RENDEZVOUS WITH GOD
Shipping (per book) : 50
Genre : Fantasy
TARGET AUDIENCE: Teenagers, Adults
Pages : 360
RENDEZVOUS WITH GOD
When an alien falls in love with a nurse, the US President uses her to manipulate him in an effort to fulfil his lifelong dream of colonising planet Mars even as a dangerous race of aliens approaches Earth.
George Morrison stood at the edge of the third floor promenade overlooking the South Lawn of the White House like a king watching over his dominion. He wore a jet black tuxedo.His face was solemn and hopeful,a classically handsome face with chiselled features. Hehad a polished air of nobility about him. For many millions around the globe however, the air about this thirty-eight year old man wasn’t that of nobility but of a raw sexual magnetism.
Beside him stood the most elegant and expensive portable telescope known to mankind. Its silvery scope was tilted to heaven.
Morrison had all the qualities the president of the most powerful military in the world ought to have— eloquent, persuasive, responsible and thoughtful.However, he also had one more quality which outweighed and at times overwhelmed every other.
Ambition— relentless, blind and maddening.
In fact, to everyone in his circle of influence, he was perceived to be far more ambitious than all his predecessors put together, and he had demonstrated it once again this week, within the first few days of occupying the most powerful seat on Earth and against a much annoyed yet timid voice of sanity somewhere deep within him, by setting up a National Space Council.
His administration’s first space policy directive was to formally direct NASA to return humans or rather Americans to the moon to build a Lunar Research Base. The unofficial directive not revealed by him or spoken or even whispered to anyone yetwas to work towards achieving his dream, the one most sacred to him.A dream he had locked away somewhere deep within his mindbecause it could be safely revealed in the presence of likeminded individuals dwelling somewhere he could go when he had become the president because only then could he allocate millions of dollars to making it come true.
“You sent for me, Mr. President?” said a creamy voice.
Morrison turned. A man in mid-fifties, wearing a snazzy suit, stood at the threshold of the glass-walled solarium.“I did, Carl. How the hell are you?”
“Best time of my life,” Carl said,“the corridors of NASA are abuzz after many decades. All are singing praises for you. You’ve given us a sense of purpose.”
Morrison smiled modestly. He loved the fact that he held power and sway over important minds belonging to the premier space agency of the world.
Carl Fisher was a well-respected Astrophysicist. Years spent behind his work desk, in the simulation labs, space conferences and meets around the globe had taken a toll on his once radiant face, though there were hints of it in his sparkling auburn eyes than any other corner.
“Stand by me.” Morrison said.
A few steps before Carl was beside Morrison, the note of Morrison’s overpowering perfume hit him.The scent colluded with Morrison’s physicality to remind Carl of his president’s stature and magnetic persona.
Due to its enormous size,the telescope stood between them like an obstruction, like a third man.
“I come here often, you know,” Morrison said, “absolutely love the view.”
Carl surveyed the vistas with a pleased expression. The Washington Monument stood a fair distance away, bathed by floodlights in undiluted brilliance. A gentle breeze sang in Carl’s ear and caressed him as if congratulating him for finding a place beside the most powerful human on Earth. He let out a deep, gratifying sigh.
Morrison smiled. “Beautiful, isn’t it?”
“Hmm, I agree.” Carl said.
Morrison’s face drew in. “How ignorant you all are.”
Carl’s expression paled away. The change in Morrison’s tone was unexpected. “I’m sorry?”
“I said how blind you all are.”
“To what, sir?”
“The ugliness around. Don’t you get it? It doesn’t matter how stunning or large or modern our cities are. It never has. It never will. What matters is the goodness of the heart and nobility of the mind.”
Carl’s intelligent mind raced, searching for answers to make sense of the strange stream of words which had ejected out of his president. He failed. “I’m not sure I follow.” he said.
Morrison travelled his beautiful black eyes from the telescope to Carl. Carl understood what was being asked of him but a strange hesitation crept inside his body, asking him not to obey his president’s silent command.
“The view won’t bite.” Morrison quipped.
Carl let out an easy smile andstuck his eye to the lens.Every millimetre of it had been swallowed up by planet Mars.He straightened. “I don’t understand, sir.”
“Did you know I've been married ten years?”
“Not before tonight, sir.”
Morrison waved his hand in dismissal. “Please. Quit calling me sir. You are to be the most important man in my life. I want to be on first name basis with you. Understood?”
Carl failed to grasp where this strange conversation was headed. “Alright, George.” he said.
Morrison’s face softened. “So as I was saying, I've been married ten years. Ariel was my college sweetheart. She’s the only woman I’ve ever loved.”
“That’s good. Many people go through their entire lives without finding it.”
