In The Sixth Millenium, There is an Answer to an Old Question

“Anyone ever ask you what the measure of a man is Aiden?”

The answer was sitting on the table to the left of a tape ruler. The rest of him was on scales all around the sterile white room. Amber Banes was diligently disassembling as much of the man as she could. 2 liters of blood were sitting on the ground in glass jars. With a plop, the kidneys were put aside to be inspected later for viability. Briefly she glanced at Aiden who was standing at the edge of the room trying to muster up some emotion for the proceedings. She turned back to the body, revealing the red highlights of her black bobbed hair.

“Well Granddad?”

“ Stop calling me that. I’m ten years younger than you.”

“No honey, you just lived ten years less than I did. The birthday still proves you’re my senior.”

“That’s fine. Is that Trevor Ashton?”

“Says so on the chip.”

“Trevor Ashton, awarded Hero of Earth in 2166?”

“As far as I know.”

If Aiden had his druthers, he’d be smoking and pacing up and down the ten mile compound. A troubling thought could always be beaten down with the proper medication. Sooner or later, he’d out pace it and find a rational, comforting answer. This was not to be as the fruit of Kentucky had died long ago and Aiden had work to do.

“ How does a man who survives impalement, plasma discharge and two painful divorces die?”

“A steel beam removes his head apparently.”

“So you’re saying that he’d be a poor recruit for an army?”

“ I would be if it was 4000 years ago. Now, we’ve got capabilities that… it’s magic. I got frozen a doctor, now I’m a shaman.”

The scalpel was put on a tray so that she could grab a pair of hedge clippers.

“ Why did you leave?”

“My arthritis got to the point that I couldn’t tie a knot: couldn’t work. Turns out all I needed was a cream.”

Plop. The heart was pretty big for a small man. Out of its element it was a rather unimpressive piece of meat. It might just save someone else’s life but that was potential. At that moment it was a bloody junction. The salvage mission continued onwards.

“Well Mr. Smith, do you need him or not? I really don’t want to remove his intestines if I don’t have too.”

“No, I kind of figured I’d get the whole package.”

“Wouldn’t be so picky myself. I’ve got sot some natural born killer heads back there.”

“I’ve got better prospects.”

“Do you need a new kidney?”

“Three’s sort of crowd.”

“Picky. Picky.”

Plop. The liver was now weighed. If you were one to subscribe to the idea that this was where the soul resides you might think Trevor had some serious evil inside him. Could very well be a symptom of the toilet wine.

“I was suppose to go somewhere else.”

“Senior moment?”

“I was told when you stop living you go somewhere.”

She stopped for a second. With her right hand she maneuvered to touch his shoulder but remembered the blood at the last possible moment.

“Do you dislike where you are?”

As if the patron saint of awkward moments, Ikay bust into the room with what looked like a tricorder and an insanely cheery smile.

“What’d you get me Amber?”

For a moment the two regarded Ikay like she had horns growing out of her bald head. Her cheerful disposition could be so irksome. Problem with that was, Ikay just wanted to save someone. Try as he might, Aiden couldn’t fault the kid for that.

Trevor Ashton died at the age of 60, 1.65 meters tall, 65 kilograms heavy. He had 155 confirmed kills and in his life he saved 20 men. In his death, he saved another 21.

In The Sixth Millenium, They Need a Few Good Warriors

“You know, dead people use to actually disturb me.”

“They’re just things.”

“That distinction alone troubles me to the core.”

“Morality from the time of The Express Crusades. Cute.”

“Do I want to know?”

“Christians kill Jews, Jews kill Muslims, Muslims kill Jews, Muslims kill Christians, Christians kill Muslims. You were all very busy, I’m not surprised you don’t remember.”

“You know Roebuck, Icky was nicer.”

Roebuck turned, his protruding lip was level as he demonstrated the very face of bemusement.

“Ihkay, Mr. Smith. Please have care with our language.”

“I will be as careful as possible with your language, even as you insult everyone I ever knew and loved.”

“You’re era was know for it’s promiscuity.”

“You’re era was know for dying due to being evolutionarily retarded. Why am I back in this god forsaken place?”

This place was a gigantic freezer full of humans that could be; creatures of potential energy. They were stacked ten tall in bags, heaviest at the bottom. Sometimes they were rearranged to prevent entropy. The entropy had it’s own pile with at least a hundred bags in the corner clumped together and broken, awaiting a scavenging mission. When Aiden looked behind him, it made him come close to wretch. A beautiful red headed woman with green eyes was mostly there save for the crushed torso.

“You were a warrior were you not?”

“I was soldier, yes.”

“Is there a difference?”

“A soldier swears to die for his country and to march in straight lines when told to.”

