Photo: Diego Fernandes 2013
CENTRAL PACIFIC 14:57 GMT
I am watching Polaris skim along the horizon, occasionally disappearing beneath it with the ship’s portside rolls. Outside the watch enclosure, hissing of water rushing past our hull and a faint breeze created solely by the ship’s forward movement are the only sounds hissing past my ears. Warm moist air is enhancing the clarity of stars to a theatrical brightness and luminous algae giving off a pale green light made the wake visible for miles.
Inside the watch post, my watch mate, a gregarious chap, is reminding me of a promise, “you remember,” he reminds me, “I told you I’ll fly for coffee. It’s not a problem. There’s nothin’ goin’ on out here. What would you be doing right now if we were in port? Probably sleeping, huh? It’s so weird, ya know? Right now in upstate New York, everything is probably frozen and here it’s so hot … you know, it’s almost creepy. I wonder what my parents are doing? Did I tell you they’re Greek Orthodox? Yeah? Well, I’ll tell ya what, if you can make it through an orthodox Christmas or Easter service, you can make it through anything. My parents would go to mass every day if they didn’t have to work. They’re great, but they drive me crazy.” Looking at his watch, he laughs, “coffee time!” His sudden departure for coffee opens a hole for silence to enter.
Solid beacons of the unblinking stars our ship seems to have in tow, together with the gentle rise and fall of the hull is soporific. Had I not been standing watch, I might have taken a nap on the deck. The stuffiness of the watch station prompted me to call the bridge to say I was doing a circuit of the deck. I didn’t wait for a response.
The ship’s self-created breeze refreshed my senses while the glow of our wake and almost lurid light from stars involuntarily sent me into contact mode. I am still much too romantically spontaneous.
From some of the others, I received slight reprimands as my reverie disturbed individual contemplations, but admonishments were very slight and as a new finder, mostly humorous. Marga’s response had me laughing aloud to the sky. Not one of us recognized the presence of avatar.
Our knowledge of avatar consists of the following: all avatar have similar characteristics. It is a unity of plurality or a plurality of unity. It can be benevolent or destructive and their action cannot be predicted although all action by avatar seems to be educational. They know when we make contact. It knows when anyone anywhere engages energies along any path. There is no weapon known, human or atlantäem, which affects their power or them. Avatar appears where it likes, when it likes and with a purpose known only to itself. They do not require a physical presence or body to act, but on occasion contrive appearances in the visible spectrum, which seem somehow specific to an intended target viewer. We have occasional ephemeral contacts with them. This is the sole mechanism by which we have gained any knowledge of avatar at all.
Avatar tracked along our luminous wake from far to the west. First seeing its glimmer as I returned to the watch station and in my relaxed state, I initially thought it to be an aircraft but very rapidly changed my assessment after estimating its speed. Tempted to call the bridge with the sighting, I altered my plan of action when I realized what we confronted and it was at just that moment when John, my watch mate returned bearing two cups of coffee.
“Hey! I got the coffee! Hope you wanted cream.” John’s conversational opener was jaunty and nearly lascivious.
“Anything happening?” He didn’t care and didn’t think anything could be happening.
“Launched a couple of missiles, had a near miss with some Russians, a whale collided with the boat and that alien over there is probably going to want you for dinner.” Casually, I pointed at avatar and John looked westward.
“What the fuck?” An excellent question I thought. I took a coffee from him and took a sip.
“Good stuff. Just the right amount of cream, Mr. K.”
“What the fuck?” He repeated. Avatar tracked the ship and then for reasons known only to avatar, locked itself to the ship’s speed at a distance of perhaps 1000 yards.
John stared at the shape and suddenly, spontaneously, clutched my arm. I could feel his panic rising but I could not assist him in this moment because I knew I couldn’t even ask advice for myself. The approach of avatar was a known/unknown. It had surely sensed my initiation of cathexis energy and the responding rise in that energy use from Marga and the others and now it sought locus.
The event had situational significance beyond the inferential. There would be no one to advise or guide me. Avatar had appeared and it was abundantly clear to me I was nexus. John had no such data or guidance and I was in no position to assist his panic. Dropping his coffee on the deck he fled toward the bow. Perhaps that was better; avatar has been known to casually destroy with no regard for collaterals; I had a silly thought about the coffee and the old saying about Greeks bearing gifts and it calmed some of my fear.
