The Future That Used To Be
Editor’s Note: Since March, PJ Lifestyle has been highlighting some of the most innovative fiction writers at the recently-launched new media publishing platform Liberty Island, featuring interviews and story excerpts. Click here to see our collection of 24 so far. To learn more check out this interview Sarah Hoyt conducted with CEO Adam Bellow: “It also has a unique mission: to serve as the platform and gathering-place for the new right-of-center counterculture.” Also see COO David S. Bernstein’s recent essay here in which he defines Liberty Island as, “an imaginative playground where brilliant and creative people can test their ideas without being harassed or threatened by the new breed of ‘community activists’ who police thought and speech in the media.” Also see Bellow’s recent cover story at National Review: “Let Your Right Brain Run Free.”
This is the first of several new stories that PJ Lifestyle will be excerpting. More author interviews will be coming soon too. Also check out some of Pierre's great articles on comic books for PJ Lifestyle:
Here's the beginning of his new story for your consideration:
Joey Ixbee lay on his stomach, his head propped in his hands, on the carpet in Steve Garabon's TV room. At the moment, it was late on a Saturday afternoon and the two best friends were engrossed in the latest Creature Feature offering: Earth vs the Flying Saucers. Although both boys agreed that with stop motion effects by the great Ray Harryhausen the film was a science fiction classic, Joey thought the plot was on the unrealistic side.
Suddenly, the soundtrack swelled and over the smoking ruins of a downed alien flying saucer, the words "The End" appeared on the screen. Instantly, Steve was on his feet and snapped off the television set before Feep, the show's host, could come on and utter a few concluding inanities in his high pitched voice.
"Great movie!" exclaimed Joey as the picture tube went dark save for a tiny dot of light at the center.
"I'll say!" agreed Steve. "The story was a little too much like War of the Worlds, but those force fields and flying saucers crashing into the Capital Building and the Washington Monument were fantastic!"
"The effects were definitely cool, but some of the other stuff was a little too much," said Joey.
"How do you mean?"
"Well, if the aliens were so smart, smart enough to build spaceships and travel all the way to Earth from another world, why didn't they just open diplomatic channels to the UN or something? I mean, that's got to be easier for them than trashing the planet. How's that supposed to help 'em?"
Steve shrugged. "Never thought about that before. I guess it would be easier to just make friends than to start a war."
"Right. And those saucers..."
"What about 'em?"
"In real life, they just wouldn't fly...at least in Earth's atmosphere," insisted Joey. "They're not aerodynamic enough. In space, their shape wouldn't make a difference, but once in Earth's atmosphere, they'd drop like a rock!"
"You think so?"
"Sure, I think so."
"What if they had anti-gravity?"
"I guess that would work," conceded Joey. "But how likely is that? After all, the laws of physics are the same no matter where you go in the universe. Shucks, Steve, I don't think you've been keeping up with your science fiction reading!"
"Ah, gimme a break!"
"All right, boys," interrupted Steve's mother from where she stood at the entrance to the TV room. "You've been indoors for the last two hours and it's a beautiful sunny day outside. Time for some fresh air before supper."
The boys needed no coaxing from Mrs. Garabon to move on.
Outside, the sun was indeed shining and temperatures must have been hovering in the upper 80s. Across the street, they could hear the splash of water and girlish voices crying out in glee behind the Surois' house and overhead, a plane droned somewhere in the deep blue of the sky.
Retreating to the front porch of Steve's house, the two boys began what had become a ritual after viewing an SF film and reenacted to the best of their recollection the scenes they had just finished viewing on television. Notwithstanding the questionable authenticity of Earth vs the Flying Saucers, the balance of the afternoon was spent in imaginary war as Joey and Steve saved the world from the evil intentions of space invaders only they could see.
All too soon, however, Joey heard his mother's call from down the street signaling the time for supper.
"Five o'clock already?" exclaimed Steve, finishing off an alien saucer.
"Must be, my stomach's grumbling," said Joey, tossing a Mattel issue replica of a German Luger to his friend. "See you after supper?"
"Over at Gil's for kick the can," returned Steve, heading for the house.
Quickly, Joey ran from behind the Garabon's house to the front yard and hurdled the hedges ringing the property in a single bound. Landing in the street, he barely missed a step heading down tree-lined Maple Road to his own home at the far end of the neighborhood.
Flying through the front gate, Joey ran around the house to the back porch letting the screen door slam shut behind him in way of announcing his arrival. In the yard outside, nothing had changed since his parents bought the property when Joey was still an infant: the previous owner having been a carpentry contractor, the yard was littered with the debris of his trade from huge stacks of petrified planking to sheds and other outbuildings overrun in weeds and crawling vines. Alongside the house, a two stall garage stood, still crammed with the rusting hulks of heavy automated saws and planers. Everywhere inside the garage were mounds of old sawdust left uncollected for years.
Inside the porch, the air was filled with the aroma of fresh baked muffins, so Joey simply followed his nose into the kitchen. There, the table was already set and Sally, his younger sister, sat at her usual place next to the high chair that baby Cynthia would soon occupy.
"Don't forget to wash up before supper, Joey," said his mother, tossing the words over her shoulder as she mashed the potatoes.
"I know," replied Joey, heading for the bathroom.
"Can we hold off on supper for a few minutes?" asked his father stepping into the kitchen, the late edition newspaper in his hand. "I'd like to hold a quick family meeting first."
Mrs. Ixbee blew at a stray lock that had fallen across her face. "It can wait for a few minutes."
"Fine. Let's all step into the family room, shall we?"
A minute later, Joey had joined the others and thrown himself onto one end of the overstuffed couch that also held Sally at the opposite end and his mother holding baby Cynthia in the center. His father sat in the easy chair across the room from them.
"What's this about, dad?" asked Joey.
"Well, your mother and I have an announcement to make," began his father. "We're expecting company tomorrow and we want you and Sally to be on your best behavior."
"Oh, boy!" exclaimed Sally, clapping her hands. "Company! We never have guests."
"Well, hardly never," said Mrs. Ixbee. "But this one is different."
"How different?" asked Joey, suddenly interested.
image via Liberty Island