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MYRRH: First in the Ceremonies of the Horsemen
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Hebephrenica/ It's Time You Knew
by:  Ken Egbert (aka K. Griffiths), One More Haggard Drowned Man
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October 1, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 352: In the Safe House

“We remember what they say about the waiting.”
By some alchemy, Sir Hal had assigned Philip and Leila to a Five residence in South Lambeth, not so far from her flat. She thought on when Dr. Bernheim would arrive there. Of course, very late the following afternoon, early evening. Possibly she could call her that morning and wish her a happy Thanksgiving. If. No, she’d thought all this through already. Sitting at dinner with her partner for the ‘op,’ alone in the house except for the matron Mrs. Cedar – no doubt another alias, just as Philip Sturdivant most probably was not actually Philip Sturdivant – Leila of course attempted to make conversation back at them.
“Already impossible. Mrs. Cedar, why don’t you bring your dinner in here?”
“Not exactly the done thing, dear” – Leila had the feeling she called everyone ‘dear’, with the possible exception of Sir Hal – “but if you’d prefer…”
“I certainly have no objection,” Philip asserted.
The older woman made for the kitchen door again. “Doesn’t matter, overall.”
She indicated a closet on the far side of the room. Where the recording equipment was. Leila gestured, knowing that Six’ safe houses were set up much the same, and no doubt a crew of Sir Harvin’s lads would have been in her flat much of the day, fitting it similarly.
Answering Philip, Leila agreed, tired from the day’s inactivity. “I wish they had exercise equipment here.”
“There are always calisthenics.”
“I do them to relax, how about you?”
“Works most of the time. You may be about to ask why I was kicked out of the office.”
Leila recalled the fork on her plate and the salad next to it, most of it as usual untouched. “I didn’t want to pry…” .
“Sir Harvin and ADG Quecture want you back unscathed. Hal has been attempting to re-establish a reasonably collegial relationship with them and he wants it continued.”
“Nice to know, Philip, but why you?”
“I’m all that was left.” He grinned. “No, they were out of female personnel so…”
“Then not even Five’s ADG knows?”
Philip drank more of his green tea. “Sir Wadsworth does not. Hal has sworn even the entirety of the Joint Committee to complete secrecy, I hear. If any of them leak, he’ll be able to figure out who it was, and he will react.”
Leila felt to jape, “So he runs the country.”
Her partner made a slight face, but added, “For the next three days or so, all but. May the voters never learn…”
“When the first detonation sounds, it’ll be all up anyhow.”
Philip, assenting, sopped up his olive oil with a last piece of whole wheat bread. “You don’t miss Research. I can tell.”
“I don’t. I’m perfectly happy to go back there and stay, but I wanted to make myself as useful as possible for what little time I will be.”
“Assuming,” Philip said, “you mean until your cover is demonstrably torn off.”
“Definitely. Not to belabor,” Leila agreed, “but I just barely escaped detection that second time I went to Prague…”
“Sure that Weston would have me know…?”
“It was the first time we learned who might be chairing this entire matter.”
“Oh, that’s within play.”
“It’s odd. I think of my apartment—my flat –“
“Try not to sound too much like us.”
“Part of my charm?”
Philip put down his empty cup. “Your favored status, if you have it, and don’t take this wrongly, may derive very slightly from everybody who’s not met you immediately assuming you’re Agency. Even Hal wondered.”
“Before I pull the warrant card out.”
“Well, cards.”
“So, shouldn’t learn too many Britshisms.”
“I am in no position, but you may be exactly where you want to be as far as command of the language.”
“Good! Can’t keep four-fifths of it in my head anyway…” She took up another forkful, and when done: “Pardon. I was thinking of my apartment a minute ago as if I didn’t live in it any longer.”
“Happens. Mum visited mine the other day and demanded to know where the picture of her and Dad was, that she’d given me. I removed it from a drawer and she said, ‘Now I know who lives here.’ Everything I really own is in a safe deposit box.”
“Same here. No wonder-- Wait.” Leila called, “Mrs. Cedar?”
“Oh, heavens,” they heard from behind the closed door. “Completely slipped my mind.” In she bustled with her own tea, and a pot. “Philip’s favorite.”
“Never forgets,” he agreed.
“It’s very good, thanks.” Leila held her cup out, the housekeeper refilled. While Mrs. Cedar sat, Leila went on, “One ‘Britishism’ I did wonder about…”
Her partner took a draught. “By all means.”
“I was near one of the football stadiums – soccer, I mean – and there was a group of young men in scarves, all the same color—“
Mrs. Cedar clucked.
“They pointed at me and shouted in perfect unison, “OGS WOUT! OGS WOUT!”
Philip sighed. “Means what you think it does. They get creative because of the rather draconian British hate crime laws. Some bobby overhears the more direct alternative to that, they definitey miss the next five home matches at best.”
With some humor: “So no football for me.”
“If you went with a large group, mostly male and white… but no. What’s odd, actually,” after another sip of his tea, I’ve been to no small number of Arsenal’s, ah, ‘games,’ and I often hear the crowd break into a near-perfect Broadway show tune or some such. One time they mimicked the infamous bit from Carl Orff’s Carmina.”
“Directly after the team took the lead?”
“Well guessed.”
“Takes all kinds, Leila, unfortunately,” admitted Mrs. Cedar. “Philip, would you say the helicopters are the most risky thing…”
“Oh, it’s brilliant. We’ve no clue where the fake abayas will first show. Only way to access any part of London with the minimum of fuss is to station Westland Lynx AH15s on every tenth roof that will hold one.”
“Royal Marines, at that…” Leila said.
Philip tried not to laugh. “I hear they think it’s an exercise.”
“Very smart. They all get to go home at night. Or next week. Or however long.”
“Another corollary of ‘ignorance is bliss.’”
“Wait until they find out.”
“They’ll be furious.”
“Not to interrupt, mine charges,” noted Mrs. Cedar, “but we’re five minutes away.” Each agent drew up and opened a small package, checked the battery light, and fitted in the earpiece.
“Don’t tell me how ludicrous I look,” Philip all but asked.
“Then you’ll do the same for me.”
“I am going to do half the work here. You aren’t just watching my back.”
“Never thought otherwise, Leila. Just don’t…”
“Hand myself over to them unless I absolutely have to?”
“…Yes. If you could.”
“I had to do this the way I did it.”
“Oh, no. Hal is grateful. We were short a team.”
“Are you sure of that?”
“Two minutes,” put in Mrs. Cedar, viewing a far too precise-looking watch for someone of her appearance. Both agents removed the folded paper within the plastic wrapping.
“All of us get the treatment you received this morning, at least once.”
“I’m not surprised. So that’s why he agreed to everything.”
“Partially. Though with Sir Hal, it’s always ‘partially. Ah, yes. Edith’s gallows humor,” observed her partner, holding up his note. A Russian word, a dog’s name. ‘Dezik.’ One of the many who had ridden a capsule, some in low and others in high orbit, decades upon decades before. This one never made it back from its second flight. Leila showed hers. Another dog’s name. ‘Tsygyan.’ One who had. Not that either knew this then.
“Beats my last op ID.”
“Babylonian deity?” asked Philip.
“Greek goddess. Very embarrassing. For me, anyway.”
“One minute,” Mrs. Cedar announced, sotto voce.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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September 26, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 351: Thirds of a Collision

