Table of Contents

1 Setting Scenes ......................................... 2 Flash Back .................................................. 3 Atmospherics............................................. 4 Mysterious Fliers...................................... 5 Rusty............................................................. 6 An Offer of Flight.................................... 7 Judith.......................................................... 8 Simulations ............................................... 9 A Conversation with Judith ................. 10 Learning to Crawl .................................... 11 Learning to Trust ................................... 12 The Secret .............................................. 13 Running ...................................................... 14 Kites ........................................................... 15 Dropping the Harness ........................... 16 First Flight ................................................ 17 Livvy Takes some Knocks ...................... 18 The Citadel ............................................... 19 The Meeting ............................................ 20 An Aura in the Sky ................................ 21 Caught ....................................................... 22 The Test .................................................. 23 The unexpected Guest ......................... 24 Further Developments ........................ 25 Early one Morning .................................. 26 North Sea Nightmare ........................... 27 Angels ......................................................... 28 Reviews and memories ........................... 29 Marine Adventures ................................. 30 The Conference ............................................. 31 Darius ............................................................ 32 The Strike ................................................. 33 The Flier .................................................... 2 18 29 35 45 59 69 78 88 96 104 114 125 133 141 150 162 180 189 201 212 219 230 239 249 258 268 280 297 311 328 350 368

1

34 False Conclusions .................................... 35 Airport Emergency ................................. 36 Knife Edge Sample .................................. 37 Epilogue ......................................................

381 396 407 418

Hidden Gifts
(fifth draft)

Chapter 1
Setting Scenes
Although there was no snow or even frost, the intense cold was unmistakable. Indeed, even if the scene were viewed casually out through a window, say from a warm café or out of a busy city office, the freezing temperature outside would still have had an immediate impact. It wasn’t as though the cold air could be seen as such, although the breath of the people rose up like steam everywhere, it was the behaviour of the people themselves which characterised the scene with an arctic flavour. Judith was relatively warm as she stood on the pavement taking in the demeanour of the passing people. She was unashamedly wearing a fur coat. In this weather, accusing, disapproving glares were all but absent from the crowd around her. This was no time to be thinking of animal rights. She also had her hands clasped inside a fur muff, and a fur hat graced her head; these three items were a relic of her youth several decades before… indeed so long a time before, that the welfare of animals were then not a consideration. Now pulled out from the wardrobe of her London flat; if they were not a Godsend they were certainly a precious gift from those long gone, forlorn creatures. On this occasion, the biting Siberian air which had swept across London, was also a precious gift for her. She had been searching for the man from Moscow for months now. He was so well burrowed into the fabric of the City life possibly having arrived years before - that even her penetrating perceptions had failed to pick him out. The sudden cold snap had hit the city six hours before just as the people were waking for their working day. The idea had come to her in a dream in the early hours of that very morning, even as the numbing cold

2

was sliding its icy fingers up the Thames Estuary towards the sleeping millions of Greater London. It had been a dream about a fish. It was a clever fish who had come out of the water and disguised herself as girl in a school… and nobody knew what was happening as she made the other children forget their books and lose their pens and get ink from the dark blue pots onto their fingers… nobody knew that is until one day, it rained. The rain came down in torrents and everywhere got wet including all the children. That touch of water caught the fish unawares and it brought out her fishiness… not so much fishiness that anybody else noticed… but Judith did. At that moment in the vision she had been wakened by her alarm. She was more puzzled than enlightened by any potential meaning in the dream. Puzzled that is, until she turned on the radio. Her thoughts - even at that time of the day on the man from Moscow who was so well hidden - suddenly came alive when she heard the weather warning. ‘A mass of air from Russia’. ‘A mass of air from Russia’, and she was looking for a Russian! Judith got up and began to move about in her flat. She washed and dressed and had a light breakfast. There was nothing in her flat that wasn’t useful, and everything that was there was carefully placed in a known position. This was so important, that Judith would invite no-one into her flat except her trusted cleaner for fear that any other person might casually but annoyingly move something so that Judith would have to spend many precious moments, feeling around for it. Judith was blind. Judith was blind to visible light. However, since her youth, something else had begun to make use of the sensation starved visual cortex of her mind. That something else was her warm and generous heart. Somehow her heart had found its way into her mind and discovered a vast, unused playground there… a playground which - had she not been blind - would have been filled to capacity with gathering, holding and processing visual images of the world outside. As it was, the playground was empty, void, deserted, unused… so her heart began to play. It played with the auras of all the living things around her. It played with the auras of both plants and animals. It played with the auras of mosses and lichens right through to the vivid, complex auras and atmospheres of the people around her. Her heart played with these auras and occupied its time painting them as visual images onto the empty blank canvas of her mind. Soon, the young Judith began to piece together a world

3

about her A world made not of images from the light reflected off of things, but made from images coming from the internal light within the living things themselves. Only living things revealed themselves to her in this way. So as Judith moved about her flat, the only things that she could ‘see’ was the auras of her house plants. Now Judith - having nothing in her flat that was not useful - found that these plants were very useful, indeed essential to her. Philodendron Scanlens draped the walls by her doors, pushing tendrils out over the door panels so that she could find them with ease and tell if they were open or closed. A ‘mother of thousands’ hung in front of each window, so that its shimmering essence could be perceived by her, moving in the breeze if the window was open. A tradescantias here, an ivy there, a spider plant in the corner, all located essential geography and pieces of furniture in the three spacious rooms. All were easy to care for plants, for their health was important to her… and of course their auras would tell her if they were dry or in need of a drop of food in their water. The thought of the cold soon to arrive outside had brought the memory of the fur coat. She had rummaged in the wardrobe and found it. It still had the faint aura of the animals from which it had been made even after so many decades and it was this that had made her keep it, despite her unease with its origins. She put it on and found the muff and hat as well. She was glad of them as soon as she stepped out onto the pavement, so penetrating and icy had the air already become. She began to walk the streets of the City looking for the Russian. She had a two-way radio slung over her shoulder hanging by her side and under her coat. It felt solid and heavy, Although there were now much smaller and lighter ones that did the same job, she felt more secure and comfortable with the weight of this piece of 1950’s technology. The aerial was a fine wire built into the strap and the earpiece and microphone ran up under her collar and into her neatly cut, full head of intensely white hair, to emerge by her ear. She spoke briefly to her superior, Craig and told him of her plans as she began her search. Six hours later she was still there. She had walked for miles within the ‘square mile’ following the flow of the auras of the people. This was the only way that she could tell where the pavements and streets were. If the auras were walking freely and easily, she knew she could walk in the same path safely. If

4

the auras paused and took on a slight question of safety, she knew she was coming to a road junction. She would always choose to follow the aura of someone who had an air of confidence. In this way she had come to know the streets of the City quite well. She could usually tell where she was at any time through an instinctual remembering of how she got to be there. She had only paused for refreshment by buying tea or sandwiches from stalls. She could not go inside a café or restaurant because glass, although transparent to visible light, obscured her perception of auras. Fortunately, because clothing was woven from fibres and therefore full of life enhancing air, it obscured little of the internal atmospheres of the people around her. Those who were naturally cheerful, were holding themselves tightly and they were marvelling at the intense chill of the air. They were using the big freeze as an opportunity to engage with their fellows with comments about the extraordinaryness of it all. Their atmospheres, which Judith could perceive within their auras, were warm red glows surrounded by lively, darting blues and purples dancing like a fire around them and between them and interlacing with the presence of others. Those who were more naturally doleful were holding out and waiting for it to all go away. Their atmospheres projected out ahead of them, impatient to get to the warmth and shelter of where they were going. Again there was a warm red, inner glow, but it was surrounded by a steady green border which kept each centre isolated from those around and focussed on the intent to be elsewhere. What Judith was looking for was someone whose aura showed that he was carrying a deception within a surround of confidence. The deception would appear as a tiny but intense nimbus, isolated and at odds with the rest of the atmospherics with the presence of the person. Unfortunately, this being one of the financial capitals of the world, there were many such folk around. This fact had made her work very difficult over that last few months… difficult that is, until now. Now, she was looking for someone who was carrying a deception within a surround of confidence… all within a physical body which was very much at home in this weather. Suddenly, all the factors clicked into place and there he was. It was unmistakable. His internal metabolism had shifted already, his thyroid still glowing from effecting the change. Well worn pathways of micro-circulation had been brought into play on his skin, his liver was converting lipoids in a well

5

practised way, his insulin levels were steady but active in a lifelong habit and his lungs, unusually well supplied with blood, were able to warm this ultrachilled air with ease. This man, unlike any other she had seen that day, was absolutely at home in this climate. Perhaps he was Inuit, perhaps a Laplander. She studied the sophisticated nature of the core of deception, deep within his air of confidence and decided he was definitely not one of those. Perhaps he was Canadian, Norwegian or Swedish. These were wealthy countries and their citizens lived in central heating and would not have the acclimatisation that this man had. Judith knew with a certainty that this was her man. This was a Muscovite at home in a deep Siberian winter. She pressed a button on the radio through her pocket and spoke softly, turning her head slightly to one side so that she could be heard in the microphone by her ear. “Craig. I’ve found him.” The radio crackled almost immediately. Craig must have been continually monitoring her as he went about his busy life. “Where are you? Where is he?” “I’m somewhere on Cheapside, heading towards Mansion House on the south side. I’m not sure but I think I just crossed Bow Lane. He’s walking quite fast and is just in front of me.” “I’ve got a couple of chaps near you. We’ve been hoping you might come up with something. What are you wearing?” “A full length fur coat, with a fur hat and muff. I can’t remember the colour… if I ever knew.” Craig’s agents came along side her minutes later. A woman in that kind of coat really sood out from the crowd. She pointed the Muscovite out, hoping that he wasn’t looking. The man showed no change in his intent. She had passed him over to the agents successfully. Judith had been right. He was their man. He had entered Newcastle as a youth twelve years before and after cultivating a northern identity, had come south, and with the aid of a few well laid KGB plants had furthered his career deep within the Bank of England. Internal Intelligence knew that information was getting out that was destabilising the pound - to the advantage of the Rouble - but no-one knew how it was getting out. The Muscovite was so well hidden in his Newcastle guise that they would never have found him. Never at all that is but for Judith’s vigilance during the cold snap. It was to be her last mission.

6

It was now the late 1980’s and Judith could sense the approach of the demise of the Soviet Union. She would soon be in her eighties herself and it was time to retire. She had more important things to do and it was now time to do them. She visited Craig soon after and handed in her resignation. She would go and live permanently in her small country retreat in the Cotswolds. .............................................................................. More than a decade later, a very different scene. It was cold, not because of the climate but because of the altitude. The fliers were dressed warmly against the chill air. Hortza was soaring near the top of his range. The thinness of the air was leaving him breathless and giddy despite his extraordinary fitness. He looked down on the frost glazed cliff edge below. Despite the fact that the jagged ridge was cresting at an altittude of nearly five thousand metres, it was receding into the distance below him. The updraft of air caused by the wind surging up the steep face of this terrain could easily have carried him higher but he was in danger of blacking out from lack of oxygen. Four of his fellow fliers were circling below, climbing steadily on the same ascending wave of air that had carried him so high. Also below him, he could see two more of his fellows, gliding rapidly down, using the height to which they had climbed to fuel a series of dives and acrobatics. Suddenly there was a crackling in Hortza’s ear. It was his radio. He was being called in. So were Futard and Soraya. He tipped his tail fin down to begin his descent and soon the wind was shrieking over his wing tips. He did not tarry to play with his speed using dives and stalls, wheels and turns as had been his plan. He headed straight towards the cliff-clinging stone ramparts of the mountain citadel twenty kilometres to the south. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see two of the others following suit. Their loyalty was absolute and there was never any questioning or dallying on orders. It was not a loyalty based on fear but on devotion, gratitude and a passion for flying. They would be there within ten minutes. Hortza’s descent was the beginning of an adventure that would culminate all of their training so far. Hortza’s descent was also the beginning of the end of

7

As a final precaution. The flow of the culture medium seemed to hang as a thick.. That was all it 8 . It then screwed another lid... the sudden ingress of air swirled around the interior carrying the droplet with it out into the open and down onto the cuff of his left rubber glove. ripple-free pour... As Darius opened the enclosure. having twisted off the lid. gently and smoothly tipped the contents of the canister into the flask.. smooth.. He lifted her veil and gazed upon her beauty..... that it floated in the air currents within the sealed... As the weight reached a predetermined figure. His wife met him in the hall.... The flask was sitting on a set of scales.. Only then did he pull the right glove off with the left. passed through his body as he held the controls. Later that day.... stretching from the pouring lip of the larger vessel into mouth the stoutly made. the ripple hit the surface of the medium in the flask and a minute splash occurred... Unseen by the scientist... washed the interior of the enclosure. The scientist. placed the flask into a soft.Judith’s . The transfer was almost complete in one smooth.. he playfully touched the tip of her nose with his index finger...... and kissed her on her lips.. retirement.. In turn. protective container that had been specially made for it. He placed the container into a holdall. He screwed the lid on that and resealed the enclosure. cushioned. glass enclosure in which the procedure was taking place..... Then. On a sudden impulse. had floated above the spray nozzles which projected down from the roof of the enclosure......... The droplet was so small and light.. The still small movement tremored through his hands and onto the levers which operated the mechanical arms..... honey-like strand..... a spray of strong disinfectant.. he pulled the left glove off also.. in the same mountain Citadel......... taking hold of the cuff of the left with his bare right fingers... the mechanical arm straightened the canister and replaced the lid. smoothly and securely onto the flask.. The droplet however. the slight judder passed along the arms causing a tiny ripple to flick through the smooth strand of the pour. Darius was at work. thoroughly sterilising the outer surfaces of the two vessels. It was unaffected.... The mechanical arm. She sighed and drew in a deep breath. when a sudden shiver from nowhere.. metal cylinder.. A microscopic droplet was ejected into the air. The droplet smeared onto his right index finger. Darius left the lab and went into the adjoining apartment next door..

What she sensed about him was his intent.. I think it more likely that he likes my ‘eau de hot dog’. He was still... She was enjoying her new found bravery. “My dog seems to like your after shave. in Birminham.. “No..... He did not reply. He also had something about him that was thrilled to be alive.. Why did she feel that she had a remarkable destiny despite the fact that she was so disabled that merely navigating around in the world of sighted people took the majority of her creative effort? She turned to him slightly.. She surprised herself again.. 9 ...... Such an event had been calculated as being a one in forty million chance...... She was used to following Rusty.. so her attention naturally followed the dogs movement...... The droplet had been created.. It was an essence which was asking her why she was so different that few people would come close to her....... .... This paradox puzzled her...... She could not perceive the wheelchair... A few days later. The dog crossed over to her right side to be next to him... however... A young woman stood on the edge of a track at the Paralympic Trials. The second thing that drew her attention was a certain quality in his atmosphere......... It was her guide-dog Rusty that made the first move..” She actually knew that Rusty was rarely led by his stomach and that begging was not one of his habits. shivered in the way that he had shivered.. This was awkward because she always held his harness with her left hand so that he could guide her.. first of all because her sensitive sense of smell told her that he was not wearing aftercare and secondly that she had dared to initiate a conversation at all.... unmoving yet engrossed in the wheelchair race. “You’ve got him sussed already. He had something about him that was content.. It was unconscious at first. England. She was now infected. but she gradually became aware that there was a young man sitting next to her.. It was one that she had rarely encountered before and she was puzzled by it.... It reminded her of an essence that she was beginning to recognise in herself......took.... It was a longing that both touched her with its candour and disturbed her in her dreams at night. She had already guessed what he was eating. He had....” She surprised herself.. “Do you race?” She enquired after a short period of time.” He responded lightly. but she was aware that he was sitting and that the light of his auric presence showed only from his waist up.

“I would have thought that lightness was an advantage.” He had stated it as a matter of fact. but ultimately I am too light. It wasn’t there. I used to. “Actually you couldn’t know. she had not read the extent of his disability so intrigued was she by the fullness of his personal presence and character. “Oh… I didn’t realise… but surely if it is a wheelchair race…?” Her voice tailed off. but the impact shocked her. “I haven’t got any legs. “…what I mean is you would have had to have had the experience… I have no legs at all. It was unusual but unmistakable. She sensed this both in his atmosphere and in the tone of his voice. “And then I found…” He stopped himself outright. a bit like a Duckbilled Platypus. She liked it despite its directness. He sensed her stepping back… “What I mean is that there is no category in which I could fairly compete…” his voice had slowed… “I mean.” He was waiting for acknowledgement. Although she knew he was sitting in a wheelchair. so she nodded slightly.” She was genuinely puzzled by his reply but also wanted the conversation to go on.” He was faltering now.” She was slightly annoyed at the abstract science. What he said was direct and unembellished yet she sensed in his atmosphere that it wasn’t the whole story. just a pelvis… As I push on the wheels with my arms my body tends to fall forward as I finish the sweep.“No. The fact was that he seemed almost excited by the fact.” He was speaking to her as if he really wanted Livvy to know something about him. He had obviously noticed her blindness. I actually got on quite well. “I have to be strapped in… This works but it hinders me from excelling. She became aware of his gaze directly on her. She had seen that atmospheric before. It appeared to her that he was searching to say something that he couldn’t say. It bathed her. She was now a bit flustered. I was doing it just for the sake of being with my friends” she was alert to his atmosphere now. She became confused and 10 . She also sensed that he was covering something. She knew he had got himself into a cul de sac.” his voice had gone softer now. “I’m sui generis!” He added maintaining his gaze on her “That means I am in a genre of which I am the only example. He couldn’t or wouldn’t go any further with his answer for fear of revealing something. “I’m sorry… I hadn’t noticed.” She listened for a catch of regret in his voice. She could feel it.

enjoying his sense of humour.” she said.” she felt the need to tell a bit more. that’s right. “Yes. “ my mom told me that my coming along was an accident.” “And you’ve come back…” Livvy finished for him. It was a world of textures. “Were you in an accident?” she asked.” Again there was a hidden element that crept into his demeanor.” He joined her laughter. “People breath and are constantly moving around in small ways that I can hear. It was a 11 . I have quite a good sense of smell too. Livvy had not yet fully grasped the breadth. I was staying with my aunt and uncle… She’s my father’s sister. I guess I have. they wanted me very much and I have an older sister. “I’m not totally blind… I’m told that what I see is like what others see on a moonless night… It is sunny now and I’m aware of where you are but I have so many other ways of ‘seeing’ you. “You don’t sound English.” She replied exaggerating the power of one sense to keep the others secret. But I have been blind since birth. She remained puzzled. if that doesn’t sound too intrusive. “My father was born here and emigrated to Toronto when he was in his late teens.” She giggled because it was actually quite true. “Yes. I wasn’t an accident.” Now she too was in a cul de sac or was she? She had tried so often to tell others of what she could feel and of the world of auras in which she lived. ‘We found that we were unexpectedly expecting. Livvy could tell he wasn’t being devious as such. she had always been met by rebuff or jokes.” She laughed. She responded. It was more that he was being inexplicably cautious. “I’m Canadian. He had stopped and she would stop too. and she stopped risking it. as much a question as a statement. but only because I like eau de hot dog. “What? Do you mean you can hear where I am?” He asked. No. “Me too… I mean.’ was the way she put it. “Gosh! Nothing bad I hope?” “No. It hurt. When she did try to describe something of it. Maybe she could take that risk with him.might have faltered in the flow of the conversation if she hadn’t picked up on a slight accent. of living presence which she alone seemed to be able to sense.” He paused. “Funny you should ask” he replied. texture and depth of the world which through her uniquely developing senses .she actually did live in.

“I swim regularly. will you introduce me to your mistress?” “Oh I’m sorry. she reached out her right hand formally. colours without light. She was also aware of the scents and odours that are rife in our busy human world. A world of vibrancy and vividness. Livvy Johnson” Keeping her left hand on Rusty’s neck. that she felt his presence. The idea of appearance had no meaning for her. It’s so beautiful down there.” “Yes.” She giggled again. in addition to all of this. this is Rusty. notes without sound. A world where every living thing carries an envelope of silent music. Alex! Rusty has so much better manners than I do! I’m Livvy. “Do you do any sports?” Alex enquired. they would be amazed by. it’s certainly not. his presence was more filled out than anyone she had met for a long time. relieved to be having a normal conversation at last and thrilled inwardly to know his name. and override by reason of their preoccupation with sight. It was what she could only describe as a kind of buzzy light which surrounded every living thing and living being. clear and full of life. I banged my head on the end a little too often. had ventured into a world which others only ever touch the edge of.” She deliberately bent down to ruffle the dog’s head. It was in this world. and of course you have the dog as well. It was rose-coloured.world made up of an unknown. which if others stopped and closed their eyes to hear. I have to be accompanied in the sea. I can stay down for quite a 12 . It was these qualities that drew her to him. they too would begin to be lost in that world.” She felt even more at ease.” “No. which at times was so painful that she had to leave the room and at other times was so rich in soundless melody that she simply basked in it. I’m Alex Rogers. “Hello Rusty. “Not the best way to use your sense of touch I guess. In a pool that is. His atmosphere was dynamic and to the point. “Oh. The fact that he had no legs or indeed what he looked like in any way whatsoever had no impact on her. Alex noticed her musing and looked around for something to say. I’ve done so since I was a child. Yet all of these senses others have. He laughed too. little understood quality of presence. Livvy. tingling without touch. I’m not so keen on swimming lengths though. Living in a world of sensed essences of being. “What I really like to do is to swim underwater. Rusty responded and pushed his muzzle into the man’s side. If others took the time to smell things in the way that Livvy did. She could hear sounds acutely. however.

That’s where the air is. It was as though he was longing to tell her something. It had been a challenge. I guess their partners must be pretty fast too. I am looking for something to do with my friends. because he would want to know how it was possible.” “Oh. I love it. It was almost a jolt. but I would like to do something a bit more challenging. Nothing else.” he replied with an admiring tone.” replied Livvy. I wouldn’t know any other kind of course.” she replied.” “Yes. “Yeah. It’s almost like flying. I hear that there are quite a lot of blind people here running great races.” “I would have thought walking without sight was quite a challenge. I’ve seen that off in the distance. “I also walk a lot.” She felt she couldn’t tell him how much running she was doing. I want to find out how they do it.” She laughed.long time. I just never thought about it like that. “Mmm.” Again there was something in his atmosphere that told her he was alluding to something far more dynamic than he could talk about. There’s just me and my sense of balance.” There was a longing in his atmosphere. Alex.” he responded pensively. “It is.” “Oh. He broke into her thoughts. Underwater flying anyway. but I hear that there are a couple of world class blind runners here today. of course!” He was pleasantly surprised. “I thought they might be using some other sense.” 13 . “Why would you need a sense of balance to swim? I would have thought that you couldn’t fall over even if you tried. “I guess like you said.” She noticed a sudden jump in his atmosphere. I think they use a sighted partner. I’ve generally been a bit preoccupied with my own sport. It was a quality of admiration which she felt she could accept. “there must be a wonderful sense of freedom in flying. but this was different. I can dive and twist and turn. there is. She picked up on his original question. She had seen the atmosphere that comes with longing often enough in others. “I do that all the time. but one which was becoming increasingly easy. “I need to know where up is.

no more than a blurred imprint of the face of her own mother since birth . An age where formative skills of how to put a person at ease through showing interest. The conversation had gone on for quite a long time compared with her normal experience. “Have you travelled far?” She asked. This was in part because of her natural shyness and in part because she was herself a paradox. At the age of eighteen she was only just learning the elusive art of conversation. yet the impact of her appearance stilted all attempts. It was this resignation that was both her protection and her deepest concern. I am hoping they might help sponsor me through my physics degree next year. “But I’ll also be spending a lot of time in London with my job.” said Livvy There was an awkward silence. She longed for a deeper level of companionship and love. Was she going to be alone all of her life? She was determined not to be. Never having viewed the countenance of a human being.the impact of her own appearance on others was both a puzzle to her and something that she was becoming resigned to. She could see very little yet the visual impact of her physical appearance was substantial. people were aware of her alertness and yet her large violet eyes drifted as if in a dream. Other girls were suspicious.” “Gosh. young men either tongue-tied or behaving in a strange. breaking the silence. She sensed that he was pleased that she had stayed through the silence. false way that she couldn’t understand. the countenance of her own race . She felt an increased warmth coming from his presence.“Oh. Usually the awkward silence came very soon and Livvy would back out with a ‘nice meeting you’ and that would be the end of it. He too was used to being chatted to briefly and then abandoned. “I’ve taken a year out as a researcher in a technology development company. that’s really interesting. When coming into her presence. how to reveal enough of herself to reciprocate without overwhelming. “I have been living somewhat south of here in the Cotswolds. full lips and an angularity of face that was just far enough away from a classic beauty to make her even more interesting. She had vivid chestnut hair.” “Oh… what do you do?” She asked.” he answered. She was medium build. but lithe and athletic.” replied Alex “Wow! I could enjoy that. were only beginning to be explored. well I’ve seen visually impaired people play football with a ball that sings. She instinctively knew what it was. What sort of research are you involved in?” 14 .

“Hello Magnus. She floundered a bit trying to change tactics. 15 . It was just at that moment that events moved them apart. “my doctor tells me that I have two femoral arteries with nothing much to do. perhaps she had been curious about his condition but there was an underlying question that was nagging her as well. you too Alex. If she was reading his atmospherics correctly he was slightly agitated and what’s more. so everything else is very well looked after.” She didn’t want to push him. She felt strongly attracted to him as a man and she now realised that she had unconsciously wanted to know if that attraction was rightly placed.” Livvy’s voice trailed after them. It had the same feeling about it that she had encountered a few minutes before. “Oh just processing data. “he laughed.” It came as a letdown from Alex.” Acknowledged the man curtly. this is Magnus. “Livvy.She sensed his hesitation. “Is it just your legs you’re missing?” She didn’t know why she had asked such a personal question. “I’m sorry.” Livvy sensed there was a protective air in his attitude. “Really nice to meet you Livvy.” nodded Magnus over his shoulder as he began to push the wheelchair away. It was as if he wanted to keep Alex away from her. She was old fashioned enough to feel that it was not her place to ask for numbers or addresses herself. She could feel the presence of a large burly man. thank you.” She knew that embarrassment could be seen by the sighted. She felt Alex turn towards her.” The introduction from Alex jolted her out of her thoughts.” she giggled nervously “I don’t know why I asked that. indeed demanded a decision that was not taken up. Livvy. unable to disguise a note of disappointment. “Hello.” he replied. and she could certainly feel her cheeks burning. “Alex we must be going.” Replied Livvy in a measured way. lying outright. She was saved from her embarrassment. “Yeah. “sounds more glamorous than it is. “Bye now. now standing behind Alex’s wheelchair. there was a brief awkward silence that asked.” “It’s all right.

A year ago when he was last here. and it stayed with her as she began to walk off. This had become such a significant place for him. She had really enjoyed their time together.he realised for the first time .he felt an irritation with this man who had done so much for him. he had met Magnus and his life turned completely around. Alex had remained in awe of Magnus ever since he first met him. He didn’t even know what part of the country she lived in.Livvy felt empty. I don’t know what. Today he returned to meet this strange and wonderful girl. Alex began musing to himself. identical in nature to the light of his auric presence which had surrounded him when they were together. 16 . Part of Alex’s aura was still with her! It was there. This means something. The very idea that he might feel any sort of irritation with Magnus was surprising to him. A definite wisp of rose-coloured substance. He wished he had asked Livvy for her phone number or some means of getting in touch with her again. Suddenly she felt content. Now . just to her right. Now it was too late. she thought to herself. but it definitely means something! Chapter 2 Flash Back Alex felt a deep twinge of regret as Magnus walked beside him as he wheeled himself towards the exit of the sports ground. It had potential and meaning and had been primarily brought to an end by Magnus. It was then that she noticed a very strange thing.

With your new mission in life. couldn’t you have waited until I finished talking to Livvy? You were really rude. Alex covered his discomfort with by furthering the challenge. “You’re not a kid anymore! All this has been a lot of fun so far. ‘And what do you do Alex?’ How would you answer that?” That last question was uncannily accurate. Magnus! I’ve never met anyone like that and we were getting on just fine until you came along.” Magnus had softened his voice now. “The car is waiting around the front. “I see. “Yes I did Alex. Magnus put his hand on Alex’s shoulder to stop him. but you need to get it into your head that what we’re doing isn’t kid’s stuff. Magnus?” He asked. He walked around in front of the young man.” Magnus said in a firm but gentle voice. it was a safe place to speak plainly. people will be seeing things out of the corner of their eye that they don’t understand. He judged that even though they were in the middle of a fast moving crowd.” Alex felt his hackles rising as he allowed his anger to rise up. This is big boy stuff and you are 17 . so you did butt in and whisk me away so that I couldn’t talk to her!” Alex’s anger was rising even more. “Well up yours. He chose to remain standing upright even though Alex was at a lower level in the cahir. I didn’t even get to say goodbye to her. by the very nature of the bustle. One minute we were talking. Alex. Even the simplest conversation will quite quickly beg questions that you will not be able to answer. There’ll be questions and there’ll be noses poking into things where they don’t belong. You don’t own me.“Why are we in such a hurry. that is just it. He had a sensing of what was going on with Alex. cautiously testing out this new found rebellion. “Alex. and he was not afraid of it. Surely I can have the odd conversation without you treating me like a kid talking to strangers. It may be fun now but there really is a serious edge to what we are doing and it will get very dangerous! When we start operating.” answered Magnus in a calm and matter of fact way. the next you just barged in and off we go. “We have to be so careful at this stage of the game. you cannot afford to get involved with anyone.” “Well. What if she were to say. “Look. Soon there will be crowds of people trying to get out of here and we will get stuck in the traffic.” Alex was really on the boil now.

he already was Clark Kent. He was leaning enough to appear relaxed but not so much as to look unprofessional. let’s be getting on our way.” Alex was musing out loud but Magnus knew there was a serious thought behind it.” said Magnus. Magnus saw this process going on in him.” Magnus spoke softly but firmly. Joel was his dad.” Magnus was sparring with him now.” Alex stared back. Alex you have to keep your life really simple. To say he was differentlyabled was not to be politically correct. 18 . then turned to continue on their way. He was in fact very professional. “Superman didn’t develop Clark Kent. The driver held open the door. The car sped off into the gathering dusk. Soon they had croosed the car park and were approaching a large saloon car. Alex pulled himself up out of the chair by reaching for the frame above the car door with his strong athletic arms. he was Joel from the planet Krypton. I’m sorry. She was a striking young woman. Ross folded the chair and put it into the boot. In fact I’m really sorry. “Naw. He was fuming because he knew there was no choice. It was a fact. He was fuming because he knew that Magnus was right. like Superman did. He stood looking kindly at him for a few seconds. he was a reporter and that put him in touch with all the bad things going on in the world so that his Superman identity could fix them.sure as hell going to need some big boy discipline. He slipped himself into the rear seat with the grace of a dancer. Clark Kent was useful. He was fuming because he also wanted to see Livvy again and sensed how strong that desire could become.” retorted Alex. fuming. He was differently and beautifully abled with a grace about him that people quickly recognised so that they felt at ease with him. Magnus got into the front passenger seat and Ross sat behind the wheel. Alex soon caught up and wheeled along side him. “Maybe I could develop a secret identity. If you’re going to stay on board you can’t afford any complications in your life whatsoever. Any one who saw Alex move. He was fuming because he realised that Magnus did own him in a sense because there was nothing he wanted more than to be part of the project. soon realised that he wasn’t disabled at all. The driver was waiting leaning against the side of the car. “No he wasn’t. There was a silence while he considered the idea. “Hi Ross. besides.

“He must have had a tax disc for the ‘Batmobile’ otherwise he might have been pulled over just when he was about to catch the Joker. Can you imagine some civil servant trying to work out the rateable value of the ‘Bat Cave’?” Magnus. The cops would have got him first. Alex drifted off to sleep. He had come third… again. They then drifted back even further to the time .“I suppose you are going to tell me the same goes for Peter Parker and Spiderman. maybe it was just an especially sharp bend.” The car carried on into the darkness on its long journey. In fact he had been training regularly for months and was now at the peak of his performance. He had been racing wheelchairs. Bruce was Bruce. He came out of his dream and his thoughts drifted back to Livvy and their time in the sports arena. and the reality of it was beginning to dawn on him. you don’t need one to fly. It was at the height of his training in the paralympic trials.” “Do planes have tax discs?… Will I need one?” Alex quipped. He 19 .when Alex had first met Magnus. they were becoming friends. had his arm hooked over behind the driver’s seat to turn himself towards Alex. He remembered the time well.” Alex was warming to this new relationship with Magnus. a year before. “Who’s going to check?” “You’re not suggesting we do something illegal are you?” “Tax discs are for motors. A sudden bump in the road awakened him. the joker was always in front and he didn’t have a tax disc either. He could remember just how he felt as he rested after a particular race. “Well. The pair continued to parry with each other as the kilometres rolled by. You don’t have a motor.” Alex had settled himself down into the corner against the door and the seat back. After a while during a lull in the conversation. it was as though having stood up for himself. “Naw. Parker was a news photographer… Well what about Batman and Bruce Ward? Bruce wasn’t in the news business. He had been racing well. in fact he was unlikely ever to forget it. Anyway. I don’t need a tax disc to walk around. He couldn’t just disappear as Bruce. He let his mind drift back to that time. he invented Batman. somebody had to own the mansion above the ‘Bat Cave’ and pay taxes on it. It wasn’t the other way around.exactly a year before and in almost the same place .

more able to sustain the pace and more able to manoeuvre their wheelchairs with ease.” Alex’s response was dull. for not doing better. Alex found the man’s assurance disturbing as he himself was in a state of self-doubt. that’s good.” Martin nodded towards the man. It was Magnus who had noticed the dynamics of how the particular nature of his disability held him back from leading the pack. I think he has a really interesting take on what’s holding you back. He saw that he was accompanied by a larger. Martin. and this instance was just such a one. It was then that he looked up to see his coach. They’re quite keen on helping to sponsor our team. He was at the top of his ability and yet he was feeling absolutely at rock bottom. He specialises in ergonomic design. “Alex. In one moment he would be beating himself up emotionally. Magnus. walking across the field towards him. when he looked back on that conversation. He pushed his irritation down and managed a smile as they approached. Now. he remembered it as a turning point in his life. He was not in a mood for socialising. The last thing he wanted to hear was something upbeat about a sport he was beginning to feel a distinct failure in.” Alex perked up at that point and took an interest. “Magnus watched you race in the last two events.” said Martin. His attitude had not passed Martin by yet his coach continued doggedly. Kowalczyk… ” “Call me. “Okay… Magnus represents a large innovative design company.knew he could do no better than he had just done. “Mr. Alex managed an acknowledgement that came out more as a grunt. with mud splattered on his leather shoes and trouser cuffs. He was being brutally honest with himself… and it hurt to do so. I’d like you to meet Magnus Kowalczyk. As the pair came nearer. more burley figure of a man who was probably in his early fifties. there were many who were faster. In another moment. he would be puzzled as to why his substantially increased efforts produced little improvement in his performance. 20 . Alex was shifting in his attitude towards himself but it was a near-violent ebb and flow. As good as he had been.” the stranger interjected… “Oh. Alex sensed an air of ease about the stranger despite his being overdressed. “Oh. It was Magnus who had first noticed that the problem arose from the shape of his body as a whole.

“that’s not necessarily so at all. after pondering Magnus’s words. On cornering and vying for position. “We would have to be careful with the appearance. As Magnus explained his theories to him in simple.” replied Magnus.It took someone who could stand apart to see the significance of the others having legs. but he began to warm to the older man as well. his endurance abilities and lightness began to show their advantage but Alex had to race people with enough legs left to give them balance and leverage in the chair. We wouldn’t be 21 .” “Are you saying that a wheelchair could be designed that took into account the restrictions of my condition?” “Wouldn’t be surprised. If you’re dealing with the same wind resistance and the propulsion is coming from your arms with the same angle of leverage as the others. “From what you’re saying. Alex’s torso was a tapered trunk. easy-to-understand terms.” “No. Alex not only began to feel better about himself. “Wouldn’t people say that it was because I had a superior wheelchair rather than seeing that it was just compensating for my body shape?” “Well they might indeed. the disadvantage was always that little bit too much. the others could outmanoeuvre him. there’s not much they could say.” “What if you did build such a thing. for the thrill of being in the competition. This restricted his movements so that no matter how much he trained. He was more successful in the marathon than in the sprints. He had to be strapped to the back of his chair for him to maintain enough stability to be able to manoeuvre and stay the course of the race. and that was a simple fact.” said Magnus. In my experience. “I can race for the sake of it. even though they were either paralysed or amputated lower down. and I started winning?” Alex asked. It’s just that the wheelchair that you’re using is basically a racy version of a conventional one.” he said. but I can forget about winning. when a designer starts to work from first principles… when he learns from what has gone on before but isn’t restricted by it… well… it can be amazing what can be done. I’m thinking of the recumbent bicycle which is banned from cycle racing because it changes the whole basis on which a bicycle works by lowering the wind resistance and so on. In the distance races. Without any legs at all.

Just then a man started towards them from the benches of the race organisers. Magnus. we could redesign the apparatus so that it would work better for you… and we’ll do that.an interesting activity . 22 .” “What do you mean?” asked Alex.” replied Magnus. “I think that’s a wonderful offer.” “Absolutely. “Well.” said Martin. about eleven?” asked Magnus. “Hmm. “Good.” Martin left them with a cheery wave over his shoulder. He looked at the young man steadily. “Wheelchair racing is an activity for which you are not fully suited. Whatever you need.” “What would I have to do?” Alex asked. Alex. ‘horses for courses’. hesitantly. Even two legged people. “Looks like I could get a train from the station near my house… Okay.for which your body-shape was absolutely ideal. Alex studied it briefly. So. I guess the best thing is to come over to the headquarters of Innovative Systems Design. “Looks like my attention is needed. feeling excited and at the same time a little overwhelmed.” Magnus looked quizzically at Martin. But just suppose there was an activity . “You two carry on. you have my backing.” said Martin.” “Oh…” Alex felt awkward with the metaphor. Then everyone else would have a handicap with respect to that. but it would be really effective for your individual make-up. “With your permission.” “Are you making me an offer?” Alex asked. and meet my design team. What I am talking about is an activity for which you were perfectly designed. that’s my company. “How about tomorrow. He turned to Martin.” he replied. I guess it literally means that some horses are better suited to flat racing and others are better suited to the steeplechase.” He looked shyly up from the map. he called out to Martin and gestured for him to come over to the benches. “I can’t help thinking. He produced a card which had a cleverly designed fold-out map on the back with a set of directions.” said Magnus. Magnus saw this and decided to be more pointed. “Well. When he had come near enough.doing that. We’d be doing something more subtle. “Yes I am. of course.” Magnus posed this proposition slowly.

” Magnus looked meaningfully over his shoulder. 23 . We’ll talk about that tomorrow as well. He had also had an encounter with his former coach and it had been somewhat subdued. “How did your meeting go with Martin?” Alex asked.” Magnus nodded and walked towards the benches where Martin was in conversation. “It was good value for money. Alex remained thoughtful. There are a couple of sponsorship items I want to discuss with Martin. “Yes I do.” came the reply at length. I guess it’s been a good salve for any ruffled feathers he might have. Alex.” replied Alex. Magnus knew he felt awkward about the way he had left. It was as though the man was speaking about something real rather than a supposition. He remembered then that the original purpose for their visit to the paralympic trials was for Magnus to complete some business with the racing team. Soon the powerful headlights bit lower into the black road surface as they began to climb a steep escarpment. “I’ll see you then. That’s because very few people have your body shape so it stands to reason that such an activity would not enter into people’s consideration or if it did. I can’t think what that would be. “Well I hope so. So it’s not surprising that it hasn’t come to your attention.. Alex. “Have you got something in mind?” he asked directly.” Magnus looked at his watch. but in the end he couldn’t afford to divide his time between the racing and his new project. The sponsorship deal has been very helpful to him.” “Okay Magnus.” Something in Magnus’s voice. The car rumbled slightly as it turned onto a narrow road jerking Alex out of his revere and back to the journey home.“Well. Alex watched him go then began wheeling his way over to join his friends. “I must be going Alex. His curiosity was overcoming his shyness.” he added as a way of drawing the young man out. he still felt guilty about it. “It went very well. they would regard it as impossible. Although he was absolutely certain he had done the right thing in leaving the team.” Alex replied. pulled Alex up short. “Of course not. It had been a hard decision to make.

.. .. He was aware that it was under the influence of the shadow that he had bought the vessel and 24 ... Eleven months before the drop had escaped and Darius’s wife had become infected..” Magnus added. Still.. there was a sense of unease with it............. He actually felt awkward about the whole thing....... Indeed the sponsorship had been a means to that end.... It stopped so that Magnus could get out to open a large set of gates.. Darius was being driven back from the airport... It was helpful for him to hear Magnus describe the deal as a compensation... they had found one too........ He had found a purpose to his life. all a couple of years younger than him.... more a making sure that we didn’t damage the team by taking you out of it.. He was troubled by a darkness.. Ross drove the car through into the dark gardens beyond....... He also knew the urgency behind why Magnus had done it.... He had seen how the money had gone into the program and had provided training and a sense of excitement and belonging for three new boys.. Unease was more disturbing for Darius than it was for others. and that he had done so even before he had started the sponsorship.. It was as though his love and care for the people of this valley had separated him away from another part of himself...“Don’t get me wrong. He was mulling over the negotiations he had made on its routing in the months to come.... It just didn’t sit well with his sense of fair play.. a part over which he was losing control...” Actually Alex hadn’t. Darius had planned it well and the voyages had been accepted without question by the Captain....... The day trip had been an eye-opener for him. He now realised that Magnus had planned his recruitment... The car reached the top of the escarpment and soon swept round a bend..... as a direct result of his decisions.... You understand that don’t you.. “I don’t really see it as a purchase. Now... a insidious shadow that haunted him. His mind was brooding on his mission to Morocco and the purchase he had made there of a small freighter.... The vessel was in good condition and Darius had been particularly interested in the high forecastle with its unobstructed deck on top...

’ At first sight be the obvious reason why was the startling contrast between the abundance here and the disarray of the rest of the country would. The visitations had a practical effect as well.he was losing the ability to contain or even understand what he was going to do with it. The driver who had sped along the twisting dangerous road up to that point. many times. The region was rapidly becoming known as Kasderouss. ‘The Valley of the Angels. He was home. Darius smiled to himself and sighed. Often a potential problem would suddenly and mysteriously be solved after the appearance in the air above of one of these beautiful beings. had slowed to a respectful pace as they had left the pass. Also too. 25 . Then… wonderfully… the means to put the ideas into action would somehow appear. new ideas would somehow enter a community and be whispered around. This happened time and time again so that. There was another reason however… angels actually had been seen here. Small. The car turned out of the high mountain pass and into his home region. smooth and well maintained. His heart lifted. over the last few years. the grace of Allah could be seen in undeniable display everywhere in the region. The green carpet of healthy crops spread right up to the jumbled rocks at the base of the high cliff faces. Ideas that would have needed an Angel’s perspective. The people had seen them and they in turn felt seen by the messengers of the Great One. Darius was now at ease with himself again. He settled down into the back seat and watched the landscape go by with pleasure. They felt that their lives were honoured and respected. well kept villages dotted the landscape and people could be see going about their business. even though the road was now straight.

David.Chapter 3 Atmospherics The day that Alex first met Magnus at the paralympics trials was also a significant day for Livvy. was driving her to the house of the Thomas family who had trained Rusty since he was a puppy. her father. They had trained many generations of guide dogs in their Hampshire country home and were well known for their intelligent and alert prodigies. Livvy’s parents were lucky to have made 26 . It was then that she first met Rusty who was to become her guide-dog and trusted friend.

David understood this yet he still found the gap with Livvy difficult to understand even with the wisdom of his 45 years. There are lots of rhododendrons and laurels. The conversation between them had long since died. He decided he would try once again to re-establish his relationship with her. it seemed that the vague impressions that she could see kept her eyes aligned and attentive in a distant sort of way. She was now 17 and he could feel a gap that had grown between them.” Livvy’s father always used the same formula to try and break 27 . he felt a close bond with her as a young adult. Even though she was virtually blind. Livvy appeared to be looking out the window at the passing woodland through which could be seen large ivy-clad houses. through leafy evergreen woods. he often wondered what kept her so engrossed in her surroundings. Somehow it was different with Livvy.enquiries at just the time when Rusty was due to be introduced to his first owner. “We’re travelling down a narrow road. Livvy’s older sister Janey. “Every so often there is the drive of a large house going off to one side or other. it was more that she seemed frustrated with him for some reason. Livvy and her father had set out from Richmond early that day and had soon left the environs of London behind as they drove south-west.” he began telling her. had passed through a similar uncomfortable phase and now. he couldn’t find a way to get through to her. This might have been because David had given his attention to negotiating the numerous bends of a narrow country lane but there was something else as well. He estimated that there would be about half an hour before they got to the Thomas’s house. He glanced over at his daughter as they came to a straighter stretch of road. Sometimes you can get a glimpse of the houses through the trees. Such transitional rifts always seemed to crash somewhere into the teenage years with the recognisable signpost. The gap between them seemed more than the normal rift which enabled the inevitable transition from childhood to adulthood. Although he had tried many times and in many different ways. The flowers are beautiful at this time of year. ‘Daddy you’re such a blockhead…’ or whatever the current catch-phrase was. David had researched the nature of her condition thoroughly. It wasn’t as though she had really indicated that she thought he was a blockhead. even though she was 21and at university. and knowing that her sight was limited to the dimmest of black and white impressions.

puzzled and increasingly irritated. take a little interest in you?!” He was now almost shouting. “Well sure Dad. there’s wear and tear on the car. They would spend a lot of time together with him describing their surroundings. and felt a thrill as she watched the change in his aura.” Livvy replied. she used the language of colour to describe her rapidly developing sense of the light which surrounded every living presence within her vicinity. Now on the threshold of adulthood. Her father might have been speaking out of vexation but for her it was the beginning of a breakthrough. ‘Oh I’ll deem to have a mild conversation with you if you take an interest in me!” Livvy watched in amazement as her fathers aura became at first even more intensely red and torrid as he began this short tirade and then a calm green under-layer emerged with the red substance rolling around on the top as he finished. She let the simple ‘Thanks Dad. “What d’ you mean.through to her.” She felt some satifaction that she was finally getting through to him. “ Here I am taking the day off work. “Thanks Dad. Why didn’t she appreciate his taking the time to explain her surroundings to her? “Don’t you like me telling you about what is going on around you?” He asked.” hang in the air. her perceptive ability was developing with the same steady and rapid pace that her physical body had gone through as she grew from being a small child to a young woman. Although she had never seen colours in a visual sense. buying the petrol. and you say. She had been aware of the gradual change in her father’s atmosphere since they had left Richmond. “I might show a little more interest if you took a little more interest in me. This was cause and effect at work and she was in control Her father waited. your mother and I spent weeks finding this dog for you and he won’t be cheap either. 28 .” she said winding his frustration up a notch. It had gone from pale blue with vivid pulses to a steady red rotating swirl. It fascinated her. driving you all the way down here. It used to work so well. She found the texture of atmospheric imagery that was occurring within the car even more interesting than the voluminous shimmering of the woodland outside the car. nonchalantly. voicing his exasperation.

It was a new love. Wow. It shifted a bit to the green end. I do just out of duty?” He fumed. It was total perplexity. “Do you think all I do for you. He had paused. “Well. She heard the humour in his voice and the relief. They became swirling colours moving down to her father’s torso before coming over to her to enfold her. “I’ll look after your granddaughters for you. She relaxed in them. even though you were never shown. and it emerged around his throat. this time without any pause whatsoever. It was white and steady. I wonder what that is. For the first time in many months she felt happy. There was a silence between them for a couple of miles. “After the experience of you two.” He said. 29 . pretending to speak through gritted teeth. which looped around the whole of his presence. He took his eyes off the road for a split second to glance at her. “You do what you do from your heart.” She ventured. and the second as a dynamic shimmering green over his heart. and the best way you can pay him back is to look after his granddaughters. “You know my father actually didn’t really look after me… He hardly saw me at all.” She reached across herself and laid her hand unerringly on his shoulder and snuggled face towards him with her cheek on her wrist. The shift had been made.” He spoke rather dully. He wouldn’t have done all this for me. sweetly. Her eyes were looking sightlessly at a spot just in front of his chest yet he felt exposed by her attentive watchfulness boring into him. Livvy felt rather than saw a warm red join the white. How could she do that? She wasn’t even looking at him.” Her inner sense picked up a brown swirl. little darts of purple were piercing the green. The love that a father would have for his daughter as she became a young woman. He wasn’t one for dwelling on such things and it made him uncomfortable talking about it. during which David felt a return of love for his daughter.“Well I’m your daughter.” she retorted. your father looked after you.” She spoke with sudden warmth and emotion. The brown stuff seemed to be an atmospheric caught between the red of anger and the green of calm. He felt his daughter’s gaze penetrating right through him. like the love he had for Janey. The first she saw as yellow dancing over his forehead. “Well Daddy. “You’re supposed to look after me. she thought to herself. I think I’d like grandsons. It was then that she saw the serious bit even before he spoke. her father had lost all words.” She watched to see what his aura would do.

“Yes Livvy?” he answered.” Her attention was on the red and white swirls as she spoke. and being interested in them. I’m really grateful to you for all the things that you do for me. she had been much more in his. David had suddenly understood where the gap had come in. “If you’re interested in someone. “There’s a difference between caring for someone. “Looking after me is doing all those things that you do for me that you were describing. 30 . keeping his eyes on the road. a slight agitation stirred in the swirls.” She went on. yet she was reassured enough by them to open the subject which she had longed for. remained steady. who could she share it with? The red and white swirls. “You care for houses and things by thinking about what they might need and giving it to them.” The swirls settled down again. She spoke slowly as if not wanting to disturb their enfolding energy. he had never really been in her life.” The brown cloud returned and the red and white enfoldment withdrew. Being interested in who I am. what I am feeling at any one time. a definite white light dawned in her father’s brown atmospheric. sitting back straight in her seat.“Dad?” she enquired softly. and Dad. “I ask you questions about you all the time and you then tell me about yourself. feeling more cautious without the surround of the red and white swirl. “Uh-huh” David murmured encouragingly. His daughter had stopped asking him about himself and so he had unconsciously assumed that she wasn’t interested any more. Would you tell me all that if I didn’t ask?” At this. That was why he had felt shut out of her life! It suddenly occurred to him that from his own perspective. is about wanting to know what I think about.” David answered defensively. “I mean its wonderful that you do that. it’s not about what they need. how I see the world. what you’ve been doing. “I don’t understand the difference?” David was genuinely puzzled and it showed in his voice.” Livvy went on.” “How can I know about all those things if you don’t tell me. “Well. “You could ask me…” The brown even took on a tinge of green. it is about who they are. If she could not share this topic with her father. and I know that there is so much else that you do as well. “Well…” she slowed deliberately until the red returned a little to brown. what you’re thinking. You tell me how you feel. the brown in his aura changing a little the red direction.

Here he was. she thought. 31 . This was all that she needed from him. By the time they reached the entrance to the Thomas’s country house. It reminded him of an experience he’d had when doing maths as a boy. shape and colour of living etheric presence. sorry love. From then on he failed to understand how anyone could miss the very thing that a few minutes before had been so mystifying to him. He of course. for she had opened up an entirely new area in his understanding. worldly wise and quite accomplished. the true nature of her world. Her father had listened intently with interest and no hint of scepticism. is that what a little white lie looks like. for compared with what would he be giving it? She expected no questions.David felt embarrassed by the simplicity of what she had said. The world which for her consisted of the texture. The world which in one sense she shared with everybody. Perhaps it was the notion of receiving wisdom from a 17 year old girl. “Yes Dad?” she responded simply and without pause. He was then a boy and the teacher was grown-up. noticed nothing but a deep settling in himself as his daughter began to open her heart to tell him of the world in which she lived. Then all of a sudden. They drove on for the next five minutes. That was easy to live with. He had often found himself stuck with a complex concept just as he found himself stuck with Livvy’s question now. “Livvy?” David finally broke the silence. his aura had almost faded to nothing and without it she could hardly discern anything of him at all. the road back there was a bit tricky and it needed my full attention. She needed no advice.” Her father’s aura had suddenly bounced back and this time there was a bright purple blob in the middle of it. “What’s it like to be you?” This time it was Livvy’s red and white swirling presence that surrounded and enfolded her father. and the light would come on. Livvy had outlined. Um. the maths teacher would demonstrate something. “Oh. for the very first time in her life to anyone. “Dad?… Are your there?” Livvy was genuinely puzzled. being taught basic arithmetic by a slip of a girl. for how could he give it? She wanted no approval. 45. She was very rarely aware of her own aura and it was only at times such as this that it caught her attention. and in another shared with no other that she had yet met.

each shot showed changes in wing shape consistent with the movement of living birds. “How much should I tell the boy?” he mused aloud even though he was alone. The first set of five had been taken by satellite over Montanistan four months previously. broken by the high steep cliffs that were characteristic of that distant Asian country. Some distance away their shadows were cast on the ground. They showed the wind scultured topography of an arid plain. Short of them being ‘Jurassic Park’ escapees they had to be man-made. they had observed the same objects behaving as if they were out exercising each afternoon. yet each consecutive frame showed small changes in the wing shape that were consistent with the movement of living birds.David really did need time to digest what his daughter had told him. Going in to investigate the satellite photos. The turn up the drive to the Thomas’s house came at just the right moment. Magnus was bending down over some photographs and looking at them as if for the first time despite having seen them a thousand times. the director of Innovative Systems Design. the three ‘birds’ could be seen again with a similar resolution to the satellite shots. A highly significant part of the SAS report was that throughout their observations. wings outspread in the centre of each section chosen for enlargement. Again. the pair had not heard a single sound in the 32 . was in his office. Something practical and pragmatic to do! Chapter 4 Mysterious Fliers Magnus. They were certainly not works of art and yet they held a fascination for Magnus. Taken from the vantage point of a cliff top with a telephoto lens from about two kilometres away. The photographs were very pixelated. calculations showed that they had wingspans of some ten metres. The next series of four were taken by a patrol of SAS operatives in the same area. Three bird-like objects could be seen. They had been enlarged to the limit. showing that they were flying at a considerable height. Tiny as they were in the photographs. It was the day after he had found Alex and that particular young man was due in this office in half an hour. Now was the time to meet Livvy’s new dog.

the ‘birds’ were to be seen again flying in the moonlight. The rock had steadied the camera perfectly. The report then went on to describe the excellent health of the boy. At one particular point. One of the operatives rested the 1000 mm lens on a rock and pointed it at the moon and waited. Alex’s report stood out well amongst all the others. He had an IQ of about 115. This resulted in a length of 99 cm and a weight of 35 Kg. To their surprise. Internal Intelligence had managed to obtain it through their Canadain counterpart. the ‘birds’ had flown across the moon a couple of times before this one chance shot where he had pressed the shutter on the Nikon at precisely the right moment. through the translucent wings measuring 20 cm on the actual photo. There in sharp silhouette against the moonlight.still desert air. he would likely have had a height in the region of 176 cm and a weight of about 64 kg. was the image of the head and outstretched arms of a man… a man with a tapering torso. He had been trolling through Immigration files of entries into the United Kingdom. Magnus had several other reports of people with similar conditions but none would really have been up to the task. consisting of the complete absence of any leg tissue whatsoever and a considerably underdeveloped pelvic region. Not a big man. they were flying with the full moon behind them. He had actually been looking to see if anyone with a description like that of the flier in the photograph had already come in from Montanistan. Apparently. The cause of this deformity was unknown. It was then that he came across Alex’s details from when the young man had landed at Heathrow from Canada some six months before. The patrol had gone down into the valley under the cover of darkness. Of 33 . and below that… nothing… nothing at all… nothing but the moonlight shining though the translucent fan shape of a tail assembly. thought Magnus as he translated the metric into 5’9 weighing 10st. The report described Alex as now being 18 years old. This time it was a single night shot. The report then described his deformity as being prenatal. Not a ‘peep’. with a very sound cardiovascular and pulmonary system and very well developed arm and chest muscles.’ The last photo still made Magnus’s hair stand on end. He had been at a point of giving up when a parallel search that he had been making came up trumps. not even the faintest hint of the drone of propellors had come from the direction of the ‘birds. It was another taken by the SAS crew. Magnus next read through Alex’s medical record again. Had he been born with legs.

Alex had timed his visit as well as he could. There was a long history of military co-operation between these two countries. He knew that it would be hugely beneficial for the boy.. There was a projector and a screen on the wall.. He looked up at the discreet sign...... he thought to himself...... Innovative Systems Design PLC. A bright and efficient young woman at the reception desk spotted him as he entered and came over and directed him to a lift to the first floor... ... On leaving the lift.’ translated Magnus to himself.. He put the papers down walked across the room and through the door.. freshly positioned on the three concrete steps up to the spacious pavement leading to the front door.. The train schedule would have got him there twenty minutes too early so he had wheeled himself around the area before going to the ISD building..equal importance he was a Commonwealth citizen...... He had used the twenty minutes well in this excursion as it was now just at the agreed time for his meeting with Magnus.. He now knew that he was in the right place.... I guess I’m expected.. followed by a logo made up of the letters ISD.... very strong. as well as various items on the table. Alex had no time 34 .. for his self esteem and for his quality of life. He was accurate in his assumption... Magnus looked up at the clock.... It was only a few minutes wheeling from the train station.. he entered the third door on the left which was slightly ajar.’ Magnus had made up his mind..... ‘If God wanted to make the perfect human being for this job. Alex arrived at the long.. The second proposition he would leave for later in the hope that he would never have to put it to him. low building. He smiled when he saw a brand new wheelchair ramp. He would put the first proposition to Alex.” she instructed reassuringly...... very healthy and all this in a package weighing not much more than a sack of potatoes.. Whilst Magnus was looking at the photographs. The area was an industrial complex consisting of modern well-used buildings usually involved in businesses related to supplying the nearby military base... A slightly built greying man was seated at a table. he would have made Alex... It was time... ‘Smart. “Turn left as you come out and three doors down on your left...

to peruse the latter for just as he entered the room the greying man stood up. Magnus switched off the lights. “has been a dream of Mankind since time can be remembered.” “Hello Alex.“Oh. May I introduce you to Fred Dexter? Fred is our aviation expert here at ISD. Fred?” “Yes I am. Magnus. “You ready to start. “I’ll have a coffee. another door opened and in walked Magnus.is going to come in quite useful.” answered Fred walking over to the slide projector and turning it on. He was born in Italy in 1452 and made this sketch around 1506 about thirteen years before he died.then catching himself . He also made this engraving which I will come back to later.as you are about to see . He also takes a special interest in human-powered flight which .” He said . tea? coffee?… (then remembering Alex’s age)… fruit juice?” “Fruit juice please.” Fred added.” requested Alex not because of his age but due to the strict regime that Martin. “Well. Alex took his extended hand warmly and responded shyly. “Human powered flight. his curiosity having been tweaked. A thrilling shock but a shock all the same.” (a slide of a Leonardo engraving) “At first people watched birds and thought of ways of building machines that could imitate them. we might as well get right down to business. wings melting as he approached the Sun.” said Fred. Interestingly enough it was Leonardo da Vinci who came the closest to proposing a viable possibility even though he was much earlier than many who suggested much less feasible solutions. pardon my manners. throwing up an image of Icarus. Is that Okay with you?” Alex nodded in reply. but there’s something I want you to see first. “Good” said Magnus. The significance of Magnus’s last words were already beginning to sink in with a shock. kept him on. “So good to see you. Now I know you are here to help us with a new design for a racing wheelchair.” (a slide of the well known figure of a man with outstretched arms fitting exactly into a circle) “A century after Leonardo. pouring out the drinks. Magnus saw this. “Alex!” exclaimed Magnus almost as if his appearance was a complete surprise. another brilliant Italian named Giovanni Alphonso Borelli was born in Naples in 1608. He is widely acknowledged as the father of modern Bio-mechanics because of his posthumously published work 35 .” he began. his trainer.

He made over two thousand flights. some of 36 . dandelion seeds and Frisbees. he built a larger one that was able to do the same feat with his elderly coachman. Four years later. “Our story now takes us a little further north to Switzerland where we have the Bernoullis family in the eighteenth century. warming to Fred.) “Daniel showed that due to fluid dynamics. that is round on the bottom.‘De Motu Animalium’ in 1680” (A slide of an engraving showing levers. It was not until 1849 that he managed to build a glider that carried a young boy from one side of a valley to another. “Great Alex. “Our next stop in history goes even further north to Yorkshire where a certain baronet named Sir George Cayley became very interested in flight. widely regarded as the world’s first true aviator.” responded the amused Alex. beams and birds in cross-section. Now. people thought .” “Thanks Fred.) “A lesser known aspect of this work however is that he demonstrated that for a man to fly like a bird he would need a hundred and eighty centimetre long breast bone and one sixth of his body weight in Pectoral muscles. What Borelli said was approximately true in one way. He was born in 1773 and had worked out the principles of fixed-wing aerodynamics by the time he was in his early twenties. We focus in particular on Daniel Bernoullis and his famous work ‘Hydrodynamica’ which he completed in 1734.then you would need a lot more muscle than we have at our disposal and they would have to be arranged in very different ways. What he meant was that to be able to get off the ground and fly at will . All kinds of things fly with no muscles at all. Before this. The true secret of flight was the differential pressure resulting from air flowing over a wing with the camber on the top. That’s those big bulging muscles on your chest Alex. The cross-section of a wing therefore should be like that of a boat.with no reliance on the wind or thermals or gliding from a height . leaves. that’ll save some time. This is now common school physics but at the time it really was a breakthrough. “From this point onwards we see a steady development of fixed wing avionics with notable stars such as Germany’s Otto Lilienthal.that ships sailed on a sea of water and bird sailed on a sea of air. but not in another. I don’t have very many muscles so I tend to know the names of the ones I do have.rather logically I might add .” (A slide of the two brothers looking at a diagram of airflow over a wing. the opposite was true.

them well over a quarter of a kilometre before he was killed in a flying accident in 1898.” (A slide of Lilienthal perched on a cliff top in a very beautiful early version of a hang glider.) “Five years later came the famous flight at Kitty Hawk by the Wright Brothers. Lilienthal - particularly because of the development of photojournalism which enabled the pictures of his achievements to be seen all over the world - had a huge influence on the Wright Brothers. The main difference between his approach and that of the Wright Brothers, was that Lilienthal believed that the only way to learn about flying was to make something that flew, fly in it and then make something better based on that experience. One problem with this pragmatic approach is that you can get led up a blind alley, the other is that one mistake and your dead, which is exactly what happened. The Wright Brothers on the other hand were reflectors. They stuck to very sound scientific methods and thought through everything in detail beforehand. They didn’t really think of anything new, Daimler had invented the petrol engine nearly twenty years before and Lilienthal and others had done all the groundwork on wing shape, propellor shapes and how to achieve stabilisation and control. What the Wright brothers did was to build a wind tunnel and test models on it and work things out with safety paramount in their minds. In this way they could put all of the previous ideas together so that they could make sure it worked before they put a man in it.” Fred paused for breath and looked to see how his audience was doing. They were both attentive. He continued. “Modern aerodynamic theory tells us that a fit human being is just on the edge of the weight-to-strength ratio which draws a line between an eagle, which can fly and a horse, which cannot. A horse of course is much stronger than an eagle, but even its enormous power would not be enough to lift its massive weight off of the ground. (Slide of an Ostrich) Some birds have given up the ability to fly in order to develop weight and strength. This gave them advantages in certain arenas of our earth’s environment but they lost the ability to fly as a consequence.” (back to the slide Leonardo engraving of the Man fitting into a circle) “The way a human being is constructed, with his centre of gravity here,” (Fred pointed to a point a little below the figure’s navel) “nearly half of his weight is taken up by his legs. These are made up of strong heavy bones designed for carrying the weight of the rest of the body. They are designed for

37

jumping, landing, running, stopping and turning and being able to take falls without breaking very easily. All these functions are far more important in his designed make-up than any advantage that lightness would give. The legs are also equipped with a wide variety of strong bulky muscles designed for twisting, turning, climbing, running, jumping, balancing, kicking and even grasping and digging. Again the advantage to his design that all these abilities give, far outweigh any advantage that lightness would give. Another point, the feet are some 150 cm below the heart, so quite a strong and heavy circulation system is required to feed these strong muscles and bones and then to lift the blood back to the heart. Are you getting the picture… that flight was not a thought that was in the mind of our maker?” Again Fred paused and regarded his audience. This time he noticed that Alex was especially transfixed as the relevance to himself of what he was hearing began to dawn on him. Fred continued even more pointedly. “So a man weighs, say 75 Kg and if he is very fit about 34 kg of that will be legs.” (forward again to the slide of the ostrich) “Have a look at this guy, look at those legs. Similar height to us, similar weight, walks on two legs but you can still see remnants of the aerodynamic nature of those legs. The only reason he can’t fly is that he hasn’t bothered to do it for the last million years and his wings have shrunk though lack of use.” (Now a slide of a lightly built aircraft with long upwardly curved wings and a tiny round pod underneath.) “This is a modern human-powered aircraft. This particular one has managed to take off from standing and fly just over two kilometres in still air, entirely under the power of this man’s leg power.” (Pointing to the under slung Pod) “He’s in there peddling madly away in order to drive the propeller. We can’t get rid of our legs, so the only way we are going to get off the ground is to find a way of converting the legs’ enormous power into forward motion through the air. If we can go fast enough we can create enough lift on the wings to get us off the ground. This is the balance point that we are on. Put the average person in this craft, and they would have a job getting it to roll faster than a walking pace before running out of breath. Put a well trained, small proportioned athlete inside and you might have a chance if the weather is good. In 1979 for instance, US racing cyclist Bryan Allen pedalled the Gossamer Albatross across the English channel - a distance of 37 kms. The record, designed by my hero Mark Drela at MIT, was called Daedalus. It weighed 32 kilos and flew from Crete to

38

the island of Santorin, a distance of 115 kilometres.” Fred was now on a roll, this time hardly pausing for effect. “Hang gliding is another thing.” (slide of a beautiful mountain scene with a distant hang glider silhouetted against the sky) “Here we are relying on the uplift of air currents to carry the glider, and given the right conditions these craft, have reached altitudes of as much as 6,000 metres and stayed up for as long as fifteen hours. In these the pilot shifts his weight around to control the flight.” Fred stopped here and motioned to Magnus who switched on the lights. “I trust you are getting the relevance, all present considered.” He added waiting to observe Alex’s response. Alex nodded intently. He knew what was coming. It had to be or they wouldn’t be taunting him like this. He had no legs, hardly a pelvis even. He was a small proportioned athlete, who had made good use of the power of his strong muscular arms to good effect over the last several years. They must have figured out that he was well inside the weight-to-strength ratio. It had to be. As if reading his thoughts, and no doubt it wasn’t hard to do so, Fred added the last piece. “Of course there is one thing that you’ve got that the ostrich doesn’t have Alex. His brain is about the size of a pea and most of that is dedicated to pecking things off of the ground. The human head weighs about 6 kg but it brings an advantage into the picture that changes the whole weight-tostrength thing right around. The ability to think… to find and design light weight materials and arrange them in such a way that someone like you… unencumbered by the weight of heavy legs, could fly like the hang glider, but far more dextrous and compact… indeed, we have designs which we believe will enable you to use the wings themselves to drive you forward.” “Alex, how many pull-ups can you do?” this was Magnus. “What? Like pulling my chin up to a bar?” “Yes Alex, Chin-ups? How many can you do?” “Oh, about ten minutes I guess.” “Ten minutes you guess. What happens after ten minutes?” “I get bored and I go and do something else.” “You get bored do you. Do you realise that the average person can probably do only one or two if any at all. A really good practised athlete can do about a hundred and then it feel like his arms are going to come off. You just get bored after about ten minutes.” Magnus went behind a chair and picked up a large sack

39

of potatoes. “Here Alex grab this.” He walked over and placed the bag in Alex’s arms. “That’s thirty kilos of potatoes. The same weight as your legs would have been. How many chin-ups do you think you could do with that tied around your waist?” Alex held the bag and looked quite surprised. “Gosh! I see what you mean Magnus. Not many.” “That’s a practical example of how much difference your weight-to-strength ratio makes with respect to holding yourself up against gravity Alex. Doing endless chin-ups without getting tired is like flying. A superb athlete getting exhausted after a hundred chin ups is like that propeller-driven human-poweredflight machine. One or two kilometres at the most and the pilot is absolutely knackered. It takes a wing area of about eight interior doors to get one person off of the ground Alex. With you it would only be half that. Not only that but the cross-section of the struts and a lot of other attendant problems would only be a quarter what they have to be for a full sized pilot. ” Alex went to put the sack of potatoes down on the floor. He could lift it easily with his strong arms but the weight would have pulled his body off of the chair if Magnus hadn’t quickly helped him. “Ever since Sir George’s time, we have concentrated, rightly I would add, on fixed-wing, steady-aerodynamics. I say rightly, because 99.999% of aviators, had large, heavy legs. You’re different Alex. With you we can explore semiflexible wing, unsteady-aerodynamics. You’ll be able to glide, but use those strong arms of yours to move you through the air and to control your flight as well… What do you think?” “Don’t rush him, Fred. You’ve only just introduced the idea.” Magnus came in, much to Alex’s relief. “Anymore tea, coffee, juice?” There was a brief period of silence finally broken by Alex himself. “I think, Magnus, that if I am going to be the fit, ideally- proportioned athlete needed to get this project off the ground… that I had better stick to Martin’s regime. I’ll have the fruit juice!”

40

Chapter 5
Rusty
The car rolled up the Thomas’s tree lined gravel drive and stopped outside the large three story Victorian house. David Johnson, Livvy’s father, got out to open the door for his daughter. He needn’t have. She was already out of the car before he had even come around to her side. After the conversation that they had just had in which Livvy had revealed to him something of her extraordinary perceptive abilities, he looked at this act of self- sufficiency with new eyes. Dougal Thomas, having heard the sound of their approaching car on the gravel, came out to greet them as they walked to the house. He came from around the back as they approached the walkway to the front door. “Hello. Welcome,” he exclaimed warmly. They exchanged introductions and Livvy took an immediate liking to him. There was a certain quality in his atmosphere that she hadn’t been aware of in anyone else before. She would come to know it well in the future and indeed it would become an integral part of her own make up. It was the special atmosphere that is generated between a dog and a human when they have had a lengthy working relationship together. “Perhaps it’s best if you come in through the back. I have my muddy boots on.” Dougal began to retrace his steps. “Sure,” replied David, “I expect the dogs are out that way as well.” “Yes that’s right,” continued Dougal. “we have a stable at the back that’s all kitted out for them. From there we have direct access onto the fields. The guidedogs spend quite a bit of time indoors as well of course, as that’s going to be more their work place rather than running around in fields.” “Well, the one that Livvy has will be out and about a lot. She has quite an affinity for the out-of-doors.” Livvy’s father was holding her by the hand to

41

guide her through the brick arch into the stable yard behind. She didn’t need much guiding. She could follow their auras easily but what she wouldn’t be aware of in this way was the inanimate mass of the brickwork or the opening through it. Livvy saw Rusty before they did. She noticed a vivid aura shining through the paler hue of what she knew to be a bush. It had a similar consistency to the new and special tone that she had noticed in Dougal Thomas’s aura. The two men just saw the bush. “I know he’s here someplace,” said Dougal, starting off in another direction. “There he is!” cooed Livvy. She was bending over slightly, both palms resting on her knees. “Hello there.” Dougal, stopped and looked over in surprise. He knew of the hiding place but it was certainly not the first place he would have looked. The bush stirred and Rusty’s yellow Labrador face peered out. Livvy noticed the quizzical brown pattern appear in Mr Thomas’s atmosphere. “I heard him panting,” she explained untruthfully. She turned her attention back to the dog. “Hello there.” Rusty fully emerged from the bush. Now fully woken up, he came quickly over to her wagging his tail and sniffing her outstretched hand eagerly. She threw her arms around him. The purpose of their journey to the Thomas’s house was for this to be their first meeting. The plan was that they would spend the afternoon together and decisions would then be made about whether it was a good match before working out the timing of the acquisition and other details. Dougal put Rusty’s harness on and showed Livvy how to hold the guiding handle. She was really excited now. This was to be her first guide-dog and the full wonder of it was now striking her. She had not really had much contact with animals before but the kinship quickly became unmistakable. It was a kinship born out of the fact that she used the same senses that the animals did. “I think the best thing to do,” suggested Dougal, “is to go for a walk across the fields. You take Rusty in front and we’ll follow along behind and make sure that you are all right.” .......................................................................

42

Rusty had been asleep under the bush for about an hour. He was vaguely aware of the man going about the stable yard but it was a warm day and he was looking for some shade. This was a relatively new hidaway but he was coming to like it. The smells of the dry leaves that he was lying on, the chalky smell of the brick wall behind and the aroma of the leaves of the bush itself all made the spot a very pleasant place for a dog to lie undisturbed. Rusty’s highly senstive nose and ears created a world for him that was very different from the one that we live in. His interest was largely occupied with smells and sounds and the visual world that hold our attention was to him a contextual one in which the other more interesting things could happen. Like Livvy, he too was aware of the atmospheres and auras that enveloped living things. Rusty knew that he was being trained to lead and to guide. Those instincts which dated back to his wild pack nature had been skilfully drawn on by Dougal over many months. Rusty had come to realise that the man was strangely blind to smells and auras. He seemed rather deaf as well. Many times Rusty would hear noises. He would prick his ears up with interest and look up but the man would have noticed nothing. The same was true of atmospheres. The man would take him into places with the most hostile of atmospheres, ones which his own wild instincts recognised as being dangerous, needing caution and alertness… and the man would behave as if he were in his own home in front of the fire. At first Rusty thought that the man wanted to be guided in these worlds of which he was obviously unaware; but no, instead, the man kept drawing his attention back into the visual world. Interesting and meaningful smells?… no response. Fascinating and even alarming sounds?… no response. Disturbing intents in passing peoples atmospheres?… no response. It was all about seeing things that might be bumped into or stumbled over. His training was about leading the man down the flat hard surfaces which lay along side the wide paths which the herds of large, shiny, noisy, smelly things with no auras travelled; for this was how he experienced cars. He learned that he mustn’t stray into their path… ever. He learned about the places where the paths for cars met one another and where the flat surfaces ended. There, if you waited, the cars would stop. When they did that, then you could cross their path, but only then. It was all visual. He couldn’t make sense of it in any other world. Cars didn’t stop for smells, they didn’t turn their heads for noises… what you

43

an exciting vibrant one and then they would turn and go in.... Although this young woman was fully engaged in his world. Well… trust and obey.. about how to lead the man to not bump into objects… but the smell of the objects was of no concern.... he would feel her asking him to take her through a particular door. 44 .. she called to him. entrancing atmosphere. In this particular dream there was a smaller younger human... about finding doors in rooms....... So it was that as he slept under the bush. That was his job in the pack... She could smell all the delightful things that he could. he also sensed her blindness. he seemed very good at perceiving the world of sight..... Atmospheres too were real to her. “There he is… Hello there!” Rusty got up.. Rusty had come to love Livvy even before he met her. And sounds too.... then stretched himself and walked out of his dream and into her arms....... Other times they would go past a door and in passing sense a glowing..had to do was to stop and wait. She would move a tiny fraction.. She had already come to live in his dream-world days before he met her in person.. alert to the slightest sound.. dreams were not distinct from wakefulness but rather one flowed into the other...... She was wonderful.. The funny thing was........ ..... her inability to see in the sighted world. sounds and atmospherics that his waking world was. a female... If an interesting sound attracted his attention… no… pay attention to what you see in front of your nose.... as insensitive as the man was to what was interesting. That was fine. a minor detail.... He learned about stairs.. Naturally his dream was made up of the same smells.. In his dream... Just as his dream-world and his conscious world flowed one into the other.. She didn’t get down and revel in them but she responded to them just the same.. he could look after that for her. It seemed that the man could see even better than he himself could see. When they stopped then you could go in front of them. For him. then she would sense the atmosphere and pull back just as his instincts were telling him to do. Rusty drifted into a dream as he lay snoozing under the bush.

“How much can your daughter see?” asked Dougal. after he was satisfied that Livvy understood how to use the harness.” Dougal assured her. It’s made so that people can get over the fence but not animals.” Dougal said to Livvy’s father as they stood back and watched. “What is it Rusty?” she asked. His aura was so clear and vivid to her that she was easily able to bend down and pat him. “I’ve done this one many times with Rusty. In her mind’s eye. She sensed from Rusty that she was meant to go on. He was remembering that she was the first to spot the dog under the bush and he had just watched her put her hand straight to the bottom step of the stile and then pat Rusty directly without having to feel around for him. “Dad?” She called back gently. “Oh well done Rusty.“Why don’t you walk on ahead with Rusty and we’ll follow along behind. love. The path led to a stile over the fence. It projected out and touched something. she saw his aura and it carried his intent. nudging Rusty who immediately set off down the lane. She then felt for and picked up the harness and they started off again.” she responded. “Okay! I’d love to.” “What will Rusty do?” “Rusty will follow. she sensed this and slowed down herself. Never having come across a stile before. Rusty then leapt in one bound to the top of the stile. That is what is called a stile. she was a bit uncertain what to do. they were already beginning to do even before they met. There’s a fence there. “Let’s see how they do. He was puzzled. “What do I do here?” “It’s a bit like a ladder.” suggested Dougal. Livvy’s trust in Rusty was absolute from the beginning. puzzled. 45 . Their atmospheres were already beginning to meld and intertwine as indeed.” Rusty slowed as they came up to the stile. if the truth be known. The two men watched as Livvy carefully negotiated the stile. Soon they came to a fence across the field. always pretending to not know what was there. They ambled along easily for a short while. he’s been over there lots of times. Let go of Rusty’s harness and carefully climb over.” Livvy cooed again. She found the bottom step of the stile and by feeling around discovered the fence. but her trust wavered a little. balanced for a split second then gracefully landed beside her. Livvy reached out her hand and bent down.

. certainly in diplomatic circles.. Can she do that without having free and easy access to writing?” “Well yes we think so.“Not very much... They seem to come naturally to her in quite an unusual way. What she is really interested in and putting a lot of effort into is Chinese-Mandarin and Arabic.” “Yeah.. It is quite an ability... There is so much equipment now in the way of tape recorders and stuff like that..” replied David... a bit of German.. I think allowances will be made if she gets to be as good as her school thinks she will be... 46 .. she sure speaks Rusty’s language!” Dougal laughed... I guess we’d better get over this stile ourselves or they will leave us completely behind....... ..” “Well I don’t think I could have done that well on a moonless night. important job...” “Well. “Yes..... What she’s hoping to do is to be an interpreter. French and Spanish..... I think she’s right.. Mr Thomas. That dog sure is a noisy thing..... “I think even I could follow him in the dark.. she’s still got one more year to go in her ‘A’ levels... It sometimes seems uncanny but she’s actually developed her other senses in an extraordinary way..” The two men negotiated the stile and moved of after the receding pair..” “I know what you mean.. Of course the written part is difficult as there is not much Braille available. and I live here.. “They’ve done a variety of tests and the best way that they have of describing it is to say that she sees in broad daylight what we would see on a moonless night.. The two stopped briefly as they were catching up with the pair....” “Wow... “What is Livvy doing? Is she still in school?” asked Dougal.. Rusty and Livvy seemed to move as one as they stopped here and there to smell the scents of the field together and listen to the subtle sounds... She’s very very good at oral languages.” Dougal observed looking affectionately at Rusty as the dog and Livvy moved off down the field. but the important thing is to be able to relay the speech of someone into another language even as they speak. She feels that these will be two very important languages in the future.” “What languages is she doing?” “The usual..

It couldn’t be said that they played together but it certainly could be said that the little boy played with Charlie as much as he could. as long as it managed to avoid foxes and kestrels. How well it would do in the winter was another question. interesting landscape and the exciting activity of foraging for food kept him very happy indeed. Whether it was because of this or just that these things take a long time to fade. That life was now entirely forgotten in his present idyllic existence. He could now sleep all day without being disturbed. His foraging and nesting style were sufficiently different from the native mice to reduce the pressure of competition. his aloneness was natural. Being solitary by nature. it was snuggled beside a large stone and under a large dock 47 . He was then called Charlie. he would then awaken in the night to have an undisturbed period on his wheel. Charlie had made himself the neatest little grass nest. before his mad dash escape from the shoe box on the lawn. the little boy often thought of his missing playmate. Charlie had been the long term love of a little boy who lived about a half kilometre from where Charlie now lived. he would have had no problem recovering his lost charge. Constantly aroused from his daytime sleep to entertain his young master. During the ten days since Charlie’s disappearance. Charlie’s aura could easily be seen shining out from where ever he was. Not so long ago. poked or forced to play. At night the delicious smells. Charlie had acquired a large and bright orange coloured aura through his constant association and physical contact with this young innocent. Whether he liked it or not. Perhaps foxes couldn’t see such things. Charlie had been the centre of the little boy’s life for about four months. He provided companionship for the boy for hours every day during those months. He did have a name once in a previous life. Meanwhile. rearrange his nest box and forage in his food tray before falling asleep to rest before the return of the daytime assault. the aura was still very full and bright on the day that Livvy and Rusty passed by. Whatever. Had the little boy been able to see such things as well as Livvy did. Charlie had led the equivalent of what for a hamster would have been a night shift. Charlie stood out from the native background in the world of atmospherics like a day-glo ball on the surface of the sea. its prospects were good. Round and about the size of a grapefruit. or perhaps associated them with people and remained cautious.The hamster was doing very well in the wild.

“Look. She felt a deep sense of contentment as she felt her hand firmly on his harness and the assurance coming from him that each new anticipated placement of her foot was safe... his natural cycles now being uninterrupted.. ... Rusty felt it too. or more accurately felt her exuberance and began to resonate with it. Her keen ears.. picked up each near silent tread of his paws and his slightly sweet musty smell rose up and teased her sensitive nostrils.. but they were discounted by the sensor in his subconscious mind and he slept deeply on.... Nearby.. The new grass and meadow flowers which filled the field... Rather...... The meadow-land formed in her auric sense a mist of pale shimmering background.leaf. bringing to a near boil an underlying exuberance and playfulness..... Livvy was feeling the new and wonderful nature of her association with Rusty.... warming the interior through the layers of leaf and grass. She could hear the wind gently rustle the fronds and blades...... Livvy and Rusty had scaled the stile and were making their way along the path. Suddenly Livvy saw Charlie..... She thrilled to see a responsive element in her own aura... Dougal and Livvy’s father were following some distance behind. The entrance hole was up against the stone and the sun was beating down... The sound of the voices of the girl and the two men may have drifted in one ear........ she saw a bright glowing aura standing out like a beacon in the background of the shimmering meadow. To her he was a dense orange glow.... dancing in front of her. perfumed her senses with their rustic smells.. The sound filling her ears with subtle whispering.... When the next thing happened. Charlie was fast asleep. It was unusual for her to notice her own aura but this element stood out as it was developed in response to his. In it she noticed that the path could be faintly discerned as a pattern of absence of life substance rather than a thing in and of itself... He was the most delightful creature to her and she could ‘see’ and follow him as clearly with her auric sensing as if she could see perfectly with her own two eyes.. also orange and with a similar texture.. Rusty” 48 .... rolled up in a cosy ball within his nest. The sensuality of the experience was intoxicating for her.... She was watching it with interest as it reached out a delicate finger and gently intertwined itself with Rusty’s presence. it happened very fast... He was full of plantain seeds and very content..

