A Glimpse of Somewhither

Dear readers, the claustrophobia of time has not allowed me the leisure to write a All Saint’s Day Eve story as is my wont, so instead I proffer for your reading entertainment the opening chapter of SOMEWHITHER, which should have enough elements of the eerie to serve for this day. The novel is unsold, unpublished, part of a trilogy that is unfinished, so this is the only venue where there is any chance to see this work. Here is the first glimpse. Speculations as to what is really going on and who is really insane are welcomed. Enjoy.

 

SOMEWHITHER

CHAPTER ONE:  The Mad Scientist’s Beautiful Daughter

 

1.       My Question

 

“Dad, how many universes are there?”

“Only one, by definition, son. Hence the term universe.”

Spread out on the couch, still in his gear, my Father spoke in a weary monotone, not raising his head. I was surprised to get even a grunt out of him, much less an answer, even if it were a snarky answer.

If time were not so short, I never would have found the guts to ask. I had been holding back this question for years. But it was hard to look away from the second hand sweeping around the clock on the mantelpiece, remorseless as the blade of a guillotine.

I was pleased how calm my voice stayed. My question just sounded like something you’d ask out of idle curiosity, or because you saw it in a book, not a matter of life and death. It could even have been prompted by a casual remark in a text message you just saw on your phone before you slipped it (not moving too quickly) into your bathrobe pocket.

I was not pleased that he did not give me a real answer.

“Fine, Dad! Let’s use a different term, then. Call it a world or a continuum or a parallel timeline: A somewhere where the events we suffer went along a different branch. What is reality then: One or many? Finite or infinite? Tell me what is really real!”

Usually when he comes home from one of his business trips, Dad goes straight to the couch in the den to collapse in blissful fatigue before the fireplace, too tired to climb the stairs to the bedroom, and too tired to talk. So he laid now, head back, elbow over his eyes, one boot on the arm of the couch, and one on the floor.

The black and unmarked helicopter that flies without lights and brings him home makes its landing in the grove my brothers and I (as one of our chores) have to keep clear of shrub and sapling, way up the mountain somewhat above where the ruins of the old monastery stand. Dad takes over an hour to trudge down the twisting paths and switchbacks. So he is not the most energetic of conversationalists right after a trip.

This time something was different, because he grunted again, and spoke, “Every man not content with this world longs for a better.”

He make a sigh that was almost a chuckle, and continued, “But he would be more discontented yet to reflect that happier worlds could welcome no visitations by men as discontent as he. No. We cannot enter inside paradise until paradise is inside us.”

“And worlds worse than ours, Dad? What might they visit upon us?”

Dad lowered his arm and turned his head, so he could catch me with his eye. I could not tell if the squint in his eyes was just fatigue, or if there was something else, accusation or suspicion, there. Or fear. “So. Who have you been talking to? What did they tell you?”

parallel

2.       My Back Yard

 

The idea that my Dad would be or could be afraid of anything on Earth was disorienting to say the least. But I liked the idea that he was suspicious of me even less.

When I was younger, and Mom was still here, she would get my two brothers and me all out of bed before dawn, and we would stand shivering on the back porch with mugs of hot cocoa in hand, waiting for Dad to appear at the wood’s edge beyond the fallow field, now waist-high with tares and circled by the dismembered posts of a skeletal fence, that lay uphill beyond the back yard.

There were both bees’ nests and owls’ nests in those ungainly oaks, and their roots hid an extensive clan of rabbits fat and unwary enough that, with a .22 and help from Lady, we could have coney in the stewpot, except not on Fridays.

Deeper and higher in the wood, a family of foxes, black as midnight, made their den in the roofless remains of the chapel overlooking a cliff. Only the tips of the ears and tails of that fox family were white, as if snowflakes landed only just there. They helped us keep the rabbit population in check, so Dad told us not to disturb them.

Because of this, while we toiled and sweated long summer days to chop the weed and vine away from the rest of the monastery’s frowning and tumbledown walls, or clear leaves and beehives out of the narrow slits of its creepy and squinting cross-shaped windows, we did not have to approach the chapel they haunted, but let the greenery slowly cover the faded frescos of tormented martyrs and floating saints.

So I was thankful to those soot-black foxes with snow-white on the tips of their ears and tails. Not only did they get me out of a chore, they got me my job at the Museum. One of them. And they got me interested in Natural History, because they showed me at a young age that the world will show you its wonders, but only if you seek.

I sometimes wonder what kids who don’t have woods behind their back yards do in the summer. Join street gangs, I guess.

Back in the days before her funeral, when Mom had us awake and awaiting Dad’s homecoming, I recall how the birds would start singing while it was still pitch dark, able to sense a dawn I could never guess was coming. We would leave the windows open and all the lights in the house burning, and we carried flashlights in hand, so that our meeting would be nice and bright. We never knew which part of the wood would release him, since he never approached from the same way twice. He never held a light in his hand, and he moved quite silently, so we never saw him until he was at least halfway across the yard. Mom would gently wipe the camouflage paint from his face while he was sleeping, and undo his boots, dismount the bayonet, lock his rifle in the gun cabinet, lock the relic-bearing crucifix in the reliquary and the flask of holy water in the font, and then shoo us with silent gestures away back upstairs until the alarm clocks would ring the time for Morning Services, and we could officially get up.

I miss her.  Dad took his favorite pictures of her, and had them framed, and hung them in every room and corridor in the house, at the top and the bottom of the stairs, and over every cabinet in the kitchen and the arsenal, to remind us that she was still watching us, even if we could not see her.

This time, my older brother Alexei decided to spend his Spring Break with his College chums, drinking booze and getting in trouble, and my younger brother Dobrin was staying with Aunt Iaga, to keep him out of trouble, so this time it was only me here to greet the prodigal Father at his return, and make sure the fireplace was lit.

I should mention: Alexei is tall and slim and blue-eyed and blond, and Dobrin is taller and slimmer and bluer-eyed and blonder. Me? Back when we went to school like other kids, and they put on THE HOBBIT as a play, Alexei was Elrond the Elf and Dobrin was the Elf-King, and I was the guy who turns into a bear. I got to wear a huge furry mask in the fight scene. I did not really need the mask, even at that age. For Shakespeare, I can get cast as Shylock or Othello; when they did the Disney-musical version of HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME, I landed the role of Quasimodo, and not because my singing voice is that great.

I am tallest of all, but dark and bushy-browed and thick and broad, hook-nosed and thick-lipped, with a big stupid jaw like a Neanderthal and a sloped forehead like a Cro-Magnon, and big square teeth like a horse so I am afraid to smile at girls, because they might faint; either that, or offer me a lump of sugar.

Dad makes us all wear crew cuts, so my ears stick out.  Alexei and Dobrin can carry off the Jarhead ‘do. They look like Aryan Supermen straight off the recruiting poster or something. My hair is ink-black and wiry and sticks up no matter how short-cropped it is, so I look like I could use my skull to scrub away stubborn stains in pots.

I could not make a cup of real cocoa, and the kitchen kind of intimidated me, but I did microwave a cup of hot water and dump a powdered mix into it, the kind with mini-marshmallows. The cup sat ignored on the end table next to the couch, unsipped, and I could see clots of brown powder floating in it.

And I was crouching by the fireplace, prodding the log with the firepoker, trying to get a blaze to come up. I had not gathered firewood, kindling and tinder and all that, since that is a really slow and involved process. I had bought one of those oil-soaked logs wrapped in paper and made out of packed sawdust for a few bucks at the local Mega-mart, the kind you can light with a single match. But I still was poking at it, because it made me feel like I had done something to welcome him home.

In theory, I was supposed to tiptoe upstairs and let him sleep, and not stir from bed until the alarm rang to show that I was officially allowed to be awake.

But I had to ask. There had to be more worlds than this.

mad scientist

3.       Miss Verity Anthrope

 

“I was talking with Verity,” I answered his question. “Now that the Professor is in the nuthouse, she moved into her things into his office at the Haunted Museum, and I was helping clean his desk—Actually, I had to kind of jimmy the lock open to break into it—I hope that is okay because I am not sure if that is breaking open a desk is actually breaking a Commandment—and we found something odd.”

“You should call her Miss Anthrope.”

“What? I am not calling anyone Miss Anthrope. It sounds ridiculous. In any case, I don’t even think that is her family’s real name. It is a stage name the Professor made up. I think his real name is Anthropocalypsowitz or something.  Don’t you want to hear what we found?”

“If she is now your superior, you must speak with respect of her.”

“She is not my superior. Very Te—uh—Verity is just my boss.” ( I caught myself just before saying Very Teat, which is the nickname my pal Foster dubbed her.)

Dad’s eyes narrowed, as if he had read the unspoken word in my mind. “All the more reason to speak of her respectfully, lest you forget yourself with her.”

“Why should I call her by her last name? She is nearly my age!”

“Older than you. Old enough to act as trustee for her father’s estate while he is non compos mentis.”

“And I don’t even think she knows how to drive a car yet!”

“Son, that young lady proved herself; she sailed solo around the world in a yacht when she was sixteen years old, and made world headlines.”

“She made headlines for not sailing around the world, you mean.”

“She gave it the good college try, which shows considerably more application and ambition than any of my sons have displayed. Speaking of which, your applications have not been accepted yet to any college. What are you going to do next year? As of your birthday, I am starting to charge you rent.”

I bit back the comment that Professor Anthrope, with his money, could afford to have his daughter wreck a yacht in the Indian Ocean. If Dad was so impressed with daredevil stunts, then maybe he could buy me a used apple-barrel on the cheap; and I could work on plunging over Niagara Falls.

I said, “Fine! Whatever. So Miss Anthrope and me, we was looking through the Professor’s desk, and we found this—I don’t know, some sort of research paper for something he was trying to get published. He was working on the Enigma of the CERN Collider Disaster Cuneiform.”

“Don’t call them Cuneiform. Sloppy thinking. It is not yet established the cloud chamber markings are in fact a writing system, rather than merely random marks.”

The Super Large Hadron Collider is seventeen miles in circumference, five hundred feet below ground, near Geneva. It was too large to fit in Switzerland, so part of it overlaps into France, or under it. Because it was buried so deep, the quench event was contained: no one on the surface died. The ALICE facility in sector twelve was subjected to an inexplicable escape of radiation when the bending magnets in the section failed.

