Ming-Hoa’s sight was darkening as he felt the pressure of Chow’s hands around his neck strengthen. Soon he would be reunited with Cuifen he thought for an eternity or at least until only their bones were left. Ming-Hoa believed that once the flesh was gone, the consciousness of the person was also gone unlike the other villagers who believed that the life energy ceased to exist once the breath had gone. He could feel the blood beat at his temples as he mechanically gasped for breath. Suddenly he felt himself freed from Chow’s clutch. Those restraining Ju-Long had come to his rescue and pulled her off him. The women came over to try and reason with Chow so that she would stop trying to go back and strangle Ming-Hoa.
Slowly it would seem that Chow had been reasoned into passivity, so the men returned to their rolling of the coffin on the platform. Somehow none of them felt it was safe enough to directly haul the coffin over their shoulders like they would normally do. Besides, with all the marble of the coffin it was easier to roll it to the graveyard than carry it. Ming-Hoa who was now freed from Chow’s vice-like grip was wailing and following Cuifen’s coffin, uttering from time to time nonsensical whimpers that sounded like muffled words. Eu-Meh thought she could hear something like “Three drops of blood”… “One minute you were”… “body so pure “… “why did you tear” “my ponytail”. She wondered whether Ming-Hoa had attempted to abuse Cuifen and subsequently murdered her when she refused. It all seemed so logical. She should remember to mention that to the police when they would come.
There was no policeman in their village, just one in the nearby village and it would take a day or two for him to come over. She knew that the inquest would have to be handled by more than just that policeman so he would need to wait for the other ones to arrive from the city. This could take another two or three days so the inquest would only start around a week from then. She wondered whether it was wise to already bury Cuifen and have her dug out when the inquest started. There had been one other murder a long time ago and although the murderer had been known, the inquest had still decided that the body must be dug up to corroborate the way the murder had been carried out and the murderer who had been responsible for that murder. She wondered whether she should ask the villagers to stop the burial but realized that everybody seemed to want to be rid of the sight of Cuifen dead.
Chow who had now been relatively quietened by the women was now following Eu-Meh. This latter slowed down so Chow could catch up with her. Without a word Eu-Meh put a reassuring arm around Chow sustaining her frame as she could see that the normally stoic Chow was very near to collapsing.
I think I know who killed Cuifen, she said in a hoarse whisper, but promise me you will not do anything if I tell you.
The news kept coming in, one recount more alarming and shocking than the other. It had all started the day before in Kerman in Iran where an Earthquake with the magnitude of 7.7 had caused several thousands of deaths and several thousands were left injured. Shortly after that followed an Earthquake with the magnitude of 9.3 in Shiraz, the deadliest ever in Iran, taking the death tolls to several hundreds of thousands. The Earth had opened up at Sabzposhan and severe landslides together with the Earthquake had taken their toll on the region. The Earthquake then hit the region of Bandar Abbas, causing tidal waves along the coast.
In Dubai, the tremors were felt by the inhabitants although the radio signaled that there was nothing to fear. Shortly after this news came out, Dubai residents felt tremors shake the city. It seemed like the Earthquake that had started in Kerman was following a zig-zag pattern as the radio announced that another Earthquake had occurred in the capital, Abu Dhabi. The tremors were slight at first with perhaps a magnitude of less than 4 but soon the Dubai residents felt the city shaking with increasing tremors building up another larger Earthquake.
Slowly but surely the tremors increased. It all seemed as if the fault that had opened up in Iran was now continuing its way under the sea. The Dubai residents had run out of their homes as the tremors increased but with the havoc happening outside they wondered if they should go back to the safety of their homes. The skies were filled with helicopters that were taking the ruling family to safety. One wondered where that would be however as everywhere in the city there were recounts of buildings collapsing and the Earth opening up.
