape.  I need to receive the proper mind-bits for holding open wormholes with negative energy, as you performed in your last experiment.”


His holoimage nodded.  “I’ll transfer them into your memrix right now.  But Keesha, please be careful.  You must slip through quickly.  That was why I didn’t succeed - - I was in awe of my own accomplishment and didn’ t use the photon beamer immediately to capture the negative energy.  Don’t make the same mistake.”


“I’ll try not.  We have no choice but to do this, because the Dwin are withholding the food supplies.  There is no easeout serum, either.  I will try to reach a parallel world.”


“You must plan your course precisely through the holes in the sky in order to reach the safety of the next parallel dimension.   Each dimension has its own frequency, and to move forward you need to add one extra photon.  To move back, it takes one less.  Convergence produces zero point energy.  No one has ever seen the time stream, but it is my theory that time hangs like threads all around us and that we travel through it on our own space paths.  Each hole will lead to another, but if the space-time continuum has become folded back upon itself, you will encounter circularity.”


Keesha nodded.  “I understand.  But to remain here as we are will bring starvation.  We must escape.”


“Then Godspeed, my love.  In my laboratory you’ll find the compuments for producing negative energy ions to load your photon beamers and for powering your transpods.”


On the mat beside Keesha, Jaybo stirred.  “I must go now.  Jaybo wakens.  Goodbye my dearest.”


Miklo’s holoimage slid inside the prism as Jaybo sat up, breaking the Delta wave pattern.  “Who were you talking to, Mama?”


“Your father’s holoimage  When you are older, I’ll teach you how to enter the Delta wave, where you will visit the holoimages of those no longer with us.”


Jaybo’s small forehead frowned.  “Are they happy where they are?”


“Yes,” Keesha replied.  It was better for him to think that happiness existed there.  She prepared the last food supply the Dwin had sent, and while the child ate, she went into the laboratory to make ready for the trip.


                                                            *   *   *   


With the equation that Miklo had encoded into her memrix, Keesha entered the scrip  into the governing sensor of the photon blaster.  When small bursts of anti-matter exploded within the particle accelerator, she compulocked them into her photon beamers.  Then she inserted the four beamers into the jet openings of her transpod.


Jaybo’s smaller transpod was also equipped, and the child would be protected by the automatic release valve that Keesha controlled from her own pod.  When Jaybo finished eating, she called him to her and explained.   “You must step inside this pod, for we are going on a journey.”


After she changed him into his travel tunic, he put his feet into the wedge-shaped titanium pod, and she then attached his lifeline to her own controls.  She smiled.  It was like an umbilical cord.


Once Keesha had locked his faceplate into place, the child telemented, “Won’t the Dwin be angry if they see us leaving without telling them?”


“No,” Keesha said.  “They won’t see us leave.  I have placed a visiblock around our transpods, and I’m leaving holoimages of us here in the domiorb.”  She entered all the necessary scrips into the cylinder, and their holoimages materialized.  She programmed them to speak to each other at intermittent intervals and to call the Dwin on the wavenet to protest the lack of tranquility serum.


“Are you ready, Jaybo?”  Keesha telemented.  He nodded, his eyes shining with excitement.  Keesha felt both fear and exhilaration surge throughout her body and mind.  Then the stark reality of what she was doing chilled her.  Was she making the right decision?  What if they became entrapped within a wormhole where time was circular?  She had little to rely on except her own determination and the patterns of her memrix.  Her son’s’ life was in her hands.  But hadn’t it always been, here in the domiorb, where they were prisoners of the Dwin?


She put on her own travel tunic, a two-piece layer of tights and overskirt.  Then she touched the obwindow release pad and pushed the viewpanel aside.


After enclosing herself in her transpod, Keesha activated the control rods.  Oxygen flowed into the interiors, and the rad nullification system automatically popped on.  When she switched on the illuminator controls, a strip of bright light shone from her helmet and her son’s, lighting their way into the darkness before them.  They glided out.


