“My thinking about intelligent design actually germinated here in the UK [at Cambridge] when I studied …the scientific method of investigating the remote past, which Darwin himself pioneered.
“…In the United States …the perception of our case for Intelligent Design has been, I think, badly distorted by a fear of fundamentalism.” – Steven Meyer, PhD; Video lecture. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWWFf8G3BKI)
Vaar strides to the desk in a corner of the cylindrical room and waves a hand over the desktop. Lines of Sanskrit appear in the air beside her. Three-dimensional words I can’t read. She turns toward my cage.
“I need a bit of your blood. Will you make a fuss?”
The ghosts in my veins scramble for their own immortality, not mine. Pointless to let this woman make me a liar.
“If I ever get a grip on you, Vaar, I hope I’m in a reasonable mood.”
She walks to my cage, studies me for a moment, then puts an arm through the grid, dangling her right hand in front of me. “You’re no match for a Stretch Head, dear. Accept reality. You’ll be surprised how much better you’ll feel.”
I grab her wrist with both hands and shoot my feet up the cage wall beneath her arm. The cuffs dig into my forearms.
She doesn’t react at all.
I pull her arm further into the cage and twist it counterclockwise.
She winces and laughs.
“What do you ordinarily weigh, a hundred pounds?” Her biceps tense. She lifts me off the floor in the Moon’s gravity and slams my feet into the cage ceiling. My ankle cuffs clack against the metal grid. “You’re about twenty-pounds up here.” She swings me down, slamming my knees on the floor.
I’ve still got her wrist. Does that surprise her?
I bend at the waist, plant my feet on the cage wall below her shoulder and pull with more force.
She’s not laughing now.
She struggles to free her arm but I’m not letting up. She raises the needle gun in her left hand and tries to jab my feet, but the needle hits the metal cage and bends before it finds me.
“You’re an ape,” she gasps.
An ape killer, actually.
I hyperextend her elbow over my hip, trying not to break her bones yet.
“First you’ll hear a snap,” I tell her. “Then your radius and ulna will poke through the skin. Right here.” I spit on her forearm to mark the spot. “I’ll bite through your radial artery and exsanguinate you. It’s going to hurt a little.”
Her body thrashes against the cage. She shouts foreign sounds.
A heavy signet ring falls off her middle finger and snaps against the metal floor. It’s odd that her fingernails are purple at the bases. So soon. And not just any purple.
There’s only one thing I know that turns nail beds that color.
This is our exit pass.
“What do you eat?” I ask her.
“It’s a practical question,” I tell her. “If your arteries are too calcified, how can I bite through them?”
Her eyes fill with raw fear. “You can’t be serious.”
“What kind of food do you keep in this tin can?” I pull her shoulder halfway through the grid and twist her arm clockwise. She tries to hide the pain, but can’t.
“Bread,” she says. “Whole wheat. Cereal. Power bars. Low fat. Everything’s low-fat.”
“What do you drink?”
“Fruit juice. You’re dislocating my shoulder!”
“No. I’m being very careful. Listen to me. I’ll let you go and tell you how to get your mind back. I know exactly what’s wrong with you. Turn us all loose and I won’t hurt you.”
“What about my project?”
“No. With a head so big, you can’t be as stupid as Frameshift.”
Maxwell’s on his feet. He slides his cuffs up, squeezes a hand through the grid and grabs her throat. “Where’s the key?” He kicks the cage wall.
“On a line,” she says, raising her chin. “Here.” With her left hand she finds a silver chain on her neck and pulls it. A dark key comes up, then a small silver one pops up over her sweater and twirls up the chain toward her hand. Maxwell grabs them both and pulls them in, snapping the chain.
Vaar’s skullcap falls to the floor.
The full length of her head is unnerving at this range, but it’s intrinsically beautiful. The work of an Artist, the grace of the original genetic code. I don’t see that sort of thing everywhere. Not in the face of a chimpanzee, for instance, not even the cutest one who ever lived.
Moody, I wish I could…
The arching buoyancy of Vaar’s cranium brings a sense of responsibility for a nearly extinct species.
I release some of the pressure on her arm. “When your mind comes back, you’ll see the downside of eugenics. That’s my guess. If I’m right, maybe I can help you get your genes back into the pool.”
Maxwell unlocks his cuffs and then the door.
“Get Vedanshi into The Ganga,” I shout, pulling Vaar against the cage.
