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The Andreikelon: Part V. Ionia.

13 Jul

I.

With the enormous funds he inherited from Thales, Abax set up a workshop for construction of synthetic living creatures a little way beyond the limits of Miletus.

The new andreikelon who came to life was given the name Talcmon by Abax. His mind and capabilities took a year to become developed to the point where he came to act as primary assistant to the one who had made him.

Abax, occupying the large domicile of the deceased Thales, drew up his future plans in the study chamber of the philosopher. This was where he sat at the grapheon, describing his plans for the future before Alcmon.

“Thales taught me that the prospects for humans will be dependent upon the establishment of mental ties of communication between similar cities. That will be the my mission and yours as well, Talcmon. You can understand, then, why I am teaching you the arts of metapsychic transmission and reception. That will be the force that binds together the many different cities that the Greeks have founded here in Ionia, and later the hundreds of other cities in Attica, Achaea, and the Aegean islands. One by one, more and more Greek cities will be attracted and drawn into a vast fabric, an interconnected network of mental messaging.”

Talcmon, standing opposite his seated maker, resembled Abax in most of his physical features. He also possessed hazel eyes and light blond hair. His height was slightly less, but he weighed considerably more.

The assistant wished to gain precise knowledge of what lay ahead for him in this program of inter-city communication.

“We will eventually locate metapsychics like ourselves in all twelve of the communities of the Ionia League, I understand to be our ultimate goal,” said the newly produced andreikelon. “Shall I be the first to be sent out of Miletus, to another member city?”

Abax nodded yes. “As Thales told me before he expired, we will have to start at smaller distances, then proceed to ever greater ones as our skills and abilities grow and increase.

“So, beginning here in the Carian region of Ionia, we can look to the cities of Myus and Priene as the appropriate candidate locations for earliest extension of transmission. It will be convenient for us that the distances involved will not be a great hindrance of any sort. Also, it is of benefit that those two neighboring communities speak the same dialect as we here in Miletus do. beloved

“Priene is conveniently placed at the mouth of our dear Maeander River, right on the coast of the Aegean Sea. And Myus is nearby, also guarding the river’s mouth.

“These will be our best opportunities for successful communication.”

“We shall have another one of us present to perform the tasks of metadosis of mental waves?”

“Yes,” answered Abax. “We start working on a third andreikelon at once. I have even chosen a name for this comrade of ours. He shall be called Pyxis.

“Once we have Pyxis and he has been trained, the two of you can travel to the cities of Priene and Myus to begin the operation of our network of communication exchanges with Miletus and each other.”

The second andreikelon smiled with optimism. “I can hardly wait that long, because I am eager to apply all I have learned from you about the way one prepares oneself for mental communication over a distance.”

“The gang that I employ to obtain human organs from burial grounds is fully dedicated to meeting the orders that I place with them,” boasted the one constructed in Egypt. “They were quick and effective in getting me all the parts that went into your body and your brain, Alcmon.”

“For which I am grateful to both them and to you,” jokingly noted the latter.

The newly made Pyxis was put through a rapid, thorough program of training and education, the two andreikelons together acting as his instructors.

Pyxis was given more original features, such as his dark brown hair and eyes.

Within half a year of his final construction, he became ready to carry out his metapsychic role in a neighboring city of Miletus.

Abax met with both his assistants in the office where Thales had read and studies over many years.

“The thinker who created me down in Egypt and then returned home to Miletus, left a complete, detailed plan for bringing metapsychic thought communication to the Greek cities of Ionia. You and I are going to be the realizers of his elevated, magnificent dream of a common mental fabric among the Greek states and communities.

“We start with the immediate neighbors of Miletus, Myus and Priene. But once these three cities are connected to each other, we are to go on to the nine other members of the Ionic League.

“Our production of more and more andreikelons will enable our center here in Miletus to dispatch figures with psychic minds to settle in Ephesus, Colophon, Lebedus, Teos, Clazomenae, and Phocea. And later, on to the islands of Samos and Chios and the distant city of Erythrae as well.

“At some future but foreseeable date, all twelve of the Ionian states will be holding their annual panagyris of games and religious festival, the unified Panionia, under the overall shield of a body of andreikelon metapsychics. The sanctuary dedicated to Poseidon will be full of persons with these special, advanced minds not divided by substance or distance. The shrine situated on the northern slope of Mt. Mycale will ring with the sounds of our andreikelon voices, raised in songs of unity and mutual understanding.

“We will be able to stabilize and guarantee the political as well as the sacred peace and comity of the people and governments of all Greek Ionia.”

Pyxis decided to present a question in his mind. “Since our lives will not be limited by time, as those of naturally born human beings, do plans exist for spreading the network beyond our own coast and its cities, to places and locations elsewhere?”

Abax thought a moment before giving his reply.

“There are other lands on the other side of the sea, in the regions known as Attica, Achaea, Epirus, and Thessaly. These areas are teeming with cities that can make good use of psychic agents like us. We, the andreikelon, can serve as the binding glue holding them together in peaceful cooperation.

“We can possibly clear the path to a new form of world comity and unity, one that has never existed before.”

Abax gazed with infinite hope, first at Talcmon, then at Pyxis. He told each of them the specific plans he had in his mind for the future of each of them.

“Your position will be in Priene as a practicing physician, which you shall begin studying and preparing for at once,” he said to Alcmon.

His eyes then turned to Pyxis. “You shall move to Myus as soon as you are ready to start operating as a public notary in that city,” Abax commanded the andreikelon he had recently constructed to carry out the ambitious project outlined by Thales.

Immediately after his assistant arrived in Priene, Abax started to receive mental images and ideas sent him by Pyxis.

“I have rented rooms here near the harbor and letting it be known all over the city that I am a notary able of sending rapid communications to Miletos when there is special urgency involved and a reply is important. I never give any specific details about how my letters are delivered at a distance in so short a time. It is necessary that those who avail themselves of my service trust that I possess secret but effective means of sending their words to a designated recipient in the other city.

“Already, I have recruited several merchants and lawyers who are involved in commercial business of various sorts to make use of my rapid communication operation.

“The enterprise I am now involved in is expanding with new customers and traffic at an incredible speed as word of my successes spreads about the port and harbor of my new home, Priene.”

Abax smiled in triumph as his metapsychic mind received this transmission from his agent over the space between the two Ionian settlements.

The original andreikelon summoned his other assistant, Talcmon, and revealed what his plans for him were.

“I judge that now is the right moment for you to travel to Myus and establish a position for yourself there. Because of your study and training in the area of medicine, you shall be able to set yourself up as a physician.

“This will allow you to begin to operate a communication project with both myself here in Miletos, as well as with Pyxis, who now resides in Priene.

“We shall now enjoy the advantages of a messaging network between three cities of the Ionian coast.” He grinned with accomplishment. “But this is but the start, for there are other places that can soon be similarly interconnected into our mechanism of transmission and reception.”

Talcmon beamed at Abax with glowingly radiant eyes. “I can hardly wait to arrive in Myus and begin looking for people who have a need for my metapsychic services to them.”

II.

Pyxis was progressing with notable success in winning customers as both a legal notary and a transmitter of long-range invisible messages.

It was a disconcerting surprise to him when the Chief Archon of Priene, an officious executive named Goxus, came to his residence late on summer afternoon.

The notary was alarmed by the sudden uninvited entrance of the huge figure with snow white-hair who entered his rented residence while the andreikelon lay resting from the day’s labors on a low couch he used at moment such as this when he suffered absolute exhaustion from his physical and metapsychic labors.

Pyxis stared in confusion at the important-looking, giant older man.

“Let me introduce myself,” grumbled the unidentified intruder. “I am the chief governmental magistrate of the great city of Priene. My name is Goxus, and I have come here to question you about a number of secret complaints made to me by certain respectable citizens who appear to be troubled and disturbed by certain activities of yours described to me by them.”

The notary was alert and active enough to present the official a question.

“And what might these provocative activities of mine consist of?” Pyxis inquired in a sharp, cutting tone.

The city Archon made a sudden grimace that approached a sneer.

“There are rumors that have reached me,” declared the large official. “Some of our citizens suspect you of dealing with spirits of an evil nature, those that fear to be seen in the light of the day.

“There is a vague idea spreading about that what you do depends upon certain magical formulas that you have mastered before you came to Priene.

“Tell me this: from where did you move to our city?”

The notary attempted a friendly smile, but failed more than a wild grimace.

“It is very much a private matter that I have the right to keep to myself. yet I will be truthful and tell you what you wish to find out.

“It is from Miletos that I made my move to this place. That is where I had my birth and childhood period. I have nothing to conceal concerning who I am and from where I originated.”

The Archon took two steps forward, until he stood only inches from Pyxis.

“I must notify you of a decision made today by my Council of Elders. It has to do with your future residence. We have decided to ban and expel you from this city, on the suspicion that you engage in secret, arcane practices of an unnatural character.

“By the strange actions you have been involved with, you pose an unknowable danger to the health and wellbeing of this community.

“We cannot allow you to continue what is called mysterious behavior on your part. You will have to leave at once, as soon as humanly possible.

“Do not try to stay or resist this order in any way at all.

“That is all. Farewell.”

Abax was shaken by the metapsychic message that came to his mind that evening.

“It is my sad duty to have to report to you that the plan to make me a public receiver-transmitter here in the city of Priene has collapsed into dust this day. I learned of this directly from the Senior Archon of the government when he made a personal visit to my residence to inform me of my suspension and expulsion from Priene. I can no longer ply my trade and business here, but must make my leave as soon as possible.

“I was fortunate enough to find at once the carter who brought my possessions here from Miletos. He agreed to haul me and my goods back home. We shall leave early tomorrow and I shall soon be back in Miletos soon to confer with you about the present situation that has driven me from Priene and what decisions are now needed concerning our future activities.”

His mind in a whirl of surprise and indignation, Abax at once realized that he had to send a return message to Pyxis. His thoughts focused upon what he intended to transmit over distance to the assistant soon to be returning home to Miletos.

“I am saddened by the information that you recently communicated to me, and I send you my deepest sympathy and best wishes for a safe return here. Do not in any way blame yourself for this brutal outcome, my dear fellow. We shall be able to absorb and react with success to this temporary setback to our plans. As soon as possible, we shall carry out corrective actions that will rectify what may have gone awry for us there in Priene. I shall see and confer with you as soon as you return here.”

Having finished his mental transmission, Abax began to speculate and worry about what may be behind this unhappy event connected with Pyxis in Priene.”

III.

Talcmon found and leased an appropriate office and living apartment in the city of Myus.

How am I going to build up a medical practice from scratch? the migrating physician asked himself as he began to make friends with neighbors close to him in location. It was an older, retired merchant who gave him advice that turned out to solve his initial problem of starting out in his profession among strangers in an unfamiliar community.

“Find a veteran doctor who wishes to retire because of ill health, and offer to take over all his patients, promising to pay him continuously for the rest of his life for the honor of replacing him.

“You will certainly be able to make continuous, partial payments over future time, regardless of how long it may take you. And when the old man goes, you will be free of any further debt to him at all.”

Talcmon tried this scheme and it worked for him.

For a modest share of what he would be receiving in medical fees, one sickly physician agreed to transfer over all his clientele to the newcomer.

Once he had patients visiting him on a regular schedule, Talcmon began to search among them for likely customers who might wish to send rapid private messages to someone in Miletos.

A dealer in rare spices and herbs contracted with the doctor to have his business requests and orders sent by this new, undefined and unspecified method of speedy communication. Then a ship owner who had a need for prices and market conditions in Miletos arranged to send and receive important business and commercial data by this mysterious but dependable means.

Talcmon provided his growing number of patrons with proof and evidence of what he was capable of doing. Word of his growing number of successes spread among merchants, shippers, and dealers in imports and exports.

The head of the Medical Guild in Myus was an active, influential individual named Labtos. The presence of a new practitioner not affiliated with the organized medical doctors of the city became an object of interest and alarm to a number of the leaders of the profession. A small number of his most important and prominent healers met with Labtos to complain about this non-member of their own organization.

“What should we do about this outsider who has come to our city and bought his way into the practice of a retiring veteran? To me, it looks like an interloper who muscles his way into a population of patients unknown to him. Why should we sit idly by while he takes advantages of our people?”

Labtos thought a moment, then gave a reply to the question and demand.

“Yes, there could be great danger to all of us in case this foreigner continues to expand his net among us.

“I will go and talk to him, asking the man about his plans. Believe me, I will make him comply with our rules and traditions. He shall not be permitted to cause problems or imbalances of any sort.

“I shall take care of this Talcmon and force him to fall in place with all the rest of us.”

Labtos watched the building where the doctor in question worked and lived, waiting for Talcmon to exit from inside at almost the hour of noon.

When the man in a doctor’s green tunic walked out of the building, the chief of Myus physicians headed forward, to intercept and address the man under serious suspicion of endangering the interests of the professional group he was competing against.

“Dr. Talcmon, could I have a few moments to talk with you about a subject of importance for both of us?”

The man from Miletos stopped and looked with surprise and apprehension at the tall man approaching him with strong, vigorous steps.

“First, let me introduce myself,” grinned the stranger in medical green. “I am a local physician, born and trained here in Myus. My name is Dr. Labtos. At the present time, I am the acting chief of the Medical Guild in my native city.

“I have consulted with several of our member physicians concerning your arrival and operations since being here.

“May I ask you, in a respectful manner, of course, whether you are at present busy in the active practice of the medical arts on members of the population of this dear city of ours?”

What am I expected to say to this character? wondered the migrating doctor.

“Yes,” boldly replied the newcomer. “Of course, I am treating patients. What does anyone expect me to be doing? I am a physician by calling and training, and I intend to treat the ailing patients of my predecessor, the doctor from whom I obtained the list of people whom he was healing.

“I am merely continuing the work that he was performing for their health and wellbeing. That is the simple explanation of what I am here about.”

Labtos gazed at the new physician with unconcealed scorn and anger.

“I must reveal to you certain alarming reports that I have received from certain of my colleagues who have spoken among themselves and personally to me. The information that I have been receiving tells of offers that have been made by you to several of the persons who have visited you as patients seeking aid and advice concerning their health. What I have been told has alarmed and distressed me to a considerable degree. Let me explain.

“How is it possible that you make proposals to patients that you send messages instantly to Miletos and elsewhere for them? That you use an undefined, undescribed method of transmitting whatever they wish to communicate to others in distant places?

“How can this be? I ask myself. Are you mad, imagining that you possess fantastic powers and capabilities? How do you dare to talk in such an absurd method?

“None of this reported information makes any sense to me. I demand that you try to explain to me what lies behind what so many others have reported.

“That is necessary, I assure you, Dr. Talcmon.”

The metapsychic hesitated momentarily. What was best for him to say? he wondered. Should he reveal the outlines of what he was up to that had caused these reports that had brought Dr. Labtos to make his investigative visit?

He decided it was best to be candid and not try to conceal the essence of what he was attempting to achieve in Myus.

“I am engaged in a very unique mission that goes along parallel to the medical practice in which I work. Let me explain to you what I am busy with.

“In Miletos, I was fortunate in being trained by a certain master of the art of thought transference over distances. In other words, I became an experienced adept in mental communication and messaging from afar. My talents in that area have advanced to a level of astounding competence and ability.

“This is not an idle boast or claim. I can prove myself by any practical testing that anyone anywhere can conceive of or devise.”

Labtos stared at the one telling him of his extraordinary powers of mind, not saying a word for a considerable length of time.

At last, Talcmon grew impatient and decided to present the head of the Medical Guild with a daring challenge.

“I believe that if you form a committee of your colleagues and visit me as a united group, I can transmit any set of ideas that all of you agree upon to another city, Miletos in particular. This can then be verified through a written letter that will be sent to Myus by my confederate in that distant city, further inland than the location that we occupy here.

“How does what I propose sound to you? Is it acceptable to your judgment? And will your guild go along with it?”

The older physician made a sour grimace. “This proposal of yours will have to be considered by my committee of primaries, the main officers of our organization. That is necessary in order to go forward with the idea that you have presented to me.

“I shall now leave, but I promise to return here within a few days. At that time, I will bring you our judgment of holding you to a test of what it is reported that you are involved in.”

With that said, Labtos whirled about and swiftly left the presence of the andreikelon engaged in mental transmissions.

IV.

The meeting of the leaders’ group occurred that very evening at the home of the head of the Physicians’ Guild, Dr. Labtos.

Once all the members were seated, the latter began to describe the proposal made by the independent doctor who had recently arrived from Miletos.

“That is what this fellow told me that he would do, if we wish him to,” concluded Labtos. “That is the reason that I summoned all of you here, to decide how to proceed now that this first conversation with him has occurred. I must ask for your counsel and advice at this time. Once we come to a consensus concerning that question, I will return to this person and inform him of what the situation then will be.”

He looked about the room, taking in each of the co-members of the leadership group.

One of the senior veterans started to speak in a soft, reasoned tone.

“Let me express what my immediate reaction is to what this newcomer to our city has proposed that he do.

“It makes no sense to me at all to allow him to use his evil capabilities to fool us with tricks and subterfuges that he may have mastered when he was back at his home in Miletos.

“We should stay far from this scoundrel who claims to his patients that he can send words and ideas from someone here in Myus to a colleague situated in Miletos.

“He seems to me to have the character of either a false charlatan or an arcane magician of some sort.

“I think that we of this guild should stay away from him. Instead of allowing him to play tricks on us, we should complain to the city authorities and magistrates to ban and exile him from out of our beloved Myus.

“His expulsion as an evil spirit should make us take action against him as soon as possible, before he can infect and harm those who have become his patients.

“He is not a genuine physician, but rather a monster of a devilish nature who has no right to remain among us here in Myus.”

Talcmon quickly disposed of the possessions he had purchased and headed back to Melitos with a deep sense of failure and defeat.

When he reached the city where he had been created and assembled, he discovered that his fellow-andreikelon Pyxis had returned home from Priene after meeting with opposition and rejection similar to what he had collided with from the Physicians’ Guild.

Both Pyxis and Talcmon were surprised to discover that Abax had in the meantime built three new assistant beings, bringing his total contingent of synthetic metapsychics to five.

What is going to become of our growing numbers here in Miletos? the returnees asked themselves and each other.

Abax recognized that he had to take a new direction in order to fulfill his aim of building a network of metapsychic operators across the expanse of Greek settlements and city-states. What solution was he able to devise?

His thoughts were lost in a wild, spinning confusion from which he was unable to release himself. It was while he was suffering this difficult problem that a visitor arrived in Miletos, one who had been a student of philosophy under the late Thales.

Pythagoras was a tall, muscular young man with a bright, handsome face lit up by his brilliant whitish eyes. He had studied under the personal supervision of Thales a few years previously, when Abax the faithful butler had made his acquaintance. Since that time, he had traveled to Egypt and Babylonia to further his knowledge of what was known in these older civilizations.

“It was Thales who recommended that I journey to these other lands to learn what they might know,” he told Abax in the manuscript room where works of thought and general knowledge were kept and preserved.

“And did you find what you were hunting for there?” asked the andreikelon of the one naturally born on the island of Samos.

Pythagoras gave him a smile with sadness in it. “Yes, I picked up a lot of things I had been ignorant of. For instance, the Egyptian priests taught me much about measuring distances and calculating areas of land. And on the Tygris I learned a lot of practical calculations and numerical operations.

“But I still owe my greatest debts to our Ionian philosophers and thinkers, and mainly to my first and main tutor, the unrivaled master Thales.”

“He is no longer here with us, though,” noted Abax with a moan. “Have you made any plans about what you will be doing next?”

Pythagoras seemed to grow distant and dreamy. “I believe that the best I can do for human knowledge and learning is to teach and spread the successes of our Ionian thinkers to the younger generation. That can best be done by a system of advanced schools of philosophy and thought set in a multitude of different cities about the great seas.

“They might begin here on the coast of Ionia, then spread westward to Attica and the Greek Peninsula, and even further west to the Greek cities situated in Sicily and Italy.

“There are no future limits to how far afield these schools of thought may range. I intend to go on and on with them.”

Abax looked excited as well as surprised. “What do you plan to be teaching the students in these special schools?”

“The main stress will be on the philosophy of how to live a happy, healthy, and fulfilling life. There will be instruction on all that I have learned about the optimal diet of foods for human beings, as well as organized physical exercises to maintain the strength and flexibility of the body. And there shall be instruction and periods of group and individual training and maintenance.

“The wellbeing of all the members, both males and females, will be the goal. Complete development of a person’s possibilities and potential are what I intend to realize over time.

“Everything will be aimed at discovering and bringing about what is best for the body, the mind, and the soul of every member and participant.”

Abax gazed at Pythagoras in silence for a considerable time.

“Your idea of a number of schools scattered over the wide distances of the seas is an amazing dream to aspire to,” murmured the andreikelon in an intimate tone. “Let me tell you this: I will do all in my power to help you in bringing these concepts of yours into reality. The dream that you have is a high, elevated, and noble one. I have no doubt that there will be great benefit to all the teachers and students who may come to be involved with it.

“Yes, I promise you that I will do whatever I can to bring about such a system of philosophical institutions.”

V.

Abax, now the chief of a body of five andreikelons that he himself designed and created, called together all of his assistants in order to inform them, but also to measure their reactions to what he was thinking of doing.

The company of six synthetic beings sat down at a low and long table in the dining chamber of the house that had once belonged to Thales.

“I have a very important matter that I must present and describe for all of us who have developed our metapsychic abilities,” he began. “It has to do with an innovative program that was disclosed to me by our present guest, the Samian named Pythagoras.

“Returning from years of study in both Egypt and Babylonia, his thoughts have come to center on the organizing of a series of special schools of a philosophical character.”

