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A square room, as stark as Jacquan True remembered it: his orange jumpsuit stood out in contrast against the white walls. The only furniture in the room: two chairs facing each other on either side of a metal table. One chair was filled by a fragile examiner named Forest Delgado, who motioned for Jacquan to take the other seat.
“Do you know why you’re back here?” asked Delgado.
“To play more video poker?” snorted Jacquan, crossing his heavy arms over his solid chest.
“I can see why you might think that…”
“Wait! Wait!” the prisoner interrupted. “It’s something of space, isn’t it? – outer space?”
Delgado looked surprised. “Why would you say that? Who told you that?”
“No one told me,” he said defiantly. “But I’m right, aren’t I?” He shifted in his chair, uneasily. “I dream things, you know. I dream the future.”
“Is that how you scored so well on the card games? – did you dream what would come up next?”
“No, no – when I’m playing poker it’s like the future whispers in my ear, so I can pick out which cards I want to keep.”
“And you win 93% of the time,” said Forest, checking a clipboard.
“That’s what placed me here. I was winning at cards and someone called me a cheater. No one calls Jacquan a cheater and lives! – Que sera, sera.”
“Logically, if you dream the future, why didn't you change things so you wouldn't end up here?”
“Well that’s the thing: you can’t change the future; you can only see what is going to happen beforehand…like a 30 second movie.”
“I may be able to get you out of here,” said Delgado.
“We’ve sent two flights to Mars, but they both disappeared.”
“Qui, I know.”
“With your ability, you could dream the trip one day at a time, and tell us in advance what is going to happen – so we’ll know how to change things on trip four.”
“Why should Jacquan help?”
“You’re in here for life. If you do survive, you’ll be set-up in modules on Mars for the rest of your life with three other crewmen – all prisoners with unique abilities.”
The inmate picked at his jumpsuit. “Can I wear something besides this obscene orange jumpsuit?”
“Anything you want – just make a list. When you talk to the warden, give it to him.”
“I suppose that anyplace is better than this. You have yourself a physic spaceman.”
“Excellent!” exclaimed recruiter Delgado. “In two weeks you’ll be on your way to Mars. Guards!”
May 23, 2023
The next five months proved uneventful as the crew of four convicts floated towards the Red Planet. 1 ½ hours each day was spent on exercising, and there were 3 meals served automatically by the kitchen appliances. This close to Mars, the Earth and Luna appeared as two crescents – the larger one blue and the smaller one white.
Ten minutes a day was set aside for each crew member to report back to Earth. This took place within a soundproof room with glass windows. Jacquan’s dreams were peaceful now and he told this to the camera.
The man who called himself Simon was blind. Eddie was deaf and was teaching Jacquan sign language. The fourth man – Wilson – didn’t have any obvious distinctions, but Jacquan thought he might have a photographic memory because he had been trained to manually land the ship if systems failed.
The computer awoke the physic during REM sleep – and made sure he wrote down what he had been dreaming about each night.
October 5th 10:15Z
Jacquan sat in the sound proof booth, 20 minutes ahead of his scheduled time. He watched his crewmates walk past, trying to give his report as calmly as possible. “This may well be my final transmission – as an accident will happen in 20 minutes that will kill everyone on board.” Eddie walked past and nodded towards Jacquan, and they nodded to each other. “I saw my fellow crewmates, suited up, helmets on, dead. The alarms were blaring – their tongues hung out of their mouths. As I approached the bridge screen two words were flashing.” Jacquan got out his notebook. “Magnetic Whirlpool. I have no intention of telling my crewmates what I saw because nothing I do will change the future. In my mind, they’re all dead right now – they just don’t know it yet.”
Suddenly Eddie opened the door to the booth, pulling Jacquan out. “I saw what you said about all of us being dead! When? When!”
“14 minutes,” replied Jacquan.
“Everyone to the bridge,” screamed Eddie. “Everyone suit up!”
As the others followed procedure, Jacquan went to the common area and got out a bottle of rum they had been saving for the landing. If you had to meet your maker, you might as well meet him hammered. The alarms went off and the lights went out.
14:23Z December 15, 2023
Jacquan slipped into the communications booth of his original ship.
“Jacquan True to Earth, reporting from the surface of Mars. It has taken me 6 weeks to get the booth fixed, and I’ll need to make this short. After a soft landing by the autopilot, I found the modules sent here earlier were in good condition. The three modules are now linked up. Everyone else is dead of course. Protocol says to jump into a suit as soon as the alarm goes off – but don’t do that! – You’ll suffocate because the whirlpool messes up the electronic mixing of the air inside the helmets, pumping in too much nitrogen. There’s enough air in the ship to last until everything goes back to normal, just wait it out.
“I have lots of food and the greenhouse is going strong. But I’d like someone to play cards with besides the computer –come on up. This is Jacquan True signing off, commander of the Martian base Baton Rouge. I’m off to take a nap now, so sweet dreams my Earth friends, and C’est la vie.”
John David Rose - Forgot to mention, I think the whole colonization of Mars element is very timely too.
John David Rose - I liked the idea of the crew with special abilities. This is good as a flash story, but I think this idea could easily be expanded for a longer story. Then you could add more members to the crew including members without special abilities, but you could also flesh out all those characters and create various conflicts. I think the idea of the future dreaming and the predestination it implies would be cool when juxtaposed against characters who were determined to overcome what Jacquan True sees as fated. -- John Rose
micheledutcher - I've been wanting to do a piece on ESP - future dreaming. This one was fun because it mixed in SciFi. Has anyone had a dejavu experience like this?
micheledutcher - This is one of my personal favorites. It's a good sci-fi story in 1000 words or less. Nice! Do you like it too or not? Holler back.
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