.. fear.. He led her at a gallop over the rough ground towards Charlie’s hiding place. the result was that Rusty leapt towards the bright glow and Livvy followed. For him the dip in the ground was a small feature easily covered. He froze. His new mistress was lying on the ground moaning. Perhaps it was the excitement of realising that Livvy could ‘see’ what he could ‘see’. Charlie now completely forgotten. Livvy and Rusty. David bent over his daughter in panic..... had ceased to be the centre of attention for them as they began enjoying the simple pleasure of an afternoon stroll. It was the only right thing he could have done.she squealed. now some ways in front... shouting at him. . Suddenly they heard Livvy call and point to the right.. He saw his daughter go down like a limp rag and her scream reached his ears over the intervening distance. rolling back and forth and holding her ankle with her knee pulled up under her chest. began running with Livvy in tow. The two of them ran off over the rough ground in the direction that Livvy had been pointing.. confused set of sensations...... Their conversation had dwindled as they relaxed into the calming beauty of the meadowland scene.... Rusty turned in a numb. The two men were running up. 49 .... Whatever. What happened next was a blur for Livvy’s father. to their horror... at her and at each other in a confused way that he had never experienced from a man before. The dog bounded lightly over something that Livvy immediately tripped into.. The two men had been following behind........ Her foot went in crookedly.. As she did so she bent down over Rusty who.... her ankle twisted with a crunch and a searing stab and she collapsed with a scream of pain and surprise.... anything else would not have gone well for him. Most likely all three of these factors were coming to bear... Everything with men had always been so measured and calm and rhythmic.. perhaps even thinking that she was capable of following..... Now he was confronted with utter turmoil. Perhaps it was her pulling his harness to one side which in his training was a signal to turn to a new direction.... For Livvy it was a trap placed in the worst possible position. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder and held her face against him. pulling on his harness........ He did the only thing he could think of.. “What’s that stupid dog trying to do?!” he shouted as the two men ran to where Livvy lay in a softly rocking heap. certainly it was due to his relative inexperience.. Rusty totally forgot his responsibility for her.

It was at this peak of desperation. As this light. Just calm down. understandable as their reaction had been. The visual impact of it. tearing at her heart strings. for she was blind. It would have been fascinating to watch if the setting had not been so dangerous. The red angry energy being put out so recklessly by the two men was so dense that she felt it invading her own body. that something happened that she was to remember for the rest of her life. virtually paralysing her. touched the angry confused colours both of the two men and of her own red-brown fear. grabbed hold of Rusty. Her own fear rose up in response. Don’t! Don’t!” Her own desperation reached out like a redbrown slash against his vivid red anger. For Livvy. suddenly spoke to her. creating a violent disturbance within her. 50 . “You crazy animal!” He shouted in exasperation soaked with guilt about what the dog had done. undisturbed and steady. This is mad she thought to herself! What was she to do? It felt as though one second she was in bliss.” Each word she spoke became slower and softer as they left her mouth. A part of her that was larger than all of her. Dougal’s aura had turned to a dark brown of confusion. “That dog’s a menace. He had never. the men’s reaction was a second trauma. The violent reaction of the men seared through her heart more than the pain tore through her twisted ankle. Atmospherically. “No Daddy. and for the first time in his life cuffed him across the side of the head. ever struck an animal before. Her father turned towards Dougal whilst still holding Livvy and shouted at him. The green touched the other colours and it was almost as if the red. it was shocking for her.anxiousness and anger screwing up his face. had she been able to see it. the brown and the ugly blue energies flashed and turned in on themselves until there was nothing… nothing but the green light. the next she was in the most excruciating. It was not something that she could see. It was fine. Was it her real self speaking through her to them? “Just calm down. It should be put down!” The vivid erratic pulsations of red streaked through and around Livvy. would have been mild compared with the atmospheric impact. melding with the background hues of the meadow land and the now gentle orange and green shimmer of Rusty. I’m just fine. tinged with red and the ugly blue of shame and guilt. it brought about a total transformation. Dougal. unbearable pain and anguish. Livvy could feel a soft green light gently emerging from her heart. Calm down.

love?” he said. Thomas.” “Ooooww” he grimaced in empathy with her. The steaming hot tea and biscuits soon revived them and even Livvy was feeling better. I don’t think I can let him go as a guide-dog after that!” Dougal said glumly.” “I can’t pretend that this hasn’t happened. I’m sorry. knowing that. Livvy was grateful for her kind assurance and eased herself down onto the settee. She came out and quickly ascertained what had happened. Livvy could ‘see’ the sharp jagged purple pattern in her own aura that was emanating from her ankle. It was a long and painful journey back to the Thomas’s house. She made a place for Livvy on the settee and put a kettle on. I guess that’s it then as far as Rusty goes. I already feel really close to Rusty and he’s the dog I want. “I guess we’d better get you to hospital.David looked down at his daughter.” replied Livvy with an assurance that surprised them both. this time to his daughter. “We’ll go ahead as if this hadn’t happened. The stile was particularly difficult to get over but with Mr Thomas’s help they were able to do it without any further injury to Livvy. “We’ll all have a bit of a rest and then get you to the hospital young lady. “It’s really a serious thing when a guide-dog knowingly leads his charge over dangerous ground like that. but the young woman that he had only just re-formed a relationship with.” 51 . “I don’t know… It hurts so much it’s hard to tell about anything else. “Well. I think it’s just the ankle… I don’t think I can stand on it Dad.” Dougal acknowledged him silently with a nod and a quizzical look. He no longer saw the little girl he had known for so long.” said Dougal. “Look. Mrs. He could feel her awareness of him with a depth and authority that unnerved him. “Is it just your ankle.” he said “I guess I lost it there.” she said firmly. “No that’s not it. Can I help you stand?” He positioned himself so that Livvy could pull herself up on him and he brought his shoulder under her arm so that she could use him as a crutch. saw them coming over the field with Livvy supported by her father. It could happen again and I can’t countenance letting him be responsible for a vulnerable person. He looked up at Dougal who was crouching by them with his arm on Rusty’s harness.

” “Well. and I’m sure Rusty will work out just fine. Come on young lady. Mr Thomas. He continued his idyllic life throughout the summer. you did point and jerk him around in that direction. he was quite unaware of his cameo performance in Livvy’s life. “You saw what happened. I couldn’t honestly say that the dog took you off without your encouragement. David? You saw what happened. Besides.” said Dougal. won’t we Dad?” Livvy stated this rather than asked and David knew that it was pointless arguing. he should have been wiser than to go.” So it was that Rusty came into Livvy’s life some three months later. you know it’s up to you in a way. not broken and was as right as rain within three weeks.” “What do you think. I would feel awful if Livvy got hurt because of him again. sat quietly for a brief moment.’ “We’ll go ahead with Rusty. Charlie retraced his steps back to the little boy’s house. I’ll take responsibility for making sure a cautious trial period happens. Livvy had also received a sharp experience of just how out of control human atmosphere can get. I’m sure he’s learned his lesson now. climbing up the curtains and he was returned to his cage. David knew in his heart that Livvy had had something to do with the dog’s erratic behaviour and he also suspected that it was something to do with the colours that she had told him that she could ‘see. let’s get you to hospital.” “Yes we will. If you make the judgement that he was encouraged by Livvy and you’re prepared to take the responsibility. “Well… come to think of it Livvy. Her ankle was sprained. The little boy had meanwhile been given a dog 52 . I’m prepared to do some re-training and we’ll see how it goes. How he made his way back into the house is not known but the little boy’s mother found him shortly after his return. As the autumn approached with it’s colder weather.” Livvy’s father. As for Charlie. She had also experienced the power of her own deeper presence in a way that would be invaluable to her in the times to come. Still.“Well that might have been what it looked like to you but what really happened was that I heard something over to the right and I got him to take me there. He also knew that Dougal had a lot of integrity and would not allow Rusty to go to anybody else having had this experience with him. I would ask you to be on your guard with him though and don’t take any chances for the first few months. Maybe with a bit of re-training and having had this experience he won’t let it happen again.

that’s about 11 ft in your language Magnus. “Ornithocheirus” commented Fred “as far as we know. This left Charlie to live his days out cared for by the mother. He was left alone to sleep all day with the night times spent in eating. It had a 12 metre wingspan. yet with a body significantly larger than a man’s. On land it stood three and a half metres high.who was perfectly willing to be fussed throughout the day. the largest creature ever to fly. a huge winged creature from 127 million years before. Chapter 6 An Offer of Flight Later that same day. and that beak is an additional one and a 53 . Judging by the world wide distribution of its fossil remains. running in his wheel and rebuilding his nest. it must have been quite a flier. it weighed just under 100 kg. glided across the video screen.

” “Yeah. “he looks pretty big to me in anybody’s language.” Alex. with a wingspan of some 8 to 10 metres. Indeed they had spent quite a bit of time looking at slowed down video film of large birds in flight. but we think that he did much more gliding than flying.” “Well. “it was 11 feet in their language too! Metric hadn’t been invented when the dinosaurs were around. Fred and Magnus were in one of the huge development bays at the ISD labs.” “What’d you mean. and it’s based on sound aerodynamics. We think that they could both fly and glide.. “The BBC really did a marvellous job animating this film though. you’re confusing me now.” “Yep! That’s for sure. Far more dynamic and skilled of course. The Ornithocheirus was more the equivalent of a man under a hang glider. and were pretty good at it too. The designs showed a propulsion system that used the strength of Alex’s arms and chest to fan the outer third of the wings creating a back wind to propel Alex forward. As I say.” Fred sparred back.” protested Alex. Its bone were thin and hollow. you’ll weigh half what he did. He would probably have had to rely allot on thermals of warm air rising up from the sun heated land to keep him aloft for long periods of time. In fact the Ornithocheirus was only two foot tall in those days.” “Hey. They really did their research well. “but you know. That’s what they call the whole genus of flying reptiles. Some of them were as small as sparrows. This action was similar to bird flight. 54 . His feet were much bigger than Charles II so the standard foot then was huge. 11 feet in my language Fred. It seems they were around for about 60 million years. enjoying the quips. but actually forming an integral part of it. so they must have been pretty versatile.. but a lot were in the 50 kilo range. point taken Magnus. which made it very light despite its size.. This name had been coined because Alex would not be so much hanging under or even strapped within the wing.half metres. the chap who was doing the kinging at the time was a tyrannosaurus.” continued Fred. They had examined the first tentative sketches of the wing suit as it was now being called.” returned Magnus.” Magnus interjected. I think so too. You’ll be a size and weight similar to the majority of the pterosaurs. even when you’ve got your wings on. He would be wearing it like a suit. “The point here Alex is that this guy weighed twice what you will.

I once fell off of my skateboard while going about thirty five kph. No way could he move his wings backwards that fast.” replied Alex. I still have the scars on my elbows. “I would have thought that with our computers and being able to fly to the moon and all. The large wings would slow you down and you 55 . we don’t know much about it. that we humans knew everything there is to know about flying.” Alex looked pensive and Fred waited for his comment. He moves them up and down in such a way that they behave much like a propeller only instead of going around in a circle. This will fan you forward in the air whilst the wings still maintain lift.” “I think so Alex. “These sketches propose that the wings would lock into glide position when you relax. I remember taking these huge steps and still I went forward faster than my legs would take me. but the outer third will fan up and down when pulled on by your arms. Humbling isn’t it? Suffice to say from what we do know… a bird doesn’t swim through the air.like a bird you can do it. Other than that. “you can then slide into a dive and pick up speed. they describe short segments of a circle as they go back and forth. “Well Alex.” Fred pointed out. he is usually going forward faster than he can move his wings backwards. we know how to make a lot of noise and expend a lot of energy to stay in the air.” “You amaze me Fred. “you make it sound like the exploration is still ninety percent ahead of us. I like that. “Well good. “We know quite a bit about how large gliding birds fly. but subtlety has so far eluded us. We call it unsteady aerodynamics.” Fred pulled back the sleeve of his jumper. The pitch of the ‘blade’ is so flat that small quantities of air shoot backwards very fast rather than large quantities of air more slowly as with swimming. so-called steady aerodynamics where the air flows in a steady stream over a rigid wing.” he said at last. The flat pitch of the wings also means that it can maintain lift whilst fanning the air backwards at the same time. It’s very complex and very effective if . “A racing pigeon flies at about ninety kph.“It may come as quite a surprise to many people but very little is known about how birds fly. but we know very little of how air moves over a flapping wing and how a smaller bird controls itself in the air.” Fred chuckled.” commented Fred. Alex. Designs are also in place for fold back positions for high speed diving. “If you can gain enough altitude.

so we’ve designed them to swing back the outer third to make you more streamlined. You’ll be totally in control of what is going on. definitely feeling awe-struck with a mixture of fear and excitement. In fact that’s what first jumped into my head when I saw all this. we’ve really put some thought into it.” “Well yes. we don’t expect you to just jump off a high place with a pair of wings on. maybe getting you up to twenty or twenty five kph if you worked at it.wouldn’t need them to be so large at these higher speeds. realising that they were losing the plot a bit with him. “Sorry. “As Fred said. He looked harder at Alex who was turning a sort of ashen colour.” interjected Magnus.” “We’re going to go into this step by step. being in the air is the easy part. Our first prototype will actually be a kite. We have plans for a kind of eagle’s eyrie for you to live in.then we think you can convert altitude into speed and that can be used to find better thermals to get even more altitude. Even the Ornithocheirus had legs. I’ll run until you get up a bit. We’re here to assist you to do this… really… this is your show as much as ours.” he added.and we’ve studied a lot of large birds to see how this is done . “In a way. then we think .” “Wow. No. we’ve been thinking that maybe you would need a high place for you to start out from. but they were hollow boned and used as much for tensioning his wing membrane as for standing. Of course we will do computer simulation stuff first. The kite thing is true but it will all be at your own pace. You’re far too valuable for that.” 56 .” “The big problem we see is take off and landing.” replied Alex “That’s the big question for me. “Well.” answered Fred.” answered Magnus.” continued Magnus. For instance. Alex. We think that the actual speeds generated by your arms would be relatively slow. nobody uses wind tunnels these days… but to help you learn to fly as much as helping us fine tune the rig… we’ll… I don’t know… sort of take you up on a windy hill and fly you on the end of a bit of string… sort of…” “And if it’s not windy enough. You would be using that speed more to find updrafts. “you will need to start off from a height to gain initial speed. Once you had gained some more altitude. How fast do you think I’ll be able to go?” asked Alex.” “Yes. “That’s just the way Fred and I work together… we like to keep things light to keep the energy up… we actually are very serious about this.

a time of doing something to get to grips with his problem. The canteen was just closing so they were lucky to find a hot meal that was to their liking. His secretary Rose had handed him a fresh dossier.if their theory was correct and they were human beings . Let’s go and see if the canteen is still open. just three men off for a lunch break. An ominous note inside Magnus told him that this was not a circus act that was being put together here! 57 . it had also sheltered him from other aspects of the rough and tumble nature of the world. This wasn’t so much an agreed strategy as an instinctive realisation that either Alex was one with them or they might as well all just go home and put their feet up.” They left the development bay and made their way down a long corridor to the foyer.Alex looked relieved. effort and money getting this show on the road. In fact he was more toying with his food than eating it as his thoughts focussed on what had been in the back of his mind. “Hey. Sometimes they were asymmetrical to wheel the fliers over at sharp angles and into convoluted turns. They sauntered as much as walked either side of Alex a hand in pocket here. Magnus had gone into his office. Magnus could see this in a flash. a friendly gesture there. Their joking about the project had emphasised the seriousness of it and suddenly he was really frightened. Magnus and Fred deliberately didn’t push Alex in his wheel chair. Looking from frame to frame. after all. They crossed over to the other side where the canteen was. these had a better resolution and there were more of them. The enormity of what was being planned suddenly loomed large on his young horizon. Fred and Alex suddenly realised that they were ravenously hungry. Somebody was spending a lot of time. This time the Americans had re-routed a more powerful spy satellite to the area. look at the time! It’s three o’clock and we haven’t even had lunch. He was. Magnus could see the athletic changes in wing shape. The time with Alex had been a welcome break. They tucked into their food not noticing that Magnus was not eating with the same gusto. He looked at his watch. Unlike the fuzzy detail of the first shots. only 18 years old and although his disability had taught him toughness. It contained more photos of the mysterious objects in the Middle East. During a break. even close to tears which he struggled to hold back.were getting very good at dextrous flying and aerobatics. These three . before they had gone into the development bay.

who would like the opportunity to not so much walk again but to fly! To them. Yes he had advisors and a good budget. What if 58 . would not countenance the thought of someone amputating the legs of another for the sake of science. was very successful at just the sort of work that replicating the flying objects would entail. Neither was it just a front for the intelligence services. If he thought that it was a threat to the West. he had to decide how to best counter the threat. thought Magnus. He was thinking of the spate of suicide bombings which were happening in the Middle East. there could be fertile ground. the UK. But then. It also occurred to him that with so many land-mine injuries in the region. what is regarded as human decency changes in desperate times. The potential of what the flying objects could do was so far beyond western experience that the best way that could be seen of exploring the potential threat. in fact basic human decency. It was his responsibility and his alone to ascertain what the three fliers were up to. was that ethics. built into it an internal department which could research and develop techniques and equipment for the intelligence services. the company had been developed as a self-sufficient bona fide operation. recognising the unique development ability of Magnus’s organisation were backing him to the highest level. The reality of what was going on weighed heavily on him. could do its work without the work having to go out to tender. Magnus had been called in by the director of Internal Intelligence as soon as the nature of the new threat had been understood. it was all the West. The big handicap for the west in this race. both with information and other additional assistance. He had however. In short. was to develop the same capacity right here in the UK. but it was his show and a lot hung upon it. the former Soviets. and without having to maintain an expensive drain on the public purse which only had sporadic use. Largely under Magnus’s direction. and he strongly suspected that it was. Innovative Systems Design was not just a research and development company. Magnus worked for Internal Intelligence and his job was to run ISD. It was both. Magnus was a lot more than he appeared to be in public. It was at this point in his musings that the thought had come to Magnus. The Americans. The ‘Special Developments Department’ as it was called. Magnus had immediately realised. The Special Developments Department. Europe.Magnus was worried. with angry young men already substantially injured. or SDD as it was known in the company.

I don’t know my marks yet but I’m expected to do well. “There’s the racing. Alex. eating chips right before him. The job will not be easy.” Magnus told the young man in a level voice.” 59 . “ but to be honest with you. doing a general BSc but I will need to get the top of my expected grades to get in. Magnus looked over at the boy enthusiastically eating his fish and chips.” “We’re still intending to develop the chair. but something or somebody has had this scenario under consideration for at least eighteen years already. What about you’re schooling?” “I matriculated in Maths. “Perhaps you could tell us a little of what your thoughts have been on your future. This passion told him that there had to be the right person for the job. “What we are offering you here is a job. cutting his pie and mash in geometric patterns just for the satisfaction of it. Physics and English earlier in the year in Canada. I’m part of the team. The thought of wheeling around some university did not compare well with the vision of wheeling through the sky. Magnus suddenly relaxed. ten years his own senior. He had not given much thought to the context of this new adventure. there won’t be much time to spare for the rest of the summer. but I haven’t been placed this year. He had known that he had to find such a person and here he was.” He paused again. he thought. This passion had driven him through the fifty one years of his life and his mind had the simple job of paving the way for it.” “Well… Uh…” Alex paused. Something told Magnus that it had to be so. I came close but I didn’t quite make it. but my next placement trial would be early next spring. Of course a redesigned chair might make a difference. He was a scientist but he also had a sense of purpose and the underlying order of life. six weeks later. He then looked at Fred. Alex. “I’ve been offered a place at Imperial College. He so wanted to participate in this project that he didn’t want to give them the impression that they would be depriving him of a further education if they offered him a job.” Magnus said. So with all the facilities at his disposal. Alex was made for the job and had been since birth. This was coming not so much from an observation in his mind but a passion in his heart.there was someone in the UK who already fitted that description. he had set off on the journey that had led him to Alex.

. Both of the brothers had sons in their late teens and an ugly dispute had arisen as to which one owned the piece of land.. the man and his new wife had been killed in a car accident. Most of the people would recognise him but would have absolutely no idea of the extent of his role in changing their lives. This was a dangerous moment in the development of the region... That’s a wonderful opportunity...... Rather than care for the land.. his brother had married his two wives..” Magnus replied. Darius was feeling a nervousness born of a deep concern.. leaving his car discreetly on a side road. “Let’s call this a summer job for now and see how it goes. Eight years before..... maybe you could take a year out and we could sponsor you after that… Let’s just start with a three month exploration project and we’ll review it in September............. that’s really exciting.......... It may not work out.... ... If it does go well.... It could return Kasderouss.’ back to the same disarray that the rest of the country was in... Tragically some would say.. Darius walked the last kilometre to join the crowd.....“Oh. I would like that very much.. as was the local custom... a local landowner had taken as a second wife. Magnus was touched by Alex’s sincerity and simple formality as he reached his hand out and they shook on it. The man had used some of the money to buy some three thousand hectares from of land......” Alex responded... acting as if he had not already read any of this in the detailed report that was on his desk. 60 ... the brother had become enamoured with is new found wealth and had begun to spend a lot of time in the capital to the south with his new wife… and her money.. although others might not think so... his brother. He always kept a low profile in the region. a wealthy young woman who brought with her a very large dowry. An ugly feud was beginning to break out and it had the potential to destroy everything that had been achieved....” “Yes........ Five years later the man had died and...... ‘The Valley of the Angels....

both of whom were shaking uncontrollably. It was beside this feature that the High Mullah had gathered the people. a line of bedrock which broke the surface. “This was but a messenger of the Most High. It continued to drop with astonishing speed until a kilometre to the south. You know when it is time to pray and in 61 . Suddenly.The High Mullah had come down from his sanctuary on the cliffs and called the people onto the disputed land. A fine yet distinct shape was descending rapidly out of the bright heat-haze of the midday sun. It seemed but a moment before the golden winged creature flashed over them. Darius had made a point of becoming friendly with the Mullah and often spent time with him. The High Mullah walked rapidly to the bent over figures of the two cousins. there was a murmur from the crowd and all eyes turned to the sky in the south. This was a huge gamble. particularly when he felt the ominous encroachment of the dark shadow in his mind. As it passed over. Within a couple of seconds the creature was gone and a cloud of bright sparkles erupted over the rock ridge and the beautiful. it flattened its flight path to head directly towards the people. “See that you do this not!” he cried out in a loud voice. pungent and unmistakable smell of Frankincense filled the nostrils of the people. neatly dividing the piece of land into two parts. The High Mullah had come to trust Darius and had no hesitation in acting on his suggestions. Darius had studied the terrain and found a natural feature. The two men had conferred over the last few days as they could see the potential destruction the dispute might cause. The silence with which it did this was louder than if it had been a fighter-jet. There were many guns on show in the crowd and the enmity between the two cousins was so thick it could have been cut by any one of the many knives that were also being displayed. Darius shivered. The people dropped to their knees and bowed flat to the ground. the human-like winged figure could be seen to clasp his hands over his breast and then spread them out wide.

moments before. Chapter 7 Judith As was often the case for her. to the quiet villages and well worked 62 . Darius too was shaking. The matter is settled. He turned and walked unnoticed. In this particular moment she was in a sloping grassy valley. Now go in peace!” The people all looked up as the High Mullah reached down and placed a hand each on the heads of the two trembling young men who. away from the crowd. It ran down from the formal gardens and stately homes on the top. a sense of deep relief overcoming him. Livvy was engrossed in the essences which underlie the natural world. The two cousins stood up and embraced. a shallow gash in the Cotswold escarpment. For now you have been given a sign. A blessing. were ready to kill each other. again by the Grace of Allah.what direction to pray.

over the hillocks and into the dips in the grass covered ground . fungi and grubs. hushed whispering sounds of the woodland community together with the variegation of dancing polychromatic. Perhaps this is what children sometimes see and call elves. the fact that she was blind would not have been noticed.fields below. iridescent snake. Because the leaf litter was populated with dense colonies of insects. Livvy’s confidence had grown to such an extent that unless a casual observer’s eye fell upon the harness of her guide-dog. and who am I to say that they’re not? Suddenly she felt Rusty stir by her side. The leaves sparkled with gold in proportion to their dappled exposure to the bright sunlight that Livvy could feel on her back. around the thistles. She couldn’t see the actual wall of course. herding the sheep to one side and the trees to the other. together with the soft velvet of the moss. clothing each stone and crevice. The vertical trunks carried busy lanes for darting vivid pinpoints to ascend and for duller. she could feel the dry. moulds. heavier drops of blue to come back down. more vivid and much larger atmospheric than she had ever 63 . waist high. The forest floor smouldered with undulating dull pastels. course texture of the stones. but the living rime of blue created the image of a long. This revealed itself to her as a pale blue shimmering of flame. Placing her hands on the back of this creature. She was enthralled by the display. A far denser. Her attention had been caught by the moss and lichen on the dry stone wall. His whole back was trying to wag. of leaf and the balms of sap and gum. she thought to herself. Her increasing ability to sense the bio-plasmic character of living things was giving her a frame of reference in which she could find her way among the sheep. As she strolled to the edge of the meadowed slope. she perceived it to be sprinkled in varying densities with jewels and other shinings. Livvy followed his intent to behold a most extraordinary thing. restricted only by the fact that he was sitting. Coming down the slope towards them was the aura of a person. Behind her the meadow perfumes and the musk of sheep arched over her. bio-plasmic light which totally filled the space and volume created by the trees. She heard him give a repressed bark of pleasure such as he would often give when he caught sight of her after they had been apart for a while. By now. she approached a low wall on the other side of which was dense woodland. billowing and tussling with the woodland aromas of bark. She was entranced by the barely audible.

steady and clear as to be only lightly touched with a hint of blue. my name is Judith. Livvy knew that she was. “I’m sorry. It took a few seconds for Livvy’s senses to pick up another extraordinary phenomenon. It might have been in the presence of a mother feeding her baby.far from being unable to see them . the only characteristic which Livvy could identify was that it was the presence of a woman. She didn’t know what to expect but when the woman did finally reach her. all at the same time.could actually perceive every nuance of their emotional state as if they were standing naked. save for those who were near her who cheered and shouted for joy. sometimes as a background hue of sadness. what she said was startling in its simplicity. Sometimes too she had glimpsed a brief appearance of white. It would be much to the discomfort of anyone who came near Livvy to know that this blind girl . The woman’s aura was the colour of a clear sky. Extending out from the presence of the woman. “What do you mean by ‘One of us?’” “Oh. At first Livvy had difficulty realising what it was that she was perceiving. all of whom waited in quiet anticipation. With the personage now walking towards her however.” 64 . walking through a vast crowd of her subjects. Somehow it was both dynamic and smooth. was an ethereal sphere.” she stuttered. It reminded Livvy of a majestic queen. This happened to such an extent that all other bio-plasmic emanations in the surrounding background seemed to pale in comparison. It was around this woman who was walking towards her. Judith Cronin. you’ve not heard it described. Livvy had often seen blue. despite not knowing what it was that that she was part of. aren’t you?” Instinctively. She beheld such a white now.perceived before. Never before had she beheld a white which was so fully present. occasionally as a startling colour breaking through into the presence of someone in deep grief. Gradually she began to understand. perhaps ten metres in radius. Perhaps it would be around lovers in each others arms or coming from a child with an adored pet. “Yes… Yes… I’m sure now… You are one of us. of course. Livvy waited transfixed as the woman approached. All of the living things over which the sphere passed. suddenly increased in the vividness and the vitality of their etheric colours. Forgive me.

she felt herself tingle. He stopped and stood for a minute or two. I am able to perceive them more distinctly. A man coming down the valley. his aura at first carrying a harsh blue with gashes of red. then struggling to remember her manners.“… I’m… Livvy. Otherwise you would miss all this. dear. one that could only be given to her by someone with the same perceptions as herself. “Do you… Do you mean to tell me… that all this is…” “Yes. totally changed Livvy’s experience of the world. dear.” replied Livvy in a puzzled voice still amazed that this magnificent woman had deemed to speak to her.” They both stood silently. “Livvy Johnson. let alone someone who seemed to know her way around in it better than she did herself. What I am pointing out is that you perceive the living things around you. It goes with you wherever you go. Rather like everything else that came into Judith’s sphere. As he began to move on again. “I saw you as I came down from the narrows… I couldn’t really miss you… everything around you is glowing and beaming so. but look down the valley. She had never encountered anyone who had even an inkling of her auric world. what do you see?” “I don’t see anything. “Me?” Livvy’s voice carried genuine shock “But that’s what I saw around you. Livvy. but you perceive them less so further down the valley. now unsure of herself. a lump rising in her throat “but as I get closer. Do you not see the hues and textures of all the living things around you?” “Well… uh… yes I do. dear… you’re in the middle of it. Isn’t that so?” “Well… yes it is.” she managed to reply nervously. “Of course you are. his aura 65 . I’m virtually blind. “but surely that’s just the way things are?” “Well it is the way things are when they are near you.” answered Livvy. light danced around her. Judith continued. and you carry a startlingly clear golden yellow!” Her voice was that of an older woman.” Livvy replied. All this is in response to you.” This startling fact.” She extended her hand in awkward formality and Judith took it.” “That’s because they don’t do it so much when your not there. Surely that doesn’t happen around me!” “Of course you don’t see it. but as she spoke. passed by some distance away.

shimmered and turned a dark green with tinges of yellow.. Livvy... I’ve been waiting for you for many months now. almost losing the ability to take the next step. Something about it had changed. not so much at the time but afterwards in his later memories of the day... unaware as far as he could tell. It seemed somehow to have re-aquired some of its mystical splendour..... These lightened in tone as he disappeared over a rise in the slope of the valley... The other figure was a slightly built young woman standing by her older companion. Even that had lost its beauty… or had it? He stood still for a short while and began to relax. He stopped....... that he was even there. They were totally engrossed in conversation.. The conversation between the two women had gone from naught to full depth in twenty seconds and Livvy was reeling a little from it. You are going down into the village. startled. it is for a reason. A slight movement caught his eye. then another...... 66 .. he began to feel a re-emerging sense of interest in his own future for the first time in a very long while.. He took a deep breath. he recognised from the village.. He noticed two figures standing by the dog. One... are you not?” Livvy nodded in awed wonder.. As the man walked down the slope. “Livvy. “Then come with me to my home..... As he disappeared over the edge of a rise. a large yellow Labrador had stood up from a sitting position. He looked out again at the vista. If we do. We will have tea and we will talk. We will be together a lot over the next while.. he was lost in his feelings of gloom and despair.. He had often seen her and had always taken notice of her.. perhaps sixty. a reason that casts its shadow before it in time.. He started down the slope again and a weight began to lift from his shoulders. Even at this distance he was struck by her graceful poise.” .. He couldn’t quite place her age..... Welcome home!” “How did you know I was coming?” Livvy asked.... maybe older.. a rather large lady.... He looked out over the hazy vista before him.. They were just two figures and a dog in a vast undulating landscape..... “There’s not many of us.. Judith broke the silence at last....... His desolation rose up into his heart as the emptiness of his life hit home.. In fact there are so few of us that we rarely meet...

. saucers and small plates... chairs..... Now come in and let’s find a comfortable place to sit and we’ll make a nice hot cup of tea. giving a sense of substance... She was later to learn that wood....” 67 .. shape and position to the floor. exposed to loving. The gardens outside were vivid with life.. the volume of the room and its contents around her..” The two women entered the ground floor of the house. “Well I know what brings you here.......” She chuckled softly as she reached into the lightly glowing cupboard and brought down cups.. The wood in Judith’s house glowed faintly and consistently. “I baked these this morning... there were beautiful pot plants. She knew that Livvy had never come across a biscuit with an aura before any more than she had been aware of wood in the way that it could be experienced in her house... Like you it was a while before I found out how much of a blessing it was… but yes. expressive human hands.... Judith was aware of this for she knew that auric wood was rare...” She filled the kettle and plugged it in. “What brings you here?” asked Judith after a miniature ceremony of pouring and stirring. “and I polish and wax these wooden taps every day so that I can see them. The biscuits appeared to be on fire with a faint and mellow flame..... begins to absorb auras even as it had once carried the aura of the tree from which it came. “I found it difficult to find a kettle with a wooden handle” she said matter-offactly. but we don’t even know what a patina is.. the interior of the house was not any less so.... doors and the counters. Livvy had never ‘seen’ wood before and was thrilled to be able to perceive for the first time in her life. that it suddenly struck her... I guess ‘how did you come to be here?’ is more the question......... do we. People say that the patina is gorgeous. “Of Course! You’re blind too!” “Yes Livvy... It was the wood.. Yes. Surprisingly.. Soon a delightful tea was before them.... “In fact I polish and wax all the wood in the house every couple of days..... I too am blind.” She explained.. but what Livvy noticed was totally new to her.. Livvy heard Judith reach in her pocket for her key... It was not until she heard the sound of Judith fumbling for the keyhole.. the tables....

” Judith responded. “And your mother?” she asked.“My parents like to come out for day breaks in the country. “Well I say that. could we Rusty?” She reached down and ruffled the dog’s ears.” “What sort of ways?” Livvy could feel Judith creating an atmospheric bridge between them. know about all of this?” Judith asked. The other is to bring me. I really like them with all the bustle of people and all of that. It was more that it made her comfortable with her thoughts and memories and gave them a sense of credence that allowed them to flow more easily.” replied Livvy still a little shy. it would be akin to abuse. 68 . because it wasn’t making her say anything that she didn’t already want to say.’ I just brought a small sandwich. but gradually finding some assurance in the presence of this intriguing woman. Cities are lovely places. “Smug is hard one to take if that was really what it was. gesturing casually with an outstretched hand so that the auric presence of the sideboard and the pot plant on top of it glowed briefly with a more intense emanation. “Oh yes. One reason is that they are very romantic with each other. It wasn’t a manipulative act. “I think Dad must have told her something of what I told him because she has changed towards me in some ways. For anyone who carried the level of power that she did. Today they are having lunch in the ‘George and Dragon. Not only is it very beautiful.” replied Livvy. looking with wonder and admiration at the result of Judith’s gesture. it was only about six months ago that my father actually gave me the time of day to listen to me… He can be so smug at times… I would try and tell him something and he would blow the atmosphere just as I was beginning to lay it down for him. Finally I got through to him with a six month sulk!” Livvy laughed in an embarrassed sort of way.” Livvy was to learn that Judith never joked at anyone’s expense. but it gives me independence. I love to come out into the countryside where everything is either living or covered in living things.” “Hmm. There are easier ways to get through to people. “Not very nice I guess. but they are largely inert to me as far as a living ‘seeable’ landscape is concerned. “Sometimes we come out for weekend breaks. We couldn’t wait to get out. That means I can ‘see’ my way around. “Do your parents.

“Love. “You know how I use the phrase. A blue tinged her normally yellow aura so that it took on a strangely green mix.” “What else do you see there?.“More respect in some ways. “It will come out all right.” “What do you mean. A yearning that can be so powerful that it creates beautiful art. “There are some sighted people however who can venture very near the edge of the world we live in. It always occurs for a purpose. ‘one of us’?” Livvy nodded. For some reason. but that I’m… somehow going to do well. “she seems to resent me in a funny sort of way. a hearkening back to the way things once were for the human race occurs in a very few of us.” the older woman began.” Judith smiled.” Livvy sat still for a few moments. I think she feels she has time to look to her own concerns now. composing herself.” Livvy hesitated but the bridge between them beckoned. it’s just something I sense.” “So… She’s let go of you… Can you let go of her?” 69 .” She could feel that Livvy was entranced by what she was saying. She knows it is true. and well.” Livvy pondered for a moment. “It’s a bit of jargon I use and it’s really not very accurate. “Now there’s a complement.” she said. She now sees me more as grown up. It creates a great yearning Livvy. Livvy looked sad and close to tears. Just keep talking to her.” Judith asked. Judith?” “Well. gathering herself. “relief… It’s almost as if a weight has gone from her that I’m not just going to be all right. deep down and subconsciously because she has touched it herself. poetry and music through those that feel it. “It’s nothing overt in her behaviour. on rare occasions. and in most cases we have to forfeit our ability to see visually to receive it. There is no us and them. It can also produce a sense that something is missing and unfortunately a resentment towards those that seem to have the thing that is missing. Livvy. It is likely that your mother is one of them. “I don’t think I would have noticed it other than seeing it in her atmosphere.

“You said it always occurs for a purpose. it all made sense. When you said about having a purpose.” Judith nodded. You take care and we will be in touch. Anna and she was about my age then. I never cease to be surprised.” Livvy wanted to hug her but held back out of respect and felt her own heart sing.” “Oh. “I know you need to go Livvy. I will come out and point you in the right direction for the centre of the village. Here have one. Here is my telephone number. We go back a very long way. We have much to talk about. because you were on your way down the hill when I first saw you. They finished their tea and as Judith put down her empty cup she spoke. I’ve had it printed onto stick-on labels embossed in braille. a lot I hope. She and I spent five years together. dear. There is so much to pass on. thank you Judith. I don’t know what my purpose is but I sense that I have one and that it is taking me over. We will talk on the phone.” Judith sat quietly. I was your age when I first met my mentor. “I can hardly believe that all of this has happened to me!” “I’m thrilled too. “I think I’ve been letting my parents go for some time now. Your Mum and Dad will be waiting. Nothing she could have said could have confirmed her agreement with Livvy more than her silent atmospheric smile.” Chapter 8 Simulations 70 .Livvy held Judith’s aura in her full attention. somehow less selfish.

“I see what the doctors meant when they wrote in your report that you have two femoral arteries with nothing better to do. “I thought every boy had heard of the ‘Ooh ma gooley bird’. his cry could be heard in the distance as the sun set blood red onto the horizon… ‘Ooooh ma goolies! Ooooh ma goolies!’” Alex burst out laughing.Alex’s lips were just starting to be tinged with blue when they cut the cast off of his body. “Gosh. 71 . I’ll bear that in mind. … I didn’t go in the showers either. “Maybe when you sort me out you can get yourself a job with the RSPB. They quickly removed the cling film and wiped off the oily cream so that his skin could breathe again.” Fred was now concentrating on reassembled the cast that had been cut away from Alex’s body. He had chosen the latter. They had also given him a special box carefully placed over his genital area and wrapped it into the cling film.” “What’s an ‘Ooh ma gooley bird?” asked Alex with interest. or be wrapped in cream and cling film.’ We can’t have anything like that happening to you. the same material used for splinting broken arms. He could have his body hairs shaved off. that was starting to feel distinctly strange. We’ll have to make sure we’ve learned the lesson from the ‘Ooh ma gooley bird. Didn’t you ever sing those songs in the showers after Rugby? … Oh I guess you didn’t play Rugby. Soon it would be filled with polyurethane foam and work would begin on building the zip-up suit that would hold Alex into the wing assembly. had no legs and lived in a rocky terrain. with an emphasis on P for protection. It felt good to have someone around who was not ‘nicey.” “Well. risk having them pulled out by the plaster cast. nicey’ about his condition. Fred and his assistant had given him the choice. As he came in to roost in the evening. It had been made from plaster splint strips.” “No.” “Oh… Well just to complete your education… The ‘Ooh ma gooley bird’ flew very fast.” Fred assured him. “We’ll build you a really comfortable home for your tackle into this suit.” He gasped taking a deep breath and lowering himself down onto his back with his muscular arms.

we’ll be able to fine tune it to your individual requirements. The muscles are all there to be developed. This was something that Alex was to find throughout the ISD program.” Alex looked admiringly at the rig. When we’ve made the prototype body suit. It consisted of a seat similar to his wheelchair seat and a complex system of stainless steel rods.” quipped Fred in return. I can wait.” Alex flipped himself gracefully onto his chair and followed Fred into an adjoining room.” He was able to lift himself up unaided into the seat using a bar that had been placed conveniently for him to do so. next stop is a special exercise rig. Get used to this rig because you’re going to spend several hours a day on it. springs and weights. “We’ve been putting this together in parallel with the design of the wing suit. Can I have a go now?” “Sure.” Fred told him. otherwise there might well have been an underlying unexpressed anxiety in him. Fred knew that all these personal issues had to be discussed in order to put Alex at ease. “Now that we’ve measured you. Your arm muscles are really very well developed but entirely focussed on pushing forward on the rim of your wheels and pulling yourself up.” “No. It has sensors which will monitor the ‘work’ done by your muscles in the various directions you will have to pull and twist. referring to the popular myth about bird lime. He dressed as anyone else save for his trouser which was more of a padded sack with belt loops at the top.Alex was dressing himself. “You will remember natures’ calling?” He asked wryly as he pulled up the zip. “Only if your careful how you dish out the good luck. There he saw the practice rig standing majestically in the middle of the pleasantly lit room. Don’t worry though. we’ll incorporate that in as well. Then we’ll really have something for you to practice on. Maybe we could set up a projector with some clouds and sky. Can’t do much about the view though. He chose the humour route and it worked. young man. Things had always been thought through right down to the minor detail. There are going to be some very unusual directions your arms will have to go. “Okay. have a try. Alex figured that this was down to Fred’s genius and 72 . “I guess the final thing will have a much nicer view than this room. our distant ancestors spent a lot of time in trees and these activities will be similar.

“We’ve built in some of the pulls and twists that we think you will be experiencing in flight. but there was also the whirling of servo-electric motors pulling on the struts which gave him the feel of being in a living thing.” Alex settled down into the machine and began using the controls. Of course we can place sensors on the wings. 73 . is music.Magnus’s organisational skills. The nearest thing that humans do to flying. He reached his arms out. not only was it tensioning or releasing springs.” continued Fred. Birds have a huge advantage over you when they fly. We think we have come up with the answer. We’ve converted the input from the sensors into sounds which you will hear through your helmet. sentient beings with sensory nerves all over their bodies and wings. even though you have more wing movement than a fixed wing aircraft. The higher the pitch the nearer the wing tips. Probably we’ll find that you will have to put more effort into keeping stable and moving in the right direction then you will into moving yourself forward in the first place. This means that when they fly. pull. Each time he moved the device. You will have the means of gaining a lot of control of pitch and roll to keep aloft. “this may sound complicated but we think in the long run it will make things easier. squeeze and push out. raising and lowering weights. For one thing they have a very wide range of movements of wing shape and direction which you don’t have. Actually we’ve designed it so that much of the control is achieved through some of the same wing movements that move you forwards. The wings will be springy and flexible and you will sort of warp them with your arms and wrists in response to what we trust will develop as an internal instinctive ability in you… real in-body flying skills. the problem is how to get the information from them to you in a way that you can read without being distracted from your flying. rather than reacting to the effects after they’ve happened .as with human pilots. They dance to it and it moves their spirit. “We’ve been thinking of how to achieve the same sensory abilities for you. He was beginning to feel confidence in his new employers as well as a surge of excitement whenever he thought of where it was all going. “Another thing. they can respond instantly to changes in the air movements. The other thing is that they can feel the wind currents simply because they are living. Each was a sort of lever affair which gave him the possibilities to twist. slid them through loops which held his elbows and then took hold of the handles.

He plugged the other end of the cable into the laptop before pulling up a chair and sitting in front of it to face Alex. but we are going to have a microphone in front of the leading edge of the wing suit so that you can hear the ambient sound. You’re already in the air. We decided to incorporate a volume control so that in calmer weather. when you wouldn’t need the sensory control so much. buzzy tones are a higher pressure on top.” exclaimed Alex. Take off and landing we will teach you a ways down the road. you could turn the air flow input down and turn up the volume of the actual sound which is coming to you. We don’t want you to get bored up there.” “Mmmh… Right.” said Alex. I’m ready. The louder the tone.” “Okay. You won’t hear anything naturally because of the helmet. “… Okay. You will hear the sounds in stereo so you will know which side things are happening on.” Fred moved the mouse a couple clicks. as it is happening.” Fred left him to work with the apparatus for a while and left the room. The servo-electrics whirled and he felt the handles pull back. the first thing I’m going to give you is easy. which can be bad news.Smooth tones are higher pressure under the wings. Alex began to get the feel of the directions that the levers would go and what they would do. delighted with Alex’s enthusiasm. All of a sudden Alex felt the whole thing come alive.” “Yes.” replied Fred. that’s what we hope.” “Will I have a mini-disc player as well?” “Yeah. Fred came back into the room carrying a laptop computer. 74 . ” “That’s amazing Fred. He put it down onto a small table. the stronger the pressure. “We’ve written a program here that simulates some of the aerodynamics that we want you to get used to handling. walked over to the machine and plugged a cable into a socket in the side of the machine. “it’ll be like flying in a sea of sound. Level flying into a steady gentle headwind. “Maybe now that part of your brain that was designed to learn to walk will finally have it’s work cut out!” “Will I be able to hear outside sounds as well?” “We thought of that. After some time. You will soon learn to identify the nature of the air flow over your wings in 3D. sure and a video player projected onto your visor and a drinks cabinet under your left arm pit.

you will feel all of it. reached a swept back position and locked. They formed a full cord in balanced stereo.” “No. you’re actually 60 metres up but now moving at thirtyfive kilometres.” 75 . you’re now in a shallow dive. that’s fast enough for now.” “Yeah we thought that would be the case. It’s just a new position for my arms. but slowing down because of the wind resistance. He let go of the handles. Keep the machinery to a minimum. “Oap!. You’ll have to take my word for it. Pull them forward and they will automatically tip to increase lift. The mechanisms would add some weight though and they would also reduce the spontaneity of your flying skills. If you were 20 metres above the treetops I would suggest that you would need to pull up in the next ten seconds. He could hear the sound of the chord in his head phones getting fainter as he slowed. He could feel the tension as his arms pulled against the servomotors. too late!” Fred laughed. If you were high up and needed to gain speed this would be the right thing to do. “I’ll change the story.He could hear a range of smooth tones in his ears from the simulated wing sensors. “Okay. “Good you’re levelling out now. “Are you finding it tiring?” “A little. simulating the wings. The rods. As it is I’m just pulling against a motor. You can’t feel anything because we haven’t built that simulation into the system. relaxing not knowing what to do.” Alex pulled forwards. You’re in the trees.” Fred let Alex pull against the ‘wind’ for a short period. “How does that feel?” Fred asked. I can hold this fine. but I think I could get used to it. don’t do that. I might have a lot more adrenaline to help me. If you find it too tiring we could build in more locking mechanisms to hold the wings in different positions. I want to do as much of this myself as I can.” Alex could hear the volume of sound from the wing sensors build up steadily as his speed increased. “You’re picking up speed fast but losing altitude at about one metre per second. I think that if I actually was flying.” commented Fred. and there’s not quite the same level of inspiration. The wind is pulling your wings back and upwards but they are on a level plane. When we get into the wind tunnel. This position allows you to lose altitude in favour of speed.

That’ll be the one to use to stay inside a thermal. Let’s go have another bite and we’ll tie up a few details before getting you off home Alex. as shown by the recording 76 . They sat down over their hot dinners. sometimes thousands of metres upwards. That way you can sometimes gain tremendous heights with no effort at all. He got down off of the machine and slipped himself onto his chair. “Well. The three of them made their way down the long corridor to the canteen. the one you were just in which holds you in a dive of about one metre per second. That’s what this machine is for. but I’m okay. How are you feeling Alex. After that we’ll try a bit of simulated flying as well. we were hoping you would say that. We’ll take you through some more gliding routines now.” This had been a long day for Alex.” “Wow. Thermals are more like a spiral staircase. nearly six o’clock. That is where the wind climbs up a hill or cliff and keeps on going. I would think. As it is we’ve given you two locking positions.” “Don’t worry.” “What’s a thermal?” asked Alex. you turn in small circles and the column rises up faster than you lose height in the air itself. a bit like an escalator?” “Well there’s another phenomenon called a wave lift. In those you don’t have to circle so they are a bit like escalators. That’s just enough to make up for your losses through air friction. but the time had gone by unnoticed. You will learn how to find them. Alex noticed that Magnus was eating better now. and the next up which holds you in a dive of 0. I’m really sweating away here.” “I’ve had quite a workout Magnus. “It’s getting late.” “I guess I have a lot to learn.3 metres per second. They were interrupted by Magnus. He wasn’t to know that his performance. When you’re inside it.” “The wind would soon sort that out.” The exercises kept them occupied for another hour and a half. we’ll take you through it in easy stages. “That’s a column of rapidly rising air.“Great. this looks like things are going okay. letting the simulated wings slide back into the second locking position.” Magnus replied with obvious pleasure in his voice. It means that you keep up the same speed. If you want to fly at an angle higher than that you will have to pull forwards with your arms.

He just didn’t want to burden him with it yet. I know it’s to fly and all that… but we’re going to vast expense here and… well. We have accommodation in this building.made by the sensors on the machine had exceeded their expectations by a long shot. “Magnus?” Magnus grunted as his thoughts were on chocolate torte or banoffe pie “Magnus.” replied Alex. but central London is so expensive. then you can fly home. He had been working on an answer which would be plausible to the boy rather than revealing the story of the fliers in Montanistan. You can move in as soon as you like. Magnus was now feeling much easier about the possible implications of what was going on in Montanistan. At least now they were achieving some results rather than guessing in the dark. especially if he signed the Official Secrets Act. Would you consider living in a company flat out here for the summer? We’re a lot further out from Putney than Imperial College is and we don’t want you expending effort on transport that you could be expending intelligently on what we’re doing. 77 .” Alex replied ignoring the obvious quip. Especially as it might all blow over and he might never need to know. Alex immediately spotted the ice cream. “Were you going to leave home to go to Uni?” Magnus asked Alex after the initial preoccupation with their meal. “I think it would be cheaper and easier to travel in from my Aunt’s place in Putney. we’ll speak with your aunt and uncle and we’ll see what can be arranged. Is there profit in this or is it just an expensive hobby?” The question caught Magnus off guard. “I didn’t think I would be flying the nest for ages!” “Okay.” The three continued eating until it was time to order dessert. “I know there is a certain advantage to flying the nest. of course. It wasn’t that he didn’t trust Alex. As they perused the menu. Just until you get the hang of the wing suit. why are we doing this? I mean. we have a place well out in the Cotswolds that we’ll all have to move to. Magnus would have to wing it and hope for the best.” “Flying the nest is a really appropriate metaphor Alex. He waited for the others to struggle with their more sophisticated adult selections. He suspected that he would could keep it safe.” “Wow. now you’re even talking about a place in the Cotswolds. Later on when it’s time for field trials. I’d really like that.

Can I just say that I have a gut sensing that there are jobs out there that people will pay a lot for. and most have lost them through trauma and aren’t really in all that fit a condition. no explanation is necessary. You however are a totally different kettle of fish. That brings you into a whole different dynamic. you really started training years ago because wheelchair racing isn’t a million miles away from what you’re going to be doing now. I’m just curious that’s all. The desserts had arrived and Alex was tucking into his ice cream. if you don’t understand. If we got you three or four years down the line we wouldn’t be so lucky.“It’s a bit like boxing. Alex. Helicopters cost at least a thousand pounds an hour to keep in the air. they cause a nuisance to those below and also. he was wrong. The only difference was that he suspected that a lot of people would be paying if he didn’t fly. It had to come out of his passion rather than be a made up answer. all below know that they are there. “Mmmmmh… I can see that Magnus. if you understand. You are still developing and as you fly more and more. your development will go in that direction. I mean really useful. but it would never have any practical value. I love the idea to bits.” 78 . That will really put ISD on the map. can get off the ground for one or two kilometres in good conditions. The answer is. There is a real possibility that you can be really useful. a very fit sportsman that is. Another thing about you is that you are so young. I can really see that.” “Oh. so this is a new kind of sport then? Like a whole new thing for the Paralympics. no explanation will suffice. Our computer picked up about 25 in the whole country who might be able to do it. Maybe even paying with their lives. rather than if he did. won’t it?” “Well I don’t know how many people have a condition similar to yours. Also it wasn’t that far from the truth.” If Magnus hoped that this line of thought would divert the conversation. ‘Why Box?’ People ask. what is the reason behind us doing it? … I mean. don’t get me wrong. But a man. All of them have retained some parts of their upper femurs. “So if it’s not going to be a major event in the Paralympics. You’re half the normal weight and so your flight kit can also be half the weight. As it is. and leave it like that?” Magnus was pleased with this answer.” “There’s been a lot of time and money spent on man-powered flight already.

79 .

This etheric emanation would gradually fade over time. could only be realised as voids. As she built up her confidence. Many of her friends wondered what engrossed her in so much walking. and this Livvy began to realise was the key. as absences. who could see the colourful rich landscapes and townscapes of the area. designer clothes and parties. As long as she increased the areas where she walked incrementally. Once perceived. found it tedious compared to their high stimulus lifestyles coloured by television. teen magazines. computer games. Although her very limited sight gave her a basic framework. Although that level of stimulation was not available to Livvy. the inner trunk absorbed and stored the bio-plasm created by the green actively-living outer layer so that it too continued to be full of life. It sometimes carried a residual aura. Inanimate things such as bricks. The first was the fabulously rich world of auras and atmospherics that was increasingly opening up to her as her capacity to sense these things matured. and bumped into imperceptible new timber products that had been yanked and 80 . it often still carried this residual substance. concrete and pavement. caressed and loved by human hands. unless. however. the makeup of this new world was entirely animate. as incursions into the world of living things. She somehow sensed that it was part of her calling to do this. As wood in furniture and in other objects. In the tree. Rusty could always help her to find her way back.Chapter 9 A Conversation with Judith Livvy had taken to walking in urban settings. she was beginning to build an extraordinary three-dimensional model of the world in her consciousness. Even they. Livvy had first noticed this in Judith’s house. The other was harder to put her finger on. unless it was crafted. At first it was just around the blocks and streets near her Richmond home. there were two other reasons why walking held her attention. Wood was slightly different. She had been in the presence of three hundred year old pieces of furniture that glowed as warmly as a coal fire. Through her increased mobility due to the companionship of Rusty. she began to be aware of it in many places. it began to be for more adventurous treks onto common land further afield. Judith had told her that wood was like a sponge for auric substance.

It had been worked on by a genius stonemason. the weekends became oases for a different order of learning. She planned to spend a week with her over Christmas as the time she spent with Judith began to satisfy a longing that was very deep within her. One Friday evening. Livvy had begun to visit Judith for a couple of weekends each month. She would sometimes notice logs rotting on the common land. She made arrangements. Livvy had once sensed a faint aura in a piece of stone. She suspected that all stones carried their particular auras but that she was as yet too insensitive to be aware of them. but someone who could lead her far more quickly and easily down the path that she had already begun on her own. It was. it was as though she was flying in outer space. a thought surfaced that had been playing in the back of her mind for several weeks. she loved to delve deeply into the wood. Using her special senses. had been held in this particular piece for hundreds of years. By then she would have just finished her ‘A’ level exams. what she could mistake to be a solid field that she could easily walk on. just after she had arrived in Norton. that she could perceive the surface clearly enough to walk on. could actually be full of holes and jagged obstacles. Avoiding such dangers was Rusty’s job.was not just the rapidly fading aura of the original tree but sparkling teams of busy demolition experts in the form of insects and grubs. Livvy was becoming aware of the auras of different soils in a similar way. Now. Of course the grasses and other ground covers also had their background texture of mist and swirls.” 81 . “Judith?” “Yes Livvy. There present in its depths . after some months in which she had come to know this extraordinary woman better. However. imbued into it by this long-dead man. on just such a walk that she had met Judith. of course. There were some soils that were so rich in organic life. As she walked on such a surface. she was beginning to realise that she had not only found a kindred spirit. It revealed itself to her more as a pool of deep water than a hard surface. Some soils were quite dead. The care and respect. Meanwhile. So it was that this growing enthralment with the world around her took Livvy on her long walks.bruised by machines. that she would spend the summer with Judith at Norton Sub-Edge from mid June onwards. with her parent’s blessing.

There are hand rails to help you build confidence. Everybody laughed and shouted ‘Reject!’ because it looked like I had been rejected off the end of a manufacturer’s production line. “Yes. Livvy?” Livvy could hear the sadness now in Judith’s voice. I couldn’t have suggested it myself.” “Oh.“I’d like to learn to run. Shell shock they called it then 82 . “that’s something that has to come from you.” Livvy had noticed a slight change in the white of Judith’s atmosphere. “What was your dad like Judith?” “Well.” “You’ve been waiting for me to ask?” enquired Livvy incredulously. I once turned it up very fast and tried to run.” she replied. “No more than a mother. She identified the blue nimbus as being the same emotion in Judith’s atmosphere. She would ask. “but it has taken quite a while for him not to see me as a child anymore. He had a very subdued aura and almost no atmosphere at all. I just didn’t have the confidence to go that fast without being able to see the ground under my feet. It was as if he was in a daze all the time. I imagined that it was just like walking only faster. He didn’t come back till I was nearly ten.” the older woman replied after a pause.” replied Judith.” “Well. would eventually expect her to run. watching her toddler walk. That’s like a piece of flat rubber that moves underneath you. I could help you but you’d soon be doing it anyway. “Do you spend a lot of time with your father. “I didn’t run until I was twenty-two. He hardly noticed me after he came back.” Livvy laughed herself but noticed that the blue deepened even more at the mention of her father.” She was curious and wondered what the sadness was. I literally couldn’t run.” She felt Judith’s attention focus on her more intently. Judith. I have a bit of an idea. a nimbus with a bluer hue. They have a treadmill there that I’ve been on. “My dad sometimes takes me to a Gym. you mean it’s a natural progression?” “Absolutely. he went off to war when I was five. I almost think that he would rather I hadn’t grown up. You actually have to walk to stay in one place. It was exhilarating but then I fell and this thing dumped me out of one end. I did once. I didn’t know what to do. We had a lot of fun when my sister and I were little. I don’t remember much of him before that. “Good.

Livvy had placed Judith in her early sixties both from the vigour of her voice and from the robust life that she led. now that she knew she was in her nineties. given it a stir and drunk it down. that’s why we’ll have the place to ourselves. finally breaking the silence. We think that eventually led to his death.” “That sounds wonderful! Let’s do it. or rather this great-grandmother figure. She herself was not uncomfortable with long periods of silence but she sensed that Livvy wanted to fill the gaps in their conversation with words. I didn’t really understand what had happened to him until much later after he died. “We’ll get up early tomorrow… about seven before anyone is around. I just felt that I didn’t matter to him. She let herself relax even more on Livvy’s behalf. Livvy. Oooooo!… Seven o’clock though… on a Saturday morning?” “Well. Judith had waited patiently all evening for Livvy’s excitement to mellow. Gradually she sensed her guest begin to feel more at home. Judith?” “The first. Rusty should enjoy that. It was as if her high expectations were actually getting in the way of them finding a deeper connection with each other.and he had suffered a gas attack as well. that’s what everybody thinks.” Livvy was silent for a while.” “Gas attack? Which war was he in. The colour of Judith’s atmosphere returned to nearer white again. She had a warm blanket pulled around her that she snuggled into before wriggling lower into the settee. We’ll go over to the playing fields and we’ll just run. more herself. It was as if she had dissolved some distant memory into a clear liquid.” Judith chuckled softly and Livvy heard her stir as she felt for another log to put on the fire. It was Judith who broke the silence. People take post-traumatic shock that much more seriously now but then I took it personally. taking this in. the tinge of blue had long disappeared and Judith’s aura and atmosphere were unified into a soft but full and steady glow. Those were different days.” “Judith… when were you born?” “1910. It was true. “You’re turning gold!” Livvy said. We’ll walk around first to make sure. Suddenly she felt a deep love for this mother figure. She seemed to be less anxious. It’s flat there. 83 . Judith’s attention was on the young woman’s aura as she placed the wood on the fire. Then it was too late.

Judith continued. “Auras are real. It enfolded her with a sense of inclusion. It carried no etheric emanation. In fact. “When you come along. Livvy could actually see it faintly with her eyes.” Judith went on. feel it with your heart. but the light has taken on the image of the surface that is reflecting it. Livvy.” “Uh huh. Livvy. I’ll try and say something about what I meant. apart from one dark place that was the crackling fire. your aura touches the aura of the living thing and the two resonate together. but don’t treat it as logic. “Do you remember when we first met?” Livvy asked at length. You will have to feel out the answer with respect to what you yourself have experienced.” agreed Livvy.” “Can I ever be aware of the aura of the other thing as it is without me there?” 84 . “We were talking about the auras that living things have and you said something like ‘They don’t do it when you’re not there. You don’t perceive an image of the thing. like a torch and some things living things . The wood being burnt however was asleep. again breaking the silence. enjoying the experience of Judith’s presence around her.” “So.sort of come more alive in my light and that is how I perceive them?” “Very succinctly put.They could both feel the warmth of the fire. Not even as the flames heated and opened it up. They are a kind of precursor to the living thing itself. Your aura enhances the aura of what it has touched. You become aware of the enhanced primal pattern… the very life of the thing. a room filled with soft auric light. They’re like something that connects the undimensional with the dimensional.” Livvy nodded slightly. It would be an odd image for us to experience. are you saying that I shine like a light. “There isn’t an easy answer to that. my dear. She saw a warm rose-white emanation from Judith roll over her. She felt both a clearing of her senses and a deep relaxation at the same time.’ …What did you mean?” Judith thought for a bit. They see the light. could anything be perceived as an aura in the fire. “When people see with their eyes. “what they see is sunlight bouncing off of what they are looking at.

there is no such things as another being or another thing. The energy is the same but it is moulded and formed by the thoughts and emotions of the person. Judith sat very still and Livvy could feel her attention resting upon her. then you’re actually not loving being exactly where you are. It could equally have been a short time. The aura of a person. They also carry an atmosphere. It really is a sword that turns every which way.” “Because everything is a deeper part of what is here?” Livvy almost mused this to herself as she was taking in what Judith had said.’ Whether she was doing this through her eyes or through the auric substance that enfolded her. Livvy didn’t know. If you actually do that for a period of time.“Only at a deeper level.” answered Judith. change colour rapidly. somewhere deeper. Livvy broke the silence. We hurt ourselves and we hurt others. If you go deep enough into your heart. Livvy. Then we 85 . you still affect them and have a relationship with them. You have to really love being here… right here. Livvy felt rather than heard her say. You’ve seen this. one day you begin to notice something more. You have to love being exactly where you are. You’re yearning to be somewhere else. “I can perceive the auras of other people. Whose auras are they?” “It’s the aura of your relationship together. The atmosphere is a sort of layer within the aura. It was one of those times when you just didn’t know how long it had been. change texture and become as a deep pool all within a few moments. The aura of course is much more redolent of the pure nature of being.” “Are you aware of the auras of other things as they are. ‘yes. and if you are trying to do that in order to go deeper. Human beings have the potential for a vast and vibrant aura but we hurt ourselves by turning that energy into atmospherics that clash and contend with the atmospheres of other people. now… wherever that is. It can be disturbed. “is the precursor of their presence in the same way that the aura of any other living being is. and you won’t get there because you’re not here with your attention. You can’t even learn to go there with a lot of practice. They both sat in silence for what seemed like a long time. “Even if someone isn’t conscious of your presence.” she continued. I’ve watched you read them. Have you been to that deeper place?” “Such questions Livvy! It’s not a place you can decide to go to.

otherwise you will be confused. made visible to us in that way.” said Livvy.the surface reason anyway .” Livvy yawned and stretched and agreed silently with her.much of what you saw would either overwhelm you or distract you from what is really there.is that you are blind. unless we choose to pay attention to them. feel it with your heart.” “Hmmm. “If we are going to get up early. Don’t think about what I am telling you. So… what we do is to turn the power down to a level where the hurt isn’t so damaging. She also knew that she would probably have to be told it in many different ways over time before she would begin to understand it. you began to feel things with your heart. Their sense of communion had developed to a point where some simple things didn’t have to be said with words but could be conveyed by osmosis through their shared atmosphere. The reason you are so aware of the underlying reality . The fire was still warm but had passed its peak. We do that in order to survive. Somehow. 86 . Livvy. That part of your brain receives almost nothing. pondering. “I guess we had better go to bed. We learn to live at a level where we can hide our feelings unless we choose to reveal them. We seem to see things.” said Judith.in the normal way . dear. If you could see visually . making no outward sign of having done so. Judith had a long clock in the back of the room and it chimed eleven.see that we have hurt others and that hurts us even more. So. There is a huge part of your brain that is waiting to process information from your eyes in order to create a visual world for you to live in. but they are actually the deeply felt sensing of our hearts. in myself and in my teacher Anna. and we translate them as colours and textures as if they were made of light. “What do you mean by turning our senses down a level?” “Livvy. We don’t have to know the feelings of others either.” Livvy knew the importance of what she was being told. she would never understand unless she continued to live and explore fully what was in front of her each and every day. and there are others… Somehow there has been a connection made between our hearts and the visual cortex of our brains. in you. It’s a vast capacity unused. She also knew that no matter how many times she was told.

“I include you in this too. as the saying goes. He was bending over to put some last finishing touches onto what looked very much like the fully developed wing suit that he had seen in the drawings. could wheel through into the room. It’s innate in you. He held the door open so that Alex. climb. Magnus…” Alex’s voice trailed off as he caught sight of what was in the room. “Well… point taken. The process that builds neural pathways between the mind and the body is exactly the same. That’s all legs are. Alex. you name it. do hand stands. already wearing the specially fitted jacket. “What I mean is that if you did have legs when you were born. Literally hundreds of muscles are used throughout every part of the body. “The next step is to run on a treadmill. twist around. deliberately not noticing Alex’s astonishment. Alex.” Magnus paused with his hands in his pockets. “and believe me… this tool will use up every last bit of that innate motor consciousness that you have waiting inside you there!” 87 . Fred was there.” Magnus continued.” Magnus told Alex as they approached the end of the corridor. The same goes for people in later life if they lose that capacity due to an accident or a stroke or something. This is how we can dance.” “The running analogy doesn’t have much meaning for me. gazing at the wing suit. The only thing you have been missing is a couple of tools. “Walking and running are extremely complicated processes.” He paused to ensure Alex’s attention. This is your new tool. run. You have the capacity to do all of those things. jump. tools for expressing yourself in the world. There’s a huge part of your motor consciousness waiting to be used. You would have had to learn to crawl before you walked. Tiny intrinsic ones right up to large motor ones are used in perfect rhythm and co-ordination.Chapter 10 Learning to Crawl “What you’ve been doing so far has been like running on the spot. you would have had to go through a learning process.

” Fred turned and smiled as they walked up to him.“Wow. He was enthralled with the wing suit. They are set close together in the side-to-side direction so that you will have to use the wings to balance. I’ve changed the analogy but the fact is the same. Magnus!” Alex was shaking his head slowly from side to side. Have a go at pulling yourself up. is designed to act as an analogue of the air resistance that the wing suit will have. the wings arched up at a shallow angle from the middle before gracefully arching down again at the ends.” “When can we start? That’s all I want to know.” Fred told them. “I can’t wait to get it on!” “Well you’re going to have to wait.” “Right now Alex! Get yourself out of that chair and swing up here. you will be able to swing up and clip your jacket into the 88 . It was like Leonardo come alive. “Essential repairs is what we told them. We hope that with practice. “This bar at the leading edge braces the two wings.’ If you learn to crawl in this thing and do nothing else. It’s going to take all you’ve got. Well. but enjoy the moment. ISD also designed it as an aid to get you up and in. Stretching seven metres from tip to tip. The bit we really need is this large uncluttered polished floor. “OK… Keep the vision. They won’t let you go right over but learning to control roll is as important as anything.” “I don’t know. “I’m afraid we’ve had to exclude the staff for a week or so. These are high quality low friction rollers that build up resistance to motion in proportion to the speed you go. there are sure to be some real mishaps on the way. Crawling is going to be hard. Let’s go. He was really only half listening to Magnus’s monologue. You have to learn to crawl before you can fly. surely the lure of being able to fly will help me through the crawling?” “Go easy Alex.” he paused briefly. Alex. Never mind ‘can’t wait ‘till you fly. it will be a fantastic achievement. The wing suit was mounted on a wheeled base just over a metre off of the floor. Magnus.” Fred pointed. There were basketball nets at either end and piles of rubber mats. It was tipped up as if about to fly straight up into the sky. This ‘trolley’ thing here Alex. They were in a large gymnasium. The floors were of polished wood and the walls lined with climbing frames and ropes.

for after about a metre. The motion of Alex tipping into position set the rollers moving forward at a slow pace. “That’s the effect we want you to learn to counteract. Magnus went to the downed wing and straightened him up.” Fred was pointing to the mechanism beyond the hand holds. swung himself up out of the chair and grasped the head bar. then about moving forward. This pushes a mass of air 40% back.mounting in a few seconds. It should be enough to get you up into the air so that you can glide downwards to pick up speed. Here. Alex must have moved in the wrong direction. and connected up to the final prototype rather than pulleys and springs. “That’s remarkable Alex. This is much more about using the warping of the wings to steady yourself. “As you will see Alex. We are already designing the launch and landing platforms. He sounded pleased. the outer half of the wing warps down and swings back.” He needn’t have bothered. turning his body as he went so that with his other hand he could clip in the jacket.” Fred showed Alex the control handholds on the wing assemblies. “Now reach out your right arm to lower yourself and find the catch on the head bar. “you will be constantly buffeted by side winds and air pockets. so use your energy well. “when you pull back in the way you have been doing on the exercise rig. the apparatus tipped to one side and turned a small circle coming quickly to a stop. Alex was pretty familiar with them from his 180 hours of practice on the exercise rig over the last two months. Alex released the catch and the wing suit tipped forward onto the trolley. He pulled himself up. They were designed to make optimum use of his strong arm muscles with the head bar taking the strain of holding the wings. I will get ready to catch you if it is too fast. He followed the route pointed out by Fred. Hopefully you will land on high places as well. 50% down and 10% outward.” commented Fred. 89 . This is the wing stroke that you should use to get yourself off the ground. You will always start out from places that have an initial height to give you the speed you will need to get you flying.” Alex didn’t need a second invitation. release the catch and let yourself down. They were more refined on the wing suit however.” Fred congratulated him. It takes a lot of effort. We’ll watch how you do it. When you are ready. Alex.

“uses the wings to act as wide propellor blades. In this case. Fred went on with his instructions. “Okay. he began rolling forwards on the rollers. We’ve actually designed it to be a dynamic. you’re pushing the wind. You will be able to sense what to do because you will be continuously informed through the sounds coming from the sensors placed in the wings themselves and from the way your movement effects your sense of balance. extension of yourself.” “The other kind of stroke is achieved once you are up and soaring. Magnus caught the wing and pushed it back up but it immediately went over to the other side. so you should be able to sustain it for long periods. you’re also pulling against the return springs.” continued Fred. Turn the handholds through 45 degrees and you will automatically change the way the pulleys work. the outer wings now moved in a more graceful up and down movement. “This stroke. You’re not just pulling against the air. “I can feel the bite. It is exactly the same principle as sailing close into the wind with a triangular sail. instead of the blades moving in a full circle. He tipped over to one side after about six metres.” Alex did this and as he pulled. “I can actually feel the resistance of the air!” “OK. The only difference is that instead of the wind pushing you. Alex. It was Magnus this time who spoke. We don’t want this to be a fixed wing aircraft. This stroke uses a lot less energy than the take off strokes. almost lifting himself off of the ground. By pulling harder on one side than the other you will be able to maintain balance and stability. go for it Alex! We’ll steady you while you learn.” he said excitedly.” Alex turned the handholds to the starting angle and vigorously pulled back on the wings as if to launch himself into the air. “Try 90 . shape-changing.“Notice how as soon as you release the wings after the back pull. The fabric of the wings flexes so that as the wings move up and down they thrust the air backwards.” Alex did this tentatively and as the wings fanned the air backwards. Go through the sequence as if you were going to take off. they move up and down in short segments of a circle. they flatten to give lift as they spring forward again.” This time Alex was able to move the rig forward at a good pace. “So far we have tried to avoid the use of spoilers and aerleons.” Fred stood behind the left wing and Magnus behind the right.

As well as the training he had been doing on the exercise rig. This time when the wings began to tip to one side. 91 . Two special staff.pulling on one side only when that happens. you will also be straightening yourself as well as levelling yourself. This balancing procedure was considerably helped by his swimming practice.” Judy had told him.” Fred said encouragingly as he straightened the rig. These two members of the ISD staff were being drafted in to help in a much more intense way as the preparations were made. He had spent about 40 hours in the water over the last two months in addition to the 180 hours on the exercise rig.” It took Alex about two hours to begin to get the feel for how to maintain balance. Alex. Alex had also spent quite a bit of time in the staff swimming pool at ISD. They rolled Alex back to the end of the hall and he tried it again. he was able to right himself by pulling harder on the side that was dipping. He could also get a feel for creating and countering rolls in his motion through the water. Alex was taught the rudiments of ‘flying’ underwater by Judy. “this should be very useful practice for you.” said Fred. rather like a merman’s. Patrick and Judy actually did do some cleaning as he swam around in the pool. Using his arms in a breast stoke. By bending his back convex and concave or by twisting his spine.” Judy fitted him with small paddles for his hands.” she pointed out. “See that’s the control. “The main difference being that water is a similar density to your body whereas air is of course much lighter. “if you feel yourself going over to the left. Alex had been fitted out with a special swim suit made on the same cast as the wing suit. you will most likely find that the accidental tipping to the left steers you to the left so when you take corrective action. This suit had a flat tail fixed to it. pull harder on the left wing and you should level yourself. Still. he could spiral and curve up and down in the underwater world.” “Won’t that steer me to the right though?” asked Alex. “No. he could propel himself forward quite fast. “Swimming in the water is quite different from flying in the air in many respects. He had been doing this during a midmorning period when all the staff were at work and the pool was closed for maintenance. who was an expert swimmer as well as an aerodynamics physicist.

.... The wing suit broke down into a remarkably small package. Patrick and Judy drove down with Alex to the blower rig facility.... for the next four days.. It was a huge machine. It was very similar to the ‘merman’s tail. With careful coaching.. He spent six hours a day in two.. “We didn’t want to distract you from you roll practice by adding this piece until now.” . three hour stints.. the tail would also twist putting a further dynamic control onto Alex’s turning and rolling abilities. “There is one more part of the wing suit that you haven’t seen yet and that is the tail........ It could easily be placed on the roof rack of Fred’s car...... This time Alex was suspended in the wing suit in front of the blower.... the minimum flight speed of the wing suit..... By twisting his body.... but otherwise things were looking promising.. Magnus stayed away for the exercise whilst Fred...Alex’s back and stomach muscles were becoming stronger.... 3 ½ metres long.. travelling up to 44 kph. the wing suit tail could be pulled underneath him to initiate a dive.. “Although you won’t be using the tail whilst on the trolley.... more like a bank of large fans... dating from the late 1940’s that could produce a stream of air. He had been using them in the wheelchair racing for steering and bracing himself into the chair but now they were being used in a direct and demanding way with instant back pressure and response from the water. It was these swimming skills that began to come into play as he learned to balance and propel himself in the wing suit around the ISD gymnasium.. It was clear that the gym was too short..” Fred told him. It was located at a defence facility some fifty miles from ISD. Alex was coming to love swimming in a way that he felt could only be surpassed by a love of flying.. The suspension was via a hook held within a large ring. before going on. we want you to get used to wearing it for another couple of days before the next step. 20 kph before hitting a pile of landing mats on the far end of the gym. The wind tunnel was actually what is called a blower rig.. The last step before you leave the ground is the wind tunnel....” Fred explained.. He was able to achieve. only this one was designed to cut through the air rather than the water.. Magnus wanted him to be able to accelerate to 27 kph. Like the water tail.. practising on the trolley. A 30 by 30 cm box.. Alex would be able to control his flight so that the hook didn’t touch the ring at all.. or his back could be arched to cause the wing to climb sharply.... They brought it out.. It was a warm 92 .

We’ll start you above the blower. “This is about the speed of a bicycle on flat ground going at a steady pace. 93 . He may have been in the safety of the suspension bracket in front of the blower. It’s nothing spectacular Alex. so let’s see how you handle it. but for fifteen brilliant seconds on that first flight. The sun was out and it was quite warm.quiet day. just above the minimum estimated speed needed to keep the wing suit aloft. Patrick assisted Alex up into the suit and the blower was turned onto 28 kph. so that you can angle downwards and simply glide.” It was in this way that Alex finally became airborne. Alex felt himself lift free from his bonds with the earth. Bonds that had presented him with such a challenge in his short eighteen years of life.

I have to breathe much faster than normal and I can feel my heart pounding in my chest. Have you never been out of breath?” “Oh of course I have.” “How do you avoid hitting your head on the edge of the pool?” 94 .Chapter 11 Learning to Trust Judith woke Livvy at six-thirty. you get out of breath of course. “We’ll have more of a breakfast later. a lot of it under water because I love the feeling of turning and twisting.” replied Livvy hastily. It’s like flying.” she told Livvy. I can stay under for up to three minutes.” “Well you wouldn’t want to do that on a full stomach either. I’ve been swimming an hour or two a day since I was five. and you can feel a bit nauseous. Do you swim a lot. covering her embarrassment for having asked a silly question “When I have been swimming really hard. “You won’t want to run on a full stomach. Livvy?” “Yes I do. She had got up half an hour before and gently cooked a pan of porridge.” “Why? What happens?” “Well. That has been my main form of exercise and I love it.

Three minutes. They called it ‘New Moon Running. They could keep on going for one. Here I was concerned about you having done little so far to develop your strength and now you tell me this. It was also instinctually flying in the sense that avoiding trees and ducking under branches were done on reflex rather than through conscious perception. It has a little ear piece and bleeps when I come within half a metre of a hard surface. There were things about shamanism and dream-times… things that I really have a feel for having had all the experiences that I’ve had. “I guess if I had studied your aura a little more closely I would have seen it… now that I have. They carried news and massages between the distant pueblos… and they were always honoured because in a sense.“I have a little devise which goes on a head band that holds back my hair. it’s true… it can be done. I’m amazed. eh. The European invaders used them because they were far faster than their own riders on horseback. “For them it was a mystical participation as an integral part of the world.” she began. Well I never. even two days at a time covering sometimes hundreds of kilometres. It’s really helpful when I’m doing lengths. “Yes. They performed what were 95 . both literally and like flying on instinct. She decided to broach a subject that had been with her for a few days.’ It was supposed to be like flying. She paused before she spoke. “It was about the native American people and aspects of their culture that really push-up against the beliefs that we have in our culture.” She paused for a moment and Livvy could feel her scrutiny. any root or stone is negotiated through the lightness of step. They would mix sprints with jogging for hours.” Judith listened closely to Livvy. then rest briefly before setting off again. Literally flying in the sense that if you are moving fast enough that your feet hardly touch the ground.that’s what they call their warriors some of the braves had developed the ability to run long distances in the dark. it stands out a mile.” Livvy was pleased indeed with this praise. Judith’s comments gave her confidence.” “Livvy. the runner was the message.” Her atmosphere became somehow deeper and even more magical. “I was listening to a radio program the other day. There was another thing though which intrigued me. They said that some of the braves . Rusty had got up from his bed long enough to recurl himself around Livvy’s feet. She sat silently and spooned her porridge a bit to cool it down.

Their skin ceased to be the barrier between themselves and the world at large… it became instead the connection. In the day. I in turn could teach you. Livvy was regularity surprised by the woman. Even clothed. but cold porridge…?” It was true. the previously steaming hot bowls had cooled sufficiently to be eaten without caution. “let’s eat. It was not for the first time that she had suddenly realised of how much she still underestimated Judith. It was that feeling that Judith was aware of rather than the words. “Well…” said the old woman pulling her bowl towards her. They taught her much and she passed some of it onto me. “I am. She had come to understand that just as the villagers simply saw an old woman rather than the dynamic. “There are acres of nettles. Ever since she first met her. scrape yourself on rocks and cut yourself on branches before you have learned all there is to know… and you will have to welcome it… come to love it… see it as good medicine. “New Moon Running was a sacred ritual… and they ran naked. thistles and blackthorn around here Livvy. cooked with such 96 . As if in answer to that feeling. Their skin became such that the bite of insects and the sting of harsh plants was only pleasurable… it was good medicine. Anna knew many of these wonderful people. rain-cloud-blown-by-wind. They did this in silence as the porridge. Without such feelings.” Judith’s reply pulled Livvy out of her morning reverie. Livvy felt naked in the light of Judith’s focussed attention. atmospherically-aware individual that she actually was.phenomenal feats to the Europeans of the day who witnessed them. Judith… I really am!” Her words sounded flat compared with the feeling inside her. words are cheap. their auric perceptions were fully engaged. I’d very much like to learn that. she herself was incapable of being aware of the experience and capability that Judith actually had. Are you willing to do that?” Livvy felt a thrill run through the depths of her very being. you will fall. I have done a little of it.” She paused again. She could sense an intense scrutiny. you become sun-on-his-path… in the dark of night. “Yes. Nettles we’ll welcome.” The young woman replied after regrouping her thoughts. Although neither woman was looking at the other. She knew in that profound place that this was a step on the path that she was here to do. Livvy waited patiently. particularly the Hopis. the old woman answered.

careful attention that it carried a strong aura, could be perceived clearly enough that they could spoon their bowls clean without the clink of cutlery on china. “This morning we will start on the flat ground of the playing fields and see how you do.” Judith smiled atmospherically. “When you’ve learned to run… then we’ll start to think about flying.” ............................................................... The cool of the night had not yet left the air over the playing field. “Take your shoes off, Livvy.” instructed Judith. Livvy instantly obeyed. She now felt shy in the older woman’s presence… shy and tingling with excitement and fear. She felt the cold dew between her toes and the luxurious grass cupping her heels and tickling the balls of her feet. “Stands still and feel your presence on the soil,” she was almost chanting now in little more than a whisper. Livvy felt her words penetrating her soul and warming her heart. She did as she was told. “Feel your roots growing out of the bottom of your feet… Feel them growing deep, deep down into the soft rich soil… you can’t fly till you’ve been rooted in the ground.” Livvy again did as she was told. She could feel her own presence growing down through the wet grass, now warming it, now entering it and claiming it. “Now take a step with one foot forward.” Livvy shifted her weight onto one leg and moved her other foot forward and placed it onto the cool dewy grass again. She felt Judith’s toe lightly touch the inner border of her foot. “Get some width,” the old woman said. Judith lifted her foot and moved it outwards. “I’m just going to push on you a bit,” she whispered softly. “If you resist, you will fall over, if you are pliant and bend with me you won’t.” Livvy nodded, trying not to be tense. She felt Judith’s light touch on her left shoulder. It pressed more firmly and she had to take a step to prevent herself from falling. “Pay attention to your roots, dear,” Judith said softly. “Imagine your roots are strong and deep and that you cannot be pushed over. Then you can bend with me.” Livvy again felt the gentle but firm push of the woman’s hand on her shoulder. Again she had to take a step. “Just trust me, Livvy, trust me. I won’t push on you in a way that will unbalance you. Rest your attention in your roots. Imagine how strong they are.

