Along with the consciousness of the cosmos there occurs an intellectual enlightenment or illumination which alone would place the individual on a new plane of existence—would make him almost a member of a new species.[i]
Sunhill Asylum, December 25, 1959. 3:30 p.m.
After winding down a long corridor, Jack led Blyth and Sims into the morgue. Proceeding directly to the refrigeration units, Jack opened a large steel door that concealed a service elevator. Entering, the three men descended into the basement. Sims stood stupefied as the doors slid open. Before him was a futuristic laboratory illumed by red light. He had the uncanny sense that he had seen it in a dream: a vast underground complex of vaulted bays, that stretched away like a wilderness of mirrors. He reeled for a moment, unsteady on his feet, his perceptions confounded by a labyrinth of pillared arches. Built of brick, the subterranean edifice had the semblance of an Escher lithograph – a realm of paradox, where space itself was inverted.
Sims stepped from the elevator and peered down the aisle. The place was deserted, but no less unnerving. Specimen jars lined the far wall, with deep dissections of the human head: a median section of the cortex, showing the brain stem, midbrain, pons and cerebellum; the cranial nerves, exposed posteriorly, displaying the vagus nerves, spinal ganglions, dorsal ramus and spinal root; the middle cranial fossa, showing the tentorium cerebelli, cut away to reveal the courses of the trochlear and trigeminal nerves; a coronal section of the brain, showing a full frontal lobotomy, and the severed fibres between the pre-frontal cortex and the anterior frontal lobes… Sims shuddered at these materialist explorations of consciousness. Was he nothing more than a lump of meat? A deterministic creature, ruled by sensuous impulses and unconscious biological predicates? Everywhere he looked were signs of vivisection: surgical trolleys with cranial clamps, leather restraints, braces and calipers. In the chambers beyond he saw iron-lungs, incubators, aspirators, cardiographs, resuscitators, and X-ray machines. But what really got his attention was a colossal mainframe with flashing lights that droned in the gloom. He should have been astounded by this electronic mastermind. But he felt strangely unmoved and dissociated. He flinched as the teleplotter burst into life, rattling out a line of text that seemed to mock his empirical career. There were realms unintelligible. Things beyond the algebra of quantities; beyond the theory of limits, derivatives and differentials. How could he remain constant in such a world? He was no longer a man of self-subsistent intelligence; he was not self-governed, self-controlled, self-regulated or self-directed. His entire life was subject to a will beyond his own. The will of the Sidhe. Anxious, he stood apart from himself and feigned his enthusiasm:
‘Wow! What I wouldn’t give for a computer like that at Leconfield House. That’s an IBM, isn’t it?’
‘Correct,’ replied Jack. ‘The IBM 7090. The first fully transistorized mainframe. It can perform 229,000 calculations per second. If I’m not mistaken, the U.S. Air Force uses them run its Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. This particular device uses the IBM 305 Random Access Method of Accounting and Control. A disk storage system. In less than a second, the RAMAC’s “random access” arm can retrieve data stored on any of 50 spinning disks.’
This was a new Jack they were seeing. Not the lunatic who talked to crows, but Jack the engineer, knowledgable, articulate and charming. Dressed in white lab coat, he looked quite at home in this ward of Death, with its surgical terrors, flashing lights and whirring tapes.
‘What is this place?’ asked Blyth, astonished.
‘This is Operation Cyclops,’ replied Jack. ‘A top secret CIA funded program to explore the frontiers of human consciousness. It sounds very grand and altruistic. But the real aim is to develop psychic spies. Except the word “psychic” is never allowed. Principally because it is associated with madcap gypsies who read crystal balls, tarot cards and tea-leaves. The CIA prefers the term “remote viewer” instead. Atheists don’t like dealing in the occult; it’s far too vague and nebulous. Everything must be nailed down in scientific terms. They see through a glass darkly. Such are their materialist preconceptions. They use pseudo-physics to interpret the spiritual world. Instead of saying “intuitive” they resort to long-winded quantum mechanical theories that attempt to explain the nature of consciousness and how it interfaces with the space-time continuum. As for those computers, they’re very primitive devices indeed. I can give the value of PI correct to 500,000 decimal places just off the top of my head.’
