Never mind the journey. It was the mixture Kali is becoming used to of exhilaration and discomfort, worry and suspension of anxiety for the future. She spent a lot of time during flights and waits tuning in to the Navel and following what Dharma and Dance are doing. They had been afraid the forest might have overgrown the place, but the Tribe’s old spell,
as described in Dogson’s story, has held and within its boundary plant life is moderate. Most of the people’s houses had fallen down in the earthquake or since, but they have been able to repair several of them, building new roofs, for their group to live in.
The Temple is a different matter. The Temple, Kali has seen as she develops the connection, was the focus of a violent jolt to Earth, and at first sight is just a mound of stones spilling at its edges over the surrounding court. It will be arduous work turning those stones over to find the carved facets. Dharma and Dance chose strong people for their group, and they will need all the strength they have. But for all that they are happy. They say the presence of the old Tribespeople is overwhelming at times, supporting and guiding them. Kali has seen Dance dancing in the moonlight on the court, celebrating her encounter with a more pristine Earth.
Kali herself is living now on a boat on the river that flows through the city of London. Once again she was recognized by web contacts (her implants are hard to disguise) as she arrived; and kind people brought her to stay with them in this strategic place, from which they monitor conflicting forces in the city and intervene for the Renewal in any small way they can. She has told them she is looking for her father, and they are making enquiries. In the mean time she explores.
Her friends, Ernest, Dan and Victoria, have impressed on her that she must be very careful here. On the surface London is a tranquil place. People adapted quickly to the Renewal and many went quietly to the countryside. Street after street of old houses stands empty but still intact and sedate. Vegetables are cultivated along with the flowers in squares and parks, and produce from out of town is distributed smoothly. Workshops of all kinds function busily and well. There is a lot of music in the open air and in churches, and several of the old museums are still open. Kali has seen things there that make her dream. People are friendly and seem content.
But according to Kali’s friends, underneath all this, in the tunnels of the old underground train system, the rogue computers are running riot. And in the City, they say, the old financial district, there are whole buildings dedicated to reception of the alien timestream, a virtual extension of the severed past, as well as the headquarters of a group dedicated to the sabotage of our reality. Kali has seen people stride stiffly by like zombies in the street, unwilling visitors, she supposes, from their alien stronghold.
Kali is in no danger of being seduced by their projections, but she realizes that she herself is not satisfied either with the purged world of the Renewal. Too much has been left out. People have aspirations, which she in her privileged state has been able to fulfil, to travel, to communicate widely, to seek paths to further understanding. None of this is harmful or selfish. The evil empires of greed and cruelty had to be defeated, and they can’t be allowed to overflow into Earth again; but what was also implicit in their motivation, the desire to embrace more reality, to penetrate to the essence of things, cannot be repressed. In good or evil shape it will impose itself. The present situation is schizophrenic. Kali knows she can do nothing now but observe. She talks these matters over with her friends on the boat, and finds that in their own way they are coming to the same conclusions. She’s amazed at how cheerful they manage to remain, in spite of the total insecurity of the future.
A disappointment, though as the days went by it seemed more and more likely that the search for Dogson’s friend Chandra would be unsuccessful. Friends of friends had known him, and they praised his work educating people in the spiritual background of the Renewal; but he died some years ago, apparently of old age. They didn’t remember seeing with him anyone like Dogson; but that doesn’t mean Dogson never visited him. For his own reasons he might have been keeping out of sight.
Kali went to the street where Chandra used to live, and walked up and down outside the little house, now deserted. Chandra’s ghost came to greet her, kind and courteous as ever, and after a while Dogson came too, but not a ghost, a live spirit, and so strong that Kali felt sure he must be close by. Now wherever she goes she half expects all the time to see him, to hear his voice or feel his hand on her shoulder. She knows the tricks that the mind can play on itself when a wish is so strong, but she does not believe she is deceiving herself.
At the Navel they have pulled out some of the screens, terribly battered, but anyway they knew what would be on them. The last one remained free of wreckage, and the lines on it have become more pronounced, but it does not tell the future, unless the cloud in front of the striving figures represents the future. Stones with ciphers on them, or parts of ciphers, are accumulating on the cleared court. It’s too soon, Dharma says, to try to put them together. There is still a large mound of rubble to be turned over.
Today Kali saw a glum humanoid slip through a gap in a park wall and disappear on the other side, though the wall was low enough for her to see over. She followed him and found steps leading down into the underground. She thought of going to fetch her friends, but decided to take the chance to see what goes on down there and descended alone. After two long flights of stairs in semi-darkness, she came out on to a platform. At intervals, both on the platform itself and in the well where the rails still run, were screens spewing out images from the old timestream, their flashing and flickering the only light there was. Among the interlocking holographs of rock stars and their punk followers, similarly dressed humanoids were imitating their steps and gestures. Kali stood where she was; it was difficult to distinguish solid figures from projections and she didn’t want to cause offense and put herself in danger. Even so a punk male, apparently grey faced and red haired, stamped up close to her and stared at her head implants.
