The original, 9-page short story version of


Copyright © 1981 by Roger M. Wilcox. All rights reserved.
(writing on this story began 23-January-1981)

The original draft was written on a mechanical typewriter, with no right margin. All spellings, punctuation, capitalizations, etc. are as in the original.

You have been warned.

The Santa Monica Civic Auditorium; a monument to its time. Perfectly designed so that every seat is a good seat, this auditorium won't become obsolete for a long time.

But this place was only a dot on the map compared to the large splotch of the Montana International Civic Auditorium. The Santa Monica Civic is almost exactly a ½-scale model of the original construction in Montana. There is only one question haunting everyone who goes to see any concert or event in the big Montana house (its nickname):

Nowhere in its construction is there a plaque or cornerstone signifying when the thing was built. An old circulating rumor kept alive 'till one major event said that the basic construction of the Auditorium was just found out in the middle of nowhere, along with complete electrical and lighting systems, and the rest of the complex was just built surrounding it.

As I have said, this rumor was kept barely alive, until one major event in the late 1980's which shocked the world.


It was during late August when the Queen concert had been scheduled. Queen had recently converted over to New-Wave rock, since they had run out of ordinary rock "songs". Almost all 3000 seats in the Montana House were sold out. Preparations started only a week before the concert, and had to be hurried, especially since there were only about five hired stage hands for that gigantic theatre. One of them was an old rock fan, who shall be called "Hey Man".

Hey was in charge of setting up stage props and keeping the stage cleared of all obstructions. He had a very big job, and when he had applied for it, he had no idea he was going to be all alone. But after the first couple of days, he got used to it.

The concert was to take place on a Friday and Saturday night, of course, but it was already Wednesday. Already the arrangement of the props and part of the lighting were planned out — now, all that had to be done was the setting up of the several tons of garbage that Queen so inappropriately called "props". This concert was going to be Queen's biggest ever. It was going on national TV.

As Hey was going around with the first armful of prop(s), and was about to set them on their place on the floor, he noticed a single little black ant slowly scurrying by. Nothing unusual about that, he'd just step on it and have it killed. He brought his foot down on the menace, and drew it back just as quickly. The ant was still "standing".

Nor was this unusual — in a single shoe only one-third of the sole ever touches the ground. the rest is just for "grip" as nooks and crannys, whatever a cranny was. Before Hey could attempt to step once more and this time crush the pest, it was out of stomping range of his leg. Oh well, one ant isn't going to destroy the Earth.

Finally, he laid down the first prop where it was intended to be. On Thursday, Queen was going to have an entire practice run-through of their concert. Crouching down on the hard wood stage to scan for the normal things stage hand's scan for, he noticed another ant racing by. He wasn't going to let this one get away, for there's nothing someone like Hey Man didn't dislike more than live ants crawling around during a Queen concert.

He immediately stood up, brought his foot down on the ant, and this time twisted it back-and-forth a few times for good measure. When he removed his foot, the and was still alive!

Now, this was getting rediculous. No house ant known no man could ever withstand that kind of force. However, before Hey Man could make another crushing attempt, a third ant was discovered. Two could possibly be a coincidence, but three ants going the same direction could only mean one thing: an ant colony.

At once, Hey Man began to follow the third ant in the line, which not surprisingly was soon followed up by a fourth. One of the men on lighting, upon seeing this, inquired, "Hey! Whatcha doin', man?"

"I'm followin' these ants! I think there's an ant colony somewhere in the theater!"

"Yeah, well you won't have much time — it's almost 5:00. We gotta be splittin' soon."

Nevertheless, he continued to follow the ants to what may have been their lair. After a brief moment of pursuit, he found it — a big hole in the corner of the stage, completely infested with house ants.

Too late. It was already five, and everyone had agreed "no overtime". Aw, what the hell. Hey Man could kill the ants the next day; very few ants "move out" at that time — they'd probably still be there for him to spray to death with a can of raid.

He had no idea how far from the truth he was.


Everybody working on the stage (now seven people) poured into the theater at precisely 8:00 ante meridean. The stage setup had to be hurried because Hey Man was a notoriously slow worker, especially because had these big worries the previous day about this one ant colony. Hey Man was still going to kill them.

The first thing he did when he arrived (at 8:01, as usual) was go into the supply room and pick up a can of "Raid ant and road killer". Following this, he stormed across the backstage area and finally re-encountered the ant colony. He knew he must've been imagining things, but it seemed to have grown slightly since last he saw it.

And if it was growing, then he had no time to waste. With a vigorous shake of the can, and an inaccurate aiming of the nozzle, Hey Man pressed the large circular button on the red-and-white can. A cone of mist sprayed soundly out the front, making a pool of odorsome liquid surrounding the ants, with them completely engulfed. The ants kept on moving as if nothing had happened.

