Antarctica’s Pyramid

Today, the impossible happened. My short story is in “print” on Amazon. Here’s a (free) link: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/ykr1kg8ifs.

I started writing Antarctica’s Pyramid for you a few months ago, and before I finished, along came a wonderful person from Australia with an open invitation to writers (in a Facebook group) to join her in a collection of short Utopian stories to be sold on Amazon. I added my story to the list, and bam, two writers panned it.

One of them wanted me to retract it from the anthology. He said that writing short stories is “very difficult.”

I couldn’t argue, so I retracted it. It’s an old pattern in my life. If someone doesn’t want me around, I leave.

But after I left, the woman in charge of the anthology said I should stay. Three other writers agreed with her.

So I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done before in my life. I re-joined a group that I’d quit.

It felt weirdly empowering.

Maybe I should have tried this when I was 13 and quit my little rock band, Friction, so the local church would let me into their private school.

Naah. Religious fundamentalism, imperfect as I suspect it is, miraculously freed me from my childhood habit of lying. My sense of self-respect improved dramatically after that. For me, discovering the inherent value of always telling the truth has been one of life’s more valuable lessons.

No matter what intellectual doubts and misgivings I now have for both religious and scientific fundamentalism (especially the latter), I have to thank them both for teaching me some decidedly valuable habits, concepts and life lessons.

It’s too bad no one seems to teach rational, intuitive morality without an “infallible” underpinning, such as an ancient book, a set of “science-settling” journal articles or a personal claim of infallible authority. It’s not that I don’t see the huge value of teaching human morality from any and every possible perspective, it’s just that if and when the “infallible” rug is pulled out from under most or all of these moral (or amoral) paradigms, I fear that humanity will be left with the typical moral and behavioral fall that often accompanies the loss of a fundamentalist worldview. As in, “pastor’s kids are the worst” when they lose their faith.

I guess what I’m trying to do, actually, is to discover and promote what’s known to be morally right without pretending I’m infallible or that I’ve received a message from Someone who is.

Though, as a scientist, I firmly believe that there is an intelligent source of the original information contained in Earth’s DNA codes. And if a Mind can understand genetic code, He/She/It can easily understand any human language. So talking to a Higher Power as if to a friend makes total sense to me and I do it a lot, not expecting special treatment or anything that would interfere with my free will or anyone else’s.

But whatever, right? Nobody wants to be preached at. Myself included.

So today’s miracle, as far as I’m concerned is this: The anthology, Utopia Pending, containing Antarctica’s Pyramid, my longish (15,928 word) short story, is now for sale on Amazon. “But wait, don’t buy it!”

Since you’ve been encouraging me with “likes” and kind comments all these years, I thought you might want to read the whole Anthology without having to pay for it. (The software does ask you for an email address, but as always, I encourage you to unsubscribe after the download unless you’re sure you want to be on another mailing list.)

Here’s the (free) link again: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/ykr1kg8ifs.

If you want to read it but don’t want to give away your email address, drop me a note at cytopathology@gmail.com and I’ll get the whole anthology to you another way. No sweat.

Here’s a blurb about my story, Antarctica’s Pyramid

After 21 years of secretly exploring and raiding an ancient Antarctic pyramid under orders from the rogue elements of the NSA and US Navy, Tom, the Commander of a tiny undisclosed base located a mile above the iced-cover pyramid, meets a covertly ranked special agent sent, to his surprise, by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. Tom begins to learn just how special this agent is as he finds himself scheming to extract what’s left of his life from the NSA. In a nail-biting weave of danger, conspiracy, and ancient wisdom from within the huge pyramid, Tom and the agent must somehow escape the clutches of the primeval builders as well as the modern Cabal. But if they do somehow succeed, where could they possibly go to hide from the global tyrants of 2018?

OK, now that I’ve tried to talk it up, I feel like I’ve done something wrong. Sheesh, the guilt baggage some of us carry, right? It’s nuts!

At any rate, the other stories are definitely fun and interesting. There’s probably something for everyone’s taste.

Feel free to download the e-book and see which stories you enjoy most.

Use the above link to get the whole thing for free, but here’s the Amazon link if you want to leave a comment or something.