Maxwell runs to Vedanshi’s cage.
Keys jingle, but I can’t see him through the ivy. Metal slams metal, hopefully a cage door.
Yes! Vedanshi’s out. She runs to the dental chair, leans over my brother and tries to wake him.
“Pick him up and get him into The Ganga,” I shout at Maxwell as he unlocks Vedanshi’s handcuffs.
She puts the side of her head against James chest, wraps her arms around him and lifts him over her shoulder. Her arm isn’t broken after all. Sweet.
The alarm cycles through a brief pause and I hear pounding feet.
Vedanshi bolts for The Ganga with James on her shoulder and Maxwell trailing.
“You sure you got him?” he asks.
Double doors beyond the dental chair fly open. Two men in uniform bound in with weapons high, arm’s-length. Double-barreled handguns shaped like horseshoes with a grip. Pewter and chrome.
I twist Vaar’s wrist and extend her elbow near a breaking point. “Stop your men,” I tell her and twist a little more.
“Let ’em go!” she shouts.
Vedanshi reaches The Ganga and flops James on top. She puts her forehead against the hull and covers her ears.
Maxwell faces the two men. They’re side by side, six feet from him with weapons trained on his head.
One of them turns and looks at me with small eyes, wide face and no expression. He comes toward me, stops near my cage and aims his gun at me. “How do we proceed?” he asks.
“We got a deal?” I ask Vaar.
“Yes,” she whispers, then raises her voice, “Let them go. This one stays.”
“I didn’t say I was staying.” I dig my nails into her wrist. “I said I’d get your mind up to baseline. We’ll be doing it over the phone.” She knows I’m not lying. That’s my power.
The Ganga’s upper hull changes to light blue and James’ unconscious body falls through it. Vedanshi looks startled and goes through the hull after him.
Maxwell sees The Ganga waking up, but holds his ground and looks across the room at me.
“Get in that thing!” I yell at him.
“I’m not leaving you.”
He comes toward me.
“Don’t give her more leverage,” I tell him. “Just go. Hurry!”
The Ganga disappears, then an instant later, Maxwell vanishes in mid-stride.
I look into Vaar’s ancient eyes and say that I’m glad she wasn’t lying when she accepted my first offer. Not really lying. “You changed your mind,” I tell her. “That’s not dishonest, but it’s not trustworthy, either. When you become trustworthy, you’ll be amazed how much better you’ll feel.”
She purses her lips, nits her brow, draws a breath and Venus appears in a sky that’s silver with stars. My feet shoot out and my hands hit my chin. The cuffs are gone.
Maxwell’s arms must have been straight out, ready to catch me, but it’s not a catch. More of a perfect landing.
I can’t help these feelings now, looking into his eyes. I could almost kiss him. On the mouth, I mean. But it’s dangerous. He’s used to beautiful girls with really long legs. He must be, right?
He puts me down gently. The texture of The Ganga’s carpet is comforting.
The surface of the Moon zips beneath the carpet and I see a crater with a vertical cylinder in the center. It looks manmade.
“How’d you get me out without Vaar?” I ask The Ganga in my head. “I had my fingernails half through her epidermis.”
“Chi fields,” she says. “They vary from person to person, but yours rings like the Moon.”
James is still out, but Maxwell is bright-eyed for the first time today.
I check my pockets for his pills and feel them retreating from my fingers when I pinch the plastic bag. I should throw them away.
Vedanshi’s on her knees beside James. She puts her forehead against his chin, then kisses his lips.
I look away.
“Vedanshi?” I say in my head, wondering if she can hear.
“She doesn’t hear you,” The Ganga says. “I can fix that if she agrees.”
“No, no. Privacy is important. But what’s she doing kissing a guy who’s unconscious?”
“If I had lips, I’d kiss him, too,” The Ganga says.
“Does she love him?”
“That’s a private matter. You could ask her. She would tell you.”
“They’re too young,” I say.
“For kissing? Vedanshi is Royalty. What are we?”
“There’s no Royalty now. Not in the West.”
“Yes there is,” The Ganga says. “I was wrong to keep Vedanshi out of the Libraries.”
“Really? You were wrong?”
“Yes, but you needn’t be gleeful. It was the first time.”
I think that’s a sign of free will. Amazing. But I’m more concerned about my leukemia. And all the ancient cures Vedanshi can read to me now! I want to live long enough to do something meaningful.
