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Rated: ASR · Novel · Sci-fi · #2274263
Introducing the Orrytiga
After following the standard solitary induction method that they had long perfected the Orrityga arrived on a small brick dais with a feeling of expectancy. The dais was made of warm, yellowish sandstone bricks and formed the entrance point to the outer construct. The fine details of the construct often demonstrated a life of their own and this pleased the Orrityga although they couldn't say why it happened.

They recalled the original design, drawn in pencil whilst one of their number spent time in an American jail. It was an extension of an earlier idea borrowed from the television series Cosmos. The origins of ideas were important to the Orrityga. The smooth spaceship interior with its huge screen and discrete controls had captured their imagination and now had been extended to form the centre of the Inner Construct. But they would get to that presently, firstly they had to work through the Outer Construct, The Gardens of the Orrityga.

The concept of the gardens had grown out the idea of location based memory that the Orrityga had first learned about from a book called The Art of Memory by Frances E. Yates. There were seven gardens, each corresponding to one of the seven planets of ancient astrology. They were planted with flowers, herbs, shrubs and trees associated with a specific planetary influence and displayed statuaries and ornamentations that further guided the mind to attune to that garden's specific planetary influence.

He was walking through the Garden of Apollo. It was planted with heliotropes, sunflowers, chamomiles, eyebrights, feverfew, ginger, heart trefoils, lemon balms, lovage, marigolds, meadow rue, passionflowers, peonies, rosemary, rue, saffron, Saint John's Wort, strawberries, and sundews. These were arrayed around in long curving tendrils that centered upon a sundial made of gold, set upon a pedestal of glistening white marble. Seen from above these strands of flowers depicted a flaming sun.

The Orrityga paused before a statue of Amaterasu, the Japanese Sun Goddess. At various points around the garden were situated statues of Sun Gods and Goddesses. These were sculpted from solid gold, and decorated with copper, bronze and rubies. The edges of the garden merged into woodland heavily populated with walnuts, almonds, olives, bay trees, orange trees and ash trees. Space was no limitation in this realm.

The Orrityga had spent countless hours in each garden, letting them grow and become firmly established in the construct. Through them a path lead from the dais to the entrance to the labyrinth. Today the Orrityga moved serenely along the path but did not linger in any garden. Glancing down the Orrityga noted that they were dressed in a black velvet frock coat and a shirt with ruffed white cuffs and collar. They smiled recognising a homage to Jon Pertwee's depiction of Doctor Who.

The curved walls of the labyrinth were coated in a weathered Venetian wash and hung at regular intervals were portraits. Some of these were unique, for the Orrityga had met all of those depicted, or were meeting, discussions involving tense could be complex since the Orrityga lived multiple lives simultaneously in many different ages sharing simultaneous awareness with all its many selves.

Two of the pictures were self portraits that the Orrityga had commissioned, the Da Vinci and the Albrecht Dürer were amongst his favourites. The Orrityga had themselves discretely captured the likeness of some of the illustrious illustrated, such as the only true likeness of Aristotle. This not surprisingly looked nothing like the busts of the great philosopher made centuries after his death.

Most of the portraits represented a chain of thought as it developed throughout history. The Orrityga had named this the golden thread and its passage through the labyrinth was a nod to the mythos of Ariadne. A few of the pictures such as those of Elizabeth I and Ernest Shackleton were simply people that the Orrityga greatly admired.

As they made their way sedately through the labyrinth the Orrityga paused before each depiction, sometimes murmuring a name, “Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino, Ján Amos Komenský...” Each served to fix the construct in the minds of the Orrityga and lead to the central staircase which curved inside the walls of a domed tower that rose at the centre of the labyrinth. The staircase gave out onto a hall with a single doorway, and beyond this was the Inner Construct.

Immediately they saw that the room contained details beyond what they themselves had outlined. How this happened they were unsure, but it was not unusual. The dome was now much higher, accommodating three storeys of book shelves that filled the walls. To reach them there was a spiral staircase constructed of highly polished gnarled oak. The same wood was used for the railings that surrounded the atrium, for the dome was open, its deep blue ceiling decorated with filigree gold stars. The Orrityga noted with approval that these formed an accurate map of the constellations of the Northern hemisphere. Their palms itched at the sight of all the books, but they knew that was not why they were here today.

