Deep Sea Visions Part V.

20 May

I.

Dr. Malten Cacoe was exceedingly busy the entire week before the expanded trip into the bottom of the Pelagic Sea. His programmed goal was to establish the validity and safety of the innovative therapy that he had conceived of within his own mind’s private thoughts.

This seemed to him the right moment to prove it for the profession of psychiatry, once and for good.

His daughter, Data, worked with him in preparations for the voyage that they would be supervising and participating in together. He found her more worried and concerning about the events immediately prior to their descent than he was.

“I cannot understand the sudden death of Nogo,” she told him one morning in her office. “It was so unexpected, unforeseen. There wasn’t the slightest hint of physical illness in him. And the cause has not been determined with any degree of exactness. All that the medical investigation came up with was some sort of natural causes. That was the general phrase used on his death certificate. Nothing beyond that sign of utter ignorance, that’s all and nothing more.”

“I fail to be as concerned as you appear to be, Data,” said her father, seeming to close the subject between the two of them. “But we have to concentrate on what lies ricannotght ahead for us. It is necessary that you and I always speak to those who will accompany us in complete harmony and unison. For instance, I myself am always insisting that there will be no risky ventures into the Great Trench this time. But I am careful never to pledge that we shall not come near or cross over the geographic boundary of the area below the Hadalpelagic Zone.

“We cannot pledge never to cross a theoretical limit of 36,000 feet below the sea’s surface. That would be a very arbitrary limit, not at all realistic about the nature of such boundaries that only exist in the minds of oceanographers.

“But you and I can say with great certainty that our vehicle will not go deeply into the trench, into its interior or central regions.

“We intend to stay inside safe depths, that can be our promise to the patients who may ask.”

Data, engaged in inner thoughts, made no reply to what her father had been saying to her.

Oego was spending more and more of each passing day with Capricia. There were more and more shared activities between them as they constructed new lives in Porto Lago. Each of them were coming to have shared expectations of the other part of the duo.

“Are we helping ourselves and each other more than whatever the two Cacoes are accomplishing for us?” asked Capricia one evening after they shared a dinner that they had cooked together in her apartment’s kitchen.

Oego gave her a searching, focused and inquiring look.

“Why do you ask me that?” he responded. “Usually, when someone poses a question like that on someone they are familiar with, they are seeking confirmation of a conclusion they have already come to on their own.

“It may only be an attempt to make the other person confirm it in an affirmative sense, nothing more than that.”

He gave her a concentrated, intense look of inquiry.

“Yes, you are right. That’s what I wanted you to give me: approval for what I myself have been thinking.” She broke out in a smile, ending with a single audible laugh. “That is correct,” she continued. “I have come to believe that meeting and getting to know you has done more for my self-regard and inner health than our trips into the Pelagic Sea.”

“Or that the Cacoes have been able to accomplish for us through consoling and advising? Is that what you now conclude?

“Do you plan any sort of departure from Psycho-Globe therapy and the psychiatrists who created and practice it on patients like us?”

Capricia seemed to look away to avoid looking directly into his copper eyes.

“I have not reached that point in my thinking yet,” she murmured, turning her head directly toward him. “But that may be the direction I will be taking before too long.”

“I may as well,” he told her in a muffled whisper.

Malten Cacoe met with the Mayor in the latter’s office in City Hall.

“I am aware that one of the patients of the psychiatric group that takes people down under the sea in a submersible is now dead. Is what happened in this case in any way connected to the radical, unusual method exercised in their therapy?

“It is important that we know whether or not the two doctors engaged in this activity possess any responsibility for the death, which my police claim remains unexplained.

“There were no signs of disease or illness of any kind. Except for his emotional and mental state, his body seemed healthy.

“What should I make of this? What can we decide, you and I, about the death?”

Bren was confused and at a loss for words for only a few seconds, making up an answer almost at once.

“The man who passed away so suddenly was the one that I mentioned to you before, the patient who was my agent inside the system of psychiatry in the process of development by the two Cacoes.

“I knew the fellow well enough to recognize at once that his mind dwelled in a nearly paranoid condition. He was always revealing himself as a man of deep fears, hatreds, and suspicions of others. That was what brought him under my influence and away from the Cacoes: his fear that their treatment was causing him more hard than good, that he was becoming sicker and imbalanced under what they told him was a new, better system of psychiatry.

“I have come to the conclusion that he fell into a circumstance where he had no kind of trust or confidence in anyone, least of all the Cacoes.

“Perhaps I should have acted in time, because I believe that the man killed himself somehow. He used an unidentified method that remains unknown even today.

“That is my conclusion. What do you think of it?”

The Mayor, consumed with rapid thoughts, did not speak until he was certain what it was best for him to say in response.

“I guess you are right about the matter, my friend. But what do you plan to do now that this fellow is no longer around to be your eyes and ears there?”

“I have to decide that as soon as possible,” said Bren Fetch, as though speaking only to himself.

II.

Malten Cacoe called a meeting together with his daughter and the five patients he had selected for the next voyage to the bottom of the sea. He had to convince the participants that they would be safe during the trip down, that he would do whatever was possible to avoid the dangerous species of marine creatures that had carried out attacks upon the Psychic Globe that resulted in injuries on previous voyages to the floor of the Pelagic Sea.

The psychiatrist who had decided to travel with his daughter and the patients faced the assembled group, looking at each member of his audience in turn.

“I called us together in order to express to you my thanks and recognition for your courage in continuing with your therapeutic course and regimen. That shows the deep aspiration that each of you possesses for victory over the malady that burdens your life and your thought. Indeed, I can say that you have taken the initial steps toward remaking yourself into what you know will produce better and more enlightened outcomes in all respects of living.

“You may have wondered what it may be about trips downward in our submersible that produces such desired, favorable results for patients. Let me describe my own understanding of how and why seeing the deep sea and being within it can do so much for humans.

“It is the new, unfamiliar, and startling environment in the sea waters that affects the mind of all of us who dive there. We see what startles and astounds, what shocks and shakes our insides. One can never be the same as before once a person has descended beneath the surface of the Pelagic Sea.

“The answer is as simple as that. A new world of water helps to sculpt a new form of mind, emotion, and self-identity. One looks at the self with new eyes and vision. One sees in oneself what had previously been unseen or invisible.

“You will perceive yourself with new eyes, I assure you,” finished Dr. Cacoe.

He looked about the room full of patients with increasing confidence that he held all of them in his hands. His words had inspired them with the necessary factor of self-confidence. Their raised expectations would open new possibilities for each of them when they were aboard the submarine vessel.

Oego and Capricia, affected by what they had heard Dr. Malten Cacoe say to the meeting of patients chosen to be passengers aboard the therapeutic globe, took a long, leisurely walk along the docks of the Porto Lago harbor. The day was bright and warm, the shore barely cooled by a breeze from the sea.

“What do you think about what he said to us, Oego?” inquired his companion. “Are we going to be fortunate enough to be remade and liberated by further diving into the water? Or are we about to be made into fools again, with only the pretense of having been transformed by the unusual experience? Tell me what you have figured out about what we have already experienced and are about to try once again.

“Do you really believe it is possible to reshape our minds into a new shape and start to think, feel, and act in completely new ways? I doubt that our nature is so plastic and malleable. It is more probable that we are stuck with what we already are. You and I, like everyone else, usually become firmly solidified. We only fool ourselves into believing that we have changed. It is only an idle dream that we imagine to be true. That is all it is or can be.”

Capricia turned her head so as to take in the profile of Oego as the two on beside each other. Although he sensed that he ought to say something to sooth her, he could not. Both of them were surprised that neither could break the dread of saying too much or something inappropriate.

Bren Fetch did not sleep for a number of nights, which made his daytime hours painful and exhausting.

His mind dwelled on a difficult technical problem: how to guarantee the failure and collapse of the Psycho-Globe program of the two Cacoes. There has to be some way of winning final revenge on Malten Cacoe and his daughter. He had to make them pay and suffer for what the father had done to ruin and wreck his life, Bren told himself hour after hour.

A bomb, he had to get his hands on something that would explode and destroy the evil submersible of the pair.

He allowed his mind to take wild, imaginative swings through fantastic, speculative areas of thought.

A magnetic bomb that would adhere to the outer surface of the Psycho-Globe. Was it practical and feasible? Would it produce a strong enough force to sink the submarine vessel?

It could not be too large. That would make it dangerously visible and detectable.

In his hospital office, Bren sketched diagrams of what he was aiming to create: a small, magnetic bomb able to adhere to the skin of the aluminum-titanium alloy of the therapeutic submersible. A weapon that could be denoted by the one who had ordered its construction, one set off by an electro-magnetic signal sent by nano-wave radio, igniting the internal explosive power of the bomb carried to the bottom of the sea attached to the submersible far below in the deep sea.

Blen felt frustrated, because it was not possible for him to construct this weapon on his own, with no help from outside.

He had to accept the logical conclusion. It was necessary to ask the mayor of Porto Lago for assistance on such a project.

Could he trust the city executive? He had no choice, it had to be done with Dako Mutram.

There was no trouble or problem involved, for the Mayor was swiftly convinced to steer Dr. Fetch to a skilled technician of the local underworld gang with skills and experience in bomb-making.

“This fellow is an expert in both explosives and magnetic devices,” claimed Dako Mutram. You will be surprised how quickly he can compound and construct it to your exact, specific demands and considerations. The cost will not be exorbitant, I can guarantee you.

“You have my full support for ridding us of this strange menace to public peace and order. This duo of psychiatrists consists of dangerous lunatic this city can do without. The average citizen will secretly be on your side, Bren.”

The two exchanged smiles of harmonious agreement.

III.

The electro-magnetic technician, Kixen Lama, lived and operated in an old, semi-decayed area of Porto Lago, located adjacent to the dock district.

Bren Fletch received the address from the Mayor and walked there alone, eager to talk with the individual with such a great reputation among the local underworld.

Kixen proved to be an ordinary person, a spare beanpole with chestnut eyes and yellowish flaxen hair. He showed himself at once as loquacious, a person with many memories and interesting tales to tell about his life and profession.

Bren felt highly encouraged by the man’s openness. It was easy to present him with the precise details of what he needed and wanted to have done.

“I can use a small, compact explosive apparatus,” explained the hospital head. “It will have to be set into operation by an electro-magnetic signal sent to it from a significant distance.

“The igniting signal must be able to penetrate through extremely deep water. This may extent thousands of feet downward, into the lowest reaches of the Pelagic Sea. The signal will have to possess strength and clarity, so that its functioning can be depended upon under difficult circumstances.

“This device will have the capability of being attached to an underwater marine vehicle, a conventional submersible. It cannot become visible under any circumstances whatever. No one must be able to detect it if trying to find a danger to the vessel.

“The explosive charge must be capable of withstanding even the slightest penetration of sea water into the interior of its parts. In other words, it must be completely water-tight and fully protected from the effects of moisture.

“The charge inside it must be potent enough to collapse the strong wall of the submersible to which it is attached by magnetic force. It must be adequate to the task of sinking the vessel immediately, without any time lag whatever.”

Kixen at this point asked a question of technical importance to himself.

“How thick is the hull of this submarine vessel that will be your target?”

“It is made of aluminum-titanium alloy of approximately four to five inches thickness,” replied Bren. “The breakthrough this outer shell has to be immediate and thorough. The force has to be total and complete.”

“And deadly?” said the technician with a note of wonder in his voice.

“Indeed,” nodded the visitor. “I see it equivalent to what, years ago, was often done by one underworld gang in Porto Lago against a competing outfit. The bomb used must be adequate to an old-fashioned war between two rival mobs.

My need is for a system that will carry out the job of complete annihilation, as was done when needed in the days of old.”

Both men remained silent for a short time, each of them trying to penetrate the thoughts of the other.

“Yes, I am certain that I can fulfill the mission,” announced Kixen. “I will design and construct such a mechanism for you. But it will take me a lot of time and resources.”

All of a sudden Bren frowned. “The thing must be ready for use very soon. There is no time to lose. I beg you to get busy will the plans and execution immediately, my good man.”

“Yes, I will start on it at once. But I must tell you right now that such a device as you say you need will end up extremely expensive.”

“That will not at all be a problem for me,” insisted the medical executive. “I can provide you all the cash and resources that will go into the project. I can guarantee you that.”

“The police authorities of Porto Lago will become interested in solving such a spectacular case and will not be willing to relent in their search for who stands behind such a bloody, destructive event. I do not know how many deaths may result on the submersible that is going to be destroyed. There can be numerous casualties that result. The general public will certainly become interested and aroused by what has happened out at sea.”

“I think that my associates and I are positioned to take care of public opinion,” snapped Bren with an angry, cynical facial expression.

Kixen seemed to take a step back in retreat, taking note of the emotional response of his new patron-customer.

“It is, of course, none of my business,” apologized the bomb-maker. “It is only personal curiosity that I try to satisfy, knowing how many casualties to expect from what I am asked to construct. That has been my custom from my earliest years as a technical operator here in Porto Lago. I am a curious kind of person and like to know what the results may turn out to be. That’s all.”

Bren began to open up more than he had expected he would.

“I think that the motivation behind all of this program is simple jealousy. It is in essence an act of primitive, impulsive vengeance. But I interpret it as a final act of justice, of correcting the damages brought upon me in the past.”

“Revenge,” grinned Kixen. “It can be sweet, very sweet to the one who exercises it over those who cause us evil.”

IV.

Malten and Data rose before dawn on the day set for the dive of the Psycho-Globe. The pair ate an early breakfast, then set off for the dock. They were the first of the scheduled passengers to arrive.

As the solar star rose into the gauzy morning sky, the passenger-patients started to arrive. The three new team members came before Capricia and Oego appeared on the dock.

“We are all present,” announced Malten Cacoe in a sounding voice. “It is time for us to climb aboard and get our journey under way. May we all share in the successful outcome that I feel justified in making as we begin our voyage into the Pelagic Sea.”

The patients filed into the Psycho-Globe, the two psychiatrists the last of the group entering the submersible vehicle.

No one was aware that a spectator was observing them with sloe eyes from a distance, on a high point of a hill in the backdrop of the harbor.

Dr. Fetch, unseen and far away, experienced a gloating, sadistic emotion as he watched the submarine sphere close up and plunge into the bay connecting Porto Lago to the open sea. He turned away and started to move toward the hospital he ran as soon as the global vessel submerged into the water and was no longer visible from the land.

It is done, my deed is finished, he told himself with a weird satisfaction.

Vengeance will be realized before day turns into night this evening, he rejoiced with a sense of fulfillment and final completion.

Dr. Malten Cacoe distracted the patients who had become passengers with a personal lecture concerning the sea creatures that they saw passing by as they gazed through the vehicle’s observation window.

He named the inhabitants of the zones of the sea by both their common, popular names (lantern fish, hatchet fish, ridgehead, stoplight loosejaw, blob fish, sabertooth, lancet fish, bristle mouth, fangtooth, sea cucumber, angler fish, coffin fish, hearicia, slim star hymenaster, glass squid, sea butterfly, peanut worm, feeler fish, sea pig, zombie worm, flashlight fish, cat shark, and saw fish.

But the psychiatrist went further, revealing his knowledge of the underwater world with scientific names of what became visible as the vessel plunged deeper and deeper into the levels of this liquid environment.

Malten named cnidarians, ctenophores, echinoderms, ostracods, copepods, chaetognaths, cephalopods, teuthids, arthropods, placodermi, and torpediniformes.

Before his listening, watching passengers were fully cognizant of the fact, the Psycho-Globe had descended deeply into the Abyssopelagic Zone, coming extremely close to the ordinary floor od the Pelagic Sea.

The psychiatrist continued addressing the passengers of the submarine he steered and controlled from his seat in front of the instrument panel.

“As all of us can see, the sea outside has turned completely dark and lightless, except for the sea creatures that produce their own illumination, which goes by the term bioluminescence, an inherited trait that depends upon an oxidative enzyme called luciferase. The light that results is an aid to the species that has it in attracting beings upon which it can then feed itself as a predator. Life forms with this ability often lack eyes with visual ability. They survive in a world of darkness, eyeless among enemies and dependent upon their bulk and size to a great extent.”

All of a sudden, Capricia began to point with her hand and describe what she caught sight of through the silicon window that everyone aboard was looking at.

“Look! There is a strange blue-green light out there. It seems to be coming toward us and is growing clearer and brighter. What is it? Will it collide with us, or will it turn away in time?”

“It has a number of tentacles stretching forth from its center!” gasped Data, her voice sounding with alarm. “Is it an octopus, Father? That’s what it looks like to me. I would call it a great octopus, one of the larger species.”

“This one qualifies to be ranked in the class of Enteroctopi,” opined Malten Cacoe. “See how the light glows from over forty points over its body. This one appears to be a giant, a gigantic one sometimes named a Colossal Octopus. I have read that our forefathers who explored the outer reaches of the Pelagic Sea observed such Colossals that ranged up to 150 feet long.” His voice began to grow sharp and shrill. “This may well be on of those grand monsters from the past. They were thought to have died out or disappeared. No one has caught sight of one of them for several generations, until now.”

His voice became silent as the passengers began to grow alarmed and afraid.

They all realized that the Colossal Octopus was approaching close to the Psycho-Globe and was on route to crash into them.

Impulses of panicky fear arose in the minds of everyone on the vessel.

V.

Bren, seated on a concrete bench in a small park facing the Porto Lago docks, kept his eyes focused on the waters of the city’s bay.

Beside him on the bench lay a large plastic sack holding the transmitter device tuned to the electro-magnetic frequency of the bomb controls out on the surface of the Psycho-Globe.

When shall I set the bomb into action? the psychiatrist wondered. The submarine is now far under the waves of the sea, that is clear and understood. It is now the appropriate time to proceed with my plan to win final victory over my proven enemy. This is the right moment to take total vengeance on the pseudo-doctor who attracts and bewitches the ignorant. Why wait any longer? Common sense dictates that the next step will be the supreme one in the course I know to be the only acceptable alternative available to me.

Malten, on the verge of fulfilling what he had for years dreamed of, suddenly heard a familiar voice address him from his left side.

“I’ve found you,” came the words, without greeting or identification. “It was logical to conclude that you would be facing out into the bay and the open sea, Bren.”

The latter turned his eyes to the side, catching sight of the Mayor of Porto Lago.

The psychiatrist was too stunned to say a word to the man stepping before him.

Mayor Dako Mutram pointed to the small box holding a black device that Bren had sitting in his lap.

“That must be the detonating mechanism that you ordered built for you,” said the official in a gruff voice. “Have you made use of it yet?”

Bren glared with angry indignation. “What if it is? All of this is my business and no one else’s. I know what I am doing. Everything has been thought out, over and over. I know perfectly well what I am doing. Nobody else knows.”

Dako suddenly moved to the side, turning about so that he could sit down at the side of the hospital director.

“I have been bothered by the question of whether our answer to this psychiatric vessel should be a direct, violate one. Can anyone avoid the beginning of an unending exchange, person against person, group against group?

“We must think out and understand what it is we want to accomplish by force, only with complete knowledge and consciousness do we deserve to be approved.”

Bren turned his head directly at the Mayor, staring at him with piercing dark sloe eyes. “You must be loosing your nerve about what you previously were glad to approve and support,” he asserted with candor and emotion. “I take it, then, that you are not one with a constant temper, not at all.

“You must have therefore reached the conclusion that I am not to carry out my long-distance attack on those people. Is that it, Dako?”

The latter appeared overwhelmed by what he had just heard and unable to find any counter-argument that he could give.

Instead of saying anything, Dako threw himself forward, lunging toward the electro-magnetic device sitting on the lap of Bren Fetch.

The two bodies slammed into each other, the one hurling in from the side, the other attempting to escape physical collision with the attacker.

Brem, losing his balance, started to fall forward. The electro-magnetic device rolled forward as his legs bent as he sought to restore his body’s equilibrium. Feeling instantaneous fear and danger, he reached down to save the apparatus from falling to the ground.

His index finger, with any other purpose beyond establishing firm hold of what he had held in his hands till then, happening to touch and press upon the triggering button that was set to transmit the signaling impulse through the air, into the sea, downward to its planned, designated target destination.

Unconsciously, the man behind the bombing scheme set in motion the broadcast of the initiation of the explosion of material destruction and human death.

It was a special Ectoctopus, the type called a Colossal kind, that had focused its attention on the Psycho-Globe.

What was this hard, metallic object? Was it some new enemy, a danger to even a gigantic monster-like octopus? The natural, instinctive reaction was to pour over and began to explore and investigate it. Was there any sort of food substance connected to it? Was it a living being of this region of the deep sea? Was it present to do harm to octopi and similar creatures?

Almost automatically, the colossal being began to pull and take hold of available portions of the globe’s spherical surface. It pushed, then it pulled, back and forth, this way, then that way.

All at once, something loosened on the aluminum-titanium skin of the stranger that the octopus was exploring and testing. This minor object was a lot smaller than the large ball that it was attached to.

The part of the whole became separated from the great sphere it was adhering to. The great octopus succeeded in bringing it away, free of the Psycho-Globe that had previously held it tightly to itself.

Success and victory of the monster proved temporary because of what occurred as it pushed itself away from the globe, breaking its prior connections to it.

Explosion came in one single instant, one of ruinous death.

For it was the Colossal Octopus that was broken to bits and disintegrated by the electro-magnetic device, not its intended target, not its designated, planned victims.

The Psycho-Globe was rocked and shaken by the force of the explosion, but suffered no direct physical damage or harm.

The octopus and its stolen prize were a short distance away, but far enough to save the submersible from the bomb. There was no major effect on the passengers inside beyond the sudden discomfort as the sea creature was decimated and destroyed.

What has happened to the monstrous octopus? the patients and their therapists asked each other.

The human passengers were unable to produce any explanation whatever.

The octopus that had held them like captives was now gone, destroyed by some dark, invisible power or force within the depths of the Pelagic Sea.

Something unexplainable had occurred. Something had perhaps emerged out of the Great Trench to save them from the hungry, predatory octopus attempting to envelope and consume their metallic sphere.

“We must return to Porto Lago at once,” Dr. Malten Cacoe told the others aboard the global sphere. “That is the best for us. No good waits for us if where stay here any longer.”

The submersible moved upright until it reached the lighted zone of sea water. Then it slowly proceeded toward its home on the dock of Porto Lago.

No one dared speak or address the spectacle they had just experienced in the depths. Eugo and Capricia looked at each other in utter silence, trying to guess with the thoughts and feelings of the loved one might have evolved into.

VI.

The mobile emergency vancar arrived from the hospital minutes after being summoned by the Mayor on the nano-unit he carried for official purposes.

He explained to the medicos who tried to treat the comatose, rapidly expiring Director of the city’s hospital what had occurred in creating a medical crisis.

“Dr. Fetch and I were meeting to discuss various health problems in the city. He suddenly began to cough and choke. I could see that he was losing breath. I decided that I had to do something to aid him, so I decided to rub his heart muscles and try to restore his breathing to full capacity. It was plain to me that he was suffering congestion and palpitation from a failure of his cardiac and respiration systems. His condition was growing worse, even critical, by the second.

“So, I attempted CPR and some emergency maneuvers in order to restore his physical coordination and functioning, but it turned out to be all in vain. He deteriorated swiftly. It was terrifying and alarming to watch. I grew more nervous and was losing valuable time, so I decided to call for emergency help over my official nano-unit.

“I am thankful that this team arrived her so quickly, but it has turned out to be too late to accomplish the most important goal of keeping this patient alive. He had to have died while I was working to prevent deterioration of his interior functioning.

“Now it is possible to determine that he was brought down by an unforeseeable crisis in his heart and breathing organs. I feel deep sorrow over what I have experienced in this particular place. It is a most tragic end to Dr. Fetch’s brilliant medical career.”

“Do you wish to have a sedative, Your Honor?” inquired one of the medical nurses.

“No, thank you,” replied Dako Mutram. “I had better return to my office in City Hall. I will have to make a police report on what happened here. It will be complete and explain how my dear friend passed away so unexpectedly.”

The two psychiatrists, Malten and Data, were the first from the Psycho-Globe to learn about the unusual, enigmatic death of the Director of the city’s hospital. Both of them were at first puzzled and astonished. Only that evening, sharing a late dinner in their favorite dockside inn, did the pair seriously consider what the unforeseen event might mean for them and their innovative type of psychiatric practice.

“He was our primary enemy, the fiercest and most determined,” speculated the father. “We may now have the freedom to develop our system of therapy without hatred and enmity.

“I was always unable to understand the opposition of Bren, who had once been my closest friend. But he was the main obstacle to our professional progress. And now he has been abruptly removed from the stage of Porto Lago medicine.”

Data, having listened silently for a considerable time since leaving the vessel with her father, now expressed her personal, individual thought to him.

“Do you what I believe, can you guess how it is that I feel?

“I am glad that he will now be absent. Bren Fetch will no longer be present to afflict and oppose us. I think of him as the major force of evil that was blocking your progress, father.

“Now he will be absent and no longer able to torment us.

“You and I will now enjoy a strange variety of revenge, father dear.”

She looked at him with love and devotion, rejoicing at the demise of their common foe.

Oego accompanied Capricia to her flat. The pair took food items from the ice compartment and prepared a rapid meal for themselves. Only after they had finished eating did Oego tell her where his thoughts were taking him.

“I am considering that we quit our treatment with the Cacoes, on the Psycho-Globe. We have taken enormous risks, the latest happening today.

“It is time to cut the knot and give our psychiatrist word that we shall not be staying in Porto Nago. Once that is done, we can decide where to leave for. My personal aim and desire, of course, is that we decide to share the identical destination. That is what I have conceived as our wisest course.”

He gazed at her with steady, unflinching eyes.

“If that is to be done, then we have to inform the Cacoes at once,” she murmured slowly. “I am willing to go and announce this to them tonight. Would you have any reluctance to do so, my dear?” she cautiously asked.

“No, I am perfectly willing to go at this moment,” he said with a grin that was surprising to her. “Let’s take a walk there before the solar star sets this evening. I am sure that the two of them will still be awake and willing to meet with us on the subject we wish to bring up.”

“I am glad that we can secure our future together this way,” declared Capricia, an unexpected brightness visible in her sable eyes.

VII.

Malten Cacao and his daughter, both exhausted from their trying experiences that day, were close to turning in for needed rest when the two patients arrived. Data answered the door and let them in.

“It is surprising to see you here so soon after we all returned from our voyage and what happened to us down in the sea,” she said with a welcoming smile. “Come in, my father should be out of his bedroom immediately.”

Malten entered from the interior of the flat, also surprised at who it was he heard entering and talking with his daughter.

“Good evening,” he greeted the pair. “I did not think I would see any of you until some time tomorrow.”

Data proposed that all of them sit down in the living room of the apartment, which allowed the two Cacoes to face both Capricia and Oego directly.

“How do the two of you feel?” inquired Malten with obvious curiosity. “It was quite an experience that we weathered today, wasn’t it? I believe that everyone who happened to be a passenger has earned and deserves a long period of rest and recovery.

“I know that Data agrees with me that things will have to take something of a pause for a brief time, perhaps close to a week. But she and I expect that, in reasonable time, we and our patients will be busy with our programs of therapy and personality restructuring once again.

“That will be a necessary, restoring factor in the lives of all of us, both therapists and patients,” he stated, ending with a broad grin of self-confidence and positive optimism.

Focusing his mind on what he and Capricia had agreed was to be their future shared course of life, Oego leaned his head forward and fixed his copper eyes sharply upon the older, male psychiatrist.

“I have to reveal to both of you something that Capricia and I have decided about what our plans are going to be.

“Our unified decision is to put an immediate halt to all our activities here under your supervision and guidance. This choice of ours, of course, is closely connected to the several tragic events that we both have experienced while going down in the sea within the Psycho-Globe.

“Capricia and I both accept the idea that we have had beneficial results from the advice and talks we have had with both of you, but the accidental collisions with sea monsters has resulted, each time, in reversal and backsliding in our two cases. The improvements in the conditions of our thinking and emotions has not been wholly preserved after each of the unfortunate incidents at the sea bottom.

“Traveling close to and into the Great Trench has exposed us to unnecessary dangers and negative influences to our personalities. Each time that we improved and rose some, the deep sea and its gigantic creatures has struck and repelled us backward again.

“Neither of us wishes to repeat this cycle of advance followed by retreat, so we will leave as soon as we can arrange it.

“We go away without bad feelings or opinions toward either of you, but we cannot stay here in Porto Lago a day longer.

“Our future treatment must occur elsewhere, perhaps best away from and distant from the Pelagic Sea and what has happened to us deep within it.”

Once he had finished expressing what he had in mind, a hesitant silence filled the living room. What would the Cacoes attempt to say? How would each of them react to this shattering announcement of a rapturing of the treatment program that had been planned at the beginning?

Data decided to express her feelings first.

