Archive for egypt

Healing Hands

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 28, 2012 by javedbabar

Sophie was feeling unsettled. There were crises at work, family members demanding money, her landlord had given her one month’s notice, and she was about to hit forty and was still single. Left on the shelf. Many of her friends were single too, but at least they’d had a go, married, and failed. Some had wonderful children as awards for trying.

Why hadn’t she ever taken the plunge? There had been opportunities. Maybe she had been too fussy when younger.

“Will you marry me?” Adam had asked her, long ago, at Blackwater Lake. Her response was to run off. It’s right to not settle for second best, but what she’d then thought of as second best, was upon reflection first best, and those who had later won her heart turned out to be last worst.

She wandered across the park after work. The sky was glowing like there were two suns setting, golden and purple. TJ, the Lucerne Valley Hotel’s receptionist, said, “Welcome back.” She was a daily customer. She’d been there at lunchtime for a beer and burger, but now wanted something more and stronger.

The manager had found a clever way of getting around The Authority’s prohibition on cheap drinks. He promoted Happy Hour as a heritage event, harkening back to its nautical origins. There were wrestling, boxing, singing and drinking bouts, often all together. It was a barrel of laughs.

A buxom wench like Sophie was well appreciated aboard HMS Hotel Bar. Its sailors bought her endless rounds, and she was constantly engaged in jigs and reels. She danced with a small, dark guy with a great body. He didn’t talk much. He was either drunk or shy. He had a bright face which seemed to shine everywhere, and Sophie didn’t want to be without its glow. At the end of a reel, she grabbed his hand and pulled him outside. They smooched a little and then she asked him to walk her home.

“I’m not sure,” he said. “Is that a good idea?”

“What kind of man are you?” she said. “Not a gentleman at all. I should have made you walk the plank!”

“Okay, I’ll walk you home,” he said immediately. Nobody likes to be called a barbarian.

When they reached her home, Sophie opened the door and pulled him in. He made an unconvincing attempt to resist and then gave up. He was not much heavier than Sophie but with extra muscle instead of extra curves. He leaned back on the sofa.

Sophie played some ambient tunes and pulled him up to dance. Despite the music being unsuitable for nautical antics, she forced her guest to engage in further jigs and reels. He was a really good dancer and somehow made them work.

His moves were great, jumping, skipping and twirling around the lounge. Her body pulled along with his, her heart was in tune with his, their hands joined together, and now their lips…

“Ouch!” she said, breaking off and pulling away. “Your hands are so hot!” She looked at them. They seemed to be glowing.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Maybe I should go now.”

“No, wait.” She didn’t know why she said it. There was something about him, about his hands. He looked at them in shock too. They were glowing faintly, golden purple.

He looked up at her and said, “I am from a family of healers going back to Pharaonic Egypt. I thought the gift had passed me by. My grandmother said that it would come to me when I met the one I must heal.”

Sophie’s head now reeled.



Posted in Conceptual Art, Mystical Experience, World Myths with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 14, 2012 by javedbabar

It was the second season of the old quarry’s projection project. The first season’s experiment had gone so well that The Authority had changed its zoning from community use to commercial operation and approved a $10 million investment. Sophie’s business plan stated the operation would break even in Year Five.

She now had one hundred digital projectors, fibre-optic cabling, dynamic event lighting and a ten-man production crew. The project also had a new name, QARY, and an associated logo with the tails of the Q and Y joining. It reminded Sophie of a Viking boat.

They could now stage more ambitious shows, such as the myths and legends she had dreamed of since childhood. Sophie had somehow known this would happen. She had fainted upon first entering the quarry, and from that moment onwards the real and imagined seemed intertwined.

A resident of Lucerne came to see her. Hello handsome, she thought.

“I am Ahmad, I come from Egypt,” he said. “Before the revolution I worked as an archaeologist. I would like to be involved in the QARY project, and as the first show of this season may I suggest Osiris?”

“I was thinking of Percival,” she said. “I have always liked the Grail stories.”

His eyes lit up. “Me too, but Osiris is God of the Underworld. He is a perfect fit for QARY.”

“That’s a good point. Do you want to join the production team?”

They spent the next week fleshing out the story. Many versions of the Osiris myth are scattered through the ages. He is God of the Dead, a merciful judge, an underworld agency granting the power of life, responsible for sprouting vegetation and the Nile’s fertile flood. Better stay on his good side, thought Sophie. We don’t want a repeat of the Lucerne Valley’s 2004 inundation.

