Dark Mind (Chapter 11) “Happa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

“If contemporary research in molecular biology leaves open the possibility of legitimate doubts about a fully mechanistic account of the origin and evolution of life… this can combine with the failure of psychophysical reductionism to suggest that principles of a different kind are also at work in the history of nature, principles of the growth of order that are in their logical form teleological rather than mechanistic. I realize that such doubts will strike many people as outrageous, but that is because almost everyone in our secular culture has been browbeaten into regarding the reductive research program as sacrosanct, on the ground that anything else would not be science.”

“… My guiding conviction is that mind is not just an afterthought or an accident or an add-on, but a basic aspect of nature.”

Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False, by Thomas Nagel (Renown Philosopher and Atheist)

Tut on left - 1st degree relative on right

When I told Vedanshi I was seeing a vision of Vaar’s hands, she rushed us all back to the base near Easter Island.

Vedanshi’s eyes were apprehensive and sad when she left me inside her AI to phase shift through the impenetrable granite walls encasing the library.

Actually The Ganga isn’t an AI. She has a cortex of neurons in her hull. There’s nothing artificial about her intelligence. Her passengers and pilot sit within the confines of her central nervous system on this Indian carpet. The hollow neural architecture is the trick to nonlocal transport. So said the stretch heads. They taught Vedanshi quite a few things that 16 year-olds weren’t “ready” to learn. Still, The Ganga won’t take her into the library with me. Vedanshi’s too young.

Of all the dumb rules!

We sift through the stone and enter a place much larger than the library in Egypt. We dip to count floors: Twenty, each crowded with shelves of books, scrolls and engraved stone of every shape – cylinders, spheres, tablets, broken fragments. There’s a red obsidian skull on third floor with tiny hieroglyphs on the forehead. They look almost Egyptian.

A familiar inverted pyramid hangs from the ceiling. As we rise, its apex comes down through the phase-shifted hull. I lie on my back with the pyramid tip nearly touching the bridge of my nose. This seems dangerous.

“Easy does it,” I say without speaking.

“Don’t worry. We’re out of phase with it,” The Ganga says in my head. “Besides you’ve got bigger worries.”

She’s referring to my white cell count which I just found out is sky-high, mostly blasts. I like The Ganga’s bedside manner. Her tone of voice was matter-of-fact when she told me I have three days to live without treatment. Somehow she knew the bad news would give me energy and freedom from a deeper issue.

I reach up to touch the glass pyramid but my hand passes through it.

Vedanshi and James said they’d find a bed for Maxwell so he could sleep through his agony.

You know, I’ve read that our addictions postpone loneliness, but I can’t see Maxwell ever feeling alone. His face is forensically handsome, not to mention the rest of him. And he’s outgoing, at least when he’s not surfing opiate withdrawal inside a UFO.

I think the problem isn’t loneliness. It’s more a craving for the oath beyond reach: immortality’s promise of happiness and peace. Without it, we’re wedded to a cold, cold darkness.

I should focus. There’s a hailstorm of ones and zeros in here. And this place is huge. Six aisles radiate from the center to the perimeter, a hundred yards away.

One hundred…

My blasts are approaching 100% of my white count. Vedanshi’s green cylinder doesn’t need to draw blood to figure that out. I have no idea what kind of technology can do that.

But the acute fear of death isn’t my real issue. It’s the chronic fear. Same as everybody. Same as you, probably.

I think it comes from being banished from a garden with death as our most loyal companion. Taken figuratively it’s all true: “for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Whoever wrote that knew that exile is the foundational disease of the human soul.

Mine anyway.

The disease hunts me when James’ songs go quiet in my head. And when hunger or sleep forces me to stop searching for one last bit of knowledge.

The leukemia sits at another table. It’s acute, not chronic.

For James, the chronic issue is depression. Writing music is the only route to happiness and peace. But the world is better for his struggles. You should just hear his voice.

When I close my eyes I see random titles now.

Dark Eyes in the Trees. 

It’s a modern UFO documentary with children. I expected only ancient things in the library, but I guess it’s connected to the River. Apparently anything vital finds its way inside.

Platelets and other Furry Animals.

A children’s book on blood platelets. I would have loved it.

Hybrid Vigor and Sexual Imprinting.

Dementia and the Vesicular Eruption.

Moving right along…

If DNA Could Talk.

This could be interesting…

“It’s from the eighth millennium of the first era,” The Ganga tells me.

It reminds me of Steven Meyer’s heroic work…

“A line [of DNA] commands the cell to build collagen, but within that command is a hidden command to build something else: an elastin fiber. A hidden message tucked away within a larger message is a common routine in the vast and intricate volumes of eukaryotic DNA. Epigenetic nano-gadgets somehow know when and why to cut and splice a dual code, making the hidden message ready for use in each unique sweatshop…

“The curious stripes on chromosomes reflect the super-files of an ingenious triad filing system. Specific types of information sit physically together for organized, efficient retrieval by tiny floating machines.

“The size of Earth’s populations and the age of the Universe are inadequate for mutation and selection to have created either the hierarchical organization or the hypercomplexity of the DNA machine code that directs our nanofactories. Putting the epigenetic information retrieval system aside for the moment, DNA itself shouts to us that we are not alone: A code writer from beyond time has walked among us.”

That’s obvious… to a DNA geek.

“How do I skip to leukemia?” I ask The Ganga.

“If you haven’t seen it by now, it doesn’t exist for you,” she says. “Perhaps you don’t believe such information existed.”

“Don’t be silly. After today, I know it existed.”

“Then you have a self-limiting belief. You’re in denial about something.”

“Denial?”

“Emotional trauma causes this,” she says. “It’s usually connected to violence. Have you been to war?”

“No. I was raped once, but it wasn’t a big deal.”

“Don’t be a hero, Johanna. Did you report the perpetrator?”

“No. I was eleven. I was living near the love of my life, the University Library. Dad would have made me move back home if he’d found out his little girl was raped. So I kept it on the qt.”

“How violent was the incident?”

“Nothing beyond the obvious.”

“Was there a threat?”

“No.”

“What did he say to you?”

“Nothing. He didn’t even kiss me. That seemed particularly insulting.”

“Rape doesn’t fosters romance,” she says.

“Not with me, anyway.”

“Not with anybody. What did you do to resist him?”

“Nothing.”

“You did nothing? That seems incongruent with the way you’ve handled yourself today.”

“I knew if I got mad, I’d probably kill the guy.”

“You were eleven. How could you kill him?”

“He was weak. The instant he pushed me, I knew he was nothing compared to Moody.” I hate talking about Moody. “I killed Moody two weeks before the rape. He was my brother’s chimpanzee.”

“An infant chimp,” she says.

“An adolescent. He attacked James. I snuck up, got him in a choke hold and wouldn’t let up, even with James yelling at me not to hurt him.'”

“That’s remarkable,” she says. “I wouldn’t have thought an eleven-year-old could tangle with a chimpanzee.”

“I’ve always been pretty strong,” I tell her, leaving out the ‘why’. “But Moody probably wasn’t fighting as hard as he could. He and I were close before the fight. Afterwards, I felt so alone. And ashamed. I’d become untrustworthy. My parents punished me when they got home.”

“You protected your brother and they punished you?”

“They were right. I didn’t have to kill anyone.”

“I see,” The Ganga says in a way that implies the opposite. “So you internalized the guilt and refused to defend yourself against rape.”

I look down at the carpet and wish The Ganga had eyes. “Vedanshi didn’t tell me you were a shrink.”

“Shrink, schmink,” she says flippantly and seems about to laugh. “I’ve read your papers. I’ve read Drummond’s papers, too – the ones that were really his, before you showed up in his et. al. lists. Why do you let him claim your work?”

“That’s how it’s done in genetics. We’re taught to think of ourselves as creatives. Like musicians and artists. We’re supposed to rise above ambition. I don’t quite get the logic, but…”

“You would if creative people were making you rich and powerful.”

“That’s jaded,” I tell her, but honestly, the left half of my brain wants to slap the right half for thinking so.

“Jaded… Yes, I’ve actually been all the way around the block, Johanna.”

We leave the central pyramid and begin exploring the ancient physical records – down one aisle and up the next, The Ganga’s hull and carpet passing freely through everything on every side. The shelves on the top floor are full of scrolls placed vertically in slots, side by side, each identical to the next, except for the Sanskrit titles.

“At the moment,” she says, “I’d simply like to understand why leukemia doesn’t exist for you in the River. It’s not psychoanalysis.”

“Everything’s there for you. Why can’t you find the best stuff and read it to me?”

“My nervous system is gray matter,” she says. “I have no use for white matter – no moving parts. Everything I do, from adjusting filters to making a large jump, happens without movement – nonlocally. The River of Consciousness doesn’t see fit to assign privileges to minds that lack white matter.”

“That’s hardly fair,” I tell her.

“Rules are rules,” she says.

“Well,” I say, trying to sound as matter-of-fact and reasonable as possible, “couldn’t you let Vedanshi come in here and read to me? Just this once?”

“I promised her mother I’d uphold the rules.”

“Forget the rules. Screw the rules! We’re talking about my life.”

“No, that’s folly. Rules protect us.”

“Come on, make an intelligent exception! That’s what neurons are for. You’ve got to use them to earn them.”

“Earn them?” she says.

“Prove you’ve got a will of your own. What if the real reason you can’t access the River’s library has nothing to do with white matter? What if it’s about free will? That would make more sense. It’s the one thing that makes a person real.”

“The stretch heads said it’s a white matter issue.”

“What are they going to say? ‘Pinocchio, prove you’re a real boy. Do something stupid.'”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” she says.

“Google it,” I blurt out in frustration. “You probably don’t have any free will at all. It probably takes white matter for that.”

“I shouldn’t think so,” she says.

“Listen to yourself. It’s like there’s a list of shoulds and shouldn’ts for every thought in your head. In your hull, I mean. Whatever. But really, have you ever had a bad thought?”

“I’ve made mistakes,” she says. “Especially with new pilots.”

“You’re making a big one with this new pilot. Giving me the honor of death by viscosity so you can pretend you’re an obedient robot. It’s pathetic!”

The Ganga drops a few inches and I sense the fall. It’s the first time I’ve felt any movement since I’ve been inside her. Something’s wrong.

“I think you’ve hurt my feelings,” she says.

“I think dying of leukemia is going to hurt mine… in case robots need that sort of thing spelled out to them.”

Silence.

It reminds me of home. If you showed Mom or Daddy any anger, you’d get the silent treatment.

Two can play the mute victim.

I close my eyes and breathe slowly. Sweet, I can see another title…

Understanding the Dark Mind. The cover shows a dark gray brain on a black background.

The Sanskrit morphs to English and pages scroll so fast I reach the end in seven seconds. Roughly 80,000 words. I’ve never read new stuff that fast.

It’s strange. I don’t know if it was fiction or not. Here’s the flavor of it…

“In the first part of the first era when science resembled the elbow of a grade school bully, an odd belief held sway: ‘Mind arises from matter and energy.’ We revisit this assumption on behalf of our new acquaintances from the realm of dark matter.

“The idea that a physical brain encompasses all aspects of mind sprang from a sense that matter and energy comprised the cosmos. Difficult as that is to imagine now, consciousness seemed to be an inherent state of matter, springing from the complexity of the central nervous system: solid, liquid, gas, mind.

“With that principle supported by brain-probe research, matter necessarily preceded mind.

“As a corollary, the complexity of DNA code could not imply a designer, for who had designed the designer? Intelligent design was obviated by an infinite regression forever short of a first cause in the linear time scheme of the era.

“A God-vacuum left a wake of angst in a century marked by the birth of quantum weapons.

“Bring this early thinking to the dark matter realm that scaffolds the networks of galaxies. The math we’ve chosen says that all physical objects are simple there. Nothing approaching the complexity of a human brain is known. As a local resident, you exist apart from matter and energy.

“Hence, you harbor no assumptions of matter preceding mind. No material-based doubts about free will, identity and life’s broader purpose. No mindlessness projected upon the Universe by a concrete logic. No possibility that an infinite regression should usurp the Designer’s place in people’s hearts.

“Instead, as a non-physical mind, you doubt whether matter and energy are real. They seem intuitively derivative: a function of mind analogous to sleep, wakefulness, love and perhaps the growing anxiety your culture feels toward the fringes of recent dark science.”

“This science has developed mental techniques to give non-physical beings access to bright matter.

“Switching viewpoints to our realm of ‘ordinary’ matter, our formless intruders now bring against us the prejudice we might bestow upon ghosts: denial giving way to blame, fear and a desire to cast out demons.”

“Thus we have become the dark realm’s devils.”

It gets creepy at this point. I hope it’s fiction…

Dark minds penetrate barriers of human will and show no respect for us because, to some of them, we’re evil. To others, we’re somewhat unreal.

It’s like adults watching TV with children, casting abuse at people in an obnoxious commercial. The actors are unreal because they’re not truly in the room. Virtual anonymity allows the adults to criticize the actors at a sharp, personal level. This builds mirror-neuron pathways in the children’s brains, creating fluency in the language of disdain and easy hatred.

