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Virus (Chapter 15) Hapa Girl DNA by M. Talmage Moorehead

“Instead of an intellectual search, there was suddenly a very deep gut feeling that something was different. It occurred when looking at Earth and seeing this blue-and-white planet floating there, and knowing it was orbiting the Sun, seeing that Sun, seeing it set in the background of the very deep black and velvety cosmos, seeing – rather, knowing for sure – that there was a purposefulness of flow, of energy, of time, of space in the cosmos – that it was beyond man’s rational ability to understand, that suddenly there was a nonrational way of understanding that had been beyond my previous experience.

“There seems to be more to the universe than random, chaotic, purposeless movement of a collection of molecular particles.

“On the return trip home, gazing through 240,000 miles of space toward the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious.”

Edgar Mitchell (1930-2016), Apollo 14 Astronaut and God’s messenger.

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The Ganga and I are plowing over library artifacts off the southern end of Easter Island, below sea level.

On the way here nine fighter jets crossed over the island, looking like pin points in formation from near space. The Ganga said they were US Air Force. We jumped into the landing bay from way out there. I think The Ganga was nervous about it, but I don’t see why. We’re phase-shifted.

I’m keeping an eye on the clock in my head. In five hours I’m due on Saturn’s north pole. If I’m late, no telling what they’ll do to me. The Ganga claims she could go all the way to Saturn in less than a thousandth of a second if she wanted to. One jump. She says it might be dangerous in her current state of mind. The scalar orbs took a toll.

Block letters float two feet from my face now, a list of “Shiva” references. Thousands of linked books and 3D videos mention the Indian god who dances today in front of the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland.

A falling sensation pulses through me every twenty seconds, as if I’d stayed up all night. I haven’t. It’s the leukemia thickening my blood with blasts. I wish I had time to hunt for a cure. Vedanshi and James went off to search the base for a medical suite, bless their hearts. Maxwell is asleep beside me here in The Ganga as she hovers within the Library.

The oldest document about Shiva says he was born on Earth about four hundred thousand years ago, if I understand the dates. I probably don’t. They’re weird in every way. Shiva grew up in the warrior class of the Rama Empire, trained hard and went to his first battle in a place we call Rajasthan, India. A blast straight from the ancient Mahabharata took his life that morning. The description makes my skin crawl…

“…a single projectile
Charged with all the power of the Universe.
An incandescent column of smoke and flame
As bright as a thousand suns
Rose in all its splendour…
a perpendicular explosion
with its billowing smoke clouds…
…the cloud of smoke
rising after its first explosion
formed into expanding round circles
like the opening of giant parasols…
..it was an unknown weapon,
An iron thunderbolt,
A gigantic messenger of death,
Which reduced to ashes
The entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas.
…The corpses were so burned
As to be unrecognisable.
The hair and nails fell out;
Pottery broke without apparent cause,
And the birds turned white.
After a few hours
All foodstuffs were infected…
…to escape from this fire
The soldiers threw themselves in streams
To wash themselves and their equipment.”

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After that life, Shiva seems to have come back as an ancient Australia Prince with acute knowledge of the Universe. His face and name bear no resemblance to the slain warrior of so-called prehistoric India, but the River insists the man was still somehow Shiva, and adds Shiva in pink 3D letters beside the name, Prince Ranwul.

I open a virtual-reality video. The date, if I’m right, makes it older than most of Antarctica’s blue ice.

The technology of the recording media pulls me in. It’s as if I’m in a ship moving through space in nonlocal jumps the way The Ganga does. A deep voice brings up the problem of child abuse and shows a tribe in the Amazon Rain Forest.

The adults tie bullet ants to straw mittens they’ve woven, place the mittens over the hands of two little boys and watch the torture. The boys scream in shock. They writhe on their feet, stagger and squat, then stand, struggle to take random steps then squat again in agony and horror. One of them comes close to me. The heat of his breath touches my face. He tries to be strong but the pain is overwhelming. In a weak moment he turns to the adults and begs for help. No help comes. He looks straight into my eyes and begs me to make the pain go away. I reach for him, but my hands pass through his shoulders. I cover my eyes, but I still hear him screaming and moaning. I peek through my fingers until finally the adults take off the mittens and view their work. The boys’ small hands are swollen and red. Both boys collapse, barely conscious. The adults take their arms, stand them up and force them to dance, arm in arm.