                                                            *   *   *


Keesha upmented their course into the control rods and set their body temps for normal.  Jaybo, you must tell me if you start to feel cold.  I’ll adjust your pod to keep you comfortable.”


“It feels all right, Mama.  Are we going far?”


“I don’t know.  I’m following the scrip your father implanted in my memrix, but it doesn’t give the length of transtime.”


“It’s so black everywhere, except for our light beacons,” the child telemented.


Keesha realized how frightening this must be for a two-year-old  Just keep looking straight ahead, Jaybo, where the light shines.  Don’t be afraid.  We can pretend it’s a hologame.”


“I’m not afraid.  I just want everything to go back the way it was before the Dwin took away the green play space, and the sun.”


Keesha sighed.  “That’s what I want, too, Jaybo.  I wish we could turn Dwinworld back into Belleterre, when we were in charge of our own lives as individuals, not a community called Dwellers.”


A sudden twist of negative energy seized them, spinning their pods up over end.  Jaybo’s tether held fast to her own pod, but Keesha felt them being sucked backward into some vast vortex, and she realized they were entering a wormhole.


One of the memrix mind-bits she had received from Miklo played: Photon beamers.  Now!  


Keesha fired the reverse trigger and immediately the negative energy that surrounded them was sucked into the beamer.  All calmed.  In the vidiceptor, the child appeared to be fine.  Even so, she telemented, “Are you all right, Jaybo?”


“Yes, Mama.  I liked it.  It was fun.”


Of course.  Any two-year-old would think it was fun.


A second later, Keesha felt them being pulled again, but gently this time.  And in the far distance, she saw a narrow border of jewel-webbed stars.  Apparently they went through the wormhole and emerged on the other side.  She checked the control panel.  All life support was normal - - oxygen, temperature, memrix access.  But in her audiceptors, a white hiss rustled.  “Can you hear me, Jaybo?”  she asked.  “Speak aloud, please.”


“Yes, Mama, I can hear you. 


On the intercom, she heard his voice clearly, above the hiss.  What was causing it?  Keesha was puzzled by the sound, and then she became aware of its origin.  In the void all around them, a ribbon of time hung like torn silk, shredded at the ends.  The white hiss was caused by their pods sliding through the threads of time.  Each thread was all colors, combined into one shimmering translucence.  


Joy trembled across her memrix.  She was seeing time!  It had its own dimension!  As Miklo had believed, it was a true entity, not some invisible unreality that was only the product of clocks and chronometers.  


“Oh, Miklo,” she whispered.  “If only you could see it!  It is real, as you believed.  And it’s beautiful.”


A sudden whirlwind of madness clawed at their transpods, and they were whipped into the vortex again, swirling over and over, around and around.  The winds of space had swept them into another wormhole.  Keesha fired the reverse trigger  of her photon beamers and the negative energy was absorbed.


Within nanoseconds, their pods righted and floated free.  Keesha saw the same view of the star-laden sky.  Had they emerged from the first wormhole again, or a different one?  When she heard the  white hiss rustle against her audiceptors exactly as before, her heart chilled.  They had encountered circularity.


                                                            *   *   *


Keesha upmented all the mind-bits that Miklo had implanted in her memrix.  She went over each particle of information, frantically searching for a clue on how to reverse circularity.


“I’m sleepy, Mama.”  Jaybo’s voice startled her out of her rement.  


“Close your eyes and put your head back on your sleep pad,” she said.  “I’ll play your sleep music for you.”  In the vidiceptor she watched the child lie back.


She switched on an auditape of soft child pieces, but even as the music played, their transpods spun again, back into the wormhole.  This time, when they emerged, she upmented each mind-bit as quickly as possible, using flash thought to view all information simultaneously.  One phrase pulsed through her upment: Zero point energy.  She crossmented the information particles and discovered that at zero point energy a wormhole implodes and space-time collapses, expelling a parallel world.  A mind-bit told her each parallel universe exists by the difference of one photon.  She had to reach a parallel world.  But how?  She had to try.  How many times would circularity toss them through the same routine, never allowing them to move forward or backward?  How many parallel worlds had opened and closed while they swept past?