In the dark above us the two armies approached, one stream and another from opposite directions. Brilliant colors ensued, unsurprisingly like those which had consumed us over the last few days. Why did they only occupy the tinier realms here in ‘Verse II-- but I was not ready for the bass chord, nearly too deep to hear when the strike occurred and the entire room vibrated with it. It was not the ‘sound’ or ‘impression’ I had noted when first arriving, but I had a feeling I knew why not.
-Damned incredible… --F.
-Isn’ it? –W.
-… -D.
-Dr. Schneider, do kindly give that to us in real time. –P.
“Gladly,” he called, seeming quite pleased with himself.

I don’t know how the next forty-five seconds did not nearly kill me. There it was in the not quite soundless roar of the detonation. Something beyond hearing, while yet I knew it as if it were my very own breath. When I was ‘faux human’ enough to breathe, at any rate. It was the very thing. It was a voice, and it was not. It demanded my attention, and did not care if I gave it. A tiny component of same had risen from the television in our room Monday night. In Dr. Bernheim’s prints on her office wall I noted a visual component but had not understood. A creation ago I sat in a dead ‘horn antenna’ on a hill in the eastern USA and, after in my madness I had at last been able to kick it into life, I had heard a shadow’s shadow of what I heard now.
-Please… run it again… --P.
My brothers studied me with concern, but did not disagree.
“Glad that you’re interested, here goes…”
…Again, it was, while this time my brothers saw and heard it too. A diadem crowning my every face. An element within and without elements. It encompassed me and stole within as if I were a host organism. I died and lived both, and neither. And it was gone.
“If you like, we’ll go on to another experiment with different parameters,” Dr. Schneider suggested, but I made it known I would have thirds of this one. Not as stunned as I at first, my brothers agreed, and fell beneath a similar spell, if you like. It was a companion within the band upon which I transmit. It was that of which I was composed and that which I compose. It was, it was, it was. It is. It is to be.
[-…now ‘f only we knew what it was. –W.]
Or is. Or was to be. They had cautioned me a long whie ago. A farm in Iowa where we used to work, under some circumstance. Our employer had mentioned someone; I had asked after she left us for the night, and my brothers told me never to do so again. It would have to be different now. Now they appeared to see. Best not to say anything yet.
“Hey, fellows?” A concerned Dr. Schneider stood before us. “Everything all right?”
Weakly, David forced himself.
-Yeah, Doc/ we’re okay/ kind of flattened, though/ just beyond belief/ the resolution/ the sound quality/ I didn’t even hear any hiss –D.
“Not from these speakers,” he agreed. “I didn’t ask if any of you were epileptic, by the way. How badly did I just mess you up?”
-It’s all right, Doctor/ none of us are epileptic/ just totaled, that’s all/ never expected anything like that/ –D.
“The Hayden at the Museum of Natural History in New York would kill to get this rig,” he admitted. “Costs too much, unfortunately. So what else would you like to see? No other collisions?”
-Oh, no thank you, sir. That was something else. –P.
We began to sit up, get ourselves together.
-The sub-E microscope would be fun. –F.
“Oh, that’s about 40% of what you saw outside the theater. Come on, I’ll power this monster down and we’ll go have a look.” He began to make his way down the aisle to the CPU, or whatever it was called.
-Maybe you’d better turn the sound down. On the sub-E. –F..
“Can do that. Anybody want some water, or--?”
-We’ll be fine, Doc. Right with ya. –W.
There would have to be some serious discussions, once we left here.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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September 22, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 350: The Chamber Erupts

My brothers and Dr. Schneider had walked forward a few steps, but I remained half-frozen at the elevator door. A man excused himself in Italian, managed to get himself and an armful of files past me. Yes, it was here. Meters and meters below ground, the immense chamber gave freely of the tonic component in the overarching hum that I’d heard whenever I was anywhere near here. David turned, noting that I was not walking beside him. What gave it off? That vast flat astrolabe for giants, the banks and banks of ‘servers’ to our left, the ALICE frame miles of dirt beyond us, the immense tube shunting off in both directions, the impossibly high ceiling, the magnet array that whirred on each hand… the elevator door shut behind me and I began to understand.
