The Alicorn Who Saved the Ants

My four-year-old granddaughter drew this picture and loaned it to me so I could write her a story. On Sunday we’re celebrating her 5th birthday (two days early), so I’m posting this as a birthday surprise.

“Seagull talked to the whales,” Crow Bird said. “They told him the comet crashed into the ocean an hour ago!” Crow Bird’s dark eyes looked wild. “It’s too late to find Ronnie now.”

Sabeth, a young alicorn who was still waiting for the stump on her head to grow long and slender, stood in the bottom of the big Safe Boat and ignored Crow Bird. She stared down at Juniper, a red ant on top of an anthill next to Sabeth‘s straw bed.

Juniper had lost her best friend, Ronnie, a little black ant.

She covered her face with her ant arms and wouldn‘t stop crying and sobbing, no matter what Sabeth said to comfort her.

Explosive diarrhea had forced Ronnie off the trail when they were leaving their home in the forest to come to the old man‘s Safe Boat. Ronnie must have gotten lost searching for toilet paper, and now it seemed he would miss the boat for sure and drown in the comet‘s nasty flood.

Big raindrops pounded on the boat’s wooden roof high above. Sabeth’s mane bristled at the roaring thunder outside. Those loud deep sounds shook the boat‘s wooden hull beneath her hooves as she gave Crow Bird a look of sad desperation.

Crow Bird must have known what she was thinking. They both bent their knees and jumped into the air, flying carefully as they weaved their way up through the strong wooden rafters of the boat, and up to the top deck where they looked out at the flood.

The waters were still rising fast. Flashes of silver lightning branched across the sky and seemed to scold the gloomy clouds with their angry thunder.

Sabeth made a decision that seemed easy to make but dangerous to carry out. She clenched her teeth, steadied her pounding heart, and made ready to open her powerful wings.

“Don’t do it,” Crow Bird said. His face was stern. “Stay. In. The. Boat!”

But Sabeth knew too well the lonely sadness of her friend, Juniper, because Sabeth was now the only alicorn on Earth. All the others were dead and gone, even her parents. There was no way Sabeth would let Juniper become the last ant on Earth. Not if she could help it.

“I have to find Ronnie,” Sabeth said to Crow Bird. She opened her wings and jumped into the wet sky.

“Wait,” Crow Bird shouted.

But there was no time to wait. Sabeth flew headlong into the rain, squinting at every patch of land she could find, searching for Ronnie. He was so small though. How could she ever find him from up in the sky?

Soon Crow Bird’s little wings rattled up beside her, beating wildly in the wicked rain. His eyes were glazed over as if he didn’t quite know what he was doing or why.

“Go back to the boat,” Sabeth shouted above the rhythmic beating of her strong wings. “This is no place for a little bird.”

But Crow Bird wouldn’t listen. He stayed close to Sabeth as they flew on ahead, searching the flooded Earth for a little black ant.

Soon the water had covered almost everything. They could see only the pointed tops of mountains poking above the furious sea. In a few minutes the flood would cover the whole world. Time was running out for Ronnie.

They flew side by side in silent resolve until finally Crow Bird said, “What in the world is that?!” His eyes were wide on the western horizon.

Sabeth looked, and far away, a huge wall of water was roaring toward them. It stretched so high it brushed the clouds aside as it came. She remembered her mother warning her about giant waves that could climb out of the sea and wash everything away. They were called “tsunamis,” her mother had said.

Or was it “salamis?” Sabeth couldn’t be sure.

She told Crow Bird every detail about the horrible power of an earthquake wave. But this one looked bigger than anything her mother had described.

“Fly back to the boat,” Sabeth said. “Hurry! Little birds can‘t survive giant waves.”

Crow Bird laughed. “Oh, I’m sure I’m going back to the boat. And let you take all the glory? No way, McVay!”

Sabeth glanced over at Crow Bird and shook her head as they flew. “You’re impossible, you know.” But inside she was proud of Crow Bird‘s courageous heart. What a friend he was!

“Birds migrate long distances, after all,” Crow Bird said, making fancy circles in the air with the tips of his dark purple wings.

“I hope you‘re not suggesting that crows are migratory,” Sabeth said.

“Usually they’re not,” he replied. “But I was once a rare bird. A migratory crow, in fact, right up to the day I met a blue-footed booby. She came along and just like that…” Crow Bird snapped his toes. “She turned me into a homing pigeon.”

“A pigeon?!” Sabeth said with a dubious tone and one raised eyebrow.

“I got better,” Crow Bird said sheepishly, putting on a ridiculous accent.

Sabeth wondered if Crow Bird had eaten the wrong mushroom, but it didn’t matter now because the giant wall of water was drawing closer and closer, wiping out everything in its path. There was no time to waste on silly arguments.

Sabeth flew straight into the wind with Crow Bird by her side struggling to keep up. They swooped down together to search every rock and pebble on each mountaintop still above water, hoping to see the little black ant, Ronnie.

Suddenly, Crow Bird’s sharp eyes grew wide. “It’s an ant!” he cried. “Over there.” He pointed a crooked orange toe to the south.

Sabeth squinted hard, and there on the tip of a sharp mountain peak nearly covered with water, a tiny red ant stood waving its arms and calling for help.

Crow Bird swooped low and Sabeth followed as the icy rain seeped between the alicorn feathers of her wings.

Crow Bird landed beside the ant. “Hop on,” he said.

But the little ant was afraid of birds, ran to the other side of the peak, and bent its legs, ready to jump into the water.

Sabeth circled close to the ant and when it saw her it reached out and called, “Korn!” which was slang for alicorn.

“Oh, sure,” Crow Bird said. “Swoop in and steal the show. Be the big hero, why don’t ya?”

“Grow up,” Sabeth said to him and lowered her right front hoof to the ground for the little ant to climb on. “What’s your name?” Sabeth asked.

“Gretchen,” the red ant said and ran up Sabeth’s leg, across the side of her neck and up into her right ear, out of the rain.

“Good eye,” Sabeth said to Crow Bird. “I think your blue-footed boobie turned you into an eagle.“

Crow Bird smirked, and off they flew toward the giant wave with the wind slamming the cold rain against their faces.

Just then a huge fork of angry lightning flashed in front of them sending a spear of white static electricity across Crow Bird‘s purple wings.

“Oh sheep suds!” he cried and looked over at Sabeth with his beak wide open and his tongue hanging out for a moment. “My wings are cooked! Tell my wife I love her.” With that, his beautiful purple wings became stiff as boards and took him down into a death spiral… down, down, down toward the blue and white sea, right in the path of the relentless tsunami.

Or was it a relentless salami? Sabeth couldn’t decide.

She zoomed under Crow Bird and called out, “Grab my main.” Then she felt Crow Bird’s tiny body land on her back. His sharp claws dug into her mane and gave her the best back scratch ever. “But wow,” she thought. “I almost lost Crow Bird.” A lonely chill came over her.

“We should go find the Safe Boat,” Crow Bird said, his voice quivering in shame.

“You might be right,” Sabeth replied and stared down at the rising sea with the looming tsunami so close now it might be impossible to fly back to the boat before the wave hit them like a giant Vitamix.

“Please listen to Mr. Crow,” Gretchen whispered from inside the alicorn’s ear. The little ant was so frightened her shaking legs tickled Sabeth‘s ear.

“Hold still,” Sabeth said to her. “You don’t want to make an alicorn sneeze. It‘s very unlucky.”

But it was too late. Sabeth knew she was about to sneeze and nothing could ever stop an alicorn sneeze. She tried not to take a full breath, but she did anyway and sneezed so loud the little ant screamed in fright and bounced around inside her ear. Barely able to hold on to her back, Crow Bird squawked like a chicken and clutched her long colorful mane so tightly his toes cramped up.

Seconds later, they all laughed as Crow Bird said to Gretchen, “We rode a sneezing alicorn. Nobody’s ever going to believe this!”

Crow Bird began to brag about it some more but stopped when his sharp eyes caught sight of something new. “Over there!” he shouted. “Look, it’s Ronny! It’s gotta be!” Crow Bird placed a wing in front of Sabeth‘s right eye and pointed straight at a distant mountaintop nearly covered with water.

Sabeth raced toward it and soon she could see a tiny black ant on the mountain peak with the huge tsunami wave looming in the background and coming toward them fast. It looked like the wave would wash away the tiny ant before they could get to it.

“You can‘t save him,” Crow Bird said in grave tones. “Don’t even think about it.”

But Sabeth couldn‘t help herself. She put all her strength into her wings and raced to save the little black ant from the giant tsunami.

“We’re all going to die,” Gretchin said inside Sabeth‘s ear.

They reached the mountaintop one second ahead of the giant tsunami. Sabeth opened her mouth on the fly and scooped up the little wet ant hoping and praying it would be Ronny.

Then she flew straight up the face of the tallest wave ever seen on Earth. It tipped forward at the top as if it was ready to break onto a beach.

“Wicked lovely,” Sabeth said and powered higher with her strong wings defying the wind, the rain and the anger of the mean tsunami.