By the way, if you do make a comment on Amazon, it totally encourages their AI to promote the book by putting it in front of other readers. So, thank you very much if you have time to leave a comment / rating on Amazon.

Take care and have an extremely Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and every other conceivable form of seasonal joy and happiness!

Your pal (baggage and all – haha),

Talmage


My Gray Alien

“Disgusting!” it said. “I don’t care much for cultured cheese. Have you got any white trash?”

“That’s racist,” I said, cringing. “You claim you’re mechanical? Prove it.”

It nodded sincerely. “Brains and all.” A narrow tongue came out to test a pea, encircled it and drew it into its mouth. “Gross!” Two spindly hands came up and pushed the plate of peas aside. One pea came out of its mouth under pressure and flew across the room, striking Halo, my black Labrador Retriever, in the left eye.

Her eyebrows drew in, then up, questioning our motives.

“Sorry, sweetheart,” I said, hoping her eye wouldn’t swell shut. I knelt beside her to inspect things, but all was right once she realized the bullet was edible. Her beaverish tail toppled the milk cartons on the kitchen trashcan as her backend sidestepped to the refrigerator and beat a runic canter – whap, whap, whap.

I loved that happy sound, but my thin guest had won Halo’s heart in under a minute with a single pea. It was unsettling.

“Everything you’ve given me tastes like weed killer,” it said and tossed an arc of peas at Halo’s nose, one after another, spaced an inch apart.

“Proof enough,” I said coveting its dexterity and quickness.

If Halo had held position, the peas would have landed on her nasal septum, but she lurched after the first few and the others beat a cadence on the milk cartons and floor.

Glyphosate,” I said to explain the peas’ flavor, hoping not to prompt a round of whining about herbicides, carbon dioxide, and the rainforests. One grows weary, and if this gray non-alien joined the chorus, I was prepared to shoot myself. “I like the way a tablespoon of Roundup subtilizes the bouquet,” I said, winking at my gourd-headed guest. “Millions would starve without this fine chemical and the GMOs that suck it up.”

“I’ll join the starving,” it said, exposing the empty plate to Halo’s tongue. “What’s the year?”

“2017.” I glanced at my watch to avoid error.

This morning when I met my guest, I was minding my own business, stepping out of the shower.

There it stood beside my slippers without a stitch of clothing and no detectable genitals. Just great, an alien finally shows up and it’s a clichéd Gray! But the little thing claimed to be from the future. Earth’s future.

“Why don’t you have any genitals?” I asked, going straight to the philosophical.

“Gender Wars. Both sides wanted a truce, but neither could stand the sight of the other.”

“I see,” I said, though I didn’t. “The whole cache of humanity opted for test-tube progeny?”

“Quite.” The creature looked at my shower curtain with thinly veiled disdain, its non-nostrils sniffing and flaring.

“None of the concupiscence of lessor times, then,” I said, as a song came to mind…

No balls at all, no balls at all.

Married a man with no balls at all.

I hoped the little thing wasn’t telepathic.

“None.” It cocked its head thoughtfully. “The horizontal deed became loathsome and abhorrent.”

“So you say.”

Just this morning I had believed its every word, but now I was seasoned and more inclined to press for truth. Can you imagine humans abolishing copulation? Ridiculous claims demand preposterous proofs, as the astronomers say.

“So humans will rid themselves of gender. Interesting. But if so, would I be far afield in assuming that these brilliant and technical humans of Tomorrowland seldom poop?”

“The seldomest.”

“As in, absolutely never?” I was relentless, leaving no wiggle room for unwarranted bathroom confrontations should the creature’s visit become protracted.

“‘Never’ would imply the seldomest,” it said. “Unless I’m mistaken.”

“Would you care for a wing of the bird?” I asked, pawing at the refrigerator with my back to the slightly gray non-alien. “It’s chicken, loosely speaking.”

“Oh, no, no, no, no, no.” It gagged as if ready to hurl on Halo’s floor. Nothing came up, though. “Two thousand seventeen? Are we sure?”

I am.” I re-checked my watch. “Yes. 2017.”

“I should have studied history,” it said. “I never imagined cannibalism in this era.”

