In celebration of completing the project sooner then the anticipated schedule, Theo Dyne had gladly paid a king’s ransom of a bonus. He even allowed three weeks vacation for Abe Hannah, who had not taken a day off in over two years. It seemed only fitting to Faith and Abe to take the Mann Transports south. They arrived on a Wednesday, and had gone immediately from the transport station to the site of the former Café de Garay. It had been torn down and rebuilt twice after a fire, then finally demolished to make way for a highway bypass and cheap affordable apartments. The apartments themselves were boarded up and dark. They were well on the way to demolition to make room for the next wave of development.
Incredibly, the original point from which all else had been measured remained. It was beside the cornerstone of the apartment buildings. Faith had filled in Abe about the history of buildings on the short ride from the station. She had all the other blueprints in her apartment. It could take a few days to track it back to Daneri’s location, but it was downhill from here. Abe was certain that he could do it through Faith’s determination.
Having regained his sight was a liberating event for Allman. He could again see the confines of the Danegeld. Ironic liberation. He stared at the toothbrush sitting on the console as if he had just left it out. Déjà vu again washed over him. This time he could see it coming.
To call it déjà vu was misleading, it was more of a feeling of déjà vu and amnesia mixed, taunting him. He could not see what was just in front of his eyes, the ship knew better than Allman. Each time he began to worry about immortality, or to define his trip as the imprisonment the Danegeld sensed it. He forcefully pushed off the wall and flew across the compartment. He stopped himself with his nose inches from the chronometer. Narrowing his eyes, Allman verified, it was not 2001, the computer was not HAL, and he was not Dave. And yet.
Despite the cliché, ignorance is not now, nor has it ever been bliss. Allman was living proof of that. Or was he dead wrong? Could it be that ignorance is only bliss if the ignorance is of the fact that one is ignorant?
Ernest Allman, on the voyage of a lifetime, with every possible amenity and enjoyment imaginable save other human contact was unable to find enjoyment. He had never craved human contact, and did not crave it now. Immortality was not living up to its name.
It took three days of plan shuffling, referencing and re-referencing, site visits and measurements before Abe had done it. He had aligned the house plans, the café plans, and everything else that had existed on the block to a singular point. The point. Now the search could truly begin.
Faith had provided all the blueprints as she said she could. Now while she went out to procure the remaining equipment to trespass into the boarded up apartments on Callé Garay, Abe had time to relax. Like the driven individual he was he pondered the Danegeld wiring diagram.
The presence of the Adonai on the ship was puzzling. Did anyone know it was there? Could the Adonai be moved? Was it put there or did it just appear? Clearly, it could not have been the reason for the massive mess of wires, because it would not explain the presence of hidden area. There was no corresponding spot on Daneri’s house plans, so it could not have contained something needed for the Adonai to work or else his would not have worked.
There still was no clue as to how it would work either on the ship or in the former basement. There was not much help in the literature. With the paranoia about the oddity, it would not come as a surprise to discover that the instructions had been written somewhere else, that neither Faith nor he had yet uncovered.
On a hunch, he pulled up the inventory of books. Without thinking, he panned to where each bookcase was as he reviewed the list of titles. The bookshelves of a literary fanatic who fancied himself an author who lived with an editor who herself had been well known in literary circles were full of titles. Some popular, most not, some fiction, some non-fiction, some biographies, some histories, some scientific, some cheap pulp, and mostly titles that had happily drifted into antiquity.
With a bang, Faith slammed the door. Her hands had been full of items for the night’s excursion, but Abe had been glued to the screen reviewing books. Her interruption broke his paralysis. One book had drawn his attention to the exclusion of not only all the others, but to the exclusion of everything else. And that was just the title.
“You asleep?” she asked with a hint of irritation in her voice.
He shook his head, “No, just wrapped up in this list of books. I thought there might be another clue to how to pull up the Adonai. Once we find the spot we’ll still have to know how to activate it.”
“So, did you find something?” she set down the bags in her hand and walked over to the monitor.
