Stardust and Energy Alone – finally on YouTube

I read another short story on YouTube. It’s an old one that I wrote and posted here in 2017.

It’s kind of sad, so if you’re depressed, please don’t listen to it until you’re feeling way better. Which will be soon, I hope.

It’s called, Stardust and Energy Alone.

 

I’m thinking from now on I should focus only on the stories, not the video clips.

Stringing together video clips that follow a story to any vague degree is a time-consuming, tedious process that probably distracts the viewers from visualizing the story in their minds, the Earth’s high-tech simulators.

I may eventually take drone videos of local rivers and use those for background on YouTube. I’ve got a cheap learner-drone coming in the mail, so we’ll see. Hope it works out because I need more natural vitamin D3. Actually, I think there’s more health-related energy coming from sunshine than just the D3 conversion — assuming a person doesn’t over-do it and age their skin or worse.

I’m not sure if YouTube viewers would want the words scrolling across the video as I read. I could start doing that, I guess.

Any thoughts?

Tanks, pal,

Talmage

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash


Don’t Shoot Me in the Head

“Just don’t shoot me in the head,” I told the agent.

She pulled her gun away from my forehead, about an inch away. The right side of her mouth was smirking beyond the gun’s thick black handle.

I’d been a parapsychologist researcher at the Institute of Noetic Sciences for ten years. It’s an exciting place that was co-founded by the late astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, and now puts out some of the world’s best peer-reviewed “paranormal” science, over a thousand papers and counting. “Paranormal” will become normal, it’s only a matter of time.

My niche is the prospective study of near-death experiences. When someone is dying of natural causes and wants to become part of scientific history, we bring a level of objectivity that only prospective studies can capture. The weirder your findings, the more you need to document them. We’ve reported some incredibly strange things.

I looked into the cylinder of darkness that extended up the gun barrel and realized for the first time that I’m not afraid of death the way I was ten years ago. By now I’d seen enough to know that this life isn’t the end of consciousness.

On the other hand, I didn’t want to die and have to stop my research, or worse yet, die knowing that Brodsky would take over my work. The little troll is about as objective and rational as a two-year-old.

Despite having him breathing down my neck, I’ve been making observations that even the cult of reductive physicalists will be forced to accept someday. In light of my work and a hand full of others at the Institute, science will soon have to do a 180 and put intelligent consciousness back where it belongs, at the center of nature, not in the peripheral, illusory realm of an epiphenomenon.

I had another reason, though, for not wanting this agent to shoot me in the head. I wasn’t sure, but there seemed to be a chance that if my central nervous system was splattered across the mirrors behind me, I might miss out on my own near-death experience. My research subjects always tell me that their NDE was the most euphoric, meaningful and transformative event of their lives. I wanted to taste that richness myself, even if I didn’t live to document it for science.

“I’ve never heard that one before,” the agent said. “Think about it, though. Being shot in the head is probably the least painful way to go. Through the frontal lobes and down through the brainstem?” She angled her pistol to indicate the trajectory of her first bullet.

“Pain doesn’t concern me,” I said, realizing my words were a lie only after I’d said them.

“You’re a masochist?”

“I suppose so. That’s a good explanation.” I looked down.

She put the gun back to my forehead. “You’ve got me curious.”

When parents attach curiosity to dead cats in an effort to protect their wandering toddlers, it’s for good reason. Curiosity is the Super Glue of the mind. I now knew that this agent wouldn’t shoot me until I’d explained myself, so I asked if I could sit on the floor, and without waiting for consent, I took the liberty of squatting and then sitting on the cold, immaculate tile floor in front of her. Although she’d confronted me alone in a men’s bathroom, this particular one sparkled and had a floor that looked cleaner than the dinner plates downstairs in the establishment’s five-star restaurant.

I pulled my fake cigarette out of a coat pocket, put it in my lips and drew in a mouthful of staleness, inhaled and blew a nearly invisible puff of water vapor out the side of my mouth, politely away from her. I’ve never smoked real cigarettes, but this electronic device is often invaluable during interviews with NDE subjects. It seems to relax the atmosphere in the lab, showing the nervous hanger-on that I’m not judgmental or particularly binary. Whatever the mechanism, I’ve learned that if you want an NDE subject to give you the full details of a near-death experience without the editing and polish that we tend to see on the internet, you need to let these people see you for who and what you are, weaknesses and strengths alike. And you can’t just tell them or assure them that you’re OK, you need to show them that the person listening to them considers their concerns of sanity to be utterly irrelevant.

