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[Brain scan of white matter fibers, brainstem and above. The fibers are color coded by direction: red = left-right, green = anterior-posterior, blue = ascending-descending (RGB=XYZ). The Human Connectome Project, a $40-million endeavor funded by the National Institutes of Health, aims to plot connections within the brain that enables the complex behaviors our brains perform so seamlessly.MANDATORY CREDIT: Courtesy of the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at UCLA and Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at MGH / www.humanconnectomeproject.org] *** []

I have something of an on-again-off-again project to re-mystify and update Lovecraft to existential and peculiar horror, reinventing concepts from the books. This story was rejected from a couple of places, so you get it!

MI5: TOP SECRET, DoR/CISP EYES ONLY

From: [Redacted]

To: [Redacted]

Sir, an update on the Mundy situation.

Mr Mundy’s disappearance and the death of his old mentor now appear to be related. Investigations have been hampered by bad practice at the university and hostility towards police and government investigators from students. The reclusive nature of the Professor and Mundy’s absconding with his papers, along with widespread conspiracy theories and disinformation online have further hampered investigative efforts. Nonetheless we have recovered what we can from the internet and from hard drives and other sources to try and get to the bottom of matters.

We suspect cult activity but this is the kind of cult activity which may drive a new source of domestic terrorism. The investigation is still ongoing, but the team seeks direction from higher up on how they want us to proceed.

Pertinent information is attached.

[Redacted]

***

From: ReisenChew@[Redacted]

To: MundayNext@[Redacted]

Mr Mundy,

My name is Jane Riesen. I don’t know if you’ve heard of me but I interned for your great uncle, Professor Angel.

I’m sorry to bring you such bad news, especially in such as impersonal a manner as an email, but the professor died yesterday. He collapsed, suddenly on the street and died on the way to the hospital despite the best efforts of the ambulance men. Some sort of heart attack they tell me, though I’m not family and I’m sure they could tell you more.

I didn’t really know who else to contact about this as he seems to not have any family besides you. I enjoyed many of the books you sent him and noted that you inscribed them to him. A little poking around (please forgive me!) showed that you might be the only member of his family to have stayed in touch with him over the years.

I hope I haven’t overstepped the mark in tracking you down but there doesn’t seem to be anyone else who knew him or who cared about him, apart from me. I don’t want to clear his house of his effects until I know what’s what and whether you want anything as a memento or to preserve for the family.

I’ve attached a map so you can find the house. Here’s my number so you can let me know when you’re coming. [Redacted]

My sincere condolences on your loss, the professor was eccentric, but a good and brilliant man.

Jane Riesen

Assistant to Professor Angel

[Redacted]

***

From: MundayNext@[Redacted]

To: ReisenChew@[Redacted]

Miss Riesen,

I’ve been out of the country the last couple of weeks so please forgive the slowness of my reply. I am upset to hear about the death of my great uncle. We were quite close, despite his troubles with the rest of the family.

I will make arrangements as soon as possible to come and check the house and help you clear his things. Thank you for informing me and looking after his affairs until I can get there.

William Mundy

Author of The Grey Tide trilogy

Born on Munday

***

Mr Munday,

Enclosed are copies of your great uncle’s will and the details of his death. I have attached summarising cover letters in each case as they are quite technical documents. If there is anything further we can do to assist you, do please let us know. We endeavour to make the grieving period and the execution of the will as smooth as possible.

Sincerely,

Albert Cumming

Alexander & Courant

Solicitors

LAST WILL & TESTAMENT

THIS Last Will & Testament is made by me PROFESSOR GEORGE ANGEL of [Redacted]

I REVOKE all previous wills and codicils

I APPOINT as executors and trustees of my will ALBERT CUMMING of [Redacted] and JONATHAN COURANT of [Redacted] and should one or more of them fail to or be unable to act I APPOINT to fill any vacancy JANE RIESEN of [Redacted].

I GIVE ALL MONEY AND PROCEEDS OF MY ESTATE to JANE RIESEN of [Redacted] and ALL PAPERS AND EFFECTS DESIRED to WILLIAM MUNDAY of [Redacted] with any remaining material he does not desire to be sold or otherwise disposed of as he wishes, with resulting monies going to JANE RIESEN.

I GIVE the rest of my estate to my executors and trustees to hold on trust to pay my debts, taxes and testamentary expenses and pay the residue to JANE RIESEN of [Redacted] but if she fails to survive me by 28 days or if this gift or any part of it fails for any other reason, then I GIVE the residue of my estate or the part of it affected to WILLIAM MUNDAY of [Redacted].

I WISH my body to be LEFT FOR SCIENTIFIC OR MEDICAL RESEARCH.

***

Coroner’s Report

Decedent: ANGEL, GEORGE (PROFESSOR)

Date of Death: Monday 24th of February 2014

Cause of Death: Natural causes (Myocardial infarction)

Autopsy Performed by: WILLIS DEBORAH, MD

Summary:

Professor Angel reportedly collapsed on the street, while riding his bicycle and passers by immediately called an ambulance. Medics were unable to revive him at the scene and hospital staff had no better luck. Blood tests showed positive for botulinum toxin of types A, B, E and F though the source of the poisoning is hard to determine.

Professor Angel was of advanced age and had not been eating well. He appeared below weight with a generally poor state of health which explains his lack of resistance to the toxin.

