The gentlemen stood blank. Their device had picked the first signal in ten months. Too Late. Things were falling apart. They hoped this wasn’t bad news.
The Officer scratched his head in confusion. ‘The signal is from his gadget. No doubt. But Sir…’ He recollected his thoughts and continued. ‘This does not completely match his gadget’s signal transmission range. Though most of the received signal is in the range, the rest looks like it has been added which could mean interception and decryption of his messages before they reached us. And curiously, the presence of these additional signals is uneven’.
‘Then how did our device detect an out of range signal’, the first gentleman quipped.
‘Well… It falls within our tolerance range sir. Not too off the mark’, The Officer answered, quite ridiculed by it himself.
The Officer continued, ‘So the interceptor possibly didn’t know that our device had a transmission band?’
The first gentleman spoke again, ‘Rubbish. Anyone intercepting this signal would have unmistakably identified the uniformity. So we assume the other option’.
The second gentleman completed, ‘The interceptor wanted to establish his presence‘.
‘Try finding what the additional signal corresponds to’, the first Gentleman said. Though this had turned out to be one tight mission with very little time to spare, the three men in the room were immensely educated to not make blunders out of rush. They liked to play things slow and, more importantly, safe.
Though the signal contained plenty of these off-the-mark ones, the Officer selected the first one and clicked icons so fast that it seemed random. Now he had better riddles to solve. ‘The message is 8 words of text with two pictorials in-between Sirs’.
There was a moment of silence. The last thing they wanted to see was their dead ‘leader’ and a threat message. The message wasn’t any better though.
The first scientist, the physicist, was the only one to decipher the two signatures instantly. If he hadn’t, he had no eligibility to stand in that innovative place. ‘Galileo’s and Newton’s’, he thought about the signatures. Yet, he didn’t want to make mistakes of memory.
He waited as the Officer searched for the two signatures and found matches instantly. The other two looked lost.
‘The Interceptor knows a lot. A hell a lot about us’, the second Gentleman, the All-powerful, thought.
The Officer started aloud, ‘There is something else. The message came farther from where he was sent’. Just plain faces this time. They were just recovering from the message and this one hit them off guard. ‘Now show the other part of the message supposedly from the President’, said the first gentleman, the Professor.
‘Not a message sir, more of an essay. Five pages of text. And Sirs, the in-between signals are clearly poetic’, the Officer said.
‘Poetry?’ The physicist vented. He knew poetry was definitely the President’s favourite piece of art. He suddenly felt a surge of hope. ‘Was the President too pleased with the proceedings? But then, it shouldn’t have been in the out-of-range part’ he thought.
‘He was well informed that the messages had to be short. This can’t be from the President. Even at an utmost emergency he’d simply follow the protocol’, the All-Powerful said with a voice that flickered between trust and suspicion.
‘I’m afraid’ The Officer murmured without taking his eyes off the gigantic screen. The second Gentleman’s gaze flickered through the page of text spotting a poetic part in the middle before it finally hit the first line.
‘Holy Shit!’ the All-Powerful cursed for the first time in a decade.
The three lost even the slightest hopes they had. They felt like staring at a sky high white wall.
‘So five pages is all we’ve got?’ The All-powerful enquired suddenly feeling it was not enough.
‘We had only two pages of data ten minutes ago. It is being sent in parts’ The Officer said still petrified by the first line.
‘So what do we do? Keep reading an encyclopaedia of text? Don’t we have action waiting to be taken’ The Physicist’s ego protested.
‘Is there an alternative?’ the All-powerful erupted. He was too preoccupied to be at his dignified best.
After a few exchanges of looks and fear, the three, with no other immediate alternate, stared at the screen. The Physicist felt a blood curling chill all of a sudden. He cursed himself. ‘You enjoyed the Nobel. Now take its complimentary.’
I lay with no recollection of where I was. A troubling feeling of hallucination gripped my thinking. As my eyes adjusted to the high contrast of the orange-ish sky above, I doubted my vision. My eyes saw the two sources that supplied this place. Astrophysicists would call this wonder a Binary System. ‘A system of two ‘suns’ orbiting their centre of mass’ reminded my mind. I painstakingly lifted my head pushing my hands on the ground which felt more like rubber. My eyebrows hindered most of the view. Even then, ‘The place’ looked sylvan and breathtakingly colourful. It was a garden of colourful flowers I hadn’t seen anywhere my entire life. My head fell back to the ground. My body felt numb. Before I closed my eyes, to the best of my memory, I saw a small bright fly.
There on the bare floor,
Slept your dear hero,
Not in the comfort of his room,
Not with his Earthly mind,
But In some land far away,
Far from his legendary memory,
Farther from his homeland,
In the Traveller’s Inn,
Which you call Galileo.
An ocean of thoughts, dreams, sounds, hatred, violence, stars, planets, Physics, happiness and arrogance flipped like the pages of an album. I woke up to a melodious sound. The sound of rushing wind. This time I was sure I wasn’t dreaming. The hallucinating feeling was gone.
I tried to stand up, my body resisting the sudden work my muscles were required to perform to get me upright. The floor’s softness kept poking my curiosity. After a few steps of laboured walking, I yielded to my desire to try jumping on this rubbery ground. This is one hell of a dream. The jump immediately took me some 10 feet upward. Air borne, I wondered what units people used on this planet for distance. The possibility of not landing on the ground loomed large. Midway down, I let out a loud cry. The cry gave me a feeling that I was indeed enjoying. I wondered if any Earthian physicist, Newton in particular, could ever be trusted in this strange place. My nose touched the ground 5 seconds later. I fell flat on the ground, face down, completely unhurt. I tried it a few more times, shouting an extra decibel each time. Adrenaline consumes glucose. I may need it later. This activity better wait.