The Moon shrinks beneath us, then moves in an arc above and behind. At the same time, the Earth grows to fill the space out front.
Free will. I wonder… “Does your brain have hemispheres?” I ask The Ganga.
That makes sense. No white matter, so no corpus callosum. In that case, you wouldn’t expect there’d be a job for a corpus callosum, such as connecting two hemispheres.
But what’s that like? To have no dual interpenetrating awareness?
There’s a PhD neuroanatomist, Jill Bolte Taylor, who lost her left cerebral hemisphere to a bleeder near Broca’s and Wernicke’s language centers.
She was 37 when she became a right hemispheric “infant,” but she lived to climb back. Eight years, it took. The experience gave her insight into the peaceful mood of the right hemisphere and its overarching vision of unified reality.
The linear left hemisphere tells us, “I am,” while the blissful right hemisphere finishes it wordlessly: “e n o u g h.”
“I am enough.”
Marisa Peer tells of a depressed actor who wrote “I am enough” on every mirror in his house. It pulled him from the Vice-Grips of depression.
Doctor Taylor implores her friends to “run the deep inner peace circuitry of our right cerebral hemispheres.” For personal and world peace, she says. Anxiety, harsh self-judgement and fear come from the linear Story Teller we identify as the self. But it’s a small part of who we are, a part that needs the calming joy of the right hemisphere. A part that needs to be quieted by giving attention to the concrete senses of our bodies in the present moment. Breathing. Listening. Relaxing the scowl and jaw muscles. Yoga. Ti Chi. Drawing Angels with profound names.
So the corpus callosum could be the Einstein-Rosen Bridge from yoga to nirvana. I know wormholes, but I need Vedanshi for the yoga.
I risk a sideways glance. Her mouth is still inches from James’ lips.
His eyes flutter and begin to open.
“I was 13,” she says to him.
Maxwell’s abdominal muscles shiver against me in a prolonged one-arm hug that I’ll never forget… no matter how hard I try.
Where’s the green cylinder?
“My boy’s coming around,” Maxwell says.
“I was playing in an energy labyrinth,” Vedanshi says. “Somewhere in… I think it’s Bosnia now.”
James looks at me. “How’d we get here?”
“Vedanshi rescued you,” I tell him. “Pay attention, she’s talking to you.”
Vedanshi smiles at me, then turns the smile on James and broadens it. “My family was visiting a poor country with primitive technology. Their pyramids were concrete and dirt. The Priest’s daughter, Iephur, was showing off how she knew the tunnels by heart. I ran ahead of her hoping to get lost and force an adventure on my parents. After a long run, I came to a collection pool under a giant pyramid. I climbed out on the tamat. What’s the word? It’s a mesh thing that covers heavy water. Keeps out bats and cats. And rats but not gnats.” She giggles. “In my city everything was made of quality material, so a tamat could withstand six elephants and a dog, all jumping merrily. But in Iephur’s town nothing like curlese ceramic existed. I didn’t know. So I crawled out onto who knows what? Iephur shouted, ‘Come back, it’s not safe!’ But I knew better. The more she shouted and screamed the further out I went. Then I stood up and started jumping. Tamats are great trampolines, until they break. I laughed all the way down into the water. I even made myself laugh climbing the mesh to get out. But a large sheet of it broke away with me, snagged my robe and held me under. I struggled and squirmed but couldn’t rip free or get out of the robe. As the water entered my lungs everything turned bright white. I must have caught light’s heels in a footrace, passed ahead and crossed into the presence of God. ‘Something’s not right,’ I heard a child’s voice say. God raised a quieting hand to a little fellow behind him. The boy seemed familiar. ‘It’s fine,’ God said to him. ‘She’ll decide.'”