While there are contusions, scrapes and bruises on the body these appear to have been sustained when he collapsed and are not a cause for additional concern.

***

From: MundayNext@[Redacted]

To: ReisenChew@[Redacted]

Hey Jane!

It was great to meet you the other day, despite the sad circumstances. Thank you for letting me in to the house. I’ve filled the skip with things I think are junk and set aside a few other odds and ends I don’t want but which may interest you, or at least may be able to be auctioned off for a worthwhile amount of money.

I must say, I’m shocked at the state of the place. The house is a real tip and looks like it has barely been maintained. My hat is off to you for being willing to work in such circumstances and I’m, frankly bewildered that he had the money to pay you but not to replace the broken window in the downstairs toilet.

As for his notes and other materials I am slowly sifting through them to see if there’s anything worth keeping, but he was clearly getting disorganised in his old age and only his draft manuscripts, next to his typewriter (!) seem to be in any sort of order at all, not that they make a great deal of sense to me either. You might be better qualified than I am to know what material would make a suitable legacy or donation to one of the university libraries.

Amongst his notes I found some interesting pieces of art. My uncle was never much for the visual arts and to have so many similar pieces in his possession seems more than a little out of character. They’re not really my ‘thing’ but they clearly meant something to him. Can you shed any light on what they are or where they came from?

I’ve had a copy of the key cut for myself in town, so you won’t need to be around to let me in any more. Still, give me a text if you are going to be about or if you want any help. I’ll be staying at a B&B in town until this is sorted out.

Cheers,

Bill

***

From: ReisenChew@[Redacted]

To: MundayNext@[Redacted]

Hi Bill,

Nice to meet you too, thank you for the lardy-cake and the tea. I’ll go through what you’ve left when I get a spare morning.

I don’t want you to think too badly of your uncle, he just wasn’t very practically minded and while I did what I could he mostly wanted me there to help with his notes and research rather than as a glorified housekeeper. It’s not like he went senile or anything, or turned into a hoarder, he was as intense and bright as ever as long as I knew him. Scarily so, right up to the end.

He didn’t have to pay me, but he did and thanks for letting me know about the will. He didn’t have a lot but it should keep me from building up too big of a debt, for which I will be forever grateful.

His recent project and manuscript he was being quite secretive about but I think his earlier work on ‘Ur language’ is worth keeping, even if it was never completed. The ideas behind it seem sound to me and it could help whoever studies these things after him to make faster progress. The notes are in the red cardboard files in the bottom drawer of the leftmost cabinet and should be in good order unless he was messing with them.

As to the art, that was somehow related to his recent work I think. Most of it comes from a student on the Fine Arts course, Tony Wilcox. Student admin should be able to put you in touch if you explain what it’s all about. He came by the house a couple of times to drop things off so if I see him around I’ll let him know you’re looking for him.

J

x

***

From: MundayNext@[Redacted]

To: ReisenChew@[Redacted]

Hey J, thanks for the quick reply.

I’ll definitely look into this artist. Maybe he can let me know what’s going on with all that and I can work out whether it’ll be worth anything in the future. 🙂

I found the ‘Ur language’ thing, but despite being a writer I can’t make head nor tail of it. I recognise the words but it all seems a bit technical to me. I’ll save it, but it would be nice to know what it’s about so I can brag at parties.

B

***

From: ReisenChew@[Redacted]

To: MundayNext@[Redacted]

Ur language was your uncle’s concept of an original human language, a sort of human ‘root code’ if you will.

You can think of it like this:

There are basic things that are instinctual about human communication. We know what a blush means or a smile, no matter what our culture or origin. We know a scream in pain means one thing and a laugh another. A hiss, a glare, all those sorts of things.

Sure there’s some local variations and nuances but your uncle believed there was some deeper communication possible at this sort of root level, that concepts other than ‘danger!’ could be expressed in this way, perhaps subconsciously as much as consciously.

He didn’t get very far with it, but the ideas always seemed sound to me.

Gotta run. Got a lecture to go to.

Good luck!

J

***

From the personal blog of William Munday, retrieved 23/03/2014

Fine Art and Fine Cake

The poor old duffer was not living well.

Clearing my great uncle’s place is a labour worthy of Hercules, only instead of shit filling a stable it’s papers, magazines and scrapbooks – and they’re absolutely everywhere.

I found a loose floorboard (by putting my foot through and nearly coming a cropper). When I went to fix it I found a couple of shoe boxes full of clippings and photocopies of articles about ‘Marian apparitions’ stuffed into the space beneath the board. Jane says he wasn’t a hoarder but when you find yellowing papers on instances of mass hysteria from the middle of last century, stuffed under under the floor, you have to wonder.

I needed a break from it all, so I headed into the town proper, the ‘dreaming spires’ and all that. I needed to talk to administration about finding this Wilcox guy who did a lot of the art.

How could I skip over this place without taking a moment?

Bicycles, students, old buildings and shitty parking. That pretty much sums Oxford up. It’s hard not to be impressed by the sheer weight of history the place has. History and poshness and students braying like a herd of particularly privileged goats.

I grabbed a spot of late breakfast/early lunch at the Oxford Organic Deli, which isn’t that far from the famous Trinity College. Then I dropped by the administration and put in my request and pottered about doing some touristy type stuff until they called me and let me know Wilcox was willing to talk to me.

