Many heart-wrenching conversations were had after Scarlett’s departure. Abe’s ever increasing desire to search further for the truth inside the Adonai was clear, but Faith’s deception in bringing the Kewan through that first day so long ago was a blow that forced him to take a seat for this argument.
During his silence, she slid into the bedroom to return with two Kewans and set them on the table before him. They were identical in size, luster, and translucency. A slight bluish tint distorted the center. Both seemed to invite his attention as if they were magnets to his eyes. They were drawing him to peer into their depths, to see the all-elusive centers.
Their size matched the size of the small globes the Adonai formed prior to their encompassing all of the viewers field of vision. This was a point not lost on Abe. While Faith had the box and cover still, she had become so adroit at using the Kewan she rarely needed them now. She reached across the table and slid Abe’s Zahir towards her.
“What are you doing,” he asked.
Turning the book around to face her, she opened it, “It is just like the Adonai, it works best with the Zahir. It is a point that encompasses all points working with a point that becomes the singular point. Together they become the most powerful force we have ever seen.” Setting the Kewan in the fold of the open book, she ran her hands over the surface of the crystal globe. “There are two pretty big differences between the Adonai and the Kewan, the first is that while you can shift the Adonai to anywhere, the Kewans are all fixed points. The is no way to see beyond the limits of their field of vision. That limitation is overcome by the second difference though. The Adonai is a stationary, unmoving, unwavering force. The Kewans move. Thanks to Scarlett explaining how to use the Zahir in conjunction with the Adonai, I was able to adapt it to the Kewans, now we can travel between them, too. The hard part is finding the location of the next Kewan, but once you find the location, you can move them about and see different places, or enter in a different place.
“In Israel, I had tracked one down to the top of the column. It is doubtful that anyone even knew it was there, unless you had another Kewan. Some of them move locations. But that doesn’t mean that their owner knows what they have.” While she talked, her voice began to get softer and softer as her concentration focused on the small, growing light inside the Kewan. Just before it reached the size of the globe, she stopped talking all together. As it hit the boundary it paused, and then started pulsing, growing darker and lighter, bigger and smaller than the globe itself. Then, in what looked as much like a big breath of air before going underwater, the glow paused, then expanded to just a bit bigger than the globe and steadied out.
Without looking at Abe, Faith reached into the globe with her right hand. Pulling it out, she had a limb from a tree and a leaf. She set them down on the table, then blinked and shook her head to clear the spell of the Kewan. The glow disappeared almost instantly when she did.
“The next one I have found exists in a tree. The problem is the branches of the tree holding it are so small it would never support my weight if I stepped through. It isn’t that I have to bring it home with me, either. I just have to move it to a more useful place.” She said.
There were many similarities between the two…what word should Abe use? It was not a device; the Kewan almost was but not the Adonai. It was not a phenomenon. Again, one almost was, this time the Adonai, but the Kewan was definitely not. The Kewan was more like a manufactured object while the Adonai was more like a naturally occurring phenomenon. What were they? Abe had spent many hours trying to decipher that very question. Based on their properties to transport people and things to different places, they were sure to get a loyal following as both Allman and the MTS had. A cult-like following that would certainly sing the praises of one over the other. The biggest difference he could see between the two methodologies were that the Kewan was more nomadic, being able to shift to wherever the holder moved it to. The Adonai was stationary, occurring at exactly the same spot, but Abe knew better. He knew there was a mobile Adonai.
The biggest difference between the Adonai and Kewan versus the MTS or even the Allman system was that they were almost supernatural. At their heart the whole thing boiled down to an unexplainable phenomenon, not some work of science that could be proven, explained, and dissected for easier comprehension.
“Do you pick which one you want to connect with?” he asked.
Smiling she leaned back over the globe atop the Zahir. A brief moment of concentrated staring and suddenly both Kewans began glowing. As the pulsing blue light stopped Abe looked and blinked his eyes. As he scanned his eyes down the coffee table, when he go to the first Kewan the view of the living room changed to be the view at the end where the second Kewan was. Looking at the second Kewan revealed the view in the middle of the table where the first Kewan was. Abe could even see the pages of the Zahir underneath the second Kewan, though it was clearly under the first. Paradoxes upon paradoxes abounded within the belly of this device.
“So what do we do with them?” asked Abe. “Find them all and harvest them? You want to control the supply of them so no one else can march in and claim them; some kind of horizontal monopoly, or exclusive arrangement to determine who can access it?”
