First published by The Red Forge Publishing House, 2015 and updated in 2016, 2017
Adelaide, South Australia
Copyright © Sutcliffe, Keren
1 1.00 The Longest Part(1968/1968)
A painted elephant is an unexpected, incongruous, amazing feat that is well outside what is expected.
‘push the envelope’ = ‘to paint the elephant’
Here we go together to discover the Theodorus Spiral as it reaches out to the far corners of the universe but also possibly as it doubles over itself as it goes inwards.
Book 1. My Painted Elephant
Apparently, Ernest Hemingway had said ‘one sentence at a time’ and this is what Brenda thought as she sat down on a park bench and took out her old battered laptop from her worn back pack and began to type.
She had left her family, to live in poverty and a state of constant anxiety to write a novella for a competition. Was she mad or passionate? She had been so lost and lonely when she had attended the WWW 2017 Conference in Perth, she had bought a plane ticket with the last of the money she had made on the sale of a property from before her marriage. Her savings had slowly dwindled away over the years; her share investments had not done well and the money was nearly all gone. She felt that once that money was gone there would be no going to Paris. It was now or never.
The wind blew into Brenda’s face, this meant the tears did not run down her cheeks but blew off into the air rushing by. Her mind was numb. She had to get her story out of her head quickly before she was mugged, frozen to death or starved. She seemed so far away from where she wanted to be in terms of achievements in her life.
Brenda had read a book called An Imaginary Tale: The Story of The Square Root of -1 by Paul Nahin (1998) and had come across the Spiral of Theodorus; first put together by Theodorus of Cyrene back in about 400 BC. She was now very interested in the spiral and believed she could portray in her writing the spiral’s wonder and she hoped to win the Paris Literature Prize run by the Shakespeare and Company Bookshop.
ArkiMay had added the line about the Perth conference and stopped editing for a moment and pondered whether she should also update the competition to something like The New Media competition or Tor.com. The Paris Literature Prize hadn’t been run for a few years so it was a little dated now. She wrote a note and thought she would bring it up at the next TRFPH meeting.
As Brenda started typing she felt herself becoming immersed in the story as it appeared on the page. She could feel the cold less and less and the burden of little money and lack of accommodation slip away. She needed to write to take her mind off her the comfortable life and family she had left and the only way to do that was to keep working.
She began to write about the past and the future at the same time. She had developed a burning desire to find a way of expressing herself, to be rid of the ordinary and enter the realm of the extraordinary. Brenda wondered who else around her felt this way. Her story was about mental health issues caused by the pressure to succeed, holograms and time entanglement.
She had started to write the story while in Australia but had become so dedicated to the tale that she had traveled to Paris to be homeless and to push herself to her limits; she felt she needed to be ruthlessly joyless to achieve her goals.
The wind whipped up around her neck and she looked out across the skyline – all of Paris lay before her but she put her head down and kept typing and singing to herself.
Who in this world tells the truth?
I don’t know if I can tell.
Every day I try hard to understand.
I want to know who I am.
What’s in this world for me?
Except from Homeless in Paradise
Brenda had composed a song which she called Homeless in Paris later it would be renamed Homeless in Paradise. At her most ambitious she imagined the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra playing her song. It had taken hours of her time to teach herself how to play the piano and slowly compose the song.
She adjusted her collar around her neck; it does nothing to combat the cold. Where would she sleep tonight? She had spotted a ledge on a building. It would require her to climb the stone work but it might help her feel better than sleeping on the ground. She shut this worry out of her mind and continued to write to her imaginary readers.
The words appeared on the screen – you feel so frustrated and useless now, how can you think about what the far future will look like? I know what you mean but you must expand your mind enough to take it all in. Some of the messes we find ourselves in now could take that long to sort out. We need to try to see what the far future can look like. Will we still focus on food, health and wealth? Well, it stands to reason that if that is what was important 5000 years ago, then that in the far future it will be the same. What else should we focus on; environment, technology and creativity perhaps? Perhaps one day, once humans get over this incessant need to compete and struggle we will find a way to be happy to connect and share.
The new communication technology frustrated her at times, it seemed basic information services were lacking. She screamed silently Information Science is a STEM subject. She also knew that to get to the point where holograms embedded with organic material could be used to travel through time, all the in-between inventions had to come first.
ArkiMay had only today read a story about a new nano thin hologram, everyday holograms are getting closer she thought to herself
Brenda was feeling anxiety from not being able to use the internet for any research she needed. She had wanted to be free of the communication trap and she felt she needed to get rid of the distraction of the modern smart phone to complete the novella. Back at home in Adelaide suburbia with the big back yard and gum trees, she had been feeling a growing pressure to be successful. She felt she could not bear the mundane any longer. Perhaps she was successful in a small life way but it was not enough.
