Little Ludwig had a big head and small ears. His ambition was large
enough for those. Sounds unheard by other men came unbidden unto
his dome. To capture these and wield them drove him, some say to
madness. In all the Links of the Hyperverse, he alone held the
secret sound of the Sphere. He was ten years old as counted by the
Crones, and his world was as small as his ears.
Though Ludwig possessed or was possessed by the secret sound of the
Sphere he did not know it; no one did. Lesser sounds had indeed
penetrated his dome and lodged themselves in his private mental
library. He could draw upon them at will; never forgetting them. He
combined them in new ways, creating new melodies which revealed new
beauties and depths of truth to him that individually the sounds
did not. Some melodies he vocalised or made public by the
instruments available to him but even though these stunned his
audiences he knew they were only hearing a crude and imperfect
version of the glorious pure notes he alone could hear.
As for the secret sound, it was buried deep within his psyche and
could by no means be tapped by a ten-year-old boy. He had not heard
it yet and he would not for many years still. But one day when he
had grown to the Age of Independence then it would start to make
its presence felt, very gently and almost imperceptibly at first.
It was a sentient sound and it would never overwhelm its chosen
instrument. It would tutor him patiently over many years, and if it
deemed him worthy would allow itself to be heard completely. Then
Ludwig would become one of the most powerful beings in the
Hyperverse. His quest to find his other gifted brethren would begin
then for who is there that does not want to find more like himself
if he becomes aware that he is the only one of his kind among his
own people. So, hidden in a remote corner of the hyperverse a small
child grew -- unaware of his great destiny.
"Ludwig! For sakes! Get thee hence from the airs and gi' ye focus
now, you hear?" This bellowed from below and as always shocked him
from some sibilant note just beyond reach. "I come, Marm." For truth,
he had to obey or be subject to all manner of displeasance.
"Ah, good." She muttered as he came down the stairs into the vita.
"You know that I must see you to your classes -- and me with this big
dinner tonight and the *black box needing replacing and all."
She fussed like a *phorus all a-tither at the many steps of her day
which Ludwig could only interrupt but to do his tasks. With not much
joy he performed those few mundane things the world requires and,
wondering at the folly of being organic, he found his way out the
door and into school.
Where he had been, a step before, the sun had spun an orange morning
light over their arbor. Now it was the twin lights of a set of stars
which shone high and white. He shook the light electric sensation of
the Link from his slight frame and sighed. Melancholy, thy name is
the *pale of School, thought he.
*note: black box (BB) is a nano-factory. It is called a black box
because it's inner-workings are beyond normal ken and one simply uses
it until it stops working. There are different kinds. This one is
essentially the entire kitchen; food, dishes, knives, forks, cups and
everything is made from it -- and returned to it afterwards. Nice eh?
*note: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phorusrhacidae (with the
suggestion that this creature has been re-gengineered and is now
really a large chicken and common in the 'verse. Only rarely (in
certain verse cultures) are they actually eaten. The BB provides any
kind of food without requiring slaughter. *note: Pale means "zone" or
"burgh" or "country" -- the Pale of so-and-so.
With a heavy heart and a heavy tread Ludwig headed for the cultivated
green and flowery vale in which lay the school buildings and gardens.
Classes were held indoors in the cool recesses of the pillared Temple
of Learning, and in the open air in small circular patches of
comfortable spongy flat grass. School was not really so unpleasant but
for any child school will always be a prison. And the end of school
always a release from confinement.
Today was indeed a beautiful day, bright and warm it was with the air
filled with the soft humming of the disc-shaped hoverers. Ludwig
looked at one as it chased some other flying creature as yet invisible
to his eyes. He could have summoned the hoverer - that was something he
had learned to do with one of the sounds but his mood was low and he
wasn't ready for games or fun.
He passed through an arch and soon entered through a rustic gate,
almost always left open, into a glade, the Temple stood glistening
white and majestic a short distance away. Some children were running up
and down its stairs and on the lawns chasing each other. It was not yet
time for classes to begin. The thought of sitting still listening to
the white-robed Lector almost made him groan aloud.
Spaced around the perimeter of the Temple were other pale-gates like the one
he had used. They were all rusty and old and through the arch of each one
there was a different sky. Ludwig could hear the Sound from every one as he
turned his head and by moving it about and varying the speed he composed
snatches of the Sphere. Da Da D-- "Luddi!" came a boisterous cry. Lucky piled
into him and they rolled on the grass. She was all freckles and smiles and
ended-up sitting on his chest, but her laughter faded at the dark look on
"Ah Luddi, did I spoil something?" She asked.
"Nay Lucky, you know... I thought perhaps I heard something. It matters not
-- and get off me! You are like a fat Brown Dwarf."