I’m about to throw up.

The narrator tries to say something but begins to cry. Sobs come in waves each time he tries to speak. Somehow I realize that one of the boys is his son. But there’s no way I could know that.

With no segue, the video puts me into a classroom of toddlers sitting at desks of steel with white quartz desktops showing embedded monitors that glow with hieroglyphics I don’t recognize. Their young faces are wide-eyed as they listen to an adult recite the science of a meaningless Universe. The myth involves giants and apes. It has a modern ring of mindless events producing genetic code through the magic of time.

The narrator gains his composure and says, “The tropical ant torture is designed to create warriors with wills of steel. It can be justified in this markedly primitive world. The myth of apes is a slow poison to joy and purpose. Such torture has no justification.”

A montage shows each of the students from the classroom going through life’s struggles, growing up and arriving in their teen years. Then, all but one of them is found lying dead beside a suicide note.

“If this is it, I’m done,” the first note says, written by a boy.

The fourth one is from a girl. “I’m sorry, Mom, there’s no reason to go on. I just want it to end and be over.”

The last note is from a boy who looks fifteen, the side of his face rests gently on the pillow of his bed: “Mom, you keep telling me I was such a happy little boy. I remember, but I never wanted to get older. Especially not ten. Time keeps eating up your life. And you learn the truth. Everything that matters is fake. It took a while to sink in after fat-ass Swaslee’s lectures. But yeppers. Nothing means a damn thing. I really see that now. But silly me, I still wonder if ending this lie could be real. Like maybe there’s something real if you actually do it to yourself. So anyways, make sure Ymji gets my sitar. Make him do horticulture or music. Maybe both. But Mom, damn it, don’t let these bastards tell him the truth. Let him think there’s a reason for things.”

They show the lone surviving boy playing a virtual reality game that reminds me of Zombie Apocalypse. I used to tell James that video games destroy free will. He would grunt and keep playing.

The holographic suicide notes magically cluster together, side by side on a green table. Then they fade to black-and-white and lose their 3D appearance.

“If you close one eye,” the Narrator says, “the world is two-dimensional for you. This is like Earth’s science, a masochistic cult with one eye open to the material world, the other squeezed tightly shut to filter out all other realities including the mind, the hope for meaning and purpose, the validity of love, courage, altruism, and the untiring selflessness of the greats. Closed off. Denied. Discounted. Anahata, hear and obey, to substitute mathematics for inductive reasoning, myth for curiosity, dogma for objectivity – this is the destroyer of Earth. Never let the virus leave my planet.”

Credits run from right to left. The name, Shiva, appears in pink beside the narrator’s name, Quyllur.

I’d better hurry.

I visualize Saturn’s north pole and subvocalize, “rendezvous.”

A book appears and floats in front of me. Its cover shows Titan’s methane sea with Saturn ascending.

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I open it mentally. It says that Saturn’s north pole is held in hexagonal configuration by the partially phase shifted walls of Shiva’s abandoned palace. It was once a heavily traveled meeting place, a rendezvous for extended families whose homes are separated by countless light years. Nothing confirms Vaar’s advice that I should go there.

I ask The Ganga if she can find the ship that tagged us and board it the way we did with Vaar’s ship.

“Easily,” she says, “assuming it’s still orbiting the Moon.”

Yeah, I think it makes more sense to go to the source than to trust Vaar.

The Ganga takes us through the granite walls of the library and into a room the size of a football field with a thirty-foot ceiling and rows of crops floating in rectangular stone pots. I see James at the far end of a row of Banana plants. He shouts that they’ve found medical rooms, and points over his shoulder to a door behind him. Vedanshi is with him. The Ganga glides toward them, bananas moving through her hull. I don’t bother to dodge the massive green and yellow clusters, I just relax and let them go through me.

I try to explain my plan, but they insist on coming along.

“No,” I tell them and make a fist for emphasis, “I have to do this alone.”

