Hi Folks, thanks to everyone who read last week's story. Thanks even more to those of you who commented on it whether positive or negative. Everyone has their own opinion and there's nothing that anyone can write that every single person will like. This story continues the weirdness I've been exploring of late so some of you purists who've been writing me letters telling me that some of the stories aren't LW probably won't think this one is either. The story does involve a wife having sex with someon other than her husband, so that makes it LW in my book. Thanks to the incredinle Mikothebaby for editing this story even as she struggles to come to grips with the deadly and dangerous windows 8. And a special thanks to those of you who continue to come here every week and suffer through me stretching out my story-telling muscles.
I checked the coupling from the large cable and nodded my head. I smiled just a bit as I tightened the link that connected this cable to the grid of them below the metal surface of the floor. I skipped back across the metal floor and checked my instrument panel again. Everything was green.
"Okay guys, let's fire this bitch up," I yelled.
"Are we going to run it from the generator or the solar panels?" asked Dr. Ivan Deevy. Ivan used to be the head of theoretical science at MIT five years ago. Now he's one of my flunkies. A lot of things change when the fate of humanity is at stake.
My name is Dr. Denton Woods and I'm one of the smartest men on the planet. I can say that without sounding vain because it's true. The year is 2048 and the world has changed the way we look at everything. We have come together as a society and as a planet. There will probably be wars in a few years, but they won't be fought over land or religion or any of those stupid things that no longer matter.
The differences between us now are all far more serious. You see roughly ten years ago scientists discovered a previously unknown asteroid. An asteroid just like it stuck earth a little over a hundred thousand years ago and wiped out the dinosaurs. This one is bigger and will probably destroy the planet. It's too big and moving too fast for us to send Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, and the rest of those guys up there to drill a hole in it and save us. It has also been proven that we simply don't have any type of weapons, nuclear or other, that can destroy the massive planetoid. It's simply game over for the third rock from the sun.
The asteroid, known as Shiva 2100, will hit Earth sometime in early January, 2100 or late December of the year 2099. That gives us roughly 51 years to get the hell out of dodge. We want to leave at least a year early to assure that we're clear of the solar system before the cataclysmic event takes place. We have no idea of what will happen afterwards. Some have predicted that Shiva could hit the sun and severely damage it as well. If that happens, our entire solar system would be compromised, so the idea of trying to set up on a planet in our solar system wouldn't make much sense.
Early in our plans, we'd located several Earth-like planets. These planets were very close to Earth in terms of atmosphere, gravity and climate. One or several of them would be humanity's greatest and best chance to live on. The problems were immense, both in terms of capital, resources, technologies and brain power. We had to invent new science and new fields of study as we planned it. That was, of course, where I came in.
Several different ships and groups were planned. Each gigantic star faring ark would hopefully carry thousands of people. Another problem was that the time it would take us to reach the Earth-like planets would be measured in decades. That meant that most of the people who embarked on the journey would be very old or dead when we arrived.
My best estimate depending on the mode of propulsion used was that it would take somewhere in the neighborhood of fort seven to fifty years to arrive at our destination. I seriously doubted that I'd even be alive to see the ship depart. I'm thirty five now, fifty one years from now I'll be eighty six years old. Even If I did start the trip, I'd be long dead when we got to our destination.
The people who land the ship and organize and manage our society's transition to the new world will have been born in space.
The fact that the planet is going to be destroyed has brought about a totally new pecking order in terms of who can go. Money no longer means anything. With so little space on the ships there will be a lot of people left on earth to perish.
We've had to be extremely selective in deciding who can go and who can't. There are certain skill sets and occupations that are extremely valuable. We also want to insure as broad a range of genetic material as possible. We want every race and culture represented but we still only have room for so many people. With that in mind, there are a lot of people who will not be making the trip.
To be specific, we need teachers. They will have the awesome responsibility of training the next generation that will probably be born in space and take over the leadership of the mission while in transit. We don't however, need basketball players. An extra tall, extra heavy person, who requires more resources in terms of food, water and even oxygen, whose only skill is the ability to jump up and drop a ball through a hoop is something we simply don't have room for.
We don't need football players, golfers, hockey players, rappers, singers, baseball players, models, games show hosts, magicians, mimes or Kardashians either. No matter how much money they have or how great their skills are, they need not apply. What the hell does a Kardashian actually do anyway?