Morrison cocked his head. “I know you’ve never been married.”
“But I am, to my work.” Carl said as a matter of fact.
Morrison chuckled. “Yes, and that’s why you are where you are—thedirector of Flight Projects at Goddard.Always the first one to arrive at the office and the last one to leave.”
Carl leaned in as if letting Morrison in on a secret. “It can only be this way, George.”
“Oh, I know. Anyway, surely you’ve heard the rumour about us? Me and Ariel?”
“Uh… I can’t say that I have.”
Morrison crossed his arms. “Of course you have. The whole world is abuzz ever since I decided to fight for the Oval. You know, ten years of marriage, but still, no baby, that there must be something wrong with her. Or with me.”
Carl grimaced. Everyone was aware of it. “Oh yes. That.”
“Yes. That. Well, guess what? I ain’t impotent and Ariel is perfectly healthy to conceive. And so…”
“…there’s gotta be some other reason.” Carl completed.
“Exactly.”Morrison quieted down as if he expected Carl to know it.
Carl leaned in. “I think this is when you tell it to meor am I to guess it?”
Morrison shook his head. “I’ll give it to you straight up. We will notbring our baby into this world. Not on Earth. Not ever.”
Carl’s eyebrowstossed up before control was reasserted. “Well, that’s quite alright.” he said.“It’s your decision, but I don’t see how that’s got anything to do with me.”
“It’s got everything to do with you. You are the best astrophysicist we got.So you listen, under the guise of the Lunar Mission, you are to join hands with members of the Mars Society and get me up there. I want to be the architect of its colonization. I want to fly there with my family and never come back to this godforsaken globe. I can no longer allow the problems of this world to haunt me. Out of sight is out of mind. You understand?”
Saying Carl was shocked would be an understatement. Morrison’s words had rocked the foundations of his very existence. He lowered his head to assimilate and understand what had entered his ears. Was he inside some strange dream? After a while, he lifted his face to Morrison. “But George,what about the address you gave to the whole damn world only this morning about wanting to put a permanent research base on the moon? That’s what this party is all about, isn’t it? To celebrate wanting to put Americans on the moon again?”
Morrison smirked. “I never wanted that but public support and the government’s approval. I have that now. And you’ll have your funds. I’ll make sure you have enough to carry out all the crazy experiments you can think of. Just get me a solution to get there before my tenure ends.”
Carl’s face drew in. “Four years in not enough for such a mission.”
“But we have eight. Rarely has a President not been elected the second time.”
Carl’sgaze darted everywhere.
“What is it?” Morrison asked.
“Couldn’t you have told the world what you really wanted?”
Morrison pressed his lips into a white slash. “They’ll never understand it.”
Carl tossed his shoulders. “Why presume?”
“Because there’s a voice deep within me, keeps calling me a deserter.I’m certain there are many others in my team who’d side with that voice. I don’t want ‘em to join it and become a chorus.”
Carlleaned back. There was hope after all to drive some sense into his president. “You know I read somewhere once that our instinct, our inner voice is bang for the buck. One can ignore the whole wide world; never can afford to ignore it though.”
Morrison groaned. “How can you say that? How can an astrophysicist working in NASA, the corridors of which are swarming with men wanting to leave the planet not believe in me?”
“Oh, you’re right. NASA is run by such men. Always will be. Ever since I was a little boy, all I ever wanted was to explore the cosmos. But to be honest with you, when I grew up, I realised I would definitely come back to Earth at the end of my odysseys. Come back to the United States, to the Grand Canyon, To NASA, to Himalayas, to Africa, to Europe, to the beaches and rivers and forests and oceans and creatures and my house. My beautiful house which my parents made with much love and hard work.”
Morrison scoffed. “Don’t you get it? You deliver me my dream and you would’ve found a way to yours.”
“But why go someplace where you and your family will have to spend the rest of your lives in 3-D printed habitat in harsh conditions like radiation, isolation and confinement, and lack of gravity. You know, people keep telling me how beautiful Jupiter is with its Red Spot and the constant play of gases over its surface and how absolutely stunning Saturn is with its asteroid belts and how nice Neptune is. You know what I think? There isn’t a planet more beautiful than Earth, for the simple reason that it supports life,millions of kinds. Always will.”
Morrisongave him a glassy stare. If it were someone else, Morrison would’ve slapped him across the face. He wished it was for Carl was talking like one of those ignorant humans who have denied accepting the real danger facing the world.