Faith slid against the back of the couch, “Now you’re thinking like I am. We can’t snatch up all the copies of the Zahir, it’s out there, all over. It’s in every language and many different translations. Strange thing is that as hard as I’ve looked for literary objects, I never considered looking for anything in this book because even people that don’ t look for things like that have found them from the Zahir. The Zahir isn’t the oldest book in the world, but it’s full of the stuff that is.
“The biggest mystery about the Zahir is where the original copies are. It was written by so many different people that it is incredible that it has a common theme, but each section was written by someone else and yet there are no copies of the first, original printing. So that’s a wash, forget it. But the Kewan are scattered throughout the world. I keep searching and finding more. There are a lot of them, but it is a finite number. When we get them we can set up our own system like the MTS to transfer people from place to place.” The confident tone in Faith’s voice revealed that this was something she had spent hours dreaming up.
Abe shook his head and looked away from the couch on which she sat. He stood and walked to the window at the end of the room. Thoughts were whirling through his head as fast as the snow falling outside the window. The street below was filled with drifting snow and nothing else. No pedestrians or vehicles braved the winter weather. “How is it you think we can make this happen?” he asked.
She joined him at the window, whispering she said, “Get them all. We can use the Adonai to pick them up while we set up the locations to mount them all, then we use the Adonai to place them all. Once we’ve collected enough to make the system viable we can set up a business, get some holistic engineers to work out the details of where to set the portals. We can get one on board now to make sure we’re headed the right way, but to seal the deal we have to start now, go to the tree, we’ll start with that one. It will be life-altering for everyone.”
“So that’s it? Just a way to make money?” Abe spoke without taking his eyes off the snowy road. “There’s nothing more to it in your mind?”
“No, it will be so much more. MTS is killing people. More people disappear every month. Years ago it was every year, now it’s every month. We have to get around better. The economy of the world depends on it. The safety of our monetary system, our industrial capacity, they all depend on transportation systems of better reliability and efficiency. When the holistic engineers dreamed the MTS it was an epiphany. When they built it, it was a world changing experience. They shrank the world, increased the global economy, and made a name for themselves. Whoever they were, they will be remembered for all times. This will do the same, only it will take off faster because no one dies. The trouble with travel will be eliminated again. Nothing will stand in our way.”
He paused before he spoke again, “Let me sleep on it.” Swirling snow outside the window matched the thoughts in his head. Faith smiled and slowly backed up. She knew when to stop pushing.
The last fastener securing the wall gave way. The panel hung in weightless anticipation. The question of a lifetime was a breath away from being answered, what was behind that wall?
Gingerly Allman removed his apparatus and touched the panel, still hovering in place. A tremble went through his body almost like an electric shock. He took a deep breath and moved the panel.
The tangle of wires and integrated circuit boards were anti-climatic, but there were two interesting points. Where the panel attached to either side were what appeared to be sliding hinges, as he went to move them, they popped out and slid noiselessly up over the panel above. It seemed the panel would have moved in such a manner if he could have unlocked the magnetic mechanism on the bottom. This confirmed his suspicions that the panel moved, and without the schematic wiring diagram, he may never figure out what the wires went to. He could send a request back, but it would take two lifetimes for an answer to return, that simply was not what he wanted to waste time doing. Instead, he turned his attention to the other interesting point. It was yet another panel in the midst of the maze.
Allman smiled and without bothering to secure the now loose screws or panel began studying the newly revealed fasteners. The mystery of the Danegeld would be revealed or payment stopped.
Speil shook his head. “This can’t be. No one had the ability before Rotcod. We brought about immortality; he told me it was just the three of them, Rotcod, Kagami and Allman. Until our program and you, that was it. There’s no way that she could have slipped in. How else could she still be around after all these years?”
“I can’t explain that, all I know is what I found out. There is a way to eternal life that doesn’t end in death. Those that have disappeared are not coming back. You’ll never set eyes on the copy of me you sent to do your dirty work.” He trailed off speaking as the door slowly began to open.
