Bewildering Stories

Observation One
began in issue 122.

Observation One:
Singing of promises ...

by Michael E. Lloyd

Chapter 2: Transferral Sphere

Toni had been half-expecting a kiss. He had of course done nothing to encourage or discourage it ... but it had seemed inevitable.

Instead, he slowly sensed (no, he was certain) that he was in two places at once.

He was undoubtedly still in his parents’ living room, with his soothing music still playing. But Carla, so close only seconds before (or so it seemed), had disappeared.

And he was also in a quiet and gently-lit space, intimate but with no clear boundaries. It felt very natural. Or perhaps just comfortable; not threatening.

But the clock on the wall was telling him that over an hour had passed since he had walked through the door (how could that be?); and he knew that the song now playing began nearly halfway through the album  ...

He turned and said ‘I set you free’ ...

Nobody had taken Carla’s place, but there was a new voice speaking to him now. At least, his common sense and his brain both told him it was speaking — and in his mother tongue of Spanish.

But before he had digested even the first few words, he knew there were no sounds in that other space; nothing to disturb his music ...

This must feel a little strange for you, Toni.

Relax. You will enjoy what is to come. It will enrich you, as does your music.

Are you feeling comfortable?

‘Yes, I am. Thank you. But I don’t understand this other place inside my room — and the woman has gone again!’ Toni was definitely speaking aloud; he knew it ... and it did feel strange to be addressing that other space so empty of objects and sounds.

Well, Toni, your present state is a little like what you appear to call “hypnosis” — and it is also, I think, rather more than that suggests. But you need have no fear. Carla is still with you. She is also here with me. We are all together.

‘Ah!’ Toni’s smile was wide now.

Carla has chosen to work with you, Toni. She feels great affinity with you. Do you feel this too?

‘Yes, I do. Oh, yes.’

That is good. Carla is very pleased. She is smiling too.

‘You’re both very kind — and very polite. More polite than those policemen ...’

Ah, yes. That was most unfortunate.

You too are very polite. We have been learning rapidly all about you. Carla needs to understand you extremely well, you see. And since we promise to tell you much about ourselves, we know that you will not mind this. Are we right?

‘Yes. I want to get to know Carla, to share with her. But ...’

Then all is well, Toni. And I am happy to report that we have completed our learning of all there is to know of you ... indeed, of everything you know.

You have opened your soul to Carla. You can now begin to help her, and she can enrich you.

He said ‘Come unto me
I am beauty
I am the light
Come unto me ...’

‘In what ways?’

That will soon become clear.

In sharing yourself with Carla, you have quickly provided a fascinating picture for us. Because, you see, it is the only detailed insight into your world that we have at this time.

We have already seen much from a distance, and also in close-up — and we have heard much noise, but it still means little to us.

It is Carla’s task to reveal what we cannot yet observe or understand. But to do this, Toni, she needs an interpreter, and a guide, and a friend.

In short, she needs an Illuminator. This will be your role ...

Now, you are a musician. That is how Carla located you. But since you are dedicating yourself to the arts and you are still young, you may not yet be especially rich in other areas of knowledge. Do you have a good understanding of the physical sciences?

‘No ... I was never very interested in science at school. Music, and poetry, and art, and history ... oh, and beer ... they’re the things I care about.’

Yes, we know that, Toni. But I wanted you to acknowledge it to yourself. You will now be quite open to understanding what I need to tell you. Are you ready to learn?

‘Oh, yes, ... I’m sorry, what is your name?’

Ah, Toni, I have already broken with protocol. I have failed in what I believed had been so well rehearsed. As Carla too has already done. To err is clearly not just human! I apologise sincerely.

We now know the importance which names hold for you. So, perhaps you will think of me as “Quo” — I feel this may carry some meaning for you ...

The woman you know as Carla is not of your world. You have already concluded this for yourself. Carla’s world, at this time, is here with me and our other colleagues.

We are explorers, Toni; we are discovering New Worlds. We know you will understand this. We see, from knowing you, that your own country once sent men on great travels to new worlds on your Earth ...

‘You mean the voyages of Columbus?’

Just so. We come to your world as Columbus came to his new lands.

There’s never much to read between
the lines of what we need
and what we’ll take ...

‘How can you know of Columbus, if the Earth is not your world?’

Because we now know you, Toni. We knew nothing of Columbus until a few brief minutes of your time ago. But now we know everything you know of him ... and everything you know of your other great explorers. Do you understand this?

‘I don’t think so. I’m trying hard to ... and I’m not fighting you.’

We know that, Toni. You would in any case find fighting very difficult ... and fruitless. But you are already proving a great support to Carla.

‘Oh ... thank you.’ Toni was smiling again. Grinning.