Sophie and Ahmad collected texts, made recordings, and conducted negotiations to license images. The rest of the production team worked on structure and flow. It took a month to pull it all together. Sophie held her breath on the first night, and also Ahmad’s hand. They were a team now, both on and off set.

The crowd smiled as the good god Osiris travelled the world spreading maat, righteous order. They tried to warn him that he was about to be tricked by his evil brother Set, and shouted, “Don’t get into the chest!” They cried when the chest was sealed and thrown into the Nile, the watery mood enhanced by blue lighting. There were cheers when Isis found the coffin stuck in a tree in Byblos, and quiet during the corpse’s mummification, enhanced by overwhelming white light.

Osiris’s magical reanimation led to many  “Ah’s” and “Wow’s”. They grinned during Horus’s miraculous conception, and someone shouted, “That stiff is really stiff!”

Isis stored Osiris’s body in a swamp. The audience was horrified when Set found the body and chopped it into fourteen pieces, and red light poured down the walls. There were smiles again when his body parts were gathered and buried, and he became an underworld god.

The production was flawless. Sophie breathed out.

The second week, someone in the crowd became hysterical. His screams drowned out the commentary for a while. The next morning the cleaner found chunks of meat scattered. Bloody kids hunting again, he thought, leaving meat out for the wolves.

Sophie wondered where Ahmad had gone. Maybe he didn’t like the way the show had turned out. Or maybe he didn’t like how she was turning out. She wondered if he had managed to have that profit-share meeting with her CEO. Surely that would be a brutal encounter.

New Moon

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2012 by javedbabar

It was almost dawn and the moon was setting. Sami was tired from his long night “working” with Guru Baba, which involved watching, discussing and walking in boggy fields beneath the full moon.

The last surprise was meeting his shadow, which equated to the dark side of the orb fast disappearing. Whether visible or invisible, it was always there, beyond the dusty cratered surface. Sami’s soul too was thus composed, of light and dark.

Something shifted at the precise spot where the moon was setting. A dark spot seemed to shiver.

Sami was intrigued by this occurrence, and also frightened. The strange events of the night had been thrilling but unsettling. Nothing was what it seemed.

Sami looked at Guru Baba for reassurance. His holy bossman gave him a quirky look – his eyebrows moving in opposite directions, and his bottom lip curling as if sad. He said, “There’s someone else you should also meet. I meant to call him, but it seems that he has come of his own accord.”

Sami now realised that the shivering spot was a man walking towards them. Moonlight bent around, giving him a ghostly glow; he seemed a lunar apparition; a moon mirage. There was something familiar about his gait. Sami had seen him before. His white goatee was a further clue…

It was the man who had founded Lucerne’s Botanical Gardens, a controversial figure known only as The Gardener. He had without doubt created a fine facility for Lucerne’s citizens; the Botanical Gardens were five acres of wonder. There was a main path and there were countless sub-paths, leading to different habitats; the Amazon Rainforest was filled with mysterious fertility; the Egyptian Oasis was a cool, calm haven; the Babylonian Hanging Gardens were so vibrant that it felt like you were in an ancient cartoon book; other mysterious areas were filled with strange flora and fauna including, it was said, walking trees and flying flowers, and unicorns and golden monkeys.

The Gardener approached them. He greeted them warmly and then stood beside Guru Baba. They admired the full moon together.

“How are the gardens?” asked Guru Baba.

“You should come and see for yourself,” said the Gardener. “Where are you these days? I haven’t seen you for weeks.”

“I have visited a few times,” said Guru Baba. “But you’re always so busy with your students. How are they doing?” He turned to Sami and said, “Have you visited the Botanical Gardens recently? You haven’t? What a shame!”

Sami knew that he was ribbing him. Working as Guru Baba’s assistant rarely left a moment spare. Tonight was a perfect example; he was “working all night.”

The Gardener said, “The Extreme Gardening course is progressing well. It is a ten year course, and if all goes to plan we’ll soon be ready for mankind’s next adventure.”

“What do you mean?” asked Sami.

“We are developing new methods for purifying air, growing crops, encouraging insects and plants to develop healthy ecosystems, building a sustainable atmosphere, and seeding hydrographic systems. Within ten years the technology will be ready, and ten years after that, well, humans will be living on other planetary bodies.”

“Will we still be around then?” asked Guru Baba.

“I don’t think that we will, my old friend.”

