a work in progress …
|Out of Time|
A story by Mike Stone
Out of Time
Copyright © 2016 by Mike Stone
All rights reserved
No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing.
Inquiries should be addressed to:
Dedicated to my sons, Assaf, Ari, and Ayal who are the templates for several of my fictional characters and carry the seeds of creativity forward into the unknown.
The difference between a human and a story, even a story about a human, is that stories have beginnings and endings whereas humans do not.
Cadmus preferred flying this old fashioned solar sail ship, to one of the more modern hyper-drive ships, from his native moon’s orbit to Draco.763.3a, the only habitable moon orbiting Draco.763.3. He was well aware he could have made the trip in a couple hours instead of the two hundred and seventy days, give or take, that this trip would take him, but he didn’t like flying faster than the speed of light, thank you. It made his stomach queasy. He liked seeing the stars as points instead of lines. Besides that, Cadmus didn’t think punching a hole in the space-time fabric was good for the environment.
Cadmus’ co-pilot was his trusty dagu, “Lonesome”. Lonesome couldn’t really pilot the ship. He wasn’t able to do much of anything besides pant with his tongue hanging out of the side of his mouth and look generally friendly. Lonesome’s fur covered his entire body except his belly. He had a long scruffy tail, pointy ears, a medium-size proboscis, and foul breath.
Cadmus operated the ship’s artificial gravity for Lonesome’s sake since he didn’t do so well with zero gravity. He’d throw up big globules of gruesome looking stuff. So Cadmus set the outer shell of the ship to spinning to create a 1-g ring around the ship so that Lonesome could feel normal; well, also so that Cadmus could exercise and take a shower.
Cadmus liked staring out the big picture window and pointing his telescope at the interesting objects he passed by. He had another hundred days or so to go before he reached 3a. He calculated he should be able to see 3, the huge uninhabitable planet around which 3a revolved, in eighty-five or six days. He gazed at the familiar Old Woman constellation, tracing the line of her crooked back until he got to her finger pointing to the Southern Star by which the ship navigated.
Cadmus was not in any hurry. He had no one waiting for him on either side of the trip.
Cadmus had fifteen more days to go before arriving at 3a. When you came down to it, he wasn’t even sure why he wanted to go to this particular moon; maybe just because it was there, he guessed, and because he could.
Cadmus pulled up his rocker next to the folding table beside the big picture window. He plumped the pillows the way he liked and gazed at the paucity of the solar system. There didn’t seem to be much happening. The constellations and unassociated stars hardly moved. It was like they were holding their breaths. Suddenly he had a memory of when he was a child playing hide-and-seek with the other children and he had held his breath when they passed near him.
There was a calendar fixed to the wall by the window. The days of his trip were crossed off one by one. Cadmus would draw a circle around the date when he woke up and then an X through the date before going to sleep. Dozing off in the middle didn’t count.
Cadmus kept himself fairly busy. He made a checklist of things he should do while awake:
- Wake up
- Feed Lonesome
- Exercise, eliminate, shower, and dress
- Feed Lonesome
- Walk Lonesome
- Draw a circle around today’s date
- Eat something
- Brush teeth
- Check what’s going on outside
- Check the instruments
- Feed Lonesome
- Sit by the window and think
- Write something, anything, in the diary
- Feed Lonesome
- Eat something else
- Walk Lonesome again
- Brush teeth
- Draw an X through today’s date
- Go to sleep
Lonesome didn’t need a checklist. He was content to follow around whatever Cadmus was doing. Maybe he was following Cadmus’ checklist.
There was a small picture frame on the ledge of the window. In it was a photograph of a young woman next to a younger version of Cadmus. She had thick long black hair, dark brown eyes, pronounced cheek bones, and inviting lips puckered up in a kiss. Every time he looked at her he sighed, “Ay Kaly”.
“Ay Kaly, would that you were with me. You’d love it. You could scarcely contain your happiness as soon as you’d enter a shuttle terminal, any terminal. It never mattered where or where we were going. Just to be going,” he said to himself.
Kalyra was his wife.
Cadmus opened up his diary, pulled a pencil out of one of his pockets, and wrote the following:
The Warrior’s Other Side
Gone already into the night
Halfway across the void.
So far from you
The Warrior wears his scabbard
On the other hip.
Cadmus closed the diary on the ribbon. The Warrior was the name of the constellation he was gazing at.
According to the calendar Cadmus should reach 3a in another two days. Draco.763.3 was starting to loom large on his screen. It was a lovely planet with swirling yellows, browns, reds, and greens created by hurricane force storms of noxious elements that appeared suddenly and then disappeared just as suddenly. Nobody had ever set foot on 3. They say the gravity would crush a shuttle and everyone inside it like a flimsy tin can.
Lonesome was lying at his feet while Cadmus sat in his command chair at the instrument console. Lonesome was too busy gnawing his right front paw to look up at the screen.
Cadmus noticed a small black dot creeping ever so slowly across 3’s face. He figured that was 3b. When he was a child he had been taught that 3b had been inhabited by humans who had destroyed their moon, turning it into a cinder in the sad eye of 3. That was a long time ago, Cadmus reflected, and there are no records or artifacts to provide any evidence of their existence.
Cadmus fed Lonesome and then pulled up the rocking chair next to the window. He picked up his diary and sat down to gaze out. There were more and more white lines zipping silently across his field of vision as hyper-drive ships dropped out of hyper-space into what they deprecatingly called sub-space. The ships were all sorts of shapes and sizes. He liked looking at them as long as he didn’t have to ride in one.
Suddenly a loud and urgent sounding male voice interrupted the reveries of Cadmus:
“HEY YOU! WATCH WHERE THE HELL YOU’RE FLYING!! DO YOU REALLY WANT TO BE PLOWED INTO? SPEED IT UP BUDDY OR STAY THE HELL OUT OF MY LANE!”
Cadmus saw a huge white splotch open up in the space-time fabric near his window and a thick white beam of light plunged through it, solidifying into a gigantic space ship hundreds of times the size of his small solar sail ship rushing toward his picture window. He dropped his diary and lunged for the steering controls, knowing he could not possibly change course in time.
“EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!! IMMINENT LIFE-THREATENING DANGER!!!” the loudspeaker blared repeatedly while the instruments flashed in synch.
A moment before impact, the bow of the huge ship started to rise, exposing its vast hull which filled the picture window.
The loudspeaker went silent and the instruments stopped flashing, returning to their normal displays.
Cadmus broke out in a cold sweat. Lonesome was whimpering. He looked around him and listened for hissing or other tell-tale signs that something was wrong. He heard nothing. He slowly scanned each instrument to see whether all systems were nominal. They seemed to be. He checked his course plot. This was definitely the course he had been given by the flight authorities. He’d copy the logs and send them to the flight authority to find out what or who went wrong.
Lonesome nudged his leg. Cadmus looked down and saw a small yellow puddle near his foot. Cadmus took a paper towel and soaked up the mess. He tossed the wet towel into the disposal and took Lonesome for a walk to calm him down.
After Lonesome returned to his normal care-free self, Cadmus sat back down in his rocker and picked up his diary, opening it to the pages squeezing the ribbon. He wrote:
Day 268: Today Lonesome and I had a pretty close call.
The Draco.763.3 Terminal slid smoothly into view on the screen in front of Cadmus. Soon he could see all the docked and docking ships. Some of the logos and colors he could identify but there were many that he couldn’t. He wondered where they’d dock his ship.
Cadmus saw the command feed start to display on his running log and the delayed auto-responses of his ship displayed, not that he understood anything because it was all encoded in Base-64.
The ship altered course and maneuvered widely around the orbiting terminal until an extended spoke came into view. The ship slowly approached an empty portal lock next to a very large hyper-drive passenger ship with many long rows of windows, each the size of his picture window. Cadmus could see people filing out of the large ship into the mostly transparent extension spoke toward the terminal hub. That couldn’t be the bully ship that almost ran him over a couple days ago, he said out loud to Lonesome who was gazing out the picture window. They’d probably docked and disembarked already a couple days ago. It still made him mad to think about it. Cadmus decided he’d have that pilot’s license on a platter.
Cadmus could feel a slight shiver as his massive solar sails folded themselves into the side pockets of the ship. The ship glided ever so slowly, turning clockwise to synch with the portal lock, and he felt a small jolt as the ship’s forward motion came to a complete stop. There was a slight relaxation of mechanical joints.
Cadmus took Lonesome for one more walk before disembarking. He went to his hammock to retrieve his backpack, set the controls to power off after he left the ship, and walked out into the passageway with Lonesome at his side and the pack on his back.
In a little while a tug would come by and release the ship from the portal lock. Then the tug would guide the powered-off ship to an orbiting long-term parking area. A tug would bring it back to a portal lock when it was time for Cadmus to leave 3.
Lonesome didn’t seem to know where to sniff first. There was so much new for him to discover. He tensed up when he saw other animals his size or bigger. People were pretty much friendly to him and he reciprocated in his own way, while others were afraid of him or disgusted. Some of the people were probably robots. Cadmus couldn’t tell the difference, not that it mattered, as long as they behaved themselves, but Lonesome could certainly tell the difference.
The passage tread moved at a decent clip toward the central hub. Cadmus could read and hear the signs with avatars speaking via directed sound waves to each passenger in his own language as he or she passed. This one told him the entry control was straight ahead, Sapiens to the left, Rationals to the right, and robots straight ahead. He saw tall blue humanoids veering to the right, normal looking people and abnormal looking objects moving straight ahead. Cadmus veered left. He hoped the terminal officials wouldn’t give him any trouble over Lonesome.
Cadmus arrived at an available screen. A pleasant looking female Rational avatar greeted him from a screen. “Welcome to the 3 system,” the avatar said.
“Thanks for letting me visit,” Cadmus answered.
“Do you have any baggage,” the avatar asked.
“Just my backpack,” Cadmus said pulling it off his back.
“Please hold it up for object and spectral analysis,” the avatar requested politely. There was a flash. “You may return the pack to your back,” which he did.
“I assume you will be shuttling down to 3a,” the avatar asked.
“Yes,” Cadmus confirmed, “my dagu and I will need shuttle space going down to 3a.” He thought it funny that the Rational avatars and screens speaking a Sapien dialect were programmed by robots.
“You may want to get a change of clothes and boots and a new backpack,” the avatar suggested.
“Why?” he asked wondering what was wrong with the clothes he had on. “I have a change of clothes in my backpack.”
The avatar explained to him that Sapien-made objects would not be accessible to him in the higher order spaces.
He had no clue what she was talking about. “Can you explain that to me in words that a Sapien might understand?” he asked.
“If you would prefer not to walk around in the hotel lobby naked and without your backpack you’d better purchase some higher order dimensional clothes and backpack,” the avatar suggested. “There are a few stores near the shuttle gates.”
“Please prepare yourself for the DNA spectral analysis flash,” the avatar warned gently. After the flash the avatar asked Cadmus to make sure his dagu remained calm while it was flashed. Cadmus kneeled down and held Lonesome’s head near his heart to calm him with his heartbeat. There was a brief flash. A second or two later Lonesome barked indignantly.
“Your dagu’s protest has been duly noted,” the avatar said joking pleasantly. The avatar’s image was replaced by a message on the screen saying that Lonesome and Cadmus could now proceed to the shuttle area.
Cadmus entered the first clothing store he encountered. He picked out a couple pairs of pants, shirts, socks, and boots that appeared to be his size. He went into a dressing room to change clothes while Lonesome’s proboscis pushed through the curtain. He found a backpack big enough to put his old back pack inside it. At the register he asked the salesman whether all his purchases were high order dimension accessible. The salesman looked down at Cadmus and at the clothes, shoes, and backpack he was wearing and answered disdainfully, or so it seemed to him, “Certainly.”
When he left the store he read the Destinations screen carefully, looking for Draco.763.3a Sector 225.60, and saw that it would depart in another 20 minutes from portal 72X. They walked into the open area and looked around for Gate 72X.
Cadmus and Lonesome walked through the portal and found two empty seats. Cadmus strapped himself in and then strapped Lonesome in.
Lonesome looked around the shuttle cabin and sniffed the passenger’s face next to him. The passenger unstrapped himself, got up, and found another seat. Cadmus felt embarrassed.
A few moments later a voice over the loudspeaker told the passengers and crew to prepare for departure. The shuttle shoved away from the portal lock gently and the planet below slid out of the window frame as the shuttle maneuvered into position for the short trip to the terraformed moon 3a.
After twenty minutes the blue and green moon came into view. You could see thin wisps of white clouds floating over parts of the moon. Cadmus had read that there was little evidence of industrialization on this moon. The inhabitants, mostly Rationals, left a very small footprint on their natural environment. When the Sapiens asked to build resort hotels and shops to encourage tourism, the native Rationals insisted in no uncertain terms that Sapiens follow Rational guidelines. Sapien businessmen felt that stubborn insistence would discourage investment and tourism, but the opposite turned out to be true. 3a was one of the most popular tourist spots in Draco.763. It was a lovely moon in spite of its popularity, inspiring poets and artists from all over the solar system.
