"That day in July of 2020," the old woman began. "Daybreak had been ushered by the escort of tanks and accompanied by martial marches..."
A nation that had never before experienced a conqueror's boot on it soil, could not imagine of this ever happening--could not conceive of anybody wanting to spoil the American Dream--was rudely awakened by a cold splash of nightmarishly icy news:
This is a benevolent dictatorship. Do not leave your home or place of work, get off the street if that is where you are, or you will be shot on sight. Do not use your initiative or incentive, it is against the law. You will be told what to do shortly.
"It had been so unbelievable I had to record it," said Mrs. Jazinsky. "Today, thirty years after, when I listen to it I break out laughing, then in cold sweat. I cry after. You see we lost our boy, Peter was his name, that day. The driver of the school bus had tried to take the kids back home, ran through a road blockade, and got lasered by a tactical satellite. Only molten metal left. Not even a bone." She became thoughtful for a moment. "After that Jason and I didn't see it fit to have another child." She took a deep breath. Her silent husband, whenever he was present, would only nod calmly to himself during his wife's explicit accounts.
"That's exactly as I remember it, love. Nobody who had heard the loud and rowdy raucous, those haughty deliveries that tragic morning can ever forget. And it was everybody who had heard them. Again and again. Over and over. Like a broken record on those old record players." She hooked and knotted excitably at her crocheting embroidery piece.
"But truth is like cork in water, is what they say. No matter how many times you sink it, it always pops to the top. And Xenon's name always came up when people asked how all this came about. If you ask me, that man is crazy--a glutton for power. Monk and all! To be the monarch among the oligarchy is not good enough. I heard he wants to be called planetarch!"
It had been the only time Dantea saw Anna Jazinsky shiver.
Although not formally educated Mrs. Jizensky had a keen mind. In her sixty-seven years she had probably read what must have been thousands of books so as to waddle through the legions of hours of inactivity during the night shifts at the hospital and her moonlighting privately to care for patients at their homes.
"Oligarchy," she had imparted to Dantea several months back, "the rule by a few, governed."
A handful of tyrants in this country and most of the world nicknamed 'government men'--made up of generals and a core of SIA directive givers and their henchmen implimenters--called the shots. In Europe the tyrants had their establishment of operations in Luxembourg, the richest country in the world. In Asia, it was Hong Kong and by far the wealthiest province in that area. Africa and Arabia had Pretoria. The fusing infrastructure that welded and audited worldwide contingencies and doctrines was a homogeneous vintage: the SIA directive givers.
Simple folk simply cowered back from such megatheria of power.
It had all started when the sight, sound and smell as well as the taste and feel, not so much of Democracy, for one can still experience freedom without it, but of natural socio- evolutionary processes had been tampered with and misused. The environment's senses, or sensors that maintained environmental equilibrium, had been slighted and exceedingly neglected. Thus the answer givers and problem solvers of the world had gathered, first in Rio De Janeiro in 1992, then come 1997 they amassed in New York, and after the turn of the millennium...here...there...anywhere this noble cause called for them to assemble and ponder and try to respond to the dire calls of a ravished world. But nothing came of it.
Except for a few.
The dandies of power.
It wet and soothed intrepid gustos and dauntless passions. Where there was a question of power, scruples and principles came second and soon after abolished. This was the rationale of the dandies.
Religion, Government, Business.
The holy trinity of power.
Whoever controlled one or more of these institutions could control man's destiny. The dandies chose Government, and, turned it into the most outrageous and sophisticated form of business mismanagement and miss-administration the world had ever seen. But it had been by a quirk of the most intrepid gamble. A risk that had brought the venture of the arch-dandy of them all to the pinnacle of eminence and triumph. He had chosen to bet on Religion. And he outwitted them all. Soon had them all working for him. One can discuss things with the President of a country or the President of a company, but never with God.
"Every word God utters is Law--Divine Law," claimed Xenon.
So the hoop went a full round circle. Where before religion failed or was only patronized, now religion brandished a full-fledged revival. Theocracy backed by martial forces and covert operatives had been the most effective form of despotism known in all of history. But history in these illuminated epochs and enlightened societies had been banned because it proved anachronistic in the face of such high-tech vaults as man-made singularities, the Q-OMEGA 1(c), and, most recently, the fringe. So the times were ripe for a return to good ol' God, Xenon had figured. Rain and sun ripen fruit for the plucking. Fear and desperation arising from oppression deteriorated the masses enough to get them to believe in anything. Even in a monk prophet who voices hope through God's commands directly from Him. The first command of many to come had been for simple folk to bow their heads to the Almighty and trust in the sturdy arms of the Citizen Protectors, God's chosen and armed angels of mercy.