“Maybe, do you have a copy of this book?” Abe pointed at the screen. “If not, we can pick one up later after we finish.”
She looked at the book, “Yeah, I have it, but it’ll have to wait. It’s thick and we have to get ready to roll.”
The next hour was spent preparing for the trek. Wires were forgotten, books were forgotten, and only the search for the point that included all others consumed the two. The sun set, the moon rose, evening set in full. By the time they gathered up their things and walked outside it was quite dark beyond the small glowing circle the streetlights provided.
In silence, they loaded their equipment into the car and headed off into the night to Calle Garay.
In a similar state of silence, Allman stared at the toothbrush. His face was as scrunched up as a psychic who was trying to unbend a corkscrew by telekinesis. He was having about as much luck.
There were no visible cracks, openings, doors, or lines that could have concealed the toothbrush. And similarly, nothing that could possibly reach out and stab him. This was not Allman’s first rodeo, but he could only sense that something profound was about to happen, not what that profound something was.
With a fast swipe, he grabbed the toothbrush off the console. A quick prick penetrated his finger. Staring at where the toothbrush had been revealed no other clues or hints. Absentmindedly, Allman began brushing his teeth as he floated towards the hidden panel.
Numerous times Allman had gone back to see the Adonai. One thing he had found helpful was a complete lack of light. Since the ship had stopped malfunctioning when he was reborn, periods of darkness were much harder than they had been. As a result, he had taken to propping the door against the opening to help block it out. This time, he took the extra precaution of completely closing the opening. He could not screw in the bolts but he tried. Then he lay down to view the world he had once known. He had navigated it around until he spotted not only land, but also civilization. The clothes and vehicles he saw were unlike any he had seen on his updates. It would still be decades of their time before these times would reach him. The paradox the Adonai provided was mind staggeringly fascinating.
The streets were sparsely populated. It was dark outside, and the most motion came from the vehicles as they passed through the circles of light cast by the streetlights. The vehicle lights seemed to disappear as they melted in with the street lamps.
As Allman began to fight drowsiness, a vehicle with two inhabitants breezed past. The male figure in the passenger side looked familiar to Allman, but before he could concentrate and refocus the Adonai’s attention to him, Allman had fallen fast asleep.
The couple in the car was wide-awake. They were equally unaware that Allman had just viewed them driving by. Abe and Faith continued ignorant of the fact that they had been viewed from afar.
Reconnaissance of the neighborhood had revealed an alleyway that would provide an adequate spot to slip between the fencing unobtrusively. It was poetic that the spot from which everything was measured happened to be the same location. Advances in vehicular safety had made it difficult to turn off the lighting system while still in motion, but if anyone had been watching them enter the alley, it would be difficult for them to see that the two had stopped allowing them to park and get out unobserved.
The two cut then slipped into a hole in the fence with their equipment. There was not much ground between the fence and building, so they were at the wall almost as fast as they were through the fence. Abe paused long enough to re-secure the fencing to conceal their entrance. The plan was to be back out before the sun rose, but there was no need to take chances.
Neither of them were skilled burglars, but the concept of hugging the building and staying in the shadows came naturally. Slowly and quietly, they slipped down the wall to the open window they had spotted earlier in the day. There was not much light coming through from the street, and none from the moon making it easy to be in the shadows of the abandoned building.
Kneeling at the window, Abe removed a hand-held laser distance-measuring device. Once considered cutting edge, this tool was now as common as a salad fork, but the task Abe intended to use it for was more complex then choosing between lettuce and tomato. Faith pulled out a notebook that contained the rudimentary program they designed to keep track of where they were in the building.
Taking great care with where he set the instrument, Abe quickly shot the distance to the corner point from which they had started. He reached over, keyed in the number to the notebook, and awaited direction from the computer on where to go. Faith handed him a flashlight and a headlamp.
