"Through Her Breath"

Spencer Paige

All rights reserved by the author

 

 

Again, the seat shook, and again Isaac attempted to collect himself. His teeth rattled and his body quivered. Granted, the air inside the shuttle was expected to be chilly, but he felt like he was stranded out in the Arctic somewhere. Maybe it wasn't the air that was chilling him to the core. Maybe...

 

 *****

 

Memories from earlier that evening. Chaos raced through his mind. He was looking through his office window, his face pressed to the glass. He saw an old bag lady drop her sign which read "SPARE CHANGE?" and run from a flying Honda Civic. The gusts of wind were picking up everything that wasn't anchored down-and everything that was. The orange car was hurtling right for her, and he heard her scream one last time before it would crush her and roll on down the street, leaving her feeble, bleeding body on the pavement. Her eyes were still open, he noticed. He couldn't help but think she was looking up at him. Dead, and still accusing.

Further down the street something must have collided with the gas station. Was it that Honda? The Texaco Station was encased by a ball of fire. He could just barely make out the sight of several people running from the reaches of the fireball. Some were still ablaze, but they soon dropped and lay still.

 

 *****

 

He looked around him. He must have made a scene. Some of the other passengers were giving him odd glances, even his secretary, Miss Ives, was looking at him. "Are you all right, Dr. Amyot?" She looked genuinely concerned.

"I'm fine, Cynthia," he told her, but his hand shook as he said it.

He reached for his wallet, the old leather lump in his pants that he kept for only one thing. From it he pulled the tattered photograph he had always studied in private, but he needed it now, like an addict who couldn't wait for his fix.

There they were, alive again. His beautiful wife and the blond-headed baby boy she held. And then there was himself, holding them both. He didn't recognize himself, . even though it seemed as if the photo had been taken yesterday. This was the source of it all, he knew. It was what made him act upon that article in the science journal.

 

*****

 

Earlier that morning.

He entered his office at the Governmental Institute of Meteorological Technologies with his head down, as usual, and passed Miss Ives without even a 'g'morning' . . . as usual. She was chatting with someone from the mail room, he supposed, and as he walked through his door he overheard something. "What's up with him?" the other woman whispered. "Oh, he's all right, he's been like that ever since he lost his family last year. Hasn't gotten over it, I suppose. Even gave up preaching. Yeah, used to be Father Amyot, as well as Doctor," Cynthia whispered back. "Poor man," the woman replied.

He shut the door, muttering 'poor man' to himself. He passed the framed diploma from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on the wall, and the stacks of magazines and research reports on the way to his desk. Surprisingly, it was kept litter free. He quickly noticed the bundle that occupied his desk. It was this month's stack of science journals he had subscribed to. Cynthia must have dropped them off this morning. Despite being anxious to get to work, he opted to take a few minutes and browse through the latest arrivals.

He took his favorite one, "Scientific Explorer." He checked the front page, Scientific Explorer, Jun. 2042 ed., and the main articles involved the extinction of an African species of frog, the progress of the lunar colonization project, and a new finding in the Great Pyramid of Giza. He had to see that last one. Even though he had separated himself with the church-and God-Isaac's curiosity forced him to turn to page 47. "The Great Pyramid's Secrets Revealed," read the headline.

Eager to get into the article, Isaac set his eyes upon the first paragraph and scooped about 5 spoonfuls of sugar into his coffee. Resituating his glasses, he slowly stirred the coffee and read the first sentence. Taking his time to ensure complete comprehension, Isaac moved into the second sentence while sipping his fresh coffee.

Without warning, the door to Isaac's personal laboratory swung open.

"Isaac, have you heard the news?" asked Dean while struggling to inhale.

Dean had gone to graduate school with Isaac. They both had earned their doctorate's degrees in Meteorological Computer Science. It had become the biggest, but also most exclusive, new computer science field in the world. Isaac and Dean had the ability to manipulate the weather. Just last week the two had teamed up to steer Hurricane Isabella from the coast of Florida, saving hundreds of lives and millions of dollars.

