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Hebephrenica/ It's Time You Knew
by:  Ken Egbert (aka K. Griffiths), One More Haggard Drowned Man
e-mail:  plagueancient@earthlink.net
web:  http://www.warfampestdeath.net
twitter:  http://www.twitter.com/WarFamPestDeath
-After what took place today, nearly 2000 years ago, why does the human race think it's worth saving?
--Famine
April 19, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 225: No Time to Cry

“We will be the last, then," O'Carlan told her. "Simple enough. You have no life. You have almost no friends to speak of. Your telephone records show that you only speak to family members, colleagues and students. Your email accounts are all equally out of a modern version of ‘Bleak House.’ You’d be the perfect mastermind for this entire project, if our Sixth Estate chose to so name you. And do you know, I think we will. Harboring a grudge against your country for 30 years, you crossed the Atlantic and lay low until you found exactly the medium of revenge you prayed for. Rings as true as can be. Sorry, Doctor. You lose. Again. You should have given yourself to Nathan Serwenstein when he asked for your hand. Assuming he didn’t ask for something else first. This technology will protect our backer and our allies in the Free World. No one else. Should we decide that we still have allies. Remember when you used to be one? You will share your weapons research. We will get our slice of it. The ES2 will not become the first non-nuclear superpower. You will not make our stockpile obsolete.”
Leah had no idea if her thought was accurate but – almost admirably -- counterpunched with it anyway: “There’s something in The Hague called the World Court, Mr. O’Carlan. We will file injunctions galore, see if we don’t. You won’t be let in the door of CERN, and neither will anyone else who does not have clearance. We’ll tie you and the Agency and the USA up in legal knots for years.”
“A piece of paper won’t keep out the U.S. Army Rangers. Possibly we’ll send them instead.” How much longer would this man’s hand remain inside the pocket of his ‘mac’? Why could I not determine from here what was in it?
“Then you’ll deserve every bit of condemnation you and the USA receive.”
“Will the UN condemn us? We’ll evict them. We could sell the land. Will NATO condemn us? We’re three-quarters of their muscle mass. Without us, Azerbaijan could whip their bare asses. Will Russia? Their new subs don’t even stay afloat. Who else is left, Doctor? ‘The Sisters of Mercy’ didn’t need clearance. Why would we?”
“…Who, now?”
“The pregnant Muslim suicide bombers. Oh. Sorry! In-house State Department humor.”
Furiously: “Those poor women may have been the only dupes you’re going to find.”
“Oh, we’re well past considering you dupes. Iran, what’s left of Syria, and Serbia. All famous garden spots! Any idea who did it, Doctor?” Almost brightly: “Last chance.”
“Next you’ll claim that we bombed ourselves.”
“Is that an assent or a denial?”
“Denial.”
“If it’s to your advantage, why wouldn’t you do it? If it’s to my advantage, why wouldn’t I say you did it?”
“Do you know, I think I get your line of irreasoning! You may actually believe that every great discovery, every positive act of civilization, is as much a function of the human id as is any act of war. The NASA missions to Mars, the USA’s one-time support of emerging nations, UNICEF, The Jewish Guild for the Blind. Not a speck of altruism, right? Just a play for future advantage. You are as off target as you can possibly be! You are not even able to see it. I think it’s time you left, sir.” Good riposte, I nodded from far below.
But O’Carlan plowed on, heedless of Leah’s second wind: “Then we’ll move the crosshairs. In point of fact, you know, after fifty years in investigative law, I’m convinced of exactly what you’ve just said. I knew you agreed with me. You’re too intelligent not to. Every invention begins either as a blunt instrument or a blade. Clearly nothing you don’t already know, is it? Just depends on its level of refinement, Leah—“
“Doctor Bernheim.”
“No, your ‘leapfrogging’ is dead on. You are the ringmistress of the operation herself. At last I understand. Look at it from my perspective, then, Dr. Bernheim. Now that you have been found out. When the first ‘homo habilis’ used a deer femur to dig for grubs, you won’t convince me that a second necessarily had to come along and figure out that he could break the first ‘homo’’s skull with the same implement. I’m sure the first one reasoned that himself. It may have been the original purpose for his picking it off the ground! Or, should you prefer: some of us are looking at the stars, but all of us are in the gutter. Even you.” Hand still hidden, Patrick O’Carlan smiled wider still. “What other reason would anybody have to detonate a pregnant Muslim suicide bomber right outside your front door? The secret’s out, Doctor. Someone else knows what you’re doing, and they too want to stop you. Will you pay protection to us, or surrender yourselves to them? We clearly aren’t the only ones to guess it. Or are we?”
