TURNABOUT IS FAIR PLAY Tom Mazanec 1850 Jebediah Culpepper answered the knocking at the door. The slavecatcher was there. "We got him, Mr. Culpepper. We hung him from the tree, just as you told us to. He's ready for you." Culpepper got his whip from over the fireplace and walked out with the slavecatcher. They walked across the field to the tree, which was surrounded by several other men and dogs. A group of horses were off to the side. Hanging from a large branch by his hands, tied together over his head, was a Negro. He was naked from the waist up. "Joey, you know the penalty for running away. You are my property, and for what you did I have the right to kill you. But I am a Christian man, and will give you the punishment the Good Book calls for less one." "Please, Massa-" began Joey, and then screamed as the first lash struck his back. Culpepper counted out the lashes, 1 to 39. When he was done, Joey's back was filmed with a sheet of blood and strips of skin. He had stopped screaming and gone into shock. "Thank the Good Lord, Joey, that I am a merciful man. Take him down and put him on a horse. We'll take him back to the house and we will show him to the other slaves tonight." The slavecatchers started taking Joey down when a noise came from out of the sky. It was like thunder only a little, as it was more high pitched. And it went on and on. A light broke through the clouds, and cast sharp shadows on the ground. The light was almost as bright as the sun, but seemed a mere blinding dot in the sky, not a disk like the sun. And it was white tinged with an awful blue color. The light descended down into the plantation fields and went out. The noise stopped a moment later. "What was that? Lightning?" asked one of the slavecatchers, above the hysterical barking of the hounds and the neighing of the horses. But they were trained well, and did not run off. "Maybe we should go there and see. It might have started a fire, or hurt one of the slaves." said Culpepper. They settled down the horses and dogs, and just then Jethro, Jebediah's son, ran up to them and called out "Pa! Pa! There was a meteor! Let's go out and see." Culpepper nodded and told Jethro to mount a horse. He told one of the slavecatchers to take Joey back to the house, and asked the other two to accompany him to see what had happened. They road off towards where the light had fallen. As they got through the line of trees edging the plantation, they looked and all four jaws dropped. There was a huge cone or spindle shaped object in the distance, towering higher than any tree. They raced over to the prodigy. As they rode through the plantation, they passed what looked like a wall of fog, and Culpepper felt a brushing across his entire body. As they approached the it, it seemed to tower into the sky. And then they got an even bigger surprise. All around the construction were people dressed in animal costumes, complete with tails. The men rode out to the costumed crowd at the bottom of the tower. They were veiled in wisps of smoke, and also each seemed surrounded by a thin fog. Culpepper went out in front to one of them, dressed as a possum. "What in tarnation are you doing on my property!" "We are here to take humans to Hygiea...our Hygiea, that is...the one we converted into a McKendree colony in the original future and sent back here. You will serve us, as a lesser species." This speech so discombobulated Culpepper that he just stood there. Then he drew the pistol from his right holster and fired at the man. The bullet stopped about a foot from the man's chest. Culpepper gaped at this sight, then reached around to his left holster and repeated the action with the pistol there...with the same result. "The first time was ignorance, the second was stupidity. Now it's my turn." The man in the possum suit reached into a holster of his own, whipped out an object, pointed it at Culpepper and then there was a little "Pop!" sound. Suddenly a film covered Culpepper's whole body. He saw iridescent fringes around everything. He tried to reach for the strange man, but the film held him stiff as a statue. He couldn't even breathe through it. The man pulled a blade from out of a chest pocket and cut the film over his mouth. Now he could breathe again. He tried to cry out, but he could only open his mouth a slit and make a whinnying kind of sound. "I advise you to stay still...you may injure yourself." The other men turned and began to ride off. Another one of the strangers, dressed as a fox, lifted a rifle like object and BANG!BANG!BAND as blinding streaks of light, like perfectly straight lightning bolts, came out of the device and struck the horses. The horses fell and the men lay on the ground, stunned. Jethro looked like he had a broken leg. The possum suited man said "You should have used the veloper, Vulpes! Now they may have been injured...one is injured. You're to use the laserifle only if we are attacked.". Next, he held his wrist to his mouth and said "Nandroid-7, nandroid-8, nandroid-9 and nandroid- 10, come to this location." A moment later, an opening appeared on the construction at the bottom, and a ramp slid down to the ground. Then four men, this time wearing some gray all body covering that smoothed their features, came out of the opening. They walked with impossibly large strides to the scene. "Pick up the humans and take them inside the shuttle." One gray man picked up Culpepper and lifted him a