“This will be sad for both my father and for me. I have come to have a special affection and liking for both of you, and speaking for my father I dare say that he shares my regret at losing the two of you as patients.

“So much more could have been accomplished,” she whined. “You might have achieved recovery of so much that had been lost during your past lives.”

Her father cut in as soon as she finished pronouncing her last word.

“I think exactly as my daughter does, let me admit. But that does not count at all under the circumstances. What the two of you have chosen to do must be accepted by the two of us, even with great reluctance.

“It is perhaps an inevitable product of the kind of therapy that the two of us are pioneering.

“Taking patients deep into the sea’s dark waters is exactly similar to delving beneath the conscious mind, into the unconscious regions that are shadowy and most often unknowable.

“Our sincere hope has been to allow the human psyche and the personality to undergo exploration similarly to how oceanographers might delve downward to study the Great Trench and its unknown, still unstudied inhabitants.

“In a way, our intent has been to allow the patients to observe and become familiar with the residents of the sea’s waters. The aim is to encourage self-exploration modeled on what students of nature do with the environment beyond themselves.

“In a strange way, each of you turns into a separate, individual sea of the mind when you undergo a descent in the Psycho-Globe.

“It cannot be made into something perfectly safe and secure.

“It will always be something with both adventure and hazard involved.”

An uncomfortable, embarrassing silence prevailed for a brief moment.

“Excuse us, we have to leave and start making our plans and arrangements,” announced Capricia, the first to rise to her feet.

Oego did the same, making the first move toward the door and out of the apartment of the Cacoes.

He nodded first to Data, then to her father. Neither of them made any reply, either with words or gesture.

When the pair of visitors were gone, Malten Cacoe turned to Datta.

“We have to try to find some new patients to treat,” he whispered to her.

The End

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Deep Sea Visions Part IV.

15 May

I.

Bren Fetch could not afford to reveal the character of his action against the two Cacoes, the father and daughter. When he visited Mayor Dako Mutram at his office, he spoke only in the most general terms of his plan to rid Porto Lago of the two psychiatrists and their Psycho-Globe. The head of the city’s hospital tried to assure Dako that in a short while there could be a way of preventing more experimentation with the underwater submersible used as a therapeutic instrument.

“We are not without weapons and tools to aid in closing the dangerous new method now going on,” noted Bren soon after entering the Mayor’s office in City Hall. “We will establish without any doubt the criminal nature of this mad, ludicrous descending into the depths of the sea. It cannot be tolerated by our medical establishment or by the governmental institutions of this community. All available means have to be mobilized, just as in an actual war.”

Dako Mutram took note of the wild anger in the physician who was now his partner against the two Cacoes.

“It is sad and ironic that the man’s own daughter has suffered serious injury while engaged in using the submarine vehicle in treating mental patients. Even that tragedy has not dampened his ambitions in this program of his.” He halted a moment, staring at the hospital Director. “You have known the man, Malten Cacoe, a long time, haven’t you?”

Bren seemed taken aback by the unexpected question of the Mayor, but replied after a few seconds of thought.

“Yes, we two go back together in the medical profession. We attended medical school together in the capital city. The two of us seem to have been fierce competitors and rivals from the start. We faced each other for grades and prizes of all sorts.

“He did not like me, and I learned to despise him as well. It is possible to tag us as born enemies. In every possible way, he opposed me and I did the same in my relationship to him.

“When I courted the woman who was to become my wife, it was Malten who tried to interfere and win her affections away from me.

“He ended up marrying another, who became the mother of his one child, the daughter who became a psychiatrist under his guidance and supervision.

‘But neither of the two of us have ever forgotten the severe conflicts that we earlier had with each other.

“The story of our dislike for each other is a very long one. This is now the finale of endless quarrels and battles fought between Malten Cacoe and myself.

“Who could have foreseen it reaching the point we are in today?”

The two exchanged inquiring looks that neither of them thoroughly understood or deciphered.

Oego had news to deliver to Capricia when he stopped to see her at her apartment one late afternoon.

“You and I will have the opportunity of another voyage into the sea depths,” he informed her. “We will be under the supervision of Malten Cacoe this time, since Data is not yet fully recovered from the injuries she suffered from the collision of the global and the monster jellyfish.

“That should prove to be an interesting adventure below.”

“We are more used to being with Data, though,” mused Capricia. “How will it be different under his authority, I wonder.”

“The father will be having a conference with each of use going down with him. That way, he hopes to be ready to take care of each individual on a personal, individual basis should things go wrong.”

Upon hearing his last expression, she seemed to shiver for a second. “I fear any repetition of what occurred before. It was horribly painful for me.”

“We have to do the best we can, without fear of any kind,” Oego assured her. “The future health of the passengers who accompany Malten Cacoe depends on the capacity of each of us to encourage and inspire the others aboard the Psycho-Globe. The individual will be highly dependent upon the group and every person aboard with her or him.”

Capricia smiled with sudden delight. “You and I are going to have to think and feel in tandem, I would suppose.”

“I agree,” nodded Oego.

Data was frustrated. She had hoped and expected to leave the hospital much sooner than now appeared probable. Her father attempted to alleviate her distress caused by the inactivity forced on her by necessity.

“You have to be patient,” he consoled her. “When you are well enough to get back in action, the situation with the Psycho-Globe will be further ahead in all aspects, I anticipate. The enterprise will not be standing still, but progressing on.

“I plan to take personal charge of a new voyage to the depths in the very near future. There will be an innovative feature: the team of patients will be larger than before.

“I have decided to add three additional patients to the contingent traveling with me. This enlargement will provide a wider range of human types and varieties to compare and study. It will become possible to measure the effects of the increase in pressure and decline in temperature on behavioral and psychological patterns in our expanded sample of patients.”

“You expect to be able to learn more from this larger group, then?”

“Yes, and I have even greater plans. What do you think of my taking the global down into the Great Trench? That has never been done before because of the great distance downward that is involved.

“It is possible to imagine that magnified therapeutic results could come about. So, I see all the reasons for descending into what is called the Hadalpelagic Zone that starts at around 36,000 feet below sea level.”

“That may be interesting to accomplish,” said Data, “but there are many added dangers down that low. It may turn out to be very risky. What do you think, father?” she asked him plaintively.

Maltem grinned with optimism. “I believe we can accomplish marvelous achievements with the patients we take into an environment that they cannot at all be familiar with. It is the very strangeness and foreignness of all that they shall witness for themselves in the Great Trench that will cause a jolt of colossal impact on their minds.”

“But no one knows what exists at the bottom beneath the sea floor, father. How can we be certain that seeing what is there will rebalance their thoughts and emotions so much?”

Her parent reached forward and took her hand in his. “Whatever we find down there in the Trench, it is certain to have a deep effect upon all who see it for the first time.”

The two of them stared at each other, each with different considerations and worries.

II.

Malten Cacoe arranged to see and talk with the patients whom his daughter had examined and analyzed, first Oego Biffen and then Capricia Depone. \

The landscape painter appeared willing to be open and candid with the psychiatrist replacing the hospitalized Data Cacoe.

“I have carefully read the records kept by my daughter,” began the doctor. “From what she had put down concerning you, I would agree with her about what is causing you to suffer such severe depression and despair about yourself and your life.

“Your lack of self-esteem and self-worth does not stem from any deficiency in your artistic talent or achievements with your paintings. There is no possible success capable of lifting your self-image. It has become a permanent feature with which you live. Self-degradation permeates and poisons every section of your thinking and living. Nothing you can do in your career affects this aspect of your course.”

“What can I or anyone else do about it?” asked Oego with unconcealed emotion.

“This is where your experiences in our Psycho-Globe matters. There is reason to believe that what you see and experience in the depths of the Pelagic Sea can alter this situation to some degree.

“I have a suggestion to make to you, my friend. Why don’t you try to paint some of what you view while in the lower zones? If you remember the most impressive and entrancing fishes and animate beings that you see, that could then become the theme of a painting by you.

“We can call those new paintings that you produce your version of an unknown world that only a very few ever have the opportunity to see for themselves.

“They can observe that deep sea realm through your unique eyes and brain.

“What do you think of what I propose, Oego?”

The latter looked stunned and perplexed by what had just been proposed that he do.

“I think I should think about it for awhile,” answered the patient.

Malten Cacoe smiled with satisfaction. He had incited the painter to future action that could be beneficial to a kind of self-treatment on his own, by himself.

The next patient analyzed by Data was Capricia Depone, who was characterized as a fragile personality who had grown up under the authoritarian domination of her mother.

Malten was interested in finding out how important her fascination with playing drums was tied to the overpowering influence and will of this excessively determinant parent of hers.

“Do you recall how it was that you became a young player of drums?” he asked the musician once they were both seated.

Thinking over what she should say to this, Capricia hesitated a noticeable time before she gave her reply.

“It happened after I became very sick. The drums were fun to beat on, and they did not have the difficulty presented by a piano.”

“You first attempted to learn how to play piano?” perked up the psychiatrist. “That is interesting, I believe.”

“My mother was the one who chose the piano to be my instrument, but it caused me difficulty and pain. I was just not adjusted to it, and I had a hard time trying to learn and master it.

“I became quite ill, often vomiting when I should have been practicing my musical pieces. As soon as I began to learn how to beat rhythms on a drum for a group of young musicians, my illness came to an end. It happened like magic, all it once my vomiting stopped. There was no more of it anymore.”

“How did your mother react to your preference for drums over the piano, which she had chosen and preferred?”

Capricia frowned a bit. “I always had to feel guilty about it, because I knew that she hated it as a sign of my stubborn resistance, at least in this one narrow area. Mother never wanted to hear me play the drums in a band or orchestra.”

“In most cases, though, your mother always tended to have her way. Is that the general rule, the way it was for you?”

The patient appeared close to the point of breaking out with tears.

“It was a painful way to grow up, I now know,” whispered Capricia.

The psychiatrist leaned his head forward intently, as if wishing to reveal something in confidence to this particular patient.

“I have great confidence that the deeper we penetrate the depths, even into the Great Trench of the Pelagic Sea, the more you will be able to understand and cope with the hold that your mother continues to hold over your selfhood.

“Do not despair or doubt it, you will receive what you have long needed out there under the waves of the sea.”

Dr. Cacoe was familiar with the suspicious, distrusting, uncertain personality of the lawyer named Nogo Jatist.

He looked directly into the face of the virile, muscular, but lanky man he had examined, talked to, and analyzed before.

Nogo is suffering an extreme case of serious paranoia, the therapist told himself.

“You look a lot better than you did when I last saw you, my friend. That happened to be when you were recovering in the Porto Lago Hospital.”

Nogo was slow in reacting to what he heard. “I am surprised that you tell me that. There has been no change noticeable to me in how I feel about what brought me here for treatment. Wherever I might chance to go, it seems I will always be introducing myself to potential enemies and people who will eventually be seeking to harm me.

“Will I ever be free of those who pose a threat to me and my life, Doctor?”

The psychiatrist thought quickly to produce a suitable reply that he hoped would satisfy the troubled patient at least in the present moment of time.

“That is not easy to answer, Nogo. But I can assure you that returning to the depths of the sea can open closed doors inside your mind.

“Do not be concerned about what occurred earlier. By now, you have overcome the bad part of that experience and are ready for a solution that will solve the problems that you have become aware of about your past.

“This next voyage to the lower levels of the Pelagic Sea holds promise of real change in you. I myself will attempt to help you reach personal liberation from the horrible fears that cause so much damaging pain to you.

“Will you work with me on the mission of freeing your thoughts and emotions from their past, Nogo?”

The latter sensed that he could make only a single possible response to this.

“Yes, Doctor, I will do my best to rid myself of what tortures my mind.”

Malten Cacoe held sessions with two additional patients added to the passenger group from the conventional patients under treatment by himself and his daughter, bringing the contingent set to travel to the depths with him to a total of five.

The day for the descent was set and all the participants assembled on the dock beside the Psycho-Globe on the chosen morning.

Malten assigned each person his or her seat along the outer wall of the spherical vessel. He himself took the pilot’s position and signaled to the land crew that those aboard were ready to begin their movement into the sea.

As the submersible slid into the harbor bay and began to sink downward into the water, one figure stood all alone on the roof of the Porto Lago Hospital watching it depart. Dr. Bren Fetch wondered whether he was alone in observing the scene, and whether this would be the last that anyone not aboard would observe of the Psycho-Globe.

If his efforts turned out successful, his passion for revenge would at long last win its satisfaction, he was certain. He will have gained the right to be free of the guilt and resentment he nursed against the man taking patients where they had no business traveling.

III.

The Psycho-Globe gradually slipped to lower levels, through the Mesopelagic, to the Bathypelagic, into the Abyssopelagic.

Malten Cacoe described the changing seascape outside the panoramic glass of the observation window for the five passengers accompanying him into the deepest waters of the Pelagic Sea.

“You can see for yourself how totally dark, except for animal-created bio-light this zone is. Most living creatures here are blind and also colorless. Over 90% of them are bio-luminescent.

“As we descend below 20,000 feet we shall be entering the specific area called the Great Trench, also known as the Hadalpelagic Zone well below the average floor that is the bottom of the normal sea. This Trench has rarely been explored, even by our oceanographers. Few sea vehicles are strong enough to withstand the pressure that goes up to hundreds of times air pressure above the sea or the ground.

“What shall we be seeing down in the Trench? There are many soft-shelled amphipod crustaceans and decapods such as prawns, lobsters, and crabs. You will also see small liparids such as snailfish and rad-tails such as grenadiers. Shipworms, tubeworms, garfish, and serpentfish will also be visible.

“As higher up in the Abyssopelagic Zone, you may catch sight of echinoderms, arthopods, sea cucumbers, and even some squid and jellyfish.

“But for the most part, the Great Trench remains mostly unexplored, so that it can be said to contain a lot of potential surprises for those adventurous enough to enter and explore its reaches.”

The psychiatrist seemed to be smiling at what he had just told the patients he was speaking to.

All eyes were gazing through the wide window on the darkness that filled the Great Trench when an unexpected sensation, accompanied with a sudden clashing sound, surprised all six human being in the Psycho-Globe. The vehicle seemed to rock again and again. It took several seconds for anyone to realize that the sphere they were in had been hit by something unseen but exceedingly heavy.

It took effort to avoid being thrown out of a seat, onto the floor. Everyone had a problem of maintaining equilibrium as the floor rose and fell on and on.

Through the window, a single mass of bioluminescent flesh took up the entire visible space. What is it? asked every brain aboard. What can it be?

An answer to the shared, general question came out of the mouth of Malten Cacoe, the one at the controls.

“I think that we were hit by what is known as a Colossal Squid, a gigantic one of incredible size. Such a large, heavy monster can reach between 50 and 100 feet in length at higher levels of the sea.

“This is a giant cephalopod that has ten arms and a variable number of tentacles. Perhaps it will allow us to see itself as it circles and tries to take hold of us and the globe we are in. A Colossal Squid can weigh up to one ton, but I suspect this one around us is heavier than that.

“I recognize what it is by the tentacle I can now see on the outer surface of our window. There are the unique hooks characteristic of the tentacles of this gargantuan kind of squid that lives at the bottom levels of the sea.

“This monster squid goes far beyond those usually considered the colossal variety or species.”

All of a sudden, shouts filled the Psycho-Globe as one of the new patients, on board for the first time, started to scream in panic and fear.

All eyes turned and focused on him.

Oego rose from his seat and carefully moved across to the terrorized one, taking his right hand into his own. “Do not be afraid, we shall survive, all of us. The Doctor will see us back safely, I assure you. But we must show courage, all of us. No one must lose hold or control. We have to be brave, every one of us here.”

By then, the shaking of the vessel had ceased. It appeared that the Colossal Squid, proving unable to squeeze the sphere to any degree, was leaving and going on. The hold on their global was being loosened.

Oego and Capricia looked at each other with relief, each one reassuring and strengthened the other.

“We are escaping from the Colossal Squid, my dear,” whispered the painter.

Speechless, the musician merely smiled back and nodded.

“We are leaving the Great Trench at once,” sharply shouted Dr. Cacoe. “It is best that we return to Porto Lago.”

As the Colossal Squid began to give up its hold on the Psycho-Globe and swim away from them, the psychiatrist at the controls put the craft into movement upward, departing from the Great Trench as quickly as possible.

IV.

The Psycho-Globe had lifted only a few seconds and was barely out of the Great Trench when the loud explosive sound was heard by all the passengers.

Their eyes roamed about in all directions looking for an explanation. What was it? What was the cause of the alarming sound? What did it mean?

It was Oego who first saw something suspicious coming out of the instrument board where Dr. Malten Cacoe sat, but was turned away from the dials and gauges on the vessel’s circular wall.

Everyone looked where the painter pointed with his right hand, to where a strange mist, like a barely visible cloud, seemed to be escaping from the instrument panel into the inner space of the cabin.

What could it be they saw? What was causing this emission of something that might pose serious danger to all of them? Could anyone do anything to stop or control this flowing form of gas?

Oego, realizing the urgent need for some kind of active intervention, leaped out of his seat and threw himself in the direction of the disturbing brown gas.

Whatever it might turn out to be, someone had to stop its spreading through the interior of the vessel.

Oego understood at once that the explosion had occurred behind the instrument board, within the compartment that contained the apparatuses that both measured and directed the vertical and horizontal movements of the Psycho-Globe. The cause of what they were perceiving had to lie within that general space, that portion of the electronic-mechanical control system of the sea vehicle.

It took less than ten seconds for Oego to locate the outline of the outer cover of the direction board. With both hands, he grabbed at the two ends of it and pulled toward himself. Would it open? Indeed, the cover moved under his effort to deal with it.

There lay the small cylinder, the canister from which gas was flowing forth.

Oego grabbed the source of the disturbing gas and lifted it out of its location inside the compartment full of complicated apparatuses.

“What should I do with this potential danger? wondered the landscape artist.

Smash it, destroy it, dismantle it. Those were the potential alternatives that at once occurred in his mind. Which option was possible, which would be best?

In time, Oego noticed the small opening through which the gas flowed out.

He placed his left hand over the small space, closing and corking it on a temporary basis.

Doctor Cacoe then came to his aid.

“Here,” he said, “Put my notebook over the spot from which it was coming out,” he said, offering the pad to the painter. The latter instantly took it with his right hand and did as the psychiatrist had directed him to do.

The hard cover of the notepad was adequate to function as a permanent obstacle to the escape of any more of the unidentified gas from the canister that held it.

Oego picked up the cylinder and carried it back to his seat, careful to keep it safely blocked up and closed.

The psychiatrist went back to steering the vessel, driving it upward toward the upper levels of the Pelagic Sea and then to its surface.

Oego continued watching the canister with attention and care, holding it tightly with both hands.

Arriving and docking in Porto Lago harbor, the passengers aboard the Psycho-Globe exited in physical and mental exhaustion. Dr. Malten Cacoe insisted that everyone go at once to the city hospital to be examined, provided with first aid, or kept as a patient there should that prove to be required.

The majority of the six were able to reach the facility by walking, but two of the new passenger-patients had to travel by jitney-cab summoned to transport them to the emergency section.

“I have decided to go to my daughter’s room in order to inform her of what happened on our descent today,” announced Malten to the passengers being examined and questioned by the staff medicos.

“Can I visit, as well?” asked Capricia. “I think that I could relate much about the adventure that we all went through today.”

“Yes, that is a good idea,” nodded the psychiatrist. “Why don’t you come along as well, Oego?”

The latter accepted the proposal and joined with him and Capricia in a walk into the main area of Porto Lago City Hospital.

Data was surprised to see the threesome enter her room, where she sat in a chair reading a medical journal.

Her father approached, bent down in front of her, and the two kissed.

Oego and Capricia, directly behind him, greeted Data, then waited to hear Malten relate what had occurred to them on the Psycho-Globe. As she listened to the terrifying tale, the daughter turned pale with concern.

“No one suffered injuries from the attack or the exploding gas device?” she inquired with concern.

“We were quite fortunate on that score,” replied her father. “I fear though that all of us will for a considerable time have horrible fears and bad memories clouding our minds.

“Who could be the culprit behind all this criminal action? I wonder. There must be some twisted, nefarious purpose for this kind of sophisticated attack. The police will be informed of all the known details, but they are very few.

“I must admit to you, Data, that I fear the human instigator of the criminal attack more than even the worst that the Colossal Squid is capable of doing to us.

“As soon as it becomes possible, I wish to make a return down to the Great Trench and see what other giant predators may be lurking down in those depths.”

Data looked away from her father a little, a frown on her brow. “You must take measures for protection, father. We have some horrible enemy trying to ruin and destroy us and what we are doing.

“Who could it be? What can produce such unlimited hostility to us and what we are trying to do for our patients?”

Malten Cacoe reached out and took hold of his daughter’s right hand.

“I intend to take this matter up with the city police and our government authorities,” he boldly announced. “We must all cooperate in the fight ahead for what we believe in.”

Oego suddenly spoke up. “We, the patients who go down on the Psycho-Globe, will try to help as much as is possible in that search for answers. It must be a cooperative endeavor that includes all of us.”

“I, too, will join the effort,” promised Capricia in a breathless tone.

Malten bent down over Data, kissing her on the forehead. As soon as he straightened up again, he spoke to her. “You need to rest, and we must go over to City Hall and report what we know to the police.

“Goodbye, my girl. I shall be back soon to tell you how our search and investigation is going.”

In seconds, the three visitors departed.

Bren Fetch had left his office in the hospital soon after the Psycho-Globe had left the wharf in the harbor in the early morning.

Taking the day off, his plan was to be home in his apartment as the absence of the submersible came to be noticed and caused growing alarm in the city’s public.

After three hours at home, he decided to take a stroll down toward the waterfront docks. His curiosity had seized hold of his thoughts and he had become eager to learn whether the absence of the missing vessel had been noticed and word of it had spread.

It took only seconds for Dr. Fetch to suffer unforeseen surprise.

The Psycho-Globe was there, present at its customary position at the dock.

He felt his brain whirl and swoon. This was not at all what he anticipated.

How had it happened? Why had it occurred this way? There must be some reason, some cause for such a failure of the scheme he had constructed, the device he had put together.

Not knowing what to do at the moment, Bren Fetch found himself walking into a beer garden’s outdoor section and ordering a large cup of lager from a waiter.

What was he going to do about this frustrating disaster?

Since he had no ready answer to this, all that was left for him was to sit, drink, and mourn his unforeseen defeat. He grew more desperate by the second.

V.

Malten Cacoe, together with Oego and Capricia, went to Police Headquarters to make a report on the attempted sabotage of the therapeutic descent of the Psycho-Globe.

The pair of investigative detectives who listened to them and preserved their words and accounts on a micro-recorder seemed highly skeptical of the validity and truthfulness of what was being related to them by these three excited strangers.

When the business with these lawmen was finished, Oego offered to accompany Capricia back to her flat. The two parted with the psychiatrist and began to amble away from the police building.

“What is going to happen to us next?” anxiously questioned the drummer. “Is treatment in the sea depths to continue for you and me? Or for the other patients involved with the Cacoes?”

The two of them halted and faced each other directly. Oego began to speak with a slight nervous stammer.

“No one can rightly say, least of all can I. This is becoming like a dream, a cloudy, foggy one.

“You and I have got to stay in control and maintain a minimum amount of patience. We have to wait to see what might happen next.

“I hope and pray that the physical danger that we experienced both before from the giant shark and the jellyfish, then today from that Collosal Squid and the strange gas cylinder, are over, all of them.

“But we have no genuine guarantee of anything, dear Capricia.” The copper eyes of the painter grew bright with a light from somewhere inside. “Aren’t our lives always like that? I mean that all the important turns and developments are of a highly risky character, with no guarantees to them whatever.”

The musician and the landscape artist gave each other heartfelt smiles, then turned and continued their trek to her apartment.

Mayor Dako Mutram received a full report on what the psychiatrist who owned and made use of the Psycho-Globe claimed had happened on the vessel. He instantly realized that he had to find out what his associate Bren Fetch knew about the incident. What was behind its failure and what might be the next stage in the conflict with this type of psychotherapy?

His suspicion had to center upon the doctor who had such an enormous, long-standing grudge against Malten Cacoe.

He decided to make a surprise visit to the apartment where Fetch lived and press him to reveal whether he had taken action that could be defined as criminal in character.

He must not be allowed to drag me into trouble that could ruin me if discovered, the city official head told himself as he made his way to where the hospital director resided.

Bren, surprised by who was there, led his visitor into his apartment and asked him to take a chair while he did the same.

“I am astonished by what happened on the submersible of the Cacoes,” began the Mayor of Porto Lago. “This was an illegal use of force, an attempt to do violent damage and take the lives of the people who were aboard.” He paused a few moments as if for greater effect. “It is my fear, my friend, that you may be directly or indirectly connected to the deed.

“How personally were you involved in what happened? Will you tell me that?”

Bren thought a second or so, then began to answer.

“I would have told you more of the specific details, but I did not want to make any long explanation before I was ready to move. My plan was to relate everything to you eventually, when the time was right.

“At any rate, you did know enough to anticipate something like that which actually came about. I always had the intention of informing you in time, when the right condition came about.

“I now admit to you that something of this sort had to be committed. There was no way to avoid it, if these wild, uncontrolled psychiatrists are to be stopped. I had no effective alternative to actual action of some sort. It was my decision that this had to be done.”

The Mayor frowned with indignation. “You should have told me and asked for my approval. I think you might have listened to me and stayed patient for longer. I myself could have come up with a different, better idea than what you chose to put into motion.

“We might have avoided what is now a failure and a disaster.”

Dako Mutram glared at the doctor with an angry expression.

Bren surprised him with a sly, gloating grin. “All I can now say to you is this: the two of us are willy-nilly on a single road that neither of us can leave. I am now a prisoner caught by my action, but you are a captive of what you knew about what I might be up to.

“You are now tied to whatever comes after the step that I took. You must assist me in concealing my connection to the event, just as I will do for you.”

The pair stared at each in a contest of ocular strength, until the Mayor of Porto Lago appeared to flinch and submit.

“You must do nothing to interfere with any actions that I conclude must be taken in the days ahead,” said Bren in a slow, threatening tone. “I must now figure out what is necessary to prevent the Cacoes from proceeding forward with their evil program. That will not be easy to bring about.”

The hospital Director left without saying anything more to the petrified officeholder.

Malten Cacoe went by himself to the hospital, his aim being to speak alone with his daughter. There were matters he wanted for her only to hear from him.

“I can see more strength than previously in your face and in your eyes,” he told her with a heartfelt smile. “Something about you indicates that you will soon be back, working directly aboard the Psycho-Globe when it sets out with patients once again.”

“When do you plan that to happen, father?” she eagerly asked him.

“As soon as some of the fever and fear generated by what occurred last time dies down and begins to vanish,” he informed his daughter. “I do not think that is going to take too long to come about. Then, it will be the right time to take up voyaging down there once again.”

“Do you advise that the sphere go down all the way like before, into the Great Trench once again?”

“It depends, Data,” he replied succinctly. “It all depends.”

“Upon what?” she said with evident confusion in her voice.

Malten seemed to be distant in thought as he answered her question.

“I want to feel perfect confidence in the probability of success, as I did before we traveled down so far, and before this damaging sabotage began.

“I wish to be certain that the guilty person or persons are under lock and key somewhere, and that we can carry out our therapy with certainty, in total safety and security.

“Does that make sense to you, my dear?”

“Yes, of course it does,” she murmured with confidence, hoping that such a favorable condition came about with extraordinary speed and completeness.”

VI.

For a day after returning from the disastrous descent into the Great Trance, Nogo Jatist failed to realize what was happening inside himself.

Returning to his apartment, he immediately went to bed. His physical exhaustion and mental confusion overwhelmed his capacity for self-analysis. Only after a lengthy period of sleep were his mind and his body able to operate with their normal state of awareness and consciousness.

What he now realized was the truth about himself shook him to the foundation.

The depression and despair that had earlier disabled him was now back, and growing worse by the hour, by the minute.

What was he to do? Where was he going to seek assistance for this returning condition that was certain to make him its victim, its prisoner?

He sensed within himself a returning distrust of his psychiatric therapist, Dr. Malten Cacoe. It was clear to him that asking for help from that quarter would do him more harm than good.

His best course was to return to the Porto Lago Hospital and ask to enter as a general patient recovering from a terrible accident deep under the sea.

There would be no need for him to return under the care and direction of either of the Cacoes.

His claim would be for medicine to regulate the terrible pain that his condition was causing to him.

That should be enough to win him some rest and relief, Nogo hoped.

He doubted that much more than that would be practical or possible.

Oego and Capricia had a lot to talk about and work out between themselves.

The alarming incident with the Colossal Squid down in the Great Trench made little sense to either of them. Both she and he had profound difficulty in coping with the riddles presented them by the unexpected form of marine creature they had collided with when they had dived to the bottom in the Psycho-Globe.