Both men were at a loss for words to see Doctor Otto Rotcod standing in the open doorway. He smiled a weak, old man smile at them. “I beat Levi, didn’t I? Slowpoke.” Looking around the room, he dryly commented, “In all these years no one could even paint the walls?”[ Me , 5/13/17, 10:37
Need to move this somewhere else]
The guts of the machine resembled what Allman had imagined the famed axotl tanks of Dune to look like. In many ways, that was exactly what it was intended to be. As Allman’s thoughts turned to the futility of the mission, the computer, being ever linked to his brain, would reveal a toothbrush on the main panel. When he grabbed it, a needle would simultaneously inject him with a slow acting poison and retrieve some of his DNA that was then transferred to the tank where a new clone was created. After the poison had done its work, robotic machines would deposit the newly created Allman into his bunk where the cycle began again.
The sole remaining mystery the Danegeld had yet to give up was what happened to the old body. There could be some morbid collection hiding behind the last set of panels Allman had deduced existed. At the same time, he could be dead wrong and the panels were the last line of the ship and when he opened them he may allow the vacuum of space into the ship killing him one final time.
Curiosity killed the cat, and it was bothering the stew out of him, too. The work of the last few days had been tedious, retracing wires and tubes. Rather than tackle the remaining panels it was time for a nap. Re-entering the main chamber he could see the control panel flashing incessantly where the toothbrush was. “Not yet,” he spoke aloud to no one. “It’s not time to scrape the gunk off yet. It’s still revelation time.”
He shut his eyes and hung his head in contemplation drifting across the room. As he drifted into the wall opposite the cloning exit, he felt something brush against his leg. He opened his eyes and looked, to see the panel of the Adonai chamber floating aimlessly. It beckoned. He answered the call.
Abe wandered the snow-covered streets of Buenos Aires. He was the sole traveler on this winter day. While he left without a plan as to where he was headed, he suspected he would go to the Adonai for clarity and direction. Deliberately he had headed in the opposite direction, and yet almost as if the vehicle had steered itself, he found himself outside the building.
The fence was still up, but the hole had been replaced with a gate. It was not secured; rather its security came in no one knowing what was inside. The risk of homeless people or criminals using the building was outweighed, in Abe’s mind, by the benefit of the Adonai. It was not his, he did not feel he could monitor or limit access. All who used it felt the call to leave it open, except perhaps Faith. The awe inspired by the Adonai changed those who touched it. Reverent followers did occupy the building, but the riff-raff stayed out. When they did wander in one of the new residents would intercept them and see to their needs. Sometimes they just wanted a place to sleep out of the weather, sometimes a meal, help to get back home, they were the wayward and lost overlooked in the grander scheme of the world today. The small contingency of live-in followers became a sort of clerical order. No true hierarchy yet, but they all still viewed Abe as the leader, the start of it all.
Not all who came in were homeless. It had surprised Abe to find that there was a homeless crowd to begin with, that it was so large, doubly so. When other lost souls came by it further amazed him, but the lost were not just homeless. They were the middle class, upper class, a mix of everything under the sun. Doctors, lawyers, businesspeople, all walks of life came by. And the clerics guided them.
Those with means gave to those who had none. Abe was certain that further organization would be needed soon. That had been why he and Faith were originally arguing. Only she saw more potential in the Kewan than in the Adonai. The convenience of moving the portals spoke to her. Abe saw the importance of developing the site of the Adonai for something more.
The clerics had a sort of de facto organization to them. Keeping the homeless from sleeping in the halls or room of the Adonai was important. That allowed access for everyone. Abe walked into the former basement. It was deserted. He heard the hushed footsteps of a cleric behind him in the hall. He was alone and would remain so.
The room seemed more reverent to him then the first time he came in. Initially it was just a room, a dark, dank room of a condemned building scheduled for destruction. Now it was tomb-like, you knew something was there. The veneration of the Adonai extended now to the room as well. Walking up to the Adonai spot, he began to feel light-headed. Every step increased the feeling. His vision blurred, the floor turned to rubber. A breeze brushed past his ear. He shook his head but it did nothing to stop the sensations. The breeze increased now it was a wind, a rushing wind, a stiff wind.
He stopped and knelt, trying to use the floor for support. It seemed to move as the winds whipped around him. He got down on all fours as the wind turned into a tornado-like wind around him. A whirlwind engulfed him as he blacked out.
In this state, he felt as well as heard a voice, “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?”
He turned around, somehow in his blacked out state he could feel himself standing. Nothing was below his feet but darkness; he could feel nothing, see nothing, and hear nothing. Except the voice, he could feel the voice. A light went off in his head, now he could see the voice was Scarlett’s. “I will question you, and you make it known to me.”