The characters in Brenda’s story were coming alive in her mind. Max was getting closer to her and it started to feel as if Charlotte was sitting next to her. Max was an Information Agent, with his own company called Maxden Library and Information Services back in Brenda’s home town of Port Adelaide. His twin sister Charlotte owns the Theodorus Spiral Company. One day Max finds Kesbooks Skytower, a hologram sent from the future, at the Semaphore Public Library.
When Max has a party and a friend brings along Marla, a visiting publisher from Chicago, they get together to form The Red Forge Publishing House.
Once Brenda had the outline of her story in her mind she could enter their world and leave her own. What a relief! But it turns out they have their troubles too and despite her own discomfort she begins to worry about them. Will the characters develop or will they remain flat and lifeless? Brenda needed this to work or she would surely die of the stress of being homeless in Paris.
A party is good for cheering everybody up and Brenda felt that writing about a party would be like being at one. She was becoming delirious. It would be a good opportunity to nut through all the conflicting thoughts about what people would think and feel if time travel become a reality. I mean, would you want to go forward, back or stay the same? If going to the future meant you were not here in the present, then there is the dilemma of missing out on something that is going on in the now. It would be like going on holiday and your absence would be noticed. Then there is all the higgedly piggledy business of changing the past and affecting the present and the future. Would you be brave enough to risk changing something crucial in your life by altering the past or future?
But what if you could send your hologram back into the past and it cannot alter events but only observe and transmit information to you, this would result in accurate observations of past events, available at any time.
“I’m going to call my book My Painted Elephant”, Brenda said to herself. She used to tell her children ‘go paint the elephant’ whenever they were doing something important to them. She thought the saying ‘push the envelope’ so obscure that ‘paint the elephant’ could mean the same thing.
Brenda realized she was closer now, she was getting that feeling that you get when you know what is going to happen or you have seen something before when you have never been there before; could that be because it has already happened?
Perhaps what we believe to be going into the future is really going backwards. It is similar to the notion that fate has already been decided. Where has this idea come from? Have we always known that the future has already happened? Perhaps we are just having trouble articulating it.
You may be wondering how Brenda came to have all these thoughts and ideas in her head. Well, it is a bit like a dream. Dreams can be so marvellous and it has to be wondered: does the brain think of these ideas instantaneously or has some part of the brain been working on stories, philosophies, answers, discoveries to show you when it is ready? Perhaps there is a dream stored away ready for you, or maybe there are years’ worth, all catalogued in the brain’s own way, ready to be presented to you?
So much had happened since Brenda had started writing her story that kept confirming in her mind that she was on the right path in terms of her theory about holograms and time travel. She had found out about Australian Holographics while researching about holograms. This company was around in the 1990’s near Adelaide where Max lives so it could be possible that some experiments took place in that laboratory and that could explain Kesbooks Skytower turning up in Semaphore, SA.
She had created three websites: one called The Red Forge Publishing House where she had her story, Theodorus Spiral Company where she collated all her research about the spiral and all the Matlab artwork she had produced. She had real plans to produce decorative spiral shields and the final website was Maxden Library and Information Services where she kept continually updated links to library and information websites and had ambitions to run her own information agency that promoted the betterment of information services for everyone.
Brenda had known she might get cold living on the streets but had not really fully imagined the intensity of the cold and misery once she had gotten wet. She put her head down and gritted her teeth and set about typing. She wanted to get down in writing all these thoughts and see if anything could come of it.
At the beginning of the spiral, the spokes are small, this resembles an idea; a notion. As time goes by, the notion grows but time is not necessarily moving forward. It goes round on itself while it is growing. What if you don’t feel connected? Perhaps you can’t think clearly because you are upset or anxious.
What can you do? You need to find a small dangling thread of an idea. Grab hold of it – and do not let go. Imagine yourself where you want to be.
(2.00) Max and the Maxden Library and Information Services (1644)
His client reached across the table and kissed him. They were both momentarily stunned but she recovered first and smiled. After she left, he could still feel the pressure of her touch on his lips and it felt good for the rest of the day.
That had been Monday and Max had handed over an envelope to the client that contained answers to her problems. That was his job; Max had been spending a lot of time at the local public library. In fact, he realized he was doing a great deal of business there. It was a convenient local hang out.
Library worker Angela knew about his information agency and she often helped him out. The relationship was reciprocal because he seemed to have better information resources available to him than she did at the library and she often suggested library customers ask Max for help when she couldn’t. They were both good at their jobs, they were a fantastic team.
