Cover Art and Design by Christopher Forrest, Alice Bennett and Katerina Forrest




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The Zarulium Chronicles


Book One


Days of Discovery


By Christopher A Forrest


With Alice Bennett


Cover Art and Design by Christopher Forrest, Alice Bennett and Katerina Forrest


Published by Christopher A Forrest at Smashwords


Copyright 2012 Christopher A Forrest


http://www.zchronicles.com


This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners


Anton's Video Diary 1

October 1, 2014


"This is Dr. Anton Vladimir Yakushev here . . . uhhh . . . I apologize in advance, I am not used to working with video equipment . . . In fact, this is my first time . . . In fact, I feel a bit nervous in front of the camera . . . ha-ha . . . . Okay, I am about to attempt an historic event here in my lab in Aurica. Aurica is in Ontario . . . Earth . . . uhhh . . . Anyways . . .I have been designing and building an apparatus that will allow objects to travel between current time and points in the past or future. I have built a time machine, if you will.

"Yesterday, I completed the first ever, successful time travel event, and now it is my plan today to record a second event for posterity.

"Today, you can see that machine behind me . . . Inside its transport chamber you will see a rock . . . or more precisely a stone . . . and it is my intention that this stone and a wristwatch, will make the first time travel journey. For purposes of practicality and viewer comprehension, the journey will be a short one into the future.

"In order to prove the device's veracity, I will begin by setting time-keeping devices in two places. Firstly, I will place a regular three-handed wristwatch into the travel chamber. If the experiment works, then this watch will disappear with the stone. I will synchronize my wristwatch to the same time as that of the travelling watch. In order to be successful, the watch and stone should reappear after one minute, yet the travelling watch will show the same time as it did when it disappeared – while all other time-keeping devices will have advanced by one minute of real time . . .

"Now you see . . . I am synchronizing at 2:01 pm. I have a third clock on the wall also synchronized to this same time. In addition, you can see the video has a timer at the bottom that will record the passing of one minute . . . . I will begin at precisely 2:02 in a few seconds from now . . . All right, I will begin counting down . . . now! Five, four, three, two, one . . . shit! Oh, excuse me . . . uhhh, it would appear I just fried the cooling fan . . . . It had been acting up . . . uhhh, abort test for today . . . Dammit!"


Chapter 1

Alejandro – Peruvian mountains – October 2014


Alejandro knew wrong from right because his guardians taught him the difference. He learned these differences both from them and from personal trial and error. He discovered that the older he grew, the less his guardians needed to instruct him, although he sensed there was still plenty to learn and experience.

They explained to him when he was young that the reason he had never interacted with other humans was his special disease. Alejandro was a carrier of a rare condition that his guardians explained required them to quarantine him: his disease was communicable. He remained calm about this because fortunately, his guardians were both doctors working diligently towards Alejandro's cure.

Due to his condition, Alejandro's guardians educated him at home using computer, television, and books. He recognized all of these as invaluable learning tools. He was especially fond of computers however, because two years ago for his 11th birthday, his guardians rewarded him with access to what they called 'dramatic tele-visual literature'.

His guardians allowed him to watch science fiction shows. He found this topic a delightful escape from his isolated world. He asked them for more shows like these and they had since granted him more. Alejandro now enjoyed a variety of science fiction shows on television. They had diverse topics and imaginative stories.

During the past two years, his guardians occasionally granted him other television choices. Now he enjoyed watching live sporting events, vocal musical performances, and nature shows.

As far as his real world interaction went, his guardians allowed him to interact freely with nature in his mountainous abode. Apparently, his condition did not affect animals or plants. Of course, he did not interact with many creatures since his home was a few thousand feet above sea level in the southern foothills of the Peruvian part of the Andes Mountains. At that height, he spotted the occasional bird or mountain sheep, but little else.

When he was younger, Alejandro had asked his guardians where he came from and when. They told him the year of his birth and that he was 'indigenous to the area'. This meant he was born in the vicinity about 13 years ago. During his early years, Alejandro found this amount of information about his heritage to be sufficient.

His more recent exposure to television created a feeling of loneliness in Alejandro. Seeing people interact with others so freely caused him to long for companionship. This longing caused him regularly to wonder about his disease. It was starting to become a nuisance.

Lately, Alejandro was far more concerned about a different 'when'. That is, he no longer cared about when he was born; instead, he cared about when his guardians would cure him. He wanted to start interacting with others.