I slap Maxwell’s face trying to wake him, but he doesn’t come around.

“I think I should go instead of you,” Vedanshi says with a pained look.

“Forget it,” I tell her. “I need you here with James. I’ll send The Ganga back when I’m inside the ship. It’s not like I’ll be wasting away in some prison for fifty years.” I chuckle, but she doesn’t.

“I’m the one with paint on my foot,” James says. “They’ll come after me anyways.”

“You could be right,” I say, “but I hope not. Maybe they’ll think I was the only one in The Ganga.”

I slide Maxwell to the edge of the Indian carpet. James helps me lower him to the red obsidian floor. This man is solid muscle and no lightweight. Part of me wishes he’d wake up and say good-bye. The other part is thankful I don’t have to argue with him. I know he’d insist on coming along.

“Take the com,” Vedanshi says, twisting the base of her left fourth finger and tugging at it. “It’s a ring. Permanently cloaked. You can talk to The Ganga from anywhere.” I squint at the arc-shaped indentations in the palmar sides of her thumb and forefinger as she holds it in front of me. It’s almost undetectable. She takes my left hand, puts it over my middle finger and slides it on. I bend the finger and start to feel the ring’s delicate mass. “It’s loose on you,” she says, “but don’t worry. If it falls off, The Ganga always finds it and brings it back.”

“I hate this whole thing,” James says with tears in his eyes. “If The Ganga comes back empty, I’m getting in and coming after you. I don’t care if your logic is perfect.”

“I love you,” I tell him, reaching out to thump his chest.

Vedanshi takes his arm. “He’s got a pilot for the trip.”

I give her a smile of appreciation. My eyes are dry. It’s intense this side of volition.

I step back into The Ganga, take a seat on the thick rug and kiss the air toward my brother and his ancient girlfriend. As long as he’s happy, it’s all good.

In less than a blink I’m a mile above the surface of the Moon, orbiting fast. The Ganga inserts the bronze filter to let me see the ship if she finds it.

“You’re going to board it,” I tell her, “drop me off, and jump back to Vedanshi guys. No hesitation. Don’t give that ship a second to react.”

“I’ll keep an eye on you,” The Ganga says. “I’ll duck in and out randomly from a distance. I’ll probably look like background noise.”

“Bad idea,” I tell her. “If you get caught, James, Vedanshi and Max are royally screwed.”

“Valid,” she says. “But I won’t get caught. If there’s danger of it, I’ll leave and listen through the ring.”

We’re already in our fiftieth unique orbit. An ancient lava flow covering a million and a half square miles makes a visual blip each orbit. Oceanus Procellarum – something to count.

“There it is,” The Ganga says.

“Go!” I tell her, push to my feet and stand, legs bent for balance. “Drop me off and leave.”

My last two words echo from the bare walls of a room that’s about fifty feet wide and eighty feet long. The ceiling glows pale white, just inches above my head. I touch a near wall to steady myself. It’s cold and stonelike. I tap it with my knuckles. No internal resonance. I take a seat on the hard dark floor, cross my legs, slow my breathing and close my eyes. Ones and zeros appear as I’d hoped. I relax and let their code understand me, the way Vedanshi said.

“Don’t be afraid,” I say silently. “I won’t hurt you if I don’t have to. I’m Johanna Fujiwara.”

“You talk,” a female voice says inside my mind. “But you’re dying, aren’t you?”

“I have leukemia. That’s not why I’m here. You tagged my ship. I didn’t know about the quarantine, but when I found out I turned myself in.”

“How is it that you speak the River in modern English? Where were you born?”

“I have people I’m trying to protect. I can’t tell you much about myself until I know your intentions.” I stand and look around. It’s a music room with a golden harp in the center. The crest of the harp supports a seven-inch statue of Shiva dancing in front of a golden ring.

“You keep thoughts from your verbal centers,” the ship says. “Where did you learn machine language?”

“We’re not machines. We have free will, you and I.” On a stand beside the harp is a long, curved tubular structure that looks like an Australian didgeridoo with a holographic image of an elephant protruding from the side, defying the Moon’s modest gravity. I move closer and it’s not an elephant. It’s a woolly mammoth. This instrument was a mammoth tusk.