If there are verbs for the each type of death caused by exposure to various exotic particles, I don’t know what they are: so until then, let’s just say over a dozen scientists, staff, and visitors were electrocuted, microwaved, and Hiroshima’d. If you have not seen the pictures, don’t look at them up, because they are gross. Or just stick a Barbie doll into a toaster. You would not think a thing that operates at a temperature not far above absolute zero could unleash such energy, could you? Well, the guys who died did not either, and they understood the math.

Certain recording instruments — the press insisted on calling them “Black Boxes” even though technically they weren’t — had survived intact, and they showed that some of the mass-energy of particles was unaccounted-for, as if it had vanished from the universe.

Meanwhile, the mass-energy polite enough not to have vanished from the universe had turned into an ultrahighfrequency electromagnetic burst, which, strangely, had left an almost symmetrical pattern of dents in the cloud chamber, arranged in a rectilinear rows and ranks, and looking oddly like the triangular scratches of Sumerian Cuneiform.

A signal? If so, from where?

“The Professor is convinced that they are a writing.” I said stoutly.

“Mm. He says the same thing about Crop Circles.”

“He is a Harvard-trained symbologist!”

“Amazing what they give degrees in these days. But if you cannot measure it, it is not science.”

“Measured or not, he found the key to translate the Disaster Cuneiform…”

Dad grunted. “Was this before or after he started hallucinating?”

“He really did figure it out!” I said hotly.

Dad made a skeptical grunting noise, “Him, and no one else? Not likely.”

I knew what he was thinking. He was thinking of Bletchley Park and project Ultra, Alan Turing and the Enigma Project; of MIT and CalTech; of Think Tanks and linguists and cryptographers and cryptologists and mathematicians. He was thinking of the National Security Agency, who is the biggest employer of mathematicians and purchaser of computer parts in the world. He was thinking of the National Aerospace Administration team who inscribed the Voyager plate, and who had experts on the theory of how to make first contact with alien intelligences.

Everyone who was assuming this was a First Contact, assumed that we should be doing the things in theory you should do if you ever pick up signals from space aliens for the first time: you look for a common ground. If they are from another planet, your only common ground includes the scientific facts of the objective reality surrounding you. What else did we have in common? So you tap about prime numbers in Morse code or something.

These people—or entities—who inscribed the Disaster Cuneiform were not doing that. Why not? It was as if they were not even trying to be understood. But then why send the code at all? Maybe people from another universe did not even have in common any objective reality.

I said, “I tell you he solved it.”

Dad closed his eyes. “How?” And he drawled out the word with a long lingering vowel of disbelief bordering on disgust. Hao-oo- ooo-ow?

“He sought back to the primordial language, older than Indo-European, the common ancestor to all languages. The marks that looked like Cuneiform were not a mathematical cipher, and so all the code crackers could not crack it. The marks actually were Cuneiform — but a version so primal and ancient, older than Sumer and Babylon, that no record survives.  Because he thought it was a message from another branch of history, an Earth whose events never happened, not here. The papers in his desk were about the Many World Theory.”

“It does not make testable statements,” Dad said, lying down his head, and putting his elbow back over his eyes. “So it is the Many World Interpretation, not a theory.”

“How many are there?” I pressed. “Worlds, I mean? How many could there be? More than one?”

Dad spoke slowly. Maybe he was tired. Maybe his mind was on other things. “The Everett and DeWitt interpretation supposes that every possible outcome for every event at a quantum level defines its own world.

“That means if one electron twitches for one second in one carbon atom in the photosphere of a giant star in an unnamed galaxy beyond the Virgo Cluster, it creates a new timespace continuum identical, but for that twitch, to ours.” He uttered a noise half a sigh, half a snort. “How that one electron-second has the energy to reproduce the mass of the Big Bang, not to mention the memory to Xerox the location of every particle, is something Everett and DeWitt did not interpret.

“Now, Ilya, you’ve known that since you were twelve, when we taught you quantum mechanics.” One problem with being homeschooled, is that your parents never stop lecturing you: school is never out. The advantage is that you can get a summer job interning for someone like Professor Anthrope, who seems to know everything about everything.

I said, “The Professor’s theory is that only human moral choices would cause a split into two timelines. He thinks the universe was strictly monolinear until the human race evolved.”

“Hmph,” My Dad’s grunt showed that he was less than overwhelmed. “The point of the Many World Interpretation was to cleave to classical cause-and-effect while saving the appearance of quantum-mechanical events, which are random. It has nothing particular to do with choices mortals make, moral or no.”

“The Professor says that the inanimate universe, and the behavior of plants, animals, and most the things humans do, are all rigidly determined like clockwork.”

“Well, he’s about a century behind the times. Not even Einstein could save classical causation. It seems God does roll dice after all.” This was all muttered absentmindedly. Dad sounded bored.

I pressed on. “He says most human actions are determined, most, but not all. Things that seem like random choices, like deciding whether or not to have a bean burrito for lunch, are just the brain mechanisms acting out their pre-programmed conditioning. Only when we are making a choice that involves a moral question — like whether or not to break a promise — do we actually interact with something outside of normal causation and above normal psychological mechanisms, an eternal principle only the conscience can perceive; and that is what splits the universe in two.”

Dad just sighed. After a pause, he said, “Do you know how long it took me to make up my mind to ask your dear, sainted mother to marry me, Ilya? If this idea were true, that was all time wasted. I both asked her and never found the nerve, both raised my sons to be fine young men and never held them in my arms or heart or even met them. And I both had this talk with you and never did, because you are both alive and never were born.

“That choice and every other moral decision would be pointless, because no matter how carefully you use your judgment, in the other branch of time, you always act stupidly. Even to the weakest temptation, in the other branch, you always give in. Every time you walk the straight and narrow path to Heaven, the other branch leads you by ever darker, ever muddier, and ever hotter paths to Hell—a place that must be pretty crowded, since all the saints and patriarchs, martyrs and sages history ever knew both did their wise and heroics acts and also did the opposite, and in one branch were saved, and in the ten thousand times ten thousand other branches were damned.

“No, this is just one of those many ideas that is as pretty as the patterns as a poisonous snake, and you stare fascinated by the sinuous Celtic knotwork of its bright coils and gazing in its unwinking cold eyes, and never notice that all it is really telling you is that life is a lie. Don’t heed. Only liars say life is a lie.”

Dad took down his arm and sat up. He had not undressed, so that his Kevlar jacket still covered him mostly; but he had unzipped it, so a flap hung open, and the white collar of the deacon’s uniform he wore beneath was visible above his ammo bandolier. Around his neck, on a chain of rosary beads the Archbishop himself had blessed, he wore a ivory crucifix that contained, in a tiny glass vacuole, the finger bone of Saint Demetrius of Sermium, coated in the oil it spontaneously exuded; next to it, in a sheath, was his black-bladed stiletto with the wide hilts, a dark cross next to a pale.

“No, my son, if you must believe that there are many worlds, believe I pray you, that if you do evil in this world, you have not the power to create some new world where that choice was made aright. Only the Creator can create new worlds. Only miracles change history; nothing inside nature has the power to undo the natural consequences of an evil men do. ”

Then he looked at me sharply and said, “What order are you thinking of disobeying? What promise break?”

The fire was hot, and I was bent over it, so that I did not notice the warmth of the blush of anger spreading through my face until I heard how harsh my answer was: “Is life all a lie? Well, you would know, wouldn’t you, Dad? If you are my Dad!”

I gave fake log one last strong blow from the fire poker, sending up a cheery spray of sparks, and stood, and turned. I pointed the poker at him accusingly. “How many worlds are there? You know, don’t you?”

mermaid

4.       Rare Books

 

The same day Professor Anthrope was dragged away in a straitjacket, raving, I discovered what he had been working on.

You see, I did not want to go home, not and face the looks on the faces of Dobrin and Father. Looks of total not-surprise, looks that said I told you so louder than words. And I could not stay at the Museum; they had a cordon around it.

What angle had the Professor been working on?  What had he seen that the rest of the world had not?

So I went to the library. I looked up his work, read his papers and articles.

Hours went by, but it was not hard work, like weeding ruins, just brain work, and if bow-hunting teaches anything, it teaches patience.

I struck gold when I found a recent issue of SIGN AND SEMIOTICS journal, which published peer-reviewed papers on comparative symbology. Tucked in between an article on Merovingian Grail-Kings and an article on the links between Egyptian esoteric practices and the Cathars of Andalusia, was a paper by my own Professor Adramelech Anthrope. It was an article on semantic drift between Akkadian Cuneiform and a hypothetical proto-Sumerian logogram system, deduced from an application of Grimm’s Law. The article had extensive footnotes, as you’d expect, and some of the references were to books right here in this very library—where, come to think of it, the Professor last year had been sitting to do most of his research.

I had to get the librarian to unlock the case in the rare books room tucked into a corner of the top floor.

“You have to sign in,” she said sharply, pointing with her beaklike nose toward the visitor’s log.

There was one book in particular from the Professor’s footnotes I sought. If found it tucked between surviving volume, number XI, of the lost First Encyclopædia of Tlön compiled by the Orbis Tertius Society, and first edition of a book on Mesmerism:  Its Proper Study and Practice; or The Secrets of the Ancients Unlocked by Hans Schimmerkopf of the Homeopathic Institute of Vienna. Here was a rare unabridged edition of A Study of the Chaldaean Roots in the Ancient Cornish Language (with observations on the early tin trade in West Cornwall) by an author named Holmes. I looked up the chapter to which the Professor had referred in his paper.

The librarian had to sit in the rare books room with me, since I was underage, or maybe she just did not trust my looks. She watched me with cold and scowling eye while I read, no doubt fretting that, had she not been there, I would have blown my nose on the antique pages. I had to wear little plastic gloves while handling the book. I don’t know if everyone who steps into the rare books room has to wear them, or only teenagers with oily skin.

There was a discussion of the “Urheimat” or hypothetical original home of whatever tribe fathered the first Indo-European language.

