The following story is part of the Exodus universe)
(On-board the science ship, Intrepid)
The silence of space offers many chances for reflection. While the world and universe may change due to time, silence brings everything back to the point of infinity, where time has no meaning. It is here that concepts, ideas, and dreams go beyond what our reality limits us to.
In a cabin aboard one of many ships, two lovers have lived with this idea long before their journey.
Evan Richards was thinking throughout their silent nightly routine. He was helping his lover, Max, into bed as he had done countless times before on Earth and beyond. Max was drooling slightly as he usually does around bed time, while tenderly giving equal support as Evan got into bed from his wheelchair.
It was moments like these that gave Evan's legs a slight tingly feeling. It's been 20 years, since the incident that united them.
(20 years ago)
Evan Richards had just turned 12 years old over the summer, but he did not know what he was about to face as he had lost the ability to use the lower half of his body in a car accident. There were severe spinal cord and nerve injuries that were irreparable by the medical technologies at the time. The doctors thought he would be wheelchair bound for life.
Before the accident, he was an avid soccer player and his elementary school grades were near the top of his graduating class. Now as he was assigned to special education class for middle school, his life was changing fast.
Special education was one of the most deeply flawed institutions in the United States at the turn of the 21st century. The so-called education reform known as the “No Child Left Behind Act” pressed achieving goals and benchmarks above the thresholds of most antiquated state and local systems abilities to maintain. Coupled with a dramatic economic recession, the programs that supported special education classes became blurred further.
As Evan entered homeroom, he was frightened at the spectacle in front of him. There were blind kids with canes trying to figure out the room's layout by circling the perimeter. The Wheelchair bound kids had basically circled themselves like the American western pioneers had done for protection. There were mischievous normal looking kids, who by the chance of a strong learning disability, could not be part of the standard curriculum. Finally, scattered throughout all the groups were odd looking kids, who stared blankly at the spectacle in front of them. These kids looked like they were ranging from 12 years old up to 15 years old.
The teacher came in and briefly explained how the class would work to everyone in a slow and reserved fashion. Everyone was given independent study material, i.e. math books, history books, pencils, crayons, and other items. The class was segmented into blocks, where the kids were supposedly studying their subjects.
After the introduction, the teacher left the classroom for a cigarette. The class had been expanded by two folds and the special education staff had been reduced to this one teacher. Pressure, depression, and apathy had basically turned this once idealistic educator into a cold machine, who could no longer care for its students.
Evan wheeled himself over towards the other wheelchair bound kids, who greeted him with knowing looks.
“You're new to this school right?” one of the kids in the group asked Evan.
Evan nodded sheepishly.
“Well, my names Derek. You don't have to fear us; we're pretty nice bunch of guys” Derek started explaining, “The bats are just trying to figure out the room better by mapping out the place with their canes; they won't hit you over the head or something. The adders are pretty cool, too. They use their spare time to play tricks, but they don't try to be mean about it. The tards are a different story. They can appear pretty nice, but, if they can't get what they want, they might get violent”.
Evan had never known about this odd social world. His elementary school life was simple and uncomplicated. You went into your classes, do homework, and have some fun with friends at recess. He had never noticed wheelchair bound kids, blind kids, nor mentally disabled kids, but he knew they existed.
There were many worlds that human beings have yet explored in the heavens and on earth. Evan's ignorance was not unique, but a fact of our human condition binding us to our own perception and reality.
Eying Evan's unease another kid around their circle spoke up, “Don't worry, we don't have to stay here permanently. You can go to the office and ask for an assessment exam to get you into some advanced courses, if you are up to it”
As Evan's mind thought about the situation, his attention shifted from the group around him towards a shaggy blond haired boy. He was looking at Evan with a very unusual stare, which Evan recognized and reciprocated. There was a strange exchange between them like old friends seeing each other after a prolonged separation.
Derek had noticed the odd staring contest, “looks like you made a friend.” A slight laugh erupted from the group, which caused Evan to blush.
Hours and days passed in this new world. Evan learned quickly about his surroundings and the life within this new world. The strange boy had kept up his staring contest with Evan, who reciprocated in kind. There was a strange familiarity between them.
Evan had learned the boy's name was Max from Derek. Max was not prone to anger, but he wasn't friendly with anyone either. Max could not speak nor write coherent sentences. For most of his time, he drew weird symmetrical shapes, which demonstrated that Max had higher functionality to the old special needs counselor. However, this counselor was laid off along with a majority of the staff in the previous budget cuts.
Evan had begun taking advanced courses outside the special education class in earnest. He spent much of his time reading, writing, and studying. He didn't want to think about his legs or his inability to walk. His mind was focused on his studies rather than on his own limitations, which is what most people would hope for in his situation.
Many of the other kids in his special education class were amazed at his speed of knowledge acquisition, Derek nicknamed him “the hawk” after Stephen Hawking for his gifted intellect. By this point, Evan had become best friend with Derek and the rest of the “chair gang”, which they fancied themselves.