Cadmus felt a slight bumpiness as the shuttle entered the first layers of atmosphere. When they came through the clouds they saw verdant rolling meadows, gentle hills, and valleys with sparkling streams meandering.
The shuttle came down in an open field near a stand of trees whose leaves shimmered in the gentle breeze.
The passengers disembarked. Lonesome relieved himself beside one of the metal ground supports and Cadmus looked around, turning 360 degrees very slowly.
“Where are we?” Cadmus asked one of the flight attendants who happened to be quite a bit taller than him and blue. “Where are the hotels?”
The attendant turned to him and said “you’ll see” smiling.
A gentle breeze blew over the meadow and rustled the leaves on the trees in the stand nearby. It was good to breathe air that hadn’t been endlessly recycled, to plant one’s feet firmly on solid ground, and to gaze out to the horizon as far as the eye could see. Cadmus thought Lonesome probably felt the same way he did about it all. The dagu was sniffing the grasses in a lazy eight pattern.
He looked at the attendant. She was rather attractive in an exotic sort of way. She was tall, a good head taller than him, and thin but not too thin. She looked like she could handle herself in a fray if she had to. And then there was the fact that she was blue, cobalt blue, from head to toe, he supposed. She wore a one-piece flight suit, also blue, that didn’t leave much to the imagination.
He glanced at the others. There were a hundred Sapiens and five Rationals milling around the shuttle.
The attendant spoke without moving her lips. She said, “please follow me to that stand of trees over there” where she was pointing. They walked over and entered the small woods where they stood in a clearing of dappled shade. They saw a row of ten chairs locked together. Each chair had a body harness.
The attendant asked the Sapiens how many had visited them before. Twenty-five raised their hands.
Then she asked how many knew how to go perpendicular without the chairs. Five raised their hands. “OK,” she said, “you can go on ahead of the rest of us. The first step is that flat white rock by that tree over there.” She pointed at an inconspicuous flat white rock next to an inconspicuous tree.
The attendant turned to the rest of the passengers and said, “OK, we can take ten at a time.”
Cadmus was watching the first of the five step onto the rock, flip over, and disappear. The second did the same and disappeared! He stopped the attendant and asked her, “what’s happening?”
She said, “please be patient. Everything is OK and I’ll explain it all to you.”
It was disconcerting to him that she spoke without moving her lips.
The attendant asked one of the remaining twenty passengers who had visited before to show Mister “what is your name?” she asked him.
“My name is Cadmus,” he answered.
“To show Cadmus,” she continued again, “how it’s done, but please come back to us as soon as you arrive to prove that no harm came to you; otherwise, he won’t trust us or our chairs.”
After the fifth of the first group of passengers stepped on the rock, flipped over, and disappeared, one of the second group sat down on one of the chairs and strapped himself in while the last group of first-timers watched with heightened interest.
The attendant addressed the third group of passengers, “we usually host an orientation session after everyone checks in, finds their rooms, and has an opportunity to look around, but Cadmus would like to understand what he’s getting into before he takes the plunge.”
All the Sapiens laughed politely.
“Simply put,” she began, “it’s like the hyper-drive ships in which you came.”
“I didn’t come here in a hyper-drive ship,” Cadmus said feeling a bit contrarian. “I came in a solar sail ship.”
Everyone turned to look at him. Even Lonesome looked up at his strange companion.
“I understand,” she said softly. “These are hyper-chairs. You strap yourself in and they reorient you so that you are perpendicular to the three dimensional volume to which you are accustomed into another three-dimensional volume to which you are unaccustomed.”
“I don’t understand,” he said.
“We live in this world on which you are standing,” she explained, “but in more dimensions than you can fathom. Our buildings and environment exist in higher dimensions.”
“Is there something bothering you Cadmus?” the attendant asked sympathetically.
“It’s just that I saved up for this trip,” he said sadly, “and it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to see or do anything, since you all live in this higher dimension.”
“That’s not exactly what I said,” she smiled. “We live in every dimension that exists, at least the ones about which we are aware. Of course there may be others. We can transport you into higher dimensions but you will only be aware of three at a time, what may be called your local volume.
“You will see one of your fellow passengers sit down in the chair, strap himself to it, and when he is ready the chair will twist forward with the passenger.
“You will perceive him to disappear but he will only disappear from your local volume. The procedure is perfectly safe. In a moment you will see him come back to your volume.”
The Sapien strapped himself into the chair and looked up at the attendant.
“Is everyone ready for the demonstration?” she asked.
“I am,” the strapped-in Sapien said. Cadmus and everyone else had their eyes on him.
“You can go,” she said, “but please come right back.”
He pressed a button on the arm of the chair, his chair flipped forward, and he and the chair were nowhere to be seen.
“When is he supposed to …” Cadmus asked.
Suddenly the chair reappeared with the grinning passenger strapped in.
“… come back?” Cadmus stuttered and then said “oh.”
“Do you feel a little more comfortable now?” the attendant smiled at him.
“What about my dagu, Lonesome,” he asked.
“Not a problem,” she said brightly. “He can sit next to you or on your lap. You should cover his eyes before going perpendicular. You should probably close your own eyes too.”
“I’ll let everyone go before us,” Cadmus said generously. “I wouldn’t want to slow anyone down or spoil anything.”
The second group sat down and flipped out ten at a time. Then the third group sat down ten at a time. The only ones left were Cadmus, Lonesome, and the Rationals. They all sat down. Lonesome jumped onto his companion’s lap facing him. He held the dagu’s head to his chest and put his hand over his open eye. The attendant checked their straps and smiled at him. Cadmus closed his eyes.
When he opened his eyes he saw a beautiful hotel lobby made of glass and light.
The attendant unstrapped them and pointed at a glass counter a few meters away from the chairs. “Do you see the female behind the counter over there?” she asked Cadmus.
“She will help you both check in to your rooms.”
Cadmus watched the attendant walk away from him until she blended in with the crowd of noisy Sapiens and quiet Rationals and robots. Some of the robots looked like Sapiens and a few others looked like Rationals, but they acted differently than either of them. He couldn’t put his finger on it. Some of the robots didn’t look like anything he’d ever seen before.
He looked around at the huge glass walls of the hotel lobby. He saw several glass elevator shafts on each wall with glass cabins containing people moving up or down or other directions altogether. Some of the glass walls were transparent, creating the illusion that people on the other side were walking or sitting on air. Some of the glass walls were mirrored, reflecting the opposite mirrored walls to infinity. Some of the walls were enormous glass screens covered with all sorts of information, graphic art, and images.
One wall displayed an image of the female behind the counter whom the attendant had pointed out to him. The female image spoke to him in coherent audio waves saying, “Hello Cadmus. Are you feeling well? Whenever you are ready, you may come to the counter in front of you and I will help you check into your rooms.”
He smiled with embarrassment at the woman behind the counter who was staring at him. “OK, Lonesome, it’s time we got ourselves checked in,” he said to the dagu still sitting on his lap. Lonesome turned around and jumped off. They walked over to the glass counter.
“Hello Cadmus,” the hotel clerk said. “I trust you have had a pleasant trip so far.”
“It was OK,” he answered, “but a little long. We took the scenic route.”
“Do you have any special informational, social, sanitary, dietary, wake-up or sleeping requirements?” she asked pleasantly.
“I suppose your hotel is connected to the infosphere like everyone else?” he asked.
“Yes of course,” she said. “Everywhere you go in the city you will be connected automatically.”
“My dagu likes synthetic meat and will need to relieve himself at night,” Cadmus looked down at Lonesome and scratched the scruff of his neck just behind his ears the way he liked it. The dagu leaned into his hand and his right hind leg began to thump the glass floor.
“Certainly,” the clerk responded. “We’ll have your dagu’s food sent up to your room. There’s a flushable space in your room that will remind him of your back yard in which he can roam around and relieve himself. As soon as he leaves it, it will flush away everything including the smells.
Your room number is 142857. You may take the hyper-vator over there to the 142nd floor. When you get out, just follow the arrows.”
“Do I get a card or something to open the door?” he asked.
“No,” the clerk laughed prettily, “the door has been programmed just for your hand and your dagu’s paw.”
Cadmus turned to look for the hyper-vator she had indicated and turned back to thank her.
“Do you need any help with that backpack,” she asked.
“No thanks,” he said and then to Lonesome, “come on boy.”
“Oh and one more thing,” she called to his back. He stopped and turned around to face her. “Pay attention to the signs. Don’t go anywhere by yourselves that says ‘Rationals only’. You might never find your way back. Make sure you have a Rational to guide you.”
He wondered about her warning. He wasn’t blind, you know. He guessed it was because he couldn’t see beyond his three dimensional volume. In their world he must be considered partially blind. He said, “OK, thanks” and turned back toward the hyper-vator.
Cadmus and Lonesome walked over to the hyper-vator. He entered “142” on the keyboard. In a few moments the glass door opened and they entered the glass cabin. He saw the glass lobby and the female clerk quickly fall away and the glass floors rush past them. Although he knew the cabin was going up, the inertial vector felt like they were moving diagonally or sideways. He didn’t know whether or not he could trust the sensations of his body anymore.
The cabin slowed and stopped. The glass doors opened and they stepped outside into a glass hallway. The walls displayed flashing arrows pointing down the hall to the left. They walked to the end of the hall. The arrows turned the corner to the right. Halfway down the hallway a door was flashing. The door was numbered 142.
Cadmus saw no handle to twist so he put the palm of his hand on the door and it slid open. They entered tentatively. Lonesome sniffed around while his companion explored the rooms.
The walls had running information and data flowing down them, information about everything he could imagine: how to adjust the lighting, translucence of the walls, heating, coolness, wallpaper, softness or hardness of the beds and chairs, the time and alarms, music, news, programs, meals and snacks, events, and guided tours, to name a few. There were avatars of a concierge and hotel clerk among others.
Cadmus explored the rooms of his suite. He threw his backpack onto one of the glass chairs. He half expected something to break but it didn’t. He pushed his hand into the glass chair cushion and it felt unexpectedly soft. He walked over to the glass bed and sat down on it and it was soft too. He’d heard of smart glass before but this was genius glass.
He looked around for Lonesome but couldn’t see him. Then he saw him coming out of a glass box and heard a soft flushing sound. The dagu seemed relieved. Cadmus bent down and looked into the glass box. There was a large garden with grasses and stepping stones, flowers and tall leafy trees, and a lovely gazebo, all this in a glass box not much bigger than the dagu.
He found his own bathing and elimination room. There was a glass shower stall with water spray and dry air nozzles, and soap and shampoo dispensers.
There was a large mirror wall in the bathing room. He looked at himself in the mirror. The image staring back at him was pretty much what he expected to see, but there was something not quite right there.
He decided not to waste time thinking about it.
Cadmus took off his clothes, entered the shower, and turned on the water. The nozzles sprayed pulsing thin streams of water at him from several directions. He shampooed his hair and soaped his body. Then he rinsed himself. He dried himself with the warm air nozzles directing dry air at his body from several directions.
He stepped out of the shower stall, walked out to the chair to retrieve his back pack, and pulled out a clean set of clothes to wear. As he was dressing he looked out the external glass wall at the tall hotels, also glass, the clouds flowing around and between them, and the ghostly pale planet taking up a quarter of the pale blue sky.
Feeling somewhat refreshed, Cadmus looked at the information wall and asked the virtual concierge for a map of the city showing the nearby sites of interest to tourists and any local events around this time of day. The concierge asked him whether he wouldn’t prefer to get something to eat first and then explore the sites. He thought that sounded good so the concierge suggested a restaurant just off the main lobby, and displayed a map with instructions how to get to it.
He picked up his backpack and walked to the door. Lonesome was already there waiting for him. He opened the door and they walked out into the hallway following the arrows back to the hyper-vator.
The flashing arrows turned left, as expected, and when Cadmus and Lonesome turned the corner and saw the door of the hyper-vator flashing exactly where he expected it to be, he didn’t know whether to be amused or irritated. “They must think we’re half-blind fools or clueless children with these flashing arrows and doors,” he thought.
He tapped “0” on the keyboard and before he knew it the hyper-vator door opened for them. They stepped inside the cabin. He had the same funny feeling in his intestines going down but in reverse. The door opened and they stepped out into the lobby.
He spotted the restaurant off to his right. It wasn’t too hard because the sign was flashing. They walked over, looked for a spare table, and sat down, Cadmus on a glass chair and Lonesome under the glass table by his companion’s feet. The surface of his table flashed a slowly rolling menu with today’s fare. He touched a fresh local fruit and vegetable salad, hot bread, and mildly spiced tea on the menu for himself and synthetic meat and water for Lonesome.
A glass cart rolled up to him with the food he’d ordered. He laid the glass dish with meat and the water dish down on the floor beside the dagu and pointed at the food. Lonesome started nibbling at his food and then began to eat more enthusiastically. Cadmus ate his food. It wasn’t bad, but he’d tasted better on 4g, his home moon. He ate his salad and sipped his tea. He finished off with the hot bread desert and downed the last of his tea.
