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Imagine For A Moment






































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General Retail: SIC Classification 5942

(c) Noel C Bailey

First edition published by United Directory Systems UK: Bexley, Kent United Kingdom (2008)


Printed by Lulu Press Inc Morrisville North Carolina USA

Second edition published in 2015

This edition (e-Book) published 2021






























Most every book of short stories I ever read, be it Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, Agatha Christie or even Sheridan Le Fanu come to that, follow a set genre - horror, sci-fi, historical, crime, humor, whatever!

I thought I would break with tradition and publish a little book of collectively unclassifiable “short stories,” some of which were inspired by real events, others by bed-time tales I used to tell my own children and the balance, that simply wrote themselves while I wasn’t watching.


Short stories have one inarguable advantage I feel. Find yourself bored stupid midway through the first chapter of a four-hundred page work that you bought simply because you had the hots for the girl on the front cover, you’re in big trouble. It’s akin to sitting through a loser of a movie, desperately hoping it’ll get better. Never happens, does it? With the diverse smorgasboard such that Imagine For a Moment offers, you’ve always got the realistic hope that maybe the next story will do it for you.






Noel Bailey: Longmont, Colorado January 2021










































TItle Page



Preface 5


Who’s To Say? 9


Cubitus Dropped By 13


Once Upon A Childhood 22


Fly Bys 36


Funk 47


Class Rulz 56


When What To My Wondering Eyes

Should appear 62


In His Image 74






































I was asked once, "What use is a fly?.....Why, in the Infinite's great wisdom, did he create them?" I had been then tempted to reply, "What use is a human?" and in truth, there must be a myriad of advanced life-forms throughout the universe, could ponder the same question. But now, looking down upon the enquirer, an inarguably beautiful curly-haired moppet, barely out of mid-childhood, I was struck by the significance of it all.

I was a teacher in those days, working at a State High School in small-town Iowa. Perhaps with less inclination to air my views publicly in the presence of Governing Bodies, I could have held on to my earlier role as Deputy Principal at San Manaleus High near Sausalito, maybe even the top job was mine, had I put my mind....and gag, to it!

So the Spring of '81 found me atop this grassy knoll, behind the baseball square, looking over acres of swaying cornfields across from the highway, surrounded by twenty-eight vitally interactive year nines, including miss curly hair! It was the last day of term and the traditional school-picnic was underway. So too was the exhuberant behaviour. I had just called 'full-time' to an impromptu game of gridiron wherein six of the larger boys had been using one of the girls’ hockey-bags as a ball, when Callie (she, of the curly hair) popped the aforementioned question.

I studied her. Exquisite features set in a strong face, blue eyes framed by long lashes that would have been the envy of every girl at Prom Night. You couldn't buy natural innocent beauty such as this! I smiled slowly.

"Callie," I said, "Everything has a purpose....toothache, death, acne, missing the bus.....whatever! Whether or not you know that purpose, is another thing though! You asked me about `flies' ...well, let me answer you with this tale.”


“Some years ago, seems an eternity now I guess, I had the misfortune to have been sent out to Da Nang Province at the height of the Vietnam conflict. Hell, all of us knew we had no right being there, but we'd been conscripted and not one of us was about to stand up and insult the US flag by beefing about it. We had each other to look after, and for more than four months we did a damn fine job. Ed had been wounded, but I'd seen him take worse at a schoolyard beating near Fort Worth. Ricardo I'd known him years earlier on a local baseball team...he was the comedian of the group. Kept us laughing with his impressions of Nixon and John Lennon. Smithy was the quiet one - a chemical engineer before he was called up. He spent most of his time dreaming up the most God-awful biological weapons you ever saw. The enemy was better off having him in our platoon than back in a secret Pentagon laboratory, implementing his nightmarish concepts.

Aussie Jack was my best friend, born in Sydney, Australia. His father was Texan, and he'd come home when he was twelve.....took a hell of a ribbing over his accent, till he lost it round about Boot Camp. Then there was 'Long' John, one-time cook who worked at a roadside diner on the Boulder Highway out near 'Vegas. Must have been six foot seven, if his burgers weren't so damn good, any basketball promoter would have signed him up.

