Arn’s First Breakfast
Since we had fallen asleep earlier than usual, Arn and I woke up two or three hours before daylight. McKaren was nowhere in sight.
“This is so strange,” Arn said, rolling over and stretching. “I’ve never slept indoors before and I’ve never slept anywhere except on the ground.”
“Yeah, I kinda’ noticed you threw the pillow on the floor and laid your head on your arms, like usual.”
“Laying my head on that thing probably would’ve messed up my sleep, Tammy. Where’s McKaren?”
“I’ve been checking the other rooms to make sure all the supplies are in order.” McKaren said as the door to the huge storage room silently slid open and McKaren stepped into Gramps’ workshop.
“Why would they not be?” I asked.
“There would be no reason. I had not previously checked them, however. After you two have something to eat, I will accompany you on a tour of the facility to acquaint you with the equipment and supplies stored here.”
“Is it still raining, McKaren?” Arn asked?
“Yes, it is lightly raining. The fields are muddy and you cannot work today. The rain will increase in intensity during the day, but will be very light when it is time to eat weed soup. Both of you need to pick up your soup at the end of the day so you will not arouse suspicion. Then you will return here for the night .”
“I’m not used to eating in the morning,” Arn stated matter-of-factly.
“If you don’t want to eat, it is not necessary,” McKaren replied.
“Will we be eating in the morning from here on out?” I asked.
“No, Tammy. You will not. You will be returning here almost every night and will eat a small amount of food to supplement your soup diet, which is inadequate. However, if you eat here each morning, you will not be lean like all the other workers. They will want to know where you are getting the extra food.”
“Tammy and I will eat today in the morning, but only today.” Arn stated confidently.
“You don’t like fat women?” I teased.
“I don’t want anyone trying to follow us to see where we’re getting the extra food,” Arn explained.
McKaren moved to the food stocks, removed two packages, squeezed them, then handed them to us.
“In sixty seconds you will have warm oatmeal with dried cranberries and walnut chunks. The spoon is folded and attached to the side of the package.
We opened our packages of warm oatmeal. Arn tentatively tasted a bite, then immediately took more spoonfuls.
“Is this what you always eat where you come from, Tammy?” Arn asked as he chewed. “I haven’t ever eaten this stuff. I think I like it though.”
“This is one of the things I sometimes eat for breakfast.”
“The first meal of the day, Arn.”
“Oh yeah, I think I read about that. You ate three times a day, right?”
“That was the idea. I usually ate twice a day, breakfast in the morning and dinner in the evening.”
We finished our oatmeal while McKaren busied herself closing the bed.
Underground Storage Facility
“Shall we tour the facilities?” McKaren asked, turning and walking toward the open door to the huge storage cavern.
Arn and I followed McKaren through the doorway, down the ramp and to the movable machine. The three of us stepped on. McKaren said nothing.
“What do we do now?” I asked.
“Touch the glass panel,” McKaren directed. “Connect. Then make your request.”
I touched the glass panel on the machine. I suddenly understood that the information I wanted was all about me, stored in the walls, the shelving, the floors, and in the cases of supplies stored on the shelves.
Show me a map of this facility, I thought.
A map of the facility appeared in my mind.
There is more than one room! There are several smaller side rooms. Hidden rooms!
At my direction, the piece of equipment on which we were standing slowly moved up and down each aisle and I told Arn what was stored on the shelves as we passed them. There was clothing, food, medical supplies, soap, toothpaste, nail clippers and just about everything anyone would need to survive on Hoth.
“How do you know what’s here, Tammy?” Arn asked.
“The information system is telling me as we pass the shelves, Arn”
“I don’t hear anything,” Arn shot back.
“We’re communicating directly, Arn. The system communicates directly with my mind.”
“No. Communication, Arn.”
“How come I can’t do it?”
“I’ll teach you, Arn.”
“I heard that. That is totally creepy, Tammy. Can you read my thoughts?”
“I’m not reading your thoughts, Arn.”
Who Is All of This Stuff For?
“What you find in here you will not find on the surface, Arn,” McKaren commented.
“I’m figuring that out. But the stuff, the shirts and hats and other supplies look almost like what I would find on the surface.”
“Yes, they’re similar, but improved. The clothing is more resistant to the surface temperatures. It will keep people more comfortable than the clothing you’re wearing now.”
“Who’s it for, McKaren?” Arn asked warily. “Tammy and I couldn’t possibly use all of this stuff. There’s enough stuff here for thousands.”
