The Book Mark - Cover

The Book Mark

Copyright© 2013 by JOHNNY SACHU

Chapter 1

My ex-wife’s father had once had a printing business which she had kept bits and pieces of, through the years, as remembrances. After our parting, in 1946, she left small remnants of his stuff behind and one item was a small box of unprinted business cards.

There was nothing fancy about them. The cards surface felt rough to the touch and seemed somewhat faded from a pure white. They were now creamy in color and probably fifty or so years old.

Needing a book marker, one night, as I’m an avid reader, having been on disability for twenty years since a semi rig hit my pickup truck, broadside, one day; I took a card from the box of five-hundred, rather than tearing the corner off of a newspaper page, as was usual for me. It was made of moderately thick card stock which would help me find my place quickly, in the book, but thin enough to slip tightly in between pages and not fall out.

I learned something after that fateful evening. Everything I’d ever wanted, anything I actually needed, or desired to know, or attain, whatever it was I wished to have in my wildest dreams, was in that one thing; My very special book mark.

I discovered this only after reading a few books, though, for it seemed to absorbed whatever was useful in my detective and science-fiction novels that I consumed at a daily rate of two or three. Sometimes four. The only difference I seemed to notice, at first, was the card became less and less aged, the more I used it. It bent like any business card did, but it appeared to get more and more indestructible and lighter in color.

I was fifty-one years old, at the time, overweight, sedentary, bald, and an unrecognizable image of the handsome guy I used to be as a young twenty year old man. But after touching the book marker, one night, the idea of a machine, combined with some concoction of a drink I could mix together -- I somehow knew I could regain my youth, again, and possibly, dare I say it, live forever.

I went to stores. Lots of them. Drug stores, antique stores, junk yards, electrical stores, chemical stores, medical and other places for things I would need. Within a month, I had built my machine and concocted the liquid. The first measured amount of the formula was horrible to the taste and I hoped I hadn’t just poisoned myself. But I took two measured amounts of it each day, forcing it down for six weeks straight.

After six weeks, somehow knowing that was the time period and moment I was suppose to complete the task, from touching the card, I stripped every piece of leather and cloth off of my fat body and stood naked, in front of the machine I’d built. It would activate the serum that had permeated every cell in my body, by then, and it would start the reversal of aging in an amazingly short period of time, ideas, no doubt gained from all those wild and fantastic stories I’d read.

The machine wasn’t that big. Just a stubby little oval item about the size of a small table top fan, with a nozzle on one end that looked like a Buck Rogers ray gun. It spewed forth a particular kind of unnatural ray of carbonaceous light, I’d read about in a science fiction novel. The magic of the card, apparently, was it could take whatever was in the books, I read, and create them, with my help, into a genuine reality.

I don’t know where the technical prowess and know-how to make the machine, or concoct the formula for the serum came from, other than the mad geniuses I read about in all those crazy books of fiction. So I can only guess it flowed from the card, gathering the ideas and presenting them to me, and somehow embedding that knowledge and know-how into my mind and body. It must be some kind of super computer, I think I had read about in Popular Mechanics, but where and by whom it came to be in that little business card, was an enormous mystery. Perhaps it had magical properties about it, instead of science, or some alien kind of actual intelligence to it, I just seemed to know what to do, if and when I had a need, after touching it. It was a symbiotic relationship, I think, for it seemed to have the science or magic to pass on to me, but not the ideas. But that’s only a guess.

So I set the little delay, on the machine, and walked over in front of it, completely naked, and heard a click, and then a short buzz. That was it. Big deal, huh? But it was all that was needed. I didn’t feel a thing and almost questioned if the machine had worked. But something inside me said it had.

Within days my gray hair around my ears was gone and the top of my head had new-hair growth. It was coming in black. My skin felt tighter while wrinkles began to disappear around my eyes and mouth. I was loosing weight and gaining muscle, too, and -- I stunk. I had to bathe four times a day, my metabolism was changing so quickly. My clothes were all loose on me. I needed to buy new ones and didn’t have the money on my disability pension.

Sitting reading, fingering the card, one day, the thought occurred to me and I devised a plan on how to make some money. I put the book, with the book marker in it, inside my outside coat pocket and went downtown to a large bank. I stood in line, waiting for a teller and when it was my turn, I walked up to the portal and pointed my index finger at a small cardboard box on her counter top, just as I had read about in a sci-fi book. And it worked.

“Yes sir, right away,” the female teller said, and went to the vault. I didn’t say a word. She came back a few moments later with four wrapped piles of 100 dollar bills, all neatly placed in the cardboard box.

“Will there be anything else, sir?” she asked, with a pleasant smile. I shook my head, dropping my eyes, and took the envelope from her. “Thank you for coming,” she said.