They left the restaurant and walked to the large glass doors of the hotel. On the way, he glanced at the name of the hotel on the wall behind the check-in counter. It was “ x5 − x4 − x + 1 = (x2 + 1) (x + 1) (x − 1)2 “. Catchy name. He knew it was a quintic function but he had no idea whether it was solvable with real roots or not. He kept on walking without giving it another thought, the tall doors opened before them, and they stepped outside.
Cadmus looked around him. He saw the base of the hotel he’d seen from his room. He followed the parallel lines of its outer walls until the seemed to meet in infinity in the high clouds above.
He looked up and down the street. He knew better than to cross the street not in a crosswalk. He wasn’t thinking of a law officer giving him a ticket so much as some crazy driver coming out of some higher dimension he couldn’t see and running over him.
They started walking down the sidewalk and he noticed a pretty little park situated in the space between his hotel and the next hotel down the street. There were trees with green-gold leaves, exotic red and blue flowers, and lush green-blue grasses waving in the breeze beside inviting wooden benches. He saw a young Rational couple sitting together on one of the benches. They seemed to be immersed in each other, smiling and holding hands. Lonesome pulled toward the entry gate. He probably wanted to sniff something more alive than glass. They approached the gate where Cadmus noticed an unobtrusive sign warning “Rationals Only”. “What could be the risk?” he thought to himself. I can see the whole park. “This is ridiculous,” he persuaded himself. Lonesome looked up at him expectantly. The couple on the bench didn’t seem to be paying attention to them. He opened the gate and stepped inside with the dagu.
Nothing happened with his first step but the second step was … Suddenly he found himself falling, flailing his arms wildly, and someone else inside him was howling insanely. He saw Lonesome standing on the edge of a precipice high above him smaller and smaller cautiously peeking down over the edge at him. The flowers, trees, and bench with the couple sitting at an impossible angle flashed past him. He was falling towards a tall tree at the end of the path. The sky around him was quickly turning dark cobalt and the planet above filled his entire sky. His howling became thinner and softer, more distant. He couldn’t breathe anymore. His eyes felt like they were going to pop out and his lungs were bursting. “Goodbye my heart” were the last words he managed to think.
Finally, mercifully, he blacked out …
Cadmus opened his right eye just a slit. He saw a tall blue woman bending over him. A slice of sharp pain slashed through his chest and stomach. He winced and lost consciousness.
Sometime later, he couldn’t tell how long, he heard a detached voice asking someone, “how do you feel?”
He opened his right eye and then his left. The young Rational couple he had seen at the park was standing near him. He hadn’t realized before how tall they were.
“Where’s … Lonesome?” he asked with obvious concern.
“If you mean the dagu,” the blue man answered, “he’s right here beside your bed.”
Cadmus tried to move his head to the right to see for himself but the pain in his neck was intense. He inched his right hand toward the side of his bed and felt Lonesome’s cool damp nose and warm breath nuzzle his hand.
The words came to him slowly, as if from a great distance. “What … happened … to … me?” he asked.
They looked at each other and the woman softly explained, “You entered a place you shouldn’t have entered, failed to see the hyper-bridge, and fell down a worm hole.”
“We have so many of these holes around here and I’ve told the others we should put doors over them or plug them up,” the young man interrupted. “This one isn’t good for much besides providing a local gravitational lens vector to view the surface of the planet 3 below.”
“Galen,” she stopped her partner, “he is not concerned about that. Turning back to Cadmus she continued, “and you died.”
Cadmus turned pale and stuttered, “Do … you … mean I’m dead?”
“No,” she corrected him, “I said you died. Nothing is forever and nothing is immutable. Death is just another state that organic molecules can transition to or from at the cellular level.”
“I … don’t understand,” Cadmus began to find his voice.
She went on, “Galen and I picked you up from where you fell and carried you back to our cave, as it was closer than the hospital …”
Galen interrupted again, “… and, besides that, Remi here is just as good as any of our hospital doctors.”
Remi went on modestly, “it’s a simple enough procedure. Everything natural in the universe exists symmetrically in all dimensions, the ones you know about and can sense as well as all the higher dimensions. Only Sapien-made things are three dimensional because you can’t make what you don’t know, but your natural Sapien bodies are all-dimensional.”
“I still don’t follow you,” Cadmus confessed. “I don’t know much about this higher dimensional stuff. Most of us just know how to use the hyper-space vectors that you and the robots created. None of us have the technology to build this.”
Remi said, “The fact is you were in pretty bad shape when we found you. We had to take you home, reprint some of your internal organs, get your cells to stop dying off and start living again, and insert a codec or two and a few transducers … oh, yes, and stitch up the rupture in your local temporal dimensions.”
“I thought of it,” Galen said proudly.
“Sounds really simple,” Cadmus said somewhat sarcastically.
Remi smiled at Cadmus. “I was joking about stitching up your time. There’s no such thing as time. So how do you feel?” she asked once more.
“Like I fell off a cliff,” he smiled back. “I guess Lonesome and I will pay better attention to the signs from now on. What about the hotel?” he asked.
Galen answered, “We called them, told them what had happened, and that you would be staying with us until you felt better, Cadmus.”
“Would you prefer us to take you to a hospital?” Remi asked. “You and your dagu are welcome to stay with us until you recover.”
Cadmus wasn’t really sure what he should do under the circumstances. Should he politely refuse them? On the other hand, it might be an interesting experience in his otherwise inconsequential life. “If it’s really not too much trouble,” he tried to remember to smile, “I’d prefer to stay with you here until I can get back on my feet and get around a little.”
Time, rather the illusion of it, lapped at the shores of higher order space, coming tantalizingly close but never quite crossing the threshold. There were no clocks on the walls of his room. Cadmus had forgotten to buy a hyper-dimensional watch at the store where he bought his new clothes and backpack on the orbiting terminal above 3. He was probably still wearing his old 3-D watch but he couldn’t see it or feel it. Time passed or it didn’t pass. He had no way of knowing for sure.
Lonesome seemed to get along just fine with Galen. He took the dagu with him on long walks. Remi put his favorite synthetic meat in a bowl for him to eat every day. They also brought Cadmus his meals and tea when he was strong enough to sit up in bed.
One day the morning sunlight warmed his eyelids and when he opened them he felt strong enough to try getting up without calling for help. He sat up, swung his legs slowly over the side of his bed onto the cool glass floor. He stood up and managed to lock his knees against the wobbliness. He took a few steps toward the doorway, his arms held out at his sides trying to keep his balance. Negotiating the doorway, he turned left and walked slowly down the hallway with his hand sliding along the glass wall. He came to another open doorway and glanced in.
Remi was standing in front of a mirror brushing her long thick blue hair, her naked body wet. Cadmus snapped his eyes around in front of him and continued walking forward, the wobbliness in his knees nearly uncontrollable. He had seen her back and front, and she just kept on brushing her hair. He almost fainted.
He reached another open doorway and saw that it opened onto a kitchen. Cadmus sat down at the table and looked around him. There was no clock in this room either.
Remi walked into the kitchen dressed in her usual one-piece suit, her hair tied in a simple knot from which the rest of it flowed loosely down her back.
There was no way in God’s galaxy that she had not seen him looking at her when he had passed her bedroom in the hallway and yet she behaved as though nothing had happened. “Would you care for some tea?” she asked.
“Yes please,” he said. He watched her run the water into a kettle, place the kettle on a metal square until it began to whistle. Then she spooned some tea leaves from a jar into two glass cups and poured the steaming water into the cups, turning the water brownish green and dissolving the leaves. Cadmus made a mental note on how to make oneself tea in this dimension for future reference. It seemed so quaint but the tea tasted good. She sipped her tea too.
“May I ask you a question?” he broke the silence after a while.
“Certainly,” she answered looking into his eyes.
“How do you know enough about my anatomy to operate on me?”
“We are not so different, you and I. We have the same anatomy as you, except that our skin and hair are blue and we lack amygdalae.”
“I guess you know more about my anatomy than I do. What are my amygdalae for?”
“They are connected to your sensory systems, provide your basic emotional responses, and aggregate and index your long-term memories.”
“Do we need them?”
“Apparently you do.”
“How do you get along without them?”
“Our sensory systems connect directly to our prefrontal cortex, which aggregates and indexes our long- and short-term memories. We have emotions too, but they are processed in our prefrontal cortex.”
“Is that what makes you so smart?”
“I don’t think it makes us smarter than you but it does make us more rational, our motor responses are thirty percent faster than yours, and we are able to see things you can’t see.”
“Like higher order dimensions?”
“Yes, like those.”
“Why is that?”
“Preconceived structures in your brains prevent you from seeing all there is.”
There was a soft swishing sound from the hallway and Lonesome came bounding into the kitchen. He nuzzled Cadmus affectionately and stood up to him with his front paws on his shoulders. Galen walked into the kitchen a few moments later, saying “I’m glad to see you up and about.”
Cadmus swallowed his guilt about seeing Remi naked and asked Galen, “Where did you and Lonesome go?”
“Lonesome led the way. You’ll have to ask him. Anyway you’re welcome to join us whenever you’re up to it.”
Galen ran some water into the kettle, made himself a cup of tea, and sat down at the table with Remi and Cadmus while Lonesome lay at his companion’s feet.
Kalyra stood naked in front of the mirror of their bedroom brushing her thick long black hair while he lay on their bed watching her intently. He loved when she would do that just before she’d lay down next to him. He wondered whether there was a mathematical function that expressed the exquisiteness of her geometry. Cadmus shivered in anticipation. She would brush slowly, repeatedly, until the soft light danced and shimmered in the blackness of her hair. When she was done she put the brush in its place on the table in front of the mirror and turned around to face him. He looked up at her dark brown eyes, the pronounced cheek bones, and her inviting lips puckered up in a kiss. He couldn’t breathe, she was so proudly beautiful. He made a space for her to lie down. She turned off the light and lay down beside him carefully, tentatively. He felt the full and warm volume of her breasts against his chest. He kissed her mouth, then her cheeks, and then her eye lids, her ear lobes, and neck. He kissed her breasts, first one and then the other. He kissed her soft belly. The room was now bathed in some sort of ambient light. Her skin was so blue it was almost black. Kaly’s face had changed into Remi’s face. When he entered her they were so entangled, legs and legs, arms and arms, that he had no sense of where his body ended and hers began, that he was inside her and she was inside him, that he was obliterated in an explosion of …
He woke up. He felt the wetness between his legs. Lonesome was snoring in his sleep on the floor beside his bed. He got up and walked into the shower to clean himself and clear his head of the dream that made him wince in guilt when he remembered it. Is this how I repay the generosity of my hosts? He thought to himself. Is this how I honor Kaly’s memory?
Cadmus tried to shake the thoughts and memories from his head. He dried himself and dressed.
He walked out of the room, keeping his eyes straight ahead of him until he reached the kitchen. Galen was sitting at the table sipping a cup of tea and reading the morning news as it flashed across the table surface. He looked up and saw Cadmus standing there.
“Would you like a cup tea?” he asked.
“Yes, that would be nice.”
“Would you like some fruit with that? It is fresh from our garden and will just take a moment to prepare.”
“I’d like that as well, thank you.”
Cadmus ate and sipped his tea while Galen continued reading the news.
Lonesome came into the kitchen, walked over to his food bowl, and began nibbling at it. Then he licked at the water bowl.
When Cadmus had finished his tea and fruit, Galen asked him whether he felt up for a walk with Lonesome and him. He said yes, he’d enjoy that.
They walked down the path to where the steps led down the valley into the fields. The sky above them was dark blue almost to the point of being violet. The sun was warm but the air was cool and refreshing in the shade of the orchard they were walking through.
Galen broke the silence. “Don’t feel so guilty about that dream you had last night. We don’t have doors in any of the rooms and we’re not very modest when we are at home. Remi is beautiful, isn’t she?”
“How do you know what I dreamt?” Cadmus asked. His knees began to shake. “Do you know my thoughts?”
“As a matter of fact, yes,” he laughed. “How do you think we’ve been communicating together? We project our thoughts into your mind and you think of how you want to respond and speak. We sense all they ways you think of responding and hear what you decide to say.”
“I feel so embarrassed about what I dreamt of Remi.”
“You can’t direct your thoughts any more than you might put a rope around the wind. Your mind will think whatever is possible for you to think. Consciousness is quantum after all. It’s what you do about your thoughts that is important.”
Lonesome sniffed a bush beside the path and lifted his hind leg to release his water.
“Remi reminded me of my wife, Kaly, I guess.”
They went on many walks together over the coming days and weeks, sometimes with Galen and sometimes with Remi. Lonesome would lead the way with his meandering path. Cadmus felt like the paths and sites around their cave, the hills, and valleys were becoming more and more familiar to him, but he was warned that the local topology could change without warning and his sense of space and time couldn’t deal with it.
