By ION LIGHT
Copyright © 2019 by Ion Light
EHP: Experimental Home Publishing
“Liminal,” version 1.00 April 19th, 2019
This is a Safe Haven University novel that goes hand and hand with “Not Here,” “Not There,” “Not Anywhere,” and “Everywhere and all at Once.” There is a connection to all of the ‘I/Tulpa’ stories
All rights reserved. ALL parts of this publication MAY be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, with or without the prior written permission of the publisher, especially in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law, or by that guy who is it taking it to his boss saying, I want to make this movie, that would be like totally okay; caveat YOU MENTION ME! For permission requests, email the publisher “Experimental Home Publishing.”
If you’re not familiar with my work, almost all of these stories are the product of a version of ‘active imagination’ in which the story is experienced and transcribed, more than labored over. If you are familiar with Tulpamancy, Wonderlands, or the stories of Tesla having such an overpowering imagination that he felt as if he went on long journeys to foreign lands and met people, without leaving his head… That is this. I can’t explain it better than he. I have put out some stories that felt more like ‘downloads’ but this is not that. I suspect this is similar to what Thomas Campbell, author of ‘My Big Theory of Everything’ is referring to when he discusses being able to shift realities. I don’t know. I just find it helpful, cathartic, in processing past traumas. This place, and the people there, have changed my world.
I assure you, there will be grammatical errors. I apologize in advance. I am working on doing better. I have marginally improved, which you only need read my first book made available in 2004. Feel free to email me any corrections or complaints. I am simply a modest fan of distant worlds, science, and metaphysics; someone who finds himself caught up in the whirlwinds of something bigger than himself on a daily basis.
Ion Light 214-907-4070 firstname.lastname@example.org
Safe Haven University, a place where science, magic, and metaphysics can be studied in part or in whole. A place where the blending of the arts is encouraged. The school teaches both Light and Dark magic, as it is strongly held belief by the practitioners, professors, and experts in the matter that one cannot have one without the other. It is not the only University available for teaching esoteric knowledge and philosophies. It’s not even the most recognized University. There are probably a half dozen Universities on the Astral plane alone offering similar curriculums. It is one of the few which is the most difficult to get in, because one only becomes a student by recommendation. Referrals go through an austere committee, and a process of debate and deliberations that is so involved that the US Congress might be more likely to pass a bill giving themselves a pay cut and increasing their hours to only do good deeds. Except on Tuesdays. They just a flip a coin.
The University exist in multiple dimensions of space/time, but the physical manifestation is on an obscure, third density planet, orbiting an ordinary yellow star, in orbit around a black hole. The black hole itself churns out a harmonic, which the uninitiated might assume a condition of tinnitus; a color pervades all space time, like a tiny cork rippling the surface as fish nibble away at bait too large to consume. It’s foothold in the physical blossoms upwards through the other realms of existence, and flourishes in the imaginal realm. On the physical plane, the planet is host to score of entities: physical beings, dimensional beings, and energy beings. There is a space station. There is one gas giant with forty moons and each of the moons offers a habitat for diverse population of creatures. Travel opportunities can be made by air cars, orbital space cars, the space elevator, boats, the sailing kind, the motored kinds, and the magical kinds, intrasolar spaceships, or magical portals. There are arguments they’re aren’t magical, just science, tech, and wormholes, but those arguments are best left to those who don’t have access and aren’t in school. Safe Haven students are taught not to engage in debates of what it is, and simply taught to use what works for them. You don’t have to understand oxygen to enjoy a nice breath of fresh air. Not all magic works for all people the same way. This is also true of medicines. Not all medicines work the same. That’s true of foods, as well. Some people can eat bacon without an increase in cholesterol. Some people can look at bacon and their cholesterol goes up. Magic? Well, placebos feel like magic, and it really irritates the pharmaceutical people to have to do triple blind studies to rule it out. Don’t believe this, test it out for yourself. Next time your Doctor writes you a prescription, ask him: “what is the Number Needed to Treat?” It will either irritate the hell out of the Doctor, or severely impress him/her. NNT is a real thing. If a 1,000 people have to take the drug before one person realizes a benefit, you should seriously consider the list of side effects and whether you want to take it. Again, not magic, but it begs the question, why does science ignore findings from the anomalous side of the science when medicines have their statistical anomalies? Paranormal anomalies are occurring, significantly more than chance, and on a continuum not too far removed from drug efficacy measures! (This statement has not been endorsed by Safe Haven, but will be frequently spouted by students in a witch trial.) Jon posed in a class: so is there a ‘number needed to do magic? Like 100,000,000 before one realizes oh, there is something here?’ He did not get an answer. Yet.
