Lords of Being
Chapter 26: The Babe Magnet
Neville goes into Fairplay to visit the local museum. It’s a small, low-slung town, surrounded by forest, but the town itself is treeless. The museum’s exhibits mostly concentrate on the “Wild West” period of Fairplay’s history, but it does have a library. You can’t take the books out, but they allow note-taking. There are books on Colorado folklore, mostly from the Ute Indians. The folklore describes ogrish creatures that tended to eat people – perhaps a variant of the Big Foot legend. They also have many animal people stories, many featuring Bear and Wolf. As he’s reading, Neville feels that someone is reading over his shoulder. He looks to his left to see a purple pseudopod “peering” over his shoulder. He thinks at it, “This isn’t a good place.” The pseudopod stretches up to the ceiling, attaches, and pulls the rest of the blob up. It heads towards one of the bookcases. There are “bubbles” in the blob. He hadn’t noticed them when Asiras manifested in his lap.
Neville thinks at it, “That’s not better. This is a public place. Someone might see you.” Asiras fades out of sight. Neville goes back to reading. Suddenly he realizes that there’s a lot more of the blob than there was when it was in the Tupperware container in York. When Loois showed him his native state, he was bigger still, but there’s a lot more of Asiras than there used to be.
Neville hears footsteps coming down the corridor. A young woman looks into the alcove that Neville is reading in. She’s looking around interestedly. “Did you see a… um… lavender bowling ball rolling on the floor?”
Neville looks up from his reading and shakes his head. “No.”
“I’m sure I did. It’s not something you can be wrong about.”
“I’m sure I would have heard it.”
“Sorry.” She drifts off, and Neville returns to his reading. After a while, she comes back. “I’m sure I saw it roll into this alcove.”
Neville looks up from his reading again, “Have you seen … odd things… before? I’m a paranormal investigator.”
“Oh? I’m something of an investigator myself. My name is Perry Hengist.”
“What sort of things do you investigate?”
“Well, my best work has been done with ghost in Chicago.”
“Were they manifesting there?”
“What did you see?”
“Some grumpy old gangsters. Some people never get over getting mowed down in the course of their work. I was able to interview them, and managed to persuade some of them to move on.”
“Did they have any sense of where they were going?
“Several of them seemed worried about it. Given their careers, I can see why. I’m not sure where they moved on too. Just out of Chicago.”
“How fascinating. Have you written this up?”
“Perhaps I will.”
Neville then tells her that he’d just been at the British Psychical Research Society, and then lets slip his name.
“You’re the one with inconsistent object! You look totally different without the beard.”
Oops. He should look totally different. Rosamund changed him totally down to his genome. And his papers have a new name; Kevin Collins. Flustered, he asks, “The what?”
“The inconsistent object! Not everybody could see it. I couldn’t make it to the convention so I was keeping tabs on the website. There was a lot of discussion of inconsistent objects, and of record keeping. The images of your object kept disappearing. By the way, what happened to it? The inconsistent object?”
“It disappeared in the confusion after the lights went out.”
“Well, we can always hope that it will come back. Your object generated quite a bit of controversy! There was one person on the BPRS convention blog who was accusing you of committing fraud. And another one claiming that if there's an inconsistency in a system, you can do anything with it. You know, like dividing by zero lets you prove anything is equal to anything else? So he says you could use the inconsistent object as a kind of lever to do anything at all. He’s a member of the British Psychical Research Society and a philosophy professor at Oxford, and if you ask me, that‘s just asking for trouble.
Neville shakes his head, “I’m afraid I don’t know him.” Attempting to change the subject, he asks, “So what brings you to Fairplay?”
“I’m researching legends of the Old West.”
“I’m falling back on ghosts. Of course there’s always the cattle mutilations and black helicopters.”
“What did the ghosts look like?”
“It varies a good deal. There can sometimes be a vague feeling that someone is there. And I’m sure you’ve heard of the cold spots. Though there can be full body apparitions. If you reach out to touch them, you find yourself reaching into an area of very cold air. Have you heard of being sensitized?”
“Most people can only see the higher-level spirits; the full materializations. If you work with apparitions a lot, you get sensitized to the lower-level visitations.”
Neville suggests that she consider looking into some of the Ute legends he was reading about. After talking for a while, she stands and shakes his hand.
“I’m very glad to meet you. I’m sorry the Inconsistent Object has disappeared.”
Neville grins. “I’m sure it will show up again.”
As she walks away, Neville thinks, “Asiras, have you been rolling around?” There’s no response. Neville thinks again, “Please be sure that you don’t get seen by anybody else.” Again, there’s no response. Neville shakes his head and returns to his reading for a bit, then packs up his notebook and heads back to Longhorn’s ranch.
The house is deserted when he arrives, so Neville heads over to the hanger sheltering the plane, where he finds Glass, Rosamund and Hellgrammite. Rosamund appears to be painting a pattern of leaves on the plane. Looking closer, Neville notices that the “paint” appears to be under the thin layer of silicon that Glass covered the plane with. He asks the Lady of Chaos, “What are you doing?”