97

Then bend with me as I push on you.” This time Livvy could feel the strength of her attachment deep within the earth. It was as if her own aura had grown down into the soft soil under her feet. She felt the pressure of Judith’s hand. She bent her body to move with the pressure. Instinctively she turned her hips to move the other way to maintain her balance. It worked. Judith’s hand moved right on past her and she straightened herself back up again. “Very good, Livvy, very good,” chanted Judith softly, “Be still in yourself, pay attention to your roots and follow me.” Again Judith pushed on Livvy’s shoulder. Soon her trust in herself and in Judith grew so that wherever Judith pushed on her, she could nimbly move in response. “We will do this every morning Livvy, until you feel like a silk thread under my hand. You will be there but only just there. I will sense you but as I press on you, you will be gone from that place.” Livvy felt herself glow under Judith’s confidence. They carried on for another ten minutes until Livvy began to move like a lithe young willow sapling. Her feet were warm on the grass and her skin began to glow with the exercise. She paused the movement to take off her jumper. She was wearing a T shirt underneath. “OK, Livvy, I think you’re ready.” Livvy nodded. “Yes I am,” she said. It was as though another person was speaking through her. Someone who was her, but whom she had not been before. “Yes I am,” she repeated. She felt Judith walk around behind her. She placed her hands gently on her shoulders and she could hear her sweet breath in her ear. “Can you see the grass before you… with your heart?” Livvy nodded. “And the hedgerow at the other end of the field?” Again Livvy nodded. “Then run to it.” “How?” “Walk… Walk fast… Then walk so fast that your whole body leaves the ground before your next step has landed. Do it Livvy. You know how. It’s in your very being. God and animals have run long before you. They have laid down the way. Just follow it.” As if in a trance, yet far more in her own body than she had ever been, Livvy stepped forward… then again… and again. She began walking faster than she had ever done before. She took bigger steps than she had ever done before. The aura of the hedge loomed larger, faster than it ever would have done before. It was still walking… faster, bigger, but still she was only walking.

98

“Stop, Livvy,” called Judith after her. Livvy slowed down and stopped. She turned and took in the landscape behind her. Her breathing had increased in pace and she could feel her heart beat. The sward of grass glowed in its auric light, the gentle yellows disturbed and more intense where she had walked. There at the end of the trail of disturbed grass was the magnificent aura of Judith, waiting for her. “Now come back, Livvy. Follow your own path. You’ve just walked it so you know it’s safe. Trust it. Leap with your toes as you finish each step. Feel the roots beckon to your next step!” Livvy began again. Again she speeded up her pace. Again her strides got larger. Again the aura of Judith loomed up faster that ever before. But it was still fast walking. There was something else she had to do. “That was a valiant start, Livvy,” said Judith. “I can hear some children coming from the village. Let’s go back home. I have an idea to try before we have some breakfast.

................................................................
Rusty reached the entrance into Judith’s garden. He had learned to lift the latch with his nose and did so now before pushing open the gate in the dry stone wall. He led Livvy through onto a path which was to her like a dark snake wandering through a resplendent world of auric colour and scent, well orchestrated with the sound of birds. “Before you go in, Livvy,” called Judith from behind, “There is something I want to show you. “Livvy paused and waited for Judith to catch her up. She didn’t turn as a sighted person would, but simply became still and felt the growing proximity of Judith’s presence as her mentor came near. “Over here, I’ll show you,” said Judith, not so much beckoning to Livvy as to Rusty, so that the dog would help the young woman negotiate the way off of the path, over some stones and onto the lawn. She stopped under a large aurically vibrant tree. She reached up and pulled down a branch. To Livvy, It appeared to be a long tracery of blue and yellow lights moving gently back and forth in a narrow gently curving line, adorned in abundance with vivid violet leaves interspersed with a scattering of garishly pink, marble-sized spheres, dangling on the end of dark green, short, slender stems. It was these spheres that Judith

99

reached up for. She pulled at some of them and they came easily away in her hand. “Here Livvy, taste these,” she said, placing some of them in Livvy’s hand. They felt cool, full and firm, and Livvy lifted one of them up to her mouth and bit into it. “Oh my goodness,” cried Livvy in surprise. “Cherries! But they’re gorgeous… I’ve never tasted any as delicious as these. Their aura is amazing too. I didn’t now fruit could be so vivid.” “Well, it is a very special tree… certainly to me anyway,” replied Judith. “But it is the freshness of the picking that does it. The aura and taste fade quite quickly. After a few minutes, they would resemble what you are used to much more closely. They are even more wonderful if you pick them yourself. Try it Livvy.” Livvy took a step so that the lowest cherries were just overhead. Judith was taller than Livvy and had reached the cherries by standing on tiptoe. Livvy tried the same and the tempting fruit dangled just out of reach. “Oh dear,” said Judith, “I guess you’re going to have to jump!” Livvy was caught between a sudden rush of fear and her kindled desire for more of the cherries. She reached up again and became aware of her own longing extending her aura up well past her outstretched fingers; up and then surrounding the ripe luscious fruit.” “You’ve almost got them, Livvy,” cooed Judith, “It wouldn’t take much.” “How do I jump?” asked Livvy, the excitement causing her voice to tremble. “I’m afraid I’ll fall.” “Are you remembering the fall when you sprained your ankle?” “Maybe,” answered Livvy nervously, “I don’t know… I could be I guess.” “Will you trust me?” asked Judith gently. “Yes. Yes, of course,” Livvy whispered back. “OK then, crouch down here with me.” Livvy could hear Judith’s voice coming from below and in front of her. She crouched down facing the older woman. Judith’s aura had changed slightly. It was extensive and had a definite hint of red warmth to it; a red that was not anything like the red of anger; it was a tone that she had never seen before and all she knew about it was that she felt very safe within it.

100

“Now bend forward towards me,” coaxed Judith, gently holding the girl by the shoulders. She in turn could perceive Livvy’s aura. It was yielded; the yellow of the fear had mellowed into a kind of orange that Judith recognised although she had not seen it for many years. It showed that Livvy had finally entered into apprenticeship with her. It was a deep spiritual indenture that could not be bought. It could only come through a form of Agapé; the love of a child for her parent and the parent for the child. “Now I’m going to push you back and I want you to roll with it. You’re already in the shape of a ball, Livvy. You’ll just feel the ground reach up and gather you in.” “I’m ready,” whispered Livvy, her voice much steadier now. Judith was firm but gentle as she pushed on Livvy’s shoulders. The girl tipped backwards, her tail bone brushing the surface before the full impact of her weight rolled smoothly onto the soft yielding grass. She laughed at the ease of it. “Gosh, that was fun!” she said with a mixture of surprise and relief in her voice. “Next we’ll do it from higher up,” said Judith. “We’ll keep doing it until it becomes second nature. Falling is rarely a problem, it’s landing wrong that hurts. Livvy got up and crouched down in front of Judith again. “Now straighten your legs a bit, Livvy.” The girl did so. “This time bring your arms down behind you. They’ll find the ground and help you yield into it. Do you remember doing the exercise this morning where you went soft and floppy so that I couldn’t push you over. Livvy nodded as much through her aura as with her head. “This is the same thing, Livvy,” Judith continued softly, “the more pliant you are, the less the ground will hurt you. Just roll with it.” Again she pushed her young apprentice and again the girl rolled backwards, this time contacting the ground with the relaxed palms of her outstretched hand before landing. “Wow,” said Livvy in amazement, “I could feel every bone in my back pressing into the ground as I went. I didn’t know I had so many!” Judith laughed gently, “We’re all full of surprises, Livvy, but it’s your courage I’m admiring right now. That was good but we must do it many more times.”

101

There was a form of magic working in the garden at that moment. It was not a supernatural magic, but a natural one for all it’s unusualness. Livvy, by totally giving herself in trust to Judith had entered the older womans’s mantel. It was a mantel such as has been known between a master and his apprentice over the aeons. There was a flow of understanding and learning occurring that was beyond that which could be conveyed by words or even example. Time and time again, Livvy crouched before the older woman and time and time again she was pushed back to roll smoothly down, unharmed onto the ground. Each time she was asked to straighten her legs slightly more than before, to roll back from a higher stance. After some twenty rolls, Livvy was doing it from standing. As she began to fall backwards, she began to bend smoothly, her hands touching the ground to smoothly guide her pliant rounded form into the grass covered soft soil. Livvy’s fear had left her and a soft giggle was filling her voice as she fell. “Oh my goodness! This is great!” she cried after falling back for the umpteenth time before laughing some more. “What have I been so afraid of?” “Well, it’s not all so soft and friendly as it is here,” replied Judith joining in the laughter, “not by any means.” She paused and became sober. She knelt down beside Livvy. “But trust your dog, Livvy. Trust Rusty. He’ll keep you clear of those places.” Livvy sobered too and took in what Judith had said… took it in deeply. She rolled over and got up onto her knees before putting one leg out and straightening up. As she stood, she became aware that the surprisingly nimble Judith was already standing beside her. “Now the cherries,” said the older woman. Livvy could tell that she was beaming. She turned her attention upwards and there they still were, dangling temptingly, just out of reach. “How do I jump?” she asked again, this time with a hint of wonder where the fear had been. “Bend your knees, then straighten them suddenly and at the same time, push down with the toes of your feet. Livvy bent her knees in a slightly unsteady way. She straightened them at the same time pressing down with the toes of her feet. It might have been a graceful move in a ballet, but her feet didn’t leave the ground. “Think of the cherries, Livvy. Pay attention to them.”

102

Livvy took in the auric shape of her outstretched hand. Her desire again flowed out through her as a strong, green wisp of energy, rising up past her fingertips and enveloping the glowing, marble-like pink shapes of the fruit hanging so temptingly above her. As with Eve of old, the longing for the fruit filled her with a power and a daring. It touched far into her soul so much so that almost without thinking she bent her legs again, this time more deeply, and then sprang up, her hand reaching, indeed soaring up to grasp the fruit. Livvy, if only for a fleeting instant, had finally left the clinging, sanctity of the earth and took herself up into the freedom and stillness of the scent-laden, morning air that filled the garden at Judith’s house. It wasn’t just a jump, it was a leap into the rest of her life.

Chapter 12
The Secret
“As we said in the beginning, Alex, once your in the air, no problem. It’s the take off and landing that we have to think about.” Magnus was sitting at a large planning desk with Alex to his right and Fred to his left. “Birds do it by hovering and then dropping onto lightweight legs set well back on their bodies.” Magnus was laying out A3 drawings as he spoke. The first ones showed various species of birds in process of landing on the ground or onto tree limbs. “Bats, take off and land from high places. If they ever end up on the ground they can be in a lot of trouble. A bat doesn’t try and get around any way except by flying.” He placed another card out, this time with a depiction in slow motion of a bat approaching a roost. It was reaching out with its back legs to grab on before dropping to hang upside-down. “Here is an interpretation of how it is believed the Pterosaurs landed and moved about the ground.” This card showed a prehistoric flying lizard, standing on its tiny hind legs which also served to stretch out the rear web of its wings. The main part of the wings were stretched out by his arms. These folded down so that it could walk on its ‘elbows.’ The long wings tips farther out from his elbows were folded back up beside his forearms.

103

“Aircraft of course use wheels which are usually retracted after takeoff so that they don’t compromise the flight performance. Alex smiled back obviously interested.” Magnus looked over his glasses at Alex to see how he was doing. and airbags that surround an object to make a damage-free crash-landing. the last metre or so. That’s how the craft is stabilised and steered.NASA have developed retrorockets. no wheels. just like a parachute. what most birds do. The pilot is suspended in an ‘A’ frame. more modern aircraft shown with wheels being retracted. simple and it works. “Another variation is used on an aircraft carrier. Neither of these retract. and they require a lot of power to take off. as we have noticed before. The legs are used for weight-shifting. There is a combination of tail-hook and catch-line for landing. that’s about it for what both nature and mankind have to say about takeoff and landing!” Now it was Fred’s turn. “Next in line we have hang gliders.” Magnus put out some rather beautiful shots of hang gliders in action. “And last of all .“It is also thought that these creatures took advantage of high roosts to help it take off by allowing it to glide until it built up enough speed to fly… That’s about it for nature… clean. Here.” Magnus laid the last card down. “Interesting variations here.” More pictures were put down.” He laid out more cards. “Then of course there is the human version of hover and drop. Parachutes are an example of this. for use on snow and the float plane for use on water. sleeker. This is as we said. With these of course the pilots run downhill. which are a form of hover and drop. “Well. The ‘jump jet’ can also do this as well. Most small helicopters just have runners.I don’t want to leave anything out for fear of missing something .” More pictures. until they get up enough speed to soar. Ever seen a crane or heron come into land. each in turn. but so to do helicopters. and a steam driven catapult for take off. these of biplanes with fixed wheels.” Fred and Alex were picking up the cards and looking at them. the advantages of having such a nice tidy undercarriage is outweighed by the fact that it weighs so much that the hang glider can only soar by means of rising air currents. the ski plane. 104 .

Losing the odd member of their community here and there is adequate investment for what they get by not having to carry around an ability to ambulate.” Alex nodded with deep interest. We want to get you set up with some places to stay that are elevated. When all is said and done.” Alex nodded at him. were all rather fond of you. we had tungsten spring steel loops.” “I sense that you want me to learn to use the spring loops. you’ll be able to 105 .” “Oh… Thanks Magnus… Do you really think that there’s much risk of that?” “Yes I do and I don’t want to risk having you stranded. “In nature most large flying creatures try to take advantage of such places. They will have to be placed so as to give you a clear drop to quickly build up minimum flight speed. We could have light wheels but they would still weigh you down and would be an encumbrance during flight. “Well… they all add up to more weight or relying on special rigs to catch you. you’re the one whose going to be doing this and we really need you in on the final planning.” It was Magnus this time. “The first element is having a high place to take off from.” “There’s one thing I want to say here. positioned to catch you on landing and to roll you back at about 30 degrees. Besides… well frankly. like a bird does. If this works as well as we think it will. We’ve only got one of you so don’t have that luxury. “I’m a bit concerned about you having to land somewhere remote in an emergency. Bats deal with that risk by having a large population. because basically a kite just goes up and down. The only other thing would be come kind of catching device and a soft mat.” Fred went on. we’ve been mulling this over for months. “On the kite set-up.” “It would be by far the best option. They will also have to be such that you won’t be seen coming in or going out. The emergency thing is a big problem.” “I guess the best thing is for me to try. They worked with the kite. What do you think about that?” “What are the alternatives?” Alex asked. If we were to continue to use them you would have to perfect the ability to hover and drop. On the other hand we can’t have you flying a wheelchair around for obvious reasons. For a bat it’s really risky and a lot that do get earthbound end up as a predator’s dinner.“Obviously Alex.

I thought you said that we were just doing this for the sake of exploring the frontiers of science. Magnus. well designed wheel. you sound like this is a likely event and that I might need to be mobile in a serious way. we’d be a lot more leisurely about it.” “We would do it just for that Alex. “What you are capable of doing with the wing suit could be of vital importance to this country.” Magnus looked at Alex to see how he was taking this. whatever-it-takes expression that he had just before the kite flight. It weighs 150 grams. If it were just for science though. You will of course leave the tail assembly behind. then you’re going to have to sign this. It might not sound like much but it’s a pretty well thought out. The jacket .” “The way your talking. eight inches.” Magnus paused for thought. Alex looked back with the same defiant. “What I have here is a copy of the ‘Official Secrets Act’.” Magnus paused briefly. 106 . something’s come up and so we need a new level of commitment from you. Suddenly he seemed to make up his mind. covering tens if not hundreds of kilometres. The wheel will spring down just below the bottom part of your torso. 200 mm in diameter. You’ll have to release yourself from the wing suit and literally crawl around. If you come down there is very little we can do until we can get to you. This detaches it from the rest of the wingsuit in such a way that the wheel will come with you. Technically as a Canadian citizen you are a subject of the Queen just as we are. So far you’ve been an employee of ISD. steel mesh reinforced with sealed air tube inside. “We’ve come to a watershed here Alex. You’re very strong and your hands are hard from all the wheelchair use and flying work. If you sign it this document will be as binding in law as it would be for any UK person. What we’ve come up with is a small single wheel.has a special release mechanism. It’ll be attached to the tail strut of your wing suit.go for hours. Now you need to know that what we are doing is part of a government project. Magnus went into the next room and after a few moments came out with an A4 document. It’ll all be on a carbon fibre disc with a single strut and high quality sealed bearings.” He pushed forward the document. Alex. “That’s the best we can do. If we are going to go any further than having an interesting hobby.that’s what we’re calling the garment that you zip yourself into that clips onto the wingsuit . You’ll be fine. carbon rubber tyres.

the vacating of a large area of the firing ranges on the Salisbury Plain. then we’ll explain more of what’s going on. Montanistan was the source of many of the communications. “Satellite phone calls and other communications suggested that something was up. and magnified them all.” he said quietly to himself. Do you kow where that is Alex?” “I thinks so.” Magnus began. It was the standard ‘Official Secrets Act’ form. The shades were pulled down and Fred was setting up a power-point projector. so we sent the satellite to have a look. By signing it he would be agreeing to not reveal or discuss in any way. He then minimised each image in sequence to reveal the one below. We’ll leave this with you for a few minutes.” said Alex. This is what we saw.” “All right.” Alex replied. Anyway.” Magnus congratulated him before picking up the papers. He read the document through. “We’ve been following the activities of a group who seem to have an unhealthy interest in this country. The 107 .but there are also big risks involved. Magnus threw up a series of images taken at two second intervals. Suddenly the image appeared on a screen hanging on the far wall. the fact that the gymnasium had been closed especially for him. thoughtfully looking at the pile of A3 cards as Magnus and Fred got up. Magnus sat down in front of a laptop and scrolled around on it for a few moments.” They went through into a small dark anti-room. suddenly grew up to be pixelated lines. Read it over and when we come back. if you’ve signed it. Alex signed the document and waited a minute before Fred and Magnus returned. We had a military satellite begin to track across a remote country called Montanistan. The fact that the head of ISD was spending so much time with him. the overall expense of the project. any of the restricted information that he was about to be party to with the exception of authorised personnel on the same project. “Welcome aboard Alex. “Come on through. “Well this sounds a lot more fun than a hobby. It wasn’t that long but it was very specific. “Well you’ve probably got better geography classes in Canada than we do over here. and had been so for quite a while.” Magnus clicked on the view icon and magnified the picture 1:6. Things in the back of his mind were clicking into place. What had been white smudges on the screen.

we found no-one with your condition that was young enough and strong enough to do this. Of course’ but right now I’m a bit lost as to what they’re planning. “Our technical boys checked out the angle of the sun at the time and figured that they are flying at about 800 metres. “We don’t know. My mind has been wandering through various possibilities. I immediately saw the reason why the man had no legs. They have three in Montanistan which has a population of ten million!” “Wow!” was all that Alex could muster in the way of speech. The country is littered with land-mines. Alex was speechless. They change shape like birds. yet they are nearly as big as hang-gliders. I’m a scientist. I’ve tried to put myself into their place and figure out what sort of nasty thing they might be able to do. There’s probably some evil genius that has thought some inventive scheme up. This was followed by the startling image. I’ll probably say ‘Oh yes. but can’t think of anything. Look familiar Alex?” “Yes… Are you saying that these people have stolen our idea?” “No Alex. Maybe they had a leg injury anyway. That was out of sixty million people. After the fact. but I would never have thought of it in the first place. though I can’t be sure. taken at night. “These could be seen every day at different times.effect was of a kind of animated film in which the white lines appeared to move across the screen like birds. They are about 8 metres across and there are three of them. “Why are they doing this.” Magnus then threw up the images taken from the cliff top by the SAS patrol. I believe that their intention is something not too friendly. we don’t know. they are away over here. we think that they are amputees. Magnus?” Alex asked. Alex. “Alex. Look at the next series.” “Are these recent pictures?” 108 . We never even dreamed of doing this until we saw these. We’ve stolen theirs. Look at their shadows. His thoughts were racing. I’m not an initiator of ideas. silhouetted against the moonlight. What we do know is that when we looked in the UK register.” Magnus pointed the arrow on the laptop screen which also appeared on the projected image. Once I saw the silhouette. The image of the flying man with no legs had a stunning effect on him.

“No. the more I’ll be able to do?” “I’m sure that’s so Alex. I do have enough imagination to realise that there’s a lot of scope. “use your imagination. his shoulder over the chair back. come on. Think about what kind of fanatical dedication it would take to put an operation like that together. It took us that long to look for possible applicants.” “Oh. Whatever we find out from you as you learn. Three men. In a way you will soon have done your job in the first instance. Three men who can turn on a sixpence and dive to speed up to 80 or 90 kph …then they land and the whole thing folds up into something the size of a small roll of carpet sitting by a man in a wheelchair. Alex. Alex!” said Magnus. Okay. we may also find out from them as they start to do whatever it is they have in mind! Personally I’d rather learn from you” “Don’t you think you might be exaggerating the threat. The first I heard about all this. I get angry sometimes. the more I practice. I get you Magnus.” 109 . All we originally wanted was for you to make it to the point of doing a free flight to see how well you could perform. was when the picture of the silhouette came through.” mused Alex with feeling “and who would notice a man in a wheelchair?” “What I mean is. Maybe they did already have something like land-mine damage to their legs. Then your file came up from Immigration. I’m still just a guy in a wing suit. who can take off and fly a hundred kilometres in a couple of hours …absolutely soundlessly …virtually unseen by radar unless the technicians know what to look for. External Intelligence wanted to know what the potential capability of such a set-up might be. That was about 6 weeks before I contacted you.” “Okay.” “Okay.” “Surely. They won’t see a difference between us and any other outsiders who have attacked their county in the past. And you think they can’t get up to mischief?” “Mmmmm. but when it boils down to it. leaning away from the laptop. I mean it’s just three men in wing suits?” “Think about it. Think about suicide bombers. We’re now nine months into the project but they probably started years ago. although I say I can’t think what their planning. You fitted the bill so closely that we stopped looking any further. Think how angry they would be then.

What we do know is that they’ve been flying for at least a year. we don’t know. “Wheelchair handball! I’d like to meet these guys!” “And maybe you wouldn’t either. He crawled for kilometres at a time through mud and pouring rain. Get through this week. I’m afraid you’ll be crawling around in the mud and the bracken with nothing but a wheel on your tail and your own two arms.” The next week was gruelling for Alex. One day they were there the next they were gone over night! Maybe they got wind of our surveillance. Alex. Alex.” It was Alex who spoke. but you just might do that. The two commandos were relentless with him. “Wow!” Alex exclaimed. breaking a momentary silence. given their abilities we may need you as a direct agent to beat them at their own game. “You said that something’s come up … What is it?” Magnus turned back to the laptop and opened the file containing the images of the empty flight zone.” “I think you’re right. that you may well have a roll to play over and beyond helping to demonstrate what they are capable of. I don’t want anything cumbersome cramping my style. Now that I know what I’m up against. “Hence.“It’s occurring to us. and then you can start to fly!” “Well that’s an incentive… I guess.” he ventured slowly. the disguised encampment and the semi-concealed wheelchair tracks. You may well be the secret weapon that we need to combat them!” Alex’s hair stood a little on end at this. Alex. We’ve got to prepare you for the possibility of your coming down in very unfriendly company. “Well I think we had better get going. As they were thrown up onto the screen. we’re going to have a couple of experienced marine commandos come over to do a weeks training with you. that they are very determined and that they are associated with people who would like to harm this country.” “Are we agreed that we go for the spring loops as landing gear?” “Yes Magnus. but you might not like the next step so much. you telling me this now. He slept out for two nights in a row with nothing but a light waterproof breathable 110 . If these men can get into this country .and it wouldn’t be to difficult for them. he gave a running dialogue. Now they’re gone and we’ve no idea where. He was getting pretty excited. … These images were taken last week. Tomorrow.

..... but with the commandos help.......... Rashadi looked up in surprise... Alex was rapidly growing from a mild mannered young man into a hardy individual with an underlying edge of toughness to his bright humorous character... ‘Hand shoes’ had been designed by ISD that provided him with hard rubber gripping soles when he formed a fist but allowed some use of his fingers when he opened his hand... There were many disadvantages to not having legs. For the other sixteen hours............ This is because you might be tempted to use them.. What was more important for him though...” Alex was given a whole day off before the debut of his first flight. He was put through more rigorous training in survival techniques and covered at least three kilometres a day over rough ground. get out of the region and get back to base.............. “No heroics. the more likely it is you will be hurt. . He was surprisingly hard to grab hold of. Alex would still be extremely vulnerable if downed but at least they had given him a sporting chance of escape and survival.. He learned to wrestle... He had not expected to see his youngest son Tamashti back for some hours yet he could see him leading the young kid down the path into the goat pens. He lived on a small pack of rations for the first day and on nothing for the second.. was that having had the experience of the days of gruelling training.. The commando’s report was fair but thorough... and sometimes it would even end in failure. is to stay alive..... Normally this would be a task that took a couple of hours at least. Rashadi had noted that the young goat was missing after bringing the flock down from high meadow and he had sent Tamashti to find it. he was worked very hard.... The more dangerous you are.. he was able to find advantages in his manoeuvrability....bag for cover. “Your main objective... There seemed to be a high level of 111 . the thought of being downed no longer carried the fear it would have had before the training..” one of the commandos told him.... During the rest of the week he rested well with eight hours sleep a day.. put on arm locks and to box from the ground..... however.. Your job is to keep alive and out of harms way. We’re not going to teach you anything about weapons for the time being........... if you come down...

“Well done Tam. He led me straight to the goat-child. I’m so excited!” Rashadi. Father. sat down on a mound of earth. A year ago. Rashadi.” “Praise be to Allah. Tam? Tell me what happened. He could hear it in Tamashti’s voice as he called out and he could also see it in his face. “Where. I know. “Yes Father. I want to stay right here with you and let the angels help us to make his farm prosper. He was beautiful. Rashadi would simply have humoured the boy. looked at his son and sighed in contentment. He said.” he said as he approached the boy. that he should take such an open interest in us in our time.excitement in is son. He had the chest and arms and head of a man but the rest of him was like a huge bird. He was golden and he sang as he flew. This had made his whole life seem worth while. I followed him and he kept circling back if I stumbled so that I could keep up.” said Rashadi. put the implement down and walked over to see what his son wanted to tell him. but he had seen with his own eyes the mysterious winged creatures at a distance on a number of occasions so he was not sceptical at all.’ and I did. still out of breath from his race down the steep track. just amazing. no longer was he the leftover man whose sons couldn’t wait to leave. “He flew above me and called to me. he was a servant of Allah and not only that he was the father of a servant of Allah.” the boy said between breaths.” “An angel led me to him.” “Just above the rock pool. who had been replacing the prongs in a wooden rake. ‘Follow me.” gasped the boy. Father. Father. 112 . “How did you find it so quickly? I thought you would be gone for hours. Now. I’m so excited! I no longer want to follow my brothers to the big city.

he had found his forté and 113 . how it worked in a variety of circumstances and how the various trainers worked to support that complex function. Jamie had taken the trouble to qualify in shoe fitting and understood the structure of the foot. He knew which ones had good shock absorption for hard surfaces and which were light and stable for long distance running. for sprinting and for marathons. He only had a couple of GCSEs but since starting to work in the shoe shop. He even knew which ones could turn on a step on a clay court and which ones could land half on.Chapter 13 Running The young man was thrilled to have the opportunity to use his knowledge in a creative way. Modern sports footwear technology and design was Jamie’s passion. Jamie knew which ones were better for dry weather and which ones could take a beating on rough ground. especially the subtle difference between shoes for tennis. for squash. half off a clod of earth in a sun baked field and still protect the ankle.

Trainers were cool and the young people that came in to buy them felt a strong peer pressure to appear know all there was to know… especially if they didn’t know anything. He had to content himself with the value of his expertise in the children’s department measuring tiny feet and giving advice to anxious.” Jamie knew immediately what she needed but they were very expensive and somehow he doubted that she would need such advanced technology. The sports-footwear department was set-up to be self-serve and so Jamie had to bite his tongue as his peers talked rubbish to each other over their purchases. there was little outlet for his knowledge in the current consumer/fashion market. his attempts to impress seemed to be making little headway. She had placed her hand deliberately on his wrist.” It was odd. “Heavy shoes make me tired. I often put my foot down crookedly and I’m afraid I might sprain my ankle. then slid her fingers along his hand to take the shoe from him. Now.” she hesitated. “I’m uh. Her touch had sent a shiver 114 . he was thrilled to find someone so interested in using his knowledge… he was also totally enraptured by her presence. They certainly weren’t going to be advised by someone their own age. yet somehow she had put her hand straight to his wrist. were themselves wearing absolutely the wrong shoes for what they were doing. “You want a pair of trainers for running over rough ground.” he offered. “I’m not really into fashion and I need them to work well for me. attentive parents who. “Across fields and along tracks in the woods. “Yes that’s right.” he added. sitting in front of Livvy. in his opinion. “These are really popular… and they really look good.” he said nervously turning the statement into a question with an upward inflexion of his voice. “I try to avoid hard surfaces as much as I can.” He floundered a little. He picked up a cheaper pair of street runners. He could tell she was blind because her beautiful mauve eyes tracked aimlessly in the distance. “Well they also have thick heels and soles to give good shockabsoption for pounding the pavements.there was now no stopping his learning. I can’t see so I rely on Rusty here to guide me.” she replied patiently taking the shoe from him. However.” she replied.

“Could I try one on?” “Yes. Livvy smiled and reached out her lower leg towards his aura. I like the lightness and the way it comes up my ankle.” she said.” she said bending down to unfasten her shoes. She kicked them off and turned her face up towards him. He couldn’t have felt more uncomfortable if she had been sighted and staring straight at him. She wasn’t playing any games. “The best shoes for what you’re describing.through him.” He hesitated. running her hands over the shoe. “I’ll get the size stick. They were the same black leather lace shoes that she had been wearing to school for the last two terms. she reached straight out and found his wrist.’ “I’ll just go and get a pair.” she called after him. “Great. Judith had taken her to the shop entrance before going on to the gardening shop next door. He returned now with the display sample of the ‘Field-Master. Rusty had led her into the shoe shop itself where they had been met by the wide-eyed Jamie. “are called ‘Field-Masters.” he swallowed. He had what she wanted and she was getting it from him. His hand tingled from the contact. She had come into town with Judith and Rusty by bus.” He got up and knocked over the fitting stool he had been sitting on.” He got up and crossed the room. He could feel her attention fully on him even though he knew she couldn’t see him. She didn’t often mix with young men her own age and she was enjoying the response she was getting. “Oh.” she asked. It was simple as that. a little flustered. Of course.” Livvy could perceive the confusion in his atmosphere and her own nervousness dissipated as she felt her power over him. “Mmm. He really couldn’t believe his ears when he heard her request. “I’d like to try them. Again. “What do I do. “Could you give me your right foot?” he asked shyly.’ “Here it is. “Do you know your size?” “I would rather you measured me. She noted the eager quality to his atmosphere with amusement. 115 . She knew what she wanted and was focussed on finding it. Her fingers slid gently along his hand and took the shoe from him. extended her ankle demurely. Jamie was a confident young man and had had a number of girl friends but he had never met anyone like Livvy before. He came back and sat on the measuring stool in front of her.” he said.” he said as he sat down.

” she said.” She put forward the other foot and he repeated the operation. heel first into the measuring device. “Size 6C. He had a sudden thought and turned back to her. “I think you’ll like these shoes. almost as an apology. it’s just that. er… they’re rather expensive. crestfallen not so much that he might lose the sale but more that he might embarrass this beautiful young woman into having to say she couldn’t afford them. flexible cushioned foreparts for torque resistance. “I’m sorry. “I’d better look at the other to make sure it’s the same. “How much is expensive?” “One hundred and sixty five. and then. “but I do need the best.” he said. He placed her foot down efficiently.” Livvy’s amazement at this stream of incomprehensible technical detail turned to a sudden caution. looking down at her before heading off to the store room. These really are the state-of-the-art running shoes and all the best fell-runners use them. enjoying herself.” he said. and got up. “what colour?” “What colours do you have?” “White. that is a lot.” she said thoughtfully.” “Gosh.” “Oh. “I’m sure you have. “You’re very thorough.” she giggled. He pushed the slide forward with his thumb and pulled a tape around the front of her foot. she had been fumbling in her handbag and was just pulling out a mobile. “Oh. red and camouflage. acceleration and turning capability.” he said. I think they really are the best. “They have a wide heel tread for grip and stability.” he commented. “But their really worth it. camouflage! Does that mean if I wear them nobody can see me?” 116 .” he said quietly. He read the figures and released her foot.” he said. “I’d like to know if my feet are the same. You won’t get anything like that for less money. I’ve been trained. Let’s try them on. bellows style tongue for waterproofing up to the ankle and the ankles themselves are contained and cushioned with the latest hypoallergenic latex substitutes.He took her foot in his hand and placed it gently. his enthusiasm considerably dampened. rigid poly-carbonate shank system to prevent shearing on uneven surfaces. It really does make a difference to your running. it’s not all just show…” He stopped.” Jamie looked relieved and went off to the store room to find a pair of 6 C’s. salt-generated porous uppers for strength and breathability. “Oh?” she said.

She waited for the answer.” he said and watched quite impressed at her dexterity as she felt through the process. “I’m glad he doesn’t know what I’m contemplating now!” she thought to herself.“Well.” “Oh.” she said.” Jamie said. I’m in Stratford… I’m in a shoe shop… Buying shoes of course… I’m buying trainers because my shoe shoes slip and slide a lot… Oh. “That looks good. He threaded the laces in and went to help her put them on. She found the dot in the centre and pressed speed-dial 1.” He went off and she felt the keypad of her phone.” said Jamie. I could see her going. how did you know… Yours cost how much!… Well nothing like that. “Don’t worry. Livvy was waiting for him having completed her call by the time he got back. “I’d like to learn to do it myself. you’ll… Oh great Dad… Thanks so much… Love you too… Bye. “You did a good sales job there. She thought of the episode when she first met Rusty and had fallen over a small dip in the grass. I just need a little help that’s all… So if I pay by card. “you don’t think she was impressed?” “I’m sure she was impressed. Jamie’s boss watched him as he sorted through the stacks of boxes looking for the right size and colour. “I’ll have the camouflage.” he said hesitating. ‘whatever!’ as you spoke.” she said. “and you can teach me if I do it wrong. it doesn’t quite work that way. just a little pointer.” he said. He took the box into the sales room. I didn’t know all that about those shoes.” “Thanks.” “Sure. It’s just that women like clear information not a lot of technical jargon. Dad… Yes. not sure whether she was joshing him or making a genuine mistake about the nature of camouflage to a sighted person. “Hello. slightly abashed. “I think you might have lost her a little with the technical stuff at the end.” said Jamie. “Let’s try these.” she put down the phone and smiled to herself.” 117 . In fact I’m impressed too. laughing lightly.” “Thanks. No harm done.

.. . “I’ll take them.” She could feel a nervous anticipation rise in her. He wasn’t to know about her successful funding arrangements... She was even looking forward to doing it again... “I can’t have spent this kind of money to just walk the pavements for the rest of my life.. ruffling the dogs neck.” said Livvy... It was dark..... “Oh.“Come on Rusty...” She stood up in the trainers and set off in the direction that Jamie had gone to pick up the shoes.. She remembered the feel of falling as Judith had taken her through the exercises earlier that day.” she said as she and Rusty approached him. Rusty pressed up against her leg.. For Judith and Livvy 118 ... It had been fun actually. The dog led her around the counters and display stands in a full circle till they came back to Jamie..” Livvy felt the ground fully beneath her feet with her old school shoes on again as she followed Rusty out of the door of the shop...... Rusty could feel her thoughts and stirred by her side and looked back at her... I like the hypoallergenic torqueness things.. As Livvy sat with Judith on the bus to Norton... she thought about the new shoes... noticed her. he could feel a hollow place in his heart when she disappeared from view. She ruffled his neck again and pulled his head against her. It was not as though she had created the hollow place so much as reminded him that it was there.... She too could feel a place in her heart being stirred as if from sleep.... A few days later that he won a competition to be short-listed for the Nike design team and a new episode in his life began...” she thought. Indeed he couldn’t have done enough for her.... She could tell that he had done it from the change in the sound of his panting as he turned to her. She was surprised by it and it stirred something else inside of her..... “I’m in for it now.... She could tell he was pleased but still concerned about something. even though a little shocking at first... She thought of the young man Jamie and how he had responded to her. A torch simply added to the glow of the mist already turned an opaque yellow by the street lights overhead.... It had been good to have the company of someone her own age again… particularly a boy.... As Jamie watched her go... “Take me for a walk.... Even a sighted person would find it difficult to negotiate the streets and paths of Norton-sub-edge..... She took in his aura.. Even Rusty with his keen sensitive eyes had to be cautious. She guessed it was the cost....

Livvy took Rusty’s harness and walked to the hedge before turning to walk back to the bright glow of Judith’s presence. It might have looked awkward and gawky. Now was the time. She could feel 119 . clearly stood out by reason of the increased activity as the pressed-down grass recovered its upright position in the cool moist night air. They turned off the back lane and Judith. Livvy slowed herself and Rusty led her in a large U turn and they began the run back to Judith. pushed it open to enter the playing field. they stood in the middle of the field with the auric wall of the hedgerow standing some fifty metres away both as a goal and as a perimeter. perceiving the half open gate by the gleaming presence of a crust of lichen growing on the upper surface of the wooden rails. The new shoes did more than provide support and grip. “Come on. Livvy could see the pride and excitement in her mentor’s atmosphere. The tone of the plant emanations was mellow yet full of finely detailed activity.however. Footprints left by children during the day’s play. had been driven indoors by the sight-obscuring mist. She started to move faster and as Rusty felt her following he moved faster too. Anyone who might otherwise have been out. The time had come for her to run. by hugging his strong body and by rolling around on the ground with him. As she had been practising over the last two days. She was so thrilled and excited at this new door that was opening up for her. They had the whole area to themselves. but cool enough to encourage them to keep walking. The evening was warm enough that the two women wore only light sweaters. Livvy’s confidence had grown over the last couple of days. Livvy started hopping lightly from one foot to the other whilst holding Rusty’s harness. The tightness of her unease in the world that had been physically with her all of her life was beginning to soften and she was becoming freed-up within her own body. the auric scene was laid out in a way not too different from the day. The hedge aura loomed up very quickly. Rusty. She knew it was safe. As they had done on the mornings of the last few days. It was as though the design criteria that gave birth to them was calling for something from her well beyond what she had done before.” she called. The dog moved forwards and so did she. The grass and trees were soaking up the moisture and recovering from their daytime exertions. but there was nobody there who could see it. She had covered the ground. She had spent them in Judith’s garden with jumping from one foot to the other. She had also being playing with Rusty by wrestling a stick from his jaws.

” she cried. The controlling strings were in two pairs. Judith.” Chapter 14 Kites The kite danced bravely in the stiff breeze gusting over the Salisbury Plain. “I’m running! Running at last. “Wow. each pair inserted in the top and bottom of two bars held in each of Alex’s hands. 120 . By pulling the strings Alex was able to adjust the warping of the wing tips causing the kite to dip and dive. its pull was still strong enough to have moved Alex’s wheel chair if he didn’t have the brake on. A one-third scale version of the wing suit.the exhilaration as her young legs stretched out and the new shoes landed solidly and firmly on the soft ground as Judith’s aura seemed to rush up at her with a speed she had never experienced before.

The wind gets up a lot of turbulence as it passes over the surface features.” Magnus had walked up behind Alex and had stood there watching him for a couple of minutes. Alex. We’ve tested the design extensively half scale at the 4.” Alex looked steadily up at him. Suddenly the kite swerved violently and thudded top first into the ground. Once you’ve learned to fly.” Magnus took the lines from Alex. As it is. He pulled on them in such a way that the kite soared high. The front strut was badly damaged. It’s a lot more unpredictable near the ground than it is further up.” he said. You saw what happened there. “I wanted you to see that before you took off. Alex but I want to talk to you about the next step in this project. strongest light materials in honeycombe/carbon composite. dive and soar again.” “I hear what you say. Soon you will be able to handle whatever comes along instinctively… but until then… concentrate on keeping steady and balanced when you are near the ground. I don’t want it to be you!” 121 .” “Yes. He then gently tweaked the lines and the kite began to turn. “What else can I say? I’m ready!” “Just let me show you something with this kite before you go. “Watch this now. Nobody’s risked anything but time and money up until now.” “We’ve also done everything we could to make the design as efficient as possible.” “Alex. and frankly neither has anybody else. I feel ready Magnus. Magnus. “Well.” He allowed the kite to come near to the ground and performed a similar series of manoeuvres. Now we’ve even made you up a kite to help you see where you’ll be going.“That’s a really interesting toy. and thank you. you’ve never done it before. You’ll be on the other end of the wire for that one. we’ve done everything possible to prepare you for this. This next one is a dangerous step. “Get lots of height before you try any manoeuvring. At least here we are only using the wind’s own speed and you will have no velocity with respect to the ground at all …except of course straight up and down. aluminium and sailcloth. this would be a doddle. The only thing we will do that is more dangerous than this is when you go for free flight. you sure have Magnus. we’ve given you practice on balance and propelling yourself both on the trolley and in front of the blower rig. Alex. We’ve helped you strengthen and work your muscles.5 metre wind tunnel.

He looked over at Magnus and Fred who was now at Magnus’s side.“Okay.” The wing suit was balanced on it’s tail at an angle of 30 degrees. As well as the sound input from the wind sensors on the wings. The wings themselves were bent down to be flat on the ground so that the wind pressed them into the ground rather than lifting the wing suit prematurely. a fine microphone was pressed against his cheek. Alex put on the special light weight crash helmet and unbuckled himself from the chair. Now listen. “This will be your first tethered flight and your first chance to gain some real elevation. The current wind speed is 16 mph that’s about 7 metres per second. Each of us can hear what everybody else is saying. The sensors had been playing a soft but harsh sound as the wind passed over the top of the wings in their flattened down position. so keep the talk limited to essentials. Say your own name first. “We’ve got three hundred metres of single line. It was resting on two fine tungsten steel runners. released the line which was fixing the wings down onto the ground. each of us has a radio.” “Let’s go then. and if need be the name of the person to whom you want to direct your message. Pat. We’ve got a life on the line here… in more ways than one! Everybody got that?” They all had. That’s absolutely ideal Alex. There’s wind buffeting us and the wing suit is singing.Alex” “Magnus-. Now they suddenly sprang into life with a full harmonic chord as the wind caught up on the underside of the 122 . Alex was able to pull himself up by the top spar of the wing suit and twist himself around.Alex” “Pat-. Alex” “Fred-. They were light but very strong. He pressed his helmet against the head rest and clipped his jacket in.Alex. Cut the jokes. there was also a light weight short wave radio fixed into the head gear. He gave them the thumbs up. just about your minimum speed so you won’t be too challenged. The wings lifted up on end and caught the wind. I hear you Magnus.” Magnus told him.” The wing suit had only undergone a few modifications to convert it into a kite. “Judy here. Keep alert. I’m still ready.

The line tightened as Judy gently backed the Landrover to be fifty metres down wind. but nothing had prepared him for the mixture of shock.ready Alex?” “Alex-. dropped in volume as the release of the wings relieved the pressure. the vision and sound of the shattering thud of the model kite biting into the ground still vividly with him. They again sounded an even chord as the wings balanced themselves in the wind. Alex hesitated to answer. Alex was shocked at the sudden acceleration. The wing suit which up to that point had been shivering and humming in the wind. finally he took a deep breath.” Alex could feel a vibration coming over the line as the winch played him further out. fear. The tones from the sensors. Alex had been ten stories up in a building before. how are you doing?” There was concern in his voice.wings. The wing suit had accelerated rapidly up to twenty metres and then began to slow its rise until it steadied at thirty metres above the ground. He had imagined what it would be like. He could also feel the wind speed sink as the air pushed on him to take up the slack. “Judy-. Alex allowed it to stay that way.Alex.Alex. “Judy-.ready Pat.” Pat released the heavy weights which were holding down the runners.I’m Okay” The whole world which had been his home. “Magnus-.winch is on. Pat then went under the tail. lifted smoothly and swiftly straight up into the air. “Alex-. Now there was nothing between him and the tiny figures below but a thin line that was humming in the wind.Okay Judy. had suddenly receded and exchanged its fine detail for large vistas. let it out gently. but always with at least a railing between him and the drop. nausea and amazement. “Whoa!” he gasped involuntarily.” “Pat-. At one point Judy played it out a bit too fast and the wing suit tipped forward and began to dip. elation. The sensors played a series of hesitant tones. 123 .” “Alex-. The angle of the fittings onto the line had been chosen by Fred to achieve maximum ascent in neutral position. are you ready for me to winch you out. It had taken his breath away and he felt as though his stomach was still on the ground. the ground over which he had crawled seeking to find a way of being on it with ease.

Suddenly Alex sensed the danger. taking him nearly two hundred metres above the ground. His stomach was churning but that was more from the earlier acceleration and the dipping and diving of the wing suit as he struggled to keep it steady. By then. He even allowed himself to be thrilled. The line was now pulling back to the right as he was no longer windward of the Landrover.” Alex tried gently pulling on his wing tips. No… he was feeling a sudden confidence.Alex can you try some small manoeuvres?” “Alex-. He banked gracefully over as the left wing sank and he veered off in that direction. Alex had never questioned himself as to whether he was afraid of heights. 124 .Alex that’s great!” Alex did the same manoeuvre in the other direction. Indeed he was sure he was going to enjoy it… as soon as his stomach settled down. Judy saw what was happening and stopped playing the line out and it again tightened. He straightened back to neutral and as the wing suit drifted back to the original position.I’ll try. Alex soared even higher as the line was so much longer. Here he was as high as a fifty to sixty storey building and the questions suddenly struck home.almost on the edge of going harsh. The sensors restored their musical chord. “Magnus-. and the suit responded in the same smooth way. the sensors singing loudly in his right ear. Alex gently pulled his tail down even more and he began a slight dive. He looked down. “Magnus-. This pulled his tail slightly down underneath him. He warped the left down ever so slightly and raised the right. The wing suit tipped forward to be gliding level. His descent built up his speed. Alex took a couple of strokes with the wing tips and the line went loose but the speed he gained gave him lift again. the sensors softened their tone and the line went slack as he began to gain on the wind. No… he felt all right! He could feel his heart beating almost as loud as the wind playing music to him over the sensors. the higher wind speed in the upper reaches was lifting him almost forty degrees up from the Landrover. He would be able to handle this. The sensors returned to a balanced stereo. He then tightened his newly exercised stomach muscles. He felt a thrill of excitement as he could feel the control he was now gaining over the elements. It took Judy half an hour to play out the full three hundred metres.

” There was not quite panic in his voice. he would reflect on the manoeuvre and realise that in it he had actually achieved true independence from the line.” Alex just let the wind carry him for a full five minutes before even daring to look around. he drifted down for a second with a sickening feeling before the line again tightened. he could make out the edge of the dip in which Salisbury itself nestled. What if he gained on the line so much that it got tangled or if not. It took four bounces on the line before he could re-establish a steady pull. He thought to look for a diversion to calm his mind. The only difficulty had been reconnecting with the line. He was terrified of the power he was playing with and terrified of making another mistake.” “Magnus-. For now however.” “Magnus-. this time less violently but still bouncing him two metres back up. the 125 . He had been flying freely. The elasticity of the line. Alex almost felt his nerve go with that incident. He lifted his head off of the rest bar and started to look around. I’m not sure I want to do this. “Magnus-.Alex that was spectacular! I’ve got out my binoculars. it might suddenly pull taught and jerk him out of control. you do that. over the undulating plains. Well done!” “That didn’t feel spectacular.” “Thanks Magnus. ‘What an achievement’.Sure Alex. when back on the ground. I’m going to just hang in here for a bit and gather my wits. To the north. Magnus. he would later reassure himself. his tail curved up behind him and he began to climb. I think I should have left that until I didn’t have a line to reconnect with. but he was on the edge of losing control.Well Okay but it really demonstrated the capability of the thing as well as your ability to meet an emergency. I still say well done. He arched his back. each time the sensors echoed his movements with sound. Suddenly he reached the end again and felt a violent tug and the sensors burst into a loud chord. The pang of fear grew in him. a fifth of a kilometre above the ground. He thought he could just catch a faint glimpse of the cathedral spire but he couldn’t be sure it was so far away. Slowly he began to relax. He lost speed as he gained the height and he could see the line begin to straighten. he was terrified. Later. bounced him forward and shot him up about five metres higher into the air. To the south.“Oh Oh! Magnus.

The next step was free flight. He could feel that fact in his heart. no doubt as small and distant a speck in the sky to those below. He could fly. He could just make out the Marlborough Downs in the distance.I’m ready to come down now. As he came within a few metres he could 126 . He began gently moving the wing tips again gracefully banking to one side then the other. thus putting him into a shallow dive with the line still taught. He soared at an even steeper angle as the line reeled him down. He would steepen his angle until he climbed to two hundred and fifty metres. soaring a little higher with each nod. This took him much lower where his added speed could take him well to the left of down wind. he was going to make the most of this exercise. the result being that the whole wing suit nodded in agreement. He wagged his tail up and down rhythmically. He then banked over to the left. criss-crossed by the bruising tracks of tanks and other heavy military vehicles. “Alex-. of finding ways of getting around in a world fully geared for ambulatory people. The sight filled Alex with a new confidence. Artificial as the wing suit was. the sensors humming as if with pleasure in response.OK Alex! We’ll begin to winch you in. In response to Magnus’s graphic warning with the crashing kite . He knew that it would soon be time to go down and crawl around on his wheels again.plain stretched away. Unlike when the line was being let out. but for now. he was now being pulled into the wind. It had been in the dreams and desires of men . before climbing again to come back to centre with the Landrover again.” Alex didn’t dare let go of the hand grips but he wanted to respond in a visual way. he was beginning to feel at home in this dynamic new three dimensional space. After an hour and a half. he knew at the depth of his being that he had been made to do this. he was suddenly finding a power within and a corresponding response from the air that made every bit of his life up to that point. as those below were to him.at since least Icarus .one which he would always remember when approaching the ground . He felt Judy switch on the winch. worth while.” “Magnus-. where the wind speed would no longer sustain him. After a lifetime of contending with his disability. The west was filled with the shimmering light of the setting sun coming out of the prevailing wind.and here he was.Alex maintained a steady glide into the wind as the line drew him closer and closer to the Landrover.

The others gathered around as Pat popped the cork on the stout green bottle. They all touched glasses and drank heartily.” Chapter 15 127 .” Pat opened a hamper and pulled out a bottle of Champagne and some plastic glasses.” said Magnus. draining his glass. “Let’s get this thing packed up while we can still see what we are doing. He poured out five glasses. The sensors song changed from a steady chord to an eerie twisting wail.feel the turbulence. He held steady and the line continued to pull him in. the more eccentric the twists. Alex had to steady himself and allow the air pockets to pull him this way and that. He looked up at Fred and grinned. to react to the buffeting winds and dash himself on the hard ground below. Mr Canadian. but now strangely alien feeling ground. Finally Pat and Fred ran forward and were able to grab the runners and pull Alex down to the safe. “Take it easy?” he said in his best Ottawa Valley accent. completing the alliteration. man? I’m not going to take it easy! That was truely amazing!” “Well we can certainly drink to that. Alex unclipped his jacket and lowered himself into the chair. “Bloke? What do you mean bloke? What happened to ‘Take it easy… eh. “Its getting dark. “Are you kidding.” said Pat. “And we’ve brought along something for you to celebrate it with. Can’t you let a bloke land on his own two runners?” grimanaced Alex mockingly as they pulled up his wheelchair.” laughed Fred more in relief that the young man was safe.” rejoined Judy. “And his wonderful wing-suit. “To our aerodynamic Alex!” said Magnus holding up his glass. “Hey! That’s inglorious. It was as if an invisable. Their laughter began to release the tensions that had built up during the flight. They were small fluxuations but to him they felt like his stomache was been thrown around. mythic siren was tempting him to panic. The lower he got.

he somehow knew that tomorrow it would be bigger. The last few nights had been the dark kind and his sensitive eyes had been able to take in the full presence of the glistening stars overhead. the wolves. The light had now faded so that even with his fully dark-adapted eyes. His deeper senses. they appeared as mere shades against the starlight. For Rusty. they gathered so densely that they formed hazy. Spectacular as this overhead display was. others less so. Rusty watched this phenomenon with a simple. It was through this deeper sense that his far-distant cousins. He would have to be very alert as he guided Livvy through the streets and over the fields. Some nights the sky would cloud over and a strange. were filled with the full presence of their auras. Rusty 128 . In some parts. The women and the girl were standing next to him. The sun had been below the horizon for over an hour by the time he had arrived on the open green accompanied by the woman and the girl. stay in the sky for longer and that the nights would get brighter. He didn’t know the name of the moon. He also knew with the same innate certainty. The glow that had surrounded the solar descent was fading fast to reveal a slender curved thread that was the new moon just about to drop behind the dark silhouette of a nearby hedgerow. yellow light would fill the air. the mood of the pack. Without any form of rationalisation. glowing patterns that flowed like a river across the sky. however. told him about qualities of their intent and presence. natural interest. Other parts were so black that the stars there shone like distant headlamps of people’s cars. and some were only lit by the stars. dew-glistened grass. He wasn’t to know that this was a reflection from the streetlights of the village. like Livvy’s. the vague shapes of his surroundings were barely discernible in the ultra-dim light. Rusty watched as the moon also sank below the horizon.Dropping the Harness One evening three weeks later. eerie. Although his race had been domesticated and he had been well trained as a guide-dog. were able to sense the difference between fear and intentto-fight in a prey. on the ground below. Rusty was sitting on the playing field of Norton-sub-Edge. visual sight told him where they were and what they were doing. that tonight would be clear and it would be dark. and just as importantly. his deeper sense. but he did know that it had something to do with his experience that some nights were brightly lit. From where he sat on the flat.

she would indicate to him the general direction that she wanted to go and in turn he would guide her around the finer details of the landscape. the actual words meant little to him. He could sense that their intent was to travel down the field and then turn to the left. She bent down beside side him and whispered into his ear. Although Rusty could clearly hear the gentle murmur of the two human voices conversing. Even words such as ‘stop. It was almost as if she wasn’t using it at all but merely holding it off of his back. with no hesitation.had lost none of this ancient. He pricked up his ears and focussed more closely on the two humans. Of course he could recognise certain words such as his own name and theirs. Suddenly their conversation seemed to come to resolution. he would sit rather than go. near white in Judith’s case and golden yellow in Livvy’s. He heard his name and the word ‘go’ amongst the melody of her voice but he already knew her intent. He stood up and pointed himself in the direction that he sensed she wanted to go. finely tuned ability. This piece of equipment was lying unheld across his back. They were to move off down the field and they were going to do something with his harness. Livvy. he was not so much listening to what Judith and Livvy said as watching with his inner sense the ebb and flow of the ideas and thoughts that they were discussing. that their intent involved him doing something. and think the meaning ‘sit. also it also had something to do with his harness. From the beginning of their relationship. Even in the dark of the new moon. He felt Livvy reach down and pick up his harness. He heard her encouraging whisper and they set off. searching for signals both visual. 129 . Livvy had learned that she could say the word ‘go’.’ were understood more in the context of the atmosphere of intent than by the sound of the words themselves. There was a difference in the way Livvy was holding his harness. He became aware that their discussion somehow included him. As Rusty sat in the dark. Through it.’ ‘sit’ or ‘go. Now however. occasionally reaching down to stroke his neck. It danced as a warm red at the leading edge of her aura almost as if her future position was beginning to form even before she got to it. He could sense her intent moving out in front of him.’ to him and. Judith and Livvy stood as tall columns of light. the harness had been the primary connection between them. standing casually by his side. Rusty could feel her attention melding with his own. aural and auric.

130 . Rusty could sense the soft red of her intent move to the left. He felt excitement as her attention focussed on the yellow emanation that moved along his chosen path. Within seconds the two of them were virtually flying together over the open field. There was a wildness that was close to recklessness in her voice. The conversation that she had been having with Livvy that evening was about this very thing. He followed her direction whilst at the same time scanning the ground ahead. It was as if it was telling him to circle back around to return to where Judith was waiting for them. She sensed that now was the time to let the harness go and let these ancient senses again come into their rightful place. As his attention focussed on finding a pathway between the obstacles on the ground in front of him. Judith too had observed this phenomenon. Suddenly Rusty heard her call out his name. If Livvy could delve into her deep subconscious she would rouse an ancient memory that it had also been the way that her own distant forebears had run together.At the same time as this was happening. both through his hearing and a deeper sense that she was following his signals explicitly. Rusty could feel Livvy respond to his own perceptions as he took in and negotiated the finer details of the terrain. He could tell. of hunting together or just covering ground for the fun of it. The physical harness was steadily becoming redundant and an invisible connection was coming into being. At the same time he felt her let go of the harness. The act of moving over the field whilst being contained within each others auras hearkened back to the ancient instinct of the pack. He sped up in response as he could feel her sense of freedom. In his case a yellow emanation danced along the safe route. This thrilled him deeply. As they neared the far end. a projection of his aura had also begun to develop. The surface of the field had stabilised in the month since the end of the football season and Livvy had no difficulty moving over it. This was the way the pack worked and also the way that birds flocked and fish schooled together. He could also feel her speed up as she was now unencumbered by having to hold the stiff metal handle. She knew quite a bit about what it meant and what it could be used for. Livvy and Rusty began to move across the field. Their pace quickened until they broke into a slow run. Sometimes it would be as much as the length of his body in front of him.

“Have Rusty bring you to the sound of my voice. Rusty?” she asked. She had reservations however.” It was true. who had not lost her orientation. Now that Livvy had found this freedom to move easily. She knew something of what was in store for Livvy. “Why don’t we go for a walk around the village. Livvy could hardly contain her excitement. Anyone passing by. 131 .” Judith couldn’t help laughing. arrested in growth at the age of about six had suddenly been let loose in her.” “OK. Livvy.Within a few moments they were back with Judith. It was wonderful to see her young friend blossom into confidence. Rusty could just make out the main features of the field in the dim starlight. “The playing field here is very flat and uneventful. “Wow!” she cried out.” she called. She called to Livvy. Livvy. even though she couldn’t see it.” said the older woman. It just feels sooo good. She was disorientated and the pale red of her intent had dissolved from Rusty’s awareness. “Where’s the gate. moved a few meters in the general direction that she knew the gate to be. “Livvy.” replied Livvy. puzzled by the sudden disappearance of her intent. to jump and to fall without fear.” cried Livvy. it was as though a small child. Rusty had stood up on his hind legs and Livvy was holding his paws and dancing with him over the grass. “let’s try it. following a dim pool of handheld torch-light. “I can do it. Livvy however. I can run after Rusty without holding onto him. “But it’s just so amazing. Maybe we should try walking with Rusty without his harness at a slower pace. had lost her sense of direction in the dance with Rusty. “That was amazing!” Judith tried to calm her down but she was exuberant.” said Judith. calm down. sobering up a little.” The three of them set off to look for the exit. jumping up and down. Judith. “and he can probably see the gate but he doesn’t know that you want to go there. He looked up at his mistress. “He knows where we are. Rusty heard her voice but couldn’t make out what she wanted.” she said in a soft voice. By now it was pitch black as there were no street lights in this part of the village. would have been amazed to hear the squeals of glee coming from the total darkness of the village playing field.

Rusty became aware of it and began leading her. Rusty came to a halt as if gathering his senses before starting off in another direction. “You’ll have to save your exuberance for when you are home. He guided them through and they turned right to walk along the back lanes of the village. then on 132 . “Gosh.” “You know that you could just have thought about the gate. I don’t know what I would have done if it was just me and Rusty.Livvy. As soon as she did this. Even as Livvy had conjured up in her mind the experience of being within the huge majestic aura of the great oak tree. Judith’s guess was a bit out. Rusty might well have been able to sense where you wanted to go. maybe I could. They continued up the lane past the manor house. I’ll have to be really careful what I think about from now on.” “Oh gosh! The hollow tree popped into my mind. If you had imagined yourself going through it. Maybe you could learn to jump around and not lose your sense of direction.” said Judith.” said Livvy.” replied Livvy. “I was glad you were there though.” “I know. Livvy kept her intent in front of the aura of her dog and he gave that direction his attention so that they could follow it. “It was just so fantastic being able to do that. “That tree is a couple of fields beyond the other side of the village from here. Livvy. Rusty paused at the main road as a car passed.” said Livvy as they followed Rusty’s sleek shape through the narrow walkways of Judith’s home village. He instinctively looked away so that its bright headlamps did not drown his sensitive night vision. hearing Judith’s voice turned her intent towards it.” “Yes. it was close enough to the direction of the gate for Rusty to realize that it was the gate they wanted to find. “It’s dangerous for you to lose your sense of where you are. Do you really think he could do that?” “Try it. “Well that’s jumping in at the deep end.” said Judith.” said Livvy. somewhat chastened after so totally losing her way in the field. “I felt that too. stepping to one side as the pair approached.” “Yes.” “Too late!” said Livvy.” said Judith.” “Really. “Imagine some place you would like him to take you to.” replied Judith. Judith sensed what she meant. “Keep your intent in that direction and he will get the idea. I guess so. Although.” said Judith.

Livvy had come to look forward to the experience of being in the dark. Livvy’s hair seemed to stand on end as she herself stood up. Soon the churchyard was behind them and Livvy had to consciously reign Rusty in with her thoughts as he wanted to bound on ahead with his harness bouncing loosely and unheld on his back. then disappear into the cascade of the tree’s vast presence. though they stretched out nearly horizontally. Near the bottom. Livvy never ceased to be astonished at the experience of entering the tree. “Yes. She reached out and touched Judith with one hand and her other strayed against 133 . The aura of the trunk was like a vast waterfall. of course. The interior was in fact dark and still. Livvy was surprised because Judith had never displayed any interest in going in before. The stillness and darkness was palpable. still place within the sanctuary of the tree’s interior. Judith had told her that she would have to go down on her hands and knees to enter and that the tree would accept this as a sign of humility on her part. months and many visits later. Livvy had not dared to go in on the first occasion so intimidated was she by the awesome presence of the ancient tree. were as thick as any single oak that a self-respecting village would be proud to have standing as the centerpiece of their green. The lower boughs. that the actual edge of the bark itself could hardly be distinguished within the intensity of the curtains of etheric light.past Judith’s own house on the right. It took two more visits before she could gather the courage to venture in. When she had first experienced the tree months before. “Shall we go in?” said Judith. the swirling currents formed a kind of vortex. The first time she had expected the glow to get more intense and brighter but instead it seemed to vanish in its own higher vibrations. Judith bent down and Livvy saw her aura first blend with.” she whispered back thrilled to have her venerable friend join her. “Go on Rusty. It was rather the darkness of light so refined as to be beyond her perceptions. so voluminous. It wasn’t the darkness of the absence of living presence. Rusty crept forward and his aura too mingled then vanished within the billowing folds of light. Judith had told Livvy that the vortex occurred where there was a physical hole in the side of the trunk leading into the hollow interior. Ten minutes later they were standing under the huge spreading boughs of the hollow tree. Now.” she whispered gently to the dog.

“I would say it is the experience of going home.” continued Livvy after a few minutes. Livvy was unusually quiet. It was as if they were so caught up in the ultrasonic level of the tree’s interior so that they appeared dark and still.” replied the older woman. The tree just helps us to remember that.” Judith said nothing as they walked along the path. Livvy felt Judith take her hand. “Did you have an experience?” Livvy asked after a while. she felt Judith squeeze her hand and the three of them bent down and crawled back out into the cool fresh night air. I suppose I was amazed at the way your aura seemed to disappear but it was more than that. “Yes I did. That’s all I can think of saying. The route was clearly marked by the absence of the colourful aura of the wheat growing on either side of it. even though they were experiencing the presence of life more than they ever had before. Finally. with some reluctance. 134 .” Soon they approached the edge of the village and began the walk to Judith’s front door. They began walking back to Judith’s house. They let Rusty relax and wander further ahead than he normally would.” “Do you think the tree is our true home?” asked Livvy now even more unsure of herself. It was like being seen… like being recognized in a strange sort of way. “Our true home is inside of us. “Every time I go in there. “I guess it was more of a sensing. Judith found the key in her pocket and fumbled a bit to find the keyhole.” replied Livvy hesitantly. This time it was Livvy who waited. She stood still somehow sensing that Judith also had her hand on Rusty.Rusty’s wet nose. Livvy. These ordinary senses seemed normal but the auras of both of her companions were invisible. although Livvy couldn’t be sure how long a time it really was at all. They remained there in silence for what seemed like a very long time.” asked Judith. “You had an experience in there. more so than even my own house can give me.” Judith nodded and they continued on their way. They were just not there. “I can’t really say what it was.

” The girl who had entered the tree was no longer standing there.” said Livvy. “it never gets clearer than that. but in there it seemed very clear all the same.“I think for me. still speaking hesitantly. It was a young woman who walked into Judith’s house that night. She took in the presence of her young friend.” Judith paused before pushing the door open. I couldn’t tell you what it was. 135 . “Yes. “It wasn’t just the experience of being home… it was a sensing that I had something to do. “ she said.

it pressed the shaped fabric firmly into the ground.” responded Alex nervously. It measures atmospheric pressure and displays it as your height above sea level. Thanks Magnus. “Well. each beside one of the wings. “We’ve built a simple air speed readout into the left side of your visor.” This was typical of Magnus. It’ll be really helpful. It’s just a pressure gage. collectivised the endeavour and pre-empted any blame coming personally onto the young man if the project failed. The wings of the wing suit were spread out flat on the ground and only arched up in the middle so that Alex could hoist himself up into his flying position. That’s kilometres per hour. this is it Alex. That’s the height of where we are now. now let’s see what happens. you’ll know you’ve climbed 150 metres above us.” Magnus smiled down at him and put his hand warmly on his shoulder.” smiled Magnus. “As they say. It’s the red number on the top. a cool breeze of about 20 kph was climbing up the slope to the higher ground and gently brushing the faces of the small group of people. put on his radio helmet and reaching up for the head bar. “We’ve done all we can to prepare you for this moment. It will usually read something like 20 or 50. Alex was in his chair next to the wing-suit with Magnus and Fred beside him. Despite this. The other figure below it is your altitude. instead of the breeze lifting the lightweight craft. You’ll notice it as the number 150 just below the air speed figure.Chapter 16 First Flight The strong morning sun was beginning to raise a heat haze across the vista of the Salisbury plains. twisted around and zipped himself 136 . you said you might be able to put something like that together. He pulled himself up. They had borrowed this name from the term used to describe the way that a bird of prey lays its wings flat on the ground to cover a downed quarry.” “Well good luck Alex. The wing suit had been dropped down into what they had called ‘mantle’ mode. Okay?” “Yes. Pat and Judy were kneeling. This way. The subtle wording he used. If it reads 300. “Into the lion’s mouth!” He unstrapped himself from the chair.

Alex could feel the power in his arms. Fred pushed the chair away and Pat and Judy stood well back from the wings. the farther out on the wing was the sensor. Years before. he hoisted the wings up to lock into place. He had so envied the skiers. The sensors were now singing gently and reassuringly in his ears. As with the simulation exercises. The louder the note. he was not about to come down again for quite some time. poised at the brink of the slope. He began a steady rhythm of wing beats which he sensed from the experience on the exercise rigs that he could maintain for some time. 137 . It took very little effort. Half way down the slope he was doing 40 kph. Clear tones were from pressure under the wings where it should be. they were feeding him a constant stream of information through musical notes in his stereo earphones. This was all that Alex needed. Immediately the wind caught him and lifted him a fraction off the ground for the briefest of seconds. With a mighty pull. He came right around and increased the lift on the right until the sounds from the sensors evened out. he was a metre off of the ground. Alex had watched ski jumping on the television. banking and building up speed. The sound from the sensors sprang to life in his ears with a full harmonic chord. that same vision fulfilled. He pulled on the wings with four strong strokes to maintain his speed with the increased height. Alex warped the left wing tip slightly increasing the lift. picking up speed as they went until suddenly they were launched high up into the air. Harsh tones indicated pressure on top of the wings that would destroy his lift.into the jacket. the greater would be the air pressure. picking up speed as he went. The higher the note. With two strong strokes. soaring high into the bright light of the morning sky. Here he was. He passed above the tiny group below and lifted the left wing to turn back into the wind again. Alex took a deep breath of the cool fresh morning air. He had felt a thrill as they suddenly launched forward to initiate a rapid flight down the run. gliding down the slope. The wind that was now fluttering over the top of the spread out wings was creating a harsh sound in his ears. As his balance was restored he began to soar higher. The sensors on the wings began to speak to him through his helmet. and what was more. The months of exercise and training had paid off. The left wing began to sing in his ear as it rose high and he slid down to the right. He arched his back to lift his tail and he soared high into the bright cloud-free sky.

The updraft from the wind passing over the hill kept lifting him higher with each pass. He focussed his eye on it and realised he was looking at the back of the outstretched wings of a large bird-ofprey.They had chosen the morning not just because it left the entire day ahead but because the sun would soon begin to form thermals. The hill below was now well downwind of him. Believe it or not he’s probably looking for a patch of ground covered with dew worms to eat. I can see it too. He pulled his tail down slightly and initiated a gentle glide straight at the unsuspecting raptor. tethered as he was then on the end of a line. At these speeds a much smaller surface area was required to keep aloft and the folded back wings reduced air resistance.” “Oh. He began to allow some of his height to convert to momentum by settling into a shallow dive. It reminded him of the hawks back home but he remembered being told that this was a buzzard. Alex could feel the wing tips begin to shudder gently. tilting him to the right. Beautiful. flicked the left wing tip so that it lifted gently. and began passing back and forth over the hill that was now far below him. He pulled on the wings steadily. His rapid descent had increased his speed enormously. He was now twice the height that he had been during his first flight. “Hello. 138 . sorry Magnus. Big Brother is watching you!” he said. He did this for as long as his strength would allow.” Alex was approaching the buzzard fast. Alex settled into a gentle glide. I was just watching a buzzard hovering below me. just pulling on the wing tips enough to maintain his speed without losing any precious hard-earned altitude. The wing suit was designed to fold back the outer third of the wing tips when the wind speed reached 60 kph. He let his eyes relax by gazing at the view stretching out below.No.” “Yes. Big Brother is watching you from down here with binoculars. Soon he had dropped to five hundred metres but his speed had increased to about 40 kph. After fifteen minutes he was beginning to tire but he was now at a height of about six hundred metres and still maintaining enough speed into the wind to keep him aloft without sinking. “Magnus here-. It was soaring half a kilometre off to his right and at a height of about 300 metres. A gentle movement attracted his attention. not realising that he was speaking out loud. Alex.

He had told Alex that the part of his mind that was designed to control his walking and running would awaken and come alive. It had probably picked up on the shock wave coming from the leading edge of his wings rather than having seen him. As the proverb says. Its eyes flashed at him for a split second before it dove straight down. I want to learn to do that!” Again he had forgotten that he was thinking out loud. no matter what was going on.” Alex watched the buzzard drop right down into some woodland where it vanished.” Alex suddenly brought his mind back to his flying and realised that he had lost the valuable speed that he had built up from his descent. Absolutely fantastic. It flapped its wings into a powered descent before pulling them in flat with only the tips projecting into the rapid air stream for fine tuning. The bird must have gone from a hover to 100 kph in a few brief seconds. when the pupil is ready. and from such close quarters. Magnus had been right in what he had predicted. It was something that he was to quickly learn. Its range of vision was very narrow and focussed on the ground below.Yeah. Always have a sizeable part of his mind on his flying.They were on the edge of folding back.” “Alex-.I guess he thought I was going to do to him what he does to kestrals. He was about to skim about 10 metres above the buzzard when it suddenly sensed his presence. I bet he was surprised to meet someone even bigger than he is. “Magnus here-. He should have actually let the wing tips fold back to reduce drag or converted his speed back into elevation before it leaked away into the general air resistance. Alex was flabbergasted.I can see him down there brewing up a cup of black coffee for his hangover right now.Don’t forget your protocol. “Wow. not to be seen again. “Alex here-. Yes.” “Magnus-. I saw that too. He had never seen anything like it. He felt that it would bring a naturalness to his flying that would allow a quality of grace and ease to be invested in his every move 139 .Ha! I bet that’s the last time he has a drink for a while! You must have looked like a big pink elephant to him. He flattened his dive to keep below that threshold.” “Judy here-. takes them out when their busy focusing on the ground below. the teacher appears! You might need that trick yourself someday.

‘I’ll drop down. he caught sight of a number of dense untidy piles of sticks built into the tops of some of the larger trees. The leading bird shrieked past within a feather of his face. The sensors began to sing more loudly and he could even feel the uplift coming from the wind rushing up the steep slope on the other side. That time had not yet fully come however and Alex was in difficulty.’ His mind was already beginning to work in a way that was soon to develop some of the sharpness of a seasoned eagle. Large black crows rose up from these. he could see the top of the rise approaching. Alex knew very little about the relationship between nesting crows . With a closing speed of 100 kph the wind from the bird crashed into him and the blood curdling scream at such close quarters blasted the thoughts from his mind. He warped the left tip for lift. he would be calculating where to risk trading height for speed and speed for height. Looking around. banking sharply to the right so as to not overshoot the updraft. One! Two! 140 . Alex noticed a wooded rise facing him.even as he negotiated the most difficult of airflows. Continuously looking for a free ride from uplifting currents. This was about to change! As he skimmed above the trees. He had let his speed fritter away and was now some three kilometres away from the group on the hill. ‘pick up speed and pass over the wood. Then I’ll bank along the crest of the hill and get uplift from the wind that will be rising up the hill on the other side.and birds of prey. It rose up in the direction of the wind and appeared to slope steeply away on the other side as a grassy bank. The effect was designed to instil shock and that is exactly what it did. ‘This should be fun. three black shapes came screaming at him in the opposite direction.’ Alex thought to himself rather naively. One instant there were three black specks growing with numbing speed. He had lost valuable height.’ Up until that point. the next they filled his whole field of vision. tipped down into a medium dive and was soon skimming above the tree tops at about 50 kph.especially in the breeding season . screaming at his approach. He pulled his tail under. ‘bet they’ve never seen anything like me before. As he turned still maintaining 50 kph.’ he thought. As he passed over.

Suddenly Alex’s wits sharpened. without the back pressure of his air speed. the grass and stones a whirling blur underneath him. Perhaps if Alex had been the buzzard that he had startled only ten minutes earlier. the buzzard would have been disturbed to the extent of being forced to leave quickly with as much dignity as possible. He flattened his dive out. He began a shallow dive. It was like going into warp drive. He was aware of nearing the bottom of the slope. Now. He went into a steep dive and followed the contour of the downward slope. He pulled on the releases again before he could recover any speed. He pulled both the releases simultaneously with his index fingers.Three! They each screamed by creating the illusion of impending and devastating collision before searing past. He pulled his tail under him slightly to flatten out. The sound from the sensors had all but disappeared. He arched his back slightly and began to pull up. He hadn’t done it before but now was the time. however. There was the rim of the hill. He banked upward. They had beaks and talons that were designed for and which were very practised at fighting and killing. Alex continued to climb at a steep 60 degrees until it felt as though he was about to stall. Crows hate birds-of-prey and have hated them for eons. He looked about. he might have been more relaxed about the attack. It was now or never. They’re practised at it and know just what to do. Alex. He could feel pulls on his wings and suspected that they were tearing at the fabric. lost speed. the springs were strong enough to swing the wing tips forward and back into place. lost more speed. Soon he had reached 60. didn’t faze them one little bit. He skimmed above the ground. He was totally confused. The fact that he had a seven metre wing span and weighed seventy times as much as they did. heeled over to the left. The crows were coming in and out of his vision now. The wing tips were humming. It was either sharpen-up or be in deep trouble. had never experienced anything like this. These birds had a wing span that was close to a metre and they weighed a kilo each. The upper range of notes from the sensors suddenly vanished and the sound took on a throaty loudness. within seconds he was climbing into what was now a clear blue sky. The effect on Alex was one of instinctive and deep subliminal terror. With the increased wing 141 . The outer third of the wings snapped back sharply under the intense wind pressure. Even so. The sudden reduction in drag created the effect of being launched by a catapult. Within second he was doing 95.

He looked about. 370. 384 388. and then during the desperate flight from the crows. The sun was shining full on it.’ He banked around and passed over the same area again.5 metres per second but the air itself was rising at a rate of two metres a second.Yeah sure Magnus. He watched his altimeter. 370. He glanced at the red figures. He formed a tight circle. he had totally neglected to keep track of his bearings. He was just above minimum air speed. The sound of the thermal. 399. 396. In the fun of following the buzzard. 30/350. The only sense of direction that he could find was coming from the sun. “What a break!” he breathed deeply as he focussed on the sound of the rising air and watched the figures climb well above 400. 391. ‘I must have just passed through a thermal’ Alex thought to himself.’ He breathed a sigh of relief. 381. He banked again and this time set up a spiral in the middle of the narrow column. Suddenly his radio crackled into life. He had passed right through the thermal. “Magnus here-. 370. picked up by the sensors in his wings. now very new to him. He had no idea where that was. It would be heating the dark earth much faster than the surrounding grassland causing warm air to rise in a column above it.Alex where are you. 393. There was the pattern of a dark freshly ploughed field below him. I read you. He watched the figures. descending in the air at a rate of . the sound from the sensors jumped in volume and he felt a slight lurch in his stomach as if he was in a lift that was starting to go up. the warm light weight air causing a sudden jump in the altimeter before it began to climb. The crows were nowhere to be seen. As Alex began looking around. Suddenly. the full range of sound from the sensors began to inform his every move as he fought to maintain his height. now well overhead. do you read us?” “Alex here-. He looked down. 200 metres above the distant hill top from which he had set off.surface. The sound and the feeling passed. he again heard the distinctive sound and felt the slight lurch. he realised that he was lost. ‘I was feeling myself being lifted up. This distinctive sound. was to become a saving guidance throughout his whole flying career. over and above his left eye. helped him keep within the confines of this invisible spiral staircase to the sky. The readings were steady. 381. ‘Thank God for that.” 142 . 381.

Alex’s dive took him right down to the bottom of the slope below where the others were standing. There was the woods where the buzzard had hidden and yes. He heeled over. It was time to go home. He stalled perfectly. will do!” Alex stayed in the thermal until he could read 600 on his visor. You’re a natural!” Judy cried out in astonishment. At the same time he warped his wing tips to initiate a climb. What he hadn’t seen on the screen was the huge feat of strength that it would take to tension his stomach muscles to pull the tail forward whist his arm and chest muscles were screaming with the strain of hold the wing tips in full lift. he used the last ounce of his speed to climb to the top where they were standing.What happened? We’ve been calling and calling. It was just as he had seen on the screen. This had the effect of trying to force him into a steeper dive.” “Okay. snapped the wing tips back.” “Alex here-. wondering where he had gone. I’ve found a thermal and I’m getting some height before gliding down to you. accelerated to 90 and aimed at the distant hill. The sensors have been really loud. to hover and dropped neatly onto the spring loops. I’ll explain when I get back there.Really? I didn’t hear you. He pulled on the releases and the wing tips sprang back into glide position. dove to 60 kph. It took all of his strength to slow himself down from 90 to 30. but there was only really one simple fact that he knew at this point. The sensors began to scream in his ears as the tension between the two movements created a huge pillow of air in front of him that slowed him rapidly. Magnus and the others were scanning the sky. He had dreamed of doing this and now was his chance.” “Magnus-. we’ll let you get on with it. beat his wings twice.“Magnus here-. Alex was so tired after the strenuous demands of the 143 . It came rapidly into view. He had noted some particular film sequences of bird flight that had really struck him at the time. He was both shattered and elated. Call us if you need help. He began to climb the rise towards his friends. I got myself into a bit of bother. “Alex. there in the distance was the rise on which Magnus and the other were waiting. There was the crow-wood. Suddenly he rose right up under their gaze. By now he could recognise the land features beneath him. the bank. the ridge. congratulating him and helped him mantle down the wing suit.Right Alex. He pulled his tail under him. The small group gathered around him. Having timed his ascent just right.

“still. “Just overexertion. the scream of a jet engine. he remained a living flesh and blood being. “Judy. It was with this profundity that he was experiencing the world of flight.” he finally said with some relief in his voice. the thorns. The experience with the buzzard and the crows had demonstrated something to him about this new emerging life that was quite profound. the impact that his ability to fly would have on the rest of his life and the impact it would have on those around him. The nearest like it in his experience was when the commandos had rolled him out of his chair for the first time. “That was an amazing piece of aerial gymnastics.” he called out. dumping him onto the wild earth where he could feel the gravel. without the exaggerated speeds given by mechanical engines to outstrip and leave far behind the natural world. Fred examined him carefully. without any of these attributes of man-made flight. the soft grass and the deep cool mud. His lips were tinged with blue and he felt a chilling cold pervading his body even in the full warmth of the sun. He didn’t so much wake-up after that but rather surfaced into a semi-delirious doze for the rest of their journey home. Without the harsh hum of a propellor. “Well done. The buzzard might have feared him. I think. the crows might have hated him. putting his arm around Alex’s shoulders. we had better get him back to base. but as he settled down into the chair. but what they did do was to accept him as one of them. They lifted him into the back of the van where he soon fell into a deep sleep.” At first Alex was elated. or the dull thud of rotors to project sonic fear before him. without the protection of a metal casing or rigid fixed wings to fend off the eccentricities the elements. “can you bring the blanket that’s in the back of the van?” Judy brought the blanket and Fred wrapped it around Alex’s shaking figure.” Alex slept the sleep of the exhausted for about an hour. the adrenaline began to wear off and he began to shiver. Fred looked down at him with some concern. young man!” The older man said with obvious feeling in his voice. a creature of the air that inhabited the world.flight that Magnus had to help him release his jacket from the rig and get him into his chair. 144 . His thoughts drifted around the sensations and significance of the flight he had just made.