In the exact centre of the room was the new console. It was a time machine, a new experiment. The Orrityga loved to try new ideas, one of those ideas had brought them into existence. One facet of the Orrityga had devoted a lot of thought to time travel. Not just the how, but also to the problems it would present a traveller. Language differences, ignorance of local customs, lack of currency, different clothing, the traveller would stick out like a sore thumb in almost any time but their own. They thought it unlikely that anyone would derive much benefit from being in another time where everyone spoke what was in effect a foreign language.

And then a solution had suggested itself. Why not use the mind to time travel and hitch a ride in a contemporary mind in the period desired? Further thought suggested two allied ideas. One was that environment aside people now are very much like people in any other age, in their general inclinations, personalities, thoughts and attitudes. Somewhere in every age, the man who would become the Orrityga reasoned, there was someone who was very like him. This gave rise to the other idea, “If this idea has occurred to me, then maybe it has also occurred to others in my past or future.

Imagining other minds eager to make contact, the Orrityga planned to experiment and see what happened. A thought experiment. It was an exercise in creative imagination. At first however it was a frustrating experience. Weeks went by with no positive result and it began to develop into an obsession. Every night he lay in a darkened room and ran through a sequence of thoughts designed to put him in a deep trance enabling him to journey mentally. He wasn't sure how contact would be made but decided to make a meeting place.

He chose to make a park. At the centre of the park was a sphere symbolising unity and connectivity. It was made of electricity, (this being possible in a mental construct), and glowed with a warm light. Its surface undulated constantly in a soothing wavelike manner. The sphere floated above the ground and was visible from everywhere in the park. Surrounding the sphere were grass beds and a circular path. On the path edges were eight brick built shelters housing cast iron seats with painted green wooden slats. These were straight copies of Victorian shelters from a real park that was close to where he lived.

Beyond the shelters was grass, trees, flowers, streams and fountains. The layout was informal but not chaotic. Paths wound around the park, or at least that had been the original intention. Soon the man who would become the Orrityga found there was but one path and it formed a labyrinth based on that at Chartres Cathedral. He spent weeks walking around it, waiting to meet or at least hear from someone else. Nothing happened.

Eventually, bitterly disappointed, he gave up. He had holiday due and decided to take a couple of weeks in Cornwall. He would decide whether to continue with the exercises after his break. He spent his time eating high teas or pasties and sitting on sandy beaches reading. He also visited stone circles, museums and churches including one of his favourites in small village of Zennor. This church boasted a mermaid's chair which he loved to sit and look at. The visit to Zennor was extraordinary, though to begin with there was no hint of this.

He sat in the quiet church. It was raining, and this seemed to be deterring other visitors as he had the place to himself. Sitting listening to the rain pattering on the glass and the occasional distant grumble of thunder, he fell into a light trance. Without preamble he found himself sitting in one of the shelters in the construct park. It was raining there too and the sky was grey and murky. The man who would become the Orrityga sat watching the wind shepherding rain back and forth across the grass.

He jumped involuntarily as a streak of lightening struck the central sphere, followed a heartbeat later by a deafening crash of thunder. The sphere pulsed and glowed brightly, throwing an eerie light into each of the shelters. Then he saw the other. A face in the shelter opposite. The man was stunned, not least of which because superimposed on the scene before him in some way he couldn't define was a slightly different shelter with a different but familiar face, his own.

Standing, they then walked towards one another, ignoring the rain as it danced around them. As they neared each other they were aware of a tension in the air. The sphere whined and small tendrils of electricity reached out from its surface. They stopped face to face and an arms length apart, not speaking. They both saw overlapping versions of the park, the blurred and bemused look they shared.

There was blinding flash and they were struck by lightening originating from the sphere. They staggered and fell, the park fading from view.