"Yes, come in. It should be unlocked. Oh, hi, Dean... How are you this morning?" remarked Isaac.

"C'mon Isaac, quit the attitude. This is some phenomenal shit; I can't believe you haven't heard." Dean struggled to catch his breath and stood there dumbfounded looking as if he hadn't just claimed that a phenom was occurring.

"Well... Dean are you going to tell me or…?"

Beginning to catch his breath, "Three... Three possible storms. Not just any storms, tropical storms. That high pressure system from the Arctic is causing all kinds of problems. Not only is it on course to clash with the two low pressure systems in the Atlantic and Pacific, but it also is containing the last of Hurricane Isabella in the Gulf of Mexico. If these three heads ever collided, God knows what would happen. A force similar to the power of 1000 hydrogen bombs touching down in the center of the U.S., damn! This is something else; I wish I could see it Never before have three storm heads been on course for collision, ya know?"

"Of course I know, Dean," Isaac gave a chuckle and pretended to care. "But hey, it's a good thing that guys like you and I can keep that from happening."

"What would the country do without us?" smirked Dean. "Well, we should get to work getting the readings, preparing the satellites, downloading and inputting it all, eh? I figure we got plenty of time, about 18 hours until the manipulation codes should be sent out."

"Yeah, we got plenty of time," concluded Isaac.

Isaac loved his work. He put his heart and soul into it, day in and day out. It was all he had left. He worked furiously on his computer in several different programs towards keeping the three storm heads away from each other.

At 12:45pm Isaac noticed that he had missed 45 minutes of his lunch break. Before getting up from his computer he checked his e-mail real quick. He had a message from Dean: "Isaac, so sorry but I had to leave early. A microburst destroyed the house. I didn't have time to stop in your office and explain, but Laura is in the hospital, I will be there if you need me. I left my half of the work with Cynthia."

"Oh my goodness," Isaac said out loud. Standing up, he began remembering the freak Mother Nature related events that had been happening the past few years, since he had started working actually.

Walking out of his laboratory Isaac asked his secretary, "Excuse me ,Cynthia, did Dean leave anything for me?"

"Yes, he did, is he ok? He seemed upset..."

"I don't really know, I think there was an emergency," lied Isaac as he took the folder from his secretary. "Hopefully everything will be okay though." Cynthia, feeling 2 inches tall, did not respond.

Isaac, back in his work space, reviewed everything Dean had prepared. When Finished he grabbed his lunch out of the fridge and opened up Scientific Explorer to page 47.

"The new tomb discovered is encased in gold bricks. An estimated 5,000 gold bricks, a value of about 2.2 billion dollars, create the inside wall of this chamber. The tomb was intended to be the burial grounds for 'Satet'. An Egyptian Princess, she used her evil powers to manipulate humans. According to legend, she desired the most elegant tomb known to man for her burial site. She ravished a small village's gold mine and left everyone in the village to die. The tomb was built using the 5,000 gold bricks she had stolen. However, hours before her death, she was cursed. An attractive Egyptian man seduced her and tricked her into exhaling three breaths of air into a gorgeous bottle made of gold. He then cursed the bottle, with her breath in it, and buried it for eternity. Satet died within the hour after her encounter with the Egyptian man. Her time on Earth was shortened. On her death bed, she vowed that she would never allow another's life to be cut short. There is no record pertaining to where Satet eventually ended up being put to rest.

In the chamber there was absolutely nothing, except a hieroglyphic. It read, 'The three breaths of Satet shall collide to open her eye and create everlasting life"'.

Isaac, being an ex-priest, half-heartedly believed in ever-lasting life. Deep within himself, he believed that life could and should last forever on Earth.

The idea of life popped up into his mind. How had his wife and little boy been robbed of it? Why was life so unfairly taken from them?