Lastly, it was my great privilege to know Simon, who came to be known as ‘Weasel' This guy was good. He had the ability to crawl within fifty yards of an enemy encampment without being detected. He had developed an unequalled knowledge of trip-wires and land-mines and was responsible for getting us to pole-position in so many operations. It was rumored that the 'Cong had a hundred grand price on his head. Gives you some idea of his value to us groundies.

Late '69, Base-Command had us moving in on a ‘Cong stronghold at Muang, less than 100 miles from the Laos border. Two Marine battalions had been wiped out by guerillas in the area, our enemy-warning system having no indication of their presence there. We were dropped in by chopper and dug-in for the first night or so.

Long John had made Captain and Ricardo Second-in-Command. Drenching rain made progress slow and difficult, so none of us spoke much, but I guess we all had our minds on the job in front of us. ‘Weasel’ was sent on ahead to spy out the territory and we made maximum gains during the next twenty four hours. Round about this time I had a bad feeling about the operation. Don't ask me why, we'd been on a hundred such missions before, but I remember asking Ed one night if he ever regretted not having gotten married earlier - he'd looked right back at me and said, "Plenty of time for that ol' buddy.....plenty of time!"


Shortly after dawn the next morning, 'Weasel' brought news that the ‘Cong camp was no more than a mile to the north east. We checked our equipment, took a quick briefing from Long John and headed off. Base Command had promised all of us a two month furlough if this was pulled off successfully. We crawled up to the perimeter of the camp, 'Weasel' having by-passed several of the outer trip-wires, and took inventory of enemy numbers. There must have been twenty or so!

Fanning outwards, we covered the encampment from a three-sixty degree vantage point, and on Long John's signal, let rip with everything we had. Half of the guerillas were dead before they even knew where to shoot. The ‘Cong managed to fire off three or four mortars, and both Ricardo and Smithy were slightly wounded by shrapnel...other than that, it was over in less than five minutes.

After securing the area, Long John called us down. He had kept a couple of Budweisers in his kit, as well as a rolled-up flag which he now unfurled and jammed fast into the roof of the ‘Cong's hut.

"Bastards" he said, tears of utter emotion running down his cheeks - "You think you can stand up against the power of this?" He leaped down.

"C'mon in boys - have a drink to a job well done."

Everyone filed in behind Long John, I was furthest back having taken top tree position. Just twenty yards from the cabin, the biggest damn blowfly you ever saw flew straight into my left eye. In surprise and pain, I dropped to my knees. Less than a second later the explosion tore the roof off the hut. It would have decapitated me if I had been standing. Heat from the blast hurled me back into the jungle but otherwise I was uninjured.

As I sat there crying, I knew ‘Weasel’ was around somewhere cursing the fact he'd missed one last booby-trap. All but Aussie Jack were dead. He died in my arms within ten minutes, leaving me no answers, but so many questions.


But for you Callie, you have your answer don't you?"



















































Not everyone was sleeping in Tamarind. As the first rays of dawn swept the canyoned streets, shepherding the darkness westwards towards its inevitable twelve hours or so of enforced exile, a creature was stirring and it wasn't a mouse!

Kevin was awake! Home, was an '88 Lite Ace with bile-green trim, puke stains and a welcome mat. He didn't get out much these days, being legless - the result of an attempted field-goal with a live hand grenade, during a stint in 'Nam as a cook. He was of the happy-go-lucky nomadic mould, never concerned about the weather, politics, the Dow-Jones Index, or even the cross-eyed German shepherd which shared the van with him. So long as those street kids didn't bother him to clean the windshield, he was at peace with humanity. On this day however, Kevin was to save the world, although as he struggled upright in the front seat, ran his nicotine-tinged fingers through his receding hairline and observed in the rear view mirror, a rat's tail disappearing down through the hole where once sat a pair of two-fifty watt sub-woofers, this eventuality had not presented itself as a real likelihood.

He turned his head as the sixty-storey office block across the street imploded, causing small eddies of dust to float across his windshield but not much else. "Shame about the window-cleaners," he thought aloud, as a couple of buckets rolled into the gutter nearby.

The delicatessen, chinese restaurant, Citibank office and theater complex were the next to be vaporised - not forty feet from where he sat. Again, it was intriguingly accomplished. Hardly any mess, just a neat pile of fused rubble, ready to be loaded on to a few trucks. The image of Oddjob in Goldfinger, driving away with the compressed Lincoln in the back of his cab, sprang to mind.