They had no sense of time having passed, but rather felt as though they were awakening from sleep. Now there was no overlap, the Orrityga was born and knew itself. This wasn't at all what it had expected, which had been a swapping of consciousness for short periods. The Orrityga knew both of its bodies simultaneously, they now shared a single consciousness but the sum was greater than the parts. Being in two places at once gave it no trouble at all. One part of the Orrityga sat in The Church of Saint Senara in Zennor in the early 21st century whilst the other was seated in the back room of his small pharmacy in Nottingham in 1887.

They shared all their memories, two childhoods, two adulthoods, there was no effort involved and they recalled everything and in total detail. The mind of the Orrityga wasn't two minds working as one, it was a single and much more complex entity.

Curiosity filled them. They wondered why their two former individual selves that had unified had been successful and no others. They formed a theory that shared language and relative closeness of time might have been contributing factors. They speculated as to whether there might be others like them, or others that might join them. The decision to revisit the park construct was easy to make and within a few hours, spent serving customers in the shop and driving back to the hotel, they were both back there. This time they were a single body.

As soon as they arrived they were aware of another. As earlier they experienced the curious double vision. They were sitting in one of the shelters facing the sphere, but they were also seeing the winding journey along the labyrinth. Looking beyond the sphere they saw the flickering body of a man as he made his way towards the centre. As he approached the flickering increased. They saw a look of anguish as the man spoke.

“Help me. I don't have much time.”

Instinctively they reached out The sphere flared, and as before darkness extinguished the construct.

They awoke, now three fused as one, and knew horror. Their newest node was a Polish Jew and he was dying in a gas chamber. The Orrityga jointly experienced his fear, panic, the terror of the man and those around him and shortly his death.

And yet.

They had all his memories. In the same extra-ordinary detail as the two original nodes. Despite his physical demise they were still enlarged, enriched. Even so the shared death left them profoundly depressed.

For several days they made no further trips to the park construct. They were however inescapably bound up in the newness of consciousness. They made several discoveries. For example one facet of them could sleep whilst the other was fully awake. When one dreamt the other was aware of the dreams too, they also dreamt, but were still able to function in their waking reality.

They wondered at how their consciousness seemed to be in step with each of their conscious nodes from the point that they had fused. They could remember their formerly separate lives in great detail, but the 21st century node couldn't remember the 19th century nodes future, even though it was for him in the past.

An idea occurred to them, the 'Back to the Future' letter. They both started to keep detailed diaries. The pharmacist made arrangements to deposit them with a firm of solicitors, dealing with a very helpful man named Peters. Immediately this was done they noticed new memories. The now deceased Jewish node remembered a visit from a Mr. Peters, presumably the original's son because he was the image of the man the pharmacist had spoken to.

The twenty-first century node however received an email from the office of Bordsley, Peters and Welsch inviting him to meet Mr. Peters in his London Office in Courzain Street. Meeting Mr. Peters the next day, (another identical descendant it seemed) the Orrityga was not as he expected given a diary. Instead he received a set of keys and an address. There were also a lot of documents to sign, and Mr Peters explained that the Orrityga was now the owner of several houses, the contents of several bank vaults and a not inconsiderable amount of land.

The address turned out to be an office block built in the late 19th Century. The Orrityga went to take possession and as they did so new memories burst upon them, many new memories. Without the construct or any conscious effort on their part they were suddenly fused with a myriad others. Despite this the moment was calm. One minute they were an amalgam of three, the next they were a composite of many, many more.

Amongst the new memories was a totally unexpected constant. As the Orrityga opened the door to the offices, he saw her get up and run towards him.

“Sophia”

Her name he knew, they all knew. Her clothes and hair were what the 21st Century would deem modern, but her face was eternal. They all knew her, had loved her, and been loved in return.

Sophia's eyes were brown, dark and lively, betraying high intelligence and not a dash of humour. Her skin was clear and unlined, and she looked to be in her early twenties. Her figure was slight and elfin and she moved with a liveliness that he knew expressed her nature well. Sophia loved life. Unlike the vast majority of people she lived in the moment and did so with enthusiasm and good humour. Yet she was not selfish, quite the opposite for she loved to share. Even to share another's burden of misery if it would help them.