Morrison controlled his anger. “Don’t be ignorant.” he said with forced restraint.“Earth one day will be consumed because of inadequacies in man's nature and intellect, by his love for war and inflicting pain on others or by widespread epidemics, or by over-population, or the cumulative effects of climate change. The ice is melting and no climate deals can stop it,” he roamed his eyes around,“all this will be under the Atlantic in a century. Scientists are screaming their voices hoarse the quality of the sperm is deteriorating. In a few decades we won’t be able to have healthy children conventionally. Plastic has contaminated the deepest part of oceans and the remotest part of land. It has entered our food chain and even our bodies. Our species stands a chance only if we become a space faring one and shift to a habitable planet which fortunately for us happens to be our neighbour. Maybe we are meant to colonise it and that’s why it is there, quietly floating in the circumstellar habitable zone.”
“But George, by believing future life on our planet is not worth investing in; don’t you think you are guilty of the cruellest and most destructive form of defeatism? If we can't save ourselves here, what's the point of colonizing Mars or Moon for that matter? The same fate will befall those colonies in a few hundred generations because of our ways.”
Morrison’s face reddened. “I ain't planning on taking everybody! Only the best humanity has to offer! Scientists, artists, great thinkers, philosophers and such!And there will be strict regulations in place, strictest for reproduction so that things don’t spiral outta control as they have here!”
Carl gave Morrison a dazed stare. “And you think they’d follow you on this mad journey?”
“Haven’t you heard some of ‘em? That’s all they talk about these days. How they wish they had some magic wand to rid the world of its problems. There’s no magic wand. No magic is gonna help us and no god is gonna rescue us.Only the will of the human mind can achieve that.”
Carl moaned. He couldn’t believe he was hearing this from the POTUS. “But don’t you see? You could bring about real, lasting change here. You are the most powerful man on Earth!”
“Oh, don’t be ridiculous. It’s a cruel illusion. My hands are bound by the Constitution, by people’s expectations, by business interests and by economy of this great country. You all think I’m the most powerful man on the planet because I got the best military and the best economy to rule. There never can be a single most powerful man on Earth, but I will be the most powerful man on Mars.”
Carl couldn’t help but scoff. The sound singed Morrison causing heat to flush through his body.
“Then tell me why my predecessors have failed to bring in severe gun control laws even though thousands of innocents have died? Why have they failed to denuclearize the world? Why have they failed to end poverty and strife and diseases?Just like ‘em, I can never bring lasting change to this world. This world is beyond saving and I intend on leaving it.”
Carl let out a heavy sigh.The words had been difficult to hear.
“You don’t approve?” Morrison asked.
“No, it’s not that.” Carl said.“Who am I to judge you your ambitions? But your campaign promises, your speeches, your interviews, you seemed—”
“A different man?”
“Do you have any idea what it took to be that man? It was excruciating to pretend to my own people they were going to be in safe hands. But I had to do it to win the election. I never wanted this. All I ever wanted was to become an astronaut. You know why?”
“I’m not sure. To fly to the Moon and beyond or maybe—”
“Only Mars. That’s why I got a degree in Aerospace engineering, but that wasn't enough. I needed to get enlisted into the air force to satisfy the administrators of NASA who’ve always favoured candidates with military flight background with at least a thousand hours spent in the command of a jet aircraft. So I managed to get into the air force in spite of not wanting to. And you know what? It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was during my time in the Iraq War that I realised I needed to wield power much greater than be able to control a space shuttle, that I needed men who could deliver me my dream—the men of NASA. And I could recruit you all only if I was sitting behind the desk inside the Oval. So I got out after serving the minimum tenure, and being a decorated war hero, was welcomed with open arms into the Grand Old Party. And the rest as they say…”
Carl’s head lowered. There was only one question left to ask. “Who else knows this?”
Morrison’s eyes sparkled. He was proud of the answer. “Only Ariel.And now, you.”
Carl met his eyes. “But aren’t you afraid it’ll get out someday and cause you humiliation or worse still, impeachment?”
Morrison smiled cockily. “You’ll be teaming up with people all of whom want to leave here.”
Carl had no response to that. Morrison was bang on the buck.
“That’s the only thing which has kept me going all these years.” Morrison said.“My dream has been my fuel. It pushed me to grow up quickly, pushed me to complete my education, pushed me to come back alive from a dangerous war, pushed me to become the President. Without it, I’d be lost in this world, become mediocre like most people on this planet. I will not lose my way and I won’tbecome mediocre.So, what’s it gonna to be, Carl? Will you help me help you?”
Carl sat at an enormous table in the conference room of the Goddard Space Flight Center. Wally Patterson, histhirty-five year old junior, sat beside him. The oblong faced Wallywas thin as a stick and tall as a Giraffe.
Scientists belonging to NASA and members of the Mars Society surrounded the duo. The head of the table was empty. A chunky file rested there.
Tension hung in the air like an invisible entity. Not a muscle was moving on anybody.All sat with slumped shoulders. The men with the outside view came alive.