Wilcox is a bizarre guy. Almost your stereotypical artist, the kind of thing you expect to see as a stereotype in a sitcom. He had a house-share with some other students who weren’t that pleased to see me and didn’t seem too pleased to be sharing a space with him either. He’d taken over the shed as a work space, perhaps to escape from the rest of them, and that’s where I found him.

Raggedy looking guy. If I put him in one of my books people would write him off as trite and cliché. He had one of those straggly young-man beards, looked like he was on drugs (no, I’m not being judgemental, I remember what cannabis smells like) and all he seemed to care about was his art, at the expense of everything else. Even personal hygiene.

It was the same weird stuff I’d seen at my uncle’s place and it’s hard to describe. Unsettling shapes kind of like a Möbius strip or a Klein bottle but inadequately represented in two dimensions. It hurts your eyes when you look at it, trying to follow all the lines and curves and make sense of it. I can’t really describe it right, but clearly he’d taken some inspiration from mathematics and that’s not that unusual if you think about the golden ratio or a Fibonacci spiral.

You see the same kinds of things in language – rhyme and meter in poetry, the rule of three in public speaking and so on. You even see it in prose, the careful selection of the particular adjective that is weighted to convey the more precise meaning in interaction with its neighbours.

He wasn’t very forthcoming, not really, but it wasn’t just him who’d done the art, it was other students in his tutor group as well. That was a bit surprising because it was all the same kind of shape, the same kind of thought the art was seeking to express, just in different media and from different perspectives. I’d thought Wilcox had done all of it. I thought it was just variations on a theme.

That’s when it got weird, because of course it had to get weirder.

I went back to the admin and tried to get in touch with some of the other artists but, unlike Wilcox they didn’t seem willing to talk to me. Some of them had dropped out without leaving contact information, others I found nothing out about at all. I managed to talk to the parents of one of the students who lived locally, [Redacted] and while they seemed standoffish they told me she was at church that evening and with a bit of wheedling and an accurate sob-story about why I was asking, they told me which one.

It turned out to be one of those weird ‘spiritualist’ churches, the ones that claim to be mediums and to contact the dead. All that ‘Derek Acorah’ stuff I’ve never had any time for.

Frauds.

I dropped by anyway, thinking I’d wait for the service to end and then collar her about the art but standing outside that sad little building and listening to the weird chanting and speaking in tongues going on inside I bottled it and left.

There’s a story of some kind here. I can sense it. It seems weird that my great uncle should die and leave me this mess to investigate. I can’t shake the feeling there’s something big and important going on and I want to be part of it. Maybe it’s all in my head though and I just want a good story, the kind you just don’t normally get in the real world.

But I want it.

***

Extract from Neuroecology by Professor George Angel

The Selfish Meme

It is a sad truth that many people who see fundamental truths are not those who spend their lives studying it but those who take inspiration from elsewhere. It was a biologist, Richard Dawkins, who hit upon the idea of memes, self-replicating pieces of information, as being analogous to genes in biological organisms. Many areas of expertise are now so specialised and so deep that this kind of cross-discipline insight is becoming less and less common.

Dawkins is otherwise most famous for his work in understanding natural selection at the level of the gene. That is, that the individual organism does not necessarily matter in the grand scheme of things, only that the genes multiply and progress to the next generation. This concept reinforces ideas behind group selection, eusocial, self-sacrificing creatures and makes sense of a lot of seemingly self-destructive animal and human behaviour.

An animal though, is not a single gene and a person is not an individual meme, or idea.

Like genes, ideas thrive when they are replicated, whatever the effect on the person who holds them to good or to bad. Some memes are passed on because they’re useful. When you’re taught how to tie your shoelaces you are being ‘infected’ with a meme but it’s the kind of useful meme that improves your life and becomes part of your informational ecosystem, precisely because its useful.

Other memes might by harmless, wearing clothing a certain way or using a particular slang term, and these fall in and out of favour, novelty and ‘tribal’ identification being a big factor. Other memes can be downright dangerous, at least to the individual. The idea of ‘coolness’ for example may lead many a young lad to make a fool of himself or risk his life to impress others and gain social currency. It also might kill him, but even then the idea can and will spread because it’s high risk and high reward. The organism, the person, the greater collection of memes is irrelevant to the spread of that individual meme.

Few memes live in isolation however and just as an organism adapts to fit its ecological niche. So these memetic organisms, or memeplexes, made up of many connected memes can adapt and exist across many minds. Consider religion or political ideology as an example.

Let us take socialism as our case in point. It is a network of interconnected ideas about how to organise society. What is it that makes a good person? What is the state of human nature? These are all bound together in a single memetic ‘organism’. As a memeplex it is well adapted to the poor and underprivileged, to the young and revolutionary and to times that are economically and socially hard. When the situation fits it spreads and thrives, when the situation changes it withers and its rival philosophies do better. Just as in biology these memetic organisms survive, die and spread according to how well they fit their niche.

Can a meme be selfish? Not in the sense that a set of ideas can actually think (though that is an interesting idea, what is a human being after alll?) but yes, a meme can be selfish. A suicide bomber kills himself but dies to spread the idea and the example of his sheer devotion to his cause can convince others through the power of martyrdom.

Like the selfish genes, the selfish memes are all too common.

