Authors: Craig Gehring
© 2012 Craig Gehring. All Rights Reserved. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
A Ring Publications novel.
Table of Contents
This in all likelihood is the first broadly published novelization of the events surrounding the rise of the most influential scientist of our times.
Although Atlas gave no interview before he died, non-classified excerpts from his journals have recently been released by his foundation. These, combined with unprecedented interviews with both Doctor Knowles and the late Doctor Seacrest, make this fictionalization closer to truth than the many unauthorized biographies that have filled bookstores since Atlas’s untimely demise.
The scientific community may find fault with writing an historical fiction on such a figure as Atlas, but one could argue that in order to understand him and gain context to his accomplishment, one must take artistic license to fill in the many gaps. A timeline does no justice to his life’s work; a litany of his scientific discoveries does not spell out this man’s soul.
On behalf of my research team, co-writers and editors, it is my great pride and pleasure to present to you
In order for my early decisions to be comprehended, one must look out from the faulty pa
ir of eyes I wore in 2010. I
suffered from tunnel vision
. If one desires to
at that time
one must feign the same affliction
affairs of nations. One must divert one’s eyes
from such matters as my International Science Foundation. One must
one island, one near-invisible speck on the globe. From there, one must narrow one’s consideration further to a small group of men and women and their conflicting struggles for survival.
This localized viewpoint actually provides the true story of the nirvana effect, all the way up the line to present day – that is, individuals and tiny groups making decisions
, I might add)
in their own separate fights for life.
I hope someday that my earliest decisions will be forgiven. Once this journal is declassified, it will be quite plain that my initial actions with the trance substance brought on disaster and un
For the gifts I have given Man, I have never desired admiration.
But I hope for forgiveness.
Journal Excerpt, 2023 A.D.
A mosquito landed on the anthropology text Edward Styles studied from his lap. The insect was nothing; it scarcely blocked a single character. But since he focused his eyes on it, it was everything. All the world was a blur except that bug.
Much to Edward’s surprise, the bug and the text were blotted by the flickering shadow of a man. Edward looked up. He’d heard no footsteps into his tiny bamboo hut, no real warning sign.
Nockwe, the Onge chieftain, towered at the entrance of Edward’s dwelling, his dark skin punching out the starry sky behind him.
The native’s surprise appearance unnerved Edward. It wasn’
t like Nockwe to enter
unannounced. In his six months of work at the Onge village, Edward had never feared for his safety. For no other reason than a poisonous wren
ching in his gut, Edward feared
Nockwe wore more clothes than Edward ha
d ever seen him in. Besides th
loincloth, the chieftain
ceremonial hunting garb: a feathered
headdress, a bearskin for a robe,
a dagger at the
spear in hand. Edward noticed the spear particularly. The native
it as though he intended to use it.
communicated with signs
. He knew little English, and Edward preferred to not let on how well he understood Onge.
Nockwe pointed at his spear, its tip glistening
with poison. Nockwe then pointed to Edward.
The missionary stiffened
. The text in his lap slid to the floor. Neither man
it pounded the dirt; Edward watched the spear, and Nockwe watched Edward.
spoke slowly in English: “White man stay hut.” He searched Edward’s eyes for a sign of betrayal. Edward
tried to make his eyes appear
mosquito flitted past his nose.
Edward had no trouble ignoring it.
Edward had a mind for facts. It had served him well in seminary. Facts flitted through his mind like the mosquito
through the air
. One fact was that Nockwe had become chieftain by dueling three men consecutively in hand-to-hand combat. Another fact was that the village was a forty mile hike from Lisbaad.
Another was that Onge custom dictated that only one Westerner be allowed to visit at a time
, and that in a village of 1,161
primitives, Edward was the only pale face.
Edward never prayed. He was a priest by
profession and creed, and he said the
words of the
as was custom, but he never put any faith behind his rosary. On mission
alone, where no one could detect him, he didn’t even
the empty words.
At that moment, though,
Edward prayed. He prayed
as an inst
Make him leave.
The chieftain’s eyes strayed above Edward’s head. The missionary turned to follow Nockwe’s gaze. He was looking at the cross hanging from the wall, fashioned of wood and thorns. A young Onge man, Mahanta, had made it for Edward. Edward would have preferred
craft, but accepted it graciously enough.
Nockwe walked around Edward to touch the cross. He easily reached it and fingered one of its thorns. Edward had used a chair to hang it up near the ceiling, out of his sight line.
left abruptly. He swatted a mosquito off his arm on the way out.
Edward slid down to the floor to join his
his hands on the hard dirt
. The earth felt cooler than the air.
He picked up his
book and examined it. One of its corners
had dug into the ground
. He picked each speck
and slid the book back onto his cot
Edward looked outside from where he sat. H
e could not see far. Onge nights were darker than any he’d experienced. Only the stars and moon lit the village clearing, and even they had a rough go of it through the constant cloud cover. The tropical Isle of Lisbaad rained in seeming perpetuity.
night was clear enough. He was happy to not have to endure his leaky roof.
nearby huts were tinged in the subtle warmth of a far-off campfire.
had started rac
for an answer
for Nockwe’s uncharacteristic threats from the instant the chieftain
had swatted the mosquito. The possibilities were few.
Either the tribe had gone to war (unlikely, since the
only force to go up against on the island was the Sri Lankan government) or else th
having a ceremony to which Westerners were not privy.
The campfire tended to confirm the latter. The lack of war cries
at all, for tha
t matter, allowed Edward to finalize
He already knew what ceremony. It was Mahanta’s coming of age.
Edward lay down. The dirt felt a better pallet than the cot for the time being. The difference in temperatures
and the hardness of the floor
helped him think
. He felt a soft spot
where the handle of Nockwe’s spear had broken up some of the dirt
fingered the grains of soil idly.
Edward did not pray
but he did meditate. Meditation was a way of the Jesuit.
St. Ignatius would approve. Edward meditat
ed on the ceremony and the dirt, gradually slowing
his gyrating heart.
So Mahanta will come of age tonight.
His thoughts beat in rhythm to his pulse. He gathered a handful of dirt and poured it out of his palm.
And they don’t want me to see.
Edward guided himself into a
light trance as h
e considered the key events surrounding the ceremony.