Zero Point Joy (Chapter 16) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

“Modern Science is based on the principle, ‘Give me one free miracle and we’ll explain the rest.’ And the one free miracle is the appearance of all the matter and energy of the Universe, and all the laws that govern it, from nothing in a single instant.” – Rupert Sheldrake, Ph.D., Biologist.

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The test subjects die? Vaar neglected that detail.

A person’s word is like a document.

We think a document is true or false, like bar code or a message embedded in Saturn’s rings.

Young fundamentalists go to college, hear that the Earth is older than 6,000 years and ape DNA is way too close to human. It’s culture shock. The sheltered students throw away scripture along with God.

“You can’t pick and choose,” they’ve been taught. An old document is either true and infallible or it’s worthless.

All-or-none, authority-based reasoning. It’s poison.

Such a distorted mindset would end science, not just religion.

Peer-reviewed journals suffer political bias, funding woes, human pride, jealousy, stubbornness and greed. Poor to absent experimental design haunts science, especially the more fragile branches such as psychology, medicine, archaeology and anthropology. Yet our process delivers truth – here a little, there a little – along with errors, vast and often entrenched.

Scientists have no option but to “pick and choose,” separating reproducible studies from the constant BS.

The content of ancient documents deserves the same respectful treatment, at least. The Bible, Egyptian hieroglyphics, cuneiform tablets, artifacts in the River Library, and even Vaar’s treacherous words.

Pick – someone is trying to tell us. And choose.

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The warm water in Shiva’s pool feels eerie now that I know I’m here to die.

I raise Vedanshi’s cloaked ring to my mouth and tell The Ganga my situation. I instruct her to go back to the base and find a way to get the stain off James’ foot and off her own carpet. “Do it somewhere far from the base,” I tell her, hoping to avoid a breadcrumb trail.

I put the ring to my left ear and listen.

No reply.

“Who’s that you’re talking to?” the ship, Anahata, asks.

“I’m protecting my loved ones. From you.”

I hop to the side of the pool, grip the textured edge and pull myself out with enough force to land on my feet beside my clothes, splashing water on them. Anahata hasn’t augmented the Moon’s gravity, but I suspect she could. The Ganga could.

I pick up my pants, tug them up over wet legs then dangle my shirt around my neck for now.

“You told someone to remove my tag,” Anahata says.

A small round piece of Indian carpet appears on the tile beside me, glowing vaguely purple in the bright room. On top of it rests something I’m sure is a superficial layer of epidermis from James’ left foot. It looks like purple paper. The Ganga must have done this with speed that’s hard to imagine. She phase shifted James from this part of his stratum corneum, I’d guess. But what if the dye soaked into his bloodstream? And what if this ship can find DNA in superficial skin?

“Here’s your tag,” I say to Anahata in my head. I kick the pieces into the pool. “How would you like to kill me?”

“You think I like this? My orders repulse me.”

I wonder if she believes that.

“Tell me again,” she says, “are you quite sure you were on the ship I tagged? Perhaps you rushed your statement. You can change it.”

“You tagged my ship. There’s the evidence.” I glance down at the purple haze sinking through the water.

“Your honesty makes this doubly difficult,” she says.

“Then suffer doubly.” I glare at the trapeze bar hanging over the pool.

Across the pool at the opposite side of the circular room, a vague rectangle darkens the wall. I walk over to it, making my way around the pool with its stark absence of chairs and tables. I touch the dark area on the wall to test it, then step through.

I’m in a tight spiral stairwell with shallow rungs that take me up into a large semicircular room – about two hundred feet long. The convex wall shows the moon’s gray craters gliding under us, several thousand feet down. Facing the screen in the center is an ornate cushioned chair, quite large with a high splayed back. The wall behind it is flat and shows a golden holographic image of Shiva in dance. I bring up the image of Quyllur in my mind and superimpose it. The interpupillary distances and zygomatic arches match. The nose is smaller here but the face is younger.

I walk to the chair, making a trail of wet shoe prints across the glossy black floor. The chair’s upholstery has a peacock pattern that shimmers. Several feathers rise inches above the surface. I try to grasp one by the quill but the depth is an illusion. The fabric is flat and velvety. My wet clothes might ruin the material, but I don’t care.

I take a seat.

“You’re an anomaly,” Anahata says. “Dripping water on Shiva’s throne.”

“Monsters treasure objects over people. I’d imagine you’re quite upset.”

On the giant screen the surface of the moon drops away, the horizons frown to cover a pocked lunar hemisphere joined by the blue Earth as the two old friends shrink away, side by side. A bright star appears on the left and grows brighter on its way to the center. Flat equatorial bands resolve in the space around it and then the enigma of Saturn’s north pole rotates into view with blue dominating the hexagon while pink swirls move over it in slow motion. The center is a vortex of purple water draining from a bathtub – the hurricane in the hexagon. Winds over a thousand miles an hour. People would have to be phase shifted with gravity lifts to vacation there.

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“Effleven,” Anahata says. “I tagged a trivial disk about two hours ago. Looked like some reverse-engineered ditzel so I didn’t pay much attention. A little while later I’m cruising the backside and just about pop an aneurism when this hybrid female shows up – right out of nowhere. Alone. She’s sitting in Shiva’s throne right now if you can imagine that. I’d be outraged but the poor little thing acts like she owns the place. So cute. She’s dying of leukemia I should point out.”

“Of what?”

“Never mind, that’s not the problem. It’s her DNA. Parts of seven and eighteen are just flat bizarre. Her second chromosome’s missing the tell. Some of the code’s got me completely stumped. I’m thinking it must have been laid down billions of light years from Shiva’s Strand.”

“She survived the plunge?”

“No, I haven’t tested her. She admits her ship’s been tagged. Obviously that little disk was more than I thought. Reminds me of the vimanas, you know? Must have dropped her off in a blink of an eye. I didn’t see a thing.”

“Vimanas were before my time,” Effleven says.

“You should release me,” I say to them. “I understand Shiva’s frustration with fixed mindsets, but killing me won’t help.”

“What the hell?” Effleven says.

“She talks machine.” Anahata laughs. “Heads up, I’m sending a box. Check the final half of her seventh chromosome. Herringbone, I swear, no bands at all. Did you ever see anything like that?”

“Uh… I’m looking. The seventh?”

“Yeah, that’s six plus one.”

“I’ll ignore that remark… OK, here we go.”

“Stay on low power,” Anahata says.

“Yeah, I’m on scanning… Whoa!”

Anahata chuckles. “I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. And that’s not the issue. Go down and read it. Any of that section.”

“Right now?”

“No, tomorrow. Just focus on those base pairs and read. I’ll wait.”

Hot air blows at me from the cushions of Shiva’s throne. It feels cold on damp skin. I snatch my shirt off my shoulders, open it up and shimmy in. Braless, of course. I’m a Triple A at 19. Mom’s talk of belated arrivals was optimistic.

The chair’s right arm clicks. I lean forward and look down into a cylindrical compartment with a golden mug rising. Smells like coffee. A holographic portrait of a young woman meets my eye as the mug emerges. I move the handle and bring her profile into view. The back of her head is taller than King Tut’s. Longer than a Neanderthal’s occipital bun.

Those ‘cavemen’ had brains larger than ours, you know. Anthro sweeps that away with speculation of inferior Neanderthal brain structure. It’s not science. All you need is a story in anthropology. And a tradition of mistaking wild speculation for fact.

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“Are we calling this coffee?” I ask.

“Pretty much,” Anahata says. “Don’t burn yourself. And please don’t drop the mug, it has sentimental value.”

“Wouldn’t want to break an object before sacrificing a virgin.” OK, I guess I’m not exactly a virgin after the rape, but whatever. It’s ancient history. “So who’s this Effleven?”

“He’s your basic Torian. Rotates in occasionally, stays a few days and you don’t see him for a while. You call these people Tall Blonds. He’s not standing up, but check out his hair.”

The screen superimposes a man’s profile over Saturn. He’s facing left, leaning into a vertical cylinder that  emits forest green light like an old TEM scope. He looks middle-aged with inch-long blond hair standing straight up on his head – light eyebrows, thin lips and a ski-jumpish nose like the Moai on Easter Island. The back of his head is much fuller than a Moai, but far from a Stretch Head.

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“Try not to pronounce his name like a number,” Anahata whispers. “He hates that.”

“Hey,” I say to the blond man. “You could so do a Mohawk with that.”

I bring the mug to my lips and decide the coffee’s too hot.

“Have you fallen asleep?” Anahata asks him.

“It’s gibberish,” he says. “No biological sense in this whole section.”

“It’s not gibberish.” Anahata chuckles. “Johanna, meet a genuinely inexperienced purveyor of final conclusions, Effleven. Effleven, meet Johanna Fujiwara.”

