Rip Van Winkle my Butt

2

It was fall and I loved coming to the Catskill Mountains of New York on my vacations before returning to College in Texas. The country was beautiful. I would walk the mountain trails and find one beautiful picture after another to take as I hiked this land.

I was staying in a little town south of Albany and it was far enough into fall that the early mornings filled the valley with fog. Early Sunday morning, just before the sun came up, I was at the top of the valley. Beautiful! A solid blanket of fog. I snapped a few pictures of it and waited for the sun to burn it off. I had awhile so I lay down against a tree and waited. Funny, know how you get those sensations just before you fall asleep or as you wake up? Well, I had the sensation of flying but like Superman and that was funny, I didn’t like Superman. I was more a Batman person.

I felt the breeze on my face but is it my face? I feel different today. I don’t sense my mind is active. I don’t sense my surroundings as I think I use too. I look around, nope, nothing to see myself with. Damn it, something is wrong. I know there is.

Was this the same tree I laid against to take my nap? It looks different as well. What the hell is going on? At least the valley looks the same. I remember spending the early morning hours walking up this valley to try and catch a good picture or two of the sun burning off the morning fog. Maybe a nice before as you saw the blanket spread across the valley then the sun and you see the quaint old town nestled below. Now I know something is wrong, no camera. It and my backpack are gone.

I had to pee so I went by the tree. Yup, something wrong, no zipper, just buttons. I never had pants with buttons. I managed to re-button the buttons but what was happening? Where was I? Why is it similar but different?

Off in the distance I heard a girl holler for Rodger. Was I Rodger? I use to be Walter. I started toward the voice and in a few minutes I saw a pretty girl, maybe 18, long hair, a light brown. Done in a braid and down to her waist. As she came closer I could see she was mad and if I was Rodger I suspect I was the target of her madness.

“Rodger, I know you are new here but damn it you been warned about coming up valley alone! Walderon Hepaldorf will get you, then there is always hell to pay!” She smiled a bit as she got closer.

“Who?” I asked her.

“Hepaldorf. The old wizard of the vale. If he gets you he does strange things and we have found some don’t like it. I told you about him before.” She had closed the distance and came to me, put a hand on each shoulder and then she stood back and gave me a queer look. “Rodger? Are you ok? You don’t look right.”

I debated if I should say anything but maybe she knew how I could get back to wherever I was supposed to be. “I use to be called Walter and I’m afraid I have no idea where I am or who I am. I came up here to get some pictures and now my camera and backpack are gone.”

“Hepaldorf, I think it worked!” She said. “When were you born Walter?”

“I was born in 1963, why?”

“Well I guess he was right then,” she said. “Umm, Walter, this is 2035. The world was almost totally destroyed in 2012 when the magnetic poles shifted and we had all sorts of disasters, one after the other. The world population was down to a few million and they had a big problem. We have been trying to recover ever since.”

“You mind if I refuse to believe that for the time being? All I wanted was some damn pictures.”

“Oh, you probably got them.” She laughed. “Do you know where you are?”

I thought it surprising, she seemed so cool and calm about this whole thing. “Sure, the Catskill Mountains in New York. About 16 miles from Albany why?”

“Ever hear the tale of Rip Van Winkle? Took a nap and slept for 20 years?” She asked me.

“Sure, henpecked guy plays some bowling game and sleeps 20 years, him?”

“Yes. Well, it didn’t really go down that way. Hepaldorf was just learning his craft then. He hadn’t mastered it. Rip fell asleep and Hepaldorf sent him here accidentally. We finally got the Hepaldorf here to send him back but they missed the timing and he was twenty years off.” She smiled.

“But in that story he was the same guy. I am not me,” I said.

“Yes, true. Let me explain, well, try to. First a few questions of mine?”

“Sure, if it will help.”

“Were you married back where you came from? You have a family?”

I looked at her, these weren’t the I want to help you go home questions, these were more the will anyone notice if you’re gone type.

“I can’t get home?” I looked into her eyes and saw they were a bright green.

