By Andrew Roberts
Key Themes: short stories, science fiction (sci-fi), schizophrenia, mania
Widow's Peak is the first of three short stories which deal with the delusions of a madman made real with science. Though Widow's Peak is pure science fiction it does, to some extent, document the author's own journey. In this book Andrew Roberts looks at telepathy and ways of making it workable. Note most mental illnesses operate on this premise. This is an interesting and engaging perspective on science fiction, as bought to you by a recovering schizophrenic. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
About the Author
Andrew Roberts was born in England and, with a strong religious up-bringing, attended a Methodist Church up to the age of 16. Andrew turned back to God eight years later when he developed mild schizophrenia as he completed his degree in psychology. For Andrew, schizophrenia was very much a journey into madness with a spiritual edge. He undertook a course in Mental Health Nursing and now works with people with similar problems to his own. The three stories in this book are his first attempt at writing fiction. He is also working on a new approach to beating the voices.
Sometime just before the swarm centuries, an obscure scientist, Richard Jenkins is in the Arizona Sonora Desert in search of a handful of pre-selected animals that live in this inhospitable habitat. This man has scoured two thirds of the globe, mostly in extreme environments, as these, he thinks, will produce what he is looking for. The sun’s increased energy speeds up these animals’ metabolisms, enhancing any advantages they may have. He is in search of something that may not even exist. What is he studying? Some say he is a nut, others deny he is a scientist, but what counts is what he believes. He is studying Para-biology or at least trying to create it in humans from animals. No-one knows if humans had any undiscovered mental abilities in their past, perhaps before they had language but not now. Richard Jenkins knows this because he has developed a machine to test this and he has tested humans and found nothing.
That’s why he has turned to animals to test them for possible mental powers. He knows not what to expect but if he is successful he knows exactly what to do with them, what he wasn’t aware of was the forces he would unleash.
His guide lifted a stone and out scurried a scorpion. It scampered across the scientist’s boot. He jumped back a few feet and the guide, Dave, started laughing, picked the scorpion up by its tail and held it out for the scientist to ‘test it for God knows what’ he thought. Jenkins, sweating, grunted and wiped his face. He wasn’t keen on creepy crawlies but his projections predicted one of the highest possibilities for finding what he was looking for. This time though, as was the case so many thousand times before, he detected nothing. He looked up at the sky, shielding his eyes from the sun and thought maybe the spiders.
“Yes, the spiders” he muttered.
“Spiders, did you say” the guide pointed to an oasis in the valley. Dave walked and Richard trudged on towards a place the guide often thought of as magical. It had entered his dreams many times and he had been visiting this place since he was a child.
Jenkins had tested so many thousands of species in the past. He had noticed that when birds fly in flocks they would all turn at the same time and he wondered if they had telepathic abilities. Similarly he tested fish because of the way they swam in shoals. He tested fire flies because their abdomens flashed altogether in unison across dozens of the flashing fly laden trees at a time. He tested the duck-billed platypus which, he learned, could seek out its prey by sensing an animal’s electrical currents in its nerves, with its duck bill. These creatures were of interest for another reason. As human females have an xx chromosome and the males an xy, the platypus females have five xx chromosomes and the males five xy. This information could have pointed the way to the possibility of psychic ability. But alas all lacked mental powers.
If it hadn’t been for Richard Jenkins diligence, commitment, and determination then maybe mankind’s dark future could have been avoided, but this was not the first time the world would have to pay for a scientist thinking he had a bright idea and it probably wouldn’t be the last.
Maybe the brain is a universe in itself and thoughts are living things which thrive or die according to natural laws. Maybe synapses were at one time cellular organisms that lived in symbiosis in the brain and competed to survive. Just as mitochondria, a cells energy source, are thought to have been once cellular organisms that were symbiotic and as a result gave humans advantages for advantages to themselves in return. The result was assimilation by the body.
Whatever the theory the fact remained that this scientist had an idea and he felt it should be tested as to whether or not it actually existed.
The fact that this idea caste shadows was neither here nor there according to Richard Jenkins. In fact, he may have known this on a subconscious level but a scientist being a man of logic, of black and white perceptions, his ken was skewed and unable to foresee basic complications in his plans. In practice, the idea seemed to perpetuate itself, a life of its own. What force that gave it this momentum is still to this day unknown.
His guide trudged on ignoring the scientists’ grunts and groans about the speed of their journey. At last they came to the trees and shrubs. The guide walked through the undergrowth and stopped at a small fallen tree that he said was gradually being decomposed by many life forms and would be a haven for a whole host of critters he could test.
Richard spots something that the guide hasn’t. His eyes light up and points to the animal and asks him what species is it.
“Yes, that’s the Black Widow, a female I think.”
“Just the sex I’m looking for, in this species anyway.” He lowers the instrument to the spider. As with most scientists he was mildly euphoric when he smelt the possibility of success, as if the feeling was a drug. His pack, with the universal energy amplifier, starts to crackle, he adjusts the filter controls and then it bleeps, once at first then in quick succession, he shouts.
“Well, guide, I have just found the biological equivalent of gold”. And so it was that Richard Jenkins, the scientist, thought of as a bit of a nut, was vindicated at last. However, as things are never as good or as bad as they seem, there was a flipside to the discovery. Just as Jenkins takes his instrument away the spider leaps towards it and just nicks the man’s hand. The guide swears at him, “I told you not to get too close to the venomous types”. The scientist, not realizing the seriousness of his error exclaims.
“Oh I’ll be alright. It was just a nip” and rubs his hand. The guide immediately grabs his hand and puts it in his mouth biting around the spiders bite. “Ow, that hurts!” “Look, what would you prefer” says the guide “to die or lose a small piece of flesh”. The Scientist still only mildly perturbed and still not realizing the seriousness of this event sniffs and holds his hand out and turns his face away. The guide bites and sucks at the flesh and puts a tourniquet around his wrist. “Come, we must hurry.”
The hospital was 2 hours drive away and they have to walk over a kilometre to the land rover. The guide is faced with a dilemma, make him run to the vehicle, or walk and prevent his body carrying the venom round it. Already the skin on his hand is starting to darken and the guide is worried. The guide having always been careful of the land and its laws of nature had never been bitten or had to deal with another person having a venomous bite. The guide tries to remember his training, which was years ago. Jenkins is oblivious to all this and is ranting about how he will receive the Nobel Peace prize. Soon the pain spreads to his arm and Jenkins begins to worry a little when he notices the guide looking anxiously at the spread of the Black Widows potentially fatal venom. Jenkins starts to flag at this point and asks for a rest to catch his breath. The guide denies him.
This product was added to our catalog on Friday 03 November, 2006.