The basement was not as it was when Abe had left. The stools, the bags, the tools were all still there arrayed in the manner the two had left them. The difference was the gathering. Seven people, they looked unwashed, dirty and hungry. Homeless vagrants in a world where homeless vagrants were supposed to be a thing of the past. They were not disruptive but they were silenced by what they had just seen. Some were kneeling and bent over; sedately they watched with questioning eyes.

Abe was unnerved. Leaning to Scarlett he whispered, “Uh, what just happened?”

“You have again witnessed the power of the Adonai, but not the Adonai alone. The Adonai and the Zahir are both are powerful on their own, but together they become what they were intended. You have witnessed more than one manifestation of their power. You have felt their draw, individually and collectively.

“Using one without the other leads you to the one unused. The Adonai and the Zahir are the beginning and the end. Thirsting for the knowledge in one builds the desire for the others. What you would call your discovery of them was their revelation to you.” She explained, all the while glancing between the group and Faith.

Faith was still holding Abe’s hand, but feeling weak in the knees was no longer standing. She appeared unaware of the others in the room. Releasing her hand, Abe stepped back. Faith sat. “What are we to do? You-you’ll have to te-tell them. I’m uh a beginner, a novice. I have to process it myself, ma-make them go away.” He stammered with his eyes intently focused on the man closest to them.

Scarlett bent down then stood back up. Taking his hand, she pulled him close and put what she had picked up in his grasp. “These people need what you have found. Show them what you know.”

For a split second, he glanced at her, then at his hands. The small group of people all had in their hands a similar copy of the Zahir. He opened his without knowing where it might fall open. It opened to the last page he had read before this day’s adventure. It was on a passage that contained a parable. A story lurked within the story that lay on the page. Only Abe had not finished reading this one. He knew the start, knew the middle, but did not know the end. Or what it meant. Blindly he stumbled on.

“Um, my name is Abe. I have found what you have, but not in the same order.” He held up the book, “The Zahir is a powerful draw. It commands the focus of those who read it onto this one point. It is as if nothing else exists, and all attention is drawn to this one point. But the alpha to this omega is the Adonai. You have just witnessed what I only just learned the Adonai can do. It is a single point which contains every point. While the Zahir takes you from wherever you are to be only where it is, the Adonai takes you from the only place you are to everywhere you can be.

“There are still parts of this overly civilized and urbanized planet where people harvest plants. Yet at one time, this too was done by hand, in small plots, by men who would live or die by the effectiveness of their work. And in this time, a grower went out and sowed his seed. Some fell on the path and was walked on by others. Some the birds ate. Some fell on the rocks he had yet to remove from the field. This grew, but withered quickly because it had no roots. Some fell amongst the thorns. But as the thorns grew with the seed, the seed was choked by the thorns and died. Some though, some fell on the good soil. It grew and yielded a hundredfold what was sown.”

Abe shifted as he spoke. He had noticed Faith squirmed as he talked of thorns, but he continued, “The seed is the word from the Zahir. The seed on the path is for those who hear but are taken away before they can take root and grow in the word. When the word is removed from them they cannot hear, they cannot believe, they cannot be saved. The seed on the rock is for those who hear the word, are excited by the word, but they have no root. They lack foundation, when the winds of life come they are tested and fail because there is nothing to hold them to their joyous beliefs. The seed that fell in the thorns are those who hear, but as they hear they become choked in the cares and riches. The pleasures of life take over and take charge rather than the beliefs that once caused the fires to burn so brightly.

“As for the seed in the good soil, those are the ones who hear the word, take hold and take heart. They hold fast the word in an honest, good heart. They bear fruit with patience.

“You who have gathered here tonight have come because your heart has heard the word, and it desires the complete word. It has taken hold; you have taken heart. For a seed to grow it must have soil, it must have air, it must have water. Without these things, it cannot progress. But before even that, a seed must die. In order to become what it was intended, it must cease to be what it once was.