The former basement stairs were nowhere near where the current stairs were. The multi-family capacity of the building made things difficult, but Abe’s analytical mind calculated and figured as they went along. The last buildings that had been built on the site were built after completely removing the previous buildings. They in turn had been built after completely demolishing Daneri’s house, so the room they were in now was not related to the basement of Carlos Daneri other then the connection the two had calculated. While Daneri’s Adonai had been beneath the basement stairs, it now appeared to be in the middle of an open basement. That would make finding it that much harder. Being in the basement made the Glonass and GPS tracking system useless, however, one of the few things in their advantage was that Abe had expected that much. While on the upper floors, it had verified his calculations reinforcing the system he had worked out. Still, there were variables that made the task hard.
Faith had nothing to do with finding the spot, yet faith had everything to do with their ability to find the right spot. One thing they had counted on was that it would be dark in the basement. On that, they could not have been more right. It was pitch black, with no air stirring. The time of night minimized the outside sounds, but the building muffled even those making the overpowering sound of silence all the two could hear. Faith slowly walked through the thick, soundless darkness while Abe faithfully plugged away at tracking where the lost Adonai would be found.
Part of their equipment included a collapsible stool. This had been one of the most difficult pieces to find because Abe had calculated its height exactly to insure comfort while concentrating on where to look. Daneri had been unable to add any chair, cushion or comfort for fear of losing the Adonai. Even this stool was not very cushy; in order to get the right height certain other comfort aspects had to be sacrificed. Cutting off his headlamp, Abe set down the stool and oriented himself in the direction he expected to find the prize.
Faith, seeing his light go out, went to do the same. Right as she did, she noticed an oddity in the concrete floor. Bending down, she extinguished her own light and touched the ground. A worn depression had formed in the otherwise unblemished synthetic rock floor. In utter darkness and silence, she felt the smooth, cold surface. Then realized it was not cold. It began to warm. She slid her hand from one side to the other. It was a localized warming, not due to her hand, something was causing it. Startled, she opened her mouth to speak and stood up. No sounds came from her mouth. Where was Abe?
Abe squinted into the darkness. He could see no walls, no columns, no floor, no ceiling, no furniture, no tools, no Faith, no Adonai, only faith that they were all there somewhere in the pitch black cold silence he was squinting in.
And there was light.
As quick as it appeared, it blinked out again. “Stop!” Abe called out, shattering the silence. In the darkness, Faith stood still.
“Come towards me,” he directed. Though he whispered, it seemed like yelling in the basement. Slowly she moved towards him until he again called out, “Stop! There it is!” Looking through her, Abe could see the light again.
His excitement was contagious, and she moved quickly to be by his side. This time, the light did not fade when she moved. Abe had found the Adonai through Faith, but would not lose it again.
It appeared as an almost iridescent sphere of incredible brilliance. The light became piercingly bright. Stabbing his eyes almost to the point of blindness, then it became subdued to the point he could see. Concentrating on what it was, he quickly learned what Allman knew about how to change his view, though neither of them would say they could control the Adonai.
Abe could see the sea; dawn and dusk; spider webs in the corner of a building in the middle of a city that looked like a broken labyrinth; an unending stream of faces and eyes staring back as if from a mirror without any of them reflecting him back; he found a house he had lived in as a child, not an apartment, but a house, with a backyard; he could count the blades of grass in the yard, and see into the field behind full of fruit trees which he could count individually, more then he could ever see as a child; he scanned deserts, able to see each grain of sand or the complete dune; looking into crowds of people on the other side of the globe where it was daylight, he could peer into their bodies, this one had cancer, that one an artificial heart; a ring of mud in the sidewalk had once hosted a grand and glorious tree before it had been cut; he saw a lone boy, no more than five years old, sitting in a green, webbed lawn chair holding a bamboo pole like it was a fishing pole; he saw a green patio stair, concentrating on it he could see that it had been red before painting, the strokes were undone individually; a camellia bush grew from a bud to tree sized before his eyes; there were animals running across the savannas; cities he had never been to appeared before his eyes; he could see his own heart beating, follow its pumping, tracing the blood through its path; he saw the face of the world, the bending of the line, the start of the circle, the end of all, and the feet of God.