“Coming to join us, are you love?” he said, with no sign of recognition she was a guardian. “Great, get plugged in.” And he stamped off.
The scene on the screens changed to a luxurious office where executives were discussing the aggressive takeover of a rival corporation. This apparently meant little to the public in the station. They leant against the walls and imitated the gesture of drawing on a marijuana cigarette or sniffing cocaine, which seemed to have all the effects of reality. The light steadied and Kali could see posters (rock stars again) and notices on the walls. One near her caught her eye. It was a call to all able-bodied rebels to help in the campaign against the werewolves of St.Paul’s. “It’s time we got rid of them,” the notice said. “Deal a blow for our future.” The date for the confrontation was the next day. That is, tomorrow.
The executives smiled with bright white Kolgate teeth out of the screen (it was an advertisement) and the scene changed back to the rock band. The crowd started dancing again and Kali climbed back up the stairs. She had felt no danger, protected by the people’s ignorance. She was very sad.
The only thing to do with this day is simply to tell it, in chronological order. Kali woke with a vague but heavy sense of premonition about the day ahead. The boat had bounced in the night on the grey, rain-swollen river and her head and stomach were protesting. The reflection that such definite physical reactions had only lately become possible to her again did not at that moment comfort her. She was wishing rather for much more drastic powers than she’d ever had, like the power to order armies that had been common in the old reality, and she thought, “I am becoming seriously corrupted”.
Instead, she was going to walk, accompanied only by her three like-minded friends from the boat, into what promised to be a pitched battle between old-movie-copying hooligans, perhaps with the help of powerful anti-programmers from the City, and a pack of Earth’s oldest rogue sons. Having to choose, she was of course on the side of the werewolves, but would they recognize that? Besides all this, the sensation of her father’s proximity was even stronger today.
Victoria suggested a swim in the river to clear her head, and Kali said “Why not?” The water was so cold she got cramp and almost sank, and they had to pull her out. She had got her head connections wet and it took a while to make sure they were free of water; at least it was true that the shock had jolted her out of her stupor. Finally they were all ready at nearly midday, which Ernest said was the hour the confrontation was likely to take place. They lent Kali a jacket with a hood to hide her implants. It was not very far to walk to the old church, though it was in a direction, toward the City, that they usually avoided.
There were many more people in this part of the town, and many of them walked purposefully, with or without the zombie look. Kali recognized the signs of acceleration of time in proportion to humanoid density that had been one of the principles behind the dispersal that the Renewal had sought. There is a pace beyond which our perception of depth seizes up. At least in that, she thought, we have been mostly successful. We have given people space and they have responded by not filling it with too many new births.
“You are fantasizing,” she interrupted herself, “trying to escape. There’s something ahead that’s going to be hard to face.” At that moment they came in view of the great domed structure of St.Paul’s. On the square in front of it, figures dressed in a variety of outlandish costumes from the past were standing in groups. The weapons they held in their hands were primitive, wooden clubs or pointed railings torn from park fences. Screens at the sides of the square were transmitting images of battle. Kali recognized the actor whose contorted face filled from time to time the whole picture – Stallone, if she remembered rightly. The screens were not projecting; their aim appeared to be to rouse aggression in the would-be attackers, and Kali thought that whoever had organized this fight must know that werewolves are practically impervious to artificial mindwaves. No one appeared to pay any attention to her and her friends.
“Don’t be too sure,” said Dan, when she commented on it. “The minds behind this are not on the ground here.”
It was not long before someone in front gave a signal, and the crowd began to converge, yelling, on the steps up to the church portals. Kali and her friends advanced to a place in front, but to the side so they could watch what happened. Rapidly, several fierce, dark grey figures emerged almost nonchalantly among the pillars and threatened the attackers with bared fangs. The crowd fell back immediately, tripping over each other to escape. At that point a voice rang out, from all directions at once, over the square.
“Cowards!” it said. “How many times will you let yourselves be beaten by these animals? We’re losing patience. This time you press on or we’ll chase you from behind.”
This caused consternation in the crowd; and Kali’s friends looked grave. “They must have formed a government,” said Ernest.
“Ready, set, attack,” shouted the voice, and the crowd pushed forward again. Again the werewolves came out to meet them, and this time fighting was engaged.
But Kali lost sight of the blows that were falling around her because she had glimpsed, half hidden by a pillar but unmistakable to her, a familiar silhouette.
She dodged through the edge of the straining crowd, ignoring her friends’ shouts, and ran up the steps, slipping in behind the pillars and following the shadowy figure as it retired into the church. It turned, as if reluctantly, to face her, and no doubt remained at all. Dogson sighed with his whole body and opened his arms to her.