For over a century, scholars had speculated about the location of Urheimat. This volume claimed to know the secret: one of the most fertile lands of the Fertile Crescent, between Ethiopia and Felix Arabia, between the Kebassa plateau and the Red Sea, where the modern city of Asmara rises in Eritrea. This is the spot were legend says the Queen of Sheba gave birth to the son of Solomon, Menelich, and this rich land history says the ambition of Caesar during his Egyptian campaigns attempted to annex but failed. Before Caesar, before Solomon, before even the long-vanished Sabaeans dwelt here, long before, the nameless and primordial tribe of man walked upright and invented fire.

That original band of fire-using early man was less than two thousand breeding individuals. Recent studies in genetics traced all human lineages back to ten sons of a genetic patriarch and eighteen daughters of a genetic matriarch. The tree of man is rooted in a single mother, the mitochondrial matriarch, because all other branches fell extinct. The first three lineages that arose from the genetic patriarch spread through Africa. Most paleogeneticsts rather fancifully referred to the ancestral genetic markers as Shem, Ham and Japheth. This author, more stolidly, designated them Son I, Son II and Son III.

Son III’s lineage was the one with whom this author was mainly concerned, the line from which races as distinct as Chaldaeans and Cornishmen arose. Perhaps clutching logs, this clan braved the waters of the Red Sea, those straights the Arabs call The Gate of Grief: twenty miles from isle to isle to the coasts of what is now Yemen. From there, Son III and his bloodline migrated to Asia to begat Sons designated IV through X: this great Diaspora of his bloodline reached from the Sea of Japan (Son IV), to Northern India (Son V) to the South Caspian (Sons VI and IX).

I bent my head over the page. The author speculated about the origins of dialects, and how they grow to form independent languages, and why they change over time. His basic question: since there is such a strong evolutionary incentive for individuals and groups to communicate with each other, either to form alliances in war or partners in peace, what possible reason was there for linguistic drift?

He saw how you would get special words for birds and beasts in one area not found in another, or why seashore people would have names for tools and nautical terms that mountain-dwelling tribes would lack: but aside from these special cases, who ever stops using a word his neighbors and ancestors used, and deliberately starts using a word no one understands?

The trait of misunderstanding had no evolutionary value, no good reason to exist.

He did not think it was nurture that caused languages to divide away from each other. He thought it was nature: a genetic disease. This author had written out the transmission vectors of the disease. As best he could from genetic and cultural clues, he tried to identify where it had started, how it had spread.

The Y chromosome lineages are positively associated with the major language groups of the world. In the absence of the genetic drift or defect, there is no correlative grammatical drift…

… the indication is of some primordial catastrophe, of which no record survives, or garbled perhaps as myth, disorganized both the genetic and intellectual structure of early man, causing a rapid degeneration from the robust features and larger brain of the Neanderthal, and other transitional forms…

The back flap of the book was a folding chart, like a map, of the linguistic tree, showing the descent of all the dead languages in the world.

It was yellow with age, and brittle, and I unfolded it very carefully, while the librarian stared at me, looking like she wanted to hiss. I did not rip it.

The sheet, unfolded, covered most of the table, and was covered with hundreds of spidery parallel lines, like a family tree, or like a nervous system would look, if you just picked it up out of someone’s body by the brain, and let the nerves dangle.

At the lowest root of the tree was a strange word: Ursprache.

This was the name assigned for the hypothetical common ancestral tongue of the Cauco-Sinitic, Euro-Asiatic, and Austric language groups, the languages of Son I, Son II and Son III.

If it had been spoken at all, it was spoken thirty-five thousand to sixty million years ago. The diagram showed the first major division in to three language families appearing in the Tigris-Euphrates valley: that was the day the pan-human Ursprache language died. An explosion of languages followed. According to this chart, it had occurred as suddenly, on the geological scale, as the extinction of the dinosaurs and the explosion of mammalian varieties of life. But what was the disaster?

Something fluttered to the floor like a dry leaf. It was a folded scrap of paper. I dropped my pencil, bent over, and palmed the scrap of paper before the librarian saw me.

I did not dare look at it until I was outside, and, just in case the librarian was peering at me through a slatted window, around the corner. I don’t know what the penalty was for stealing material from the library, but even if the cops were not involved, the librarian knew my family, as well as knowing my boss, since both Dad and the Professor were pretty frequent visitors.

The little scrap was in Professor Anthrope’s handwriting.

Wild Eyes is right! The Cuneiform is Ursprache!! He wrote An application of the Law of Semantic Drift, following an analogous genetic drift, to the earliest possible hypothetical ur-words of the CS, EA, A linguistic groups reveals common signs. Parallel worlds use the common language found on all versions of Earth as its Lingua Franca: the one semiotic form older than all others, the central stem predating the earliest division of offshoots.

On the other side of the scrap were two questions.

What else do we have in common?

How many universes are there?

At that time, that day when the Professor was first committed, I had not had the courage to ask my Dad that question.

tree

5.       Unspoken Words

 

I was glad I was talking to him when he was half-dead with fatigue, because he could not gather his wits enough to wear the poker-face he always wears when the topic strays too closely to those things we never talk about.

Well, I was talking about them now.

Maybe I was as confused as if I were somehow tangled in those ‘branches of time’ Dad had just mentioned. In one branch, everything was fine and I let him nap on the couch and went upstairs, all according to the standard welcome-home procedure the family had followed for years. In another branch, nothing was fine, and I had swiped the family car and was tearing at top speed down the road before Father put his boot on the back porch stair, and he was staring up at a silent house, alone and puzzled. In neither of the two could I talk to him.

Maybe I was one of those discontented people Dad spoke of. This one world was not enough for me.

To be sure, the globe of the earth and the reach of the skies, from amoeba to the great nebula in Andromeda, all the cosmos is fearsomely and wonderfully made. You have to be dead inside not to be awed, or stupid to pretend to be so cool as not to be. You cannot just be a scientist to learn it all, not just an explorer to see it, not just a poet to praise it, not just a priest to bless it. You also have to be a hero to protect it.

But there are also clues in the Earth, hidden things, overlooked, half-whispered things; clues that there is something more. Our world is mostly civilized these days, mostly tamed: but I knew there was wildness and weirdness out there. Where? Hither or thither or somewhere or somewhither: In elfland or outerspace or beyond the walls of the world.

And it was as if I could smell the wild hint of that somewhither clinging to my father like woodsmoke, like the musk of bloodshed.

Whenever I caught the scent, my happy life turned into a beartrap I would have gnawed off my leg to escape. Some universe larger than this one was meant for me.

And then there was the girl. (Maybe she was meant for me, too? But that was a thought I dared not to think or else my brain might explode.) So I had to know if her peril was real. Not everything madmen say can be trusted.

Like I said, I did not know which branch I was supposed to be in. In neither one, should I have been talking to him. I was caught in a fork, and I did not know who to trust or what was real.

So I had to ask. I had to demand. I had to know.

My words gushed out in an angry rush.

“How many worlds are there? And where do you go on your business trips? What business requires you be armed to the teeth? And don’t say it is dangerous missionary work—”

He said, “It is. Missionaries sometimes have to enter other reali — I mean, enter other realms and countries that are a little, ah, wild, and with my background in the service — it’s not illegal, but it is not something the Council of Bishops wants any public, ah, outcry —”

“— Where do you go? Name the spot on the globe. Give me the longitude and latitude, can’t you? You can’t. And you can’t tell me who am I really, can you, Father? Can’t or won’t! Why don’t I look like you or like my brothers? And tell me where Mom is!

“You mother cannot be with us.” His words were sad and slow. “She is no longer …”

“In this life? In this world?” My words were hot and quick. “So you’ve always said. Until today, I thought you meant she was dead and gone to Heaven. But you want to lie to me without actually lying. What world is she in? Is it one the Professor’s machine can reach?”

But I had said too much. The moment of weakness, of truth, had passed. Dad was stony-faced again, as he always is when we talk sniffs near the forbidden things, and he had regained his self-possession. Mentioning the machine snapped him out of it.

He rose to his feet and looked up at me. Ever since I turned fifteen, I have been taller than him, taller than my older brother. And yet, somehow, he managed to loom.

He said, “What machine? What does it look like?”

I wanted to argue. I could not.

I took my phone out of my pocket, snapped it open with my thumb, and brought up the text message, and handed it to him.

Dad had his face bent over the tiny phone screen. Dad said, “Why did he call you Marmoset?”

“It auto-corrects Muromets.” Muromets is our last name. “Professor Anthrope, uh, sometimes has trouble working the spelling-check.”

“You would think he would learn that in symbology school. How to spell words, I mean. They are symbols.”

Sunset on Babylon

6.       The Hither Shores of Uncreation

 

Marmoset

My daughter is in danger and needs your help.

I have escaped the asylum: those fools cannot begin to understand my power. And yet I cannot save her. Only you.

You recall our last talk, when we spoke of Many Worlds? It is all true.

 A working model of a Moebius Field Coil, just as described in the Disaster Cuneiform, is even now in the basement of the Haunted Museum. The Cuneiform instructions on how to build and power it were precise. But the power is still running. I was not able to shut it off before they took me!

Verity is on her way to the Museum now. She left from Tillamook about two minutes ago. You must get there first. She is a foolish and headstrong girl, and does not realize her peril.

The Moebius Coil can be used as a casement, to see what lurks on the hither shores of the Deep of Uncreation, beyond the Unborn Ocean.

I have seen the shadows that thirst for human blood, and heard the hunting cries of the Arch-Beasts that are above man in evolutionary scale. There are Giants in the Other Earths whom this Earth drowned, and fallen gods are their fathers. Deadlier far the Architects of the Tower of Utter Night, that hideous strength, for they are restrained from nothing they have imagined to do.

Woe to the inhibiters of Earth when the Dark Tower opens the dreadful gate! For the casement is also a portcullis!

I know why you are not like your brothers. Trust in me, only me, and fear nothing. The exodimensional radiation will do you no hurt. Only you. Bring no one else, lest he die. Do not be afraid of the fog. 

Go into the basement. Break open the door if you have to. The Moebius Coil Solenoid is upright on the breadboard stand. It is a hoop of twisted gold over a foot wide, woven with naked copper wire. You cannot mistake it. You must shut the power OFF.

