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Gift of the Gruldak, Chapter 5: There's No Place Like Home

Kylyssa Shay is releasing a serialized science fiction novel in single chapter increments that you can read for free only on HubPages.

A rain of soap-bubble fetuses and lime meteors

A rain of soap-bubble fetuses and lime meteors

Table of Contents - Start at the Beginning for Maximum Enjoyment

Chapter Five, There's No Place Like Home

Later that day, Guido urged me to go through the “outside” hallway and check out his new addition. A new door opened into a reverse duplicate of my apartment, including all of the assorted apparently permanent messiness.

“Is this for my surprise to live in?” I asked, wondering once again who Guido was making to live with us.

“Yes, Kevin, how do you like it?”

Looking around at the duplicated simulated semi-squalor of my own unintentional design, I decided to go for it.

“I like it how you’ve made it but can you change it?”

“I can change any of my interior if I have a little time,” Guido replied, sounding a tiny bit hurt.

Wow, how I wished I’d known that a long time ago! It’s pretty depressing to be faced with one’s own untidiness day in and day out without relief. And soon there would be a guest! So I discussed the necessary changes with Guido and both apartments looked clean and tidy enough to pass the fussiest inspection by the following afternoon. He’d also added a second bedroom in my original apartment, budded off of the first but possessing an approximation of a real bed and not the analysis and construction pod hidden in a bed-like thing in its double.

When I really thought about it, Guido was an Olympic-league artist if there is such a thing. His perfect attention to detail was not assisted with any tools; he visualized everything down to the scratches in the blond wood of the coat rack and the care label on the winter scarf hung over one of its branches. During the clean up process I realized he had to create a perfect visualization with no hazy details to make it so.

In its own way, it reminded me of the summer I turned fourteen and Grandpa told me I could decorate my bedroom any way I wanted to. When Grandpa said something like that, unlike most adults, he meant it. My only constraints were money and safety. Sure, he might have said something about a broken glass floor studded with freshly harvested rattlesnake fangs. Otherwise, pretty much anything I could afford was a go.

That summer we collected lots of cans from alongside the road, mostly for the deposit but we saved aside four beer cans, one of them a bit dented. When we walked down to pick up a take-out prawn pizza one Saturday Grandpa bought an empty pizza box. You see, he had a good idea what my plan was.

Those four rescued beer cans were gently boiled in a pot of water until Grandpa declared them clean enough. But they only went up after I painted the table to look like cheap yellow linoleum and the four medium blue plastic and metal chairs to look as if they’d come from an institution. The other chair was painted to look like a folding wooden director’s chair in deep red.

I glued burlap on that chair’s back to try to make it look like real cloth but that was a mess and it looked awful. I got it cleaned off with little but a bit of lost paint and some gained glue. Grandpa saw me throwing the burlap into the compost bin nearest the house and he yelled for me to stop.

He mumbled something I really couldn’t hear then, after an uncomfortably long pause, he said, “Why don’t you save some of that to texture your painting. See, it’s already sealed by that glue? If you just rub a very fine layer of paint on it, you can use it like a stamp.”

He later admitted he’d forgotten the burlap and glue were both biodegradable and that’s why he’d objected.

My ceiling was painted to look like a briefly abandoned game of cards as seen from above. The floor “under” the table was painted to look like bamboo flooring. Four real beer cans and one Pepsi can each sat in front of one of the chairs on the painting of the table. I’d varnished pretzels and glued them into an actual pressed hemp serving dish and they joined the pizza box, with its pizza made of colored paper inside it in the center of the table. Off to the side, a purple, twenty-sided die was glued next to two tiny resin cast miniature wizards in front of the director’s chair.

When it was completed all my friends thought my ceiling was pretty neat and I even caught Grandpa showing it off to a lady friend one time. They all thought Grandpa was pretty neat, too, and so did I.

Guido’s rendition of the new configuration of my apartment and the guest apartment was a hundred times more amazing on many levels. He even added his own artistic touches here and there.

Brightly colored illustration for Gift of the Gruldak, a science fiction ebook that's free to read online

Brightly colored illustration for Gift of the Gruldak, a science fiction ebook that's free to read online

My apartment and its twin got just a little bit bigger each day. It was getting downright roomy when I noticed a new door in the “outside” area Guido had made me that stretched between the two simulated apartments.

I said aloud, “Guido, things seem to be going pretty fast around here. What’s going on?”

“I’m so happy, Kevin! A new message pod just came in. The Gruldak have evaluated your contributions and they have decided to speed up the backup plan.”

