John Fish B.Sc.Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)
Let the Legends of Pembrokeshire be with You!
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Discover Pembrokeshire's Legends
"Ni allaf ddweud beth i'w feddwl amdano ... mae'n ddiderfyn o feddwl anfeidrol"
"Cannot tell what to think of it ... it is past the infinite of thought" Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing
Dedicated to Ivor and Nesta, my father and mother
(this novel contains hyperlinks to and from the below List of Chapters - click on the *** icon to navigate your way around)
PEMBROKESHIRE - LAND OF THE NORMAN WARLORDS ***
WEST WALES ***
NEW LABOUR, NEW TECHNOLOGY ***
GLASS CEILINGS ***
A NOTE ON SPRINGTIME IN PARIS ***
THE ALIEN TEST ***
INTRODUCTION TO ANALOG COMPUTING ***
SOME SORT OF PSYCHOPATH ***
SIR BENFRO ***
TIP OF AN ICEBERG ***
MACHINE LANGUAGE ***
THE SILVER SPOON ***
THE END OF THE WORLD ***
WAR GAMES ***
HOYLES MOUTH CAVE ***
AFTER THE FLOOD ***
THE RIDGEWAY ***
MILFORD HAVEN WATERWAY ***
PRESELI MOUNTAINS ***
GOOD OR BAD? ***
NOT WITHOUT HOPE ***
WHY SHOULD I? ***
Y LLEUAD ***
PEMBROKESHIRE - LAND OF THE NORMAN WARLORDS
It happened at 8.10 pm on the night of Thursday 15th February l996. It was the beginning of the start of the Sea Empress supertanker environmental disaster. Not that anyone foresaw quite how the future would unfold for there was a false sense of security since a few months earlier the Borga supertanker had similarly run aground.
You might be wondering what supertankers and environmental disaster have to do with the Normans; warlords or otherwise. But that's how the history of Pembrokeshire is: Pembrokeshire with its Milford Haven Waterway the mouth of the Welsh dragon - look at a map of Wales and you'll see what I mean; snapping wide open into the Atlantic Ocean, the western seaboard of the European Union.
Look east and what do you find? Normans. Look west and what do you see? Islands with Nordic names such as Skokholm, Skomer and Grassholm. Pembrokeshire, where the two lines of Viking bloodlines met. Like some gigantic pincer movement one tribe went south into France and the other west round Scotland and into Ireland, then the jaws snapped shut at Pembrokeshire.
Was it part of some grand design or did it happen naturally? Naturally in the sense of spontaneously. One thing for sure though and that is that the Norman Conquest of Britain which began in 1066 was successful and over nine hundred years later is still the essential reality of the World we live in; not the same but different: our society evolving from the dictatorship of an absolute monarchy to our current vision of democracy.
In Pembrokeshire you can witness this evolution at first hand: the Norman castles and churches - all built of the same grey limestone which blends in perfectly with the blue of sea and sky, and the green of the countryside; in the Milford Haven Waterway the ships which, like the Sea Empress, work with the three oil refineries and power station that provide the energy to fuel our extravagant and wasteful current lifestyles.
There is a beauty about a ship on the sea even if it's one of the ocean's unglamorous workhorses like an oil tanker but even more so if it's a sailing ship. But that glamour would be one of terror if the ship had the sleek lines of a Viking longship or was a clumsy looking Norman merchantman; its hold pregnant with men and munitions.
Or would it? You see Pembrokeshire has always been cosmopolitan, always lots of people migrating here from other parts of Britain and Europe. The engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel (1806 - 59) had a vision of Pembrokeshire as the gateway between the Old World and the New; between Britain and America.
The result of his vision being the Great Western Railway which eventually linked Pembrokeshire (with termini at Fishguard, Neyland, the town of Milford Haven and Pembroke Dock) with London via the Severn Tunnel. Nowadays Neyland no longer has a railway line and Pembroke Dock's has been torn up for its last half-mile so that the Port of Pembroke no longer has a rail terminal. Brunel was a man of vision, a genius: what so those who would destroy his works?
Still, they don't look at it like that because it's peacetime and Pembrokeshire's a long way from London ... and Brussels too. In the Battle of the Atlantic during the Second World War then Pembrokeshire was needed ... but in peacetime; many local people have expressed the view that if the Sea Empress scenario had happened off the coast of South East England then a full-scale military mobilisation would have taken place followed by a public inquiry.
Our biggest industry is nowadays the World's biggest industry: Tourism. In the main our tourists are working class families from England coming for holidays to enjoy the Sun, sea and sand. Sandcastles and Norman castles: what is this fascination with castles which afflicts us all? Some of the castles are small: motte-and-bailey castles like Sentence Castle near Templeton in the south of the county and New Moat near Maenclochog in the north; simply a circular ditch with its contents piled up to form a central mound but still in existence even though built hundreds of years before Columbus discovered America in 1492.
Why did the Normans bother to build their castles? Because they were here to stay. With our modern European Union we think in terms of grandiose schemes like trans-European integrated transport systems: networks of roads, railways, airways and shipping lanes. In Pembrokeshire we've got ferry terminals to Ireland, and roads and railways to the ferry ports of Southern England and so on to Continental Europe. We've got an airport too but not one with scheduled services, the closest one of those being at Cardiff - which since l955 has been the capital of Wales.
So we today and the Normans of so long ago think in terms of Europe: an outward looking Europe built on trade and not an inward looking one with a line of schizophrenia furrowed in its brow with the boundary of the English Channel. So in their ability to think European the Normans were more advanced than us and only now are we beginning to catch them up.
So shall we build castles too? After all that is what Cardiff is doing in its bid to become a major European capital city. But then this story couldn't have been written in Cardiff because Cardiff doesn't possess the mystery and magic of the Preseli Bluestones, which have been preserved for posterity since 1952 within the environs of the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park.
"It's based on a piece of reverse engineering from a component which was salvaged from an alien spacecraft which crashlanded in West Wales during the Second World War."
The President of the United States of America looked incredulously at the contraption, which lay on his desk, then at General George Baker the joint chief of staff of the American armed forces, and at Cleopatra Binns who was a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Harvard University. Then he checked the calendar to make sure it wasn't April first. He got up and stood in front of the Oval Office's window surveying the White House grounds then turned his head and spoke to Binns: "It doesn't look much like a computer to me."
"That's because it's not a digital computer, it's an analog computer." Then she added somewhat disparagingly: "I expect your wife would understand."
The President shot a glance at Baker who laughed nervously: "She's quite a girl, isn't she? Sometimes makes me feel so stupid too, ha, ha!"
A thought crossed the President's mind and he grinned seeming to agree with Baker's humour; in fact the pair of them had reminded him of the pair of robots in Star Wars: Baker tall and gangly, Binns short and squat.
Binns reacted angrily: "This wasn't my idea! I was asked to assess some photographs and this is my evaluation based on the so-called facts which for all I know could be a cock-and-bull story made up by some ... some ... somebody who's being silly;" controlling her temper she cast her eyes at the ground and bit her tongue.
Binns was an interesting character, salvaged by a social worker from the inner city streets where she ran wild as a child leading a gang of kids involved in selling drugs, she'd achieved World wide fame for developing as her doctor of philosophy thesis the solution to Albert Einstein's unified field theory and at the age of twenty-nine was a Harvard professor and a visiting professor at Cambridge in England, etcetera.
The President asked Binns: "But if George really made it all up then how come your computer emerged out of it?" The President and Binns found themselves staring into each other's eyes and he found himself wondering whether or not if Baker had not been present then would she be compliant. He chuckled as a thought crossed his mind: 'Would she understand if he told her that his wife didn't understand him?' That thought brought him back to something she'd said: "I know this might be a stupid question, and forgive me if it is, but what did you mean when you said that my wife would understand your computer?"
"A woman's menstrual cycle is related to the period of the Moon's orbit around Earth. As such her body acts as a kind of computer. Not a silicon chip digital computer but a flesh and blood analog computer."
Baker gaily interjected: "I'm glad I didn't say that, I always thought that you had a reputation for being a feminist!"
The President ignored Baker then spoke softly to Binns: "So what you are saying is that this ... this analog computer can actually do something. Tell me, what can it do?"
"It's not so much about what it can do, but what it enables one to do. It's a component, in the same sense that a wheel is a component. If we didn't have wheels we couldn't have automobiles, trucks, trains, planes. To all intents and purposes we'd be back in the Stone Age where if one wanted to go anywhere then one would do so by foot or on the back of another animal."
Baker eagerly interjected: "Mister President this gives us a strategic technological edge in maintaining American status as the World's number one military power. I suggest we set up a programme to evaluate the new technology and incorporate it into our defence plans. We'll need two maybe three hundred, no billion dollars!"
The President didn't seem to hear him. "Are you saying that we could be witnessing the dawn of a new age?"
Binns eyed Baker: "Certainly the end of an old one but whether mankind has a meaningful future will depend not only on our understanding of the new technology but how we exploit it."
The President's voice was grave: "Look guys I'm quite prepared to accept the premise that Life exists elsewhere in the Universe, perhaps forms of Life that are more advanced and intelligent than we are but ... and it's a big but ... the President of the United States of America can't ..."
Baker interjected: "Can't be seen as some science fiction nut who believes in little green men!"
The President nodded: "Precisely."
Baker attempted to exert control: "That's why it's doubly important to keep the project top secret: to maintain our technological edge and the credibility of the Presidency."
"What project?" Asked Binns.
"Err ... That's top secret, you don't need to know."
"You mean you don't know either!"
The President regained control: "Cut the crap guys. We're obviously in a situation where there are more questions than answers and soon I'll have to leave to greet the British Primeminister so we'll meet again at a later date. Okay?"
The office's door opened and the President's wife appeared: "You'd better hurry Bill, Tony's motorcade will be entering the grounds in two minutes ... Oh, Cleopatra, how lovely to see you after so long." The two women embraced and kissed. "Bill, why didn't you tell me that we had such a distinguished guest? Well now you're here I want you to stay. You haven't met Tony and Cherie, have you?"
As the two women walked arm-in-arm out of the office Binns glanced over her shoulder and grinned triumphantly at the scouring Baker.
NEW LABOUR, NEW TECHNOLOGY
"Well Tony, now we're on our own there's something I'd like to ask you ... strictly off the record, if you know what I mean."
"Fine with me, Bill."
"Listen ... do you watch Star Trek, the X Files ... all that paranormal science fiction stuff?"
"I have done but I don't really get much time for the TV these days."
"Ha, ha, nor do I but some people believe in all that, do you?"
"Well I don't believe that the stories are true to life and based on factual information but on the other hand ... well, who knows, either we are alone or we are not alone."
"Well put Tony I like that: either we are alone or we are not alone. If you don't mind I think I'll use that, is that okay?"
"Sure thing Bill, be my guest." The British Primeminister sipped from a glass of water and surprised since the President of the United States of America didn't seem to have anything serious to discuss cleared his throat and was going to raise his own agenda.
But the President continued along the same vague chatty theme: "You been to West Wales Tony, to a place called Pembrokeshire?"
"It so happens I was there last year, there was the Sea Empress oil supertanker environmental disaster ... if you remember?"
"I sure do Tony, I sure do. But that's not why I raised the subject. See the thing is we used to have a US Navy facility at a place in Pembrokeshire called Brawdy. Only closed a year or two ago but during the Cold War its job was to monitor the hydrophones we lay along the ocean floor at the approaches to the North Atlantic in order to keep under surveillance the movements of Soviet submarines as they left and returned to their bases at Murmansk.
"As you'll appreciate this operation required a high level of security. By comparing what we knew with the factual information the Soviets would know how efficient our detection systems really were. So we had CIA agents infiltrated amongst the base's US Navy personnel and no one, not even the base commander, would know who they were; probably wouldn't even suspect that such a low key covert operation was being undertaken."
"Makes you people sound a bit more sinister than the KGB!"
"Not really but people can get led astray, hey!" Bill nudged Tony and the two men shared a knowing smile. "Anyway, our man infiltrated the local drugs scene to check it out and by that mechanism made contact with a female scientist who was working at your nearby top secret subterranean research establishment at Trecwn." The President flashed a triumphant smile: "You didn't know we knew that Tony, did you?"
"I must admit that I haven't the foggiest idea about what you're talking about."
"Trecwn ... you claim it's just an ammunition store but we know its true designation."
"Well in that case you know more than me, I'll have to look into this later."
"No need I can tell you. Trecwn's been decommissioned, closed down. Which leads to the question: What became of the subterranean top secret laboratories? Have they been closed down too?"
"I simply don't know!"
"Must have been, mustn't they. In which case, where have they been relocated to? That's what I want to know."
"Assuming your scenario is correct, and I have no evidence to make a judgement on its truth or otherwise, would you mind sharing with me why you want to know?"
"It's what George Bush called the New World Order at the time of the Gulf War: USA number one and you Brits big in Europe. Number one in Europe if you play your cards right, we don't mind, we'd like you to be. America and Britain go back a long way, fought and won a lot of wars together but now you're messing all that up, you're holding back on us."
"Are we Bill?"
"Sure are Tony ... don't you think it's time you came clean? New administration, new start. The British people have seen sense, returned to their roots, and voted in you and your colleagues. But wouldn't it be best to make a clean breast of it all and come clean?"
"I'm sorry Bill, I don't understand what on Earth you could be talking about?"
"In that case we're going to have to trust each other. What I'm asking for is for the US Army to send in a team of experts to examine Trecwn from top to bottom. Secret operation, no publicity."
"What would you expect them to find?"
"Can't say Tony, can't say, but this is important enough for me to ask you this favour in the US national interest, and for the future peace and stability of mankind."
"How about if I make enquires of our Ministry of Defence when I return home and give you a ring?"
"So that everything can be removed that you don't want us to know about ... look Tony, how about if our team visits Trecwn to inspect the site for toxic waste; soil samples, test drillings, that sort of low key thing."
"In principle I'd like Britain to cooperate and so build on our special relationship but I do really need a reason."
Bill laughed: "Unidentified flying objects: seems like there's been considerable UFO activity over Pembrokeshire since the Second World War and we've got proof that the British government believes in UFOs since in the late 1970s a governmental agency known as the Wales' Tourist Board marketed UFO spotting holidays in the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park. The Pentagon assumes that anyway, they also have reason to believe that contact has been made with aliens of identity unknown. In order to preserve the New World Order we need to know what you know otherwise you've got an unfair technological advantage which could upset the status quo and initiate global conflict."
Tony was serious: "Bill, I'm not really happy with the drift of this conversation. If you believe in little green men then that is really your own concern but there really are more pressing matters to discuss. Such as the environment with regard to Britain's emissions of greenhouse gases, specifically carbondioxide emissions and the plans to import Orimulsion from Venezuela to be burned at Pembroke Power Station ... in the same part of the World, what a coincidence?"
Bill gripped Tony's knee and looked him straight in the eye: "You Brits are good at inventing things, but hopeless at developing them. Computers, jet engines, supersonic jet planes, Harrier jump jets, twin rotor helicopters, trains ... you name it you invented it ... but we developed it ... the tank, good example, military application of technology. The Pentagon believes you possess a piece of new technology and they want to develop it."
Tony was experiencing physical discomfort from Bill's grip of his knee and, given his reputation, found himself wondering what sort of bedroom games he got up to ... then forced himself to confront the issue: "You're saying that the Pentagon believes the Ministry of Defence know something which they are keeping secret from the political establishment?"
"Yes!" Tony winced in pain as Bill's grip instantly tightened: "Sorry Tony ... sometimes the sci-fi nuts come up with stories of the aliens taking over, infiltrating our institutions to the highest levels."
"The press do use science fiction analogies to poke fun at the opposition. One's described as a Vulcan after Mister Spock in Star Trek and their new leader is described as the Mekong after the character in the old Dan Dare stories ... and with Margaret Thatcher as Primeminister it was as if the whole country had been abducted by aliens! ... But Bill, I don't believe they are aliens in that respect, perhaps from humanity but not aliens from outer space."
"Perhaps they've been brainwashed then! Perhaps the aliens are taking over by reprogramming our mentality?"
The thought crossed Tony's mind that perhaps that wouldn't be a bad idea in Bill's case since by reputation he was rather weak on moral values; "But what would they possibly have to gain?"
"Power ... doesn't matter about anything else, whether they have a rational or irrational reason ... at the end of the day it's just about power."
Bullshit baffles brains and the British Primeminister decided to humour the President of the United States of America in order to find a way out of this cosmic maze: "How about a joint undercover team? Pentagon and MI5 too, in line with your suggestion to survey Trecwn for toxic waste?"
"Great thinking Tony, that will do nicely."
"Hmmm ... I was just wondering Bill, whether the United States would like to place an exhibit in my new Millennium Dome ..."
"I have never felt so humiliated in my entire life! That a professor of this establishment should publicly proclaim to be in communication with aliens from outer space!"
"I never said that."
"Then how do you explain this!" Dorothea Deakin, the Principal of Harvard University, flung down a copy of the Wales on Sunday newspaper on to her desk in front of a confused looking Cleopatra Binns.
Binns nudged it away from her: "I've already seen it. I don't know who they've been talking to but it wasn't me."
"Good God woman, in it you claim that aliens told you how to solve Einstein's unified field theory!"
"I ... I ...." Binns bit her tongue: her discussions with the President and General Baker, together with all that went with it, had been top secret and in the interests of national security not to be repeated to third parties; Binns was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea and knew it.
"You claim, and I quote, that aliens showed you how to make a new kind of computer and that enabled you to solve the theory." Deakin almost screamed: "If it wasn't all so unbelievable it would actually be funny! But it isn't even funny, it's stupid, it's so darned stupid. Don't you realise what you're doing, you're admitting to plagiarism!"
"I guess then that that must be why I wasn't given the Nobel Prize for my theory." Spat out Binns defiantly.
"So that's it, is it? All this is some kind of twisted revenge against the scientific establishment ... you must be even more stupid than you look!"
Binns seethed: "Because I don't dye my hair blonde like you and ... and because I don't have a white skin."
Deakin seemed to suddenly realise where the trading of insults was leading her and felt a shiver of fear along her spine: "I apologise, I shouldn't have ..."
"Shouldn't have what?"
Deakin regained self-control: "I really don't think there is any point in us pursuing this conversation. You know as well as me that the reason you didn't receive the Nobel Prize was because you made some rather outlandish predictions. If you had exercised a degree of self-control and published observations which were easily verifiable then I have no doubt that you would have been awarded the Nobel Prize by now."
Binns sulked: "So it's not because I'm short, fat, ugly and black."
Deakin beamed: "Of course not my dear but, remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, who knows ... why, you could walk out of this office and bump into a man to whom you'd be the girl of his dreams."
"Oh come off it, that's so corny, get real!"
After softening Binns up, Deakin attacked: "Perhaps you're the one who should get real. When you published your theory you claimed that it confirmed the fundamental instability of the Solar System. And the scientific community has been in turmoil ever since and God only knows what the socio-economic consequences have been."
Binns shrugged: "So ... the truth's the truth."
Deakin shook her head: "That's where you're wrong. I have a vision for this university. That it should contribute to bringing peace and stability to mankind."
Binns was sarcastic: "So that we all can live happy ever after."
"Yes, why not?"
"Because it ain't like that. We are the stuff of the stars. We human beings are only possible because of the previous evolutionary history of the Universe. If you think that that history has come to an end because we've been invented then you're the one who is stupid!"
"So you don't see much of a future for mankind then?"
"No, not unless we get off this planet."
"So your newspaper story is some kind of warning to raise the level of public consciousness?"
"I told you, that story's got nothing to do with me at all."
"Are you certain of that? After all, you claimed that 2001's total eclipse of the Sun in the South Atlantic will be annular. Do you still stand by that?"
"And if it isn't?"
"It will be."
"Yes, but if you're wrong?"
Binns got Deakin's drift: "Then it will disprove my theory about the fundamental instability of the Solar System and my solution to Einstein's unified field theory will be ..."
Deakin was sympathetic: "You're under a lot of pressure, aren't you?"
"That's the way I live my life. I like to feel the pressure, I like to live on the edge, it gives me a buzz."
Deakin interjected: "Instead of drugs?"
"I don't take drugs."
Deakin with deliberation put on her glasses and opened a file which lay on her desk: "At the age of twelve you had a drugs related criminal record which if you had been an adult would have meant a prison sentence of between twenty and thirty years."
Binns seethed: "But I wasn't, I was just a kid!"
"Admittedly yours was a tragic childhood. A father you never knew who died of a drugs overdose when you were a baby and a mother ... well a mother ..."
"You leave my family out of this!"
"Okay, let's cool it, let's try and be rational. Okay?"
Binns mumbled: "Okay;" she'd guessed what was coming next and it still deeply traumatised her.
"At the age of thirteen you were gang raped and hospitalised for six months. During your stay in hospital a transformation took place ... or shall we say a conversion ... a conversion on a par with Saint Paul's on the road to Damascus for ten years later you had solved the foremost obstacle in mathematics and theoretical physics. For you had obtained a solution to Einstein's unified field theory and ... well, at the end of the day that's why we're sitting here."
Binns was sitting hunched up with her face in her hands, sobbing deeply from the bottom of her lungs.
Deakin took off her glasses and walked around her desk, crouched down and put her arms around Binns: "Now, now, Cleopatra, you're safe now, everything is going to be all right. How about if we took a little holiday? You've been working too hard. Why not take a sabbatical?"
"I ... I ..." then she sobbed uncontrollably.
Deakin sighed: Binns was finished. She knew it, Binns knew it, the World knew it. Still it would be far from easy to find a replacement: Binns was head and shoulders above her contemporaries and was probably the university's most valuable asset in terms of attracting the best students and business sponsorship. But a line had been crossed and the university's credibility was at stake. As far as Deakin was concerned the choice was simple: the longterm future of the university or standing by Binns. She relented: "You know, you're worth your weight in gold to this institution ... it would be a pity to lose you but ..."
"Well help me then" Binns hissed and stared into her eyes.
"We would if we could but what can I say?"
Binns could see a glint in her eyes that seemed to betray the care and compassion of her voice and expression. "Well we'll see about that, I'm going to see the First Lady!" She spat out defiantly. The First Lady naturally held up Binns as a role model of redemption for inner city kids who'd been led astray and through her influence Binns had been made American Woman of the Year ... besides the Congressional Medal of Honour, plus assorted gongs from here, there and everywhere.
Deakin declined to rise to the bait: "Well I think we'd better leave it at that. In the meantime I've cancelled all your classes and tutorials until the university's internal board of inquiry reaches its findings. So you'll have time to take that holiday after all. I hear that Paris is nice in the spring!"
"Well why don't you go there then?"
"Oh I'm needed here. I'm much too busy to take a holiday."
"Too busy! What do you do? You're just a bureaucrat, a pen-pusher, all you do is get in the way of those of us who do the real work around here. Teaching the students and conducting research. You don't even know the difference between a pion and a muon! If a black-hole stared you in the face ..."
The familiar scrap between Deakin and Binns was erupting: Binns who believed that research and teaching should be paramount, Deakin who believed that everyone had to fit on the hierarchical ladder of the institution. At the end of the day it was about who was in charge: Deakin or Binns. At present it was Deakin but they both knew that Binns wanted to reverse that. Deakin had interrupted with an attack: "You're like a retrovirus contaminating the heart of this institution. Out of order you want to bring chaos, out of stability you want to produce anarchy."
Binns seethed: "If I'm a retrovirus then you're a cancer. You're a malignant growth sapping the inspiration that is the lifeblood of this institution in order to build your silly little empire and stifle free-thinking research. You're genetical, that's what you are. It's genetic; it's in your genes. Why don't you go back to Europe where they came from!"
Deakin responded cattily: "And I suppose your hairstyle means you're a native American?"
Deakin was referring to Binns' magnificent Mohican style hairstyle which was adorned with beads and dyed a variety of colours; Binns hissed: "Well if it's good enough for them, it's good enough for me!"
Deakin put on an air: "I think that there's no point in prolonging this meeting. It's served its purpose and until you receive further notification you're to stay away from the university's buildings and amenities."
"You mean I've been grounded?"
"Call it what you will but if you challenge this ruling ..."
"Challenge this ruling! You bet I will, I'm going to see the First Lady!"
"Well go and see her then. That will be all for now. Goodnight Miss Binns."
"And goodnight to you Mrs Deakin."
Deakin called in her secretary who escorted Binns out of the office suite and into the corridor. Binns walked steadfastly towards the exit when she realised that a man, who seemed to have appeared from nowhere, was walking besides her.
"Professor Cleopatra Binns?" He inquired.
"How may I help you?"
He took out his wallet flashing a badge of identity: "I'm CIA agent Tom Carter and I have to ask you to accompany me at once to an urgent meeting with General Baker."
Binns was disappointed: although middle-aged Carter was a tall handsome man with a powerful build; to Binns he looked a bit like her favourite filmstar Harrison Ford. She was sarcastic: "And you can't tell me what it's about because you don't know. But I do, so okay let's go."
Carter drove her in silence for about forty minutes. He'd tried to make small talk conversation but Binns was deep in thought and either ignored him or made monosyllabic answers. They passed through what was described as the entrance of a mental hospital, Carter explaining that the meeting was to take place in a secret US Air Force nuclear command centre bunker that was situated eighty feet below the hospital. They drove from the entrance to the hospital building then through the grounds to an annex. Binns politely thanked him for the ride and they parted on good terms. He watched as she walked towards the entrance and opened a door that closed behind her.
Carter congratulated himself on a job well done and drove home confident in the knowledge of a job well done. For Binns it was the beginning of a nightmare: she'd swapped one institution for another; but instead of being a university professor she was now a mental hospital inmate.
When Carter heard the breakfast news over a cup of coffee the following morning he heard that Professor Binns had voluntarily been admitted to a mental hospital; the university explaining that she had been experiencing hallucinations about aliens: the cause being put down to stress due to overwork and it was hoped that she would soon be able to recommence her responsibilities. Carter looked at his reflection in a mirror, his face ashen grey; he felt a knot in his stomach and a chill in his body like someone walking over his grave. He was part of something he didn't understand and which he didn't like and he felt used; ashamed to be what and who he was, and he'd never felt quite like that before.
After a few humiliating encounters with the ward staff which inevitably ended up in her being physically overpowered, trussed up in a strait-jacket in the padded cell and drugged up to her eyeballs, Binns decided to adopt a co-operative rather than confrontational strategy. She'd ascertained that she was in an assessment type situation and that her current behaviour would determine where she was sent next. To Binns there was a simple choice: confront and be lost in the black-hole of institutionalisation; cooperate and escape. The same dilemma she'd faced as a child criminal in the inner city. Only now she was being treated as if she were somehow a dissident. She'd no doubt that what had happened to her was because she was black. Deakin had been right, she was viewed as a retrovirus: a black retrovirus infiltrating a white World and bringing about cataclysmic change.
Binns had never thought of herself as a political figure before but her experience was telling her that she was important. She'd once read an article in Time magazine in which she was described as the most important black American since Martin Luther King. But King had been assassinated and she knew then that the plan wasn't just to incarcerate her in the gulag of American mental institutions, the plan was to destroy her and all that she stood for. She felt like she had been reborn: she was the political leader in the fight for black equality against white supremacy and was convinced of that fact. She knew that the name of the game for the foreseeable future was survival and then what ... she didn't know. But she was able to ascertain that there was a kind of safety on the ward.
Binns had had a stroke of luck; the Consultant who dealt with her case was black: "To be quite frank with you I don't understand why you're here."
"Neither do I," interjected Binns.
"If you'll hear me out?" Binns nodded her assent. "If you were a member of the public then the fact that you professed a belief in aliens wouldn't necessarily mean that I would pronounce you insane. But since you're internationally recognised to be a genuine genius, generally accepted as the greatest intellect since Albert Einstein, I wouldn't at all be surprised if there were an eccentric side to your personality. But, and please don't take this as an insult, you're so darned ordinary. So why did you voluntarily admit yourself to this institution?"
"I didn't. I was tricked. I ... Oh what the heck, I was supposed to meet someone important in the Pentagon here, in a nuclear bunker hidden beneath the asylum. So I'm crazy, aren't I?"
"So that explains your violent behaviour and you've since realised that the way out doesn't lie in that direction?" Binns was silent and avoided making eye contact. He placed his hand over hers, which were clasped on the table: "Don't worry sister, your enemies make us friends." Binns wiped a tear from her eye. He smiled: "I wish we could have met under different circumstances, you're my kids' hero, I'll do anything I can to help you."
Binns made eye contact: "Then help me escape."
His voice was low and earnest: "Tell me what to do and I'll do it if I can."
"I need to get a message to someone on the outside ... to the First Lady."
"I'll smuggle the message out for you but how will I get it to the First Lady?"
"Give it to Jesse Jackson, he told me a long time ago that if I got trouble due to my skin then to let him help me."
That evening the Consultant had Binns moved from the assessment ward to a long stay ward for patients of a non-violent nature and it was there that she met a man who claimed to have been the first man to walk on the Moon; and so heard the story of JJ the Astronaut and Lunar the Moon Woman.
