The Question-A Sci-Fi Novel

This page is my Sci-Fi novel titled The Question.

Check back every week for a new chapter!

The Question

Chapter 1

“The rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”
Mark Twain

In the beginning of the end of the history of old Earth, history would repeat itself once again, you’ll see. But always moving forward, the end would be the beginning and time would take on new meanings.

Buzz-buzz-buzz-buzz… “Oh, for Pete’s sake!” Jo was late. She overslept this morning and knew her students would have a field day with her when she got to class. “John, wake up!” she moaned. “You’ve got to get gone! I am already late!”
For math students, they were pretty spicy. This year was really something different. It seemed the world had changed since just last year. Last year they were polite, shy nerds that only asked questions when she forced them. Sometimes she would make statements that were untrue to get them to try and correct her. Half the time that was the only way to get a rise out of them.
This particular morning she was running late and feeling groggy because she’d let John talk her into going out to the new wings place downtown. They ended up staying much later than she wanted to because he got into a dart game with some guys that were being a little obnoxious with Jo. Neither liked violence, and being a computer programmer, he never really had the time for Karate lessons as a kid. He was a prodigy and got into college by age 13. He was now a professor at the same college she taught at.
He quickly turned their attitude into a game of darts instead. Being an upper class, young professor and having the IQ of 160 without the insanity most high IQ people have to deal with, he even made them think it was their idea. Winner take all…the game, the round of drinks and the girl.
Even though she knew they could never beat him at darts, she was still a bit peeved that he would include her in the winnings. She wasn’t’ property to be gambled away. Still, if it made him feel that he had won her tonight maybe she would give him the “prize” she knew he wanted. After all, she knew he was just playing a role. Having fun with the rednecks.
They were just friends, but they sometimes let the line get blurry. Usually only after a few drinks or after one or the other’s birthday party. It kept both of them from needing a real marital thing she guessed.
Maybe it was just habit from spending so many years in college then making her career in school as well. Since she was 17 years old she was in college and vowing never to let anything come between her and learning. Then when she was satisfied that she was as smart and knowledgeable as most of her friends, she started teaching. It gave her the freedom between semesters to do whatever she wanted for a while. She just didn’t want to spread herself too thin by being tied down to routine and the needs of others. All she needed was to get laid once in a while and to have a good friend like John. The next day they always resumed their friendship and the respect of being colleagues instead of lovers.
The biggest one was being an ass. He kept on making eyes at her even though it was obvious that Jo wasn’t there by herself. He bought her several drinks, even though she returned them without hesitation. John was getting a bit upset too, and finally challenged them to a game of darts.
He got on their good side by telling them that Jo liked to be fought over and said to them, “It’s obvious I could not beat you in a fist fight so the only and obvious way we can fight over her is to play darts.” They went for it, hook line and sinker. Actually, one of them had a dozen hooks in his fishing hat. “Best two out of three darts?” he asked.
The big one smiled as if he might be the state champion and said, “Fine with me, lets go nerd boy!”
John pulled some darts out of his pocket. They didn’t seem to realize that anyone pulling darts out of their pocket just after a challenge might be playing them. Another thing they didn’t know was that these darts were rigged. Diametrically opposed magnetic darts with a small disk type battery. One turn of the shank to the left and the darts came to life. A little invention he came up with himself. The metal grid in the dartboard served as a repelling force that made the darts head straight as an arrow for the center. That is as long as he was close to start with. Bull’s-eye every time.
If he got drunk when he used them though, every single one of them would never touch the board at all.
He let the big guy go first. It was them against him, and only one of them had to play. Seemed they were in a great position to win, hoping for an even better position later alone with Jo. Which was why she was upset. How would they get out of this if the unthinkable happened? She thought about calling the cops in advance just in case. She did lean over and let the bartender know there might be trouble soon.
So the big guy the others called Bubba, went over and stepped up to the line. He did seem to be weaving a bit, Jo gratefully noticed. One dart-a double 20. Jo was less comfortable than she already was. Second dart-single 20, but dangerously close to the middle. Third dart-a bulls-eye.
Damn! Not comforting! She was starting to sweat now. She thought about trying to sneak out the front door but one of the guys was busy looking her up and down, no doubt thinking about later.
John stepped up to the line. The other guys had talked too loudly about the bet and 6 or 7 others had come over to watch, most of them the rednecks friends. “At least there’s that.” Jo thought to herself. “Their friends would never let them start a fist fight over a bet they lost.” She hoped.
John lifted his dart hand and drew back. One, two, three…he let the dart fly and it struck squarely in the center of the dartboard. She swallowed hard, not nearly a third of her uneasiness gone, even though a third of the darts were gone to their destination.
He swallowed and acted like it was just a lucky shot. All the time he was really thinking that they were simpletons for thinking they would be able to have Jo without even asking her first. He raised his hand again, dart at the ready and let loose. Bulls-eye!!! That’s 160 to 200!!! No need for the last shot. He’d won, and there was nothing left for them to do but shake hands and express how sorry they were that they wouldn’t have the chance to take this gorgeous raven-haired beauty home. They Snapped their fingers in front of them and their faces showed real disappointment, enough to make her almost feel sorry for them.
He came back over to the bar and leaned over close and whispered in her ear...”I sure hope you appreciate my winning. These were my regulation darts.”
She waited until they were in the car before she turned around and slapped him as hard as she could. His head even snapped sideways and he almost went down.
“I guess I deserved that.” He said. “ I must have let the drinks inflate my ego. Still, you know I’m good at darts. Can’t we go back to your place and discuss my triumph in detail?”
She laughed in spite of herself and whispered, “I guess so, maybe it’s just your ‘magnetic’ personality.”
That night after a heated session on the couch, she made him promise he would be gone by the time first light came. He grumbled about it but knew not to press it too far, after the antics he put on last night. He would just have to get his breakfast at Denny’s on the way to work.
She got dressed, looking to make sure he was gone and then grabbed a black cup of coffee from the carafe she started before jumping into the shower half asleep. Out the door she went, keys in hand and smiling in spite of herself remembering the night before.
She got to the university ten minutes late for class and walked into her room to the cheers of her students. Seems a couple of them convinced everyone else to give a round of applause when she came in. Someone shouted, “All hail the Queen, The magistrate of math!” After the quieted down some, someone else said loudly, “I hope two plus two doesn’t equal pi minus 42 inverted, that would roughly equal how late she is!”
“Quiet down! I was just grading yesterday’s tests and it took longer than usual because I got a wrist sprain trying to write all of the unusual amount of F’s I saw.”
It got very suddenly quiet in the room and she gently said then, “Now if you’ll turn to chapter 23 of your sad lives, we’ll get started.”