The pair sat opposite each other in the kitchen of her flat, finishing the quick lunch that they had prepared together for themselves.

“There must be many more such strange, unknown creatures of extraordinary size lurking in this oceanic trench,” mused Capricia, almost as if her companion was absent and she was entirely alone. “I can only imagine their size and appearance, but I dread what destruction they are capable of when we go back there, if we should do so in the Psycho-Globe.

“It may be wiser for all human beings to remain out of and away from that particular region of the Pelagic Sea.

“That would surely be the most rational alternative to choose.”

She fixed her sable eyes on the fellow patient she had learned to make the focus of her hopes, dreams, and plans.

Oego began to feel an internal unease as her
gaze intensified.

“I do not, at this moment have any answer to what you happen to be asking,” he said to her, careful not to disturb the delicate emotional equilibrium that existed between them. “But I realize that this is not the moment or the situation when decision has become necessary to make.

“Can’t you and I delay, at least postpone, any final choice on what decision to make, what action to carry out. Because once we take a partic

ular road, there can be no turning back, reversal, or changing of the route ahead of us.

“Any step selected or carried out today, under the circumstances that now prevail, will solidify and become entirely irreversible.

“Our future will then no longer contain the freedom that we today enjoy.”

Capricia gave a look of surprise that disconcerted him.

“Then what is best?” she demanded in desperation. “Must we just sit tight and wait to see what is going to happen to us?”

Oego, all of a sudden, made a sad, tragic grin. “That will surely be very hard to keep to, but anything else would be riskier and probably worse.

“We are not in control of events, Capricia, they are what will determine what our futures, yours and mine, will contain.

“That is what both of us will have to acknowledge. Other people are going to shape what happens to us more than we are.”

He gave her a blank look with sympathetic emotion masked in it.

Malten Cacoe had an important thought to communicate to his daughter. It concerned her wish and desire to leave the Porto Lago Hospital and return to the home she shared with her father.

“I am concerned about how you are managing to get along without me,” she said to him when he came to the room she was recuperating in. “And I am becoming frustrated with the length of my stay here in this medical facility.

“I desperately want to go home with you, father,” she pleaded with him in a childlike tone. “That is the place that I ought to be, not here among sick people.

“Won’t you talk to those who run the facility. I’m becoming sick and tired of the inactivity and boredom that surrounds me. Every day is just like the one before. And the nights are similarly monotonous.

“You have to get me a release, because I’m starting to feel like a prisoner in jail for my misdeeds on the outside.

“Can’t you talk to Dr. Fetch and convince him I have recovered well enough to leave? After all, my mind and my body can rebuild themselves at home as fast and as well as here in the hospital.

“Do I really need this constant attention from the medical and nursing staff?
I doubt that I do.”

Her father appeared to be frowning in sudden thought. “Don’t tell me that I should take the matter up with Bren Fetch. The two of us have never been too close. In fact, we have from the beginning of our careers in medicine been at odds on numerous occasions.” He paused a long moment. “There have been arguments, rivalries, and competitive conflicts between the two of us.

“But perhaps I should attempt to speed up your departure for home.

“Yes, I’ll take it up with him.

“But not today, Data. Perhaps tomorrow. That might be wisest.”

He smiled at his daughter as memories of past unfriendly encounters with Bren Fetch whirled about in the back of his mind’s memory.

Do I have the nerve to do it? the Director of the Porto Lago Hospital asked himself again and again since the outrageous idea first entered his desperate thinking.

Yes, the end of Nogo Jatist would remove the dangerous risk stemming from the attorney’s special knowledge obtained by talking with the hospital manager.

But can I successfully carry out an active killing off of one of the patients of these psychiatrists named Cacoe? Will my own conscience be calm during and after the actual deadly act by me?

Bren realized that if he were to do it, the act had to be done very soon, and as quickly as practically possible.

He was astounded at how cold-blooded his imagination could be!

Myself in the role of one who kills off and thereby rids himself of a potential informer and accuser.

How to perform the deed with the least chance of later detection? How to leave not a single useable clue to the truth?

Dr. Bren Fetch ruminated and considered the question for a long time, sitting by himself in his hospital office, avoiding contact or communication with anyone else.

There had to be a way of getting away with the elimination of this danger.

Here at the hospital, I enjoy admission to all departments and sections. Everything present here is available for use by me.

The most efficient, least traceable alternative took possession of his thoughts once it told hold. Yes, I had it all along, he acknowledged with surprise.

No one will ever suspect that I planned and carried out the use of octopus venom as the fatal weapon of my will. That is how I can rid myself of him.

Blen reached for his radio-sender and pushed the button with Nogo’s frequency number on it.

He would invite the attorney to meet with him somewhere outdoors and come armed with a hypodermic that was capable of killing the paranoid mental patient.

VII.

Maltem arrived early at the hospital, for this was the day that his daughter was scheduled td leave the place and come home with him.

Her release form had been approved without his having to go and see Bren Fetch in order to request him to authorize her exiting the facility.

He had a hydrazine jitney-cab waiting to take Data and him back to the apartment they shared.

When he entered her room she was dressed in an everyday leisure suit that her father had brought there for her the previous day.

“All set to go?” he asked her in a delightful mood.

Data smiled at him. “This is like being liberated from a prison dungeon, Father. I am once again a fully free individual, and my main wish now is to get back to work with the patients of ours.

“When do you think that will be possible?”

Malten suddenly frowned. “I do not want you tiring yourself too early or fast. Let me take charge of the next descent with the sphere while you remain back here on land. I think that would be best all-around, my dear.”

Data began to make a grimace but did not follow through with it.

“My desire is to go out with the patients as soon as I get back to work with them,” she told her father. “I think that I have recovered enough to permit me to be present on the Psycho-Globe. Why won’t you allow me to have my own way on this? It makes me feel bad not to be aboard as soon as I’m back here on land. Do you doubt that I’m well enough to take care of the patient group down below, father?”

The latter sensed the need to placate and pacify his daughter quickly.

“How about a compromise, a deal of sorts, Data?”

“What do you mean?”

“It is possible for you and I to take joint command of the next trip in the sea. There will be plenty of space, that’s for certain.

“We could cooperate as joint therapists and share the responsibilities. Isn’t that a feasible way for you to have my help and assistance, and vice versa, you will be there to back me up. What do you think of the idea?”

Data gave him a childlike, graceful smile. “Very well, that’s how it will be: both of us present and supervising what will be happening deep in the waters.”

Both of them grinned and laughed at the clever compromise they had reached.

Nogo Jatist was surprised who it was ringing his door chimer late in the afternoon.

“Come in, come right in, Doctor,” muttered the lawyer who suffered a serious personality-mental disorder. “I was wondering when we would be seeing each other again, and here you are right at my door.”

He led his visitor into the living room of his flat and invited him to sit down.

Only when his host was also seated did Bren Fetch start to pronounce the works he had been forming and rehearsing all that afternoon.

“I decided that it was necessary to discuss the current situation concerning the Cacoes and their Psycho-Globe with you.

“First, let me say that you are looking very well to me. I believe that your health is on the upswing and improving at a fast pace.

“The only conclusion one can make is that these voyages down into the sea have had an effect on your condition. That is what I myself now believe about you, my friend. There has occurred a sort of natural, inevitable reversal of what you had been suffering from, your deep-rooted fears and suspicions of others.

“You are on your way to full recovery, but you will have to continue on the road you have started to go forward on.”

“That is satisfying for me to hear from you, Doctor,” murmured the attorney with evident satisfaction. “I will no longer have any need for the dark thoughts and emotions that plagued me so long. All of that will from now on be over for good.”

“Not necessarily…” whispered the Director in a lowered tone nearly inaudible.

Nogo took on a look of sudden alarm. “What do you mean? What are you hinting at? You must tell me what you have in mind, Doctor Fetch.”

The latter shot up on his feet in a second and started to approach the stunned lawyer, who appeared instantly paralyzed by the unforeseen advance of the visitor toward himself.

What was going to occur next? wondered the astounded mental patient.

Bren reached into the pocket of his outer jacket and pulled something out of it by the time he was next to his host. He started to speak in a normal voice.

“There is a deadly poison extracted from the body of the blue-eyed octopus which has the power to paralyze and bring about rapid death. It is perfectly untraceable. This specific octopus uses it on enemies and attackers in the deep sea. The name of the poisonous compound in this venom is tetrodotoxin.

“We happen to have a sample of it in our hospital’s special collection of such substances from out of the Pelagic Sea.

“You are about to receive a good-sized dosage of this octopus weapon, my good man,” snarled the doctor as he positioned his right hand to deliver the liquid in the tiny hypodermic needle he was tightly holding.

Nogo was too stunned and paralyzed by fear to take any defensive action as the other plunged the needle point into the front of his exposed neck.

Bren watched his victim fall to the rugged floor in a final swoon. Then he placed the hypodermic back in its case, pocketed it, and made his way out of the attorney’s apartment, assured that no one had seen him enter or leave.

Deep Sea Visions Part III.

6 May

I.

Dako Mutram rose to the highest height in the politics of Porto Lago because he early learned what he came to see as the primary principles by which to climb the ladder of any social system of power and authority.

A big, meaty man on the edge of becoming obese, he had learned to dominate everyone around or in contact with him.

His butterscotch-colored hair and sparkling caliginous eyes drew attention and faithful devotion to himself.

Dako was always willing to relate his beliefs to aides and followers: before you can convince and sway others, you must first be able to convince and sway yourself. In private to himself he went much further: before you can lie to others, you must first enjoy the capability of lying to yourself.

He had mastered the art of self-deception at an early stage of his political career and he tried to apply it every day, on every conceivable matter that came up.

Dako had risen from ward-healer to general councilor to mayor of Porto Lago.
But he still operated by the identical principles that had lifted him up from the bottom of the city’s social ladder.

“What brings you here today, Bren?” he asked the hospital administrator once the two were seated facing each other.

“It has to do with the tragic attack upon the submersible of the two Cacoe psychiatrists. The seriously wounded patient was released from my hospital only today. His injuries caused a serious threat to both his health and his life. That is why I came to see you today.

“It is now clearly evident that the journeys close to and into the Abyss at the bottom of the Pelagic Sea are a hazard to all of our ships. There are unforeseeable disasters ahead if this Psych-Globe is permitted to continue its trips into the Trench itself.

“Official action to shut down this dangerous exposure to electrical monster sharks is now necessary. No question of that.”

“What do you think I should do, then?” pointedly inquired the mayor.

“That will be a difficult question for anyone at all to answer.

“If nothing is done to halt these voyages into the Abyss by the global submersible, there will surely be more instances like this collision and attack. Electrical sharks and similar beings that produce dangerous quantities of voltage will be tempted to leave their lairs in the Great Trench and rise up into the higher levels of the Pelagic Sea.

“What can we expect to result from such provocation of monstrous beasts of the waters? I would suspect that nothing good will come from it, only very bad consequences.

“In time, all vessels that plough the waves are certain to suffer attacks of this sort.

“Do you agree with me, Mr. Mayor?”

The latter sensed the painful pressure he had been put under by the words and arguments of the hospital head.

“Yes, something will have to be done. But what should it be?”

Blen Fetch waited, intending to increase the pressure that the mayor was feeling. When he spoke his reply, his voice sounded strong and confident.

“I can furnish a report on the potential health hazards of any further descending to extreme levels. That must be the argument if the psychiatrists go to court to stay and avoid your prohibition of continued diving down. It threatens the health and the safety of potential human victims.

“That should prove sufficient to defeat the two Cacoes behind all this trouble coming from electrical Megalodon and other potential predators from the Great Trench of the sea.”

“I must think this out before I decide or act,” mumbled the mayor. “Let me consider the matter several days, then I will tell you what I will do about the problem, my friend.”

Oego was surprised at the speed with which he was able to finish the portrait.

“That’s it!” he announced to the subject of his artistic efforts. “I believe that the face is now completed. You must be the first critical eye to judge whether the result is a satisfactory one.

“Come over in front and see for yourself what I have done, Capricia.”

The latter slowly stepped forward, finally turned herself around in order to view her own portrait directly, as a finished product.

She gasped for breath in a few moments as the painted image settled into her mind and affected her senses.

“What do you say about what I have done to you on canvass?” inquired Oego. “Can you accept it as the essence of your personal identity?”

He looked at her expectantly, waiting to find out what her reaction would be.

No words, favorable or negative, came out of her mouth. He continued to wait, yet he heard nothing at all.

“You don’t like what I have done? It doesn’t strike you as authentic, then? I failed to catch the you that you think is there, within your outer self? That’s it? I made a mess of what I promised you I was going to accomplish?”

He looked at her with desperation and disappointment on his face, in his copper-colored eyes. How was he to make up for his terrible failure to capture the truth about her he believed that he felt?

“It is a marvelous, miraculous rendering, I have to confess to you,” she unexpectedly informed the painter. “I am admiring what you did to me with your brush, Oego. I lack the words to express my deep joy, my complete satisfaction. It is more, much more, than I thought you were capable of. I could not be more gratified than I am at this particular moment in time.

“I thank you over and over, a million times, for what you have created with your gift of art. I thank you for having painted me so magnificently.”

Oego broke out in sudden laughter. “What you just said makes me feel so happy, Capricia! Let’s go out and celebrate this special occasion, this memorable event. I’m hungry, and I bet you are too.

“Let’s make it our own particular holiday, the time when you saw how I was able to record your individuality and uniqueness.”

He placed a cloth over the painting and the pair soon left her apartment.

II.

Father and daughter conferred in the house they owned and lived in near the edge of Porto Lago on its interior end that pointed inland.

“I think that I should go and visit Nogo Jatist now that he has left the hospital,” he said as he sat with Data on the screened porch in the rear of their home. “He claims that his mental state is improving, despite the physical injuries he suffered from what happened on the Psycho-Globe. I am certain he will agree to rejoin with the rest of his team for the new journey to the bottom of the sea.

“Why don’t you drop in on him and get his agreement to accompany you and the other patients who will be onboard? I am sure he will be willing and prepared to be a member of the group once again.

“What do you say to my idea.”

Data, sitting a small distance from her father’s favorite easy chair, considered for only a moment before agreeing to the proposal.

“Yes, I think he is certain to want to be with us,” she nodded. “I will go and see what he says tomorrow morning.”

It was late that same afternoon that Dr. Bren Fetch made his promised visit to see Nogo Jatist at the latter’s rented flat near the harbor dock.

The physicist realized at once that something had gone wrong with the lawyer’s course of recovery from the injuries he had received deep underwater.

As soon as the two men were seated in the parlor, the visitor spoke of what had just formed in his thinking.

“Something tells me that you are suffering pain once again, Mr. Jatist,” he began. “I assure you, it is perfectly safe to tell me what it is that bothers you. I can be fully trusted, I promise you.”

Nogo’s face turned into a saddened mask as he related what his trouble was.

“I seemed to be making good progress while I was still hospitalized, but my joy proved to be a false, temporary mood.

“Physical pain is returning, until it has grown close to what it was earlier, when I left the Psycho-Globe. Hour by hour, my prior sense of hopelessness and despair is returning to me. It is more than just my body that is troubled and suffering. My thoughts are back in the emptiness and purposeless state which first brought me to Porto Lago and the psychiatric facility of the Doctors Cacoe. I am back in the mental condition that made me a patient with a heavy burden of depression, of permanent and unrelenting ennui.

“What can anyone do for me, Doctor?” Nogo begged to find out. “Is this going to be the end of the road for me? Am I soon to be meeting my final defeat at the hands of this fog taking away any chance of escape out of it?”

His facial expression grew alarming as his hands started to shake, then fell still.

Bren realized that he had an opportunity in front of him. He decided to take hold of it for his own purpose.

“I must ask you to join with me in order to put a stop to these fraudulent tricksters, the two Capoes.

“It will be difficult for you to accomplish, but you are the one person able to find out and report how they defraud and fool those they claim to serve and treat for their illnesses.” He starred with focused eyes at the attorney. “You must take on the role of internal informant, telling me and the authorities of Porto Lago what goes on within the psychiatric practice centered on the Psycho-Globe.

“You must be the primary witness of the truth about the scheming conspiracy created by this father and daughter team.

“The truth will come out through your eyes and ears. You can testify to the criminally evil methods that they foist on the unwary who come to them for rescue and relief.

“You will become my partner in exposing, prosecuting, and punishing the nefarious pair of fakers.

“That will be your vengeance for what they have put your through, for all the suffering they themselves have caused you.

“Will you cooperate with unmasking them, Nogo?”

The sloe eyes of the physician bore down on the man under psychiatric therapy for paranoid symptoms and suspicions.

Nogo slowly nodded his head. “Yes,” he said in a whisper. “You and I will together smash this ring of falsifiers and frauds.”

Having no more to argue or plead for, Bren Fetch excused himself and quietly left the flat of his new confederate.

Capricia and Oego stayed in her flat that evening. They worked together preparing a dinner of shark steaks with algae salad.

It was after they had finished eating and cleaned up the pots, pans, and dishes that he brought up the subject weighing on both of them.

“We are only two days from the next scheduled descent in the Psycho-Globe, my dear,” he suddenly told her. “Are your and my nerves going to be up to the risks and bad memories connected to trying this once more?”

She gave him a small, forced smile. “What do you think? Both of us could say that we have enough courage to make a new journey down below. And perhaps we truly believe that to be so.

“But it could turn out to be another, different story once we are actually at a deep level of the Pelagic Sea.

“Who would dare predict how either one of us might behave or be? Perhaps we are only deceiving each other and ourselves.

“All I know for sure is that I will attempt to bring about a positive result of the descent in the submersible.”

Oego decided not to argue about the question. “Yes, we will both be making a bet that we hope comes up right for us. That is our true situation, I have to admit. What you say is right and true. We will have to wait and see how it all comes out.”

Mayor Dako Mutram pressed the audio button on the phone-line on his desk in his residence’s office-library.

“Yes? Good evening,” he said into the receiver device among his books and papers.

“Your Honor, this is Dr. Fetch. How are you? I called because I have something of importance to report to you. I believe that I now have a promising way of dealing with the deep-sea psychiatrists we have spoken about.”

“You have? What does it happen to be?”

“I have uncovered a method of penetrating into their group, using one of their patients whom I succeeded in recruiting to be my informant into their activities. This individuals promises to tell me what they are up to. I think that I can use this information to disorganize and defeat their criminal plans and intentions. This can be the key to putting these crooked practitioners out of operation for good.”

“Don’t say any more, don’t tell me any of the details. I have to maintain my own innocence and deniability at all costs. Do what you think you have to and keep me out of it.

“Good luck on your enterprise, Bren. May you succeed in the endeavor. Good night, for now. Tell me how it all comes out.”

His Honor pressed the button that shut off the audio phone and broke the connection to Dr. Fetch.

III.

Oego rose during the last hour of night and made his way through the morning fog to the flat of Capricia. The pair shared a quick breakfast gruel, then set off in the reddish light of solar dawn for the wharf where the Psycho-Globe was docked.

“How is it going to be for us today?” she asked as they approached the vessel in which they were to make another descent into the waters of the Abyss.

“I cannot foretell the future, even the same day,” answered her companion, “but I trust that we will be safe this time.”

When they reached the vessel, they found that Data was already there. The trio waited only a couple minutes until Nogo arrived.

“Let’s climb aboard and start moving,” suggested the psychiatrist as the last traces of morning fog disappeared and the solar star blazed with full light in the brisk early air of the harbor.

Data steered the craft outward on the water’s surface, then set the controls for a slow, gradual climb downward under the Pelagic Sea.

As the Psycho-Globe descended, she read off their movement through the designated levels and identified the marine creatures visible through the wide panoramic window of the submersible.

“In this first zone, the epipelagic, we can see the species of fish native to the area where solar light penetrates. Out in the middle reaches of the sea, there live whales and dolphins, along with tuna, halibut, salmon, mackeral, scad, and sardines. Sharks and jellyfish from down below come up here to feed on prey. There are zooplankton, seaweed, and algae available at the top for animal life to feed on. Squid can grow to become a giant species here.”

The three passengers watched the passing of varied fish as the vehicle sank to ever lower depths.

“We have entered the Twilight Zone of the mesopelagic sealife,” announced Data in a short while. As they passed into increasing shadow and dark, she identified examples of cat shark, gulper eel, midshipman fish, pinecone fish, lantern fish, hatchet fish, white fish, angler fish, and lancet fish. Varieties of jellyfish grew frequent, with brightly visible forms of bioluminescence.

“There goes a Colossal Squid,” announced Data. “It grows up to forty-six feet long, and can weigh up to a ton.”

Next came the Bathypelagic Zone of midnight, completely devoid of light from space or the atmosphere far above.

“Most of the creatures from now on can produce their own form of light to help them find and attract their prey,” noted the psychiatrist. She soon was able to name examples of black swallower, bristlemouth, dragon fish, fangtooth, stoplight fish, and saberteeth.

Finally, Data was able to inform the patients that they were in the Abyss, the lowest area along the bottom of the sea, with only the Great Trench still lower beneath the floor of the Pelagic Sea.

The passengers looked out through the panoramic window at the scattered, rare examples that she named for them. Sea cucumbers, echinoderms, gigantic squid and jellyfish appeared, then vanished from sight. Colorless, blind without eyes, these creatures had a ghostly strangeness to them. Were they actually alive? wondered the viewers who were the visitors seeking mental recovery of some kind.

“There goes a saw fish,” pointed out Data with her hand. “It is a kind of ray creature that is also known as a carpenter shark. It looks like a saw with its large flattened nose extension in front. Look at its rows of sharp teeth.

“The saw fish grows to over 25 feet in length and can weigh nearly a ton.”

An unseen, almost unconscious shiver spread through all three patients who were passengers aboard the undersea craft.

All at once, a gigantically monstrous jellyfish came onto the scene beyond the silicon window. The gelatinous form appeared fragile and nearly formless, changing its outer shape by the second. An umbrella kind of bell protruded upward at its center, yet it appeared to extend backward without end or limit.

“Before us is a giant Aequerea jelly. They can grow to 120 feet long, or even more. Its tentacles contain the potential of stinging any prey with a deadly toxin. Like 80% to 90% of species down at this level, it can produce light. This often mimics that of other beings of the Abyss. It is a successful, very dangerous predator.

“No one dares fight the powerful jellyfish in its native waters.”

All of a sudden, everyone in the globe was startled and shook by a quick and powerful shaking motion.

The jelly of the monster outside filled the entire window from end to end.

The enormous creature had enveloped, surrounded, and in a strange way swallowed up the global submersible.

We are inside and captured by this seemingly insubstantial blob of film and paste! realized all four of the humans aboard the endangered vessel.

Was this to be their horrible fate? To be engulfed and swallowed up? Could a giant jellyfish digest metal, plastic, and human flesh? How was such a hideous death possible for them all?

Capricia started to scream, as if prisoner of a terrifying dream she was unable to awaken from.

The blue light of the form holding them captive in itself grew blindingly bright. It took on an electrifying character, throwing an illuminating form of energy against the spherical form of the Psycho-Globe.

All at once, Nogo began to scream with incredible vocal force. “We are doomed! We shall all be eaten and devoured by this hungry monster!”

The quaking motion grew stronger and more frequent. Violent vibrations touched and coursed through all four of the imprisoned occupants.

The situation grew increasingly terrifying and traumatic for everyone.

One very soon fell to the floor in a state of unconsciousness. It happened to be Capricia who lost equilibrium and self-control.

The others took notice of her collapse and this increased the general state of disorientation and alarm. How was their crisis going to end? they all wondered.

It was Nogo who then tumbled and entered coma. Who might be the next person to fall?

Data attempted to resist that end, but was defeated. She was gone from the piloting position in a single moment.

Oego realized the dire situation that he alone retained consciousness. For how long might this continue though? he asked himself with dread.

I must move to the controlling instruments, the painter realized.

Rising out of his seat which was firmly attached to the wall of the global submersible, he carefully headed for where the psychiatrist had sat before she fainted and collapsed to the floor.

It seemed a long, difficult path, stepping across to the opposite area of the Psycho-Globe, but he succeeded in reaching the now empty seat and taking possession of it.

What was he going to do? What was still left and possible?

In the observation window, the gelatinous body of the jelly continued to glow with ghostly, icy light blue illumination.

Upward, that was the only possible direction of escape. That idea seized hold of him with total possession.

Oego gazed at the panel of directing instruments. Which ones controlled the upward movement from the propellers at the bottom end?

He was fortunate to remember what he had earlier observed Data to have done in such a position.

Finding the right lever, he pushed it forward, then waited to see if there was any result.

Indeed, the entire globe started to attempt lifting. Yet the jellyfish continued to have a strong hold around it and did not let go.

Oego looked down again, looking for something that would increase the power lifting the submersible. What had Data done to accomplish that? His right hand touched the accelerator button that poured out battery power to the propellers down below.

The Psycho-Globe gained the needed momentum and pierced into and then through the body of the giant jelly. On and on, until maximum power was at work.

In one colossal rush of effort, there occurred release.

They were free of the monster within a few decisive seconds, speeding out of the deep Abyss, into the higher levels of sea water.

Oego glanced at his fellow-passengers, all three of them still unconscious.

All of a sudden, Capricia awoke, opening her eyes.

“We escaped!” he informed her. “We are free and rising to the surface. The jelly is beaten and we are now safe.”

Once the globe reached the border of the atmosphere, Oego aimed it toward Porto Lago harbor.

IV.

Using the Psycho-Globe’s radio connection, Oego communicated word of the attack and capture of the submersible by a sea monster from out of the infernal Great Trench. As a result, there were medicos waiting with a motor-ambulance on the dock when the vessel arrived in port.

By that time, both Data and Nogo had awakened from unconsciousness, but needed immediate first aide at the minimum for their jangled nervous systems.

Maltem Cacoe, informed of the disaster by the city police, was present when the four climbed out of the Psycho-Globe onto the wharf.

“You must all go at once to the hospital for examination and whatever treatment appears necessary,” commanded the police officer taking charge of the situation.

“I believe all of us will be able to make it to the emergency section on our own legs,” said Oego as if taking over leadership of the victims of the giant jellyfish.

Oego and Capricia, side by side, led a small parade to the side wing of Porto Lago Hospital where the accident victims were taken for initial diagnosis and emergency treatment.

As examinations were carried out on the foursome, Director Bren Fetch arrived to learn the details of the strange incident that had been suffered by the patients and the therapist involved.

Oego, the first whose examination was completed, spoke to Malten and a police detective making a report on what had happened at sea.

“We experienced extremely vigorous shaking of the globe and were bounced about violently. All of us fell unconscious for some length of time.”

“You say that this was done by a gigantic jellyfish?” asked Malten Cacoe.

“That is what attacked the vessel and enveloped it,” explained Oego.

“It must have been a creature from out of the Great Trench,” opined the detective. “The species native to that region of the sea have colossal size and dimensions. The experts say that they are especially aggressive and violent.”

“This one was very tough and stubborn,” said the artist with a sad sigh. “I never would have imagined such ferocity in a life form that appears so light and delicate. This jellyfish proved not at all as soft as it looked.”

“Looks count for little down in the deep waters,” exclaimed Malten. “But you are all safe now. That is the most important consideration. All of you will be in need of some period of rest and recovery.

“I am curious to find out what your mental states will now be after this harrowing experience,” he thoughtfully said, mostly to himself.

Oego accompanied Capricia to her flat once they were both examined and treated for their exhaustion and pains. The two were told that they appeared well enough not to need any hospitalization. Nogo was also released to leave on his own. But Data had received injuries on such a scale that she had to stay as a hospital patient for an undetermined period of time.

Malten remained with his daughter as she was assigned to a room in which to lay down, rest, and recover.

Her father began to babble to Data about the character and nature of the jellyfish.

“That enormous monster is not a true fish, not at all. It is an animal inveterate, 90% water. The largest species, out of maybe 2,000 0f them, is called the lion’s mane jellyfish. Its tentacles reach over 100 feet.

“It has no brain, no heart, and no blood inside it. A jellyfish can be almost transparent. Did you see a fluorescent blue light coming from the monster?”

“Yes, I certainly did, father,” she informed him.


Oego and Capricia sat resting on the back porch of the latter’s apartment.

Both of them continued breathing with unusual effort, due to the adventure they had shared at the bottom of the Pelagic Sea.

“It was a nightmare, going through such an event for the second time,” uttered the musician in a weak, pained voice. “Who could have predicted that this would happen to us? What does it mean, Oego? Can you or anyone else explain it to me?”

No answer to her questions came for a time, until he was certain what he meant to convey to her.

“It is difficult to come to any firm, definite conclusion. I can only speculate about the experience that we had out there in the deepest area of the sea. Perhaps it is now too early to perceive the true nature of what occurred to us. I wonder whether what we were aiming for was too ambitious, too unrealistic for us to achieve successfully.