... It was like she was 145 . One thing... however... Alex would have to remain out of sight and hidden from the public domain.... of air pockets. Darius’s wife was worried. Her husband’s moods had been getting worse lately.... As a huge flying creature with a seven metre wing span and an ability to soar high...... Apart from the deep friendships and working partnerships that he was developing with his colleagues... He was on his way to understanding his relationship within the world of rising currents. he might well cause a powerful and unpredictable reaction in people... even welcomed figure in the skies above the human world... he attracted disturbance. perhaps even bounty hunters or vigilantes with guns... A sight of him in the wrong place at the wrong time. attacked him or simply went about their business according to what was the most efficient way to achieve their life’s purpose. To developing an awareness of the interrelationship that he had with the other creatures of the air and on the ground.... Until such time as people could understand him.. that he had always had and would continue to have... There may well come a time when he would become a familiar and recognised.. Natural creatures saw him... Alex usually felt invisible and unseen by people.. exaggeration and even panic. who he was and what he was doing.He was already well into the journey of integrating with his own wings and tail structure. this would become even more so. he would have to keep his flying out of the view of his fellow creatures.. They retreated from him.......... ... of ground turbulence and high winds.. He could set off stories that compounded even wilder stories... What had once been occasional turns had increased to the extent that there were now times she felt she didn’t know him at all..... was an uncomfortable relationship with human beings.. That time had certainly not yet come. could cause rumours... Of becoming unified with the attendant music from the sensors and the feelings that these extensions of himself had during flight...... They understood him and they accepted him.. Human beings however can react strongly to what they do not understand............ As a small figure in a wheelchair... but he also found a natural respect that was innate and could bring a knowledge of the true order of things. He was finding that he caused disturbance.. to wheel about and to turn and dive at speed. Now that he could fly.....

One the kind. She had been aware of these plants before but the places where it grew had always been at such a distance that she hadn’t dared to leave the path so that she could examine them more closely. He had even told her to prepare herself for a journey away. As she neared the door. Darius had had a minuscule accident in the lab. however. She felt the need to go out. she could tell right away that it was her own beloved Darius that had come in. It was the brooding recluse who had installed the laboratory in the apartment next door. Each stem was an 146 . On a sudden impulse. individual stems about a metre high. She sighed and drew in a deep breath. She put on her veil and made her way into the hall. this time taking a special looking suitcase in with him. She was now infected. He had. It just didn’t seem like Darius that she was living with anymore. done what he had done. having been led to this particular corner of a field by Rusty and Judith. spontaneous and delightful man that she had known since she had met him. Such an event had been calculated as being a one in forty million chance. The droplet had been created. he came in. and kissed her on the lips. She smiled at him and he lifted her veil and gazed upon her beauty. pushing her real husband out to be with her only as a longed-for memory.married to two men. The brooding recluse was planning something. Everyday he would go into the laboratory for at least an hour. She loved Darius and would do anything for him. Now. She felt a deep unease as she sat in their apartment. That was all it took. The plants consisted of an abundance of strong. making phone calls. Chapter 17 Livvy Takes some Knocks The large patch of abundant growth was amongst the most beautiful that Livvy had ever come across. even trips away. she was able to bend over the close-knit stand of shoots and take them in. The other a brooding irritable recluse who hardly seemed to be aware of her at all. he playfully touched the tip of her nose with his index finger. and he had been around most of the time over the past week. He wasn’t aware of it but his finger carried a tiny drop of a lethal serum. Although he was carrying the case. He had gone into the lab next door again.

almost ethereal golden powder in the wind. The big lesson for the braves as they did the New Moon Running. “I don’t think I have ever seen such a beautiful aura as these plants have.” said Livvy reaching her finger out towards one of the silver-white edges.” exclaimed Livvy. because I did show you these plants for a reason. then there are risks. “One reason I’m told. We’ve minimised the risks but we have also limited your scope. but Livvy. if you want to be truly free.” Livvy hesitated then pulled her finger back. Crowding this stunning. each standing out amongst the plants because of their own vivid colours.electric mauve and carried leaves arranged in pairs on either side at close regular intervals. Only you can make that choice. “How could anything so gorgeous do that. just like these.” Judith paused. The catkins were also mauve but more intense than the stems and they seemed to sprinkle fine. Why don’t people have them in their gardens?” “Actually they do but most people think they’re weeds and try to get rid of them. Each leaf was carried on iridescent stalks and oscillated softly from a bright yellow to a dull orange. “If you choose to go on… and it is entirely your choice… if you choose to go on. “but don’t say I didn’t warn you. cut. to leave the safety of the track. In fact I suspect you may eventually be paralympic material. There are nettles all over the place. thorns and holes in the ground. don’t you?” “Well you’re sort of right. silver-white that seemed to twinkle in the cool night air. bruised. tiny but radiant double catkins formed a glittering cascade from the base of each leaf. “Goodness me. So far everything you have done has been as safe as possible. “You want me to find out for myself. You can continue to develop your running on flat ground and still go a long way with it. You’ll be stung. Their saw-toothed edges were frosted in a glowing. Towards the top. miniature forest was a population of insects and caterpillars. was not just the running itself but to learn to accept the 147 .” “No. I don’t believe it. There are brambles.” “Well you don’t have to take my word for it if you don’t want to. tree roots. “I wanted to show you something dangerous. is that nettles are as dull visually as they are vivid aurically… another reason is that they will sting you at the slightest touch. stones. then there will be risks. sprained and possibly worse. I feel you have reached a certain plateau in your running.” said Judith.” replied Judith.” said Judith.

” They were following a path. You don’t have to make the choice now. startled. Her fingers appeared steady and were a pale red with a faint yellow halo. It wasn’t long before I found the stings were clearing the arthritis in my hands.stings and bruises not as pain. There’s an expression you might have heard. Except well… I grow nettles in my garden. what you’re telling me is that if I’m to learn to run over these hills or anywhere else that’s wild. After a couple of days the water goes dark brown and becomes the most marvellous fertiliser.” she cried. “Ow! You nasty thing. The silver-white seemed to brush off onto the yellow halo and Livvy gasped in surprise and pulled her finger back. “and I will point out things that might happen to you… unless of course you can learn how to avoid them.” said Judith. “The gentler the touch.” said Judith.” “Could you show me some?” asked Livvy. I wear gloves when I gather them but I do get stung quite a lot. clearly delineated by the dull emanation of the well-trodden earth compared with the fresh ethereal light of the lush grass on 148 . The sensation is far nicer than the arthritis!” Livvy was silent for a while. The two set off following the glow of Rusty’s aura. you would stumble across the one I left out. I harvest them and soak them in a small tank. “You said there were other things. silver white saw-toothed edge of a newly sprouted leaf near the top of one of the stems. and if I tried to name all of them.” she said finally. She slowly upturned her hand and gently brushed the twinkling. the more it stings. it wouldn’t sting me… but it did. “OK… Let’s go for a walk. Livvy. “Imagine you are running. I’m inevitably going to run into things like these nettles and they’ll hurt me. but as good medicine.” “So. “Yes. ‘grasp the nettle?’ It means if your going to do it then really do it. “I thought if I just touched it gently. but the question will keep coming up for you…” Judith paused again as she became aware of the aura of Livvy’s fingers approaching the edge of the nettle leaves.” Judith laughed. as teachers and imparters of knowledge. Now I welcome them. You probably haven’t noticed them because they are all behind the compost heap.” “Yes that’s pretty well it.

because each step wasn’t so much a landing on the ground as a means of keeping altitude in the air. “This is something that you will not be able to avoid for many years. In amongst the trees. it was like entering a three dimensional matrix of auric colour rising high over their heads. there was a jumble of auras from small ferns and young saplings whose fronds and branches rose up a meter above the ground. It would have been a dark wood to the sighted especially as it was the deep of night. The path led them to the edge of a wood. It could easily have cut you. “This is a badger track. but to these three. Judith. but for you at running speed…?” “Yes. No problem for a badger.” said Judith. The dimness of it was still there. often overhanging the path. “I hadn’t even noticed it. If I was running and checking for branches at the same time.” “Gosh. I guess I said something like that but you’ve described it so much better than the man on the radio. I might well make the mistake. Suddenly Judith stopped.either side. I think I’m getting the picture. Just ahead there is a sharp dip in the path. “If you had your attention on the path and not what’s at head height.” “Now look down here. but instead of there being a carpet of lush growth either side of the path.” They walked on a bit further.” “Gosh. I do” “I remember you saying that you heard it was almost like flying.” 149 . the path became more subtle. Do you remember describing to me the New Moon Running that you had heard about. I am aware of it because I have developed the ability to perceive the trace aura of the soil itself. It wouldn’t do much harm at walking speed. It could easily trip you. “Look up here.” “That’s because I’ve done it Livvy and I want you to learn it too… If you choose to.” said Livvy.” said Judith. It forks away from the main path by these brilliant little mushrooms. this branch might well have scraped across your face if you were running. It has many of the characteristics of a path for people. but just over there it goes down a really steep slope. I can tell the difference now that you point it out. Livvy?” “Yes.

Don’t sell yourself short by relying on the ground to tell you where up is.” The three walked on. Judith. “If you’re running in a series of jumps from one landing on the ground to the next. Your inner-ear tells you where up is. but he had four legs. “Listen to the sounds and listen to the sky. as they will protect your ankles… but you’ll still need to learn to fly. When I heard it described. “Your hearing is excellent. She knew that the latter described her desire yet she was also beginning to sense what it would take to achieve it. following by simply stepped down into the dip and coming out the other side. “Think of yourself as an arrow pointing to the sky and think of the ground as a undulating changing surface under your feet. That’s something that people do to it. Her feet had been regularly sounding out a rhythm on the even path. Judith continued.” Livvy listened to Judith’s words. Natural ground is not meant to be flat and it was never meant to tell you where up is. Yes… I really want to do it!” Judith paused and took in Livvy’s atmosphere. There were certain phrases that the older woman repeated over and over. She seemed to reach a conclusion whereupon she turned back to the direction they had been travelling. Natural ground is rarely flat. Rusty passed over the dip with only a slight shift in his aura to show where it was.” She paused again for effect. Let the ground do what it wants to do.” said Judith.” 150 .then it will trip you.” Livvy felt herself shiver and the hair stood up on the back of her neck.and you land in that dip . They were spoken softly almost like poetry. Those shoes that you bought might well help you. Suddenly one of them dropped down into a void where the ground should have been and she stumbled forward. “The same is true for all the other surprises that you may encounter on the ground. Livvy followed. She managed to steady herself with her other foot but the experience sobered her. so that each step is merely a means of maintaining altitude . I knew then that I wanted to do it. Listen to the sounds around about and listen to where up is.” she began. It’s a very sensitive organ. Let the ground do what it needs to do under your feet. better than most. “The dip. “If you run in a way that is like flying.then you will pass over it even if you touch your foot into it.“Yes I do want to Judith.

” said Livvy. she could feel the dance. Even though they were just walking she could feel her feet yielding and following the shape of the rocks. She was beginning to feel the dance in herself. Livvy slowed up behind him. …at the still point of the turning world. She could feel her heart brimming over with delight in the experience. bumps and roots that did not give their shape or position away until the last moment. Their meaning took root in her and seemed to lift her up by an invisible silver cord from the top of her head. a badger grunted. the place where T S Elliott wrote those words was less than a mile away. here in this forest. As 151 . Judith cooed softly and Rusty paused and turned. I am. as if the place where she ended and the rest of the world began had become very thin. She realised that she wasn’t alone in her learning but that Judith has almost become part of her. It was true. something more than the words themselves. Livvy loved poetry and one poem in particular. Livvy followed. Now. The dance moved through her. The wind brushed gently on her face and at the same time she heard its soft movement through the grass of the field and in the leaves of the trees above her. She knew that Judith was imparting something to her. that is where the dance is… and there is only the dance. She felt Rusty look up at her and she nodded gently to him. The path took a sharp turn and they emerged onto another field that Livvy had not been in before. Perhaps that was why they were both here. She could feel it through the silver cord. She knew that. Her assurance grew.” An owl hooted tersely overhead and somewhere behind them in the woods. She suddenly felt vast. Livvy had been vaguely aware of the auras of dancers when she had been out with her friends in London. It flowed to her from Judith and it flowed through her whole body. He understood immediately and began making off along the path through the field. Her steps became lighter somehow less dependant on the solidity that may or may not be underfoot.The words enveloped her and formed a mantra in her heart. The cord held her high and soft and light as she seemed to pass over the dark earth beneath her. “Yes. Perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that the still point was so near. “Are you ready to run?” Judith asked in a whisper. It was at a time when her perceptions were only just developing and was only an impression of the dance that she dared not act out herself. breaking into a gentle run. coincidentally. “Yes. she did have the ability to sense where up was independent of the ground.

aware of them as tall fountains of glowing pink and rose. now well uphill from 152 . She did this twice before he obeyed. It was as if he wasn’t sure he had sensed her intent correctly. This led to the path so Livvy nudged Rusty back down to the left with her intent so that they were running parallel to the path but further down. He veered off over the soft deep grass and Livvy followed him as he bounded down the incline. Rusty dodged between them and Livvy. Livvy could feel the climb dig into her momentum. urging him over to the right and down the slope onto the grassland and away from the path. The edge of the wood began to loom above them until it filled the sky with its living matrix. Listen to the sky. Let the ground do what it wants to do.Rusty felt her catching up. sensing her passion went all the faster. His bright auric form now had a atmosphere of amazed delight within it.’ called out Livvy’s intent and Rusty followed. They began to climb the slope again. Livvy followed. each time her foot landed. One would slope one way. Livvy felt the thrill of the freedom and Rusty. it moulded itself for a brief instant to the unique shape of that one piece of ground before lifting off again. He realised that Livvy was keeping up with him and that she was able to join him in something that was truly fun in the fullness that he as a dog would have given that word if he could speak. she felt the pull of the silver cord pointing her upwards like an arrow to the sky. picking up speed from the incline. She could also feel the strength in her legs and the joy of using them in this new way as she charged up the hill on Rusty’s tail. even though she knew her to be still standing at the exit from the woods. the next another. Judith’s mantra filled her heart as she went. Listen to the sounds. Livvy willed him to return to Judith. They reached the top of the slope and turned left again. she could feel that each step was different and she knew it didn’t matter. Down here were tall thistles which the sheep had left in preference for the grass. On and on they went until the field gave way to more nettles and behind that the mossy glitter of a dry stone wall. Livvy kept tugged at him with her intent. She began to breath harder but her lungs were so strong from the years of swimming underwater that she could keep going. She could feel Judith coming along too. followed him without mishap. There was a large patch of nettles shining in their mauve and yellow incandescence blocking their way and Rusty went downhill to avoid them. ‘To the left. she could hear the wind and the rustle of the grass. he increased his speed until soon they were both running lightly along the path.

Livvy however was going too fast. Ahead of her a large bramble was growing in the hedgerow. Like a dream she could remember very little. She enjoyed the special occasions when her vision would return. The sunbeam was so bright she could see it as a pale shimmer like moonlight picking out the dresser. She screamed briefly as she careered sideways and fell cut and bleeding onto the rough ground. moved well to the left and was much closer to the window. Rusty’s four legs and greater experience were able to turn him on the spot even at full speed. The sunlight was so strong however. the warm bath. He obeyed turning sharply right to climb straight up the steep slope. the soft welcoming sheets. Her inexperienced legs couldn’t turn her in the small bend that Rusty had followed. shining through her bedroom window the following morning. leaning at times on Judith and holding onto Rusty’s strong leather collar as much for support as for guidance. This was another plant that Livvy had never examined closely before. A large runner had arched out from the hedge and layered itself into the ground. nothing but a break between the disjointed impressions of the aftermath of her fall and the clear reality of the sun. There was the impression of Judith’s kind and healing aura. It was too late when Livvy became aware of its garish. There was the welcome relief of coming back to Judith’s house. she was moving too fast. The cold earth rushed up to hit her head and her mind was filled with a vivid yellow light before the cool soft grass cradled her flushed cheek as she rolled onto her side and lay there stunned. What followed seemed to her as a dream. the small round carpet on the dark wood floor and the wicker chair just to the side of it. that within seconds her pupils contracted as they adapted to the morning brightness and her vision faded into a dim ghost of what it had first been. The loop cut across her legs ripping through her jeans and tripping her headlong into the spiky hawthorn hedge. Her old friend walked across into the pool of light and for a 153 . The sun had risen higher and the bright spot of light that it cast through the window had now contracted. green and red aura. bending over her. She had been woken by the sound of Judith entering the room. the stinging water.where they were. Rusty’s docile attendance. There was the impression of Rusty whimpering over her and licking her face. Then there was a vague and suppressed memory of the long walk home. then nothing. Judith’s soft presence. anchoring itself firmly into a strong and vicious loop. She fell into a deep sleep again for at least another hour. the stumble up the stairs. just a vague impression.

’ Livvy thought to herself as the vision faded with the contraction of her eyes to be replaced by the familiar and no less beautiful aura and atmosphere that Livvy had come to know and love deeply. You took quite a nasty knock. I guess that’s what a risk is… something unpredictable. My skin feel like it’s in shreds and I feel like I’ve been beaten up. “Not as bad as my leg. “It’s a bit sore on the side here but otherwise OK. now sounding relieved.” “Is that why the water stung so much last night?” “You remember that.” “How does your head feel?” asked Judith. “How do you feel?” said Judith. She obviously felt deeply responsible for what had happened. I wouldn’t have let you go. but I do remember that.” replied Livvy in a croaky voice. do you?” “I don’t remember much of last night. You snagged a bramble with your right leg. but I wanted to be sure you weren’t concussed. “ I have two memories from last night. Yes! I’ll never forget that!” “Welcome to the world of risks. It made a nasty gash just above your knee.” “Do you remember the running?” “Oh.” Judith said quietly.” “Neither did I. of running over the field and feeling the wind of my 154 . It took her a few seconds to realise that the blanket was in fact Judith’s aura. Livvy could see her as she was. One was very vivid. Livvy was aware of being enveloped in a warm and tingling blanket. “I’ve brought you some porridge. surrounding her and soothing her. If I thought it would happen. my love. “Thank you Judith. Livvy was aware of an element of guilt in Judith’s atmosphere. It was of being free.” “It’s all right Judith. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” replied Livvy. but I didn’t think it would happen so soon.” “Your sure?” asked Judith. Your aura seemed pretty clear there. That’s what tripped you.” “Good. The hawthorns have covered you in some small cuts as well. ‘She is a truly beautiful woman.” “Well you did warn me. “Judith.brief instant.” said Livvy.” said Judith. “I hurt all over. concern in her voice.

.. I won’t lie..” said Judith. If I get hurt. Of following Rusty’s aura in full flow...... “Judith… I’m going to do it again. I can live with that..” said Livvy... I’ll take care… really. of being cleaned up and being put to bed.....” “OK Livvy. “My father has cosseted me for so long.” “Well thank you Livvy. of the walk back. The sense of vulnerability that she felt coming from her touched her heart. “You won’t tell my parents?” she asked between mouthfuls.. “I’ll be more careful next time... “Don’t. It’s important.. The older woman placed the bowl of porridge on Livvy’s lap and watched as she ate the steaming food..own motion in my face.” “OK Livvy. .. He would come and take me home this afternoon if you tell him. 155 .. I want to stay here and learn to do this. of moving over a sea of auras coming from the grass and the thistles and the rocks. less than knowing what to do..” “I’d feel awful if something happened to you.. I’m making the choice myself... It is of you and Rusty looking after me.” “Good..” Judith replied. “Let’s get you healed first and we’ll see where to go from there. Judith... “Now finish up and we’ll have a look at your wounds..” Judith fluffed up the pillows behind Livvy and the young woman pulled herself up to sit against them. I don’t think he could handle it. But will you phone them tonight?” “Yes...” said Judith squeezing her hand back. I’ll do that Judith.... It’s just that you were lucky last night.. the only guilt you need to feel is that you showed me how to do it in the first place.. I’ll just not mention it... and again until I get it right.. I wouldn’t want to live without the other. Now that I’ve had this experience.” said the older woman kindly. The other memory is vague and mostly forgotten. From now on. I know what can happen. Livvy took her hand. It was like being let loose from a small room.” Livvy was not used to Judith being less than confident.... “I thought that maybe I should....... It could have been much worse.

There was some project she was involved in with Judith. “Livvy dear. It had been ten weeks since he had seen her and although they talked regularly by phone. He could hear Judith’s voice from inside.Two months after Livvy’s fall. It was then that he had a second shock. “You’ve got a black eye. Judith’s house and garden were so well cared for. a big scratch on your 156 . After he let her go he stood back. that when David had visited for the first time. He walked up the manicured path and knocked on the door.” he said. He entered the village and drove through the centre. her father. She was tanned and slightly wild looking. you look great… it’s just that you’re all beat up. taller than his daughter. with strong arms and legs and a robust glow of health. He hugged her back. Looking at a map. could you get the door? I’m upstairs. was driving towards Norton-sub-Edge to see his daughter. it took him quite a while realise that Judith was actually blind. The door opened and David was amazed. It had been Livvy’s voice that he’d heard but standing before him was not the girl he remembered but a young woman. Livvy had found every excuse to avoid coming home. with real concern in his voice. David. His daughter had the remnants of a black eye. got out and walked towards Judith’s front gate. Judith. “My goodness. still trying to take in the changes. what have you been doing with yourself?” he cried out in surprise. He had been on a business trip to Birmingham and had been returning home. “Let me look at you now. He turned the small estate car left at the manor house and guided it carefully along the bumpy lane towards the church.” OK.” said Livvy defensively. David liked the older woman immensely.” said her father. a scratch just beginning to heal on her left cheek and her wrist was in a light cast. so much so that he was not unduly worried by his daughters absence from his life. His amazement was rekindled as he opened the gate and looked around the carefully set-out flower beds and well-pruned shrubs. “Do I look that bad?” “Well no. He parked alongside a high stone wall. “Have you been hit by a car?” “No.” she cried and threw her arms around him giving him an enormous hug. he realised how close his journey would take him to where Livvy was.” came his daughter’s reply. “Daddy. even for a weekend.

Distance is a funny concept to me. “She’s obviously enjoying the countryside. Dad.” “I know you’ve told me about sensing what people are thinking.” Livvy frowned and was obviously feeling patronised. she’s got off rather lightly.” “She’s out there about three or four hours every evening. “so you’re having a bit of trouble getting around on your own?” “I’ve been cross-country running. “How do you do that? You can’t see. “You’ve no doubt been admiring your daughter’s new adornments. reaching the bottom of the stairs and taking David’s arm to lead him in the direction of the sitting room.” “Mmm.cheek and your wrist’s in a plaster. but I thought that it was more of an intuitive thing. Dad. somewhat placated.” said Judith.” mused David.” “It wasn’t a car. “Hello Mr Johnson. Actually considering the amount she does. “I don’t think I have ever seen you looking so gorgeous. How far do you go?” “I don’t really know. don’t you think?” “How much do you do. Perhaps a little too much?” “I don’t know about ‘too much’ but she certainly is out in it a lot. In fact I got each of them separately. And I haven’t been in a fight.” replied David trying to make light of his concern. I only went to the hospital with the wrist and they said it was a green-stick fracture and would be as good as new in another couple of weeks.” said Judith from half way down the stairs.” he added. Dad. stop teasing me! I’ve told you before that I have other ways of finding my way around.” He tried to make a joke. “If your sister was here I might have thought you’d been fighting.” 157 .” interjected Judith “What! That’s a huge amount of time to be running. I’m surprised your as intact as you are!” “Dad. David realised that he was getting onto tricky ground. Livvy?” “Not too much.” “Yes I have. No wonder you’re all beat up. I’m just glad to see you looking so well.” “Cross-country running?” he said incredulously. haven’t you Livvy dear.” Livvy replied. “Livvy’s taken up cross-country running. Dad. “Well.” “Thanks Dad.

....... It was late and getting quite dark.” said David.” he answered without thinking to hard.. “Would you like to come out for a walk.. Livvy was a bit flummoxed. Dad. She remembered what he had been like when she was younger and he had been very protective of her.. yet the guide-dog’s harness lay un-held on his back. She was cut..... The clouds had come in low but there was as yet no sign of rain... “When?” “We’ll have some tea and set off in about a quarter of an hour?” . she was oblivious to the views and scenery around about them.. yet her feet seemed to find the route and shape of the ground with ease.. “The path goes off to the right now. surrounded by mist-strewn natural beauty........” she said innocently as if this activity in one of the rougher terrains in South-west England was the most natural thing in the world for a young girl who couldn’t see..By now they had entered the sitting room. Now at the top of the steep incline.. He too was feeling a bit awkward with this strange new woman with his daughter’s voice. Walking was also one of the things he did take time out of his busy life to do. yet she had walked over the fields with a grace and confidence that spoke of great poise...... Of course she would be… she was blind. His daughter seemed to be unaffected by the dimming light. David couldn’t tell. He knew it was so even though her eyes rested unfocussed in the distance. Dad?” she asked.. he could feel her gaze on him.. It had taken them about twenty minutes to reach the top of the escarpment. “Lead on.. David was confused by the conflicting things he was seeing in his daughter. She had an idea.. Although she seemed to be able to ‘see’ in her own way. She had walked behind Rusty as if being guided by him. She was afraid that it could be a bit awkward if they simply sat over a cup of tea and tried to make conversation. intrigued. “OK..... 158 ......... How much of this was due to the thickness of the cloud and how much to the setting of the sun somewhere behind them... bruised and bandaged up as if she was as accident-prone as could be... They were walking along a very undulating path. She hadn’t expected to see her father just yet and his attention to her injuries had restimulated her feelings of being frail and unable to deal with the world.

I’m assuming that this is a circular walk and we’ll be getting back soon. It had only been an hour before that he had been teasing his daughter for carelessness and now here he was stumbling about in the dark. It doesn’t affect us at all. I’d get lost if I did. We will have to turn around to get home.” “But it’s getting dark. We’ll take care of you. “Don’t worry. He could tell that there was some invisible bond between them that was working magic. Soon they were moving at a good pace through a very varied terrain indeed. shall we lead the way?” “I think you’d better. “About a half of the way along to Yeoverton.” she pointed. She stopped and squeezed his hand when she reached him.” The absurdity of this turn of events was beginning to dawn on David.” he protested weakly.” said Livvy slowing to a stop and turning to him. She was also interested in his point of view.” Rusty brushed past him followed by his daughter.” said David an urgency creeping into his voice. As they went. They chatted about Livvy’s sister.” “Where are we?” he asked.” “I think we had better go now Livvy.” “OK Dad.” “Oh. Even though she spoke regularly with her mother on the telephone. That’s a small farming village up on the top here.“Just along here. the light began to get dimmer and David soon found that keeping up with Livvy and Rusty whilst negotiating the winding path and avoiding the straggling undergrowth was taking all his attention. “I can hardly see a thing as it is.” he called after a while. David was amazed at the way his daughter and the dog worked as a team. relying on her to guide him 159 . “It’s getting dark and I can hardly see my way around. Janey and what she was doing that summer and Livvy asked about her mother and how she was doing with the new job she had started. she was glad to have her father as a captive audience. “Rusty and I can get around at night as easily as we can in the day. As they went on. “the path is quite good and there are woods and fields which you will really like. “Gosh. Livvy. No it isn’t! We have to go back the way we came. Livvy was pressing her father for news of home. I’m sorry Dad. “Livvy. I hadn’t noticed that there was darkness.” she soothed.

I can recognise the shape of some of the auras which act like landmarks. “Yes.” Livvy laughed. There was now a faint glow as the street lights below reflected their light off of the low cloud. “I’ll tell you where everything is. Luckily for him. I’ll just move you around it. “Rusty and I could run down and get you a tent. Take Rusty’s harness and let him guide you.” “Let me have his harness. step a bit to the left. “There’s more room on the path now we’re out of the woods. That’s how the wolves work together in packs. an hour and a half later. He’s very gentle in one way but he’s really still a wolf in another.” said Livvy.” she said softly. He turned to follow her dim shape and was now feeling out each step in real trepidation. “Just relax. I told you… I can’t see anything.” “Does he know his way back to Judith’s House?” “I hope so. It would only take an hour there and back. I’d be pretty lost without him. “Here. I’ll manage. “Ow! I just scraped my knee on something! I guess it’s just that I didn’t think your abilities were this practical. The two of us read each others auras and intent.” Rusty emerged from the woods and waited the few seconds for them to catch up.” “Will he let me?” “Oh.” When David finally arrived back at Judith’s house. but I have the ability to sense of the auras of things. he’ll let you all right. No more than you can now. David could now see a faint outline of the field but not enough to walk without mishap. Hold on. I remember you telling me that. I don’t know how.” “I rely a lot on Rusty too. he was the only one who was able to see 160 . “We talked about it before. But as he has such a good sense of direction I tend to let him find the way home. OK there’s a big rock here. Dad.” said David nervously as he slipped sideways on a damp slope.” “Are you really telling me you can see in these conditions?” he asked incredulously. but will be able to follow him?” “I don’t really have much choice Livvy unless I decide to camp out till tomorrow.home. The path turns sharply here. Soon Livvy paused and reached her hand back to take his. Dad. he was quite a sight.

“There are a few more things to do before I am packed.. you’re just a bit too smart for your own good. Could you help me please?” “Certainly Mam.. “So… you’ve seen all the packing. Mam.... Judith.... Darius’s wife nuzzled it once again......... “What would you like me to do?” The cat looked on from the doorway as the two women went about their business arranging clothes and other articles into a large suitcase. It turned and sniffed at her mouth and on impulse..” The cat began to purr at the sound of her gentle voice... quietly passing the seated woman.. David smiled at his own reflection. “I think I’ll take you up on your kind offer. He also asked me to tell you that it is confirmed that you are leaving in the morning… first thing...” she said softly in Montanistani. 161 .. “Your husband called.” replied the young woman. He will come for you in the morning.” Judith... Judith had kindly offered to put him up for the night.” “Thank you... She looked up at Marella..... We are going away and we can’t take you with us.. “ He asked me to tell you that your daughter is safe and well with your sister and is sound asleep.. following some unknown frame of reference brought him a very welcome cup of tea in an elegant cup and saucer. “Well. “It’ll give me a little time to heal before my wife sees me tomorrow... Marella..... She got control of the emotion and pushed it back down.. the bruised shins and the two scratches across his face. Darius’s wife stroked the animal fondly as it nuzzled against her.... she kissed its nose playfully... A servant came in and the cat jumped down....... “Do you mind if I use your phone?” ... He has been delayed and will not be returning this evening. “I think I’ll just take her up on that..” he thought to himself. He looked ruefully into the mirror.” The cat meowed softly and brushed against her in pleasure.... She paused as the thought of being away from her daughter brought a deep sorrow and anxiety in her... David stirred it gently.” said the servant respectfully.....” said the servant..the ripped trousers...” he said. “and now you’re worried we’re going to leave you..... The cat jumped up onto the seated figure.

162 .

the AGM. Yeoverton House. stood six stories high and had small windows slits spiralling up its walls. This too was covered with padded mats. was used continuously by the company for design and planning meetings. It was a tower. This finished off the tower with a classical look. a spacious dining room with discreet catering facilities to match. In the centre. level with the parapet. The roof deck had been totally altered over the previous month. two metres across and padded similarly. It was eight metres across at the base. business conferences. had built a folly in a wooded part of the grounds. named after the adjacent village. It was a stately Georgian house in extensive wooded grounds set back a couple of kilometres from the edge of the escarpment. The top roof deck was a round platform nestled down into the walls so that the cylindrical outer Cotswold stone shell formed a secure parapet some one and a quarter metres high. a Victorian eccentric who lived in the house. the tower was round.Chapter 18 The Citadel ISD had a property in the Cotswolds. These lit the spiral staircase that ascended the structure by winding around the inside of the circumferal wall. a large conference room and two smaller meeting rooms. the top of the parapet was now padded. The taper was due to the thinning of the walls as the building rose from the ground rather than there being an inherent cone shape in the structure. the cover of which was level with the top of the parapet. surmounted a piston assembly adapted from 163 . The staircase emerged onto the deck and was covered from the elements by a trap door. Done in such a way that none of the changes could be seen from the ground. It had twelve bedrooms. and for staff and client leisure breaks. a stout round disc. The parapet stepped out in width with corbels underneath and arrow slits on top. squash courts and a sizeable indoor swimming pool. many of them on-suite. pausing with a short landing at each floor on the way. A walkway had been left around the wall but a four metre diameter platform had been built in the middle. Perhaps modelled after the tower from which Rapunzle let down her hair or a similar mystical childhood image. During the end of the nineteenth century. tapering to just over seven at the top. The adjoining sports facilities consisted of tennis courts.

A small lift had been built into the tower which serviced this lower floor also.” Magnus greeted him.” “This is fantastic. it’s almost a magical place. “Welcome to your new home. paused on a two metre wide landing before continuing its ascent to the room above. A second switch on the remote. This descended down to the floor below and then on down to the floor below that. By pressing a remote control. who had climbed the stairs. The top of the spiral staircase had been extended in such a way that another trapdoor led not to the head of the stairs but to the top of a fireman’s pole. the tall window slit being small. the piston would raise the disc up two metres above the platform and the parapet wall. I might even learn to pick up the odd chicken as I do a low run. giving enough grip for you to climb up it easily. It was of course round and six metres across.” “Careful. looking admiringly around.a mechanics car lift. Alex.” 164 . There was a small kitchenette under the soffit of the stairs and a two metre round table filled the middle of the room. The pole leads up to your personal bedroom and rest area. Comfortable chairs completed the decor on the other side from the stairs. “The Red Kite was nearly hunted to extinction for doing that. you can take off and land from the platform above and never land anywhere else. He rolled out into the spacious room. The loo is also up there if you need it. you might get yourself shot. I’m glad you like it because you’re going to be spending a lot of time here …when you’re not flying of course. The pole came down just beside them. was waiting. I gather you get the significance of the tower. “We hope the pole is slippery enough for you to slide down. Alex’s wheelchair filled the tiny compartment. Magnus.” laughed Magnus.” “Well. had it not been for the tasteful lighting. “Wow. what a cool place!” Alex responded. initiated a ten second pause before the disc then returned quietly back down to the level of the platform. As the door slid open. The staircase rose up behind the lift shaft. It would have been rather dark in the room. Magnus. then you wouldn’t even need to bring food. but at the same time. Apart from us supplying you with food.” “Mmmm. It was through the door of this lift that Alex first glimpsed the rooms which were to be his base for the next several months. We have to keep up your arm exercises after all.

” 165 . I’ll make a salad. I can chop lettuce as well as anybody.” Magnus sat down.” “I know! Here’s some smoked mackerel. poured out the drinks and they clicked glasses. “This is about as close as we will get to a celebratory drink. seeing Alex looking with puzzled wonder at the new design. salad stuff?” “I don’t know Magnus. “To the Citadel!” he said. Alex had been up early packing his things from his room in the ISD laboratories. Magnus opened a couple of cans of light ale. good name Magnus.” Magnus told him in greeting. Without the weight of legs to have to carry. Magnus carried Alex’s suitcase up the stairs to the bedroom.“I guess your right. eggs. There’s soup. Is there a spare knife. there was a new chair waiting for him. It was a special design put together by ISD. After the meal. “Come on. They had driven up together and his things had been brought up to his new flat at the top of the Citadel. from Magnus’s car. Innovative design is what ISD is about and they really had done their work in keeping with their title. This was the first time that Alex had seen the room above. To his surprise.” The pair ate their meal in silence.” “Much more inspiring for an aspiring osprey. We have some sandwich things. when he pulled himself up level with the floor.” The two set about making the meal together and laying it on the table. Alex. “To the Citadel. You choose. “What would you like for lunch. “We hoped that this would be as much of a pleasant surprise for you as the Citadel. I’m beginning to feel a lot of empathy with birds anyway. he found this quite easy. even chickens. It had already been a long day.” Magnus walked over to the fridge. It had obviously been thought out from first principals with leisure and comfort in mind. I know you have to keep to a tight athlete’s regime. Mmmm. He opened the door to reveal a wellstocked interior. but this is the day you’ve moved into your new home. pulled his wheelchair up beside the pole. Alex. He unstrapped himself from the chair and pulled himself up hand over hand. there’s a cross bar there for you to pull yourself over with. It wasn’t a conventional wheelchair adapted for his extreme condition as was the one downstairs.

“What? …Oh. “You’re meant to lie angled forward on it. however. You should be able to relax in it for a whole evening. It means that you can move around the room in a restful and dignified way. A couple of sofas were also chosen so as to be comfortable for him. Flying was fantastic.’” “Better is hardly the word. that I never dreamed anything could be so comfortable and easy to use as this. They certainly were worth taking in. A built in wardrobe was next to the small table making an alcove for it to sit in. ‘If we can’t do anything better than that. Magnus! I was so conditioned into thinking that wheel chairs had to be a certain way.” “Well Alex. His arms rested naturally on rests. Alex was wheeling himself around the room. “This is really amazing. positioned just above the wheel rims. He was quite taken aback. as well as a small table with a kettle next to a water tap and sink. we might as well give up right now. There was a large bed. There was a television against one wall. I thought to myself when I first saw you in that stiff old machine. it’s just perfect!” Alex was genuinely pleased. Under the window was a writing table and computer built in at a height ideal for him to do his work from the new chair. The two small multi-directional wheels for stability were behind him. there’s a chin rest which lifts up if your neck gets tired” Alex pulled himself over by the cross bar and slid into the new chair. thanks. Next along from the wardrobe in progression around the curve of the wall was an efficient but elegant chest of drawers. By the way. set up with a mini fridge underneath. We developed the shape from your body cast that we took to make the wingsuit jacket. a small bath and a sink were built into a partition extending out from under the stairs that led up to the roof. that’s our business at ISD. The walls were a bright cream and the ceiling an off white. His body lay forward in it at 60 degrees.” Alex’s words stumbled out. rather than having to be strapped in upright. but it sharpened the contrast between the graceful ease of being in the air and the rigidity of being strapped into a machine designed for people with as least a pair of thighs for balance. hardly taking in his surroundings. The loo. getting in and out of the chair with ease. The wheels were smaller than conventional and he could easily steer and move himself about with them. This room was brighter than the room below having three window 166 .

” “Okay. I’m pretty excited right now but I suspect that if I lay down I would probably drop off … Actually come to think of it I could put the chin rest up and sleep right here. Not so much as to go out of it’s way. The design of the new wheelchair was such that he would have had no trouble putting his own things away. It just so happens that there are no people here at the moment who are not in the know about you. “It’s very quiet up here and we will see that you are not disturbed. it can be made quite dark in here. You’ll be flying late this afternoon and we have some evening trials planned for you. Magnus. wild and Japanese cherries. Alex. the upper parapet could be glimpsed in an intriguing way that made the viewer long to see more. Occasional scotch pines added a deep green lustre to counter the light colours of the limes. but enough to obscure the view. There were robinas and honey locusts. We expect you to be doing a lot of night and early morning flying. with quite a few beautifully straight ash intermingled with oak and lime. The line where the trees began stood back from the tower by about ten metres. mixed with the 167 . Magnus understood this and went over and put Alex’s suitcase down on the bed. Light patterned curtains were pulled back from these. He then wheeled to the other side of the tower. “The curtains are well lined so if you let them down. flickered and brushed through the other two. From some parts of the garden. “See you in about an hour and a half. “I suggest you have a nap now. this chair’s so comfortable. Before settling down.slits. The trees that lay between the tower and the parkland that surrounded the grounds were more exotic. so you may be sleeping quite a bit in the day.” Magnus told him. Alex wheeled over to look out of one of the windows. He was overwhelmed and had little to say.” Alex had finally drawn his attention away from the new chair to take in the nature of this second room in his new home. They were largely deciduous. That won’t often be the case so we’ll take advantage of that for you to do some reconnoitring of the area.” Magnus smiled at his pleasure. The drive wound slightly as it entered the woodland on it’s way to the tower. He wheeled over to the window that faced back towards the house. The late afternoon sunlight streamed in one window and dappled reflected light from the tall trees outside.” he said as he began his way down the stair.

.....” Fred had spent the intervening fifteen minutes assembling the wing suit. A stiff breeze was singing in the tree tops.. Magnus had come up with Fred to wake Alex in the late afternoon........ Alex had a brief cup of tea with Magnus and then pulled himself onto the pole..... Not needing to unstrap himself because of the reclining design.. He had the wingsuit in mantel mode with the wing tips almost reaching the parapet walls.” “Mmm... whereas if it was fully exposed without the trees.white trunks of birch and the silver trunks of holly.. He could just glimpse the tops of Japanese maples and apples bordering the park itself..... that it was much better for Alex to eat some hours before flying for optimum performance.. Alex loved trees and would often wheel his chair underneath them and just lie back and look up......... Alex had only imagined what the roof deck would be like but his expectations were more than met. soon into the training exercises earlier in the year.... It’ll make a lot of difference in landing too I guess. He remembered the sight of them from above as he had passed above their tops in his recent flight in the Salisbury plain. . He pulled the chair back and wheeled over to the large bed. The box when opened...... Sleep began to catch up with him as he looked out.. “but the trees have the effect of disrupting the wind so even though there is quite a breeze ten metres up. I would have to be really careful. he just crossed his arm over and rolled into the pulled back quilt.... here on the deck it’s relatively stable.... 168 .. The pines made a sizzling sound and the broad leaves the sound of rushing water.. Fred had gone up the stairs and opened the hatchway whilst Alex got himself ready..... “Obviously we didn’t design it this way on purpose. It had been noticed. To this end... commented as he came over from finishing his set up. broke into two pieces so it could be stowed away and not interfere with the takeoffs and landings... As promised. The centre arched up waiting invitingly for Alex.” Fred. “We’ve padded the parapet because we wanted to give you lots of leeway for inaccuracy when landing....... “I could take off with ease here..” said Magnus....” Alex agreed. It folded into a box to one side of the platform......

We’ll stay in radio contact. It rises up about two metres above the rest of the platform. It’s pretty straight forward. thanks Fred. He was determined to take nothing for granted however.” laughed Alex. another feature. “I’m glad you told me otherwise I would have been bracing myself when I pushed the button. This would become a habit that he never missed. Five more strokes and he skimmed over the tree tops and out into the full brunt of the breeze. The central stage rises slowly.” “Well. Anything else I need to know?” “I don’t think so Alex. The wind caught them and lifted him up and back.” “Well I wondered. then he pushed the button. The stage will wait ten seconds and then lower itself. when you’re absolutely ready. Just in case you thought we had invented a sling shot device for you.” Alex liked the casual style.” rejoined Fred. you can do so within twenty seconds of pushing the button. even though held in the down position. You should be okay. as long as you’re not disappointed. The wings still cleared the parapet. It was the launch of an intense period of flying practice and training which would fill his flight logbook 169 . Alex kept in mantel mode as the disc began to rise. we’ll just be down stairs over a cuppa. He thoroughly checked the wingsuit personally before hoisting himself up to clip in the jacket. That means if you need to abort the flight soon after takeoff. By the way. He took a deep breath and with a mighty pull he drew the wings up to click into position. If you come in to land and you don’t see us. He shrugged at Fred who had aligned the wing just about right. lying there. “Oh yes. Give us a call and we’ll be straight up. The stiff air current hit into his well formed air foil and soon he was a vanishing speck to the two men watching from below. push the second button and then fly. He wet a finger and held it up for wind direction. It showed that they trusted him and were confident in the system. You’ve studied the one to ten thou’ local ordinance survey for long enough. He pulled twice more and cleared the parapet. Alex pushed the button and dropped the remote onto the platform. The wind began testing the light tensile material.“You won’t have seen it yet but the centre part rises up if you push a button on that remote on the end of that wire. This wasn’t just the launch of one flight for Alex.” “Okay. It would be dangerous for you to try to land on the raised stage. That gives you nearly a metres clearance of the parapet and you’ve got another five metres in height to clear the trees but the nearest of those is about ten metres.

.. She would normally be up and about.. He was very concerned to see her still in bed looking so lacklustre. They pulled the door shut behind them.....” Darius’s wife looked trustingly up at him.. Here is Marella with a wheelchair......“but there are too many factors to change things now.. He was dead. unseen behind the door.. I feel so awful.. her devotion to him was absolute and there was no question of protest. The concern was obvious in his voice........... . my darling. The young woman was nearly unconscious as they wheeled her out of the room... my darling?” he asked.. Darius and Marella got her dressed and into the chair.with several hundred hours by the time he had completed the year from when he had first been approached by Magnus at the paralympic trails.” she paused for breath.. The journey itself will be restful. Her beautiful face was very pale and wan and her normally bright eyes were unfocussed and obviously in pain.. nearly retching... Even if it hadn’t been in her training.... even if they weren’t setting out on a long journey...... “Oh Darius... The cat was lying down.. My stomach feels as though there is a huge stone in it........ let me help you.. I’m sorry......... Darius looked down at his wife..” replied the big man. She did not look well at all... Come...... “Are you all right.....“Do we have to go today?” “I really wish we could delay it........ 170 ..

” “Aunt Mary.” “I told you Aunt Mary. I came by taxi from the station. I had just thought that I would phone the desk at ISD on Monday morning and find out how I can contact you …and here you are. “You know. It was Alex. She had taken them earlier in the year whilst the branches of two tall angular forest beech trees were still bare of leaves. her nephew. and there’s new wheelchair by the front door. ISD are a leading state-of-the-art design firm and so I have to keep things very quiet. “Alex. but then her heart gave a little burst of joy. peering in through the glazed back door. “Hello! Hello! surprise. The rain had been blown in a single direction and she was fascinated by the dark staining that the water had made. you know I’m working on an important design project.Chapter 19 The Meeting It was Saturday lunchtime and Mary Speers was deeply engrossed in front of her easel. A large smile graced his face. “I knew your visit would come to an end sooner or later but I didn’t think it would be this soon. surprise. At first she looked up from her work reluctantly. how wonderful to see you. I was just thinking about you and wondering how you’re doing.” “Well they didn’t invent you. The dark staining contrasted against the shining silver of the dry bark on the extraordinarily convoluted thick branches which were twisting their way up into the forest canopy. Do you think you could bring it in for me… please?” 171 .” he called through the glass.” she enthused as she opened the door for him to wheel himself in. You’re not a secret you know!” she admonished him half heartedly. There were three snapshots in front of her that she was using as the basis for her painting. Her attention was on the addition of a tiny flick of silver with her brush when something caught her eye. my goodness.

things that help people?” “I can’t really say Aunt Mary. here’s a chin rest that folds up so I don’t have to hold my head when I’m reading. I would have come to pick you up.“A taxi? Gosh they must be paying you well. stop it. Then I can put it down again when I’m having a conversation or wheeling around. She knew of her own brother’s sense of guilt about his son’s condition. what a beautiful thing!” she exclaimed.” Alex told her excitedly. It’s such a competitive field.conscious.” She was speaking over her shoulder as she walked to the front door.” he folded down a small tray. my boss at ISD. I don’t have to be strapped in. you’re not working in the defence industry are you …making things to kill people. genuinely surprised. They’re used to seeing people sitting down and that is just what I look like in the old chair.” Alex slid himself forward onto the new chair. Alex. he had it designed for me. “Not only is it is tailored to my size but it is designed for my condition from first principles. here. I can tilt it up to 80 degrees. “Because I lean slightly forward. “Oh Alex.” “Well surely you can tell me that much. You should have called. There’s a folding table to write on here.” 172 . I have one at my place and I would like to leave this one here in case I get the chance to pay you a flying visit sometime. as he would love to tell his aunt and uncle about his new abilities. He knew however that for the time being. it’s so wonderful. It is so much more comfortable and enabling than this adapted conventional chair. Would you like to see it?” Mary caught Alex’s enthusiasm as she unfolded the lightweight elegant devise with interest. “I see what you mean about the design! Can I see you in it?” “Sure Aunt mary. “I would like to use it all the time. The problem is that people look at me and it makes me self.” “Alex. I find it most comfortable about 70m to 75 degrees. Look. “and a folio to keep things in.” Alex enjoyed the pun. or down to 45 if I want to have a nap. No I’m not… it’s civilian aviation but I shouldn’t even tell you that much. “Magnus. Is that the sort of thing that you’re designing at ISD.” “Aunt Mary. She opened it and lifted in the chair. ‘flying visit’ comments were about as close as he could get to telling them. It wasn’t a logical feeling but she delighted in anything that eased what she saw as the burden that he carried.

It’s only a block away. as long as you hold them to commitment to sponsor you at University next year.” She sighed and hung up. See you when I do … … Bye. guess who’s here … … No. “He says he can make his own way … … Okay. don’t stay out too long.” “Yeah. I’ve been self-catering. “Of course I can look after myself. His Mother turned back to the phone. that’s just reminded me. There was a ‘phone message from Brian the day before yesterday. Alex? I didn’t think you could. you’ll buy some in the pub … … Okay.” replied Alex. “I guess you got the gist of that?” “Yup. I’m sure anything you do will be an improvement. Mary Speers. He’s been working very hard at the paralympic trials and has a big race next Saturday. well suit yourself. I need the exercise” Alex replied resignedly. are you sure you don’t want him to drive by and pick you up?” “No. Alex …Oh.” “How fascinating.” He stopped himself short there. You should have let me know you were coming …” “Aunt Mary. he says he’ll make his own way … … Well he seems to know what he’s capable of … … Okay I’ll ask … Alex.I was so thrilled to see you .” “I won’t have to Aunt mary. speaking … … Oh hello darling. I’ll have some sandwiches waiting for you … … What. it’s your nephew. great! Tell him I’ll make my own way. “Oh Alex. I had completely forgotten . silly.” “I’m not a cripple!” He could feel the irritation rising in him. darling? … … About ten minutes … … Okay.“Okay. Just then the phone rang.” “Self-catering. I was at the Imperial College 4. I’ve got lots to do here.5 metre wind tunnel a couple of months ago and met some of the people there. They’re already laying the groundwork for that. His mother went to answer it. He’s asked if you’d like to meet him at the Bakers Arms. How long will he be?” “Lou. they’re a good crowd. He was hoping that you’d be there. what with your condition. ‘in fact you’d be shocked!’ He finished the thought in his own mind. how long will you be. “Hello.can I make you lunch? I haven’t got much in. His 173 . he’s just driving home from the golf course. he’s just dropped by … … Yes I’m sure he would … … I’ll just ask him … Alex it’s your uncle. You’d be very surprised at what I can do now.

giving him that extra effort to finish a clear half wheel ahead. I’ll give him a bell now.. 174 . He telephoned Brian and had to curtail the conversation till later or he would have missed his lunch date.... the thought of a challenge seemed to pull a supernatural energy out of the blue and he would always end up that little bit in front. I’m really going to try and make it.... That’s the other reason I was going to call you on Monday. This was the last stretch and Alex felt his heart in his throat. Ahead of Brian! Ahead of his best friend and fellow sufferer at the hands of the great Jonathan Cox! It was happening again! Even though Jonathan didn’t need spurring....... Alex was sitting on the long straight at the end of which was the finish line. They had already been around three times eating up a thousand metres of the race with every lap.. “Go Brian! Go! Go! Go!” he shouted down line as the pair shot towards him.. There was only one other racing-chair in front of him..... Alex’s former coach.. Brian had pulled out to the outside as they entered the straight.. It would work well for Magnus..... ‘That would be Jonathan...” Alex was really happy to be back amongst his family and friends for a couple of days....... . Jonathan sensed the challenge.’ thought Alex recognising the colour of the shirt and the style of wheeling well before they were close enough for him to discern individual faces..” “Oh! That’s great news.. A telephone call made to Magnus confirmed that arrangements could be made for a visit to the paralympic race trials. It was almost as if there was an invisible bow wave in front of his opponent which pushed on his back.number is by the phone... They owe me tons of holidays... as he had some sponsorship business to complete with Martin................ I would really like to see him and see that race. Alex felt a twang of resentment at the sight of him surging ahead............... even if his uncle did still think that he couldn’t make it on his own. He was doing very well in fact. He was secretly thrilled that his Uncle Lou wanted to go out with him to a pub..... Alex knew that even if Jonathan didn’t sense any challenge he would be going full out even if it was just him on his own.. He always just had to push on that precious record of his.... Brian was doing well as the pack came round the corner..

It had been Magnus in that very place exactly a year ago. He thought about the last time he had been in the air. It had only been twelve hours before. be suddenly became aware of two things. ‘the going down to the pub bit.“Take him Brian! You can do it!” The pair flashed by in a blur. the long hours of training and the sharing of aspiration and disappointment. Alex could hardly see who was in front. It formed the long stretch before the sharp left corner. ‘Jonathan couldn’t touch me when I’m on the wing. The last bit of straight was also the first length where the race began.’ He could see Brian surrounded by his friends.’ he thought.’ he thought to himself. I wouldn’t feel the need to compete in that way again. He would wait a bit and see his friend when the attentions of the others had worn off. They boost you up and tell you how well you’ve done. That was bad enough. In his imagination. He didn’t have to look as well. ‘Well. Alex was both glad and sad that he was out of it. the rest of the pack streaked by! They were all so close. the times in the bars and pubs afterwards. He missed the camaraderie. There were quite a few that he didn’t recognise. That was the gut wrenching time he remembered. he could see Cox holding his arm high as he coasted down the last bit of straight. That was how long he had been away. They were going so fast that the sound of their wheels dropped to a lower note as they passed. you’re surrounded by friends and supporters. I can still do. He knew that … It was everything! He heard the cheers down the stretch. ‘and somehow even if we were all flying. One was a cold wet nose that had gently touched his left hand. part of the ‘S’ bends where all the jockeying for place really happened. Memories flooded back to him. they all deserved to win. That was when he began the journey to realise that excellence was about fulfilling your dreams and not about beating another. the excitement. but he would not miss the knowing that he would always be second best. There was a lot he would miss. The elements themselves are enough to contend with.’ He remembered the voice well. What was three seconds in five minutes anyway? … It was everything. The other was that he 175 .’ Whilst lost in these thoughts. you lose. Almost the instant that they were gone. Then ten or fifteen minutes later you are left on your own …alone with the stark truth …you weren’t quite good enough …again! ‘It’s all horses for courses.

Alex had never had much success with members of the opposite sex. He looked away. He looked down and with a shock. “No.” The gentle voice soothed him out of his reverie. She really had legs! She wasn’t all that tall but her legs were lovely and the way she had of standing was reminiscent of an athlete.’ He said out loud.” “I would have thought that lightness was an advantage.” He felt the quip come out even before he had time to think. She appeared to be his own age if not a bit younger. She had legs too. He tried to get his thoughts to return back to the race where they had been less than a minute before. He suddenly realised that her violet eyes were not looking directly at him. but ultimately I am too light.” he had once thought ruefully. ‘Even Plato had more of a love life then I do. As the door to longing began to open. “No. some perhaps felt sorry for him and others were also members of the wheelchair racing group. they seemed unfocussed on an area just in front of him. I used to. Alex dared to looked up at her. he would simply turn away. Alex could feel an enthralment with her begin to burn in his heart. It was her dog who had touched his nose to his hand. ‘Gosh. “My dog seems to like your after-shave. He had long ago learned how to avoid that hurt. He had gone through that door enough times to know what it was like to yearn for someone who was hardly aware of his existence. I think it more likely that he likes my ‘eau de hot dog’. He had come to the conclusion that his obvious disability was just too much of a barrier for any kind of relationship beyond the platonic. Large and beautiful as they were. He had made a few female friends. He looked up to see one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen standing right beside him.had virtually squashed his hot dog in his right fist during the excitement of the race. ‘she’s actually interested in me.” she asked. saw that the dog was a guide-dog and that she was holding his harness with her left hand pulled by the dog across in front of her.” she almost bantered back. “You’ve got him sussed already. I actually got on quite well. “Do you race?” the young woman asked him. This was just as well. The 176 . most were girls looking for interesting male companionship rather than a relationship. a slight hesitation in her voice.’ Alex thought to himself.

’ He felt her looking at him quizzically. “I haven’t got any legs.” 177 . It was to do with the realisation that she was interested in him because she couldn’t see his disability. She seemed puzzled and he was aware of this.” He watched closely. “I’m Canadian.” he slowed his voice … “I mean. “Oh … I didn’t realise … but surely if it is a wheelchair race …” Her voice tailed off.” He was looking for words that would make her feel easy about him.disappointment he felt wasn’t at all to do with her being blind.’ he thought. I was doing it just for the sake of being with my friends …” He so wanted to tell her about his new life “And then I found …” He had to stop himself outright. releived that she had changed the subject for him. “What I mean is that there is no category in which I could fairly compete. my body tends to fall forward as I finish the sweep …” He paused and she nodded slightly “ … I have to be strapped in … This works but it hinders me from excelling. This hurt the more because she had shown him what it was like to have a young woman show interest. “My father was born here and emigrated to Toronto when he was in his late teens. ‘never mind wheels. “Actually you couldn’t know. what he finished with was. a bit like a Duckbilled Platypus. “I hadn’t noticed. He could see that he had shocked her. “You don’t sound English. “I’m sorry …” he faltered. to not make her feel sorry for him or on the other hand. She seemed a bit flustered.” she said. just a pelvis … As I push on the wheels with my arms. “What I mean is you would have had to have had the experience.’ Instead. “I have no legs at all.” He felt awkward. embarrassed. He was about to tell her and he knew that he just couldn’t. There was an awkward moment. ‘I might as well put her straight. as much a question as a statement.” he answered her softly. I can fly so high that I can almost see the curvature of the earth.” He really wanted her to know something about himself. ‘more like lame-duck platitudes.” Alex paused. “I’m sui generis! That means I am in a genre of which I am the only example.” ‘Oh that sounded lame’ he thought to himself. What he really wanted to say was.

“Yes. “Yes.” Alex stopped himself again. Rusty responded and pushed his mussel into Alex’s side. But I have been blind since birth …” It was as if she felt the need to tell a bit more. all the while thinking to himself. “No. picking up on her unintentional lead.’ was the way she put it. but only because I like eau de hot dog.” “Me too.” he said. and of course you have the dog as well.” she replied smiling lightly.” “What? Do you mean you can hear where I am?” he asked. I was staying with my aunt and uncle… She’s my father’s sister. if that doesn’t sound too intrusive. this is Rusty. will you introduce me to your mistress?” He said in a sincere manner to the dog. “Yes. “Oh.“And you’ve come back…” The young woman finished for him.” She bent down to ruffle the animal’s head. ‘We found that we were unexpectedly expecting. I guess I have. “Funny you should ask” he replied. If he was not careful he would soon find himself telling her about the citadel and then she would want to know what it was for…” “Were you in an accident?” she asked. “I’m not totally blind… I’m told that what I see is like what others see on a moonless night … It’s sunny now and I’m aware of where you are but I have so many other ways of ‘seeing’ you. I have quite a good sense of smell too. they wanted me very much and I have an older sister. “Gosh! Nothing bad I hope?” he said.” she replied. Livvy seemed to be musing on something. “People breath and are constantly moving around in small ways that I can hear. ‘Gosh this is really going somewhere!’ 178 . “I mean. I wasn’t an accident.” She replied. her question again saving him from a dilemma. I’m Alex Rogers. He felt the cold wet nose on his hand again. “ my mom told me that my coming along was an accident. picking up on the dog’s search for attention .” The young woman giggled and Alex felt a warmth at the sound of her laughter. that’s right. “Hello Rusty. Alex joined her laughter.

there is. Livvy Johnson.” She laughed. “I swim regularly. seeming more at ease. “I need to know where up is. I guess. Underwater flying anyway. “Mmm. I banged my head on the end a little too often. “I would have thought walking without sight was quite a challenge.” she replied.” Livvy replied. “Not the best way to use your sense of touch.” Alex felt a jolt run through him at the mention of flying and especially of diving. “Why would you need a sense of balance to swim?” he asked. I’m looking for something to do with my friends. “No.” She kept her left hand on Rusty’s neck. In a pool that is.” “It is. There’s just me and my sense of balance. Alex! Rusty has so much better manners than I do! I’m Livvy. surprised that he hadn’t seen that. I want to find out how they do it.” “Oh.“Oh I’m sorry.” Alex was laughing too. Blind as she was.” She giggled again. Nothing else. I can dive and twist and turn.” Something that she had said. I’ve done so since I was a child. “What I really like to do is to swim underwater. I love it. I can stay down for quite a long time. she seemed to see right past his missing legs. He took it gently. It’s so beautiful down there.” Livvy seemed to pick up on his original question. of course. it’s certainly not. wondering how much he could say. “I also walk a lot. Alex.” 179 . twisting an turning. right into the depth of his being.” he responded. It’s almost like flying. That’s where the air is.” Alex was impressed. I hear that there’s quite a lot for blind people here running great races. “there must be a wonderful sense of freedom in flying.” “Yes.” he replied. but I would like to do something a bit more challenging. “I would have thought that you couldn’t fall over even if you tried. “I do that all the time. and reached out her right hand to him in a formal manner. I have to be accompanied in the sea. “I guess like you said. I wouldn’t know any other kind of course. I’m not so keen on swimming lengths though. He enjoyed her humour. tweaked his curiosity. I just never thought about it like that. He loved that too and really wanted to talk to her about it. “Do you do any sports?” Alex asked her.

“I thought they might be using some other sense. “Oh just processing data. but I hear that there are a couple of world class.” he answered. that’s really interesting. “Well I’ve seen visually impaired people play football with a ball that sings. yet he hadn’t fully worked out a job description that he could tell people. “But I’ll also be spending a lot of time in London with my job.” “Its all right.“Yeah.” said Livvy. “sounds more glamorous than it is. I don’t know why I asked that. blind runners here today. “my doctor tells me that I have two femoral arteries with nothing much to do.” ‘Wow did she really ask that.’ Alex thought to himself. thank you. so everything else is very well looked after. ‘She’s going to go.” “Wow! I could enjoy that. “I’m sorry. I guess their partners must be pretty fast too” “Oh. ‘or did I imagine it?’ He looked up at her and she had blushed a subtle shade of red.” “Oh …what do you do?” she asked. “I’ve taken a year out as a researcher in a technology development company. He couldn’t say what he did. ‘Oh no!’ Alex thought to himself. pre-empting his despair. I think they use a sighted partner. 180 . What sort of research are you involved in?” Alex was flummoxed by the question. “I have been living somewhat south of here in the Cotswolds. and here he was again. she changed tack. I am hoping they might help sponsor me through my physics degree next year. “he laughed. I’ve seen that off in the distance.” “Oh…” replied Alex.” “Gosh.” Almost as if she sensed that he was in a dilemma.” he replied. perhaps rather recklessly.’ “Have you travelled far?” she asked. I’ve generally been a bit preoccupied with my own sport. There was one of those awkward silences where both parties suddenly seem to run out of things to say. Then she giggled nervously. He had floundered around with his mother’s questioning.” replied Livvy. finally. pleased she had stayed with him. I must find something to say. “Is it just your legs your missing?” she asked.

. “Alex we must be going.. The plane remained where it was as the other occupants would have to enter quarantine. “Livvy............... Within minutes they were carrying a stretcher from the plane to the ambulance... Livvy.............. “Hello.. It stood on the runway for a few minutes and the pilot could be seen through the cockpt window negotiating over the radio... She was unable to disguise the note of disappointment from Alex’s hearing as Magnus took him further into the crowd....” Livvy responded in a measured way.” he said. When the jet did begin to move forward.. you too Alex.. He just wanted to be with her but something insistent in Magnus curtailed any further interchange with her... It landed with a professional smoothness and then slowed to a standstil.... A hour later an ambulance approached and two figures wearing full protective clothing got out and went into the plane.” nodded Magnus over his shoulder...... Alex really wanted the conversation to go on. ...” Livvy’s voice trailed after them.. “Yeah. “Bye now.... 181 . The shape of the small private jet seemed to bob and jiggle through the intense desert heat-haze as the craft approached the runway....... how he could see her again. this is Magnus.... introducing her with impending reluctance...” acknowledged Magnus curtly. where she lived......” “Hello Magnus. it turned away from the terminal and taxied over to a remote corner of the runway..........A movement caught Alex’s eye and he turned to see Magnus almost upon them... “Really nice to meet you Livvy....” was all that Alex could manage as Magnus began to wheel him away.. he wanted to know more about her.

He said that they had to be going. I’ve just met the most extraordinary person. “Can you point him out to me?” “I don’t know.” She felt Judith taking in her aura. and it stayed with her as she began to walk off. He was one of the wheelchair racers.’ she thought to herself. She had really enjoyed his company. “Yes. but it definitely means something!’ She turned and went the hundred metres or so to where she knew Judith would be. Their time together had potential and meaning and had been primarily brought to an end by the arrival of the older man.an older man .” she answered a bit uncertainly. A friend of his . I think it is. identical in nature to the atmosphere which had surrounded him when they were together. her aura unmistakable amongst the less substantial presence of the other people around her. Judith felt her approach and turned to her. “Livvy. ‘This means something. A definite wisp of rose-coloured substance. It was then that she noticed a very strange thing. ‘I don’t know what. I suppose if we went up on the rise just 182 . “Is that part of his aura you’re carrying with you?” Livvy felt embarrassed even though she had no control over the attached auric substance. Well …he used to be but he’s doing something else now.came and wheeled him away. Judith. Suddenly she felt content. There she was. “Judith.Chapter 20 An Aura in the Sky Livvy felt empty as she watched Alex disappear into the crowd. just to her right. I don’t know why but I feel the strongest attraction for him. Her interest was so intense that Livvy felt naked. accompanied by Magnus. Part of Alex’s aura was still with her! It was there.” Judith asked.

“Good. After the conversation with Alex and the subsequent experience with Judith. if that bit you’re carrying around with you is anything to go by. Livvy directed her attention back towards Alex for a brief moment. She was quietly observing the distant pair. but as 183 . it was hard to tell over the hundred metres or so that separated them. “I’ve been aware of his aura many times. Twenty minutes later they boarded their train. These flowed through and by each other as the crowds either participated in or watched the spectacle of the various events. The car park was on the other side of a tall fence at the bottom of the rise that they were now standing on. “Alex is standing up to that pushy man. The two made their way to the exit and asked someone at the gate to hail them a taxi to get them to the station. I thought I recognised it when I perceived that wisp of it clinging to you. Apart from a faint haze given off by the rather parched grass that lay on the surface. She followed Judith down the slope. It appeared from that distance as though Magnus had stopped and was standing in front of Alex. There’s a train in twenty minutes and we could just make it if we left now. It was his aura that you found so intriguing.” Judith didn’t answer.” Judith took Livvy’s arm and the two of them climbed the small rise that was just behind them. but both he and Magnus had moved on. the only things that registered with Judith and Livvy’s perceptions was a sea formed from the moving auras of people.here. Livvy. Their carriage was crowded at first.” said Livvy for Judith’s benefit. No wonder you were attracted to him. The strong rose-colour of Alex’s aura stood out strongly from the others in the car park. she was no longer in a frame of mind to give her attention to the rest of the races. Again.” she finally said. but it would appear from the atmospherics going on that they were having a bit of an argument. Livvy.” “I’ll say. It was very distinctive and strong. “I know him.” Livvy readily agreed. Alex and Magnus would have had to go out through the main entrance and then come back towards the car park.” Judith turned to go back down the hill. we might just catch awareness of his aura in the car park. It is a very rare and distinctive aura. I really haven’t come upon anything quite like it for many a year. “I think it’s time for us to go too.

” She was giving her full attention to Livvy.” Livvy’s aura was even more attentive. …most nights for the last three months or so. “Well at this time of year. “What? You mean to tell me that you’ve perceived him somewhere every night?” “Well. sensing Judith’s puzzlement. All compressed into the area of your thumb. Livvy had never seen Judith be hesitant like this. They are very strong but intensely focussed auras. Judith?” She was getting impatient but daren’t press her any more than that. I often go out and meditate on the Andromeda Galaxy. awed as she was by Judith’s almost stern presence.” “But when.” Livvy put her arm gently and affectionately on Judith’s. you begin to be aware of their auras too.” Livvy was electrified. not him of course …but his aura. If she did feel Livvy was ready. people got off and it became sufficiently empty for them to have a private conversation. I have never been so conscious of so much life as I have there. Judith was usually either forthcoming on a subject or didn’t mention it at all. “Judith? You said that you had been aware of Alex many times before. “Well dear. “Well I’ve gone out every night for as long as I can remember. “Oh. The aura of trillions and trillions of living beings all perceived in one place at one time. as long as the stars are out. They have no dimensional size at all. I never tire of it. my dear. I’m trying to make sense of it myself. Livvy. “When you begin to see the stars with your heart. So beautiful.” Livvy squeezed her arm. Judith?” She felt as though she was trying to get water out of a stone.the train stopped at various stations along the line.” “Where. but I don’t think I can … So.” Livvy waited patiently for Judith to get to the point. “You go off running and I wait for you. then she had a very simple and straight forward way of expressing herself. Their two atmospheres were entwined in a deep mutual interest. 184 . I’ll just tell you what I know. “You know when we go out of an evening …” Livvy nodded. You have to become aware of them with a different level of your being. You can’t miss it. Did you mean metaphorically or actually?” “Actually. She would also speak plainly if there was something that she felt Livvy wasn’t ready for. It was a gesture that she didn’t often do.

.. The next night.” Judith confirmed. I know them all so well. Rusty was sitting pressed up against Livvy’s legs..” Judith whispered. it didn’t sound so absurd. All that Livvy was aware of was darkness...... “Every night that I’ve been out there I’ve become aware of him a least once.. Livvy was gently pressing against her for warmth and closeness of perspective.. Livvy.. When I began to perceive faint vestiges of them …I mean I 185 .... slightly shorter and smaller in build was standing in front of her. Now that she had said it.....” .. hedgerows and trees of the Cotswold edge.. I have lain on them.. “Of course I will.. that’s right... They soon pulled into their station. You can come out tonight if you like... “I think the thing is that you love the living things on our planet so much that you can feel them with your heart and they show up in your visual cortex. If she looked up …there was nothing there... He was moving very fast but I still didn’t hear a sound.. touched them and listened to them since I was a child.. breathed them in.“Well Livvy …I’ve seen him …I’ve seen him up there …” When Judith’s meaning finally struck home. “My hearing is still very acute.” Livvy sat quietly beside Judith. “Yes Livvy...... Judith. the stars were full out. But he has some means of getting up there and he does it completely silently... If she looked down.. “You’ve seen him up there? Amongst the stars?” she repeated slowly back to Judith..... Judith had one hand on her shoulder and was pointing into the heavens....” Livvy nodded her agreement........ He once flew over me. “Will you take me?” Livvy asked as the two of them got up from their seats. filled the perception of her heart with a shimmering tapestry of hues.. Judith was standing directing her attention upward and Livvy.. The only thing I might say is that I perhaps caught the same faint sizzle of air that you hear when a bird flies over.. It stunned her because nothing could undermine her confidence in Judith’s sanity. the dew soaked grasses. quite closely in fact.. “I think you’re looking as if your expecting there to be trees and swards of moss in the sky... I’m not saying that he’s among the stars literally.. patterns and textures.” She paused as if remembering..... “Yes.. it stunned Livvy........

” “I’m sure you will. very near the centre in fact.” Judith pointed south.it is huge. you can’t feel them with your heart. I was very aware of the aura of the tree. I just sank or rose or went deeper or however you want to put it. “So there I was bathed in the sunlight. I guess I must have actually become that part because as I did so …there was the aura and the living atmosphere of the Sun all around me. once you begin to perceive the aura of the Sun. I don’t know if I’m saying anything to you Livvy. then it’s a short step to becoming aware of all the other suns that there are in the sky. Livvy. The thing is. Anyway. This one was very old and had even developed an atmosphere as well …you know. but my first memory was lying in the warm sunshine one summer day. It wasn’t a thought out thing for me at the time and it isn’t really now. Livvy focussed her attention but the sky remained a blank for her. It’s your natural reflexes that make you look away. and at the same time I could feel the tree itself loving being bathed in the sunlight too. It was huge. we’re in the thick of it. We all have such a strong heart felt love for the Sun. that must have been wonderful! I would love to experience that. when … I became aware of another more refined part of myself.which I wasn’t of course at the time . I guess I was about twenty-five. If you begin to sense the aura of the Sun. With the little bit that you can see. The Sun was high above me. We’re actually inside the sun. well …it extends right out beyond the planets and right here. like a person does. the Sun appears as a sharply defined white disc. Livvy. where we are.didn’t know how I was doing it at the time … I was maybe about eight or ten …then my interest deepened even more” “And it’s my guess that you have no connection with the stars so even though they are made of the same stuff. loving it. The next thing that I saw in the process of awakening. That’s how it started for me” “Gosh Judith. I had my back to a very special tree. It’s all heart felt. I suppose you’re like me.” “Didn’t you have the same problem when you were my age? How did you make the connection?” “It happened gradually. I mean if you think about it . I guess sunlight is like food for a tree. Just give it time. It is only the part that’s visible to sighted people that appears over there. and of course I would never look directly at it. was over there. 186 .

Judith. didn’t need her to point at all. gone. some day it will just come to you. Right in the middle there is the centre of our Galaxy.” Livvy whispered back. The movements of the moths made more sense than a sighted person would see. it is Alex! …I’m sure of it … How on earth …?” She never finished her sentence. it was best left unfinished. It then shimmered down in a dive to merge with the distant auric spiralling shapes of a row of Corsican pines on the horizon. all covered in dense dust or something. as their auras inter-played and danced with those of the grass. Livvy. Indeed. She wasn’t aware of the stars. seemed to turn a somersault and shimmer with recognition. who had been looking up at the living essence of the stars. Judith. That was it. “There he is. “Gosh.” “I’m trying but it just doesn’t seem to be happening for me. “Don’t worry. It then passed overhead before appearing to descend towards the northern horizon. Rusty walked alongside Livvy. She stood in awe as the pale but distinct glow seemed to climb the sky as it approached. Suddenly it dipped and seemed to wheel to the east. were playing within this ‘watery’ covering as bright sparks of iridescence as they lived out their lives in a couple of days. Various species of moth. The swirl of rose-colour that had remained with her. but the aura of it is absolutely gorgeous. They were left with just the silence and 187 . Visually.” The two separated enough to be able to walk side by side over the undulating glowing ‘waters’ of the dew soaked grass. so I’m told it is just a dull blur.” She pointed. They strolled as assuredly on the living patterns as anyone else would have over the soft grass in full daylight. suddenly turned towards her left. Occasionally a bat would flutter overhead as green to Livvy and Judith as a kingfisher on a bright sunny morning. at midnight … Sagittarius is due south of us. clinging to her own aura. but the bright rose-coloured form seemed to smear itself across the visionary canopy of the sky to the south-east. the aura danced high around their ankles and some tongues of it swirled as high as half way up to their knees and it was tickling Rusty’s hairy underside. Although the grass itself was not much more than 5 to 10 cm deep at that time of year and slightly parched at that. his harness resting on his back.“At this time of year … the summer solstice.

the stillness of the night. Livvy’s ears picking up a faint singing of wind on finely tuned fabric. The rose-coloured shimmer was still excited. the sky seemed to fill with tiny pin pricks of the most exquisite diamond and sapphire sparks. there’ll be no-one to help you for hours. “Yes. if you fall. as if disturbed by some movement. they still seemed to spiral out and in on themselves in an unheard symphony of a million notes. they made a soft dry cover over the damp springy grass for them to lie down on. Livvy looked down at her own aura.” “I’ve been doing this for months Judith. Livvy thought that she must have drifted off. The ‘kingfisher’ auras of the bats were all that moved in the vastness of the sky. are you awake?” Judith was gently touching her shoulder. I saw him …I’m going to follow. He then picked up speed to sing away to the north again. They each had a large shawl around their shoulders. It was then that . “Livvy. They also had another purpose which they now put them to. the ‘watery’ waving of the grass. the iridescent moths. for in her minds eye. A vast and invisible landscape seemed to channel these sparkling jewels into a wide and undulating river.” “You be very careful Livvy. It festooned itself from the south right overhead to the north. He climbed and wheeled again and then again rose to a still point before settling on a steady glide back to the south from whence he had first come. These were to keep them warm in the coolness of the night. She gently stroked his ear with her left hand.the glowing orb soared overhead. seeming to just skim through the auras which danced upon the tops of the trees. It was dancing a slow coiling movement. Rusty. It was into this reverie that the sudden streak broke the spell. She was still lying on her back facing the sky. Minute as they were. much more alive than it had been ever since she had acquired it two days before. half off her shawl with his nose resting on her waist. Besides I have Rusty with me” Rusty was already poised to move ahead several metres in 188 . Rusty lay next to Livvy. Laying them out on the ground. They each had a small backpack that they used as head rests as they settled down for a short break before deciding what to do.coming up from below the edge of the escarpment . sat up and whined ever so gently under his breath. She raised herself up onto her elbows and watched in astonishment as he reached a still point above her before tipped over to the right. I won’t do anything rash.

then half an hour. leapt up. Now. Occasionally. Livvy would call gently to her guiding companion and climb to the high point to observe what was ahead. He had reached the point of almost losing them when.the one that had become attached to his mistress . Just as a blood hound could pick up a scent and follow it. dips or wheels. he turned and wheeled in a few large lazy circles. left here. she could read through his movements. This gave 189 . so too had he made the connection between the attendant swirl of Alex’s aura . or if she could make out the outline of glowing moss on a dry stone wall. non organic obstacles scattered amongst the ‘watery’ glowing cover that the grasses and mosses leant to the ground. In this way. She in turn would follow his aura which tailed back behind him. that this beckoning aspect of his aura had evolved over the period of their running like this together. bracken and bushes created a shimmering tapestry landscape before her of hills and dells. Alex seemed to be settling to a steady flight path. Rusty’s path-finding had developed a new instinct.and the identically coloured glow soaring overhead. turning slightly there. Twenty minutes passed. The pleasure of doing it had been purpose enough on it’s own. He would follow a path that he knew she could pass over without catching her toe on a high root or protruding stone. both on the ground ahead and on her steps behind. if they neared a high piece of ground. that a purpose for them doing so would have come so soon. the unseeable. They sailed across the grass and moss covered stones in the manner that they had been practising. the deep yearning to follow the receding glow in the dark vault above. would choose their intended path over this magical glistening terrain before setting out at a pace again in their pursuit of the soaring orb of rose-coloured light in the sky ahead of them. and was soon gliding after him. Just a steady movement ahead of them.Alex’s direction. Livvy. gave her a profound focus as they fairly flew over the terrain. bedecked with jewelled nesting birds and large insects. She had not realised when they started three months ago. then. through subtle dodges. The two in silent communion. There were no more dives. It was an extension of what he had learned with the harness that now bounced unheld on his back. So precisely dual-focussed was his intent. of streams cutting through the fields and of snaking moss covered walls and lively hedgerows. He was gaining on them steadily but not very fast. almost as if unwittingly beckoning them on. beckoning her on. The living cloth of grass.

’ spoke the quiet mechanical voice. She recognised it instantly. for she was certain that it was him. despite knowing that the time to do it had come. Livvy could sense the beautiful presence of a tall neatly pruned hedgerow on the other side of the road. such was his joy in the flight. perhaps he had found a fading thermal left over from the previous day. Alex. Behind it was a magnificent collage of what Livvy knew to be the auras of trees which had been nurtured and cultivated for many decades by the gentle. or perhaps he was just reluctant to finish his journey. was to find out where it was that they now were. It was a milk float.them some time to catch up with him. They kept on apace even as he receded again into the distance.’ Livvy knew that she could rely on Rusty to get her back home. As they closed in on him. doing the morning rounds. ‘Gosh. she was aware of the colourful presence of Alex. Also behind it. Whatever the reason was that he did it. ‘At our pace that could be as much as eight kilometres from where Judith is. he again began to wheel in large circles. that they could probably return almost as fast as they had come. They slowed as they approached the road. Then. Could she find her way back here again? Would Rusty understand a command to lead her back here? What would she do when she got here? All of these thoughts were moving through her mind when suddenly. Her dilemma however. Just as they reached a point underneath him. just before disappearing over the horizon after a further twenty minutes. settle into a gentle drop as his colours merged and blended behind those of the hedge. she picked up a strange whining sound coming down the road. She and Rusty had found his home in the Cotswolds! Livvy pressed the button on the dial of her talking watch and held near to her ear.giving off that hollow tone that they do over distance in the countryside .’ she thought to herself. was still circling as if he was reluctant to land. she saw the circles get smaller and he began to descend. knowing hands of experienced gardeners. Perhaps he was resting. In fact her fitness was such. ‘Five oh six a m. A car . we’ve had been running for over fifty minutes.passed a hundred metres in front of them. his short dalliance gave them time to catch up. She heard it come around a bend in the road 190 . he straightened out and continued on again.

making note of the local geography. Turn left there and you’ll be going down the hill to Northton. Well!” he replied with emphasis. She reached down and picked up the harness lying on Rusty’s back.and stop by a gap in the radiance of the hedge. “You’re out early. and wasn’t that a blind dog’s harness? He shook his head as if to shake off an early morning fuzziness and continued on his way.” “Oh thank you so much! You’ve been so helpful. Just follow this road along f’r about two mile.” “Yes. Livvy for her part was happy indeed.” “Late. Could you please tell me where I am?” “Well.’ she thought to herself. The auric form of the milkman emerged and there was the clink of glass bottles.” Livvy turned Rusty in the direction that he had indicated.” “Oh yes. It’s about four and an ‘alf mile ‘n all. She nudged him slightly and they made their way over to where the milkman was just climbing back into his vehicle. rather …I’m afraid. They had appeared right out of the darkness. “Excuse me please. This was just the break she needed. Are we on the Northton Road here? That’s where I want to get back to. we’re just er quarter mile outside of Yeoverton on the Northton Road. puzzled as the two of them move off into the ruddy glow of the pre-dawn light. You’ll come to er junction.” “Oh. She now knew her way home and she now knew her way back. This be Yeoverton House. ‘That must be the door to the house. you certainly are then. miss. It’s er triangular green. 191 . The man watched. I’m a bit lost. with an oak tree in the middle.

Chapter 21 Caught Livvy and Rusty didn’t get back to Judith’s house until seven that morning. interlacing of his atmosphere that was even more appealing. For Livvy. They would then sleep-in until 9 ish before beginning their daily routine. She felt around and found a towel which was already in the clothes basket and rubbed him down whilst teasing out the burrs from his short-haired. If Livvy could have seen them. As she did so. ready for washing. flushed and cold. looking like that. The time taken in caring 192 . his big brown pleading eyes could have been ignored if she had hardened herself. It suddenly hit her just how cold and tired she was after her all-night adventure. Almost unconsciously she realised that this level of bonding between them would be very necessary in the times to come. Livvy had followed Judith into the habit of having an evening nap before setting off for a couple of hours in the hills every night. their auras interwove in a deeper way then ever before. Rusty followed her upstairs and she washed briefly at the sink before climbing under the warm eiderdown quilt on her bed. the previous night had been a different order of exposure and physical exertion altogether. As it was. “Oh come on then. She relented. She stripped her wet and muddy garments off down to her underclothes and loaded them into a basket.” she scolded. expectant and frightened. Judith had left the door unlatched for her so she was able to slip in without disturbing her revered friend and mentor. “No way can you come up and lie on my bed.” she said affectionately. she couldn’t see them but her attention was caught by a particular wan. all at the same time. She felt both exhilarated and tired. Rusty was wet and muddy and she could feel bits of bramble and burrs knitted into his coat. yellow coat.