“Carl?” Wally said.
Even as Carl twisted his neck, all bound to their feet.Morrison shuffled in, alive and kicking.Carl stood up slowly.
“Good evening, gentlemen!” Morrison sang. One or two meek noises spilled out.The disappointment swirling in the air never touched him. He shook Carl’s handin his usual style— firm and confident. “How you doing?” he asked, his eyes gleaming.
Carl forced a smile and said,“Quite alright, Mr. President.”
“Good. Let us begin!” Morrison plonked on the chair. Everyone followed. He rubbed his hands together like a shrewd businessman sensing a great deal in the offing. “So, give it to me.”
Instead of giving his president an answer, Carlaverted his gaze. Morrison’s face paled away. Is something wrong?He glanced around.No one was looking at him.
“What is it?Why you all so quiet?”
No one responded.
The energy within Morrison’s body, like lightning, seeped into earth.He glared at Carl. “Tell me damnit!”
Carl steadied his thumping heart and delivered the message as simply as his passive and active articulators could manage. He looked straight into Morrison’s eyes and said,“The plan to colonize Mars is not economically and aeronautically possible.”
The finality of the words hit Morrison in the gut, harder than anything. Harder than even pushing the button to drop a missile for the first time to take lives in the Iraq War which no human is capable of creating in any lab but only in a womb. Can words deliver knock out punches with such force? But the punch was forceful also because he and Ariel had put away having a child. The enormity of that mistake collided with Morrison like a comet. A sour taste came to his mouth.
“But why?” he cried.
Carl glanced at the file before Morrison. “The results are in there.”
Morrison’s gaze lowered to the file. A second later, confusion in his eyes gave way to blind rage. He flung the file away. “Fuck your reports! After three years and four hundred million dollars, this is what you choose to say to me?”
A murmur of shock rippled across the room. Bodies fidgeted, hearts pounded and palms turned sweatier.Except Carl’s.
“Your anger won’t change the outcome of the experiments.”he said.
Morrison sprung up andturned away. A painful lump formed in his throat. “I’ve been saying this for the past three years.” he said.“I’ve been saying it for as long as I can remember. Tell me what I’ve said in past meetings, Carl.”
Carl shifted in his chair. “Mr. Presi—”
Carl had never seen this side of Morrison before.He drew in a deep breath and said in a low voice, “For Earth to exist, man must dream.”
Morrison thudded palms on the table. “Exactly!You must dream. You all must because only if you all dream can you fulfill mine. You understand? You do understand that, don’t you? Please tell me you understand.”
Carl winced. “Yes, Mr. President. I under—”
“Then explain me that file!” Morrison exploded.“What is that fucking filedoing here? How dare you bring it into my presence? How dare you all consent to it? After all that money I funnelled to NASA so that you all could do whatever experiments you could imagine? How could you all do this to me? To your own goddamned President?You know how much my dream means to me, don’t you, Carl? Tell me you know the extent of my desperation. Please tell me that much at least.”
Carl swallowed hard. “Of course I know it. I’ve felt it all these years. But I regret to say this to you. Your dream will remain exactly that, till we are all gone from Earth.”
The finality of the sentence gutted Morrison. His legs buckled,made him flop on the chair.“You never quite understood it.” he said, his voice choked.“How could you? After all these years with me, but still, you’ve chosen to call it my dream and not ours.”
“Return my son!”Teresa Ward screamed as she hurtled through a serpentine tunnel. It was lucid and made up of star matter. Beyond the tunnel lay intergalactic space punctuated with thousands of stars. The end of the tunnel was not in sight. She wore a white snug-fit spacesuit with an intricate mesh of gold-edged hexagons. On a normal day, Teresa was beautiful to the eyes and warm to the heart. But tonight, sweaty, dishevelled, and petrified were the best words to describe her. The surroundings were new, strange and terrifying.
“I want my son!” she yelled as she blazedahead.
When the end of the tunnel came, her muscles loosened. Afamiliar heavenly bodylay beyond.
It hung in space, enveloped by darkness. Her mouth curled in a strained smile.
A blessed vision it was, to lay her wet eyes on the only thing which was making any sense during what wasa ride through hell.
She ejected out of the tunneland hurtledtowards Earth. Her body tightened.
“Gimme back my son!”she screamed. Her worldrotated about its axis.A brown patch of land came to the fore from surrounding blue of an ocean— North America. Sheplummeted through layers of hued clouds.And before long, she was out in the open, falling to Earth. “Please!” she hollered. “Gimme back my son!”