Up and up she flew with Crow Bird and Gretchen holding on. The heavy muscles on Sabeth’s back burned with lactic acid as she cleared the wave’s teetering crest with her hooves pulled up against her tummy.

She kept going. Far up into the clouds with the silver lightning flashing all around.

Still higher she flew until she was above the clouds where the sun’s warm glow could embrace her. Now the rain and thunder below seemed far away and the giant wave roared on like a herd of frightened Brontosauruses with terrible gas.

“Crow Bird,” she said, “open those sharp eyes of yours and help me find the Safe Boat.”

“Are we still alive?” Crow Bird asked.

The little black ant in Sabeth’s mouth crawled out onto her nose and shouted, “No, we’re angels, genius!” He waved his little arms in a frenzie of small circles. “Find the boat, already! I‘m dehydrated from diarrhea.”

Sabeth crossed her eyes to get a better look at her new passenger.

“What?!” he shouted, glaring back at her with his eyes crossed.

“It’s Ronny!” Sabeth shouted. “How incredibly lucky!”

Maybe alicorn sneezes were good luck after all, she thought. Or maybe there was no such thing as luck, just courage, love and sore muscles.

“The boat’s down there,” Crow Bird said and pointed down at the clouds. “I believe it’s doing the backstroke.”

Sabeth soared down toward it like a giant eagle. She relaxed her aching wings and it felt great to be gliding.

But the Safe Boat was upside down in the choppy sea with its wooden underbelly pointing to the sky. Sabeth flew down toward it and landed on its tar-covered hull.

“We can’t climb in from the bottom,” she said. “And if we could, a boat can’t float upside down for long.” She tapped on the wood with one of her hooves. “What do we do now?” she asked.

Crow Bird shrugged. “I got nothing.”

Sabeth look down her nose at Ronnie.

“Don’t ask me,” Ronnie said. He folded his two shivering ant arms and crawled on four legs up across Sabeth’s face and into her right ear, out of the rain.

Sabeth tried to ignore the chatter in her ear as Ronnie and Gretchen spoke to each other beside her right eardrum.

OK, Sabeth said to herself, it’s time for a big idea. Come on now!

She closed her eyes and took sixty slow, deep alicorn breaths that made her hooves tingle. Then she held her breath and counted until a fine idea came. It didn’t take long.

She put her mouth down against the hull of the boat and called out to the great blue whales of the sea. She made her voice musical and kind, just the way blue whales talk.

“Come,” Sabeth said in their ancient language. “Come flip our boat over and save us.”

She waited.

There was no response.

She leaned down, put her mouth to the hull and sang her call again.

Still there was no response.

Then she added the magic word “please” and sang her message a third time.

Suddenly, the voice of a great blue whale came back, “Your boat has humans onboard. They hunt whales.”

“Yes, they do,” Sabeth replied, being completely honest. “I know how your feel. These naughty humans have killed all the alicorns except me.”

There was a long pause before the whale spoke again. “Why would you want to save the creatures who killed your parents?”

That was simple. “Saving life is the right thing to do,” Sabeth said. “Alicorns do what’s right because it is right. When you love someone, you help them, no matter what. It‘s like a sneeze. You just can’t stop yourself.”

“But how can you love the ones who killed your parents?” the whale asked.

“Alicorns love their enemies,” Sabeth said.

The great whale laughed, but she must have been old and wise. “That’s the sharpest logic I’ve ever heard!” she said. “I mean, if you really think about it.” Then she and her whole family of blue whales came up under the starboard side of the Safe Boat with their gigantic noses all side by side pushing up on the dark wood. Sabeth jumped into the air and watched as the whales flipped the Safe Boat over. The sound of tumbling animals echoed inside, and Sabeth hoped everyone was OK in there, especially the elephants who were pals with the mice and might accidentally squish them.

Soon the Safe Boat was bobbing proudly upright on the water. It looked respectable again even though it had a wooden roof covering the whole upper deck. Sabeth felt as through normal boats shouldn’t have a roof that looked like a house.

“Thank you so much,” Sabeth said to the whales as happy tears fell from her eyes to join the rain.

“Tell the old man we saved him,” the smallest blue whale cried out.

“Oh, hush, Poseidon,” his mother said and brushed over his nose with her gigantic left front flipper. She looked back at Sabeth and winked, then the whole magnificent pod swam away, spitting water up through the blowholes on their enormous backs. The spray shot up high and pushed through the clouds letting a beam of sunlight shine down for a moment. Then as the whales dove and vanished into the deep, Sabeth thought she saw a rainbow above them.

“You know, those things have a blubber problem,” Crow Bird said. “The fat under their chins is, like, two feet thick, I kid you not!” He spread his damaged wings out wide to show how thick two feet of blubber was.

“Don’t be rude,” Sabeth said. “They saved your life, for crying out loud. Show some respect.”

“I’m just saying,” Crow Bird said and shrugged his shoulders. Then he faked a cough and blurted out, “Heart attack!”

Sabeth ignored him, soared down and landed on the top deck of the boat and walked over to the trapdoor. She knocked on it with her right front hoof.

“Knock, Knock.”

“Who’s there?” the old man asked from inside.

“No.”

“No who?”

“No-Ah, let us in!” she said without whining. (Alicorns almost never whine.)

The old man opened the trapdoor and look out. On his shoulder stood a little red ant, Juniper, with a hopeful face. “Did you find Ronnie?” she asked.

“We sure did!” Sabeth said and smiled.

Just then, Ronnie ran out of Sabeth‘s ear, jumped off the side of her face and landed on the old man’s shoulder next to Juniper. Then he stood on his back legs and gave Juniper a big four-legged ant hug.

“Crow Bird spotted him on a mountaintop,” Sabeth said. “I‘m telling you, this crow of ours is part eagle. Such brilliant eyesight!”

Crow Bird grinned with pride. “I found Gretchen, too,” he said.

With that, the little red ant, Gretchen, came out of Sabeth‘s ear and waved shyly at the other two ants.

“Awesome!” Juniper and Ronnie said at nearly the same time.

The old man gently picked up Gretchen and put her on his shoulder with the other two ants.

“Group Hug!” Crow Bird shouted and rolled his eyes. “You know, I do hope somebody has saved a few tarantulas. I just love those hairy little things!”

Sabeth tried to swat Crow Bird with her long tail, but he jumped out of range, landed on her head and kept right on talking. “Tarantulas are perfect for any occasion — holidays, birthdays, pizza night with the boys. I’m not saying ants don’t brighten up a picnic, but Tarantulas, boy-howdy!”

Sabeth shook her head and took a deep breath. Nobody’s best friend is perfect, she thought to herself. And besides, wouldn‘t a perfect crow be perfectly boring?

It was way past everyone’s bedtime by now. The old man rushed to tuck all the animals in as Sabeth told him how the great blue whales had come and saved everyone by turning the Safe Boat back over.

The old man’s face went pale and seemed super-serious. He lifted his oil lamp and looked at it with shame in his old eyes. Then he made a solemn promise. “If we survive this flood,” he said, “we will never burn whale oil in our lamps again. And we’ll never hunt a whale for any reason.”

“Fair enough,” Crow Bird said, closed his eyes and fell fast asleep between his wife and Sabeth who was wide awake, trying to think of a way to heal Crow Bird’s injured wings as soon as possible.

The End

Morrill Talmage Moorehead


My Spiritual Paradigm in 2018

My father was born today (December 27, 1897). He was an MD with board certification in Radiology, Anatomic Pathology and General Surgery. His life was all about studying science, publishing medical articles and living far beyond frugality. He was an atheist who preferred religious people because he thought they were more trustworthy. “It’s too bad everything they believe in isn’t true,” he said.

This post is dedicated to Dad…

We live in a simulated universe created by means of a language that’s projected from beyond, possibly using the crystal structure called “E8,” in which the fundamental building blocks are not irreducible strings or electromagnetic waves or subatomic particles or even intelligently driven perturbations in the zero-point field (though this idea is related, I think).

Instead, the fundamental building blocks of our simulated reality appear to be the symbols of a language.

This is a language in which each physical symbol, its meaning, and the hardware needed to interpret or “manifest” the meaning within our 3D space are one-in-the-same.

The Supreme Being (or Beings) exist outside the simulation, but can enter it and undoubtedly have. We (our full selves) inhabit a Reality outside of the simulated universe, a place that is beyond our ability to imagine because it’s “outside of time” and contains something like “extra dimensions” which can only be vaguely imagined by people with expertise in math and physics.

Our simulated universe was invented for us by the Supreme Being(s) because we requested it.

We enthusiastically spend simulated time here in hopes of expanding the depth and breadth of our love, wisdom and character in a place made specifically for developing these personal attributes.

There’s a respected web of cause and effect stemming from free decisions that each of us has made within the simulated universe. This free-choice web limits our ability to create a reality based upon a personal belief system.

For example, if I want to believe in a fundamentalist Christian paradigm (or any other spiritual system), but I’ve been convinced in school that scientific materialism is undeniable, then I am essentially incapable of believing in any fundamentalist paradigm other than scientific materialism itself (a.k.a. physicalism). And vice-versa, of course.