One day, Max came up to Evan with a box of sunflower seeds and a piece of paper.
“Eat...stem..paper...” Max said as he put the piece of paper and sunflower seeds on Evan's desk.
Evan looked at the piece of paper with strange shapes. Each shape had a line or several lines traversing another shape or several shapes. Evan started counting each lines traversing a shape from left to right. The following number sequence appeared:
The numbers held no significant meaning whatsoever to Evan, but the lines and shapes seemed familiar. Evan told his friends about the incident.
“Hawk, you can't make sense of crazy people; they just are crazy” one of his friends told him.
“Yeah, but it doesn't seem like he's crazy. There's something about these numbers that make sense...” Evan replied.
Derek took a look at the numbers and realized the connection, “Hey hawk, doesn't 1+1=2 and 1+2=3?”
Evan knew the same thing, “Yeah, I tried to work out the sequence in his drawing and it kept working like hundred of times until my calculator just couldn't handle it.”
Evan's friends couldn't explain the odd phenomenon, but they just told Evan to chalk it up to a fluke.
Each day afterward, Max appeared in front of Evan again and offered him two things, a box of sunflower seeds and a piece of paper. Evan knew that Max was somehow trying to reach out to him, but no one seriously believed it. The special education teacher no longer seriously cared about the students, who had been given up by the education budget.
Evan kept thinking back and forth over those shapes and the repeating sequence without rest; thus, he came up with courage to see his math teacher after all his classes about the mystery.
“Mr. Darwin, I don't know who to talk to, except for you. Can you make sense of these numbers?” Evan asked.
“Ah, I see you've been playing around with equations, Evan. Don't worry, it's nothing to be scared about. I wish this curriculum weren't so structured, then I could have taught you kids about this stuff,” Mr Darwin said with a smirk. Darwin had wished his advanced math course could include less state mandated material, but it was his job to help these kids pass the standardized tests.
“So you know what these numbers mean?” Evan pushed.
Mr. Darwin dug through his desk and found what he was looking for. He was laughing on the inside; reminiscing about how as a boy he would be rummaging for hustlers and playboys, a math magazine would be the last thing that would inspire him.
“Evan, this is a copy of the Fibonacci Quarterly” Mr. Darwin began, “The numbers that you found are part of the Fibonacci sequence, a very famous mathematical proof. You're only missing the first number in the sequence, which is 0.”
Evan hoped his effort would not sound absurd, “Mr. Darwin, does this sequence have anything to do with sunflowers or stems?”
Mr. Darwin thought about what he had read over the years. He knew Evan was smart and very inquisitive, but he did not know if Evan would grasp the advanced concept that he would have to tell him
Mr Darwin thought, “Well, I should teach this kid something he likes instead of arithmetic operations. How many times has a kid ever directly came to me and ask about math? Hell, education is supposed to be a way to open up the mind, not to drown the mind with repetitive crap.”
Having thought it over, Mr. Darwin began his explanation, “This sequence is unique among mathematics. I'm guessing you must have noticed that there are repeating sequences on a sunflower and other plants, which follow the Fibonacci sequence. The most famous example of the sequence in nature is the reproduction of rabbits, which Leonardo of Pisa postulated as treatise. In computer sciences, the first two numbers, 0 and 1, form the basis of computer code. No one really understands why there is such a strange repetition within nature, but it is very common. Some people even think that this sequence is God's signature within the universe like an artist on paintings. If you want, I can loan the Fibonacci quarterly to you.”
Evan's mind was spinning with this revelation and he needed to know, “Can someone use this sequence to communicate?”
Mr. Darwin pondered the question and responded, “If such a language existed, then it would be a true universal language. Human beings are only using binary codes within the sequence for our computers. However, if the entire sequence were utilize, then you could theoretically create a language that encompasses everything from galaxies to the quantum level of atoms.”
Throughout the afternoon, Mr. Darwin taught Evan many things about the occurrences of the Fibonacci sequence, the Golden Ratio, and the logarithmic patterns existent in spirals. Evan did not tell Mr. Darwin about Max nor the strange shapes that the sequence intersects. There was something within him that blocked the information from being known.
Evan's parents eventually came and ended the conversation between Evan and Mr. Darwin, but it did not end Evan's inquisitive thoughts, “What is Max trying to convey to him?“
The next day, Max approached Evan again with the same items. Evan tried to get Max to talk to him, but Max said nothing else. Evan wished he could talk with this boy. Evan stared at Max for their remaining time together, but Max merely stared toward the window.
Derek and the other kids tried to give Evan something else to think about, but Evan could not avert his gaze. Evan wished there was just some way for him to communicate with Max. He couldn't explain it, but there was something about Max that captivated him.
During the day, a powerful lightning storm formed. There were flashes of light every few minutes. The thunder caused the desks within the school to shake with fury. The teacher tried their best to avert the students gaze outside.
Evan wondered if Max was still gazing outside the window in the special education class. He wondered if Max knew that such a lightning storm would form. He wondered why he cared so much about the shaggy blond haired boy.