Box the Coil and the three Penrose Triangle antennae, and bring all to me. Make special note of which cables and plugs are fixed where, and bring them and the cable adapters, the rheostat and the dry cells.

I am in the same place.

Remember what you swore! I trust you. Tell no one. They will lock me up again. I am not insane! Believe in me!

Especially do not tell your Father!

He is the Ostiary of the Templars.

Templar610

7.       The Door into Twilight

 

Now Dad looked at me with eyes that bored like twin lasers, and no trace of tiredness was in his face. “Is this the promise you mean to break? What did you swear?”

“To help him. To help his daughter.”

I did not mention that the Professor, during that last afternoon before his hearing, in that hot and airless motel room where he was holed up, had taken the Gideon’s Bible out of the drawer and made me put my hand on it, just like I was in a court of law or something. It was not the kind of oath a boy makes, cutting his thumb and his friend’s with a pocket knife and vowing to be best friends forever. It was the kind of oath a man takes. Or a Knight.

“What else?”

“Not to — not to tell anyone.”

“Anyone? Or not to tell me?”

“Not to tell you.” I mumbled.

“Why did you swear such a foolish oath? And once you bound yourself by it, why in the world did you break it?”

“Dad! Are you asking me to hide things from you? Hide the truth?”

His voice was oddly gentle. “Ilyusha, It would break my heart if I found you lied to me, and that includes the lies of omission. But your word is your word! Breaking your word is worse than breaking my heart, boy. My heart can get better. What you do now defines the kind of man you will one day be. One day very soon. Today.”

I shook my head, looking at my feet, and could not answer. I did not want to admit to him that if I kept any secrets from him, I would lose the right to be angry at the fact that he kept secrets from me. Anger made me feel strong, like I was wronged, so I had the moral high ground.

Admit to him? I did not want to admit it to myself, either: the idea was stupid. Another man’s vice cannot cloak you in virtue. Victimhood can make you self-righteous, but cannot make you right.

There is a way you can make your emotions revved up with murk, so that your brain kind of slows down, and you don’t have to listen to any thoughts in your head. Every kid my age knows the trick. Some grownups never lose the trick.

So I made my thinking murky, and lo and behold, I could not think of anything to say, ergo I did not have to say anything.

Dad spoke. “When he says I am in the same place; what place is that?”

“The Motel Eight on Straight Street. He was in Room 222 before. The likes the number for some reason.” Now I raised my eyes and raised my voice. “Dad! He trusts me! I swore! We cannot turn him into the police.”

“No one is turning anyone in. When did this message come?”

“While I was making the instant cocoa. Ten minutes ago. Less.”

He jumped to feet. He took me by the shoulder and began marching us both rapidly from den to back hallway toward the garage. He demanded, “Why didn’t you leave the moment you got the message?”

Why? That was a good question.

There was a confused tangle of reasons inside me. One thread of reasoning said that if my Father knew there was only one world, the one reality all sane people live inside, then the insane Professor was not only insane, but wrong. If there was no extra-dimensional worlds, then there was no Moebius Coil, and no danger, and no damsel in distress to save, and no need to leave.

Another thread said if there were many worlds, and my Dad knew that and never told me, then I could trust the Professor (who did tell me the truth) rather than Dad (who hadn’t) and then, with a clear conscience, I could leave without asking, knowing whose voice to follow.

Another thread, this one even more tangled, said that if there were other worlds, and Mom was in one, and alive and watching over us, she would not want me to leave the house without welcoming Dad home, even if the cocoa was only instant.

So everything in the snarl was somehow caught up in the one question of whether this was the only world there was, and therefore I could not leave without asking it.

Why had I not left? No way I could tell him. It would have sounded stupid. Stupider. Instead I said: “Gosh, Dad. I cannot drive the car! Was I supposed to jog?”

“Don’t get smart with me. You’re allowed to drive the Jeep.”

“During daylight, with an adult. Sun’s not up yet. And you told me not to—”

“Son, different rules apply during the End of the World.”

I did not know what to say to that.

The car keys hang on a little plaque of pegs, neatly labeled, beneath a picture of Mom. I mentioned there are pictures of her all over the house. She is in her wedding dress and behind the wheel of the world’s ugliest jalopy, made beautiful with well-wishes painted on the windshield and boots and tin cans tied to the tailpipe, and a snowfall of flung rice. She is standing on the seat, her long veiling frozen in mid-float of a long-ago gust of wind, and flings the bouquet toward some blurred figures out of focus at the edge of the frame. Dad in his Midshipman’s uniform, sword and all, is in the passenger’s seat, scowling at whoever was wielding the camera. Someone wrote DRIVE CAREFULLY in red in one corner.

mobius3pi0

8.       Dancing Maiden

Dad picked up the key to his gashog sedan, and pushed the little button that starts its engine. I heard the quiet roar of its big V-10 engine before he opened the sidedoor into the garage. The engine was built into the frame of a Chrysler Crown Imperial. Huge car, a real beauty.

The car he started was for him. For me, he flicked the keys of the Jeep off the pegboard and tossed them my way.

“It’s early yet,” he said. “Turn on the antiradar gear, the police band scanner, and run any red lights. If the police see you, crack the nitro tank and outrun them. Or just run on nitro the whole way. Here, take my night-vision goggles, and drive without your headlights on.”

I have always wondered what a person looks like when they completely lose their minds. They look normal.

My Dad looked entirely normal, just like he did was he was serious. It is the sane people who look crazy when the weirdness starts. I cannot imagine what my face looked like. Watch yourself carefully in a mirror while having a good friend slam you over the head with a two-by-four, maybe you can tell me what it looks like.

I stammered out, “D-Dad?! You want me to lose my license before I even get a license?”

“Saving lives is more important. And keeping your word is more important. Get to the Museum just like he said, and shut down the equipment just like he said. If you see Miss Anthrope, warn her out of the area. Or anyone else. If the Coil is active long enough to condense a dark fog, there is radiation her cell structure will not be able to withstand.”

Radiation? And what about me?” He was not answering. So I said, slightly louder, “Well, Father? What about my cell structure?”

“You will — uh — be okay.”

“How interesting! You know, Dad, when I was younger you let me ride without a helmet. Skydive, too. But not my brothers. Why is that? Didn’t care if I broke my head?”

“Because I knew you would be — uh — be okay.” He looked embarrassed. “We don’t have time to talk.”

“Don’t we? Because I ain’t moving a darned inch unless you give me some answers, Dad! What happens if I don’t move?”

“You’ve read the Revelation of Saint John?”

“Yes. But what does that have to do with — uh? What?”

“Ilya, this is serious. I’ll keep talking if you keep walking. Into the garage.”

“I am my sweatpants and bathrobe!”

“Take my jacket.”

The jacket was heavy and black and a little small on me. My wrists struck out. I think it was Kevlar. It was darned heavy. I am a little broader in the shoulder than my Dad, so I could not zip it all the way up. I clipped the collar shut, though it kind of choked me.

Great. I was wearing a bulletproof coat that did not cover my centerline ribcage, where I keep things like my heart and lungs. Maybe he just wanted me not to be cold.

He said, “Grab that flashlight there.” (This was a six-cell black Maglite as long and heavy as a billyclub.) “And—this. Here! There may be trouble.”

He unlocked the garage weapon cabinet. We don’t keep the firearms there, just blades. He handed me the katana Grampa Mikhail had brought back from Japan after World War Two.

The Japanese government in during the last days of the war produced a lot of quickly and cheaply made samurai-looking swords called shingunto to give to officers, because the military government was trying to enflame the populous with the romance of bushido, and the devotion to the Imperial Family.

This was not one of those.

Forged in 1913, a twenty-five inch blade, the tang was signed by Sadakazu, the Imperial Court Artist under the Meiji. The temperline pattern was ko-notare, or ‘billowing wave’, characteristic of the Soshu school. The hilt was ray skin wrapped in white silk, the tassels were red and gold; a sixteen-petal Imperial chrysanthemum was engraved on the tang of the blade; the fittings, guard and pommel were decorated with a cherry blossom motif, a symbol of the beauty and brevity of life. It was called Shirabyoshi — the White Dancing Maiden. It was named for the dancing girls, garbed as men and bearing white-sheathed swords, that performed for the Heian emperors before their downfall.

He held it toward me in both hands. “Bow and take the blade.”

This blade was probably worth more than the tuition would be for whatever college had not accepted me yet. I bowed and took it. It felt oddly heavy in my hands, even though, in theory, it was lighter than the hardwood practice sword I had been using since I was seven years old.

“Let it dangle from the baldric when you have to sit, but clip it to the jacket belt when you have to run, otherwise it will bark your legs. Treat it just like a gun. That means you do not draw unless you mean to kill someone. Remember to store the blade face up, and not to let the edge touch the saya when sheathing and drawing. Push the tsuba away from the throat of the scabbard with your thumb. And keep your gear clean.”

He tucked the sword cleaning kit into my pocket. This was a flat wooden case containing sword oil, cotton cloth, polishing powder and a powder ball to apply it, and rice paper for both fine cleaning and polishing. I felt a chill. How long was Dad expecting me to be gone?

katana

“Dad—you can’t—uh—Grandfather’s sword—it is too important! Let me use your Springfield—”

He said, “If you see someone who looks like he is wearing a costume for a Science Fiction convention, don’t try to shoot him. A really convincing costume.”

“Father? Of course I would not shoot a…”

“Better to slay him with the edge of the sword.”

“Uh?”

“Remember your footwork and maintain your distance. You are trying to stroke, not chop, because you want to bite deep and open a major vein, not make a shallow slice. Let his bloodloss work for you. Head, abdomen, hand: Decapitate, disembowel, dismember.”

“But not shoot him? If … he is in a costume.”

“If the area around the Museum is still crisp and clear-looking, not foggy, it is normal reality, and you will have time to go get your squirrel gun from the shed there. Only use the gun on human looking people. Got it?”

It struck me for the first time that not every kid’s father trains him deadly weapons modern and ancient, and expects such training to be used. For that matter, not every kid’s father orders him to kill science fiction fans, which struck me as a bit harsh.

And, anyway, science fiction fans look human. Some of them.

“Slash the kooks. Shoot the mundanes. Got it. Tell me why? Or, rather, why the hell?” I said.