Safe Haven faculty and students mostly use portals. Interstellar spaceships frequent the system. There is a hub of galactic trade. There is a hub for temporal trade. There is really no way to tell you where in space-time Safe Haven resides, because it is a well-kept secret. You may be brought there by people in the know, or you may find yourself mysteriously transported there, for no apparent rhyme and reason, and simply returned when your business is completed; or their business with you, as they have no qualms about kidnapping if it suits a porpoise, or even a purpose. If you find yourself there, it’s most likely because someone there has taken an interest in you. There are no coincidences. It’s as easy to get there as crossing from one room to another, and as hard to get there as putting a man safely on Mars using technology from the 14 hundreds.
It can be done, but you really don’t want to see that NNT number.
Jon Harister, a fairly new student, sometimes felt out of place as a fifty year old male in a school mostly comprised of young people, but that feeling didn’t come from not being welcomed or treated well. Most people at Safe Haven were nice people. There are students and faculty that are not nice and you simply had to learn to avoid them. Or deal with them. Dealing with people at Safe Haven was akin to a fandango. You could consider that the dance or the foolish act or both. Sex was usually involved. That’s another thing about Safe Haven folks: most people at Safe Haven have an incredibly high libido, higher than average, and so statistically, young people were more prevalent. People with past trauma, bipolar, boundary issues, and or schizophrenia were more likely to be students because, quite frankly, they had access to things the average person couldn’t. If you love sex, would have sex indiscriminately, on demand, only needing a willing, breathing partner, or even one not breathing, you’re probably in the running to be a student at SHU.
Jon was privy to a conversation about the apparent disparity of younger males to older males, to which he was quickly educated: “Most men are not established enough to engage in education and magic till they have achieved a good many years. If you want a stable, patient, kind father for your offspring, one should always choose an older male. Magic and children are similar animals. You have to nurture both to get good results. Women always mature faster than men. Statistically, physically, mentally, emotionally, magically, and spiritually.”
One does not have to reside on Safe Haven to be summoned to class. One cannot avoid class, any more than the Lewis children could escape going to Narnia if they were so summoned.
(If you assume the Lewis children were not real children, you’re not likely to be a candidate for Safe Haven.) Trying to go to class before your class was ready though just added more school work to your plate. By the time a student was a sophomore, they usually had given up trying to rush through their studies. One simply had to realize the Universe had its own schedule and was usually completely indifferent to your own. Jon was not on Safe Haven when he was called to class, but was comfortably passing the time at his personal home away from home, “2nd Home,” for lack of creativity. He was simply passing from one room to another. All thresholds are portals. All portals go somewhere. You only think each room in your house is connected in an integral way because you have not been a Student of Safe Haven. You only think ‘rooms’ exist only in a house, but outside is a room. A really big room. Day and night time are rooms, and there are a million billion rooms in between this, and you can stand as still as a tree and still travel between rooms. If you hadn’t notice this, it’s okay. Few people do. Most people don’t notice when they’ve exited or entered a room. Most people have an underdeveloped sense of ambiance. Even some of the graduates of Safe Haven haven’t made the connection. You’re given this not to make you feel bad, but to practice paying attention. Sometimes, if you fail to notice, you return to where you were.
Jon was captured, or given a ‘pass,’ as he crossed over the threshold leading from his bedroom to living area. He had taken two steps before he realized he had transitioned beyond where he had expected to arrive. He took one step back, but did not go back to where he was previously. He wondered if he was still there, and suspected he was, but would have to contend with what was before him before he could return to where he was previously. We could spend the rest of eternity debating if we ever return to where were previously. He had done this enough now to know holding his breath usually helped the vertigo to fade, and helped him contend. One eventually had to breathe, to accept. He began reading the ambiance of the room, and it was highly charged with expectation. For better or worse, he held everyone’s attention. He chewed on his lips as he processed what he should be doing. He was in a classroom, consisting of a teacher’s desk and chair, and fifteen student desks and chairs. There were fourteen students in their places. There was one unoccupied chair, clearly his. It was on the far side of the room to where he was now. There was a man sitting on the edge of the teacher’s desk, who Jon immediately recognized.