A NOTE ON SPRINGTIME IN PARIS
Of course Binns didn't believe a word of it, especially since she'd actually met Neil Armstrong on a few occasions. But there was something scary about the story which she found confusing. There seemed to be a parallel in the idea of a common ancestor between mankind and the aliens as asserted by the story, which he'd posited as meaning that mankind's origins lay not on Earth, and the computer that the photographs of the wreckage from the alien spacecraft had led her to invent. Perhaps it was just the weirdness of the surroundings but she felt that these ideas were having an hallucinatory effect on her mind - similar to when she'd made the quantum leaps in scientific and mathematical thinking necessary to solve Einstein's unified field theory.
"I'm sorry, but the Reverend Jesse Jackson is out of the country at the moment."
"When will he be back?"
"He's in South Africa but is scheduled to return in ... in ten days from now."
"So I'm stuck here until then?"
"I'm afraid so, unless we can think of another plan. How are you feeling?"
"I feel ... I feel kind of light-headed. It's so bizarre here. While you were away I heard the life story of a man who claimed to be the first man on the Moon."
"Oh yes, I know who you mean. He used to work for NASA but had a nervous breakdown following the Challenger space shuttle disaster of 1986. Did he tell you about his erotic fantasies or did he just stick to the stories about aliens?"
"A bit of both. Do you know that until a couple of weeks ago ... it was top secret so I shouldn't really involve you, okay?" The Consultant nodded his understanding. "I'd never given any serious thought to the concept of alien lifeforms. As a scientist I wasn't prepared to rule out the possibility of there being similar planets to Earth orbiting around similar stars as the Sun in similar galaxies as our Milky Way scattered all around the Universe but ... well, the idea of aliens being here and now with us, as it were, is something I find deeply disturbing. Perhaps that's the wrong words, thought provoking might be a better way of putting it. Less emotional," she smiled.
"You're certainly by no means the odd one out. Your disappearance, if I can call it that, has led to a national debate in the media that the authorities are doing their best to calm down. The President has even addressed the nation live on television. He used an interesting expression to his words; he said something like: 'Either we're alone or we're not alone.' Personally, I thought that that wording somehow summed things up."
"Careful" she beamed "or you'll be locking yourself up ... Oh my God!"
There was an awful fear or anxiousness in her voice and the Consultant gripped her hands: "Tell me ... what is it?"
"I guess ... I guess I'm going crazy. I thought that the janitor I just saw passing along the corridor through that window was someone I knew. The man who brought me here: CIA agent Tom Carter."
The Consultant didn't bat an eyelid but broke eye contact and gazed blankly at the wall behind her. Binns realised that in this place she could trust no one, that this was some sort of human dustbin for those who shared the state's secrets but could no longer be trusted. And she was angry with herself: her tactical plan had led her deeper into the abyss.
Still, she was resilient and drew on that quality which was deeply embedded in her character: "I guess all of us here are living in our own little Worlds. Descartes said: 'I think, therefore I am;' and I guess that's especially true here."
"That's an observation which has more than a grain of truth in it."
She joked: "One man's poison is another man's wine."
He looked relieved: "I wouldn't quite put it like that. If you wanted I could give you some medication to calm your nerves rather than the placebos you're currently taking."
"No thanks Doc, I'll stick to the placebos. Anyway I need to keep a clear head. For as long as I'm here I might as well use the time productively. All I really need is pencil and paper together with a quiet corner."
He looked and sounded relieved: "That's a very positive attitude to take. What do you propose to do?"
"Carry on with my research. There's an area of theoretical physics which I've been meaning to investigate for sometime but I'm always too busy what with teaching and the research lines which are the university's main interests. It's about the relationship between quantum mechanics and classical physics. What's commonly known as Schrödinger's Cat."
"I'm afraid all that is beyond me. Do you need any books?"
She laughed: "In my little World I don't read books, I write them."
Binns soon became oblivious to her surroundings and absorbed into rehashing established understanding using insights gleaned from the application of the alien computer. Not that she could have programmed it as she would a digital computer. Not that she could have envisaged how to manufacture a functioning one, which was capable of being programmed. But the number base of its operation rather than being two seemed infinite and infinity excited her ... for mankind to leave the safehaven of Earth would require unimaginable leaps in understanding of science and technology. And, somehow, there seemed to be a relationship between Schrödinger's Cat and the alien computer, her understanding of both deepening in parallel.
As would sometimes happen a thought of a lateral nature entered her mind linking quantum mechanics with molecular biology. She stared blankly into the middle distance but her concentration was broken when she realised that Carter, in his disguise as a janitor, was coming in her direction as he busied himself around the ward. She pretended not to notice him, watching out of the corners of her eyes as he grew nearer and pretending to be busy with pen and paper. He passed a few feet from her, dropping a rolled up piece of paper, which he kicked in her direction.
She spoke at him in a low voice: "I realise you must think of yourself as a cross between Bruce Willis and Mel Gibson but if you think I'm going to pick up that piece of paper then you're wasting your time. I trusted you once and look what happened to me, I ended up here. But if you want to talk then take a seat, otherwise just disappear."
He picked up the piece of paper then sat opposite her, across the low table on which lay her assorted manuscripts and scribblings. "It's an escape plan," he whispered and held his hand towards her with the ball of paper hidden in the palm of his hand.
"Well, well, my, my, an escape plan, how original. I suppose I just jump on the back of your motorcycle and we head off into the Sunset and we live happy ever after. But running off with you doesn't interest me in the slightest. What interests me is my work and in order to continue with it I need my integrity to be re-established. So, thank you all the same, but I'll make my own arrangements, thank you. Get the message?"
"There isn't time."
"Isn't time, there's all the time in the World here. No one's going nowhere."
"You don't understand. Look I'm sorry I tricked you but I was just doing my job. I thought I did a good job because no one got hurt."
"No one got hurt! What about me, what about my hair?"
"That's why we've got to get you out of here."
She felt a shiver in her spine and asked cautiously: "Why?"
"Before they operate."
"They can't kill you so they'll immobilise you, your mental attributes will be permanently impaired. Instead of being a genius you'll be an idiot."
"But they didn't just shave my head."
He shrugged: "Both your mental and biological attributes will be permanently, irreparably, impaired. You'll be sterilised."
"I don't believe you, you're just trying to scare me so I'll go along with you and get shot trying to escape or something equally stupid."
"Whatever happens they won't kill you. You're too famous, too well known, with too many influential acquaintances to ask awkward questions. So instead they'll neutralise you. And no one, not even you, will be aware of what's happened to you. You'll just be a has-been with a glittering past and a dead end future."
"Why should you care?"
"When I brought you here I'd read an article in the Wales on Sunday and to me it seemed you'd gone beyond, miles beyond, what was permissible in terms of national security. I didn't like you anyway, you always came across to me as a very pompous, arrogant, type of person. Sort of person who didn't give a damn about anyone but herself."
"So what made you change your mind?"
"The next morning I heard on the radio that you'd voluntarily entered this mental institution. I knew that wasn't true so everything else wasn't so believable either. What I remembered was the first impression I had of you when you first became a national figure."
"But if you help me, what happens to you?"
"I'm accountable to the People of the Republic of the United States of America. I've been used and I know it. I don't know who is behind it all. But since you're black it's got to be political. Somewhere along the line a white supremacist nut or nuts has infiltrated our system of government and needs to be weeded out."
"But you're white."
"I can't force you to trust me but if you let me help you I will."
"Where would we go?"
"Deep into the mountains and lie low. There's a place I know where no one would ever find us and we could stay there for months if need be."
"Would you die or me?"
"I've got a gun and I wouldn't hesitate to use it."
To Binns the idea of disappearing into the Sunset with Carter had a certain basic appeal: "You mean you'd be my bodyguard?"
"You could say that."
"So you'd be Kevin Costner and I'd be Whitney Houston?"
"In real life people get hurt."
"I guess you and me must watch the same films but in Alien Three Sigourney Weaver had her hair shaved just like mine but it wasn't for operations but for lice! Before you interrupted me a crazy idea entered my head. Ever heard of quantum mechanics?"
"Imagine the Earth orbiting around the Sun. What do you visualise?"
"A picture of the Sun and Earth ... and I can see the Moon too, and stars in the background. The Earth's like a ... like a photograph, lots of clouds and blue colours. But the Sun's too bright too stare at, just a ... how am I doing?"
"My we do have a vivid imagination, don't we? Now you've visualised the Earth as a discrete entity, as an object; on the cosmic scale of things, a mere particle, and that representation is along the lines of classical mechanics. Now a representation in the quantum mechanics way of thinking would be ... let's let you do the thinking. What do you see now?"
"Still the same ... but there's this spaceship."
"No, it's one of ours. It's the space shuttle on its way to rendezvous with the Russian's Mir space station."
"Okay then, now what do you know about the orbit of the Earth around the Sun?"
"It takes three hundred and sixty-five days, three hundred and sixty-six days if it's a leap year ... but that it's not exact, there are slight discrepancies."
"Well we won't worry about them. Let's just say that the Earth orbits the Sun in a fixed period of time; three hundred and sixty-five days. Now what do you see?"
"I don't see anything."
"Do you see the Sun?"
"Yes ... it's coming to me now. But it's not like a photograph, it's not like it's real. It's like a drawing with the Sun as a small circle, just a dot really, and the Earth's orbit marked as a larger circle around it."
"So where's the Earth?"
"I don't know."
"But you said you could see its orbit?"
"But that's just its path around the Sun."
"We agreed it takes three hundred and sixty-five days so let's say that we can divide its orbit into three hundred and sixty-five segments or parts, where's the Earth now?"
"I ... I can see it, it's moving from segment to segment. The Sun's got bigger too and on the Earth I can make out the shapes of the continents as it rotates. But there aren't any clouds."
"So where's the Earth at any particular time?"
"At a ... in one of the segments."
"And what do you visualise now?"
"What I did at the beginning."
"Have the shuttle and Mir docked yet?"
"Yes and there are two astronauts making a spacewalk!"
"How do you know they're astronauts?"
"Well ... well they're not aliens, what else could they be?"
"Oh yes, that's right, one's an astronaut and the other's a cosmonaut. I can tell from the badges on their spacesuits."
"Right so you've visualised two pictures. One's like a photograph and the other's like an illustration, a drawing. If we dated your drawing-style illustration and then said in which one of the three hundred and sixty-five segments of the Earth's orbit that the Earth lay, what would that enable us to do?"
"Work out where it would be on any other day?"
"Precisely, so what concept have we introduced into the second visualisation that was absent in the first?"
"I don't know."
"But you just said it. You implied that the second illustration was a calendar, okay?"
"Now what concept does a calendar encapsulate?"
"The Concept of Time, like a watch ... only slower. No not slower, but on a larger scale. A watch measures time in seconds, minutes, hours. A calendar measures time in days, weeks, months, years even."
"My we are clever, aren't we, do I detect a brain? So you have discovered, between your ears, the Concept of Time. And who said there's only one thing men think about? Anyway, we could write a formula expressing in statistical terms the probability of where the Earth would be at any particular position, or segment, of its orbit. What would that probability be?"
"One over three hundred and sixty-five."
"Correct. So we have described the Earth's orbit in statistical terms, the probability of it being at a particular place at a particular time which is known in quantum mechanics as a wave function. To this end: you have visualised a classical mechanical interpretation as a photograph and a quantum mechanical interpretation as a diagram. Correct?"
"If you say so, I'm not really certain about any of this."
"Excellent, I am impressed, according to quantum theory you shouldn't be. You shouldn't be able to simultaneously quantify temporally and spatially. Which you've proved because when you observed the Earth in your photographic interpretation there was no information about the Concept of Time. But when you visualised your diagram of the Earth's orbit you incorporated the Concept of Time into it but there was no real-life-like photographic interpretation for you to tell me about. Incidentally, that's what we refer to as Heisenberg's uncertainty principle!
"Now you are made of cells, your body in its entirety, each cell has a nucleus and in each nucleus is your personalised DNA - that which makes you an unique human being in individualistic terms."
"Yours must be very special."
"That's besides the point. Now in your visualisation of the Earth in its orbit, where you visualised it as a tiny globe on which you could make out the continents and there were no clouds, remember?"
"Do you see anyone?"
"Now imagine that that person isn't flesh and blood but a formula describing the expression of that person's DNA."
"The DNA remains constant, or at least we think it does, throughout your lifetime; from the moment you are conceived until the moment you die. Then during that time the individual genes which make up the genetic code of the DNA are what we term: expressed. So the term expression, used in this context, implies a concept which we are familiar with."
"Excellent. I'll make a mathematical physicist out of you yet! Perhaps even a molecular biologist. So if you think of that person you've visualised, on the surface of the Earth orbiting the Sun, as a formula expressing that person's DNA riding piggy-back, as it were, on the back of the wave function describing the Earth's orbit then can you combine the two formulae?"
"I'm still thinking of the person I've visualised as flesh and blood but she's riding on something. Something like a musical roundabout ride at the funfair ... and she seems to be enjoying it!"
"Yes, but what happens to her each time the Earth moves forward a segment - each time the Earth complete an orbit?"
"She has a birthday?"
"Remember the Concept of Time?"
"She gets older?"
"Excellent. So as the Earth orbits the Sun so not only does the Earth get older but she does too. Raising the possibility of a relationship between the quantum mechanical formula describing the Earth's orbit and a formula, at present hypothetical, which expresses her genes."
"So if the Earth went backwards she'd get younger?"
"No, I'm afraid it doesn't work like that. If the Earth changed its direction and went round the wrong way she'd still get older. To get younger she'd have to violate entropy, the direction of the Arrow of Time; Faraday's second law of thermodynamics: a natural or manmade system can only degenerate over time, it can't regenerate."
"But say if the rate of expression slowed down - wouldn't she, you know, stay younger longer, not age so quick?"
"I'm impressed, you're not just a pretty face then."
"Neither are you."
"I must look awful, I was so proud of my hair, when I saw myself in the mirror I nearly died."
"I prefer the way you look now. I found the way you had your hair before intimidating."
"But I haven't got any hair now and since your mind is obviously wandering let's get back to expression rather than impression. If we were able to slow the rate of expression down ... something we are unable to do at present ... that would mean tampering with her DNA. Even if such a thing were possible to this extent, such tampering with her DNA would be horrendously dangerous and, somehow, you'd have to change the DNA in every cell of her body."
"Not if you started at the time of conception."
"If such a thing could be done then all she'd be is a guinea pig. What if parts of her foetus developed at different rates? Assuming if the foetus was able to develop at all then we're talking about non-viable babies with severe birth deformities. So since your attempts at being a molecular biologist have taken a Frankenstein-like direction let's go back to you being a theoretical physicist. Okay?"
"Fine by me."
"So we've established a relationship between the Earth orbiting the Sun and the rate of expression, or ageing, of her genes. But what we've also said is that the Earth ages. So we could incorporate into our wave function for the Earth orbiting around the Sun an ageing factor and what concept does that express?"
"Time ... the words time and expression mean the same thing, don't they?"
"Possibly, it certainly is an interesting idea. You know, it can be quite informative talking to someone who doesn't know anything."
"Thanks a lot."
"That man over there, looking out of the window ... see there are tears running down his face and he's staring at the Moon. Well he thinks his name is JJ the Astronaut and that it was him, and not Neil Armstrong, who was the first man to walk on the Moon."
"Yes I see him."
"Well he told me his life story. Totally crazy, but then I suppose he wouldn't be here if he wasn't, a mishmash of personality imbalances so he thinks of himself as machoman, irresistibly attractive to women and a hero, intelligent too even; and through his imagination he exercises his suppressed sexuality, his male fantasies. Bit like you really, thinks he's some sort of real life filmstar."
"Men's egos are much more fragile than women's, don't you think?"
"But what has this got to do with mathematical physics or whatever it is we're talking about?"
"So you're not interested in his erotic fantasies about black women?"
"Are you saying that there is a relationship between erotic fantasies and the Concept of Time?"
"Very good ... well there has to be, doesn't there. After all the life experience of a middle-aged man is much greater than that of a young man."
"Does the same logic apply to women?"
"Anyway, he came up with this idea that the mythical man in the Moon wasn't a man but a woman. An alien woman with whom, of course, he mates with. But that's besides the point. He claims, as part of his story, that the aliens and us human beings both had a common ancestor, meaning that mankind may not be of this Earth."
"So we're not descended from monkeys? So he's a creationist rather than an evolutionist?"
"Very good ... although creation would have applied to Earth, the evolution would have occurred elsewhere, on another planet somewhere in the Universe. For instance, the discovery in Antarctica of a Martian meteorite which contains evidence of primitive Life on Mars raises the intriguing, if remote, possibility that Life on Earth was seeded from Mars."
"So we're really Martians rather than Earthlings!"
"In your case something really weird like deep space or the Moon even, but the point is that such a discovery expands the realms of possibilities that we are able to consider: now we can even think of a meteorite from Earth seeding Mars, so that once Life develops somewhere within the Solar System we have a mechanism which enables it to colonise throughout the Solar System. And also, of course, does such a mechanism enable Life to travel between solar systems?"
"Okay, but we weren't really considering microbes we were thinking about people."
"True, point taken. But we've determined a relationship between the Earth ageing and the expression of our genes. So does that mean we have to originate on Earth or could we be originally from somewhere else?"
"I suppose ... perhaps both possibilities could be feasible. After all one day we're supposed to colonise space which presumably means we'll inhabit other planets besides our own."
"But what about the relationship between a woman's menstrual cycle and the duration of the Moon's orbit around the Earth?"
"I don't know. Either it means we're from Earth or could it be a coincidence?"
"Is it a coincidence that both the Sun and the Moon have more or less the same apparent physical size when viewed from Earth? The thing is, what this makes possible is a total eclipse of the Sun. If the Moon were too small at best we'd see an annular eclipse with the Sun's perimeter visible, if the Moon were too big we wouldn't be able to view the Sun's corona. It certainly is a remarkable coincidence."
"Well, who knows, we certainly don't. It was nice talking to you but now if you don't mind I'd like to take a nap. These drugs they give us make me sleepy;" she exaggeratedly yawned.
"So you won't let me help you?"
"I didn't say that. One way of looking at my job is that it's all about communicating with other people, sharing ideas, using each other to sound out ideas, so that we can increase the sum total of human knowledge. You say you have a gun well, I was thinking, if you can smuggle a gun in here then how about a mobile phone?"
Carter felt bemused: he'd thought that she'd be over the Moon, grateful to him, in accepting his offer to help her escape. Yet now she wasn't contemplating escape she just wanted to keep in touch with the scientific community via a mobile phone. Or at least that's what he found himself thinking but he wasn't fooled for a moment though; and since he found himself trusting her it was him who felt grateful to her for this opportunity to ennoble himself: "I'll see what I can do, but it might take a few days."
"Don't worry I'll still be here ... see you Carter."
When Carter had disappeared out of sight JJ the Astronaut sneaked over and sat down in his place: "She's really down tonight," he sniffed.
"How do you know that this isn't just one of your dream sequences, that tomorrow you'll wake up and it will all be a bad dream?"
"You don't believe me do you?"
"Well how do you know that I'm not just a figment of your imagination, just a character in one of your dreams?"
"With my dream ..." He stood up and slowly walked away adding: "I don't think it was really like I remembered it." Then he turned and shouted at her: "It was the accountants' fault! They said we couldn't delay the launching or we'd go over budget." Then he put his hand over his mouth and ran off.
Meanwhile back at the Pentagon a meeting took place later that night. General Baker was edgy: "She asked for what?"
"A mobile phone," repeated Carter.
"The bitch ... why is it that she always does the unexpected?"
"Because she's more intelligent than you?" Ventured the Consultant.
"She is, I've no doubt of that. I don't like this game. I thought we could just dump her and be in the clear. But the shit is about to hit the fan, I can feel it, I can smell it and by God I can taste it too!"
"And I don't like being used," murmured Carter. "You can't just dump people in mental institutions because you don't like the colour of their skin!"
Baker seemed to jump in his chair and his face looked panicky as he realised what the accusations of his conduct towards Binns could lead to: "It wasn't like that guys. We had to know ... I can't tell you, it's top secret"
"Top secret my arse, you've screwed up and now you're going to get screwed!" Sneered Carter.
That Carter wasn't afraid of belittling him doubly brought home the serious nature of his exposed position: "Okay, the woman's a genius and we've handled this badly but we can't let her be in charge of a project of this potential magnitude."
"Why not?" Asked Carter not that he knew what Baker was rambling on about.
"Because ... because we don't know what she knows, all we really know is that she knows something we don't know but that we'd like to know, that we want to know, that we got to know, that to maintain the New World Order we have to in order to keep our technological edge."
"Is it to do with quantum mechanics?" Asked Carter.
"A calendar is a kind of computer so there does exist a relationship between computers and quantum mechanics due to the Concept of Time."
"Sort of that's it, analog computers, not digital computers ... Who the hell have you been talking to?"
"Well the obvious solution," urged the Consultant, "is to set up a project funded by the Pentagon and put her in charge of it. That way she'll report directly to you."
Baker who'd stared at the Consultant with his face a fixed grimace suddenly exploded into a smile: "Guys, I detect a conspiracy here, a conspiracy against this country's foremost intellect whose continued existence is essential for us to maintain the New World Order by maintaining the United States' technological lead. Gentlemen, we've been led astray here. We all know where our true loyalties lie and they lie with the People of the Republic of the United States of America, and not in petty power struggles in one of our institutions; not even one as revered as Harvard University.
"In short, Harvard had no right to suspend Professor Binns without giving her a fair hearing first. As it is Professor Binns is victim of a kangaroo court, a lynch mob as vicious as any that was known in the dark days of legalised racism. There are malevolent influences at Harvard which need to be weeded out ... am I going too far, or is that more or less it?"
"I think we're on the right track," confirmed the Consultant.
"But wasn't it the Pentagon that sold all that nonsense about aliens to the Wales on Sunday?" Intervened Carter.
"Trouble is guys, strictly off the record, it's not nonsense. And that's why we need Binns, she's the only one of us smart enough to figure them out."
The three of them were deep in silence when the Consultant came up with an idea: "What we need is a scapegoat, pin it all down on one individual."
"Yes!" Hissed Baker. "We'll use the same trick on them that we used on Binns, another World exclusive for the Wales on Sunday. But, wait a minute, who tells Binns? That's not a job I'd particularly relish, and that's putting it mildly."
"There's the letter she gave me for the First Lady?"
"Yes! The First Lady can be the hero, Binns the victim and the Wales on Sunday has its World exclusive."
"All we need now is an individual at Harvard to be the scapegoat," ventured the Consultant.
"Yes! We'll make Deakin, the principal of Harvard, the scapegoat on the grounds that she victimised Binns on racial grounds by not giving her a fair hearing and, yes, by giving way to petty prejudices put national security at risk. Excellent, gentlemen, and with the First Lady a national hero, Harvard riddled with racism and national security on the line, the President will be grateful to the Pentagon and buy our nomination for the new principal of Harvard: Professor Binns!"
THE ALIEN TEST
The meeting to consider the findings of the Trecwn investigation duly took place in the Oval Office of the White House with only three people present: the President, General Baker and Professor Binns.
"So we've drawn a blank," said the President.
"I'm afraid the Pentagon has to agree," added Baker.
"The reason I asked for this meeting to be deferred is because we at Harvard haven't. The survey of radioactive isotopes revealed some intriguing data which I must say I am surprised that the Pentagon didn't pick up on." Baker made a face. "Especially since it provides significant evidence that Trecwn could be interpreted as an enrichment facility for nuclear weapons grade fissile material."
"Mister President ..." blurted a shocked Baker.
"But hang on the levels are too low, just barely detectable with our current technology, and if the British had such a facility at this location then the levels would be far higher, in line with previously established data."
"So?" Chirped Baker.
"Do I have to spell it out to you?" Smirked Binns.
Baker looked confused and the President interjected: "What you're saying is that the radiation detected is not naturally occurring and couldn't have been human in origin?"
"Aliens!" Blurted Baker.
"Perhaps. The reason we took so long is because we had to rewrite the software to perform a sufficiently detailed computerised analysis of the radioactive survey of Trecwn. Now if we look at the plan of the facility," a map lay on the President's desk and Binns pointed with her finger at one of the subterranean tunnels. "This is where we believe the alien spaceship was stored."
"So where is it now?" Sighed the President. "Either the British are telling the truth or they are lying."
"Bets on the last one!" Sneered Baker.
"Perhaps someone stole it, I mean they could have tunnelled their way in and out," suggested the President.
"No evidence" said Baker, "according to the Brits it just disappeared."
"Or was it spirited away?" Both men looked incredulously at Binns. "If you recall I told you where the spaceship was stored, in which tunnel, you never told me."
The President and Baker looked at each other, the President asking: "How did you work that out?"
"From the radioactive isotope survey and our computerised analysis of the data. We found a hotspot which suggested where it had been stored. But not just one hotspot, two. The term hotspot is an exaggeration but I have a theory as to what happened to the alien spacecraft and that it was ... well, was simply that, spirited away."
"By aliens." Sneered Baker.
"Yes," said Binns. "You have to remember that the term spaceship is rather an exaggeration, we're only talking about something the size of a large family car. Obviously, a vehicle to be used for journeys of a finite duration to and fro from a base or mothership. But with some sort of extremely sophisticated nuclear engine which we have detected with our radioactive survey."
"But you said two hotspots?" Interjected the President.
"One hotspot would account for where the spaceship was stored, the other isn't as strong and it's a lot weaker in fact, and we have reached a point where conjecture is fact or mere speculation. The question is: Are the Brits lying or telling the truth? Now if they are lying then the spaceship is still in their hands and it's a job for Baker. But if they're telling the truth then it's a job for me."
"Okay, General Baker will look after his end so let's give the Brits the benefit of the doubt and assume they're telling the truth"
"It's simple really. Our consciousness enables us to think in terms of past, present and future. Only a short while ago we based our plans for the future on a condition: the condition being that the alien spacecraft was still in Trecwn. So perhaps it still is."
"So I was right all along," sneered Baker, "the Brits are lying."
Binns sighed and the President gave her an encouraging smile murmuring: "Go on." Binns closed her eyelids and slightly bowed her head then eyeballed him; then verbally expressed the thought which had crossed both their minds: "If Baker wasn't here no one would know anything at all about what had passed between us once this meeting was over. For instance, we could invent a story which was very far removed from the truth and the possibility has occurred to me that that is what the aliens are doing right now.
"We're basing our thoughts, our strategy for the future, on the thoughts which are being placed in our minds by the concrete facts. But what if the facts are more abstract: more related to their understanding of reality than ours?"
"You mean we're being fed disinformation?" Blurted Baker eagerly.
"Mmmm ... I suppose that's something that you in the Pentagon are very good at?"
"Well anything that saves the lives of even one of our people is a strategy worth employing."
"But the question is: Who told the aliens?"
The President butted in: "Who told the aliens? I don't get your meaning."
"If the aliens are supplying us with disinformation then they must be aware of our plans."
The President suggested: "Coincidence? "
"Hell no," blurted Baker, "there's been a breach of national security and it must be ..." He stared at the President and Binns then at the table.
Binns completed his sentence: "In the Pentagon. If it were the President then he wouldn't have pursued this matter with the British Primeminister. It can't be me because I wouldn't be helping you. So it has to be you!"
"Or you, perhaps you're a double agent?" Snapped Baker half-heartedly.
Binns' face expanded into a broad smile: "I can prove it's not you if you let me."
Baker felt uneasy: "How?"
"Ever seen Basic Instinct starring Sharon Stone?" Binns slowly flicked in turn each of her left hand's sharpened finger nails with her thumb nail, then drew fingers and thumb back like a talon: "Well we're the female and male of the same species so we are able to breed. In which case if I fondled your parts there should be an easily observable reaction." Baker winced as the talon instantly closed.
"Mister President I strongly object to this line of inquiry ... after all I am a happily married man with five grown up children, twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren."
The President leaned back in his chair and loosened his tie: "Professor Binns I feel I must side with General Baker in this matter simply if for the sake of decorum and out of respect for the high office he holds but, and purely in the interests of the national security you understand, if you wish to clear me then I'll acquiesce to your scrutiny."
Baker ejaculated: "Me too! Strictly to the strict understanding that the Pentagon is supporting the Presidency in this matter."
"Too late, you can't have a second bite at the cherry."
"But I didn't get a first bite," pleaded the President.
"Your reputation as a ladies man is well known Mister President so I'm certain you'd pass with flying colours. As for General Baker, well ... well if his wife is human then he obviously is too,"
The president gave a wry smile: "Too bad." Then seriously: "But there still remains the possibility of a grave security problem."
"I know," blurted Baker, "let's test Agent Carter! He led the team at Trecwn and is the CIA case officer for this project."
Binns changed the subject: "Anyway it doesn't really matter, what's important is to find the alien spacecraft. If we were to upgrade our level of consciousness then we could have multiple pasts and futures.
