Was there a better way to preserve data, text, formulae, numeric records, than in stone? She doubted it. Certainly it was unlikely in this case because she was looking at records melted into obsidian, with diagrams coloured and baked into the surface so as to form an outer, ceramic like, face only it wasn’t a frail ceramic – it was an obsidian glaze. It was timeless and, as far as she could tell, faultless. When she began to read the walls and decorations on the support columns there didn’t seem that much. She could, she thought, make her way through most of it in a year – maybe less. Now she was beginning to realise there was no way a year, or even the three, would be enough. The task was enormous. She was looking at forty thousand or more years of historic detail. If she attempted to read every book ever written over the last two thousand years she would not complete the task in three lifetimes. This was more – much more. This was twenty times more in depth, and a hundred more in detail. How could she possibly take it all in? The task was enormous yet – yet it had to be possible. Of course it was possible. It was possible for her because she already knew most of it. She just had to find it. It wasn’t a learning process. It was a realization process. She had only to make the connections to trigger the information already in her memory. How cool? How wonderful to have the complete history of human evolution at her beck and call – well call anyway, once she joined the dots. Wow! Double wow and eureka. She really was the boss. She really did know more than any living being. She was the mistress of the World and maybe more. Maybe, just maybe, she knew of other worlds – of other planets. Would she have insight to other life forms? Would she be able to communicate with birds and bees . . . reptiles and fish? Would she grow to understand worm philosophy? How silly. How silly she had become at the concept of such power.
She left the city. She walked into the Iranian wilderness to wander, unrestricted – to walk her way to a weariness that would overcome the madness in her mind. When it was done she would sleep, and in that sleep she would begin to know. She was about to cross a threshold – she was about to go forward into an encyclopaedic mind. Did she want to go there? Did she want the responsibility for every living thing? Was there a choice?
Calling on the Old Ones
Harry Fountain squatted at his listening place to gaze over the emptiness that was the northern end of Australia’s Gibson Desert. Change was coming. He’d been feeling it for some time and now it was here. The others were listening. George and Alex and Wendy were listening – they knew something. What was it? He settled lower – his toes pressing harder into the rock as he rested onto his heels and allowing the light air to balance in his ears. There was news. Fiona had been calling them with news. What was it? Why couldn’t he hear it? Was he, too, failing. Fiona was failing – they all knew that. Was he going too? He stopped wondering. He listened.
Fiona was struggling. She was calling on all their reserves, all their memories -for what? Was she dying? Why would she need help in passing? There was no effort in passing. What was happening? Again he stopped thinking to listen, then to give. He yielded up all his mental power to her in her need. He just gave and gave until he, too, was exhausted.
In the Desert
Meira stopped walking. She was tired – not tired enough, but nearly. She climbed a small hill to squat on an overhang and turn until the air balanced. There were forces at work. She listened until she could hear the music. It was in the music. The unravelling of tens of thousands years of human development was in the music, but she didn’t have the memories. She didn’t have the templates by which to compare. There were some templates. There was enough to recognise discord and to tell her when to run and when to hide; there was enough for survival but there was so much more to find. She squatted there for a long time before she realised she was into an area that was not already in her mind. She was outside of her stored memories. She had to draw on the Old Ones’ memories. She had to learn – not just remember – not just to connect the synapses – she had to learn.
Slowly it came, in dribs and drabs, but consistently – as if from a long, thin, pipe. In the process there was a realisation. She was communicating with the Old Ones – she really did have contact with distant minds. The hard thing was not to wonder. She needed to stay focussed on the inflow – to sort it, arrange it for later use. This was a huge exercise. Her whole brain was active, drawing on her heart and lungs. She was breathing rapidly to match her pulse. Her brain was using all the energy, all the glycogen from every part of her body. She wanted to wonder how long she could continue but there was no spare capacity – not a spare drop. As she lost control the music started – softly but growing. It was growing – filling her head. There was more; there was scale. There was sonority, not booming, gentle, as with tonal language, and there was rhythm. That, too, was growing. The rhythm was growing as was the scale. Sounds grew higher, and lower. The whole was growing out and down and up and through, everything was larger and large and larger and ever larger . . . She was being introduced to an incredibly subtle collection of new sounds – Sounds that would take years to fully understand. She slept.
Meira was awakened by the silence. It was early. The Sun was just beginning to peek through a dusty haze. All was still. Nothing moved. Nothing moved on the ground or in the air and, most noticeably, nothing moved in her head. For the first time in weeks her mind was still. She felt clean – as if her brain had been scrubbed and tidied and all was now in the correct places. She stood, stretched tired limbs, and started to walk. This would be a good walk. This would be the walk she needed to set the blood pumping through her body, through her weary legs, up her back to her neck – still stiff and creaked as she turned this way and that. The ground beneath her feet was cool but already warming. She would walk until it was too hot and then she would sleep again – not for long – just long enough to sort out a plan, iron out a few wrinkles. She was on her way – all doubt removed. She upped the pace – started to march.
She stopped walking as the dust trail, from what turned out to be a Jeep packed with tribesmen, caught her eye. She waited in the shade of a short overhang as the image grew and the dust billowed higher and wider until she could see them – bearded and dirty, bouncing in the back as they clutched their guns and rockets. They were hungry, and were headed to a tiny hamlet where they would steal food and whatever else caught their fancy. There would be no prosecution for the thoughtless crime to follow; no one in authority would care about the hardship brought on villagers so far from the hub of empire – so far from listening lawyers, news media, voting citizens. No one cared if they raped, mutilated, murdered . . . that was the way of machismo governments and power crazed clerics. For a moment she wished herself back to Atlantis – back to the Matriarchy where people came first; where education was the primary concern of governments and the word nerd had never been heard. For a moment she indulged herself, wallowing in history, but not for more than a moment or two. Her job was here – in this pit of masculine ignorance. She was to learn, and to educate. That was her primary role until there was enough people sufficiently informed to move nations towards enlightenment. In the meantime she could do one, little, something though; she started to run to the village.
The tribesmen were already moving through the houses, poking people with their guns and searching for food, when she arrived breathless and sweaty. She took a few seconds to calm herself then walked into the centre in of the small collection of houses as if she owned the place. Heads turned, people stopped, she surveyed the area. No one approached.
A few minutes more and there was a scream and the sounds of scuffle followed by woman with baby and two little ones running into the clearing and straight to Meira. She held them as she faced a pursuing tribesman. He marched up to her with pointed gun but stopped as she caught him in a bright emerald stare. She held him, captivated him, all but hypnotised him under the brilliant desert Sun.
More people arrived, villagers and tribesmen, to stand and stare at the western stranger with piercing eyes and the calm, unquestionable, bearing. She waited as they gathered and watched the eyes and faces for evidence of leaders. Soon it was obvious. She addressed the head man of the village, “Give them food and water. Then they will leave.” To the tribesmen she said, “Take only what you are given, then leave these people.” She continued to watch, to measure reactions, as one by one heads lowered, people moved off – the danger passed.
As the jeep sped away she continued her journey back to Atlantis and Peter. He would be in need of help.