“It’s not human chicken, for heaven’s sake. It’s scarcely avian.” I searched the box for ingredients but found none.

The self-proclaimed human closed its eyes and bowed its head. “This is why we became mechanical.”

“What is?”

“What is ‘what is’?”

“I’m asking why the human race became mechanical.”

“Oh.” It had no eyebrows but seemed to raise one at me nonetheless. “The more our technology compared animals to humans, the more blurred the distinction became. Self-awareness, free will, zero-field soul, continuity of identity, participation in the One, etcetera, etcetera.”

“Thanks for that last couplet. If you’d included ‘enlightenment’ I might have stuffed my head down the garbage mill and flipped the switch.” I glanced at the sink.

It ignored me. “The deeper we explored, the more identical our signatures appeared, until we realized we were basically indistinguishable from the rest. Hence the need for a vegan diet.”

“Indistinguishable, really?”

It nodded. “Qualitatively, but objectively.”

“You might have a go at an avocado, then,” I suggested.

“It all started with vitamin B12,” it said as if confiding a deep regret. “A touch of genetic tinkering to sidestep megaloblastic anemia on a vegan diet. Our motives were pure as the solar silk.”

“I didn’t know the sun had…”

“Then the lac operon. A perfectly simple patch to bring humanity into line. No more cow’s milk for adults.”

“I see. Couldn’t they have more easily declared cow’s milk sacred?” I suspected India’s ancient “aliens” of similar mischief.

It shook its head dismissively. “Altering the lactate genes opened Pandora and the pursuit of a moral utopia smothered genetic diversity.”

Verbose little thing. “Moral utopia?” Again, I thought of Disneyland.

With refrigerator doors open and my hunting instincts engaged, I found an avocado and thrust it behind me in the direction of my guest, then bent at the hips for a glimpse of the bottom shelf. Halo appeared beside me, her head millimeters from mine, her tongue lapping the bottom shelf. The cooling motor came on and startled her. She flinched and bumped her nose on the shelf above but kept licking.

“I can’t promise this is non-GMO,” I confessed without looking, “but a dash of soy sauce hides the three woes.” I waved the expensive fruit blindly behind me and felt the smooth skin of its fingers touch mine as it accepted the offering.

“I’ve read about these,” it said. “Never dreamed I’d see one.”

“I’d rather see than be one,” I said, mainly for Halo’s edification.

Our guest laughed.

I stood and turned.

“That’s a reference to the purple cow!” it said and laughed loud and long.

Though nothing was funny, I laughed along with it, unable to abstain.

It gained composure before I did and took a bite of the avocado, peels and all. Then swallowed without chewing.

Suddenly I knew it was human. Just as human as Halo and me. Well, not Halo, I suppose. But our unlikely guest was not a machine at heart, and now I’d found a way of knowing such things with certainty. A breakthrough!

“OK, then,” I said, feeling ready. “What’s the message?”

“Come again?”

“Clearly I’m the chosen one. Selected to deliver an urgent message to humanity. Let’s have it with haste, I don’t care how trite it sounds.”

The genderless gray picked up a pea that Halo had missed, hardly bending its knees in the process, its hands so close to the floor. “No offense, but I didn’t come to see you, Sir. I’ve come to witness a dog. Since extinction, they’ve become legend. Entire planets devoted to their memory – cults arising in youth sectors.”

“Oh.” My ego felt like a balloon propelled by escaping gas in a brief arc to the floor.

The creature gave the pea to Halo and tried to make kissing sounds the way I do, but with no lips it was futile. “If you want to deliver a message, though, I suppose…”

“Yes, yes?” Perhaps some glory for me after all.

“Tell humanity they’re depleting the most precious and rare resource in the Universe: the sacred ones and zeros.”

“Fabulous! I’ll spread the message far and…” But wait. “Ones and zeros can’t be depleted. How could they be sacred?”

The tiny human looked into Halo’s eyes as if I weren’t part of the real conversation. “You’ll figure it out,” it said. “Just make sure it’s something that can compete with digital devices. Something fun. Shame won’t free the digitally captured soul.”

