Sentience Of Time – Chapter II
The following story is a work of fiction and is 100 percent original work. I will be publishing a chapter per week on Saturdays, which can be viewed right here on redOrbit Blogs / Sci-Fi Saturday. I have always been interested in writing science fiction and this is a step toward realizing my dreams. I hope you enjoy this serial novel a chapter at a time!
Sentience Of Time â€“ Chapter II: The Business of Danger
Jazz awakened, startled by a snapping branch on the forest floor. She sat up from her curled position and peeked out from behind a thick stand of brush from which she had been hiding. She tried to adjust her eyes to the dim evening light in the dense woods. Her eyes caught a small forest critter scurrying across the ground about 8 yards from her hideout. Her focus shifted upwards. A forest owl perched on a high branch swooped down across her path clutching with its claws the small mole-like critter before her.
Jazz whimpered quietly as the owl flew off out of sight. She twisted her upper body, looking behind her on through the dense cover. The forest was too thick to make out a good detail of what lied beyond the bushes. She sat quietly waiting for another snap of a branch or crunch of leaf litter. Nothing!
She pulled out the small black communicator from her pocket. She turned it on one edge and read a small digital display â€“ 10:00:03; 10:00:02; 10:00:01; 10:00:00, 09:59:59â€¦
She returned it to her pocket. â€śOnly 10 hours,â€ť she murmured under her breath, trying to give herself at least some comfort. Jazz quietly lied back on the ground in her small enclosed brushy cubicle. She peered up through the top of the brush. A small patch of night sky was visible through the tree tops. Her gaze remained on a single twinkling star that sat at just the right inclination above the canopy. She peacefully drifted back into a slumber.
(Flashback: July 22, 2074)
â€śRow four, track nine,â€ť A computerized female called out as Jazz pushed a few digital sliders along a lighted three-dimensional cube sitting freely above a cylindrical computer base. She pushed a red lighted button on the panel in front of her. A green light flashed across a seemingly invisible screen just above the panel.
â€śIncorrect configuration,â€ť the computerized voice declared.
Jazz looked at the screen of a small round digital assistant in her left hand. She then pushed a few more sliders on the cube. â€śRow-six, track two,â€ť the voice uttered. Jazz pushed the red button. After a few seconds the voice reiterated that the configuration was no good. A few seconds passed and a warning alert came across the screen.
â€śDamn it,â€ť Jazz said under her breath while jamming her head in a forward motion. She looked at the digital assistant and ran her finger across it. The screen scrolled a few turns and showed another code. She rolled her finger over it to check how many codes were left; another four were found. Jazz fingered through the codes trying to figure which one could be the right one.
Jazz studied each code closely. She looked up at the panel. â€śOne more incorrect try and its lights out for Jazz,â€ť she whispered sarcastically. She had it narrowed to just three possible matches. If the next attempt failed the system would shut down and alert authorities. Still, just having the system open was risky; if the security staff decided to run a system scan it would be lights out as well.
Jazz picked what she thought would be the most likely choice of the remaining codes. She shut her eyes and hung her head, taking a moment to pray silently. She looked back up and whispered, â€śNobody said this would be easy.â€ť
Of course it wasnâ€™t going to be easy. If it was, everyone would be doing it. Itâ€™s a high price to pay to get your hands on the right goods for â€śGlimmer.â€ť Jazz, who was dead set against the insatiable practice, wasnâ€™t above getting her hands dirty, however. She had bills to pay like everyone else and this was a damn good paying job. Of course, it had its share of dangers like most black market opportunities of the late 21st century, especially when it involved time jumping.
She knew of the dangers. Cobi Heathro, a veteran time jumper paid the ultimate price. Getting your genes splattered across the time-space continuum was not a pleasant thought, but along with high pay, comes high risk. Of course, Mr. Cobi Heathro didnâ€™t quite play by the rules either. He liked to live on the edge. If youâ€™re going to be a time jumper, you got to be clean. But Cobi was deeply into Glimmer, something that the council was also highly against with its employees.
And if youâ€™re not worrying about getting time splattered, you have to worry about being left behind. It had become a common practice to abandon time jumpers who were becoming a dangerous asset to business. For this reason, Jazz was on top of her game. She learned the ins and outs of time jumping and tracking down the goods.
Jazz moved in for the kill. She moved the digital sliders into position. She turned her attention to the panel.
â€śRow five, track seven,â€ť the voice uttered.
Jazz held her hand just above the red button for what seemed like an eternity before pushing it. A green light flashed across the screen.
â€śHello Dr. Grav!â€ť The computer interface lighted up and a small steel door slid open revealing a compartmental keypad.
Jazz sighed in relief. She then looked through the assistant and found the code for the chamber. She punched in the number on the keypad and off to her right she heard an unlocking sound. A large steel door opened, revealing the darkened chamber. Jazz sat the assistant down and walked toward the room. Once inside she knew she had limited time to find what she had been sent to recover. But it was not meant to be this time.
Jazz noticed a light emanating from the floor. She knew what this meant. â€śWait I am not ready,â€ť she called out. A wave of energy shuddered through the air around her. â€śIâ€™m not ready,â€ť she hollered. But it was over in a flash as the light from the floor enveloped her and then in an instant the room became devoid of human existence.
Jazz re-awakened from her slumber. She rubbed her eyes and peered up through the brush pile. She lied still in the darkness. There was nothing but silence. A good sign she assumed. She sat back up and pulled out her communicator. She looked at the small display on the edge of the device â€“ 6:26:12.
Jazz couldnâ€™t lie there and sleep anymore. She was cramped in the tight quarters on the brushy floor. She crouched to her knees and slowly crawled out of the thicket. She stood to her feet and brushed herself off. She was not sure of the time, but since nearly ten hours had passed Jazz was assuming it had to be close to morning.
Hunger was building as it had been nearly 24 hours since her last food intake. Jazz walked a few hundred feet through the woods to where the stream was. She knelt down and used an enclosed palm to scoop up some water. She drank down about three scoopfuls and wiped the remaining wetness from her face. Jazz wiped her wetted hand on her pants and sat down on the edge of the big rock she had used earlier.
â€śWhy arenâ€™t they looking for me?â€ť she softly spoke to herself. â€śOr, perhaps they are.â€ť Jazz reached into her pocket and pulled out her communicator again. She turned the box onto its backside and pressed a small indented button. A small screen cropped up and showed her location and the distance she was from the drop point: 2,440 feet.
Jazz ran her finger over the screen and another similar digital map popped up. This one showed potential nearby locations for life-supporting sustenance or possible safe havens. The closest source of potential food other than backtracking toward town was 6,031 feet from her location, in a westerly direction, which would have put her distance from the drop point at close to two miles, but still within range.Â Jazz closed the screen and put the box back into her pocket. She began walking west.
Stay tuned next week for Chapter III
Image Credit: lev dolgachov / Shutterstock