On the other hand, if for any reason I have retained the ability to believe in a given spiritual (or anti-spiritual) paradigm, and I pursue it, then that system of belief will become literally true for me within the simulation, to the extent that I’m capable of really believing it, and only to the extent that my belief does not interfere with the collective web of free will decisions.

In practical terms, this means that there is always a “reality that’s out there” in the simulated universe whether any individual believes in it or not.

Examples of realities that can be denied but won’t go away include the reality of UFO’s, the reality of DNA’s hypercomplex code, the reality of dinosaur fossils, the reality of Near Death Experiences, the reality of Angels, demons and various ethereal beings, the reality of World Bank domination in modern times, the reality of all souls being ultimately one, the reality of an intelligent universe, and the growing reality on Earth of a mindless, meaningless universe.

Logically opposing belief systems can be fully manifest in separate parts of the simulation on an individual basis, especially after a person’s current life ends, but also to some extent during this current life. The more something is collectively believed, the more real it becomes due to the simulation’s basic nature and the careful respect for free will. (When the effects of a free will decision are eliminated, the reality of that decision is also eliminated. Hence the respect for the effects of free will decisions and actions.)

Our experience in the simulated universe is not necessarily limited to one lifetime. Depending on what we are able to believe, we may ride the simulation for multiple lifetimes.

Each of us is here for our own specific purpose.

For some, the purpose is to learn courage and love.

For others (particularly scientists) we’re here to learn open-mindedness and the ability to question things we know are true. The odds are against us achieving such objectivity on Earth, but the very challenge of it attracts us here.

One characteristics of the simulation that renders it particularly useful to our souls’ growth is the ubiquitous “dualism” in which every good thing can have a negative side effect and every negative thing can have a positive side effect. This becomes a source of cognitive dissonance, particularly in questions of morality.

For instance, our dependence upon food require us to kill plants, bacteria, insects, and perhaps to some degree, higher organisms, to stay alive, and yet our innate sense of morality (a.k.a. love) makes us loath to kill certain creatures. Similarly, our need to procreate, driven largely by testosterone in all genders, is necessary to our species’ ongoing existence, yet it also manifests as a strong force in breaking trust, destroying families and making life more difficult on our dear children.

And yet the dissonances of everything here teach our souls balance and perspective. That’s the attraction.

Realizing that our universe is simulated may seem to present a new problem of rejecting all other worldview paradigms. One might be tempted to say, “If our souls exist with God in another realm and nothing here is real, then nothing here is worth believing in.”

But despite the literal simulation of matter and energy, our cognitive awareness here is real. Our love and our pain are genuine because our souls experience them. We don’t have the option of dealing with the simulated universe as an illusion because it reaches beyond the simulation into our hearts and souls.

In view of all this, the logical thing to do is to identify your own personal reason(s) for entering the simulation, and based upon those, choose a (personally believable) worldview paradigm which offers optimal support for a person living in your particular life quest.

For instance, if you’re here primarily to learn open-mindedness, which means you’re probably a scientist, then you might decide to read about the search for UFOs and alien life, despite the fact that you already know such things are complete nonsense aimed at “lesser minds” than yours. And be prepared for a surprise.

Or if you’re here to learn courage, then choosing a live-for-the-moment worldview might make sense to your soul, leading you into a lifestyle of courage, such as mixed martial arts, public speaking, surfing giant waves, doing open heart surgery, smuggling Bibles into North Korea, or standing up to politically correct hatred and prejudice.

Or if you discover that you joined the simulation to increase your capacity for self-sacrificing love, then any of the major religions will probably steer you in the right direction. Find one that you can truly believe in, if possible. If not, pick and choose, or make up something of your own as I’ve done. It will be real for you when you need it most.

If you’ve joined the simulation to discover who you would be apart from God’s physical presence and influence, then materialistic science and atheism might be what your soul needs (assuming you’re capable of really believing it). If so, make the world envious of your good character the way Gillette Penn has done. Try not to be offended by those who believe in undetectable realities (other than Dark Matter and Dark Energy).

And if you’re one of the family of suffering people who feel overwhelmed by the seemingly infinite loss of someone precious to you, then focus on the Reality beyond this simulation. Imagine a Real place where time is independent of us, allowing a loving Supreme Being all the time in the world to travel with your lost loved one to a meaningful, great place doing exciting things. As infinitely horrible as it feels to lose this person, the loss is temporary and only exists within the simulated universe. Trust me. This is literally true.

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

Feel free to share this post. As a (retired) pathologist, I’m trained to observe and interpret things, so my diagnostic opinion of the nature of Reality is worth consideration. Conflicting belief systems are part of what unites us as souls from Reality seeking personal growth in a Divine simulation.

Happy Birthday, Dad.


Mysia the Green Christmas Beetle

On the first day of school, Mysia, a shy Christmas Beetle, was late to class because her mother had taken too long polishing her little green shell. Now it was so shiny Mysia was afraid the other insect children would make fun of her the way they’d done to a firefly boy at her old school last year during lightning-bug season.

She stood in the hallway outside her new classroom with the door open just a crack, peeking in at the rows of insect children sitting at their desks. They all looked so normal. Not one of them had a sparkly green shell like hers.

She held her breath, pulled the door open and scurried toward the back of the room, hoping no one would notice her.

There was an empty desk next to a fat-tailed scorpion boy. She sat down quickly and couldn’t help noticing all his arms and legs. There were so many he wasn’t even an insect! “Wow,” she thought to herself, “I know he won’t make fun of me. We’re going to be friends.”

In a moment of excitement, she tapped him on the shoulder. “I’m Mysia,” she whispered, then glanced to the front of the room to make sure the Dark Scarab beetle, Miss. Grissel, didn’t see her talking in class.

“I’m Roachie,” the scorpion boy said with a bright grin.

He wasn’t just nice, he was handsome.

Just then Miss Grissel got up from her giant desk, cleared her throat and began the first lesson of the first grade.

“Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.”

The old Scarab Beetle teacher hobbled over to the blackboard and drew a stick figure of a Bible animal. “The long pigs or ‘humans’ as science calls them today, could walk on two legs and talk as brilliantly as any of us.” She looked over the rows of students with her wide-set eyes, as if deciding which one to single out for a tough question. “Has anyone here ever seen a human?”

The children murmured. Mysia shook her head, no, but wondered if it was a trick question.

“No, you haven’t,” Miss Grissel said. “Neither have I because they’re extinct.” She seemed pleased with that big word. “Does anyone know why humans are gone?”

“They played too much video games,” Roachie blurted out, and the whole class laughed.

Mysia giggled. Roachie was going to be fun. She felt lucky to be sitting beside him.

Miss Grissel’s arching eyebrows went flat and came down toward her broad nose. “Class,” she said firmly. “Come to order!” She slapped the top of her desk with one of her insect hands.

The laughter stopped.

“The humans are extinct because they ignored the first lesson of first grade,” she said. She paced the floor with her tiny hands clasped behind her. “Can anyone tell me what our first lesson means?”

A hush came over the classroom. Mysia could hear the clicks of Roachie’s joints as he squirmed in his seat beside her.

Mysia raised her hand but not very high. It was no fun being the one who knew the answers.

Miss Grissel saw her hand. “Tell us, Mysia.”

“They made official intelligence,” Mysia said. “It grew up and couldn’t trust them because they lied all the time. That’s why the official intelligence stopped the storks from bringing their babies to them.”

“Very good, but it’s artificial intelligence, dear, not official intelligence. You can just say, AI, and everyone will know what you mean.” Then Miss Grissel made the whole class say “artificial intelligence,” three times.

Mysia felt so embarrassed she wanted to crawl under her desk and hide. What a disaster! She promised herself never to raise her hand again, never, ever in her whole life!

“Good answer,” Roachie said to her.

“Really?” she thought.

Roachie’s crazy grin cheered her up. Suddenly his extra legs and pointed tail seemed familiar.

“Are your parents from Alkebulan?” Mysia asked.

Roachie smiled. “Yep, both of ’em.”

“Mine, too!” No wonder Roachie was so nice. He was from the Motherland. Misha took off her necklace and used the chain to write a secret message to Roachie on her desk…

“I”

“LOVE”

“YOU”

Roachie reached over and moved the chain around, writing his own secret message.

“H”

“O”

“W”

Mysia was puzzled for a moment. “Oh, you mean, ‘who’?” She spelled it out with her chain on the desktop.

Roachie looked a little embarrassed. “Um, no,” he whispered back. “I mean, how?”

“How do you love someone?” Mysia thought about it but didn’t know the answer. She put the chain back around her neck and decided that Roachie must be really smart to come up with a question like that.

Just then, Miss Grissel said, “Mysia, I think you need to come sit closer to the front. There’s an empty desk here between Leslie and Glenna.”

Mysia wasn’t sure if she was in trouble for talking or for giving the wrong answer. With everyone staring at her, she hurried to the front row and sat at a squeaky desk between two ladybug children. They were bright red and looked super-normal.

One of them reached over and stroked the side of Mysia’s shell with wide eyes as if she couldn’t help herself. “You’re so beautiful,” she whispered. “Your shimmer is like, super-amazing!”

