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Three Excerpts From

You Cannot
From Yourself
Brian W. Porter

Book Copyright (c) 2009 by Brian W. Porter

All rights reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-557-16478-3

Darryl Whitherspoon
This city is huge! Imagine the area of Manhattan in the City of New
York, with all the buildin's, businesses, and people that area contains.
Now add a bit to the length and width, and then rotate it on its long axis
so it's as deep as it is wide. Inside this fifteen mile long and six mile
diameter area is a volume of over four hundred twenty-five cubic miles
filled with walls and floors to make large and small areas, and even with
a quarter mile wall between us and the outside we have more than
enough room.
I needed the escort that first mornin'. The main warehouse, one of a
series of holds each a quarter mile square and about forty feet high, three
quarters or more filled with empty shelves and pallet racks, opened onto
the shuttle bay, a good sized cavern by itself. The bay connected to the
outside through a tunnel protected by a series of large composite, double
doors along the access tunnel. While the shuttle bay was open to space,
the doors were closed and the air inside was stored in a nearby cavern.
After the shuttles had traveled through the quarter mile long tunnel, the
doors closed, the shuttle bay was pressurized, and the warehouse doors
opened. We could then quickly unload the cargo and pass it into the
main warehouse, freein' the shuttle to leave as we stored the freight or
moved it elsewhere if necessary.
I inspected everythin', thinkin' I needed some form of transportation
just for the inside the main warehouse. I had so much room; spare
electronics filled only half of one area and I didn't know where to start. I
watched as the crew that had worked the holds for the past three months
unloaded and checked more supplies. One corner held forklifts and
electric trucks used to move stock around and deliver goods to various
parts of the ship. One electric tractor had five small trailers attached to
it. I could still play at truckin', makin' deliveries of small items and
personal goods.
Salina, who had come up only hours after I did, joined me as I
inspected the clamps and doors of the storage units after lunch, askin' so
many questions I was surprised I knew the answers.
After the mornin's tour, durin' which I pointed out several problems,
and the afternoon wander with that gorgeous creature walkin' next to
me, I retreated to my office and began by assignin' each department an
area, or sometimes a whole hold. School storage was first, and close to
the office. I definitely wanted to get to know Salina much better.
Over the next couple of weeks, we began to receive monster pieces
of equipment, parts of huge machines used to make anythin' we needed.
I wouldn't need as much storage area as I thought for specialty items, so
I enlarged the open areas at each warehouse entrance. Lifters that
worked against the artificial gravity made movin' large objects much
easier than I had imagined, and as long as you kept your speed down a
finger would move most items, however large they were. You just had to
remember that all that mass you had when the item sat on the floor was
still there to turn and stop--or to crush things like fingers and toes and
I kept up with what arrived, the job provin' easier than I imagined.
After dinner, I'd ride the electric tractor back to my quarters trailin' a
train of personal goods that I delivered to the cabins, or apartments as
most people called them. I felt as if I was in truckin' again, visitin' the
different receivers, but without the constant pressure, a good end to the
After a few weeks, the dinin' area and corridors filled with people
and the constant hum of conversation, mostly about technical problems
if you focused hard enough to distinguish between the individual voices.
I managed to sit with Salina several times durin' meals, but I enjoyed the
time in the warehouse most.
One morning Salina ran into my office late, unusual for her, yellin',
"Finally! Data streams!" She'd been stackin' paper and computer optical
storage for the past three weeks, organizin' and reorganizin' the area as
much as possible, but mostly just keepin' busy.
She called to me, "Now we're starting to get information so we can
teach. I have to go to the school area and start burning the data onto the
permanent storage. It's about time."
I asked, "Families are due next week, right, at least for those here
"That's when they start, and we should have almost everyone by the
time next year starts. Serge and the rest of the teachers will be here in
three weeks after the school year ends, and that'll take a load off me.
You'll like Serge."
"I hope. You'd better get busy or you'll never catch up."