I couldn’t believe it and heard her say, “Next!” as I left.

Each stack, was five thousand dollars, I discovered back home. That was 20,000 bucks for just pointing my finger at the teller’s empty box. Sheeze!

Within the space of two months, I was a new man. I looked like I did when I was twenty and in college. Muscular, a girl magnet, tall and energetic, even though I had no inclinations towards women, anymore. My ex-wife had taken all of that out of me and even though I was bitter, I was more disillusioned than anything else.

I moved out of that rats nest of my apartment and left the sewer of the big city, moving up to Vermont. I stayed in a rented home, up there, in an old farm house that was still in great shape, near to a small town, but a town that had everything a person could want. For the time being, it would suffice, I having amassed a small fortune of two million dollars and change, from numerous banks. I wanted and needed a bigger place, though, a place I could call my own.

After having finished a book, I was holding the book marker looking for my next piece of sci-fi fiction, from the stacks that were always laying around, and the idea popped into my head; Go to the newspaper, the thought from the card suggested. I was beginning to know when it suggested something or if it were my own thoughts.

I did as it told me to do and checked out some stocks, in the business listings. One in particular stood out and I took seven-hundred and fifty thousand with me to a small brokerage firm in Montpelier, down the road. I threw it all on the table of the old guy behind the desk and told him to buy all of that particular stock the money would buy.

To make a boring stock market speculation into story short, I became wealthier than I’d ever thought possible. And after it, I quietly reinvested and made even more money. It was obscene how much I was suddenly worth.

I looked at properties all over and finally found one the book mark and I agreed on.

‘Amara, of the Light Country, was having one of her dreams and strangely, it was not about the ship. She was a Wedge, from the planet Folmara, forced into service of her current masters under threat of her families death, as well as her own. She could foresee the future and these Telarian bullies had forced so many of her people under duress into service against their will, as she had been, and Amara foresaw their complete domination over her people. It would last indefinitely, the vision revealed.’

Those were the words I had written down in my study. I had no idea what they meant, I just sat down and began to write them one morning after breakfast with a big cup of strong coffee. I wrote some more, enjoying the bit of imaginative writing I was doing, sitting there with the card on the keyboard of my old Presario computer. I had progressed the story to a point of adventure and the heroin was determined.

‘It wasn’t until her fourth season of servitude that she finally got up the courage to flee from her masters. Her family was now hidden on a far distant world and Amara was hoping to join them soon enough. If her plan worked tonight, she would be with them in twenty days.

‘The hour had arrived and she fled only to be discovered by the Telarian patrols. She didn’t have the proper clearance codes and they tried stopping her, but Amara was far and away much faster in her interceptor than their small patrol ships. She was a pilot and skilled in evasion and counter measures of stealth.

‘Leaving that particular solar system and the Telarian conquered worlds, she was away and free. Nothing could prevent her from joining her family now, she thought. And afterwards, destroying the ship and disappearing into obscurity of this large population on this distant world would be easy, but it wasn’t to be.

‘Amara was struck by a meteor half way through her voyage to her family. It was a small bit of space debris but at the speed it was traveling, it locked her into maximum velocity and threw her off course into deep space.

‘After several days of trying, Amara realized she would not be able to rescue herself and resigned herself to the deep stasis program. It would be fifty years before she reached another system, by her calculations, and realized she would never see her family again, nor remember them. That long a stasis brought on a kind of amnesia that one never recovered from, if, she was able to survive the stasis at all, ‘ I wrote, somewhat reluctantly. ‘That long a hibernation is always dangerous.’

I don’t know where the ideas came from but they simply seemed to come as easily as anything I did. It was like deciding what I wanted for breakfast that morning and then, made it happen. And so was this story unfolding before me. Simple little ideas that began to flow out of me and flutter down on to the computer screen as easily as turning on the stove and frying some eggs.

By this time, I was quite sure the book mark was trying to make a writer out of me, even with this first feeble attempt, for whatever reason, but I quickly discovered that wasn’t the case at all. Next came the description of Amara herself and I let myself go with her embellishments.

‘She was beautiful beyond description. Long flowing bronze hair that reached to her waist, which part of was tied in a bun behind her head. As she undressed before the mirror-like reflection off the polished metal of one of her craft’s inner bulkheads, she glance at and then studied, one last time, her body. It had been perfected in cellular form when its genetics were chosen and idealized shortly after the egg had been introduced to the fertilization process. The Folmara had developed this process long ago and with her Wedge heritage, she had been privileged enough in a wealth of benefits from her families investments in their reputation for the pursuit of perfection. She was the envy of women, on her world, and other worlds of the old empire, and would be to the world she was headed for as she would be to the man she would someday meet, though even he did not realize or dream of the beauty that was headed towards him.’

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