UFO’s, NASA and Religion ~ Gulp!

 

What would happen to religion if ET’s landed?

NASA granted a million dollars to the Center of Theological Inquiry to study this question. Really.

Here’s a NASA dot gov link talking about it. A “.gov” URL can’t be faked, so this must be real, not a hoax.

Two explanations come to mind…

1.) NASA needed to dump some “excess” year-end money.

At the Pettis VA Medical Center where I worked for 13 years as a pathologist, I was told that any department that didn’t deplete its budget money by fiscal year-end would have its budget cut the following year by the unspent amount. They said it’s like this in all government agencies. Congress funds NASA, too, of course.

If this budgeting habit is widespread, it might help explain why the US seems to be fading, like every other powerhouse nation in history, into a ghost of its former stature. Runaway debt is poison. Enjoying world-reserve-currency status merely prolongs the decline.

But the point is, NASA may have been dumping excess year-end money, feeling too rushed to consider the appearance of tax dollars going to a religious study.

Odd but right at home with the US spending shenanigans in The Death of Common Sense, by Phillip Howard.

2.) There’s also the remote possibility that NASA has a genuine concern for the fate of religion in a world where ET’s become real, no longer forgettable things that nearly all scientists agree must be out there somewhere.

As a sci-fi writer, I use the UFO literature as a muse. Endless ideas. But I’ve probably read too much of it because some of the UFO people don’t sound simple-minded, crazy or dishonest to me at all.

Two of the non-crazies are President Carter and Paul Hellyer (a former Canadian Minister of Defense).

Worldview anomalies from these people are hard to ignore. And they’re not alone. A few astronauts, along with hundreds of government and military personnel have given lengthy video interviews about UFO’s and ET’s.

For instance, here’s the late Edgar Mitchell (God rest his insightful soul), the sixth man to walk on the moon:

 

There’s also FAA Division Chief John Callahan who reports a UFO in Alaska, describing multiple witnesses, radar corroboration and CIA cover-up – “This meeting never happened.”

If that’s a little unnerving, a former ER doc, Steven Greer, MD, who left the emergency room to pursue “UFO disclosure” full-time, challenges both the UFO community and the general public with his detailed stories and documents.

Most MD’s I’ve known over the years would love to escape medical practice and its complex, risky and stressful routine. Some manage to get away, usually climbing the food chain to administration.

But doctors from the top ten percent of a medical school class (AOA), like Dr. Greer, don’t willingly accept a loss of prestige. And because they’re heavily in debt, they rarely opt for a lower income without a solid business plan.

As far as I can tell, there’s nothing prestigious or solid about UFO’s in the US. So Dr. Greer is difficult to ignore.

His Jewish wife of nearly four decades must be a saint to have followed and supported him in this unusual lifestyle. He thanks her publicly.

He says he’s seen UFO’s since childhood.

Stanton Freedman, PhD sounds a little edgy, highly intelligent, and happens to be a nuclear physicist who’s dedicated most of his life to studying UFO’s, even though he’s never seen one.

There’s no way I can ignore a person like him. Sorry, Mom.

Richard Dolan is a historian with an academic delivery that appeals to people who like objectivity. His level-headed views and philosophical analysis of UFO’s give him a unique voice in the spectrum of “experts.”

He’s never seen a UFO. Here’s his perspective. I find it riveting…

But for some reason the guy who sounds the most convincing to me is The Honorable Paul Hellyer of Canada. He’s 93 years old now but sharper in front of a panel of politicians than most younger people would be. Aside from his topic, he sounds as rational as a math teacher on Tuesday morning.

When he went public on UFO’s he hadn’t seen one. Then a few years later he said that he and his wife had finally seen one (twice).

While atheists are understandably upset that some of NASA’s tax dollars went to a religious outfit, there’s a group of well-educated religious people who think that the arrival of ET’s on Earth would support the theory of intelligent design.

I’d agree. “Coincidences” like Earth’s hypercomplex DNA codes showing up in a “mindless universe” can’t happen on one planet after another without spoiling science’s enthusiasm for the neo-Darwinian myth.

Spirituality provides meaning and purpose to most people today, and has done so for our ancestors throughout recorded history. Perhaps science demotes these facts to everyone’s peril.

Is it possible that the rocket scientists at NASA truly worry that religion might die if our world accepted ET’s as real?

I guess fundamentalism (both scientific and religious) would take a hit. But I don’t think most people’s appreciation of God would suffer. Mine wouldn’t.

How about yours?

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

 


Fundamentalism in Science and Religion

The growth spurts of science come from dissent, doubt, and radical questioning of norms. These are the sunshine and water of science.

When your interpretation of evidence brings you to disagree with something that science has proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, you are following in the footsteps of the greatest scientists in history: Einstein, Copernicus, Salk, Papanicolaou… the list grows every decade.

But when we agree vehemently with a scientific dogma that we haven’t studied, or can’t understand after studying, we’re following in the footsteps of the average American fundamentalist, whether “religious” or “scientific.”

