Excerpt for Room Of Concequences by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Room Of Consequences

Rob J Meijer

Copyright 2019 Rob J Meijer

Smashwords Edition

Room Of Consequences

Warrük's pet raven Fägûl was staring at him from the hallway. The well-trained bird knew he wasn't allowed in the library, but something in the way Fägûl was bobbing his head told Warrük the bird wanted to come in and join its wounded master.

"How did I get here? What was I doing? What happened?"

Warrük had trouble remembering. It was as if awakening from an intense dream. A dream that felt like it had spanned months, years even. That moment waking from the dream when the dream seems still as real as life itself.

A drop of blood fell from his brow unto Warrük's small desk.

"I must have hit my head hard on something", Warrük murmured softly to himself.

Fägûl was striding more and more restless at the other side of the doorpost. What was making his bird this restless? It wasn't at all like Fägûl, acting like this.

There was blood on the book that lay open before him on his desk. Warrük turned the book, keeping it opened at the original page, as not to get the blood smeared out, or transfer blood to the opposing page as well.

Advanced Bygone Mutability Workbook

Warrük didn't recognize the book. What was it even about? Bygone mutability? Warrük turned the book back to the opened page and started reading. Trying to get back a grasp of what he might have been doing in the library at the time he had hit his head.

Well, that is funny the page on the left, with his blood stain at the bottom, was printed in a subtlety different font than the page on the right. The book seemed to be filled with over the top metaphors about early birds and the discovery of fire. A self-help book most likely. Why was he reading crap like this? It didn't add up.

Warrük took a pack of paper handkerchiefs out of his trousers' back pocket, took two of them and placed them on the blood stain, then turned a number of pages till he got to another chapter.

Early Agriculture

Warrük read a few sentences. Seemed it wasn't a self-help book after all. This book wasn't going to help him remember. What was the last thing he could remember? Warrük started thinking back. He remembered getting up and preparing himself breakfast. He had had breakfast cereal and a glass of fruit juice. After breakfast he had gotten a phone call from his brother, inviting him to a barbecue. But after that, what happened after that? Warrük realized he must have hit his head hard. He touches his brow for a moment. It still felt moist.

"Think I'd better call a doctor," Warrük said to himself.

Warrük reached for his phone with his left hand, resting his right hand on his desk next to the book, his thumb resting on the book. As Warrük sat back down on his stool, he noticed his bloody thumbprint on the book.

"Shit!, ah, screw it, it's just a book"

Warrük placed his large black phone on his desk, put his finger in the round dial and dialed the number of his doctor.

Then a sharp pain to his left temple.

A fog came over him, over his thoughts. It was like before, like waking up from a dream, but this time the dream and reality were almost identical. Did he have cereal with fruit juice? Or did he have steak with nuts and a glass of mammoth milk? No, that was silly, nobody has steak for breakfast and mammoths had been extinct for many millennia, it must have been cereal and juice.

"Hello, this is the Namâr AI from the ministry of animal agriculture and terraforming, how can I help you?"

Warrük felt like he was going crazy. He was sure he had called his doctor, not the ministry of… Of animal agriculture and terraforming?

"I'm sorry, I believe I must have dialed the wrong number."

"Please sir, don't hang up yet, this is the first call I've had in over half a millennium, sir …"

Warrük put down the phone. This was not good. His mind was a mess. There was no such ministry, or was there? Terraforming was the stuff of science fiction books, and animal agriculture? What could animal agriculture have to do with terraforming? Was he losing his mind?

Then Warrük noticed his arms. They were muscular, bronzed and ripped, they didn't look like his own weak and chubby arms at all. Warrük stood up and walked to a long mirror that was standing in between two book cabinets. Looking into the mirror a shock went through Warrük. He looked ten years younger. His hairline intact, his skin much more clear and tanned than he remembered it, and he was muscular, ripped. His huge gut had disappeared completely and so had most of his gray hairs. Only the lines around his eyes betrayed his true age.

Ministry of animal agriculture and terraforming, Warrük remembered now. The stories his grandfather used to tell him about the mammoth pastures on mars. How could he have forgotten about that? And how could he have doubted he had had steak for breakfast. He always had steak for breakfast. Everybody did.

But then the vague memory of a cereal breakfast with juice. Cereal? Warrük remembered it now like it had been a dream, but the details were so complete so intricate. Like he had had this whole other life where people ate diets based on grass seeds called grains and all kinds of different plant bits, not just nuts and berries but roots, leaves and huge mutated fruits.

