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A novel Written by Felicia Hajra-Lee that seems to follow what Devra is doing now , although it was written years ago.
The book was renamed when it got published
Dear Mr. Chapeau (yes, I know that's not your real name),
If you want to find out what's going on with Devra Bogdanovich, read this. It's the first chapter of my novel, An Exotic Matter. This novel, and I have proof, was set to be published in 2009, but my publisher went under. It's been tied up in their bankruptcy ever since. It's very upsetting. I've got half a mind to put it out digitally. The contract doesn't say anything about that.
The other thing that upsets me is that I'm the first writer I know of who's been plagiarized by reality. That is, if indeed these stories about Devra Bogdanovich are real. I can't tell. I think maybe somebody found ‘An Exotic Matter’ and is stealing it from me.
I'm sending the first chapter to you for free. If your investigators want to see the rest of it, they've got to pay. There's a lot of stuff in there that might be of value to your fans.
I'm enclosing the galley proof from my publisher. There's more where this came from, but not for free. And if somebody’s ripping me off, I'm going to find out who it is.
Zurich to Zagreb
Something was very wrong. But Devra wasn’t sure what that something might be, because the escape from CERN had gone perfectly.
The calamity happened just the way they were afraid it would. Or maybe the way Devra had secretly hoped it would. The sirens. Security personnel running everywhere. Distraction and chaos.
Then, the escape. A motorcycle race through the city. The crossing gate. Getting on board. Separating from Jarvis.
Now, Dr. Devra Bogdanovich was alone. Almost.
She stared out the window of the passenger car. The foreground was a blur of lights, signs, poles, passing cars, and towns. The mountains were somewhere in the darkness, stately and fixed. Devra was looking for reassurance in a chaotic and increasingly dangerous universe, but instead, her eyes caught
glimpses of the barely visible European countryside.
Everything had gone perfectly, Devra thought. Yet something was wrong. Maybe it was the perfection. The Swiss
precision of it all. A complete lack of friction. As a scientist, Devra knew that perfection was an intellectual concept: it didn’t exist in the real world. But she'd just witnessed it. Lived it. And it wasn’t sitting well with her.
She closed her eyes. Thoughts and memories crashed together in a swirl of motion that mirrored the rhythmic clanking of the tracks and streaking lights racing past. Each second Devra was more distant from the flawless escape, and closer to an uncertain future.
Jarvis was at least fifty kilometers away by now. Devra had explained that this was part of the plan, but the look on Jarvis’ face told her that he didn’t know. He expected them to stay together. She remembered him as she stepped away. Jarvis, hiding his anger and sense of betrayal and failing miserably at both. She would make it up to him. Besides, they would look for the two of them traveling together. Alone was better.
Well, Devra wasn’t traveling totally alone. She had a guardian angel. A non-corporeal spirit that haunted every possible piece of equipment and technology that she had and would come in contact with as she ran. It was ADA. A Detection Algorithm. An artificial intelligence of vast, limitless capabilities and unknowable intentions.
ADA had choreographed their escape from Niantic. But what had she choreographed that Devra hadn’t seen? Were there operatives on the train with her? The businessman who either wasn't enjoying his novel or was just pretending to read it. What about that couple? Young. Hip. The guy had been eyeing her. She’d flattered herself into thinking it was because
she was attractive. And what about the girl? Devra had caught her looking.
She knew she could literally drive herself crazy projecting the possibilities. If ADA had some sinister plan… IfADA was even capable of hatching sinister plans… She wasn’t going to figure it out now. She closed her eyes, uneasily. It didn’t stop the data flood. This didn’t surprise Devra. She’d been
overloaded with XM just like the rest of them only a few hours ago.