‘We don’t have time for that now,’ grins Blyth. ‘We came here to build TERGA, remember?’
‘Of course – this way gentlemen…’
Jacks leads them down the aisle where six aluminium vats bubble in the gloom. Each tank is fed by an umbilicus of wires, which snake along the floor to the mainframe.
‘It looks like a brewery,’ joked Sims.
‘Don’t jest,’ shuddered Blyth. ‘It looks very sinister to me.’
‘They’re floatation tanks,’ replied Jack grimly. ‘That’s where I do my work.’
‘Are you given any choice in all this?’ asked Blyth. ‘The frontiers of human consciousness? It’s bloody inhuman, locking you in that thing.’ He glances above where a supended rail runs along the ceiling with a harness and hoist. ‘This place is no better than an abattoir. They treat men like racks of beef. How convenient that the lift goes straight to the morgue. These people should be stopped.’
‘Stopped?’ balked Jack. ‘Forget it. You’re out of your depth. You have absolutely no idea what “these people” are capable of. Human Potential Unlimited isn’t concerned with advancing humankind. On the contrary. All they care about is power. They want to exploit Psi for their own ends. In particular, the development of psychotronic weapons.’
‘Psychotronic?’ asked Sims.
‘Essentially it’s a form of micro-telekinesis that targets electronic circuits. Imagine being able to diffuse a bomb or destroy a computer with the power of your mind.’
‘The implications are terrifying,’ said Blyth, dipping his head in thought. ‘Can you do that Jack?’
‘Of course. But don’t try saving me from “these people”. They’ve got covert operations all over the globe. In every asylum, hospital, orphanage and dentist. They’re responsible for the most heinous crimes against humanity – crimes that make Joseph Mengele look like an angel of mercy. Think of all the doctors in their employ – men who experiment on people like me – thousands of human guinea pigs in asylums throughout America and Europe. Even a fine spook like you, playing outside the law, hasn’t got a hope in hell of bringing them down.’
Sims peered into the tank, his reflection lurching in a pool of dark liquid that slurped against the walls:
‘It looks very claustrophobic. I can’t imagine being locked in there all day. How do you manage it?’
‘I feel quite liberated when submerged. Consciousness is a free agent. Mummy Selena sends me everywhere. I’ve been to some very exotic places.’
‘Clairvoyance?’ asked Blyth.
Jack laughed at the naïvety of his question:
‘Of course it’s clairvoyance! Although clairvoyance is sometimes confused with telepathy – especially when there is a strong sympathy between the person seeing and the person being seen. Clairvoyance, yes, certainly. But not in the traditional sense. It is the result of a long series of logical processes. Think of it as a conscious calculation. Although even that explanation is rather misleading, because it’s subconscious cognition that’s required. That, and the gateway action of a psychoactive agent.’
‘Cyclops?’ asked Sims. ‘How does it work?’
‘To be honest, I’m not entirely sure. I try not to think about it. I just do it. According to Mummy Selena, Cyclops acts on the pineal; it turns the brain into a coherent oscillator that resonates in harmony with the electrostatic field of the Earth. The mind becomes entrained with the pulse of the planet. Consciousness is a continuum, homogenous with the cosmos. Once you accept this, it is a simple matter of attuning yourself. You see, the human brain – indeed the whole human body – is an energy system. Consciousness creates, stores, and retrieves meaning by holographic thought transmission. The entire universe is a hologram: a recording of all that ever was and all that ever shall be. Absolute consciousness is the fundamental datum of existence; a primal power which transcends infinity itself; it has no beginning nor end, and exists in a state of limitless being. Between our world and the Absolute, there are various intervening spheres. I like to think of them as bubbles – dimensions which altered states of consciousness can access. Within the tank, I can focus my mind anywhere in Time and Space. Cyclops is the all seeing eye of God…’
‘You observe the past, as well as the future?’ asked Blyth.