“No one after lighting a lamp covers it. At a minimum, they put it out for them to see, but in so doing the light is cast into the darkness and by it all can see. Nothing is hidden in the darkness where the light is. Take care how you hear, for to the one who has more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks he has will be taken away.”

Abe himself was amazed at the wisdom he had just spoken. As everyone realized the lesson was over, they began milling around. Several came up to Scarlett and Abe, who had no clue what to do. Faith had slunk into a darker corner of the room, but Scarlett knew what to do.

She began by leading several to the spot around the Adonai and positioned them in ways that Abe was unfamiliar with. As she started speaking, he realized that she was showing them how to delve into the Adonai.

As the sun rose outside and more light entered the dirty windows, the corner Faith had chosen remained dark. Those around the Adonai began to see the now familiar blue globe; they had begun their walk along the narrow path to full understanding.


Faith had been gone so long that the apartment was now in Abe’s name, but having no better place to go, she slipped out to head there now. Scarlett and Abe stayed behind, but she certainly knew the way home. The further she got from the Adonai, the more pain she felt in her abdomen. By the time she got into the apartment and locked the door she was nearly doubled over in pain. She scurried around to each window to make sure they were closed, locked, and the coverings pulled shut tight. When she was certain she was not only alone but could not be seen by anyone, she reached in her pants and pulled out the Kewan.

The spot she had held it was marked, almost like a burn, but as she removed the object, the pain lessened. While she had the Kewan, she did not have her viewing case. Nor did she still have the other Kewan inside that case. It was in her hotel room in Jerusalem. That was a  pressing different problem, but first was the need to examine this one.

The lights sparkled off the surface of the object. Riding inside her pants had eliminated the centuries of dust that had collected as well as detritus from the collapse. Without looking, she sat on the couch, still gazing at the orb. A book was open on the coffee table, so she placed the Kewan on it to keep it from rolling.

This Kewan looked exactly like the first one. There was no distinguishing marks, no serial number. It was the same; same diameter, same weight, same dull shine, the same internal glow.

With a start, she looked away. The orb was glowing. She had not seen the glow without the case. Afraid to lose the glow, she jumped up and turned off all the lights. Returning to the couch, now she could clearly see the glow.

As she concentrated on the glow, it began to grow until it reached a critical mass and seemingly exploded inside the Kewan. As the shine faded, a scene appeared. Faith squinted and moved her head around to see. Sure enough, it was the inside of her hotel room. A wave of relief washed over her, followed quickly by a shot of terror as she saw a vague shape swish by in front of the globe. Instinctively she ducked before realizing the futility of the movement.

She sat back up and wiped her hands on her legs, drying the non-existent sweat from her palms. She breathed deeply, in and out, then grabbed the Kewan with both hands and gazed into it. The hotel room came back into focus.

Unlike the Adonai, the Kewan could only see the fixed points at which another Kewan was located. This was how Faith had found the location of the second orb. Maneuvering around the globe changed the view perspective enabling a larger field of vision. Rotating it accomplished the same thing, for this reason she had commissioned a stand of sorts. It was such that it could be incorporated into the box and slitted covering, but it also was an excellent centerpiece for the table, allowing her to look at her treasure as she moved around doing the other mundane tasks that needed to be done. It was this state she had left it when she headed for the temple on the rock.

Slowly she turned the orb on its book resting stand until she again saw the motion. It was the cleaning staff, tidying up the room. Unconsciously she leaned in to get a closer look, squeezing the Kewan and saw another movement from the corner of her eyes. Something felt different about the Kewan as well. It suddenly felt wooden.

Looking down, she could see the wood of the stand in which the orb sat. Her finger rested on that wood.

Her heart began racing as she moved her eyes back to see where the maid was. Nowhere to be seen. Leaning in closer, she put her ear to the Kewan and could hear the sounds of water running. The maid was in the bathroom cleaning.

Faith’s heart pounded in her chest as if it might explode as she pushed with both hands against the Kewan. It was as soft as melted butter, but on the other side she could still feel the stand. She took a breath and held it, then put her face against the Kewan and pushed. It went in.

