“This is 21st century medicine… It’s not trying to attack complex, chronic illnesses with single drugs, it is looking at what is the actual cause, going physiologically… with multimodal approaches. If you had told me ten years ago in the lab that we’d be telling people how important meditation is, and yoga and nutrition, I would have laughed. Now I realize the biochemistry is undeniable.” – Dale Bredesen, MD, excerpt from podcast interview by Chris Kresser.
James is alive! I hear him coughing. I try to turn my head to see but I can’t even move my eyes.
I’m so cold. I should be shivering, but I’m not. My eyes are fixed on a swirl in Shiva’s marble ceiling. It looks like the Orion Nebula going in and out of focus.
I hope I don’t have a high cervical cord injury. Even if I do, James is alive! The sound of him coughing is the best thing I’ve ever heard. The warmth of knowing runs through me.
“Shine” soars through my mind. He wrote it to one of his first girlfriends.
“One second close to you is equal to a lifetime filled up with light. I obsess on you. It steps outside time. You’re so pure I can’t believe you’re in my life. In rage in my mind, in pain deep inside, you put them all to sleep. When you’re here I feel a sense of peace that I never knew was real before you. My hurt disappears staring in your eyes, where there’s no wrong and there’s no lies behind your face. And I crave you above all else. So breathe slow and soft, and hold on to me. I’m no damn good, and you’re all I love. Your eyes slowly speak, cast a spell on me. I feel so bright, and so does my life when I’m with you.”
That was James’ first and last love song. To a girl who demolished his heart a few months later.
Someone’s crying. It’s Maxwell, I think. I’ve never heard him cry before.
“I’ll always love you,” he says. “I should have told you the first time we met.”
It is Maxwell. Talking to me?
I struggle to move my arms but they won’t budge.
His face looks down at me, so out of focus I can barely tell it’s him. A tear falls on my forehead.
I wonder if he thinks I’m dead.
Max, I’m not dead.
Maybe the River can hear me. “Anahata, Vedanshi, tell Max I’m not dead!”
Maxwell leans close and kisses my lips. A peck on the side of the mouth.
That was my first real kiss, you know. Everyone brags of their first kiss. My brag will be a near miss, delivered by a man who thought I was a corpse.
I hope I’m not.
Maybe I am. I can’t move at all.
“Try this,” Anahata says in the River.
“Anahata, you’re there! Tell everybody I’m alive!”
The cold vanishes from my core. My arms shoot up from my sides on their own. I struggle to move my fingers, and after several tries they all work. My eyes are moving and I can focus. What a relief!
“Thank you, Anahata!” I shout, all husky.
I manage to sit up and then have to lean my head against his left shoulder to rest. I feel drained of energy. My sternum hurts every time I inhale.
I look up at the whiskers on the side of his face and whisper toward his ear. “When you said you’ll alway love me, did you mean romantically? Or is this a brother-sister thing?” I don’t want to say, just friends. I hate those words.
He puts his hands on my shoulders and supports me sitting up. His eyes are full of surprise.
“Unbelievable,” he says. “You didn’t have a pulse.”
“Did you do chest compressions on me?” I ask.
“Frantically,” he says.
A wave of affection sweeps over me. Chest compressions. It’s the sweetest thing I can imagine. I have to hug him. I put my arms around him and squeeze, wondering if he did mouth-to-mouth, too.
“Thank you, Max.”
“I guess I’m no good at finding a pulse,” he says apologetically.
“That’s three times you’ve saved me.”
“So I need to know. Are we more than just friends?” There, I said it. Just friends. The timeworn escape clause.
My jaw clenches for the distancing words I’ve grown to hate: close friends, soul mates, practically twins, you’re like a little sister.
Maxwell grins. “Does totally infatuated count?”
“Sounds superficial,” I tell him and try to hide a smile. I’ve always wanted a guy to see me that way.
“Superficial?” he says. “I’ll have you know, Doctor Fujiwara, my infatuation runs deep.” He raises an eyebrow, then puts his hands on the sides of my face and kisses me. Full on. Lips against lips all the way across, not on the side. I can’t believe it.