“You’ve very conveniently forgotten about the other 19 bombers and the other 19 targets.”
“All of them led to your place of business.”
“May G-d forgive me for saying this, but if seven women detonate in Paris next week, what will you conclude then?”
“My client – and we -- are looking for hegemony now. Not tomorrow, and certainly not next week.”
“I did say that I was glad to help my country, even if you refused to listen, Mr. O’Carlan. That includes giving you the facts.”
“Sadly, the facts are not the truth.”
“I am sorry,” Leah said, this time as if to a failing postdoc candidate, and not a particularly bright one, “but there is no secret. There is no weapons program. The European Superstate is not an empire. In fact, I’ve begun to think it’s something better. While I did ask you to leave a few minutes ago.”
“No, no, you just learned from the ancient Romans’ worst mistake. They called themselves an Empire! You don’t. So nobody considers you a threat. Well, almost nobody. So give Dr. Singh or Dr. Green a message for me.” Standing, he finally showed his hand. Another business card. “Tell either of them to call me. Whichever of them is actually in charge. Assuming, of course, it isn’t you or some drone in Brussels. First question of many: who is paying your mercenaries? Second: did your assistants or did they not murder the photographer across the street? And there will be days more of them, so be prepared. Your superiors or you are to call me tomorrow or Tuesday. My cellular is always on. You or they can do a deal with us, or one never knows; CERN can risk another wave of bombs! I don’t think that’s the sort of ‘accrual’ you’re interested in. Assuming the 10th Mountain Division doesn’t land in the parking lot first. While this time, there won’t be a nonexistent Hindu god to bail CERN out. As I have made clear, you or they have 48 hours from the end of this meeting.” He looked at his watch. “Starting now. And if you breathe one word of what you have been told here, I will personally see to it that you are the first white female to be extraordinarily rendered. No one deluded enough to care about you will ever see you again. Until you are, as I said before, ‘processed,’ and we drop off a box of your remains for burial. Care to try us? Please. By all means.”
With that O’Carlan turned and opened the conference room door, but instead of an empty hallway he encountered Hans once again. Past the old man, Leah could see the younger one’s very superior expression.
“Mr. O’Carlan, I am here to escort you from the building. You are no longer welcome in the Hotel des Finances, and neither is the burglar with whom you broke in.”
Robbed of his exit, O’Carlan rallied with very little hesitation. “I dispute that characterization… Hans. I came here by myself. It isn’t my fault that no one was watching the passes downstairs--”
Clearly enjoying this, Hans interrupted, “Pardon, but there have been too many coincidences this evening for the night manager’s liking, and you will not be allowed in this hotel again for any reason. We found your man unconscious in the data room. He had disconnected LAN and telephone services to both Dr. Bernheim’s and her associates’ suites. We all know what that betokens, I think. Come with me. Now.”
“Your boss reads Fleming?” the old man quipped, but Hans turned to Dr. Bernheim.
“Are you in agreement, Doctor?”
“Wholeheartedly, Hans. Get him out of my sight. Please.”
Another smile from the security man: “A votre service. Mr. O’Carlan?”
“Oh, by the way, Dr. Bernheim.”
“I said, sir, come with me. Now.”
“The Sisters of Mercy are neither female nor Muslim,” O’Carlan said, walking out.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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April 16, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 224: A Sixth Extinction

“…I am none of those things, and neither are my superiors!” Leah insisted. Once more, rather more backbone than I'd have thought.
“So more than this ‘Effect’ is being kept in a dark hothouse, then. What are your ‘assistants’ getting out of this, really, if you’re cutting off their ability to use this tech?
Who exactly paid your assistants, Doctor? Did Singh at CERN knuckle under when Drs. Bailter or Green called him on it? Or was it the other way around?”
“Again, sir, wrong! My most recent collaboration at CERN is not part of this discussion other than for me to tell you that it was the research, not I, that was important.”
