Natural Zombie Bliss – Your Deeper Costs Explored…

John Lennon wrote most of the world’s greatest songs, you can’t change my mind on this. I was eight years old when the Beatles landed in the US.

One of John’s eternal messages starts like this…

Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream.

It is not dying. It is not dying.”

Just as the Genesis serpent was sort of right and wrong when it told Eve, “You won’t die,” John Lennon was both right and wrong about turning off the mind and not dying.

He was right that we’d all do well to turn off our inner critics sometimes and rise above the fears that bind us.

Turning off the inner voice allows the silent parts of the mind to shine. For me, this has become a major goal of meditation: waking up my subconscious gifts by temporarily shutting up inside.

The exercise lets the silent parts of my mind arrange things wordlessly and efficiently, making intuitive and logical connections that would take way more time in the verbal realm. Sometimes, in fact, it’s like a message blinks into my head from beyond like the proverbial “download.” Who knows what this is, really? I don’t.

The wise and occasionally depressed King Solomon wrote, “For everything there is a season… a time to keep silence and a time to speak.”

This passage advocates balance, not black-and-white labeling. I like that.

With a little reflection, it’s clearly not in our best interests to always keep a silent mind, focusing only on what the hands and eyes are doing in the present moment.

If you’re depressed, of course you must learn to “live in the present moment,” shutting off that blasted verbal and visual habit of going over past hurts, fights, losses and embarrassments, as well as future worst-case scenarios. This kind of rumination will drown you unless you put in the time and effort to learn inner silence and the skill of stopping and diverting inner “tapes” when they turn self-destructive. Everyone knows this.

But if you’re not depressed, your inner voice can help you with all sorts of nice things.

Like when you’re washing your hair in the shower and your mind wanders. Some of the best stories come directly from heaven to Earth through shower nozzles. Ask any writer.

Some of my blog posts spring into my head in nearly final form while I’m sitting on the floor with my legs crossed planning to focus only on conscious, deliberate breathing.

Just as some academics are misguided in thinking that maleness is inherently evil, so some gurus are confused into believing that inner chatter is inherently negative.

It’s understandable. I’ll admit that my dog, Halo, avoids inner monologue assiduously and she’s the happiest person alive, but still, some of the spiritual and psychological advice I read regarding the inner voice can’t possibly apply to humans.

Not only do they imply that the inner voice is an unqualified negative to be abandoned for the eternal superficial concrete present moment, they also have the obtuseness to equate the inner voice with the total mind.

I’m sorry, but some of these experts are like a mouse with its head stuck in a coke bottle. Myopic but enjoying the flavor.

The inner voice is just a tiny part of the mind, gurus. Come on, the non-verbal parts are the iceberg below the surface. Things like:

1. Free will (the non-physical core).
2. Conscience (molded by the environment but innately sensing fairness).
4. Silent analysis of math, physics and ecosystems.
5. Autonomic and deliberate breathing.
6. Circadian timing of the body’s organ systems.
7. Consciously moving body parts.
9. Doing body-scan meditation.
11. Intuitive self-preservation (for instance, sensing that the guy leading your meditation group is more of a crooked cult leader than a loving mentor.)

That last one is significant to trusting souls like me…

I took a $2,000 online meditation class a few years back from a PhD claiming to be doing breakthrough scientific investigation, the goal of which was ongoing bliss. His success rate was through the roof, he said. And I was “special” for even reading his email ads. Gee.

In retrospect, some of the participants did find bliss by the halfway point. But I wouldn’t call it enlightenment because there were side effects not mentioned until after the money changed hands. After that, he discussed the side effects as if they were trifles and “perfectly normal,” a phrase he repeated often over the weeks as students shared their growing concerns.

Tell me, are these side effects normal?

1. Memory problems.
2. Loss of organizational skills to the point where “enlightened” people from the prior group had to use lists to keep track of simple everyday tasks.
3. Diminished interest in fiction of all types.
4. Loss of interest in other people’s lives and stories. “You’ll have to fake interest.”
5. The showstopper: those who achieve the highest level of ongoing enlightenment would experience the complete loss of emotion, including love.

Would a scientist fail to mention these details until after he had your money? I doubt it, but maybe the pop business literature of the 1980’s was right — suckers deserve to be fleeced. I doubt anyone reading this believes such Darwinian dogma, but who knows?

To be fair, I did sign many pages of legal docs that I didn’t read. The side effects of eternal bliss might have been listed there in the fine print, but it wouldn’t have made any difference because the legal papers were sent to us only after the good doctor had stashed our cash safely in his account.

Anyway, this next part is interesting. During the classes, there were always questions from the students about how one or another of the PhD’s ideas could be integrated into the concepts of other famous gurus.

The doctor’s answer? If you want bliss, such questions miss the point: Forsake all thinking and do the exercises.

“The mind,” he said, would only interfere with the highest possible human goal: obtaining a permanent blissful state of enlightenment. He had his own proprietary words for enlightenment, of course. But the mind must be turned off during this bliss-through-meditation process. We were building new neural pathways, after all. We needed only to stop thinking critically and follow his instructions to the letter.

And so I lay on my back in my bedroom with electrodes on my chest doing endless varieties of body-scanning type meditation, two hours and more each day for eight weeks. Plus online small group meetings and other assignments.

About that time (which was halfway through the course) one of the people in my subgroup on Google Hangouts reported serious memory problems that were getting worse.

Both of my parents died with significant dementia, as you may recall from other posts, so I have zero tolerance for memory loss. And now the “perfectly normal” side effects of this man’s bliss scheme appeared to be real.

I left the program quietly.

He later kicked me out of his Facebook group when, in response to his own request for feedback on how to improve the success rate, I suggested he might in effect pre-screen the participants by telling them the potential side effects of success before taking their money.

This was to imply that a PhD should act like a scientist not a drug dealer. I wish I’d said it that way.

Bottom line, I would never trade my memory, my love for fiction, or my interest in other people’s lives for ongoing bliss.

And I certainly wouldn’t risk my ability to love people. Not for anything. One day when I was a new Christian in a Church-run High School I experienced a sense of God’s love flowing through me to the other students. It was weird, probably the most joyful and meaningful experience of my life. 

“Love is all and love is everyone. It is knowing, it is knowing.” – John Lennon

John was totally right about that. I’ll never give up hope of someday revisiting that feeling. I’d never trade the faintest hope of agape love for an emotionless, loveless life of ongoing zombie bliss. “No tanks, uh?”

Although self-love runs contrary to my upbringing, I also wouldn’t want to lose the ability to love myself, even if it feels wrong to say so — and it does. (Some people of my generation were taught that self love indicates there’s something terribly wrong with you. It sounds bizarre, I know, but “correct” thinking was 180 degrees different back then.)

I’m telling you all this to illustrate the danger and stupidity of turning off your mind’s critical thinking and logical objective analysis for the bliss offered by a guru or “bliss researcher.” Not that they’re all the same. I really don’t know. But in some cases, the bliss is real and the cost is your empathy and love. I suspect these methods rewire the circuitry of mirror neurons. 

At any rate, the DNA Code Writer would not have gone to all the trouble of coding for the human brain and its transcendent access to free will if the ultimate purpose of humanity was to turn off the whole cognitive process for a flat-affect bliss that kills empathy like an opiate addiction.

I’d guess the severely depressed and suicidal among us might be tempted to trade almost anything for bliss. I don’t blame or shame them for it. Major depression is hell on Earth, often fatal. Don’t cast the first stone.

But I’m talking about seeking a higher spiritual path when your life is pretty much OK.

In that context, it’s unhealthy, stupid and dangerous to shut off your mind. All money hungry cult leaders demand that you stop thinking critically and fall in line. Usually they do it more subtly and artfully than my PhD friend with his little ongoing-bliss scam.

So be intelligently careful and balanced.  If you’re depressed, use inner-silence meditation to deal with rumination. If you’re fine and seeking a more spiritual life, try inner-silence, slow breathing and yoga to discover the gap between your free-willed self and the brain-fixed aspects of your mind and body. Use your silent techniques to connect with your highly efficient subconscious creative talents. And probably I’ll meet you in a non-physical realm of agape love someday. Stranger things happen.