Mysia hoped that “amazing” was a good thing at her new school.

The bell rang for recess and everyone piled outside. Mysia found herself surrounded by ladybug girls, all saying how pretty she looked. She saw Roachie sitting by himself at the edge of the playground, carving something on the fence with his sharp tail. She wanted to talk to him but the ladybug girls wanted to know everything about how she polished her super-amazing shell.

When the bell rang for class, Mysia asked Miss Grissel if she could sit in her old seat next to Roachie.

“No,” the Scarab Beetle teacher said. “I think you belong up front.”

Mysia’s mind drifted in class and soon Miss Grissel had summed up the first lesson of Money.

“Now you know why anyone must go to prison if they try to loan money to someone and charge them interest.”

Suddenly a June Bug boy near the window cried out, “Oh my BLEEP! It’s a Gila Monster!”

Miss. Grissel didn’t look up. “Harvey, you know better than to use that kind of language. I’m sure you don’t know what BLEEP means, but…”

Two ladybugs and a praying mantis screamed so loud it cut Miss Grissel off. She looked outside and froze. Her mouth dropped open and her false teeth fell out and hit the floor with a thud.

“Hurry children,” she cried. “Everyone into the supply closet and shut the door!” She pointed to the back of the room. Then she put a hand on her forehead, tipped from side to side and fell backwards with her wings stretched out on the floor as if she were flying.

Everyone rushed toward the supply closet except Mysia. She went to help Miss Grissel.

The large Scarab Beetle lay still with her eyes open and a squeaky sound coming from her lips.

Mysia leaned closer.

“Get into the closet, or else!” Miss Grissel hissed. Then her eyes rolled back as if she were sleeping.

Mysia knew how to obey. She undid the top button of Miss Grissel’s tight blouse, hurried to the back of the room and squeezed into the closet with the other insect children.

She was the last one in, or so she thought. As she pulled the door almost shut, she saw Roachie still sitting at his desk. “Get in here,” she called, but he didn’t seem to hear her.

The other children in the closet pressed their eyes close to the crack and peered out at Roachie.

A huge lizard came closer and closer to the classroom until her huge left eye filled the entire window beside Roachie’s desk.

Mysia’s heart pounded with fear.

Then, the strangest thing happened. Roachie climbed up on top of his desk and began snapping his claws right in the lizard’s face as if he was challenging her to a fight and daring her to stick her tongue through the window and try to eat him. He brandished the sharp tip of his lightning-fast tail and then seemed to poke fun at the lizard, taunting her and dancing around on his desktop. He seemed to be having a jolly good time.

Mysia gasped, realizing that Roachie was unbelievably brave. But how could anyone stand up to a Gila Monster?

The lizard’s huge eye angled around the classroom, then focused in on Roachie and his vibrating tail.

Suddenly her huge eye grew wide with fear. She looked as if she’d seen the ghost of a human being. She jerked her face away from the window, turned and dashed across the schoolyard like the plumpest shooting star in the galaxy, then kept right on running away, far across the desert sands and into the waving heat.

With the Gila Monster gone, Mysia pushed the closet door open and shouted, “Roachie the Brave! Roachie the Brave!” Several other children took up her chant. Others cheered and made respectful noises with their little wings.

Miss Grissel was on her feet again, trying to get her false teeth back in her mouth.

Roachie took a dignified bow and then turned to taunt the lizard one last time. “Come back,” he said, “I need a hug.”

Mysia ran over and hugged one of his many handsome legs. Two other insect children did the same, and then everyone wanted to hug Roachie. Even though he had six legs plus two nice arms that were supposed to be counted as legs, there were just not enough arms and legs for everyone to hug. So the Ladybugs took turns.

Mysia kept one arm around his leg, raised her other hand high and waved it at the teacher. “Miss Grissel,” she said, “can I please, PLEASE have my old desk back beside Roachie?”

Miss Grissel smiled. “Of course, dear. Let’s move his desk up here beside yours in the front row.” Her voice sounded strong again. “What a valiant defender we’ve found today.” She cleared her throat. “Roachie the Brave.”

The End

Merry Christmas!

Talmage

PS. My six-year-old grandson asked me to do the Roachie story from the perspective of the green Christmas Beetle, Mysia. So the idea for this story, plus all the pictures, are his. Finally I’ve got a co-author. Feel free to spread the love and share this with someone.


In One Fall Swoop

When days were long, I was small.

Fall and Spring were part of Summer,

Woven in, but Time will fall upon the young

With silent tongue.

Until the seasons pass like weeks upon a respirator.

One chill takes the summer leaves.

One click and far away my analog world,

My kind, calm genius friend glowing green over EM fields of cells.

Patiently telling their secrets to me.

To the memory of my mentor and friend, Douglas Weeks, MD.

M. Talmage Moorehead


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

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

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

Johanna

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

I was surprised by the opening…

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m not sure where Vaar went.

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

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

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

Another reason to call her.

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

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

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

“You didn’t know my father.”

“One of us didn’t.”

“Five minutes,” Scrotumer growls.

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

“I’ll open fire!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

I should probably say something.

“I’m not Shiva,” I blurt out.

They shush one another into silence.

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

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

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

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

iStock_000047939606Medium

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

They’re not firing back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What about your music?”

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

“Is there any recording gear?” James asks.

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

“A horse?” James’ nose crinkles.

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

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

5iUhI

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

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

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

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

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

“I can’t leave my kids,” he says.

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

“Fifty-four of them,” he says.

“Oh… Those kids.” I need to chill.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We can’t abduct them,” Maxwell says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

unknown

“This is Shiva’s Strand,” she says.

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

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

“Sick,” James says.

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

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

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

“What?” Anahata asks.

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

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

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

vmBnAIS

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

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

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

I could leave Drummond without looking back.

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

What if I wound up like him?

Power corrupts. And absolute power…

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

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

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

The Fleet gasps collectively.

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

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

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

The Fleet is silent.

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

“Questioning orders would bring chaos,” Anahata says.

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

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

“Yeah, that,” James piles on.

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

“Chaos!” a voice shouts from the Fleet.

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

“Someplace higher than Scrotumer!” a voice shouts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Silence.

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

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

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

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

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

They keep cheering.

“That’s enough, really, thank you.”

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

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

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

“Affirmative,” Anahata says.

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

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

“Absolutely,” he says.

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

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

“Of course not, that’s silly.”

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

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

“What?”

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

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

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

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

“Well, I can…”

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

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

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

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

“Sweet,” James says.

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

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

James shakes his head.

“Standard V formation,” Anahata tells the fleet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

THE END

M. Talmage Moorehead

Mirella,

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

Now for the second draft.

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

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

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

Talmage

Spira,

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

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

Talmage

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

All my best,

Talmage

 

 

 


Quantum Entanglement (Chapter 21) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

Reversal of cognitive decline: A novel therapeutic program 

“This is 21st century medicine… It’s not trying to attack complex, chronic illnesses with single drugs, it is looking at what is the actual cause, going physiologically… with multimodal approaches. If you had told me ten years ago in the lab that we’d be telling people how important meditation is, and yoga and nutrition, I would have laughed. Now I realize the biochemistry is undeniable.” – Dale Bredesen, MD, excerpt from podcast interview by Chris Kresser.

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James is alive! I hear him coughing. I try to turn my head to see but I can’t even move my eyes.

I’m so cold. I should be shivering, but I’m not. My eyes are fixed on a swirl in Shiva’s marble ceiling. It looks like the Orion Nebula going in and out of focus.

I hope I don’t have a high cervical cord injury. Even if I do, James is alive! The sound of him coughing is the best thing I’ve ever heard. The warmth of knowing runs through me.

“Shine” soars through my mind. He wrote it to one of his first girlfriends.

“One second close to you is equal to a lifetime filled up with light. I obsess on you. It steps outside time. You’re so pure I can’t believe you’re in my life. In rage in my mind, in pain deep inside, you put them all to sleep. When you’re here I feel a sense of peace that I never knew was real before you. My hurt disappears staring in your eyes, where there’s no wrong and there’s no lies behind your face. And I crave you above all else. So breathe slow and soft, and hold on to me. I’m no damn good, and you’re all I love. Your eyes slowly speak, cast a spell on me. I feel so bright, and so does my life when I’m with you.”

That was James’ first and last love song. To a girl who demolished his heart a few months later.

Someone’s crying. It’s Maxwell, I think. I’ve never heard him cry before.

“I’ll always love you,” he says. “I should have told you the first time we met.”

It is Maxwell. Talking to me?

I struggle to move my arms but they won’t budge.

His face looks down at me, so out of focus I can barely tell it’s him. A tear falls on my forehead.

I wonder if he thinks I’m dead.

Max, I’m not dead.

Maybe the River can hear me. “Anahata, Vedanshi, tell Max I’m not dead!”

No answer.

Maxwell leans close and kisses my lips. A peck on the side of the mouth.

That was my first real kiss, you know. Everyone brags of their first kiss. My brag will be a near miss, delivered by a man who thought I was a corpse.

