Can Science Fiction, Fantasy, Humor, & Religion combined make an interesting story?
|PUFF THE SORT OF MAGIC DRAGON
It was a bright sunny morning, the warm temperature was near perfect and a slight breeze flowed over the gentle rolling hills, bringing smiles to the alert faces of dancing daffodils and eager anticipation to darting honeybees.
Mark and Jenny were taking full advantage of the wonderful spring weather. Having decided that a vigorous bike ride along the newly built trail, coupled with a long stroll among the budding trees, and topped off with a relaxing picnic would make for a perfect day.
An hour or more into their adventurous ride, Mark was bringing up the rear, because Jenny complained that he constantly got too far ahead when he was in the lead. As he watched her shapely form in front of him, he wondered why he had taken the lead in the first place? There was definitely better scenery to look at with her bouncing around ahead of him.
As these erotic thoughts started to stimulate his sexual desires, he watched her suddenly pull up the sloping hillside and quickly jump from her bike. Her face held a look of unbridled terror.
“What is it?” He asked, throwing his bike down and running up the small hill to grasp her in a worried embrace.
“It yelled at me!” she cried, barely able to control her hysterical emotions.
“Who yelled at you?” Mark asked, glancing around for the person or persons responsible for terrifying his wife.
“The riding path,” Jenny blurted out. “The riding path yelled at me!”
“Not someone on the riding path?” Mark had a puzzled expression on his face.
“The riding path!” Jenny yelled, backing up the hill another few steps. “The damn riding path!”
“It’s just asphalt.” Mark slowly walked down hill towards the black ribbon.
“Be careful,” Jenny whispered, casting him a worried and frightened look.
Mark stepped out onto the smooth asphalt and turned around to face Jenny. “It’s just asphalt Jenny,” he smiled. “There’s nothing here but tar and gravel with an oil base. It can’t talk.”
Her frightened look did not abate. “I’m telling you it yelled at me,” she blurted. “As I rolled over it on my bike it yelled Ouch!”
Mark was starting to get worried now. There were no known cases of mental disorder running in either of their family histories, but Jenny was definitely acting strange.
“I’ll walk up and down and show you it’s only a bike path,” he said in a condescending voice, making exaggerated steps as he tromped back and forth on the warming asphalt.
“Ouch!” a loud voice screamed as his right foot came down with a pounding thud.
Mark didn’t know how but he was suddenly standing next to Jenny, gaping at the bike path below.
The path suddenly started to transform itself. A large black object reared up and started moving around like a gigantic blob of black bubble gum. It suddenly moved off the bike path into the grass and reared up swaying back and forth like plump black Jello.
“I was trying to warm myself,” a sleepy voice said, sounding as if it emanated from the blob. “You didn’t have to wake me and stomp all over me.”
Mark and Jenny gave each other an incredulous look, then turned their frightened gaze back to the shimmering black blob.
“Well, speak up why don’t you?” the Blob demanded. “Cat got your tongue?” The thing giggled as if it was laughing at its own insidious humor.
“You can’t be real,” Mark stuttered. “What are you? We must be…” his voice trailed off.
“Puffs the name,” the thing replied. “Puff the Magic Dragon.”
“You sure don’t look like a dragon.” Jenny glanced nervously over at Mark. “And how are you talking to us in that silly English butler accent, I don’t see a mouth or anything?”
“By golly,” the thing responded as if in sincere apology. “I forgot that I was in my morphing state. I was trying to warm up, you see, and that hot asphalt is the ideal place.”
As they watched, the black blob began to twist and turn and jerk as if it was going to bubble over. Very quickly it transformed into a large green lizard complete with gaping jaws, sharp teeth and a long tail. A pair of dainty pink wings sprouted on its back. It was wearing a red and white striped vest and huge clown like boots on its tiny feet.
“How do I look now?” the thing asked, turning right and left for them to get a good look. “Do I resemble a respectable dragon?”
Jenny couldn’t help but smile at the absurd looking beast. “The pink wings, striped vest and clown shoes don’t exactly match your dragon demeanor,” she replied, stifling a sudden giggle.
“Oh my!” the beast replied. “I got the image from your mind you know. I didn’t know it wasn’t appropriate.”
“My mind!” Jenny blurted, remembering a dragon she had proudly drawn when she was seven years old, complete with pink wings, clown boots and striped vest. “You can read my mind?”