-Bro’? –D.
“First time you see it,” Dr. Schneider offered, looking back, “can completely blow your mind.”
-Yeah, take a good look at him. –F.
The treasure chambers we had known and smashed, the seraglios, the caverns of thieves and the castle keeps we had encountered and burned across all of the last Creation… none matched this. While whatever ‘it’ was, that component of sound that was not entirely sound, it was almost here. Though if it were, and the Collider was not in use…? But Dr. Schneider was well into his explanation of the the seven main experiments on site (that number again!) including a particle beam aimed through the Earth at a similarly underground collector in Italy, the basic layout of the facility; all the while I strained to witness that which remained about us but which could not possibly do so. Or could it?
“Peter? Anything you want to ask?” the engineer prompted me.
-Yeah, come on, make the Doc’s day, Petey. Ask one a’ yer crazy questions. He wantsa be famous like Dr. Bailter, this time. –W.
“I can do without that kind of ‘famous’! Poor guy, running on fumes all these years after his greatest idea got flattened by the string and the ‘M’ theorists,” our guide observed.
-I don’t know, Doctor/ he may have one more trick up his sleeve –D.
“I will say this, he exhibits a great attitude. Didn’t keep pounding away at the same route of inquiry as Einstein did. Still interested in everything, very careful, very sharp mind. He drops in here now and again. And he got Dr. Bernheim her fellowship so we owe him for that as well. Problem is, most physicists do their best work in their 40s. But I won’t count him out.”
-He would thank you/ Petey, if you please, the Doctor hasn’t all day/ --D.
-I’ll try to come up with something. –P.
The rest of the tour went without incident, and at last we we entered the research theater. A cantilevered planetarium-type projector stood in the midst of a great number of circled seats, and the globe-like walls sported arrays of lenses and beam generators as well “What we’ve done here, you understand,” Dr. Schneider continued, “is we’ve mimicked the interior of the collision chambers. Depending on which of the various experiments we need to review, we can reconfigure these lenses according to the experiment’s features, the collision chamber’s geometery, and what or how we need to see.”
-Kind of like the hologram Dr. Susskind says we live in. –F.
“And that doesn’t bother you,” the engineer asked.
-Doesn’t change my day-to-day existence, no, so... –F.
“I think it does me. I think.”
-I dunno. Does knowin’ that ya drive through a Higgs field every day bother ya? Or there’s a universe aound here that ya never saw evidence of before yesterday? –W.
“If the Higgs field wasn’t there I’d never get to work. The other ‘Verse? Still trying to take all that in. But yes, there are parallels to this and the hologram. We just need a light source, here.” Dr. Schneider went down into the well of the amphitheater—
/-Old habits die hard, don’t they –D./
[-Stop repeating yourself! –F.]
Pardon me, ‘theater’… but our host arrived at the base of the multiprojector machine and ‘booted up,’ I believe the phrase is. “Sit anywhere you like and look straight into the air,” he instructed us. Entering the correct commands took a few minutes.
[-So what caught your eye, or ear? –F.]
(-… -P.)
[-Back there at the elevator. –F.]
/-He heard something again/? –D./
[-Like in the TV static? Right? –F.]
(-…I think I did just that. It may be something I’ve heard, I couldn’t tell you for how long. It was as if I forgot where I was. –P.)
{-We can start worryin’ now. –W.}
I pointed to my head.
We heard the PA system flip on. “Another 45 seconds,” offered Dr. Schneider from well below us.
(-No. It’s not in here. It’s coming from somewhere else. And yes, David, the TV static reminds me of what I semi-heard, when the elevator door opened. When we first escorted Azrael to the place near the airport. –P.)
“Lights going down…” he warned. “We have sound too, naturally. This is a standard collision, I won’t bore you with the details, but according to Dr. Bernheim it’s the one which first brought forth what we’re calling the ‘phenom’ on September 12 of this year. The collider beam speed had just exceeded 93% of ‘c.’ You will now experience what occurred in the chamber,” he concluded, “while the first appearance of the ‘stone circle’ was noticed by the ES2’s ‘sat net.’ Without, of course, dying immediately of radiation poisoning. We’ll start with one five-hundredth real time.”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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May 10, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 349: Towards the Wordless Chamber