Abax proceeded to give the characteristic details of these institutions that he had learned from Pythagoras. The assistant andreikelons that he himself had made looked at their leader with astonishment and something close to enthusiasm.

It was the physician called Talcmon who made a response to what had just been presented to them.

“These ideas of the philosopher Pythagoras are like a sudden miraculous revelation, as if an oracle has told us about events that are destined to come about in the days to come.

“I ask myself this simple question: will these scattered schools come about? Will they exist and operate as the future reveals itself to us?

“There is a simple answer with only one word in it. That word is yes.

“As soon as I heard what was just said to us, I decided to support and agree to it, because it promises to us, the metapsychics who trace their origins to Thales, a way to realization of our most intimate wishes and aspirations.

“We can, each of us, move to one of the separate schools. From those locations, we will be able to communicate by mental means with each other.

“Inside each of the schools, we can be the tutors of new metapsychics. These can then journey and move to other schools, as they are built and organized.

“Our future course must be to accept and join the communities conceived of by this inspired genius named Pythagoras.”

As soon as Talcmon was finished, the other andreikelons turned and looked at Abax, curious to find out what his reaction might be to what had just been said.

“Yes, my thoughts and feelings are pointed in the same direction, toward allying ourselves with the program for a multitude of philosophy schools in the various cities where Greeks are located.

“I intend, therefore, to inform Pythagoras as soon as possible that we shall unite with him in order to found a number of such schools.”

At that point, Pyxis the notary asked an important question.

“Does this philosopher know that he will be joining with ankeikelons? Is he aware of the character that we share among ourselves?”

Abax considered several moments, then answered the question.

“No, I believe he has no definite concept of our nature,” he muttered. “He has never asked me anything indicating that he perceives any difference from himself or other people in us.”

“Will we have to inform him, sooner or later?” inquired Talcmon.

Abax replied after a pause to think and consider. “Yes, he will have to be told the truth.

“I will take the responsibility of revealing the truth about us to him.”

Abax invited Pythagoras to take a walk with him along the commercial docks of Miletos harbor. The two walked slowly beside the shore, taking stock of the native and foreign ships tied up next to each other.

“I am convinced that your idea for founding those innovative schools is a very promising one, and I have talked it over with my colleagues and companions in my residence.

“It could be said the they and I already make up a teaching staff of sorts. That makes it easy and convenient to combine our habits with what you intend to set up in various locations.

“But there is one particular truth about our group that has never been accurately conveyed to you, by me or my anyone else in the house.”

Pythagoras stopped walking, compelling Abax to do the same. The former gazed fixedly into the face of the latter.

“I have, a long time ago, come to certain conclusion concerning you. Most of what I happened to suspect and conclude originated in statements made by Thales in his last several years of life.

“He was not specific how it was that he found you when he was down in Egypt, but I received the clear impression that there were unique, extraordinary features in you, that your character and nature were not ordinary or the same as those of other persons, either in Egypt or here in Ionia.

“I am not completely certain about what makes you so different, Abax, but I long ago concluded that you are a special, original self.

“It has become plain to me, since returning to Miletos, that those who live with you as resident companions possess similar uniqueness.”

Abax felt a spinning in his brain. How close is this philosopher to the truth about what an andreikelon is and how it came to exist?

“I was constructed in Egypt by Thales and several skilled artisans,” whispered the synthetic being. “I was not born from a human woman.”

He waited for a reply or reaction from the human thinker and teacher.

“I suspected something like that, but had no clear concept or explanation. It can now be explained in detail to me. I have no reason not to ask questions from now on.”

“Will you allow my fellow andreikelons to work in your school colonies as teachers and assistants?

“Those with my character can be trusted with confidence.”

“I recognize the truth of that,” stated Pythagoras. “Yes, andreikelons will ne my partners and companions in building the new schools of philosophy.”

“You have to know that we have developed special abilities in the area of mind communication and psychic transmission. We intend to continue with such mental activity.”

“I can and will accept such capabilities,” nodded Pythagoras. “After all, you and those like you are by nature unique and peculiar beings.”

Both the human and the andreikelon laughed at this remark together.

The End

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The Andreikelon Part IV. Over the Sea.

6 Jul

I.

Long trireme galleys mingled with small skiffs and ploiarieni in the busy waters of Lion’s Bay. Lembic vessels of all shapes and sizes lined the maritime weir of the naupegeion, as well as the beach beyond the port proper. Small craft littered the shores on both sides of the bay, while large oversized ships dominated the great wharf on the city side.

The time-traveler led his companion toward the lower, uncrowded area of the harbor. His aim was to find and hire a small acation boat that could take him and Thisia out into the Aegean, from where a transmission could be tried.

Pure white sindonic sails of expensive cloth waved above ships plying the still, clear bay. A barely perceptible breeze filled out the istions of the many vessels. At the entrance of the gulf, enormous lions of shining stone stood guard. Nowhere else could one find so much commercial activity as here in Miletos harbor. Not in Egypt, Phoenicia, Mesopotamia, the Pontus, or anywhere in the Mesogeios Sea that stretched far to the west.

The two walkers stopped to discuss what to do first in their quest.

“I have been thinking over how we should go about finding the boat and the pilot we need,” began Abax. “It must be someone who is an experienced nautes who thoroughly understands the arts of sailing and navigating. When we will go out and attempt the sea, he must be expert in nautilia and piloting about.”

“How are we to find such a one?” she asked, turning her face to him.

“That is the immediate task, and I have been considering how to make our search for such an individual.” He paused a moment. “Who would know this waterfront best? Probably an older veteran parathalassion, an experienced sea dog. So, let me try to locate someone who appears to have spent most of a long life at sea.”

At that moment, a short and shabby mariner appeared from behind, attempting to pass them.

Abax turned and addressed the hurrying nautes.

“Pardon me, we are looking for a pilot with many years at sea, with excellent lnowledge of both this bay and the wide sea. Could you suggest someone like that to help us?”

After stopping, the young sailor scratched his jaw for a moment.

“See Skolex,” he muttered with anger. “No one has been around here as long as he has.”

With that, the irritated nautes scurried away.

The two metapsychics looked at each other in wonderment.

“I will ask about until I find that man,” announced Abax. “Stay here until I return with what we want.”

As Thisia watched, he walked away toward a portion of the beach where workers were repairing the hull of a docked phortedis boat. All its cargo lay about on the shore, waiting to be reloaded.

One repairman was supervising the others. Abax approached the boatswain and asked him if he knew where the old pilot called Skolex could be found.

The lanky stranger smiled as if having heard a joke. “He no longer works for others on commercial vessels,” he replied. “Nowadays, that old Skolex has a thalamegos of his own. It is a small boat that one man alone can sail and handle. He uses it to carry limited loads out to sea shore and then back here. The Aegean littoral is as far as he sails at his advanced age.”

“Do you know where he might be today?”

The boatswain pointed to a spot near the entrance to the gulf in the vicinity of the Twin Lions that always stood on guard there.

Abax headed in that direction, far from where he had left Thisia.

Twice more he made inquiries, till at last he came to the boat of the sea veteran he was hunting for.

A short, hardened man with a ruddy, leathery face was taking baskets full of fruit and vegetables out of his small sail boat.

He looked up as the tall, blond person with hazel eyes neared the little vessel.

“Good afternoon,” began Abax. “I am seeking the veteran mariner named Skolex. Do you know whether he is somewhere about, my good man?”

The small fellow with the tough, weathered skin put down the basket in his hands and came closer.

“I am the one you are looking for,” he said in a voice of rough gravel and stones. His blue eyes held an unusual twinkle, a glow reminiscent of blazing sunlight sparkling on the surface of the sea.

The andreikelon caught the inner energy current of the white-haired oldster’s mind.

“Let me explain myself,” he murmured. “I was told by several mariners along the beach that you have been to sea many years, that you are familiar with all the skills of the pilots who sail out into the sea and can recommend someone able to satisfy my most urgent needs.”

Skolex drew closer. “And what are these requirements of yours?” he asked pointblank.

“A small vessel to take me and another person out of the bay, into the great sea. It will be a sort of excursion for that one day, then back to Miletos.

“The boat does not have to be large at all, just enough to carry two travelers, as well as the person manning the sail. He should be a thalassopores of wide experience and deep knowledge.

“There will be a series of such short voyages, each one longer and further than the previous.

“This pilot must be willing to obey my orders without question. I shall demand total loyalty of the boatmaster. His monetary payment will be a generous one in order to compensate for any hardship or problems involved.”

Skolex eyed the time-traveler with growing curiosity.

“I have never before heard of anything such as what you are planning. You wish me to name you an appropriate mariner with his own boat?”

“Precisely.”

The short, spry boatowner moved closer. The shining whiteness of his thick locks matched that of the finest, most expensive silk cloth used for sails.

The two strangers studied each other for a brief moment.

Abax was eager to hear what the other man would recommend him to do.

“You will find no one equal to me in the entire world,” boasted the boatman. “My experience in the water is unequaled. I have seen every sort of problem possible on every type of vessel. There is nothing nautical beyond my knowledge or skill. There is no reason for you to look any farther at all.”

For a short time, Abax felt stunned and off-balance.

“I plan to start on a short voyage tomorrow morning,” he finally announced. “Just an exploratory cruise about the bay.”

“My thalamegos boat will be ready,” said Skolox.

“There will be another person aboard, a young woman,” added the andreikelon.

Skolex raised a white eyebrow and winked an eye.

The blond-haired stranger had turned away and did not see such signs of emotion.

_

If, if, if…so thought Thisia, sitting in the grass bordering the beach.

If this, if that, if only…Fantasy shows us what might have been…

If her father had not died at the time that he did.

If she had been born first and Achne had been the younger sister.

If she had not been forced to take the receiver position because of her weakness and frailty.

Unknown to her, the boarder came up along her side.

“What are you pondering do deeply, Thisia?” he asked, giving her a jolting shock. She turned her face to him and smiled.

“I was bemused by certain memories from the past.”

If you had never come into our cottage, Abax.

The latter came nearer and offered her his arm as she rose to her feet.

I have some good news.” said the andreikelon.

He proceeded to inform her that the veteran polit Skolex was willing to serve them in his sailing craft.busy

“When will we start?” she eagerly inquired.

“I told him to be ready early tomorrow morning right at dawn. That will give us plenty of time to choose a location for our first transmission.”

The pair started back to the cottage, traversing the center of Miletos.

“I want to have Achne fully prepared to receive what we send to her,” said Abax as they made their way through the crowd filling the busy commercial district of the city.

This crowd was a thick, jostling chaos of competing buyers and sellers.

Abax took his companion by the hand and gently guided her along the edge of the teeming throng, till the two found themselves beyond the busy marketplace.

Magnified excitement ran through the nervous system of Thisia, reaching to her inner mind.

She felt herself fully, firmly conquered by the undefined emotion that she sensed within herself toward the apprentice metapsychic that her family had agreed to train.

His attractive magnetism was a new, unfamiliar factor in her life.

II.

It was clear to Abax after supper was finished that evening. Optasia wished to speak to him in private.

The two daughters were in their own bedroom, preparing to turn in early.

This appeared to be the mother’s best opportunity to speak with him in candor about a delicate subject.

Optasia sat opposite her tenant, peering at him with a steady, unwavering gaze.

“I am worried about my daughter,” were the first words indicating what the problem might be. “Achne has not been the same since she returned from the climb up Mt. Hypsoma with you. There is something unusual happening to her, but I am uncertain exactly what it might be. That question remains a riddle, a mystery of sorts.”

She stared at him as if expecting some revelation of truth to be provided her. But there was no such result, for Abax decided to be defensive and non-communicative.

“Her injury was severe enough to cause her major pain. Such a stressful experience always leaves a terrible scar, an echo in the mind, even after the physical, material wound is completely healed. It is always that way.”

That explanation was not adequate enough for the mother. She continued to probe into what he suspected to have happened to her older daughter, Achne.

“I have no way of knowing whether she shall ever be wed to anyone. That is beyond anyone’s ability to see. But what is important to me is to protect her so that no one ever throws any sort of harmful shadow upon her.”

All of a sudden, Abax leaned forward over the table.

Was Optasia attempting to tell him something about the virginity of the young, unwed woman? Was she hinting at a possible threat to the virginity and innocence of Achne?

Once lost, that virginity could never be restored. Everyone knew that, even a disguised andreikelon.

As a definite temporal point, loss of virginity resembled human birth or human death. It was impossible to repeat, occurring only once. So mused Abax.

“Your daughter possesses a strong personal character. I am certain she can look out for herself and avoid dangerous temptations that might occur.” His voice grew soft and quiet. “I am determined that you not be worried by alarming thoughts about your Achne. She will be safe because of her profound integrity and the clarity of her thought.”

Optasia considered for a moment, then made a response to what he had just said.

“Thank you,” she managed to mutter. Her voice sounded somewhat muffled.

At that juncture, Thisia stepped into the kitchen as if in a hurry.

“Achne has finally fallen asleep,” announced the younger daughter. “She knows that tomorrow will be very tiring for her when she will be acting as receiver for a transmission from over the water of the sea.”

The dawn was overpowering in the magnificence of colors it made visible.

Streams of radiance filled the brightening sky. The light grew increasingly intense and enchanting.

Two moving figures hurried rapidly toward a particular boat on the beach near the Twin Lions. The owner had been long awake, waiting for the pair of passengers. He smiled when he saw Thisia approaching. Beside her was the one who had hired him.

Who could have predicted that a woman was coming aboard his thalamega today?

Skolex studied her with suspicion in his mind, then with trepidation.

A female aboard his boat? That was something unforeseeable for him.

Realizing what was happening, Thisia stepped forward toward the old mariner.

“I have heard that there are some who believe that a woman aboard a ploion of the sea will bring misfortune to it,” she boldly uttered to him. “But that cannot be the truth, for many individuals of the female sex have traveled on the water from the earliest of times. There is absolutely no reason to accept such superstitions, such deisidaimonia, is there?

“Certainly, you are a man of the sea too intelligent to hold any fear of someone such as me aboard your sailing vessel, Master Skolex.”

A loud, surprising laugh erupted out of the throat of the old bachelor. His wrinkled face came to lose all its stony roughness, as if the latter suddenly melted away.

“Let us go on board and set off before the sun moves any higher,” the mariner said to the two passengers.

Abax held and supported Thisia with both hands as she stepped into the primnesion at the stern of the pilot’s boat.

As soon as she was standing on the deck, the andreikelon leaped in beside her on the vessel.

Skolex loosened the seleinion tying the craft to a thick wooden post attached to the beach, slipping off the knot holding it fast to the shore.

A quick, experienced jump carried him over the edge of the boat to where the two travelers stood.

The mariner soon had them moving into the bay, away from the land.

Skolex directed their course at the tiller. He told his charges to sit down.

The beach became ever more distant with each passing moment.

In all directions, ships began to appear as the morning progressed.

Several times, the skipper stepped to the single mast and adjusted the sail.

Abax turned to his fellow metapsychic and whispered to her.

“We shall before very long have a chance to send a message to Achne,” he softly, silently murmured.

Optasia knew she had to ask her elder daughter some pointed questions, but feared what reaction they might arouse in her. It was only after the two of them were seated on the bench behind the cottage that she dared to say what was weighing on her mind.

“There is something I must say to you, Achne.”

The latter threw her a questioning look.

“What is it mother? What is it that is so important to tell me?”

“We have not spoken about certain matters. I suspect it is my fault for avoiding a particular awkward subject. It has seemed best to me not to trouble you with it before the right time has come.”

“I believe that I know what you are about to say,” murmured the injured one. “It is quite normal for a mother to sense what might be about to happen.”

The two females looked at each other calmly, as if all their secrets were out in front both of them already.

“A storge of emotion for a man is a strange, difficult sensation, Achne. It makes life unpredictable for one. If not held firmly in place, the passion can turn into something abnormal, even paralogical. I know that this is so, because it once happened to me.”

“I know what great love you had for father,” whispered the daughter in a low, measured voice. “Thisia and I have spoken to each other of the pure, elevated adoration, the latreia of your husband by his faithful wife, who happened to be you.”

All at once, the mind of Optasia was full of bygone, remembered images.

The masklike face of her dead mate appeared before her internal mind’s eyes, causing her outer eyes to moisten with liquid.

“Your father was a unique personality,” she said in a rush of ideas. “There was no one else like him for me. Nor will there ever be. Do you understand, Achne?”

The latter’s reply was a single nod of affirmation.

“I knew not a thing about the metapsychic powers of the mind before I met him. It was he who discovered my inborn mental gift for transmission and reception. My beloved husband developed the natural potential in me, of which I had been unaware and ignorant.

“With incredible patience, he helped me find the talent deep inside my mind.

“After several years of hard work together, I became a fully adept eidemon. I was able to send and take in mental waves and messages. Together, we cooperated to stretch and increase our skills, both his and mine.”

In less than a moment, the mother’s eyes became shadowed by a cloud of unusual abstract thoughts.

“I had inner doubts and qualms about some of the things that we were trying to achieve, but I failed to voice them to him in time.

“Your father possessed limitless, magnificent metapsychic ambitions, much like those our boarder has. Those two men resemble each other to a remarkable extent.”

Achne leaned down closer to her mother.

“Did father have any idea of the danger to him in what he was attempting?”

The only reaction to this question by Optasia was a quick, fleeting shaking of her head. Then she spoke in a distant, dreamy tone.

“That is what I most fear: that our new friend may be trying what is beyond the ability of any human being to attain. He thinks of reafather?”ching beyond what has ever been accomplished at any time by any metapsychic I have ever heard of.”

The daughter studied her mother’s face carefully, in minute detail. When she opened her mouth, her voice was as dry as the sand of the Miletos beaches.

“What was the nature of the cataclysm that killed father?” the young woman asked with fear in her words and thoughts.

For a considerable, awkward time, no reply came from the mother.

When Optasia finally spoke, her voice sounded calm and well-controlled.

“I have never revealed to anyone what I am about to say. It is awfully frightful and horrid to hear. But now the moment has arrived when I must tell this story, and you will be the one to whom it is told.”

She paused, taking a full breath of air into her lungs.

“We had been experimenting with the roles we took and carried out, changing his and my functions by quick, instantaneous reversals and turns. Your father would send me a message by transmission, then I myself would send him an immediate reply to it. Back and forth, we sent in rapid order. The objective was to find out how fast we could make these cycles go, how quickly we were able to exchange and vary our roles.”

“I have never heard of anything like that, mother,” admitted Achne.

“The truth has been kept from you and your sister because of the tragic conclusion that occurred. The unexpected death of your father came when I became carelessly inattentive, going past the limit of prudence. I failed to keep track of how I was over-flooding him with each successive emission of mental energy. Then, a fatal wave of force struck and decimated the center of his metapsychic mind. Neither of us was able to notice it approaching him.”

She stopped, looking away toward the distant waters of the bay.

Achne stared at her mother’s profile as if she were seeing it for the first time. What guilt and regret my mother must feel! she wondered.

Suddenly, Optasia turned back to her daughter.

“You must prepare yourself for what will soon be coming our way,” she darkly muttered. “I will help you all I can, Achne.”

III.

Beyond the mouth of the Meander sailed the small craft.

The placid, tranquil Aegean became a hypocyanic blue as the sun rose over the parathalassion. Miletos was only a white haze behind the gigantic Twin Lions guarding the bay entrance.

At the rudder in the rear, Skolex steered the boat on a straight, steady course parallel to the shore and the land.

The old mariner talked at great length, recalling his adventures and experiences of his younger years. Voyages to Egypt, the Pontus, the West, and the island of Sicily, where he had witnessed an enormous volcanic eruption of molten lava.

“What is the name of the location of such a demonic ephaisteiades?” inquired the curious Achne.

“Mt. Etna,” answered the pilot with a grin. “It is a sight like no other that I have ever seen. Mere words cannot describe the hellish explosion that I witnessed there.”

Abax, extremely tense, did not say or ask anything. He appeared focused on preparing himself for the psychic metaphora soon to occur.

His hazel eyes scanned the coast, as if on the watch for any sign of human business or activity. He thought of Achne far beyond the gulf, waiting for what was soon to come from this boat he was on. That time was coming near.

He turned toward Thisia with an inquiring look.

She sent him a nod, indicating what it was he was thinking about.

Abax pointed himself toward the coast of Ionia, his back to his psychic source and spring.

He stepped to the stern as if to look into the water, while Thisia faced the back of his blond head.

Skolex at the tiller was silent and still.

This was the right moment, both metapsychics realized.

An overpowering wave of mental pulsation flowed through the catoptric mirrors in the mind of the andreikelon.

Abax could feel the force of the ekroe being provided him by Thisia. It seemed to envelope and swallow him up. The energy emanating from her mind became his own, taking hold of all of his thoughts.

All at once, he sensed an explosion deep within himself. A strong cataigis broke forth into his brain.

Abax began to formulate a message meant for distant Achne.

“An idea is only unknown to those who refuse to understand its meaning. There is no ignorance where the soul wills to know.”

In a few seconds, the transmission ended. It had been sent forth on a wave.

The sender, Abax, felt a sudden ebbing of his metapsychic power.

He wheeled about and exchanged nods with his supplier of mental force.

Now they wanted to return home and get ashore. Both of them had a need to find out the results of this experiment.

Abax slowly moved across the catastroma to where Thisia stood.

“Do you wish to sail back now?” he whispered to her.

“Not yet. I would like to sail out into the sea. I am exhausted by what we did together.”

“Yes, I feel emptied out too,” admitted Abax.

He turned and spoke to Skolex, telling him that they both wished to go out further. In a short while, the boat took them out of sight of land. There was nothing but sea in all directions, on all sides.

Abax stared at the sea, realizing how liquefied everything appeared from the boat they were sailing on.