Almost overnight, society has changed. Last year there weren't any colleges in the US that had enough players to field a football team. There are math and science clubs popping up all over the planet. Every hot chick in the world suddenly wants a nerd on her arm, which again is where I come in.
In the old days, you had guys that were called theoretical physicists. They were the rock stars of science. They sat around all day and spun theories about what might be the cause of this or that. They could work for years on some hair brained hypothesis, while being funded by a large company or university. Those gentlemen often spent their entire lives just spinning interesting yet ultimately useless theories.
In our time, the top man on the totem pole is the practical physicist. He is the person who can take those theories from pure math and calculation to fruition. That, once again, is where I come in. Our group the AAAAE, the All American Alliance Against Extinction, usually known as the A4E, combines all of the resources of the entire American continent. It includes Canada, America and South America. We plan to build a fleet of four or five huge ships. Each ship will have the capacity to house over twenty thousand people. I know it sounds like a lot but when you consider that the population of our planet is over 7 billion people, that number is far less than a drop in the bucket.
We started the selection process of people who will even be allowed to work on the project five years ago. If you're not working on the projects, you probably won't be going. We've built our own city, Star city, in Texas where we're doing the research and development necessary to assemble the ships.
We get thousands of applications each week for individuals and families that want to come to Star city. Ninety nine point nine percent of them are turned away. A huge wall surrounds the city to prevent outsiders from getting in. It only goes to show you how desperate people are for their genes to survive. The ships won't be leaving for a little over fifty years, but people are dying to get in so their children have a chance to get on a ship.
"Run it from the generator Ivan," I reply. "The first thing we have to do is to prove that the theory works. Then we can make it more efficient."
Our main craft will each have multiple propulsion systems. We'll have a main chemical or solid fueled booster engine for quick maneuvers, but most of our travel will make use of a solar sail array. The ships will be built in space which will eliminate the need for huge booster rockets. My current project involves the shuttles. To conserve resources and so that we can collaborate while in space we needed to have some sort of transport vehicle that is capable of taking short hops either from ship to ship while in space or from a ship to a planet.
We have most of the problems with those worked out. One of the main issues we had was in landing the shuttles on a ship. For anyone who's seen Battlestar Galactica, the danger of landing on a ship is great. The engineer's designs for a landing platform required tons of concrete and steel. The weight of those landing platforms alone was almost twenty percent of the weight of the ships.
I came up with what I think will save us weight, structural stability and space. It will also lessen the amount of fuel we need and make our solar sails more efficient through the reduction in mass.
My idea was to give the shuttles a landing system that was separate from their main engines. We'd use magnetic repulsion to do it. The shuttles would have magnetic emitters on them. The floor of the landing bay would be a metal surface with a grid of charged cables under it that turned the entire floor into a huge electromagnet. The computer could make sure that the polarity of the magnetic floor was the opposite charge of the emitters. That way the shuttle and the deck would repel each other.
We'd built a huge mock up in a one third scale size. We had a drone with the emitters mounted under it. Today we'd fly the drone in and reverse thrust over the magnetic floor. Then we'd cushion the drone's landing by magnetic repulsion.
I watched as the drone took off from the other end of the airplane hangar we were using as a lab. It flew in smoothly and slowed as it got close to the mag floor. It came in for a landing and its pilot who was flying the drone from a control panel on the other end of the building, stopped its engines and turned on the emitters. The drone didn't actually touch down on the floor which was good and proved that the tech worked. But the drone careened across the floor and skidded into an i-beam.
"Shit!" I yelled loudly. "Harold, do you have any idea of how much those fucking things cost?"
His voice over the intercom was apologetic. "I'm sorry Dr. Woods," he said.
"Do you even remember what I told you to do?" I asked. "I clearly remember telling you that you needed to apply the reverse thrusters at the same time as the emitters, because if you don't, the inertia of your landing causes the ship to simply slide across the magnetic field like a God damned air hockey disc. Do you remember that Harold?"
"Yes Dr. Woods," he said apologetically.
"Why did I say it would happen, Harold?" I asked as if he was a school boy that I was lecturing to about forgetting a variable in an equation.
"Because the magnetic field has no friction," he said. "So the emitters will only support the ship above the floor, they won't give any type of braking or directional control."
"Get another drone, Harold," I said. "And remember these drones cost about eight thousand dollars apiece. Sooner or later we're going to start charging you for them."