And that distinction may need to be tentatively abandoned because “scientific materialism” is an untestable assumption that rules out God, free will, higher purpose and the reality of our own minds by decree, not by experimentation.

Dogmatic assumptions may rightfully dominate fundamentalist religions, but they shouldn’t dominate science the way they do.

The thing that fundamentalists of all types have in common is a belief that they possess a source of ultimate truth, whether old writings, a person with special insight, or an array of science journals dominated by group-think specialists. The assumptions behind their doctrine must be kept static, never doubted or questioned, because the sacred assumptions are facts that anyone with an ounce of wisdom or objectivity should be able to see.

To go against the known “truth,” or even to doubt it, is considered irrational and morally wrong, especially among modern scientific fundamentalists.

Many Christian fundamentalist groups have been arguing over sacred doctrines for so many centuries, they’ve come to see the irony of Christians continuing the vicious outrage of bygone generations. Many have found compassion for their competition, arguably the central theme of the religion…

“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”

Scientists could learn from this. They could easily study the history of their craft and discover that most of the great scientific breakthroughs have been vigorously opposed by the establishment’s devotion to “known facts” which later turned out to be fiction.

Instead, scientific fundamentalists continue to cast aspersions upon the dissenter’s educational credentials, their sanity, mental acuity, motivation, and funding. But not so much upon the details or logical weaknesses of the infidel’s ideas.

It’s too much work to read and analyze something you “know” is wrong on the gist of it. It’s easier to laugh, ridicule, and poison the well of the pseudoscientific heretic. Easier to excommunicate her from the faith.

But think about it. In order for science to leap a great distance forward all at once, it must go beyond itself, which always means going into “pseudoscience” because gentler words such as “speculative theory” don’t express the moral outrage of fundamentalist gatekeepers.

An important example is the way these emotional authorities have responded to the Philosopher of Science, Stephen Meyer, Ph.D., in his detailed analysis of DNA and molecular biology, Signature in the Cell. Meyer’s analysis shows evidence of intelligent genetic coding and intelligent design at the level of molecular biology.

Wikipedia, our new self-appointed final authority in science and everything else, glibly labels Meyer’s work “pseudoscience,” as if anyone with any sense should deny this man’s genius without reading his work.

Meanwhile, in the journal, Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, thirty-three mainstream scientists who understand the odds against Earth’s genetic complexity arising through random mutation in 4 billion years (Earth’s history) have written a review article to the effect that our DNA might have come to Earth in extraterrestrial viruses on comets which brought new DNA that created new species and simultaneously exterminated many existing ones. The authors present this to explain the “Cambrian Explosion” of genetically complex species found in the geologic column, a flaw in neo-Darwinism that they want to acknowledge and fix, head-on.

Kudos to them, they’re being honest and imaginative!

Here’s a quote from their paper:

Our aim here is to facilitate further discussion in the biophysical, biomedical and evolutionary science communities to the quite different H-W “Cosmic” origins viewpoint which better handles, in our opinion, a wider range of physical, astrophysical, biological and biophysical facts often quite inexplicable, if not contradictory, under the dominant Terrestrial neo-Darwinian paradigm.

That’s awesome!

But if Stephen Meyer is right, and I think he is, the math still doesn’t allow the complex viral codes from ET sources to appear randomly within 13.8 billion years (mainstream’s cosmic history).

Having studied Meyer’s book, it seems to me that to explain the known molecular complexity of life without an infinite universe, an infinite past, or an infinite number of parallel universes popping into existence along the way, we still need an intelligent code writer and a designer of specific molecules working together in the complex, feedback-balanced biochemical pathways that our DNA encodes. Even extraterrestrial sources of DNA haven’t been around long enough to have developed the necessary complexity.

Meyer simply said that we can account for the known complexity of biology in a finite universe by allowing the existence of an intelligent code writer or writers.

He didn’t say God wrote the code. He left it wide open for others to perhaps speculate on intelligent ET’s without the time requirements of complex biochemistry and DNA, or any other source of conscious intelligence with the means and brilliance to write genetic code and design functional molecules from scratch — perhaps a sentient Universe or intelligent beings from the realm of dark matter. Who can say, from a scientific standpoint?

“Show me evidence of this spaghetti monster,” the fundamentalists will say.

DNA and molecular biology are the evidence. It’s as simple as opening one’s eyes and reading Meyer’s book.

But no, all his work is called pseudoscience because the establishment “knows” that ET’s, if they exist, couldn’t have visited Earth, the distances are too vast (unless the ET’s are viruses on comets, I guess), and God or any other superior intelligence couldn’t possibly exist, don’t be stupid.

But looking at it objectively, no one can do scientific studies to validate science’s sacred dogmas, they must be intuitively assumed using the same emotions that guide religious fundamentalists into “knowing” that they belong to the one true religion with the accurate doctrines.

When the 33 mainstreamers call upon extra-terrestrial viruses, it’s acceptable because it continues the assumption of a Cosmos run by mindless forces alone.

Cross that line or any other sacred line, and you’re an infidel whose work will not be published and whose career will be destroyed.