"Oh, nice!" She joked, rolling off and slapping his arm. The two friends lay on
their backs and looked at the silly disks chasing across the sky. Lucky, who's
name was actually Lucy, had a theory that they all lived in the Temple attic
at night, but neither of them had found a way to the top to find out. It was
taboo, but this only spiced their tacit conspiracy to go see.
The bell rang; an ugly sound that hurt inside. If I need to shock, thought
Ludwig, I will use that sound.
"Class is convened," said Lucky.
"Scan down, children," said Meister Go. The class settled into grudging
silence as paper came out and the Meister wrote something on the white board.
Ludwig was the only one in the class of twenty who could hear the slight
harmonics made by the pen as it squeaked against the smart-film of the board.
The tones, discordant and fluctuating almost sent him into one of his reveries,
but the writing stopped with a final crescendo of flourish and period. The path
of that music now said "History" as the lesson joined.
"Who can tell me about the Multiverse?" asked the Meister. There was a general
murmur of chagrin. The Meister smiled, "I know you are all wikied into the Net
and you think you know it all, but humor an old man please. Come now, let's
talk about the past, you may hyper new links that will surprise you."
A small voice piped, "The 'Verse is our infinite world, Meister..." and then
tailed-off. Ludwig had long since exhausted the petty octaves of the class and
this phrase did not catch him into dream.
"That is partly correct, Luhn, but is there any more detail?" He looked at the
array of eyes before him. After a pause he sighed and said, "Very well, I will
tell you a little more about it."
"What if," he began and wiped the board, replacing it with a drawing of an
endless plane, "our world were not infinite? What if it were merely the subset
of a far larger tangle of possible worlds, and things that are not worlds at
Now more planes stacked one atop the other on the board behind him. The
animation was silent, but in Ludwig's dome it sparked the thought that sounds
might have sounds within them, like -- and the animation began to twist as if
following his very notion -- each plane began to spiral and divide.
"What if every possible tangle were a fractal in many dimensions? Here's
something to link on: for every infinite world there is another and on every
scale there is another. The choice made by our ancestors and their AIs was
merely a starting point into one small Koch factorial of what is really out
there. What you call the 'Verse is only a small web of Links between stable
realities that exclude the more, um, unpleasant aspects. We live on a tenuous
thread of possible paths which has proven stable -- but to each side is
another path as yet unexplored. Well, unexplored by us."
It was a long day at school – Koch this and Hawking that. Finally it was time to go home. Lucy had to stay after for extramural laser-sculpting so at the end of the last breaktime they had said they would meet tomorrow after school to go to the Entertainium.
Ludwig walked home pensively. There had been a whole lot of new information today at school – a lot to digest. He was tired and couldn’t focus and let whatever incoming sounds take a back seat in his mind. They played and chirped in the background.
It was when he was at the pale of his own house that he was arrested by an unusual sound – unlike the others it manifested a piercing quality; its pitch and volume were high, it repeated moreover, and this more than anything else led him to believe he was receiving an alien signal – it was definitely unlike the more natural sounds he was used to hearing. There was someone or something out there in the Multiverse beaming a message to him or to others like him. Only he was capable of receiving it. It meant there was at least one other being out there who knew about the Sounds. But this person was a master – it was no simple melody but a whole symphony – so complex! It would take him many hours of attentive listening to process the whole message.
He went in and ate a light meal; then he went to his quiet place of listening. There he sat very still, cross-legged in Buddha-pose, and concentrated on the new thing that had entered his consciousness.
Time passed. He had followed some strains of the super-melodious entity, and they weaved dream-images before his inner eye: far away in the place of Spheres – the realisation that there was more than one sphere shocked him, but the megasphere that he knew of, though barely, was the mother of them all.
The purpose of the spheres he dimly perceived but they were meant for travelling between Verses, and even….
The pale-gates, called Links, must be Verse traversers, but within the limited
range the Meister had spoken of. Perhaps there were entire duplicates of the
Endless World that humanity now lived on. His mind could not keep up with the
scale of his thoughts, but the Sound had given him some kind of confidence.
Some promise of a way where thought and reason could not take him.
Suddenly there was a commotion outside. He flipped open the window and was in
time to see a phorus chase past the edge of the house. ‘Whatever was it up to?’
he wondered. In the motion of closing the window and turning to race after the
bird, a shadow passed over the house and he caught a glimpse of vastness in
the air above the house. It was quickly dark, as if dusk, and he stumbled
somewhat to reach his door.
The High-Dynelians had arrived for their yearly visit. This time by spaceship, it would seem. The phorus was panicked by their sudden arrival and darkening of the sky – their star-cruisers were pretty big. For the moment all thought of Spheres and Sounds left his mind. Another excitement filled his being with adrenal-electricity: the awesome Dynelians. What did they bring to trade this time? Would they allow him access to the ship’s main data banks? He was keen to bone up on the other aliens the Dynelians had encountered thus far in their travels.