Guru Baba turned to his assistant and said, “It will be down to you, Sami. Are you ready to be the Man in the Moon?”

Dark Moon Retreat

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2012 by javedbabar

Guru Baba said, “Are you scared of death?”

Though he knew that his holy bossman was full of surprises, Sami was often unprepared for his questions. Sami had been given the day off, yet told that he’d be “working all night,” and here he was in a field beneath a full moon, being asked about death. He’d never really given it much thought. He said, “I suppose I am.”

Guru Baba grabbed his hand and said, “Come on then!”

Sami resisted. “Where to?”

“To death! Let’s go there!”

What was he up to? Sami turned to face him and said, “Guru Baba, I don’t want to die yet.”

“Why not? Practice makes perfect!”

Sami pulled away. “What do you mean by that? You’re scaring me now.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to. It’s just that the best way to prepare for anything – a race, a test, a holiday – is to engage in some practice. There is an ancient method to prepare for your death called the Dark Moon Retreat, performed during the darkest lunar phase.”

“But Guru Baba, there’s a full moon tonight. That’s why we’re out here.”

This stopped the sage in his tracks. “Ah! So there is!” He looked rapidly from side to side before his gaze settled on some farm outbuildings. “No problem. Let’s go over there.”

Guru Baba climbed over a barbed wire fence. “Shouldn’t we get permission to come here?” said Sami.

“No, no, no need for that. Come on over. The Egyptians used to meditate in pyramids. The Teotihuacanos too. Holy men and women would enter their inner chambers alone and spend the night there, removed from all sources of light and sound, yet filled with visions of the inner workings of worlds. We don’t have any pyramids here, so this will do. Let’s have a go.”

Sami was bemused by the choice of an A-frame barn as a pyramid stand-in, but held his tongue. Guru Baba said, “It is a restricted practice, only for use under appropriate spiritual guidance. Do you think I qualify for the role of spiritual guide?”

Guru Baba was one of the world’s leading holy men, recently retired to “that lovely village with the white mountain above it.” Sami smiled and nodded.

He was instructed to sit cross-legged on hay bales and breathe slowly in and out. “Lose all of your thoughts,” said Guru Baba. “Keep only the gaps between them. Look at the spaces.” He waited a while, and said, “Good. Whether we live or die, we are always connected. We have seven spiritual centres in our bodies, infused with seven colours, and connected with seven planets. Now focus on these centres, planets and colours, and recite these seven holy syllables.” He broke off for a moment to think up some words, and then said, “I am Sa-mi so am I.”

Sami did as he was told. At first he felt the hay prickling his bottom.

Then he was aware only of his words.

Then the centres.

Then colours.

Then planets.

There was a sequence of degeneration where all words, centres, colours and planets fell away. Sami saw reality clearly – who he was truly – and then experienced terrifying hallucinations – who he had been in lesser forms.

Guru Baba watched Sami’s rainbow body shining. It illuminated the whole barn. He sensed fluttering above. “Poor bats,” he thought. “So confused. Maybe this will enlighten them too.”

After Work Beers

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Conceptual Art, Lucerne Village, Sacred Geometry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 7, 2012 by javedbabar

The amateur entrepreneur set up what looked like a record player. Younger members of the Devils’ Den audience had only ever seen these at their grandmas’ houses. They seemed cumbersome objects.

“Are you ready to go?” said the event’s host, Collette Vapinski. She had been selected by the New Ideas Show’s producers for her high public profile. She was famous for being famous.

“I’m almost there,” said the presenter. “Just two more minutes.”

“I bet you say that to all the girls!” said Collette. Her comment drew shrieks from the girls in the audience. The presenter continued fiddling for a full five minutes, and then indicated he was set.

Collette said, “Okay, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our sixth and final amateur entrepreneur waiting to impress our panel of expert investors. Please introduce yourself and tell us about your idea.”

He was confident for a guy barely in his twenties. He said, “Hello, I’m Matthew and I’d like to tell you about my Virtual Vibration technology.” This caused some girls to snigger, and the speaker stopped and said, “Calm down girls, I’m only just getting started.”

Maybe he wasn’t as innocent as he appeared. He indicated the apparatus and said, “This is my equipment. Impressive isn’t it, girls? It may look like an ordinary phonograph to you but…”

Collette looked at the panel and said, “Is that what it’s called?” Low tech pioneer Amisha Jordan, ex-banker Arthur Choo, and social media activist Juno Osh, all nodded.