foot into the air, still erect. The other three went over to the three men and the injured, dying horses. One of the slavecatchers had gotten up, and had a knife in his hand. "Get back from me, you son of a bitch!" As the gray man reached him, he slashed the knife at him. The gray man's arm raised up to stop it, and the knife went right through it. The arm dropped to the ground, bunched together into a gray ball, and slid up to the gray man's foot and flowed into it. The gray stump then elongated and formed itself back into an arm and hand. The gray men picked up the three remaining men. Jethro screamed as he was lifted and his leg dangled down. Then the four gray men with their captives walked to the ramp and up into the tower. Culpepper was unceremoniously dumped into a large room along with the slavecatchers. The room had slanting a wall of glass, and they were some height above the ground. Jethro was nowhere to be seen. The gray men walked out of the door, which then shrank and closed without a trace. Cullpepper got up and hammered on the wall where the door had been, hollering "Give me back my boy! Give him back!" The wall puckered where his fists struck, but snapped back perfectly smooth at once. He continued hammering for a minute then dropped his hands to his sides. "What the hell is this place?" one of the slavecatchers asked him. "I don't have the faintest notion." Culpepper replied, and dropped down to the floor. The men just sat on the floor for a bit, then a slavecatcher tried pounding, fruitlessly, on the window. A few seconds later, the wall opened up again, and gray men carrying Culpepper's field hand slaves, sans Joey, entered. The slaves were hoarsely sobbing and screaming. The slaves were being dropped on the floor when Culpepper raced for the opening, which closed in his face. He bounced off the wall. There was not even a hairline crack. "Lordie, save me!" cried one of the six slaves in a gutteral voice. "Save me from Hell!" The slaves wailed and moaned endlessly, it seemed, but they finally became exhausted and fell silent. Then again the wall opened and one gray man came in carrying Mamie, the house slave. She was put down on the floor, unresponsive, and simply lay there. This time the gray man stayed in the room. A voice came out of nowhere, seeming to surround them: "Lay flat on the floor. Acceleration will begin momentarily." Culpepper reached for the gray man to grab him. His hand, and then arm, reached into the gray man and passed through to the other side. He drew his hand back and gaped as the hole closed itself perfectly. A loud roar began, and a painful light appeared below their window. Then a sort of pulling or pushing forced those who were still standing to the floor. They could hardly breathe...it was like two people were lying on top of each of them. This went on for an interminable time...Culpepper even blacked out once. At last, he woke up with the force greatly diminished. He still felt heavy, but he could get up. A slavecatcher was at the window, the others were clustered on the other side of the room. The roaring still continued, and the light was still visible at the lower edge of the window by the floor. And something blue was visible, too. Culpepper joined the slavecatcher at the window. The sight was a huge ball, as large as his fist held a few inches from his eye. It was blue, with swirls of white and patches of green and tan. There seemed something familiar about those patches. Then it struck him. It was a map of North and South America. Culpepper looked at the sight before him. It looked real. He stood and watched with the slavecatchers, and after a few minutes it seemed like the globe was shrinking, as if it was getting further away. Then a voice came from all around them: "Prepare for free fall in five, four, three, two, one..." and then the dull roar ceased, and the men felt much lighter. Then they began rising into the air. All of them began thrashing about, and floating about the space they were in. They panicked and flayed about for endless minutes, then finally quieted down as the strange floating continued on and on. A few seconds after the last of them ceased to struggle in mid-air, the wall opened up a circular passageway and a man, dressed in the most bizarre outfit yet, came into the hold. He was brownish, with what looked like shingles or leaves all over his body that was exposed above his chest. He dragged a tail, also covered with the little plates, as he walked in with a squelching pop-pop-pop sound as he walked, sticking by his boots to the floor. His head was long and narrow. "I am Alphus-798-Manis. I am what you would call a hybrid, of the human species and, in my case, giant pangolin. I am here to introduce you to your future." "What the hell are we doing here? Put us down!" shouted Culpepper. "We are in freefall, costing to a point between the Earth and the sun. At this location is a colony consisting of two continent sized cylinders connected together. We will be several days in reaching it. There you will begin your training." "What training? Who are you, and why are you wearing that costume?" The man walked towards Culpepper. "I am not wearing a costume. Do you think I could fit a human body into a suit like this, with limbs shaped this way? Look at my hand, see how it is designed from a pangolin's forepaw, modified for manipulative ability. Look at my tongue." and a long ropelike tongue came