A news crew was busy filming the disaster in the air using a helicopter they had hired for the occasion. The level of destruction caused by the Earthquake was unimaginable. Several towers had simply caved in, some others had tilted over and some were split in the middle with the top parts falling off like a peeled orange. Several fires had been ignited everywhere as a result of the falling buildings and badly protected wirings. As the journalists watched, the beautiful Burj Khalifa’s external glass structure shattered into thousands of shards before the top of the building started toppling over.
It seemed like this was not the last of the problems though as they could see a tidal wave forming at the coastline. They watched horror-struck as residents across the coastline clambered to the top of their houses in a desperate move to be saved from the oncoming wave. Some of the journalists shut their eyes in prayer as the wave crashed on the shore, wiping out the entire areas of Jumeirah, Um Suqueim and Dubai Marina as it swept along the coast and made its way to the middle of Sheikh Zayed road. Hundreds of cars that had been jammed in the residents’ desperate attempt to flee the area were soon overpowered by the seething water that rocked them to and fro before casting them against the buildings that were toppling over.
The journalists in the helicopter cried helplessly although they were normally hardened men. They thought of some of their relatives down there whom they would never see again. Some had wives and children who had surely perished, if not drowning in the waters then probably under the falling towers as so many of them had fallen like a series of lego. They thought of how they had come up here to report on what they expected to be minor issues and get at least some sensationalist recounts. Nothing had prepared them for the extent of the disaster which had ensued.
When the tremors of the Earthquake and its aftershock had finally subsided, the center of the city was a lagoon with portions of buildings protruding here and there. The outskirts were reduced to a pile of rubble and in between lay a slushy landscape of debris. The towers had disappeared and the Burj Al Arab structure was leaning more than the tower of Pisa, with only its top part emerging from the waters. The Burj Khalifa looked similar to what it had looked like during its construction several years ago. The top of the building had fallen to the ground, a large part of the middle had caved in and all the glass windows had been shattered leaving it akin to a giant colosseum…
The Old Souls Chronicles 3 : Aron’s trip to the extreme and the Superim Library’s forbidden data
22 August 2017
Tony looks back at Aron and Hemshaw as Hegat’s cube takes off slowly from the point where it had been hovering, waiting for them. He realises his wife is guiding the cube to drive slowly as he had lost the capacity to sustain balance within the cube. It was indeed a while that he had not used it to avoid being discovered through the cube’s biometric data tester.
Hegat turns and smiles at him reassuringly and he feels his love for her well up inside him. It strikes him as strange that he could pass so easily from a point of wishing with all his being to die to a diametrically opposed point where he wishes he could live forever together with his beloved wife. Hegat can sense what is going through her husband’s mind. She lays a hand on his forearm and squeezes his hand with the other.
Don’t beat yourself about it my Love, she says in her soft though grave voice
I am so sorry to have made you waste all those years, says Tony
It is okay now. We just need to forget the past, says Hegat
I love you so much, says Tony. I don’t want to ever lose you again
We will live together forever, says Hegat.
Tony looks back at Aron. He realises that he has a huge responsibility in communicating the vital emotional scale. He also realises that Aron is going to have to apply for a special permit to experience the full scale of emotions and that he, Tony, would need to endorse that request. The youngsters have only known mild emotions and have never experienced passionate feelings. It was the new way of being and none of the newborns had ever wanted to live the full scale of emotions that would include grief and other painful emotions. When they came to the Old Souls, it was merely for the positive experiences emotions. The youngsters had coined the series of emotions that one could experience through the simulation pods at the Superim library or through direct contact with the Old Souls the « feels ».
Youngsters often refer to the Old Souls with an endearment term such as Paps Feels or Mama Feels depending on the gender of the Old Soul in question. Tony and Hegat had taken into their ethical custody a large number of youngsters and most of the youngsters had been very promising and willing to share the knowledge they acquired to other youngsters. This multiplying effect had made Tony and Hegat the most popular and respect Old Souls so it had been a bad surprise for the health facilities authorities and the Library when Tony had stopped coming in to help youngsters.