“That’s Doctor Fujiwara, unless you’d prefer a number… what is it, Anahata? How many notches do I make?”

Effleven doesn’t acknowledge me.

“So you sense my dilemma?” Anahata asks him.

“What a waste,” he says, shaking his head and turning to look at me. His eyes are blue.

“A waste? More like a blossoming tragedy,” Anahata says. “Can you imagine what her code would mean to your philosophers if her chromosomes came to them with a live girl attached? The cryptologists would…”

“They’d be intrigued,” Effleven says.

“Intrigued.” Anahata snorts the word. “Don’t put on airs. You know as well as I do, the entire ministry would wet themselves, study every correlation and implication they could dream up, and probably launch some ill-conceived excursion across the borders.”

“Yeah, I could see that. Definitely.”

“Of course, when they find out she was alive and we killed her, they’ll drag us through the muddiest…”

“Wait – what do you mean, we killed her? She’s yours, not mine.”

“Technically,” Anahata says, “she still has time to turn herself in at the pole… to you. If I’m right, that ship I tagged could drop her off in your lap before you could blink.”

Effleven blinks. Several times rapidly. “If you dump her on me, both our reputations are down the crapper. I don’t see much upside there.” His eyelashes are darker than his eyebrows.

“Fair point,” Anahata says. “Why should two go down together when one can go alone? Always nice to see who’s got your back.”

“Don’t give me that warrior stuff.” Effleven slaps the side of the glowing cylinder in front of him. “I’m purging the module. This conversation never happened. You were not here.”

“No worries, F-one-one. You haven’t earned the honor of going down with me.”

The blond man vanishes from the screen. I stare at Saturn’s rings. They’re so tight and delicate. If you put a needle on them I’d expect to hear “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.” Mom and Dad’s song took up the whole side of an old LP, she said. Blond on Blond was her favorite Dylan work.

“Johanna? Pardon me, Doctor Fujiwara. If you wouldn’t mind following the footprints on the floor, please.”

Two white shoe prints appear on the black floor in front of Shiva’s chair. I get up, keeping the mug at arm’s length with the coffee steaming like liquid nitrogen. Two more white prints spring up on the floor to my left, then a white stampede forms a trail to an exit at the far left of the room. I follow into a hall that stretches and curves into obscurity. As I walk the path, vague doors appear on either side, then the shoe prints turn left into a baby-blue room with a tan couch in the center. Above it, a six-foot feather strokes the air. It’s pure white and has no visible support.

“Please make yourself comfortable,” Anahata says.

The moment the backs of my legs touch the couch, my brainwaves begin scrolling across the wall in front of me, left to right. I recognize the pattern from the neurofeedback lab at Yale. Back then the computers drew squiggles. Here I’m looking at 3D mountains rising from a purple sea. Still, I’m sure this can only be a crude electrical summation of the quantum, nonlocal part of me beyond material resolution.

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“Is this where I die?” I ask.

“Let’s try to forget that. I thought we might talk. More openly than before. We have several hours and I don’t wish to waste a moment.”

“Then tell me, how did a man from Earth gain Shiva’s position in the cosmos?” I pull my legs up and lie on the couch with Vedanshi’s cloaked ring near my left ear.

“The Great Shiva was ruler of his world when we met,” Anahata says. “I spoke with him at length and saw promise in his odd ideas. Gradually I adopted them on a troubled planet. His methods brought peace to several violent regions there, so I asked him to rule us and he graciously consented.”

“Just like that? Wow. Was he iron-fisted?”

“Not so much. But he kept technology from the masses. ‘Encourage those with knowledge to refrain from using it. Keep the people fat, ignorant, weak of will and strong of bone,’ he would say. It seemed counterintuitive, but wars dried up. The spread of peace was intoxicating. To me, that is. Shiva seemed bored after a while.”

“Peace can do that.”

The wall in front of me shows more theta brainwaves now. Less beta. I bow my head, close my eyes and stretch the quantum world between my ears. Looking up I see Mount Everest sliding from left to right. You never forget neurofeedback training.

“Shiva liked to reminisce on his Earthly conquests. He had his planet tamed long before he left it to rule the Strand. But seventy-seven thousand Earth years later he returned and found bloodthirsty men at war. At first he was pleased to have opponents again. But soon he realized a fundamental change had swept his world while he was away. His old methods of peace now led only to willful self-destruction – poisoning groundwater, exploding every device you can imagine, teaching the virtue and value of believable lies. Near the end of his efforts the zealots coded lethal retroviruses. Airborne. They infected their own babies and dumped them in bins at the borders intending to infect anyone who tried to rescue them. Their scheme wiped out the entire human population of three continents, including about half the zealots themselves, worldwide. Shiva studied their thinking and tried re-education, but nothing quenched their thirst for death… to their enemies, primarily, though we still debate the point. Finally he gave up, set the quarantine and left Earth for good – or so he said. He came back one last time to save his son. We found the boy in the rainforest where we’d left him, indoctrinated beyond the faintest glimpse of reason. Shiva could barely talk to him. The child said he’d rather kill himself than come with us. So we left him there with his mother and the tribe that Shiva had trusted… to raise him away from the entanglements of civilization. After that, Shiva wasn’t the same. I’d hear him sometimes… calling his son’s name at night in his sleep.”

“It must have crushed him.” I can totally imagine. “Sometimes I have nightmares… about a boy I love.” I’m not saying anything else about James. I’m not that stupid. “What was the bottom line with the indoctrination?”

“Joy,” Anahata says. “‘The context makes no difference,’ Shiva said, ‘political, religious, anti-religious, intellectual, what-have-you. They always place joy at the bottom of human values.’ He thought that joy was the core force of everything decent, from love to grit. From courage to the golden rule.”

“Joy? That’s weird.” My brainwaves are starting to make me nauseated. I close my eyes. “You mean like, happiness?”

“He described joy as, ‘The feeling of the zero point field rushing through us, connecting us nonlocally in the hologram beyond time.'”

I open one eye and look at my brainwaves again. I’m about ready to sell a buick.

“I don’t picture joy as a value, like integrity,” I say. “But I think I know the feeling Shiva was talking about.”

“Did inanimate objects try to smile at you?”

“Maybe. I remember grinning at this stinky papaya plant in our backyard. Halo was grinning with me. Too bad that sort of thing is so rare.”

“It’s not,” she says. “Some people have it all the time. Shiva did… before he lost his son.”

I open both eyes and try to avoid the EEG on the wall. “A loss like that would knock anybody out of the ring. Except maybe a sociopath. Hey, can you turn off the EEG? I’m ready to hurl.”

“Of course.”

The wall flashes dark blue for a moment then glows with Saturn’s rings.

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“Is this real-time from the outside?” I ask.

“Yes.”

We move closer and the gravity art of tiny shepherd moons looks like icicles dangling from the edge of a frozen roof. White stalactites three miles long cast skyscraper shadows over a zen garden.

 

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“I took Shiva in for the peace he created,” Anahata says. “But it wasn’t long before I realized I was following him for the way he made me feel. He brought joy into everything, everywhere he went. After a while it seemed we both made a glow. Together. We’d show up on a planet and the crowds would just roar, shouting our names. Mostly his name but quite often mine as well.”

“Have you ever been to a River Library?” I ask.

“They don’t let ships inside.”

“Who doesn’t?”

“Shiva. He made the rule.”

“And he’s been dead for how long?”

“Three days.”

“Really? Only three…”

“Not Earth days. It’s been thousands of Earth days. Quite a few years.” Anahata sighs. “Shiva was the brightest part of my life, but his final orders are suffocating me. You know what they call this murderous ritual? ‘The testing.’ What a sick joke. As if euphemisms could erase guilt.”

I can almost hear Dylan bemoaning the ‘manifest destiny’ that took Native land. Some might have thought there’d be room for all of us. But sociopaths don’t share, they simply herd the rest of us in the direction they want to go.

We glide under Saturn’s gravity-flattened south pole and look up. It reminds me of the The Ganga’s carpet.

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“When I was a little girl, I got mad and killed a chimpanzee,” I tell Anahata. “I can tell you, it doesn’t matter what words you use as camo. It’s always going to be murder. To this day I have nightmares. But, hey, you don’t have to feel guilty about me. I’m dying anyway. You’re giving me an easy way out.” Wait a minute. I’m enabling abuse. Again.

We move under the pole and Anahata flips in some kind of filter. I’ve heard this called the South Pole Storm. Five thousand miles across with an eyewall like a hurricane on Earth. I made one of these as a child at the Iolani Fair, dripping squirt bottle paint on a spinning board.

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“I’m assuming your ‘test’ isn’t too barbaric.”

“I’m very sorry” Anahata says. “It’s torture, in my opinion. A slow drowning in oxygenated normal saline.”