Beneath her feet, the mesmerising eastern seaboard stretched away, lit up beautifully by the morning sun. She dropped further and further until shewas over Washington DC.She dropped closer still to a familiar neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia. The terrace of a familiar building stuck out from the surrounding green cover.She dropped to that building. Is this how she would die? Squashed like a fly against the hard roof?Her mouth went sour. She squeezed her eyes and emitted a gut wrenching scream.
Her end was near. She dared not open her eyes again.
“I want him back,” a voicemumbled, “please,gimme back my son.”
A door flung followed by frantic footsteps.
“Gimme back my—”
“I’m right here!” interrupted a boy’s voice.
“Open your eyes, mom!”
Teresa separated her lids.Her auburn irisescalibratedto the surrounding light, and her blurry vision sharpened on an angelic nine year old boy before her.
“See? I’m right here.”
She sat upright, roamedher dazed eyes around.The bedroomwas small, clean and contained bare minimum of furniture which comprised a double bed, a small wardrobe and a mirror.
“Your bedroom.”he said in a manner as if to remind her of an irrefutable reality.
All tension released from her body. “Oh Jim!” she said and threw her arms around him as if she had found him after an eternity. She remained still to let the reality sink in.
“What happened?”Jim asked.
“A nightmare,but felt so real.”
He tossed his shoulders. “It’s okay,mom, shit happens.”
She disengaged from the embrace. “Jim?”
He was well aware of the stern tone and that look of disapproval on her face.He exposed his palms. “I’m sorry.”he said.
Her face softened. She stroked his cheek lovingly. Something occurred to her. “What time is it?” Her eyes flicked to the digital clock on the side table:
8:06 AM 6th JULY
“Oh Jesus!”She leaped out of the bed. Jim followed her like a clingy pup. At the threshold of the loo, she whirled to him, “Why didn’t you wake me, huh?”
Jim fumbled for the right words. “You know, I juss thought—”
“I get it, I get it. You thought you could skip school today, huh?”
“No!I was just thinking—”
Shecracked up. “I’m kidding, sweetie. Go get ready. We’re late!”
North-east of Washington DCsat proudly on earth the magnificent complex of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Earth's foremost gateway to space and beyond. Every child who knows about its existence has secretly or openly desired to walk those hallowed passages at some point in their lives. Too bad then, that only a handful get to fulfil that dream. And fewer still, get an opportunity to make their mark in its daunting history.
One of those fortunate handfuls was sitting at his deskin a corner of the imposing building.
There was an air of precision in Carl’s posture and in the ease with which his fingers were gliding over the keypad of his laptop. He was stationed in the Control Roomof the Flight Projects Directorate whose three walls were covered with control panels and colourful displays. The fourth had a door along with several evocative frames of the lunar surface along with3d renderings of future Mars missions.
He sat at a meeting table right in the middle of the room, answering queries put up by geeks on his science blog about the possibility of one day, during his lifetime,create technology for interstellar travel. The time was 8:36 A.M.
The reflection of a red light flashedon the laptop screen. His neck twisted in an involuntary reflex. A red light was indeed blinking on a horizontal control panel underneath the largest screen of the room. His brows pulled to the centre of his forehead. What was happening wasn’t improbable, but impossible. Then, one by one, a series of lights turned on, jolting him into action. He rolled his chair to a keyboard underneath the screen and punched keys at a pace as if there was no tomorrow. He stabbed ‘enter’ and tilted up his head. Anticipation can evoke strange feelings in a human body and as such, emptiness came to the pit of Carl’s stomach.
A gridded hologram of North America popped up but nothing was out of the ordinary.
“C’mon, c’mon.” he muttered, willing the screen to show him the anomaly the exorbitant satellites orbiting Earth had picked up.
He glanced at the wall clock hanging to his side. Many moments passed,but the screen remained unyielding.
The brightness disappeared from his eyes. His headlowered.What was he thinking? It wouldn’t just happen. It cannot happen.Not ever. While turning away, a movement flickeredin his peripheral. When his head whipped to the screen, his eyes widened. “Can’t be.” escaped his quivering lips.
A phenomenonhe hadaccepted bitterly would never occur, at least during his lifetime, a phenomenon he had relegated to the realm of fantasy, was germinating right before his eyes.
Something ceramic crashed to the marbled floor. Carltwisted his neck.Wally Patterson stood at the threshold with expanded eyes which under normal circumstance were narrow and full of contempt and frustration. Spilled coffee and pieces of what were fractions ago a ceramic mug lay all over his feet.
“That’s impossible.” hesaid.
Carl gave him a radiant smile. “Itis happening.” hesaid.
Wally stumbled to him. “Coordinates?”
Carlpunched a few keys. A second later, a figure popped up on the screen which pulledhis hand to clutch at his mouth. Even Wally couldn’t believe the coincidence. Before Carl could issue further instructions, Wallyturned on his heels and took off like a bullet.