When he had finally reached the street he could see the entire village gazing skywards at the huge starship suspended eerily in the blueness. Already a welcoming committee of white-robed Meisters was assembling at the far end of town. They would be heading for the plain of Jubrulgar to properly welcome humanity’s first alien friends. They entered a hover vehicle and promptly sped away.
Some of the other citizens were getting into their hover cars and following them out to the plain. Ludwig and his Marm had no hover car of their own so he would have to wait till tomorrow before some of the Dynelian crew came to town to exchange goods and greetings. There would be revelry for a day or two, and a great deal of knowledge shared and tales told. Ludwig couldn’t wait. It only remained to be seen if his Marm would allow him to stay up late. But even if she didn’t Ludwig had made up his mind to sneak out with Lucy. Lucy would be as excited as he was, maybe more so because she had a very good rapport with the Dynelians – she could even converse at a rudimentary level with them in their own language which is always a plus in dealing with foreigners.
The excitement in the street was beginning to subside, and people were turning to go home to prepare their suppers. Ludwig went in. Where had his marm been the whole time? Ludwig went to her room, and there she lay sleeping. She had missed the whole thing. Ludwig let her rest. He knew she had set an alarm to wake her in time to prepare for her dinner party. She had invited a few neighbours but not their children. It was to be an adult get-together. Ludwig could think of nothing more boring. He felt a little peckish, so he went to see if the BB had been replaced. Marm had taken care of it. A brand new jet-black Box was in the place of the old one. Marm would never know; now what could he have? Macadamia or pistachio ice cream? The choice was made: both, and in fairly ample amounts. Ludwig couldn’t have been happier as he attacked his ice cream.
Later that night as the stars peppered the sky and the moon rose from it's
slumber and dwarfed the world, Ludwig lay abed with stomach aches. He was hot
to the touch and could not divest blankets nor clothing to steal away from the
discomfort of sweat and sharp stabs of pain. Such a penalty for pistachio was
not uncommon and 'twas only his selective memory that bade him forget the time
before and the time before that.
"Ach--" he cursed as he gave-up on sleep. He swung his legs over the bed and
such was his distraction that he forgot to imagine the beasts withunder which
made slithery grabs for delicate toes in the dark.
It was quiet, even in his dome. No sounds? This was strange indeed. He could
count on some gentle four by four playing on his internal metronome, but not
this night. And why could he not hear the dinner party that was in full-swing
below? Suddenly, sounding in his dome, "... something in the house."
Does he know? My buffer is complete, there is no leak and I only watch. The
watcher kept infinitely still, more than a little disconcerted by the young
human's acute senses. In a corner, against the ceiling of Ludwig's room,
shrouded in verse-stuff, the Dynelian held breath and prayed that it was not
Ludwig probed the suggestion but came up empty. Perhaps it was due to his stomach pains and fever. He forgot it. He put on his slippers and carefully made his way downstairs, holding his stomach with one hand. The BB would have medication. It was a matter of routine. He never seemed to learn his lesson but oh, the joys of Pistachio!
And unbeknownst to him the secret watcher followed on the ceiling and the walls – invisible at a casual glance but you would be able to see a slight blur if you looked at it directly for a few seconds. And if you realized the blur was not in your own vision but in reality outside then you might get goosebumps. But Ludwig was oblivious to any strange visual phenomena. It was imperative to get some sort of relief from the pain.
The BB gave generously and he took the pills with a little water. Time would tell if relief came. The dinner party must have been over. There was silence and darkness in the house and his marm was probably in bed. Back up the stairs he went, and the Dynelian followed. ‘Such a lovely dome,’ it thought. It had chosen an exceptional human and couldn’t wait to plumb the thoughts and dreams of this human child. It would wait for the child to fall asleep and then it would approach and gently probe with its own mind and the probing device. There was no penetration of the skull with the device. The process was painless and non-invasive but a recording would be made by it – selected dream images would be stored for later enjoyment and study. It was fascinating and the Dynelian tried to control its excitement.
In another part of the verse a traveller bid farewell to the Sanctuary with its still blue lakes, forested ways and scattered observatories. The sphere’s portal opened and he stepped in dipping his head. Inside the only furnishings were a narrow bed and a chair. There was also a little privy and a shelf with books and several BBs. The comfortable chair stood before a control panel and a wrap-around viewing screen, in fact the entire inner surface of the sphere was a viewing screen. He could see everything outside except for where the meagre furnishings and privy were.
He sighed as he thought about leaving the beauty of the Sanctuary behind him for the cramped quarters of the sphere, and the weight of responsibility he endeavoured to forget, but the journey had to be made – the fate of billions depended on it. Worlds upon worlds were under threat. If his calculations were correct than before three weeks had passed the effects of the ripple would be felt throughout the verses, and then he could only imagine what would emerge or happen next. With a shiver he buckled himself in the chair. He had stumbled upon the phenomena so late and the preparations for the voyage had taken so long but it could not have been helped. At least he was now about to get underway. There was still hope but would he find what he had to find to save all the sentient beings in the Multiverse?
