Virus (Chapter 15) Hapa Girl DNA by M. Talmage Moorehead

“Instead of an intellectual search, there was suddenly a very deep gut feeling that something was different. It occurred when looking at Earth and seeing this blue-and-white planet floating there, and knowing it was orbiting the Sun, seeing that Sun, seeing it set in the background of the very deep black and velvety cosmos, seeing – rather, knowing for sure – that there was a purposefulness of flow, of energy, of time, of space in the cosmos – that it was beyond man’s rational ability to understand, that suddenly there was a nonrational way of understanding that had been beyond my previous experience.

“There seems to be more to the universe than random, chaotic, purposeless movement of a collection of molecular particles.

“On the return trip home, gazing through 240,000 miles of space toward the stars and the planet from which I had come, I suddenly experienced the universe as intelligent, loving, harmonious.”

Edgar Mitchell (1930-2016), Apollo 14 Astronaut and God’s messenger.

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The Ganga and I are plowing over library artifacts off the southern end of Easter Island, below sea level.

On the way here nine fighter jets crossed over the island, looking like pin points in formation from near space. The Ganga said they were US Air Force. We jumped into the landing bay from way out there. I think The Ganga was nervous about it, but I don’t see why. We’re phase-shifted.

I’m keeping an eye on the clock in my head. In five hours I’m due on Saturn’s north pole. If I’m late, no telling what they’ll do to me. The Ganga claims she could go all the way to Saturn in less than a thousandth of a second if she wanted to. One jump. She says it might be dangerous in her current state of mind. The scalar orbs took a toll.

Block letters float two feet from my face now, a list of “Shiva” references. Thousands of linked books and 3D videos mention the Indian god who dances today in front of the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland.

A falling sensation pulses through me every twenty seconds, as if I’d stayed up all night. I haven’t. It’s the leukemia thickening my blood with blasts. I wish I had time to hunt for a cure. Vedanshi and James went off to search the base for a medical suite, bless their hearts. Maxwell is asleep beside me here in The Ganga as she hovers within the Library.

The oldest document about Shiva says he was born on Earth about four hundred thousand years ago, if I understand the dates. I probably don’t. They’re weird in every way. Shiva grew up in the warrior class of the Rama Empire, trained hard and went to his first battle in a place we call Rajasthan, India. A blast straight from the ancient Mahabharata took his life that morning. The description makes my skin crawl…

“…a single projectile
Charged with all the power of the Universe.
An incandescent column of smoke and flame
As bright as a thousand suns
Rose in all its splendour…
a perpendicular explosion
with its billowing smoke clouds…
…the cloud of smoke
rising after its first explosion
formed into expanding round circles
like the opening of giant parasols…
..it was an unknown weapon,
An iron thunderbolt,
A gigantic messenger of death,
Which reduced to ashes
The entire race of the Vrishnis and the Andhakas.
…The corpses were so burned
As to be unrecognisable.
The hair and nails fell out;
Pottery broke without apparent cause,
And the birds turned white.
After a few hours
All foodstuffs were infected…
…to escape from this fire
The soldiers threw themselves in streams
To wash themselves and their equipment.”

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After that life, Shiva seems to have come back as an ancient Australia Prince with acute knowledge of the Universe. His face and name bear no resemblance to the slain warrior of so-called prehistoric India, but the River insists the man was still somehow Shiva, and adds Shiva in pink 3D letters beside the name, Prince Ranwul.

I open a virtual-reality video. The date, if I’m right, makes it older than most of Antarctica’s blue ice.

The technology of the recording media pulls me in. It’s as if I’m in a ship moving through space in nonlocal jumps the way The Ganga does. A deep voice brings up the problem of child abuse and shows a tribe in the Amazon Rain Forest.

The adults tie bullet ants to straw mittens they’ve woven, place the mittens over the hands of two little boys and watch the torture. The boys scream in shock. They writhe on their feet, stagger and squat, then stand, struggle to take random steps then squat again in agony and horror. One of them comes close to me. The heat of his breath touches my face. He tries to be strong but the pain is overwhelming. In a weak moment he turns to the adults and begs for help. No help comes. He looks straight into my eyes and begs me to make the pain go away. I reach for him, but my hands pass through his shoulders. I cover my eyes, but I still hear him screaming and moaning. I peek through my fingers until finally the adults take off the mittens and view their work. The boys’ small hands are swollen and red. Both boys collapse, barely conscious. The adults take their arms, stand them up and force them to dance, arm in arm.