Andrew Lientary
For more than a month I studied how to operate a space suit, how to
use tools designed for weightless conditions, weightless environment
safety, and the ins and outs of all the specialized machinery used in our
new city. The six weeks of intensive training I had to endure was pure
hell, but when compared to the trip up, those six weeks were a vacation.
Two buses took us to the launch pad at Orseno Point where we slipped
into acceleration suits. The powers-that-be, in their infinite wisdom, had
assigned us to one of the new shuttles on its first run, the shakedown
cruise. Of course they kept finding things wrong, I mean that's what a
shakedown is for, and why you don't have passengers. Three trips back
to the prep room, then back on board after the engineers had fixed the
problem, proved it. When they found a problem, we'd elevator from the
cabin to the ground and board buses for the trip back to the ready room.
There we'd undress, wait a time playing cards or watching some idiot
show, dress again when they declared it safe, and go back to the shuttle
to take our seats again. We did that three times before we finally flew!
The shaking at launch was atrocious, and I swore that if no one else did I
was going to find a better way of moving the thing around before we
used it to explore planets.
When we finally arrived at the city, three of the clamps didn't line
up properly. Since I was the only maintenance supervisor on that run, I
went forward and made a drawing of the problem before anyone moved
or the hatch opened. A cute tech, young and fresh and very male, and
unfortunately leaving in a week, led us along a long corridor from
personnel dock 'L', the closest point to the residential area, to our rooms,
or apartments as he called them.
The family section, which we passed first, was a large
neighborhood of corridors colored a faded sort of red, sort of a large
apartment building, with three parks for recreation included in the
building, and several common dining rooms that should feel like
restaurants. Two childless families had come up, plus one partial family
who was joining those already here. They were the first full families to
arrive, and proud of it. I couldn't see why that would make them any
more special than anyone else, but it must be the same reason why being
the first to push the aborigines out makes some Americans feel special.
Seven single men, all older and self contained, found their way to family
quarters, the rest of their family to follow when groundside school
Several of us walked on to the single's area, designated by yellow
corridors. This also had a park inside the apartment building, but not as
open as the family parks. There were more hidden areas where people
could meet and feel private. One of the other guys in the single's area
hadn't made the trip well. Possibly he hadn't taken the pills handed out
by the medics, or maybe he had and they hadn't worked. He was good
looking, and I hoped we'd meet more privately than on the shuttle in a
few days, and that he'd be interested. Maybe tonight at dinner I'd get
lucky, find a guy and get rid of my hornies. Then when Salina came up
I'd be able to tell her I'd found a friend. Then I remembered, she was
already here. I'd have to find her.
I dumped my travel bags on the floor and looked around the room.
The galley was on one of the long walls, a compact area that included a
small fridge, a radar and infrared oven, a sink, and several cabinets that I
found well stocked with cups and glasses and plates and bowls and
utensils. On the other long wall the large flat screen built into the wall
showed a picture of what was outside, plus several smaller screens were
hanging like pictures. One narrow area had my bed screened off from
the rest of the room. The other wall had a desk against it, larger than
anything I would need. On the desk were several printouts and the
computer, already loaded with city maps and other friendly programs. I
had studied as much of the ship as possible while I was on the ground,
but I had to learn how to reach maintenance by the fastest route. Who
knew when an emergency would arrive? After all, I was in the running
for Shift Super.
"Andrew Lientary? Communications," a voice announced.
There wasn't supposed to be anyone here. I had used my palm print
to unlock the door, so the room should be empty, right? But I hadn't.
Anyone could have come in through the unlocked door, but I could see
everywhere except the bathroom, and I knew that was empty. So where
did the voice come from? The summons repeated and I answered,
"Who's here? Where are you?"
"It's the communicator. I'm Seth McGonical, Construction Manager.
Glad you're finally here. I would like to see you as soon as possible."
It was the phone system, what passed for the phone system.
Somebody had watched Science Fiction and decided some of the ideas,
including this one, were good.
"Communications? I'll get used to it. Might as well get started. How
can I find you?"
"Just say the name of the person you want to contact and the system
will find them, usually. For this, I'll have an escort at your door in five
minutes. We don't want you lost on your first day."
I chuckled at the thought. It had happened several times in school.
"Nice of you. I'll be ready."