“I figured it was more appropriate than his image,” the dragon replied, pointing a sharp fanged mouth in Mark’s direction. “He wanted me to look like the alien from that movie Alien. Frightening creature. I’d probably scare myself silly with that awful image.”
“How do you know all this?” Mark asked. “Are you a magician, or wizard, or something?”
“As I stated earlier, I am Puff the Magic Dragon,” the beast proudly replied. “The images are all from your experience, not mine. I can see you’re offended by my cartoon look so I will get rid of the pink wings, booties, and loud vest.”
They watched as the creature turned into a classical looking dragon, complete with wide swept wings and sharp talons on its feet.
“You’re obviously not a flesh and blood dragon who breathes fire and eats damsels in distress are you?” Mark curiously asked. “What are you really?”
“Flesh and blood, oh my! That’s so unnatural,” Puff replied. “Why on earth would I limit myself to flesh and blood, and all the agony and mess that comes with it? Why would I lower my standards to be like a human? No offense intended, of course.”
“Then you are magical and you’re here for a reason?” Jenny asked, “and you’re talking to us telepathically?”
“Oh my gosh no!” Puff replied. “Magic is such a childish invention. I am not a magical being; my construction consists of billions of what your mind calls nano-bots. The billions of my parts work in unison to create the particular image I want to present at a particular time. This naturally depends on where I’m at and what I’m doing. I have some of my nano-bots acting as a voice resonator so you can hear me. As for why I am here, I just dropped by for a short visit. I’ve been here many times, the last time I think around a thousand of your years. I had a lot of fun with the locals in this dragon state, so I figured I’d try it again. I enjoyed being the big bad wolf…er dragon.”
“We’re not as ignorant as we once were,” Mark stated. “We can easily comprehend your make-up, but you must have more of a purpose than simply scaring the crap out of the locals?”
“Well, I do have another motive,” Puff stated, trying to act coy. “It gets rather lonely whizzing around the Galaxy all by myself and I was hoping to find intelligent life to accompany me on my travels.”
“We do not yet have the ability for intergalactic travel,” Mark replied. “It may be hundreds of years before our science reaches that point.”
“God knows if we ever will,” Jenny blurted. “God may not even want us roaming helter-skelter around his beautiful universe.”
“Did he tell you so?” Puff eagerly asked. “I must meet God. He may well be the very one I have been searching for.”
“God is all around us,” Jenny replied. “He can hear and see everything.”
“Oh! That God.” Puff sputtered. “The one you humans created back in your infancy.” They could tell that Puff sounded very disappointed.
Puff could also tell from the reaction of the humans that he had somehow upset them. "Humans created religion when they first evolved to a state of logical thinking," he stated. “Humans could not explain the things around them so they naturally attributed it to something more powerful than themselves. Religion was thus born. Those tribes with religion had an advantage over those who had no religion for they then had a purpose and goal in life. The social value of religion became so strong that it became part of the human psyche. Naturally, as religion developed ,and codes of conduct developed along with it, other tribes adopted similar beliefs, more to keep their members in order and establish a system of authority, than to praise their all-powerful God."
“The more man clings to religion, the more he believes. The more he believes, the less he knows. The less he knows, the more stupid he is. The more stupid, the easier he can be governed! The easier to govern, the better he may be exploited. The more exploited, the poorer he gets. The poorer he gets, the richer and mightier the domineering classes get, the more riches and power they amass, the heavier their yoke upon the neck of the people."
"So you’re saying that God does not exist?" asked Jenny in an irritated and skeptical voice.
"Not at all my friend, not at all," replied Puff. "Something or someone made this wonderful universe, even made me, but I haven’t the faintest idea who or what it is or where it is. Let’s just say I’ve been a few places during my two million years of existence and I haven’t ran across that creator yet."
"Are there any galactic travelers other than you?" asked Mark, primarily to get off the subject of religion since he could see that Jenny was becoming irritated. She had been raised in a devoutly religious home.
"There are a few like me," Puff replied, "and there are others unlike me who travel around a bit. My colleagues are pretty antisocial and we only bump into each other on rare occasions. The others, those beings of flesh and blood like you, believe that they’re too good for company. Besides, they’re limited to a few localized star systems and can’t travel galaxy wide."