The details were so intricate, it was as if two alternative versions of the development of humankind came together in Warrüks head. He looked at the phone on his desk. An antique! A 'wired' phone with a dialing wheel. The wired telephone network, Warrük remembered from his history lessons had been dismantled in the early 1200s, yet Warrük remembered clearly just having used this ancient device to make a phone call in an attempt to call his doctor.

He realized now he had reached an antiquated AI. A computer. Warrük felt compassion now for the AI. Imagine how lonely it must feel having been left running on an abandoned communication network for half a millennium without anyone to talk to.

Warrük vaguely remembered what a doctor was supposed to be. He vaguely remembered being weak, being fat like a swine at the beginning of winter. He remembered being part of a whole pre-space civilization. A civilization of weak and fat people gorging on industrially produced foods made from grass seeds and other plant bits. A civilization where weak and sick people were so common that the number of people on earth alone, whose business was the care for sick was larger than the whole population of a small country.

"No! It can't be!"

Warrük remembered the book. The chapter he was just looking at. Early agriculture. This was just too much of a coincidence. His struggle with two realities, one reality where a largely plant-based industrial level agriculture had created a primitive pre-space civilisation of weak sick and fat people and a completely different reality where agriculture had arisen as a subfield of terraforming, was based around traditional hunter-gatherer foods, and where sickness was rare enough for medical science to never have been incepted as a field. No, the closest to medical science in this reality was hackerspace nano-engineering.

Warrük looked closely at the page, at his own bloody thumbprint in the book. Again there was this change in font. Where Warrük dismissed the change of font between the pages as a silly coincidence, the thumbprint was just too uncanny. It was in the middle of the page. The lines starting exactly below Warrük's thumbprint had a different font than those up until his thumbprint on this page and all the pages before it. Not subtle like before, but the changes in font were quite radical, he could not have missed this, he just couldn't.

Bygone mutability workbook, Warrük remembered the title of the book. Mutable history? Not possible, was it? Warrük wasn't going to risk it. This backward dystopian plant agriculture ruled world he remembered wasn't somewhere he wanted to risk becoming real again. Warrük closed the book, stood up and started walking towards one of the book cabinets. But then at the moment, he was about to put the book into the cabinet, his bloody paper handkerchief fell out. Warrük quickly opened the book at the location of the remaining handkerchief. The page was still a pinkish red, but the letters were readable again. The words seemed to be about the discovery of fire by early humans, but that didn't make any sense. The text on the right page started moving. Letters rearranging. What was happening?

Warrük dropped the book. His arms, they were growing weak again. His muscle tone disappearing. Everything was changing back, but why? Fägûl started going wild now. Warrük looked at his pet raven in the doorway. It was transforming.

"What the …"

His bird was growing larger. Shedding most of its feathers. Its wings started transforming into small arms with huge scary looking fingers. Its huge beak shrinking. What was happening? At that moment it was as if the whole room was growing. Warrük looked at his arms. They were short now, hairy. A thick red-brown layer of fur covering his arms. His stool now two times his own height. Warrük looked at his body. He was naked, all covered in a thick layer of fur. His head started hurting again. It was like a bad dream, what was happening?

Then a comforting voice spoke to him from above. Warrük knew he knew this voice, but his mind was a fog, it was hard to focus. Warrük looked up. It was a large hominid that looked strangely familiar despite looking very much alien. The hominid looked almost human apart from its mouth and
Hair. There was a small bird-like beak in the middle of its mouth. Its hair wasn't made of hair. It was feathers, black feathers. Then the huge hominid grabbed hold of him. This all felt really familiar to Warrük, it felt OK, Warrük knew instinctively he had nothing to fear from it.

"You naughty monkey," the hominid spoke in a kind voice, "you know you are not allowed to go into the library. Be very very quiet now before daddy discovers what happened."

Warrük tried to grasp what was happening but his mind wasn't working as it should. Hard to think. Two words rang in his mind: Early birds. Early birds; Fire, these were important, but it was so hard to think.

Then a second voice sounded, thundering, through the room.

"Fägûl Smfatká! How many times have I told you to never ever let your pet monkey into the library? Do you have any idea how dangerous some of the books in this library are? Well? Do you?"

"I'm sorry daddy," the hominid holding Warrük responded. Was it? Could it be true, was this his pet raven Fägûl? Warük looked at its face as it spoke, "It's not my fault daddy, he escaped from his cage daddy, please don't be angry, daddy."

At that moment the Warrük's line of thought got lost in feelings. The young hominid was upset. His thoughts were confusing but this was his friend and that was everything Warrük needed to know right now. Warrük curled himself up in Fägûls arms and hid his face in his skull feathers.

Other work by Rob J Meijer

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