out of the tiny mouth. "I talk with this voder on my collar. I am not human, nor am I from your time." "What are you? Where are you from?" "We are from the early 31st Century of your calendar. In the early 21st Century, there was a great war, and humans made the first of us, hybrids of humans and many kinds of animals, as slave soldiers. But we are superior to humans. We overthrew human civilization, but then many of us became weak. We allowed humans to be citizens in our solar system wide civilization. The Mammaloids, the hybrids, of the asteroid Hygiea remained true to the true way, to the subjugation of mankind, and transformed it into the cylinders I have described. When we could not bring the other Mammaloids to the Truth, we traveled back here, when slavery was still legal, to utilize humans as the servants of ours they are meant to be." "You want to take my slaves as your own slaves? You trying to steal from me?" "All the humans we took from your plantation will be broken to our service, including you and-" "I am a man, a citizen of the United States and Mississippi! I demand that you return me home now!" "You are quite untrained, interrupting your better. You will now be put to sleep, for the installation of your obedience collar." The creature then took out a fat pistol like implement and shot at each of the men. Culpepper felt a sting on his chest. Then he felt dizzy, and blackness came over him. Culpepper woke up on a bed. He felt kind of hollow inside, and had trouble moving for a few seconds. As he recovered, he felt something sticking around his neck and throat. He reached up and felt a hard, cold collar. When he pulled on it, the skin came with it, as if the collar were glued on. He got up off the bed, and wobbled over to the wall. There were other beds, all of them empty. Suddenly, the wall opened a large door opening, and in walked the creature that called itself a pangolin. He had a small box strapped to his left arm, with various knobs and buttons on it. "Ahh...so you are awake. It is time to begin your training." "Where am I? What is going on? Where is my son?" "You are on the dextro cylinder of Hygiea. We have placed an obedience collar around your neck. It is fused with your nervous system. We will begin your training." The creature began slowly turning a knob on his box. Culpepper felt a burning on his skin, and an ache in every part of his body. Moment by moment the pain grew, and Culpepper tried to grab the pangolin and throttle it. But his hands felt a resistance a few inches from the pangolin, and he could not reach it. "You will not be able to reach me through the utility fog envelope. I will continue training." The pain became agonizing. Culpepper trembled, and then fell to the floor, screaming and thrashing. After an eternal interval, the pain subsided. "We allowed the Negro humans to wake up first, and tested them with the collar. Unfortunately, we were not experienced in training humans. We put the collar at full intensity at once, instead of slowly rising to a small fraction of full power, as we did with you. They all died. We will train the surviving humans one at a time, so as to learn how to train them. That was punishment. Now for reward." Culpepper suddenly felt throughout his entire body as his member felt in making love. He groaned with pleasure. Then the feeling stopped. Slowly Culpepper rose to his feet. He looked at the strange looking pangolin. "What are you doing to me? Where is my son?" "As I explained, we are beginning your training as a slave. Your son's leg has nearly healed, and he will be collared and trained in turn when it is completely healed. Then you will each be sold to your future owners." "I have no owner! I am a white man!" "You will be sold to a mammaloid. Maybe I will buy you, if you train well. All humans on the Earth will be enslaved by mammaloids, in the next few years." ""Mammaloids? You are talking animals?" "In 1850 English, we are hybrids of humans and animals. That is not strictly correct, but it is as close as your dialect and vocabulary can come. We come from the original future, where we learned to travel back into time. We are now in an altered past, which will have an altered future. Here, we will replace the mechanical nandroids we use for work with humans...eventually all humans. You will be our servants, as is proper. Follow me." The pangolin walked out through the door a few steps. He turned around and looked at Culpepper. "If you do not follow, you will be punished." he said, bointing to the box. Culpepper followed. They walked through a long corridor. Several times they passed beings looking like various animals warped into human shape...a cat, a wolf or coyote and a porcupine. All wore the suit that came up to their chests. Seeing them move, Culpepper finally realized they were not disguised people, but actual abominations. At last they reached a flat wall. The pangolin put its hand on the wall and a large opening appeared. He walked through the opening and Culpepper followed and saw... They were in a city. Silvery buildings rose twenty or more floors above them. They appeared to be in a vast valley. The sides of the valley rose up and up...and up? The land continued above him and over his head. Even at the top of the sky were the marks of lakes and streams, laid out like a map, and dappled with clouds. There was a long rod spanning the sky, with several dazzling bright lights on