Manuel Rodrigus
When we started advertising for unskilled labor two years into the
project, lumpers seemed to come out of the woodwork like roaches, or
maybe rats. It seemed the never-ending list of applicants continued to
grow faster than I could weed out the scumbags. I had to search not only
for violent behavior and dishonesty, but for those filing false reports to
hide their faults. Hardest of all were the pathological liars, who had lied
for so long the records looked like truth. Many times on the road the
data line was dial-up, which meant molasses moved faster than the
ferrets from my computer. It was worse than police work since there
were too many prospectives scattered around for me to meet anyone
other than supervisors face to face. At least when I was a detective, and
when I was vetting the supervisors, I could look people in the eye. I
could tell who I was dealing with, and I didn't bother the good folk.
Here and now, if the pathos weren't too smart, I could ferret out the
conflicting areas of their stories. Some of them were good, though, and I
really had to dig to find the inconsistencies. No way did I want con-men,
and thieves, and sadists, and rapists, and addicts, and stalkers going for a
free ride on my city.
Slowly, after more than three years of hard work, a list of young,
strong men and women, with and without families, began to form, and
during the last few months of personnel exchange they were all shipped
to the city.
When I finally finished my personnel officer duties five months
after the first people went aboard, I celebrated for a night. I hired an
exclusive and very expensive prostitute, commercial company as Darryl
called it, and got totally drunk. My hangover didn't help on the trip up to
the city. I was miserable, space sick during the weightlessness and ready
to die, along with one hundred fifty others on one of the new space
planes. I felt as sick as Darryl had said he felt, and I've developed a
strong stomach over the years looking at the product of the scum of the
earth. A feeling of relief from leaving the rat race helped me recover
quickly, though, once I hit gravity again. I felt pretty good when I
stepped aboard my new home.
A cute young lady I estimated to be fifteen years old, about five six,
thin, with purple hair cut in a shag, and wearing painted-on jeans and a
too small halter, met us at the door, obviously make work for a bored
"Hi! I'm Amanda," she told us with the typical teenager's
overabundance of enthusiasm. "You all will just love this place. It's just
the dream! If you'll follow me, I'll get you to your proper apartments.
Come on."
We followed Amanda through long tan corridors wide enough for
fifteen people to walk abreast, with towering ceilings and surfaces that
reflected the shapes moving past. We passed huge doors spaced far apart
interspersed with people sized doors almost like the industrial section of
some cities. Eventually we reached a place of gold where the doors were
closer together and all were people sized, much like a motel or
apartment building.
When we reached yellow walls, Amanda stopped. “The areas are all
color coded so they’re easy to find. Every corner has a map and
communicator in case you get lost. This is the Single’s digs.“ She
deposited a few single persons along the three yellow corridors,
counting off different doors as she read from a list. We moved on past
another gold area of two long corridors, which she explained held public
areas like eateries and parks, to an area of muted, almost transparent red.
When they were told, families moved down the corridors visibly
counting their way to their new apartments. Finally, I was the only
person left from the group.
Amanda asked, "Who are you?”
"Manuel Rodrigus.”
“I already told all the single people where they lived." She was
obviously puzzled. No one else should be on her list and she should be
free, possibly forever.
I took her statement at face value, and, as she ran her finger along
the list of names, I answered, "No, there are still about one hundred
single people yet to arrive, and still a lot of families, but soon everyone
will be onboard."
She muttered my name as she looked at her list. "Oh, you're the
Cop." She made cop sound disgusting, an attitude that many young
people shared no matter where they came from, an attitude that would
change over the next few years, I hoped.
She groused, "Come on. You're over in the blue section."
She led me along a side corridor until the color of the walls changed
to a light, almost a powder blue. "This is where the bigwigs live. Here's
you. Dinner is served in three hours at the cafeteria one corridor over in
the gold section. I'm sure you'll meet people then. Instructions and a
map are in your apartment."
She showed me where to place my hand to open the door, just a
faint outline on the wall to the right of the opening. A wide area with a
small electric car something like a golf cart was less than a meter away,
parked there for easy access.
I placed my hand on the almost invisible form and watched as the
door slid into the wall. Now the apartment was keyed to my hand print
from what I remembered and, I learned later, the electric car, also. I
could add other persons, but for now I could work and sleep in peace.
I watched Amanda run off along the corridor toward the yellow area
happy to get away from authority. Hopefully, in time, we would change
