Finders Keepers - Prologue

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DISCLAIMER: This title contains coarse language and mature content. It is not suitable for readers 18 years of age or younger. 


The Northern Sphere of Eternity - CBMTrainingCenter
Milky Way's Public Unveiling: T-Minus 37 Days (Eternity Standard Time)

The last thing Donald and Danielle ever wanted was to wreck their marriage, lose their jobs, get banished from Eternity and jeopardize the Milky Way galaxy. So much for hoping. They thought they had time to slink out of trouble, but thanks to that bonehead Milo and his spectacular fuck up, The Minder of the Universe opened a can of whoopass on the entire engineering department.

            Each work crew was assigned a single jar of cosmic building material, or CBM-the core ingredient for construction throughout the Universe. In essence, it was the Universe's DNA. If not properly diluted, a single drop had enough juice to wipe out several star systems.

            Lawrence, the CBM warehouse manager, stood behind the podium. He was pissier than normal. "The first time a portion of the Universe dissolved, I thought long and hard about your very uncertain status in Eternity." Images appeared on a screen behind him-shattered moons, comet sputum and asteroids turned to dust. "I'm still thinking ..."

            Danielle grabbed her husband's thigh. She dug in.

            The second time a jar of cosmic building material accidentally spilled into the Universe, the Big Dipper almost shriveled up and died. The constellation originally consisted of more than eight thousand stars. Its current image came up on screen. "Now look at it."

            Lawrence took a moment before continuing. His disgust was palpable. "The third time a jar of CBM was improperly discharged-and for your sake, the last-it sent the Hennoid galaxy into permanent flux." Milo, the engineer on duty, got drunk at the work site, and as a shout-out to his homies, spilled his entire CBM jar into the cooling galaxy below.

            The overload induced a blast of white light. There were streaks of screaming fluorescent color. There was the sensation of being sucked through a tornado. And then there was lava. Lots and lots of lava.

            Within minutes, there was another blast of white light. There were streaks of screaming fluorescent color. There was the sensation of being sucked through a tornado. And then there were flamingos. Lots and lots of flamingos. And then another flash occurred, resulting in cold, lifeless rock. Dead moons. And so it went. The affected planets remained in flux, jumping from one state of matter to another.

            The engineering crew spent three eons trying to repair that section of the Universe, until finally they just had to wipe it clean. Permanent nothing. It became known as Milo's Smear.

            Lawrence cleared his throat. He raised his voice. "The Minder of the Universe has made a decision," he said, almost smiling. "Trust me. You won't like it." 

            Though sitting among a hundred thousand engineers, Danielle knew the warning was all about her. Her heart raced.

            The Milky Way, the glorious new galaxy with only one sun, was to be the prototype for millions more in the Universe. And the creatures that would become the dominant species on Earth-for a time, at least-were supposedly modeled after the very beings populating Eternity.

            The Milky Way's public unveiling was more than a month away, but three days earlier, during Earth's plumbing phase, Donald and Danielle took an unscheduled, unauthorized break that wound up changing their lives-and the debuting galaxy-forever.

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