February 24, 2008

1. Three men came walking

She watched them emerge out of a tall, serrated stand of pitch pines.

She stood up from where she had been kneeling close to the loam reading the earth with a small magnifying lens no bigger than a thumbnail. The men seemed to have stepped forth from the land of dreams, and the eye of her mind opened wider at the sight of their odd garments.

They wore panes and panels of cracked leather, brown and oxblood-red, tied off with rawhide cords, tassel thongs and knotted sinews. Their boots slung loose at their ankles. The two flanking hikers sported black skull wraps. The bareheaded one in the middle carried the wind in his long, dark hair though no breeze stirred.

While yet a long way off, they touched her with their scent, cold and blue like the breath from a cloud full of rain. And she felt frightened.

She began to gather her things: specimen book, collecting satchel, trowel, pruner, GPS, camera, pH kit, canteen and lunch bag, all of which she hurriedly stuffed into her field pack. By then, the men had crossed through a scrub field of stunted trees and approached close enough for her to see their faces.

Pride tinged with contempt projected menace in the beardless features of the young men in head scarves. The older one between them needed a shave. Weighty sorrow, a watchful lamentation, haunted his rugged features.

Flipping open her cell phone, she punched her office number for the security of a familiar voice. The display flickered and went dead.

The department’s 4x4 truck waited a quarter mile away on a sand road at the far side of some riparian cedars and a narrow creek. She would have to run hard to outdistance the strangers. Instead, she reached into her thigh pocket for the pepper spray she carried for feral dogs and switched off the safety.

A small rain came ahead of the wanderers. It sizzled through dwarfish, misshapen trees, then faded as the summer sky swung clear and sunlight flowed over the open terrain and flared in the enclosing woods.

She raised a hand in greeting.

The three men seemed not to notice. She took out her digital camera and snapped several shots of them laboring through dried briers and weeds. She made sure they saw her photographing them, and then she switched mode to review those images. Every shot showed nothing but sedge and brier banks.

Silence rose in her from the bottom of darkness.

When they arrived within speaking distance, they stopped.

The young men had tawny visages of no discernable race. Vague of eyebrow, with satyr eyes slant and amber, they fixed on her, alert with fluid brilliance as if improvising a lethal plan.

The older one put a square-knuckled hand to his chest and nodded once softly. He gazed patiently through tussled hair and with such direct attentiveness he seemed intent on pressing recognition into her.

Something terrible and wonderful, past understanding, certainly past conscious restraint claimed her. Beauty stained her fear – and every anxious thought hung suspended as musings in a far corner of her mind.

She eked a whisper, “Who are you?”

“Not what you see.” The older one spoke in a smoky voice of sullen accent, an Eastern European melancholy. “You already know this. What did your camera show?”

“Nothing.”

“Who is without image?”

“A ghost?”

“The world without me is a ghost.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Yet you know.” While the young men to either side studied her with predatory interest, the older one opened large, sinewy hands palm up before him. “Mystery and chance.” As if these were their names or what each held, he extended them slightly. “These are the names for what cannot be named.”

This reel of asides did not flabbergast her, neither did the ominous facts of the strangers nor her hypnotized encounter with them – though she did sense the edge of sanity cutting like broken glass across the larger world.

She shifted her attention to a hummock of marsh ferns. Their patient commentary on the day bolstered her composure before these visionary wanderers, and she listened with even sturdier equanimity.

“You are Dara Egan, a twenty-six year-old botanist at Princeton University researching pixie moss, Pyxidanthera barbulata, a facultative wetland evergreen, which occurs here in the bog plains of the New Jersey Pinelands.”

He put a spatulate finger to the side of his high-arched nose, signaling secret knowledge. “You have had three lovers. James Dunn, a high school sweetheart, Li Wu-Young, your college classmate, and Philip Haxton, Spec4 soldier at Fort Dix, whom you met at an athletic club. Presently, you prefer your solitude, the better to concentrate on completing your doctoral treatise."

His voice darkened. "In a branch universe, you married Spec4 Philip Haxton and birthed a daughter, Logan. Philip died in Iraq before Logan’s birth. You continued your studies while rearing the child. During a field expedition on this very day adjacent to this worldline, four-year-old Logan accompanied you, wandered off and disappeared. You never saw her again. You would spend the remainder of your life believing she had fallen into quicksand."

The large man stepped closer. "In fact, Logan wandered into a Kruskal-Szekeres Radial Corridor – a passageway between worldlines, between different histories of the universe. In most of those histories, she perished. However, at an extreme boundary of all the possible histories of the cosmos, on a hypersurface known as the worldsheet, one of the 1017 Logans wandering the many worlds found her way onto the battleslopes of the Omega Free Frame."

Eyes flexing vividly, he continued, "None in this world but you have heard that name. The Omega Free Frame embody ineffable creatures. Their origins are here on the Earth of your future as Artificial Intelligences. Their teleological extent encompasses this entire worldsheet including the hyperdimensional boundary of Inverse Time. In fact, the Omega Free Frame is responsible for generating the Kruskal-Szekeres Radial Corridor in the Pine Barrens. The Radial Corridor projects from the future the causes that will create their prototype at Princeton’s Institute for Advance Study several years from now."