“Watch your mouth. Gunpowder does not ignite in the Twilight region.”

“No gunpowder in the Twilight Zone. Wonderful.”

He nodded.

I kept my voice steady. “Dad. Seriously. Who are you?

“Me? I am going to the motel to stop Adramelech Anthrope before he wraps himself in the Twilight again. It is a side effect of the Uncreation, and a dangerous one. A practitioner can use it to excuse himself from certain laws of nature in a limited way. I assume that how he walked out of the asylum, and why he left his machine running. Otherwise I’d go with you.”

Chyort! I didn’t ask you where are you going. I figured if you weren’t calling the cops and weren’t coming with me, you’d go to him. I asked you who are you?”

“I am the Father that loves you and raised you. And a good Father will kick your tailbone up your spine and out your foul mouth, if you use inappropriate language, Ilyusha.”

“Okay, Mister Loving Father. How about a little straight truth? I am still not moving until you tell me—”

“Three questions. That’s all. Then you move. First question!”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“Some things are men’s business only. You’re too young for the burden. I was going to tell you everything on your birthday, the day I start charging you rent. Wasted question. Ask better.”

I wanted to ask if the reason why Alexei seemed to go a little crazy when he came back from his year overseas was because of something he was told on his eighteenth birthday. But not if I had only two questions left.

“Where is Mom?”

He drew a deep breath and looked at his watch, which is a big instrument strapped to the underside of his wrist, waterproof, shockproof, probably a-bombproof, and shows military time on a big 24 hour dial.

“The enemy calls it Ylamdar, the Land of the Sons of Elam. The traditional name is Antregulus. The VPC number is Noachian-37. Brandan the Navigator dubbed it ‘Against the King Star‘ because the Matthew found there records no miracle of the Bethlehem Star. It ceased to parallel our world in the Seventh Century AD, as the Mohammedans never conquered Persia; and the Zoroastrian religion, not Islam, became the great rival of Christendom during the Crusades and the long decline of the Byzantine Empire. The Shahanshah of Ctesiphon rules from the North Sea to the Black to the Red to the Yellow. The Holy Roman Empire consists of France and Northern Italy. Ethiopia is Nestorian under Prestor John. Libya and Spain are Muslim. By clairvoyance, the Persian mages beheld from afar the New World, from the Aleutian islands to the Caribbean to Tierra del Fuego, and saw it consumed in wars between fragments of cannibalistic empires, whose dark pyramids never cease to smoke with human sacrifice, nor cease their stained steps to run red: and so the mages forbade any ship of the Zoroastrians ever to seek those shores. Japan and Iceland have established tentative colonies and endless feuds. There are Shinto shrines and Buddhist pagodas in California, and dark groves of thorn or oak or ash where slaves are sacrificed to Odin in Greenland and Quebec.”

Nothing had ever smote my imagination so fiercely. Through the open garage door, it was almost as though I could see the shadowy slopes of my boring Oregon hills alive with Samurai in their metal scowling facemasks and brightly silk-woven armor, Norse berserkers in their terrible horned helms gold-shining, Aztec jaguar-knights gorgeous in feathers and outrageous facepaints, all convulsing field and wood with flames of glorious war.  I vowed to see that land before I died.

But the thought of my mother in such a world burned in the back of my throat. “That’s—terrible! How could you let her—?”

He interrupted the question. “That’s the history she’s in, and the Zoroastrians have technology over there our world never discovered or developed, including clairvoyance that reaches between worlds. If she is alive, I think she can still see us. We cannot reach her. We will never have a way to reach her. The Dark Tower stands in the way, and all the portcullises are destroyed. That is why I held a memorial service. Last question! Make it snappy.”

“Who are you? What are you?”

“Get in the Jeep. Start the engine. You know who are the Sovereign Military Order of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon?”

“Sure. The Knights Templar. They were wiped out in the Dark Ages.”

“Gah! Only someone who learned his history from watching reruns of the Time Tunnel would call the Twelfth Century the Dark Ages.”

“They were tortured and killed by some French Dude who wanted their money.”

“Philip the Fair wanted more than that. He knew Templars had possession of the Ark of the Covenant.”

“Wait. You mean the magical gold box that melts Nazis faces?”

“I mean the sacred vessel for carrying the tablets of Moses, the living rod of Aaron, and a jar of the bread of heaven. It also has power over the twilight, and over the eternal night of Uncreation. We used it to find and open the door of aeons. Only the Visible Fellowship of the Templars was martyred. The Invisible Fellowship continued. The Curia and the Holy Father protected us.”

“We? Us?”

“I am an Ostiary and Warden in the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ of the commandry assigned to the protection of pilgrims and wayfarers in the Ultramundane Realms, the Outreterre.”

He held up the oversized and ornate High School class ring he still wears on his right hand, and he fiddled with the collet like he always does when he is nervous or thinking. This time it was not just a nervous tick: he was turning the collet of the ring the way you would turn the dial of a safe.

With a click, the face changed shape. I don’t mean the ring had a secret compartment, I mean the class ring morphed like a special effect on TV: the face changed shape and color and grew larger.

Now it was no longer a class ring but a signet ring. The seal was white and gold, and engraved with two crusaders with shield on one horse and around them the legend written in raised letters: Sigillum Militum Χρisti.

He held it toward me so that I could see it.

“As in ancient days, our mission is to protect pilgrims and fight the enemies of Christendom, and watch and guard the doors into the Outreterre. I am one of those who can withstand the Twilight surrounding Uncreation. I am an Ostiary, a door-warden. Not far from here is the door I watch.”

He passed his fingers over it, and I heard it click, and then it was a class ring again.

The idea that there was a supernatural and inter-dimensional portal hidden in Tillamook, Oregon, made me snort, trying to smother a laugh. If I started laughing, I would probably never stop. I forced my wobbling brain to follow what Dad was saying.

“You know about the prehistoric ossuary beneath the Monastery.”

I did. My brothers and I, many a midnight when we were younger, tried to keep each other sleepless and terrified with speculations and ghost stories about it, or by pretending we heard scratching noises approaching the house. There were ancient chambers, walled and roofed with kiln-burnt brick, too small for a child to stand erect in, connected by narrow crawlspaces only a child could navigate, filled with clay pots filled with bones.

I knew there had been tribes of a darker, smaller people inhabiting North and South America long before the ancestors of the American Indians migrated across the Bering Strait and displaced and wiped them out. Northwest Indians hunted game and gathered nuts in woodlands that grew and swallowed where earlier peoples farmed and pastured.

Before they vanished, these lost people erected monoliths and standing stones that measured the stars and seasons of their planting, and buried their priestesses and holy slaves alive in chambers beneath.

Spanish explorers had discovered the bloodstained stones and skeletons beneath. A Mission, walled like a fortress, was erected on the spot, to remove the curse on the land. The monoliths were pulled down by mule teams and hammered to bits. No adult could crawl into crooked opening down into the dark well of bones, so they sent a drummer boy whose name is not recorded, and, later, according to the Mission chronicles, young novices. (Those boys had been the stars of the horror stories my brothers and I concocted to give each other nightmares.)

In later years, an order of monks built a Monastery on the Mission grounds, and steadfastly prevented any antiquarians or archeologists who otherwise might have learned of the find and been curious from digging up the site. That Monastery was abandoned not long after the Oregon territory gained Statehood, and became an antique itself. But the Church still owned the acreage over most of the mountain. It was land too steep for logging, so there was no incentive for the State to claim it by eminent domain and run us off. It was officially part of the Archdiocese of Portland and my Dad was allegedly the Deacon in assigned to maintain the grounds, and people were kept away.

I said, “I am assuming the Monastery was abandoned for the same reason it was built here. Whatever scared the prehistoric people into putting up their monoliths scare the abbot, right?”

He smiled, pleased. “Correct. The Curia ordered the Monastics away once the real nature of the danger was known, a man who was allegedly a Deacon of the Order of The Most Holy Savior, was placed here as watchman.”

The Order was also known as the Brigitines. Founded in 1370, they were wiped out in Europe during the Reformation. The only ones left in the whole world were here in Oregon, in Amity, where they baked fudge between prayers. It was tasty. As a member, Dad got a free supply on feast days and name days.

Only he was telling me he was not a member. I said slowly, “The Brigitine monks are a front group for the Templars?” The fudge-cooks? The idea was laughable, but I was not laughing.

Dad nodded.

I said, “Then you are telling me Deacon Derfel…?”

“He was actually an Ostiary of the Templars, a Knight: Sir Derfel Gadarn. And Deacon Eustace after him was also Sir Eustachius.”

Deacon Derfel was the man who lived here before us, and built our house, or, rather, build the main part, what is now the den and kitchen. Deacon Eustace was the man who kept the house before us, and installed modern wiring and plumbing. We had to tear out and re-do the entire septic tank because he installed it wrong, and it was leaking into the foundations.

Dad glanced behind him. Through the small windows in the back wall of the garage the leafy silhouette of the treetops and the rugged silhouette of the cliffs could almost be seen against the stars and clouds.

“The way between worlds opens in places where the walls are thin when the stars are right. The ancient peoples erected their stones to mark the spot and measure the times. We have also made measurements, using modern tools, and believe that the twilight door on this mountain here should remain quiescent for another two centuries. But there are forbidden methods, like your Professor’s machine, that can force a door open where and when there shouldn’t be one.

“And now,” His eyes rested on mine. His tone of voice was no different than when he ordered to me do yard work or clean the bathroom or something. Just his normal, even voice. “Now, as of today, you are an Ostiary. You are going to help me in my duty. There are things on the far side of the door that must be kept out of our reality. If your girlfriend opens the door into twilight, the Dark Tower will know.”

I started to open my mouth, but he cut me off.

“Now bow your head for my blessing, and say these words.”

He put his both hands on my head.

The Jeep was rumbling and muttering, warm under the seat of my sweatpants, and the smell of gasoline mingled with the smell of the pre-dawn night coming from the garage door, which, groaning, had pulled itself upward and out of my way.  Our front yard is a sharp slope impossible to mow with the riding mower, and the driveway dives down so sharply that riding bicycle or sled down its length was like being dropped from a bomb bay. Every light in the house was lit, and windows splashed slanted rectangles across the lawn. Beyond, darkness.