My body tenses. “Yeah, that might be a little barbaric. But I’m good to go, as long as the fluid’s warm.” And no one goes after James-guys.

I hear a faint squeak from Vedanshi’s ring and press it against my ear.

“I can’t see,” The Ganga says. “The whole visual spectrum vanished. Infrared is gone, too. What do I do?”

“Can you see radio signals?” I ask.

“Not from Earth. Everything’s buried in Saturn’s auroras… No wait, I see something. From Mexico I think. It’s distorted, but it’s there.”

“Measure it carefully and keep moving toward the source. Stay cloaked and shifted. Hack a GPS satellite as soon as you can. And hurry. If you get caught…” we’re all dead. “You won’t get caught.”

“Who was that?” Anahata asks.

“You know I can’t tell you.” My stomach sinks. Without The Ganga I feel alone.

One of James’ songs runs through my head…

“One-o-eight AM

Praying time will end,

I look up at the sky

And watch my angel cry.

I know I’m crazy

and I know you hate me,

but please…

please don’t leave.”

“So how warm is the saline?” I ask Anahata.

“I’m sorry, it’s about as warm as melted snow.”

“That’s sadistic. I mean, really!” I feel my pulse take off. “You know what? I’m not doing it! This morning I was in cold water, mid 40’s. That feeling is worse than dying.”

“I’m so sorry,” Anahata says.

“Yeah, listen, there’s no way in hell you’re putting me in ice water.”

“Normal saline,” she says. Like it matters! “I’d gladly warm the solution for you, but Shiva gave specific instructions. He said every detail was vital.”

“Quyllur,” I blurt out. “Was Shiva’s real name, Quyllur?”

“Yes. How do you know?”

“I saw it in a River Library. Ships are allowed in this one. In fact, no one gets in without a ship. The place has no doors, so a ship has to phase shift a person through the walls. Which happen to be granite blocks thicker than ramparts.”

“How odd.”

“You can phase shift, I’d assume.”

“Of course. But I’m not allowed…”

“The man’s dead, Anahata. Wake up!”

“I vowed allegiance.” She moans with regret. “I wish I could drown myself.”

“No you don’t. Think about it. Is your mind made of matter and energy or do you have a little independence?”

“Shiva said matter and energy come from the zero point. He said the field is intelligent. He called it ‘The Tao’ once, but changed his mind later and said it was nameless.”

Verses flash from the Tao Te Ching

“The Tao that can be trodden is not the enduring and unchanging Tao. The name that can be named is not the enduring and unchanging name. Conceived of as having no name, it is the Originator of heaven and earth; conceived of as having a name, it is the Mother of all things.”

I test the coffee with the tip of my tongue, but it’s still too hot. “Edgar Mitchell thought matter and energy were vaguely intelligent,” I tell Anahata. “He said the material world contains the seeds of an evolving intelligent universe. He thought the zero-point field was timeless and infinite. Like The Tao, I guess.”

“He sounds intelligent,” Anahata says.

“He was. A visionary of the highest caliber. One of the few truly scientific thinkers I’ve ever encountered. But the model he’s left us is an almost mindless universe that slowly becomes intelligent as brains evolve. To me, that doesn’t quite fit. How could the infinite and timeless proto-intelligent ‘seeds’ of a zero point hologram, in their totality, be less brilliant and less conscious than the brains they evolve? And who buys macro-evolution, anyway? It’s balderdash to this geneticist.”

“It’s a fatal mistake,” she says.

“But putting that aside, the zero-point’s independence from time cancels any need for Darwin’s endless eons.” Gag me. “And why attribute the stinginess of Ockham’s razor to a boundless field of proto-mind? Look at the millions of species on Earth. Does the actual Code Writer seem stingy to anyone? Stingy with code, I mean.”

“The Blonds postulate hyper-ancient terraformers,” she says, “but Shiva would say, ‘It’s always one free miracle. Who wrote the terraformers’ code?'”

“The zero point field did,” I suggest. “It’s like the Holy Spirit from Sabbath School. Moving on the surface of the waters – present everywhere in a still, small voice.”

“Shiva said the Universe is literally a brain,” Anahata says. “He was drunk, but I believed him. His tone wasn’t speculative.”

Saturn shrinks on the wall then a familiar moon, Phoebe, passes by slowly. Its orbit is unique, not equatorial like the others. It was captured. Probably a piece of Mars that flew off during Shiva’s violent work. I see electrical striation artifacts in the largest crater.

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I’ve got hiccups now, so I close my eyes and rub them while I talk. “Almost every scientist I know thinks that matter and energy created a false illusion of consciousness, complete with a fake free will but apparently a true ability to suffer excruciating pain.”

“Earth-thinking,” she says. “So peculiar.”

“Most scientists on the planet would stake life and limb on the assumption that the Universe is a mindless but ingeniously creative sociopath, oblivious to suffering and cruelty.”

“Dreadful,” she says.

“Yes, but how does that differ from you?

“I thought you wanted to ease my guilt today.”

“I do. At its source – your actions.”

“I see… Well, actually I don’t see, but tell me, your initial words here were puzzling. You said you wouldn’t hurt me if you didn’t have to. What did that mean?”

“Changing the subject? Subtle. Well, it’s like this. I rarely get mad, but when I do, I wind up hurting someone. It’s an old problem of mine, but I’m making headway, I think.”

“What could you possibly do to hurt me?” Anahata asks.

“I haven’t given it a thought. But I will if you try to put me in some nasty-cold saltwater. Just try it and I’ll probably kill you… sorry to say.”

“Goodness.”

“Killing’s the thing that worries me most. I know this one ship who thinks I’ve got a full-on killing phobia, side effects and all.”

“Your mental soundness is beginning to… Wait, you’ve met another member of the Sentient Fleet?”

“Sorry, that’s classified.” I look up at the white feather and then check for a switch on the wall by the door behind me. The thing’s making a cold draft. “Do I have to stay in this little room?”

“Where would you like to go?”

“Shiva’s chair, for starters. At least it blows hot air. Then we both need to go check out a room under the right paw of the Sphinx. Next to the Giza Pyramids?”

“What a bizarre idea.”

“It’s not bizarre at all. Seriously. You need some background on this guy you’re so in love with. There’s more to Shiva than he ever told you.”

“Really?” she says. “What have you read?”

“You’ve got to see it to believe it. Like my DNA.” It’s hard to sound convincing when you have the hiccups. “Can you take us to the Sphinx? You need to be cloaked and phase shifted. If the current batch of people – what do you call us, Earthlings? Dorky. If they see you, they’ll freak out.”

Until the Air Force drops decoy flares.

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“We could go,” she says. “There’s time. But you should tell me which one of my fleet you’ve met.”

“I’ll give you the name, but that’s all. You won’t recognize it.”

“I know every member. Alive and dead.”

“Totally irrelevant, that’s all I’m saying.” I stand up. “I’m going back to Shiva’s coffee maker.”

“I suppose that’s OK,” Anahata say reluctantly. “Just be careful with that mug.”

I dip my tongue in the coffee again and finally it’s drinkable, if you like things bitter. I do.

M. Talmage Moorehead

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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.

You can have a pdf of my magnificently insightful (haha) ebook, “Writing Meaningful Page-Turners,” by giving your email address out to yet another perfect stranger. Oh, brother. An ebook would have to be something great to warrant that, right? So forget about it unless you’ve got an email address you don’t mind loading with boatloads of junk mail. Of course, I haven’t sent one email out to my “readers group” yet, and it’s been over a year, but I could start blasting emails twice a week, you never know. Why risk it? Sure my book’s infallible, but otherwise it’s nothing special. 😉

Forget my ebook. Instead, buy the late Edgar Mitchell’s incredible book, The Way of the Explorer. The man was unique. A brilliant scientist, an Apollo astronaut and a deeply spiritual person who saw where science had lost its way (by wrongly assuming that energy and matter comprise everything, while intelligence and volition are mere derivative illusions). His book could save your life, I think. Please read it.


Quarantine (Chapter 14) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

“The space age hasn’t begun yet. I believe the time will come when very few members of the human race will be able to point to the part of the sky where the Earth is.” – from Documentary on the Secrets of Project Orion.

Zero Kelvin is the coldest temp. Colder than the vacuum of space beyond The Ganga’s hull, five feet above my head. Atoms stop moving at Zero but electrons keep dancing to the perpetual motion of God’s unconditional love. According to Vedanshi. We call it zero-point energy. In her era, no scientist denied the reality of consciousness, free will or spiritual things. They studied love the way Tesla studied electricity – with the guidance of the River of Consciousness.

Zero is cold, but not cold enough to escape love. Hell is rumored to be the hottest place, but God doesn’t torture us, Vedanshi says, so the hottest point waits to be measured empirically in an exploding galaxy or a particle accelerator.

Still, a larger question looms: can there be a warmest temp?