I’m about to throw up.

The narrator tries to say something but begins to cry. Sobs come in waves each time he tries to speak. Somehow I realize that one of the boys is his son. But there’s no way I could know that.

With no segue, the video puts me into a classroom of toddlers sitting at desks of steel with white quartz desktops showing embedded monitors that glow with hieroglyphics I don’t recognize. Their young faces are wide-eyed as they listen to an adult recite the science of a meaningless Universe. The myth involves giants and apes. It has a modern ring of mindless events producing genetic code through the magic of time.

The narrator gains his composure and says, “The tropical ant torture is designed to create warriors with wills of steel. It can be justified in this markedly primitive world. The myth of apes is a slow poison to joy and purpose. Such torture has no justification.”

A montage shows each of the students from the classroom going through life’s struggles, growing up and arriving in their teen years. Then, all but one of them is found lying dead beside a suicide note.

“If this is it, I’m done,” the first note says, written by a boy.

The fourth one is from a girl. “I’m sorry, Mom, there’s no reason to go on. I just want it to end and be over.”

The last note is from a boy who looks fifteen, the side of his face rests gently on the pillow of his bed: “Mom, you keep telling me I was such a happy little boy. I remember, but I never wanted to get older. Especially not ten. Time keeps eating up your life. And you learn the truth. Everything that matters is fake. It took a while to sink in after fat-ass Swaslee’s lectures. But yeppers. Nothing means a damn thing. I really see that now. But silly me, I still wonder if ending this lie could be real. Like maybe there’s something real if you actually do it to yourself. So anyways, make sure Ymji gets my sitar. Make him do horticulture or music. Maybe both. But Mom, damn it, don’t let these bastards tell him the truth. Let him think there’s a reason for things.”

They show the lone surviving boy playing a virtual reality game that reminds me of Zombie Apocalypse. I used to tell James that video games destroy free will. He would grunt and keep playing.

The holographic suicide notes magically cluster together, side by side on a green table. Then they fade to black-and-white and lose their 3D appearance.

“If you close one eye,” the Narrator says, “the world is two-dimensional for you. This is like Earth’s science, a masochistic cult with one eye open to the material world, the other squeezed tightly shut to filter out all other realities including the mind, the hope for meaning and purpose, the validity of love, courage, altruism, and the untiring selflessness of the greats. Closed off. Denied. Discounted. Anahata, hear and obey, to substitute mathematics for inductive reasoning, myth for curiosity, dogma for objectivity – this is the destroyer of Earth. Never let the virus leave my planet.”

Credits run from right to left. The name, Shiva, appears in pink beside the narrator’s name, Quyllur.

I’d better hurry.

I visualize Saturn’s north pole and subvocalize, “rendezvous.”

A book appears and floats in front of me. Its cover shows Titan’s methane sea with Saturn ascending.

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I open it mentally. It says that Saturn’s north pole is held in hexagonal configuration by the partially phase shifted walls of Shiva’s abandoned palace. It was once a heavily traveled meeting place, a rendezvous for extended families whose homes are separated by countless light years. Nothing confirms Vaar’s advice that I should go there.

I ask The Ganga if she can find the ship that tagged us and board it the way we did with Vaar’s ship.

“Easily,” she says, “assuming it’s still orbiting the Moon.”

Yeah, I think it makes more sense to go to the source than to trust Vaar.

The Ganga takes us through the granite walls of the library and into a room the size of a football field with a thirty-foot ceiling and rows of crops floating in rectangular stone pots. I see James at the far end of a row of Banana plants. He shouts that they’ve found medical rooms, and points over his shoulder to a door behind him. Vedanshi is with him. The Ganga glides toward them, bananas moving through her hull. I don’t bother to dodge the massive green and yellow clusters, I just relax and let them go through me.

I try to explain my plan, but they insist on coming along.

“No,” I tell them and make a fist for emphasis, “I have to do this alone.”

I slap Maxwell’s face trying to wake him, but he doesn’t come around.

“I think I should go instead of you,” Vedanshi says with a pained look.

“Forget it,” I tell her. “I need you here with James. I’ll send The Ganga back when I’m inside the ship. It’s not like I’ll be wasting away in some prison for fifty years.” I chuckle, but she doesn’t.

“I’m the one with paint on my foot,” James says. “They’ll come after me anyways.”