"Didn't want to detract from the seriousness of the moment, did they? Preferred to leave your contribution where the old echoes of your own history might dull the sound of the brass section. Same plan this time, then."
Here it came, once more. "That was my decision. While I believe that the discovery of strings in the sub-E scope has hardly been kept under a bushel. Drs. Hawking, Green and Bailter alone have already been interviewed about it a dozen times.”
“Because you, Doctor,” O’Carlan needled, “refused every proposed interview. By everyone, including the scholarly rags. Under whose orders? What of the damage you’re doing your career?”
“My ‘career,’ as you call it, will take care of itself.”
“Then it’s time you woke up. When the setup is 100% complete, I’d think the European Superstate will put that toothy old Hindu god on their letterhead, won’t they? Will that bring you to what senses you have? Credit where it’s due! Make known to all civilization an unspeakable new threat to the current world order, and put forth the inevitable territorial demands. With you in the video showing it off, half the known world will be too busy lusting after you to fully appreciate their impending demise, and the other half will lie on their back like dogs because they have no possible response to it. Switzerland holds half the world’s money, doesn’t it? A few struck computer keys will make paupers of a third of the major powers. Is that really what your bosses think? Do you actually assume that the USA will allow the existence of another superpower?”
“I don’t know why that statue was installed there, sir.” Trying as best she could not to drown, somehow, Leah could think of nothing further to say but: “I was never interested enough to ask. And the Swiss banking system has nothing to do with this.”
“As far as you know. What will your bosses want? Any inkling? How about the immediate unconditional surrender of the German Democratic Republic? Or hasn’t Dr. Singh told you that yet, either?” Pleased with himself, O’Carlan saw fit to add, “Assuming, naturally, that the laundry list won’t come from 73 Rue Archimede in Brussels, and you're all out of the loop? Possibly all at CERN are patsies for the ES2.”
“I will repeat to you one last time that CERN is not a weapons laboratory or a dupe. We never were and we never will be. Keep asking me. Go ahead. That’s all you’ll get. Because it’s true.”
“Very dedicated. Not to what you refer to as 'your country,' but that's all right. Name, rank, serial number.” He reached for something in the left of his ‘mac,’ beneath his suit jacket, but for whatever reason did not draw it out. Dr. Bernheim did her best not to look at it. “I’ve seen actual terrorists after they were, ah, 'processed,' who weren’t as steadfast as you are now. Fine. Maybe you aren’t the fall gal. Maybe you’re just looking at the equations from the wrong side of the blackboard. No great surprise, given your publishing history.” Cutting off her next attempt to demur, the junior pensioner added, “Or are you? Given also that you have never presented any paper you’ve ever written at any conference. Who writes them and puts your name on them? Or in the case of CERN’s latest brilliant finding, who buried you? Will you answer that now?”
“No one did. I wrote everything that has my name on it.”
“No bother! Our accusations, should we need to make them, and sadly it appears we must, will be believed because you have nothing with which to oppose them.”
“We are trying to save lives.”
O'Carlan laughed outright. “Dr. Robert Oppenheimer said the same thing. Ask the 200,000 Japanese who died on August 6 and August 9, 1945 if they agree.”
“How can you claim we have nothing with which to oppose your story? Just because it takes a few minutes for the layman to ‘get it,’ the truth is irrelevant?”
O’Carlan replied, “It always is. Ten billion dollars’ outlay over the past eight years, miss, does not compute if all you can show for it is evidence that we’re all made of strings, and a coffee table book that one-fiftieth of one per cent of the world population can read. There is something else here, and you have divulged it. I predict that shortly there will be Interpol agents, and only they if you are very lucky, poring through every file folder and every hard drive in what’s left of CERN’s admin building. All we need do is make a call. If they see anything that they -- and we -- don’t approve of, your NHC can be shut down and disconnected until Interpol – and we – get answers we do approve of. The bomber in your parking lot on Saturday afternoon seems to have done us all a service.”
“Absolutely none of that is going to happen.”
“That so? Who will stop us? We’re doing the Western world’s enforcement for it here. Just as we always have done. Don’t think we won’t charge for our services, this time. In the Far Eastern War, the Imperial Japanese army, navy and air force were kicking the British Empire, China and the Soviet Union’s balls nonstop until Pearl Harbor. If Japan couldn’t stem our tide then, who will now? Your four last living members of the Knights Hospitaller, or whatever the hell they really are?”