***

From the personal blog of William Munday, retrieved 23/03/2014

An Inspector Calls

Forgive the title. I couldn’t help myself.

I should really check into a proper hotel or something, but I haven’t had the advance on my next book yet and ‘unca George’ didn’t see fit to leave me any money when he had a pretty intern to give it to. I don’t blame him, I’m not really resentful, but sometimes it can’t help but grate a little. I’ve been here enough days now, untangling his mess, that people know where to find me and I’ve gotten to be on nodding terms with a few dog walkers and the guy at the corner shop.

I’ve been here long enough that a policeman knew to come looking for me here just after breakfast and take me for a little stroll in the park to ask me about uncle George.

I knew there had to be more to this. Since I got here I’ve had this paranoid feeling that something is going on, just outside my reach, just beyond my grasp and it seems like Detective Inspector Grass feels the same way.

He told me he’d worked with my uncle a few times over the last couple of years. It all started with a suicide cult, though I don’t remember anything from the news about it. Grass told me they’d had a bunch of complaints about travellers on a site not that far from here but when they went to knock on doors and move them on, they all already had – apart from one bus load. The people in that bus were almost all dead, weird writing all over the walls, foreigners fresh across the channel different to the other travellers or so the word was.

Nobody could make sense of the writing and the survivors had deliberately poisoned themselves with ergot – the kind of poison associated with outlandish tales of witches and devils in the past. The contortions had broken their backs or spasmed their hearts until the muscle tore. The couple that were still alive and able to speak, did not, would not.

Nobody knew what the writing or symbols were and give Uncle’s work on languages and cryptography (back in the day) they consulted with him about it, but even he couldn’t tell them much about it. It was meaningful, it had structure, but he couldn’t work out what it meant – and nobody really gave enough of a damn about a handful of dead, illegal immigrants anyway. Such is people’s indifference to suffering.

DI Grass seemed a bit intense and it all sounded a bit off the books. He was a bit too excited about everything and told me he’d been looking into this since the first incident and that there were others. That he’d talked to my uncle on and off about it and that these deaths were ‘hidden’ somehow. If he hadn’t had a badge I’d have written him off as one of those internet ‘truthers’ who’d drunk too much of the David Icke Kool-Aid. I suppose there’s no law that says such people can’t also succumb to such ideas.

Plus he seemed to agree with my suspicions that my uncle’s death might not have been as natural as it seemed. So I need him.

He’s going to stay in touch, but I’m not that sure how to take it.

I’m keeping this post locked down for now, friends only.

***

Extract from Neuroecology by Professor George Angel

The Integral Sea

If we think of the memes and memeplexes in terms of organisms. If we think of them like bacteria or animals and, therefore, our minds, our nervous systems, as the world in which they exist do we not have a useful analogy or metaphor for understanding ourselves? Every day ideas, thoughts, fashions, anything that can be thought of in informational terms fights to persist in our brains, to thrive and to spread.

I think of it as an ocean. A deep, dark ocean.

At the surface are our conscious thoughts, the ideas that we are aware of in the moment. Fleet, fast, adaptable but visible. They breach the surface like dolphins or fly in the sky above the waters. As I think these words and move to type them the ideas and concepts that make them up are called to the surface, flashing and dazzling like a shoal of silvery fish.

As I try to recall a memory, larger, slower creatures – whales perhaps – rise to the surface to take a breath and show themselves before sinking back down into the darkness beneath.

Deeper, perhaps, we find the subconscious desires and thoughts that influence us powerfully and subtly. The Freudian id, if you will, or the Jungian unconscious if you won’t. Even deeper still, perhaps, the truly unconscious, the autonomic nervous system, the beat of the heart, the swell of the lungs, the reflexes, the basics of life.

What niches have their analogues in the ecosystem of the mind? Are there plants, passive thoughts, immutable solidities of perception feeding on regular, but weak, use. The recognition of a colour perhaps, or a sound. Are there herbivores? Big, placid, slow moving ideas of certitude and solidity. Are there predators? Fast moving ideas that wipe out and kill others, feasting on their corpses and replacing them?

When one sees a previously rational man overcome with religious fervour, tossing aside the validity of reason and embracing madness it is not hard, I admit, to picture a writhing mass of sharks within his head, frenziedly eating up what little common sense he might have had.

How complex, how evolved can these ideas be? Is our consciousness the apex of the mental ecosystem and does it emerge from or coexist with these other memes? Might there not be other, greater noospheric organisms alongside us, unseen, beneath these metaphorical waves?

Do all ideas, all consciousness, share a common memetic ancestor and can we derive that fundamental root to all thought. The double-helix of the meme. Can ideas exist and express and communicate across multiple minds?

From the personal blog of William Munday, retrieved 23/03/2014

Curiouser and Curiouser

Will keep this private, it’s pretty much a ‘note to self’. Maybe I’ll let a few of you see it with permissions controls.

Been here too long and the landlady is really starting to get on my tits. She keeps going through my things when I leave for the day. I appreciate she has to tidy up but I’ve been stuck here over a week now trying to make sense of all this and she’s had a lot of my money. A bit of privacy wouldn’t hurt too much, surely?

I know she’s been going through uncle’s things that I’ve stored there for research. Sticking her nose in. She knows that I know and I’ve been getting strange, synchronised glares from her and her other guests every morning over my Crunchy Nut, as though it’s me that’s done something wrong. I hope I can wrap this up soon.