"What made you think we’d be capable of galaxy wide travel?" Jenny asked. "Especially since you were here only a thousand years ago and we were still in a very primitive technological state."
"It’s a matter of adaptability," Puff replied, "and humor. Among all the races I have met, humans are the only ones who have a sense of humor. Humans are the only ones who can laugh. Humans are emotional, curious, adaptable and really fun to hang out with."
"Well, unless you teach us how to build intergalactic space ships, I’m afraid we can’t join you in your fun," Jenny stated, her fear of the oddball dragon slowly starting to evaporate.
"That’s not exactly what I had in mind," Puff said, coughing to mimic hesitancy. "Space ships can’t possibly go to the places I have been to, or want to visit. They simply do not have the physical capability. Too rigid you might say."
"I guess there is another option?" Mark asked.
"Transformation," Puff replied with a sly voice. I can transform you and make you like me."
"A silly looking dragon," Jenny blurted. "Meaning no disrespect, but why would we want to transform ourselves into a lonely and somewhat eccentric dragon?"
"Once again I apologize," Puff stated. "My playful form isn’t exactly the image I need to effect proper communication with you." The dragon immediately started to twist and change shape. Within seconds a tall and powerfully built middle age man wearing an English Tweed suit stood before them. His carriage portrayed wisdom, strength, character and a magnetic aura that both were immediately drawn to.
"As I mentioned earlier, I can assume any form that I can imagine." Puff’s sparkling smile lit up his ruggedly handsome face. "I assure you that I am almost as human as you are. I can breathe, consume food products, bleed, expel waste and above all else; I have feelings and emotions. I am not a robot but the product of artificial intelligence that has had countless eons to evolve. I offer you the option to become like me which, in your limited way of thinking, is almost God-like."
"That would take away our humanity," Jenny said, glancing nervously at Mark. "We would no longer be human but machines."
"What is a human?" Puff asked. "Merely a collection of compounds of elements, that are made up of atoms, that are made up of quarks and leptons, which are energy. All of human conscious and unconscious thought is created through neurons firing off electrical signals in your brain. Therefore since all matter is in reality energy, and all thought is in reality energy, all matter and thought is interconnected as - energy. Ergo! Humans, like me, are energy. The only difference between you and me is that I can control that energy at the sub atomic level, which in turn creates and adjusts matter at my will. Your human body consumes other matter, which it converts into life sustaining energy. My body collects pure energy and converts it to direct power or matter as needed. I can make it so that you also possess that capability."
"Won’t we lose our individuality, our soul?" asked Mark.
"You will be exactly as you see yourself now," Puff replied. "Your body can be exactly as it is if that is your choice, but you will have complete molecular control over it with the ability to change it at will. You will need that ability if you are to travel in environments hostile to your human form. Your mind will not change. Everything you remember, everything you have learned, dreamed, or experienced will transfer to your new being. You will retain your hopes, desires, love as you call it, and everything that makes you, you. There will be no difference in you as you see or feel yourself; the only difference will be that you have absolute control of your being down to and including your sub atomic level. Death, or ceasing to exist, will be your option and you will not be at the mercy of a physical form that time and energy destroys. In effect, you could live forever if you so choose."
"What about family, friends, our obligations?" Jenny asked. "You can’t expect us to drop all that we care about and go traipsing off around the universe." She looked at Mark to make sure he understood her need to ask this question. "What about our starting a family of our own? Won’t we have to give all this up?"
Well, there are a few sacrifices you’d have to make,” Puff pinched the dimple on his masculine chin. “Your family will lose their physical properties in a few years and you’ll miss them anyway. I’m not sure of the meaning of the word obligations, but if I read it correctly from your mind, you’ll soon be forgotten by your coworkers, church members, and those other acquaintances. As for reproduction, at your desire you can replicate yourselves.”
“You still haven’t explained what happens to our soul?” Mark asked, growing somewhat suspicious of Puff’s - too good to be true offer.
“That’s not an easy one to explain,” Puff replied. “When you lose your physical properties, meaning your body dies, you still retain your mental faculties. Your mind and everything that goes along with it consists of energy and is not destroyed. It’s simply converts to another state of being that does not rely on a material presence to maintain its existence. This I assume is what you refer to as your soul. So, you don’t really lose it.”