A couple of tests later, I watched as the drone flew in, slowed itself down by reverse thrusting and then buoyed by the emitters rested softly on the metal floor. A cheer went up in the lab as months of working and building and testing finally bore fruit.
"Alright, you bunch of idiots. Great work," I said. "Every one of you, get the hell out of here. Take the rest of the day off. Tomorrow we'll demonstrate the concept and the emitters for the board and let the R&D guys take it from there. Next week, we'll be working on something else."
Everyone was happy and smiling. My success, was in fact, their success. Working for a team that solved problems and accomplished things resulted in far more perks and stability. I even left the lab myself that afternoon. I foresaw a chance to relax and pick out my next project from a list of literally hundreds I could choose from.
Star City had all kinds of transit systems including a high speed monorail and a very efficient subway system. I took the monorail and made the five mile distance from my lab to my home in under five minutes.
I opened the door to my luxurious mini mansion and stepped into my living room. The scene I found there filled me with shock. My giant brain, although used to tackling problems and concepts that would crash a supercomputer, was not prepared for the scene I found.
A large man with red hair and very pale skin, was slamming his dick in and out of my wife. She was pushing herself back against him. I did take the time to notice that he wasn't pushing himself into her vagina.
I'm probably five foot nine inches tall. I have brown hair and brown eyes. I might weigh one hundred and sixty pounds soaking weight and wearing steel toed shoes, but not an ounce more. The behemoth on top of Beth was at least six four and definitely over two hundred and twenty pounds.
As I stood there, barely breathing, neither of them noticed me. I don't think they would have if shock hadn't caused me to drop my keys on the ceramic tiles of the floor. It was a moment that will be etched forever in my mind. There was the jangling sound of my keys as they hit the tiles. A split second later, all hell broke loose as the guy looked my way and Beth looked over her shoulder and saw me.
There was also that "punched in the stomach" feeling as my brain finally caught up to the situation.
"Oh shit," said the guy.
"Honey, what are you doing home?" asked my beautiful, cheating whore of a wife. Her eyes were wide with shock.
Calmness took over me then. After all, my job was to solve problems. In order to do that, I'd learned over the years to document everything. I slowly pulled out my i-phone 85s and calmly took pictures of the two of them. I had no idea of what to do yet, so I just looked at them.
"Denton, you're not supposed to be home for hours," said Beth, nervously.
"I solved the problem with the magnetic repulsion emitters," I said. "I do things like that. I'm kind of smart about some things. But, I'm kind of stupid about others apparently."
"Please don't tell me your husband is some kind of scientist?" asked the guy. The look on his face had morphed from pure ecstasy to seriousness in less than a second. "Wait a minute. You called him Denton ... Not Denton Woods?" he asked.
He suddenly got angry at Beth. "You stupid fucking whore," he spat. "I've been trying to get my family here for more than a year. Do you know what this means?"
"He'll understand," said Beth, whining. "He really will. I'll explain it all to him. It was only sex..."
"Then why did he take my picture?" asked the guy, who was looking around to find his clothes. I walked back through the still open door to my house and left them both trying to catch up to me.
I was trying so hard not to cry, but I was failing. As the tears started to fall, Robert looked down at me in disgust.
"That's not going to do us any good," he said. "What can I do to fix this? What does he like?"
"What do you mean?" I sobbed.
"Is he into drugs, booze, women ... What's his vice?" he asked. "I know he likes women. I mean look at you. Shit, only a scientist, or maybe a top tech or engineer could have something like you. What the hell was I thinking?"
"Probably the same thing I was thinking," I said. "I wasn't thinking at all. I was stupid and bored and feeling lonely. My son is in an advanced school. He's seven years old and I can't help him do his homework because I don't fucking understand it. Most of the time, I feel totally useless. Do you know what I am? I'm a doll, or worse yet, I'm a trophy. Do you know what the worst part of all of this is?"
"Yeah," he snapped. "I do. I'm going to end up dead over this. I'm going to end up dead over some pussy that wasn't even that good. Worst of all I'll have failed my wife and my daughter ... AGAIN."
"Why are you going to die?" I asked him, seriously.
"Shit you are stupid," he sneered. "Those fucking scientist are all prima donnas. They're like rock stars. You piss one of them off and you're kicked out of Star City. And Honey, the outside world is pure chaos. I should know, I've only been here for a few months and it's like heaven here. As soon as I got my seniority in, I was going to send for my wife and kid. Now I'll be out on my ass too."