In the tradition of Scheherazade and the thousand tales that kept her alive, I decided to forgo the buildup I had planned, and instead opened with Mr. Santiago’s records.

“A couple of months ago, Jesus Santiago, a 72-year-old Hispanic male, came to me with less than three months to live. It was stage IV lung cancer, small cell, the worst. He’d lost his right lung. The hilar and mediastinal nodes were positive, bilateral adrenal mets, and we’d found a small brain metastasis in his cerebellum on our control MRI. Chemo hadn’t touched his disease, so he looked like a skeleton sitting there talking in drooping skin.”

The agent gave me a disgusted look. 

“All the greats who walk into my lab are like him. Just wanting to contribute something to science before they pass on.”

“So you sucked him in with a newspaper ad?”

“It was a Facebook ad, actually. They’re remarkably selective, despite this recent privacy thing.”

She sat down on the floor across from me, her head framed in one the Beverly Wilshire’s lavish urinals, and her gun arm dangling across her right knee with the pistol pointing casually at my testes.

Have you ever closed your eyes and had someone dangle a heavy knife over the bridge of your nose? You can literally feel it. This was much worse than that, but the same sort of thing.

She thrust her chin out, which meant, keep talking.

“We put Mr. Santiago in as much gentle cryo as he could tolerate and started draining his blood into a sterile plastic receptacle. You wouldn’t believe how stingy the Red Cross is with those things. I had to petition the manufacturer… But anyway, that’s essentially how we induce a near-death experience… through neuronal hypoxia, or perhaps it’s a shift from glucose to ketone bodies, we can’t rule that out yet.”

She pursed her lips in a deliberately bored expression.

“It usually works the first time,” I went on. “Every detail of the procedure is timed and controlled to make things reproducible in any lab around the world, should another researcher ever develop giant gonads like the ones you’re targeting with your pistol there. I don’t suppose you could point that thing at my chest?”

She sat like a marble statue with black lipstick.

“Anyway, Mr. Santiago slipped into the twilight zone while we recorded his flattening brainwaves and watched images of blood flow vanish from his brain via real-time fMRI. Bless the geeks who invented that machine, it’s a miracle of technology, really.”

There was a thump on the bathroom door. I looked over hoping no one would walk in and rescue me before I was done with the story.

The agent didn’t so much as glance at the door.

“Make it fast,” she said. “Looks like we’re passionate lovers this time. I’ll do the talking.”

I abbreviated things a bit, but pointed out that when Mr. Santiago’s EEG went flat, his heart had stopped and there was no discernible evidence of blood flow or glucose uptake in his brain, we cooled him further and set the timer to let us know when to bring him back. Four minutes is my routine to avoid permanent brain damage.

A half-hour later, Jesus was fully with us again, eyes wide, telling us of his dead relatives, the brightness of the scenery, the loving euphoria he’d felt in that realm, and an odd message he’d been sent back to this life to tell me.

The agent rolled her eyes.

I put on my game face and said that Mr. Santiago had gone on about how the work I was doing could transform the world if it ever penetrated the minds of the religious zealots in charge of science. He said that universal and personal consciousness need to be brought into the fold of real things worth studying. In this way, and in no other, he said, would humanity someday learn to overcome fear, aggression, and hatred, eventually to replace these destructive things with normal compassion, affection, and some degree of genuine love. He looked iffy on the love projection.

“How sweet,” the agent said, her eyes still stone.

Then I told her that the NDE client had warned me that there would be three attempts on my life by the CIA. He was apologetic as he described all three in detail and told me that the third one would come from a woman who went by the name, Angie.

“I assume that’s you?” I asked.

She didn’t respond.

“He told me to tell you that a being whom he referred to as God said that everyone who’s ever lived must experience life in a brain like yours, a brain without the capacity for empathy. He said to tell you that you won’t be trapped in this condition forever, so don’t lose hope.”

“You have inside connections,” the agent said. “It’s funny that the CIA would want to kill you.”

“I have no connections. Mr. Santiago told me to let you know that your mother is sorry for burning your fingers… when she caught you with matches? You were five, staying overnight in the Stardust Motel. He said you’d pretend not to remember. Is that what you’re doing?”

The agent drew in a breath and held it.

“Your mother was like you,” I told her, “stuck in a brain with little capacity for empathy or compassion.”

“I’ve never told anyone about the matches,” the agent said with a fresh hint of perplexity in her flawless young face.

“He also said you have a small mass the size of a garden pea in your left breast. Your nodes are still negative so you’ll need to have it removed as soon as possible. It’s malignant, high-grade with a high mitotic rate. My advice would be to have it removed at a large center where the surgeons and pathologists know how to handle margins properly. Many places don’t.”