Matthew continued, “In one sense it is, but with an important difference. Allow me to illustrate.” People craned their necks to see what he was doing, but his actions were hidden by a raised cover. It seemed that he had set a record spinning and then placed a needle upon it. There was a very rough crackling, and panel members put their hands to their ears. A recorded conversation was relayed; two male voices with Greek or Arabian accents.

The first voice said, “How’s it going over there?”

The second said, “Not bad, pal. I need to do another coat. I’m not sure this one will dry in time though.”

“Ah, just do it tomorrow morning.”

“The painters are coming in tomorrow. It needs to be done tonight.”

“Okay, pal. I’ll have a warm beer waiting for you when you’re done.”

The rough crackling returned and put an end to the conversation.

Arthur said, “Is it immigrants working in Britain?”

Juno said, “Music would have been much better. Something like that will never go viral.”

Amisha said, “Well done for portraying ordinary people doing honest work, not empty celebrities.” Without meaning to, she looked across the room at Collette.

Matthew removed the gramophone cover to reveal a pot spinning, being brushed by a slim blue laser beam. “These are voices recorded in wet clay, ten thousand years ago in Egypt, picked up by a laser needle and processed through a digital translator. The first guy was a potter. His words were encoded on the pot by his paintbrush wobbling as he talked. I must be honest though; the plasterer’s words were recorded separately from scratches in the plaster, and mixed in later. What do you think of my Virtual Vibration technology?”

Nothing recordable was said for a while, and then there was an eruption that would have produced very rough crackling.

White Matter

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2012 by javedbabar

Sammy poked his head around the door. “Yes, Doctor? You wanted to see me?”

Dr Bungawalla looked up from his desk but said nothing. There was something bothering him. Then he said, “Yes, yes. Please come in. How long are you with us for, altogether? Ah good, a month. So you go back to school in September? Perfect.” He pushed his chair away from the desk, pulled it back in, and shuffled papers.

“I was wondering if you would help me with a project. I think we can complete it in four weeks. It is not something mentioned on the internship documents; it’s more of a personal project. It will be helpful research to me.”

Dr Bungawalla had been the village doctor for forty years. Sammy recalled his always being nice to him, especially as a child, giving him snacks and sweeties, even pop. Good job he had become a doctor not a dentist!

Sammy nodded to indicate he would help. When someone’s just lost his wife, you should do everything you can for him.

“Oh good. I’m sure you know that the brain is composed of grey matter. Well, did you know that there is also white matter? It’s lipid tissue veined with capillaries; actually pinkish, but let’s not worry about that. It was previously thought to be passive tissue but now we know that its main function is to transmit signals, acting as a sort of relay, consolidating communication between different brain regions. It has an important role in processing and cognition; it plays a role in both our function and dysfunction.”

Sammy nodded along and said, “Is white matter your special area of interest?”

“Yes it is. Specifically, there are areas called White Matter Hyperintensities which show up as bright signals on MRI images. No, they are not really dangerous; like most things, they are essentially neutral, and it depends on what you do with them.”

“Can I take a seat?” said Sammy.

“Ah, yes, yes. So sorry, I was going to stand up but then forgot. Please take a seat.” Dr Bungawalla explained his strange request to Sammy. It seemed like a good way to spend his month here. They would both learn something useful.

For the first week, Sammy ate a Mediterranean diet. He stocked up with fruit, vegetables, fish, grains, nuts, and olives, and drank strong coffee and smoked cigarettes. Dr Bungawalla scanned his brain with the EMU (Electromagnetic Medical Unit), and recorded the changes. His chief interest was in the effect of olives; olive wood had been used in Greece to make statues of gods. There must be a reason for that.

The second week, Sammy ate pulses, macaroni, rice, beef and pickles. This Egyptian diet had fortified the builders of the Pyramids and Sphinx. Dr Bungawalla was especially engaged with the nourishment provided by lentils; these tiny seeds were a source of total nourishment. He saw that Sammy’s Hyperintensities had decreased in volume.

The third week, Sammy consumed an Indian diet. He added plenty of coriander, cumin, chilli, turmeric, garam masala, mustard seeds, salt and pepper to his meals. He also ate curds and sweet fried pastries. The chilli made him sweat and activated other nutrients he’d consumed. Spice fires the soul. Dr Bungawalla saw that this diet was boosting his antibodies, with no detrimental effects on Hyperintensities.

