SCI-FI by STEVEN R. TENNEY

THE BALANCE

By STEVEN R. TENNEY


After dinner, Otis, a middle-aged, overweight,

balding man, walked out onto the front porch, while his

wife, Gertrude, remained inside the kitchen washing the

dishes.

He lifted his binoculars to his eyes and peered 

across the meadow towards his neighbor's house. He saw 

that the Real Estate sign had a SOLD sticker upon it.

"Looks like the neighbor house sold."

Gertrude, shapely, if not a little on the plump 

side, walked out onto the porch drying her hands on a 

kitchen towel. "No, kidding! That was fast."

"Yes, indeed. The real estate market must be

heating up."

"I wonder when our new neighbors will be moving

in. I hope they're nice people."

"Me too. The last thing we need is a bunch of 

jerks out here."

The next evening greeted Otis and Gertrude with 

mid-summer warmth.

As usual, Otis was sitting on his porch while 

Gertrude was in the kitchen cleaning up. Otis looked

through his binoculars again and saw that a Corvette 

convertible was parked in the driveway. The real estate 

sign was gone.

His spying became more intent as a beautiful, 

statuesque, brunette walked around the house from the back 

yard with a watering hose. She was adorned in a dark purple 

bikini which showed off her voluptuous curves.

"Whoa!" Otis said to himself.

"What's that, Dear?" Gertrude called out from

the opened kitchen window.

"Oh, nothing."

Gertrude walked out onto the porch and saw the 

gorgeous neighbor lady. "Is that our new neighbor?"

"Looks like it."

"Hmmmmm, she seems to hold nothing back with that

skimpy bathing suit and all."

"Well, Gertrude it is warm, after all."

"Let me have those binocs for a second." 

Gertrude watched as the lovely lady swayed back and forth to 

a Reggae song coming from an outdoor speaker on the back 

side of the house, facing the forest.

"Goodness! I hope they aren't going to be loud 

neighbors." 

Otis took the binoculars back from Gertrude. 

He watched, mesmerized, at that wonderful female body as it 

danced seductively. "I kind of like Reggae myself."

"Humpfffff! When did you ever like Reggae, 

Otis?" 

"Oh, a long time before I met you, Dear."

"Huh! I can't imagine you at a Reggae concert, 

Otis. Not at all."

"Well, I never actually went to a concert or 

anything like that. But I'd turn up the radio when a good

Reggae song was played."

"Oh, seesh! That's all? That doesn't really 

qualify you as a renegade, Otis."

"Who said anything about being a renegade?" Otis

took the binocs back and gazed at the lovely new neighbor. 

"However, at times I could be a little wild in my teenage 

years."

"Wild? Like how? Smoking an occasional 

cigarette, or having a sugar free coke?"

"Oh, you wouldn't understand, Gertrude."

"Okay." Gertrude walked back into the kitchen 

chuckling sardonically.

The next evening, another warm one, Otis was 

again, sitting on the porch. As he looked through the

binoculars he saw that the convertible was gone, and instead 

a large pick-up truck was parked in the driveway.

The sound of a lawn mower could be heard from the 

back of the house. The sound got louder as a tall, 

attractive man came around pushing the mower on the lawn in

the front of the house.

Gertrude walked out onto the porch and took the 

binoculars from Otis. "Now what have we here?"

"Just some jerk making noise, ruining a nice 

summer's evening."

"So what? It's a good time to be mowing the 

lawn." Gertrude was glued to the Atlas of a man as he 

walked the mower around the grass. "Maybe we should go over 

and welcome him to the neighborhood."

"Some other time, maybe."

"You can be sucky a wet blanket sometimes, Otis."

Otis drank his beer in begrudged silence. He 

walked into the house leaving Gertrude still watching the

new neighbor.

The next afternoon Otis was outside washing his 

car. He could see across the meadow that the convertible 

was parked in the driveway. Since Gertrude was gone 

shopping in town, Otis walked over to his neighbor's house

and rang the doorbell.

He was expecting the beautiful brunette to open

the door, but instead "Sampson" stood there, towering over

poor Otis. He wore only swimming trunks and every 

intimidating muscle in his body was firm and ripped.

"Yes, can I help you?"