Dizzy, he fell from the stool. Abe had seen the unimaginable, felt infinite wonder and pity. He wept as he lay on the floor. If he never saw it again it would be too soon, and yet, he desired nothing else.
For her part, Faith had remained silent and in awe. Checking on Abe, and seeing he was all right, she sat on the stool and peered into the darkness. She too found the Adonai, and was forever changed.
Dazed and confused, Allman shook his head. Ordinarily the Danegeld corrected itself while he slept; it seemed to be falling apart again. As if, he had not slumbered. Lights flickered, random systems cut off and on. The console clearly showed the ship to be off course. And he still could not find his toothbrush. With the ship falling down around his head, all he wanted was clean teeth. A strange pain came from one of his bicuspids. Was this a toothache?
For a week there had been a strange smell coming from the next compartment. Unable to fix the problems with the ship, Allman looked for its source. Closely he inspected each seam of paneling surrounding the room. An alarm sounded, he started to ignore it, but it was different then the other random alarms that had been going off since he awakened. Being close to the door, he poked his head into the opening.
Sitting on the console was his toothbrush. As much as he wanted it, it was not time for that yet. He went back to the search, peering intently over every square inch, sniffing as he went.
The smell intensified slightly as did the pain in his tooth, the subtle difference was noticeable only because of his concentration. To his right, he noticed a screw that just barely extended above the surface of the otherwise smooth wall. Marking the spot he was in, he floated over to the screw. Again, the smell became delicately more intense.
Hopeful, he loosened first that screw, then the other screws holding the panel to the wall. There was no need to pause for suspense, yet he still did before removing the panel.
A wave of stench washed over him. He noticed the scratching on the panel, but that was of less concern to him right now. Looking inside the compartment, he saw the source of the smell, and of the problems of the Danegeld. Inside was Allman.
Clearly, he was dead, and beginning to decompose. It would not be an easy task to clean up this mess. Predominantly it was the juices of life that had escaped to infiltrate the spaces between bulkheads, wires, and whatever else was inside the wall. It took several hours before Allman could clean his dead self up, and there was really nothing to do with the body.
A large plastic bag held the remains while he sucked out the dried fluids using the vacuum from the shower. Several times before, he had gotten the urge to clean rather than let the robots do it. There was only so many ways to pass the time. The robotic cleaners only emerged while he slept, not to fix a mess he had not only found, but also apparently made. Disconnecting the vacuum was a simple maneuver that had been anticipated by the ship’s designer.
When he had cleaned himself up as much as he could, he went to clean himself up. He re-attached the vacuum and slipped into the enclosed shower area. The shower was as cleansing as any gravity free shower could be.
As he finished, he began to contemplate the writing on the panel. It was deep enough to be clearly read, but its meaning was cryptic to understand. Whoever had put it there intended the reader to go deep in the bowels of the Danegeld to see what was described. He had seen the corresponding marks inside while he was cleaning.
Curiosity killed the cat, and perhaps Allman at least once before. With his head still damp from the shower, he went inside the compartment.
The sun had just barely crested over the tops of the lowest buildings as the two emerged from the building. Quickly and as quietly as they could, they pulled back the hole in the fence, replaced it and slipped into the rapidly disappearing shadows of the alley.
Faith drove, while Abe contemplated. He had seen the world through the Adonai, but could it be that the world was not the only domain viewable through the Adonai? Is that why there was a similar emblem in the wiring diagram of the Danegeld? His musings were interrupted by Faith.
“I guess you’re ready to go back home now, and I’m ready to look for a new literary treasure to hunt for.”
They traveled a whole block before Abe could respond. Had she not seen into the depths of the Adonai? His own urge was to dive deeper, to search further, to seek out the meaning of what he had seen, the Adonai was not a box to check as to say, “been there, done that” but rather a sight to behold, revel in and to return to. “No, I feel like we’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg here. Finding it was the start of the task, not the conclusion.”