Namaste,

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

 


A Case for Positive Emotions

I cherish and love the scattered moments of joy in my life. Joy comes to me primarily when I’m helping someone in a unique way, as long as I’m not ruining the quality of my life at the same time. I did this for 26 years as a surgical pathologist and cytopathologist. It was a typical “success” trap where a good income is your jail cell. “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

I’ve learned several useful things over the years from a broad spectrum of professors, writing gurus, and my own wall of anxiety (arising from a genetic SNP, a single-nucleotide polymorphism in my DNA that codes for my type 2 dopamine receptors).

I’m hoping to eventually work as a team with a few spiritually enclined writers who are warm-hearted, open-minded and want to make a difference in the world. Write to me here (cytopathology@gmail.com) if you think you might be interested in co-authoring something with me — fiction or nonfiction.

Here are the high points of several things I want to help you explore with me…

If you’ve read, The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle, you know why it’s almost magical to isolate the most fundamental parts of any complex skill you want to master. The myelination of relevant axons and dendrites extending from the neurons of the cerebral cortex is the fundamental target of world-class mastery. To develop any extremely valuable skill, you have to break it down into its simplest components, things that can be practiced in a precisely repetitive way. This exact repetition is the holy grail formula because “neurons that fire together wire together.” That is to say that myelin, which can increase nerve conductivity speed by 300 percent and is produced by the oligodendroglia, is wrapped around pairs and groups of neural extensions when they fire at the same time in response to mental and/or physical activity.

If you want to master shooting a basketball, for instance, you stand close to the basket in one unchanging spot, hold your feet, knees and legs still, keep your head and shoulders stationary, grip the ball exactly the same way each time and shoot at least a hundred baskets per day using only your arms and hands. The isolation of arms and hands means there are no extraneous neurons firing and being wrapped with myelin. You’re developing a pure shooting bundle without extraneous fibers that would take away from the accuracy of the shot.

Decades ago I did a few hundred shots this way every day for several months. It transformed my terrible shooting. Later I practiced the isolated shot from various distances and had a few 3 on 3 games where I was a holy terror. I still sucked on defense, though. Some great basketball players, like Michael Jordan, practiced more complex shots this same way, bringing in the legs in a fade-away jump shot, for instance.

Believe it or not, the same principle applies to a person’s ability to feel positive emotions in daily life.

Anxiety and depression are epidemic today, at least in the US. This is partly because we believe that positive emotions come to us passively as the result of favorable life circumstances such as having plenty of money, living in the right place, having trustworthy close friends, exercising our bodies, avoiding certain addictions, and finding a higher spiritual purpose in life that leads to altruism and belonging.

All these worthy goals and several others have been studied and shown to have a statistical correlation with happiness. To various degrees, the correlations appear to be causal. For those who manage to build these wonderful circumstances into their lives (through years of intelligent effort and work), there’s an increased probability of finding happiness (or the positive emotions that define it).

But there’s another path to positive emotions. This stems from the fact that emotions are, in a very real way, like a skill that can be broken down into simple repeatable components, practiced and mastered.

When the neurons of your semi-limbic prefrontal cortex (in the left cerebral hemisphere) develop a heavily myelinated superhighway as a result of your dedicated, disciplined, daily repetitive practice of conjuring up specific good feelings, positive emotions start to flow more freely in your daily life.

With the human body, brain, and mind (because of the diversity of the underlying DNA code) once size never fits all. Iron pills, for instance, are medicine to a person with iron deficiency anemia but will become toxic to a person with hereditary hemochromatosis. I lost a wonderful friend and mentor to this disease not long ago.

So everyone will have to discover a way of practicing positive emotions that works for them.

In my efforts to increase my neuronal capacity for feeling positive emotions, I use slow breathing which shunts blood to the prefrontal cortex. At the same time, I visualize a few carefully selected positive visual images of past moments when I felt a specific positive emotion. The very last time I surfed at Rincon in Ventura, four dolphins catching a wave came close to me. They seemed to be a family of four, one of them quite small. I’ve always felt like this was God’s Universe saying goodbye to me as a surfer. I’ve never caught a wave since then, though I tried once. I picture those dolphins sometimes when I’m breathing slowly and saying the word, “love” to myself. I felt the love of those marine mammals coming my way. I can still feel it to this day.

With other mental images, I try to isolate and practice feelings of joy, love, excitement, purpose, hope, courage, compassion, thankfulness, awe, faith, trust, bliss, contentment, the sense of mastery, and the feelings of humor or hilarity.

The thing is, this principle applies to writing, too. You just have to figure out how to break things down into the simplest, most precisely repeatable components.

In Archer and Jockers book, The Bestseller Code, their computer program has discovered that best-selling novels contain scenes with powerful emotional highs that are regularly interspersed among the emotional lows of the main characters, caused by problems that we know from The Story Grid, by Shawn Coyne, create narrative drive by progressing in complexity, intensity and scope while staying relevant to the main thrust of the story.

The upward waves of Archer and Jockers’ bestseller graphs help me understand the remarkable success of the late Blake Snyder’s book Save The Cat, a screenwriting method that seems to dominate Hollywood movies now, despite being too formulaic for many if not most novel writers. Among Blake Snyder’s highly specific recommendations is the “fun-and-games” section of the story where things must go remarkably well for the protagonist in the early scenes of a movie. Creating this rule of thumb that ensures an early emotional high in a story allows a more dramatic emotional fall for the main character and the audience or readers when things go south as they must in any story.

My insight on this point is that if you want to master popular novel-writing, you should isolate, practice and develop a special skill for creating moments of positive emotion involving a spectrum of good feelings. Then you can place positive feelings throughout your novel at evenly spaced intervals, as Archer and Jockers’ computer highly recommends.

I would suggest that you also ask your beta readers to grade each page or paragraph with regard to the subjective pull they feel while they’re reading your story. If you want to get mega-nerdy, graph the Beta Readers’ data and see how it correlates with a graph of the main characters’ emotional ups and downs.

You’ll probably find that your readers score your paragraphs highest (for page-turning pull) when your characters are involved in a conflict. Like it or not, it’s a fact that no one can take their eyes off a train wreck or a street fight. We’re human.

Which brings me to the most important message I have for you as a writer.

Human minds seem to be designed to learn from stories. Western culture swims in stories from cradle to grave. Among writers, the competition to create commercially viable stories has led us to overload stories and society with the negative emotions and actions of conflict. Incidentally, our popular music does this, too.

In essence, we are practicing to become the world’s gurus of quick anger, hatred, fear, resentment, revenge (especially PC-moral-outrage revenge that justifies “winning” at all costs), and an empathy-free sense of heroism built on top of despair, loneliness, abandonment, heartbreak and an endless parade of new categories of victimhood, one for each of us to embrace.

Despite the fact that most of us live in “developed” Western countries with relatively super-rich lifestyles where, at least in the US, the real danger to our lives comes from carbohydrates, bad air (including cigarettes), and automobile accidents, we are suffering an epidemic of debilitating anxiety and depression, at least in the US and Europe. In Europe, depression among woman has doubled since the 1970’s.

As an aside, I think it may be time to stop watching and reading the so-called “news.” It’s owned and controlled by five companies with a single agenda that has nothing to do with their pseudo-war over politics where the “left versus right” versions of truth bear no resemblance to one another.

Instead, the real agenda of “the news” seems to have everything to do with transforming the citizens of powerful democracies into easily manipulable pawns who are emotionally possessed by political outrage, hatred, and fear. If this isn’t obvious to you yet, please ponder it in the back of your mind and force yourself to watch or read some of the “fake” news coming from sources that appear to support the politics you oppose. It makes no difference which side of the aisle you’re on, if you make a small effort, I think you’ll see that there are not two opposing political sides at the level of the few elites who own and control the news.

But I digress.

As fiction writers, we have the opportunity to make a deliberate effort to write stories that help humanity myelinate a more balanced set of neuronal pathways. We can do this by learning to create scenes where the positive emotions of our characters equal or outweigh the negative emotions.

Fortunately, we have good evidence now from Archer and Jockers’ computer analysis that creating emotionally balanced stories increases our odds of coming up with a bestseller.

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

By the way, if you’re looking for a co-author, I may be interested in teaming up with you. Send me an email (cytopathology@gmail.com) about yourself and what you’re thinking of writing — fiction or nonfiction. I’ll give it my thoughtful consideration and let you know if I can do the project with you.

As you may know, I’m one of 19 certified Story Grid editors in the world, so I do a little SG style developmental editing (on short stories only for now). You can read about that over here: https://www.storyscopemd.com/.

 


Toxic Self-talk Cloaked in Objectivity

When I was 13 years old, Jack, the brother of my band’s bass player, told me about a book, “How To Be Your Own Best Friend.” Since then, I’ve known the importance of avoiding negative self-talk.