It took the destruction of the football stadium on the next block to get his full attention. Opening the van door, he lowered the wooden ramp to the sidewalk enabling him to slide down out safely of the vehicle. As he steadied himself, a colossal craft, substantially wider than the triple-laned roadway, settled almost noislessly ahead of him.

"So that's what this is all about" he thought to himself, "They've got nowhere to park!"


His first impressions as he stared at the alien ship, motionless except for a couple of street lamps swinging unevenly where they had been caught-up in the landing gear, was of a mutated cockroach. It seemed even to have an outside 'skin' or carapace. As he watched nonchalantly, there being really no other way to look at it as far as he was concerned, a portal appeared at the nearside edge and through it stepped or rather flowed, a being, short of stature and positively wispy in constitution. It appeared to be struggling to propel itself under Earth's gravity. He watched as an appendage - how else would you describe a gelatinous arm?- fiddled with what looked like a miniature ‘notepad’ attached to the upper part of its body. At a distance of some twenty feet, the thing's outline shimmered and was swiftly replaced by an instantly recognizable form, right down to the sideburns, tight pants and guitar.

"Greetings y'all, I come in peace. The Lord is my Shepherd, Don't be Cruel....and puh'lease, don't step on ma blue-suede boots!" uttered the newcomer in a failed mastery of a southern accent.

"You mean 'shoes' don't you?" said Kevin, not entirely convinced he was fronting the genuine article.

"Shoes, boots, what difference?" added the familiar figure, strumming a few notes as if to engender a feeling of bonhommie, "I'm back, that's all that matters."

"So you're Elvis?" mused Kevin, "What was your biggest hit?"

"It's now or Never," replied the other. “Satisfied?"

"What was on the flip-side of ‘His Latest Flame?’ Kevin probed further.

"Lordy, how can I remember?" retorted the newcomer running his fingers through his hair. Kevin noticed that his scalp didn't look quite right and rippled oddly around his forehead, directly beneath the jet-black kiss-curl.

"Little Sister,’ he added, "that's it, ‘Little Sister'.....anything else?"

Kevin thought hard for a moment.

"What was your twin brother's name then?"

"Twin brother?" said the other. "Hell I never had no twin brother."

"Yeah? so who and what are you then?" demanded Kevin, hunched almost imperiously over some fallen masonry.

The other stared back at him quizzically.


"You mean he did have a twin brother?" the figure looked crestfallen, "Our databank does not record that information!"

Kevin noticed that the fake accent had been replaced by a flat nasal Aussie twang now.

"So why are you decked out like that?" he enquired.

"We like to set the local inhabitants at ease," replied the being, "Taking on the appearance of a well-known planetary identity usually works," he added, "Would you rather this?" Again he pressed various quadrants on the touch-screen of his ‘form adaptor’ returning instantly to the transluscent shape Kevin saw emerge from the craft earlier.

"Mmsgghth Ynllan shrrk imdo hrtunnsum yygh" emanated from the being's "head."

"Could you re-phrase that?" said Kevin dryly.

The figure tapped in a few commands, reconstituting himself as a Parking Police Officer.

"Sorry, that's the problem with our moleculiser,” the visitor continued. “If we do not adopt human form, we cannot communicate in your language. You're wondering why we came?"

"It had occurred to me," said Kevin. "You just destroyed several buildings, a high-rise and a sports complex. You probably killed several hundred early-morning workers."

"But there are billions on this planet," said the Officer, "does it really matter?"

Kevin thought for a moment. He was probably right. Certainly none of them were his friends - what did it matter when you came to think of it?

He noticed that the other was beginning to scribble on what looked like a small pad.

"What are you doing there?" he asked.

"Writing out a ticket," said the other, "Your vehicle is unregistered and parked on a public street - just doing my job y'know!"

Kevin was outraged. "Yeah? and what about your heap of intergalactic junk - illegally parked across the entire street? You going to book that too?”

"No need to be aggressive human," said the visitor. "I think if you knew the fire-power of that craft, you'd show a little more respect. Choose your words a little more carefully. Maybe even apologise for your inappropriate attitude here?" He handed Kevin the ticket, "Now, where were we?"