Carl’s mouth fell open. “Hey!I need you man!”
“We gotta see this live!” Wally shouted,“What are the machines for?”
Carlinched back in his chair. Should he not wait by the controls to make sure the readings of the phenomenon were being recorded? Or should he be careless and run away like his juniorand let the diligent machines,on which he had full faith, carry out their duties in silence.
He bound to his feet.“Wait up!”he hollered and scurried out.
But Wally was way past hearing. He gallopedalong the corridor like a race-horse on testosterone. He bolted past many bewildered scientists and technicians, allof whom wondered what had gotten into the prick.Before they arrived at an answer, Carl rocketed past them.Heconvulsed with laughter like an out of control kid. Nobody he crossed rememberedhim ever being like this.
The terrace door burst open to letWally out. His eyes got busy scanning the sky. “Where are you?” his said, his voice quivering.
Nothing but a blue featureless expanse met him. His gaze dancedabout with feverish energy. The unseen phenomenon was testing his patience. Had the expensive and diligent machines erred?
The door flung open to admitCarl this time. “You see it?”heasked.
“A glitch perhaps?” Wally said.
“No. It’s probably tiny. Keep looking!” Carl scanned the sky like a radio telescope on steroids. He didn’t pay attention to what he needed to do.
He paused when it struck him that he needed to take it easy. He lowered his face, filled lungs to their limit and exhaledwhile tilting head to the sky again. He traced the expanselike a machine—detached and unemotional yet focussed to complete the job.
“Keep looking!” Carl shouted.
“Man! Could it be that tiny?”
Seconds marched past.Their mouths dried. Carl was on the verge of relegatingthe anomalyto a miscalculation of a string of exorbitant machines, when something glinted to the left of his vision. His eyes went to it at once. “My god!”he gasped.
Wally whirled to him. “Where is it?”
Carl lifted his arm as if it weighed a thousand pounds.Wally followed the outstretched finger.When his eyes met the sight, his jaw dropped.“Look at that!” he said.
Carlwason the verge of shedding tears. He stared at the phenomenon in mute reverence. It was an embodiment of an impossible dream long abandoned. Wally sneakedcloser, all the while keeping his eyes on the unbelievable occurrence.
“If that isn’t beauty,” Carl said,“I don’t know what is.”
Wally fished a sleek mobile handset from his pocket, dialled and dangled it before Carl’s stupefied face. “You better tell him.”
The name flashing on the display brought a faint smileto Carl’s lips.Someone on the other side clicked in. “It’s Carl. Go to the solarium and look up.”
“Why?”asked the voice.
“Three miles above your head, you’ll see something you’ve wanted to see your whole life.”
“Quit playing games and tell me right away!”
“Not over the phone. I don’t want to spoil the most beautiful thing you’ll ever see.”
“Damn you, Carl! Have it your way!”
Carl smirked. “Good bye, George. We’ll meet soon.”
President George Morrison emerged onto the sweeping and fragrant promenade adjoining the solarium of the White House.Purpose and intent radiated from his gait. He wore a snazzy black suit with a tiny American flag pinned onto its lapel.
Right in the middle of the promenade stood his elegant and expensive portable telescope. Morrison did not pay any attention to it ashis eyes had gotten busy scanning the sky the moment he had stepped out.
“What are you?” he muttered all the while cursing Carl for not letting him on it. He hated surprises. Carl knew this, and still, he had the audacity to keep it from him.
He had no idea he was focussing on the wrong potion of the sky. Something glinted in his peripheral.When his eyes flicked there, he sucked in a quick breath.His hand, as if on reflex, landed on the telescope. He aimed it at the phenomenon roughly, stuck his eye to the lens. He fine-tuned the scope until his hand stopped, as though the anomaly had extended a limb from the sky and caught hold of his hand.
“You beauty!” he said.
The occurrence had swallowed up every millimetre of the lens.
A bluish green sphere of star matter it was. But calling it a cosmic jewel would be more fitting, for it was hands down, the most beautiful phenomenon ever witnessed in Earth’s upper reaches.
Morrison straightened, but his wide eyes never let go of the orb which reflected in the dead centre of his jet black iris. Without the telescope to help its cause, it resembled a small shiny boil on the surface of a smooth sky-blue mirror.
Morrison’s face beamed. He wished family and friends could be with him. The sphere glinted and shimmered like a sapphire.
Morrison was a man of firm belief in his potential, and believed in his ability to work towards making the world a better place, only too strongly. No event, meeting or person intimidated him or made his pulse race.
But today, the glimmering phenomenon has proved to be a different animal altogether. It has caused his pulse not to race but to skyrocket.