..” “So. It can’t hurt can it?” “Well Livvy. On the other hand I would have to say that few and far between are those that can fly as he does. good! You’re back.... than meets the … well......” she croaked sleepily.... But I also know that you’re probably going to do it no matter what I say..... equally rare are those who can perceive the atmosphere that a person carries. dressed and had gone downstairs with Rusty at her heels. “Okay dear.. it was important for her to know that Livvy was back and for Livvy to know what time it now was. “Sorry.” “Oh Judith thanks... I would also have to say that there are very few who can run in the pitch dark as you can. they had a light meal together.” 193 .. For that matter.” When Livvy had got up...for Rusty. I don’t know why... I can’t quite put my finger on it..... had restored a balance in her atmosphere that sleep alone could not have done... I can’t say that I recommend doing that. … meets the auric perception...... her presence coming respectfully into Livvy’s room... what are you saying?” “I’m saying it feels risky. I just can’t help thinking that there is a far deeper purpose for both of you having these gifts...” Judith was quiet for a brief moment before continuing.... so … you might as well have my blessing..... “Ohhh …” Livvy was struggling to open her eyes from a deep sleep. “Ah... Livvy told the story of the previous night as they ate. These are the most extraordinary gifts that you both have..... dear. “We found him.... “What are you going to do now?” asked Judith..” Judith wasn’t really apologising.” “Mmmm… Did you now... but I did knock and it is eleven thirty. Well you get yourself up and have some brunch and we’ll talk about it.... “What would you suggest?” “What does your heart tell you?” “To just simply go up and knock on the door and ask after him... who was now curled up on the floor beside her. “It took us ages. but we followed him to where he lives. as you can. ......” It was Judith.

She hadn’t really planned what to say. Again her expert fingers quickly found the bell push and she rang it... She expertly felt for the latch and opened it... Livvy reached Yeoverton House at about four o’clock that afternoon. Because it was the daytime and she didn’t want to present any extraordinary sights to anybody as well as wanting to remain presentably dressed. I don’t know what I’d say to your parents if anything happened to you.... “All I’m going to say Judith …is that I’m going out for a walk this afternoon. Livvy chose the conventional mode of getting around. It was some time before the door was answered..... She was pretty sure that it was the mention of Alex’s name that had shocked him.. and that I might be some time!” . But perhaps in the long term. holding onto Rusty’s harness all the way.... Would it be such a lie?” Judith laughed.. miss.. walked up to the gap in the hedge where the milkman had left the milk that morning..” “That would be a lie dear.. “Excuse me please....” “Well …they know how stubborn I am.....” 194 . She kept to the road.. “Oh............ There’s nobody of that name here.. are there more houses in the grounds.. Sorry to trouble you..... but is Alex Rogers in?” “I’m sorry.. She recognised the geo-esoterics of the landscape when she got there and without hesitating......” The voice was steady and controlled but his atmosphere had been jolted sharply into alertness. “I expect not … You are going anyway. She would play it by ear....... strong aura of a man.......... His atmosphere was calm and steady. here? I ask because I was walking down this road with a friend yesterday afternoon and she saw him come in here.... She noted the tall.... She murmured to Rusty as they went in.. aren’t you?” Livvy laughed too.. a long one.. Her hand fell upon a gate.“Well …I have a feeling that you might not thank me in the short run... asking him to lead her to the door of the house.” “Tell them you told me not to go. Her delicate ears picked up the sound of the bell distantly within the house..

” His atmosphere had calmed down considerably. or have you been wandering around? This is a private property. Good! In later years. I’ll just go and enquire. It’s well signposted as such. Have you been here before. rather more sternly. As it was.” The man’s atmospherics suddenly. It was deep piled and comfortable. she would recognise this combination of two seemingly contradictory atmospherics as very dangerous. she was still very naive and she stayed her ground. He led her into what felt to be a spacious room and led her to a large leather upholstered arm chair. There were pointed probes on the surface of it and a disturbance underneath. The man lightly touched her elbow to guide her. In this respect it was the same as in Judith’s house but not to the same extent. “Oh yes. Perhaps we did have a visitor yesterday. his atmosphere however. “In here please. He headed towards what she described as a tower over there. She must be in a large hall with rooms opening off of it. “Oh!” he said. She could hear him talking on a telephone back in the hall. She knew that Alex had to be here and nothing was going to allow her to just walk away and pretend otherwise.’ she thought to herself.’ This should have been her warning. “I thought you were blind. They remained highly disturbed on the surface. “My friend can see and she watched him through the gate. steadied at the core.“Oh no. just this one. To her perceptions. there were pieces of furniture which had been so well cared for over the decades. ‘He’s not showing it in his voice. His stubbornness angered her and she was becoming reckless. Come in and I’ll enquire. but something drove her to press on. It was deeply disturbed and flickering on the surface. He’s made up his mind she thought. the Boston Ivy clad walls.” His voice remained cool. ‘He’s good. was now on a bright red alert. In fact very professional. It was a quality of disturbance that she recognised as a lie. “What’s the tower then? Could he be staying there?” Livvy had noticed the tower as she walked in. He was caught in a dilemma and thinking fast. Inside. that they carried an aura of their own. There was also a faint sheen to the wooden wainscoting on the walls. Normal ears would only 195 .” His atmosphere was really darting about now. shone through the slightly lesser vibrancy of the obscuring trees.” She heard him step back and she coaxed Rusty to follow before going in herself.

I can only go so fast you know. this is Woman Police Constable Ingrams. She accepted and soon had a delicious cup in her hand. “Come with me now Miss Johnston.” The WPC spoke softly but firmly. Livvy was emboldened. When we got to the gate.” she said. “Can I help you?” he asked. my friend saw him wheeling himself over to the tower. The aura of WPC Ingrams was steady but kind. I’m sorry but I’m afraid you’ve strayed onto a restricted site. I’m afraid to inform you that we must hold you for the time being until we can be more certain of who you are and what you are up to. “What is your name?” he asked. I’m blind but my friend can see. She was almost speechless. You will be permitted to make one telephone call” Livvy was shocked. Knowles tried in vain to warn you off but you were very insistent and revealed that you have knowledge of this place that you could only have if you had it under surveillance. It was alert but assured and direct. I was walking by here yesterday afternoon with a friend. Livvy’s sensitive ears could pick up the odd word. She saw Alex come in here. Any trouble from him and we will have to put him in a separate room. Could you wait here please. “Livvy Johnston. In fact at this moment I couldn’t say for sure whether you are really blind. “I’m looking for Alex Rogers. We had an urgent appointment that we needed to get to. I don’t know who you are or why you are here. Far from being intimidated by her situation. Miss Johnston. “Miss Johnston.” 196 . I’ll be back but it will be about fifteen minutes. True to his word.” “Okay.have picked up a faint murmur. “Yes. “Your dog can stay with you for now. so I thought I would drop by today. It was not threatening but neither was it in any way loose. the second man entered after a quarter hour. I’m Sergeant Ross Pride of special branch.” This man had a different atmosphere. and we tried to catch him up. Mr. The first man came in and asked if she would like a cup of tea. “… for Alex … very insistent … seems to know a lot … Okay … you come …” Three minutes later another man entered the room.” His atmosphere was still on alert but now smooth. Livvy got herself up and WPC Ingrams gently led her by the arm.

197 . I have some details that I need to take down from you and then a statement.” Livvy’s instinct was to get through to Judith. She hung up before it got any worse. ‘Gosh. She didn’t want to alarm Judith. She sat and waited for the policewoman to return. I kept on insisting and I guess I asked too many questions. what a predicament I’m in!’ she thought to herself. returned shortly and led her back down the hall and through a door on the left. In fact she still didn’t know but the seriousness of her situation was hitting home. any more than her present circumstance obviously would. “Judith it’s me. WPC Ingrams stopped and turned Livvy back towards the wall of the corridor. Anyway they called another man in who says he’s from Special Branch and they have a woman police officer here and they’re holding me. “If you could sit down here please. I’m at Yeoverton House. Do you need help with the number or with dialling?” Livvy needed no help. You have about five minutes. Livvy.” She had been led into what felt like a smaller room and had been brought to an upright wooden chair in front of a desk-like table. I found it all right and knocked on the door and asked for Alex. “When can I make my ‘phone-call?” “Any time you like. I don’t know what to do Judith … I know you’ll know what to do. At first they denied that they even knew who he was.” Livvy’s voice had a note of desperation in it. was who she had lied to or even where it was that she had trespassed. WPC Ingrams sat down at the other side. She began by asking for Livvy’s name address and other details. Neither did she need five minutes. “There is a seat just here.“There won’t be a need for that I can assure you.” Livvy replied nervously. She would know what to do. WPC Ingrams. I will be just down the hall way. Would you like to do it now?” “Yes I would. What she hadn’t known. She could not even bring herself to be angry. She had been caught red-handed. and the telephone is on the small table next to it. Judith’s ‘phone rang several times and then the answer phone clicked on. She had lied and she knew that her bluff had been seen through.

“Hello.” Magnus said simply as he sat down. Chapter 22 The Test Magnus’s silence came more from his surprise at seeing Livvy at Yeoverton House.” “That’s what WPC Ingams said. but I didn’t. Not when she had been so insistent that she knew that Alex was there.” he corrected. she was feeling a bit more relaxed and confident. I knocked. He deliberately did not introduce himself.“We have a gentleman who is on his way over from Coventry to see you.” the policewoman informed Livvy before they got into the details. than from a planned interview strategy. “You were with Alex that day at the trials. his voice and even something of his smell. “Magnus.” She wasn’t looking at him but instantly recognised his aura. “It’s Marcus or something isn’t it?” After her time with the police woman. He recognised the young girl sitting opposite the policewoman instantly. “We were introduced but I can’t quite …” “Livvy.” Magnus felt a little uneasy. Apparently she knew something of the geography of the place 198 .” It was actually forty minutes after WPC Ingrams had sat down with Livvy that Magnus came into the room. It was Livvy who spoke first. Livvy Johnston. Why am I being held Magnus?” “You’ve entered a restricted area. He realised that they were in a grey area but they couldn’t just let her go. “I guess that he’ll be about another half an hour from now. He walked across to sit next to the WPC.

yet I walk in here and you remember and recognise me and all I said was ‘Hello. No way could the tower be seen from the road. Alex is just over there. Perhaps she’s only partially sighted. How much can you see?” “On a sunny day.” She finished a bit weakly but deciding from now on to stick precisely to the truth. It just couldn’t. Either you’re blind and so you couldn’t have seen him. She really was cornered now. I had no idea. You’ve just walked in here asking after him and saying that your friend caught sight of him. She couldn’t tell him what had really happened because he would believe it even less than any other story that she could think of. “I’ll be frank with you Livvy. but there was something about her that didn’t add up. A plethora of questions and consequent thoughts ran through his mind: Who was she? Are they onto us? What kind of tactic was this if they’re using a blind girl? Was she really blind? How could he prove that she was? It would be much better for her if she was. This couldn’t be innocent. What on earth could she do. yet she had managed to get so close to him she had found out his name and where he lived.asking after him. or you did see him and you’re lying about being blind. “Can’t you see what I’m saying Livvy. Believe me. It was as if she could see. She had appeared next to Alex a few days before and had approached him in conversation. I can only see as much as you can on a moonless night …so I’m told. On the other hand she couldn’t think of any other suitable story either.and showed special interest in the tower. I understand that you’re supposed to be blind. Alex is on official government business and his whereabouts is extremely confidential. Now here she was brazenly walking into the ISD retreat centre . 199 . She was too confident.’ ” Livvy fell silent. I just expected the man to say ‘Oh yeah. Are you partially blind.Alex’s secret base .” “I just said that because it was all so difficult to explain.’ ” “So where did you see him. You aren’t telling the truth about that because I happen to know that he wasn’t where you said he was at that time. Talking to strange young women certainly was not Alex’s style.

“Well I can’t see anything on a moonless night!” responded Magnus. “Could we’ve a cup of tea. except a possible civil law of trespass.” “Its not ridiculous.” “It may be to you.” Turning back to Livvy. Eighteen or not. but I’m not leaving this room.” “Auras! What do you mean.” Magnus tried to hide the splutter. I’m parched and I’m sure Livvy and yourself would like one too.Emotional impression left by a person or place.” Livvy told him. I’m just waiting for my cup of tea.” “She hasn’t broken any law. I mean well I can’t see light. Magnus looked at Livvy trying to hide his puzzlement. but I can’t leave you alone in the room with this young girl. auras! Don’t be ridiculous. “No I’m not. Not when you’re being so aggressive.” “I’m still not leaving the room. 200 .” “Look. “How old are you Livvy?” “Eighteen. you became even more puzzled. The WPC got up and spoke to someone on the other side of the door. “So what is it? Did you see him or not? How else could you have know me. but to me it’s real. confused as to how to deal with the predicament. “You’re puzzled.” “That’s alliteration.” Magnus replied. “I mean both.” “Why not? She’s not a child.” Magnus turned to the WPC.” she blurted out.” “When I told you that you were puzzled. known about the tower.” This sobered Magnus a bit and brought a bit of perspective to his position in the interview. “you’re a police officer. she’s eighteen.” “I’ll ask at the door. we have to enforce the law here. I see auras. known that Alex was here? Did you see him or not?” “Neither. I’ll ask through the door for tea to be sent. It’s in the Oxford dictionary .” “You’re just guessing.” “There you are. That’s all a load of new age nonsense. She’s merely enquired after a person for whom it is your responsibility to keep hidden.

He put in his own two teaspoons with some milk. I’m merely pointing out that I can perceive things without being able to see them in the way that you see things. “How did you know where the plate was?” he asked suspiciously. “I’m not trying to embarrass you. “I’ve shocked you. So that’s no mystery.” Magnus put on his best poker face and pretended to be nonplussed.” 201 . you did. A large pot on a tray with cups and saucers and a plate of chocolate digestives.” “Are you actually trying to tell me that you were walking along and that you happened to perceive Alex’s aura? And that you saw it come into this building?” “Well.m. passing her an empty plate as if offering her one.” “Oh really. “You knew it was empty. “Would you like a biscuit?” he asked. “How do you take your tea?” Magnus asked more kindly.” Just then the tea arrived. reached out her hand.” “Well that’s right. “Milk and a tiny touch of sugar. please.” she replied simply. I saw you come into this room and I recognised you. How so …if you’re blind?” “I couldn’t smell anything.” “So you say you sensed Alex’s aura in some way. and then felt in the empty plate. You only saw me four days ago. He peeled open the packet and placed a couple of biscuits on the plate and offered them again.“Now your pretending to be angry but your actually embarrassed because I’m right. this morning. The WPC poured out her own and one for Magnus. The plate was an easy guess from that. “Your shocked. Livvy. and it felt to me like you saw me.” Livvy said.” He poured it out and handed it to her. “I can see the auric outline of your hand. Where was this?” “High above the meadow that’s about a hundred metres north of here.” Magnus decided to say nothing until WPC Ingrams returned from the door. That was not what Magnus was expecting to hear. just like anybody else would. She put her hand out and took one. and just when was this?” “About four a. hesitated as if somehow she knew it was a trick.

Here was a supposedly blind girl.” She was right. was beginning to entertain the possibility that Livvy was telling the truth.” Magnus pondered this to himself.flying absolutely soundlessly. Magnus. “Would you like another biscuit. “Look I’m sorry. “The only difference that the middle of the night makes to me is that there are no other people around. but not a reductionist. “I was out running. Don’t forget I’m blind” Magnus thought to himself that she was right about the lack of people. even if she could see. She could still have been faking it but Magnus was sure he had detected genuine surprise. This had led him to a lot of ribbing in the past from his colleagues.” He offered the plate. He had to know. rather than disbelieve anything new.m.” “I could have faked that. “Yes please. He tended to consider the amazing and to see if it could be included into logic. “What were you doing in the meadow?” he asked.” “Now your even more shocked.” This time she reached out without hesitation but her hand pressed onto the empty plate. “My daughter’s stayed up till four a. Even sighted people don’t do that” Magnus was really entertaining his doubts again.five hundred metres above her . the smell was certainly there. Magnus was a scientist.” he said with real feeling.” “What! Running across a meadow in the middle of the night. unless confronted by irrefutable proof. He dipped his chocolate biscuit in his tea and wiped a dollop of melted chocolate onto the now empty plate. yet he still sensed that her surprise had been genuine. 202 . and pretended not to. She put her hands down in front of her and pursed her lips.“No you haven’t!” Magnus found himself saying again. wandering around in the middle of the night in a remote part of the Cotswolds and she just happened to spot his best kept secret . I could have seen the empty plate and whatever you did to make the aroma. facing straight ahead. She was surprised to have been duped. He would have found it hard enough to believe. That was one reason that Alex flew at night. against his better judgement. on a number of occasions. “It’s just that I find this a little hard to believe and …well I wanted to be sure that you really are blind. but it had also led him to some very unusual discoveries.

data will emerge to undermine it. Millions of people have flown right round it. I just follow his aura and he helps to guide me. They brighten a little in the damp of the dew. things change as time goes along. until it is so shaky. Change is part of the process. I told you. come on Livvy! I’m really finding this hard to believe! I’m a scientist after all. because I don’t want to make a spectacle of myself. It’s just round and that’s all there is to it. so am I Magnus. “Well everybody knows that the earth is round. Science isn’t a static thing. It makes them appear to be arrogant. I see auras. “No I don’t Magnus. even the rocks are covered in moss. You know that.” sighed Magnus. it’s a particular concentration of a certain quality of matter almost at the centre of the Sun. how do you see your way around?” “Same as in the day.” warned Ingrams.” “Well I’m sorry …but you know what I mean. The hypothesis will have to be modified more and more.” “Well sure.” “Careful Magnus. I can sense the auras and they are very similar in the day and in the night.” “No. I use Rusty too.” 203 . Sooner or later for any given hypothesis in the repertoire of science. My teacher told us that scientists give themselves a bad name in the public eye because they tend to forget that. but I don’t hold his harness.“So. and nobody is going to come up with data that takes us back to witchcraft.” “So.” “So. I haven’t had my marks yet but I think I did rather well. but nobody is ever going to find data that proves that the earth is flat again. are you honestly saying that you would put what you just told me. It’s not a hypothesis anymore. is it a round rock orbiting the Sun?” “Yeah …of course it is.” “Oh.” answered Livvy steadily. It’s after all. One question I did answer related to the observation that there are no permanent hypotheses in science. one of their own basic tenets. Up here. The meadow is covered in living things. I just did my ‘A’ level physics exam earlier this month. stiff and rigid.” “No it’s not. “You can’t bring in accusations like that. that it will have to be replaced by another one altogether. down on your physics paper.” “Well.

In a couple of centuries people will look back and say ‘Those troglodytes two hundred years ago. If you both come into the room with me and put out the lights.” “Anecdotal!” “What. Very good. Hmm. Maybe you can go and pick some flowers or even some grass from outside. Go and find some living pot plants. The Sun by anybody’s definition is the photosphere.” Livvy thought for a moment. I was able to follow Alex here in the dark.” mused Magnus wryly. The thing we can all see. That’s what I see.“What. Where’s the data. …“Have you a room in this house with no windows?” “Hmn …Oh yes. He was starting to really like this feisty young woman. when I’m blind. No light whatsoever. Troglodytes eh? Rock dwellers. I don’t see light. that says differently?” “Well. Livvy.” “Not to me it isn’t. even though he was sailing high in the sky. with no hesitation …would that be disturbing data for you?” “I don’t know. and then come back to you and place them in each of your outstretched hands. and I’m just an ‘A’ level student as interested in good science as you are. Magnus. Maybe some fresh fruit. Then you were to blindfold me and take me down there. the fresher the better.” “Okay. The photosphere means nothing to me. The aura of the Sun is what you call the heliosphere. No. thought that the earth was just a round rock!’ ” “Humph. Ms Ingrams is here. and we’re at the centre of it! Some day more and more people will see what I see. she can search me to see if I’m carrying any military night scopes or some such cheating mechanism. If I was to walk over and pick them each up. so that it is absolutely pitch dark.” 204 . Like me I suppose. I see auras. There’s the billiard room down in the basement. Let’s see. you want a scientific trial?” “Sure. you’re talking about the heliosphere of the Sun. I’ve seen so much trickery on television. If you were to place them in various places around that room.” “This isn’t television.” “Designing experiments is part of the ‘A’ level syllabus. …I recognised you. We’ll have to assume that I’ve never been in the room before and I certainly won’t have seen where you put all the things. I did one last month. “So …my hypothesis is …that you cannot see auras.

I asked her to wait…” His sentence was cut short by the hugely substantial figure of Judith. blindfolded down to the already darkened room.she had given them one by one. To his utter amazement. the lettuce from the top of the book shelf. turned her round and round and then let her go. It was really dark. There’s a woman at the door. “I’m sorry Sir. “Yes. She had ignored the artificial philodendron.” he said at last. Magnus and the policewoman had suddenly developed a sincere respect for Livvy. He sensed a kindred spirit. be heard Livvy walk around the perimeter of the room. These he distributed around about the room.” Twenty minutes later.” They returned to the small room. the busy lizzie and the bird’s nest fern.is that there is a billiard table in the middle of the room. “That would be disturbing data. the experiment had been set up. so don’t hurt yourself on it. a banana and a stock of fresh sweet romaine lettuce from the kitchen. He almost forgot that he was the one who had set the experiment up. Let’s go upstairs. He also selected an apple. Magnus hadn’t been in that level of darkness since his student days in the college darkroom.” she said. “All I will tell you Livvy . one apple from the floor beside the billiard table. the busy lizzie from the cue rack on the far wall and the fern from behind him. brushing him aside as if he were a child and not a 6’3” burly police officer. They had just entering the room when Sergeant Pride came in with a rather flustered atmosphere about him. It was absolutely pitch black. if I were you. one banana from the far left corner of the floor.because I don’t expect even you to claim it has an aura . Magnus had found some very realistic artificial philodendrons to place among the African violet. Within not much more than a minute she couldn’t have done it faster as a sighted person in daylight . shut the door. looking for Miss Johnston. 205 . the African violet from the billiard table. They were finding it hard to adjust to what they had just witnessed.” Magnus turned the light on. They led Livvy.” He took the blindfold off of her.Magnus looked over at her. not her. “I’d eat it soon. Magnus was still trying to figure it out as if he had just seen it all on a Paul Daniel’s TV show. “The banana is getting a bit dim. “Okay Livvy. placed accurately into their outstretched hands.

overcoming her surprise at the power of Judith’s presence when she chose to be angry. Kronin. The computer was on. and connected to Broadband. she’s blind too!’ thought Magnus to himself as he went down the hall way.” Judith looked at Magnus and then at John Pride.” “She’s eighteen and old enough to care for herself. and now he suspected Mrs Kronin too seemed to have the ability to know what she couldn’t possibly know. The reason was simple. Magnus logged into the Internal Intelligence site and entered a series of complex passwords.” “Good. what he really wanted to do was a search on that name. I would like to know what you’re planning to do with her. I live in Norton-SubEdge and this young woman is in my care. “Judith. ‘ Kronin. His being so would not have gone unnoticed by Livvy he was sure. Although the tea was an excellent idea.” said Magnus. “What on earth are you doing holding this young woman!” “And who might you be?” asked Magnus gruffly. He then 206 . Why was that name ringing a bell?’ He racked his brain. He asked Knowles to make the tea and then went into the office. sir. ‘My God. Kronin. It’s all right.” It was Livvy breaking in. Magnus noticed her feeling around for a chair and sitting down. “Craig? …” He stumbled for words. “So whose in charge now?” Magnus’s mind was humming.“Livvy! Are you all right?” She asked. “Where’s chief inspector Criag these days?” Magnus was shocked. This computer needed it. “I recognise this shambles of an outfit. Mrs Kronin.” she announced. Let’s all sit down and when we’ve had a cup of something then we’ll sort this all out. “Look. and then to Magnus. “Craig retired eight years ago. you do that!” said Judith. I think we’re coming to an understanding. Local web surfers wondered why Yeoverton had broadband when larger places like Norton didn’t. trying to ignore a wee small voice inside that was telling him that he had just met his match. “Judith Kronin is my name. “I’ll go and see that some tea is brought. Mrs Kronin to you. How do you know him?” She ignored his question.

“Something’s up. It came up. It was then that he saw it. He looked at it. 1938 . Not exactly at him. just like Livvy. “She can see auras too. That’s why it’s held at such a high level of secrecy. “What!!” his voice was rising above a whisper now. He looked at her.’ It was true that Magnus had access to all but the most sensitive state secrets. Active 1935. then the Korean War. Nobody would believe the story. It was as if there was a yellow swirl. He picked up his cup and looked at Judith. the tea was out and a cup poured for him. “The build up to World War Two. the screen threw up a ‘access denied’ icon. Suddenly the truth hit him. 207 .typed in the name ‘Judith Kronin’. ‘Access denied. more in front of him.” Judith looked over at him. Judith nodded quietly in the affirmative. She then retired but then came back for the major part of the Cold War! What did she do for us?” He entered more code. and those only because it would be dangerous for him to know them personally. She was working for us under cover. “We need you back and we need Livvy too. “Blow me down!” Magnus whispered to himself. left the office and walked back down the corridor. That has to be it. 1956 .1953. “Is that a Yes?” he asked. superimposed on top of his visual image of her. so why even create the problem? Just keep it secret!” Magnus logged off. 1950 . reference after reference.1947. As he entered the room. the entirety of World War Two. He was deeply in his feelings. She felt him look at it and smiled ever so faintly. “Blimey!! Nobody gets to deny me access unless they’re in the cabinet or something!” He tried accessing the information from several different directions and the result was the same stark icon. Born 06 04 1906. “We were using her abilities!” His voice was now a faint awed whisper.” he said matter-of-factly.1989. He spooned three sugars in this time and stirred it.

208 . He thought back to the racing trials three days before and the young woman that he had met there. The last red streak of the sun had gone. He had been up to check on it in the full daylight three hours before and everything was in perfect condition. He would wait a while longer. Rather it filled his heart with a warmth which was quite new to him. the memory was not at all painful. He lounged in his special wheelchair allowing his thoughts to drift.so why do it. and the wing suit had been left mantled down on the deck above him. He would never see her again . Strangely. Despite himself. The memory would be painful he was sure. He’d had a nap and was now looking forward to being aloft. It was so near the summer solstice that the sun seemed to take for ever to go down and that only after eleven. There was still the faint red of the setting sun showing subtle streaks through the window slits. in that particular moment he thought about her anyway.Chapter 23 The Unexpected Guest Alex was preparing to fly. He had tried to not think of her ever since. It had been a calm day. He let the thought sit there and enjoyed it.

” “A friend?” queried Alex. “I didn’t want to come by the lift and have the door open suddenly on you. Although Alex didn’t know what was meant by that. She of course was prepared for the meeting. Mrs Kronin. She’s now part of our team.“Time to go. hand on Rusty’s harness! “Livvy! Wow! How did you get here?” he exclaimed involuntarily.” he called down. as is her friend and teacher. filling in for her. “You followed me?” he asked. Rusty came over and nuzzled his hand. seriously though.his own family included .” he whispered softly.” added Magnus. “I didn’t realise who Livvy was when we met three days ago. It seems that it was some kind of extraordinary coincidence that she was there at all. realising that they were actually serious despite the laughter. so we came up the stairs. Magnus. He looked over and Magnus’s head came up above the floor level.” said Magnus. “Look Alex. You’re getting careless. Alex.” answered Livvy shyly. “Hello Alex. following him …he couldn’t believe it. Livvy laughed lightly. Alex. It wasn’t as though he didn’t have any friends. “She followed you home last night. Mrs Kronin has worked with our 209 . “Hey. Alex had not heard her laugh before and it sounded fresh and melodic to his ears. It made him feel less alone when in the air.” Alex looked at Magnus puzzled. “You did actually. I have a friend come to see you. Alex! Are you up there?” It was Magnus. unusually calling from the stairwell below. It occurred to him that he would have to be careful as there would come a time when he would be back wearing the radio helmet again. sounding surprised. It was just that none of them .” Livvy responded warmly. “Yes I am. “You’ll probably find it difficult switching them off when Livvy’s around. Then. he didn’t find it hard to believe either. He didn’t want the crew hearing every thought that went through his head.could know of his whereabouts. He had got into the habit of talking to himself. looking at Livvy. There following him was Livvy. “Did I leave my navigation lights on or something?” he asked half in jest. Then he saw the twinkle in his eye.

you can postpone your flight for a couple of hours … Oh yes. “Oh. sure. I have something here. I’m forgetting myself. Well that’s what Magnus was alluding to just now. “He doesn’t appear to bad to me.” said Alex quietly. The two sat silently as Magnus’s footsteps receded down the tower. Alex. merry already. “The exercise is probably good for him. Alex.” “Well. if Livvy tells you some things that you find rather hard to accept …well … just suspend disbelief for now.” She smiled at him innocently and his heart warmed noticeably. She’s over ninety now but she has so much experience in this field that I want to go down and discuss our little problem with her. by the way.” He glided over to the fridge on his chair and got out the wine. wine. Look. so I think I will.department off and on for the last seventy years. Would you like some tea or coffee? I also have some beer in the fridge and some cold white wine as well. that he was quite overwhelmed. She settled into one end of 210 . and also. “Would Rusty like anything?” he asked looking down at the dog.” “Livvy? I thought you told me that you were blind. and you just said that he doesn’t appear too bad to you.” The scenery had changed so dramatically and totally for him in the last two minutes.” “Oh …all right Magnus …I guess. a bit of blood pressure in his lower legs though so you’re probably right. Will you be all right flying after drinking wine. “I can’t see candlelight or any other light for that matter.” “They’re not likely to catch me. She’s a remarkably talented young woman. She gave Rusty a biscuit. thank you Magnus.” She reached into a small back pack that she had been carrying in her hand. “Oh. “if you like. She had found the settee and had settled down onto it. but a warm heart is ambience enough for me.” “Oooo.” Magnus was half way down the stairs. She became aware that his aura which the evening before had lit the sky above her.” Livvy responded softly. “Shall I light a candle and turn the lights down?” he quipped. I don’t understand. was now filling the room with a welcoming presence. Magnus said you followed me home last night. He then wheeled over to a low cupboard for the glasses. Could I start at the beginning?” “Oh yes. That sounds good.” “Oh dear.

their relationships with each other and their surroundings.her first perceptions of people’s atmospheres began to appear to her. so now tell me. Rusty lay on the floor near her with his biscuit and Alex brought his chair up to be opposite her. She looked and again it was gone. she relaxed and there it was again. 211 . giving her his full attention. She went on to tell him about how . She looked and it disappeared. hearing the numbers read out. She explained how this had led to her interest in languages and how the patterns of peoples atmospheres had helped her to understand what they were saying. She could feel her mother give her a huge hug and could hear her jump up and hug her sister. Then she told him of the day that her sister had pranged her father’s car. He let the chair lean him forward so that they could both be relaxed and close enough to speak softly. heard her sister’s footsteps as she came in and how she perceived it to be there where she knew her sister to be . she relaxed and again and there it was. Tell me everything. She told of the day her mother won fifty pounds on the lottery. She started with what it was like being blind as a young girl.the settee. She was deeply interested in people. This had really got her attention and over the following years she had become receptive to all atmospheres. She then related how her perception of atmosphere.” he said quietly.around the age of ten . and then there was another flash of colour where she knew her father to be. about how that affected her life and her friendships. She heard her sister tell her father what had happened. frightened and upset people.a tight bright yellow ball with darting red spikes. She told of how she heard the front door of the house open. kicked her shoes off and curled her legs up beside her. “Okay. How at first they were only the most obvious excited ones such as the atmospheres coming off of angry people. Then there it was …a bright green swirl where she knew her mother to be. however normal. They matched. She told of how this had become an all important preoccupation for her. sad people. had more recently led her to become aware of the more steady and subtle auras that all living things carry. joyful people. She could smell the excitement. enabling her to learn an number of languages. She could hear what was being said and could see what was being felt. This one was red and pulsating like a breathing tenseness. And so she did. Livvy had been there.

” said Livvy thoughtfully. It’s not like that at all.As she spoke. Judith . “Do you see the auras with your eyes?” “Well. yes and no Alex. much more than I can. … Magnus said that she worked for the Intelligence Services on and off for the last seventy years. She explained how she had been interested in the para-olympic trials. but my teacher. he seemed to know who she was and what she had done. Alex listened intently. to feel his acceptance of everything she said and to watch and feel the interplay of their atmospheres as they interlaced and swirled together. He felt strangely naked. He began to understand what was happening. She was taking in his aura. The first I heard was when Magnus went out of the room earlier this evening.” “Oh …is she blind too? Can she see auras as well?” “Oh yes. Livvy was enjoying the freedom to be herself. She knows how to read atmospherics much better than me and more importantly she knows how to balance them. It just happens. how she had gone there to see the blind races and how she had been attracted to a particular quality of 212 . What did she do?” “I don’t know. “It’s not as though she judges peoples atmospheres as right or wrong …you know … she doesn’t think ‘this person’s atmosphere is a little too this or a little too that’ and then does something to make them be what she thinks they ought to be. I didn’t really realise how it worked at first. It’s more like there’s something about her atmosphere that causes other peoples atmospheres to settle down and clarify. He then realised that her eyes were drifting over the whole of him. in front and on either side. She never mentioned it to me. realising that every nuance of thought would have a corresponding element in his appearance to her. both above. I guess he made a phone call or something. At first he found the fact that she wasn’t looking at him.she explained it to me and suddenly it made sense.that’s Mrs Kronin that Magnus is with now . She can see the auras of the stars and the galaxies and everything. For her part. when he came back.” “Hmmm.” “How did you come to be here?” Livvy told him the story of learning to run by following Rusty and by navigating over the auras of the vegetation covering the ground. rather disconcerting. It’s not something she does as such …not consciously anyway.” “Balance them?” “Yes. He was gone for about fifteen minutes and then.

He didn’t. The idea that this beautiful young woman had such an interest in him was numbing. Up until that point. She told of how Judith had recognised his aura as being the one that she had seen in the sky each night.” “Well …in a nutshell. but just as you were about to disappear. For Alex. He had always seen himself as unattractive if not mildly repulsive to women because to his condition. There was one time when you went below the escarpment then climbed it and went right over us. We couldn’t quite keep up with you. a certain quality of electricity seemed to fill it. That’s how Judith first saw you.” Alex looked over at her. “Is that how you followed me here? You went out at night and waited to see my aura and you followed me here. She had been there! He remembered the time 213 . you stopped and wheeled in circles for about five minutes so that we were able to catch up. She was already looking up into the sky …and we can run really fast …and over long distances too!” “Well you must be able to. The wind climbs quite high when it hits the escarpment and I get a free ride. we couldn’t when you were whizzing around. stunned. It wasn’t as though he disbelieved her. I don’t just do that just for fun. She hesitated and then shyly told him about how a swirl of his aura had remained with her after he had gone and how it remained with her even now. Suddenly it hit him that she was relating back to him exactly what he had been doing the previous night. she noticed a change in his atmosphere. in order to have kept up with me.his aura which drew her to him. Alex steadied himself by bringing the conversation back to the story. her story had had a slightly magical ring to it.” “Well …after a while you seemed to slow down and you began to make your way over to the tower here at quite a mild pace. As she told this part.” “Oh yes. What she was telling him was so fantastic that he had unconsciously slipped into the same space in his mind with which he could listen unquestioning to stories of sci-fi or fairy tales. It was more like he was listening to a story which was disconnected from any real event. bringing a mixture of fear and enthralment. yes. and all that climbing and dipping. this last piece of information struck him profoundly.” “Well. She could see the change in his atmosphere. You go really fast. She likes to look at the auras of the stars and Rusty and I like to run when there is nobody about. Judith and I have got into a habit of going out each night for a couple of hours around about midnight.

I don’t want to get home too soon or it will all be over for another day. but Livvy found it frightening and she tended to steer clear of such people. into the stark present. “ I also remember being very reluctant to land. Alex wished he had legs. This is so beautiful up here. “It’s just that I’ve never been able to share this with anybody …except of course Judith …and here you are telling me things that show you understand. Alex laughed too. Finally I had to because the sun wasn’t just a rosy glow. you know. I just didn’t want to come down. Alex had been jerked out of a habitual listening behaviour. “I remember that so well. Something really relaxed between them. “I was so grateful that you did that.” 214 . She was very attractive and had received quite a bit of uninvited attention since about the age of fourteen. but his staying put was the best thing that he could have done. than I had in a long time …and that’s saying something because I really love flying. He would have loved to be able to go over to her. wiping it away.” she said. There was a tiny tear rolling down her cheek. Livvy was very suspicious of the attention and affections of men in particular. I was gliding along and the thought seemed to come into my head from nowhere. He had stopped and wheeled for five minutes.clearly. that you know what I am talking about. He couldn’t have known it. “It’s funny.” he added. What she was telling him was real! “Gosh! That’s so remarkable!” he said to her.” “And would you have turned to dust if it did?” asked Livvy. “You know?” she continued after a brief silence. She could see all too plainly the contradiction between what she saw in their atmospherics. “I’m sorry. I must have heard you calling!” He looked over at her. to sit by her and to comfort her. laughing lightly. it was about to come fully up.” For the first time in a long time. even exciting game. ‘I’m going too fast. We had to get across the road and locate exactly which house was yours before you disappeared. He could even remember the seeming innocent impulse that made him do it. There was a bit of a left over thermal there and I didn’t even have to work my wings. For some girls it might have become an interesting. and what they purported to be doing. I loved being in the air more in that moment.’ It was such an intense feeling that I banked into a circle and just drifted around and around.

“I really want to know. “Alex?” Livvy’s voice sounded rather sleepy. 215 .“How did you do it? I mean I understand about the auras and everything. He went over to the pole and climbed up to his bedroom. Alex poured out another glass each and they sat still. So I asked him. She smiled softly without waking. He looked at her more closely. I’m not sure where to start. sipping it just enjoying each others company. Are you really up for it? You must have had a very long night last night as well.” he began. After all Magnus’s meticulous planning and all the time and energy spent on keeping him hidden and safe …along comes Livvy and just asks the milkman and he tells her all she needs to know! Livvy began to laugh too. By the age of seventeen I was put onto the national team. “How do you fly?” “It’s three am Livvy. He kissed her gently on the forehead. She was sound asleep and so was Rusty.” “Well …” she yawned delicately. but how did you locate the house?” “It’s really funny Alex. then pulled the quilt about her and snuggled down. I’ve been doing that since I was about fourteen and I was quite quickly getting to be competing at a county level. He covered her with the quilt. ‘I wonder if she will remember that’ he thought to himself as he made his way up to his own bed.” Alex waited for a response from her but none was forthcoming. We were standing there wondering just that question …when along came the milkman. He dropped down a warm quilt and came back down to his special chair.” “Gosh. She stirred slightly.” Alex burst out laughing. It just struck him as outrageous. “I guess it would have to be with the wheelchair racing. The story is probably almost as long as yours.

A bottle of fine French red wine was open on a small table. They both sipped from their glasses as Magnus looked at each photograph in the series and described them in some detail to Judith. there was still a faint rosy glow in the north-western sky. First there were the satellite pictures of the ‘birds’. the moon silhouette. It was June and although the sun had long since set. then the ones taken from the ground.Chapter 24 Further developments Magnus and Judith were in the study. 216 . The French windows had been left slightly ajar to let in some of the mild evening air. and finally the pictures of the deserted camp.

All I know is that I’m really worried about it.” “Well you can. Too pure in one sense …not yet wise …naive probably.” “Look Judith. I sense from what you tell me that they are very pure. These people are linked up to all kinds of cell phone and other communications to people in this country. To do that you have to be in right relationship with them.” “You’re mincing with words. you won’t be able to understand them or have an accurate sensing of what they are about to do. I’m sure … The point that I’m offering to you . There might be some. In fact I would say quite the opposite. This is because the simple fact is that they are not evil. You have to come off your high horse with your ideas that your culture and faith are right or better or any of those oneup comparisons.” “Oh.” Judith’s statement surprised Magnus.” “There are very few people who believe themselves to be up to no good. what did you do? Was it your job to tell us that Hitler was really just a nice daddy figure and that Stalin was really a kind loving Uncle? Is that why we took you on?” 217 . They are devout followers of a peaceful faith. I choose to call that up to no good. Magnus!” “I take that as a compliment. People we have reason to believe are up to no good.” “Well that’s the same thing isn’t it …in the long run. Magnus. so what one person believes to be good is considered to be ‘up to no good’ to another. Judith.” “I don’t know anything about this. All those years you worked for us.and I am simply relaying what your deeper self told me as you described those pictures is that if you think of these people as malevolent. Judith. These people are going to try and kill a lot of people or at least cause very serious disruption to this country. Of course there are diametrically opposed points of view in the world. but these aren’t among them.” “Not if you want to sense out what to do in response to them. your so like Craig. let alone met them?” he asked. “How can you say that when you haven’t even see the photos. and in righteous indignation …very open to those who would distort their passion to serve their own ends. “I was watching your atmosphere as you were describing them. We’re not all lily-white in this country you know.“The first thing I would say is that they don’t seem to be malevolent. There’s part of you that knows these things subliminally and it can be perceived.

I became less interested in taking sides. the fish were far more intelligent.” broke in Magnus. when something happened in his head.m. trout fishing. One sound from him or even a shadow cast on the water and the trout would be gone. It was not so much as to 218 . He was stealthily creeping through a light coppice woodland towards a small brook on his hands and knees. He had to learn from their wisdom. He was beginning to understand what she meant. came out of his vision and found himself still looking at Judith. Magnus. she could read his atmosphere and see the fear. their quickness. Later on as I got into my forties and fifties. He had to try for three mornings in a row. You needn’t worry. getting up at five a. An image came to him. It’ll all be taken care of in due course. This became paramount for me during the Cold War …and that was when I was the most useful. The Second World War occurred when I was in my thirties. It was as though a current of tingling air were blowing upward in it from his chest right up through to the crown and on beyond.” Magnus looked over at her and was on the point of saying something rude. their alertness and their intelligence. but I don’t want to get side tracked. but if that was not who they were in reality. A deep sense of communion with the nature of things. He was sifting through his slow wits to think what to do. and much more interested in the truth itself. Then he was humble. I first worked for the External Intelligence Service in 1935. He now remembered the gift that the fish had then given him. I was about 29 and I did very much the same sort of things that I’m sure Livvy will be doing for you …” “Put that thought on hold. For another. For one thing. He began to see what her role had been with Craig and his predecessors. “When I was young.” “Magnus … I’m very meticulous and very experienced. The anger was just a frustrated overlay. “I want to know more about that. He had been fighting in his own mind with those who he thought of as evil people. she had been through this conversation at least a dozen times before with his predecessors. He remembered now. he had little hope of making the right decisions. He was guarding against his clumsiness. It was his own forgotten memory of an experience that he had as a young boy. before he was finally able to catch one.Judith was totally nonplussed by Magnus’s storm. the fish were wise. the fish were quick. the doubt and the confusion. precise and alert.

if a member of our staff at External Intelligence hadn’t seen it and clocked it so to speak.” he told her matter-offactly. The captain of the cutter. there was this tiny blip they saw in the radar which was just on the edge of registering. and no reason to be too suspicious. the crew. the cutter investigated and approached the trawler at dawn. and disappeared so close to this vessel.” “Well …that’s very reassuring. “As the object had come from the coast. this time?” she asked with a slight twinkle. you understand.” “You’ve got a lot going for you Magnus. He relaxed. The signal was too large. The Coast Guard thought must be a large bird. made enquiries of the trawler and it’s captain invited him aboard. They were more curious I guess more than anything. It was too slow and too small for a plane and also too small for even the smallest helicopter. One of those coincidences without which we would be in trouble.” she agreed. really. dropping his long standing habit of having a gloomy air about him at such news. just a chance report. “No.” “This would just have just been another report of an unusual phenomenon such as happens from time to time. were just getting up and everything seemed normal. He saw her perceive him come to this conclusion. a coast guard cutter off of the north-east coast. It approached a large trawler well out in the north sea and then vanished from their screens. “Anyway. It was coming offshore about ten miles north of Scarborough. They tracked it. It was a medium sized Moroccan one. They would have no reason to remark on that other than it was so unusual on board a working vessel. In passing they did mention that there was a boy in a wheelchair on board. merged with the trawler. Maybe a 25 kilo Whooper Swan but it was night-time and it’s the wrong time of year for them. “Two days ago. however. picked up a strange signal on it’s radar at about two o’clock in the morning.” “Of Course. Of course. More than you know. Unusual in those waters. as the radar doesn’t usually pick up single birds. No one on the 219 . Anyway. only reading within about ten miles. This is a small scale radar. or rather. they had no powers of search.” he replied with some feeling.advise them but to provide the means by which they could clearly provide their own advise. “There’s been a further development come in today. “No photos.” “Indeed.

as well as simply demonstrating what they can do. matter-of-factly. He was reasonably comfortable with three. otherwise they quickly lose the huge advantage that they have by not having any legs.” 220 . The work we have done with Alex has demonstrated that apart from the chance encounter with our radar. and so.” “Yes.” “That’s right too. The most he was able to carry was a five kilo payload and that really slowed him down. I wasn’t sure at first. they will be able to come and go as they please …weather permitting. go and do whatever it is that they’re going to do and then just vanish onto another prearranged building. If he was coming from the coast he must have gone ashore earlier. then we realised that Alex will have an even more significant role to play in the days and weeks to come.” “That’s right. it would seem so. every kilogram counts.” “I was going to ask you how Alex fitted in to all this.” “So …they’re here. “Yes.” “I do now. Earlier that night or a previous night.” commented Judith. These guys can fly as low as four metres off the ground over any terrain.” “And you came up with Alex. This is the sort of thing I could see in potential when I first saw those photographs. When we found out just how well the system worked. They can hear our helicopters and fly for cover before they appear. but the answer is becoming pretty apparent. I presume that the moonlit photo sparked off your thinking and you then searched the medical records of UK citizens to see if there was someone in the country who already fitted the needed physical characteristics. I only wanted to explore the potential. The only consolation is that they can’t carry much weight.” “Of course you realise that he will have a significant role to play in countering their intent.” “And of course I have seen with my own perceptions how well he has fulfilled your expectations. They could set up in a city like London and just pop up somewhere off of a high building. he’s done admirably. The thing folds up like a roll of carpet and all anybody would see was a guy in a wheelchair. They can fold up their wing suit onto a car rack or into a van and then just sit innocently on the front seat. mystery unsolved they left and filed the report.trawler spoke good English. With Alex.

what is your job?” “To keep an eye on your atmosphere and help it to settle down so that you can see what to do. Magnus.” “Never too old for a good story.” “They’re both very wounded in that area.” “I thought you might say that …because I have this crazy idea in my head that we go up there with Ross and Alex in a special van we’ve put together and have Alex cruise up and down the coast. not to each other. Nobody else could do that.” “I thought you didn’t give advise.” “In this case I have data that you don’t know about. Are you a good risk assessor?” 221 . in the pitch dark without him even knowing it. I can just see it.” commented Judith. I know how good she is.“Five kilos of some substances is a big bang.” “Well there’s risks one way and risks the other. Magnus. “That’s right and these guys could drop it down the funnel of an aircraft carrier if they wanted to. We need to assess her and train her. but I want loyalty to me and the operation. What about Livvy?” “What about her. so do it!” “I already have.” “So. You’ll find that intense loyalty can be a bonus. She’s only just joined us. I don’t like mixing that kind of thing into my operations. in flight for over eight miles.” “I’ve been training her. You’re the one with all the fingers in the right pies. They aren’t going to rush into anything. They might lose sight of the overall purpose of what we’re doing.’ ” “Aren’t you a bit old for that! I’m a bit old for that. Magnus.” “Sounds like a plan. We’ll have the Coast Guard cutter patrol that part and see if they can help us with their radar. Magnus.” “Yeah. Alex will need someone who can go out to him in the pitch dark if he gets into trouble. She and Rusty tracked Alex.” “You’ve been watching too much ‘Star Wars.” “Okay.” “Those two are going to become an item.” “So what do we do?” “Not my job.

Judith.” “Okay. But I do have to weigh things up.” “Yes and I suppose he can carry night vision equipment. extremely capable and fit. “The silent ability has a double advantage. in the dark and under a blanket of snow. “So. and to be able to keep aloft just waiting. in consort with very careful airfoil design. He had never met an older person before where consciousness had continued to grow without stagnation for over ninety years. in short. “I’ve no idea what sort of arrangement you have made for him to land. but it would have to be very light and very unencumbering. Magnus. you tell me but my guess from having watched him is about forty or fifty miles per hour.” Magnus nodded. too. has so changed his weight-to-strength ratio that he. but to propel himself along somehow. Sound carries remarkably well upward.” Magnus was intent. chewing a seed. say seventy kph?” “Yes that’s right. Once you stop making a noise when you can fly . Ross is a very good man. Think of an owl.” Magnus was impressed. This I presume. I spent literally years behind enemy lines during World War Two and once I went deep inside North Korea.” “Alex’s weakness is on the ground. There’s a huge difference between artificial night vision which basically magnifies very low levels of ambient light. Not only can he not be heard. I’m not in the insurance business if that’s what you mean. go on. He was impressed. and the ability to 222 .once you stop making a noise. so what are you weighing? Alex’s strength in this situation is his ability to be able to fly silently.and what mechanical flying thing do we know of that doesn’t announce itself for miles around so that you know it’s coming long before it gets there . watching. to cover that aspect?” “Well. I understand from Livvy that he has no legs at all. at night. Alex can give us an overview of the ground. is able to not only glide. but then to his own credit.“Well. he had followed an identical line of logic upon seeing the backlit photo of the flying man with no legs. you can hear a lot.” “Okay. but who’s going to be on the ground. what?. but he can hear. Although he is not nearly as fast as mechanical flight. he can achieve. It has stereo hearing and can pinpoint and pounce on a mouse.

We saw it flair up. Enough to keep her on lean rations for a couple of days.” “She wouldn’t want one either believe me. You won’t have any idea what she’s capable of until you have some experience of it. You whisked him away. Livvy is a gem. Judith? Oh come on!” “It’s all about reading intent very accurately Magnus. overlooking the car park and Livvy and I climbed up it.” “My goodness! How did you know that?” “There was a little knoll there. “I don’t do much of that work now. Water is so easy for her to perceive that she won’t have much problem in England. I found that it was much more effective to be able to dodge bullets than to shoot them. People are so radiant. and then you sorted the issue out between you and went on. Do you remember when Alex first met Livvy at the Para-olympic trials. “ I never want to misuse my powers like that again Magnus. were little grenade things about the size of a large marble. “What I did find useful though. I used to pull back a little strip on them and five second later they 223 . Even though it was at a range of about a hundred and fifty metres. Get together a survival pack for her. I was taller than Livvy. I shot someone once. I suggest. but purification tablets. twice straight into the centre of his aura.” “Dodge bullets. paint me purple and hang me up by my toes.” “What about weapons? We can hardly licence a blind person with a gun.perceive radiant light …that is. We couldn’t hear what you were saying at that distance but we could read the nature of the interplay of your atmospherics. respectfully of course. Not only could I move fast and silently like a cat over rough ground. You think something like that looks bad in visual light?” Judith shivered. but I could identify individual human figures over long distances even if they were bedded down under cover. and five minutes later you were having a heated discussion with him in the car park.” “Well. When I was young. we could both pick out Alex’s aura from the rest of the crowd with ease. I do other things. but I was as lean and fit as she is. the individual atmospheric signal given off by any living thing. No big deal.” Magnus’s jaw had dropped. but I’ll tell you. a space blanket and some mild first aid equipment. (Magnus nodded here) that you take both Livvy and Rusty.” Judith went on.

I’ll get them on to it. Okay. It’s three a. We have to keep tabs on them but if the other side know we’re on to them. We need to be strong in the same way on the ground. I will come along myself as well in that case. The point is. we can barge in there.all through that same prejudice that you just described . They were similar but let off an intense flash of light.” “I don’t think so.” “That’s a detail Magnus. I’ll have to look those up in our book of magic spells.” “You’ve no idea how useful that illusion is Magnus. “Of course I didn’t laugh at the time.he was so murderous that I had to …well …” “I think I’m getting the picture. somewhere. Oh sure. I also used them to divert attention away from myself. but what I could see was a bunch of tough guys. When he finally realised who I was and what he had let me be party to . suddenly turn the bright yellow of fear at a stroke. I had to use them within six months or dispose of them. What we need is a back up for Alex on the ground that is as silent. And it is an illusion. as swift and having as little impact on the surrounding environment as he does. They had a limited storage life. we’ll take them along for the ride at least. they’ll be far more stealthy with their use of the others. a bit careless. I was around the man I eventually had to kill for months and he never even saw me even though I was around him a lot. making a lot of noise and stuff. Not yet anyway.” “I don’t know. I really enjoyed using those. Do you want us to put you up here or have someone drive you home?” 224 .m. that we are strong in the air. all with bright red angry atmospheres.went off like a 9 mm magnum. They’re probably only committing one this time.” She laughed quietly. I couldn’t see much of the flash.” “Well. Judith. believing in our ignorance. They’ve already had the Coast Guard onto them. There’s three fliers out there. Magnus. We may even have some. just a little blip. I also had some flashers. I won’t send her somewhere I wouldn’t go myself. Blind at that. Our only advantage is that they might be over confident. Really good thing to encourage people to not turn on their torches. I look at Livvy and all I see is a slip of a girl.” “Hmmm. we have a pretty smart team of people at ISD. They weighed about two ounces and I could throw them a long way. One more mistake like that and we will lose them.

yet gradually awakening mind. it might be the best thing to stay here.” “No sooner said than done. If you have a comfortable room. He was young and a late night such he and Livvy had just had. He slid into his waiting chair and looked over at her. Rusty was curled up on the floor by her side.” Chapter 25 Early one Morning Alex slid down the pole as the early morning light began to fill the interior of the tower.“I’d like to go home but I need to be here in the morning to see Livvy. 225 . meant very little once the thought of her being downstairs had crept into his drowsy.

bright. well kept and had that special but rather rare atmosphere that is 226 . Livvy came up into the light and was dazzled by the splendour of the aureate display. “There’s a bathroom upstairs if you want to freshen up a bit.” he said. I didn’t want to wake you and I couldn’t move you. I’m sure you can do something. I’ll do that. shining in my heart?” Her tousled head appeared and she yawned and stretched. Livvy followed and Alex then continued up to the top deck. Okay.” “That sound nice. but …well …you just drifted off. It was still on her. “but it would have to be now and just once around the grounds. The dog jumped up and went towards the stairs. There was a slight breeze and the dew was sparkling lightly on everything around. secretly thrilled to have the chance of impressing her. It was a sensuous. “Am I dressed?” She felt for her clothing. what time is it?” “It’s only six fifteen. The trees were beautiful.” “Mmm …you can take that as a compliment. I wouldn’t want to be out much after six thirty. He came over to Alex wagging his tail and the young man began stroking him. so I just went upstairs and dropped my quilt down to put on you. “Oh good … What happened? I thought you were going to tell me how you flew?” “You fell asleep Livvy. fresh June morning.” he replied.” “Can you go now and fly for me? It just feels like such a beautiful fresh morning and I would so love to be with you as you go …just briefly?” “Mmm …Yeah.“Hmmmm. Alex. I would have slept down here and you could have had my bed. Come on upstairs!” Alex climbed the pole and called down to Rusty. “What’s this bright rose-coloured light.” Rusty got himself up and stretched his powerful body out in one direction then the other. but it’s a very nice room.” came Livvy’s soft voice from under the cover. “I guess you didn’t come expecting to stay overnight. Alex.” “It’s pushing it Livvy. By the way. I must have been very at ease with you to do that.” “Is it too late for you to fly? I know you missed your flight last night.

She felt a thrill as he reached the wings back and pulled down hard. later. It was a pale blue shimmer. Livvy could make out the etheric outline of the wing suit. rose-coloured figure. that but for the awaking eyes of the people in the vicinity. then pulled himself up under the wingsuit and clipped himself in. The stage began rising as he did so. Livvy knew from her experience of him two nights before.” she said. Alex. he had moved up and forward enough to slide into a glide.” Livvy turned to follow Alex’s guiding hand on her arm. but strong enough to reveal its own presence to her. This was a man who was rapidly finding a deep and resonant place in her 227 . iridescent glow of the trees then curved around behind her. electric-blue wings that stretched out so wide as to reach from one side of the tower to the other.” Alex slipped into his jacket. With two more strokes of his huge wings. He skimming the glittering.generated onto living things when caring human hands have been at work on them for a number of decades. Livvy.” she exclaimed. Within a half a minute it had raised him above her head. the middle bit rises up. Two more strokes lifted him above the trees and he continued to circle whilst rhythmically and gently pulling back on the tips of his wings just enough to keep his momentum up.” “All right … Well. enthroned within beautiful. “Oh my goodness. He looked so magnificent to her. “It’s beautiful …and it even has an aura of it’s own already …how extraordinary!” Against the rim of brazen Boston ivy.” she whispered. torn between wanting to simply be with him and having him fly for her. “This just takes my breath away!” “Yes. “Stand back against the parapet. “Oh. creeping and twisting over the parapet.out of her perception behind the rim of the tower . gauzy.” “Lets be practical. astonished.to appear again a moment later banking over to one side. he could soar to the most unimaginable heights and then turn. “We’ve only got less than ten minutes. here it is then. Alex. We’ll have lots of time to look. isn’t it just the most wonderful view? I often forget how high up we are when I’m in my comfortable room. translucent enough for the bio-plasmic patterns of the trees behind to be discerned through it. weave and cut through the air with dazzling speed. He was a startlingly bright. He dipped down . spreading. He lifted off into the air just as the stage began to descend again.

looking up at her as he reached for the pole. He let go of the wings and folded his arms around her. so that his long wings arched over to stretch straight up and down with his back facing the ivy covered walls. He unclipped the jacket and let himself down. After he had passed over. He passed just above her head so that she could hear the singing of the finely tined fabric and feel the breeze of his flight on her face. the passion for life and the fullness of feeling that he was capable of. He timed it perfectly so as to lose all upward momentum right over the centre of the deck. She now stood well above him. he wheeled down into the space between the trees and the tower. She had seen him as he really was from the very first moment. What she did ‘see’ was the anxiety in his colours.heart. ‘Does she see me like that?’ he thought to himself. It moved her. She didn’t see him as small at all. She felt relaxed. Gently he pulled the wings forward a couple of times to let himself settle gracefully and silently down onto the central mat. There was time. Livvy rushed up to him and threw her arms around his neck and hugged him. “That was absolutely stunning!” she whispered in his ear. “Shall we go down now?” He looked up at her. morning air. She felt as pliant and warm and vibrant as the gentle breeze had been soft and cool and fresh. Livvy followed his flight as he soared high then dipped his left wing to bank over before sliding into a shallow dive from the high point of his climb straight towards her. What she did realise. She didn’t see a disabled man in a wheelchair as other women did. but it had been enough to let him know how she felt. She didn’t. Now that she saw him in his full glory it only served to confirm what she already knew. They would have a lot of time. She pulled back gently. Someone she could work with. The moment was over. Alex was thrilled at her pleasure. but she wasn’t going to play to it and she kept it to herself. This was a man she felt deeply and wonderfully about. just giving him time to climb steeply up to and over the parapet. She had seen the central purpose and power in his heart. Before Alex could unclip himself. He released a handle and there was a faint click as the wings dropped down into their mantel shape to keep them out of the mild but freshly moving. He felt small and vulnerable without either wings or chair. play with. was his true weakness. He lifted his left wing to straighten and face the tower. live with and love with. His true weakness was his reliance on 228 .

... on the way down. fresh orange juice....... coffee.” he called over his shoulder as he wheeled over to the pole. feeling much fresher after her wash.. Now. .cleverly designed devices to get him around.. sure. “Yes? Do you like it? This is my bed in the middle and my desk is over there.. cereal..” When they had gone up to the roof deck earlier.. Livvy had gone straight past the top room as she followed Rusty on their way to start the flight.. eggs boiling merrily in a saucepan and coffee was dripping through the filter.. There was chilled. Whether it be a wheelchair or a wing suit …if he was without them in the wrong place at the wrong time. she could feel the ambience of the walls and the decor. thanks.. Her own presence was something that was normally as unconscious to her as a blouse that she had put on hours ago.. All of them please. It was now unusually alive and tingling and the part of Alex’s aura ...... toast sitting in the toaster ready to be pressed down...... Shall I see you down stairs in about ten minutes?” “Yeah.... He had his work colleagues come up for meals and discussions and he had enjoyed entertaining them. I’d like that. By the time Livvy was ready. As she did come down.. Boiled egg?” “Will do. It sent a guiding aroma up the stairs to help tantalise her down.. What would you like for breakfast? We have bread for toast. he would be physically open to grave injury and exposure.” “Oooo gosh... “Oh Alex what a cosy and magical room. Alex had become expert in his kitchen over the last three months.... she suddenly became aware of the rich intermingling of their personal atmospheres....... There is a wardrobe and a dresser beside it and I have this other wheelchair up here.. It came quite naturally. This was in part due to her discovering a sudden awareness of her own presence... She instinctively knew that it would be part of her role to make sure that such a thing never happened..........” “Oh yes... Alex had large French bowls out with the option of muesli or corn flakes.. eggs.....which she had 229 . Let me show you where the bathroom is …it’s really nice and spacious.

” “Corn flakes Livvy. He had lived in a tough world for so long .” he replied. “You know. as well. She examined the aura. on the other hand. Just right. They began eating.” She felt a slight disappointment as she realised how different their worlds still were. “You’ve never seen corn flakes before?” “Well of course I’ve eaten them.was extending out and rejoining itself with Alex’s own ambience. Her whole presence beside him …the gentle rustle of her clothes.that there was a certain numbness in his body. was loving it fully. She sat down. It’s just that I’ve never been able to actually ‘see’ them. to loosen a flood of feeling that he was now uncertain of how to deal with. the soft gentle sound of her voice close up. Alex. Alex. Livvy could feel her heart beating and a bit of joyous tension at the back of her throat. They realised how hungry they were and silence descended. that Alex was as enraptured as she was. Alex? You’ve prepared this food so beautifully that I can ‘see’ it all. any less and 230 . Any more and the aura begins to fade. When she reached the bottom of the stair and came over to the table. His hands were huge and powerful. It had suddenly cracked open at this moment. Livvy prised open the top of her egg. Perhaps. the warmth of her body which he could feel on his cheek …awakened in him a buried and unknown set of sensations in his body. Alex …what I’m telling you …is that you’ve done something so thoughtful here that even the corn flakes are carrying a substance. She was aware. He could have crushed her hand but instead his touch was very sensual. She chose to sit beside him and began feeling for the chair. What are they? I’ve not come across them before. even these. he was as yet unaware of the intense rapture in their merging atmosphere even though he himself had done so much to create it. now the flying.carried with her since they had first met . which was dancing electrically between them.the wheelchair racing. without the need of sight. the brush of her sleeve as she reached for something. a scintillating mauve. the weeks with the commandos . her natural body perfume. their individual essences had blended to the extent that there was a new colour. She brushed the back of his hand with her other hand and squeezed gently. yet sensitive as well. Just the slightest hint of runniness is perfect. “Mmm. He squeezed back. glad of something practical to say. She. He moved over and took her hand to the chair-back to guide her. It has to be just right you know.

This was not one of them. It’s very simple!” “Oh. “Well.” he encouraged.” It was Magnus. was looking around with admiration at the abundance of bright and electric effulgence that was filling the room as a result of Alex and Livvy’s blending atmospheres.” “I can do it for you. His chair was upright so that he was just slightly higher than she was in her dining chair. well! What have we here?” Judith asked looking around the room. “Mmm. “I guess I’ll have my work cut out every morning then. then paused. jumped up and went to greet the newcomers. “Alex …” “Uhuh?” “Last night …when you put the covers over me …” “Uhuh. …It was nice …I liked it. Magnus of course thought she was commenting on the decor. Alex. Alex laughed. who had been sleeping in a patch of bright morning sunlight that was streaming through the window slit. when Magnus arrived just at the right moment.the aura is so alive that I don’t want to eat it. and he was sure that there would be many times in the future. What she was actually doing. Judith was following immediately on Magnus’s heels. however. “Alex!! … We’re coming up! … Coffee smells good. “…did you kiss me?” “Oh …well …uh …just on your forehead Livvy. “I think I remember. Alex. …so you’ve solved the age old mystery of how to time a boiled egg then?” “It’s all still a mystery to me. Rusty. His feelings inside were building up again. Neither did she miss the elegant finishing touch 231 . She seemed to sense his approach. He gently moved towards her. Alex.” She watched as his colours both tingled and tensed up.” He looked over at her.” She smiled at him brightly. Alex thought to himself. Something changed and it was as though he saw her at a new level for the first time.” She giggled lightly as she put her spoon in. All I do is to watch the aura and take the egg out when it’s just right. There had been many times in the past.” she whispered softly from the back of her throat as she moved slightly towards him in response.

it’ll be B&EM. I suggested that you go along on this venture too. “I’ve heard a lot about you in the last few hours. you will need to pack a bag for the next four days at least. A car is 232 . I’m Judith. “Haven’t seen anything like this for thirty years. “Alex. Magnus?” asked Alex. “Mmmm. She knew exactly what Judith was talking about. Livvy dear.” Livvy blushed. may well be needed. “Fred is on his way over.” she finished.” stammered Livvy. “You are going somewhere colder than here. I have left instructions at the big house for a survival kit to be put together for you to take as well.” She finished the last word with emphasis. Livvy’s friend.” Livvy replied. The time has come to put all we know into practice. He’s really such a gentleman. Alex. bed and evening meal. That you certainly have. still munching his toast. Is that all right?” “I wouldn’t miss it for the world. a flurry of excitement emerging into another nimbus that was rotating over her heart. “I …uh …fell asleep on the sofa. She could feel he approved. I hear that I’ve been providing you with a bit of light entertainment in the evening skies of late. “Look.of the vibrant mauve interlacing essence that was slowly rotating between the two young people seated at the table.” Judith put her hand gently on Alex’s shoulder.” “Yes. “so Alex kindly brought down a quilt and tucked me in …and then went upstairs. She turned to Livvy.” “What do we need to do. I’m really sorry to break into your little party …” Magnus looked around.” “Yes. Alex. I’m so pleased to meet you up close at last. “Livvy.” Judith smiled. “Yeah …really sorry! Uhm … Something’s come up. We need to pack up the wing suit as it is. “Oh I knew that. “Come home with me then and we’ll pack you a bag. It won’t be B&B.” Alex replied. Even he was beginning to sense what the women were referring to.” Judith replied.” Judith suggested. me too. We have to start preparing right away. We haven’t been introduced. She placed her hand on Alex’s forearm. The skills that you have been developing. What had been going on in the room just prior to Magnus and Judith’s arrival was as clearly perceptible to the two women as the walls and furniture were to the two men. You won’t be sleeping much at night so we’ll have to make arrangements for us all to sleep in the day.

” Magnus turned and went down the stairs. he had packed for such an event weeks ago and so had little to do until it was time to go. Magnus saw them off at the top of the stair and soon Judith. It will leave me down there. the mauve nimbus created between himself and Livvy. All you have to do is get yourself down to the front gate. The clear definition of the rough high cliffs which stretched away either side.” he replied. Chapter 26 North Sea Nightmare Unlike the south coast that Alex was used to.waiting to take us and it will bring you back here as soon as you’re ready.” “Okay. She now felt self-conscious because of the presence of the older pair. “I’ll just finish up here and I’ll be down in a while. Magnus turned back to Alex who was looking a little perplexed by the sudden and rapid change of events in the last few minutes. He started to clean up. He looked at Magnus questioningly. the north-east coastal waters were cold. Unnoticed by him.” Judith began to head down the stairs. “I’ll fill you in during the drive. She got up and followed Judith. had their own striking power and impact. Alex. That fact certainly didn’t make the scene any less beautiful. As for his part in the next few minutes.” he said. “I’ll have Ross come and collect your things and we will go in about an hour or so. Livvy and Rusty were being whisked off by car down the road to Northton. They jaggedly ripped through the neatly farmed 233 . resolved itself into a fine wisp before drifting over to settle itself down in a beam of morning sunlight that was streaming through the eastern window. Livvy squeezed Alex’s arm. Magnus. Alex looked ruefully at the unfinished breakfast on the table in front of him.

There would be danger involved. as the fading warmth of the late June day let the air cool down minute by minute. differed significantly in her perception from his. It was a quiet still moment after a long drive. silently. Very soon they were going to be putting into practice. punctuated the ruffle of the wind as it tumbled over the bracken. Alex was already wearing his wingsuit jacket. the glorious red of the setting sun was behind him. flavoured heavily with the abundant. 234 . were reflecting it with a ruddy topping to the dark grey-black waves. but the awareness of what they were about to do was gradually returning to them. the skills and abilities that they had been developing for so long. Livvy was crouched down beside Alex with her arm on the rest of his chair. normally white. The freshness of that same breeze. Every so often. the other half being torn away to some other part of the universe to let the sea rush in. Being a seascape that faced east. filled her nostrils and lungs with a cool salty tang. This melded through to her heart as well as filling her lungs. talking on the radio. but now as the evening was closing in. He had been in the sleek dark van which was pulled up onto the rough ground just back from the cliff edge. Magnus came over. The distant flashes of the breakers. etheric essences of the living vegetation that covered the imperceptible cliffs underneath as they cascaded down to break up the faint hue of luminescence that was the sea. Still they would be a dizzy fortress for anyone attempting to scale them. he could see that some parts of the cliffs were almost vertical for the full fifty metres of their height whilst others sloped as low as forty five degrees. a lull in the air flow allowed a little zephyr to bring her the body scent of Alex. In other circumstances they could easily have got much closer still. it would be a wonderful place for watching the morning sunrise. the heather and the gorse. the beauty of the scene that lay before them and the deep pleasure that they had in each others company was all that they were aware of. Hers was a panorama of tumbling. The sounds of the breakers hitting the rocks far below. This same scene for Livvy. rough plant life. For this moment however. light fabric of which was keeping him warm. the thick.fields behind. Livvy shivered slightly and placed her other hand over Alex’s and moved closer to him. almost as if some giant blunt pinking shears had cut through the landscape. From where Alex was. They stayed like this for quite some time. His arm was over hers gently lying on her hand.

being so close to here?” “Who knows. “When do you think I should get aloft?” “Pretty soon to be certain of covering as much of the night as possible. They’re not fools over there. ready if they make any radar contact. they may well have night scopes. but I don’t think so for the same reason we aren’t using it. the same cutter detected the flier two days ago and they know that.“I’ve just spoken to the Coast Guard. so we will have to wait and see what happens.” 235 . The Coast Guard is about three kilometres offshore and about fifteen kilometres north of here. Other than that nothing.” “Okay.” “Do you think that they might have radar too?” Alex asked.” he said. stay away from buildings. Our advantage is that the Coast Guard has a legitimate reason to be there and so it’s presence shouldn’t cause them alarm. There are a number of vessels in the area which might possibly be the one. where they can leave the lights blazing without causing suspicion. so be careful. By the way. “I thought about that Alex.” responded Alex.” “Do you think Fylingdale might be the target. so the other side would have their work cut out if that’s what they’re going for. especially if they have lights on in case they see you. They’re probably in some easily identifiable place like a remote farmhouse. They’re small and light and don’t reveal your presence. well off shore. it is close. of course there is a background from Fylingdale. so they may hold off while it’s around. but still. They may well have radar detectors which we also have. rubbing his hand for warmth. If you can locate the reception party without being detected. they’ll probably only be first generation ones. Radar makes a huge broadcast. referring to whoever would be waiting for the flier of the ground. On the other hand though. I would like you to fly well up with a good height. They are unlikely to come ashore here so near the port. then we’ll follow them and see where they go. I really don’t think they attached much importance to the whole incident until we got onto them. but it could be anywhere over a twenty kilometre stretch north of here. Where we are now is just north of Scarborough. This is just south of where he flew from last time and your right. If they do. I suspect that they are probably a bit inland. Oh yes. Ours is picking up the Coast Guard and that only faintly and we’re getting some stuff from some of the shipping. “They lost contact with the vessel yesterday as they moved out of range to put into port.

Alex had circled until he was so high that she could perceive him as little more than one of them. She followed him with her perceptions as he gained sufficient height. That would have to be it. He came immediately to her side.” she whispered softly. “Speed well. He was only distinguishable from the mass of the star-fields by his colour. She could perceive the star that was Alex beginning to move through the night sky. “Alex …I’m heading north. there was no point in hanging around. “Go on now. He circled tightly getting higher and fainter with each revolution. He pulled himself up and clipped his jacket on. They seemed as tiny vortexes yet with no magnitude. so Alex climbed down and slid under the tail assembly. Fred and Ross had the wing suit mantled down. As he neared the auric tumble of plant colour.“Well … Let’s go then. Livvy’s auric awareness around her had deepened to the extent that she could. He responded with three strong pulls on the wings to move him forward over the edge.” He looked over at Livvy. Almost immediately a gust lifted him back and up. They had agreed to essential silence. 236 . Magnus came over and pressed a headset into her hand. He soared over the bluff and seemed to find a thermal from the fading warmth of the day. discern stars as faint pinpoints of life. It was almost totally dark but Alex noted that a faint glimmer from the setting four day old moon had caught a tear in her left eye. There was no room in front for his chair to go. pressing against the mass of rock and surging up. He reached out and gently touched it with his finger. She was aware of how full the sky was of these as she looked up. It was poised on a grassy knoll on the brink of the cliff.” she said. It lifting him high into the air. thought Alex. Soon Livvy could perceive the rose-colour of his radiant presence far out over the sea. like Judith. He had already made a cursory check of the wing suit and Fred had gone over everything thoroughly. She felt his gaze and lifted the hand that lay on hers and kissed it. She put it on and the hissing sound of being on-air filled her ears. He then turned and entered a shallow dive straight at the cliff a couple of hundred metres south of where she stood. She called gently to Rusty who had been allowed to wander amongst the surrounding terrain. She realised that she needed to stand back to make it easy for him. circling and climbing. and stood up.” came his voice over the set. she could sense the wind. From there he could dive for speed. He pulled back strongly and lifted the wings out of mantel mode and they clicked into place. that is to speak only if absolutely necessary.

They went through two tiny hamlets as well as scattered farm buildings. Still attached to her atmosphere was the little nimbus of Alex’s aura. “Come on.Ross touched her elbow. They were giving him erratic but vital 237 . “He’s well ahead in the north. I don’t think he is though because he is too far away to be distinguishable. well to the north. His ears were tuned to the music from the sensors on the wings. She was beginning to understand why Judith had got into the habit of going out of a night. with Rusty jumping up beside her. Ross drove back out to the coast road and then drove steadily north at about thirty kilometres per hour with dipped lights. Part of him wished for a larger night scope but he knew how much they weighed and even as it was with the small one that he did have. Behind the van was the four-wheel drive vehicle which Ross had driven up in. wondering if it could help her. This was to keep their noise and visibility levels down.” Ross didn’t understand the logic of her reasoning but he and Magnus had agreed to trust her perceptions. The moon had now set but her awareness of the brilliant display of stellar aura was engrossing. just to watch. the nimbus quivered slightly and rose up into the air above her. He was pulling on the wings quite regularly to maintain his height and direction. It caught her attention. They turned off the main road at the second hamlet and continued along a narrow lane. As if in response to her question. Alex was scanning the darkness below him. They drove on. the sustained flight was taxing him. It hovered and stretched out so that her perception was looking along it quite low to the north.” she told Ross. She focussed on it. but so sure was she that the nimbus could be relied on that she got back in the car. They got in. Livvy had her head set glued to her ear but all she could hear was the faint hiss of static. Covering airspace with a purpose however. was hard work. it’s time to go. With free flying it was possible to seek out the rising currents and glide easily between them.” She followed Ross’s shape through the dark with Rusty at her side. He was beginning to find out the difference between following a planned route and free flying. She still couldn’t detect his presence. this time a little faster. High above and indeed. They stopped twenty minutes into their journey and Livvy got out and searched the sky above her. She searched the sky for Alex with little success. “Either that or he’s lost a lot of altitude.

four. flash. He wondered if that was the ship that the flier would start out from. flash. and by moving his head. He traced it’s course as it passed through some small villages. alert and following his movements. he could make out short yellow jewelled necklaces of the A171 that they had travelled up on earlier that day. to the south. just south of where he had started from. instead of going with the currents as with free flying. the silence and low visibility that he could. he thought as he searched the dark void below. he could make out the occasional faint phosphorescence of the breakers on the rocky shoreline. To the west. if he had more experience of the area could have given him a vague idea of where he was. six. one. was very reassuring for him. Again. with the exception of the fliers who were his quarry. They each had their sequence of flashes and spaces between. three. The pupils of his young eyes were now dilated the full seven millimetres. In order to maintain the speed and the extremely low profile however. was stealth. once located. two. two. They were for one purpose only. No other human being in the world. They were of little use for navigation however. four. Flash. Instead he was relying on what Fred had taught him about triangulating the beacons of light houses. flash. well to the north-north-east. This would have been so even if he didn’t feel the deep passion that he did for her. indeed the purpose of his being there. As it was. five. He could look through them by straining his eyes upwards. Below him. He was beginning to have a real respect for her abilities. That would be Scalby Ness Rocks. flash. Out at sea he could make out the faint running lights of a ship or trawler. flash. to track the flier. as only the eyes of the young can do. he had to rely almost entirely on his natural perceptions. the thought that she was down there somewhere. It weighed down on his neck muscles. as they were ‘times 5’ magnification. The one advantage he had. three.information about the subtle changes in air currents. could move with the speed. one. Closer and behind him. flash. now he often had to fight them in order to maintain his course. This. one. flash. That would be Whitby. If he had Livvy’s perceptions. The half-kilo weight of the small night scope. 238 . On the drive up he had been pouring over coastal maps of the region complete with light house location and frequency. and only covered only a small field. he would be very well equipped. one. mounted to point forward and down in front of his forehead was adding to the burden. There was one now.

He had another kilometre to go but was moving at a pace. They’re trying to skirt the Coast Guard. He could even hear it above the high notes from the sensors. Estimated landfall still five kilometres north of Scalby Ness. to go. Alex’s mind was racing with heightened alertness. That would 239 .The earpiece of his head set crackled. then stopped. He would arrive too soon. Scarborough. He knew it would be important as they were maintaining essential silence.” Alex estimated his height to be about twelve hundred metres. He went into a shallow dive. He was aware that the fliers had spent months and months flying over cliffs and mountains and that they would know what to do with an instinct that didn’t even need thinking about. “Magnus: Flier now off their screen.” Alex checked his clock again and did some quick maths. His mind clicked an idea into place. That way he would get a free lift from the wind hitting the cliff as he passed over. “Magnus: Flier incoming. It flashed twice. then banked and turned a full half circle. He went for height and climbed to 150 metres. fifteen hundred metres off coast. The beam was pointed directly at him. Will turn and dive.” “Alex: I’m well north of there. He had thought things through and figured that the flier would aim for just above the lip of the cliff tops. then twice again. Suddenly his sensitive eyes were caught in the bright beam of a torch shining up from below. “Oh. Projected landfall five kilometres north of Scalby Ness Rocks. forgetting as usual to say his name. There was no doubt about that and there was no doubt that the sequence was a signal. He checked the illuminated clock in his helmet. My estimate eight kilometres north. Soon the wind was howling in his ears. The wingtips folded back with the pressure of his speed and within a minute he was a mere fifty metres above the cliff tops heading south along the coast at a rate of a kilometre a minute. Estimate. Flier’s just skirting the edge of their range. If he continued to fly south they would watch him do it and then see the real flier come in.” “Magnus: Good. Travelling at 22 knots. He could feel his speed build up as he lost altitude. The flier was slower and had about a kilometre and a half. That’s about forty kilometres per hour. nuts! They’ve got night scopes and they think I’m the flier! They’ve just signalled me!” Alex instinctively broke radio silence.

Whether this was through damage or simply by being cut off by the mass of rock enclosing him. damp. He unclipped the wingsuit jacket away from the body of the 240 . The wing was torn and he was injured in some way. This was dangerous. Clinging onto it now though. Now he was cold and wet and badly bruised. He was physically exhausted from his flight. “I’m going down!” he radioed as he banked left. he would not be able to recover flight and he would probably career to his death on the rock below. Mentally. The radio was dead. stone studded grass. turned out to sea and dove down behind the cliff. ‘From where they are. He was now skimming only five metres above the breakers and his speed had been built up by his dive. and to land quickly. They must not see two fliers at one time or the game would be up! He must also get away from a possible sighting from the other flier. it felt like hanging onto a vertical wall! He grabbed tufts of the long grass. not properly mantled down was being repeatedly buffeted up by one wing and then dropped again. ‘it will look to them as though the flier was going south looking for them. stalled and dropped onto the slope. His arm and shoulder began to throb painfully. A hiding place! He turned towards it and began to climb. He finally found a secure hold on some stony outcrops.’ his buzzing mind reasoned. The wind was getting up and the wing suit. banked to turn.’ Alex figured that he needed to land. He tried to remember what his last message to the others had been. His head was now angled so that the night scope could pick out the detail. Looking up he could see a jagged notch in the skyline where the star-fields seemed to bite into the cliff. Some came away in his hand.expose his presence to them! He had to act so fast that he couldn’t think things through. he was reeling after the intense alertness and effort that had drawn on. he turned vertical. If he slid off. saw them. and at the last instant. The forty five degree slope looked like a safe platform from the air. dipped down behind the cliff and then they’ll see the real flier come in as if he had circled round to come back up to land beside them. It looked like a smooth grassy cut. He felt a crunch followed by the sound of a wrench of fabric as the wing suit tore on the rock. he didn’t know. This was followed by a sharp pain in his right arm and shoulder as he thudded into the cold. No time to think! As he climbed he lost speed. The adrenaline rush was beginning to wear off.

wings. The stout. thirty metres above the wave-pounded shoreline below and he would be suffering from exposure if he was not wakened from his unconscious state in the very near future. Probing cold-air fingers found their way into every opening of his clothing. had been chilled by its journey across the North Sea. cooling his shocked body even further. without his weight. 241 . During his childhood. It dropped several metres down the notch and became jammed at a crazy angle between some large rocky outcrops. It was his intent to rest for a just brief moment but as he let his helmet lie against the rocks so that his head nestled into its soft. light material of his jacket both protected him and gave him some warmth. he would shoot down and out over the cliff face. He was out of radio contact with the smugglers near the cliff-top just above him. a blackness swept over him and he slipped into unconsciousness. Despite this. He was clinging to an outcrop of rock. His mind kept telling him he must get higher and make radio contact. The wind which had been rising for sometime. with no wheelchair or friends around. He was lucky to have landed so well! He crawled slowly up the steep. beyond the pain. The wing suit. His right arm contradicted by telling him he must stop and rest the fiery cauldron of pain that surrounded his shoulder. Alex sometimes had disturbing dreams in which he was left stranded in some bleak place. He fell back and was wedged in above it. Alex was in trouble. and dropped fully down onto the damp grass. he managed to pull himself up and around an outcrop of rock. it was no rest for his bruised body. He was on such a slope that if he released his grip on the rough handholds even a little. If those dreams were disturbing. He was now really grateful for the weeks of commando training that Magnus had had the foresight to put him through. it was a slow descent into the deep chill of hypothermia. beyond even the nightmare. His right arm now felt like he was being stabbed with a badly sharpened knife every time he had to use it. rock-studded slope. With a mighty effort from his left arm. enclosing protection. The jacket had been designed with this very situation as a secondary criteria. He hadn’t seen those from below. The small wheel helped him drag his torso over the rough surface. was beyond sleep. The unconsciousness he slipped into however. was whisked back by the wind. Use it he must. this predicament was an absolute nightmare. He had only his two arms and the wheeled jacket and that was all that was available for him to cling on with. though.

