Wednesday, November 3, 2010

TG&SS Part VII Chs 5 (conclusion) to 6 Synopsis 62

Part VII chapter 5 (conclusion)

Tesla has been given five minutes to correctly interpret the Shoal medallion. Only if she can crack the code with Jaffe to help heal the breach at the mansion which might allow chaos into the Cosm.

Tesla urged Jaffe to stop staring at her. Then she stood up and went to the cavern entrance with the medallion. Hotchkiss was there. He had heard the bargain being discussed and agreed to. Hotchkiss had no idea how to interpret the medallion. She went to Grillo, who was closed down with claustrophobia and refused to open his eyes. No help there. She looked at Witt, face down, dead in the water of the underground pool.

She tried not to think of the seconds ticking away and focused again on the medallion. The center figure was human. The forms that spread from it were not. Were they familiars, maybe? Or the central figure's children? That made more sense. There was a creature between the spread legs like a stylized ape; beneath that something reptilian; beneath that –

Tesla realized that they weren't children, they were ancestors. It was devolution. Man at the center, ape below. Lizard, fish and protoplasm (an eye or a single cell) below that. The past is below us, Hotchkiss had said once. Maybe he'd been right.

Assuming that to be correct, Tesla wondered what this implied about the designs on the other three arms. Above the figure's head, something with a huge head seemed to be dancing. Above that, the same form, simplified, and again above that, s simplification, which reached its conclusion as another eye or single cell. Following the pattern of the first interpretation, this wasn't so difficult to understand. Below were images of life leading up to man; above, surely, beyond man, the species elevated to a perfect spiritual state. That explained two of the four arms.

How long did she have?
He told herself to ignore time, just solve the problem. From right to left across the medallion, the sequence made less sense. At the extreme left was another circle, with something like a cloud in it. Beside it, closer to the figure's outstretched arm, a square, divided into four; closer still what looked to be lightning; then a splash of some kind (blood from the hand?)(; then the hand itself. On the other side a series of even less comprehensible symbols. What might have been another spurt from the figure's left hand; then a wave, perhaps, or snakes (if she wasn't being too literal); then a scrawl, as if some sign had been scratched out; and finally the fourth and final riddle, which was a hole, bored in the medallion. The symbols progressed from solid to not-solid. Did this mean day and night? Perhaps known and unknown? If so, then the first symbol was round, cloudy and known, so what was it?

The world, the Cosm! Which would mean the round hole on the other end was the Metacosm! That left the figure in the middle, the crux of the whole design. “I've got it!” she shouted through to him, “I've got it!” she said, partly bluffing and counting on her instincts.

The fire inside the cave was very low, but there was a horrible brightness in Jaffe's eyes.

“I know what it is,” she said.

“You do?”

“It's evolution on one axis, from a single cell to Godhood.” She knew by the look on his face that she'd got that part right at least.

“Go on,” he said. “What's the other axis?”

“It's the Cosm and the Metacosm. It's what we now and what we don't now.”

“Very good,” he said. “Very good. And in the middle?”

“Us. Human beings.”

His smile spread, “No,” he said.


“That's an old mistake, isn't it. It' not as simple as that.”
“But it's a human being, right there!” she said.

”You still the the symbol.”

“I'm close. I'm really close, aren't I?”

“You see how it is? You can't work it out. Even with a little help from your friends.”

“I didn't get any help,” Tesla protested. “Hotchkiss can't do it. Grillo's lost his mind. And Witt's --”

Witt's lying in the water, she thought. But she didn't say that, because the image of the drowned man suddenly struck her with revelatory force. He was lying sprawled in the water with his arms spread out and his hands open.

“My God,” she said. “It's Quiddity. It's our dreams. It's not flesh and blood at the crossroads, it's the mind.”

Jaffe's smile disappeared, and the light in his eyes got brighter; a paradoxical brightness that didn't illuminate but took light from the rest of the chamber into itself.

“It is, isn't it?” she said. “Quiddity's the center of everything. It's the crossroads.”