"For instance, if the aliens got wind that the Pentagon were to visit Trecwn in order to remove their spaceship then they might be able to remove it to a position of safety in the future."
"So could the Brits," said the President.
"No, you misunderstand my meaning. If they were capable of time travel they could transmit the spacecraft from the past to the future leaving out the present."
"Leaving out the present ... you mean it's as if it is at this moment in transit?"
"Yes. What I'm proposing is that they somehow gained entry into the tunnels with another vehicle which enabled them to transmit the crippled vehicle to a safe location in the future, so accounting for the two hotspots located by our radioactive survey."
"Mister President, the strategic importance of this new technology for the battlefield of tomorrow ..."
"Presumably the reason why they are trying to hide it from us! For instance if they, on learning our plans, went into the future where Trecwn was decommissioned and so no longer a defence establishment they may have been able to enter the tunnels and set up their time machine apparatus near to the location of the spacecraft. Then gone back in time and brought it back into the future to be physically relocated elsewhere."
The President asked: "But why were they content to let the Brits have it?"
"Who said they were? But the spacecraft came into the Brits' possession during the Second World War in an active theatre of war. Pembrokeshire with its port of Milford Haven and airfields was an important base in fighting the Battle of the Atlantic. What seems to have happened is that it was initially catalogued as one of Hitler's secret weapons and put into safe storage at Trecwn then forgotten by the military establishment."
"What a waste, if only we'd had this technology for Vietnam." Groaned Baker.
Binns was patronising: "It wouldn't have been much use to you, I was only a kid then."
The President was incredulous: "Forgotten!!?"
"Apparently so," shrugged Binns. "But perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised when you consider that a certain William Frost of Saundersfoot, in Pembrokeshire, filed a patent for the aeroplane with the British government in 1894. And actually made the first powered flight eight years before the Wright brothers in 1895." The others expressed their astonishment and Binns condescendingly explained: "The problem with the Brits is their anachronistic class system, it emasculates their communal intelligence and creates a hierarchical based mentality where commonsense becomes subservient to dogma, such as at the time of the American War of Independence in 1776. A bit like the Pentagon really, the higher rank one has then the more the ability of one to bend the truth resulting in what I suppose one could describe as rule by ranker!"
Binns paused and smiled nicely at Baker then continued: "Anyway we're digressing, but back to business ... If we're on the right track then we're thinking about time travel encompassing a few years or even months. We know absolutely nothing about time travel but a safe assumption might be that there is a relationship between energy expended and elapsed time; in the same way that the distance that a vehicle can travel depends on its energy source. Also, larger scale time travel might be non-viable over thousands of years given that the geography of a terrain could change and rematerialisation could be terminal, along the lines of reappearing in solid rock."
"So does that explain fossils!" Joked Baker.
Binns and the President ignored him; she continued: "So the question we need to ask is: Do they know something we don't know? Now Trecwn is to be sold to a private developer which means it could exist to all intents and purposes indefinitely. But what if we were to play the same trick on them that they are playing on us? Okay, Trecwn gets sold off but what if we announce in the local press that the tunnels are to be demolished first?"
"That's right," urged Baker: "So when they rematerialised they'll be ... I can't think of the right word."
"I believe murdered would probably fit but your plan would mean the spacecraft would be lost too and, obviously, we don't want that. No, they believe our story that the tunnels are to be demolished. So they go into the future and rescue their spacecraft."
"But that would mean they don't know yet, that they haven't deduced their plan of action yet," wondered the President.
"So there's no security breach," hissed Baker. "Because they'll read about it in the Western Telegraph newspaper like everybody else."
"Which means they're living in the community," sneered Binns. "And if I'd told you that at the beginning would you have believed me?"
"So let's get this right," observed the President: "If the Brits are telling the truth then there are aliens living in Britain at Pembrokeshire in West Wales."
The trap was laid and a news report appeared in the local press that the tunnels at Trecwn were to be demolished within the next twelve months. The decommissioned site appeared to be deserted but in reality was the subject of a blanket covert intelligence operation, the plan being to let the aliens in and then apprehend them on the way out together with their spacecraft and the added bonus of a time machine. But this, of course, was all speculation on primarily Binns' part and although the President was able to take a matter-of-fact casual attitude to it Baker was deeply troubled. Deeply troubled since although Binns was the brains behind the scheme the Pentagon was in charge of what, after all, could be merely a hare-brained wild-goose chase with the idiot in charge being Baker. So Baker hedged his bets and to counter the worry of a breach of security no one involved previously with Trecwn was now involved, or even knew, of the continuing operation which left Carter free to be used as a weapon in his continuing war with Binns. So once a few months had passed and everything had settled down he sent Carter to Binns for his alien test. Carter made contact by attending a public lecture on analog computing that she was giving (the President having invited Binns to design the United States' exhibit for Britain's new Millennium Dome).
INTRODUCTION TO ANALOG COMPUTING
"We tend to think of computers as either mainframes or networked desktop computers. But these are all digital computers and we tend to ignore the fact that there is another class of computer known as analog computers. Since the 1960s research and development work has concentrated on digital computers and analog computers have been practically neglected. Until now and this paper is designed to give you a start at being on the leading edge of the future of computing.
"To begin we have to start at the beginning, literally we have to go back to the future, to Stonehenge which is nowadays generally considered to have been built as an astronomical observatory, or to our new way of thinking as an analog computer. A computer which has lasted for thousands of years and built from stone with the software imbedded into its design. So there are no moving parts, no power supply and the programming has been running non-stop, continuously, without crashing.
"The essential point to grasp being that what has been incorporated, imbedded, into the design are the Laws of Nature; of physics and mathematics. Hence, the grandiose claim that you are in a position to be the future of computing since digital computers use the laws of logic; of ones and zeros. You have access to the modern understanding of mathematics and physics, you can design your analog computers to work to principles infinitely more powerful than that on which the digital computer is based.
"But wait a minute, aren't we in a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation here? With the modern understanding of physics and mathematics it is theoretically possible that you could design Stonehenge from scratch. But what if you didn't have that knowledge? Which is the situation in which the builders of Stonehenge were presumably in. So they build a computer which enables them to predict astronomical events but which in its very design incorporates the Laws of Nature which are known to you but not to them.
"So how was it built? And what we're really asking is: How was it designed? Perhaps not just Stonehenge but the school of thought to which the builders of Stonehenge belonged. What was their starting-point? Astronomical observations. Purpose of Stonehenge? Prediction of astronomical events. Method? Replication by Stonehenge of the inner workings of the Universe.
"So Stonehenge (or the school of thought that Stonehenge represents) wasn't built from scratch but grew as their knowledge grew and just as we build bigger and better computers (not just mainframes, think of all the desktops interconnected via the Internet) so did they. Did they build bigger to test out new theories? To further their research? Meaning: did they gain an understanding similar to our own of the laws of the Universe through their computer technology? Well, perhaps you ought to build Stonehenge and find out.
"Build Stonehenge you say, you must be joking. Okay, we'll try something less grandiose, simpler perhaps or is it? Your task is to build an analog computer which will automatically compute the shortest path which connects a set of points. How many points? Entirely up to you. But to set you off let's say ten. So what you're going to need is a flat piece of wood, ten nails and a length of string. Do you call that construction kit a computer? But build it first before you judge it. So hammer your nails into the board as a random pattern. Visualise it, try and visualise Binns' Analog Computer as you study this and I'll tell you why later.
"Next tie a loop in one end of the length of string and place it over a nail which has no other nail between it and the edge of the wooden board closest to it. Now run the string around all the nails and back to our start-point tightening it so that all the nails are encompassed. Then pull the string inward so that it is tensioned by each and every nail. And then you have the shortest path length it takes to connect all twenty nails. Twenty? No ten, but no matter how many nails you want to try our analog computer will still do the business. Its program will never crash. It doesn't need a power supply and its components ... well, if it got inadvertently destroyed you could easily build a new one and perhaps improve it from other materials.
"If you want to be fancy about it place a map over the wood and hammer the nails into selected place names. It will still work, but as the crow flies, of course! And now we're in a position to challenge Bill Gates of Microsoft to a duel! We'll up the stakes to a hundred cities and with our analog computer we'll challenge his fastest digital computer. Draw! Too late Bill, for although it's only taken us a matter of seconds to solve what is known in the business as the Travelling Salesman problem it's going to take Bill, believe it or not, billions of years.
"Now if you wanted to you could use this strategy to write a program for a digital computer using the strategy built into our little analog computer and the essential sequence of steps are as follows:
"Step one: Consider your set of nails to be a field of points and then place them within the positive x and y quadrant of Cartesian axes to define a frame of reference.
"Step two: Each point will have both an x and y coordinate so find the limit points of the field and there are four defined by: the smallest value of x, the smallest value of y, the largest value of x and the largest value of y.
"Step three: Now what our limit points tell us are the coordinates of four points which define the corners of a rectangle which will encompass our field of points. Defined by: smallest x and smallest y, smallest x and largest y, largest x and smallest y, largest x and largest y.
"Step four: You now automatically have the coordinates of the centre of the rectangle: midway between smallest and largest x, and smallest and largest y.
"Step five: Find which one of your field of points is closest to the centre of the rectangle. This we shall define as our start-point.
"Step six: Change the coordinates of each point from Cartesian to Polar so that each point is now defined by its distance from the origin of the Cartesian axes and by the angle that a vector of the distance, the line joining the origin to the point, makes with the x axis.
"Step seven: Decide on a clockwise or anti-clockwise pathfinding direction.
"Step eight: Beginning at the start-point select the next point, in terms of the value of its angle.
"Step nine: Continue until all points are charted remembering that all angle values have been defined in terms of a single quadrant of a Cartesian frame of reference and two or more points could have the same value so you'll have to put your thinking cap on!
"Step ten: Join the last point charted, the end-point, to the start-point.
"But what is the strategy we're using? And this is where our analog computer is starting to score over its silicon cousin. It's using trigonometry: built into it are the laws of trigonometry. Analog computing technology can incorporate any mathematical system, any of the Laws of Nature. The whole World's like an analog computer and even manmade things like an economy. The essential law of economics is a free market: if things are in short supply they're expensive, if they're in abundance then cheap.
"So how do we build an analog computer that incorporates other systems than trigonometry? That's for you to find out and so surf on the leading edge of computing's future. But our little analog computer operates in two dimensions, can you make one for three dimensions and if you could make one for four dimensions would you have a time machine?
"Was Stonehenge built to be a time machine? A computer whose program never crashes certainly has a timeless quality but perhaps you'll be the one to figure all that out, the job of this paper being to point you on your way.
"Now it's interesting but when we used our analog computer we started with a nail, a point, on the periphery of our wooden board. Yet when we transferred the methodology to a digital computer we began at the centre. Why?
"Perhaps there's an analogy here between the way in which Stonehenge is constructed, circular shapes of standing stones, and networking desktop digitals. What would happen if you put a length of string around your model of Stonehenge and operated it as you did previously with our little analog computer? If networking desktop digitals then, even if it's only an illusion, it's like you are at the Centre of the Universe. And what if Stonehenge is really like an ultra- small-scale model of the Cosmos?
"Are we with digital computers on the inside looking out and with an analog computer on the outside looking in? Because what's in-built is the philosophy which we are imbedding in the design of our computer.
"Enough of speculation, by all means you carry on and surf the leading edge, but what are we going to do with our analog computer? We've already hit on one application: as a means, a methodology, for programming a digital computer. But if we remember our history then digital computers are used for games so can we use our analog computer likewise?
"I've thought of a game using our analog computing techniques and it's called European Union Air Navigator. To play it you'll need a map of the European Union, a ruler, a protractor, two dice and a pack of playing cards. And a set of rules which go like this - but, remember, you can make up your own game with your own set of rules if you so wish.
"Choose thirteen major European cities with airports. Why thirteen? Well there are thirteen playing cards belonging to each of the four suits in a pack of playing cards. So the game is for up to four players and you can assign one of the thirteen cards to each city. Take it in turns to throw the dice: the one with the highest (or lowest if you like) score starts and you go around clockwise (or anti-clockwise if you like).
"So it's your turn and you throw the dice. There are two dice, with two different colours. One dice decides how far you are able to travel, so you'll need to determine a scale for your map with six as the maximum distance between any two airports and one as the minimum. The other dice determines direction, say: one - north, two - south, three - east, four - west, five - any direction, six - fogbound so miss a turn.
"Now with the navigational information from the two dice we use the protractor and ruler to determine which airports are in range and select one to land on. Everytime you land on a city you pick up a card which is unique to that city and the one who gets a complete set first wins. You'll have to sort out what to do about your start-point airport, perhaps if you land on an airport someone is already at then they miss a go ... what the heck, just make it up as you go along!"
SOME SORT OF PSYCHOPATH
Binns had noticed Carter in the audience and had drawn the lecture to a premature close anxious to hear if there had been any developments at Trecwn. When she managed to break away from the post lecture formalities she drove straight back to her apartment in her car followed by Carter in his; explaining that they'd talk at her place. In the apartment they sat in the lounge opposite each other in easy chairs with a coffee table in between; over the open hearth fireplace was hung a large framed photograph of Binns with Nelson Mandela and his estranged wife Winnie - the Statue of Liberty dominating the background.
"Were you expecting me?" Asked Carter.
"Perhaps, but then it didn't have to be you."
"I'm not certain how to put this."
"Just stick to the facts."
"General Baker sent me."
"What are you going to do to me?"
"Do to you?"
"When you test me."
"Test you for what?"
"For being an alien."
Such was the look of concern and anxiousness on Carter's face that Binns burst into laughter. When she eventually regained control she realised that Carter was standing over her with his gun, held in two hands, pointed at her.
"How did you know?" He demanded.
"Know what? Look Carter there's been a mistake here, I thought you'd been sent to tell me some information not for ... not for an alien test!"
She again burst into uncontrollable laughter and when she regained control this time Carter had resumed his seat and reholstered his gun.
"You are touchy, aren't you!" Laughed Binns.
"I don't ..."
"You don't like people laughing at you. Well never mind, neither do I. Anyway, well you're here for an alien test and I thought you'd come here to tell me something. Did General Baker tell you to tell me something or is this some sort of game you're playing?"
"What did you think I'd come to tell you?"
There was a sinister tone in his voice which made Binns feel uneasy but she knew the rules: "That's for me to know and for you to find out."
"So the case wasn't closed after all?"
"Careful Carter, that's a dangerous line of thought you're following."
"But that's what it's all about, isn't it? You've caught some of them and you know how to differentiate between them and humans?"
"Well it's not difficult, is it? After all they're short, green and with an antenna sticking out of their head!"
"They told me the case was closed."
"You told me that you were escorting me to a top secret airforce control centre."
"I'm sorry about that and if I was able to I'd like to make it up to you. How about dinner?"
Binns was angry: "After what was done to me because of you! Look at my hair, I'll never be able to grow it back the way it was. And according to you dinner makes it all okay."
"I prefer the way your hair is now. It makes you look more homely."
"It makes me look older."
"It makes you look your age."
"You realise that you were going to shoot me because you thought that I thought you were an alien."
"I was afraid you may have made allegations against me to get even. Since Trecwn I've been stuck behind a desk."
"So you admit it was your fault?"
"Yes, of course."
"To be quite frank with you Carter I don't really want to get involved. Nothing personal but I'm always so busy and I doubt if we've got much in common anyway."
"I liked your lecture, perhaps we could play one of those games you talked about?"
"You're good at games, so why should I interest you?"
"I like you."
"Lots of men like me. When you're rich, famous, and ... well, what the heck, it makes up for other more obvious deficiencies."
"Oh Carter you're so corny, if only you could hear yourself. Anyway, a handsome guy like you shouldn't find it too difficult to get fixed up."
"I'm ... I'm not like that. I need someone I can relate to."
"And you can relate to me?"
"Yes, I think I can."
"Yeah well as I said, I'm much too busy for a serious relationship."
"Perhaps we could just be friends then."
"Carter I don't think you understand. You and I live in different Worlds. And I'm simply not in the slightest bit interested in you or the strange little World that you live in."
"Nor am I, I want to live in your World with you."
Binns was shocked and taken aback by his admission: "What are you saying?"
"That I love you, will you marry me?"
"I think it's time you left. I find it hard to believe that General Baker sent you here so that you could ask me to marry you."
"In that case it's better you leave. You know lots of guys ask me to marry them, they do it by post, I get mail from all over the World. Mail from guys like you I call my sex mail and my office bins it, then there's my hate mail from people who don't like me and would like to get rid of me and that gets binned too. Then there's what I call my love mail, from kids all over the World and they get sent an information pack. Right now we're making up an information pack about analog computers so that kids all over the World, even if they're living in a famine stricken African village, can have their very own computer. But that's besides the point and, don't worry, I won't mention what you said to anyone."
"So I take it you're saying no?"
"I've forgotten you ever asked me." A thought suddenly clicked in Binns' mind: that General Baker hadn't sent Carter, he was here of his own volition. She suddenly felt a shiver down her spine as she realised that she was absolutely alone with an armed man who seemed to have a fixation, an obsession, about her. She asked softly: "Perhaps I remind you of someone?" And smiled encouragingly.
"She was Vietnamese, I met her in the war."
"I was in the Green Berets and I'd promised her I'd take her back with me to America as my wife. Then I got captured on a mission behind enemy lines and spent six months as a prisoner of war before I could escape. She was all that kept me going, the thought of getting back to her. Then I escaped and somehow made it back; don't know how, it was like I didn't need nothing but her."
"Did you find her?"
"We returned to the states as man and wife and had a couple of kids. One morning she was driving the kids to school, they were quarrelling in the back of the car, she was late, always late, in too much of a hurry, took her attention off the road, took her attention away and ... well they were all killed instantly by a lorry."
"Must be a long time ago now, all of ten years."
A long uneasy silence commenced with Binns being in no doubt that she was alone in the company of some sort of psychopath who seemed to have entered some sort of psychotic trance. It was eventually broken by the phone ringing; as she chatted Carter seemed to wake up, stood up, they waved and he let himself out.
Carter sat in his car watching the entrance way to Binns' apartment. A taxi pulled up, a young woman got out and rang the bell, Binns appeared at the door and Carter followed the taxi which now contained them both. It stopped outside a nightclub, Binns chatted with the doormen whom she obviously knew and entered with her friend. When she left it was with a man, Carter trailed their taxi back to her apartment; they went inside.
Linguistically Pembrokeshire's people are either polyglot or monoglot: the polyglots speak Welsh and English whilst the monoglots speak only English. This is often represented as a north-south divide but in reality was, historically, dictated by the zone of economic affluence around the Milford Haven Waterway.
Welsh is a Celtic language and was the indigenous language of what is now known as England and Wales at the time of the incorporation of Britain into the Roman Empire. Subsequent to the collapse of the Roman Empire then, out of the chaos of the Dark Ages, England was invaded by the Norsemen in the north and the Germanic tribes of the north-eastern seaboard of Continental Europe in the south. The ethnic population retaining autonomy in Wales and the western regions of England. This was the World at the time of the Norman Conquest. Referred to as a conquest rather than an invasion since the actual numbers of Normans were insignificant compared to the existing population.
But the Normans were extremely well organised with a well established class system and were able to establish a society based on Christian values which survives even to this day; and possesses a quality of inclusiveness which enables it to absorb people much in the way that a sponge absorbs water.
One of the essential strengths of the Norman system being the concept of Head of State who would either be a king or a queen. So that the inclusive society would always be one country or state with infighting and civil war being to determine the identity of the individual who held the office of Head of State. Whereas the pre-Roman Celtic society although held together by the Celtic religion of Druidism was divided into a number of kingdoms, much in the way that Pembrokeshire is nowadays a county or region of Wales and Britain, a weakness which laid it open to the effect of divide and rule and absorption by first the Romans and then the Normans.
Sir Benfro is the Welsh equivalent of the English word Pembrokeshire. The p changing to b since Welsh words have changes, mutations, at their beginnings whereas English words have changes at their endings. So that Pembrokeshire becomes Sir Benfro rather than Sir Penfro and the visitor to Tenby is welcomed with Croeso i Ddinbych y Pysgod rather than Croeso i Dinbych y Pysgod.
Literacy came late to both English and Welsh with the written word being confined to the classical languages of Greek and Latin. The languages being eventually written down for religious reasons so that the Bible could be understood by the masses who with little or no access to education were ignorant of Greek and Latin. The Welsh alphabet was based on the English alphabet so that some Welsh letters of the alphabet consist of two letters symbolising one. The other essential difference is that English operates to a system of subject, verb, object, whereas Welsh to a system of verb, subject, object.
English and Welsh are the two official languages of Wales ... the other parts of Britain only have one.
TIP OF AN ICEBERG
The surveillance of Trecwn continued with the twelve month deadline rapidly approaching then, just when time seemed to have run out, the aliens made their move. Baker was elated for the operation was a complete success and besides the hardware, which was believed to consist of a spaceship and a time machine, four people, three men and a woman, had been captured. This led to a problem because they could not be held in custody indefinitely without being charged and it was not a criminal offence to be an alien; that is, of course, whether or not they were aliens - a fact which was yet to be established and open to considerable and realistic doubt.
"I don't believe they are aliens," sneered Baker.
"Well who are they then?" Quizzed Carter.
"The medical tests that we've performed indicate that they are perfectly normal human beings," admitted the Consultant.
"Who happen to have in their possession a technology light years in advance of our own," added Binns.
"In our possession," boasted Baker.
"What about the Brits?" Asked Carter.
"Screw the Brits," said Baker. "For the time being we'll tell them we're all in this together then when they get trustful and complacent we'll have everything transferred back to the States on research and development grounds."
"They'll fall for that?" Asked Binns.
"Always have done in the past," chuckled Baker, "so I don't see why they shouldn't in the future. Hell ... I know, let's waste them, we'll dump their bodies on a remote stretch of the long distance coastal footpath of the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park and blame IRA gunrunners or drug smugglers. Perhaps even aliens, a lot of the UFO activity in Pembrokeshire has been around the Dale peninsula."
"If you murder them then how on Earth are we going to find out what they know and I don't think the President and People of the United States of America would understand since, after all, this is the greatest moment in human history. We have made contact with intelligent beings who are not indigenous to Earth. There is more to all this than the New World Order."
"Professor Binns is right," agreed Carter, "we're in deep water here. We may have made contact with them but they've also made contact with us. In showing us that they can travel in space and time they've demonstrated a technology which Professor Binns, who is after all our foremost authority on these matters, has said is light years ahead of our own. Then there is the little matter of if their technology is so far advanced then we can confidently assume that their weaponry is too."
"We've stumbled across these people by accident," observed the Consultant, "but it has to be remembered that they've come to us."
"Sort of like Christopher Columbus and the New World?" Ventured Baker.
"A good analogy," agreed the Consultant. "Columbus knew nothing about the people he encountered, he didn't even know where he was. And they knew nothing about him except one thing. The same we know about them: the possession of a superior technology."
"Which proved decisive," observed Binns.
"Firepower," snorted Baker, "they've got it and we haven't and," he looked upwards: "Out there?"
"This could be anything from the advance party of an invasion to a scientific expedition."
"So they're the tip of an iceberg?" Queried Baker and the others acquiesced. "So what do we do with them?"
"From what we can gather they seem to have integrated well into the community and have jobs, families and homes," ventured Carter.
"What sort of work do they do?" Asked Binns.
"The woman is a chambermaid in a hotel, one of the men is a kitchen porter in a restaurant, another is a street cleaner and the third is unemployed," supplied Carter.
"Harvard could enter into a relationship with the local university and that way we could provide them with jobs which would act as a cover for conducting our future dealings with them."
"Great thinking Binns," chortled Baker, "the Pentagon will be willing to finance ..."
"There's only one problem," interrupted Carter, "there isn't a local university."
Binns: "Well since the Pentagon are in such a generous mood Harvard will be happy to found one. The first thing I want to find out is: Why Pembrokeshire? After all, they either came here by accident or design."
A gene can be a short length of genetic material which encodes the formula for a particular protein which can give an individual a particular characteristic and so we are all different but all the same.
A computer can be a machine which encodes in its design the formula for a particular mathematical or physical system and so can subject an individual problem with a particular class of solution and so all machines are different but all the same.
A verbal human language is a mechanism by which individual humans communicate to a formula based on verb, subject and object. With these three parameters all communication can be encoded into thoughts and so all communications are different but all the same.
A human, whether it be a man or a woman, has the same basic biological, physical and emotional make up which is translated in its brain to thoughts and so all humans are different but all the same.
A thought is an expression of the human consciousness, the colour of someone's eyes is an expression of the human genome, a machine or computer is an expression of the brain's life experience, and so consciousness, genome, life experience, can be expressed as subject, verb, object.
Consciousness is our place in the Universe, genome is our physical being and interacts with time and so evolution, life experience is our understanding of the Universe.
Our life experience increases with time, not just our own but the human race's, our genome is expressed over time, not just our own but the human race's, our consciousness becomes more focused with time, not just our own but the human race's.
And as consciousness, genome and experience are interchangeable then so are verb, subject and object; the order is immaterial.
Binns and the Consultant left their sea front hotel and went for an after dinner walk around the peninsula of Tenby's Castle Hill. They stood at a plaque defining landmarks visible from the vantage-point of the Castle Hill with respect to the coastline.
Binns: "Opposite us is Saint Catherine's Island with its Napoleonic fortress. Over there Caldey Island with its lighthouse and monastery. Further to the west Giltar Point and behind it Saint Margaret's Island which is a seabird and seal sanctuary. Then to the eastern horizon the Gower Peninsula and behind us Monkstone Point. Behind that is Amroth where you can see the remains of a sunken forest which dates back to the rise in sea levels of the early Stone Age. Then further along, that huge stretch of sand, that's Pendine where between the First and Second World Wars they used to make attempts on the World land speed record ... I had a really strange dream last night."
"That's not surprising with all that's been happening, you've got so much on your mind."
"No it was like I'd been here before."
"When I say before I mean before ... before all this, the pier, the town and its town walls, before the Norman castle on top of this promontory, before the monastery on Caldey Island, before the spire of Saint Mary's Church. And do you know what? I wasn't alone, I was with Carter."
"What were you doing?"
"I'd rather not say ... sometimes he gives me the creeps but I can't help feeling sorry for him. I guess it must be the effect of Vietnam ..."
"He told you he'd been to Vietnam?"
"He was in the Green Berets."
"And the story about his family?"
"What do you mean - story?"
"Carter's CIA, he's probably cleared to atomic level and beyond. He's like a chameleon constantly inventing identities and life histories, like you'd change the colour of your nail varnish or lipstick."
"Who is he then?"
"Just some rich kid from the south who joined the National Guard to escape being drafted to Vietnam."
"So he's not a hero then?"
"Far from it. I heard a particularly nasty story about him. While in the National Guard he was involved in a lynching during which a preacher was castrated and his wife gang raped. To escape justice he was secreted away to Washington and the CIA."
"You mean he's Klu Klux Klan?"
"Probably was but that was when he was just a kid so he's probably changed now. I can't imagine he'd have got as far as he has if he hadn't."
"I can. Remember how they persecuted Paul Robeson? And talking of déjà vu, he spent some time in Wales too."
"Look, you're in a very high profile and therefore dangerous position. There's something I know which I feel you ought to know. But if I tell you and they find out that I told you I'd be in a very difficult position indeed if you know what I mean."
"I get your meaning. Are you able to give me any clues?"
"I think it would be better if you asked Carter to tell you. Ask him about the Silver Spoon."
"The Silver Spoon?"
"That's all I'm prepared to say and I'll tell you why. Several years ago I became professionally involved, as I was with you, with an eminent psychologist who, as in your case, was said to be suffering from hallucinations about aliens. She, as did you, realised the situation she was in and, as did you, decided to cooperate as a strategy for escape. Being in my line of work, as it were, she soon became a valued colleague and confident which is how I know about the Silver Spoon. But I never told anyone and from what I'll tell you, and from what you know already, you'll understand why.
"A situation developed where she seemed to be taking over, a scenario which could well be said to be the story of your life. But that's besides the point. My job was simply to assess my patients in the short and medium term but she was prying. Because of the Silver Spoon she wanted to know if they knew anything connected with what she knew.
"This was beginning to have a detrimental and destabilising effect since she was creating anxieties in the other patients since in probing their minds she was probing their identities.
"I reported this and made a recommendation that she was released as sane, which to my professional opinion she was, as in your case, or moved on for reassessment elsewhere. I believed they would adopt the second option since what I had deduced as to the reason for her emplacement in the beginning was that she wanted to go public with the Silver Spoon and they didn't. You may be able to understand her a little better if I tell you that she believed that publication would have obtained her a Nobel Prize and, as she put it, immortality.
"But she obtained immortality all right. They moved her on within the system to an institution which specialised in experimental psychological therapies involving surgery. She believed that she was in the process of being rehabilitated, that her career aims were the same as theirs, that they wanted a coordinated approach to publication which for political reasons would be in the run up to the presidential elections.