Scarborough. Flier’s just skirting the edge of their range. “Magnus: Flier incoming. Projected landfall five kilometres north of Scalby Ness Rocks. Suddenly their head sets came to life. They’re trying to skirt the Coast Guard. Livvy was following the rose coloured nimbus which seemed to her to be pointing out the direction where Alex was.Chapter 27 Angels Livvy and Ross were continuing to drive north along the narrow lane which ran just inland from the cliff.” 242 .

A stone to be avoided there.” “Magnus: Good. Will turn and dive. He could hardly believe his eyes even though it was so dark there was very little light for his eyes to see. Ross slowed to a stop and she jumped out just in time to perceive Alex’s dive in the distant east. keep focussed. She was alpha! Livvy’s atmospherics. they were gone. She was his pack. follow here to jump the stream. Suddenly Livvy. extended beyond Rusty and he followed their direction. “Oh. My estimate eight kilometres north. he in turn guided her over every fine detail. “He’s coming down. “I’m going down!” It was Alex’s beloved voice over her headset. He turned the landrover around and it was as they began retracing their route south that the first alert came from Alex over their headphones. At the same time. Ross! Let me get out and look!” It was Livvy and she spoke with urgency. he knew exactly what to do. He sensed her do this and 243 . nuts! They’ve got night scopes and they think I’m the flier! They’ve just signalled me!” “Stop. For a full two minutes they covered ground fast. maintain attention on the ‘alpha dog’. in the manner that they had perfected together. move with speed and stealth with the pack. They didn’t want to get too close however and alert their quarry. Rusty headed off in the direction his mistress had indicated.“Alex: I’m well north of there. halted. Ross had a small light on the end of a flexible tube fixed to the dash board.” Ross and Livvy were also further north than the estimated landfall. What he saw thrilled him. literally! I just know it! Come on Rusty we’re going after him!” “Hang on Livvy!” Ross called after her. He couldn’t even see his hand in front of his face. but it was too late. leapt a stile and disappeared out of the dimmed headlights as assuredly as if it was broad daylight! He switched off the lights. Be quiet. He glanced back towards her with his auric sense. The hunting aura. The two of them had run down the road. That was what was really unbelievable. He quickly glanced at the O/S map and could see a way of getting reasonably close to the point. over this way to the gap in the hedge. He had never seen it before but so built into his instinct was the signal that he knew it instantly and what’s more. Livvy leapt back and grabbed her survival bag from the seat.

only one more trip. however could pick out the individual words. Rusty needed no such telling. “Come. Even though their hearing was ultra-sharp. Rusty. Livvy was astonished by what was before her. She could discern.” she whispered. “You’re tired … I can understand that … I’m very impressed … Twenty kilometres. Livvy. “Okay … You rest for a bit now … but you must go back soon … Then. The two of them moved stealthily forward. It was then that she noticed the duller. was the near-white aura of the flier. the faint blue luminance of the wings as he skilfully . She interpreted what she heard to herself as he spoke. about two hundred metres in front of her in the direction of the cliff tops. It was the near-whiteness that amazed her as much as the startling similarity that the figure had to Alex. it has a lot of energy in it. neither of them could scarcely hear the sound of their own movement. He waited for her command. It was probably a drink being offered. I promise …then you stay here … Next time one way only … You rest up … I have talked to the captain.even more skilfully than Alex in fact . For normal ears. Livvy too was bent low.halted as well. their voices would have been a indistinct murmur carried on the wind. Soon they were within twenty metres of the trio who had gathered around the flier. The others remained silent and the flier appeared to either nod or answer in quiet monosyllables. but even so she was entranced.” The shape of the man extended an arm to the flier who was sitting in some kind of a chair. The only aura that she had ever seen like it was Judith’s. It was something she might have expected if she had given it some thought. Rusty was so low that the hair of his belly was dragging the ground. Phew! … I guess every two days is too often … Have some of this. just as with Alex. Livvy signalled her intent with a swirl of her atmosphere … Rusty paved the way with a nimbus of his own that detailed the minute detail of the terrain immediately before them. more colourful and erratic auras of three others on the ground. quietly. He wants to move to another area 244 .hovered momentarily before gracefully dropping to the ground. Hovering in the air. Their teamwork had automatically shifted into a gear not before experienced between them. He must have slipped out of his wing suit. They were speaking in Arabic. This was her subject! All the talking was being done by one man. he could perceive what she did. realising that she was really only speaking for her own benefit. On following her intent.

She realised that she had heard enough and that she really needed to continue to look for him. “Livvy. We haven’t moved.” “Ross here. We’ve been waiting. Just had an encounter with the reception committee. the importance of which had not escaped her. The next trip will be the last one and it will be one way. Where was he? Her head set was on and she had heard nothing from him. Out of the corner of her attention. he is. Has anyone heard anything?” “Magnus here. she thought she could risk a contact. He will return in seven nights. After two more minutes. They didn’t see us. Livvy perceived him move over to the faintly shimmering blue outline of the wings.” The flier murmured back. come in seven … one week … Fly back now and rest and look after yourself … You rest for seven days and then we will be right here again about the same time … you come. No Livvy. lifting off with sheer elegance into the starry sky and head off out over the sea. but we got close enough to hear them. Now that the trio and the flier had left. I’m very worried about him. ‘but then again. she was aware of the white aura. I’m looking for Alex.for a week … Says he feels that the Coast Guard are around … He said they came two days ago … They saw something strange on their radar … He will bring you back in one week … Let things cool down … Don’t come in two days. in one weeks time. She directed Rusty to skirt round to the north of the huddled group. She also knew that she and Rusty had to get well away from the trio before they dispersed in case the two of them were discovered as the trio made their way back to the road. and lift himself up into place. Livvy could hear the sound of a car start up behind them and heard the sound of the vehicle making it’s way down a track to the narrow road. ‘How remarkably like Alex. and this time you stay. The flier came and has gone back out to sea. She didn’t so much as cast her attention back.” 245 . so intent was she on finding Alex. Alex’s whereabouts was the paramount thing in the back of Livvy’s mind. this is where Magnus got the idea from.’ Although fascinated by the conversation. but at a distance. They continued their silent pace toward the cliff tops. We haven’t heard a thing. We will bring something to carry your wings away and we’ll have a nice home for you. That is. She reached up and pushed a button.’ she thought. incoming only. I’m following the reception committee.

There was no call to rush from him. She was aware of his aura making it’s way down in front of her. Carefully. It was grassy and steep. leading them relentlessly to the brink of the cliff. lodged in someway. no impatience that she had to go faster or take any risks. He just waited. Ross. He couldn’t be dead with this little part of his aura so alive! Rusty whined gently. down into the notch. She carefully edged over to the brink.“Magnus. Beneath her was the faint. still dancing before her. We’ll sort Alex. she thought to herself with relief! 246 . ever so carefully. Magnus. She gasped as she felt a deep choking sensation in her throat. He seemed to want to go down. She put her hand to her mouth to stifle a cry. He must be alive. His aura was faded. I’m getting a sense of where he is. she edged her way after Rusty. and wait. that she was more good to him waiting for Magnus whilst remaining at the top. This verdant tapestry also showed her something of the way down. As they reached the lip. probably by large unseeable rock outcrops. Just one hundred metres north of the landfall site. What worries me is that my sense is that he’s over the cliff!” “What!” This time it was Magnus forgetting his protocol. blue luminescence of the wing suit. His auric nimbus had led her here. Yes there it was. It danced ahead of both herself and Rusty. Rusty was so sure-footed that he had no trouble making his way. It was tipped at a crazy angle. It was still distinctly his but quite weak. beckoning and guiding her. Another part of her instinct told her to go down. Part of her instincts told her that it was too dangerous. “Fred’n’I are coming over there now!” Livvy’s sensing of where Alex was had been coming to her from the swirl of Alex’s aura that had continued to stay with her. It’s paramount. Livvy realised that they had reached the top of a deep ravine-like cut in the rock face. She went with the second impulse. bit by bit. He would go down a ways. He must be alive. ‘He’s alive’. shimmering. He must be alive. It was then that she stopped short. Livvy where are you?” “Livvy. She had gone down about five metres when she became aware of Alex well below her. She knelt down backwards and slid gently. that he needed her and needed her now. You continue with that. Okay. There was no judgement. but she was aware of the shape of it through the emanation of the living grass.

this nimbus which was always with her and which had just led her unerringly to this very spot. so that we can find you. Just. Next to it however and merging with it was another aura. was the rose-colour of Alex’s aura. gently but perceptibly moved forward towards the child form. wan. the swirling part of Alex’s aura which even at this moment was dancing before her. I’m going to go down to him. just north of the landfall site. diminished but clearly recognisable. careful as she was. It took Livvy another ten minutes to reach them. As she waited in stillness.” she called softly. you be careful.” She continued down the slope towards Alex’s aura which she could make out below her. the child form began to change. The child form seemed to reach out a hand and touched the edge of the nimbus. She felt the urgency now. as she would have expected. She should have called before going down. Livvy felt her hair stand on end for the nimbus wasn’t just a part of Alex. Rusty reached them first and the child form seemed undisturbed by him. Livvy felt a compulsion to move 247 . “Livvy here. Although the child was much smaller. Strange as this apparition was to her. He’s alive but his aura is distinctly pale. this part of Alex. Can you hear me?” The answer came back through a haze of static. auric presence. As Livvy drew near however. to see how he is. Suddenly she paused in her descent. There below her. Magnus. Livvy.” “Livvy. she instinctively knew that this was a caring presence for the vulnerable form of her friend below. Alex is about half way down a large notch in the cliff top. She paused …the child form. Don’t you think it would be better for you to be up at the top.“Alex. Then I’ll come back up again. Yes I can hear you.” “Magnus. it was also a part of her as well. I’m just going down a little ways. “Magnus. It was fully formed and integrally linked to Alex’s pale. This vibrant green ethereal presence was not the aura of a man but one of a child. There was no answer. She turned on her headset. also seemed somewhat akin to her own attendant nimbus. in an unworldly sort of way its aura was able to hold and encompass the larger adult form of Alex. She knew that she must reach Alex but she was cautious about disturbing the attendant presence.” “Livvy. whilst still that of one very young. Something extremely unusual had caught her attention.

Yes. Twenty minutes later. She held him tightly and kissed his forehead. only the night before. you must go up and get help. she thought to herself. feeling for each stone and rocky outcrop as she went. “Rusty. sounded in her ear. the child form seemed to get closer and at the same time more diffuse. It was tinged with lichen and she could just barely make it out. it was more like it had expanded so much. She felt bathed in love. The dog had been leaning against her. “Alex! Alex! Are you all right?” she cried placing her hand alongside his cheek.’ she thought to herself as she watched him from over the huddled form of Alex. A love not unakin to her own deep feelings. ‘He makes it look so easy. He felt so cold that he wasn’t even shivering. so much had happened since then. the static of her headset.forward. nimbly climbing back up the stonestudded grass. How long ago was that night when he had done that to her? Amazingly. that its substance was diffuse beyond perception. conserving their mutual warmth. His body was responding to her attentions. “Rusty!” She called. Thank God we found you. She opened her survival bag and got out the space blanket. As she did so. When Livvy finally reached Alex. Soon he was shivering almost uncontrollably. It was very light and designed to hold in warmth through it’s reflective surface rather than through any inherent insulative properties. “Go… find Magnus!” Rusty seemed to understand. Alex was lodged against a large rock. Go… find Magnus… go” she pointed up the slope. What can you do?” 248 . it wasn’t as though the child form had disappeared. Alex moaned gently and opened his eyes. more spread out. Livvy got down beside him. She wrapped him in the blanket and in turn wrapped her arms around him. It was very cold and clammy and she felt a strong choking sensation in the back of her throat. Are you all right? Rusty is up here. She found it hard to believe. “Magnus here. That was a good sign. his voice dull with cold. He started to shiver. “Uuuuuh… Livvy… I’m… I’m so glad to see you…” he whispered very faintly. larger. We’re down here Magnus. He got up and Livvy could make out the shape of his aura.” “Livvy.

not much surprised him. The two soldiers had been briefed by Magnus.. We’re still trying to keep this low profile..... The rope sizzled through his hands as he counted out the eighteen metres onto a coil on the ground. They could also see the girl’s guide-dog Rusty. The morning light was just breaking over the north-east sky line... The soldier paused in his descent only enough to encourage the sled on its downward journey. then steadily.... The soldier dropped the coil of abseil rope into the cut below him..... Vivid pink and scarlet streaks raked vertically across gathering clouds on the horizon. We had a small team of Royal Engineers on standby for this operation....000 O/S map and measured the depth of the cut. Looking down...... he could see the glitter of the space blanket in the semi-darkness.. The whole thing had taken only two minutes to set up and put into action... I’ve called them in.. off you go mate. They knew that below they would find a crashed hang glider and the pilot who had been injured and who was also an ‘amputee’ having no legs... Twenty metres down the fifty metre cliff. Magnus had tied him up as he would otherwise most likely try to show them the way down..” ...... They are just setting up. The two people in the cut were probably some five metres up from the bottom... One of them will be down to you shortly.” whispered his anchor man.. as he pushed a stretcher/sled down the cut. rapidly and silently walked backwards down the forty-five degree slope..... he had played out the rope and fixed the safety line onto his harness.. Magnus held onto the rope that lowered the sled.. “Right. leaned to test it.. As a professional.... One set up a belay point on a rock outcrop whilst the other measured out abseil rope. The two men worked with amazing speed in the near darkness. He would go down on a single line with not much to spare so-as to not drop the rope on those below.. otherwise we’ll blow the whole thing.. They had looked at the detailed 1:25. Suddenly a gust of wind caught something and his eye moved towards it. but this was really something! There dimly lit by the 249 ..........“Magnus..... Within less than a minute. Within a further minute he was just above the rock outcrop where the two were huddled... He asked to be instructed by the anchor man. who was now sitting at the top..... They would also find a blind girl who had gone down to his aid.

turning to him with her body rather than her eyes. “He was pretty much in a state of shock when I first got to him. I’ve been with him for about three hours and he’s in better condition now. they would spring back and forth gently as if trying to break free of the rocks and regain the freedom of flight in the air. “Can you hear me. young man?” he asked. With Livvy guiding him gently. gathered his wits “Yes. He was surprised however by the paradox of his lightness and at his obvious upper body strength. it’s me. “I’ll try.” He lowered himself the rest of the way down to the figure of the girl who was just standing up. still on the ground.” Jack. and I’ll come down to fetch you as soon as we have Alex safely up top. came from beside the glittering fabric below him. Alex mumbled softly in the affirmative. “You wait here. She knelt down beside the figure.” she replied. The soldier. knelt down beside her and examined the figure of Alex. Call me Jack. “Hi. Jack was easily able to lift Alex onto the waiting sled. It’s mounted on a kind of sled and fixed onto a rope.” she spoke softly an her voice trembled slightly with emotion but he could hear her clearly. She was deeply concerned about Alex and didn’t want him to be taken far from her care. Occasionally caught by the movement of the wind.” “Okay. “Whoa? Would you look at that?” he whispered to himself softly. “He’s got some kind of injury to his right shoulder. was the most amazing pair of wings he had ever seen. Pretty painful. She sensed and admired Jack’s ease on the rock face.first hints of dawn and jammed almost vertically into the bottom of the cut. a young woman’s. It’s Livvy isn’t it. Jack had been told what to expect with respect to Alex’s physical makeup.” He hadn’t really caught her meaning. We’re going to get you on it and then we’ll guide it back up the cut. Alex mumbled in the affirmative. It looked much more like a giant relic from the age of dinosaurs then a man-made glider. There was something in his agile presence that she 250 .” she said simply. He recognised it as a space blanket. “Hello? Is someone there?” the voice. “Okay Alex. keeping him away from the sharp rocks. He unlashed the straps from the sides of the stretcher and soon had Alex securely fixed. I have a stretcher here. Okay?” Again. The sight of it in the early morning rose-light brought him up short.

He saw Livvy waist high in the cut. She frowned and zipped up her jacket. and she could feel him looking down at her T shirt and the shapely contours that the wet fabric clung to under her open jacket. She wanted to get over to Alex and he was standing in her way. She noted the places where he stepped and the hand holds. turning.” “What!” said Jack. 251 . she could perceive the rhythm and motion of his atmospheric form moving over the auric pattern of the moss and grass that covered the rocks of the cut. Jack climbed up beside him and guided him onto a flat piece of ground. It was a hint of the voyeur. What she perceived often frightened and angered her and it would be years before she came to accept it as just the way men were. a partially unconscious part of them. How she knew he had no idea and he inwardly kicked himself for letting his professionalism slip. lightly feeling for the last handhold. He noticed it. “Oh . More importantly however. She began to emulate him as he moved up the rock. He spoke briefly into his head set. Within five minutes.” His tone of voice was innocent enough. and knew exactly where it was coming from. lifting it here. “Okay. can you manage Alex. was ever alert to interesting surroundings. unjamming it there. “Well you won’t have far to go.. the sled. “You made so much noise … I could just follow everything you did all the way up. They were hunters at heart. As he began to move gracefully up after it. carrying Alex had reached the top. This was more evident in his aura to her than it would have been to a sighted person simply watching his form. She’s right behind you. the sled with Alex strapped into it began to slide up the cut.. was more of a curse for her than a blessing. In some respects. really?” said Magnus. Livvy’s ability to read the atmosphere and intent of where a man’s attention really lay. she absorbed the quality of movement with which he did it.wanted to learn from. and very shortly afterwards. Magnus? I’m going down for the girl. but there was an incoherent element in his atmosphere that caught her short. yet she couldn’t hide her anger. I was kind of looking forward to coming down to rescue you. she was almost as silent and sure footed as he himself was. She followed him. and a part of them.” “Oh.” She was stretching the truth of course as he had been as silent as she herself had during their ascent..

Livvy.” Livvy responded. “How are you doing?” he asked. I was driven by my concern for Alex. I’ll have Rusty on the front seat with me. Can I go and see him now?” “Yes.” “Well … He means a lot to me. “You were absolutely fantastic down there. Here. His atmosphere had changed back to the way it had been in the cut. Thanks again. of course. “He’s just over there in the van. and he understood. We couldn’t have got out without you.” “Yes. I’m starting to understand what Judith meant when she said that you would be very useful. He was awake enough to recognise her and was very glad that she would be going with him. We’re just about to leave to take him to hospital. I held onto this. it can uproot and you might fall. looking at her in a concerned way. I’m sorry. really …Thank you!” “It’s a partnership thing with Rusty. Amazing. Thank you so much. We’d have been hours finding him without you and he would have been in a dire state. We have a job to do to get that wing thing back up here!” Magnus came over to Livvy. though. Not only that but you managed to spy on the other side on the way over to him.” She smiled at Jack. “I’m absolutely amazed at what you did. 252 .” replied Magnus. Soon the van was speeding off to Scarborough Hospital.” He reached down and tapped on a small rocky hold. really Magnus. “Look. I’ve no idea how you got down there to him but he would have been in a lot worse condition without what you did.“Look. Fred is going to stay here to help the engineers with the wing-suit.” he said kindly. you get going.” “Mmh … I’m sorry too.” Magnus led Livvy over to the van and she climbed into the back with Alex. The two of us work so closely together. Brilliant. Why don’t you get into the back with him while I drive. “I would really like to go and be with him now. “Don’t hold the grass as you come up. His aura was more stable and stronger in both its texture and colour. Clear and decisive.

he became aware that Livvy was sitting by his bed. pushing it into a pout as she rested her elbow on the covers next to him. “Your aura has an unusual pattern here. I guess it’s the healing process going on. As he came to. There’s a swirl that seems to be going round and round.Chapter 28 Reviews and Memories Alex awoke slowly. Her left fingers were curled under her cheek. “Hi. Her touch was soothing. “Hello you. “Your hand feels cool on my shoulder. Even before he was able to open his eyes.” he replied with warmth.” 253 . he was able to look up at her and see that she was smiling slightly. Her right hand was resting gently on his sore shoulder.” she said simply.” she laughed lightly.” “Well your shoulder is warm under my hand.

perhaps by reading her body language . It wasn’t actually too bad a dislocation. “Much better thanks. “Actually.” Livvy called quietly. coming fully into the room. and after looking at me. that now all other pain seems like nothing in comparison …and that’s why I now feel better. It must have taken something to do it in the first place.” “I’d like to think so. which was causing me a great deal of pain …and then you came along. because the pain I now feel is nothing like the pain I felt when you yanked me about. to be serious. so I couldn’t help him and by the time I went and got help. “He actually got too near the cliff edge. Am I right?” Alex gave the man a huge grin. “Come in.“It feels like your hand is helping it. you do realise that I had to do that to put your shoulder back into place. something like that.” “Well. You seemed to understand what I said.” “Well …Let’s see …I had a dislocated shoulder. It was Alex’s doctor. doctor.” 254 . he had been there quite some time.” Livvy cut in. Where from. “How’s my patient?” he enquired. out of the sky?” “Yeah.Alex knew that she was doing this as she let her hand drop down from her cheek to take hold of his left hand. I’m blind. and there is a bit of a sprain as well. How did you do it? They said you fell off your wheelchair.” he answered. she was able to focus her attention on him in a very loving way.” the doctor laughed.” “Not too bad? It didn’t feel not too bad. We call it aversion therapy.” said Alex. managing a slight grin “Good. A man glanced around the door. “Oh absolutely. There was a light knock at the door. You gave me such excruciating pain.” Even though she lacked the ability to look at him directly. the fact is you’re incredibly strong so it took a lot to manipulate you. “and one wheel went over and he tumbled down a bit onto some rocks. but in my experience sometimes a patient needs to be told all over again. Somehow . you yanked and pulled and twisted on my arm.” Alex was stalling. “I’m not sure how much you were aware when I last saw you. wondering what story the others had dreamt up.

For Magnus. “When Rusty and I went out to look for you. I have a guide-dog. Magnus thinks they’re doing so many flights because they are actually smuggling something into the country and having to do it in small parcels because there is only so much that the fliers can carry.” “What time is it? In fact what day is it?” Livvy laughed. One thing’s for sure though. next time you look where you’re going young man. They were speaking an Arab dialect but they weren’t Arabs. You put your lady friend into danger too. Alex. It couldn’t have been a comfortable feeling for her to be out there on her own. For me his landing was unmistakable and I was able to locate the whole group. we managed to get really close to the reception party. About two in the afternoon. He’s downstairs. “It’s still Wednesday. They had what I think were Montanistani accents.” “Hmmh. that’s the big question. that’s right. If you think you can do it quicker. you’re very lucky. “you’ve got more than just yourself to think of now.” Livvy chided him playfully. He wants to see you but doesn’t want to disturb you while your resting. Alex. He’s brilliant.” Livvy said. but your prognosis is good. “You make it sound like I’m the one imposing the decision on you. I wonder what it is. almost white. We were able to get close enough to hear and I could understand them.” He waved cheerily and left.“Well. You could be well on the way in about two weeks.” “Two weeks!” The doctor laughed. We got you here about seven this morning. Their auras were quite bright against the background heather and grass. the both of you.” “Well.” 255 . The x-ray shows only minor trauma.” “When will I be up and about.” “Yes. “Alex. fine by me.” “Yes. the pain won’t lie to you. doctor. It wasn’t a problem. There was one leader who did all the talking and he said that the next incoming flight will be the last and that it will be in seven days. “Actually. The flier in particular was outstanding.” She turned to the doctor. looking quite serious.” “Dislocations are usually four to six weeks.

pretending to hit him with the hand she was holding. turning her face to him as she took his hand and squeezed it.” she said after a few moments. “You’re obviously getting better already. Well …as I headed south. how did you crash?” 256 . “It’s so good to be with you Livvy …really good. Could you do it?” “Gosh.” Magnus and Ross came in shortly followed by Livvy.” he said. I was just looking for you. She smiled.” “He’s not that old.” he said with feeling. I was sure they saw me because the torch was right on me and the way they flashed the light. I was getting ready to do a sweep with my night scope when the reception committee saw me. After a brief exchange of enquiries after Alex well-being. Never mind the button. there you are. “Well. They both looked concerned. looking up at her.” she laughed softly. It was my intent to locate him and then follow him to the rendezvous point. “The only thing that I could think of was to pretend to be the flier. it was obviously a prearranged signal. but could you tell us in your own words?” “Yeah sure. Magnus got down to business. looking up. “We can sort of guess what happened Alex. It turned out that rather than being well back from the coast as we had surmised.’” “It does not. swung around and come straight back up the cliff to land by them. Right on the ball. I’ll go and get him myself. So then.” she laughed and hit him again with his own fist. “I guess we’d better get the old man up here. they were right on it.Alex lay quietly for a few moments. I was adjusting my speed and height so that I would be well above the flier whilst still crossing his path at the same time.’ and then to bank to the east and disappear beneath the cliff so that when the real flier came they would think that he had seen them. “they showed me where the call button is above your head but I daren’t push it in case it’s the wrong button. “it’s a good thing you asked! There’s two buttons there and the other one says ‘push in case of fire.” “Alex. I assume they had their own night vision apparatus and they signalled me with a torch. banked left. I pretended that I was saying to myself ‘Oh. “He’s got a young aura and a lovely deep voice.” he replied.” “Very good thinking.

” “Umh. I haven’t told you yet. It just turned out that it wasn’t quite so smooth …or flat either for that matter. There might be some stuff brewing up. Let’s hope it gets real nasty for a couple of days in a weeks time. I think it would have been worth the risk if you had stayed below the cliff top and had just flown up further north. For one thing we have to repair your wings. Alex.” he responded a little dully.“It wasn’t meant to be a crash actually. Can you be up and flying by then?” “The doctor says not.” “You might be right Magnus. any way. shall we? It was a brave move and you did really well. They’re letting you go now. I would have been in their line of sight. changed and got into the chair and Livvy wheeled him out of the hospital to the waiting car.” “No it certainly wasn’t. Ross will take you to the accommodation we’ve rented and I’m going back to ISD for a few days. maybe …I guess you weren’t to know but they’re only likely to have first generation night scopes and they only have a range of just over two hundred metres.” Alex looked crestfallen. thanks. 257 . I’ll have to clean the dirt off your night scope next time.” “Yeah. He says two weeks. I believe it was the wrong one though. that I would just land for a bit on this nice smooth patch and take off later. They need the bed and they are relatively happy with the state of your injury. That might give us a better chance of you recovering. I thought he might say that. “They’re coming back in a week. I guess it was an on-the-spot decision that you had to make in a split second. Well. “We’ll just put it down to experience. I just thought that rather than risk been seen flying away. I had a look at the long range weather forecast.” “Oh …well …Okay …Sorry.” “Mmh …Okay. for another I have a business to run!” Ross came in shortly with a wheelchair and a change of clothing.” “When can we get out of here?” “Oh yes. but the angle of the cliff gets shallow at about 45 degrees just north of where they were.

a wonderful smell of home cooking greeted them with promises of what was to be on offer come dinnertime. She pushed him out onto a lane which wound up a rise. He would normally be entirely selfsufficient. he’s more than just a boss …” Alex thought for a bit. “How did you feel about what Magnus said?” she asked after some time. he was now reliant on Livvy or Ross to get him around. Their rooms were spacious enough and two had en-suite bathrooms.” “He’s pretty important to you. I guess he’s a bit like a father.Their accommodation was in a secluded farm house. she was able to do the same for him.” said Livvy. the bed. Alex was feeling tired so they took him up to his room to rest for a while before their meal. I feel a bit stupid. As they arrived. It was surrounded by fields of wheat. Dinner lived up to the promise that the welcoming smells had made. only different. isn’t he. There was a distinct nimbus in his atmosphere which she recognised as an element of disquiet of some kind. Alex’s mood was sombre and Livvy thought she knew why. They passed through the farmyard and the potent musk of the animals filled their nostrils. She went softly into Alex’s room and with his guidance. now about knee high. “Yes … I hadn’t thought about that before. putting her hand on the wardrobe. didn’t he. “You mean about me making a mistake?” “Uhuh …and …he also congratulated you on a job well done. like I’ve let him down. “Yes …he did. but with his arm in a sling. Afterwards. I guess I didn’t really hear that. She knew she had hit the mark as the nimbus jumped and became more distinct in colour. the sink and the chest of drawers so that she was able to unpack her things and make herself at home. Ross settled down with the evening paper and Livvy took Alex out in his wheelchair. Naturally enough.” The nimbus turned slightly. They ate leisurely and talked little. Ross was in a twin which he would share with Magnus when he was up. Their hostess showed Livvy around her room.” “I think I know what you mean. “How would you describe the difference?” 258 . pressing him a little. It was a working farm which supplemented its income as a guest house with three bedrooms. I mean.

Again. the most extraordinary thing happened. it’s more like we share a passion. Alex …You were not alone.” Alex was quiet again. I knew there was something in me that needed to get out and yet the racing wasn’t it. She found a flat grassy place at the top of a knoll with a clear view towards the distant coastline. Livvy was aware of this and let him be. Livvy?” Alex was genuinely puzzled.” She waited again. it just feels like this is what I am here for. With Magnus. “I was following Rusty and I could perceive your aura below me. Then along comes Magnus with this project and it just clicked for me. Maybe it’s not true. “I was feeling at a loss. It was a distinctly different 259 .” “What do you mean. It’s just that many people don’t know where to look. My dad’s an accountant. “Well …Your aura was there.” “Do you think that’s true?” “I guess I’d like to. “Just before I met Magnus. I just think she’s the most wonderful person I ever met. When I got closer to you …It was very strange.” Livvy knelt down beside Alex and placed her hand on his arm. The sea was a crisp dark line glimpsed just beyond. He’s concerned about my welfare and stuff like that. I just wasn’t getting anywhere with it. It hadn’t rained for quite a while and the ground was dry and still warmish from what had been a sunny afternoon. but attached to you was the aura of …I would say. I’ve been thinking the same thing. “I guess it’s to do with interests. She placed her cheek next to his shoulder. only about my relationship with Judith. Alex had to ponder.” Alex continued. He was feeling much better and it showed in his atmosphere. “When I climbed down to you last night. but it is the way I feel. My father looks after me.” “Judith told me that everybody has a reason to be here. almost of a child. this time for his acknowledgement. “Alex?” She waited a moment and he responded. weakened but definitely you. only he’s much wiser and more experienced in it.” “I really know what you mean Alex. When I’m flying. I guess if I was passionate about accountancy I might see him in the same way.

“After that the child-form expanded and as it did so. There was a tightness in the back of his throat that she could hear. “The child-form seemed undisturbed by Rusty who went right up to it.” he paused for a short while. the nimbus of you that always stays with me went on ahead. Although she couldn’t see him. slightly taken aback. “Mmhm. the two touched and I felt a huge tingling in my body. However as I approached.” Livvy raised her cheek from his shoulder and took him in. as though it was enfolding you. but his atmosphere had taken on a startled but warm glow. even though her attention had been following the rising of the deep atmospheric within his aura.” Alex murmured his understanding. Alex.aura to yours. “What happened then Livvy?” he asked. “Well. of love. It was through the nimbus that I was able to find you.” Livvy paused. quite bright and it had a green hue. As I climbed down to you it went on ahead. She didn’t urge him on in any way. she could somehow feel that he was looking at her in amazement with no hint of scepticism. 260 . hesitantly. not physically but in its essence. Alex sat quietly for some minutes. “That’s more of a simple shorthand for what really happened.” Livvy. The nimbus is as much a part of me as it is of you. puzzled. but through a strong life essence that was contained within it. and as it approached the child-form. it also seemed larger than you. by the way. “I say almost of a child. not through the visible light of the now fading sun. but waited quietly. you know. waited for a moment before speaking.” Livvy perceived the tear. “What’s this?” she asked. Alex was silent. “You know how I’ve always said that I was born without legs?” he said softly.” Livvy continued. It’s not strictly true.” Livvy confirmed her attention with a light squeeze on his arm. it became more and more diffuse until it was so large and thin that I couldn’t perceive it any more. “Well. His atmosphere was more of shocked understanding than of disbelief. “but there was something otherworldly about it …Although it was small.” she continued. aware of how strange her story actually was. All I could feel was a huge field of …well. She reached out her finger and gently touched it as it slowly ran down Alex’s bristled cheek. It would extend out ahead and I would follow it.

” she said.” 261 .” said Livvy. My Aunt Mary even read about it over here.” He spoke in a monotone as he tried to contain the feelings that he had around an event that was now never talked about. awed. He would have died within minutes if it had not been for my heart and lungs which were abnormally strong.” he blurted out. If we stayed together. Livvy. there was a good chance that gradually we would both have died.” “Last night?” “Yes. Alex. but I’d like to tell you what happened first. some people use the term Siamese Twins. “We had a good set of legs between us. We were conjoined twins.“Go on.” Livvy nodded. Of course I only know what I’ve been told. “Richard and I were joined at the hip.” Livvy spoke his name softly.” Alex began. “Richard died two months after we were born. “Alex.” “Gosh. “I’ve never heard you speak of him. yet he could feel her piercing gaze in his heart as if he was being held under a bright spotlight. almost inaudibly. I’ll get onto that. It means ‘one of twins. “What happened. “You had a brother?” Livvy asked in surprise. Alex Thomas Rogers. The surgeons wanted to separate us… It would have meant Richard dying but me coming out reasonably well formed. Alex could see her violet eyes in the fading light. “Yes. “Your parents might have read about it. They seemed distant and unfocussed. as well as a tiny useless set. My parents had my middle name inserted by deed pole as a mark of respect when I was six months old. “what an awful decision for them to have to make. It put my parents in a quandary. We were joined at the hip. It was a lead story for days in Canada. Alex?” “It all happened a year before you were born.” he repeated even more softly. Richard’s heart was very weak and malformed. They didn’t feel that they could allow anyone to take Richard’s life.” Alex took a deep breath.’ ” Livvy bided her time. I have no direct recollection of it …until last night that is. “I had a twin brother. yet it was almost inevitable that he would die anyway… and put my life at risk as well. “Alex.

I always knew there was something odd going on but everyone steered me away from the subject… until I was sixteen that is. and that was that. I would have died too.” 262 .“Well. She wouldn’t say what it was. “Gosh Alex. What a tough atmosphere to be born into. period. Mom had a dream. Dad was angry but he gave in. Alex! What a thing to have had going on in your life… and you didn’t even know!” “Yes.” “ Goodness me. the only way my Mom and Dad can continue to live together is to avoid the whole subject altogether. What happened then?” “Richard continued to go downhill and my heart and lungs were working overtime to keep us both alive. my parents talked it over and Dad in particular wanted to go down the surgery route. I did survive but only in the condition that I am now in. It made me very close to her. So… they gave me the extra name of Thomas. Then one night. My Aunt Mary told me the real story a couple of years ago during a visit she was making to Canada. just as Richard was on the point of death. but from then onwards she pressed for the surgery to only go ahead. As things have panned out. “Alex?” “Mmhm. “If it hadn’t been for the strength of my heart and lungs.” Livvy pondered on what she had heard. I guess he had to because the surgeons needed both parents to agree. I was born without legs. but I think that the fact that she won’t say means it was somebody pretty significant. I think probably it is the closeness with my aunt and uncle that ensued that drew me here to England. meant that it all went badly wrong. Mom was agreeing with him and the surgery date was arranged.” “What do you think your mother saw in her dream?” “She won’t say. The operation entailed removing Richard’s body including the useless legs and rotating me onto the good set of legs. “On the day of the operation. Mom and Dad had a terrific row but Mom finally won through and the surgery was delayed.she wouldn’t say by whom . Mom said that she had seen a vision in her dream and that she was told . Unfortunately. the wait for Richard’s deterioration and the fact that the circulation to the good legs was primarily his.to delay the surgery. the point came when Richard passed away and the operation went ahead right away.

I never asked what kind. I wheeled my chair up next to a man in a brown robe. “he was your brother. I told him that all I wanted was to just be me with people and to have them be themselves with me. So anyway I told him. I told him I felt really angry. kill Richard and take away your legs for a higher purpose?” “Hang on. and you can fly. I shouldn’t have said that. It was obvious why. Do you think God would intervene in that way? I mean. in fact a possible national threat.” “I know. Richard would have died either way.” Alex gently put his hand onto the nape of her neck and slid it up gently under her hair. I told him what it was like to come into a room and have it go suddenly silent. Then I told him what it was like to be with people when I did get to know them and how there was all this stilted condescending stuff going on. I know. Alex. Anyway we got to talking and I don’t know how we got around to it but I ended up telling him about how I was born and about Richard and all that. “I’m sorry Alex. You’re here.” soothed Livvy softly. 263 . She rested her arm on the arm rest of his chair and leaned her cheek against his shoulder. It’s only my legs that were lost.” Alex sounded agitated.“There seems to be a very significant purpose to your being able to fly as you now can. To see people position themselves so that they wouldn’t have to look at me or even worse to have me come over and talk to them. “I was on a train on my way into Paddington last year. when they wanted and they all seemed to be having a lot of fun doing it. He asked me why. You can now fly because of what happened to Richard and you which in turn happened because of your mother’s dream. I said that everybody else could walk. It turned out that he was a monk. He asked me how I felt about my condition. Out there somewhere are three fliers who are in a similar shape and condition and who it seems are up to no good. He remembered who he was talking to and realised that she did indeed know what it was like. stroking his arm. It was Alex who broke e silence. “What did he say to all that?” she asked. I said that they felt to me like one big clique and that I was on the outside.” Livvy paused. I couldn’t believe it. that they could go where they wanted. Alex hadn’t realised how heated he had become. I thought it was the stupidest question that I had ever heard.

“Well when people see it they immediately think to themselves. He then told me what it was like to walk around in a Monk’s habit. the same is true for you. Do you know what. He said that people sometimes overcompensate for their unease by being aggressive. I told him that he could take his robe off anytime but that I was stuck the way I was without a choice. I said that he had chosen to make that vow. He said ‘Look.“He seemed very understanding like I wasn’t telling him anything that he didn’t know. “Sorry. Kids whispering when he’s in the supermarket. I forgot. there’s a man of God!’ and all things come up in their heads about shame and all that. I suddenly realised something.” she said. “Oh. “Royal Oak station passed by and I realise that we were just about to get into Paddington.” “Well. People move away. ‘What makes you think that you and Richard didn’t choose to come here and do this?’ I just looked at him stunned.” “So. Alex. The robe is part of that. Then he told me about stuff that happens a lot for him that has only happened a bit for me because I’m only young.. Well. The room goes quiet when he walks in. cutting himself off in mid-flow. but I’ve never seen them do it. I’m at ease with myself. There’s also a kind of hood thing that hangs down their back which I suppose they could put up over their heads if it was cold or something. Alex.” he said. I know who I am and why I am here.. They think he’s going to pull a finger out and start pointing it at them and shouting ‘Bad boy!’ and ‘Naughty girl!’ and all their insecurities start pulling them around. heavy. Lovers walking along together suddenly let go of each other as if he would disapprove. what’s the big deal about that?” she asked.. You just haven’t found out what it is yet. He told me that he didn’t have a choice either because he had made a vow.” “What’s a monk’s habit like. “Go on.” “That’s all right. even mean.’ By then all the 264 . I’ll tell you Livvy…” she squeezed his arm. Stilted conversations. Livvy? We were just pulling onto the platform and he turned to me and asked. He said things that I really recognise. plain looking robe that hangs down from their shoulders and is tied with a simple rope around their waist. ‘Whoa.” Alex continued. a monk’s habit is a big. Alex?” she asked.” “Well. “ he then went on to tell me some really familiar stories… only he was older and had more of them than me.

but I do know one thing.” she lifted her face up to his. as if being Brother so and so of the whats’it order was who he was. “What is going on!” Livvy cried in exasperation. it’s only sixteen hours since you were in a state of shock and here I have you out in a full blown gale. Alex responded by pressing her gently with his hand under her hair. He meant more like who he was at a deeper level. pulling her back to him.” She moved closer to him. I must get you into a warm. “I can hear it. searching for him through touch. not to be playing games out in the rain.” “Well… who ever he was. Livvy.” “That’s what I meant too. “and I can feel it in my heart. a man of God. he was certainly at ease with himself.people were getting up and I had to get out of the way and wait for the porter to come along with a ramp so that I could get off. “Every time we get together something happens!” “A little rain won’t stop me. “I wonder who he was.” he said finally. Your job is to get Alex healthy as quickly as possible. “Yeah. he was gone too and I never saw him again. “You know that strong heart of yours?” Livvy nuzzled her cheek against his chest. “Come on you two. it was ‘Whoa! A man of God! I must talk to him. “I guess that’s right. “said Livvy. for you.” she replied.” “So. pounding in my ear. “Oh.” They were both silent for a while.” 265 .” “Maybe that is who he is then. Ross came out to greet them sternly.” “Gosh. dry place right now. Even as he spoke the wind built up and the rain began to come down hard. “who do you think he was then?” “I don’t think he meant ‘being who he was’ in that way.’” Alex thought for a bit. She got up and began wheeling the chair the two hundred metres back to the farmhouse. come on Alex. By the time all the passengers had gone. I probably wouldn’t have had the conversation that I did with him if he hadn’t been wearing the robe.” “Beats me.” She pressed her finger against his lips. The storm struck just as her lips gently began to press into his.” whispered Alex hoarsely.

being there. That’s what I meant by. wrapped in thick dressing gowns and sipping hot chocolate. Alex. It’s not something in my imagination. Alex smiled and looked at her. And there is another thing. Livvy. She could only perceive the man’s warm temperament underneath. Was he there last night? Was it my imagination making it appear to you like he was there? Did you.’” Alex paused as if seeking to find the words for something.” he paused… she waited. Now that you’ve told me about your experience of last night. You came to me. It’s something I’m remembering.” she said softly. ‘Until last night. I’m even more confused. He continued. It was all around us. We were there and couldn’t get out. Ross. It was just that he was in charge. Just like you were with me in that situation. Ross gave them a glowering look which of course Livvy couldn’t see. Richard was greater than me there.“Sorry. It was. He was calling the shots. Richard was the bigger. but not in a conscious sort of way. It was his show. “Physically Richard was by far the weakest.’ ” Alex looked at her thoughtfully. the more present. In the womb he was like you were for me last night. the stronger. and this is the part that amazes me. I’m remembering it as clearly as if it happened yesterday. “go on. “That’s what has really taken me back. More of an essence. “Yes. almost under her breath. I was freezing cold and delirious. “Last night. ‘Until last night. you said. the wiser one. I’m sure of it. and you were right there with me. as I said. questioningly. That’s the really strange thing that came back to me last night. “it’s not easy to explain. Half an hour later. Ross was writing reports in the background so a continuation of their physical closeness was out of the question for the moment. “Until last night?” Livvy asked. I was delirious.” he replied. the two were seated in front of a warm fire. I don’t mean bigger or better in a human sort of way. “Earlier. He would try.” “I understand.” said Livvy in mock apology whilst squeezing Alex’s hand. bring it all back for me?” “He was there before I got there.” “We were trapped in the rock cut. I was aware of you.” “Try me.” 266 . “sort of like being back in the womb with Richard.” she let her hand rest on his shoulder.” said Livvy.

... “Nobody killed Richard. Later that night.... earlier... Everything became crystal clear... The images began to sort themselves out. and then he left..” Alex sat quietly for what seemed like a long time. It was something to do with the encounter between the flier and the reception party..... Alex. “I’m really glad he did. when you told me of your experience last night.... ‘What was it that didn’t fit?’ she kept asking herself.” .” “What?” “It’s something that Judith has said to me a couple of times. Something wasn’t right but she couldn’t think what it 267 . I must have a purpose... and more than that. She couldn’t put her finger on it.. It was something very obvious and she knew what it was deep down but she couldn’t access it.. As sure as if I dreamed it myself.” Livvy leaned over him... Her mind was filled with the conversation that she had had with Alex.. There was something calling out for her attention.” he said at last.... It was all a jumble of images piled on top of each other in disarray and confusion. Nobody would understand.. This time it was really as though she was looking at him...... Livvy woke from a deep sleep. I could never understand it but somehow those words just came back to me.. I’m here for a reason...“Are you telling me…?” “Yes I am.” “And Richard is still helping you do it. Then. last night.. He and I chose to come together of our own accord. do you think?” she asked. How could a two-week old baby talk.. my hair stood on end. The vision in Mom’s dream.. He helped to set me on a particular course. yet she knew it was hugely important.even before I knew about Richard . “This is what I see..but I always put it down to my imagination.... gazing into the fire...” “We all come from the Source of all Being. almost to himself. It was Richard... nobody took my legs..” Livvy whispered quietly..... I’m sure of it. this particular course. “I’ve often felt that there was someone with me . “Was he there. really glad.... even in a dream... That’s why she wouldn’t say....

268 . She finally drifted back off into a dreamy sleep. The image of the nearwhite auric figure within the pale blue shimmering wings danced before her. What was it trying to tell her? Her troubled dreams went on until she sunk into the depths of dreamless oblivion.was. The dance… it was something about the dance and the figure that performed it. It was trying to tell her something.

The huge step won over and he took it.Chapter 29 Marine Adventures Alex lay in a quiet slumber. the sensuous touch of Livvy’s hand on his arm while they sat on the knoll above the farmhouse. It seemed like only an instant had passed yet he knew that time had moved on.” she whispered softly. following the glow of his aura. Memories flooded back of the dark coast under his wings as he came in for his landing. in extreme contrast to that pain. stretched. he found himself falling… and falling… and then nothing. his good one. He thought of her. under her neck so that she could lie on it without discomfort. Daylight was flooding the room yet it was late June so it could still be very early in the day. “Hi. torn between a vivid recollection of childhood and a huge step into manhood. The last time that he had been so close to a woman. He was still in disbelief that a young woman like Livvy would take such a deep interest in him. As images of her rose up to fill his thoughts. She was wearing a full night-dress and had opened his door quietly before feeling her way across to him. His right arm ached with the 269 . unaware of whether he was dreaming or not.” She wrapped her arms around him and settled herself down next to him. he had still been a child with his mother. He suddenly became aware of her. not just by her presence. She slipped into the bed beside him. of the pain in his arm and then. He slid his left arm. “Magnus asked me to help with your healing… so here I am. but by the full-on voluptuous feel of the soft warmth of her body. He awoke suddenly. He drifted in and out of consciousness. His senses were caught. Alex was shocked. The first light of dawn was gradually giving definition to the darkness in his room as dim shapes of furniture began to emerge from the total blackness.

Her heart was as open to him as her eyes were closed. It was almost as if she could see it and she probably could in her own way for she cooed gently into his ear and settled him down.” she said into the instrument. her long lashes a delicate finishing touch. He looked over at her. hardly applying any pressure at all. but for now he just held the vision of her. He lifted the crook of his left arm and caressed the side of her head. It was only twenty four hours since they had pulled him up from the narrow rock cut and his body was still exhausted. The first touch of their lips was electric. my love. “Hello. “No. Her eyes were closed. Their lips parted as delicately as they had joined. This time it was the sound of a phone. She knew that this would be so. He knew this meant nothing for although she couldn’t see him. I just popped in to see Alex. He would do that in a moment. She spoke in hushed tones to him. 270 . to make sure that he’s comfortable. Her face was so close to his that he would be able to kiss her with only the slightest forward movement.” She paused to listen. The exhaustion cut off any other impulses that he might otherwise have had and he slipped back into a deep sleep in her arms.” Alex could here the crackle of Magnus’s voice in response.” Her voice was so soft that he almost heard it within his mind rather that through his ears. She lightly laid her hand onto his shoulder and brushed it.effort of this simple movement. He gently moved towards her. she enjoyed the gentleness and it was she who pressed back. He knew it wasn’t his as it was playing a mechanical version of a piano concerto. As it was. hello Magnus. trying to pretend that she hadn’t just been woken up. She had brought it with her in the night. She sensed his approach and subtly moved to meet him. “Go back to sleep. Again he awoke suddenly. Livvy reached over and picked it up from the bedside table. “Oh. It was how she dared to come to him. exposing his inner thoughts and feelings. Some strands of her hair fell across his face as soft and enlivening as their first touch had been. he could feel her awareness of him seeking him out. Livvy here. He wouldn’t find me there. He wished his right arm didn’t hurt so much as he longed to pull her towards him.

” “No… It’s fine… Just a bit of a surprise. “I’ll go and find him now.” “Mmmm. that’s all. “I just spoke to Magnus on the phone.” She switched her phone off and snuggled down with Alex again. nothing like that.” “Oh? Not too disturbing I hope?” “No. She was up and feeling her way along the wall for the door.” “So. “Hi! Did you sleep well?” “No. Ross!” “Sorry. you’re game?” 271 .” Ross gave a short laugh.” She squeezed Alex’s hand and smiled in his general direction as Magnus spoke further. Magnus.” she called. “Magnus has given Ross some instructions and he in turn has been looking for me and found my room empty. “Come in.” She kissed his cheek and laughed lightly as he reached for her too late. This one will be very small and very fast.“Yes. He’s on his way up here. You’re to have a crash course on driving small boats at night… in the dark. not really… funny dreams. Ever been on a boat before?” “What kind of boat? I mean… I’ve been on ferries to the continent and to Ireland. I had better go and find him. “Well that’s about to change if your willing. a bit livelier than that I’m afraid. It was eight o’clock according to Livvy’s talking watch. he seems very comfortable. Magnus thinks that it could be a useful skill and he wants you to use the next few days to acquire it.” Livvy smiled brightly. He’ll be here by ten. barely giving her time to put her dressing gown and slippers on. “I’ll come back soon. There was a knock on her bedroom door only a short minute after her return. He’s going to take you a bit further south of here to a small fishing port. “Okay.” she whispered in his ear. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to leave you now.” she called softly as she disappeared from view.” she responded.” “Oh!… Actually no then. As expected it was Ross. not too much.” “Um… That beats an alarm clock for an early morning wakener. There’s an SBS chap… that’s Special Boat Service… currently one of their training staff. He wants you to undertake some special training.

It was like the auras of the drivers reached out and touched. Chas attention was on his driving until they got out onto more major roads and began heading south. but had other ways of sensing things out in the dark. entwined and then parted. sure… as long as I can take Rusty. put it into the boot of his small car and held the door for her to get in.” “Okay… I’ll go and see him as soon as I’m dressed. She guessed he was in his early forties. but to get sea-legs. Livvy enjoyed this kind of road.” 272 . Rusty jumped into the back seat. Soon they were winding along the single lane road. stopping occasionally to allow a car to come the other way.was the momentary connection of auras as the two cars passed. Very keen for him to learn too. “It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s dark or not. “So… Magnus filled me in a bit. “What about Alex?” “I’ll be looking after him. This was usually in the form of raised fingers on the steering wheel and mutual eye contact. He said that you were blind. the next five days for Livvy were exciting and full of challenges. Not very nice. I don’t panic. I guess because I’m used to it. whose nickname was Chas. I have a few other things to set up as well. He needs to rest and to recover. met her at the door of the farmhouse. What Livvy perceived and it was this that she enjoyed . somehow being changed in a small way afterwards.” “Magnus mentioned Rusty.” “Yes.“Yeah. Not to drive of course.” she replied. It was a haunting reflection of what it would be like to live in a safe and open world. She sensed his broad smile and his aura was of someone very fit and at ease with himself.” “Sounds like a done deal.” he chuckled.” “Sure is!” She paused and caught herself.” In contrast to what was to be Alex’s experience. “but it will get him up and running in no time… especially if I tell him he can come down and see you as soon as he can propel himself in his chair.” “Good!… I’ll leave you to it then. There’s a physiotherapist coming to put him through his paces every day. Can he swim?” “Like a fish. Every time their car stopped or another car stopped for them there was an acknowledgement of the curtesy between the two drivers. I do have some ability to find my way around. Charlie. Her new teacher. He took her baggage from her.

They were going quite a long way south. I find it a little hard to explain in words. They had fish and chips the like of which Livvy had never had before.” Chas commented lightly. very cold.” He continued chatting. “Yes. Probably if he could have seen her atmosphere he would have seen unease and discomfort and would have backed off. “We will have some night vision equipment on board.” he explained. “I just can’t see anything.” Livvy was silent. his atmosphere showed good nature and she began to respond to him. Anything that is alive or had been worked with in a nurturing way by human hands carried a sort of living 273 . telling her a little of the SBS and some of the adventures that he’d had.” At each pause. he waited as if to tease her a little.” She liked Chas. She was not used to disclosing anything of her abilities to anyone except on rare occasions. You can’t be too careful. it still has a distinct aura present with it. and there was nothing in his atmosphere that disturbed her or which was even unpleasant. “This cod was probably swimming in the sea a couple of days ago. “We’ll be doing some odd things but mostly at night. and then only to those close to her. They arrived in the small village in time for lunch. That’s how I perceive things. As it was he still pressing to know more. “An aura. How about if you take me out and I’ll show you how I do it. Have you ever used anything like that?” “No. Here was this complete stranger who far from disbelief wanted to know more. “Chas. I haven’t.“Oh I don’t panic in the dark. “Well we’re going to be working together for the next five days. It would be nice to know how you are going to do it … seeing as how I’ll be in the boat with you… and it’s a rocky coast… and the water’s very. “We want to be so far south that there is no chance of the quarry putting two and two together. working in the dark. I long since learned that panicking was the worst thing I could do. and a lot of the time you will be doing the driving.” “Okay. I’m very nearly totally blind.” observed Chas with zeal as he finished the last piece. I just wouldn’t see anything if I looked. We’ll end up in a fishing village about sixty miles south of where you were last night. fair enough.” “A what?” asked Chas looking interested.

I was running out of air and I sometimes convince myself that I was hallucinating and that my hand brushed by him anyway because all of a sudden. I dove in for him but it was pitch dark and of course underwater it was even blacker. there he was below me and over to one side.” Livvy sat quietly.surround of some sort of substance that I can sense. We were doing some night work. but only for as long as I needed it. She wiped it away and smiled. She was deeply moved by his story and she felt a tear form in her right eye. It was just as if I had been given a temporary gift.” he said looking at her intently. like I said I was hallucinating. It was like I saw him with my heart but I translated it as colour because that was all I knew. “Often?” “No. With all the gear we had to wear. She glanced with her heart at his presence. 274 . They only play a small part. He got knocked into the sea. I know what phosphorescence looks like. I believe that it was his bioplasmic form. and she perceived him see it. That’s what the Russians call it. I perceive it as colours but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I see it with my eyes. He was serious. but coming from a hardened military man. “I’ve seen that. a vivid mauve. She might perhaps have expected something like that from a latter-day hippie. She would really enjoy working with this man. Then it just gradually faded away. I see it all the time. I’m sure I wasn’t hallucinating. He saw it. They have done a lot of work on that sort of thing. she was taken aback. This was different and as soon as I saw it I was aware of just how alert I was. I tried to tell people but they just said it was phosphorescence or maybe. Light but serious. the image persisted until I was able to clear his airway and make sure he was breathing. he sank immediately. only once. I perceived him as a colour. I loved him like a brother and we had worked together for a long time. After I got him up. even though. I’ll always remember it. a close friend of mine and I. I swam down to him and was able to pull him out in time. just when I needed it. I don’t believe I saw him with my eyes.” She was eating a particularly long and beautifully golden chip as she spoke. I was desperate to find him and I was flailing about with my hands. like you said. He was knocked unconscious due to his head hitting the side of the boat as he went over. She had a delicate way of doing it that wasn’t at all rude.

That makes it all the more fun to leave the show-off boats behind when they try to overtake. She never got to the point of yearning for more. Further out to sea they began taking on a swell. It’s asking you to excel too.” he added proudly. Occasionally she could catch the essence of a fish rising to the surface.” “Yeah. Chas. legs spread out. ” He let the boat slide out of the harbour. That’s a very sharp turn. The sea to her appeared as a phosphorescent liquid because it was so full of tiny microscopic organisms.” Chas called back through the spray and the wind. It’s aura glowed through the background 275 . “Not much of a muscle boat in appearance. “Can’t do that too often though. At such low speeds it hardly made a sound. “Soon it’ll be in your blood and you’ll be phoning me up on weekends asking for more.” “I have held a sixpence.” He was right. it’s a joke. It consisted of two large round rubber pontoons and a very powerful engine slung between that sucked the water up from the bows and sent a high speed directed jet of water out underneath the stern. XL 2. That’s two and a half pence to you Livvy. XL 2.” Chas helped her aboard and Rusty jumped in with her. It was as though the water itself was alive. Livvy found out that the reality of being in a small light weight craft in rough seas as an actual experience was a lot different from her imagination. but after a couple of days she certainly got to enjoy the experience. He started the engine which ran with more of a soft whoosh sound than a roar. it was climbing up into her throat. the next moment. Not very big. She could perceive Rusty flat on the low deck.Later that day they climbed aboard the boat.” he laughed. It was not so fun at all. but I guess the temptation sort of creeps up on you now and again. She held on for dear life. Because it works by directing the jet rather than with a rudder it can turn on a sixpence. This is supposed to be a low key operation. All that could be heard was the swish of the water passing over the hull.” “It creeps up lots. One moment she could feel her stomach diving towards her shoes. It’s not really a code name. Rather he was partly right. “You’ll get used to it Livvy. which indeed Livvy suspected it was. “I only give in to it now and again! By the way the name. appearing disorientated to say the least. “This’ll do forty-five knots at a push and make so little noise that it can’t be heard more than a couple of hundred metres away.

” he answered with admiration.. even when close to the rocks.. Full darkness will be another hour. although their raucous cries hurt her sensitive ears. later that same day she saw a vivid aura in the waters off to their port side...... I don’t usually miss anything..... “It is starting to get dusk.. a flowing. Chas constantly monitored her navigation with his night vision equipment.. control its speed and turn it into the waves without it being over turned.. At one point. “I hadn’t noticed it amongst all these waves. she would be a real attribute. Livvy was a good swimmer and it was a favoured exercise of hers at the local baths. however. Chas showed her how to feel out the controls and after a couple of nights practice she was able to direct the boat. Time and time again... The sky was cloudy but the wind was very light and the waves were almost none existent..of the sea’s surface texture.. The idea was to get as close to them as possible.” He was beginning to see why Magnus was interested in this girl... She never failed to spot the heightened phosphorescence of the water washing up on the rock and indeed her ability to pick up on the different textures of the sound of the waves was also remarkable. Could you do that in the dark?” “Well yes... She did well with her training. Civil darkness that is.... what time is it now?” Chas laughed..... . but for life forms to jump out from the background with their own radiance was quite another. even at a distance and had turned the boat towards it before he was able to locate the creature with his equipment.. Chas took her out in the late afternoon on the Sunday. They would search the elusive creatures out..... During the day she could see the gulls soaring overhead.... They spent many hours seal ‘hunting’. She had. Night vision was one thing. never been in the sea past waist height and 276 . He showed her how to put a wet suit on over her bathing suit and fitted her with swim fins....... “What’s that?” she called to Chas.. but it won’t be fully dark for another hour... I could... hazy radiance of waves and troughs.... That’s pretty good.......... As a point of interest.. If she could pick that seal out in this weather in the dark as well as she had done in the dusk. “A seal. Livvy would spot one.

” She could hear Chas laughing. Rusty. “Oh. so don’t worry. That coat of his is designed for this. She surfaced some way out. It’s only lovely if you’ve got a wet suit on. floating strangely above the ethereal faint background glow of the sea water.had certainly never worn a wet suit or flippers.” She believed him. He was confused and whined his confusion to her.” Rusty couldn’t believe it. as you pull yourself up. In fact I want you to learn how to get in quickly and orientate yourself. It’s lovely!” Rusty barked and jumped in. She swam back to the boat.” 277 . “Come on Rusty! You go first. The water rushed by her sensitive ears so loudly that they almost hurt her hearing. “No? You won’t go first? Okay I will!” To his surprise . kick a few times with the flippers and you will find yourself lifted right up into the boat. How did she do that? Livvy was surprised too. Rusty’s answering bark and Charlie’s ‘hello there’ sounded so distant that she must be about fifteen metres out from the boat. She could feel the flippers bite into the water in a way that her bare feet never could.” Livvy stayed near the boat so that she could keep her awareness on the reassuring auric figure of Chas. Livvy. “Now. If you get into trouble.he saw her turn and dive cleanly into the water. This would be more than starting at the deep end this would be off a powerful boat in open ocean! Chas was dressed in a wet suit as well. “He’s got a wet suit Livvy. sorry Rusty. A surprising distance out. She was actually looking forward to it. Put your hands on the side of the boat … Here I’ll help you find it …” Livvy was only aware of the figure of Chas. “I want you to go over on your own.a mixture of horror and delight … he wasn’t sure which to feel . was getting excited and worried as he saw her edging towards the stern of the boat. He also kept close attention on her. I’m an expert and professional life guard. It was here that it was best to dive in and to climb out. When she surfaced she called back. “You’ll find the flippers very helpful. She was actually beckoning towards the water in the same way she did when she wanted him to run out into a field. “Come on in. Rusty.

This extraordinary girl had already transported him to the edge of the world of magic. come on. If she could read it right. Not as dense as a persons. she began to perceive a thin atmosphere as well. lets get Rusty back in here before he turns into a fish. Amazingly. and she almost took him right in with that comment before he could reassure himself that she was joking.” Chas looked at her a bit quizzically. He was now back to being a dog. He looked over towards where she was pointing and there. They called Rusty over and he climbed reluctantly in. but there was a definite atmosphere within it’s aura. Rusty was looking down into the water. it was more one of amusement than of worry. just below the surface about half way there. The spell gets very weak if he gets into the water though and he begins to revert back. Rusty had shaken off the anti-spell. “There’s one. They stood back as the inevitable shaking filled the boat with a darting mist of spray. turned towards them near the rock shoreline.” cried Livvy after some time.” Chas picked up on her enthusiasm. or even as Rusty’s.” “Oh. surely enough was a small bobbing head. That sounds a bit ambitious. He turned the boat to one side as he approached this distance and slid silently by at about fifteen metres. “give it a kiss?” She surfaced gently about five metres from the bobbing head.” “He was a fish to begin with. Livvy was gently moving her flippers to slowly approach the seal. the huge baleful eyes watched her intently. He was moving from side to side as if ready to dive in himself. He heard a sound behind him. ‘What was she going to do?’ he thought to himself. Chas looked across towards the water between the boat and the seal. Somebody put a spell on him and turned him into a dog. It would actually be really good practice. “Let’s go and play with the seals. It will be good practice. He knew a lot more than she did about what was coming up later in the week. He turned to see that Livvy was gone. There she was. They had learned over the last few days how close they could get before the seal would dive. She was observing it’s aura.” “I don’t know Livvy. Suddenly the head 278 .Livvy did as she was told and with a few practice attempts found it quite easy. The boat was at it’s optimum silence for speed at about fifteen knots. “Okay.

In a dreamlike dizziness and nausea. silhouetted as it was against the pale silver surface above. He looked anxiously. for her part was at the edge of her limit.disappeared beneath the water. Chas and Rusty were already in the water looking for her. He could easily pick out her shape from below.” she whispered with awe and reverence in her voice. “He slid up to me. Urgent as her need for air was. poignancy. Her lungs were almost bursting with the pain of holding her breath for a full two minutes. A terrific pain came into her ears. be allowed himself to drift up until his nose was about a whisker away from hers. now it was a graceful and dynamic blue as the shape slid and melded through the cold deep liquid below her. that it had been lost at all. It was a moment of surrealness. she forced herself to slow. She took a deep breath and duck-dived after it. had for ever such a brief moment returned. Livvy began desperately swimming to the surface. She found herself flipped onto her back and being dragged from behind with a vicelike hand under her chin. all the way down there … it was so deep I could hardly stand it … he touched my nose with his … do you want to know something Chas?” Her voice was now so slow and quiet that he had to bed down to hear her. She squeezed her nose and blew to equalise the pressure and swam down towards it. He slid aboard with ease and pulled her up after him. down at her. I touched him. It was now dusk above. Suddenly he was astonished to hear her laugh in an almost musical way. Joy that what had been lost between humans and creatures. Despite this. checking to see what level of respiration she would need. This human seemed to be able to see him and was tracking him. The aura had changed colour under the water.” 279 . She didn’t see it as that but more like the aura turning down and merging with the background glow of the water. Chas got her to the boat. The seal paused in amazement. she felt Charlie’s strong arms around her lifting her and supporting her. Above it had been green. She placed her two hands together almost as if in prayer. The pressure was crushing onto her head and ears. “Chas. and five metres down it was quite dark. making them scream out with the tension. Livvy. She reached the surface at the point of blackout. She knew what he was doing and let herself relax. The moment had passed. It worked. the pain vanished. there was a single brief moment beyond the place of the pain. Completely at ease in his element and sensing that it was safe with this unusual being. held her nose and sucked with the painful stale air in her lungs. “What Livvy. of both poignancy and joy.

. “I’m so glad that we’ll be working together again. with twenty two hours of sailing time under her belt........ Livvy was sad to be leaving Chas... Chas..... however briefly....... They belonged together in a primal way and her heart began to sing lightly at the thought of seeing him again.... She would miss him a lot. was now very early bedtime for these two night birds who had spent the last week out on the rough seas every night.. 280 .. His tuition had been expert and the fact that he had touched into her world.. “ XL2 will be put aboard a trawler.. lay down beside her... She felt a strong love for him that she knew in her heart was deeper than an infatuation..... .. They had a light meal together and had an early morning. Chas spoke after a long silence. driving north to arrive in time for the briefing with Magnus...... So.. As they drove up to the farmhouse. I understand we’ll be seeing you again there. they docked XL2 for the last time and set off back to their B&B in the tiny village. meant more to her than anything …for not only was he empathetic... She had shared a kinship as well as a friendship during their time together.. They had brunch and a further nap in the afternoon.” She paused.... The following morning they were up and out by ten. later today.. He wrapped her in it.” She was shivering now and her lips were blue. They had one more trip out that evening. “It’s been quite a remarkable week … Thanks so much.” Livvy answered... He could tell that she was thinking of the encounter with the seal. but he was the first man she had met who had seen an aura.....” He could tell that she meant it in ways that she was finding hard to express... She had thought of Alex many times during her time away. He went forward and unwrapped a emergency blanket from out of its protective plastic bag.... Rusty. She slept as he returned to their fishing port.. now fully returned to dog... That would certainly be it for the day. Livvy slept all night and was fully recovered in the morning.. One a.m... Something deep had changed in her since that time..” “Oh good. We’ll then sail to Scarborough.. She was now as expert a captain of the small craft as she could be without going into more extensive training.. he had saved her life and she would never forget that.“His nose … It wasn’t cold … It was warm...

Sunlight was streaming through the closed curtains of his window. It was now nine forty-five a.Chapter 30 The Conference This time it was the ring of Alex’s own phone which woke him up. He looked at his watch.m. and Livvy had said her farewells and had 281 .

” he spoke sleepily. As you already know.” “Okay. Anything to give us time to get you up and flying. Okay.” “Yes. They are always several steps ahead of us and we cannot afford to underestimate them. Don’t think about anything else.” “I’ve instructed a really good army physiotherapist to come and spend a few days with you. “Magnus. “We need you back ready to fly in about a week. She’ll be gone for a few days. Can you say anything more about the plan? I’m curious. Wednesday night will be the day that the smugglers have set for the rendezvous. It’s more that I am very impressed with these people. He switched it on. Magnus. Tell you what. I want you to eat what he says to eat and drink what he says to drink. “Hello Magnus. I’ve asked Livvy to go off this morning and do some special training.been gone for over an hour.” “We’ve got a plan we’re working on. It’s not that I want to be secretive. I checked with the Met office and there’s some pretty nasty weather on the way. That’s your job for the week. that they’ve been monitoring the Coast Guard radar signal. Alex. wanting to get straight down to something. All our jobs hinge on your job. weather permitting. she came to see me this morning before she left. Alex.” “I understand. If he says sleep. We’ve taken the risk of moving the Coast Guard out of the area for a few days then we’ll bring them back again on Monday.” “I can’t really. I don’t usually hope for bad weather but in this case I’ll make an exception.” said Alex. Get that arm healed. Magnus. I’ll brief the both of you on Tuesday.” 282 . It’s a good one. I want to have it fully thought out before I relate it to you. The flier is due to make his last incoming flight in six days. We’re assuming from the conversation that Livvy overheard.” Magnus responded.” “I’ll do my best. The screen identified the caller as Magnus.” “I see. then you sleep. good Alex. “Look. If he says do this with your arm then you do it. You’ve got one job and one alone.

She said that she could see the healing process happening almost despite me. He thought of the sting he felt over Magnus’s criticism. “Alex. Then the words that he had just heard repeated themselves in his mind. He thought about the way that she had left him only an hour before. yes.” “Sadness …” She had paused and her face had taken on a slight smile. There would be more to come.” “I’m sure she’s right. He thought about Livvy’s observation of his relationship with Magnus. She had moved over to him and sat on the bed beside him.” she had replied.” “All right. studying his atmospherics. Just don’t do the despite bit. Get that arm healed!’ Alex began to realise that he would have to take criticism on the chin and to learn from it. Alex. She had appeared to be looking at a space in front of him. I don’t try to hide anything. Magnus …By the way. “and a certain longing for 283 . if you paid enough attention and knew what to look for. “So what were you aware of in me then. “You could tell what I was thinking as well. Get behind it.“Okay.” she had said.” Alex had felt a deep sadness at the thought of her going. “I am going to be away for a few days. “all I know is that we’ll be back together on Tuesday. He lay back into the thick pillows and his thoughts drifted around to Livvy again. Livvy was looking at my shoulder this morning.” Alex switched the phone off and put it on the bedside table. I’ll phone in every day and I’ll see you both on Tuesday. ‘All our jobs hinge on your job.” she had begun.” “I really haven’t a clue.” he had exclaimed in surprise. I’ll do what I can. “I wonder what that’s all about.” She had smiled and placed her hand on his. Then she had pulled it to her and jostled it a little. She had knocked gently and he had invited her in. I’m going on a special training program …something to do with boats. Thanks for the call. Can’t you?” “I don’t exactly see it. he did admire the man enormously and he enjoyed his company and sense of humour as well. but it does appear as colour to me. He had to admit. No-one would have guessed that they had just spent such an intimate time together earlier that morning. he was sure of it.” “No problem.” “Boats. “You can see everything that I am thinking. almost provocatively. He had suddenly realised why.

” she had continued.someone.” “Mhm …that’s right Alex. “… then over here.” “Oh. “You’re sitting right up against me …You’re whole body. “over here is excitement.” “Excitement? Gosh. I see you sitting beside me.” “And what am I saying?” she had asked. you tell me what I’m thinking. using those simple things.” “So …how am I sitting?” Alex had looked carefully and had been pensive for a few moments. I can’t tell what it’s about but I’m sure it’s to do with this whole mission we’re on. in fact your whole attention is turned towards me and you’re holding my hand close to your thigh …and there’s no space between us.” “And what was the intonation of my voice when I told you that?” Alex had paused.” she had whispered softly.” Then it had been her turn to pause. But I think it’s more to do with the thought of you coming back on Tuesday.” she had then brushed her other hand over an area to his left about chest height and out about 30 cm out from his body.” “You’ve got eyes. I hadn’t noticed that.” “Maybe you’ll notice it after I’ve gone. you tell me something about my atmosphere. “You’re sitting right next to me and you’re holding my hand. “You spoke slowly because you were listening to how I was reacting to what you were saying …and then …then I think I heard a catch in your voice as you told me.” 284 . squeezing his hand. “Those are all very basic things yet they are all significant. “So.” “Well there is that too. really. “Nothing to do with the thought of getting back to flying then? I think that’s a pretty strong element. “So now. “You’re telling me that you’re going away for a week.” she had laughed.” he had admitted.” “Where am I sitting? How am I sitting? How big is the space between me and you? What’s my demeanour?” Again Alex had had to think.” “I wouldn’t know where to start. “Oh yeah! …I feel it now.” Alex had lain back. what do you see? You’ve got ears what do you hear?’ “Well.

The sound jolted him out of his thoughts. Alex lay on his bed still pondering on his conversation with her.“Well …you’re sad about going away and concerned about how I will feel about it. “and there might be a certain longing to be with someone that you know you can’t be with for a while …and I think that someone might be me. referring occasionally to the set of x-rays that he had brought in with him. As he lay there. His days became a routine of sleeping.” Then she had kissed him and in a few moments later she had gone. “Trust that those things you’ve seen in me are true. Ross had gone away on ISD business leaving Alex on his own with the physio.” She had by then moved her free hand down to be over his heart. He began to put Alex through his paces right from the start. her world did seem something of a mystery to him.” he had hesitated because he had heard the catch in his own voice as the realisation had sunk in … “and over here. “I’m not the only one who can read atmospheres accurately. Otherwise they were uneventful for Alex. he had one job to do and one alone …to get back into shape again. As Magnus had pointed out. caressing him gently “See. “is excitement about spending a few days in a boat. as Alex was to learn over the next few days.” Livvy had laughed in delight. mild mannered man who. There was a lot at stake and his ability to fly was the key component. he was beginning to perceive for himself something of the nature of human atmospheres and the world in which Livvy lived. He pushed it to it’s limits in various directions. high protein meals. The next five days were dedicated to the attentions of this man. He felt like a highly valued footballer. had a firm no-nonsense side to him. I’ll be back on Tuesday. Then she had smiled and felt for the side of his face with her free hand. In a way it wasn’t that different. water 285 . Although he could now see that he had something of a handle into it himself. he also instinctively knew that she had a depth of insight that was well beyond his own normal capabilities. recovering from an injury in time for a crucial game. He examined the arm. The brief interlude had helped him to understand her much more than he had realised at the time. She was right. As Alex was musing over these things.” she had said. And I’m not so much the mystery that you think I am. The physio was a kind.” he had begun.” he had continued as he pointed to her heart. the physiotherapist arrived and knocked on his door.

.... Livvy’s attention was immediately drawn to Alex who was sitting in his special chair. Introductions were done all 286 ... He knocked on the door. There was a low fire in the grate compensating for the weather outside.. Each day he would wake to feel as if he had been through the mill. low cloud and strong winds...... and it promised heavy rain. It was developing as Magnus had hoped.. Magnus would call each morning at about ten. It was stout and well made so that even Livvy’s keen hearing could not make out what was being said... they were on edge. Chas was leading her gently by the arm with Rusty following behind... Ross came back on Tuesday afternoon.... under the attentions of the physio.. Their hosts at the farm house were very good cooks and knew how to look after their guests. As the two newcomers walked in the man jumped up and greeted Chas warmly. Magnus was there sitting by the fireplace.. they could hear a faint murmur of voices in the sitting room.... Magnus and Fred drove up in the van shortly afterwards. Physically the seven members of the team were comfortable. This was unusual for early July. They opened it and went in. Each day however. his progress and his state of mind. She pretended to be neutral towards him.. The wind had built up and the rain was predicted to come later in the middle of the night. By Wednesday morning there would be a full blown gale going on. Ross and Fred sat next to him on a low soft sofa. a little easier...... Chas and Livvy arrived later in the evening. The inclement weather was to continue all day..... He would enquire after his health.. Emotionally however.. There was another man sitting opposite on another long Sofa... the call from him included an updated weather report..... The door was shut.. A large low pressure system was moving in from the west.” They could just make out the muffled voice of Magnus calling to them through the door.. his movements became a little larger... They were obviously friends as well as long term colleagues. Alex hadn’t yet met Chas although he knew who he was. As Livvy and Chas walked into the farmhouse.. a little stronger. On Monday morning however. “Come in......and a regime of stretching and exercise that was both painful and hard work...... .. He never mentioned the planning and preparations for the week ahead..

These were encircling the others in the room as they had been doing so to herself from the instant that she had walked into the room. his heart leapt. but this was more of a killing off of all the subtle nuances in the room so that the perpetrator could use coarse. She had obviously located him with her senses and there was the faintest hint of a smile on her face. Again he was about the same age as Chas. Magnus consorts with the Muses. Although she had been able to see such things for the last several years. As she walked through the door. and the rest fell into place. He wasn’t a control freak. They were in a business meeting however and he was aware of Magnus’s presence. 287 . He had looked puzzled. He held the atmosphere in the room as his primarily attention. Although he couldn’t perceive the atmospherics in the graphic and colourful way that she could. She had seen destructive use. She remembered something that Judith had whispered to her about Magnus once when he was on the other side of a room. He didn’t have to be. Magnus was a master of control at an atmospheric level in such settings. mid forties. As much as he had thought of her over the past week. It was a controlled smile but a smile all the same. She perceived a network of threads extending out from him. he was obviously keenly aware of them at a subtle level. direct. Because of it. She was impressed. so ethereal that Livvy had not noticed it before. “Look there. There was a tiny purple sphere there. Alex had known that Livvy was due to arrive. Ross and Fred were already known to Chas as they were to Ken. Magnus jumped as Judith’s attention touched it. soft threads which were nevertheless insistent on drawing each of their attentions into a central point in the room. she had not been aware of how well they could be used for creative effect. Livvy was aware of him doing this. They were warm. he had forgotten just how beautiful she actually was. “I think. the new man. Ken was introduced as another member of the SBS reserve and training team. then scratched his head and looked at his watch.” she had said allowing her attention to manifest as a tiny nimbus at a point about thirty centimetres above Magnus’s head.” “How do you know?” Livvy had asked.way around. he felt drawn to focus on the work at hand. He was anticipating seeing her again with a warm tension throughout his body. psychological influence to win those around him over to his persuasions.

then bringing his attention back to his presentation. as soon as she sat down. “Next say your age. Fred he knew might well drift off in his imagination over technical details of how the equipment would work. in one brief sentence. Although his knowledge in this respect was essential.” Magnus began. What he was about to propose was tricky and dangerous and had a lot of potential to go wrong. was also very alert.” It was from this same place in Magnus’s aura that his control of the room was coming.” It was not just that he wanted the introductions to be clear. he also knew that as each participant spoke. Not your full name but the name we will use in this mission. 288 . Magnus needed his full attention on every detail of this briefing as well. Magnus was both relaxed and in a heightened state of awareness at the same time. Alex shifted his chair so that he could see what Magnus was presenting. There was a low wide coffee table between them all. had to be absolutely clear in their understanding of this briefing. “I want each of you to say your name. He would not have to do anything to hold their attention. being of a kindred spirit. She sat down. “ he’s now thinking that it’s an unusual time for them to be about. her attention was held firmly by Magnus and they got down to the work at hand. For his part. This would have brought them up to date with the whole picture. It also had the potential to defuse a volatile international terrorist incident without anyone getting hurt or for the large part even knowing about it. He had planned how to present and get the participants behind this operation almost as much as he had planned the operation itself. “Lastly. He consciously and deliberately kept making contact with one or other of them. Livvy decided to trust it.“Oops. of all people in the room. Ken and Chas had both read up on a dossier that he had prepared. He would keep an eye on Fred. They. Aware as she was of Alex. Ross too. He knew that they hadn’t worked together for about a year and would be very excited by the prospect of working together again. their brain waves would shift up several notches in alertness. He could feel the draw between Alex and Livvy. “First of all.” whispered Judith. describe your special attributes that you are bringing to this mission. Magnus was quite aware of the dynamics within the room. didn’t mean to do that. I’m not being ageist but I want everybody to have an idea where each of us are on the experience versus resilience continuum.

” “Yeah. forty-five. seven in Special Branch. getting up to about thirty kilometres and hour level flying in still air. French and the beginnings of Mandarin Chinese. I’ve been swimming an hour or two a day since I was five. sixty-two. forty-six. I’m near totally blind but I can perceive the presence of living things even in the pitch dark. Six years wheelchair racing up to para-olympic level. I’m fifty-three.” She sounded shy and hesitant putting her credentials next to these experienced men. I did the design and fabrication of most of the special equipment. So far I’ve taken it up to three thousand metres but that was climbing an especially good thermal. During that time I can usually cover about ten kilometres. during which time I covered about four hundred and fifty kilometres. Okay. thirty-five. During that time I usually find updrafts with which I gain height so as to increase speed by gliding. I speak near fluent Arabic. Sixteen years in high speed inflatable boats. Next” “Ross.” “Good. I’ve seen them cover nine kilometres over very rough ground in just over an hour in total darkness. eighteen. That same flight. we’ll go round to the left. and can carry out simple commands on his own. a lot of it under water.” It was Magnus chipping in. “This is Rusty. is as technical backup. My relevance to this operation. air sea rescue and commando service.” “Fred. “He’s Livvy’s guidedog. And I run. Sixteen years in high speed inflatable boats. scuba diving. I can power myself for short periods of say twenty minutes. underwater reconnaissance and commando service. Alex.” “Alex. I can stay under for up to three minutes.” 289 . Okay. could you just outline the capability of the wing suit as far as you can gather so far. Ten years in the Commandos. Very well bonded with her. Eleven years providing training in the same fields. I usually fly at night so not to up set the locals. Ten years providing training in the same fields. I’m Magnus. he’s three.” “Chas. I am getting stronger as time goes by. nineteen.“I’ll model it to begin. I’m bringing my leadership and co-ordination skills and my overview of this operation. no sound. The last fourteen months flying the wing suit. Between the two of them.” “Livvy. My maximum time aloft has been ten hours.” “Ken. Just a sentence or two. I covered eighty kilometres in an hour just on the way back down of course.

That is now unlikely. be honest Alex. He would like another week.” replied Alex sounding a little confused and trying to be loyal. nodded her head. thank you all. I was hoping you would say that.” Magnus added. We’ll keep that as our main monitor. possibly more. then so would they. I would probably end up in Norway.“Alex was injured a week ago. they are timed at 0800 this morning. I just printed them off.” “Well it would be very dangerous and I would be unlikely to accomplish anything useful even if I did manage to stay up.” “They have been flying in small quantities of something. It will probably be Friday at the earliest. “Good!” he went on. “So. they were due to fly in tomorrow night. west of the Hebrides and it is moving towards the west coast of Scotland. feeling his attention on her.” He looked around the room and made eye contact with everybody one at a time. probably with a bit of pain at first. “Go on. but I would say I could probably fly within a couple of days. “That was a nice clear picture. Next I will present my proposition. I want buy-in from everybody here so I’m calling it a proposition for now. They are 290 . He placed some weather charts on the coffee table. What can you say about that Alex?” “I’ve made rapid progress with the attentions of the physio. except for Livvy. Now here is the situation. The same would go for our flier too. here. but if Alex would be willing to fly. Alex?” “Well. Everyday longer is a days improvement for Alex. mild dislocation of his right shoulder.” “Good. Beaufort scale numbers are one thing. although we will be in full readiness by tomorrow. This is a large depression. They have done at least two journeys. How would you feel about flying in those conditions. you might have to I’m afraid. This is the cause of our cold windy weather now and it is likely to get a lot worse. probably three kilos at a time. “These were sent over by the Met Office this afternoon. Here is the front coming over and I would say we can expect gale force eight up to the occasional storm force ten for the next two days. She. if you asked me to I would.” “Mmmh. This is a military strike …and …I want you all on board one hundred percent or it won’t work. probably late tonight or early tomorrow.