Devra was the scientific lead on the Niantic Project, which comprised a team of investigators to detennine the “Threats and Opportunities Inherent in Exotic Matter”, “XM” for short, for the National Intelligence Agency, a.k.a. the “NIA”. It was an open ended think tank populated by both scientists and sensitives“ - people who were receptive to the influence of exotic matter. Jarvis, the famous sculptor. Enoch, the musician. A symbologist - Carrie. Misty, the magician/psychic who claimed to have no gifts beyond being a sensitive. A theological physicist/conman named Stein. And a select group of physicists of various different types. Scientists like herself. It was an odd group. Reminded her of the old Donovan song Atlantis”
Knowing her fate, Atlantis sent out ships to all corners of the Earth. On board were the Twelve: The poet, the physician, the farmer, the scientist, The magician and the other so-called Gods of our legends. Though Gods they were And as the elders of our time choose to remain blind
Exotic Matter, long theorized, had recently been officially discovered and quantified at the CERN Laboratories as part of the Higgs-Boson research. Without a flashy name like “The God Particle,” XM was ignored in the media. But not by those in the know…
XM was a bit of cosmic substrate whose very existence
was, until recently, barely accepted. Its only observable characteristic was a very faint gravitational tug felt in the aggregate across vast stretches of the universe, gently slowing the ceaseless expansion of everything from the core out to the edge of nothingness. But in a lab, their lab, recently, they had isolated and observed the subatomic particles that comprise XM. Actually, ADA observed them. The humans merely double checked the results, but the scientific glory would be theirs.
Troubling though, was the strange pattern of irregular pulsations detected at the very margin of XM's fragile existence. A thrum of vibrations at the particle level. Entirely normal in the general case but this thrum was different. It was irregular in the most intriguing way. There were patterns. A logic. ADA's cold summary delivered in an almost human voice still hung in the air. “This dataset contains ordered information. Preliminary analysis suggest encoded communication.” It was most certainly an error, some contamination of the delicate measurements used to analyze the particles. And yet, so far, inexplicable.
This was Devra’s field. She had been curious since the beginning why a physicist like herself who focused on the collapse of quasars and a lifelong passion for SETI had been
invited to a particle physics research group. It was Devra’s algorithms that ADA had run against the dataset. That had never been intended. Why would one search for signs of extra-terrestrial life at the subatomic realm? And yet, what surfaced was beyond anything she had dared to dream in decades. Dialtone. A signal of ordered information with no organic explanation. If there was dialtone, somewhere there was a sender, or at least that was what she had argued in her doctoral thesis.
Without explanation, this result had been anticipated by the Niantic Project coordinators. She had been invited, seemingly in anticipation of such an impossible discovery. That made no
sense. She batted the thought away for the hundredth time. “Thoughts come, but you do not hold onto to them,” she repeated to herself as a mantra, as she attempted to relax.
An image of Zeke Calvin broke in, shattering her nerves again. Calvin, the single neurobiologist on the team, had been calm when the results came back. Too calm. He should have laughed out loud. Instead, without missing a beat, he had launched a series of experiments off-site with colleagues in a commercial drug company in Basel. They first bathed rodent, then primate brains, with the dialtone signal encoded into electrical pulses. Calvin's work had not yet been published, but he was clearly excited. He talked about behavioral and morphological changes.
And then there were the intel geeks. The worst kind of geeks, in love not only with technology, but secret technology, and most definitely unbearable companions at meal-times. They had been flying a new sensor. They didn't say, and she didn't understand if it was on some type of aircraft or on a satellite. It had a specific mission, to look for XM
concentrations on earth. Again, this made no sense. When Devra joined the project, there was no published knowledge of XM concentrations of any observable levels anywhere on the planet. Such a sensor would have taken months to build and launch. Possibly years. And yet it existed. Devra had seen the mapping of XM projected onto a globe. There were tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of sites.
If the XM existed, presumably the dialtone signal was pervasive as well. Calvin wanted to continue his studies, but this time on humans in the field. Lynton-Wolfe was working on a smart-phone app that used the map to guide humans to XM concentrations. An embedded XM modulation core would allow resonating XM constructs to amplify these naturally occurring XM anomalies. Their plan was to expose civilians, en masse, to vast quantities of XM. They spoke of XM constructs resonators” and “fields” - in ways Devra didn't understand.