Otis stammered and was obviously flustered. "Uh.. 

well, I'm uh, your next door neighbor. I, uh, thought I'd 

welcome you to the neighborhood."

The man extended his hand and shook Otis' hand 

with a rock-solid grip. "Well, thank you. I'm Adonis,

glad to meet you."

"Of course you are, uh, I mean.... nice to meet 

you. I'm Otis." 

Otis felt so lame that his mind went blank, 

leaving him almost speechless. "Well, again, welcome to the 

neighborhood."

A sheepish smile was pasted on his face as he 

stepped back off the entryway and stumbled as he 

walked away. 

"Well, thank you again, Otis. See you later."

Otis waved feebly as he meandered past the 

driveway. To his amazement the convertible was gone and the 

big pick-up truck was parked there instead.

He shook his head as he hustled back to his

house, thoroughly embarrassed.

The next day Otis was gone fishing. Gertrude was

sweeping the deck and looked out at the neighbor's house. 

She retrieved the binoculars from the house and trained them 

across the meadow. She noted that the pick-up truck was 

parked outside in the driveway.

She felt excited as she walked over carrying a 

covered plate of molasses cookies she had baked earlier. 

As she passed the pick-up truck in the driveway, she sneaked

a look at her reflection in the side window. She smoothed 

back her hair with her free hand and walked up to the front 

door. She rang the bell with much anticipation.

As the door opened Gertrude's smile drooped in 

shock as she stared at the startling beautiful shape of 

the Amazon lady. Gertrude tried to prop her smile back up, 

but it turned into more of a grimace of disappointment.

The woman stood in the foray wearing a black, lacy

bikini that showed off the curves of her sculpted, toned 

body. How could someone be so gorgeous? She towered over 

Gertrude with her long, shapely legs. Gertrude stole a 

quick glance at her feet, expecting to see high heels, but

the beauty was wearing running shoes instead. 

The woman had beautiful, green eyes which bored 

into Gertrude's with a friendly, captivating stare.

"Hello."

"Hi!" Gertrude tried to compose herself. "I'm, 

uh, your neighbor. I thought I'd bring over a house 

welcoming gift."

The woman looked at the covered plate and smiled. 

"Well, isn't that nice. What is it?"

"Oh, just some molasses cookies I baked up."

Gertrude held out the plate awkwardly like she 

was making an offering to a Goddess.

"Molasses? I haven't had those in years." 

She smiled gleefully like a young girl. "Won't you

come inside? I'm Aphrodite, by the way."

"Nice to finally meet you. I'm Gertrude."

Gertrude felt a little calmer as she saw how 

tender this gorgeous woman was. "Well, okay. Thank you!"

"Well, thank you for the cookies."

Aphrodite led Gertrude into the dining area. 

The house was surprisingly sparse. There was only a dining 

room table with chairs and a long sofa in the living room. 

There were no wall hangings at all.

Aphrodite caught Gertrude's stare. "We haven't 

had time to furnish the house yet."

"Oh, yes, I understand." Gertrude stood in the 

living room awkwardly. "Well, I should be going."

"It was very nice to meet you, Gertrude."

As Gertrude walked away, she noticed that the 

convertible was now parked in the driveway. She shook her

head in confusion.

The next evening Otis went out to the deck after

dinner again and found a plate with a note laying on the 

picnic table.

The note read: "Thank you so much for the cookies,

Gertrude. No one was home when I returned the plate. Your

neighbor, Aphrodite."

Otis whistled under his breath. "Gertrude, you

went over to the neighbor's house yesterday?"

Gertrude walked out onto the deck, wiping her 

hands with a dish towel. She took the note from Otis and

read it. "Uh, yeah. I took some molasses cookies over. 

Just being neighborly, Otis."

"Okay." Otis looked downcast. "What was she 

like?"

"Well, uh, very, very pretty. Actually quite

beautiful, if the truth be known."

"Uh-huh." Otis took a sip from his beer. "Did

you see him over there as well?"

"Uh, no. I saw his pick-up parked outside when I

went over. But a strange thing happened. When I rang the

doorbell she answered instead. And then when I left after a

short visit, the truck was gone and the convertible was 

instead parked in the driveway."

"That is peculiar, alright." 

"What's also peculiar is her name."

"What?"