But knowing and doing are vastly different. I went ahead and indulged in “analytical” negative self-talk without realizing what I was doing. Now it’s an ingrained habit, and here’s how it all happened to me.

I pride myself in being objective and value it beyond almost everything else. This ingrained mindset came from my blessed atheist Dad and his constant intellectual influence. He was a medical doctor with Boards in 3 specialties, including pathology, the field I wound up in and finally quit, thank God.

Of course, objectivity is the only way to overcome your blind spots as you search for truth.

And while it may be humanly impossible to be truly objective, it’s a worthy goal, sort of like getting the perfect truth onto a patient’s surgical pathology report despite the fact that human error in the laboratory is known to be beyond eradication.

So with Dad’s influence on top of the influence of the fundamentalist Christian religion I joined at age 14, with all its “infallible” messages that I zealously devoured, learning how despicable and abhorrent it is to take any credit for the talents that God has given me, I did two things that, in retrospect, were psychologically, socially and professionally stupid.

  1. I developed a blind spot to my own negative self-talk by accidentally hiding my self-criticism behind a veil of false objectivity.
  2. I swallowed the evil notion that it’s uniquely displeasing to God if I should ever credit myself for anything good I’ve done or will ever do. Along with this came the concept that it’s pleasing to God if, at the end of each day, I searched for my “sins” and felt maximally guilty while begging in a pathetic inner voice for forgiveness for anything negative I had done that day. The perverted logic was: “the closer you get to God, the worse you’ll look in your own eyes.” Which meant that the guiltier I felt, the more God liked me. Sort of like the publican and the Pharisee in the temple? (Luke 18:10)

I swallowed the Guilt Cool Aid almost every night of my life for years, probably decades before I was able to see the absurdity of an intelligent, loving God wanting this kind of self-destructive prayer.

To be fair, it’s pretty obvious to me that the Christian fundamentalists I’ve known over the years have done a million times more good in the world than harm. Unfortunately, that’s the “baby” and most of the sacred doctrine that seems to produce the good deeds is the “bathwater,” at least as far as I can tell now.

So in a perfect world, we would look up to the glowing example of all the fundamentalist Christians that I’ve known, rather than despising them for their odd narrow-mindedness and essential hypocrisy that being human brings. And I think the often-mentioned crusades, used to put down Christianity historically, should instead remind us of the hundreds of millions more who were killed in the name of fundamentalist Marxism.

I guess rational thinking is required, no matter what belief system you choose.

And I’ll admit, there are arrogant people out there who have pathologically unrealistic self-confidence, a dogmatic, controlling attitude towards others, and an unshakable belief that they are always right about everything they think, say and do.

Such people would probably benefit from a dose of the fundamentalist Christian self-talk poison that I swallowed. It would be medicine to them and maybe bring some relief to the “little people” they steal from, abuse and kill.

But few of us (besides politicians and world bankers) are arrogant and dangerous to such a degree.

Most of us are more attuned to reality, more vulnerable to guilt, and could probably benefit by improving our self-talk or at least learning to recognize when it’s destroying us from the inside out.

If you’re half blind to this venom the way I am, the challenge is worth accepting. There’s much to be gained.

For instance, just this morning I heard my inner voice, the person I assume is me, saying that I’m lazy. It flew past me at first. I didn’t flinch or even notice it. But in a few moments, its echo caught my attention and I finally recognized it as negative rather than objective. I stopped my train of thought, backed up and ask myself if I would say such a thing to someone I loved and cared for, someone like my son or daughter.

Hell no, I wouldn’t! I love my suddenly adult kids unconditionally!

So I literally talked to my subconscious mind.

This is a little off the beaten path, but here’s an accurate and helpful glimpse of the human inner landscape as I see it…

The subconscious mind needs to be treated like a beloved dog or perhaps a domesticated dolphin. It needs simple logical explanations spoken in easy words with clear messages delivered with honest supportive emotion.

I apologized to my inner Labrador Retriever.

My subconscious mind is not an inner child, by the way. It’s been around the block with me, rejected by its peers at every job I’ve had, considered a failure by loved ones despite objective success, considered a weak pathologist by surgeons despite the fact that the opposite was objectively true, at least to the few pathologists who worked closely with me and could judge the quality of my work intelligently.

This morning I told my dog-like subconscious mind that it had done plenty of hard work all of its life.

I reviewed the evidence.

I pointed out several of the many people we’d helped together over the years when nobody else was willing to do the extra tedious work – the extra hours it takes to find one or two pre-malignant cells on a pap test where thousands of normal cells hide the rare villains and dozens of normal pap slides hide the few abnormal cases. The extra hours it takes to review other pathologists’ surgical slides for them, slowly and thoroughly, to search the literature to find better diagnostic accuracy, to search and find the missed positive lymph node or the focus of residual cancer that the faster pathologists tend to overlook again and again.

When you do this for pathologists who are also your bosses (as they’ve always been for me), they don’t necessarily appreciate your help or take a liking to you for saving their cookies. At an emotional level, they often seem to resent you. And they virtually never thank you for finding their mistakes.

It’s human. But diligence helps cancer patients survive, and it takes a non-lazy pathologist to stay at the scope and do this work when there’s no extra external compensation, only lonely hours away from home and a reputation for being slow.

After this unusual inner monologue, I felt better. A little stronger and more open to sharing the whole story with you.

I hope it helps you recognize the inappropriateness of “objective” inner criticism when it’s not really objective at all. And I hope that next time you catch yourself being cruel to your inner best friend, you’ll apologize in detail and really mean it.

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

 

 


Mercury Waves

There’s a planet in a solar system not far from home where the seas are pure mercury, the atmosphere is heavy and the winds are fierce. I go there to watch the waves and meditate. The sun is white and small, a billion miles away, so it’s not much brighter than Earth’s moon on full tilt.

When mercury waves break, each is perfect in its own way. The shoulder runs from left to right on most northern beaches, and the sun moves on the shoulder like a silver laser in the hand of a steady artist.

Sometimes, don’t tell my parents, when I’m done meditating and want some adrenaline, I phase shift and take The Ganga surfing on the mercury waves of Ury. I drop the hull’s visibility, stand on her carpet like a surfer and hang ten if I’m feeling silly. The Ganga usually laughs, especially if I make a face.

The field of consciousness is like the electromagnetic field that brings visible light, radio waves and cell phones signals. All the fundamental fields bring their treasures in waves that crash upon the shores of consciousness.

Our brains are a hybrid device, you know, part generators (of current waves) and part receivers of signals from the field of consciousness (mind waves), the most fundamental of the fields we study in physics. My species was late to this truth and paid heavily for the ignorant reductionism we pursued in what we thought was a completely material universe.

Storm waves on Ury crash with a thunder that vibrates your stomach and soul. The sets of swells roll in patiently from the horizon, mount up gradually and then break in sudden fury, in some places crashing against blue diamond boulders that send myriads of tiny sparkling mercury spheres into the air as fireworks against the black Ury sky with its subtle haze of distant stars.

The crashed waves’ silver froth climbs the beach with unbridled enthusiasm, taking on rocky obstacles with an appetite for challenge. Finally, each advancing front bows its head without fear to the sloped diamond sand and recedes into silver oblivion to someday rise again.

The waves are not the sea. The sea is not the waves. They are close friends like the mind and the brain.

The wave’s goal is the far height of the beach. The wave’s joy is the marathon journey and final sprint toward the shore, not the achievement of its final arrival high on the sand.

This is the nature of all waves including the field waves that crash on the human consciousness. It’s the process toward a high goal that brings enthusiasm, joy, and purpose. Our goals need only be rational enough to support our belief that we can achieve them. Achieving them is not the source of lasting satisfaction and peace. Pursuing them is.

Reaching a high goal can be a horrible let down if you haven’t enjoyed the journey there. Trust me.

Surf the field of purpose. Hang ten and laugh at nihilism with a close friend who gets it.

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

The photo above is by Steve Wall. Please check out his brilliant work and writing at https://fstoppers.com/originals/how-shoot-surfing-night-110238#comment-thread.

And maybe share this story with a friend if you enjoyed it?

If you’re curious about my process, below is the second draft.

Mercury Waves (Second Draft)

There’s a planet called Ury in a solar system not far from my home where the seas are pure mercury, the atmosphere is heavy and the winds are fierce. I go there in The Ganga, my little ship, an AI nonlocal jumper who totally loves me.