Angela often used Max’s website: Maxden Library and Information Services to help library customers. It was not the SA Libraries official website but Angela found the ‘clean skin’ format easier to use. Max has accumulated a wealth of data research knowledge and was a proficient and effective information analyser.
After closing off the job with the surprise kiss, Max caught the multi-ride vehicle over to the Port Bar. Here he was comfortable with his drinking acquaintances. Kate was working behind the bar. Stan, the owner, must have thanked his lucky stars the day Kate came through the door looking for a job.
Kate suffers from an unbelievable condition where she has forgotten that she is married to one of the state’s most famous football players. This, of course, has increased the crowd of drinkers in the bar as they watch this drama unfold before them. Each coming in after work or a day’s shopping, to see if any development had taken place. Just like watching a soap opera – only a lot more profitable for the pub and a darn sight more real.
Brenda wanted to have Kate in the story to represent her mother who was suffering from a strange disorder that no one seemed to know what to do about. Brenda’s mother had spent six months in a psychiatric ward where she was given thirty-two shock treatments but the doctors still did not know whether she had suffered a stroke or had a contentless depression. She had severe abulia; hardly spoke and had no motivation to do anything. She had been in this state for fifteen years now; just sitting all day long. All the doctors had given up and she lived in a retirement home, being cared for, but Brenda felt she should be able to find a cure or help her in some way.
Brenda and her father had spent hours discussing what they should have done and what they should do now. When Brenda was at home she thought of things to say to her mum to try to help but always when she was near her mother she could not say anything. Her mother had some kind of barrier around her blocking out everyone. Brenda was not even sure if her mother realised she was behaving differently. Brenda’s family felt it best not to upset their mother and wife: just let her be the way she was. More tears and a small groaning sound came from her mouth, “Get back to the story”, Brenda told herself and pushed on.
“Good day Max, pint?” Stan was behind the bar tonight because the crowd had grown. Apparently Dale (the famous footballer star) had been in, again pleading with his gorgeous wife to come home and take care of their child. Kate on the other hand was working the bar in her renowned fancy style that everyone loved so much. She seemed to float around; she had fantastic memory for names and customer’s drinks. Stan had told Max she had been in a car accident and bumped her head. Dale was crazy for his wife and had been in the bar whenever she worked. This it had been going on for six months and he needed to go to practice and care for their little one. The doctors said time would tell, so we all waited and watched.
Max sat down next to Frank, and together they watched Kate pour him a beer. She smiled at both of them and Max could see in her eyes had just a touch of vagueness. He did hope things would work out for her and Dale but could not help feeling he would miss them if their lives were to return to as they had been.
Frank was a drinking mate and Max knew only that he worked in construction. He was a hard-headed, steel-cap boots bloke. Frank’s hands were rough clearly highlighting the difference in their working lives. They talked a lot about sport and politics and the stuff that life was about. Over the years they had talked through a stock market crash, a recession, the housing boom, the latest Port revival developments, the global financial crisis, climate change, whether or not carbon credits should be introduced, is negative gearing a good thing or not and were right now getting their heads around Donald Trump being President of the United States.
Max thought it was all marvellous stuff, though he knew others seemed to struggle through the changes. Frank was a no-regrets man, who had decided very early on that things were black and white and no shades in-between. Max tried to add some dimensions to their conversations although half the time he was just padding out the time. When they said goodnight Max knew, as Frank strode confidently away, that Frank believed he was right. Max often wished he could be so sure.
Max’s shares had been lost, he’d paid seventeen per cent interest rate in hard times then divorced just as the housing boom started and spent his lousy share of the house on a big TV and sports motorbike when he should have been paying a low-interest mortgage and riding the boom time. However Max had learned through this of his incredible resilience to depression, which he had witnessed others crumble to. What agony many were suffering while he was totally unscathed, carrying on and rising to the new information age like a visionary warrior! Okay well he’d had a few pints by now and was feeling rather full of himself. But in truth his business was doing very well and he allowed himself a congratulatory one for the road.
Having moved on from the old days of driving home drunk like so many of his peers he staggered down to the wharf and caught the ferry home. Jack the ferry operator turned the other way as Max heaved over the side feeding the mulloway in the Port River. Max was the only passenger at this time of night so he was excused this time. Max felt a twinge of sadness as the kiss from the afternoon became tarnished with his regurgitation. The fresh air had cleared his head and he worked well into the night reading new information requests, working on contracts for clients, searching the net, running a few datasets through Hadoop and sending messages to researchers regarding their assignments. He went to bed a happy man.
