Mobius Trippers!

Darcy Clarke got as far as Pill - the mysterious object shot down over the Hudson Bay, but without yet explaining its nature - when Harry stopped him. 'So far,' the Necroscope complained, 'while all of this has been very interesting, I don't see how it's got much to do with me; or with Brenda and Harry Jnr.'

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Clarke said, 'But you will. You see, it's not the sort of thing I can just tell you part of, or only the bits you're going to be interested in. If you don't see the whole picture, then the rest of it will be doubly difficult to understand. Anyway, if you do decide you'd like in on this, you'll need to know it all. I'll be coming to the things you'll find interesting later.'

Harry nodded. 'All right - but let's go through to the kitchen. Could you use a coffee? Instant, I'm afraid; I've no patience with the real thing.'

'Coffee would be fine,' said Clarke. 'And don't worry about your instant. Anything has to be good after the gallons of stuff I drink out of that machine at HQ!' And following Harry through the dim corridors of the old house, he smiled. For all the Necroscope's apparently negative response, Clarke could see that in fact he was starting to unwind.

In the kitchen Clarke waited until Harry brought the coffee to the large wooden kitchen table and seated himself, then started to take up the story again. 'As I was saying, they shot this thing down over the Hudson Bay. Now-'

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'Wait,' said Harry. 'OK, I accept that you're going to tell it your own way. That being the case, I'd better know the bits round the edges, too. Like how your lot got interested in Perchorsk in the first place?'

'Actually, by accident,' Clarke answered. 'We don't automatically get called in on everything, you know. We're still very much the "silent partner", as it were, when it comes to the country's security. No more than half-a-dozen of Her Majesty's lads in Whitehall - and one lady, of course - know that we even exist. And that's how we prefer to keep it. As always, it makes funding difficult, not to mention the acquisition of new technology toys, but we get by. Gadgets and ghosts, that's always been the way of it. We're a meeting point - but only just - between super-science and the so-called supernatural, and that's how we're likely to stay for quite some little time.

'But since the Bodescu affair things have been relatively quiet. Our psychics get called in a lot to help the police; indeed, they're relying up on us more and more all the time. We find stolen gold, art treasures, arms caches; we even supplied a warning about that mess at Brighton, and a couple of our lads were actually on their way down there when it happened. But by and large we're still very much low-key. So we don't tell everything, and alas we don't get told everything. Even the people who do know about us have difficulty seeing how computerized probability patterns can work alongside precognition. We've come a long way, but let's face it, telepathy isn't nearly as accurate as the telephone!'

'Isn't it?' Harry's sort - with the dead - was one hundred per cent accurate.

'Not if the other side knows you're listening in, no.'

'But it is more secret,' Harry pointed out, and Clarke sensed the acid in his tone. 'So how did you "accidentally" learn about Perchorsk?'

'We got to know about it because our "Comrades" at Perchorsk didn't want us to! I'll explain: do you remember Ken Layard?'

The locator? Of course I remember him,' Harry answered.

'Well, it was as simple as that. Ken was checking up on a bit of Russian military activity in the Urals - covert troop movements and what-not - and he met with resistance. There were opposed minds there, Soviet espers who were deliberately smothering the place in mental smog!'

Now a degree of animation showed in Harry's pale face, especially in his eyes, which seemed to brighten appreciably. So his old friends the Russian espers had regrouped, had they? He nodded grimly. 'Soviet E-Branch is back in business, eh?'

'Obviously,' said Clarke. 'Oh, we've known about them for some time. But after what you did to the Chateau Bronnitsy they've not been taking any chances. They've been even more low-key than we are! They have two centres now: one in Moscow, right next door to the biological research laboratories on Protze Prospekt, and the other in Mogocha near the Chinese border, mainly keeping a wary eye on the Yellow Peril.' "And this lot at Perchorsk,' Harry reminded him. 'A small section,' Clarke nodded, 'established there purely to keep us out! As far as we can tell, anyway. But what on earth can the Soviets be doing there that rates so high on their security list, eh? After Pill, we decided we'd better find out.