From her memrix, Keesha remented: to move forward, add one photon.  To go backward, one less.  Convergence produces zero point energy.  She knew she had to use the photon beamers, and it had to be synchronous - - the reverse trigger and the intake lever had to be fired at exactly the same nanosecond. 


Miklo,” she whispered.  “What if I fail to be accurate?”   There was no time left to doubt herself.  She glanced at the vidiceptor to make sure Jaybo was asleep, then placed the trigger finger of each hand on a beamer.  When the negative energy seized them, she fired.


                                                            *   *   *   


It seemed as if nothing happened.  Then gradually, through her faceplate, she watched quantum foam bubbling all around her, millions of tons of it, filling every iota of space.  And yet - - it wasn’t touching her pod, or Jaybo’ s.  They floated freely, just outside of time.  They were free!  Keesha set the photon beamers on low, and their pods powered them away from the darkness, into the golden light of dawn.


Below, a village of Dwellers was awakening.  Keesha saw faces at obwindows, saw children at play in a green space.  This was how it was before the Dwin ruled the planet.


With hope in her heart, she set the controls to soft-land, and put the pods down on a green space.  As soon as she touched down, her pod was surrounded by four Dwin.  Keesha removed her faceplate, stepped out, and spoke in the old way, with her voice.  “ Hello.  I am Keesha.  My son and I need food and shelter.”


A male Dwin stepped forward.  “Your son?  You have no son.  No one is with you.  You are alone.”


Her heart thumped wildly as she looked around.  There was no other transpod, no tether.  Panic flooded over her.  Jaybo!” she screamed.  Jaybo, where are you?”   Running about, she scanned the landscape, looked in her pod vidiceptor, continued screaming Jaybo’s name.  At the Dwin she shouted, “Where is he?  What have you done with him?”


“She is mad.  Unhinged,” the Dwin buzzed.  “Remove her to the Halcyon Space.”


“No!” Keesha cried as they bombarded her with memrix distortions.  She fumbled blindly at her pod for the photon beamers, but against her fingers felt only empty air.


                                                            *   *   *   


She awoke in a silent, windowless room.  A water tube was attached to the wall beside her bed.  She seized it, greedily drinking a large amount.  It cooled her throat.  On the table beside her, she saw a tray of apples, with a knife for peeling and cutting.  She picked out a fruit, cut it in slices.  The patterns of her memrix seemed confused, twisted.  She ate very slowly, rementing that she had not had food for a long time.


Images scalloped the edges of her memrix.  A small child was playing in a green space.  Jaybo?” Keesha murmured.


“Was that your son’s name?” asked a female Dwin who sat nearby.


Keesha wrinkled her brow.  She hadn’t noticed anyone in the room till now.  “Who are you?” she asked.


“I am Zimora,” the figure replied.  Keesha knew it was a female by the topaz jewel that dangled from her chin.  Her flaxen boy-bob hair and round body were exactly like all other Dwin.


“Are you real?” Keesha asked.  “Or a holoimage?”


“I am Zimora,” the female repeated, extending her hand for Keesha to touch.  It felt soft and doughy.  


Keesha’s memrix spun with images of herself and someone named Miklo.  They made love, lived in a domiorb, celebrated the birth of a child.  Jaybo?” she murmured again.


“He cannot hear you,” Zimora said.  “He is in our world now, learning to become a Dwin.”  Her eyes glinted with fiery arrogance.  


“Why have you taken him from me?” Keesha asked, her sadness overlapping her memrix patterns.  “He has less than two years of memrix,” she said, from another time long ago.


“We are teaching him,” Zimora said, starting to fade.


“Don’t go,” Keesha cried.  “I don’t want to be alone.”


Zimora vanished, swept backward through a rift in the threads of time.