Aiden Smith was desperately trying to remember if The Devil’s Dictionary had an entry for soldier. He probably had just committed plagiarism.

“But he does war?”

“Some more than others, but yes that’s roughly the point.”

“And like does know like.”

“Are you suggesting I’m here to pick out scrappers?”

“No we’ve got salvage experts. I need warriors.”

“Warriors don’t have a look, Mr. Sears. They’re farmers, little boys, grandmothers, and at least one was a polish bear. The only trait they share is experience in a painful pastime.”

The reference flew over Roebuck’s nappy head, as well it should being 4 millenia old.

“So you can’t help me?”

“I can tell an Army haircut a mile away, well a US Army haircut, unless he’s delta force or… Tell you what why don’t you tell me who looks tough to you.”

“And you’ll tell me whether or not you agree.”

“See, we’re sympatico.”

“I’ll assume that’s not a form of disease.”

“As far as you know.”

They happened upon a 300 pound two meter long man with a big beard and muscles all over save for a gigantic gut.

“This man looks like a… scrapper.” Roebuck tried to imitate the sound.

“He’s a Hell’s Angel according to his tattoo.”

“Sounds like our kind of man.”

“Do you have any meth?”

“What?”

“How about a motorcycle?”

“I’m at a loss.”

“Then I wouldn’t recommend him.”

“And who would you recommend?”

“No one until I know exactly what I’m making recommendations for.”

“If you must know,”

“I must.”

“A planetary guard.”

“Which you need because?”

“To defend Humanity.”

“From the aliens that mostly think us swell?”

“Most everyone did not attack your World Trade Center .”

“Funny how history is abridged. I bet they told you nothing of Vanilla Coke.”

“You concede that I’m right, do you not?”

“Despite yourself, yes but you’ve probably thawed a few already.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, in case you haven’t noticed there has been a lot of war.”

“And how do we find these warriors?”

“We ask.”

“I have a confession, I’m not a people person.”

“Ugh. Does being a liaison pay more than washing dishes?”

“Pay? I’m sorry I don’t have the translator on me.”

“Are the hours better?”

“The hours are yours to make as you will.”

“Then, I’ll find your army general.”

As the two men shook hands, there was a sense of doom about them but as they were surrounded by corpses this seemed to be a problem of ambiance.

In The Sixth Millenium, Bug Women Are Easy

In the hundred little fragments of her vision, Aiden saw himself a hundred times and imagined them all as him in alternate realities seconds different from his own reality. Val smiled across the table while inhaling tarry smoke. She tried not to ask what’s a woodpecker and why’s it on your ass. He tried not to ask how sex works with a bug woman. The restaurant served Neuvo Baha Canadian, neither Aiden nor Val wanted to what that was.

Um, so what is it like being a member of a dying species?”

“Surprising. Full of new information.”

“You didn’t know?”

Aiden’s life was full of things he didn’t know and that didn’t exactly bug, ahem, irritate him. What irritated him was a sudden expiration made apparent.

“No.”

“Oh right, Ihkay told me you were a freezer bag. From the twenty first century right?”

The nuances of this language were somewhat disappointing.

“Yeah, so you can understand I’m a bit troubled by the idea that my species is endangered. Last, I checked I was one of seven billion humans.”

“About 100,00 now. There was a plague, which dwindled your numbers down from 10 million.”

“Wow, that’s a difference.”

“Yeah, um Ihkay said it was due to…” Val’s antenna stretched towards the candelabra. “a rise in good healthcare, longevity and uh, safe sex.”

“So it turns out we were copulating because we were scared.”

“It’s why Mom keeps going at it. There’s been ten generations in the five years I’ve been gone, does it everytime someone leaves the hive. The idea of birthdays makes my wallet shutter and wince.”

“Oh that’s right, you don’t actually…”

Little lines of curving black drew his eyes to her four wing, which were exposed thanks to the low cut black dress. By Aiden’s estimation the wings were evolutionary holdovers as they could not possibly hold up her incredible bosom. Apparently, her family was as closely related to mammal as they were to insect. However, her legs seemed to have been stolen straight off Jessica Rabbit’s hips.

“For Gods sake, just ask.”

“How does bug sex work?”

“Well, the waiter hasn’t come back yet and I’m pretty sure the food would poison me anyways.”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying why don’t we find out how it works.”

“How long has it been?”

“Six years. You?”

“Four thousand in deep freeze, five years before that.”

There was a pause and then there was a furious race for the door. Aiden suddenly realized they were going to her apartment two blocks away, for which he had no key. He still ran. She made leaping, and for moments at least, flying gallops ahead of him. Interspecies relations were soon to follow.