from "cops" to "our cops" in the public's view, but that was something
that wouldn't change overnight.
Inside I found a beige room with no windows, some artwork
mounted on the walls, a small table and chairs to my left, and possibly a
radar oven, sink, and refrigerator built into one wall. Several brochures,
printed on glossy paper and neatly folded, lay on the table. Ahead of me
was a living area with a couple of chairs and a love seat, and a
something like a monitor that mounted flat onto the wall. Closer
inspection revealed the screen was mounted into the wall, a detail I
didn't expect. None of the spaceships I remembered from stories and
movies had that much extra room. Possibly the sound insulation would
be adequate. One door led to a bedroom, and another led to a shower
and facilities area, a bathroom without the bath. It was all brand
spanking new and unused. Not bad for a single cop, especially on a
Inside the fridge was bottled water, and room for other items. I
opened a bottled water and studied the map. My office, and closer to my
apartment a pool, a recreation center, a gym, and a large park were
circled. The farming and manufacturing areas, the hospital, and the local
cafeteria were shown on different levels.
A small paper lying next to the map said that to use the
communications system all I had to do was speak "communications,"
say who I wanted, and I'd be connected. When I was finished, I'd say
"Out." These highly original orders lead me to believe that someone had
watched a lot of early Science Fiction movies.
I decided to give the communications system a shot, and called,
"Communications. How may I direct you?"
That was definitely a female voice, a hot female voice, and I
experimented further. "Officer of the Day, please."
"Ship's Officer or Security?"
Within five seconds a bored male voice droned, "Security."
"This is Rodrigus. Who's on duty?"
The same voice alertly answered, "Just a moment, Sir." I definitely
woke him up and let him know the boss had arrived. A different voice
said, "Nancy McCracken. How may I help you?"
I remembered Nancy from interviewing her. She was good looking,
medium build, hard body, brunette, smart, healthy, and well versed in
several types of personal combat. Her experience with police work and
security was exceptional. She just had trouble staying at one precinct for
more than a few months, and at a department for more than a year. Her
problem was not her work performance; she always got high praise. She
just liked to have sex at any time and at any place that anyone else was
willing, whether public or not.
That would not be a problem here. In fact, I planned to make use of
her unnatural libido. But for now it was time to kick ass.
I ordered, "Wake up the person answering the phone."
Apparently she didn't recognize my voice, or appreciate my tone of
"Excuse me? Your name doesn't appear on my ID board. You are?"
"Manuel Rodrigus, and you had better know that name. I just
arrived and I want someone here now to show me around and explain
what goes on. Not you; you have more important duties, like
reprimanding those who are not awake on the job."
"Yes, Sir," came crisply through the speaker, wherever that was. She
knew who I was now, that was for sure.
Her earlier statement raised a question about security on board. If
my people didn't know who arrived as they came in, then how would we
keep out stowaways, or the saboteurs and extremists? Checking
clearances groundside was fine, but those people would take bribes. I
had to know the system, who did what, and make any necessary changes
I asked, "How long does it take for you to learn who's here?"
"Oh, we don't keep track of arrivals. The ground screens them.
Communications gives us an ID and location when people call. That
yours didn't show is an unusual occurrence."
It dawned on me that my ID was blocked to those I called, which is
the true reason she hadn't known who was calling. That could work in
my favor, but right now I had a problem, and one easily fixed right now.
"Those on the ground can be bribed, or screw up. I want every
person already aboard checked to make sure they belong here. And I
want all those coming in to be double-checked before they leave the
shuttle. I don't want no stowaways or subversives on board my city, got
"Yes, Sir!"
"Good. Dispatch someone to show me around, now. Out." I smiled.
The word would spread quickly that the boss had arrived and was in the
mood for rolling heads.
I studied the map while I waited for my tour guide, wondering what
should be first on my list, and thinking I should talk to maintenance. I
could feel a vibration, very faint, so faint it didn't even cause ripples in
my water, but it was there. I decided to wait until later since I needed a
quick trip to the head before my guide showed.
While I was in the bathroom, I checked out the shower. A three by
six area with a shower-head next to the access, and nothing to close it
off from the rest of the room. We'd have to see how that worked later. I
could hear the vibration now, too quick to call a throbbing, but really too
slow for a true vibration.
Whatever it was, it was getting on my nerves. I'd definitely have to
talk to maintenance.


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Other short stories, essays, and poetry from this author are available at

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