Week 06, 2019
Kathy knew it when it happened. She did not require notice.
She felt a disturbance, it was subtle, but it was Jim, and he was dead.
Kathy knew now that she would never see him again, she was certain of it. Her own emotions twisted up in turbulent waves.
She was shaken, and she felt in her gut that he had planned this.
Jim was orchestrating these events, even her responses, he was engaged in a level of manipulation that she had never thought was possible with him, it caused her to look into her heart and question everything she thought she knew.
Kathy had believed that she was impervious to the manipulations of others, because there was not a person she had ever met that she was unable to read, except Jim.
Now she felt that their entire relationship was a lie.
She was stunned.
When the initial shock had passed, when it was over, she felt the hollow emptiness and peace of being in a vacuum.
She was not surprised when she received the call informing her that his body had been discovered by the flight attendants, and that by the time they got to him he was already dead.
They never noticed that he had been in distress; they said, and they were not a witness to the moment of his passing.
It happened in flight, after he had eaten.
He had been still and quiet after take-off, and they thought he was merely resting.
Once again Jim’s behavior was unexplainable.
He died as he lived, a mystery.
Jim did not carry identification.
He never did.
He was anonymous.
To society at large he barely existed, he left only the smallest of paper trails to define him.
He was a citizen of the world, he spoke every language. He had access to credentials that could open any door, in any country, at any time.
He was both present and completely invisible.
Jim was off the grid.
There was nothing on his phone to tell anyone who he was, only the record of the calls he had recently made to Kathy.
That is how he intended it to be.
Kathy’s safety and security depended on it, and Jim’s mission depended on that.
He had carefully protected this identity above all others. There was not a single information gathering service in the world, weather private or governmental, open sourced or covert that would be able to discover anything about him, unless they devoted a great deal of manpower to it.
Even then Jim had fail-safes in place to protect his privacy.
He would be alerted; he would be able to cover his tracks.
That never happened.
It was vital to his plan that when he was discovered dead, those responsible for contacting his next of kin reach Kathy and only Kathy. She had to be given the responsibility of dealing with his property and effects. She must be directed to do so.
His plan required that she pursue those duties with a sense of mystery, an openness to discovery that would place her in the right cognitive mindset for the essential moment that was to come.
Everything concerning the hours after his departure was a puzzle.
There were wheels within wheels, gears turning and contingencies developing. The pieces came together like the engineering of a fine watch.
Jim’s plans were a thing a craftsmanship.
It was working.
Kathy followed the path Jim laid out for her like she was walking through a maze. There was light at the end of the tunnel, when she arrived there, she would know what she wanted to know, and she would be standing where Jim wanted her to be.
Kathy booked a flight immediately.
She arrived at the city morgue and identified the body.
The pathologist informed her of the cause of death. It was a catastrophic stroke. The autopsy revealed that an embolism had burst in his brain, killing him instantly.
Otherwise Jim had been in perfect health.
The doctor said that the stroke was like a small explosive that went off in his brain.
Kathy had no idea why she was the one to receive him other than what the authorities were telling her.
She was the only person he had been known to have contact with, the only person they could connect him to.
Jim’s relationship to Kathy was the only relationship that mattered.
“Why am I here;” she wondered, but not about the process.
She wondered about Jim’s intentions.
This whole thing had been orchestrated.
She knew that it was his plan she was following.
She was angry, but her curiosity compelled her.
There were aspects to the administrative procedures she was engaged in that were not exactly normal, or even legal, but the officials she was engaged with were acting under orders. The judge, the medical examiner, other governmental functionaries she was forced to deal with, they were operating under some kind of pressure, but they themselves were not quite sure what the exigencies were.
There were plans within plans, and the person pulling the levers was here on the slab with her, cold and unmoving.
It was inscrutable.
There was a level of caution at work that reminded her of her own handlers. There were multiple levels of misdirection and masking, which were intended to keep the objectives of their research hidden from Kathy.
As far as the locals knew, Kathy was simply the only person the authorities could connect Jim to, it was irregular, but it was what it was and that, coupled with orders from a federal magistrate; that was enough for them.
Kathy would not have believed it possible, but Jim was more mysterious in death, than he was in life. She dug into his background only to find nothing, absolutely nothing.
As angry as she was at coming to the realization that he had been deceiving her throughout her relationship with him, her esteem for him are by an order of magnitude.
She appreciated the puzzle he had left her with, it was a gift, a final piece of him for her to assemble.
There was no record of a family, and no record of work, he had a social security number, and a passport, but no record of anything else, not at first blush.
There was no record of Jim ever having attended a school.
No driving record, only one bank account, it was in Switzerland, he was worth billions, at the least. The actual sum was unknown.
He had no legal representation. He had no heirs.
Kathy was fascinated by the developments and full of sadness. She was fine with the things she was discovering, and she accepted her involvement in his final affairs, except that suddenly she was responsible for his body, and she had no idea what he might want her to do with it. They had never had any conversations about death, or burial customs.