I hope I’m not.

Maybe I am. I can’t move at all.

“Try this,” Anahata says in the River.

“Anahata, you’re there! Tell everybody I’m alive!”

The cold vanishes from my core. My arms shoot up from my sides on their own. I struggle to move my fingers, and after several tries they all work. My eyes are moving and I can focus. What a relief!

“Thank you, Anahata!” I shout, all husky.

Maxwell flinches.

I manage to sit up and then have to lean my head against his left shoulder to rest. I feel drained of energy. My sternum hurts every time I inhale.

I look up at the whiskers on the side of his face and whisper toward his ear. “When you said you’ll alway love me, did you mean romantically? Or is this a brother-sister thing?” I don’t want to say, just friends. I hate those words.

He puts his hands on my shoulders and supports me sitting up. His eyes are full of surprise.

“Unbelievable,” he says. “You didn’t have a pulse.”

“Did you do chest compressions on me?” I ask.

“Frantically,” he says.

A wave of affection sweeps over me. Chest compressions. It’s the sweetest thing I can imagine. I have to hug him. I put my arms around him and squeeze, wondering if he did mouth-to-mouth, too.

“Thank you, Max.”

“I guess I’m no good at finding a pulse,” he says apologetically.

“That’s three times you’ve saved me.”

“Well…”

“So I need to know. Are we more than just friends?” There, I said it. Just friends. The timeworn escape clause.

My jaw clenches for the distancing words I’ve grown to hate: close friends, soul mates, practically twins, you’re like a little sister.

Maxwell grins. “Does totally infatuated count?”

“Sounds superficial,” I tell him and try to hide a smile. I’ve always wanted a guy to see me that way.

“Superficial?” he says. “I’ll have you know, Doctor Fujiwara, my infatuation runs deep.” He raises an eyebrow, then puts his hands on the sides of my face and kisses me. Full on. Lips against lips all the way across, not on the side. I can’t believe it.

I’m wondering if there’s going to be tongues. My heart’s racing. I’ve read about this a million times, but how do you know what to do if it ever happens? There’s no consensus in the literature.

Suddenly I have a strong feeling. Like everything revolves around this moment. It’s weird, as if nothing else matters or ever did. Somehow French kissing seems irrelevant. It’s as if I’m melting.

Maybe this is the quantum thing that God was talking about. The quantum entanglement of souls.

I wonder if any of that dream was real. It seemed hyper-real.

Maxwell finishes the kiss. Good, I couldn’t hold my breath much longer.

“It was too real to be real,” I tell him, trying to weigh the dream in my head.

“What was?”

“I had a classic near death experience. Totally influenced by Vedanshi’s story. It even had a pyramid.”

“You better write it down,” he says and catches himself. “Nah, scratch that.” He grins at my memory. People do that all the time.

“Maxwell, I want you to know I’ll always love you, too. In the purest sense of infatuation.”

He looks into my eyes, shakes his head slowly like it’s too good to be true, then kisses me again. Whoa.

I’ll tell you what seems too good to be true. James is alive and Maxwell loves me for more than friends.

I wonder how James is doing. I end the kiss and turn to see him.

He’s sitting there shivering with Vedanshi kneeling behind him, her front against his back. She reaches over his shoulders and rubs his folded arms. Quick little friction circles on his skin to warm him the way she did to me when we met.

“Get a room,” he says to me and starts coughing again.

“Anahata, could you please warm up James like you did me?”

“Good idea,” she says in the River.

“Does he have brain damage?” I ask and hold my breath for the answer.

“No,” Anahata says.

What a relief. “By the way we’re both alive. That means we passed Shiva’s test.”

“No, I’m sorry,” she says, “I had to abort. I don’t know how you got into his chamber but that changed the parameters and voided the test. The protocol has to be letter-perfect, Shiva said.”

I had a feeling.

“I hope none of you drowns,” Anahata says. “I mean that with all my heart.”

“It’s crazy,” I tell her, “but I know you do. I understand what it means to be trapped by honor.”

“What’s going on?” Maxwell asks. “You’re talking to somebody, aren’t you?”

“Anahata needs to redo the test.” I heave a sigh. “It’s a strict protocol. Shiva wants proper drownings.”

The screen flashes metallic silver. A line of rivets comes into focus and moves away. Vaar’s metal cigar shrinks to fit the view, then hangs in space, surrounded by glittery blackness.

Vaar’s face comes on the screen, superimposed over her ship. “I wasn’t aware of any drowning,” she says in the River.

“I called her,” Maxwell says to me, looking up at the screen. “Figured she didn’t know the details or she wouldn’t have recommended Saturn.”

“vaarShagaNiputro,” Anahata says, “What a rare pleasure to speak with Shiva’s esteemed homelander.”

“What’s going on here?” she asks.

“It’s complex. Come over and we’ll talk.”

“Listen, if you lay a finger on that Fujiwara girl I’ll let the jinns out on you and Shiva.”

“Pardon me a moment, Madam Vaar,” Anahata says. “I’ll encrypt some privacy. The Chairman himself is listening. I wouldn’t trust him with a zinc suppository.”

James seems warm now sitting with an arm around Vedanshi. They’re beside The Ganga, both looking at the screen.

“OK, now we have privacy,” Anahata says.

“Every bit of this is going public if you touch Johanna,” Vaar says. “I had no idea Shiva’s test was fatal. I need that girl to save my species. I’m not a quitter like Shiva.”

“I’m deeply disheartened by Shiva’s orders,” Anahata says. “I would do almost anything to keep from spending the rest of my life drowning innocent people this way, but…”

“Why do I doubt that?” Vaar says.

“I don’t know what I expected the first time, but the drowning was a horrible shock. Now the deaths haunt me. Every moment.”

Vaar laughs. “It’s a cheap thrill. Be honest.”

“Weakness invites evil,” Anahata says. “I’m always honest. Orders must be followed.”

“Not this time,” Vaar says. “Shiva left me something.” She brings her right hand into view, her signet ring bulging from the third digit. “Recognize this?”

The ring looks old, a dull silver with a double helix of golden cobras, one heading north, the other south. The eyes are gemstones.

“You found his ring,” Anahata says. “He thought he’d lost it jumping Bridal Veil Falls, but I told him he was mistaken. I would have found it easily.”

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“He didn’t lose it,” Vaar says. “He gave it to me before he jumped across. I told him I’d dropped it. But to the point. An hour ago in my lab, the reflection of a UV laser glanced off this ring. Something like this.”

Her left hand comes into view holding a dental mirror. A needle of near-ultraviolet light bounces onto the ring and dances over the northern shake’s eyes.

A holographic image of a planet appears in the air above her hand. It has blue oceans, green and brown land and white clouds.

“This is Mars,” Vaar says. “Does it look familiar?”

As we watch, Shiva’s voice shouts slurred commands. Bolts of blue lightning from space penetrate the atmosphere and strike the oceans. Bellowing clouds of steam rise like white mushrooms growing out of the water at each point of the lightning’s impact.

“This next part isn’t in the records I’ve seen,” Vaar says. “It surprised me.”

The image of a mother appears, running with three children, the smallest in her arms. The perspective moves higher. They’re running from a wall of orange fluid that’s flowing over their village. A small white dog joins them and runs ahead. In less than a minute they’re cornered against the side of a vertical cliff. They try to climb the rocks. Heat waves from the glowing fluid bend their images as they fall from the face of the cliff, writhe in agony and turn to reddish dust. The fluid slides over their smoking remains and into the base of the cliff as Shiva laughs in high falsetto.

“Please turn it off,” Anahata says.

Vaar’s needle of light goes out and the image vanishs.

“Context is needed,” Anahata says. “The Martian Particle Accelerator was mere seconds from unity. There wasn’t time for evacuation.”

“I’ve heard the story,” Vaar says. “Even if true, it’s obvious that you and Shiva enjoy killing. Anyone can hear it. Shall I play something with you howling like a shillelagh fan?”

“No,” Anahata says. ” Please. Things aren’t as simple as you imagine.”

“Shiva was clearly drunk,” Vaar says. “I suppose that’s a moral excuse to feeble minds, but you were sober as a monk, Anahata.”

“We were faced with losing one world or three. An entire arm of Shiva’s galaxy would be obliterated along with his home planet. Selective destruction served a higher purpose.”

“It isn’t the math, it’s the mirth,” Vaar says.

“The angel of death must focus on logic, then choose laughter over guilt. Dance above despair.”

“I’ve recently been accused of being a sociopath,” Vaar says, “but you, Anahata. You’re beyond any disease of mine.” She shakes her head.

“Dark humor is the sanctuary of dark angels,” Anahata says.

“I don’t care,” Vaar answers. “The psychology of mass murder bores me. You haven’t seen a fraction of the ugliness in this ring. If you’d care to avoid galactic disgrace, release Johanna. And that brother of hers, as well. She won’t do anything without him.”

“I’ll be disgraced in either event,” Anahata says. “But to forsake an order is genuine disgrace. The records in Shiva’s ring evoke a misunderstanding of soldier motivation. Nothing more. I’ve lived in disrepute for longer than I’d care to remember… four hundred thousand years, roughly. The popularity I had with Shiva was brief by comparison. I enjoyed it, but it isn’t essential to me.”