Isaac had tinkered around with the idea of everlasting life since their funeral. Every myth, legend and religion, Isaac studied them all to no avail. Despite still playing around with the idea, he had given up and accepted that it was impossible. Isaac felt that feeling of failure creeping in and decided he would go back to work. He had a lot to get done.

With his eyes c1osed he saw the three storm systems. The one in the gulf, the Pacific and the Atlantic. The hair on his arms stood on end, as he envisioned the three storm systems in motion, on a collision path with one another. When they met, a triangle was formed. Isaac recited the hieroglyphic just discovered out loud to himself, "The three breaths of Satet shall collide... to open her eye and create everlasting life." He envisioned the three swirls as if they had collided.

A tingle raced down Isaac's spine. "It fits," screamed Isaac, "It makes sense, it has to. It must. It is meant to be." Not a doubt stood in Isaac's mind, he had done it. Finally, he thought, "finally I have done it." Success overwhelmed his body, his pupils dilated and he felt invincible as adrenaline raced through his bloodstream.

Opening the necessary programs in his compute); he entered the necessary passwords and codes to begin manipulating the tropical storms towards each other. He wanted to ensure that when they collided, each hurricane maintained the highest amount of energy possible. Using his computer he calculated exactly when the storms would meet and that exact location. It would be at 1:05am that night when the three storm systems would collide. The location would be over St. Louis, Missouri. That particular fact meant nothing to Isaac.

The science behind weather manipulation was based upon the Chaos Theory. Isaac used a variety of computers to manipulate satellites in space. These satellites would, as a result of Isaac's input information, submit a specific energy beam into Earth's atmosphere and ultimately change the pressure and temperature of a storm system. Through manipulating the pressures and temperatures, Isaac had set "the three breaths of Satet" on a collision course. It was inevitable.

At about 8:00pm he hadn't heard from Dean, he hadn't left his lab yet and he hadn't even finished his work on the three possible catastrophic storm systems. However, Isaac had rejuvenated his spirit and his search for everlasting life.

As he dusted off old notebooks he had no problem remembering every detail revolving around his search for everlasting life. A bead of sweat gathered on his forehead and dribbled down to the tip of his nose where it hung for a few seconds before splashing on the page. Like a madman obsessed with finding a cure for insanity, he used every bit of intellect he had trying to piece something with this new discovery. Isaac flipped through page after page and took notes at a rapid pace before deciding that he should probably slow down and read the rest of the article.

Deciding to take a few moments to read through the article, it examined the carvings and provided possible interpretations. There was a magnified picture of the hieroglyphics and underneath the words, there appeared to be three circular swirls forming a triangle. The author speculated that these three swirls could be unrelated to the actual words and that the swirls could have been an impurity of the gold. Isaac, disappointed that his last hope hadn't resulted in a revelation, slammed the magazine shut and said, "Fuck it!"

Turning to his computer, he X'd out all of the "everlasting life" related search browsers and was left with a picture of the weather systems across the world.

Isabella in the gulf was growing rapidly and edging dangerously close to the coast. While the storm in the Pacific grew, the storm in the Atlantic had grown into a monstrous cyclone. Isaac stretched his arms towards the sky, closed his arms and let out a yawn. Suddenly, like a vision from God, it hit him...

 

*****

 

1:00am that evening.

"The United States is under an umbrella of clouds. While the wind speeds are in excess of 30 mph, the rain appears to have been left in the ocean. As you can see, I'm not sporting a rain coat, George. Back to you in the studio."

Isaac watched as a local news network covered the freakish cloud cover in his hometown of Norwood, North Carolina. As he sat in his leather chair he assured that he had a bird's eye view, through one of the satellites, of the specific meeting point of all three storm systems in St. Louis. He did not want to miss the revealing of eternal life.

1:04am read the digital clock on Isaac's computer. He looked down at his Rolex and followed the second hand past the quarter minute mark. .. Past the half minute mark. .. Isaac pressed the record button on the program operating the satellite. He felt untouchable.

