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THE GHOST PLANET

By ... Steve Lucky

CHAPTER THREE

For Peter, that moment in time seemed to last for ages. He remembered every detail of what might have been the last moment in his life. Vondwin watched with great delight as Lisa put the gun to Peter's head. His only regret was that he wouldn't get to kill them, but Lisa had earned the honor. She put her finger on the trigger as time stopped moving for a brief instant.

TIME : 7:32 A.M.
PLACE : In the middle of the deserted city

Needless to say, the Lisa that had accompanied Linda, Peter, and Hank was an imposture She managed to take Lisa's place in all the confusion with the attack on Peter. The real Lisa had journeyed into the center of the city.

She once again had the feeling that some "ghosts" were watching her, but she somehow sensed that the ghosts were friendly and would do her no harm. Calling out to any scientists who might have been trapped in the earthquake, she continued to roam about the city unaware that something else was following her.

"Lisa!" a voice called out from behind her. It was the other imposture who Lisa thought to be Peter. He was wearing a gas mask, but she didn't think much about it.

"Am I ever glad to see you," she started, but before she could finish, he threw some kind of bottle at her.

It was a very accurate throw. The bottle broke right beside Lisa's feet.

A blue mist came out of the bottle instantly consuming her. She thought briefly about running away, but her desire to sleep was too powerful. She knew that all she had to do was lie down and she wouldn't have to worry about anything else ever again. Within ten seconds, she was asleep.

The phony Peter danced with delight. The plan had worked. All he had to do was take her back to the computer room and reprogram her and Vondwin and the Ruler would have a very valuable ally. Her will would be totally destroyed.

He picked her up and started to carry her. Suddenly, he heard weird noises. A clanging sound emanated from all directions. The "ghosts" were tired of haunting; they were ready to attack. The clanging sound grew louder as the voices began to moan. He couldn't think clearly anymore. He had to get away. The phony Peter dropped Lisa and ran away as fast as he could fearing for his life. Lisa lay there unconscious, unable to protect herself from the figure who came up to her and carried her away.

TIME : 8:45 A.M.
PLACE : Inside a cave on Alpha Memory

Lisa finally woke up in a small cave illuminated by a campfire burning steadily in the center. Besides herself, the only person in the room was a small boy about eight years old. He didn't seem to notice she was awake. Quietly facing the campfire with his back to her, he just broke off small pieces of a stick he was holding and tossed them into the fire.

Lisa looked down at herself and saw the M.W.G.D. badge on the uniform she was wearing. She fumbled with it absently wondering what it was for. At last, the boy turned around and saw her. He approached her slowly and cautiously so she wouldn't be frightened.

"Hello," he smiled in a friendly way. "My name is Codin. What's yours."

"I-I don't remember," she stuttered. The more she tried to recall you she was, the fuzzier things became. She was about to give up when she glanced down at the name printed on the badge she was wearing.

"Lisa," she guessed hesitantly. She wasn't completely she that was her name, but it sounded right.

"Glad to meet you, Lisa," Codin replied shaking hands with her. "We are the survivors. We found you knocked out and being carried by someone, so we scared him off and brought you back here. Do you work for M.W.G.D.?"

Another question Lisa wasn't ready to answer.

"I don't know," Lisa explained. "I seem to have lost my memory."

"Why don't you come with me to the tribe meeting?" suggested Codin. "Perhaps the elders will be able to help you. Follow me!"

Lisa followed him through a secret entrance in the far side of the cave. It led to another room, much bigger than the previous one, lit with electric lights. At the center, a group of elderly adults were involved in some kind of meeting. When they saw Lisa, they asked her to join them. Lisa turned to Codin for support.

"I'm afraid children aren't allowed to take part in The Conference of the Elders. You'll have to join them alone."

Lisa said good bye to Codin who immediately ran out of the cave to play. Then, seeing no other choice, Lisa joined the Conference of the Elders. They were all glad to see her up and moving about. They each looked well beyond fifty years of age and wore clothing, sowed by hand, that was falling apart after years of everyday use.

Lisa sat down at the end of the table closet to the door. That spot was obviously reserved for guests. At the other end was an old man and his wife, the leaders of the tribe. They were even older than the others, at least in their nineties, yet they were in perfect health, not even crippled from their many years of living.

"Who are you?" asked Lisa.

Although she had lost her memory, she was pretty sure she had never seen them before.

"We are the survivors of the holocaust," one of the elders began. "We chose to remain on Alpha Memory because it is where we've lived our entire lives. With the help of the Alpha Memory Computer, we have been able to live off the laud and someday, we hope to rebuild our cities and make Alpha Memory a flourishing planet once again."

Under normal circumstances, that would have been a sufficient explanation, but couldn't even remember M.W.G.D., much less the story of what had happened to Alpha Memory. She looked at them with a puzzled expression on her face. She was as confused as she had ever been.

"I have some form of memory loss," Lisa informed them failing to remember the word for memory loss.

"Amnesia?" guessed the female elder at the head of the table figuring out the word Lisa had forgotten. Lisa nodded.

"Don't worry," the male elder at the head of the table advised her. "I have contacted a friend of ours to help you with your problem. He says he knows you and will do anything it takes to help you. He will arrive shortly."

Lisa was pleased to hear it. A friend of hers was on his way.

"Maybe seeing him will cause me to remember again," she thought to herself.

In the meantime, the two tribe leaders asked her to follow them and took her to wear some of the younger members of the tribe were gathered for no particular reason. They introduced Lisa and explained her current predicament. Then, they returned to their conference leaving Lisa with the younger tribe members.

Some of the older members of the group, between the ages of twenty and thirty came over to take care of her. They gave her a musical instrument that looked something like a guitar and tried to teach her how to play it. For all she knew, she could have been the best musician who ever lived, but it wouldn't have make any difference since she couldn't remember what she had done.

In the distance, Lisa thought she saw Codin playing with several other children his age. She was glad that she could at least remember Codin. She stared once more at the M.W.G.D. badge she was wearing and the name which seemed to be staring back at her. If it weren't for her badge, she wouldn't even know her own name. She realized how lucky she was to have it. She just wished she could remember where she had gotten it from.

A horrible sounding chord came from the instrument she was playing. So horrible that she gave up the idea that she was a great musician, unless the people she performed for had a very unusual taste in music.

She put the instrument down and began to talk to her newly found friend. Since she couldn't remember very much, everything was new to her. She listened enthusiastically to every word they said. Unfortunately, she didn't have anything to say to them and it saddened her. She wanted so much to be a part of the conversation.

After awhile, the tribe leaders returned informing her that her friend had arrive. Lisa thanked them for helping her cope with her amnesia and left with the two elders. In front of her she saw a hooded man dressed entirely in black expect for a large, white X across the center of his chest. He seemed to be looking at Lisa as if he knew her. Lisa looked at him for a few seconds and then lowered her head in shame. She couldn't remember who he was.

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