Her hands had just gone through, but as her body was swallowed by the Kewan she felt warmth, like diving into a hot tub, or perhaps walking through a space between two hot fires. Briefly she turned her head and saw what looked like two walls of flames before she emerged in her hotel room in Jerusalem.

Quickly she let go of the Kewan and sprinted to the door. Finally remembering to breathe again, she opened and closed the door, then walked down the short hall as if she had just returned from sightseeing.

The maid emerged from the bathroom and jumped, startled by her sudden appearance. “Excuse me, ma’am. Just tidying up.”

“Oh, it’s no problem. In fact, you could do me a huge favor.” Her mind was working as fast as it could. Her purse was next to the bedroom door so she headed for it.“I have to leave town in a hurry, and won’t have time to pack. Can you come back later today, pack this stuff up and send it to me? I will pay you for it.”

“Oh, um..I..uh, well…” she started.

She pulled out her wallet, “Plus postage. I’ll get everything ready to go, you’ll just have to box it and send it to this address.” She waved her remaining Israeli cash at the maid.

The maid’s eyes went from annoyed to pleased as she smiled warmly, “What’s the address?”


She finished writing the note explaining why the ornamental globe was not packed and set it next to the box. Now was the tight spot, it would all be for naught if she was unable to duplicate the travel back. A quick glance around the room to make sure everything was in place and then she looked back on the Kewan. It glowed, the glow grew more intense until again it exploded inside and faded to reveal the darkened inside of her former apartment. One more deep breath, and then she duplicated the movements that got her here.

There was more resistance this time. Almost like partially melted butter instead of melted butter, somewhat slimy, but at the same time still a malleable medium. The heat came through immediately this time, as soon as her hands were in the orb. It stung when she put her face to it, almost like a sunburn, but she was not only committed, it was her only option at this point. She dove deep into the Kewan.

It was no dive into a hot tub. Searing heat enveloped her as her peripheral vision filled with the orange-yellow glow of fire. Although it was hot, the heat was a bearable temperature, more like being on the beach on a hot afternoon. It seemed much longer then the first time, but after having enough time to feel all the range of what was within, she emerged again in the living room of her old apartment.

A key was rattling in the doorknob. Her head whipped around to the door as it started to open. Without looking, she lifted the book which rolled the Kewan off the table toward the floor where she scooped and tucked it beneath her shirt. She was drenched in sweat and involuntarily shivered in the cool of the air-conditioned room. The pain returned to her abdomen almost immediately. Where the Kewan had sat atop the book there was a dark mark.

The door opened, but she flipped several pages before Abe’s head appeared in the opening. It was then she noticed it was the prop she had been using was Abe’s famed Zahir.

“There you are,” Abe said as he hesitated on the way in. He pushed the door open and walked the rest of the way in dropping the backpack on the counter. He was alone. “I left Scarlett at the spot and came looking for you, hoping you’d be here.”

Another shiver ran through Faith, “Uh, yeah. I wasn’t feeling good and came on back. I must have fallen asleep on the couch, but a nightmare woke me up.”

He shut the door and began straightening the room. “Well, it was your apartment, so it feels odd to say make yourself at home. We’ve been alternating who sleeps in the bed and who sleeps on the couch, but I’m too wound up to sleep anyway. Later I’ll go out and get a cot, we can make this work.” He moved to the table and started picking up the books, including the Zahir. “You can use the bed tonight.”

Faith wanted to stand but between the Kewan, the pain and the sweat she was scared. Looking at her shaking hands, she was not sure she could anyway. “That’s alright. I’m good here, don’t go out of your way. I’ll just be here a few days, I contacted the hotel in Israel and they’re sending my stuff here then I’ll be on my way.”


{this is not going well, so come back later, maybe have someone turn on the tv and see some reports of missing people from the particle?}[ Me , 5/13/17, 10:35

Another spot I got sort of stuck]


When the investigation into Mann’s disappearance ended, Speil returned to the troubling traveler disappearance question. The answer came to him one day from a source he never would have expected. As he sat in his office, he heard a knock on the door.

