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Impossible - by Lyle Regenwetter

Die Symphonie kann beginnen

Lyle Regenwetter

It all started one day when Jimmy Jackson discovered a purple box-shaped object in his backyard. Being a curious boy, he walked nearer to inspect it. As he approached the box, he observed a crack appearing in a corner. The crack slowly became wider and wider until it was big enough that Jimmy could spot the egg tooth of the creature inside. With a loud crunch the “object” (which was apparently a very odd-looking egg) burst in two.
Jimmy lived on a farm near Chicago. At that time, the windy city was the second largest metropolis in the United States of America. Los Angeles had been flooded seven years earlier, when Jimmy had been two. First, the air pollution had become so bad that it was too stuffy to breathe. Second, the ozone layer had been diminished so much that the usual temperature had become one hundred six degrees. Third, global warming had caused the sea level to rise, and Los Angeles had been forced to build dams to prevent the ocean from flooding the low lying parts of the city. On June 6, 2057, a 7.6 force earthquake had wiped out downtown Los Angeles. An aftershock just off the coast had caused sixty feet of the dam to crumble. Even before the Army Corps of Engineers could scramble into their cars and trucks to go close the gap, an enormous tidal wave smashed a twenty mile section of the steel dam. In the ensuing chaos and confusion, seventy percent of the population in the metropolis had perished.
Now, in 2064, in far away Illinois, Jimmy’s family faced their own perils. Illinois had been frost-free for six years. The insect population had seemed to double each of the last five growing seasons. Jimmy’s father could not afford the vast quantities of pesticides he would have needed to protect his crop. It was probable that the farm would go out of business within a couple of years. Determined as they were, the Jackson family couldn’t help but feel discouraged, as anyone would if they were to lose all of their belongings. Although Jimmy trusted his parents, he couldn’t imagine that he would have to live on the street. He was scared out of his wits.
Jimmy had been letting the chickens out of their coop when he saw the purple box-shaped egg. The two-inch tall purple creature that came out featured two wings, three legs and two tails. Jimmy was a good-natured boy and left it alone.
The next day, Jimmy observed the mysterious critter crawling around the roof of his barn. It had grown to a height of five inches and was rubbing both tails along the roof shingles like paint brushes. A trail of tar-like gooey black stuff covered several square-feet of roof near the chimney. “That animal must have been in a big mud puddle,” he thought. “I wonder what it is, a spider? An insect? What? I sure hope that this is not some other new pest that will eat our crops even faster! Could it be one of those mutant flying spiders that the neighbors’ radio talked about last week? Where did that nuclear power plant blow up last year?” The nuclear fallout of the “Florida Incident” had created a variety of strange mutations.
The Jackson family could not afford a television, radio or even access to the internet. Every evening, Jimmy and his father took a trip to the neighbors’ farm to listen to the news on the radio.
“Impossible!” the reporter was shouting. A world-wide conference on global warming was becoming gloomier every day. Each leading scientist who had spoken so far had concluded that saving the planet had now become impossible. Global warming could no longer be stopped, they said. When the radio turned to local news, the commentator also mentioned that mysterious purple boxes had been found in several suburbs of Chicago. The Chicago bomb squad was at a loss that the boxes were impenetrable. Nothing could even scratch them.
The next day, Jimmy’s dad, Thomas Jackson, freaked out when he saw the tar-like goo. “Holy gumballs!” he cried, then “Aaaargh! Geeez! What is this gooey glooey rotten old stuff?”, then, “This is the stickiest stuff I’ve ever seen!” Thomas pulled with all his might, but he simply could not pull his gloves off the goo.
The next day, Jimmy found the gloves, mysteriously spick and span, on the steps outside the front door! The creature continued to hang out around the farm. It never seemed to eat anything and it did not grow any bigger either. But sometimes, when Thomas drove the tractor, it sat on the exhaust pipe and just sniffed at it quietly. On most days, Jimmy saw it sitting for hours near the chimney and sniffing at it, too! Over the next weeks, the black goo appeared on the East, South, and West sides of all their roofs, even on the house. The Jackson family could not figure out any way to remove it.
The daily news cast was now always starting with the big word: “Impossible.” The conference had not come up with a single piece of good news about the global warming catastrophe. Jimmy kept thinking: “Why did they all wait until it was too late? Why did nobody see this coming?” Jimmy almost missed the local news, which reported sightings of mysterious black goo all over central and northern Illinois.
