The Torus Project

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 7 (v.1)

Submitted: February 06, 2011

Reads: 56

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Submitted: February 06, 2011



Chapter 7
4:26 p.m., Friday
Brian had to pick up Wilson from daycare, so he left Amber and Mike at Sam’s bar. He thought again about Kevill’s assignment—analyze a belief, how it fits your perceptions, your past.
Beliefs and a three-pound universe. His brain spun with recent events and his belief that Kevill—that talkative, engaging, enormously informative man Brian had worshipped in college—might not be who he wanted him to be.
And what did he want Dr. Kevill to be? A father figure to guide him from military to academia? To nurture ideas and kindle fires inside? To refocus after losing a loved one and move on? He had a father. They were hardly close. A military man himself, Brian’s dad wasn’t one for psychological mumbo jumbo. He’d told Brian as much. So had Dr. Kevill become a surrogate father for Brian, at least intellectually?
Maybe. And that nagging fact disturbed him. In self-analyzed frustration, Brian clinched the steering wheel and cussed a fellow driver who cut him off. He wanted to be what his own father had not been . . . a listener, more playful, more open to new ideas. Brian believed he had located the foundation in his classes and studies, his life now spent learning about the inner-workings of the mind and human behavior. He had made friends. He had found a niche.
Yet, as he plugged into Dr. Kevill’s belief assignment, he began to realize his bunker wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. He had found a love for learning. No doubt about it. Ideas intrigued and filled. He felt expanded, empowered. He also loved to see Wilson in a safe environment, too. His son played. He smiled. Not always. But Brian saw a beginning.
Brian focused on a dead bug marking his windshield and thought more clearly about his role model, Dr. Kevill—that belief in itself—and how he had used Kevill to focus, to move in his new university world.
Kevill had become an epicenter, he realized. Dr. Kevill, in his charisma, had caught a hungry fish like Brian, someone in need of ladder rungs to climb in a personal quest to shape his life . . . with Rebecca gone and he, a single dad, striking out on his own. Kevill.
What was the pattern of approach to any type of change? Brian thought, as his car made it to Wilson’s daycare parking lot. Child-made cardboard suns were stuck to the building’s windows, huge grins beaming toward him. Brian read the words “Welcome” and grunted. He remembered studying adaptation to loss in one of his classes. He knew his losses—Rebecca and a place in the Air Force. First, there was denial, followed by anger, bargaining, depression, and, finally, acceptance.
“I’m in denial here,” he said, placing his forehead on the steering wheel. “I need to move!” But move where? Do what? He felt residual anger bubbling, now triggered by confronting beliefs and thinking about Rebecca. Amber, too?
What is happening with Doctor Kevill? Brian believed he needed to find out. And, in that quest, hopefully, he could discover more about being a father, a lover, a person, too.
Andrew Kevill lounged beside his large in-ground pool, soaking in the sun and drinking a cold beverage. He wore only black swimming trunks and sunglasses, his pale and pasty body oiled with lotion to protect against the Oklahoma rays. Tommy Dorsey and his band piped through outdoor speakers, which didn’t appeal to Kevill’s poolside friend.
“I’d rather hear a rumba for once,” said Madalene, who waded in the crystal-clear water, her arms over the edge. “Or a marimba.” She, too, wore sunglasses, her colorful drink resting on the pool’s edge. Being of Latino descent, Madalene’s slender frame possessed a continual tan, a tan further enhanced by a yellow, two-piece suit; her dark, shoulder-length hair, now wet, glistened in the sunlight.
“My dear,” Kevill said, eyes closed. “I adore you and your music, but nothing compares to the Big Band era, the raw power, the harmony. It soothes me.” He sighed and sipped from a straw. “I need some relaxation after this week.”
“Whatever you say.” Madalene, though, wasn’t about to let her lover rest just yet. She splashed water on Kevill to keep his attention. “Tell me about this new man . . . Daka.”
“Huh? Daka?” Kevill turned in his chaise lounge to look at Madalene under his shades. “I thought I already told you about him. What else is there to know?”
“Well, can we trust him? You chat a few times, and he’s here. His background, you know. Do you really think he’s free of all that . . . that—”
“—war and clandestine shit?” Kevill rested his head back down. “Never a way to know for sure, my dear. Nature is entropic, is it not?”
“Stop withthe big words on me!” She threw another small splash his way. Out of the corner of his eye, Kevill caught her bosom bob in the water with the movement.
“Okay, okay. Nature, the universe, constantly moves toward chaos. Buildings crumble without repair. Erosion. Rust. Unpredictable weather patterns.” He looked straight at Madalene. “Even your beautiful breasts would succumb to entropy if it weren’t for the wonders of modern science!”
Another splash. “So how can you trust this Daka?” she persisted.
Kevill pivoted on the recliner, fully facing Madalene, long charcoal hair splayed upon his neck and back from a previous dip. He browsed his domain—the pool area with concrete curves, a Jacuzzi, diving board, wood deck, even a small wet bar. Behind him, a shoulder-high, picket fence separated the pool from the rest of his expansive backyard, its dark green grass, flowers kept by Madalene, and pockets of oak trees. The place was idyllic, and, though just for him and Madalene, Kevill felt glad he had spent the time to fix it up for moments as this.
“I can only go by his words and his actions, Madalene. In the past five years, they have been parallel to our cause.” He took a nearby towel and rubbed lotion off his legs. “He wants peace but knows the futility of it in a world controlled by ignorance, poverty, and power in the hands of the few. I have read his papers, seen his speeches over the ‘Net, and I truly believe he has made a change.”
Madalene sipped her drink and leaned into the water. “For your sake, lover, I hope you are right. I worry, you know.” She looked at him with a puckered face, something Kevill couldn’t ignore.
“All taken care of, my dear. All in the bag.” He removed his sunglasses, taking a long pull from the beverage. “And, now with the semester over . . . for both of us . . . we can push more into our project. Should prove an interesting summer. We have a solid team. We are ready, I feel, to take the plunge.”And with two steps, Kevill pointed his arms, arched his thick frame, and dove into the pool’s deep end.
Stoked from a day of play and a recent nap, Wilson jumped up and down once they were home.
“Out to eat, Dad! Out to eat!” He circled Brian and swatted his father’s rump.
“A little hyper today, aren’t we?” Brian, head still groggy from belief bashing, wasn’t in the same energy field as his five-year-old. He did muster a grab at the boy’s ankles, though, holding him upside down.