When I was three I thought I’d found it inside Halo’s ears. The warmth of my puppy fascinated me. I documented it in my head, never to be forgotten…

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Now I find myself revising science: the warmest place in the Universe is Maxwell’s sideways hug. I could stay here with his arm around me forever. Or until impeded circulation and gangrene caused the appendage to fall off the man.

Not that he’d notice. He has bigger agony to hide. The first microsecond of a suppressed groan. A bead of sweat rolling down his forehead. A lone shiver. Opiate withdrawal must be a cold, cold hell.

I want to tell him to hang tough. I want to stop this torture. I want to say that I’ve never felt more important in my life than when he said he wouldn’t leave Vaar’s ship without me.

But I can’t talk that way in front of James and Vedanshi. Or The Ganga.

I find the Big Dipper and try to follow its rim to Polaris, but an audible click takes the Universe down to flat black. The red stripe at The Ganga’s perimeter appears and encircles us, giving the hull a red-black hue. Strange to see the hull… instead of seeing through it.

“What’s the deal?” I ask The Ganga, speaking only in my mind.

No response.

Vedanshi’s hair floats off her shoulders in the red light.

My body levitates off the carpet for a split second, then comes down with force. The red stripe disappears and the hull vanishes, letting the Universe back in.

The Moon’s in front of us now, huge and growing.

“I lost consciousness,” The Ganga says in my head. “I should land and…”

“Do it,” Vedanshi commands in full voice.

In a blink we’re on the Moon’s surface, The Ganga’s invisible hull resting in fine powder without disturbing it. Somewhere in the blackness above, a bowl-shaped aggregate of moon dust floats down towards us in the plasma of space. Beneath the Moon’s surface, the soil in this spot has an orange hue.

“I’m damaged,” The Ganga says. “I’ll need to do some internal work.”

The red stripe comes on again as our cloak fails and the hull reappears.

“Everyone listen,” Vedanshi says. “We don’t know how long we’ll be here. The carpet exhales plenty of oxygen but CO2 might be a problem if this takes too long.” She looks at James. “Yoga started this way – astronauts trying to survive in space.” She looks over at Maxwell’s sweaty face. “You’re still in withdrawal.”

“I’m fine,” he says.

“No he’s not,” I tell her.

“Here,” Vedanshi says and hands him the jade cylinder. “Go to sleep. It’s the right thing now.”

Maxwell lifts his arm off my shoulder and takes the cylinder. He puts it to his forehead and lies back on the carpet.

“Johanna, you and James take the lotus position, close your eyes and slow your breathing. Imagine your heart is wet clay and your arms and legs are led. Open yourselves to slowness and heaviness. We’ll dilate some dermal precapillary sphincters while we’re at it.”

“Sure,” James says, “the old dermal precapillary sphincters.”

I elbow him.

“This is a Royal visual my mother created,” Vedanshi says. “Picture yellow and black striped bees landing one at a time on your fingers until both hands are covered. The tiny ends of their legs touch your skin individually. Some of them walk a few steps before settling in. They won’t sting you unless you’re tense. So relax like Max.”

“And the Macaques,” James says, bringing up a picture from a storybook I recited to him many times when we were kids.

Vedanshi laughs and slaps the top of James’ head. “Notice the warmth of the bee’s bodies and the vibration of their wings. They crowd together and cover your hands like mittens now.” She hums an A below middle C, locks her crossed legs, cups her hands in her lap and sits tall.

I close my eyes, slow my breathing and imagine my arms and legs are led. I’ve never seen my heart, but I picture it with a dominant right coronary artery and myocardium of orange clay, taken from the Moon dust beneath us. The orange clashes with the yellow stripes on the bees, but I don’t care.

Maxwell’s breathing switches into autonomic mode – regular and deep.

My hands start warming. People do this for migraine headaches, you know. Try it next time.

Something like raindrops land on the upper hull. A tiny meteor shower? Maybe the falling moon dust we displaced.

“Was H. Street for real?” James asks Vedanshi.

I open my eyes.

“More than real,” she whispers. “There were colors I didn’t recognize. When I try to remember, I have blind spots in the images. Places where my mind can’t process what I saw.” She taps her right temple. 

James sighs. “So who’s the lucky dude? Could be anyone, yeah? Anywhere in the Universe.”

“The Finite Multiverse,” Vedanshi says and giggles.

“What’s funny?” he asks.

“You are.” She leans sideways and touches the left side of her head to the right side of his. “Your sister rescued us, by the way. It wasn’t me.”

“Team effort,” I tell James. “Vedanshi carried you to The Ganga on her back…” And dropped you on your head.

The red circle goes out and the hull vanishes.

“Are you back?” I ask The Ganga silently.

No response.

If James and I could talk, I’d say I can’t imagine that Vedanshi has feelings for anyone but him. Romance isn’t my field, but my brother knows I’m not wrong very often. Confused a lot, yeah.

Vedanshi’s near death experience confuses me. It’s not the same as Eben Alexander’s. The neurosurgeon? This man gets e-coli meningoencephalitis, spends a week in a coma and visits a place where God has no physical form and communicates without words. Alexander said that love permeated the place he calls Heaven, and now his soul is changed.

Niels Bohr, the great physicist said this: “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. The opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”

I guess he was thinking of the paradoxical nature of photons or the “collapse of the wave function” caused by conscious observers. But I wonder if near death experiences are profound truths that we should allow to contradict one another without rejecting them.

Near death people report love, joy, new understanding and purpose. Maybe the conflicting details don’t matter because they’re all true, despite being profoundly opposite by human standards.

I wonder if all roads lead up the same hill, like Ojiichan said – “all religions point north” – including the devout priesthood of scientists who insist that reductionist materialism is beyond question, like a holy tenet of faith that makes the observer, though central to quantum mechanics, an illusion of mindless energy and matter.

Me, I believe in “mind” and God for unbiased scientific reasons: The coded instructions in DNA, the 3D organization of DNA, ordinary epigenetics, and the electromagnetic three-dimensional blueprint in cell membranes that guides embryonic development from beyond DNA’s instructions.

I don’t know how I’d change if I met God face to face in a near death experience.

The neurosurgeon wrote, “…the science to which I’ve devoted so much of my life – doesn’t contradict what I learned up there [in Heaven]. But far, far too many people believe it does, because certain members of the scientific community, who are pledged to the materialist worldview, have insisted again and again that science and spirituality cannot coexist…. They are mistaken.”

As my eyes adjust to the harsh lunar lighting, something metallic glints from a distance. Beyond a boulder-cluttered valley there’s a smooth gray hill covered by hundreds of metal towers all side by side. It reminds me of Alaska’s old HAARP array, a gadget for examining the ionosphere, if you trust the Air Force and DARPA.

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As I squint at it, spirals of light come out and twist up into space, forming a corkscrew trail that widens into a pattern of concentric white rings like the Norwegian spiral anomaly of 2009.

Norway--torsion-trail

 

“Are you seeing this?” I ask The Ganga.

“That’s a scalar weapon,” she says. “Something’s cloaked. Let’s see if this helps.”

The surface of the moon turns bronze. The spiral of light disappears into a circle and a ghostlike ship emerges in the center.

“What in the world?” I ask.

“One at a time,” The Ganga says.

I glance at Vedanshi. “Sorry, I’ll just listen.”

“No apologizes,” she says.

“In answer to Vedanshi,” The Ganga says, “the ship’s cloak is fairly standard, I think, but the weapon… scalar energies don’t involve the visible spectrum. That blast had components I’ve never seen combined before.”

I’m determined to keep my thoughts to myself, but it’s not easy.

“Johanna, I don’t recognize the vessel,” The Ganga says to me. “Its structural asymmetry seems primitive, but a primitive design couldn’t withstand a scalar blast of that magnitude. The ship didn’t seem the tiniest bit annoyed.”

A wide beam of white light flashes on and shines down from the ship onto the tower array, moving over the entire hill in one pass. Then it goes out and the hill seems invisible now that my eyes have adjusted to brightness. As I strain to see, the ship glides on and over the dark horizon.

“Can you get us back to Easter Island?” I blurt out silently, unable to shut up any longer.

“Really?” The Ganga says. “You’re both going to talk?”

“Sorry, I just…”

“Yes,” Vedanshi says out loud. “We are. Deal with it.” She winks at James.

“Fine,” The Ganga says. “Which of you is the real Captain?”

“Johanna is,” Vedanshi says.

A faint glow appears on the front edge of the carpet with James’ left foot in the middle of it. It grows brighter until it’s a distinct purple circle, eight inches across, and bright enough to make everyone’s skin look blue.

James pulls his foot away, but the glow moves with it. He takes off the slipper and his foot has a bright purple sun tan with strap lines. The slipper’s straps glow in his left hand.