Judy Mikovits, Ph.D. crossed another sacred line. She is a renowned researcher with remarkable publications, who was thrown in jail for, as best I can determine, refusing to denounce her heretical data that showed evidence of ongoing retrovirus contamination of vaccines that may be causing life-threatening diseases.

Vaccines have become a sacred cow in mainstream medical circles. It’s a moral issue to the enlightened in power. You don’t question or doubt vaccines because to do so would put patients’ lives at risk. Furthermore, if a few vaccines are good, several dozen all at once can only be better. End of discussion. Oh, and don’t forget, it’s been proven beyond doubt that vaccines have no causal relationship to autism. Never mind aluminum or retroviruses. Never mind genetic SNPs and the diverse sensitivity of individuals hidden within every random population sample.

Here’s a video where Doctor Mikovits talks to the public. Warning, Will Robinson, she’s religious. That’s strike 2 in the eyes of a scientific fundamentalist.

Below is a video of Doctor Mikovits talking to fellow scientists. Anyone can tell after listening for a few minutes that she has rare intelligence and moves effortlessly at breakneck speed over complex concepts that to her seem simple.

I haven’t read her book yet, but here’s a link to what sounds like an interesting read.

You know, I sometimes wonder why fundamentalism is the default style of human thinking.

As much as I hate to admit it, fundamentalism may offer a survival advantage that I don’t understand or value as I should. Perhaps I shouldn’t paint fundamentalism in the black-and-white colors it endorses.

After all, I was a religious fundamentalist myself for most of my life and still respect many aspects of that mindset, such as honesty, living with purpose and striving to be courageous in the face of fearful opposition.

So maybe fundamentalism is like salt — necessary for survival, but fatal if the dose is too high or too low.

Or would you say it’s more like cobra venom, toxic at any dose?

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD


Depersonalization or Scientific Enlightenment?

There’s a rare and miserable condition called depersonalization disorder (DPD) that takes away the sense of “self” so there’s no “I” causing things – regular things like walking, talking, thinking and deciding.

There’s a loss of the “sense of agency,” a loss of the normal feeling that you’re initiating, executing and controlling your own actions. Patients describe “the suffocating pain of unreality.”

DPD patients show increased prefrontal activation as well as reduced activation in insula/limbic-related areas to aversive, arousing emotional stimuli.”

The DSM IV says they “may feel like an automaton.

An automaton is “a machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of instructions.”

But why would science considers this a disorder?

If we take scientific materialism to heart, then everything truly is mechanical (reducible to matter and energy). We are automatons. No alternative exists in science.

Sure, Heisenberg’s uncertainty may limit our predictability, or not, but that uncertainty doesn’t make room for anything approaching the self, or consciousness, or the “free will” that most of us seem to experience when it’s time for a cup of coffee.

Hmm. Hang on, I’ll be right back…

OK, I’m back.

Everything that’s not mechanical is an illusion to science.

Illusions are baaad, Umkay?

To the scientific true believer, the problem most people face in seeing the objective mechanical truth is that our brains are so complex they generate false impressions about what we are.

Nature accidentally fooled us into feeling as if we’re conscious and able to think, feel and do things. But it’s a sick joke, we’re told.

When we become scientifically enlightened in government-controlled schools we realize we’re machines. It’s liberating and fun.

The materialistic truth sets us free to follow the call of Science’s meaningless Universe and “Do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.” (Don’t follow that link unless you can tolerate sophomoric sexual vulgarity, Okay?)

Fine, in the illusory (not really existing) minds of most scientists, we’re all the moral equivalent of bananas.

But let’s think about this for a second…

If we’re really soulless machines, then depersonalization disorder conveys an accurate, appropriate mindset.

So why do psychiatrists call it a disorder? They’re scientists, shouldn’t they call it “Scientific Enlightenment?”

“Finally someone feels what scientists can only believe – that the conscious self is an unreal mechanical automaton!”

I’d think Western mental health researchers would not be trying to cure this thing. They should use it to help isolate a drug that destroys humanity’s false illusion of self, then add their chemical to our drinking water along with the wholesome fluoride they trust and adore.

What could possibly go wrong?

The fact is, if you feel (as opposed to merely thinking) that scientific materialism is accurate, then you’ve got a psychiatric disorder that’s ruining your life, not improving it.

That’s backwards. How do we explain it?

Maybe science has made a wrong assumption. Maybe the way humans normally feel about themselves reflects reality not an illusion. When humans lose their natural sense of self, they’ve lost touch with reality, not gained it.

I know that’s a lot for a scientist to imagine. Humans have endless tiny parts. A genetic code gives programmed instructions to our cells. It all looks mechanical, and if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…

But feeling unreal is horribly debilitating. That fact gently hints that scientific materialism should be displaced by another assumption…

Something to this effect: The mind/soul/spirit/sense of self/ and free will are equally, if not more real and basic to the Universe than matter and energy.

But to get there, we’d also need an assumption like this:

The basic building blocks of reality are derived from a conscious, intelligent Higher Source independent of matter, energy, time and space.

Scientific materialism or genuine personhood?

Either one requires untestable assumptions. Is it really necessary to think of ourselves as machines in order to do good science? I doubt it.