He took their word for it and let them walk him around like a blind man being helped across a busy street. Remi had told him that all of his senses were limited, not just his vision. His perceptors, that was what she called his eyes, ears, tactiles, taste buds, and olefactors, were capable of perceiving in all dimensions but the higher order conceptors were only capable of creating a worldview of three spatial dimensions and a linear temporal dimension. Those were Remi’s words as he remembered them afterwards. He might have gotten some of the terminology mixed up but he thought he understood the idea.
“How do you and Galen see things?” Cadmus asked Remi one day in the kitchen over a cup of tea.
“Would you be able to explain what it’s like to see color to someone who has never seen color before?” she asked. “Or what it’s like to see at all for someone who has never seen? Or to imagine the second-order spaces of a hypercube perpendicular to its first-order space?”
“You lost me at the last example.”
“I’ll try to explain it to you with an analogy more familiar to you.”
“This ought to be good,” Galen walked into the kitchen, poured himself a cup of tea, and sat down at the table.
“When we focus our conceptors on a particular volume of space we conceive it like you do, but when we unfocus we conceive it differently.”
“How so?” Cadmus asked. When he unfocused, things just got blurry.
“Our unfocused conception allows us to see the inside of you like we and you see the outside of each other. We see where you’ve been and who you were all the way to the beginning of you and where you’ll be and who you’ll be all the way to your end. We hear everything you think and say, everything you’ve thought and said, and everything you’ll think and say.”
“But how do you know what I’m going to say or think before I know it?” he asked.
“Because that is how you think and speak, all at once. That is how you act, all at once. You think everything happens in linear time, one thing at a time. That’s your worldview.”
“So what is your worldview?”
“Everything that is possible is inevitable and everything that exists existed since the beginning and will exist until the end.”
Cadmus couldn’t really understand how a worldview like that was possible, but Remi’s words somehow gave him comfort that Kaly and Lonesome might be around in one form or another until the end of the universe. Maybe Cadmus too.
Lonesome was lying in the corner of his room, conserving his energy, while Cadmus was getting the few contents of his backpack together for the trip back home. He had enjoyed his recuperation with Remi and Galen, it had been most interesting, but now he was ready to return to Kaly’s memories on his home moon of 4g, a little wiser but also a little humbler about what he knew and what he didn’t know.
“We called ahead at your hotel to tell them you’d be checking out today. They said you’d only be charged for the one day,” Remi said when Cadmus walked into the kitchen with his backpack. “We also called the terminal to let them know you’d be departing and that you’d need a tug to retrieve your ship from long-term parking.”
“Thanks Remi,” he said.
“Do you want anything to eat or drink before you go,” Galen asked.
“We’re just a few moments’ walk from the garden and the hotel.”
Cadmus whistled to Lonesome who came bounding into the kitchen looking for his water bowl.
They left the cave and strolled up the path to the stand of trees on the ledge overlooking the valley and backing into the public garden between the two hotels. Cadmus never realized just how close the cave had been to the garden and hotels. Perhaps their cave had been in a higher—order dimension and he hadn’t been aware of it.
They stopped at the trees and looked out over the valley below. They felt a pleasant breeze wend through their clothing.
“I almost forgot to ask you both about a dark moon I passed on my way into the 3 system, 3b I think,” Cadmus broke the silence among them. “Can you tell me any more about it than the little I remember from what we were taught in our schools?”
“What were you taught?”
“That 3b had been inhabited by humans who had destroyed their moon, turning it into a cinder and that there were no artifacts or evidence of their existence.”
“Actually there were.”
“What do you mean?”
“We were there,” Remi answered. “Well, not Galen and I. My great grandparents, Lem and Yani, were born there.” Remi told Cadmus about the Lem’s and Yani’s Sapien parents, about the mutation, caused by working in the cobalt mines, that caused their amygdalae to disappear and their neurons to reroute directly into their prefrontal cortexes. The mutation also turned their skins blue.
The Sapiens on 3b believed the blue babies were abominations in the eyes of their god and killed all the ones they could get their hands on. A few Sapien parents, like Evanor and Thort, Lem’s parents, and Kivo and Thana, Yani’s parents, tried to protect their children from the hatred of the others. As it turned out, the children had certain attributes that proved advantageous so that the children ended up protecting their parents.
“The Sapiens called us Rats, for Rationals,” Remi continued. “My great grandmother, Yani, called the Sapiens Saps, probably a childish means of dealing with their hateful name calling, but the names caught on and stuck.
The Rationals tried to get away from the Sapiens, made their way to an uncharted area of 3b, and created a refuge for themselves in a fertile area with many natural defenses. The Sapiens organized an army with rifles, canons, and balloons and tried their best to exterminate the Rationals.
“After failing to crush us and losing many soldiers in the process,” Remi said, “they developed a cobalt bomb and shot it from a magnetic canon into the Refuge.”
Lem and the rest of the Rationals at the refuge saw it coming long before it was even built and they built a hyper-space tunnel between their Refuge on 3b and the unpopulated moon of 3a. It was rather primitive but effective. By the time the bomb was launched at the Refuge, the last Rational had left 3b, sealing the tunnel door shut.
As the Rationals had predicted, or seen depending on who was telling the story, the cobalt bomb set off a chain reaction of explosions that burnt the atmosphere and the surface of 3b, along with all the Sapiens.
“So apparently you and I have common roots,” Cadmus said after a while. “Do either of you have any idea where our common species came from?”
Galen had been quiet all this time but now he spoke up. “That’s a bit of a problem. As you might well know, Sapiens weren’t very reliable historians so much of the history predating the earliest Church records was attributed to stories and myths, but it is rumored that the Sapiens were deposited in this part of the Draco galaxy by robots who brought them along with them from a planet called Earth2 somewhere in the Andromeda galaxy. The robots called them humans. The robots kept very good records but unfortunately they were written in a language called ML1, which nobody living today can decipher.”
Cadmus asked, “What happened to the robots?”
“They were all destroyed by some sort of digital virus,” Galen answered.
“And if there was an Earth2, what happened to Earth?”
“There may or may not have been a planet called Earth in a galaxy called the Milky Way that collided with Andromeda a long time ago,” Galen suggested.
Cadmus had no more questions he wanted to ask.
They walked through the park, Lonesome getting in some last-minute sniffing. Remi held his arm as they negotiated the hyper-bridge over the chasm near the entrance gate.
At the hotel entrance, Cadmus hugged Galen and Remi, and thanked them for saving his life and taking such good care of Lonesome and him. They wished him a safe journey back home. He turned to the door but then something made him stop and turn around quickly, but they were gone already.
He walked through the doors with Lonesome up to the desk.
“I trust your time with us was interesting,” the clerk at the check-out counter asked.
“Yes,” he replied, “it certainly was.”
“Please take your seats in those chairs over there and make sure to buckle your seatbelts and those of your dagu,” she said as though he were an experienced interdimensional traveler. “When you are ready, just press the button on your arm rest.”
After buckling Lonesome into his chair and then buckling himself in, he pressed the button, closing his eyes. Cadmus felt his body lurching backwards.
He opened his eyes and saw the shuttle through the trees. He unbuckled himself and then Lonesome who jumped down and started barking at a flutterby that had landed on his nose.
They walked through the trees toward the shuttle. An attendant asked him whether he had a reservation for the flight to the terminal.
Cadmus said yes he thought so and fumbled around in his backpack looking for the papers.
“Don’t worry sir,” the attendant said kindly, “somebody called ahead and made arrangements for you both.”
Cadmus thanked her and they climbed into the shuttle, taking their seats. He checked to make sure there were no passengers sitting next to Lonesome. He fastened his dagu’s seatbelt and then his own, looking around the shuttle cabin and then looked at each of the safety signs. Some were written in Draco.763 Standard and some were written in what he assumed to be ML1. They all had MASER audio streams directed at anyone who looked directly at a sign. They’d get their safety message to you one way or another.
The steps retracted back up into the shuttle underside and locked down. There was a faint whistle of air and a sense of pressure against his eardrums. A female voice told the passengers the shuttle would be taking off momentarily.
Lonesome barked twice but before Cadmus could shush him, the shuttle’s engines began their own roaring and the shuttle lifted above the tree line. The ground beneath slowly became a lush green quilt of beauty interspersed by wisps of clouds. Soon the blue canopy of 3a darkened into a black night studded with stars. He looked out the window and saw the lovely blue-green moon roll to the side. A small point became brighter and larger, turning slowly into the Draco.763.3 Terminal.
The shuttle adjusted attitude and approached its assigned docking port. He barely felt the press-relax-lock between the shuttle and the Terminal port. A few moments later there was a sound of air exchanged between the shuttle and the Terminal port and then the portal door opened. The Terminal air smelled slightly stale. He frowned without thinking about it and unlocked his seatbelt and that of Lonesome who jumped off his seat and waited for Cadmus to follow him.
They came out through Gate 138A and followed the arrows as did their fellow shuttle passengers and the merging passengers from other shuttles arriving from other sectors on 3a.
Cadmus followed the arrow to the long-term parking pick-up spoke. When he arrived, he stopped in front of a vacant screen. A pleasant looking Rational avatar appeared on the screen and asked how she could be of assistance.
“I want to go back home to Draco.763.4g. I need my ship.”
“Please prepare for DNA spectral analysis flash identification.”
After the flash the avatar told him his ship was waiting for him at Gate 28M. He thanked the avatar who smiled and then the screen was blank again. He followed the arrows to Gate 28M.
When Cadmus and Lonesome arrived at the gate he was flashed again. The gate portal opened and they stepped into their ship, humble but home for the next two hundred and seventy days. Lonesome ran to his favorite corner beside the rocking chair.
He checked the consoles and saw that his ship had been topped up and restocked, even Lonesome’s favorite synthetic meats.
The rocker and folding table were where he left them, next to the picture window. The calendar and checklist were still taped to the wall. Most importantly the photo of Kaly was still there on the window ledge. He picked it up, lost in thought, still married to her memory, in spite of his imaginary transgression during the shock of seeing Remi naked that one time.
He put the photograph back on the window ledge. He walked over to the consoles, sat down, and clicked the engine warm-up sequence. The mechanical joints tensed up and the portal lock released them. The ship floated back and the engines whirred with a soft throbbing sound. The ship was now moving steadily backward in a straight line. The Terminal moved away, still looming large in front of them, but a little less so than before.
When the ship had reached a safe distance from the Terminal, it turned away slowly, and then stopped, waiting for permission to proceed. After a few moments the command feed started to display on the running log and the ship’s auto-response answered back.
His ship began to move, slowly at first, then picking up speed, maneuvering around the terminal until it had a clear vector to his home planet Draco.763.4, at which point it adjusted attitude once more.
He felt the expected mechanical shiver of his craft as the massive solar sails unfolded and spread out to catch the faint radiation from Draco.763. The engines quieted down somewhat.
Cadmus settled down for the long trip home. He looked at his checklist to check what there was to do.
Lonesome was snoring beside him.
Who weeps for Cadmus?
Cadmus pulled into his usual port on the humble Terminal of Draco.763.4. After sweeping the floors of their living quarters, collecting the trash and garbage, and gathering up his personal things into his old 3D backpack, he looked around the cabin to make sure he hadn’t missed anything. He picked up the picture of Kaly from the ledge of the picture window and put it lovingly into his backpack so that it wouldn’t be scratched or crushed.
Lonesome bounded off to the elimination room and after a few moments raced ahead of Cadmus to the portal door.
Cadmus set the systems to power down in five minutes. He looked around the cabin one more time and opened the portal door. The dagu jumped through the door followed by his good friend.
4 Terminal was not nearly as big as 3 and there was not nearly as much passenger traffic. The signs displayed only Standard and the avatars on the screens were friendly looking Sapiens. He knew the way to Entry Control. There was no central hub in this terminal so he just had to walk along the outer rim and would eventually run into it.
When he got to Entry Control he found an available screen. The avatar who appeared on the screen looked familiar. “Hello Cadmus,” the avatar said. “How was your trip?”
“Fine,” Cadmus answered.
“Will you be returning your ship to us now?”
“Yes thank you.”
“Will you need a shuttle down to 4g?”
“Yes, for my dagu and me.”
“You’ll be leaving from Gate 29 in one hour.”
“Don’t you need to scan my dagu and me?”
“No, that won’t be necessary. We’ve seen you around.”
Cadmus and Lonesome arrived at Gate 29 well before the shuttle. When it finally arrived after some delays (there had been a snow storm in one of the sectors), they stood in line and filed aboard. The shuttle was half empty so Cadmus found a seat half way between two people with the largest space between them. His dagu preferred to lay down at his feet. Cadmus hoped the flight attendant wouldn’t make a fuss about that.
There was an announcement that the portal door would be shut and people should take their seats. The attendant demonstrated some of the safety procedures in case we miss the flight window and skip off the atmosphere into space or come in at too sharp an angle and burn up in the atmosphere.
The door was shut and the shuttle detached from the terminal, drifting away from the portal slowly. The retros fired briefly and turned off. The shuttle glided all the way into orbital insertion around 4g.
When the shuttle finally entered the upper layer of atmosphere it began to vibrate and shake. When it hit the middle layers it suddenly plummeted, soared up, and plummeted again.