He smelled old and carnivorous and not too clean, but it was her father embracing her, and for a moment she came home to who she was and no trouble or danger could take away from her jubilation. She had found her father. Then he held her at arm’s length and the ravages of time and hardship in his face and body became visible. He had a similar reaction (her hood had fallen back), because he said, “I’m glad, daughter, that I didn’t know what was in store for you when you left home.”
“None of us knew,” Kali said.
“True. It’s been a harsh awakening.”
“But what are you doing here?” Kali burst out. “Why are you a werewolf?”
“Come” said Dogson, taking her hand and leading her up the nave. “We’ll sit down. I don’t have to go yet.”
Where are you going?” asked Kali, though she knew the answer.
“This is the end for me,” said Dogson. “For all of us here. We have decided. We are tired and our blood can do more for Earth now than our silly skirmishes. I knew you were coming,” he said, as they sat down in the choir-stalls.
“Then why were you trying to avoid me?” said Kali.
Dogson smiled. “I wasn’t going far, was I?”
“No,” said Kali, kissing him. “So why are you a werewolf?”
“I have a lot in common with them,” said Dogson. “My energy and theirs create a powerful field. Some of them are Tribesmen, you know, not the beast sons.”
Kali thought of Pewter, in the cemetery at the Hub city.
“Yes,” Dogson said before she could ask, “we’re in touch with your friends in the cemetery. They’re the only others left.”
“Why didn’t they tell me about you?”
“I told them not to,” said Dogson. “You’d have come too soon.”
“Do you kill children?” Kali asked, before she could stop herself.
Dogson laughed out loud. “No. I’ve helped kill some bad people. I’m a vegetarian myself though I smell of the bones they bring in here.”
Kali’s eyes had become used to the semi-darkness in the church, and she could see now that the floor was strewn with bones, some of them still with meat on them, and the wooden stalls they were sitting on were scratched and splintered; but there was a space like a sky up above them, and there were pictures which, though patches had fallen out, were still magnificent representations of humanoid beauty and heroism. It was a fit place for her father, if he wanted to hide, to live his last days. She fought back tears.
“How long have you known about the crisis that was coming?” she asked.
“Since I told my story to those young believers in my mother’s town and set out again. I knew there was a further step to climb beyond what we’d created.”
“Are we going to climb it or are we going to fall back?”
“Where are Dharma and Dance?” asked Dogson, instead of answering her question.
“You can’t see them?”
“No. You know I have limited sight.”
“They’re at the Navel. We believe there may be an answer in the ciphers.”
Dogson’s face lit up and suddenly it was beautiful. “Then there is hope he said. You have brought me hope.”
There was a roar and clatter at the door and a lone werewolf – a stooping, brutish-looking creature – ran up the nave toward them, followed by a crowd of people, made courageous, apparently, by victory. They stopped when they saw there was still another “monster”. Dogson gestured a question to the werewolf, and he made the cutthroat sign. The rest were dead.
Dogson stood up, as Kali had. They embraced quickly and he gave her his father’s blessing. He joined the stooped werewolf and they pushed the crowd aside and marched out together into the square. Kali leaned on a pillar and watched as they turned, completely calm, and offered their unprotected chests to their attackers; the biggest and strongest males stabbed them with sharp railings and they fell. The crowd cheered long and furiously, accompanied by the voice that seemed to be in the air around them.
As the people started to disperse, Kali cautiously joined the group still peering at the bodies. Dogson’s blood, deep rust red, oozed thickly through the cracks between the paving stones into the bosom of Earth. The werewolf’s blood was even denser and almost black. Kali knew their blood, like dark milk from far back in time, would nourish Earth and help her to sustain, as in an unbroken series of seasons, the further Renewal that she herself was just beginning to glimpse. She knew this understanding belonged also to her father, that the constellation of his vision would hover now over the world, a leavening element in Earth’s field.
She didn’t indulge herself in long contemplation of his body, but turned away and walked briskly back to the boat. Her friends were there, very apologetic for leaving her.
“We were recognized,” said Ernest. “The armed males who were forcing the crowd forward were manoeuvring toward us, and we slipped away.”
“And Dan was hurt,” said Victoria. “He was crushed in the crowd and sprained his ankle.” Dan had his ankle bandaged and looked ashamed.
“We thought you knew what you were doing,” said Ernest.
“I did,” said Kali. “You were right to get away.”
“What were you doing?” asked Ernest.
“I’ll tell you about it tomorrow,” said Kali, and she fainted.
Today the pain has come. Kali relives over and over again the joy of finding her father and the horror of witnessing his death, though through it all runs, now as at the time, a sense of inevitability. A logic beyond her perception brought her to this meeting with her father, at this time and place, to coincide with his end. Some things that were said grow more and more significant in her mind. Dogson knew she was coming. He was waiting for her. He knew long before she did that the reality of the Renewal would not hold. And yet it had to hold as long as she and others could make it for there to be hope that the way out was forward.
