Author: David C. Nutt
Nystrom 6 is a heavily altered planet- by what or whom was why we were there. On its surface is a 100-meter-wide glass smooth band of an unknown substance. It circumnavigates the globe at the equator and pole to pole. We had dozens of scientific survey teams studying it…until the first accident. I was there the day it happened.
There was no warning. No rush of wind, color shift, vibration, or sound. Just Stacy, Bree, and Mack trying to sample what we were calling ‘the track’ and then they exploded. The only thing we found that didn’t look like shredded meat was Bree’s arm which landed off to one side of the track. There were not enough other remains to autopsy. The pathologist ruled summarily death by high energy blunt force trauma. All told we lost twelve survey crews before we figured out to stay off the track.
The first family that received “compensation” were the next-of-kin to the original three that were killed. Each member received from the aliens by methods unknown, bricks of superconductor material worth billions. Our government squashed news about that as long as they could. The next person who received compensation was, well, me. It was given for the trauma caused when I witnessed my co-workers reduced to sheds of flesh. I received a scroll with a diagram. By handling the scroll, basic instructions were downloaded into my brain. I gathered the materials, placed them on the scroll where indicated and watched with fascination as the elements assembled themselves into a machine. Shortly after that, all the next of kin and witnesses to track deaths received either bricks of semiconductor material or some kind of precious metal or crystal. The wealth received by the remaining next of kin actually destabilized our economy for a bit, but soon enough things got back to mostly normal. Oddly, I was the only one who was gifted with a machine.
Of course, word of the compensation eventually came to public attention, and between desperate individuals, organized crime, scam artists, the odd bribed government official, and “suicide event planners”, the planet has been finally declared off limits to all but researchers (like me.) Our military has an armada in orbit around the planet, all to stop what is being called “suicide gold diggers.” Hypocritically, the government is quietly contacting terminally ill individuals to work out a 50-50 deal. Half to their family, and half to the government. All for filthy lucre.
My compensation, my machine? I’ve kept it quiet. When picked up, it tells the story of the people who built the track. Beings so far advanced we are on the level of cats and dogs compared to them. The track is nothing more than a switching station on the most mundane transportation route they have to go from one galaxy to another. The machine also tells me our species, in due time, will evolve into higher beings ourselves. It is quite uplifting. But the real value of my compensation is it has given me a blueprint to be the first to ascend and start our species’ evolution. Part of that gift is a deep wisdom that has expanded my consciousness.
Now I am standing on the track holding the machine given to me as compensation hoping that my end will come soon. I’ve managed to contact these beings and let them know to stop all “compensations” including any to be given after my death. If I’ve learned anything from all this it’s abundantly clear, to the core of my being, we are not yet worthy.
Oh, that’s tasty. Well done.