Allman awoke with a start. The sheets were drenched with sweat. His body was rapidly adjusting to its new surroundings, evolving becoming more adapted to face life in this once familiar yet so very different atmosphere. He had the urge to brush his teeth.
Sitting up, he spied his toothbrush on the nightstand beside the bed. He turned and put his feet on the cold, wooden floor of the bedroom. The chill reassured him as he stared at the tootbrush.
Standing he took a book from the nightstand and pushed the toothbrush. It moved. He pushed it again, until one end hung off the nightstand. His heart began to race as he reached for it.
Quickly he grabbed it and pulled his hand back. No pain, no needle-prick, he smiled as he turned and walked toward the bathroom to brush his teeth, this time unaffected by poison. It was good to brush his teeth.
It was a quiet morning in New Ixeveh. The sunrise was particularly red and breathtaking on the ride in. Traffic was light giving Speil extra time to savor the beauty of the spectacle. How many sunrises had he seen in his life? How many had he missed? The unrivaled beauty of nature was all around him, even in the metropolis world of the cities he frequented. Trees, animals, brush, and insects surrounded him at every turn. Life flourished and went about its way without paying any attention or mind to Aaron Speil. All that he had done to improve the lot of human life had done nothing to diminish or dull the created world. Increasing the time he had to enjoy the world was of little use if he did nothing to enjoy it.
A slight breeze blew, it was comfortable, just the right temperature, Speil’s favorite, not too hot, not too cool. Briefly he thought that this would have been a good morning to walk. He shook his head to clear the thought and continued on his way. Little did he know that this day was not just like every other day, this day held a surprise.
No one had yet arrived to the facility but the door was unlocked. Soon it would be time for him to move back to Kagami’s old office, or Rotcod’s hidden room. The progression was amazing. He was not too old to work, but was getting old enough that it was time to hand off the reins. The fact that there was no one to hand the reins to was immaterial. There was a growing need to shut down the program, but enough demand for research remained to allow him to maintain his elaborate life for now. He was in no rush to go to hermitdom like his predecessors. Neither had they been either.
He took the papers from his inbox and flipped through them idly as he walked into his office. No matter how many times the mandate had passed, there just was no real thing as paperless. Perhaps one day, but not today, he tossed the papers onto his desk and went to move around the desk and then he saw her.
She stood in the doorway, her frame silhouetted by the fuzzy lighting of the anteroom. Speil had long been an advocate of returning to incandescent lights but his assistant refused. Her hands were on her hips as she asked, “May I come in?”
Still startled, he could only manage a wave to invite her to have a seat. Without thinking, he scurried around the desk to the chair as if having the desk between them would protect him from anything the forward woman had to say.
She looked young, much younger than he. Of course, his MTS had been in place for over a century, so she could, like him, be older then she looked. Attractive, vibrant, and full of life, she had a bit of spring in her step as she walked to sit in the chair before Speil’s desk. “What can I help you with?”
“There’s something about your work few people know, but we both do. It’s slow, but it’s there. I know it, and you know it. MTS is killing travelers.”
He appreciated that she had not come by for small talk. “Who are you, and do we know one another?” His mind raced, was she a student, a staff member, he had met so many people during his lifetimes it would take a while to run through them all.
Ignoring the question she continued, “You have not eliminated the trouble yet, but I have a way that has.”
It hit him now who she was; she was the face of the Kewan travel system. It was now all the rage, even though they were building on top of the MTS travel kiosks.
“Yes, we have to use your system to get there and plant a new device,” she was reading his mind by reading the look on his face. “We’ve also found several of our devices by using MTS, but your program is killing them, not leading them to everlasting life.”
Eternal life had advantages but did not increase Speil’s desire to waste time. This was the problem he had intended to ponder when he came in this mooring, not the question of when to remove himself from the limelight. While he remained lost in his own thoughts, she reached in her bag and pulled out a book and a globe.
“The thing you’re not getting is that your system is still based on the works of Mann.” A startled Speil looked up. “At its heart, it is still mortal.” His eyebrows went back to their normal location. She meant man.
Defensive of his project, Speil spoke softly, “Well, it was based on technologies that were from an advanced understanding of quantum physics, it built on a program that…”
She cut him off, “I know about Allman. There aren’t many left who do, actually, there’s probably only three or four of us. Is Rotcod still out there? Five, then maybe. Allman was humanistic too. Both Allman and MTS are based on what man could figure out. They were based on what the works of man could achieve. The thinnest of works, human based. MTS is especially Mann-works based.”