The shuttle ignited the retros solidly when they entered the lower layers and arrived safe and sound at their first destination. A few passengers filed out of the shuttle.
The shuttle lifted off and flew to another sector and another sector, at each destination more passengers filed off, until only Cadmus and Lonesome were left.
Finally, the shuttle landed in an open field near an intersection of two long and narrow roads. Cadmus thanked the flight attendant and stepped gingerly out of the cabin onto the grassy meadow, with Lonesome jumping out after him. They walked quickly off the landing pad toward the road.
The shuttle thrusters rumbled rising slowly into the air. He followed it with his hand shading his eyes like a salute. Soon it was lost in the clouds and the rumbling was replaced by silence.
They stood by the side of the road waiting for someone to stop and give them a ride home. Finally an old truck pulled off the road near them. The farmer asked Cadmus where they were heading.
“Up the road by the lake.”
“Hop in. Your dagu can ride in the open bed in back.”
“If you don’t mind, I’ll ride in back with him. He wouldn’t climb in otherwise.”
Cadmus pulled down the door flat against the chains and Lonesome jumped up onto the flat door into the bed. Cadmus climbed up into the bed and pulled shut the door. The truck started to move forward. The farmer stopped at the stop sign, looked both ways twice, and the truck continued up the road toward the mountains.
When they reached the large lake, Cadmus tapped the rear window of the driver’s cabin and mouthed the word “stop”.
The farmer slowed down and pulled over to the side of the road. Cadmus and Lonesome jumped down. He waved at the farmer’s face in the side mirror. The farmer’s mouth twitched slightly and the truck moved on.
They walked through the field to the edge of the lake and over to a ram-shackle pier, careful to avoid the missing planks. He looked over the edge and found his faithful row boat tied to one of the pile logs. They walked carefully down the stairs to the platform and climbed into the boat. He loosened the thick knots and pulled the rope free of the pile.
He let the boat drift away from the pier and mounted the oars. He dipped the tips of the oars into the lapping lake water and started to row toward the small island in the center of the lake.
When Cadmus reached the island he ran the boat onto the grassy shore. It was late afternoon by now. Lonesome jumped out of the boat onto the grass. He pushed an oar into the mud until the side of the boat was flush with the shore and stepped out onto the lush grasses. Lonesome ran up the hill to the porch that ran around the log cabin. Cadmus followed his dagu to the door of the cabin. He pulled a key out of the planter near the door and opened the door with it.
He opened the window shutters to let in some light and air. The air inside the cabin was stale and dusty but, otherwise, everything was pretty much as he had left it.
He rinsed out Lonesome’s dusty water bowl and pored a helping of kibble into his food bowl.
He took the picture of Kaly out of his backpack and set it, just so, on the window sill.
That was when he heard a strange bleeping noise coming from his backpack. He rummaged through the pack until he lifted out a strange looking device that seemed to be making that unfamiliar noise. There was a round button flashing green on and off.
He pressed the green flashing button and lifted the device to his ear.
“Hello?” he said into the thing.
He heard a vaguely familiar voice come from deep inside the thing in his hand. “Hello, is that Cadmus? Cadmus? It’s me, Galen. Please say something!”
“Hi Galen, it’s me, Cadmus. I hear your voice but what the hell is this thing in my hand?”
“It’s an STU. I sent it to you through the q-foam. It has a Q-bit Entanglement Box embedded in it so we can speak across dimensions.”
“I have no idea what you are talking about. Where are you? How’s Remi?”
“We are at home where you left us two hundred and seventy days ago. We’re ok in this timeframe but I need to talk to you.”
“Do you want me to come back to you? I just got home.”
“No, you would take too long to get here. I’ll come to you.”
“Really? That would be great! When do you think you’d be able to come?”
“Yes.” Galen’s voice came from behind. Cadmus turned suddenly and saw Galen sitting on his chair by the door.
“How long have you been sitting in that chair Galen?”
“I just arrived a few seconds ago.”
“How did you come so quickly?”
“In hyperspace we’re nearly next door neighbors.”
“Can I get you something?”
“A cup of coffee would be nice.”
Cadmus walked into his three-dimensional kitchen and rummaged around his cabinets looking for an unopened can of coffee and some cups while Lonesome nosed Galen’s knee and allowed himself to be petted.
He put water in the kettle and turned on the magnetic loop. The water boiled into a whistle, dying down as he poured the steaming water into the coffee grounds in each cup.
Cadmus brought the cups into the living room, handed one to Galen, who was standing looking at the pictures of Kaly on the wall.
“That’s my wife, Kaly, just after we married. As you can see, we were very young then.”
“She is beautiful.”
“This is Kaly when we vacationed at Lake Reflection in Sector 12. We were celebrating our first anniversary. Here she is just before we went to a concert. They were playing Forlorn Fugue that night. Here she is when Lonesome was a pup. We had just found him and she asked whether we could keep him.”
Lonesome’s right ear perked and he sniffed in the direction of the picture Cadmus had pointed.
“She is a lovely woman.”
“This is a picture of Kaly a few months before she … died. She wouldn’t let me take any more pictures of her like that.”
“She thought she wasn’t very attractive when she was dying. She was to me but she didn’t feel that way to herself. I told her the camera only photographed her outside herself and she was still beautiful on the outside. I don’t feel very beautiful inside, she had said. But you are, I told her. The camera can’t see that, but I can. Anyway she told me I was going blind and I should get my eyes checked. That and I wasn’t to photograph her anymore.”
“You must have loved her very much.”
They finished their coffee and both put the empty cups on the side table.
“Yes. Please don’t misunderstand me Galen. I’m really glad to see you. You and Remi saved my life and nursed me back to health; however, I’m most curious what couldn’t wait another two hundred and seventy days or so to talk about?”
“Let’s go for a walk. I’d love to see your beautiful island.”
Cadmus’ cabin was the only one on the island. When the door opened, Lonesome leaped through and ran ahead of them over the familiar paths he loved so much. The two men ambled down one of the paths along the edge of the lake. There was a light breeze caressing them. At least that was how Cadmus felt.
The late afternoon was turning into evening over the mountains to the south. There was no hurry so they walked in silence awhile. The dagu was nowhere in sight but he knew the way home.
“I dabble in astronomy,” Galen began. “I suppose you’d call it a hobby. I do other things too, when they need to be done, but this is what most interests me.”
“I like to look at the stars too,” Cadmus said.
“We built ‘observers’ or robotic perceivers connected with trailing Q-bit Entanglement Boxes throughout the universe. The observers allow us to observe the universe in each of the eleven dimensions all the way to each event horizon.”
“To obtain a composite view of our universe.”
“What’s interesting are the cross-section snapshots we get every yocto-second at a resolution of 1.6 x 10−35th of a meter. The snapshot shows us what is happening and what has changed in the universe in any given time slice.”
“A yocto-second? What the hell is that?”
“It’s 10-24th of a second.”
“That’s an awful lot of data.”
“Yes, we need another universe just to store it.”
“So what do you do with all this data?”
“We usually discard it after examining it, if it’s not very interesting.”
“So did you find anything interesting?” Cadmus asked.
Galen paused and then continued, “I had fallen a bit behind, two or three time slices. I wanted to look at them before discarding them. That’s when I noticed something unusual.”
“What could be unusual in our universe?” Cadmus quipped sarcastically.
“We saw major multi-hyper-cubes near the horizon disappearing. They were there and suddenly they were not anymore. The size of each multi-hyper-cubic section was roughly the size of a galaxy containing a hundred billion stars. These cubes have been disappearing at an alarming rate.”
“So what? Even I know that matter can come into contact with anti-matter or be sucked into a black hole and disappear, and exotic matter and energy can cancel out baryonic matter and energy.”
“Yes, but although these disappearances were occurring in the far future, major sections of our future were also disappearing at an alarming rate. We may run out of future before we run out of space.
“Some of us think that the hyper-cubic disappearances might be naturally occurring phenomena, that there is something fundamentally wrong with our universe, while others think that the disappearances might be caused by an alien civilization possessing an advanced technology that it has weaponized. If the second conjecture proves to be correct, we may be up against a force far greater even than us.
“Let’s call them Future Rationals or Frats for the sake of discussion. These Frats might very well come from the oldest parts of our universe.”
“Would that be where the Big Bang occurred?”
“That depends. If there was a big bang, then reason dictates that the oldest parts would be in the outermost shell of the universe. If there wasn’t a big bang then, like most galaxies, the oldest parts would be in the center of the universe. Besides, there should have been a trace left in the substrata.”
“Reality is hierarchical. All matter and energy, exotic or baryonic, map onto a substratum, which is the fabric of space-time.”
“Every school-age child knows that.”
“You also know that the fabric of space-time can be distorted by massive matter and energy. That means that the fabric of space-time is also made of something. Do you know what?”
“We never learned that in school.”
“It’s made of fibers of vibrating virtual particles. The names are unimportant. These virtual particles map onto a more fundamental substratum, the field of consciousness. Time is the consciousness of time and space is the consciousness of space. All else is information. The field of consciousness underpins our universe.”
“This is getting a little too abstract for me.”
“I was afraid of that. I’ll try to make it more concrete for you. Parts of the universe are becoming unconscious.”
It was night now. The stars were twinkling, most of them anyway. Cadmus wondered whether any of them had stopped twinkling since the last time he looked. He wondered whether he would have noticed.
“So what? I mean the universe is infinite. You can subtract big clumps from it and it’ll still be infinite.”
“It’s not infinite,” Galen said quietly.
“Well, you can still subtract big clumps from it and there will still be a lot of it.”
“The problem is that someone or something may be causing this and it’s not one of us. We don’t have the technology or the means.”
“So you’re not guilty.”
“You still don’t get it. Whoever is doing it may be orders of magnitude more powerful than we are. It appears they are attempting to annihilate everything through an attack on the substrata.”
They could hear the water lapping against the pier.
Cadmus was silent for a while. He looked up the hill instinctively and saw the cabin dark against the night sky. 4 should be coming up in the north soon and make everything a ghostly pale color. Galen was nearly invisible against the night even though they were standing close to each other.
“Your story has given me an appetite,” Cadmus said. “I had just gotten home when you called and arrived. I don’t know what’s in the pantry that’s edible, but why don’t I check and cook us up something to eat?”
“Sounds good to me,” Galen answered.
As they walked up the hill Draco.763.4 was just starting to come up over the craggy mountains to the north casting a bluish white light on the roof of the solitary cabin. There was a dark pile of something on the porch. Cadmus rebuked himself for not thinking to turn on the porchlight when they left.
The pile turned out to be Lonesome on the porch waiting for them to come home. Cadmus stepped carefully around the dagu, opened the front door, and felt around for a light switch in the darkness. Galen sat down beside Lonesome and looked up at the planet rise as it began to fill the night sky.
Cadmus found some powdered eggs that didn’t smell too bad. He also found some powdered soup. He couldn’t read the label on the can and hoped it wouldn’t make them sick. He poured some kibble into one bowl and water into another bowl for Lonesome.
After some time Cadmus came out to the porch carrying a tray with two plates of scrambled eggs, two cups of soup, napkins, and forks. He set the tray down beside Galen and sat down on the other side of the tray.
They ate silently, looking up from time to time at the lovely but lethal planet that seemed close enough to reach up and touch. This thought passed through both their minds, not because Galen shared Cadmus’ way of thinking about things but because all Cadmus’ thoughts passed through Galen’s mind like a nebula near a black hole.
“I would imagine you have discussed these findings and conjectures with your peers,” Cadmus continued their thread.
“Yes, of course.”
“So what did your peers conclude?”
“Our peers concluded that our enemy may be more than we are capable of dealing with.”
“Why? There are a lot of you. If you put your minds together, you should be able to come up with a strategy to defeat these creatures.”
“We know our limitations.”
“You have limitations?”
“What for instance?”
“We are rational to a fault.”
“What could be the fault of rationality?”
“That it is based on the non-rational.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Rationality is the most economical, straight-forward, simplest, ethical, and aesthetical form of thought. If you want to assert something, however, that is neither totally trivial nor self-evident, you’re going to need a set of axioms underpinning your rational system of thought. Axioms are assertions that can’t be proven or questioned. Axioms are non-rational.”
“Can you speak a little more concretely so that I may follow you?”
“Imagine a rational system of thought is an edifice, a tall and vast structure, and its axioms are the ground on which the edifice stands.”
“Alright. I can see that.”
“If someone attacks an axiom upon which your rational system rests, the entire structure will collapse.”
“And you think our universe is rational and in danger of collapsing from an attack on its axioms?”
“No,” Galen said. “The universe and its physical substrata are under attack, and our ability to defend them from attack may be subverted by an attack on our axioms.”
“I see,” Cadmus said. But did he? It was all so confusing to him. Images were flying around his brain in circles. He began to feel queasy. Why had Galen come all this way to tell him these things? What could Cadmus possibly do about it? After all he was blind in all but three dimensions. Why him?