‘Past, present and future are human constructs. All temporalities exist simultaneously. But our filtered experience of reality necessitates a linear sequence to comprehend the deterministic concept of cause and effect. Time is a chronological illusion. Our subjective consciousness is a complementary manifestation of quantum non-locality, which manifests the principle of free-will in generating individual history.’
Sims scratched at his temple, his forehead crumpled, as he worked it all out:
‘Time is an illusion?’ he puzzled. ‘Does that not invalidate Einstein’s Theory of Relativity?’
‘Not at all,’ replied Jack. ‘Because the communication of sub-atomic particles takes place outside the dimension of spacetime to which Relativity is confined. What we think of as history remains an interactive process within the quantum realm. Jungian synchronicity isn’t far off the mark. Our subjective existential condition forms an essential and complementary aspect to our material reality; the sentient brain is an interface between the cosmic hologram and our experience of spacetime. Without the collective unconscious, this physical world wouldn’t exist at all. We are born of the Dreamtime. That’s one thing I learnt using Cyclops. The human brain is a quantum computer of godlike power.’
‘Operation Cyclops sounds much like TERGA,’ remarked Blyth.
‘There are indeed many similarities,’ admitted Jack. ‘But there’s one crucial difference. Whilst Cyclops facilitates the expansion of consciousness, TERGA amplifies and brings it into sharp focus. With Cyclops, the mind can go anywhere whilst out of the body. But with TERGA, the actual physical body is transported across an interdimensional portal. I know what you’re thinking. It sounds impossible. But you’ll find out for yourself, soon enough.’
‘And you can solve the paradox, by taking us back to the Old World?’ asked Sims.
‘The Old World runs parallel to this; it’s another dimension, with another you and another me. It’s not so much the past, as a parallel existence.’
Blyth dips his hand into the tank and sniffs a black amniotic fluid that sticks to his fingers like molasses.
‘What is this stuff? It feels like oil, but smells like perfume. Sandalwood, if I’m not mistaken.’
‘I find the smell quite intoxicating,’ mused Jack, wistfully. ‘It reminds me of Mummy Selena. She has such a beautiful body… She has taken me to so many wonderful places… Realms beyond your wildest dreams… I can be anything in the tank. Anything at all. She can turn me into a frog, or even a princess.’
Blyth didn’t rise to that. ‘Where did you go last?’ he asked, wiping his hand on a hanky.
‘My main area of study is Semipalatinsk. A region in the Soviet Socialist Republic of Kazakh.’
Blyth was familiar with the intel from Semipalatinsk; his files at MI6 were full of it. But what had Jack gleaned inside the tank? He was curious to know.
‘Can you tell us what happens at Semipalatinsk?’
‘I’m not sure if I should,’ replied Jack, timidly. ‘I’ve signed the Official Secrets Act.’
‘But so have we,’ pushed Blyth. ‘We’re on the same side, remember? I’d like to know if MI6 got it right. If our intel matches yours. Why give everything to the CIA? The Americans have signed the UKUSA Agreement. The CIA is supposed to share intelligence, not use our hospitals to research their own secret programs. The frontiers of human consciousness? MI6 exists to protect the Sovereign and defend our shores. To do that, we intercept thousands of communications every year. We are building an important picture of Soviet military capability: mobilisation plans; technical capacity of the armed forces, and the industry which supports them. All imports into Russia are closely monitored by our agents, including cost, number of boxes, weight, invoice numbers, and final destination. In 1948 I was in Czechoslovakia, monitoring the dispatch of goods from the Tesla firm; everything from galvanometers and