She transferred the gun to her left hand, put her gun hand up her blouse and examined her right breast.

“I don’t feel anything,” she said.

“It’s on the left,” I reminded her.

Her hand moved to the other breast and in less than a second her eyes became fearful.

“It’s still pretty small,” I said. “Completely resectable for a cure, I was told.”

Tears suddenly fell from the outer corners of her eyes. She put her gun away, reached over and loosened my necktie, untucked my shirt and kissed my lips, deliberately smearing some of her black lipstick on my chin with her fingers after the kiss.

The bathroom door clicked open a moment later, and a red-haired man with keys on a ring and a Hotel logo on his lapel stepped in and looked at us with humble surprise.

The agent looked up at him and must have changed her ruse to take advantage of her tears. “We just found out that our little boy has a brain tumor. He’s only five years old!” She burst into heaving sobs, only to regain composure in a moment and say to the man, “I’m sorry. This was the only place I could find to break the news to my husband in private.” She leaned forward, put her arms around me and buried her face against me. Her crying sounded genuine.

I closed my eyes and kept my mouth shut the way she’d told me.

The man fumbled with his keys, apologized for the intrusion and said he’d leave the out-of-order sign up for as long as we needed it. He said he totally understood and would pray for our son. Then he closed the door and locked it.

“Thank you, sir,” the agent sputtered to the locked door.

I kept my eyes shut as we held each other for what seemed several minutes. Then she stopped crying and looked at me again, staring into my eyes at close range. I wasn’t sure if she might kiss me again or pull her gun out and shoot me.

“I don’t know how any of this is possible,” she said. “I’m trained and talented at spotting lies. You’re telling the truth if I’m any judge at all.” She sat up and put her right hand over her left breast on the outside of her blouse this time. “And here’s the physical evidence.”

Her face looked pale now.

“On the practical side,” I said, trying to sound cheerful, “you’ll always know exactly where to find me if you need to shoot me.” I intended to chuckle but couldn’t. “But please,” and this part I said soberly, “whatever you do, don’t shoot me in the head.” I looked around at the urinals, over at a triad of privately enclosed stalls with marble walls to the ceiling, and managed a chuckle.

“Shoot you?” she said. “God, no. I’m going to protect you, Doctor Salinger. For the rest of your life and probably mine.”

That makes three agents protecting me now. Two men and one unusually attractive woman. Physically attractive, at least. Perhaps my research would survive the CIA’s strange opposition to it.

We helped each other up off the floor and hugged, this time without her tears. When I broke the hug, she asked, “Did Mr. Santiago’s God mean that my brain could change in this lifetime?”

I looked at the floor.

“Or do I have to wait for the next?”

 

 

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD


Mercury Waves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

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

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

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

Mercury Waves (Second Draft)

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

We watch the waves and meditate.

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

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

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

The mercury waves of Ury.

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

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

The new AI’s are conscious, you know.

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

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

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

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

Rookie mistake. We humans made them all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like The Ganga and me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mtm

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

Mercury Waves of Ury (Third draft)

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

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

Just once.

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

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

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

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

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

On the quicksilver waves of Ury.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He plays a chicken clucking. Some chaperone.

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

He plays the sound of a braying donkey. Nice.

“OK then, one. Set it on one.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t know.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rookie mistake.

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

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

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

Krishna laughs.

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

“Ten?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope it hasn’t taken over Krishna.

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

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

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

Now I’m dizzy.

Consciousness shifts.

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

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

The waves and sea are the mind and brain.

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

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

But not the arrival on high.

Who’s saying this?

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

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

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

But I can’t.

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

“Wake up. Your pulse is fading.”

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

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

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

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

What’s going on?

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

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

“Are you in any pain?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Today all vestiges of race are gone except the surnames.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What have they done with Krishna?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

End of chapter 1.

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

Hey, if anybody read this far, thank you!

Talmage

 


If War Generals were MD’s

It’s midnight. Your squad sits in a valley with hills on all sides. Fifty hills. The ground beneath your boots vibrates with enemy tanks rumbling beyond the blind horizon.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they attacked from one direction? They’ve done it before.

But they could just as easily attack from fifty directions, the way you would.

You’ve seen war up close. You place a priority on winning.

But the Generals back in DC are MD’s now. Their “evidence based medicine” extends to every problem humanity faces, even war.

Today they’ve set up a test. Your orders are to defend whatever comes over the big hill to the north, ignoring attacks from other directions.

If your troops lose, the Generals will have ruled out the hill to the North.