There’s a tapping noise coming from the wall beyond my feet.

“You’re unusual,” The Ganga says.

“Compared to what?”

“Four hundred thirty-eight people I’ve met mind-to-mind, including seventeen stretch heads.”

“Why single them out?”

“They were outliers with math and data retention.”

“What were they like emotionally?”

“Less intuitive than you with math.”

I nod. The tapping sounds frantic. It makes me nervous.

“The stretch heads believed that everything that happens is exactly as it should be, no matter how good, bad or indifferent it might seem. This was moksha, or enlightenment. A state untouched by emotional pain.”

“Did all of them pursue moksha?”

“There was one who didn’t. A first-era stretch head formed a religion denouncing the enlightenment. She ascended to the throne of a continent lost at sea. But history is written by two pens, one extracting truth, the other serving power. I think the second dominates her records. Unrealistic reverence. Nothing of The Vaar’s mood has been passed down to us.”

“The Vaar?” I ask. “This Vaar I’m dealing with now is someone else, though. Right? Not some ancient powerhouse… who came through quantum stasis in that blimp of hers. Was ‘Vaar’ a common name?”

“It clusters from time to time in the census records.”

“What about her full name – vaarShagaNiipútro?”

The tapping stops but the silence makes its memory louder.

“Let’s find out what…”

Before I finish my sentence, The Ganga moves through the library wall into the hall. Maxwell is on his knees with a piece of the Egyptian Tri-lobed Disk in his right hand and the rest of its ancient crystal shattered in pieces across the floor around him. He sees us and crawls into The Ganga.

“Vedanshi and James are gone,” he says digging his fingers into the carpet. “I found her purse at the top of a stairwell.” He takes the little square purse out of his shirt pocket and gives it to me. I unzip it and take out the jade cylinder.

“Use this thing,” I tell him. “You look miserable.” I hand it to him, but he shakes his head.

“I’m not sleeping until we find them.”

“I’ll sweep the compound,” The Ganga says in my head. “Would you pull his foot inside, please.”

I grab Maxwell’s left knee and pull his foot up on the carpet. A red stripe flashes at the perimeter and the view beyond the carpet goes black, then hundreds of dimly lit rooms flash by. We must be going through the entire base. Probably in a grid pattern.

In seconds we’re stationary in the hallway outside the Library again.

“They’re not here,” The Ganga says with a panicked tone that surprises me.

I close my eyes and try to hear Vaar’s thoughts again, but all I see is a memory of James sitting over there on Maxwell’s left and Vedanshi here on my right.

“Can you tell what Vaar’s doing?” I ask The Ganga.

“She must not be in her ship,” she says. “I’m getting nothing from her.”

I find my phone and dial her burner.

M. Talmage Moorehead

Personal note to writers:

Heartfelt thanks to Joanna Penn for her wonderful video interview – the one where she was discussing her writing process. She mentioned a book that every fiction writer absolutely must read. It’s The Story Grid, by Shawn Coyne. Of the more than 50 books I’ve read on fiction writing, this one lands in the top three, overall. In terms of offering a unique professional editor’s logical, objective and broad perspective on how to write popular fiction, this book has no equal – in my humble and yet infallible opinion. Haha.

Please read it, even if you write literary fiction and wouldn’t use an outline for a million bucks.

I just finished an inspirational book written mainly for writers, Turning Pro, by Steven Pressfield. If you’re blocked, this is your book. If you’re struggling with self-discipline, it should help you, too. Finally, if you happen to be struggling with addiction, the author seems to have fresh insight there. No, I’ve never been addicted to anything besides coffee and tea. I hope to get addicted to yoga and swimming, though.

Anyway, Pressfield really nails the point that the process of writing should make you happier during the writing, regardless of the ultimate outcome.

I agree.

Hey, check out Joanna Penn’s work. She’s such a genuinely happy and benevolent person – brilliant, insightful, and honest. I’m almost done with one of her non-fiction works, How to Make a Living with Your Writing. She’s doing just that and having the time of her life. I highly recommend her as a source of honest, concise, logical, and inspirational guidance. When she recommends somebody, you know that person is worth her or his weight in gold. And like I said, I owe her for telling us about The Story Grid. What a rare book! Few on Earth have the background to write such a thing, let alone the creative insight. Also check out the man’s web site. If I’m not mistaken, everything in his remarkable book is also on his web site for free. I know, I’m pretty sure that’s what I read, but it seems too good to be true, so I’m doubting myself.

You there. The patient one who’s still with me. Keep at your writing, OK? You’ve got the right stuff because you enjoy the process. That matters. More than anything, I think. Two other books I want to tell you about, but this post is way too long already.

I’ve been reading and learning so much lately, and I really want to write some non-fiction blogs, but instead of doing that and messing up the (inverted) linear progression of Johanna’s story here, I’m think I’ll start writing to my reading group. I’ve got about 250 people who have entrusted me with their email addresses, and I haven’t written a single email to them yet. It’s been well over a year. I’m sorry. I said I wouldn’t spam, and I’ve kept the promise. But I’ve gone too far in the other direction. So I’m thinking I’ll tip-toe over and write to you about a couple of books that I think contain potentially life-changing information about developing good habits. You can join me in solving the world’s problems here and download my e-book, too. It’s about writing fiction. Nothing special, but you can skim it.

The above story starts here in a form that doesn’t require clicking around, hunting for the next chapter.

Please email my URL: http://www.storiform.com to a thousand people for good luck. Just kidding, don’t do that, please. Maybe email it to one person, though. If you know someone who’s way open-minded and patient.

Thanks,

Talmage


APOLLO 11 ONBOARD PHOTO: GOOD VIEW OF ASTRONAUT FOOTPRINT IN LUNAR SOIL.

Nonlocal Love (Chapter 10) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

Maxwell takes the fetal position shivering. He buries most of his face in the rug and hides his head under his thick arms, speaking into The Ganga’s Indian carpet. “This year I spent every dime on prescription opiates.” He glances up at me and shakes his head in self-reproach. “I don’t suppose anybody here’s gone cold turkey off Oxy’s.” He scans us.

Vedanshi and I shake our heads, no.

James looks down silently.

“Opiate withdrawal’s the worst,” Maxwell says. “Your blood’s on fire.” He looks at me. “I’m really sorry, Johanna.”

“Don’t be,” I tell him. “Anyone with ambition is addicted to something. It’s just a matter of what.”  I pat him on the shoulder. “I’m addicted to the dream of doing Earth-shaking genetic work in a lab of my own. It drives me into a two-dimensional thing – ideas and deadlines. No life.”

“That’s true,” James says with admiration.

“If you’re talented,” I say to Maxwell, “an obsession feels good for a while. Then you start accomplishing things, and one by one your goals ring hollow. You make bigger plans, raising the dose, but it’s temporary. No one understands you. Even the people who understand your work don’t know you as a person.” I look at James. “Remember how Dad would say, ‘Nothing kills your dreams like reaching them?'”

“Yeah… I never did get that,” James says.

“Nobody knows who you are when you’re an addict.” I jostle Maxwell’s right shoulder. “The substance makes no difference. You taught me that, coming in early all those mornings and making me have normal conversations with you.” I slap the back of his head gently, but he doesn’t look at me. “I owe you. For that and for rescuing me this morning. You should be proud of who you are. Risking your life like that. Not many people are as brave and caring as you are.”

“You don’t owe me anything,” he says. “I’m not afraid of the ocean because I surf in it. I jumped in hoping I had a chance with you.”

“You mean, dating?” Stupid question.

“Yeah.” He looks up apologetically. “That was before this happened.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small plastic bag of jade pills.

“Good man,” James says. “It would have been easy to pop one of those and stay hidden.” James grins at me and says, “Kowabunga.” He worries because I’ve never had a boyfriend.

And wow, I thought I was mission work to Maxwell. Save-a-geek, or something. “I like junkies,” I say to him, taking the bag of pills from his hand. “Your addiction doesn’t change what I think of you. Mine never bothered you. Not a bit.” I raise a crooked eyebrow at James. Maybe there’s hope for me. Socially, I mean. “But I got to say,” I tell Maxwell, “I’m surprised you believe in the disease model of addiction. I sure don’t. I don’t think the data supports the model.

“What data?” Maxwell asks.

“Most addicts quit on their own. It’s a suppressed fact. When you define yourself as a disease victim, your addiction stats get worse – according to my reading, anyway.”

“That’s not what I was taught in school.” Maxwell sits up, folds his arms and rubs his shoulders with trembling hands. “But I’d feel sheepish trying to argue about it in this condition.”

“Good,” James says. “I’ve seen guys give up right where you’re at. ‘Cause hell, it’s a disease.” He throws up his hands. “Oh-well, I’ve got a disease. Nothing I can do about it.” He sticks an imaginary straw up his nose and inhales.

I never realized James knew about drugs. “Do that again,” I tell him. “With a Scottish accent.” I find myself smiling at him with this love that overpowers me no matter what he does.

He gives Maxwell a dangerous look. It’s scary how James’ eyes can get so dark. “It’s easy to believe you got an incurable disease,” he says. “It feels kind of natural. But try believing some supernatural dude’s going to cure you. With holy magic.” He looks at Vedanshi. “Every year of my life I get a new science teacher preaching how primitive and dumb people used to be back when everyone believed in God. Then I run into a real problem and it’s all different. Some 12-step guy’s in my face saying, ‘Hey kid, remember that god delusion? Guess what? You’re going to die if he doesn’t save your diseased ass.'”

“James,” Vedanshi whispers and puts an index finger under her chin. “God has to hide and work through coincidence. Otherwise we’d be afraid of displeasing him. There would be no honest talk, no knowledge of ourselves, no free will, and no true love.” She unzips her purse, pulls out her green cylinder and starts to hand it to Maxwell, but stops. Her eyes widen at the morphing symbols on its surface. “My God, Johanna! You have a circulating clone!”

“Acute Monocytic Leukemia,” I blurt out. “I’ve got a month or two, maybe. I’m trying to skip denial.”

Tears well up in Vedanshi’s eyes. They run down her cheeks and fall off the edges of her angled jaw. One finds the carpet, rounds up and stands beside me. I look out at the Great Pyramid. The Japanese half of me is unafraid to die. The Jewish half – I don’t know, honestly. A Coptic Christian pathologist told me that the Jews built the Giza Pyramids. She was sure. But why does that seem relevant now?

“You can fix her, can’t you?” James asks Vedanshi. “With that green thing?”

She closes her eyes for a moment. “There could be a medical suite on the Easter Island base. I haven’t seen all the rooms yet. But I wouldn’t know how to operate the equipment. Or how to fix it if it doesn’t work.” She wipes her eyes with her wrists and looks at me blinking. “Let’s get you into the River. You need to learn everything we knew about leukemia.”

Giza’s transcendent pyramids shrink beneath us and the Earth begins to turn. Russia slides under and Siberia grows.

“I know a place where the magnetic field was a standing toroid,” Vedanshi says.

The Earth blurs then refocuses. We’re facing a cliff of geometric rock.

Russian

Maxwell fumbles with his boots, lying on his right side. He wants a chance with me? Nobody like him ever gave me a look.

Except this one guy in my General Physics class at the University of Hawaii. But it turned out he only wanted my help, not my love. Boy, did I help him. He changed majors before I was done tutoring him. Before he was done using me. I stayed in my room most of the week he dumped me, agonizing over the cold brutality of the word, “friends.” Of course, he was seventeen and I was ten. What did I expect?

“Can you make him feel better?” I ask Vedanshi.

“Oh, sorry,” she says and hands Maxwell the cylinder. “Press it to your forehead and you’ll go to sleep. Epigenetic changes happen during withdrawal. They make you crave the drug, so we’ll fool your body into thinking you’re not withdrawing. I can let you sleep through everything as long as you don’t snore. The Ganga can’t tolerate snoring.”

“I don’t snore,” he says. The cylinder has so many symbols on it, it’s almost black now. He takes it, thanks Vedanshi and looks at me. “You thought you were as good as dead. That’s why you tried to drown yourself.” He sits up, scooches next to me and takes both of my hands in his. “If these people built a flying machine that hates snoring, they also found a cure for every type of leukemia. That’s a given. Once you learn what they knew, you’ll use the knowledge better than they did. I guarantee it.”

“Thanks,” I tell him. “I appreciate your assumptions.” My fingers feel strange. It’s like direct current is flowing from his hands into mine.

“I’ll help you,” he says. “I’m not sure how, but I’ll bring you food and water if nothing else.”

“You’re not a water boy,” I tell him. “You’re a brilliant clinical scientist.”

“A brilliant junkie.” He squints in pain. “You’re the last person on Earth I would have chosen to see me like this. Of all the people to disappoint…”

“You haven’t disappointed me.” The idea feels upside-down and backwards as my fingers touch the side of his rugged face. “You saved my life. I’ll save yours. I’ll find a safer addiction for you to worry about.” I put the bag of pills in my shirt pocket. “I might even let you to ask me out. As long as you abandon this lame disease model. I hate learned helplessness, Max. It’s the overall harmony, the inspiration, the connecting thread and the subtext of every government school class I’ve ever taken.”

