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T H E E S T A B - L O I D --------------------------------- Issue #2 1-25-86 --------------------------------- A weekly electronic magazine for users of The Establishment BBS (894-6526) owned and operated by Thane Smith Editor - Gene B. Williams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . You may share this magazine with your friends under the . . condition that the magazine remain complete and intact, . . with no editing, revisions or modifications of any kind, . . and including this opening section and statement. . . If you like the magazine, the Sysop and I would appre- . . ciate it if you would let your friends know where they . . can log in to find the magazine. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . (c) 1986 THIS ISSUE: Things have been extremely hectic this past week, and I just haven't had the time to write up a decent issue. (Hey! I just finished yet another book for CHILTON!) Solution? Well, I cheat a bit, and make use of something that is already written, but that hasn't been seen for a while. The story in this issue is one that appeared in the Zephyr Magazine. This means that some of the users will have read it, but it has been one of the more popular issues. I hope you enjoy it. This story came about after a statement made by Carl Sagan that there could possibly be creatures living in the atmosphere of Jupiter. Due to the extreme pressure near the surface (and the fact that the surface isn't really a surface at all), Sagan's idea was that the creatures would live in the atmosphere alone. This, of course, would mean that they would have to be buoyant, like huge biological hot air balloons. .pa BEANS, BAGS & SMILER JACK Smiler Jack cut another juicy one. "Dammit, Jack! Can't you control yourself? The whole ship is beginning to smell like a flooded waste recycler." Jack looked up from his plate of multicolored, multiflavored paste. "I'm sorry. There must be something wrong with the food synthesizer. I never did trust those stupid machines anyway. I think it's out to get me." He poked his plastic fork at the goop in front of him. "This stuff gives me a terrible case of gas." As if to confirm Jack's statement, his chair echoed with a long and resounding staccato. Commander Phillips jumped from his seat, his face turning slightly pale. "THAT'S IT!" he shouted. "Jack, get the hell out of here. From now on you eat in your cabin. ALONE! For that matter, unless you are desperately needed, you are confined to quarters until further notice. Nobody else is having that problem, and you're making it a definite part . . ." he sniffed the air with disgust . . ."of all our lives on board this ship. I'm sorry about this, Jack, but you're just going to have to keep away from everyone until . . . well, until you're feeling better." Jack tried to stifle a frown at one end, and his gassy urge from the other - without much success at either. The commander squinted at the sound and screamed, "GET OUT!" Jack stood slowly, followed by a restrained bubbling, and walked to the door. Each step was accompanied by a muffled pop. Human muscles just aren't suitably developed to withstand the forces of a methane generator gone critical. At the door Jack turned to the small group at the table, both to apologize and to make one last plea, but a release of "air" came from the opposite end of his anatomy even as he opened his mouth. "OUT!" yelled the crew in unison. The shout caused an involuntary flexing. The resulting force lifted Jack a full 3 inches from the floor due to the low gravity of deep space. Still in mid-air, he spun and lunged through the doorway, propelled along by his own intimate jet stream. From behind he could hear the crew pushing aside full plates of food. "I can't help it," he muttered to himself. "What do they expect me to do about it anyway? It's the synthesizer's fault, not mine. And if that damned air system was working better the halls wouldn't smell so bad, either. It's not my fault!" Trailing clouds of the past glory of synthesized food, Jack finally arrived at this tiny cabin, entered and slumped into his cot. He glanced at the two empty cots which had once held his roommates - before they had evacuated the odorous disaster area, and Jack's equally odorous company. Still muttering to himself, Jack fell into a deep and vaporous sleep. By the next morning his anger at the commander and crew for confining him had been suffocated. Sometime during the night a clever mechanic had rigged a small air recycler to Jack's cabin, and had then shut that cabin off from the rest of the ship. It is said that an individual's body odors are not nearly as offensive to that person as they are to others. After 8 hours of slow build-up, Jack came to realize just how inaccurate this theory is. He also better understood the feelings and senses of the crew. After two more weeks of confinement with his problem, Jack began to wish that there was some way he could isolate himself from himself. His curses grew increasingly vehement and hot - as did his exiting