'The Theory of Everything' - Part Three. The Adventures of Zarkor and Zerak.
Later that evening, Zarkor and Zerak meet in a room in their Lightship. Zerak asks Zarkor,
"Where's the Swami?"
"He went to lie down for a while." answers Zarkor. "Said he had a headache. Do you really think all this is a plot by the Vulgarians to rule the Universe?"
"I don't know, Zarkor. There are many questions we need to find answers for. Exactly who are the Vulgarians and where are they? And what does Prof. Schmaltzenberger have to do with this? All we have are lots of unanswered questions, and I think I'm getting a headache, too."
"Well, we do know the Professor lives on Quadropoleous, that's what the Swami said," Zarkor remembers. "Maybe we should go there and look the Professor up."
"I would be a start. Let's go to the Control Room."
As they enter the Control Room, Zarkor sets the coordinates for Quadropoleous.
"Good," says Zerak. "It's not very far. I hope we can get some information from the Professor, but if he's involved in this it may be difficult to get him to talk. We'll have to think of some scheme, some ploy or something so he doesn't know what we're after. You're good at that, Zarkor. Come up with something."
"Yeah, and my Dumb Luck Activator may come in handy, too."
"It has in the past," says Zerak. "Say, where did you get that implant anyway?"
"In a pawn shop, of course," replies Zarkor calmly. "I had a brain pan specialist do the implant. It was a simple procedure. He even said there was extra room in my brain for any more implants I cared to insert. He even gave me a deal. Any two implants for the price of one, since it was so easy for him to do. Why do you think there's all this extra room in my brain, Zerak?"
"I don't know, Zarkor. Just lucky, I guess."
Soon the planet Quadropoleous appears in the Control Room's View Screen.
Zarkor is the first to see it. "There it is, Zerak! I wonder how we find the Professor?"
At this opportune moment the Swami enters.
"Hi Swami," greets Zarkor. "We've reached Quadropoleous."
"I see," the Swami observes. "I presume you now want to locate the Professor. I know his address, of course, having installed a first-class overhead door in his garage. Yet I hesitate to meet him personally, having purloined his TOE algorithm."
Zarkor ponders for a moment, then exclaims, "I have an idea! Zarkor and I can go to his house disguised as as overhead door techs! We'd be like making sure everything is working ok! How's that?"
"Good work, Zarkor!" Zerak says. "Then we can slyly interrogate the Professor about the algorithm and the Vulgarians. We'll have to be careful how we go about this. Swami, what to overhead door techs look like?"
The Swami considers. "They look like everybody else. Except they wear hard hats and white smocks. A roguish lot, but polite when convenient."
"Good, says Zarkor. I have my crash helmet in my room. You know, Zerak, the one I used when I had that race car. I think I have a spare helmet, as well."
"You mean the car you crashed the first time you drove it, and that was in the back yard?" Zerak observes. "Lucky you weren't killed."
"It was the car's fault, Zerak. It was so stupid it didn't even know how to go around turns!"
"That's what the steering wheel was for, Zarkor."
"How was I supposed to know that?! Who ever heard of a steering wheel on a race car?! What a stupid idea!"
"Anyway," continues Zerak, "you get the helmets and we'll go visit this Professor. Remember, we have to be sly and clever and deceitful. You think you can manage that, Zarkor?"
"It's my specialty, Zerak."
Later, down on the planet's surface, wearing their hard hats but minus the smocks, considering they have no bodies, the guys are hovering above a typical Quadropoleous residential street observing Professor Schmaltzenberger's house.
"Strange looking house, isn't it? It's so small. I don't see any movement inside. It's the right address, though," says Zerak.
"I wonder where the garage is?" Zarkor wonders.
"Probably in the back," says Zerak. "Let's go up and knock on the door."
Zarkor and Zerak drift across the street and peer into a window.
"The house seems to be empty, Zerak."
"Yes, maybe the Professor's not home. Wait...I think I hear a noise inside."
Though not having knocked, the door of the house opens slowly. In the doorway stands a middle-aged Humanoid dressed in an old-fashioned green velvet smoking jacket.
A little startled, Zarkor and Zerak stare at the curious-looking Human and ask, "Who are you?"
"Why I'm Professor Schmaltzenberger, of course! Who are you two?"
"We're...umm...err...overhead door techs, studders Zarkor. "How's your door doing?"
"My door?" asks the Professor, confused.
"Yeah, your garage door," Zarkor says, regaining some of his composure. "Is it still going up and down like it's supposed to?"
"I don't know," the Professor admits, "I never use the garage anymore."
"Umm, maybe we should give it a look-over," Zerak suggests. "Make sure it's not sticking or something."
