Unus_Mundus__Terga_Machine

That all bodily thing is subject unto
ghostly thing, and is ruled thereafter by
the course of nature and not contrariwise.[i]

MI5. The London Cage. Interrogation of Jack Vallis #3

The inquisitor, a mild looking man in his late forties with balding hair and round spectacles, ponders for a moment, rapping his fingers on a large grey file. Jack watches across the desk, his face beaten black and blue. At length, the inquisitor says:

‘Do you know why you have been brought before me?’

‘Sir, I should like to know from you.’

‘Because you’re a traitor.’

Jack sighs and his gaze drifts around the bunker – a grim concrete vault with an iron door. A bare pendent light hangs from the ceiling, circled by a fat moth that pings on the bulb.

‘I’m not a traitor. I love my country.’

‘Love your country? Liar. What do you care for political and civil security? For sovereignty and the rule of law? You broke the Official Secrets Act and exposed the state to danger.’

‘Sir, I am ignorant of these things.’

‘Your pretence at madness is folly. Do you take us for fools? You’ve been under surveillance for months. What have you got to say?’

Jack shrugs and remains silent.

‘In your basement were hundreds of thermionic valves which you had stolen from Mullards. What were you doing with those valves?’

‘I like to experiment.’

‘Experiment with what?’

‘All sorts of things. The valves I took from Mullards were of my own design.’

‘That doesn’t mean they belong to you. A good majority of those valves were top secret. So why did you steal them? What were they for?’

Jack shrugs again:

‘I could name a thousand and one things.’

‘Were you passing the valves on?’

‘No.’

‘Who did you sell them to? Name your contact.’

‘I don’t have one. At least, not in the New World.’

‘A Third World contact?’

Third World?

‘A country not aligned with NATO or the Warsaw Pact.’

‘Yes I suppose so.’

‘Well which is it?’

‘An Old World contact.’

‘Old World? What do you mean? What country? Who are you working for?’

‘I work for The Fairy Queen.’

‘Now listen here, you jumped up little queer. If you don’t give the name of your contact, we’ll make your life such hell, you’ll wish you’d never been born.’

‘Oh, I wish that quite often already.’

‘You’re beginning to try my patience. I’ll ask you one more time. Who do you work for?’

‘I’ve already told you: I work for The Fairy Queen.’

‘What’s that? A code name?’

‘Yes.’

‘For what?’

‘A Seraphim.’

‘Seraphim? Is that a military rank?’

‘Most certainly.’

‘Which military? Russian? Chinese? Korean? KPA? GDR?’

‘I couldn’t possibly tell you which military. I just know that your weapons are completely useless against them.’

‘How do you know? Have you seen these weapons?’

‘Yes, many times.’

‘Where did you see them?’

‘Mars. I saw them on Mars. They made Little Boy and Fat Man look like firecrackers.’

‘What the hell are you talking about?’

Little Boy and Fat Man. The atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The official death toll for Hiroshima was 140,000. But that only accounts for those killed by the initial blast; it does not account for the thousands of deaths that followed in the aftermath; deaths by radiation, evisceration, and starvation. The real figure is probably upward of 240,000. The bomb on Nagasaki probably killed upward of 160,000. But I find the pursuit of hard numbers in the midst of so much human suffering to be rather callous, don’t you? Did you live through the Blitz as a boy? Or were you evacuated to the country?’

‘What’s that got to do with anything?’

‘The London Blitz killed 30,000 people and lead to the firebombing of Dresden, which killed a further 25,000. Possibly many thousands more. I lived through the Liverpool Blitz, which killed about 4000 people. I saw a falling bomb destroy a home of six children, including a new born child. But none of that compares to the American incineration of Tokyo and other Japanese cities with napalm. Over 1,000 plane raids slaughtered at least 200,000 civilians.’

‘So you’re a communist sympathiser? Is that it?’

‘My sympathies are with the dead.’

