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   Chapter 2 The Dues of the Tempor

The Future Is Heaven By Rian Torr Characters: 21994

Updated: 2018-11-04 12:02

Rockwell opened his eyes in a start.

He lay splayed out on a rotating table.

Wires connected him to a bio-meter.

They were monitoring his transition.

He had been Reclaimed—made Immort.

The Future was Heaven and he was there.

It was not too far ahead of his own time.

Humanity had learned how to live forever.

Then they learned how to time travel soon after.

Henceforward they vowed to retrieve all past lives.

They would not disturb the timeline—but quietly bring them forward, at the point of their deaths—into the future where they were kept alive and given immortality.

This was the true Afterlife hereafter he was told.

The answer to the riddle of God was now known.

Man himself was God to his past—in the years on.

But they would not go back for everyone—not at all.

There were courts and juries to decide who survived.

Those deemed unfit to carry on were all left behind.

And those who were chosen were bound to duties.

In return for their salvation they had to serve it out.

They were mantled Tempors and sent back in time.

Each Tempor had to Retrieve a thousand lives.

Only after then could they go on into dreams.

The rest of eternity would be seamless—but there were these final tests—these daunting tasks of transcendence.

Each death was unique—so each Retrieval required creative approaches—sometimes stealing a strand of dna—other times gravitating their fleeing souls into instant black holes that teleported them into a cell bank in the future times—in tandem with regenerating their body from cultures—in order to provide them with a fresh new shell for their new adventures. The more any Tempor could retrieve of a person the better—and the closer they timed it to the Artifact's moment of death—the better they could salvage a man or a woman in their entirety—whole and intact—unshattered.

They teamed him up with an long-timer Boston Black.

He wore an undertaker's outfit like all the old guard.

Boston had failed many a Retrieval and still served.

"How many Retrievals would you say you've tried?"

"Oh, Hell. Must be going on two thousand now."

"And how many … have you ..."

"Saved? Seventy-five and counting."

"Why is it so hard? What's the problem?"

Boston had a good laugh—and chuckle.

He led Rockwell to the Temp Jumpers.

They scrubbed down in the clean room.

Then they slipped in to the Jumpgear.

Powering on they signaled for Rewind.

Doors closed and they stood in darkness.

The circular room began to rotate in lights.

The building vanished revealing landscape.

The landscape twisted and shifted in time.

The years rolled backward—far back now.

They landed in the times of the old west.

A woman was just about to die giving birth.

She was a saint throughout her entire life.

The Round of Deliberation judged her right.

She was a perfect candidate for Retrieval.

Her papers were signed and sealed.

Her Tempors were assigned.

Old Black and Newbie Rivers.

In their Jumpgear they stood outside the spectrum of common light—where the human eye did not see.

They stood by and watched her give birth.

They watched uncomfortably as she died.

Then they stepped in and went to work.

They clipped hair, swabbed saliva and skin.

Black put the Jumpstarts against her temples.

The nanotech attracted her soul and kept it.

The Jumpstarts were then coded to go home.

They then returned to the present with her dna.

The woman was cloned and recombined in spirit.

But the soul was strictly kept attached for energy.

It was the spark that electrified the body so alive.

She was afterward encouraged to subdue spirit.

She was made Immort and trained as a Tempor

One more was thus resurrected from past time.

It was a long hard climb reuniting the family.

"Get some sleep, " Boston ordered. "You'll need it."

"What do you mean? I feel wired—wide awake."

"Trust me. Tempjumping takes a lot out of you."

"Tomorrow we should try for two Retrievals."

"Don't get a head of yourself. One life at a time."

"I have to get back to Astara somehow, that's all."

"Who? You mean your girl from your past life?"

"I … I … I promised her I would see her soon."

"Son, you must get a grip. There's no going back.

"There must be a way. They say Immorts are free."

"Yes free, free to explore and distort the present."

"Free to make the present become their dreams."

"Yes, but whatever Astara you imagine is not her."

"She will be the same—if I think she is the same."

"That is a psychosis, son. You need to move on."

"No choices in love. We all do what we must."

"Listen to you … You sound like a fool, boy."

"If you met her you would know, trust me."

"Just get some sleep. Tomorrow's a big day."

"Two Retrievals, Boston. Two before noon."

"It cannot be done, kid. It has rarely been so."

"I never turned down a challenge. Bring it."

"I'm going to have you reassigned to a desk job."

They shared a laugh and sauntered off to rooms.

The next morning Rockwell was slow to rise.

His bones ached as his new body acclimatized.

He was hurting from yesterday after all, but now he had to live up to his challenge—and so the started again.