“Maybe the goal of mental harmony and balance is impossible in a realm as wild and chaotic as the sea. Should we have stayed on dry land and sooth our mental realignment there.

“Who can say for sure?”

He stared at her with a probing gaze, making Capricia feel sudden discomfort and embarrassment.

“Don’t be worried,” he assured her with compassionate emotion. “I will help you find the consolation and resolution that you came here to obtain for yourself.” He paused a moment before going on. “After all, you and I are really after the same kind of inner understanding and satisfaction, aren’t we?”

She looked away from him, unwilling to allow him to read the distress she recognized was visible on her face.

Bren Fetch decided to see and talk with Data Cacoe. I have to find out what I can from her about what she and her father are up to with their therapeutic journeys to the bottom of the sea. She has been seriously injured in the collision that was suffered, and her guard will be down. I might be able to learn important details about the activities of the pair.

Slowly entering the room she occupied, he noticed that she was breathing with noticeable effort.

“How do you feel, Dr. Cacoe?” he inquired when he was next to the bed. “I wanted to see how your are doing. Have the sedatives prescribed for you helped alleviate the pain due to your physical wounds? Is your body responding to the creams and plasters that were applied to you by our emergency staff?”

She turned her head so that the Director could see how worried and pallid she looked.

“I am still feeling general pain all-over. It is increasing and spreading, not going down at all. I slept fitfully, and only a little bit the whole night through.

“How serious is my condition, Dr. Fetch? Everything that I feel inside of me says that I am not improving, not at all.

“I fear what the days ahead hold in store for me. How bad can I get? I keep asking myself. What is there for me to hope for after what happened on the Psycho-Globe? I shudder when I think of how much worse this will get for me as time goes on.”

What should I tell her? wondered the head of the hospital.

“You must be patient, Miss Cacoe,” he said without a shade of emotion. “I promise that we shall do everything possible to restore you to a healthy state, similar to what you enjoyed before this happened to you.”

Data furrowed her brow and began to writhe and twist about, seeking some comfortable position but failing to find it.

Bren decided to pose a delicate question that might disturb her.

“Are you still convinced in the usefulness of treatment in a submersible? Or have your recent experiences created some germ of doubt about this method in your mind?

“I will not reveal whatever you say to me to anyone else, believe me. I will be discreet and keep whatever you say to myself. No one else will ever know.”

He looked at her with dramatic, assumed sincerity in his sloe eyes.

“What can I say to you, Doctor Fetch?” she moaned as if under some heavy emotional weight. “What can I tell you?”

“I don’t know,” she desperately declared. “That is the truth: I just don’t know. And that causes me even more pain from having no firm idea anymore.”

“I will be returning to see how you are coming along,” mumbled the Director as he turned about and slipped out of the room.

V.

Bren Fetch was an early riser who was always the first to arrive at the main office of the Porto Lago Hospital. But this was a morning when he had an important task to fulfill before going to his post there.

Pinkish and orangey rays of light from the solar star filled the entire harbor, reflecting from the waters of the sea.

The Director hurried with energetic steps, heading for the address of the apartment rented by the lawyer, Nogo Jatist.

The aim of this morning visit was to find out what the situation was among the staff and the patients of the Psycho-Globe project after the second catastrophe with the submarine trip below the Pelagic Sea.

It took a number of raps on the door to arouse and bring about the appearance of the apartment tenant.

Drowsy and sleepy-eyed, Nogo appeared surprised at the identity of the person who had awakened him from his bed.

“What is it?” were his first words to the hospital official. “What are you here for?”

“I wanted to talk to you,” smiled Bren. “It has to do with the accident suffered on the submersible and the effects it may be having on all the individuals connected with the Cacoes.”

“Come in and sit down,” mumbled the attorney, making way for his visitor to enter.

Nogo led the way in, proceeding into the dining room and pointing to a chair for the other. He himself took the place opposite the physician.

“What is it you want to know?” lowly grumbled the tenant of the flat.

“How are your fellow-patients reacting to what happened to them? Are any of them getting tired or disgusted with the terrible risks that all of them are undergoing when they go down to the lower depths? Is anyone on the verge of quitting or leaving? Have you picked up anyone’s regrets for having become involved in such a dangerous course?”

Nogo formed a cynical grimace on his face. “How should I know such things? I am by no means very close to any of the other patients. I keep myself separate and away from them, and they decide to leave me alone as well.

“They and I have a minimum amount of interaction. That is how I like to have it, and vice versa as well. That’s the way it is, even aboard the globe that we ride down in.”

The two eyed each other for a time, neither saying anything until Bren suddenly rose from his chair.

“You have to keep your eyes and ears open,” coldly pronounced the visitor from the hospital. “It is vital to me that I find out in case there is any change among either the psychiatrists or their patients. Do you understand what I mean?”

Nogo nodded that he did.

Have I lost my hold on this weak, fearful figure? wondered the doctor.

Saying no more, Bren whirled about and made his exit, hurrying to his office at the hospital he was the head of.

Oego and Capricia decided to visit Data and find out how she was after a night under medical care.

They carefully entered her room, watchful to not disturb her in case she was asleep or drowsy.

“Good morning,” the injured one greeted the pair. “It’s good to see both of you. I’m so glad to see familiar faces.”

The visitors approached the bed. “How are you feeling?” asked Capricia with melody in her voice. “Has the pain you felt yesterday gone down to any degree?”

Data made a frown. “The only thing I can say is that I’ve gotten used to the feelings I first suffered down in the globe with you. It does not go away, but stays in me hour after hour, both day and night.

“They have given me some strong sedatives and pain pills, but they are only temporary in their effect, and they cause only a small, insignificant moderation of the heavy load of sensation that I continue to have.

“No, I can’t say that the torture has stopped or had any major change. My body is pretty much as it was when they brought me into the emergency section of this hospital.”

“That sounds awful,” shuddered Capricia. “Your thoughts must be occupied with the continuous pain that come from the wounds you suffered down below.”

Data bit her lip. “I remember what it was like going into the depths, before the jellyfish attacked. It reminded me of what my father taught me about entering into analysis of a person’s mind. There are surprising parallels in the two kinds of descent, he used to tell me.

“Just as our Psycho-Globe delved deeper and deeper into the Pelagic Sea, so a psychiatric analysis goes into the profound shadows within a patient’s mind. In both instances, one enters an unknown realm. There are no guidelines or maps for either region of total darkness.”

“That seems to be the truth about our minds and personalities,” noted Oego, although most of the time no one wishes to recognize it. Indeed, I can see the parallel between the different zones of the sea and mysterious, multi-layered nature of our human mental character.”

Capricia suddenly felt something resembling a shiver of fear. “That can be an unpleasant thought, I’m afraid. The deep sea was a cold, unfriendly looking place. I failed to discover anything of value concerning myself while I was there.”

“Perhaps one must descend further, into the Great Trench itself, in order to glean any wisdom or insight into the important aspects of one’s mind,” speculated Data, her eyes not looking at either of her visitors.

A silence fell over the three, until Oego broke it.

“If that has any kernel of truth to it, then I will want to go back there and do some more exploration,” he said with enthusiasm. “Yes, I do not fear returning, not at all.”

“We had better leave you to rest and go,” whispered Capricia.

“Good-bye, then,” muttered Data, suddenly closing her eyes.

It was a little past noon when Bren Fetch found the time and opportunity to make his way to City Hall and ask the Mayor’s personal secretary to inform His Honor that the Director of the Porto Lago Hospital had a need to confer with him on a matter of major important to public health.

He was told to go right into the executive office of the head of municipal government as soon as Dako Mutram was informed by intercom of his presence. The latter ordered that the physician be allowed immediate entrance to the private area where authority and power both were located.

As soon as the visitor entered the inner sanctum, Mutram asked him to sit down in front of his large, elaborately sculptured and decorated granite desk.

“I have been reading about the accident that occurred with the submarine vessel of the psychiatrists, Bren. It is fortunate that there were no casualties. But what has to be done now, and in the future, as well? What do you recommend that the government attempt in order to end this troublesome problem vexing all of us?

“Have you received any useful information from the agent that is inside and cooperating with you? Have you made any plans or began any initiatives that promise a solution to this puzzling problem? This submersible and the crashes it has suffered deep in the sea have made our city a laughing-stock throughout the land. I am embarrassed and disgusted with such an outrage in Porto Lago.”

The Mayor stared at Bren with eager, demanding cesious eyes that seemed solid and unwavering.

“There is no immediate, self-evident way forward,” quietly answered the hospital manager. “I can get no satisfactory intelligence about these psychiatrists from this patient. He seems to be less willing to help me as his mental balance and self-control return to him.

“I have all but given up hope for anything useful coming out of him, I am sorry to have to admit.”

“Their mad exercises deep in the sea will continue, then?” said the Mayor in an angry tone, his face reddening with frustration.

“I am sorry to have to give you a report without much hope,” muttered Bren, avoiding the direct gaze of the other.

“Keep me informed if there is any change, or if you can conceive of a practical way of ridding our city of these troublemakers.”

The Mayor lowered his eyes to the document he had been reading before.

Bren caught and understood the signal, rising and leaving the office without saying farewell to the angered power-holder.


,
Malten Cacoe brought a box of candy stuffed with chocolates when he came to see his daughter.

Data dared not tell her father that such delights would not be good for any recovery of her health.

“Are you feeling any better today, my dear,” he inquired with forced cheer.

She looked at him with a pretended smile. “I suspect that I may be, but only a very tiny bit, perhaps.”

“I have had some repairs made to the Psycho-Globe, and in a couple of days it should be back up to par. We can make our plans for the future at that time.”

Data suddenly frowned. “I cannot foresee how I might be, and the doctors who look over me can’t predict anything about how fast or slow my recovery might turn out. That remains something of an unsolvable riddle, I’m afraid.”

Her father attempted to change the subject.

“There has been a lot of new interest in what we have tried to do. I am receiving letters and phonic messages from allover with questions and opinions. People even say that they wish to become passenger-patients if it is possible. As a result, there exists a crowd of potential participants willing to come to Porto Lago to go on a trip down into the lower zones of the sea.

“What do you think of that, Data? We are not finished, not at all.”

The daughter said nothing in reply, forcing her father to go on in a new direction.

“I have tried to theorize about the great effect that descent into the Pelagic Sea certainly has on the human mind, especially one that has difficulties in its functioning.

“What factors cause such radical change in thought? Is it the unusual nature of the experience of going down so far? Is there the influence of being under and surrounded by so much water? Or the marine life that our patients observe outside the observation window of the vessel?

“I wish that I knew enough to be able to generalize and theorize. That may have to wait for years before we learn enough to allow us to say with any certainty.

“Until then, therefore, a lot of work and experimentation lies ahead for you and me, my darling child.”

“I hope that our program of mental stabilization and balancing results in positive progress in treatment and cure,” dreamily said Data. “There is so much need for an effective means of shaping the human mind.”

“The Psycho-Globe grapples with forces as divided and polarized as the human conscious and the unconscious, the objective and the subjective, the rational and the irrational. Our method does not erase this fundamental duality, but rather helps to bridge it over and make living with it possible.

“Am I making any sense, Data?”

“Yes, of course you are, father,” answered the ailing daughter, a little relieved by what he had just said to her.

VI.

Bren Fetch was a person who tended to remember his dreams later on, when once again conscious. He may not have dreamed as often as many of his patients, but he succeeded in retaining most of his night visions into the light of day.

If personal or professional problems appeared to be insolvable, deep sleep with creative dreams would often provide him with the right key with which to unlock the mysteries and puzzles of active living.

When he was burdened and worried by important questions, the answers often came to him from the intuitive resources within his invisible unconscious.

Was this going to his problem of the medically unorthodox, unacceptable descent to the bottom of the sea?

He was hopeful that something useful might emerge on its own from what might be created and enacted while asleep and dreaming.

Tired and worn out by the activities and troubles of his long day as Director of the Porto Lago Hospital, Bren fell at once into sound, needed physical and mental rest and restoration of equilibrium. He enjoyed a full eight-hour period with no interference from the outside world. Losing all sense of time, the night passed as if it was a vacuum without content of any kind.

Only when he awakened and opened his eyes, did it affect his conscious thought. Indeed, he was able to recall all of the salient details of what had been seen and experienced in his vision.

Bren lay in bed smiling. He had it now. His dream had produced the key he was after. He took a pen and pad of paper from the night stand beside his bed and wrote down the theme of his night vision.

It was he himself who had stolen in the dead of night on board the Psycho-Globe, moored onto the harbor dock. He carried a small aluminum case in one hand. Descending into the vehicle, he went to the instrument panel, removed its cover with a screw-driver, and took a small bottle out of his case and set it inside the control system, attached to the ignition system of the main motor.

His memory told him what the bottle contained: a gas soporific meant to put all passengers traveling on the vessel’s next voyage downward into immediate sleep once the pressure throughout the cabin reached a certain high point with increasing depth in the sea.

That was how he was going to sabotage the Psycho-Globe. That was the instrument aimed at the ruin and defeat of the Cacoes and their evil innovation.

Gas the patients and their therapist to ruin, destruction, and failure.

I now have the sought-after idea. What remains is to make the great effort needed to carry it out to victory and success.

Malten Cacoe grew alarmed and concerned as he perused his daughter’s reports and diagnoses at the nursing station of the wing holding her.

The readings and tests contained a series of troubling items that worried him.

The critical episode aboard the global had obviously caused this downturn in her physical condition.

How ironic this deterioration in her health was! he meditated.

For the ill, there usually occurred an improvement. But anyone with good health, like his daughter Data, went in the opposite direction, ending up with a collapse of physical health and mental equilibrium.

What was he himself to do for her? His wish was to help restore her to what she had earlier enjoyed. Yet how was he to do anything? He had to speak with Data in order to devise some means of aiding her and reversing what was happening.

The father headed for her room, determined to do all that was possible in her behave. There had to be something he was able to contribute.

Bren entered the pharmacy of the hospital with a secret goal in mind. He had to look through the available literature to help him choose the best possible anesthetic used that was in the form of a gas. Once that was done, he had to devise a way of obtaining a supply and then smuggling it out of where it was stored.

He took his time in carefully studying the alternative options: enflurane, isoflurane, sevoflorane, desflurine, and finally halothane.

His decision that the last of them he went into was the best that met his particular needs.

How was he going to get his hands on a sufficient amount, then transport it out of the Porto Lago Hospital?

That should not be impossible to accomplish, the schemer told himself without speaking a word.

Malten realized that it was going to be difficult for him to explain to his daughter why he had to make the change he had in mind to make.

“I am seriously worried about what is in store for you, Data,” he slowly said to her. “Every diagnosis made of your condition is negative and pessimistic. Before any improvement can occur, there must be much more pain and suffering by you. That will be inevitable and inescapable, they all agree.”

Data grew confused and excited. “How can that be? It doesn’t seem possible or reasonable. I certainly do not deserve a fate like that. I have to be prepared to die soon, then?”

Her father felt a sudden sense that his plan of presentation was on its way to failing.

“The reason that I brought this up is that I have to tell you what I decided last night. I mean to begin the voyages down of the Psycho-Globe, but I myself am going to be on it, in charge of the descent.

“That will allow you to have the peaceful rest in which to fully recover. There will be no responsibilities assigned to you. All of your time and attention on be focused upon recovery for both your body and your mind.

“How does that sound to you, my dear?”

Bren Fetch had no problem entering into the electronically guarded storage area for the most important medical surgical supplies with the institution he was highest executive of. The hour was late in the night and there was no person about in the special area to observe what he might be up to.

There were clear labels on all materials of interest to him. It took him surprisingly little time or effort to locate the canister he was seeking, the one that contained halothane, the anesthetic gas used in the surgical unit of the hospital.

Bren opened the metal case he had brought with him and placed the valuable canister inside it.

He exited the storage unit with the same confidence he had come in a little while before.

My next step will be breaking into the Psycho-Globe and installing what I now have possession of, along with a micro-timing device, understood the one who had just completed a successful burglary within the hospital he was the formal administrator of.

He now had hold of the means of bringing about what he believed would restore his self-image of who he should be but still was not. This action did not contain any element of criminality within his personal sense of what he was on the verge of carrying out on the submersible on those who were making use of it.

Deep Sea Visions Part II

29 Apr

Part II.

I.

The return of Capricia Depone to her rented flat occurred in the private town-car of Dr. Bren Fetch, who appeared at her hospital room immediately after dawn broke, thereby preventing anyone connected with the Psycho-Globe from taking over the task of transporting her there.

“How are you feeling now?” he asked her once they were seated in her front parlor. “I hope you are not exhausted from having to walk out to my car, then into your apartment once we arrived here.”

“I feel strong and able, Doctor,” she answered with a smile. “Thank you so much for your generous help in bringing me home.”

“It was my pleasure,” he told her, then looking down at his wrist-timer. “I had better start back to the hospital, Capricia. There is a lot of work awaiting me in my office, beside a number of patients whom I plan to be seeing this morning.”

Capricia seemed to look away for a brief moment, then fixed her sable eyes on the center of her face. “I am severely worried by what you said to me back in the hospital about the Cacoes and their method of therapy using the deep waters of the sea. Yours words continue to trouble me, Doctor Fetch.”

The latter tried to smile with self-confidence. “That was not at all my intention, because all I wished to do was to give you a realistic sense of caution about what that pair may be up to. Please be very careful about what you may do or say. Do not take everything you hear as necessarily truthful and believable. There have been instances of harmful reverses resulting from contact with those two so-called therapists.

“They are not what they claim or appear to be, I assure you.”

He told her farewell and made his way out of the flat with haste.

Data learned of the earlier-than-scheduled release of Capricia Depone from the Porto Lago Hospital when she arrived at the facility in the middle of that morning. With determined speed she hurried on foot to the apartment where her patient lived, eager to learn what her present condition was.

Capricia opened the front door and broke out in joyful smiling upon seeing the psychiatrist having come. “Come in! Come in and join me in the kitchen, because I am having myself a bite of snack to eat.

“My appetite is returning to what it was before the accident on the Psycho-Globe and I grow hungry all the time. So, come on in and we can talk together in the back, Doctor.”

Data entered, then followed the patient to the rear of the apartment. The two women sat down across from each other around the short kitchen meal table.

“They decided to release me at once this morning,” reported Capricia as she poured a cup of dandelion tea for the visitor and handed it over to her.

“Who was the one who signed you out?” sharply asked Data, raising up her cup and taking a sip of the piping warm drink.

“It was Dr. Fetch,” merrily announced the musician. “He is a very personable physician, I must say. He stopped by to visit and talk to me several times during my time in the Hospital. It was his judgment that I was well enough to be released out on my own.

“He even came here to ask how I felt and was doing on my own.

“Wasn’t that most considerate of him, Doctor?”

Data ignored the question, as if it had not been presented to her.

“The rest of the team went down with me into the Midnight Zone of the Bathypelagic and witnessed many bioluminescent species that impressed them a great deal. They will, in a few days, proceed deeper into the sea, down into the Abyssopelagic that descends down to 19,700 feet in depth.

“Do you think you are well enough to join them, Capricia?”

“Certainly, I am,” asserted the patient with strength and spirit in her voice. “My foot is healing fast and I will have no pain using it, I can predict.

“I can certainly make up for the time lost while I was hospitalized,” she happily grinned. “It will be my responsibility to make up for lost time and the experiences that I was forced to miss out on.”

“Very well, then,” murmured the therapist. “I shall expect to see you aboard with your two companions. They will certainly be happy to see you once again.”

The pair finishing drinking their cups of dandelion tea, then Data excused herself and left to tell her father what had happened to Capricia.

Malten Cacoe told his patient to be seated opposite him as he took his seat behind his desk. He had to find out more about the weird suspicions hidden in the mind of this cleverly intelligent lawyer. Why had the man refused analysis by Data, a fully competent psychiatric practitioner? he asked himself.

How was he going to unravel the mysteries within the mind of Nogo Jatist?

A general, unthreatening question might be the best tool to begin with.

“How did you come to choose the law as your career? I would like to discover, my good man,” lightly asked the therapist.

Nogo started to talk as if in a light daydream.

“I trace my profession to my father and his personal financial problem. Let me explain, Doctor.

“He was in business, was not really a person with much head for business at all. He tried this, then that, and found himself in something else at last.

“When his electronics store went over the edge into bankruptcy, he received the full force of legal reactions by his scores of creditors. They took away everything he had believed he owned and possessed in certainty. Everything was lost, even the smallest object he held as personal property.

“The bankruptcy court showed him no mercy at all. They left him only with the bare necessities of life and nothing more. He was destroyed, ruined, and crushed like an insect.

“My mother was unable to survive with a speck of pride or dignity. She died within a few months following our being forced to leave the large, luxurious home in which we lived. The mortgage on it was heavy enough to drown us economically.

“Father was unable to find anyone willing to give him employment. He spent the years remaining in his life as an unemployed, unemployable idler who had lost all interest in any career, post, or work of any kind.

“His life turned into a sad, unending tragedy that concluded with his premature death. It shaped my own personality and my interpretation of all of life.”

Both psychiatrist and patient fell into an uncomfortable silence for a considerable length of time.

“I decided to enter the profession of law as the area where I had my best chance of attaining material and social success,” suddenly confessed Nogo. “It appeared as having the most favorable odds for someone with my early history within my family. So, I took the alternative that promised me the most. My life choice was that simple.”

“You are refreshingly candid,” murmured Malten Cacoe with a half-hidden grin on his lips.

He decided to put an end to this encounter with the lawyer who had come seeking relief in the Psycho-Globe.

II.

Nogo exited the building where the Cacoes had their offices and felt the bright, warm rays of the solar star flowing down out of the clear, cloudless sky shining over the city. All at once, he caught sight of a trim, sinuous woman walking toward him.

Capricia was in a blue dress and had a wide straw hat throwing a comfortable shadow over her sable eyes, yet she recognized the attorney before he realized who was approaching him.

“Nogo,” she said, stopping only a few feet from him. “How are you? How was the journey in the global that I was forced to miss?”

The lawyer halted and grinned at her. “I am as well as can be expected. But the important question has to do with how you are. I can see that you are able to move on your own feet. That is very good, of course. But are you feeling pain from your injury down below? How has your recovery gone?”

“I am much improved, and I will be seeing my therapist, Data Cacoe, today,” she informed him. “That is why I have come from my apartment. I plan to make up for my absence and return aboard the submersible on the next voyage downward.”

Nogo sent her a smile. “Yes, we will be happy to have you with us. It will be a very beneficial experience for all of us, that is my wish and hope.”

“I shall have a session with Data shortly,” explained Capricia. “She will be revealing what she may have discovered about my problems from our first descent in the sea. I am looking forward to what she will be able to tell me about myself. No one I have consulted with before, back home, has been able to help me to any great degree.”

A vague mood seemed to take control of the lawyer as he went on speaking to the drummer.

“I am going to continue talking in private to Data’s father, perhaps because my preference is for having a male therapist giving me analytic treatment outside my experiences in the globe. It will still be possible for me to take part in the team descending down in the sea, though. I can continue as a member of the group of you and Oego Biffen.”

“That is your choice, then,” said Capricia, stepping forward and away from Nogo.

She realized, all of a sudden, that she had been talking to a person who made her uneasy. Why should that be so? the musician asked herself.

“You walked all the way here, Capricia?” inquired Data once the two of them were seated opposite each other.

“Yes,” replied the patient from across the aluminum desk. “It was no hard task for me to complete, because my strength has returned. I was certain that it was possible for me to do.”

“In two days, I will be taking your fellow team members down with me. Do you believe that you will be ready to go along with them?”

“Certainly. Why not? I want to go ahead and fulfill my therapy all that I can, Doctor.”

Data seemed to frown a little. “You may find some aspects painful or uncomfortable, Capricia. I am thinking of memories that could make you uneasy about yourself and past experiences.”

“That was on my mind before I decided to come to Porto Lago. But as I become more desperate and forlorn, it became clear to me that I had to take risk if I was ever to escape the trap I had fallen into. The future appeared to be evolving out of my personal control, and I was soon going to become like a lifeless puppet without a will of its own.

“I think that I became disgusted with my own utter passivity. There was nothing left of independence, of free initiative. That’s how it seemed. I was becoming more and more imprisoned within myself.

“How was I to break out of the trap that I myself had constructed?

“It became plain to me that I had to take a big leap, a dangerous chance of some sort. So, I decided to come here and attempt a liberation through the Psycho-Globe and the treatment centered around descending down into the sea.

“That is how desperate I had become, Doctor,” acknowledged Capricia with an audible moan.

Data, leaning her head forward toward the patient, began to speak to her in a low, soft murmur.

“You took the first step to recovery and rebalancing on your own, and that took courage on your part, my dear friend. Not everyone can achieve that much when in a state of major suffering and internal pain. It shows that you possess strength to go on further.

“I am here to aid you in taking the next step, and those that will follow after that.

“You are already situated on the road to health and well-being, Capricia.”

The patient’s face by now had a haggard, hollow cast to it. “I lack something important, Doctor,” she slowly admitted. “But I have no idea what it might be.”

Data considered for a few seconds. “Is it what you have been seeking in your devotion to perfecting your ability to perform musically? Did you turn to playing the drums in order to fill an emptiness that you felt inside?”

The psychiatrist stared intently into the sable eyes of the troubled young woman, looking for some sign that she had pushed the right mental lever, guessed about an important factor in the subconscious mind of this patient.

Capricia suddenly started to mumble as if a locked door had been opened by what Data had just asked her.

“It was as if I was after a forgotten rhythm, a kind of heart beat that had become lost or forgotten. That’s it: I had lost track of the rhythmic tempo of what I should have been living by, the notes of my own life.

“That’s what was missing from me. The rhythm that I needed to live by had been lost, and I did not know where to look to find it.

“So, I decided to travel to Porto Lago and hunt for it here, with you and the Psycho-Globe. Was I making a big mistake, Doctor? Was I only fooling myself?”

Data suddenly had a sense of unease. How was she going to answer this patient?

“Not at all,” she grinned with pretended confidence. “I will help you locate the lost rhythm that you are after, my dear one.”

Both women soon understood that they had reached a important point in advance of where they had previously been.

Oego had fallen into the habit of sharing noonday lunch in a dockside café with Nogo and talking with him about their common experiences as patients of the two Cacoes, one undergoing analysis by the father, the other by the daughter.

“Have you learned much that you did not know about yourself before coming to Porto Lago?” inquired the curious Nogo, recovering his equilibrium after his session with Malten Cacoe.

The painter put down his spinach sandwich and stared at his fellow patient.

“It is hard to say for certain. Data Cacoe does not tell me all that she is considering and thinking about my condition. She knows that my mind is rotting in terrible despair, that I feel lacking in purpose or value. At first I believed she was ignoring the seriousness of what I was feeling about myself, but now I am starting to think her attitude only appears to be one of cold indifference to my emotions. The sternness is merely a pose, intended to draw out my authentic thoughts and feelings.

“And I believe that she is succeeding in a cleverly subtle, underplayed way.”

Nogo’s face registered his surprise at what he was hearing.

“She is getting you to reveal personal secrets?”

Oego gave a wry smile. “Unconscious secrets would be more accurate, I would guess. She says very little, but what she is able to uncover is always surprising and unexpected.

“I found out how my early successes as a landscape painter turned sour, how they directly led to my failure and defeat, becoming one of the major factors in the causation of my state of clinical depression.”

“How could such a thing occur?” said Nogo, putting his sausage roll down on the plate in front of him.

Oego lowered his voice to nearly a whisper. “It was a very contradictory mental trick. My first successes produced a kind of self-loathing as reaction to them. As a result, today I am seeking and clinging to the opposite. That means that I now crave failure. Why should that have happened? What is the cause of my suicidal self-destruction? Why have I become my own worst foe?”

“Has Data Cacoe revealed that to you?” demanded Nogo with rising interest and concern.

The artist frowned. “Not yet, not yet. She tells me that I need to uncover more and more internal secrets to make that visible to both her and to me.”

The two ended their exchange and resumed finishing their food.

III.

All three members of the team climbed aboard the Psycho-Globe along with Data. The vehicle quickly got underway, leaving the harbor, then floating downward into lower and lower depths.

Data, smiling as pleasantly as possible, addressed the trio once the Midnight Zone was reached and the globe went into a temporary stable position.

“We have now gone as far as we did last time, without you with us, Capricia. Now, we shall go further and descend into the Abyss, as it is called. Technically, this is the Abyssopelagic Level, going down to 19,700 feet, an area without any daylight whatever. Except for the sea trenches, this depth includes most of the oceanic floor. That makes most of it the far bottom.

“Except for bioluminescent light, this is a place of total darkness. Only colorless, blind creatures exist there. As we go down into this zone, I shall identify the most prominent and important species that live in it.

“If we are all ready, I will now set us on a course that will take us where few people have ever traveled.”

With that, Data turned to the controls and began to turn and set them.