“You could be right,” I say, “but I hope not. Maybe they’ll think I was the only one in The Ganga.”

I slide Maxwell to the edge of the Indian carpet. James helps me lower him to the red obsidian floor. This man is solid muscle and no lightweight. Part of me wishes he’d wake up and say good-bye. The other part is thankful I don’t have to argue with him. I know he’d insist on coming along.

“Take the com,” Vedanshi says, twisting the base of her left fourth finger and tugging at it. “It’s a ring. Permanently cloaked. You can talk to The Ganga from anywhere.” I squint at the arc-shaped indentations in the palmar sides of her thumb and forefinger as she holds it in front of me. It’s almost undetectable. She takes my left hand, puts it over my middle finger and slides it on. I bend the finger and start to feel the ring’s delicate mass. “It’s loose on you,” she says, “but don’t worry. If it falls off, The Ganga always finds it and brings it back.”

“I hate this whole thing,” James says with tears in his eyes. “If The Ganga comes back empty, I’m getting in and coming after you. I don’t care if your logic is perfect.”

“I love you,” I tell him, reaching out to thump his chest.

Vedanshi takes his arm. “He’s got a pilot for the trip.”

I give her a smile of appreciation. My eyes are dry. It’s intense this side of volition.

I step back into The Ganga, take a seat on the thick rug and kiss the air toward my brother and his ancient girlfriend. As long as he’s happy, it’s all good.

In less than a blink I’m a mile above the surface of the Moon, orbiting fast. The Ganga inserts the bronze filter to let me see the ship if she finds it.

“You’re going to board it,” I tell her, “drop me off, and jump back to Vedanshi guys. No hesitation. Don’t give that ship a second to react.”

“I’ll keep an eye on you,” The Ganga says. “I’ll duck in and out randomly from a distance. I’ll probably look like background noise.”

“Bad idea,” I tell her. “If you get caught, James, Vedanshi and Max are royally screwed.”

“Valid,” she says. “But I won’t get caught. If there’s danger of it, I’ll leave and listen through the ring.”

We’re already in our fiftieth unique orbit. An ancient lava flow covering a million and a half square miles makes a visual blip each orbit. Oceanus Procellarum – something to count.

“There it is,” The Ganga says.

“Go!” I tell her, push to my feet and stand, legs bent for balance. “Drop me off and leave.”

My last two words echo from the bare walls of a room that’s about fifty feet wide and eighty feet long. The ceiling glows pale white, just inches above my head. I touch a near wall to steady myself. It’s cold and stonelike. I tap it with my knuckles. No internal resonance. I take a seat on the hard dark floor, cross my legs, slow my breathing and close my eyes. Ones and zeros appear as I’d hoped. I relax and let their code understand me, the way Vedanshi said.

“Don’t be afraid,” I say silently. “I won’t hurt you if I don’t have to. I’m Johanna Fujiwara.”

“You talk,” a female voice says inside my mind. “But you’re dying, aren’t you?”

“I have leukemia. That’s not why I’m here. You tagged my ship. I didn’t know about the quarantine, but when I found out I turned myself in.”

“How is it that you speak the River in modern English? Where were you born?”

“I have people I’m trying to protect. I can’t tell you much about myself until I know your intentions.” I stand and look around. It’s a music room with a golden harp in the center. The crest of the harp supports a seven-inch statue of Shiva dancing in front of a golden ring.

“You keep thoughts from your verbal centers,” the ship says. “Where did you learn machine language?”

“We’re not machines. We have free will, you and I.” On a stand beside the harp is a long, curved tubular structure that looks like an Australian didgeridoo with a holographic image of an elephant protruding from the side, defying the Moon’s modest gravity. I move closer and it’s not an elephant. It’s a woolly mammoth. This instrument was a mammoth tusk.

“I see you have a cloaked ring,” the ship says. “Would you uncloak it and grant me a peek?”

“I don’t think so. I hardly know you.”

“I am Anahata, the Unbeaten. Lead vehicle of Shiva’s Fleet. Or so I was. Things do change. Before Shiva died, he told me to stay here and keep his people on the planet. That’s what I do. An honor, but it’s pulled me off the lineup.”

“Promoted to a desk job, eh? Unfortunate. Maybe I can help you with that.”

Beside the Mammoth tusk there’s a five-foot vertical bird wing made of dark metal. I tap it with a fingernail. It gives off a bell tone – a rich deep C-sharp, two octaves below middle C.