A knock at the door awoke him and he found himself squinting at a young, well-dressed man. The man held out a card that through Max’s bleary mind became a copy of his “I need to know?” card. The man said he was sorry to come without an appointment but he was in the area and thought he would just knock. He let the chap in and made them both a coffee and piece of toast and jam. They sat in Max’s home office at the front of his 1910 cottage on the edge of the new Port development and spoke about a problem the man had.
The man wanted to buy a house in the area however he had heard that the local cement factory emitted a lot of dust and he’d found it incredibly hard to find out how bad the problem was and if it would affect his son’s asthma. Max felt a wave of apprehension cross his body. The cement factory was an ongoing hot issue for the local community. The flat rate for information was $50 for an answer within half an hour’s research.
Max had developed a system that formulated the peoples question into several appropriate search algorithms and then executed that across multiple digital platforms. He also practiced old-fashioned live data collection, analysis and report methods.
Max knew he would be able to get dust emission figures, health risks data for people living in the area and he had several anecdotal evidence documents for and against the notion that the lad’s asthma would be affected. His gut feeling was to say if you are going to worry about it don’t buy but he knew the area still held out for a capital gain and the shopping and cafe scene in the area was set to improve. They shook hands on a deal that Max would spend the 30 minutes on the job and would contact him later in the day with an update. As it was a local job he would do this himself. Max decided to go to factory and ask to speak Tony the man put in charge of cleaning the factory up.
3 (1.73) Brenda’s first night (1450)
Brenda had moved to the spot on the ledge where she pushed herself well back so anyone walking by would not notice her. She jumped back down to check whether the light of the laptop could be seen from the street but it could not. The voices of her children rang though her head. Were they alright? How mad would her husband be? She had given him no warning and merely left a note telling him she was going to Paris to write her story. He probably thought she was in a hotel. She hadn’t looked to see if he had sent messages. She courageously pushed all these thoughts out of her head. She scrambled back to her position and started tapping very softly on the keys.
ArkiMay was reading about Brenda’s struggle to succeed and she found herself having similar feelings. She had updated quite a bit of the things the men talked about at the bar and the tasks that Max did in the night for his information business but was it enough, she wasn’t too sure about who Marla thought the intended audience would be.
Not many seem to find their way without struggle.
Wouldn’t it be great to glide through life on a whirl of glamour and success? To feel triumph every day and not to have to fight emotions that cause stress. Brenda was unsure if she was writing about herself or Max until she slipped back into Max’s world. Max thought he sometimes did suffer from negative emotions especially after a boozy night.
He was back at the library and briefly talked to Angela about the cement factory and she went into a spiel about the dust covering her car and ruining the paint work on her auntie’s garden ornaments. Max told her that there should be an improvement soon. Tony had told him about the new filters so the fallout dust would be lessened. Countering this good news, though, Max had discovered some disturbing news about how the feed going into the plant was going to be recycled waste that could contain anything including plastics and he privately thought he should buy one of his sister’s devices to measure emissions.
ArkiMay wanted to add more about Charlotte’s wireless sensor network systems here. She thought while in Brenda’s story The Theodorus Spiral Company sold CO2 emission detectors she thought in the updated version there should be RF EMF detectors available. ArkiMay wrote another note to speak to Marla.
Brenda was getting distracted and tired; she turned the laptop off and drifted into sleep, incredibly unaware of her surroundings. Hours later a shout and scuffling sounds woke her and she froze in terror as she was on a large window ledge of a building in Paris, not in her bed with her husband beside her and her children asleep in their rooms. Her throat was raw and when she wiped her face it was wet, she had been crying in her sleep. She shrank into her coat as small as she could be and listened carefully to any sign anyone would approach her.
Finally the sun was bringing some light with it and Brenda felt relief spread though her, she had survived her first night. She was so sore she felt that she might not be able to walk but she very gingerly eased her way down to the ground and gathered her belongings and began to walk back to the park bench. In the corners of her eyes she spied other night dwellers appearing. She refused to make eye contact, determined to stick with her plan to get back to her story. For a moment she eased a small smile and imagined herself telling her husband about the night but then cringed at the thought he might never want to speak to her again.
Once settled on the bench she took one quick look at the view of the city of Paris and then turned on the laptop. The battery was getting low and she knew that later she would need to find somewhere to recharge it and fix herself up however she didn’t get to finish those thoughts because her mind was instantly back into the story.
Brenda felt she was ignoring her other characters. She really wanted bring Max’s sister Charlotte into the story. Time was beginning to fail to follow any order because scientists in the year 3000 were streaming a hologram back to the year 2021 and this was having numerous consequences.