Digitally what? I caught my reflection in the window above the sink. “Should I grow my hair out?” Maybe a ponytail. No. “What about a pompadour – like five inches tall with hairspray?”

…End of transmission…

M. Talmage Moorehead

On a more serious note, the spellbinding painting above is an oil by Spira of Greece. It’s entitled, “From Stardust” and comes to us on wood. Below is a closeup detail of the same piece. Thank you, Spira for allowing me to show this on my blog.

Please click over and meditate on this mesmerizing work, and maybe do some slow breathing to wake up the prefrontal cortex: SPIRA Soul Creations.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The peaks in the Tsiolkovskiy Crater come to mind…

M198059280LR_thumb

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

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

CalarAlto_Jupiter1994comet

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

I nod. Quite a coincidence that bit of data.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak.

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

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

I wish I could eat your cancer…

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

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

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

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

“Frankly, I’m not sure we did.”

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

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

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

“Physicists readily admit that,” I say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What are they afraid of?” she asks.

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

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

“The Bible’s too racy?” I ask.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The creatures sped back and forth like flashes of lightning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2

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

DSC00673 (1024x779)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSC00672 (1024x768)

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

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

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

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

“At the apex of a pyramid.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Yeah, I’m nineteen.”

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

1

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

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

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

“Egyptian fast food zombie apocalypse?” I ask.

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

M. Talmage Moorehead

Chapter 0 starts here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://greenleafliteraryservices.com/

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal note to fiction writers…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep writing and be happy! Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Talmage


River of Consciousness (Chapter 4) “Hapa Girl DNA”

I’m shivering inside a UFO.

The ceiling slopes down like a Chinese rice hat to the floor. A red band encircles the room where the ceiling meets the deck. The three of us look awkward – Maxwell, me and the girl who could almost be Mahani Teave.

I missed her name when she said it.

I see codes of consciousness when I blink. Ones and zeros.

I know them as doubly-even self-dual linear binary error-correcting block codes.

They were discovered by a theoretical physicist: S. James Gates, Jr., Ph.D.

S. JAMES GATES JR.

This is my favorite picture of him: The founding father and pilgrim of string theory’s DNA. History will place him beside Einstein if rational minds prevail.

Biological DNA also has error correction: A higher mind showing cells how to build nanotech machines to fix DNA screwups. Things like replication errors and the mutations we worshiped in undergrad bio.

But the “illusion of consciousness” is the delusion of flatlanders. Conscious awareness is central to digital physics and independently real.

We are not alone.

We’re side by side on a soft Indian rug. The girl’s legs are crossed yoga style now with the tops of her toes flat against the opposite thighs.

“I didn’t hear your name,” I confess to her.

“I am Vedanshi,” she says, beaming. “The Role of the Sacred Knowledge.” Her expression reminds me of Luciano Pavarotti after an aria.

pavarotti

I was twelve when God’s angel died. I will always love him.

Maxwell’s face is blank. He risked everything for me.

“You both saved my life,” I tell them and lean against Maxwell’s wet shoulder. “Thank you.”

Even if leukemia has its way now.

“Cloaking,” Vedanshi whispers, and the red band fades from around us, the walls vanish, and we’re floating on a rug twenty feet above the ocean.

I see my boots on the jetty next to Maxwell’s jacket. I should feel the sea air, but I don’t. The ocean butts the jetty and climbs its rough boulders, but I can’t hear it.

“I need a mirror,” Maxwell mumbles.

“No you don’t. You look marvelous.” I fake an Italian accent, “Shake your hair, darling… such as it is.”

His eyebrows may have moved. I’m not sure.

“Don’t panic,” I tell him. “All your great pianists fly UFO’s.”

Vedanshi grins and the sun breaks. An orange bead on a hilltop.

Maxwell’s vacant eyes find me. He says nothing.

“I heard the phone call,” Vedanshi says. “I know what the old woman is doing.”

“Purchasing my soul?” I suggest.

Vedanshi nods. “Let’s get your things.”

The Jetty is beneath us but I didn’t feel us move. My boots are inches from my feet. I lean forward and reach but my knuckles hit an invisible deck.

“Sorry,” Vedanshi says crinkling her nose. “Try again.”