At the end of school, most of the students waited inside the building for their buses and parents to pick them up due to the heavy rain outside. Evan tried to look for Max, where the other tards were, but he did not have any success. Evan went outside in the heavy rain and started searching for Max. At the flag pole on the opposite side of the building, he found Max. Max stared at him for the first time that day, but he had a reassuring grin on his face.
Suddenly, lightning hit the metallic flag pole and coursed through Max. If lightning were to strike a human being directly, they would never be able to withstand such force. However, the grounding of the flag pole and resistance in the metal structure reduced the power of the lighting strike. The energy though was sufficient to allow something amazing to happen.
Evan quickly wheeled himself toward Max; he implored Max to speak to him. Evan feared the worst had happened with such a lightning strike. However, Max did something much better.
Light overcame everything around Evan as the world disappeared. The entire area was white like a blank piece of paper.
“Where am I?” Evan asked.
“You're inside my consciousness, Evan” Max said with the same grin on his face, “It worked.”
“Were you expecting the lightning storm and wanted to get hit?” Evan asked.
“Yes, I was making calculations today based on probability. If the lightning strike were stronger, I would have died. If weaker, then I could not perform this projection. I am thankful we have this chance. It is your questioning nature that has always attracted me. I wish I could answer all your questions, but I know that our time is short even in this mental realm. Unlike the “First”, I can only maintain this mental dimension for a few moments in my human form” Max replied.
“Are you an alien?” Evan asked.
“Yes, but you are not human either. Your previous forms were not born on this world, but you still had a connection to this world. My people are known as the Arknor, we are one of the most advanced and evolved species within this universe. We cultivate our knowledge by experimentation and learning through the eyes of other species” Max explained
“Why are you mentally handicapped if your species are so smart?” Evan kept up his questions.
“Human beings have very primitive minds that cannot accommodate our advance consciousness. Even among their own species, they cannot separate true brilliance from insanity. Their world is isolated in their views of normality and custom, which prevents them from understanding the universe or themselves. The Arknor usually would not enter their natural birth cycle; except, human beings have a unique branch group, who we owe a debt” Max responded.
“Why tell me all this stuff? Am I like some kind of super being or something?” Evan asked with a few wishful thoughts of superheroes.
Max felt a stir as he continued his explanation, “I am telling you the truth, because there's a massive change coming to mankind. Within this century, conflict and destruction will consume the world due to human frailty and external manipulation from an ancient adversary. You were among the few beings that grasped our language.”
Evan understood and replied, “Your language is the Fibonacci sequence.”
Max nodded and added, “Our language is a representation of our knowledge. Those shapes each correspond to points of reference and those lines correspond to points of divergence”
Evan grew incredibly excited at the prospects, “So what did the piece of paper say?”
Max hesitated for a moment, “It said.....I will always love and watch over you.”
Evan was stunned by this revelation, “Uh....I....”
“I don't expect you to understand what I am telling you; your mind is still prepubescent by human standards, but I know your consciousness remembers me. I know you might not reciprocate my feelings towards you, but I'm grateful to have this chance to see you again” Max explained and assured Evan.
Evan had barely began the first stages of puberty. He did know that he was happier around boys than girls, but he did not feel love for anyone yet.
“Why don't we play some soccer?” Max asked, trying to change the subject.
The entire area transformed into a soccer field; the white surface changed into a green and amber.
“Huh? I can't stand up, how can I play?” Evan asked with a look of anger.
Max approached Evan and offered his hand, “This place exists in thoughts and dreams. This soccer field exists in your memories. You can play as much as you want in here.”
Evan tried to get up by himself, but failed miserably, “I can't get up, don't you get it. I can never walk again!”
Max again offered his hand, “Take my hand, I know you can get up, but you have to believe in it.”
Evan looked up at Max and grudgingly took his hand. In a moment, Evan felt his legs twitch and began rising.
Evan was amazed, “I'm standing again; I can feel my legs. Wow!”
Max gleamed, “Let's play some soccer.”
“I still have a lot of questions though,” Evan added.
Max nodded, “There will always be more questions, but dreams should always come first.”
Max and Evan played their game of soccer. The game was from Evan's memories, when he played attacker in his youth soccer league. Max took up the position of the opposing team's stopper. Max's side was able to score two points and Evan scored two points with one minute left.
Evan was both exhilarated and exhausted, but he knew that their side can make one last drive.
Suddenly, the ball disappeared.
“It's time, we'll have to continue our game later,” Max said as the world around them disappeared.
(At the flag pole)
Evan felt the rain drenching his body. He took a look at Max, who stood immediately in front of his wheelchair. Their eyes met.
“Was that real?” Evan asked.
There was no expression from Max.
“Are you really an Arknor?” Evan kept his questioning.
Max remained expressionless.
“Do you really....umm...love me?” Evan asked.
Max smiled and offered his hand just as he did before. Tears flowed down Evan's cheek, which blended with the rain.
The rest was part of history....
© 2010 W.L