Keesha’s memrix bumped along a dark narrow passage, while tendrils of heat and ice hummed and whispered at her from the past.  The shapes in her memrix coalesced into shimmering echoes as she heard the familiar white hiss of the threads of time opening and closing around her.  Then she knew it was all an illusion - - Zimora wasn’ t real, this room wasn’t real.  She was somewhere that had no other side, a dimension flat and pale.  She focused all her rements on the shadows in her memrix.


Either the Dwin had drugged her - - the water and the apple? - - or, she had been thrust into this otherwhen by a distortion of the space-time continuum that was caused by a fault in her photon beamers, Perhaps she could undo it all by going back into reverse time.  If she could get back to her pod, perhaps she could reprogram the control rods.  Zimora?” she called.  “I know you are still here.”


“Yes.  I am sitting near you.”


“I know you’re not real.  You’re part of the distortion.  But I need you to become real again, so that I can reverse to the moment before I landed.”




“So that I can test my memrix, ”Keesha made up quickly.  


“As you wish,” Zimora said, unfading.  


A shallow mist enclosed the space around them.  Keesha said, “Sit still, Zimora.  I’m going into Delta, using your topaz jewel as my prism.”


The female Dwin shrugged.  “Do what you want.  You’ll never escape from here.  We’re angry at you for trying to leave.  Dwellers are not permitted to leave through the holes in the sky.  The penalty is death.”


“Then they did kill Miklo,” Keesha murmured  But I’m still alive, and I intend to stay that way.  And to find Jaybo.”  She focused on the topaz jewel that dangled from Zimora’ s chin, and as she blotted out everything else in her memrix, the prism began to revolve.  Keesha entered the Delta wave and slipped backward in time.


                                                            *   *   *


Thousands of memrix patterns assaulted her senses.  She smelled hatred, ugly with the stench of rotted maggots, and saw it loom before her in layered shapes of the Dwin, their doughy bodies gathering round her to shut off her air.  Almost smothering, she pushed  against the puddles of their flesh.  They suddenly became all around red, hard as apples, the thick stems clawing at her throat like talons.


“Get away from me!” she screamed.


Their fat, rolling bodies smashed into her, leaving huge bruises on her arms.  They buzzed, “You are a traitor!  Your husband plotted against us!”


Anger seethed within Keesha’s bones and she wanted to fight them barehanded.  She remented that her warrior parents had fought them and lost.  And they had destroyed Miklo for almost escaping.  “I will not be a prisoner!”  she shouted.  “You abolished us into the world of memrix and took over the Realworld, but don’t think I’ll accept that.  I will once again be free!”


As the Dwin-apples barreled toward her again, she seized the knife.  With it she lashed out, ripping their skins, leaving red whorls of blood everywhere.


Why was she in battle in her memrix?  She had never fought the Dwin.  And then realized: she had killed them, over and over, in her imagination - - for stealing her identity, her husband, now her child.  Her memrix included not only life’s real events, but everything she ever wished, thought, imagined, or visualized.  


Keesha looked down at herself and saw she was wearing the armor of a warrior.  Her travel tunic was covered by the frosted breastplate and body shield of a Belleterre woman of the fifteenth century, when the Dwin first landed on their planet to start the long war.  The bloodied knife in her hand had become a sword, and she stood facing Zimora, leader of Dwinworld.


                                                            *   *   *   


The battlefield reeked with the odor of long-dead warriors.  Zimora had shapeshifted into a lithe, slim beauty, who thrust out at Keesha with her sword.


Their weapons clanged as Keesha evaded the strike.  She was amazed at her own skill.  It had been passed down to her from a generation eons ago, long before battles were fought with firepower, then laser beams, and now thought waves.  


The female Dwin smiled.  “You have come back from many centuries not yet created, Dweller.  Do you think you can defeat me now, as you have not in the future?”   Behind her, the landscape kept drifting from day to night, sun to moonlight, from mountains to forests, as myriad worlds superimposed themselves over each other while time danced.  


Their swords rang out with a rush of futile blows.  “Why have you done this to my memrix?” Keesha telemented to the Dwin.