In the vast quiescence of the sanctuary a bubble popped and nothing noticed -
he was on his way! The multiverse was vast; infinite. There is a mathematics of
infinity, and another for the infinities of infinity. Just about every mind in
the primal past that had worked on these concepts had gone insane. Saint
Augustine, as with so much else, had started the spheres rolling but it was
Cantor's transfinites and Gödel's vision that his ship was named for: The
Incomplete Aleph. His only clue was a pattern, a movement, a sound.
Though Ludwig’s stomach troubled him greatly he finally managed to doze off.
Then the Dynelian approached his still slightly breathing frame cautiously and extended the recording tube with its funnel-shaped head towards Ludwig’s cranium. It was obvious to the alien that the human had not yet entered into its dream-phase of sleep, so it waited patiently for that to occur. Soon, it did. Ludwig’s eyelids fluttered, and the Dynelian was enraptured by a dream. It saw consciously in its mind’s eye what Ludwig was experiencing unconsciously, and simultaneously the device was recording the dreams for later vivid replay in any Dynelian’s mind. Needless to say this would be frowned upon by the Dynelian heirarchy.
Some few hours passed and it grew perceptibly lighter. The Dynelian was done here; tomorrow night it would try the larger human – the child’s parent and see how the dreams differed for the new subject. For now, the Dynelian summoned with a specific mental command its aerial transportation device which was located near the wall of the house furthest from the busy street. It was, of course, as invisible to the human eye as was the Dynelian itself (at least, if not looked at directly for some time).
“Ludwig?" The air had no sound.
"Ludwig...?" Front was back.
"Uh…. Yes, Meister?" Was he in school? He could not recall getting here.
"Are you feeling well, Ludwig? You seem a little distracted."
Ludwig nodded and shifted a little on his seat. The Meister lingered for a
moment, nodded and continued the lesson. A finger poked his ribs from his left
side. "Wig...you are acting all funny," whispered Lucky. He could only agree.
A week had passed since the Dynelians had come. He had still not seen one.
Strangely he felt nothing on the subject. He felt nothing much about anything
really; the music had gone.
And thus it was that Ludwig for the first time in his life fell into a depression. It was not unheard of even in that day and age. Sometimes such low moods were explored for their psychological meaning and import, more often perhaps, especially when the problem was due to chemical imbalances and the like, pharmacological action was taken, which was usually very effective. Nevertheless, Ludwig hid his downcast mood as best he could – he just wanted to be alone for a while. He would seek a short holiday and a change of scene. The Meisters and parents were not dicatatorial in this regard; and although discipline was always important, never was a child forced to learn anything they did not wish to. Perhaps, a trip would bring new inspiration, and possibly even re-ignite his capacity to hear sounds again?
Meister Null in the Incomplete Aleph was blitting across the multiworlds. His
craft followed a faint beacon that was centered on Ludwig's house. To his
horror that beacon was becoming more and more intangible.
"If this keeps up I will not get there!" He grunted from lips forced into a
white line. If the Sphere went down, he would not be able to blit through the
pale-gates that still stood innumerable between himself and his goal.
"Come Luddi, we are going to see the Dynelians today. You'd like a bit of a
get-out wouldn't you?" His mother was asking him from afar. She tousled his
hair, "What a mop you have, time for a trim, I think." Time passed like sleep between eyeblinks.
He was home. He was on the street with his Mother. He was in the town. Blink. Blink. Blink.
Whatever was going on, he wondered?
The prospect of interacting with the Dynelians did excite Ludwig but he was far too tired and listless to do anything. This he rightly ascribed to his depressed spirits. His mother picked it up quickly and wanted him to accompany her to Meister Free-Oid for a psych-consultation but Ludwig refused point blank, and just wanted to go home and sleep. His mother acquiesced reluctantly. She watched her little Luddi trudge home wearily. What was the matter she thought?
Meister Null faced the full brunt of his fears as the beacon centered on Ludwig’s house finally disappeared from his screen. He was travelling without a guiding star, blitting through gate after gate in only a general direction, and then he was on his way to nowhere. ‘All is lost!’ he thought. ‘Or was it?’ He still had co-ordinates to the Dynelian homeworld, and another Sanctuary. He could get help from the Dynelians, perhaps? But he still had some way to go.
[It’s a fragment, so it doesn’t finish, so wah!]
'The Secret Sound' is Copyright © ‘d’ and Reality Wedge, 2014.
This is a work of fiction and any resemblance to any persons or institutions living or dead is purely coincidental.