Kali wonders too about the experience that united her father with the werewolves. What does it mean to live so long, and to have pacted with death? Many distinctions must become meaningless, and only the vision of the spirit flowing unimpeded from the source would have any importance. The outlawed Tribesmen and their beast sons, the proof and fruit of their fall, were perhaps equally channels in Dogson’s eyes. And all of them fit companions for his leftover life.
Then Kali’s grief returns. The wonderful, mysterious creature who has now really died, loving Earth to the end, is also her father, the companion of her happy childhood and her teacher. She has wept a lot, and told the story of yesterday and many other stories of her life to her friends and they have been very sympathetic. It’s a long time since she’s felt so close to new people.
She has also let Dharma and Dance know of Dogson’s death. She announced first “Dogson is dead,” so that they would not have the false joy of hearing he was still alive, then she told them what happened. They were very sad, as much for her as for themselves; but Dogson’s approval of what they are doing they took as a blessing.
“He will be with us,” they said. He will.
In the afternoon Victoria went out to see what she could find out about the results of yesterday’s battle. The group had expected rejoicing but she found none. She went to the underground station where Kali saw the notice, and no one was there, except a dishevelled male staring at the empty platform. Victoria asked him what was going on, and he said the punk dancers were feeling bad now about killing all the monsters, and thought it would have been braver to make friends with them. They said it was something in their eyes.
“They’ll get over it,” said Victoria, to him and later to us on the boat.
We shared her cynicism, but thought it was not a bad sign anyway. Though, as Ernest pointed out, in the City the leaders would be feeling very pleased with themselves for getting the ignorant to do their dirty work.
Today when Victoria and Dan, who can hobble now, went off to get stores, Ernest came to Kali and said he would like it very much if she would be his partner. Kali was astonished. In spite of feeling much more personally alive lately, it had never occurred to her that someone could be looking at her in that way. And she likes Ernest. He is much younger than her, but she knows that wouldn’t matter. For a moment she considered it, and thought that in spite of all that was happening it would be nice. It would be a relatively normal life, two couples who understand each other living on the boat, keeping a vigilant watch on the balance of forces in the town. Hadn’t she decided that she herself could not do more?
But immediately she knew it was impossible. “In a way I wish I could,” she told Ernest honestly. “I don’t even really know why I can’t. I may be programmed against it. You saw my implants yesterday when you pulled me out of the river.”
“Aren’t they against the spirit of the Renewal?” asked Ernest, implicitly accepting her refusal but with no less affection.
“I no longer know any more what is the spirit of the Renewal,” said Kali, and realized it was true. “I knew I had to have them when they were put in.”
“Do you know what you do have to do now?”
Kali looked at him and sighed as the answer came to her. “I have to go to a very quiet place,” she said. “A sheltered place where people are occupied with their own thoughts. Where I will do nothing but meditate and wait to see how I’m to be used again.”
Dan and Victoria came back and looked at them questioningly. Kali could see they knew what Ernest had asked her and had hoped she’d accept.
“Kali says she has to leave,” Ernest said and they said “Oh”, disappointed. But when he explained what kind of place she needed, they all discussed, concerned for her, where she might go. Victoria had the best idea. Her sister is a nun of the old religion of these parts, and lives in a convent in a wild part of Wales, a region to the West. She is going to find out if outsiders are accepted for stays there.
This place is perfect. It’s an old building on high land where very little grows, so that it was solitary before the Renewal and has remained so. Kali is fed but no one disturbs her. All the women here are as dedicated to silence as she is. They have given her blankets and a big sweater and a raincoat, and she sits at her window with a view of moor and sky, or walks in rain or sun (rain-sun, sun-rain) over the springy ground, and rests her mind or listens to small movements that start far down in the depths of it.
Some time ago Dance told Kali, excited, about a find she had made in what she supposed was Queenbitch’s house, not far from the main settlement. The house appeared to have suffered little violence, and was quietly crumbling away. In a hole in the stone wall and protected by a benevolent energy field, she found a timeworn book, written in strange characters.
“Dogson saw Queenbitch writing in a book,” said Kali.
“This must be it,” Dance said. “Our decipherers have made out it’s a personal story. They don’t have time to translate it. Shall I send it to you?”
“How?” asked Kali. “It would take too long.”
“A helicopter is coming,” said Dance. “We’ve prepared a landing place. One of our workers has hurt his back and we need to replace him.”
Kali wondered what Dogson would have thought of a helicopter landing at the Navel, on the Hill of the Head most likely. Would it have amused him?
“Send it then,” she said.
She was on the boat in London at the time, and later there was too much on her mind and she forgot about it. This morning someone brought a packet for her to the convent and when she opened it she found the book. She knows it will be a distraction from her present meditations, but her curiosity is too great. And who knows, there might be something helpful in it.
Here at the convent there are only two emergency transceivers, but Kali can beam the book to a powerful translator at the Hub. The head nun at the convent has agreed to let her try it.
Kali asked who brought the book, and from the description it must have been Ernest. Perhaps he hoped to see her, although he knows the rules of this place. Kali wonders if she will ever know love.