In The Sixth Millenium, Carnivores Are At Least Polite

Aidan, a man of four thousand years but few gray hairs was having some trouble adjusting. The new language, customs and culture all seemed wrong. Mostly, it was the purple mash potatoes in the cafeteria. There was a part of him that knew purple potatoes to be perfectly acceptable in nature. The other part of him knew that regardless of what nature has to say, purple potatoes are just wrong. Aidan ate his meatloaf, all the while eying the aberrant mash potatoes.

“May I eat you?”

That’s another thing, in the four thousand years Aidan was absent for, propositions had just become plain weird. Aidan looked up at the thick green man towering above him. The man was enthusiastic and judging by the drool falling from his yellow fang, he was sincere in his carnivorous intentions. The cafeteria was empty and most likely no one could come to Aidan’s rescue.

“No, I’m afraid I’m not on the menu.”

The green man looked shocked.

“But you seem so sad?”

“Just a little lonely I guess, but not so much as to want to be devoured.”

“ ‘Sokay, had a big lunch. Tell you the truth I don’t really need the calories.”

The verdant colored giant sat down at the table, gingerly feeling his way to the chair as to not break it. Aidan continued eating, mentally adding a large catalog of things he found odd and terrifying. If he were to run from this congenial person, he would have to run from the laser eyed squids and those of the third sex too. He had neither the energy nor inclination.

“So if your feeling lonely, why are you alone in a hospital cafeteria at three in the morning?”

“Just finished my first shift, I’m a dish washer. All my friends, they work days.”

“Ah, I work nights too. Security guard.”

“And you spend your time asking people if they’d like to be eaten? Is that legal?”

“It’s illegal not too. I only eat with consent or in self defense.”

“Ah. Still getting use to the new laws.”

“Oh, your Aidan, from the 21st century right? You got a woodpecker on your bum.”

“That I do, although I have to speak with Icky about being more discrete about my medical concerns.”

“Ihkay is a good kid, cut her some slack. She gives me a muffin every morning. Gluten is like plague to my folks, but it’s thought that count.”

“Or lack thereof.”

“Well can’t very well deny that she’s seems sometimes a little dipshitty.”

“I think the word you want is ditsy.”

“Damn man, she’s a nice girl. I won’t have you dragging her through the mud.”

“Sorry, I think those words have switched in severity.”

“I’d hope so.”

“Anyways do you want want my mash potatoes? I know they’re not meat but as the good book should say, not by meat alone.”

“Nah, that stuff is Peruvians and they taste weird.”

“But does their food?”

“Dunno, whenever I think of eating it I remember how weird Peruvian taste.”

The name on his jacket read Emmet. Emmet was now Aidan’s friend if only for the fact that Emmet had given Aidan an excuse to throw away those weird potatoes.

In The Sixth Millenium, There Are Ten Million Human Objects



Two weeks after St. Mulligan’s Day and three days past St. Mulligan’s Day Observed, Aiden Smith was still having trouble dealing with the year 6007. The woman standing next to him was his caretaker, assigned to him by the University. They usually sat in the cafeteria drinking brown moo juice at this time of day.

Today was different, today was a learning experience. Aiden was learning about dreams deferred. Dreams were sitting all around him in neat rows of clear plastic bags, stacked ten high. He couldn’t even count how many there were but he knew there to be at least a thousand human bodies in this freezer alone.

“What is this Icky?”

“Ihkay, This is where we keep people we haven’t found a use for.”

Aiden looked at the pretty little bald woman in her black knee length coat. He tried to word a response that properly conveyed his disgust and anger. Finding none, he found a question.

“Why am I here?”

“We let people go through the stacks and pick out three people they know or would find useful.”

The u word was particularly troubling in it’s ambiguous nature.

“You keep on talking about usefulness, what do you mean?”

“To be full of use.”

“I know what the word means, it’s just I don’t understand what you mean.”

“Some of these people have skills, skills we need.”

“What was my special skill?”

“You were…”

“Able to dance?”

“Attractive.”

“How is that a skill?”

“It’s not, look we try to find people that are skilled but we’re given so little information that it’s basically a shitshoot.”

The failed vernacular barely even registered with Aiden. He was still staring at the piles of humanity in front of him.

“How can you be so callous towards human beings?”

“They were human beings, they might be human beings again but at the moment they’re just meat, meat filled with indigestible alcohol. We can’t afford to bring all ten million of them back to life right now.”

“So how do I do this?”

Ihky pulled out something that looked like a barcode reader.

“Point at a bag and it’ll show you all the information we’ve been able to ascertain on that little screen. Mostly, it’s just shallow observations and stuff we’ve been able to glean from barcodes and microchips but sometimes we actually have records on them.”

“Then what?”

“If you decide you want that one, you click the save button. If you have more than three when you leave the freezer, the scanner will decide which three are the most useful.”

“Anything else?”