"But she entered the institution not as a member of staff but as a patient, just as you did, and died shortly after of a brain haemorrhage during experimental surgery to her brain. So you see sister I can worry for you and sometimes I get scared too."
"Thanks for your concern but why should I ask Carter about it all, about what you call the Silver Spoon?"
"Because he was the middleman, he was involved in the negotiations with her. To put it bluntly she trusted him, she trusted him and she died."
They were now standing on top of the Castle Hill. Binns rubbed the palm of her hand against the grey limestone of the twelfth century Norman keep: "I love history and as soon as we arrived here I somehow felt as if I'd come home. It's all here, the history of mankind from the beginning of the Stone Age right through to the Alien Age of the twenty-first century. That white marble statue is of Prince Albert who was Queen Victoria's husband and there's always a seagull standing on his head! It's said that some nights on a full Moon when Saint Mary's Church clock strikes midnight in the dead of winter he climbs down and walks around the mediaeval streets inside the town walls. Do you believe that?"
"You seem to know a lot about it."
"Tenby Town Council has a web site on the Internet and the Tenby Observer newspaper publishes a complimentary tourist guide. That's the town's Museum and Art Gallery, and that's the Lifeboat Station. The lifeboat is called the RFA Sir Galahad after a British ship which was sunk in the Falkland's War. I'd love to be in the lifeboat when she goes down the slipway after the two maroons have been fired. You see how all the buildings of the old town are all higgledy-piggledy? That's why Tenby's called the Naples of Wales. The big rock stack in the middle of the North Beach is called Goscar Rock, when the tide is in it's surrounded by the sea. My secretary's dog is going to have puppies and she's promised me one, and that's what I'm going to call him: Goscar!
"I love to just close my eyes and listen to the sea ... it's always different yet always the same. The other night there was a storm and I'd taken this guy I met back to my room, it was really erotic making love with the waves smashing rhythmically against the cliffs, just listen to the sea ..."
"And the seagulls!"
"The seagulls, yes, this morning I fed them with some bread from the kitchen that the chef gave me. I stood on the Paragon and the tide was in, and all around me were flying hundreds of seagulls, and when I threw a piece of bread always one of them would catch it."
The Sun was setting behind Tenby town now and in the late May of early summer the prevailing south-westerly wind was decidedly chilly. Either that or the sight of Carter walking along the pathway below them, around the bandstand and then down the steps which led onto the Castle Sands at the far end of the South Beach which with the bluish turquoise tide out, stretched well over a golden mile to the bluff grey green-topped headland of Proud Giltar: the Sunset deepening its reddish glow and so promising a fine day tomorrow.
Binns had decided to take the bull by the horns and stood on the balcony of her sea front hotel room which overlooked Caldey Island. A full Moon had risen high over the Gower Peninsula and the blackness of the sea danced silver in the Moonbeams. She felt a sudden urge to be naked but then noticed the lighthouse of Caldey Island seemingly wink at her.
"It's very romantic here," said Carter as he passed her a drink from the mini-bar in the hotel room.
"Thanks ... but you don't understand the rules."
"I'd like to learn."
"They are very simple, I keep control ... Did you see that meteor?"
"You must be blind then, it was so bright, negative magnitude two or three at least ... what were you looking at then?"
"You, you look so beautiful with the Moon in your eyes."
"Carter you should hear yourself, that was so corny!"
"I think we'd better change the subject. Did you ever meet Neil Armstrong?"
"Not exactly, I've seen him close up during presidential security operations."
"It's so hard to imagine that we once could walk on the Moon. We've gone backwards in evolution since then. What the previous generation could do, ours can't."
"I expect manned Lunar exploration will recommence once thespace station is established."
"Yes, but it's so unfair. I want to go to the Moon. There you are Carter, give me the Moon and I'll marry you."
"Do you mean that?"
"Carter, you should hear yourself ... still with one-sixth gravity it would make our wedding night an interesting experience! We could write a new chapter for the Karma Sutra!"
Carter's studied gaze seemed to pass through her: "So if I give you the Moon as a wedding present you'll marry me."
"You've got a one track mind Carter." She suddenly felt chilled, Carter had an obsession and she was telling him that his ambition was unattainable: "The rules Carter, the rules, remember the rules." She wagged her finger at him and they went inside the room. She sat on a sofa that faced out to sea through the closed glass balcony door then told Carter to turn out the lights and patted the cushion for him to sit next to her, she cuddled up to him and he put his arm around her.
They were bathed in Moonlight and on the blackness of the horizon danced the manmade lights of the Gower Peninsula and the North Devon coast of England.
"That bright star near the Moon is Jupiter."
"And the girl in my arms is Venus."
"There you go again Carter, you always spoil it all by being so corny."
"Must be the generation gap, I'm a lot older than you."
"If you had your life over again what would you do?"
"I don't know. I'd have like to have been born years ago. Hundred, two hundred years ago when the World was a simpler place."
"I wouldn't have. I'd have been a Slave then."
"So you like the modern World then?"
"Not really. I know I really shouldn't say it but I feel I don't fit in."
"But you're World famous."
"Maybe but I'm not mainstream. I represent a minority. A minority which is obsessed with its own self-importance. What really makes my blood boil is not being awarded the Nobel Prize. News reports of kids starving or getting their legs blown off by landmines in Africa leave me cold. It should be the other way round. Humanity should come before ego. Like with the late Diana, Princess of Wales ... it seems such a strange coincidence that we should be here so soon after her death?"
"But then you wouldn't be you."
"But that's just it, I don't like being me because all I represent to people is an image. I'm not flesh and blood, I'm a job title. I don't see a future, I feel with my life that I somehow took a wrong turning and have ended up going down a dead end never ending alley ever since."
"So why do you do it, why don't you chuck it all in?"
"And do what? You get paid doing what I do a lot more than stacking shelves in a supermarket or waitressing."
"I don't understand why I do what I do either. Some would say to stop American kids starving and having their limbs blown off by landmines. But really I just drifted here too. But worst of all it's all I know, I can't do nothing else."
"So we're both stuck in dead end jobs we don't like and we can't give them up because we can't do nothing else and even if we could we wouldn't because the pay is too good."
"Perhaps when all this is over we could go on holiday together. Maybe charter a yacht and spend a few weeks sailing around the islands of the West Indies in the Caribbean Sea."
Binns laughed: "I can't swim!"
"Don't worry, if you drown I'll give you the kiss of life."
"There you go again, spoiling it all by being corny. But sitting here, watching the Moon, sea and stars it's like we're on a voyage. We're sailing into the future. Who knows, the aliens might be spying on us right now from somewhere out in space."
"Perhaps we ought to give them something to be excited about!"
"So you want your alien test, do you?"
"Listen, what's all this about? Baker asked me on the phone this morning if I'd had my alien test yet and he seemed to think it was a big joke."
"I'll tell you my secret if you tell me yours first."
"My secret? What secret? I've got a head full of crazy governmental secrets."
"The secret called the Silver Spoon."
"I don't know what you mean."
"I think you do Carter."
"If I did then it would be one of those secrets you're not supposed to let on to someone who hasn't got the necessary level of security clearance."
"And I haven't?"
"I'm not saying that, I imagine you could well have ..."
"Imagine! Oh that's a joke you know full well that I have."
"Yes but it's not that simple."
"It is, there's just you and me ... and the Moon, the sea and the stars."
"You really need to know?"
"I wouldn't be asking you if I didn't."
"It's the biggest secret I know."
"What, bigger than all this?"
"I find that hard to believe ... but that could only mean one thing!!? But would it be such a big secret after all? If we showed the World our aliens would anyone believe us? Without belittling them they seem to be very ordinary people leading ordinary lives."
"From a security point of view all that means is that they've successfully infiltrated our society and obtained new identities which are seamless."
"But they are not exactly important people fulfilling important job functions."
"But that's what makes them a danger to national security. We don't know what are their aims and objectives."
"You mean we don't know their game plan?"
"If you want to put it like that, then yes."
"Have we even asked them?"
"You know we haven't but even if we did they might lie. We need to work it all out for ourselves. And if you think about it they'll be adopting a similar strategy towards us."
"So it's a stalemate?"
"Not really, but that's where you come in. If you're able to understand their technology then we'll have a way of breaking the ice. At least we'll be able to communicate on some sort of common ground. You've got to remember that we've got a lot of catching up to do."
"And so have I from the sound of it. So you're just going to have to, in the interests of national security, tell me all about the Silver Spoon, now aren't you?"
"If you put it like that then I suppose you've boxed me in ... it never ceases to amaze me, you're so intelligent."
THE SILVER SPOON
Professor Reeves left the meeting in a hurry not stopping for pleasantries. As chief psychologist for the programme she was unhappy that her recommendations seemed to carry such little weight with General Baker whose final decision was approaching as to what to recommend to the President. She took a cab across the city to the military hospital and ended up in the basement which housed the inner sanctum of the germ warfare facility.
Being for emergency use only the germ warfare facility was empty, empty except for one patient. It was late in the evening and the afternoon shift's nurse and physiotherapist were in the process of handing over to the night shift of one army nurse who would hold the fort until dawn's twilight shift took over.
Reeves and the Nurse watched their patient through an observation window from the ward office. "He looks so peaceful," observed Reeves, "just like he's asleep and in the morning will wake up."
"Do you think he'll ever wake up?" Asked the Nurse.
"I don't know. He's been in a coma for so long now that medically it's impossible to say. But I've always had a gut feeling that he will. I just hope he does soon before it's too late."
"Too late, is his life in danger?"
"Perhaps. The Presidential Medical Committee want to carry out some invasive medical procedures on him in order to remove samples of body tissue for further investigation."
"They can't do that! He's alive!"
"I know that and you know that but I'm afraid life isn't that simple."
"But he's a national hero."
"How do you know that?"
The Nurse sounded scared: "Everybody knows, he's one of the Apollo 12 astronauts. He collapsed on the Moon and then an actor stood in for him when they returned to Earth."
Reeves sighed: "So much for security. Don't worry I won't let on you know. But the thing is you see, they want to know why he collapsed and entered into his current vegetative state. That's why the Apollo programme was prematurely terminated, we just don't know if the Moon's safe or not."
"You mean he may have been infected by something?"
"That's what the medical committee's afraid of."
"But we've been nursing him and I'm ..."
"Scared? And you've every right to be so but that's the risk we took when we went to the Moon but if it's any consolation to you you're by no means the only one who's been in close proximity. His colleagues only spent ten days in isolation and then carried on leading their normal lives so if there is anything ... well it's a long time ago now, we'd be dealing with a major epidemic of something previously unknown."
"I'm a single parent family and since the break up of my marriage I get so lonely. I've been nursing him for months now alone on this night shift. Sometimes I sit by his bed and hold his hand and I talk to him for hours. All about my life and my little girl, what she's doing at school and things like that. We just talk ... I mean I just talk to him about anything really."
"That's good, that's excellent nursing, sensory stimulation can work wonders in cases like this."
"But we've, and I can't really truthfully simply say me, we've gone past talking."
"I'm listening sergeant."
"Oh God I've got to tell someone, it makes me feel so happy, I'm pregnant!"
"Yahoo, you've cut the mustard!"
"So he's not in a complete coma after all, you know that's the most amazing thing I've heard in my entire life."
"I was wondering, well, me and him have this special relationship. I'm divorced and I know I do the night shift but there's never no sign or word of people visiting him. Is he married?"
"I was hoping you'd say that. What I was wondering was if I could take him away from here and we could live together in normal surroundings, a bit like husband and wife but we wouldn't be married."
"I think that would be an excellent idea. It's like he's in a cocoon here, a sterile womb, perhaps he's waiting to be reborn."
"He would be."
"Have you told anyone?"
"Well don't, I'm going to have to have a good think as to how to work all this out."
Reeves was deep in thought as the elevator doors opened and didn't immediately register the hospital chaplain walk in as she was walking out. She grabbed hold of his jacket and using her momentum jerked him out of the lift sending him sprawling.
"Father," she apologised as she helped him up: "Please forgive me but I need your help."
As usual his breath smelt of whisky: "To be sure my child it must be serious ... now help me find my glasses ... there now, I can get them repaired in the morning but I've still got one good eye ... perhaps we'd better go to my office ... So what is troubling you my child?"
Reeves filled the padre in with what had happened, he looked shocked and stood up from his desk and turned, looking at the city lights from his office on the tenth floor: "You know, this is almost like a sign, there's something mystical about this. The emotional needs and loneliness of a young woman are understandable. But what do we make of a man who never was? A man who no one knows anything about and is not of this Earth?"
"Well since she's pregnant, and pregnant by him, then we could well be of the same species. We need to see how the child develops. That would be the acid test. If the child were sterile then we'd simply be similar species."
"As a mule is the product of a horse and donkey?"
"Yes that would be a good analogy."
"But you say the presidential committee are considering subjecting him to vivisection. I cannot sanction that. For all we know this man may be a messenger from God. Perhaps a Son of God. It may sound blasphemous to compare him to Jesus Christ but if he is not of this Earth then he will have a message of the upmost importance to humanity in this time of mankind's predilection to fermenting a global catastrophe. No there is only one thing to do, take his fate out of the hands of those who would destroy him and place it in the hands of she who would love him."
Carter was absolutely furious, under his very nose the happy couple had been married and whisked away to a safe house in the grounds of Saint Mary Magdalene's Convent. "You had no right to do that!" He screamed at Reeves.
"It wasn't my decision it was the Church's."
Baker seemed to have taken it on the chin and joked to the assembled medical experts of the presidential commission: "Well boys, you can put away your butcher's knives, there'll be no cutting or slashing now. But gentlemen I don't think we should feel too despondent. As usual our army nurses have come up trumps, God bless 'em, and Professor Reeves' approach is as good as any. Until the baby is born and begins to grow there's not really much we can do except sit back and observe."
"But we're no longer directly in control of the situation," interrupted Carter. "And how do we know what the Church will do?"
"That is a valid point," admitted Baker. "What do you suggest Professor Reeves?"
Reeves was elated that instead of being sidelined she was now once more central to the project's future: "Perhaps something we could all agree on is that a special relationship has developed between a man and a woman which has borne fruit. Surely it would be in all our interests for that relationship to be allowed to continue for the indefinite future and see how the future unfolds?"
"Yes," said Baker, "but how do you address Carter's concern that we are no longer in control?"
Carter interrupted: "I propose that the meeting be adjourned on the grounds that the future living arrangements of the married couple fall outside of the committee's remit."
Baker respected Carter's opinions and the committee's members vacated the room leaving Baker, Carter and Reeves.
"What the hell are you playing at Professor?" Snapped Baker.
"I can assure you that this has come as as big a shock to me as it has to you," replied Reeves.
"How can we be certain that this Nurse is telling the truth? That he really is the father of her child?" Interjected Carter.
Reeves was shot with shock: "Oh my God!"
"Damn!" Swore Baker.
Carter swiftly resumed control: "There's only one thing to do. Regain control of the situation by making out to the Nurse that we believe her story and finding them a place to live where we can keep them under close surveillance."
The plan was adopted and after the married couple were settled Carter picked up Reeves one afternoon to drive her to a mythical meeting with Baker at the nuclear bunker below the asylum. Afterwards he went to visit the married couple at their new home. The Nurse answered the door and invited him inside asking if he'd like a coffee and he followed her into the kitchen.
"Daughter at school?" Inquired Carter.
The Nurse felt the hairs on the back of her neck stiffen and replied cautiously: "Yes." She felt naked and vulnerable as Carter seemed to stare at her body which was beginning to show signs of her pregnancy.
He seemed to enjoy her discomfort: "How's hubby?"
Her arms seemed to fold automatically as if in some sort of action of protection: "The same as usual."
"How's he performing?"
She was shocked and angry: "What's it to do with you? I think I'd prefer it if you left."
"No can do. I'm in charge of security and it's my business to make sure everything runs smoothly."
"I'll complain to Professor Reeves then and have you replaced."
"Bit late for that. Reeves has been taken off your case and transferred to another case."
"Well it's your own fault. The idea you had of going public and selling your story to the newspapers would have made security impossible. This house would have been surrounded by journalists from all over the World."
"It wasn't my idea, I'd rather everyone left us alone to get on with our lives."
"You know that will never be possible. But it's still not too late for you to come clean and I give you my word that there'll be no disciplinary repercussions."
"Look sister you're involved in something deeper than you think. You're out of your depth. Okay you struck unlucky and got pregnant and now you think you can use all this to your advantage ..."
She screamed: "My husband is the father of our child!"
Carter tried to calm her: "There's no need to get all emotional but you have to admit that it all sounds rather far-fetched."
"I don't care what you think all I know is what I want. And right now I want you out of this house."
"Who do you think he is?"
"Okay have it your way. You're a nurse: if he really was an astronaut then his scrotum would show scars from a vasectomy. The risk to the germ cells of his testicles from the increased levels of radiation in space and on the Moon was considered too great. The risk of birth deformities in any children he may later have fathered was considered too great. Which is why his sperm samples would be stored in a cryogenic facility in case he later wanted to father children. That is, of course, if he really was an astronaut. Because if you hadn't become pregnant the plan was to extract his germ cells from his testicles ..."
"He was on the Apollo 12 mission all right but he didn't go both ways, he had a one way ticket. The astronauts found him on the surface of the Moon. He was unconscious even at that stage and we believe that a malfunction of his spacesuit was the cause. If you remember, the live transmission of TV pictures failed shortly after the commencement of the Moonwalk and now you know why. Initially we assumed he was a Russian cosmonaut, after all that is the only logical explanation. But the Russians never admitted to one of their cosmonauts being missing and since we'd been unable to detect their Moon mission and the technology of his spacesuit was more advanced than ours we weren't going to tell them."
"Because there's another explanation if you think about it."
"You mean!!?" Her stomach convulsed and she felt like vomiting.
"If you're telling the truth and he's not a Russian then there's only one other possibility. That's why they were going to extract his germ cells to discover whether or not he really was human or something else."
"Why didn't you tell me all this before?"
"I'm sorry you should have been told."
"I could have had an abortion."
"Let's be sensible about this. You're receiving the best medical support that money can buy, your pregnancy and the development of the foetus are perfectly normal."
"So that's why so much fuss is being made of me."
"I was set up, wasn't I? I was alone and vulnerable, the same as him really, I thought it strange at the time that we were left alone together at night. And the other shifts were covered by male nurses."
"If your conspiracy theory is true, and I'll certainly investigate it, it was never discussed by the Presidential Medical Committee."
"No need, Professor Reeves was behind this, a lot of things are making sense to me now. And why was he planted on the Moon?"
"We don't know. Perhaps he was meant to make contact with us but, as I said, his spacesuit malfunctioned."
"I know. He's a Trojan Horse. He was meant to be brought back to Earth and do what he's done."
"That's an interesting theory."
"It's not a theory it's the truth and I'm caught in the middle of Reeves' lust for glory and an alien invasion of the Earth."
"Look in your condition it's important you don't upset yourself."
"I'm not upset. All I know is that I've been lied to, used and, yes, abused. But then what's new? All my life has been like that, my ex-husband was having an affair with a woman who I thought was my best friend. I used to tell her everything and all the time they were both laughing at me."
"So where do we go from here?"
"Nowhere. My ancestors were brought here in a slave ship and sold in a market. I thought I was free but all I've found out is that I've been sold out."
"I think you'd better go now, my daughter will soon be home from school but thanks Carter, thanks for being straight with me."
"How did you manage to do that?" Quizzed Binns. "You end up making yourself sound like a hero whereas at times during the story you come across as the villain."
"Probably because it's not a story, it's what really happened."
"So why is it called the Silver Spoon?"
"Well he regained consciousness before the baby was born but she became antagonistic towards him so ... well instead of enjoying the rewards of his conjugal rights he'd be punished with a blow to his manhood from what came to be known as the Silver Spoon."
"But it worked. All part of the sensory stimulation that brought him out of his coma."
"And where are they now?"
"Officially they're all dead. We killed them all off including Reeves. But in reality they're all living happily ever after and they had two other children. Reeves got a new identity too and is closely monitoring their progress. He and the kids all seem perfectly normal. As we suspected he confirmed that the aliens have a base on the Moon but, as you've pointed out, they don't seem to be particularly significant as individuals.
"What seems to have happened is that after one of their spaceships crashlanded here in Pembrokeshire during the Second World War the crew, although found by a rescue mission, refused to go back to the Moon. Gradually the others followed their lead leaving, at the time of Apollo 12 and this incident, an old man and a teenager."
"So they're still there now?"
"For all we know, yes."
"They could be looking at us right now while we look at them."
"Correction, we're all looking at you, while you're looking at them."
"Be careful Carter or you'll be the one who gets silver spooned. I'm so sleepy, let's just sit here a little longer then I'll have to go to bed."
"But you haven't kept your side of the bargain. You haven't told me about the alien test."
"It's what happens to you if you don't get silver spooned. Now just keep quiet for a bit."
Baker joked to the President: "Binns gave Carter his alien test last night. They spent the night together. But Carter's told her about the Silver Spoon."
"Well she had to know one day, I suppose."
"Probably knew already if I know her. She seems to be able to re-encrypt disinformation into the truth."
"That's why she's head of Harvard and you're head of the Pentagon."
"And you're head of the country, ha, ha!" Joked Baker: "... ummm, sorry Mister President I got carried away."
"Do you think she suspects anything?"
"Hell no, the Consultant told her that Carter's a Vietnam draft dodger who was Klu Klux Klan!"
Binns and the Consultant walked along Tenby's pier after a Sunday evening service at the little Seamen's Church of Saint Julian's which is situated at the heart of Tenby's harbour at the edge of the Quay Sands.
"There's a rumour on the grapevine going around about you, everybody's talking about it," ventured the Consultant.
"Aren't you worried?"
"Look, if they're not talking about me it would be about someone else so who cares."
"So it's true then, you certain that it's a good idea?"
"It's a beautiful evening after a long hard day ... Hey, look at those kids jumping off the end of the pier, I'd have loved to have done that when I was a kid."
"But Carter of all people."
"Carter, what about Carter, you seem to be fixated about him?"
"But that's what people are talking about, you and Carter."
"Caught anything?" Binns asked a child who was fishing with his father over the seaward side of the pier.
"Two mackerel!" The kid replied excitedly.
"Sure to be a third! ... What about us?"
"You spent the night with him in your room."
"Well you told me to ask him."
"About the Silver Spoon? Did he tell you?"
"Perhaps there are somethings we shouldn't talk about. I don't kiss and tell so who told you, was it Carter?"
"I just think you're taking a big risk."
"I'm domesticating him, he says he wants to marry me."
"But he's Klu Klux Klan!"
"I told you, I'm domesticating him. He has his uses but I'm in control. There are a lot of questions for which I need answers, and there are a lot of questions I don't know how to ask, but something I've learned is that Carter has been in this longer than I have and talking to him helps."
"But that doesn't mean you have to sleep with him."
"Who said anything about sleeping with him?"
"I didn't. You shouldn't listen to rumours, they can lead you to make false assumptions and so draw wrong conclusions."
"So you didn't sleep with him?"
"Theoretically yes, practically no. But let's change the subject, after all my private life is no more the concern of you than yours is of myself."
"Of course, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to pry. I was just so surprised, that's all."
"So was I."
One evening at dusk Carter and Binns walked arm-in-arm along Tenby's cliff top Esplanade promenade which overlooks Caldey Island, the South Beach, Giltar and the village of Penally which is at the base of a range of hills known as the Ridgeway and has a small Norman church.
"Are we getting any closer?" Quizzed Carter.
"There's a game I'd like to play with you."
"I'm all ears."
"I need what you've got between them, I need your brain. I think the key to understanding how their technology works is their analog computer. It seems to take the place in their technology that a digital computer takes in ours."
"How did we manage before digital computers?"
"Excellent Carter, that could be a valuable insight. I hadn't thought of it like that."
"So what's this game you mentioned?"
"An analog computer game. If we play it ... well if we can develop a methodology for playing it then possibly we have, in abstract form, a means of programming the analog computer. That's what we need to develop, a programming language. I suppose that big chimney on the horizon must be Pembroke Power Station?"
"And the smaller ones you can just about see over that long range of hills known as the Ridgeway are the Texaco Oil Refinery's. There are two other oil refineries on the other side of the Milford Haven Waterway but you can't see the chimneys from here. The power station and the Gulf Oil Refinery are closed down which just leaves the Elf and Texaco Oil Refineries."
"They seem to be in the middle of the industry versus environmentalists debate here. Haven't they heard of pollution controls?"
"Because of the weakness of the local economy Pembrokeshire suffers a braindrain: all the serious minded kids who take school seriously go away for their higher education and then settle elsewhere due to the lack of job opportunities for them."
"So I guess Harvard's new university will have a real role to play which will be beneficial to the local community?"
"Yes, it also provides us with the perfect cover. After all, there's plenty of money to be made in the Education Industry these days."
"I'm going to call it the Harvard University of the Environment in Pembrokeshire to study the interaction of environment, health and industry. We'll establish it along traditional lines with in all probability four faculties of Arts, Science, Engineering and Medicine; and we're considering a site on the other side of the Milford Haven Waterway which was previously an oil refinery built by Esso but which was closed down in the 1980s and has since been dismantled."
"You take on such a big work load. Are you sure you can manage it all?"
"Carter, you're worried about me!"
"Yes, there's your health to think about."
"You know, that's the first time since I was a kid that anybody's ever been concerned about me."
"I think about you all the time."
"Remember you said that you'd like us to go on a sailing holiday together when all this is over?"
"Yes, I meant it."
"Well it's like I'm the captain of Harvard's ship. I determine the course we navigate and what our destination will be. The destination is Pembrokeshire and we know why we're here. To understand the alien technology and then exploit it in the interests of the national security of the United States of America. But with our concept of the New World Order we claim we're acting in humanity's interests too and I both believe in and support that policy. Last week on the Internet I re-readHaile Selassie's speech to the League of Nations of 1936 in Geneva following the invasion of his county Ethiopia, or Abyssinia as it was then known, by Mussolini's Italians. I agree with Selassie that there has to be rule by law otherwise it's rule by thuggery and our science and technology is used for destructive purposes. In Ethiopia's case, Selassie's people were using bows and arrows against chemical warfare.
"So I believe we need our technological edge and that's why this project is of such vital importance to me. I share Martin Luther King's dream and this is my way of contributing to it. Until he was able to return to Ethiopia in 1941 with the help of the British, Selassie spent his exile in Britain and the Lion of Judah actually spent some time here, on Caldey Island. You also said you wanted to marry me."
"And I meant that too. It's what I want more than anything."
"But you wouldn't just be marrying me. You'd be marrying my work too and when all this is over there'll be something else. That's just the way it is. It would be like this: they might call me Mrs Carter but in reality you'd be Mr Binns."
"I'll change my name if you want."
"I don't need an ornament I need a miracle. If I ever got married I'd want something I can't have."
"What is it?"
"If I tell you it will be the end of our romance."
"It won't, I promise you."
"That's just it, you can't promise me nothing."
THE END OF THE WORLD
In this wonderful World of ours Pembrokeshire's down on its heels, there's a lot of unemployment and low wages. There's a braindrain where we lose our serious minded ambitious young people and, as ever, with our cosmopolitan demeanour attract newcomers from all over.
So our inward investment isn't in terms of private sector companies that bring work to our impoverished people and persuade our young to stay but, as it's always been so presumably always will be, in terms of people.
What we're doing is expanding our genetic base in order to breed a new race of super Normans who will come to rule the European Union. Now if that sounds far-fetched to you I'll be forced to ask you what then is our game? For I was born here in the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park and I don't know.
All I know is that all my life the word ambition is rarely mentioned and the attitude has been that you're not supposed to be ambitious, you're supposed to know your place. What are you supposed to do? Blend into the background, be invisible, then everything will be all right. So is there a dark destroyer walking this land? Is there something I've missed. Sort of like all my life you've been standing behind me so I haven't seen you.
Is this mysterious being who everyone seems to be afraid of really afraid of itself? Afraid to come out in the open and be seen. Something I sometimes wonder is why things in Pembrokeshire, and Wales as a whole, are like they are. Why can't we be prosperous like everyone else? Why can't we be ambitious? Why has it all got to happen like mysterious manna from heaven?
Why are we so stupid? It's like we can't see the wood from the trees and I believe the key is our membership of the European Union of which we in Wales, besides being an integral part of member state Britain, are classified as a region; the pan-European Union distribution of wealth being at fault. Now we were told when we joined what is now known as the European Union that we would all be enriched with things like meaningful jobs, pensions, modern health care and higher education. But it hasn't worked out like that and in Pembrokeshire it's all gone horribly wrong and we, once the jewel in the crown of the Norman Empire, have become the poorest part of the European Union to economic values. Now obviously economic values aren't everything but it's like the European dream has come true for other parts of Europe and as they get richer, we get poorer, and it's like everyone's laughing at us and this presumably is why the dark destroyer is afraid to show its face because you can't be scary if people think you're funny.
