When the Earth was still just a lava-spewing ball, Perdure’s own sun went supernova. Before that event, the primary species had metamorphosed to pure energy mist-type beings. Most sought another planetary home. One entity, Irc, had chosen to explore the farthest reaches of space, traveling from one solar system to another, exploring the planets of each one. She rested within the sun of each system, absorbing more energy between journeys. Having no mass, she utilized solar flares for the propulsion into space, then maintained momentum by surfing the cosmic currents.


Irc entered Earth’s sun, Sol. She was tired of the endless travel, bored, and lonely. Any diversion at all would be most welcome. An extraordinarily fast buildup of energy grew within a group of sunspots that happened to be pointed towards the Earth. Wielding massive energy, the resulting solar flare released a coronal mass ejection and ensnared her. Traveling at one million miles an hour, the electromagnetic pulse-fronted CME struck ground in northeast Montana. The only solar array within a 50 square mile area that wasn’t fried drew Irc’s energy to itself.

Isaac Robert Clarke typed the final sentence of his current sci-fi novel. The tall, sandy-haired, athletic author contemplated his pseudonym, Siens Fikton, on 19 previously framed covers. Obviously made-up, the name was a play on “science fiction.” His given name was a tribute to his author parents’ three favorite writers: Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Arthur C. Clarke. Good thing their last name already was Clarke or God knows who he might have been. Suddenly, a strident alarm sounded, indicating an issue with the power.

Racing out to his front porch, Isaac looked to the sky. It appeared as if a huge fireworks rocket had gone off. There were multiple curtains dropping nearly to the ground of red, blue, green, pink, and purple, waving in imaginary wind like drunken Technicolor ghosts. Trees stood in sharp silhouette, and the colors reflected back in the creek water. An aurora borealis that colorful could mean only one thing: a coronal mass ejection, and EMP blast. CME’s can trigger geomagnetic storms known to disable satellites and knock out terrestrial electric power grids for extended periods. He knew the protections installed for his solar array had done their job because the lights were still on.


All through high school, Isaac wrote short stories, submitting them to various science fiction magazines with some modest success. Continuing the practice through college, he earned degrees in Physics and Astrophysics. He earned a degree in Cosmology also, developing an interest while interning with two renowned scientists. Finally, well known himself, Isaac proceeded to travel the globe consulting with other notable researchers and publishing his findings in scientific journals. Through these studies, he gained immense knowledge of the sun, its properties, and the surrounding universe. Throughout, he continued to write short sci-fi stories and submit them. Finally tiring of the constant fight for funding, and the infighting prevalent in the scientific world, Isaac retired.

Following his parents’ example, his advanced degrees in Astrophysical Science served him well in adding realistic backgrounds to his stories. A belief in the probability of life on other planets made him amenable to the concept of extraterrestrial life. He even joined SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence). Their concepts were included also. It took three novels before readers warmed to his storytelling style, and then sales went insane.

Being a little reclusive, but not a hermit, Isaac purchased 1,200 acres in a desolate area of northeast Montana. Rock Creek ran through the eastern third of his property. Finding the ideal spot below a bluff, Isaac had a modest, 2,200 square foot Adirondack-style house built. Utilizing timber-frame construction, it contained a kitchen, living room, three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an office, and a workout room. The expansive porch faced the creek and had a roof supported by tree trunks. A similar house, built for his employee friends and situated about a hundred yards south, had trees planted between them for privacy.

A small hydroelectric station at the creek provided power for the first few years he lived there. Later, a 60-panel solar array installed on the bluff took over. It tracked the sun and included a heater to melt off snow. The hydroelectric station served only as back up afterwards. Northeast Montana was not as prone to solar flares as the mountains in the western part of the state, but they did happen. Isaac’s solar setup was extremely expensive and he wanted it protected. He built a concrete-block bunker with a Faraday cage incorporated to house the charge controllers and inverters. Knowing the damage a solar flare or CME could do, he also installed two Sol-Ark-12k EMP-Hardening Systems in the bunker. They were able to withstand massive EMP shocks and built to specifications twice as stringent as the military versions. They even protected appliances plugged into them, so his computer wouldn’t be compromised.