Hey Man stood up, greatly astonished. No ant in existence has ever had a chance against 2,2-Dichlorovinyl dimethyl phosphate (the number one active ingredient in Raid), so why did a whole ant colony remain unaffected? He had to examine these ants more closely. He stooped down onto his knees, and selected one ant to examine extremely close up.

The ant was black, alright — but a little too shiny for Hey Man's liking. He had to test it more thoroughly. He brought his thumb down on the ant, and twisted it a few times. An ant was covered by a hard shell, but this one was too hard, too cold, and too ... metallic.

Now, a new thought entered Hey Man's head: was that a real ant? He had to solve this, and soon — he should've gone back to work a couple of minutes ago. Scanning the immediate area, he came across an item that had been there for over a week — a six-inch diameter rock that had been left from the previous rock concert. He quickly scooped it up in his hands, and brought it down on the ant, surely crushing it.

As he lifted the rock, he finally saw the ant as being crushed. He once again crouched down to examin the remains of the "ant". Instead of splattered ant guts with a timy amount of blood, there was a small pile of scattered aluminum-like metal shards. What nobody knew or would probably never find out (until five months later when Hey Man described the shards precisely under hypnosis) was that the aluminum shards were really made of titanium, the perfect metal.

Hey Man had no more "leisure" time — he had to get back to work before Queen arrived. Little did he know that it was the time he was working that was the time he was wasting.


The stage was sat up just in time — with only thirty seconds to spare. Queen entered, and began their run-through, starting with "I'm Gonna Rock You 'Till You're Stoned". Hey Man's job had ended for a long time, and now he could watch Queen practice for free. As most people, Hey Man didn't like just standing or sitting in one place, so he began to walk around backstage. And from some inspiration both conscious and subconscious, he was walking back toward the ant colony. When he arrived, he was not very much surprised to discover the ant colony had doubled in size.

He had to find out what was the secret behind that colony of robot ants. With trembling hands, he shoved them through the writhing colony down to the bare corner below. Quickly, he threw the gigantic handful by his side, and looked down through the hole. Normally, an ant colony would have hundreds of little tunnels, just barely big enough for a few of the argentine ants to pass through at a time. This one passed down a few inches, and then stopped at a big, psychedic 3" by 3" panel.

Hey Man knew that the ants (or whatever they were) would be crawling all over his arms by now. When he glanced down at his upper body extremeties, he saw them completely bare up to his short-sleeve T-shirt. All the ants were making a mad dash for the corner hole. Before the hole refilled, however, Hey Man got a closer look at the "psychedic" panel. It was actually a very regular array of about fifty by fifty tiny dots of a few different colors. Just before all the ants refilled into the corner, Hey Man could've sworn he'd seen tiny, microscopic markings in each of the dots. Was this a robot's button panel?

He would never be able to find out for sure. And nobody else would know until after the event that took place the next day, or rather, the next night.


The Friday night crowd was jammed in around the theater, hoping for each person that there'd be a scalper selling one of the remaining tickets for the over 3000 seats in the tiny theater. It was no wonder that Hey Man was working as an usher for the odd new-wave fans who refuse to ush. National TV cameras were surrounding the theater from both inside and out to scan the crowd.

No one was certain exactly why Queen chose such a small theater for their performance. If they had gone about it sensibly, they would have chosen a gigantic outdoor theater. For this reason, it was no wonder that loudspeakers were placed all around outdoors, and parking was unusually expensive for those without tickets. Because of the loudspeakers outside, there were that many more bootleggers and TV/movie camerapeople outside as well as in.

The biggest crowd was mobbed near the entryway, letting up only for large groups of people with tickets, who had not all arrived yet. But within a few minutes, all 3005 (the theater was oversold, as usual) ticket holders had arrived.

The entryway was lit by six large light stands, about a hundred feet tall, at the top of which were eight giant floodlamps, pouring off-white light onto the large white sidewalk. Hey Man couldn't help staring into the large crowd, picking out each female which fit his taste.

The crowd was all watching through the doors, hoping to get a glance at Queen, and listening to the loudspeakers for when the concert would start. Not a soul was watching the intense lights that guided their path. So it was no wonder that at first, no one noticed the change.

Hey Man was one of the first people to notice it. The light output was gradually becoming more intense, and the subtle yellowish-white was slowly fading into a piercing, harsh, deep sky-blue. And soon, everyone outside began to notice it, as well.

Then, along with the light came a low rumbling sound, slowly increasing its decibell rating, and sweeping through the cycle of frequencies as some species of birds do. Octive upon octive mounted onto the ever-loudening sound. Everyone, whether outside or inside the theater, could hear the sound. But no one knew its meaning. Queen had never sounded like this before. At least, not this loud.

The blue-white light suddenly began to grow in its effected area. It swept over the entire outside of the theater like a slowly approaching giant casting its shadow on the land below. Slowly, the entire Montana Civic Auditorium was bathed in this awesome light.