So how do they get richer whilst we get poorer? Now the human being is the same basic model throughout the World so I don't think it's exactly genetic, which if true would mean something along the lines of a lack of knowledge on our part. Sort of like we're not Worldly enough, naïve like, trusting of strangers. The loss of heavy industry, no matter how catastrophic to the communities it served, is seen off with a shrug of the shoulders, sort of like that's the way it is, times have changed and polluting environmentally unfriendly heavy industries have had their day; whereas on the other hand the new industries are welcomed with open arms. To sum up: the heavy industry is thought of as the past, the light industries as the future.
Now there's a price to be paid for everything and, inevitably, it's the People of Pembrokeshire who are paying it. We're descendants of the Norman warlords of Pembrokeshire and we've got other exotic stuff in our veins too, like my maternal grandfather Harry Rowse who was a Brixham fisherman, all inter-cleaved into our Celtic heritage. Right now I'm listening to Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending and that's Pembrokeshire on a summer's day. The air so clear and clean, the sky so blue, the countryside so green, the cliffs so grey, the sea as ever so complex. There's something wrong with the sea, it's like she's worried. She can never make up her mind. She can be happy, sad, angry, whatever but as surely as day follows night her mood will eventually change. So she's like Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on Greensleeves.
I don't really understand what this book is all about just as I don't really understand what the Norman castles are all about. All I really know is that I'm writing but it's like it's got a life of its own and I'm a character in the story it's writing. And for me this book is a bit like Pembrokeshire's Norman castles. Dark, mysterious, sinister yet magical too. Like Vaughan Williams' Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis.
Things have got worse since I began writing this book. The power station and one of the three oil refineries have closed down. Some people think this is for the best whilst others say we need the work especially for the sake of our young people. There's a belief at large about the end of the World. Or at least the end of the World as we know it. To save the environment we have to make our economy of high unemployment and low wages even worse. It's like Nature requires a sacrifice and our human World is that sacrifice.
This book is an act of pollution and it is said that the polluter pays ... but how can the prophets of doom be so certain? Cause of the dilemma: industry makes products which we as individuals consume. Solution to the problem: stop production and individuals won't consume. But even if I do nothing what do I do? And that's the rub, whatever I do I'm going to do something and doing something I'll inevitably be an individual consumer polluting the planet. So I don't believe we should be asked to choose between jobs and environment because what I'd argue it's all about is creating a balance between industry and environment to minimise pollution. For in Wales they've shutdown our heavy industry of coal and steel but all it means is that work that was done here is transferred somewhere else and now the same is happening with the oil industry.
Because my mindset isn't that of an environmental extremist I have grave doubts about the viability of this book. Because something experience has taught me is that this environment versus industry debate goes deeper with the end-point being of whether or not one approves of science and technology. So since this book has a scientific and technological dimension it will be perceived as taking industry's side in the debate and so produce a hostile response from those who are committed environmentalists.
But this reflects how political debate has changed in my lifetime from consensus into confrontation. From stability into instability. So that the hypothesis of global warming and the carbon cycle dominates the political landscape. And what the environmentalists are saying is that they want to go back from instability to stability and the way to do that is to go back in time. Or is that being cynical? I certainly wouldn't pretend to know all the answers or be able to ask all the questions.
But science and technology is blamed for pollution and if global warming really is happening and mankind is its instigator then science and technology would have been the instrument of mankind's suicide as surely as it would have been if mankind had self-destructed during the Cold War with the mutually assured destruction of an all out nuclear war.
Something of an evolutionary-like nature seems to have occurred recently in mankind's history in that since around the middle of the twentieth century mankind has developed the capacity to destroy the planet: or at least from the point of view of being habitable for us human beings.
We are the mechanism of our own destruction, which is something which has only dawned on us recently in our history simply since previously our knowledge of science and technology hadn't advanced far enough for us to consider ourselves as anything other than part of Nature's foodchain, which science and technology had enabled us to be at the pinnacle of leading to a population explosion amongst human beings; so that much of the history of the twentieth century with its wars of mass extermination could be viewed as an irrational attempt to reverse that process.
But the development of science and technology is the story of the development of the human brain, so can be perceived as part and parcel of Darwin's theory of evolution. But so can everything else in the evolutionary history of planet Earth. And as we know things that evolve frequently become extinct. So I would argue that we are at the beginning of a chapter in human history which is either the beginning of the final chapter with a title something like 'the extinction of mankind'. But not the extinction of planet Earth since other lifeforms will continue and others will evolve. In other words, just as the dinosaurs had their place in Earth's evolutionary history then so would we.
Or, we are at the beginning of a new chapter which is simply a chapter in the story of mankind; not the end and not the beginning. So forgetting about the current industry versus environment debate where will the chapter lead us? From a science and technology perspective it's quite simple really: either we stay on planet Earth or we begin to colonise outer space.
"Now the game I want to play with you is called, well it's my game in that I made it up so I can call it what I want, is: Pembrokeshire, Land of the Norman Warlords. I'm going to cheat a bit since some of the castles won't actually be in Wales' County of Castles, but on its frontiers.
"Now if you recall the lecture you attended I described a game which I called European Union Air Navigator and again we'll select thirteen castles and so utilise a standard pack of playing cards. The thirteen castles I'll each highlight on this map with a black marker pen as a small circle. So we have: Tenby; Manorbier; Pembroke where Henry the Seventh was born in 1457 and where the Second British Civil War began in 1648, when it rebelled against Britain's one and only president Oliver Cromwell resulting in him paying Pembrokeshire a visit; Carew which was once owned by a son of Henry the Eighth who was a half-brother of Elizabeth the First; Laugharne where in modern times Dylan Thomas wrote his poetry; Carmarthen; Narberth; Llawhaden; Haverfordwest; Roch; Newcastle Emlyn; Cilgerran and Newport. So what is the aim of the game, what do you think?"
"You're a damsel in distress and I have to rescue you."
"Be serious or I'll play with someone else."
"Sorry. Well your previous game was a race around the thirteen airports you selected. So do we have a race around the castles?"
"We could do but I'd prefer something a bit more adventurous which would perhaps take into account the strategical planning behind the locations of the castles. It's curious but in Iron Age times the Celts would tend to build their fortifications in inaccessible places such as hilltops or on small cliff top peninsulas. Whereas the strategical planning policy of the Normans was different, in fact to appearances opposite. They seemed to be intent on dominating the lowland areas where the people actually lived whereas the Celts' fortifications would seem to be to act as places of refuge in times of war."
"Perhaps the Norman castles performed a policing role?"
"The castles as police stations, I never thought of that."
"It's just a suggestion but it would mean that in Norman times the authorities were more concerned with maintaining internal order rather than an external threat. But to have a stable society then you'd presumably need to have an uniform civil authority so I'd suggest your game to be about ownership of the castles."
"I'll start at Tenby and you at Newport and I'll go first." Binns placed a one penny coin on Newport (on the northern coastline of Pembrokeshire) and a one pound coin on Tenby (on the southern coastline). Then she took her first turn and placed another pound coin over Carter's coin at Newport: "See, I've won!"
"Dammit ... I didn't even get a go."
"And because you lost you have to pay a forfeit. Oh look, there's a silver spoon in the sugar bowl! Don't worry, I'm only joking. So how do we make the game more complicated?"
"If we carry on but place your coin next to mine, but outside of the circle, then we could say that you've placed Newport under siege. Now I add a second coin which means you're outnumbered two to one so I've raised the siege and you lose your coin. And the forfeit you pay is that you lose a life; so you lose one of your thirteen playing cards. So I'm winning since I still have thirteen cards but you've only got twelve."
"What!!? How many coins do we start with?"
"Say if we said that you've got the option of either retreating by removing your coin to another castle or keeping up the siege by adding an additional one?"
"Fine by me" and she placed her confiscated coin on Cilgerran (in the north). Carter: Manorbier (south). Binns: Pembroke (central). Carter: Carew (central). Binns: she moved her Pembroke and Tenby coins to Manorbier.
"You can't do that!"
"I just did."
"Okay then," Carter moved his Manorbier coin to Tenby: "And I've won since I've captured your base."
"But my forces are mobile so I'm going to lay siege to Carew where the last tournament of knights in shining armour in Britain was held in 1507."
"And I ..."
"But wait a minute you cheated. When I laid siege to Manorbier how come your army was able to escape and capture Tenby?" Carter avoided eye contact and shrugged. "You cheated and I nearly fell for it, if you carry on like that you'll definitely get silver spooned. Right so I remove my siege of Carew and we go back to me sieging you at Manorbier, two against one with it being your turn.
"Manorbier is where Gerald the Welshman was born in 1146. He was of mixed Norman and native Welsh parentage and his Welsh grandmother was said to have been so beautiful that she was known as the Helen of Wales - they even fought a war over her but that's another story. He invented the science of comparative philology, which is the study of the relationships between human natural languages, and wanted to be the Bishop of Saint David's Cathedral. Saint David is the patron saint of Wales and three pilgrimages to Saint David's was counted as being the equivalent of one to Jerusalem and the Holy Land itself; two was the same as going to Rome. You know, even William the Conqueror made a pilgrimage to Saint David's and me and the first king of England got something in common: we're both from single parent families!"
"Is Saint David's near Newport?"
"On the same stretch of coastline but to the far west. In between is Fishguard where the last invasion of Britain took place in 1797 by the French with an American called Colonel William Tate in command. It's also where the film version of Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick which starred Gregory Peck was filmed and, also, Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood which starred the World's favourite Welshman, Richard Burton."
"Okay, I'm laying siege to Cilgerran with my Newport armies."
"You can't move two at once!"
"You did when you pincered Manorbier with Pembroke and Tenby."
"Okay then, I'm taking Manorbier."
"And I'm having Cilgerran in revenge."
"So that's twelve lives each and I'm laying siege to Carew by moving my two at Manorbier."
"And I'm going to resist by adding my two at Cilgerran to Carew. So I outnumber you three to two."
"And even though I went first you've got an overall numerical advantage. How did you manage that?"
"You retreated when I raised the siege at Newport."
"It's not a very good game, is it?"
"It's too predictable. How about if you can only have one of your own coins on any particular castle and determine the outcome of a siege with the toss of a coin? Heads I win, tails you lose."
"Sorry, I'm afraid I can't help it, it's how I've been trained."
"You need discipline."
"Carter! Now we'll try it your way so I'll let you go first ... You've chosen Roch, that's where the mother of the illegitimate son of Charles the Second who led the rebellion of 1685 in South West England was born, resulting in what's known as Monmouth's Rebellion and Judge Jeffreys with his Bloody Assizes."
Binns to Haverfordwest, Carter to Narberth, Binns to Llawhaden, Carter to Laugharne, Binns to Newport, Carter to Tenby, Binns to Cilgerran, Carter to Manorbier, Binns to Newcastle Emlyn, Carter to Carew, Binns to Carmarthen, Carter to Pembroke. Binns lays siege to Narberth and wins the toss.
"I don't think this is going to work out," said Carter, "there's not enough skill."
"Yeah, it's crap."
"In your previous game the planes had to follow defined routes. How about if the armies had to follow routes by land and, of course, by sea?"
"So it's back to a race."
"Looks like it."
"A race around the castles. We'll play it like before. We'll allocate a playing card to each castle and the winner will be the one to use up all the cards and so visit each castle. I'm going to rule that you can only travel by land and only occupy a castle if it's vacant. No, you can visit the castle by laying siege to it but the other person misses a turn until your next move when you raise the siege. We'll have two dice again, one for distance and the other for direction. What do you think?"
"How about if you divided the map into squares with a maximum of one castle per square and it's only possible to move from one square to the next?"
"This is getting boring ... Oh, is that the time. I'll have to ask you to leave, it's time I started to get ready for my date, we're going to Penally, there's a nightclub there."
"Date? I thought ..."
"Carter, what I do in my private life is up to me, I don't need any permission from you."
"Of course, umm ..."
"Well off you go then."
Binns shooed him towards the door and as he placed his hand on the handle he turned: "I've got to go back to the States and might be gone awhile."
"I thought I'd just let you know."
"No need, you're not part of the Harvard team." She disappeared into the en suite bathroom.
HOYLES MOUTH CAVE
"What's going on?" Shouted a shocked and enraged Carter.
"What ... I thought you were in America." Shrugged Binns.
"What's this machinery doing here and why are you dressed like that?"
"I'm wearing authentic Iron Age clothing and the time machine is going to send me back there."
"To the Iron Age?"
"Yep, I considered the Bronze Age but reached the conclusion that the scientific thought we're interested in was still probably evolving at that time so settled on the Iron Age by which time it should have become relatively advanced. Exciting, isn't it?"
"You can't ... it's not safe."
"So? It's nothing to do with you, this is a Harvard private venture project."
"Does Baker know?"
"Yes and the President."
"And they're letting you do it ... they never consulted me."
"Why should they? Who do you think you are: the organ grinder or the monkey?"
"When are you going?"
"Soon now, we're just doing the final checks. Then I step inside the circle defined by the three transducers and hey presto I'm back in time."
"How will you get back?"
"There'll be a rescue mission, they'll pick me up in the autumn."
"With the time machine Harvard are going to develop based on this one. All it means is that I'll spend six months in the Iron Age then come back in the future. Mightn't be until the twenty-second century but who cares."
"Well I do, I might never see you again."
"You probably won't but what is important is the future and the only way I'm going to understand how the aliens' analog computer works is to go back in time to be with the people who originally built them."
"This is crazy."
Binns stood in the circle in the mouth of the cave and a voice of one of the team echoing from a hidden loudspeaker commanded everyone to stand well clear and began to call the countdown. At three Binns lifted up her animal skin dress and flashed a naked buttock at Carter: "Look Carter, no knickers!" Then held up her hands in horror as Carter dashed towards her.
"Get off me, what do you think you're doing!"
"I couldn't let you go through with it, it's too dangerous. Let me help you up, you're not hurt, are you?"
"I don't think so ... it's so quiet, hey where's everyone?"
"I don't know, oh my God it's happened!!?"
"Damn, Carter you stupid twat, the transducers were computed to generate enough power to send just me back to the Iron Age. But you've come too so where the heck have we ended up? We're lost in time, we'll never be rescued now!"
"I'm sorry ... I'm sorry."
"Sorry ... sorry ... it's like being shipwrecked on a desert island and I'm stuck with you!"
"Mister President, Mister President," Baker's voice was filled with panic: "Carter's gone too!"
"What are you talking about, gone where?"
"With Binns back to the Iron Age."
"I'm not, I wish I was."
"Have you found out who he really is yet?"
"No, he must be a commie, the investigations into his past keep drawing up a blank. He'd infiltrated the CIA with a fabricated past life."
"Don't you people check anything?"
"The records indicate that everything was checked and in order."
"This might be for the good then, he's obviously a resourceful individual and I wasn't too happy on her going back on her own."
"True Mister President but I doubt if it will be our problem. We'll both be long dead by the time they make it back ... that is, if they make it back."
"Hush!" Carter held up his forefinger to his lips.
"It's too quiet, the birds are too quiet."
"You mean there's someone watching us?"
"I don't know that yet, there might just be someone close by."
"Why would the birds go ... Carter, you're just trying to scare me! But I can see someone over by there, near where Gumfreston Church would be. That means we've gone back at least nine hundred years, before the Norman era. They're on horseback, I can make out three, four."
"Eight. Two up front, six following behind."
"This is where we split up."
"Stay put, they can't have seen us, we're in the shade and partly hidden by vegetation."
"That's why I've come here, to make contact, I can't learn their secrets if I hide from them. My eyesight's not as good as it was, can you make out any details on them? Are they using stirrups?"
"No, I don't think so."
"That means they're pre-Roman. Have they got bare legs?"
"Yes and arms too. They seem to be wearing some sort of skin camouflage with a deep bluish colour."
"Carter you can't possibly see all that."
"You can too!" And he handed her a small telescope.
"This is brilliant! We go back to the Iron Age and I take great care to be authentic and then what happens? A late twentieth century secret agent special effects junkie lands with me ... but this is interesting, they look like they are Iron Age. If I can just hold this steady enough. Yep, Celts, they're the guys for me."
"I don't think we should be in too much of a hurry ..."
"We, who said we? I came on this mission on my own. I don't want you around spoiling everything, so scram."
"We're sticking together. I'm head of security remember and I'm responsible for your safety."
"My safety! What about yours? You know what they'll do to you if they capture you? The same as you did to that preacher all those years ago when you were in the National Guard."
"National Guard, preacher, what are you talking about?"
"They won't give a shit about you being Klu Klux Klan!"
"You've got me all wrong."
"Like hell I have so you keep out of my way for the next four months!"
"Listen I can explain everything but you won't believe me."
"The Consultant told me about you, he said that all you do is make up stories about yourself so you come out good instead of bad."
"How do you know what he told you wasn't a story then?"
"Why should he lie?"
"Because he's like me, he's CIA."
"He isn't, he's a doctor."
"For God's sake woman are you that naïve! Look, I don't care what you think about me, what you want to believe about me, I'm not leaving you on your own and that's final."
"I ain't scared."
"I know you're not and I think you're a very brave person to do this and I respect your reasons for doing it but you're a woman on your own. You've said what they'll do to me but what do you think they'll do to you?"
"Rape me of course."
"And that doesn't concern you?"
"Last time that happened to you you spent six months in hospital but there aren't any hospitals here."
"How did you know that?"
"I know everything about you and that's why I'm not going to let you out of my sight. I don't know if the human race has got a future but if it has then you could be it. My job is to enable you to safely complete your mission and get you safely back to the future where you belong."
"I don't think I've seen that film."
"That's because it hasn't been made yet. We've got to live it first, they can make the film later."
"So you're my bodyguard?"
"But I'm in charge?"
"Would you lay down your life for me?"
"Well now you've got a chance to prove it. There's a guy standing directly behind you and he's aiming at us with a bow and arrow ..." Carter spun round and simultaneously unholstered his gun. Binns burst into laughter then sighed: "Carter, what am I going to do with you, you're like ... you're like a dog! Do you want to be my dog Carter, do you want to follow me around and sleep at my feet?"
"If it would keep you safe then yes."
"You mean it, don't you? Well there is a way but you wouldn't like it."
"Okay then. I'm not here on holiday, I'm here to do a job. I know in principle what I'm trying to do but don't know how I'll achieve it. All I know is that it will require me to make contact with and develop relationships with people. And in this society that will mean developing relationships with men. Do you get my meaning Carter, I don't want some lovesick Romeo following me around because all that would do would be to mess everything up. You understand?"
"So what am I to do with you?"
"I could be your servant."
"I'd be your mistress and you'd be my servant?"
"Try again. This is the Iron Age, this is pre-Rome, their society wasn't like ours. The differential, the gap, was miles wider, some had everything, some had nothing. This isn't America Carter, there's no freedom of speech because there's no media, there's no American dream of being a millionaire because there ain't no banks, there's no human rights because there's no democracy, there's no humanity because there's no Christianity. All you got is those at the top of the pile, those in the middle, those at the bottom. And those who aren't even at the bottom, who aren't even considered to be human, who are treated like domestic animals, and that's all they are and that's all they ever will be. You still don't understand, do you Carter?"
"You'll need to be at the top, perhaps some sort of priestess."
"But what about you Carter, what about you? In this World the sky can fall in and crush you."
"I'll protect you."
"Protect me! Don't you get it Carter, you're the one who needs protection. Who'll need somebody to hide behind. Because the only way you can hide is to be standing in someone else's shadow, is to be identified as part of someone else, to be identified as belonging to someone, to be owned by someone else so that your status is known and being known gives you a degree of protection."
"I'll be identified with you and that's what I want."
"You didn't listen to what I said. You can only be identified with me if you belong to me."
"But that's what I want."
"It's not a matter of what you want or your decision, it's got to be a matter of fact. Does a dog choose its owner?"
"But that's what our relationship would have to be like or it wouldn't ring true. I'd have to be your master and you'd have to be my dog. So what does that make you?"
Carter didn't answer, for the first time in his life he didn't know who he was, what he was for or what he was against.
"I don't need to spell it out, do I?" Sneered Binns.
"Don't look me in the eye Carter, only equals do that and you're not my equal. If you're disobedient or disloyal I'll punish you. You understand that, don't you? If I want conversation I'll instigate it otherwise you keep quiet but listen. Your eyes and ears belong to me. You must always be on your guard. Life's cheap here and you must always be ready to protect me. My personal safety is your priority and must come before your own. Understand?"
"It always was ..."
"I didn't ask for a speech. Just say yes or no unless I ask your opinion. Understand?"
"We'll stay here until tomorrow morning so you've got chores to do. I'll need food and a fire later on so we can put your Green Beret training to good use ... I don't know what you're going to do, make a bow and arrow or something ... use your imagination. I'm going to take a look around, if I need you I'll scream."
AFTER THE FLOOD
Mankind versus Nature or is it Nature versus mankind? Something else that has changed since my grandfather's time is the relationship between mankind and God which lies at the heart of religion. In fact with environmental concerns being at the heart of today's thinking, political or otherwise, we're returning to a concept of religion the Celts would have been familiar with: where God is equated with Nature. But in the Celts' time Nature was infinitely more powerful than mankind. Mankind was as insignificant as a flea on a dog and knew it without any shadow of a doubt on mankind's part. Mankind feared God or Nature; mankind was God-fearing. Just as people in general used to be God-fearing right up until well into the twentieth century. With our science and technology we forgot about the vagaries of the weather and the dangers of the sea. For the sea could let you earn your living, she could give you life, but she could also kill you.
And it would be nothing personal: you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Or was it? Mankind has a craving to be important: as individuals we lust to be in some way important and now for the first time in human history, recorded or otherwise, mankind is important. Mankind as a species is capable of committing suicide and falling off the evolutionary wave becoming extinct.
It's not a case of mankind destroying Nature or Nature destroying mankind, it's a case of mankind destroying ourselves. This is the promotion in our importance that we have awarded ourselves. We believe we now have control over our own destiny as a species of animal: to survive or to become extinct. That is the watershed at which we now stand.
Or do we? Nature gave us life, can we control Nature? Can mankind undo the work of God? Is one of us made important by an act of vandalisation? Is the nature of our insanity that importance is only importance if we are important at the expense of someone else, even if the someone else is our own life experience? Because that's why Nature's important: seven and a half thousand years ago the shallow seabed of the south of Pembrokeshire's Carmarthen Bay was a vast coastal plain of forests, animals and comparatively small numbers of Stone Age people. Then one day Nature changed the sea level and you can see the fossilised remains of the forest at Wiseman's Bridge, Amroth and Marros. So in a very human way Nature expressed her importance by destroying what she had formerly created and replaced it with something else.
But we are the creation of Nature so is Nature planning once more to change the sea level again? And in the Carboniferous limestone cliffs of Giltar there are fossil corals and the remains of wave cut platforms, together with ancient sand dunes on top of the cliffs with sea shells in them so that the sea level used to be not only higher but different heights at different epochs.
But this time is Nature using us as the mechanism whereas the cause in the past would have been an earthquake as continents collided or parted, an asteroid or a melting of glaciers? But one thing we know is that Nature doesn't stand still, only changes with time.
The sea level changes over time and we believe that we can with our pollution make that happen and raise the sea level. But if we can raise the sea level, can we lower it?
Carter disappeared into the undergrowth and Binns stepped out of the cave's entrance into the late afternoon's bright Sunshine of a fine late springtime's day. She decided to try and find a way onto the hillside above the cave and made her way through the trees. The floor of the wood was, then as now, thickly flowered with bluebells and the occasional clumps of primroses; the Sunlight playing through the canopy of the trees' leaves had a similar dazzling dappling effect to that of a light breeze on a deep blue calm sea. So magical was the effect that the first she realised that she was not alone was, on having reached her objective, she looked down to where Carter was busying himself then out of the corner of her eye noticed the balding back of a man's head who seemed to be intently spying on Carter.
She didn't feel afraid, she felt like she was coming home and gently whispered in Welsh "Shwmai" which in English means "Hello". The head looked right then left and right again, then settled its gaze downwards again. She repeated "Shwmai" again but this time a little louder and her face set in a broad smile as the man's head looked up at her and he smiled too.
"Hello to you too!" He grinned.
"I am Cleopatra, virgin Priestess of Isis, and who are you?" She enquired.
"A man for all seasons."
"And a man of mystery too."
"The mystery is mutual, tell me Priestess where are you from?"
"From across the sea to the eastward horizon of the rising Sun."
"You're nothing to do with them then?" And he pointed northwards to where could be seen the horsemen who appeared to be disappearing into the distance.
"No, I am alone apart from my Slave."
"Is that him down there?"
"Yes, his name is Carter and he is an eunuch."
"I wouldn't mind you as a mistress but I'd need my balls!"
"Do you mean that?"
He stood up and towered over her with his strong muscular frame: "With me, what you see is what you get."
She touched his arm and he bent it flexing his bulging biceps which she then squeezed: "When my task is accomplished I will have a choice, I can either return home to the east and die a virgin or stay here and find a husband. I like it here, the air is so clean with the saltiness of the sea and scents of wild flowers, and the land so green but do you think a woman of my age would easily find herself a man?"
"What a question to ask a poor man," he joked, "but what is your task?"
"You're not a Druid, are you?"
"No, I'm a Warrior."
"I hoped you'd say that," she teased, "but it also means you wouldn't understand even if I told you but I need to go to the Preseli Mountains."
"North, oh, that's difficult," his voice had sounded grave and now his face looked grave too: "Those horsemen are from the north, a raiding party, and funny buggers they are too. They're more religiously inclined than us southern folk."
"Don't you have Druids?"
"Oh they wander around with their poems and pints - that's what we have when they stay with us, we listen to their never ending poems and get pissed on mead. But the Preseli Mountains, that's where you'll find their wise men who I expect you want to see."
"Carter's trying to find me some food, do you think you could help him?"
"He's doing all right, he's found you some toadstools."
"I've got some mushrooms, magic mushrooms, would you like some?"
"Are they hallucinogenic?"
"That's why we call them magic."
"I thought so but I think the time for you to give me some of those is when my task is over and you give something else too since I have heard that their effect is also of an aphrodisiac property."
"Is your task that important?"
"In the east they think it is, I have travelled a long time to come here."
"Is he from the east too? Those are really strange animal skins he's wearing, I don't recognise them at all."
"He's from the west ... Oh look, there's a skylark."
The three of them sat around the campfire in the cave's entrance as the Warrior cooked the trout he'd caught in the River Ritec which flows below the mouth of Hoyle's Mouth Cave and into the sea near Tenby from under the South Beach. Though in those far off illiterate days of a few thousand years ago no one knows what names were used for the Ritec or any other feature geographical or manmade, and untamed the then navigable Ritec flowed to the sea through a marshland which formed its estuary; the remnants of which to this day are known as the Marshes.
Binns and the Warrior ate the fish and laughed and joked, then when they had finished he threw the scraps to Carter and ordered him to fetch water from the Ritec.
"Funny things Slaves ..." he put his arm around her and she snuggled up to him so he wrapped his cloak around them both: "Warm enough now?"
"That's lovely, I feel like I could stay here forever."
He coughed with embarrassment as her forearm rested across his aroused groin but she didn't seem to notice. "As I was saying, funny things Slaves. They see the same stars as we do ..."
"The stars are so beautiful and clear tonight. I can see the Great Bear, the Little Bear and Polaris just like I see them at home."
"They see the same stars as we do but with different eyes. You take your eunuch, he looks at you as if he's got something to lose."
"I expect he's just jealous, he's harmless really."
"But the mystery and imagination of Nature, on a clear calm night like tonight with a beautiful girl hot in your arms."
"Hot in your arms! What does that mean?"
"It means ... oh, look out No-Balls is back."
"No-Balls! You shouldn't make fun of him it's not nice. He's quite sweet really."
"You didn't eat his toadstools."
"And I didn't eat your mushrooms either."
In the morning they went to his settlement which was situated not far from present day Penally on the southern side of the Ridgeway in the lee of Giltar's cliffs below its Iron Age earthen fortification. They stayed there a few days with Binns as an honoured guest then the Warrior led them to the top of the Ridgeway, a glaciated range of hills which stretches parallel to the coast in an east-west direction almost as far as the Milford Haven Waterway; along the crest of which since Stone Age times was a track which nowadays is a narrow metalled road that allows panoramic views of sea, coastline and hinterland.
After walking for a couple of hours or so Binns and Carter rested at the highest point at a Stone Age burial mound near to where nowadays is an ordnance survey triangulation pillar and the house of the Rising Sun. To the north the skyline was dominated by the undulating curves of the Preseli Mountains.
Binns commented: "Well that's where we're going ... Carter ... Carter are you listening to me?"
"There's no one around so we can talk for awhile. The Warrior said for us to continue along here until we reach the Milford Haven Waterway but we'll be going west rather than north, what do you think?"