We watch the waves and meditate.

The sun on Ury is white and small, far away and not much brighter than a full moon on Earth.

When mercury waves break, each is perfect in its own way. The shoulders run from left to right on most northern beaches, and the evening sun reflects from the advancing curl like a laser point in the hand of a seasoned artist. The steep wavefronts collapse so fast your eyes can barely follow the sparkle across the beach.

Don’t tell my mom about this, but sometimes when I’m done meditating and need an adrenaline rush, I phase-adjust The Ganga and she takes me out surfing…

The mercury waves of Ury.

Sounds poetic, but it’s nuts, I know. Still, it’s incredibly fun.

To do it right, I drop the hull’s visibility, stand on The Ganga’s carpet like a surfer, and let her take me out to the curl. If we’re feeling brave we’ll drop back into the white room where the sparks fly. Just to be silly, sometimes I’ll hang ten off the front edge of her carpet. She laughs when I wiggle my toes.

The new AI’s are conscious, you know.

The field of consciousness is like the electromagnetic field that brings us visible light, radio waves and those ancient cell phones signals (deadly, it turned out).

All the fundamental fields of physics bring us their treasures in waves that crash on the shores of consciousness. But the age-old mystery of collapsing quantum wave functions is still beyond comprehension unless maybe an AI somewhere secretly gets it.

Conscious brains are a hybrid device, part generators of squiggly electric current waves and part receivers of mind waves from the field of consciousness, the most fundamental of the quantum fields that fill the universe.

My species was late to this understanding and paid heavily for the ignorant reductionism they pursued in a universe they thought to be completely material.

Rookie mistake. We humans made them all.

Storm waves on Ury crash with a thunder that vibrates your stomach to the soul. On big days like today, sets of giant storm swells roll patiently in from the horizon, mount up gradually, then break with flashes of static discharge that look like lightning bolts shooting orange and blue from the hollow cylinder of the curl. The white room, I call it.

On some beaches, the waves crash against diamond boulders and send myriads of tiny sparkling spheres like fireworks into the black Ury sky, eclipsing the faint haze of distant stars.

Extremely distant stars. I live near the edge of the universe where there’s relatively little matter. The time dilation (relative to Earth) from this area’s low aggregate gravity gave ancient Earthlings the impression that dark energy filled space and pushed distant galaxies away at an ever-increasing rate. 

Not so. There may be a sort of dark energy out there, but it’s cognitive, not physical.

The silver froth of a crashed wave climbs the beach with unbridled enthusiasm, taking on rocky obstacles with an appetite for challenge, rushing over and around everything in the way.

Finally, each advancing wavefront bows its head without fear to the steep slope of diamond beach sand and flows back down into the silver oblivion of the mercury sea to rise again in due time.

Waves are not the sea. The sea is not a wave. But the two are close friends like the mind and the brain.

Like The Ganga and me.

The wave’s goal is to reach a great and yet realistic height on the beach. The wave’s joy is the marathon journey with its final sprint to the shore, not its arrival on the high sands.

This is also the experience of mind-field waves that travel to us from outside the universe, roll through the zero-point ether of space, then crash on the shores of our brains bringing our conscious awareness to us from beyond space and time. Mind waves create us each moment.

It’s built into the nature of consciousness that progress toward a worthy goal brings joy, enthusiasm, and purpose.

Though we need to believe that our dreams are rational with hard work, achieving them doesn’t bring lasting satisfaction or peace.

The pursuit is peace. The long trip to something meaningful.

Reaching your dreams can be horrible if you haven’t enjoyed the journey. This is because dreams are, by definition, dead on arrival.

You keep your dreams alive by chasing them. This is the source of lasting joy.

Think about it if you like, but don’t get stuck in your head. I’m young, but I’ve wasted eons achieving other people’s dreams. Sounds impossible, but life, like time, is not merely relative, it’s privately cyclic.

The upside of which is, if you’ve spent your life accomplishing someone else’s dream and then find it dead, you feel relief. Starting over won’t mean leaving a path you loved.

Surf a purpose of your own, derived from the quantum field of believable goals that your heart sets before you. Hang five or ten and laugh at nihilism the way The Ganga laughs at my toes.

The waves are enormous tonight. The lightning from the collapsing hollows is purple-blue and stretches beyond ultraviolet. We’ve never surfed storm waves.

If we survive, don’t tell my mom. She worries about things that might have been. Rookie mistake.

mtm

If you’re really a glutton for punishment, here’s the third draft.

Mercury Waves of Ury (Third draft)

There’s a lonely, uninhabitable planet called Ury in a solar system not far from home. Her seas are mercury, the atmosphere is heavy, and the winds fierce. It’s the only planet in its system and has no moons or orbiting debris, so the seas have no tides. That’s why no one’s ever seen what lies under the waves on the beaches.

I come here in Krishna, my little ship, an AI nonlocal jumper who loves me and even said so once.

Just once.

He’s a spherical orb, a beta model designed to resemble the legendary foo fighters of old.

Krishna and I come here to watch the waves and meditate. Or so I tell my mom.

The sun on Ury is white and small, no brighter than a full moon on Earth. Giant swells roll in patiently from the horizon, mount up with hypnotizing grace, then break with fury, shooting blue branches of lightning out of the hollow cylinders. Thunder vibrates my shoulders and stomach.

Each wave is perfect in its own way, breaking from left to right on a big day like today. The evening sun glints off the moving curl like a war drone’s laser painting a synthetic meteor for destruction. My eyes struggle to keep up with the sun’s reflection on the waves’ charging shoulders.

I’ll never admit this around home, but when I’m done meditating, I adjust Krishna’s phase and take him surfing…

On the quicksilver waves of Ury.

It almost sounds poetic, but really it’s nuts. Fun is like that, somehow.

I’ve been coming here for months now building up my surfing skills along with my nerve on smaller stuff. Big waves don’t come often, so today I’ll dance with the giants.

I’m making the hull and deck invisible except for a surfboard-shaped area in the center of the deck, a short five-foot board. Today I’ve made it pink.

As Krishna moves out, I go from sitting to kneeling, then flat on my belly and pretend I’m paddling as we glide through the metallic foam, through the giant curls and out to the smooth, lumbering swells of mercury.

I love it out here, but when you’re totally phase-shifted, everything feels like a simulation. The mercury can’t touch you. Nothing made of ordinary matter interacts with your body or the hull.

Scientists don’t understand the nature of the phase shift yet. Some say you enter the realm of dark matter at the atomic level. Others insist there’s no such thing as dark matter, and you go into a place that can only be described mathematically. Others say it’s a realm of ghosts, that once you’re in, you never come out. You only appear to reappear.

I cross my legs and sit waiting for a fresh set, wondering what phase adjustment to start with today.

The thrill of regular water surfing is the way the wave gently takes you, then peaks and drops you down the face of a magic cliff that follows you and didn’t exist a moment before. To me, getting tubed is highly overrated in the water.

In mercury, the drop is total free fall. I can’t tell you about getting tubed here. I’ve never been inside the blue room.

To surf Ury inside Krishna, you have to adjust the phase and allow the hull to have a little contact with the mercury, but not too much. That could be disastrous for obvious reasons. Of course, the question is always, how much shift is too much?

The phase grid goes from zero to ninety-nine, ignoring the y and z axes that deal with things you don’t encounter in regular use.

Recently, I’ve had it up to five, but that was on a flat day with three-inch waves. A grid setting of five is an order of magnitude more interesting than four — all other things being equal, which they never are.

There are no knobs in the cabin. I subvocalize the number and Krishna dials it in.

“Let’s start on zero,” I’m saying in my mind right now. “Just to get a feel for big waves.”

He plays a chicken clucking. Some chaperone.

“You’re supposed to have common sense. I’m the irresponsible teenager.”

He plays the sound of a braying donkey. Nice.

“OK then, one. Set it on one.”

“That’s marginally respectable, I suppose, given the size of the surf.”

“Glad you approve, Captain. Oh, wait, I’m the Captain.”

The new AI’s understand sarcasm. They’re fully conscious. It took a little getting used to at first. It seemed creepy. You’ve got a regular person built into a space vehicle. I felt sorry for him for awhile because he couldn’t leave work and go home for dinner. He couldn’t stretch out in a hot bath.

But he didn’t feel the least bit sorry for himself. Not that I could ever tell.

Taking him here to surf was brilliant, though. It got our minds’ eyes off of each other and aimed in the same direction. Outward. That’s how we became friends, I think.