It is easier to generate clear, transparent thoughts out here on the sea, the andreikelon suddenly came to understand.

That was a valuable lesson of his efforts with the family of metapsychics.

IV.

Supper became a happy celebration that night.

The transmission from the sea had been a perfect success. Achne’s reception had been lucid and complete. There had been no trouble to sending over water. The distance from home had not been a barrier.

Shared joy seized hold of mother, daughters, and the guest who was their tenant. The four of them now set their plans for the coming days. The boat of old Skolex was to be waiting for Abax and Thisia the next morning, as the time-traveler had arranged for before returning ashore.

“We must get enough rest tonight, all of us,” advised Optasia with sober foresight. “Tomorrow will be a very tiring day. The distance from shore will be several times what it happened to be today.”

All of them went to bed early that evening. Thisia and her mother occupied the front bedroom, Achne the rear one behind them, and Abax the parlor that they had agreed to rent to him. That had been the arrangement since Achne suffered her accident on the mountain.

The boarder made a final trip to the water tub behind the cottage, then retired. The one who never slept would be planning and evaluating matters all night long, he realized. He would only pretend to have entered a period of full slumber, which he had no need for at all.

Abax finished his washing and returned toward the cottage. Overhead, a blanket of shining stars twinkled. As he walked through the shadows, the small sound of a footstep caught his attention.

He froze and listened. Then another footstep came to him.

Standing right beside the stone thranion was Achne.

She motioned to him with a hand to approach near her.

“I came out through the kitchen to get myself a last breath of air tonight,” she said in a wavering whisper.

Abax glanced at her legs, then stared into her face.

“I do not at all need the crutches to walk any more,” she said in a cool, even tone.

Her eyes were a shade of turtle green in the evening darkness.

They were as fascinatingly mysterious as before to the boarder from another time.

What should he say to her? Abax asked himself.

He dared not follow impulses that only suited a natural human being.

Thales should not have placed certain living substances in my body tubes, he suddenly realized.

There were emotional forces he could feel but never satisfy inside his artificial veins and arteries.

Abax decided to tell Achne good-night and make his way to his place in the parlor of the family cottage.

The autumnal breeze had become a borelos wind blowing from the north, presaging the advent of winter before too long. It was time for the metapsychic team to attempt genuine overseas transmission and reception.

For over a week, the sail boat owned and controlled by Skolex took ever longer voyages up and down the curving coastline, moving further out into the restless Aegean.

Skolex proved to be a masterful pilot, able to stay well ahead of the wind.

Each day, Achne received a complete message back at the cottage. She remembered their content with precise accuracy and repeated them when Abax and her sister returned home.

At night, the foursome met and grew more excited with each success.

“We shall try the southern poreia next,” decided Skolex one morning.

“It does not suffer the strong tides to the north,” he informed his two passengers. “You will find the sea much smoother there.”

Abax sensed something different in his partner that morning. She was holding a part of her breath in her throat, neither letting it out nor down into her pneumonia or lungs.

What’s wrong with her? he asked himself.

Beyond the sands of the shore, high poplars swayed in the cold breeze.

Does our old pilot have any doubt about what we are up to? wondered Abax, watching Skolex trim the sail and turn his boat southward.

Does he understand what we are up to with our silent metapsychic transmissions?

Has he picked up any clues or hints concerning our strange operations?

Once again, the andreikelon gazed across at Thisia, sitting on the port side of the boat. Why did she seem to be avoiding his eyes? Did her attitude toward him have anything to do with her older sister, Achne?

The craft continued on its course, approaching a rocky coastal area of high, very steep cliffs and crags.

“The northern boreios will be blowing over us soon,” smiled Skolex from the primnesion where he steered, holding the rudder tightly with both hands. “The acroterion of land above us protects the waters we are about to enter. From now on, we will be in the calm of the leeward shore. It will be a special place of quiet, unruffled water, I am certain of that.”

Indeed, the pilot proved to be correct.

The motion of the sea itself disappeared. The north wind subsided and nearly vanished. The boat and its passengers fell under the protection of the high, overhanging headland above them.

Abax, on the sterea side, gave a nod of his head to Thisia, then turned in the direction of the rocks rising straight up from the narrow ribbon of the shore.

This shall be our greatest step forward yet, reasoned Abax. We shall be sending our signal upward, over the cliff tops, into the sky to distant Miletos and the cottage there.

This enterprise will demand a mighty mobilization of our minds. The supporting mental force added to mine by Thisia will make this accomplishment possible.

Together, we shall succeed in reaching through the universal fluid to the receiving mind of Achne.

Yes, he told himself, this will be our greatest transmission yet.

We shall open up new routes and channels of mental communication that will change how future generations live.

Abax felt the pulsating waves originating in his assistant, the younger sister.

It was now time for him to formulate his metapsychic message.

V.

Mother and elder daughter sat together on the stone bench behind the cottage.

For a long time neither of them said anything, until Achne began to feel an icy chill over all of her skin.

“I am receiving a ripple,” she told Optasia. “The message should be reaching me very soon.”

“I must stay quiet from now on,” muttered the older female.

Achne closed her eyes, concentrating her mind on what she was certain was coming.

A series of vibrations shook her to the core. It was going to be a cataigis storm greater than any she had ever experienced before.

This stream of sphyxic pulsation was wide and deep, with unprecedented force and frequency. She was entering a hazardous cataclysm, far beyond any undergone so far. The quantity of waves included was a record amount.

Terrible quaking shook her body and mind.

She was falling into a whirlpool of nonmaterial fluid. Round and round, ever faster, spun her mind.

Achne opened herself to the transmission being sent her by Abax.

Skolex did not believe what he was seeing in his sailing vessel.

From the first, this pair had seemed odd and suspicious to him. Both of the passengers said and did jarring things. Up to now, he had ignored signs of paraphrenic, abnormal behavior. After all, the tall blond fellow was paying him generously well for his time and services. But the veteran of the sea had gradually realized what an enormous risk he was taking with these two weird individuals.

The male passenger stood on the starboard side of the deck, his head leaning over the carina, his gaze fixed on the towering cliffs above them.

The back of Skolex was pointed toward the dark-haired woman on the port side. She had faced him from behind, as on all the previous voyages they had made.

Was this hocus-pocus of some sort? wondered the pilot.

A ritual of a secret latreia, the magic of a foreign cult, of a threskeia with strange practices and beliefs?

Was that what was happening? A forbidden form of worship?

The woman suddenly leaned backwards, as if about to fall out of the boat.

Skolex began to fear for the safety of all of them as he witnessed what was happening.

Up to now, he had been patient, indulging their curious, odd antics. But what if one of the pair should cause his boat to capsize? What if a disaster resulted and harm occurred to one of them?

As she bent herself back over the edge of the carina, he yelled at her.

‘For the safety of all of us, it is not wise to move about like that on a boat. Please, do not do so. It is dangerous and hazardous.”

Both metapsychic passengers turned toward the olax rudder, where the pilot was steering a backward but steady course through the water.

Transmission had been interrupted by his unexpected intervention and warning.

The message meant for sending had not been transmitted.

Mental pulsation had started, but not carried forth to completion.

What now? wondered both Abax and Thisia. The two exchanged desperate looks full of apprehension and confusion.

How was this unforeseen interruption by Skolex to be dealt with and overcome?

How was the broken transmission going to be rescued and restored? they both asked themselves.

Optasia sensed the sudden nexis before her daughter did.

After all, she was genuinely the more sensitive of the two of them sitting behind the family cottage. She it was who had trained her two girls in the art of metapsychic resonance. The unforeseen, unexpected rupture in transmission came first to her, then to Achne, sitting right beside her.

A terrifying crisis came about in a single moment.

The mother attempted to focus all the power of her mind upon filling the sudden chaos that was forming and starting to spread.

There must be no vacuum, no gap, no interruption or pause. She realized at once the danger inevitable if nothing was done by her.

It was the duty of Thisia to bolster Abax and help him recover the force behind his transmission.

But all at once Achne opened her eyes and moved her lips.

“Forgive me, my beloved, for I have been unfaithful to you,” she dreamily muttered. “I am guilty of the vilest, lowest treachery.”

There followed an uncomfortable pause. Then the mind of Achne, the receiving metapsychic, overflowed with a thunderous wave of incoming energy.

Now trembling with dread, Optasia leaned her head toward her swooning daughter.

Could such insane words be flowing out of the inner mind of Achne? the mother asked herself. Were these messages coming forth out of past time through some inherited mental memory? How could anything so impossible happen?

The face of the older woman became pale and almost transparent. She let go of the final wave of force within her personal reservoir.

She made herself the final spoke of a circle which she sensed that she had to create.

Optasia ordered herself to clear out the minds of three others: her two daughters and her strange tenant. She was the one who had to put an end to whatever was blocking the long-range communication.

Thisia could feel a new power flowing into her from faraway.

It filled the center of her mind with explosive force, with ecrexis.

Mother! Mother! What are you doing to me? What is about to happen?

Abax realized that his partner was in a critical condition, that she had gone beyond herself. Something horrible could occur unless he immediately moved in and acted.

Without any further thought, he rushed toward the endangered woman, rocking the delicately balanced sailboat from side to side.

At the moment he reached out to give support to the tottering Thisia, she fell backwards, striking the back of her head against the keel of the boat.

But this fall of her body did not take Thisia to the catastroma floor, but threw her over the edge and into the sea itself.

Skolex hurled himself forward in order to avert fatal disaster.

Abax at once came to that side in order to search the waters for signs and traces of what had happened to the capsized body.

The boat continued to surge and roll in violent spasms. Water poured over the carina, splashing the deck and scaphos on all sides.

Abax made a desperate jump into the sea, hunting there for any sign of life.

Could a human being drown so swiftly? he wondered.

The andreikelon clenched his teeth as he imagined the choking and strangulation that might have occurred instantly to his metapsychic partner, Thisia.

How could she have died in a fraction of a moment? Is such drowning possible? Did the interruption in their cooperation make it impossible for the young woman to think rationally and save herself? Had she lost her consciousness and fallen into a timeless trance of some sort?

Somewhere, down there in the deep waters, lay the unmoving body of Thisia.

He swam back to the boat, surrendering to what now appeared inevitable.

The andreikelon, thankful that he had been taught to swim by Thales, climbed aboard with the assistance of Skolex.

“That woman is gone for good,” sadly mumbled the old pilot. “This area of the sea is too deep and treacherous to hope that her body can ever be recovered. There is nothing at all that we can do here.

“Remember, I tried to warn both of you about the factor of balancing oneself when control of the boat is in imminent danger of buffeting and capsizing. One has to keep in mind where one happens to be and the never-ending hazards and dangers involved in sailing this way.”

Dripping with sea water, Abax shivered for a short time. His whole body was soaked and water-logged.

“What do we do now?” he asked the mariner.

“Back to Miletos, of course,” answered Skolex as stoically as possible.

VI.

Although the time-traveler tried to move with speed, his journey back to the agroika on the edge of the city was painfully long and difficult.

How was he going to reveal the fate of Thisia to her mother and sister?

As he approached the cottage, Optasia appeared at the front entrance, alone and bent over with care.

There had been no opportunity for him to transmit any message to Achne by metadosic means. The survivors would demand to be told what had happened to the missing Thisia.

Achne was not in the field behind the home. Where is she? wondered Abax.

Perhaps she is inside, resting from today’s tiring exertions.

But now came the grave, difficult task of explaining why the other sister had not returned home with him, what her tragic ending meant, how all trace of her existence had disappeared and vanished.

Abax advanced at a slow, deliberate speed toward the open door where the mother who was oikodespoina stood waiting to talk to him.

She pronounced a single word, using it as a question.

“Thisia…”

“Drowned in the deep water of the sea,” slowly uttered the boarder. “She cannot be found or recovered, I fear. There is no trace of her visible anywhere.”

Optasia, not blinking or giving any sign of panic, stared blankly at him without any sign of emotion of any sort.

“Achne is in the back of the cottage,” she murmured at last. “Follow me.”

The pair went through the oithousa, then the kitchen. As they came outdoors into the late afternoon sun, Abax caught sight of the young metapsychic sitting on the stone bench as if she were an unmoving statue of solid Ionian marble.

He glanced at the mother as the two moved toward Achne.

“She does not see or hear,” whispered Optasia. “Her condition is that of lethargos or catalepsis.”

They immediately stepped in front of the sitting agalma. Abax carefully examined the strange, motionless figure of the young woman he had fallen in love with. Her skin appeared glassy smooth, nearly inanimate.

Was she even able to take a breath of air? the andreikelon asked himself.

Looking deeply into her green eyes, he could make out something that looked like a cloudy curtain of some kind.

The mother spoke, disconcerting him.

“Her mind is no longer awake,” she murmured with difficulty. “And I am completely unable to take her back to the cottage by myself. I have been waiting for you to be here to assist me with Achne.”

“I will lift her up from the bench, then carry her to the back door,” volunteered the time-traveler from another age.

Abax bent down and took hold of the elder daughter around her waist, then pulled her upward. He found her body to be surprisingly heavy. She was no havet easy to raise up or to move.

Optasia went ahead of him and Achne, leading the way to the rear bedroom, where the latter’s body was gently laid down on the cot she had slept in the previous night.

The one who had brought her in from outdoors stared at her delicate form for a short while, then turned to the mother.

“We have to talk,” he softly informed her. “There is much that needs to be examined and explored. We must come to some shared understanding of what has happened.”

As the pair moved toward the kitchen, the tenant came to the sudden realization that he would very soon have to leave this point in the flowing stream of time. The moment for him to return to the when he had come from was near, Abax was compelled to acknowledge.

There was no more for him to do in this here-and-now, he recognized with all his mental force and capacity.

As soon as her daughter was placed into the cot she had been using, Optasia began to whisper to the boarder.

“We should have told you what we were up to, Abax. But we kept the truth from you out of a certain mistrust. What might you decide to do in reaction to learning what we were making as secret as we could?

“You see, the ultimate, final source and spring of metapsychic force happened to be my own mind.”

She stopped for several seconds, examining his face and his eyes in order to try to catch whatever effect this might be having upon his emotions.

“In a sense, I acted as the true reservoir for both of my dear daughters,” she continued. “Eventually, I would have informed you of our cooperation in affecting all the operations that you became involved in.

“Whenever any transmission or reception occurred, my added power of mind was the central, primary influence.

“Can you understand and accept what I was doing, without it being announced or known by you?”

The time-traveler nodded his head a single time.

Optasia, feeling a renewed confidence, continued talking.

“I knew from the beginning how much Achne was drawn to you. It was clearly visible to my eyes and thoughts. I perceived that you and she shared a similar attraction to each other.

“But I also came to understand that Thisia had also been attracted to you, as did her sister. Both sisters fell into trances that centered upon you.

“An emotional triangle formed, with you as its core.

“I trembled inside, for I knew from my own experience where such a situation could lead. Let me tell you about the hidden, mysterious secret of our family.

“My late husband had a secret lover whom I found out about. I, of course, raged inside myself with jealous feeling and revulsion. How could I make him feel pain similar to what I did? It seemed to me that there was only one way to do so.

“I decided that I had to overflow and flood his mind with psychic energy when he asked me to act as supply source for him. My brutal intent was to cause a terrible cataclysm and pulsation within my husband’s mind. He had to suffer horrible punishment and learn what it meant to betray my love for him.

“That was my plan for just retribution. He was to receive a painful penalty for his disloyalty to me. That made me feel justified in carrying out a very cruel program against him.

“But my scheme did not work out as I had thought it would.

“An extreme projection of my metapsychic reserves emptied my mind of all my mental strength and capacity.

“I was soon made unable to maintain the pressure of my inner thought. As a result, a gigantic chasm developed inside myself. This grew into a major rip opening up in the envelope around my mental operations.

“A large gap developed between myself and the outside world around on all sides of me.”

She stopped to catch her breath, then continued on.

“Let me put it this way: when my transmission of force suddenly halted due to exhaustion, his inner mind exploded under a storm of signals from all sides and directions. That was what overwhelmed him: waves came from many other points in time. The recent past and the distant past, all at once. It was as if the present had been suspended for the duration of the terrible gap in my transmission. The interruption was very brief in length, only a moment of so. But it placed my husband into permanent catalepsy, from which he died in a short while.

“I lied to my daughters and everyone else, telling them that an unexpected heart stoppage had taken his life.”

At this point, Abax decided he had to say something.

“So, Thisia was attempting to overwhelm her sister through me, flooding her mind with a giant charge of force that would be totally punishing.”

“There was no way for her to know that a gap would result, through which transmission from another time would be certain to strike Achne and destroy her mind.”

Optasia went on to tell him the words that the daughter had said before she blacked out.

“That is the message I myself emitted to my husband at my last linking. It had to hit Achne through the ruptured psychic liquidity.”

“Across and through time!”

“Yes.”

“So, a metapsychic is not a prisoner of the present,” he said with a sigh.

“Such an opening in the world liquid is rare, but it happened to my husband, and today to my older daughter. And I have also lost Thisia, as I did him years ago.”

“Achne will not recover?” he inquired, his body shaking.

“Never,” groaned the mother. “She shall soon be gone for good.”

And I as well, thought the boarder who had traveled from another time.

That night, when his landlady was sound asleep, he had to be returning to the age he had started his journey from. Back to the Milatos where he served as butler to the one who had created him.

He had an important discovery to reveal to Thales, that time did not hold all thoughts firmly fixed and immovable, but was an infinite sea without limiting boundaries or barriers.

VII.

The narration given by Abax of what had happened in the past was long, slow, and detailed.

As the time-traveling andreikelon finished it, Thales appeared occupied with thoughts that absorbed his total attention at the expense of everything else in his mind. His butler could see that he was considering some important, fundamental question and was in a state of absolute concentration on it.

“The area of the metapsychic is extremely wild and uncontrollable,” asserted Thales with equilibrium. “A network of affiliated metapsychics would be difficult to set up and manage. But why should human beings not attempt to make such a system operate with success? Who can today predict what results might be produced by long-distance transmission and reception of thoughts?”

Thales seemed absent for a brief while, but then turned his head and stared directly at Abax, standing in front of his grapheon desk.

“I feel my age advancing in years, my dear Abax. It is now that I must start making provision for when I shall no longer be a living person. Here is what I have decided must be done: I have to teach you how to repair and renovate yourself. There will be a need for periodic overhauls of your fabricated mental mirrors. I am certain you can be trained to carry out these specialized tasks successfully. But my remaining time may turn out to be short, so we have to hurry with the development of your skills and knowledge.”

The andreikelon replied with self-confidence. “I think that I have the potential to accomplish what will become necessary in time,” he declared.

“And you shall at once begin to carry out and continue my explorations for more and new knowledge. It will be up to you to accomplish what I might have myself done, were I immortal.

“Death will inevitably strike me down. But you shall survive indefinitely. An endless duration is possible for a synthetic being like you.

“So, the obligation will rest upon you to advance the growth of knowledge. That is the mission I place upon you for all future, foreseeable time. Study, investigate, and spread knowledge. Never rest in the unending quest for enlightenment. Can you promise me that, Abax?”

“Of course, sir. That shall be my destiny, to carry out what you envision, to expand the area and the boundaries of what is known.”

Thales smiled. “You shall not wear out. A youthful newness shall always characterize you and your nature. I intend to teach you how to create and construct other andreikelons. When the need for them arises in a short while, you will have the knowledge and ability to establish a community of beings like yourself.

“I want you to have a society of partners who will work and cooperate with you. As a large group, andreikelons will be in service to the humans of this world. My people will never be alone. There will be a multitude who resemble you, Abax. They will exist beside all future generations of those like me.”

“That shall be my future, then,” vowed Abax to Thales. “To carry out and fulfill the elevated dreams that arise and exist in your mind, sir.”

“And such high dreams will come to you as well,” murmured the philosopher. “Of that I am thoroughly convinced. Your mission will be to discover the hidden nature of all things, and to figure out how to make practical application of what you find out.

“For example, all that you have uncovered about metapsychic communication can now be given tangible use in the world of Greek city-states and settlement communities.

“As new andreikelons are made and move forward, they should become the basis of a unified messaging system between the Greek inhabitants of a multitude of separate places and locations.

“Your next mission, Abax, will be to draw the world of our time together through an organized network of andreikelons with the most advanced psychic talents and capabilities possible.

“That will become your destiny, dear Abax.”

The Andreikelon Part III. The Metapsychic

30 Jun

I.

The arms of Achne flayed outward. She rocked from side to side. A terrible quaking motion seized hold of her entire body. The shaking activity grew greater every second.

Gaping in alarm, Abax took a step forward toward her.

Is this eruption a necessary part of the transmission? he asked himself.

In a fraction of a moment, Achne fell to the ground in a swoon.

He rushed forward to where she lay, bending down and taking hold of the psychic’s body. With an intense effort, the andreikelon lifted her from the ground.

“Are you awake?” he asked in terror.

Her green eyes opened wide, as if awakening from a long, unnatural sleep of unusual length and depth.

“The transmission has been completed,” she pronounced from inside her throat. “We can now return home. Our task here is finished.”

He helped her rise to her feet, then held her delicate body upright with both his strong, sinewy arms.

“How do you feel now?” he softly inquired.

“I lost my equilibrium,” explained Achne, still breathing quickly.

“The exertion that I had to make in my mind overwhelmed my while body, so that my head spun with dizziness and disorientation. But at present my balance is returning and I am again in full control. You can let me stand on my own, if you wish, Abax.”

He removed one hand, then the other.

The metapsychic leaned forward, then steadied herself. First her right foot advanced a little, then the left one.

“I believe I can walk by myself,” she asserted with confidence.