"The rivers would probably be the best way of penetrating into the interior. Trackways like this form part of their long distance transportation network. If we cut across country as the crow flies we'd be using short distance tracks which would inevitably lead to us encountering habitations and that could be dangerous. But since you knew before you left the twentieth century that you wanted to go to the Preseli Mountains why didn't you set up the time machine apparatus at a more convenient location? After all you knew that in the Iron Age there wouldn't be any cars."
"Two reasons. We needed a location that we could be confident about as to it being in a constant physical condition over the period of time that has elapsed since the Iron Age and Hoyle's Mouth Cave fitted that criteria on the basis of the archaeological evidence that it was inhabited by people in Stone Age times."
"You just said: since the Iron Age; we're in the Iron Age now."
"Precisely, the second reason being that when we first came to Tenby I had a dream of Tenby as a green-field site like it is now."
"And did your dreams come true?"
"Not exactly, but if time travel on a multi-generational scale were possible, which we've now proved but this was my reasoning when it was simply a theory, then how would memories be stored in the brain of the individual who underwent multi-generational time travel? Either sequentially as that individual lived its life or along the lines of a conventional view of memory in that in the future we remember things that happened to us in the past."
"I can remember things that happened in the future."
"So can I which is something the science fiction writers haven't considered, what we could describe as the Concept of Reverse Reincarnation."
"But what about the idea that if we travel back in time, as we've done, that you can somehow invalidate or corrupt the future?"
"A valid point which I think is somehow incorporated in that idea we had in the asylum of considering an individual's life experience as a wave function. Before the last few days then we would have described the wave function as having a lifetime consisting of a continuous period of time. But now, to that theory, our lives would be described as a wave function with a lifetime consisting of several discrete periods of time. So although to appearances we've gone back in time, to our own life experience we haven't."
"It all is but all it really means is that planet Earth in the Iron Age is inhabitable from the point of view of twentieth century humans whereas, of course, the Moon for instance would be as uninhabitable then as it is now."
"You did it again, how can we really be in the past if mentally we're still in the future?"
"Implicit in what you've said is a valued judgement that the future is superior to the past but, always remember Carter, we've come back to the past to learn."
"But what if we did something that affected the future?"
"That's what we're attempting to do. Part of your problem, and I've discussed this previously with the President and Baker when we set our Time Trap for the aliens, is the limitations of our language. We think in terms of past, present and future. We simply don't possess the vocabulary to think in terms of multiple pasts and futures."
"What about multiple presents?"
"The present is where the logic surfaces, the present is now. During the Second World War people in Tenby used to say that if you could count all the grains of sand on Tenby's South Beach then the war would be over. Now if you wanted to you could describe each of those grains of sand as a wave function to determine its position in time and space throughout its lifetime. But does it really matter? A grain of sand is a grain of sand, a human being is a human being. We've walked on Tenby's South Beach in the Iron Age and in the late twentieth century and doing so we've disturbed grains of sand. But just as there is a Tenby South Beach in the Iron Age so there is a Tenby South Beach in the late twentieth century. In other words, our presence here in the Iron Age is irrelevant with regard to the march of history and the socio-political development of mankind."
"What about the Moon, do you think the aliens are on the Moon now?"
"Interesting point but currently we have no evidence whatsoever on which to base any conclusions one way or the other."
"So if we died here we'd be reborn?"
"I wouldn't count on it. But anyway, do you like it here? I think it's lovely."
"Well if I was Cleopatra, the virgin Priestess of Isis who everybody likes then I would too. But being No-Balls her faithful eunuch of a Slave then I think it's lousy."
"Oh come off it, it's not too bad."
"As I said, for you it's not too bad but for me it's, well, so humiliating."
"Well you are a Slave I suppose."
"Suppose! I know I am. That old man wanted to have sex with me."
"Pork Sword was only being friendly!"
"It's all right you laughing but it was my bum he was after and not yours."
Binns lay on her back, smiling broadly with her eyes closed, lapping up the late morning Sun: "Even the grass seems greener, the sea bluer and the sky ... hey look Carter, look at those big birds."
"They're buzzards, a big bird of prey that feeds on mice and young rabbits. Over there, sitting on a branch of that stunted tree, is a peregrine falcon looking for the same sort of prey."
"Would you like to stay here and spend the rest of your life in this time?"
"As a Slave, you must be joking."
"After you saved that little girl from drowning her mother asked me if she could buy your freedom so that you could be her husband, she said that you were such a kind and brave man. I told her you were an eunuch but she said that she was a widow and didn't really want any more children but was looking for a man who'd be a good father to her kids. Quite a romantic story really but if I'd sold you to her she'd be in for quite a shock when she found out the truth about you." Binns was lying on her side with her head supported by the palm of her hand and seemed to be laughing at Carter who was starting to feel embarrassed by the way she was looking at him, she adjusted her clothing giving him a better view of her cleavage.
Carter changed the subject: "You were saying how things have changed, well something I've noticed is that all you see in the sky apart from the clouds and seagulls is nothingness. Just the atmosphere between us and outer space, there aren't any jet planes streaking across the sky, criss-crossing it with their vapour trails, as they travel between America and Britain and Europe."
Binns adjusted her clothing again revealing her thigh: "Have you noticed that anything else has changed?"
"There's no sound of traffic, no sound of the train or as I just mentioned, the planes. I get a greater appreciation of Nature: the sound of the sea, the wind in the trees, the songs of the birds, the smells of the countryside ..."
"But how about us?" And she rang the tip of her tongue between her teeth.
"I think we make a good team, we both appreciate the importance of our mission and the need for absolute security."
With the finger tips of her free hand she combed back the hair behind her right ear: "Back home everybody thinks we slept together that night I fell asleep in your arms."
"I know, a lot of people made innuendoes about it."
"Were you embarrassed?" She sat up and faced him with her arms around her shins and her face resting on her knees: "Did you deny it?" She pouted her lips.
"No ... why are you doing this to me?"
"Leading me on when you don't mean it."
"You're my Slave Carter I can do with you what I want. If I want to use you for sex then that's my concern and not yours."
"I think we'd better be on our way, we've got a fair distance to travel and ..."
"Stay where you are, remember what you are and who I am. I'll decide when we leave and for the time being we're going to stay here."
"This is silly."
"Silly, you dare insult your mistress. I could do anything I want to you. I could cut off your ears, slit your nose, put out your eyes and nobody would give a shit. Do you know why? Because you belong to me and as far as the World is concerned that's all that matters. You need to be taught a lesson for your insolence and next time someone asks my permission to use you for sex I might just agree."
"I don't know what I've done to deserve this."
"You implied that I was being silly. You can't do that, it's against the rules. I can call you names but you can't call me names."
"Oh I get it, you're not used to people talking straight to you, are you? It's always Professor Binns the friend and close intimate of the First Lady. You're so used to having your arse licked that you don't even realise it when someone's being honest with you."
"You're only jealous, because you're a nobody and I'm somebody. That's as true here as it was there."
"Oh I get it, that's what all this time travel is about. It's just a Cleopatra Binns ego trip. You know everything there is to know in the future and coming back here you'll know more than anyone else as well. Except for one thing: you don't know everything there is to know about the aliens' analog computer and that scares you. Because if in the future someone else cracks it they'll be more famous than you ..."
Binns looked serious and interrupted: "Okay Carter, I admit I've been at fault and I'm sorry that I've been so hard on you but, tell me this, why is it that when I do things that make people sit up and take notice then nasty things get said about me? Whereas when other people do things they get praise."
"I don't know."
"I do. My face doesn't fit. The first time I went to the White House one of the presidential aides mistook me for a janitor and even hit me!"
"Did you hit him back!!?"
"It's not funny Carter. Sometimes I feel like I don't exist. Things that I think are important mean absolutely nothing to anyone else."
"Perhaps that's why you're here now and not somebody else."
"Hmmm ... let's get moving. There's something that still worries me and it's how we were both able to get back this far in time when the time machine was only programmed for one of us."
"Did you find out why the aliens were investigating Pembrokeshire?"
"Same reason as we're here now. While you were away I talked with them and they'd been monitoring the Second World War and trying to understand what it was all about. They couldn't understand the rational that led to the great strides in mankind's understanding of science and technology to be used for self-destructive purposes. Instead of viewing it as warfare between sovereign states they came to the conclusion that what was being fought over were Britain's sacred sites. Call it lateral thinking or what you will but until us Americans came into the war it was very much a case of Britain being on the defensive but then the build up for D-Day began and they detected a lot of military activity around Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, Southern England, which is where Stonehenge is, around Oban on the West Coast of Scotland where there are numerous Iron Age sites and here in Pembrokeshire.
"In other words, their reading of events as they happened was very different to history as we write it. Also Britain was involved in the war in North Africa which they seemed to think was about the Egyptian Pyramids. They seem to have been investigating planet Earth for generations and observed how science and technology gradually developed. So to them the places where astronomy was born such as Pembrokeshire and ancient Egypt, and by places I mean the actual sites, have an almost mystical importance whereas to our thinking those places are of mere historical interest only. To them the most important figure in human history is Neil Armstrong."
"How do they rate you?"
She laughed: "They were very surprised to meet me but seemed to take it as meaning something along the lines of a meeting of equals was taking place. It's quite a mind numbing experience to meet people to whom, well to whom someone like Elvis Presley is of minor importance compared to someone like me."
"Wasn't he named after the Preseli Mountains?"
"Was he? I certainly don't know anything about that but I found I had a lot in common with them, and they were very enthusiastic about Harvard's University of the Environment in Pembrokeshire and readily agreed to join the science faculty's department of analog computing as research associates in the first instance."
"So you think you fit in better on the Moon and in the Iron Age than you do on planet Earth at the end of the twentieth century?"
"Frankly, yes. Let's stop a minute. Now if you look towards the southern horizon then in the distance you can see Lundy Island beyond which lies the English coast, part of which you can just about make out further to the east before the line of sight leads you to Worm's Head and the Gower Peninsula. Now prior to the Iron Age, in the Bronze Age or perhaps even the late Stone Age, they transported dressed stone pillars of volcanic Dolerite, what are known as the Preseli Bluestones, from the Preseli Mountains to Stonehenge across the sea in England.
"Now we can see the Preseli Mountains to the north of us and from here we can actually see where they were quarried. The peak to the west is known as Foel Eryr and the one to the east is Foel Cwm Cerwyn which is also known as Preseli Top since it is the highest point of the Preseli Mountains. Then to the east of Foel Cwm Cerwyn we have Foel Drygarn which in the twenty-first century will be a very well preserved Iron Age hilltop fortification, then just to the west of that is where the Bluestones were quarried.
"I read a book calledOpen Secrets by Piet Brinton and Roger Worsley (and published by the Gomer Press of LLandysul, Wales) and in it the authors point out that when Bluestones are polished they actually look like the night sky, the Dolerite is a dark bluish colour with white spots in it. Now if we think about it we operate to a frame of reference where the Earth is a planet which has its place in a solar system, in a galaxy, in a universe; in brief we believe the World is round. But what is the frame of reference to which the Iron Age intelligentsia of the Druids, and presumably their predecessors, think?
"Obviously they may believe the World is essentially flat and that there are, say, four natural elements or categories of material out of which the Universe is constructed; perhaps land, water, sky and fire. According to folklore some South Sea Islanders believe that the Moon was originally part of the Earth with the Pacific Ocean being formed when the Moon came into being. A theory which nowadays is taken seriously yet would have occurred aeons before the appearance of mankind and at a time when the Earth would presumably have been inhospitable to life of any description whatsoever at all. The point being that through observation those South Sea Islanders have invented a cosmology which establishes their place in the Universe and forms the foundation stone of their identity.
"Now the authors ofOpen Secrets believe that this similarity of appearance between the night sky and Dolerite is what makes Preseli Bluestones of such mythical importance. But I would go a step further and consider their cosmological importance. Perhaps the Druids believe that the fabric of the Universe is essentially Preseli Bluestones?"
"You mean that what we look up at night, which we believe is essentially a vacuum but know it isn't then they'd believe it was a great dome of Preseli Bluestones, sort of like the World is encased in Preseli Bluestones?"
"Now the Preseli Bluestones are Dolerite which is an igneous rock which, unlike say a lava flow, has solidified far below the Earth's surface only now being exposed due to the effects of erosion. Presumably the agent of erosion being glaciation the effects of which are easily observable, self-evident, in Pembrokeshire. So thinking on the highest level, in terms of their cosmology, they may believe that the Universe consists of Preseli Bluestones with the World somehow encapsulated in that Universe and supported on a column of Preseli Bluestones. Hence the Preseli Mountains not only would have an astronomical importance, from an observational point of view, but a cosmological importance of literally being the Centre of the Universe.
"The Centre of the Universe since if we consider the evolution of cosmological thought on Earth it goes like this: the traditional view being that the World is the Centre of the Universe; it's flat and Life, including mankind, is created. Our modern scientific view is that the World isn't the Centre of the Universe, it's round and Life evolves over time. But even so there is a creationist element in Darwin's theory of evolution since if Life is a natural phenomena then presumably there is an initial first step to be taken which is easily replicable - simply a natural phenomena of Nature.
"The traditional view attributes the driving force, or energy, behind the Universe to a God or divine entity. Whereas our modern scientific philosophy is to identify that God with Nature which is believed to be, and the memoirs of Julius Caesar support this from when he led Roman expeditions to Britain in 55BC and 54BC, the philosophy of the Druids; though, obviously, in general terms. So the conclusion I'm coming to is that us and them are operating on similar wavelengths."
"Except you believe the World is round and they believe it's flat. So be careful, remember what happened to Galileo when he challenged the dogma of the religious authorities in the sixteenth century."
"I take your point but we're here not to preach but to learn and by the time we return to the future cosmological thought could well have evolved from its present state. But, anyway, they transported the Preseli Bluestones from the Preseli Mountains in Wales either by land or by sea to Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, which lies inland on Salisbury Plain.
"Accepted philosophy is that they went by sea so minimising distances to be travelled over land. In which case the Preseli Bluestones would have been journeyed over land from where they were quarried to the sources of the Eastern Cleddau River. Probably not far from a stone circle known as Gors Fawr which I imagine is a site we could well visit once we reach the Preseli Mountains. Then down the Eastern Cleddau to near Canaston Bridge where it is joined by the Western Cleddau which runs through Haverfordwest. But that's besides the point, the two rivers then form the Daugleddau which is Welsh for two-Cleddau, I would have said two-Cleddaus but that doesn't really sound right presumably since Welsh words are designed to have changes to their ends rather than beginnings. The Daugleddau in turn flows into the Milford Haven Waterway, though throughout its course it's of a tidal nature, the Welsh name for the Milford Haven Waterway being Aberdaugleddau; literally meaning the mouth of the Daugleddau.
"In fact there is something overtly sexual about the geography of Pembrokeshire, Carter. If you use your imagination then the Preseli Mountains viewed from here in the deep south almost have the shape of a woman's breasts, then the Western Cleddau and the Eastern Cleddau are like her fallopian tubes leading to her vagina of the Milford Haven Waterway. How would you like to be a supertanker going to one of the oil refineries Carter, do you think you'd find it a sexual experience?"
Carter laughed: "There you go again, making fun of me!"
"No, I'm not. I might be completely crazy but I'm trying to make sense of all this just as the aliens were. Why transport the Preseli Bluestones all the way from the Preseli Mountains in Pembrokeshire, West Wales, to Stonehenge in Southern England? I mean there must be a reason and they did identify in their religion God with Nature. Perhaps there was some mystical meaning wrapped up in it all that made sense to them ... well, just as playing an Elvis Presley record makes sense to us. In other words, all this mightn't be of Earth shattering importance it might just be people being people and doing what, in their time, would be considered as normal human behaviour."
"So travelling back in time to the Iron Age may be a wasted journey?"
"Not to me, I'm a scientist. Carter, you and I are embarked on the greatest voyage of discovery since Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. Perhaps we should think of the humps of the Preseli Mountains not as her breasts but as her ovaries. What do you think Carter? So her babies, the Preseli Bluestones are transported, born, through her vagina of the Milford Haven Waterway then across the sea to Southern England - past the Gower Peninsula then across the Bristol Channel and up the River Avon then across land to Stonehenge."
"What does that make Stonehenge then?"
"Perhaps the voyage, the journey taken by the Preseli Bluestones, could be compared to a life experience, a rites of passage, part of a lifetime from birth to puberty, so that Stonehenge signifies some sort of marriage or new start in life."
"If you want a new start in life then perhaps Stonehenge as a womb into which are introduced Preseli Bluestones as the seed of the Preseli Mountains?"
"Something like that ... but that's the way we have to start thinking if we're going to figure them all out. But even so it's hard to imagine how they could have transported all those large stones all that distance across a stretch of sea which has strong ocean currents and dangerous lee shores. The tidal range of the Bristol Channel has the second biggest magnitude in the World being second only to the Bay of Fundy in Canada."
"They'd have had to make the journey in stages but, when you think about it, since we arrived here we haven't seen any ships, boats or rafts on the sea at all. I half expect to see a modern-day coastal oil tanker or inshore trawler or some sort of tourist pleasure craft but we've seen nothing at all. If they did it in stages then they'd need safe anchorages, either that or head straight out to sea then go back and forth with the tides on a prevailing south-westerly wind to provide sail power."
"And if you got it wrong then the sea would sweep you straight out into the oblivion of the Atlantic Ocean and Davy Jones' Locker."
"But why would an analog computer like Stonehenge need Preseli Bluestones to make it work?"
"Excellent Carter! The explanation could be cosmological. To make our digital computers work we have to plug them into an electrical supply which is an expression of our economy, of science and technology, and ultimately of our cosmological philosophy. Perhaps to them incorporating Preseli Bluestones into Stonehenge plugged it into the Cosmos in line with their cosmological thinking?"
"You mean like a pair of jeans isn't really a pair of jeans unless it's Levi's, a beefburger McDonald's and to be the real thing it has to be Coca-Cola!"
Carter and Binns carried on walking, the Ridgeway trackway eventually reaching a fork which meant they either walked northwards towards the Preseli Mountains or carried on westwards; Binns: "The Warrior said we should take the north turning here. If we carried on westwards we'd come to a place which in the future will be known as Lamphey and has the ruins of a Norman palace, or fortified mansion, of the Bishops of Saint David's where Elizabeth the First's toy-boy, Robert Devereux the Earl of Essex, grew up."
A mile or so further along the track again forked: "Now we carry on westwards towards the Milford Haven Waterway ... While you were away in America I made an interesting discovery in Tenby's Museum. During the sixteenth century a Tenby man called Robert Recorde invented the concept of the Equals Sign and, in fact, we still use the symbol of two short lines which he instigated.
"If you think of how we program our modern digital computers then it's based on the concept of flowcharts in which testing for equality is the underlying principle. So it's quite neat that in the south of the county foundations for digital computing techniques were laid whilst in the north, with the Preseli Bluestones and the stone circles, foundations for analog computing were similarly laid."
"So your new university will be building on a strong academic tradition?"
"Certainly looks that way but then with its foundation all we're really doing is plugging into the lifeforce of the Universe too ... From here we can see the Daugleddau, now if you follow the line of sight you can see what looks like a rock pinnacle: well that's known as Treffgarne Mountain near a place called Wolf's Castle, and in a nearby farmhouse was born in 1354 the greatest hero in Welsh history, the legendary Owain Glyndwr.
"Then in 1682 was born, a few miles to the north-east at a place known in Welsh as Castell Newydd Bach or in English as Little Newcastle ... castell - castle, newydd - new, bach - little ... get it! ... a pirate called Bartholomew Roberts who invented the pirate flag of a skull and crossbones known as the Jolly Roger. Jolly Roger is a bastardisation of his sarcastic French nickname Joli Rouge since he was polite to his victims and always dressed in red - which is why even today the Welsh rugby team sports red shirts!"
"It's like we're going on a pilgrimage, but instead of to Saint David's to the Preseli Mountains and the Preseli Bluestones."
"Could be the same thing: simply the transference of pagan beliefs to the Christian era. But going back to Robert Recorde, he made the first translation into English of the works of the ancient Greek scholar Euclid who wrote about trigonometry. So perhaps Recorde and us are following the same trail!"
"But he hasn't been born yet!"
"That's why I'm thinking of establishing in my new university a new subject area or academic discipline, along the lines of a polymath approach to study the evolutionary nature of the paradigms of human thought."
"What will you call it?"
MILFORD HAVEN WATERWAY
"I'm telling you that there are only seven!"
"No you're not, there's eight!"
Carter and Binns had arrived, to use modern terminology, at Hobbs' Point in Pembroke Dock (a town which grew around a now closed down Royal Navy dockyard) opposite Neyland (a town which grew around a now closed down terminus for Wales' railways). Where, prior to the opening of the Cleddau Bridge in 1976, there was a ferry across the Milford Haven Waterway since time immemorial. The two men were arguing about the number of dressed stone plinths which had been beached on rafts at the high water mark.
"Now watch my lips: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven!"
"Listen, brain of Stonehenge: one, two, three, four, six, seven, eight!"
"You've left out five!"
"Five, what are you talking about, what's five?"
"How many fingers you got?"
"Same as everyone else, eleven."
"Of course, how many you got?"
"Hold out your hands ... you haven't, you got eleven like everybody else."
"Yes, but you keep forgetting five!"
"I don't know what you're talking about, five? What's that woman and that bloke doing? ... Hey you! Clear off! That's the sacred property of the Druids."
Binns answered: "I'm sorry, I was just admiring them, you certainly do an excellent job of work."
"Why thank you young lady. Hey, I know who you are, you must be Cleopatra the virgin Priestess of Isis who the Druids told us about. They said you was a smashing bit of stuff and they weren't half wrong ... Ooops!" And he clasped his hand over his mouth.
Binns smiled demurely: "Were you expecting me?"
"We didn't know for certain, the Druids told us to give you safe passage and every assistance necessary for the completion of your journey if you were to pass this way."
"Tell me, these are Preseli Bluestones, aren't they?"
"Hmmm ... well it's no good lying to an international virgin Priestess who undoubtedly has powers of second sight and, well, yes they are."
"Where are you taking them?"
"You'll be getting me into hot water young lady, this is a top secret project with security classification ..." He paused, then whispered in a hushed voice: "For Druids' eyes only!"
"Let me guess, Stonehenge."
The other man gasped in amazement: "How the hell could you know that?"
"I told you," gybed the other, "she's got second sight, all internationally famous virgin Priestesses have that. I'm the Daugleddau Pilot and have been transporting these stones here from the Preseli Mountains, and this here is the River Avon Pilot who's to navigate them from here and through the Milford Haven Waterway to the open sea, around Worm's Head and the Bristol Channel to the River Avon then right up to as close as possible to Stonehenge."
Binns addressed the River Avon Pilot: "And with what kind of ship do you propose to do that?"
"You tell me, it's the craziest idea I've ever heard of."
"Well why did you take the contract then?" Interrupted the Daugleddau Pilot.
"Wasn't my idea, it was the gaffer's. The Druids are holding an international shipbuilding competition to come up with a suitable design. We only put in for the pilotage contract and were most surprised when we got it, after all we only put in a bid to keep in with the Druids."
"Crafty devils those Druids, they are heavily into what they call the flexible labour market of human resource management and competitive tendering. The reason you got the contract was because nobody else wanted it."
"We weren't cheap!"
"Bastards ... But perhaps you can help us with a problem we've got. I say there are seven Preseli Bluestones but our friend here says eight. What do you think?"
"Well to the calculating system we use in the east I would have to say seven."
"See, told you!" Jeered the River Avon Pilot: "Forgot five, didn't you!"
"I've never heard of five!" He asked Binns: "What is five?"
"It's the number between four and six."
"Well I wish somebody had told me that before. We must have left one behind, we'll have to go all the way back up to the Preseli Mountains now."
"No need to hurry," laughed the River Avon Pilot. "They haven't told us the raft's design yet and it's not going to be built in five minutes."
"Still, better leave first thing in the morning on the flood tide then if there has been a cock up they won't be able to claim we've tried to cover it up." He spoke to Binns: "You can come with us if you like. Rafting beats walking and that Slave of yours looks a strong lad so you'd be helping us too. What's his name?"
"Thank you and I'm pleased to accept your invitation. His name is Carter."
The River Avon Pilot joked: "We used to have a first mate called Carter who farted a lot so we made up a rhyme about him: the first mate's name was Carter, by God he was a farter, so when the wind didn't blow, and the ship wouldn't go, we'd call on Carter the farter to start her!"
"An eunuch who is not an eunuch and a virgin Priestess. I must admit that I am intrigued. Would you care to illuminate?" Quizzed the Old Druid.
Although their cover was blown Binns didn't feel particularly at threat: "I was sent here to be of help to you."
"Of help to us. This is what you say but how could you possibly be of help to us? To be blunt, although to appearances you've been extremely well blessed by Nature you're what is commonly known as a bimbo or an airhead or something equally vulgar. And some would say rather too Worldly in demeanour to be taken seriously for a ..."
"Should you require assistance with your mathematical difficulties then I am instructed to attempt to be of assistance."
The Old Druid was shocked: "What mathematical difficulties!!?" Then composed: "My dear, who on Earth could you have been talking to?"
"Why else would you be expending so much on research and development to improve your observational facility at Stonehenge?"
The Old Priest was cornered: "There is much you know which you shouldn't know but which you could not invent."
Binns laughed: "That's the way of the World, one man's secret is another man's key. My superiors are proposing a joint venture, a pooling of resources. In the first instance I'm here to be of assistance but only to assess as to whether or not we could be of more material assistance."
"And why should your superiors be so kind?"
"You're improving your observational facilities at Stonehenge but in doing so you could consider your observatories throughout the British Isles in Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland to act as one giant observatory. The reason you're doing this is because you've discovered mathematical difficulties in predicting the motions of the planets, particularly Mercury, which we are familiar with too. So we have two possible scenarios of the future. Either we conduct an observatory race such as what is in effect happening now, where you're building a bigger and better Stonehenge and we're improving our facilities too. Or we have a combined approach and work together. So we end up with an extremely powerful observatory which spans the Mediterranean Sea and the western approaches of the Atlantic Ocean from Britain to Egypt."
The Old Druid looked and sounded shocked with awe: "Such a proposal would not be without its political repercussions. Personally, and from a scientific point of view, I would find such intercourse to be extremely appealing," and he paused for a moment as his eyes' gaze seemed to descend momentarily from Binns' face. "It would be the greatest observatory ever created, the repercussions of which would be impossible to even imagine, it would be ... it would be the dawn of a new age!!?"
Binns laughed: "All we're proposing is a pooling of resources, a combined research programme and the sharing of results. As Scientists it's perhaps fair to assume that you and I can understand and appreciate the commonsense implicit in the proposition. But, as you point out, there are political repercussions and if your politicians feel that such a scientific partnership is not acceptable to their agenda then when I return I'll simply report that."
"Which returns us to the problem of your eunuch Slave who is not an eunuch. Who is Carter?"
"He's my Bodyguard."
"Ah! That makes sense. A beautiful woman travelling alone, even if she were a virgin Priestess, would be extremely vulnerable. But one man isn't an army so presumably he must be highly skilled in the military arts?"
"Yes, he's a high ranking Officer in our military establishment." Volunteered Binns eagerly.
"Oh dear, I wish you hadn't said that. With your pedigree I can understand why you would fail to comprehend the seriousness of your words. But, nevertheless, you place me in an extremely difficult position for it has already been suggested by our military that you are in fact Spies and, obviously, with Carter's true identity now revealed the military's suspicions are fulfilled."
Binns was astonished: "Spies!!? Why would we want to spy on you?"
"The strength of our army and fortifications would spring to one's mind, don't you think?"
Binns laughed: "Oh you've got us all wrong, we're not interested in invading you, we want to enter into a scientific dialogue which would be mutually beneficial."
He reassured: "I don't doubt your sincerity young lady but perhaps you are a sacrificial victim to the ambitions of others? In different circumstances Carter could have visited us as a Trader or Merchant but then his opportunities to freely roam our lands and visit at first hand our fortifications would have been extremely limited. Carter places you in a very difficult position and myself too since I share your secret."
Binns felt a surge of excitement at the direction the conversation, or interrogation, was leading; she touched his hand: "Is it possible for our secret to remain a secret so that in the autumn Carter and I would be able to return unharmed from whence we came?"
The Old Druid seemed taken aback: "My dear, I cannot put my own desires before the good of society!"
Binns was blunt: "Why not, everyone else does? You and I are both Scientists, we both know that this society is merely a transition between the past and the future, a stepping stone on the road to eternity, and if you visited my home there are things you'd find different but others which are the same. Surely what is important is the future for there lies the destiny of mankind?"
"I fear your religion is very different from my own."
"It's not, at the end of the day what it's all about is the freeing of the human spirit, the right of each of us as individuals to fulfil our potential as human beings."
"But that's anarchy, what we need is a well ordered society where each of us as individuals know our place."
"Bullshit! If people were like that we'd still be living in Hoyle's Mouth Cave."