I miss London, the easy access to things to do. If you’re not a student there’s not a huge amount to do here and I have to go out every day while Mrs Nosey pokes around my stuff. I am so bored of spending the day in pubs, you have no idea.

It’s not like I’m that isolated, I have the internet, but I dread opening my mailbox or social media because every time I do there’s a dozen crazy messages from DI Grass about his bizarre conspiracy theories.

RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: RE: WHAT’S THE CONNECTION???”

He keeps asking and there isn’t one, its coincidence plus paranoia. What do they call it? False pattern recognition? Apophenia I think. I can’t even be bothered to Google it.

Yet in spite of all this, I still feel this need to know what’s going on. I’ve got an appointment tomorrow that might shed some light.

Mr Wilcox, he of the scraggly beard and Klein bottle fixation, was committed. He got arrested trying to steal money and then babbled enough convincing nonsense at the arresting officers over a long enough period that he got sectioned. The police and his parents asked a few questions since I’d been poking around and they thought that was suspicious, but while they were talking to me I was talking to them and I found out something interesting.

Mr Wilcox had been getting payments through the university for some time related to his participation in some experiment or other. I chased it up with my good friends in admin, worked my charm (and a big packet of Ginger Nuts) and lo and behold I have an appointment with a Doctor Lang at [Redacted] Hospital tomorrow to talk about it. A very nervous sounding Doctor Lang at that.

From the personal blog of William Munday, retrieved 23/03/2014

I have a pretty horrible headache that won’t go away. Worse and better than a migraine at the same time and no amount of painkillers are making a dent. So I might as well sit here in the dark, squint at the blinding light of the netbook screen and get my thoughts down.

I met Doctor Lang at [Redacted] and like everyone else I’ve met on this ‘quest’ to get to the bottom of my uncle’s murder… do I mean murder? Yeah I guess I do. I’ve got no actual proof but that’s my feeling at the moment. Anyway, like everyone else I’ve met along the way Doctor Lang is weirdly obsessed.

Lang’s work is in brain imaging, but it’s not the kind of crude MRI scan stuff we’re used to, those static slices of brain and blobs that show where the blood flows when you think about carrots or whatever. No, this is real time, building on the work of someone called ‘Nieuwenhuijzen’ who uses MEG (Magnetoencephalography) to image brains in real time and even interpret those signals and image them. Nieuwenhuijzen managed to get their device to understand when someone was thinking about or looking at numbers and letters. Lang’s work is a quantum leap ahead of that.

I had to sign some sort of official secrets thing before Lang would even talk to me and even then he was a nervous old bird (specifically a vulture, like in Spiderman, eerily so). I’m not even supposed to be writing this down but what else can I do? It’s how I organise my thoughts. Maybe I’ll delete it afterwards.

Anyway, Lang uses his MEG and a bunch of computers, to genuinely, actually read minds. It uses my uncle’s ideas to interpret what it reads subjectively so it’s not exactly precise but you can literally see thoughts, even ones a subject isn’t consciously aware of.

Lang’s experiments are the connection.

They use my uncle’s theories and ideas about language, and thought to interpret the data. The art students were the test subjects for the machine – they needed the money – and so it all hangs together after a fashion.

It makes sense with the glaring exception of DI Grass’ worldwide murders. For them there’s no damn connection at all.

Lang showed me the visualisations he recorded from some of the students and I particularly asked to see Wilcox’s ones, since he seemed the most affected. The playback was swarming with a familiar image that made my skin crawl and ramped that feeling of paranoia up until I was shaking.

Wilcox’s recording was full of those weird Klein bottle images he’d been obsessing over, strange, twitching, endlessly complicated shapes like bundles of spaghetti passing through too many dimensions, swimming through his mind like so many grotesque jellyfish transforming through all their possible permutations.

Of course, I wanted to go into the machine.

Lang strapped me in, talked me through it, gave me a lecture on the preservation of helium and switched it on.

It’s a weird sensation, knowing your mind is being read. You don’t want to think of anything bad or wrong, which only means you do. Every bad break up, every illicit fantasy, everything you’ve ever done wrong, ever deepest, darkest secret. That was all I did really. I sat in the chair feeling guilty and trying to remember something similar I’d seen on the TV (Persinger’s God Helmet, after I looked it up, but it works in the other direction).

Then it was done and we took a look at what had been recorded.

Sure enough, there were our little Klein-bottle friends swimming around in my mind and as we watched they split and multiplied and my headache got worse and worse.

I made it back here, somehow and now I can’t sleep. I have this irrational fear that these things are still there, in my mind, twisting and turning, eating away at everything else. I see that pattern everywhere now, in my uncle’s papers. In the art. Even in Grass’ stupid crime scene photos he keeps sending me. Pale reflections of that Klein bottle thing but echoes nonetheless and once you know what to look for, it’s all there, or is it apophenia?

I should sleep, paranoia or not.

***

Extract from Neuroecology by Professor George Angel

The Noospheric Ocean

If the human mind is a sea in which ideas swim and compete then the collective human consciousness is an ocean. Ideas are not unique to an individual and are not isolated from each other. Ideas flow from one mind to another and can be gathered from a text, speech, music, an overheard conversation, a picture, a film anything you care to mention.