"You were about to tell me why you came," said Kevin undaunted.

"Well, it was an unplanned stopover actually," said the visitor, "We were en-route to the Xanthes System - you probably have never heard of it. It is only accessible by harnessing the connective anti-matter pulse waves of former binary black holes, within a fifty light-year radius, when our ship was dislodged off-course by a star turning supernova less than twenty million miles off our port side. Our shields deflected most of the shock-waves, but to maintain them we had to exhaust our supplies of hydraxine compound. Earth has it in abundance, it being sourceable from your own atmosphere. You don't even know it!"

"Big deal" thought Kevin to himself, "They don't even know that Elvis had a twin brother!"

"So why destroy all these buildings? asked Kevin accusingly, "Why not land in a desert somewhere? a jungle? Why the middle of a city?"

"That craft" said the visitor, deccelerates from twice the speed of light to under two thousand miles an hour in less than fifty nanoseconds. Not a great deal of time to make a precision landing you'd agree. We did what we could, OK?"

Kevin remained unmoved by this explanation.

"This Hydraxine you mentioned, how much do you need then?"

"Well, according to our calculations," replied the other, "Earth's prevailing atmosphere globally, will just about be sufficient. We need only the oxygen and free nitrogen present," he added matter-of-factly.

"Leaving us what exactly?" put in Kevin, "a few gasps of freon, carbon dioxide, neon and carbon monoxide, if we're lucky? Sorry, we need our atmosphere - that's how we breathe and stay alive!"

"We know that!" retorted the other, "but unfortunately, our need is greater than the perpetuance of your species, or to put it more succinctly, our intellect vastly outstrips the best this planet has to offer. Look at it this way. There'll be no more wars, famine, disease, episodes of America’s Favorite Home Videos to put up with. You won't feel a thing - just uninterrupted sleep! Now, I must leave and supervise the extraction process. This conversation can serve no further purpose, please return to your vehicle and by the way, is that your creature?"

Kevin turned around. Raz, as the shepherd was called, was sitting with his paws out of the back window.


"Yeah! that's my animal. We call it a 'dog' .......why?"

"It doesn't look like it's registered either," said the other. "You'd better do something about that!"

Kevin's brows tightened, he called out to the retreating figure,

"OK, you win, but do me just one favor. I've always wanted to see the inside of a UFO as we call them, would you allow me aboard....just for a few minutes. If I'm going to die with the rest of the planet, at least humor my inquisitiveness?"

The extra-terrestrial looked amused.

"If you can get yourself over here, I'll grant your request."

Kevin swung himself expertly on his stumps and covered the distance to the ship in less than a minute. Close-to, the craft seemed even more insect like. The 'carapace' appeared to be of some organic matter which was unpleasantly yielding to his touch. As he approached the portal, he could see no physical means by which access might be gained, since the opening was at least three metres above ground level. He paused, and the visitor looked down at him.

"To effect entry, you must link telepathically with the control and guidance system. Since it cannot recognise your primitive humanoid voice-wave imprint, I will do it for you. To do this, I must assume my natural form however......please stand by."

Again, depressing the touch-screen at his chest, his shape dissolved into its primary form, the colors at such close range, intriguing yet disturbing in their alien conformity. A few seconds passed before Kevin found himself rising above the sidewalk and within moments, abreast of the entrance itself, which he could now see towering above him.

"Hell of a tractor beam," he thought aloud, as he eased himself into the ship by way of an unnaturally cold metallic floorway. Looking about, he noticed the inside of the craft to be roughly ovoid in shape and about the size of a baseball pitch, including a good percentage of the outfield!

He could not detect anything which looked remotely like a control unit or instrument panel. Indeed, the inner ‘wall' appeared to be composed of the same ridged organic matter as the exterior. It appeared though to be `pulsing' at various points, giving the disturbing impression of a breathing leviathan. The visitor he noted, was some thirty yards distant, communicating with another like being. As he watched, a huge 'screen' appeared in the wall behind them, upon which rows of constantly changing numbers and symbols flashed laterally. It bequeathed Kevin the impression of an outsize 'test-pattern' you might see at an IMAX theater.