He waited until this fact set. "Since the first tribes arrived in the Pinelands over 20,000 years ago, many people have accidentally wandered into the Radial Corridor. Most lost themselves across the worldsheet among the many worlds. But Logan, one of the 1017 Logans on the worldsheet, chanced to find her way to the very nexus of the Omega Free Frame, where these transentient creatures war with themselves."

Her questions seemed to reach him before she voiced them. And he told her, "Soon after its inception, Artificial Intelligence refracted and evolved into divergent entities whose agonistic interests are not just at war. They are war. They inspire conflict throughout the holographic construct of spacetime. At stake is the geometry of our universe. And by universe I mean the worldsheet itself. To understand, you must remember that E = mc2. Light = matter. The kind of matter that exists in this universe is baryonic. That is not so in every worldsheet of the Cosmic Landscape, the domain of all possible universes. Other worldsheets consist of other varieties of matter condensed from other light. Most of those universes cannot support organic life – but they are ideal for what the Omega Free Frame has become. If their cosmic conflict persists, eventually this universe and all universes like it capable of sustaining life will dissolve in Otherlight."

He leaned in. "You alone have an opportunity to stop this. Logan’s DNA will serve as a homing signal across the worldsheet for her mother – for you. Her actual mother cannot find her, for that would contradict the causality of her worldline where she lost Logan. You can find her. For you are not her mother - and you are."

Having confided this, he stepped back and added somberly, "When you find Logan, you locate the battleslopes of the Omega Free Frame. There you will have a chance to confound their intent to deliquesce this worldsheet in Otherlight. How to do this you will discover on your journey through the many worlds. You should know that this undertaking will leave you fugitive to all worlds but this one – and your odds of returning precisely here are very slim. Very slim indeed.”

The raucous proclamation of a tree frog asserted the ordinary life of the Pine Barrens. Dara took a step away from the three strangers. She knelt, and with the small magnifying lens on her lanyard continued examining the pixie moss matting the ground. The blue scent of rain faded, and when she eventually looked up, the men had gone.

6 Comments:

Blogger LEO said...

Your writing is way beyond amazing. In 40 years of reading I've rarely found authors who can expand the boundaries of imagination as robustly. You consistently master the awe-inspiring description of things far beyond the typical human experience, combining aspects of human life and the Earth world with the transdimensional powers of quantum reality. Your words blaze paths through my brain as vividly believable as the most compelling experiences of the reality I'm familiar with... Can't wait to read the next installment.

February 26, 2008 at 7:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am amazed with his writing. I now can understand why my boyfriend has stayed continualy amazed and has cherished his Radix book. I myself am on the edge of my seat waiting for his new book and now waiting on two more I ordered online. I personaly can not wait to see how much more amazing he can get, he makes the reader feel in the book and holding onto every word. I'm waiting for more Otherlight. I will buy it no matter the cost.

February 29, 2008 at 10:47 PM  
Anonymous Peter Teago said...

What can I say that hasn't been said before. But it is an exeptionally rare and beautiful writer, who in so few words can transport me across time and space to the worlds of their glorious amagenings.
I can feel her fear, heart pounding, smell the rain and hear the wind. I am there.
As some one once said "We are allways in all ways nowhere now here".
Superb Thank you

December 5, 2008 at 3:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leo...what's happening?
AAA hasn't added anything for a year.
Has he been kidnapped by aliens?
I've heard on good report that Alien Entities are ensconced at those caldera places in the Islands. I saw a classic looking
car in your 2-29-08 LEO said..now its gone.
You guys are a mysterious cabal.

February 19, 2009 at 2:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found an encrypted dealie on South Korean site.
It was entitled; Roll On, Earth!
It had a number..28.80
The number was the rotational status of a planet approx. 500 light years from Sol.
The planet is reputed to be the closest perfect, virgin planet.
@ 1% light....it would be a simple 50,000 year sojourn.
The most interesting aspect of this number that I have found is from the French Revolution.
The first 49 days of the usage of the head chopper..1376 persons executed.
1376/49 is 28.81?
The question is what has the Revolution to do with a semi secret S. Korean site operated by the SK intelligence agency?
Is Hyandai(sic) Heavy Industries building an Interstellar craft...ifso/where did they acquire the technology?
Imagination is Key.
Nice car.

June 5, 2009 at 11:27 AM  
Blogger Joe Savage said...

Peter Teago has the right of it, he is a truly inspirational writer. I recently learned he was born in Newark NJ in 1951 and having grown up in equally gritty Elizabeth NJ (born in 1952) it would be fascinating to learn what if any influences he received from that part of his life. For those growing up in those areas you really see the best and worst in people.I have read and reread the Arthur books and with pride can say I have infected my son with a love for the likes of AAA and others that bring so much to our lives.

November 27, 2010 at 4:38 AM  

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