The three patients exchanged looks, then turned their eyes on the panoramic observation window into the bottom stratum of the sea.

As the vessel sank lower and lower, Data identified and described the life forms visible to the three passenger-patients watching through the observation window.

“The anglerfish that you now see out there attracts victims with the lure of its body lights. See how these radiate from the flesh growing from its head. There are tiny glowing bacteria living on its forehead. The male anglerfish attaches itself to a female form and uses its blood as a source of food. In exchange, it fertilizes her eggs for her.

“See how it spins its fins that hold a lighted blue lure that attracts prey to its round body.”

Data went on to naming sharks that became visible: goblin, frilled, and cookie-cutter varieties. Yellow, blue, slipper, and furry blind lobsters were identified, as well as porcelain, coconut, and horned ghost crabs. Sea slugs tagged as lettuce, hare, cyerce, and thurgilla species passed by as the Psycho-Globe descended lower.,

“There you see the red-knobbed starfish close to a crown of thorns type,” Data informed her listeners.

Jellyfish after jellyfish appeared and was described: cauliflower, flower hat, cephia, blue spotted, lion’s mane, cucumber, and other varieties.

“Jellyfish can grow to incredible lengths, over 120 feet, and produce a wide source of bio-light,” declared the psychiatrist. “These gelatinous masses can act as fierce monsters preying on victims that are lured by them. If they join together, their reach can extend for miles and miles.”

The three gazed with fascination at the ghostly bundles of light passing by their global craft. They listened and watched as the names of sea urchins and sea pigs were announced by Data. “There goes a rare serpentfish,” indicated their guide. “And over on the other side are some brown combjellies.”

All of a sudden, something at first not defined startled all four of those aboard the globe.

Flashes of brilliant, flashing light shot through the interior of the sea vehicle, blinding everyone for several seconds of surprise and terror.

What was happening? each of them asked, exchanging looks of confusion and fear.

The confined air inside the Psycho-Globe was full of the same chaotic, panicked emotion throughout.

The eyes of all three patients ended up focused upon the psychiatrist who supposedly was in charge of them.

An overwhelmingly bright illumination filled all of the observation window of the globe for a few moments, forcing all four passengers to close their eyes in protective reaction. Opening again was painful to them. No one was capable of uttering a single word as long as the maximum brilliance continued to enter from the sea.

All at once, Nogo fell out of his seat, twitching and shaking violently. The vibrations of his arms and legs grew more frenzied once he was sprawled on the floor of the submersible. The eyes of the three others centered and focused on him as he lost control of his wildly gyrating body.

The face of the lawyer became deadly pale. His eyes reddened and grew lifeless. He appeared to be experiencing a nervous convulsion as he started to vomit a ghastly white liquid from his open, wrenching mouth.

It was Data who was the first one to say anything.

“He is having a terrible fit!” she yelled out to the others. “We have to get him back to shore at once, for first aid treatment before he suffers permanent harm or injury.”

Oego was recovered sufficiently to ask her the question torturing his mind.

“What was the cause of the colossal brilliance that we saw?” he asked in an unsteady tone of voice. “How did that light come about deep in the Pelagic Sea?”

Capricia suddenly left her seat and moved to where Nogo lay on the floor, studying his disfigured face and unmoving eyes. She wanted to help the fallen one, but could not think how to do it.

“It was produced by a giant inhabitant of the Great Trench under the Abyss, one of the electric creatures.

“I am thinking of the Megalodon Sharks. They can grow to over 60 feet in length and weigh over 60 tons. This gigantic creature is only surpassed in size by the biggest of the whales. And it can produce both light and powerful electricity when angered or aroused by anything outside itself. Only rarely does a Megalodon leave its home, the Great Trench. That is its home den.

“We were fortunate that this Megalodon did not destroy the Psycho-Globe and kill us all.”

Data drew a lungful of air and started to work the control panel of the vessel.

Oego watched Capricia as she stooped down and examined the comatose face and body of the lawyer named Nogo Jatist.

What lay ahead for him and the rest of them? the painter asked himself.

IV.

Data radioed the Porto Lago Hospital to have an emergency vehicle waiting on the harbor dock to take Nogo for medical aid and treatment.

The team of responders conveyed the unconscious lawyer to the facility, while Data, Oego, and Capricia followed on foot. These three waited at the entrance to the emergency section to hear what the medicos might decide about Nogo.

Data spoke to the two patients accompanying her, giving them her knowledge and opinions about what they had gone through deep in the water.

“I take it that we were attacked by an electrical Megaodon, a gigantic shark which is native to the Great Trench at the bottom of the Pelagic Sea, below 36,100 feet, below the normal foundation of the waters. This level goes by the name of the Hadalpelagic Zone. It is the deepest of all areas, a trench that extends over 600 miles parallel to the coast.

“It is a dangerous area without solar light whatever. But it has bioluscent illumination from marine creatures, some of them of colossal size.

“The Megalodon Shark is comparable to a whale. But there is also the enormous Dunkeleosteus, an armoured fish that extends over 30 feet, as well as the Leedsichthys, a ray-finned one that stretches over 50 feet.

“These great giants usually stay down in the Great Trench. But there are occasions, such as this one, when they rise out of the extreme depths and cross over into higher zones of the sea.”

“That is difficult to believe,” sighed Capricia. “Yet all of us saw the light from the monster shark, didn’t we?”

Data frowned. “It is best to forget what we went through and saw. But that will be very hard for Nogo Jatist to accomplish, won’t it?”

There was no reply to her question from either of the others.


A medical team was waiting on the dock to take over amd transport the unconscious body of Nogo to the Porto Lago Hospital.

Data turned to the two remaining patients and addressed them both.

“None of us can do anything at the moment for him,” she said with regret. “I have to go to the office and inform my father about what occurred down below and how Nogo suffered serious injury.

“Why don’t you two go to your own places and rest up? There is nothing either of you can do for him at the present time. I plan to drop in at the hospital in the late afternoon to learn what Nogo’s condition is. I hope to see some improvement, of course.

“Excuse me, but I have to go and see my father about all of this.”

With that said, Data turned about and walked away.

Oego and Capricia turned to each other. The painter was first to speak.

“I’ll walk with you to your flat,” he muttered. “Then I can go back to my own.”

She gave a small nod and the pair ambled off together slowly.

Capricia invited her companion to enter the apartment along with her.

“We can sit down and talk some,” she murmured. “I’ll make some plant tea for us to drink.”

The two went into the small kitchen. Oego sat down at the table while the musician went to the electronic stove and began to prepare a pot of herbal tea for warming up.

“It was a horrible experience,” mumbled Capricia in a muffled tone. “I don’t recall ever seeing or feeling anything similar ever. I was afraid that all of us in the global were doomed and would not at all survive.”

“I sensed something like an apocalyptic vision,” confessed Oego. “It was as if we had been instantly transferred to another world, a different universe where the basic laws and principles of reality were entirely other from those that we knew and were accustomed to live under.

“This was a critical event impossible to describe in words, in any human language whatever.” His copper eyes suddenly flashed with something like a reflection of what he had seen under the electrical assault by the creature from the Great Trench. “I don’t think human eyes can truly see or understand what entered our minds through our visual organs down there.

“How will any of us manage to cope with such an event? I doubt that I can return to what I was and how I thought or felt before.

“What did Dr. Cacoe call the monster shark that wandered out of the Great Trench?”

“A Megalodon Shark, that was what it was,” whispered the drummer as she came to the table with a pot of hot herbal tea. She placed it on a straw pad, then took two drinking cups off of a shelf and returned with them.

It took only several seconds for her to pour cups of piping hot tea for the two of them. She sat down across from her guest and said “Drink some of the liquid, it will help lift up your spirits, my friend.”

Oego lifted up his cup and tasted a sip of the tea, then put it down on the porcelain table top.

“What we went through aboard the globe will never be completely understood or absorbed,” he dreamily admitted. “I know that I will not be able to comprehend it in any logical, reasonable manner. There is no organized framework that it can be placed in. I have nothing in my mind to go by or to make use of.”

He gazed at the face of Capricia as if hunting there for some unknown objective. What has happened to me? he asked himself. Why am I thinking in an unprecedented way, with unfamiliar thoughts and feelings?

Oego then pronounced words not characteristic of himself or his personality as he thought he knew it.

“I have a sense that I have to try painting again, but it cannot be the same as it was in the past, before I was driven by my depression to stop.” A strange sort of light lit up his face and his eyes.

“Would you allow me to paint you, Capricia? I have always been a landscape-producer up to now. But I want to enter a new, different area that I never tried before.

“Are you willing to permit me to make you the subject of beginning portraiture by me? I have not attempted anything like it before, but I know it can be done. It’s as if something is driving me in that particular direction.

“Perhaps it was that I experienced that storm of electrical force down in the deep abyss of the Pelagic Sea. I don’t know and can’t be perfectly certain about my motivation in the matter.

“Would you join and help me by allowing me to paint your portrait?” he pleaded. “I promise to make the effort as pleasant as possible for you. It could be done right here in your flat, Capricia, right in your place. I would buy a canvass, brushes, and the paints I will need to do a good job.

“I think that I would put all my knowledge and skills into the project.”

He looked intently at her, waiting with expectation for her answer to what he proposed that they do.

A smile erupted around her thin-lipped mouth.

“Yes, I think that I would find posing for a portrait quite interesting,” she chirped to him. “Indeed, it might just be what I need to get past the bad experience that I had down below in the Psycho-Globe today.”

The pair began to make particular plans and decisions about arranging for the painting of a picture of one patient by another one.

V.

Data rushed into her father’s personal office with her heart throbbing with excited emotions. She had extraordinary news to tell him. How was he going to react to what had happened to the Psycho-Globe deep in the sea?

“Father, we had a tragic event when I went down with the team of patients. There occurred a collision.”

Malten Cacoe looked up at her from what he had been reading. “What do you mean?” he asked his daughter with confusion and surprise.

“A large, heavy body struck us,” she explained. “There was an incredibly powerful discharge of electricity hitting the globe from the outside. I think I now know what caused the disaster. It had to be a Megalodon. No other creature could have been that strong or potent. It is suspected that they still exist in the Great Trench, but usually stay there. This one, for some reason, escaped upward into the Abyssopelagic Zone, where the Psycho-Globe happened to be when it was hit by the giant electrical blow from the enormous shark from the sub-bottom trench.

“The submersible was violently shaken and imbalanced for a time. All four of us aboard were blinded by the brightness. One of the patients suffered a terrible convulsive condition. It was the lawyer named Nogo Jatist. He lost consciousness and could not be revived or awakened. His state grew alarming in its seriousness. We returned to Porto Lago with speed with this man in an unbroken coma.

“He is now under the care of our city hospital. The last I saw of him, he continued unconscious. When will he awaken? That remains to be seen. It is more a hope than a certainty, I fear.”

She looked at her father with a terrified expression on her face.

“What you have described for me holds some frightful dangers for our practice using the Psycho-Globe, Data,” he told her in a coldly logical manner. “When this news becomes public, it will bring a serious threat upon you and me. Let me explain.

“Ever since we came to Porto Lago and established our unique system of treatment, there have been critics and foes within the medical profession of this community. Difficulties and obstacles have arisen against us at every step. Attempts have occurred to curb and frustrate our initiatives. Nothing has been easy for anything as original and unprecedented as what we have tried to achieve in our treatment of those suffering mental conflicts.

“The medical profession has been the den of the opposition to our brand of psychotherapy. Our enemies call you and me radical adventurers with unproven, untested methods like our descents into the bottom of the Pelagic Sea.”

“But what can we do to counter the resistance that our medical enemies arouse against us, father?”

The latter made a sarcastic grimace. “I do not know for sure. We will have to wait in order to see what others try to do against our operations and activities.”

The two exchanged looks of doubt and uncertainty.

Dr. Bren Fetch was excited by the report given him by the head nurse of the emergency care sector of the hospital he headed.

He rushed at once to observe for himself the injured mental patient who had been receiving treatment from the Cacoes aboard the Psycho-Globe. The man called Nogo Jatist lay unconscious in a recovery tube filled with condensed oxygen. His breathing was very slow but otherwise seemed normal.

Bren read all the charts containing the instrument readings on this patient’s physical conditions. He was suffering traumatic injuries throughout his body. The major question now was when and if he was going to regain consciousness.

“This is a very important case,” he told the medico in charge of emergency treatment. “I will stay around in case he quickly awakens so that I can help in diagnosing him at that specific time.”

He located a small stool and brought it to a position beside the oxygen tube that held the comatose lawyer. Fixing his eyes on the head of the injured one, the doctor stared at him with an unwavering gaze.

It was clear that the case of this person could be of enormous value in ending the operations centered on the Psycho-Globe, Bren said to himself.

This could be what I’ve been waiting for from the beginning, he realized.

Time slowly passed, the hospital head starting to doze off somewhat.

Yet he caught it when the eyes of the patient in the tube opened at last.

Blinking in confusion, the victim of the electrical attack looked about, trying to make sense of where he was, what his condition inside a cylinder might mean.

Dr. Fetch decided that he had to speak to the awakened person.

“You are inside the Porto Lago Hospital,” he said in a whisper. “You suffered a horrible accident while aboard the Psycho-Globe. The catastrophe that you experienced threw you into a coma, and you just revived for the first time a moment ago.

“How are you feeling? Are you in pain at the present time?”

“I do not know, I can’t tell for sure,” mumbled Nogo without energy or force.

“My name is Bren Fetch, and I will serve you as your physician while you are under care of this hospital.

“Do not have any worry or concern, none at all. I promise to see to it that you receive the best care we are capable of providing here at the Porto Lago Hospital. We shall give you all the treatments and medicines needed to get you back on your feet.

“I myself am going to supervise your complete, successful recovery. I give you my word on that.”

Doctor and patient looked at each other in silence a considerable time.

A nurse approached Bren and he told her to bring a strong sedative for the reawakened Nogo Jatist.

He will have the time and opportunity to regain body strength and we shall be talking again soon, speculated the physician.

I will make him into my tool for destroying the evil nest of the Cacoes that has plagued and troubled me.

VI.

Data made frequent visits to see and talk to Nogo in the hospital. He failed to identify who was visiting to treat and advise him on his physical recovery.

“You are going to recover quickly,” the psychiatrist told him. “My father promises you that victory over the bad memories of what happened at sea will be yours. He himself will see to that, he told me to tell you.”

The lawyer made no response to any such statement by her.

Am I going to return for treatment aboard the Psycho-Globe? he asked himself many times when he was by himself inside the oxygen recovery tube, no one at all talking to him.

Oego sensed something returning into his hands and the thoughts that guided them. There seemed to be an echo, a reflection, of what had been there long ago but which had disappeared in recent days.

Was the gift of his early years of artistic creation being reborn somehow?

He went about the painting of the face of Capricia with a flush of the enthusiasm that had left him. Without any doubt, it was returning with greater force than ever before.

Solar light was flooding into the room behind the kitchen of the apartment.

Capricia sat in a comfortable sofa chair that he had brought there from her living room.

Oego posed her exactly where a maximum of natural light entered from the clear sky outside.

“Is it tiring to you, sitting in pose for such a long while without making any movement at all?” he asked the subject of the portrait he was producing.

She was about to smile at him, but stopped in time so that her face remained unchanged by what she was feeling in terms of emotion.

“No, I am all right,” she cautiously whispered to him. “I can continue like this as long as you wish me to.”

Oego slowly executed a careful brush stroke with his right hand.

“Art work cannot be rushed too rapidly,” he noted. “The pace results from the character of the object at the center of a painting. Your face dictates to me the speed with which I can put it on canvass. It is not a free choice made by me, the painter.”

“I never knew these things that you tell me about your creative acts, Oego. It was a foggy mystery for me, until now.”

“What I am doing resembles the music that you used to play.”

“How is that possible?” she inquired.

“You must follow the rhythm set by the composer, and then by your conductor. I am the composer and leader of this portrait, but it is you, the subject of the painting, who is composing the rhythmic pattern that guides my work.

“I cannot go faster or slower than what the face I am looking at dictates that I do. You are therefore the real, living composer of the picture that is coming into being.”

“That is a wonderful thought, Oego. I am so very glad that you said it to me.”

“How is the patient coming along?” asked Malten Cacoe of his daughter.

The pair sat across from each other at a wharf-side restaurant where they often went to enjoy the oceanic octopus.

“The lawyer is coming along quite well,” she reported. “In a little while he will be taken out of the oxygen tube and placed in a bed. At that point, he will become close to actual release. As far as I can tell, he has not decided what course he intends to take.”

The father frowned. “He has not decided to return to therapy with us?”

“Not yet, but I got the impression that he will choose to return to the Psycho-Globe, despite what he has experienced in the deepest zone of waters.”

“I never had any fear of electric creatures attacking our submersible until this disaster occurred. It was something I overlooked, although I have read about species like the electric eel, for instance.

“I myself have seen eels that are eight feet long and can generate as much as 600 volts of electricity. They use it in order to paralyze the victims they hunt and devour. Electric rays, called numb fish, only go up to charges of 200 or so volts.

“But the gigantic Megalodon, living down in the Great Trench that extends miles below the sea floor, is another story. The danger from the charge it can produce is colossal. If it rises up into the waters of the Abyssal Zone, no one has any defense from its power.”

“Do you think that it will make the deepest levels too hazardous for any vessel such as ours, father?”

“I don’t rightly know,” he mumbled. “But I fear that it could.”

Oego did his painting with increasing speed, as if he had some imaginary deadline to finish the portrait.

He questioned himself: why on the planet am I rushing so much? Why is it that I am growing anxious to finish this picture of my fellow-patient?

It shook him when he realized that it was proximity to Capricia that was affecting him so much, so deeply.

I have never before been affected by a particular woman this way, he was compelled to conclude. That’s it! She has captured my heart and is now ruler of my affections and emotions. That’s it!

Oego stopped his dabbing on the background behind the image of her face.

Suddenly he put his paint brush down on its easel holder and stepped around and faced the young musician.

“How do you feel, Capricia? Are you getting stiff or exhausted from holding one, single position for so long?

“I myself am becoming hungry. Why don’t the two of us go out and have a bite to eat? We have earned ourselves a little rest and some kind of treat, I would think.”

The pair exchanged comfortable smiles.

“Yes, we can go out, then come back later to finish more.”

They left for a nearby eatery, Oego attempting to deal with the unfamiliar emotion he had now come to perceive within himself.

I dare not express this too soon, he commanded himself. I must not overwhelm her with the impulses flooding my mind, he realized.

VII.

Bren Fetch summoned a special, emergency meeting of the trustees of the Porto Lago Hospital. He had an important topic to present for them to examine.

“The pseudo-psychiatrists with the deep-sea submersible have been involved with a disastrous incursion in the vicinity of the Great Trench below the Pelagic Sea’s floor. I have myself dealt with the injured person who was seriously hurt when the vessel intruded into a region where dangerous electrical sharks are present.”

He proceeded to describe what Nogo Jatist had related to him concerning the collision of the Psycho-Globe with the giant predator that attacked it.

The trustees sitting at the conference table with the hospital director blanched, their faces revealing how deeply the description distressed them.

“What can we do?” asked one of them. “We have very limited authority or influence. You must take this up with our local health board, Bren. You have the position of supervisor with that body. Is there something you can accomplish through that department of government?

“I advise you to try something there,” he concluded.

The situation with these people is useless, decided the angry hospital director. He was being forced to seek some outside, original solution.

It had become necessary for him to attempt some unusual strategy,

Data and her father entered the Porto Lago Hospital to visit the ailing lawyer, the main victim of the electrical shark from the Great Trench.

They were both surprised at the news that Nogo presented to them.

“I am scheduled to leave this place early tomorrow morning,” announced the man now resting in a regular hospital bed. “The medicos tell me I have improved to the point that I no longer need constant supervision and care. I shall enjoy complete personal freedom once more,” he proclaimed with a proud grin.

“That is so good to hear,” exclaimed his mental therapist, Dr. Malten Cacoe. “You will now be able to continue with your analysis and treatment. Are you willing to take to the Psycho-Globe once again, along with the other members of your immersion team? Or do you have a justifiable dread of once again going down in the submersible?”

For a length of time, no reply came from the man lying in the bed. The two Cacoes waited with patience to find out what his answer would turn out to be.

Nogo furrowed his forehead in serious consideration before he was able to give them his reply.

“You were right, Doctor, I have a deep, intuitive fear of returning to the globe in which I suffered trauma of such major seriousness. What can I say? No, it is not emotion that inhibits me. I have reached a degree of doubt and suspicion concerning the effectiveness of the method that I was undergoing with you. Thinking over and over, I have grown uncertain about the efficacy of the treatment regime I was part of. What if it is ineffective for me? What if the trauma that I suffered in the collision with the giant electrical shark has made any cure for me impossible should I go back aboard the Psycho-Globe?

“I do not believe that I am yet in a mental condition to make any kind of final decision on the question of my psychiatric treatment? What if I have already received some type of cure from the collision itself? What if the colossal electric shock somehow awaken a new equilibrium inside my mental apparatus?

“Is something like that at all possible, Doctor?” he asked Malten Cacoe.

The reply that Nogo received was an embarrassed, evasive one.

“We must wait then, all of us. No need for any immediate decision, none at all. You can certainly delay any further treatment under my supervision, my good man. Yes, that may be the best of all routes for us to take.

“I imagine that being on your own, outside this facility, will make you an exceedingly happy individual. Am I correct on that?” said Malten with a bright and exaggerated smile.

“There is no need for anyone to make a special trip here when I leave tomorrow,” Nogo informed the two psychiatrists. “I am perfectly able to make my way home to my apartment by myself.”

“Very well,” remarked his analyst. “That is how it will be tomorrow.”

In a few seconds, the Cacoes both excused themselves and departed.

Bren Fetch made a special visit to see off the patient he was paying so much attention to.

“You shall be leaving us in an hour or so,” the hospital Director said with a slight grin. “Do you think you need anyone to accompany you home?”

“No, Doctor. I have been walking around this room and along the corridor, so I have my legs back in walking condition. I have no doubt that I am able to make it on my own. But thank you very much for the consideration.”

“I feel deep obligation for your total recovery,” revealed Fetch. “I have the address of the flat you live in. I could visit you starting tomorrow. Would that be acceptable to you?”

“I do not wish to burden you, but it is certainly okay with me, sir.”

“I will drop by, then. Perhaps tomorrow afternoon.”

“That is kind of you,” muttered the patient lying in bed.

The Director said good-bye and turned around to leave.

He had an appointment waiting to make. It was to be in the City Hall of Porto Lago. He had arranged to see an official who could be of use to him in his campaign against the Psycho-Globe and the two psychiatrists behind it, the Cacoes.

Can I win the cooperation of the mayor to what I mean to propose to him?

This could me the best way to win full victory over my mortal enemies, Bren Fetch told himself.

Can I recruit this political leader to join in my plan of action?

Deep Sea Visions Part I.

19 Apr

I.

Oego Biffen, standing on the balcony of his hotel room, looked out over the harbor of Porto Lago. Though an experienced landscape artist, he had not traveled to this beautiful coastal scene in order to paint it on canvas. His purpose was to restore and recreate the creative drive that seemed to have deserted him a little over a year before.

Can the type of treatment only available in this place bring back what my mind and hands have lost? the painter from the interior asked himself as he took in the quiet oceanic waters and the ships and boats floating about or docked on the wharfs.

The tall, stringy artist with sandy brown hair let his coppery eyes roam over the sunny, picturesque port, absorbing everything that drew his dormant aesthetic interest. Could Porto Lago reinvigorate his inner gifts to what they had once been? Would he ever succeed in recapturing colors as brilliant and vivid as those he was now gazing upon?

Oego suddenly looked down at the timepiece on his index finger.

He had an appointment with Dr. Malten Cacoe in one hour and had to get into his silk outfit for their first meeting together. There was no time to lose, the visiting young painter told himself.

The office of the psychiatrist with whom Oego had exchanged electronic messages lay only a block away from the main dock of Porto Lago. He felt a nervous chill as he rang the sounder beside the door with the name of Dr. Cacoe graven on it.

A short, petite young woman with straw hair and ginger eyes stood in the doorway once it was opened. The painter gave his name and announced he was there to see Dr. Cacoe.

She gave him a radiant smile. “You must be seeking my father, Dr. Malten Cacoe. I too call myself Dr. Cacoe, because that is also my name as his daughter and partner in our practice.

“Please come right in, Mr. Biffen,” she told him as she stepped back and made way for him. “Father has been expecting and waiting for you. He is eager to make personal acquaintance with you. That will be the main purpose of this introductory session between the two of you.”

Oego slowly stepped into the reception room, noticing an impressive, large figure in a dark, formal business suit standing in the doorway to an interior chamber of the office.

“This is Mr. Biffen, father,” said the daughter. “He is here for his first meeting with you.”

“Welcome to Porto Lago,” smiled Malten Cacoe. “Come into my office so that the two of us can become acquainted. There must be a lot of things that you want to ask me about what lies ahead for us.”

Oego made his way into the inner office. Malten went back to his iron desk and sat down, pointing to a chair in front of him where his patients would be seated whenever present for treatment or consultation.

The daughter closed the door to the office, leaving the two males to speak by themselves.

“How was your trip to Porto Lago?” asked the doctor. “I hope that your accommodations are pleasant and comfortable.”

“Yes, they are,” answered the new patient. “This city and its beautiful harbor have deeply impressed me. They form a wonderfully impressive environment for the kind of mental therapy that I am seeking.”

Maltem grinned upon hearing this. “We here enjoy close contact with the Pelagic Sea, which will serve to benefit the new kind of treatment that I have devised in my practice. I guarantee that you shall come to share my deep and fervent love for the quiet waters that flow by our coast. The experience that you have while here will always remain with you, regardless where you may go or settle in the future.”

“I can hardly wait to begin these dives below in the Psycho-Globe submersible,” murmured the patient in a lowered tone. “It promises to be an adventure full of great hope for my renewal in my profession as an artist.”

“The undersea journey is a new, original kind of psychiatric treatment that I have spent many years planning and working out,” explained the therapist. “It is now ready for application in actual practice. I believe that it will bring you solid curative benefits, my friend.

“You shall never regret having come to Porto Lago for psycho-globular treatment, I assure you.”

“When will we be beginning?” asked the painter with spirited curiosity and enthusiasm.

“My daughter, Data, is a licensed psychiatrist and assists me with new patients. She will be in charge of your introductory descents into the undersea’s upper levels, preparatory to further travel downward into the zones of the abyss and the bottom sea floor. Those areas will be reached later, when you have become acclimatized to the dark, lightless levels of the world of the water.”

“My movement will be a gradual descent into the depths, then?” said Oego with a measure of surprise in his voice.

“That’s right. We will begin by accustoming you to being undersea in what is called the Sunlight Zone, where solar radiation continues to penetrate and have its effect on plant life through photosynthesis. You shall be exposed to the marine animal life of that upper region of the sea.

“Only when you are adjusted to being in the Psycho-Globe will you descend into the darkness of the Twilight Zone. That may take a variable amount of time that is unpredictable, varying with each of our patients.

“Beyond that zone, there is the deeper Midnight Zone of even greater darkness. You shall see your first biolucent creatures at this level. After that, there will be what we refer to as the Abyss. This layer of the sea water takes you over 19,000 feet down. You become increasing used to the high amount of pressure at these ever colder levels. This must by its very nature be a gradual process of accommodation of both your mind and your body.

“Finally, the Psycho-Globe will transport you downward to the sea bottom, close to the Great Trench that exists on the oceanic floor. This will place you in what will seem a unique, different world that lies outside the planet that you know and are familiar with.

“That is the location where my daughter will lead you through the main phrase of your psychoanalysis and mental treatment. It will not occur at the beginning, but as the final phase of the therapy pattern that we have mapped out and programmed for our patients.

“This will not be an easy course to follow and fulfill, my friend. It will demand dedication and persistence from you, as it does from all of the patients we take on to treat.”

Oego surprised Malten Cacoe by breaking out in a wide, noticeable grin. “I am eager and ready to begin, Doctor,” he said with energy and spirit.

An early breakfast with the father and his daughter was scheduled for the following morning in the home of the Cacoes close to their office.

“You and Data can spend a few hours talking over your first trips on the Psycho-Globe today, then take your first dive below the surface tomorrow,” said Malten as he finished his gruel and fried ova. “Data has finished years of study and observation that have prepared her for guiding patients on their voyages to the depths.”

“My father has been a skillful teacher of both theory and practice,” noted the daughter who had been assigned to lead the new patient’s treatments. “What I plan to do with you will follow the principles that he himself has formulated for our profession. They are strong and proven, as you shall soon see for yourself.”

Malten began to speak as if giving a lecture to a class.

“My guiding concept is that of the duality of human mental operation. By that I mean that our minds and personalities possess a double nature containing opposites and contradictions. This is by no means an original idea first conceived by me, but I have adopted it as my central ptinciple.