His guardians explained that they daily worked with diligence on finding a cure and that they considered the issue urgent. In fact, this urgency required them to trade places with one another every day. That is, one stayed with him while wearing a special protective suit due to the highly contagious nature of the disease, while the other visited their laboratory to continue their dedicated research.

Alejandro recently expressed an interest in visiting the laboratory for educational purposes, but the guardians explained that others worked there. Alejandro would assuredly contaminate the area, even if the employees wore protective suits. This was also the reason why the government had built this laboratory for disease control, high in a deserted mountain region.

He had not heard previously that there were others at the laboratory. He understood the dangerous nature of the disease and so he retracted his request to visit the lab.

Instead, Alejandro reminded himself again, how grateful he was that his guardians cared for him enough to continue their very important medical research so faithfully, selflessly, and tirelessly. He voiced these sentiments to his guardians and promised not to ask for any such considerations again until they cured him.

Due to his guardians' quarantining him, Alejandro had never been past the 'perimeter'. Alejandro's perimeter was not made of wood or metal as a suburban fence might be. It actually more resembled what dog owners would recognize as an 'invisible fence'. Alejandro wore a radio frequency wristband that beeped a warning before he reached the perimeter. It also provided a mild shock to deter him from moving beyond the border.

Alejandro inadvertently tested the effectiveness of the electronic enclosure system once many years ago. On that occasion, he saw a strange animal in the distance and walked towards it. In his excitement, he ignored the wristband's warning beep and, as he stepped over the perimeter, he experienced an electric shock.

A few months later, while tracking a bird he had previously not identified, he found himself on a narrow natural path. Although he sensed the location was dangerous, the excitement of discovering a new creature overcame his fear. As he neared the bird, he raised his electronic camera and snapped a shot just as it took to flight. Contented with his success, Alejandro then looked at where he was. The narrow path led to a natural ledge.

He realized immediately that this natural ledge extended beyond what he thought was the perimeter boundary. He looked at his wristband, wondering if he had missed its warning beep during the excitement. The curl of a smile emerged on his lip as he realized that he had not received a shock. His smile blossomed when he concluded that he had found an unmonitored zone. He had found freedom!

He tempered the exulted feeling he experienced at that moment shortly thereafter when he considered that his freedom consisted of a three by four foot rocky ledge. If he tried to take a nap here, his legs would hang over the end of this 'bed'. He, furthermore, might awaken from a bad dream, only to find that reality was worse. It would be worse because he might wake up on the jagged rocks a few hundred feet below. Then he slapped himself on the side of the head as he realized he would not wake up if he fell hundreds of feet onto jagged rocks – he would be dead!

He would have said "Doh!" as Homer Simpson, but his guardians would not let him watch a show they considered crude, disrespectful and amoral despite the fact that according to an advertisement Alejandro had seen, The Simpsons had won 27 Primetime Emmy Awards.

He used this secret location for quiet contemplation when his guardians were busy. Of late, while sitting on his lone mountain perch, Alejandro could not resist wondering about a different way of life.

He recognized the awkward feelings of yearning to be with others yet wanting to be alone also. Although he appreciated his guardians' companionship, these days Alejandro regularly sought solitude. Perhaps he simply needed something new in his life.

Alejandro decided his new life should involve breaking the rules. Despite his secure living environment; caring and generous guardians; and all the recent television rewards they granted him; Alejandro, albeit with a conflicted sense of propriety, nevertheless decided to rebel.

He started by watching television past his curfew. At first, he watched musical performances. When they could fulfil his craving no longer, he progressed to mature cartoons. Once he found this forbidden fruit's flavour unfavourable, Alejandro discovered the ultimate tele-visual feast: spy movies!

What fascinated him most about spy movies was that they were full of characters that faked their identities and solved problems with subterfuge. Studying their subversive activities, taught Alejandro how to bypass his wristband's electronic signals for long enough to pass the perimeter without receiving a shock. He also learned how to adjust the wristband so that it would not alert anyone monitoring the system.

For a brief while he felt guilt about his deceptions, however, Alejandro rationalized that his need to break the rules was indirectly his guardians' fault. After all, they allowed him access to non-educational television, which was where he received the inspiration.

Alejandro observed that spies often learn the habits of their adversaries by studying their routine activities. When he applied this practice to his guardians, Alejandro formed a short and simple conclusion: they changed places at 9:30 AM daily. One would arrive about nine, confer privately with the other for half an hour, and then they would switch places with each other. One guardian was always present in the dwelling.