He turned toward the door. Extended life had disadvantages, too. An unfortunate side effect as the human body continued to perform beyond its previous limits, muscles began to tire and tear up. Slower movements had become Speil’s friend. As a result, the door was already open by the time he looked and saw the familiar face he had not seen in quite some time. Neil Mann walked in, moved a stack of books from a chair and took a seat.

After he sat, he still had the stack of books in his hand. As he set it on the floor, he noticed that a similar stack blocked his view of the old professor. Neil sighed and leaned around to see which stack to move next. He grabbed one about halfway down, chuckling to himself. Atop the shortened stack sat the Zahir. After setting down the half stack, he patted the cover of the Zahir and rubbed his hand over it. Finally, he spoke, “There is no use, it is a fundamental flaw. It is not the truth; it cannot replace the truth, and will never be the way.”

Still shocked from seeing him after all those years, Speil just looked at him. He narrowed his eyelids so they were only slits. “You’re the original,” was all that Speil could say.

“Yep. The one and only, N. E. Mann, in the flesh. Not one of your cloned recreations that spent his life doing your dirty work infesting the known universe with the heretical cult you unknowingly spawned. Here to tell you some of the errors of your way.”

“Never mind how you knew when I’d try to come here, I don’t even want to know why now instead of any point in the past. There’s an issue I’ve been wondering about since the day you disappeared,” Spiel started.

Neil moved his hands from the book and sat back in the seat. “Something wasn’t feeling right. Maybe it was a premonition, maybe just claustrophobia, I still call it providence, I walked out and found what was missing. What is still missing from your scientific religion. I found out what you were spreading was all just dressed up, feel good humanism. All the answers you think you found were not any answers at all. I ran out and found the grace that makes it all worth living. Scarlett Grace found me and showed me what it was we all need.”


A statistic was the reason Speil had walked in the door of his old office earlier in the morning. But the tragedy had never left his mind. “You’re the original, not the one we lost?”

Neil smiled, “No, I’m no more him then he was ever me. You lost me before you sent me.” He shook his head, “Him. You lost me before you sent him.

“My faith was in something else. Not in the ability of man, not even you. Or Kagami. Something was not right, and I was the only one of the group with senses attuned to see it. For all I know, that was the reason I was able to pass your tests. A lab rat smart enough to see that the maze was not just a maze but also a path. A path that should never be followed, the cheese at the end was not the prize everyone believed. In fact, the cheese was the opposite. You built the maze, you found me, your prized lab rat and tried to send me to get what you thought was the end-product. Eternal life was a side effect of the journey, only the culmination of the rat race was not life but death. It was not eternal life, but lengthened ephemeral life. Extended but not avoiding the eventual. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but just sensing something was wrong sent me running.”

Speil sat spell bound. Like Mann, his days had been unnaturally stretched. The pattern of life had been messed with. Had Mann found another way?

“What you are looking for cannot be found where you look. It cannot be found. Just like Allman before, those ways lead only to death. Eternal, fiery death. Logic is no use when trying to defeat death. It does not listen. Try as hard as you want, you will not win this way.”

Neil stood, “It took a detour down your path to see that the wide road was not the way to go. It is a narrow path that leads where we all desire to be. It cannot be widened.” He picked up the Zahir and tossed it closer to Speil. “My faith is in the grace shown here. What you search for can only be found in grace alone, by faith alone. In what you will have to find out yourself. You can lead a horse to water…”

Speil interrupted, “How? I am an old man. My life has been spent searching for this one thing. How can it be that my life was spent looking for the wrong thing?”

“It was spent looking for the wrong thing.” Neil leaned over, putting both hands on the desktop and getting face to face with his former master. “It isn’t too late. It’s never too late. Grace comes to those who believe.

“Salvation is not earned, it is not merited, it is not because of what we do, it is strictly a matter of grace. It was given to us because we cannot achieve it by ourselves. Your life’s work has been an attempt to earn what can only be given.”