At the Hub they are registering so many outbreaks by now that they no longer hope to cure more than a few of them. Angela and Tomy were happy to dedicate some time to adapting the deep translation program to try to read the book from the Navel. To begin with it seemed it might not succeed, but slowly its power of recognition increased (there are two languages involved, although one is much less used than the other), and already part of the reconstituted text has been passed on to another translator to be made readable by persons.
It has been raining more here lately; sometimes the whole moor has been wrapped in mist for days, and Kali misses the tropical warmth she was used to. She wraps herself in her blankets and tunes in to the Navel, where Dharma and Dance and their colleagues are still sweating over the heap of stones. But there is not much left of it now, and the court is mostly covered in inscribed stones, whole or in pieces. Some sections have even been put together in a tentative order.
She has talked over more quietly with Dharma and Dance their reactions to Dogson’s death, and all of them agree that, painful though it is, they feel sure that an important part, which they had hardly known missing till it was found, has fallen into place in the design of events. The last screen has confirmed it; the figure that stands with Sirius before the altar in the engraving on the last screen but one is outlined radiantly now in the final scene, walking into the cloud of the future.
From the Hub they sent back to Kali the translated text of Queenbitch’s book (there is no doubt that is what it is), and the head nun kindly provided her with paper, stored since earlier times, to print it out on. Kali is half afraid of what it will do to her to read it, but it’s still raining and tomorrow she will give her day to it.
For the first time Kali understands what it is to be female. Queenbitch was not actually her ancestor, but Kali felt, reading her story, an umbilical connection with her. She learnt about the games and the pain of love, at a time when love was an image of the play of cosmic forces, and to be a woman was to represent half the universe, fertile, generous, capricious, fatal and endlessly creative. If Dogson had not been so young and Queenbitch so old when fate brought them together, Kali could almost feel indignant at his lack of understanding of her. But it’s clear now that he realized later how generous and courageous she was; at Cynopolis he must have relived his time with her and the stories she had told him of her earlier life. Kali’s own intuition of an abyss of time, with its joys as well as desolation, in that almost erased place in the desert, must have been deepened by her connection to both of them.
Queenbitch was also a kind of werewolf, in Kali’s understanding. She underwent the double pact with death. She lived by Earth’s slowest rhythms, and events as time went on flowed through her without eroding her substance. She knew that freedom and inevitability are the same thing. But she never let herself descend into brutishness. She maintained her own standards of sensibility and irony and independence. Of majesty. And she served the Bitch Mother.
Kali has not been religious beyond a momentary turning to a compassionate figure for help, for herself or others. It has usually been the male Moon Dog, because that’s the image she grew up with. When religion was discussed, she was inclined to say that it was an individual matter, and a person’s inner awareness and capacity to channel spiritual power more important than any figure of god. She had forgotten, if her early life in the world had ever allowed her to learn it, that the gods are part of our inner awareness, great force fields whose power is beyond individuality, but whose specific quality and beauty defines and illumines aspects of the universe as if they are vital organs in a virtual body, and who fecundate the persons they possess, shaping in their bodies and minds the same specific configurations, live connections to the whole.
As Kali read and assimilated the patterns of Queenbitch’s pride and suffering and art, parts of her own being came alive and began to shine, and behind this constellation of beacons in the body’s primordial time, a figure took shape, and advanced into the present, shimmering and jangling with the facets of its glassy power, till it filled her whole mental screen.
She lifted her head and opened her eyes, which she had closed as the images absorbed her, and the figure, the great Bitch Mother, was there in front of her, suspended in the room’s space with the view of the moor and a racing, turbulent sky beyond her. There was a crescent moon on her head, and her nose was long and fine and her eyes dark wells and a mane of tawny hair floated in the beams round her strong and supple body. She was old and young, fierce and kind, virgin and mother and ancient guide to the dying. She raised her arms and light dripped from them like phosphorescence and splashed Kali where she sat.
She sat for a long time, lost to herself in the luminous night of the infinitely wise and loving eyes and the play of light and dark in the figure’s aura, and when it faded Kali also drifted into sleep.
News from London and from the Hub is very bad, or would be if Kali had still any hope of maintaining intact the reality she defended for so long. In London the area overrun by holograms from the colonized screens is getting bigger and bigger. Ernest, trying to take it lightly, said in his last message that he will know they have been overwhelmed when he is run over by a virtual bus. From the Hub, there are accounts of fierce battles in all the barrios now, and the latest fashion among the young there is electronic punk. There are north Atlantic cities – the ones where the Renewal was always most precarious – where people sometimes spend whole days submerged in the stream of the no-longer-past.
All the stones in the heap at the Navel have been turned over. Some of the ciphers will remain incomplete, because there are small chips and a quantity of dust where stones were ground and crushed together in their fall. But not much.