‘Without the atomic bomb, Japan’s surrender would have come at an even greater cost. With a great deal more suffering and bloodshed. If the atomic bomb had not been used, there would have been years of death and destruction. On an enormous scale. The atomic bomb saved millions of lives.’

‘Saved lives? The atomic bomb is an instrument of genocide…’

‘You’re a pacifist then?’

‘—But the genocide I witnessed on Mars is far above and beyond anything you could possibly imagine. The whole planet was destroyed; and most of the atmosphere was lost to outer space. Needless to say, The Fairy Queen is not happy with the way you are running things.’

‘Clearly, you have been trained to resist interrogation. You like to make fun of us?’

‘Not at all.’

‘You’ve been without sleep for three days. You think you can last another week? Do you know what happens to the human mind when deprived of sleep? It starts dreaming, even when awake. Before long, you’ll be seeing giant spiders, crawling up the walls.’

‘But I’ve done nothing wrong.’

‘You committed high treason and betrayed your country. What did the Russians offer you in return? Money? Asylum?’

‘I’m not a traitor, I tell you. I love my country.’

‘Well your country doesn’t love you. Not your sort. People like you don’t matter.’

‘People like me?’

‘Pooftas; pansies; faeries; queers; shirt-lifters; nancy boys; flits; pillow-biters; turd burglars… Homosexuals generally end up as traitors. Their deviation from the accepted moral rules always leads to a revolt against society.’

‘I’m not homosexual.’

‘Don’t make me laugh. You’re bent as a nine bob note. ’

‘Is that why you killed Turing? Because he was bent? Or was it because he invented something of such profound importance, that you couldn’t let it fall into enemy hands?’

‘What do you know about Turing?’

‘I know about his work. And I know about Colossus.’

‘Who told you of Colossus?’

‘I saw it in a vision.’

‘You expect me to believe that?’

‘I was friends with Turing, if you must know.’

‘You knew him personally?’

‘Yes.’

‘When did you meet?’

‘Years ago. He liked to have his fortune told. He came to see me.’

‘At your home?’

‘Not at first. We met at Blackpool Pleasure beach. I had a stall there in the summer months. Gypsy Jill. Crystal Gazer; Palm Reader; Clairvoyant to the Stars. Career. Love. Happiness. Luck.

‘You didn’t foresee this though, did you Gypsy Jill?

‘No, I didn’t. But I know that your wife’s name is Rosalind. You were marred in Anglesey. And your first child died of leukaemia. His name was Patrick. I’m getting October fifth. Was that the date of his death?’

The inquisitor looks shaken, and his pen skits across the paper. When he looks up, his eyes are moist with tears:

‘Don’t you ever mention my son again! God damn you! The Russians gave you that information!’

‘No, they didn’t. I’m psychic.’

Jack holds his gaze. Then, seeing the inquisitor doesn’t want to pursue the matter, he looks away. The inquisitor composes himself, then asks politely:

‘So, you gave Turing a Tarot reading?’

‘No, I don’t use cards. I read auras.’

‘And what did you see?’

‘Many strange and wonderful things. I saw what Turing was building in his Hampton home.’

‘Oh? And what was that?’

‘An electronic brain. An electronic brain powered by valves. When I told Turing I worked for Mullards, we got talking. He asked me to help with components. So I did. I designed half the valves in that machine. Smuggling them out of Mullards was easy.’

‘So you were collecting all those valves for Turing?’

‘Yes.’

‘You just made that up. I don’t believe you.’

‘Alan was obsessed with fortune tellers. He had been for years, ever since a boy. When he was twelve, he went so see a gypsy on North Pier. She was a right Mother Shipton. She frightened Alan so much, that he was always seeking another reading. Another future. A better outcome, I suppose.’

‘Why? What did this Mother Shipton say?’

‘She called him the bringer of Death. The seed of Armageddon. And she ran screaming from her tent.’

‘Clearly the woman was insane.’

‘Maybe. But ever since that day, Alan feared his work would be used for evil.’

‘Turing told you this?’

‘Yes. We became close friends.’

‘An unlikely friendship, don’t you think? Considering he was twice your age.’