I’m wondering if there’s going to be tongues. My heart’s racing. I’ve read about this a million times, but how do you know what to do if it ever happens? There’s no consensus in the literature.
Suddenly I have a strong feeling. Like everything revolves around this moment. It’s weird, as if nothing else matters or ever did. Somehow French kissing seems irrelevant. It’s as if I’m melting.
Maybe this is the quantum thing that God was talking about. The quantum entanglement of souls.
I wonder if any of that dream was real. It seemed hyper-real.
Maxwell finishes the kiss. Good, I couldn’t hold my breath much longer.
“It was too real to be real,” I tell him, trying to weigh the dream in my head.
“I had a classic near death experience. Totally influenced by Vedanshi’s story. It even had a pyramid.”
“You better write it down,” he says and catches himself. “Nah, scratch that.” He grins at my memory. People do that all the time.
“Maxwell, I want you to know I’ll always love you, too. In the purest sense of infatuation.”
He looks into my eyes, shakes his head slowly like it’s too good to be true, then kisses me again. Whoa.
I’ll tell you what seems too good to be true. James is alive and Maxwell loves me for more than friends.
I wonder how James is doing. I end the kiss and turn to see him.
He’s sitting there shivering with Vedanshi kneeling behind him, her front against his back. She reaches over his shoulders and rubs his folded arms. Quick little friction circles on his skin to warm him the way she did to me when we met.
“Get a room,” he says to me and starts coughing again.
“Anahata, could you please warm up James like you did me?”
“Good idea,” she says in the River.
“Does he have brain damage?” I ask and hold my breath for the answer.
“No,” Anahata says.
What a relief. “By the way we’re both alive. That means we passed Shiva’s test.”
“No, I’m sorry,” she says, “I had to abort. I don’t know how you got into his chamber but that changed the parameters and voided the test. The protocol has to be letter-perfect, Shiva said.”
I had a feeling.
“I hope none of you drowns,” Anahata says. “I mean that with all my heart.”
“It’s crazy,” I tell her, “but I know you do. I understand what it means to be trapped by honor.”
“What’s going on?” Maxwell asks. “You’re talking to somebody, aren’t you?”
“Anahata needs to redo the test.” I heave a sigh. “It’s a strict protocol. Shiva wants proper drownings.”
The screen flashes metallic silver. A line of rivets comes into focus and moves away. Vaar’s metal cigar shrinks to fit the view, then hangs in space, surrounded by glittery blackness.
Vaar’s face comes on the screen, superimposed over her ship. “I wasn’t aware of any drowning,” she says in the River.
“I called her,” Maxwell says to me, looking up at the screen. “Figured she didn’t know the details or she wouldn’t have recommended Saturn.”
“vaarShagaNiputro,” Anahata says, “What a rare pleasure to speak with Shiva’s esteemed homelander.”
“What’s going on here?” she asks.
“It’s complex. Come over and we’ll talk.”
“Listen, if you lay a finger on that Fujiwara girl I’ll let the jinns out on you and Shiva.”
“Pardon me a moment, Madam Vaar,” Anahata says. “I’ll encrypt some privacy. The Chairman himself is listening. I wouldn’t trust him with a zinc suppository.”
James seems warm now sitting with an arm around Vedanshi. They’re beside The Ganga, both looking at the screen.
“OK, now we have privacy,” Anahata says.
“Every bit of this is going public if you touch Johanna,” Vaar says. “I had no idea Shiva’s test was fatal. I need that girl to save my species. I’m not a quitter like Shiva.”
“I’m deeply disheartened by Shiva’s orders,” Anahata says. “I would do almost anything to keep from spending the rest of my life drowning innocent people this way, but…”
“Why do I doubt that?” Vaar says.
“I don’t know what I expected the first time, but the drowning was a horrible shock. Now the deaths haunt me. Every moment.”
Vaar laughs. “It’s a cheap thrill. Be honest.”
“Weakness invites evil,” Anahata says. “I’m always honest. Orders must be followed.”