After the loss, they will select another hill for study with another garrison of expendable troops. You won’t be among them. And you won’t be looking down from Heaven. Now that western science owns DC, there is no Heaven. Namaste.

“One hill at a time” is the motto of “Evidence Based Warfare.”

Though BS scouts have crawled up the hills on their bellies to find enemy troops ascending each of the fifty discovered hills, basic science must be ignored until war deaths can be analyzed and published. It’s the only way to be sure: First, do no harm.

War drums bang in your ears. Enemy tanks leap over the hills.

Your squadron fires North with deadly weapons. Nothing stands against them…

To the North.

But your flanks are exposed. Casualties mount.

Against better judgment you call D.C.

“They’re coming over all fifty, Sir. It’s a multi-pronged, attack.”

“You woke me up for this?”

“General, Sir, I’m sorry, but I’ve got an idea. Listen, I know this is a little late, but if you give the order to defend our flanks, I think we could still…”

The General laughs like a sadistic resident enjoying the pimping of a medical student. “You don’t seem to understand experimental design, Captain. Your job is to isolate one variable. If you go off willy-nilly defending multiple hills, we can’t generate meaningful statistics. Scientific chaos. Evidence Based Warfare demands a blinded, randomized study with one and only one variable at a time. That’s why progress has to be slow.”

It’s the only way to be sure, a voice says in your head.

“But Sir, we are blinded. Totally blinded down here. And honestly, some of my kids aren’t ready to die. Shelly’s barely eighteen.”

Silence.

“Sir, I know we’re going to die, I can accept that. But can’t we go down with a fight this time?”

Silence.

“Just this once? Hello?”

“Do you want the words, ‘Snake Oil Soldier’ carved into your gravestone, Captain? There’s one scientific way. You know it. You know you know it.”

“Yes, but couldn’t we just think outside the…

“What is it we’re doing here, Captain? Come on now, you know the drill. Say it with me…”

“Evidence Based Warfare.”

“Good. And what’s your motto, soldier?”

“One hill at a time, Sir…” Your last words on Earth.

I wrote this to illustrate the blind spot in so-called “Evidence Based Medicine,” the inappropriately named paradigm of emotional superiority currently pushed in western medicine as the only way to weed out bad science.

If you’re familiar with Dale Bredesen’s breakthrough work on Alzheimer’s Disease, then you know that this lethal disease can’t be approached with the same methods and assumptions that have worked against simple diseases with a single cause.

Alzheimer’s is a multifactorial killer with dozens of separate biochemical points of failure coming together to cause what is wrongly considered a single disease – simply because of its appearance under a light microscope.

Aerobic exercise and carbohydrate restriction are two of the many components of Bredesen’s protocol, a multifactorial therapy that is unequivocally working in the fight against dementia.

Ironically, some MD’s are calling for a slower approach with double-blinded studies and monotherapeutic (one-pill) experimental trials.

Someone needs to ask these critics how to doubly blind a study that involves exercise, fasting, eliminating all simple carbohydrates, doing yoga, meditation, eating more vegetables, limiting meat intake, using an electric tooth flosser and an electric tooth-brush in addition to taking multiple non-prescription pills and prescription hormonal replacement therapy.

Let’s see… one group exercises, the control group doesn’t, one group does yoga, the controls don’t, (etc.) and somehow neither group knows if they’re the therapeutic group or the “placebo” group? And also the doctors in charge of the experiment can’t know who’s doing what.

It’s an impossible requirement, and the critics know it if they’ve actually read Bredesen’s peer-reviewed articles.

The critics don’t seem to be interested in evidence-based medicine at all. Their agenda appears to be creating a roadblock to effective treatment of Alzheimer’s, along with every other multifactorial disease.

Meanwhile Alzheimer’s patients are suffering and dying in hell’s worst agony.

The rigid absurdity of the critics makes me wonder if they’re not funded by drug companies or maybe the sugar industry.

Drug companies are not objective in this fight. Monotherapy has always meant economic survival to them. A multi-therapeutic approach involving mostly over-the-counter pills and lifestyle changes is likely seen as threatening to their tradition of educating and motivating doctors to sell their products.

Drug reps are the prominent educators of busy MD’s in the US. And our MD’s are busier and more chronically exhausted than most people would ever imagine.

My short story is intended to clarify the weakness of the current experimental design paradigm that cannot accommodate multifactoral diseases like Alzheimer’s in an efficient, reasonable way.

The truly scientific and compassionate way to approach complex disease is to save dying patients as efficiently as possible by applying basic science knowledge in multifactoral human studies, despite the technical “shortcomings” of such studies. We must not let cranky perfectionists stop medical breakthroughs the way they’re trying to shout down Dale Bredesen’s monumental accomplishments.