"There's got to be something he likes," he said. "Think hard. What are the things he loves the most?"
"Denton isn't like that," I said. "He's a really nice guy. He cares about people. That's why he works so hard. The only things that mean anything to him are me and our son. I can't believe I've hurt him like this."
"Then why the hell did you do it?" he asked.
I sat down on the sofa. My mind was running in a hundred different directions at once. "Because I really do love him," I said. "In fact, I love him too much. Sometimes it's really hard for me to do what I need to do, because I love him so much. Sometimes I need to do something bad to create a little space between us, just so I can function."
"Wha..." he asked looking at me as if I was crazy."Okay lady it's time for me to get out of here. Tell your hubby, there's no hard feelings on my part, please. And tell him I'm really sorry and it won't happen again."
After he left, I cried for a while and then went into our bedroom. From a box hidden deep in a desk drawer, I pulled out a small necklace. It was gold with diamonds all over it. In the old days it would have been worth a small fortune, but things like that don't matter anymore. Although I don't understand why, I drew strength from the small, crossed, uneven lines. At the same time I felt dirty beyond all reasoning for what I'd just done to a man who from the first time he ever set eyes on me, has only wanted to love me and make me happy.
"Hey Dalton, your brother has done it again," yelled the dispatcher to me as I came in. "Shit, I don't think they could get a hat on that head of his if they tried. There's just too much brain in it. Tell that bastard that we need flying cars. I'll bet he kicks that one in a week."
As I put all of my equipment on the table, he looked it over as if something was missing. Ernie was our supply clerk. He's a feisty old bastard but he's very good at his job.
"Where is it?" he asked shrewdly. "Don't tell me you lost the God damned thing..."
"It's right there in front of you Banks," I said.
"I don't see it," he spat.
"If you could see it, it wouldn't be much of an invisibility cloak would it?" I smirked.
"Do you know where it is?" he asked. I nodded. Well, would you be so fucking kind as to turn it off, so I can check it back in?"
I reached down on the desk next to him. I could feel the almost paper thin material of the cloak. I flipped it over and it became visible. Then I reached inside and turned it off. It then resembled a regular hooded coat without sleeves. "My brother invented the tech for these too," I said.
"No fucking kidding," he spat.
"It's carbon nanotubes micrografted to inverted picopolymers," I said.
"You have no idea what any of that shit even means do you?" he asked.
"Nope," I said. "But I know how to use it. My brother and his kid talk about that shit all the time."
"Isn't your nephew, like seven?" he asked. I just nodded.
"He's going to be even smarter than Denton. They're going to need him in space," I said.
He just nodded.
I'm Dalton Woods. Denton is my twin brother. You could never tell it by looking at us. Although we share some facial features, we're nothing alike. My brother is smaller and has finer features. Throughout our lives, starting at a very young age, Denton studied and excelled academically. I excelled physically. As we grew up, we helped each other. Initially, he helped me with my homework and my assignments, while I helped him to be less inept socially.
I used to bring home girls for us to double date with. Den's not a bad guy, so once most of those girls got to know him, he did okay. They may have come over to our house in hopes of getting a chance at the athlete, but none of them ever left disappointed or felt like they'd been slighted after spending any time with my brother.
Then the world flipped its axis and most women no longer care how many pounds I can bench press. They're much more interested in IQ points nowadays. Society has always found the things, like strength, that seem to predict survivability, sexy. That's why men are hardwired towards women with narrow waists, wider hips and larger breasts. Something inside of us says this woman could carry and feed healthy infants.
But now, women simply don't care about how big your arms are or how fast you can run. No matter how strong you are or how fast you are, you can't lift or outrun that asteroid. It's intelligence and brainpower that will enable humanity to survive and women everywhere have quickly picked up on it.
One of the things that no one considered in our situation is mental instability. Humans have a sense of self preservation; well most of us do any way.
But in a case similar to the baby boomers in the last century, who grew up knowing that because of nuclear weapons the world could end at any moment, the baby boomers had the highest rate of suicides and mental disorders of any generation before them.
Our situation is worse. With the baby boomers, the threat of annihilation was POSSIBLE. The threat from Shiva 2100 is DEFINITE. There is no doubt that the world as we know it, will end. We know exactly what will happen and exactly when. This has made people all over the world change the way they look at things. There's no sense of permanence. How must a teenager feel in our time? There's no need to salt away money for your retirement when there's a better chance of you dying than retiring to Florida. Kids, grandkids, what's the point of bringing any more life to a planet that probably won't be here.