“What do you plan to do with me?” I ask.

“I’m not sure. I’m still trying to see what you are. So far, your chromosomes say you’re not from Earth. How did you get inside the music room? Are you a new type of angel?”

I step over to the harp and pluck it. “In a few days, maybe.” The strings are tight and the notes sustain in the acoustics of the hard room. “Just to be clear, Anahata, you do have neurons in your hull, don’t you?”

“So they tell me. But why can’t I find any trace of the tag you say I placed on you?”

“Can’t give you that detail yet, sorry.” I walk over to a dark part of the wall, reach out to touch it but my fingertips go right in. I poke an arm in and withdraw it. I bet this is a door. I put my right leg into the wall, touch down on something I can’t see, and step through into a large room with a huge pool beneath a bright ceiling, sixty feet high. A trapeze bar hangs a foot from the center of the glassy water. “You don’t have a crew, do you?”

“Not anymore,” she says. “Your Chromosome 9 is all Earth. You’re a hybrid.”

“I’m a Hapa girl.”

“You have mixed neural sets with loci that aren’t on record. I have access to the codes of every intelligent species in Shiva’s strand, and I can tell you with certainty that one of your grandparents came from beyond Shiva’s borders, which are, if you don’t know, wider than anything you could possibly imagine.”

Ojiichan. I wonder if he knew.

“What to do?” she says. “There’s no protocol for this.”

“You should let me go,” I tell her. “Together we could teach objectivity to the people of Earth. Eradicate the quarantined mindset through unbiased education. If we succeeded, you’d be free to lead the fleet again.”

“But Shiva is dead.”

“Was he the kind of man to give up on his own people?”

“Well, yes, actually,” she says. “It wasn’t so long ago that he killed a third of them.”

“On Mars, you mean. I thought he did that to save the other two-thirds.”

“One might see it that way.”

“How do you see it?”

“Well, he liked to shake things up. And blow things up. And carve graffiti. He made even the worst things seem fun.”

“He believed that destruction cleared a path for new life,” I suggest, borrowing from tradition.

“How would you know?”

“I’m mostly guessing,” I admit. “But you should be warned, I’m an unbelievably lucky guesser.” I kneel beside the pool and touch the water’s surface. It’s warm.

“Look at this… You carry a nearly classic Bender on 23!”

Nearly classic?” I have no idea what she’s talking about.

“Can you move objects with your mind?” she asks.

“I’ve never tried.” I take my shoes off and dip my right foot in the water. “Is your pool safe?”

“For most species, yes. For an unknown hybrid, I can’t say.”

“What do you do with people from Earth?”

“The ones who reach the rendezvous are tested on Saturn’s moon, Titan. Any who don’t make it there are collected and tested here. I do that myself.”

“What’s the test for?”

The pool looks shallow at this end. It’s hard to resist when you’re covered with grime. A few black cat hairs still cling to my pants from this morning. What the heck. I strip to the cloaked ring as fast as I can and jump in before I change my mind. The water is like heaven, at least 90 degrees. I do a few of my pathetic crawl strokes and check for the bottom. It’s still there. Man, this feels good!

“I have no idea what we’re testing for,” she says. “Shiva said if anyone ever tests positive, we’d know.”

“But with no idea what’s positive, how can you identify a negative?”

“The subjects die. That’s negative. Anything else would be positive.”

 …

M. Talmage Moorehead

This story begins here as a one-page scrolling document.

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

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


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

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

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The phone rings and rings but no one answers.

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

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

“Why the Moon?” The Ganga asks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I heard that,” she says. 

Whoa.

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

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

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

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

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

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

But usually I think without pictures or words.

Usually I think without pictures or words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tears filled my eyes.

Notice what fills Nagel’s eyes…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now he’s an infidel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Perfectionism is an asymmetry overlooked by perfectionists.

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

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

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

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

“We’re on the moon,” I tell him.

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

“Not a problem,” The Ganga tells me.

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

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

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

The Ganga takes us closer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s Vaar’s voice.

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

“Where’s my brother?” I ask.

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

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

Breathe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her face is blank.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She nods.

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

“Yes,” she says.

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

“No.” Her eyes grow curious.

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

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

Words flash from a childhood Sabbath School book…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Maxwell opens his eyes and blinks.

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

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

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

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

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

She looks surprised but says nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

M. Talmage Moorehead

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, stay happy you guys!

Talmage