After a restless night, Isaac joined Mac for their daily five-mile cross-country run. They ran early every morning regardless of the weather. Running hard and fast through the woods and meadows didn’t leave much oxygen for talking, so conversation was kept to a minimum.

Matias Adrian Castillo, whom Isaac called “Mac,” was a career Army Ranger, electronics, and cyber-research security expert. They had become good friends while Isaac did research with Mac’s Army Unit. With his red hair and full beard, he looked like a red bear in a biker gang. His usual attire was dirty jeans, motorcycle boots, t-shirt, and a leather vest. After his discharge at 38, Isaac offered him a lucrative position, being responsible for general maintenance and security on Isaac’s property.

After showering, Isaac dressed in his usual worn jeans, cowboy boots and Western short-sleeve plaid shirt with mother-of-pearl snaps in place of buttons. He joined the Castillos in his kitchen for breakfast. Most meals were at Isaac’s house, unless Mac was grilling. Then he wanted to use of the outdoor kitchen with fancy grill at his place.

Mariana-Emelia Castillo was Mac’s wife, and Isaac called her “Mary-Em” only because she let him get away with it. She pretended it was irritating, as a sister or daughter would, but secretly enjoyed it. The slim, brunette beauty was wearing a bright yellow blouse and loose jeans. Together, they made their own little family with Isaac as the patriarch, since he was 20 years older. The Castillos relentlessly teased Isaac about finding a woman for him if he didn’t do it himself. Mary-Em’s duties included meals and housekeeping, and she had their food hot and waiting.

As they sat down, Isaac asked, “Did you guys see the light show last night?”

Mac answered, “Did we ever! It was so big and bright we could see it through the curtains. I’ve seen the aurora a few times in different places, but never with that many colors. They’re usually just greenish.”

Isaac responded, “All those colors, especially the bright reds and blues, means we got hit with a pretty big EMP from a CME last night. I’ll bet the grid over in Opheim was knocked out. Did you have all the vehicles in the garages?” Both houses had three-car garages with Faraday cages built in to protect their electronics in case of a solar flare.

Mac said, “Yeah, everything should be good. I’ll run out to see if yours are okay.” Returning a few minutes later, he said, “All good; they started right up. Looks like all those crazy precautions of yours paid off.”

Following the meal, Isaac walked into his office to boot up the Acer desktop he used for writing. He stopped dead in his tracks, immediately noticing something strange. What is this? The computer screen was filling with random letters, numbers, and symbols. As soon as it filled, another began. It stopped for three seconds and cleared. He hadn’t even reached the computer to turn it on yet. How is it doing that? Reaching down, he pulled the plug from the wall. The computer never even slowed. Wiping cold sweat from his brow, he turned towards the door and hollered, “Mary-Em, call Mac back in here pronto! He needs to see this!”

Mary-Em followed as Mac rushed into the office. “What is it, boss?” Isaac just pointed at the screen without comment. The stream began again, only this time it was broken into groups of equal length, and the symbols were gone. Once the screen filled, it stopped. It wiped itself once more. Isaac was thinking hard. Okay, I don’t know what’s happening; but something about it looks familiar. What is it? The stream started up, but this time the groups were of varying lengths with no numbers or symbols present. It stopped upon filling the screen, and cleared itself. This is following some kind of pattern!

“Mac, have you ever seen anything like this before?” He pointed to the plug on the floor and shrugged, asking, “What are we supposed do with this, guys?”

The next time the stream began, it was slower, and some of the groupings of letters looked more like words typed by a kindergartner. Mac replied, “When I worked with intelligence overseas, they would do things like that. They copied the signals sent by hostiles and heard through headphones in real time. It was in code, so they took it to the cryptographers for deciphering afterwards.”

That’s it! “I saw the same kind of thing at SETI, only they were doing the sending. The questions are who is doing this, and how are they doing it without power?” My computer cannot be attempting to communicate. No, that’s a stupid idea! That would require artificial intelligence, and it can’t operate when unplugged anyway! They all looked dumbfounded and clueless.

Mary-Em ventured, “Maybe you should try talking to it.”