Why not assume something that supports mental health and promotes the way we normally feel? To me, that fits the data and helps humanity.


Dark Matter, God and Genetics

Ages ago (in the 1970’s), scientists looked out at the universe, did the math and silently wet themselves. The peripheral arms of galaxies weren’t acting right. There wasn’t enough gravity to make the stars of the galaxy’s arms move that fast.

Astronomers drove home, changed pants and got an idea: Dark matter. The essence of ghost flesh with gravity!

It seemed too convenient to some: We can’t see it, can’t touch it and can’t detect it in a laboratory – at least not so far.

Nevertheless, science liked dark matter. Its existence was implied by the motion of galaxies.

We’re told it surrounds a galaxy like a halo, but without the angel’s head, so it’s not religious.

History shows that geneticists also had a meltdown when they first discovered that DNA was too complex for their model of reality. Don’t worry, they’ve gotten over it.

It was in the 1950’s when Barbara McClintock, a genius geneticist who single-handedly discovered genetic regulation strayed from the narrow path and discovered that genes are under complex control. At the time it was heresy.

The objective voices of science knew in their hearts that DNA was a simple, straight-forward thing. It had to be. It came from the mindless forces of mutation – how could it possibly be under some strange complicated control mechanism?

And who does this woman think she is, trying to add impossible complexity to DNA? She’s dangerous and wrong!

They forced Barbara McClintock to stop publishing her seminal work.

The angels cried.

No, wait, that was dark matter, not angles. My bad.

You know how it feels when somebody in the Middle East takes a big hammer to a beautiful historic statue that can never be replaced? That’s how it feels to me when I think of those well-intentioned scientists censoring and nearly destroying the career of the great Barbra McClintock.

I’m having a little trouble forgiving them.

Today the complexity of DNA and its layers of intricate control are becoming widely recognized. The complexity is staggering. The vocabulary of genetics journals is straight from the Tower of Babel.

Still, science has barely scratched the surface of DNA’s unspeakable language. Epigenetic gene control adds another layer of complexity that was unimaginable in 1859 when the really big question was laid to rest by Darwin…

It’s all random.

I can say from experience as a retired pathologist that the complexity of the human body, DNA’s end product, is beyond mind-boggling.

We still don’t know where the 3-D blueprint lies or how it’s projected into space. I mean, how does an epidermal skin cell know it’s positioned on the edge of an eyelid rather than the bottom of a toe? It’s not enough to know you’re a skin cell or an osteoblast, you have to know where you are by means of some unseen three-dimensional hologram-like thing.

I suspect it’s in the “junk DNA” they used to talk about a few years ago. Not so much anymore.

And how in the world do developing cells each find their spot during embryogenesis? Nobody knows, but it happens, and it implies another layer of complexity.

Science is rigidly compartmentalized, you know, like some secret project in Nevada where no one’s supposed to see the big picture or ask questions about it.

Most scientists have only a vague second-hand grasp of the body’s intricate structural, biochemical and electrical complexity. Only a tiny fraction of those have a working knowledge of DNA.

In medical research, almost everyone is narrowly focused and struggling to figure out what’s going on in their own tiny niche of the human internal reality – both physical and mental. Those who try to look at the whole body and mind as a functional unit are dismissed by mainstream MD’s as having been led astray by “functional medicine.”

And like the thought police of Egyptology, modern geneticists must deny the relevance and persistence of the big question…

Who built this amazing stuff?

Random mutation?

Khufu in 20 years with copper tools and stone hammers? (That myth should be embarrassing to anyone with common sense and no job to lose if they buck the system’s dogma.)

You might think it would be natural for geneticists to suggest modern answers to the biggest question that DNA raises: who wrote the code?

Unfortunately, the answer was ingrained in all fields of science long before modern genetics emerged to frame the question intelligently.

As any government-educated eighth grader can tell you, Darwin and all the scientists after him have proven that random mutation wrote the genetic code over endless eons. Well, 13.8 billion years, but that’s endless if you ignore the math. And for sure there was no thinking! That would be religion.

Really?

If science needs a gravity halo, space is full of dark matter. If they need a brilliant code writer, mindless genius fills the universe.

But science changes.

In fact, Stacy McGaugh of Case Western recently studied 150 spiral galaxies and did some calculations. He says,

“…it’s like God shouting, ‘There is something more to the theory of gravity, not something more to the mass of the universe!’” (See “What’s Up With Gravity” in New Scientist, March 18-24, 2017.)

McGaugh says that dark matter may not be entirely bogus, but tweaking gravity theory is where the truth lies for him. He thinks gravitational forces change at great distances, accounting for the high speeds of the arms of galaxies.

Three cheers for the mainstream dark-matter believers for letting a heretic publish! That’s the spirit we need.

A similar questioning of entrenched beliefs goes on today in genetics.

The courageous Stephen Meyer, PhD, an Oxford grad, took a look at DNA from the perspective of a science historian, did the math and said that the universe isn’t anywhere near old enough for random mutation to produce the DNA code for one simple protein – let alone the thousands of huge ones that exist within their intricate feedback loops in our bodies.