“You confidence doesn’t explain Korea or Vietnam, Mr. O’Carlan. Interesting also that you say now the US response to Pearl Harbor was justified. That wasn’t what you implied before.”
“Cheap shot, Doctor, but it does tell me what your actual opinion is. Thank you for that. Do even you not know that the United Nations has a master list of every known military lab and weapons program by its every member nation? Would you care to guess whether CERN is on that list? That is a violation of international law, Doctor. By our lights, CERN is in breach of the UN charter. If all you get is Interpol and yes, Agency personnel as well, on your grounds within 48 hours of our discussion here, buy yourself a lottery ticket.”
“I just told you that isn’t going to happen, and it’s all I’m saying.”
“Perfectly all right, Dr. Bernheim, you aren’t a POW. Yet. If as you say, I’m wrong, no bother! We will force-fit the facts to the use we require! Familiar with the term ‘Fourth Estate’? Ring a bell at all?”
“It does, and how--?”
“What about the ‘Fifth Estate’?”
“It’s – it’s the phrase one uses to refer to investigative journalism, given how it is often a response to apparent corruption in the Fourth,” Leah rejoined. “What does--”
“Welcome to the Sixth Estate, then, miss. The official response to the Fifth. Yes, the
Fourth is corrupt. We know. The ‘powers that be’ purchased it, lock, stock and barrel. Some of those were us, once. Well, we shall be again. Thanks to all you have not done to assist. And we’ll make certain everyone thanks you for it. Unless you and your superiors at CERN become quite a bit more forthcoming than you are, just now.”
“So your Sixth Estate is the official response to those who find you out.”
“No, it’s a bit more akin to the Sixth Extinction, really,” O’Carlan shot back. “Whose voices are louder, official government sources or these sand flies who mutter their horror stories to what few know they exist or aren’t watching soccer? We’ll repurpose our information distribution methods and bury them. All of them. Just as CERN has buried you.”
“The loudest voice is the one most believed, in other words. Is that all you have? And you wonder why else my family left the US.”
“Everyone else will know why too, Dr. Bernheim, once more unless you give us what we want. You and your colleagues are surrounded, and there is no way out. You don’t even seem to know it. Have you not even paid attention to how every large multinational corporation apes us? They each have their own Sixth Estate. It’s called their P.R. Department. We have an NSA, or as we call it, No Such Agency, and every ‘multi’ possesses its own information-gathering arm. Most of them, I hear, are informally referred to as No Such Department--“
“’Intelligence-gathering arm, I think you mean—“
“Interrupt me again and I’ll ruin you.”
“I invite you to make the attempt, sir. You won’t be the first.”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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April 13, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 223: The Weapons Lab Manque

Leah didn't expect this either. “What…Where did this happen?”
“Directly across the street, Doctor, about sixteen hours ago, in broad daylight. A media journalist in a fifth-floor office was attempting to find someone in a window in an upper floor of this hotel with a high-powered camera. Not sure who, but as his identification has been as pulped as he when he was discovered, we’ll probably never know, either.”
“I did hear of this earlier today and I did see the ambulances, but I can’t imagine that they were in any way involved.”
“Why do you think that if you don’t even know their names?”
“I have found them unfailingly polite and helpful. During the bombing at CERN it was they who got me out of the building in one piece.”
“Well, why do you think they’ve assisted you? Mercenaries working for a physicist? Why not spirit healers or alchemists, Doctor? Any of those on your payroll?”
“Peter, Francis, David and William are not on CERN’s or Cambridge’s payroll.”
“Then don’t you suppose that they have some other vested interest in keeping you alive? To say nothing,” O’Carlan pressed his point, “of how exactly they get about in modern society if they have no identification?”
“As you see from what little I’ve been told, and what little I’ve felt it safe to ask, I don’t know the answer to that.”
“Including who hired them to approach your department.”
“If anyone did.”
“Let’s pass on their own boss’s identification for the moment. They give ’research assistance,’ then.”
“Yes.”
“No other sort of assistance?”
“No, sir.”
“You continue to maintain, and your superiors at CERN and in the Cambridge Department of Physics and Applied Mathematics continue to maintain, or would do if they were present, that the stake of all involved in this phenom consists largely of preventing it.”
