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 Outside - The Weight of Ghostly Effects

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PostSubject: Outside - The Weight of Ghostly Effects   November 26th 2010, 7:30 am

Outside - Story Twenty-Three
The Weight of Ghostly Effects

Part One

This is Darlene, and I am simply filing a report because I am bored. I usually spend my time on point chatting with others out in space. Right now we are silent however, as we race to beat mankind to discovering another intelligent species. I thus am here at the helm attempting to pass the time quietly.

We are racing through the cosmos at eighty-six times the speed of light. That is quite fast. While our technology actually has no limitation on our speed, the application has proven itself to be very limiting. We are somehow moving along with some focus a few trillion light years away. We have no way of knowing what that is. We actually have no understanding of how our equipment can recognize that distant focus. The fact that we found it is actually more amazing than the process that enables us to move along with it.

The person that discovered that vector, Felix, was also on the bridge. He was working at a terminal setting up a script for his armies in a war simulation. I assume that the saucer people, who we know are behind us, found the vector the same way that Felix did. Having a desired direction, basically in the opposite direction that our alien spaceship was heading, he simply worked the equipment on his boat until he found a reaction. Gaining a reading was fantastic, as most desired directions do not have any vectors registered. Gaining a response to an extremely fast speed had him screaming in excitement, as almost no one else had gained such a tremendous rate of speed. Felix came to the bridge to work just so he could watch the view from a camera on front of our ship on the large main screen.

“What are we doing? Warp eight?”

Felix asked that as he again looked to the main screen. There really was nothing special about the view. Photons rained upon our front, so it was a bright picture of nothing. Depending upon the actual source of the light, as well as its relation to us, the colors that registered on the lens of the camera ranged in frequencies. It was not easy to recognize our points, and making out the stars ahead of us was close to impossible. Lights did not zip by us. Something a light year away would still take about a week to pass. Felix still recognized that we were moving fast, so sought to associate our speed with that of a historic set of fantasy space adventures.

Clover was also on the bridge. He kept a regular vigilance on our sensor programs to hopefully assure that any other signals from our aliens would be detected. With Felix coming to the bridge, Clover had stayed to also work on his script for the coming computer wargame. He replied without looking at the main screen.

“No. We are not even up to warp five. Warp five would be one hundred twenty-five times the speed of light. Warp four is sixty-four times the speed of light. We are thus doing warp four point four one four.”

The eyes of Felix turned to the younger man as he asked, “Cube it?”

“Yes, cube it.”

“Damn, so warp eight would be five hundred twelve times the speed of light.”

“They only had a week between shows, and they had to get to the next location somehow.”

We all smiled at each other, as we all recognized problems with what had been said. I dealt with such references often as I spoke to people in space. Some watched those old shows, and would mention differences in what was imagined and the reality of our lives. They mostly got it wrong, or simply avoided problems that we had to regularly face. Anyway, I knew the topic the two men were discussing, and turned hoping to speak with them on it for a time.

The two men however began discussing their work on the wargame. I thus turned back to the helm bored. Not having anything else to do, I simply stared at the bright view on the main screen.

I saw what I believed to be a face. Understanding that what I saw could have well been my mind trying to make sense of the rain of photons, I almost let it pass. I however wanted something to help me survive the passage of time, so I opened up a panel on my board and had it replay the camera data. As I looked for the face, I asked a question to hopefully stir up a conversation that I would find interesting.

“Clover, do you believe in ghosts?”

“No.”

His response was too curt for me. I knew that he was working on something that he considered important, but I knew it to simply apply to some computer game. My form of entertainment was talking, so I sought to get him to speak some more.

“I thought that you were a religious man.”

“Read the Bible. No ghosts.”

That response took me by surprise, and I countered by saying, “I have heard a number say that it was due to their belief in God that they believe in ghosts.”

“I listen to your broadcasts, Darlene. I thus know what they said, but if those people actually read their Bibles they would know that there are no ghosts. Only one ghost story in the Bible, and it proves a point. Samuel is allowed to speak to Saul, but the witch that does it recognizes that it was something special. All through the rest of the Bible, it is clearly stated that no one crosses.”