5…4…3…2…1....

The bird's eye view revealed a massive mushroom cloud reach up from the Earth's surface and almost touch the camera lens mounted on the satellite. Isaac jumped back in his chair and rolled a few feet into the desk behind him. His stomach dropped as the lights and power went dim, and then completely died.

Isaac sat lifeless in his chair. He couldn't speak, he couldn't move, but he could hear. The wind whistled around outside. He heard screeching of a cars brakes locked on the pavement. Then a sudden crash and an unexpected silence.

Isaac stood up, his knees knocking together, and fell back to the ground. Lying there on his laboratory floor he thought of his life. He thought of himself. A qualified genius, his career at MIT, trusted as one of merely three men in the world qualified to manipulate weather. A man who had believed in God, become a preacher, married/the woman of his dreams and started a family... A man who lost his family, lost his faith, developed an obsessive search and finally lost himself. He struggled to want to take in another breath, he struggled to understand "life." Why do I have "life?" he asked himself.

A wave rolled underneath him as the ground shook. Crawling to the window Isaac looked out of it. The trees were being pushed over by the wind. It pounded everything in its path. It was an emotionless assassin. The trees, still attached by their roots, appeared to by laying on the ground as they were being blown so hard. The sky, a murky grey, swirled before Isaac's eyes as he studied the horizon. The storm clouds reminded Isaac of death, they reminded him of the haze that overcame him when he found out his family had been burnt alive.

Across the street an old homeless lady squandered what she could of her belongings from her cardboard home and fought the wind to stay on her feet. Rain drops scattered the window Isaac looked out of. He realized that they were coming straight at him as a result of being carried horizontally by the strong wind. Back across the street, the old bag lady dropped her "SPARE CHANGE?" sign to the ground and began running.

Suddenly an orange Honda Civic, as if picked up and tossed by a giant, tumbled down the street and smashed into the old lady's backside. He cringed as he heard her let out one last scream, before half of her body lie in the street compressed like a pancake. Blood oozed from the remnants of her skull, while her eyes remained open. Isaac's heart nearly stopped when he realized her eyes were fixed upon him, almost as if she knew it was his fault. Seconds later, further down the street the very same Civic erupted into flames and plowed into a gas station. A huge explosion rattled the casing of the window that Isaac peered out of. His jaw dropped as a woman and her son raced out of the area of the explosion still ablaze. As they desperately flailed their arms, Isaac felt light headed. Everything began spinning. As he hit the floor, he could still faintly hear the screams of the mother and her son as they hit the pavement burning alive.

Isaac remained unconscious as a team of government agents rushed into the room and carried him out to the shuttle. While draped over the shoulder of a huge man, Isaac heard him say, "They don't know what caused it yet. But I know that this fellow is lucky to be so important. Mr. President gave direct orders to ensure Dr. Amyot' s safety. He is one of two American weather manipulators alive. He kept Isabella from destroying Florida."

"No shit, that's this guy?" questioned another agent. "I wonder what will end up happening with this monstrous storm?" he asked.

"They say that the power of the three storms will feed off of each other for decades, maybe centuries. It is an unstoppable force that cannot be contained or suppressed. Central America is gone gentlemen. The storm will not stop!"

 

*****

 

The shuttle bounced back and fourth. Isaac, ashamed to not have been left on Earth, felt as if he didn't deserve life. The word life popped up into his mind. However, it no longer stood upon its usual pedestal. It no longer was in its traditional spot, above everything else. Instead, the letters lay broken into hundreds of pieces on the floor. They were the grey, dismal color of death. Isaac struggled to understand, he couldn't understand. As Isaac's heart began to beat slower and slower, he realized that his life had turned into a struggle. It was a struggle to understand that of which was not meant to be understood. As Isaac's heart shut down, his brain ceased and his eyes closed. He realized that he had been very wrong...

 

© Copyright 2005 by the author

All rights reserved