Each step by her grew stronger. The traveler, close behind, followed as she descended the grassy hillock. Soon they reached the familiar street that traversed the open farmers’ market.

Achne turned her head back and spoke to Abax.

“You shall now learn the scope of my mind’s power,” she boasted, a smile of triumph on her pale lips.

But as she turned her head forward again, her torso suddenly lurched to the left.

Fearing that she might take a tumble, Abax hurried forward, extending his right arm to her.

“Take hold of me, Achne, so I can provide you support.”

Glancing into his face, she did just that.

The pair proceeded on to the family cottage. Achne continued leaning on the arm of the stranger who had entered their life as a boarder.

Optasia approached with motherly concern on her dark face, leaving the younger daughter sitting on the wooden arbor bench.

“Achne!” she cried out. “What has happened to you?”

The tenant, supporting his companion with his left arm, aided her weak, wobbly steps toward her anxious mother.

The two walked on slowly, carefully.

“I allowed my waves out too soon, too rapidly,” moaned Achne in a faint, disappointed voice. “The strain on my body was just too great.”

Optasia turned to Abax and spoke directly to him.

“Take her into the parlor,” the mother commanded. “The girl must lie down and restore her strength.”

The traveler led Achne into the cottage through the front door. Optasia accompanied immediately behind them. Thisia entered last.

As soon as the exhausted metapsychic lay down on the pallet that Abax had been using, she closed her eyes tightly shut. The other three stood about her, quietly watching her breath.

Finally, Achne opened her eyes and looked about with evident surprise, as if waking from a long, deep sleep.

“What happened?” she gulped. “Oh!, I remember now. The discharge emptied me of all the energy I had stored up. It all occurred too fast for you to be able to replenish me, mother.”

All of a sudden, Achne stopped and turned her eyes on Abax, as if checking to see how he was reacting to the secret she had allowed to slip out.

Optasia then turned to him and spoke.

“My daughter just referred to how one metapsychic operator can supply support to another. That is what I was doing for her today, though you did not know of it until now. My transmission of force was only intended to strengthen Achne for the gigantic strain that she faced. My plan was to inform you about what we were doing once you saw for yourself how much Achne is capable of accomplishing as a communicator.”

Abax stared blankly at the mother.

“You were sending energy to her?”

“Yes, I was the spring, the source of the extra power that she needed to transmit at such a distance. My own mind was sending a large amount of force to her as she was transmitting thoughts to Thisia.”

All at once, the latter broke in.

“I received my sister’s message with ease,” she said with pride. “Shall I give it to you now?”

Her mother nodded for her to go on and do so.

“The mind is vaster in dimensions than the extent of the heavens,” recited Thisia in a loud, ringing tone.

Abax turned to Achne, lying on the floor pallet.

“You transmitted as you said you would.” His eyes turned to the mother. “With the generous assistance of this magnificent spring of power, your mother.”

Upon hearing this, Optasia grinned with satisfaction.

“Let us leave for now, so that Achne can rest in perfect quiet,” she proposed. “We can talk all of this over behind the cottage, out in the open.”

The mother sat beside Abax on the arbor bench, while Thisia stayed inside with her slumbering sister.

“I do not know whether my mind possesses sufficient capacity, but I would like to test my mental potential, madam,” said the tenant to his landlady in a humble, beseeching voice.

“You can never know that for sure unless you attempt to send and receive messages,” she murmured in a low, even tone. “I suppose that you have seen and know many of the methods applied by Achne in what she carried out today.”

“The skill, then, is not wholly an inherited quality?” he inquired of her.

The eyes of Optasia became clouded, as if filled with a mist.

“All of us were born part of the great liquid enormity called the cosmos. That is where our existence is: in a sea of never-changing flux. But only a few ever connect themselves through thought to any other of the entities. The possibilities of metapsychic life remain forever undiscovered, unused by most persons who come to life.”

“How can I learn to send and receive messages?” he asked her with excitement. “That is what I aspire to achieve with all my being.”

The widow appeared to look away for a moment or so, then stared at him directly and intently.

“You must begin with simple, easy exercises, Abax. The distance will be short at first, but then grow greater each time. My daughters will help you progress and improve as fast as you can develop your capability.

“Whatever natural potential you have will be enlarged and enhanced. We know how to accomplish that, but the main effort will have to remain yours.”

“Good!” jubilantly said the boarder. “When can I start?”

“As soon as Achne has fully recovered. She will accompany you and serve as your immediate source.”

“My source of mental force and energy?”

“Yes. Just as I supply her mind, she shall likewise furnish yours. That will facilitate your success.”

“And Thisia?” he asked her.

“She will continue as the receiver, taking in whatever is transmitted from a distance.”

Abax smiled broadly. “All is settled, then.”

Optasia bent forward, lowering her voice to a whisper.

“I beg you to be careful and not overtax the metapsychic supply or capacity of Achne. This work must never become burdensome or stressful for her.”

“I promise to exercise moderation and reason,” swore the andreikelon. “There shall be no excessive strain on either of your daughters.”

“Good.” she concluded with a smile of solid satisfaction.

The two of them sat in silence for a considerable time.

After a long empty interlude, Thisia appeared from the rear door of the cottage and approached them.

“Achne is now awake and says she is hungry to eat,” she called out to her mother.

Optasia rose to her feet and headed toward the cottage. Abax decided to do the same.

II.

Success came immediately to the andreikelon.

The next morning, Achne took Abax to the open produce market from where he sent a mental message of only three words to Thisia, sitting and waiting behind her family’s cottage. The transmission proved to have been correctly received by the younger sister.

As soon as Abax and Achne returned home, they found out that the boarder had proven that he possessed the potential that could be trained and developed.

The lunch shared with the three women of the family was a happy occasion. Optasia, Thisia, and Achne congratulated their tenant on his initial victory in the field of metapsychic communication.

The following morning, Abax and Achne agreed to climb the hillock beyond the produce market and attempt a longer, more complex test of his powers from that higher point.

“This is where you witnessed me sending out my thoughts,” laughed Achne once the pair reached the elevation. “Today, it will be your task to do the same, Abax.”

He grinned at her. “Yes, I am ready to attempt transmitting three whole sentences down to your sister outside the cottage. My hope, of course, is that everything goes well and that I make the right mental connection to Thisia, who is waiting and expecting my thoughts to reach her mind.”

“I am confident that you have the ability of mind to complete this task, Abax.”

The latter’s eyes shone with emotion. “I make you and your family a pledge. If everything proceeds as we plan, I shall purchase a large ornitheon for all of us to roast and enjoy for our evening meal later today, when we return home.

“What do you say to that, Achne? Is a roasted chicken a good prize to look ahead to?”

“It certainly is!” she told him with evident feeling. “You will accomplish much more in coming days, I predict.

“I foresee you surpassing all of us. Just wait and see.”

The pair exchanged encouraging looks of confidence and mutual trust.

It took only several minutes for Abax to concentrate his thoughts on the elongated message he had formulated for this transmission.

As soon as he completed his projection of ideas, he turned to Achne and spoke to her.

“Shall we start to return now?” he asked her.

“Yes, I could see that you labored with enormous exertion and concentration, Abax. You must be exhausted, both psychically and mentally from the colossal effort it took you to transmit your thoughts.

“If you are ready, we shall start climbing down at once.”

“You have been an astounding guide and advisor to me, Achne,” he told her in a warm tone. “Anything that I accomplished today was due to the assistance that you provided me, especially in terms of the waves of energy that I felt coming into my mind from yours.

“I thank you, and will forever be grateful and thankful for your aid this day.”

Achne seemed to be on the verge of saying something in return to the emotion he was showing to her, but instead restrained herself. She was too uncertain to attempt expressing anything she had not considered or thought out. It was easier to keep her words to herself.

The two climbed down to the farmers’ market, where Abax purchased a large chicken with the coins that he continued to carry.

“Mother and Thisia will be happy and surprised at what you are bringing home with you,” said Achne merrily. “But perhaps you are spending too much and need to watch your money, as we have to do.”

“I have enough for such expenses,” he muttered. “No need to worry about that.”

As they approached the cottage, Thisia was visible emerging from the back door. She ran toward her sister and their boarder, shouting out to both of them.

“It was a marvelous success, because I received an entire message of three entire sentences,” happily called out the younger sister.

The three females worked in the cottage kitchen preparing the chicken and other dishes for the planned celebration of their tenant’s spectacular success that day.

As the sun set over Miletos harbor, the foursome began their meal in the kitchen, finishing outside behind the cottage on stools brought out for the evening.

This was where Abax laid out his plans for the days ahead.

“I am interested in whether metapsychic communication is affected by altitude in any way,” he stated to the others. “What is the nearest mountain to the city of Miletos? I ask myself. Could it be used to find out the answer to this question that bothers me?”

Optasia was the one who answered him. “Mt. Hypsoma, which lies to the east of us,” she confidently told him.

“Is it hard to climb?” he inquired, already confident about the subject.

“Not at all,” said the widow. “Not at all. Many Miletians take a pathway that rises up to the summit. It is a well-worn trail and not too steep in any section, I have been told.

“Why is it that you ask?” she said, staring at her boarder.

Abax turned to Achne, sitting beside her mother.

“Would you be willing to accompany me to the top of that mountain?” he asked her. “I would like to transmit my thoughts from the peak, to find out whether increased height affects such an operation in any way. My plan is to send a message aimed at this particular spot, close to the cottage. It would occur at a particular hour, at noon, for instance.

“What do you think of my idea, Achne?”

“I am perfectly ready to act as your supporting assistant, Abax,” she informed him with enthusiasm in her green eyes. “Yes, it will be a very hopeful project for me to be a part of.”

“It will be a tough, trying task for both of you,” noted the mother, Optasia. “I think that all of us should go in for sleep and rest early this evening. The plan that you pictured for us will be a demanding one, no doubt about that.

“You will both need all your strength and energy for such a major task.”

Thisia had said not a word about what had been described and outlined by the traveler who had come from some distant place.

Abax, a being that never experienced anything resembling what was called sleep, thought about and planned his coming adventure all that night.

III.

Bushes, brambles, thickets, and grassy weeds grew thinner as the mountain path ascended. The track that the two followed became narrower and fainter as they progressed toward the peak.

Abax carried a small shoulder pack of cloth that contained some bread and cheese for the hikers.

Neither of them said anything for a considerable time as they walked. The sun rose and filled the valley below them with bright yellowish light.

Only when they reached a ledge looking down over Miletos did Achne propose that they stop for a short rest.

Both of them sat down on a large white cliff of puregenic rock.

In the distance, the city and its harbor lay spread close to the blue white Aegean. Abax removed the knapsack he had been carrying, offering food to his companion in the climb.

“I am not hungry yet,” she responded. “It is best we get to the summit as soon as we can. My sister will be awaiting the message that you transmit down to her.”

“But let us rest at least a little,” gently said the andreikelon. “We must both preserve as much energy and strength as we can, so that our minds will be free to perform properly at the right moment, which should be as close to noon as we can make it.”

“Have you decided what will be in the message that you shall be sending today?” she inquired.

He considered a moment, then replied.

“I am thinking about what is to be in the future, Achne. The city of Miletos already has several dozen colonies about the Aegean and the Euxine seas. What if, some coming day, they were mentally connected with channels of metapsychic thought? What if there were professional adepts acting as senders and receivers in all these many, separated places around the seas?

“Our colonial system would not have to depend upon only sea vessels for connections. All the many settlements would remain in close contact with their sister cities and colonies, as well as the central hub of Miletos.

“Likewise, all the towns of Ionia would be in constant, uninterrupted communication. And this could some day be extended to all the Greek communities and states, or even to the entire world!”

His hazel eyes grew large as he contemplated the fantastic theme of universal interconnection through psychic thought.

“Do you believe it could be so?” asked Achne, suddenly breathless with excitement.

Abax gazed searchingly into her lively green eyes.

“Why not, my friend? Look how far we have already advanced, you and I, in this business of thought transmission. You have added your mental power to mine, so that I was able to enlarge my scope far beyond anything already present within me.

“I sense that what has so far been attained is only the beginning. That is why I plan an entire series of attempts at exploring the possibilities of our two minds working together, Achne.

“I want to find out how far my transmissions and sendings can reach, and what sort of conditions are most favorable and conducive to success.

“All this will be important for discovering what can happen in future times. Think of the consequences for all the many nations, countries, groups, and individual persons if they can be tied together by thought! Everyone everywhere will enjoy a multiplication of what is possible for them to accomplish.”

Achne seemed, for an instant, to shake and shiver at the dimensions of the ideas forming within his mind.

The two of them finished eating and Abax rose to his feet.

“There is no time to lose,” he reminded Achne. “We must reach the summit by noon.”

Abax placed the pack back onto his shoulders and took the lead on the path taking them upward. Vegetation grew rarer, rocks became larger and more numerous. Burning light rays fell from the sun-drenched sky. The steepness of the mountain’s ridges grew greater and greater.

Hearts beat faster in both climbers.

The andreikelon felt thundering pulsation with his synthetic, modified heart inherited from an Egyptian conoptic jar.

Hammering pulsation sounded in his ears. His muscles and nerves grew tense.

Movement became labored for both trekkers as their breathing quickened.

Above and ahead loomed the rocky crown of Mt. Hypsoma.

A final, desperate rush took them to the rounded, flat summit.

“See, it was not beyond our abilities to attain this high point!” rejoiced Abax. “We are now at the height that we gazed up at. Look down and see all of Miletos spread out as if on a sheet of papyrus. The city and the harbor appear like a miniature micrographia, a place where tiny insects dwell, not human beings.”

Achne positioned herself so as to view the panoramic scene below.

“The view is incredible!” she declared with glee. “It is as if Miletos is ethereal and unreal.”

Her companion leaned closer, suddenly taking her hand between his two.

“When we consider how ephemeral time is, Achne, all that may exist becomes temporary and superficial. Everything everywhere is impermanent.”

At that moment, a sense of the insignificance of the present moment came into his mind.

The future was endless, Abax realized as the fluid of life surged through his organs and inner channels. Every cellular unit within him became energized by an unprecedented, unfamiliar emotion rising in him.

The traveler from another time sensed an unidentified impulse throb through his assembled physical body.

Abax had from the beginning known and recognized that he lacked the capability to procreate like a natural human. Yet he felt a primitive urge originating in his body’s sarx, reflected in what was passing simultaneously through his mirror-like mind.

Nothing more than that, a mere impulse, but not possible to ignore or deny.

This invisible force was powerful enough to inspire the emotion of love that he now came to possess toward his climbing partner, Achne.

He thought to himself: the mind of Thales built into me the ability to perceive, understand, and share human passion. I am now creating within my thoughts what a man might also think and feel.

For a short while, the two looked at each other closely, both of them lying and resting in the summit grass.

Abax was first to speak, ending the long period of thought shared by both.

“Your sister will be expecting the message we are to send her,” he said in a subdued, calm tone. “Should we now proceed and complete the transmission that she is waiting to receive?”

Achne roused herself, sitting upright. “I am ready to act as your reservoir of additional mental power. You can start to transmit the moment you feel prepared for the effort.”

The traveler rose to his feet and faced down toward the city and the harbor. He did not see Achne now, but felt her presence near himself.

His mind concentrated its attention on the words of his message, slowly going over them one-by-one, sentence by sentence.

Abax felt the wave coming into him from her mind. It was increasing the force within himself, supplying more for his own approaching transmission outward.

In seconds, the task was accomplished. Both of them knew and recognized the deed had been finished. Mental tension declined rapidly in both minds.

Abax abruptly pivoted around, again facing Achne.

“Let us return home and find out what the result was,” he suggested to her.

Achne gave a nod, then followed behind him without a word.

An unexpected breeze from the seaside coast far below brought cooling relief to the two descending hikers. Both of them were anxious to receive confirmation of what they trusted they had achieved that day.

Abax descended the path with quick, lively steps, knowing that there was someone immediately behind, following his example.

Far below, the white marble of the city’s acropolis shone with a sharp glisten. Ships and boats plied the waters of Lions’ Bay in a variety of different directions.

Soon the two of us will be back at the poor, small cottage once again, the andreikelon told himself. I am certain that we shall be rejoicing at another successful transmission, his thoughts concluded.

All at once, Abax heard an unexpected, intrusive sound.

In the moment it took him to stop and turn about, he realized what the noise had been

An accidental stumble, a misstep, had brought Achne down to the ground.

Having fallen off the pathway, she lay prone at the bottom of a tiny gorge.

The sudden fall had caused her to roll down a rocky ravine, badly scraping the skin of her right leg.

He climbed down hurriedly to the fold she lay in, injured and obviously helpless.

“Achne!” he shouted in panic as he carefully made his way down to her. “How did this happen to you?”

As he descended to where she lay, an explanation came forth out of her mouth.

“Somehow, I lost my footing and balance on the path. I stumbled and my right ankle twisted about. It hurts me badly.”

She leaned forward and rubbed the injured limb where it had been damaged.

“Do you feel a lot of pain?” he anxiously asked, stooping beside her sprawled out body. “Tell me if you have any feeling around the area you fell on.”

Her green eyes revealed desperate discomfort resulting from the trauma of the fall and then the injury.

“I am afraid to try to move my right leg,” she suddenly moaned. “The pain is horrible. I have never had such a torturing feeling in my body.”

“It is excruciating?” asked Abax, looking down at the injured leg.

“Incredible,” she said with a grimace of pain. “It is impossible for me to stand it much longer. Every time I try to move, it feels as if someone is pulling apart all my bones and muscles. Every nerve and muscle in me is being torn to pieces. I don’t know how long I can stand anything like this.”
that
He knelled over her lower legs, staring at them with careful focus and intense attention.

“Do not try to move, Achne,” he directed her. “I must examine how badly your right ankle may be twisted. It will only be a quick look to calculate how badly damaged area is.”

With both his hands, he felt along her thin, smooth ankle. An unusual, surprising warmth became evident to him instantly, giving him a clear idea of the seriousness of her injury.

“Your skin is hot and swollen,” he solemnly announced to Achne. “I must get you home as soon as possible. That is our highest priority, at this moment.”

“I cannot walk, Abax,” she said with alarm. “That was plain to me from the moment I fell. And it would be too difficult for you to carry me down this steep mountain trail. So, should we try to send for help from others?

“My position here is a very awkward one, I can see that with my own eyes. A mental message cannot be transmitted from this low on the ground, when a sender is lying prone like I am. No, any words have to be sent out by you.”

“By me?” exclaimed the shaken andreikelon. “I doubt whether I yet have the skill or knowledge for anything like that. Do I dare make such a call for assistance on my own, Achne?”

“Yes, you do,” she asserted. “I know you have the talent to carry that out. Right now, we must make a test of your capability. Do not be too concerned about immediate success. I can still provide mental force and support to you.

“But it is you who must make an immediate transmission to my sister, Thisia. Do not be afraid to attempt it. I know that you can reach her and give the needed message. My sister and my mother must be told what has happened to me. They are able to summon some of our neighbors who live close by our cottage. They will certainly be willing to come and rescue me.

“Will you try to reach my sister, Abax?”

“Of course,” whispered the time-traveler.

Achne instructed him where and how to stand, on a craggy cliff overlooking the city far below.

She ordered him to concentrate his mind on a specific sentence calling for help for a serious injury that needed immediate medical care.

“Have no concern, Abax, for I am an experienced operator with a lot of metapsychic strength and power. Yet your mind rest and lean upon mind. I will serve you as a reservoir and spring. The combined metadosis that we create together will a loud, clear signal, one that will reach Thisia and my mother, both of them, whatever they may be doing at the time.

“You have to relax and allow me to enter through your ears, to your inner mind. We shall add together our energies into a single, magnified mental wave.”

Their mighty joint effort took them only a few moments of time to organize.

Within seconds, Achne stopped her agonized effort with abruptness,

“That should be sufficient,” she murmured to her partner. “I can tell that the message has been received and understood.”

Abax swiftly turned around to her with astonishment. “How can you know?” he asked her in puzzlement.

She suddenly smiled. “Mother has signaled me to stay where I am. You see, she is a master in mental communication. As soon as Thisia obtained your message, mother herself intercepted it and started to transmit back. She now assures me that help will come to us in a very short time.”

The newest metapsychic took hold of her right hand. “We must be patient and await them,” he told her with unconcealed tenderness.

In time, two men from the neighborhood where Optasia and her daughters lived appeared from below. They carried a small litter made of canvass and wood. They put it down next to Achne and lifted her onto it.

As the two neighbors transported her in their improvised litter, Abax followed close behind, his eyes fixed on the injured metapsychic who appeared to have a bewitching influence on the emotions in his mind.

IV.

Optasia ordered the wounded one placed on a cot in her daughters’ sleeping room. She then proceeded to treat the twisted ankle with salves and ointments that she was familiar with and kept hold of for such occasions.

The boarder, exhausted and overwhelmed, followed Thisia into the kitchen where she had prepared some food for the returning hikers.

“She will get better now that she is under mother’s care,” said the younger sister, pouring him a cup of red-black wine kept in a gigantic jug.

Abax sat down at the table and took his first drink from the cup.

All of a sudden, he recalled something important to him.

“The message that we sent from the mountain, Thisia. Did you receive the words that your sister and I were transmitting from up there?”

“Of course,” she replied. “But it was not at all what I would expect from her. It was so unusual an strange.”

Her face seemed to darken into a threatening thundercloud.

Abax studied her, then spoke as gently as he could.

“What was it that Achne said to you from her inner mind?” he carefully inquired.

Overcoming her hesitation, Thisia went on to tell him that.

“My sister described the marvelous speed of divine Eros. How his arrows travel faster than a ray of light. She said that even the ceryx of Zeus or the winged feet of Hermes were not as swift as Eros. Her words came to me fast and were hard for me to follow. I never expected such a message from Achne. It was strange and unfamiliar. Mother was also greatly surprised by the thoughts that were being sent to us.”