Taking her eyes off the street to look at him, Faith paused. “Finding it was the hard part. Now we know where it is. The thrill for me is in the hunt. To me, it’s time to close shop. Head for the hills, or at least the next hunt. I don’t know where it will take me, but it isn’t Buenos Aires.”
They traveled in silence for several minutes. The city around them was waking up. Lone shop owners made their way out to open their doors, people came out to exercise, garbage collectors made their way slowly from stop to stop. The city, the world, and Faith all were continuing their lives as if nothing had changed. Only Abe seemed to understand. What they had uncovered was not just a one and done sight to set eyes on and forget. It was something bigger then both of them, bigger than the city. It was life changing. Yet it appeared to have had no effect on her.
“I wouldn’t have found it without you, Abe. By Abe alone, through Faith alone, in the Adonai alone. It is a wonderful feeling to have found it, but it isn’t satisfying to me on its own anymore. Maybe for me the hunt is the bigger thrill. Whatever it is, I am ready to move on. I don’t know where I’m headed next. It could be weeks before I pick up and move one.”
“No, I’m not ready to go, there’s something about this that has me hooked. We have to go back. What else can it do? And what about the book? Finding it was only part of the issue. There’s still more to uncover, the mystery’s bigger than just finding the Adonai.”
“You can stay here, with me, if you want, until I figure that one out.
[Come back to this instead of getting stuck for six months again, Faith’s reaction isn’t right, fix that, too][ Me , 5/13/17, 10:32
Important note to self]
Following the instructions cut into the back of the panel, Allman positioned himself in the bulkheads before he realized he left the panel off. As he pushed himself toward the opening, he noticed that several drops of water had shaken out of his head and hovered near the Adonai. Cutting the light out he had to feel his way back. It felt so extremely familiar to him. The water droplets clung to his forehead as he glanced in the direction of the Adonai. A blinding flash of light enveloped first his head, then his whole body.
A feeling of euphoria washed over his body from head to toe. It was as if he had gone diving from a cliff and was headed for the depths that were beyond comprehension. The dive had become unfathomable, and yet his mind cleared up beyond measure. Every inch of his body tingled and the most calming, reassuring voice began to speak in his mind. Every molecule seemed to reverberate the comforting, bass voice that spoke to him. It was mind-blowing and frightening, yet Allman was reassured and not the least bit nervous.
As the light tapered off, the Adonai reappeared and Allman was again peering into the streets of a Latin American town. For hours, he watched the traffic flow and the lively city crackle with the energy it puts out. He was intimately connected to the scene, yet completely removed and above it all. The emotions of the people in the town as well as that very energy he was feeling were weak, barely registered in his own mind. As if the power of things on earth while very much there and real, mattered not one bit. The strength of anger, madness, road rage, greed, ambition, and lust were minuscule nuisances to Allman. The euphoric feelings of the Adonai and the voice had opened a door that had been hidden to even Allman’s existence.
His control of the view had greatly increased. Moving about was a breeze compared to before. Yet always as he released control, the Adonai returned to one particular building. There were no clues why, yet he tested it.
Spinning the view, rapidly several times Allman darted out in a direction he did not even know. Zooming over trees, buildings, cars and pedestrians, he flew like a pigeon, or a lowly piece of refuse, floating, soaring, drooping down, and never truly stopping until he had run out of city. A lowly road stretched out through the trees into a darkened sky. The pampas grass waved in the wind as he let loose the control and watched the horizon. Without thinking about it, he was adrift, floating through the area like none before him. His head rolled about as did his view. The sights of the Adonai stayed with him even when not looking at the spot, but when he returned to the spot again, the view he had returned to the same building. Something was drawing him there. He knew not what.
Hours later a refreshed Allman slipped from the compartment back into the world of a messed up spaceship. The image of the Adonai remained in his mind like a burned screen on an old automated teller machine. Euphoria still coursed through his veins as he contemplated brushing his teeth. Without realizing, his toothache had passed.