“Because you are irrational,” Galen said. “You would not be vulnerable to an attack which could incapacitate us. If we train you what to do, you could do it without thinking. We need you to come with us.”
“A two-species defense against a superior species?” Cadmus asked.
“No,” Galen answered, “a three-species defense.”
“Who is the third species?”
Galen reached over to scratch Lonesome between his ears and the dagu leaned into his hand.
Cadmus didn’t really understand what Galen had in mind for Lonesome but, since he never went anywhere without his dagu, he felt no need or inclination to ask.
“I really don’t see how we could be of any assistance to you,” Cadmus said to Galen. “I really don’t.”
Galen answered him matter-of-factly, “I don’t know why you finally agreed to come with me, although I’ll know as soon as you think of it, but I see across the three dimensions of time all the way to the event horizon and you and Lonesome join me in this journey.”
“You see me in the future?”
“You might say that.”
“I might not say it either,” Cadmus answered. He thought the future was the set of all things that hadn’t happened yet or maybe the set of all things that might happen.
“Time is just another set of coordinates in one or more dimensions, past, present, and future. The coordinates of time may be seen as easily as the coordinates of space if you have eyes in those dimensions. We are just a bunch of meandering vectors through volumes of space-time with beginnings and ends, and continuum in between.”
“That’s the way you see us?”
“Yes. Does that bother you?”
“Well, yes. So you see Lonesome and me meandering off with you?”
“Yes. That’s what I see.”
“So what happens to us? Do we survive? Do we beat the Frats?”
“I don’t know.”
“What? What do you mean you don’t know? I thought you said you could see into the future.”
“I can only see up to the event horizon. What happens to us beyond that is farther than I can see.”
“Farther than you can see?”
“Sight is linear but time is curved. None of us can see beyond the curves of time or space.”
“I wonder whether the Frats can see beyond the curves of time or space,” Cadmus said pessimistically.
“Yes, that is the question,” Galen agreed.
“So much for the element of surprise,” Cadmus offered hopelessly.
“We would not be able to surprise them, but you might.”
“When do we leave?”
“We already have.”
“Do you mean that I agreed to go?”
“Why did I agree?”
“Because you realized that the element of surprise confers a ten percent advantage for a short window of opportunity. Actually it’s only a five percent advantage.”
“Are you parked at the terminal? Shall I call us a shuttle?”
“No need. Just call Lonesome to come to you.”
Cadmus whistled through cupped hands. Lonesome came loping, ears flopping counter to his paws pulling down the hill.
“Can you lift up Lonesome and hold him in your arms?”
“Yes, at least I think I can.”
Cadmus bent down, put one arm under the dagu’s belly while his other arm wrapped around his flank, and tried to straighten up under Lonesome’s weight. Cadmus started to lose his balance.
Galen scooped them both up into his strong cobalt blue arms. “Close your eyes a moment,” he told a very surprised Cadmus who felt himself being flipped over. His arms thrust out instinctively trying to protect himself from the fall and Lonesome jumped out of his arms, pushing sharply against his chest, but when he opened his eyes, what Cadmus saw didn’t look anything like his island in the middle of the lake.
“Where are we?” Cadmus asked, “and what is that?”
“We’re still on your island but I had to flip you and your dagu bodily into a volume where my portal is,” Galen explained. “That structure over there is the portal.”
Galen led Cadmus over to the portal door while Lonesome tagged along behind sniffing the ground furiously. He put his hand on the door and it shimmered away. They walked through it into a large octagonal room.
The portal door shimmered closed and disappeared into the curved wall. The large windows on one side of the room were filled with strange constellations of stars Cadmus had never seen before. Through the windows on the other side, he saw a huge irregular structure where their sun, 763, should have been. It throbbed like a beating heart in shades of ultraviolet.
“What you’re looking at through that window is a Dyson hypersphere. We use it to power our portals and terminals in this solar system, and to conserve stellar fusion.”
After some time Cadmus turned away from the windows and began looking around the octagonal room they were in. “Why is the room so empty,” he asked his host.
“It’s not. You’ll see later. Anyway it’s time to get you and Lonesome suited up.”
“Yes. You first. Walk over to that scanner in the corner and remove your clothing.”
“Everything? My socks and underwear too?”
Cadmus did as he was told. After he had undressed the scanner powered on and moved around him slowly projecting a blue light against his skin. When it finished whatever it was doing to him, it produced a shiny blue suit through one of its orifices.
“Please put this on,” Galen requested. “It is a robotic exoskeleton programmed to allow you free movement through all eleven dimensions. You’ll be able to command it verbally or, eventually, by your thoughts. It is also designed to protect you from harm.”
“Thank you,” Cadmus said looking admiringly at his arms and legs. One of the walls opposite him turned into a mirror and he admired himself fully in it. “But how can I move through the upper dimensions if I can’t see where I’m going?”
“That’s what these are for,” Galen smiled and tossed some goggles over to Cadmus.
Somehow Cadmus managed to catch the goggles in his gloved hand.
“Those are all-dimensional,” Galen explained. “They allow you to perceive all dimensions but, since your brain can’t represent more than a three-dimensional volume, they project the upper-dimensional structures into a three-dimensional representation. It’s like shining a light through a three-dimensional wire sculpture onto a two-dimensional wall.”
Cadmus put the goggles on his head and over his eyes. At first he couldn’t see anything. Then it powered on. What he saw made him nearly lose his balance and fall. He saw a room full of structures he never could have imagined before. They were positioned at impossible angles that made him queasy to look at. His hands shot out against something, anything, to steady himself to keep upright, whatever that was anymore. He removed the goggles from his head and the room became empty and familiar again.
“You’ll have to get used to them,” Galen said kindly. “After a week or so, it’ll become second nature. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea for you to move around in the suit until you get used to the goggles.”
Cadmus looked around the empty room and saw a reclining chair by one of the windows. He couldn’t move. Then he remembered what Galen had said about the suit. He told the suit to walk over to the chair by the window. Halfway there he was able to walk just by thinking about it.
Just like moving around in my body, he thought.
He sat down tentatively in the chair and put on the goggles again. The things he saw went crazy again. He watched Galen walk over to one of the consoles and press some buttons. He looked over at Lonesome, who was looking up at him from a strange angle. He was panting and sniffing the air, but he was smiling. Galen came over to the dagu and asked him whether he was hungry. Lonesome looked up at him. Galen poured some kibble into a bowl in the corner by the scanner. While the dagu was eating, Galen powered on the scanner. Lonesome didn’t seem to pay attention to the scanner moving around him or to the blue light. After the scanner and Lonesome had finished what they were doing, the scanner spit out another suit, this one for Lonesome.
Galen wrapped the two pieces around Lonesome and zipped them together. Lonesome didn’t like the idea of his suit at first and wasn’t very cooperative, but soon he forgot about it and loped over to Cadmus, lying down by his best friend’s reclining chair.
Galen walked towards them and stooped down to slip the goggles over Lonesome’s head and eyes. The dagu raised his head and looked around, sniffing.
Cadmus watched Lonesome get up awkwardly, almost falling, and walk uncertainly over to the console and sniff around it. He remembered he hadn’t seen it before putting on his goggles.
He looked up at Galen, who was standing over him and smiling.
“I can see,” Cadmus said softly, “but I’m not sure I understand what I see.”
“Time,” Galen answered, “give yourself time.”
“That box of kibble is starting to look pretty good to me,” Cadmus said to whomever might be listening.
“Sorry,” Galen said, “I’ve been remiss. Just be patient a moment longer and I’ll fix something for us to eat and drink after I get us going. Besides, it’ll be better for you if your stomach is empty during the leap.”
“What should I do? Where should I be?”
“Just put your hand over Lonesome’s goggles and close your eyes.”
Cadmus did as he was told. At first nothing out of the ordinary happened. Then there was a crescendo of rumbling. He felt a vibration in the chair. Then he felt it in his skin, his muscles, his stomach, and his bones. It was as though somebody had reached inside him and pulled his internal organs down, up, or sideways – he couldn’t tell which direction. He opened his right eye, just a squint, and saw only whiteness out the window.
The pull on his innards diminished somewhat. The vibration lessened and the rumbling turned to silence. He opened his left eye and saw Galen puttering around in what looked like a kitchenette against one of the walls. He looked down at Lonesome who was panting and smiling, seemingly ready for anything. He removed his hand from the dagu’s goggles.
“What’s going on now?” Cadmus asked.
“I’m making us something to eat.”
“No, I meant what’s going on with the ship?”
“Oh. We’ve leapt off your moon, left 763, left Draco, and are traveling on a vector toward the center of the universe.”
“Didn’t you say the Frats might be in the opposite direction if there was a big bang?”
“Firstly, the big bang is not very likely because it’s a singleton. Secondly, if the Frats are not at the center of the universe then we’ll travel to the edge and try to find them there. Thirdly, it doesn’t matter where we think they are because they will find us by our intention.”
“So why didn’t we just stay put in my cabin in the middle of a rather picturesque lake or your cave?”
“Because that would not have broadcast our intention. Besides, we are only going where we went in our future, at least until we reach the event horizon.”
“So everything is determined in advance?”
“That’s the only rational conclusion.”
“Well, I don’t think that.”
“That’s why you and Lonesome are onboard.”
“And that’s why you don’t know what I’m going to think before I think it. So how do you know what I’m going to do in the future?”
“Do you think you can come to the table without any help?” Galen asked Cadmus.
“I’ll try.” Cadmus got up from the reclining chair tentatively and tried to think himself over to the table near the kitchenette. He walked unsteadily at first until he got the hang of it. He pulled out the chair and sat down.
Galen brought over a kettle of tea and bowl of fruit, laying it on the table. He put out plates, cups, and a loaf of bread. He sat down and poured tea for Cadmus and himself. “Consciousness and thought are not the same as action and physical being,” he answered. “Consciousness and thought are totipotent. They contain all possible states. Anything non-physical can develop from them. They are only limited by the structures through which they pass, structures which they create for themselves. Action and physical being are only multipotent at most and monopotent at least. They are limited by the structures of physicality, what you might call reality, at least the part of it you are aware of.”
“Don’t I have to think of doing something before I do it?” Cadmus asked through a mouth full of bread.
“Most of what you do, you do without thinking about it,” Galen answered. “You do it automatically, predictably.”
“But sometimes I think and then I act on that thought.”
“That’s what I’m banking on.”
After they finished eating Galen took Cadmus and Lonesome on a tour around the ship.
They walked up one hallway and passed the sleeping quarters. There were two hammocks suspended between walls in opposite corners of the room. There were a shower room and a personal service room for evacuating waste products. Up the hall was a simulation room and, beside that, an audio-visual communications room.
“After I give you the tour I promised Remi I’d give her a call.”
“Can you only call her from here?”
“No, I can call her from anywhere in the ship but the visuals are better in this room.”
“What is the simulation room for?”
“For exploring possibilities.”
They walked past an exercise room, a library, a music room, a storage room, and finally they came back to the main control bridge.
“Is that it?” Cadmus asked.
“No, there’s more downstairs.”
They walked down another hall past a huge engine room, a telecomm room, and a situation room. A little further down the hall they passed a closed door.
“What’s that room?” Cadmus asked.
“The war room,” Galen answered without embellishment.
Finally, they came back to the control bridge.
Cadmus tried to stifle a yawn. “What time is it?” he asked. He hadn’t seen a clock since he passed through the portal into the ship. He remembered he hadn’t seen a clock in Remi’s and Galen’s cave either.
“Time for you to get some sleep,” Galen smiled. “Besides, where we are, your question doesn’t make much sense.”
Galen walked Cadmus back to their sleeping quarters.
Lonesome was lying in his usual heap underneath one of the hammocks fast asleep.
“Should I take off my suit and goggles before I go to sleep?”
“No, leave them on in case you have to get up to go to the personal service room. You can take the suit and goggles off before you shower. Put them in the recycle bin before you step into the shower and they’ll be refreshed by the time you’re out. The molecules maintain their programming throughout the recycling.”
“Good night Galen.”
“Yes, I suppose.”
Cadmus lay down carefully in the hammock and turned off the bright lights, leaving only the soft ambient lights in the base boards. Soon they were snoring a soft duet.
The ship accelerated two orders of magnitude faster than the speed of light, leaving behind the local cluster of galaxies, known as the Draconian super cluster, and the largest artificial structure in this part of the universe.
If anyone had been watching this pin-point speck of a ship from afar, he would have surmised that its intention was lonely but brave.
Cadmus woke up twice during his first sleeping period. Lonesome raised an eyebrow but otherwise continued snoring away. He sat up in his hammock, swung his legs over the side, and slipped down onto the floor careful not to step on his sleeping dagu.
He opened his hand against the smooth wall to orient himself and followed the ambient lighting to the personal service room. He entered and slid the door shut behind him.
The first time he tried to pass water he relaxed his bladder in one dimension but the water squirted out in another dimension. Fortunately, the inside of his suit dried almost instantaneously,
The second time he tried to pass water, a couple hours later, he couldn’t figure out which dimension his bladder was in to relax and had to wait a few minutes before his bladder, his stream of water, and the toilet were dimensionally in synch.