“So, your mother was also receiving this message, along with you,” surmised Abax.

“Yes. It startled her more than anything I have ever seen before. There was nothing beyond this adoring hymn to Eros. Hoe great and encompassing is his mighty power. I recall how she ended this unusual message. It made me shake with fear for my sister and her future. She was speaking and thinking like some mad oracle, I thought.”

“What did she say?” excitedly asked Abax.

It was at that precise instant that Optasia entered the kitchen where the two were talking. She appeared to know immediately what it was that the pair were discussing.

The mother approached and halted next to the boarder, her eyes fixed on Thisia.

“Your sister is resting peacefully and should doze off soon.” She turned her head and spoke directly to their tenant. “You have found out what came to us in the process of Achne’s transmission?”

“All but the concluding words at the end,” he replied, looking at Optasia.

The mother’s face grew severe as she frowned.

“She referred to Eros, the god. Out of all the divine children that came forth out of the early, primal chaos and void, he was the first and the most wonderful one of all. He was different in nature and character from all the other gods and goddesses who were born. Eros outdid them all, in a mysterious way. His power was, in the deepest sense, the mightiest. That is what Achne was thinking and communicating through her mind. Those were the mad words transmitted by my older daughter.

“But please excuse me.” She stepped away from Abax and the table. “I must go back to see if she has fallen asleep yet. She has drained herself of much of her metapsychic capacity today.”

It became impossible for Abax to stay away from Achne.

He felt enormously distant from her, though she happened to be in the adjoining room of the small cottage.

Only in the early evening, when Optasia and Thisia sat together on the arbor bench behind the building, watching the sun set, did an opportunity present itself to talk with Achne alone.

He silently slipped into the rear hypnoterion where she lay on the cloth blankets and sheets of a low cot. Was she awake or asleep? he wondered.

Achne was aware of him tiptoeing toward her.

“No need to walk so slowly,” she said, startling him. “I am lying here in thought, remembering all that happened today.”

Abax stepped up to the cot, studying her in the dim light of gathering dusk. Her honey-colored hair appeared darker now. Her green eyes had the sharp glimmer of pure emeralds.

“I am much better than when I first arrived home,” she volunteered before he could inquire. “The trauma has lessened considerably. Perhaps, though, I have only grown more accustomed to the constant throbbing deep inside me.”

He gazed down at her in silence. Their two stares fused into an emotional harmony engulfing both of them.

“I am sorry if there was any shock to you,” he whispered, his voice full of guilt and contrition.

All at once, her right arm rose from under the woolen blanket that covered her body. The hand that moved toward him shook and fluttered like a delicate petaloida butterfly caught in a merciless wind.

He bent forward, as if reaching for a flickering, entrancing vision.

Hand met hand. His took hold of and enveloped hers.

Achne no longer trembled.

“You must trust me not to betray you,” he murmured reassuringly. “My feeling for you is sincere and true, it is constant. Have no doubt about it.”

The two hands clutched each other tightly.

Tactile communication occurred between her and the andreikelon.

“I did not know before that this was possible for me,” confessed Abax. “My regard for you came without warning or preparation of any sort.”

“It was the same for me. I never anticipated anything like what I feel now.”

Abax leaned toward her arm, at the same time bringing her hand toward himself. He gently kissed the middle of her palm, then raised his head.

Eyes studied eyes for a short time.

Achne, drawing back her hand and resting it on the blanket, expressed a thought that had captured hold of her mind.

“I knew that you possess the talent. It will have to be trained and nurtured. I will do all I can to help you. So will mother and Thisia. Our effort must begin immediately. We must not waste a moment of time.”

“But you have to conserve your energy and rest for now, my dear one,” he commanded her. “There must be no overexertion. Recovery comes first for you.”

She thought deeply, furrowing her pale brow.

“Even though I lay here for now, we can still do something. I have been thinking about how to advance your development into an adept metapsychic.”

“How will we go about it, you and I?” he asked with curiosity.

“You will be transmitting from growing distances. I will act as receiver who takes in your messages. It makes no difference that I must stay indoors for some time. Metadotic waves like ours can travel through solid walls. No material can stop them. The forces of the mind traverse every substance or entity, spreading out from their source through the universal fluid that is everywhere.

“Your emissions will arrive here where I am in a perfectly straight line. The mind’s waves will penetrate through any intervening object between the two of us. It is as if all the world were a transparent diaphaneia, as immaterial as the invisible ether that exists everywhere.”

“Your ideas are enchanting,” he told her in a spirited manner. “Just imagine: we are living in a liquid world that flows like air, lighter than anything we can see or touch.”

“But that happens to be the truth,” insisted Achne with determination. “The worlds in the skies have the same euroia nature as we ourselves do. All of it is a flowing, changing fluid. Remember that, Abax, as you go through the days to come. Everything about us is as impermanent and immaterial as thoughts are.”

“I will remember all that you have just told me,” he promised as he leaned down to kiss her cheek, pale and chapped from the ordeal of the day.

but
V.

The next morning Optasia took charge of the project of making her tenant into a skilled metapsychic.

Over breakfast she described her plan to him.

“It would not be safe or practical to have you wander about Miletos by yourself. No, there must be someone with you as guide to see to it that all goes as it should. I myself shall stay here with Achne, but Thisia can accompany you and act as spring source for your transmissions back here.”

Across the table from her, the time-traveler gave a visible start.

“I will need support from another?” he frowned.

The mother gave him a smile full of self-confidence.

“My younger daughter can be an effective reservoir of mental force for you. I know how much metapsychic strength Thesis possesses within her inner mind, at the center of her identity. It is extremely great, and she knows how to mobilize it.”

At that moment, the dark-complected brunette entered the kitchen from the front parlor where she had been cleaning and straightening up things.

“Come and sit down, dear,” called out her mother. “We have to discuss how our guest is to become a fully developed psychic eidemon.

Abax noticed a touch of red on the young woman’s lower face. Why should she be showing such embarrassment? he wondered. There is nothing to be embarrassed at, is there?

Thisia took a chair where she did not have to look directly at the boarder. She turned away from her mother as well.

Optasia proceeded to describe what was to be done that morning.

The two of them, Abax and Thisia, were to go to an open pavilion a short distance from the farmers’ market. From the hypostegon of that structure, an attempt at transmission by him would be made. This was to occur when no one else was close or around to observe what the pair were doing.

As soon as Optasia was finished explaining what she planned, the mother turned to Thisia.

“Are you ready to be his energy source, my child?” she asked her.

“I am prepared to try,” answered the daughter, gazing across the table at their cottage guest.

All at once, the latter sprang to his feet.

“We will start, then. But first I must say something to Achne.”

The mother and daughter watched as he headed out of the kitchen, into the parlor, then the sleeping room where the injured sister lay on her cot.

VI.

Thisia walked beside him in silence that was broken when Abax turned and addressed her.

“I sense a hesitation in you to assist me in this exercise,” he bluntly said, looking at her profile. She continued looking ahead, avoiding looking into his face.

“No, that is not so. There is no reluctance at all on my part. It is more a fear of sorts that I feel inside myself.”

The traveler stared at her from the side as they both slowed their pace.

“Fear? Why should you have any such feeling, Thisia?”

The latter halted, as did her companion. She turned and stared at him as she addressed him.

“It is perhaps more anxiety than fear, I think.”

“Produced by this exercise of ours?” he inquired.

“Yes,” she replied with a nod. “I want this to be successful and believe I am anxious about what the outcome will be.”

“We shall together make it work,” he calmly told her. “Let us proceed with mutual, shared confidence, Thisia.”

“Yes, I agree. It is important for us to maintain the hope that you and I can achieve positive success in what we are about to carry out.”

The pair started walking forward once more. In a little while, they reached the market that Abax had previously visited with Achne. It was only a short distance further to the covered pavilion where Miletians came in the evening for leisure and relaxation.

The pavilion was vacant at that hour in the morning.

“We have the place all to ourselves,” said the andreikelon as the pair climbed up onto the stone patoma of the open structure. Three thick columns on each of the four sides held up the overarching roof that sheltered the area overhead.

Thisia pointed to a spot on the edge, halfway between two of the pillars.

“That is where you should stand,” she said, “facing back toward our cottage.”

“And where will you be placing yourself?” he asked his companion.

“Right behind you, at the exact center of the pavilion’s oikodome.”

“I shall not be looking at you, then, at the moment when transmission begins?”

“That is correct, Abax. Your mind must be focused upon the words that you wish to send forth. But I will be augmenting, supporting, and strengthening your mental force and energy. This reinforcing task is quite common and usual in mental communications. When Achne and I first began as small children, mother always stood beside us as our source and spring. And she still serves as our back-up whenever necessary.”

“What can I do to concentrate and direct the energy I will receive from you, Thisia?” he demanded to know.

She stopped and looked calmly into his hazel eyes.

“Communication between minds is primarily a matter of force of will, of inner strength and resolve. One must want to send thoughts with all of one’s selfhood and being.”

“That is the fundamental factor, then?” he asked her.

“You must center all the power of your mind upon one single idea, one euche, the supreme wish to convey certain words to the person waiting for them. Have you decided what you are going to say, Abax?”

He nodded yes, but did not inform her what his message was going to be.

All of a sudden, she realized that he meant to tell Achne something intimate and personal, though masked and disguised.

She did not dare to inquire any further.

“We must now begin,” muttered the young woman. “Do not speak aloud till the entire transmission is finished.”

“How will I know that moment, Thisia?”

“When I tell you that my sister has received the message, you can then turn yourself around and face me.”

The apprentice metapsychic looked forth over the bright red ceramic tiles of the roofs below the high pavilion. His mind reached out to the injured young woman with the bright green eyes. Could his mind bridge the distance that separated them?

All of a sudden, Abax experienced an explosive boom within his brain of mirrors. A flood, a plemmira of mental energy surged into him, overflowing and submerging the boundaries of his mind, spreading into all its reaches.

Thisia has to be the cause of this cataclysm within me, he instantly realized.

A hammering pulsation took firm hold of him as he began to transmit a message to Achne.

“Absolute patience will bring blissful peace and harmony,” were his initial words at the start of the transmission.

He repeated them over and over, till the emptying eccenesis from his mind rose and rose, exhausting Abax.

It was at the final moment of his transmission that Thisia spoke to him.

“You must rest now,” she told him in a measured tone. “My sister has by now received your message and knows what it is.”

Optisia and her older daughter were not inside the cottage when the walkers returned.

Thisia had supposed they might be in the area behind the building. There the two of them sat on the small thranion situated there.

As he approached the two women, the younger sister at his side, Abax wondered how Achne had made her way out here with an injured ankle. But then he spotted a large wooden crutch beside the stone bench she sat on.sunny

“While the two of you were gone, a neighbor brought these for me to use,” said the seated sister. “I could not just lie on the cot, stiff and motionless. It is not in my character to remain inert. So, I decided to use the crutch to make it outside here.”

“I did not consider it wise for her to be moving about,” interrupted the mother, “but Achne was too insistent for me to resist her wishes. So, I relented and helped her come out into the fresh air and sunny brightness.”

All at once, Abax remembered the experimental test he had been engaged in.

“Were you able to make contact with the transmission message that we sent out?” he asked. “Did my words make it to your minds?”

“Yes,” joyously beamed Achne. “I was well seated and settled out here when your message arrived. The transmission was full and clear. I can repeat every single word of it.”

A faint blush of red appeared about her mouth as she recited the message.

“From out of chaos, the empty void, there came many strange children. The first and most wonderful was Eros, who was different from all the others. Eros outlived all the others, and he still survives as the most important of all the divine powers.”

She stopped, averting her eyes from the boarder.

An uneasy, painful silence ensued several seconds. It was, surprisingly, broken by the voice of Thisia.

“The gods of old are now of no significance to us. Once they may have had some importance, but not to those alive today. Who is there that any longer believes in such fantasies and fables from long ago?”

All eyes centered on the dark-haired woman. No one said anything to contradict her.

Finally, Abax changed the subject under consideration.

“So far, we have attained what we intended to. But, as all of you know, my ambition is to build a system of metapsychic communication among all the farflung colonies of Miletos. I dream of seeing each and every settlement connected to the mother-city in one unbreakable web of mental waves.

“What occurred today convinces me that is possible.

“We shall look for operatives to be trained in all the many cities that fall into the family of Miletos. All who have their origins from this place shall never forget their allegiance to this city once there exists such a strong web of thought.”

“How can such a grand, enlarged scheme by fulfilled?” asked Optasia, perplexity and disorientation in her dark, brooding eyes.

A smile of confidence crossed the impassive, emotionless face of Abax.

“First of all, we must make a series of tests of metapsychic transmission that crosses water. I intend to start on that tomorrow, out on Lion’s Bay.”

“How will you obtain a boat so you can move around on the gulf?” asked Achne.

Abax looked kindly into the face of the young woman. “I plan to hire from a mariner who will agree to pilot it where I wish to go.”

“That would be costly, I imagine,” interjected Optasia.

The boarder turned to her. “I am willing to pay whatever it takes and can well afford to. In fact, renting a boat would be a convenient introduction for me to people about the bay. I plan to meet possible candidates to the metapsychic corps that will be needed in the future if this is successful in Miletos. After all, who travels to and knows the colonial outposts of this city as well as its sailors and navigators, its pilots and sea merchants?”

Achne expressed her fears and doubts. “Convincing and recruiting men of such tough, hard-skinned character will not at all prove easy. Those who sail forth in ships are not known for friendliness or openness toward strangers, not at all.”

Abax bit his lower lip. “I must go down to the harbor at once to look about and find someone willing to help me.”

“I could go along and help you,” volunteered Thisia.

“Yes,” agreed her mother. “Let her assist you to find an experienced pilot, Abax.”

The latter accepted the suggestion and soon left for the port section with the younger daughter.

The Andreikelon Part II. Time Traveler

25 Jun

I.

Thales chose to call the creature put together by the Greek artisans of Naucratis by the term of andreikelon, a doll-like replica of a genuine human being. He also decided on the personal name of this particular being.

“I name our new companion Abax, because his constructed mind will give him the capacity to count, figure, and calculate, like an accountant’s abacus.”

Thales took personal charge of training and teaching it how to move, act, and function. He began by helping it learn how to use its hands and legs. Soon Abax was able to walk in a normal manner. Soon it was holding objects in its hands, then running with speed. Body equilibrium and balanced posture were attained with practice.

Word by word, sentence by sentence, the new being learned to speak, first Greek and then Egyptian. Constant play and exercise taught it how to make use of its limbs and organs.

“Your name is Abax,” said the Milesian over and over, till the creature obtained a dim but growing sense of identity.

Much time was spent perfecting basic skills, as if a child was being raised and trained.

Thales explained to Abax how it had been constructed by human craftsmen there in Naucratis.

The assembled one became curious about another matter. “How was it that persons like you came to be?” it asked the man who had led its design and construction.

“Many of us Greeks attribute our existence to the immortal Prometheus, the son of the Titan named Iapotes. That brash young demigod possessed greater wisdom, knowledge, and foresight than any of the Great Gods of Mt. Olympus.

“To the Great Gods, this world seemed perfect and complete. But to the all-seeing, all-knowing Prometheus there was something important that was missing. There was no supreme creature designed and suited to be master of the earth below the upper heavens.

“Therefore, Prometheus took clay suspended in the upper atmosphere and mixed it with the life-giving waters on the earth. He worked long and hard on this clay, making it into a shape similar to that of the Olympian gods.

“On the earth, all the animals walked with their heads down, looking at the ground below. Only the newly-made human beings walked erect, gazing upward at heaven and the sky.”

THales gave Abax a tender look of sympathy and understanding.

“Someday, I will tell you how Prometheus gave the gift of fire and knowledge of how to make and use it to his human creatures.”

The philosopher realized that he was presenting his pupil with a lot to digest and understand.

Thales started to take Abax about the various parts of the city, then beyond Naucratis, on long walking expeditions so that the andreikelon’s muscles would develop and strengthen. The latter learned to act and look more and more like an ordinary human. His presence everywhere became accepted and natural.

In time, these treks became independent, one-person adventures by Abax alone.

One late afternoon, the single explorer came upon the desert ruins of an ancient, abandoned temple.

It was a considerable distance from the Greek settlement of Naucratis.

With the curiosity of a child, Abax spent hours among the crumbling, disintegrating walls of clay. The abandoned structure fascinated his mind. There were many symbols and inscriptions that drew his interest.

All of a sudden he looked out at the flat surface of light brown sand. He was surprised and alarmed now by what he saw. All his organs went on alert. For the first time, an emotion of fear rose up within him.

A number of dark, unidentifiable forms were converging in a circle around the temple ruins. What they might be, he could not tell. Their purpose seemed to be to surround him from all sides. To do what? he asked himself with rising anxiety.

Abax rotated his stance so that he face and eyes were directed, in turn, toward each separate direction.

There is no path of escape for me, he told himself with apprehension. The unknown shadows had succeeded in encircling him from all sides.

It was clear that the potential menace to his safety had to be faced.

As the ring of shadows closed in, the features of the attackers became visible to him.

Their backs appeared curved and bent.

The faces had a natural darkness to them, with a general freakish quality.

Their eyes were bottomless hollows without visible color. The bodies seemed severely misshapen, disfigured, and warped. Complete deformation of each and every aspect characterized the horrible beings.

Abax had never heard Thales speak of any such entities, whatever they might be.

His breathing grew deeper and faster as the forms neared him.

Frightening thoughts arose in his mind. What could he do if their aim was to harm him in some way?

The members of this gang encircling him were equidistant from their target.

As a result of making such an assumption, Abax did not foresee the sudden lunge forward made by two of the shadowy forms from out of the arc they were part of.

In a fraction of a second, they were upon him, seizing him and bringing him down to the sandy ground.

Sensing that he was falling, Abax hit the earth with a painful thud.

How was he going to rescue himself from impending physical danger?

The sensation of something snapping entered his catropic mind. He closed his eyes in reaction, then reopened them.

Everything around him was changed.

Hands no longer held him down. The invaders who had assaulted him were gone. He could not see any of them anywhere, in any direction.

The startled andreikelon lifted himself up into a sitting position and looked about. Everything was now different.

The ruins he had been exploring had disappeared. He found himself inside what looked like the inside of an ancient Egyptian temple. The building appeared complete and in sound condition.

There was no ring of monstrous figures surrounding him any longer.

A large burning torch illuminated the interior of the structure with painted figures and enigmatic hieroglyphics on all four clay brick walls.

How did I arrive here? Abax asked himself, rising to his feet.

He was going to have to explore and examine this mysterious temple.

It was then that his eyes caught sight of a small man in priestly white robe standing at the narrow doorway into the holy chamber.

The face of the little figure gave off an eerie glow that Abax had never witnessed before.

What should he say to this person? wondered the lost wanderer. How should this unidentified stranger be addressed?

But it was the strange-looking priest who spoke first as he come up to Abax.

“Welcome to the temple of Ptah, precious traveler. You must be exhausted from the enormous effort you have expended to arrive here. Come with me to a special side room where there is a soft pallet prepared for visitors like you. Food and drink shall be brought at once by some of our brothers.

“We will have plenty of opportunity to talk with you later, once you have rested. There are matters that we wish to learn from you, and you can also learn about the magnificent reign of our beloved Pharaoh, Menes. There is much that shall be usefully exchanged between us. We are eager to find out all we can from you, our present guest.

“Once again, welcome to the temple of Ptah, the universal creator.”

His mind in a continuing spin, Abax followed the little priest into the interior of the large, magnificent Egyptian temple.

II.

The realization that he had moved into a new, different point in time shocked the bewildered andreikelon. How was anything like that possible? Thales had never mentioned such a phenomenon. Something incredible had occurred. Here he was, many centuries back in the reign of the early pharaoh called Menes, among priests of Ptah, patron of the royal capital of Memphis.

As the priest and the time-traveler ate in the small room assigned to Abax, the latter revealed his name to the one across from him.

“My name is Duren,” smiled the priest, seated on a low stool like the one being used by the visitor from another time.

“We have had but one time-wanderer here in our temple during my lifetime,” explained the host. “It is a glorious honor to have you in our midst. Can you reveal to me why you chose this place and this moment to make your appearance?”

“I did not purposely decide anything,” confessed Abax. “But let me describe for you the terrible danger that faced me just before I found myself transported to your temple at this point in time.”

Abax related his experience while exploring the ruins of what must have been this temple dedicated to Ptah so long before the era in which he faced shadowy foes in the desert.

“This temple was abandoned and crumbling away?” asked Duren with excitement and anxiety. “I guess such a fate awaits every building in the far future. Who happens to be the Pharaoh of this kingdom in the age that you come from?”

“Necho,” answered Abax. “That is all I know. These ruins that I was examining lay at a distance from the city called Naucratis.”

“We know of no such settlement. It has to have been built and populated after my brother priests and I are gone from this world,” said Duren with a moan. “But I can tell you who your attackers were. That is clear from the description of them that you give.”

“It is?” reacted Abax expectantly.

“Hemithanes of the desert. These half-alive, half-dead ghouls plague Egypt today as they did in the past. And I dare say as they shall continue to do in the future age from which you came here.”

“What are these hemithanes you speak of?” inquired Abax, eager to learn who or what the dangerous shadows had been.

Duren gave a look of surprise. “They attacked, yet you did not know what their character happened to be?”

“I have been taught nothing concerning any such beings,” admitted the andreikelon.

The priest gave him a curious look of surprise at his ignorance.
that named that
“I would like you to go back in time with me to the day of Creation, when Ptah made all that surrounds us on all sides.” He lit a second lantern and began to relate to the guest a history new to him, one lost and forgotten in the mists of innumerable ages.

