“Oh you know, same ol’, same ol’,
still working on that whole transmutation thing. Can’t quite get it down. Can’t
quite get it … still trying … still might … still …” His voice trails off as he
furrows his brow, apparently lost in the intricacies of some possibility known
only to him.
tries again. “Morie, I’d like you to
meet Banshooo. He has an interesting story to tell.”
alchemist comes back to the moment, squinting anew at Banshooo. “Ah yes, yes,
very nice. Very nice.” He removes a pile
of books from a thread-bare couch, looking about near-sightedly. “I think maybe
I’ve got some sherry around here someplace.”
not necessary, really.” Ambrose smiles, eyeing a shelf of cob-webby wine
glasses sitting next to a bottle marked sulfuric acid. “We just want to talk.”
With me? How nice. Yes, very nice, very nice.”
nudges Banshooo. “Go ahead. Morienus knows about these things.”
looks at this old man whose long white beard appears to have been used for a
napkin. He knows alchemy was once a respected field of study but not anymore,
something to do with a failure to turn things into gold. This wrinkled dusty
old guy appears to be the last of his kind.
hesitates but Ambrose nods encouragingly. “Go on, talk to him.” And so the
monkey tells the alchemist about the sound that washed over him in the meadow.
Morie listens intently, his palms together, his fingers against his chin. Now
he nods, thoughtfully, then says,
“Ah yes. That could be. A sound wave is a physical force. Vibratory
resonance can open up a state of awareness beyond the usual everyday state.”
Banshooo nods. “Yes, that’s what happened.
After the sound came, I was able to see something else, something I couldn’t
see just walking around normally.”
what was that?”
the first time I saw … dying. So much dying.” He lowers his head. “Extinction everywhere.”
the second time?”
second time I saw …” He pauses.
alchemist raises his bushy eyebrows. “You saw what?”
looks at Ambrose who nods reassuringly. He continues. “I remembered what
happened when my mother died.”
“Hmmm.” Morie speaks slowly, almost to himself. “This
could be a case of resonance, of limbic resonance activating a matched filter.”
frowns. “What does that mean?”
leans back. “Experience creates a vibration that stays within you. That
vibration is a kind of tone, reverberating to certain pitches, certain events
and beings. It acts almost like an antenna, picking up one kind of transmission
but deaf to others. In effect, everyone is an antenna, vibrating with their own
individual experiences.” He puts his gnarled, veined hands on the arms of the
chair and lifts himself up, walking slowly around the room.
the same time, sound waves are constantly moving through space, looking for
something that will receive them. When they find a match,” he stops and brings
his hands together, “we resonate.” He gives a little half-smile. “In effect,
beings are like old-fashioned radio receivers, calibrated to pick up one signal
and filter out the others, looking for the frequency that will resonate, that
will match.” He looks at Banshooo. “A sound can remind you of something you
know, even if you don’t know you know it, enlivening something hidden within
you, for good or for ill.”
eyes are wide. “It felt like that, like something reverberating in me. Like
what happened in this re-“ he pauses, “membering?”
looks up at Morie, ready to tell this old man what he saw.
mother was dead. She was cold. I was cold too. Really cold. Then a shadow came,
a shadow shaped like her. And it touched her. Then it touched me. And I wasn’t
cold anymore. I was all right.”
alchemist is squinting at Banshooo, his expression no longer one of patient
instructor. “Are you making this up? That wouldn’t be nice you know, to fool
No. I’m not making anything up.” He looks at Ambrose who speaks firmly.
not, Morie, I saw it too. A shadow bent down and touched them both. It was like
the deep heart of … something. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
sits back down in his chair with a stunned expression on his face. After
several silent moments he speaks quietly. “You saw a parayama, the highest
essence of a species. The one who comes for the dead.” His eyes narrow. “You’re
not supposed to see that unless ….”
not dead,” Ambrose says.
“I noticed that. It’s very puzzling.” The alchemist continues.
“The essence of the species appears only to that being who has died. You can’t
see the parayama that comes for another, you can only see the parayama that
comes for you.”
I did. I saw it. I was alone and it protected me. And then there was a soft
kind of purring that turned into the most incredible music I’ve ever heard. No.
Not music, almost music, like music, but different … it was like they were
showing me things, unseen things. And I was safe. I was secure and safe.”
and Morienus look at each other. The owl makes a little shrugging motion,
“You’ve got to admit, it’s a miracle he survived. Once his mother died, he
might as well have had a sign pointed at his head saying ‘Free Lunch.’”
nods. “Yes, that’s true. That’s very true.”
speaks slowly as he considers this improbable possibility. “It must have been
your mother’s parayama. And it stayed to care for you. That’s a very rare
experience, Banshooo. That doesn’t usually happen.”
actually.” Morie is staring at Banshooo. “It never happens.” He shakes his head
slowly and says it again. “Never.”
is a long pause as the ramifications of this statement float through the dingy