Something in how steeply the driveway just dove into that darkness seemed to stare at me as I spoke my Father’s words:

At any moment I may find myself in battle. However rigorous the task that awaits me, may I fulfill my duty with courage. If death should overtake me on this field, grant that I die in the state of grace, forgive me all my sins, those I have forgotten and those I recall now: grant me the grace of perfect contrition.

I wanted to ask him if I was going to die, and never see him again. But I had used up my three questions.

For those were the words of the Soldier’s Prayer, said only on the eve of engagement. There was something those words that made it hard for me to breathe. Fear? Awe? I don’t know. What am I, a psychologist?

So I was speeding down a deserted road that rose and fell across the hilly slopes like a rollercoaster, in a weird world of green shadows, the night-vision goggles keeping the wind out of my eyes, hair blowing, and was already a mile away from the house before I could catch my breath again….

54 Comments

  1. Comment by Pierce O.:

    That was a fun read! Thanks for the glimpse into the multiverse; tis’ better than hoarded chocolate! (well, maybe… :D )
    Hmmmm, I suspect there may be an agent from a parallel timeline on Earth, whom the Collider Cuneiform was intended for. Maybe Prof. Anthrope is the agent, but due to some clever plan inflicted amnesia on himself when he came to our timeline that was only lifted by the cuneiform. Or maybe the Cuneiform is meant to act like those malicious QR codes that download a virus (in this case, a thought-virus) when scanned.

    There is definitely something un-this-time-line-y about Ilya. Maybe he is his father’s son from a different timeline where his father married someone else, but his parents in that timeline died so his father in this timeline adopted him?

  2. Comment by Stephen J.:

    Dude. If I could afford to fly to Virginia and half-nelson you over your keyboard until you finished this book typing one-handed, I would. Well, no, I wouldn’t, but I’d want to.

  3. Comment by Danby:

    Congratulations, sir. You have managed to push every single button on the “must continue reading” side of my control board. Now my children must go hungry, as I will be unable to rest, to sleep either day or night, until I finish this book. And you tell me it is unpublished and in it’s current state unpublishable.

  4. Comment by shroudedinwords:

    Mr. Wright,
    This… is amazing. And not only because it sounds like this section is set near where my mother grew up, in my home state. I was a bit skeptical whenever you have referred to this story in passing in the past, but I am quite thoroughly hooked. I almost wish my baby daughter was not finally solidly asleep, so I could let my wife read it! (She has not finished The Golden Age yet, but she quite likes it and the article about life on Earth to life in the womb.)
    Now, if only someone would show up to swear me into the secret conspiracy of Catholics, already… Transdimensional work would afford so many opportunities to read things that have never been, will never be written.
    Respectfully,
    Em Ess

  5. Comment by The Deuce:

    So what is Ilya? A Nephilim? A hybrid between a Neanderthal and a member of the race of Adam, the latter of whom look Cro-Magnon-like in a world where humanity was never divided? Or are those two the same thing in this (multiple) world(s)?

  6. Comment by Mike:

    It’s nasty to tease us all like this! Please finish this book.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      The first volume SOMEWHITHER is written; I am a few chapters into the next volume NOWHITHER; but I also would like to complete my Count to the Eschaton Sequence first, and that has at least two volumes to be written. I am three chapters into THE VINDICATION OF MAN (which takes place between the 700,000 AD and 3,000,000,000 AD) and COUNT TO INFINITY (which takes place between the time of the collision of Milky Way and Andromeda and the heat-death of the universe).

      There is also a short novel tentatively titled THE IRON CHAMBER OF MEMORY which I hope to write in the near future.

  7. Comment by Rolf Andreassen:

    It ceased to parallel our world in the Seventh Century BC, as the Mohammedans never conquered Persia; and the Zoroastrian religion, not Islam,

    Unless this is taking place in a history subtly different from ours, in which the abbreviation ‘BC’ has a different meaning, it seems you have a typo?

  8. Comment by deiseach:

    Bad puns (Miss Anthrope?) and a reference to a certain Mr. S. Holmes’ little monograph, written while recuperating in Cornwall? Interdimensional carrying-on? The Dark Tower? The Templars? Harvard-trained symbologists? The Time Tunnel TV series?

    Oh, Mr. Wright. I am delighted you have written this. I wish there were some benevolent millionaire somewhere that would slip a large bribe to your publishers or defray the costs of a small press limited edition or something, so that these books could get onto shelves (or at least into my greedy grasp).

    Thank you for this extract!

  9. Comment by joetexx:

    “The marks that looked like Cuneiform were not a mathematical cipher, and so all the code crackers could not crack it.”

    I recently read Michael Coe on the decipherment of the Mayan glyphs.
    He gave a fairly detailed account of the many attempts to do so. Apparently many cryptographers and code breakers tried this, particularly those flushed with success from the triumphs of WWII. All failed.

    The reason being that language is not a code; there is nothing to uncover because nothing is hidden.

    He notes that all successful decipherings were done by those immersed in a least one living language related to that used by the writers of the script; young Champollion studied Coptic extensively before tackling Egyptian hieroglyphs and the Mayan translators were familar with modern dialects in the regions where the glyphs were most abundant. Sumerian is an isolated language with no ancient or modern relatives, but nearly all its texts were also in Akkadian, a Semitic language that has numerous modern relatives.

    Are you aware of other fantasy based on the Babel legend? I am not; so far as I know neither Lewis or Tolkien ever wrote on the subject.

    • Comment by Earl Wajenberg:

      “Are you aware of other fantasy based on the Babel legend? I am not; so far as I know neither Lewis or Tolkien ever wrote on the subject.”

      The third book of Lewis’s Space Trilogy, That Hideous Strength, makes allusion to Babel. The title is a reference to it in a poem by one David Lyndsay, in 1555. The bad guys of Lewis’s book are hinted to be successors, in some sense, to the builders of the Tower, and a repetition of the Curse of Babel falls on them at the end. So there is a little basis there.

      • Comment by joetexx:

        Quite right; the confusion of speech which the Angel Mercury, through Merlin, brings down on the NICE guys at the banquet was a very powerful scene.

        I had forgotten it because the Babel theme was not the main thrust of the book.

  10. Comment by joetexx:

    Muromets – marmosets…. Damn spell checkers!

  11. Comment by Xena Catolica:

    In ch.4 you refer to plastic gloves in a rare book collection, but actually white cotton gloves are used. The librarian is watching for concealed knives or razor blades, since most ms. theft happens by cutting out a page or illumination, not pinching the whole book. The guy they caught at Yale a few yrs. ago was arrested because he dropped a razor blade under the table & a grad student spotted it and reported him.

    If the bear ref. are what I think them to be, I’d suggest you show us some of that beehive work, which would also give you a chance to describe the strength & physical attributes of the teenager. Of what’s posted, the first chapter was the least engaging. Maybe drop it entirely, and rework the 2nd ch. to include a beehive demolition very recently, which could then neatly include a contrast with what it had been like when the mother was there, a parallel of him coming home beestung as a kid (w/mom)contrasting to father coming home now.

    Also, ‘though the blessing is nice, when you ‘locate’ the deacon, it would be good to also identify his liturgical function–where does he read the gospel? That would let you indicate how far they are from the cathedral/archbishop.

    Excuse me if that’s not the sort of feedback you’re welcoming this evening. I’m all in favor of reality-hopping deacons with katanas and guns.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      Wait, did you say the subchapter where the reality hopping deacon with katanas and guns is the least engaging? The one where the point of the whole trilogy is stated unambiguously and openly, giving the direction and skeleton to the whole story, telling the readers in one short scene that this is a multiverse background with a Christian metaphysics behind it? I also intend it as an homage to HAVE SPACE SUIT WILL TRAVEL, since I copied the opening line, changing it only slightly.

      Your theory has the merit of being unexpected, and I will pass it along to my muse for her to ponder. It is no use giving me the advice: all I am is the guy who writes it down. I am not the one who makes this stuff up.

      I am not sure what you mean by beehive work. I assume the comments to which you refer are in inside joke meant for readers who’ve read THE HOBBIT. Ilya is saying that he looks like Beorn, a big, strong, ugly, hairy guy in a family of lithe and slim blond Russians.

      The deacon’s liturgical function is that he is a spy for a secret Papal organization fighting werewolves who sneak in through twilight tears or gaps between dimensions. The chapel to which he is attached is under repair, because it is haunted and is awaiting exorcism. According to my notes, the Deacon serves at the Priory of Our Lady of Consolation in Amity, Oregon in the meanwhile. He also does missionary work. I am not sure what you mean by how far he is from the cathedral. Do you mean physically? Tillamook is in the archdiocese of Portland, which is where (I assume) the Archbishop is, but I confess I know little of these matters.

      • Comment by joetexx:

        Amity Oregon, eh?

        If I am ever drafted into an inter dimensional holy war I’ll want to take along a few boxes of this stuff.

      • Comment by Xena Catolica:

        Well, no, I wasn’t referring to The Hobbit at all, but a far older work, one of Tolkien’s sources. If it’s not there, it’s just a coincidence.

        Of what’s posted here, in this post, 1-2 is the least engaging; I almost stopped reading before getting to 3, in part because the kid seems generic. Removing a wild beehive (or something like that) would allow him to be not-generic, by demonstrating some virtue/vice, attitude toward sharing his father’s work, etc. Building his character a little before putting him in confrontation with his dad would add some oompf to that confrontation.

        Werewolves?! Even better! But fighting them isn’t a liturgical function. And maybe this first part isn’t quite the place to do it, but I hope somewhere it will show what a deacon is ordained for: particular service at the altar, proclaiming the gospel at Mass, and representing the bishop in service to the most vulnerable people in the community–and that vulnerability is widely defined: the materially poor, the ignorant, the spiritually poor, etc. Your deacon has to show the characteristics of a diaconal vocation, here or somewhere, otherwise you risk reducing ordination to magic or a credential and I’m certain that’s not your intent.