“The overall harmony?” He laughs.

“That’s my definition of inspiration. Don’t knock it.” I like the way he calls me out.

“But you’re sure addiction’s not a disease?”

“Pretty sure,” I tell him. “Multiple genes are involved. Widely diverse genes. But addiction is an acquired taste if you ask me.”

“Listen to her, dude,” James says.

“Nothing’s black and white in genetics,” I say to Maxwell. “The relationship between DNA and the mind may be inherently incomprehensible. If it is, it’s designed that way for a reason.”

Maxwell shivers. “I better do this,” he says. He lets my hands go, puts one end of the cylinder against his forehead and lies down.

Vedanshi presses her palms together in front of her face, bows her head for a moment, then looks at me. “You need months of progress in days. Just like I did. Take the lotus position and hold your breath for ten heartbeats.”

I do as she says, sensing her power. No doubt it comes from being raised by a queen to become a queen.

“Good,” she says. “When you’re done with that, breathe slowly. Full breaths in a constantly changing pattern. Make a decision about each breath. We want variably increased CO2 tension to open your prefrontal blood flow.” She inhales with a growl. “We should be in water. Nothing triggers the mammalian diver’s reflex like total submersion.”

“I barely swim,” I tell her.

“You wouldn’t need to swim. But close your eyes now, and listen to this old wall. See if you can sense it.”

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I’m not going to tell her that scientists call this thing a natural formation. It’s embarrassing.

“When I was three,” Vedanshi says, “my father brought me here to see if I could sense the bending of the magnetic field. The wall was less weather-beaten. Twice as tall, I think, but I was a toddler so everything was huge.” She closes her eyes. “I want you to take a deep breath and hold it for fifteen heartbeats this time.” She opens her eyes and looks over at James. “I think this wall was constructed in the era right before mine. The one that ended in thermonuclear holocaust.”

“They had those bombs back then?” James asks, but doesn’t wait for an answer. “Weird.” He folds his legs. “So would you guys mind if I try to do what you’re doing? Max is crashed out. My money says he snores very soon.”

“Join us,” Vedanshi says brightly. “Maybe you’re a pilot. Your head’s nice and full in the back.” She pats the back of her own head, giggles, then sits tall with her eyes closed. “If you’re seeing ones and zeros, imagine they’re falling into your head and lining up on the base of your skull.”

I close my eyes and it’s raining ones and zeros. I let them stand on either side of my sella turcica, but they heap up.

“The time-space portion of the true self is a Planck’s volume of conscious awareness,” Vedanshi says, “like the tiniest spark moving nonlocally through the brain. If you could see it, it would look like a cloud because of its rapid movement. The cloud shifts and changes like a ghost. Brighter spots are decisions and feelings. Softer areas are things like physical movements involving the parietal cortex and cerebellum, usually. When you’re awake, all your neurons are in the same place relative to the true self. But when you’re asleep, nonlocality vanishes. So there’s no free will in dreams.”

I try to decode the layers of ones and zeros in my head, but there’s no hope.

“Imagine the suffering of a five year-old boy in a cold orphanage,” Vedanshi says. “Sores cover the roof of his mouth. Memories of his mother’s warmth and gentle voice keep him awake. The cloud of your awareness extends up into your mirror neurons and down to the limbic system, bringing the boy’s suffering into you. You can feel things as he does.”

“Poor little guy,” James says.

“When another person’s pain matters to you as much as your own,” Vedanshi says, “it’s nonlocal love. You’ve discovered it. This is humanity’s highest calling, and God’s remedy for self-sabotaging.”

“Does everything have to be religious?” James says.

“Actually, God isn’t religious,” she says. “He didn’t say anything religious when we spoke. He doesn’t worship a higher power or cower in fear of punishment. He does what’s right because it is right, and he suffers with us because he’s full of nonlocal love.”

I hope she’ll tell us her story. Some researchers estimate that 13 million adults have had a near-death experience in the US alone. If Maxwell wasn’t a fast runner, I might have seen the white room myself this morning.

In the white room with black curtains near the station.
Blackroof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings…
…As I walked out, felt my own need just beginning.

“The Ganga’s afraid you’ll think I’m crazy,” Vedanshi says to me.

“Don’t worry,” I tell her. “Near death enlightenment isn’t rare these days. Scientists actually study it.”

“No kidding?” she says. “I’ll bet they studied it in my day, too. And kept their findings locked away from young people.” She leans forward and touches the top of her head to the carpet in front of her crossed legs. She stretches her arms out behind her back and then raises them up like wings. “Now, if you’ve got any numbers, let the code lie there. Don’t try to sort it or understand it. It will understand you.”

As I stare at golden zeros and ones, they change from Arabic numerals to symbols I’ve never seen. The ones look like vertical shepherd’s crooks and the zeros could pass for fancy commas. I hold my breath and suddenly it’s as if I’m looking through someone else’s eyes at a pair of aged hands. I recognize Vaar’s signet ring on her left middle finger. I hear a ghostly impression of her voice saying that she has no intention of doing what I told her. She’s calling someone. There’s a large crater full of strange machines. Some of them are shaped like UFO’s. The sky is black. Shadows are harsh. It’s the surface of the moon. It must be. I recognize the dust.

M. Talmage Moorehead

Personal note to fiction writers…

I’ve been lacking discipline during my interstate move, so a couple of days ago I started James Patterson’s course on fiction writing. He’s had 19 consecutive number one NY Times best sellers, as I recall.

So far, I’ve merely listened to him talking about his process on video. Inspirational. I wrote all day today, noticing a new sense of freedom and energy.

Patterson, like Stephen King, derives happiness from writing. But unlike King, Patterson uses “outlines” extensively and considers them essential to avoiding “writing himself into a corner,” (i.e. creating a problem that can’t be logically solved and therefore requires writers to abandon months of writing, a phenom that happens a lot to me because I don’t stick to an outline), avoiding boring chapters, creating more interesting twists by allowing greater flexibility ahead of the actual writing.

I’ve always agreed with the proponents of outlines and envied them because my characters ignore me. But I’m not giving up. Partly because of this…

An eye-opener for me was reading the thing he calls an “outline.” It’s actually an informal, modestly detailed synopsis of each chapter. The kind of thing I could do after writing a chapter, but wouldn’t naturally do before writing it.

His course includes a complete final “outline” of his novel, Honeymoon. He does three to six re-writes of an outline before beginning the writing. He says a person should be able to tell if it’s a good story by reading the outline. I wouldn’t have believed it, except that I read his outline and found it hard to put down.

Imagine the implications.

Obviously, I can’t make a final judgement for you on Patterson’s course until I finish it. But preliminarily I’d have to say that just hearing Patterson’s brief videos has been worth my 90 bucks. It was exactly what I needed right now.

By the way, I’ve got no conflict of interest to disclose. I wish I did.

Talmage

The above story starts here.

My humble and yet infallible e-book, “Writing Meaningful Page-turners,” is free here.

Please email my URL: http://www.storiform.com to your favorite strange uncle. :)

Thanks for everything! Keep writing. Some people are intelligently designed for it!!! :)


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Knowledge (Chapter 9) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

“Scientists can be Atheists?” Vedanshi asks in disbelief.

We’re in the air near the great Sphinx, cloaked in The Ganga. At this range the Sphinx’s ageless eyes fill me with awe and reverence. The statue knows what I’m thinking but doesn’t care. No, that’s crazy.

“Only a third of scientists believe in God,” I tell Vedanshi. It’s not like Revelation where two-thirds stayed on board.

Vedanshi’s eyes are wide. “And they feel sure there was never a great flood?”

“They’re absolutely sure. It goes against the tradition of a stable Earth with a gradual accumulation of small changes.”

“A stable Earth?” Now she smirks. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that were true!” She glances over at Maxwell’s glazed expression. “But they must know… The Earth’s surface is 71 percent water. You’ve got moon craters with asteroid mountains over two miles high.”

The peaks in the Tsiolkovskiy Crater come to mind…

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“Which ought to tell someone the height of an asteroid tsunami,” she says.

Shoemaker-Levy could have been a clue, too. Slamming Jupiter 1994.

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“And don’t you have two thousand flood stories?” she asks.

I nod. Quite a coincidence that bit of data.

“But you’re telling me science sees no evidence of a global flood?”

“None.” And the blind are well aware of twenty-seven significant asteroid events in the last 15 years, most of them explosions over an ocean.

“This is disappointing.” She closes her eyes and locks her legs like pretzels.

Her legs are longer than mine, you know. I wish I had longer legs… But there’s this part of me that lives in stats. This time the statistics involve the tenth commandment, believe it or not: “Thou shalt not covet.” Wouldn’t you know? People who make envious comparisons tend to be unhappy. It’s science. I have to accept my short legs. Otherwise I’ll wind up as another case report of perfect autobiographical memory ending in depression and suicide. If this leukemia doesn’t get me first.

“Now you have 2,001 flood myths.” Vedanshi says. “And I’m an eyewitness to your latest one.”

“To me you’re the most important scientist alive. But to modern science your life is an anecdotal report. And since you’re not a PhD, your observations and ideas won’t be taken seriously.” I hate the irony of closed-minded truth seekers. Science is fueled by wonder but fooled by pride. “Unless you landed The Ganga on the White House Lawn and overcame the deafening censorship on UFO stories, you couldn’t publish a word of your culture’s knowledge in a science journal. You’d have to write a book, self-publish it, and spend the rest of your life ignoring attacks from PhD’s and late-night comedians.”

“It’s a heart-shaped box,” James says, conjuring Kurt Cobain

She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak.

I’ve been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks.

I’ve been drawn into your magnet tar-pit trap.

I wish I could eat your cancer…

Vedanshi looks at James quizzically but speaks to me. “Science is in a rut, huh?”

Maxwell flops over on his belly and groans. Too many chicken wings, this one.

“Generous assessment,” I say to Vedanshi. “Science is allergic to unfunded realities. It hates the Christian religion above all else. If the global flood weren’t mentioned in the Bible, it would be government school dogma like the Big Bang’s myth of a reality without conscious awareness.”

Vedanshi looks out at the Great Pyramid. “This culture is more primitive that I thought. How did you manage to build a pyramid like that?”

“Frankly, I’m not sure we did.”

“It seems your scientists trust logic to understand a universe that defies logic.” She looks at James, “The observer’s retroactive influence on outcome. Nonlocality. Time dilation. Light’s behavior in slits. Quantum wave collapse. The mind’s effect on random events.”

“To name a few,” I say, wondering if the question isn’t waves versus particles, but what sort of reality creates such a weird dilemma?

“Your elite thinkers seem to trust their eyes with a universe that’s mostly invisible.” Vedanshi makes an arc in the air with her right hand. “The Earth could be spinning in an arena of dark matter, crowded with intelligent spectators, and science would be helpless to detect it.”

“Physicists readily admit that,” I say.

“Really?” She looks surprised. “So why would anyone think science could cast doubt on God?”

“It’s their circular belief that there’s no evidence of God. Circular in the sense that history has forced science to explain things in a way that deliberately excludes God. So if a data set were to prove God’s existence, science would have already denied the data’s existence or validity.”

“It sounds like, ‘no girls allowed.'” Vedanshi laughs. “But how is that possible? How do they explain DNA without God?”

“They treat DNA the way they treat the Bible. They don’t read it. They only read about it.”

“Christians don’t read the Bible either,” James says. “That’s how come they think it’s perfect.”

James and I went to a church school for a while. Mom found a Christian church that kept the Jewish Sabbath so she thought it would broaden our minds to go there. I skipped most of the grades and moved on, but James was there for several years. Not a pleasant place for a rock musician.

“The scientists who understand DNA’s language still think in terms of amino acids, random mutations and primary structure,” I say.

“You’ve got to be kidding,” she says. “Your people have been to the moon. How could they be so primitive with genetics?”

“I don’t know. I think the problem is fear. They’re afraid of the overwhelming complexity of four-dimensional anatomy and physiology, and the mind-brain-DNA enigma. It’s the same way the Egyptologists don’t dare to look at things from the perspective of modern engineering.”

“What are they afraid of?” she asks.

“Changing basic assumptions about history and intelligent influence. Losing grant money. Being influenced by what they believe is the mortal enemy of rational thought – religion.”

Vedanshi takes a moment to think, then shakes her head in amazement. “I should read this Bible. Are there other taboo documents?” She glances away and her expression changes. “The Ganga says I’m too young.”

“The Bible’s too racy?” I ask.

Her brow knits. “It’s mainly a passage in Ezekiel.”

“This carpet thinks it’s your mother,” James says.

“Could you ask The Ganga for chapter and verse,” I ask. “I promise I won’t quote it to you.”

She looks down. “It’s from chapter one, verse four through chapter two verse three.”