The Adonai appeared as blue shapes swirled in the darkness around it, the voice asked, “Where were you at this time?” The masses had coalesced into one giant shape that exploded as Abe looked at it. Stellar material evacuated the center and pushed outward. Some headed right for him, but it passed through him effortlessly.
Without thinking, he turned and watched it pass. Like a camera zooming in, his view of it got closer. It was forming the Milky Way, now it zoomed again and he could see the sun and the solar system in one long arm of the outskirts of the galaxy. It continued to zoom in as he could see the planets forming. By the time the earth filled his view the moon orbited around him to the backside. Clouds churned on the earth below as the voice continued, “Did you measure it? Lay its foundation? Set its base? Lay its cornerstone?”
Background noises began singing in Abe’s ears. Closer and closer it came, but without the Doppler effect. As the vocals came in and passed him by he could see that they were stars. The stars were singing, the sons of God were shouting for joy.
Their song continued as Abe’s view again zoomed in, this time on the earth. A spring came forth, a spring larger than any seen before. It was as if the womb of the earth had burst. None of the landmasses had the geography that Abe had been studying for a year now, but the size of the spring was larger than any land mass Abe knew. The sheer volume of water was immense. As he watched, the oceans filled, rivers formed, and barriers were erected to hold the water rather than allowing it to rove unconstrained over the face of the planet. Clouds became garments that defined the limits of the darkness beyond. The darkness swaddled the planet as it found its place in the universe.
The voice again emanated, over the singing, and yet it was not a yell, “Which dawn did you command to happen? The first?” As it spoke the warm glow of twilight began to Abe’s right. He turned to view it and the sun burst forth creating the most beautiful sunrise he had ever experienced. It was a display for all the senses. The sight, the sounds of the singing, the smells of fresh dewy rain being burned off, the warmth of the sun, it even tasted more pleasant than any gourmet meal Abe had ever consumed.
The voice took him into the mouth of the spring. The water had stopped flowing, yet it was still there. The cold of the sea shocked his skin after the glorious warmth of the sunrise. The voice led him through the recesses of the deep. Without realizing he had been doing it, Abe noticed that he was breathing despite being underwater, “Have you entered here before?” Scarlett’s voice continued, “Have the gates of deep darkness or of death been shown you?”
Cold forebodings rushed forth from the spot the voice was taking him before rushing back out and up. Abe found himself above the world, almost as if he were in orbit. “Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Tell me if you know all of this.”
“Which way to the dwelling of light, where is the place of darkness?” Abe had no response to give Scarlett. He tried to turn to see her to no avail. He could not even control his body. Without warning, he was surrounded by snow. It felt like he were in a snow bank, but this was no bank. It was a storehouse; a supply depot of snow.
He grabbed for a handful of snow. It did not clump up as if making a snowball. Each flake individually stood on its own. Taking a single flake, he studied it. Instinctively he knew: this was a flake meant for falling on the top of the building that held the Adonai in the next second. It disappeared from his hand. Each flake had destination and time stamps to them. They were all intended for a specific point and place. His view shifted.
Now hailstones, hailstones that had similar specific missions, surrounded him. As he closed his fist around one, it transported him with it.
He neared the earth and released the hail. It fell on a raging battle. One with chariots and swords. The mission of this hailstone had been to blind the eye of a soldier on a chariot. He ducked and held his hand to the eye the stone had hit. As he ducked, a spear flew through the air where his body had only just been.
The voice of Scarlett had melded into the songs of the stars, but the sensations of knowing enveloped him. He no longer needed a narrator. One hand remained in the hailstone storehouse. As he picked one up he could instinctively feel what it was intended for. Then he saw where it went. Some fell on battles, others on buildings. A few fell on cars darting around. A hurricane here, a rainstorm there, each went exactly where and when the path had indicated it would.
“Why?” Abe screamed at the top of his lungs. The world disappeared as the sound of his voice dissipated. The singing stopped. The storehouse was gone. Again, he stood on nothing, saw nothing, heard nothing, and felt nothing.
Two views appeared before him. As if there were two Adonai side by side showing the same point and place. Feeling rather than knowing, he could tell it was the same place, the same time, but an alternate timeline, what happened in one was not what happened in the other. Both were a barren desert. The snow Abe had recently held reappeared in his hand. This was intended for the scene below. Not for both, he was about to see what happened with Providence, when one scene received what both needed. The snow fell and melted. It became rain and pelted the Adonai on the right. Time began to speed up. Greenery grew on the right. Nomadic clans of people appeared on the horizon and walked through his fields of vision. Those on the left continued, the right stopped. An oasis had formed. They settled down. A town appeared, a well was dug. More groups wandered through on both sides. Those on the left continued on, the scene remained a barren wasteland while the nomads on the right stopped roving. The oasis grew into a city, walls were erected and civilization flourished.