I went down on my knees to examine a curiosity invoking multi-coloured flower. The stem was as slender as a rose’s. On it stood a flower, which looked dense and heavy. I touched it. This could only be felt. Not described. I pulled the plant up with the fear that it would indeed trigger a Hydrogen Bomb. Even that wouldn’t surprise me given the things I had seen the past few minutes. There are only two possibilities. Either I’m dreaming or… I’ve gone nuts. The plant had stood on the ground. It had stood on the ground. I meant what I said. It had no roots. The VIBGYOR of the flower was why I was examining that in particular. Otherwise, I’d have gone for those black ones or better, the shining gold ones.
All of a sudden, a strange fragrance took hold of my olfactory. The smell grew larger each passing second. I had the feeling this would suffocate me to death. A few choking seconds later, the smell seemed to have got to the acceptable range of my olfactory. The fragrance reminded me of a song people loved in my world. I felt a sudden warmth. Warmth I had never felt before. My shoulders felt easier. Her hands had eased them. I turned to see her.
Struck by her immense beauty and the depths her eyes took me, I wished this dream continued at least for a few more days. She then leaned onto my shoulder. The first women I’m ever touching. She guided my hand onto her waist. It was the endorphins this time. I knew what next to do. Walk. I see movies.
They walked like the hopeless Romantic,
Though he felt like a lost lunatic.
In this dreamy a place,
They walked with the slowest pace.
Two stars are less calm a sight,
Than a full moon on a breezy night.
‘Haven’t you still not got back your memory? What is the last thing you remember?’ she asked me rapidly. I gave it a thought. I could remember graduating from college, then, receiving my first salary, almost dying at the hands of Tuberculosis and finally, Riya’s death. I was sure that was my last memory. Before I could speak, ‘So Riya’s… is all that you remember?’ she asked. As if all this mind-reading, rubber flooring and the twin stars weren’t enough, I understood the language unmistakably. It was my mother tongue, Tamil. Her voice brought back memories of a jungle safari I undertook, when, I couldn’t place. The waterfalls, the lovely spotted deer, the smell of pristine greenery and the chilled body of dead Pinto, my cat. We walked for a few more moments as slowly as I could because I kept thinking about my last memory. Riya’s death was the last chronologically. But I had a feeling that it happened long ago.
I was completely unsure why I didn’t ask her questions. I must have asked her a million by now. She felt home.
‘Don’t wanna ask me where you are, who I am, what you are doing here and why you are bald?’. I checked my head and looked at her.
‘Well. To begin with, to answer where you are, you are at Atuka. It is a planet by the way. To be precise, it is some other planet other than the Earth. If some fellow Atukan asked me where he was I’d have said “The Windfield” though I don’t even have to ’. As my ears listened, my eyes were busy studying her. She looked completely Earthian and was wearing a saree with a few bangles on her right hand and simple ear-rings hung from both her ears. That should have been why I felt home with her.
‘To answer who I am’, she continued ‘I’m just one of the 1.5 billion Atukans, and am a descendant of migrants from Earth. Well, a lot of species, races and life forms live here. A total of 53 unique ones so far. As to what you are doing here or why you are bald, I have no idea and you should tell me that. Ya. I know you have forgotten a lot or maybe even the reason why you came here but just try.’ My memory felt intact and perfect except when I tried to think past Riya.
‘You said you are a descendant of people from the Earth’ I pressed. She answered ‘Yes. I am. My great grandparents were offered a place here and that was too much to refuse even back then. They hated the Earth because science was unwelcome there. Religion eclipsed Science. They had migrated some 400 years ago. You guys didn’t know things like ‘codes’ that decide who we are and that they are they are passed through parents.’ ‘We now know that and we call your ‘codes’, Genes’ I thought. ‘Ya. Genes you call that this late? When my grandparents came here, Atuka was doing ‘assisted Code enrichment’ by which we disabled or created new sections of codes and improved ourselves. My Grandfather said he hardly had an IQ of 150 when he came here. When my father conducted those IQ tests, I scored 320’. She said with a matter-of-fact tone. ‘What is 13301 times 11056?’ I asked. ‘One four seven O five five eight five six’ she said almost instantly. Though I did not have a calculator to verify her answer, I knew that was right, because the answer was a turning point in my life (on Earth) and I’ll never forget that. It was, by the way, my first lesson in failure.
‘Is that how you are able to read my mind?’ I asked. ‘Most Probably’ she said and I could detect something absurd in her. I might not have an IQ of 320 but I definitely knew something was amiss. That was my instinct, something that DNA will never explain. ‘Human instincts have to be trusted’ is what I’d always tell myself when I faced dilemmas in my life. I never did that and that was the primary reason for my miserable life (Yeah. On Earth). ‘For a change’ I thought and asked her, ‘Are you capable of reading any life form’s mind or is it just humans’. ‘Humans, I do well. Other species I’m not very familiar.’ She said now sounding in control. It was the better-luck-next-time moment and I had to stop it there.
(To be continued)
This post was made a response to the Weekly Writing challenge