Gramps Told You What?
“What? You knew I was the person Gramps told you would be showing up because I said I could whip your ass?” I asked Arn.
“Yep. I’d forgotten that, but the moment you said it, I remembered Gramps told me you’d say it and also tell me you’re Shichi-Dan,” Arn answered, flashing a big smile and tossing his head back to get his thick sandy hair out of his eyes.
“That was the third thing I said that convinced you I’m really Tammy. What were the other two?” I asked, my attitude considerably calmer.
“Two really obscure things from earth’s past. At least they’re really obscure on Hoth,” Arn replied. “You said something about Jews in a closet, and something about a white horse. I’ve never heard or read anything about the Jews reference, and the thing you said you dreamed about someone on a white horse rescuing you, I’ve never heard that idea either.”
“Gramps told you I’d say that stuff?”
“Then why weren’t those two things enough to convince you who I am?” I asked.
“I figured maybe a goon spy might know that stuff.”
“The goons’ data banks do not contain the Jews in the closet or being rescued by someone on a white horse references,” McKaren informed us. “However, it is possible the ideas were passed down verbally to someone on the planet and still reside in the recesses of their memory.”
“So you had to hear the whip your ass line Arn?” I asked.
“I was just about certain you had to be the real Tammy, but it all seemed so unreal. You appeared out of nowhere a year and a half after Gramps disappeared. I couldn’t quite believe it. Then you said the ‘whip your ass’ thing and I knew ‘It’s really Tammy! Gramps was right. She’s here.’”
“I’m here, Arn, but I have no clue why. It must have something to do with you, since Gramps was here with you, and told you I’d be coming.”
“I thought you said you suddenly remembered everything when you found this place yesterday.”
“I remember who I am, where I came from, my family back there and things like that, but that still doesn’t tell me why I’m here, Arn.”
Do You Remember?
“Do you remember how you got here?”
“Sort of. I was walking by a stream. There was this guy sitting on a rock next to the stream hanging his feet in the water. I’d met him at a big party the evening before. I seemed to know him, and he knew my name and things about me, so I was embarrassed to admit I couldn’t remember who he was.
“I sat down with him on the rock and we were having this conversation about a couple of guys who wrote books. He told me I’d be making visits, but I didn’t know where and the next thing I knew everything was spinning. I don’t remember anything after that until I woke up next to you here on Hoth.
“He never told me where I was going or why or anything about what I’d find when I got here. You seem to know more about why I’m here than I do, Arn.”
“Gramps told me he was delivering a message from you. You told him to tell me you’d be coming. He told me the three things you’d say. He told me I’d really like you, maybe even more than he did, if that’s possible.
“He told me to totally trust you, even when it made no sense. He said he’s trusting us to take care of each other and said something obscure about a lot is depending on how this all turns out.”
“You’re awfully quiet, McKaren,” I said. Gramps convinced you to come here from somewhere. You know why I’m here, don’t you?” I asked politely.
“You know my answer, Tammy. That information will become available to you when you need it. It would not be in your best interest to have that information now. Trust me, when you see all of this from afar, this is exactly the way you know it must be. Remember exactly what I just said, and you will have your answer,” McKaren replied.
“The master of riddles once again,” Arn commented.
“Riddles only until you gain understanding,” McKaren answered with a laugh.
“Arn,” I interrupted, “I understand why you were slow to know I am really the person Gramps told you would be coming, but I’m not clear about why you wouldn’t tell me this is earth, the future of the earth I come from.”
“Like I told you, Tammy, we’re forbidden to ever use the old name for Hoth.”
“Yeah, but I thought I must be on some sort of a parallel planet or something. Since I knew the name of the place in the past, why couldn’t you just say ‘That is what they used to call this place. Somehow you must have come here from the past?’”
“At that point I wasn’t convinced you weren’t a goon. Even if you were the real Tammy, it seemed you needed to figure out for yourself that this is the same place you came from, only this is in the future of the time you came from,” Arn answered.
“Now that you two have that all figured out, do you have any questions for me at this point? If not….”
“Yes, McKaren, I have a few questions,” I interrupted. “You said you came here because Gramps asked you to?”
“Yes, Gramps convinced me to come to Hoth.”
“Why did you agree, McKaren?”
“I’m here as a favor to an old friend, a very old and dear friend, Tammy.”
“And who might that friend be, McKaren?”
“Why you, of course.”
“You know I can’t quite pull up that memory, McKaren.”
“You will, Tammy. You will. Should we not also include Arn in the conversation?”
“McKaren, what can you tell us to help us and Hoth?” Arn asked.
“In the coming years I will distribute most of the items stored in this facility to the inhabitants of this planet, which will make their lives more tolerable. The people of Hoth have only one enemy, time.
“As for you and Tammy, I will help you understand what happened to the planet. You will also accompany me as we survey the planet, especially the remaining human settlements. You need not accompany me when I distribute supplies, although you may wish to ride along once or twice.”
“When do we get to visit the other side rooms, McKaren?” I asked.
McKaren only smiled.
“If we have to continue working in the fields, when will we have time to survey the planet?” Arn asked.