First thing they Tempjumped back to the 1950s.

A surfer was just attacked by a shark—near death.

His name was Green—Gomer Green—the legend.

No one on the west coast was unfamiliar with him.

He had broken all the records—with all of the luck.

But his luck had finally come ashore—in a frenzy.

Black and Rivers walked on water, for their densities were adjustable in the Jumpsuits. They watched in horror.

"God, can't we stop it when it's this bad, honestly?"

Boston shrugged. "Be my guest, kid, " he offered.

Rockwell smirked, bowed his head and marched.

He approached the man who thrashed about now.

The shark had him by the leg dragging him down.

Rivers shortly jumped in to the frigid, bloody water.

He aimed his Hammershot and fired—blasting shark.

He pulled Green from the broken ice—up to safety.

Boston helped them both back above water. They held Green up long enough to Tempjump him back home.

They immediately hit the emergency medic alarm.

Green was transported to the med rooms pronto.

His leg was stitched back together by lasers—flesh restored to new by vibrational technology—and while they were at it they took 10 years off his life to bring him to prime.

"Sometimes they do that, " Boston explained. "You probably noticed they took a few years off you too you know. But after we graduate, we can choose what age to live at."

Green was deputized as a new Tempor and sent off.

So the cycle continued—and it was only mid-morn.

"Well done, but slow down there son, it's too much."

"Don't you want to get off this rat-wheel, Boston?"

"Sure, kid—but we're Timejumping, remember? We can take all the time in the world. We'll get there one day—and when we do, we can just Rewind ourselves to fresh."

"Are you sure it works that way? I'd be worried."

"You worry too much Rivers. But on with your mission—let's see what you got in you—what you carry."

Next that morning was a Jump to the deep jungle.

A Journeyman—epic odyssey-maker—called Vigor the Dark Hunter—was meeting his match with a jungle cat.

The cat had him by the neck—and snapped him back.

Vigor was strong, however, though his spine broken.

He actually still fought back through blinding pain.

Black and Rivers Tempjumped right beside the two.

The cat sensed them and took off through the vines.

Vigor rolled about in the agony of nerve spasms.

"Damn it, " Boston cursed. "That can't happen."

He bent down and Templejumped Vigor fast.

"It sensed us? So some things can sense us?"

"Yes ..." Boston sighed. "We are here to some."

They sampled Vigor's dna as he gasped at them.

Rockwell reviewed his training. "Now it changes."

"Yes—now we've altered the Great Timeline. There will be forms to fill out, but it will be alright. It was just a cat. How much difference could the change of trajectory in one cat's life really make, anyway? I'm sure the Aegeless One will give it a Pass and still count it toward another soul saved."

"Who is this Aegeless One anyhow? They mentioned him all through training—but never where he came from."

"Where It came from. The Aegeless One does not identify with gender, time or even existence. It is Other."

"'The perfection of what humanity has become.'"

"Yes, exactly—from the Temp Testament. The Aegeless One was the first to go full Immort. Others have followed suit to degrees—but the majority still only enjoy limited immortality. Most will never achieve full Immort and only live two thousand years or so. It has to do with coding."

"What do you mean coding? Like in the mind?"

"In the Bodymind. Parameters must be met."

"So does this Aegeless One have the answer?"

"It claims ownership over the Final Secret—but has not yet divulged it—though many pilgrimmages have been made to the Temple at the Mount where it lives—to beg mercy of it, that it might bestow what it knows upon humanity. But though it always holds court for whoever purports to deserve more—it has not yet given the ultimate arithmetic to anyone yet. It claims only the noblest deserving would ever learn."

"Brand new future—but just a lot more of the same."

"No one ever said this was paradise, my friend. We said it was Heaven—what Heaven is often thought to be—with near immortality, free energy and unlimited creative potential—the arena for enlightenment is divine—but the likelihood of corruption and distortion no less than before."

"What we need is a leg up—some way for leverage."

"Trust me, Rivers. It would be done, if any way."

"But everyone's just giving up on the past—Retrieving until they complete Tempor—then disappearing into a limbo of fantasy of their own mind's conjuring—like that's life."

"Now you're starting to see it my way newbie."

"This is worse than even a few decades ago. It's worse than Restarting all the time—it's like Retreating all the time."

"Well said … Now look at this … Vigor's soul's signal has been scrambled by his spinal injury—so our Templejumps have no effect. We can retrieve his body but not his mind data—or Spirit atoms. He will be a half-boot."

"You mean we will rebuild his body just blank."