That time she did say it. Clearly, this woman was one who knew of what she spoke. “What did you come to me for? If your system is so much grander why do you use mine to further yours? You take your man-based works and add it to mine and tell me my flaws? How dare you?” Speil’s heart began pounding as never had before. The brazenness of this woman to talk in such a manner to him of all people took him aback.
Faith held her hands in the air. “I didn’t come here to attack; I came here to show you the light.” She set the book down in the middle of the desk and opened it. She turned to a specific page and then set the globe down on the opened spine of the book. “Watch this.” She said. It was not a request, or a suggestion; she was demanding his attention.
While Speil looked on, Faith peered intently into the globe. Her face began to glow a bluish tint. As her hair took on the tinge Speil shifted in his seat. He could see right through the globe, that was as clear as it had been when she pulled it out, but there was nothing blue there to be illuminating her face.
“Do you see it?” she asked. Her voice was low and strained; her concentration remained on the globe in front of her.
Speil lied, “Yes, yes, I do. What is that?” It was the Emperor’s New Travel System, thought Speil.
“It is the other side of the Kewan. Come around over here, I find it less confusing if we view the same image rather than mirrored.” Her voice was just as soft and forced as it had been before, but was taking on a staccato pitch while she remained focused on the globe.
There was still nothing to see in the globe. Speil looked at different angles and could not see any better so he started to move around the desk. His eyes were focused on the globe because he knew the office inside and out. She could not really be seeing anything, could she? It was a giant magnifying glass. But what if it was something more? What if she was onto something? He could clearly read the words below the globe magnified but in a language he did not know.
While he struggled to make out the Greek word, the globe changed. Dark shadows appeared, and then became lighter and take on shapes. Was there really something to this strange woman’s way? Maybe. He moved closer to the Kewan. There does appear to be something to what she was saying.
A blinding flash of blue light swelled through the globe taking Speil by surprise. He blinked, and realized Faith had been talking. “What? I missed something.”
Smiling, but still straining, she repeated, “Try to touch the trees.”
A bird flew by inside the Kewan. Speil could see the grass and the light fluffy clouds over an inviting field. There were several trees to the left of the globe; he reached out to touch them. At first, he felt the cold glass of the Kewan. He thought it odd that the warmth of the scene within did not translate to the glass globe, but as he thought it his fingers warmed and he was able to push further than he should have with the globe still there. His hand was inside the scene. It brushed against leaves. A breeze was blowing past his fingers as he plucked a leaf.
Ever the scientist he wondered what would happen if his perspective changed. He moved around the desk back toward his seat. His hand remained on the tree but the view changed slightly. The whole thing acted as if it were a single point of unobstructed view for that one spot on the other side of the Kewan. He pulled his hand, with the leaf, out of the globe and sat down.
The view disappeared again became a huge light refracting glob of glass. Faith smiled and asked, “What do you think now?”[ Me , 8/1/14, 9:49 AM
Originally included in section entitled Add after Tetragrammoton]
A knock on the door startled Allman. How long had he been brushing his teeth? Ten minutes, an hour? The knock came again, louder this time. He cleared his throat, “Just a minute.”
He rinsed his mouth and wiped his hands and face with a nearby towel. Adjusting to gravity had been much easier then he imagined, things felt heavier and he missed the ability to move from place to place with ease but he could grow to accept that.
The doorknob felt solid beneath his hand, cold but solid. He turned it and pulled the door to see Abe standing in the hallway.
“Breakfast?” he asked with a smile.
Returning the smile Allman added, “With questions. Breakfast with questions.”
Abe led the way to the kitchen bar. How many questions had he asked at this very bar? How many had he answered? How many were yet to be addressed? “This is the spot and the time to ask them. Where do you want to start?”
The pull of 9.8 meters per second was little compared to the gravity of information overload Allman was about to experience and he could feel it as he walked. Each step down the short hall felt like he was walking through a thick fog that pushed back against his desire to move forward, “How long,” he started then stopped, “How did you,” he tried again but failed. “What is that smell?” finally blurted out as he exited the hall and entered the kitchen.