‘Oh no, it wasn’t like that. It wasn’t physical. He was my mentor. Like the father I never had.’

‘How very touching. Go on…’

‘After his conviction for gross indecency, Alan lost his security clearance. At that time you were injecting him with stilboestrol – a synthetic oestrogen which was supposed to reduce his libido. But he hated the feminisation of his body. Especially his breasts. He joked about them at first. But then he became very depressed. And he found it difficult to go about his daily life. So I helped him obtain the necessary valves for his equipment. Mostly hexodes – frequency changers, and pentodes, which he used as oscillators. Standard equipment, sent through the post. Nothing extraordinary. And certainly nothing covered by the Official Secrets Act.’

‘What about the other valves? The magnetrons. Did you send them to anyone?’

‘No. Absolutely not. They were for my own device. TERGA.

TERGA?

‘It’s an acronym for Telergic Amplifier.

‘And what is that, in layman’s terms?’

‘A spirit box.’

‘Spirit box? You’ll have to do better than that.’

TERGA represents my whole life’s work. Telergy is the force at work in telepathy. I based my appliance on Turing’s Delilah – a speech enciphering machine for the telephone system. Except I improved and modified the design.’

‘To do what exactly?’

‘Communicate with the dead.’

‘What a foolish idea. I find it far wiser to deal with the living. Spirit box, indeed.

‘A layman might call TERGA a spirit box. But it’s so much more than that.’

‘You expect me to believe all that hocus pocus?’

‘Talking to the dead is not so far fetched, especially when you realise that consciousness is the fundamental datum of the Universe.’

‘And how does this machine operate exactly?’

TERGA sounds complex, but it’s quite basic really. It works on the principle of resonant amplification. Except it amplifies thought. Interdimensional consciousness. One might say that TERGA is a gateway to other worlds.’

‘That sounds perfectly insane, Jack Vallis.’

‘Only because your faith consists of an absolute disbelief in everything but Atheism.’

‘Wait a moment. Are you telling me, that you engineered a spirit box out of thermionic valves?’

‘Yes. Isn’t it wonderful? Will you kill me, like you killed Alan?’

‘Alan Turing committed suicide.’

‘By cyanide poisoning? Don’t make me laugh. You bumped him off.’

‘Why would we do that?’

‘Because he knew too much. Because of his electronic brain.’

‘It wasn’t a brain. It was a logic machine.’

‘A very fine logic machine, which could play chess. Strategic forecasting has thousands of uses; in both the military and financial sectors. You feared the communists would entrap Turing as a spy. Poor Alan. I warned him not to eat apples.’

‘Apples?’

‘Like Eve, he partook of the forbidden fruit. A half eaten apple was found beside his corpse. An apple laced with cyanide.’

‘Who gave you that information?’

‘Alan did. Through TERGA.

‘Tell us who you work for.’

‘I’ve already told you. I work for The Faery Queen.’

‘Who is she?’

‘She is who she is.’

‘Don’t give me that. What’s her real name?’

‘She has many names.’

‘What’s her nationality?’

‘I couldn’t possibly tell you.’

‘What are you? An anarchist?’

‘Pardon?’

‘What’s your political affiliation? Nationalist? Socialist?’

‘I don’t believe in that sort of thing.’

‘What do you believe in? Class war? Marxism?’

‘Oh I’m not a political animal. Not at all.’

‘Don’t you have a cause?’

‘Cause?’

‘Everyone believes in something.’

‘I don’t even vote.’

‘You don’t believe in democracy?’

‘No. I think if democracy could change anything, it wouldn’t be allowed. This country is run by the civil service. Always has been. Always will. The Vote is just a front to give people an illusion of choice. Conservative or Labour. It’s just a Punch and Judy show. But the deep state is the puppeteer. Sorry, is that heretical?’

‘Yes, very. And typical of an anarchist.’

‘For every bomb manufactured by an anarchist, millions more are manufactured by governments; and for every man killed by an anarchist, millions more are killed by democracies.’