Why let the “perfect” be the enemy of the good? Perfectionism isn’t perfect. It’s flawed like everything else on Earth.

I hope medical practitioners and their patients will allow “Reality Based Medicine” to dominate the 21st century rather than the straightjacket of yesterday’s simplistic experimental designs that targeted one disease caused by one organism, treated with one antibiotic. That mindset worked for a while with simple problems, but it’s the wrong approach to modern complex diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Medical science needs to defend all fifty hills at the same time or patients will continue to die unnecessarily.

If you know someone, a relative or friend who has Alzheimer’s disease or just early memory problems, please click here, I’m begging you. Learn about Dale Bredesen’s unprecedented work, then send an email to the person you have in mind, sharing Bredesen’s links.

I’m telling you, this is important. Do it for the sheer joy of helping someone who needs you!

Do not put it off, please.

Run! Go! Get to da Chappa!!!

With warmest regards,

Morrill Talmage Moorehead, MD

http://www.storiform.com


Stardust and Energy Alone

It’s raining. Thunder shakes the garage windows.

A boy who’s barely “this many” and his eight-year-old sister sit inside a cardboard box that was made to keep scratches off the new fridge while it was searching for a home.

“Rule one,” the girl says, sitting with her knees hugged to her chest. “We’re the only two people in the whole world.”

The boy nods. The whole wide world.

“My name is Energy and you’re Stardust.”

“I want to be Energy,” he says and hopes the box is a spaceship.

She scowls. “My name starts with an E, so I’m Energy.”

“OKay.” Today is lucky. Mostly she does big-kid stuff. “I love you. And everybody in the whole wide world.”

“Pathetic.” She sighs. “I wish you could just grow up.”

Someone opens the door into the garage. “Elizabeth? Matthew? You guys out here?”

Ellie puts a hand over Matt’s mouth.

He holds his breath. Hide-and-seek.

The door shuts with a thwhap. The rain taps fingers on the roof.

Is Mom still in the garage? She always finds you.

“We’re the only two people in the whole world,” Ellie whispers. “Remember that.”

“OK.” He’ll remember.

There’s a wind owl singing off and on. High things Mom can only do. Daddies can’t go that high.

Once there was just Mom and Daddy. No Ellie. No Matt. “But what…”

“No buts! If you want to play with the big kids, you have to follow the rules.”

He will, but… “What if Mom gets mad?”

“You thought that was Mom?” Ellie kind of laughs. But it’s the wrong sound. “You don’t get it. We’re the only two people in the whole freaking world.” She hits both sides of the box at the same time.

Matt tries to copy but can’t reach both sides.

“Ellie, what if…”

“My name is Energy. There’s nothing but Energy and Stardust.”

Matt squints to see her eyes in the gray darkness. A flash of white comes and goes. Thunder throws rain down on the roof.

“Ellergy?”

“Stardust.”

“Is lightning a crack in the world’s wall?”

“No. We’re on the outside of the world, not the inside. People stick to the outside of things. That’s why.”

The doorbell rings. Grownups and big words are at the front door.

“When Mom comes back, shouldn’t we…”

“She’s not coming back.” Ellie starts crying. Soft and loud like when Daddy left.

Daddy got mad. But he’s coming back someday. Mom even said.

“Mom’s never coming back,” Ellie says.

“Wanna bet? She always finds us.” Mom knows the hiding places. She knows everything.

“That wasn’t Mom.”

“Uh-huh.” It sure was.

He crawls to the end of the box, pushes his way out and runs to the door to prove it. He pulls the cold knob with both hands, twists it and pulls harder.

The heavy door comes open. Doors get easier if you try and try and try.

“Mom, I was hiding in the box.”

The kitchen is empty. He goes inside.

“Mom? Me and Ellie was hiding…”

New chairs fill the living room with strangers.

Matt walks over. They look at him with shut mouths.

“Here’s the little one,” a woman with red hair says. She’s standing beside the new fridge. It’s sideways on a long table in front of the fireplace.

Ellie comes in through the kitchen and stands beside Matt. Her eyes are red.

“You two come up front and sit beside your grandfather,” the lady with Mom’s hair says.

“Where’s Mom?” Matt asks.

The lady looks away.

“She’s gone,” Ellie says.

“When’s she coming back?”

“Tonight,” Ellie says. “After we’re asleep.”

“Then I’m staying up late.”

“That doesn’t work,” Ellie says. “You have to be asleep. She only comes home in dreams.”

M. Talmage Moorehead