Part 77 of the ongoing saga of The Great Being, the One Self that manifests as each of us.
Athenius scooped up the cosmic smartphone and tapped on it as he’d seen Melchizedek do. Cosmic smartphones had been around forever and once they assumed their present size and shape they had stopped changing appearance over time. Easy to use with one hand and almost weightless, able to call anyone in the Multiverse, they were almost as good as telepathy.
Sniike was still drawn back in ill-concealed terror, which he was gradually mastering. Melchizedek couldn’t see the screen with his eyes but through Athenius’s eyes he saw that the screen now showed the many text messages recently received. Now Athenius seemed shocked. “What is that?” he asked in a strong voice. He sensed something very important just out of reach of his mind.
“That’s called writing,” Melchizedek said gently. “You folks haven’t invented it yet.”
“Of course we’ve invented it,” Athenius retorted, insulted. “We use it to keep track of who owes what to whom.”
“Yes, we know,” Layla said and laid a friendly hand on his arm. “Writing has a great many other uses besides counting that you will appreciate.”
Athenius and Sniike were now very attentive. Layla had just made it clear they were being offered a Faustian bargain that they would be crazy to turn away. They were going to be taught and possibly equipped with powerful new weapons of dominance.
“Selling those trinkets are you?” Sniike asked, sidling up beside Layla.
“Not right now,” Layla said with a smile, “but we will send you home with a present.”
“Are you inviting us to your land?” Athenius asked, with his dignity returned. This seemed to confuse Sniike, who had not seen it coming. Layla simply nodded.
“We’d like a few days of your time to change your life and blow your mind,” Melchizedek said with a smile.
“What do you get out of it?” Sniike asked quickly.
“We want to help the best people lead the others,” Melchizedek said. Sniike seemed very flattered by this, not realizing that the Agents had selected Athenius and would just as soon be rid of Sniike if they could be.
Sniike was unsatisfied, suspicious, saying, “Yes, but you must want to get something for your selves…”
Athenius cut across him, “Sometimes a person does the right thing just because it is the right thing.” This embarrassed Sniike, who mumbled “Of course” unconvincingly.
“When do you propose to begin the journey, and how many days travel is it to get there?” Athenius asked reasonably, clearly interested in seeing a new land for himself, and finding out more about his expanded future options. He had responsibilities but could lay them aside and take time off, explaining himself later with some present they will have given him, proving the importance of his travels. He knew that many in the town council would be glad to have him absent, since he had irritated nearly everyone by his blunt honesty and passion for truth and accuracy. Perhaps these new people could teach me how to be diplomatic, he thought. Melchizedek and Layla heard it and made a mental note to accommodate.
“We’d like to leave as soon as possible,” Layla said. They were in the middle of the most densely-infested Rebel zone on Earth, trying to get in and out undetected.
“Sounds like an ambush to me,” Sniike said, as if to himself, and stood up, looming over them. Athenius prepared his body for motion, but Melchizedek and Layla merely sat comfortably and smiled up at him. “What if I just take that little trinket —” Sniike said as he reached over and yanked the phone from Athenius’s grasp, taking the latter completely by surprise. Then, feeling as if he clearly intimidated all of them, and encouraged by the frequent acts of violence he had seen at this and other such taverns in the past, he looked lecherously at Layla as if he would grab her next. Suddenly the light went out in his eyes and he sunk back into his seat, dropping the phone on the rough table. He came around only seconds later. “What happened?” he asked suspiciously.
“You needed to be brought under control,” Layla said as if to a beloved child. “You were acting rudely to us.”
Sniike spun around, looking for an accomplice with a blunt instrument, and felt for a swelling on his head that was not there.
“If we’re agreed then, shall we be off?” Melchizedek asked pleasantly.
TO BE CONTINUED
Best to all,
Image credit: The Cosmic Smartphone
I will be presenting at the ARF’s Audience Measurement 2016 conference in New York three times on Monday and Tuesday, June 13 and 14. On Monday the 13th first at 8AM, Dave Morgan CEO of Simulmedia and I will be showing how much improvement in purchaser reach can be generated in a television campaign using data science and set top box data. Later the same day at 11:20AM, I’ll be sharing secrets of building ROI optimization into crossmedia and creative planning. Then on Tuesday the 14th at Noon, James Fennessy CEO of SMI and I will be revealing the actual media spending shifts taking place and what they are doing to ROI.