I stopped slightly amazed that I found the image. I really expected it to have simply been my mind somehow associating some random scattering of photons with a face, but with my brain more focused it would not make the same conclusion. A face did somehow show. It suddenly came into view, then dispersed. I put the image on the main screen as I asked a question.

“Well, what do you make of this?”

“Looks like a face.”

Felix had been looking at the screen, so his voice registered surprise that he had not seen the image. “Yes, it is definitely a face. Whose is it?”

Clover felt that the question supported his own view. “Yes, just because you have a face does not prove a belief in ghosts. I will admit it is strange, but not that it is proof of anything.”

I looked closely at the image as I replied, “I believe that it is a male.”

“You can believe whatever you want, but you cannot prove anything.”

I suddenly realized that I had a larger audience as the voice of Thor came from the kitchen, “What are you guys talking about?”

Clover replied, “Darlene is trying to convince us that she saw a ghost.”

“Could that be Franklin? Some people say that the spirit of Franklin is present in the video of Watson as he discovered his planet.”

I found myself intrigued by the suggestion, so began calling up information from the database as I said, “Don’t know, Thor, but we can check.”

I believe Clover spoke to Felix when he said, “I will wager one hundred dollars that Darlene claims that the face does belong to Franklin.”

The man replied, “You met Franklin, so does it?”

“That image is not distinct enough to say for certain.”

I had to agree with Clover. I put the picture of Franklin up on the main screen, but could not actually make a definite comparison. Studying the odd image, I however did feel that I could make some identification of features.

“I believe that the image has a mustache.”

I could clearly discern a tone of sarcasm in Clover’s voice as he said, “Oh, now the image resembles Snidely Whiplash.”

No, it was not a long curling mustache. I did however believe the image to have some fuzz on the upper lip. I did not say that however, as I knew that I would get in return that the whole image was fuzzy. I thus turned the conversation to the facial hair of the men.

“Why don’t you grow a beard, Clover? Most Mennonite men that I see have them.”

“Well, Naomi and I have discussed it. She is used to the men around her having beards. I thus probably will.”

Just then a voice that I did not expect exclaimed, “What are you doing?”

I turned to see Watson. Looking back to the main screen I realized that the photo of Franklin was still present. Understanding that Watson had a serious relationship with the man, I suddenly felt sorry for not removing the picture. Hoping that honestly would prevent any hard feelings, I answered the question.

“Thor wondered if this image I spotted might be Franklin.”

He moved into the room looking at all of us strangely. He however did not say anything as he stepped up to get a closer view of the main screen. He finally spoke his conclusion.

“I don’t believe that it is. The jaw seems wrong, and the style of hair is not a military cut.”

That got all us discussing specifics that we could make out in the image. Clover countered almost everything we said, but attempting to prove our points over his disagreements only fueled the discussion. I called up graphic routines to hopefully clarify the image or simply enable us to draw our beliefs on top of it. As we worked, the image seemed to be less and less Franklin, but that simply began to have us wonder who it could be.

Thor asked, “Clover, that might not be one of our aliens?”

“I cannot say, Thor. I have yet to make sense out of the signals. I believe that I have figured some things out, but I have not managed to get a picture yet.”

Felix interjected his own question, “Why would they look like us?”

Just then we all turned around in alarm as we heard a number of knocking sounds about the bridge. We all considered it odd, as the bridge did not have surfaces that could knock. Everything was padded. When Thor built the ship, he had planned to spend most of his time on the bridge, so made the seats very relaxing with the benches and floor soft enough to sleep upon. What I thus felt we all wondered was if the sounds were that of a ghost.

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PostSubject: Part Two   December 1st 2010, 8:00 am

Outside - Story Twenty-Three
The Weight of Ghostly Effects

Part Two

The men stopped and listened to the noises. Clover and Felix were sitting. Thor and Watson took steps to try and locate the sounds with the captain quickly speaking what he felt was the source.

“Sandra, any problem with our life support?”

“Life support? Let me check.”

I could detect a hint of concern in my captain’s voice as he asked, “Where are you?”