“From my years of experience, I have come to recognize the inner tension between the conscious and the unconscious, the rational and the emotional, the subjective and the objective aspects within each and every individual self.

“That dualism is the very essence of the existence of our species. When it crosses over a certain limit, there arises conflict and internal problems.

“My own original discovery is the great effect that the depths of the sea can exercise in overcoming the troubled conditions of persons unable to overcome these divisions and contradictions by themselves.

“The natural luminescent lighting visible down at the sea floor where the trenches lie can make changes in troubled minds. That is the knowledge that provides the therapeutic success found aboard the Psycho-Globe that takes us down there.”

“That is what has drawn me to Porto Lago,” softly confessed Oego. “I am eager to undergo such descent into the waters.”

Malten appeared to become abstracted and dreamy as he spoke again.

“There is a mysterious process when a person is far below under the sea. It is a process of clarification that seems to occur inside a mind. I have not been able to give a complete explanation of what happens, but the various portions of an individual’s personality melt together and fuse with each other.

“The effect, after a time, is to solve many of the questions and problems that cause conflict and pain inside a person’s mental processes.”

All of a sudden, the psychiatrist pulled himself together in the present moment. His chestnut eyes focused with sharpness on the face of Oego.

“You will not be descending alone,” he announced. “Data plans to take two other new patients along on this first, short journey into the sea. One of them is a young female musician, the other is a male whose profession is that of a lawyer.

“Data will be introducing the three of you patients to each other when she meets with your trio tomorrow morning, when all of you assemble together on the dock where the Psycho-Globe is tied up.

“Be certain to have yourself a good night of rest and sleep tonight, Oego,” grinned the mental therapist.

The rising solar star filled the harbor of Porto Lago with light red and yellow rays of brilliant light.

Feeling fully restored both physically and mentally, Oego headed for the distant end of the wharf where the Psycho-Globe of the two Cacoe doctors had its berth. The first familiar face he recognized there was that of Data, standing with and talking to an athletic-looking young male figure.

Oego approached and greeted his new therapist. The latter did the same, then introduced him to the patient who was to be a fellow-passenger on the submersible they were to travel on.

“This is Nogo Jatist, who is an attorney from one of the agricultural districts inland. “He just arrived here in Porto Lago, and is scheduled for the same initial descent that you will be on.”

The lanky, strong-looking lawyer offered his right hand to Oego, who took hold of it to shake. “I hope we have a good day down there,” muttered the young man named Nogo.

“Here comes our fourth companion,” interrupted Data. “Her name is Capricia Depone.”

A willowy tall, fragile female approached the trio, all three of them turning toward her with focused attention. Data introduced this patient to the others.

“This is Capricia Depone,” said the psychiatrist. “She is a professional musician who plays in the symphony orchestra of the city she lives in, Broadtown.”

The smiling newcomer shook hands, first with Nogo and then with Oego.

“What is your instrument, may I inquire?” asked Nogo.

Capricia smiled with embarrassment. “I have to admit that I am a drum-player in the rhythm section of the great ensemble. That means that I am not at all important or prominent in any sense. But I manage at times to contribute to the overall sound of the entire orchestra,” she shyly stated.

“Let’s get aboard the Psycho-Globe,” proposed Data. “It is about time for our descent into the blue to begin.”

The huge sphere made of an aluminum-titanium alloy, with a diameter of fifteen feet, floated at the far end of the main wharf in the harbor.

Data and her three patients entered through the entrance opening which the psychiatrist rapidly closed. She took control of the instrument board after all the passengers were seated. The three patients took metallic chairs facing the large siliconate viewing window on one side of the Psycho-Globe.

The small motor of the diving vehicle was started and the four began to move out into the open sea beyond the coastal area.

Data announced when she decided it was time to begin their descent below the surface of sea water.

“We shall now go down into the so-called Sunlight Zone, which extends 200 meters downward into the sea. The technical name for this region is the Epipelagic Zone. It receives sufficient amounts of solar light to permit photosynthesis of plant life to exist within its boundaries.”

The three patents stared intently at the objects visible through the globe’s main window as Data continued speaking.

“This is the upper depth where whales and dolphins live out on the distant waters far from the continental coast. Some scientists call this the Euphoric Height of the sea because of it being sunlit at much of the time. Here are found zooplankton, algae, seaweed, anchovy, sardines, herring, scad, and whiting. Clams, crabs, salmon, and mackeral make their homes at this level as well, along with predatory sharks.

“This is a busy, crowded world of water, as you will today see for yourselves.”

All three of the passenger-patients gazed outward at the passing living beings as if hypnotized by the unfamiliar sights before their eyes.

When the globe returned to its docking location and the foursome climbed onto land, Nogo Jatist gave his fellow patients an unexpected invitation after Data excused herself and left for the apartment she shared with her father.

“Why don’t all of us visit some drinking spot and get acquainted with each other?” he proposed to both Oego and Capricia.

The latter made an excuse not to join the two males. “I have a lot to do in the flat I am renting,” she shyly muttered. “Perhaps another time, when I don’t have so many necessary tasks and chores to complete as I do today.”

“I’ll join you for a drink and conversation,” said Oego with a friendly grin. “We patients will be seeing a lot of each other on the descents that lie ahead for us.”

The pair sat down inside a small inn near dockside, Oego ordering a anise-sassafras beer while his companion was having himself a dark licorice-vanilla-molasses combination. It was Nogo who found himself doing most of the talking between the two of them.

“I have not had an easy path in my chosen legal career,” confessed the advocate. “At every decisive point, outside forces have arrayed themselves to block and stymy my advance. My story is not at all a pleasant or pretty one.”

“You have had to deal with difficult situation, I take it,” muttered the painter who now did very little painting.

“Yes, that is correct. My fate with the law has not been a happy one. I seem to draw a lot of personal enemies to myself, and they do their best to block and frustrate me.

“I have had to suffer the indignity of having to defend myself against false, unjust accusations brought against me in the courts where I used to practice.

“But I proved myself smarter than my enemies, and they failed to take away my lawyer’s license, but my practice suffered irreparable damage and loss. I did not recover my old reputation or clientele. Too much damage had been done for me to ever recover all that had been lost by me.”

“There was an attempt to disbar you?” inquired Oego.

Nogo frowned. “Not once, not even twice, but three times they brought charges against me. Three times I proved my innocence of the slanderous accusations. But what was the good to me of such vindications? My sources of income all but disappeared and I fell into utter despair and desperation. I lost all signs and symbols of respect and well-being. They tagged me as a failure behind my back. I had no trustworthy friends or associates in my own profession of law.”

“That sounds highly tragic,” said Oego. “Was it that experience in the law that brought you to seek treatment in Porto Lago?”

The lawyer gave a melancholy smile. “I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that it was. My fall has been nearly complete and I have come extremely close to seeking the protection of bankruptcy.

“I at times fear that this Psycho-Globe therapy is my final chance to change the course of my uninspiring life. My case is a very sad one because of all the evil that other people have made me suffer.”

The two fell quiet as they sipped their herbal beers.

Oego realized that the other had not given him any opportunity to talk about his own severe state of depression.

III.

Capricia entered the office where Data sat at a magnesium desk. The psychiatrist invited her to sit down across from her, which the trim, sleek patient slowly did, her dark eyes avoiding looking too directly at her new therapist.

“I want to come to know you better and better, Capricia,” began Data in an even, measured voice. “What can you tell me about your parents and your childhood, my dear?”

The young woman being questioned hesitated in thought for several moments before saying a word.

“Both my mother and father have passed away, but I have very clear, sharp memories of how they treated me.”

She took a deep sigh, then proceeded into the sensitive area of her family life.

“My father tended to be absent most of the time, involved with his business in the field of property insurance. I only saw him on weekends and when we went on vacations somewhere.

“My mother was a commanding authority over every possible corner of my life. What I wore, what I studied, who my friends could be: all such important decisions were in her hands alone. I myself was permitted little room for independent choice on almost anything.

“I was a controlled, directed child, and my mother was the one who decided all the important matters of my growing-up and my education.”

“How was it that you become a drummer rather than another type of musician, Capricia?”

The latter seemed to blush. Her eyes turned somewhat cloudy.

“My mother insisted that I take lessons on playing on the piano, but I was not too successful at all. As a result, I myself turned to drumming as a preferred musical expression of my own. It became my own alternative to becoming an unskilled, poorly gifted pianist.

“I was the one who discovered this alternative to my mother’s decision. She had to accept it because of all the pain that came upon me from attempting to do what she had chosen as my musical instrument.

“It seems today that she never forgave me for disappointing her so much.”

Data took note of the bitter, sad expression on the face of this patient. She at once presented a new question.

“Did you have friends when you were a child, Capricia?”

“Only a few, and my mother was the one who picked and approved them for me.”

“I see,” abruptly noted the therapist. “Tell me this: have you ever had a close friendship with a boy or young man, at any age at all?”

“No, that never happened to me. My mother would never have allowed anything like that. And even after she passed away, I never had any kind of boyfriend or suitor. It was as if mother was still there, in a sense protecting and guarding me through her strictness.

“Do you understand how it was for me, Dr. Cacoe? How it continues to be, even today?”

“Yes, Capricia, I am discovering many important factors and influences that together helped to shape your internal personality. There are a number of things that combined to make you who you are.

“But that is enough for now, for today. Tomorrow our group is going to descend deeper into the waters of the sea, and I believe what you observe from out of the Psycho-Globe will be most interesting and fascinating. It will help both you and me in deciphering the meaning of what seems to be blocking your independent existence as a full, complete person.”

“I will look forward to this experience, Doctor,” declared the patient.

Data took a minute to present introductory, biographical questions of Oego before diving into the nature of the problem that had brought him to Porto Lago for treatment.

“Are you happy and satisfied with the past course of your achievements in the field of painting natural landscapes and scenes?” she suddenly asked him.

Oego took a moment to consider and arrange what he intended to say in reply.

“No, I must confess that I cannot say that my history has been what I dreamed of it becoming when I first became involved in artistic activity. Although I have won a measure of repute in my chosen profession, my final products have not proven to reach the level of fulfillment that I aimed for at the very beginning. Time after time, I have ended up dissatisfied with the degree of originality and creativeness that were my initial aim.

“The result of this negative evaluation of my painting by myself has been a growing sense of pain and unhappiness. I have sought without success to find some way to reach my goal, but have not come up with a practical, realistic solution to this need of mine. The result has been despair and profound depression that flooded my mind with distress.

“I have therefore turned to the Psycho-Globe as a hopeful alternative that I wish to try out.”

“Tell me how it is that you judge and evaluate yourself, Oego. Would I be correct in thinking that you lack any kind of self-esteem about what you have done as an artist?”

“I do not deny that I possess a very poor concept of my own worth. That is the feeling that causes me such mental pain and torture.”

“You must consider that some means of escape is available for you,” speculated Data in a gentle tone full of sympathy. “Otherwise, you would not have traveled here to Porto Lago for our undersea brand of psychotherapy.”

Oego was silent for a brief time, as he formulated a response in his mind.

“I guess that I have never given up all hope of liberating myself from this horrible burden that I bear. It will now be up to you and your father to bring about the rebalancing and restoration that I need and dream of, Doctor.”

The exchange rapidly came to an end and the patient left the office.

IV.

Data was waiting in her office for Nogo Jatist to appear for his first session when her father entered, causing her to look up at him in surprise.

“I received a telephonic message from the hotel where this lawyer signed up for treatment is staying,” announced Malten Cacoe in a heavy tone. “The man told me that he would not be here for his first meeting with a therapist today. Rather than that, he prefers to delay the inaugural session for a short time. His preference is to undergo more and deeper journeying into the deep sea before talking with anyone.

“That is hard to understand or interpret, Data. My first conclusion is that this patient of yours is overwhelmed with fear and suspicion. I have no doubts that he will have to be treated for a large degree of mental paranoia. That seems to me to be the immediate diagnosis of his unusual attitude to what he came here for. He needs and wants treatment, but he has an unfriendly, fearful attitude to anyone attempting to provide him direct, personal treatment of any sort.”

“What am I to do with such a patient, father?” nervously asked Data, furrowing her brow with worried concern.

“For now, go along with his request for delay. Cancel his meeting with you and take him along with the others on the next dive into the sea.

“What else can anyone do with such a troubled individual?”

The three patients watched the darkened waters of the Twilight Zone as their therapist, Data Cacoe, described the creatures that inhabited this level below the lighted Epipelagic.

“This region extends downward to about 3,000 feet. Oceanographers call it the Mesopelagic. It contains the first instances of bioluminescence that will be visible for you. Most common will be the lanternfish, which is very aptly called that. But there is also the hatchetfish, the ridgehead, and the barreleye swimming about at this level of the sea.

“I will point out for you specific species as they move by past our globe.”

As the submersible sank lower their guide-therapist identified an increasing number of marine residents to them: the blobfish, the sabertooth, the loosejaw, the lancet fish, the stoplight, and the opah.

The threesome of patients were mesmerized by sight of an anglerfish, a flashlight fish, a pinecone fish, and a gulper eel. Strange, enchanting blue light crossed the deep, dark waters surrounding their vessel on all sides, in all directions and dimensions. As the waters came to possess a resemblance to black tar or glue, the faint light of the creatures moving through it acquired a weak but sharpened radiance that resembled some sort of electronic radiation.

The quiet inside the globe grew solemn and noticeable. Even Data maintained a silence that permitted each of the patient passengers to gaze and focus with total attention on the bioluminescence none of them had ever directly seen before.

The submersible seemed to stop in complete suspension and immobility.

An unidentifiable sound suddenly came from where Capricia sat. The psychiatrist and the two other patients turned and looked at her in alarm.

No one could believe what their eyes revealed. The musician who played upon drums had opened her mouth wide and was regurgitating a ghastly-looking liquid from out of her throat. A weak and horrible sound was breaking the previous long silence.

The ginger-colored eyes of Capricia seemed to be bulging forth.

All of a sudden, the noise ended and her mouth shut closed. She fell forward, only held and restrained by the safety belt around her waist that held her in the chair that she occupied.

Oego began to speak to Data. “We have to get her back on solid land, Doctor. Can you quickly return us to Porto Lago? She needs fresh air out in the open. There is no other way to help her recover consciousness and equilibrium.”

Data started to manipulate the control wheel and instrument knobs with both of her hands.

“Don’t be worried, she will be alright once we get her into the open air again.”

Capricia found herself unable to walk off the globe once it was tied up to the dock in Porto Lago harbor. What was to be done? was an immediate problem for Data and the two male passengers who had participated in the just completed sea journey.

Data came to a decision at once. “We will have to carry our friend to the City Hospital for first-aid treatment. Can you two fellows take hold of Capricia on each side and support her in climbing out of this vessel, then walking her to the medical center? It is about two streets away from the wharf we have tied up to. Do you feel yourself able to make your way forward with the physical support of your two partners?”

“Yes,” answered the injured musician. “I think that would be possible with their aid.”

“Let us begin that task, then,” decided the psychiatrist, taking charge of the accepted plan of transporting Capricia to the nearby medical facility where she could be examined and treated.

Oego and Nogo slowly walked the drummer with a painful injury on her right leg. Data, in front of the three, led the way to the hospital’s emergency room.

An immediate examination and diagnosis resulted in a recommendation that she be hospitalized for a short period of at least one day and night.

“She will have pictures taken of her leg bones and have a temporary cast placed on her right leg,” reported the doctor in charge of emergency treatment. “I think she will be well enough to leave here sometime early tomorrow morning.”

“We will have to leave you in the hands of the care-givers of this hospital, then,” said Data to her injured psychological patient.

A nurse and two aides lifted Capricia onto a gurney, with which they wheeled her to a private room in the interior of the facility. Data, Oego, and Nogo followed just behind.

“We can stay with you until it is time for you to rest and sleep,” said Data to the musician lying on a cushion-bed. “Early tomorrow, the three of us promise to return and accompany you home to the flat that you rent, my dear.”

The three who had been on the Psycho-Globe with her remained for close to an hour, talking with Capricia. Only when a meal was brought into the room for the patient did the group of her companions leave her to herself.

A man in white medical uniform entered the hospital room as the harbor outside fell into increasing dimness with the approach of dusk.

The smiling figure identified himself as he approached.

“I am Dr. Bren Fetch, Director of the Porto Lago Hospital.

“How are you feeling, Miss Depone? I am told that you had a serious fall while inside the globe vessel of the Cacoe family. That must have been a painful experience for you to experience.

“I hope that the treatment that our staff is providing you is satisfactory. Are you comfortable? Has your physical pain declined in the time since you entered here? If there is anything you need or that would add to your rest and comfort, be certain that we shall be happy to provide it.

“I am informed that the hope is that you can leave us early tomorrow morning.”

“Yes,” murmured the patient. “That is exactly what the nurse said just a short while ago. I hope that I will then be able to be walking on my own.”

Dr. Fetch seemed to grimace a little. “I am surprised that you have traveled to Porto Lago for treatment aboard the globe of Dr. Cacoe and his daughter. That form of therapy is untested and operates under a cloud of criticism and doubt. There are, even here in our city, a number of psychiatrists with much better credentials and reputations.” His voice fell to an audible whisper. “Is it possible for me to visit you once you leave our hospital, Miss Depone? I am sure I could provide you valuable medical aid and advice.” He paused for several seconds before adding that “There is no need for you to inform the Cacoes, since they are only practicing in the area of the mind and its treatment.”

He gazed at her questioningly, an unusual steadiness in his sloe eyes.

Capricia surprised him with her instant acceptance and agreement.

“If you wish, Doctor,” she crisply said. “I gave the address of my flat to the emergency nurse when I was brought into the hospital.”

“Thank you,” nodded Bren Fetch as he turned and headed out of the room that she occupied.

V.

Oego and Nogo repaired to the dock inn they were familiar with after night fell over Porto Lago harbor.

Both of them decided to try the chocolate millet-malt that was popular on the seaside shores of the Pelagic Sea.

“It will be hard for Capricia to recover any assurance or confidence after what happened to her today in the globe,” mused Oego aloud. “Who could have foreseen such an accident befalling the unfortunate girl?”

“Was it purely an accident?” questioned the lawyer. “There can be unknowable reasons that cause such events to come about. I have read about unrecognized, unconscious causes for harmful mishaps such as this one in the Psycho-Globe. For all we know, this incident might be a result of some invisible factor hidden way back in the young woman’s past.”

“What are you thinking of, then?” said the painter with sudden emotional reaction. “Do you suspect some negative influence inside her mind?”

Nogo picked up his ceramic cup and took a lengthy swig. “Who knows? Who can say? I am only making suppositions, that is only an idle speculation on my part.

“I have nothing substantial to go by, beyond what both of us happened to witness for ourselves today. There is no way for either me or you to be certain about her inner thoughts or motives.

“Perhaps I should not have said what I did about the unfortunate young lady.”

“I have the impression that she is fighting hard for a healthier mode of thinking and living,” opined Oego. “She has motives very similar to mine and yours. That is how I see and interpret what she suffered earlier today.”

Both men remained silent for a few moments.

“I guess you are right about Capricia, my friend,” muttered Nogo Jatist.
_

The first visitor the hospital patient had the following morning happened to be Dr. Data Cacoe.

“How did you sleep, Capricia? I hope that you rested and recovered from the pain you were experiencing yesterday.”

The young woman in bed appeared sad and troubled. “I don’t know for sure,” she moaned. “I woke up only a few minutes ago, and it will take me some length of time to discover whether I am any better than I was last night, when I was still feeling a lot of hurt on the side of my body.”

“It takes time for a person to get back to normal,” murmured Data. “You have to be very patient, my dear. Only when you are fully ready for it will you be leaving the hospital for your flat. Do not worry about your program on board the globe. We will get you back with the rest of your team of patients as quickly as is possible. You will get back on track with the others as soon as becomes practical.”

“That is what I am hoping for and depending on, Doctor,” muttered the musician who had suffered physical injuries. “My thoughts will be with you and the team aboard the Psycho-Globe. Have no doubts about that at all.”

In a little while, the psychiatrist excused herself and left the patient when the latter’s breakfast was brought in by a hospital aide.

Data decided it wise to talk with her father about the interrupted therapy program of Capricia Depone.

Malten was busy with paperwork in his personal office when his daughter entered.

“How is the one in the hospital doing?” he asked, raising his head and viewing her.

“It may take several days for the girl to return to normal, I believe. This will set her back in what is planned for the group she is in. Can the loss of time in deeper levels be made up before the globe is taken into the bottom level? I ask myself.”

Her father suddenly frowned. “Yes, I can foresee something of a problem in the timing of her therapy. This hospitalization is going to result in some serious problems in her treatment. Can you overcome the difficulty by a speeding up of what occurs later, when she returns aboard the globe? Will this patient of ours be able to make up for the lost voyages due to her physical condition?”

“I am hopeful that it can be done, father,” asserted Data. “But bringing her back on line may need some extra efforts on my part. Yes, I am fully willing to make the additional efforts that may come to be needed in her case.”

“That is gratifying to hear, Data,” he nodded at her. “I believe that you can lead the patient back to where she should be. You must visit and talk with her, convincing the young woman that she is able to keep up with her fellow-patients on the same team by utilizing her own imagination and speculative abilities.

“You must make her believe in the power of her mind to recreate and reassemble the component parts of the self-image she holds within her mind.”

“Yes, father, I owe that to Capricia,” whispered his daughter.

Data, smiling, turned about and departed from the office.

VI.

Oego amd Nogo reached the globe before their therapist the following morning, making it necessary for the two to wait her arrival for several minutes.

“I feel very sorry for Capricia,” moaned the lawyer with a frown. “She has been unfortunate in her experience since coming to Porto Lago. I have no doubt of that at all.”

“Perhaps she will be able to make up for lost time in the immediate future,” speculated Eogo. “I would say that she has the intelligence to join us later on in the course that has been set up for us. It is pretty certain that Dr. Cacoe will provide her with extra help and advice that can make up for absences such as today’s.”

“I hope you are right about that,” said Nogo with a sigh.

All at once, Dr. Data Cacoe appeared on the wharf, heading toward the Psycho-Globe and the two patients who stood close to the under-sea vehicle.

“Good morning!” greeted the psychiatrist as she approached near, “Let’s get going, you fellows. The deep sea is waiting for us to come and see it!”

The two males accompanied Data aboard the globe-shaped craft, then watched as she took command of the instrument controls and started the hydrazine engine operating. The vessel left its mooring berth and moved into the waters of Porto Lago harbor, heading into the open sea.

As she steering the globe downward below the water’s surface, the therapist explained what the day’s route would be below in the dark region.

“Today we travel below the Mesopelagic Zone of twilight into the Bathypelagic level, what is informally referred to as the Midnight Zone of total darkness. This sector extends downward to 13,100 feet and contains many strange, unique forms of life that you two will see for the first time in their natural environment.

“You are going to view the beautiful illumination coming from creatures such as the dragonfish, the viperfish, and the black swallower. There will also be visible other bioluminescent species that you have seen before at higher levels, such as anglerfish and flashlight fish.

“Because of the total absence of any light from the solar star, the natural animal light will stand out all the more.”

This turned out to be an accurate prediction, because both Oego and Nogo were captivated by the sights they now started to observe in the Midnight Zone of the Pelagic Sea from within the global vessel.

The pair grew increasingly mesmerized and fascinated by what they saw outside the globe’s panoramic window as Data described the entities that floated by.

“That red glow comes from a vampire squid that can invert itself into its own body, fitting inside its long exterior tentacles. It emits a gooey cloud of bioluminescent mucus…Over there is a gulper eel with a foggy blue light in its tail, which it utilizes to attract fish larger then itself, swallowing them whole into its enormously large mouth…All of these residents of the bathypelagic level possess very weak muscles within their slimy bodies. Their metabolic rates are extremely low and they use the light of their bodies to attract prey that can feed them.”

Data became silent, studying both of her listeners, one after the other, for a short time.

“I intend to allow both of you to continue looking into the sea at this level so that you can become accustomed to its denizens as much as is possible. But I tell you that when we dive lower still, you shall being viewing and experiencing forms of life that few persons have ever had any direct exposure to.

“My aim will be to prepare you for a realm that surprises and overwhelms. That region, far below this one, is where your therapy program will have its highest chances of fulfillment and success. It will become easier to solve stubborn inner problems when we reach the sea bottom with its magnificent inhabitants.”

The psychiatrist said very little from that point on.

“How do you feel today, Miss Depone?”

Capricia rolled over in bed and gazed with surprise at Dr. Bren Fetch.

“It’s hard to know that for sure after the terrible fall I had under the water,” she replied with evident difficulty. “I think that I still have certain kinds of echoes of that painful experience. Perhaps those feelings remain more in my mind than in my physical body.

“What do you think, Doctor? Is that the way that a sudden accident affects us after it happens?”

She watched as the rangy, stringy physician with sloe eyes approached the bed.

“Pain is a subject that we still often misunderstand, regardless of all the advances made in medical science,” he told her calmly, softly. “I myself do not claim to have a completely adequate knowledge or understanding of how pain attacks and then leaves us. It remains an unsolved mystery, I must admit.”

He smiled with friendly warmth.

“I must leave the hospital as soon as possible, Doctor Fetch,” she said, suddenly frowning a little. “My therapist is expecting me to go on with the undersea traveling that has begun. It is the center of why I came to Porto Lago in the first place.”

Bren Fetch leaned forward and asked her a question. “Can I take your pulse, please?”

“Yes, of course, sir,” she answered.

He bent forward and took hold of her right hand as she lifted her arm upward.

The two looked directly into each other’s eyes as he counted the beats of her heart.

As he released her hand, Capricia let it fall to the blanket on the bed.

“What do you say, Doctor?” she asked with a degree of concern.

“Your pulse is quite normal,” he grinned. “There is nothing unusual or alarming in what I noticed. Your heart is working as it should, I have to report to you.”

“That is good to hear, I have to tell you,” she said with a sigh.

For a short time, the two of them looked at each other in thoughtful silence. It was the physician who was first to say anything, as he started to whisper to the patient in bed.

“There is an important subject that I wish to tell you about. In a sense, it is a serious warning that I wish to convey to you, Miss Depone.

It concerns Dr. Cacoe and his daughter. Both of them claim to be trained psychiatrists operating with an innovative method based upon taking their patients on deep-sea journeys in a submersible that they call their Psycho-Globe. It is a therapy used nowhere else on our planet. They are the only individuals who claim that it has positive results when applied to mental disorders or conditions. That is the system that you were undergoing when this painful injury occurred to you.

“Am I correct?”

Capricia nodded her head and muttered “Yes, it was.”

Bren Fetch leaned his head down even more, looking her directly in the eyes.

“Do not remain under the care of these two people, I have to warn you.

“They are involved with an unproven method for which there is no foundation in scientific research. The father, this Malten Cacoe, is nothing more than a con man, a mountebank, a clever trickster who preys on innocent victims such as you.

“He is not to be trusted to any degree, not at all.

“I have discovered that before coming here to Porto Lago he was engaged in fraudulent claims on insurance companies for fabricated injuries and treatments that were never given to his confederates.

“What he claims to be able to do in his submersible is a complete lie.

“The greatest personal harm or injury may fall upon you in case you continue seeking psychiatric treatment with these two imposters, the corrupt father and his evil daughter.”

Bren halted, gazing downward at Capricia with evident fear on his face. His sloe eyes seemed to dilate as she looked into them.

“I shall talk to you again, Miss Depone, before you leave our hospital. For now, you must rest and recover your equilibrium.”

The doctor retreated away from the bed, turned about, and quickly disappeared out of the room.

The patient fell into troubled, worried thought she found herself unable to escape from.

VII.

The Psycho-Globe had surfaced in the harbor of Porto Lago and approached the wharf berth where it would soon be docked. Data Cacoe turned to her pair of patients she had just guided down to the Midnight Zone and revealed what their schedule was to be in the next week of their mental therapy and treatment.

“It is now important that you undergo intense analysis that will penetrate closer to the center of your minds. That may take a number of days to finish up so that we can take you even deeper into the sea, down toward the bottom trenches, which are almost a world to themselves.

“My hope is that our injured companion, Capricia Depone, will have recovered physically by the time we dive downward again, and that she will be in condition to join our group, both physically and mentally. She has had to be hospitalized longer than at first anticipated.

“She should be released to go home to her flat by the time we go down next time.”

All of a sudden, her ginger eyes focused on the lawyer, Nogo Jatist.

“I have discussed your special situation with my father, and he has agreed with me to take over the task of your personal analysis and study, my friend. He and I will be working together and consulting as a united team on your therapy.

“I hope that this arrangement will be agreeable to you, Nogo.”

The latter seemed to blush red with an unidentifiable emotion. “Yes, that sounds reasonable and comfortable to me, Doctor,” he told her in a hesitant tone.

