This is the second part of my science-fiction short story The Ten Seconds of Non-existence.

Another ear-shattering noise started in the surveillance room at the space station Marinea. As quickly as Tiny had disappeared had it also reappeared on all screens and scanners. Tiny had only been lost for ten seconds but it was enough to become the mystery of the century. For some weird reason no computer could show the location of disappearance - like as if Tiny had never been anywhere out of its preprogrammed flight path.

When Tiny approached the station it was monitored keenly for any signs or indications on what had happened. The crew - this time all of it - was defrosted again when Tiny arrived to the vicinity of the station.

The loudspeakers in the surveillance room crackled and the captain's voice was heard:

  "This is SCC Tiny's Captain Mike Margand requesting permit for docking."

  "SCC Tiny, permission granted. You may initiate docking sequence at bay 445/7."

  "Initiating docking sequence. All controls on central station computer."

Ten minutes later Mike and the rest of the commanding officers were seated in space station commander's - admiral Nakachi's - office.

  "So you claim you have no knowledge or recollection whatsoever concerning this
incident, captain Margand?"

  "Yes, sir. My report is a complete reference of the flight. Complete to
every last detail, and my crew can confirm that to the last comma and period,
sir. What reason would I have to hide any information?"

  "I see, and does any one of the rest of you wish to add or change anything in the
report submitted to me by your captain?"

  "No sir, we don't", Ryche spoke for the rest.

  "Fine. You will be submitted to a lie-detection test and you will be required to
attend a telepathic survey. This incident will not be noted on your personal
files nor your service records unless the lie-detection test or the telepathic
survey reveals contradictions with your story. Your ship's log will be
re-analyzed but we will keep it operative. You may consider yourselves as being
under probation until we have finished the investigations. You will continue in
your respective assignments but your actions will be monitored and anything
unusual or out of the ordinary will be reported to me directly. Is that understood?"

  "Yes, sir", Mike said.

  "Fine. Dismissed."



Never did any investigator find anything contradictive in the reports or the ship's log and, how could've they for everything was so delicately manipulated by an alien intelligence so superior to that of ours we may never reach their level and so, eventually, the whole incident was buried unsolved.

Somewhere in the time ribbon these aliens go on about their businesses gathering data of situations and places unimaginative to us and who knows, maybe one day they will come back and share those events with us.

To them, time is a friend and an ally while, to us, it is a simple fact of life which, inevitably and, irreversibly leads us into death and oblivion. Like a germ in one's veins we can not battle its force; we may only adjust ourselves to accept whatever it may choose to bring before us...

© 1997, 2002 Petteri Lyytinen. All rights reserved.

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