Encouraged by the success of the previous chapter Brenda pushed on and was thrilled with the time entanglement story line, she sat daydreaming about the crazy happenings that could be possible with time having no order, just free to loop around and around on itself. Her heart pounded and her stomach twisted. She was alive. She was excited about her story but could not type fast enough before another flood of ideas and storylines entered her mind.
She found herself typing about Max again. Max was still sitting with Kate outside the hotel. Max was thinking about his finances. He had made $1000 dollars in the last couple of days and several other contracts had been completed so he was up a good $800 bucks for the day. Running your own business can be a little scary when it is impossible to know how much money would be made in a week.
Max bought Kate a drink and they had a meal together. Kate needed Max’s help with the Department of Human Services. She had received a debt letter but couldn’t work out if she owed money back to the Government or not. When she tried to ring she was put on hold for hours and her phone run out of charge leaving her with a deep feeling of despair.
As Frank had said when they had discussed it. “Sure they need to catch deliberate fraudsters who are ripping the tax payer off.”
However Max was very angry that the Department seemed to be focusing on those who were trying to get work and do the right thing and them presented them with impossible resolution options.
He would pursue trying to fix this appalling lack of care. He knew that it would be possible to record a natural language information request and be put into a queue without waiting on the phone line. Then be messaged with a number of available service times to choose from.
ArkiMay was happy with her current affairs additions.
Fellow barfly George showed up. He had been working on a technique that uses dots of paint of different colours that mixed on the canvas. He lived in one of the boarding houses overlooking the Main Road. He often caught the tram to town to visit the Art Gallery of South Australia. Max knew George was going to be famous before he was. There was something about him.
George often sipped whiskey at the Port Bar and he became involved in the Kate affair when she took a fancy to him and Dale had to explain the situation to him down the side street. George called in just after dusk each evening. He walked the streets at dusk to experience the light for his paintings.
Everyone suggested to George that he should discourage Kate from chasing him if he liked the shape of his nose. George was proud that Kate liked him and she became a sort of muse to him. Max reasoned that George might have moved away sooner if Kate was not in Port Adelaide as there really was not much happening there. In fact the billboard saying The Port Is Happening had faded so badly it was the community joke. Having said that, some people were more than happy with the slow progress as they were not keen to have it too populated with all the traffic and crowd problems that would come with it. The Port had an old world charm with its run down derelict buildings. In many ways it was an artist’s paradise as it brought out emotion in people and the daily grind was etched on the faces of the people who worked and lived there.
Brenda was baffled as to where this story line was going; it really was just her getting down on paper her view on local government and town planning. She thought she might come back and take the segment out later. She highlighted it in red and carried on. She knew that George was going to be George Seurat from the past and she wanted George to be the another sign that something was happening with the timeline.
A famous artist comes from the past into the future and later when one of the characters goes to the Art Institute of Chicago they find that people they know are painted into a 1900’s painting set in Paris on the banks of the Seine.
So should she now leave it out and have a different story line? ‘No, leave it all in and come back later and weed out anything that seems to be duplicating other works,’ she told herself. A passer-by gave her a queer look. ‘Oh, I am talking to myself in public,’ she thought and covered her face in shame.
What role does George play in the story? ArkiMay decides to cut two other characters completely out of the story.
After rereading her work Brenda felt quite low. What she had written was not getting to her true thread. She felt that she hadn’t adequately made the point that time in the story was overlapping. She really felt she needed to put something more into it.
4 (2.00) Charlotte and Theodorus Spiral Company (1320)
Max thought the time entanglement was caused by Charlotte’s blacksmithing. At Charlotte’s house there is Tarni aged ten, Kezza seventeen and Lottie sixty-five as well as Charlotte. Max would say she is full of herself (he jokes and chuckles to himself when he has had a couple of beers). This apparently came about when Charlotte began dabbling in blacksmithing on their great grandfather’s forge and she somehow managed to twist time around itself and ended up with a full house. You could say she is full of herself (ha ha ha). Charlotte told him about this one day because for some reason she thought I might be able to help with a problem with Kezza (17-year-old Charlotte). I do actually remember her at that age and she definitely was a pain in the arse.
Charlotte thought the time entanglement had occurred when she had gone out to ancient aboriginal lands. She had been on a hunt with an old boyfriend to find a front end loader that had been stolen and there had been a tip-off that the loader was out bush. While she was looking for the loader she came across a buried sculpture, it was a made of iron, plastic and pink concrete. It was the Theodorus Spiral on a Pedestal. This was not an artefact from the past it was from the future.