A pregnant moment of silence hung in the room between the two men. Time seemed to slow, the second hand on the analog clock hanging on the wall next to the door clicked loudly and slowly. Neil leaned forward on the seat and leaned against the desk. Speil felt his heart pounding in his chest, his whole chest compressed and expanded with each beat. The moment of truth was at hand.

As he slowly opened his lips they painfully parted and Speil croaked a silent, “How?”

Smiling Neil said, “It is so much more than anything we can comprehend on this side of heaven. Allow me to show you the Adonai.”


The student teaching the teacher was not a drastic enough explanation of the next few hours. It was more like the wrench teaching the mechanic. Neil was not a holistic engineer, rather he was a monkey trained to do the machinations of the holistic engineers, a puppet to Speil’s marionette master. Pinocchio was teaching Gepetto how to be a man. 

“But over the course of both projects, only 13 people ever knew it, you were not on the list of illuminated ones.”

Mann smiled, “No, I wasn’t, and no, none talked. Your secret remains despite violating Franklin’s maxim that three can keep a secret if two are dead. The truth will always come out. The flaws, too, but the more entrenched you are in dictating and directing the day to day operations of it all, the less likely you are to see the bigger picture and where it’s all headed.”

Speil thoughtfully looked over Mann’s head. His eyes darted across the pictures on the wall, stopping at the original photo of Rotcod and Allman. “For millennia engineering has been considered a discipline that puts scientific theory into practice. It started with the transition from surveying and layout to principles of structural analysis, it delved into varying disciplines, but as the scientific awakening occurred engineering disciplines continued to split off as fast as the sciences did. We invented holistic engineering to consider all aspects of many areas. Sort of like the vaunted “Theory of Everything” the unification of all the physics theories. We holistically considered all of the physical science areas as well as psychology, sociology, some bio-medical studies, pretty much every ‘ology’ except theology. It was the ultimate in justifying and proving the connectivity of all things. But we left out that one, the truly unifying concept.

“We found what we wanted, eternal life, but we left out the reason for living.” His words trailed away as his thoughts continued to spin and whirl.

After a minute, Mann interrupted the pregnant silence and Speil’s thoughts, “You didn’t find eternal life. You found the opposite. In finding the ultimate in humanism, it leads to where humanism leads. Your ultimate heresy of Rotcod’s humanistic Allman method is little better still leading to eternal death. Those who have ‘disappeared’ from your method, that include my clone have not achieved eternal life but an excruciatingly long dive into the depths of hell. One where the nadir is never reached. There is no ‘answer’ for you or your method. The truth is that of the four extremes, only one leads where you want to go.”

With a quizzical look on his face Speil snapped his head back to Mann. His eyes drilled into Mann’s. He asked, “Four?


Abe was asleep on the couch, as she moved around the room collecting the tidbits and trinkets she needed. They had spent many hours, days, weeks, and months together. They had walked through the valley of death and come out on top of the mountain. Abe now had within his grasp the ability to move that mountain by asking. He was not confidant enough in his talents but by no means did that mean he was without them. There comes a point when the mentored must walk without a safety net. There was a need for a shift and sometimes it takes a sudden and violent shift. Elisha thought he was ready but when he saw the fiery chariot it sank in. It would be the same for Abe.

She zipped up her bag and looked longingly at his sleeping figure. They had made a great team, but it was time. Silently she tiptoed to the couch. She brushed his hair off his forehead and lovingly allowed her fingers to linger, carefully outlining his cheeks and chin. Leaning over she kissed him lightly on his forehead.

Standing she turned and walked off. She pulled the door open and set it to lock behind her. One last glance at the sleeping form of Abe, forever changed from when she had come into his life and then she pulled the door behind her. It was time for the next great thing.


The Danegeld orbited mercilessly around the planet. How many lives had been wasted to get to this point? A hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, was there even a count? Allman looked up from the toolbox. There simply was no tool inside to open the fasteners that had been used to attach the wall. On the dashboard lights flashed over the toothbrush. The ship was doing everything in its power to get him to succumb to the pull to correct the course. Just like a Xerox machine, a copy of a copy of a copy had flaws. This one flaw had finally manifested itself in an evolutionary attempt to get Allman out of the symbiotic humanistic system he had been trapped for lifetimes.