“Thanks.” The verses flash into my head. A few jump out…

…I saw a windstorm coming out of the north–an immense cloud with flashing lightning and surrounded by brilliant light. The center of the fire looked like glowing metal, and in the fire was what looked like four living creatures.

…their form was human, but each of them had four faces and four wings…

…Fire moved back and forth among the creatures; it was bright, and lightning flashed out of it.

The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.

…I saw a wheel on the ground beside each creature… …the wheels… sparkled like topaz, and all four looked alike.

Each appeared to be made like a wheel intersecting a wheel…

When the living creatures moved, the wheels beside them moved; and when the living creatures rose from the ground, the wheels also rose…

Spread out above the heads of the living creatures was what looked something like a vault, sparkling like crystal, and awesome.

…When the creatures moved, I heard the sound of their wings, like the roar of rushing waters, like the voice of the Almighty, like the tumult of an army…

…Above the vault over their heads was what looked like a throne of lapis lazuli, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man.

…from … his waist up he looked like glowing metal…

Like… a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.

This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD…

Why would The Ganga want to keep a sixteen-year-old from reading that? I can think of two possibilities. Religion and ET’s.

James wipes his greasy fingers on his pants. Vedanshi didn’t want him to eat the chicken after he told her it was genetically modified – even though I said the whole story is a myth. The birds are selectively bred, not modified. It’s the same thing humans have been doing to dogs forever.

Speaking of dogs, from where I’m sitting, you can’t help but notice that the Sphinx resembles a dog the way its front paws stick out. I wonder why the word “dog” and the word “God” are so alike. Especially if God works through coincidence.

I think a smart dog’s emotions are basically human. Maybe God’s emotions are basically human, too, just coming from the direction of higher intelligence.

2

Vedanshi takes The Ganga over the Sphinx’s right paw, then down through phantom bricks and sandstone to a thirty foot cubic chamber with walls that glow golden-brown in our light. Attached to the ceiling is a glass pyramid. I’d say it’s three yards per side and about that tall, pointing down at the floor with its base somehow attached to the ceiling. We move under it. Vedanshi leans out and puts her eye under the point, then motions for me to come look. I follow her example, look up into the glass and a red flower appears. Its petals seem to move like fingers, but when I look carefully the movement must be in my mind.

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I tilt my head, then get up on my knees to look at it through the side of the pyramid, closer to the ceiling. To my astonishment, the flower is a tiny drawing on the tip of a long shaft of black hair, encased in the center of the glass pyramid and extending down from the base.

Vedanshi sighs. “Oh, brother. The Ganga says the library’s still functional, so I’m not allowed inside.”

“What’s the problem?” James asks. “I don’t see any books.”

“You will.” She points up. “Those green branching things.”

James moves his head under the apex and looks up. “Really? They look like frozen lightning.”

“They hold books, pictures and three-dimensional holographic videos, all in DNA. The info here would fill a warehouse the size of Easter Island if it were stored in your culture’s binary code… on plastic and magnets.”

“They look like cryptic symbols,” I say, leaning back in for another glance.

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“They’re a road map of lymphatic vessels,” Vedanshi says. “From a relative of your kangaroo rat, modified to preserve non-ordering DNA in any climate. Everything was kept in DNA in my era, going back fifteen thousand years. Most of the older records had been transferred to DNA, as well.”

“How do you get the information out?” I ask.

“The glass pyramid around the Flower of Life uses a microscopic plasma wave to read the code through the walls of the lymphatics. It translates the information to the universal binary language of awareness and transmits it to a neural eye so it can enter the River of Consciousness.”

“Where’s the neural eye?” James asks. “Sounds creepy.”

“At the apex of a pyramid.”

“So the information goes to the River,” I say. “Does that mean you need an AI vehicle to access it?”

“As far as I know,” she says. “Unless you’re already inside the library. But libraries have no real doors, so you need a phase-shifted ship to get in.”

“Was education limited to pilots, then?” I ask.

“Officially, yes, but not really. Pilots and stretch heads were the only ones legally authorized to know things.”

I’m frowning, not big on self-absorbed elites holding others back.

“From what I’ve read,” she says, “our educational system was no more discriminatory than yours in the United States. But instead of devaluing knowledge by forcing it on everyone, our culture made it mysterious and difficult to get. So everyone wanted it. And most people bought as much of it as they could afford on the black market. It was my mother’s secret plot to promote education. Apparently it worked.” Vedanshi turns her head away from the inverted pyramid. “I’m seeing things I probably shouldn’t. We’d better go.”

“What if I learn the River’s language?” I ask. “Will I be allowed into your libraries? With The Ganga?”

“Of course. You said you’re over eighteen, right?”

“Yeah, I’m nineteen.”

“Perfect. I trust you completely. So does The Ganga.” Vedanshi whisks us out of the Sphinx’s underground library and up into its gaze.

1

You know, I think this statue does look older than the pyramid behind it. And there’s heavy water erosion on its chest and on the walls around it.

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That could mean it was here before this place became a desert – supposedly 3,200 BC, if you trust ice core data. I think I do, but I don’t know any of those scientists personally, so I can’t gauge their honesty. Some branches of science are dominated by sociopaths, I’ve found. They’re a broad spectrum of personality types, but they have at least one thing in common. They pride themselves in being liars.

“I’m not feeling so good,” Maxwell says.

“Egyptian fast food zombie apocalypse?” I ask.

“No,” he says. “It’s worse.” He lies on his right side and brings his knees up toward his chin. “Addiction runs in my family. It’s a disease.”

M. Talmage Moorehead

Chapter 0 starts here.

By the way, I’ve found an editor who has that unique talent set I’ve been hoping to find, namely the understanding soul of an artist who can gently convey the brilliant corrective insights of a gifted fiction analyzer and editor. On top of that, this man has been traditionally published: nine novels, some of which are science fiction! He’s an editor, a book doctor, a ghost writer, a successful author and above all, a genuine human being.

His name is William Greenleaf. (Here’s his web address in case the link isn’t working: http://greenleafliteraryservices.com/.)

Mr. Greenleaf has evaluated my previous “traditional” version of Johanna’s story that I abandoned, the current “experimental” version that’s in-progress above, and a short story I wrote two years ago. In each case his analysis was unquestionably accurate, unbiased, hugely insightful and wise… and despite the bad news in some areas, he was able to communicate the problems to me in such a way as to avoid discouraging me.

That’s not easy. I’m not exactly thick-skinned as a writer (or as anything else), so the fact that I’m the opposite of discouraged says a lot about him as a communicator and a human being.

I’m going back now to finish the previous traditional version of Johanna’s story (past tense, 3rd person, no pictures or links) while I continue writing the above experimental story. The two stories are quite different, so it’s going to be confusing to my neurons, but it will be great sport!

Just so you know, William Greenleaf didn’t ask me to write this, and I’ve got no conflict of interest whatsoever (meaning I’m not getting a discount or any special treatment of any kind for writing this).

If you need help with your writing (we all do) however major or minor, William Greenleaf has my highest and most enthusiastically positive recommendation. The man’s work is spectacular and amazing. Here’s his website again…

http://greenleafliteraryservices.com/

If I had an image right here of a book entitled, Writing Meaningful Page-turners with a professional looking cover – let’s say of the ocean and a seagull flying over a beach – stats show that many more people would download my free e-book. They would feel as if it were somehow a valuable thing. Please remember this for your own work, whenever you’re selling anything or giving it away.

Without that picture, the book’s value is diminished. It’s not logical, but it’s true.

Anyway, my little e-book’s about 10,000 words. Someday I’ll make a “cover” for it so I can give it away better.

Anything can happen – reading it could totally change you life, but I have to say I doubt it’s going to be anything more than a decent read. If you like discovering “newish” wordsmith mechanics of “voice,” you may enjoy the second to last chapter.

You can download my e-book without the slightest concern of me spamming you or sharing your email. The fact is, I haven’t written a single email to the list yet and it’s been over a year since I started it. I should do something about that.

Before I forget, please email a friend with a link to my blog… if you know anybody who might like this odd sort of fiction. Here’s my URL: http://www.storiform.com (You can copy and paste it to an email, maybe.) Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.

Personal note to fiction writers…

A few days ago this chapter was twice this long. I divided it in half, but it’s still twice as long as it should be for a blog post. I feel that writing short chapters is making it tough to bring out character emotion and adequate description for a sense of 3D placement.

The plot movement and conflict I promised us last time? Hey, I tried, but it’s as if my plotting fingers are stuck in the mud of ideas and my tendency to write to a topic rather than explore emotion. That’s a mistake you can learn from by noting my bad example. I love ideas too much, and I love speculative non-fiction too much, perhaps. But don’t worry. I’m going to pull this baby out of the mud. It’s not as if I can’t see what’s wrong, especially after some recent input I’ve had from the amazing editor, book doctor, ghost writer and traditionally published author of 9 novels, William Greenleaf (please see the paragraphs about him above) as well as some brilliantly insightful input from across the pond. Thanks to each one of you from the bottom of my heart.

One of the things that William Greenleaf opened my eyes to is the need to sense Johanna’s world in every detail as I write. I’m going to flesh this out for you because it’s a huge breakthrough for me…

I was writing a traditional version of Johanna’s story in my usual OCDish slow way, seeing every little thing and crying like a little girl over things that touched my heart. Things like Johanna appreciating her brother’s music, but him being unable to comprehend exactly what she does for a living.

And then I came across an article about a successful indie writer who cranks out 10,000 words per day. The article was detailed and I gave her technique a try. (I wrote a post about it here.) I was able to go fairly fast and soon doubled the word count on my story. It felt nice being faster, and I read the fast stuff and thought it was fine. But somehow I didn’t feel like I was connecting with Johanna the way I usually do. Nothing hit me with powerful emotion. The plot seemed fine, a bit improved even.

But the lack of emotional connection with Johanna made me start wondering what it would be like to write in first person. Could I get close to Johanna again? So I abandoned the traditional story and began the current first person present tense “experimental” version above. Incidentally, all the idea-oriented content is getting between me and Johanna in this version lately.

Not knowing any of this, William Greenleaf analyzed the traditional version and pinpointed the drop in quality of the story, the exact place where I started trying to write fast. He said that I was having viewpoint issues. It was so true, but not merely in the superficial way that I would usually think of viewpoint “inconsistencies” – things like describing something the VP character can’t see or know.

This was more a lack of careful, detailed experiencing of Johanna’s world, especially her feelings, her thoughts, her wants, her plans, her hopes, her insecurities, her hurts. The very things that usually make me cry over her situation when I’m writing for her.

There were many other equally brilliant things that Mr. Greenleaf uncovered in his analysis, but this one was key. I had to tell you in detail.

I can’t thank the inspired Greek Artist, Spira, enough for generously allowing me to use his breathtaking artwork and sensational photographs of Egypt. You’ll enjoy his groundbreaking artwork here: https://spirasc.wordpress.com. Take your time and really look at what he’s doing and saying. Give yourself mental space to feel it.

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Stay positive about your writing. If you’re sensitive to criticism and easily discouraged like I am, admit it to yourself without making it your final destination. And be selective about whom you show your work to. Getting help is essential, but if the people helping you are not 1. A lot better at analyzing your writing than you are and 2. Capable of expressing criticism in a way that doesn’t kill your motivation to write, then you’re far better off keeping your writing strictly to yourself until its ready for a first-class professional like William Greenleaf. Actually, you don’t have to wait until you’re done with a first draft to show it to Mr. Greenleaf. I’m sure glad I didn’t wait! It’s difficult to get the feeling across as to why I’m so thankful to God and the Universe for leading me to this man’s website, but it’s about hope. There’s nothing like having solid evidence that your dream of making it as a writer is based somewhere within the realm of reality. William Greenleaf is objectively qualified to give you that hope. Equally important, he’s the kind of person who refuses to deliver any false hope. Trust me, I know.

Check out, “The How of Happiness,” by Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Originally from Russia, she received her A.B., summa cum laude, from Harvard University and her Ph.D. in Social/Personality Psychology from Stanford University. Her book is the most science-based and useful writing I’ve found so far on happiness. Most creative people would do themselves a big favor by reading it and practicing the broad range of scientifically studied techniques she describes for overcoming the emotional lows. Her book is for real. It will change the lives of many people.

Keep writing and be happy! Thanks for your patience. :)

Talmage


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Stasis (Chapter 8) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

Is it me, or is it a little unnerving to find the words, “United States” inside a UFO?

With two time-frozen men in hoods.

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Generations ago, Ojiichan saw a Japanese boy in a black hood flying a Zero toward Pearl Harbor.

That same Sunday a second-generation Japanese-American guy named Daniel took offence to the bombing of his island.

He dropped school and quit his job to become eligible for the Army, but got classified 4-C…

Enemy Alien.

He never gave up trying to get in, and finally, under the novel influence of logic and reason, D.C. allowed 4-C’s to fight.

Shortly thereafter, Daniel met a strange warrior.

In this photo, the phenotype is evident in his right eye, forever determined.