“There’s enough for three thousand nine hundred people, enough to clothe everyone on the planet until the human race has disappeared,” McKaren answered.
“You said the human race is almost done for, right?”
“That is correct, Arn. This is the last generation,” McKaren replied. “None of these people will be reproducing. When they have all died, all that will remain is a dead, barren planet.”
“So everything in here is for the people of the planet, goons included?”
“Yes, it’s for everyone, Arn,”
“How do we get it to them, McKaren?” I asked.
“We’ll be setting up a distribution system in the next few days.”
“You’re here to help us then?” Arn asked.
“Yes, I’m here to help, not harm. I do not harm,” McKaren advised.
“Who or what are you McKaren?” Arn asked.
“You would not understand, Arn.”
The Side Rooms
“What’s in the side rooms, McKaren?” I asked, changing the subject. “The map I see shows the rooms, but does not indicate their contents.”
“The map will show the contents after you have seen the contents. At this time, the two side rooms on the east side of the facility are available for us to visit.”
We moved to the east side of the facility, but found only an empty space where the map showed the first door should be.
A door appeared.
“Open” I told the door, and just as the doors on McKaren the Land Rover had opened, the door guarding the hidden room opened. We entered.
“This looks like some of the stuff from Gramps’ old workshop, and some stuff I don’t recognize,” I said.
“It is,” McKaren said. “Gramps loves to invent gizmos.”
“What are those rods leaning in the corner that were glowing when the door was opening?” I asked.
“Very astute, Tammy,” McKaren answered. “They’re amber rods, and they should be in another room. I will move them while you sleep. You will need them at another time.”
“Where will you move them to, McKaren, and why will I need them?”
“You understand how it works, Tammy. You will know that information when you need it, McKaren replied.”
“Thank you for jogging my memory. Of course! Amber rods, huh?”
“I’m lost here, Tammy. What are you two talking about?” Arn asked.
“Gramps was an inventor. I’ve seen some of this stuff, but not all of it. It was useful where I come from, but most it is not useful here, Arn. Gramps left it here, though, which puzzles me. Maybe he can’t get it, or maybe he’ll get it later. I don’t know. Based on what McKaren said, that I’ll need the amber rods at another time, I’m guessing Gramps left this stuff here for us to use later.”
“Almost correct, Tammy. As I said, you’ll know what the amber rods are other items are for when you need them.” McKaren repeated.
“Let’s see what’s in the other side room,” I suggested.
The three of us stepped back aboard our ride and moved to another empty spot on the east wall. As with the last room, the door was not visible, but became visible and opened when I asked. We moved into the room, and as usual the lights came on when we entered.
“There are only a few pieces of equipment in this room, McKaren. I don’t recognize any of them. What are they?” I asked.
“This room appears only when you or I are present, Tammy. As with the other, smaller rooms, it does not exist in this time continuum. When we enter this room, we are not in Hoth. We have entered this room so you and Arn can see what excavated and constructed the large underground space we were just in.”
Pointing to a squarish machine that was a cube about five feet on a side, McKaren said “This piece of equipment….”
Where Are We?
“If we’re not in Hoth, where are we?” Arn interrupted.
“We’re on earth, in a different time, when it is not called Hoth,” McKaren politely answered.
“Can people from that side enter this room?” Arn asked.
“Yes, some can.”
“Can we go out the other side and….”
“You may not enter from Hoth and exit on the other side,” McKaren interrupted. “Nor may those from the other side enter and exit in Hoth.”
“But could I leave something in here, and someone from the other side come in and find it?” Arn asked.
“Theoretically. However that person would have to know how to get in here, what they’re looking for and the significance of your message.”
“I didn’t say anything about a message,” Arn retorted.
“I am aware of nothing other than a message that would have any meaning or value to anyone who would enter this room from the other side.”
“Can I return to my time through any of these rooms?” I asked.
“No. You must return by the way you came,” McKaren told me.
“How does this work?” Arn asked. “How can these rooms be in another time than Hoth?”
“That is an explanation, or series of explanations, we will save for another day, or rather for other days. Pondering the nature of time requires many adjustments in your thinking. Time is not at all what you think.” McKaren replied.
“As I was saying, this piece of equipment was used to excavate this underground space and to construct the floor, ceiling, walls and supporting columns,” McKaren said pointing to the squarish machine. “The excavated material was reformed into denser materials to make strong, thick floors, ceilings, walls and supports.”
