by James Potter
Sarah languidly woke up to what she thought was the smell of chocolate. Bill rolled over in bed and looked at her. “Could we have hot chocolate for breakfast?” he asked. She took a moment to scrutinize the situation. No one was making hot chocolate. Why did they wake up wanting chocolate?
“They’re doing it again!” said Sarah.
“What?” said Bill.
“They’ve changed the ether,” exclaimed Sarah.
She had felt it coming for days in little blips of awareness like patches in a fading digital image. Sarah jumped out of bed. “I’m going to check the screen,” she said.
On the wall of their great room was the TV-Computer screen that went from floor to ceiling and wall to wall. Sarah grabbed the remote and flipped it on to see a whole screen sized image of molten chocolate being poured into a mold. “I knew it,” she said out loud.
“Mommy, Mommy, we want hot chocolate!” shouted Hillary and Robby as they bounded down the hall from their bedrooms toward the great room. Bill came trolling down the hall in his slippers. Their eyes met. His conveyed a look of you were right.
Sarah went into the kitchen and searched the pantry for chocolate. “Don’t give in to it,” Bill admonished.
“Why should I make them suffer for the government’s manipulation?” she retorted.
“They need to learn to resist.” Bill said firmly.
“They are children!” Sarah answered just as firmly. “It will dissipate as soon as the ad is paid for anyway. It’s what’s coming next that worries me.”
It was early March, and spring was in the air. The wind chime on their back porch tinkled and mingled with the chirping of songbirds. The children chatted happily over breakfast while Bill and Sarah sat quietly trying to literally feel what was blowing in the wind anticipating a lifestyle change, while worrying how they would cope with whatever skills they had.
They knew that in the giant obelisk that sat on the 33rd parallel, a group of adepts were concentrating in unison to change the thought patterns of everyone in the nation. Their thoughts were enhanced electronically to radiate out through the ether. Since it was discovered in 3012 that the ether was a tangible and definable reality, and not just a theory called the “collective unconscious,” they had started studying how to manipulate it. That’s when the giant obelisks were built around the world. The first adepts were Tibetan monks. Skilled in meditation, and with a culture where the populace had local gurus who meditated on a hill at the edge of the village for the good of the people, it had seemed a natural transition. It was hailed by all as the beginning of a modern age of peace and enlightenment. There would be no more wars, and ancient Tibetan clothes styles became all the rage.
After the giant scandal of 3062, it became apparent that even adepts can become corrupt and manipulate the ether for personal gain. Stop gaps were put in place, but no one really ever trusted it after that.
“Are you feeling anything?” Bill asked Sarah.
“Nothing I can put my finger on. What about you? You’re better at this than I am.”
“No nothing, but I feel like going for a walk in the woods.”
“And I feel hungry for fresh vegetables.”
They stared at each other. “A back to nature theme?” said Sarah.
“Or a survivalist theme,” answered Bill. “But why? Not a war surely. There hasn’t been a war in over fifty years.”
Sarah stared blankly.
“Well, it won’t hurt to put a garden in,” said Bill. “I think I’ll just go get that new tiller out of the garage.”
Bill and Sarah did put a garden in. They pushed hard little seeds into the warm loose soil. The children woke up every morning and ran outside to see if things were sprouting, and how big the plants were getting. That summer they canned. They had so much fun that the next summer Bill built a chicken house and they raised chickens. Robby and Hillary gave them all names, and eagerly gathered eggs. They didn’t even mind shoveling the chicken manure into a compost for the garden. That winter the children played in the spare room amongst the pumpkins and other winter squashes. Dried corn, garlic, and other herbs hung in bunches from the kitchen ceiling.
By the time the aliens had landed, and began their attempted genocide of the human population of the earth, the day of the chocolate ad was a faded and fragmented memory.
James Potter’s hobby is reading fringe physics, and studying scientific dead ends and debunked theories. Every year he grows a big garden, but he does not have any chickens.