The MI branches owed us favours; we learned that they were trying to put one of their agents - a man called Michael J. Simmons - in there; and so we, well, we sort of hitched a lift.'

'You got to him?' Harry raised an eyebrow. 'How?

And more to the point, since he's one of ours anyway, why?'

'Quite simply because we didn't want him to know!' Clarke seemed surprised that Harry hadn't fathomed it for himself. 'What, with Soviet espers crawling all over the place, we should openly establish a telepathic link with him or something? No, we couldn't do that, for their psychics would be onto him in a flash - so we sort of bugged him instead. And since he was in the dark about it, we decided not to tell his bosses at MIS either! Let's face it, you can't talk about what you don't know about, now can you?'

Harry gave a snort. 'No, of course not!' he said. 'And after all, why should the left hand tell the right one what it's doing, eh?'

'They wouldn't have believed us, anyway,' Clarke shrugged off the other's sarcasm. They only understand one sort of bugging. They couldn't possibly have understood ours. We borrowed something belonging to Simmons for a little while, that's all, and gave it to one of our new lads, David Chung, to work on.' 'A Chinaman?' Again the raised eyebrow. 'Chinese, yes, but a Cockney, actually,' Clarke chuckled. 'Born and raised in London. He's a locator and scryer, and damned good at it. So we took a cross Simmons wears and gave it to Chung. Simmons thought he'd mislaid it, and we arranged for him to find it again. Meanwhile David Chung had developed a "sympathetic link" with the cross, so that he would "know" where it was at any given time and even be able to see or scry through it, like using a crystal ball. It worked, too - for a while, anyway.'

'Oh?' Harry's interest was waning again. He never had thought much of espionage, and had considered ESP-ionage the lowest of all its many forms. Yet another reason why he'd left E-Branch. Deep down inside he thought of espers who used their talents that way as psychic voyeurs. On the other hand he knew it was better that they worked for the common good than against it. As for his own talent: that was different. The dead didn't consider him a peeping Tom but a friend, and they respected him as such.

'The other thing we did,' Clarke continued, 'was this: we convinced Simmons's bosses that he shouldn't have a D-cap.'

'A what?' Harry wrinkled his nose. That sounds like some sort of family planning tackle to me!'

'Ah, sorry!' said Clarke. 'You weren't with us long enough to learn about that sort of thing, were you? A D-capsuIe is a quick way out of trouble. A man can find himself in a situation where it's a lot better to be dead. When he's suffering under torture, for instance, or when he knows that one wrong answer (or right answer) will compromise a lot of good friends. Simmons's mission was that kind of job. We have our sleepers in Redland, as you know. Just as they have theirs over here; your stepfather was one of them. Well, Simmons would be working through a group of sleepers who'd been activated; if he was caught... maybe he wouldn't want to jeopardize them. The initiative to use his death capsule would be Simmons's own, of course. The capsule goes inside a tooth; all a man has to do is bite down hard on it and...'

Harry pulled a face. 'As if there aren't enough of the dead already!'

Clarke felt he was losing Harry, that he was driving him further from the fold. He speeded up:

'Anyway, we convinced his bosses that they should give him a fake D-cap, a capsule containing complex but harmless chemicals, knock-out drops at the worst.'

Harry frowned. 'Then why give him one at all?'

'Incentive,' said Clarke. 'He wouldn't know it was a fake. It would be there as a reminder to watch his step!'

'God, the minds of you people!' Harry felt genuine disgust.

And Clarke actually agreed. He nodded glumly. 'You haven't heard the worst of it. We told them that our prognosticators had given him a high success rating: he was going to come back with the goods. Except...'

'Yes?' Harry narrowed his eyes.

'Well, the fact is we'd given him no chance at all; we knew he was going to be picked up!'

Harry jumped up, slammed his fist down on the table so hard that he made it jump. 'In that case it was criminal even to let them send him!' he shouted. 'He'd get picked up, spill the beans under pressure, drop the people who'd helped him right in it - to say nothing of himself! What the hell's been happening in E-Branch over the last eight years? I'm damned sure Sir Keenan Gormley wouldn't have stood for any of this in his day!'