Abe had sprinted around the counter to the stove. Smoke rolled from a covered skillet. “It was bacon, I’ll just create some.”
“No!” Allman said, “I’ve had processed replication food for too long. It’s always so perfect, never burnt. Somehow, less than perfect seems right for today.”
The apartment had replication equipment in addition to the stove, but the ever-anachronistic Abe preferred the non-processed food. This morning’s decision to cook was second nature along with the option of “fixing” some if it went wrong. “For too long it’s been just me here so I haven’t had to cook large portions.” He waved at the barstool as he moved the skillet.
Crisp strips of blackened bacon lay beneath the lid. He used a fork to extricate them from the pan while he began, “You were launched over four hundred years ago. The march towards a paperless society marches on, but I used to be a cog in the machine aiding it. Once the old United States had achieved it the push moved outward to other countries. That cusp was where I started my work. Among the last paper items eliminated were the highly classified ones. I was assigned the Allman Initiative and copied some of the files then began further researching it. That’s been a long time ago as well. You must have already been in orbit around your planet by then. As I moved on to other nation’s work, I met up with Faith who was driven to find the Adonai. She left early on for the next big thing, but I stayed with it exploring and attempting to master it with some degree of success.”
A bowl full of eggs were near the stove, as Abe scrambled them Allman said, “That’s what was in the compartment. The add-an-eye?” Even while seated the room seemed to swim.
“Yes, there was an Adonai in the Danegeld. Simply put it is a single point in time and space that contains every point in time and space. Through it a traveler can reach literally any place. The easiest way is to go from one Adonai to another, but since each contains every point, the logical next step was to find a way to travel without being restricted. As far as I know though, I’m the only one who has achieved this.
“The series of events that led me to discover the Adonai was simply grace. There was nothing I could have done to force it or find it on my own. If I hadn’t found Faith I would still be digitizing paper. If it weren’t for Scarlett, I’d still be blindly moving on to the next endeavor. If I hadn’t been so interested for so long in your travels I never would have made the connections that led me back to find you.” The eggs sizzled as they cooked in the charred pan. “There’s more to it, but call it blind luck, serendipity, karma, or coincidence, here I am, here you are, and here lies the means to transcend time and space.”
A bell dinged on the stove and he opened the door of the oven. A tray of biscuits sat nicely browned on the middle rack. Using a towel, he removed them and returned to keeping the eggs from burning like the bacon. The delicious smells of breakfast wafted past Allman’s nose as he turned to look around the room.
“Grace through Faith? Tickles the memory lobes I guess.”
“As a part of the mothballing job they did when the Allman Initiative shut down they reset and re-fed your onboard computers the same information over and over. It was a simple algorithm to set up, just calculate how long since your last regeneration had emerged and move that much to a hidden storage location. The new you was not given all the information as previous incarnations had, then the same packets that had already been dispersed were distributed in a similar time fashion.”
Whirling thoughts collided in Allman’s brain. His vision of the room mattered little while his own sharp brain took over where Abe left off, “So as I resisted the call to re-generate, the information I gained was of stuff that the new me wouldn’t get. But none of that included the Adonai.”
As he separated the eggs onto two plates Abe said, “Well, yes and no. The Adonai was there all along, it’s just that no one knew it. Or at least no one knew what it would do. The Adonai used grace of its own to begin to give you back memories.”
“This in turn led to déjà vu, and allowed me to know something was wrong yet not know what. When I ran out of memory packets my brain made its own.” Memories erupted in his mind, “I’ve seen you before, in the Adonai. We’ve touched each others thoughts. You reached out for me knowing who I was but I reached for you simply knowing someone had to be there.” He turned again on the stool to face Abe in time to see a plate put down in front of him. “And you suspect there’s a bigger force at play?”
Abe smiled, “Yes, yes I do. My time studying the Zaphir and Adonai collectively add to the fact of what I know on the other systems to reveal a connection between all four modes of travel. Allman, MTS, Kewan and Adonai each have the same end game in mind but they don’t all work. They have parallels in how they work as well as in how they fail to work. Or at least that’s what I suspect. I brought you here to help me test that.”
Bringing a piece of burnt bacon to his mouth, Allman stopped and asked, “So what’s the next step?”
Speil tossed and turned in the bed. So many days, so many nights, so much to do, so little that had gotten done. He rolled onto his back with the memory of Mann and Faith visiting rolling through his head. But those weren’t the visits that troubled his sleep. The visit that replayed through his dreams was one that had happened so long ago he was not sure if it had ever really happened.