People all over the planet have just developed a, "What the fuck" attitude. Anything and everything goes. Crime has quintupled and is only getting worse. The only rays of hope are in the places where the ships are being built. Most of or all of them are walled off to prevent them from being overrun by people who want to get in.
Even the rich are terrified, because being rich is simply not enough. Even being super-rich is not enough. One of the failed attempts at putting together a group to build a ship was done by a consortium of billionaires. It failed. Part of the reason it failed was that all of the billionaires involved wanted to be in charge and they also tried to hold onto money. Most of them gave incredible amounts of cash but they needed to hold enough in reserve to remain billionaires and when the project started to run low on funds they all blamed each other and pulled out.
Most of the successful projects are created by groups of countries and have almost unlimited funds. But even inside of these groups, the pressure and responsibility of trying to save the entire human species is staggering. Quite a few of the people involved can't take the pressure and crack up.
They fall into two groups, the external group is made up of people who go nuts and either become a danger to the project or others. The internal group is made of people, who simply can't cope and are either suicidal or dangerous because they preach or talk about how pointless it all is.
All of these poor misguided individuals are our responsibility. I'm a Sandman. It's my job to put these poor misguided souls out of their misery. Sometimes they actually ask for it. In many of the cases, the individual targeted, simply doesn't want to go on any more, yet they lack the courage to do away with themselves. They can go online and we handle it from there. Our job is not only to give the target a quick, pain free death, it's to make sure that people around them don't suffer.
What good would it do for scientist A to blow his fucking brains out after telling everyone he knows that the project won't succeed and we're all going to die? That could set off a chain reaction among his peers and coworkers and become a self-fulfilling prophecy. So the Sandmen are called in.
We don't just do scientists. We take care of anyone whose mental state is a danger to Star City. So even if you're as chipper as a fucking blue jay, if you've been convicted of too many crimes, you can get the sand.
Actually, my brother is responsible for getting me the job. I'm not exactly scientist material, but trust it to Denton to find a way to make me useful. I really don't mind my job. There are actually sometimes when I enjoy it. One man's definition of murder is the same as another's definition of surgical euthanasia for the betterment of society. So don't call me a murderer and I won't kill you.
As I left the office after turning in my stuff, I made my way to the garage. I smiled as soon as I saw it, but there was nothing unusual about that. Yep, I still drove myself everywhere. In my line of work, I can't afford to wait for the monorail or the subway and I sometimes need to make it to places that are off the tracks. I also don't need to have a taxi driver able to document or testify to my movements.
My car is a classic. It's a thirty five year old 2013 Shelby GT 500 Mustang. The car harkens back to a time when horsepower meant something. My baby can still keep up with those electronic pieces of shit they drive now. And I have a lot fewer problems. The only major problem I have is that I have to go to the few places around town that stock petroleum fuel for commercial construction machines. A few of them still use "gas," as we call it, too.
Denton keeps telling me that when he gets the chance he's going to convert my car's engine so it can run on synth fuel. He also claims that my car won't make that hellacious noise anymore either. Sometimes Denton is simply too smart for his own good. I've tried explaining to him that the hellacious noise is a part of her charm and my car is supposed to sound like that.
My car has all of the design cues from classic Mustangs from every era. The car looks like it's moving even when it's standing still. She just looks angry. Everything on the car is black. The body paint is glass black. There are two flat black racing stripes down the center that are highlighted with red pinstripes so they pop and stand out from the glossier black. The rims, brake calipers and even my rotors are black. All of my lights, markers, signals and indicators have black lenses as well.
As I start the car up, everyone in the parking lot looks my way. Some of them smile in appreciation. Others smile nervously in fear.
I barely chirp the tires as I rocket away. I really can't afford a long smoking peel out. These tires are impossible to find nowadays.
Some of the people in the parking lot, mostly the fearful ones, weren't all afraid of my car. Some of them recognized the fact that the last letter of my license plate is an "S" and what it means. Even the police stay away from the sandmen.
I got back on the monorail and rode it around the city. As I looked out the windows at the gleaming spires and domes of Star City, I knew what projects were located in the different areas because I'd visited most of them from time to time. I saw where they were building the launch pad for the rockets we'd start launching in a few years.