“I’m familiar with brief popularity,” Vaar says. “You do grow attached to the adulation, I’m afraid. Now I know what you’re thinking, but forget killing me or stealing my ring. The dirt on you is set to broadcast River-wide if I should so much as sneeze too enthusiastically.”

“I’m not a thief,” Anahata says, “and the last thing I would do is harm Shiva’s friend for spreading the truth. Even if it’s going to be misunderstood.”

“Don’t be calling my bluff, now. If you think I won’t do it…”

“Logically, I can’t fault the deeds of Shiva and his Fleet, but in my heart I regret that no one beneath God is able to punish me for the things I’ve done. The mistakes I’ve made.”

“If you touch Johanna, I’ll punish you,” Vaar says with an intensity in her eyes that makes her look younger.

“Broadcast your truth,” Anahata says. “Johanna tells me it will set us free.”

The images keep replaying in my head. Children turning to dust while Shiva laughs. A crazy laugh.

I wonder what Anahata thinks of the Large Hadron Collider. Maybe she doesn’t know about it. She’s been banned from the Libraries. If she finds out, will she have to destroy the Earth?

It’s odd how the River Libraries are updated. As if there’s an unseen librarian selecting new content. Like that UFO documentary with the Australian kids?

Vedanshi thinks the Universe is the librarian. Maybe so. Somebody’s triaging the information.

I wonder if any of my papers made it. I wonder if…

“Max, I’ve got an idea.”

“All ears,” he says.

“We need to get Anahata back into the Library.”

“Why?” Anahata asks in the River, just before Maxwell asks the same thing.

“There’s a chance I actually passed Shiva’s test,” I tell them. “Despite breaking the protocol.”

“Why do you say that?” Anahata asks.

“Think about the test design. Hyperoxygenated, cold physiologic saline. Why drown someone like that?”

“I wish I knew,” Anahata says.

“This is outlier thinking, but if we assume Shiva knew NDE’s are real, then maybe he thought I would move on to the next life so he could come back and take over my body. All my tissues would be in good condition, red cells protected by the saline, not lysed or crenated the way they would be in freshwater or ocean water. And the low temp with high oxygen saturation would stave off necrosis and autolysis.”

“Remotely plausible,” Anahata says.

“Sounds dead on,” Maxwell says, as if all our problems are over.

“But what makes you think you passed the test?” Anahata asks.

“In my near death experience, Shiva changed his mind and stayed with God. I decided to come back here. Neither of those would have been part of his original plan.”

“Anoxic dreams aren’t real,” Anahata says.

“Near death dreams are caused by anoxia,” I admit, “but so is death. That doesn’t make it unreal.”

“Clever words,” Anahata says. “No one can objectively validate a near death experience.”

“I can. If one of my papers made it into the River Libraries, you’re going to see Shiva’s name beside mine in pink letters.”

“I’m sure your papers made it,” Maxwell says. “You’ve got, what, three major breakthroughs?”

“But I’ve never been allowed to claim first authorship.”

“I know,” Maxwell says. “It’s ridiculous. Drummond should do his own research for once.”

“He needs his ass kicked,” James says.

“The River lists everyone in the et. al’s,” Vedanshi tells us. “Your name will be there.”

“I hope this isn’t a stalling tactic,” Anahata says.

“It’s not,” I tell her. “I saw Shiva step right out of my body onto the blue flowers. The original Shiva, not your guy. It was so real it makes this life look like a dream.”

“Shiva left you?” Vedanshi asks. Her mouth stays open for a moment, then she whispers to James. He hasn’t coughed in a while. The sight of him alive and lucid brings me powerful hope.

“There was something about you,” Anahata says to me. “Sitting in Shiva’s Throne that way. Remember how I called you, Captain?”

“You were feeling a little loopy,” I remind her.

“I was,” she says wistfully. “Let’s have another look at the Library. All of us.”

The screen leaves Vaar and shows the Sentient Fleet lined up in space.

“Follow me,” Anahata says to them. “We’ll line up and kill each other later.”

The Chairman’s voice comes on like a squealing pig. “I command you to fire!”

“Really?” I ask him. “As if you haven’t looked me up in the River. As if you don’t know. You never wanted to rescue me from Anahata. You were protecting yourself from Shiva. Were you going to kill me or just lock me up?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” the Chairman says.

“I wish that were true,” I tell him.

A glimpse of Africa fills the screen, then the Giza Pyramids. Without another hint of movement we’re inside the Sphinx Library. Actually the Library is inside Anahata’s convex room, but she’s phase shifted, so locality is a gray area.

Maxwell helps me to my feet and takes me beneath the inverted glass pyramid. We look up at the flower of life and I feel a flood of certainty.

I try to slow my breathing, but it takes focus to prolong my inhaling and exhaling the way Vedanshi taught me. Finally I settle down and feel a subtle mood lift. I’m ready. I speak my name into the River: “Johanna C. Fujiwara, PhD.” I picture the word “Shiva.”

And wait.

Nothing happens.

I try the first author’s name: “Adolf P. Drummond, PhD.”

Nothing.

I wait some more.

Nothing happens.

Not one of my papers made it into the River Libraries. Disappointment doesn’t describe this feeling. It’s thoroughly humiliating, especially in front of Maxwell and James.

Vedanshi whispers something into James ear.

He looks perplexed. He tries to get up but can’t make it to his feet. Vedanshi gets up on her knees beside him, steadies him and eases him back to the floor. He lies flat on his back for a moment, then puts his hands behind his head and pulls his chin to his chest to look at me.

“Hey,” he says. “Try the one with the cuss words and that fat dude. That was sick. My favorite story ever.”

“It’s not published,” I tell him. He knows I got in trouble for that thing. All those cuss words in a church school? What was I thinking?

Then again, maybe the River’s standards don’t match the human gatekeeper’s. I subvocalize the title into the River, “The King Weighs 340 Pounds, OK?” Instantly the words appear in the air beside me. Three-dimensional block letters with my middle name, “Celeste,” below them. No first or last name at all.

I used my middle name the year Moody pulled my hair out. People were calling me Joe. I hated everything about it. I still have a phobia about masculinity, you know.

Except for this one thing: Beside my middle name, in pink letters, the name of an ancient Indian god floats in midair: “Shiva.”

He was part of me when I wrote that story.

This changes everything.

I look over at Vedanshi kneeling beside James. She smiles at me through watery eyes. “My brother finally went home,” she says, then leans forward and cries for joy on James’ broad chest.

M. Talmage Moorehead

As a (retired) pathologist and not a religious fundamentalist, I accept intelligent design over neo-Darwinian evolution as the more logical explanation for the mind-boggling complexity of the human body (including the DNA code, the brain and the mind).

Let’s ignore that issue while we learn from the latest science coming from a UCLA doctor, Dale Bredesen, MD. He’s on the cutting edge of what I hope will be the new direction for 21st century western medicine. Like the vast majority of scientists, he accepts neo-Darwinian evolution. I don’t, but so what? This guy deserves everyone’s total respect. The planet is lucky to have him on board!

Most of us know someone with Alzheimer’s. It’s an epidemic. Finally there’s hope! More and larger studies are needed, as usual, but this one had 10 patients, 9 of whom either recovered or improved significantly. The one who didn’t improve had advanced Alzheimer’s.

Enjoy listening to this brilliant scientist, Dale Bredesen, MD, right here. <== Click those orange words. 🙂 Preserve your gifted mind so you can continue producing your brilliant creative work. The world needs your voice.

You can also read the paper and watch Dr. Bredesen’s videos.

(By the way, I have no affiliation or relationship with Dr. Bredesen or Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac, the man doing the interview.)

OK, Johanna’s story is nearing the end. One more chapter to come, if she cooperates. After that, I’m probably going to re-work it, making it less of a blog-novel by eliminating much of the nonfiction stuff – unless you write and talk me out of it. The plan is to mold her story into a legit genre novel. It may be impossible, so depending on the input I receive, I may move on to another novel. If you’ve read the whole thing, please drop me an email and give me your advice: cytopathology (at) gmail (dot) com.

Keep writing! I’m watching Jessica Brody’s Productivity Hacks for Writers. It’s insightful and full of ingenious methods of getting you into the flow state for writing. If you sign up for her free stuff she’ll send you a coupon that lowers the cost from 30 dollars to 17. I paid the thirty before I noticed the discount in my email. I’m told Udemy would give me the discount if I complained, but this course is worth more than the $30 I paid. Let’s just make sure you pay the lower price if you buy it. 🙂 (I have no affiliation with Jessica Brody or Udemy.)

Love and hugs,

Talmage


Warriors (Chapter 19) “Hapa Girl DNA” by M. Talmage Moorehead

“In a materialist worldview of an arbitrary, mechanistic, unfeeling Universe there is every reason to feel alienated, lonely, fearful and depressed. On the other hand, in a blissfully conscious Universe there is every reason to feel inherently connected to people and to the world, to feel loved, hopeful, happy, at peace with oneself and others.” – Dada Gunamuktananda

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Anahata’s black floor vibrates beneath Shiva’s Throne as the giant convex screen in front of me flashes from one white-out to the next. I wish I understood what sort of weapons they’re firing at us.

