8.4 Neither Here Nor There
Dagzê District, Tibet: November 2036
Rayburn and Ashley watched as Doctor Eugene Hillary Thompson adjusted the headsets on the assembled monks and then placed a similar one on his own head. The deep thrumming sound that resonated around the ancient hall was almost deafening and Ashley would never get over the fact that the human larynx could generate such unearthly harmonies.
"I'll have a headache for days after this," he whispered to Rayburn, who seemed to be having the same problem.
"Watch the screen," Thompson said, pointing to the computers and other devices that seemed totally out of place amongst the Tibetan relics and carvings. "They used to just be able to make things vibrate or shimmer slightly."
"And now, with the headsets?" Rayburn asked.
Thompson didn't reply – there was no need. The pitch of the sound emanating from the twenty-three monks deepened even further and, in front of them, the object of their attention, a statue half as tall as a man, started to shake. It was hard to keep it in focus and Rayburn had to blink and turn his head away for a moment.
After about a minute the intensity of the sound peaked and the statue disappeared. Five seconds later it reappeared and the sound levels decreased and, finally, silence replaced it.
Thompson removed his headpiece and the monks did likewise.
"Where exactly did it go?"
Thompson grinned, "Yes, that is something we'd definitely like the answer to."
8.5 Tuning Up
Peru, close to the Ecuador border, South America: April 2047
Professor Rayburn and Doctors Thompson and Ashley sat with the students, all apparently in meditation. The room they occupied was part of a modern single-story construction. It was open to the outside but, despite the forest that grew all around, no bird or insect dared enter the room. Even the sound of the forest appeared to have been muted at the room's boundary.
The students made no sound, and neither did Thompson, Rayburn or Ashley. But the conversation was intense, loud and agitated. Some students wore headpieces in order to join the conversation, others no longer had need of such things.
The conversation itself dwelt upon the restructuring of the human brain in accordance to the persistence of repetitious mental exercises. To some the language used was words, others perceived it as pictures that swam across their vision while, for a few, it was like the complicated harmonised melody of a song.
Unmoving, the participants were encouraged to add their own voice or thoughts to the conversation/image/song, blending and enhancing the experience of the whole group.
After an hour they started to relax and the sound of the forest was allowed to flow in through the open windows. The students got to their feet and wandered off to other parts of the building in search of refreshment, sleep or some other activity.
Rayburn watched Thompson and Ashley follow the students and then returned to his meditation, his mind drifting beyond the confines of his physical body.
Several miles away some illegal loggers were contemplating a stand of trees just inside the edge of the forest in Ecuador. Rayburn concentrated for a short while. The loggers watched in surprise as one of their bulldozers exploded, maiming the man standing next to it. A chainsaw started up unexpectedly, leaping out of the hands of the man holding it to fall and slice the legs from his body. Two other loggers were unable to resist an overpowering urge to strangle each other, a task to which they applied the greatest of effort. The rest screamed and ran in all directions as Rayburn infected their minds with the promise of other horrific possibilities should they return. He vaguely regretted the deaths, but it would save more in the long run – there was precious little rainforest left and far too many people.
After peace returned to the trees Rayburn stirred again and followed the others.
8.6 There And Back Again
Between Komari and Pottuvil, Sri Lanka: 2051
From several feet away Doctor Eugene Hillary Thompson concentrated on the glass marble on the table. He eased it out of reality and held it alongside in a place that normal logic would say shouldn't exist. After a few seconds he pulled the marble back again. The lump of putty, which had held the marble in place, was not only distorted but it had also emitted a curl of smoke, which made him frown and tut to himself.
Thompson took the headset off and let the sounds of the world re-enter his ears. He walked across to the table and examined both the marble and putty closely, without touching either. Then, with a pair of rubber-tipped tongs, he placed the marble in the 3D scanner and put the machine to work. He had to rotate the marble several times so that the scanner could get a good look at it from all angles.
After setting the computers to work analysing the results and comparing them to the similar set taken two hours previously, he locked the door and went to lunch.
Some time later, after a stroll along the beach where the Indian Ocean lapped the Sri Lankan sand, he returned and looked over the results of the comparison.
The marble, they said, was unchanged.
It was a pity the same couldn't be said about the putty.
Well, that's a bit of history added into the mix. Yes, it will all (hopefully) make sense at some point! Thank you for reading Splinters. Do please vote and/or leave a comment to tell me what you think.
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