Clarke was dead white in the face. The corner of his mouth twitched but he remained seated. 'Oh, yes he would have, Harry. This time he really would have.' Clarke made an effort to relax, said: 'Anyway, it isn't as black as I've painted it. See, Chung is so good that he'd know the minute Simmons was taken. He did know, and as soon as he said so we passed it on. As far as we're aware MIS has alerted all Simmons's contacts over there and they've taken action to cover their tracks or even get the hell out of it.'

Harry sat down again, but he was still coldly furious. 'I've just about had it with this,' he said. 'I can see now that you've got yourself in a hole and you've come to ask me to dig you out. Well, if that's the case, then the rest of what you have to tell me had better be good because...frankly, this whole mess pisses me off! OK, let's recap. Even knowing Simmons would get picked up, you fixed him up with a dummy D-cap and let him get himself sent on an impossible mission. Also - '

'Wait,' said Clarke. 'You still haven't got it right. As far as we were concerned, that was his mission: to get picked up! We knew he was going to be anyway.' His expression was as cold as Harry's but without the other's fury.

'I can't see this improving,' said Harry in a little while. 'In fact it gets worse and worse! And all of this to get a man inside the Perchorsk Projekt, so that your scryer Chung could spy through him. But... didn't it dawn on you that the Soviet espers would pick Chung up, too? His ESP?'

'Eventually they would, yes,' Clarke nodded. 'Even though Chung would use his talent in the shortest possible bursts, they'd crack him eventually - and in fact we believe they have. Except we'd hoped that by that time we'd know exactly what was going on in there. We'd have proof, one way or the other, about what the Soviets were making - or breeding - down there!'

'Breeding - ?' Harry's mouth slowly formed an 'O'. And now his tone was very much quieter. 'What the hell are you trying to tell me, Darcy?'

'The thing they shot down over the Hudson Bay,' Clarke said, very slowly and very clearly, 'was one hellish thing, Harry. Can't you guess?'

Harry felt his scalp tingling again. 'You'd better tell me,' he said.

Clarke nodded and stood up. He put his knuckles on the table-top and leaned forward. 'You remember that thing Yulian Bodescu grew and kept in his cellar? Well, that's what it was, Harry, but big enough to make Bodescu's creature look tiny by comparison! And now you know why we need you. You see, it was the biggest, bloodiest vampire anybody could possibly imagine - and it came out of Perchorsk!'

After a long, long moment Harry Keogh said: 'If this were someone's idea of a joke, it would be just too gross to-'

'No joke, Harry,' Clarke cut in. 'Down at HQ we have film of the thing, shot from an AWACS before the fighters got it and burned it out of the sky. If it wasn't a vampire - or at least made of the stuff of vampires - then I'm in the wrong business. But our people who survived that raid on Bodescu's place, Harkley House in Devon, they're a lot more qualified than I am; and they all say that it was exactly like that, which to my mind means there's only one thing it could possibly be.'

'You think the Russians may be experimenting, making them - designing them - as weapons?' It was plain that the Necroscope found it incredible.

'Didn't that lunatic Gerenko have exactly that in mind before you... dealt with him?' Clarke was persistent.

Harry shook his head. 'I didn't kill Gerenko,' he said. 'Faethor Ferenczy did it for me.' He fingered his chin, glanced again at Clarke, and said, 'But you've made your point.'

Harry put his head down, clasped his hands behind him, walked slowly back through the brooding house to his study. Clarke followed him, trying to contain himself and not show his impatience. But time was wasting and he desperately needed Keogh's help.

It was mid-afternoon and streamers of late autumn sunlight were filtering in through the windows, highlighting the thin layer of dust that lay everywhere. Harry seemed to notice it for the first time; he trailed his finger along a dusty shelf, then paused to consider the accumulation of dark, gritty fluff on his fingertip. Finally he turned to Clarke and said: 'So really, there was no "parallel case" after all. That was just to make sure I'd listen to you, hear you out?'

Clarke shook his head. 'Harry, if there's one person in the world I would never lie to, you're it! Because I know you hate it, and because we need you. There's a parallel case, right enough. You see, I remembered how you put it that time eight years ago when your wife and child disappeared - before you quit E-Branch. You said: "They're not dead, and yet they're not here - so where are they?" I remembered it because it seems the same thing has happened again.'