“We give to Ptah the title of sculptor of all things. He was the primal creator of all parts of the whole. Scholars claim that Ptah is the potter who molded and shaped all existing forms on his wheel. Our oldest traditions state that Ptah created the world out of his heart and his tongue.

“The general idea and pattern of eacand gives h being came from his divine heart. And when his tongue spoke the word that named that entity, that brought it to realization and fulfillment in this world of ours.

“Ptah creates each separate, personal body out of clay and gives it the breath of life. He places the individual body of clay in the womb of the mother who gives birth to a person.

“But at a far distant time in the past, at the very beginning, Ptah fell asleep and his hands slipped and fell, so that ugly, defective monsters then came to life. Those are the ghouls called hemithanes by the people who must face and fight them.

“These are the awful errors made by Ptah when he created the human race.”

The priest drew a long, deep breath, then proceeded on.

“The results turned out to be monstrous and unnatural. That was not at all the fault of the divine Ptah, but an anomaly due to chance and only chance. What was meant to be a perfect human creature instead became a sickly sport. Their bodies took on an unseemly form and shape. The brain was that of a perverted monstrosity, bent on crime, murder, and destruction. These dangerous hemithanes were driven into the distant desert where they continue to hide and lurk. These became their night haunts from which they injure the people of the two Egypts, causing evil and destruction.

“Hemithanes hide from the light of the sun and the eyes of men. With infinite patience, they watch and stalk all our settlements. When they strike, their aim is maximum harm. With demonic glee, they savor the pain of their human victims. Their desire is to multiply the amount of evil.”

Abax asked the priest a pointed question.

“Why has Ptah, the one who created them, never destroyed these hemithanes?”

Duren gave him a serene smile. “The gods never do that to their own creations, whether they are good or bad in character.

“That is why so many evil beings haunt the world. It was the evil god, Set, who created the khatiyu spirits that bedevil the night, as well as the shemayu who wander the desert and imperil humans who attempt to cross it. But Set cannot undo the results of his past creation, just as Ptah cannot erase the mistakes he made back at the beginning.

“The hemithanes can take on the appearance of human beings and are difficult to distinguish from them. These horrible spirits are skilled in tricks and pretense. They are capable of impersonating human persons and disguising their murderous purposes.”

Duren paused in deep thought, his eyes fixed on the face of Abax.

“The war that we, the faithful priests of Ptah, fight against the monsters of the desert is not new. It has continued through the reigns of countless pharaohs and their dynasties. There is never any end to the battles. It goes on to the present day.”

“Will it ever see a conclusion?” questioned Abax.

“That is doubtful,” replied the priest.. “The hemithanes are eternal beings.”

III.

The heavy worry and concern of Thales weighed down on him.

Where was Abax? What had happened to him?

He waited for hours, then scoured the night streets of the city, informing the urban guards of Naucratis about the absence of his ward. They also searched around, but by dawn there was no success in finding the missing one.

Abax had been often warned not to stray too far from the walls of the settlement.

Had his wondrous curiosity led him into some kind of peril?

Thales considered the possible disasters that might have occurred.

Had it been some physical accident, some chance mishap? Or a sinister, human agency of harm? These were matters he had not foreseen or provided for.

The mind of the Miletian philosopher had no ready answer to such riddles.

Thales considered his responsibilities for the fate of Abax.

Was his role that of a father toward an only son?

Did he stand in the position of a human parent in relation to a child?

Though the andreikelon had come to life in a fully grown body, were his character and mind adequate to preserve him? wondered Thales.

It was difficult not to think of Abax as an actual human personality.

The one who had made him did not lose all hope of locating and rescuing him.

Possessing an unsleeping mind, Abax lay in the room assigned him, thinking and considering, speculating and weighing. What should he do next?

This is not my era of time, these are not the humans who built and designed me.

Thales is the person to whom I owe my life and existence. My duty is to him, not to anyone living in the reign of Pharaoh Menes.

My builder is looking for me, attempting to find my trail and locate me. But it is impossible for him to pierce through the wall of time. Thales lacks the special skill that I have.

I will have to figure out how to make a reverse journey through time.

Abax tried to re-enact what propelled him away from the ruined temple site.

How was it that the first transfer had been made? What had I been thinking at that particular time?

It would be best to go back to the spot where Duren found me.

Would he fall into the hands of evil hemithanes if he returned there?

Time has passed and that terrible evening has disappeared and is gone. But Abax decided to rise and go out to find the place where he had arrived from out of the future.

The andreikelon walked out of the temple into the desert night, making his way to where he remembered having awakened into another point in time, an early age of Egypt. He lay down on the sand and looked up into the field of overhead stars. He sensed time flowing through him in an unending stream of past, present, and future.

How could one propel the self in a forward direction? he asked over and over.

Escape out of the present, to another point. Escape into time to come.

Closing his eyes, Abax concentrated all his mental energy upon this single aim.

He felt strange, surging waves flowing within him, as if reflected in an infinity of tiny cotroptron mirrors.

Suddenly opening his eyes, he lifted his head and looked around on all sides.

It was no longer night in the desert, but a hot, sunny day bright with sun light.

The roofed temple of Ptah was gone, only ruins scattered about what was once its site.

He had transported himself into another time, as he had hoped to.

His task in this new present was to try to return home to Naucratis.

IV.

A lone figure, small and somewhat bent, approached Abax from the opposite direction. As they neared each other, the heavy protective clothing of the stranger became visible. What am I going to say to this dweller of the desert? wondered the andreikelon.

It was the unidentified trekker who halted and spoke first.

“Are you lost? I can tell that you are a town-dweller. What are you up to out here where you do not belong? Where is your home residence?

“Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Eye and I come from a distant oasis. I am on my way to Naucratis.”

Abax felt a jolt of surprise. “That is wonderful, for I am on a journey back to my home in that very city.

“But how can it be that you are headed in the wrong direction? You are headed away from Naucratis, not toward that town. I believe that you are mistaken about how to reach that place.”

The stranger was no longer smiling. “I am sorry to have to inform you that you have lost your way and making your way opposite to where Naucratis happens to be.

“Look up at the sun. It will tell you that your present path is a westward one, whereas it should be to the east in order to get to Naucratis. Believe me, I am certain of what I am telling you. It is the truth.”

Abax did not say anything for a considerable time, as he thought and considered his situation.

Had he been mistaken until now? It was perhaps possible that he had been disoriented.

“Come, follow me to Naucratis,” softly commanded Eye.

Abax decided that was the rational course for him to take.

Neither traveler spoke for many hours, slowly walking under the blazing overhead sun.

All of a sudden, the tops of a bunch of palm trees appeared on the horizon. Both the trekkers stopped, Abax behind Eye.

The latter turned around, facing Abax with flaming eyes of ebony. A long, crooked nose punctuated the dark sandy face.

“We are almost there,” clanged the voice of the guide, no longer pleasant or friendly.

“But that is not Naucratis ahead of us,” objected Abax, now conscious of having been deceived. “I can see some sort of desert oasis there, not a large city of the delta. What have you done? Where have you taken me?”

A sardonic sneer crossed the mouth of Eye.

“You do not belong back there in a city on the Nile,” he said with a growl. “I will lead you to a better place, a desert paradise. There is no reason for any unhappiness on your part. A new home for you shall be made among the palms of our miraculous water hole.” He paused a moment, then went on. “You see, I recognized at once that you cannot be one of the men born of women. No, you are something completely different, a form that I am unfamiliar with. Here on the infinite desert there are several varieties of beings unlike the human inhabitants of the lands along the Nile. You must be one of those I have not yet identified. But I could tell from the start that you are different.

“So, I ask you to describe for me what it is you are. Then, I shall take you to our oasis which is visible in the distance.”

Eye gazed with an hypnotic stare at the one he had tricked into following him.

Abax suddenly recalled what he had heard the priest of Ptah say.

Hemithanes have the ability to pose as and impersonate humans. Does that explain what has happened to me?

How was he going to escape this lying monster, a disguised hemithane?

A leap through time appeared to be the only way out.

The andreikelon repeated what he had accomplished twice before.

All the force and energy of the mirrors in his mind were instantly focused upon an intense, concentrated effort to flee that point in time.

With closed eyes, Abax hurled himself into the unending stream once again.

For the rest of the day, into the night, the andreikelon plodded on step after step. Only when the westernmost leaf of the Nile appeared did the walker stop and rest. Seeing the shadowy shapes of Naucratis ahead in the distance, Abax prepared for the approaching moment when he would again find the human who had created him, the philosopher Thales.

It was surprising to the one who had been lost in the fold and waves of time how excited, elated, and rhapsodic Thales was upon finding him on his doorstep, knocking on the door late that night.

Abax found himself hugged and caressed by his master-maker.

First came a long period of relaxation and restoration of strength and energy for the recovered one.

It took many hours to relate the adventure in the temple from out of the past of Egypt. Abax described all that he had experienced back then. Thales was moved and amazed by what he now found about concerning this unforeseen and unforeseeable capacity of the constructed andreikelon.

“This is something of the nature of a natural miracle,” confessed Thales. “How or why it occurred in you, I am unable at this moment to explain or understand. But it is a real, true power within you, Abax.

“This shall be a large part of your future life and existence, I assure you, my dear andreikelon.

“I now must tell you that I intend to leave Naucratis and Egypt, and you will be accompanying me back to my native city of Miletos, back in Ionia.

“You will be getting away from the hemithanes of this ancient land. Those abominations are able to identify an artificial entity such you, and this tends to make you vulnerable to their attacks. I suspect that they see anyone like you as particularly defenseless against them. I think you shall be safer in the Greek population of my city of Miletos.”

Thales made arrangements to dispose of what he possessed in Naucratis. He and his andreikelon soon sailed north on a Greek commercial transport headed for the coast of what would one day be called Asia Minor.

V.

Thales introduced Abax to his friends, neighbors, and acquaintances as his butler and assistant whom he had met and acquired while traveling in Egypt.

Between the two of them, he treated this servant as his intellectual and personal equal. The philosopher shared his deepest and most intimate thoughts with the andreikelon he had helped to construct.

“What do you think I shall be remembered for, Abax?” he asked one day while in a dreamy, abstracted mood.

“You have performed some great deeds, sir. It was you who designed the Great Dioryx Canal that crosses all of Lydia. And the maganon that you invented is the best press for olives that exists anywhere. The Greeks of Ionia now produce more olive oil than ever before because of what you have given them.”
Abax thought a moment. “And it was you who discovered the axioms of weather prediction through your years of careful observation. That was a magnificent achievement, as well.’

“You have been a great help to me in everything, Abax,” murmured Thales.

“Thank you, sir. I could go on to mention the many travels of your youth, as you have related them to me. No one has seen as much of the world as you have.”

Thales grinned. “I can remember the sands along the Great Nile, the mines beyond the northern Euxine Sea, and the mountains named the Caucasus. Once I journeyed to a distant milk blue sea called the Baltic, where I found invaluable amber. My search for new materials took me in all directions. Once I journeyed to an immense distant land with the name India. I discovered unusual powerful gems there.

“There are places I have heard of but never seen. My life has not been long enough to make all the explorations I would have liked to. I have seen only a few of the many colonies of Miletos, less than half of them. Do you know how many of them there are, Abax?”

The latter thought a moment. “They are very numerous, I have heard. Over a hundred exist, I believe.”

Suddenly Thales laughed loudly. “Closer to two hundred in total. They are scattered over the several seas: the Aegean, the Euxine, the Adriatic, the Mesogeios, and the Western Sea. So many settlements! Quite distant from each other and their mother, Miletos!

“No wonder they can break away from Miletos with great ease. The great space between all these colonies makes communication rare and most difficult. It takes a long time to exchange even the simplest messages.

“My greatest achievement in life would be if I could tie these towns and cities together so as to make them a strong family. That would be an aim worth striving for, indeed.” He paused and drew a long, deep breath. “I have been thinking about this matter a long time, Abax. In order to hold fast the people of its many colonies, Miletos needs the ability to communicate with them quickly. Not by land or over the sea, but through some other means. I am thinking of immediate, instant metalepsis, with no delay whatever.

“That would be an achievement never to be forgotten!”

Abax, astounded by what he was hearing, said not a word as his creator such an impossible-seeming project.

“I am imagining how metapsychic communicators could be tied together in Miletos and the distant colonies, with messages flowing in all directions without barriers or interruptions.”

“Is such a thing possible, sir?” asked the andreikelon.

Thales began to muse aloud, as if alone all by himself.

“When I was a small boy, my grandmother once told me of a woman, a widow able to send her thoughts to her two young daughters. These small girls received her mental signals exactly as their mother’s mind sent them out.”

“Your grandmother believed these to be genuine communications, sir?”

Thales nodded yes. “She told me that she herself was a witness to it. The widow’s name was Optasia. She was extremely poor, but refused to make money from her uncanny gift. The woman was far from any sort of fraud. She and her daughters lived off the charity of well-wishers. The three of them lived a quiet, humble life, in a small agroikia cottage on the edge of our city.”

“What became of this family, sir?”

“I do not know, because my grandmother was unable to tell me more. She heard that Optasia and the two girls disappeared without a trace. Their cottage was taken over by illegal squatters who found it empty and abandoned.”

“Was it this story that aroused your interest in mental communication?”

“Indeed, it was. I became fascinated with this subject. Wherever I came across anything similar, I tried to investigate it, whether down in Egypt or among the northern Scythians. But nowhere was there solid proof or evidence. The whole matter still remains a mystery.”

Thales paused, staring at his butler as if waiting for an idea to arise in the latter’s mirror mind. Abax finally voiced what both of them were considering.

“Do you want me to travel back then to learn what I can about that family?”

The philosopher smiled. “It is a hundred years in the past. You would not be able to return till your mission was completed. A stay back there is necessary.”

“I am willing to make the time leap,” declared Abax. “When shall I start, sir?”

“Immediately,” replied Thales.

VI.

For several days, Abax prepared himself for his temporal metaphora.

Everyone alive at the target date was no dead, he realized. And the people living in Miletos at present were not yet born.

Thales calculated that he would arrive in the early fall, when autumnal coolness first begins to replace the languor of summer. The traveler was to present himself as a stranger new to Miletos, aiming to look into reports of metapaths such as Optasia and her daughters.

He must beg to become a boarder in the tiny cottage. Renting one of their rooms, he was to learn all he could, directly and indirectly. A foreigner with an ardent desire to learn the art of metapsychic communication from them, he had to win the trust of the entire family group.

Thales provided him a small cloth sack filled with gold coins with which to pay his expenses in the distant past.

When everything appeared ready, Abax left the stone residence of Thales after receiving best wishes from the latter. How much of what the philosopher had heard from his grandmother was going to prove true and credible, he wondered to himself.

Abax had long known how attached human beings were to the time enclosed within their own lives. He recognized that Thales was an extraordinary exception. His interest ranged to other ages, other generations. He was an unusual person with a unique curiosity and hunger for knowledge.

As a time-mover, able to travel into ages of the past, he had a nature close to that of his creator. Everyday human beings could not afford to have the wide viewpoint of Thales or himself.

Circumstances kept most people limited to their own lifetime and present age. Their thoughts could not jump over boundaries like those of the two of them.

Their two minds were not confined within the limits of the ordinary, the existing, or the present. They could soar over boundaries and disregard ordinary limits.

Optasia, along with the daughters, was busy with home chores in their decrepit hovel of a cottage. Cleaning the four small rooms, they did not sense the rapid passing of the morning hours that particular day.

“Sit down and rest, Thisia,” the mother commanded the frail, younger one. “It is not good to exhaust yourself, my girl. I will finish the work together with Achne. Do not trouble yourself too hard.”

The dark-complected brunette, a copy of her mother, moved into the bedroom she shared with her older sister and sat down on a wooden stool. Her breathing was labored, nearly forced. She heard in her ears the sphyxic pounding of her overburdened heart. Its sound was overpowering.

Sickly Thisia had forgotten about the irregularity of her pulse whenever she overworked or suddenly became overexcited.

Why am I not strong like Achne? she asked herself once again.

The two sisters were different in innumerable ways.

The elder girl, Achne, had green eyes. Her hair had a bright honey color. And she enjoyed inexhaustible stamina and vigor.

Achne was said by neighbors to resemble her father, whom neither girl remembered.

Thisia was regaining her wind when she heard the knock. No one had visited the cottage in months. Who could it be? she wondered.

But it was Optasia who opened the front door to find out who was there. Achne stood behind her thin, boney mother.

The two females eyed a lanky stranger with blond hair and bright hazel eyes. He impressed both of them with his confident posture and self-assured presence.

“Pardon me,” he began. “I am seeking to locate the widow Optasia. Can you help me?”

“You are looking at her, sir. And who might you be?”

“I am called Abax,” answered the traveler. “It has been a very long journey for me to reach you, madam. The trip has been a difficult one for me. There are a number of matters I wish to discuss with you. But first of all, I must beg you for food and sleeping quarters. You see, I have no shelter at all here in Miletos. My sole hope is that you rent me a room where I can rest and leave my things while I carry out an important personal inquiry.”

The widow looked puzzled and at a loss.

“What is your trade or profession, may I ask, sir?”

Abax made himself smile. “I am a student of philosophy who has come from afar, aspiring to learn the truth,” explained the andreikelon. “It has been related to me that you yourself can help me in my personal search and quest.”

“How can that be?” reacted Optasia with startlement in her dark eyes.

The stranger did not answer her directly or at once, but instead bent down and picked up the cloth sack resting at his feet. “You shall provide me a room, then? I am quite able to pay any rent you desire. That can be a great benefit to all your family, dear madam.”

Before either mother or daughter realized what had occurred, the uninvited visitor was in the living room parlor, his bundle on the earthen floor.

“This is my daughter, Achne,” muttered Optasia, her head and brain reeling.

Abax bowed to the bright faced, wide-eyed teen-aged girl as she gaped at him in surprise. Quickly, he turned to her mother.

“You accept me as a tenant, then?” he softly murmured. “I can pay a hundred drachme each week if meals are also included.”

The mother gave a start of surprise at the sum he offered.

“We have never had a boarder live with us before,” she informed him, scanning Abax from top to bottom. “You appear to be honest and respectable. Yes, you can stay with us and share our meals.”

At that moment, the younger daughter, who had been listening unseen and unnoticed, exited from the bedroom into the parlor.

Abax stared at her closed, dark face as he made a slight bow to her.

“This person will be staying with us, Thisia,” announced her mother. “His name is Abax, and he has come here from far away to pursue studies in Miletos.”

Optasia looked about, surveying the parlor. “How would this room, which you now see, suit you, sir? We can bring in our best floor pallet for you to sleep on. You will find it very comfortable, I assure you.”

“That is fine,” smiled Abax, “as long as I am causing no inconvenience to anyone else in the cottage.”

“No, of course not,” reacted the mother. “You are welcome with us because…”

She stopped, starting to redden with embarrassment.

Abax unexpectedly reached out and took her hand in his.

“I understand, I understand,” he said to her in a whisper. “Need and poverty often strike the best of families when they lack a husband and father.

“How long has it been since you became a widow?”

“Sixteen years,” she replied. “It has been enormously hard for my two girls, living this way. We have suffered painful, continuous hardships.”

Her sad brown eyes wandered about the plain, humble parlor room.

For a brief time, all four of those present remained silent. No one was able to find appropriate words for the circumstances.

“I am quite hungry after my long journey,” said the new tenant with delicacy. “Could I bother you for something to eat? Anything will do.”

“Come with me to the kitchen,” suggested the mother. “The girls can finish their chores while I find you some food.”

The sisters brought a blanket to the parlor for a cover to the pallet they had carried there. Through the closed kitchen door, the voices of Optasia and Abax reached them.

“We are now finished,” said Achne to Thisia. “What shall we do now?”

The younger sister grimaced sourly. “Why not listen to what the stranger happens to be saying?”

Achne nodded yes to this. Creeping toward the kitchen door, the pair came near enough to make out what was being said in the other room. Their mother was the one they heard speaking first.

“I cannot understand what it is that you wish to prove for yourself. Do you harbor any doubt of our ability to send our thoughts through the air and have them caught and received? Do you suspect there is any kind of falseness or fraud on my part?”

“Not at all, not at all. But it becomes necessary when exploring what is still unknown to attempt trials and testing of what is claimed. Thisbe kept. allows one to comprehend how a process goes on, how each phase and part operates in conjunction with all the rest. That is what I wish to find out.”

“Such a transference of idea from one mind to another is difficult and most demanding. It drains both sender and receiver of inner energy for a long time. They become exhausted, both of them. It results in great pain.” Optasia revealed a lot of her feelings in her tragic facial expression.

“I do not intend to hurry matters,” announced Abax. “Nothing shall be allowed to harm your family in any way. Physical and mental health and soundness must be kept intact. That is my pledge, my vow, to all three of you.”

“Yes, you exude a sense of sincerity, Abax,” admitted Optasia. “It is rare to come across anyone so conscientious, so selfless. How great was the distance you had to travel to reach Miletos? I wonder.”

“Greater than anyone can describe. But my quest is an elevated one. I am exploring a higher plane of reality. Thoughts must not be confined to one location, but must be free to speed from one mind to another.”

“When shall you begin your observations, then?” asked the widow.

“As soon as possible. Tomorrow morning, in fact.”

“Very well. My two girls will carry out the communication for you. As you can see, Thisia is weaker and more passive. She will stay here at home and act as the receiver of what her sister transmits to her. Thisia is best as the resonant echoer for this demonstration. Achne is the stronger, more active one. She possesses the energy for a full flood of emission. A cataclysm of pulsation will come forth from her. The waves she generates will be overwhelming. You shall be a witness to it. You will come to feel the strength of her mind.”

