Framed and sentenced to death by freezing, our hero wakes up in the Ether.
Into the Ether
Asleep and deep in the fear implant and mind intrusion session, the young subversive's entire body began to shiver, his teeth chattered uncontrollably as his body temperature began to plummet. Desperate, he searched the ice bound barren and frozen landscape before him for shelter from the harsh frigid winds but saw none. As he felt the first blast of cold, he thought, Oh, my God I am in the Ether. Most subversives had heard about the Ether. He had read about this new capital punishment and it scared the heck out of everyone who heard about it.
Beginning to panic, poor Gideon's fingernails began to blacken as subject 3221089089 arrived in the Ether by the usual method and unfortunately for him, it wasn’t directly out of his deceased mother’s womb, as his face and hands gradually turned purple, his fingernails began to blacken This vivid nightmare appeared quite real. As he blinked his eyes, blurred from the cold. He was shivering, his knees knocking, as he continued to lose body heat rapidly, with no way to warm himself. He thought, Oh, my God, I am a dead man. I must act quickly. I must find shelter?
As he looked across the snow-covered frozen ground, he saw a pile of fresh animal poops.
and he had absolutely no idea how he had arrived here in this cold barren all ice-covered land. As was usual, one of the judgment ships must have brought him. Maybe the Canis undeterminius or wolf-like creatures had chased him from some strange and wonderful warm world. No, no, that's not right, he remembered that last day in court, when he plead guilty to a murder, he never committed.
Gideon dreamed that to save his younger brother, Aubin, who had committed a horrible crime, 3221089, or Gideon Guidry had hired a brilliant lawyer, who tried nearly every trick in the law book to get this young subversive Gideon off, but the judge, who’s nephew was the real killer, was determined to see Gideon executed.
The prisoner vaguely recalled the disgusted looks on the juror’s faces as the horrific murder was described in graphic detail. With traces of Rage still in his system at this time, however, he could not recall where he was at the time of the crime. Perhaps in this fear treatment chair in the House of Pain. Perhaps this was all a dream and he was still sitting in the memory mapping chair in under the influence of Rage. In fact, as is usual under the influence of this evil drug, he could barely remember who he was and since he had no real recollection of anything other than that awful rigged trial, he was unable to come up with a believable alibi. Instead, the Kangaroo Court of Fear Corporation tried and convicted him before Peter Solara, his rookie attorney could mount a defense. So, it appeared he was here and here he would stay until his death.
At first, he was in denial as he looked around the fridge landscape. He tried to convince himself, that he was still warm and in Chicago or Sanatorium, but deep down, he knew exactly where he was. Now, all he prayed for was a way to warm himself. He knew that frost bite and even death was a real possibility as he followed wolf tracts in the snow hoping they would lead him to the wolf's' lair, which would be warm.
As he trudged through the frozen snow, the wind was thick and hard to breathe. Heat was fading and with it his life. Panic began to settle into his mind. He had read enough about the Alaskan wilderness to know that he was facing one of the worse deaths imaginable. Then he walked up a small hill with wolf tracks and saw a warm pile of wolf's feces. It smelled awful, and he nearly walked past it without giving it a second thought, but then he was desperate for something warm, so he reached down and rubbed the nasty stuff all over his legs, chest, arms and torso. He gaged and nearly threw up, but the warmth of that nasty, awful smelling stuff felt wonderful and he thought, what an awful way to stay alive?
But then he thought, I'd rather stink that die of frostbite, and smearing himself all over, he walked on, searching. Most subversives had heard about the Ether. He had read about this new capital punishment and it scared the heck out of everyone who heard about it. Slowly freezing to death. He looked down at his chest and his legs and all he had on was some old tattered dirty clothes. As he looked down at his dirty sweat stained clothes, they included, a shirt, a pair of pants, socks, a belt and a single pair of pants with his number, 3221089 clearly printed on each. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and saw the floor and four irregular walls of what appeared to be an ice cave all around him. Then, it hit him. My God, I have no coat, no hat, nor any gloves and it is cold. I need to build a fire, but with what? He checked his pockets for matches, but there were none. If fact, he saw nothing that he could get even a single spark to light a fire with.
At first, the cave was pitch dark as 3221089 began to hyperventilate as he looked for anything to build a fire to warm himself. 3221089 looked around the cave for something, anything to warm himself. Fire, fire, fire. He chanted, I must start a fire and soon, but as he looked around, the cave was pitch dark and he saw nothing anywhere with which to get warm. There appeared to be nothing here in the cold, dark cave with which he could build a fire. In fact, there wasn’t so much as a stick of wood, or anything to wrap himself in for warmth. He checked his pants, but there were no pockets and unfortunately no matches, either.