"Precisely, man has left the shadows of the bowels of the Earth and now lives in the Sunlight of the peaks of mountains and it is only the strength of a well ordered hierarchical society where each knows his place," he looked pointedly at Binns, "and her place, that enables us to do that."
Binns was furious: "What you're saying is that in your society I wouldn't be a Scientist ... I'd be a Housewife!!?"
"Well let me tell you ..."
"No!" He thundered: "Let me tell you! You will not be returning to your homeland in the autumn and neither will Carter." He pulled back the animal skin that acted as a curtain over the doorway of the hut. "For the time being you will remain here and for your own safety I would advise you not to attempt to escape otherwise I will not be able to guarantee your safety, either of your life or of your virginity whichever it is that you place the highest value on."
"What about Carter?"
"I can't," pleaded Binns. "You see, I'm ... I'm ... I'm betrothed to him."
"Yes," nodded Binns: "Why we came here, we wanted to marry but because of my religious vows we couldn't. We thought that if we came here we could try and start our lives again, as man and wife."
"Why didn't you then?" He quickly asked.
He was inviting Binns to find a way out and she knew it: "Because ... because we wanted to do it properly, we wanted to marry first."
"You wanted to be a virgin on your wedding night?"
"Yes, that's right." She uttered demurely.
He was all kindness: "Well, my child, well you were sent to us in peace and love after all."
"Well I think you're senile," sneered the General.
"Why shouldn't she want to marry the man she loves?" Voiced a misty eyed Old Druid.
"Because she's a virgin Priestess. If she wanted to be a Housewife why did she undertake her religious vows?"
"Because she fell in love!" Sighed the Old Druid.
"So she turns her back on her family, on her home, on her country, on her religion."
"No, she's a Scientist. She'd be a very valuable addition to our society. Having discussed the mathematical motions of the heavens with her then I would advise that there are things we would be able to learn from her."
"Such as the stupidity in devoting so much of our resources in time, money and men on Stonehenge rather than our conventional defences."
"Now commander I have to disagree with that and we're both aware that the Stonehenge project has met with approval at all levels of our society, everyone knows that sacrifices will have to be made and everyone excepts the need for those sacrifices and are willing to make them."
"And since the Stonehenge project first started the price has gone up and up. Now we're having to finance a shipbuilding programme to transport Preseli Bluestones from here in the Preseli Mountains to Stonehenge. That wasn't in the original budget."
"You can't finance an on-going research and development project like this on a fixed price basis. There are bound to be modifications to take into account advances in science and technology hence the need for it be financed on a costs plus basis."
The General was angry: "Now let's get one thing straight. When you Druids first put forward the Stonehenge project you said you needed to make improvements to the observatory on the grounds of national security but you didn't specify what exactly you were proposing."
"No one asked us," answered the Old Druid smugly.
"Well how could we have an open debate when you said that national security was at stake! I'll tell you what it is, religion gone mad that's what it is, religion gone mad pure and simple."
"Go slower!" Laughed Binns.
"I can't, if we go any slower the horse will be practically walking."
"You pig!" Binns thumped him in the side then retightened her grip around his waist.
"When we're married you'll be too busy to go riding, except at night that is, you'll be too busy fetching water and firewood, preparing food, making clothes, boiling water and when we have kids you'll wonder why you ever stopped being a virgin Priestess in the first place."
"I'll know why, because I love you."
Carter reigned in his horse and dismounted, he looked up at her staring into her eyes: "You said you loved me."
"Well I'm going to marry you, aren't I?"
"But I thought you were going to marry me because you had to."
"Carter, you know the score as well as me. If the project goes according to plan then we'll be rescued before the wedding takes place. If something nasty happened on Earth and human life as we know it has come to an end then we'll have to go through with the marriage ceremony whether we like it or not, otherwise ..." and she drew a thumb across her throat.
"So you're not marrying me because it's what you really want?"
"Well if you imply by that that I want the human race to cease to exist then no I don't."
"If we get rescued would you still be prepared to marry me?"
She looked up towards the waning Moon which was high in the morning sky: "We've discussed that before and what we agreed was that if you gave me the Moon I'd be your wife."
"So you don't love me then?"
"Look Carter, I'm not a child and neither are you. You've been married before and I haven't but then I've never been particularly interested in my career coming second place to being a Housewife. You want me to be somebody I'm not and you said as much when you asked me to marry you. You said I reminded you of her and that was why you wanted me to marry you. You don't want to marry me because I'm me and you never said you did so what makes you think ..."
"But I was lying ..."
"I know you were, that's what I'm trying to tell you, you don't love me, you love her, you love a dead woman."
"But she never existed, I made her up."
"And your kids too?"
"God, you're sick! I don't think I've ever heard anything so disgusting in all my life and it just goes to show what a low opinion you have of me. You couldn't face me being me, you had to pretend I was someone else!"
"It wasn't like that," pleaded Carter: "I was trying to find a way ..."
"You thought that you were giving me an excuse to give myself to you. You can't handle it that someone with my background wouldn't want you. Well I don't want you, and I never did, and I'll tell you something else. Rescue or no rescue the wedding's off."
"What are you saying my dear?" Asked the perplexed and distressed Old Druid.
"I told you the wedding's off, I don't want to marry Carter."
"But why this sudden change of heart?"
"Well what's Carter got to offer me? He's a lot older than me, he's poor, what sort of lifestyle would we have, and if kids come along things would only get worse. All I'll end up as is as a widow with young kids living off charity."
"But what is to become of you? You can't be a Druid, we're all male. I'm afraid you'll have to marry Carter, there's no other choice."
"There is, I could marry someone else."
"Would you like me to talk to him, perhaps there's something you inadvertently did to upset him."
"Me upset him, you must be joking, I wouldn't marry him for all the tea in China."
"Tea? China? You speak words of which I have no knowledge as to their meanings. But, do I detect a nervousness on your part of a nuptial nature?"
"Don't be ridiculous."
"I will speak with Carter so that he will understand your fears but I think you misjudge him ..."
"Of the wedding night."
"Shit," muttered Binns: "I've come all this way and all I find is an agony aunt."
"So what made you change your mind?" Asked Carter.
"I said I'd go through with it and I will."
"But only if we're not rescued?"
"Well obviously, that goes without saying."
"I'd hoped it would have been what you wanted."
"For God's sake don't start down that road again. But what pisses me off is that I was coming back here on my own."
"I couldn't let you do that."
"I realise that but don't you realise that that's what I wanted. I wanted me to be me. Instead I'm part of someone else: you. And what started off as a magical experience is getting boring and the reason it's getting boring is because you're boring. You're the most boring person I've ever met in my life!"
"You didn't always think like that, you told the Consultant that you liked me because I was interesting to talk with."
"I was a somebody then but I'm a nobody now."
"You're not, you're my intended and in a couple of months we'll be married. At least that's what everybody thinks and what they say is that once I've broken you in ..."
"Broken me in?"
"Once our wedding night is over with then you'll ..."
"And until then I've got to put up with everybody making fun of me and laughing behind my back."
"Well it's your own fault, you made up all those crazy stories."
"Role reversal, that's what it is ... we've changed places, that's what's happened. Instead of everyone respecting me and making fun of you it's gone the other way round. And because of that the project has gone down the tubes: mathematics and science is men's work."
"I've never said that."
"I know you haven't but you think it."
"I don't want you to be somebody you're not. You be you because that's the woman I love."
"Carter we're living in a society that has deepset demarcation lines and it's either a case of me adapting to it or it adapting to me. And I can't take on the World on my own, I'm not strong enough."
"You are, you've got me."
"And who are you? A nobody. You couldn't promise me nothing in our own World and you've got even less to offer me in this."
"Cleopatra!" Called out the General as he approached on his horse the outcrop of rocks on which Binns was sitting: "Just the person I wanted to see, have you got a minute?"
Binns was sat hunched up with her elbows on her thighs and her face framed by the palms of her hands; she looked the essence of misery: "I've got all the time in the World, I've got forever, how can I help you?"
As he dismounted he said: "You look troubled my lovely, why you've been crying, has anyone been troubling you?"
"No ..." and she started to sob hiding her face in the palms of her hands.
The General smiled in a self-satisfied way and sat besides her, putting his arm around her waist and holding her close to him he whispered in her ear: "Now, now, cariad, have a good cry and then if you like you can tell me all about it;" and kissed her cheek.
Binns dissolved into tears and he comforted her, his hands making small gentle movements as he voiced whispers of comfort.
She regained her composure: "I'm sorry, I shouldn't burden you with my own concerns which are as nothing to the responsibilities you have."
"Who knows, what concerns you could one day trouble us all."
They were still sitting close with his arm around her and he gently squeezed her shoulder: "It's no good spouting words of science to an ignorant old soldier like me ... but tell me what it means?"
"I'm sorry, chaos theory, it's how everything is interlinked so that, say, a butterfly, like that blue one over there, flapping its wings on a beautiful still summer's afternoon like this afternoon, then the disturbance it makes in the atmosphere will over time be magnified to produce a great gale force storm."
"So two young men from different tribes having a drunken brawl, or a fight over a beautiful young woman like yourself, could cause a war between neighbours, which could result in rape, pillage and death?"
"Exactly, the disturbance in the beginning and catastrophe the result."
"So you were crying because you knew that that butterfly was going to cause a great storm in which anyone unfortunate enough to be in a ship on the sea would be drowned?"
"No, I was being silly, I was crying for myself."
"Oh, I understand."
"No you don't. Everybody makes fun of me because you all think I'm frigid but what started off as a magical mystical romantic adventure has turned sour. Once upon a time I had my own life, I was important, people listened to what I had to say and asked me for my opinion but now, well what is there for me? The Druids won't talk to me about science and mathematics anymore, that's men's work and I'm a woman so it's much too important for me to be involved in. I told them what their problems were about even before they fully understood their difficulties themselves. But oh no, it doesn't count because I'm a woman, they've got to come up with their solution to their problem and I'm relegated to the dustbin of history and doomed to spend the rest of my life as an unpaid Slave for Carter."
"Life doesn't have to be like that. A beautiful woman like you could marry anyone she pleased."
Binns laughed: "I'm not beautiful, the reason everyone here thinks I'm beautiful is because I've got a different complexion. Where I come from I'm by no means unique and your blonde headed daughter would be considered beautiful."
"But you're not at home, you're here and beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all my eyes see is beauty, the beauty of an Earth Goddess ..."
He was making to kiss her lips and she pushed him away: "General, get off me!"
He squeezed her to him: "You're not frigid, I don't believe it."
"If you don't let me go I'll scream rape ... I mean it, now back off!"
They sat apart: "I'm sorry but I was just attempting to explain to you that you don't have to marry Carter. Personally, I'd prefer it if you married into our tribe, your intellect would improve our pedigree."
Binns laughed and squeezed his cheek: "You're so corny General, you'll be saying next that you love me for my mind. You know, people don't alter much the World over. A man takes a fancy to a woman but he can't come straight out and say what he wants, so he's got to dress it up in fancy words so as to make pretend that he's got no ulterior motive."
"But when I said I loved you for your beauty you repulsed me."
"I told you, where I come from I'm not beautiful."
"Well they must have eyes which can't see the stars in the night sky, the Moonbeams on the dark ocean, the deepset reds of a fine Sunset ..."
"You must have been quite a ladies' man when you were younger."
"Younger, who do you think is younger, Carter or I?"
"Carter of course."
"Are you certain of that, how old has he told you he is? I'd wager him to be on the wrong side of fifty and you're young enough to be his daughter. In all honesty I'd advise you to marry a younger man or a rich older man, but not as old as Carter, like me. To paraphrase an old adage: is it better to be a rich man's darling or a poor man's Slave?"
"Marry you, what are you proposing?"
"The last two summers we've had bad harvests, if there's a third then there'll be famine, there'll be war. I dare say Carter is a brave man and in his younger days a great Warrior but fighting battles is a young man's game. When you get older you bruise easier, you feel the knocks more, you start to worry about getting seriously hurt or something bad happening to you and having responsibilities doesn't help either. But Carter would have to fight, we all would, but he'd be in the front line and I wouldn't; he'd be in what we call the ranks of death. Besides I'm a rich man and there'd always be the support of my family if anything happened to me. If anything happened to Carter, well you and your cripple would end up as charity cases; you could even be expelled into no man's land as a drain on our resources: then you'd wander around until you became a victim of hunger, the weather, wild animals or some wandering murderer."
"I understand what you're getting at but it's not just all that, it's the change in lifestyle that frightens me. All my life I've worked as a Scientist but I'm expected to give up my work and spend the rest of my life as if, I know this sounds condescending, but as if I'm brain dead."
"The Old Druid advised us to let you live here on the grounds that your mathematical training and scientific experience would mean you had a worthwhile contribution to make to our community but you say now that the Druids don't involve you in their work. What do you think about their plans for Stonehenge?"
"I don't think they've thought it out properly. All they're really doing is rehashing a previous solution to a problem they don't understand."
The General laughed: "Well I'm not surprised they don't involve you, what you've said is rather tactless."
"It's not a matter of tact, it's about being right or wrong, it's about the truth."
"I must admit I've had my doubts about it too. This idea of incorporating Preseli Bluestones into Stonehenge was originally conceived and put into action a long time ago now. A long time before living memory, the Druids could give you a more accurate time fix but we're talking about something in the order of many hundreds of years ago. And as far as I can see they seem to be saying that if we adopt the same approach as our ancestors then all will come good. But I can't honestly say that it's ever made a lot of sense to me because whenever questions are asked in order to justify the vast expenditure in terms of time, money and manpower we always get the same response: it's in the interests of national security and we wouldn't understand the mathematics of it anyway. So I must admit I find it very interesting that you should have your doubts too."
"I haven't got doubts, I've got certainties. They simply don't possess the necessary mathematical knowledge in order to even attempt to understand what they're trying to do. They realise that something is wrong and that's all. So they believe that if they increase the size and complexity of Stonehenge then they'll automatically find a solution to their problems and this is where they are going wrong. They don't even understand the mathematics behind the motions of the Sun, Moon and planets that they now observe and the mathematical understanding needed to describe the problems with Mercury's orbit are even more complicated and would need an entirely new paradigm of the understanding of physics. And, anyway, with their observatories it's all about being able to predict future events such as eclipses of the Sun and Moon, equinoxes and solstices, new Moons, full Moons. But they can try until kingdom come and they'll never make an analog computer which would be able to predict the inaccuracies they've observed because their analog computer and the inaccuracies are operating to different mathematical paradigms."
"You speak many words I don't understand but are you really saying that it's all a waste of time and wealth?"
"Of course it is, and what's more they know it, it's religion gone mad, pure and simple, the results they'd get will be meaningless. And, anyway, it won't affect their ability to predict such practical things like crop planting times and animal husbandry at all."
"You confirm what many of us, not just only myself, have been thinking for some time. For instance to transport the Preseli Bluestones to Stonehenge is going to be an extremely high risk operation and could result in the deaths of brave men whom we can't afford to lose. The seagoing rafts will be incredibly expensive to manufacture and there's all the effort in tree felling and the need to import expensive axes from the Continent. The more I think about it, the more I don't like it."
"I think it stinks. I'm familiar with situations like this at home and what there seems to be is a conflict of interests. The Druids seem to be using this in order to maintain their position in society or even enhance it, and in the process there's a lot of money to be made by middle-men so they've got the support of the business community. But I could suggest to you a way out which would give the Druids their improved Stonehenge at the cost of next to nothing."
"You offer me a miracle."
"No, commonsense. Instead of Preseli Bluestones they could simply use tree trunks."
"Ha, ha, ha! The Druids would love that. They've got the whole country running around in circles to fulfil their prophecies and you come up with a way of letting them have their way at no public expense!"
"From a mathematical point of view: stones or wood, it's irrelevant. What materials they use to build their analog computers is immaterial."
"Well I'll certainly suggest it at the next week's quarterly meeting of the steering committee but they'll undoubtedly say that it won't work without Preseli Bluestones."
"Bullshit, pure bullshit. Ask them: Why? Remember there's an old saying: bullshit baffles brains."
"What were you doing with the General?" Demanded Carter.
"We were just talking, he was asking me about the Stonehenge project." Replied Binns who was walking down to the spring to fetch water.
Carter grabbed her arm and spoke harshly as his grip caused her pain: "You were seen kissing!"
"He was testing out a theory of his."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"He reckons I'm not frigid ... and now he's proved it."
"You stay away from him!"
"You do as I say, stay away from him or you'll live to regret it."
"Don't be stupid Carter, you sound like some cartoon character out of a Hollywood movie. But the General is the real thing, he's a real man. Now let go, you're hurting me!"
Carter relaxed his grip: "Say you're not going to marry him."
"I haven't made my mind up yet but one thing which attracts me to him, besides his wealth that is, is that I can have an intelligent intellectually stimulating conversation with him."
"And you can't with me?"
"Frankly no, we never talk. All that happens is that you order me around as if you own me."
"I don't, we're cariads, I watch out for you."
"Ha! You'd better watch out for yourself."
"The Druids aren't happy with your criticism of the Stonehenge project, they've got a lot tied up in it."
"You've bruised my arm! I'm going to show it to the General and then you'd really better watch out."
"What have you been telling the General?" The Old Druid rushed up to Binns who was picking blueberries on the heath land of the mountainside.
She offered him the palm of her hand: "Blueberries, they're really nice, like some?"
"I asked you a question young lady and I demand an answer."
"All I said was that from a mathematical and scientific point of view you could use tree trunks instead of Preseli Bluestones for the Stonehenge project."
"I won't dispute that but this isn't just about mathematics and science it's about the future of mankind and the relationship between man and his maker. Through our philosophy we harness the power of the Preseli Bluestones to benefit mankind. For instance, take our climate, we've engineered the best climate in the whole of Britain with mild winters and fine summers together with a plentiful supply of rain. It makes a pleasant environment to live in and the crops ripen early. I know not everyone likes rain but the rain cycle is essential in order to ensure a plentiful supply of water for satisfying the needs ..."
"The weather is nothing to do with you! What gives Pembrokeshire its mild winters and early crops is the Gulf Stream."
"Gulf Stream? What is this nonsense you spout? But tell me this then: what would Egypt be without the Pyramids?"
"Egypt? Pyramids? What's that supposed to mean? You mean there's a relationship between your institutions and natural phenomena? But that's like saying that if it wasn't for you Druids and your stone circles then something catastrophic would happen like ... like the sky falling in!"
The Old Druid's face set in a self-satisfied smirk: "Let's just say that you've only just arrived so you wouldn't understand."
"That's what the General says you keep saying to him, that nobody can understand unless they're a Druid."
"And it's true."
"Bollocks, why don't you try me?"
"Because if I did you'd dream up some preposterous idea to discredit our reasoning."
"Let's call a truce. I won't belittle you if you don't belittle me."
"Only if you promise to remember that when you belittle our sacred sites you strike at the very heart of our religion and that is something which I cannot tolerate and the law does not allow."
"So you're accusing me of heresy?"
"I don't have to accuse you, you readily admit your guilt yourself."
"Point taken and I should apologise for being such an ignorant guest after all the hospitality and kindness that Carter and I have been shown here."
"Ah! Humility, you show your human face."
Binns put on a smile: "I'm not afraid to admit when I'm mistaken and attacking your religion is something I wouldn't dream of doing. But what seems to be the case," she took the Old Druid by the arm and they began to walk arm-in-arm together towards the crest of the Preseli Mountains, "is that your religion and mine would seem to differ on an essential matter of fact. Your religion incorporates mathematics and science whereas in my religion, or to be factual the religion of the society in which I was nurtured, then religious matters are largely divorced from mathematics and science except when it comes to a matter of morality and ethics.
"You see I can understand the morality of the General's concerns that in a situation where another bad harvest could lead to warfare amongst the tribes then from an ethical point of view he'd like to keep the available manpower local and use it to strengthen conventional fortifications, rather than everyone being dispersed as they work on the Stonehenge project. Do you see his point?"
"Of course I do but the mystical power of the Preseli Bluestones is at the very heart of our religion. Without the Preseli Bluestones Stonehenge wouldn't work."
"But that's where you're mistaken. The power lies not in the geology of the Preseli Bluestones but in the mathematics. Say if you were setting up a new sacred site then what would you do?"
"Such matters cannot be discussed outside of Druids' circles."
"Well I'll tell you. You'd hammer a stake in the ground, then you'd take a rope and tie a loop in one end which you'd place over the stake, and with the other end you'd describe a circle around the stake. And then you'd make your astronomical observations from the centre recording where heavenly bodies such as Sun, Moon and planets transect the horizon in relation to the outer circle on a daily basis. Correct?"
"There is truth in your words."
"And so you basically add more circles to record the astronomical observations on a more accurate basis since, as you've correctly deduced, the motions of Moon and planets are irregular in the sense that the dynamics of the Solar System create complexities in their movements which are repeated on a regular basis over time."
"The theory is familiar if not the terminology."
"Good, now the reason you adopt this methodology is because of the three dimensional nature of space. So that if we stop and look at the horizon where the sky meets the sea we see a curve." From their vantage point high in the Preseli Mountains they could make out, through the heat haze of a fine summer's day, the Pembrokeshire coastline. Beyond which could be discerned the curved horizon from the Gower Peninsula in the east to beyond Saint David's Headland in the west until the line of sight was cut off by the mountainside. "So that if we were surrounded by sea we'd see a circle. Now with the Stonehenge project you're essentially interested in Mercury, whose movements you already know with sufficient accuracy to know its range of movement along the horizon as it rises and sets. So from a mathematical point of view you don't need to build a complete new outer circle, you just need to construct the relevant two arcs of the outer circle."
"But this is where we disagree. You claim it is simply about mathematics whereas we would claim that the circle has a religious significance and if the circle is incomplete then Stonehenge will not function properly." He added condescendingly: "My dear, stone circles aren't pyramids you know."
"So you're saying that for Stonehenge to function it has to be a complete circle with Preseli Bluestones as markers on its perimeter?"
"Of course! If a trainee Druid gave me any other answer then they would fail their examinations."
"Jesus, Deakin would love it here."
"Don't worry about it, just names of people from my homeland. So what you're saying is that your forebears used circles and Preseli Bluestones at Stonehenge because that is what they'd previously used here in the Preseli Mountains? But Stonehenge is low down on a flat terrain whereas here we're high up, but instead of a complete circular horizon we'd have one which is, from whatever perspective, inevitably partially masked by the mountains which have an east-west axis and it's in the rising east and the setting west that we're particularly interested in. So with the type of astronomical observations you're interested in these mountains present serious difficulties. So Stonehenge was selected as a suitable site as you scaled up your observational facilities over time.
"So you obviously believe that size is important and with the Stonehenge project are advocating a scaling up of observatory power. But then with a low lying site like Stonehenge you'd suffer from a horizon which is closer to you than one seen from high up in the Preseli Mountains. So you'd discover discrepancies in your observations!
"But you don't understand the three dimensional nature of space and the philosophy of the Solar System so you'd assume that the materials you incorporated into your observatory had an effect on the functioning of that observatory. So for you to give up circles and Preseli Bluestones you'd have to engineer a quantum leap in religious and philosophical levels of thinking."
"My dear I have completely lost track of your thoughts, there are words and concepts I am not familiar with and the effect is such that you were speaking a foreign language of which I am not conversant." They'd reached the crest of the mountains and as they walked along the northern slope could see the curve of the horizon arc round towards the Lleyn Peninsula of North Wales, with the massifs of Cader Idris and Plynlimon visible in the distance as the coastline sneaked around Cardigan Bay; on the curved horizon to the west could be faintly seen the coastline of Ireland. "Perhaps we are simply engaged in philosophical debate as to the relative merits of circles and pyramids. But as you can see from our differing climates, where you have sand then we have grass, where you have drought then we have rain. So, obviously, here in the Preseli Mountains the Preseli Bluestones mark the Centre of the Universe and not your Egyptian Pyramids ... But wait!!?"
Galloping towards them was the General pursued by three riders. When he saw them the General seemed to rein in his horse as if to stop and trot over to them, he seemed to glance around then attempt to increase speed as he realised that his pursuers were nearly upon him but he was too late: "Run, Cleopatra! Run!" He cried as he was transfixed by a spear and crashed to the ground.
The horsemen immediately charged towards Binns and the Old Druid. "Come on," she screamed and grabbed hold of his hand and together they ran. The riders soon closed and played a cat-and-mouse game with them, riding just behind as they ran. Soon the Old Druid was exhausted and the riders slowly rode in a circle around the now stationary Binns and the Old Druid.
"They are raiders from the north, the General is dead, we are finished!" He panted.
"Where there's life there's hope," hissed Binns through her teeth. "I know what you guys want, take me but let the old guy go."
There was a whooshing sound through the air and a loud squelchy noise similar to the sound of a cabbage being lopped from its stem and by a reflex action Binns caught the head of the Old Druid. For a moment his body stood stationary as a fountain of blood squirted out of his severed neck, then tumbled backwards spraying one of the horsemen who swore loudly causing the others to laugh. An incensed Binns flung the Old Druid's head at the one who had a bloodied sword and catching him off guard it smashed into his face, knocking him off his horse much to the sense of humour of the other two. With her enemies distracted Binns took off running down the mountainside.
She heard the horses then nothing except whiteness and losing her footing she crashed to the ground. She lay face down almost afraid even to breathe but hearing nothing she gained confidence and rolled over then sat up. She couldn't believe what had happened, she was still on the mountainside but shrouded in a cold clingy mist and stark naked. She wondered if she had been knocked unconsciousness by the horsemen then raped and abandoned. But she didn't feel as if anything had happened to her, she looked around for her clothes but couldn't find them.
Binns had a curious out of body sensation and seemed to be able to see herself from a height of a hundred feet or so as she stumbled around the mountainside in the swirling mist. She laughed as Binns swore as she stepped in something nasty then slipped and sat in it. Binns was crying like a little lost girl and she could hear herself speaking to her in an attempt to comfort.
"Why not wait until the mist clears?"
"I can't, I'm cold. I'm shivering, I'll freeze to death if I stay here and I'm all dirty from poohy."
"Have you seen Carter?"
"No he's disappeared as well, I'm all alone in the World and nobody loves me."
"That doesn't count, you can't help me. I was afraid something like this would happen. It's all Carter's fault, he shouldn't have come with me like that."
"But he loves you."
"How did that girl find out he wasn't an eunuch then?"
"That wasn't his fault, it was hers."
"That's his story too but it doesn't matter now. I know what's happened, there's been a Time Slip. The energy of the time machine's transducers was insufficient to send the two of us back permanently. The Fundamental Constant of Time was altered but not with sufficient energy so has decayed to this new time."
"What time is that?"
"I don't know but it proves my theory that the Fundamental Constant of Time varies over time and that's what makes time travel possible. But if this is permanent it could mean that we'll never be rescued."
"Perhaps we're in the present now?"
"I hope we are but if we're not then we'll either stay where we are or slip again. Oh, I'm so cold! I'm covered in goose pimples and my fingers are getting numb."
"Why not go down the mountainside and try and find shelter, there must be someone somewhere."
"No, I must go upwards because Carter was on the other side of the mountain with the General and some of the other men."
"But the General is dead, perhaps Carter is too?"
"Or he could have escaped and Time Slipped with me in which case he should be somewhere on the other side of the mountain."
As Binns staggered upwards the whiteness seemed to glow in intensity and suddenly she was in bright warm Sunshine with a clear blue sky and just the mountain's rounded crest for company.
"What the hell am I doing here?" She muttered to herself: "I'm starkers on top of the Preseli Mountains and I don't even know what year it is, anyone who met me would think I'd gone crazy."
"That's it, pretend you're simple."
"Pretend? I think it would be impossible to persuade anyone that I'm not."
Binns watched some wild Preseli ponies slowly make their way towards the rocky outcrop from which she was surveying the World; it was as if it was exactly the same day as before now that the mist was clearing so it was pretty obvious she hadn't slipped as far as modern times. The ponies seemed to sense her presence and began to move away.
"What the hell am I to do? There's no sign of Carter, there's no sign of anyone, I'm completely alone."
"When you were a teenager in hospital you decided that what you needed was a new start in life and you found one; that is what you must do again."
"As what, invent another new identity?"
"If needs be."
"And the mission was a failure, all I found out was that they discovered how to make their analog computers from astronomical observations, the design reflecting the three dimensional nature of space and the dynamics of the Solar System. I'm no where nearer finding out what it was that I set out to achieve than when I left home, I still don't know how to program an analog computer."
"You mustn't be too despondent, at least you tried and no one could have done more."
"Carter was right, it's just been one big ego trip and now it's all gone horribly wrong."
"You don't know that yet, you're predicting the future."
"Oh I wish you'd stop crying!"
"I'm not, I thought it was you. Well if it's not me or you then who is it? I can distinctly hear crying."
The crying seemed to come from somewhere deeper inside the rocky outcrop. Binns stealthily clambered over the rocks towards the sound, then lying flat on the side of a rock she peeped over it and could see a figure sitting hunched up in a hollow within the outcrop with its face in its hands.