On our return to CERN, no rhyme intended again, we put our mounts in our room, checked in with Dr. Bernheim; the best she could give us just then was a distracted smile and a reminder about our tour, so we went in search for her colleague. An inquiry at the partially repaired front desk made his arrival possible within a few minutes, and in a runabout he squired us off to the Collider proper.
“Looking better,” Dr. Schneider informed us. “Not so foggy.”
-Glad to be out of that, yes. –P.
“I haven’t been asked to skip any subjects when I talk to you so if I go over any red lines, you’ll tell me.”
-We will. ‘Preciate yer time, Doc. –W.
I wondered that he did not see all our eyes on him, awaiting a clue. Of any kind. Did he ever dream of my brother’s knife at his windpipe, a creation ago? At all?
“Leah-- Dr. Bernheim says you get the VIP tour, you get the VIP tour. My phone hasn’t stopped ringing since I was co-credited with the ‘strings’ discovery, so I’m more than happy.” He was of good size, not terribly assuming, well-groomed and well-exercised. His baby fat from the last creation had long since burned away. Our small vehicle approached the main entrance to the Collider lab. “We’ll be heading for the ATLAS entry since it’s closest.”
-Don’t tell. Nobody believes you didn’t make the discovery yourself. –F.
“They consider it standard ‘humble scientist’ behavior. Well, in my case, humble engineer.” He attempted the appropriate voice. “‘Oh, it was a team effort all along.’ Which is not untrue. I did design and help build the sub-electron frame. Did not expect this to occur, though. Overall it’s been fun. Being misquoted is not, but that’s another story.” Stopping at a crossroads, he looked at us. “The Brooklyn Eagle ran an article, I even heard from my folks. Also, I have told everybody who’s called for a comment or an interview that your friend did most of the work. I’d better underline that.” He turned back to his driving.
-Yet Dr. Bernheim seems to have received no calls at all, herself. –P.
“Oh, she’s had them. She just doesn’t answer them.” We arrived at the interior gate and he parked. “I will say this, her spreading the credit was a stroke of complete genius because there was some recent talk that our funding from the ES2 would be cut next year.”
We began to climb down from the runabout.
-Less chance of that now? –F.
“We’re getting an increase. Dr. Bernheim is a senior visiting research fellow, you see. She’s not an employee here.” The engineer led the way towards the main entry. “By heavily crediting us, the Superstate would look like idiots if they scaled back. She may have saved a lot of our jobs. If I could ask, where do you know her from?”
-My brothers Frank and Petey, here/ saw her give a recital when she was 13, and another when she was 14/ something like that/ -- D.
“Were you in your line of work then?”
-We can tell you that much/ –D.
“I’m not prying.” At the front desk Dr. S exhibited his badge and took four passes for us. Unlike Dr. Bernheim, it seemed that we towered over him. This had nothing to do with his height; among us, she simply appeared to have more presence than he. I wondered how that worked.
-‘Course not. –W.
“So you’d met her before. Ah, Peter. Francis.” We moved towards the elevator. In most places the work day had begun the wind-down, but not here. He pressed the ‘down’ button, put his hands back in his pockets. Each of us managed to pin on our visitor badges, again after a few tries.
-A completely different person, then. –F.
“Time was Dr. Bernheim didn’t talk much to anyone. The bosses, yes, but the rest of us less often. Always acted as if she were on her way somewhere else, even if she was sitting in her office. Not unpleasant, just very distracted. You seem to have cheered her up, though. Brought us all on board, though why wouldn’t we; she organized everything from below the ground up, she talked to us nonstop through the experiment we conducted with you, helped run the show and even pitched in with packing up when we were done. She actually called Dr. Singh by his first name yesterday, I hear.”
The elevator arrived, and I began to hear it. In the shaft, a sound that was not a sound, yet it registered. Some hint, some first scattering impression.
-Hm. –P.
-What? –W.
I shook my head. We entered the elevator, I listened closely. Was this the tonic dominant of what I thought I’d heard when we first approached here with the angel…
“At this point we often get comments that there’s a hum in the air of a sort that no one has ever heard before.” The doors whisked shut and we descended. “From visitors. I no longer even register it. Maybe the first five minutes after I show up in the morning. Just now the NHC is in ‘idle’ mode because what you and Dr. Bernheim and Dr. Bailter at Cambridge discovered has caused the delay of some experiments.”
-Perhaps you’d better put us/ at the end of that list… --D.
“Credit where credit’s due. I don’t have clearance to fire anything up but if you’re at all intrigued I could set up some footage of previous collisions as seen by the sub-E frame in the theater after I show you this part of the facility.”
-Yes. I’d be interested in that. –P.
William eyed me oddly here, and asked…
-So tell us about some a’ what’s going on here, Doc. –W.
“First and foremost is the collision experiments. We’ve already isolated the Higgs particle some years ago so we’ve moved on to others. I’ll assume you’ve already heard the basics from Dr. Bernheim and Dr. Bailter. Stop me if you haven’t. Two proton streams approaching ‘c’ collide in the chamber and the detonation causes an amount of subatomic particles and energy to fly free. We view the collisions through the sub-E and measure what comes out, how and when. Thanks to the very sensitive equipment we have, Dr. Bernheim comes across some new wrinkle of some kind about half of every time she looks.”
William chuckled.
-Yeah, we heard about ‘the great bestiary’; our horses were kinda insulted ‘cause they weren’t in it. –W.
The elevator toned, the main sanctuary opened to us, and whatever it was all but engulfed me.
“You have very serious four-footed friends, there,” admitted Dr. S. “Where I used to live, Brooklyn and then Tokyo, even around here, I never saw anything like them. They have more macho about them than Clydesdales. But yeah, I’m sorry, they just don’t qualify. Too many particles. Apologize to them for me.”