The decipherers have made a fundamental discovery. Several times a person who has been putting together a section of the puzzle has realized that the piece that she or he needs has already been used by someone else. Together they have worked out that that the ciphers can be combined in at least two ways. The one that Dogson knew, the arrangement in lines like writing on the wall of the sanctum, is the most obvious. The other possibility that they are glimpsing, a different spatial relation of the ciphers to each other, may encode the deepest secret of the Temple. They have decided to complete the linear arrangement first, and having interpreted that, see what happens to the meaning when they change the configuration.
It sounds good, but up to now they are not sure of any of the meanings!
Dharma and Dance are tired, but they refuse to give up hope.
Since she saw the Bitch, Kali is no longer dejected or confused about who she is. In one sense, she is a second-generation hybrid body that has been modified to perform a public service. And that is all right too, even if she has not succeeded in her intent. She chose it, it was her part in this age, which is part of a process where the end will be the completed revelation of the beginning. If there can be an end. Because Kali knows now she is also a servant of the Bitch, and knowing this she has felt her body come alive again, and she understands why people have often looked to her as a mother. (She has lived up to their demands; only for herself there was no mothering warmth or charm.) And beyond this, beyond and through the immense, divine, female shape, the created yin, in which she now fits, she can glimpse the uncreated, sexless, original spirit, pouring into the world. She is a piece of that, and it is aware of itself in her. This awareness is what she has to let grow.
She walks on the moors. She has discovered a rocky head, quite far from the convent, from which, when there is a clear light low in the sky, she can see the sea. She sits there for hours, watching the lights and shadows come and go on the slopes and ridges, listening to the sound of the wind in the heath and sometimes a lark singing. She does not believe that Earth will die.
At the Navel, the stones are almost all in place in their rows as they were on the Temple walls. Dharma and Dance have the small sketches Dogson made after his return to the ashram. His memory was not perfect, but they have been invaluable in putting together broken pieces and finding the order of the stones. They are all slightly different in shape, enough, when the edges are not too chipped, to make their placing certain. Kali can’t see it yet from here, but Dance tells her a slight glow is beginning to form around the ciphers, and a low vibration to hum in the ground under them.
The ciphers are not words but symbols of force fields, and the fields are in the stones. This much the interpreters have concluded. Their translation programs can do nothing with the signs, nor are they themselves able to deduce any linguistic meaning from them; but the presence of constellated energies is evident. When the pieces of broken stones are reassembled, their charges also revive. Two stones were very badly damaged, but those on either side of them seem to arouse their force. Dharma says that now the series is completed everyone in the group feels a kind of awe at approaching it. The dense mysterious atmosphere Dogson always felt in the sanctum of the Temple must have been produced by this energy. And by the Moon Dog statue, but we know that was taken away.
Tribal ghosts have been helping them all along, and many of them are attracted now by this reconstruction of the core of their sacred place. They seem to gather and hold rituals there, and the surrounding forest quivers in concert with them. Kali reminds her friends of the old interpretation of the ciphers, according to their studies with Dogson, that they represented the ordering principles of what was apparently chaotic in nature. Dharma and Dance are sorry they must so soon break the configuration to seek in another the ultimate ordering principle, beyond all difference.
They want Kali to join them. Kali knows she must and will – she will leave tomorrow – but today she will take one last meditative walk on the moor before getting involved in practical problems and dangers again.
There are two “visions” she has had in these last few days that she must record. They were not dreams, but more like some of the interruptions that used to come unbidden when she was tied to her workstation, scenes witnessed by a mind roving in time and space. She could almost live for the pleasure of such insights.
A Tribesman is sitting at the mouth of a cave. He is not old, although his face is lined and his expression is bitter. He turns and looks inside the cave, where a she-wolf is lying with a very young cub, and his face takes on a shattered tenderness. The cub gets up shakily and comes toward him, holding out its paw in an invitation to play. The mother raises her head and watches anxiously. The Tribesman overcomes his resistance and picks up the little strange-eyed creature, giving it his finger to bite.
In the distance, beyond the palm-trees, the towers of Palace and Temple float in the heat haze. Here, a couple has just made love – her body is still tingling with the enjoyment of it – on the grass beside a pool. He sits up, anxious to continue to please her, and reaches for a flute. He plays, his body swaying as he finds a tune and a rhythm that accord with the luminous afternoon, and she watches the reeds and palms sway too with the breath of the music as she drifts into sleep. He goes on playing, his eyes fixed on her unknowing face with helpless adoration.
Although she’s going back to the heat, Kali has added a blanket to her luggage. She can wrap herself in it when she doesn’t want to be noticed, she can sleep on it, and its smell of the moor and the cold, clean convent is comforting to her.
She spent a night on the boat in London, still not overtaken by the City’s backlash, though her friends are thinking of moving it further upstream. They asked her if a resolution is near, and she said it probably is, but she doesn’t yet know how, or how quickly. They said “Come back soon”, though we’re all afraid that’s unlikely. Ernest said he’d be waiting in whatever fold in time his fate may put him!