Zimora lunged again with her weapon but Keesha swiveled aside with agile grace to safety.  Zimora said, “You caused this yourself, Dweller.  It is against the laws of nature to create a paradox in the stream of time  You went outside the holes in the sky, where there is no other side.”


Behind them, thousands of other Dwin sprang up out of the earth, the males shapeshifting into leathery, muscular swordsmen, the females into lean, beautiful warriors.  


Keesha’s heart cringed.  She was done for.  She could not fend off this multitude; they would slay her before she could even raise her weapon.  But they did not attack her.  They battled phantoms of the past, unseen forces that slashed and sliced the Dwin, sending gouts of blood flying into the fetid air.


Her weapon poised but not in strike mode, Zimora telemented, “This is what we endured, Dweller  - - this carnage.  See it.  Smell it.  Hear the rush of blood like a river that swells and overflows its banks.  Our Realworld was destroyed.  But we did not despair.  From our eidetic memory we plucked the makings of a new Dwinworld.  We conquered planet after planet with memrix patterns that we fashioned from the mind bits of their dwellers."


Her nerves tingled as Keesha listened, her sword ready if needed.  Now she knew that the Dwin had stolen the minds of many races of dwellers.  Each victory empowered their mental abilities and reenergized them to go farther.  


Zimora continued, “We evolved into shapechangers and telepaths.  We separated reality from conscious knowledge and created memrix patterns that were beneficial to the community.  But you, a common Belleterre female, dared to defy our boundaries, to go outside the holes in the sky, beyond time itself.”


“Only to save my son!” Keesha telemented.  “I had no choice.  I had to seek a parallel world that would provide us with the nourishment you no longer supplied.”


“Fool!” Zimora shouted aloud.  “We were at war.  We were under memrix attack by the mind stealers from the galaxy of six black moons.  We fought with our mind bits not only to protect Dwinworld, but the Dwellers as well.”


Keesha swallowed hard, tasting again the water and apple.  “Why didn’t you make this known to me on the wavenet?”


“We did.  But it fell on the dead ears of your holoimages.  We gained victory and resumed our normal schedule of the Productivity Era.  All the Dwellers are now sharing in the new surrounds, well and happy in their own private domiorbs.  But you had already left in your transpod, beyond our reach.”


“Where is my son?” Keesha demanded.  “Is he all right?”


Zimora glared at her, her eyes like two fiery slits in a chasm of darkness.  “Find out for yourself, Dweller.  Go look for him in the holes in the sky.”


Zimora raised her weapon, and before Keesha could prepare a stand, the sword skimmed along the side of her head.  She felt the rush of air, then pain, then saw the blood dripping from the strands of her hair.  Zimora’ s blow had sliced off Keesha’s right ear, and with it, the crystal granule behind it.


                                                            *   *   *   


For a moment, Keesha floated in Neverspace, her hand soaked with the blood of her wound.  She heard the hiss of the time-threads and saw daylight beyond them.


Her memrix slid into focus and she remented all the events since she landed her transpod and was confronted by the Dwin.  The place where Zimora had severed her ear was painful, but the bleeding was slackening.  Keesha reached down and tore off a piece of her tunic, pressed it to her soggy wound.


She walked along a street that was vaguely familiar.  Trees lined the walkway, and a green play space surrounded each domiorb.  The sky was blue, blended with streaks of golden sunshine.  She heard the chirping of birds and smelled the fragrance of flowers.  Where was she?  Her memrix could find no answer.


Weak and faint, Keesha decided to seek help.  She felt drawn to the nearest domiorb, crossed the green space and went to the door.  A young man of about twenty-two answered her buzz.  “Yes?”   Something about him seemed very familiar.  Did she know him?


Keesha tried to smile.  “I need help,” she said.


“Yes, I see you’re bleeding,” the young man said.  “Come inside.”   He helped her in, and she immediately recognized her own domiorb.  How could she be home?  And who had lived here since she was gone?  The young man called out, “Mother, would you come here, please?  This young woman needs medical attention.”