‘You’re a subversive.’

‘Far from it. Why do you regard me as such a threat?

‘Because you’re an unknown quantity.’

‘You think I will blow you up, just because I don’t agree with your view of the world?’

‘Anarchists and terrorists generally do that.’

‘I’m not an anarchist, terrorist, subversive, or anything else. I’m not even familiar with explosives.’

‘I once knew a subversive like you. A queer spy who pretended madness. Gross indecency is a criminal offence in Britain. But he wore his homosexuality like a badge of honour. He was one of those annoying people who qualify everything they say by their sexuality. He used to say things like: “As a homosexual who cycles to work, I find the roads crammed with buses intent on mowing me down.” He thought queers should be given cycle lanes. Queer lanes and Straight lanes. Can you imagine the disruption to society? Not to mention the transport system. Well I don’t pay my taxes so queers can ride bicycles.’

‘Are you winding me up?’

‘Are you winding me up? Faery Queen?

‘No. Anyway, what was his crime? Apart from being queer?’

‘He breached the Official Secrets Act. Like you. And he tried to blow up Parliament.’

‘A Guido Fawkes, no less.’

‘Fawkes concealed his gunpowder in a mildewed cellar; he was protesting against the persecution of the Catholics, and a House of Commons infested with Puritanism. Some might think that a noble cause. But what mad cause possessed our queer spy to conceal explosives in his own stomach, remains a complete mystery.’

‘His stomach?’

‘He thought it was his divine right to blow the world to Kingdom Come. Except, like you, he knew nothing about explosives. He was a very incompetent queer indeed. Probably the most incompetent queer in England. His incompetent tomfoolery cost him his life. He died an utter failure, an incompetent, pretentious, useless little queer. Although, I must admit, on the face of it, his plan was most ingenious.’

‘What did he do?’

‘He procured some powdered sulphur and potassium chlorate, and placing each in a separate wafer, he swallowed them with water.* He then caught a bus to Westminster. He fully expected that as soon as the two chemicals came into contact, he would burst like a bomb. Instead the most violent pains ensued, which finally became so great that he begged for death. Not even the stomach-pump could save his life. It took him three days to die. Three days of untold agony… Not with a bang but a whimper. Perhaps you have some chemicals tucked away inside your bathroom cabinet? Perhaps you have swallowed them already? If not, we could always persuade you. Delivery of said chemicals is quite straight forward with a feeding tube. The human stomach is threaded with nerves from multiple sources: the sympathetic supply is mainly from the coeliac plexus; but the parasympathetic supply is derived from the vagus – the biggest and most extensive nerve in the human body. The pain is excruciating and beyond description. An unendurable burning sensation like liquid fire. The reaction continues unabated, eating away the gut, until the heart gives out.’

‘I’m flattered that you would go to so much trouble.’

‘On the other hand, we could always throw you from a train. Suicide is very common amongst untreated transsexuals. Our doctor has a cocktail of drugs that can swiftly induce psychosis. By the time you leave here, you’ll be so out your head, that you won’t even know who you are…’

‘How very uncivilized.’

The inquisitor smiles and produces a packet of cigarettes:

‘Would you like a smoke?’

‘No thank you. Nicotine is one of the deadliest poisons known to man. A pinhead drop would kill you outright if injected into the blood stream.’

The inquisitor strikes a match, then says:

‘I’ll take my chances.’

He draws deeply on the cigarette then exhales a plume that wafts around the desk like early morning mist.

‘And what about you Jack? Are you a risk taker?’

‘I’ve never really thought about it.’

‘Stealing valves from Mullards was a risky business.’

‘Not really. The daily turnover at Mullards was into the high thousands. And the packing room was never guarded.’

‘Tell me about your philosophy.’

‘If I don’t matter, then why should my philosophy?’

‘It says here that you were brought up Catholic.’

‘Yes, but Mother Church is a whore.’

‘I’ll put you down as atheist then.’

‘Don’t put me down as anything.’