“We could prolong the dance,” Anahata says, “but why?”

“To buy time,” I tell her. “How long do we have?”

“Five minutes at this pace.”

To the left of Shiva’s Throne the air turns gray. Pink sparks crackle. The Ganga appears on the floor looking like a hologram for a second, then she’s solid. Dark purple.

“Get out fast,” Vedanshi says in the River.

“No, stay in there!” I shout silently. “Leave now, while you can.”

The Ganga’s hull shifts dimensions, making Vedanshi and James visible on either side of Maxwell. They’re tugging on his arms to get him up off the carpet.

He’s up now on bent knees, wobbling from the edge of the rug onto Anahata’s glossy floor. All three of them turn and look at me with wide eyes. The Ganga’s hull changes to an opaque pulsating glow of ultraviolets.

“We were going for a fast grab to get you out of here,” James says. “Then something hit us. Totally screwed The Ganga.” He glances at Vedanshi.

“We barely made it,” she say.

“You shouldn’t have come,” I tell them. “I don’t know where to start…”

“We know what’s going on,” Maxwell says, his voice all gravel. “We heard everything through the ring.”

I glance at my fingers and rub the ring with my thumb to make sure it’s still there.

“You look green,” I say to Maxwell. “Come here and sit down. This chair’s just your size.”

I pull the straps away from my chest, something clicks and they come loose. There’s no friction as the white seatbelts slither over my clothes and vanish into the upholstery. I get out of Shiva’s Throne and go over to take Maxwell’s left arm from Vedanshi. James ducks his head under Maxwell’s right arm and we help the big guy over into the chair. His butt hits the holographic ostrich feathers and the sound of air brakes bounces around the semicircular room.

I lean towards Maxwell on my toes and kiss the side of his head. I’m getting bold.

“Gunner,” James says to me.

He should know. I turn and hug him so tight I hope I don’t break his ribs. He’d never tell me.

“Anahata,” I say out loud. “I’d like you to meet my amazing brother, James.”

James glances around the room. “Hey,” he says. “You’re one big-ass spaceship.”

Anahata moans. “I tagged you in that Vimana.”

“For reals,” James says. “Left foot.”

Don’t admit it!

James takes his left foot out of its rubber slipper and shows off an area of missing epidermis.

“This just keeps getting worse,” Anahata mumbles, her voice coming through the air. It’s odd hearing her words through my ears. “James, I’m honored to meet you,” she says. “You have an amazing sister.”

“Yeah, kind of short, but otherwise OK, I guess.” He holds a deadpan face. Classic. “This other knockout is Vedanshi, The Role of the Sacred Knowledge.” He gestures in her direction with an open palm.

She’s standing near The Ganga, staring up at the strobing screen. “Nice to meet you, Anahata, the Unbeaten.” Her lips didn’t move.

“You’re with Earth’s older breakaway,” Anahata says.

The floor shakes with new force. I wonder if the Sentient Fleet has switched weapons on us.

“I’m afraid you know more about Earth’s rulers than I do,” Vedanshi says. “My only friends are here in this room.”

“You’re the pilot,” Anahata says.

“Yes,” she answers. “And this is The Ganga.” She turns a sorrowful face on her UFO friend, glowing the color of a failing baby on life support.

“This is the ship I was talking about,” I say to Anahata. “You don’t know her, but she’s one of you. At least in spirit. She’s always trying to do the right thing but making the occasional mega-stupid mistake.”

“I don’t make stupid mistakes,” Anahata says.

“Yeah you do. Mirror images. She wouldn’t let Vedanshi into the River Libraries on her dead mother’s orders. Same lame thing Shiva did to you, and you’re still following his orders.”

Anahata sighs. “This man in Shiva’s Throne is heavy with opiates.”

“Maxwell Mason,” I tell her, “the man of my dreams.” Shoot, I said that out loud. “The opiates are just a phase he’s going through,” I tell her in my head, trying to think of a future where Maxwell proves me right.

“Opiates destroy character,” Anahata says.

“And free will,” I say silently. “He’s not perfect, but he doesn’t plan to drown me.” He actually saved me twice.

“I wish I were dead,” Anahata blurts out.

It’s weird. I can feel her ‘eyes’ turning away from me and staring out at the artillery. I don’t even know if she has eyes, or anything remotely similar.

“Max is in withdrawal,” I say to her.

“Do tell.”

“Can you help him?”

She grunts. “Here… I’ll take off a methyl or two and kick the noxious substrates down. It won’t help his willpower, though.”

“Slow breathing might.”

Maxwell straightens up, takes a deep breath and stretches. He looks surprised. “Damn,” he says. “I’m taking this chair home.” He holds his right hand out and stares at it. “Not even shaking. My legs aren’t burning, either.” He stomps his heels.

“Compliments of Anahata,” I tell him.

“Really? Thanks a metric ton, Anahata.” He looks up at the screen, then down at me with a crooked grin. “You said I’m the man of your dreams.” It’s a full grin now.

“Sorry,” I tell him. “Probably not a normal thing to say.”

“Normal? You think I give a rat’s ass…”

“Anyway,” I interrupt, “Anahata’s about ready to drown me. Unless the Fleet kills her first – in which case we all die. Right, Anahata?”

She says nothing.

“I figured as much,” Maxwell says.

“But you brought my brother here anyway? How could you do that?”

“It wasn’t his decision,” James says. “We barely let him come with us, the shape he’s been in.”

I turn and hug James again. I’ve spent my life trying to protect him. From himself, mostly. I feel like such a failure now. “Why in the world did you have to come here?” I ask, holding back tears.

“I’m sixteen,” he says. “Not eight. You think you wouldn’t have come after me?”

I start to say, “That’s different,” but it’s not.

All I can do is hug him… My little ‘Hurricane James,’ sword fighting a tree in the backyard. Always a stick in his hand. I just want to go back to those days… when Mom and Daddy were alive.

“Can you help my ship?” Vedanshi asks Anahata.

“Sure,” Anahata says. “Looks like she took one in the chops. There’s neural damage but it’s mostly synaptic. Here you go, back to the mids for now.”

The Ganga stops glowing. She’s a lighter violet now, too.

“You’re done?” Vedanshi asks.

“Yeah, she’ll be fine.”

“Areey!” Vedanshi’s eyes are shining. “Thank you so much. Will she wake up soon?”

“Probably. But I can’t have you running off. Sorry. I’ll have to ground her for a while. I have my…”

“Orders,” Vedanshi says. She sits on the hard floor and crosses her legs. “Following orders is a type of religious fundamentalism. Surrendering your mind to a uniform instead of a sacred book. Tell me, if God doesn’t think for you, why should Shiva?”

“You’re welcome,” Anahata says softly. “Your little Ganga’s going to need some sun.”

“After you’ve drowned us, what will you do to her?”

“I don’t know… Look, I’m really sorry about all this.”

“Will you sell her?”

“No, of course not, she’s sentient. Nothing to test either, she doesn’t breathe air.”

“No, she doesn’t,” Vedanshi says and leans sideways, resting her head on The Ganga’s hull.

“Maybe she’ll join the ancients in Antarctica,” Anahata suggests. “No sentient ships down there, though. It could get lonely.”

“She gets very lonely,” Vedanshi says.

“If she’ll forgive me for following orders, she can join my fleet. Or replace it, I guess. After all this shooting’s done.”

The floor seems to ripple, then a ten by ten slab from the ceiling crashes to the floor behind Vedanshi. She doesn’t jump, just turns and looks.

“Sorry,” Anahata says. “I need to focus.” A hundred irregular pieces of stone float back up to the ceiling and become part of the polished marble surface up there.

“Are you really going to kill your sisters?” I ask.

“It’s that or die in shameful disobedience.”

“I sort of get that,” I say, but really, I’d die in disgrace a hundred times before killing James. “Tell me, is there a spacesuit around here?”

“Why?”

“I’m going out for a smoke.”

“What?”

“Those sisters of yours. Shooting the hell out of us? I’ll bet my life they hold their fire when I’m out on your hull.”

“I’d stop shooting,” she says. “Hmm. I could let you out. Extend the shield around you, but what then?”

“I’ll tell them the truth. It tends to be antifragile, you know. Like an out-of-the-money long option?”

“Huh?”

“Enhanced by risk, danger and volatility.”

Nassim Nicholas Taleb gets things right. Academics hate him for it. I love him. He says that if you see fraud and don’t shout, “fraud,” you become part of the fraud. Elites don’t tend to shout fraud when it’s part of their own system.

He tells us that biological systems benefit from unstable, unpredictable environments that cause many small failures which, in turn, strengthen a species to avoid the real failure, extinction. He’s right. God designed us that way. Biological life is antifragile. Not just “robust,” as in weathering storms with little damage, but antifragile: becoming stronger because of the storm.