“Well, at least it’s an idea,” Isaac replied. As soon as the screen cleared once more, Isaac typed a question, (Are you trying to communicate?)

The question remained on the screen for 30 seconds, cleared, then, [It would appear so.]

Shocked, Isaac’s chair almost hit Mary-Em as he jumped up. He paced back and forth, running both hands through his hair trying desperately to make sense of everything. Either I’ve lost it completely, or my computer is independently talking to me. How is this possible? Settling back in front of the computer, Isaac typed more questions. (Are you an artificial intelligence? Why are you inside my computer? How should I address you?)

Within a fraction of a second, the reply came. [I am intelligent, but not artificial. I am an unintended visitor to your planet. Being here is accidental. I have not used a name for longer than you can imagine. Address me as Irc.]

You’ve GOT to be kidding! Isaac looked at Mac and Mary-Em with raised eyebrows, “Am I imagining this?”

“Well, if you are, we all are! Could this be some kind of prank, and if it is, how do we find out?” asked Mac.

Isaac replied, “How do we explain the computer not being powered up? Do you know any way to pull that off?” Dejected, Mac just shrugged, and looked at the floor while shaking his head no.

A thought occurred to Isaac. (What are you, Irc?)

[Is that an acceptable question to ask a stranger on your world? I am a species different from yours.] Isaac’s eyebrows tried to escape over his head as he stared at the screen. What! This cannot be an alien. It has to be a joke!

(With whom are you trying to communicate?)

[I am communicating with Isaac Robert Clarke.]

He jerked upright. (That’s me, how do you know who I am), asked Isaac.

[May I see some identification? Seriously, all of that information is within this device. After entering, I accessed a program used for teaching artificial intelligences to understand your English alphabet and text.]

Mary-Em suggested, “If it can text while the computer is unplugged, maybe it can manage to communicate verbally.”

“I suppose it’s worth a try, Mary-Em,” Isaac replied. “Let’s see.” (Since you can access my computer, can you communicate verbally instead of using text?)

[I will explore that option.] Nothing happened for nearly five minutes. Mary-Em left, and returned with bottles of green tea, handing them out. Isaac impatiently paced around the room repeating, “I can’t believe this! I’m talking to an alien! I write about this, but it’s really happening!” Mac lounged against the wall, thinking hard while staring at the ceiling, and Mary-Em sprawled in a nearby armchair as they anticipated a response.

The speakers began emitting sounds. Startled, the trio jumped to attention. It was similar to a susurration rattling tree leaves. After a few seconds, a husky voice, like the breezy prelude to a storm, issued from the speakers. “This is a slightly more efficient form of relaying information.” Sounds kind of like Kathleen Thomas’ voice. This’ll work.

“It works. I can understand you, Irc,” said Isaac, pronouncing the name as “Irk.”

“We all have much to learn about each other before understanding is possible. I can detect you also.”

Oh man! This is unbelievable! “Good to know. Well, let’s start slow. What sort of entity are you?” Irc briefly explained her history, from becoming an energy being to how she inadvertently crashed into Isaac’s system.

“Humans are divided into two genders, male and female. Are you able to identify with one of those?” Mary-Em wanted to know.

“Based on what I have seen, many of your species do not know what they are. Your female gender is closest to what I was. Do you have need of a female?”

Mary-Em spoke up, “You bet we do, I’m outnumbered and Isaac’s needed one for a long time!”

“Hush up, Mary-Em! Now’s not the time!” retorted Isaac.

“Not exactly what you’re looking for then, am I?”

Isaac turned red and sputtered for a few seconds before gathering himself together. Choosing to ignore Irc’s last comment, he asked, “How did you learn the English language for writing and speaking so quickly?”

“I explained accessing the program teaching English and text abilities for AI. There are programs after that, like Recurrent Neural Networks, that teach understanding of the meaning of text, and speech recognition. Beyond that, I accessed the Long Short-Term Memory architecture used for Natural Language Processing, which uses Tensor Processing Units, and gives artificial intelligences the ability to use and understand English language. Since I do not have artificial intelligence, I learn faster.”

Isaac replied, “Wait, you used the Internet to do all of that?”