“Well maybe, maybe not. Hepaldorf could probably do it, but usually he has a reason for what he does. Let me tell you a little about our Hepaldorf. He and six others, we called them little people or dwarfs, were forced to land on earth. From what he says it was about the early reign of the Pharaoh’s of Egypt. Their spacecraft sustained irreparable damage from something he calls a hyper radiation burst they were caught in. He and his wife came here to North America, others went to Ireland and another pair went to Egypt but they all have moved around occasionally. They still wait for a rescue ship. They got a Tachyon message off, but he says it is many light years to their home. They helped develop the Earth, leading us toward space in the hope we might eventually be able to help them. They lost the gamble when the poles shifted.” She stared at my eyes to see if I understood and I do but not sure I believe it.

“Um, he’s from outer space and lives a long time?” I asked.

She took a deep breath and said, “Yes, he and the other five still live. The hyper burst seems to have sterilized them, none have had any children since it happened. He isn’t sure how long he will live because of the effects from the burst. He says if it stays normal he is now middle aged.

“He and his wife just try to help us, honest.”

“No,” I told her.

She looked at me quizzically like no he’s not?

“No, I’m not married, nor have any family that would care. My mother drank herself to death and dad is working hard at it, if he is even alive. Well, all from when I took a nap that is.”

She smiled a deep and serious type smile.

“Good, then it won’t matter as much if he can’t get you back,” she laughed. “Let’s go meet Hepaldorf and see anyway. He will remember why you are here.”

She lead me further up the valley then we turned behind some rocks and she finally walked between a couple trees and disappeared in a crack in the rock. I followed and it opened into a big cave only it wasn’t really. It was a house built inside a big cave. She went to the door and knocked a few times and a wrinkly old dwarf opened the door. He smiled at her then looked at me, he stepped forward and stared deep a few seconds.

“Sara, have you met Walter Farends? He is from 1982 and is 19 years old.” He smiled.

She looked at him, “Yes, he was Rodger yesterday when he came to the village, now he says he is Walter.”

“Yes, well, I guess I best explain as this is happening all over the earth. We have to do it or you all will die off,” he looked like we should understand? “Sit here at the table, it has some normal chairs we had made for you humans.” He led us inside and around the corner to a regular size table and chairs. He asked his wife to get us some tea and he climbed a few steps and sat in a high chair for him.

“OK, short and not so sweet kids. As the poles reversed the magnetic field grew weaker. Plain and simple, like us, most of you humans were cooked. Err, sterilized by the increased Gamma radiation.

“I am called a far seer among my people. Stenendal is our other one, he is in Africa at the moment. We saw all this coming many generations ago. We planed for it more than 500 years before it happened.

“We were at war for almost a thousand of your earth years on our home world. We had developed space travel to the point of being able to move around our galaxy a bit. It really wasn’t a good vs bad war, more a we want to do it this way instead of your way type thing. Our ship went to try to find some rare elements they wanted for some new research. We were a few light years away when it happened. A star went super nova between us and our home and poof, like that we were caught in the gamma burst and blasted by dark matter.

We pretty much drifted, several hundred systems later we ran out of options and found you. Now, we are here and have nowhere to go.

“As you may or may not know, Walter, your people could make life, we can as well. What neither they or we can do is create sustainable life. Only God can do that. All we, and you ever created was a single lifetime. A sterile clone of whatever. It could never reproduce. You know of that?” he asked me.

“I knew they had done some cloning but had problems with them, yes.” I told him.

“Yes, well, Sara here, and a few others in town are normal humans and can mate and reproduce but here we have a shortage of men, we have six viable women and no viable men. Now to solve this we built male clones. Rodger was one. Almost no brain, no self-awareness at all. He was what went to sleep under the tree. What has happened is your life essence was swapped with his. He went to replace you. He will also die in a couple days so Sara needed to insure you had no ties. Yes, we can reverse the procedure if absolutely necessary.” His face was unreadable now.

“That cloned body now has the one thing it needed. God given life essence and now you can, if you will, help us rebuild the human race. Sara here needs a man, she knows what is happening and why, but we promised we would never force anyone to do this. If you wish, tell me and all will be undone and you’ll remember but a weird dream.

I looked at Sara and she smiled and said, “Yes I know, love and passion and all that. We have other women if I am not to your liking, but so far Hepaldorf hasn’t missed yet on his picks. Please stay? Be my Adam and I your Eve? He will find others for the rest.” She stood and leaned over and kissed me, I melted with that kiss and knew I’d be going nowhere. Had to do my part and save Earth and all. I think my smile gave me away as she really laid it on me.

2 Comments
  1. Berta says

    Interesting story, well written sci-fi!

    1. MFBurbaugh says

      I thank you very much

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