“Her message will be transmitted from outside your cottage?”

“Yes. At first from a short distance, then further. Each time, further.

“Both girls must be informed of this at once,” decided the mother. “Let me summon them so we can discuss the mattern in detail.”

Upon hearing this, both Achne and Thesia retreated from where they had been standing near the door. In seconds, Optasia opened the door and spoke to them.

“Come in, girls,” she invited them. “Our guest wishes to talk with all of us together. We have a subject of importance to discuss with him.”

The sisters stepped into the kitchen, knowing ahead of time what they were about to hear from the boarder about to stay with them.

VII.

That night Thisia had a question for Achne as they washed themselves at the water well behind the cottage.

“What do you think of our tenant, Abax?” she whispered.

“Unusual, I would have to say. There is something strange about him. How does he strike you?”

The younger sister momentarily hesitated.

“He must have come from a distant location. A very exotic place, somewhere we know little about.”

“Perhaps that is what makes him so different from anyone we know,” smiled Achne, her thoughts not yet ready for immediate expression.

The pair went to bed, both thinking and wondering about the morrow with the tenant present.

Once breakfast was finished, Optasia led her daughters and the traveler from afar to the field behind the cottage, to a wooden thranion on which two persons could be seated beside each other.

“Thisia and I will stay on this bench,” she informed everyone. Her sharp brown eyes focused on the boarder. “Achne and you can begin a climb to the top of that hillock immediately to the east.”

The widow pointed across to a small pavilion beyond the inhabited area of Miletos. There were no buildings there, only a treeless field of grass.

“What shall I transmit from there, mother?” asked the older sister.

Optasia made a sly, enigmatic grin.

“Abax must be the one who decides that,” she gently muttered. “It will be an operation that tests your ability to send thoughts. We have to prove to our friend that what is claimed is true and genuine. Thisia will repeat to him, word-for-word, what he decides to place in the sentences that are to be conveyed.”

“An experiment in communication, then?” said the guest.

“Precisely.”

Optasia turned to Achne and gave her an order.

“Come back here as soon as you can, so that we can relate to him what has been transmitted to us from the hilltop.”

The pair ambled through the agora where farmers from the countryside offered fresh produce to city dwellers.

Vegetables, legumes, beans, and the fruit of rich orchards were for sale at bargain prices at lines of tables.

Vendors rent the crisp morning air with their cries.

“Hydropiponi of incredible size!” “Try my apricots, my golden verikokkoni!”

“Fresh green maroli for your salad, picked at dawn!”

“Carian radakini, the sweetest in the whole world!”

Achne guided her companion through the crowded market, to where a path began to climb up a hill. She pointed to the peak above.

“That is where I will send my communication from. No one lives up there, so we will be completely alone. There shall be no interference with us.”

“You have sent from there before?” asked her escort.

She turned her face to him as they walked upward.

“Yes. It was one of my favorite sites when I was a child, just starting out in this. Mother would take me up there with Thisia and leave me at the top while she returned home.”

“So, your sister did not start out as your first receiver.”

Achne’s voice took on a note of sadness.

“My sister tried to transmit along with me, but mother in time decided that the exertions were too burdensome for Thisia. So, she was made my receiving mind. It happens that she has a special sensitivity that fits her for that passive role. She proved too delicate for what I do, the generation in my mind of thought waves and their outward transmission.”

“Your mother taught you how to send forth your ideas and thoughts?” he asked with fiery curiosity in his hazel eyes.
How
“Yes. She showed me how to concentrate the pulsation of my heart with the movements of my mind, so as to project thought waves out to a targeted receiver like my sister. That is not at all easy to accomplish. It takes long practice before the focusing is perfected and effective. There were years of practicing and preparation involved for me.”

“But your mother must have already been skilled in this difficult craft. How was it that she learned these metapsychic methods?”

For several seconds, the two walked on in silence.

“My father himself was an eidemon, an adept at this arcane mystery.”

As she said this, Achne looked ahead to the helm of the hillock.

“He traveled to many lands when he was young, developing his talents as a metapsychic communicator. He became a skilled, successful operator in this hidden art.”

“And your father then taught this to your mother?” reasoned the andreikelon.

“That is right. But he died soon after Thisia was born. I myself was only two at the time and have very few memories at all of him.”

“Life has therefore been difficult for all of you since then,” muttered Abax. “I can thoroughly understand that.”

“We managed to get by, somehow…” she said with a sigh audible to him.

The pair halted at the empty, uninhabited peak, overrun with wild weeds and grasses.

They both looked about in all directions, scanning the landscape below them.

Abax recalled how this area would in the future become a densely populated portion of the enlarged, growing city.

“Tell me, Achne, is it possible for me to learn the important secrets of transmission and reception of thought waves?” he asked her as they gazed out over the harbor of Miletos.

Moving figures were visible in Lion’s Bay, busy with the work of loading and unloading vessels from near and far.

“If there is any natural aptitude with which a person is born, it can be trained and developed,” she softly told him. “If you would ask my mother, she can take a measure of your mental potential and predict what your possibilities are.”

“Thank you for telling me that, Achne,” he beamed at her with a smile.

She took a position looking down and outward, facing in the direction of the cottage where she lived with her mother and sister.

“Do you have a particular sentence for me to send below?” she murmured.

He hesitated only a moment, then gave it. “It is a single, simple statement, a saying that I myself formulated for this purpose last night.”

“How does it go, Abax?” Her green eyes focused upon him with focused curiosity.

“I wish you to transmit this: the mind is vaster in its dimensions than the entire extent of the heavens above us. That is the content of the message I wish you to communicate from this location.”

Achne gave him a radiant grin of satisfaction at what he had offered her.

“Mother will find profound meaning and joy in those words of yours, Abax.”

“And what do you yourself think of it, Achne?”

“It sounds so true, because a thinker can travel anywhere in thought and encompass all that potentially exists. There is no boundary that limits what a person can compose or understand. That can truly be termed infinite.”

“I believe that you possess a range of the mind far beyond the ordinary, Achne,” he said flatteringly. “You have become a mental adept, like your two parents.”

For a brief while, neither of them said anything.

“For a short time, I will have to prepare myself for the supreme effort,” the young woman explained. “Could you stand behind me, so that I have an unobstructed view of the entire area around our cottage?”

“Yes, or course.”

Abax retreated several steps. He was now able to see her without himself being seen by her. How narrow and childlike her legs appeared to him. How lithe was her body frame. She resembled a girl more than a grown woman.

Though a synthetic andreikelon, the time-traveler realized that the animal instinct of a natural human male might be aroused in him by the sight he was taking in from behind the beautiful body of Achne. This was a portion of what he had been taught and learned on his own about the inherited instincts of human males.

But I am a different, artificial kind of being, Abax reminded himself.

Am I also subject to these biological instincts in the minds of humans?

Because I know of them through observation, can I participate in them?

Can they be shared by an andreikelon nature such as mine through becoming acquainted with how they operate within human persons? Is it possible for me to create these instinctive responses within myself, though I lack the original biological instinct?

It would be regrettable if they were impossible drives for a mind familiar with what they were.

All at once, Achne started to sway, and then to shake.

Abax felt wavy and imbalanced as he watched her spasms grow wilder.

Did such reactions always occur in metapsychic senders?

Was such volubility inevitable in such instances of mental communication? he asked himself in wonder.

The Andreikelon Part I. Origin in Egypt

16 Jun

I.

Throughout his life, Thales was a man of unlimited curiosity about everything that touched his mind.

Departing from his native city of Miletos in Ionia, he sailed to Egypt with the goal of uncovering the secret, arcane knowledge of that ancient southern land. His mew home became the Greek colony city of Naucratis in the Western Delta of the Nile. But in his first week there he came to suffer severe migraine pain that forced him to seek medical aid.

The proprietor of the hostel where he was staying recommended that he go to see a doctor named Nikias to treat his cephalogia. Following the directions of his landlord, the young scholar with silvery hair and azure eyes walked through the twisting streets to the house where Nikias lived and practiced his profession.

A servant showed him into a small chamber where initial meetings with patients occurred.

Soon the tall healer appeared in white Egyptian linen, the kind worn by most Greek males in Naucratis. Thales still had on the Ionic wool kilt common in the Aegean world of Greek civilization.

“I take it that you are new here,” began the physician once he was seated. “You are still garbed in the Greek style. It takes time to adjust to Egypt and its torrid weather. But you shall learn that the native linen clothing is more comfortable that what Greeks bring here.”

Thales gave his name and place of origin.

“Are you in Naucratis on commercial business?” inquired the doctor.

“No,” said the patient, starting to reflect. “My mission is to acquire Egyptian knowledge and learning. But a horribly painful ailment is afflicting my head, what the common people call megrims. You physicians term it migraine or hemicrania. I myself believe that the most accurate word is cephalalgia, and illness far more complex that any of us can understand, I fear.”

The large doctor grinned. “Forgive me for smiling, but I am amazed at your knowledge in my own field. How did you come to it, may I ask?”

“I have studied many areas of learning in many different places,” answered Thales. “My beginning was as a trader between Miletos and the other cities of Ionia. My accumulated fortune is sufficient to allow me to dedicate my life to the pursuit of greater knowledge. It was that impulse that brought me to Egypt, not any desire to engage in trade.”

The physician thought a moment, then spoke.

“Have you ever been given massage of the head? I have acquired that specific skill from the Egyptian doctors who use it to treat cranial pains.”

Thales told him that it had never been tried on him, but that he was willing to receive such treatment if it held any promise and would do him no harm.

“Good,” nodded Nikias. “There is a pallet on the floor in the adjoining room. Go in there and lie down on it. I will take some medicaments from my dispensary and give them to you with water before beginning massage treatment on your head.”

By the time he left the building that afternoon, Thales was already feeling brain attacks less frequently and painfully. Their force was growing weaker. He promised the wise, adept healer to return the next day and for as many more sessions after that as were needed.

Dr. Nikias encouraged his new patient to relate his personal history during the series of massage treatments that followed.

Thales told him how, as a merchant of olive oil, he had constructed an improved press for squeezing out the precious oil. Later, by careful, continuous observation, he had formulated precise rules for predicting what the weather was going to be. That turned out to be a great boon to agriculture in Ionia. Then, for several years, he had worked supervising the construction of a great water canal in the land of Lydia.

“I picked up an important reason for coming here to Egypt,” confessed the Miletian. “I heard that Pharaoh Necho is planning to connect two seas across the Isthmus of Sinai. My plan was to travel to his capital at Saites and I hoped to win the position of chief engineer over the great project. But the high officials in charge turned me down flat. No foreigner is allowed to lead anything so enormous in Egypt.”

Nikias stopped massaging, bit his lip, and darkly frowned.

“That is why our position in this country worsens,” he muttered with anger. “The last Greeks to be given meaningful assignments by the Pharaoh or his government were navigators and sailors sent out on an exploring voyage to map out the dimensions of the land island on which Egypt rests. Pharaoh Necho is curious to learn the shape and extent of this continent. But no more Greeks are to be recruited for any further exploration, none at all.”

“That is too bad, for both Egypt and the Greeks,” sighed Thales. “There is much that we could contribute to the prosperity and well-being of this kingdom.”

The doctor thought for a short time, then spoke.

“All the Egyptians are not hostile to us,” he softly whispered. “I have a friend who has come to live with us in Naucratis. He is a priest without a post in any of the temples. This man was once a scribe in a scriptorium dedicated to the god named Thoth. The high priests came to fear and hate my friend and expelled him for the independence of his thinking.

“I believe that you would be deeply fascinated by the ideas that he has and the highly ambitious project he holds in the back of his mind.”

“That sounds interesting. What is this person’s name?”

“Iffa,” answered the physician. “I will arrange for him to come here some evening when you feel well. In the meantime, you must continue to take the compounds that I have mixed together to rid you of the pains that you feel in your head.

“You shall now have something to look forward to,” grinned the doctor.

II.

Thales set out for the house of his healer, where he was going to meet the expelled Egyptian priest. He passed by the Greek temples built by various groups of settlers in Naucratis. The Aeginians had constructed the temple of Zeus, the Samians the one dedicated to Hera, and his own colony of Milesians the magnificent shrine of Apollo.

At the center of the city stood the Hellenion, common to all the gods honored and worshiped at many points of origin of the early colonizers of Naucratis.

Nikias took the patient into a small reception room bright with light from several oil lamps. The two said little to each other, waiting for the arrival of the Egyptian priest no longer attached to any particular temple.

“How many Egyptians reside here in the city?” asked Thales out of the blue.

Nikias gave him a broad smile. “Only a few outcasts like the individual you shall soon meet and come to know.”

A house servant brought a towering figure in a dark blue robe into the room. Nikias rose and clenched hands in greeting with the surprisingly light-complected Egyptian. Then, the doctor led him to where Thales was standing and made the formal introductions.

Once the three were seated, Iffa began to talk directly to Nikias as if Thales was not at all there.

“It is difficult to deal with these Greek potters. They are perfect masters of their craft, far in advance of anyone else. Until they came to Egypt, no one had any knowledge of how to put a glaze on ceramic material. But I do not know which of them can be trusted to keep silent about what I plan to accomplish. That is why the fate of the project depends upon you, my dear Nikias.

“You have become the key to how it comes out.”

The physician turned to Thales with the purpose of bringing him into their exchange.

“What do you know about the craft of the potters in Miletos?” he inquired.

“When I was engaged in trade, I often bought pottery to take elsewhere for sale. The kilns used by potters of my city reminded me of the ovens of our bakers. I was surprised that they would throw not only straw but also the dung of animals into their clay before it was molded by them. This made it less stocky. Few buyers were aware of this unusual addition. I never revealed to buyers that there was often human excrement mixed into their fine, expensive pottery.”

Surprisingly, the huge Egyptian laughed upon hearing this. He set his sparkling almond eyes on the Greek stranger with the silver hair.

“You appear to be curious about the nature of things about you,” noted Iffa.

“Yes, that is quite true,” admitted Thales. “All categories of objects interest me. That was my main motive for coming to Egypt: to learn all that can be learned here. I mean to investigate all sorts of questions. That is why I have mastered your language and asked so many questions of people.”

The priest leaned forward, his eyes fixed on the face of the stranger.

“Tell me this: what is the human body composed of? Do you know that?”

Thales replied at once, without having to take time to think at length.

“Primarily, and mostly, of water,” he stated with confidence. “In my thinking, water happens to be the fundament of the world that we inhabit. Everything else, whether air, ground, or fire, originated from water. And when we ourselves were created, the main ingredient was the same precious liquid. Water is the universal creative factor.”

“Can you tell me how the living race of human beings came to be?” asked Iffa.

Thales gave him a radiant smile. “I have collected several accounts that exist here in Egypt. Some hold that the ram-headed god called Khum fashioned man on his pottery wheel. Two different figures are shaped out for each person: the physical body and the spirit. There is therefore both a real person and an invisible shadow. It is said that a similar creation occurs for each of us.

“Then there is a tale that claims that when the sun god, Re, wept for his two missing children, Shu and Tefnut, the tears fell from him and became the first, original human beings. Shu was the air, and Tefnut the water in us. From those two were born Geb the earth and Nut the sky. But it was the tears that gave birth to our kind.

“Another tale attributes human creation to Ptah, the craftsman god, who made man by thought and by naming him with a word. These differing versions are what I have discovered here in Egypt. I cannot determine how much truth exists in any one of them, though.”

The priest turned to their host. “This is an amazing man!” he told him, then looked at Thales and asked him a surprising question.

“Tell me one thing: do you know what a shabti happens to be?”

“Yes, indeed. I have read descriptions of such statue figures and figurines molded from clay here in Egypt. They are buried in tombs to serve as servants of the dead. The shabti are meant to feed and provide comforts for those who were once alive when they are reborn into another form of existence.”

At this point, Nikias decided to make a statement.

“Many important Egyptian families and temples are beginning to order shabti made by Greek potters. This is a growing business in Naucratis because of the superior skills of our Greek craftsmen. Wealthy Egyptian families prefer the shabti that are produced by skilled Greek hands.”

The priest continued on this subject. “The pyramids that were built ages ago are full of shabti, both miniatures and life-size ones. They were placed there to provide needed nourishment and important services for the ka spirits of the dead. Do you happen to know what the nature of a person’s ka is?” he directly asked Thales.

“That is said to be a personal spiritual double, a kind of second self, a non-material twin. It is born at the same time as an individual, always staying near the body, even after death. The very breath of life comes from this ka. It is a duplicate of the person who dwells within a body during an entire lifetime.”

Iffa continued his own explanation. “This ka double, though a spirit, is not the same as what you Greeks call the psyche. From what my friend Nikias tells me, I find that the Greek idea is closer to our Egyptian concept of the ba, the spiritual soul of an individual. The latter is able to distance itself far from the material body, like the Greek psyche. Our ba is eternal and never dies, like the psyche of you Greeks.

“But tell me this: do you understand what a ka double is for any human being?” the priest asked Thales.

“Yes, I am certain that I do,” replied the latter affirmatively. “I have a clear idea of what its nature is, I believe.”

All of a sudden, the priest turned to Nikias.

“Do you think that this man is willing to join with us?” he softly asked.

The doctor looked to the side, staring at his patient. “The two of us want to make you an offer, Thales. I told my friend that I believe you will decide to accept it.”

The patient turned to his physician with a spinning sensation in his head, afraid that his migraine might be returning soon. “What is this offer you speak of?” he asked Nikias.

It was Iffa who presented a proposal to him, making it concrete with words.

“For a number of years, at a temple librarium, I have hunted in manuscripts for evidence of whether the ka of one person could migrate into the body of another. In particular, if the double of a dead person might locate itself within someone else’s decreased body. Is the transport of a life spirit possible, from one corpse into another?”

“What would be the purpose of something like that?” eagerly inquired Thales.

“If a corpse cannot be returned to life, perhaps the ka can be led to inhabit a new, different home,” explained Iffa. “Let us suppose that we construct a clay shabti that resembles a human body as closely as possible. Could the ka of a dead body be attracted and induced to enter the image or model of a person? Could an advanced shabti draw to itself a lost spirit, so that a ka transmigrates into a new, different body?”

Thales raised his right arm and scratched his chin in wonder.

“I cannot say, because I do not know. This question demands long and deep thought.”

Iffa turned to Nikias. “We have provided him more than can be accepted in one single swallow. Why don’t we meet again tomorrow evening?”

The three agreed to assemble again at that time.

Once Thales took leave and departed for his hostelry, the other two looked at each other in silence for a considerable time.

“I think we have him with us,” whispered Nikias.

“Yes,” agreed the tall Egyptian. “So do I.”

III.

Once he was recruited into the group, Thales received the assignment of visiting ceramic workshops and making discrete inquiries. His fellow conspirators drilled him on what he was to find out about their pottery production. The first two candidates proved unpromising for the purpose in mind. The third, a Greek named Theron, was exactly right for their project.

The master potter was a short, corpulent man with curly blond locks of hair and turquoise eyes who had migrated to Naucratis years before from the northern Aegean island of Thasos. He had mastered his demanding craft working with talented experts both at home and in Egypt. His reputation was the highest in his craft anywhere.

Theron invited the potential customer named Thales to take a stool in his workshop and explain what he was seeking to have made.

“What specifically interests you, sir?” asked the artisan.

Thales recited the words he had memorized and used on the previous potters he had dealt with.

“Statuary promises to enjoy growing demand in all the cities of Egypt. Therefore, I have decided to find out what can be done with life-sized figurines. For instance, can a glazed faience surface be made supple and flexible, so as to resemble livinf skin? Can canals that carry fluid be built inside the clay of a shabti? In other words, can a servant figure be made to look lifelike?”

A wide smile spread over the reddish face of Theron.
more
“Why not?” he answered with fire in his tone. “It might take time, but I doubt not that what you propose is achievable.”

“Tell me more about what also you can produce,” said the suddenly happy searcher for an appropriate craftsman.

Theron proceeded to discuss the many possibilities of the potter’s craft for the rest of the morning. When Thales left him, he was convinced that the man they needed had been found. He walked at once to the doctor’s house to inform him of his success in locating the right artisan for their project.

“Bring the potter here tonight,” decided Nikias. “We must try to recruit him into our enterprise.”

The four men sat in a circle, the potter serving as the focus of questioning. Gradually, the latter learned the bold dimensions of what was planned. They were going to create a living being, but one with a borrowed life spirit. The double of one dead person, the ka, was to migrate into a newly constructed physical body.

It took considerable effort and time for Theron to comprehend what would be required of him. But in a while the craftsman began to propose solutions to problems he foresaw in such a strange, unprecedented endeavor.

“The skin of this new creature must be both strong and pliant. It has to hold its structure while being able to move flexibly.

“I believe it can be done using a woven fabric to which ceramic clay is attached. There will be an inner net below the outer skin. This will give it both form and elasticity.

“We shall need an adept weaver to produce this for a living, breathing shabti. And it will be difficult for such a being to breath air in and out. This will not be easy to achieve.”

Iffa, smiling ecstatically, made a revelation to his confederates.

“I believe it will be possible for us to use the canopic type of human organs preserved in mummified form in tombs. There is an endless, unlimited number of ceramic jars containing the parts we have in mind. Our tombs are packed with them and we can easily get our hands on them.”

Nikias was next to speak, not trying to conceal his shock at such an alarming idea.

“What you propose to do is contrary to the rules and principles of Egyptian law and religion. Are we to become criminal grave-robbers? I do not think we can merely purchase what you say will be needed. That is not a practical possibility in any way that I know.”

But the priest had a ready reply to this argument.