"Tanks, laser canons, arms and armament everywhere you turned. What's that antique of a statue standing for, up there outside New York's Manhattan harbor?" Mrs. Jizensky would ask Dantea, ruefully nodding her head. "So immigrants passing by can have a good chuckle? They should take it down and sell it for scrap, as they sold us out to those generals and SIA hooligans." She licked her dried pink lips.
"Nobody would have believed it, back then. So much going for us. The whole world looking up to us. The turn of the millennium. The turn for the better, people everywhere had cheered. Only to have it come to this. Who ever heard of the dollar flaunting In Arms We Trust!"
Mrs. Jizensky was getting old and she had seen too many people leave their last breath in her arms to fear death much. Her nursing career taught her that death was unavoidable; but not that dying had to be pointless.
"God forgives all because God knows all," she had once declared to Dantea. "That statue, up a ways north, is still standing for as sure a purpose as that of you wanting to see this little one," she had patted Dantea's belly gently, "raised and nurture in a sane and free and kindhearted society. Not this butcher shop."
"So the Divine and my Anthony's Fringe Theory steadily dash towards an unavoidable confrontation," his Alope had said, a week before she had exhaled her last breath while giving birth to the stillborn girl.
Yes, sure, too much radiation from the ozone holes, the experts had concluded. As good an excuse as any.
Why couldn't he have died instead.
He often thought about these words, her words, and--
"Curious," he whispered to her, "why men of science--medical, civil, political or physical science--don't study up a bit on the philosophy of religion."
He wondered if that time had not come? Two classic antagonists concede being siblings, offsprings of the same parent. Even be one and the same.
"Why men of religion circumvent the learning of these sciences themselves. Why the need of creating a chasm where soon providence will prove that there is none?"
It wasn't the best of worlds, he admitted. People were still messing it up, no real headway was being made. But it was the only livable world humanity had.
And soon it will be gone, wiped clean of life by the deeds of a careless century.
He felt very worn-out. And heartsick, and full of hurt.
But time was dear precious to him.
He shook his head.
What was the point of all this grim, pondering dirge?
His own wisdom, that which he acquired with much pain and suffering bound to a wheelchair, years after Alope's passing, told him that life did not allow such luxuries. Rambling on to himself about proverbial ontological and epistemological clashes was about as effective as trying to train a fish to rap.
Annoyed, he advanced his electric wheelchair to the blinking screen of the terminal that occupied the corner with the two windows in his study.
"Why do you refuse to cooperate with what's in my head?"
The lit wall to his right sparkled brazenly.
The machine was a Rochard main-ram computer model Q-OMEGA 1(c), they had told him. The world-wide network accessed him to data sources others could only wish for.
"The house you live in (Air Force General Rupert Moffet had forgotten Michael, Lovesigh noted) is planned, designed and built as annex to it. No other construct, I know of, in or outside the country, can claim a more privileged synthesis than the Q-OMEGA 1(c).
"For one, it ties into all the non-intelligence satellites orbiting the globe. Links to the three-point space-mesh telescope, and, listen to this," the frog-eyed soldier pouted, "it shares time with Co.N.D.O.R.S."
(Coordinated Nations Deep-space Observatory and Reconnaissance Station, the furthest man-made orbiting artifact. Its location, in orbit around Alpha Centauri.)
Lovesigh could open the gates of the havens--summon the stars of a thousand galaxies right into his very den--at a mere touch of a key, utilize processors that ran in plasmic time (the unit period of which equaled one electron spin).
"But I don't have the one thing that will make all this come together, General. Paradox Technology."
"A field still in diapers," declared General Moffet, stiffly. "Sorry, but the Omega is the closest thing we have to artificial intelligence. At the moment."
"I Need Para-Tech. Raw Vacuum."
He had to produce the vacuum found outside the fringe, before simulating the fringe itself. Vacuum so empty that it sucked into existence primordial matter: electrons, neutrinos, quarks, and their anti-particles.
What he wanted was to un-create a small segment of the universe. Just enough to braid a microcosmic simile of the fringe. A mathematical sphere of extra-universe within a shell of fringe outside which the known universe lay.
But the colossus that Q-OMEGA 1(c) was, was still uncooperative.
"It simply does not resonate to my thinking, General," Lovesigh had told the man from the military who dropped in every so often and who looked and dressed like a mannequin with straight edges.
"How is that, Professor?"
"I used all possible methods to get it to simulate a mathematical matrix on the parameters of the fringe. But the screen keeps glaring out 'INSUFFICIENT DATA' or similar graffiti. I want transitive solutions, General. The machine does not have empiricism of what it is asked to do."
