Of Two Minds
by Michele Dutcher
|part 2 of 3|
Cheryl Lambert had arranged the seats in her front room facing one wall, as if a child were performing a simple play she had made up over the course of an afternoon. The guests who occupied those dozen seats, however, were anything but ordinary. The scientific world had come knocking on her door, waiting eagerly to see what conclusions this wonder-kid would draw about the Voynich manuscript.
There was a definite hush in the room as the six-year-old girl took her place beside Dr. Haralovich in the front. “I have been asked in writing by Lana Clare to read to this assembly her assessment of the medieval document known as the Voynich Manuscript. The following are her words. I am acting solely as her reader.”
Lana nodded to the researcher and he picked up a notebook in front of him. “I believe this book was written by one person who was hardwired as I am — with two minds. That is why it has taken all these centuries for the document to be correctly translated.
“I first examined the Herbal portion of the manuscripts, in order to get an overall picture of the document. Some of these plants were indeed grown in Europe during the Middle Ages. However, the majority of these drawings were details of plants grown on this world certainly — but not on this world’s time-space: in a separate dimension.”
There were shocked expressions throughout the room as the reader made time for the outburst before continuing with the presentation. “The Voynich Manuscript was written between 1403 and 1417, but the question has remained: how did the author see the spiral Andromeda Galaxy two centuries before the invention of the telescope? I believe Newbold was correct in his interpretation: ‘In a concave mirror I saw a star in the form of a snail.’
“The author was actually, I believe, from a land where the normal is what you call deux cerveaux — where everyone has two minds. This condition has the advantage of seeing all things from at least two perspectives, which lessens conflict.
“In a world that had never known war when the author was transported here, their science was much further advanced than ours. It leaves the question: in this other world, what advancements have been made during the last 600 years?
“There are pages in this document which provide a description of how this earlier deux cerveaux travelled into this other world. The doorway is only open periodically and open only to those of a similar mental make-up, which is why I chose to give my farewell speech tonight. I will return, but I know not when.”
At this, the child began to fade before anyone could reach her, disappearing completely just before the words, “I love you Mama, I’ll see you soon,” tumbled out of empty space.
Lana noticed a bright light before her and began walking towards it. Beyond it there was a dimness that frightened the girl a bit, with shadows of dark landscapes on the horizon. From out of the abyss came a dark figure: tall, bearded, walking slowly but steadily and smiling broadly as he got closer to the tiny child. “Walk through the light, Lana,” he shouted.
The young girl did as she was told, noting a slight ringing in her ears. Lana now stood before the man.
“Welcome,” he said, bending down to see her face to face. The next sound Lana heard was a vibrating inside her head, almost a pleasant buzz. “Can you hear me, Lana?”
The girl gratefully thought back, “Yes I can.”
The man took the girl by the hand and began to lead her from the bright light into a vague, shadowy landscape. “We have a lot to talk about, you and I. Do you know about electricity? Yeah, I did that.”
“Spot on, Lana. You can call me ‘sir’.”
“Why is it so dim? — is this death?” she asked as they walked.
“No, no — this Earth, your new home, is still encapsulated by the canopy, a water shell that screens out the harmful rays of the Sun, so cells don’t mutate. There is death, but many over here live a millennium instead of decades.”
“Why did the other canopy collapse, Tesla?” asked Lana with an innocence only a child could have.
“Excellent question, Lana! We’re going to have many intriguing discussions — I can tell...”
* * *
Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscripts collection,
Yale University, A.D. 2025
The tour guide continued spouting her pre-approved spiel to the small group who followed her. They quickly walked up the steps and around the honey-combed walls of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscripts collection’s museum, going from one glass-encased book to the next.
“In the late 19th century the rarer and more valuable books of the Library of Yale College were placed on special shelving at the Old Library (now Dwight Hall). These were moved to the Rare Book Room collection of Sterling Memorial Library when it opened in 1930.
“When the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library opened its doors on October 14, 1963, it had become the home of the volumes from the Sterling Memorial Library Rare Book Room, and three special collections: the Collection of American Literature, the Collection of Western Americana, and the Collection of German Literature. Shortly afterward, they were joined by the James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection.
“The Beinecke Library became the repository for books in the Yale collection printed anywhere before 1601, books printed in Latin America before 1751, books printed in North America before 1821, newspapers and broadsides printed in the United States before 1851, European tracts and pamphlets printed before 1801, and Slavic, East European, Near and Middle Eastern books through the eighteenth century, as well as special books outside these categories.”
She turned back towards the staircase leading downwards before asking, “Questions?” — after which she quickly exited the display area, leading her flock back towards the downstairs.
Towards the far wall, a man, who seemed to be in his early thirties, pushed his dark bangs to the side, allowing them to fall over his dark-rimmed glasses. John Drew leaned forward to better view a small book in a glass case, one of several in a semi-circle around the edge of the carpeted floor. The rectangular document was less than a foot tall, its text and illustrations faded on vellum paper, and sealed inside a black-edged glass cube.
“Hello,” he heard someone say suddenly. He looked up, scanning the room, but no one was near him. A tall, thin man in the corner smiled at him and he nodded back politely. John was surprised when he began to cross the room, but he waited, returning his attention to the manuscript before him.
“Si tratta di un documento straordinario, non è vero?” the man asked quietly.
John seemed to stutter a little, shyly, not being bold enough to look the stranger straight on. “I am sorry, but my principal language is English. I’m a physicist by trade, not a linguist, unfortunately,” he stammered.
“If you only speak one language well, you must be an American,” he replied effortlessly in English, and they shared a discrete laugh together.
“You have me pegged, I’m afraid. My name is John — John Drew.”
“You may call me De Comte.” He extended a leather-gloved hand and John shook it gently. “Is this your first time viewing the book?”