'Someone has disappeared? In the same way?' Harry frowned, made a stab at it: 'Simmons, do you mean?'

'Jazz Simmons has disappeared, yes, in the same way,' Clarke answered. 'They caught him something less than a month ago and he was taken into Perchorsk. After that contact was difficult, very nearly impossible. David Chung reckoned it was (a) because the complex is at the foot of a ravine; the sheer bulk of matter blocks the psychic view; (b) because it's protected by a dense lead shield, which has the same effect; and (c) mainly because there are Soviet espers mind-blocking the place. Even so, Chung was able to get through on occasion. What he has seen or "scried" in there isn't reassuring.'

'Go on,' said Harry, his interest waxing again.

'Well,' Clarke continued, and immediately paused and sighed. 'This isn't easy, Harry. I mean, even Chung found it difficult to explain, and I'm only repeating him. But... he's seen something in a glass tank. He says he can't describe it better than that because it never seems to be the same. No, don't ask me,' he quickly held up his hands, shook his head. 'Personally I haven't the foggiest idea. Or if I have an idea then I don't much care to voice it.'

'Go ahead,' said Harry. 'Voice it.'

'I don't have to,' Clarke shook his head. 'I'm sure you know what I mean...'

Harry nodded. 'OK. Is there anything else?'

'Only this: Chung says he sensed fear, that the complex was full of dread, living in terror. Everyone in the place was desperately afraid of something, he said. But again, we don't know what. So that was how things stood until just three days ago. Then - '

'Yes?'

'Then no more contact. And not just Soviet "static" either - literally no contact! Simmons's cross, and presumably Simmons himself, were - well, no longer there. No longer anywhere, in fact.'

'Dead?' Harry's face was grim.

But Clarke shook his head. 'No,' he said, 'and that's what I meant when I called it a parallel case. It's so like your wife and child. Chung himself can't explain it. He says he knows the cross still exists - that it hasn't been broken up or melted down or in any other way destroyed - and he believes that Simmons still has it. But he doesn't know where it is. It defies his talent to find it. And he's angry about it, and frustrated. In fact his feelings are probably a lot like yours: he's come up against something he doesn't understand and can't figure out, and he's blaming himself. He even started to lose faith in his scrying, but we've tested that and it's OK.'

Harry nodded and said, 'I can understand the way he must feel. That's exactly what it's like. He knows that the cross is still extant, and Simmons still alive, but he doesn't know where they are.'

'Right,' Clarke nodded. But he does know where the cross isn't. It isn't on this earth! Not according to David Chung, anyway.'

Lines of concentration etched themselves in Harry's brow. He turned his back on Clarke and stared out of a window. 'Of course,' he said, 'I can very quickly discover if Simmons is dead or not. Quite simply, I can check with the dead. If an Englishman called Michael "Jazz" Simmons has died recently in the upper Urals, they'll be able to tell me in ... why, in no time at all! It's not that I doubt your man Chung is good - not if you say he is - but I'd like to be sure.'

'So go ahead, ask them,' Clarke answered. But he couldn't suppress a shiver at the matter-of-fact way the Necroscope talked about it.

Harry turned to face his visitor and smiled a strange, wan smile. His brown eyes had turned dark and very bright, but even as Clarke looked at them their colour seemed to lighten. 'I just did ask them,' he said. They'll let me know as soon as they have the answer...'

That answer wasn't long in coming: maybe half an hour, during which time Harry sat deep in his own thoughts (and who else's thoughts? Clarke wondered) while the man from E-Branch paced the floor of the study to and fro. The sun's light began to fade, and an old clock ticked dustily in a corner. Then -

'He's not with the dead!' Harry breathed the words like a sigh.

Clarke said nothing. He held his breath and strained his ears to hear the dead speaking to Harry - and dreaded to hear them - but there was nothing. Nothing to hear or see or feel, but Clarke knew that Harry Keogh had indeed received his message from beyond the grave. Clarke waited.