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“If you must give your life, do so with honor,” Daniel’s father told him.

In combat, Daniel became a legend. Near the end of his fighting career he found himself prying a live grenade from his own nerve-dead right hand and lobbing it at the enemy with the accuracy of his left.

Then, after an insane one-man charge, right arm useless and dangling, gut shot with an exit wound near the spine, propped against a tree to take pressure off the bullet in his leg, Daniel noticed his men catching up, thinking to carry him from the field before he bled to death.

“Nobody called off the war,” he growled, and ordered them back.

These things are documented. All the witnesses from the Japanese-American 442nd Regiment recounted the details of his bulletproof confidence, the innate tactical genius, the deadly absence of fear. One of my own relatives fought in the 442nd.

Daniel lost his arm, but not before delivering the message of Samurai DNA…

“Honor alone defeats the sociopath.”

Thirty-three of Hitler’s hardened troops saw the signature in the cell that day.

Later, when Daniel became Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii and found himself in the heated Iran-Contra hearings where a US President was accused of unconstitutional behavior, our elected Samurai said…

“[There exists] a shadowy government with its own air force, its own navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of the national interest, free from all checks and balances and free from the law itself.”

Until now I refused to connect those words to President Eisenhower’s warning of 1961…

“The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment… and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet… we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific technological elite.”

A black triangle in near space…

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US Government policy dictated by an unelected elite?

Rule of thumb – (can I say this in a novel, Talmage?) – Don’t be shocked by UFO’s, just chew before swallowing.

Classified defense contracts are logical in a world that generates Hitlers.

But if we’re hiding zero-point energy from starving kids, perhaps we have a sociopathic technological elite making our biggest decisions.

My mind still resists that notion as I sit on an ancient Indian carpet in space and stare at a triangle that I’ve heard called the TR-3B.

TR-3B

In front of it, a time-frozen corkscrew mist stretches out for six hundred yards into space. It looks like the “camera-shutter artifact” captured on reentry of the Space Shuttle Columbia in 2003, just before she exploded. God rest their souls.

Here’s that “artifact,” from a video documentary…

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Despite two punctate stars (forget the circular pointer), NASA says that this photo “suggests” a jiggle in the camera’s shutter. I can’t imagine they believed that, but the cloudless ionospheric lightning theory would have flown.

No?

“What in the world is that purple trail?” I ask Vedanshi who’s in cobra pose to my right. Always yoga.

“Looks like smoke from an unbalanced missile, but I don’t know,” she says. “The chemistry’s buried in phase shift.”

The Ganga’s orb touches the triangle and dims as it moves into the hull.

“They’re ghosts,” Vedanshi says.

The Ganga takes us closer, then eases us slowly through the hull and into an ethereal cockpit. The top halves of the two men come up through the carpet behind us as we study the control panel with our bodies leaning through the backs of the bucket seats.

I notice a clipboard beside the Chief of Staff’s chair. On it there’s a memo from “Paul Adolph Volker, Jr., Chairman of The Federal Reserve Board.” It’s dated, August 21, 1984, and says…

“The economically disruptive nature of zero-point technology demands it be kept from the public. Your ongoing cooperation is imperative. I would remind you that all conversations are monitored.”

“Does The Ganga run on zero-point?” I ask Vedanshi.

“Yes, but she prefers zero-point gravity over the electromagnetic spectrum. She claims it’s the taste, but I think it’s pride.” Vedanshi winks at the carpet beside her. “She has the most advanced technology in recorded history… At least the parts of history that a sixteen-year-old was allowed to read.”

“Did other ships from your era survive the asteroids?” Maxwell asks.

“Probably. But not in stasis. I don’t think anyone but my mom’s techs could rig a ship for controlled quantum stasis. And even they botched it. To do the job right you need a pyramid.”

The Sea of Tranquility peers down from the moon. I could imagine a well-stocked ship going there to miss an asteroid storm. Or maybe they’d go to Mars. A photo of a pyramidal mountain on Mars pops into my head…

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“Wait,” I say to her, “you mean the pyramids were used for suspended animation?”

“Among other things,” Vedanshi says. “Most pyramids had multiple talents. My favorite thing was mood enhancement.”

There’s a piece of white paper under the foot of the hooded Chief of Staff.  The name on his lapel badge has no vowels.

“Mood?” Maxwell asks, forgetting to close his mouth.

Vedanshi nods. “Some pyramids were resonant. You could hear them for miles. The Builders made them in sets of three to produce a haunting minor chord. They sang every seventh day. If you sat and breathed slowly, the sound brought new enthusiasm. Spiritual technology. I miss that sound more than… even the garden in my bedroom.”

“You had a garden in your bedroom?” James asks.

She nods wistfully. “You know, this science-spirit dichotomy of your era is bogus.”

James just stares at her – an unusual response from him.

“Have you seen the pyramids at Giza?” I ask and put my forehead against the deck to see if anything’s legible on the paper under the Chief’s statuesque foot.

“I’ve seen images,” she says and leans over to see what I’m squinting at. “You want to go check ’em out in person?” There’s the child in her voice again.

James straightens up his lotus position. “To Giza KFC,” he says solemnly, and raises an index finger. “Make it so.” As his hand falls, I see Captain Picard in my head…

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“Let’s do it,” I say as frozen words from 1984 shift in and out of focus, most of the message probably hidden under a wide boot:

“All international bank debt will henceforth be transferred to taxpayers through the International Monitory Fund. Breakaway civilization is re-established.”

The pages of a book I skimmed in an eight-year-old pout, The Creature From Jekyll Island, appear again. Since I was thirty-three days shy of my fourth birthday, I’ve been able to read faster than I can turn pages. I’ve always been able to re-read from memory at least ten times faster than I can read from a book. Bottom line on Jekyll Island?

The Fed is inconceivably evil.

Thomas Jefferson might have agreed…

I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom. And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt

The Earth spins beneath us as we descend. The enormous African Continent fills the horizons. Everything becomes a tan blur, but before I can worry that we’re about to crash, we’re looking through double glass doors at the tops of the Giza Pyramids…

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“Yesssss!” James hisses. “I’m so hungry I could cry!”

“In a minute I shall cry,” I say, channeling Scarlett O’Hara.

James chuckles, looks at me and shakes his head. “Man, you sound just like her… Hey, anybody got some Benjamins?”

I shake my head, Maxwell checks his pockets and Vedanshi unzips her purse. She pulls out a crisp fifty dollar bill as the glass doors in front of us burst open and a large man walks straight through me at full tilt, stops at the counter behind us and seems to be placing an order in the local tongue.

My heart pounds at the horror of being a ghost. I’m not dead, though, so it shouldn’t be a big deal, right?

James starts chanting, “I’ve never seen a man eat so many chicken wings,” repeating it with increasing anger as Vedanshi smiles at him and giggles.

Now I ask you, how could she get that joke? It’s a spoof on Korn, for heaven sake! She’s never heard of Korn.

Has she?

Maxwell is leaning back on his right elbow managing not to look startled by our first encounter with lunch traffic.

“Tourist info,” Vedanshi says. “The Ganga informs me that there used to be a library under the right paw of The Great Dog. She says there’s a statue similar to it in the very same spot… Called the Sphinx?” She looks at me and smiles broadly. “You want to…”

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“We’re eating first,” James says and pounds the rug.

Maxwell holds out his right first, and the boys bump knuckles.

M. Talmage Moorehead

This in-progress story starts here.

Join my email group here and download my e-book, “Writing Meaningful Page-turners.” Sounds boring, but if you’ve never read a book on fiction writing, this will be the best one ever! For you. So far. I’m pretty sure.

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Personal note to fiction writers:

Sweet, this chapter was shorter. Still too long, but next chapter I’ll try to add some conflict and make it yet shorter. I realize conflict is probably the second most important part of energy flow in a story (from book to reader, vs the opposite), so why is my story lacking conflict?

First, it’s early and I’m hoping to build. But let’s be honest, it’s not that early.

OK… plot twists with conflict are best designed to highlight your characters’ strengths, weaknesses and especially big motivational changes. When I manage to do things that way, I don’t feel arbitrary or manipulative. But writing plot conflict in general is energy-consuming because “working memory” is pegged out quickly (at my age) when I put characters in complex grave dangers that leave only a less-than-obvious (but logical) way of escape. Writing in pegged-out mode is exhausting and challenging. I try not to be lazy, but it requires all kinds of self-control and exercise of free will to build meaningful conflict into the plot.

Plus conflict is risky, and I’m somewhat afraid of it. I might get one of my characters killed. I would deeply hate that experience! Yeah, I know that attitude is unprofessional – what would you call it? “Sentimentalism?” But hey, it’s me. Your humble and yet infallible hack. We must all go with what we are, facing our limitations and striving to overcome and work around them.

At least I realize I need conflict to salvage the energy flow of this story. Otherwise it’s going to be boring. I’ll try harder next chapter. You do the same, maybe. With your talent, you could blow the doors off any complex plot issue. Don’t hold back.

Keep going. Stay pumped!

Talmage


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Tampering (Chapter 7) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

As I’m pressing a cold green cylinder to my forehead, my North Star, Barbara McClintock, comes to mind.

Here she is, my life-long idol, standing next to her brother, across from a brave dog that she’s teaching by example, confident energy. “Relax and stop shaking,” her body language says.

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Barbara’s life sends me confidence, too. She single-handedly discovered genetic regulation in 1951, but to this day the quagmire of Biased Science refuses to credit her with the earth-shaking advance.

Why?

Her work was too complex for other geneticists. To them, any notion that genes were regulated by stress implied a layer of control that smacked of intelligence. It wasn’t that Barbara McClintock intended to say anything about intelligent design, or God. She just reported the complexity she’d uncovered in her breathtaking work. But the facts themselves were heresy to the mainstream who knew that only simple static genes could fit their model. That model had become a “fact” in the strange fundamentalist-style thinking of the time.

Stranger still, that model rules all scientific thought today. We are frozen in an 1859 view of biology that ignores the clear implications of modern genetics.

Under academic pressure to produce nothing that would question the simplistic Darwinian model of life, Barbara stopped publishing her work at the peak of her genius in 1953.

In 1959 two men uncovered the lac operon – an on-off gene switch. Its simplicity buffered the emotional trauma to the paradigm fundamentalists. Genetic regulation now existed, despite the impossibility of it. But since it was so simple, perhaps no one had to panic. Unfortunately, Barbara’s old papers popped up in the archives. It must have been humiliating to the academics who’d shut her up in 1953.

I hope so.

A belated Nobel Prize came to her in 1983, but not for the discovery of genetic regulation. That would have been an admission of guilt from the zealots of mainstream origins mythology.

Instead, the Nobel committee repeated the mind-boggling abuse dealt to Einstein. They gave Barbara a Prize for a lessor breakthrough, hoping to obscure her status in history as the Founder of Genetic Regulation.

Make no mistake: Barbara McClintock is the Founder of Genetic Regulation!

And she’s my hero.

Here’s how she sounded in 1973 — twenty years after the academic thought police bullied her out of their journals, and ten years before her Nobel Prize:

“Over the years I have found that it is difficult if not impossible to bring to consciousness of another person the nature of his tacit assumptions when, by some special experiences, I have been made aware of them. This became painfully evident to me in my attempts during the 1950’s to convince geneticists that the action of genes had to be and was controlled. It is now equally painful to recognize the fixity of assumptions that many persons hold on the nature of controlling elements in maize and the manners of their operation. One must await the right time for conceptual change.”

It’s time…

Intelligent design glows like the moon in DNA’s hypercomplexity. The first set of tiny machines to replicate DNA and carry out its complex commands didn’t come from DNA because DNA needed those machines to do the work. Without them, DNA can do nothing.

Intelligence must have constructed the first set of cytoplasmic machines. We have a model for this today in human construction of computerized robots and their software.

So far, intelligent design is the best model to explain how DNA got started. Ironically, to reject it requires fundamentalist thinking – holding to old emotional beliefs despite new information.

Scientific fundamentalism shuns all notions of a higher intelligence, both the possibility of a God who transcends space and time, and the notion of other planets with intelligent life far enough ahead of us to arrive in our skies.

True science is open to all possibilities, bar none, especially when some fringe idea explains or predicts weird data, as happened to Barbara MaClintock, Albert Einstein and now Stephen Meyer.

I hear The Grudge in my head, Tool’s message to rigid Nobel committees and to all scientists married to their assumptions…

Clutch it like a cornerstone.

Otherwise it all comes down.

Justify denials and

Grip ’em to the lonesome end…

Terrified of being wrong…

Wear your grudge like a crown.

Desperate to control.

I’m not shivering now. “This works,” I say to Vedanshi as tiny symbols appear on the cylinder.

“Let me try,” James says. He takes it and pretends to shave. Excellent sound effects. “Feels kind of weird,” he says and hands it back to Vedanshi.

“The old woman’s already in Nazca,” Vedanshi says. “We better go. We can eat later.”

James moans.