Avatar’s appearance was beautiful. Almost like a hard bubble filled with subtle colored light allowing starlight to pass through seemingly without distortion, it locked itself to our steady progress without the ship’s pitching or rolling. Its distance measured precisely, almost sublimely, against some mark it set for itself. I could not monitor anyone aboard for possible reaction, nor could I refer to my own or spend time analyzing; my entire focus bent toward inner silence. Avatar’s posture continued for thirteen minutes forty-three seconds and then, in a fraction of a second and without discontinuity, advanced to a position directly above the helicopter deck of the ship.
All I could do was observe.
In its beauty, billowing light within began to grow and diminish, sparking green, blue, pink, yellow, red, violet, absorbing and translating starlight into some inner language. The globe turned on an axis of energy not in the visible spectrum then halted returning to some unperceived orientation while its light flowed outward to inward only to return in a kind of Mobius strip flooding its periphery with silken color in a river from the orb’s center. After endless moments avatar’s orb began a graceful unfolding and extended flowing tendrils and waves of light toward the ship’s radio and radar antennae. Along each long low-frequency wire, avatar’s loving extensions caressed and stroked. Each line and each pole antenna received blessing strokes as the beautiful fabric of lights climbed and circled around their length. High against a star-backed sky, the twin radar dishes spun, blanketed with avatar’s glittering confetti of light in a loving dance against their turning, while avatar’s central mass rested poised in our simultaneous progression, seventy feet above the deck.
Softly avatar rested in its dance with the ship and gracefully drew into a sphere once again. Slowly changing lights within and without blinked on and off throughout the visible spectrum. Turning on its unknown and changing axis, at last avatar moved in casual regard to my presence and without ceasing its revolutions, extended a single flickering tendril toward my position near the watch station, flowing through each obstacle between us.
Avatar’s tendril advances within inches and as monitor I must look within that light for motion or contact or intent. Avatar is examining me, and that is all I know. It may destroy me, or not, but we know that contact is communication and interior to even a destructive intent, avatar reveals pieces of itself to us that can and must be transmitted to the others even as we perish and I readied myself for that possibility. I initiate contact, and something passes between us I do not attempt to quantify or qualify.
Avatar slowly withdrew its tendril of beautiful light and reassuming a perfect sphere of vagrant light, turns slowly changing its invisible axis from time to time high above the deck.
I can now sense the atlantäem moving into and watching through me the motion of avatar’s light and sphere. Entering cathexis as one we pass into inner silence in preparation. Whatever inner intentions drive avatar toward action remain unknown. If I am to be destroyed I am prepared. If I am to be spared I am also prepared. If I am to be gifted, then also am I prepared. Avatar’s motives are its own and so we wait.
Against its own rhythm, avatar, again without discontinuity, moves at the speed of thought angling upward toward the southern stars. In its absence the night has become routine darkness, just a shadow cast by the turning planet before this longitude finds its face to the sun.
With affirmation of contact I feel energy leap through me searching for vestiges of avatar’s touch. I have never been a lens before and my body’s sudden weariness sets my muscles to shaking and I return to the watch station to await assessment. Leaving the door open to allow some air flow, I slide to a sitting position against an interior wall leaning my head against a steel support. The others know I need to withdraw for some time and assent comes not from Marga but Liam. They too must have time to assess.
Slowly returning to my feet, I pull a stool from a corner and sit staring through the window into the starlit night. Breaking my reverie the watch phone sounds.
“Aft watch, Archer.”
An angry voice of someone on the bridge is sputtering incomprehensible words, but I reply professionally, “I’m sorry, I didn’t copy that. Say again.”
Another voice says, “This is Lieutenant Gamble. What the hell is going on back there?”
“Nothing at all, Mr. Gamble. Is there a problem?”
“Keranis is up here screaming about a ghost.”
“No ghosts aft, Mr. Gamble.”
Gamble is silent for a moment and then says, “Archer, see Mr. Charnov tomorrow. Out.”
Not even a chance to say ay-ay.