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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April 18, 2015

The Human Game, pt. 348: Two Vignettes

“What do you mean we can’t access their frames?” demanded ‘Silas.’ “Oh, bugger.” He looked at his mobile and shook it. “Not you. Of course they know what’s afoot, even if they don’t. We won’t mistake our correspondents here.”
Again Silas plugged in his charger. “You told me that we had the best. Do you want a black mark or not with your client? Crack it. All three of them. Now.” He rang off, cursing while he viewed his mobile.
“I need a loo.”
“So do I, for all that. Bugger again.” He punched Tyrell in the side of the head once more. Tyrell did not react any longer. A bruise would show any time now. Small, compact, not what one would expect to be a bully of any sort, ‘Silas’ flipped on the Land Rover engine. It caught, and attained life. “Good. Battery’s not drained yet. Take your rig and come with me.” He shut off the car again.
“I’m to wear this into a pub, or --?”
“No, fool. We’ll find a lunch counter.” ‘Silas’ opened his door.

In Sir Hal’s office, Edith returned to her desk. Her superior called, ‘Our feed to NOS on line?’
After a view of her right-hand screen: “It is. The detection patterns are entered, and accepted.”
“Five and thirty-five.”
“I have the Greenwich cesium clock up, Sir Hal.”
“As do I,” the head of Five answered, well on the way to the afternoon’s other concerns. While time remained.

Copyright 2010 by K. Griffiths. All rights reserved.
This is an excerpt from a work of fiction. Any similarities between this narrative and actual events or between these characters and any persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

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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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