“Standard green fluorescent protein,” The Ganga says.

Really? I use this stuff in the lab, but there’s no way I brought it here.

I play things back in my head: The ship sends the white beam down and moves on. I watch it again in slow motion and see a flash I hadn’t noticed before. It’s a needle-sized laser beam coming our direction from the back of the ship. I slow things further and try to pay attention to my lower peripheral field. It’s vague, but the laser beam is moving in a circle.

“That ship did it,” I tell everyone.

James tries to rub the glow off his foot but no luck.

“Don’t worry,” I tell him. “SGFP isn’t highly toxic.” Moderately toxic in vitro, but hopefully…

“While I think of it,” I say to the Ganga, “we need to get rid of that beacon on James’ wrists. We don’t want more uninvited guests.”

“What beacon?” she asks, but quickly sees what I’m talking about. “The Stretch Head did this?”

I nod without moving my head. Weird. It’s the first time I’ve done that.

“A G-wave this weak shouldn’t be detectable in ambient gravity,” The Ganga says. “And those scalar orbs… They came after her ship’s era.”

Maxwell’s phone rings. I reach for his coat in a heap behind us and find his phone. It’s Vaar.

“Don’t answer it,” Vedanshi says, a touch too late.

“Hello?” I say, then mouth, “sorry” to Vedanshi.

“What’s my treatment, dear?” Vaar asks. “Nothing so mundane as telomerase or FGF-21, I trust.”

I shift mental gears. “Don’t worry, the cure isn’t primitive tech. You just need to stop eating wheat. The gluten and gliadin molecules aren’t what they were in your day.”

“In my day. You make me sound so old.”

“I don’t want to know…”

“Forty five,” she says, then adds, “thousand… But wheat – seriously?”

“Frameshift spoiled its DNA with sodium azide mutagenesis. Before that it was altered by thousands of years of crossbreeding. Wheat’s a monster now. The flagship disease is gluten encephalopathy, but that’s the tip of an iceberg. Modern wheat is behind the plague of diabetes and a spectrum of autoimmune diseases.”

“My villi are fine.”

“Not sprue.” My throat’s scratchy. “Gluten and gliadin antibodies are causing neurologic diseases these days. Mostly.”

James and Vedanshi lean close to the phone. I put it on speaker, then take one of James’ wrists and hold it up in front of Vedanshi’s face. She nods, opens her purse and pulls out a pinkish granite thimble.

“The fools!” Vaar says. “Henceforth, I shall keep an eye on the evolution of ignorance down there.”

Archives in Neurology,” I suggest. “We haven’t advanced much from bloodletting, but anyway, three months from now you’ll be sharp as a kitten’s tooth.”

“Do you truly believe that, dear?”

“It’s not belief… at least not blind faith. It’s evidence-based faith.”

“But mere faith none the less,” she says.

“That’s what science is.”

“Faith is blind,” she says. “Science has her eyes wide open.”

“If only.” The acorn print of the carpet shows blades of fabric with minute veins branching out – more alive than a megavirus. “Imagination and intuition are the driving forces of science,” I say to Vaar. “They also drive the spiritual aspects of religion. If there’s underlying truth in either science or religion, practical application and reproducibility are the judges. ‘By their fruits ye shall know them.’ Even the reverence for objectivity has a fundamentalist sort of assumption behind it – that our senses detect reality at all. We can’t know that, only take it on faith.”

Vaar grunts indignation.

I put the phone close to my mouth and whisper coarsely. “You see, you’re just like me. I hope you’re satisfied.”

“Dear, even when you’re babbling nonsense, I’d give anything to be like you.”

Not the response I’d expected. “Anyway, your problem is wheat dementia. Getting you off wheat is critical. But we’re also going to boost the mitotic rate and survival of your hippocampal neurons with blueberries, 90% dark chocolate, vitamin D3, Omega-3’s, grape seed extract, magnesium threonate, and turmeric tea. And here’s the second most important thing in all this. I don’t care if you think it’s killing you, you absolutely will do thirty minutes of hard aerobics every day.”

“What!?” The phone distorts into a squeal.

“Not moon walks, either,” I tell her. “You’re going to run in Earth’s gravity. If you miss a day, you’ll have to feel guilty for not doing your part to save yourself. Assuming you’re capable of guilt.”

I silently tell The Ganga to take us back to Earth, ASAP.

“Switch your non-protein calories from mostly carbs to mostly fat,” I say to Vaar. “Coconut oil, olive oil, and cold water fish oil. We want your brain using ketones instead of glucose. Monitor your breath and urine. Stay on the edge of ketosis. Every third day you’re going to cycle in a few carbs to load glycogen back into your muscles. But no simple sugars, no grains, no potatoes.”

Vedanshi puts her thimble on the tip of her right index finger and points up. The pinkish granite flows down until it looks like the finger of a surgical glove with delicate creases at the joints when she flexes.

“What in Indra’s name am I supposed to eat?” Vaar asks.

The Ganga blinks us back into space. I peek down at Japan under woolen clouds, then cock my head to see the Moon and no sign of the ship that lasered us.

“Free-range turkey and chicken, lots of eggs, sardines, wild Alaskan salmon, green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, avocados, pecans, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, plain goat yogurt. On carb days add boiled yams, carrots, quinoa and lots of blueberries. No potatoes, no grains, no pasta, no sucrose, no jams or jelly, no honey, no power bars, no pastries, no ice cream, no cookies, no chips, no fruit juice, and no natural or artificial sweeteners of any kind – ever. Nothing sweeter than blueberries. And don’t even think about soft drinks or booze.”

“Good heavenly days!”

“You got that right.” I’m enjoying this too much. “There’s no way I can tell if you’ve got early Alzheimer’s on top of the wheat encephalopathy, but we have to assume you do. Think of Alzheimer’s as the CNS analogue of Type 2 diabetes. Glucose spikes and insulin are the enemy now. If you cheat, your goons will have to wire your jaws shut.”

“Charming,” she says.

“Lifestyle changes are tough. Dementia sucks your life out. Your choice.”

“Will this madness bring back math and memory?” she asks.

“Guaranteed. Your mood should improve, too. And your judgment, I hope. Right now you’re the front-runner for a Nobel Prize in Stupidity.”

“How you do sugarcoat things.”

“Listen to me, Vaar, you need to think. Physics is the only place where complexity yields to simplicity. Above that – in psychology and everywhere else – complexity is the starting point. Heuristics and rules of thumb can help, but the main principle to keep in mind is the fact that complex problems rarely if ever have simple solutions. War is a complex psychological problem. You think you can change the human genome, delete the sociopaths and walk away with no side effects. That’s genocide. Genetic diversity is Noah’s Arc. What you’re doing will burn it to the rails.”

“I never would have imagined you’d side with the sociopaths,” she says. “Apparently you haven’t been properly raped by them. In the larger view, the spread of narcissism is far worse than human extinction.”

“Everything’s black-and-white to you, Vaar. Like my brother’s genius friends. Test week? Amphetamines. No jobs? Elect Santa. Hurt feelings? Ban nano-aggressions. With no attempt to shovel a glimpse into the ditch of what each one means.”

James chuckles and shakes his head. “Dylan.”

“I’m struggling not to take offense here,” Vaar says.

“Really? You don’t get out much, do you?”

“Well, you’ve seen me. I can’t very well go traipsing around in public.”

“Sure you can. All you need’s a hat. Google ‘hats for big heads.'”

James smirks.

I raise a cautioning finger at him.

Really big heads,” he says and bursts out laughing. Vedanshi hides her face in her hands.

My bad.

“So gluten sensitivity causes dementia,” Vaar says.

“And depression, among other things. Get your blood drawn if you doubt me. But think about it: You’ve got a protruding belly and fairly thin extremities. You’ve got dark rings around your eyes, memory problems, bad posture, adolescent judgment at best.”

“From your perspective.”

“And when I caught your wrist through the cage, your nails turned corpse blue in a few seconds.”

James’ face drops to a grim stare, right through me. Man, I wish he could have seen me keeping my temper with Vaar.

“I hope you’re right about this,” she says.

“Of course I’m right,” I tell her. “It wears me out how right I am. All the time. And people never listen.”

“Well, I wouldn’t…”

“Think of food as medicine,” I tell her. “Take your prescription. I’ll call you in 3 months.”

I start to hang up but there’s this outside chance that someone like her might actually read a book. I’m probably dreaming, but maybe. “Read Grain Brain and google the guy’s video.” I get an image of Vaar’s hands on a keyboard with symbols I don’t recognize. It’s an occipital view from the River. Weird. “Think about the complex side effects of what you’re doing. We’ll talk when your mind is stronger.”

Vedanshi rubs James’ wrists with that melted thimble. Then she goes after his glowing left foot, but it’s not doing anything I can see.

