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The Hanged Man

Chapter Thirteen





Tonight she expected intimacy and he had been away such a long time. Helen had communicated a desire to make a trip with him. He would expect Antiope to make the same request. He sensed that Antiope's financial power would soon bore her, and she would seek some other form of past time. As long as Antiope felt needed and useful though, she would be content. She seemed to be quite happy with her Earth corporation for now.


Qblh resolved that they should spend the night on the town incognito. He had no taste for a lavish highly socialized evening. Qblh resolved instead to have a look at the city's gutters. To anticipate how to deal with Earth's problems, he decided that he would need a street level view of the ills of an American city.


Helen, still speaking, held the audience captured by her beauty. Helen had dressed a little more provocatively than Antiope, and it was quite apparent that the men were not paying complete attention to her words. Helen was quite aware of the fascination that the men had with her and she loved the attention.


Antiope whispered into Jim's ear. "Where are we off to tonight, lover?"


"We're going for a walk. Genie can transport us. I'll preview each area before we rematerialize so as to not draw attention to ourselves. Genie will provide you with an appropriate wardrobe."


"Is Genie with you now?"


"Of course."


"Can we manage to recreate the van? Perhaps the streets may be a little more appealing to me if you would at least give a lady a ride on your cheap date rather than make me walk. We could see more that way, and I'll even walk now and then as you carry the van with you."


"Genie, is that going to be a problem?"


"Let me calculate. It shall take a few seconds."


"Why, Genie, you are getting slow."


"I have to consider several thousand options and calculate the optimal path. I assume you are seeking rematerialization in high crime districts in a method to maximize viewing of potential human abuse cases."


"Even in America expect violation of human rights. The more advanced the social structure, the greater the potential for abuse of power. The state will always try to advance its point of view as superior to the soul's point of view. It is quite obvious that people who live in darkness shall fear the truth as much as they fear being forced to change their lifestyles. The rich will always fear the poor, because they are afraid of being poor themselves. I must assess the weaknesses of this society, because she most certainly will strike humanity there. I am considering the possibility of taking both of you back to another time."


"Why is that, Jim?"


"Because I want to."


"Now you have my undivided attention." She smiled at him.


"I don't think I can be satisfied by staying in one particular time field anymore. She mentioned something to that effect when I left her."


"She told you that in a ritual?"


"Yes, when she named me Qblh."


"Jim, if you're Qblh then she is expecting you to rule earth for her."


"She knows I won't do that."


"You will if you intend to defend Earth from her. She does know you, and she does control you."


"Not as much as she thinks she does."


"Nevertheless, you must always deal with her and you're here on Earth as a Venetian representative. It's in your blood. You're Qblh and she is Isis. I couldn't expect you to be any different than you are. I love you and I shall always defend you to the death as your bodyguard."


"You no longer are bound by that rank."


"I am still your humble and loyal servant."


"Antiope, I don't recall that humility is one of your characteristics."


Antiope pouted. "Don't be cruel Jim. I am very sensitive to all that you say. I can remember your words and your inflections better than you."


"So who do these people think I am?"


"Just another man seeking my favor. I am always surrounded by important American men. My calendar is always full. They believe you to be nothing more than an Air Force Intelligence Officer under the employ of General Armstrong."


"They may think differently in a few days."


"You control your destiny. That's why you are Qblh."


"I don't have as much control as you think."


"Perhaps you have more than you think. Qblh you know your future potential is greater than now. Who knows what you can do in the future?"


"Perhaps you expect too much."


"Back to Earth, Jim. These people need our help. I've learned to appreciate their culture, and I'd like to see these people have a blessed future. Your instincts to protect these people were good, honest feelings Jim. Isis is obsessed with power over us all. Sometimes I fail to see the good in that. She is much too cynical, but who am I to judge her? I can't imagine being in her position. We all fear her wrath, and she doesn't hesitate to demonstrate it. You are much more forgiving, my Qblh. I am your lover and your servant."


"Why?"Jim laughed. "You expect me to explain that! Yes, I guess you do. Perhaps I could do that, but I would betray myself. Well I intend to buy some time so as to facilitate my decision. I may take a slight detour on my way back to Artemis when Genie is fully operational. Do you want to come with?"


"How long is this detour going to take? Or should I even have asked?"


"No time at all."


"You know I would love to, Jim."


"Expect to depart with me tomorrow then. I'll leave then I should be right back for you. There may be some delay. I'm not sure of the margin that I shall provide myself with."


"Do I have some say as to where in the past we shall go?"


"Perhaps. Think about where you would like to go."


"Jim, what are the implications of traveling into the future and coming back? You seem reluctant to do that. You must have that capability. I want to know your reservations."


"Perspective and point of view."


"What do you mean?"


"You wish to look at the present from the future's point of view."




"When we journeyed to the past, we dared not change the future different to our memory and we tried to avoid those aspects of the past that related to our memory. Genie's navigational system takes history into account. It's part of the paradox avoidance principle. Jumping into the future and returning is more difficult, because a return path is not guaranteed."


"I dare not change the future to conflict with my future memories. This would complicate Genie's navigational system, and I do depend on it somewhat to get around. As you see, Genie's circuits can overload and leave me stranded."


"Which means that such time travel is possible."

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