ThresholdPatricia J. Anderson
Publisher: Common Deer Press
Date of Publication: March 27, 2018
ISBN Digital: 978-1-988761-17-6
ISBN Print: 978-1-988761-16-9
Number of pages: 240
Word Count: 66,000
Cover Artist: Carl Weins
Tagline: Fantastic Mr. Fox meets The Tao of Physics
The population of Ooolandia (a world much like our own but with an extra "O") is hypnotized by the culture of MORE. Citizens of all kinds and colors go about their lives unaware that hidden in the fog of everydayness a great calamity is approaching.
Banshooo, an amazingly mindful monkey, works for the Ooolandian Department of Nature with his colleague a mathlete mouse. Together they have amassed data proving, beyond any doubt, that the natural world is losing the stability necessary to sustain life. Unfortunately, their warnings are ignored by the authorities who are planning to phase out nature altogether.
Freaky winds, icy earthquakes, and mutant anemones plague the landscape. After a wildly devastating storm, Banshooo has a vision revealing the connection between Ooolandia and the Unseen World -- a connection that lies deep within and far beyond all that is seen. This connection is vital to Ooolandia's survival, and it is fraying. He realizes he must take radical action. Along with his quirky sidekick (a one-off of unique appearance whose primary interest is snacking), he sets out on a journey beyond the surface of the Seen to bring back proof of the true nature of nature.
âOh you know, same olâ, same olâ, still working on that whole transmutation thing. Canât quite get it down. Canât quite get it â¦ still trying â¦ still might â¦ still â¦â His voice trails off as he furrows his brow, apparently lost in the intricacies of some possibility known only to him.
Ambrose tries again. âMorie, Iâd like you to meet Banshooo. He has an interesting story to tell.â
The alchemist comes back to the moment, squinting anew at Banshooo. âAh yes, yes, very nice. Very nice.â He removes a pile of books from a thread-bare couch, looking about near-sightedly. âI think maybe Iâve got some sherry around here someplace.â
âThatâs not necessary, really.â Ambrose smiles, eyeing a shelf of cob-webby wine glasses sitting next to a bottle marked sulfuric acid. âWe just want to talk.â
âTalk? With me? How nice. Yes, very nice, very nice.â
Ambrose nudges Banshooo. âGo ahead. Morienus knows about these things.â
Banshooo looks at this old man whose long white beard appears to have been used for a napkin. He knows alchemy was once a respected field of study but not anymore, something to do with a failure to turn things into gold. This wrinkled dusty old guy appears to be the last of his kind.
Banshooo hesitates but Ambrose nods encouragingly. âGo on, talk to him.â And so the monkey tells the alchemist about the sound that washed over him in the meadow. Morie listens intently, his palms together, his fingers against his chin. Now he nods, thoughtfully, then says,
âAh yes. That could be. A sound wave is a physical force. Vibratory resonance can open up a state of awareness beyond the usual everyday state.â
Banshooo nods. âYes, thatâs what happened. After the sound came, I was able to see something else, something I couldnât see just walking around normally.â
âAnd what was that?â
âWell, the first time I saw â¦ dying. So much dying.â He lowers his head. âExtinction everywhere.â
âAnd the second time?â
âThe second time I saw â¦â He pauses.
The alchemist raises his bushy eyebrows. âYou saw what?â
Banshooo looks at Ambrose who nods reassuringly. He continues. âI remembered what happened when my mother died.â
âHmmm.â Morie speaks slowly, almost to himself. âThis could be a case of resonance, of limbic resonance activating a matched filter.â
Banshooo frowns. âWhat does that mean?â
Morie leans back. âExperience creates a vibration that stays within you. That vibration is a kind of tone, reverberating to certain pitches, certain events and beings. It acts almost like an antenna, picking up one kind of transmission but deaf to others. In effect, everyone is an antenna, vibrating with their own individual experiences.â He puts his gnarled, veined hands on the arms of the chair and lifts himself up, walking slowly around the room.
âAt the same time, sound waves are constantly moving through space, looking for something that will receive them. When they find a match,â he stops and brings his hands together, âwe resonate.â He gives a little half-smile. âIn effect, beings are like old-fashioned radio receivers, calibrated to pick up one signal and filter out the others, looking for the frequency that will resonate, that will match.â He looks at Banshooo. âA sound can remind you of something you know, even if you donât know you know it, enlivening something hidden within you, for good or for ill.â
Banshoooâs eyes are wide. âIt felt like that, like something reverberating in me. Like something alive.â
âSo what happened in this re-â he pauses, âmembering?â
Banshooo looks up at Morie, ready to tell this old man what he saw.
âMy mother was dead. She was cold. I was cold too. Really cold. Then a shadow came, a shadow shaped like her. And it touched her. Then it touched me. And I wasnât cold anymore. I was all right.â
The alchemist is squinting at Banshooo, his expression no longer one of patient instructor. âAre you making this up? That wouldnât be nice you know, to fool with me.â
âNo. No. Iâm not making anything up.â He looks at Ambrose who speaks firmly.
âHeâs not, Morie, I saw it too. A shadow bent down and touched them both. It was like the deep heart of â¦ something. Iâve never seen anything like it before.â
Morienus sits back down in his chair with a stunned expression on his face. After several silent moments he speaks quietly. âYou saw a parayama, the highest essence of a species. The one who comes for the dead.â His eyes narrow. âYouâre not supposed to see that unless â¦.â
âUnless youâre deadâ
âHeâs not dead,â Ambrose says.
âI noticed that. Itâs very puzzling.â The alchemist continues. âThe essence of the species appears only to that being who has died. You canât see the parayama that comes for another, you can only see the parayama that comes for you.â
âBut I did. I saw it. I was alone and it protected me. And then there was a soft kind of purring that turned into the most incredible music Iâve ever heard. No. Not music, almost music, like music, but different â¦ it was like they were showing me things, unseen things. And I was safe. I was secure and safe.â
Ambrose and Morienus look at each other. The owl makes a little shrugging motion, âYouâve got to admit, itâs a miracle he survived. Once his mother died, he might as well have had a sign pointed at his head saying âFree Lunch.ââ
Morie nods. âYes, thatâs true. Thatâs very true.â
Ambrose speaks slowly as he considers this improbable possibility. âIt must have been your motherâs parayama. And it stayed to care for you. Thatâs a very rare experience, Banshooo. That doesnât usually happen.â
âNever, actually.â Morie is staring at Banshooo. âIt never happens.â He shakes his head slowly and says it again. âNever.â
There is a long pause as the ramifications of this statement float through the dingy laboratory.
About the Author:
Patricia J Andersonâs essays and short stories have appeared in numerous periodicals including The Sun, Tricycle, Chronogram, Ars Medica, Glamour Magazine and Rewire Me.com. Her books include All of Us, a critically acclaimed investigation of cultural attitudes and beliefs, and Affairs In Order, named best reference book of the year by Library Journal. She is the recipient of The Communicator Award for online excellence and has produced exhibition, kiosk and website copy for such institutions as the American Museum of Natural History and the Capital Museum. She is the editor of Craig Barberâs Vietnam journal, Ghosts in the Landscape. She lives with her family in New Yorkâs Hudson Valley.