‘Too late. I’ve put you down as atheist.’

‘How can a Spiritualist be atheist?’

‘Spiritualist? That’s a joke isn’t it? We know all about your so called miracles. There are no records of any cures. Quite the opposite in fact.’

‘The doctors buried the evidence. I healed all sorts of incurable diseases.’

‘You’re charged with medical fraud. You made a concerted and deliberate attempt to fleece vulnerable people out of their life savings.’

‘That’s a lie! I never took a penny! The Light Stream is a spiritual force. You cannot charge money for it.’

‘So you believe in god then? In magic?’

‘Of course.’

‘Personally speaking, I find Theology to be a very primitive philosophy. I mean, take the resurrection of Christ. His immortal and incorruptible body. That’s a fairy tale, isn’t it? In my line of work, you soon come to realise that no one rises from the dead.’

‘I fear you are gravely mistaken.’

‘So you believe in the Resurrection?’

‘Christ alone. Not Buddha, nor Zoroaster, nor Pythagoras, nor Osiris, nor Dionysus, nor Odin, nor Atys. But Christ alone.’

‘How do you know? Were you at His Crucifixion? Did you see Him die? Where you jeering in the crowd? Did you hear Him cry out when He gave up the ghost? Did you put Him in the tomb? Did you see Him rise? Did you roll back the stone? Did you meet him again on the third day?’

‘I’m very thirsty. Can I have some water?’

The inquisitor smiles then says:

‘A Christian soldier. Is that how you see yourself? Is yours a holy fight? Have you come to bring about Apocalypse and lead us all to Hell? Ye shall not be unpunished: for I will call for a sword upon all the inhabitants of the earth, saith the Lord of hosts.[ii] Are you a warrior of god? Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.[iii]’

‘I’m not a religious zealot. Nor a radical of any kind.’

‘But you knew that the magnetron tubes you designed were being used in a missile defence system.’

‘I suspected as much. The magnetron valve is the heart of any radar transmitter. And the cavity blocks which surround the valve are manufactured under conditions of great secrecy.’

‘I don’t know much about electronics myself. It might as well be magic. What is a magnetron, exactly? Can you tell me?’

‘The cavity magnetron is a high-powered vacuum tube that generates microwaves using the interaction of a stream of electrons with a magnetic field. My ‘resonant’ cavity magnetron was a variant of an earlier magnetron tube invented by John Randall and Harry Boot in 1940 at the University of Birmingham. I believe they were working under Admiralty direction.’[iv]

‘And despite signing the Official Secrets Act, you smuggled magnetrons out of Mullards.’

‘Yes, but you must believe me, they were purely for my own inventions.’

‘A spirit box?’

‘Yes. But I wish you wouldn’t call it that. It’s proper name is TERGA.

‘Your spirit box sounds like something out of Amazing Stories.’

‘It does rather, doesn’t it.’

‘Tell me more about TERGA. Where is the machine now? Did you destroy it?’

‘No. I gave it to a friend for safe keeping.’

You gave it to a friend. And is this friend aware that TERGA contains a top secret magnetron belonging to The Ministry of Defence?’

‘No.’

‘Who is this friend? Give me their name.’

‘I don’t know their name.’

‘A friend with no name? Oh come now.’

‘I used to attend a Spiritualist church. That’s where I first demonstrated TERGA. But only to a select few, you understand. Shortly before my arrest for medical fraud, I was contacted by an anonymous correspondent, who promised to look after TERGA in my absence.’

‘So you left the sum total of your life’s work with a total stranger?’

‘Not entirely. I knew of his affiliation. And that was enough for me.’

‘So who was he?’

‘A high official of the Masonic order. He arrived at my house in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith and took TERGA away.’

‘So TERGA is a portable device.’

‘Cumbersome. But portable.’

‘To which Grand Lodge is this mason affiliated?’

‘I’m not saying any more. TERGA is too dangerous.’

‘Do you want another beating?’

‘No. Please don’t do that.’

‘Then you will answer my questions. Which lodge?’