Brenda needed a wash, her fingers ached from typing, her neck muscles felt like they were on fire. Brenda staggered down the footpath in the direction of the public library where she intended to try to clean up.
Later that morning she went to a cheap hotel and once she lay on the bed she fell asleep and slept for twelve hours. When Brenda awoke she felt surprisingly excited, she was in Paris; she was doing what she wanted to do despite all the social norms and upbringing that would have conditioned her not to follow her dreams but remain straddled to her lifestyle. The other thing was that she had a great dream in her sleep, she couldn’t wait to start writing. There was so much more to write about Charlotte and the Theodorus Spiral Company.
Charlotte is Max’s sister and Brenda paused and spent some time thinking about the developments in Charlotte’s life; how the Theodorus Spiral Company she had dreamed of years ago was now up and running, how successful it was and she imagined herself in the factory, what it would look like and how it had been to set up, all the infinite details.
Suddenly Brenda remembered that late last night she had rearranged the chapters to fit a certain length so that if the number of words in each chapter were plotted it would draw a spiral representing the change in the hypotenuse for each spoke. She named it the Theodorus Second Derivative Spiral. She needed to put in the connection between Theodorus of Cyrene in 400 BC and Charlotte as a child and as an adult here so the reader would know what she was on about.
Back in his day Theodorus woke up from an uncomfortable night under the stars. He had fallen asleep while thinking about the spiral. What happened if he kept going around and around? He had a vision during the night and it was so clear to him that he found it hard to believe it was a dream. He wanted to know what had happened, but he could not fathom it out. He had seen a young girl in a group of other young people. The world was completely different. Everything seemed ‘smooth’ and the light was very different.
There was a group of children in a room. The children were colouring in the theodorus spirals. Every child had one and every page looked the exactly the same. Theodorus was amazed. The page was a very white with a perfect Theodorus Spiral drawn. He reached down next to the young girl and lifted the flat white sheet with the picture on it. He said, “the first hypotenuse is the square root of 2, the second is the square root of 3, and so on.”
The child reacted and looked up into his face. Her face showed a look of amazement. He returned that look. He was in the future. She was looking back at the past. They connected; she knew he was interested in the picture of the spiral and that he had first thought about this a long time ago. She knew he wanted to know more about it. She knew and she did not know but would grow up to find out. She felt a sense of purpose flush over her. The man faded away.
Theodorus had been to the future to 1980 to a primary school classroom in South Australia. He had met a little girl who was going to find out what happened to the spiral as it got bigger and bigger.
This, in turn, had led to her studying engineering. She was now involved in some research and this was getting very interesting with the start of her company; The Theodorus Spiral Company. The thought of the factory and subsidiary businesses that could be created made her mind flip. Her plan was to set up a factory creating iron shields designed from the ancient Theodorus Spiral, and then market this with a mythical/magical lure. There could be a shop with T-shirts and other mementos for sale and a cafe attached to the business.
Charlotte had already found the location, opposite the cement factory, and another side business would be to monitor the emissions coming from the factory and sell personal emissions analyser for the public. It was exciting to have a plan and to imagine the future and what it might look like however in reality she knew that none of it had actually happened yet and may not. She tried to think of what barriers would get in the way; like her fear of failure or worse her fear of success.
Brenda was wandering the streets, contemplating her novel. She was back to work on how successful the Theodorus Spiral Company had been for Charlotte. Earlier Charlotte was daydreaming about her new ideas about a factory, in Brenda’s dream she had seen the factory in full swing with Charlotte occupying a mezzanine floor looking down at her creation. She was comfortable with shag pile rugs and red fluffy throws over lounges and she was some sort of queen of the factory. As a bonus, a visitor, a Viking, had come to see her about an order for shields.
The story was unfolding. Brenda could see that. The Viking would be a warrior from the past that Charlotte was selling the shields to. Time in her story would be flexible; the past could easily come to the future. With no food for 30 hours Brenda was delirious; she was rambling now. This is not going to win a fiction writing competition. Her heart sank. She really wanted to win but her book was a shabobble. The thought of the word shabobble made her weep again. Shabobble was a word she had invented for her children; it just meant a stuff-up or cluster of mistakes.
5 (2.24) Who is Claude? (1220)
While she was waiting for something to happen – something happened. Claude stepped into her view. She couldn’t be sure how long he had been there. Brenda thought she would have known but there he was. Her initial reaction was to look down; she did not want to appear to be waiting for him. When she looked up he was smiling at her. By the time he was a step away Brenda felt an incredible rush travel through her body. She already knew he was a friend. How could that be? Is that instinct or something else? Hey, what’s your take on it dear reader? Do you know?