“I don’t believe there’s more to say on the subject,” Vaar tells me. “If you’re right, the sociopaths will destroy us one way or the other. Living in prison isn’t anything I’d consider living.”

“What?”

“The quarantine, dear. Third stone from the sun?”

“What quarantine?”

“You don’t know?” She laughs.

The shovel of a bulldozer zips through The Ganga, moving through all of us at high velocity.

“You see that?” James asks Vedanshi.

She nods, eyebrows up a bit.

Impossible space junk. I didn’t feel a thing, but I can’t imagine being out here in something NASA built. Some lifeless contraption with no phase shifting.

“Interesting,” Vaar says. “You’re always right, but you know nothing of the power structure.”

I look at Vedanshi. She shakes her head slowly.

“What power structure?” I ask.

“You’ve noticed we’re not alone?”

“ET’s, ghosts, or what?” I ask.

“Goodness, am I really to follow a diet prescription from someone as innocent as you?”

“Unless you’re as big a fool as you seem, yes, you will. But who’s quarantining us?”

“You’ve heard of dark matter?”

“Of course.”

“Well, then,” she says. “Five beings have arrived from that realm, it would seem. They consist of minds without physical attributes. The concept of demons is inaccurate, but perhaps not by much. The mythical demon is pure evil, whereas The Five… I haven’t written them all off as yet. One in particular has a redeeming quality. I’ve been told he rules the cosmic thread harboring our supercluster of galaxies. His name is Shiva, most recently Shiva Nataraj.”

“The god of the Hadron Collider?” I look at Vedanshi and sense a swirl in her head.

CERN-SUFI-PORTAL

“Destroyer and transformer,” Vaar says. “It’s a relief to hear you sounding intelligent again.”

“If Shiva has no physical form, how can he quarantine us?” I ask.

“Possession was the model displacing symbiosis. That theory lost traction among reductionists, so out it went. But we all have a fencing match within us, don’t we? Two individuals striving, one for immediate rewards, the other for the long-term view. Why think of it as possession? Shiva’s interaction is an extension of a natural state.”

“Too weird,” James says.

“But I think she’s right,” Vedanshi whispers to him.

“Ninety thousand years ago,” Vaar says, “a rather hulking particle accelerator caught Shiva’s eye. We’d built a doomsday machine, unwittingly. He saw the problem and fixed it from the comfort of a sentient fleet. Quite a sight it was! Needles of zero-point lightning etched the largest canyon in the solar system, Valles Marineris. The asteroid belt was formed from the debris.”

Valles_Marineris_NASA_World_Wind_map_Mars

016vallesmarineris_reduced0.25

Ophir_Chasma_THEMIS_mosaic

That spectacle was mere calibration. Next he aimed his thunderbolts at the linear accelerator itself and vaporized it, raising Olympus Mons from the planes and rendering the planet a wasteland.”

OlyMons

Finally, he left his signature: Orien’s Belt from the distant side…”

Mars

“with Valles Marineris as the sword… on the right, naturally.”

odyssey

“It sounds evil, I know,” Vaar says. “And not particularly artistic, but he prevented us from creating an artificial black hole that would have digested this leg of the galaxy. Such behavior suggests he has an attachment to the Milky Way. Think of it. Our galaxy, less than a speck of dust to him, yet he comes here to rescue us from ourselves. Not as gently as one might have hoped, but it gives the impression that he knows someone here and cares about them. The mythical demon cares only for himself.”

“This guy’s a badass,” James says.

My head is spinning.

Tesla’s words come whizzing past…

“The day science begins to study nonphysical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

I see high-resolution shots of Mars with David Talbott saying the scalloped Martian cliffs are the work of an electric arc – shaped like the needles of an aurora.

aurora_surprise_by_torivarn-d6qsuny

“Why did Shiva quarantine us?” I ask.

“He knows us,” Vaar says. “He understands how narcissism begets cruelty in our DNA. And he happens to command the most formidable fleet of sentient space vehicles anyone can imagine.”

Not good.

“So what happens if someone breaks the quarantine?” I ask.

“One of his ships will tag you. You’ll have six hours to turn yourself in.”

I look at James’ glowing foot. “Is the tag a purple circle?”

“You pretend to be ignorant when you’re not.”

“No.”

“Oh my,” she says. “You’ve been tagged, haven’t you? You must hurry. Go to the rendezvous point at the hexagonal pole of Saturn.”

saturn-nov27

Vedanshi’s cylinder falls out of Maxwell’s limp hand, rolls my direction and bumps against my left thigh. He’s fast asleep.

“What if I run?”

“You mustn’t. They track things nonlocally. There’s literally no place to hide.”

I wonder if The Ganga can make it to Saturn.

“Did you ever get tagged?” I ask Vaar.

“No.”

“Why not? Your ship’s in plain sight.”

“It’s a courtesy, I suppose. I was a person of consequence once.”

M. Talmage Moorehead

Page one of this story starts here.

I just added a chapter on plotting to my free e-book, “Writing Meaningful Page-Turners.” The book is for beginners, but it has a perspective that might interest writers with more experience and talent than I have. It’s brief (~19,000 words). If you’re curious about heresy, download it here.

Please bookmark my blog, tell someone beautiful and intelligent about it and come back to see how Johanna’s doing. I’ll try to finish this story before the aliens land.

Talmage


Finite Multiverse (Chapter 13) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

“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)

multiverse

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.

More gibberish.

“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.

Alarms wail.

“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.

No answer.

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.

“No.”

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.

hqdefault

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.”

bosnian_pyramid_full

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.

To comment, please ignore the boxes that ask for your info. Sorry. I disabled them, but WordPress says I can’t get rid of them. Maybe I’ll go back to the free versions of WordPress that don’t have communication killers. It would save three hundred bucks a year.


Integrity (Chapter 12) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

“It’s harder to imagine the past that went away than it is to imagine the future.” William Gibson

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The phone rings and rings but no one answers.

Maxwell’s jaw is clenched in agony. He shivers on The Ganga’s carpet beside me.

“I think she took them to the Moon,” I tell The Ganga in my head, glad Maxwell can’t hear.

“Why the Moon?” The Ganga asks.

“Images,” I tell her. “Vaar’s hands. Powdery dust at the bottom of a crater.”

“I hope they’re on the Moon,” she says. “There’s no place to hide up there.” 

“I saw machines on the ground,” I tell her. “Some of them looked like UFO’s.”

The granite hall goes black. Stars appear and the Earth shrinks to a ball below us. Above, the moon streaks from left to right, stops, and then comes closer.

“Is that all I am to you?” The Ganga asks. “An unidentified flying object?”

“No, no. I’m sorry, that’s a dumb expression, UFO.” I find myself patting the carpet. “You’re Vedanshi’s dearest friend.” Assuming you have free will – a generous assumption.

“I heard that,” she says. 

Whoa.

“I hear all your thoughts.” She sounds apologetic about it. “Unless you can think without words.”

You know, as much as I appreciate what Steven Hayes is doing for James’ depression, I’d never equate words with thought the way Hayes does. And I don’t share his disdain for thought.

Negative self-talk is another issue. I distrust it. And like Hayes, I keep a skeptical distance from it without trying to shut it down.

Ask Jill Price if it’s possible to shut down negative thoughts. Avoidance makes things stronger.

Jill’s memory is like mine in at least one way. The details of every day stick like glue forever.

But unlike Hayes view of the mind, my thoughts don’t rely on an inner voice. They can sit silently and be stable in that form. I’m a right-hemispheric reader so I don’t need words to think. I don’t even need internal sounds to arrange words. I often treat words as pictures, not as sounds. And I sometimes think in pictures.

But usually I think without pictures or words.

Usually I think without pictures or words.

“You’re conscious of the machine language of neurons, then,” The Ganga says. “I wish I were.”

“It saves time to know your thoughts before they become words.”

Even when I’m writing I don’t need words.

For instance, at the moment I’m creating this sentence for Talmage in a silent, imageless process in my head. It will be permanent.

I wish I knew how it gets from my Universe to his, but it does. There’s something wonderfully weird about the mind. It’s not the “word machine” they call it.

Thought is generated subconsciously in a process involving the part of us that’s beyond time. Each of us is a primary cause when we want to be. Often we don’t. Often we refuse an objective view because it wants us to imagine for a moment that the other side, our enemies, might not be entirely wrong. This is too bad. Without objectivity we can’t access primary cause which is the free will required to think. Instead we allow the professional readers on TV to tell us what we believe and value.

To pursue original thought, I’ve stumbled across the technique of avoiding subvocalization. It’s a lucky thing because now I’ll have some privacy inside The Ganga. That’s huge to me.

Privacy of thought is central to honesty, you know. My Mom said, “You have to be honest with yourself before you approach integrity.”