He didn't answer her. He didn't need to. She knew without the least doubt that she'd got it right. The figure was floating in Quiddity, arms spread out as he, she or it dreamed in the dream-sea. And somehow that dreaming was the place where everything originated: the first cause.

“No wonder you couldn't do it,” she said. “When you realized what you faced in Quiddity. No wonder.”

“You may regret this knowledge,” he said.

“I never regretted knowing anything in my life.”

“You'll change your mind,” he said. “I guarantee it.”

Jaffe then didn't exactly refuse to help them get above ground, nor did he re-neg on his promise and his bet. Instead, he argued that it was useless to try to close the breach. No one knew what to do.

Tesla recommending going to the Vance house and asking an expert.

“There are none,” Jaffe replied.

“There's Kissoon,” she said. “He owes us one. In fact he owes us several. But first, we have to get out of here.”

Jaffe looked at her for along time, as though he wasn't yet certain whether to acquiesce or not.

“If you don't do this,” she said, “you'll end up here in the dark where you spent how long … twenty years? The Iad will break through and you'll be here, underground, knowing the planet's been taken. Maybe they'll never find you. You don't eat, do you? You're beyond eating. You can survive, perhaps a hundred years, a thousand years. But you'll be alone. Just you and the dark and certain knowledge of what you did. Does that sound tasty enough for you? Personally, I'd prefer to die trying to stop them getting through --”

“You're not very persuasive,” he said. “I can see right through you. You're a talkative bitch, but the world's full of them. Think you're clever. You're not. You don't know the first thing about what's coming. But me? I can see, I've got that son of mine's eyes. He's moving towards the Metacosm, and I can feel what's up ahead. Can't see it. Don't want to. But I feel it. And let me tell you, we don' t have a chance.”

“Is this some last-ditch effort to stay put?”

“No. I'll come. Just to watch the look on your face when you fail, I'll come.”

So they began to move, as soon as Tesla gave Jaffe back his medallion.

Tesla went to Grillo to coax him out of his catatonia and infuse him with a will to walk out of the underworld of death and cold.

Jaffe had Hotchkiss digging holes for him to get to an opening. Tesla worried that Jaffe didn't know how to get out, either, but she helped Hotchkiss dig and got Grillo to do the same. It was hard work. Tesla had no feeling left in her hands. But she'd bragged above ground to Hotchkiss that she was as good as any man, and she kept digging just to keep her promise. Grillo came to life and began to do the bulk of the work, fuelled by desperation. Jaffe confirmed that this was a way out and took the lead into the crack and a passageway. It was a terrifying ascent. There was only a single torch to use. Grillo and Tesla repeatedly stumbled and fell, since they were merely following a light rather than knowing the path and obstacles in the near-darkness.

At first they weren't even traveling upwards, but wandering through various passages. One passage had recently been a water course and they were up to their knees in muck. Finally they began to ascend. As the water receded below them, they noticed that the crevasse walls were moving and grinding. No one spoke. One narrow point was gained only because they were covered with mud themselves and slippery enough to wriggle through it. As they travelled higher, the grinding noises increased.

After a while, Hotchkiss felt a breeze. “Fresh air,” he said.

“Of course,” said Jaffe.

The tunnels grew thinner and were actually shaking at some points, but they were spurred on by the smell of air. There was a certain dim visibility in the area, which grew brighter and brighter as they continued. Tesla recounted again and again her five minutes of cracking the mythology of the symbol, as she climbed out of darkness and death to the surface. In climbing out, they go from the blind and immediate to the far-sighted, to remember why they live in the sun. This, Tesla thought, must be what motivates climbers and spelunkers.

Only feet away from sunlight, Jaffe stopped and let the others go past him. Tesla dropped back to talk to him. Jaffe told her that he hated the sun. He felt that the sun hated him. He told Tesla it was Fletcher who loved the sky.

“Well, maybe you should learn something from him,” she replied.