Like a Cichlid dropped by some passing bird into an empty African lake, a new idea can change, mutate and re-organise to meet its surroundings and might not also something greater be able to live across many seas, occupying this ocean of the mind?

When mankind spread across the Earth, communication was slow, limited to the speed of a man on horseback or the speed of the wind. Ideas could emerge and compete and find new niches.

A perfect case in point might be the American Revolution, where old, strong ideas of monarchy and tradition, removed by a great ocean, could not wield the power they once did and were outstripped by younger, more vital but ultimately vacuous concepts of liberty and freedom that have been dumbed down to the point of buzzwords.

Now with phones, the internet, the telegraph, the television, ideas spread from mind to mind almost as fast as they spread from neuron to neuron. The processing power of the combined human intellect is enormous and yet it does not seem to be working to our benefit. We are still the same, primitive, warring apes we ever were. Is it, perhaps not working to our benefit at all? Are we livestock to some meta-ego above the superego? Some supremely powerful memeplex that operates on the level of civilisations and cares no more for its environment than we do?

The more we talk to each other, the more information we record, process and communicate, the more likely this seems to me and if it hasn’t happened already, perhaps it will soon. Just as humanity emerged from the primordial physical soup, so too might something monstrous and alien emerge from our collective unconscious when the conditions are right.

I think I have glimpsed it.

From the personal blog of William Munday, retrieved 23/03/2014

I‘m making these posts and everythIng I’ve gathered publiC.

I went back to Doctor Lang’s lab today and went through all the recordings, as deep as the records would let me.

Those Klein-bottle things are present in every mind he ever scanned. They’re just dormant in some and active in others, like how a disease can hide away and Flare up again years later, like malaria or the spores of some bacteria.

Ideas can be like that too. hidden away in writing, stone tablets, cave art. Ancient ideas to whom we’re not even alive. To whom we’re a natural resource or a thing to live in and on, the same way we walk the ground, swim the water or fly through the air.

I doubt the idea even knows we exist, even knows we’re alive. I think, though, when we get a little too aware of it it reacts, or its immune system reacts at least. We would put out a fire, seal away toxic waste, clean water and that is what it did when it killed my uncle.

I know how insane that sounds, but there’s no doubt that ideas can kill. Religion kills every day. Hitler’s twisted ideas about eugenics and race killed millions. Millions more died because of the ideas of Mao and Stalin, ideas so powerful that reality was ignored.

Those are crude though, this idea is subtle enough to single out my uncle and have him killed. It’s smart enough to know who I am, what I have done. It’s smart enough to be aware of me.

The way the landlady watches me, the way the other guests watch me. If I could see inside their heads that twisted little thing would be writhing and multiplying, I just know it. I was followed to the lab by someone, some of the porters looked at me strangely and when I left I was followed again but I don’t know by who.

Of course, I could just be mad. Maybe I snapped under the pressure and the grief, under the strange ideas that frankly, I have never understood.

I knew this was big, but I never knew how big. How many more minds have to be infected before the idea truly awakens and then, when it awakes, will it be aware of us now? Will we still be us? Who or what will we be? Am I in charge of my own mind or am I the parasite, the bystander.

I’m part of something bigger now.

I need to tell people about it.

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Genealogy is a fascinating subject.

What, though, if it takes you back to the ‘old country’ and to a town that no longer exists. What can you learn from a crumbling cliff and a village sunk beneath the waves?

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I couldn’t sleep. The girl, I still didn’t know her name, had unsettled me. Her scent lingered in the cramped bedroom, fighting with the smell of damp and my own sweat to dominate the room. It was cold now though and I huddled deep under the covers, not that it seemed to help. Every time I closed my eyes I had the unsettling feeling that she was back in the room, standing over me and it kept jerking me back awake with a thumping heart. She had bitten me, hard; hard enough to draw blood and it still ached, even though the bleeding had stopped now.

It was no good, I was left restless, curiously unsatisfied. My head was swimming with unstructured thoughts, fears, wondering. The professor’s books sat beside the bed, near incomprehensible but what I had read had instilled in me the same curiosity that had brought the professor here.

It was no good. I steeled myself and swung off the bed into the cold night air, hurriedly pulling on my clothes and, as quietly as possible, creeping out onto the landing. The boards creaked, every step, sounding to me in the stillness of the night like the thundering tramp of a giant. I stopped, briefly, in the filthy little bathroom to soap the smell of sex from my body and, somehow, that made me feel better, more human, more settled. I was up now though, awake and I needed some air.

The door of the house creaked in its warped frame as I tiptoed out, closing it with exaggerated slowness, sucking my teeth with unease, hoping I hadn’t woken anyone. The only other one awake seemed to be the girl. A shiver down my spine as I stepped from the porch light and I looked up to see her cat-like gaze watching me go, her nose pressed up against the clear glass.

I put her behind me, thrusting my hands deep into my pockets to keep them warm as I tried to pick my way back to the cliffs. There was hardly any light tonight, no moon or stars, just the distant light from the porch and the faintest glow on the horizon to light my way. My hand groped in the dark for the guy-rope and found it, carefully inching my way down that treacherous path, bit by bit, the shadow of the cliff making the path and the beach virtually invisible.

A slip, a tumble, part of the path gave way and I fell, sliding down the path, no way to tell how high up I still was, how far it was to the beach I panicked, so scared by the dark that I couldn’t even voice a cry, just a strangled half-yelp as I tumbled into the void.