"Aphrodite! what kind of parents name their 

daughter Aphrodite?"

"I don't know. What about Adonis? That struck 

me as odd."

Gertrude looked narrowly at Otis. "How did you 

know his name was Adonis?"

"Uh, well, uh."

"Come on, Otis. Did you go over there too."

Otis cringed. "Well, uh, well, yes I did. 

What's wrong with that?"

Gertrude folded her arms. "When did you do 

that?"

"The other day when you were in town shopping."

"And so you met the husband instead."

"Ah, yes, I guess so."

"Oh, let me guess, you went over there when you

saw the convertible parked out in front. You were expecting

to see her, weren't you."

"Welllll...."

Gertrude sat down and took a swig of Otis's 

beer. "It is very strange, all together, don't you think?"

"Yes, we both went over there expecting to see

whom we were expecting to see."

"And then the vehicles changed when we left."

Both Otis and Gertrude stared out into the 

evening.

"What in Dickens is going on over there?"

"Are we both hallucinating or something?"

"What have you been putting in all those brownies 

you've been baking lately, Gertrude?"

"Just chocolate, Otis. Don't go blaming me

for this."

"Then what is happening?"

"I don't know. Maybe we should go over there

together sometime."

"Maybe when both vehicles are parked out front."

"Yes. Let's wait for that, then."

"I think I need another beer."

"Me too. I'll bring 'em out"

The next evening the setting sun was washing the 

western sky with a blaze of orange and yellow. Otis and 

Gertrude looked across the meadow and noticed that both the

convertible and truck were parked out in the driveway.

"Should we go over there now and see what's up?"

Otis asked.

Gertrude looked doubtful for a moment. "I don't 

know. I guess now is as good as any time." 

Otis and Gertrude walked past the vehicles in the 

driveway and up to the entryway. 

They rang the doorbell but no one came to the 

door. They heard a strange sound coming from inside the 

house. 

They peaked inside the side windows of the double

front doors, past the foray and into the living room. They

saw both Aphrodite and Adonis standing naked facing each 

other, both their beautiful bodies firm and sculpted. 

Aphrodite pressed her body against Adonis', with her firm 

breasts touching his chest.

Both Gertrude and Otis stared, mesmerized, not 

able to turn away.

Aphrodite and Adonis kissed passionately. Behind 

them a neon sign with blue lights suddenly appeared on the 

back wall above their heads. 

Otis and Gertrude tried to discern what the words 

on the sign meant. But they are scrambled into strange, 

hieroglyphics. It was all gibberish to them. 

But then the words began to form something 

intelligible. The words "Past Lives" were displayed 

momentarily. Then they melted and became nonsense again. 

The words flashed and wiggled like electric worms 

and finally formed "Romantic Love" in neon blue.

Otis and Gertude watched in amazement as 

Aphrodite's body merged with Adonis'. 

The words changed again and read "Spiritual Love".

Their bodies swirled together into a large mass of

energy. 

Lastly the words flashed "Harmony".

To Gertrude it looked like the energy field 

twirled and formed the Yin and Yang symbol.

Suddenly the atomic energy field disappeared 

altogether as too did the neon sign.

The living room was then empty, with no furniture 

or any evidence that any one had lived there at all.

Gertrude and Otis shook their heads and eventually 

turned around and walked out towards the meadow. The

driveway was empty, with neither the convertible nor the

truck parked there.

As they walked back towards their house, they saw 

that the real estate sign was back on the lawn, with the 

words "For Sale" emblazzoned upon it. 

The next evening found Otis once again on the deck

drinking a beer. And as usual, Gertrude was inside cleaning

up.

Otis thought he saw a commotion coming from

the neighbor's house across the meadow.

He retrieved his binoculars and looked across the

way. What he saw was something akin to a desert mirage, 

with the image barely in focus. But as the light waves 

finally gelled the image became sharper.

To his amazement he saw Aphrodite and Adonis both

outside tending to their yard.

"What?!" Otis exclaimed in surprise. But as 

soon as he mutered those words, the mirage disappeared.

"What was that, Dear?" Gertrude called out from

the open kitchen window.

"Oh, nothing unusual. Is there any more beer 

left in the fridge?"

"Yes, I'll bring some out for both of us."