I guess it would be more truthful to say that I saw them but I didn't see them. My mind worked feverishly, but it wasn't trying to solve any problems outside of my own personal ones right now. I thought the same word over and over again. "Why?"
"Why would Beth do that to me? She and our son Donnie were all that mattered to me. I mean, I know that every man says he loves his wife. But I LOVE Beth. She's always been the air that I breathe, the wind beneath my wings and all of that other corny bullshit. And I took it for granted that she felt the same way about me
When I'd walked into our home and saw her ... saw them, it had nearly ripped the heart still beating from my chest. I'd been too shocked to think about what to do or how to handle it. Exactly what is the correct thing to do in that situation? I know what my brother would have done. He'd have killed the guy and probably Beth too. Dalton always thought there was something fishy about Beth. It's only been recently that he's backed off on her. It's been the past seven years. That isn't really recent. What changed his mind about her or at least got him to back off was Donnie's birth. And, of course, the fact that from birth Donnie looked like my clone. Hospitals now automatically do a DNA test and there was no doubt at all that Donnie is my son. I think that was enough to convince Dalton that my marriage was okay.
I wonder what my brother would say now? At any rate, I hadn't gone tearing in there and opened up a can of whoop ass on anyone. Even if it turned out not to be my ass that got whooped, what would it have proven? Is there some little known fact of science that says if you kick the other guy's ass, it opens up a pocket hole in the universe that takes us back in time to a point before she cheated on you so you could stop it from happening?
Or perhaps I should have just taken my clothes off, found a vacant hole and joined in. Or maybe it was supposed to be one of those sophisticated things where we, as adults, all sat down and drank fucking tea while sticking our little fingers out and calmly discussing what had happened.
And I hadn't done any of that, I'd just turned tail and walked out of there. The buzzing in my pocket let me know that someone was trying to call me. I was sure it wasn't the lab so I didn't bother to even look at it. I almost wished it had been the lab because then I'd have a reason to go there among the things I knew and understood, to hide.
Hoping against hope, I looked at the screen of my phone and saw that as I'd expected, it was Beth. Before I realized what I was doing, I answered the phone.
"I'm going to pick Donnie up, so I can spend some time with him," I said coldly. "That should give you plenty of time to pack your things and leave."
"Denton," she said, between sobs. "Where would I go? And why would I go anywhere? We need to talk, Honey."
"Beth, there's nothing to discuss," I told her. "This isn't medieval times. We don't need a church, if there was still such a thing to let us separate..." She had a sharp intake of air that should have told me something. "We don't need to see a judge to divorce..." there it was again, not as sharp as the first but still there. She couldn't hide anything from me; or so I thought.
I guess that meant or at least I drew from it that this wasn't something that she thought we needed to divorce over. The problem was that I wasn't sure that I agreed with her.
"I have to go, Beth," I said. "I just don't feel like talking right now."
As luck would have it, the monorail was in Dalton's neighborhood at that moment. As we pulled into the station that was only a few block from his apartment, I got off. My brother and I had always been very close, so perhaps that was where I'd intended to go anyway.
I walked up to his door and knocked on it. The screen on the door lit up and I got his "away from home" message. I started to leave him a message that I'd dropped by, when his face filled the screen. "Hey little brother," he said. He looked at me seriously then and asked, "What's wrong?"
"I'm okay," I said. "I just dropped by to..." Before I could finish, he'd remotely unlocked the door for me.
"I was on my way home anyway," he said. "I'll be there in five minutes. Wait for me."
I went in and sat down. I looked through all of Dalton's stuff. He had all kinds of mementos left over from childhood. He had pictures and trophies from when he used to play football. If the NFL hadn't folded, he'd probably be playing for a living now.
Sometimes it surprised even me that the two of us were twins. We were like opposite sides of the same coin. As I stared at a picture of us in our late teens, the door opened and there he was. Dalton was as big as a fucking house and smiling like a Cheshire cat until he saw the look on my face. Then his face got very serious in less than a second.
"Denton what's wrong?" he asked. I'd never been able to hide anything from him so it came out.
"That fucking bitch," he sneered. "Denton, throw that whore out of town. The only reason she's here is because she's married to you. Throw her out. Let her try living in a regular city for a while. Let her see what it's like to come home every day to a place that's been robbed because with the world ending, nobody gives a fuck any more. Let her live in a place where a woman who looks like her gets raped often. Usually, just because some loser out there just decides that he may as well fuck her because laws don't matter anymore."