The only thing that cheered the family up was one day, about one month after the “egg” had appeared, at dinnertime. When Thomas opened the electricity bill, he muttered, “What in the world?”
“What, Honey?” asked Jimmy’s mom, Molly Jackson.
“Look at this,” Thomas said. He showed the bill to Molly, then to Jimmy. “Amazing,” Thomas said. “This must be a mistake, I don’t get why it’s so low. Well, I will certainly never complain to the power company about such mistakes!”
“Yeah, good idea” said Jimmy and his mom simultaneously.
When they received the next bill, Thomas screamed, “Holy Moly, zero consumption? Free electricity? This is the best computer bug I have ever heard of!”
Molly said soberly: “Honey, don’t get carried away. Sooner or later, they are bound to notice. Then, when we have to pay everything we owe, all at once, we will surely be bankrupt!” That remark took everybody’s appetite away.
That evening, the news reports about the closing of the six week long conference on global warming concluded that the planet was on the verge of a breakdown of the food chain. Several research centers had also warned that the ocean currents were just about to change and possibly cause a new ice age in Europe. This had led to such an uproar that the remainder of the conference was postponed. Jimmy and Thomas walked home debating how global warming could possibly cause an ice age.
Jimmy saw less and less of the little creature, but he continued to see more and more black goo. For some strange reason, the air on the farm smelled fresher and clearer. One day, the neighbor told them that the whole Chicago area was reporting lower air pollution levels than a month before. Despite the good news, the neighbor was worried about the creepy “black goo” reports that now came from around the entire state. Nobody seemed to know what was going on. Many people seemed to believe that the black goo was an omen of the next large-scale disaster.
One day, early in the morning, Jimmy woke up with a start. Heavy rain was pelting against his window. Jimmy felt like somethingspecial was about to happen, but he didn’t know what. He told himself to go back to sleep, but something was keeping him awake. He crept downstairs to check the time. Their one prized electronic possession, the clock that had been Molly’s great-great grandfather’s, had stopped and was now blinking 11:57. How Jimmy wished he could have one of those hologram clocks that would display the time, date, and was solar powered. The problem was that those clocks cost four thousand dollars, and there was no way that Jimmy’s family could afford such a purchase as that.
Suddenly, Jimmy heard a loud thump coming from the roof, and he froze. A few seconds later he heard another thump, then another, then a fourth. Jimmy couldn’t hold back his curiosity any longer. He grabbed an umbrella and dashed out the door. He saw the weird spider-insect on top of the roof. It looked at him and raised something to its head. Jimmy heard some squeaks. He realized that it was from the creature on the roof. He found a hay bale and hoisted himself on top of the roof. He didn’t care how angry his parents would be, he just wanted to get some information about this little creature. He lost a shoe in the sticky black stuff then another, then a sock then another. He sat down on a spot without goo and picked up the little animal. The creature said in a small voice, “I do not mean to do any harm. I am a space alien and-...”
Jimmy was petrified. He let out a scream. He opened his mouth to call his parents but no words escaped. Thoughts raced through his mind. “Is the black goo a secret weapon? Is the alien mean? Is it trying to take over the world? Are the aliens invading Illinois? Will I ever see my parents alive again? What will happen to me? Where did this alien come from? What if it’s not an alien, but some evil mutant creature who is just waiting for me to make friends with him and then he will gobble me all up? Or even worse, what if he suffocates me with that horrible goo weapon of his. What if it’s one of those evil zombies like in those scary movies?” His pulse raced. “Calm down” he told himself. “You have been hearing too many horror stories. Except for that nasty goo, the crature has not done any harm to anyone. So, there is no reason to think that I am in danger now that it decided to talk to me.” He took a deep breath and tried hard to relax.
“Don’t be scared. I won’t hurt you,” said the alien, “I just want to let you know what I am doing. I need Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide to survive. Obviously, I am taking your precious food, but my nee-
“No, no!! We don’t eat C02 and Carbon Mono-whatever-it’s called,” said Jimmy with relief, trying to hold back his laughter. “In fact, we are trying to get rid of those. You can eat as much of those as you want.”