The fourth week Sammy ate Chinese food. He ate mostly vegetables and rice with a wide variety of meats, including pork stomach and trotters, beef brain and tongue, chicken gizzard and feet, and snake guts and heart, all washed down with pearl green tea. Dr Bungawalla saw a reduction in the volume of Hyperintensities. After further examination, he saw that it was not caused by food; it was caused by pearl green tea, which calmed the spirit and created fluidity. From now on Dr Bungawalla would drink this tea in the hope of slowing down his Alzheimer’s’ Disease.

Dr Bungawalla never assumed that modern medicine was best. He believed one should try traditional cures, beginning with your daily food. Hyperintensity Volume was a marker of small vessel damage in the brain, a reduction of which leads to a reduction of strokes and cognitive decline. But he also knew that it wasn’t just diet. There were associated memories encoded in White Matter, those of family joviality. Any of the diets that Sami had tried – Mediterranean, Egyptian, Indian or Chinese – would help Dr Bungawalla if rather than eating alone each night, he could share them with someone.

Near East

Posted in Global Travel, Mystical Experience, Unknown, World Myths with tags , , , , , on May 16, 2012 by javedbabar

“Can we go this way?” said Isis.

Osiris stopped on the edge of the bridge, where a path ran along the river. He remembered when he was a kid. Lucerne was just a clutch of farms and stores, and there was no bridge over this road, at least not one you could drive across. It was just a sham wooden structure that a farmer had nailed together so he could hop into town. The bridge was a short cut to their community centre – the modern glass structure known as the Transparent Temple.

Osiris wondered why she wanted to take the long way around. It was funny that so many people in Lucerne had ancient names, particularly Egyptian ones. Their parents must have been hippies, fascinated by Pharaonic lore. He recalled a book near his mother’s bed called Pyramid Power.

He said, “Sure love. Are you in the mood for a longer walk?” The past three months had been the best of his life. Meeting Isis had rocked his world. She was everything he’d wanted – pretty, funny, smart, cultured and spiritual.

“I prefer the scenic route,” she said. “Let’s walk along the river, then through the fields. We can go through those new houses and enter the back of the Temple.”

“Okay love, let’s do that.” Osiris was so used to doing things his way that whenever Isis expressed a differing preference, his instinctive response was to reject it, but this was followed by curiosity so intense that he agreed to her request immediately. And he found that most of the time her way proved better. If he had to pin a number on it he’d say that she was right seventy-five percent of the time. When he’d explained this to his best friend, the friend had been incredulous. “What? You reckon she’s right seventy-five percent of the time? That can’t be possible!”

“Why not?” Osiris had said. “She’s a clever woman.”

“But you are more clever, my friend. If you are right twenty-five percent of the time, and you accept that she is right seventy-five percent of the time, then that makes you right one hundred percent of the time!”

Osiris and Isis held hands and followed the river east. Its flow was higher than usual. This must be because of early warm weather melting snowpack, whose waters poured into rivers running through the Lucerne Valley. The snow levels on both Mt Alba, rising above the village, and Mt Negra, one hundred kilometres away at the source of the valley, were rising up their respective slopes. Imagine being the last snowflake, he thought, disappearing.

It was a pretty crazy route for such a small river. It twisted and turned, looping back on itself at one point, plunging into pools, and braving small waterfalls. It was said that the first man to find Lucerne had floated along this river. He had fought and escaped his enemies, and been aided by crocodiles and buffaloes. He had climbed out when he had seen the White Mountain and made this his home.

The river continued through green fields. When this first man became old and feeble, he was killed by his descendants and buried in these fields, and from his head sprouted potatoes, his slim arms became carrots, his plump thighs produced beets, his brains made garlics, his lungs produced hemp, and from his manhood grew the first banana.

They came to new houses. The original houses had been built by the first man’s descendants, who became a prosperous tribe. Their wealth had attracted roving bands of hunters, who looted them annually, just after harvest, raping and pillaging and leaving their mark – mixed-blood children, who became present day Lucerne’s inhabitants.

Beyond the village was wilderness, like the original chaos before the first man.

Isis clutched Osiris’s hand harder as they neared the Transparent Temple. It was the heart of the village. Government officials met in Room One to set village strategy. Business leaders met in Room Two to discuss the local economy. Village councillors met in Room Three to promote political agendas. Artists met in the bar to discuss cultural grants and collaborative works. Holy men and women met on Saturdays to promote the memory of the divine founder of their settlement, the first man, called Osiris.