Striking the ground drove the breath from my body and left me spitting sand from between my teeth. I was winded and the bite in my shoulder flared, but I can’t have fallen that far. It just hurt, nothing was broken, dignity bruised more than my flesh but still I just lay there in the damp, yielding sand for a little while, getting my breath back.

After a time, the scent, the cool dampness of the sand stirred memories from the bedroom and that made me shudder. I sat bolt upright and struggled to my feet, brushing the sand from me with desperate pushes of my hands.

Then I saw it.

The sea was glowing, faintly, a green phosphorescence that glowed brighter with every wash of the waves and faded as they stilled. Eyes wide I stumbled forward and through the frothed surface of the glowing water imagined I could see the faintest shadows of the lost town beneath the water.

Was it my imagination or was I really seeing it? The squarish outlines of houses, streets, a dark shadow where the body of the church must reach up to its still-standing spire. It was impossible to tell if it were real or a trick of the light but it took me to the very edge of the water.

Water lapped at the toes of my shoes as I stared into the glow and my eyes adjusted slowly to the dark. Shapes moved in the dark and sunken town, or maybe just the cast shadows of the waves. I could see where the beach sloped forward and then dropped off, suddenly, down to those hidden shapes, so much deeper.

There was a glitter in the sand where the water slopped back again and I reached down, Plucking another coin from the sand and brushing it with my thumb. Gold again. Then I saw another, further out. I peeled away shoes and socks and stepped into the chilly brine, plunging my hand down into it to pull another from the dull, grey sand.

Something different then. A shining red further out in the water that seemed to twinkle like a distant star and it drew me. Distorted by the sea it always seemed out of reach but transfixed, I moved until the water slopped around my hips, glowing about me with every step.

I reached out, over the precipice towards the crimson mote, imagining a ruby or a garnet, perhaps set in some ancient Celtic gold.

It grew big in my vision with appalling suddenness and something made the water swell. A wave swept me from my feet and something… something boneless and long-fingered, something rubbery and cold as ice, something taloned and clammy and glutinous grasped my leg and dragged me into the dark.

I don’t remember much.

Blackness.

Panic.

A great red eye.

Teeth like broken glass.

I don’t remember how I got away.

The next thing I knew I was sitting in my car on the road back to London. A policeman tapping the window and asking me if I was alright.

I was drenched with salt water, the car was soaked in it. Green weed still clung to my body and my shoes, my socks, were nowhere to be found. I couldn’t speak to him. Couldn’t describe what I saw. There were ambulances, concerned people, people from the embassy and then I was taken home. Numb with shock and as helpless as a baby.

I still don’t know what really happened. My leg is scarred, curiously, like the shape of some enormous hand, every scar a mass of smaller, circular impressions into the flesh, as though it were stripped away.

On my shoulder, a double crescent of sharp, women’s teeth has never healed either.

I hope I found the reason we left Maundbury.

I hope they didn’t come with us.

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Butter melted over the potatoes, even though they were barely done. It formed a slick, oily puddle around the limp white fish that squatted on the plate, taunting me. The edge of the fork wouldn’t cut it, it was barely done at all, I had to tear at it with my knife to pull pale, translucent, rubbery mouthfuls from the fillet. Not that this seemed to bother my hosts whose open mouthed chewing surrounded me without any sense of shame or manners. For all the prayers on the walls they hadn’t said grace and we sat, chewing at each other in uncomfortable silence while I forced my way through the meal.

The whole time the two women stared at me, one milky-eyed gaze and one clear. The younger woman, maybe the daughter? Her eyes were keen and green and she stared at me with unalloyed fascination in a way that made her demure and old fashioned clothing seem somehow inappropriate. The man watched me too, but the gaze of the women was something you felt, almost physical, like being pinched and prodded and judged and it was making me nauseous, as though the food wasn’t enough to do that all by itself.

I finally managed to choke down the last rubbery bite, the watery taste of the fish lingering in my mouth, making me salivate – but not with hunger – as I tried to break the silence. “I found a coin, down on the beach this morning.”

“Oh, ah? A shilling or somethin’ from the town reckon?” The old man opined between picking his dentures.

“No, older I think,” I said, low and quiet, unsettled by the stare of the women. I fished in my pocket and plucked out the old golden coin I had found, setting it on the stained tablecloth and pushing it over towards him.

The old man plucked it from the table and picked it up, holding it up close to his rheumy eye for closer inspection. “Ah, celtic, yes, very old, and gold too. We get detectorists down from time to time, looking for these sorts of things but this place I hard to find and the cliffs can be dangerous. Especially after a storm. We find some bits and pieces from time to time I can show you after we eat, if you’re interested…” He let the last word hang, elongating the vowels strangeley and smiling to me with a peculiar twinkle in his eye.

“Oh, aren’t we finished?”

The old woman got up hurriedly and scurried out to the kitchen, returning with a horrid looking rice-pudding with a leathery black skin. I swallowed the welling saliva in my mouth as best I could. “Lovely.”

***

My stomach growled as the strange old man lead me up to his room, pausing every few steps on the creaking stair to turn back and make sure I was following. He seemed excited somehow, licking his lips, his hands wringing together limply as he took me into his bedroom and turned on the light. It was so dim it only seemed to lengthen the shadows and, frankly, I was glad I couldn’t see too well.