        Distance from the archbishop–how closely does he work with the archbishop? In terms of the theology of the diaconate, each deacon serves his bishop directly, ‘though in a parish he is under the pastor’s normal authority. Administratively, each dioc. has a director of deacons, who is sometimes a priest but usually a deacon, who works closely with the bishop and is responsible for keeping close contact with all the deacons. Usually the dir. of deacons is also responsible for supervising the formation of candidates, so he knows all the deacons well before their ordination. The dir. of deacons would know, for example, how the deacon’s family was impacted (kids in particular) because it’s part of their job to do so. If he works closely with his archbishop in addition to the deacon dir., it usually means he’s doing something innovative rather than an established ministry.

        • Comment by deiseach:

          But since he’s a Templar, he’s a member of a religious order, and so isn’t he more directly under the authority of his superior general rather than the local bishop? I took it that being a deacon was him in minor orders as part of the ordained clergy of the order, with its particular charism (fighting interdimensional-hopping werewolves), rather than in the secular parish to which he is attached?

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          The kid who, in the opening paragraphs, is wondering how many universe there are because he got a secret message on his cell phone from a mad scientist seems generic, eh?

          Well, as you like. You are certainly free to write stories of your own to suit your own tastes. Let me not hinder you. Go for it.

          • Comment by Xena Catolica:

            You’re right, sir. It’s a particular stupidity to think a zebra would be a fine horse if he’d just paint himself brown, and I apologize for committing that stupidity here.

  12. Comment by The_Shadow:

    One of the Nephilim was my first thought too. But traditionally that’d make his father an angel, and that doesn’t scan.

    I must have this book!!

  13. Comment by Nostreculsus:

    Your work is ingenious. It’s quality work. And there are simply too many notes, that’s all. Just cut a few and it will be perfect.

    Emperor Joseph II (to Mozart)

    This is wonderful writing! It is particularly skilful because of the mass of exposition and clues you must work into the dialogue while firing up the action.

    But permit me one objection: speak to your muse about losing the reference to the Harvard Department of Symbology. If you must, rework the dialogue so dad, ever the realist, sneers at certain books containing such piffle. Here is why.

    This is a multiple universes story. I am assuming this scene takes place in our reality. The reader knows, or can readily verify, that there is no Department of Symbology.

    Our world may indeed contain katana-wielding Templars, although the local padre denies it. All part of the cover-up. The books – Holmes’ little monograph, Tlon compiled by the Orbis Tertius Society, Mesmerism by Hans Schimmerkopf – these are fine and suitable to your theme of multiple universes. But, if you intend to ground your story in our timeline, you must not put something readily falsifiable into that timeline.

    Also, you are stealing from an inferior, albeit wealthier, writer. Stealing from Borges, or Doyle or Laumer is ingenious. It’s quality work. Stealing from Dan Brown? Smells wrong.

    • Comment by deiseach:

      Oh, here’s where I have to disagree! I particularly appreciated the joke about a Harvard-trained symbologist (especially since Mr. Brown’s symobologist appears to know not the difference between a hawk and a handsaw when it comes to matters of religion, what with Opus Dei being made up of assassin monks – albinism optional – so that immediately shores up the father’s scepticism about the professor’s credentials)!

      Sure, maybe in our dimension there is no such a thing, but who says Professor Anthrope originates from our dimension?

      And I suppose it’s possible that in another dimension, Opus Dei may indeed be comprised of assassin monks (albino or not). So perhaps I should be regarding Robert Langdon of Harvard’s symbology department with even more suspicion than I already do?

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      This story is deliberately intended as an anti-Dan-Brown story, where the secret Catholic conspiracy is the good guys and the Harvard trained ‘symbologist’ (cough, cough) is the lunatic. Are you seriously asking me to pass up a chance to mock Dan Brown? I decline to follow such advice, thank you.

      • Comment by Nostreculsus:

        The mundane is a fantasy world too and should be established as carefully as its alternates. Dorothy lives in Kansas before she enters Oz. The children explore the professor’s house before they find Narnia. Although the scene is very brief, Alice reads by the riverbank with her sister before the white rabbit runs by.

        Now, the fallow fields, the deserted monastery, the beehives and rabbits place your tale in our world. They set us up for the revelations that Dad is a Templar knight and the local mad scientist has found a portal to other, unknown worlds. But the mad scientist need not and cannot be a Harvard trained symbologist, because symbologists are not really scientists at all. They do not know how to build or fix devices. I can imagine Dr Andreassen, say, building an interdimensional portal; can you see Robert Langdon doing anything but solve contrived cryptic crosswords?

        Incidentally, I wish to withdraw any remarks I made above that might be misconstrued as critical of Mr Dan Brown’s novelistic skills. I find his work both entertaining and informative. His puzzles have all the erudition that can be gleaned from the very best tourist pamphlets and alternate history screeds.

        The concept of the “mad scientist”, as used by such writers as Mrs Mary Shelley, Mr Herbert George Wells, Frau Thea Gabriele von Harbou, Mr Clive Staples Lewis and others, may well be in the public domain. But I hereby acknowledge that the concepts of the “symbologist” and of “the Harvard Department of Symbology” are the entirely original and copyrighted property of Mr Dan Brown, Dan Brown Productions, Inc., Danbrown LLC, and Braunindustriewerke GmbH and that attempts to appropriate, mock or alter his original work for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain may infringe the copyright holder’s exclusive rights.

        I state here that I had no such intention and I further state freely that recent communications from the Dan Brown legal team had no influence on my freely made decisions to offer this clarification.

        • Comment by John C Wright:

          Any writer who takes up a pen makes assumptions about what the reader knows and does not know. For example, if I used the word ‘hyperdrive’ in a story without explaining the theory behind the limitations of the speed of light, I make just such an assumption.

          Myself, I assume anyone reading this books knows full well that there is no such thing as a symbologist, and that this is being put in as a jest, in this case, a jest at Dan Brown’s expense. What I did not expect what for anyone reading a story about Jesuit Ninja Templars fighting interdimensional werewolves in Meccha Armor to take the offhand remark about ‘symbologists’ seriously enough to think that the writer needs to add some sort of caveat explaining that such things are not real.

          I do not expect anyone watching a time travel story to object that a screwdriver cannot operate on sonic energy.

    • Comment by lampwright:

      I think he was MOCKING Dan Brown…not stealing from him.

  14. Comment by April Freeman:

    Wow! this is epic! I can’t think of words to properly express it’s coolness, and how much torture it will be waiting for this book to be published.
    really John, this is cruel. but all the same thank you for letting us read it, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time:-)

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      April, you are a friend of the family. If you like, I can send you what I’ve written so far.

      • Comment by April Freeman:

        John, you just did a very dangerous thing. You activated my Fangirl. (this means I’ll be jumping up and down on my toes, squealing, and pestering my family for at least twenty minutes.)
        Needless to say I will be very happy indeed to read it, and so will my brothers. So if you like you can send it, or if we must we will be patient and wait with the rest of the world. :-)

  15. Comment by Rhystuck:

    When you previously mentioned this project, I wasn’t sure if it was real or if you were just making a joke!

  16. Comment by Anthony Nonymous:

    I really very ever-so-much want to get my hands on this book–it has been a long time since the first chapter of a story has as strongly compelled me to tear right into the next chapter, and there’s no chapter to be had! I’m sure this is good for my spirit, in developing patience, or endurance of the inevitable, or resignation to cruel fate, or how to live in hope, or something like that which will doubtless do me immeasurable good later on but which right now merely makes me want to kick the cat through the hedge, go retrieve it, set it up, and kick it straight through the hedge again (note to ailurophiles: only kidding about the cat; I would not do this more than once).

    In the meantime, I suppose I shall have to read everything else you’ve written, dang it!

  17. Comment by Anthony Nonymous:

    Not really in favor of kicking cats, as I have inadvertently adopted a couple of strays that a faithless mama cat left on my back porch a few years ago in their kittenhood, and which themselves swiftly grew up and entered into the cat-production business. Providentially, a local feral cat rescue program attached to the university contacted me and found homes for the excess kittenage and surgically adjusted the parents’ production capacity to zero, releasing them back into my care on the novel assumption that feral cats have “colonies” which the feral cat activists wished to maintain. I’ve grown accustomed to the cats by now (they’re the only cats that have ever rushed eagerly to greet me as I come up the walk), but if you really wish to send me the next chapter to the book, I may have to consider booting one once in a while, and perhaps even planting a hedge to break the trajectory.

    Or even better, just treating the cats kindly and praying for your soul every night for the rest of my life (beginning tonight)! Thank you, O sir, most kindly indeed! I solemnly promise not to distribute it, copy it, or allow mortal eyes other than my own even to glimpse the backs of the pages that I may (with your permission) print, the better to carry it with me and pore over it in spare moments! May God bless you extravagantly!

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      In case it is unclear, I was hoping you would kick FEWER cats a shorter distance, since you would now be in a good mood.

      I am asking my agent about the legal issues. My publisher has a right of first refusal, and they expressed a disinterest in this book, so if that is actually a refusal, then I would be free to sell the darn thing myself over the internet. I had a guy who volunteered to help me put it together into a salable electronic format, and set up a website, but now he is not returning my phone calls or email, for reasons I have no clue why.

      Your prayers will be very welcome. I have many sins on my soul. But I never kicked a cat, and only stepped on one once by mistake.

      • Comment by Darrell:

        Amazon allows you to self-publish and has instructions on how to get your manuscript into the proper format; though I am unsure on how difficult that is.

        https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin/178-6431986-4867042

      • Comment by TJIC:

        > I never kicked a cat, and only stepped on one once by mistake.

        I step on my dogs all the time by mistake (where “all the time” is defined as once a month or so, and “by mistake” means “because the dogs insist on being underfoot, even when I can’t see them). I don’t think this counts as sinning against God’s laws, and to the degree that I need to proptiate the dogs and ask their forgiveness, I think the Greenies, belly rubs, and sleeping in the bed more than even the score.

  18. Comment by Anthony Nonymous:

    Any utterances about cat-kicking were pronounced solely for comic effect. I have never kicked a cat, either, nor do I intend to (though at times I have sorely wanted to). There: that’s settled. Animal rights activists may relax (as if!).

    I did once yell pretty rudely at a horse, but it never got farther than that, as it doesn’t do to engage in a physical confrontation with someone outweighing you by several hundred pounds and who has big heavy stompy kicky feet. A horse can do enough damage without even intending to; give him motivation, and he can become artistic in his vengeance.