‘You don’t understand. If TERGA fell into the wrong hands, anything could happen.’

‘Why? What makes it so dangerous?’

‘Well, like I said, TERGA is a gateway. And some doors you shouldn’t open.’

‘What kind of doors? Speak.’

‘Spiritual doors. What else? TERGA allows interaction with the primal conscious force of Creation; it is a force without form – a state of infinite being, which exists outside the dimension of Time and beyond any location in Space. It is a realm beyond the material Universe in which we experience physical existence. Theoretically, TERGA allows the unlimited expansion of human consciousness until it reaches the sphere of Absolute Being.’

‘My god. You actually believe in all that stuff don’t you?’

‘In a primal conscious force? The Unus Mundus? Absolutely.’

‘You’re being quite serious.’

‘Deadly serious.’

‘You’re telling the truth?’

‘The truth and nothing but the truth.’

‘And you use TERGA to speak to the dead?’

‘As far as TERGA is concerned, death does not exist. Death is just the continuation of consciousness from one state to another.’

‘So TERGA is a sort of electronic Ouija board?’

‘It is quite impossible to explain what TERGA is without an understanding of the holographic nature of reality. Contrary to what everyone thinks, the brain does not produce consciousness, but rather receives and attenuates conscious data – much like a radio set receives electromagnetic signals. In the right hands, TERGA opens doors to hidden realms – dimensions that exist all around us, but which our paltry senses cannot perceive. As a clairvoyant, I always knew the world of Spirit was an incontestable reality. But it was only after experimenting with electromagnetic resonance that I unlocked the secrets of the Ether.’

The inquisitor nibbles on a finger nail then says:

‘Tell me, is TERGA a complicated machine?’

‘On the contrary, it is deceptively simple. Apart from the magnetron and its crystal oscillator, the entire device can be made from standard components found in most television receivers.’

TERGA has a screen?’

‘The cathode ray tube serves as a looking glass into Spirit. The phosphor trace is indeed most ghostly. Using TERGA, the human mind can enter the forbidden realm of the Jinn – creatures that exist beyond the barriers of Time and Space.’

‘Do you really expect me to believe all that clap trap?’

‘Believe what you like. It makes no odds to me.’

The realm of the Jinn? Where did you get that? Scheherazade? Tales from The Arabian Nights?’

‘The fundamental character of the physical world is not matter, but energy. People assume matter to be a solid substance, and energy to be a force. But the atom itself is made up of nothing but oscillating energy patterns. Solid matter, in the strictest sense of the word, simply doesn’t exist. A molecule of water vibrates at around 109 Hz. A human nerve cell oscillates at around 104 Hz. The human being at its most basic level is just an energy system. The energy of the Universe stores and retrieves meaning by contacting and expanding at specific frequencies. In a three dimensional world, these energy patterns create holograms. Our entire reality is a hologram. In many ways, this world is just an illusion. And as for the Jinn, I can assure you, they are very, very real.’

The inquisitor rises from his chair and ponders for a moment, pacing back and forth, casting icy glares through his thick spectacles. Then, slowly and very modestly, he sits back down and calmly picks up his pen:

‘Assuming you’re not completely mad, how is this machine of yours powered, exactly?’

TERGA uses a standard domestic supply. The power required to open an interdimensional portal is surprisingly small; and once the correct resonant frequency is established, the gateway becomes self-sustaining, so the power can be switched off indefinitely. TERGA draws no more current than thirteen amps; although the plasma capacitor stores several million volts – a requirement for ectoplasmic manifestation.’

The inquisitor slides a sheet of paper across the desk and offers Jack a pencil:

‘Would you be willing to draw a circuit diagram for TERGA?

‘No. As I said, TERGA is not for the uninitiated. And to release the schematic would incur the wrath of The Faery Queen. Her punishments are grave indeed. Their severity exceeds anything in your darkest nightmares.’

The inquisitor explodes and slams his fist on the desk:

‘Do you know what I think Jack Vallis? I think you’re the bloody Faery Queen!’