There are ancient, anonymous, forgotten burial sites with an abundance of such canopic jars. They hold all the organs that we will need. Abandoned towns and villages exist in many parts of Egypt. I myself know of many such locations. No one at all will see what goes on there at the burial sites.”

Neither of the others made any immediate response to what Iffa had said to them.

“Theron told me he will be able to color the skin clay to a reddish brown,” announced Thales. “It will not be a perfect simulation of human skin and what it looks like, but as close as possible to the natural hue of the population native to this land.”

A dark frown crossed the brow of the Egyptian priest.

“I do not intend to make this new being a perfect replica of any particular person. Remember, the shabti are merely servants and belong to a master who owns them as slaves. So, it is necessary that they be distinguishable from ordinary Egyptians and not be taken to be such people.

“As far as I know, the cheapist surface glaze for clay is bluish green. That shade is perfect for a low being like a shabti who will be laboring as a slave. After all, no such creature should be capable of rising above the low social station that we will give to it.”

Nikias asked a sensitive question. “What about the organs of reproduction? Do you intend to place them into what is going to be constructed?”

Iffa thought a moment before answering.

“Since these forms cannot be allowed to reproduce, there is no utility in giving them any such organs whatever. There is no advantage in placing these into their bodies, none at all.”

Nikias bit his lip, giving Iffa a look of puzzlement and surprise.

“They will, then, be like drone bees, what we Greeks call kephens,” sadly said the physician.

“What you name them is up to you Greeks to choose,” calmly muttered the Egyptian. “Since they will become much more than shabti have ever been, they might as well have an original name all their own. Yes, I like the term that you use for drones. The new being can be called a kephen in the Greek language.”

“Each of them must have an individual ka of its own,” Thales mused aloud. “That will be necessary in order that the new being can know itself at the center of its existence with clear understanding.”

“Not at all, not at all,” rejoined Iffa with vigorous force in his voice.

“I don’t understand,” objected Thales. “What are you getting at, Iffa? What kind of being is this construct of ours going to be without a ka?”

All at once, a divisive quarrel had arisen between two of the partners.

Iffa replied in a low, hushed tone.

“There is no need for every kephen drone to be given its own ka. A group of them could share the same internal spirit. That way, they would be easier to handle and control by their masters. Each one would be able to watch and discipline the others.

“Think of them as a company of drones always together, unable to separate from their fellow kephens, always working and sharing everything together, never alone. Never opposed to the others drones around it. A group that thinks, feels, and labors as one, easy to manage and order about.

“I can see them as field-workers, diggers of canals, haulers of stone for new tombs, temples, and pyramids. All hard labor shall be left to them. Eventually, their numbers will rise to incredible totals. Entire cities of the future will be composed of kephens, obeying and serving their master owners and the Pharaohs of Egypt.”

Thales felt his head begin to spin. He experienced unprecedented sensations that produced pain in his nerves.

This turn in the plan he had accepted was unforeseen and unexpected.

He had not realized until that moment that Iffa dreamed of creating a population of subhuman slaves, of insect-like drones tied to their labor.

Full of uncertainty, Thales decided that he had to continue his quest for more knowledge by continuing to cooperate on the project he had accepted and joined.

But he now possessed a deep sense of uneasiness.

For the time being, it was necessary for him to let the ideas of Iffa prevail in order to successfully create the new being.

IV.

Every evening, Thales and Nikias took long walks through Naucratis as twilight descended. Their destination was usually the banks of the western Nile.

Falling night transformed the cube buildings of the city into an eerie fantasy realm of the imagination. Both Greeks came to realize they were far from their homes. There were aspects of Egypt neither of them could defend or accept.

Nikias continued to express his disgust with the direction that their Egyptian ally planned to take with their plans.

“Iffa is going the wrong way,” he stated when the two of them were alone. “We are going to end up with mindless slaves lower than even the animals around us. These kephens will be like large insects, nothing more than that. The result of all our work will be valueless, except to the future slave-owners. I can see nothing but tragedy ahead with such servile, animal beings.”

THales turned to him with a bluish flame in his eyes, gleaming forth in the gathering darkness of the evening.

“I too am aggrieved that Iffa is determined to resurrect human organs in a body of baked clay and mud, yet he will leave out the core of a living human person. I refer, of course, to the psyche, what common people call the soul of an individual. That would be lacking in this kephen-to-be. What we will have then is a soulless drone without the human psyche that every man and woman possesses.

“This kephen cannot be other than completely different from you and me, or any other person who has ever lived.

“You can see and understand why I have a sense of great danger concerning the enterprise we have gotten involved in. It seems to me that Theron, the potter, shares this uneasiness with us.”

All of a sudden, Nikias looked up at the panoply of astral points in the now dark sky. The uncanny beauty of the heavens above Egypt overwhelmed the Greek physician. He was not able to say a word for a considerable while. Finally, he turned his eyes on Thales, slowly walking beside him.

“Old legends told our ancestors that the psychic soul can move from one person’s body into another. The term that we physicians give to such transportation of a psyche is metempsychosis. Have you heard of it, Thales?”
whispered Nikias.

“Yes, I have,” responded his companion. “At the moment of death, a psyche leaves the expiring body. Today, we Greeks believe that it travels below the surface of this world, down into Hades. But what if that is not the case in every instance? What if such a descent was not the inevitable fate of every single psyche?

“Our ancient ancestors once believed that every soul returns in the shape and form of another person. The ideas of today’s Greeks are completely different. But what if migration into another was possible under special circumstances? What if the psyche could return in another body?

“That would go much deeper than the transfer of only a ka double, I think.”

The two stopped and stared into each other’s face and eyes. Each one tried to read the inner thoughts of the other as best he could.

All at once, Thales looked away toward the Nile’s almost motionless waters. He spoke as if he were alone, talking to only himself.

“The priesthood of Egypt has never accepted transmigration of the psyche as an idea. They talk of the ka as a protective spirit that hovers over both living and dead bodies. It is like a personal twin or double that resists any kind of separation from the body of an individual.

“What Iffa proposes to do contradicts all the teachings of the temples in this land. He wishes to make one single ka dominant over a number of different, separate bodies. Besides that, he completely ignores any role for the ba, which is the equivalent of what we Greeks call the psyche or soul of a human being, the undying component of the life of a person.

“A drone-like kephen will lack its own separate double, as well as an individual soul. What can it be beyond an artificial animal with a thoroughly uncertain character and nature?”

Neither man said anything for a considerable time as they walked along the Nile. Finally, Nikias announced a conclusion he had reached in his mind.

“Our entire venture has become uncertain and risky,” he muttered in a troubled tone. “You and I should never have given so much control over everything to Iffa. Is it too late to reverse the way our plan is going? Will we be able to avert some kind of disaster?”

Thales remained silent, not able to give him a clear answer.

Seven bodies made of clay resulted from the work of Theron in his pottery workshop. The labor was slow, difficult, and extremely painstaking because the master craftsman had to satisfy the strict demands made by Iffa. The latter brought several Egyptian embalmers from the temple of Thoth to supervise the design and the molding of these bodies. The relations between the potter and the embalmers grew tense and unfriendly. Theron went to see Thales to complain about the treatment of himself and his workers by these Egyptians.

“They show us no respect whatsoever,” he said to the Milesian. “These intruders order my men about and prevent us from finishing what we have started. The conditions in my workshop have intolerable. We cannot go on like this.”

Iffa himself came to both Nikias and Thales with reports of insubordination by Theron and his potters. His orders were being ignored and not being fulfilled with speed. “Please tell these Greek craftsmen that they are to obey their superiors as commanded. We are all of us engaged in the same effort, are we not?”

Neither partner answered him directly.

“We will talk with Theron again,” ptomised Nikias. “But there is no way we can make everyone involved think in one way, is there?”

Thales smiled inwardly. He realized that he was not of one mind with the Egyptian Iffa, and neither was Nikias. They were going to have to break with the kephen scheme of the priest.

V.

The decisive day at last arrived, the day of the connections of canopic organs to the clay bodies of the new creatures.

Iffa ran about the workshop of Theron in a frenzy, overseeing the preparations for the attempt at enlivenment.

A team of Egyptian embalmers in bright yellow robes moved about with excitement and enthusiasm. They rushed from body to body that lay on high pallets. This day promised them magnificent glory and victory.

It was the idea of Iffa to raise the seven clay figures into action at one time as a group of bodies. All the kephens had to be ready for labor and movement at the same moment. They were never to be separated from each other. Their mission was to march to the temple of Thoth under the command of Iffa. The latter nursed the hope that his kephens would help rehabilitate his standing as a priest.

The final step had arrived, the encasement of canopic brains into the cold ceramic bodies. It took several hours of labor for the craftemen and embalmers to accomplish this. Clay skulls now sealed the heads of the seven lying figures.

Iffa moved over to the side to stand beside Theron, Nikias, and Thales.

The first trial of the new creatures was ready to begin.

All at once, each kephen began to shake and twitch. Arms, hands, and feet moved about wildly. Spasmodic jerking, rolling, and waving grew dangerously unrestrained. The clay bodies, only an armspan apart, started to strike and hit at each other and themselves as well. An unexpected scene of madness and mayhem startled and confused the persons who witnessed what was occurring. A merciless fight broke out among the seven awakening drones. A kephen riot spread about. It was a disaster that no one could have foreseen.

Thales and Nikias stared in confusion at Iffa. They were scandalized by the ghostly animal sight in front of them. What had happened to these creatures to make them cutthroat destroyers of each other? Were they by their nature a breed of hideous monsters? At the moment, no one had any explanation for the evil scene they had witnessed.

The kephens hit, tore, and bit at each other like feral monstrosities.

What would have earlier been considered impossible could now be seen about on the workshop floor. It was incomprehensible and unimaginable. Anarchic destruction and murder had reached their highest limits.

Inner compulsion and twisted instincts had forced the kephens to attack each other with demonic fury. Arms and legs struck everywhere. Scratching turned cruel and brutal. The human group watched in shock the mutual decimation of all the kephens they had constructed.

No one dared interfere as, one by one, death came to the demented beings.

At the end, two kephens killed each other simultaneously. Not one of the drones had survived the hellish slaughter.

The small crowd of potters and embalmers melted away.

The three initiators remained speechless. Even after the last act of killing, no one was able to say anything. They had seen something that had never happened before. It was unexplainable to all of them.

Thales made a vow to himself that this would never happen again.

Was this to be the inevitable fate of all attempts to construct life?

The three humans who had begun and organized this did not look at each other as they separated and each went his own way.

It was now understood that the joint program of Greeks and Egyptians was finished for good. Iffa and the embalmers departed immediately, without a word to anyone. The priestly caste of Egypt would never be interested in a failure like this. There would no longer be any partnership of two groups. The kephen project had died.

The Greek partners burned the kephen corpses in a desert field far from Naucratis. This was completed on a moonless night with no outsiders about to witness the event.

Thales had great difficulty falling asleep that night and several of the following ones. For a long time, memories of the slaughter kept recurring in his mind. Again and again he saw the shredding clay flesh and smashed organs. Even when asleep, frightening dreams came to him out of his unconscious. Vicious, bloody blows were struck once more. Death came to the newly born creatures as vividly as at the actual scene of the action. Gore streamed about on all sides as before. The tragic ending to the kephens troubled him all the rest of his life.

But in time another picture came to Thales as he slept.

A series of operating looms had weavers busy at work on them.

What was it that they were turning out? What were their hands producing?

Thales was astounded, almost horrified, when he identified the product as skin, tissue, and flesh. Around their devices, men and women were working with needles, sewing together some material into skin. Their capable hands were creating a fabric of a special character that resembled human skin.

This dream served him as an instantaneous revelation of what might be possible.

Not potter’s clay but a new fabric made by weavers was the solution to making a humanlike being.

Thales awakened and raised himself from his bed.

I have to talk with Nikias about this matter, he said to himself with excitement.

VI.

The physician listened spellbound to Thales as he described the new vision that had come to him. He considered a long time in silence, then began to give his reaction in a low, solemn tone.

“It was probably a mistake to bring Iffa into this venture of ours. His perspective as a priest of Thoth made our success impossible. He had the aim of bringing wealth and power to the temples and the priesthood through the slave labor of the new kephens. I can see that now. We were fools to trust him. What you and I do in the future must be free of anything like his dominance. It must not be based on selfish greed of any sort.”

“I agree,” said Thales. “We must turn away from the potter’s craft and become partners with the weavers in Naueratis. The textile artisans must show us how to create and shape an artificial person. And to make it safe to live with, we have to find a way to place a human psyche within its body. Our new being will have to possess a soul of its own. We must guard against making anything resembling the monsters we watched dying before us.

“The problems ahead of us will be many, and solutions to them will not be at all easy,” sighed the man from Miletos.

An idea suddenly occurred to Nikias.

“Let us talk to Theron. Though he is a potter, he must be acquainted with some of the weavers in this city. Our friend may know where to find the skills and talents we shall be needing.”

It was late that afternoon that the two met with Theron in the shambles of his workshop. The potter boiled with anger at the Egyptian priest and the embalmers.

“Yes, I am at your service, dear friends.

“We Greeks must band together and help each other, or else all of us will be lost. I believe that I am acquainted with the best weavers in Naucratis. My sense is that they will be eager to join in such a plan as you have just described to me. There will no doubt be problems in doing what you wish. There will be a need for a sharp mind in this creature that will be made. That was obviously lacking in the kephens that destroyed themselves.

“How can such a thinking organ be constructed for the new being that you seek to create?”

Thales hesitated a moment, then told him what he had dreamed about that question the previous night.

“I have been pondering what I witnessed in a dream of mine. Can a compact, nimble mind with high intelligence be provided by some method and placed within an artificial person?”

Theron thought for a time in silence, the other two staring at him as they waited for his reply.

“I do not know for certain,” muttered the potter, “but several metalworkers are friends of mine. An inquiry can be carried out among them by me. Then, I can report to you what I learn from these masters of metal work.”

Nikias came in with his opinion. “It may take us a long time, but we shall surely reach our goal. I intend to close my medical practice and devote all my efforts to this goal. My hope is to see it achieved before I die.” He paused a moment, then continued. “My health is in decline. I do not believe my life will be long. If I am fortunate, I will see the creature we aspire to create. That is what I shall concentrate on.”

Over the next several days, Theron summoned groups of weavers to meet with him at his workshop. The discussions went on smoothly. Within a week, Thales and Nikias were in conference with a group of experienced textile artisans. It was explained to them that what was needed was a fabric that could not be distinguished from natural human flesh. Skin that resembled that of living persons was necessary. It had to be both strong and flexible.

“I plan to spend the years ahead solving these problems,” confessed Thales to Nikias and the others involved with him. “There is nothing more important that I can devote myself to.”

Theron, though a potter by craft, volunteered to coordinate the work of the various textile groups engaged in the new project. He acted as the intermediary between the weavers and Thales. Month by month, the health of Nikias deteriorated and he became unable to accomplish as much as before.

In a year, the goal of a skin and organ fabric was attained. But there was to be no celebration, for the death of the physician approached closer each day.

Thales visited the sickbed of his friend to report on the successful production of a fabric similar to human skin.

“It is a lifelike material made from brown anthrax coals and bitumen. These were hard to find here in Egypt, but we finally created what we need.

“Now, our task will be to go on to further victories and successes.”

Nikias gave him a wan, stiff smile. “We are on our way,” he lowly murmured. “The path ahead is now clear for us.”

VII.

It took several years for Thales the philosopher to construct the humanlike organism he dreamed of.

I came to Egypt to discover the highest, most sublime knowledge possible, he told himself many times. And what can be of greater value than learning the essence of our own nature by creating similar beings by ourselves? We will take the core of our being and perfect it through the power of our thought. But to accomplish such a thing, the secrets of our humanness must first be uncovered. That will make it easier for us to construct what we wish to.

Thales labored unceasingly, applying all his mental ability and energy in cooperation with the skilled Greek craftsmen of Naucratis.

With enormous work and effort, new body tissue was successfully fabricated.

Gaianthrax coal, xilanthrax charcoal, katran tar, and asphalt were combined into a single compound.

Sap from living animals provided life-giving auxins, zoticotes, and snszogons to the new fabric woven into flesh and tissue.

The craftsmen provided Thales with membranes of mucosa, pleura, endothelia, endestea, pericardia, and peritonea that went into the organs of the new body.

One by one, analogues of human organic tissue resulted.

Meninges membranes became the basis of nerves and spinal cord cells.

Pellicular and arachoid tissues of the most complex and delicate nature came out of the workshops of the Greek masters.

A yellow haemal fluid taken from animal blood was prepared for the fibrous blood vessels of the new being.

The greatest problem, though, turned out to be that of making a functioning brain for the person they were constructing.

Thales decided to turn to the Greek metalworkers of Naucratis for a solution.

“The answer we need lies in a system of tiny metal mirrors,” he instructed them. “This new mind will rest upon the secrets of catroptics, of reflected light. The mind of man as we know it resembles most closely a mirror. Therefore, we should use mirrors as the fundamental base of a constructed brain.”

The metal experts were able to alloy silver with rare salts and metals such as lanthanon and glucinium. Many combinations were attempted and rejected, until Thales found what he was hunting for in a metallic compound that contained streaks of imported amber from the Far North, beyond the Euxine Sea.

“Amber is the critical factor,” concluded Thales to his specialized craftsmen. “It permits the mind to operate as if there were an infinity of possible connections of thought and ideas possible of conception.”

Thales fell into the habit of visiting the dying Nikias several times a day as the physician’s health declined and his end came nearer. He discussed his developing philosophy concerning the character and nature of the human mind and how to apply the insights it provided for the project that consumed them.

“The mind of man possesses several different planes, levels, and zones of thinking,” speculated Thales. “An idea consists of a light-like beam which can move through any combination of these contiguous gradations.

“Each sector of the mind reflects and redirects the different mental rays, weaving them together into complex patterns and formations, an entire fabric of thoughts.

“Refraction of ideas can go on in an infinite variety of different directions.

“Division and addition proceeds wherever there is abstract thought occurring.

“Thoughts and ideas cross over the meridians of the mind and change within their new zonal homes there.

“No wonder we human beings are so contradictory and inconsistent!

“Our minds operate as chaotic continents of reflections forever being repositioned by our internal mental mirrors.

“Thoughts change their meaning and significance as they enter new tracts and areas of the brain. An idea is never always the same because it is a product of reflections continually bounced about between these tiny mirrors inside us.”

Noticing that Nikias had fallen asleep, Thales quietly made his way out of the physician’s bedroom, resolving to return and see his friend as soon as possible.

The expiring man, emaciated and haggard, was wide-awake and fully conscious when Thales saw him again. He had reached an important decision about what he wanted to be done with him after his demise.

“I have decided upon how I can make a contribution to the new person who shall soon be given life,” he informed the other. “My intention is to donate my personal psyche, once it is free of my body, to the new being that we are putting together.

“Is the synthetic, artificial body almost finished?”

“It now lies dormant, not moving, breathing, or thinking. The body still lacks the breath of life given by having a psyche.”

Nikias looked at the philosopher with a strange light in his eyes. “Could the constructed one be given mine? Once I am gone, my own psyche will be free to leave my body and migrate elsewhere. Could it move into the person we have created?”

“Why not?” said Thales, a placid smile on his face. “There is no way we can be certain that your soul will transport itself the way we desire, into the new, artificial body. Luck and fortune will decide whether that is going to occur. We can only place you close to the new one and encourage the movement however we are able to.”

All of a sudden, Nikias lifted his right hand and offered it to his friend.

Thales instantly took hold of it with his own.

“I will attempt such a deed,” murmured the physician. “Will my own psyche have any memory of its previous life after settling into a new place, though?”

“That is still unknown,” averred the other. “I have my doubts that a new life will have any remembrance of any previous experience in someone else. That seems the most logical and reasonable conclusion that can possibly be made.”

“That is good,” muttered the dying man. “I would not wish to burden the new life with a load of memories from its past.”

Thales told Nikias farewell and departed for the nearby workshop where lay the inert artificial body. His task now was to have the latter moved beside his dying friend and hope that the released psyche would accept the new home that was going to offered to it.

The construct was hauled into the bedroom by a group of metalworkers and weavers and placed alongside the bed of Nikias.

Thales whispered instructions to those aiding him in this final configuration.

“We must leave the two of them together alone so that at the appropriate moment the new incarnation can occur,” explained the philosopher. “So, let us leave the pair to themselves and only have a look into the bedroom from time to time.”

The workers left, while Thales went out to wait in the adjacent chamber, close to the scene of what was awaited to happen. Would it come about as hoped? everyone involved in the enterprise wondered.

Several times that night, Thales glanced into the dark bedroom for any sign of either death or transmigration. Did the physician show any sign of continuing to draw breath?

It was on the fifth inspection that he could clearly decide that death had arrived and that Nikias was inert.

Thales at once entered the bedroom and stepped over to the litter where the new creature lay at the level of the floor. He searched for any sign or hint of the hoped for transference.

The construct now has breath of its own! he realized with wonder and excitement. The psyche has relocated itself. It has departed from the body of Nikias, who has expired. The soul has relocated itself and has given life to the body that the craftsmen have assembled and fashioned in the workshop.

The human psyche has completed a leap of transference and now exists in a different site and body.

The creature must now be taught to move, see, and hear on its own. I will be its teacher, the philosopher said to himself.

It must master language and social intercourse with humans.

We have accomplished what was considered impossible by most of this world, and must now go on to introduce the world to our wonder.

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 right 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 half 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 went 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 resounding 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.

Bren, losing his balance, started to fall forward. The electro-magnetic device rolled forward as his legs bent and 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. The object became free of the entire vessel.

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 victim.

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 here 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 know 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 psychiatrists 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 rupturing 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

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 particular 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 home 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.