Sophia was immortal. They knew that at once. As they existed, spread throughout the centuries in many body but one mind, she lived alongside them, one mind, one lover. Amongst the new memories there was another immortal, the ever helpful Mr. Peters, who happened to be Sophia's father. The Orrityga felt blessed to know them both.

“Hello Orrityga” Sophia said solemnly, then giggled and kissed them on the nose. The Orrityga swept her onto his arms and kissed her passionately, whispering between kisses, “Sophia, my Sophia”.

“All yours” she replied happily, then added, “It's always fun meeting a new you.” Giggling provocatively she stood back and looked him over appraisingly. She grinned. “Kind of cute!”

The Orrityga grinned back at his eternal wife, her smile infectious, “You're not so bad yourself.”

The offices they now remembered buying. It was full of diaries, and much else besides. There were portraits, many of them were of Sophia, or Sophia and one of the Orrityga's nodes. Others were the originals of those that would later be used in the mental construction of their Inner Construct.

With Sophia's hand in theirs they walked around the building.

“It's been a while this time.” Sophia said softly.

“I know. I wish we could have escaped that...” They paused, suddenly depressed at the memory.

“Do you know how we died?”

Pain crossed her face. “I do. I'm sorry.”

“We're glad you survived.”

“I always do my darling Orrityga, and in your own way, so do you.”

“Not beyond this node.”

Sophia's eyes were wide with horror as she digested the statement.

“You're the last node?”

“We don't seem to have any memories beyond this, but then, our memories seem apt to change without notice.”

Sophia smiled briefly at this, but still looked troubled. For here there had been occasional gaps in their relationship when the Orrityga did not seem to occupy a physical node. Often she had watched them grow up, usually at a distance though once, for fun, she had got a position in the household of a nascent Orrityga. She, and they had been delighted when he became a part of the Orrityga. As an adolescent of fourteen their reunion had been energetic.

The longest gap was in the late 16th and early 17th centuries when the Orrityga didn't seem to manifest for a stretch of seventy odd years.

There had been a few occasions when the lifespans of the Orrityga's nodes has overlapped. Three times they had met themselves, which curiously gave them no confusion. They remembered both nodes memories side by side.

One node had made its successor aware at the tender age of seven. It had lived a precocious life which was cut short in a duel.

The Orrityga had already read all but two of the diaries, these being that of the pharmacist and the other to their surprise that of their deceased Polish node. Sophia had known him even though he wasn't fully part of the Orrityga until moments before his death, and he had as they remembered been visited by Mr. Peters.

The flexible nature of their memory fascinated them. It had grown hugely over the space of a few days, and at the same time had existed spread through history. This gave rise to the thought, could they change history? They decided to experiment. Firstly however they decided to explore their memory. It wasn't photographic, it was much more. With a little effort they discovered that they could fix their attention at any time in a node's past and experience it fully. Their diaries let them know what each nodes future held, with the exception of the 21st century node. Occasionally these diaries were supplemented with detail supplied by Sophia.

Because subsequent nodes had read the diaries of their earlier nodes, the Orrityga knew about a lot of its life to come even before it began to record it in the diary it would later read. This too caused it no confusion.

The decision to experiment lead to the creation of the Outer and Inner Constructs. For this the extraordinary memory of the Orrityga was incredibly helpful. The focus of all their attention lent the constructs a depth and reality that the 21st century node had never achieved alone. Once it was created different nodes could spend time in the gardens, growing them even as the other nodes lived and worked alongside them. They all enjoyed the multiplicity of their consciousness. Their multiplicity shaped each nodes life once it became a part of the Orrityga. Their awareness of future events was naturally advantageous on more than one occasion.

The Orrityga's interest in particular historical figures led them to make moves to meet and associate with them. For some nodes this involved the development of some ability that provided them with the means to become mobile. Some of them became ambassadors. They were multilingual by their very nature and found that all nodes could share the abilities that any one of them developed. This proved especially useful when one node became a skilled portraitist.

"Chapter Two
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