Effy Geschaft did not believe in dark energy. Not in the way they did. That the expansion of the universe was accelerating, she had no doubt. It was those claims of a dark energy disease she could not accept. So she rode her hover cycle to a limestone pit on the outskirts of Lungsod where she lived. She was going to show them they were wrong.
It wasn’t the limestone she wanted. It was the black rocks, the ones that appeared to writhe like a mound of small black worms when the light hit them just right. When she had found enough, she slung the bag of rocks over her back and then rode her cycle to where yet another mob had gathered.
“Get them out of here!” they yelled.
Crowds of people surrounded the house.
“It’s dark energy.”
“Lock them up!”
“Oh my protons,” a man in a dark blue suit said near where Effy had stopped her cycle. Since he was a crippled from the waste down, he rode an automated hover chair. “I know them. It’s Martin and Charlotte Lartesi.” He covered his face with his hands.
Martin and Charlotte, as the man had called them, stood on the porch, puffed beyond recognition. At least it might be them. Their skin boiled as if hordes of insects jumped underneath and their eyes had turned to bloody lights. They were so disfigured that Effy could not tell which might be Martin and which was Charlotte.
“What’s happening to me?” one of them said. The voice whined like rotating machinery operating without oil. “I need a doctor!”
“It’s the fifth case I’ve seen this week,” the suited businessman said. He swung his chair around to face Effy and talked with his hands. As he spoke, sirens sounded in the distance. “It’s brutal. First they have those red eyes, but about nineteen hours later they look like those two. There‘s nothing anybody can do.”
“Here comes an ambulance,” an old man said on the other side of Effy. He walked with the help of a robotic exoskeleton, probably from arthritis or bad joints, or maybe both. “Doctors will take care of them.”
“No way,” the businessman said. His chair turned to confront the old man and his hands gestured in his face. “Those aren’t ambulances, they’re police.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I called them. Doctors can’t do anything for dark energy poisoning.”
The sirens sounded louder until two squad cars hovered overhead.
“Take them away!” someone in the mob yelled up to the cruisers. “They’ll disease everybody else.”
“Clear the area below,” an officer said over a loudspeaker from one of the cars.
As the people pushed and shoved out of the way, the cars landed in the yard of the house. Effy pulled one of the black rocks from her bag and turned to the businessman. “You don’t have to worry. This will protect you.”
The businessman leaned over in his chair to take a closer look. “What is it?”
“Sjette. It’s a rock from deep under the earth.” As she spoke, she turned the rock in her hands. When the light reflected off the soft substance, it appeared to move. “It has six quarks per proton instead of three. That warps the fabric of spacetime and blocks dark energy.”
The man’s eyes grew wide. He swung his hover chair and reached to take it from Effy. “Here, give it to me.”
“No.” Effy pulled it back. “You have to buy it.”
The man hurriedly removed his piezosheet wallet and transferred the funds to Effy.
The word spread fast. “It’s protection from dark energy,” the old man with the exoskeleton said to another who wore a robotic knee.
As the police paraded the boiling monsters into one of the squad cars, Effy sold out of all the rocks she had in the bag. “I’ll get more,” she told a woman who could hardly walk. She was the next in line.
And Effy did. She worked tirelessly for the next day straight, collecting the rocks and then selling them to multitudes of desperate folks. Many traveled long distances to seek her out, until finally her time was up.
It was nearly twenty-four hours later when the suited businessman found her collecting more rocks from the limestone pit.
“You lied to me!” he said.
Effy could tell he had once been the businessman because his dark blue suit hung from his bloated percolating body in taters. She held another of the rocks in her puffed and bubbling hands while his angry eyes glared at her like pulsing red lasers. Examining the rock with her own red glowing eyes, the soft substance squirmed within her grasp.
Yes, she had been poisoned along with everyone else. But there was one important difference. She thrilled in the vigor that dark energy had brought her. She knew the truth. The optic nerves were bi-directional. Glowing red eyes were a symptom of an energetic mind, and the boiling skin was the overflowing vitality of the body. She felt more whole and healthy than she had ever felt in her life.
“No,” she said softly. “I didn’t poison you.”
The monster stood in front of her no longer using a hover chair. His body throbbed with energy as he waved demonstrably with his arms.
“You sold us those rocks for a lot of money. You said they would protect us, but we all got dark energy poisoning anyway! That‘s what you did.”
“Dark energy is not the disease,” she said. “It’s the cure.”
See more from this author at his website – www.dominsions.com.