The room had that same pervading smell of damp that plagued the whole house. The curtains were drawn and faded by the sin and filthy cobwebs clung to them and festooned every corner. Beneath the damp was another smell, stale sweat, body odour and the hanging miasma of barely cooked fish from the kitchen below. All that was forgotten though as the wizened old gnome dragged a case out from under the bed and flipped it open. Even in the light of that fly-speckled bulb it glittered and the reflected light from the case lit the old man’s face up in a buttery glow.

“We find things time to time as well… a little retirement fund,” he winked.

It was amazing, a trove of gold coins of all different sorts, golden torcs, clasps, broaches. I was no expert but it all looked crude, old, ancient even.

“Afore the Romans, an’ perhaps a little after too,” he offered as picked up a torc, a sort of golden collar, and turned it in my hands. “A professor came some time back an’ told us all his theories,” he laughed, a sort of snorting cough. “Don’t know much about it all myself, but he left some books if you want to read about it.”

“I’d like that.” My voice sounded strange to me, low, reverential almost. To be holding something so old, so priceless. I set it back down, carefully, in the case as the old man rummaged around some more, dragging out another battered suitcase, turfing out old clothes and heaving out a couple of books.

“Villagers used to find this stuff all the time, there were a little museum of the stuff in the church. Professor said they were offerin’s or somesuch. I weren’t paying too much attention. Here you go,” he laid the thick, hard-backed books in my hands. “Best read them, if’n you’re interested. I s’pose you’re staying another night?”

I nodded, and he seemed pleased with that, ushering me back to my room as he hobbled back down the stairs to give the good news to his wife. I sat and cracked open the book, straining to see in the dim light of my room and poring over the absent professor’s materials.

***

The books were old, musty, going back to the twenties and the thirties and they spoke of archaeological finds I had never heard of in a style of English as dusty and as old as the books themselves. The print was small, hard to read in this light, the content dry and academic and beyond my understanding, but I strove to learn what I could even as it seemed to do its best to send me to sleep.

What I could understand seemed fascinating. The ancient celts had a tradition, it seemed, of offering riches to their gods in bogs, rivers, lakes and pits. Just the sorts of things the old man had in his case. Though there were no weapons, no armour, no shields amongst his trove.

Here though, these were offerings to the sea and I saw little in these books about such a thing. Would such offerings be found given the tides and storms? The sheer size of the sea? If the water were an entrance to the underworld as some speculated what greater doorway could there be than the sea? This must have been why he came here, seeking to find out, to understand to comprehend why so much should be found here in this lost town, of all places.

I read all afternoon and into the evening, it grew dark, my eyes watered with the strain. I was clutching at straws but something inside me felt that the answers to the past of my family and of the town here just beyond my reach in these books. I just couldn’t find them. When I next looked at my watch the hands read after midnight and I was taken aback. Had I left the room and eaten again? I couldn’t remember. My eyes were watering from the strain of reading but still I couldn’t put the books down.

Then there came a soft knock upon my door.

I wiped away the drizzling tears from my cheek and set the book down a moment, folding down the corner of the page and opening the door.

The daughter – I assumed – stood there, wide green eyes looking up at me. Her feet were bare and she rocked on her heels an unsettlingly false smile on her lips. “May I come in sir?”

Sir? The demure politeness seemed to go beyond her dress to something else and, unbidden, the thought came to me that her parents must be cruel to keep her so beaten down and silent. Even those words were barely a whisper. I nodded to her and turned back into the room, closing the books and setting them aside. “What did you want?” She gave no voice to anything but the door clicked shut and there was a flutter of fabric. My back stiffened as I turned and I bit my lip as I looked at her, rising slowly to my feet.

The old-fashioned dress was in a pile at her feet and her loose-limbed, slender body was naked in the dim light. More shadow than flesh and what could be seen was pale and white. “I don’t think…” I began, but she stopped me in a moment, stepping up to me, soft and lean and small against me, urgent and shameless, her mouth at my lips, silencing me as she pushed me back with surprising strength onto the creaking little bed.

I didn’t even try to protest, even though I knew it was a bad idea. It had been a while since the willing girls of London town and even the cynical fashionistas of Soho hadn’t been as forward, as demanding as this girl. She held me down, squirmed on top of me and stripped me bare, tearing buttons and scratching flesh with rough nails in her eagerness.

“Everything,” her voice a sibilant hiss in the dark as the light caught her eyes, flaring them red like an animal in headlights. Her sharp nails and long fingers twisted my watch from my wrist and then it was just us. Skin an hair, nails and teeth and nothing more.

She was cool, but wet, demanding and fierce, sharp little teeth biting into my shoulder as she writhed to me. There was nothing I could do, nothing I wanted to do as this demanding girl whose name was still a mystery to me took what she wanted with a fierce and consuming need until she quivered against me, sharp little teeth biting into my shoulder, stifling what slight little gasp she made, taking me over the edge so hard, so sudden, the edges of my vision dimmed.

By the time my sense came back to me, she was slipping away again. She left me spent, exposed, the cold of the room freezing my damp flesh as the sweat evaporated. A flash of milky leg, hip, breast. The whip of red hair tumbled from its pins. The brief flare of her dress clutched in one hand and she was gone again, leaving me confused and thirsty, shivering as the bite from her teeth began to throb.

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