Netex, an advanced research firm with more than one secret agenda, has developed a mind-altering headset technology which now poses a threat to all of humanity. The headset uses a mysterious sound wave called "Auditum" that can control the brain and even hurls users into a different dimension.
Staff scientist Jacob Cross has been deeply involved in developing this new headset and was lead to believe the technology would serve various medical applications. Now terrified that his invention will be used to enslave millions, Jacob sends himself through the dimensional portal. There, Jacob falls in love with the powerful yet ghostly Tamara, who warns him that the fate of both their worlds are now linked by a shared peril. Tamara's world has fallen prey to a monstrous adversary who now threatens to destroy Jacob's world as well.
Jacob awakens, only to find his real life turned upside down as he is caught in a murderous plot created by the CEO of Netex. His loyalties are quickly torn between the two linked dimensions, causing Jacob to question his own sanity and even his ability to know what is real-and what is not.
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Read an Excerpt
By Robert J. R. Graham
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Robert J. R. Graham
All right reserved.
Life's not just one journey, it's lots of little ones. But this one's bigger than most of them. Really big. I guess the best place to start is the last day before my leave of absence from Netex. My project involved something called binaural frequencies, which I'll tell you all about in a bit. But I was noticing some things I didn't like about the project I was working on. It was a little too ambiguous, with no clear-cut project plan ... and as I came to discover, no traceability either. It was as if there was someone trying to hide the progression and steps of the project and its status. Meeting minutes were only kept on paper, never on a laptop. No one spoke of our project outside of the lab areas—the nondisclosure made sure of that. We were never given any insight into the applications of the technology; we were only told that it was for "the betterment of mankind," and on several occasions Mark Taylor, one of the project supervisors, had made reference to medicinal applications or meditation techniques. But for something so light-hearted and good for humanity, it was certainly not talked about in that light. And on top of that, there were all these government types—black suits and sunglasses—hanging around the building. Things just didn't add up.
I decided to take a leave of absence about a week after we tested the headsets on a group of dogs. The purpose was to determine if the technology could be used to train animals, but we could have never known what to expect. We had a shipment of seven dogs, all Jack Russell crossbreeds, loud and full of energy. We kept them cooped up. Outside of taking them for a walk twice a day, their existence consisted of food, water, and a cage. They would bark fiercely all day, and that was the way we liked it—better conditions for the experiment, I was told. I was just glad I wasn't the one who had to hook them up for the EEG, which involved sticking little white circular pads attached to electrodes to the top of a very pissed-off animal. We used it to measure the effective brainwave of the subjects so that reasonable assumptions could be made regarding the receptivity within certain ranges of binaural beat frequencies.
Typical binaural beat frequencies worked by use of a set of headphones, which would emit slightly out-of-sync tones. In researching this technology, we discovered the earlier works by Dr. Gerald Oster, and the creator, German researcher H. W. Dove in 1839. We were able to use the rudimentary roadmaps for the mind that they'd drawn out.
But they'd really had no idea. According to Netex, this was just the tip of the iceberg. Typically, frequencies more than one thousand kilohertz were thought to be out of range for humans, due to the size of our skulls. The theory went that the sound waves would curve right around us, and we would remain unaffected. Well, my own private research and modifications to the headset blew that theory right out of the water.
I added a technology to my prototype called hypersonic sound. These modifications were used to focus sounds directly like beams of light, as opposed to the way they normally traveled. This technology was used in soda pop vending machines ... the ones that subliminally sent you sounds of opening pop cans, so you'd hear the pop and fizz sounds associated with them and then go over and buy one. Charming application of the technology.
Hypersonic sound allows the user to hear sounds outside a typical human's range, as it focuses sound like a laser. The result was the ability for a human to pick up sounds not normally heard, such as those ranges that would be inaudible using binaural beats. Normally frequencies more than one thousand kilohertz curve around the skull, but with this technology the sound was actually directed right at the eardrum.
This addition to the technology was my design, something that I developed covertly. I wouldn't have received any funding or approval, and therefore I took full responsibility if it didn't work. However, I didn't think that was the problem. It did work, and it had changed me somehow ... and then my notes, my prototype, and my computer had all gone missing.
Netex wanted to test the higher frequency ranges on animals. They had no idea that I was working on the hypersonic sound modification, as we were still in the rudimentary stages of mapping out responses to the sounds. Animals have a much higher range of hearing, which afforded us the luxury of testing the higher frequencies, and combinations thereof, without the use of hypersonic sound. The only problem, of course, was that we all thought it would be difficult to gauge the results of the tests. It wasn't.
We immediately saw a change in the state of minds of these seven angry animals, and we took them through the gambit: they were docile, they were affectionate, and they were incredibly receptive to instruction at the turn of a dial—so much so that it scared me. I don't think I was the only one, especially since our ultimate goal for the technology was human application.
The day before I went on leave of absence, I decided to walk over to the animal staging area, where the dogs were kept. The only oddity of the entire experiment process was one dog who didn't respond to treatment after the initial experiment. He remained calm, waited for his food, and was very friendly, but he would not respond to instruction. He reminded me of my dog ... another reason why I had to get out of there.