“B. So far they have been pushing it on to the side of the elements. Think of it. That is …they don’t know that we know about them. I want the flier taken out.. “So.. low risk method they’re using. we actually have two secrets in our favour. “There are three main outcomes I want out of our next operation. There are two other fliers. in the middle of the night when there are few thermals. We would only get the bottom rung players.” he glanced again at 291 . He had their attention. One is that they don’t know we know about them. So they will have nine to twelve kilos of something so sensitive that they couldn’t have dared risk smuggling it in by the conventional methods. If we can take him out. They are taking all the risks with the elements and very few with us catching them.. or that discovery would cause a huge international incident.the other is that we can fly too!” Magnus gestured his open hand towards Alex. Flying twenty kilometres over the North Sea. they can’t risk even a small chance of being found out. the planners and the other participants would just melt away. That shows that either surprise is a big factor. Then landing on a wild part of the coast …and then all the way back again. which I am sure it is. “We could allow the flier to land and then arrest the lot of them. “A. “C. Arrest this flier and we lose that advantage. he had noticed a sharp involuntary intake of breath on her part.” He glanced again at Livvy. The financiers. This time it’s only one way so they may even start further out.” Magnus paused to study the effect he was having. all of which suggests to me that whatever the substance is. She was looking a bit ashen. Everybody with me?” Everybody was. but you get my drift. and our best way of dealing with them is for us to keep our one main advantage. and we have a way of doing it without hurting the flier. This is a very high effort. We probably don’t want an international incident any more than they do..” he glanced over at Livvy. somewhere in the UK. as I said . “ I want to capture the substance that he is carrying …intact …and I want them to think it was a natural accident. a failure on the part of their flier to make it through. “The way I see it. That could be a desirable thing to do but there are a number of disadvantages to doing that.planning one more and then the flier with his wing suit stays here and goes covert. they have been balancing risk of the elements against risk of us catching them.

” The group all bent more closely to look at the parcel. Are there any questions so far?” “Yes. There were a few hitches with the deployment and setting the kites to fly right. It would certainly be very dangerous to assume that they were not coming this way. “We’re thinking of renaming you ‘Q’. a fine mesh began to spring out. Folded within the pack here are two small kites which are attached to the top of the net and spread it out as it is pulled through the air. one third kilogram weights which hang below to distend the net. Any more questions?” There weren’t.” It was Chas. Magnus noticed how pensive she was. the whole package only weighs three kilograms. So far they have been much more lax than they would be if they knew we were on to them. It is made out of a fine mono-filament nylon of a type that tends to not tangle. they will take less risks with the elements and more with us. The main objective is to at least identify them as they come in. As you can feel for yourself. “They will think it was an accident caused by the elements. “This is a net. He was weighing up whether to address it with her within the group or privately. The wind resistance of the net is quite small 292 . There are two. here is our new secret weapon. The fact that one has shown up confirms our suspicions. Okay …That will be a big advantage next time around.” He turned to Fred. “We have been trying this out behind a motorised hang-glider all week. This time around the main thing is not to be caught doing what we’re going to do. the latter was for her benefit and she did look slightly relieved. We are pretty sure that the rest are part of a plan for the UK as well.” He undid a short section of the Velcro fastening. “Do we have any indication that the other fliers are heading this way too?” “Only that the majority of the intercepted communications from the training site were with groups associated with this part of the world. Then the next time with another flier. Only Livvy held back. “So.” He pulled a parcel out from under the coffee table.Livvy. It is a grid of ninety millimetre squares. I’m sorry if it appears a bit Bondesque. it was about the size of a pillow and looked a little like a small parachute pack. We’ve re-wrapped it and deployed it twelve times now without a hitch in a variety of wind conditions. The whole thing is eighteen metres wide and forty metres long. I want to keep it that way. “This was thought up by Fred here.

the top is ten below him. due to the size of the net. but roughly speaking. He then deploys the net. This will have two functions. the flier maintains a height of about fifty metres. it’s worth more than the whole of the rest of the wing suit put together. “Don’t drop it.” Livvy had been acutely aware of Magnus’s attentions. that is. That’s about the height of the cliffs that he is going to land on. The weights are fixed via a line directly onto the wing suit so that they fall away into the sea on impact. like shoot him. “On sighting the flier. It worked well even in moderate winds. you seem pensive. the bottom of the net is fifty below him. “Livvy. He continued. she realised that it couldn’t be less violent and still 293 . She knew that Magnus was making plans with all things considered. Alex will be too high for the flier to see him in his night scope. “the other effect will be to so seriously impair the flight capabilities of the flier that he will come down with a soft landing into the sea shortly afterwards …hence we have this rather capable team of marine rescue experts waiting opportunistically below.” He glanced over at Livvy again. 3 wide angle night scope. we’ve managed to borrow from certain quarters we needn’t mention here. There is some scope for error here. The idea is for Alex to cruise at a height of about one hundred to one twenty metres.compared with the drag of the weights. Ideally. both from the original Coast Guard sighting and the one we were involved in.” Alex smiled back. It needs at least thirty five kilometres per hour to fly well.” He looked over at Alex. This leaves the flier completely enmeshed in the netting. but she was still having a gut reaction. if the flier is at fifty metres and Alex is at eighty metres. His atmospherics had graduated towards her from the moment she was aware of her own shock.” He had decided to address Livvy within the group. we want the flier to hit the net in the middle. but he will hit the net with twenty metres above and twenty below. It wasn’t so much the suggestion of violence. From what we’ve seen. “The thing is set up so that the pull of the impact will release the net from Alex’s wing suit. the first will be to prevent the release of the pay load. He will be equipped with a gen. It was the words ‘I want the flier taken out’ that had done it. that was our concern if we were to do something else. for now that she knew what it was that was planned. Alex will go into a moderate dive and get up say about forty to fifty kilometres per hour. he was letting her know the alternatives. It hangs down ten metres below him.

What I do know is that something about this feels very wrong.” “If you don’t help us Livvy. She said that they have no evil intent. the worse it gets. We have no choice but to do it …or something like it that’s even more drastic. There’s something very pure there. I’ve explained why it would be unwise to just arrest these people. It may even dissuade them from trying again with the others. “Mmmh. It’s not what you probably think. It’s always a display of the truth. That the young and pure and innocent can be led by those with evil intent without being tainted by them …until it was too late. He’s been haunting me in my dreams almost every night.” rejoined Livvy. Magnus. “well I can see that and as you know I have immense respect for Judith. “I can’t really see it. The more I think about it. There’s something else. Judith said something very similar when she first saw the photographs. There are two things.” 294 . I’m missing something which is staring me in the face and I can’t see it. even sadly. It has been plaguing me ever since that night I got so close to him.work. the chances of him drowning will probably treble. There is no way of lying with that kind of thing. Magnus.” She paused. This is by far the most humane solution.” “I know Magnus. I’ve seen him close up. I guess I just feel that I’m the evil one and that the best I can do is the lesser of two evils. The thing is a person can’t carry a near white aura as a disguise. I can’t explain why. The first is the colour of this persons aura. We can’t just let them bring these obviously highly illegal. I say that for lack of a better word. Judith says it’s yellow. it’s just a gut thing.” “What colour’s your aura. and I am in on this. It’s driving me nuts. I’ve trusted my gut feeling all my short life and they’ve always been right. Livvy?” Magnus asked softly. “Yes I am. Nor can we let someone loose with them who has gone clandestine and who probably has even more developed capabilities than Alex. Magnus broke in. but she wasn’t there …she was just looking at the photos. It was the re-stimulation of the huge unnamed question that she had around the flier. in fact they have quite pure intent. probably extremely dangerous substances into the country. This is not an evil or even a warped person. but I have to be honest with you. She then went on to say that you could still be as harmless as a dove and not be as wise as a serpent.” “Okay.

They spent the rest of the evening tying up the fine details of what was needed in the days to come. That means more to me than just this mission.you’ve probably been hurt several times.. Finally she finished.” “And mine?” “Purple. “Hi.. I’m sorry.” she said softly as she settled down more comfortably up against him.... in the direction of blue.....” he responded. I’ll do everything in my power to help this go as smoothly as possible. “Magnus … it’s whiter than it was... Alex was amazed at the amount that she had done and the rigorous exercises that she had been put through. I thought you were.. I didn’t really look.... ‘Wow! Look at that!’ When you get to my age. when a kid sees a car accident.... He slipped his arm over her shoulders.... there was a charge in the room. and there’s another thing. you’ve been hurt yourself . Livvy went over to Alex. She sat down close beside him and nestled her body up against his.. “Magnus.” “Off in which direction?” “A hint of red....” “And the flier.......... he probably goes.” Livvy sat silently for a few seconds. He had been in his chair but had now slipped onto one of the sofas to be more comfortable.. After dinner Chas and Ken went off to a separate bed and breakfast. you’ve lost friends had other friends maimed. she’s always been a passionate woman. Magnus and Ross sat around the dining table playing cards...” “Thank you Livvy.. ...... “tell me about your week. all in such a small space of time.“What colour is Judith’s?” “Off white. The warm crackle of the 295 . it’s in your atmosphere …you’re really not enjoying this. seen and felt the anguish that can happen … Now if I see a car crash …I feel sick. You seemed like a kid with a new toy …I’m sorry Magnus.. or rather swirls of red with elements of blue …” Livvy paused for some time... As she was telling him it was gradually becoming obvious how little sleep that she had had in the process. I would say there’s a background of deep sadness …which he has largely risen above...” “Off white.....” Livvy began the tale of her adventure.” “Livvy...” Magnus turned back to his presentation.. “Hi you.

I must feel very at ease with you to do that. Suddenly in mid sentence and for the second time in their relationship. offering him reassurance. Her words from that earlier occasion. “You can take it as a compliment that I fell asleep with you. she slipped off to sleep. given the description of the intensive training that she had been through. broke through his disappointment. Alex could see this and he was not surprised.fire and the security of his presence felt so comforting for her that soon her voice began to slow and her mind began to drift. Alex.” 296 .

Just after breakfast. It was the sleep of the exhausted but she awoke about eight-thirty the next morning. “On the night that we first saw the flier come in. Well. She connected with his atmosphere as she entered. “Sorry. The obvious thing would be that when they are expecting the flier to arrive. 297 . then they can be traced back to their base. we will seen them move out as a group. We have had them under surveillance ever since but we really can’t make much of their activities at all. Magnus took a phone call. “whilst you were going in after Alex. “I really didn’t mean to do that again. Other than that. it was Ross’s job to follow the members of the reception party back to their base.Chapter 31 Darius Livvy slept deeply through the night. the last of the group to arrive. showered and arrived for breakfast somewhat better prepared for life than she had been the night before. as if pondering something. As she entered the room. you really helped me to sleep. There’s no doubt that there is a lot going on but nothing shows.” she whispered quietly into his ear. Alex was sitting at the table. still sleeping. She got up. As she passed behind him.” offered Livvy. He had a quick word with Ross then came over to speak with her. it’s just a lot of waiting. she paused and placed her hand on his shoulder. into her bed. She was fully dressed as Magnus and Ross had lifted her. Livvy was aware of some inner workings of his mind and she followed them as they began to resolve.” “What would you be expecting to see?” Livvy asked. “Well that’s just it. found a change of clothes. She sat down beside him. Alex. he did so and found that they live in quite a densely populated part of a city about forty kilometres from here. Afterwards.” “I suppose if they make a successful pickup. She began to realise what must have happened as she regained consciousness. refreshed. but thanks. he seemed preoccupied. It was all the answer that she needed.” he began cautiously. We’ll get together later?” He reached across to his shoulder and squeezed her hand.

We have photographed everybody but nobody has turned up that we recognise. “Oh.” he said wryly handing them to her. He looked them up in the archives and made some of them up. She opened the box. each in their paper cup. “Have you been reading Judith’s memoirs?” “Well er no. “I don’t know exactly Livvy. They’re top secret but I did manage to gain access. Your job would be to just watch the people that come in and out and tell us what seems to be going on in them internally. I can’t see why it wouldn’t be perfectly safe. At this moment in time however. Judith asked Fred about one of her specialities which she used on a number of occasions to get her out of trouble. more like her official records. There is quite a lot of comings and goings.” Livvy felt sobered.” Magnus was embarrassed at his own transparency and although Livvy could not see the blood rush to his face. not exactly. don’t peel them! They’ll blow your hand off.” Livvy smiled. “What would it entail?” “I guess we would pull the surveillance team back to stand by and have you sit in the car with Ross. Ross and I were just talking. She could feel small round objects about the size of a chocolate.“Well that would seem to be so. We had the idea that if you went with Ross to join the surveillance. she was aware of a certain element in his atmosphere that was retreating and wanting to hide.” 298 .” “Yeah. and reached in. but somehow I have a bad feeling about it. “Why are you so hesitant in asking me?” Livvy was genuinely puzzled. “For goodness sake.” Livvy was to gradually learn to take note of Magnus’s gut feelings with the same respect that she gave her own deeper perceptions. I guess it is. she allowed him to brush his concerns to one side. It’s a kind of gut feeling.” “Well it sounds safe enough. “Try not to eat them. by the way.” He went over to his briefcase and took out a box of chocolate selections. you might be able to read something of the intent in those people coming in and out of their house. but so far this group have been ingenious in their planning and somehow I can’t believe it will be that simple. Maybe I’ve just got the jitters.

Ross will find a quiet spot and give you some practice on your way over to the city. pacing the floor wanting to be let back out into the jungle.” She focussed her attention Alex. Then suddenly for the last week he had nothing to do but wait and exercise his shoulder. Keep a phone card too if you’ve got one. Here is your radio. mind. fast burn explosive that bursts at three times the speed of sound. It won’t be so quiet while you’re letting these off. Perceiving his resignation and despondency. “Judith’s gunshot pellets. sure Magnus.” “No it’s not what I mean. They may feel small but that’s not gunpowder in there. Go up to your room and take out everything that you don’t need. “I’ll go now. if they ever were. Keep your make-up and tissues and stuff like that. she went over and knelt down beside him. She could tell from his atmosphere that he had sensed something of what was going on. Keep some money in there.” “That’s right. that’ll keep anybody happy that gets a-hold of your stuff. “Yes. The mike will hang just under your hair by your jaw. but no credit cards. Okay?” Livvy studied him. She placed her hand on his arm. British cities aren’t what they used to be.” confirmed Magnus. He had been flying for several hours each day for the last six months and the thrill of that had filled his life with meaning and purpose.” “Well. “I guess you realise that I’m off on another adventure … You seem like a caged lion.” she replied.” 299 . both with not seeing her again and with being grounded for so long. Only take enough pellets to practice with on the moors with Ross plus a couple more in your other front pocket. She could feel his genuine concern as well as his astute business sense. the short is the five. It’s tiny enough to go in your pocket. A tremendous bang but it’s bark is far worse than it’s bite.“Oh wow!” exclaimed Livvy. pleased that she was not put off. it’s a high grade.” Magnus paused then spoke again. I haven’t got a gun if that’s what you mean. “The long strip is the twenty second fuse. “What have you got in your handbag?” “Magnus. recognising them from their legendary description. Run the wire up your top and fit the plug into your ear. men don’t ask what women have in their handbags!” “This man does when he is sending a woman out on a mission. She was aware of his frustration.

resignedly.“ Yeah. Lead the way. It was just coming into full colour. Visually for Ross the dull stormy weather detracted from the vividness but for Livvy the auric panorama was even more magnificent as the rugged plants drank in the wind driven moisture which was tossing them into wavelike patterns. “I’ll be thinking of you. As they drove over the moors they found a spot with breathtaking views of the heather. I didn’t want to give myself indigestion.” she said warmly.” “Well. She had the small bag hanging down from her shoulder. that she jumped inside herself even though she knew it was 300 . She was just closing the box of chocolates when Ross noticed that a few of them were missing. She held it in one hand whilst feeling for the fuses at the same time. “No.” Livvy told Alex where they were going and then set off with Ross. that it seemed quite petty to be playing with the tiny toys that she had in her pocket. She had deliberately thrown it onto the rough ground. She was wearing loose jeans and a T-shirt. They were quite distinct to her sensitive fingers. “that’s exactly what I feel like. It sounds like a good idea. she pulled the long fuse and tossed the pellet onto some rocky ground some ten metres away. She began counting under her breath. “You haven’t scoffed all those at once have you?” he kidded her. She didn’t want to damage any of the heat-land plants. It won’t be long before you’re out of your cage. He came in to find Livvy sitting waiting for him.” “Magnus suggested that we have a little taster on the way. you’re right. Putting her hands behind her back. The natural world was so huge and noble in its interplay with the elements.” “Yes he mentioned that. She stood for a few moments enveloped in the rush of the heathland scented air. perceived by her as a dark patch in the brilliant surround. They went out to the car through the buffeting wind and rain and were soon driving off into the late afternoon. I love lions. This was followed by a very sharp and very loud explosion. I’ve got them in my pocket like Judith described. She put Rusty back into the car and got one of them out. 16…17…18…19… There was a small intense flash which even she could see.” he replied. It was such a bang.” Five minutes later Ross brought his car around in front of the farm house. Ross helped her to feel the difference between the two fuses. an aromatic confirmation of the scene she perceived before her.

coming. It was for this very reason that she had tended to avoid the denser parts of cities.” he announced. she began to think of her prospective time in the language school in the heart of London. For Livvy to do her job. The rain had let up slightly and it was now only a slight misty drizzle.” Ross agreed. Again she felt for the two fuses. They had been using binoculars an option not open to Livvy . What would it be like around Gower Street? Was there much greenery there? Ross broke into her thoughts. they would have to be much closer. The vegetation was now largely absent and Livvy was left to guess at the surrounding topography from her perceptions of the auric shapes of the people was they walked on the concrete and tarmac surfaces. I hope I don’t get into a situation like that. She laughed out loud as the memory of some of the stories that Judith had told came back to her. Ross seemed to know where he was going. “but there could be times when someone’s coming at you so fast that even that would seem a long time. The sound of it landing had hardly reached her ears before it was again followed by the intense flash and sharp ear-splitting bang.” “I hope you don’t either. “Not much. Ross had radioed ahead to the surveillance team who had managed to gain access to a house which was for sale with vacant possession. two houses up 301 . “Here we are. It was across the street and several houses down from the suspects’ house.” “Now try a short fuse Livvy. The terraced houses were not set too far back from the pavement and they cut down a lot on the fierceness of the wind. not much time to hang around with that fuse!” she commented. Forty minutes later they were entering the outskirts of the city. Looking out of the car window.and were now about to take a well earned break as Ross and Livvy were to take over for a couple of hours. There was a parking space. They were soon driving on their way and Ross put the blower on to dry the rain off their clothes. ever since she had begun to acquire her perceptive abilities. This time she pulled the short one and tossed it over onto the rocks with the same smooth motion. no wonder they had the effect on Judith’s victims that she described. but be very careful to get it away.” Livvy got another pellet out of her pocket. I like to take things easy. we’re getting soaked out here. “Hmm.” They climbed back into the car.” “Well. Come on. You only have five seconds. “If that was what the pellets sound like.

The man behind this whole thing?” “The left side similarity to Magnus is stunning. There! They’re turning into the house. thoughtful but an underdeveloped heart. “The one on the left is quite content and at ease with himself. Livvy. I definitely 302 . It is the older one that is quite at ease with himself. “So what do you make of that?” “A highly creative scientist. Probably very rational but without the deep feeling that you find in Magnus. In fact I would say unusually so. They may have him on film already as they have been taking shots of everybody coming in and out of here.” exclaimed Livvy. He’s not much more than fifteen. “It’s the other one … the one on the right that’s up to no good. “but now that they’ve turned to go down the street.and on the same side. the door to the house opened again.” “That was so amazing Ross. The team up there have a 1000 mm telephoto lens.” Ross turned to her. I’ll instruct them as soon as their break is over.” Livvy informed him. “Oh my Gosh! I could have sworn that was Magnus.” “Yes. I can see it’s not him at all. He’s probably early forties. They had about a half hour wait before there was any activity. They got out a batch of house sales leaflets and pretended to leaf through them as if waiting for an estate agent to come and show them around the house for sale.” “Surely you mean the other way around don’t you. Livvy focussed her attention on the two auric figures who were emerging. but then when he turned his back to us I could see that his other side was very different. Two men crossed the street between some parked cars a short distance in front of them. He really did look like Magnus from one side.” “No it certainly isn’t Magnus. A young male on the right and the taller older one on the left is the same man that went in with the Magnus look-a-like.” “Could this be our mastermind. I would say quite a philosophical man who knows his path and is walking it. Ross. I can see that. The one on the right is only a young boy. They pulled in and settled down to watch. I would say it’s a definite possibility. At a guess I would say that the burly man is Montanistani as is his slimmer friend.” “Okay. This man is the same only very plain on his right side.” Just as he spoke. Magnus is quite symmetrical left to right and has a very lively aura. a brilliant mind.

mean the younger one. When I say up to no good, I don’t just mean mischievous, I mean he’s got an atmosphere of deceit and mal-intent. He’s very isolated within himself. He’s closed off and I would say hiding something significant from the older man. He’s lying big time right at this moment.” “That’s amazing Livvy. We never even paid any attention to the kid. We just noted him in passing. All our attention has been on the adults.” As they watched, the two figures had a brief conversation and then parted. The older man walked back in to the house. The younger man walked away from them and turned the corner. They got out of the car. Livvy opened the back door for Rusty and took hold of his harness. They walked down the street together, Ross guiding her arm and Rusty going on ahead. They turned the corner. The boy was walking quite fast. “The lying bit has gone now that the older man is not around. The deviousness is still there but now it is tempered with excitement rather than fear. This may not be anything to do with the fliers at all.” “Maybe not, but I still want to see what is going on.” By the time they reached the corner, the boy was well down the street and they were in danger of losing him. Ross was in two minds. He wanted to stay with Livvy but knew that she was too slow to keep up with the boy. She was so fast and light footed in the natural environment, but on the inert city pavements, she was cautious. It would come with time but he did not want to risk either pushing her too fast at this stage or losing the boy. She read his mind, naturally enough. “You go ahead, Ross. Rusty and I will return to the car. I’m pretty sure he will know which one it is. I’ve done my bit now. Besides we need to keep up the surveillance of the house. Go on. If you don’t go now, you’ll lose him.” Ross gave her the car key and then quickly followed the figure of the fast disappearing boy. Livvy turned back and began following Rusty back towards the corner which turned into the street where the car was. Her attention was on the road ahead and on finding the corner. She wanted to make sure that Rusty understood what she wanted him to do. It was only afterwards that she remembered hearing voices behind her. It was more of a hushed excited buzz followed by sudden quickening footsteps. Then came the sharp pull on her hand bag and strap. Two male figures, with bright red and yellow atmospherics storming within their auras, rushed past and turned sharply left just ahead. Confused, Livvy only

303

realised what had happened after the event. Her handbag had been wrenched from her shoulder and torn from her grasp by two men. Her heart pounded in shock and her legs trembled. They were almost collapsing under her. She felt wildly around her with her senses. There was no-one about. Should she call Ross? No it was to late to do anything and he had a job to do. She ran to what she thought was the corner where the two men had turned left. She could see the auras of grassy tufts forming a line running into the distance. This must be the street, she thought, I must get back to the car. Not having lived in dense cities before, she wasn’t to know that this was a back lane. It was a kind of alleyway running behind the terrace of houses which lined the street that she wanted to go down. It was not the street she thought it was. She turned down it. Rusty strangely held back. He had not understood the theft of the handbag. To him the two men had simply run past although he was aware of their excited energy. What he was aware of, was that his mistress was suddenly upset. Very upset. He also knew that she was going down the lane where the two men had gone and not down the street which he had assumed they were returning to. He held back. “Come on Rusty, we have to go back to the car.” She pressed ahead several steps further. Rusty positively dug his paws in. “Rusty this is not like you.” she cried. His reluctance was adding to her distress. Suddenly the dog growled. Livvy became aware of a presence creeping up on her. “Okay, where’s the rest?” Livvy turned around, startled. It was one of the men returning. “Jack! What you doing? Come on let’s go.” It was the other one behind him. “The bags got nothin’ in it! Just some money and stuff. Where’s the cards, lady?” “Jack are you nuts. Nicking ‘er bag’s one thing but you’re doin’ menace. That’s a whole other game. Come on, cut it. Let’s go.” “No way Jeff. She’s not going to make a fool out of me. For the last time, lady, where’s yer cards?” Livvy had gone suddenly cold and alert. Almost as if in slow motion she took in the intent of her attackers. It wasn’t as simple as it appeared. Both their atmospherics contained the bright vivid yellow of fear. She could also perceive something of the anger that could be heard in Jacks voice, but it was minimal

304

compared to the yellow. It was almost as if they were getting high on their own adrenaline, enjoying their own fear. She took this fact in and the realisation brought a focus into her own intent. Rusty was slightly behind her and to her right. “Rusty, don’t!” she said sharply. She saw their attention shift to the dog and there was a flair of intensity in their fear. There was also something else. The fear was breaking up into darts. That meant they were not sure of the dog. They were wondering what he might do. He was a yellow Labrador, normally docile but they probably didn’t know that. They would only know that he was big. While their attention was on the dog, she slipped a gunshot pellet out of her pocket. “No, Rusty! No! No! Hold back!” She was saying no with her words but yes with her intent. Intent was what Rusty understood. The more she spoke, the more the dog’s own intent focussed on the men and the more their fear grew. “Come on Jack! Just leave it!” “Shut up Jeff! No stupid mutt is going to scare me!” She deliberately stepped in front of the dog so that her arms holding his harness were behind her. “Not yet Rusty!” More darts and fluffiness in the patterning of their fear. These men were used to people cowering. Livvy’s own focussed atmosphere was disturbing them. She shifted the pellet into her right hand, found the short fuse placed it between her thumb and forefinger and placed her index finger ready to pull the pellet away from the fuse. She took one more step to the right. The dog appeared on her left. Rusty could sense their fear, and was following his mistress’s intent implicitly. The hair stood up on the back of his neck and he growled fiercely. Livvy had a sudden and acute memory of Judith telling her to watch the relative size of a person’s atmospherics to their aura. She had said that if a particular atmospheric grew in size to be about two thirds of a person’s aura, that person would begin to be completely controlled by that emotion. The volume of fear storming within these two men at that moment, was at least half of the volume of their auras. As it was, they were capable of violent irrational acts. If she could push it just a little further they would go into blind panic. She saw Jack’s intent shift slightly to his pocket.

305

“No Rusty, he’s got a knife!” she shouted, she jerked his collar back to make him seem to jump forward and deliberately fell to her right while the attention of the two men was fully on the dog. This gave her the opening she needed. She was just about to pull the fuse and flick the pellet behind them when a huge shout came from just down the lane. It had as shocking an effect as the exploding pellet would have had “Hey! Stop that!” She saw their attention jump immediately behind them. Their internal pattern of fear welled up large and into a jumble. From her crouching position she drove up and with her right fist, hit Jack full on in the solar plexus. She hit hard and accurately, focussing all of her energy precisely into the very centre of the trembling yellow nimbus of Jack’s fear. It was a deliberate act intended to stimulate his panic at the very centre of its location in his body. She put every ounce of her strength into the one blow. Striking him anywhere else would only have served to anger him. Struck in this way, however, his fear festooned into a burst of yellow which flashed out even beyond his aura. He went into shock. With an erratic moan - in blind panic and with staggering robotic self-active legs blindly flailing at the ground - he made a desperate bid to get out of the alley as fast as he possibly could. Jeff, seeing his bolder crony so cowed followed right behind Jack’s heels. Livvy stood standing, shaking slightly. She sensed the presence of a tall figure which seemed familiar, standing before her. “Are you all right?” the man asked. She realised now who he was. It was the man who had been with the boy earlier in front of the house. She also recognised his accent. “Yes, yes, fine all things considered.” She answered him in Arabic, her trembling voice emphasising the ‘all things considered.’ The man’s atmosphere solidified and glowed at hearing his native tongue. He reached down and picked up the bag. “Is this yours?” he asked, this time also in Arabic. She took the bag and felt it. “Yes it is, It’s not even empty.” “What happened?” he asked. His atmosphere carried a background nervousness that didn’t relate to the incident just passed. It was as though he was wary of the consequences of what he had just done.

306

“As you can probably see I am blind. I was just walking down the road being led by my dog when some men rushed up behind me and ripped my bag from my shoulder. I got lost and thought I had turned the corner but I don’t know where I am now. Then they came back and said that there was nothing in my bag except money. I don’t know what more they wanted.” “Probably your credit cards. You’ve come down an alleyway behind the street you want. I will show you the way. Do you have a mobile? Will you call the police?” “Oh no,” replied Livvy more truthfully than the man would suspect. “I couldn’t even give a description, I don’t even know how many there were. The police are so busy these days. I have my bag back. I’ll just leave it at that.” As soon as she said no to the notion of calling the police, the man’s atmosphere calmed down. So that’s what was worrying him, she thought to herself. “Yes that’s right,” he said. “You only see them in cars around here and then only when they’re going somewhere else.” He looked at her quizzically. “You’re Arabic is very good but I don’t recognise your accent.” “It’s English school girl I’m afraid,” she laughed, calming down a little now. “Oh, I would never have guessed.” He was being polite on this point but she could tell he was still impressed. “Why did you choose Arabic?” “I chose Arabic and Chinese because I think that they are the two languages of the future along with English and Spanish.” This was an oft repeating a line for Livvy, in response to an oft repeated question. This time however as she was actually speaking in Arabic, she added, “I can see a time when the Arab world will sort out their differences and then it will be a great source of ideas and inspiration for the rest of the world.” The man positively beamed. “I am thrilled to hear you say that. I must say I’m thinking of returning to my own country myself.” As he was speaking, he suddenly turned his intent and listened. Her sensitive ears picked up a faint crackle and she guessed he must have a radio wire similar to her own, attached to his ear. “Yes, of course,” he replied to the caller. He looked at Livvy. “That is my boss. We both saw the incident from that window and he sent me down. He liked what he just heard you say and he would like to meet you. Will you come in for some tea?”

307

Livvy’s hair stood on end. This was dangerous but also too good a chance to miss. “Well how kind. Yes of course I would like a brief rest before going home. I can only stay a minute though.” “Of course,” he replied, “It would be an honour. By the way, my name is Forenzo.” “Hello, Forenzo. My name is Livvy Johnson.” He turned and led the way. The call to the man reminded her of her own device. She followed his attention and as it was on the gate into the garden of the house they were to enter, she tugged down on the wire coming out of her pocket so that her ear piece came away and was pulled down inside her T-shirt. Forenzo led her through a garden, the beautiful, abundant aura of which was a salve to her heart in it’s design and display. ......................................................................... After Ross had left Livvy, he continued to follow the boy. They crossed several cross- roads until the street they were on neared a junction with a larger road. As the boy neared the junction he reduced his fast pace down to a slow but confident saunter. Ross approached a red telephone box. It was far enough back from the junction to be away from the noise of the traffic but near enough for him to see those passing by on the main road. He went in to it. Instead of just pretending to make a call, he actually did drop some coins in and telephoned Magnus. Magnus was on a mobile and the pay phone began to eat up his money as fast as he could put it in. He got enough time for a quick conversation. “Hi Magnus, It’s Ross. I’m in a call box.” ............. “Yes my mobile is working but I have to look like I’m using this thing so I’m calling you. Besides, there’s a sign on the side that says this is cheaper than a mobile.” ........... “I left Livvy to return to the car. I’m following the boy.” ........... “Yes, the family in number twenty six have a son.” ....... “Well we never took any notice of him. We just assumed he was an innocent bystander.” ........... “About fifteen or sixteen.” .......... “Livvy saw him as well as a couple of others. She said that he was up to no good.” ......... “No, she said not just up to mischief, something bigger than that.” ...... “Well I’m watching him now from this phone box. I would say at a guess that he’s either about to buy or sell some drugs.” ....... “I

308

know it’s small stuff, but it occurred to me that if he’s dealing, we could bust him and use it as an excuse to search his place. They wouldn’t know we were onto them. They would just think the little darling got his family in trouble all by himself.” ......... “Oh good. I’m glad you like it. Oh, hold on. Yes there’s a couple of younger ones coming over to him. Yes he’s supplying them. Whoops, that was a pretty sloppy exchange of cash.” ....... “Well at the moment it’s just my word against the three of them. I suggest that we get a whole team following him. Have a magistrate ready to give us a search warrant. As soon as he does it again, we’ll have some photos taken, arrest him and then go search his place and see if we can find the contraband while we’re at it.” .......... “Yeah, we’ll probably let him go with a warning but I should think his parents will string him up.”..... Ross chuckled, “Yeah you too Magnus.” He placed his finger to cancel the call but kept the receiver by his ear. The boy was walking back. He had sold to four different youngsters during the call. Ross looked the other way as the boy walked by. He seemed to be totally unaware that he was being watched. Ross followed at a more leisurely pace. Eventually the boy reached the corner. Ross was far enough behind that the boy was just re-entering his house when Ross himself reached the corner. He walked down the road, fully expecting to see Livvy sitting in the car. She was not there! She had the keys, so he could not get into the car. He would have to wait and he didn’t want to be seen loitering on the very street he was supposed to be keeping surveillance of. He retraced his steps back to the corner. He hoped he was not making an overt display of himself. He went back up the street, past the end of the alleyway and on up to where he and Livvy had parted. She had vanished totally. He called her on the radio. There was no reply. He looked back down the street. Suddenly there she was. She had emerged from the alleyway about a hundred metres behind him. He was going to run and catch up when he saw that she was being led by a man. Ross recognised him as the tall older man from the house. He was the one that had accompanied the burly man in and had also had the conversation with the boy. The man led Livvy to the corner and pointed her down the road. He set her on her way then returned to go back down the alley. As soon as he had gone, Ross passed the alleyway and then turned the corner. He saw Livvy, led by Rusty go to the car, pause briefly than carry on. To save the risk of being seen from the house, Ross retraced his steps and went right

309

..... 310 .” replied Livvy.. Give me the streets of Montanibad any day.” “Thank you Mr..... .. I am Darius Al Hunza..” “Yes.” she answered.. “If Forenzo hadn’t come along when he did. “Maybe television is a healthier way of doing it though... I don’t know what would have happened... looking for him.....” His words chilled her.. “If they make the wrong choice.. She knew better than to differ.. As he did so his radio crackled into life... drugs just help them off the planet a little faster. wondering if he was party to the conversations of all of his staff... A burley figure greeted her warmly. Forenzo led her into a large spacious room near the front of the house.... It’s not as though we can blame anybody but ourselves.. “I was so distressed to see what happened to you and I’m delighted to see that you are unhurt........... “People make their choices.. Al Hunza..around the block the other way.. “Those men sounded English too.” he sounded almost angry now. While Ross was still in the phone booth.” she ventured... If you choose the latter then just get stoned and get out of here!” He caught himself and realised that he was a bit over the top as far as his guest was concerned....” His Arabic was beautifully clear with a Montanistani accent.. He already knew Livvy’s name... Livvy and Forenzo had entered the back of the house with Rusty leading the way.” “Either you love your fellow human beings or you love your own indulgences..... “What do you mean choices.” Livvy could read in his atmosphere that he was leading somewhere so she deliberately chose not to argue the point....” “Well...” “Britain is such a dangerous place nowadays..” “I expect they wanted the money for drugs.. She perceived him warming to the subject...... It was Livvy.. I’m afraid it’s a big problem here... “Livvy... I guess if the vision of the country is to provide pleasure for its people then a thriving drug scene is inevitable..” “Yes.

we were having an age of enlightenment.” “Oh? How do you think it is going on now?” “It’s the money. mathematics. I too have a vision that it could be like that. It was something that she felt deeply about. He calmed himself down. could switch in a split second from that of a benevolent philanthropist to that of an angry paranoiac. and civilisation in general. she was soon to realise. a pet hate of mine. Twelve hundred years ago during the time you call the dark ages. I liked what you said about the Arab world. and then back again. If you own the money and control the exchange rates. Forenzo brought in a tray billowing with the aroma of freshly brewed tea and an assortment of eastern biscuits. Well yes.” “Yes. “It was the crusades. It doesn’t matter how many bright ideas other people have. the one that she had first noticed outside the house. It was the benevolent side of him. it was something that she had researched as part of her Arabic studies. it was. it was a terrible thing to do. “We have to because of our work you understand. That’s why we have a radio connection. I would really like to know more about that. The influence of what we did then can still be felt all over the world today.” “Yes I realise that Darius. design. What do you think happened?” “What happened? I’ll tell you what happened. Will you have some tea?” As he spoke. When he came down to help you.” “Please. call me Darius. That was really what was behind my thinking too. “Yes. The West owns all the money. if you’ve got the money you just steal 311 . And it has gone on ever since. We led the world in architecture. I’ll tell you. Al Hunza. I listened in to make sure every thing was all right. which reminded her of Magnus. it doesn’t matter how hard other people work.“I’m sorry.” Livvy could see him struggling to control the other side of himself. He was struggling to hide this alter ego from her. Darius’s atmosphere. you just buy their labour for pennies. the invasion of the West and the undermining of our culture. art.” “That’s really interesting Mr.” He was explaining his eavesdropping. “Forenzo and I keep in close touch. I feel quite embarrassed to be part of a culture that was part of that and has condoned it until very recently. It doesn’t matter how many natural resources other countries have you just buy them for a pittance. Indeed in my vision it is already becoming that.” Livvy was speaking from her heart on this.

I’ve not heard any of this. “I have business interests that are world wide. but not by very much. It sounds fantastic. there’s education. I don’t use the word as a euphemism for aggression and invasion of other peoples lands and cultures. All we ever hear of here in the West is bad news. I have been using my business acumen and the financial resources at my disposal to create a new community in my homeland. 312 . He was finally able to stuff it into a corner of his presence.” For a brief second. It was not one of pride.” Livvy was amazed. It’s the longest running ongoing crime that ever was and soon it’s going to come to an end!” Darius’s atmosphere was in a turmoil. from achieved reality into the realm of his projected vision.” Livvy was genuinely intrigued. That’s a start. especially about non-western areas. there’s a new sense of identity that we are a great people and I believe we are now getting a new breed of leaders who have our deepest cultural interests at heart. it was a true creative essence. “What do you think is changing then?” she asked innocently “What is changing?” Darius was more in control of himself now. then regained control.” For a moment. “Well there’s the oil and the wealth that that brings in. We have our weapons and we can defend ourselves. We are building roads and policing ourselves. and I mean defence. he struggled again with the alter-ego. They are productive and beautiful to behold. We will look after ourselves and deal with outside corruption. I see it and I’m participating in it. Everything about his atmosphere was telling her that he was speaking the truth. “My goodness. Instead of growing the businesses for their own sake. “We have rebuilt the wonderful agricultural systems of terraces and underground irrigation that were so cleverly devised by our ancestors. anywhere. Darius. She chose to not wind him up any further for the time being.them and buy the patent. Livvy watched in amazement as he struggled to get it under control. “What is it that your doing. Where is this taking place? I’d like to know more. Darius?” His atmosphere gathered. We are establishing new businesses … valid honest businesses … not the deceitful self-serving enterprises like you have here in the West. Darius’s alter-ego took over. Perhaps he was extending his description a little.

Then there’s the stock market. Thank you for asking. the crime. there was the emergence of deep concern and worry. “We need people who can act as interpreters. he had switched back to the philanthropist. Would you like to come and work for us?” 313 . In her less than fully developed ability to read these things. You speak Chinese too. they take it an run as soon as the pressure comes on. That’s very good. No way. The West is already crumbling before our very eyes and it’s going to get worse!” Livvy had already realised the wisdom of not arguing against this aspect of Darius’s character. Well we’re not … we’re a great culture. “Do you have a family. He continued fumbling slightly for words. “Yes. she could have sworn that he was planning just such a catastrophe himself. Darius?” “There’s the drugs. the crowded roads full of cars with only one person. Darius. Something had or was happening that we was deeply uncertain about.” Livvy didn’t have much trouble holding her tongue. leave their precious grubbily earned shares alone to avoid disruption to their so called civilised society. any children?” “Yes… Yes I do. “How so. She also perceived a certain focus of intent when he spoke of future catastrophes.“The West with its glib television and its arrogant newspapers is so wrapped up in its own importance that they think that all the other people in the world are just animals. I am very proud of them. Instead of an upsurge of warmth. She decided to speak to the softer side of him. It surprised Livvy to see a sudden change in Darius’s atmosphere. They are back in Montanistan. She decided to change the subject yet again. the lonely people who hardly know each other. “I would love to know more about this wonderful new development. Then there won’t be anywhere to run to.” Livvy could tell he was lying… he was covering something up. She knew there was a certain truth in what he said. Darius.” the big man replied.” Her strategy had worked. I know we have that in my country too but here you are supposed to be at the peak of your civilisation and look at the mess. even to himself. There’ll be more catastrophes and they’ll take their money and run once too often. a wife. It’s run by cowards. They’re the real rot. vindictive as his atmosphere was. Some incident happens and do you think they will support their country.” “And so you shall my dear.

” “That you certainly are. Should I be careful?” For a moment there was a fusion between the two sides of Darius. “I’ll take your advise. “Live a simple and contemplative life.“Darius. I know you need to get home. Well. You know that I can’t read this. I really do need to develop my skills. Rusty who had been lying quietly on the floor got up and she took hold of his lead. “I live in it. 314 . As Forenzo led Livvy down the garden path. There is a lot more to interpreting than simply being able to speak the languages reasonably well.” “Hmm. I’m afraid that I have a place in a language school for the next three years. I’m used to finding other ways to sense things out.” “Yes. I realise that you are blind. His atmosphere was now more smug than devious. returning through the front door. she had a sudden inspiration.” she said. I don’t have any cards.” he said. He hardly gave her the slightest glance and she had no desire to draw attention to herself.” As Forenzo guided her through the house the front door opened and she was aware of the presence of the boy.” “I’m sorry I just was out on a jaunt with my dog. True.” His atmosphere contained a sincere aspect of puzzlement as if he was close to being aware of the nature her special powers.” She nodded. We need people like you who can bridge the cultural and the language barriers. That’s a very generous offer.” “Give my card to somebody who can read it for you. there was no doubt in her mind that she had just met a most extraordinary man in Darius.” he assured her. Have you a card? Here is mine. Livvy began moving out of the room.” “I will Darius. You seem so cognitive of your surroundings?” He let the sentence finish as a question. she was also aware that he was an extraordinarily dangerous man. I will. She turned back to Darius “The crumbling West. Contact me when you want a job. As she began to make her preparations to leave. From what she had seen in the dual nature of his atmospherics. “It is hard to realise that you are though. The kindly philanthropist enfolded the aggressive paranoid and they both spoke as one. I will hold the door open for you. “Be careful Livvy. I’m a good listener. “I’ve been blind since birth.

I know he’s on the other side. They walked from the car. I didn’t want to walk in front of the house again. “That was a really traumatic thing to have to go through. through the lashing rain into the warm friendly front lounge of the farm to be greeted by the others.Forenzo led her out onto the street.” It didn’t catch up with her. showed her around the corner and set her on her way.” “Good. She didn’t want to risk getting in and being seen by the occupants of the house. “I hope that it doesn’t catch up with you. the rain began to come down in torrents. She paused and pulled the wire from her radio out from under her T-shirt and plugged it back into her ear. As they drove back to the farmhouse. but he’s a very reassuring person to be around.” Ross was very relieved to see her. Ross. Should I wait here?” “Yes. he began to realise that this extraordinary woman had the wherewithal to look after herself in the most dire of situations. I feel fine now. I’ll be there in two seconds.” she replied. I’m coming around that way myself from the other direction. I see you now.” Ross said with relief.” “I was really shook up. as if I’ve had a more of an exciting adventure than a trauma.” “ No Ross. She continued to walk down the road turning the next corner. I continued down the street and turned left again. 315 . Where are you now? Not in the car I hope. as they drove down the narrow lane that led to the farmhouse. “Ross. I just saw you being led out of an alleyway. Oh. I will meet you and get the keys and drive around for you. Livvy told Ross what had happened and by the time he heard her story. are you there?” “Livvy! I was worried sick about you. “but the meeting with Darius happened so soon after that the shock didn’t have time to set in. She walked down to the street until Rusty stopped by the car. Losing her like that had brought up a mixture of guilt for leaving her and fear for her safety. “Are you all right?” he asked when she had finished. Ross.

The storm was to their advantage as it was giving time for Alex to recover. there was a full blown gale going on. 316 . Emotionally however. For him in particular however.had been weighing on him. He couldn’t even have used the time to go out and practice in order to generate psychological reassurance. the awareness of how much the operation was going to call on his individual skills . Physically the remaining members of the team had been comfortable. they had been on edge.and how many things could go wrong if he didn’t get it right . Their hosts at the farm house were very good cooks and knew how to look after their guests. By the late afternoon as they were returning to the coast. Then the rain returned.Chapter 32 The Strike The wind built up on Tuesday morning while Livvy and Ross were away in the city.

I’ll bet you would.” He laughed softly. Even if I could. That evening. So great was the contrast between their present setting and the one that was to come. soggy feet. say in a life or death situation. Magnus walked round in front of Alex.” “I don’t really feel like one either. “You’re on the deck of a trawler out there about twenty kilometres off shore. sometimes I would be making no headway. You’ve been asked to fly twenty kilometres over that lot out there …to reach the land over here …whilst carrying three kilos of something. it really 317 . Magnus took Alex out. They both had fisherman’s rain hats on.” “Yup. What would you do?” “My initial instinct would be to say ‘no way!’ …Just thinking things through though. I can imagine the buffeting and crosscurrents as well.” It was Magnus opening the discussion. Magnus let Alex push himself most of the way as his arm had now recovered sufficiently to do that. That might take an hour. settling to say fifty-five.He had been in forced reclusion like this for a week.” said Magnus. “One thing you’ll never experience is freezing cold.” “I’d give up flying and have them wet twice a day. I just don’t think I could do that with no altitude or thermals. “So.” “Some things can be deceptive …” Their eyes met. sometimes just moving forward at about fifteen per hour. “It’s just that you don’t exactly look like Britain’s answer to a major terrorist threat at the moment. It also needed the continued use to ease the aching from the physio’s visit earlier in the day. I could never fly at about seventy per hour. Alex had wrapped himself in a water proof poncho and Magnus was dressed in a long raincoat and wellington boots. They reached the brink of the cliff as it was starting to get dark. You’re lucky in that respect. just before they left. Then. He was recovering well but extra time would stand him in good stead. that the creature comforts of their accommodation somehow only added to the tension. just to have them in the first place. Even if I was really desperate. It was about a kilometre walk to the edge of the cliffs. The wind is off shore gusting to seventy kilometres per hour. “Let’s go. with a precious three kilo load to worry about as well …I have to say Magnus. this is the scenario. They moved out from the lee of the farmhouse into the wind driven rain.

” concluded Magnus.” “Mmmh.” As if to emphasise his point. thinking about what I’ve done with my life. “I’m standing here Alex. He was also surprised at the contents of Magnus’s inner thoughts. “You certainly made a huge difference in my life.” Alex was startled at being taken into confidence like this by Magnus. He’s the one that keeps coming up with the inspired ideas and I.” “Maybe they were watching the weather too and came in yesterday.would have to be life of death for me to even try it.” said Alex. just keep plodding along behind. the supposed good guy.” mused Magnus. but I would be flying. I don’t know what I would be doing now. As they passed the cliff tops.” “Has something upset you?” 318 .” agreed Alex. It didn’t come. The so-called bad guy. Alex waited for a cue from Magnus to set off back to the farmhouse. Despite the driving rain. trying to figure it out.but basically my career has been a lot of uninspired hard work. almost backwards. I’ve come up with a few innovations . “That was inspired. It would have had to have been Sunday. They say every brilliant idea is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. and if they get forced down. Magnus kept looking out to sea. two seagulls passed overhead on their way to their night roost. “I don’t think even a zealot would risk it tonight for the sake of another day. and I would almost certainly not make it.” “Well. Yesterday wasn’t much better than this. Alex. just logically designing systems. They came from inland and appeared to be flying sideways.” “That wasn’t my idea. they went into a dive. “Yes. If it wasn’t for you.little inventions here and there . “They seem pretty much at home. My part just seems to be 100% perspiration on other peoples inspired ideas. The enemy.” “I think that’s right. After all. It was his. The Coast Guard didn’t see anything …Nothing’s one hundred percent certain anyway. You saw something in me what nobody else could. they waited seven days already. picking up enough speed to catch up on the wind and enter safely into the lee of the cliff below. they just bob about on the surface for a while before taking off again. slightly perplexed. I’m banking on tomorrow.

They’re seabirds who spend most of their life at sea. but he also analysed the behaviours of fulmers and shearwaters. we could make out a peculiar pattern to his flightpath. You will remember that there was a stiff breeze coming onshore. Surely if he could beat his wings to get enough headway to keep him aloft. “In order to get back. Alex. “I’d love to have the skill to do that. However.“Yeah …” Magnus paused.like you said. The wind near the surface of the sea forms different layers that shear over each other. “The flier was able to use the wave lift to take him up to 2. Faint as the radar signal was.” “Wasn’t he coming in with the wind.” “Wow. Sailors used to watch them dive and skim the surface of the sea before climbing again. the windspeed would be added to his headway and he would get ashore in no time.” answered Magnus. He would soar at about thirty to forty metres making headway on the wind . You know this because you were using it yourself to soar up and down the line of the cliff.” Magnus continued.” said Alex. He went and looked it up and it fitted perfectly into the flight pattern. He just circled and circled until be was so high that he could go into a shallow dive all the way back to his ship with hardly any effort. Alex. getting excited.” Alex nodded. incredible as that may sound. How could he do that? …and why would he do that? Suddenly Fred remembered something he had read in Scientific American back in the early Seventies.” “That was the easy part. each layer getting faster the higher up it is. We were puzzled by his flight path. we looked at a report from the Coast Guard. “When Fred and I went back to ISD.” “That’s hard work. Then he would reappear again a couple of minutes later in the same spot. He researched all the normal stuff on thermals and wave-lift. the waves on the surface of the sea slow the wind down to well under half the ambient speed. They were exploiting a phenomenon called wind layering. That breeze was creating a standing wave-lift of upward moving air as it hit the cliff face. It was the radar tracking of the flight path of the flier. The sailors just thought they were fishing but it turns out that they weren’t. while you waited.500 metres.” 319 . It was the way he got in that was so astonishing. but then he would disappear off the screen. It was a piece of work done by a man named Clarence Cone jnr on the flight of birds. The wind thirty metres and above goes at full speed. “and it’s not what he did.

Alex was looking up at Magnus in fascination. you end up ten or twenty metres above where you started from. We’re the good guys.Despite the driving rain. “What Cone found. seemed to brighten a little. You go into an increasingly steep dive building your speed up by another 60. so your doing 60 and you’re some 30 metres up off of the surface of the sea. 320 . is flying along with the wind …say it’s doing 40 Ks.” He looked out to sea. What we are talking about here. Your flying 20 on top of that. They’re supposed to be the bad guys. he looked down at Alex. his mouth half agape. it’s all right for a medium sized bird that can swim.” Due to his youth. You can then glide for free for a couple of kilometres before you have to do it again. All we’re doing is following them along a couple of years later. The magic is. They’re not only thinking of these things but they’re actually doing them as well. “He did that …out there. “That’s what it looks like. Alex didn’t really know what to say that would be helpful. mesmerised. You are then biting into a slow 18 K headwind but you’re doing 120 Ks and you’re only flying two or three metres above the highest wave tops. yet they’re the creative geniuses. The older man continued. The wind blew the rain in his face as he looked up at his mentor. “I guess that’s our job. blow me down. in the pitch dark?” he said. Following after them.” said Alex.” “Well. it’s another thing for a man in a wingsuit who can’t …especially at night. because of the speed differential. Alex. Magnus. As you near the surface of the water. We’re just looking after the country. returning his gaze. until you nearly stall. Then you have to turn with the wind and glide down again. “Well. Alex.” “Wow! Tell me how it’s done. trying to figure it all out. not us.” Alex was staring out to sea. you turn hard so that you end up flying back upwind. After all we’re not planning anything. From there. was that the fulmers were exploiting this wind-speed differential to get a free ride for hours at a time with virtually no effort at all. The whole thing can be done with little more effort than it takes to control your flight.” “That’s what I find so depressing. He answered his own question. Alex. you start to climb rapidly up through the different layers of air speed.

.. that’s for sure.... Alex.. They all synchronised watches and then the three of them left.chewing our nails if you’re like me . let’s just do it.. Come on. What we can’t risk is for us to not be there and ready for them if they do decide to do it. “That’s a good question... we’re soaked.. there’s not going to be any wave-lift up a cliff out there where the trawler is. “not ideal mind. Don’t be surprised if they have something totally unexpected up their sleeves.. she was about to be a major player 321 ...” “So.. against the wind?” said Alex. They sat around the fire.” “There. but sufficiently clement for our friends to risk it if they felt so inclined. Livvy was fully behind what they were doing. “we’ve caught them up. it would have been much harder to tell if flier would risk making the flight...... Having been soft and sensuous all of her life... “perhaps a weather balloon would take him up high enough..” said Alex. We have to wait until they come.. It’s time to go!” Chas. Anyway..” chipped in Alex. not the other way around. Ken and Livvy with Rusty would be the first to leave. They get to rest up and then do what they have to do. By Wednesday it was much clearer...” Alex observed.. yet at the same time full of doubt about her own role in the strategy.” “Let’s hope so. “The weather’s improved.. The winds are still gusting to 30 kilometres per hour but on average they are about 20.” remarked Magnus.and we have to go out every night..” said Magnus. Now we’re thinking in advance about what they’re going to do...” “We’ve certainly got surprise on our side. “and it’s going to be like this for a few days... all night until they decide to move..... These are very clever people.” replied Magnus.. That’s a big disadvantage for us. Let’s go have a pint!” ..... It was leading her headlong towards a rapid loss of innocence. If Magnus and Alex had made the same journey that evening as they had the night before... when they decide to do it..” “They only think they’ve nothing to worry about......... The storm began to abate in the night. “actually they’ve got more to worry about than we do.“The wind is off shore now. How are they going to get the altitude to glide in... We’re sitting here .... “That’s right......

They had ample time to do this before the soonest possibility of an encounter. The wings were facing inland into the wind. six kilometres north and four kilometres east of the launch site. “I’m sorry. Alex nodded. third generation night scope. He lifted the wings and was airborne in an instant. It held the new state of the art. yet it was her deep desire to be with him that had led her into this betrayal of everything that she had understood herself to be. Alex was finding her withdrawn and stand-offish. There was still sufficient wind to make it difficult to deploy the wing suit and get it mantled down. You’re really starting off with a loaded saddle. They would need two and a half hours to prepare the small fishing vessel and then to set off to reach the anticipated point of interception four kilometres off shore and deploy the jet boat. She thought about him sadly as she left. Meanwhile Ross. They climbed into Magnus’s van and drove off. aggressive act. Magnus came over and put Alex’s helmet on for him. Fred. He got himself up and clipped in his jacket. He managed to flatten out in time to pick up the anti-current that bounced him back 322 .” he said over the sound of the wind. He had never been up in anything quite like it before. “but this is another half a kilogram on top of the three that the net weighs. The contact somehow gave her resolve even though no words were spoken. Her soft and sensuous side was in revolt. He didn’t have to pull on the wings at all. He somehow understood. The dynamics of the wind were a shock for Alex. They went to their rooms and sat in silence for a time before gathering outside. This time Alex didn’t have to slide under the tail. Within a few seconds he was right out to sea and about ten metres higher than the cliff top. He dove to get up some speed.in an extensive. He reached out and touched her hand as she passed by.” Alex replied stoically. He caught the essence of her attention.” replied Magnus.” “Can’t be helped. Magnus and Alex would only need two hours to go to the launch site. She paused and squeezed his hand back. She knew that she was being unfair to him. deploy the wing suit then launch it in time for Alex to gain the necessary altitude before flying to the interception point. It was still light outside as they left to drive down to the harbour. but found as he passed below the lip of the cliff that there was huge turbulence that almost pushed him onto the dashing waves below. “Good luck.

His arms ached. a problem was emerging which they hadn’t foreseen. he could establish a vector taking him northward. He was cruising at a steady 25 into the wind. the two hamlets blazed like Piccadilly Circus and the distant cliffs appeared as if bathed in an eerie green daylight. He turned out to sea and let himself go with the wind. Once he had picked out the flier with this thing. so bright was the image.up again.registered such a tiny blip that he would have normally gone unnoticed on the Coast Guard screens. The moon was in first quarter and could just be seen through the scudding clouds. Getting the four kilometres out would be easy. The waves below him appeared as writhing green and black corduroy. The wind was off shore blowing at 20 kilometres per hour. One hundred and ten metres. It tended to spoil his night vision. He found that if he could maintain a steady thirty five against the wind’s average of twenty. It was intensifying the ambient light some sixty thousand times. The flier . This way he was able to maintain position with slow drift towards the shore. to keep from drifting too far as he gained on the wind. As was so often the case. He was glad to be aloft again. gusting to 30. When he did that however. The lights of Scarborough could be seen to the south and the two hamlets he used as reference points shone their warm inviting lights from the now distant shore line. He began pulling on the wings to build up headway so that he could gain altitude. That was what the conspirators were banking on. His electronic altitude metre glowed as red figures in the left hand corner of his visor. He would have to time things very well if he was to get it right. The plan was to wait for the radar on the Coast Guard to pick up the flier. he was then covering 45 to 50 Ks so that soon he had to turn back into the wind or be swept right out to sea. but they ‘ached good. even though he was pointed briefly in the right direction. In it. Every once in a while he would peer into the night vision screen.being only half the size of a normal person . The problem was he pointed in the wrong direction! He found that he would have to circle back every once in a while. he would be able to track him right through to impact. be was able to gain more control of his flight.’ It wasn’t the complaint of abused muscles. Soon with some height and some distance from the turbulence caused by the contours of the land. He gained height steadily as he flew. It was so obvious that Alex was amazed that they hadn’t seen it before. The radar technicians were 323 .

Everybody else was a player. I’ll be able to time your turning. already crammed into the flippers. the length of them seemed to melt into a short dreamlike past memory soon to be forgotten as anything other than that long. If only the circumstances were different. At this very moment she had Alex in her awareness. That’s it. however. In order to maintain position into the wind. so the chances of him passing them by were slim. Her ability to pick up on the near white aura of the flier would be far more accurate than the radar.” 324 . Alex. The trawler was tossing in the waves not to far away. It would be her primarily. being from off shore. I’ve got a problem. I’ve got you pinpointed about one kilometre towards the shore. She kept that awareness on one side of her consciousness as she scanned the sky for the flier. Livvy. Chas. It was four o’clock when the call came in from Magnus. Livvy also had a keen ability to pick up on Alex’s whereabouts. She would be able to guide Chas in with the powerful night vision equipment that was on board the jet boat. She pulled the coat more tightly around her wet suit. She longed to be with him. yet as the hours passed. “Magnus here. I’m pointed in the wrong direction. She was glad that she had only had a light lunch. Coast Guard reports nothing so far as thirty kilometres out. The wind. coming out of the wheel house to reconnoitre the situation. cold night that the flier didn’t show up. She was feeling nauseous.” “Livvy. dark. They were on essential radio silence but she decided communication was essential at this time. who timed the interception. There’s a glimmer from the coming dawn.” “Alex. Time in each moment seemed to drag laboriously on. poured her some hot chocolate from out of a flask. The second line of detection was through Livvy.” Livvy’s heart felt warm from the brief verbal encounter. Let’s go home. It was this that weighed so heavily on her. More importantly she was right on location. Thanks I’ll need it. were beginning to go numb with the cold. “Livvy.” “Alex. was not building up huge waves but the water was still very choppy.alerted. Her feet. The attack was entirely her call. Livvy couldn’t see it but the iridescence from it’s wake as it kept headway into the waves filled the lower part of her awareness. She could occasionally catch perception of the muffled glow of Ken. They had already picked him up twice.

It was with a dull numbness that the sea team set about their return journey. it was to be a much more difficult flight inwards than it had been going out. the thought of having to do this for twenty kilometres would certainly have put the flier off. A few hours sleep and he would be raring to fly again! Thursday saw the wind die down and clouds set in. Livvy had spent the hour before they set out once again. He remembered what Magnus had told him the night before. Soon his momentum began to slow so he climbed again into the faster air. sitting close by Alex. He was being cautious and had flattened out at about 15 metres. They rushed up and helped him mantle the wing-suit down. There was no doubt about it. It was dangerously near daylight by the time he glided up onto the cliff top beside Magnus. For Alex. “You just rest now. the wind was much slower down here and he was covering a lot of distance with very little effort. it was helping by giving valuable rest to his aching arms. To his amazement. picked up some speed and then dove again into the slower wind below. He began to flatten out and turn back into the wind. He was very cold and exhausted but he was also young. He felt his arms really begin to ache as he maintained full flight into the wind. He longed to take her in his arms but he knew that it was not the right time. Magnus unzipped him and helped him into his chair. She held his hand in hers on her lap with her other hand on his huge muscular shoulder. Ross and Fred. Everybody in the room knew that this 325 . Of all the jobs that were done that night. the faster air began to give him lift and soon he was back up to 40 metres before he lost all his momentum. keeping a cross heading to take him well south. Early evening found them right back where they had been twenty four hours before. He glanced at his altitude. Alex had really pulled the short straw. Although his technique was clumsy. Soon he was doing a good sixty over the water below. He went into a dive and began to pick up even more speed. She was very quiet and he could feel her deep sadness. He looked into his night scope at the waves rushing up at him from below. He turned back with the wind. It was very difficult to tell how high up he was. 150 metres.” he said kindly as he helped Alex into the van. It was true. The wind down there was only about 15 Ks and he was flying diagonally across it at about 90. He turned to go with the wind and worked his wings to gain some speed. We’ll do the rest. The two teams rested for most of the day after their long night of exertions.

Tracking as before. She felt it even though she couldn’t see it. She pressed another button on the same devise. They were each on edge but felt ready to do what they had to do.would be the night the flier would come and they were very grateful for the practice run that they had had the night before. without these encumbrances. thirty per hour ground speed.’ said the mechanical voice. These two were like children to him. The others had already got up and were passing out of the room when Livvy stepped back. “Magnus. She held Alex in the corner of her perceptions as before. Below. was gentle enough that he only had to head into the shore marginally more that he was able to head out from it. 326 . ETA twenty-two minutes. We’ve got company. This time it was Chas who set the mission off with a simple. The wind was now soft and mellow. ‘Oh one twenty one and fifteen seconds. This time however. it all felt light and easy for them. He was now able to circle to maintain position. She concentrated on allowing a stillness to come into her heart. Two and a half hours after the sea team had left. looking down at the tiny lights of the hamlets behind him and the lights of Scarborough to the south. Report from CG. Her flippers were again on her feet and another cup of hot chocolate was in her cupped hands. That’s one every two minutes. still off shore.” she whispered. A sense of calm began to pervade her consciousness.” Livvy felt a hard lump in her throat. my love. this night was having the same effect. Now fifteen. This one beeped the quarter minutes and spoke the full minutes. the radio receivers in their ears suddenly crackled. Without the high buffeting wind. “Take care. Only Magnus had seen the encounter. The waves were just gentle swells. She left the room. It reminded Alex of a story of how the Romans used to practice for battle with rocks in their back packs and weights on their swords so that when the real thing came. The breeze. as it had done the night before. She pressed a button on her watch. It began to work. He smiled up at her. She bent down and kissed Alex gently and fully on the lips. high in the blackness. He loved them both as such and it moved him to see their interaction. Alex was back. What followed was a much milder version of the operation the night before. It gave her the reassurance she needed. “Time to go!” They got up and began their preparations. the minutes and then the hours ticked by. Again. First spotted eighteen out. Livvy was again wrapped up well with a coat over her wet suit. She waited. beep beep beep.

He felt a thrill as his stomach was pulled down by the speed of his turn. In the night scope the lights of Scarborough were making the underside of the clouds glow brightly. Nothing. I’m at one hundred and twenty metres. Four minutes to go. spoken in those terms seemed almost altruistic. gliding coast-wards. As pre-planned. Turn now. “Alex. concealing even from herself the fact that what she was about to perform was a proactive ambush.” She took off her coat and holding Chas’s arm pointed out the distant figure. Alex bear north two more degrees. she spoke into her radio. He was still at one hundred twenty metres. Suddenly there he was! He felt a panic at the closing speed but quickly gathered his wits. turn back the two degrees south. He pulled back on his left arm and felt the right wing dip. You’re a kilometre west. “Livvy.” Alex reversed the manoeuvre. “Livvy. He began to scan the horizon. two kilometres seaward. He lowered his head and raised his eyes to peer into the night scope. Suddenly he remember the net. “Livvy. The corduroy rotated back. Alex glanced at his altimeter and clock. Alex … I’ve got you a kilometre towards the shore and slightly to the north of us.” “Livvy. a military strike. Livvy … I read you. Alex you’re now set. The time was one forty and fifteen seconds. then at the clock readout.” High above. Okay Alex. Her mission. It was another minute before he could pick out the figure as a faint blur silhouetted against the cloud. He’s about to pass over us in just under two minutes. I see him.” Alex glanced at is altimeter. he’s a kilometre east. He felt the air spill a little out of that side and he could see the corduroy of the waves below turn slightly as if on a turntable. “Livvy. Chas brought up the night vision scope. He let go of the left wing and the right lifted back up. I’ll turn when you say.She took on a new attitude … that it was her job to protect the flier … that it was her job to ensure that he was brought down cleanly without injury and then to be lifted from the water as soon as possible to prevent any chance of his being drowned or even shocked by the freezing cold North Sea waters.” He tugged gently on the right wing tip. It was what Magnus termed a bit ‘Mickey Mouse’ but it 327 .

This served to straighten him but he had lost all speed and was being dragged down and backwards with a sickening yank by the ensnared disabled flier below him. meeting his thirty. he would certainly have succeeded. came a memory. then just reach down and pull this lever. He was virtually sideways on when the edge of the net swept in and caught one wing and spun him around. He tightened his stomach muscles feeling the buffeting strain of the roaring wind as this manoeuvre pulled his tail under and forced him into a steep dive. It was one of those angelic unexpected moments. It was as if he could see the net. He was pulled sharply and dangerously to the left by the stays. Within seconds the two were plummeting in a most inglorious drugged fashion towards the freezing waters of the North Sea. The flier was not only growing alarmingly in size but seemed to rise also as Alex’s dive bit into the cold night air. For one awful second it looked as if he was going to get away. To his own horror and terror. In another second he loosed one arm.worked. Alex’s mind began to go into a stupor of fear. saying almost as a throwaway remark. Alex. The wind began to roar in his ears and the wing suit began to shudder as his speed built up and the pull strengthened from the net stretched out below him.” The vision lasted one second. he reached down with his chin and pulled the cord with his teeth. Suddenly into that encroaching trance. desperately to the left. The impact was glancing. then suddenly jerk back as the net opened and the kites bit into the air pulling it wide. He glanced anxiously at the red glowing figures inset in his helmet. If the net had been stationary. He was about to start to pull out when suddenly to his amazement the flier veered desperately in an attempt to get out of the way. with the wind behind it was now rushing at him at seventy kilometres per hour. two days ago. realised that the skewed impact had not been enough to loose the net from his own wing suit. The third second he heard the splash as the flier hit the water 328 . The net however. a tiny piercing scream of horror and terror. He tried frantically to counter by increasing lift on his left wing tip. Alex got the rapidly approaching flyer in his scope. With relief he saw that he was right on the prescription thirty-five per hour. reached down. He felt himself lurch forward as the three kilo weight left him. lurching even. It was a vision of Fred. found the lever and pulled it. Unable to let go of his arms. Alex could hear the tearing of fabric and over the rush of wind in his ears. “If it doesn’t come loose. now as shocked and frightened as the flier obviously was. His thirty was turning.

He looked about him and began to triangulate his position with respect to the distant lights on the shore. that it was realised how miraculous this seeming unfortunate turn of events had been. manoeuvring and guiding himself through the turbulent air as he continually fought to gain height. parachuting him to safety. Magnus had given Alex clear instructions to leave the area and follow part two of his mission. He began to circle the area. He would feel the need to stay flying above her as she braved the cold water to retrieve the flier. Alex clicked the magnification up several notches as he passed over the site. A small group of five. He felt in his heart that he was abandoning her as he pulled hard on the wings. Alex soared high into the night sky. had it not been for Alex’s entangled wing suit. He pulled out of the dive so near to the water that Fred later found salt strains where the foam had dried on the wings. The flier’s landing site must be a couple of hundred metres south of there. Suddenly there they were. the fourth second would have been him going in too had he remained tangled. it instantly enlivened itself and turned into a dive. His exertions cleared his mind from the turmoil of his brush with disaster. He dropped the night vision sight back down into place on his helmet. Freed from the heavy drag of the net and the flier. From the height that he had now achieved the water appeared more as a finely woven green cloth than a corduroy.below him. Picking up essential speed Alex arched his back to lift his tail. Magnus had anticipating that the emotional connection that Alex had with Livvy would make him reluctant to leave the area after his part in the operation had been completed. He levelled off at nine hundred metres. Soon he had picked out the cleft in the cliff leading to the ledge where he had crashed ten days before. The cold night air felt calmer and more friendly as he ceased to contend with it and began to ride the gently buffeting cushions in an easy glide. It was not until the analysis later. the line of cliffs drifted onto the bright green of the night-scope screen. After some minutes. Alex was deeply concerned for Livvy’s safety. He was aware that somewhere below Livvy and Charlie would be picking up their part of the mission in the cold dark waters where the flier had come down. Like a cat. 329 . The wingsuit was well balanced in a flat position. He began to examine the contours. He got his arm back and re-tensioned the wing. The flier’s manoeuvre would have spun him into the sea so fast that he would have been killed.

he had to take careful note of the configuration of the craggy cliff edge. He was now moving and had become clearer on the screen. There was a slight wave lift as the seaward moving air climbed the cliff before billowing off into the void over its edge.standing near the cliff top. If he had not tracked this now still figure to his seat of quiet contemplation. As if he had for some reason lost all sense of caution. He 330 . He followed them as they moved away from the cliff. The flier must be well over due now. Now they were moving with a frenzy. or was it two. He began to track in circles around the area. He realised that he must have been in an altered state between sleep and wakefulness … a kind of flying on subconscious autopilot that had allowed his consciousness to slip away. Alex found a way of hovering without moving a muscle. So little was changing that it was hard to tell but for the precise and steady beat of the little red figures on his in-helmet clock. There was nothing. The fifth person had been waiting. Nothing. that was it. Indeed he could sense the agitation in their manner.be could now see that it was not a car . Indeed. Where was the fifth person? Alex wheeled around and returned to the landing site. Minutes went by and still no movement.began to move off. Then he manoeuvred into the wind and found an angle of glide that took him into the wind just enough to keep him still with respect to the ground. Even though the image at that height was blurred and indistinct. They approached what he had first overlooked as a feature on the landscape. Whether he had sat down or was maintaining a standing vigil. Suddenly a sound or a movement startled him. At first they had been so still that his screen had passed them over several times mistaking them for stones. hidden in the bushes near to the top of the cliff. so still and rocklike was his poise. He was wondering what to do next when he picked out the movement. They climbed in. Puzzled by this development. Alex followed the figure now some six hundred metres below him. nagged him as he watched. Alex would never have noticed him. It must be a large car or van. Yes. He knew that Ross would be waiting and that the van would not escape unfollowed. The van . The minutes gathered into what seemed like an hour. Alex was unsure but a vigil it was. there were definitely only four of them. Something. Alex called Magnus and filled him in on this new development. to make sure he could pick out and distinguish the inert human figure from the surrounding inert stone ones. the lone figure walked slowly to the brink of the cliff.

“Magnus here. The voice came calling. shrieking. Then he heard it again.” had been the short reply. It was then that he saw the first faint glimmer of the approaching dawn. almost imperceptible hue. faintly but distinctly from the distant ground below. rapier-like slicing through the wind so that within seconds he had passed down and out over the sea … down below the upper reaches of that revealing light into the depths of the pre-dawn darkness nearer the ground … out and away from the eyes of the figure who should never have seen him. What could it mean? Alex radioed back to Magnus and told him what had happened. “Soraya!” What could it mean? “Soraya!” There had been such passion and despair in that shouted out word. and that it was that shouted word. “Soraya!” Alex looked down. He swirled to the right and entered a steep dive which took him from the serene silence of his hover to a shrill. A faint red streak. It was with relief. With amazement. to settle gently down beside the waiting figures of Fred and Magnus. repeated moments later. He lifted his eyes from the night scope and glanced to the east. Alex it’s time to come in. Alex realised that he was being watched indeed called to by the distant figure below. a sense of anticipation that he glided from the open stretch of the sea up onto the cliff-top. “Soraya!” He now realised that it was that shouted word which had woken him from his reverie. What had alerted him. 3:55. 331 . was reaching out from under the clouds across the empty stretches of the sea and delicately picking out the outline of his wings with a subtle. The lone figure was now definitely standing. Alex pulled down on his right wing. His night vision picked out the upturned face and the outstretched arms. that had brought him to the realisation of his exposure in the dawning light.looked at his clock.

What she became startlingly aware of however. For a moment it was as though time stood still for her. was a vivid change in colour as an atmospheric of horror burst through the aura of the flier.Chapter 33 The Flier Much to her surprise. She almost forgot to breathe as she spoke into the radio to guide the rose-coloured aura to pass directly over the oncoming white-blue one which was now very nearly above her. The now painful yellow-orange emanation was shearing wildly to the right. She would lock them out of time. pulled her out of her sombre mood. For Livvy of course the net was imperceptible. motionless. The final desperate swerving of the incoming aura was as sudden and startling from below as it had been for Alex. just as they were in those moments before they came together. Livvy felt a thrill of exhilaration. She would always hold those two points of light in her memory. The reality of course was far from this. The excitement of the drama about to unfold above her. forever poised. Livvy’s heart thundered inside her chest as she followed the 332 . They were in fact closing at a hundred kilometres per hour. they were to never pass each other …they marked the moment she lost her innocence.

It was pitch dark and the protocol didn’t allow him to switch on any lights. referring to the floodlights slung on a bar across the middle of the boat. then dove head first into the gently undulating sea. The bow dropped down after the rapid acceleration just in time for her to perceive the flier hit the water. Rusty bounded to the bow and was straight in after her.” he said to himself aloud. It wouldn’t take much to get him to bath the area with their powerful beams. Livvy. but it helped to calm his nerves. The powerful jet of water drove the boat forward and within seconds it was curving around and speeding towards the falling auric figures. “Get down Chas. It didn’t happen. Livvy! …take it easy girl. gives us some warning!” She didn’t hear him. She didn’t wait to follow what would happen. we’re going!” she shouted as the sudden movement off the boat swept him off his feet. They then began to plunge rapidly downwards. Livvy’s attention desperately followed Alex. She heard the sizzle of the wing-suit drop two notes of Doppler effect. Chas was still standing trying to make sense of the blurred drama through the night scope.event helplessly. Alex was plummeting towards the water seemingly in free fall. peering into the darkness. “I much teach her to not do that!” was the thought that raced through Chas’s head. Suddenly she perceived a curve in his trajectory. To her utter horror. She breathed a sigh of relief as the curve began to flatten out. She was almost willing him to escape. He felt the weight of the night vision scope around his neck. “Blimey. We are a team you know!” He was speaking to the empty boat and he knew it. so rapidly did he pass over her. He seemed to be struggling to keep up but was being pulled steadily down by the now inert weight of the flier below. “Not yet anyway. She dove down to the controls of the boat and threw the throttle forward. The two auras. She pulled back on the throttle. He stepped over to the helm and stabilised to boat into the swell. He seemed to skim the waves and came rushing towards her. They would be seen from miles away if he did so. both now dramatically shifted to yellow-orange. Livvy was already standing on the bow. “There he is!” She pointed to the left. There was a sickening tearing of fabric and a high-pitched scream of terror. He raised it 333 . The bow dropped sharply and the boat lurched forward as it’s own swell caught up to it. seemed to rotate around each other for a brief moment. “Wow. She could tell he was somehow entangled but couldn’t make out what was happening.

He strained with his eyes to see something of the pair of them. A silence broken only by the shrill whine in his ears caused by the pressure. Chas scanned the water with the night vision scope. He took a deep breath and drove himself down. just empty water. I’m going in after her. He felt his flippers. “Go find Livvy. of her thoughtfulness. Ken. Nothing! Just black silence. Chas reached down and grabbed the tip of the wing and pulled it up on board. Feeling a desperate form of alertness. He had recounted the story to Livvy only days before. It wasn’t happening this time! He was running out of air.and scanned the surface of the water. He tried to feel 334 . suddenly come alive and bite strongly into the water. The jacket was empty. Still nothing. Nothing. deathly quiet. He straightened his goggles with numbed. deep into the water. “Probably thinks it’s Alex. There was Rusty. “Good Dog!” he shouted. He could remember exactly when he had last felt it. still speaking aloud to himself. He had hold of the wing and was dragging it. It was also quiet. He dropped the scope and shouted. He wasn’t. It was looming so large and so close that he almost jumped out of his skin at the sight of it. of her brightness. it had done so with an entirely different part of him. dropped it onto the rubber deck behind him and plunged into the water. He turned the scope to search for the trawler. He was relieved. to maintain vigilance. Chas! What can you do!” “A lot more than I can standing here. Something miraculous had happened then when he had gone in after his friend and he was sure it would happen again. He knew that the last time it had happened. sausage fingers. He was driven by a compulsion. “Ken. It was a powerful and innate instinct that he hadn’t felt for a very long time.” He looked down at the water with the scope again. of her beauty. He took the scope off. The cold water pierced daggers into his face. They pushed him down and down. He forced up little images of her humanness.” “Don’t be silly. Livvy’s gone under. to be in a position to call in help if needed. so encumbering on the boat. so’s the flier.” said Chas. he must he in hell. He knew that it was his duty to remain with the boat. Livvy had dropped the boat so accurately that Rusty had little distance to go and was now alongside. It was black …so black. In desperation he thought of her. go find Livvy!” He hauled up on the wing to see the if the flier was still strapped in.

what’s going on down there? You guys’re acting like you been to hell’n’back!” 335 . My arms already been shredded to bits trying to stop her going back in after you … Blimey. They broke the surface just as he was losing consciousness. Chas. more compact. His head was pounding. The flier let go. was smaller. “I have to go back down for Livvy. He knew if he went up that she would die! He couldn’t go. now a vivid yellow. “For God’s sake stop fighting me. That vast. “No! No!” he shouted. Livvy’s aura was a golden shape. There was no contest. inner. He knew with the absoluteness of all that he had ever known. that he must go up for air now …or drown. The flier. Ken had to yell even harder. to make it happen. He was unconsciously and powerfully clinging to her as a last vestige of hope. It was a catastrophic irony as he was killing the only hope he had. He felt a lot! It still didn’t happen. Something grabbed him roughly from deep within. The part that could love with no thought or concern for anything other than love itself. His ears were screeching.” Chas hardly heard him so fixed was he on going back. His attention turned towards the surface. Calm down. struggling to get free. still locked onto the flier with rapid strokes of his flippers. His lungs were bursting. It was then that he saw them! They were very near. His muscles must be like tungsten steel bands. His fingers locked together. powerful and was wrapped around the figure of Livvy. He couldn’t let go of his captive otherwise he would either turn round and latch onto himself or back to grabbing Livvy. He slid his hands up under the flier’s arms just above where they were locked onto the girl. Strong arms grabbed him and pulled him up into the boat. Lemme go. with two strokes of his flippers swam round behind him. Let Me Go!” “Calm down. Chas drove upwards. His arms splayed out as if crucified.sufficiently for her. unexplored part at the core of his being. She here. She surfaced before you did. Chas. Love was not gentle! It yanked his attention back down into the black depths of the hell he found himself in. Chas was immensely strong and he was getting even more desperate than the flier was. He pulled with the last of his might. The auric figure’s panic and desperation had completely taken over and welded him onto her. It was then that he rediscovered that other part of himself. She’s already on board. He snaked his arms up so that his hands met behind the panic stricken man’s neck.

He could feel movement next to him. Somebody was moving rhythmically. What he didn’t know. Because he could see her in this way. more coughs. He realised that he was still watching their light forms. Ken picked up the limp form of the flier and carried it up over the sides of the larger craft. He looked over. How are you Chas? Can you help?” “Yeah. He saw Ken move around. Livvy was still kneeling beside him. He could make out Livvy hunched down. It was pitch dark. She was near collapse as the adrenaline which had kept her so focussed began to wain. once. She was obviously at the very end of her energy. let’s get them into the trawler where it’s a bit warmer. He had never seen anything so beautiful. yet her presence glowed before him in a dim intermesh of light and patterning. three times.“Maybe we have. It was a drop down ladder that Ken had climbed and Chas helped Livvy to put her hand on it.” Chas was calming down. She looked up at him. She was giving mouth-to-mouth to the supine figure she was crouching over.” He struggled to his feet. He looked into the very core of her being. she too could delve into the depths of him. The jet boat had been tied fast to the side of the trawler. He slid into the bottom of the boat. That was the last piece. He wasn’t too sure if he would now be as cognisant as she was if he had been down that long. Ken’s seamanship was showing. Rusty scrabbled at the side of the trawler and pulled 336 . Ken appeared above and helped her up. He reached down and touched the golden hue of her shoulder. Chas picked Rusty up and lifted the heavy dog up above his head. It was done. Maybe we have! … Or some place. twice. intent on what she was doing. was that she was having the same experience of him. He placed two hands over the chest of the figure and suddenly pressed down hard. Chas took Livvy under his arm and began to help her to follow after Ken. “Come on. a choking sound. She weakly reached down and patted him. The job was done bar picking up the pieces. She was bending down. Chas heard a cough. Rusty was waiting in the jet boat. Rusty nuzzled her leg. Chas thought back and realised that Livvy had been under the water for at least a full minute longer than he had. The figure of Ken knelt down on the other side of her. sure Ken. Ken. He was a dull red with blue swirls. and a sigh of relief from Livvy. pressed up against him. He realised with surprise that his finger was still resting in mid-air. There was a burst of vivid blue energy that came from his hands.

“Yes. It has been staring me in the face all along. Ken had taken the flier down into the warm dark cabin behind the wheel house. I’ll look after this. There was a note of awe in her voice. They may even be watching the hospital.himself in. They’ll have to come aboard quietly. The reception committee might well be cruising around looking for signs that their flier has been found. Chas followed. It was small and smelled of must and tackle. We’ve got to get her warm and dry and we gotta do it quick!” 337 . “We’d better get those wet clothes off him and wrap him up warmly. I’ll put the jet boat in tow. Chas. I am going to head south to Scarborough as we arranged before. Ken looked up as he entered. Whatever …we want him to disappear off the face of the earth as far as they are concerned. You go get a rest. I’ve already dragged the wing suit on board this craft. I understand that Magnus has an arrangement with the army medical staff. The aura of a woman is different from that of a man. I saw it from the first but I had such a mindset that it was a man that I couldn’t see it” “Oh … Well … that’s a turn-up for the books. This is a woman. but I’m afraid this is something I’m going to have to do myself. until Magnus gets there. He’ll may die if he’s not warmed up soon!” Livvy spoke softly. “You look after the flier and Livvy. After their time in the freezing water it was like a five star hotel room. “You can’t Chas. I know what’s what.” “Come on girl.” replied Chas. She put her hand up to stop him. “No matter though. Those wet things are keeping him really cold. it wouldn’t do to make a fuss. You’ve done enough. I’m a married man. We’ll dock in the port as if nothing has happened. Chas leant down beside her. his legs had been trembling with exhaustion but he was recovering as the fresh night air began to clear the toxins of asphyxia from his blood. now a little unsure of himself. Besides I’ve got two daughters.” He made a move towards the flier.” Livvy was kneeling beside the figure of the flier. “You’re right Chas. I’ve just realised what’s been nagging me.” Chas agreed.