"I'm sorry," says the Professor, "it's locked and I've lost the key."
"We're key smiths, too!" Zarkor blurts out. "We could probably open it for you!"
"No thank you," says the Professor, a little annoyed. "As I said, I don't use it anymore."
There is an uncomfortable silence between the three for a moment, as no one knows what to say next. Suddenly Zarkor asks, "Um, do you think I could have a drink of water? It's awful hot drifting around overhead doors all day."
"Why, yes," the Professor says hesitantly. "You may come into my study."
The Professor leads Zarkor and Zerak through the house, occasionally glancing over his shoulder, and they enter a book-filled room. The Professor pours a glass of water from a pitcher sitting on his desk and offers it to Zarkor.
Zarkor slowly drinks as he subtly looks around the room. "Thanks for the water," he says finally.
"You're welcome. So...how do you like overhead door work?" asks the Professor, sitting down behind his desk.
"It's okay," replies Zarkor. "Kind of boring, though. I like theoretical physics better."
Zerak turns a sharp eye to Zarkor.
"Really?" asks the Professor, surprised. "It so happens I am a theoretical physicist."
"What a coincidence!" says Zarkor. "It's sort of a hobby on mine. In fact, lately I've been fooling around with this algorithm I made up."
"Algorithm?" the Professor asks cautiously.
"Yes," Zerak says quickly, "Zarkor here is quite a mathematician in his spare time. You know, when he's not installing overhead doors. He works on theoretical theories a lot, don't you, Zarkor."
"Yeah. After hours and on weekends. I've been working lately on one about the Theory Of Everything. That's what my algorithm is about. It models the whole Universe and stuff like that."
Our two Alien friends look to the Professor, anticipating a reaction. "Hmm...Sounds interesting," he says calmly.
"And plus," continues Zarkor, "I've been doing some research on the Vulgarians. You've heard of them, right?"
"The Vulgarians! The Vulgarians!" the Professor shouts. "Yes I've heard of them! Curse them!"
"I didn't mean to make you mad," Zarkor says meekly, drifting away from the Professor's desk a little.
"I apologize for the outburst," the Professor says. "It's just...well...being overhead door techs you may not understand."
"You'd be surprised how intelligent one has to be to do our kind of work," says Zerak. "It's very demanding."
"Yeah," continues Zarkor, "it takes a real intellect to work on these doors. They're very complicated. That's why I study theoretical physics and stuff. Makes me understand doors better. Umm, for instance, another theory I've been working on lately is real interesting, too. It's a theory about there's an imbedded message in our Universe. I think it has something to do with the...er...the Vulgarians."
The Professor looks Zarkor and Zerak over carefully, and says slowly, "You're not really overhead door techs, are you?"
"Well, no not really," Zerak admits, seeing the game is up. "We're friends of the Swami who stole your TOE algorithm from your garage. We didn't have anything to do with that, though."
"Yeah," agrees Zerak, "and we ran your algorithm through our Lightship's computer and out popped this message from the...er... Vulgarians! So we thought you might know something about it.
"Plus," interrupts Zarkor, "I assembled your Time Machine Kit once and I used it and there was this like another me from the future that jumped out of your machine somehow and we met this big ugly guy and almost got arrested for breaking some stupid Time Law but we talked our way out of it and...and...it wasn't really my fault cuz see I spilled some Flavorian flavored soda pop on the instructions and I had to improvise and...so we didn't get put in jail or anything but I don't think you should go around inventing Time Machine Kits for just anyone to use cuz you never know what's going to happen when you fool around with time and..."
"Zarkor! Calm down!", Zerak says.
"...and...and...umm, that's all."
"Errumph! I see," the Professor says, a little confused again. Then, looking carefully at Zarkor and Zerak, and considering the circumstances, he says, "Hmm...I'm a very good judge of character, and you two seem innocent enough and mostly honest, though not very good at impersonating over head door techs. However, I understand your reasons for trying. Since you already know about my algorithm, I'll have to let you into my confidence. I admit I desperately need someone's help, so I'll tell you something of my plight. It's not a long story, but it's a horrendous one."
"We like horrendous stories, don't we Zerak," Zarkor says enthusiastically.
"Usually," offers Zerak hesitantly.
The Professor leans over his desk and begins by saying ominously, "Our Universe and every life-form in it is in peril of a devastating invasion! By the you-know-who's! We must gather our courage comrades and join forces to fight this despicable malevolence, and save the Universe!"
"Oh, that's okay," says Zarkor nonchalantly, "Zerak and me have saved the Universe lots of times!"
"Sure," agrees Zerak confidently, "that's what we mostly do!"
End Part Three