“Out to eat! Out to eat!”
“And where out to eat, Wilson?”
“Hamburger and fries, huh?”
“And a toy!” The fast-food giant had started a line of toys to coincide with a movie Wilson liked named “Jungle Time”. So far, they had collected a lion, an elephant, and a giraffe, all of which had their movie voices due to mini-chip technology. The thought reminded Brian how much smallness had already infiltrated everyday culture.
“And a toy . . . but of course!”
They were chomping away on fries at a clean corner booth when Brian noticed Jackie’s friend Carol enter. In the light and now not so nervous, she deserved reconsideration. She wore a white- and red-striped blouse that reached her elbows and light-brown shorts that showed off lengthy legs. Jet-black hair was wrapped in a ponytail down her back.
At first Carol didn’t see Brian, but, after ordering, she saw the father and son and pretended not to. Brian wasn’t about to be a jerk and avoid Jackie’s friend for a second time, though.
“Hey, Carol!” he said, waving. “Over here!” She couldn’t ignore him, and, with tray in hand, smiled and headed their way.
“Hi,” she said. “Brian, right?”
“Jackie’s friend.”
“I remember.” She scanned the room, like she expected someone.
“Care to join us? Carol, my son, Wilson. Wilson, Carol.” Wilson, a mouth full of fries and busy making noises with his new snake toy, looked up and said, “Hi”.
“Thanks.” She sat down, still looking a little uncomfortable.
Brian could tell Carol was smart, just introverted. He had trouble making eye contact and also noticed she spread out her wrapper like a picnic meal, positioning a smudge of ketchup in the corner, eating a half-fry at a time. Why she came to McDonald’s alone beat him, but then he remembered that she was the one who had connected nans to nanotechnology.
“Wilson, you gonna go out on the playground? Looks like those kids are having some fun!”
Wilson gazed at the plastic tubes and nettings, at his dad and Carol. Wilson was also smart. He knew when to take a hint. “Okay. But can I take my snake?”
Brian wiped his son’s mouth. “Sure. Just don’t lose him!”
Wilson scampered off, leaving Carol and Brian alone.
“Question, Carol.”
She looked up from her sandwich. “Yes?”
“Nans. Nanotechnology. You said you knew about it from Computing Science?”
The question seemed to surprise her. She dabbed her mouth and cleared her throat. “Uh, huh. Nans are the wave of thefuture.” 
“Why?” Brian felt he had learned much from his own research, but Carol’s official studies couldn’t hurt.
“Well, because they’re so small. Until now, computers were all silicone-based . . . only so many transistors you can pack on a chip.” She munched a fry and took a swig of cola.
“So nanotechnology is different than our historical computers and chip technology?” Brian’s reading on the ‘Net had given him insight into the tiny world of making computers from organic materials. Past silicon-based microprocessors depended upon a light-sensitive film, developed by chemicals cutting into the silicon and routing information. Run by electronic signals, computers now possessed smaller space between transistors—measured in millionths of a meter—placing more onto a chip and making faster running computers.
“Really, a pretty big step . . . or a pretty small one.” Carol seemed to like this joke and snorted. “Nano computers are built on the molecular level.”
“Uh, huh.” She was loosing Brian a little, but he also remembered reading about DNA-based computers and scientists using natural biochemicals to store and process information.
“Instead of a silicone chip,” she continued, “now they have a nanochip, each unique and able to perform special functions like regulating how hot or cold your clothes are if weaved in the fabric . . . or monitoring your body from the inside if the chips are injected in your bloodstream.”
Brian finished his drink and trashed his and Wilson’s wrappers. “Cool!”
“All my computer professors loved it, but I needed more than code and technology. That’s why I switched to psych.”
“I remember.” Brian wasn’t ready to turn the topic to Carol’s personal stuff just yet. He leaned forward in excitement. “Speaking of psychology, do you have any ideas how they might be linked?”
Carol paused to think about the question, finishing up her own meal. “With a computer the size of a few molecules, Brian, you could plant these things inside a brain. Not a big leap, I guess. Assist normal brain functions, you know . . . speed them up, maybe. I bet people with neurological problems could be helped, like strokes and brain injuries and stuff.”
Carol paused, seeming to juggle the idea. “Heck, Brian, I could have nanochips in my head right now, and you would never know . . . maybe I wouldn’t either.”
“Until you started receiving the OU games without a radio!”
They laughed, but Brian’s smile subsided to furrowed brows. He thought of tiny things moving around inside him, like insects—brainless, passionless—but to help the brain. Pills but more than pills. Almost alive.
“How come you’re so interested in all this stuff?” Carol said, throwing away wrappers and cola cup in one neat package.
“My senior thesis. Thought I’d do something on the topic.”
“That’s pretty cool.”
“Yep.” Brian twirled his thumbs. “Carol, mind if I get your number . . . in case I have more questions?”
Carol’s chin dropped but fast recovered. She phoned Brian’s cell, which stored her number. The request, though, emboldened her to ask her own question. “So what are you and Wilson doing tonight?”
Brian blinked in his own surprise. “Don’t know. Up to him, really, until about nine or so,” he said, nodding toward Wilson, who was just noticeable in a sea of multi-colored balls. “Then he’ll crash. What are you and Jackie doing?”
The “Jackie” part didn’t seem to sit well with Carol, who gave a quick pout. “Not much. I think she gets off in an hour or so. Should we give you a call?”
“Sounds good. Maybe some cards at my place? Plus, I have some information on a flash drive I want to show you.” Brian motioned Wilson to come back to the table.
“Some nanotechnology stuff on it, believe it or not. I haven’t really looked at it, but I think it’ll be pretty neat. And you being ex-computers and all, maybe you can help, too.”
Amber and Mike stayed behind at Sam’s after Brian left to pick up Wilson. The two had only met once at the bar before, but, as soon as Mike entered the room, a strange connection happened. Amber felt it first. A contact in her mind, a feeling of union. She knew Mike was one with the Torus.
Mike experienced a similar reaction. Though in his inoculation flu, he “felt” immediate kinship, like they had long been friends.
With Brian still there, they probed the new sensation, catching glances. Finally, Brian talked to Jackie on his cell, and Amber pushed an unspoken message across: Show me the symbol. Alarmed, Mike flashed the newfound pendant from under his shirt.
Are you scared? Amber again, this after Brian had left.
Mike frowned, his face screwed up in pain and confusion.
It will pass.
“How do you know so much?” Mike resorted to speaking, spitting out the words and pounding the tabletop. The display brought them attention from a waitress across the room.
Shhh, Amber thought. You need rest. Drink a lot of water.