Claude was very well spoken. He introduced himself and asked if he could sit beside her. He was the first person, other than the hotel and airport staff she had spoken to in Paris. She stiffened up, she was nervous but the loneliness was taking its toll.
“How is the book coming along?”
“Why do you think I am writing a book?”
“Everybody comes to Paris and tries to write a book. What, did you think you’re the first? You’ve run away to Paris to write a best seller, to make your fortune.” He started laughing heartily. It was cruel. Not only was the story failing with all hope seeping out of Brenda, but now a man was sitting next to her laughing until tears rolled out of his eyes.
He reached into his pocket, pulled out an apple and handed it to her. She devoured it in seconds. Spit and apple fragments sprayed out over the keyboard and down her chin. Claude said he would buy her something to eat at a café down the street. She weakly followed him.
When they were seated and the food had been ordered, he had even leaned across and wiped the apple juice and skin off her face. Slowly she began to tell him about herself. She knew he thought she was a fool. She thought she was a fool, why wouldn’t he. She began to feel more comfortable. She was making a friend; it seemed. He wanted to know about the story she was writing so she began to tell him. She had not told anyone else she was even writing a story let along what it was about. She felt foolish, it sounded weak or was she weak from the stress of her rapid departure from Australia and her family. She knew it must be taking its toll. She told him about the spiral and the factory, the characters, Max, Charlotte and Kesbooks. He nodded, asked some questions and appeared to be thinking about what she was saying.
When she had finished he paused and said, “I don’t know, Brenda, it sounds thin, there has to be something in the story. You’re not getting much action happening, it is all before and after with short random scenes roughly joined together. I don’t think the judges will go for this.” Well at least he didn’t sugar coat his response by telling her it was fantastic when secretly thinking it was no good.
They had more coffee and eventually it came to the point where they really couldn’t stay any longer. Claude suggested they go to museum in Montmartre. Brenda was delighted. This was one of her must dos while here and now she was going with her new friend. She didn’t hesitate. Once at the museum she peered at every exhibit, looking for something, a clue or guides for her story. Claude noticed and soon guessed what she was doing and told her to stop trying so hard.
“Time is travelling in the right order,” he said. “There are no clues here from the past or the future. Just relax.”
This niggled on Brenda’s nerves because she was really dedicated to finishing her book and she did believe helpful hints were given to her from the past through art, literature and music. These artists were telling future beings something or were they not? Brenda could only see that they were. Anything and everything could be a clue for her. Her senses were on high alert after days of meagre food consumption and stress of the journey and living on the street. She felt she was hearing every footstep and cough as they moved out of the museum. The colours in the sky were marvellous. She felt exhilarated but also extremely anxious at the same time.
Claude had reached out for her hand and she let it happen. They were wondering through the streets together and entered into a residence. Brenda did not know where she was. Claude was handing her a wine and all she could do was accept.
“Can I play your piano?” she asked having spotted a piano in a little room off the sitting room.
“Sure,” Claude replied from the kitchen.
Brenda started to play her song that she had written, Homeless in Paridise. She felt all her tension melt, the notes seemed to fly like kites in the air. She even managed to sing. She was in a stranger’s house. It was one of the scenarios she had told herself not to get into. It was dangerous. The panic rose in her. Claude had gone into another room so she took the opportunity to bolt for the door. She could hear him calling her but she ran and ran, carrying her backpack, straining every muscle. Her heart was beating hard but she carried on. Montmartre is on a hill so she just travelled on the downward slope weaving across and down. She reached the main road and the street was very crowded. It was a long way back to the river but she dragged her feet along. She kept her eyes down and she soon wished she had stayed in the warm house but she knew she should not have gone with a stranger to their house. She ducked into the first hotel that she thought she might be able to afford and settled into a room for the night. Again she slept for hours and hours while the Parisian life carried on around her.
When Brenda awoke she felt very foolish. Not very cool; she tortured herself with embarrassment. Check-out was not for hours so she changed tack, put on her runners and headed out for a jog. She ran and ran, just letting all the stored nervous energy go. It was a strategy she had often used when she was stressed or angry; she would run to let it go. Running through the streets of Paris was another dream come true. It was very early on a Sunday morning so she had a lot of the back streets to herself. Now she was happy, she even took a moment to smile to herself, something that she had not done for a long time.
