some excerpts from Greenways
Green Island Home
The crowd, so raucous and angry just a few short seconds previously, had grown very nearly silent as the voice of Ms Groland rang out in front of the court house, and I was catching my breath and listening to her when my tumbling thoughts were interrupted by a tugging on my sleeve.
"Sorry to interrupt you, Sir," Marsden, the GRIPP bodyguard who had been my shadow since the events of that morning began to unfold, was saying, as I dragged my attention away from the 10-meter screen affixed to the outer wall of the Island Broadcasting office that dominated the attention of most everyone, "but this lady seems to have something important to say."
I looked beside Marsden, and saw a face I vaguely recognized.
"Stephen - sorry, sorry, Mr. Bigelow, Sir," she spoke, a bit breathlessly, "I'm BethLee Fraser, we've met before in the Courthouse, but you probably don't remember me. But there's - ah - a new judge, or - or - or something - it seems, who has just come in, or arrived or something, a few minutes ago, and he's - ah - she - ah - they're starting a new hearing or something upstairs in Number 1. He - ah - she - ah - seems to be quite - um - authoritative - he - ah - I don't know who she is, but the word is out somehow that everyone involved yesterday should get back to the courthouse pronto - um - and everyone is coming, even some of the Americans and the Canadian Supremes and they, um, seem to be not really wanting to come to judge by their words but it's like their feet are moving themselves or something - and some other - ah - look, Mr. Bigelow, I can't really say much more, or you'll think I've lost my marbles. But could you please, please just come into the courthouse just for a minute for a look? Now?!? I'm really, really sorry to bother you with all that's going on here this morning, but it really is quite important, I think ...."
I looked back towards the courthouse, puzzled by Bethlee's words. I could see, as she directed my attention to it, that there seemed to be a great deal of activity in the second-floor foyer in front of the main courtroom, which was partly visible through the wide, building-long second floor windows, and as I looked down to the ground floor and the large front doors, I could see Fred Pierce, one of the older courthouse guards whom I had known for several years, a decent sort, waving at me with a serious look on his face. From what little I recalled of them, I knew both Bethlee and Fred to be reliable types, not given to baseless panic or undue excitement after many years of working around the courthouse, where the unusual was somewhat the norm and keeping lids on potential problems rather than throwing the hands in the air and the brain to the wind at the drop of a hat or loud voice was a topline JD item.
With a small frown and final glance to the big screen and the momentous speech of Ms Groland unfolding, I turned back and nodded to Marsden and Bethlee, and followed them through the throng.
A minute later we passed through the front door of the Green Island Law Courts building, a remnant of earlier days being phased out as we found more civilized ways of doing things but still serving as a bridge of sorts between the old and new ways, to be greeted by Pierce.
"Upstairs in Court Room Number 1, Mr. Bigelow," he said, eyes wide, reaching out as if to grab my arm but stopping at the last second, and simply leading the way towards the stairs, gesturing as he spoke, "They're waiting for you, I think! Or at least I don't think they've started yet! I had a look inside just a couple of minutes ago before running back down to look for you, and - well, it's a day like no other I've ever seen here, I tell you, Sir!"
I pushed my way upstairs through the crowd, with Marsden and a couple of other GRIPPs close around, the memory of what had recently happened to Brittany no doubt still as fresh in their minds as in mine, and then through the crowd of people milling about in the foyer, some talking in small groups, some looking up at the television screens that had been placed on stands in a couple of places to allow for closed-circuit feeds from the courtrooms if more people wished to see a proceeding than the rather smallish rooms allowed; I could see a lot of puzzled and confused expressions, but before I had a chance to start asking some questions, another of the courthouse guards spotted us and hurried over.
"Mornin', Mr. Bigelow, Sir," he said, "the place is packed this morning, Sir, and that's a fact - but I think they've saved a couple of seats for you, at least that's the word I've been given, somehow, nobody actually told me but I know, like, somehow .... - we've been keeping most of these people out, the courtroom is about packed as it is, but - well - well, maybe it's just easier if you come and see for yourself." He had a puzzled look on his face, but said no more, as he turned and led us through the crowd to the entrance to Courtroom 1, and pulled open one of the large double doors.
The place was packed - and although every courtroom gets occasional large crowds of spectators and famous (or infamous) people as the star attraction, today as I slowly made my way down through the still-getting-seated crowd of spectators, I saw around the front tables a gang I would never have dreamed of in my wildest flights of fancy.
I could see the area had been reorganized a bit, with a couple of large tables added to accommodate a much larger than normal group of people in the area normally reserved for defendants, in legal cases, or respondents in civil. At the first large table I could see a man who appeared to be George 'Pinokioynkoynk' Shurbullie, President of the United States, looking a bit shell-shocked (although not a particularly new expression for him), surrounded by a number of substantial-looking suits, grey and blue and obviously from expensive tailors, who appeared to be lawyers. At a second table I recognized, again with much surprise, in the middle of a smaller group of suits, Conwell Smokupyerbum, the Canadian PM, and the three Justices of the Supreme Court of Canada who had presided over the same room yesterday, looking considerably less arrogant today, dressed in normal suits (or dress on the not so august slightly cellulitic body of the female) - lesser in every way, indeed than when perched behind a great impressive desk several feet above the peons with their billowing black and purple robes and good lighting and makeup and several servile attendants ready to kill for them if anyone dared show disrespect and the rest of the paraphernalia, and the arrogant attitude that goes along with that sort of thing. Most of the 'guests' were speaking furiously, roaring in whispers as they tried to speak above the others but without having their words heard by the crowd watching behind them, with one or another or several of the suits around the tables, looking up every now and then at a yellowish shimmering light that I saw that seemed to surround them - as I watched a couple of them reached out to touch it, carefully, evidently having tried something similar before and got the same response, drawing back their hands quickly with furious frowns as if the shimmering was hot or electrified or something - unwilling guests, it seemed, they all were at the proceedings; I learned later they had been escorted from their various locations earlier by the same shimmering light, the 'unwilling guests' I suppose that Bethlee had referred to. But my attention, remarkably enough, was only held a minute by this unprecedented spectacle, for at the front of the courtroom, above and behind the bench reserved for the regular judge or judges, was an even more eye-stopping scene. Truly amazing, awesome in the true sense of the word, not just modern demonstration-of-power that any tinpot dictator can buy with the help of suitable 'aid' money or Hollywood FX amazing - this was the Real Thing.