“What the hell is happening?” Mike said in lowered yet still-tense tones. He grabbed Amber’s thin forearm across the table. “One moment, I’m in my apartment; the next, I’m waking up to headaches and commands!”
Don’t fight it, Mike. Doctor Kevill is actually doing you a favor. She shook Mike away and leaned back, smiling slightly. A nice feature of the Torus, she thought.
“This Torus stuff? Tell me.” Mike, edgy and seemingly halfway ready to vomit, looked more intrigued to Amber by his situation than not. He began telling her about waking in his apartment, examining again a package left for him, one that had read: FROM YOUR FRIENDS IN THE TORUS. Putting two and two together, he knew that package had been the beginning. Daka had sprayed a liquid in his face, but that box held the pendant. The pendant held a new life. He remembered the wild dreams and the illness coming upon him.
“You already know about the Torus.” Amber resorted to regular speech, realizing a one-sided conversation might draw more attention. “Think as you would remembering information for a test. And feel as you would the comfort of home.”
Mike paused for a few minutes, breathing deeply. He closed his eyes, which rolled under their lids, and blinked rapidly. “Yes. My God! Amazing!”
Your God, my God. Everyone can be one with the Torus, Michael. Do you see why the plan is so important now?
Mike, still caught in his new abilities, didn’t answer. Amber placed a hand on his arm to snap him out of it. “Mike, it is amazing, but you have to act like the old Mike. Hear me?”
His eyes focused on hers. He scratched his head.
“Yes.” He flailed his head, filling cheeks with air, before looking Amber in the eye. “Hell, I’ve run so many experiments, and now I’m the fucking experiment! What a twist!”
Amber laughed. Don’t worry. Kevill has more experiments. Go see him tomorrow afternoon for a nice chat, okay?
“But what about Brian? He doesn’t know . . . Maybe he’d—”
“—Leave Brian up to me, sweetheart,” Amber said, a crooked smile crossing her lips. “Big plans for him as well, plans I’m sure he’ll enjoy as much as you.”

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