“Where do you think I am? I am playing with our gas flow. We are going eighty-six times the speed of light. The density of space has increased dramatically. I have friction problems with particles running against our Kert field, and our intakes are having to cycle a little faster than I desire.”

“My ship has a rating of one hundred fifty C.”

“Yeah, and I bet you and the guy that gave you that rating laughed.”

Thor grimaced as he admitted a fact, “Yeah, we did, but I did put in the structural specifications to gain that rating.”

“Your ship is holding, Thor. It is still being put through a design test that it had yet to face.”

“We were going over fifty a while back. How did the ship handle then?”

“I kept it running then, and I am keeping it running now. That is my job. What is the issue with life support?”

I saw all the men look to each other with confused expressions. The fact that Sandra had to ask such a question troubled them. Our equipment could show a rather detailed report of whatever aspect of the ship was desired. Just asking a question thus usually gained someone an answer. Thor thus had a tone of irritation in his voice as he looked up to a speaker to reply.

“We were hearing knocking.”

Clover added information to the words. “We were speaking about ghosts when it occurred, so it slightly spooked us.”

There was a pause, then Sandra giggled before saying, “Yeah, all of you have rather goofy faces. Okay, I have the moment locked in. Doing a triangulation from the various microphones.” We waited for her analysis, but probably had goofy expressions again show on our faces as we heard, “Uh, that is odd. Certain microphones suddenly went inactive.”

Thor quickly returned, “Which ones?”

“They are working now, Captain.”

“If you use it, you fix it. Those microphones have been regularly used, so they are need in of checking. It will give me something to do.”

Suddenly the image on the front screen switched to a simple readout and Sandra said, “That is the report on all the microphones on the bridge. Remember however that the problem you called about was not a microphone issue. Thus, even if everything checks out you cannot consider your issue resolved. I will be considering things here, but it would help if you could get a clear recording so we could isolate the location.”

The voice of Rachel suddenly came over a speaker, “I will bring your tools, Thor. I need something to do as well, so will help.”

Watson moved to a place along the wall of the room, and began to adjust the placement of certain padded panels to reveal another computer station. I believe that he intended to be available to help Thor, although realized that microphones were extremely small things that really did not require more than one person to work with them. Once he had the computer terminal activated, he brought up a picture of the image of the face and tried some programs that could possibly identify it.

I was actually more interested in what Watson was doing, but the presence of my two captains working kept me quiet. I pulled up a copy of Watson’s board and watched as he attempted to clarify the image before sending it to be recognized. I thought that it was interesting that he also considered the face to have a mustache. As I was about to actually speak about how he considered the ear to look, I stopped to hear Rachel as she made an exclamation.

“What was that?”

All the men turned to look at her. She however looked down. She then bent over to pick something up.

“There is the earring. I lost it on the first voyage. I kept expecting it to come up when we vacuumed the carpet in here, but I guess it was stuck down in the fibers.”

As Rachel held it up for all to see, I guess that she saw our puzzled countenances. A confused expression then showed on her face. She held it where her husband could see and possibly take it as she gave an explanation for its presence.

“I felt something hit me.”

Thor’s response was not to his wife. “Sandra!”

The lady’s voice immediately came back over the speaker. “I was listening, Thor. Already looking at video. A damn earring is small even for our cameras, Thor. There is also an unusual amount of static on the images.”

“THERE’S WHAT?”

Thor looked around the room. I guess that he chose Watson’s station because he already had graphic software loaded. Our homosexual crewman rose from his seat without complaint. Thor went to work bringing up the video. He, Watson, and Rachel looked at multiple cameras. While they could bring up a couple of cameras that verified the movement of the earring, they spent time commenting upon the others that did indeed have static or pixilated pictures from some unknown source.

It must be understood that we are in space far from any registered community of fellow human beings. We were also traveling at eighty-six times the speed of light further from humanity. We were thus as alone as we could get. I felt us even more isolated in that due to our rush to be the first to accomplish a goal we were not communicating with other people.

Any problems had to be treated as life-or-death issues. I thus knew that Thor would not mention a hope that the problem would go away just as mysteriously as it had come. If the situation became worse, there could be tragic results. None of us wanted that. All thus treated the minor noise and odd occurrence as a serious issue.