I reach down and pick up Ojiichan’s chopsticks, grab my boots, then get Maxwell’s jacket and lay it in midair beside his wet legs that stick out past the edge of the carpet and rest on nothing. A little reluctantly, I snag his ugly climbing shoes, bring them in and smell the rubber.

He watches from a trance.

“Snap out of it,” I tell him. “You seem shroomed.”

“It’s a psychotic break,” he mumbles.

“You haven’t turned idiot,” Vedanshi assures him. “There’s a small mirror I can loan you, but I want it back.” She reaches into the side pocket of the purple robe she gave me, pulls out a square purse, opens it and extracts a round mirror the size of a silver dollar. On the back is an engraving of a woman’s face. Lazar quality. She’s wearing a crown and triangular earrings that float beside her earlobes.

Vivid dreamers know how mirror images lag in dreamland. Maxwell is probably a gifted dreamer and wants to test the reality of this place. I can’t blame him. It’s weird.

In the past I’ve tested with mirrors, but I’ve found they’re harder to track down than bathrooms – in dreams, I mean.

Rule of thumb: If there’s a mirror, you’re not dreaming. You’re totally sitting in a classroom naked.

“We should leave,” Vedanshi says. “She’s coming. I don’t want her to discover me.”

With the sun up, Vedanshi’s white blouse is orange and short. It leaves an inch of skin above tiny-waisted harem pants. She either works out or never eats… or has issues with her thyroid.

“You two may want to close your eyes,” she says as the Jetty drops and the mouth of the Columbia River shrinks into a falling coastline.

The horizon rounds down and the Earth becomes smooth and blue to white on the sun’s side.

There was no lurch of engines, no whiplash, not even a hiss of wind.

I glance at the sun and get dots following my eyes. Canada is endless. The overhead is black and radiant with stars. The swath of glowing velvet is an edge-on look across a spiral galaxy.

This is the “near space” I’ve read about, but it feels nearer to Heaven. I’m overcome with affection for our magnificent little round home. She’s cute, miraculously great but humble. Wise and still innocent.

This is warmth I’d never imagined.

I grip it the way James’ therapist says – holding bliss in a 30-second headlock to myelinate the neurons of joy.

Listen now. Happiness is a skill, like training your fingers to do three-against-four on Chopin’s Fantasy Impromptu in C# minor. Or figuring out how to sing with vibrato as a child, then spending the rest of your life trying to forget.

Craning at the most numerous Seven Sisters in captivity, I lose my balance and grab the front of the carpet to avoid Revelation’s fall from Heaven to Earth.

M45, the Pleiades Cluster (92mm 5DII)

“My ship believes she’s twelve thousand years old,” Vedanshi says. “Her name is The Ganga.” Vedanshi looks at the rug and seems to talk to it. “Anyone can speculate about axial precession.”

Maxwell touches the mirror’s edges only, holding them with thumb and finger. He seems dissociative the way he’s checked out.

“So you’re from Earth?” I ask Vedanshi.

“Of course.”

“Well, you never know. You crashed the party in a UFO.”

“Yes,” she says, but shakes her head, no. “I’ve seen UFO’s on your internet but I don’t know if they’re real. We didn’t have them in my day, and I was never old enough for the talk.” She taps her knees to put quotation marks around, “the talk.”

“What’s ‘the talk’?”

Her brow furrows at Maxwell spinning her mirror, but she lets it go. “In my day, when you turned 18 you got ‘the talk’ from your parents. It was about free will – or so they said. But I could tell there was more. When I was in pyramid triage for the river – a test to identify pilots – I made friends with a girl whose big sister got ‘the talk’ and then started whispering to shooting stars. She wasn’t loopy before that, supposedly.”

Below us to the south, bright sheets of white flash over Mexico and red sprites blink over the clouds.

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“What would make anyone whisper to a meteor?” I ask.

“Aliens?” Vedanshi shrugs. “We heard strange voices in the river before the asteroids hit. I still wonder if they were real – you know – literal words that The Ganga somehow couldn’t interpret. It’s doubtful. Her linguistics are advanced. But why would anyone subvocalize nonsense in the river?”

 Glossolalia, I don’t know. I look at Maxwell. “This is no ordinary UFO!”