“I may be naïve, Mr. O’Carlan—“
“One never knows…”
“Touche. While our interest in these malfunctions is entirely in preventing them. I would assume that was the reason why you’ve arrived, in fact. If you suspect that my assistants want to steal what we’ve learned of the ’effect’ for their own purpose, I can guarantee that once we’ve fixed the problem no one will have access to it.”
“So you trust them implicitly,” the old man pressed.
“Again, I’ve seen no reason not to.”
“You did say you were glad to help your country. Is that what it still is?”
“I’m sure you’ve found that I have not given up my citizenship.”
A pause, and O’Carlan replied, “Not the most direct answer I’ve received. Why did your family leave America three decades ago?”
“Do your research, sir, and I’m certain that you can find out why.”
“Do you harbor any resentments toward the USA at this time?”
“That is all water under the bridge. I said that I was glad to help and I meant it.”
“This phenom, you know – the one you’re ‘researching’,” O’Carlan parried, “evidences as much as it obscures a situation that’s far more disconcerting to my superiors, and if you do indeed wish to help your country you’ll see my point. In an overdeveloped world such as this one, serious conditions will evade detection until they choose to surface. Sad to say, those who wish to secret themselves have more hiding places than ever. A bit like a killer submarine coming up to finish off a torpedoed freighter. These days, often the ship doesn’t even know it’s been hit.”
“You’ll have to explain that…”
“Dr. Bernheim, you have very clearly described to me a fascinating military defense/offense system prototype. I don’t know why you wouldn’t think I’d recognize it. It's my agency's job. Our associates were dead on.” He smiled again, an even less reassuring sight. “As it seems were yours. Whether they chose to inform you, or not.”
This was no minor shock: “…You aren’t here to offer US assistance, then…”
“Where did you get that idea?”
“You must only have heard about a fifth of what I just told you, Mr. O’Carlan. If that. These occurrences are an unwelcome by-product of the NHC’s system refit. That is all they are.”
“Absolutely not! It’s very clear that the USA should never have cut off contributions to CERN. We would have had more notice and more control. But it doesn’t matter now.”
“Was there a choice?” Leah barely managed to not say, ‘Did you have a choice?’ Which wouldn’t have been taken well.
“No, but with the scales fallen from our eyes and a helpful backer, I think the USA can steal a march on this very intriguing platform. So tell me, Dr. Bernheim, when CERN became a weapons research laboratory?”
“We are no such thing. Where do you get this nonsense?”
Slowly: “Please don’t lie to me.” He leaned across the table; it was all Leah could do to not recoil. “Of course the NHC is not in itself a tool of war. Though nobody saw the link between Robert Goddard’s toy rockets and the Nazi German V-1 prototype either. Not a very well-known comparison, but there you go. True, the Noospheric Hypercollider can’t be dragged out of the ground and put on tank treads. Though what need?” O’Carlan pointed at Leah. “That little problem is now taken care of. Thanks to these new ‘quad magnets,’ so you call them, your delivery system is the ultimate slingshot! Makes of a David his own Goliath. Very apropos, considering. Pick up a projectile of any kind you like, adjust the NHC to bring the circle out as far or as near as required, fine-tune the position of the open slot and let gravity take its course! How culd anyone fight against that?”
“Mr. O’Carlan—“ Leah managed.
“According to the satellite radar archive you pointed out to Interpol, and already accessed and analyzed by us over the last 24 hours, the diameters of your circles have on occasion reached the Eastern seaboard. So I think you can see why we’re more than concerned. Forget the old missile range conundrum we’ve had since the Nike and the Trident programs. This is a delivery conveyance which it appears can hit any target anywhere from one location. You yourself have said that there were empty slots as well as sections of the Alps which filled the exact location of your expanding and contracting circles. Who was to have been the test target? What else besides stones were you going to throw across the known world?”
Faced with something as beyond monstrous as this - to her – to Dr. Bernheim’s credit she did not rant and repeat herself, repeat herself and rant. Classic mistake. All that does, we’ve learned the hard way, is make the uneducated – in other words, the majority of interrogators – shake their heads and mutter some simplified version of ‘Methinks she doth protest too much.’ Pushed hard enough, maybe even the accused would begin to credit it. Just now, all Leah felt safe to rejoin was to snap with some ice in her voice: “It is not 'my circle.' It is a malfunction! Nothing more. We are trying to alleviate it, not develop it. Show me one memo from anybody to anybody that backs up your assumptions.”