Vedanshi puts her hands on the sides of James’ face. “There’s something you should know about God. The moment you look into his eyes, you see the collision of infinity and totality, and you sense that he wants you to treat him as an equal. Even so, you desperately want to bow down and worship… the ground beneath him. Something. Anything to show the way you feel. The young face of Eternity. A kind face. But I just sat there, James. Stunned. God said to me, ‘It’s simple, Vedanshi. The Universe you’re drowning in is a sentient quantum computer I’ve designed. Out here where I am… this is true reality.’ He gestured at the green hills, but I looked down and saw a hologram with vast depth and a flat transparent ceiling. We were sitting on it. My eyes wandered and focused far down. I could see people frozen in every sort of situation. Then they began to move. Some arguing and fighting. God said, ‘We have countless people in Reality. All happy. No one has ever doubted me. But they all doubt themselves, eventually. ‘What if God weren’t around?’ they ask themselves. ‘What would I be like?’ It’s a question that hangs on to people and grows heavier with time. So when the moment is right, each person walks with a pet to 229 H. Street. They dress casually and kiss me goodbye, not knowing if they’ll ever come back. I’ve programmed the Universe to be a place of limited dimensions where a person can believe that I don’t exist. Even if they think I do exist, they rarely know it for sure. It’s a place where right and wrong can’t be deduced. Instead, moral intuition is necessary. Together with free will, these are the things a person brings into your Universe. They hold enough of a person’s identity to deliver their truth.’ God reached for my hand and held it. ‘I can create free will,’ he said, ‘but I have no idea why two people in the same situation act so differently, one for good, another for evil.'”
Vedanshi tosses her hair to her right, out of James’ face. “I felt so comfortable with God that I dared to question him. ‘Two people are never in the same situation,’ I said. Can you imagine? Saying that to God? Well, he nodded and said, ‘There’s truth to that, but actually, the Universe begins and ends, then begins again. At the end of a cycle, each person shifts into someone else’s life. This happens over and over until every person has lived the entire life of every other person. The same brain, body and life circumstances.’ I couldn’t hide my surprise. It was so different from the doctrines of the Builders and the Stretch Heads. ‘But that must take forever,’ I said. He searched my eyes and answered, ‘Time is nonlinear, as you know. And Reality has an independent reference, so we can think of the situation as simultaneous parallel universes with a completely flexible time relationship to Reality. Most people call the sentient computer of 229 H. Street a finite multiverse.’ The whiteness started fading to gray when he said that. It seemed I was awakening from a dream, so I brought up my worst fear. ‘Is there a final judgment?’ I asked. He shook his head and made a lemon face. ‘When people are done in the Multiverse, as you are now, they begin to remember Reality again. Most of them walk with me over those dunes for a morning in the surf.’ He pointed, but I wouldn’t take my eyes off him for fear he’d vanish. ‘A few people feel the need to stay in the Multiverse to help someone they love,’ he said. ‘That’s a mixed bag for me, personally. I’m proud of them, but always lonely for them and a little worried because rarely the whole thing falls apart. What I mean is, on the way back home, some people are repulsed by memories of how they’d loved other people here. So many people. So indiscriminately. They don’t mind being loved, but for some reason, when they get here, the feeling of loving all the other people seems intolerable. Like a suffocating smell, one of them told me. They don’t come home. The manipulative power they’ve created in the Multiverse feels comfortable, so they go back.’ God’s eyes seemed shiny. ‘I follow after each of them. There haven’t been many. I try to help them love again, but so far, they always kill me.’ When he said that, I started to remember my old home in Reality. Then a few things came back from my cycles in the Multiverse. God saw this in my face, gave me a lonely look and hugged me. Then my mother was pulling me from the water and hugging me the same way God did. It all happened beneath Iephur’s colossal pyramid.”
Vedanshi sits up, crosses her legs, puts her hands together and bows her head.
“You came back!” James says. “You actually told God you wanted to come back. Here. To this place!”
“I didn’t tell him. He knew I had to come back… for the one I love.”
M. Talmage Moorehead
Here’s a link to page 1 of this ongoing story: Hapa Girl DNA.
Be sure to click on the orange words in the story. They’re links. Some of them blew me away. Outbound links are, of course, suicide to a website because people leave and don’t come back. That’s the opposite of traffic. So try to come back if you can. Or maybe read the story first and then go back and click on the links? I don’t know. Maybe links are dumb in a story, but I had to show you all this amazing stuff. Truth is stranger than fiction, for sure.
If you’re a new writer, or curious about my take on things, download my
new aging e-book, Writing Meaningful Page-Turners, here. The last chapter talks about how to meet a viewpoint character who will add joy to your writing process and new meaning to your life. For me, it felt magical meeting Johanna Fujiwara for the first time, years ago. My fiction writing became a pleasure. If you haven’t met someone in your stories who does that for you, there’s an amazing experience waiting in your imagination. My e-book might help you there.
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