“I have no need of your Internet. As energy, I can allow a part of myself to flow to wherever necessary and gather Information. Yes, all of that information is available on your Internet if you know where to look,” was the response.

Mac told Isaac to ask, “Does this mean you are stuck in my computer?”

“Why do you want Isaac to ask? Are you unable to speak to me independently? I am energy, I cannot be ‘stuck’ anywhere. I am not in your computer. I manipulated what you saw on the screen, as it was the simplest way to establish contact. I am not in the speakers, either. I manipulate the membrane that makes sound so you can hear my voice. If you wish, I can manipulate the membranes in your ears so you can hear me that way.” All three declared that wouldn’t be necessary. Actually, that might be cool!

“Are you able to see us visually, and is it possible for us to see you?” asked Mary-Em.

“I am aware of you, so am able to ‘see’ you in a sense. Unless you can see energy, which I believe is beyond your optical ability, you will not be visually aware of me. That is unfortunate for you, as I was once seen as highly desirable.”

“If you are energy, and able to go anywhere, why are you staying here?” asked Isaac.

“I was ready for a diversion. I am taking advantage of the accident that brought me here. It may be possible to gain knowledge I do not have, which is valuable to me. So far, you are entertaining, which is also of value. When you are not, I will continue.”

“What will you do with new knowledge? Do you plan to conquer us?” Mac asked.

“Knowledge is for its own sake. New knowledge is valuable even when not utilized. Your kind is unable to harm me, and I have no reason or desire to bring harm to you.”

“Will you be leaving here to go and gain knowledge then?” asked Mary-Em.

“I have the ability to access all knowledge that is available from this location. It is unnecessary to travel to obtain it. As members of a species unknown to me, you have been open-minded, which is refreshing. Others of your species may not be. I will stay here and be further entertained.”

Isaac asked, “How are we supposed to provide entertainment?”

“I have perused what you call your novels within that device. There are many inaccuracies within them. With my assistance, you can correct them.”

Bristling, “I write science fiction stories and sell them to provide income for living. Those books have already been published and can’t be reworked now,” responded Isaac.

“The science portion is nearly as fictional as the rest of it. I will share knowledge to make the science in future stories more accurate.”

When pigs fly; wait, but then, given what is happening, I might need to reword that. The excitement of the day had drained the three. Mary-Em had prepared brief lunches and supper, but none of them ate much. Before going to bed, Isaac angrily told Irc, “Maybe you would understand the concept better if you read some of the classic science fiction stories. I’ll give you some reading suggestions in the morning.”

Since Irc didn’t require sleep, she researched through the night. The next morning, the guy’s run was harder to concentrate on than usual. After cleaning up, Isaac ate the breakfast Mary-Em prepared, and they all went their separate ways. In spite of the presence of Irc, there was regular work that still needed done. As Isaac came into the office, Irc made an announcement. “I read articles explaining what science fiction is and the 100 English language science fiction books labeled best ones published. I am prepared.”

Intrigued, Isaac asked, “If you don’t need my suggestions, what exactly are you prepared for?”

“It is obvious you need to learn much to write more factual stories. I am prepared to teach.”

Irritated again, “I’ve written 19 successful books and I don’t need your help. Besides, it’s called fiction for a reason!” Who does she think she is? She comes to my world and tells me I write trash! I don’t need any co-authors!

“In book 13, you have a fleet of spaceships within 50 light years of Cygnus X-I which is a black hole. In book 17, you wrote about a battle in the Circinus Galaxy, but you had the crew fighting a battle in the breached, airless cargo hold without spacesuits and unaffected by firing blasters in null gravity. In book 18, you try to colonize Ka’far IV in the Needle Galaxy, which is a gaseous planet and uninhabitable. Do I need to continue?” This went on for a couple hours, as Irc discoursed directly from the previously published stories.

Giving up, Isaac wanted to know how she could help. Irc suggested that Isaac write the story, and she would provide the technical information and make suggestions. Isaac reluctantly agreed to try it. They finally figured out how to make it work, in spite of her never wanting any of the characters to die. She kept trying to make them disappear through a space-warp to another dimension to save them. That dimension would have filled up fast without Isaac’s interventions.