Reverend Meyers had just finished praying beside his bed after two hours of soul searching and asking God to give him another sign. Two nights ago he had had a dream. A dream like none he’d ever had in his life. He was accustomed to hearing God’s voice when he prayed. God would tell him things and talk to him, comforting him when he was frustrated. Frustrated by his congregation. Frustrated by their lack of tithes. Frustrated by the greed of the world. He never complained when people were sinners. That was what they were supposed to be. That’s why he had a job. He complained because his own church didn’t do their part. The saved. Sure, it was a small congregation, but every Christian was supposed to tithe their ten percent. It was for the church. They had to pay for mortgage on the building though the land was donated by a widow when she died. They had to pay the light and heat bill. They had to pay for the organist and the sign that he weekly made up a cute slogan for.
They had bills. He himself took no salary. He wasn’t married, nor did he have children, but he hoped one day he would find the right, God fearing woman to call his wife.
It was getting harder and harder these days to get good Christians to pay tithe. He lived in a very modest parsonage and only took from the till to pay his food and basic needs. Just last year a deacon sued the church for an injury he received tripping on a broken step leading up to the chapel. He wanted $25,000 for medical bills and pain and suffering.
Fortunately, his lawyer was halfway decent and got the guy to settle for just the medical bills plus another $3,000 putting the final total to just over $5000. He was able to put enough guilt on the congregation about not having tithed enough to fix the step that they gave. They gave just enough, he noticed, to cover the bill. So much for being able to get the new P.A system he had hoped for.
He got into bed with hoping God would talk to him tonight still on his mind. He had gotten no conversation with his savior this evening. It was Saturday night and he still didn’t have the sermon ready for tomorrow morning. He usually had it ready a week in advance. The secretary needed time to get the program ready for services, hopefully by the Tuesday before so she could pass them out at the Wednesday night services.
He had actually cancelled services a time or two when he didn’t feel that the spirit had led him when he was trying to write his sermon for the coming week. That happened very seldom though. He almost always had an open line to God.
This time though, he may have to wing it. There was just not enough money in the till to buy next weeks food, let alone the copy bill for the programs. “Please Lord, give me something to tell your people by tomorrow!”
He sighed and lay his head down on the old, flattened pillow that gave him a crook in his neck by the start of most mornings.
That night he was visited by a dream he would never forget. One that would shake his faith to the very core over the next few years.
In the dream he would later call a vision from God, he saw a great metallic beast. It had the shape and skin of a man, but he knew it was not a man. It was stealing the souls of a multitude of people who crowded around it, praising it as a god.
The first woman came up to him and prostrated herself before him saying, “Oh, though intelligent god, have mercy on me! Please don’t eat my flesh and consume my bones for your pleasure!!!”
The great beast looked upon the woman and said, “Oh thou smartest of women, be humbled by my greatness!” Then he waved his hand and she became as a pillar of salt, frozen in front of this beast. Then a great rain of light came and dissolved her into dust. A wind then came, and blew her away to the ends of the earth and she became as one who had never lived.
Then a great voice came to him saying, “Heed my words you purveyor of truth; truly I say to thee that the time is at hand when I shall come and take my people. The faithful will be taken up and into the sky to be coddled in my bosom. As a thief in the night will I take them and they shall see the heavens as the lost sheep of Jericho!”
The heavens above the great beast opened and took him. He ascended into the clouds and a great earthquake shook the ground. A large rift appeared in the ground and swallowed up the reverend and he fell, down and down and down and on the way to his doom he felt ashamed. Ashamed that he was judged and found unworthy to be taken up with the rest.
At the end, an angel came to him and swept him up and back to earth. The angel set him down upon his feet and said, “It is not your time. Feel not ashamed, for the God of your fathers is not yet come. You shall find neither rest, nor respite for your dreams and truly, you will beg for death but be not afraid, the God of Isaac had not forsaken you. You may tell your sheep that some will be taken. It is not the rapture, but a theft. Those taken will be like God; One day to them is a thousand to you. They shall see the heavens before you and they will not covet it as they should. Go and tell your people.”
He woke up in a sweat, terrified by his dream. It had the feeling he felt when he communed with God, but also the fear he felt when he knew the Devil was in front of him trying to tempt him with lies