Sitting on a bench in this blue-mosaic-tiled airport in the desert, waiting for engine trouble to be dealt with while the sand blows through the half-ruined dome and into the open engine (they’ve been flying low over the sea in case pieces fall off the plane and it has to become a boat), Kali thinks how little she does know about the future, hers or anyone’s. The plane may well crash. But she’s strangely happy.
The helicopter landed on the Hill of the Head, and Kali recovered from her nausea as, hand in hand with Dharma and Dance, she walked round the great stone and recognized the expressions on its three faces. Of course it is the Bitch, she thought. Those are her attributes. She caught Dance looking at her, and realized she had seen the new female awareness in her. They smiled at each other.
They all climbed down the path to the settlement (Kali remembered Queenbitch’s secret visits to the Hill) and Kali was introduced to the rest of the group. Apart from Eureka, a very small, fair female who was chosen for her genius at code-breaking, the rest of them could, Kali thought, if you took their clothes off, pass for the original inhabitants of the place. Except for the guides they are linguists and thinkers, but they are also tall, robust and inclined to be hairy, and their exposure to sun and dust through months of work on the mound of stones has left them looking weatherworn as well. They are friendly but preoccupied, as they have good reason to be.
They’ve recovered from their dismay at not being able to read the ciphers, but they now have to face the task of reconfiguring them, which, judging from the shock waves that went out when they put together three pieces in a triangular composition, will be actually dangerous. For now they are testing pieces for fit and laying them out on the ground (they have cleared more space beside the court) in the places they will apparently occupy in the new pattern. It may be something like a nucleus (a stone with concentric circles on it) with beams. Carefully polished corners on some of the stones may mean they are not fitted into the final design but are part of an irregular edge.
From tomorrow on Kali will devote herself to helping them find the pattern. This afternoon Dance took her to Queenbitch’s house. There is very little left of her fine furnishings and art work, and the yellow flowering tree in the courtyard has died, but her presence is still strong in the place. Dance, with an air of mystery, brought out of an almost airtight chest some peacock cloth she had found, and they wound its tatters around them, and danced on the polished floor of the entrance hall, with gestures they felt were dictated to them by arms and feet long gone from this reality. Remembering Dogson, they said a prayer to the Moon Bitch in front of the altar where her image, so confusing to him, used to stand. The house and its memories are at peace.
The moment of truth is approaching. All the stones are laid out in their final places. After a while Kali saw there was a complex relation between the position of the stones in the linear design and their places in the new one, and then the work went fast. The new shape is four rays that widen out of a square centre, the middle of which is the stone with the concentric circles. Eureka, in a moment of inspiration, scraped away what looked like scratches in the middle of the smallest circle, and found buried there a glowing red stone with a density they have never seen in a stone before. It could be, they think, that it came to Earth in a comet in immemorial times. It could be that these stones are all part of the comet, born nearer the beginning of time than Earth and astray in the universe till it landed here. Perhaps to be our salvation.
Kali has designed, and the helicopter has brought, compact computers which will register the charges created when the stones are pushed together, and send them out to all the master workstations at the Guardian Centres throughout the world, which in their turn will relay them to the smaller centres and the local transceivers. Community leaders, and support groups like Kali’s friends on the boat in London, have been alerted so that as many people as possible will be present in the centres when the contact occurs. Kali herself will be wired, through her chakra implants, to the most complex computer, in case the intervention of humanoid matter is required to make the charges effective on humanoid life.
Kali knows she may be destroyed by the charge, but she doesn’t mind. Her life has made sense. She has convinced Dharma and Dance of this.
Tonight the group is going to have a feast of the edible roots and vegetables they have found in the forest in moments off duty. Perhaps the same ones Sirius and Dogson ate together.
THE WOMB OF TIME
The whole group, except Kali who was wired and tied down in an upright hollow trunk like a throne, pushed the stones together, starting from the centre. It took all their strength and courage to go on, as the force fields locked together and the surrounding air and earth and their own bodies were rocked by waves of sound and light. When the last stones at the ends of the beams clicked into place, they fell on the ground exhausted and stunned. Except Kali, who had become pure mind suffusing the waves that travelled through her, with heightened clarity as they passed through her chakra nodes.
One day she will be able to talk about what she saw in that trance. Not yet.
After the vibrations faded, which took many hours, so that most people were able to receive the direct impact from the computers and all were affected in the following days by the microwaves that overflowed, no one could say what had changed but everyone knew that everything had changed.
The group at the Navel was no exception. They knew only that they felt a great openness and lightness of heart. At first they thought it was relief that their ordeal was over, whatever the outcome might be; but soon they began to realize that the love they felt for each other and for everything they saw, the desire to laugh at the slightest provocation and especially at anything resembling an obstacle, was something more fundamental than relief.
Dharma was the first to say it. “We’ve lost our egos.”
The others all stared at him.
“The waves loosened our attachments. The source has drawn us closer.”