Harry got up from behind his desk, came and stood close. 'Well,' he said, 'it looks like I'm recruited - again.'

'Again?' Clarke spoke to cover the feeling of relief he felt must be emanating from his every pore in tangible streams.

Harry nodded. 'Last time it was Sir Keenan Gormley who came to get me. And this time it's you. Maybe you should take warning from that.'

Clarke knew what he meant. Gormley had been eviscerated by Boris Dragosani, the Soviet necromancer. Dragosani had gutted him to steal his secrets. 'No,' Clarke shook his head, 'that doesn't really apply. Not to me. My talent's a coward called Serf-Preservation: first sign of anything nasty, and whether I want to or not my legs turn me about-face and run me the hell out of there! Anyway, I'll take my chances.'

'Will you?' The question meant something.

'What's on your mind?'

'I left stuff of mine at E-Branch,' Harry said. 'Clothes, shaving kit, various bits and pieces. Are they still there?'

Clarke nodded. 'Your room hasn't been touched except to clean it. We always hoped you'd come back.'

'Then I won't need to bring anything from here with me. I'm ready when you are.' He closed the door to the patio.

Clarke stood up. 'I've two rail tickets here, Edinburgh to London. I came from the station by taxi, so we'll need to call a - ' And he paused. Harry wasn't moving, and his smile was a little crooked, even devious. Clarke said: 'Er - is there something?'

'You said you'd take your chances,' Harry reminded him.

'Yes, but... what sort of chances are we talking about here?'

'It's been a long time,' Harry told him, 'since I went anywhere by car or boat or train, Darcy. That way wastes a lot of time. The shortest distance between two points is an equation - a Mobius equation!'

Clarke's eyes went wide and his gasp was quite audible. 'Now wait a minute, Harry, I - '

'You came here knowing that when you'd told me your story I wouldn't be able to refuse,' Harry cut him off. 'No risk to you or to E-Branch; your talent takes care of you and the Branch looks after its own, but plenty of trouble for Harry Keogh. Where I'm going - wherever I'm going - I'm sure there'll be times I wish I hadn't listened to you. So you see, I really am taking my chances, I'm trusting you, trusting to luck, and to my talents. So how about you? Where's your faith, Darcy?' 'You want to take me to London... your way?' 'Along the Mobius strip, yes. Through the Mobius Continuum.'

'That's perverse, Harry,' Clarke grimaced. He still wasn't convinced that the other meant it. The thought of the Mobius Continuum fascinated him, but it frightened him, too. 'It's like forcing a scared kid to take a ride on a figure-of-eight. Like bribing him to do it, with an offer he can't refuse.'

'It's worse than that,' Harry told him. 'The kid has vertigo.'

'But I don't have - '

' - But you will!' Harry promised.

Clarke blinked his eyes rapidly. 'Is it safe? I mean, I don't know anything about this thing you do.'

Harry shrugged. 'But if it isn't safe, your talent will intervene, won't it? You know, for a man who's protected as you are, you don't seem to have much faith in yourself.'

'That's my paradox,' Clarke admitted. 'It's true - I still switch off all the power before I'll even change a light-bulb! OK, you win. How do we go about it? And... are you sure you know the way there? To HQ, I mean?' Clarke was starting to panic. 'And how do you know you can still do it, anyway? See, I - '

'It's like riding a bike,' Harry grinned (a natural grin, Clarke was relieved to note). 'Or swimming. Once you can do it, you can always do it. The only difference is that it's almost impossible to teach. I had the best teacher in the world - Mobius himself - and it still took me, oh, a long time. So I won't even try to explain. Mobius doors are everywhere, but they need fixing for a second before they can be used. I know the equations that fix them. Then ... I could push you through one!'

Clarke backed away - but it was purely an instinctive reaction. It wasn't his talent working for him.

'Let's dance,' said Harry.

'What?' Clarke looked this way and that, as if he searched for an escape route.

'Here,' Harry told him, 'take my hand. That's right. Now put your arm round my waist. See, it's easy.'