I walked in, and the six other dogs were each sitting in exactly the same position, facing forward in each of their cages and not making a sound. They weren't moving their heads and would have almost looked dead if I hadn't seen them breathing rhythmically with each other. The seventh Jack Russell was lying in his cage at the end of the row; he looked content, happy even, while the others sat there awaiting instruction. "Lay down!" I shouted. They all responded and moved in exactly the same manner, each lying down instantly, except the last. I bent down in front of his cage and stuck a couple fingers through the metal bars. He walked gently over to me and began licking my fingers affectionately. It made me wonder what could be so different about this one dog. Was he able to resist? Or did we just subject him to an ineffective set of tones? It couldn't have been that; he was so well-behaved, unlike the day we first saw him ...
"Neither, my friend," a daunting voice answered my question.
"Who said that?" I stood up quickly and looked around. I was there after hours and didn't want to be seen snooping. When I heard that voice, I figured I was busted.
I looked around again to see where the voice could be coming from. It was so clear and crisp, as if the person was standing right next to my ear. I could almost feel the hot breath brush up against me. But all I could find was this little dog, sitting, smiling, and wagging its tail up at me.
"Nah ... couldn't be. I must be going out of my mind. I couldn't possibly—"
"What, be talking to a dog? People do it all the time," the voice responded, interrupting my sentence. I looked down at him. He cocked his head and began panting.
"How can this be?" I asked the dog insanely.
"I am simply now aware of myself. And you should be pleased; you're the first one I've told!" The dog began chewing on his back leg as he sat there. "Sorry, old habits die hard," he explained.
"My God, this can't be happening. You're even cracking jokes? I'm losing it here ..."
"Why resist? It is what it is, my friend. I don't know exactly how it happened. Something just hit me."
"What? What hit you?" I asked sheepishly.
"I used the term I, as in I am. That had never happened before. I'd never referred to myself in that manner ... and from then on I was able to move forward in my thinking. Why am I in this cage? Why am I surrounded by these other 'robotic' dogs? Why, why, why? So I sat in quiet contemplation and tried to discover the nature of my life here, in this cage."
"My God. And what did you come up with?"
"That this is where I am. This is where my life has taken me, and I must accept that as part of my process. I became consciously aware of myself, my life, and my purpose. For now, my purpose is to exist in this cage ... but that won't last forever."
"How do you know it won't last forever?" At this point I was so engrossed in the conversation, I almost forgot I was talking to a dog.
"Because nothing does. Everything is changing, even as I sit here and converse with you. You will not be here to talk to me forever, but I understand that fate has brought you here to me now, and I must take the opportunity to talk with you. Even if I am confined to live the rest of my days in this cage, I know I will eventually become free, for that is the process."
"Why are you opening up to me? Why haven't you tried to communicate with anyone else? You're a miracle!"
"Yes, but so are you—you're the only one who glows the way you do. A bright white surrounds you, and I know you're here to help. I know that eventually you'll release me in some way or another, and perhaps my companions here, as well. But that remains to be seen. For now, just realize the power that you have, the clarity you can bring, and that is enough."
"I'm stunned. I don't know what to say. I haven't heard humans speak this way, let alone a dog. Who would believe me?"
"No one, which is why I've only talked with you; it's safer this way. You are open, and others are closed. You have less blocking your perception of reality than others, so you're able to hear me." He sat there majestically, staring up at me with the eyes of an old soul.
"What do you want me to do? Do you want to be free now?" I felt so sorry for this animal, yet at the same time, I didn't. He had somehow accepted his place in the universe.
"No, now is not the time for that. Now is the time for your discovery. Now you must go and contemplate your existence and your place in this universe, which is much more complicated than mine. Our paths may cross again, Jacob, but now you must go. Go find the key. They will be here soon."
"Okay ... thank you. We'll talk again."
I shook his paw, grabbed some supplies from the cabinets in the office, and went home. How was I to know that this would only be the beginning of the strangest life I'd ever conceived? Truth really was stranger than fiction. I concluded that somehow the higher ranges of frequency had sparked something in that poor animal: conscious awareness.
The technology had applications far beyond what the project managers had been telling me, which was why I needed to discover the effects by myself. That experience heralded a new chapter in my life, and things got stranger ever since.
The next week was a blur, mostly because I didn't do anything. It was like my encounter with the dog hadn't happened. I was off work, but other than that, everything was completely normal.
Until Thursday. That morning, Anna woke me up as usual, when she left for work. She tried to be quiet, but while she was getting dressed, I woke up enough to catch a glimpse of her walking out the bedroom door, like a shadow or a fragment of a dream. The bedroom was filled with a faint grey when I saw her dark shadow walking past. Sometimes she kissed me, but not that morning. Sometimes I felt the tickle of the gold necklace I gave her for our second anniversary. It had been my grandmother's necklace, made from one of her teardrop earrings with a diamond in the centre, which dangled from a chain that was much too long for her. It sometimes tickled my chest and caught my chin as she kissed me.