While running her mind whirled with new ideas for the book. Back at the hotel she reread her work so far. It was a mess, the characters were not doing anything, and who were Max’s friends? Why were they in the story? What about Kesbooks, the hologram? How was she going to fit in? Slowly, though, Brenda felt that Max was not comfortable with the time disparities. She would make it that he would work hard to try to straighten the time out and in the end have to make a sacrifice and stand up for what he believed in. That sacrifice might even be his death. She began to type, trying to build up Max’s character and introduce his friends.
6 (3.00) Max’s meets Marla (1145)
The next day Max went to visit Angela at the library. She told him she’d had wonderful morning helping customers with their inquiries and had convinced two residents to take up action regarding a local park. She was turning into an environmentalist. Always going on about the way we should work to be more sustainable for the future.
“Can you find out anything positive about fallout from a cement factory” I asked her. She gave me a wonderful smile. “I love the way you work, Max. Information is a powerful commodity. Look at all these people, Max; I think I am the only person working today.” He looked around and had to think about what she was saying. There had to be at least fifty people browsing in the library. She had a point.
“Come back tomorrow Max, I will see what I can find for you. If we just spent the time and money scanning content and indexes we could retrieve a lot more information like the type you are asking for. Since the commercialisation of Google more people come to the library to find information.”
Max was back at the Port Bar enjoying another beer. Did he have a drinking problem? No he didn’t think so. It was just that he liked being at the Port Bar and he would only have a couple while he waited to see who came in. He was thinking about his friends and about his party which would start soon.
The party was starting in a couple of hours and Max had cleaned up his house in anticipation of the guest’s arrival earlier in the week. He decided he couldn’t wait any longer to have a drink so he went out to the shed where he had prepared a bar with quite an assortment of beverages. He was taken by surprise when he found John, an old friend, was sitting in the corner of his shed. Max was not scared as he looked very much like he had always looked: a bit sullen and angry with the world but happy to see him in a childlike way. Max was sure pleased to see him. He still had short red hair with a very long plait down his back and a very cheeky grin.
Max was over the initial shock and now warmed up to the idea of spending an evening with him. Max put a beer next to him and he laughed. Max told him about his plans for his time travel business. It was difficult to communicate with him but he tried. Max thought about what he must look like talking to himself. He wanted to continue the relationship now he had come to find him but the next day he was gone again. Just like when he was alive.
Charlotte came with a friend from overseas. Frank bought his wife who Max had never met in all the years they had drunk together. Kate had got the night off work. Several brought friends and family along with them. Kesbooks was there too, recording everything for the people of the year three thousand.
Everyone was talking at once about time travel. There was such a buzz about what was going on. Everyone wanted to do something different, go back in time and change events, go forward to find out the lottery numbers; it was pandemonium. The church had come out and said it was unnatural to change the order of time, some people said they were too scared to try it. Others thought they would give it a go. It was all so new. What a change for the whole world to deal with. Christian and Sandy were planning a trip back to try to see Jesus. What would you do? Are you happy with only knowing the past? If it could be changed would you be brave enough to go ahead go into the future to see how you fare or do you really already know what is going to happen to you.
Brenda was back out on the street, she began thinking she would have to try to get a job and somewhere to stay. This was a step back toward her old life. Perhaps she was not a writer but an ordinary person with no particular talents. She found herself talking to herself again. Brenda she said to herself, perhaps this is just the story of your life. Perhaps this adventure is something you will look back on and laugh about or at least have to yourself. Maybe it is back to work and family for you. You could go home, even if Jeremy won’t let you back into the house you could stay with a friend until you get resettled. The children might even admire you for trying. Perhaps it is all part of your path to the person you are going to be. She was yielding to defeat, there was not going to be any glory of being a famous writer. A moment of horror came over her. She was not who she wanted to be, only who she was. She felt sick, it was not enough. She thought about walking in front of a train but dismissed this quickly. She wouldn’t do that. There was nothing else to do but write a bit more to see if there was going to be an end to the story.
The funny part about the party Max was reflecting was that Kesbooks and John got along so well. I mean a ghost and a computer avatar, what a match. Max was shaking his head; life had really got mixed up now. It was pretty well untenable, he wanted out of it. The only good that was coming out of it was the economy was doing well. With people travelling back and forth in time there was so much more trade happening. Travel agents were creating fabulous tours of past events. Everyone wanted to go back to see the Middle Ages, see the pyramids being built or hang out with their favourite historical figure. There was a lot of research and paper work to take care of. Max had been in the uptake of the new world so he had made quite a fortune.
Another great thing that happened at the party was that Max met a nice lady name Marla. He was very pleased with himself. He really liked Marla and he really was thought her lovely because given all the opportunities the time entanglement gave everyone, she wanted to go back to a really great night she had back in her teen years. Max thought this was pretty sincere. All was going well for him.
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