"I'm not doing any of that," I said. "Actually, I don't know what I'm going to do." He looked at me as if I'd just laid an egg.
"So who was the guy?" he asked. "Was it someone you know?"
I pulled out my phone and showed him the picture. "Big guy," he said. "You were probably right not to jump on him." As he looked at the picture, he pressed a couple of icons on my screen. He handed me my phone back and we talked about other things until I had to go and pick Donnie up from school.
Dalton drove me and I accepted the ride. I loved being in his car, but I could never own anything like that. That car was brutal. Everything on it was manual, even the gear shifter and transmission. And the car rode like a race car. You could feel every dip and bump in the road. What I loved most about the car was the way that it pressed you back in the seat every time he hit the gas.
He dropped me off at Donnie's school and waved at us he drove off. Donnie had been waiting for me outside of the school.
I didn't even have to ask him why he'd been outside already.
"They were doing numbers," he said. "So the teacher let me leave early."
"Donnie, you need as much math as you can get," I said.
"Dad, we're seven," he said. "I'm in the second grade. I don't go to classes with my homeroom class. They're learning numbers and basic adding and subtracting. They don't even know about division and multiplication yet. That's not math it's just numbers. I'm in AP calculus. What would I do with them?"
"Don't get cocky, Donnie," I warned. "You can always learn something new. When you assume that you know everything, you don't learn anymore and when you stop learning, you may as well be dead."
"Was that Uncle Dalton?" he asked. I nodded my head. "We should have ridden home in his car. There are so many things I want to talk to him about."
"Like what?" I asked.
"Is the rumor true?" he asked. "Is Uncle Dalton really a Sandman? That has to be the coolest job ever."
"Well son, I doubt it," I said. "No one really knows exactly who the Sandmen are."
The rest of the trip home we talked as usual about a lot of different subjects. We talked about math and physics and why girls were so icky. We talked about the asteroid and the ship and how solar sails actually functioned, but also about why there weren't any sports anymore.
One of the things I loved about talking with my son was that he shared my curiosity about everything. There was also the fact that he understood most of what I talked about. That was rare even among adults. I really felt like I could be myself around him and not simply because he was my son.
The thirty minutes or so that I spent walking and talking with Donnie made me completely forget about the problem I had waiting for me at home. The good times ended though as soon as I saw her standing there in the doorway. It's funny to see how one of the most beautiful women on the planet can look like a whipped dog when guilt changes her features.
As soon as I drove away from my brother, I pulled out my phone. When my brother had shown me the photo of the man his cheating wife had screwed in his living room, I'd quickly e-mailed the photo to myself. Although my phone wasn't as advanced as my brother's iPhone 85S, it had some very specialized software that made my job simpler.
One of those software apps allowed me to submit photos to the facial recognition software that we had on the main computer at Sandman headquarters.
I uploaded the photo and within seconds had his I. D. His name was Robert Lynch and he worked in construction. After waiting for a few moments more, I even knew where he was. The computer tapped into security cameras all over Star City. Less than ten minutes ago, a camera outside of a bar on the southwest end of the main strip had captured him.
I was there in less than six minutes. He was leaning against the bar talking in a really loud voice about how stupid women are. I walked right up to the bar and bumped into him.
"Hey, watch it buddy," he said indignantly. Then he went back to his rant.
I ordered a beer and took a sip. Then I started.
"Wow," I said loudly. "I had no idea this was a gay bar."
Every head in the place snapped around and looked at me.
"What are you talking about?" he asked me loudly.
"Well, you're sitting here complaining about women. It sounds like you'd rather uhm ... hang out with men." The guys at the table near the bar all backed up and moved their drinks.
"Not that there's anything wrong with being gay," I said. "You guys are okay in my book. You're just like everyone else."
"I'm not gay," he screamed.
"Oh, you're still in the closet?" I asked.
"I'm not gay," he screamed. "I like pussy."
"You've got a what?" I asked. "A pussy? That means you're not gay you're a trans..." before the word left my mouth, he balled up his fist and launched it at my jaw.
I easily caught the fist and punched him in the gut as hard as I could. He folded over my fist and I drew it back and punched him again in the same spot. This time, instead of just blowing out air, he emptied the contents of his stomach. I straightened him up and punched him right on the mouth. His head snapped backwards and he dropped like a rock.
The entire bar went silent. The security man ran over. He took one look at me and then told one of the other guys to call the police.