On this October morning at 9 AM, Alejandro continued his rule breaking by stating to Paul, and to Eva after she arrived, "I need to work on my science project." Paul and Eva were Alejandro's guardians.

"Good, Alejandro. I appreciate your enthusiasm for education," replied Paul, as he and Eva headed to their private chambers to discuss as usual.

"Yes, but there is an animal involved in the study that is only active in the mornings, and I need photographic material for the project…" Alejandro lied. While he did need the evidence, it was hardly critical that he do so in the morning.

"In that case, you have permission to conduct an outdoor field trip. How long do you anticipate your work to require?" Eva questioned.

"About an hour – less if I am lucky."

"Very well, Eva will expect your return in one hour," replied Paul.

As Alejandro headed out the door with his digital camera, he experienced confusing feelings. He had deceived his highly intelligent guardians with such incredible ease. He realized that this is what trust must be about: the stronger it is between two people, then the easier it is for one to break.

Feeling guilty because of his deception, yet overjoyed by its success, Alejandro further realized that the largest thrill might not have occurred yet: the potential excitement the next hour held. He positioned himself about 250 yards away from his home down an ancient glacial break. He would be hidden but capable of hearing footsteps, and most importantly, he could even predict the time Paul would walk past.

Alejandro knew he needed to count to about 30 after Paul passed by in order for his surveillance plan to succeed. When he emerged from his hiding place, Alejandro positioned himself behind Paul until he turned a natural corner about one hundred yards ahead. Once Paul turned, Alejandro ran quickly to close the distance, but then walked the final 30 yards stealthily. Before he peeked around the corner, he activated the bypass of the wristband's signal. As a test, he neared the perimeter awaiting the warning beep. He did not hear a beep and so he ventured forth.

As memories of the previous painful shock entered his mind, he hesitated. He wondered if he had the courage to continue. He drew a deep breathe, enough to raise his shoulders, and then noticed Paul shrinking from sight in the distance. He thought about his tiny 3 X 4 rocky ledge and compared it to the sight in front of him. Alejandro could see a space before him that was a thousand times bigger than his ledge of freedom.

If his bypass failed, then the pain would exceed that of his recently scraped knee. He needed inspiration. He looked at the bandage on his knee and recalled that, contrary to his expectation about bandages, their removal hurt far more done slowly than quickly. He decided he would cross the perimeter quickly and he did.

Fortunately, Paul was tall enough for Alejandro still to see in the distance. Since his mind was preoccupied with Paul, he did not notice that he received no shock as he rushed to catch up. He remembered his spy film surveillance lessons: the pursuer must remain inconspicuous without losing sight of the target.

Alejandro's spy world did not resemble that of the movies. Those worlds usually showed urban centers with people in cars who followed their targets. They had guns in case things went wrong.

Alejandro imagined, as he continued his pursuit, that if he needed a gun, then he was out of luck: his spy world consisted only of rocks and nature.

He followed Paul for several minutes until it became boring. As Alejandro considered giving up the chase, he saw Paul stop and turn towards a rock facing. A moment later, he saw the rock face open; Paul entered into it and then vanished. The rock face closed quickly behind him and Alejandro stood in his spot amazed. Suddenly, the chase was on again!

He ran to the rock face to examine it. After a minute of scrutiny, he decided that whoever created the opening was a master of deception because Alejandro found no trace of an entrance.

Suddenly, he remembered that in spy films, the spied upon had surveillance equipment of their own designed to alert them of pursuers. He felt afraid and immediately began to run home. He was afraid of detection because it could lead to confrontation. If Paul confronted him about this, Alejandro feared his guardians might never trust him again. They might also strip him of privileges.

Fortunately, having spent his entire life at this height, Alejandro was comfortable running almost the entire way home. He stopped running about 100 yards from his dwelling. He remembered that he did have some homework to do and so he proceeded to do it. He still had plenty of time before his hour ended.

Paul and Eva certainly had a strange way of entering their laboratory. It reminded Alejandro of the cartoon character Batman and his cave. Batman used his cave as a research centre and kept it secret because he did not want people to know whom he really was and what he did there.

Alejandro decided this was a silly comparison because he was sure his guardians were just dedicated medical researchers trying to find a cure for his disease. Alejandro pulled out his camera and snapped a few shots of some bird eggs for his assignment.

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