"Is this what you were expecting?" enquired his host, having taken on the appearance of a construction worker, complete with hard-hat. Kevin momentarily had fears that he was about to witness an impromptu performance of In the Navy, but answered,

"Can't say that it is, no," then feeling obliged somehow to expand upon this statement added, "As a matter of fact, I was expecting more flashing lights, gangways, control panels and banks of computer hardware!"

"Gangways?" retorted the other, leaving the impression of one insulted to the core. "This is no interstellar warship, it has no 'bridge,' no Captain Kirk to save you, and not a solitary pointed ear in sight. You have been conditioned my friend, shaped and programmed by your environment as surely as the sun will shortly be setting for the last time on humanity."

Kevin propelled himself towards the huge display panel. The other being stood his ground.

"Is this the guidance system you spoke of earlier?" Kevin enquired of his host casually.

"It is the Cubitus, yes," came the reply, "It has infinite knowledge of star systems, full navigational control and is the ultimate power source."

"But still it seems, without this Hydraxine....it's stuffed," interjected Kevin.

"Speak irreverently of the Cubitus at extreme risk to yourself," remarked the other.

"I thought your system could not recognise human speech-patterns" said Kevin enquiringly.

"The Cubitus is more than a guidance system - it has all knowledge and in here, your every thought is able to be interpreted, processed and if neccessary - altered!"

"How many of you are there in this ship?" enquired Kevin, changing the subject.

"More than fifty," replied the other, "but you cannot see them, they are in molecular dissociation and remain stored in the cyclorex tissue - the inner-wall medium you see around you. Only two of us are required to remain in synthesised state until we reach our ultimate destination, in this case Xanthes!" Retreating a couple of paces, he turned to Kevin.

"Now, we must commence the extraction program - it will take close to forty-eight hours of Earth time. You must leave now - your last request has been granted - goodbye human!"

As he spoke, his form returned to normal and Kevin heard the faintest echo of condescending laughter.

Concentrating now, eyes closed, Kevin focused his thoughts on Cubitus. He started with a series of primary numbers and was immediately aware of a response. Cubitus emanated its own string of binary code which to most others would be meaningless, but Kevin's advanced program skills absorbed the data-flow and enabled him to repond. The effort required was enormous, and sweat ran in rivulets down his unshaven cheeks.

Cubitus was fascinated. No single entity had ever provided such stimulating thought-control patterns. Questions were answered and information flowed both ways.

Immediately, Kevin was aware of the extra-terrestrial's presence beside him - now the image of Leslie Nielsen in Forbidden Planet.

"What are you doing human? - you were told to leave this ship. You dare to try and interface with Cubitus?" Kevin sensed he was distinctly rattled!

"Extraction countdown has now commenced," intoned the other, "All oxygen and nitrogen molecules within a five hundred mile radius of this ship, will be absorbed within thirty seconds, expanding then outwards at twenty quadrants an hour. Your time is up human!"

"You could be in error there Zhasti my friend," muttered Kevin, turning now and heading for the rear portal, "Or to put it another way.....Huynworg myf iqadrst f jxxpuqqi."

Both life-forms stared at each other, if you could accurately classify it as 'staring ' ...one having no identifiable "eye."

"You know my name, you speak my language? How is this so?" called Zhasti across the cavernous chamber to Kevin, now positioning himself at the portal for descent to the sidewalk below.

"I'm a quick learner," he replied, "and by the way, don't bother Cubitus for a decade or two, he's going to be tied up for a while. He has worked out some new co-ordinates for you though - deep within the Andromeda Cluster. There's several planetary systems there that can provide your Hydraxine compound without destruction of life-forms. You should make it with hours to spare."


"Cubitus tied up?...impossible!" sneered Zhasti, his form wavering around the edges. "He is infinitely-functional human, there is nothing he does not know. You lie!”

"There is just one thing, my intergalactic predator," smiled Kevin, "He does not know the full value of 'Pi'....however, by the time you reach Andromeda, Cubitus will have more information on that subject than anything or anyone before him. Until then, his knowledge remains incomplete and he is not the omnipotent creation he has been led, or has led himself to believe!" A reverberation filled the craft.

"Time now for you to leave Zhasti," he called out. "Have a nice trip and don't forget - keep your pseudopods inside the craft at all times!"

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