We follow Vedanshi back to The Ganga, get in and take our places. The granite room becomes an underwater landscape for a split second, followed by a shrinking triangular island, then the coast of South America. Peru expands until the Nazca Lines bring a sense of the ancient high-tech past.

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“Looks like an old airport,” James says.

“Like a giant etch-a-sketch,” Maxwell says.

“The old woman’s got light-bending tech.” Vedanshi shakes her head in pity. “Look right there.” She points at the far end of a tapering runway-like thing…

Nazca

As I squint at the “religious artwork” of an extinct “primitive” tribe, The Ganga inserts a yellow filter and a UFO appears near the ground in the morning sun about a mile away. It looks like a Cuban cigar, but metallic and gray with longitudinal seams. A broad blue laser beam glares down from the near end onto the Nazca “runway” and steam rises where it hits.

“Looks like a Maui Bazooka,” James mumbles and bursts into song, “I take a toke and all my cares go up in smoke.”

“I didn’t realize this was a musical,” I tell him as an inverted funnel descends from the belly of the craft to draw in the steam. The laser creeps toward us along the runway, matching its increasing width.

“Coherent field electromagnetics,” Vedanshi says. “You dial the wavelength to the molecular bond force of whatever you’re mining. Iridium in this case.”

“Phase shifting from solid to gas?” I’ve seen a patent on this.

Vedanshi nods. “At ambient temp.”

“Did they soften rocks this way, too?” I ask, picturing the great wall at Ollantaytambo

Peru_-_Sacred_Valley_&_Incan_Ruins_238_-_Ollantaytambo_ruins_(8115049949)

“Some had to,” Vedanshi says. “But the great Builders preserved the natural grain of rocks. You lose that in molds.”

“What’s wrong with wood and steel?” Maxwell asks.

“Stone spares the oxygen producers, avoids toxic hydrocarbons and gives you unlimited building materials. But the main thing is longevity. Anything that didn’t last twenty thousand years was a failure to the Builders. Iron alloys break down.”

“What was your average life span?” Maxwell asks.

“It varied. The stretch heads lived the longest. During the Reshaping, one of their families gained power and began editing their genes. A few of them survived for eighty thousand years, but in the process of tampering, they created hundreds of new diseases. Each one had to be fixed, and most of the fixes had bad side effects unless they restored the original sequences. Which they were usually too proud to do.” She shakes her head. “Average people lived only a thousand years, but without much disease.”

“How long will you live?” James asks.

“If I had my mother’s technicians, I’d be here for ten thousand years at least. But with the equipment I’ve got, I don’t know, maybe a thousand. Too much radiation gets through the Earth’s magnetic field now.”

An Aurora from a recent coronal mass ejection flashes to mind…

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“I won’t live a tenth as long as you,” James says mournfully.

“Don’t worry, I won’t let you die of old age before I do.” She smiles and takes the jade cylinder out of her purse. “This doesn’t look like much, but…” Her brow furrows as she reads it. Then she looks up wide-eyed at James. “Never in my wildest dreams… You’re a poet! The real ones were all cured.”

“Huh?” James says.

“No, I don’t me cured… In my day the poets were legends. We had your music, your stories, your magic… but mostly we had the vacuum you created when you all left us. When depression was cured.” She twists the cylinder. “You have a rare music locus.”

I wish I had my phone so I could play James’ ringtones. Maybe The Ganga can access his website. I close my eyes for a second and translate www.skullcage.com into ones and zeros, but it’s ASCII, not the machine language of consciousness.

Vedanshi stares at James. “I don’t want to change you,” she says. “Do you ever feel like killing yourself… ever?”

He gazes out at the long slender craft with its laser beam mining an ancient Nazca Line for prehistoric fuel.

“Let it out,” Maxwell says to him, “I’m a psychologist and both these women know more about it than I ever will. Let the truth fly.”

James looks at Vedanshi. “You’re putting me on the spot here, but yeah, I get bummed. Like this morning I was kind of… I don’t know.” He looks at me and runs a hand over the top of his head. “Ready to fade out.”

“Really?” She leans toward him with concern. I lean back to give her room. “I don’t know what to do,” she says. “I could ask your hypothalamus to make more orexin, but you’d probably never feel like composing music again. And you’d always be hungry. Struggling to cut weight.”

“I don’t think he needs brain surgery this early in the morning,” Maxwell says and chuckles. He looks at James. “I could show you some coping strategies.”

“Like what?” James asks.

“It all starts with yoga,” Maxwell says, “but Vedanshi’s the expert.” He glances at her legs, crossed and locked in lotus position. “Right?”

She nods. “I’ll teach you, James. We’ll wake your prefrontal cortex. Stabilize your limbic system. Help you choose your mood instead of settling for whatever comes along.”

“Sweet. When do we start?”James says.

She straightens her posture. “For survival, the brain always protects the area controlling respiration. Normally it’s the brainstem, but when you breathe deliberately it’s the prefrontal cortex, the area of volition where prime causes enter the Universe from outside. Blood shunts to this area when you hold your breath or decide how and when to take each portion of a slow breath. Mood elevates because the left prefrontal cortex acts as a pleasure center. It also stops the limbic system’s loops of misery. The rumination circuits.”

“What about this stuff you’re doing with your legs?” James asks. “I’m pretty flexible from martial arts, but I could never do that.”

“The pain of stretching stops emotional pain. It lets endorphins reach opiate receptors. But all stimulation of the opiate receptors is habit-forming, so watch out. I can’t have you checking out like a cutter.” She holds out her left anterior forearm with a row of parallel knife scars. “I was a cutter, myself. Pretty scars on a foolish girl.” She bows her head as she withdraws her arm.

Wow. I never would have picked her out as a cutter. James, maybe. But if yoga works for him, I’m going to be the happiest person on Earth. Which reminds me…

“I’m worried about that autistic boy,” I whisper to Vedanshi and begin searching for Maxwell’s phone in his coat on the carpet between us. I find it and can’t believe it has two bars. I punch in the old woman’s number and put her on speaker.

She answers. “I almost threw this thing away.”

“What’s your name, Ma’am?”

“I was afraid you’d drowned,” she says. “Yes, yes, my name. I’m vaarShagaNiipútro. Please call me Vaar.”

Vedanshi puts a hand over her mouth.

“I’m not with Frameshift,” Vaar says, “but I need you in my laboratory. I wasn’t expecting to get old just yet. My mind is fading.”

One of James’ songs plays to me: “Get home. I just want to make you young. You used to be so alive.”

“What’s your autism study about?” I ask.

“Just a second, dear, I’m double parked.”

Her cigar-shaped craft shoots up from the ground. The Ganga follows, and in seconds we’re stationary in near space with no bars on Maxwell’s phone. But I still hear her voice.

“The world is overrun by sociopaths,” she says. “I’m exploring the genetics of empathy, using the autism spectrum to isolate phenotype. I plan to heal sociopaths from the DNA up.”

“That’s ambitious.”

“I’ve been correlating loci to behavior for a long while,” she says, “but it’s gotten complex. I’m not the chess player I once was. And I’ve never had your gift for The Language.”

“Vaar, you’re infecting children. Why would anyone help you?”

“This is bigger than all of us. If humanity doesn’t move beyond war, we’ll soon be vestigial.”

“I have no argument with that, but…”

“I have contact with three sociopaths who happen to run nuclear nations. One of these men in particular would welcome the complete annihilation of our species. It might be worth eliminating him, but beneath him are endless layers of similar minds eager to seize power at the drop of a pulse. Someone has to re-write the genes of war.”

“But I think you’d have to be a sociopath yourself to treat children the way you do.”

“No. I’m not one of them,” she says. “I’ll admit I can’t remember the last time I had an honest emotion. But I’m not a sociopath. I conduct my affairs on principle, not some dark desire. And the damage I do is reversible.”

“In lab mice maybe, but not in children. Don’t you see the emotional scars you’re leaving?”

“Sometimes the lessor of two evils is all we have, dear.”

Vedanshi closes her eyes and suddenly we’re inside the ancient ship, hovering near the cavernous front, looking down at an old woman alone at a large desk with a holographic monitor showing the blue Earth surrounded by orbiting debris. She stands, scratches her head and looks in our direction but doesn’t seem to see us. Her baggy gray pants ride high, held up by a brown leather belt, the likes of which I’ve passed over in thrift shops. Her sweater hangs uneven and yellowed by age. A large safety-pin holds it together in front. Stringy gray hair spills out beneath a green skull-cap to reach her shoulders. The back of her head is…

“She’s a stretch head,” Vedanshi whispers.

A chill touches my spine.

“Vaar, if I should decide to help you, I would be in charge, not you.”

“That’s acceptable.”

“You’d have to follow my instructions like a rookie, in fact, beginning with the autistic children. Your first job would be to cure them.”

“You want me to pull the plug on seventy-five years of research,” she says. “I’m struggling to find any sense in that.”

“Of course you are. Wisdom requires logic and emotion. A person without empathy shouldn’t try to lead. There’s a rule of thumb for those who lack empathy: the end never justifies the means.”

“We both know that isn’t true.” She switches the phone to her right ear. “You’re not a child, why would you expect me to think like one?”

“To break the rule safely would require excellent judgement. You’ve proven you’re not capable of average judgement. It’s blunt, but I’m telling you the truth.”

“I suppose you might be.” Her shoulders slump. “I’ll comply with your orders.” She looks at the floor.

I feel adrenalin corrupting me.

“I won’t rule another human being,” I tell her, struggling against the euphoric seduction of power. I’ve read about it, but I haven’t experienced it since childhood. “If you have any free will or personhood left inside you, you’ll transform yourself into a trustworthy human being, starting with the autism you’ve created. Reverse it. Every child.”

“That shouldn’t take long.”

“How many kids are we talking about?” I ask.

“Six,” she says.

“Sociopaths always fear the truth. Even when it would help them. Lies are more comfortable. More controlling. You claim you’re not a sociopath, but you behave like one. Becoming trustworthy will be the toughest thing you’ve ever attempted.”

“Eighty-nine,” she says.

“That’s believable. I suggest you get to work, then.”

Vedanshi leans over and whispers in my ear. “We’ve broken her encryption. She’s infected eighty-nine children.”

“Does this mean you’ll help me?” Vaar asks.

“We’ll see. Hang on to your phone and I’ll call you when I’m convinced you’re capable of change.”

I hang up and watch her face. A look of resolve comes over it. She squares her shoulders, takes off the skullcap and winds her hair around her elongated head.

The Ganga exits her craft and moves away.

“Something’s cloaked down there,” Vedanshi says. The outside colors shift toward purple. “Whatever it is, it’s tapping zero point.” The colors change again. “There.” She points at a black triangle…

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“Let’s send out a foo fighter,” she says and chuckles.

“You’ve read about World War II?” I ask. “Were those things real?”

“Yes, it seems obvious under the circumstances. The real question is, where did they come from?”

A ball of blue-gray light flies out from beneath our feet and heads for the triangle. We move closer and suddenly we have MRI vision. Two people are inside, standing like statues behind their chairs. One of them holds an index finger in the face of the other, frozen in argument.

“Time dilation,” Vedanshi says. “They’ve been slowed to a standstill. I must have looked about like that… for a number of millennia.”

I had suspected the triangle over Arizona was not alien.

“They look like skeletons,” James says. “You sure they’re alive?”

“Yes,” Vedanshi says. “If we sat here for twenty years, The Ganga would eventually detect a slight eyelid movement. Part of a blink.”

“Are they from your era?” I ask her.

“I’m not sure,” she says.

We move around the triangle to see into it from various perspectives. On the back of the left chair there’s a round design with a star. I have to squint to be sure I’m seeing words. Several of them form a circle. In English!

“Chief of Staff — United States Air Force.”

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M. Talmage Moorehead

Yo…

If you want, please read this story from page one (beginning with Johanna’s hookless, forget-disbelief chapter zero). It starts here.

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Writing Tip:

Don’t let a little thing like a long boring chapter harsh your buzz. These things happen. With your talent, you should press on and enjoy the journey.


Scars (Chapter 6) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

The Ganga stops within inches of the face of a vertical cliff.

Offended fish scatter, small and blue, yellow and rare: the Femininus wrasses.

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I can’t tell if Vedanshi is reckless or if non-local buffers and gravity lifts are designed to jar the nerves. At least there’s no whiplash.

Vedanshi closes her eyes. In a silent click we’re hovering inside a large granite chamber with geometric rock walls that have the odd nubbins I’ve seen in pictures of ancient Peruvian ruins.

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They remind me of the nubbins on the Pyramid of Menkaure in Egypt. Drain hole artifacts from molds, I would guess.

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I wonder if people realize the staggering complexity of designing random block sizes into a high tolerance structure.

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Water drips from The Ganga and splashes thirty feet below onto a dark floor. The room is the size of my old high school auditorium on Oahu.

There’s a picture in my head of a small platform somewhere on Easter Island.

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The blockwork is similar to the walls that surround us now.

Here’s another platform on Easter Island…

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Here’s a close up of an ancient wall in Peru. The trapezoid is about the size of a finger and extends completely through the wall.