“I’m glad, Guido, but what’s the backup plan?”

“I’m expanding to create a bigger and bigger habitat while more robots have arrived and grown to get to work on terraforming Kevin’s Place. The Gruldak are bringing the human race right here. They can help figure out how to get the new message across.”

“New message?”

“That’s the good news, Kevin; you gave them what they needed.”

“I...? I gave them what, exactly?” I asked.

“You were right, they can just make wee machines to make tiny robots, etcetera, etcetera, and so on and fix the problem with your solar system themselves. We just need to get the message across to not interfere with and to assist the robots we send. They can send a message about the matter duplicators, too, and probably a lot sooner.”

I noticed my mouth was actually open when it began to feel very dry. Lowering myself slowly to the synthetic lawn, I tried to stop feeling like I was spinning. All of this cloning or replicating or resurrecting or whatever the hell you want to call it and they could have just skipped straight to the robots? They made me; they made Guido and someone else was growing in the back bedroom. We were stuck here forever, all for nothing.

“So they never even needed either of us, Guido.”

“You forget, my friend, you came up with the idea,” he said in a satisfied tone.

“But it’s so obvious!” I whined.

“Aren’t all of the most elegant answers the simplest?”

“You sound like my grandfather,” I said, smiling weakly and meaning every word of it.

“I’m more flattered than you know, Kevin.”

Guido continued, “The Gruldak evolved in a society wherein communication was direct and mind to mind so they became fixated on imparting the message to a human as directly as possible and having him somehow physically and directly impart the message to his species. They lost track of what the actual problem was, saving earth from a deadly fault in its solar system. They put all of their efforts into communicating with humanity mind-to-mind instead.”

“Then what do we need more people for? I mean, I’d love some more company...”

“The problem is complex and unstable and will not be easily solved, even by their incredible devices. In case there’s not enough time to do it, the Gruldak wish to preserve humanity here. There’s also the problem of the matter transmitters.”

“How will more people here help with that?”

“Humans aren’t easy to communicate with, Kevin. Just getting them to believe might be a huge problem. Besides, you need more humans. It’s not healthy for you to live without your own kind.”

“This is all happening so fast, Guido. We’ll be overrun with confused people.”

“We’re going to go quite slowly with that, Kevin, I promise.”

“That’s good,” I replied with a sigh, “It would be great to increase your vocabulary of foodstuffs before anyone else moves in.”

I slipped into a bit of a reverie as I watched blobby clouds scudding across the faux sky overhead.

“You really need to check out the new door,” said Guido a few minutes later, his voice almost warbling with excitement from the voicebox next to it.

Getting to my feet, I opened the door and felt a slight suction and a draft of cooler air.

A sparkling dome stretched out high above, glowing with a sky-blue illumination. Actual grass, about an inch and a half tall, grew thickly along the sides of the incredibly realistic stone path I was standing on, forming a large circular lawn set with benches made of actual stone. At least a hundred saplings grew from as many stone bench rings set around the huge circular patch. In the distance, row upon row of plants grew in fields that continued up high, curving walls in apparent defiance of gravity. As I watched, huge gleaming purple robots built along the lines of anorexic jumping spiders with extra legs danced over the crops like alien ballerinas tending the lush plant life.

“Guido,” I said, chewing my tongue a little for moisture, “Guido, is this all inside you?”

“Of course not, look back at me.”

I looked back the way I’d come out and saw an irregularly shaped blob made of a slightly matte shiny dark silver surface about twice the size the interior suggested.

“I thought you said they just decided to progress with the backup plan, so where did all of this come from?” I asked, waving my arm at the dome-enclosed landscape.

“They’ve been working on it for years before I was made. You don’t think they planned to make you live inside me for the rest of your life, did you?”

“Guido, I never claim to know any of the Gruldak’s plans.”

“Quite true, you’d have to learn what they have to say to do that.”

“So who is sleeping beauty?” I asked.

“See for yourself.”

“What in the Hell?!?” yelled a familiar voice from deep inside my friend Guido, “Who put acid in my Wheaties?”

“I think this one turned out perfect, too,” I said to Guido as I turned around and went back inside him to explain it all to my grandfather.


Continue Reading with Chapter Six, Relationships

  • Gift of the Gruldak, Serial Installment #6
    Join Kevin as he greets his grandpa's doppelganger and gets his world turned upside down once again in chapter 6 of Gift of the Gruldak, a serialized science fiction novel you can read online.

Was It Pointless To Replicate Kevin?

© 2014 Kylyssa Shay

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