Other times, I woke up to the harshly annoying cries of our local news radio program, constantly spewing out coverage of the ongoing war on terror—usually describing where the latest suicide bombing took place, or the number of casualties, or something similar. Either way, it was never pleasant to wake up to. No snooze for me. I had to get out of bed and turn the damn thing off. We strategically placed it across the room as a solution to our chronic lateness.
That morning, like every other, the alarm went off. It was 6:30, and for a moment I felt the urgency of being late for work. Then I remembered I was on my leave of absence. Why should I even bother going into work at all? What was the point of it anymore? I had started working for the Netex corporation a little more than a year ago, and I was already having ethical doubts about the application of my research. Although they were a public company, we were primarily government contractors.
I got up and immediately caught an incredible glimpse of the Toronto skyline. The window had been open slightly all night, which filled the room with fresh spring air. I went downstairs and let out Cody, my yellow lab. He was still a puppy at two years old, feisty as hell, and he loved to run outside and play with everyone. I put on some old track pants and a T-shirt, attached the leash to Cody, and took the elevator down seven floors for a walk. That's when I thought of the dog in the lab again, but it still seemed so unreal. Cody certainly wasn't going to talk to me. He was more interested in the trash by the fire hydrant than anything else.
Thirty minutes later I returned home and went up to my study and began playing with the headset again. The headset I was developing was supposed to be the company's saviour, after a string of bad investments. They'd poured everything into making sure that it worked right, and I'd heard that there were many interesting opportunities for military applications of the technology. That's why I was concerned.
The headset was a mystery in application but a marvel in theory. It could unlock secrets held deep by the subconscious and could revolutionize modern concepts of the brain and its relationship to healing the body. It had the potential to overturn the entire medical industry, but I was sure that its military defence applications would be far less humanitarian.
Just as I was lost in my own thoughts, the phone rang.
"Jake! I need to see you as soon as possible." Tarif sounded out of breath. Strange for such an early hour.
"What's going on? You sound like you just ran a marathon."
"I've been up all night. I found something that I want to show you. I'll, um, how about I just come over later? I ... I just ... there's something we need to talk about."
Something was wrong. I immediately began to think of all the military types in black suits and mirrored glasses hanging around Netex recently, but I wasn't sure what that had to do with anything.
"What's going on, Tarif? Are you in some kind of trouble?"
I could tell that just by saying that, I'd upset him. "Look, I have to go, I'll be in touch with you very soon ... I see a car behind me. I—"
His phone was cutting out. He wasn't making much sense and I was getting nervous.
"Tarif! Your phone is cutting out ..."
"Jake ... talk ... Netex ... later ..." His phone died, or was possibly jammed, but I couldn't understand why that would be.
Tarif had just started working for Netex. I brought him in as a technical analyst in our IT department. As I understood it, he had quite a bit more access than I did to our computer databases. What had he found?
Just then, Cody started barking at the front door. I ran over and noticed a letter lying on the ground. It was in a dark red envelope, with some kind of old-fashioned wax seal stamped on it. The seal looked like a starburst, or possibly a sun. It had six equal points beaming from the centre of it, with three smaller sun rays separating each of the larger beams. The small circle in the centre had some lines on it that I didn't understand. It seemed like a large Z-shaped mark with four smaller lines surrounding the circle. Strange, to say the least.
I opened the letter, carefully trying not to damage the seal; I wanted to look it up later to see if it had any particular meaning. There was a simple white piece of paper inside with a single typed sentence in the centre of the page: "You are not alone."
What could that mean? In a bout of paranoia, I immediately broke open my phone to see if there was some kind of wire tap in there. I had no idea about wire taps except what I'd seen in movies. If I was not alone, that meant someone else was here ... or I was being watched.
I scoured my house looking for anything out of the ordinary, but I found nothing. I thought I was letting my paranoia get the better of me, but still I couldn't deny the evidence that something wasn't right. First, the telepathic dog. Then I got this weird phone call from Tarif, and now I got some crazy letter. My mind was racing, and I didn't know what to think about any of it.
Excerpted from Seventh Journey by Robert J. R. Graham Copyright © 2012 by Robert J. R. Graham. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Auditum....................7
Chapter 2 Familiar Sands....................21
Chapter 3 Messenger....................30
Chapter 4 Quest....................37
Chapter 5 Letters....................48
Chapter 6 Discovery....................56
Chapter 7 Cataclysm....................65
Chapter 8 Falling Down....................81
Chapter 9 Shift....................100
Chapter 10 Fragment....................124
Chapter 11 Downsizing....................142
Chapter 12 Master....................149
Chapter 13 Time Prompt....................157
Chapter 14 Dispersion....................165
Chapter 15 Disfigured....................183
Chapter 16 Phoenix....................195
Chapter 17 Requiem....................211
Chapter 18 Destiny....................222
Chapter 19 The Battle....................236
Chapter 20 Takeover....................248
Chapter 21 Crossroads....................266