“Visiting the other side of the planet can be done when it is night on this side of the planet. We can visit the North American settlements starting tomorrow so you can see them in the daylight, and then we’ll make time for you to see the others. You’ll still be working in the fields and getting plenty of sleep.”
“Is it raining in the other settlements right now, or just here?” I asked.
“Just here,” McKaren replied. “The plants should do well with the extra water, don’t you think?”
“Yes, they’ll love it,” Arn responded. “Are you making it rain here?”
Again McKaren only smiled.
May We See?
“If it’s not raining in the other settlements, why don’t we go see them now?” I asked.
“We can do that, if you like.”
“We like. Should we load up more chocolate pudding?” I asked.
“That’s not necessary. While you two sleep tonight I’ll be making deliveries to this settlement and a couple of others. Everyone will get new clothes, and the other two settlements will also receive packets of pudding. All the settlements have heard that Santa brought pudding here, so everyone is expecting pudding. The pudding will cement in everyone’s mind that the deliveries are from Santa.
“Grab a few bottles of water and we’ll check out three of the settlements on the west coast of this continent,” McKaren told us.
Arn and I moved to the storage shelves and picked up our water, then turned to find that McKaren was once again a large black armored Land Rover.
“Where are we headed, McKaren? I asked.
“The western settlements are all located on the west coast of North America except one, the one located close to what remains of the polar ice cap. There are a total of eight settlements in addition to headquarters. Three are in what was once California, two are in what was once Oregon and two are located in what was formerly known as Canada.
“We will be viewing the California settlements today. Would you prefer to travel quickly at a higher altitude, or move more slowly at a lower attitude, which will allow you to see some of what remains in the areas between the settlements?”
“Let’s travel at a low altitude for a little while, then we can move higher once we’ve seen some of the landscape,” Arn suggested.
We exited Gramps’ workshop and headed inland a few miles, then turned north, averaging a couple of hundred miles an hour for the first twenty or thirty minutes. Everything below us appeared barren. We saw no evidence of any kind of life, plant or animal. The planet had dried up and turned to dry, swirling dust.
“Is it like this all the way?” I asked.
“Yes,” McKaren answered. The few trees that remain standing are almost all dead. You’ll find almost nothing that appears alive. The cities are all in ruins. Here and there you may find remnants of buildings, towers, bridges and so on, but nothing usable. The only usable buildings are those the goons, as you call them, took over early in the chaos and fortified against the madness that enveloped the planet.”
“I’m convinced. Are you Arn? It’s all a wasteland.”
“Yeah, I’m convinced too. Let’s go higher so we can travel faster.”
Above the Clouds
McKaren took us up into the brownish, pinkish cloud cover and picked up speed.
“We should arrive at the first settlement, which is north of the former city of San Francisco in approximately eighteen minutes,” McKaren announced.
“Do we get to see what’s on top of these clouds, McKaren?” I asked.
“We can do that, which will only slightly delay our arrival time.”
McKaren ascended. The layer of clouds was thicker than I had expected.
“Why do these clouds never dissipate, McKaren?” Arn asked.
“They will eventually dissipate, but not for many years. At that point, very little life at any level will remain on the planet,” McKaren answered.
“Why is the planet so hot?” I asked. “I thought the cloud cover would make it cool down.”
“A thicker, denser cloud cover might do that. These clouds, however, do not allow the surface heat to dissipate adequately. Therefore, the surface temperature has not cooled, but has gradually increased.” McKaren replied.
We broke through the top of the clouds. Below us lay a continuous, brownish layer of clouds. Above us the sun shone brightly.
“This is more boring than the landscape below,” Arn commented. “But not as depressing. Since we’ll get there sooner I vote we stay up here.”
I agreed. Arn and I stopped talking and looked down on the tops of the dirty clouds that covered our world.
How could people have been so stupid and greedy that they did this to the planet? Now most of them are dead and look at what they’ve left for the rest of us – a death sentence in a place called hell. Now it’s too late to do anything about it. If I went forward in time to get here, does that mean I can go back in time to tell people what’s going to happen?
Would it even do any good? Would anyone believe me? Or would it be like warning lemmings there’s a sheer cliff just ahead and they need to turn around? I’ve always wondered – Are lemmings stupid or not? Why do they follow each other off a cliff?
We descended through the clouds and saw the ocean and the coastal mountains below us. Once again there were no signs of life. McKaren slowly descended on the ocean side of a barren, rocky coastal mountain and hovered a few feet above the ground, facing the brownish ocean.
“Why are we stopping here?” I asked. “I don’t see any settlement.”
“It’s behind us,” McKaren explained, turning us to face away from the water.
“I still don’t see anything. Where is everyone?” I asked.
“Exactly. You’re not supposed to see anything. That’s how this settlement escaped destruction during the chaos.”
The rock face before us opened and four men stepped out. They stopped and stared directly at us.
“I thought we were cloaked,” Arn exclaimed. “How can they see us?”
Two of the men pulled large guns from their waistbands and pointed them at us.
“Do something, Tammy,” Arn shouted.