And now she had seen what a mega-dose of modulated XM could do. There was some kind of effect on the human nervous system. She herself had been largely immune, but the others… No, she couldn't yet process what she had seen.
Some believed that the XM anomalies were portals. Beacons. Giant trans-dimensional signposts, subconsciously detected by all humans, but acutely evident to sensitives… a beautiful invisible artifact of a greater universe. Like the Alps somewhere out there in the dark, Devra thought to herself. Inspiring, but carrying no particular meaning.
Others believed that they were spewing ordered data which was translated by the human brain as ideas, impulses, thoughts and emotions. Still others believed that they were executable code: brain viruses that actually inhabited and influenced the mind.
Devra didn’t know what she believed, but she saw the
potential risk. And to her, the least mathematical on the science team, the arithmetic was easy: if small amounts of it could cause men to build Chartres Cathedral, imagine what large amounts of it could do. Be careful. Move slowly. Yes. This could be the gateway to an amazing future. Or it could be a portal to hell. No reason to hurry. But that’s not what happened.
When Devra discovered that Lynton-Wolfe’s team was deploying resonators out in the world, with no sense of the consequences, she knew she had to leave… escape. But how and to where?
That’ s where ADA came in. And, ironically, Jarvis.
ADA sympathized with Devra’ s need to get out. To contact associates. To counter Niantic, or at least have a plan to minimize the damage if the worst happened. Devra’ s success would count on the advantage of surprise because she was not trained in what she was about to attempt. The plan meant leaving during the Lynton-Wolfe test. It would give her “panic” as a plausible motive if she were caught. What she lacked were the mechanical skills to escape.
But that’ s where Jarvis came in. He wanted out for his own reasons. Certainly not as noble or important as her own, but no less passionate in desire. Jarvis had seen enough of Niantic. Of XM. Of the influence of what they had come to call the Shapers. Jarvis was a man determined to create his own destiny, as far away from Niantic as possible.
ADA had convinced them both that this would work. That running together gave them the maximum chance of success.
Unless maybe running was a mistake.
A cold chill ran down Devra’s spine. Doubt. She tried to
was the question. Was XM ever lethal?
She advised caution, but Lynton-Wolfe and even Calvin had ignored her. Or, at best, humored her. Now she would fight them. She would build a team to counter Niantic’s research.
The thought of this filled Devra with equal doses of excitement and dread. The NIA would be coming after her. Even they knew that something was very wrong. Her.
No, the moon, Devra thought. That is what’s wrong. She looked again. It shimmered in the night so low in the sky that it seem ed below the windows of train. Devra realized that wasn’t possible. She was seeing a reflection. The train was moving by a large body of water. A lake. She could make out boats moored at docks alongside it. Then a large building. A sign that read “See Hotel Kais…”
A loud bump jolted Devra’s attention back into the train car. Ahead, the young couple she’d noticed earlier struggled with a large duffel bag. Hikers, or college students seeing Europe while they could, she imagined. No threat. Maybe even Americans like herself But she wasn’t sure. That gift was reserved for Europeans. Spotting Americans came second nature to them.
Having traveled the world, Devra was struck by how often people would recognize her as not only being from the States, but even from California, before she even opened her mouth. Something about the way she looked. Her attitude… Her bearing as her father used to tell her. The way she moved and
carried herself. A swagger, she was once told. The tilt of her head. The movement of her eyes. Her clothing. Something besides her accent had given her away many times in the past.
She kind of liked it. But then again, she had never been hunted before. She would have to learn to vanish in a crowd. Not easy for a tall, blonde, attractive woman. But she'd have to
learn. She’d heard a story one about how Marilyn Monroe could walk down the streets of Manhattan unnoticed and then turn it on with a giggle and a wave of her hair. Devra had to learn the opposite. Tonight, she was going to be just another Swiss businesswoman - or maybe a housewife - on her way to a business meeting or a relative's funeral.