Kathy knew that Jim was not religious, at least not observant, he tended to believe that all religions were merely variations on a theme, and that every religious institution was at its heart corrupt, self-serving and short sighted, even those groups who did charitable work.
He was a cynic.
She opted to have him cremated. She thought she would make a tree out of him and plant him somewhere nice.
That is what Kathy wanted for herself.
Why not do the same for Jim?
He liked tree; that much she knew.
And so it was decided, she made the arrangements and waited for the return call.
In the meantime she busied herself with some court appointments.
It took Kathy some time, and there was detective work to do.
She went to the work with calm determination, finding that she was enjoying herself.
The fact that Jim’s identity appeared to be completely fictitious concerned her.
There was a moment when she feared that he was just another plant, one of the handlers sent to interact with her from the National Security structure.
The thought gave her nightmares, feelings of doubt, inadequacy, foolishness.
She was able to set them aside, because the more she thought about it, the less likely it seemed. She would have known, she would have picked up on it, if not from Jim, she would have picked up on it from one of the other agents who she had occasion to interact with, or from one of the many who followed her every move.
She considered bringing them into the conversation, asking them to help her understand who this ghost of a person was.
She rejected that idea, because it might complicate her ability to look into his affairs.
They might just swoop in and seize everything related to Jim, and never give her a chance to discover anything for herself.
Given her abilities, Kathy was typically able to glean any information she wanted from the people around her, but Jim was a phantom.
He was as much of an enigma in death as he had been in life.
Nobody knew anything about him.
It took days to even locate where he lived, and then it took another appointment with another judge to grant her access, and that was limited to a very narrow window of time.
Finally, when she was in that building, Kathy began to encounter people who Jim had interacted with. Though even to them he was a mystery; a quiet, impersonal, private man.
Very few of them had even spoke with Jim.
She thought that it was funny.
In all of the years that she had known him, Kathy had never been to Jim’s home.
She thought she knew the reasons.
She thought it was because she was always under observation. Jim was aware of that, she knew, and because of that he did not want to draw attention to himself, or to their friendship.
That is what she believed.
Kathy did not want the people who watched her asking questions about him. She wanted this relationship to be something entirely under her control, and that is why Jim never came to see her where she lived. If he had ever visited her apartment she believed that he would be taken and interviewed by her handlers, and that it might be the last time she ever saw him.
She had always felt that the two of them could have come up with a plan to meet in different places. To travel together if they had wanted, to slip the watchers and be somewhere that they were truly alone.
Jim had eschewed such notions.
Kathy accepted his reservations without argument.
She had wanted to see the place where he lived, but unless he was willing, she had determined that she would not push the issue.
He was an intensely private person; that much was clear.
To her knowledge he had never moved, he had never mentioned it at least.
His apartment was exactly as she had visualized it, scant, bare, Spartan.
Walking into it was like de ja vu.
She had seen it before, through Jim’s eyes, but she had not realized it at the time.
He was like an early twentieth century minimalist piece of stage craft.
Even though it was what she was expecting, she was nevertheless, shocked by it.
He was an aesthetic.
It was extreme.
It made her uncomfortable.
Everybody needs a little something of color and comfort in their life.
This place where Jim lived was all white, black and gray.
It was cold and metallic.
There was not a moment of her life that Kathy could not recall, she remembered everything. She remembered the birth canal, the darkness of the womb, her mother’s breast.
She remembered her first birthday, her first steps.
She remembered struggling as an infant, struggling to be understood, to speak, to master the muscles in her tongue and lips so that she could form words against her palate and speak.
Her memory and her contextualization of her memories were perfect, and it was as fast as lightening.
She could pull together the most remote and seemingly unconnected pieces of data to provide context for analysis. Her proctors believed that the speed with which she could arrive at conclusions was not measurable.
She could answer questions in no-time.
She was entirely actualized.
She defied understanding.
The field of her knowledge was not limited to her own experience. It was tied into her genetic heritage, the memories of her ancestors that was built into her DNA. But it was more than that, she was able to tap into something else that was only understood through a mythic narrative, a structure that no human being actually understood, and of which only a few human beings even suspected the existence of; it was the nous sphere, of Tielhard de Chardin, the cynergenic field of Carl Jung.
It was the collective unconscious of planet Earth.
In that electromagnetic field, in that quantum reality, the entire repository of human knowledge existed.
Kathy had access to it, she was not the first human being of which this was true, but she was the first person that it did not drive into madness.
Now that she was standing in Jim’s apartment, she knew that he had lied to her about a great many things.
His life was not at all as he had presented it to her.
This life was not his only life, and there was more than one Jim, of that she was certain.
Kathy was not surprised.
Part One, Jim and Kathy
Chapter Five, Endings
A Novel – In One Chapter Per Week
#Emergence #ShortFiction #365SciFi #OneChapterPerWeek
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