A middle-aged female came from another room.  “This is my mother,” the young man said.  “Her name is Keesha.  My name is Jaybo.  Please sit down.”


Keesha stared at their faces.  She was looking at herself and her son, twenty years into the future.  “This can’t be!” she whispered.  “It’s impossible!”


Jaybo took her arm and led her to a chair.  His mother brought a laser cloth and peeled away the wet piece of tunic.  “That’s a nasty wound,” the older Keesha said, cleansing it with the laser cloth.  “ But it will heal quickly now.”  She spread a thin film of repairing gel on the place where Keesha’s ear had been cut away, and the pain vanished.


“Thank you,” Keesha whispered.  “Don’t you recognize who I am?”


The older Keesha smiled, shaking her head as she placed her medical supplies back in the wall slot.  “No.  Are you hungry?  There is food and drink, if you wish.”


“But I am you!” Keesha cried out.  “And you are me.  Jaybo is my son, grown up.”


The mother of the future and her son cast puzzled glances at each other.  “The wound may have affected her mind,” Jaybo said softly.  “She is having delusions.”


“What year is this?” Keesha asked.


“We do not keep track of years here,” Jaybo replied.  “Our dimension lies beyond the calculation of time.”


Keesha took a deep breath and began again.  “ My name is Keesha, and I am twenty-four years old.  In the year twenty-seven twenty-six, my son Jaybo was two years old.  We lived here in this domiorb, and were under the governing rule of the Dwin.”  She looked from one to the other and saw the lack of understanding on their faces.  


Jaybo said, “I know nothing of Dwin.  I grew up here, in Free Community, and I’m a scientist.  I chart space distortions, fusion curves, and split flows for the aerotravelers.”  


Keesha kept shaking her head.  “But that’s in the future.  I’m from the past.”


“We do not think of it as past,” Jaybo told her.  “All time is simultaneous.  It forms the Nowtime stream, at zero point energy.”


Keesha vaguely recalled that phrase.  “I came through the time threads,” she said, almost to herself.  “Somehow I have landed in the parallel world of a different time.”


“Would you like some hot tea?” Jaybo’s mother asked.


Keesha nodded and accepted the cup the older Keesha handed her.  “Thank you.  Do you understand that I’m from the past and you’re from the future, and we are each living different parts of the same life?”


Jaybo sighed.  He suddenly looked very much like Miklo, and Keesha’s heart tumbled with emotion.  “I’ve already explained that past and future are not separate.  Time is not linear, but infinite.”


“Perhaps that is true for you, here,” Keesha said, sipping her tea.  It was hot and had a delightful flavor that tingled the inside of her cheeks.  “But I’m from another place.   I must find my son who was two years old when I left.  My life will be empty without him.  I need to return to the past and my small son.  I don’t know where they are keeping him.  I must go back through the threads of time to the proper year.”  She tried to get up, felt dizzy.


Jaybo put a steadying hand on her arm.  “Rest a while, until you are feeling stronger.  Then we will talk again.”


Keesha nodded and wondered if it wouldn’t be easier to stay here, with Jaybo grown up.  But almost immediately she knew it wasn’ t right and rejected the idea.  These two belonged to another world, had lives of their own.  No, she must go back to her own time.


Jaybo gently placed a quilt over her knees and pressed a wall code that shut out the sunlight.  The room darkened with a thick silence.  Keesha closed her eyes and slept.


                                                            *   *   *


Someone was shaking her.  When Keesha opened her eyes, she saw starshine through the obwindow.  It was no doubt very late.  She looked up into the face of the older Keesha.


“I’ve brought food for you to eat before you go,” the older woman whispered.  “Don’t make any noise.  I don’t want top wake Jaybo.”  She placed the tray on the table while Keesha sat up.   “After you eat, I want you to leave.  The old transpod is in the hindyard,  still usable, with the child pod attached.  Here we use jetpacks so it has stood idle, but I checked the photon beamers.  They have held their charge.  They will power you far.”


Keesha tasted the food.  It was familiar, like something she had prepared herself.