Finally, however, Thor became frustrated in his search for the problem. I heard his voice as he spoke to those right next to him become slightly louder and stressed. I did not know what he would do, but knew that he would do something.

“Watson, can you keep checking the schematics?”

“Sure, Thor.”

The captain rose as he ordered, “Clover, help Watson. You have been designing the blueprints for the Menlo Park Two. You should have a clearer mind about what some of the odder symbols mean.”

The young man rose from his seat as he said, “I would not argue. Watson was a tug pilot however, so probably has more experience in dealing with odd noises.”

Watson replied, “My vehicle was not like those they show in the media, Clover. It was a rather nice vessel that I did not mind bringing boyfriends to.”

We all turned as the noise could again be heard, and Thor shouted, “Sandra, tell me that you are monitoring our hull!”

“That I am, Captain. Right now your ship is clearly declaring that it could take almost twice this speed.”

“Well, keep monitoring.” He then softened his voice as he said, “Rachel, let us get back to work.”

Our female captain returned, “We can check the speakers, Thor, but what do we check about that flying earring?”

He thought for a moment, then said, “It could be electromagnetic. An electric abnormality could explain the sounds, the equipment malfunctions, and even your earring flying.”

“It’s silver, Thor. It might handle electricity, but it is not affected by magnetism.”

“Maybe it’s not pure.”

I saw a glance of disgust on Rachel’s face. I felt certain that it was not displeasure in her husband, but on whoever had sold the earring to her. I knew that I hated it when I realized that I had been lied to. Her response was not pleasantly stated, but it did not reveal any anger toward her husband.

“It’s a theory, Thor. Let’s get back to work.”

Just because I enjoyed chatting, I decided to make a comment. “That last sound resulted after you mentioned spending time with boyfriends. How jealous was Franklin, Watson?”

I guess that he wanted to talk as well, as he calmly responded, “Jealous of me? He was the one on board the Reagan. I often mentioned to him how jealous I was of his opportunities.”

As he began to list all of the men that he knew on board the military vessel, I felt something about my feet. I looked beneath the desk to see my shoes floating. The sight completely shocked me. For someone that was known for enjoying to speak, I have to admit that I was speechless. No sooner did I turn wondering if we had a camera to catch the activity, than they fell back to the floor. I grabbed them to put them back on my feet as I finally managed to find my voice.

“This is getting creepy.”

The others of course wanted to know what caused me to say that. When I told them, they all gained odd expressions on the faces. Nobody mentioned ghosts or anything about the paranormal. I would have if I had been doing my usual broadcasts, but that would merely be in order to entertain. The situation on board the Menlo Park was not enjoyable, and I simply looked to the others hoping for some rational explanation.

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PostSubject: Part Three   December 6th 2010, 7:48 am

Outside - Story Twenty-Three
The Weight of Ghostly Effects

Part Three

Thor and Rachel finished checking a speaker and the electronics around it. Admitting that they could find nothing wrong, they turned their eyes toward other instruments. Both looked to each other as if coming to an agreement. I believe that Thor only spoke because he knew that he would have to deal with someone other than his wife to put into effect a suggestion about how to perform the next set of tests.

“Any problems with me turning off the gravity? The other speakers are all in the ceiling.”

An answer from Naomi came from the kitchen. “Your wife has a problem, Thor. She is pregnant, and there are reports of going through different gravity settings causing problems for growing fetuses.”

The couple kissed each other, then as the lady left the room her husband asked, “Anyone else in the kitchen with you, Naomi?”

The voice of Terry replied, “I am, Thor. Be glad to help.”

“Glad to have you out where I can see that you are working.”

Clover commented, “I don’t see how him being in the kitchen counts as him working.”

“Castle is working on Jane. You and Felix are in here preparing to play a wargame. Go ahead and tell me that Terry was not working.”

“When you put it that way, it sounds like Terry was working to me, Thor.”

As comments of agreement were made, again strange knocking noises were heard. That caused all to hush. As we listened to try and isolate the location of the sounds, Thor motioned for me to kill the artificial gravity on the bridge.