He made his way back to his hammock somewhat proud of himself and fell back asleep.
The next waking period, after the lights made their presence felt through his eyelids and his dreams, and the smells of spiced tea wafted into the room, Cadmus looked over at Galen’s hammock and saw it was empty. Lonesome was not under his hammock either. He got out of his hammock and hobbled stiff-leggedly over to the shower room, took off his suit and googles, put them in the bin, and stepped into the shower stall.
After refreshing himself in the shower, he dried himself off, opened the bin, and found his suit and goggles good and fresh. He suited up and donned his goggles, and followed his nose to the kitchenette where Galen was putting breakfast on the table. Lonesome was eating his kibble in a bowl with gusto.
Sleeping period followed waking period, which followed sleeping period, so on and so forth until it became a routine of sorts that belied the danger and the desperation of their adventure, three insignificant microbes rushing to the defense of a dying universe.
After a while Cadmus became so proficient in the use of his suit and goggles that he became totally unaware of them. He was able to run through the halls effortlessly jinxing one way into one dimension and another way into another dimension, moving in ways he could not have imagined before. Lonesome followed along on his jogs around the ship anticipating his friend’s moves.
Galen was pleased that Cadmus was now his physical equal, and his sensory and motor skills were on a par with his own. The way Cadmus processed his sensations was the same as always though, and that also pleased Galen.
SECTION XXV. THE ILLUSION OF EGO
“Subhuti, what do you think? Let no one say the Tathagata cherishes the idea: I must liberate all living beings. Allow no such thought, Subhuti. Wherefore? Because in reality there are no living beings to be liberated by the Tathagata. If there were living beings for the Tathagata to liberate, He would partake in the idea of selfhood, personality entity, and separate individuality.”
- If you want to hear a lot of hemming and hawing, get a couple of scientists together and ask them “why is there something rather than nothing?” There’s a whole playlist dedicated to exploring that question on YouTube. Here’s one:
In response to a question from an audience member, physicist Neil Turok, writer and philosopher Jim Holt, and philosopher of physics David Albert discuss the…
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Mike Stone Actually there’s a connection between this post and my previous posted quote from Nietzsche (and my response to it). Is a universe of nothing, nothing but the possibility, the potential, of exploding into a universe of something, something like we have today, is such a universe of nothing really empty?
Ari Stone Well, I think potential is regarded as ‘something’. There is potential energy, like in springs.
Mike Stone So you would argue that our universe of something could never have come from nothing because nothing would not contain even the potential of something.
Mike Stone Logical. Ipso facto.
Ari Stone Can’t say I’ve given this enough thought to declare that this is what I believe, but that’s my initial thought on the matter.
Ari Stone (pun intended)
Mike Stone So would you argue that an illusion of something is something or nothing? I actually intend to explore that subject in the book I am currently working on.
Ari Stone Again, I haven’t thought this through, but even an idea or a thought is something. So the illusion of something (or even nothing) ought to be something.
Mike Stone I may use this thread in my book.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Implicate order)
Implicate order and explicate order are ontological concepts for quantum theory coined by theoretical physicist David Bohm during the early 1980s. They are used to describe two different frameworks for understanding the same phenomenon or aspect of reality. In particular, the concepts were developed in order to explain the bizarre behavior of subatomic particles – behavior difficult to explain by quantum physics.
In his book Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Bohm uses these notions to describe how the same phenomenon might look different, or might be characterized by different principal factors, in different contexts such as at different scales. The implicate order, also referred to as the “enfolded” order, is seen as a deeper and more fundamental order of reality. In contrast, the explicate or “unfolded” order include the abstractions that humans normally perceive. As he writes:
In the enfolded [or implicate] order, space and time are no longer the dominant factors determining the relationships of dependence or independence of different elements. Rather, an entirely different sort of basic connection of elements is possible, from which our ordinary notions of space and time, along with those of separately existent material particles, are abstracted as forms derived from the deeper order. These ordinary notions in fact appear in what is called the “explicate” or “unfolded” order, which is a special and distinguished form contained within the general totality of all the implicate orders (Bohm 1980, p. xv).
- 3Challenges to some generally prevailing views
- 4See also
The notion of implicate and explicate orders emphasizes the primacy of structure and process over individual objects. The latter are seen as mere approximations of an underlying process. In this approach, quantum particles and other objects are understood to have only a limited degree of stability and autonomy.
Bohm believes that the weirdness of the behavior of quantum particles is caused by unobserved forces, maintaining that space and time might actually be derived from an even deeper level of objective reality. In the words of F. David Peat, Bohm considers that what we take for reality are “surface phenomena, explicate forms that have temporarily unfolded out of an underlying implicate order”. That is, the implicate order is the ground from which reality emerges.
The implicate order as an algebra
David Bohm, his co-worker Basil Hiley, and other physicists of Birkbeck College worked toward a model of quantum physics in which the implicate order is represented in form of an appropriate algebra or other pregeometry. They considered spacetime itself as part of an explicate order that is connected to an implicate order that they called pre-space. The spacetime manifold and the properties of locality and nonlocality all arise from an order in such pre-space. A. M. Frescura and Hiley suggested that an implicate order could be carried by an algebra, with the explicate order being contained in the various representations of this algebra. (See also: Work by Bohm and Hiley on implicate orders, pre-space and algebraic structures.)
In analogy to Alfred North Whitehead‘s notion of actual occurrence, Bohm considered the notion of moment–a moment being a not entirely localizable event, with events being allowed to overlap  and being connected in an over-all implicate order:
I propose that each moment of time is a projection from the total implicate order. The term projection is a particularly happy choice here, not only because its common meaning is suitable for what is needed, but also because its mathematical meaning as a projection operation, P, is just what is required for working out these notions in terms of the quantum theory.
Bohm emphasized the primary role of the implicate order’s structure:
My attitude is that the mathematics of the quantum theory deals primarily with the structure of the implicate pre-space and with how an explicate order of space and time emerges from it, rather than with movements of physical entities, such as particles and fields. (This is a kind of extension of what is done in general relativity, which deals primarily with geometry and only secondarily with the entities that are described within this geometry.)
The explicate order and quantum entanglement
Central to Bohm’s schema are correlations between observables of entities which seem separated by great distances in the explicate order (such as a particular electron here on earth and an alpha particle in one of the stars in the Abell 1835 galaxy, the farthest galaxy from Earth known to humans), manifestations of the implicate order. Within quantum theory there is entanglement of such objects.
This view of order necessarily departs from any notion which entails signalling, and therefore causality. The correlation of observables does not imply a causal influence, and in Bohm’s schema the latter represents ‘relatively’ independent events in space-time; and therefore explicate order.
A common grounding for consciousness and matter
Karl H. Pribram‘s research suggests that memories may not be localized in specific regions of brains
The implicate order represents the proposal of a general metaphysical concept in terms of which it is claimed that matter and consciousness might both be understood, in the sense that it is proposed that both matter and consciousness: (i) enfold the structure of the whole within each region, and (ii) involve continuous processes of enfoldment and unfoldment. For example, in the case of matter, entities such as atoms may represent continuous enfoldment and unfoldment which manifests as a relatively stable and autonomous entity that can be observed to follow a relatively well-defined path in space-time. In the case of consciousness, Bohm pointed toward evidence presented by Karl Pribram thatmemories may be enfolded within every region of the brain rather than being localized (for example in particular regions of the brain, cells, or atoms).
Bohm went on to say:
As in our discussion of matter in general, it is now necessary to go into the question of how in consciousness the explicate order is what is manifest … the manifest content of consciousness is based essentially on memory, which is what allows such content to be held in a fairly constant form. Of course, to make possible such constancy it is also necessary that this content be organized, not only through relatively fixed association but also with the aid of the rules of logic, and of our basic categories of space, time causality, universality, etc. … there will be a strong background of recurrent stable, and separable features, against which the transitory and changing aspects of the unbroken flow of experience will be seen as fleeting impressions that tend to be arranged and ordered mainly in terms of the vast totality of the relatively static and fragmented content of [memories].
Bohm also claimed that “as with consciousness, each moment has a certain explicate order, and in addition it enfolds all the others, though in its own way. So the relationship of each moment in the whole to all the others is implied by its total content: the way in which it ‘holds’ all the others enfolded within it”. Bohm characterises consciousness as a process in which at each moment, content that was previously implicate is presently explicate, and content which was previously explicate has become implicate.
One may indeed say that our memory is a special case of the process described above, for all that is recorded is held enfolded within the brain cells and these are part of matter in general. The recurrence and stability of our own memory as a relatively independent sub-totality is thus brought about as part of the very same process that sustains the recurrence and stability in the manifest order of matter in general. It follows, then, that the explicate and manifest order of consciousness is not ultimately distinct from that of matter in general.
Ink droplet analogy
Bohm also used the term unfoldment to characterise processes in which the explicate order becomes relevant (or “relevated”). Bohm likens unfoldment also to the decoding of a television signal to produce a sensible image on a screen. The signal, screen, and television electronics in this analogy represent the implicate order whilst the image produced represents the explicate order. He also uses an example in which an ink droplet can be introduced into a highly viscous substance (such as glycerine), and the substance rotated very slowly such that there is negligible diffusion of the substance. In this example, the droplet becomes a thread which, in turn, eventually becomes invisible. However, by rotating the substance in the reverse direction, the droplet can essentially reform. When it is invisible, according to Bohm, the order of the ink droplet as a pattern can be said to be implicate within the substance.
In another analogy, Bohm asks us to consider a pattern produced by making small cuts in a folded piece of paper and then, literally, unfolding it. Widely separated elements of the pattern are, in actuality, produced by the same original cut in the folded piece of paper. Here the cuts in the folded paper represent the implicate order and the unfolded pattern represents the explicate order.
Holograms and implicate order
In a holographic reconstruction, each region of a photographic plate contains the whole image
Bohm employed the hologram as a means of characterising implicate order, noting that each region of a photographic plate in which a hologram is observable contains within it the whole three-dimensional image, which can be viewed from a range of perspectives. That is, each region contains a whole and undivided image. In Bohm’s words:
There is the germ of a new notion of order here. This order is not to be understood solely in terms of a regular arrangement of objects (e.g., in rows) or as a regular arrangement of events (e.g. in a series). Rather, a total order is contained, in some implicit sense, in each region of space and time. Now, the word ‘implicit’ is based on the verb ‘to implicate’. This means ‘to fold inward’ … so we may be led to explore the notion that in some sense each region contains a total structure ‘enfolded’ within it”.
Bohm noted that although the hologram conveys undivided wholeness, it is nevertheless static.
In this view of order, laws represent invariant relationships between explicate entities and structures, and thus Bohm maintained that in physics, the explicate order generally reveals itself within well-constructed experimental contexts as, for example, in the sensibly observable results of instruments. With respect to implicate order, however, Bohm asked us to consider the possibility instead “that physical law should refer primarily to an order of undivided wholeness of the content of description similar to that indicated by the hologram rather than to an order of analysis of such content into separate parts …”.
Implicate order in art
In the work Science, Order, and Creativity (Bohm and Peat, 1987), examples of implicate orders in science are laid out, as well as implicate orders which relate to painting, poetry, and music.
Bohm and Peat emphasize the role of orders of varying complexity, which influence the perception of a work of art as a whole. They note that implicate orders are accessible to human experience. They refer for instance to earlier notes which reverberate when listening to music, or various resonances of words and images which are perceived when reading or hearing poetry.
Challenges to some generally prevailing views
In proposing this new notion of order, Bohm explicitly challenged a number of tenets that he believed are fundamental to much scientific work:
- that phenomena are reducible tofundamental particles and laws describing the behaviour of particles, or more generally to any static (i.e., unchanging) entities, whether separate events in space-time, quantum states, or static entities of some other nature;
- related to (1), that human knowledge ismost fundamentally concerned with mathematical prediction of statistical aggregates of particles;
- that an analysis or description of any aspect ofreality (e.g., quantum theory, the speed of light) can be unlimited in its domain of relevance;
- that theCartesian coordinate system, or its extension to a curvilinear system, is the deepest conception of underlying order as a basis for analysis and description of the world;
- that there is ultimately a sustainabledistinction between reality and thought, and that there is a corresponding distinction between the observer and observed in an experiment or any other situation (other than a distinction between relatively separate entities valid in the sense of explicate order); and
- that it is, inprinciple, possible to formulate a final notion concerning the nature of reality, i.e., a Theory of Everything.
A hydrogen atom and its constituent particles: an example of an over-simplified way of looking at a small collection of posited building blocks of the universe
Bohm’s proposals have at times been dismissed largely on the basis of such tenets. His paradigm is generally opposed to reductionism, and some view it as a form of ontological holism. On this, Bohm noted of prevailing views among physicists that “the world is assumed to be constituted of a set of separately existent, indivisible, and unchangeable ‘elementary particles’, which are the fundamental ‘building blocks’ of the entire universe … there seems to be an unshakable faith among physicists that either such particles, or some other kind yet to be discovered, will eventually make possible a complete and coherent explanation of everything” (Bohm 1980, p. 173).