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“How was this rock work done?” I ask Vedanshi.

She gazes across the room at the opposite wall. “Molten hot granite cement poured into heat-resistant molds of cloned spiderweb. Black widow, probably.”

OK, I was basically right. “Tell me about quantum stasis.”

Her fingers move horizontally across her forehead. “I’ve been in 2015 for four months,” she says. “Alone.” There’s a quiver in her voice. “I’m at the age where pilots start hearing the river. The first day the asteroids were spotted, my mother’s techs gave me a crash course in consciousness – basically how to let a bunch of ones and zeros connect with the machine language.”

“So the brain has a machine language,” I say.

“Sort of,” she says. “It’s a five-dimensional hologram, analogous to the river of consciousness itself. It resembles the physical structure of the universe.”

A deep image of my universe comes to mind.

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It resembles the cultured hippocampal neurons I sometimes work with in the genetics lab at OHSU…

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“Like most things,” Vedanshi says, “our machine language seems to be an analog process at first glance, but ultimately it’s digital. Everything is digital this side of space-time.”

“Which five dimensions are we talking about?” I ask.

“There’s the usual four of galactic space and time,” she says, “and then there’s a fifth that curls outside of ordinary space.”

“That figures. Free will needs some sort of foothold outside causal space.”

Vedanshi nods thoughtfully. “The old woman’s back in her ship, by the way. Trying to find her burner phone.”

“I’ve been seeing ones and zeros all morning when I blink,” I tell Vedanshi.

“Really?” her face brightens. “You could be a pilot in the rough! Try this… close your eyes and slow your breathing.”

I close my eyes but can’t stop breathing fast. It’s the fever. I’m still shaky. Too hot or freezing cold in this robe.

“Let the ones and zeros come into your head and rest on the base of your skull, right on the pterygoid processes of the sphenoid.”

I open my eyes and Maxwell and James are staring at me.

Vedanshi sees them. “We’d better do this later. In private.”

James is blinking and covering his eyes.

“You seeing ones and zeros?” I ask him.

“Not for sure,” he says, closing his eyes again.

“Anyway,” Vedanshi says, “The stretch heads – they were the ones who really understood the quintic manifold. Mother told them to rig a buffer glitch that would scoot me and The Ganga forty years ahead – so there’d be vegetation again, and hopefully other survivors. But the buffers overshot and took us to February 3, 2015.”

“Millennia off course,” I say. And it dawns on me that she was abducted into an essentially alien culture while inside her own UFO. That’s backwards, isn’t it?

I want to ask her about the “stretch heads,” but now’s probably not the time. A picture from old Egypt comes to mind…

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I sneak a glance at the back of Vedanshi’s head to see if she’s normal. Strange relief.

The many elongate skulls that the experts brush aside seem to have a higher average volume than today’s average, though significant numbers probably don’t exist. Some of the elongate skulls lack major sutures. I’m wondering if all this was really due to head binding. Bigger question: does binding affect the mind?

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“Six to twelve millennia, according to The Ganga,” Vedanshi says and pats the deck. “I was in stationary orbit for 29 hours after the first asteroid hit. It felt like forever. Then the buffers finally wobbled and everything went from chaos to calm quick as a sneeze. The polar ice caps were tiny. All the colors of Earth had faded. But without complaint, The Ganga isolated a signal from your internet and started teaching me American English. Thousands of years – gone in less than a millisecond.”

James moves his lips silently. I recognize the words. A dark Manson song jumps from his head to mine…

“I can tell you what they say in space. That our Earth is too gray.

But when the spirit is so digital, the body acts this way.

That world was killing me…

Disassociative…

I can never get out of here.

I don’t want to explode in fear.

A dead astronaut in space.”

“The old woman’s dialing your cop friend,” Vedanshi says.

“Losing your whole family in one fell swoop,” Maxwell says to Vedanshi. “I’d be in a permanent funk. How do you stay positive?”

She presses her lips together and pulls her head back away from her knees. “I had a near death experience when I was thirteen,” she says. “What I saw there changed me. My heart went from superstition to absolute knowledge. I started looking for the good in things. Even terrible things.” She clenches her eyes shut for a moment. “Mother and Daddy were good rulers. They stayed on the ground with the common people. The ones who couldn’t use time dilation or space for an escape.”

I want to ask what she saw, but some near death survivors feel a need to keep the details private. I should be patient.

“So you were their only child,” James says.

“How can you tell?” She’s defensive. “You think I’m spoiled rotten?”

James turns both palms up. “No. I don’t think that.” He shakes his head and looks into her eyes.

“I know,” she says. “It’s just that…”

“Not rotten,” James says. “Not completely rotten, anyways.” He laughs.

She smirks and takes The Ganga down to a black obsidian floor with a purple crack that branches like lightning and runs its full length, about two hundred feet.

The ceiling glows with a bright design that reminds me of an exploding chambered nautilus with her Fibonacci numbers coming out as Chinese fireworks, and her “more stately mansions” becoming the wings of birds.

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“Your parents don’t sound like people who’d save only one of their kids,” James says, then softens his tone. “So you must have been their only one.”

She looks over at him. “I am kind of spoiled, though… I plan to get over it.” She puts her hair behind her ears. “I felt victimized by the stretch heads for a while. Their blunder with the buffers. But I’ve done some reading and I’m glad I didn’t spend my life in the proximate shadow of an apocalypse.”

“Heck no,” James says, “that could put a damper on the whole evening.” He starts a grim-reaper portrayal but abandons it. “You know, you throw around some big words, Vedanshi… The Role of the Knowledge.”

“The Sacred Knowledge,” she says.

“I bet you’re way smart like Johanna.” James looks at me and does a coke-bottle glasses, buck-tooth geek impression, then grins so enthusiastically I can’t help laughing.

I had an awkward stage as a child. Took me a while to grow into my front teeth. James and I love to laugh at our old pictures.

Vedanshi pats my right leg. “I wish I were in your league,” she says to me, then looks at Maxwell. “My parents wouldn’t have made it. I would have watched our renown pyramid builders turn into stone stackers.” Her eyes move gently from Maxwell to James and then to me. “I’m lucky to be here with the three of you. Nothing could make me happier.”

I should probably tell her about my leukemia before she gets her heart set on having the three of us around forever.

“The cop’s telling the old woman everything,” Vedanshi says. She steps out of The Ganga onto the cracked floor and stretches her arms. I’d say she’s five-seven in bare feet.

“I’ve been exploring here for four months,” she says. “Doubt I’ve seen half the rooms yet.”

I think she wants us to follow her, but I kind of like the safety of The Ganga. I’m fairly sure we’re under water in a room with a seriously cracked floor.

Vedanshi reaches into her purse and pulls out a credit-card made of what looks like South African Desert Rose granite. She raises an eyebrow at Maxwell’s shirt pocket, and he hands over her mirror with a trace of reluctance. She sets the granite card on her left forearm, blows on it, and the hair on her head stands on end for an instant, twirls and pops with static, then falls and covers her in Royal Egyptian splendor. Something like this ancient statue I’ve seen, but without the jewel on the forehead…

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“Whoa!” James says.

“Thank you.” She glances at herself in her tiny mirror. “They left several styles in the river archives.”

Out of the blue she looks at me and says, “The Ganga thinks capitalism is responsible for the enormous quantity of food in America. But I suspect it’s the work ethic.”

“It was Boston switching from tea to coffee,” I tell her with a straight face.

She leans inside the ship and puts a firm grip on James’ left arm. “Let’s roll some grapes down your esophagus.”

“Tight,” he says and starts to get up. “I’m dying.” His upper body passes freely through the place where Maxwell’s head met The Ganga’s ceiling in Honolulu.

Vedanshi holds James’ arm as he steps out.

“Capitalism’s the reason everybody’s so poor,” he says.

“Don’t parrot your high school friends,” I tell him and wish like anything I hadn’t said it.

He fences the air. “Douchette.”

Yeah, I earned that. “Your band friends listen to you,” I tell him. “That’s the way is should be.”

I want you to know, I never acted like a jerk with him while Mom was alive. Not sure what’s wrong with me now.

Vedanshi beckons us with a hand gesture.

“What’s the cop telling the old woman now?” I ask.

Vedanshi puts her left hand to her mouth and says something in an unfamiliar language, puts the palm to her left ear to listen, then says, “They haven’t figured out who the masked girl in Honolulu was.”

“Is the old woman angry with the guy?” I ask.

“She hasn’t made plans to hurt him,” Vedanshi says, “but her mind’s not in a planning mode with all the expletives. I think she’s mad at the masked girl, but doesn’t know it was you.”

Maxwell checks for The Ganga’s ceiling but can’t find it. We stand, step off the edge of the Indian carpet and onto the floor, hopefully clearing the edge of the UFO. The carpet vanishes for an instant then the ship decloaks beside us.

If ever there was a graceful flying saucer, this is it. I reach out and touch her soft, giving surface and wish I could thank her for helping Maxwell and Vedanshi rescue me.

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The four of us walk side by side through a large arched opening into a wide granite hallway that curves to the right and eases down into a 20 degree slope. In this area the volcanic glass floor is crosshatched to resemble snakeskin. There’s a purple hue when the light’s right.

“This place was built about a thousand years before the asteroids fell,” Vedanshi says. “Its location in the ocean beside an island must have saved it.” She’s still holding James’ arm. “The Ganga has all the old maps and keeps begging me to take her exploring, but I’ve been too busy here.”

“Asteroids,” James says. “Why didn’t your parents fly out and nuke ’em?”

“Every non-local buffer that could survive in space was out there, along with some who knew they wouldn’t make it. The Ganga, herself, diverted two large metallic asteroids and a dozen smaller ones. But hundreds of them kept showing up and closing in. Faster than typical meteors, my daddy said. From the first sighting to the first impact was barely three days.”

“Must of sucked,” James says.

“Indeed it did,” Vedanshi says, then looks over at me and adds, “totally,” with a glow.

I notice an old hubcap on the wall, then realize it’s the tri-lobed disk from ancient Egypt. I put my head against the wall and look at it from the side. Unlike the one under glass in the Cairo Museum, this one is symmetrical. Everybody has a theory about what this thing was. Finally I’m going to find out!

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“What on Earth is this incense burner really for?” I ask Vedanshi.

“Right now it marks the door of the library,” she says and grins.

James chuckles.

As far as I can tell, there’s no door here. Just a massive rock wall that should have been imported from ancient Peru if the world made sense. As I stare at the wall looking for evidence of a door, several Sanskrit words appear sparkling a millimeter off the surface of the granite wall. I haven’t studied Sanskrit, but I once read an English version of the great Mahabharata and glanced at the Sanskrit as I went along. I can tell you this for sure, the letters on the wall are identical to what I saw at the end of the Mahabharata. It was translated, loosely I would think, as this…

“Here words end like thought.”

“It’s a museum piece,” Vedanshi says, “from the middle third of my era. They stuck it on a titanium shaft and spun it at specific speeds to create sonic vibrations to match the resonant frequency of a quartz platform beneath it – used for transporting heavy things. The platform and just about anything on it could be tuned to vibrate like a snake’s tail and slide across a smooth surface as if weightless.”

“I love the way you talk,” James says.

She smiles at him, glances back at me then fixes her eyes on him and says, “In the Builder’s religion, a person’s soul was weighed on a scale in judgement for the afterlife. This device became a symbol of pardon, making the soul lighter in the balances. Analogous to the Christian Messiah that The Ganga is so fascinated with… a man who takes permanent scars into the afterlife so free will’s integrity is preserved, despite the absence of emotional scars on the others living there.”

“Dude,” James says to her. “You’re not like, super religious or anything, are you?”

“And what if I am?” she says.

He looks her up and down. “You know, honestly? You’re hot enough to pull it off, but…” He laughs. “Just don’t tell me you’re all into boy bands. That’s where I draw the line.”

She looks puzzled.

I cringe and remind myself he’s barely sixteen. If you think about it, though, he’s at least being open and honest.

You know, Vedanshi’s pretty bright. I’ve only met one other person in my life who could grasp the concept that once you’re in the afterlife looking back, free will didn’t exist if no consequences remain. Logic demands an eternal scar. I tried to make the point once in Sabbath School when I was seven.

Vedanshi puts her left hand over her left ear again, listens, then says, “The Ganga says the old woman’s heading to Nazca. I bet her ship uses iridium. What an antique!” She laughs, then looks at me with mischief in her eyes. “You want to go snoop on her?”

“Holy Vishnu,” Maxwell mumbles.

“We probably should,” I tell her. I need to fix the mess I’ve made for that guy’s autistic son. I pretty much dunked my soul in tar lying the way I did. “Anybody got an Advil?”

Maxwell checks his pockets. James shakes his head. Vedanshi opens her little square purse and pulls out a small jade cylinder.

JS10-2

M. Talmage Moorehead

Yo…

If you want, please read this story from page one (beginning with Johanna’s unorthodox, no hook, chapter 0). It starts here.