Hegat looks back again at her husband and smiles as she sees his face resume the appearance it had just before he had left. She embraces him fully and can feel the peace restored within him flowing through her. Tony holds his wife tightly cursing himself for having been so foolish to have made her leave and praising himself at the same time for having had the insight to give in instead of making a dash for the door when Aron and Hemshaw released him as his earlier egotistical instinct had guided him to do.
Back at their home, Hegat goes through the documents they have to send to the health facilities and streamlines all the data through her’s and her husband’s retinas. Tony lets Hegat pull him and center him as he has lost his knack to get the image straight enough in front of the retina reader. At the same time that they are going through the papers, Aron reaches home, his heart beating as he opens the door and expects his wife to be there again in her preternatural form. He has never told anyone about this nor about the fact that he experiences high levels of emotions including those of what he is taught is called sadness and grief as per the Superim library. The first time he had logged in with his official id but as soon as he had realised that the emotions he felt were considered undesirable, he had only connected to off the net data to learn more about his emotions. He felt that Tony could help him but was not sure whether he could trust him fully. Something tells him however that because of what Tony had gone through he was probably the best to help him out.
The next day, after some insistance of his wife to go ahead with it, Tony heads towards the Superim library where he has been restated as Old Soul tutor of feels. At the door of the library he finds an impatient Aron who tugs at his sleeve and almost pulls him into the library.
You seem to be very eager, says Tony. I have not seen someone so eager among any of the youngsters. Your emotions appear to be rawer and stronger than anything I have seen in decades
Yes, answers Aron. I feel a lot of things stronger and I also feel things that seem to be undesirable as per the data condensers in the Superim
That is a standard labeling for anything that goes beyond what is in the greatest good of the group of young ones. If one is granted special access then the sky is the limit to what can be experienced
Can I have access to emotions that are not happiness emotions ?
You can have access to anything that is authorised once you make a request and I endorse it
Would you do that for me ?
Of course, I would.
Aron ponders this and then proceeds to the counter where he fills out the form through his thought process jacked into the Superim’s authorisations virtual plug. Once it is ready, he signals to Tony who adds his thought of endorsement of the request. Shortly after this the Superim library opens up a section that was hidden until then and Aron and Tony are requested to go ahead and enter the section. Tony knows for a fact that it does not need to be closed because not only nobody would venture without endorsement but also the section is walled off etherically and does not show as existing anymore for the youngsters.
Tony picks out a data condenser and puts it in Aron’s hands. It has on it a skull and two roses. When questioned by Aron, Tony mentions that it is the effect of the crossover on people in love as he has sensed that Aron’s quest is connected to that. When Aron had first touched him, Tony had felt something that resembled grief and had dismissed it at the time because Aron was a youngster but now, with Aron’s insistance, he realised that what he had felt was true. Aron looks at the data condenser and then back at Tony.
Not only do I feel a lot more than others but I also feel emotions that the Superim pod could not describe, says Aron
That is because you were only looking at data condensers from the general section. Here you will find an explanation to your feelings, says Tony
I am not sure how to deal with this
You need to just go ahead and process the data condenser and I will then upload you the related emotions so that you can then download the related feels into your body
Will I become a freak if I do this ?
I know you think of it as freakish but back before the Time you were born or that which is available in data condensers of the general section it used to be the standard feeling of everyone. We had not only the happy emotions but also the sad ones and both types could be light or extremely strong
I wonder how you went through all of that. I can barely endure what I am feeling these days
I think I have a solution for you but please download what you need to download
As soon as Aron signals to Tony that he has finished downloading, Tony summons within him all the grief felt for the loss of his wife and communicates portions of it to Tony. At the same time, he takes great care to also quickly communicate the feelings of joy that he had experienced when his wife had come back into his life. Even though barely few minutes have separated the two feels, Tony feels Aron cave in under the pressure of the grief so he quickly puts him in a chair and infuses him with solace through direct physical touch. Aron who had passed off regains consciousness and slowly smiles at Tony. I feel he says and in his eyes Tony can read the birth of a new sort of being, neither the Old Souls nor the youngsters but a blend of both…
Ahmed closed his eyes frantically as the girl swayed lasciviously in front of him. He prayed god internally that he would be forgiven to have to witness this terrible display of nudity. There was flesh everywhere, inescapable, palpable, exhilarating and nauseating all at once. He checked himself and thought he should whip himself a hundred times at least for allowing this perversion to make him feel exhilaration. He knew he had no choice as this was his heavenly mission, follow and destroy his target, Senator McMillan. He had no doubt that his mission was heavenly as just the last two nights had shown him what evil he should remove from the Earth. It was a bonus to his mission described earlier as mainly the removal of a hindrance to the motion on the reinstatement of free trade with his country which had suffered sanctions earlier owing to the very radical views of its leader. Senator Mc Millan had opposed the motion ferociously arguing that if they allowed such radical leaders to get away with such atrocities committed and with the disguised support of terrorism then there would be no point in applying sanctions in the first place.
