The Dusky Lot
By Bill Fountain
Posted October 9, 2020, 2:59 pm
In a highly technologically advanced, anarchist civilization lived an old man named Larry and his grandson, Jack, in a small brick home atop the mountain village. Larry kept several weapons in the house, but one day a group of men rampaged through the house like the SWAT team and kidnapped his grandson, leaving the old man in a stagnate shock.
He recognized them right away as the devious group who called themselves The Dusky Lot and immediately surrendered before even attempting to fire upon them. Even when they departed in their jet-like vehicles, shooting at them seemed to be pointless. They weren't human, but instead were humans controlling avatar-like robots. The humans behind the scenes were in another area but were experiencing every sensory detail as if they themselves were present at the scene.
The Dusky Lot headquarters were settled in manor atop an even higher mountain, and it was apparent to the entire village that they were seeking domination. They acted as the New World police, surveying the lands and stopping violence and any revolutionary protests. They were notorious for their murderous invasions, stopping at nothing to take dominance over any land. There were hundreds of them, maybe even thousands. Could there be millions?
Their base was protected with heat-seeking Gatling guns that would disintegrate anything with a barrage of knife-sized bullets, essentially acting as a steel laser. The town had meetings about retaliation, but they didn't know whether or not they were outnumbered, and it was obvious they lacked the courage. The townspeople weren't as brave as them, so their ultimate decision was to be on mindful guard, and stock up on heavily on weaponry.
Larry set up a cyber notice of his grandson's kidnapping and an invitation for the entire town to meet up at a secure location using their own avatars. He didn't care what it took now; he was going to do anything in his power to save his grandson. Only 82 years young, an aching back and an old chest wound were not going to prevail in Larry's path.
He stepped into his own avatar machine and flew his Iron Man-like vehicle to the meeting location. He was distraught to see only the avatar of one of his good friends present. Over 300 hundred people acknowledged his SOS, and only one showed up.
“Larry, they don’t believe you. They think you’re lying about Jack,” the man said as Larry walked over to him.
“Are you kidding me?” Larry belted out. “My grandson is with The Dusky Lot! He’s gone! I saw them take him.”
“I believe you, Larry! Trust me; I do. They think you’re just hiding him to spark a revolution. Everybody is talking about how this is probably like your chest wound story, which I do believe! But I guess the rest of the townspeople don’t.”
“This is ridiculous,” Larry shouted, opening his buttoned shirt to display his graphically vulgar scar on the left side of his chest. “I’ve been telling the same story since I was twelve when it happened. I don’t know why I didn’t die!
All I know is I was camping in the woods, I stepped out to pee when a bearded man in his twenties carrying a large, black rifle emerged behind a tree. He was probably about ten feet away from me. Before I even knew what happened, I heard the loud bangs as he began open firing at me. Two bullets struck my heart, but they only penetrated my skin and the wound healed itself. It sounded like a real rifle but it didn’t even hurt! He ran away and I never saw him again. That’s all I know! Please tell me, Gilbert- what on Earth do I possibly have to gain from lying about this?”
“Listen, Larry. I’ve seen scars like that before. Where I’m from, there are many men who have scars just like them. I didn’t want to tell you, but the scars eventually open back up again. They always end up breaking open, leading the person to die a painful, gruesome death. I’ve tried explaining this to people, but they don’t believe me either. They think we’ve lost it.”
"Okay well, I can't force them to believe me. Are you going to help me out? My grandson is in peril," Larry said with a more calming tone. Gilbert put a hand over his shoulder.
“We need to migrate. I always have your back, and I’ve been strategizing ways to take down The Dusky Lot ever since their first murders. This village is not safe, and we must find a new civilization. If we head west, we can get to my airbase that I know The Dusky Lot has not invaded.”
The two men packed their essentials into a large black car and jetted off into the horizon. During the ride, Gilbert discussed his plans for infiltrating The Dusky Lot and rescuing Jack. They traveled for sixteen hours before they touched base at Gilbert's mall-sized airbase.