“How would we have got hold of any CERN interior memos?”
‘I’m sure that you have a listening post closer to here than the one on the Quai Charles de Gaulle in Lyon. I have no doubt you can find out what goes on here if you want to.”
O’Carlan answered by refusing to answer. “No, that’s why I’ve stopped in. To see if you actually will help your country, as you said you’d do.”
“I am helping my country by attempting to prevent it, it seems, from acting on yet another set of mis-assumptions.”
“Since you appear not to have heard my allusion before, do you or do you not know of the concept of hiding something in plain sight? Wait, you’re a physicist. Well, when the statue of Siva was first installed in the forecourt of CERN, I was in private practice in your old hometown. I paid it and its context very little attention. Seems I should have, given how you and/or your bosses hid the NHC’s actual purpose using that very non-subterfuge. I had State Department contacts then, too. I could have asked questions. I could have suggested that my friends in the Agency might wonder why the statue of Siva the Destroyer from Hindu mythology had been installed in your main building's parking lot. I could have been like Dr. Bailter and cribbed my greatest discovery!”
“Listen to what I am saying, Mr. O’Carlan. Dr. Bailter cribbed nothing. I’ve worked with him for almost 20 years. He based his research on a well-phrased inquiry from a novice.”
“One of your assistants. About whom you know so little that you don’t know for certain at what they’re novices.”
“It happens all the time. And I deny every one of your accusations, not because I’m hiding something, but because you are wrong.”
“Then you’re a dupe!” the old man almost cheered. “Just as in your latest paper, perhaps? Why did they do that? Why did they put you at the bottom of the author list? Did they leave you in the dark because you’re smart and very telegenic and no doubt a fitting hostess for the eventual armory show video? Did one of the gray eminences here or there want the fame for themselves, or did they comprehend that you’re such an unworldly shut-in, they’d have to lie to you in order to secure your cooperation?”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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April 10, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 222: The 'Unknown' Soldiers

Leah didn't expect O'Carlan's frankness. “Do you actually think we’ve hired them, sir? Why?”
“Mercenaries are not ‘concerned world citizens,’ Dr. Bernheim. That’s just one cavil, here.” Getting no immediate reaction from her, O’Carlan drew out two business cards matching his ID. “One of many. I mean, don’t you teach theoretical physics to graduate and postdoctoral candidates at Cambridge and occasionally drop in on CERN to continue giving names to all the subatomic animals? Where did this come from? To say nothing of them? How did they happen to know your Dr. Bailter?”
“He introduced me to David, Francis, Peter and William earlier this week. I believe that they took a community center course with him three decades ago and approached him afterward with questions regarding what has been called ‘the Bailter space’ and is now referred to as ‘the Landscape.’ To a large extent their questions were Dr. Bailter’s inspiration.” Leah pulled her own wallet from the pocket of her slacks. “He introduced us. While I come to Geneva one week a month to do my subparticle research with CERN’s sub-E scope assembly.”
“Those questions that they had for Dr. Bailter would seem to have all but made his name.” O’Carlan placed his cards on the table. “One for you, one for your 'friends.'” He waited to see if she’d repudiate the word. “Very convenient.”
“I’ll give it to them.” Leah produced her CERN business card and placed it before him, putting her wallet back. “Why didn’t you knock on their door?”
“We prefer to deal with known quantities. If I disturbed them, especially at this hour, I wouldn’t be certain what sort of reaction to expect.”
“Do you want me to have them contact you?”
“If they’re willing.”
The doctor thought she knew the reply but asked anyway: “Now, I’m known by whom or what, exactly?”
“Your published papers, of course. The most recent, especially.”
“Thanks, but it isn't what I asked. While I had about a dozen collaborators.”
O’Carlan indicated the laptop. “How far back did you go to check and see when these ‘manifestations’ began?”
Leah had indeed heard the word ‘friends’ and decided to let it pass. Among other things. “In the early autumn, after the NHC had had an equipment refit. But why name them ‘manifestations’? Herr Zwinnde of Interpol called it all something else when I explained my research to him.”