"Yes, what in training they called the Tabula Rasa clause. If a Retrieval can only attain custody of the Artifact's body—then a hollow humanoid would be rebuilt and allowed to live on Immort—despite having no memory of past life. If, contrarily, a Retrieval can only attain custody of the Artifact's Spirit—then that Spirit must be given a new body of it's choosing—in order to also live out in the present eternity of free Immorts—what locals

had come to call Eterniti.

"So Vigor will not know about the jungle?"

"He will not even know how to speak."

"They will program his language."

"Yes—every nuance recoded."

"But how will he choose what to be—what kind of man to be—when he does not even remember being a man?"

"That, my friend, is the Final Question, for what they found would happen is that, somehow, people always know."

"They always know what they really want to be?"

Boston nodded, sunk in thought. "Somehow they know, deep inside—instinctively beyond mind—beyond body—perhaps beyond even Spirit—which flies in the face of everything Aegeless One says about how misleading and malicious the Spirit is to the Body. You will remember from training, in the texts, he teaches that in order to be most human, we must separate from Spirit—leaving mostly Body—and just a little bit of Mind. Well, this phenomenon, however, would seem to suggest that it is in fact the Spirit that lingers long after the Mind is gone. Spirit appears to be central."

"So I'm surprised they are even allowed to live on—being such counter-examples of what Aegless One teaches."

"It is a political maneuver—for the New Allegiance needed some cooperation in order to placate the plebs whose family and friends were being denied Retrieval based on zero atomic Spirit count. Most of the so-called 'New Ones' quickly grow desperately depressed and commit suicide—being detached from their natural groove in the Great Timeline."

"It's all so crazy—yet all I think about is Astara."

Boston only shook his head. "This too shall pass."

That afternoon they saved three more lives—putting them both on an extended high—especially Boston who had his sights set high again for the first time in forever. They Retrieved a jumper—a euthanasia—and an elder pneumonia. Tomorrow they would get back a doctor with a heart attack, a pilot with a death wish—and a baby with a birth defect.

Nine Stars of Fire were awarded to them again and again—for consistent and outstanding achievement. They made a great team—a Tempor pair extraordinaire—a couple of cloaked bionic Immorts from the future traipsing about history plucking out the gems for posterity. They were starting to actually enjoy themselves—and especially the looks on people's faces when they got so good they were saving Artifacts more often before they died than after, sometimes only seconds before, just to give them front row seats to their own transitions. To the Artifact—Black and Rivers were dark shining phantoms from the tunnel of light coming to escort their souls off to the Afterlife—or whatever came next.

That year they ascended to the upper levels of Eterniti—under ever more watchful favor of the Aegless One. They Retrieved golfers from lightning strikes, chokers from windless pipes, screamers down endless drifts, skiers under avalanches—mountaineers on perilous peaks—some just dying in their sleep. Some were saved from venomous snake bites—some from train wrecks at night—some from disease's ravages—some from doctor's carnages—some from brain stroke—capsized boat—gun shot—skull crack—knife suicide—accidental work injury—cancer—stress—you name it—they saved it. Eterniti was looking pretty different with all the new faces hanging around. They all talked about Black and Rivers and how they were going to save everybody one day. That was the common joke anyway.

Black liked all the attention, when he was honest with himself—but Rivers more preferred to keep his mind on the task at hand—which was to graduate and look for Star.

If it was not for her he was not sure he would have survived this long—lost to a reason for swinging on.

One day they were about to save a teen, Calistico Caldrey, who had gotten killed running a train on his bike. He was the kind of kid who thought he was invincible and pushed everything way too far. So this time was his last of the luck and beginning of the buck back, as he got hit, was rushed to the hospital—then fell in to a coma and put on life support.

Black and Rivers entered the room where he lay and they knew right away that something was different. Calistico lay motionless, but the monitors jumped alive as they entered. It was obvious the kid could sense their presence on some level. They were caught off guard, because this had never happened before. Calistico had some aura about him, which they could see clear as day—on first glance.

"He's supposed to be in a coma."

"He is—but incredibly conscious."

Rockwell stepped up bedside.

"You can hear me can't you?"

"He's supposed to be dead in five."

"His signature is strong, it's strange."

"I agree, something does not fit here."

"No light is so strong this near the end."

Then suddenly, Calistico opened his eyes.

"Jesus!" Rockwell exclaimed, staggering.

Boston bolted bed-side, as the kid talked.

"You have come to take me to Hell, no?"

"Kid—for God's sake—there is no Hell."

"You were going to the future my boy."

"But now you look half-alive at least."

"Yes, we need to go, this is very bad."

They started to back away. They had definitely just totally skewered the Great Timeline by engaging the kid. If anyone else sensed them there, they would be in big trouble.