Eight months back, after Carl had delivered the heart crushing message, Morrison,with a heavy heart wailing and bleeding in his body,disbanded the committee that same evening. In the days to follow, to his staffand the members of the public who had the bad luck of interacting with him, itwas as though they weren’t dealing with George Morrison, the sexiest, the most suave President of United States of America, but a disillusioned man who’d lost his mojo, his zing for some inexplicable reason. This was the first time in his life he had faced defeat, and knowing how much his dreammeant to him, he was compelled to question his place in the universe.Ariel tried to help him, but his grief was beyond her powers of love and persuasion.
He failed to find the resolve needed to bring his faculties together to find something to fuel his existence. He struggled for many long weeks to come to terms with it, until one evening, a sane voice from the deepest part of his subconscious swam up and emerged onto the beach of his conscious mind to rescue him. Silly dream it was to begin with, it echoed in his head over and over again, the voice never dying as if his mind had become an echo chamber. Was that because his dream would never be achieved that his subconscious, in a desperate bid to survive the frustration and despair had pushed those words into his conscious mind? He tried not to think of the answer for he could preserve a precarious security of spirit so long as he did not answer that question.
After six weeks of torment, he reached, buoyed by his inner voice, a place of semblance, a place sandwiched between compromise and surrender to larger forces at work. That night he and Ariel decided to have a child to give their lives a sense of purpose and meaning.
Today however, the flames of ambition have flared up within Morrison once again, flooding his senses with a euphoria he never would’ve experiencedagain. His eyes reacquired the light which was extinguished the night Carl had delivered the message. He couldn’t believe his luck. Only last night, he had come up here to gaze at the planet of his dreams through the telescope, and like past times, a bitter voice had told him he would only see it in that manner till his end.
Morrison brought his wandering thoughts to order and turned his faculties to the sight in the sky. One never gets nor should everything one desires for. Morrison grinned. Was hethe exception?Have the creators of the sphere come as his deliverer?
Even as he gazed at the sphere, his go to phrase echoed in his mind and his quivering lips whispered it as if under hypnosis. A vision flashed in his eyes— him piloting a gigantic and crude looking spaceship into a glinting orb identical to the one he was witnessing and exiting another somewhere above the upper reaches of the Red Planet. His eyes narrowed and another vision formed. This one was more improbable than the first— Mars terraforming over centuries to become like Earth – a blue planet.
“What was the hurry?” asked a woman’s voice, notes of strain in it.
He turned. Ariel stood at an arm’s length.
She was a picture of grace and elegance. She wore a delicate nightgown made of silk. The size of the bump made it apparent she was expecting.
He put his lips on hers.The force of his touch gave lightness to her limbs.
“What is it?” she asked.
He glanced at the telescope and back to her.
“You’re acting very strange.”
He held on to his posture.
She let out a little noise of annoyance. When shestuck her eye to the lens, she gasped. “What in god’s name is that?”
Morrison cocked his head. “The way out of this godforsaken world.”he said, his eyes glittering.
Dressed as a nurse, Teresa Ward stood with Jim in an elevator. A neat identification badge above her left bosom spelt out the details. She was shifting on her feet, unable to get comfortable.
“What’s up, mom?” Jim said.
She snapped out. “Huh?”
“Ohyeah. It’s… nothing.”
There was an edge in her voice. “Don’t worry abadit.Was just a dream, right?”
She gave him a false smile, bobbed her head.
“So forget abadit.”
Her face softened, she rubbed his cheek. “Love you, sweetie.”
The moment the duo exited their building, theyfroze.
Hordes of pedestrians and motorists on all sidesstood glued to the ground. Some murmured in astonishment, some recorded the event on their mobiles whileothers stared open-mouthed at the sky. Drivers in cars craned their necks out of their windows. Their senses, usually dulledby a mundane existence, were heightened this morning.The block had come to a standstill.
“What are they looking at?” Jim asked, tilting his head to the sky.
“No idea, baby.” Teresasaid, looking up.
The occurrence glinted, as if it had grasped the woman downstairs had failed to spot its immeasurable beauty.
Teresa sucked in her breath. “Oh Jesus!”
“Yeah, I know.” Jim seconded.“But what is it?”
“Looks like a…sapphire to me.”
Both became quiet, hypnotised by the sight in the sky.Even the world around them had come to a standstill.
The corridors of the E ring of the Pentagon swarming with an unusual number of bodies were anything but standstill. Frenetic military men stomped away in all directions. Some barked into their phones while the rest murmured. The energy pulsing through the corridors although similar as in anationalemergency was more ominous and grave today, like before the start of a war.