“Have you seen his report?”
“He took my e-mail address and said he’d send it on when it was ready. Redacted, I’m sure. We were interviewed by him and his team only a day and a half ago, Mr. O’Carlan. Now that I consider it may not even have been written yet.”
“’Interviewed.’ Interesting word for it.”
“Wait, if it hasn’t been written, then how did—“
“One topic at a time, please, Doctor!” O’Carlan’s smile widened a tick or two. “You were questioned by Zwinnde and company for over three hours. As were your assistants. Researchers. Friends. Whatever.”
Dr. Bernheim kept her visible self as constant as possible in response, pointing out, “The Inspector wasn’t happy that Peter, David, William and Francis had no ID on them.”
“Let’s refer to that momentarily. Their last names?”
“Are you ‘questioning’ me now?”
“That will depend on you…”
“Given their profession, it seems and it seemed appropriate not to ask. Since I don’t have a copy of the Interpol report yet, Mr. O’Carlan, how did you learn about this?”
His cellular rang; ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee,’ of all things. Leah tried her best not to grimace; O’Carlan drew it out, looked at it over the tops of his glasses and pressed three buttons. “Pardon me.” He returned it to his inside left pocket. “At the risk of giving away confidences, Interpol’s head office in Lyon is hard by our local consulate, a few doors down on the Quai Charles de Gaulle.” His cellular stopped sounding.
“Consulate and listening post?”
“You’ve had that experience.”
“You did say that I’m a known quantity, and you carefully didn't say by whom or how. What interests you more, Mr. O’Carlan? My associates or my research? If not both. It’s getting on in the day.”
“May I ask you to join me for a drink in the bar downstairs?”
“Thanks but no thanks. I was up much too early, so now’s much too late. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be brusque. If we could narrow down the scope of…”
“Fine. The phenom itself is the main draw. The ‘manifestations.’ I do wonder that no one else noticed it before your ‘associates’ did. Or did they name-check someone else who told them of it?”
“Oh, it was noticed by others!” Leah recalled her pique of several days before but left it out. “It just ended up in all the wrong sections of all the wrong news sites and print. First, the majority of related spots in these circles are blank air, true, but if any of the ‘standing stones’ which have been observed in them had struck an airplane or a building and G-d forbid, someone had been killed, you would have seen it all covered far differently. No, the news about them was treated like something resembling… oh, St. Augustine’s face appearing on a bagel. Nobody has any idea how lucky we’ve all been.”
“’Standing stones,’” the old man chuckled. “Are you a practicing Druid?”
“I really don’t think that’s funny, Mr. O’Carlan,” Leah admonished him. “I’m a practicing conservative Jew. My father is German and he married an Irish Catholic.”
“Shades of ‘Carnovsky.’”
“What was that?”
“I apologize. Nathan Zuckerman. American author, before your time. You can keep your friends’ identities to yourself for now. Since you don’t appear to care what they are. We’ll have to hear more on the subject, but as it may be past your usual…” He indicated the screen. “It would be helpful if you gave me the ’25 words or less’ about why these stones and spaces appear? Pretend I didn’t hear the raw transcript of the, ah, ‘interview.’”
Editing herself rather brutally, Dr. Bernheim concentrated upon the refitting of the NHC, the new quad magnets’ correspondence in ‘the ring’ to the stones and the slots which appeared at certain times of the day, and – given O’Carlan’s seeming ignorance – mentioned how the NHC could accelerate particles to meters per second short of the speed of light. Et cetera. Clever woman, she left the other universe out of it. Somehow. Once Leah’s explanation was as complete as she chose to make it, the old man nodded as if he’d heard something this time that was not in the raw tape of our Interpol interrogation. Leah finished with “Can you think of anything else you need to know, sir?”
“Is it at all possible that your ‘friends’ beat the photographer to death?”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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April 7, 2014

The Human Game, pt. 221: Opening Gambits

Downstairs, Dr. Bernheim took charge rather admirably at first. I had reminded her that the Embassy/ Agency flack was at every disadvantage except via her perception; therefore not to perceive him as such was to render him what he might well be: a bitter old man with middling security clearance and little else. Call that an uneducated guess on my part. Open laptop and cords in hand, Leah stepped out of the stairway, turned on her microphone program and greeted the two men at the door of Conference Suite 6.