Devra set out to create a plausible fiction of who she was now. Choose a story. Fill in the details. She grabbed her smartphone to capture the ideas and edit them into a narrative. Better than trying to make out shapes in the night. And certainly a mind that had imagined into the farthest reaches of human knowledge, and had explored theoretical abstracts of time and space itself, could create a plausible reason for being on a train in the middle of the night. Just in case someone should ask. Which Devra was sure they wouldn’t. No one would ask her anything.
“Business or pleasure?” a voice asked.
Sorry?” Devra replied.
“Pleasure for me, obviously. And her. That’s Mika. I’m David.”
He smiled from the aisle next to her seat. Mika waved from further down as she nudged the rest of the duffel bag onto the seat. Devra made a mental note to improve her situational awareness. David had moved right next to her, and she hadn’t noticed.
“Nothing to worry about, David,” Devra smiled.
“Plenty of room on this train. I heard they were crowded this time of year.”
“Not this time of night.”
“Oh, yeah. That makes sense, I guess. Mika and I are
hoping that this club is still open when we get to our stop. It’s called “The Night Gallery”, I think. You can join us if you’d like.” David had that cocky-cool demeanor she had run into so many times with her students. Guys who think a smile is all it takes.
“Business,” Devra said as she looked again at Mika. Pretty girl. And that’s when she noticed the duffel bag. Something wasn’t right. It was filled with angular objects… she could make out comers and flat surfaces pressing against the cotton fabric.
“You asked, earlier. Remember?”
“Right. An ice-breaker. Don’t care really…”
Devra looked at David again, and it was as if she was seeing him all over again with new eyes. She began to think that the XM that must still be coursing through her had enhanced her senses - she was studying its effects on the human mind - perhaps it was able to do more than excite the creative impulse, but the survival one as well. Because now, David was a threat in Devra’ s eyes. Not a physical threat, but she was sure something wasn’t right. Time to end this.
“Just an opener to say ‘hi’ to a fellow traveler, then?” Devra smiled.
“Fellow American. We’ve got to stick together, huh? Come on. The Night Gallery. That’s gotta be cool…”
“Probably not,” Devra said. No fight or flight. Night
Gallery. The name had sinister overtones. Rod Serling. Creepy stories, like “The Twilight Zone”. Like right now, she thought. Of all the names a club could have, she hears “The Night Gallery”.
David smiled, shrugging. “Change your mind, you know where to find me, uh… What was your name again?”
“Connie,” said Devra, with as much conviction as she could muster.
“You don’t look like a Connie,” David whispered as he moved closer to her.
“But I do look like an American,” Devra said looking back up at him, her eyes suddenly cold. “You know I might be old enough to be your mother. Do you invite your mother to
David smiled as he turned away. “I like my mother.”
David stepped back to Mika and gave her a long kiss, obviously for Devra’s benefit. She tried to make out words that they exchanged. Mika gave a look back Devra’s way as she dropped down into the seat.
Devra turned her attention back out the window. The train was slowing down. They’d reach the station soon. She’d made it this far, but if a frat boy from halfway around the world was able to see through her, what chance did she stand against the NIA?
She got up from her seat and moved quickly back to the next car. A little more crowded than the first. She moved to an empty seat and plopped down into it.
Half the car’s passengers got up as the train stopped. From her new vantage point, Devra could see David and Mika head out across the platform. They looked happy. Carefree. Children in adult bodies, blithely unaware of what was coming for them
Just reverse it and replace calvin with ezekiel and you get another passcode - 4zc7ezekielw5u5q
in life. What comes for everybody, eventually. The problems of adulthood. Devra envied them. Could she have that back? Ever. Why does it really end? She repressed the urge to jump off the train and see if the Night Gallery lived up to the billing David was trying to sell.