The older Keesha sat close.  “I know who you are,” she whispered.  “I knew immediately, but said nothing because I was afraid it would upset things.”


Keesha swallowed.  “What do you mean?”


“With Jaybo.  He was only two years old and doesn’t remember.  We landed here safely and began our new life, away from the Dwin and Zimora.  This community accepted us, made us welcome.  You must find a like place for yourself and the child.”


Keesha frowned.  “But first I must return to Dwinworld to look for him.”


“You will find a way through the holes in the sky.”


Keesha finished her food and stood.  “It was very good.  Thank you.”  She studied the older woman’s face.  “May I see?” she asked.


The older woman nodded, lifted her hair away from the side of her head.  A film of thin skin had long ago grown over the ear wound.


“Are there many of us?” Keesha asked.


The other Keesha shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Perhaps hundreds.  Perhaps thousands.  Each dimension has its own frequency, its own realtime, all living parallel lives in different places within the time threads, one photon apart from each other.”


Keesha nodded.  The two women embraced quickly, and the older Keesha went to the obwindow to watch the younger’s departure.  “Godspeed,” she said.


Keesha fastened herself into the transpod, checked the child pod, set the controls, and fired the photon beamers.


Within nanoseconds, she was sliding against a froth of darkness, the light beam from her helmet etching a path before her.  Endless shadows danced along the perimeter of her vision, and suddenly her memrix overflowed with visions and rements.  


Her memrix had been almost dormant while she was in the last dimension, but now it sprang to life.  Keesha focused on navigating the way through the holes in the sky back to Dwinworld.


She was suddenly vaulted end over end, sucked into a vortex of negative energy.  The old transpod held up well, protecting her from rads and interspace debris.  She fired her reverse trigger and all calmed.  Her pod righted, and she  found herself gliding through the faint hiss of the time threads, back into the past.  A streak of pink in the east told her that a sunburst of dawn was bleeding through the dark.  She powered toward it and navigated homeward.


                                                *   *   *


 She landed in the green space surrounding Council House.  As she stepped from her transpod, she noticed the neighborhood domiorbs were no longer free-floating, but were stationary on their own green space.  Keesha saw two Dwin walking from Council House.


“I need information,” she began.  “Can you tell me - - “


“The meeting is over,” the Dwin telemented.  “The new Productivity Era is a great success.”


“No, you don’t understand,” Keesha said.  “What year is this?”


“Twenty-seven twenty-six,” the Dwin telemented.


“Oh, thank you, Lord,” Keesha said to herself.  Then she asked, “Do you know where Zimora is?”


“She lives there.”  They pointed to a nearby dwelling.  It was Keesha’s own domiorb.


                                                            *   *   *


She upmented the entrance code and went inside.  Everything was the same as when she left.  The holoimages of Jaybo and herself had been deactivated and stood immobile against the wall.  Jaybo?” Keesha called.


“He’s not here,” Zimora telemented from the sleep room.  When Keesha went in, she found the leader of the Dwin lying on the sleep mat, her attention focused on the prism in the ceiling.


“Where is my son?” Keesha demanded.  “What have you done with him?”


“He is in the learning place.  He is being taught the glorious history of the Dwin, including all our victories.”


“Where is that place?  I want him returned to me now!”


Zimora pointed upward.  “That prism takes you to Farspace where you communicate with those gone past.  That is not in our technology, and when you're there, you are beyond our control.  That is not acceptable, and I will not allow it to continue.  First, I must learn how it is done."  She glared at Keesha.  “You will now show me.”


“I’ll show you nothing,” Keesha telemented.  “I want my son returned to me.  Now!”


Zimora rolled her short, round body to a sitting position.  “Dweller, I command you to give me the upment codes that you use to converse with spirits.  It is the only thing missing in our paradroid technology, and I must have it!”


“There are no codes,” Keesha said.  “It is not a technology.  It is a meditation, a mental bending of the brainwave patterns to allow supernatural visions to enter the mind.”