“It's too late.”

“No it isn't,. You've done some bad things in your time, but you've got a chance to make good. There's worse coming than you. Think about that.”

He didn't respond.

“Look,” she went on, “the sun doesn't care what you did. It shines on everyone, good and bad. I wish it didn't, but it does.”

He nodded. “Did I ever tell you,” he said, “...about Omaha?”

“Don't try and put it off, Jaffe. We're going up.”

“Then all your troubles will be over, won't they?” She said. “Come on.”

He stared hard at her, the gleam she'd seen in his eyes when they'd been in the cave entirely gone. Indeed there was nothing about him that signalled any supernatural capacity. He was completely unremarkable: a gray, wretched husk of a man, whom she wouldn't have given a second glance to on the street, except perhaps to wonder what trauma had brought him so low. They'd spent a lot of time, effort (and Witt's life) getting him out of the earth. He didn't look like much of a reward for that. Head bowed against the glare, he climbed on up the last few feet and into the sun. She followed, the brightness becoming dizzying, almost nauseating. She closed her eyes against it, until the sound of laughter made her open them.

It was more than relief that had Hotchkiss and Grillo chuckling to themselves. The route home had brought them out I the middle of the parking lot of the Terrace Motel.

“Welcome to Palomo Grove,” the sign read. “The prosperous Haven.”

Part VII, chapter 6

Palomo Grove was tearing itself apart with fissures and cracks appearing everywhere. They didn't tear a hole in reality like the opening at the mansion, and they didn't shake and then steady themselves like an earthquake. They grew and paused and grew some more, swallowing streets and separating neighborhoods.

Things had gotten worse since the night at the Mall, and most residents had simply sneaked away at night. A few remained, barricaded in their own houses, but no one knew who they were or how many were taking that course.

Two FBI men, along with two professors – a physicist and a geologist – had come to the mansion to analyze it. They weren't talking. The Grovers who left the area didn't talk about why they wanted to leave or where they were going either. And when the got out, the were subsequently vague about what was going on.

At the Terrace Motel, Tesla found some clothes and noticed that the hot water was still working. She showered and changed out of her filthy, muddy clothes. The clothes didn't match, but she liked looking like a hobo.

She found Grillo and Hotchkiss at the motel office, drinking coffee they brewed and eating stale doughnuts. Grillo was back to being his normal self and Hotchkiss was plotting revenge on Jaffe because of Carolyn.

After snacking, Tesla went outside to find Jaffe. She finally located him sitting on the roof, contemplating the sun. Jaffe said he missed being hot or cold or hungry. He'd like to turn the clock back to being Randolph Jaffe, working in the dead letter office in Omaha, Nebraska.

Tesla said that first they had to get back to the hole in reality and try to plug it. Even if they didn't know how to do it properly. “We hope for inspiration,” she said. She said she was slowly coming around to believing in higher forces. “The Shoal had their aspirations, why shouldn't I?”

Did they?” he said. “Were they guarding the Art because Quiddity had to be preserved? I don't think so. They were just afraid of what might break out. They were watch dogs.”

Maybe their duties elevated them.”

“Into what? Saints? Didn't do much for Kissoon, did it? All he worshiped was himself. And the Iad.”

I keep getting glimpses,” he said, “of where Tommy-Ray is.”

What's it like?”

“Darker and darker. He was moving for a long while, but now he's stopped. Maybe the tide's changed. There's something coming, I think, out of the darkness. Or maybe it is the darkness. I don't know. But it's getting closer.”

Tesla asked him to tell her if he saw anything specific. Jaffe said he didn't want to look. Tesla insisted that he try. Then Jaffe complained the Tommy-Ray had let him down over and over again.

Perfect family unit,” Tesla replied. “Father, Son and – “

Holy Ghost,” Jaffe completed.

That's right, Trinity,” Tesla said. Then she told Jaffe that Trinity was what Kissoon was so afraid of.