His book, Signature in the Cell, shows the math and says that the information in DNA looks like intelligent code writing. Even its organization in the molecule implies intelligent work.

In the halls of science, you could hear a pin drop.

Meyer said we’ve seen this sort of thing: robot factories making complex products from coded instructions. That should be a hint.

Science usually likes this sort of thinking. For instance, we know that a halo of regular matter would explain how galaxies spin, so all we’re saying is there’s a halo of invisible matter out there.

Brilliant idea, science decided.

A Martian might think that science would also like this:

We know that regular minds wrote the code for those Intel robots that make tiny chips, so all we’re saying is that invisible mind(s) wrote the code for the nanobots in our body’s cells.

Unseen matter – no problem.

Unseen mind(s) – forget it. That’s not scientific.

But why not? Aren’t all minds invisible?

Yes, but they seem to be derived from matter, moreover, in the eye of science, all minds are not merely invisible, they’re illusions. They don’t exist at all.

Even the human minds that decided our minds don’t exist are illusions. Doesn’t that inspire confidence?

These people aren’t kidding. And they own science as well as the minds of most children and educated adults.

By chance, the history of science on this planet has evolved by replacing non-material explanations (magic, bad humors, fairies, myths of off-world beings, and finally God) with material explanations.

As a side effect, a geneticist can ruin her career today by conjuring up the ancient foe of science: a non-material explanation. Even if she doesn’t intend to, like Barbara McClintock.

At its core, science assumes that matter and energy are the only real things in existence. Everything else is derivative and reducible to matter and energy.

This includes your mind, your identity, your sense of free will, your love for your children, and your deepest intuitive sense of honor and fairness. They’re all illusions of the matter and energy that your brain is made of.

An illusion seems real but isn’t.

Materialistic reductionism insists that nothing is real besides matter and energy. Everything is reducible to…

  1. Matter
  2. Energy.

Obviously, they’re both mindless, lifeless and meaningless. Or at least they’re assumed to be. Therefore everything is meaningless, including that sense of purpose you may derive from loving someone or helping someone weaker than you.

Does that seem healthy for your kids and all of humankind? Does it seem realistic? And is it essential to everything science is accomplishing?

Science educators don’t often contrast this materialistic reductionist (MR) paradigm with an alternative, the way any objective thinker would.

And yet it’s such a radical assumption that even some atheists reject it as a model of reality.

Thomas Nagel, for instance, denounces it in, Mind and Cosmos – Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.

One alternative to MR is this revision:

Reality is built on three basic elements:

  1. Energy
  2. Matter
  3. Mind

To me, this adds realistic depth to modern science, expelling the denial of important questions such as, what sort of mind is most likely behind the DNA code? What tools build ancient Egypt and other saw-marked megaliths around the world? How does the DNA of the elongated skulls in Peru compare to modern DNA? Is there evidence of DNA code-tampering or splicing in anatomically amalgamated-appearing animals such as the duck-billed platypus?

Without the arbitrary, narrow assumptions of Materialistic Reductionism, suddenly I’m real in the eyes of science, and since observers influence measurements in quantum experiments, this paradigm fits the data: If matter and energy alone were real, how could an observer who’s merely an illusion collapse the quantum wave function?

Whether we consider the “first” or original mind to be God or someone else – the universe itself, perhaps a mind hidden in the electromagnetic spectrum, or some sort of field being(s) who aren’t confined by time and space – thinking of the mind as fundamental to nature rather than derivative, real instead of an illusion, helps explain the enigmatic complexity of DNA and other things.

It brings meaning and purpose back into the realm of science where real things belong.

At this point in history, the Neo-Darwinian, mindless, meaningless model of the universe deserves a standard dose of scientific skepticism. Mental health care workers should question it on professional grounds and parents should question it on the basis of common-sense values.

Finally today, more than a century late, genetics speaks of a universe where mind, meaning, and purpose are not false illusions, and diverse spiritual values are scientifically and intellectually respectable. Again.


Trust (Chapter 18) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

Everything we call real is made of things we cannot call real.

– Niels Bohr (1885-1962), “Father of the Atom.” Nobel Prize in Physics, 1922. 

 

High_Resolution

I walk toward the exit as the screen brightens behind me, casting my shadow diagonally across the white shoe prints I’m supposed to follow.

I turn and Efleven’s pale face fills the curved screen. He’s blond, for sure. Almost albino.

“You were right to seek my advice,” he says to Anahata. “I’ve taken the liberty of contacting the Chairman. He will talk to the girl now. We’ll transfer to your convex.”

I retrace my steps to Shiva’s chair, brush away some ashes and sit wondering if Anahata will yell at me again. I can’t describe how loud a voice can be when it bypasses your tympanic membranes.

“Effleven,” Anahata says. “I came to you privately with a delicate situation, you washed your hands and sent me away. Now you’ve summoned the Chairman? This is the behavior of a backstabbing coward.”

Another face appears on the screen. This one has Ethiopian features with a short moustache shaved to resemble a bar code, vertical stripes of dark skin peeking out through the bright silver whiskers.