An army marched through. They continued by on the left. A soldier fell to his death from exposure and thirst. On the right, the same soldier fell with an arrow through his heart. The army conquered the city. Time sped up faster. The left remained barren; the right blossomed into a modern city. Skyscrapers and a transportation network carried thousands of people, millions perhaps. The wasteland still remained on the left. The right contained people that never showed on the left, but each time someone appeared on the left Abe was able to view their doppelgangers on the right. Foot traffic, camels, horses, cars, even planes that crossed the dried ground on the left went across the vibrant, rich cityscape on the left
Several millennia had passed since Abe first viewed the scene. He was growing accustomed to his catbird seat above it all. Suddenly he felt himself falling, zooming in on both scenes simultaneously. Closer and closer, on the left sand and rock, on the right a building. His building. The building that contained the Adonai. He could see the individual grains of sand on the left, as he passed through the roof, walls and floors until he was in the basement. Closer still, until his left eye saw naught but sand and his right naught but the Adonai globe of blue. He blinked.
The floor was cold beneath his hands, hard against his knees. He was lying prostate on it. Relief washed over him as he stood and went to wipe himself off. Despite having been on the dusty floor, nothing had stuck to him. There was nothing to wipe off; only memories remained of what he had just experienced.
A chill passed through Abe and made him shiver. The awesome power he had just experienced was not a force to bend to do your will. There was an order and a direction for it that was controlled. Even the coincidences were not. Abe began to recount scenes from his own life. Times when he had always imagined that his own effort had gotten him out of trouble and to where he needed to be now were put into perspective. It was evident that his feet had been put on the path to find the Adonai long before he even knew how to walk. Each step had been hidden, the course of action taken had been Providential to Abe, but not to the power above. The next step he had to take was more clear than any before it. Abe knew what to do.
The mysterious innards of the Danegeld hung before Allman. There were no more panels, no wires, he had dismantled the buffers and safeguards until he could view the axotl tank that had held his cloned body and nourished it to life. Each time he had grabbed his toothbrush the ship had gathered his DNA. When he cleared his head and removed the gunk that was the tartar of his mind the ship grew a new man. The poison inserted simultaneously with the DNA extraction worked slowly, but as fast as needed for the clone to grow. When it had done its deed automatic mechanisms retrieved his body and fed the Danegeld. The self-replicating ship was fueled by Allman himself. It was a symbiotic relationship, but only the ship had known. Allman had been an unaware parasite. Thinking he had been the one in charge for all those years. It was sobering to find out that the ship had been the higher form all along.
How many times had he been cloned? A hundred, a thousand, a million? Only the super-intelligence of the Danegeld could truly know and track it. The ship was so smart that Allman had had to brace the panel leading into this area to keep the automated machines out, they were struggling to put the ship back together. Having solved the mystery, he let them in. They ignored him, as they were programmed to, and diligently went about piecing the ship together again. Allman floated into the main chamber. Everything was spotless, clean and in its place. Including the panel to the Adonai, it was secure, but there was a noise behind it.
He floated over and placed his ear against it. Something banged against it so hard it sent Allman across the room a slave to Newton’s third law. When he recovered he headed for his makeshift screwdriver and started working on the panel to again remove it.
In a minute, he had it loose enough to wiggle. The panel was doing just that, wiggling. Two screws left. He removed one and the panel started to swing aside as a hand poked out.
Terror wrapped Allman as he slammed the panel shut. A yelp came from inside the compartment. Pain, someone was in pain. Probably the owner of the fingers he had just smashed. “Who is it?” Allman asked, his voice ominously echoing in the once lonely ship.
“Does it matter who I am? How many visitors have you had since you left Earth? I’m here to bring you back?”
Was that even possible, wondered Allman. Cautiously he pulled the panel back out and began to remove the last screw. He noticed that the hand did not re-exit the chamber.
As he took off the panel he spoke, “OK, you can come out now. I promise not the catch your hand again.”
Timidly a hand wrapped around each side of the opening. As he emerged, it was obvious to Allman that Abe had never been in a zero gravity environment before.