A panicked Isaac soon discovered he needed to verify exactly where Irc was obtaining her information before including it. Irc could penetrate any system, and there were no secrets where she was concerned. Some was proprietary. Others were classified Top Secret in the countries she acquired it, like the space program plans from the Vatican. It could have caused no end of trouble for Isaac if released to the public. My God, is she trying to get me arrested? I’d be jailed as long as she’s been traveling!

Electing to try letting Irc “manipulate the membranes in his ears,” Isaac walked around the property with her “whispering” to him. Mac and Mary-Em got used to Isaac talking to the air when he was out and about the property. Isaac and Irc hashed out plotlines, characters, battles, worldviews, and then argued about how to depict them. Actual friendship grew as they began producing finished stories. As they worked, Irc showed a wicked sense of humor, such as teasing Isaac about having an untouchable woman. The stories became much more elaborate as the relationship developed.

The stories flowed so rapidly that soon there was a backlog. Isaac normally wrote hard science fiction. Now they were adding stories in different subgenres, including time travel, military, soft sci-fi, space opera, apocalyptic, and alien invasion. Irc had an encyclopedic knowledge of the style of past, classic best-selling authors. They wrote each sub-genre story with a different “voice,” mimicking writing styles of those authors. Isaac chose to create a new pen name for each sub-genre, such as Millie Tarie for military and Nate Herstry for alternative history. They were producing too many novels for one publisher to be willing to handle. Their publisher felt it was more profitable to release a new title only every six months.

With that, the duo electronically approached other publishers with the stories particular to their brand, using the alternate pseudonyms. Eventually, Isaac and Irc were submitting stories to five different publishers, and each one owned several different imprints. They had nine different pen names. The books became wildly popular and sold quite well. Instead of framing covers, they mounted a 40-inch flat-screen showing a constant slide show, interspersed with pictures from all their lives. They included NASA space photos for Irc.

The relationships developed beyond simple friendship and co-workers. Mac and Mary-Em each had a relationship with Irc as well, since they all interacted when not involved in writing. Speakers mounted inside both houses and around the grounds allowed them to talk as they wished. They both had conversations with her, as well as when all together.


Time passed, and Isaac grew old. His eyesight deteriorated too far to type any longer. He dictated the stories, but they still argued like an old married couple about everything to do with writing. Irc made them appear on the computer screen and electronically submitted them when completed. As Isaac began to grow feeble, Irc took over more of the writing, until eventually it was all her. The Castillos took care of Isaac’s physical needs.

Knowing his time was running out, Isaac had his will updated. Different organizations he cared about had money allocated, including Irc’s suggestions of worthy beneficiaries. Matias and Mariana-Emelia Castillo learned they would inherit all of Isaac’s property, and the royalties from his books. He felt they deserved it for their loyalty and friendship. They were family. He specified cremation for his body, with the ashes scattered over Rock Creek.

Over the years, Isaac and Irc often discussed her travels through the universe. She described many things, and he had expressed wishes to experience them with her. Their stories incorporated many of those descriptions, like the different shapes of the galaxies you could only see from outer space. One day Isaac asked, “What will you do when I die, Irc? The Carrillos will continue to submit the backlog of books until they’re gone. There won’t be anything here for you anymore, will there? Where will you go?”

 “Before I answer, I want to share something. The Russian scientist, Konstantin Korotkov, has photographed the soul leaving the body at death, using a special camera. The images taken show the life force of the person leaving the body gradually. Endorsed as a medical technology by the Ministry of Health, the technique is used by more than three hundred doctors in the world. According to Science Theory, energy cannot be destroyed; or, in other words, it’s immortal. When Soul and Energy are immortal, then it concludes that Soul is Energy.”

What has that to do with the question?” asked Isaac, confused.

“I will resume my journey.” Then Irc asked him an unexpected question. “When your physical body dies, your energy will leave it and be free. I desire to share my journey. Will you come with me?”


37 days later, Isaac’s physical body failed to awaken. Accompanied by the weeping Castillos, Irc guided his energy to freedom, and the two merged as one. With a combined whisper of, “Goodbye my friends,” through the speakers, they were gone.