“You’re saying this machine dug this hole, then turned the dirt into the concrete walls and floors?” Arn asked.
“Yes. The material resembles concrete, but is somewhat different than standard concrete. In addition to soil, this cavern originally contained large quantities of rock and minerals.”
“Did this piece of equipment also make the clothes and other stuff on the shelves?” I asked.
“No, Tammy. The large black box on your right did that,” McKaren answered.
“So we can use it to make more?” I asked.
“Possibly, but that should not be necessary. The population of the planet should have everything necessary.”
Past or Future?
“Did that machine use dirt and rocks to make all that stuff?” Arn asked.
“The equipment uses available materials. However, some plant and animal materials are not available on Hoth, so had to be brought to this room from another time when earth has an abundant supply of plants and animals,” McKaren told us.
“Does it come from the past or the future?” I asked.
“That information is not available to you at this time, and is not needed by you at this time,” McKaren reminded me. “If and when you need that information, it will be available to you.”
Several unidentified smaller objects were stacked on shelves on the wall to our left.
“What are those various pieces of equipment for, McKaren?” I asked.
“Like the two larger pieces of equipment, they too do not exist on Hoth, but only in another time. However, they perform functions that will be useful to you and Arn and the inhabitants of Hoth. When you need them, I will explain their function to you. In the meantime, it is too much information for you to absorb. We will focus on those things you need to know now.”
“McKaren, you’re giving us the brush-off. Why?” I asked.
“We have today and tomorrow together. After that, we will have an hour or two each night when the days are long, then as much as five or six hours each night when the days are short. This is the season when the nights are short. Therefore we should focus on the information you will need in the immediate future. Later, when the nights are long, we can discuss information you will not need until a later time. As your culture would say Tammy, let’s do ‘first things first.’”
McKaren stepped out of the small room and Arn and I followed. Arn was the last one to exit. I looked over my shoulder as he exited. The moment he was out of the room, the door disappeared. The wall was once again solid and appeared impenetrable.
“Do these people know who Santa Claus is, McKaren? Would they recognize him if they saw him?” I asked, growing excited as a plan formed in my mind.
“Yes, most of them do. Oh! I love your idea! It just needed a woman’s touch,” McKaren exclaimed.
“Hey, you two. I’m out of the loop here. You’re communicating mentally, aren’t you?”
“Yes, Arn. We are. We have allowed each other access to our thoughts. Would you like to be included?”
“Either that, Tammy, or can we all talk out loud?”
“I’m totally willing to allow you to know what I’m thinking, Arn. Are you willing to allow McKaren and me to know everything you’re thinking?”
“Oh. That’s part of the deal?”
“There is no deal, Arn. You may choose to allow us access to your thoughts or you may choose not to. However, if you allow us access, you will find it very difficult to hide your thoughts from us. We will not be seeing anything in your memory, however, except those things you retrieve from memory and are currently thinking about.
“A few days ago the field goon grabbed me by the collar and was going to drag me away. That is in your memory. I won’t see that incident in your memory unless you’re thinking about it. If you’re thinking about it, I will see the parts of the incident that you are recalling and thinking about.
“If you’re thinking about how you wanted to break his face, I’ll see that. If you’re remembering and thinking about looking at my butt just as he walked up, I’ll see that.”
“This could be embarrassing, Tammy.” Arn looked concerned.
Even though I didn’t know what he was thinking just then, I’m sure he was trying to remember what he had been thinking during that incident. Maybe he had been looking at my butt! I was enjoying his looks of discomfort.
“Arn. Dear Arn. I don’t know what you’ve been thinking, but whatever it has been, the only one who might be embarrassed is you. I don’t get embarrassed. You’ll get over it quickly.
“You were ready to run naked with me through the rain yesterday. Allowing each other access to our thoughts shouldn’t be all that much more difficult. Take your time. When you’re ready, tell me. If you decide to try it, you can change your mind anytime. In the meantime, you’ll just have to guess at what McKaren and I are thinking about with each other.”
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer?
“Have you ever read about Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, Arn?”
“Exactly!” McKaren fairly shouted. “Yes, let’s do the whole nine yards. Maybe even throw in a little snow for effect. We’re going to have a little fun on Hoth! Who would have guessed?”
“What?” Arn asked.
“He’ll make a good elf, don’t you think, McKaren? Other than you and I, who on Hoth will know that elves aren’t supposed to be six feet tall?”