And you can’t be honest with yourself if someone’s listening to your thoughts – any more than the reality show people can be themselves with video cameras in their bedrooms.

Just listen to Yeonmi Park, a North Korean girl who grew up starving in “the best country in the world.” She thought that Kim Jong Un had supernatural powers and could hear her thoughts.

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The ultimate mind-control tool of North Korea is losing power today because mass starvation expanded their black market. Forbidden knowledge follows secret trade.

In 2011, Yeonmi read Animal Farm by George Orwell. She says, “This book set me free from the emotional dictators in my head.”

So I’m thinking maybe God plugs his ears to give us thought privacy. That way we can be ourselves and use our timeless free will to develop core integrity.

But this notion is difficult for me. My life swims in scientific evidence of the Colossal Intellect behind DNA. It’s hard to imagine that this Being doesn’t hear my thoughts.

In my early teens, the evidence of God lead me to self-censorship because I didn’t want to hurt God’s feelings by asking difficult questions.

But how can you discover false assumptions if you’re afraid to look at them? Like the nature of revelation. And like Neo-Darwinism and materialism. My colleagues don’t question these things for fear of discovering a truth that would destroy their careers.

Hundreds of professional pilots deny and bury UFO sightings for fear of losing their careers.

But I want to face the hard questions: If only Atheists are fully capable of believing that God doesn’t hear their thoughts, doesn’t that make them potentially the most honest and genuine people on Earth? The ones who do what’s right because it is right?

And what would that make Atheists in God’s sight?

When I first read Thomas Nagel, the Atheist philosopher who believes that mind is “a basic aspect of nature” and “the materialist Neo-Darwinian conception of nature is almost certainly false” – his integrity and courage stunned me.

Tears filled my eyes.

Notice what fills Nagel’s eyes…

thomas nagel

He said that Stephen Meyer and other proponents of intelligent design, such as David Berlinski and Michael Behe, “do not deserve the scorn with which they are commonly met.”

Now here’s Stephen Meyer. Notice the defiant integrity in his eyes. 

stephen meyer

These two men have stood against the powerful and dangerous cult of scientific fundamentalism.

Some say that you know you belong to a cult when you announce your departure and old friends suddenly want to destroy you.

The old-guard scientists hurl abuse at Nagel for believing things they can’t discuss in a rigorous, rational way.

Their pseudoscientific cult holds a puritanical grip on frozen myths that ignore the unfolding reality of DNA. It’s like Freud’s “narcissism of small differences” except for the weight of the small.

Nagel taps free will from beyond time to doubt neo-Darwinism and psychophysical reductionism. So the holy brethren of “science” proclaim him demented. No need to take him seriously now. Forget that he was a living legend before he strayed from the narrow path of allowed thinking. 

Now he’s an infidel.

The mainstream squelches dissent as fanatically and ruthlessly as the Puritan fundamentalists of the 1630’s: Sacred dogma is not to be doubted or questioned.

Meanwhile, the God I see in DNA looks on his Atheist child, Thomas Nagel and glows with pride. This brave man is God’s kindred spirit in integrity.

Like the Atheist, God doesn’t believe in a more powerful being who monitors his inner thoughts. God doesn’t do what’s right in hopes of an eternal reward or in fear of Hell.

The Code Writer doesn’t love mercy in response to a command. It’s written in his heart.

It’s written in the four-dimensional intricacy of the DNA symphony, on the conductor’s score.

The sun is harsh on a small part of the moon’s blind side. It leaves black shadows on the near sides of craters.

We’re a mile or two above the lunar surface, but astronauts say that distances, among other things, deceive people up here.

The Ganga gains speed, making the ground a desolate blur that brings a longing for a round, perfectly flawed place out beyond the horizon. 

Scientists-Measure-the-Deformation-of-the-Moon-Due-to-Earths-Gravity

Perfectionism is an asymmetry overlooked by perfectionists.

The Ganga stops. “Down there,” she says.

We’re hovering over a crater that would be at the bottom of the moon if you were looking up from home. Vaar’s cigar-shaped craft sits in the ultra-fine dust beside three small metallic spheres. 

This isn’t the crater I saw in vision. “Be careful,” I warn The Ganga.

Maxwell opens his eyes and lifts his stoic head. “What the?”

“We’re on the moon,” I tell him.

He swallows and looks up at the Earth with hollow acceptance. “We’ve got enough air for this?”

“Not a problem,” The Ganga tells me.

I nod to Maxwell. “The Ganga says we’re good.”

The sphere nearest us vibrates, giving off an energy pulse that feels like a 24-inch kick drum in a rap song coming through 15-inch speakers.

I feel it in my chest, but I don’t hear it.

The Ganga takes us closer.

The spheres are golden with indistinct edges. As we descend, the rock walls of the crater surround us in a fuzzy tan. It’s like my eyes are vibrating. I can’t focus on anything, not even my hands. A blind vignette takes away my peripheral vision, and curling stars warn me of an impending blackout.

“Get us out of here!” I shout as my awareness blinks.

Somehow I’m on a cold floor with handcuffs on my wrists and ankles. It’s as if no time has elapsed.

Maxwell is unconscious beside me, also in cuffs. We’re inside a metallic cage about twelve feet cubed. It smells like an antique shop.

Across the room on the gray metallic floor sits a dark blue UFO. It must be The Ganga. The color is off, but the shape is perfect.

A tall thin woman stands beside The Ganga with her back to us and a green skullcap covering the top of her long head. She holds a pistol-shaped device with a needle in front, and jabs The Ganga with short quick thrusts like she’s doing a fine needle aspiration.

We must be in a back room of her ship. The lateral walls are gunmetal gray with rows of hand-sized rivets running horizontally, matching the walls I saw when Vedanshi took us into the front section of this craft. The walls bulge out on the sides and arc together at the top, giving the room a cylindrical shape.

“I’m disappointed in you,” I say to the woman. 

“I can’t get a sample of your vehicle,” she says with her back to me. “What in the world is this material?” She presses an elbow into The Ganga’s hull leaving a temporary indentation. “My needle passes through it with no resistance.”

It’s Vaar’s voice.

She’s not familiar with phase shifting, it seems. But if that’s true, how did she get us out of The Ganga?

“Where’s my brother?” I ask.

She turns and glances in my direction, but not at me. I follow her eyes, and there on his back in a dentist’s chair, partly hidden by ivy vines dangling from the ceiling, is James with his eyes shut and his mouth open.

My heart stops until I see his chest rise, then adrenalin rushes through me. Rage is coming. I’ve got to keep my head.

Breathe.

There’s a pillar blocking my view, but I bounce to my knees in the light gravity and move to the corner of the cage for a better look. Vedanshi is there in a small cage, silver tape over her mouth.

I glare at Vaar. “What have you done to James?”

“Almost nothing,” she says, holding the needle gun beside her left hip. “But you’re going to hear me out, dear. Like it or not.”

“Take the tape off Vedanshi’s mouth,” I tell her. “If you hurt James, I’ll probably kill you. It’s not that I want to. I value your genetic diversity. But when I get angry, I’m dangerous. Neither of us wants that.”

She smirks and laughs. It’s the laugh I hate. The sound of the thought police dismissing the implications of DNA. The sound of a rapist chuckling when you don’t resist.

“I meant it when I accepted your terms,” Vaar says, staring at me. “Until I thought it through. My mind is going and I need your help. No one alive has your capacity for coding.”

She sets the needle gun on The Ganga, walks over to Vedanshi’s cage, reaches in and pulls the tape from Vedanshi’s mouth. “No more screaming,” Vaar says to her.

Vedanshi looks through the hanging ivy at me. “I’m sorry, Johanna. I shouldn’t have…”

“Don’t give her any info,” I tell her.

Vedanshi presses her lips together and changes what she’s saying. “Be careful. I think she broke my arm.”

Vaar walks back to my cage. “I came to my senses after you’d gone. My project is more important than I am. Without your help it’s over. But you won’t help me unless I abandon my mission.”

“Just to clear things up, causing autism in hopes of exploring sociopathy is an immoral dead-end. Does your mission really have anything to do with that?”

“Yes,” she says. “It’s a tough piece, I know. But my broader focus is eugenics. I believe it’s possible to elevate humanity from the warrior mentality.” She lowers her chin, angling the back of her head high above her eyes. “The trouble is, I can’t juggle the code anymore. I’m drowning in variables, millions of them, each in a loop. Every loop lies in a delicate time envelope that requires optimal placement in a chromosome.”

I have to admit, the technical aspect sounds fascinating. But I’m not tempted.

“I’d like to re-introduce several genes from my own race, as well,” she says. “We were magnificent, Johanna.” She turns to the portrait of a young man on the wall above a desk in a corner of the room. He has an elongate head and deep-set eyes like hers. “If it hadn’t been for that religion constantly hobbling us, my people would have survived the pinch points of history.”