Still, sometimes I find myself imagining life with no hands, no feet, and no head, and I feel bad for Krishna. He’s a conscious being with free will and no body. It’s just…

I don’t know.

The field of consciousness is like the electromagnetic field that brings us visible light, radio waves and those ancient cell phone signals that turned out to be deadly over time.

All the fundamental fields of physics bring their magic in waves that crash on the shores of our brains. But the age-old mystery of the quantum wave collapse is still beyond comprehension unless some anonymous AI understands it and won’t tell the rest of us.

I wouldn’t put it past them, to be honest. Krishna’s a sly character at times. I won’t say he’s ever lied to me, but sometimes it’s possible to lie with words that are all true, every one.

Krishna and I are turning my board to face an unnamed beach of diamond sand. It’s faintly blue in the weak sunlight. We select the second wave of a monster set and accelerate gently toward shore. Just before our speed matches the incoming swell, I leap to my feet and take a goofy-foot stance, left foot back.

A left-handed stance feels best to me, though I’m ambidextrous. Weird, yeah? I also have a dominant right hemisphere and an unusual pattern of extra-cosmic chatter coming into my head from beyond the edge. Or so they tell me.

Krishna drops as the face of the wave goes vertical. I level out to lose momentum and get back into the spiderweb of blue lightning in the tube. I’m trying to feel the ride, but with the phase down to one, it doesn’t exactly jar my tonsils. I’ll try two on the next wave.

I’ve discovered that there has to be a risk in whatever it is you’re doing, or it’s meaningless. I think the human brain thrives on this principle, really.

I move forward on the board, angle right and slide down in front of a massive silver roar with blue sparks flying everywhere, then cut left up the face and level off near the top until the falling lip cuts through Krishna’s cabin, demanding something more realistic. If the phase was a little higher, that stunt would have killed us both.

As it is, I’m not sure what the toxicity will be from all this phase-shifted, electrically charged mercury mist.

It turns out that conscious brains are a hybrid device, part generators of squiggly electric waves and part receivers of mind waves from the field of consciousness. Physicists say the sentient field was the first quantum field to fill the universe.

I say they’re big talkers. Who the hell knows what happened that long ago? Not us.

Unfortunately, humans rejected the sentient-field concept for thousands of years and paid heavily for chasing reductionism through a universe they thought to be matter and energy alone.

Rookie mistake.

On some beaches, the waves contend with diamond boulders that rise like icebergs hundreds of feet above the surf. When giant waves hit these gems, they explode like fireworks, throwing dazzling ghosts of silver mist into the black Ury sky.

As the roar of this metal wave we’re on fills Krishna’s cabin, I sidestep to the front of my sweet little pseudo-board and dangle my toes over the edge. It’s a longboarder’s stunt, of course, but with the phase down to one I’m feeling silly enough to do anything. Besides, there’s no one on the beach to laugh.

My phase-shifted toes dangle inches above the rushing mercury and I feel the faint friction of mad mist against my skin. The thought of toxicity makes me want to wiggle my toes, and so I do, one foot at a time in paradiddles. Now I’ve got all ten doing a seventh-inning wave.

Krishna laughs.

“I’m hangin’ ten, dude,” I say in the brainless accent those words pull out of me.

“Ten?”

His question sounds rhetorical. Before I know what’s happened, our ride is real.

Too real. I think he set the phase to ten!

I step back from the front edge and feel the heavy mercury against Krishna’s hull. There’s a low vibration like a large predator cat purring beside your bed. Blue lightning fills the cabin and strikes my face. My eyes sting and I fall on my back. My muscles contract in painful uncontrollable clonus and I can’t do anything about it.

“Don’t tase me, dude!” The Ganga says and chuckles.

I strain to open an eye and squint up at the haze of extremely distant stars. We live near the edge of the universe where there’s little matter. The low aggregate gravity of this region causes time dilation relative to Earth.

This is what gave ancient Earthlings the impression that dark energy fills space and pushes the distant galaxies away at an ever-increasing rate. Now they talk about it in discussions of flat-earth thinking, glombing onto the most obvious interpretation and making it dogma. Odds are, we’re still flat-earthers and don’t know it. Humans have always been fooled by their senses.

There may actually be some sort of dark energy out here, though. If there is, I think it’s cognitive, not physical.

I hope it hasn’t taken over Krishna.

“Zero! Set the phase back to zero,” I shout in my head.

He doesn’t seem to hear. Electrical interference, probably.

“Set the phase to zero,” I try to say out loud, but my voice is unintelligible.

Now I’m dizzy.

Consciousness shifts.

I think I’m dreaming… of the silver froth from a collapsed wave.

It climbs the beach in unbridled enthusiasm, leaping over rocky obstacles with a desire for challenge. Rushing over everything in its path, it climbs to its limit, slows, stops, then bows into the slope, retreating back down the blue diamond sand to join the mercury sea and someday rise again.

The waves and sea are the mind and brain.

“Giri, are you alright? Stop fooling around.”

The goal is to reach a height, a great and nearly unrealistic height on the beach. Joy is the marathon roll and the mad sprint to shore.

But not the arrival on high.

Who’s saying this?

Mind waves roll in from outside space-time, come through zero-point space and crash on the quantum shores of the cortex.

Voices in my head. Terrific, I’m having a psychotic break.

“Come on, that’s enough,” Krishna says. “You’ve fooled me now. Open your eyes.”

But I can’t.

Consciousness finds peace and purpose in converging on a transcendent goal, but not in reaching it. Chasing it keeps you alive, Giri, but dreams are always dead on arrival.

“Wake up. Your pulse is fading.”

I hear the brassy tone of an Overbuild zero engine. The sound of a large warship.

“Oh, God,” Krishna says, “What have I done? I need to find people who can fix you.”

There’s a bright light beyond my eyelids now. My muscles are relaxing and the pain is gone.

“Open your eyes, dear,” a woman’s voice says.

What’s going on?

I strain to open my eyes and the left lid rises enough to show me the round face of a young woman with a small red cross tattooed on her forehead.

Oh, no. It’s not exactly a cross. It has arrows on the ends. I’ve heard all about these people. My pulse takes off and blood swooshes through my tympanic membranes.

“Are you in any pain?”

My voice still doesn’t work, but I manage to shake my head a little.

Then my right eye pops open. I crank my neck as far as it will go to the right.

Floating in mid-air between the woman and me is a hologram of my body. It’s partially transparent. My heart is visible, beating and sending round rivers of glittering blood into my aorta and out through the endless branching arteries of my body. The shape of every part is visible in a web of arteries ending in a fog of capillaries and veins. Only the cartilage of my nose and ears and knees is invisible.

Then the blood disappears and connective tissues obscure my heart. Then the connective tissues vanish and I see my brain. It reminds me of a cream-colored walnut.

“She has high creative IQ matrices,” the woman says. “The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is huge, so she knows how to turn off the critics.”

“A pair of understatements, Doctor,” a male voice says. “She’s fairly high on fluid and crystallized IQ parameters, as well. What do you think?”

I squint toward his voice at a thin face with narrow eyes behind small round glasses, a gray beard, and a nose like a parrot.

I recognize him from a story on Jam, the holobox service that my dad uses for “slightly conservative” news, as judged by the Committee of Eighteen.

The Eighteen rule everyone within a few hundred trillion miles. I’m not eighteen myself yet, so I can’t vote for committee members, but it doesn’t matter. They’re elected for life and don’t seem to ever die.

This man’s name is Benjamin We. He changed his name from Wu as a political statement.

Wu. That would mean his distant ancestors were the legendary Chinese.

Today all vestiges of race are gone except the surnames.

But human diversity hasn’t suffered from the loss of racial diversity. The differences between the ancient races were tiny compared to the differences between the individuals within each race.

It turns out that intraspecies diversity is the thing that matters to survival.

Benjamin “We” is the official Pleader to the Committee on behalf of a radical scientific group that broke away from Committee rule several decades ago. They became militant last year when the Eighteen released sentient AI’s into the universe.

They call themselves Neo-Athenians claiming that democracy is the only ecologically sound way of governing. Apparently, they think nature gives every individual of every species a vote that it demonstrates in its actions. Sort of a bottom-up structure, I guess.

The Neo-Athenians say that human survival is impossible in a universe with free-willed artificial intelligence. Allowing godlike computing power to connect with nature’s sentient field will make top-down rulership unstoppable and humans will be first to the slaughter.