The memory of her was so vivid, and yet so distant. Her red hair was dark and curly. Her eyes were beautiful and big but he could not remember their color, green, brown, blue, they pierced right through to his soul. Did he even have a soul? Her luscious lips smiled and parted slightly as she talked. The tip of her tongue played across her white teeth.
She recurred in his dreams. Always the same, but in different spots. They were the waking dreams that felt so real that when you sat up you thought you were somewhere else.
Maybe it was the years of MTS. Maybe it was the frequency of the dreams. When was the first time, was it only once? The dream recurred so often, so intense he was unsure.
She stood in the middle of the sidewalk. Defiant, with her feet slightly apart and her hands on her hips. Her curly hair hung below her shoulders and blew slightly in the wind. Speil did not feel any wind, but he clearly witnessed her hair move with it. A smile completed her face. He could have walked around her, but it would have been awkward for both. Instead, he chose to be only awkward for himself by speaking. “Good morning?”
Her smiled beamed bigger as she answered, “Yes, it certainly is, Dr. Speil.”
“Do I know you? It isn’t that I’m bad at remembering names, it’s just that I’m so good at forgetting them.” He felt like a flirting schoolchild, but had no desire to leave.
“No, but I know you. Let’s walk together a while.”
Without hesitation, he turned around to head her way. She laughed and started walking. They had only walked a short distance when he realized her arm had locked into his. The tingling sensation he received from the touch of a pretty woman radiated up his arm and through his whole body.
They walked and they talked. He remembered what she said but did not believe any of it. She spoke of warm, inviting things. None of which had a concrete basis or proof. When he pushed her on the subject, she laughed. A beautiful, lilting laugh that haunted his thoughts, his dreams, and the longer he was removed from the actual encounter the more it haunted his waking moments as well. It was not possible. It had no verifiable, hard and fast reason. It just felt right. It felt good, but to a man of science the abstract inability to conclusively define was an unacceptable result.
The ideas of which she spoke were as his dreams, themselves improvable. Had she come only once? Had she ever even come at all? How would he know? What concrete proof would he ever get to know if they had ever truly met?
The voice startled him. It was she. His heart started pounding.
He relaxed. He was still asleep; it was a dream. That was the only logical explanation. He pulled his foot in toward his thigh. Something had tickled it.
“It was me.”
His eyes popped open. She stood at the end of the bed. “Is it you, you troubler of dreams?”
“I have not troubled your dreams, but you have, and your mentor’s house, because you abandoned the way.” She answered.
As he sat up she continued, “My word alone won’t take you there. It is by Grace alone, but through faith alone. You must have faith to get the grace.
“How long will you go limping between two opinions? One must be right and the other wrong. Go to the lab, if you have faith, all will be made clear.”
He awoke with a start. Shocked he quickly scanned the room turning from left to right then back again. With a slow, almost scared movement, he looked up, and then leaned over to peer over the bed. He was sitting up in the bed. He was confident that was not how he went to sleep. But it did happen in his dream. Just like having is right leg cocked towards his left thigh.
He threw off the covers and spun to put his feet on the floor. It was cold to the touch. Reassuringly hard and cold, the first concrete thing he could touch. The dream remained abstract. Different, never before had it been so interactive. While she appeared in a recurring fashion, those appearances had been non-speaking roles. In the dreams in which she spoke, the message was always the same as what she had spoken when it was not a dream.
If ever it was not a dream. Yet, it had to have been.
Speil had always described his memory as an occasionally anal-retentive memory. It was not photographic, it was not eidetic, and yet some memories were so vivid and recalled with such detail that it was uncanny. Down to the specifics of what was worn, where people were standing, the orientation of small objects in the room. Objects that had no bearing on the conversation, activity, or instance remembered. Her visit was one.
And yet, a problem with such a long life is that what was, especially when it manifests itself in a recurring fashion in dreams, may have overlapped from dreams to seems. It seems real, yet was it.
Nagging fears continued to eat away at his mind as without thinking about what he did Speil dressed and moved to brush his teeth. His mind was awhirl with thoughts as his body conducted the rote process of getting ready to face the world. The professor absent mindedly set a course to follow the instructions of the dream. What would the lab hold?