radio valves, to cathode ray tubes and ionization chambers. All invoices of copper wire were relayed back to London; they were particularly interested in gauge and length. These are clues to the final component; transmission coils; solenoids; power transformers; dynamos; motors, you name it… We took even the smallest order very seriously. Nothing was too trivial to be ignored or overlooked. Both goods in and out. Inventory of leather cases; rubber tyres; fuses; shellac, solder, iodine, soap and toilet paper… Most of the information we gathered was useless. But you’re always on the lookout for something strange and eclectic. A signal in the noise. In March of that year, London came across an order from the Chief Directorate of Control of Entertainments in Moscow. It gave strict instructions to forbid the performance of the following folk songs: “Why do you destroy me, you foolish woman”, “Golden Hills”, “The Moon Has Turned Red”, “Along the Old Kulga Road”, “The Love of Stepan Razin”, “My Mother Once Sent Me To Gather White Mushrooms”, “The Stone Mason and The Midges”… You might be wondering why I’m telling you all this. Because I suspected the songs were keys to a cipher. One thing I learnt early is that the Russian Ministry for State Security are consumate mischief-makers. They love hiding things in plain sight. As it turned out, I was wrong. The songs were popular with the proletariat and peasantry before the revolution. Stepan Razin was a Cossack bandit who operated on the Volga river. Most of his victims belonged to the well-to-do merchant classes. Streets in several towns, including Moscow, are named after him. My keys were useless. Bletchley Park spent a good deal of time and resources chasing up a false lead. After that, I was demoted and told to concentrate my efforts on industrial items only. Fortunately, I had the good sense to ignore the order. Months later, I came across an invoice that referred to tackle for “cigars”. I later learned that “cigars” was Russian slang for torpedoes… So, if you have any information pertaining to the safety of the Realm, I strongly advise you to share it now. Tell me, what happens at Semipalatinsk?’
Jack hesitated, surly and insulted. ‘You want to test me? You don’t believe in my bodiless state? You doubt the power of Cyclops?’
‘Why should I? I have already given proof of Life after Death. That we exist after dissolution of the body. Q.E.D. Your message from Yelena. Does that count for nothing? And what of Sims and the Sidhe? He knows I speak the truth. I saw him on Wolf Fell, when out of the body. Despite your unwordly encounter, you’re in denial, the pair of you…’
‘I don’t doubt your psychic talent,’ admitted Blyth. ‘But to leave your body and travel half-way round the globe, that’s quite another thing. Tell me about Semipalatinsk.’
‘I can’t tell you.’
‘You must. If you want to build TERGA and return to The Old World, we’re your only hope. Sims has the magnetron tube, remember? Without it, TERGA is useless…’
Jack pondered for a moment, his fingers rapping on the tank. He knew that Blyth had him over a barrel. Without the magnetron, they’d be stuck in Limbo forever. Blyth and Sims remained unconvinced. They needed more evidence. If they were to enter the portal, Jack would have to reveal everything. At length he said:
‘Very well, I’ll tell you what I know… The Soviets have constructed an Experimental Proving Ground in the Kazakh steppes. A nuclear test site, known as “Polygon No. 2”.’
‘Is that true, sir?’ asked Sims.
Blyth looked more than a little concerned as Jack continued:
‘…It’s a sprawling site covering some 6000 square miles. No doubt the location was determined by the proximity of the South Urals military-industrial complex, with a well developed transportation infrastructure, including a railroad and the Irtish river navigation.’
‘And you view all this remotely?’ asked Sims. ‘From inside a floatation tank?’