Then as his eyes slowly began to focus, he noticed something in the center of the cave, something that excited him. On the floor of the cave there were a few tree branches and some twigs stacked as one might stack them to build a fire, and it made him feel hopeful, but there was nothing to lite it with.
Then as his vision continued to improve, 3221089 noticed a woman, dressed in clothing like his, only her number which was different, 122559. It was all printed on her clothing, on both her shirt and pants.
The young woman was also shivering, and her teeth were chattering, but not as much as his. Then he noticed she held a young child in her arms, who was also shivering and chattering.
“My name is Katru-Fortray ”she said.
“What is that?” he asked.
“My name. My name is Katru-Fortray, although the guards called me number 122559, what is yours?”
“Gideon Guidry, or 3221089 as I was called, back in the Zone.”
“I was sentenced to death for robbing an Imperial Food Storage Facility. “
“And worse yet, I was framed by the Emperor Tartus’ son. He was the real thief. And he planted evidence at my house. And what was your conviction for.”
“A loaf of bread. Stealing a loaf of bread and it wasn’t even for me. Twenty-two years the standard sentence for such a horrible crime.”
“We must find a way to the pole. I’ve heard that space pirates visit there often and we may be able catch a ride back to Karanda or to a friendly planet not part of the Southern Foundation. The men including my husband will be back soon. They are out looking for a fire source. Please help my child. Hold him close while I look outside for the men.”
Gideon held the child close to him, as the poor baby was ice cold to the touch and crying and whimpering. Gideon was instantly protective as he tried his best to warm and sooth the poor thing. “What is your babies name?” he asked as the women walked towards the cave entrance.”
“Molari. She is a girl and a sweet and wonderful one at that. Naturally, I’d do anything to get her back into the warm.”
“Of course. I understand completely. I have a son. His name is Brian. I haven’t seen him in several years. I’d give anything to see him again.”
At first, the woman looked at him, as if he might eat her. Given the circumstances, he tried his best to smile broadly and show her that him meant her no harm, but she grabbed her child and ran out of the cave before he could stop her, and he slowly followed.
As he looked around he, sheepishly, he stood silent, then looked around the frozen landscape and saw a series of ice pools and sedimentary rocks, few plants, thin high clouds, with no sun showing behind them and not much else. Yep, this is the Ether that everyone on Earth has heard about. The big terror. The worst punishment imaginable. As if freezing to death weren't enough, there were several packs of wolf- like creatures eating the weak and deceased. I better keep awake and moving, he thought.
As Gideon stood there he heard the sound of a Carnis howling in the distance. At the sound, the woman came out from behind a rock with the child and grabbed his shoulder with tears in her eyes, she said, “Tock, Patri!” Much later he found out that meant, please don’t leave us alone. He also was later told that unlike him, she was a ‘settler’, whereas he was considered a squatter. That is, he must have committed a terrible crime to be sentence here in the Ether. Then he saw in the distance a small group of men, all dress similarly to him walking towards him
As the strange men approached, he noticed that none of them had coats either and that each was wearing a striped prison suit similar to the one he had on, only each one was a unique color from the others and that one of the men had a sharp dagger like bone, which 32221 found out later was a Canis bone that the man had obtained by killing a Canis with a large rock. As the stranger neared the ice cave shared by he and the woman, 1225, he was shocked when the largest of the men, called to him in English.
“Comrade, How long have you been here? ” the man asked, as the other four men stood back to back to other another, he presumed to get warm.
“Let me think, ”said 3221089,” I think I got here this morning, but since I awoke the cave, it could have well been last night as well.”
“I see and what was your sentence?”
“You know, what offense did you commit to get sentenced her?”
“I have no idea, but it must have been bad, (of course he knew exactly what the conviction was for, but something's are best kept secret, just in case one of them were friends with the murder victim in his conviction or somehow connected with his judge).Then, he turned to the tallest of the "settlers' and said,
"I was given, no clothing and no matches. So, comrade, what crime did you commit? “
“Beats me, but it must have been terrible indeed, because when I got here my head was sticking out of a bucket of ice water. Before I could thaw it out, I nearly drowned. “
Look for this and many other nightmares in my book Fear.