Jaffe doubted that Kissoon was much of a Christian. “Me neither,” Tesla replied. “Maybe he meant some other god. Or gods. Some force the Shoal could invoke. Where's the medallion?”

Jaffe had it but couldn't reach it in his pocket due to his weak hands.

Tesla reviewed the medallion but found no trios or images that matched a trinity. She mentioned Trinity to Grillo and to Hotchkiss. Grillo said he would ask his editor. Hotchkiss offered to go to the Mormon bookstore at the Mall and check for any additional meanings. Meanwhile, Jaffe was receiving an image from his son. Tommy-Ray was surfing huge waves. The monsters were coming closer, things as big as mountains.

Grillo had done an investigating report on car thieves, who taught him how to hot-wire a car. So he did so in order to get transportation to take Tesla and Jaffe to the mansion. They had to detour around crevasses to get there. As they drove on, Tesla noticed a garishly yellow Volkswagen driving in toward the Grove. That was odd. It was such a peculiar car that it reminded her of her neighborhood in West Hollywood. But she thought it must be a deserting resident coming back for more materials.

As they continued up the hill, they swerved to avoid a patrol car and continued the climb. Grillo knew the cop was going to radio ahead to further patrol cars at the mansion, but Tesla thought they would be back and away from the house itself due to danger. She was right. When they got near the mansion, there were four police cars parked down from the gate, away from the Vance mansion. Grillo rammed the barricade at speed. Wood splintered. They roared through the gate up to the Vance palace. No one was following. “Will you look at that?” he said as the vehicle approached the house.

The facade of the house resembled a cake that had been left out all night in a heavy rain, the whole thing softened and thrown out of whack. There were no straight lines in the door frames, no right angles in the windows, even those at the very top of the house. The whole house was tending toward the schism. The hole itself, at the moment, seemed to be pacified. When they stepped from the car, they felt its energies in the air. It made the hair on the back of their necks stand up straight, and their guts shudder. It was as quiet as the eye of a hurricane.

Jaffe was afraid. He didn't want to get out of the car. Tesla noticed and got out, herself, and walked down the drive way to confront the police. They saw her and ordered her to come down with her hands up. She wanted to talk to whoever was in charge. She wanted them to keep all others away. Get the hill surrounded. She left them and walked back to the mansion. Grillo was impressed. She wanted him to stay outside and watch for cops. She and a reluctant Jaffe went inside.

- - - - - - - - - -

Hotchkiss had been an avid reader in his younger days, but Carolyn's death had killed his taste for fiction. Why bother to read thrillers written by men who'd never heard gunfire? They were all lies. Not just the novels. These books, too, he thought, as he dug through the shelves in the Mormon Book Store. Volumes of stuff about revelation and God's work on earth. There were a few that listed Trinity in their index, but the reference was always in passing, and illuminated nothing. The only satisfaction he got from the search was the pleasure of throwing the place into disarray, tossing the books aside. Their pat certitudes disgusted him. If he'd had the time, he might have set a match to the lot.

He moved deeper into the shop. He saw a bright yellow Volkswagen turn into the lot. Two men stepped out. One was dressed in a dusty ragbag of ill-fitting garments and had a face ugly enough to make a mother weep. His companion was a tanned Adonis dressed in peacock casual clothes named Ron. Neither, Hotchkiss judged, knew where they were nor the danger they were in being here. They looked around at the empty lot in bewilderment. Hotchkiss went to the door. He told them to get out of the town.

Hotchkiss returned to his search as the two men got into an argument. Ron was willing to drive Raul to where Tesla was. But Raul wanted to work that out himself, now that he was in town, and leave Ron alone driving back to Los Angeles. Ron was upset because he was willing to help. Raul was insistent. Ron called him weird, a guy who came on to him and now was being cold. Raul told him to go.

Hotchkiss began ransacking the children's section of the bookstore. He wasn't finding anything on Trinity in that section.

- - - - - - - - - - -

The outside of the Vance mansion was weird, but inside it was worse.