“You lie!” Zimora telemented.  “Nothing can enter the memrix unless it is implanted through our crystal granule.”


Keesha stared at the Dwin leader.  “You sliced off my granule, yet my memrix seems to be functioning very well.”


Zimora stared back, but said nothing.


Keesha continued, “Obviously, the human brain is able to originate thought, process ideas, and retain memories, all without your so-called Productivity Era.”


“Careful, Dweller,” Zimora snarled.  “Or do you wish to return to the battlefield with me?”


“Without the granule, you don’t control my memrix any more, Zimora.  You can’t send me anywhere.”


The Dwin leader paced a few short, quick steps.  “Ah - - but I have something you want, Dweller.  I know where your son is.  Do you?”


Keesha’s anger flared.  “You have no right to keep him from me.”


Zimora placed her hands on her round hips.  “When you show me how to enter the realm of those gone past, I may consider his return to you.”


Keesha had no idea if the Paradroid mind was capable of deep meditation.  But she had to give it a try.  “You agree to return Jaybo to me if I teach you the meditation?” she asked.  


Zimora nodded.  “I agree.”


“Lie down on the mat,” Keesha instructed.


Zimora rolled herself down.  The topaz jewel in her chin slid to one side of her face as she lay back.  “Now what?” she asked.


“Look only at the prism.  Blank everything else from your mind.  Concentrate, and breathe deeply.”


Zimora did this but after a few seconds she shook her head.  “It is not working.  There is more you are not telling me.  You must come with me, so that I will know you do not lie.”


Keesha lay down next to the Dwin leader.  “It takes time, Zimora.  Focus on the colors of the prism, and watch as it slowly turns.  Go deep and give your mind over to the turning colors.”   Keesha felt herself being drawn into the Delta wave.


Zimora remained silent for a short time, then said, “No, it isn’t working.  All I see are rainbow hues.”


Her voice faded and Keesha was deep into Delta.  The holoimages of both Dwin and Dwellers floated past.  Zimora, are you with me?” Keesha telemented.  “Have you entered Delta?”


There was no reply.  Many faces from the past drifted through Keesha’s memrix, then Miklo appeared.  He said, “My dearest, the Dwin spirits are visible to you but not to Zimora.  Paradroids are not able to visit beyond the curtain of darkness.  She does not see what you see, but only dreams, like a sleeping child.”


“Then how can I convince her to give Jaybo back to me?”


Keesha, think.  When did all this begin?  You must reverse time.”


“And change what happened!”   It was clear to her now, that she would never be able to force Zimora to free Jaybo, and the Dwin leader would continue to make false promises.  She remented the other Keesha, who had found a way to safety and a new life in a parallel world.  She would do the same.  “I will leave you now, Miklo.  I will find that precise moment before I left, and return to it.  Then Jaybo will be with me”


He smiled.  “Goodbye, dearest.  I see success on your path, but you must travel it alone without me to guide you.  I have no power in your world any more.”


Keesha nodded.  “I know.  I love you, Miklo.  Goodbye”


She blinked, and the room came into focus.  Beside her on the mat, Zimora slept on.


                                                            *   *   *


Keesha went back to Council House and found her transpod, with the child pod still attached.  After she brought them home, in Miklo’ s laboratory, she uploaded the original compuments.  When she entered the scrip into the governing sensor, small bursts of anti-matter exploded within the particle accelerator.  As she began to compuload them into the beamers, she felt time slip from her grasp, and a shimmering froth washed over her.  She floated through a river of collapsed time, and within the fragments of her memrix, she saw the threads, heard the hiss.  Shavings  of the past fell about her, and a newness broke free within her memrix.


Jaybo?” she called.


“Yes, Mama?” he replied, coming to her.


“You must step inside this pod, for we are going on a journey.”






© 2005 by Vera Searles.  The short fiction of Vera Searles appeared recently in BEWILDERING STORIES, UNSPOKEN DREAMS, EPITAPHS ANTHOLOGY, and NAKED SNAKE ONLINE.