fumes. He cursed his luck, his anatomy, the commander, the crew, the ship, space, air, everything. But his most violent and juiciest comments were reserved for that metal box in the galley laughing called a food synthesizer. "It's a monster out to get me," he growled at his now hazy image in the mirror. He devised plans for its murder. It would be slow and tortuous. Vicious and malevolent. Something fitting the crimes it had perpetrated upon his person. Perhaps he would sneak into the galley (once his condition improved enough to allow him to sneak) and program the vile thing to reproduce heavy oil. Or soft, melty plastic. Something similar enough in structure to food hydrocarbons for the machine to accept into its programming, but something liquid and damaging enough to work its way into the innards of the machine - and then choke it slowly, very slowly, to death. He dreamed up ways to cause the machine to produce large quantities of methanous gas, just as it had done to him, then let the gasses build up and up until the synthesizer exploded in a metal-tearing flatulence. The whistle of the intercom burst Jack's daydreaming. "This is Commander Phillips, Jack. I want to see you in my quarters in 10 minutes." There was a slight pause. "No, meet me in the rec hall. It's bigger and I want to be as far away from you as possible." There was another pause. "Uh, no offense, Jack." A steady breeze pushed on Jack's face as he entered the recreational room. At the far end of a table sat the commander, with a large fan spinning next to him to return any possible gaseous contamination that might escape from Jack. "I, uh, . . . hear, . . . that you still have that little. . . problem, Jack." "Yes, sir. It seems to be better, though." Jack's hopes of talking the commander into letting him out of his cabin were destroyed as a tiny tail gunner let go a burst of warm, gaseous bullets. "No, I guess it's not getting better. But, commander, I've just GOT to get out of that room! It's . . ." .pa "Never mind, Jack. You'll be getting out. We've reached our destination and have gone into orbit around Jupiter. In fact, two shuttle teams have already been down into the atmosphere. The reports are correct. There are creatures down there, just floating around in the upper atmosphere. "The teams reported that the creatures gather into groups, almost like herding. It appears that they communicate with each other in some manner. Since you speak several languages, you're the logical choice for an attempt to communicate with them." "But commander, just because I speak a few languages - EARTH languages - doesn't mean that I can talk to these things." He tightened. The commander switched the fan to a higher speed. "Now don't get nervous, Jack. The creatures seem peaceful enough. They haven't made any aggressive moves. You'll be in no danger." "But, I . . ." "Jack, you're the man for the job. The whole crew agrees." "But, I . . ." "I suppose I should be honest with you, Jack. Actually there are several others I considered. A few are even better qualified. It's just that, . . . well, the crew unanimously 'volunteered' you for the job. To be perfectly honest, we need some time to, . . .well, we need some time to clear the air." Jack was still trying to talk his way out of if as the hatch to the shuttle was being sealed. "Isn't anyone even going to come with me?" As the air lock to open space swung aside the radio clicked. "Are you kidding!" The violent outer atmosphere of Jupiter buffeted the tiny shuttle. Slowly the temperature sensors began to climb. The twisting, tearing gales slowed, then ceased. And then, there they were. Great, ugly fish-like creatures suspended in the atmosphere by huge, fleshy bags. They looked much like monstrous whales tied to hot air balloons. As if curious, they came closer. Jack's posterior bubbled a distorted stereo to his greeting through the microphone - a mixture of human nervousness and synthesizer plague. To his surprise, the creatures moved in still closer and began to make weird guttural sounds, like a thumping Morse code. "I am from the planet, Earth," Jack announced. "GGrribbit pppptthhhhhh," answered one of the creatures. Jack tried Spanish, Greek, French, Latin and finally Arabic. All useless." "Pprrak prrrrrraaaaak griipth phoooooo." "Dididididididit didit," Jack tried. The creature became very excited and spun in quick circles. "Phophophophophophophooooooop grwagrap." Jack leaned back against the console chair and mumbled, "Now what the hell did I say?" Outside the creature approached the shuttle and opened what appeared to be a huge mouth, as if to swallow the small ship and make Jack the Jonah of Jupiter. He stared at the approaching cavern and tensed. The tension forced a seething explosion from Jack. The sound bounced around inside the shuttle, was greatly amplified and then broadcast into the atmosphere. The creature stopped suddenly, slammed its mouth shut, and began rocking back and forth like a treeswing in the wind. "Krrrg krrrrrg," it muttered happily. Jack fell back into the seat and pondered the