As one of the bailiffs touched my arm to get me moving again and led me through the gate that separated the spectator area from the action area of the courtroom, towards an empty seat behind a table at the left side of the front of the room, I was barely aware of taking my seat, being, for perhaps the first time in my life, truly gobsmacked, a word I have never used before, but it seemed perfectly suitable here - a brief flash of Elizabeth ran through my mind watching the birth of a baby goat at Greenways, her first such experience, and watching it find its feet and give its first bleat, "Gobsmacked, Daddy!" - she whispered as she turned to me, eyes wide and bright and shining so beautifully at the wonder of it, and now I finally understood what she meant - the wonder at seeing something entirely new and wonderful for the very first time.
Where the High Bench normally sat above the mortals who appeared in this room to be dealt the justice of the rulers was now a large circular hole of some sort, a construct somehow extending through both ceiling above and floor below of the courtroom, without causing any evident structural renderings. As I stopped and observed in my own wonder for a moment the great but simple design became clear through the portal, black and white engaged yin-yang spirals of the ancient eastern Tao design, the black being apparently emptiness or nothingness within the whitish parts which were composed of some countless number of tiny points of very bright light. I had no sooner noticed this than the wheel began slowly spinning (it seemed to be spinning in many more than just two dimensions, an effect almost impossible to describe, imagine a kaleidescope of round spinning tops or something, with all the colors of the rainbow dancing and splashing and whirling within), and within seconds had begun spinning so fast the details were lost, until it rapidly became the visual equivalent of a large round mass of white noise. The central portion then began to assume the appearance of something less random and opened into a largish oval window with rounded corners. It seemed as if the very fabric of spacetime had been rent, and we were looking into the star-speckled blackness of the universe itself. The air around the whole yin-yang construction seemed to shimmer a bit, with a somewhat bluish tinge to it. A high-pitched, faint sound emanated from it - something like a high-voltage electric current combined with a chorus of angels whose faint voices were coming from over a distant hill and once we crossed the crest of the hill we would receive the full glory of their song might sound like - but whatever it was, the power of the thing was vibrating through everything, like standing on the edge of a controlled Krakatoa an instant before eruption or being strapped atop a Saturn V as the ignition sequence initiated. I suspect, at the moment, I wasn't thinking entirely clearly, and my memories may be a bit suspect - the brain, when faced with things it cannot accept, often does little step-dances around them one way or another to twist them into something understandable. I suspect at that time I was into such a minuet, although not aware of it at the time.
Even as I reached my seat and lowered myself into it the Tao void became non-void. My first impression was like I was standing in a blowing Island snow storm in a dark night out near my old cottage in Harry's Corner, with a bit of light and a lot of wind from behind, the flakes blowing by my face creating a reverse funnel effect, like I was falling down some long tunnel in the universe, kept only on the ground by a tenuous sort of gravity but almost ready to leap into the air like a kite about to fly. Then the flakes started becoming larger, and at some point I realized they were 3-dimensional and not 2, and then sort of round rather than armed, pointed, decorated snowflakes, and then with features, and then I could see small heads with faces blowing by, all kinds of faces, big and small, hairy and bald, old and young, male and female, happy and sad and oblivious and furious, smiling blissfully and screaming with rage, every now and then one blowing into the calm backdraft created by the viewpoint and stopping for a revolving second when I could see the many varying forms - many alien types, but all essentially humanoid, some combination on most of eyes and mouth and nose and ears and hair of some sort decorating a roundish head of some kind. I barely started recognizing this when the field of view rapidly started expanding, and the faces started becoming less defined individually but began blowing into a larger form, with the faces coalescing into darker and lighter spaces, and a pattern began to appear. A huge eye-shape was the first recognizable thing in this new pattern, a swirling sclera surrounding an iris with its light-speckled pupil, then slowly/quickly the retreating perspective continued until a mouth, eyebrows, nose, ears, long hair began to be seen as part of some huge, impossibly vast face, and even vaster body also forming below the face. The initial viewpoint was from front and side, it was dressed, apparently, in some long, simple loose robe, long flowing hair, long spread fingers at the end of extended arms, which were semi-extended and flexing and waving around a bit as if the figure was finding its balance, or perhaps testing its newly created body.
The most noticeable thing, from its first appearance until the very end so very much later yet so soon, was its ephemerality - the colors were constantly changing, the outlines subtly shifting and reforming, like a seashore with waves or a figure behind a waterfall in floodlights at night. The great figure was androgynous and ageless, sometimes appearing female, sometimes male, sometimes younger and sometimes older, sometimes everything all mixed in together.
(continued in the book ....)