Senator Mc Millan had a wife and 6 children as he was visibly enacting in his personal life his goal of being an example for his community to further his no abortion campaign. Ahmed thought to himself that this was perhaps the only thing that united him and this man, the idea that a baby’s life was precious. Senator Mc Millan’s life on the other hand was worthless it seemed as he did not really live up to his ideals. A good father and church going, charity funding person in public, he was actually a depraved man who loved to have women in a dance bar step with high heels on his back in private rooms where they danced for him and a few others.
What else they did he knew not as he could only see from a distance what was going on and that too behind half closed lids as he felt he could be tainted by watching fully this display of exuberant depravity. Ahmed had succeeded in seducing one of the waitresses at the bar and she had let him in on the secret life of Senator McMillan one day as well as given him access so he may view this himself one night. He had made her believe that he was a journalist and that he was in love with her, would marry her and respected her too much to have any form of sexual contact before they were married.
The barmaid, Amanda, was elated to have found her knight in shining armour. Every day for a week now she had waited breathlessly for his arrival when it was her time to go home and surely enough there he had been, escorting her to her residence and then kissing her hand before saying goodbye. She could hardly believe her good fortune at having found this absolute gem of a human being who was so knowledgeable on a vast number of subjects and always so humble as well as so caring in introducing her to all these concepts.
When she had first confessed that she had barely made it to high school as she had had to work after the death of her father, he had become very emotional mentioning that education should be a basic human right and that all people should be entitled to get to at least university level without hindrance. He had mentioned at the time that if he had his way, things would change hugely in society. He had talked with such passionate intensity that he had seduced her even more and it was therefore without the slightest qualm that she had broken the golden rule of privacy she had maintained at the bar for years and allowed him into the inner room.
On the third night he visited the bar’s inner room, he told Amanda not to stay in the room after she had escorted him in and she agreed although slightly fearful that he might step out of line if she did not keep a close watch on him. He had promised however that he would only take a few pictures and nobody would ever know that she had been the one to allow him in. She left as he started drawing out small boxes she presumed were tools for his photography from his knapsack.
As soon as Amanda had left, Ahmed started putting together the mini-bomb kit. He wanted to make sure that all the occupants of the room were killed and not just Senator Mc Millan. He did not think they deserved to die with him and had therefore decided at the beginning of the week not to use his suicide vest but just to put it in a corner of the room. He moved stealthily across the floor to the other exit Amanda had showed him after securing the bomb under one of the tables.
The group of men and women were so engaged in their activities that hardly anyone noticed him. Ahmed went through them, eyes almost fully shut, shying away from the display of flesh. He could not help but notice again that there was so much flesh everywhere, white, pink, rosy or reddened by streaks of what seemed a whip. A chill went through him and his forehead broke into sweat as he thought back to how he had whipped himself for straying and another image of a whip on pink offered soft fleshy skin crossed his mind like a lightning bolt and he shuddered with a mixture of pleasure and horror at that thought. He was glad it would be soon over and he would never have to think about this again.