No response.

Vedanshi nods solemnly. “The Ganga taught me English – which didn’t exist for us four months ago.”

Maxwell is mouth breathing. That’s the last straw. I lean over and kiss the side of his face. It’s salty. “Buck up, soldier. You’re making me worry.”

“Sorry,” he says and shakes the cobwebs.

That was the first time I’ve kissed a guy. True, I was raped once, but no kissing. I was eleven.

“You’re from Earth,” I remind Vedanshi. “So where did you get this thinking machine?”

“They did it on purpose,” she says, then draws an expansive breath. “I should back up. The very oldest ships had accidents. Their non-locality buffers got out of sync with the gravity lifts sometimes. So for an instant you had movement during the nonlocal swap.”

I nod.

Maxwell leans back on his hands. “You lost me.”

“Anything using quantum non-locality has to be nailed down,” she says. “So it’s motionless to the buffers. But the primitive ships shifted structurally – at nearly the speed of light if it happened with the horizons burning.” She searches Maxwell’s face. “Nonlocal point swapping horizons?”

He squints. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“High subluminal velocities turn nanoseconds into thousands of years,” she explains.

“It’s special relativity’s version of stasis,” I tell him. “Slows your clock.”

Maxwell smirks.

“You’re never heard from again,” Vedanshi says. “Unless you’re lucky enough to wind up in this post-cataclysmic dystopia.” She looks down at the Earth with a half-smile. “The old woman came from the first part of my era, I think. I finally saw her vehicle. It’s phallic, which is retro. And it has to be early because every thought gets out.”

“Every thought? What do you mean?” I ask.

“The river?” Vedanshi asks me back.

Maxwell and I shake our heads. I hate to admit when I’m lost.

“The fundamental unit of reality is consciousness,” she says, “not matter, energy or space. They’re derivative. Pilots use the river of consciousness to communicate with ships and other pilots. I don’t know why we call it a river, it’s more like a sea, or the pixels of an infinite hologram.”

“Now that I can understand,” I tell her.

“In the earliest vessels privacy filters didn’t exist. The old woman’s ship must be dangerously ancient because I hear every word she thinks. I’ve even seen a few cortical images from her occipital lobes.”

I feel my heart racing. This is the mother lode everyone dreams of. I wish I had longer to live.

“A few months ago,” Vedanshi says, “I heard the woman thinking about a young geneticist who manipulates terabytes of base-pair language in her head with no implants. Totally impossible. My mother’s best women with cortical enhancements couldn’t hold a ten-thousandth of that in working memory, let alone juggle it. So I had to meet you, Johanna. Because, as you say, you never know.” She puts her hands together yoga style and bows her head like Ojiichan did in his Temple. “This morning I heard the woman threatening to kidnap your brother. Then you went off to drown yourself. I sort of panicked trying to find you.”

“So… you can hear phone calls?” Maxwell asks.

“The woman was inside her ship,” Vedanshi says.

“Yeah, she was in her ship, Max. Keep up.” I scowl warmly.

He gives me a hint of a grin.

“You have to master the river of consciousness before you pilot,” Vedanshi says. “Pilots are born with an extra gyrus on their parietal lobes, but the phenotype is no guarantee you’ll make it.”

Einstein had a parietal lobe anomaly. Suddenly I want an MRI.

“You said 2015 is a post-cataclysmic dystopia,” Maxwell says.

Vedanshi nods. “We’re probably six to twelve thousand years into it. There are four in recorded history.” She pats the rug beside her.

“The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” I hear myself saying, and the verses open in my mind.

“Your unique feature is the loss of ancient records,” Vedanshi says. “From what I’ve read, your scholars get things backwards. The Grand Canyon took millions of years and the pyramids took twenty. I don’t see how anyone with eyes could believe that.”

“What ended your era, a comet? A flood?”

“A series of asteroids,” Vedanshi says. “The small stragglers landed near Madagascar and left beautiful deposits.”

The Earth rotates beneath us. Africa comes around with Madagascar to the east.

“This is the best one,” she says, pointing down. “See the feathers? It’s like a bird’s wing.”