“No, no. I’ve been a fan for quite some time. I’ve seen it mostly online, of course.”
“The Voynich manuscript, purchased by Rudolf II in 1552 from the son of John Francis Paggins, who was secretary to eight successive popes from 1415 to 1455. The complete document has never been translated — except by one small girl, who then vanished into thin air, leaving no translation behind.”
“Yes, in 1959, if we are to believe the impossible. I think I’ve been able to interpret some of the pages,” whispered John, as if telling a secret, and allowing the other man into his confidence.
“Go on, please.”
“Some of the biological drawings are actually machines — at least that’s my theory. Page 88 seems to be a microscope, and some of the illustrations might be single-celled organisms.”
“Also, the text beside the astrological drawings seems to talk about the different shapes of the galaxies as seen through a telescope. So it was easy to decipher portions of the text from there.”
“Easy? People and governments have been trying to translate this document for six centuries. Perhaps, mi amigo, you have a gift.”
Even the hair hanging over his glasses couldn’t hide the red blush that filled his face. “I believe the ‘recipe’ section in the back is actually predictions of 302 events in the six centuries following its writing. That discovery helped me to decipher it as well — to find names of the famous and infamous among its pages.”
“You said only 301 — do you believe there are twenty-two additional prophecies then, left unfilled?”
“You’ve caught me once again — I believe exactly this, and I plan to release my predictions and my findings shortly.”
“Perhaps I know something which will interest you, then... for your book. Do you know that the manuscript was traded by the author for the woman he loved? It’s true, it’s true. Her uncle was unwilling to let his niece leave with Arschi Delmingo, so he gave her uncle this manuscript.
“The uncle believed he would be able to sell it for huge amounts of money — but his greed cost him his left hand when it was untranslatable. Really, Arschi was never a very good illustrator — so it’s no wonder humanity has been so confused about it over all these centuries.”
“I hadn’t read that before — about the author I mean. Did you find that online somewhere?”
“No, no. I counted the author as one of my best friends, so long ago.”
John instinctually took a step backwards, away from the stranger — certain the fellow was too odd to continue the conversation further. He noticed for the first time that the tall stranger still had his black winter coat pulled tightly around him, his hat nearly eclipsing his face. “Sir, as it is difficult to speak because I have a sort of stammer, I must ask to withdraw from the conversation. Perhaps another time...”
The man who introduced himself as De Comte allowed one side of his mouth to lift into a grin. Is this better, he thought towards the young man. He was delighted to see he had been heard clearly by the bookish man, who now appeared a little weak in the knees.
John Drew had found the thought delivered whole into his mind, as if it were an email completely formed and thus sent.
The tall man thought again: Is this better? You can answer me. Just try.
John Drew closed his eyes and was surprised at how easily he was able to answer mentally — first seeing the answer in written form before his eyes and then shooting it through the front of his forehead to the man opposite him. Yes, I can hear you.
The conversation continued telepathically. “Excellent! Allow me to introduce myself properly. Count de Saint Germain at your service.” He then removed his sunglasses to reveal his deeply blue eyes. His eyelids, however, had an odd green tint to them. “I like to consider myself an ambassador of sorts — sliding between multiverses when the opportunity arises.”
“Multiverses? Are you referring to string theory?
“Exactly. As a physicist you must be aware of the extreme probability of their existence mathematically.”
John nodded, despite the fact that they were communicating telepathically. “It’s only a theory. There hasn’t been any solid evidence — as yet...”
“Ah, but here I am, a traveler from a universe very similar to your own. It is not a coincidence that you are here as well, John Drew.”
“Long ago I inserted a chip into the binding that acts as a homing device for those with two minds — those with the condition called deux cerveaux, which is the norm on my Earth. Of course, during the next few days many portals will open over the surface of our worlds, which is why we have sentries guarding the openings, to be sure those who don’t fit stay on their own side, in this universe.” The ancient traveler took out what might have been a pocket watch, opened it, looked at it, and closed it again.
“May I?’ asked John, extending his hand. “I’d love to see an artifact from another universe.”
“Certainly.” The small instrument exchanged hands quickly. When John opened it, a lovely hologram of a middle-aged woman appeared. She wore a metallic, form-fitting blouse and skirt. “She is charming. Your wife?”
“No, my mother. She was almost four hundred when that was taken seven centuries ago. She’s gone now, but missed.”
The image started changing and it became a ruined city, wind-swept with dirt being blown around, almost obliterating the picture. “Is that your home, sir?”
“No — that is this city, in the future, within a hundred years. As you know, within the space-time continuum are ripples due to the structure of the original Big Bang, and when those ripples line up, it is possible to see from the top of one to the summit of the next, ergo to view the future. Some creatures do this automatically; others of us need help from gadgets like this one.”
“But New Haven is a vibrant city, just look around you.”
Count de St-Germain did exactly that, as if committing the scene to memory, as he were not only an ambassador but a historian as well. “Global warming will result in a significant, enduring drought. Those who are left will move elsewhere — to lands currently rain-soaked — but high enough in elevation to avoid the sea water flooding of the coastlines. Then the remaining ones will move again, and again...”
John Drew handed the man back his small device, noticing a bit of powder rubbed off De Comte’s fingertips, revealing a greenish tint to them.
The Count de St-Germain looked his companion straight in the eye and whispered insistently, ‘We only have a few hours before I’ll need your answer.” The actual sound of his voice sounded odd after John’s hearing the previous speeches in his mind.
“Answer about what?” John whispered back.
“Why, whether or not you’ll be crossing back over with me, of course. Is there someplace we could go to have some tea, while we talk further?”
“Starbucks?” asked John, leading the tall man across the floor, down the steps and into the cloudy afternoon.
* * *
Copyright © 2012 by Michele Dutcher