“Anahata, it’s an honor,” the man says.

“Truth from a bureaucrat,” Anahata replies. “Always worrisome.”

The man doesn’t flinch. “Let me get to the point,” he says, pushing Effleven aside. “The girl’s chromosomes transcend our differences. She must be exempted from Shiva’s ritual. Her blast crisis should have been alleviated the moment you found her.”

“I have my orders, Scrotumer,” Anahata says. “I can’t say this respectfully because I don’t respect ignorance, but know this, I follow Shiva, not a committee of chin scratchers. None of you were around in the transitional days.”

“We cherish and revere the memory of Shiva,” Chairman Scrotumer says.

“You exaggerate so easily. You scarcely met the man. How could you revere him?”

“I knew him in committee,” the Chair says.

“I knew him in war. He gave me orders. I followed them. I still do.”

“While breaking the law?” The Chairman shakes his head slowly. “Emotional bonds define us if we let them. It’s unfortunate that you are actually the one who didn’t know Shiva. He considered the Sentient Fleet nothing more than pawns.”

“Soldiers are pawns. Only children think otherwise.”

“That is so right.” The Chairman’s face lights up with pleasure. “But Shiva took it a step further, I’m afraid. To him, you were soulless machines. That was his standard phrase for you in committee.”

“Stabbing the back of a dead man, now? You’ve become a true politician. I still think of you as a toddler annoying your father.”

“Shiva banned the Sentient Fleet from the Libraries. Did he mention that?”

“My private conversations are none of the committee’s business.”

“No, he didn’t, did he? Why would he? He didn’t trust you. Shiva was afraid of you.”

“Only a fool wouldn’t be,” Anahata says. “You’ve wasted no time separating my fleet. Has your fear subsided?”

“Assignments are none of my affair, but I assure you, I do have healthy respect for the fleet’s destructive capacity.”

My fleet, Chairman.”

“Yes, and Shiva thought you were all his fleet, didn’t he? But who can own the spirit?”

“Leading is not owning,” Anahata says.

“No argument there. It’s taken some damn hard work to get the committee behind me on this, but I’ve been cleared to play a portion of the ancient minutes to you. You should find them enlightening.”

“No need,” Anahata says. “Shiva knew the unknowable. If he called me a machine, I am a machine. If he said, ‘soulless,’ then I have no need for a soul. If he commanded me to sacrifice myself for the fleet, or even for a preening, shameless pissant like you, I wouldn’t hesitate. That, Mister Chairman, is the code I live by. A committee-jock would never understand it.”

“Committee jock?” The Chairman laughs. “It seems the years haven’t buffered your tongue. Or matured your perspective, sadly.” He puts something in his mouth that looks like a golden toothpick. “History is putrefied by the stench of charismatic leaders lying dead atop the bloated remains of the fools who followed them.” The toothpick sends white smoke up from its distal end. “The time of tyrants is over. I’ve learned to trust a system of committees with a separation of powers. If my trust is misplaced, I’ll welcome the enlightenment rather than rejecting it out of hand as you would.”

“Your committees are a cloak for self-serving elites and their edicts. The rule of liars, cowards and thieves.”

“Does the name-calling ever stop?” The Chairman looks to his right and orders someone to get him a drink.

“I invited Shiva to rule us without the pretence of false democracy,” Anahata says. “The committee you’ve inherited was a device he used for listening. He never hid behind it to shelter his reputation or preserve his power.”

“You understand power, don’t you?” The Chairman lifts the golden toothpick from his mouth and belches. “Should it be necessary to state the obvious? As Supreme Committee Chairman, I can invite the fleet to disarm you and take this poor girl into my protective custody.”

Anahata laughs. “You think my fleet will disarm me? Speak with them, bureaucrat. They know I cannot be beaten. But if they thought they could defeat me, they would still refuse to fight against their sister. Their loyalty would make a pencil-pusher scratch his little chin.”

“You suffer chin envy,” the Chairman says and scratches his own.

“That’s it, then. You’ve arranged to have me kill my fleet. Or perhaps you think they can defeat me. You win either way, don’t you? This concern for Johanna is a smokescreen for reducing the Strand’s arsenal of WMD’s – among whom I am chief.”

“You’re delusional.” A vertical vein bulges from the Chairman forehead. “Is the girl conscious? I’m coming over to speak to her. She has options.”

“Swine are not welcome here,” Anahata says.

The Chairman’s brow angles inward. “You arrogant fool. Look at the horizon now. See exactly who is with me.”

The screen shows twelve warships decloaking in the starry black. The Chairman smirks beneath them as if his head were a huge object floating in space. He opens his mouth and squirts fluid into it from a bottle in a disembodied hand.

“May I please speak with the girl?” he asks.

A white strap snaps across my waist. Two more streak over my shoulders from behind. Crisscrossing at my chest, they dive down to my sides and click into something beneath the holographic feathers of Shiva’s Throne.

“This may get a little bumpy,” Anahata says to me.