"Why not?" The General whisked an invented fleck of dust from his uniform.
"Simple. Because it has not done it before. There's no antecedent model to follow. No algorithmic precedence to guide it through a topos analogous to that of the fringe."
Lovesigh gave him a lethal glance and conciliated with severe grace. "Topology has the same root, General--where was I?"
General Moffet's prevailing sky-blue eyes had become obfuscated now, relinquishing all light of understanding, and dropped deep into their sockets.
Yet, Lovesigh's own 'third eye' clearly envisaged the worm-holes and the toroidal geometry that wrapped around the fringe plexus.
"I can knit the matrix," he continued at a pant, "up to fourth degree differentials. Enough to conceptualize a converging consistency. But the Mett(ropoulos)-Par(dulli) Transforms after that generate three digit factorials raised to a transcendental function exponent."
He halted, and took a waft of air down his lungs.
"The results are both prime and rational roots. The primes, I do not know about, nor have I the leisure to work on. But the rational roots, these, General, are the afflatus. They come in paired sets of four, and each pair plots two real-point coordinates of worm- hole ends. One end lies in this universe, the other disseminates information at the fringe threshold."
"But there are ungodly many!" Lovesigh woofed.
The General jumped.
"If that recalcitrant machine could just discriminate worm-hole ends near-by from...from ones in Proxima Centaury."
He had uploaded it with all the constellation perspectives, volumes of maps of the skies as viewed from Earth. To no avail. The machine circuits, electromagnetic themselves, were being disoriented by the plethora of space-time inconsistencies generated by the holes. They were being thrown off by the maverick vortexes spawned by the ends. Boggled down with gibberish every time he asked for anything above a third degree partial differential. The quanta fluctuations prevalent defied the machine's laws of cause and effect.
He gruffed and grunted as he explained, and so did the General.
Still, Lovesigh could envisage both the fringe's geometric texture and its reference loci. He envisioned the fabric itself, the approximation limits the hyperbola the open-end toroid unfolded into, its cross section mass-to-energy ratio and space-time density and curvature. "...but the banal machine cannot work with chaos paradoxes."
"No! The stuff of logic the naive beast is made of rejects probable antitheses whose limits approach contradiction. Its nodes and links fail to function beyond the capacity of conventional reasoning. Do you follow, General?"
The other stared at him wide-eyed. "It cannot," he said, at last.
"Certainly not. How can it when it has not been provided with virtual orientation, modified to bypass binary logic in view of stochastic sampling? Elementary, General: It is incapable of indulging and commenting on non-deterministic solutions."
"I will report your remarks to the President, sir." The man had then risen, bowed his head crisply and enthusiastically marched to the door.
"General, that's my wardrobe."
The snow dried and gritted in graupels. The air was tight and thick, and each breath he sucked scoured his throat like razor shards of ice. The hairs in his nostrils had crystallized and his white bushy beard encrusted forming a niveous cornice that jutted from the gnarled, broad face.
The beeper, aloof to his efforts, sounded again.
"All right, all right," he gruffed, "hold your horses."
He removed the gloves upon entering the greenhouse and adjusted the thermostat and the humidifier. There was plenty of energy converted by the photoelectric cells to charge a couple dozen wet batteries and keep the vivarium running plus the cabin through the long Yukon nights. He got enough vegetables and fruit growing to provide for and balance an otherwise fish diet.
Alaska claimed to be as isolated as a place can be, not considering the Poles and deserts.
Distracting city throngs, "Bah!" And those academia coops called universities. People pressed together, smelling and breathing each other's closeness--vulgar, intrusive, gagging! He had to suffer through it all so many times, the lectures in stuffy classrooms, the symposiums, deliberations and ceremonies. What an accolade of pomposity and touching.
Besides, his work did not require the amenities of collectivism. On the contrary, noise and confusion only short-circuited his otherwise orderly synopses. It distracted from the job at hand: to colonize planets...and get the hell out!
Still, even at this distant and obscure cranny, there were those that passed by, dropped in uninvited and pestered him with every nature of slight sliver and petty anxiety. Maybe Tibet would tender for what he looked. But too high to breath. And then there was the beeper. "There's no getting away from that little runt."
He shut the door of his cabin and threw two of the logs he brought with him into the waning amber-burgundy spews of the fireplace. After shifting the ash he settled next to the radio-phone and injected the thumb-size beeper into the inset.
"David Chickbrow please...what?...yes, yes, the Chief."
Saddle tramp, he glowered at the machine. Don't give a hoot if he's chief or warrior. Redman, chinaman, blackman--as long as they all keep away.