Dr.Bren Fetch, as managing Director of the Porto Lago Hospital, had a meeting with his executive committee to address on important subjects and problems.

He sat at the head of a dark maple table, his four fellow members looking at their leader for information and direction.

“I believe that I have found a means of penetrating the practice of the two doctors who claim to be practicing psychiatry with a submersible globe. This will be carried out through one of our hospital patients who is under the care of the Cacoe pair for her mental problems and troubles.

“I have succeeded in winning her to cooperate in reporting to me on what she sees and hears in the course of her treatment aboard their Psycho-Globe. This young woman is a musician who is seeking the resolution of her painful shyness and lack of social skills.

“This patient has become uncertain about the efficacy of what the Cacoes promise her can be achieved in her case. She hopes that it will be possible, with my personal aid and attention, to measure and monitor what the effects of her voyages beneath the sea might turn out to be.

“I have won her personal trust, so that when she leaves our hospital she will continue to meet and converse with me. She will be a witness who relates to me what is attempted inside the Psycho-Globe.”

Bren Fetch, all of a sudden, smiled with delight at his cleverness. “I believe that the young woman will help us to throw these false therapists of the mind out of their profession. They will have to flee from Porto Lago in disgrace and disrepute, once I have adequate intelligence concerning what goes on in this suspicious submersible vehicle.”

His fellow medicos gazed at Bren with admiration at what he was achieving in the campaign against the unorthodox form of psychiatry carried out by the father-daughter combination with their unusual submarine globe.

The Memory Institute IV.

21 Feb

I.

The recovery of forgotten memories out of the subconscious turned out to contain unexpected details and aspects, both Enon and Reia soon discovered.

“When are we going to announce this important breakthrough in restoring knowledge of my buried past?” he asked her with rising impatience. “It will be a great surprise to the entire profession, I doubt not,” said Enon with excitement on his face. “I never believed that such a miraculous development within my mind would ever occur the way that it has.”

“I think that there is a need for much more evidence and solid proof,” she assured her partner in their joint venture. “It will take us only a very short time to collect enough evidence to go forward with the revelation of what we have accomplished with our new method.”

Enon did not have any argument against her idea of delaying any announcement of what they had done and achieved. He would wait to see how far his recovery of memory went before anything was done to inform those around them.

The names and faces of playmates and companions of his earliest years returned into his conscious mind as if they had never been lost at all.

Enon gave Reia a lengthy description of his first few years in grammar school and the main events that shaped his character during that period of his emerging life.

“I can recall how I learned various games from my most intimate friends of my own age. Each one of them opened up a new area of activity, a different field of interest for me. I rapidly picked up the rules and the required skills for playing with balls, skittles, and game boards of all sorts.

“It is amazing how much I can now remember of each individual’s contribution to my formation of mind and personality.

“My nearest neighbor was Tmot, who already knew quite a lot about sports. He owned a variety of playing balls for different games, and I learned from him the rules and physical patterns involved in all of them.

“In other words, Tmot helped make me both a fan and also a junior, beginning player at armball, wristball, and kicker. I began to go to nearby playing field where amateur games were carried on by older youths. I became fascinated and dedicated to all aspects of these major, prime sports of Daxia. There was never enough of them for me to observe from the bleacher stands. As quickly as possible, I tried to become an active participant in as many ways as possible.

“I very soon started to play various positions on informal teams at playgrounds in our home area. It was most interesting and exciting for me. I can recall the emotional thrills that I felt within me back then.”

Reia beamed him a wide, radiant smile. “That is good to hear, because it means that old memories are coming back to life. It reflects a definite victory for our mesmeric-brain wave style of therapy, my dear. I am so happy of the success we are attaining.”

Enon’s face flushed with a flood of inner sense and feeling.

“It is amazing what comes back to me as my mind wanders through my early years of experiences,” he continued in an occupied, abstracted mood. “For instance, when I go back to my first classes in grammar school, the names of my teachers return as strong and fresh as if I were still there with them. I can see the faces of both the men and the women who presented me with my earliest lessons in subjects such as geography and history, biology and arithmetic. Not only do all of them reappear on the stage within my brain, but I can recall each and every fellow student, both the girls and the boys.

“I not only know their first, given names, but their family names as well. And I can give the correct name to every childhood face the arises in a visible form within my thoughts. There is not one face or name forgotten by me in this sudden, marvelous restoration of those once forgotten passages of my life.

“That is hard to accept, isn’t it? How can such a miracle occur? I have to force myself to believe that it is true.”

Reia, becoming increasingly aroused and excited, stepped close to him with an unusually glow in her cinnamon eyes. “But it is true, Enon. As true as anything in our existence can be. We are witnessing the spectacular results of all our efforts.”

He gazed back at her, unable to conceive what he should reply to this statement coming from the person who had succeeded in returning his early memories to him.

The following morning, Reia noticed at once that there was an alarming kind of disorientation about her partner. She hesitated asking him what was causing such disquiet in him, but waited for him to bring it out of himself on his own.

He filled a small bowl with porridge from a pot on the electronic stove, then sat down at the breakfast table opposite her. Only after taking several spoons of cereal did he reveal what it was vexing him so visibly.

“I had a dream that some people would probably termed a nightmare,” he began in an empty, weakened tone. “It was more of a remembrance of something that was horrible back then when it actually happened. But it shook me as if it was something that I just went through as recently as yesterday. The impression was as strong and complete as when I experienced it in real life, Reia.”

She struggled for breath a second or so, then spoke to him with exaggerated gentleness and sympathy.

“Do not fear that it will be disturbing to me,” she murmured. “I sincerely wish to know for myself what appears to have thrown you off the track of the recovery that was going on as recently as yesterday.

“Please do not attempt to spare me anything at all, for I know that I can cope with what has derailed you from what you and I were both striving for.”

Enon set his spoon down beside his bowl and confessed what his mind had remembered from out of the painful, shadowy portion of his subconscious mind.

“It was an incident from about my sixth year that came back to me last night. I witnessed the event in the form of a terrible dream and am certain that it is in no way a product of my own imagination. Let me describe how this vision of mine came back from its deep grave inside somewhere.

“I was an innocent, naïve boy who joined a small gang of older boys. It was my idea that this would be interesting and enjoyable for me. It was probably not possible for me to see how painful the actual consequences might turn out to be.

“All my older companions were bigger and older than me. They knew more and could accomplish more than me, no question of that. I had to hurry to keep up with their speedy pace of march, and had difficulty staying with the rest of our group.

“But the unexpected and unforeseen occurred. The other halted and turned about, facing me as an entire group. Their unified front overwhelmed me.

“The leader was the tallest, largest boy. He was the one who spoke to me in a threatening yell from deep in his throat. I heard him give me a direct order. Go back home and do not bother us with your presence. Get lost, go away from us. Do not stay in our train like you have. We do not want you trailing behind like you are. None of us want you as part of what we are going to do later on. You cannot be a part of what we are planning to carry out and accomplish. It would be bad for all of us, especially for you.”

By now, Enon was shaking in his small shoes. He looked down at his bowl of porridge and continued with his narrative of what happened.

“This bully then picked up a field stone and hurled it directly at me. It hit me straight on my face, exactly beneath my right eye.

“My feeling of pain was terrifying and severe. It ranged down through my entire body. I could not cope with the hurt, so I turned about and ran off. My head shook and quivered with tortured feeling. Somehow, I managed to run home and my governess took over, caring for and comforting me. But I yelled and wept an extremely long time.

“My aunt was so alarmed about me as my face bled and bled that she summoned the family doctor to come at once. My condition did not correct itself by itself.

“I could not stop crying and screaming for a considerable period of time.

“Why was it that my brain hid this traumatic crisis from my active memory? For decades, it was absent from my recollection until the nightmare that I experienced last night. None of this makes any sense to me, Reia.”

He searched her stolid face for any sign of understanding. She gave him no sign of anything he was able to define. She appeared unable to decide how to judge and evaluate what she had just heard.

Enon returned to eating his breakfast, but still heard not a word from the woman he lived with.

Her mind was entangled in a web of emergent thoughts, and this was what prevented her from giving any diagnosis of what she had just learned from him.

Enon realized that he would only receive some answer to his unexpected nightmare when she finally reached a definite conclusion about its possible meaning. For the present, neither of them could understand what was happening to his mind.

II.

Enon and Reia took a walk through the small public park near their apartment flat in the late afternoon. Both of them were gravely worried by the direction in which his recovered memories were taking his thoughts and emotions.

“I am shocked and embarrassed by what is arising concerning what was happening back then, in my childhood years prior to the loss of both of my parents.”

He frowned as a haggard, desperate look took control of his facial contours.
My
“You must believe me, Reia, when I tell you that I had somehow forced myself to forget the way that my father tried to discipline me by frequent use of physical punishment.

“But now it is returning with clarity, as if my conscious mind had been for years suppressing all memory of his violence toward me.

“Yes, today I am compelled to admit the truth of his brutality toward me, his one and only child. It was not a pleasant experience to be son to such a cruel, heartless father. My mother was unable to do anything at all to curb his outbursts in my direction.

“He crossed far beyond using only his bare hands on me. His common weapon of assault was his thick, wide personal belt of stiff leather. It was a bringer of pain that I made myself bury and forget after the tragic deaths of my two parents. I had to hide the actual events back then and expel them from out of my recoverable mental life. It became impossible for me to recall or recognize the crimes that were committed upon my boyhood years by the man who claimed the rights and authority of fatherhood.”

Tears erupted in the caramel-colored eyes of Enon as his mind focused upon what his parent had dared to do to him before he died.

Reia reached out her right hand, placing it upon his upper arm in a sign of silent sympathy. She found it impossible to voice anything adequate to the immediate situation the two of them had entered upon.

It was Enon who said after a long moment of confusion “Let’s go back to the apartment.”

Both of them rose and walked away together. Neither said anything.

For many hours filled with troubled thought and internal debate, Reia was uncertain what was best for her to try to do in order to aid Enon out of the trap in which his memory appeared to be captured.

What can I accomplish by myself to help him escape these poisonous memories concerning the brute that his father had been to him?

It was I who released these horrid remembrances from out of his childhood years. It was I who removed the veil of merciful oblivion in which he managed to survive and maintain a minimal amount of mental balance.

But now I am the person who threw Enon back into a forgotten hell that his father’s accidental death had put a kind of end to. That protective screen of amnesia had disappeared. Torturing memories had been freed and could now make their painful return into his consciousness.

How will he ever be able to escape from his past of extreme agony? Reia pondered and attempted to foresee.

Finally, she realized that she would need advice, and it was possible to come from her mentor, Dean Kaaro Riven at the University.

III.


How best to present the unanticipated result of the treatment she had provided to the person closest to herself? she asked without end that night, into the following morning.

Reia left the apartment early, before Enon headed for the Memory Institute for his work under Dr. Salem Silad. She entered the office of Dean Riven without speaking to his secretary in the anteroom, ignoring any pretense of official formality or custom.

Kaaro Riven looked up from his desk in surprise. “What is it?” he asked with surprise, uncertain what the meaning of her entrance on her own might be.

“Something has come up, sir, on which I need your counsel and advice,” she succeeded in uttering with a measure of confusion and disorientation. “The matter is highly important to me, and I believe that you would wish to hear what I have been involved with on my own.”

“Sit down and tell me, then,” he told her with briskness.

As soon as she seated herself, the story rolled out of her mouth.

“A friend of mine and I have been carrying out some concealed experimentation on our own. It is an unusual combination of mesmeric suggestion and brainwave modulation. The aim is to restore lost, hidden memories that have been buried in the subconscious region of the mind.

“We illegally made use of facilities of the Mental Medicine Wing of this institution. Our work had to be done late at night, when there was no one about to find out the nature of our unauthorized project.”

She became silent, gazing at the face of Riven for some sign of reaction to what she had just revealed to him. But he appeared as stolid as a rock, his mind far off at an unfathomable distance.

I have to go on and describe the unforeseen results of what we did, Reia decided.

“The memories of his childhood flood into the present mental circumstance of my close friend,” she murmured with evident sadness and regret. “He recalls an unending series of beatings given to him by his father. They only stopped with the early death and loss of both parents in a highway accident.

“Through my treatment of his mind, though, all of the senseless punishment and unjustified pain has come back to consciousness with full impact and power.

“It is as if his father had returned and started torturing him once again. That is how awful his situation now is. And I know not what can be done for him after having resurrected what was lying dormant within his shadowy unconscious memory.”

Kaaro Riven looked at her with concentrated, unconcealed sympathy.

“You must never forget that memory can act as a two-edged sword, with two contradictory characters to it. There can be destructive, poisonous remembrances, as well as those that bring us fulfillment and happiness. But it is difficult for an individual to distinguish the one type from the other.

“The mind must come to know when forgetting becomes a healthy path to avoiding some of the most deleterious aspects of conscious life. If one loses the capacity for purposeful oblivion, the mind can possibly turn against itself, plagued by a very harmful memory of the ills suffered back there in the past.”

The Dean halted a moment, deciding how to say what was rising up within his mind.

“What I fear has happened to your friend is what has been termed hypermnesia.

“That is the condition of possessing total recall, a dangerous over-supply of memories, to the point of one’s mind drowning in a sea of unlimited remembrance.”

“Is that possible?” asked Reia with desperation and alarm. “Can it be happening in this particular case and situation?”

The Dean frowned ominously. “I fear that is what the two of you brought about in this experiment of yours. But it is not yet possible for me to be definite about the situation facing this friend of yours.

“I myself have not examined or questioned the person involved, so all I have to go by is what you yourself have said, Reia.”

“His name is Enon Gareb, and he is employed as a therapeutic assistant at the Memory Institute. That is where the two of us met and came to know each other,” confessed the woman who was asking for his advice.

“I need an amount of time to think about all that you have said to me today,” he decided. “Please try to be patient. I promise that I will do everything possible to help you solve the riddle of this man’s apparent hypermnesia.”

Reia replied with a nod of her head, accepting the need to wait and find out what the Dean might after a brief time tell her to do about Enon and his new memory difficulty.

IV.

There is one particular individual I must consult on the subject of a possible case of hypermnesia, concluded Kaaro late that evening, after several hours of concentrated thought and internal debate.

Yes, I will seek out my friend from our years working together as young interns in psychiatric practice. I must ask Salem Silad to assist me in determining what can be done to treat the person described to me by Reia Terah.

The Dean looked up the phone-net number of Salem at his apartment near the Memory Institute and made a late-hour call there.

“Salem, how are you? This is your old buddy, Kaaro. Yes, I am still busy at the Medical Mental Center. It keeps me working almost day and night.

“I happened to come across a peculiar case that might be up your avenue. You are at the Memory Institute at present? This problem I am interested in has to do with a disorder of an individual’s memory and how it seems to be functioning.

“Do you think we could meet and I could explain what I have found out so far? Yes, it can be at your office at the Institute. You can set the hour and I will make the effort to get there at the right time.

“Tomorrow, late in the afternoon? Yes, that would be fine with me.

“Until then, old pal. I can hardly wait to see you after so long. Till we meet, then. Good-bye, for now.”

Kaaro Riven was not familiar with the lay-out of the Memory Institute’s building, never having much reason or motive to make a visit there until now.

He possessed a vague sense that research and treatment tended to be best when not limited or controlled by artificial, limiting names or titles.

A few questions about the main, front entrance lead him to the office that he was seeking.

It is fortunate that my friend is here awaiting me, realized the visitor as he was called into the small room once he had knocked on the door. The two shook hands, greeted each other, asked about the other man’s health, and then sat down across the therapist’s desk from the other.

“I believe that I have come upon a case of hypermnesia,” began Kaaro. “Let me explain how I have learned what I know about the person suffering this condition.”

It took the Dean considerable time to explain the case he was focusing upon, much longer than he had anticipated while preparing what he was going to say.

Salem Silad grew increasingly fascinated by what he was hearing from his fellow-psychiatrist. Every word seemed to ring a bell of remembrance in his mind. There were familiar echoes in what was being presented to him.

When Kaaro had finished, he looked at Salem with hopeful expectation. What was the one who had listened going to say to him in reply?

“This is very interesting material, I would call it intriguing in all aspects,” he muttered. “It sounds like something that could have happened right here at the Memory Institute.”

“The early part of it probably did,” declared the visitor. “The patient involved was a person employed here who took part in an unauthorized, irregular experimental test.”

Salem perked up with sudden excited interest and curiosity. “You must reveal to me the identity of this individual. It is important that I know who it is that you and I are talking about, my friend.”

He gazed at Kaaro with visible emotion, demanding the name of the person upon whom Reia had experimented with EEG electro-waves.

The Dean arrived at a decision to share what he knew.

“Enon Gareb,” he muttered with caution. “He is the one who participated in her secret project at my department.”

Kaaro was startled at what he then saw: Salem was smiling at him aa if he had just heard something humorous.

“Yes, I know that man well, for he is working as my assistant at present. I can understand why he has taken off time due to health problems. His treatments with brainwave alterations probably caused him exhaustion and weakness, at least for a short time.

“Yes, a lot about him now makes sense to me.”

“Do you, then, intend to take any actions with him?” asked Kaaro.

“I think I will talk over his experiences with him. At least for now, that is all that I may do,” grinned the lanky psychiatrist of the Memory Institute.

“Call me if you have any more questions you want me to answer,” said the visitor, rising to his feet and making a rapid exit.

V.

Reia, having thought long and deeply about the problem of surplus, excessive memories that Enon faced, realized that a solution would have to depend on his emotional and intellectual stability.

She attempted to buoy up his hope and attitude by relating to him how she proposed to attack the hypermnesia that plagued his life since their experimental therapy that combined hypnotism and brainwave modification.

“I have come to a firm conclusion about what direction will be the best for us to take,” she announced to him as the two finished dinner in a restaurant near the apartment they shared.

“What is it that you believe can relieve what I am suffering from all these thoughts about my life in the early years?” he asked her with desperation in his voice.

Reia tried to smile as she answered in a soft, melodic tone.

“Only a search for some unforeseeable means can help us. We will have to go on with variations in both mesmeric and electronic means till we discover the right combination of elements, of both kinds.

“Doesn’t that idea make sense to you? The answer lies somewhere along the path of further research and experimentation. How else can we advance toward a resolution of the trap the two of us appear to have fallen in?”

Enon did not say anything in reply for a period, for he was engaged in difficult, contradictory thoughts. But, at last, he decided what he was willing to accept from all she had offered him.

“Very well,” he murmured, “we seem to have no better alternative to proceeding forward with more testing of different variations of both of the methods.

“But if and when I see total failure and the dashing of all practical hopes of success, I will tell you, Reia.

“That will mean the end of any further work by us. I will then have to accept and live with our failure in solving my memory questions and problems.”

The pair looked at each other, both understanding the seriousness of what they would be engaged in from then on.

Salem Silad, after hours of thought on the matter, arrived at the conclusion that he had to have an open talk with Enon about all that he had found out from Dean Kaaro Riven about the unsuccessful experimental therapy.

As soon as his assistant was in the psychiatrist’s office, Salem asked him to be seated and asked him a sensitive question.

“I have been told that you have suffered problems with your memories of your childhood and have attempted to overcome them with a new type of therapy that brings together different methods.”

He eyed his assistant with a stare from his onyx black eyes, impressing the young man with the seriousness of the situation.

“How did you learn about this?” asked the one being questioned. “Did someone reveal the details of what it was that I was involved with?”

Salem, surprised by this vehement reaction, waited several moments before making any response to the nervous reaction of his helper.

“I found out about how you were involved with Dr. Reia Terah in seeking a new avenue of treatment when I was asked by an old friend of mine to give him an opinion on the efficacy of these two combined methods in a case of hypermnesia, the diagnosis that has been made on your own mental condition.

“I answered that it would only be possible for me to characterize or analyze your situation if I first conversed with you on a personal basis. That is the reason I have started to question you, Enon. I wish to make a realistic, accurate evaluation. That is the only way that I can understand sufficiently to reach a reasonable judgment on the matter.”

Enon, his fear and uneasiness subsiding, began to answer what his boss had asked him to describe.

“Yes, I agreed to undergo a system of therapy devised by Dr. Terah herself: a combination of mesmeric suggestion with brainwave intervention and modification. This was aimed at overcoming my loss of childhood memory after the loss of both my parents in a battery-car highway accident.

“The hopes of both of us were sky-high, and at first it appeared that the therapy was a spectacular success. Scores and scores of remembrances reappeared within my consciousness. They come in a great flood that grew and grew. There was no discernible end to them. I was overwhelmed by their volume.”

Salem gazed with sympathy at his assistant, speaking in a slow, carefully modulated voice. “It is tragic, what has occurred with this experiment. I wish that I know how to help you, but I do not yet know how.

“Your condition is a total mystery to me.

“You must allow me to examine the literature on hypermnesia. I hope that I can find some solution to what has befallen you with this new form of treatment that combines different methods into one.

“We shall have to work together on healing your mind from what has happened to it.”

Enon had a difficult time telling Reia what had happened at the Memory Institute that day.

He waited until both of them were seated in their favorite restaurant and ordered their evening meals, then began to explain as they waited for their server to bring them their hummingbird soups and egg roasts.

“Something highly unexpected happened at the Institute today, my dear,” he told her with a shining smile on his face. “Dr. Silad had a surprising talk with me. He has learned about my condition and the pioneering attempt that we tried out in order to open up a new type of therapy.

“He informed me that he knows of no cure or treatment for what I now suffer: my heavy load of unlimited memory that the profession terms hypermnesia.

“Although he said that he plans to consult all the recent literature on this subject, his attitude seemed very pessimistic and hopeless to me. I left him doubting that he will come up with any practical remedy for what has struck me down so hard.

“What am I going to do, Reia?” he asked her with evident desperation on his face.

At that moment, their server appeared with a tray that held their avian orders.

“I hope that you enjoy your orders,” he merrily chirped, “our hummingbirds are really delicious this spring, all our customers are raving about how they taste.”

VI.

Enon left early for his work at the Institute, and Reia was carrying out a few cleaning and ordering chores in the apartment when the front door chimes sounded their familiar notes. She rushed to find out who was there and what their business might be. Opening the door, the person standing there produced an unforeseeable surprise in her.

“Dr. Silad!” she gulped in shook. :It is so good to see you, but why have you come? As you know, I have been fired and expelled from the place where you practice. I am not considered acceptable or respectable by those who are the judges and decision-makers ruling our psychiatric profession.”

Salem attempted a weak, vague smile. “There is an important matter I wish to discuss with you, Reia. It cannot wait. We have to talk about the subject at once.”

“Come in and sit down,” she replied. “I am free at the present moment.”

“Why don’t you and I visit that little cocoa shop that I noticed at the nearest corner? We could both have a morning cup and have a private conversation there.”

“Yes, a very good idea,” she told him with a grin.

Reia fetched a light spring jacket from a hallway closet and stepped out of the flat, locking the front door with her keycard, and accompanying Salem to the place that he had selected for their exchange.

Once the two were seated at a back booth and both of them had ordered cocoa latte, he began to explain why he was there to talk with her.

“I am an old friend of Dean Kaaro Riven and he has disclosed to me what has happened to my assistant, Enon Gareb. He has a very rare negative condition that is usually described as hypermnesia in our profession.

“He has no mechanism by which to filter or select memories out of the past. They tumble into his conscious mind helter-skelter, without logic or reason. He cannot organize or regulate all these mental impressions that strike his thought. Nothing that has happened to him is a mystery or a secret anymore. The entire past he has lived is present or potentially present to him.

“Am I correct, Reya?” he asked her.

She nodded yes. “And do you know what may have caused this to happen to him?”

“I was informed by my friend that you carried out an unprecedented kind of experimental treatment upon him. That it combined standard hypnosis with EEG stimulation of brainwaves, testing out the different effects of each type of frequency passing into his mind.”

Reia suddenly looked down at her small cup of whitish cocoa.

“My expectations of successful results were obviously too high and optimistic,” she muttered with despair. “It was a colossal disappointment to me and to Enon when this hypermnesia came about, because it followed our victory over his long loss of most childhood memories.

“We rejoiced too early, it is now clear. The present overflow of minor, random remembrances of no value or importance has embarrassed and overwhelmed both Enon and me. Neither of us has any solution to the disaster that has occurred. We are lost in ignorance and incapacity to cope with the new difficulties.”

She gazed at Salem Silad with a pleading facial expression.

“But you must not sink down into abject surrender to failure, Reia,” suddenly said the man from the Memory Institute. “I have thought of a possible new direction for the experimentation that you and Enon undertook with initiate success that spoiled and disappeared.”

“What do you mean?” she asked him.

“I have imagined a way of varying the EEG stimulation that was used before. Why not try to adjust to different regions and sections of the brain? Why not use a variety of varying frequencies and attempt to suit them to the measured situation within each part of the human brain?”

Reia grew, all of a sudden, excited. “But how could that be done?”

Salem smiled. “There are new quantum computer devices that can be calibrated to variations in a multitude of scattered sites in the brain. That can produce what we can call a program that micro-manages the EEG waves transmitted into the head of an experimental patient. The amount of charge can be minutely tailored and adjusted to the tiniest possible degree or measurement.

“A complex quantum computer can handle an almost unlimited number of readings and quantities. That could provide a method of restoring judgement and logic to the processes of mental restoration in terms of memory use.

“Is there any better candidate for correcting the results of the earlier transmissions sent into the brain areas of Enon?”

He peered at her face with determination and strength in his onyx black eyes.

“I am willing to try anything that has the smallest degree of promise to it,” she uttered. “But where can I ever get an advanced quantum computer to work with?”

“We have such new equipment at the Memory Institute, and I will see to it that you and Enon have access to it,” he revealed to her. “It may have to be carried out behind the scenes and in secret, though.”

Reia for several seconds appeared confused and unable to make a definite, positive response to the plan of Dr. Silad.

“I have to remind you that I was dismissed from the Memory Institute for carrying out unauthorized experimental therapy. The charge was that my activities there carried the risk of harming patients with unforeseen ills and problems. It was considered a major offense and I received firing as the fitting punishment.”

Salem suddenly frowned. “Yes, I can foresee that there would be serious objections to having you return, even on a single project like this.

“Perhaps it will be best if you stay out of the Institute building and only act as a remote manager and advisor of the program.

“I myself will be willing to act as the person doing the actual work on the spot. Surely, I am experienced enough with EEG technology to carry out the brainwave modulations and variations called for through quantum computer programming and designing.” He focused his onyx eyes directly at her face.

“Yes, that is probably the best way to proceed and operate the research involved. I will explain all of this to Enon later today, when we are both home.”

“I too shall talk with him at work after that,” added Dr. Silad in a strong, confident voice.

Enon and Reia found themselves thinking in melodious harmony about accepting the plan devised by the individual they both trusted, Salem Silad.

A bright optimism took over the expression on the face of the one afflicted with unlimited, uncontrolled remembering.

“Yes, I can understand what he hopes to achieve using such a radically innovative modulator of each fraction of brainwave being created in me. That will permit a complete rebalancing of the electro-magnetic currents flowing through the separate sections of my mind and brain. It will be an ingenious contribution to the shelf of alternative therapies in today’s psychiatric armory of weapons.

“But will it actually work? That is the rub of the matter, Reia, isn’t it?”

“We must keep our faith in the possibility of correcting the terrible mistake that has been made for you,” she said with pain in her voice. “I refuse to give up hope in your total recovery from what you have suffered, my love.”

The two looked at each other in tender silence for a considerable length of time.

VII.

Salem Silad recognized that he had to convince Enon that it was worth his while to participate as the central figure in the speculative project that lay ahead of them in making use of a quantum computer in brainwave modification.

He invited his assistant to sit down in his office and listen to and absorb the principle ideas that lay behind the bold venture that he had in mind.

“I have, for some time, been studying and contemplating the application of the speedy, complex system of quantum physics to psychiatric therapy,” he began with a pacifying grin. “The central idea behind it all is that subatomic particles can exist in more than one state at any one time. In a sense, that is similar to what often occurs within the human mind,” Salem said with a laugh.

“As a result of this unusual situation, a quantum particle can store more information than the one or zero of a simple electronic computer. There can exist superpositions beyond merely one or zero. These are its qubits.

“A qubit becomes like an imaginary sphere that can hold an endless number of varying value, not just two. These can lie anywhere on the newly created sphere. It is a flexible, many-sided way of storing digital information.

“Many different levels of energy can be applied to each qubit, and these are called qudits. A single qudit can manipulate the interactions between a multitude of qubits. Many different levels of computer operation thus become possible, multiplying the capacity of such an instrument to incredible volumes.

“These qudits become the logic gates for colossal multitudes of single qubits.”

Salem paused to catch his breath, then went on to his conclusion.

“With such dimensions of operation, the quantum computer will be able to measure and chart five hundred or more separate neural points within your brain. It will be monitor individual neurons and their dendrites. The production of brainwaves within your brain can be followed in almost complete detail. The accuracy comes close to becoming infinite with such a system of being recorded and preserved.