An intimidating man stepped out of a cabin. Two Secret Service agents stationed outside his door flanked him, marching with him step for hurried step. The man was General John K. Horner—The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States of America.Even though everyone waspreoccupied, they found time to salute the marauding General.
“Sir?” called out a husky voice.
Gen. Hornerwhipped head to his left. A brawny man with grey eyes set in a square face joined the General, half a step behind.
Lt. Col. Timothy Froste’s dark hair was cropped in a military buzz cut like the General. Froste was thirty-eight and his eyes burned withhardened determination attained through years of intense training. He moved with military confidence and precision. Froste was the commanding officer of the United States Strategic Command or The Pentagon Space Command. Although a Lieutenant Colonel, everyone addressed Froste as Colonel.
“We got word from the Russians and the Chinese,” Froste said, “It’s not ‘em.”
Horner’s face twisted. “The geeks at NASA are calling it an Einstein-Rosen bridge for Christ’s sake!”
Froste frowned. “Awormhole?”
Horner groaned. “It’s absurd.”
“I’ll dispatch AWACS immediately, sir.”
“Sure as hell, and have DC declared a no fly zone.News channels are definitely having orgasms over this, and I won’t risk spiders near that thing.”
Froste gave him a crisp nod. “But you think we should do more?”
“Have Raptors fly around that thing? You know, just in case.”
“You really think we stand a chance against a race capable of interstellar travel?”
The point hit home. “Damn right, sir!”
They halted at an elevator. The lift doors opened to atall and regal African-American flanked by two Secret Service agents. Her name was Elizabeth Law—the fifty-year old Secretary of Defence. Along with a nice fitted deep blue business suit, she wore a grave, attentive and solemn expression. The cause was glimmering three miles in the sky.
“Morning,Elizabeth.” Horner said.
Elizabethtilted her head in acknowledgement. “Heading to the White House, General?” she asked in a clear-cut and fluid voice.
“Aren’t we all?”
The corners of her mouth tugged down.The question had deserved no answer. Horner stepped in, unfazed by her cold reaction.Such behaviour was routine between these two for they hated each other’s guts.
“Do as discussed, Timothy.”Hornersaid to Froste.
“Right away, sir.”Froste said and gavethe decorated old man a tight salute.
The first thing Jim did upon barging into the house was grab the TV remote. The screen flickered to life, but as always, a lame cartoon was playing. Today however, Jim needed no instructions yelled at him. He swappedthe channelsto the news.Astatuesque reporter stood before a fenced airstrip. Her words were more like blabbering to the duo whose eyes had,in a reflexive action, flicked to the strangest point on the screen—at the magnified image of the sphere. It glintedlike a crystal orb made of sapphire.
"Is First Contact upon us?" ran the caption on the bottom.
When Jim’s eyes went toit, his head tilted to a side. “What’s first contact?” he said.There was no answer. Teresa was at a loss of words. He shook her. “Mom?”
She snapped out. “What?”
He jabbed his hand at the screen. “First contact, what does it mean?”
She fished out her mobile from her pocket without looking away from the screen. “Why don’t you Google it, honey?”
Jimgrabbed the handset and punched the words. A string of results showed up. He clicked on the first one, read the first line.
The phone lowered in his hand. “Shit!” he said.
She looked at him. “What’s wrong?”she asked.
He met her eyes. “It means meeting aliens for the very first time.”
Teresa went pale. Both turned their stupefied gaze tothe screen on which the glinting sphere had changed context in their minds. It now seemed like the eye of an alien civilisation watching over them.
The happiest man on Earth is President George Morrison when Om Ved, a Sanskrit speaking alien, crashes into Washington DC. The alienâ€™s arrival during his presidency, that too in DC, strengthens his belief that the alien has shown up to fulfil his dream of colonising planet Mars. Citing the First Law of Star Travel, Om Ved refuses to help Morrison. But when Om falls for Teresa Ward, a beautiful nurse working in a military hospital, Morrison hatches a plan to manipulate the alien through her to divulge details about their technology. Unbeknownst to everyone, a dangerous race of aliens, accidentally freed by Om from their space prison, is on their way to Earth. RENDEZVOUS WITH GOD is a thought-provoking, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, a story of our times and the times to come when the planet is in a state of rot and humans will be compelled to look up at other worlds to preserve our race, a story of dreams and passion, love and loss, otherworldly sights and the ruthless machinations of fate.
About the Author:
Ajay is a Civil Engineer by education and a Writer/Filmmaker by passion. Ambitious, hardworking, and creatively gifted are one of many traits which define him. He has assisted on three Hindi feature films and hopes to make movies of his own someday. He spends most of his time reading, writing, watching films and gymming. He is an ardent fan of tennis and enjoys occasional trips to the local club to play the sport.