‘Only my physical body is in the tank, you understand? But what defines me – my consciousness – is somewhere else entirely. The out-of-body state occurs when the brain enters a hypnagogic state comparable to REM sleep. The mainframe supplies a resonant binaural auditory feedback loop of 7 Hz. This invokes a synchronic pulse between the hemispheres. At which point lucid visions are induced. But sometimes it’s hard to know what you’re looking at. Visions can be vague and indistinct. Mummy Selena hates “inconclusive evidence”. A vision must be sharp and clear. And for that to happen, consciousness must be detached from the physical in a large measure. During the initial trails, I repeatedly observed an iron tower beside a concrete building. At first, I thought it was the headgear for a mine shaft. Or water tower. But then I saw the flash… Suddenly, far-off on the steppe, a shining white-fireball grew on the horizon. It turned yellow-orange, then bright red, flattening at the bottom. Between the rippling clouds, the stalk of a thermonuclear mushroom began to form. The shock-wave sped across the plains, flattening the forests, uprooting trees and snapping them like matchsticks. There came a terrible ungodly howling, as if all the demons of Hell had been unchained from the pit. The blast went right through me. What followed is hard to explain. I always believed my astral body was indestructible. But I felt a total dispersal of soul, as if its essence had been annihilated. My perceptions were shattered. It seemed that consciousness itself was obliterated. I had fallen into a subatomic realm, where all was void and indistinct. It took a titanic effort to gather my wits. To remember who I was, what I was, where I was from; that I was not there, but somewhere else. But I couldn’t recall where that “somewhere” was. My entire existence had the dim semblance of a dream; as if my consciousness had been shrunk to that of a beetle who dwells in a murky pond. But gradually, my human awareness returned, and I found myself prostrate on the steppe, my mouth full of dust. I groped about, trying to get my bearings. The earth was swept clean, scoured and blown away. The intense heat had fused the soil into glassy puddles. Then I found the bunker. Built like a pillbox, it had narrow lancets and fortified walls. But I penetrated them with ease. Inside was an observation facility, full of instruments and men in black goggles. I gleaned significant information there.’
‘Such as?’ queried Blyth.
‘Bomb yield; elevation; meteorological data; external radiation dose…That sort of thing. Each man was equipped with a dosimeter: a simple device with a thimble ionization chamber and photographic film. Photometric indication of radiation exposure is crude but effective. Such instrumentation was needed to estimate the destructive effects of the nuclear blast, and to enforce future safety measures. Their main concern was civil defence and troop protection in the event of a full scale nuclear attack.’
‘How many detonations have you witnessed?’ asked Sims.
‘Hard to say, exactly. When submerged in the tank, I remain entranced in a deep hypnotic state. Although, more accurately, it is a transcendental state. During submersion, I relay all experiences to Mummy Selena. But she often “clears” me before surfacing. A security measure. I should mention that the Soviet tests dwarf TRINITY in terms of their sophistication and scale. The mushroom clouds are bigger – much bigger; they tower into the upper atmosphere for miles, menacing, dark and terrible… I must have observed every single test at Semipalatinsk, going back as far as 1949. I can’t remember them all. But one remains foremost in my mind. On 12 August 1953, I witnessed the first Soviet hydrogen bomb, the RDS-6s. Andrei Sakharov called it “sloika”, or “layered cake”, named after a type of puff pastry, because it used a layer-cake design of fission and fusion fuels (uranium 235 and lithium-6 deuteride). He came up with the idea of adding a shell of natural, unenriched uranium around the deuterium. This increased deuterium concentration at the uranium boundary, which multiplied the overall yield of the device. The natural uranium captured neutrons and then fissioned as part of the thermonuclear reaction. Sakharov knew the yield would be bigger, but couldn’t estimate by how much. As a precaution, the authorities decided to remove the entire population from the fallout zone. This was based on the forecast of NE-SW wind, with a velocity of 40-50 kilometres per hour. The population deemed at risk was relocated to the village of Karaul, 200 kilometres from the test site. However, Sloika was far more powerful than expected. A 470 kiloton yield device, detonated at an elevation of 100 meters. The blast was ten times greater than any previous Soviet test. And the wind velocity turned out to be twice as high. Even worse, the direction changed as the radioactive cloud moved. As a consequence, evacuees found themselves under the cloud some three hours after detonation. Nor was evacuation complete, for large groups of people stayed behind. Needless to say, their ionizing radiation dose was fatal. I wandered around Karaul for hours, as a sticky grey ash fell on the land. When dusk fell, all the houses and crops were covered. It was an apocalyptic sight, with wailing children and whimpering dogs. Unaware of the danger, people went about comforting their livestock, wheezing and coughing. Everyone was bleeding from the eyes, nose and ears. I knew the entire village was doomed… Years after, survivors are still consuming contaminated food and drink. I will spare you the grisly details of what radionuclides do to living tissue: the ravaging cancers of the thyroid, gastrointestinal tract, skin and skeleton. The whole body comes apart. The flesh literally falls from the bones. If you’re lucky, you get shot in the head. If you’re unlucky, you get an aspirin.’