situation. Some kind of communication was taking place. Twice he had "said" something that had caused the creature to react. The creature seemed to understand. He looked through the port at the creature. It was still rocking to and fro, back and forth, making the odd purring sound. Then Jack noticed that the huge bag attached to the creature seemed to swell and collapse slightly as the creature muttered its happy tune. "Krrrr," and it moved forward and up. "Krrrrg," and it moved back and down. Jack knew that he was communicating somehow. As the creature rocked like a baby in a tree - and a happy baby at that - he tried once again with his armory of languages. All seemed to be ineffectual. The building pressure in Jack's gut suddenly released itself and echoed through the cockpit. The sound was picked up by the microphones and broadcast outward. The creature ceased its movements and watched the shuttle with great interest. "Methane!" Jack cried. He thought back at the time he was in summer camp, when several boys were getting their midnight kicks by lighting matches to see if the gaseous exits of the bean filled campers would light. (They did.) "Methane!" He flicked the recording switch. "The creatures keep afloat by filling their bags with methane. Warm methane. The release from the sac produces a vibration across a membrane. This appears to be how they carry on communication. He flipped the mike switch again and squeezed out a bubble of the synthesized gas. The creature outside spun a quick circle and answered the sound with one remarkably similar in both tone and duration. Jack tried again, with the same response from the creature. .pa The baggous creature rubbed against the shuttle, making its version of flirtation obvious, and attempting to get its new- found friend to speak again. After an hour of such attempts, Jack found that he could flex his sphincter muscles just so, like the flexible opening of a balloon, and that he could thus duplicate the sounds of the creature. It wasn't very comfortable sitting on the microphone, but both he and the creature were learning. The creature would turn left with a tonal, "kkrrrriipp," and Jack would answer with a nearly identical release and finger the shuttle controls to turn is ship to the same degree. The creature rose 20 meters with a "phhhhtttoggrrrrr," and Jack drove the shuttle upwards and squeezed out a similar "phhhhtttoggrrrrr." Finally the creature farted out a hearty "Ggggrrepppithhh" and returned to the group of creatures waiting in the distance. Jack returned the salutation (wondering what the outside atmosphere would do to the olfactory nerves of a human - with a ready answer growing inside the capsule) and shot upwards through the atmosphere and into space where the mother ship was waiting for his report. His skin tingled with excitement. (His nose also tingled, but for a different reason.) The first contact with extra- terrestrial beings, and he, ol' Smiler Jack, had been the one to make it! Without the divine help of that malfunctioning - that very dear, wonderful - food synthesizer, it wouldn't have been possible. How he loved that machine. Every glorious confused circuit was a delight. The thing deserved a good polishing. Perhaps he'd give it a name. Charlie! Yes, Charlie. He's carve a name plate for it, and write home about it, and tell it bedtime stories, and take it to the movies, and . . . and . . . and. . . After all, there isn't anything two best friends won't do for each other. As the little shuttle glided through the opening, Jack was planning the evening's festivities - all in Charlie's honor. First he'd set the buttons to serve everyone a heaping plate of refried beers and bubbly beer. Then when things were popping all over the ship, and when the rest of the crew joined Jack in his "problem," he'd set all the available fans to concentrate the smelly fumes in the commander's cabin. .pa UNTIL NEXT TIME I'm hoping that things will calm down sufficiently this week to allow me time to get together a better issue for ya. Meanwhile, any time you're near a book store, go in and ask for my books. Even if you don't want a copy for yourself, if enough people ask, the stores will begin to carry the titles, and have them on the shelves for those who want them but can't seem to find them easily. And also meanwhile - keep spreading the word that the magazine is here for any and all. This is one case where a "tight and exclusive group" is NOT wanted. The wider we spread, and the more response we get from the issues, the more often you'll see them posted. So, if the every-other-week thing isn't enough for you, you have only yourself to blame. As soon as things start picking up on this board, I'll feel that it's worth the time to start knocking these things out weekly - and to maybe start putting up issues that can get us all thinking and participating. And one more thing - let me or our ilustrious Sysop know how you feel about having an uninterrupted version of the magazine available in the download section.
Zephyr Magazine is © Gene Williams. All rights reserved.