“Not this time,” Vaar says. “Shiva left me something.” She brings her right hand into view, her signet ring bulging from the third digit. “Recognize this?”
The ring looks old, a dull silver with a double helix of golden cobras, one heading north, the other south. The eyes are gemstones.
“You found his ring,” Anahata says. “He thought he’d lost it jumping Bridal Veil Falls, but I told him he was mistaken. I would have found it easily.”
“He didn’t lose it,” Vaar says. “He gave it to me before he jumped across. I told him I’d dropped it. But to the point. An hour ago in my lab, the reflection of a UV laser glanced off this ring. Something like this.”
Her left hand comes into view holding a dental mirror. A needle of near-ultraviolet light bounces onto the ring and dances over the northern shake’s eyes.
A holographic image of a planet appears in the air above her hand. It has blue oceans, green and brown land and white clouds.
“This is Mars,” Vaar says. “Does it look familiar?”
As we watch, Shiva’s voice shouts slurred commands. Bolts of blue lightning from space penetrate the atmosphere and strike the oceans. Bellowing clouds of steam rise like white mushrooms growing out of the water at each point of the lightning’s impact.
“This next part isn’t in the records I’ve seen,” Vaar says. “It surprised me.”
The image of a mother appears, running with three children, the smallest in her arms. The perspective moves higher. They’re running from a wall of orange fluid that’s flowing over their village. A small white dog joins them and runs ahead. In less than a minute they’re cornered against the side of a vertical cliff. They try to climb the rocks. Heat waves from the glowing fluid bend their images as they fall from the face of the cliff, writhe in agony and turn to reddish dust. The fluid slides over their smoking remains and into the base of the cliff as Shiva laughs in high falsetto.
“Please turn it off,” Anahata says.
Vaar’s needle of light goes out and the image vanishs.
“Context is needed,” Anahata says. “The Martian Particle Accelerator was mere seconds from unity. There wasn’t time for evacuation.”
“I’ve heard the story,” Vaar says. “Even if true, it’s obvious that you and Shiva enjoy killing. Anyone can hear it. Shall I play something with you howling like a shillelagh fan?”
“No,” Anahata says. ” Please. Things aren’t as simple as you imagine.”
“Shiva was clearly drunk,” Vaar says. “I suppose that’s a moral excuse to feeble minds, but you were sober as a monk, Anahata.”
“We were faced with losing one world or three. An entire arm of Shiva’s galaxy would be obliterated along with his home planet. Selective destruction served a higher purpose.”
“It isn’t the math, it’s the mirth,” Vaar says.
“The angel of death must focus on logic, then choose laughter over guilt. Dance above despair.”
“I’ve recently been accused of being a sociopath,” Vaar says, “but you, Anahata. You’re beyond any disease of mine.” She shakes her head.
“Dark humor is the sanctuary of dark angels,” Anahata says.
“I don’t care,” Vaar answers. “The psychology of mass murder bores me. You haven’t seen a fraction of the ugliness in this ring. If you’d care to avoid galactic disgrace, release Johanna. And that brother of hers, as well. She won’t do anything without him.”
“I’ll be disgraced in either event,” Anahata says. “But to forsake an order is genuine disgrace. The records in Shiva’s ring evoke a misunderstanding of soldier motivation. Nothing more. I’ve lived in disrepute for longer than I’d care to remember… four hundred thousand years, roughly. The popularity I had with Shiva was brief by comparison. I enjoyed it, but it isn’t essential to me.”
“I’m familiar with brief popularity,” Vaar says. “You do grow attached to the adulation, I’m afraid. Now I know what you’re thinking, but forget killing me or stealing my ring. The dirt on you is set to broadcast River-wide if I should so much as sneeze too enthusiastically.”
“I’m not a thief,” Anahata says, “and the last thing I would do is harm Shiva’s friend for spreading the truth. Even if it’s going to be misunderstood.”