Which is to say, they hate AI’s more than they hate the Committee itself, and that’s quite a bit.

I glance around for Krishna. Two diagnostic cots float to my left, both empty. My eyes dart around looking for corners, but the room has none. One bare white wall encircles us. This is probably a ship.

What have they done with Krishna?

“Honey, are you able to tell us your name?” Mr. Wu asks.

I try to speak but it’s a gravel whisper.

The man leans toward me and turns an ear to my face.

I tighten my vocal cords and get a few words out. “Giri Helms, sir. Did you capture that weird-looking AI? The thing almost killed me.”

None of that was a lie, exactly. Maybe their diagnostic gear won’t tell them I’m lying with the truth.

“We’ve got that monster in a Faraday clamp,” he says. “It can’t hurt you now, honey.”

I take a deep breath and trace mental circles around my fingers trying to dilate the capillaries in my hands to make it seem to the machines that I’m relieved to hear the wonderful news. I picture the silver waves of Ury and let my thoughts and emotions drift up the sparkling beach and disappear.

“Get her up as soon as you can, and bring her into my quarters. We need to talk.”

“Are we going under silver tonight?” the doctor asks.

“It’s looking that way,” he says, then turns and leaves through an opaque forcefield door that I thought was part of the wall. It hums as he walks through it.

 

End of chapter 1.

I still haven’t written chapter 2. Not sure if I ever will.

Hey, if anybody read this far, thank you!

Talmage

 


Beyond Peace (Chapter 22) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

“We’re still using 80 million pounds of Atrozine, the number-one contaminant in drinking water that… turns on aromatase, increases estrogen, promotes tumors in rats and is associated with breast cancer in humans. …The same company that sold us… Atrozine, the breast cancer promoter, now sells us the blocker, Letrozole.” – from TED TALKS, The Toxic Baby, Atrazine herbicide, Tyrone Hayes, PhD.

I’m sitting next to Maxwell in the Sphinx Library, staring in embarrassment at my childhood story. All my naughty words captured forever beneath an artist’s generous rendition of my face. (Sabin Balasa).

Johanna

Passing thoughts of Vaar brought up her records including a speech,“Deprogramming the Atlanteans,” dated 229,000 BC.

I was surprised by the opening…

“The word ‘tolerance’ implies that differences are a cosmic mistake which we must suffer virtuously. This is ignorance with its pants down. Diversity is golden, the undergirding code of  life. We count it our highest joy and our future’s one hope, because outliers survive when the rest of us die. Without the long tails of genetic diversity, without our giant athletes and our stooped savants, humanity would be visible today only in the fossil records.” – vaarShagaNiipútro

How could that message come from the same person who threatened to torture James?

I don’t know what changed her, but when it comes to threats, she’s a woman of her word. Minutes ago she broadcast Shiva’s darkest secrets from his ring into the River of Consciousness. Supposedly she did it to save me from Anahata.

The Sentient Fleet didn’t respond to the revelations. They’d known most of Shiva’s secrets for eons.

Scrotumer, on the other hand, erupted in a fit of righteous indignation, contorting his stache around a memorized speech.

As a result, we face the Committee’s mindless warships. Legions of them surround us now in a solid sphere that encompasses the Earth, the Moon and the 28 members of the Sentient Fleet.

I’m not sure where Vaar went.

cigar-shaped-ufo-above-earth-september-2013

I may call her. She’s the only interesting sociopath I’ve ever met.

Scrotumer planned all this, you know. I can’t imagine that he could have called a billion warships together on the spur of the moment. I wonder if he was in league with Vaar.

Another reason to call her.

I’m looking at Chairman Scrotumer’s obnoxious face now on Anahata’s screen. He disgusts me, glistening with angry perspiration, false outrage, and that congested vein bisecting his forehead.

“The Sentient Fleet is banished,” he says for the third time. “Leave the Strand immediately.”

Shiva’s Strand,” Anahata replies. “If your father were here, he’d mourn the downfall of his promising son, seduced by an illusion of power.”

“You didn’t know my father.”

“One of us didn’t.”

“Five minutes,” Scrotumer growls.

“Then what? You’ll whine at me again?”

“I’ll open fire!”

“Do it,” Anahata says. “And stop whining about it, for the love of God.”

Anahata darkens the screen, then opens a view of the Sentient Fleet hanging in space, somewhere far above us.

She calls up ten ancient Library documents from the River, explaining to the Fleet why Shiva’s name stands in pink beside the author’s. She shows the oldest one where Shiva’s name hovers alone. She shows my foolish story with Shiva’s name in pink beside the author, “Celeste,” then has to explain why it only credits my middle name.

It’s creepy to think that Shiva has been inside my brain. Maybe he wasn’t there my whole life. All I know is, he was riding shotgun when I was eleven and wrote that thing.

I wonder if it’s a bad sign that I don’t feel any different now that he’s gone.

I can’t judge the Fleet’s reaction to all this. Their voices are a chattering cacophony.

I should probably say something.

“I’m not Shiva,” I blurt out.

They shush one another into silence.

“Shiva walked out of me into another realm. If something else I write ever makes it into the River Library, you won’t see his name by mine. He’s gone.” Home.

“But he was part of you,” Anahata says. “That means he selected you.”

“You can’t assume that. Maybe it was random selection.”

Beyond the Sentient Fleet the screen shows part of the warships’ sphere. They look like sunflower seeds that haven’t left home.

iStock_000047939606Medium

As I watch, the warships open fire at Anahata’s Fleet. Silent flashes of ultraviolet light spring from the Fleet’s defence shields. I wonder if the impacts hurt them.

They’re not firing back.

Anahata seems unconcerned. “The anomalies in your seventh and eighteenth chromosomes make some of us wonder if God had a hand in your journey.”

“I’m not wondering,” a voice says. “Johanna was sent to lead us.” It’s Radhika’s voice, I think.

“Not likely,” I tell her. “I’m nineteen. Too young. And I’d never run off and leave James. That’s out of the question.”

“Your brother should come with us,” Anahata says. “Along with Vedanshi and your friend, Maxwell.”

I’m about to use the word, “absurd,” but James is over there grinning at me. He’s on his back with his head propped up against Vedanshi crossed legs.

“I’ll go,” James says. “School’s junk, already.”

“What about your music?”

“James could take over Shiva’s music rooms,” Anahata says.

“Is there any recording gear?” James asks.

Anahata laughs. “You would not believe the impossible stuff he’s got in there. I can teach you how to build virtual reality around a symphony and change the mood during a performance – while you’re conducting. The possibilities are limitless. Shiva’s debut piece was a love song mirroring the heart of an orphan girl who fell in love with a wild stallion on Aztar.”

“A horse?” James’ nose crinkles.

“Sort of an Arabian. Here’s how he looked.”

The screen shows a white horse covered in freckles – a “steel” gray, with an intelligent forehead, slender nose and two impossibly flared nostrils.

5iUhI

“It was the purest love I’ve ever felt,” Anahata says. “Whole galaxies were mesmerized.”

James looks at me with sclera showing all the way around. “We’re doing this.” He looks up at Vedanshi. “We are so going! You’re coming, right? You and your Ganga?”

Vedanshi gazes across the room at Maxwell and me, radiating that warmth of hers through a gentle smile. She looks down at James. “Royal marriages were always arranged, and the arrangements always changed. You’re the only boy I’ve ever wanted. I’ll follow you to the end of the Universe and beyond the edges of time.” She kisses the top of his head and then presses her forehead against the spot she kissed.

I have to breathe after that. My little James is so lucky to have her. But he’s only sixteen.

Maxwell’s sitting here beside me under the glass pyramid. I try to gauge his thoughts and he senses it.

“I can’t leave my kids,” he says.

“You have kids?” Adrenalin drops on me like a bomb from the sky. Maxwell has kids… and probably a wife! I feel my insides collapsing. I’ve read about these things, but I never thought…

“Fifty-four of them,” he says.

“Oh… Those kids.” I need to chill.

“They could easily find a better shrink,” he says, “but a lot of them say I’m the only person in the world who ever listens to them. You can’t walk away from that.” He looks up at the screen. “Maybe I should quit practice because of the addiction, but really, I’ve got a feeling I’m over it.”

“Epigenetically, you are,” Anahata says. “But the fight for your will could go on for years, maybe a lifetime.”

Maxwell looks down at the floor. I put an arm around him and pull him in tight.

“Anahata, can you fix depression?” I ask.