And I shall try harder to help you understand.
We live beyond our means
on other people’s dreams ...

Carla is close to you still, although you cannot see her. You will see her again very soon. She has helped us to learn your knowledge and your memories. To learn your thoughts, your pleasures and your fears. So that she can later share with you, and enrich you; so that we can know your world, and enrich us all.

May I now share a little more about ourselves ...?

‘I’d like you to do that. I really should be practising at the piano right now, and I’m worried I’ll be late for my meeting with Paula ... but yes, I think I want you to ...’

... and no-one’s looking on to say
‘You’re mine’ ...
Toni, can you imagine the challenges that faced your Columbus, or any other explorer, when he approached those unknown shores? Different landscapes, different peoples, different languages, different outlooks, and great potential for hostility directed against him and his crews. Can you imagine how he felt?

‘Of course.’

And the natives: what is their reaction to the sight of these strangers? It can only be fear and an instinct for self-defence, can it not? Particularly since, merely because they have been able to travel there, the explorers will be assumed to have greater powers and more sophisticated technologies than those they are visiting ...

‘Again, I can’t argue with you. I wrote such things in my history essays at school.’

Of course you did. But how deeply did the challenges of true exploration strike you? How could Columbus, despatched by his monarchs on a mission of exploration, be sure of persuading the natives of the new world that he came only with the goal of simple discovery? How could he come to understand their languages and their ways, their knowledge and their beliefs? How could he safely chart their lands?

With so much potential fear and distrust, the slightest error of judgement could be fatal for him. Would he be well advised to simply wade ashore with a smile on his face and his hands raised in a gesture of peace? How many such approaches probably ended with an arrow in the heart ...?

‘He’d need to arrive in secret, Quo, if he possibly could. He’d want to minimise the taking of risks, and find a way of gaining trust and keeping it, and slowly establish the information he sought.’

Precisely, Toni. You are a good student of all history, not just that of music!

‘It’s simply good political theory, Quo. The persuading couldn’t be achieved with any certainty by shouting to the masses from the hilltops, or these days by using radio or television. Some sort of infiltration would be the only way; to earn the trust of individuals, and gradually build a picture ...

‘And maybe persuading shouldn’t be in the plan. Just fact-finding. That was, after all, your explorer’s objective. If discovery really was the only goal of his patrons ...’

Toni, you are proving to us that your insight is truly great.

‘But why should any individual natives choose to co-operate?’

Because they would quickly perceive that there was no threat, and that mutual understanding was a goodness in its own right. The explorer might also offer to help them in some way, because, as we have agreed, he would probably have more sophisticated tools and techniques to share with them, for their own personal benefit and for the broader good ...

‘Yes, I feel that’s how it could be  ... and I suspect that what we’re discussing is closely related to what’s happening to me right now.’

You are absolutely right.

‘Let me think about this for a moment.’

Sometimes I feel like
I haven’t learned anything ...

‘Quo, I’ve realised I have an awful lot of questions on my mind.’

I know this, Toni. And I want you to ask them all. I do not wish to simply give you lots of uninvited answers, even though I could. That would not serve our purpose well.

‘I don’t know where to begin. So much has happened in the last few hours ...’

Begin at the beginning, Toni.

‘Well ... if Carla has come here exploring with you, and has made contact with me, then she’s obviously your infiltrator. But how could she have waded ashore? How is it that she looks so perfectly human? And why Bilbao? Why me? Why has she gone away again? Where are the rest of you? And ...’

It’s a sacrificial altar
and I’m laying down my head
and I’m telling you up front
that I haven’t much to give ...
Be patient. I shall help you to understand much of this immediately. It is essential that you do understand. And Carla, as you have named her, will later tell you more ...

Carla is a member of our crew. She is a Handler, Toni ... and a Finder. Her role is indeed to infiltrate, although I can see that this word has worrying implications for you. Remember our earlier conversation, and think of Carla as the brave and honest missionary who will secretly paddle to shore, and befriend the natives, and develop the insights of the explorers.

Every body has its price
Mine is yours for free
if you’ll be in love with me ...

Our Carla plays her part in the mission from her Handler’s Studio here on our craft. She cannot physically travel to the surface of your planet and operate there. There are countless reasons for this, as I can see you appreciate.

The other Carla, the Carla you have met and embraced so happily, is ... let me try to make a label from your language heritage — I know how important labels are for you ... your Carla is a “Radimote”.

‘Quo, this is getting a little difficult again!’

It isn’t really, Toni. Just allow your wondrous mind to relax for a moment and work its magic for you ...

Proceed to chapter 3 ...

Copyright © 2003 by Michael E. Lloyd
Lyrics credits and copyrights

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