“Thank you for waiting, Hans. Mr. O’Carlan. Hans, if I could I’ve changed my mind. Can we have Conference Room 7 instead?”
“Certainly, Doctor.” With another distasteful half-look at the old man, the younger one turned down the hall. “This way, please.”
“Better exposure?” asked O’Carlan, a bit taken aback; she now stood a quarter inch taller than he. Leah decided not to answer; to her satisfaction, she saw he noted how she’d put on heels for the meeting.
Once seated, our protectee – ‘let’s not dwell’ – dismissed Hans with a ‘thanks very much’ and began plugging in her laptop.
“I’m here in regard to some research you’ve recently begun. Very good of you to see me on absolutely no notice,” began O’Carlan, but Leah chose to face away from him just then, accessing the suite’s services. To her satisfaction the ‘LAN LOST’ notice went out and a tiny symbol at bottom right went green from red.
“Glad to help my country,” Leah answered with the slightest possible sarcasm – admirable also. “What project is this?”
“The one you and an Inspector Zwinnde of Interpol discussed, yesterday early afternoon. After the bombing.”
“Of course,” she said. “Exactly what do you need to know?”
This piqued O’Carlan’s curiosity. “There’ll be no sop to CERN secrecy regulations here, then.”
Leah signed onto the network. “We are actually going to want help on this one, sir. It’s very non-exclusive on its face. If you’d like to see the research, I can access it here. My network’s dead upstairs, for whatever reason…”
The older man removed his sunglasses, put them away and drew on a similar set of spectacles. “Good thought, Dr. Bernheim, but I don’t believe there’s a need.”
Leah clicked onto her e-mail program, hit SEND and watched the comparatively huge message for her CERN and Cambridge superiors, ‘attachments’ and all, sail away in its several directions. “Really,” she said to him. Being able to see his eyes didn’t reassure, though having dispatched the e-mail directly in front of him helped.
“…We’re both in the profession of accrual, ” he began. O’Carlan hadn’t removed his ‘mac,’ but the room was a bit chilly. Among other reasons, doubtless. “True enough. Differing focuses, however. Your weather satellite plots are good for a laugh but they’re not what brings me. These ‘circles,’ of a sort, however… very interesting.”
Leah punched up the ES2 array anyhow and turned the laptop screen so that O’Carlan could half-see it. “I assume you’ve been sent whatever file Interpol opened on ‘the phenomenon.’ If that’s closer.”
“It is. Did you discover it?”
“So you and I don’t have to go over anything we told them.”
“No. Did you?”
“I only researched it. Peter, William, David and Francis brought it to my department’s attention. At Cambridge. They’re my assistants on this,” she added.
“Whom for whatever reason we can find no lingering trace of, anywhere. What was their sphere of experience, regarding this?”
“They had noticed it first and came to Cambridge to meet with Dr. Bailter earlier in the week. They’re right downstairs.”
“Physically we know their location. Well and good,” admitted the older man.
“There is nothing else corresponding to them, however, in any file base that I’ve accessed. Anywhere. That is definitely one of my concerns. Are they American nationals?”
“They are not.”
“Why were they interested in these ‘circles of stones and gaps’ that you spoke of to Herr Zwinnde?”
“They kept encountering them, Mr. O’Carlan, and as they happened to know my assistant department head, Dr. Bailter, they informed him about it.” Wisely, again, Leah heeded my counsel regarding what to and not to say about us.
“In their natural course of activity? Whatever that may be?”
“I was asked by my assistant head to not ask them too many personal questions.”
“What is their profession?”
“They refer to themselves as ‘soldiers of fortune.’”
A very ugly smirk. “So you can pay them enough to kill for you but not enough for them to die for you.”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.

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"A good writer is an expert on nothing but himself. And on that subject, if he is wise, he holds his tongue." --John le Carre

Exactly how interesting can the author be, anyway, when nobody has any idea where their creativity comes from or how the mechanics of inspiration works? Maybe it's something we all have access to. Maybe it's a sluice that empties into your head when you're facing in a particular direction and thinking a particular series of things. Then again, maybe not.
However benevolent inspiration really is, to say nothing of what it is, I suspect that any good fictional character is a lot more interesting than the person who dreams it up. So mine speak for me here.


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