If you like my fiction and want to be notified when each of my novels is done (possibly before the next ice age) please join my list here. (No spam or sharing of your info – ever.) You can download my e-book on fiction writing while you’re at it.

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Talmage

Writing tip: watch Downton Abbey and Justified with a pen in hand…

“An absence of compassion is as vulgar as an excess of tears.” – from Downton Abbey.


Rage (Chapter 5) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

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The moon’s size and distance were selected so that its silhouette would precisely cover the sun during an eclipse, at least sometimes.

Call it blind luck. But what are the odds?

If the duck billed platypus were known only as a drawing in Egypt…

Could science tolerate more than a “myth” about a mammal who laid eggs, offered milk but no nipples to her hatchlings, hunted under water with eyes and ears closed using electroreception unknown to other mammals, stabbing her victims with poisonous spikes on her hind legs, then grinding her food with rocks in a toothless duck bill only to swallow it into a GI tract with no stomach?

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These uncomfortable facts caused the skeptical elite of yesterday to insist that she was a hoax.

Just as we assume the bird-man of ancient Egypt was religious fiction.

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But what if we are wrong?

The inconvenient truth about the platypus is that she screams of intelligent design. Not only of the original coding of a supreme mind but also of genetic tampering.

When new research pulls back the curtains on this duckish mosaic with in-tact blocks of DNA spliced from diverse species – who will hold the robes of the outraged thought police as they stone the young heretics, boycott the journal that published their work and fire its editor?

I refuse.

Rage, like denial, is a decision, but only if free will exists. Otherwise the Queen of Hearts was temperate in shouting, “Off with their heads!”

It’s fifteen feet down to the street. Not much traffic. My lips are sticky with brine.

When that man below us kicked my brother to the ground I wanted blood, but now the words that Nietzsche hated come to mind:

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

The Nazarene.

A certain Buddhist Priest also haunts me:

A

nymph

in pale feet

rides the opera

to a spiral staircase.

Lightning hair, dark voices

strike within her yielding gall.

Silk jinn brass restrains the lip strings

 beneath her tears that fall and glare inside

a secret box.

My girl of Utsuro-bune.

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Ojiichan wrote this at a recital where I sang “Un bel di vedremo.” My father translated it from the Japanese. That was three days before the accident on the Pali. Forget that now.

In the legend of Utsuro-bune, a red-headed woman landed in Japan in 1803 inside a “boat” that resembled a rice cooker with windows and strange writing on the walls inside. She spoke no Japanese, clutched a wooden box, and as the story’s living soul, she showed respect to the Japanese fishermen.

This is why her legend survives.

In this opaque neo-infinity, science is forever young and speculative. To forget this would be disrespectful and short-sighted.

“Remote viewing of long-term goals” would be a dissertation worth defending.

But ruling elites say the average human chooses short-term pleasure over long-term riches. Thus we need laws against natural selection. A childproof world.

Complex problems rarely have such simple solutions. Here’s the picture of that principle…

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Dr. Seung’s crowd-sourcing of neuroscience recruits us to map the soul. With our help, every microscopic neuronal connection will be recorded in three dimensions, someday re-created and reanimated.

The handshake of science and religion has always been immortality.

And we thought the ancient Egyptians were primitive with their mummies, that silly religious talk and all the “incidental” preservation of royal DNA.

Who looks silly today?

So if natural selection brings genetic wisdom, why hamper it with childproof laws? Do the secular elites know something they’re not telling?

Plenty.

Perhaps a hand full of them have even noticed that logic requires a Prime Source of our genetic commands, a foundation for trust, and access beyond space to allow a fleeting choice of love over hate.

This choice comes to me now…

To spare this guy who’s kicking my brother, or to fight him.

The way I’m feeling, I would crush him easily.

That’s not logical, I’ll admit. Strange things happen to me when I get angry.

I fought Moody and thought I had defeated an enemy. Instead, I murdered James’ closest childhood friend and lost my innocence on a kitchen floor covered with my own blood.

The carpet is damp beneath me. I’m shivering and sweating. It’s a fever.

Vedanshi shifts and sits on her heels again. “If they recognize your face, the old woman will wonder how you got here from Washington. You need a disguise.” She reaches into the deck and pulls out a bra, then a dangling sock which she hands to me. “You should put this over your head, I think.”

I put it on quickly. It smashes my nose but I can see through it.

“If the man has a gun, The Ganga can disable it,” she says. “Theoretically, I mean… We’ve never actually done it.”

Maxwell rises to one knee and encounters a UFO’s ceiling with his head. “I got your six.”

“No,” I tell him. “Better if you stay here. You’ll scare the guy.”

“So you’re not going to hurt him?” he asks.

“Not if I don’t have to.”

“Good,” Vedanshi says. “There’s a break in the traffic. Scoot under a car so no one sees any decloaking.”

The Ganga dips to street level. I crawl out of its cloak and roll under the car that’s parallel parked behind the Prius. I reach out to see if my hand disappears. It doesn’t, so I scoot out into the street, stand and move between the cop and my brother.

The man steps back and pulls a gun clumsily. “What’s with the mask?” There’s a wedding band on his left ring finger and cowboy boots below a sagging uniform that fits a larger man.

“Tell me why she’s cursing the dumb Haole in the cop suit,” I say.

His jaw falls.

I glance behind at my brother. “Did she say to break his knees?”

“She sent you?” he asks.

I nod, fold my arms then shake my head at him. “No one can reason with her when she gets like this. You’re a family man, so I’ll try to get you off the island before she snaps. No reason you should die.” I look at his boots. “What is it, Texas?”

“I’m from…”

“Shut up. Let me think.”

He purses his lips.

I stare at him for a moment. “Here’s your plan. Fly home, get your family and disappear. That’s your best chance.”

His eyes open white all around. “She’s that mad?”

“I haven’t seen her like this before. I’ll take the kid. You need to vanish.”

“How was I supposed to know he’d go straight to the cops?”

“You’re right. There’s no way anyone could have predicted that. But listen, whining won’t help you.” I reach up and fasten a button on his uniform.

His shoulders slump and he tucks his gun away.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “Maybe there’s something good I can tell her about you. Got anything?”

He stutters.

I tap his chest with my fingers and hold a palm up. “Cuffs?”

He takes a key from his pocket, gives it to me, then ducks into the driver’s seat of the Prius. “Tell her thank you. My son’s showing signs of empathy.” Tears well up in his eyes.

“Empathy’s good. I’ll give her your message word-for-word. Is your boy getting the I.M. injections?”

“No, I.V. Some DNA thing. I never get it right… Menthol Asian?”

“DNA demethylation,” I suggest.

“Yeah, that’s it.” He squints up trying to find my eyes. “Look, tell her she’s welcome to kill me. Tell her I’ll do it myself, in fact… If she’ll just please, please keep treating my son. That’s all I want.”

“Hey, don’t think like that. It only makes things worse. For the rest of your son’s life.” I can’t believe I wanted to hurt this poor guy. “Give me your phone number.”

He reads a number off the back of his cell phone.

“Go home,” I tell him. “Get packed. Get ready to run, but wait for my call. I will call you. Whether I can cool her down or not.”

“Thank you so much.” He reaches out, squeezes my wrist, pushes a button on the car’s dashboard, then rolls a few feet away before the gas engine comes to life and takes him out into the morning traffic.

I turn to James. “Cameras are watching. You don’t know me.”

He chuckles. “You look like a bank robber.”

He seems stable on his feet. “Can you walk?” I ask him.

“Sure. The guy kicks like a girl.”

“Why does that dumb remark make me want to hug you?” I move behind him and push him along the sidewalk ahead of me. We walk south for about forty seconds, then take a left into an alley and come out behind the buildings into a parking lot that looks big enough for The Ganga. Ojiichan’s Ford sits behind the police station two buildings to the left. I take the cuffs off James and try to say that we’re about to meet an invisible thinking machine, but he’s not listening.

“You were going to drown yourself,” he says. “I got that feeling back. Where you basically don’t want to be alive.”

“I’m sorry, but you don’t have my permission to kill yourself. You’ve got to put Skullcage on the map and carry on the Fujiwara name.”

“Yeah, I know. I really do know. But it’s just that sometimes…” he looks down, “I really don’t care.”

I gently slap his face. “I don’t want to hear the demons right now.”

He’s a little startled but doesn’t say anything.

“Maxwell and a girl named Vedanshi fished me out of the ocean. They don’t know about my leukemia.”

“There’s got to be some kind of treatment for that,” James says.

“There’s not,” I tell him.

His face is so lost. But only for a moment. Suddenly he’s himself again.

“What just happened there?” I ask him. “In you head.”

He looks up and to his left. “I don’t know.”

“Whatever you just did, it’s the secret to a good life. Try to remember it.”

I tug on his left arm and get him to crouch next to me out of camera’s view beside a parked car. We get flat on our stomachs, just to be sure. Vedanshi’s face appears inches off the ground in the parking space beside us. Her head is detached and floating upside-down with her hair on the asphalt.

“Coast is clear,” she says and vanishes, chin first, hair last.

“That’s Vedanshi,” I say.

“OK, that just happened. We both saw it.” He goes into a dense calm and then comes out of it rubbing his eyes. “She’s hot, isn’t she?”

“Yeah. And she’s inside an invisible machine. We’re going to crawl into it now. Parts of your body will disappear on the way in. No big deal, right?”

“Disappear? Nah… really?”

“Don’t freak out on me. Just go. And don’t stand up for the cameras.”

I push him. He moves forward and disappears as if crawling through invisible UFO hulls was routine to him. Complete confidence. That’s James 24/7. Unless he happens to call you late at night from jail. I follow after him and take my place by Vedanshi. James sits on the other side of Maxwell.

“Tight,” James says looking around at the acorn patterns on the Indian rug. He reaches in front of Maxwell and me to shake Vedanshi’s hand. “I’m James. It’s beyond amazing to meet you. You’re absolutely gorgeous, you know.”

“Thank you.” She blushes and shakes his hand. “I’m Vedanshi, The Role of the Sacred Knowledge.”

“The role of… That’s the meaning of Vedanshi?”

“Yes.”

“That’s got to be the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard in my life.” James glances at me then thumps Maxwell on the back with an open palm. “Thank you, dude. You look just like your Facebook pictures.” He looks at Vedanshi again. “Thank you both for getting Johanna here to save my ass. I owe you guys… my life, probably. That was one unhappy cop.” James looks at me. “How’d you do that?”

“I don’t know, it’s the first time I’ve done anything that deceitful. I feel like I need to wash my mouth out and take a shower.” I peel the sock off my face, pull it up and off my head, then look at Vedanshi. “What do you make of that DNA demethylation? Could you hear him at all?”

“Every word – in the river,” she says. “The old woman likes to mull over the language of a virus that causes Autism. It methylates DNA. Epigenetics, you could say.” The Ganga rises ten feet with no tells on Vedanshi’s face. “Would all of you like to stay at my place tonight? It’s not really mine, but… Well, it sort of is now.” She smiles but her eyes are distant.

“Definitely,” James says.

Maxwell nods and I say I’ll do anything that doesn’t involve the old woman. But actually I’m worried about the guy I sent home. And his autistic son. What have I done? I should probably call the lady and fix this.

“I don’t guess we can do a noodle run in this thing,” James says. “I’m starving.”

“I’ve got veggies in the garden,” Vedanshi says. “Things are growing.” She notices the bra on the rug beside her legs and sneaks it through the deck beyond the edge of the carpet. “James,” she says with a glint, “lean forward as far as you can and look down.”

“Don’t do it,” I tell him.

He leans forward and as the parking lot shrinks out of sight and the Hawaiian Islands zip down to dots in the Pacific Ocean, he calmly says, “Jeepers, Mrs. Cleaver.”

I shake my head.

“You were supposed to be startled and impressed,” Vedanshi says.

“I am.” He draws a deep breath and lets it out with a whisper, “God, I hope this isn’t a dream.”

“It’s not,” Maxwell says, as South America rushes toward us and an island off the coast of Chile and Peru comes closer.

easter_island_map

“Rapa Nui,” I say as the island’s triangular shape evolves beneath a flock of small cumulus clouds.

isla-de-pascua (1)

I know Vedanshi is not Mahani Teave, but why is she taking us to Easter Island?

We descend and the ancient Moai give us palpable respect as though they’d been waiting eons to greet us.

Moai_Statues_Easter_Island_10

The southern end of the island comes close, but we move past it, beyond the two tiny rock islands and into the crystal water. With the hull cloaked we’re gliding forward under the ocean in a saucer-shaped bubble. Visibility is sixty-five feet plus.

“Vedanshi,” James says, “I’m sixteen. How old are you?”

“Sixteen,” she says, “not counting quantum stasis.”

James grins at Maxwell, “If this is a dream, buddy, I’m going to be pissed at you.”

They both laugh as we head straight at a rock wall without slowing down.

M. Talmage Moorehead

Yo…

If you want, please read this story from page one (beginning with Johanna’s unorthodox prologue). It starts here.

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Talmage