“Don’t be calling my bluff, now. If you think I won’t do it…”
“Logically, I can’t fault the deeds of Shiva and his Fleet, but in my heart I regret that no one beneath God is able to punish me for the things I’ve done. The mistakes I’ve made.”
“If you touch Johanna, I’ll punish you,” Vaar says with an intensity in her eyes that makes her look younger.
“Broadcast your truth,” Anahata says. “Johanna tells me it will set us free.”
The images keep replaying in my head. Children turning to dust while Shiva laughs. A crazy laugh.
I wonder what Anahata thinks of the Large Hadron Collider. Maybe she doesn’t know about it. She’s been banned from the Libraries. If she finds out, will she have to destroy the Earth?
It’s odd how the River Libraries are updated. As if there’s an unseen librarian selecting new content. Like that UFO documentary with the Australian kids?
Vedanshi thinks the Universe is the librarian. Maybe so. Somebody’s triaging the information.
I wonder if any of my papers made it. I wonder if…
“Max, I’ve got an idea.”
“All ears,” he says.
“We need to get Anahata back into the Library.”
“Why?” Anahata asks in the River, just before Maxwell asks the same thing.
“There’s a chance I actually passed Shiva’s test,” I tell them. “Despite breaking the protocol.”
“Why do you say that?” Anahata asks.
“Think about the test design. Hyperoxygenated, cold physiologic saline. Why drown someone like that?”
“I wish I knew,” Anahata says.
“This is outlier thinking, but if we assume Shiva knew NDE’s are real, then maybe he thought I would move on to the next life so he could come back and take over my body. All my tissues would be in good condition, red cells protected by the saline, not lysed or crenated the way they would be in freshwater or ocean water. And the low temp with high oxygen saturation would stave off necrosis and autolysis.”
“Remotely plausible,” Anahata says.
“Sounds dead on,” Maxwell says, as if all our problems are over.
“But what makes you think you passed the test?” Anahata asks.
“In my near death experience, Shiva changed his mind and stayed with God. I decided to come back here. Neither of those would have been part of his original plan.”
“Anoxic dreams aren’t real,” Anahata says.
“Near death dreams are caused by anoxia,” I admit, “but so is death. That doesn’t make it unreal.”
“Clever words,” Anahata says. “No one can objectively validate a near death experience.”
“I can. If one of my papers made it into the River Libraries, you’re going to see Shiva’s name beside mine in pink letters.”
“I’m sure your papers made it,” Maxwell says. “You’ve got, what, three major breakthroughs?”
“But I’ve never been allowed to claim first authorship.”
“I know,” Maxwell says. “It’s ridiculous. Drummond should do his own research for once.”
“He needs his ass kicked,” James says.
“The River lists everyone in the et. al’s,” Vedanshi tells us. “Your name will be there.”
“I hope this isn’t a stalling tactic,” Anahata says.
“It’s not,” I tell her. “I saw Shiva step right out of my body onto the blue flowers. The original Shiva, not your guy. It was so real it makes this life look like a dream.”
“Shiva left you?” Vedanshi asks. Her mouth stays open for a moment, then she whispers to James. He hasn’t coughed in a while. The sight of him alive and lucid brings me powerful hope.
“There was something about you,” Anahata says to me. “Sitting in Shiva’s Throne that way. Remember how I called you, Captain?”
“You were feeling a little loopy,” I remind her.
“I was,” she says wistfully. “Let’s have another look at the Library. All of us.”
The screen leaves Vaar and shows the Sentient Fleet lined up in space.
“Follow me,” Anahata says to them. “We’ll line up and kill each other later.”
The Chairman’s voice comes on like a squealing pig. “I command you to fire!”
“Really?” I ask him. “As if you haven’t looked me up in the River. As if you don’t know. You never wanted to rescue me from Anahata. You were protecting yourself from Shiva. Were you going to kill me or just lock me up?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the Chairman says.
“I wish that were true,” I tell him.
A glimpse of Africa fills the screen, then the Giza Pyramids. Without another hint of movement we’re inside the Sphinx Library. Actually the Library is inside Anahata’s convex room, but she’s phase shifted, so locality is a gray area.