On Saturdays they served falafels, which legend said were first made by Coptic Christians. Pha la phel means “of many beans”, as the Church was formed of many souls, all rolled into one Great Soul. People united by The Authority.

Osiris and Isis were greeted by the Supreme Guardian of the Transparent Temple. He was a crippled, olive-skinned man called Seth. He cast a mean look at Osiris, but winked at Isis. Seth knew it would soon be time for him to regenerate and to leave this chamber, chase out Osiris, marry Isis, and begin the creation cycle anew.


Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 14, 2012 by javedbabar

“Area O has 42% activity. Area M has 12%. Area H has only 4%. Area T has 9%. Area C has 14%. I am using these as the Rest State Benchmarks.”

Martin wasn’t sure that he was meant to hear these remarks, but the door was open and he hadn’t been drugged. It was a young female voice. He wondered what she looked like.

His experience so far was not interesting. After an hour in reception, they’d taken him up or down some levels – the elevator was strange and he wasn’t sure which – and brought him to this room called the ScanLab, where spots of gel, and then electrodes, had been attached to his head. He’d asked them how many; they’d said twelve. He’d sat here for half an hour with nothing happening. It was not a great way to spend a day, but he was getting paid a hundred bucks for two hours work, so who cares.

A tall lady with dark hair and brown glasses came in and said, “Hello, I’m Joyce, your researcher.”

“My researcher?” he said. Maybe she looked tall because he was lying down.

“Sorry, I mean the researcher. Thank you for agreeing to this. It took longer than expected to set things up, so we’re a bit behind. You can leave after two hours if you wish to. But if we need to keep you longer, and it’s okay with you, we’ll give you an additional hundred dollars per hour. How does that sound?”

“Keep me all day if you want!” This wasn’t a bad gig.

“Wonderful. Let’s begin.” She adjusted her glasses. “We want to show you some items and record your responses. That’s it.”

“And I presume you’ve wired me up for a reason?”

“Yes indeed. As well as your conscious behaviour, we would also like to test your unconscious behaviour. You don’t need to be sleeping for this; we just need to know what’s happening in your mind.”

Martin would have liked to see too, but the monitor was in the room next door. He wasn’t getting paid fifty bucks an hour, going up to a hundred for overtime, for watching TV.

Joyce passed him a card bearing mathematical symbols, which he realized were Greek letters. He noted Alpha, Beta, Theta, Gamma and Pi, but couldn’t make out any larger meaning.

From the other room he heard, “Look – Area T has hit 38% here.”

“What is this?” said Martin.

“It’s some early advertising. A lost and found poster from Ancient Greece. Can you make any sense of it?” He said he couldn’t.

She passed him another card, with hieroglyphs. He recognized the Ankh and Eye of Horus; palm trees, people and animals were easy; the blue curls must be water.

He heard, “Area C now, look… 48%.”

Joyce said, “This is a home rental ad from Ancient Egypt.” Martin raised his eyebrows. She continued, “Beautifully laid out, isn’t it?”

Before he could answer, she passed him a third card bearing Indian letters. He’d seen similar script on people’s tattoos. He recognized the curly 3-like letter as an OM sign, but that was it. He heard, “Area O is 68% and Area M is 34%. Area H is minus four.”

Joyce said, “These are personal ads from Ancient India – families advertising for marriage partners for their daughters. They were way ahead of us in dating!”

“Now try this one,” she said, pushing a fourth card towards him. It held Chinese letters, none of which he recognized, but which for some reason gave him a sense of great wellbeing.

“Woh!” he heard from the next room. “Area H is 100%! All other Areas are high!”

Joyce looked up suddenly. She’d lost her cool.

“What was that card?” he asked.

She hesitated and looked at the mirror, and then at him. “A poster for medicine from 3000 BC China.” She pulled out some other cards. “Now please look at these.”

There was a tortoise.

There was the sun.

There was the ocean.

There was gold.

His sense of wellbeing remained. That Chinese medicine must be a strong one. The images were harmonious, and all of long-living or imperishable things.

There was excited conversation in the room next door. A man said, “Is that it? Have we found the leverage point?”

Another man said, “That’s it! We’ll check the relevance of his surrounding content, and traffic received, but I think we’ve got it. Area H, the Hypothalamus, fully engaged with the Elixir of Life poster. That shows we can directly control biological functions with archetypal advertising. Prepare the Brainspam.”

When Martin went home he felt very different. Everything was wonderful, and would remain so as long as he kept taking his medicine.