Professor Aristides Krell, stocky-limbed, toyed with his curved stem birch pipe. He might have been a wrestler but for a pronounced limp and a pair of runny ash eyes. It was late noon and the summer sun blazed on through the glass panes, searing his vision white.
Squat and Neanderthal-looking, in his middle sixties, Krell was the recipient of two Nobel Prizes.
One Nobel boasted that the brusque physiognomy had a slight but determining edge over Einstein and Hawking involving The Unification Theory.
While they had endeavored at snail-pace, restricted by the implements of customary science, he bounded steps beyond utilizing his own unorthodox theorems and radical observation procedures.
His paradigm did not go unrewarded, for he had, intentionally or not, unensconced a locality in the Cosmos where miracles abide: the place where electrons go to when they disappear; the venue from where virtual particles pop into conventional space-time; that vicinity of Creation which instantaneously informs a chronon, across the fringe, that its mate has not changed 'flavor' or the quality of its inertness.
Fun-space he called it, because it produced funny outcomes.
The second Nobel came for implementing his observations.
Project SEPTOR was Dr. Krell' brainchild. He fostered and reared it from concept to its much awaited send-off, pending the completion of Lovesigh's giant toroid gate, two hundred miles above the Earth, that emulated the fringe in miniature. He was expressly anxious; bent on exploring for colonizable worlds.
Other than an ochlophobic predisposition, Dr. Krell was partial to a rumor that spread around contending that Earth was tapped dry and would soon cease to subsist and harbor first, the human race, then, progressively, all of life.
In two centuries, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and the consummation it afflicted, the oil wells were running dry, the coal mines scraped clean, and the few remaining tiny rain forests were guarded round the clock to keep axe-toters and poachers out.
If that wasn't presage enough, over the past fifty years the world ocean level had crept up two meters. The Dutch and the Italians were being crowded in, and the first to scream. But it was quickly and balmy hushed by other floods consisting of billions in ECU and dollar relief. For it would have been easier to arrest an avalanche than to curtail the impetus of the snow-balling Titan called 'progress'.
No matter. The sequestered man that was Dr. Krell in one of his more eloquent and remarkable poetic moods was noted for his flippant but colorful flair, "Spin me into a fun-beam and I shall fetch thee today the Earths of tomorrow."
He expelled a blue puff of smoke from his polished pipe. "Yea, I'll hold." Caller verification took a while.
"Silly rules. Made for mobs," mumbled Krell, blowing smoke, copiously.
"You're dogmatic, confound you. Too darn bogged down with succotash procedures to abandon them," Lovesigh blurted out at the blinking wall of his den.
"Well, Alope Lovesigh, now I'm talking to a machine as well. Death maketh fools of us all...or whatever."
"This gag of a body'll never have the time to get a matrix out. No chance."
He jiggled his head diminutively.
"Too many variables. Too many extraneous roots. Too much trial and error. A hundred years is not to be enough. Ah, but if that machine could only grasp the train of thought, not fluster itself with the maverick vortices--it'll boil down to a matter of days."
His eyes burned blue.
"The Omega Point at man's beck-and-call. You, dearest woman, star of my stars, that much nearer. If I...I could simply reach the senile automaton."
He drew away from the console exhausted, angry and disappointed.
He returned to the anarchy of his writing desk and confronted one of the two tall window behind it.
Dusk infiltrated a pink-maroon softness into his study. Above the tall hedge at the lawn's edge the first stars of night emerged, sparkling their presence as though reassuring him that they were there for him to reach. They enticed and beckoned him to approach, ascend to them and broach their mysteries, and promised in return to become his; they, as well as the kingdom they reigned over.
Is there more here than what meets the eye? he asked, silently. If there is only a way to know 'You shall be as gods' is not all that irrevocable with death.
His face now shone like a candle in the dark.
For a smidgen of a while there was the lift of reliance that hope brings and the assurance that, his mind--soul, if you must--lived on, freed now of its malaise body, and worked on, even in some uncharted niche of the Cosmos, to bear his search to fulfillment.
Soon, Dr. Tipler, I shall know if your Physics of Immortality have the probable grits you claim, he thought, bringing to mind the old volume he had once read and never forgotten.
"Ah, but let's not talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs," he protested out loud, "they're ruminations of the terminally destitute."
He wasn't that far gone--yet. Weak he was. But by conserving strength he might gain months. A year even.
Light from the flickering computer screen exposed a taunted half-smile.
Who're you kidding? it appeared to declare.
Outside the window was pitch darkness. From above, a quadrant of star-flecked sky fell upon the now playing eyes. The combination of it, of the 'Christmas tree', and of the monitor's queer iridescence leaped and hopped as the look on Dr. Lovesigh conceded to calm control, then into a curious potpourri of brooding and reveling.