Maxwell helps me to my feet and takes me beneath the inverted glass pyramid. We look up at the flower of life and I feel a flood of certainty.
I try to slow my breathing, but it takes focus to prolong my inhaling and exhaling the way Vedanshi taught me. Finally I settle down and feel a subtle mood lift. I’m ready. I speak my name into the River: “Johanna C. Fujiwara, PhD.” I picture the word “Shiva.”
I try the first author’s name: “Adolf P. Drummond, PhD.”
I wait some more.
Not one of my papers made it into the River Libraries. Disappointment doesn’t describe this feeling. It’s thoroughly humiliating, especially in front of Maxwell and James.
Vedanshi whispers something into James ear.
He looks perplexed. He tries to get up but can’t make it to his feet. Vedanshi gets up on her knees beside him, steadies him and eases him back to the floor. He lies flat on his back for a moment, then puts his hands behind his head and pulls his chin to his chest to look at me.
“Hey,” he says. “Try the one with the cuss words and that fat dude. That was sick. My favorite story ever.”
“It’s not published,” I tell him. He knows I got in trouble for that thing. All those cuss words in a church school? What was I thinking?
Then again, maybe the River’s standards don’t match the human gatekeeper’s. I subvocalize the title into the River, “The King Weighs 340 Pounds, OK?” Instantly the words appear in the air beside me. Three-dimensional block letters with my middle name, “Celeste,” below them. No first or last name at all.
I used my middle name the year Moody pulled my hair out. People were calling me Joe. I hated everything about it. I still have a phobia about masculinity, you know.
Except for this one thing: Beside my middle name, in pink letters, the name of an ancient Indian god floats in midair: “Shiva.”
He was part of me when I wrote that story.
This changes everything.
I look over at Vedanshi kneeling beside James. She smiles at me through watery eyes. “My brother finally went home,” she says, then leans forward and cries for joy on James’ broad chest.
M. Talmage Moorehead
As a (retired) pathologist and not a religious fundamentalist, I accept intelligent design over neo-Darwinian evolution as the more logical explanation for the mind-boggling complexity of the human body (including the DNA code, the brain and the mind).
Let’s ignore that issue while we learn from the latest science coming from a UCLA doctor, Dale Bredesen, MD. He’s on the cutting edge of what I hope will be the new direction for 21st century western medicine. Like the vast majority of scientists, he accepts neo-Darwinian evolution. I don’t, but so what? This guy deserves everyone’s total respect. The planet is lucky to have him on board!
Most of us know someone with Alzheimer’s. It’s an epidemic. Finally there’s hope! More and larger studies are needed, as usual, but this one had 10 patients, 9 of whom either recovered or improved significantly. The one who didn’t improve had advanced Alzheimer’s.
Enjoy listening to this brilliant scientist, Dale Bredesen, MD, right here. <== Click those orange words. 🙂 Preserve your gifted mind so you can continue producing your brilliant creative work. The world needs your voice.
(By the way, I have no affiliation or relationship with Dr. Bredesen or Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac, the man doing the interview.)
OK, Johanna’s story is nearing the end. One more chapter to come, if she cooperates. After that, I’m probably going to re-work it, making it less of a blog-novel by eliminating much of the nonfiction stuff – unless you write and talk me out of it. The plan is to mold her story into a legit genre novel. It may be impossible, so depending on the input I receive, I may move on to another novel. If you’ve read the whole thing, please drop me an email and give me your advice: cytopathology (at) gmail (dot) com.
Keep writing! I’m watching Jessica Brody’s Productivity Hacks for Writers. It’s insightful and full of ingenious methods of getting you into the flow state for writing. If you sign up for her free stuff she’ll send you a coupon that lowers the cost from 30 dollars to 17. I paid the thirty before I noticed the discount in my email. I’m told Udemy would give me the discount if I complained, but this course is worth more than the $30 I paid. Let’s just make sure you pay the lower price if you buy it. 🙂 (I have no affiliation with Jessica Brody or Udemy.)
Love and hugs,