For his part, this Allman was determined to get out. Daily devotions in reviewing both the Adonai and the Zahir had driven him to get to the bottom once and for all. How had they foolishly included that book in the nearly infinite database of the ship? Did they not know the power inherent in the words? Conformity is a great camouflage. The best way to hide something was to leave it out—any parent of a pre-teen could tell you that.

At the same time, it could simply have been that they were ignorant of what it contained. One of the previously most intellectual and scientific minds to have walked the earth said that there is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action. Perhaps this was just a manifestation of that principle in action.

He returned his attention to the panel. The wall this panel was in had fasteners unlike every other wall. There was no wrench or screwdriver that would work on these fasteners keeping this wall together. The panel itself was the only panel in the whole ship that only had fasteners on the sides, not the top or bottom. The panel above had miniscule scratch marks on it. Also not included in the tool pouch was a hacksaw that he could use to cut off the fasteners, but there was a hammer. “If you can’t fix it with a hammer it ain’t broke,” he muttered to himself. The problem with a hammer in zero gravity was Newton and his damn third law. If necessity is the mother of invention, then tenacity is the gynecological assistant to aid in birthing of the needed outcome. Allman had concocted an anti-anti-gravity system of straps, thrusters and even a little of the handyman’s greatest tool, duct tape.

Three hits and the first fastener disappeared into the wall. It would take hours to move his contraption to the next bullet but the thing about eternal living was that time did not exist. A smile crossed his lips as he began the shift.


Faith woke up many mornings and left without letting Abe or Scarlett know. This had been her home, both the apartment and the city. It was not uncommon for her to come strolling back in at lunchtime. The other two had come to accept it. Her absence was not missed and no one worried. It had happened so many times now that they did not even ask where she had been. Conformance was her camouflage to keep them from knowing. By now, she had a small stash of Kewans in a secured location. All without Scarlett or Abe being any the wiser.

Abe looked into the bedroom, saw a shape on the bed but not the cot, and shrugged. He went on to make breakfast for two. It was going to be one of those days. The last few weeks had been fantastic weeks. With Scarlett’s guidance they had both been learning so much about the breadth and depth of the Adonai. The informal gathering of folks in the former basement of the former Daneri house had grown and grown. Some non-homeless people began showing up.

Those who had were generously sharing with those who had nothing. Some of the homeless were turning their lives around between the Adonai and the generosity of those better off. Everyone had started treating each other as they wanted to be treated rather than the typical manner that had become the standard in the world up to that point.

A few people had approached Abe about fixing up the building. It was going to be a long, expensive project, but those that had come forward assured him that they would put funding in place to finish the job. He took out a pan and started cooking breakfast, smiling just thinking about the changes that had been taking place. Then his thoughts turned to Faith.

Increasingly she was becoming distant to Scarlett and Abe. Her trips out were more and more frequent and longer. When the three of them sat down to discuss the Adonai and the Zahir and how they worked hand-in-hand she was pensive and at times seemed to just brood over what they were discussing. She seemed annoyed about the fact that in order to travel as they had done to and from Israel they had to be in the spots where the Adonai were. This was more than just an inconvenience to her it seemed.

Part of the problem, as Abe saw it, was that while the two of them had been getting closer before Scarlett came along, that romantic interest had shifted after Faith’s disappearance to Scarlett. In the last week alone Abe and Scarlett had dwelled more closely together and it was starting to hurt each night as they parted to go to their separate beds.

While he continued to start breakfast he had been paying no attention to what was going on in the rest of the apartment. It surprised him when he stood and found hands covering his eyes. A big grin grew on his face. As he turned around he put his arms to either side of Scarlett and with his eyes shut kissed her full on the lips.

He opened his eyes to see a very startled Faith in his arms.

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