Rosamund blinks and focuses on the macro level. “Art.”
“Oh. It’s… green.”
“Mainly. It’s one of my favorite colors.”
“Is there a reason to paint the plane green?”
“For one, it’s more interesting. And it will be more energy efficient. These are… to explain it simply, these are plants, and they collect energy from the sun.”
“And we can use that?”
“Hellgrammite has devised some marvelous systems. You wouldn’t believe what he can do.” What she hasn’t explained is that the algae she’s “painting” with will create photosynthetic solar panels. Hellgrammite is connecting them to the plane’s power system. He’s also adapting some of the technology from Saul’s car to generate additional power. There are mechanical sounds from inside the airplane.
Neville adds, “Oh. By the way. I saw Asiras today. When I was at the library. He decided to go walkies.”
“Did he come back with you?”
“I don’t know.”
Rosamund concentrates on Neville, “You’re right. Now that I look at you, he’s not with you.”
“I’m sure he’ll find me. Anyway, he was much larger than when I first saw him. The person who saw him claimed he was the size of a very large bowling ball. So either he’s regenerating or…”
“Gathering himself together.”
“You’d think I’d have noticed.”
“There were those dreams.”
Glass wanders by. “When did you get back.?”
“A couple of minutes ago.”
“Did you leave something behind?”
“Asiras went walkies while I was in Fairplay.”
“We were trying to protect him.”
“It’s not like I could grab him and stuff him back in.
“Where did you misplace him?
“At the library in the museum in Fairplay.”
“At least no one saw him.”
“No, there was a woman who saw him.”
Glass touches his “watch” and stops time, and then runs to town. As he approaches the outskirts of Fairplay, he realizes that he sensed Asiras closer to the ranch. He returns the way he came and picks up the “scent.” He’s heading down Route 284, a rural highway. There’s a kind of gully next to the highway, with pine forest beyond it. Asiras is more or less globular, rolling down the ditch towards the ranch. As Glass approaches in stopped time, Asiras extends a pseudopod towards him. Glass reaches out a hand. The pseudopod sculpts itself into a hand and shakes.
Glass tentatively asks, “Hello? Sir?” Asiras stretches up on three pseudopods and elongates. Glass squats down to “meet” it. “I was looking for you sir. To take you back to Neville and the rest of us. It’s easier to protect you that way.”
The “thumb” stretches out to Glass’ left wrist and “caresses” Glass’s watch. Then the pseudopods abruptly pull back the into Asiras’ body. With a “swoosh,” Asiras goes off towards the ranch.
Glass runs home. As he approaches, he sees a tire rolling down the road. It’s slowed down, and pink now. It rolls right up to Neville and then precesses around Neville, getting smaller and smaller until it disappears.
Glass reaches over to his watch, and time resumes. “That’s better.”
Rosamund can tell the Asiras is back. “He’s back.”
Neville can’t feel any difference, but responds, “Oh good.”
Glass continues, “I was just concerned that someone would find him first. He’s not in… top form.”
Neville suggests, “Then perhaps someone needs to come with me when I go to the museum. I can’t wrangle him. I can’t even tell if he’s there or not.”
Glass grins. “That Neon and I can help with.”
With that, Glass wanders off to one of the workstations where he is surrounded by the glass menagerie, mirrors, and hourglasses.
Rosamund resumes her work on the plane.
Since there’s nothing useful he can do on the plane, Neville returns to the ranch house and googles for information on the woman he met this afternoon. He finds that there’s a Hengist family in Chicago. Mr. Hengist works at the Field Museum of Natural History. Mrs. Hengist doesn’t appear to have a job. They have a daughter named Parsifine Elizabeth Hengist. Neville can see why she calls herself “Perry.” There’s nothing on the net about Parsifine and her paranormal research activities or activities with ghosts.
He then bounces through a couple of anonymizing servers and searches for “ghost drinkers.” There appears to be a lot of activity in the area of LA and Paris. People who do it are willing to pay a lot of money. There’s nothing on eBay or Craig’s List, though he does find oblique discussions of quality and provenance on very anonymous chat boards. Ghosts that are up for imbibing are sometimes referred to as “smokes”. There appears to be a very thinly spread traffic in ghosts for consumption.
Glass starts working on a menagerie member that can see Asiras, in view of the fragmented Chaos Lord's recent ramblings. He comes up with a magnifying glass on legs that can see and show Asiras and his recent trail.
Mabel has been running with Hookie. She finds she can generate extra prana that way. After tiring Hookie out, she goes into Fairplay and runs with free-roaming dogs there. She only recruits one or two at a time so it doesn’t look like there’s a pack of them.
Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, Glass2 is working on filling his entanglement slots and trying to figure out what he needs to do to stay on Earth.
Last Updated: Dec 11, 2009
©2009 Barry Tannenbaum, All Rights Reserved