Suddenly, Thor and Terry moved in strange directions. Those of us sitting grabbed the stations in front of us as we felt odd forces. I heard Rachel and Naomi make exclamations of alarm with the female captain giving me an order to turn the gravity back on. Clover however twisted in his seat as he tried to face both me and Rachel as he countered the command.

“NO! Keep the gravity off!” Clover did not have the rank of Rachel, but the words that he said to Watson had me keep from moving my hand. “Look with me, Watson. I don’t see backup gravity plates.”

Thor had his fingers gripping the slight edges of a light panel for security as he said, “I did not install backup gravity plates.”

As Clover shouted Sandra’s name, the lady was already responding, “Over the helm, Clover. In crucial moments we need to assure that our helm is stable. A reverse gravity setting would provide that.”

The young pilot yelled in reply, “We need to kill it!”

The voice of our engineer came back just as strong, “It should not be powered!”

“Well, I say that it is.”

I could feel odd forces tugging at me, so continued to hold to my desk. I could see Felix with his hands under the padding as he held to his station. Terry had his arms locked around a bench. I did not look up to see Thor, but looked over to where Clover and Watson had one set of arms locked to each other as their legs held them to their chairs while their other hands made motions on their computer screen.

Watson declared, “There, that electrical line. That has to be where Sandra tied in the power.”

Clover yelled, “Sandra, sending the specs to you!”

The lady’s voice sounded over the speaker, “Moving over you. Let me get to a terminal.”

I heard Thor’s voice from above, which caused me to look at him as he held to the ceiling. “Over us? That would be out on the hull.”

“Yep. Getting into my suit even as we speak. Will need to kill our Kert field.”

Clover said, “Need to resolve our situation first, Sandra. Is that the power line you used?”

“Give me a second.” I saw Thor let go from gripping the ceiling as I felt the tugs on my body cease right before Sandra said, “Yes, and killed it.”

Thor said, “Situation calm here, Sandra. We will hold here until you can verify that the problem was with the gravity plate.” I obeyed as soon as the next command was stated, “Darlene, kill our field.”

The problem ended up being not with the gravity plate, but with a transistor in the circuit to activate the plate. None of us acted surprised to find that an extremely minor part was responsible for such a big result. The rest of my shift was taken up by Sandra directing others to help her verify circuits and parts in order to update the schematics of the ship. When Malcolm came into the kitchen to prepare for his shift, he was assured that all would be working well before we again shot off into space.

Franklin’s name came up as we caught up our daytime helm on events during my shift, to which Watson said, “I am glad that it was not Franklin. As I really don’t want to remember him in such a manner. He was always a nice man, and I would rather associate him with a quiet, usually unnoticed, but occasionally helpful spirit.”

Clover said, “Those don’t exist either, Watson.”

“Yes, maybe, but I would rather believe that Franklin would be that type of haunting than what we just experienced.”

I said, “That was still odd getting that face.”

“That was not Franklin, but I could not get any lock on who it might be.”

Malcolm of course needed to see what we were talking about. He looked at the image, then smiled. Wondering about his expression, I asked him what he was thinking.

“That’s Einstein,” he replied.

That caused all of us nearby to gather around the screen and look at it. I pulled up a picture of the ancient physicist. It did look similar, so I called up other pictures of him. A younger image of him was an almost exact match. It was not a clear image, but none of us could argue with Malcolm’s identification. With fingers moving to add details to the picture, it indeed could have been Einstein. That however did not convince any of us looking at the screen that it had been the spirit of the ancient physicist.

Rachel said, “Probably pulled the image from the database.”

I asked in reply, “Why that image?”

Thor grumbled out a counter, “It’s static. It is not supposed to be anything. Just as the gravity plate caused other odd events, it messed with the signals to the screen. Our own minds are creating the association.”

Clover said, “I will support you, Malcolm. Once we come out of silence, we can tell everyone that we were guided by the spirit of Einstein.”

We all laughed, then I said, “I believe that I will bring it up on one of my broadcasts.”

Thor said, “Well, Malcolm cannot make the report, because he was not present. I guess that you just volunteered, Darlene.”

I guess that I did. Well, the report is done. Back to our journey through space.

_________________
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