As he reached the other door, he quietly let himself out and engaged the detonator’s mechanism. It was set to just twenty seconds as he knew the charge was just enough to blast everyone in the room and he would be safe behind the solid door. Only a small oval porthole in it allowed one to see through it. Just seconds before the room ignited with the blast, he saw Amanda enter it from the other side looking for him. A chill ran through him and he closed his eyes as the blast shook the ground under his feet. When he opened them again, there were pieces of flesh on the porthole. He knew he should be leaving fast now as the police would soon be there and the bodyguards were running towards the place from the other side. Like in a dream, he opened the door and looked into the room. He could not distinguish in the pile of flesh on the ground what belonged to whom. He saw pieces of what was probably the short black skirt that Amanda wore and knew that the pieces of flesh there must be some of her. He knew he should leave but he wanted to find the rest of her. He was not sure how to distinguish the pieces. There was flesh everywhere. He closed his eyes but could still see flesh everywhere under his eyelids.
Ahmed’s walkie talkie buzzed as his friends wanted to congratulate him on a successful mission. It was not every day that such a junior member of the team got to bring down one of their heavy weight targets so quickly. Their leader had initially hesitated to send an unexperienced young man into the field but Ahmed had quickly convinced him with his intelligence and strategical thinking. Besides, most of them were already known to the police and none of them would have got this close to their target without being noticed. The walkie talkie kept buzzing but Ahmed did not answer it. He did not move either but remained prostrated on the floor, his eyes seeking pieces of her.
When the police finally came, they found him in the same position. They had an inkling that he might be involved in this and he was anyway their only suspect for now as nobody else who did not bear identification was anywhere near the room. Ahmed allowed himself to be hauled up by the policemen. They seemed to be asking him questions but he could barely understand what they were saying. All he could focus on was how much flesh was all over them. He blinked, attempting to cancel out those vast stretches of skin from his mind’s eye but he could only see flesh. He blinked again trying to remember what Amanda’s face looked like when she turned towards him with a smile but all he could see was pieces of flesh.
One of the policemen answered the walkie talkie which had been buzzing again and realised that Ahmed was indeed a terrorist and that his friends were waiting around the corner to retrieve him from the location. The whole group was caught in no time and tried for acts of terrorism. During the whole trial, Ahmed remained mute while his friends yelled out death threats to the prosecutor and the judges, warning them with all hells fires if they sentenced them. When the judge came to the question of whether any of the condemned had anything to say and it was Ahmed’s turn, he looked at the judge blankly and upon the repeating of the question, he screamed “Flesh, there was so much flesh. It was everywhere, everywhere” before toppling over, unconscious, frothing at the mouth.
When he came to again, the guards hissed at him and told him that he was going to be fried in a few days, just like he had fried all those innocent people inside that room. Every day they made sure they came in and described to him how he was going to be friend while they brought him his meals. Ahmed did not answer anything but just prayed silently in his corner until they left and then ate some of what they had brought. On the final day, when it was time for the execution, they came for him jeeringly, expecting him to give in to fear finally but it was the same indifferent Ahmed that met their eyes. They pulled him across the corridor slightly more brutally than they pulled other prisoners who were going to be executed. He was not just a killer but an emblematic loathsome figure of a society that they did not understand and abhorred which practiced a radical and prehistoric version of a faith they could barely begin to fathom.
When they started securing his bonds, he closed his eyes, only opening them again after they had finished securing the bonds holding his head against the chair. A tremor passed through his frame and his eyes glazed over with tears as he saw Amanda on the glass pane in front of him. He had only known her for a week but a million images of their times together jolted through his body at the same time that the electricity surged within it. He wished he had known her earlier and perhaps then, he would have truly married her and taken her to his village in the mountains where they could have raised pigeons and babies and he could have taught in the local school. Perhaps after all, it was love that was the answer to all that hate in the world as she had told him once, her hand soft on his. He could smell the burning of his flesh while he experienced the searing pain in his loins. He closed his eyes again, his eyelids imprinted with the face of Amanda, no longer pieces of flesh but a fleshy landscape of love as she turned towards him, her smile restored.