Oh that’s right. I have a world to save,” she thought to herself. She was almost giddy. It was the non-violent version of what Dashiell Hammet referred to as ‘blood simple.’ That moment where thrill and fear disabled brain function. Where life is so terrifying that it becomes comedy.
With the subtlest of jerks, the train was once again in motion. The gentle rocking was comforting. She knew the crash was coming. You can’t have that much adrenaline without a crash. It was pure physiology or body chemistry to be precise. The barely audible sound of the train pulling itself through the European countryside at night reminded her that there was an app of ambient audio which was the very sound
she was fighting to ignore. The sound of rest. Sleep.
Devra smiled and closed her eyes. There would be many others she would need to open in the next few weeks if she had any hope of success. But for now, she closed her eyes. And kept them closed.
Hours later, Devra was returning back to the station with a cup of coffee.
“Always with the horses,” she thought to herself as she passed a statute of a military poet. Ahead, she could see the two-story yellow building that was the station. Numbers in blue circles were aligned across its front. A single clock tower jutted out of the center. She looked at the time and compared it to her smartphone. On schedule.
She flashed the phone again to the conductor as she
reboarded the train. Devra marveled at how quickly this part of the world had become comfortable with its new reality. From Soviet rule to Western chaos. The human animal was remarkably adaptable. Once it got over the shock of change, it learned to cope. To accept. And then to modify its code as needed until it could thrive. A micro-scaled version of cosmic reality.
As soon as Devra began to walk down the center aisle of the train car, she caught sight of David and Mika. They were focused on each other but it was clear to her that it would be impossible to pass them without acknowledging their presence. She steadied herself.
“Night Gallery wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, huh?” Devra said flatly.
“Closed. Who knew?”
“Not you, obviously.”
“Obviously,” David smiled back. He didn’t get the American accent right with that one. He was tired. Frustrated.
For a reason she couldn’t quite comprehend herself, she gently kicked the duffle bag on the floor by David’s feet. He reacted with a start as her shoe made contact with something hard.
“You travel light,” she said sarcastically. Suddenly, Mika’s face hardened. David tried his best to hide it, but Devra could tell he was raging inside.
“I’m a…” David mumbled.
“Photographer?” Devra asked.
Sure. Why not?” he replied.
“Or maybe a programmer?”
“Okay. Whatever you want.” David forced a smile.
Devra stared hard at him. He wasn’t cocky now. He was off
balance. He was wondering at some level whether he had gone from predator to prey. Off balance was where she wanted him. She turned her attention to Mika.
“I want you to stay away from me, David. You and Mika both. I know that bag is filled with stolen gear - phones and computers and tablets that you’ve been taking from passengers. I know that you think you can charm your way into the confidence of people traveling solo. I can imagine that Mika here has no problem with the men, and you handle the marks like me. Do I look like a mark to you?”
“A ripe one,” Mika replied, forcing a smile through her clenched teeth.
“And am I acting like one?” Devra said, her eyes locked right back on Mika.
“No,” David said.
“When you met me, you told me you were traveling for pleasure. I told you I was on business. You do not want to know what my business is…” Devra said slowly.
Mika and David both reacted as if they had just looked into the face a demon. Whatever power the XM was giving her, Devra realized it included the ability to intimidate. Or was it a new ability? Certainly she’d had it before. She didn’t get to her position at Stanford or on Niantic without it. But now, she had a sense of mastery. A sense of total understanding.
And with that, Devra stepped away, barely able to maintain her composure. She wanted to scream out loud, not from fear, but from triumph. The XM was affecting her in ways she had never anticipated. She had accused the two thieves because in a flash she had seen their every action as if she had been there herself. A two-hour movie in the blink of an eye, and yet she could remember every detail. Every theft. Every con they had
run on every victim.
Devra found a seat near the back of the passenger car and hunkered down as the doors closed with a pneumatic whoosh. The train pulled out of the station. Across the aisle, a single middle-aged man surfed the internet on a tablet. Devra turned to him, pointing toward Mika.