You are among friends. It was an image that would change her view of the world and the role of humans within it. The women don’t want that” “That’s just simply not true. From the sound of her voice. Whether it had been a land mine or a mortar round. let alone the rest of her. Livvy had aurically observed injuries from car accidents and disease before but this was different. She spoke in Arabic. It was only for a brief instant before Livvy wrapped a blanket around the scarred form. Livvy bent down to the ear of the flier. going forward to the wheel house and shut the door behind him. Livvy found how it was fastened and pulled the garment off of her nearly unconscious form.” came the faint and shaky reply. It didn’t matter. She could hardly speak. Chas. This is women’s work and only women can do it … Go” She looked up at him.“No. The auric pattern was so different. I’m sorry I’m asking you to leave and to leave now. Chas! You don’t understand.just so that they could make that person be able to fly .” She was barely holding onto consciousness. Livvy got to work. “I have sent the men out. Look how her face is covered with what she’s wearing. clammy and cold. Livvy could tell right away that Arabic was not her first language. This confirmed to her that the woman was Montanistani. What she beheld shocked her. He left the cabin. covered her from her head right down to her torso. This is a Montanistani woman. A devout Montanistani woman. In fact her own Arabic was probably better. It seemed to be made of thick wool. You shouldn’t even see her face. The strange ‘burka’ like flying garment. The form of the young woman had been burned and shattered from the chest down. “Can you hear me?” “Yes. then in an appealing voice. It was a malicious wounding that shouted out it’s violence in the bio-plasmic scar. Far from the surgeons having created someone with no legs .” “Oh that’s all the men’s nonsense. It was sodden and not at all designed to get wet. Do you understand? I am going to undress you and get you wrapped up in something warm. Are you in agreement with me doing that?” The woman’s teeth were chattering rapidly.they had actually done an heroic and 338 .” He got up. She managed a faint “yes. “Please … Go. The detail of her aura glared out for the brief period of her nudity. The water made it feel heavy. This was the planned mutilation of a human being by another human being.

The arms that only half an hour ago had almost drowned her.remarkably skilled job in saving her life. probably as a pre-planned response to anything going wrong. Livvy sat up and peeled the top off of her own thick rubber wet suit. The army nurse found them this way. He hadn’t taken the news of the loss of the parcel that the flier was carrying very well at all. She opened the blanket that wrapped the woman and took her into her arms. The shock welled up in Livvy. She was offering her the warmth and the comfort of her own body. She could feel her shivering. The oblique striking of the net onto just the one wing had meant that the net hadn’t wrapped the flier up at all. erupted from within her. Now she was here. She cried softly and the tears ran down her cheek onto the trembling face of the woman. She seemed to understand even through her traumatised state. Now he wished he hadn’t taken the risk. That too. The warm water from it ran down her body. five hours later. She wrapped the two blankets around the both of them. She was not getting warmer. Magnus was in a gloomy mood. He had dissembled it and it had been loaded into Magnus’s van as the dim light of dawn began to flood the harbour. Fred had examined the wing suit and found out how it broke down. was carried in the aura. The 339 . hugged her weakly back. The boat began to vibrate and shake underneath them as it got under way. then lay down beside her. He thought the benefits of what they had attempted outweighed the risk. It was followed by another and another. It was just so horrible what this woman must have gone through. thankfully. The jet boat had also been taken back on board the trawler. The precious load had been dropped. He would now have to request a time consuming and expensive search for the item in one hundred and twenty metres of water. Magnus had taken the news of the flier’s gender without comment. The two of them fell into a deep and healing sleep. stricken down from the sky by Livvy’s own action. He had contacted the Coast Guard for exact predictions of the tidal currents at the time and the location of the drop. She lay down beside the woman. A deep sob. She dried herself off with the towel and got another blanket. He had been in two minds from the beginning about whether to simply arrest the flier together with the whole of the reception committee at the point of her landing rather than the plan that they had eventually adopted. Everything had worked according to plan except the inexplicable swerving of the flier at the last moment. The trawler had been docked and Fred had come aboard with Magnus.

I’m here to do an initial assessment and health-check on our friend here. The others had left the two women to sleep in the cabin as they put away the equipment from the previous nights mission. I’m Livvy. Magnus had a search team ready in the field below. Livvy. I’m here to make sure you are all right and to ask you a few questions.” “I’m nurse Jeffrey’s. The morning sun streamed in. The first woman spoke to her in a foreign language. She went aboard and gently knocked on the door of the cabin.item probably weighed in the region of three kilograms. He had sent them in as soon as Alex had called. She put down her bag and pulled the curtain to one side. There was a low bunk on the far side.” The woman. awakening her. She looked down at her companion and gently shook her shoulder. She went in. I’ve been briefed as to what happened last night. He was in much better shape than he had been the night before. The light flooded onto the eyes of one of the women. but how bulky was it? This would affect the rate of decent through the water enormously. The cabin was dark and sparsely furnished. The other must be the one who was blind for she remained asleep. The army nurse had arrived on the trawler at seven. Magnus briefed the nurse as to who and what she would find in the cabin of the trawler. I’m a nurse …in the army. Alex had arrived back an hour and a half earlier. The second answered back in the same language and then turned to the nurse speaking in English. They had packed up his equipment and got him back to the farm. By then the they had been docked for an hour.” 340 . Frankly I’m amazed you’re both as well as you appear to be. “Hello. The figure had mysteriously and almost magically disappeared in the intervening brief minutes between Alex’s loss of contact and the agents moving in. I’m Nurse Jeffrey’s. to follow the figure who had waited on the cliff top. Magnus was feeling foolish. In the dim light coming through the curtained porthole. looked at her blankly. It would be the flier’s first induction into the country as well as a preliminary medical health-check. “Hello …I’m sorry …we’ve had a rather stressful night. The second woman moaned slightly and showed signs of wakening. she could make out the figures of the two women wrapped together in blankets on the lower bunk. There was no answer.

“I’m ready. Livvy.” she said. then all conventions go out the window. It’s to be my major at Uni but it’s not her first language. nurse? It was when I put my wet suit on. Nurse Jeffrey’s passed her the duffle bag and she rummaged around in it and began to get dressed. We were still well out at sea so the only thing I could think of was to wrap myself up with her. as you obviously do. “I’ve told her who you are and why you are here. It seemed to help. She said to thank you for coming and she was at your service. Of course. “There.” “It probably more than helped. Livvy. then to Nurse Jeffrey’s. she spoke back. “She’s only just realised that I’m blind. I’ll let you finish dressing and then you can translate for me?” “Yes. Again the woman answered simply in the same tongue. “They’re very polite in her country. We can get by though.” Livvy pulled back the blankets. Our friend was in a state of severe shock and hypothermia. a brown duffle bag?” “It’s a duffle bag.” “Is this it here. As she did so. nurse. You know. I think she’s a bit taken aback.” Livvy finished by pulling a fisherman’s pullover over her head. if you feel passionately about people.” “Yeah … hey sure did last night … Is my kit bag here.” Livvy sat down beside the woman and put her hand reassuringly on her shoulder. “Thanks. It must look odd but it felt so natural at the time. It was a very brave thing to do.” The nurse warmed to her even more. She was naked to the waist. I can’t say I ever knew the colour.” 341 . Glad to hear we appear that way though. I don’t even know her name. She felt with her hands to smooth it. Livvy. she turned to the woman in the bed and spoke to her in the strange language. You may well have saved her life.” “Thank you. Livvy turned back to the nurse.” “In an emergency.“Mmmh … Don’t feel particularly well. considering how much we did together last night.” Livvy smiled. The woman spoke to her briefly. We are speaking in Arabic.

then realised that she couldn’t be seen. Livvy?” Livvy turned and spoke to Soraya whose distress deepened. being looked after by a relative. She couldn’t see the deeper pattern in the way that Livvy had. Soraya looked at her and nodded in the affirmative. It was as if Livvy had seen the movement anyway. and looked at her questioningly in surprise.” “Where is she now. but Soraya’s injuries moved her deeply. Livvy turned back to Nurse Jeffrey’s. forty-five. “Soraya Al Hunza. Nurse Jeffrey’s moved over and Livvy got up so that she could do her work. but not much was left to the imagination either. I would like to take your pulse. Her instant response was to act as if there was nothing amiss or unusual.“I have to admit. BP. She answered to Livvy. fifty over one hundred. and Soraya with a gradually returning composure. “She says one. I think she misses her dreadfully. and she is four. “Are you warm enough?” she asked. She says that she was coming here to meet her husband. Her name is Sima.” she said directly to her. “How many children do you have. Nurse Jeffreys nodded slightly at her. “Soraya. She and her husband were going to set up a home here and then bring Sima over later. I would also like to take a blood sample. Finally Livvy turned back to Nurse Jeffreys. your blood pressure and listen to your heart. Her breasts were small and tight on top of these muscles. Strong heart beat. Soraya began looking distressed. The woman looked at the nurse. She noticed that the aureole on them were dark brown. Athletically so. There were also faint stretch marks. Pulse.” 342 . The two women spoke softly to one another for a few moments … Livvy with a tone of assurance. “She says that her daughter is in Montanistan. as were her pectorals. Soraya?” Livvy paused before translating. clear lungs. She went about her business thoroughly and professionally. She was not a woman easily shocked. I would like to examine you. I’m impressed myself … Could we begin by asking her for her name?” Livvy spoke to the woman. She turned and spoke to Soraya. She pulled back the blankets. Her arms and shoulders were lean and highly developed. Soraya was remarkably fit.” Livvy translated. Soraya nodded after Livvy translated.

She said that she was bringing diamonds in to help in the welfare of many of her country folk who are impoverished here. I’ll ask his name.” Again Livvy turned to Soraya and they spoke for a short time. “It’s to do with her weight to strength ratio. In fact we brought her down because we had to find out what she was up to. “I beg your pardon. Soraya repeated the name. who did you say?” she said in Arabic. We’ve been tracking her for days.” Livvy turned back to Soraya and asked a brief question in Arabic. She said her husband is very wealthy. her husband’s name and his whereabouts. “She can fly. Instead she noticed the incredulity in Nurse Jeffreys’s aura.” 343 . Ask her why she didn’t come in through the normal channels. rather she seemed to have regained a level of self control and even pride in herself.“Surely she must realise that her method of entry was highly unusual. I mean we can guess. She told me that she has been flying this way for years. She was totally taken aback.” “She has already mentioned that she was to meet her husband on the cliff top.” Livvy began. but it might throw some light on this. Finally Livvy turned back to Nurse Jeffreys. She says. Soraya did not seem evasive. It’s true. “Darius Al Hunza.” “Ask her. ‘why would she shuffle along in a wheelchair when she could simply fly here under her own power?’ I asked her why she made so many trips. My husband’s name is Darius Al Hunza. She has a set of artificial wings with which she has total mastery of the sky in reasonable weather. She doesn’t know how to find him other than that. The answer shocked her. intending to complete the sentence in another way.

now this.” 344 . as was Alex. had made arrangements for her return flight.” “Maybe we should study his social policies and see if we can imitate them. Chas and Ken.” lamented Magnus.Chapter 34 False Conclusions A week after the Soraya was brought ashore. Although she hadn’t been involved in the actual operation. Magnus was not surprised. Ever since I became involved in this operation. Her seat on the scheduled flight to Montanabad was duly cancelled. Internal Intelligence. Magnus was there. had left for the airport. then the smuggling conspiracy. when an undisclosed party in Montanistan had made arrangements for her to be flown in a private jet. The Home Office. holding up a small lightweight piece of equipment. delighted that she was not seeking asylum or even a temporary visa. “I don’t know who this Darius Al Hunza is. All I’ve done is to study his work and then imitate it to see if I can figure out what he’s going to do with it. were Fred. who had been a guest at Yeoverton House. “but I take my hat off to him.” contributed Livvy. were supporting the pretence that Soyara had come to UK shores as a result of an accident. First was the wingsuit. earlier that morning. the team were seated around a room in Yeoverton House. he’s always been miles ahead of me. Soraya had requested to be returned to her home in Montanistan. Magnus held her experience and expertise in high esteem. Soraya. He described them as being built from the grass roots up and organised from an expansive vision down. the wind-speed layer flying technique. and Livvy was accompanied by Rusty. Also with them. When I was in his house having a conversation with him. he was describing the new communities that he is helping to build in Montanistan. under Magnus’s advice. Judith had been invited as a guest consultant. “Social policies? What do you mean?” “Well… I told you this before. Ross.

“What is that. learned over time. This little box is what does the magic and the resulting data comes out of this earplug. noting the swirl in Magnus’s atmospherics as the older man disciplined his interest in what Livvy was saying with a rigour. This thing did the same to the net.. even spider webs. These two are stereoscopic pickups.” He pointed to a small solid speaker.. They were mounted on the leading edge of the wingsuit one metre apart. it goes ‘beep . As you probably know. If you hadn’t been moving towards the flier so fast. “Because if they aren’t. “but there are external threats as well and as far as I can see.. ‘beep beep’. It gives the flier warning of how far away the object is by spacing a time between the beeps. spaced like that. he’s one of them..” “Wow. “It’s the means by which she was able to detect your net. Can we get down to brass tacks now?” “Sure.” grunted Magnus in reply. The computer in this box. uses the stereo input from the two pickups to analyse anything reflecting the sound in the projected path of the wing suit straight ahead of it. It actually came within half a wing length of scuppering our plans.” said Livvy..beep’. The flier then takes evasive action until the beeps stop. bats can detect the whereabouts of the finest threads. 345 .. High frequency sounds are emitted here. The computer ignores everything outside that path. about how to make meeting work. It is a sonar device that works on the same frequencies that bats use for their sonar. it makes a beep sound. and if it gets as close as ten metres. We tried it on the telephone line outside.“Are they a threat to our security?” asked Magnus. so that’s how she did it!” exclaimed Alex.” “What he did say. say forty metres ahead. she would have managed to evade it easily.. It was Alex who moved the debrief on. Alex… if the net had been stationary for instance. “was that the real threat to our security was an emptiness in the soul of every individual who lives here which we are seeking in vain to fill at the expense of everyone else on the planet. If anything is in that path..” replied Livvy.. So if there is a telephone wire.” “He’s probably right. “They go out and if there is an object in front of the wingsuit they bounce off of it back towards the flier. then it makes the sound closer together. anyway?” He was indicating the equipment that Magnus was holding. then they’re out of the scope of my remit. It works very well.

“if I’m going to be flying over London. shocked and in mourning at the sudden loss of his wife. I wouldn’t mind having one of these myself. and the thing is.” Magnus opened the formal part of the debrief. all that is except the one lone figure. “It’s thinking of it in the first place that’s the trick. He switched on a small microphone in the centre of the room. His description revealed even more of 346 . receiving the instructions from Livvy. “we’ll start with the first of you to go into the action and then we’ll move consecutively to any one of you involved as the whole sequence unfolded. If it had not been for her entanglement with Alex the impact would certainly have been fatal. This person. look at the size of it. I guess we should start with you.” Fred began by describing the set-up of the wingsuit and. the entanglement and the release of the flier.” interrupted Alex. we can probably make a detector that will locate their sonar signal from almost a kilometre away. He told of how they had left. She had not hit the net squarely. She was spun around and would have dropped like a rock from fifty metres up. so it could not take her down smoothly. was almost certainly Darius. Alex then recounted positioning himself in the path of the flier. Magnus. This led to a digital recorder so that the meeting could be transcribed. they reported the events up until Alex’s takeoff. the attempted evasion. Now we’ve got this.” He turned to Fred. There was a brief silence when Alex finished.” replied Fred. Alex then went on to describe his long flight back to the cliff in the darkness and then his observation of the reception party. Fred. Alex expressed his amazement because he had not realised the significance of his role in this way before. She had struck it obliquely with one wing only.“Yup. like radar does. “What do you think. Not only that. Fred rejoined at this point and made the observation that the entanglement and the subsequent struggle on Alex’s part to stay in the air would almost certainly have saved Soraya’s life. “To follow the agenda of this debrief.” he began. it doesn’t broadcast a signature to all and sundry. locating the flier in the night scope. joined by Ross. he now realised. Fred?” “It’s easy enough to do once you’ve seen one.” “Actually. It only weighs one hundred and fifty grams… Darius Al Hunza… Mmmh.

however. He was followed by Chas describing the launch of the jet boat and the events that led up to Livvy’s taking over at the sighting of the flier. He recounted his relief to see first Livvy surface and then Chas with Soraya. of how he was able to locate a close colleague through a spontaneous but temporary ability to see his aura. She unfastened it and was about to drag Soraya free when suddenly the downed flier became wildly alive. Livvy and Judith would be essential for this phenomenon to be properly explored and understood. wanted to know more about how he had located the two woman five metres down in the ocean. that a special debrief between himself. Magnus. and because of her blindness. Livvy then described what her perceptions and actions were. Chas was relieved to be taken so seriously. in the dark. He described the embarking of the trawler. In panic. He felt. having waited patiently until Chas reached a natural break in his account. had found it much more entertaining to ‘fly’ underwater than to swim on the surface. Ken related his anxious moments when both Chas and Livvy were gone below the surface in search of the drowning flier. This had happened during a similar night-time circumstance on an SBS mission several years before. Magnus had sat pensively for a few moments before noting that this was not a good time to discuss it as they had other business. She was aware that Soraya was trapped underneath the wing suit and was at least winded if not worse by the crashing impact with the water. Chas picked up the story of how he had located the two and brought them up to the surface. She had dived in and found the fastening that held Soraya into the wing suit. It wasn’t all that different from what Alex wore. Ken came in next. Chas recounted the story that he had originally related to Livvy. Chas. Livvy had been unable to fight her off and the two began to sink as they struggled with each other. He then described how the phenomenon had finally repeated itself just in time to help him locate the two women. Over the years she had developed the ability to stay underwater to rival a Polynesian pearl-fisherman. He described hauling them onto the jet boat and how he and Livvy between them had revived Soraya through 347 . Livvy described how she had been swimming since the age of five. rather than aggression. she had grabbed onto Livvy like a constrictor. Suddenly they could see a very human side to the opposition indeed.the nature of the man than Livvy’s close encounter had. He thanked Magnus and then continued with his story.

It would have been very serious for Soraya’s own sense of integrity both with herself and with her God. undressed the hypothermic Soraya. wet clothes from off of the flier before suddenly and unexpectedly being banished from the cabin by Livvy. Chas again picked up the story relating how he was proceeding to get the cold. Then we’ll come back in here and draw some conclusions. She then began describing the interview with Nurse Jeffreys. as it would be for a western woman. He finished by describing how he had put the jet boat in tow and headed into the harbour. Livvy had seen then that she was a woman.resuscitation techniques. but actually requesting to be sent back to her own country.” he said. it was highly likely that she would come into contact with those who had sent her. much to Livvy’s relief. that she had done the right thing. that it would not just be a case of embarrassment. Magnus sat back in his chair. especially in her dreams. Magnus already knew that Soraya was a mother but it was news to the others who were unsettled somewhat by the news. “good work. He had then helped them all onto the trawler. The involvement of Magnus’s team in the surveillance of the conspirators and counter measures taken against them would then become exposed. “Okay. presented them with a dilemma because if she returned. Let’s have a twenty minute stretch break with a cup of tea thrown in. She knew that if Chas.” 348 . that the perception broke through the mindset with a startling clarity. The interview with Nurse Jeffreys was completed when Soraya not only declined to apply for asylum. that she had blocked off the realisation from herself. was to expose her head. This conflict in her awareness had nagged and disturbed her ever since. It was acknowledged within the room. even if no-one else would have known what had happened. It wasn’t until she realised that Chas was about to undress this Montanistani. Livvy then told of how she had herself. it would be a case of defilement. It was only because of her own deep mindset that the flier would be a man. This of course. and wrapped her up together with her own warm body to help her recover from the state of shock. let alone her whole body. she had first perceived the presence of the flier. Livvy picked up the story by telling how. obviously devout. a man. religious woman. on the cliff top immediately after Alex’s crash. This was while she was speaking with the others of the reception party.

nevertheless there doesn’t seem to be malevolence on the opposing side. Magnus. “is something that I noticed right from the beginning. but true creatives.” said Magnus. Judith. Magnus noticed Judith was holding back as if she wanted to say something in private. It might seem like a fine distinction to draw… between understanding him as complex. during the debrief.” “These are spiritual people. nevertheless.The group got up and began to drift out of the room. it’s more that they perceive us as evil. except by someone who was a complex character. “Is there anything that you’d like to add. It keeps me up all night and it preoccupies me through most of the days as well. “What do you suggest that we do?” “Well. She wouldn’t be so easily duped. In order to stop them however. She now tipped her head to one side slightly. but it actually defines the nature of the real danger.” “I sense that same problem myself. That’s why they see our civilisation as corrupt. looking perplexed.” she began. “The thing that stands out the most for me. It’s more that our own clarity of intent is challenged by theirs. Judith?” Judith had been quiet and attentive. They’re right to a large 349 . which is what I believe Darius to be. There’s a sharp division between the two sides of him. this makes it much more difficult for us than it would be if we were dealing with through and through. They think it’s based on fear and greed. Tell me what more can I do. She’s not a simple innocent though. He settled back down and soon they were alone. “obviously we can’t let them do what they intend to do. and everything I perceive about her backs that up. Some aspects of his character are relatively wholesome and others are not. We can’t really do that unless we can understand them. I sense a depth of wisdom and sadness in her. Soraya. It’s not that we’re fighting evil with good. they are not evil. That’s the normal way of looking at things. misguided in some ways. dastardly-acting characters. we need to be able to sense what it is that they are about to do. It’s just that in my perception.” “I’ve been racking my brains for weeks as to how to do that. rather than understanding him to be evil. Although my instincts tell me that there does appear to be a clear and terrible danger to us all here in this country. I’m not saying that there’s a shred of justification for them doing what they’re doing.” replied Judith. Judith. “In a way. they’re real creatives. appears to be an innocent.

. I’ve always worked closely with the buck-stopper. His relationship with the creative process had been off-and-on over the many years of his career. Magnus.” “What better part?” “It’s hard work what you’ve been doing. That’s what Darius does.extent because in many ways it is.. That’s the better part.... The result is usually a surprise. more innate control which confounded his more superficial habits of control through frantic thought.. The rest of the team came in a took their places. Magnus looked over at Judith. ... but in the long-run there’s never been any complaint.... If you want to understand Darius... I’ve never given any different advice... he opened the next part of the debrief. Take time-out to be still.. It’ll work out. That the insights came through a deeper.” “I don’t know if I can take that risk. charge her with smuggling and then to have had her locked up. The buck stops here. unaware of the private nature of the conversation between Judith and Magnus... Magnus. Relax...” Magnus sat uncomfortably. there is need of only one thing...... you are worried and distracted by many things......... This whole thing is my baby. He was beginning to understand that there was likely a relationship between the two..... with me...” “You know how long I’ve been doing this........ Judith. She felt his glance and smiled. Our only way of preventing her would have been to arrest her. Choose that better part and then understanding will not elude you...... If you want to understand him. When he felt the moment was right.... “I had been very concerned with Soraya’s desire to return to her homeland.. They sensed his intent and the conversations came to stop. It’s always worked out.. He nodded silently.. In the still moments of his reflections he had realised that the most insightful times had seemed to be the ones over which he had seemed to have the least control. Apart from my not wanting to do 350 . knowing that she could read his innermost thoughts and nothing more needed to be said. do the same. to contemplate. Deep down he knew she was right. then learn to think like him. Magnus let them sit in stillness for a few minutes.... trust and listen. to listen... Chas and Ken came in with their tea..

that, I personally believe her to be an innocent who is being manipulated. We would have had other difficulties with that approach. First of all, we haven’t recovered any smuggled goods, as the parcel was lost at sea. Secondly we would have had to reveal, in a public court of law, how we brought her down. Apart from questions about the legality of what we did, the case would make headlines. Big ones! So… As a preparation for what seemed to be the inevitable return of Soraya to her homeland, I wrote my own headline, which we sent as a press release to the Scarborough Mail. This is my rough copy. Ken, spruced it up with some realistic statistics.” He placed an A4 press release onto the table in the centre of the room. Ken picked it up and read it out loud. “The head line reads, ‘Mystery object strikes Catamaran’ then the body reads, “At 2 a.m. early Friday morning, an unidentified object struck the upper mast of a large, twenty-one metre catamaran, ‘Le Snark,’ sailing in the waters to the north-east of Scalby Ness Rocks, Scarborough. The boat, a French vessel, registered in Brest, was heading north-east across a moderate wind. Most of the crew were asleep when the night watch reported a violent strike to the top of the thirty metre high mast. The night watch alerted the captain and brought the vessel into the wind. There was minor damage to the rigging otherwise they were able to get underway after searching the area. ‘Although the damage was slight, it still must have been quite an impact to have caused it.’ the vessel’s captain was reported to have said. There were no low flying aircraft reported to be in the area at the time.” Ken looked up from his reading. “It needed some work to make it convincing. I got onto our French counterparts and found a suitable vessel. I was hoping to find one with a mast higher than that. Soraya was at fifty metres. That’s a pretty tall ship!” “Soraya might well have been doing wind layering. That would easily have brought her down to thirty metres,” Magnus added Alex frowned slightly. “Can you actually do that? I mean create a piece of news that never happened?” “Well we did and they printed it,” replied Magnus, “I know what you mean though. It pains me enough that there’s such a tenuous link between the truth and what’s in the media, without me contributing my own fairy tales… But it was my hope we persuaded the other side to buy this story. I’m sure Soraya’s reception committee would have been checking the local papers to see if an

351

incident was reported. This one should have convinced them that She had a freak accident.” “How do you think it explains away the sonar not working?” asked Alex. “Same way you were able to defeat it. The mast head was travelling obliquely and rapidly towards her. She made the mistake of veering right rather than left and ran onto it.” “I guess gave the people in Scarborough something for their chins to wag about,” mused Alex. “A story like that will make a huge difference for Soraya when she appears at home to reconnect with her daughter.” “That’s right. As far as she knows, Ken, Livvy and Chas were just on a trawler that happened to pass by as she fell. We hadn’t thought this through in advance. We were absolutely sure that we would catch a man with aggressive intent, carrying highly illegal contraband. Our plan was simply to hold him under the ‘Prevention of Terrorism Act’ until the show was over. Instead we get this young innocent mother and no contraband. I suppose she might think that we’re some kind of immigration police. She has no experience of our country with which to compare what is happening to her. Livvy has been with her quite a bit though. I’m not sure if she would have found that a bit odd.” “Maybe it’s time for me to bring my piece in here.” This was Livvy. She had been listening intently up to this point, but she now sensed that her moment had come. “As you say, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Soraya. She speaks Arabic, not quite as well as me but we can communicate on a reasonable level. As far as she knows, the three of us just happened to be in the area and rescued her. Nurse Jeffreys, she believed to be the official representative of the UK immigration service, and I offered to look after her. I introduced her to my wealthy friend Magnus, who lives in this beautiful house. She had not asked to be put in touch with anyone in this country. She seemed intent from the beginning on returning to her home. She was very groggy at first and has no memory of being brought down. She didn’t mention anything about flying, and I didn’t mention the wings-suit. I asked her how she got to be floating in the North Sea. She said that her memory was hazy because of the shock, but the last thing she could remember was being on the deck of a trawler, looking out over the water. I have been building up her trust in me ever since.

352

“Somehow I don’t feel fraudulent in doing this. I feel that she is trustworthy herself and that we won’t betray her. On the other hand, we must limit the amount that she knows for her own sake as well as for the sake of the project as a whole. She told me that she grew up as one of five children in a small village in a mountain region. There had been fighting in the region during her early childhood. There were very bad men from a foreign country trying to occupy the region and her people had risen up to fight them off. Eventually the invading army had gone away but they had left very evil things in the ground that could kill or injure you very badly if you stepped on them. She was about eight when she left a path to herd one of her goats which had strayed. The next thing she knew, she woke up in her family home in terrible pain. Her parents tried to tend her wounds, she had lost both legs below the knee but she developed a terrible fever. Her father put her over a donkey and walked her the three days to the nearest town where she could receive proper care. By then both her legs were so gangrenous that they had to be amputated. There was literally nothing that could be saved of her legs at all. She returned to her village, but with her injuries, there was little she could do to help with the hard existence that her family underwent. “Some four years later, a young man came to visit the village. He had heard of Soraya and said that he was setting up a special school for victims of the minefields. They believed him to be a devout man, and doing his duty in accordance with the will of God. His offer of good schooling and financial support for Soraya was gratefully accepted by Soraya’s family. “That man was Darius. He took her away and as promised and brought her to a small village high in the mountains where there was a substantial stone building with many rooms and well-kept grounds. There were another six young people there of ages ranging from ten, up to fourteen. Soraya was twelve. They had all had similar injuries. There were three teachers there who looked after them very well. They were taught basic skills and religious studies and fed a healthy diet such as they had never seen before. Soon a new dimension of physical exercise was introduced and they spent almost five hours a day doing very strenuous workouts indeed.” At this point, Livvy paused for a drink of water. “It was two years before they were introduced to the idea of the wings. Six of them were told that they were in for a wonderful surprise. They were taken up

353

onto an upper part of the grounds of the building that overlooked the valley far below. What they saw amazed them. The seventh and oldest boy, he was sixteen by then, was flying in a kite about twenty metres above them. He was laughing and obviously thrilled to bits. Darius had made one of his rare visits for this occasion. He reeled out the cord that the kite was flying on and soon the boy was so high up in the sky that they could hardly see him. From then on they were enthralled with flying. It was about another year before they were sufficiently trained to be able to take their first flights. They absolutely loved it. They all lived for it. They spent hours in the air, coming down only to eat and sleep. That was eight years ago. Soraya is now twenty three. There were only two girls in the group and the rest were boys. Darius began to take a special interest in Soraya. I understand she is very beautiful despite her injuries. I can’t say from your sighted viewpoint, I can only say that she certainly is from mine.” She always wears a burka, replied Magnus, so we wouldn’t know. “Well, anyway, presumably Darius thought so because me took her as one of his wives. Four years ago they had a daughter, Sima. She is now still back in Montanistan with a relative in the school. “Soon the fliers were being given jobs to do, transporting small but very precious cargos both around their own country and also into neighbouring countries. They were taught how to take photographs, how to land in remote places, how to listen for the sound of helicopters and how to hide from them, what to do if shot at and a number of other useful techniques. In other words, Darius was building a small airforce of smugglers, spies and aerial soldiers.” “Wow,” said Alex, “I would really have liked to have met her. We could have flown together?” “That’s a lovely thought, Alex.” It was Magnus replying, “Unfortunately she must never know of your existence, let alone meet you. Chances are she will return to Darius… hopefully with as little information about us as possible.” Alex looked disappointed, but obviously understood. Livvy, having taken another drink of water, continued. “About eighteen months ago, Soraya was asked to come on a mission with two other fliers. They’re missions were spaced a couple of months apart. She was to board a ship sailing to Europe. She transferred onto a trawler two weeks ago. Her geography of this region isn’t good enough for her to tell me where. Anyway she was to make four flights carrying diamonds to mainland England.

354

These were to be sold to help the plight of poor refugees from her country, living in England. On the fourth flight she was to stay. Darius told her that he would come to England to meet her and that they would live here for a while and have Sima brought over when they were settled. She feels very bad about losing the diamonds and is afraid that Darius will be angry. She doesn’t know how to get in touch with him or with those who were waiting to meet her on the shore. That’s why she wants to go back home. She misses her daughter desperately and wants to be back with her. She is afraid that Darius won’t come now that she has lost the diamonds. She’s in quite a quandary and I really, really feel for her … That’s about it for what I know … Any questions?” “That was quite a story, Livvy,” replied Magnus, “Very well told too. I can’t think of any questions myself at the moment, anyone else.” There were no more comments. “I’d like to wrap this up now. I don’t need to tell you how disappointed I am that we lost the package. Getting the package without the opposition knowing that we had it was the whole point of the mission. A subplot of the mission was to find out how well these flier can do. We succeeded in that but that success has underlined the significance of the failure. They can do a lot. They are difficult to detect on radar unless you know where to look. They can fly for long distances and they have sonar which allows them to navigate complex terrains in the pitch dark and there’s at least two more of them out there and we still don’t know what they’re up to. “By the way. We had one other lead, that we were following. Ross followed the reception party back to the same house in the city on both the last occasion and the first. We did have one lucky break though, thanks to Livvy. She noted a devious atmosphere in a young boy, the son of one of the men, who we had ignored up to that point. Ross followed him and found that he was involved in some petty dealing. We kept an eye on him and luckily, later last Friday morning, the morning after the strike, not long after the reception party got back, the boy performed for us. “It was a simple act,” continued Magnus, “A bank note went one way, a certain substance the other. Although about fifteen, the boy seemed to have a reasonable level of street cred in the area. His street cred would have soared a thousand fold if it ever became known just how many internal intelligence officers were watching his deal with deep interest. The fact was, it will never be

355

known.” Magnus chuckled grimly at this point. “For appearance sake, we had a single bobby just happen to walk by at the opportune moment. It was as if by chance that he made the arrest. Three of our men searched the boy’s house from top to bottom. We let off him with a warning. The boy’s father may well not be so forgiving because we turned his house upside down. We found some hiding places, but they were all empty. He is such a smart cookie this Darius, that he must have moved the stuff on before we could get to it. “So… Very promising lead. Nothing to show for it, Ladies and gentlemen. I’m afraid to say that we might as well have spent the last couple of weeks playing golf. I’m sorry but I believe that the proper thing to do would have been to let the flier land and then to have swooped in and arrested the lot. I tried playing clever-clogs and I lost.” Magnus really did look downcast. Livvy especially could perceive his despair as genuine. His aura was low key and his atmosphere strongly blue but with little dynamism. They all felt in a similar way so pervasive was Magnus’s disappointment. It wasn’t simply a failed project, but an open breach in their country’s defences. It was an open breach which would be very difficult to fill as the nature of the threat was still entirely unknown. They sat in silence for a brief period. “What’s to be done now?” asked Chas. “I can’t think of anything other than for us to return to what we were doing before and wait for them to make the next move. Alex will need to develop his flying abilities and Livvy will have a lot to learn from Judith, now that Judith has come out of retirement?” Magnus framed this last statement half as a question and as he said it he looked quizzically at Judith. “Well,” she replied, “I don’t think anybody should retire until they have passed on their wisdom. That part of my retirement always felt a bit incomplete for me. Yes, I think that there’s a lot that I could teach Livvy and I would enjoy doing it.” Livvy beamed at the prospect. The idea of continuing to work with Judith, lifted her spirits out of the depths that Magnus’s mood had led them to. There was a knock at the door. It was Mr. Knowles, the man who first answered the door to Livvy when she had come to Yeoverton house, looking for Alex. “Shall I bring in the tea now, sir?” he asked.

356

“Sounds like a good idea to me,” Magnus replied. “Then we’d better get on our various journey’s home while there’s still a bit of daylight left.”

Chapter 35
Airport Emergency
Magnus and Ross walked back up the drive. They had just seen Chas and Ken off on their journey up north. Shortly Magnus and Fred would be driving to the ISD headquarters themselves. Alex had returned to the tower to rest before the coming night’s practice flight. Judith, Livvy and Rusty had remained inside the house. As they approached the front door, Mr. Knowles opened it and came towards them. “Magnus,” he spoke quietly. “There’s a call for you. It’s urgent. I think you should take it.”

357

‘That must mark the difference between a creative leader and a driven leader. all rotated wildly around the light green still-point in his heart.” Within minutes the four of them were in the car speeding down the narrow road towards the motorway. to what he was actually saying. puzzled. we’ll need to take Livvy and Rusty.” grunted Magnus.” said Ross.’ she mused to herself. It was enlivened and excited. We need her language skills. we’ll have to get going right now then. She followed the way Magnus held the still-point as the source of his attention rather than the electro-dynamic storms of mixed emotion that swirled around it. “We’ve got to go and find Soraya. as a man using his stress to focus his attention on finding a solution. He was not so much a man under stress. He nodded at Ross and went through the door and down the hall. ball of anxiety was forming a dense nimbus around the clear green of the still-point. right now!” he said shortly with no further explanation. taking in Magnus’s atmosphere as it went through the most amazing weather patterns.” Magnus was listening intently to the answer. Ross was at the wheel and Magnus was next to him with his ear glued to his mobile. 358 . When he did come in. he stood by the door.” Magnus was now only half in the room. “You get going now and I’ll take care of things here. “She left three hours ago. red. “Okay. Heathrow would be an hour and a half away. Livvy was in the back. Magnus. “Well then. He looked pale and slightly dumbfounded. anxiety. Magnus. “Judith. Try and get Air Traffic Control to identify which plane it is and see if they can figure out a way of holding it up till we get there. anger and exasperation.” said Judith. Ross went in and joined the two women. Magnus was gone for about ten minutes. Livvy immediately noticed a profound change in his atmosphere.“Okay. focussing her attention on a still. Could you tell Alex we’ve gone?” “Of course. small point in the midst of his anxiety. There was a pause as he listened. a tight. Fear. “What! She’s been handed over already?” He was speaking urgently and Livvy shifted her own attention away from his atmospherics. She’ll be boarding her plane soon. There was also a tight ball of anxiety beginning to develop within it. We’ll talk in the car.

It was sitting inside Soraya. if they make a strike. probably derivatives of Marburg or Ebola. “Things have totally changed since that phone call. Anti-bodies. The sample that Nurse Jefferys took from Soraya was small and it got used up in the various tests. They then said. “it now seems likely that you didn’t just save one life but probably hundreds. but has had a recent exposure to the disease itself. What we need now. she must have been immunised very recently.” Magnus looked over his shoulder at Livvy. If we can’t we’re open to an attack of devastating proportions. A biological weapon! “This really is the worse we feared. These new artificial diseases make anthrax and the plague look like head-colds. maybe even thousands of lives. would have a devastating effect. Nurse Jefferys took a small sample. dispersed by fliers like Soraya in a densely crowded area. They’ve just run some tests on Soraya’s blood.“See what you can do. even before we found out what the problem was. Probably got infected accidentally. So. is more of the anti-bodies. “I’m going to have to totally revise the conclusions that I drew earlier. it’s more likely that she was immunised some time ago.” he said with feeling. We don’t have any samples of the disease itself but we can be pretty sure that it’s artificial and extremely lethal.” “Can’t we just have her detained?” asked Ross. They said. that tells us what the lost payload was. They’re viruses. If we can do that we can contain this thing. “That phone call was from haematology.” he said and clicked the mobile off. that for her to have such a high number of active anti-bodies in her blood.” he continued. She’s carrying the anti-bodies of an entirely new and unknown disease. Now we need to get to her before she flies out of the country. It was. John. If we can get another small. They cause haemorrhagic fevers and are extremely contagious. that is until she left this morning. we can start our own immunisation program. “When you saved Soraya’s life the other night. He shifted his position in the front seat. We need another couple of cc’s of her blood.” He turned back slightly to include Ross. right there in the house with us all along. I don’t even want to think about it. “This kind of pathogen. fresh sample of her blood.” he began. and this is even more sobering… They then said. We had the answer to our big question. so as to include Ross and Livvy. 359 .

they’ll start being much more imaginative. I’ve seen it. “I hear what you’re saying. get us a helicopter. never mind all that. We’re about a hundred yards south of the slip road. Well this stuff isn’t just Semtex and it’s a lot smaller than a car full of fertiliser. energy and resources we put into trying to prevent an IRA strike. We’ve just come onto the M40 and it looks like the proverbial car park. Surely they give the clearance… Oh bugger!… What? Oh sorry. Remember how much time. I know it’ll be a private flight and that Air Traffic Control are professionals with a job to do. “John. He seemed calm. If they manage to release it in a crowd. 360 . It was the oddest ring-tone Livvy had ever heard. If we detain her. just get off the phone and do it… Yes. this is a case of national security. The car was at a dead stop. John. Magnus spoke and then listened briefly. Magnus’s mobile twerped. “John. It’s that important. without an immunisation program we could lose tens of thousands of people! ” They were now approaching the slip road onto the M40. We’re at junction 8. We couldn’t do it without causing an international incident. If they know we’re on to them. what we know. There must be something they can do… What! Why are you talking about gnats?… Oh National Air Traffic Systems… They aren’t even at Heathrow? They’re in West Drayton?… But there’s a control tower in the airport. At the moment they’re being slightly reckless.“It may come to that. There must have been some kind of accident!” Livvy noticed the green still-point suddenly expand and enfold the other dynamics in Magnus’s emotional state as he listened to the reply. All that and every once in a while they got a bomb through. That’d blow everything. John.” he said into the tiny instrument. they’ll know we know. Something in him had resolved. though. I want a helicopter here in five minutes with a driver to take over the car… quicker if you can. “Can you really develop an immunisation program from a few anti-bodies. It could be the size of a can of hairspray.” Magnus listened to the reply. John. The Montanistanis were waiting for her at the airport and she’s been handed over to them already.” Magnus beeped the mobile off and sat back. “I know. Our biggest hope is that they continue to do so. when you have never even seen the original disease?” asked Ross.

Her only view as she did so. To make a long story simple and short.“Twenty years ago. Magnus here… Yeah! Okay! We’re just south of the sip-road. Magnus giving the drivers a wry look as the chopper came roaring over them. no. but that was the extent of it. it took seven. Seconds later the beating sound of the chopper could be heard. Magnus’s phone twerped. Magnus gently placed his hand on her head to get her to bend low. but he had already rolled down the window and was reaching up with a blue flashing light that attached magnetically to the roof.” Ross looked impressed. but that was all. They were trapped. “More recently one of our departments has been working on a technique of sequencing the structure of the amino acids in the variable part of anti-bodies. Magnus grunted and jumped out of the car anyway. The car behind backed up a metre also. As they neared the craft. “In this case. “Isn’t science wonderful. “This is the same science that made this evil thing in the first place. Highly unethical.” he said. Then there were techniques developed that would involve removing Soraya’s spleen and searching for one of the relevant generating cells. There was no need. well clear of the rotors.” Magnus turned to Ross. He went to open the back door for Livvy but she was already out.” It didn’t take five minutes for it to arrive. Rusty had followed right behind. Magnus went to take Livvy’s hand to guide her up the steep slope. The driver could back up a metre. The police helicopter must already have been close by. She had Rusty’s harness in her hand and the dog instinctively found a way up for her. “Hello. was a puzzled 361 . I don’t think so. They were in a middle lane. Ross beeped and caught the attention of the driver to the left of him. All antibodies are identical except for a variable bit on one end that is made in the spleen to match the disease it is designed to attack. The four of them wound their way through the stationary cars.” Magnus replied. Ross. “All right for some!” shouted one of the drivers over the loud wail of the rotors as they made their way towards the machine which had settled on a grassy bank some thirty metres beyond the grass verge. We wouldn’t be able to do that. He pointed to the light and gestured for him to back up. We’ll put a blue flasher on the roof. we can replicate these end-bits from the sequencing of the original anti-body and then stick them onto the end of the standard bit of any anti-body.

Soraya was?” “No. frustration and outright anger. the more they glowed due to the increase in carbon-dioxide coming from the packed together idling engines of the traffic jam below. that she alone. even though the sun was still full out. 362 . then gave him the keys to the car. Magnus got out a notebook and scrawled some figures.” “Sure. The three climbed aboard and Rusty jumped in behind. was the friend and confidant of Soraya. Magnus had done some quick thinking when he asked her to come along. which covered the tapestry of the landscape with their photosynthetic activity. “Did Haematology mention what blood type. Seconds later were being lifted high above the traffic. The nearer they were to the motorway.aura in the grass. “Hope it’s a good one!” The chopper made a direct cut across to Heathrow and within twenty minutes they were on the landing pad over terminal three. The older man shifted his bulk a little.” shouted Magnus. She had been given ear-protectors and she pressed them hard against her head to protect her sensitive hearing as she turned her attention to the auric display which stretched out below her. “Magnus?” she shouted above the roar of the engine. It was obviously surprised at being flattened by the shrill wind which had sprung upon it so suddenly. they didn’t. A young officer emerged from the craft and Ross spoke briefly to him.’ Livvy could hear his voice but not his words over the roar. The tranquil colours. If he had a plan that went beyond this instinctual invitation. of the present company. He grinned. he hadn’t yet mentioned it. He tore out the paper and handed it to her. it began to dawn on her. She could sense his attention on her. The atmospheres of the drivers in the cars below was merging a display of magnificent resentment of modern life. was ripped into two by a snake of collective irritation.” came the reply as he bent closer to her ear. Livvy couldn’t help being thrilled at the experience. She let her imagination race ahead to the airport and a plan began to take shape. “Could you find out? I have an idea. Despite the urgency of the situation. She alone would be the only one who could get to her without overt coercion. He scrolled two numbers back on his mobile and pressed ‘call. As Livvy took in the scene. The grass and the trees were glowing sedentarily in the full sun.

Ross. Get us cleared through. He was a younger man in his late twenties. “Magnus. where is she?” asked Magnus.” John took them through a series of doors and gave them each security passes that had been prepared for them as they flew over in the chopper. The people were milling around and obscured each other from view. John turned briefly. unusually so. They’re on the clearance side of customs but it’s still a big place. “Right. holding onto Rusty and taking in her senses. “I think so. There were a couple of wheelchairs in sight.” she said. medium build with short blonde hair.” commented Magnus.” It was true. “There’s been some kind of security alert. She turned to Magnus. Magnus looked at Livvy.” she replied. The idea was similar to the truth. Livvy could sense her presence already.” “Okay. as up to Livvy. you come with me. “you do your stuff. “Can you make anything out of this?” he asked. “Yes sir! Right this way. “Several flights have had their departures delayed and a lot of people have been caught this side of customs and they can’t board their planes. Livvy stood still. “Let’s make use of it!” John was coming up the stairs to meet them as they came down. I’ll look after my end. This was a new side of the man that Livvy had not met before. Similar enough for her to feel easy with. 363 . “you go and find the first-aid centre and get them ready to take the sample. There were crowds of people. “Okay. Looking for one particular aura in this milieu of anxious and busy auras would normally be difficult. You can call Magnus on his mobile if this works. as they moved quickly down the stairs. They must have gone for a coffee or something.” He touched John on his arm as he passed and the two of them went off. even though she wasn’t sure how.” said John. even from where they stood. It was near white and it was strong. Soraya’s aura however was something else. As soon as they emerged they realised that it wasn’t so much up to them.” he said.” Magnus nodded. Now it was up to them to find her. An idea was beginning to form in her head.” As they did so. “She’s not in the private departure lounge with her minder any more.” growled Magnus.“That was a five hundred quid taxi ride. We need to find her.

The chaos caused by the security alert was very much in their favour. it merged with 364 .” The two soon disappeared into the crowd. He felt her attention and her intention. The female one who was shaped like Alex. Rusty. The stream of thought stretched out between them. She was remembering something that she and Rusty had been exploring during their nocturnal adventures in the hills. The rushing about and the level of anxiety and focus told him so. It had to be. The vision of the strange human came to him… the one who had come from the sea. they wouldn’t have much difficulty. a nimbus the same colour and texture as Soraya’s aura. the nimbus held.’ It was becoming clear to her that wild animals had some level of perception of auras. She felt the image. “Yes. The first time had been as she landed. If Soraya and her minder wanted to keep a low profile until it was time for their flight clearance. He had also been with them on the trawler. Rusty looked back at Livvy. The hall was crowded but there were a number of corridors leading off of it with moving walkways leading to the various boarding gates. rather than lying still like a pond. She stood up and let go of his harness.“The first-aid centre is at the other end of this hall next to the suitcase shop. She focussed her intent on a memory of Soraya. to form a nimbus in the middle. The next time. which she was holding in her mind. flowing out from their own auras. she thought to herself. She had called it ‘stereoscopic auric perception. She knelt down beside the animal and gently stroked his neck just behind his ear. It was probably tied in with their acute sense of smell. What she was also beginning to realise. This could be tricky. suddenly flow like a stream. Surely those instances would be very well imprinted in his memory. the night of Alex’s accident. she’s the one.” She knew she had connected with him. such as wolves.” she said. It took the form of an auric cord. as Livvy cared for and nursed the halfdrowned woman back to life. was that pack animals. If she got too close. As long as she kept a slight distance from Rusty. He lifted his hindquarters slightly in excitement and his tail shivered rather than wagged. Rusty had been in the presence of Soraya on a number of occasions. Livvy looked down at Rusty. Rusty knew that there was a hunt going on. he had participated in her rescue from the sea after she had been downed by Alex. similar to her own. if that was their intent. “Yes. could use the distance between their individual members to enhance their direction finding capacity with respect to a faint perception of the presence of a quarry.

“Whose dog is this? Does anybody own this dog?” “Oh. Then it took me a moment to locate you again.” said Livvy truthfully. Ross. there was a sharp divide between the high dynamics of the human auras and the total absence of any substance around everything else. it faded. “Thanks for your help” he said to the concerned man. It’s Rusty. The nimbus began to strain down one of the long hallways. This was not like the wild environment where everything had a presence. With Rusty to one side. Here. yet if she went through where there was a space between them. she suddenly found it very difficult going. with a North American accent. Livvy.” drawled the voice as it turned to walk through the crowd. Her mind raced for an answer. She was out of her depth. “Yes. “Oh.” said Ross.” came the familiar voice from behind her. searching the crowd for Ross. are you there?” “What does he look like?” asked the man.” she said nervously.” 365 . “Sorry silly question. If she got too far away.” asked a concerned male voice. holding Ross’s arm gratefully. thank you. Livvy. she might bang into the inanimate object that the people themselves were avoiding. These milled about her following their own direction. “Can I help you.” “Here I am. rather than leading her. Are you all right?” Just then.” said the man. There was a menace to it. They began moving through the crowd.” said Livvy. “My friend! I’ve lost my friend. In the sterile environs of the concourse. “No problem. Twice she tripped over displays. “Ross. as if it was seeking it’s owner.their own auras. and part of it on finding her way through the crowd of people in front of her. the only things that she could perceive were the auras of the people. “I was following you when a people-carrier drove in front of me. a gruff voice came from well over to their left. Livvy felt confusion and panic welling up inside her. “Sorry. She could feel Rusty’s joy in the hunt. I guess not. Someone touched her arm. She had to find her way through them. and she could tell from the atmospheres of those around her that she was attracting attention to herself. now really at a loss. “I really don’t know. Livvy with part of her attention on Rusty and the nimbus.

slightly out of breath. “That’s why we split up. We call it stereo sensing. I guess they figured it was big enough to be a bomb. He had told her to stay put. Livvy. She tried to still herself. He’s going over there right now to sort it out. erupting in the direction in which Ross had gone. They threw him in. “Rusty and I had a lead on her and then all this happened. they might blow him up in that thing!” She was sobbing and holding his arm. We need to find Soraya now. to find a still-point in her heart as Magnus had done. “He can’t hear me. She brought her attention back to the crowd.” “Oh no.” called our Ross. “Look… Livvy. sir. We haven’t time. She knew if she did. She felt herself panicking again. It’s just been a communications mix-up. she would get lost and Ross might not be able to find her. although it was likely not more than a couple of minutes she became aware of Ross coming towards her. After what seemed like an age. slammed the door shut and whisked him away before I could get there.“Over here. but everything about her wanted to go and find Rusty. surprised to find her hands were shaking slightly. You have to have a short distance 366 . As he approached she could tell that Rusty was not with him. He works for the security service here. She followed Ross’s aura as it mixed with the general auric mix in the crowd. She suddenly felt very alone. “No.” she sobbed. I called Ross on my mobile. Stay here and don’t move. Ross. “This is a bit of a mess. Livvy. I’ll go and get him. “If they think he’s got a bomb. She folded her arms in front of her.” Livvy stood still.” said Livvy. “He’s got that harness and his pouch on his back.” “A lead? What do you mean a lead?” “That’s what we were doing. These armed officers ran up with this little cart thing with a door in the side.” cried Livvy. It didn’t seem to be there. breaking into tears again. It’ll take a while and we haven’t got a while.” cried Livvy.” said Ross. Livvy.” “Well I don’t know where she is. and a chimney on top. She really didn’t know what to do. There was a huge atmospheric disturbance and a kerfuffle of anxious voices. choking back her tears. I’m really sorry. He tried to comfort her. don’t worry. more through tension than exertion. It spooked all the people around and everybody was either standing rooted to the spot or trying to get away.” “When can we have him back.

” Her voice still had a slight catch in it. it’s Okay. I’ve completely lost my bearings.” 367 .” Ross gave Livvy a tissue and she blew her nose. “There’s no time to wait for them to release him. I saw where you were walking before all this happened. gaining control of herself a little. It’s Okay Livvy. everybody started looking at me… I felt such a fool.” Chapter 36 Knife Edge Sample Ross and Livvy were standing alone in the middle of the crowded departure lounge. “I mean me and Rusty… It comes from the space between us… and I got lost without him…” She sobbed again. “But I don’t know which direction it was now. Then you and I can go and find Soraya together. We need to find Soraya now. “He’ll see that Rusty’s Okay.between you…” Livvy choked back the tears again. I’ll call John and make sure Rusty is Okay.” he said soothingly. I hurt my shin. He listened briefly then clicked the instrument off. “Then they took him away… he’s gone and I can’t find Soraya without him!” Ross put an arm comfortingly around her. “Between us we could tell where she was but I couldn’t find my way through the crowd… I kept falling over things. Ross phoned John and told him what had happened. “We can do this.” he said to Livvy. Were you walking towards her then? It was only five minutes ago. “We had a definite reading on her and we were going well in that direction before all this happened.” said Livvy.” “Yes we were.

Livvy. She now knew that Rusty was safe and Ross was showing an ability to work closely with her. Livvy. Silly me. “John? Was there just the one man with Soraya?… Okay… Okay… and what did he look like?… Okay… medium build… about my height… heavy moustache and wearing a grey.’ That’s not where the gates for the private flight departures are. “I got the impression from John. What colour was his tie?… Can’t remember… Okay. If they’ve gone down that one.” “Let’s get started down the corridor while you do that. There were fewer people and they were walking in the same direction. How long will you need to check this place out?” 368 . The numbers of the gates which are down each corridor are indicated over each entrance. They’re to travel on a small executive jet. We’re now at gates 23 and 24. I’ll give John a call and check and see if I can get a description of the man as well. I think it’s about a six seater. of course not. Bye. western suit. Hold on while I phone John.“We’re now in a wide concourse. Each corridor leads to the gates through which the planes are boarded. It’s just here… Okay. He connected with Magnus who then handed him over to John. with corridors leading off of it. This man was a kind of steward and co-pilot.” “Who’s they. I didn’t think. That’s enough. we’re coming to the end of the walkway.” They got off all right. Hang-on.” Livvy began to feel better as they started to move down the corridor. The people you can see milling around are waiting to get on their flights.” Livvy could hear Ross scrolling through the numbers on his mobile.” “Oh. Ross?” Livvy’s head was clearing a bit now and she was starting to think rationally again. Livvy? Oh. “I’ll hold onto your arm.” said Ross. She was still feeling the shock of her emotions but was gaining a bit of confidence again. Okay. good. There’s an handrail here that moves with you. We’ll be in touch. You were heading towards the one marked ‘gates 23-30. they must be hiding for some reason. Ross.” said Livvy. “We’ll get on it. “There’s a moving walkway just here. that it was just one official who picked up Soraya. “Yes I did. but that description’s no good to me.” “Did you get that.

” “Tell me what your plan was. I’m feeling really shaken up. As she spoke. As they stood on the rubber matting. Okay Ross. going over it with her in a way that helped to rebuild her confidence. maybe off in a corner somewhere. Ross began to smile slightly. She thought of Alex. she could feel the movement under her feet. Some passengers had piled their luggage on the seats next to them. They ended with his repeating the whole scenario back to her. it didn’t seem to be there. Her feeling were still high and disturbed. I made such a mess back there that I’ve just lost my confidence. He would no doubt be thinking of her. I guess I made a bit of a spectacle of myself with all that falling about and things. they didn’t have an inkling of what was about to unfold.” Ross led her over to two seats at the end of a back row. She knew that what she was about to attempt was for the 369 .” She turned to him. They sat as if engrossed in a personal conversation. I have seen people looking at you but I guess your more aware of the nature of their attention than I am.” she replied. The auras of the people in front also seemed to be standing still but the auras of the people walking back in the opposite direction seemed to be moving abnormally fast. If we speak quietly we’ll be all right. now?” “Yes.” she said. pushing on her over certain points to test her out and he also added in ideas of his own. Ross. Soraya’s aura is extraordinary. Ross’s confidence in her plan was helping a lot. “I want to go over it with you. She thought of Rusty. “Ross. Livvy could tell that he liked the idea from the changes in his atmosphere. Again she tried to find a similar place in her own heart and again.” “Well yes. “There’s some seats over here. To me she’ll stand out like a white dove in a flock of sparrows.” he said softly. I’m aware that people are looking at me. The thought of him warmed her heart more than anything.” said Ross. her voice shaking a little. however. She remembered the green. no doubt distressed at his sudden enclosure and confinement. Somehow I sense we are getting near. He asked her questions.“I’ve done it already. “could we find somewhere quiet.” They negotiated the next walkway. “I’m really not sure if I can pull this off. When they had parted. still-point in the centre of the turmoil of Magnus’s atmosphere. To you she’ll be a tiny person in a wheelchair. “Shall we get on the next walkway.

“Livvy!” she exclaimed. Even before they reached the end of the walkway.welfare of the nation. “Who’s this. Pardon my manners. She let her attention rest there as she sensed the approach of the next set of gates. Now Livvy could perceive Soraya clearly to her left. I think there’s tables for a coffee shop behind it. “I see her now. but the emotional state of the man threw her.” “Oh?” said the young woman. “Soraya! We’ve been looking all over for you. She was in the company of a man. Lead me over to her. “Where?” asked Ross.” she said indicating her companion. “He is a representative of our Home Office in Montanistan. 370 .” They got off. her Montanistani accent giving a peculiar and pleasant flavour to her Arabic. “There. “she’s sitting drinking coffee with a man that matches the description. Alex was very real for her and they were in this together. using a more formal idiom in her Arabic. Rogers is from the Nation Blood Donor Resister. Livvy noted the marked contrast between this outward gesture and his inner nervousness and suspicion.” “There’s a kind of light screen there.” Ross negotiated some of the small round tables as they approached. He has been given the job of escorting me home. Ross felt Livvy’s grip tighten on his arm. Mr. “This is Ross Rogers. that’s all I can see. but that was a theory. then?” “Oh. puzzled.” “Good.” Metmah nodded politely and extended his hand. She became aware of it in the midst of her distress.” said Livvy. straight ahead and slightly to our right. “This is Metmah Saphiroh.” said Ross. Hang-on we’re reaching the end of the walkway. She didn’t like the nature of his atmosphere. “There she is.” she said. It held a sparky. yellow-red nervousness and it was agitated. It was the image of him in her mindfulness of her heart that formed the still-point. I’m just aware of her aura. She had an idea of how to approach Soraya.” Soraya looked surprised. She knew it was now or never. It took the stillpoint to steady her. Livvy was aware of a burst of recognition in Soraya. I can’t see anything visually at all to help you see her. Ross.

you could save his life!” “But Livvy. It’s blood gene sequencing. tragic.” nodded Soraya. conveying. “There’s a young child in West London.“Soraya. steadily.” encouraged Soraya. immune deficiency disease. He has to live in a sterile tent. it’s O. to re-sequence the generating cells in the bone marrow. sympathetically. to the faulty genes of another person.” “Okay. the nurse took a small blood sample from you. Last night the computer picked it up as being the match for this young boy.” “Your Blood Type.” “What a terrible story. There are over a thousand different sequence groups. “Go on. He’s just three and his parents were originally Uzbekistani although they’ve been here for over twenty years. when you had your health check. Until very recently. through a remarkable coincidence. yes Soraya. they have to have someone with a matching blood makeup. as much as inhibiting her feelings for the other woman. can’t you see Soraya. and doctors say it is only a matter of time before he contacts an infection and he will die. Metmah’s to one of confusion on top of his residual nervousness.” said Soraya. I know. There has been no sequencing work done as yet in Uzbekistan. It’s a miracle even! You come from a related race. It’s a wonderful coincidence. Soraya. Soraya. “This little boy suffers from a rare.” Soraya nodded with interest.” agreed Livvy. We do a health 371 . it was placed on the National Blood Donor Register. “Soraya. and this is the miracle. the elegance of the formal Arabic. You wash up on our shores from out of the blue. and you have to have the same sequence group to be able to transfer re-sequencing. It’s wonderful to see you again.” said Livvy. As a matter of course. “The wonderful thing is that since the completion of the genome project. “Yes. It’s nothing unusual. Rh positive.” “Well up until now they haven’t been able to find anyone with a matching blood-gene sequence. it was seen as incurable. I know my blood type. Livvy continued. Something of an entirely different order. This is something entirely different. doctors have been able to isolate the factor in the blood that causes this disease. Soraya’s smile broke through her puzzled expression. The thing is.” Soraya’s expression turned to one of interest. “I’ve not heard of this before but go on. The gene sequences tend to follow racial groups. so soon and so unexpectedly. a wonderful thing has happened. Soraya.

” said Metmah. 372 . “It’s my duty to see that you are cared for and brought home safely. Anyway… I don’t need to explain this to you. All the flights are delayed for some reason. He was desperately trying to patch it up. “Soraya. Before he had caught sight of her and Ross. thinking on her feet. “We have a plane to catch very shortly and we mustn’t miss it.” “The answer is no.” he replied curtly.test of you. “That’s right. a rift appeared in the red wall. Metmah. Saphiroh. you must have some time to spare. Livvy turned her attention to him. “Oh?” said Livvy. I should really be addressing you with this request. Livvy was becoming increasingly aware of the sharp changes that were occurring in the atmosphere of Metmah. I don’t like sitting in one place so we came for a walk. Instinctively. “Don’t be so stubborn. We must be ready.” broke in Soraya. more than the bluff science. It was the realness of that passion. defensively. He was now sensing the warmth and friendship between herself and Soraya and she could sense his panic in losing control over the woman he was escorting. As she was speaking.” Livvy could feel Soraya’s attention turn back to her. there has been a delay.” “Oh. We routinely put your blood sequence into our national register and a few days later it comes up as a match for this little boy!” Livvy wasn’t just being a good actress. It shone with a penetrating light onto the red wall in Metmah. causing it to thin even more. A bright red wall was building up in the midst of his torso and it was becoming more substantial every second. I’m just thinking of you. Her distress with the Rusty incident was so recent that she was able to channel the passionate energy of it into what she was saying to Soraya. Livvy had had the time to take in the nature of his emotional state. he had taken on an air of confusion and suspicion. “I thought that as you were down here rather than in the departure lounge for private passengers.” Metmah was caught off guard.” Livvy became aware of a strong yellow current flowing as a circle in the middle of Soraya’s aura.” The red wall was now filling his whole presence but in doing so it had thinned. The flight might be restored at any time. “I’m sorry Mr. He had been nervous then. that convinced Soraya. but after they had made their approach.

indicating Ross. ‘Oh. Mr Rogers here was speaking to the Terminal Control Centre. if the man was working for her husband. Indeed.’ thought Livvy to herself. You would not need time to recover. So little in fact that it would not affect you in any way. more brightly. you might lose your job…” said Soraya pensively. I’ll lose my job… or even worse. yellowred nervousness was fading as he began to feel a warm empathy with the mission to save the boy. Was it compassion for the boy who needed her blood.” continued Soraya. A last red post rose up in his heart. “Soraya is right. or was it compassion for Metmah and his plight? “That’s right. “In that case.” Livvy felt Soraya’s attention on the man. she might have much more say in this situation than Livvy had first assumed. Livvy turned to Ross. It wouldn’t be very much.” Livvy was aware that the final red resistance in Metmah had collapsed. “you are doing a wonderful job of looking after me. Rogers here. then they will give you priority has soon as it is done. Metmah.” she replied.“What is it that you would like me to do. He turned to Soraya. drew a deep breath. “Metmah. please don’t listen to him. “Soraya. They understand the humanitarian nature of our request and they told us that if they have to hold the flight for you to do this. He’s our little brother…” Livvy could feel Soraya’s gaze melting Metmahs resistance. Maybe she wasn’t under the thumb of this man. Metmah. 373 .” she said. Livvy?” Livvy was beginning to realise that Soraya had a degree of clout in her own country. “Good! let’s go. “has made a request at the first aid centre that we could take a small sample of your blood. I don’t think this will cause a problem with our flight. It would take five minutes at the most. Metmah. Metmah. It will save the little boy’s life… he’s of our faith. “We won’t tell them!” “Metmah. Even the sparky. “No-one must know?” “You have my word. They’re wanting to help the little boy too. “Mr. “They’ve agreed. I have your word?” he asked. if they find out back home. that I let you do this.” Livvy felt Soraya’s attention shift back to Metmah. The circle of current within her turned warm as if it carried compassion.” replied Livvy. He had to find out which flight was yours. with your permission of course.” he said.” she told him.” added Livvy. “So. Let’s do it. The yellow current had cooled to a warm glow and the red wall had all but gone.

... “‘Oh... What did you do to get them to suddenly jump us to the front of the queue..” remarked Ross.... as he escorted Soraya out to the runway.. who up to this point had been very quiet..... If it was an accidental infection.” said Ross. It’s unlikely that 374 .“Oh. Ross led the way back to the main departure lounge and headed in the direction that Jon had indicated earlier. to tell him they were on their way and so that he could make himself scarce whilst Soraya was in the clinic... that was a happy man that just left. referring to the demeanour of Metmah Saphiroh.. I’m so relieved..” said Livvy...” he replied... He made a brief call to Magnus..” then to Livvy.... “that would make doubly sure that he doesn’t let anyone know about the blood donation. it’s high pitched drone hardly penetrating the heavy glass windows of the viewing platform...... “Yes.. “Will you convey that to them?” “Of course..” “They might not..... “I overheard the phone-call that came in from his pilot.......... mimicking Matmah’s deep Montanistani voice. You will make many people very happy.. “Well.. I just got a little angry and got onto the Terminal Control Centre and gave them a piece of my mind!’” she said.” said Magnus. In contrast to the deep roar and lumbering takeoff of the commercial planes. a slight concern in her voice........ ‘Wow..... I don’t think he would have allowed her to be infected intentionally.” she said.. Livvy could tell that he really wasn’t acting at all when he said this. They might just put two and two together if they found out. . and did so. he wouldn’t have known because she was vaccinated and would have shown no sign of the disease apart from mild nausea and a head cold... Ross turned to Metmah and Soraya. He said in English. rather than losing his job. “Well I hope so.. “Knowing how much Darius cares for his wife. “Sounds like he’ll be in for a promotion....... The idea of not telling anyone would be a huge plus for keeping what they were doing under wraps.. “Thank you so much for your generosity and kindness.....’” She laughed lightly.. Metmah! you have a lot of pull in that place.” said Livvy. the small executive jet accelerated rapidly and lifted smoothly into the air.

which I have no doubt we will. They would then be trained to go in and handle a major incident of infection. We’re likely to find a much lower concentration in this sample because it’s a week further away from the infection. Magnus looked over at her. You would probably be Okay within the hour. Finally it was Livvy who broke the silence. “It depends how long afterwards. It was also a miracle that she was infected so recently. about six months minimum to produce enough for a few thousand people.Darius realises that his wife is carrying the very anti-bodies that are capable of foiling his entire plot. We certainly have our work cut out for the future if we are going to prevent this disaster. “It’s a bit of both. Ross. If we invest a lot of money and get our top people onto it.” “Will the vaccine work after you have been exposed?” asked Ross.” 375 . In eight months enough to curb a major outbreak. it is able to recognise the nature of the infection immediately. The disease is soon eliminated from the body and the anti-bodies then continue to patrol the blood for a few weeks until the end of their natural life span. It was a miracle that she was infected. The sample that Nurse Jeffreys took was quiet high in anti-bodies. One the other hand. “About a year. Livvy. if she was already vaccinated. otherwise I wouldn’t hold out much hope.” “How long will it take to develop the vaccine?” asked Livvy. When the body becomes infected with the disease. “To put it into simple terms. The antibodies then flood through the blood stream and kill very virus of the disease that they come up against. are we celebrating or is this still a disaster?” She had been reading his atmosphere and it was not entirely happy. because it already has experience of it and this stimulates the cells in the spleen to make the anti-bodies. We would have to immunise a select few members of an emergency squad.” replied Magnus. we have yet another tool to do it with.” “The human immune response is very complex. “I’m confused Magnus. no doubt through the grace of someone far large than all of this.” The small group stood silently while Magnus’s comments sunk in. That template lies inside a very small number of cells in the spleen.” “I don’t understand why she needed to be infected to have the anti-bodies. The vaccination process produces the template to make the anti-bodies.

She found it. Instead.” she paused and searched Magnus’s aura for a sign of understanding. “I understand that this is your dog. She turned and was filled with joy to behold the aura of her beloved Rusty. “Oh yes it is. She would have known something was wrong and refused to give the blood.” 376 . That was a very sobering thought and I held it as I told her about a little boy who needed a sample of her blood to save his life. “so I guess you must have. tears of relief coming into her eyes.” agreed Magnus. but not the letter of it. walking alongside an unfamiliar aura of a man. That is a very different atmosphere from being stressed about trying to get somebody to do something that they wouldn’t normally do. my atmosphere and my story were congruent. “How did you manage to persuade Soraya to give the blood sample?” “I did it with atmosphere. falling to her knees beside Rusty and giving him a huge hug.He thought for a bit.” “She’s an astute woman. miss. She’s too sensitive. “You know how lawyers sometimes say that someone is following the letter of the law but not the spirit of it?” she continued.” he said.” she repeated. I think we can celebrate. I was genuinely distressed over the incident with Rusty. I used the little boy as a symbol for all the people who might die an agonising death if she didn’t give the blood. “steady. “Soraya is as sensitive to atmosphere as I am. “Oh yes it his. although she doesn’t ‘see’ it in the way that I do.” Livvy turned to Magnus and gave him the fullness of her attention. Rusty was wagged himself from head to tail to such an extent that Livvy was nearly knocked over. “We’ve bought ourselves a breathing space.” cried Livvy.” said the man kindly. Then I was deeply aware of the potential victims of a biological attack. “Well I guess I told the spirit of the truth.” Magnus looked at Livvy quizzically. boy. “I wouldn’t have been able to lie to Soraya.” he said finally.” she replied. “Steady. I was surrounded by people at the time and it didn’t take much to imagine them all being struck down by a deadly virus sprayed into their midst.” Just then Livvy felt a familiar tingling sensation to her left. “Yes.” said the man. reaching down and holding the dog’s collar. “By the way.

draining from the cut straw ends. the touch of Livvy’s feet on the soft meadowland was just sufficient to maintain her movement through the dark night air as the auric emanation from the living sea of vegetation guided them on their way.” Epilogue It was just as the ancient Native Americans had described. “Not as valuable as him. then out onto pastureland.” “Well I’m sorry about his harness and the pouch. Livvy fairly flew over the landscape as she followed Rusty’s lead. so light were their steps. Her intent enveloped the vibrant mauve blur that was Rusty as he glided silently on in front of her. tunnels through the dense trees. “We got separated and I couldn’t find him. pushing her face into the thick hair of Rusty’s neck. I hope it wasn’t anything too valuable.” said Livvy.” “Not as valuable as him.“Thank you for bringing him back. with its lush well-cropped grass. These created an eerie tableau before her. At one point they leapt lightly over a stile which bridged a low stone wall and they began to cross a freshly harvested grain field. She was directing him to seek out the way to the Citadel. The two of them hardly made a sound. Indeed.” she said. It 377 . The stubble was pressed flat and her perceptions could pick out the last bleedings of life essence. We cut them off with a robot and detonated them in a controlled explosion. They moved through forest pathways.

the glare from the pinpoints of electric light were interfering with his night vision. there it was. The sun had set long ago and the slim fingernail of the new moon had just gone behind the Malvern Hills. He stared down into a particularly dark.’ He could see the delicate texture of the grass. dark. After a while. smooth air. it was beginning to reveal itself to him. earthbound stars were shrinking his pupils and causing an almost imperceptible but nebulous glare in his eyes. These sharp. She had said that she could only see about as well in broad daylight as a sighted person could on a moonless night. High in that same sky. So focussed was Livvy on their journey that. 378 . unusually for her. the faint but definite shining of the starlight reflected up from the ground below.’ he thought to himself. ‘Gosh. Although there was near total darkness. searching for somewhere well away from human habitation. He thought of her. The stars now appeared very bright. He had switched off his sensors and was listening to the gentle wash of air over his wings as he hovered. No wonder there was enough light to discern the richness of the landscape spread out beneath him. He thought of how she had occasionally described her ability to see visible light. he could tell where he was without even thinking by unconsciously noting the familiar patterns made by the jewels of artificial light from the roads and houses below him. Yes. He began to feel a strong empathy with her as his fascination for this faintly luminous silvery world began to grow on him. the slightly darker tracery of the dry-stone walls and the undulations of the hills and folds as the earth sculpted herself beneath him. He could navigate as well in this area as anyone could in their own neighbourhood. ‘this must be what she sees in the broad daylight when she is not giving her attention to auras. This was just such a night. she was giving no attention to what was in the sky above. uninhabited part of the terrain for some minutes. virtually effortless in the wave-lift coming up from the Cotswold edge. He looked down into the darkness of the hills. Alex was also moving silently through the cool.would not be far now. He glanced upwards. Even up here. agile pupils began to dilate to their full 7 millimetres. his young. They had been travelling this way for about threequarters of an hour and they had already covered the majority of the distance from Judith’s house. It was a world now lost to modern western folk as they lived their lives in consort with their sleepless electric lights.

It was Livvy and Rusty. that he caught a subtle but distinct movement out of the corner of his eye. They had arrived. vibrant. Similarly. They must have chosen to come back on foot over the open terrain. It was whilst looking at the comparative brightness of the glow from one of the harvested fields. They were gliding. Livvy saw the edge of the living landscape as it outlined the road ahead. The old. Suddenly he realised who he was seeing. Now instead of passing over a textured carpet. It was then he could track them. her place of being. They both knew which one of these to choose and quickly moved along it. for two of them there were. He looked. luminous borders. Yes. three-dimensional. living wall of the hedge. colour-sensitive. On the other side of the long snakelike void of the tarmac. beckoning them in various directions.It was her home. Suddenly 379 .but there was definitely something ethereal about them. rather than looking with the dense. These appeared as shiny stubble reflecting the scanty light from above. Was he seeing their auras or was it simply their image in the starlight? He couldn’t be sure . they were moving within a scenery of magnificent proportions. He let his attention go to the movement-sensitive periphery of his vision. he would only just arrive on the landing platform of the Citadel as they would arrive at its door. He looked away. bio-plasmic cathedral. in a scaled down form. She had spent quite a bit of time at Yeoverton house of late and she now felt as though she was coming home. and shortly there it was again. he was sure of it now. Rusty slowed and led her up to the gate in the hedge. They were moving directly towards the road which he could clearly see running past the distinct outline of the grounds of Yeoverton House. Even from this distance he was amazed by their effortless speed. towered over the sparkling detail of the bedding plants. gave way to subtle carpets of grassy pathways. She felt for the latch and quietly let herself and the dog through into the radiant garden interior on the other side. This breathtaking. Even if he turned and flew there now. well tended trees towered over carefully trimmed shrubs and voluminous. He began to see dark patches of trees and the near-bright gleam of newly harvested grain-fields. was the high. the auric spears of delphiniums and hollyhocks in the borders. foveal centre. smoothly and effortlessly over the stubble.so faint was the light . but it was gone.

She was just able to perceive a rose-coloured aura as Alex pulled up and alighted on the landing platform far above them. She settled down next to where she could perceive the warmth of his presence. I just arrived. It was just as we were about to go in through the door. “It looked to me as though it was across some fields of stubble. “you sit first and I’ll sit next to you.” she said. I saw you were coming this way so I cut off my flying routine to come and greet you.” Alex shifted himself over onto to the sofa and took her hand.they broke out of the great milieu of the garden into the round empty space which was dominated by the tall.” Alex bent over slightly to ruffle the dog’s ears. I’m amazed you could see us. They emerged into the sitting room just as Alex slid down the pole into his chair.” “Yes. Her heart leapt with excitement as she opened the door and made her way into the interior and up the stairs. Suddenly Rusty let out a faint ruff. Livvy knew her way very well and she made for the door with an easy grace. ivy-clad walls of the Citadel. “I’m not surprised. “I saw you coming.” he began. “No. “It wasn’t as though I could perceive you as you do me.” he said reaching out his hand to hers and guiding it down to the comfortable sofa next to his chair. His intent was directed upwards and she followed it with her attention. Neither she nor Rusty needed any light as they climbed the five flights up to Alex’s apartment at the top. sit down. “Yes I did.” She was bending over to kiss him but paused as he spoke. There was a definite excitement there of an unusual texture. “What was I doing?” “You were running behind Rusty. She turned and took in his aura. I just caught an impression of your aura as you landed. I mean I think 380 . She took note of his atmospherics.” “Here. wheeling over to her. “You saw us?” she queried. but there was no hint of him teasing her. As you can see. “Surprise!” called out Livvy noting his presence as they went into the room. Was there a lot of light? The moon isn’t about is it? I did take in the stars earlier but I don’t remember the moon.” “Oh?” she said. standing erect again and putting her hands on her hips. About ten minutes ago.” he replied. “but as I was flying I just started thinking about you for some reason.

about you a lot. He turned to her and she drew back slightly to make room for him.” “Well.” Livvy.” She nodded. all of a sudden I could see it. attentively. silver world that you must see on a sunny day. away from any artificial light.” she paused pensively and settled down again. Livvy. I’m not so sure I didn’t. Alex.” Her lips were very close to his and she spoke in a soft whisper. but this was different.” he said. but it’s not what you think. “I guess you’re right. pretending to be indignant. Nothing but pure starlight …the light of interstellar space. I was just amazed. of how even in bright sunshine. “I’m glad you did …really glad. After a while.” She snuggled up to him. The faint. that you would arrive and I wouldn’t be there to greet you. I was in such an other-world. I didn’t realise it was you at first. So.” said Alex. lying at their feet. I rested my eyes on a particularly dark part of the hills.” “Well. “You seem a little nervous. She appeared to be looking into space herself but was actually totally engrossed in what he was saying and in his concordant atmospherics. I suddenly realised that it was a moonless night. I came …and here I am. “That was such an amazing story. “Are you reading my aura?” she said. Rusty. but it’s something I sense. the dark edge of sight and the perception of the ethereal. 381 . you can only see what I see on a moonless night. “when suddenly I saw you and Rusty running across the stubble of a freshly harvested field.” Livvy had her arm around Alex and her chin on his shoulder. “Then I started thinking about the way that you describe. “I was hovering there taking it all in. “Not like you do. squeezed his hand and smiled. “The two worlds are very close. It suddenly occurred to me that if I didn’t hurry back. almost dark. my eyes began to adapt fully and then. I don’t think I have ever seen anything like it. She was whispering in his ear.” Livvy laughed lightly. Then I saw where you were going and realised that it was you. I’m as thrilled that you saw what you did as I would have been if you had seen our actual auras.” he continued. It was a real sense of empathy with you. It was just pure starlight and so beautiful that I became totally enchanted by it. stirred slightly and went to sleep.

She’s up here with me … Alex listened and then turned to Livvy. Good Night. “I didn’t know you had a key to the house.” he said softly. “Then I won’t be able to go home …” Her voice trailed off as in a question. He groaned.” Alex put down the phone. Alex turned back to the phone. “It’s just that …” She was so close she could almost taste him. She looked crestfallen. being aware of it in Alex. She can use mine … “Yes. thinking out loud as he caressed the tips of her hair. electric chemistry. It appeared golden and lively. Ross. Now. Ross. so it’s not going to rain in here …and I’m well and fit …and we’ve got a week off. a slight catch in his voice.“What is it then?” he whispered back. Finally their lips touched with a fine.” “I see. Her attention was held by a particularly bright nimbus within his aura.” she said. she found it strangely exciting …intoxicating even. She had observed atmospherics like it before in men and they had frightened her …perhaps rightly. Magnus walks in or it starts to rain or you’re so injured you can hardly move … I’m just nervous that if I kiss you …” she paused again. Her lips were slightly parted and she could feel a slight tension in the back of her throat as he came close to her again. They both got back about ten minutes ago. “It’s all right. “Ross is asking if you’ve got your key? He wants to lock up the house. He smiled at her. “Magnus is at the ISD headquarters with Fred for several days …Judith’s in Norton …we’re indoors.” Livvy shook her head. “Hello? … “Oh Hello Ross … “Oh. 382 . then gently lifted her chin.” With each point being made he moved a little closer to her. pulled himself up and reached for the phone on the table behind the sofa. You too. “Whenever we’ve got this close …something has always come up. He settled down next to her. don’t worry.” He poured two glasses of wine from a bottle next to the phone and offered one to her. As he offered the glass to her she moved her attention to the wine. The phone rang! Livvy sighed and dropped her head on Alex’s shoulder. “I don’t. “that something like that will happen again.

“I just switched off all of the lights. 383 .” “Why?” “I want to see you as you are. Earlier that evening. “What did you just do?” she asked. He had seen her do it as she fairly flew across the stubble fields. Alex reached for a remote control on the table by the phone and used it to switch off all of the lights. “How long for?” “Just a few minutes.” She sat still.” He moved closer.” “The eternal here. Some forty years before . It had even brushed through the soft ethereal surround that lay beyond her form.” She took the glass from him and smiled. It took his breath away. It shone out brilliantly from the surface of that great star and now . thinking about what he had just said.” She nuzzled him gently.it glowed faintly down through the tall window slit and lit up her face. He caught sight of it with a deeper part of himself. He responded in kind. Arctrurus.” she said. seeing her as if for the first time. “You’ll have to wait.the light from the star.“You are home. Livvy. Some time later. barely touching their surface. “Home is where my heart is. It had caressed her neck and followed the flow of her hair right down to her shoulders.” She traced out his face delicately with her fingers. Now he too had come down from his high isolation and touched the edge of hers. or the one where I am?” “They’re both in the same place. she had pushed out on the bonds of her world and touched the edge of his.a fleeting moment later for the light itself . his touch had fully explored her face. “And where is your heart?” “Here.high overhead and far across the vast reaches of the Galaxy . had been born.

Related Interests