‘And what are the Russians working on now?’ asked Blyth. ‘Do you know?’
‘I can give detailed plans, right down to the trigger mechanisms… Do you believe me now?’
‘I believe you,’ muttered Blyth, gravely.
Jack smiled and pointed to a pair of green doors with round windows. The sign above read: SURGERY ONE.
‘Everything we need to build TERGA is in there: monitors, coils, capacitors and shielding. I presume you brought a soldering iron?’
Sims removes one from his pocket and waves it in the air like a magic wand.
‘Good,’ said Jack. ‘Shall we get started? Before the moon turns red? I’ve always wanted to sabotage an ECT machine…’
This was the moment of truth that Sims had been waiting for. To prove that TERGA was a hoax. To refute Vallis and all his crazy claims. To expose his Apocalypse as nothing more than the ravings of madman. But Sims could not refute the mystery of the Sidhe. What really happened on Wolf Fell? The dimensional totality of the creative order, Jack said. It was a gift. A gift of the Sidhe. But Sims didn’t want it. He preferred to forget. To block it out. He felt the ghoulish horde was all about him still, watching, waiting…
‘Are you coming?’ asked Jack.
Sims couldn’t move. The surgery doors were foreboding and shrouded in gloom. The round windows seemed to stare back at him, like malevolent eyes of darkness. He had the distinct feeling of déjà vu – that he’d done all this before – not just once, but a thousand times. Part of him wanted to run away. His committal seemed like only yesterday. How many years did he spend in Balinasloe? The past was a blur. Ever since that hideous thing flew out from a mound. Ever since he fell off his bike on the road to Kilcolgan… And now he was stuck in the bowels of another asylum. He didn’t want to go through with it. With TERGA. He was in mind to smash the magnetron to smithereens. That would put an end to this madness once and for all…
Jack vanished through the surgery doors and a flicker of neon light sparkled through the glass. Blyth was about to follow, but Sims remained rooted to the spot, pale as ashes.
‘Are you all right Sims?’ asked Blyth. You’re not having second thoughts are you?’
‘Must we really go through with it, sir?’
‘But we’ve come so far, Sims. Too much has happened to give up now.’
‘I’ve got a bad feeling about this. I don’t want to go in there.’
‘Why ever not?’
‘I’m afraid I might never come out. SURGERY ONE; the green doors; I’ve seen them before.’
‘I don’t know. I can’t remember.’
‘Oh come now, all surgeries look alike, don’t they?’
‘If you say so.’
‘We’re in this together, aren’t we Sims?’
‘Yes sir, together. But do you believe in everything Vallis says?’
‘That we’re stuck in Limbo; that the Ether is collapsing all around us; that the Sidhe are bringing forth The Great Dissolution; that England has fallen into an abyss?’
‘What? Of course not! But I believe the Russians are planning thermonuclear war. And that’s an abyss, if ever there was one. And I believe in TERGA.’
‘As a portal device?’
‘Perhaps not. I think it’s more of a spirit box, like an electronic Ouija board. But I suppose that’s a portal device of sorts. Nevertheless, we must keep an open mind. Who knows what TERGA can do when used by telepaths like Vallis? Cheer up Sims, if you can build this thing, you’ll go down in history. Follow me…’
Sims stepped forward, the soldering iron gripped in his fist, and whispered:
‘I come once again, with cold unflinching hand, to knock at the shining portals of Eternity…’
Entering, he lowered the blinds and locked the doors behind him.
Copyright © Nicholas Shea 1992-2022. All rights reserved.
i. R. M. Bucke. ‘Cosmic Consciousness – A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind’, Innes and Sons. 1905. p. 2. ‘First Words’.
Image montage: Copyright © Nicholas Shea 1992-2022.
First Posted on WordPress September 2, 2022; reposted Semptember 7 2022 (an addendum of dialogue between Blyth and Sims after Jack enters Surgery One).