Jack flinches, then quips:

Me? The Faery Queen? Thank you darling. I’ll take that as a compliment.’

The inquisitor glowers, gathering his thoughts, weighing up his options. Then he draws a deep breath and says:

‘On the desk before me are two files. Both are marked Jack Vallis. And both share the same National Security Number. But there the similarity ends. One file describes your life as it is now – including your electronics degree at Liverpool University and your employment at Mullards. The other describes another life altogether; the degenerate life of a Borstal boy who never amounted to anything. They say the future always follows from the past. Which future do you want? You have two choices. You can work for us, and continue your research into TERGA – or you can disappear down the plughole of human degenerates. Which shall it be?’

‘I’ll take the plughole of degenerates. Then at least I can have the satisfaction of knowing that you threw the baby out with the bathwater.’

‘That’s a very foolish decision Jack Vallis.’

‘Working for you, I’d probably end up dead anyway. What happens now? Will you force feed me the sulphur and potassium chlorate? If it’s all the same to you, I’d prefer a bullet to the head.’

‘I admire your courage, but there’s no need to bloody my hands with you. You’re obviously certifiable. And in a mental asylum, you’d be legally dead anyway. The insane have less rights than the most political prisoners. Not only will you suffer the curtailment of your liberty, but you shall endure complete dehumanisation; not least, the irrevocable erosion of your faculties by ECT. No doubt the doctors will be very interested to hear of your infantile fantasies about The Faery Queen.’

‘There are more things in heaven and earth…’

‘Quite possibly. Either way, we’ll find TERGA, with or without you. We have a list of all your contacts, so it is simply a matter of time.’

‘All my contacts, except Alan Turing. Clearly your intel is up the spout. Good luck with the Brotherhood.’

‘The world is full of masonic ties, of guilds, and secret legions of honour. If you believe the fraternity of Freemasons is safe from The Hidden Hand of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, then you’re even more of a fool than I thought.’

‘They won’t give you TERGA. Not ever.’

‘When our troops dissolved Auschwitz at the end of the war, they made many horrific discoveries. High amongst the depraved evils of the Nazis, were the diabolical files of doctor Josef Mengele. Whilst experimenting on the Jews, he conducted extensive research into the effects of certain drugs on cerebral tissues. After leaving the interrogation room, you will be taken back to your cell. Whereupon you will receive a visit from our doctor. The doctor will administer three injections. The first will induce a state of complete dysphoria. The second, a state of acute paranoia. The third injection will incur both short and long term memory loss. You won’t remember me. You won’t remember this place. You won’t even remember your own name. Within six hours, you will exhibit all the classic signs of paranoid schizophrenia. But by then, you’ll be on the northbound train to Liverpool with a warrant out for your arrest. Enjoy your trip down the plughole…’

Rising from the desk, the Inquisitor takes both files and walks toward the door.

‘Wait!’ cries Jack. ‘I’ve got a message for you. From your son Patrick. He says he loves you very much. And he still plays with the wooden racing car you made for his tenth birthday.’

At this, the inquisitor turns deathly pale. Trembling, he pulls off his glasses and mutters:

‘How in god’s name did you know that?’

‘You needn’t greave Patrick any more. He’s very happy in Heaven.’

The inquisitor stands dumbfounded, clasping the edge of the door, trying to find the right words. At length he bows his head and whispers:

Forgive me. But you leave me no choice – you were too close with Turing.

Ashamed, he slips away, locking the door behind him.

Copyright © Nicholas Shea 1992-2021. All rights reserved.

i. The Cloud of Unknowing. (The One and Sixteenth Chapter, p.269).

*. Anomalous suicides, ‘Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine’ by George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle.

ii. The Book of Jeremiah 25:29.

iii. Matthew 10:34.

iv. Information provided by Alan Hartley-Smith. https://marconiradarhistory.pbworks.com/w/page/30097439/The Magnetron

Image: TERGA Copyright © Nicholas Shea 1992-2021. All rights reserved. (montage public domain sources).