In Bohm’s conception of order, primacy is given to the undivided whole, and the implicate order inherent within the whole, rather than to parts of the whole, such as particles, quantum states, and continua. For Bohm, the whole encompasses all things, structures, abstractions, and processes, including processes that result in (relatively) stable structures as well as those that involve a metamorphosis of structures or things. In this view, parts may beentities normally regarded as physical, such as atoms or subatomic particles, but they may also be abstract entities, such as quantum states. Whatever their nature and character, according to Bohm, these parts are considered in terms of the whole, and in such terms, they constitute relatively separate and independent “sub-totalities.” The implication of the view is, therefore, that nothing is fundamentally separate or independent.
Bohm 1980, p. 11, said: “The new form of insight can perhaps best be called Undivided Wholeness in Flowing Movement. This view implies that flow is in some sense prior to that of the ‘things’ that can be seen to form and dissolve in this flow.” According to Bohm, a vivid image of this sense of analysis of the whole is afforded by vortex structures in a flowing stream. Such vortices can be relatively stable patterns within a continuous flow, but such an analysis does not imply that the flow patterns have any sharp division, or that they are literally separate and independently existent entities; rather, they are most fundamentally undivided. Thus, according to Bohm’s view, the whole is in continuous flux, and hence is referred to as the holomovement (movement of the whole).
Quantum theory and relativity theory
A key motivation for Bohm in proposing a new notion of order was the well-known incompatibility of quantum theory with relativity theory. Bohm 1980, p. xv summarised the state of affairs he perceived to exist:
…in relativity, movement is continuous, causally determinate and well defined, while in quantum mechanics it is discontinuous, not causally determinate and not well-defined. Each theory is committed to its own notions of essentially static and fragmentary modes of existence (relativity to that of separate events connectible by signals, and quantum mechanics to a well-defined quantum state). One thus sees that a new kind of theory is needed which drops these basic commitments and at most recovers some essential features of the older theories as abstract forms derived from a deeper reality in which what prevails is unbroken wholeness.
Bohm maintained that relativity and quantum theories are in basic contradiction in these essential respects, and that a new concept of order should begin with that toward which both theories point: undivided wholeness. This should not be taken to mean that he advocated such powerful theories be discarded. He argued that each was relevant in a certain context—i.e., a set of interrelated conditions within the explicate order—rather than having unlimited scope, and that apparent contradictions stem from attempts to overgeneralize by superposing the theories on one another, implying greater generality or broader relevance than is ultimately warranted. Thus, Bohm 1980, pp. 156–167 argued: “… in sufficiently broad contexts such analytic descriptions cease to be adequate … ‘the law of the whole’ will generally include the possibility of describing the ‘loosening’ of aspects from each other, so that they will be relatively autonomous in limited contexts … however, any form of relative autonomy (and heteronomy) is ultimately limited byholonomy, so that in a broad enough context such forms are seen to be merely aspects, relevated in the holomovement, rather than disjoint and separately existent things in interaction.”
Hidden variable theory
Before developing his implicit order approach, Bohm had proposed a hidden variable theory of quantum physics (see Bohm interpretation). According to Bohm, a key motivation for doing so had been purely to show the possibility of such theories. On this, Bohm 1980, p. 81 said, “… it should be kept in mind that before this proposal was made there had existed the widespread impression that no conception of any hidden variable at all, not even if it were abstract and hypothetical, could possibly be consistent with the quantum theory.” Bohm 1980, p. 110 also claimed that “the demonstration of the possibility of theories of hidden variables may serve in a more general philosophical sense to remind us of the unreliability of conclusions based on the assumption of the complete universality of certain features of a given theory, however general their domain of validity seems to be.” Another aspect of Bohm’s motivation had been to point out a confusion he perceived to exist in quantum theory. On the dominant approaches in quantum theory, he said: “…we wish merely to point out that this whole line of approach re-establishes at the abstract level of statistical potentialities the same kind of analysis into separate and autonomous components in interaction that is denied at the more concrete level of individual objects” (Bohm 1980, p. 174).
|· Brahman||· Implicature
|· Quantum mind
- Jump up^David Bohm: Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Routledge, 1980 (ISBN 0-203-99515-5).
- Jump up^ Pylkkänen, B. J. Hiley, I. Pättiniemi: Bohm’s approach and Individuality, arXiv:1405.4772v3, version 3 of 28 November 2014
- Jump up^ David Peat, Non-locality in nature and cognition, pp. 297–311. In: M.E. Carvallo (7 March 2013). Nature, Cognition and System II: Current Systems-Scientific Research on Natural and Cognitive Systems Volume 2: On Complementarity and Beyond. Springer Science & Business Media. p. 304.ISBN 978-94-011-2779-0.
- Jump up^ A. M. Frescura, B. J. Hiley: Algebras, quantum theory and pre-space, pp. 3–4 (published in Revista Brasileira de Fisica, Volume Especial, Julho 1984, Os 70 anos de Mario Schonberg, pp. 49–86)
- Jump up^David Bohm: Time, the implicate order, and pre-space, In: David R. Griffin: Physics and the Ultimate Significance of Time, State University of New York Press, 1986, ISBN 0-88706-113-3, pp. 177–208, 183
- Jump up^David Bohm: Time, the implicate order, and pre-space, In: David R. Griffin: Physics and the Ultimate Significance of Time, State University of New York Press, 1986, ISBN 0-88706-113-3, pp. 177–208, 189
- Jump up^David Bohm: Time, the implicate order, and pre-space, In: David R. Griffin: Physics and the Ultimate Significance of Time, State University of New York Press, 1986, ISBN 0-88706-113-3, pp. 177–208, 192–193
- Jump up^Bohm 1980, p. 205
- Jump up^Bohm 1980, p. 208
- Jump up^Bohm 1980, p. 149
- Jump up^Bohm 1980, p. 147
- Jump up^Christopher Alexander: The Nature of Order, Book 4 – The Luminous Ground: An Essay on the Art of Building and the Nature of the Universe, Center for Environmental Structure, ISBN 978-0-9726529-4-0, Footnotes 19 and 20 on p. 336, cited on 323
- Bohm, David(1980), Wholeness and the Implicate Order, London: Routledge, ISBN 0-7100-0971-2
- Bohm, David;Hiley, B. J. (1993), The Undivided Universe, London: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-06588-7
- Kauffman, S.(1995). At Home in the Universe. New York: Oxford University Press. hardcover: ISBN 0-19-509599-5, paperback ISBN 0-19-511130-3
- Kauffman, S. (2000).Investigations. New York: Oxford University Press.
- Kuhn, T.S.(1961). The function of measurement in modern physical science. ISIS, 52, 161–193.
- Schopenhauer, A. (1819/1995)(1995), The World as Will and Idea, London: Everyman, ISBN 0-460-87505-1( Derman, Ed.; J. Berman, Trans.).
- Michael Talbot.The Holographic Universe, Harpercollins (1991)
- Paavo Pylkkänen.Cognition, the implicate order and rainforest realism, Futura, vol. 31, no. 2/2012, pp. 74–83.
- The David Bohm Society
- Interview with David Bohm– An interview with Bohm concerning this particular subject matter conducted by David Peat.
- Excerpt fromThe Holographic Universe – Parallels some of the experiences of 18th century Swedish mystic, Emanuel Swedenborg, with David Bohm‘s ideas.
- Thought Knowledge Perception Institute Implicate Order Page
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- Kalyra (Kaly): Cadmus’ wife
- Lonesome: a dagu; similar to a wolf or dog but more evolved
- Remi: Lem’s and Yani’s great grand-daughter
- Galen: Remi’s husband
Part 1: All Quiet on the Sapien Front
- Cadmus is flying an old fashioned solar sail ship from his native moon’s orbit to Draco.763.3a, the only habitable moon orbiting Draco.753.3. Cadmus’ co-pilot was his trusty dagu, “Lonesome”. Lonesome couldn’t really pilot the ship. He wasn’t really able to do much of anything besides pant with his tongue hanging out of his mouth and generally look friendly.
- Cadmus shuttles down to the surface of 3a with Lonesome.
- Cadmus and Lonesome explore the open fields and forest in the vicinity of his shuttle.
- Cadmus and Lonesome meet Yani in the forest. Yani is a Rat (Rational). She invites them to her cave overlooking a lush verdant valley.
- Yani introduces Cadmus to Lem, her husband.
- Although Cadmus is a Sapien, he knows nothing about the Rats on this moon or the history of the Saps (Sapiens) on Draco.763.3b, the dark-as-cinder moon he passed before approaching 3a. Lem and Yani answer Cadmus’ questions about the Rats and the local Saps.
- Cadmus is skeptical but curious about the special capabilities of the Rats, but the more time he spends around them, the less skeptical he becomes. Lem and Yani also are curious about Cadmus.
- Cadmus prepares to return to his home moon, Draco.763.4g with Lonesome. Lem gives Cadmus an STU (Secure Telecommunication Unit) in case they want to talk to each other. The STU contains a small QEB (Q-bit Entanglement Box) inside it to provide an instantaneous channel between them. Cadmus fires up the shuttle and they roar through the clouds to dock with his sail ship.
- Cadmus and Lonesome return home. The voyage between 3a and 4g was about 270 days each way. All in all, he had been gone almost 600 days.
- Cadmus and Lonesome putter around his house and go about their daily routines.
- One day Cadmus receives a call on the STU from Lem who says they must talk. Cadmus offers to come to Lem but Lem says no, it’ll take 9 months. Lem will come to Cadmus instead.
- Lem appears on 4g as soon as Cadmus hangs up his STU.
Part 2: The Rat Warning
- Lem explains to Cadmus that the Rats have “observers” (robotic perceivers connected with trailing Q-bit Entanglement Boxes) throughout the universe. The observers allow the Rats to observe the universe in each of the eleven dimensions all the way to each event horizon.
- Lem says that they are observing major multi-hyper-cubes near the horizon disappearing. They were there and suddenly they were not anymore. The size of each multi-hyper-cubic section was roughly the size of a galaxy containing a hundred billion stars. These cubes have been disappearing at an alarming rate.
- Cadmus asks Lem why he should be concerned. After all, the universe was awfully big. Wouldn’t it take a long time for their galaxy (Draco) to disappear?
- Lem explains that although these disappearances were occurring in the far future, major sections of our future were also disappearing at an alarming rate. We may run out of future before we run out of space.
- Lem tells Cadmus that some of the Rats think that the hyper-cubic disappearances are naturally occurring phenomena, that there is something fundamentally wrong with our universe, while other Rats think that the disappearances might be caused by an alien civilization possessing an advanced technology that they’ve weaponized. If the second conjecture proves to be correct, we may be up against a force far greater even than us. Let’s call them Future Rationals (Frats) for the sake of discussion. These Frats might very well come from the center of our universe where the Big Bang occurred.
- Lem returns home to 3a.
Part 3: Frats Out of Time
- Lem calls Cadmus on the STU and tells him the second conjecture was proven correct. The Rat observers had tracked the hyper-cubic disappearances. At first they had seemed to occur in random locations. After extensive mathematical analysis, the Rats determined that the sequence of locations was pseudo-random. There was no doubt among the Rationals that the sequence of locations of disappearances could only be driven by an intelligent algorithm. The Rats were in the process of determining that algorithm.
- The Rats might be able to predict where the disappearances will occur and how long they had before Draco disappears or they run out of time, but they had serious doubts about their ability to stop the inexorable Frat onslaught on Draco.
- Unless, Lem says, they can attack the Frats where they live at the center of the universe.
- Cadmus asks Lem why the Frats should want to attack our universe if they themselves live at the center of it. Good question, Lem says. Maybe they are suicidal. Cadmus asks how they could be suicidal if they are so rational.
- Lem tells Cadmus that the Rats need his help. Why me? Cadmus asks incredulously. What could I possibly have to offer that would be of value to you? Lem answers that we need you for your questions. Rationals only have answers and they may not be the right answers for engaging the Frats. Will you come along with us? Cadmus agrees as long as Lonesome is allowed to come along too.
- The Rat ship picks up Cadmus from 4g and heads toward the center of the universe.
- When they arrive they find nothing as far as their instruments can see.
- They hear a voice in their minds. The voice says to them you have come a long way. Welcome home. We are what you have been calling the Frats. Put your weapons away. They are of no use against us. It is over before it starts. It always has been. But let us explain.
- We have no name. We are nothing, nothing but truth. But you refer to us as Frats because you must refer to something.
- Why are you attacking us? Why are you attacking our universe? Why are you destroying yourselves along with us? Cadmus asked the voice.
- And the voice answered …
- The Rats around Cadmus began to disappear. Lem was turning transparent. Cadmus felt his stomach and lungs beginning to disintegrate. He felt his brain was exploding. He tried to reach for the red button on the panel in front of Lem but his arm and the panel stretched out toward infinity.
- Lonesome lunges at the red button hitting it with his soft black nose.