“I see you have a cloaked ring,” the ship says. “Would you uncloak it and grant me a peek?”

“I don’t think so. I hardly know you.”

“I am Anahata, the Unbeaten. Lead vehicle of Shiva’s Fleet. Or so I was. Things do change. Before Shiva died, he told me to stay here and keep his people on the planet. That’s what I do. An honor, but it’s pulled me off the lineup.”

“Promoted to a desk job, eh? Unfortunate. Maybe I can help you with that.”

Beside the Mammoth tusk there’s a five-foot vertical bird wing made of dark metal. I tap it with a fingernail. It gives off a bell tone – a rich deep C-sharp, two octaves below middle C.

“What do you plan to do with me?” I ask.

“I’m not sure. I’m still trying to see what you are. So far, your chromosomes say you’re not from Earth. How did you get inside the music room? Are you a new type of angel?”

I step over to the harp and pluck it. “In a few days, maybe.” The strings are tight and the notes sustain in the acoustics of the hard room. “Just to be clear, Anahata, you do have neurons in your hull, don’t you?”

“So they tell me. But why can’t I find any trace of the tag you say I placed on you?”

“Can’t give you that detail yet, sorry.” I walk over to a dark part of the wall, reach out to touch it but my fingertips go right in. I poke an arm in and withdraw it. I bet this is a door. I put my right leg into the wall, touch down on something I can’t see, and step through into a large room with a huge pool beneath a bright ceiling, sixty feet high. A trapeze bar hangs a foot from the center of the glassy water. “You don’t have a crew, do you?”

“Not anymore,” she says. “Your Chromosome 9 is all Earth. You’re a hybrid.”

“I’m a Hapa girl.”

“You have mixed neural sets with loci that aren’t on record. I have access to the codes of every intelligent species in Shiva’s strand, and I can tell you with certainty that one of your grandparents came from beyond Shiva’s borders, which are, if you don’t know, wider than anything you could possibly imagine.”

Ojiichan. I wonder if he knew.

“What to do?” she says. “There’s no protocol for this.”

“You should let me go,” I tell her. “Together we could teach objectivity to the people of Earth. Eradicate the quarantined mindset through unbiased education. If we succeeded, you’d be free to lead the fleet again.”

“But Shiva is dead.”

“Was he the kind of man to give up on his own people?”

“Well, yes, actually,” she says. “It wasn’t so long ago that he killed a third of them.”

“On Mars, you mean. I thought he did that to save the other two-thirds.”

“One might see it that way.”

“How do you see it?”

“Well, he liked to shake things up. And blow things up. And carve graffiti. He made even the worst things seem fun.”

“He believed that destruction cleared a path for new life,” I suggest, borrowing from tradition.

“How would you know?”

“I’m mostly guessing,” I admit. “But you should be warned, I’m an unbelievably lucky guesser.” I kneel beside the pool and touch the water’s surface. It’s warm.

“Look at this… You carry a nearly classic Bender on 23!”

Nearly classic?” I have no idea what she’s talking about.

“Can you move objects with your mind?” she asks.

“I’ve never tried.” I take my shoes off and dip my right foot in the water. “Is your pool safe?”

“For most species, yes. For an unknown hybrid, I can’t say.”

“What do you do with people from Earth?”

“The ones who reach the rendezvous are tested on Saturn’s moon, Titan. Any who don’t make it there are collected and tested here. I do that myself.”

“What’s the test for?”

The pool looks shallow at this end. It’s hard to resist when you’re covered with grime. A few black cat hairs still cling to my pants from this morning. What the heck. I strip to the cloaked ring as fast as I can and jump in before I change my mind. The water is like heaven, at least 90 degrees. I do a few of my pathetic crawl strokes and check for the bottom. It’s still there. Man, this feels good!

“I have no idea what we’re testing for,” she says. “Shiva said if anyone ever tests positive, we’d know.”

“But with no idea what’s positive, how can you identify a negative?”

“The subjects die. That’s negative. Anything else would be positive.”

 …

M. Talmage Moorehead

This story begins here as a one-page scrolling document.

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