“But where does it go?” Jenny asked. “Isn’t there a heaven, or hell, or purgatory that we go to after our physical body dies?”
“Gosh no!” Puff huffed. “That’s only part of your religious indoctrination. You may have noticed that everyone has a different concept of what happens after you lose your physical shell? Well, almost all of their concepts are derived from exposure to religious doctrine, created by human imagination that is so jumbled up that no one can make heads or tails from it. Every culture has a favorite fantasy, or dream of the afterlife, and they pass it on to succeeding generations because it instills hope. No one wants to think that they have spent their physical lives achieving so much, only to have done so for nothing. No one likes the idea of never seeing their loved ones again.”
“My savior promises me eternal life after death,” Jenny stated, “and he also promises me a place in heaven. I believe him before I believe you.”
“He’s not lying to you and neither am I,” Puff replied. “All he promised was that if you do as he says he will show you the way to find eternal life. What he didn’t stress was that you already have that ability within yourself. Once you leave your physical form and convert to pure energy, you will have the ability to shape your destiny in whichever way you so choose. He only promised to help you make that conversion, something that many minds do not have the ability to do. There are billions of them still floating around waiting for help to make that necessary conversion, you call them ghosts. His teachings about living a good life is to keep your mind from becoming so over powered by emotional stimulus that you lose that ability to transform to eternal life.”
“Now you’re getting religious on us,” Mark said not sure if he understood Puff’s explanation.
“Not in the least,” replied Puff. “I am not laying down rules and laws or doctrine I’m simply telling you like it is. I’ve run across a lot of minds, souls, or whatever you want to call them, who have created their version of paradise. For them it exists and they are very content with it. Me, I like to travel and see and feel things. You might say I’m “The King of the Road.”
“How will we be able to control how we look or what we’ll need in a particular environment?” Mark asked. “You’ve had two million years to learn, we haven’t.”
“Why that’s the easy part,” Puff returned. “Once you decide to convert, your physical form will consist of billions of nano-bots that already know what you’ll need. You might say they’ve already been programmed to react to your thoughts and needs. There is no need for a learning curve, so to speak, as they have the intelligence to convert your form as needed.”
“Say we decide to convert,” Mark mused, “then we change our minds. Can we get our old bodies back?
“I’m sorry but that is a no go,” Puff replied. “Your old bodies will be used up in the conversion process and will no longer be available. As I mentioned though, you can make identical copies of your old bodies any time you want too. Just think it and it will be so. You can be anything or anyone you want to be. As a last resort you can terminate your nano-bots and go on to the pure state of energy, if you so choose.”
“Do you mind if we have some privacy to discuss this?” Jenny asked, grabbing Mark’s arm and pulling him up the hill. After they had gone a respectable distance from Puff, Jenny turned back to Mark. “This thing, whatever it is, sounds like a used car salesman. I don’t trust it.”
“But think of all that we can do,” Mark blurted. “We could be anyone or anything we want to be, go anywhere we want to go, see the entire universe. My God! We could live forever Jenny! We could be like Gods!”
“That’s what scares me Mark. I don’t want to be a God or like God. I like being plain Jenny. I don’t think I want to lose myself, my body, my family or my life.”
“He says we will keep all of that,” replied Mark, in a pleading tone of voice.
“Like he said though, Mark, if we accept his offer there’s no going back. There’s just something about him, it, whatever, that doesn’t sit right in my mind. I’m not like you, I never read or liked Science Fiction or Fantasy. My fantasy is a loving husband, children, and a wonderful life together, not traipsing across the Universe or building an electronic paradise. What if (his version of) evolution threatens the circle of life?”
“I see you’ve decided to decline my offer,” Puff said as Mark and Jenny strolled back down the hill. “Don’t forget I can read minds.”
“Nothing personal,” Mark replied. “We don’t think we’d make good adventurers. We kind of like things as they are.”
Puff smiled. “No problem, as they say, there are many here on your planet who may take my offer. I do wish you both a wonderful life together. I’ll just make a quick exit. I never did like long and sad fare well’s.”
They watched as Puff transformed himself into a marvelous flying saucer. They heard him yell, “Now you know all about UFO’s too!” as he quickly vanished into the clear blue sky.
With a smile and gentle kiss, they strolled over and recovered their bikes lying on the side of the hill.