They began to waltz, Clarke taking mincing steps in the small study, Harry letting him lead and conjuring flickering Mobius symbols on the screen of his mind. 'One, two-three - one, two-three - ' He conjured a door, said: 'Do you come here often?' It was the closest Harry had come to humour for a long time. Clarke thought it would be a good idea to respond in the same vein:

'Only in the mating -' he breathlessly began to answer.

And Harry waltzed the pair of them through the otherwise invisible Mobius door.

' - S-season!' Clarke husked. And: 'Oh, Jesus!'

Beyond the metaphysical Mobius door lay darkness: the Primal Darkness itself, which existed before the universe began. It was a place of absolute negativity, not even a parallel plane of existence, because nothing existed here. Not under normal conditions, anyway. If there was ever a place where darkness lay upon the face of the deep, this was it. It could well be the place from which God commanded Let There Be Light, causing the physical universe to split off from this metaphysical void. For indeed the Mobius Continuum was without form, and void.

To say that Clarke was 'staggered' would be to severely understate his emotion; indeed, the way he felt was almost a new emotion, designed to fit a new experience. Even Harry Keogh had not felt like this when he first entered the Mobius Continuum; for he had understood it instinctively, had imagined and conjured it, whereas Clarke had been thrust into it.

There was no air, but neither was there any time, so that Clarke didn't need to breathe. And because there was no time, there was likewise no space; there was an absence of both of these essential ingredients of any universe of matter, but Clarke did not rupture and fly apart, because there was simply nowhere to fly to.

He might have screamed, would have, except he held Harry Keogh's hand, which was his single anchor on Sanity and Being and Humanity. He couldn't see Harry for there was no light, but he could feel the pressure of his hand; and for the moment that was all he could feel in this awesome no-every-place.

And yet, perhaps because he had a weird psychic talent of his own, Clarke was not without an understanding of the place. He knew it was real because Harry made use of it, and also because he was here; and he knew that on this occasion at least he need not fear it, for his talent had not prevented him being here. And so, even in the confusion of his near-panic, he was able to explore his feelings about it, at least able to conjecture upon it.

Lacking space it was literally nowhere; but by the same token lacking time it was every-where and -when. It was both core and boundary, the interior and the exterior. From here one might go anywhere, if one knew the route - or go nowhere forever, which would be Clarke's fate if Harry Keogh deserted him. And to be lost here would mean lost forever; for in this timeless, spaceless non-environment nothing ever aged or changed except by force of will; and there was no will here, unless it were brought here by someone who strayed into this place, or someone who came here and knew how to manipulate it - someone like Harry Keogh. Harry was only a man, and yet the things he could achieve through the Mobius Continuum were amazing! And if a superman - or god -should come here?

Again Clarke thought of The God, who had wrought a Great Change out of a formless void and willed a universe. And the thought also occurred to Clarke: Harry, we shouldn't be here. This isn't our place... His unspoken words dinned like gongs in his brain, deafeningly loud! And apparently in Harry's, too.

Take it easy, said the Necroscope. No need to shout here.

Of course not, for in the total absence of everything else, even thoughts had extraordinary mass. We're not meant to be here, Clarke insisted. And Harry, I'm scared witless! For God's sake, don't let go of me!

Of course not, came the answer. And no need to feel afraid. Harry's mental voice was calm. But I can feel and 1 understand what it's like for you. Still, can't you also feel the magic of it? Doesn't it thrill you to your soul?

And as his panic began to subside, Clarke had to admit that it did. Slowly the tension went out of him and he began a gradual relaxation; in another moment he believed he could sense matterless forces working on him. 1 feel... a pull, like the wash of a tide, he said.

Not a pull, a push, Harry corrected him. The Mobius Continuum doesn't want us. We're like motes in its immaterial eyes. It would expel us if it could, but we won't be here that long. If we stayed still for long enough, it would try to eject us - or maybe ingest us! There are a million million doors it could push us through; any one of them could be fatal to us, I fear, in one way or another. Or we could simply be subsumed, made to conform - which in this place means eradicated! I discovered long ago that you either master the Mobius Continuum, or it masters you! But of course that would mean us standing still for an awfully long time -forever, by mundane terms.