“She doesn’t want you. She wants your stuff,” Devra said.
“So, a woman then?” The man smiled back to her. Devra laughed. The first laugh in as long as she could remember.
She laughed longer than she should have. A laughter that seemed to release all of the pent up energy and fear and anxiety and stress and confusion and doubt within her. Devra took a breath, picked up her phone and dialed. The ringing seemed to go on forever, until finally, a voice on the other end of the line. Devra hesitated for only a moment.
“Hello. It’s Devra. Yes. Really. I’m fine. Thanks. You?
Good, good. Look, I’m coming into town. I know. It has been too long. Well, I’m making up for that now. Literally. Yes. In about two hours. Only if it wouldn’t be an inconvenience. I can take a cab. Or the metro. They still have those lovely blue trains? Really? You’re sure? Okay, yes. I can find it. The statue out front. Dalmatians, yes. I’ m sure it’ s not that ridiculous. Oh, is it? Okay. I will see you there. Thanks, you have saved my life. Again. Now I might be able to save yours. What? Yes. I will tell all when I see you. Bye.”
Devra touched the screen to hang up the call as a text message suddenly came through.
Stick to the plan and I will keep you safe.”
There was no point in trying to respond. It wouldn’t change anything. Instead, she dropped lower into her seat. She would be there in a few hours.
Blink. She could feel the brakes slowing the train. Had she dozed off‘? No, she was sure of it. Yet the train was arriving at her destination. She could hear the announcement. Another two-hour movie instantly experienced.
Devra shook her head.
“We’re here already?” she said to the man across the aisle.
“Time flies,” he replied.
“Except when it stands still,” Devra said.
“At least we made it out of Zurich alive…” the man replied.
“What do you mean?”
“The murders. At the Zurich HB. You didn’t hear?”
“What? When?” Devra tried to hide her reaction. The panic started to build back up inside her.
“Last night. They are treating it as a possible hoax. Or stunt,” he said as he passed Devra his tablet.
She looked at the story on the screen. There was a picture of Jarvis laying by the Escher statue. And the body of a woman sprawled next to him. Devra took a deep breath and prayed her reaction was controlled. She steeled her eyes.
“Thank you,” Devra replied as she handed the man back his tablet and got to her feet.
Suddenly, her phone buzzed again. She read the text message on her screen. “Devra. Stick to the plan. Your meeting place is set.”
Buzz. “I will keep you safe.”
Devra could not get the image of Jarvis out of her mind. They had killed him. And killed a woman with him. Her build. Her hair color.
“I will keep you safe.”
That was supposed to be her. The woman. They killed her, but Devra realized she was the target. Her guardian angel had\
saved her again. Buzz.
“I will keep…”
And only the angel would know.
Devra turned off the phone with a start as the blood drained from her face. She quickly composed herself and moved forward with the other passengers, toward David and Mika who were making their way to the exit doors.
Devra shoved her way past them, pushing Mika aside and trying to her best to not break into a full run, even though her
legs so desperately wanted to.
The doors barely opened when Devra practically leapt onto the train platform and quickly made her way into the crowd.
Devra didn’t stop to look back at David and Mika’s reaction and to see whether she was being followed. She thought to herself as she walked that the old Devra would have turned back. That her curiosity would have gotten the best of her. And that is how the cat got killed, she remembered. So she kept her eyes focused ahead.
They didn’t know. They hadn’t seen it happen.
Mika was so busy being territorial she didn’t notice Devra drop the phone into the pocket of her duffle bag of goods as Devra had brushed her aside. One more stolen piece of tech that David and Mika would eventually pawn.
But for now, though they couldn’t know it, the angel would travel with them.
Chapter 2 seems to expand a bit more the events surrounding Devra but now also Farlowe and the mysterious 855
Chapter 3 continues the story of the events that connect Devra, Farlowe and 855 over in Europe.