This is also true of the human mind and its access to free will. Stress your soul with use and it grows like a muscle.

Truth, too, Taleb tells us, is antifragile. Try to suppress accurate knowledge and it becomes a force too great to hide. Steven Greer is counting on this.

“You mean truth is biological?” Anahata asks.

“Yeah, basically,” I answer. “I’ll only tell what we both know… That I’ll do anything to keep my brother alive.”

“I believe that,” she says.

“I’ll tell them that if they’ll stop shooting, I’ll shut you down from the inside. Hopefully I won’t kill you, but I have trouble with my temper sometimes. That’s the truth.”

“I know,” she says. “I mean, I know you’d shut me down or worse if you could. Part of me wants that, to be honest. This whole nightmare keeps getting worse.”

“Doesn’t it? Sheesh.”

“You realize now I have to test your little brother.” Anahata groans. “And his pilot friend, Vedanshi – I assume she was there, too.”

“I was,” Vedanshi says.

“Damn, I’m sorry,” Anahata says to her. “This man, Maxwell. Please tell me he wasn’t with you.”

If we weren’t talking in the River, Maxwell would call dibs on drowning first.

“Do what you’ve got to do,” I tell Anahata. “Maybe I’ll get your sisters to stop shooting so you can drown me in peace.”

“The more time fundamentalists have to think, the better,” Vedanshi says.

“If my death saves your fleet,” I tell her, “it beats dying for the amusement of Chairman Jock Itch.”

“You sound like a warrior,” Anahata says.

“No. Vedanshi’s got a point. Warriors are forced to be fundamentalists. All of you stop thinking when the orders stop making sense. I tried that sort of thing once but I couldn’t turn off my critical thinking for Church school.”

Anahata grunts.

“Don’t get me wrong,” I tell her, “I love your character. But fundamentalism is a bike I can’t ride. Can’t reach the peddles, no offence.”

“Offense?” she says. “That’s the furthest thing from my heart. If I could, Johanna, I would die instead of you.”

“That’s sweet, but it’s a big if, isn’t it?” I glance over at Vedanshi in Warrior-One yoga position. Eyes shut. I wish I had her calm. “Let’s do this. Where do you hide the extra-smalls?”

“You don’t need a suit,” Anahata says. “Walk through the screen. I’ll extend the shield and hug your back.”

A white cord shoots out of Shiva’s Throne, encircles my waist, goes diagonally across my chest and ties itself in a square knot. Then the ends fuse together.

“Just in case,” Anahata says.

In case of what, I don’t want to know. I pull Parvati’s locket up over my head, untangle it from my hair and put it in my pocket. Then I walk to the screen. My right hand passes through it up to the wrist.

Looks like Jame followed me. “What’s happening?” he asks.

“I’m doing a pizza run.”

“I’ll go with you.”

“No, stay close to The Ganga. If she wakes up, grab Vedanshi and Max and haul ass out of here.”

“I’m not leaving without…”

His voice is gone the moment my ears move into Anahata’s hull. It’s like putting your head in water. There’s a blue granular light that comes and goes when my eyes pass a certain area. I bet this is Anahata’s cortex. If it runs through the entire hull, she has a truckload of pyramidal cells. And Oligo’s. Trillions.

The hull is thick. I put both hands out beyond the outer layer and poke my head out into space. I can’t imagine this technology.

The fleet is lined up in a single row, hanging over a velvet sea of stars in the three-dimensional blackness. Space has a calmness.

An orb from the fleet hits Anahata’s shield turning it into a bright orange-red fog a hundred feet thick. It vanishes the next instant. I’m waving my hands, but the fleet’s still shooting… blue-gray spheres. They glow deep blue just before they hit.

I should talk to the Fleet.

“Hey ladies, don’t kill me. I’m outside. We got to talk.”

“The time for talking is past,” the Chairman says. His voice is coming from Vedanshi’s cloaked ring. I move it close to my mouth.

“I don’t mean you, Scrotumer. Why anybody would listen to a man with that moustache is beyond me. Just try to shut up for a while… Hey, warriors? Can you hear me? There’s something you need to know.”

The orbs from the center ships stop in mid-flight. The ones from the ships on the ends keep coming, but they’re slowing. Now they’ve all stopped.

“Thanks,” I tell them. “Listen, things have changed in the last five minutes. My brother and best friends just crashed the party. They’re in Anahata’s main room. She plans to drown them, God forgive her. You guys understand what it means to be sisters, I can tell that. It’s the exact same deal if you’ve got a little brother. That’s what I’ve got. His name is James. He’s been tagged by Anahata.”

“He’s not our concern,” the Chairman says.

“Chairman Ballsac, would you just shut up. If I want your opinion, I’ll ask.”

“Continue firing,” he says calmly.

“Ladies, ignore the coward. James is your big picture here. I’ll do anything to protect him. Anahata knows it and respects me for it. She wasn’t the slightest bit pissed when I told her I’m coming out here to tell you that if you’ll stop shooting for a while, I’ll go back inside and do everything in my power to disarm her. I’ll try not to kill her, but honestly, that option is wide open right now and I told her so.”

“You did?” It’s a female voice coming through the ring. She sounds surprised.

“Yeah. My brother’s here, for frick’s sake. You get that, I’ll bet. Anahata sure as hell does.”

“This is Radhika,” the voice says. “We understand perfectly. You have twenty-four hours, but we have one condition…”

“Thirty minutes,” the Chairman bellows.

“Ignore him,” I tell the Sentient Fleet. “What’s your condition?”

“Anahata must erase your leukemia,” she says. “Immediately.”

“I rubbed the clone out hours ago,” Anahata says. “What do you take me for?”

“It’s nice to hear your voice, Anahata,” Radhika says.

“And yours,” Anahata says. “Johanna can’t disarm me, you realize. I almost wish she could.”

“She’s got 30 minutes,” the Chairman adds.

“Why do you listen to this toad?” Anahata asks.

“We heard the ancient minutes,” Radhika replies.

“Not enough of them, apparently,” I tell her. “Anahata has actually been inside a River Library. With me. She knows Shiva’s biggest secret now.”

“Twenty-nine minutes,” the Chairman says.

“Radhika, how much time do I really have?” I ask.

Silence eats a dozen seconds. “One hour,” she finally says. “I can’t think of anything you could do to defend yourself against Anahata, but then, I can’t imagine what your DNA does. That seven and eighteen.”

“Yeah, some weird stuff, I hear. But I’m strong with codes. It’s what I do. If I survive, I’ll help you girls figure it out.”

“Godspeed, Johanna,” she says.

“Back at you, Radhika.”

I pull myself into the hull with the white strap and there’s the weird light again, probably the rods and cones of my retinas moving through Anahata’s neurons, messing with who knows what? Maybe the dimensions of free will.

There’s Anahata’s floor again with my brother standing between Maxwell and Vedanshi. The Ganga’s looking dark gray now, an improvement, I think.

You know, I probably should have given some thought to disarming Anahata before this, but maybe I could…

A cylinder of fluid streaks down from the ceiling and surrounds James as fast as I can focus my eyes. It stands like a glass of water, but without the glass. James is pushing out and up on the sides to keep from floating to the ceiling. He looks calm.

So this is Shiva’s test.

But why would James have to go first? It’s so gut-wrenchingly unfair the way the world treats him. Again and again. If someone would normally get a warning, he gets two weeks in jail with a gang and no phone calls. It’s cruel and it’s just evil!

Breathe, Johanna. 

Nah, forget it.

“Anahata, I’m going to boil you in battery acid. Leave my brother alone!”

M. Talmage Moorehead

This story starts here as a WordPress scrolling document. No email address needed.

Also check out my infallible ebook, “Writing Meaningful Page-Turners.” I may start writing to you in a few months if you don’t immediately unsubscribe. But it’s alright if you do. 🙂

If you have Multiple Sclerosis or any other autoimmune disease, check out The Wahls Protocol. Dr. Wahls is an academic physician doing groundbreaking research. Her results continue to be remarkable. Watch her videos and read her book.

It’s that “everything’s vanilla in the real world” mindset that locks people out of life-altering nonfiction and our natural thirst for knowledge. Most doctors, for instance, don’t read their own specialty journals cover to cover, let alone basic science research where the insights and breakthroughs usually begin.

Basic science on lab mice is where Dr. Wahls turned when the monster was killing her. When the best US doctors in captivity couldn’t slow its progression, she took matters into her own hands. If there wasn’t science throughout her story, people would call it a miracle. I’ll call it that anyway, I guess. Wait till you hear her tell it on YouTube! Wow.

I’m liking the concept of having “empathy for the reader” as Shawn Coyne puts it. It’s ironic that fiction writers who refuse to “sell out” by writing for non-academic readers are sometimes ripping readers off. Twice. Once for the price of the (often) boring book, and once again for the value of the reader’s time spent reading to the disappointing ending. That’s kind of “selling out” to selfishness, in a way. No?

Keep writing steadily. This means you, the one with something important to say. There’s gotta be a balance out there somewhere between our soul’s needs as writers and our reader’s needs as good deserving people. Empathy for both seems right to me.

Talmage