Harry's statement didn't improve Clarke's anxiety. How long are we staying here! he wanted to know. Hell, how long have we been here?

A minute or a mile, Harry answered, to both of your questions! A light-year or a second. Listen, I'm sorry, we won't be here long. But to me, when I'm here, questions like that don't have much meaning. This is a different continuum; the old constants don't apply. This place is the DNA of space and time, the building-blocks of physical reality. But... it's difficult stuff, Darcy. I've had lots of 'time' to think about it, and even I don't have all the answers. All of them? Hah! I have only a handful! But the things I can do here, I do them well. And now I want to show you something.

Wait! said Clarke. It's just dawned on me: what we're doing here is telepathy. So this is how it feels for the telepaths back at HQ!

Not exactly, Harry answered. Even the best of them aren't as good as this. In the Mobius Continuum, he explained, thoughts have matter, weight. That's because they are in fact physical things in an immaterial place. Consider a tiny meteorite in space - which can punch a hole through the skin of a space-probe! There's something of a similarity. Issue a thought here and it goes on forever, just as light and matter go on forever in our universe. A star is born, and we see it blink into life billions of years later, because that's how long it took its light to reach us.

That's what thought is like here: long after we're gone, our thoughts will still exist here. But you're right to a degree -about telepathy, I mean. Perhaps telepaths have a way of tapping in - a mental system which they themselves don't understand - to the Mobius Continuum! And Harry chuckled. There's 'a thought' for you! But if that's the case, how about seers, eh? What about your prognosticators? Clarke didn't immediately grasp his meaning. I'm sorry

Well, if the telepaths are using the Mobius Continuum, however unconsciously, what of the forecasters? Are they also 'tapping in', to scry into the future?

Clarke was apprehensive again. Of course, he said, I'd forgotten that. You can see into the future, can't you?

Something of it, Harry answered. In fact I can go there! In my incorporeal days I could even manifest myself in past and future time, but now that I have a body again that's beyond me - so far, anyway. But I can still follow past and future time-streams, so long as I stick to the Mobius Continuum. And I can see you've guessed it: yes, that's what I want to show you - the future, and the past.

Harry, I don't know if I'm ready for this. I -

We're not actually going there, Harry calmed him. We'll just take a peek, that's all. And before Clarke could protest, he opened a door on future time.

Clarke stood with Harry on the threshold of the future-time door and his mind was almost paralysed by the wonder and awe of it. All was a chaos of millions - no, billions - of lines of pure blue light etched against an otherwise impenetrable background eternity of black velvet. It was like some incredible meteor shower, where all of the meteors raced away from him into unimaginable deeps of space, except their trails didn't dim but remained brilliantly printed on the sky - printed, in fact, on time! And the most awesome thing was this: that one of these twining, twisting streamers of blue light issued outwards from himself, extending or extruding from him and plummeting away into the future. Beside Clarke, Harry produced another blue thread. It ribboned out of him and shot away on its own neon course into tomorrow.

What are they? Clarke's question was a whisper in the metaphysical Mobius ether.

Harry was also moved by the sight. The life-threads of humanity, he answered. That's all of Mankind - of which these two here, yours and mine, make up the smallest possible fraction. This one of mine used to be Alec Kyle's, but at the end it had grown very dim, almost to the point of expiring. Right now, though -

It's one of the brightest! And suddenly Clarke found himself completely unafraid. Even when Harry said:

Only pass through this door, and you'd follow your life-thread to its conclusion. I can do it and return - indeed I have done it - but not to the very end. That's something I don't want to know about. I'd like to think there isn't an end, that Man goes on forever. He closed the door, opened another. And this time he didn't have to say anything.

It was the door to the past, to the very beginning of human life on Earth. The myriad blue life-threads were there as before; but this time, instead of expanding into the distance, they contracted and narrowed down, targeting on a far-away dazzling blue origin.

Before Harry could close that door, too, Clarke let the scene sear itself into his memory. If from this time forward he got nothing else out of life, this adventure in the Mobius Continuum was something he wanted to remember to his dying day.

But finally the door on the past was closed, there was sudden, swift motion, and -

We're home! said Harry...

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