In Manny’s lab curious cables from the roof two stories overhead trail into mysterious machinery, and a Tesla coil cries and hums menacing with energy. The phone company must have some serious dough to throw for a place like this, up in London’s prime skyline real estate.
“So glad you could make it,” said Manny, looking up from seven or eight computer readouts. “I was sure you’d come. Let me show you all the good stuff.”
I looked at the rows of printed matter along the walls. Surprisingly more of the books seemed to be ancient history than science.
“I see you’re admiring my library. It’s where I get all my best ideas. In a very real sense, when we invent something we’re re-discovering concepts and things that may have existed in the distant past. ”
“What do you mean?” I asked. “You’re not saying that mobile phones and cybernetics existed in the past?”
He smiled. “Not exactly. But… you’re familiar with Hindu cosmology? They have something similar to our concept of parallel universes proposed by Mr Hawking.”
“Hawking? I’ve heard of him.”
“Just imagine it: when Jesus was up on trial he looked through all our possible futures (being the son of God he was omniscient, after all), and saw that the one with the best possible outcome, where people were nicest to each other, was the one where he had to get nailed up on a cross.”
I said “Ah, something tells me you’re working on more than just phones here, aren’t you, Manny?”
(The) Door |
Cooling ducts round the outside of the room hummed, copper coiled around a metal frame coughed in electrical discharge and spat into electrical life, blue white vortex glowed swirling in the centre like a miniature universe.
“What is it?” I asked. “It’s beautiful.”
“I think,” said Manny Lepidoptera, after a moment, “it’s supposed to be some sort of gateway.”
“A gateway?” I said, incredulous. “You mean you actually built some sort of… matter transporter?”
“That’s right,” he said. “But I didn’t design it. I got that from certain vedic texts I pulled up in the British Museum. I believe whoever transcribed the plans must have been in contact with beings from beyond our star system.”
“But that’s insane,” I said. And then: “You’ve tested it? Where does it go?”
Manny looked downcast. “I don’t know. Possibly it needs calibrating. But I think it’s part of a two way system. Whoever sent the plans has never seen fit to turn their end on. yet.”
Manny said that he’d been told where to find the plans in a dream. He’d been a child prodigy, a student with a talent for dead languages who had come to science later on. He called the voices in his head “divine revelation.” They had told him how to build chips that would interface with genetic material in human beings – the same that were now implanted in Mona, and others – amongst other things. He had made the phone company a lot of money, and they had been willing to indulge him with his “other projects” – up until now. His insight had also made him a rich man. But none of his success seemed to have made him happy.
“Because I’m not from here,” he told me, “deep down I’ve always known it.”
“You’re an American,” I reminded him.
He smiled. “When I was a baby, they found me on a New York doorstep. But I’ve always felt like I came from somewhere else… somewhere out there.” And he pulled down a star map of the milky way, tracing a finger along the outer rim: “Aldebaran, Hastur, The Hyades… somewhere out there is where I’m from. And one day I’ll go back there. When I can build the machines to take us there.”
I must have stood silent for a while, and then I asked: “Why are you telling me all this?”
“Because I knew as soon as I saw you that you were like me. That day in the museum as soon as I heard you talking…”
“You’re wrong, I said. You don’t know anything about me. You’re crazy.”
“We’ll know some day,” he said. “All I need is for someone to turn their gate on at the other end.”