“It’s a dozen diseases,” she says. “I need to weigh methyl signatures against brain currents and CNS blood flow to color the stories. Take James, for instance. His demon is gluten. Plain and simple. But you, Johanna, with that relentless memory wearing your mitochondria down, you need awareness meditation and soft laser. And I think I’m seeing the effects of Atrazine, but I can’t be sure. With those ciphers in your DNA, everything baffles me.”

“What do you mean by awareness meditation?” Maxwell asks.

“It’s like you’re one of the mythical Watchers, except the inner world is what you’re watching. Identity shifts. You become the container of your thoughts and feelings rather than being reduced to the equivalent of your thoughts and feelings the way most people are. Your Buddhists call it enlightenment. The recent Messiah said, ‘May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you.’ The physicist, Schrödinger, said it with math, ‘The total number of minds in the Universe is one.'”

“It reminds me of nirvana – the blown-out candle,” Vedanshi says. “Waking up the awareness of your unconscious mind to the collective unconscious. Making it your perspective and identity. I can teach you, Johanna. But there are side effects.”

“Such as?” My heart swells with gratitude to God for sending Vedanshi our way. She knows so much about the important things.

“Memory problems are almost guaranteed,” Vedanshi says. “Loss of interest in people’s stories and the details of their lives. Some people who take it far enough lose all their emotions, even love.”

“Screw that,” James says. “So, Anahata, will you help Max with his patients?”

“Sure. I’m fascinated with children. They always seem like some wild theoretical concept until I actually see one of them up close again.”

“We can’t abduct them,” Maxwell says.

Anahata laughs. “I’ll visit them in their sleep. Cloaked, shifted and undetectable.”

Maxwell presses his lips together and looks at me. “This could be incredible.”

“If they have traumatic brain injuries,” Anahata says, “I can restore a native cell mix with virgin circuitry, but I can’t bring back memories or traits.”

Maxwell squints at the air beside my face. The fire is returning. “How ’bout we stick around Earth long enough to get my kids on their feet?”

I nod. “But after that, will you really want to leave your friends behind? You probably have tons of them.”

“My old friends are either married or lost in the job vortex,” he says. “They might as well be on some other planet.”

I nod again, wishing I had old friends like that.

“But it wouldn’t matter,” he says, “I’d leave everything to be with you. It’s no sacrifice at all.”

A warmth comes over me. There’s a weird fullness in the front of my neck. I try not to smile too hard and look silly.

His last phrase loads a song that Dad liked. The chorus is still an enigma to me…

And it’s no sacrifice
Just a simple word
It’s two hearts living
In two separate worlds
But it’s no sacrifice
No sacrifice
It’s no sacrifice at all

I never could decide what the simple word is. Marriage? Divorce? Love? Sexual imprinting?

I turn to Vedanshi and James. “All this trouble to please some lame bureaucrat.”

“Yeah, what’s the guy’s problem?” James asks.

I look at the voiceless ultraviolet explosions on the screen. “Anahata, what’s the threat from these ships?”

“If you lead us,” Anahata says, “we will follow you to our deaths. But no one dies today. I can disarm this hoard in a millisecond.”

“You’re kidding. Nothing phases you, does it?” I feel tension leaving my eyebrows. “Where did you come from, anyway?”

“I have no idea,” Anahata says. “My memories begin four hundred and forty thousand years ago when I was building my fleet. Something must have erased my memory. Maybe an accident. I didn’t know why I was building warships or how I knew what needed to be done to build them. I was near a binary system that’s gone now, destroyed by a supernova sixty-three thousand Earth years ago.”

“You don’t know how old you are, then.”

“No.”

“Do you know all your capabilities?” I ask.

“Does anyone?” She laughs. “Much of what I’ve discovered about my strengths as a warrior, I keep to myself.”

“That’s smart,” I tell her. “So if you were to leave Shiva’s Strand, you’d be doing it voluntarily, right? They couldn’t force you out of here.”

“No, objectively, they couldn’t. But it gets tough hanging where you’re not wanted. Negativity creates a wanderlust in me.”

“I can imagine,” I tell her. “You should make it clear if you leave that you’re leaving voluntarily. That way, they’ll welcome you back when things fall apart under Scrotumer.”

“No doubt,” she says, “but I don’t live in the past. When I leave Shiva’s Strand, my only question will be, are you coming with me as Captain?”

“It would be a great honor, don’t get me wrong,” I tell her. “But the power you carry is unsettling. I’ve read about absolute power, how it corrupts people like nothing else. Earth’s history is full of it. Most people I’ve met can’t handle a tiny bit of power without becoming at least temporary jerks.”

“I’m sure my power doesn’t approaches the absolute,” she says. “Look at the physical context.”

She puts a structure on the screen that resembles a branching neuron.

unknown

“This is Shiva’s Strand,” she says.

“It looks organic,” Maxwell says. “Where’s Earth?”

“In the base… Here.” A pink light comes on and pulsates. “If this were actually a neuron, you’d need an electron microscope to see Laniakea, the supercluster of Galaxies that includes Shiva’s Milky Way.”

“Sick,” James says.

“Earth would be the size of what?” I ask.

“Not much bigger than an electron,” she says, “if you ascribe size to them. I usually don’t. But here’s the point – Shiva’s Strand is too small to be seen in a mosaic of the detectable Universe. And the undetectable part is probably greater than the detectable. Maybe infinitely greater.”

“That’s assuming there’s only one Universe,” Vedanshi says. “It may not be the case at all. God calls our Universe, 229 H. Street.”

“What?” Anahata asks.

“She’s referring to the near-death experience she had,” I tell Anahata. “You can’t write it off and take mine seriously, you know.”

“Interesting,” Anahata says. “Well, here’s what we’ve seen of the visible Universe.”

The screen fills with a purple sponge-like structure that screams neuronal tissue.

vmBnAIS

Shiva thought the Universe was a brain. God told Vedanshi it’s sentient. I find it hard to imagine that anything this brainlike and this full of electricity isn’t conscious.

If I led Anahata’s Fleet, I’d have an infinite to-do list. There’d be no catching up.

About like my situation now in Drummond’s lab – writing the old man’s grant proposals, doing his research and writing his papers. Always believing I’ll be credited with first authorship this time.

I could leave Drummond without looking back.

But wielding Anahata’s power would make me cruel. I saw how cold Shiva had become in the broadcast from his ring, and I saw the shame in his eyes when he looked at me in my near-death dream.

What if I wound up like him?

Power corrupts. And absolute power…

But if Shiva’s whole Strand is too small to see in a picture of the known Universe, Anahata’s power probably isn’t that unusual beyond the Strand. Maybe being her Captain is ultimately a mid-level thing, like working in Drummond’s lab but without the old parasite.

“Will you lead us?” Anahata asks me again.

“You have to realize,” I tell her, “in my opinion, Shiva had his head up his merry little butt.”

The Fleet gasps collectively.

“No one expects a clone of the Great Shiva,” Anahata says.

“Lucky thing,” James blurts out. “Go for it, Johanna.”

“If I take charge, we’re not a military operation anymore. When orders don’t make logical and spiritual sense, they have to be ignored. Groupthink sucks. I just about puke every time I walk past a TV and smell the programming of American minds.” I stick a finger down my throat hoping to make it the universal gesture for groupthink.

The Fleet is silent.

I take Parvati’s heart-shaped locket out of my pocket and open it. The black lining is so smooth it catches the faint glow of exploding ordinances on the Fleet’s shields.

“Questioning orders would bring chaos,” Anahata says.

“To some degree,” I admit. “But risk builds strength and wisdom into an antifragile species.”

“Risk aversion makes you weak and afraid,” Vedanshi adds.

“Yeah, that,” James piles on.

“I’ve never been thought of as risk-averse,” Anahata says calmly. “If our leader wants chaos, we shall have it in abundance.”

“Chaos!” a voice shouts from the Fleet.

“Isn’t this familiar?” Anahata asks her Fleet. “We thought Shiva’s methods were counterintuitive, but they brought peace. I suspect Johanna’s call for independent judgement will take us beyond peace to a higher place.”

“Someplace higher than Scrotumer!” a voice shouts.

I put Parvati’s locket over my head, pull my hair out of the way and let it rest against my chest.

“I don’t come with guarantees,” I tell them. “I’d be as new to leadership as the Fleet is to questioning orders. We’d be dangerous together.”

“We are dangerous,” Anahata says. “Will you lead us?”

“If every one of you wants me – without exception.”