Albeit, bit-by-bit, a puckish grin displaced it. Alope, who had known well the good professor, would have said that he was chasing the wisp of a tachyon again, a vestigial trace a flash of thought had left behind.
The ant-mites withdrew from the Q-Omega 1(c). A bounty of electronic monitoring equipment buzzed and whirred through kilometers of underground corridors of the vast maze that was the most inaccessible building in the world.
In the center of this entombed fortress was the computer's habitat, Mite Industries Special Projects, a government co-venture with a private corporation. And the grandest joint venture in the history of recorded mankind.
All, underneath the Sierra Nevada.
Fingle looked around him. Chickbrow, Michael, the brass and a staff of mite-techs dressed in white frocks, spent and weary by the fifteen day operation, scooted about, or speechlessly looked on from their stations as the carcass of Dr. Anthony G. Lovesigh was carted out of the uncontaminated chamber.
All concerned were aware of the vital importance of a second, artificial, fringe.
'All concerned', Fingle reflected, were the Council of Seven who along with their regional governments knew that the Earth had less than twenty years to survive. Past that, there would be a calamity to a degree the world had never known.
The polluted atmosphere would preamble for the Greenhouse Syndrome to set irreversibly in: temperatures would rise, the Polar glaciers would melt, the wobble of the globe would de-stabilize, and nine-tenths of its life would perish.
The hard calculations also revealed that the remaining one-tenth, even with the aid of gas masks, would have less than one percent chance to weather the ensuing decimation and epidemics.
Fingle brought to mind again his only child. Dantea, only twenty-six, pregnant with neonatal life in her, and hope in him.
They must live, had been his one and only pronouncement in his anxiety-driven life.
Four and a half months had passed since in Carlsbad he had first heard of the fringe and Dr. Lovesigh; experienced his first exposure to the termite-ant hybrid strain--and initially felt the leaning fulcrum of his own desperation change from inept groping to certain hope.
"Anthony Lovesigh is one of those rarest of the rare benefactions that chance, once in a billion or more years, let happen," Chickbrow had revealed to him over the days.
"A life unit that hit the jackpot of optimum genetic combinations. A natural selection that evolved by arranging its mutated nucleotides, the rungs and genetic code of the double helix ladder, Mr. Fingle, in such a way as to allow a propensity for access to universal information. The combination code of Dr. Lovesigh's nucleic acids must, by some quirk of accident, be the mirror image of the universe's fringe code--proton for proton, electron for electron."
"Dr. Lovesigh, sir, can not, ever, be wrong."
"He sure doesn't look it."
"Not his body. I am referring to his mind, Mr. Fingle. The deductions and theoretical laws that he arrives at by his inferences and intuitive avalanches point, so far, directly to the very ones the universe holds in store for us. Notches higher than Krell, Father Mettropoulos, Bludrose and all the rest. Lovesigh's mind is the universe's animate counterpart, the only living version of what the Cosmos would have resembled had it been a flesh and blood construct: He embodies the sapient simile of Creation."
"As long as he doesn't know it--"
"Hold on, Chickbrow. The man is a 'little god' and doesn't know it?"
"That's just it. He doesn't," Chickbrow had told him. "We and a handful up there only know. The fewer the better. It's this condition that keeps the composite wave function from reducing--like religion, Mr. Fingle, it is a proviso of faith. We can believe in as many as we like. And as long as we don't know which religion the true one is, they are all equally true."
Fingle had never heard such crazy nonsense. Yet, he had at times been frankly puzzled himself why people didn't just content in believing in a single, simple bonhomie goodness.
Chickbrow then went on to elaborate, on the Schroedinger's Cat Thought Experiment, the Many-Worlds Interpretation and speak about the actual documented evidence prepared on Dr. Lovesigh and his life's work, locked in an SIA vault. "It's indisputable, Mr. Fingle. "Looking at his failing body he would never have guessed himself the extent of this profound endowment; a legacy that could create a door, a bridge, that spans across time and space and over a mathematical geometry to reveal what encompasses it. What is past it.
"Furthermore, the second, infinitesimally smaller fringe, implemented by software support, would allow craft and the arks to use the extra-Universe topology--where space- time is open--to reach any point within the known Universe, instantaneously..."
A chance to save them, had been Fingle's buoying thought that day. A chance to save many.
A chance to leave behind all that holds this spirit back...a ticket to eternity, a chance to you, my Alope, had been Lovesigh's last humanly embodied reflection.
Vasilis is from Athens, Greece and can be contacted at: email@example.com
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