"Please leave me for God, " he begged.

His eyes closed again, breathing slowed.

Then they saw his soul rise up, vanish.

The room lit up in a big bright blue flash.

The Tempors were temporarily blinded.

Afterward, they interrogated each other.

"What the Hell was that? What was that?"

"That, my friend, " Boston surmised. "That was Something much bigger than Eterniti ever was."

They returned to the Present to regroup.

They were each grilled on the incident.

Elders interrogated every aspect of it.

The Aegeless One even listened in.

All agreed it was an alien illusion.

The Winged Ones—or Traitors to Reality-—were tricksters from another world, come to brainwash humans into believing there was any other Afterlife than Eterniti.

They called them the Arcs, after their lightshows.

They often appeared as just small orbs of energy.

"I don't buy this alien agenda, " Rockwell confided in Boston later. "It's all too convenient. Why do they care?"

"Because they're devils from stars, Rivers. What other excuse do they need to lead humans astray on Earth?"

"So they come and they steal away our souls?"

"If we don't get to them first, often they do."

"But what if they're … real angels, Boston?"

Black laughed uproariously. "Get real, son."

So they carried on with their Retrievals. They continued to save record number of Artifacts. But Rockwell was beginning to lose his way, his drive—even despite his single motivator in reuniting with Astara, he could not help but begin to think that perhaps this future was Hell on Earth.

The people of Present were all too materialistic for his truest likings—too involved with their myopic little worlds—too selfish and greedy—too dismissive of all things emotional—too ego-maniacal about the supremacy of man over all.

He was beginning to feel like a pawn—a player being moved around—tricked into thinking he was helping people by bringing them forward to the future—when in fact, he could not help but begin to speculate, he may after all be simply delaying their ascension to the true Heaven—the true Afterlife—instead trapping them on Earth in Eterniti.

The Dues of the Tempor may be permanent in a negative sense—and he may now be locked in a death spiral with the very opposite of what it meant to be Human.

Chatper 3 Vanish into the Void

One day Star had enough. She left Junior under the care of Dranna and set out to do what she must. She wandered about the city aimlessly for a time, picking her spot carefully—working her way up to the inevitable task.

Wherever Rockwell had gone, if he was right after all, if Dranna was right—if everything she believed as a little girl was actually true—and there was a place beyond—then she would go there to find her true love again. No man in this world would ever be good enough. No romance would ever live up to what they once had. She had heard it said that people only ever get one chance at real love—and if they miss it, if they break that bond—then they are left dangling ever on.

She did not want to spend the rest of her days that way. She was not afraid if there was nothing after the end—but what she was afraid of was waiting forever to find out—in an existence rendered hollow by her haunting memories. She cared not whether she merely vanished into a void—as long as she did not slowly wither away in a vice of despair.

So she stepped out in front of a bus. She caught the bus that day, right full on—in the middle of rush hour.

The traffic came to a halt as the scene unfolded.

She lay limp in the street in a pool of crimson.

Her light was slowing leave from her eyes.

She managed to blink twice but that was it.

Then she saw a flash and two figures arrive.

To her astonishment and amazement it was him.

Rockwell walk up to her in an aura so crystalline.

He knelt by her and held her hand, urging her on.

"You can come with us now, we are her for you."

But the very presence of her old flame enlived her.

She suddenly came back to life, so Tempors left.

On her way to the hospital she spoke of him.

After her recovery she told others about him.

She had seen him for real, she was sure of it.

It was not a dream—not a mindless fantasy.

She knew it was really him come to see her.

She prayed he would come again very soon.

She called out to him more than ever before.

She left notes by the door and on the walls.

She stayed up late repeating his name.

She woke up at night dreaming of him.

She would see him soon. She knew it.

There was little love could not cross.

Black and Rivers returned to the Present.

"What does it mean that she was my lover?"

"No one picks these missions, my friend."

"So it was just coincidence I found her."

Boston could only shrug. "I can't say."

"She was tight there, so close to end."

"Your probably triggered her back."

"This means more paperwork, right."

Boston sighed. "No rest for the wicked."

"But this means she's always with us."

"As long as they don't write her off."

"You really think they would do that?"

"You know as well as I what they do."

"They might think she's a risk now?"

"Any threat to the Timeline is a risk."

"I will not lose her. Not all over again."

"Son, there's little else that you can do."

"I'm telling you now, that is the line."

"Don't make me knock it out of you."

"Don't test me on this if anything else."

"I can't lose my ticket into Eterniti."

"Not asking you too. I will do it all."

"Whatever you're thinking—just don't."

"Eterniti is not enough for me I'm afraid."

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