The features of the room looked like melted wax, but there was no howling vortex. Everything was still. “We've got a chance if we move quickly,:” Tesla said.

I don't know how to seal it.”

Try. You knew how to open it.”

That was instinct.”

And what do your instincts tell you now?”

That I haven't got the power left in me,” He said. He raised his broken hands. “I ate it up and spat it out.””

It was all in your hands?”

“I think so.”

Tesla pondered this. She also thought about scrawny Kissoon and his enormous power. She thought perhaps all that power is there if summoned by the will.

So you can't do it,” she said imply.


Then maybe I can,.”

He narrowed his eyes. “I doubt that,” he said, with the faintest trace of condescension in his tone. She pretended not to have noticed.

I can try,”: she said. “The Nuncio got into me too, remember? You're not the only God in the squad.”

This remark bore the fruit it had been planted to produce.

You?” he said,. You've not a hope in hell,.” He looked down at his hands, then back up at the schism. “I'm the one who opened it. I'm the only one who ever dared do that. And I'm the only one who can seal it up again.”

He walked past her towards the schism, that same lightness in his step as she'd noticed when they were climbing out of the caves. It allowed him to negotiate the uneven floor with relative ease. It was only when he came within a yard or two of the hole that his pace slowed. Then he stopped completely.

What is it?” she said.,

Come look for yourself.”

She started across the room towards him. Not only was the visible world twisted and dragged towards the hole, the invisible world was also out of kilter. The air and minute particles of dust and dirt were hauled out of true. Space itself was knotted up. The effect got stronger the closer to the hole she went. Her bruised body was barely equal to this challenge. Step by step she achieved her goal, coming close enough to see down its throat. The sight was not easy to take. She remembered being twelve or thirteen and seeing mirrors face each other, ricocheting off each other into an incomprehensible infinity of reflections. Reality seen as a comparative science. It was a cloud that turned into rain that turned into a ball of fire. Beyond the cloud was a sea with no division between it and the sky to define it: Quiddity.

She was seized by a fierce, barely controlled desire to be there herself. How many dreamers had been here and would have preferred to die rather than go back to ordinary reality away from this achievement? Hoping, in the agonized, heroic way that her species hoped, that miracles were possible; that the epiphanies of music and love were more than self-deception, were clues to a greater condition, where hope was rewarded with keys and kisses, and doors opened to the everlasting.

Quiddity was that everlasting. It was the ether in which being had been raised, as humanity had been raised from the soup of a simpler sea. The thought of Quiddity tainted by the Iad was suddenly more distressing to her than the fact of their imminent invasion The phrase she'd first heard from Kissoon revisited her. “Quiddity must be preserved.” As Mary Muralles had said, Kissoon only told lies when he needed to. That was no small part of his genius: to hold to the truth as long as it served his purpose. And Quiddity did need to be preserved. Without dreams, life was nothing. Perhaps it would not even have come into being.

I suppose I must try,” Jaffe said and took one more step towards the maw, bringing himself within touching range of it. His hands now had a lick of power about them. It oozed from such wounded flesh. That it sensed his presence and purpose became apparent before he'd even made contact. A spasm passed out from its lips, running up through the room it had hauled into itself. The frozen distortions shuddered, softening once again.

It's wise to us,” Jaffe said.

We've still got to try” Tesla replied. The floor beneath their feet was suddenly jittery; pieces of plaster dropped from the walls and ceiling. Inside the maw the clouds of fiery rain bloomed towards the Cosm.

Jaffe laid his hands on the softening intersection, but the schism was having no truck with undoers. It threw a second spasm off, its violence sufficient to throw Jaffe back into Tesla's arms.

No good! He said. “No good.”

Worse than no good. If they'd needed evidence of the Iad's approach they had it now, as the cloud darkened, its motion unmistakable. As Jaffe had guessed, the tide had changed. The throat of the schism was not concerned with swallowing, but with vomiting up whatever was choking it. To do so, it started to open.

With that motion the beginning of the end began.

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