MadChevrons 2

I’ve seen these before. To me it’s like someone dumped soapy water in the dirt. This one’s several miles long.

“Geologists say these were made by the wind,” I tell her.

“Not true.”

“What, then?”

“This is a piece of the Earth that broke free when one of the smaller asteroids hit. I saw it happen. It flew through the air at thousands of miles an hour. It came from the seabed over there.” She points east to a spot in the Indian Ocean where I’ve read there’s a crater. “This piece flew out at a low angle, glowing like lava with a tail of smoke and steam. The trees exploded when it hit. It was fluid, colloidal, and flowed into this nice winglike shape. A small tsunami crept up a bit later but couldn’t wash it away. Unlike the previous day’s waves that razed everything.”

“The asteroids didn’t hit in one day?” I ask.

“No. The big ones came on the first day. A few smaller ones hit that night, and the tiny one that did this artwork touched down at sunrise. It might have been the last one, but…”

“So… Wait now. Are you saying the bigger asteroids made tsunamis that washed away their own impact deposits?”

“Yes, on day one. But I don’t think you’d call them tsunamis. They weren’t like Japan’s waves on the internet.”

“What was different?”

“They were huge. They moved like life forms – boiling over the continents without slowing down. Each one would start as part of an impact explosion and spread out in a circle with the circumference increasing until it matched the circumference of the Earth. Then it moved on around and the circumference shrank, keeping its power about the same until it narrowed down to a point and crashed into itself on the opposite side of the Earth. There was lightning and the loudest thunder. Water and debris shot up miles into the air. The big ones smoothed out everything in their paths, including their own ejection deposits. Later when things settled down and the small asteroids began to land, their water action looked more like Japan’s tsunamis. They were too weak to clear their deposits for the most part.” She looks down at the ground. “But if you really look, you can see shadows where some of them were washed away, too. Over there.” She points inland. “It’s like a stain.”

The Ganga moves closer.

chevron tilt

I kind of see what she’s talking about in the distance. But the wing chevron is impressive down here.

“Max, I’ve read that it’s six hundred feet thick at the edges.” I point to the wingtip.

“Looks pretty flat.” He tilts his head to look down my arm, and I point again. His buzz cut brushes my temple. His collar is wet.

“Take off that shirt and put your coat on,” I tell him.

He grunts.

The Ganga moves lower, as if to show us the height of the wingtips. Maxwell whistles when we come down over the lip and really see one of these things edge-on.

Ancient Mysteries

He’s twenty-five. When we first met a few months ago he introduced himself as an aging surfer. So he’s probably not cold at all in his wet clothes. The bum.

I jab at him with an elbow.

He ignores it.

A cell phone starts a weak rendition of “Surfer Girl” and Maxwell digs it out of his coat, sees the number, then hands it to me. “It’s James,” he says.

I put it on speaker by habit. “James, are you alright?”

“That guy I rammed was a cop. I don’t know where they’re planning to take me, but he’s filling out a bunch of paperwork and sounds extremely pissed off. He’s got handcuffs. I hate those things.”

“Where are you?”

“He’s taking… He took my phone.” The connection goes dead.

I look at Vedanshi. “A cop in a Prius? I doubt it.”

She takes Maxwell’s phone, places it on the rug in front of her. The Earth drops like a lead ball from a bomb bay. We streak through white haze and across a blur of blue ocean. A glimpse of land flashes by and our impossible speed turns to a dead stop without making us even bob our heads. We’re fifteen feet off the ground in front of a police station in Honolulu.

James stumbles out with his hands cuffed back and the Haole pseudo-cop shoving him. The man kicks James’ legs and knocks him off the curve to the ground.

“Let me out,” I tell Vedanshi. “I’m going to hurt that man.” I feel the cold DNA of my ancestor, Shinmen Musashi-no-Kami Fujiwara no Genshin, the greatest and by far the deadliest samurai who ever walked the Earth.

I was eleven when I strangled a male adolescent chimpanzee with my bare hands. It’s the same feeling now.

M. Talmage Moorehead

Yo…

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

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

Also, please email a friend with my URL: http://www.storiform.com.

Thanks, I appreciate your generous help. 🙂

Talmage