“I will know exactly what occurs when you enter into mesmeric trance and reshape your conscious and unconscious memory. This will give an incalculable advantage that did not exist during the first attempt to revive your lost memories. My hope and belief is that the treatment with the quantum computer will put an end to the hypermnesia that you now suffer from. It promises us incredible hope of success in dealing with memory traces in the brain.”

Enon stared at his superior with a newly inspired confidence. “I hope that you are right,” was the extent of what he thought appropriate to say to Dr. Silad.

Azot Lotan knew the value of possessing good information about what was happening about the Memory Institute.

From his earliest days on the job, he had cultivated his relationships with the lower, ordinary employees working there.

He made a point of always greeting and talking with those who served outside the ranks of the psychiatrists and therapists. This paid off in allowing him to anticipate what his medical colleagues might be up to or what they were planning to start doing.

It was an Institute nurse who informed Azot about the activity of Dr. Salem Silap with the new, advanced-model quantum computer that had recently been purchased and added to the inventory of available equipment.

He decided to attempt questioning Salem about what he intended to do with the power and capabilities of the subatomic mode instrument. That might give him some information that he could exploit for his own purposes.

Azot Lotan was able to locate his target sitting alone in the staff dining hall, which permitted him to take a chair across from his colleague at the same table.

“Hello, Salem. How are you? It has been a while since I’ve had time with you, isn’t it? You seem to be looking well. I take it that things are moving along fairly well for you. Am I correct?”

Silad looked at him with a visible grin. “I have no complaints, my friend. None at all. My case load progresses with surprising speed and success.”

“That is very good to hear, Salem. You happen to be a jewel of our staff, I have consistently held. All of us are deeply proud of you and your achievements. No one in the Institute compares with you in terms of mesmeric capability. There is no question that you happen to be our champion innovator in every sense of the word.”

Azot gazed at the hypnotist with intense admiration.

The other man smiled. “I am still at sea over how I am going to proceed in treatment of the hypermnesia. It is not too common a malfunction of the memory. It is rare that any of us has to cope with an actual case, and I have not found any useful advice in the existing literature.

“So what do you think I should do, Azot? How would you yourself deal with such a patient if you received such an assignment?”

The visitor sensed that he was succeeding. “I would try to combine the mesmeric method of treatment with something more advanced in terms of EEG transmissions, such as quantum computer management of brainwave distribution into the patient’s brain regions and sectors.

“That is very experimental, I must admit. But I believe that it holds the greatest promise, if carried out efficiently.”

Azot stared at the face of Salem, looking for some sign of reaction to what he had said.

“Yes,” nodded the other therapist, “I have been thinking that way as well.”

“You are going to be at the center of a very important undertaking,” murmured the one making a visit to his colleague. “I wish good fortune and a successful outcome to you, and especially to the patient who will be the center of your project, Salem.”

With a smile, Azot Lozan excused himself and left.

VIII.

The time for the initial phase of the experiment had arrived.

Enon was the one who supervised the setting up of the EEG mechanism that was going to be used upon himself.

A vacant room was chosen on the ground floor of the Memory Institute for the location of the project. A comfortable, well-cushioned test bed was found and brought to the site. On a specially arranged table were placed a number of emergency first aid and medical objects and substances that would be available should there occur anything unexpected or dangerous to the patient at the center of all the activity.

It would be Salem and Reia who would be in charge of the course of the electro-magnetic transmission to the brain to be worked upon.

Everyone directly involved grew increasingly nervous as the time for starting the experiment came nearer the designated morning.

The first participants to be present on the spot turned out to be Enon and Reia. They had entered the building inconspicuously, through a back delivery door they expected to be unlocked during the day as supplies arrived from the outside.

I have to maintain courage and a positive attitude about all of this, he said to himself over and over as he waited for the professional psychiatrist’s arrival. It should be a lot easier than anyone now supposes or imagines, he told himself. None of us who are involved can afford to have any doubts about how this will all turn out.

Spirit is everything in such an enterprise as this one, Enon advised himself.

Reia, in an expectant mood, spoke to him as if to keep up the courage of both of them.

“We shall be attempting a dangerous experiment, Enon,” she told him in a hushed voice. “The action we are planning to take will go to the center of memory, the nerves and dendrites that are the site of the mind’s remembering.

“I have been thinking about what this will mean in terms of delving into your brain. It will be an intimate kind of intervention into the core of your being, to the center of who you are, to the nucleus of your identity.

“How could a person know themselves at all if they lacked the factor of remembering? Previous life exists in something like a secondary, mirror-like inner world that reflects the external, outside world of life in society and reality.

“I compare it to a scene of double existence, one being objective and the second subjective.

“Are we actually double beings, Enon? One half of us in the real world, while the second one created by the mind’s imagination? Is that it? Is that situation of duality the cause of what sometimes occurs to trouble the minds of some individuals?

“I wonder and worry about that fundamental division inside our minds: between the inside and the outside realms. Is that the primary distinguishing marker of human nature? Is that what makes it so hard for us to understand ourselves?

“It may be that your hypermnesia results from a gap between your hidden imagination and your conscious remembrances, a kind of problem of their synchronicity. There could be a lack of harmony or connection between the objective and the subjective components of the memory function of your mind.

“Previously, the two portions could not remember your childhood years. They had been disconcerted and separated by the tragic deaths of your mother and father.

“But after your first recovery of memory, your imagination grew wildly uncontrolled. It was then unable to limit or manage your multiplied power to remember.

“I suspect that I am not yet completely convinced of what I theorize about the mind, Enon. Perhaps I am trying to explain too much with these ideas of mine.”

It was precisely at that point that the door to the room opened and Salem walked in, interrupting the abstract generalizations of Reia.

“Hello, Enon. Hello, Reia,” said the breathless psychiatrist who was an expert, experienced mesmerist. “Are we ready to begin? First of all, Reia and I shall wire you up under the EEG transmission cap. That will not take us very long. Then, we shall start to send current waves into your brain, Enon.”

“Let’s get to work, then” he smiled to the other two.

This is probably the day that Salem takes positive action, Azot Lotan told himself as soon as he reached his office early that morning.

I must keep close watch on his movements in order to detect what he is about. His exact location in the building must be constantly monitored and learned.

It was easy for him to find reasons to leave his own office and pass up and down the main corridor in order to walk past the office of his quarry. Will he leave for another interior destination at any precise time? wondered the one on the watch. He feared that the one he wished to follow might slip out without his own knowledge. That must not be permitted to occur, not at all.

Chance and fortune turned out to be on his side, he discovered.

Azot happened to be opening his own office door in order to make a rapid exit and step out for a trip to the nearby restroom facility when he spotted the figure going past. Yes, it was Dr. Salem Silad, that was for certain.

It seemed wise to wait a few seconds before making his own exit from the office he occupied. When it was sure to be safe, Azot slipped out into the corridor.

Glancing in the direction in which Salem had been headed, he managed to catch sight of a distant door closing shut.

That had to be his target entering a consultation-treatment room where he planned to carry out an unknown, unacceptable therapeutic experiment in cooperation with the expelled Reia Terah.

That is where I shall now go in order to corner these rule-breakers, decided the watcher with an evil smirk on his face.

IX.

Salem and Reia had placed the electro-magnetic cap on the head of Enon and had connected it to the transmission-monitoring apparatuses that would control and calibrate the EEG brainwaves that were soon to be traveling through the brain of the object of the programmed treatment.

Salem began to tune and adjust the dials on the main board on a small managing table.

The two psychiatrists in charge looked to the entrance in surprise when the door suddenly flew open.

The robust figure of Azot Lotan rushed into the room almost in a run, slamming the door shut with a loud noise.

His turquoise eyes flashed with an almost feral passion as they focused on first Salem, then Reia, and finally Enon. The latter looked at the intruder as if frozen into terror.

“What are you people doing to him?” demanded Azot in a furious, crazed tone. “This is a criminal procedure that the two of you are attempting to administer to this sick man. How dare you use him as your guinea pig this way. I am going to report this illegal experimentation to the Director, then to the medical and health authorities of Zaxia City.

“The two of you are going to be thrown out of your profession and banned from any further psychiatric practice for life.”

Azot glared with brazen hatred at the man and the woman in charge of the experiment that had not yet begun to go into operation.

He started to step forward in the direction of Reia, glowering at her with evident hostility and disdain. “What are you doing in here, you witch? The Director has fired, expelled, and banned you from the premises of the Institute, yet you crawl back here to perform your ugly operations on the helpless and innocent.

“Why doesn’t someone pull out your hair and drive you away?” Azot growled like some Zaxian monster out of our country folklore?”

As the psychiatrist stepped slowly forward toward her, an attempt to defend Reia came from a totally unexpected source.

Enon, sitting in the experimental chair with the electro-magnetic cap on his head, suddenly leaped up on his feet and hurled himself forward toward the aggressor and his intended target.

The cap he wore fell off his head without effort or notice of any sort. He continued his advance so quickly that no one else sensed what was happening or what he might be intending to accomplish.

The young man who had volunteered for the planned experiment raised both arms and struck Azot with a hard blow to the throat before the latter could react or defend himself.

Azot hit him a second, then a third time.

Reia and Salem watched in awed shock as if paralyzed by fear and surprise.

The blows from Enon continued until Azot finally fell down upon the floor.

The frenzied fighter turned to his two comrades and spoke to them.

“I think we should now continue with what we were doing, go on with our experimental therapy at once,” he declared with a strange grimace on his face.

_

Before the trio returned to their experimentation, the comatose body of Dr. Azot Lotan was taken to the first-aid station of the Memory Institute by a pair of husky male nurses summoned from the upper floor.

Nothing was told the bearers about what had happened to the unconscious psychiatrist or what had been going on in the room with the accumulated equipment visible in it.

Enon took his position in the special chair and was once again connected to the EEG apparatus with the special cap fitted upon his head.

The patient under treatment tried to calm down his two scientific partners with reassuring words about his own mental circumstance.

“Don’t be concerned or worried about me,” he told the pair. “I am well enough to go on with the program. We must take the opportunity to make this important test of dealing with my hypermnesia with this combined method.”

Reia took a position in front of him and soon had her lover in mesmeric trance, while Salem took charge of the regulation of the electro-magnetic transmission entering the brain of Enon through the specially constructed cap with its five hundred separate points of managed input.

The testing took less time than any of the trio had anticipated.

Positive results were noticed as soon as the procedure was finished.

“I think we have a successful breakthrough in this,” said Enon with unexpected joy. “My mind seems to be operating without the great surplus of memories from which I was previously suffering.”

X.

As soon as Azot awakened in a bed of the first-aid station, the Director of the Institute spoke to him.

“I have decided to fire you,” he announced. “We cannot permit the use of physical force by you or anyone else connected with us.

“You have revealed yourself as a dangerous person, Azot. Do not try to return here, or else the police will have to be summoned to remove and arrest you.”

Ithai Adeb abruptly turned about and exited, walking back to his office.

The three involved in the concealed experiment sat waiting for him in front of his magnesium-steel desk.

The Director took his chair and addressed those who had waited there for his return.

“I believe that Dr. Lotan will not dare to come back in the future. My hope is that we will be rid of him completely.

“I must make my own apology to all of you for having listened to and trusted this man the way that I did. That led me to make very serious mistakes about what was being done in these experiments and tests. But my judgment has now been corrected about this important subject involving the hypermnesia of Enon.”

The Director looked at the latter with a guilty look.

“You are sure about your recovery, my good man?”

“I know that my memory is now on the road to recovery and correction. It should be operating in the normal way from now on, I am certain.”

The head of the Memory Institute turned to Reia and asked her whether she accepted that conclusion.

“As far as I can judge, there has been a nearly miraculous return of balance to the operation of Enon’s memory system. I believe we now have a successful therapy that deals successfully with that specific mental condition.

“There will have to be a lot more testing of this new method, of course. But I am optimistic about what can be done with what we have put together to treat Enon.”

Ithai Adeb then turned to Salem and asked him what he thought of what had been done to Enon.

“Yes, I agree,” he answered. “We have astonishing results to announce from what was carried out to treat this patient. It appears to have been a major victory on our part.”

Reia attempted to describe her new perspective on the nature of human memory and how it can go astray into malfunctioning.

“I have come to see two spheres of remembering within our minds.

“Memory is like a creative act that combines the external, real world with another realm that is internal, subjective, and tied to the imagination and its operations.

“This inner mind is an atemporal, nonlinear, kingdom rooted in the unconscious, but an important element of our memories.

“The mind can fall into amnesia and lack of memories, but also into an unregulated, uncontrolled super-memory without any limits.

“Enon suffered both difficulties, one after the other. But I believe he will now be free and be able to avoid both extreme.”

“I certainly hope I am finally free of both problems,” grinned her newly happy lover.

The End

The Grobnik

21 Feb

Traiche Stefanov was born and grew up in northwestern Macedonia early in the nineteenth century. His parents were members of the Shoppe village of Zidilovo on Osogovo Mountain, near the town of Kriva Palanka. He lost both parents when only a boy and joined an itinerant gang of wandering farm workers.

Traiche became an assistant to a roaming man who claimed to be a vampirdzija who was able to rid communities of evil, murderous supernatural monsters by identifying their human identities. In time, he started to wander about eastern Macedonia as an independent vampire-hunter.

His reputation in this arcane craft grew and spread, until word came to him from other itinerants that there was an enormous problem across the Vardar River in the western town of Bitola, the Ottoman capital of a large province.

I will head there and offer my developed services, decided the young enemy of dangerous vampiric killers.

Bitola lay on the Pelagonian plain. To the south, it was bordered by mountains named Pelister, Nidza, Kajmakalan, and Baba. A Turkish governor and a Greek bishop operated from the growing commercial center that was called Manastir in Greek, due to the number of monasteries of the area.

How was the stranger from the east going to get is bearings in this region so new to him?

He rented a room in a hotel-han for travelers and began to frequent nearby taverns, hunting for information concerning the vampire threat.

One of the first things he learned was that the term used for such monstrous beings was that of “grobnik”, based on the word for a grave or tomb, the “grob”.

“They are buried, but not yet fully dead,” explained one tradesman of Bitola to the Osogovo Shoppe. “In the night, they go about in the shadowy dark and carry out evil deeds such as murder, especially of defenseless women and children.” The merchant lowered his voice. “I have heard that several villagers have been killed on the village of Bukovo, but no one from there is willing to talk to outsiders about the evil that threatens all of them.” The fat man talking to Traiche gave a slight wink of the eye. “It seems that the inhabitants of Bukovo are determined to keep silent about the strange deaths that have happened late in the night in their village. It is one of the largest communities in the Bitola region, with about five thousand people living there. It contains a monastery where, I understand, the monks keep busy copying old books and manuscripts.”

Traiche smiled, because this had to be the village he had heard about back in eastern Macedonia.

The vampirdzija walked the short distance to Bukovo in the bright morning light shortly after the clear spring dawn. He realized that he had to find a local authority who was able to inform him about the sudden deaths that Bukovo had suffered. He planned to offer his knowledge and experience to the goal of ridding the place of the murderous fiend responsible for the crimes.

Traiche slowly distanced himself from the high Clock Tower, the most visible sign and symbol of central Bitola.

As he entered Bukovo at last, his eyes caught a tall, straggly figure moving toward him along the unpaved central street of the village. The man, wearing a dark fur cap, waved at the stranger and spoke.

“Good morning, my friend. Can I help you in any way? I take it that you are not of Bukovo and are making a visit to our beloved village,” he said in a melodious, pleasant tone.

Traiche returned the tall man’s smile. “Yes, I have traveled a long distance because I think there is important business waiting for me in this beautiful community of yours. But I must look for your highest elder or official. Is there a bashkan or kodjabashia in charge of public matters here in Bukovo?”

The stranger turned serious. “You must be thinking of my own father, who serves as high elder of our community. My name is Kosta, but I am called Kotse for short.

“My father is Dejan Todev, and he is the mayor of our village of Bukovo.

“If you aim to meet and talk with him, I believe you will find him at his favorite inn at this early hour. He usually has a breakfast there before going about his daily tasks as elder.

“I will show you where it is, if you wish.”

“Thank you,” replied Traiche. “I will be indebted to you for doing so, my friend.”

The inn was a large and comfortable institution, a gathering place for the male elite of Bukovo.

Kotse introduced his father, sitting alone at a long oaken table, to the outsider he had just met. Traiche gave his name and Dejan Todev invited him to sit down and talk.

“Do you have some sort of business matter that brings you to Bukovo?” imquired the mayor without fanfare or idle talk. “Perhaps I can be of assistance to you.”

If this large, brawny local authority is so direct and serious, so shall I, decided the traveler who had come so far with a mission in mind.

“I come from the region of Kriva Palanka to the east, as you can tell by how I speak. Rumors reached my ears that your community may have a very great need for the knowledge I possess about an inimical force that has descended upon your village and is causing horrible tragedies here.”

The mayor looked across the round table to where his son was standing.

“I believe that you have brought me a vampirzhija, Kotse,” he said in a loud, ringing voice, his dark, bushy eyebrows in a frown. “The entire world must know by now about the assaults and killings that we have suffered. It is not a secret and cannot be kept hidden from others elsewhere.” He turned his dark brown eyes back to Traiche and leaned his large head forward toward the vampire-hunter.

“No one has found any way to protect our villagers,” muttered the mayor. “Two housewives and a young girl have already been killed during the hours of late night. No one, young or old, male or female, dares to wander about between sunset and sunrise. Every person feels fearful of possible danger. Who can have enough knowledge, strength, or skill to contend with a grobnik, as we in the countryside call such unnatural demons, neither fully dead nor alive.

“We have no remedy, because neither prayers nor weapons have been successful.”

Dejan Todev stared forcefully into the face of the itinerant vampirzhija.

“Can you do it?” he asked in almost a whisper. “Do you know how?”

“I have never been defeated in my work,” stated Traiche with confidence. “My entire mind and heart will be dedicated to complete victory over this monster and its evil spirit.

“I intend to put all my soul into ridding Bukovo of the devil who has invaded your community.”

Sensing the powerful force behind this promise, the village elder accepted the special services of the vampire-huntsman from afar.

His father commanded Kotse to show Traiche the buildings where the vampiric victims lived before they were murdered.

Two bereaved widowers took the two into their humble, modest cottages, to the rooms where their wives had once cooked meals or worked weaving and sewing.

The vampirdzhija made a careful, detailed examination of the windows and the tables and chairs that had been used by the vampire’s victims.

“This man, with wide knowledge and experience, intends to hunt down and destroy the evil-doer who took away the life of your wife,” explained Kotse twice, to each of the mourning husbands in his lonely dwelling. “He knows what to look for in order to locate the trail of Bukovo’s grobnik.”

The third home the pair visited belonged to the family of the young girl who had been attacked and killed.

The victim’s father explained that his daughter had disobeyed his order to all four of his children not to go out of their cottage after sunset.

“She did not do as I told and warned her,” said the second father. “I believe that her purpose in going outdoors was to check on the hens in our chicken-coop. Our little girl was always interested in gathering eggs for the rest of us to have for breakfast.

“Our little Marushka was an angel, I swear to you,” said the parent with a sob.

Traiche followed Kotse in silence out of the home and down the central street.

“My father mentioned that he wants you to meet and talk with the igumen of our monastery,” noted the son of the mayor. “I will take you to the large house where the monks live adjacent to the monastery church.”

Kotse took the vampire-hunter past the two rivers that flow through Bukovo, the Stara Reka and the Kindarka. The Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration lat within strong outer walls which the pair entered through the main gate.

Kotse pointed out the white-washed church building and the two-storey residence where the monks were lodged.

“I shall take you right in to the quarters of the abbot, Igumen Ognen,” said his guide to Traiche. “I am certain that he will see you at once.”

A monk in a simple black ezorasson cassock happened to be passing along the path leading to the residence structure from the monastery church.

“I have brought an important person from outside to speak to the igumen,” announced Kotse in a muffled, humble tone.

The tall man in black glanced at Traiche, then signaled with his right hand that the stranger was to follow him. “The abbot is preparing to leave his quarters. I will tell him that someone is here to speak with him.”

The monk turned around and started to walk toward the far end of the residence building. Kotse and Traiche followed behind him.

The latter two waited on the open porch while the monach went inside to inform the igumen of the presence of visitors. When he returned the monk waved the two waiting outside that they were to enter.

“The igumen is eager to converse with someone who has traveled from so far away as you,” he said directly to Traiche.

The pair walked into the room where a short, small figure sat at a table covered with books, manuscripts, and documents.

The igumen at once recognized the son of the village elder. “How is your father?” he inquired of Kotse.

“His health is still quite strong,” answered the latter. “I have asked to see you, sir, because I believe that you would like to know that a vampirzhija has arrived in Bukovo to try to protect us from the demonic monster that has already taken three precious lives from our midst.”

Igumen Ognen turned his almond eyes on the stranger, studying his face for hints or signs of his inner character.

Traiche gazed back, astounded at the smallness of every feature of the high authority figure within the monastery. Little hands and face, features and limbs. A large gilded cross lay on the igumen’s chest. A black kalimavka covered his head.

“You claim to be able to hunt down the evil stalker who comes out in the night?” the official suddenly asked the stranger.

”I have been successful in many places,” declared Traiche in a strong, confident tone. “My skills have grown and increased over the years, I believe.”

The igummen seemed to grow distant, ruminating over thoughts deep within his mind.

“As you know, our villagers call the vampire by a special name of their own. They refer to it as a grobnik who has returned from out of the ground because of not having turned completely dead. In the depths of night, it roams about and attacks the living in order to satisfy its thirst for their blood.

“So, if a hunter wishes to capture and destroy one of them, he must seek the place where they were buried in the ground, the graveyard that could not keep them under its soil.

“That is where those monsters rise up and go out to commit their evil deeds.”

Traiche sensed an uneasiness in himself. What was the abbot trying to tell him with his words? he asked himself.

All at once, Kotse began to speak.

“Do not be concerned,” he murmured, turning his face toward the vampirzhija. “I am willing to accompany you at night into the cemetery we have on the far edge of Bukovo. We can watch together for any sign of grobnik presence of any kind.”

“Inform me in case anything is discovered there,” said the igummen.

Kotse answered that he would do so, then took his leave, leading Traiche out of the abbot’s private quarters.

Dejan Todev listened to his son relate what he and the vampirdzhija had been advised concerning the problem of a grobnik about at night in Bukovo. The three men were eating a midday meal in the cottage of the village mayor.

“I do not accept the idea that a vampire returns to a kind of grave and rests there during the day,” argued Dejan. “Any large hole in the graveyard would certainly be seen and taken note of by someone. No, that is not the place to look for the grobnik, asleep in one of the graves but not fully dead. That is just an old tale told by the old women.

“The truth has to be much different from what the igumen told you it was.”

“Where is the best place to hunt for the monster, then?” demanded the mayor’s son with emotion.

Dejan turned to their guest and gave him a sly smile. “You are the one with experience with vampires, so tell us what you think is the best place to look for them if we decide that the graveyard is not where it may be hiding itself.”

Traiche could sense the curious eyes of both father and son focused upon him.

“I have learned a painful lesson: that the grobnik is not asleep during daylight, but has turned into what appears to be a normal, living person.

“The monster may be walking about and performing his daily work so that no one knows or recognizes its second name and identity at all. The grobnik portrays a human being like a kind of mask.”

For a brief while, no one said anything. It was Kotse who broke the solemn silence.

“If that is so, the grobnik could be someone we see every day here in Bukovo.”

His father extended this idea further afield.

“It might be that the Grobnik comes down to commit evil deeds from higher up on Pelister Mountain. The vampire may hide at daytime at a village such as Dihovo, Nizhepole, Trnovo, or Magarevo. It may be an inhabitant of any of those communities.”

“That may be the way by which the vampire is avoiding capture and destruction,” added Traiche from deep inside himself.

Kotse invited the vamirshzija to accompany him that evening to the village inn so they could drink and talk to each other about the grobnik problem that Bokovo faced. But once the two were outdoors in the twilight dusk, the mayor’s son made a new proposal to his companion.

“Why don’t you and I make a visit to the village graveyard. There might be something of interest there for us to see.”

Traiche was surprised at the idea, but immediately saw its logic and accepted the adventure it promised him should the vampire have any tie to the place.

“Yes,” he agreed. “We may find out something of great interest to us there.”

The cemetery of unknown, incalculable age was surrounded by leafy oak and pine trees. By the time Traiche and Kotse reached its oldest end, all light from the sun was gone and dark shadows covered and enveloped the wild, uncut grass of the burial field.

Traiche noticed that stone markers and monuments were few and scattered about. Villagers of Bukovo have mostly lacked the ability to place permanent reminders of who was buried where, he told himself.

The two men stopped and sat down on large, flat rocks marking the boundary of the graveyard. The only noticeable sound was that of crickets and small insects.

All at once, Traiche caught sight of a large shadow moving between the graves in front of him. What could it be? The vampire-hunter glanced to his right, seeing that Kotse was faced in the same direction, at the same movement.

“I recognize who that probably is,” whispered the mayor’s son. “It is a villager who is walking down from Magarevo, where his family lives.

“He comes down to drink at the inn in Bukovo, and I often see him there. His name is Marko Stojanov.”

“Why is he walking in the cemetery?” inquired Traiche with alarm.

No answer came from Kotse. Instead, he called out to the fat shape moving slowly among the graves.

“Marko! What are you doing in the Bukovo cemetery? Are you looking for something?”

The big man from Magarevo did not say anything until he was very close to the two who were looking at him through the darkness.

“I am on my way to the inn in the village,” he replied in a low, sonorous voice. “Why are you here? And who is that at your side?”

“This is a traveler from far away,” said Kotse. “He is staying with us at our house for a time. His name is Traiche.”

Marko neared closer, his eyes focused on the stranger. “We can return to the village together. I am going to spend the evening enjoying some strong drink there.”

“Go on ahead,” suggested Kotse. “We can meet there and have longer conversation with you.”

Without another word, Marko from Magarevo turned to the left and made his way out of the cemetery.

When he had disappeared, Traiche spoke in a murmur to his companion.

“You go on and meet with that fellow,” he proposed. “I plan to stay here and think for awhile before going back to your cottage in the village, Kotse.”

The latter said farewell. He understood that the viperdzija still was hoping for a sight or sign of the evil grobnik who had already killed victims.

Traiche had a lot of conflicting thoughts contending within his mind.

Had he just come across the human shape of the vampire he was after?

Why had this man Marko made his way among the graves of Bukovo?

What was he up to? wondered the vampire-hunter as he stared at the field with its scattered old gravestones.

There was an undefinable quality about the form of the visitor from Magaravo that he had viewed moving toward him and Kotse. Experience with a number of vampires at different locations in the eastern sector of Macedonia had built up his intuition to a high degree of sensitivity, Traiche had come to believe.

Suspicion of the weighty man had instantly arisen in the back of his mind. He was unable to dispel what he trusted that he had recognized in this person named Marko.

Traiche reached under his outer white shirt to an inner belt that he wore beneath his outer clothing, around his waist. A small pouch attached there held a special tool of many vampirdzhijas: a rare grass from Osogovo Mountain that was called the grobnik herb. He knew from his own experience that it had the power to make him able to identify the enemy he was hunting for. There was valid reason why herbalists and vampire-hunters called it the vampirdzhija grass.

Taking a single blade from the pouch, Traiche placed it in his mouth, under his tongue. The taste was a sharp, bitter one. He instantly felt its effect on his mind and senses. The hunter was now prepared to face the suspect when and if he came back to the graveyard.

Time flowed past and through the mind of the watcher as if he were dreaming.

Part of him was conscious, but another sector was unconscious, when Traiche caught sight of what he had been expected to happen.

A peculiar darkness characterized the moving object that his thoughts and emotions identified as what he was after.

I know what is required of me, the vampiradzhija commanded himself.

He rushed with sudden speed between the rows of graves, aiming his body toward what he understood to be a grobnik disguised as Marko from Magarevo.

The foe was too stunned and paralyzed to act or move.

The two hands of Traiche reached forward and grabbed hold of the lightless form with strength and determination. Surprise gave him superiority and victory. The grass under his tongue gave an unnatural, arcane capability to the attacker.

Traiche squeezed and pressed with indignant power, punishing the killer of innocent village victims.

Only after the grobnik fell to the ground, dead and unmoving, did the hunter realize that he had been in fatal error.

It was not Marko Stojanov who lay at his feet, but the igumen of the Bukovo monastery.

In his full vampire stage, the monster was large and heavy, no longer the small monk visible in the light of day.

The heart of Traiche beat with feverish speed.

I have defeated the demonic vampire, but it was not the person I thought I had unmasked.

The monster turned out to have had an almost perfect masking disguise during the day.

.