it. It was like the world was inside out. "Welcome to your new home." said the pangolin. Culpepper stared around the impossible scene. "What is this place?" he asked. "This is the inside of a spinning cylinder, hundreds of miles in diameter and several thousand miles long. The spinning provides the gravity...we are actually out in space, a million miles from Earth in the direction of the sun. There are over a hundred million mammaloids of over six hundred different species in this cylinder, and as many in a companion cylinder attached to it." "And you want to enslave us? Me? Take me away from my son?" "Yes." "But I am a Man! God gave Man dominion over the beasts of the field, cattle and horses and dogs. You have to obay me." "You keep slaves, because you are stronger and smarter than them. We can keep you as a slave because we are stronger and smarter than you." "Ham doomed himself and his descendants to slavery when he laughed at Noah's nakedness. And I am smarter than any animal, even one that can talk." "I do not care what you believe, as long as you obay. But maybe you are smarter than me? Do you play chess?" Culpepper did, in fact, play chess, a noble game for a Southern Gentleman. And he had not been beaten since he was a small boy. "I do! If I win against you, will you let me go free?" "No. But I will see to it that you and your son are sold together. If You lose, however, I will see to it that you never see your son again." "I accept your challenge!" The pangolin did something with the band on his arm, and Culpepper quailed, fearing another explosion of pain. But instead, the pangolin spoke to the armband, saying "Utility fog, materialize chess set." And a cloud formed in the air between them, quickly shrinking into a chess board and pieces that hovered motionlessly in mid-air. "I give you white." Culpepper played aggresively, expecting to quickly win and humble this freak. And the pangolin played stupidly, not using the moves Culpepper would use to counter the moves he was making. Culpepper captured several pawns quickly, but suddenly found his queen threatened. He backed off, but soon had to sacrifice his queen to save the king. He thought long and hard after that for each move, but after only five moves, the pangolin said "Checkmate in four moves." Culpepper studied the board. The pangolin was right. "Damn you. Damn you to hell!" "You will not see your son again. Your first task will be cleaning toilets. We will see how well you do, if you should be trained for more pleasant work." The toilet cleaning continued for weeks. There were a vast number of excrements from a vast number of individuals, and Culpepper was one of only a score or so human slaves who had so far been taken in raids, not counting those the collar had killed. He worked as slowly as he could get away with, to avoid being tortured with that collar around his neck. With a city the size of the one he was in, he barely made a dent in the cleaning in his 15 hour day...most of it was still done by the gray "nandroids" that were to be replaced by human slaves when the mammaloids got around to invading Earth in earnest. Finally, the pangolin came to his closet sized room one morning with another creature at his side. "This is Hishmin-2871-Erinaceus. His species, in your dialect, is a hedgehog. He has purchased you and is your new master." Hishmin also wore an electronic armband, that controlled the collar. Culpepper followed Hashmin out the building and towards a large object shaped like a wagon or carriage. Hishmin put his hand on the side of the object, and a large opening appeared on it. "Get in." he said. Culpepper entered the presumed vehicle, and Hashmin followed. "Aircar proceed to 95284 Altacamia." The conveyance made a high pitched whining sound, and rose up into the air. They rose to several thousand feet, and then began hurtling across the curved terrain. "Call me master. What do you want me to call you?" "Jebediah, master." he said. He did not want any more explosions of pain. "Someday you will call me by my name, Jebediah. I intend to train you for the sort of work mammaloid citizens do. But you are almost certainly insufficiently intelligent to learn. Therefore I will have to get you to an illegal clinic to have your brain improved. You must tell no one about this, or discuss this anywhere outside this aircar or other secure location. I am a member of the Abolitionist Underground. Someday we will overturn slavery and go back to mindless nandroids for menial work." "You are an Abolitionist? Then why would you buy me as a slave?" "As I said, to make you able to live as a free citizen in the society we will create in the solar system, and ultimately the Milky Way galaxy. We can have a utopia for sextillions of people of all species, if we can get over this cultural affection for human slavery." "But slavery is right and proper for lesser people such as niggers." "No, Negroes are not inferior to Caucasians, although virtually all humans in this year are less intelligent than the mammaloids and humans of our time. The Underground hopes to raise the intelligence of your people, and let you live as equals with us." Well, it looked like Culpepper was in the hands of what he once called a damn abolitionist He did not want his brain tampered with, but it looked like he had no choice. And if it made him smarter, maybe he would be able to figure out a way to put these beasts under his heel.