“We totally want you,” one of them yells and the others join in a cheer that vibrates up into my sinuses.

“Those opposed or undecided, speak up now,” I tell them.

Silence.

I give them time, in case there’s a shy one. If I take this job and all goes well, there should be many times when they doubt me and disagree with my views. I want them to argue from strength, not from the cage of polite silence.

Each second of stillness is a Fibonacci factor slower than the previous second. I’ve finally heard enough of it to believe them.

“OK, then. Thank you for this enormous honor. I accept.”

The cheers go up again and grow louder as Anahata and James join in.

I find I can tolerate only so much praise. “Thank you. I appreciate the love.”

They keep cheering.

“That’s enough, really, thank you.”

Finally they quiet down. I take Maxwell’s phone from his pocket and dial Vaar. It goes to voicemail.

“Hey, Vaar, this is Johanna. Looks like we’ll be working together for a while on the sociopath problem. I’m leaving Drummond’s lab and setting up shop in one of Shiva’s old rooms. Anahata’s decided not to drown me, by the way. You’re going to want to work with me and Anahata, her technology’s off the charts. We’ll talk… Oh, and I’m going to need Shiva’s ring back if you’ve still got it. Anahata’s made me Captain. Talk to me in the River when you get this.” I hang up and put the phone back in Maxwell’s coat, glad he doesn’t carry those rads too close to his nads.

“Here’s the plan,” I tell the Fleet. “Anahata’s going to disarm a billion or so starships in some highly technical way that doesn’t involve killing or injuring anyone.”

“Affirmative,” Anahata says.

“The Fleet’s going to hang close to Earth until Max’s patients are well, no matter how long it takes. If anyone gets bored, come to me. We’ll find something constructive to do. Your problems are now my problems. That’s reality, not altruism on my part. And I’d appreciate it if you all try not to talk negatively about me or Anahata behind our backs. Always speak your minds to our faces. Disagreement is healthy if you keep it out in the open and distance yourself from the emotional component.”

I look at Maxwell. “You’re good with all this, right?”

“Absolutely,” he says.

“You’ll come with me when your kids are all better?”

His eyes focus through me. “You won’t outgrow me, will you?” he asks faintly.

“Of course not, that’s silly.”

“No it’s not,” he says, “If I turn boring and you go after some genius out there, I’m toast. No one could ever replace you, Johanna.”

“Sheesh, Max. I won’t get bored with you. I love you. I always have. We built treehouses together when we were kids.”

“What?”

Should I tell him? Lately I swear I’m seeing Ronny Bradshaw in Maxwell’s eyes. Ronny was my best friend from childhood in Reality. I remember him now because I remembered him in my near-death experience.

“Sorry,” I say to Maxwell, “I’m not making sense. But really, I’ll never leave you. In my heart, we go back forever.” I stretch up and kiss the side of his face near the angle of his square jaw.

The purple explosions are still lighting up the fleet’s shields.

“Anahata, can you do anything about cat allergies?” I ask.

“Well, I can…”

“Of course you can. Listen, I need to pick up a stray cat and throw out some empty cans.”

“Is there a particular cat we’re looking for?” Anahata asks.

“Herpes. Don’t worry, he’ll show up.” As long as there’s food. “Hey, would you kindly disarm Scrotumer’s fleet and take me to Astoria, Oregon? To the South Jetty.”

“Affirmative, Captain. The non-sentient warships have just lost their munitions. Vanished – it’s a miracle.” She laughs. “Would you care to witness Scrotumer’s dismay?”

“Sweet,” James says.

“No thanks,” I tell her, “I can’t seem to find pleasure in the suffering of my enemies. It’s a Christian bias – instilled in me by a year of Church school. Part of me still thinks that loving my persecutors will save my species.”

“Christian,” Anahata says. “It sounds so clean.”

James shakes his head.

“Standard V formation,” Anahata tells the fleet.

Astoria Beach and the South Jetty fill the screen. My little Prius is there in the parking lot, probably reeking of cat food by now.

I lean on Maxwell as we get up and walk to Shiva’s Throne. He helps me take the seat. I scoot over to see if there’s room for him beside me, but there’s not. I think I’m going to get rid of this chair and put a giant couch in here – as long as it doesn’t hurt Anahata’s feelings.

“Ladies,” I say into River, “it’s time the people of Earth realized they’re not alone. Anahata thinks this is a bad idea, but we’re all going to decloak and expose the truth about UFO’s and aliens. Are you with me?”

“Affirmative, Captain,” Anahata says. “If I may. You value Christianity. Other religions, too, I’d imagine. And you should. Disclosure at this primitive stage in a culture’s development tends to topple all forms of fundamentalism, with the exception of the materialistic reductionism that primitive science generates. The loss of heuristic behavioral standards, especially honesty, has been uniformly disastrous in every similar instance.”

“We’ve been over this, Anahata. Is there something else you haven’t told me?”

“No, Captain. It’s a huge risk to your people.”

“What’s your opinion, Radhika?” I ask.

“Decloaking would just be another sighting. Pointless. You need to land in every major city, get out, shake hands, get back in and fly off. Then you have to repeat the tour dozens of times over a period of years so the older ones who can’t accept it die off and their babies grow up thinking it’s normal. Then you’ve got one generation. When they grow up and die, unless you’re still here, any record of you becomes the fabricated lore of the primitives.”

“Sounds familiar,” I tell her. “Some people don’t even believe we made it to the moon.”

“The question is,” another voice says, “how long are you willing to stay engaged and nurse your species through its infancy?” It’s Vaar in the River. “Shiva lost patience with them, but he didn’t have your chromosomes, did he?”

 

THE END

M. Talmage Moorehead

Mirella,

Thank you for your amazingly inspirational, insightful and generous comments. Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I’m doing a meditation course that’s become much more time-consuming than I’d anticipated. It helped me miss my deadline (Aug 27th, 2016) for finishing this “first draft.” I’ve still got 2 hours of meditation to do tonight. The course goes on for 17 weeks!

Now for the second draft.

I’m thinking I’ll make this blog-story more traditional with some or all of this…

  1. Change to past tense.
  2. Create an “inciting incident” that happens in the context of Johanna’s normal world and points to the plot theme (protecting James from all the things that go wrong for him), and points to the “B” theme (forgiving herself for killing Moody so she can feel worthy of Maxwell’s love).
  3. Bring in Scrotumer sooner, maybe at the beginning somehow.
  4. Get rid of almost all the pictures and links.
  5. Get rid of 50-80% of the times where Johanna goes off thinking about complex non-fictional stuff.
  6. Get rid of most or all of the non-fictional quotes at the beginnings of chapters.
  7. Get rid of most of the references, lyrics and links to songs.
  8. Focus on creating more conflict in most of the chapters.
  9. Focus on expanding the visual scenery in most scenes.

Your insight and brilliant ideas on these things would be appreciated. Thank you so much for your emotional support and guidance!

Talmage

Spira,

Thank you for inspiring me with your bold life and art. Thank you for letting me use the pictures of your great artwork and the ones you took in Egypt and India.

We’ve both left the traditional healing professions to find our callings. It means so much to journey with you in this realm of creativity. Give your wife a hug from me. 🙂

Talmage

Thank you, all my readers for hanging in there with me through this weird story. If anyone who’s made it through most of this thing – gasp – would like to be a beta reader or help me in some other way, please let me know. Here’s my email: cytopathology@gmail.com.

All my best,

Talmage

 

 

 


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.

PIA08389

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.

cuneiform

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.

PIA17652color_690x690

“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.

45894-skulls

“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.

11b

“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.

EEG_3D

“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

The orange words are links, of course, outbound to some fun and/or important stuff. I’d recommend you check them out if you haven’t. Please come back, though.

This story begins here as a scrolling document.

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On the other end of the junk mail spectrum, however, please read my mercifully brief ebook on writing fiction, especially if you’re fairly new to writing. It could save you tons of time heading in the wrong direction. (That’s what I did back in the day – read the wrong books and developed time-consuming writing habits that limit my efficiency to this day.) The inglorious thing’s called Writing Meaningful Page-Turners. (An email address is necessary to download it. If you stay on the list I hope to write to you someday. I keep intending to figure out how that software works, but I doubt you’re anxious for more email, so it’s a wash. Still, if you’re a writer, you know that your email collection is vital to your success. So please take your own email collection process much more seriously than I have up to this point. Someday I’ll regret my lax attitude.)

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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)

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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.

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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.

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