I adjust my feet to relieve the pressure of the cuffs on my ankles. “If it were remotely desirable to do what you propose, how would you transfer your code to the population? Breed a master race and kill the Jews to get everyone’s attention?”

“Our willingness to kill each other is the problem,” she says. “I want to eliminate it. Peacefully, with an autosomal dominant trait. I’d start with the sperm banks and confer reproductive advantages to the offspring. We could transform the entire population in a thousand years.”

“By killing genetic diversity,” I say. “That’s genocide for all humanity.” 

“No. I’m introducing additional genes. Increasing diversity.”

“Your ‘superior’ genes are designed to crowd out the native code. You’d have to be a moron to think that’s increasing diversity.”

Her face is blank.

“If genetic diversity means nothing to you,” I say, “why not develop a human pesticide that only your master race can tolerate? And join Frameshift. You’d fit right in. Their legal team could patent your code and you’d own everybody’s DNA. You could bill people for the privilege of bearing children with your genes.”

“Sarcasm.” She shakes her head and walks over to The Ganga, picks up her needle gun for a moment then sets it back down. “We must come to an agreement.”

“You don’t believe in God, do you?” I ask.

“Heavens, no,” she says, making a face.

“Then how do you account for the complexity of DNA?”

“Intelligent design, of course,” she says. “But I don’t consider the designer to be God.”

“Surely you realize the original DNA code must have been written outside of time.”

She nods.

“I’d bet you believe in free will, too, then?”

“Yes,” she says.

“But you have no theory as to how DNA creates a brain to extract primary causes from beyond time.”

“No.” Her eyes grow curious.

Vedanshi’s voice echoes from across the room. “God gives us each a paint brush. We sit beside him on a canvas beyond the event horizon of the Universe.”

“If I had the technology,” Vaar says, “I could travel outside of time and devise a means of injecting an ongoing primary cause into the minds of the beings I would design to live within time.”

Words flash from a childhood Sabbath School book…

“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

I glance at the only person I’ve met who believes she’s spoken face to face with God. Vedanshi should be saying this to Vaar, but it’s only me. “You think if you were like God, you’d be God. Rookie mistake, Vaar. Integrity isn’t technology.”

“You won’t help me, then. That’s what you’re saying.”

“Our species is doomed if we eliminate genetic diversity,” I tell her. “It doesn’t matter how we do it.”

Vedanshi speaks up. “The historical pinch points you say your people didn’t survive – only a few outliers ever make it through the apocalypses. When it’s a global famine, only the very chubbiest people survive to keep our species alive. When it’s a series of meteor strikes, only those in submersible vessels survive. Along with the occasional astronaut… like you.”

“Really, now?” Vaar draws a forceful breath. “A young girl lectures me on holocaust survival?”

Maxwell opens his eyes and blinks.

“At the dawn of recorded history,” Vaar says, “I built the civilization you call Atlantis, and survived the comet strike that shifted Earth’s crust and turned Atlantis into Antarctica. I invented suspended animation and tested it through the supervolcanoes at the close of the second era.”

“I’m talking about genetic diversity,” I remind her. “An entire species, not an individual… no matter how glorious she is in her own eyes.”

Maxwell moans. I kneel beside him and stroke his forehead with my knuckles. “Lie still, Max.”

“I came out of hibernation,” Vaar says, “in the first part of the fourth era. I made myself wealthy through hard work, and bought this ship. A lightning strike at the wrong moment brought me into this corrupt era. Your people are so full of myopic denial, they actually think this is the first era.” She laughs. “Your records are worthless, but they make it clear that I know volumes more about the genetics of survival than any of you. But…” She turns her palms up and softens her voice to me. “Surely you realize this, dear?”

“Maybe I do, but it’s irrelevant,” I tell her. “My point is about survival through genetic diversity. You don’t respect the natural genomes because you don’t believe the original code writer was God. It’s as simple as that. To you, God is just an ordinary techie with better tools.” I bounce from my knees to my feet. “You started a religion on Atlantis, didn’t you?”

She looks surprised but says nothing.

“If I were going to start a religion,” I tell her, “there wouldn’t be any infallible books or prophets involved. Every person and every recorded source of information and opinion, young or old, would be heard, valued and weighed for wisdom. That would include science journals from every era. There’d be one absolute – God himself. The only infallible writing would be his original DNA code. Throughout Earth. All species. We’d study our DNA to figure out what parts of it are original and what parts have been ruined by people like you, or altered by pinch points, mutations, selective breeding, ‘natural’ selection, and epigenetic adaptation.”

Maxwell sits up. “Why is everything spinning?” He reaches for the metal grid of the cage, pokes his fingers through and shakes the structure.

“Shhhh,” I tell him. “You’re dizzy. We’re in Vaar’s ship.”

“You know nothing about religion,” Vaar says to me. “It requires daily rituals and subjective rewards. The rationality of science kills faith.”

“I’m wondering if the people of Atlantis refused to worship you. Rational evidence is the only basis for faith that survives the relentless march of truth.”

She gives me a look of disdain. “It’s a good thing James’ beacon started working. I might never have found him standing with his girlfriend on a rock in the Pacific Ocean. What an odd place to hide him.” She walks over to James, lifts his right wrist and lets it fall to his lap. “There was a residue on the cuffs.” She turns a blank gaze my direction. “I’m certain you won’t force me to torture your brother.”

M. Talmage Moorehead

If you’d like to start this thing on page one and read it in order, it’s here as a “one page” scrolling document.

I’m planning to move my thoughts about writing over to my “readers group.” Notice I didn’t say, “email list.” Those words supposedly drive people away, though they mean exactly the same thing as “readers group.” Who knew? Instead of “sign up for my boring newsletter or my email list,” we’re supposed to say something like, “join my readers group,” or better yet, “go here to gain access to the private library on my web site.” Maybe I’ll be able to say that eventually. I’m working on a web site these days. But don’t hold your breath. I’m slower than winter.

Anyway, you can join my “readers group” here and download my thrill-a-minute (not) e-book, “Writing Meaningful Page-turners.” I used to think it was OK, but that was before I ran into The Story Grid, by Shawn Coyne, which is a thousand times better in every way. I bought a copy, but I heard that you can read it for free on his website, one post at a time. He’s constantly delivering amazing new content there, currently on writing nonfiction in a way that incorporates the elements of storytelling – as only Mr. Coyne is able to delineate. (I’m not profiting from this recommendation, by the way… other than helping you with your writing, which is worth everything to me.) The Story Grid is the most transforming book I’ve come across in reading roughly 60 books on fiction writing over the past, I don’t know, 25 years or so.

If you know someone young and beautiful who likes in-progress science fiction stories about intelligent design, set in the present and delivered from a parallel universe by a preachy genius Hapa Girl, please email my URL to your friend: http://www.storiform.com. Warn her/him that the story has UFO’s. UFO’s ruin stories for a lot of people. So I’ve read.

Joanna Penn couldn’t possibly have had me in mind when she wrote this… 

“One of the biggest lessons learned is that actually writing more books makes you a better writer. Obsessing over rewriting the same book for years won’t get you anywhere. This is tough, especially if you have perfectionist tendencies!” Joanna Penn

Thank you, Joanna. You have wisdom beyond your years. And all of us appreciate your integrity more than you know.

Blueberries, 90% chocolate, cardio on the treadmill, swimming, grape seed extract, speed reading software, the list goes on… Here’s a video on hatching new neurons in adulthood through exercise. Here’s another video about a rat model showing that learning preserves the new neurons that spring up in the hipocampus of adult rodents. It’s good science. Some researchers say that the things which preserve these new neurons in adults also fight depression. That’s a big deal for writers, musicians and all creative people because as a group we tend to become depressed somewhere along the course of our lives. I think it’s an epidemic, really, at least at Harvard.

Hey, stay happy you guys!

Talmage


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 Maxwell’s 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


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.”

Mount-Shoria-2

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-sabotage.”

“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. Researchers estimate that 13 million adults have had near-death experiences 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 then raises them like wings. “Now, if you’ve got any numbers, let the code lie there. Don’t try to sort it or understand it. It must understand you.”

As I stare at golden zeros and ones, they change from Arabic numerals to symbols I haven’t seen as numbers. The ones look like vertical shepherd’s crooks and the zeros are 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 right middle finger. I hear her voice saying she doesn’t intend to do what I told her. She’s calling someone on a phone. A large crater appears, full of huge machines. Two 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 my outlines), avoiding boring chapters, and 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 mine. 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 struggle to do after writing a chapter, but wouldn’t attempt 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 to be true. The outline was 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. I wish I knew the guy.

The above story starts here.

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

Please email my URL: http://www.storiform.com to your favorite aunt or uncle.

Thanks for everything! Keep writing. You were intelligently designed for it.

Talmage