“Then we should be able to see beyond mind,” said Eureka, “and I can’t.”
“We’ll have to learn to,” said Dharma. “We’re still dense. But the greatest obstacle to seeing has gone.”
The news from the Guardian Centres was bewildering as well. There had been devastation and some deaths when the evil screens and their holographed reality was bombarded by the charges from the Navel. But now it seemed that both timestreams had collapsed, or rather collapsed into each other. Past and present were overlapping in a most disconcerting way, and people got temporarily lost in time warps and folds; but things seemed to be getting sorted out without violence or anxiety. No one was trying to take advantage of the situation, everyone laughed a lot. The guardians had stopped trying to impose any kind of order, because the application of force was out of place, and the order was creating itself.
Kali went out with the first flight of the helicopter, returning to her starting-point at the Hub. Her friends there hugged her and invited her to try their new recipe for spaghetti sauce. Her room was as she had left it, nearly empty, but an inviting empty, not drab. Her workstation, they said, had gone of its own accord through various transformations between complex and stripped bare, and now seemed to have settled down to being a simple, if powerful, transceiver.
As the days passed, the city stopped swinging between past and present and settled down to an appearance half way between before and after the Renewal. This was a relief for city-dwellers, who had sometimes woken up in one apartment, eaten their lunch in another with the same appearance of solidity and appropriateness to them, and returned at night to the first one which, however, had an entirely different view. Some people had been shuttled between city and countryside, though mostly those who had chosen the country enjoyed more stability.
Kali herself was caught several times in an upsurge of the old timestream, standing on a street corner which was suddenly surrounded by dirty fumes and the grind and roar of rush hour (the singer in black with bruised eyes strode past her), or sitting on the balcony of a friend’s apartment when the trees in the park below started falling to the attack of a posse of chainsaws, or once, projected from a quiet suburb to an unrealized extreme of the Renewal, finding herself in a potato field between ruined walls. After the initial moment of bewilderment, the people round her relaxed and laughed, trusting that the reality most propitious to vision would shortly be re-established. People accepted all these vicissitudes with good humour, though as Kali knew they could be quite exhausting.
There was little traffic in the reconstituted cities, and no hysterical haste, and no violence. All over the world, the guardians heard, the same thing was happening. In London, the City was quiet and decent again, cleansed of its invading rapacious images. No big corporations had returned to their offices, nor was there again a stock exchange. But the underground trains were running again.
Kali went to the cemetery and found the computer carcasses truly dead, inert, home to insects and mice. She dreaded what she would find as she approached the caves; but the dead bodies of the werewolves, who had not survived the implosion, were lying all together in final fellowship and gave off a sense of deep peace. She wept a few tears, for them and for her father again, but sadness had become a natural phenomenon like rain, and didn’t touch her essential calm.
As the timestream stabilizes and as people begin to see what has happened to them, the fruits of this liberation from ego are beginning to show. Once collaboration has provided the necessities for existence, there will still be a lot of time left over to develop vision and its realizations. The cities are awaiting their transformation into utopian receptacles for humanoid life. Art and music will flourish. Abilities that humanoids have always dreamt of, communication in words and images at a distance, conception or avoidance of it at will, flying and travelling instantly over great distances, all without artificial aids, will become common reality as free mind discovers the effects of its leavening in the physical world. The possibilities are infinite.
For Kali herself, life has opened out. She knew there would be no further need of her implants, and Dharma and Dance sent her a doctor from India who was capable of removing them without damage to the tissues where they were embedded. No one will ever have to suffer such distortion of their body again. The holes are still not completely closed, but Kali knows how to look after them and they will heal in time. Then she will set out on her travels again. Resonating with the correspondences between her own body and the body of Earth, exploring the ancient memories that adhere to places, is, she believes, her greatest pleasure in this horizontal dimension. She will return to London, as well. Now she is free to find out where any relationship may lead.
There is the vertical dimension too, and the hours she spent with the Navel force surging through her opened up her connection to it so that only a little effort is required for her to penetrate it. She doesn’t go there often, because she wants to live this life, and see the ultimate light through the tissue of time. The endless well will be there for her when she dies.
Now she can tell it. As she was shaken and scoured by the force from the stones, as her spirit, which was not her spirit, clarified the waves, a vision was present in her, still and luminous in the midst of all the turmoil. A radiant Bitch child, whose name was Nirvana, was smiling at her from the source of time, and in her little, transparent womb Kali could see the seeds of all that is to be. She is the new beginning.
As there is a beginning, there must be an end. As the Bitch was born, she will also die, and be born again. As there is light, so there is shadow, and no day on earth, however luminous, will last for ever. The shadows will return. But with each turn of the wheel, the four-spoked wheel of time and space, matter and chaos, the shadows and the light will be closer to each other, more bound by love. And in the end…
I, Kali, if anyone is listening, announce that I am done with autobiography, and from this moment on enter into the adventure of my life.