“Don’t pick anyone with AB- blood, we don’t have any.”

Slowly Aiden worked his way through the freezer, trying to find three people to save.

In The Sixth Millenium, There Is Chocolate

Aidan Smith was cold but get warmer. The woman he was looking at was covered from lips to toes in white sterile cotton. While the garb wasn’t particularly taut, it betrayed a trim body with pleasing proportions. Her blond bangs met her eye brows in an impossibly straight and level line. While he ogled the first women he had scene in four thousand years, she scribbled on a clipboard. Surprisingly, clipboards still exist in the year 6000.

The calendar in the corner of the room put the day to be January 45, 6007; four days from St. Mulligan’s Day. Aidan was slightly suspicious of the fact that they had English anything but it’s not like they didn’t have time to prepare for him. There was a ding and a green light; the door opened. The woman unzipped her neck and revealed a toothy, pleasant but rehearsed smile.

“Thank you sir, for the compliment.” She spoke slowly and choked back disgust with diplomacy.

Aidan looked down and realized that with his new blood he had his first erection, and his first blush.

“Oh, sorry.”

“It’s quite normal but would you mind obscuring your member somehow. It’s distracting.”

He cupped his hands at a slight distance as to not exacerbate things.

“Alright I’m going to describe your person as I see it. This is to find and diagnose any discrepancies between you before and after the process.”

“What would a discrepancy indicate?”

“Depends, we try not to put any possibilities in your head prematurely. You have green hair correct?”

“No, red.” He then remembered alcohol . “Wait, yes I had green hair when I was frozen.”

“Oh, good, we take space hemophilia very seriously here. Blue eyes, correct?”

“Yes.”

“Do you weigh 190 pounds?”

“Sounds about right.”

“You are 5 and 10?”

He had to decipher the statement first. “Yes.”

“You have a tattoo of a woodpecker(?) on your right butt cheek?”

He remembered alcohol. “Yes.”

“Alright, we’re done for now, in fifteen minutes we’ll begin your ‘debriefing’.” She made air quotes, unsure as an alien might wave a hang ten sign. “There is a robe that should fit you on the other side of the door. Step cautiously, you haven’t walked in sometime. The floor is cushioned for your protection.”

She left promptly for what Aidan assumed to be akin to a smoke break with the rapid departure. As he made his first step in the year 6007, he fell flat on his face. The cushioning was comfortable and he did not seem to have broken anything. He regretted not sleeping before the freeze.

After a slight bit of maneuvering, he began to prop himself on the now sealed glass door’s handle. He was able to grab the robe off the hook before collapsing on the floor again. After a few minutes trying to get the thing around him proper, he gave up. He simply resigned to enjoy the cushioning with his ass in the air and the robe draped around him. An unseen door opened and he heard a muffled giggle.

She promptly brought over a wooden chair with a ladder back which she held steady. He looked up at it annoyed and slightly hungover.

“Don’t you have a special gizmo for this?”

“The chair usually works.”

He couldn’t argue with her. Slowly he climbed the furniture and stood hunched over it. Through many awkward assisted maneuvers, he finally put on the robe and sat down on the chair. Then he tied his belt.

“You have another tattoo that anthropologists say indicates your status as a warrior. Were you frozen as punishment?”

“US Army Infantry, but no I wasn’t, I wasn’t even aware that happened. It was my choice, I was faced with something called stop loss. My superiors wanted me to go back to a war after I had done my tour.”

“So you’re a coward?”

“Not as I would I put it, but you’re pretty and you gave me a bathrobe, so I won’t hold it against you.”

“Sorry English isn’t my first language.”

“What is?”

“Esquiva. Don’t worry we have very good teachers.” She looked down at the clipboard. “Do you have any skills?”

“I’m good in close quarters combat, I took two years of dance and I can cook.”

Slowly, she framed to decipher the first clause, failing that she continued on.

“Well, we are short of cooks and dancers. Um, we’re done with this so do you mind if I take down my hair?”

He shrugged, slightly confused. She proceeded to remove her hair and put on a close by table.

“Hygiene regulations don’t allow us hair if we work with sleepers but people tend to be frightened if the first thing they see is a bald head.”

He soaked in the shininess of her head.

“Can we go get a beer?”

“I’m afraid alcohol out of fashion.”

“Just as well, what about Cocoa?”

“Is that the sweet brown bean that you crush in milk?”

“Yeah.” Culinary discussions would come later.

“I love that stuff. It’s called brown moo juice now, but your word is better. Co co right?”

“Yeah.”

“Cool. You’re uninfected so I’ll just fuck the red tape and get you a wheelchair.”

“You mean fudge right?”

“Sure.” She placated his gibberish and promptly left with an excuse to drink brown moo juice on the job.

There is cocoa and therefore hope.