“Paul, it’s time to shit or get off the pot.”
Billy-Bob was the most pragmatic among them.
“What are you talking about?”
“I’m talkin’ about us dodging bullets when you actually haven’t done anything.”
“What would you like me to do?” he lamely shrugged his shoulders.
“Do something. Anything,” Billy-Bob answered, frustrated. “Rob a bank. Cause a riot. Take control of something for Chris’ sake.”
“That’s not me,” Paul said firmly. “I don’t want power or control. I never did.”
“Then tell me what the hell I’m doing here,” Billy-Bob grabbed his Glock and held it high over his head, shaking it.
“Your protecting us from the Government!” Paul’s whined, sounding helpless.
“That’s it, Paul. Why am I protecting you? Why does the Government want you?”
There was a pause. Paul shook his head from side to side, looking confused. Finally, he looked at Billy-Bob with an air of clarity.
“They’re hunting me because of what I might do. What I could do.”
“And what could you do that makes them so afraid?” Billy-Bob leaned in closer.
“Ah, I see where you’re headed.”
Lasseter approached, pushing Billy-Bob gently aside. He knelt down to meet Paul at eye level. “I’ll take it from here…”
Akira stood at the back of the room and watched. She seemed to be holding some type of equipment. Billy-Bob returned to cleaning his weapons and eyed Lasseter suspiciously.
“Paul, I know this has been traumatic,” Lasseter said in almost a whisper, “and you don’t have a handle on what you’ve become, so let’s get back to our scientific roots, shall we?”
“I’m all about being who I am,” Paul responded.
“Let’s do a thought experiment together.”
“Okay, that’s a good place to start.”
Akira dimmed the lights and approached with several candles, both black and white. After placing the candles around the table and lighting them carefully, she retreated to the couch, sitting next to Billy-Bob.
“This is a thought experiment, not a séance,” Paul quipped.
“There are imperceptible lines between technology, religion, science and magic,” She answered, opening the window to reveal the dimming moonlight.
Owls hooted in the distance.
“You’ve chosen the perfect time, Lasseter. The moon is waxing. This magnifies the vibration of the candles. The shape and size of the candles, even the duration of the flames, will release enough energy to help Paul step into his new reality.”
“Where’d you get the candles?” Billy-Bob asked.
“I knew this day would come,” she answered, without turning her head.
Paul threw Lasseter a look of distrust.
“White candles are used for purification and protection,” Akira continued. “Blacks candles absorb negativity and evil.”
“You mean absorb evil like Bass?” Billy-Bob laughed.
“We’d need bigger black candles than these,” guffawed Lasseter.
“And a lot more of them,” Billy-Bob responded.
The expression of disbelief on Billy-Bob’s face activated something within Akira. She snapped at him before he could speak again: “The Universe, including you and I, is all inter-connected strands of energy, Billy-Bob. Don’t you dare laugh at something your feeble insect mind couldn’t possibly comprehend.” The words spit out of her mouth like venom.
Billy-Bob lowered his gaze and returned to oiling his guns.
“I barely understand the Universe,” Akira cackled, her hand reaching for her Iphone.
As fast as she picked up the Iphone, the room was filled with the reverberating music of a sitar. “These frequencies help,” she said softly. “The parabolic curve of the jawari emits a Helmholtz motion…if you allow it, this motion can bring you and Lasseter right back to the Higgs Boson field.”
Akira sat back, appearing contemplative, but glanced fiercely at Billy-Bob to keep him in check. Seeing that he meekly continued cleaning his weapons, she turned once again toward Paul and spoke calmly.
“Now, as they say, ‘do your thing.’”
With the candles lit, the room darkened and the flames casting long dancing shadows, Paul was ready.
“Breathe Paul. Breathe and focus,” Lasseter whispered. “You’re connected. You know you’re connected. What do you feel?”
Paul put his hands on his knees, palms up, and took a long, deep breath. Maybe it was the vibrations of the candles or the frequency of the sitar, but he felt something.
His faced winced. “I feel pain.”
“Is there anything you can do about the pain?”
A tear rolled down his cheek. “No. There’s too much of it.”
“What else do you feel?”
Paul’s body jerked. “I feel a hatred. I feel anger. I feel evil.”
“Is there anything you can do about that, Paul?”
“No, there’s too much of it. It feels ancient, too. Old stuff. Old hatred. Old anger. It’s stagnant and putrid. It feels like rot.”
“Can you describe it, Paul?” Lasseter pressed.
“He’s describing the collective consciousness,” Akira stood, listening intently, turning her gaze toward Lasseter.
“It feels like thousands of individual souls, thousands of tiny little people, lost, isolated, all in pain,” Paul replied.
“That’s it, Paul, you’re connected. Can you unite these tiny little people?”
“Give them a command. Unite them with a command,” Lasseter answered quietly.
“I don’t want to command anyone,” Paul screamed.
“Give them a purpose, Paul, a purpose. Command them to do something simple, something harmless. Something to unite them.”
“Like what?’ Paul yelled again. “Drink more Rum and Coke? Drive into more sidewalks?”
Billy-Bob stood quickly, agitated “They can help us, Paul. I need all the help I can get protecting you from the Government. Ask them to help us.”
“How?” Paul squirmed. “How could they help? What do I ask them?”
“Jesus, he’s clueless,” Akira whispered, poking Lasseter’s rib.
“They’re out there, Paul,” Billy-Bob answered quickly, “but we don’t know where they are or who they are. Command them to wear something to help us quickly identify them. Can you do that now Paul?”
“Maybe you’re not such a feeble-minded insect after all,” Akira said, placing her hand on Billy-Bob’s shoulder
He backed up.
“Red shirts,” Akira announced proudly.
“What shirts?” Billy-Bob asked.
“Red shirts. Give them a simple, benign command and tell them put on a red shirt. It will help us identify everyone you’re connected to. Everyone connect to us.”
Akira paused. “They are connected to us, aren’t they? Like a Hive,” she giggled. “Does that make you the Queen Bee Paul? Or am I the Queen Bee?”
“It doesn’t matter,” Billy-Bob interrupted.
“Red shirts. It’s a start,” Lasseter said, nodding his head in agreement.
“I don’t know…” Paul droned.
“It’s a thought experiment Paul,” Lasseter urged, “Imagine you’re back in the lab, safe. It’s just another thought experiment. If you can imagine multi-verses and sub-atomic particles dancing in the dark matter, you can imagine people putting on Red shirts.”
Paul closed his eyes and focused on the harmonics from the sitar. The flames flickering from the candles. He did feel something. Something seemed to be working. He imagined he was connected, telling everyone to put on those red shirts. Maybe he’d tell them to dance the night away and forget about all their pain.
But before he could, all hell broke loose.