The sound in the background had already gone too high for human hearing — over 20,000 cycles. But suddenly, the sound returned to its original ultra-low intensity, only this time with the mounted decibells producing an ear-shattering roar.

Then, suddenly, another change took place. The blue-white light lost both its whiteness and its blueness, and faded backwards through the light spectrum — first to green, then to yellow, orange, red — and beyond. The crowd that was forcing its way back out the front doors (of whom almost a thousand had successfully made it out) suddenly became aware of a new sensation present in the deep red light — a sensation of heat. Cries of "that things too hot!" and "Yeeow! I'm burnin' up by the doorway!" were heard echoing throughout the theater entrances and exits. The whole place was sealed off by the heat.

Soon, the heat became so intense that anyone attempting to pass through the doors was instantly burnt up. Although a few were shoved through the deadly inferno, almost all of the remaining 2000 (or really a bit more) people stood clear of the doors. There was no way that they were going through those doors.

The circular crowd around the theater, realizing its head, suddenly increased its radius by about thirty feet. Then, something happened that was completely catastrophic.

No concrete, cement, or mortal has ever been able to stand up to extremely intense heat, whether their molecules actually separate, or the constructions expand so far that they crack. The construction encircling the Montana International Civic Auditorium was no exception. Within a matter of seconds, the giant concrete towers surrounding Montana House began to shake and crumble. Huge pieces of staging houses tumbled to the earth, crushing innocent citizens below them like Hey Man had crushed the robot ant. Soon, even the plaster decoration surrounding the posts holding the deadly light began to split and rupture from the heat and the sound, leaving only bare titanium poles to support them. It didn't take a genius to figure out that the head was coming from infrared light being emitted from the "lamp posts".

Now, the Montana International Civic Auditorium was only the bare minimum of two shallow dishes of sheet titanium set one on top of the other. The lamp posts, which up 'till then had been just hanging out there in front of it, supported by metal planks running all the way to the center underside of the Montana House, now had giant cables extending from the metal base plates all the way up to the halfway point on the tall posts.

Suddenly, the light from the posts began to change again, only this time forward through the spectrum, from deep red all the way back to blue-white. Then, the most awe-inspiring effect took its toll — the Civic Auditorium was actually lifting up off the ground! And as it did, the cables extended to the lamp posts began to pull the posts in toward the body, along with the metal planks pulling in to increase the streamlineness of the place.

Say, if the deep red was hot, and nobody noticed any heat in the blue light before, they maybe this blue light ... — these were exactly Hey Man's thoughts. Cautiously, he approached the gleaming blue doorway, using the heat-sensitive nerves of his nose as a guide. He felt no heat at one meter proximity ... at one foot ... at one cm. Could it be as heatless as he had predicted? There was only one way to find out — and he had to do it quickly, for the Auditorium was swiftly gaining height.

Tensing his entire body, and at the same time looking the other way, Hey Man thrust his right hand through the screen of blue light. No pain was emitted whatsoever, but he had to take a look just to be sure. His hand was still on the end of his arm, completely unharmed.

He had no time to lose; the newly borne airship was over twenty feet off the ground. He threw his bodyweight through the shimmering portal, stretching his arms out wide to act as a make-shift parachute against the ever-present air. As he both sailed and fell to the ground, his mind was in a state of panic, thinking at several times its normal speed. I suppose he was thinking over all that had happened in those last few minutes, but he would never have remembered it, anyway

He came down on a cushion of soft grass that had been grown immediately surrounding the Montana International Civic Auditorium. He was saved, indirectly, by the same thing that had almost killed him! Now his only thought was on that ascending airship.

With two thousand people inside, the airship rose higher and higher, faster and faster. Suddenly, when it had achieved about five hundred meters altitude, it shot into the air like a champaigne cork. Soon, it disappeared from view, but just before it did, the "airship" (now obviously a spaceship) changed its blue-white shell to a deep purple, and probably kept going, on to ultraviolet, X-rays, Gamma rays, and beyond.

It could never be tracked as to which star it came from, for as soon as it left Earth orbit, it became invisible to all light ... including radar waves. Rock fans all over the USA would mourn the "loss" of the new wave group Queen.


The story you have just heard was true. The names were changed to protect the innocent.

TTTTTTT   H      H   EEEEEEE     EEEEEEE   N      N   DDDD
   T      H      H   E           E         NN     N    D  D
   T      H      H   E           E         N N    N    D   D
   T      HHHHHHHH   EEEE        EEEE      N  N   N    D    D
   T      H      H   E           E         N   N  N    D   D
   T      H      H   E           E         N    N N    D  D
   T      H      H   EEEEEEE     EEEEEEE   N     NN   DDDD
(Religion was never like this)

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