Binns whispered: "Shwmai."
The figure seemed to stop sobbing then recommenced. She whispered louder and the figure stopped again: "I'm over here."
The figure looked around, it was a young man and he seemed to try and merge with the rocks such was the terror that filled him: "Don't kill me!" He blurted.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to kill you," soothed Binns: "Are you lost?"
"No, I'm hiding."
"You'll never guess what happened to me," she laughed trying to cheer him up: "My horse ran off with all my things, you wouldn't happen to be able to lend me something that I could wear?"
"I've got a spare shirt and a cloak."
"No, don't get up or you'll make me blush with modesty ... That's better, you feel such a fool without any clothes on. I'm Cleopatra, who are you?"
Binns had clambered over the rocks and sat opposite him; he replied: "Henry of Pembroke."
"Well Henry what are you doing here and what do you do?"
"I don't do anything, I'm a noble, and I'm here because ... well I can't really tell you that because I don't know anything about you."
"You can tell me anything you like. I'm a courtesan, I only do it for money."
He looked shocked, taken aback: "But you're so beautiful."
"Well you have to be in my line of work. Men pay me good money for my services and, believe it or not, they appreciate it that I'm not just a pretty face. Now you're obviously in trouble so if you like I'll help you since you helped me. But if you want anything more than help you'll need to pay me in gold. Okay?"
"They're after me."
"And if they catch you?"
"They'll murder me."
"Who are they?"
"The king's men."
"Shit. Do you know I've been out of the country for a long time, in France. Parlez vous Francais?"
"Très bien. But let's carry on speaking in Welsh. As I said I've been out of the country for a long time and if you were to ask me then, believe it or not, I wouldn't have a clue who the king was!"
"Which one, Richard the Lionheart?"
"He's been dead for nearly three hundred years!"
"Umm, yes, I got so cold wandering around in the fog without any clothes on that it seems to have numbed my mind."
"Richard the Third of York."
"Oh Ricky! Why didn't you say so?"
He was aghast: "You know him!!?"
"I used to but he's such a toe-rag. He likes hurting people and hates children. I chucked the job in when he started to want his nooky in the torture chamber of the Tower of London, and then I want to France. It's much better working there and the French, well, they know how to treat a girl."
"So why did you come back?"
"I was a fool but he let me down so I'm back on the game again. Anyway, why does Ricky want to kill you?"
"The War of the Roses. I'm the heir to the throne from the point of view of the House of Lancaster."
"The War of the Roses: the white rose versus the red; and you're the leader of the reds?"
"Well Ricky must think you are if he's trying to kill you. Do you know what he'll do to you if he catches you? He'll hang you up by your throat until you're half-dead, then he'll cut off your private parts and feed them to his dogs in front of you, then he'll cut a slit in your belly and they'll pull out all your intestines, then he'll have what's left cut into four pieces and put on public display around the country."
"What am I to do?" He wailed.
"Well for a start stop snivelling. You're the leader of the reds and Ricky is the leader of the whites. Jules always said that you've got to know which side you're on and lead from the front."
"Who is Jules?"
"Julius Caesar, my ex-husband; you've heard of him, haven't you?"
"But he's been dead for hundreds and hundreds of years!"
"True, but when I die I get reincarnated. It's really weird because sometimes I get reborn in the past and sometimes in the future. You know I was here before when the Preseli Bluestones were being quarried to take them to Stonehenge and in the future men walked on the Moon and you could see it with your own eyes!"
"So that explains why you're so beautiful, you're the Cleopatra, the most beautiful woman in the World!"
"I don't like to boast about it and you should always remember that beauty is only skin deep but Tony, Mark Anthony that is, said it was important to engage the enemy rather than wait for the enemy to attack you. That was his downfall and I was jealous anyway because he was so handsome but he was already married. So rather than taking on Octavian he was either drunk or in bed with me. He couldn't get enough, he was a man of extremes with an unquenchable appetite for his lusts."
"Perhaps me and Ricky could be friends?"
"Friends, no chance. He's a psychopath, see after he killed you then someone else would be the leader of the reds and he'd want to kill him or her, then once he'd killed them it would be someone else. I'll tell you who he's like, he's like Octavian. His strength is that his ambition comes before his pleasure which makes him like a machine, a terminator robotic killer which has been sent from London to destroy you! But the World works in funny ways, so perhaps I was sent from the future to save you. Do you want me," she pouted, "to save you?"
"Please, please save me!"
"What happened was that I made a deal with Octavian and in making a deal with Octavian I made a pact with the Devil and so my immortal soul is doomed for ever to wander in Purgatory. I can never go to Heaven, I can only be reborn. I swapped my life for that of my children. Octavian was so jealous of me since I came between him and Jules. Jules was ac-dc but I could give him something Octavian could never, which was a child. That's why he made me commit suicide by holding a snake to my tits because he hated my womanhood, and then when I went full of numbness and pain in my final convulsive agony the last thing I saw and heard was Octavian laughing at me. He loved Jules and he hated me, but because Jules loved me more than him so he hated Jules, and then when we were all dead he did what he told people we were going to do, and because he was Jules' nephew people listened to him and assassinated Jules just like they helped him defeat Tony, what he did was to become the absolute ruler of Rome and he went completely off his head and said he was God and people believed him so they worshipped him as a God.
"Imagine it: a man as God. People worshipping him, saying their prayers to him, but they didn't love him, they were scared of him, and they weren't just scared they were terrified. Octavian gave them a World the exact opposite of the one we wanted. But it's strange but even in that death hour for humanity the World of Octavian and his heirs was doomed. Jesus was born and he told the Slaves that they were Octavian's equal, that in the eyes of God we're all equal: you, me, even Ricky. Do you say your prayers Harry?"
"I ... sometimes I forget."
"Well in future I want you to be diligent in saying your prayers, lay off the booze and stick to women. Show humility and always remember that you're not a God, you're just a man, you're just flesh and blood, and the flesh is soft and the bones are brittle. If Ricky wins you'll find that out, if you win it'll be easy to get grandiose ideas because everyone will be licking your arse."
"Do you really think I can win?"
"With my help, then yes. After all, think what Jesus achieved."
"But he was the Son of God and ended up like you said I would if Ricky gets hold of me," and he started to cry.
Binns held him to her and cuddled him resting his head against her breasts: "Jesus was just a man like you. But they called him the Son of God and since the Roman emperor was worshipped as a God that title killed him because you can only have one God, one Centre of the Universe, and the Romans knew that. And in the World that Jesus lived in there was no room for anyone to believe in the truth, you could only believe what they wanted you to believe. So always remember that God comes first and you come second. That's the mistake Henry the Second made with Thomas Becket. Becket got on his nerves and he lost his temper and said he wished he was dead. So some of his friends murdered Becket thinking they were doing Henry the Second a favour. Henry was heartbroken and he spent a long time getting over it but he realised that what had gone wrong was that with his king's powers of life and death then to other people they thought he was a God. So to counter that he brought in trial by jury. And that's Ricky's weakness, by wanting to get rid of my little boy he's behaving like a God."
Henry was silent so she started to hum a tune to him and he asked: "What tune is that? It's so beautiful."
"Greensleeves ... I tell you what, if you like you can buy me a green dress with a low cleavage, I've got big tits so you'll like that. But perhaps you'd better call me Greensleeves because if Ricky finds out that I'm helping you he'll be so jealous that he might come here with a great big army instead of sending a few assassins." She carried on humming for awhile then asked: "So why are you the leader of the reds?"
"Edmund Tudor my father is dead but mummy is descended from Edward the Third and because so many have been killed in the War I'm now left as the House of Lancaster's claimant to the throne."
"So that's why Ricky is after your balls, you've got the stuff of kings in your genes. But why are you hiding here on top of the Preseli Mountains?"
"We had news that the king's men were coming to our home at Pembroke Castle to take me back to London with them. So Uncle Jasper sent me north with a servant so I'd be safe. The servant left me here and told me to wait until he came back, but that was two days ago."
"Can you trust the servant?"
"I don't know, I don't know, I don't know!"
"Now, now, my little boy, don't cry now, I'm with you, your Greensleeves is with you so you're safe. Why did your uncle send you north?"
"He wanted to send me to France because my grandmother, my grandfather Owain Tudor's wife, was of the French royal family so I'd be safe there. But the weather was too bad to take to sea so he sent me north since through my grandfather Owain I'm descended from Owain Glyndwr and related to all the top people in Wales."
"So my little boy is somebody really special then."
"That's why I don't understand why Ricky is so nasty towards me. We young ones don't understand why we've got to be nasty to each other and fight all the time. It's only the older ones who do all the hating and they can't explain. My cousin Elizabeth of York came here for her summer holidays some years ago and we had a wonderful time."
"It's always like that. In the future there's a big country called America which fights a war with a small country called Vietnam and nobody can understand what it's all about. And as long as more Vietnamese than Americans get killed nobody cares. But the young people do, they can't understand why they have to kill each other and some of them fall in love and marry."
"If it wasn't for the War my cousin is someone I'd have liked to marry because I've got to marry someone who's special even though she was always making fun of me. I didn't mind, I know I'm not really special, I'm only special because of who I was born, but she'd be special if her parents were nobodies."
"I'll make you special, so special she'll fall in love with you and want to marry you. Alexander the Great didn't think he was special, he had one blue eye and one green eye so everybody made fun of him just like they make fun of you. But he'd a good teacher in Aristotle and I'll be your teacher, your Greensleeves will be your teacher ..."
Henry wailed: "But Alexander died young, he was poisoned!"
As Binns comforted the weak sickly looking young man she was struck by the absurdity and irony of her a republican taking sides in a war of accession to a mediaeval throne. The contradictory nature of Henry's nepotist hierarchical society contrasting with the democratic accessibility of the society in which she had been nurtured that had enabled her to be mankind's first time traveller. The evolutionary nature of this advance in the structure of a human society led her to note an insight into the difference between digital and analog computers. A digital computer represented a hierarchical program of steps between an input and an output, whereas an analog computer didn't have an input and an output in the same concrete sense. To claim that an analog computer had an input and an output would be like saying that the circumference of a wheel had start- and end-points. There could be no easy leap from a digital computer to an analog one since it seemed to represent a quantum leap in evolution along the lines of the natural quadruped motion of a horse to the manmade manufactured circular motion of a car's wheel.
Henry interrupted her thoughts: "What are you thinking about, you're so silent. You're not going to betray me, are you? Ricky'd give you a big reward."
Binns laughed: "I was thinking as to whether we need to have a start to have an end, or an end to have a start."
"So if I could win against Ricky then we'd have an end but we wouldn't have a start because it all began before I was born?"
"That's right, so you and your people and country could enter a new era of peace instead of an era of war."
"But how do I do that?"
"By being just and making sensible laws which apply to everyone."
Binns had thought that the laws of programming an analog computer would have to be based on the mathematical or scientific system its design incorporated, just as a digital computer is programmed to the laborious laws of Boolean logic. So if data were input, such as the Moon or a planet with its orbit transiting the horizon as seen from a stone circle then that would reveal the combined motions of the planetary bodies including that of the Earth; it would be a result of all the data that has been input into the analog computer of the stone circle by the dynamics of the Solar System. And it would always work thus proving the stability of the Solar System. Because if it didn't work the Solar System would be unstable and the data wouldn't produce future predictable results.
To Binns there seemed to be a relationship between predictability and stability which if applied to the laws of mathematics would seem at first glance to be commonsense. But something was missing because the current dynamics of the Solar System were an end-point with a chaotic state of Nature being the start-point. So to use chaos theory some chance ripple, perhaps generated by a quantum fluctuation as a consequence of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, through the cloud of dust and gas which had been the primeval state of the Solar System, had resulted in its present state based on a system of planets. But if compared to a butterfly flapping its wings, leading to a hurricane, then the apparent order of the Solar System represented a chaotic state greater than at the beginning - contrasting with the traditionalist view of an evolutionary advance, to chaotic thinking it was a step backwards in evolution.
So to program her analog computer it dawned on Binns that she would have to produce results which were of a more chaotic nature than the input data. So what would happen if she ... it would be as if the result were the input data and the input data the result; it would be reverse engineering.
GOOD OR BAD?
At this point in Binns' story we are back at the beginning, in other words her life had turned a complete circle and she was attempting to rationalise what to her had been an automatic process. If she could understand how to program an analog computer then she would be making a quantum leap in mankind's evolution such as was made by the Normans. The Normans when they invaded Britain in 1066 knew what they wanted, the result, but had to work out a way of achieving it. Which would suggest that the human mind works along the lines of an analog computer rather than a digital computer - the opposite of the current level of thinking. Which to Binns would mean a quantum step up the evolutionary ladder of mankind since it would be in the rearrangement of Binns' mindset that the evolutionary step would be first made.
But what does the evolution of mankind mean? In the Stone Age when the sabre toothed tiger haunted environs of Hoyle's Mouth Cave were first inhabited by people, was somebody's house, mankind was part of the foodchain and as such lived in harmony with Nature; eating and being eaten and making little or no impact on the scheme of things. But by Henry Tudor's time the impact of mankind on Pembrokeshire's environment was clearly visible with settlements of towns and villages, Norman castles and churches, agricultural fields and a transport system of lanes and trackways (integrating with coastal seaways and sea lanes to Continental Europe and Ireland).
Nowadays there is a mindset which is against certain aspects of the manmade environment, of the picture to one's eyes that is Pembrokeshire's scenery. Bad are deemed oil refineries, power stations and wind turbines. Good are deemed caravan sites, leisure parks and proposed motorways from Pembrokeshire's border with Carmarthenshire to the Irish ferry ports of Pembroke Dock and Fishguard. Even the various categories of atmospheric pollution are so defined: pollution from local industry is bad, pollution from transatlantic jets and the numberless cars of the tourists is good. And the sea?
Some things are deemed good and others bad: a picture of a Norman castle is deemed good whereas a picture of an oil refinery is deemed bad. Yet both are manmade and built for a purpose; that purpose being to further the aims and interests of mankind with steps along the evolutionary ladder.
So would Binns' Analog Computer be good or bad? Binns with a scientist's curiosity didn't even ask herself that question, to her it was about evolution and to her advances in evolution were good. But how could Binns be certain that her analog computer would be an advance in evolution rather than a reverse? Because, Binns believed, it would enable mankind to travel in space and time.
"Let's play a game."
"I want to go home!"
"That's the game we're going to play because for you to go home safely you'll have to beat Ricky." Binns knew from her knowledge of history that Henry would win but to do so he would have to develop a winning strategy. But, could she, even if she wanted to, develop a strategy whereby Ricky would win? Binns found these ideas enthralling because it wasn't a matter of just making a decision, but the development of an interactive strategy between mankind's current perception of the reality of space and time with regard to mankind's current human condition. "This game has two players: you and Ricky; he's the leader of the whites and you're the leader of the reds. In Ricky's mindset there is a strategy to win this game: by murdering you. But what's in your mindset? Do you have a strategy to beat Ricky?"
"I'm ... I'm scared of Ricky!" And he started to cry again.
"Now, now, try and be strong, what I'm going to do by playing this game is to help you to develop a mindset which produces a winning strategy to enable you to beat Ricky. To win a war you need allies and what you've told me is that you've got allies through your relatives in Wales and France. Well that's your power base. And what you have to do is to develop a strategy which utilises your power base enabling you to win. To do that we'll have to first draw the battle lines by getting all your people to back you. So we'll ..."
"But why would they back me? They're not going to risk upsetting Ricky by following me."
"That's why we need a strategy, a plan they can believe in and support. Remember, the country is in a state of war and everyone has to take sides. So what we'll do is head north and we'll tell your Welsh relatives that we're going to take on Ricky with the help of your French relatives. Then when everybody agrees to help we'll go to France and tell your French relatives that you're going to take on Ricky with your Welsh relatives. Then when they agree to help you'll sail back to Pembrokeshire with your French relatives and then march north through Wales with your Welsh relatives joining you. So when you march with your army into England your English relatives will take your side and you'll have a great army with which to beat Ricky's army."
"I could do that!!?"
"Ricky's spies will tell him that your Welsh relatives have refused to help and he'll think that when you go to France you'll be running away. So we'll have to make certain that he learns of your movements in Wales and your flight to France."
"Merchant ships trade with France from Tenby. But when I return with my French fleet we'll have to land in the Milford Haven Waterway so they'll have a safe anchorage."
"Good, you're thinking like a General now, and an Admiral too. But, remember, when you return everything's got to be top secret since once Ricky learns that you've landed and are marching with an army to meet him, then he'll want to get his army together and march to meet you before you get too strong."
"In that case I'll land on the north shore of the Milford Haven Waterway just inside the entrance at the Dale Peninsula, then I'll go straight to Haverfordwest then north as quickly as possible along the coast and cut across to Shrewsbury where my English support begins. At the same time someone else can go from Pembroke to Carmarthen and through Mid Wales to meet me there. Then we'll march into England looking for Ricky."
"So you see my little man your destiny is in your own hands after all."
"And when I'm king I'll marry you and you'll be my queen."
"No, we can't do that, I'm not a virgin and you must marry to unite your kingdom. If you like you can give me Manorbier Castle and I'll be your mistress. I'll be your courtesan and if you give me plenty of gold I'll let no one into my bedchamber but you. Anyway, it's time we made a move."
"But how do we know the plan will work?"
"You and me are here and now: we're at this place at this particular time. We know what result we want which is for you to meet Ricky in England with a great army at your back. So you travel around Wales then back to Pembrokeshire and sail to France from Tenby. Then you return to Pembrokeshire at Dale and march through Wales to England and meet Ricky in battle. But until that battle you'll always be at a particular place at a particular time, and each day that battle will get closer so even if on going to France you appear to be running away you're in reality getting closer."
"I still don't understand why it means I win."
"The verb is to win, the subject is you and the object is the War. Your life can be considered as a series of discrete steps described by you being at a particular place at a particular time. So we leave these Preseli Bluestones and travel north; what that means is that you have to decide where we go first."
NOT WITHOUT HOPE
It's two years now since the Sea Empress supertanker environmental disaster and everything would seem to be back to normal: all fishing restrictions have been lifted (even if nowadays only the inshore fleet is locally owned with the offshore fleet, based on the docks at the town of Milford Haven which once had a whaling industry run by Quakers from Nantucket in the USA, seemingly owned by our European Union cousins) there are plenty of seagulls around and the Tourist Industry carries on with its conveyor belt like relentless determination.
The Tourist Industry is a cyclic thing with predictable peaks and troughs in terms of the number of people visiting what has been known since 1952 as the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park. Unfortunately, though, it is an industry which isn't a great deal of use in terms of developing an economic development policy for Pembrokeshire which is designed to produce full employment; that is the holy grail of Pembrokeshire politics.
The human cost of a combination of high unemployment and low wages being for many a dependency on state benefits and what used to be jokingly known as wacky-baccy is now recognised as something more sinister.
The verb is to employ, the subject is the People of Pembrokeshire and the object is full employment. We live in a time of media magic but the problem with that is that only a very small number of people (in comparison only a few thousand grains of sand from Tenby South Beach's trillions) are actually involved in public debate via the media and the decision making process.
And the simple truth of the matter is that they've got it wrong. Since instead of being one of the poorest parts of Wales, Britain and the European Union we should be one of the richest by virtue of our extremely abundant natural resources - we've got everything there is to have except a gold mine, though in Roman times there was one across the border in Carmarthenshire. So the future is not without hope.
WHY SHOULD I?
"The battleground is England but to win Henry needs support in Wales and Europe." Binns spoke steadfastly in Welsh to Rhys.
"You come to my castle: a boy who is a fugitive from the king and a woman who is in her beauty like an exotic bird of paradise yet speaks not of love and peace but of war and hate. You come to my castle and urge me to rise up against the king and you intoxicate me with your beauty. You come to my castle and I forget all I have ever been taught. So, before I completely lose my senses I must ask you a question: Why should I?"
"Henry was born in Pembroke Castle and counts Owain Glyndwr, who was also born in Pembrokeshire, amongst his ancestors. Would you rather a Welsh king than an English one?"
"If the truth be spake I would rather no king."
"You are a man after my own heart but there needs to be a king for that is the way of the World."
"It is not your heart that I necessarily seek."
"Think not of lust but of glory. Think of being part of a Welsh army led by a Welsh standard. Think of that Welsh standard of a red dragon on a green and white background flying over a victorious battlefield. Think of achieving what Owain Glyndwr began!"
"And the boy's English allies will fight under a Welsh flag?"
"Why not? Are not England and Wales as one?"
"That's what the English tell us but England is a much richer country than Wales."
"Which is why you need a Welsh king with strong European connections to promote prosperity for all."
"And what's in it for you? I suppose you'll want to be queen."
"I'm a courtesan, I only do it for gold. Henry will have as his queen a woman to unite his kingdom."
"Perhaps, but that needs wait until victory is achieved."
"A technicality not without its difficulties so what proof have you that we will succeed?"
"The magic of the stone circles; of the Preseli Bluestones."
"So we're going to win by magic! Presumably you're going to tell me next that Merlin is on our side?"
"Not at all. Let me show you. Let's take that map of Wales and place it over this table. It's not a very good map but it will have to do. Then what you have to do then is to hammer in a nail at each place you and Henry need to visit. Then take a length of cord and tie a loop at one end of it and place the loop over the nail which marks your castle, then run the cord around the nails in the order that you will visit them returning here."
"And the spell is cast!" He laughed.
"The magic of the stone circles is in their ability to predict the future; they are a navigation device by which we set our course as we live our lives in service of our God."
"Which you do by doing it for gold?"
Binns smirked: "We each serve in our own way but I'm not a great warlord like you with a beautiful young wife."
"My wife was reputed to be the most beautiful woman in Wales and I thought she was until I met you. But you reach a part of me she can't: I find you interesting and her dull and boring."
"Well while you and Henry are away on business I'll teach her a few tricks of the trade to make her more interesting for you."
"It's strange the effect you have on me. You think I've got a one track mind but I was thinking of you as a human being whereas she's just a brainless bimbo."
"All you're saying is that she hasn't reached her potential as a human being. While you're away I'll teach her to think, I'll teach her philosophy."
"That could be dangerous ..."
The two men left at dawn and the two women spent the day together then when the baby fell into sleep they sat talking in low voices in front of a fire, the flames flickering and bathing the stone walled room and their faces in an unearthly glow.
"What happens when my husband returns?"
"Henry and I will go to France."
"Will my husband go with you?"
"That's not my decision."
"I don't want him to go, please, he is entranced by you."
Binns shrugged: "Lots of men are, it goes with the job, you know what men are like."
"But he never used to be that way, we were happy together, but since you arrived he's lost interest."
"You must be exaggerating, I've only been here two days." Binns sneezed and blew her nose into a handkerchief then joked: "It's not easy being the most beautiful woman in the World when you've got a cold and your nose is full of green snot!"
She seemed to buck up: "I'll fetch you a herbal remedy." When she returned she handed a beaker to Binns: "Now drink it up before it gets cold."
"Thanks," said Binns: struck by the irony of this natural blonde who in this pre-silicon age favourably compared with Baywatch's Pamela Anderson; Binns smiled to herself at the irony of who was jealous of whom. "That's strange," she said, "I feel sort of numb in my belly ... and my legs are going numb!"
The blonde beauty's face which had previously been set in a sad smile seemed to light up, as with a Sunrise, into a carefree happy smile.
The truth suddenly dawned on Binns and she gasped, dropping the beaker which had been clasped between her hands: "You've poisoned me!!?"
The smile grew more intense but she said nothing; though there was a glint in her eyes which seemed to laugh in mockery. Binns' numbness was replaced with agony as her motionless body seemed to convulse, to sensation her legs rocked painfully high over her head, but it was all she could do to move her hands to reach out to the blonde beauty who immediately stepped back out of reach; then she fell into unconsciousness as a terrible pain ripped through her undistended abdomen, which to sensation had become horribly distended like John Hurt's in the original Alien film.
Binns awoke as if from a luxurious deep sleep and felt for her lover and her hand was held between his; she opened her eyes and blurted in disappointment: "Carter!"
His face and voice were delirious with happiness: "You're alive!" And he started to fervently kiss her hand, the tears pouring down his cheeks.
Binns reacted angrily: "Of course I'm alive, what on Earth ... she was poisoning me!"
"When you came back you were at death's door so I put you in the steriliser."
"Our equivalent of your hospital's intensive care."
"Where am I?" She asked breathlessly
"On the Moon."
Binns covered her face with her hands and shrieked: "On the Moon!" Then laughed: "Carter, do something, I'm lying here starkers and you're staring at me!"
Carter was panicky: "I'm sorry ... here."
"You can look now." Binns was sitting up with what looked like a bath towel wrapped around her, her arms wrapped around her knees on which rested her chin; she teased: "And what have you been doing while I was asleep?" Carter's face was deep red with embarrassment. "Explanations please ... no, what I mean is: what has happened? How come I'm here?"
"The transducers you used at Hoyle's Mouth Cave were only a relay station for Moonbase and activating them you activated Moonbase. But they shouldn't have let you, it was so terribly dangerous."
Binns shrugged, then joked: "So? It couldn't have been that dangerous, you came with me."
"I couldn't let you go on your own."
"Why not? ... Okay, I know, you love me. Then what happened?"
"I don't know, one moment I was with you in the past and the next I was here."
"We Time Slipped."
"So you didn't know that would happen, you're just a pretty face really, aren't you? But I Time Slipped twice, the second time I was in Pembrokeshire of some five hundred years ago and then some silly cow poisoned me because her husband fell in love with me. Still, just part of the day to day life of a Harvard scientist ... Carter, there's something you're not telling me." His embarrassment seemed to deepen. "You've been here before, haven't you?"
"I was born here."
Binns shrieked with laughter: "You're an alien!!! Oh God, Christ and to think I took you seriously when you asked me to marry you."
Carter's embarrassment seemed to turn to a state of deepset intensity: "You've got to marry me."
Binns sighed: "I'll do what I want Carter like I always do. The rules of the game Carter, the rules of the game."
"You've got to marry me, you're pregnant with my child."
Binns was furious: "You are so sick, I've never met anyone in my life as disgusting as you!"
"No I didn't do it like that, I artificially inseminated you."
For a moment Binns put a hand over her eyes: "That's unbelievable but even if you did you would have been wasting your time, I can't have children as a result of what happened to me when I was a kid."
"You'd been surgically sterilised but I was able to reverse that. You're in your third month of pregnancy and everything is progressing normally but something went wrong."
"Wrong!!?" Screamed Binns.
"It looks like you're going to have twins; a boy and a girl."
"And, of course, you'll give me the Moon as a wedding present because you're the only person left living on it so you own it be default, as it were?"
"Yes, that was the deal you agreed to."
"And for a honeymoon you'll fly me around the Moon, to the rings of Saturn and beyond to the stars."
"Our spaceship can fly you round the Moon but we don't possess Star Trek's warp drive so any journeys outside of the Earth-Moon system aren't really practicable."
"Carter, you're such a disappointment! So I'll just have to settle for being able to add astronaut to my CV ... I don't really believe all this, it's all just some elaborate hoax. We're not really on the Moon, are we?"
"I'll prove it to you." Carter lifted her up into his arms then threw her upwards, catching her again as if she were a small child.
Binns shrieked: "Okay, okay, I believe you. God, one-sixth gravity makes you feel so randy, my tits feel like I'm skinny dipping ... But what happens when your people come looking for you?"
"We've never had any contact since we arrived which was generations ago."
"So if there is a sequel to Preseli Bluestones then we're just going to have to live it as it happens I suppose ... And how come you were a big man in the CIA, are the Pentagon in on this?"
"The development of computers, ours are much more powerful than yours, I was able to hack my way in and ... and make up stories which people believed, then with the Internet everything is so easy."
"Are we on the Internet here?"
"Yes, we've got our own web site."
"So I can work from here?"
"If you want. That's why you've got a web site and I've also arranged all the necessary facilities for video conferencing."
"Hmmm, the Harvard University of the Moon, I like it ... Does anybody know we're here?"
"No, there is considerable discussion as to your whereabouts since you're World famous and no one can explain why you've disappeared. The official explanation is that you're working on a top secret research project which is vital for national security." For the first time Carter's face relaxed into a grin: "But to the popular imagination there is a belief that you've been abducted by aliens."
"But why me Carter, why am I so important to you?"
"I'm the leader of my people and you're the leader of yours."
"Admittedly you're a bit like the Last of the Mohicans but I'm not the leader of Earth. I guess the closest you'd get to that is the President of the United States of America."
"You may not be the political leader but you are the intellectual one."
"Oh Carter, you're as corny as ever, you love me for my mind!"
CYMRU AM BYTH
Also available as a Star of Pembrokeshire Series Paperback (ISBN 0953351203, price £9.99, 172 pages, ~53,000 words) distributed by the Welsh Books Council. It can be purchased direct from them, or from them via your local bookshop, or from www.amazon.co.uk. Available in Tenby from the Cofion Bookshop.
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