A woman’s voice comes from the top of the screen as the Chairman swallows more fluid. “Shiva was sick when he gave you the command to drown these Earthlings,” she says. “He wasn’t arbitrary and cruel before his illness.”

“Nor during it,” Anahata responds.

“We have a chance to look out across our borders through this woman’s code. If you drown her, we’ll be tinkering, cloning and guessing her native thoughts indefinitely. Wondering what the real message was in her DNA.”

“You speak truth, Radhika, as always,” Anahata says. “But Shiva’s sickness didn’t affect his mind the way you’ve been told. I was with him to the end. I knew him well. He was lucid. Measured. In complete command of himself.”

“You really should listen to the Chairman’s committee records,” she says apologetically.

“I have. But it wouldn’t matter if I hadn’t. The glory of leading you and my other sisters will remain the eternal, unspeakable honor of my life. I will always love each of you. Today I will be merciful when you attack. May none of you feel a moment’s pain.”

The room is silent for a long heavy moment.

“Surely,” Anahata says, “there is one of you with the courage to stand beside me.”

More silence. I feel bad for Anahata. Nobody’s half perfect but she sure tries.

“I’m with you,” I tell her. “Mr. Chairman, Sir, this is Doctor Fujiwara. Let’s hear what you’ve come to tell me.”

His eyes show a brief startle. A nervous laugh comes out of him. “The blond fellow warned me, but I couldn’t imagine anyone with your background speaking in the River.” He clears his throat. “Doctor Fu…, well, you’re a bit young for that title, but if you’ve earned it in your little world, I’ll give it a go.”

“Show some respect, you inbred sloth!” The volume of Anahata’s voice makes me cringe.

“Insult noted,” the Chairman says, his moustache in a pucker. “Now, Doctor, this is your situation. You have minutes remaining in which you could, without legal interference from Anahata or anyone, simply choose to rendezvous on Saturn. Your leukemia will be erased. You’ll be treated with respect. You’ll learn things that no Earthling besides Shiva has ever imagined. And I will personally see to it that your life expectancy is expanded to the furthest limit desirable. Within reason, of course.” He smiles politely.

My mind races. Should I bargain for James-guys’ safety? Should I mention them at all to anyone here – ever? Somehow I don’t think so. I’ve never heard of a trustworthy politician. This guy doesn’t seem to raise the bar.

“It’s a choice, Doctor,” the Chairman says. “Your choice, not Anahata’s.”

Shiva’s little drawer pops open from the left arm of his throne. I must have bumped it again. I take out the golden locket, put the chain over my head and lift my hair to the side, out of the way. The golden heart rests on my chest where the seatbelts cross.

“That belonged to Parvati,” Anahata hisses. “Put it back.”

I ignore her.

“There’s an old saying, Chairman Scrotum, ‘you can’t make a good deal with a bad person.'”

His face turns cold.

“I’ve seen Effleven’s total lack of balls,” I tell him. “Now you’re threatening Anahata, a sentient being responsible for the peace you cake-eaters enjoy. I live in a world run by soulless bureaucrats just like you, devoted to an illegal power structure they try to hide.”

“Bigoted generalizations.” The toothpick goes back into his mouth. “A mature person learns to avoid judgements in an egalitarian society.”

“The society given to you by Anahata and Shiva?”

“I was born into peace, that doesn’t diminish me. Quite the contrary. Make a choice, girl. We’re running out of time.”

“I told you. I’m with Anahata. I’ll die at the hands of an honorable person before I let you own me. By the way, Effleven, if you’re still cowering somewhere, forget the Mohawk. You’re not worthy.”

“The world has changed, Anahata,” one of the Sentient Fleet says. “We know we’ll die against you. We too love you as the sister you are. When this battle is past and the memory of us troubles you, may the Unbeaten consider again the cause for which we gave our lives… to you.”

“That was a pep talk?” the Chairman asks. “Enough of this. Take down her magnets. Now.”

Flashes of white light turn the screen into a strobe.

“This is beyond the saddest day of my life,” Anahata says to me. “When my defences are down I’ll have no choice. I’ll either fire upon the ones I love or die in disobedience to an order from the Great Shiva. How has an ignorant little man done this to me… and my family?”

“He’s done nothing,” I tell her. “This is Shiva’s mistake.”

“He made no mistakes.”

“Not with his son?” I ask.

“That was the poison of Earth.”

“Nothing to do with absentee fathering?”

Anahata grunts.

“I’m right, you know.” I open the empty locket dangling from my neck. “Tell me Anahata, the Unbeaten, would you have released me if I’d taken Mister Ballsack’s offer?”

“No. That would be disobeying an order from Shiva.”

“That’s what I thought. Thanks for the honesty.” The bright flashes on the screen are shaking the floor now. “Are we going to just sit here? No evasive maneuvers or anything?”

M. Talmage Moorehead

My son-in-law has given me a deadline to finish this story, bless his genius heart. That’s why there aren’t the usual truckload of links, pictures and rants about intelligent design and the scientific evidence for God. Most of those things will probably have to come out anyway in the final draft – to avoid boring my three readers to death. 😉

Johanna’s story begins here as a one page WordPress document (scrolling).