Four years pass and Jack is still missing, however, the two men are hopeful in their conquest. They haven't given up hope because they understand that in order for their plan to execute flawlessly, they needed to run thousands of experiments so they could fully understand how The Dusky Lot weaponry functions, specifically their base defense weaponry. The manufactured various sorts of avatars to blitz the headquarters, and study each and every one of their defenses.
Larry began journaling quite some time ago and was now writing about how it appears as if all signs are pointing to the fact that he needs to accept this loss. People were convincing him that his grandson was safe and that at most he was just recruited to their society. Larry refused to accept this and continued to study new tactics for getting into their base. He wrote in his journal about how he felt like God himself was telling him he needs to give up and move on. He writes that it is taking every bit of strength in his will to go against what feels natural. Larry does not care if his grandson is safe; he wants him home.
They were training an army. So far they had recruited over 3,000 men and women, all dedicated to taking down The Dusky Lot. Gilbert had a plan he has been working on for the past decade, and it appears it is finally ready to be activated.
The entire base of The Dusky Lot is filled with Avatars and a very small amount of actual humans. The building is the size of a football stadium and is protected by computerized guns. Gilbert created a virus that will trick the guns and all the avatars into thinking they are seeing and experiencing whatever happened ten minutes ago, instead of what is happening right now. Once the defenses are down, their army will rush the headquarters, destroying their defense weaponry, and murdering any members on site, with the obvious exception of Larry's grandson.
The entire army does not know about Larry's chest wound, and fully accept that The Dusky Lot do in fact have twenty-three-year-old Jack at their headquarters. It is today that they all banded together, preparing to charge through at The Dusky Lot base.
They stopped at a designated location one hundred feet from the base. Gilbert pressed a button on a hologram monitor, and after a moment, he gave Larry a nod.
Larry, the leader of this army, gave the word.
The army charged at the base, and Gilbert’s virus proved successful as none of the base-defense weaponry responded to the army’s arrival. They shot through the front doors and entered the lobby as bullets teemed the atmosphere. A group of SWAT members arrived at the scene but were quickly disintegrated by the army’s firepower.
Larry charged through room after room, murdering unsuspecting avatars after another. He finally kicked open a thick door, and four men in lab coats, and another familiar-looking, scruffy man who was dressed normally inside what looked like an avatar box. They all put their hands in the air as one of them in lab coats slid over a large, black rifle, clearly surrendering.
“Grandpa!!” the familiar looking man said. Larry pointed his rifle at him, not believing it was actually Jack. He wasn’t familiar because they were related. He was familiar because of something else.
The rifle… the man. This was the man that shot him so many years ago.
"Grandpa, it's me!!" the man said and came running at him to hug him. Larry let his arms relax as he accepted the hug. It was definitely Jack's voice and eyes.
“What is going on in here?” Larry asked.
"They're using me to do their bidding!" Jack exclaimed, "They are building a time machine but every time they send me through it, nothing happens. They want me to murder some little boy from the past because he grows up to blow up the planet."
One of the men in lab coats spoke up. "We are working to find out what happens when someone is sent back in time and murders his grandfather before he has children. We've had successful time-travel sessions, but we want to find out everything we can about the Grandfather paradox."
Larry looked around the room, taking in every detail of the laboratory. He removed his armor and ripped his shirt open to see that his chest wound had completely vanished. For the first time since he was twelve years old, he saw his chest fully intact.
“But… how…” Larry was speechless. “Time travel…? But If I never got shot, then why do I have a memory of being shot?”
“Grandpa, what is wrong with you?” Jack asked. Larry never showed his grandson the scar, fearing he would attribute the story as elderly nonsense.
“I think I know what’s going on,” Gilbert piped up. “Larry, the only reason I truly believed you ever since you told me the scar story because I’m also a time traveler. I committed a crime about 5,000 years in the future and my punishment was to be sent back here: to a period where time-travel hasn’t been invented yet. When I saw your scar, I knew what it was. Jeez, The Dusky Lot must be the first in history to invent time-travel technology. In the future, lots of people have tried the old Grandfather paradox to see what really happens,” Gilbert said as he let out a chuckle. “That’s funny; the whole time you were trying to save your grandson, you were actually saving yourself.”