    Do hope you can get hold of your friend (or at least associate) to help you get the book into a shape that can be sold by internet, though frankly, I think I would buy the thing if it were mimeographed, stapled in the upper left-hand corner and distributed by post. Your publisher needs to think again. But I may not be representative of their perceived audience; as soon as I grasped the concept of transdimensional Templars, I was fully on board and looking eagerly for my Templar Seal replica.

    I’ll be watching in anticipation for the news that this so-far fun and enjoyable book is commercially available! I’ve enjoyed the samples, but you need to get paid for this!

  19. Comment by TJIC:

    I’ve been utterly frantic recently as I’ve been prepping my house to sell (moving 18 years worth of books and tools into a PODS, having contractors in, etc.), so I didn’t remotely have time to read a John C. Wright story.

    …but I also wasn’t going to MISS a JCW story either, so I snapshotted it into my kindle a few weeks ago.

    Today, while hiding out at my office as the realtor conducted the open house I finally had a chance to read it.

    Masterful. Worth the wait.

    …and now I’m frustrated because I’m going to have to wait an indeterminate amount of time until I see how the story develops!

  20. Comment by Legatuss:

    While I am as interested in the others in actually reading the rest of this story, that is not why I am posting here. It appears that you and I have made the same deductions about ancient mankind, perhaps using different data to reach that conclusion, but coming to the same place. Here are my deductions, do they match yours, why or why not?

    Mankind, between the times of Adam and Noah certainly, and for a while thereafter, where different genetically and physiologically than us, yet we are descended from them. I say this because they could live to be almost a thousand years old, yet we cannot. What fossils exist that might match such a type of mankind? The only possibility is Neanderthal. Now, Neanderthal would be the skeletons mostly of post flood man, since pre flood man skeletons may be unavailable, being underwater, however, mankind lived to be very old for some time after the flood. It is stated in the bible that they would live shorter lives several times, each time shorter than the last. The genealogies, which list only the highlights of a much longer but unwritten genealogy (listing only those who did something noteworthy, or gave a certain look to all their descendants) show that they at first lived long lives and had children at perhaps as old as 150 (and that may have been only the first child for all I know). This would mean that it would be some time before their children had children, so a generation, instead of being 20 years as now, could be 100+ years.

    Why Neanderthal? One, it is the only option of which we have full skeletons and which had a big brain (a bit larger than ours, possibly containing elements of a brain to stave off Alzheimer, or just to hold 1000 years of memory). Other “hominids” are said, even in stories in the daily paper, to consist of only a few small bone fragments connected by a lot of presupposition and imagination that it appears likely that they are mostly just that, imaginary. The Neanderthal are older than “modern man”, thus they fit that bill. Second, they have specific genetic and physiological differences that appear designed to allow a much longer life than ours. For instance, the way you do not grow old is obvious, children do not because they are growing, the Neanderthal need only keep growing, but very slowly, to achieve the same youth effect. It is now believed that they grew throughout their lives, like some people who have a defect that causes them to keep growing, see “Andre the Giant” for it’s effect and what you end up looking like, Neanderthal if ever I saw one. Modern man, however, cannot, or does not wish to, understand that they could do this, not over 40 years, but much much slower, up to almost 1000 years. The specific skeleton of Neanderthal appears designed to allow this up to 1000 years of very slow growth, starting out with rather youthful looking features compared to adults today, then slowly filling over centuries (it probably took them longer to reach whatever passed for adulthood back then to). Third, to help them live long lives, they were also much stronger than us, perhaps three times stronger, with big barrel chests and large nasal cavities to feed those titanic lungs to keep those muscles going, very handy when facing the great big animals of those days. Fourth, some evidence, their bigger heads and thus bigger jaws had room for all their teeth, we do not, hence, “wisdom teeth”, a leftover from our Neanderthal ancestors.

    Genetic evidence: At first, there was a fair amount of evidence that some people who are European had Neanderthal genes, so it was said that Neanderthals and “humans” interbred. However, it has now been found that Africans have Neanderthal genes buried even deeper. The story is clear, we will call it The Flood. First, there was Adam and Eve, also called “Mitochondrial Eve” from the genetic evidence we have of one women who was the mother of all women. They lived during an ice age, but since they were in the middle east area they saw no ice. What they did see was a far lower sea level and, with smaller seas, less rain (if any, this is the middle east after all). Then there was Noah, also falsely called Y-chromosonal Adam”, I say falsely because it can be seen that this “Adam” came later, and we know that there was not one but TWO times in ancient history when one man was the father of all men, one was Adam, one was Noah. Thus, the fact that this “Adam” was later does not falsify the bible, rather, it confirms it. The dating of this woman and man is off, because they did not have 20 year generations as we do, but much longer ones due to having children much later than we do, so increasing mutations would take far longer to happen. Now when Noah was around, he finished the ark, and then the ice age ended. When ice ages end, the climate suddenly changes, it rained a lot and there were several rivers that terminated in the area they lived at, so it filled up rather quickly. Plus, the seas started out 400 feet lower than now, and they rose suddenly as they do when ice ages end (which is one reason the climate changes), and they came spilling over the hills into the low area where all the people were living, also known as “east of Eden”. You can see it here http://www.livescience.com/10340-lost-civilization-existed-beneath-persian-gulf.html . If you want to see what pre flood man looked like, bring a shovel and your swim trunks, it’s about 400 feet down. The flood was not universal, nor does the bible specify that it was ( http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/localflood.html ), it was only universal as far as mankind was concerned, which is all that matters.

    The reason for the flood is simple, the sons of God, believers, could find no believing women anymore, their were so few believing men and no women. Since these people had no bibles, that means that from then on, children would not hear about God the only way they could, by word of mouth, and for endless ages no one would believe and go to heaven. Thus, God had to reset things. This idea that “sons of God” were angels is nonsense, angels do not have DNA, and cannot father children, nor would God allow them to and then kill everyone, as that would mean that God killed them for something God did. Plus, the idea of not translating the word for “sons of God” so that you can pour your own meaning into it is sin, see the last verses in the book of Revelations for what God thinks of people both hiding His word by not translating it, and adding in new meaning that He did not in it’s stead.

    Now the sons of Noah spread out after this flood. Most ended up in Africa because eventually, between then and now, the ice returned, 9 out of 10 years were ice ages in the last million or so years. Eventually, those in Africa mutated, possibly due to genetic drift since they started out with only 8 people. The result was that the Africans lived much shorter lives, and had children much sooner. A generation was now only 20 years. One effect was that these Africans population grew much faster than the small still Neanderthal populations in Europe and elsewhere, they filled Africa and moved out and completely overwhelmed the Neanderthal populations. This is why Africans have deeply buried Neanderthal genes, and Europeans have more easily seen ones. This is why also we are now mostly African, even though we may now have been living elsewhere for so long that we don’t look like the current Africans, who have changed over time just as non Africans have.

    Evidence, or should I say propaganda, against Neanderthal ancestors. The first is a long, and if you know what you are looking for, rather obvious propaganda campaign that equates Neanderthal with lowbrow/stupid. I say obvious because there is not a single shred of evidence to back it up. To start with, anyone with a head that big must have something in it. The “evidence” for missing genetics that grant intelligence is false, since those genes merely change the shape of the head, not needed since Neanderthal women had children somewhat differently than modern women, probably because those children had bigger heads. Also, we do not know what genes cause intelligence anyway, we can barely even guess at simple things like genes for height, and cannot guess height from just looking at the genes. There is also that fact that unlike animals, these guys made tools, used paint, buried their dead in ritual manners, and suchlike, all intelligent, modern human type things. They had big brains and acted like they used them.

    The modern idea that Neanderthals are not and never were our ancestors is a rather obvious Satanic propaganda campaign. Since the evidence is rather obvious, if you just look, for long lived ancients exactly like the bible says, Satan has tried to keep anyone from ever thinking any such thing that might confirm the bible with science. It mostly comes from the “Neanderthal means lowbrow/stupid” thing that persists even though science has now refuted it.

    Speaking of science and the bible, here is a good basic overview of Genesis one http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/genesis1.html , there are also other overviews here. Basically, the problem between science and “creationism” is that creationism does NOT have the problem of interpreting Genesis one too literally, but not literally enough and done by ignorant people who both add to and subtract from what it says in the original language. Much of creationism taught in many churches today is a fable, probably Satanically inspired, and substituted for the exact match between science and the bible that actually exists. In this way Satan accomplishes many goals. One, he can keep Christians out of science, who wants them digging up all the evidence for God and the accuracy of the bible that Rom 1:20 says exists? Second, it can cause the church to wall itself off from “the world” so that the world is effectively insulated from it’s influence and witness. Then, when the insulated children come out into the world, they are told that science proves the bible is just a fable, even though the fable they were told was from the bible is not (it’s a classic straw man argument). Also, it allows the church to go up against “those evil, godless evolutionists””, thus allowing both sides to concentrate on “apposing THEM” rather than correct biblical understanding or doing science, neither of which are desirable. Then, you can stimulate pride in opposing “them”, always useful. With no Christians in science, you can then undermine it’s honesty and credibility, getting rid of that danger which could lead to understanding and finding God. Plus, once you have the Christians believing a fable, it is a lot easier to get them into that habit, and slip in more fables. Lots of satanically desirable spinoffs to this one.

    • Comment by John C Wright:

      I hate to disappoint you, but SOMEWHITHER is a story. The material given here is make-believe. The only realistic details I added were added deliberately to make the unrealistic things look realistic. I am not proposing a theory but writing a fiction story.

      I am currently rewriting this beginning section your read to make it a little tighter and bring out a better side to Ilya, whose name I am toying with changing. I hope to have the completed manuscript to the publisher by November.

  21. Comment by Anthony Nonymous:

    For what little my opinion is worth, I’d keep “Ilya” as the protagonist’s name, ’cause, you know, ILYA MUROMETS–epic hero and Russian Orthodox Saint!

    But then, I’m not writing this book–just waiting eagerly for its completion so’s I can buy it! Call him “Al” or “Mickey” and I’ll still buy it!

Leave a Reply