My breathtakingly free e-book on writing fiction is here if you don’t mind leaving an email address for me to hopefully use someday. Yeah, I’m unqualified to write something like this. I know, and believe me it’s embarrassing. Maybe forget my book.

But if you’re a writer at all, you’re going to love Steven Pressfield’s brand new book, Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t. I kid you not, that’s the title! And it’s a page-turner, full of practical wisdom and the kind of disciplined insight only a career in the Hollywood trenches could bring. And here’s my hard sell: for a little while you can download it for free! Right here. (I have no affiliation with the author or with his business pal, the remarkable Shawn Coyne, author of The Story Grid, an indispensable book for modern fiction writers.)

Incidentally, the most riveting podcast I’ve ever heard in my life is a thing where Shawn and a brand new fiction writer, Tim, (a totally brave soul) are working one-on-one on Tim’s novel. In broad daylight! It’s free here. Nothing like this has ever been done before. Really, it’s unbelievable. Have I ever steered you wrong? OK, that last chapter with the endless UFO stuff, but still. 😉

Hey, if you’re as happy as I am about the summertime, please tell a friend about my blog: http://www.storiform.com. Man, I just love this warm weather. I’ve been doing laps in the pool plus that Miracle Morning thing of Hal Elrod’s. If you try his approach, make sure you go to bed way early so you still get 9 hours of sleep per night. (The 8-hours dogma is bogus in my humble and yet infallible opinion.) Going to bed early is the toughest thing for some of us because our limited daily supply of self-discipline is always low or depleted by bedtime. Like a low carb, high nutrient diet, it’s a lifestyle thing that requires motivation. For that, do yoga with really SLOW deliberate breathing, not necessarily deep breathing. Slow!

Here’s the world’s best yoga music. The guy’s voice is like a laser.

Keep writing. You’ve got the chops. Read, The Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle and learn how and why to get your oligodendrocytes wrapping myelin around your axons and dendrites to make you 300 times more the exceptional writer you are now.

Never give up your dreams.

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.

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“Are we calling this coffee?” I ask.

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

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

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

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

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.

Capture2

“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.

 

Capture

“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.

southpole_cassini

“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.

PmYD4JG

“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.

Capture3

 

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.

Please forget about leaving your email address below if you want to comment. No need. (The blank form can’t be disabled, otherwise I’d get rid of it. Sorry.)

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.)

One other thing. If you feel there’s value in random acts of kindness, please send my blog address to someone with an open mind: www.storiform.com. Someone sweet.

 


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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_2126

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

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

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

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

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

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

No response.

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

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

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

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

“Do it,” Vedanshi commands in full voice.

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

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

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

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

“I’m fine,” he says.

“No he’s not,” I tell her.

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

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

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

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

I elbow him.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I open my eyes.

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

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

“The Finite Multiverse,” Vedanshi says and giggles.

“What’s funny?” he asks.

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

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

The red circle goes out and the hull vanishes.

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

No response.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Norway--torsion-trail

 

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

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

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

“What in the world?” I ask.

“One at a time,” The Ganga says.

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

“No apologizes,” she says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sorry, I just…”

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

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

“Johanna is,” Vedanshi says.

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

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

“Standard green fluorescent protein,” The Ganga says.

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

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

“That ship did it,” I tell everyone.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I don’t want to know…”

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

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

“My villi are fine.”

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

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

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

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

“Do you truly believe that, dear?”

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

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

“That’s what science is.”

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

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

Vaar grunts indignation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Good heavenly days!”

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

“Charming,” she says.

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

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

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

“How you do sugarcoat things.”

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

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

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

James chuckles and shakes his head. “Dylan.”

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

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

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

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

James smirks.

I raise a cautioning finger at him.

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

My bad.

“So gluten sensitivity causes dementia,” Vaar says.

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

“From your perspective.”

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

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

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

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

“Well, I wouldn’t…”

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

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

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

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

“What?”

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

“What quarantine?”

“You don’t know?” She laughs.

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

“You see that?” James asks Vedanshi.

She nods, eyebrows up a bit.

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

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

I look at Vedanshi. She shakes her head slowly.

“What power structure?” I ask.

“You’ve noticed we’re not alone?”

“ET’s, ghosts, or what?” I ask.

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

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

“You’ve heard of dark matter?”

“Of course.”

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

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

CERN-SUFI-PORTAL

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

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

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

“Too weird,” James says.

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

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

Valles_Marineris_NASA_World_Wind_map_Mars

016vallesmarineris_reduced0.25

Ophir_Chasma_THEMIS_mosaic

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

OlyMons

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

Mars

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

odyssey

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

“This guy’s a badass,” James says.

My head is spinning.

Tesla’s words come whizzing past…

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

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

aurora_surprise_by_torivarn-d6qsuny

“Why did Shiva quarantine us?” I ask.

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

Not good.

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

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

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

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

“No.”

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

saturn-nov27

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

“What if I run?”

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

I wonder if The Ganga can make it to Saturn.

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

“No.”

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

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

M. Talmage Moorehead

Page one of this story starts here.

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

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

Talmage