“Oh ok, good! This gooey back stuff is just a solar power absorbing recyclable enzyme. This edible enzyme transforms solar power into electricity with 99.9% efficiency, that is why it is so dark black and cool to the touch. I spread it out to collect energy during the day, and then I eat some of it back up at night. I have too much energy here, with this planet being so close to a star. I decided to apply some spare enzyme and save you guys money by hooking up your electrical systems. You should no longer have to buy electricity. You are so poor and you said that you are going out of business,” the alien said.
“How did you know we are poor and going out of business?” asked Jimmy
“I have been sneaking around your farm and listening to your parents’ conversations and discussions.”
“Wow, you are amazing!
The alien cleared the path for Jimmy and also freed his shoes and socks.
When Jimmy returned inside, his parents greeted him with screams of relief and started shouting about safety and climbing around on the roof. They were interrupted when the neighbor rushed in shouting: “The news is reporting riots in over 200 cities around the world after the US President made a remark that humanity might have no more than a few years to live.”  
They forgot all about climbing onto roofs and rushed over to the neighbor’s house. When the reporter reached the local news, he said: “Scientists at the Illinois Obama Bio-Research Center next to Chicago have reported that purple animals have been hatching from the mysterious purple boxes for over a month. They caution the population not to approach the creatures as it is not known whether they are safe or dangerous.”
Jimmy and his parents started on their way home. It took Jimmy a while to explain to his parents what he had discovered. In fact, he did not really need to tell them anything. When they entered their house the alien was waiting for them in the kitchen. The creature started by saying: “Dear Mr. and Mrs. Jackson. My name is <UNPRONOUNCABLE>, but call me Bob if you like. My egg-box-ship was teleported here from a distant galaxy XGY329-b about eight times ten to the sixth power seconds ago. I have not been able to talk to you before, because it took my universal translator until today to gather enough data about your self-contradictory language. It kept getting stuck in feedback loops until I programmed a logic over-ride.” The alien told Jimmy’s parents about his fantastic eating habits and added that he (or was it a she?) had been laying new eggs containing baby clones of himself (herself?). He had been teleporting them to locations within up to a 100-mile radius.
Half an hour later, the Jackons waved good-bye to Bob as he climbed into his egg-box-ship and teleported himself to the Illinois Obama Bio-Research Center to tell the scientists how he could help humanity.
One early morning, about six months later, when Jimmy went to the neighbors’ farm house, he heard on the radio that the little alien creature had cloned himself 100,000 times. Because the “Bobliens” could not teleport further than 100 miles, the United Nations were coordinating efforts to transport egg-box-ships to 180 countries around the world that also wanted clean air and free electricity.
When he returned home that day, a black hydrocar was parked on the dirt road. His parents were sitting in the kitchen white-faced, holding an official looking letter. A tall man with black suit and sunshades was holding a coffee mug. Jimmy had only one thought: “Bankrupt!” His father held out the letter with a shaky hand. Jimmy nearly fainted when he read what it said. “Dear Mr. Jimmy Jackson. It is my great honor to invite you to the White House today. You will also have a tour of Washington D.C. When you get to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, you will receive 1,000,000 dollars in the brand-new Gravi-Ink (GI) banknotes. After a brief press conference, Secret Service agents will escort you to your bank of choice to deposit the money. Enclosed, please find express first class vacuum tube tickets for you and your parents. The agent will drive you to the tube station right away. Vice-President Campello will meet you at the Washington D.C. vacuum tube station in about an hour.” The letter was signed by Christopher G. Saenz, President of the United States of America.
Two years later, Russia, China, and 20 other countries, which had been angrily labeling the “Bobliens” as “Made in USA Spy-Bobs,” had finally admitted that Bob was really of extraterrestrial origin and that he and his clones were indeed friendly to mankind. During those two years, the rest of the world had almost completely stopped using fossil fuels.
It is the year 2080. Jimmy is looking at an old diary in his mansion when his wife calls, “Honey look at this!” Jimmy walks to the living room. On his Hologram 3DTV it says that the world temperature has returned to levels of the year 2008 and that most of the little aliens have moved on to Venus where there is plenty of Carbon Dioxide. A small contingent of aliens is staying on Earth to prevent another crisis like the one that occurred when Jimmy was a child. As for Jimmy, his children, and his grand-children, they will never need to worry about global warming or energy prices again.

The end

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