The man, an elderly Chinese male, thin, traditional, long white beard and mustache, wearing blue jeans, a t-shirt, and a sport’s coat, with off colored elbow patches. He drummed a cane on the floor.
“You’re late,” Lester said.
“You’re the professor?” Jon asked.
“No, I am the assistant Professor, and you’re wasting our time,” Lester said.
Jon took the remaining seat. From his seat, the change in perspective allowed Jon to identify another feature of the room. There was a small, ordinary goldfish bowl on the other side of Lester. A single goldfish hovered leisurely, facing away from the class at an oblique angle. There were rainbow rocks at the bottom of the tank, and a tiny castle with an arch just big enough to allow the fish to retreat if it so chose. A solitary leaf of a plant to the right of the abode.
“I assume all of you know why you’re here,” Lester said.
“I don’t,” Jon said.
“Have you lost all sense of etiquette?” Lester asked.
“I don’t understand,” Jon said.
“Students, what do we do when we want to be addressed or ask a question?” Lester asked.
Six students raised their hands, eager to answer the question. The others likely didn’t want to be recognized. “You can’t be serious,” Jon said.
“Jon, I am not going to give you special treatment because we are friends and you live with me,” Lester said.
“I live with you?” Jon asked.
“That’s what I said,” Lester said.
“You, Sir, live with me,” Jon asked.
“When I found you, you were nothing more than a homeless, guttersnipe, begging for a place to live and food to eat. My friends and I took you in, out of our extraordinary kindness, in party due to your extraordinary pathetic state. And how did you repay our kindness? You fucked my friends, destroyed our home, got us kicked off campus, and so, though technically we may be residing at your place, you, Sir, are living with us, and by default, with me,” Lester said.
Jon was going to point out the flaws to Lester’s history, but Lester continued, so Jon sat quietly while Lester was ignoring him and talking on as if he weren’t there.
“Let’s begin with the class rules,” Lester said. “Rule number one: there will be no sex while in this class. Rule two…”
Jon raised his hands. Lester leaned his cane to and fro as if he were shifting gear.
“You mean, here, in the classroom?” Jon asked.
“While you’re in the class,” Lester said.
“You mean, no sex while enrolled in the class, or while here in the classroom?” Jon asked. “No sex while in the class,” Lester said.
“Is this a hard fast rule?” Jon asked.
“It’s not hard. Don’t have sex,” Lester said.
“What about oral sex?” Jon asked.
“What about oral sex?” Lester asked.
“Is that permitted?” Jon asked.
“Oral sex, by definition is sex. Rule one states, no sex while in this class,” Lester said.
“What about giving oral?” Jon asked.
“You want to give me oral sex?” Lester asked.
“No!” Jon said. “But I might want to engage in oral sex…”
“You want me to give you oral sex?” Lester asked.
“No!” Jon said.
“So, we’re in agreement, no sex, what’s the problem?” Lester asked.
“There is no way in hell I am going the whole semester without sex,” Jon said.
“I didn’t say you had to go the whole semester without sex,” Lester said.
“You said no sex while in this class,” Jon said.
“Yes,” Lester said.
“So, is that the whole semester, or just in this classroom?” Jon asked.
“Yes,” Lester said.
“How long is this class?” Jon demanded.
“Depends on how many questions you ask,” Lester said.
“What happens if I have sex?” Jon asked.
“What normally happens when you have sex?” Lester asked.
“I meant, if I violate rule one, what is the consequence?” Jon asked.
“You will die,” Lester said.
“Seriously?!” Jon asked.
“Surely you have gone without sex before,” the girl sitting next to him said. Jon stared dumbly at her. She observed his look and decided it was compulsory to explain her position: “We all went the first twenty two years of our lives not having sex. You can go a spell without.”
“You clearly don’t know me,” Jon said. He also nearly said, ‘and don’t call me surely.’
He turned to Lester. “Can we at least masturbate?” “No,” Lester said.
“How do I get out of this class?!” Jon said.
“By completing the class,” Lester said. “Rule Two, if a Freshman approaches you to get their sex card punched, you will not only turn them down, but that student is forever on your do not fuck list, even after you get out of this class.” “That is so un-fucking-reasonable,” Jon said.
“Raise your hand, please,” Lester said. Jon raised his hand.
“Jon,” Lester said.
“Rule two,” Lester said. “Rule three, you cannot blame this class or me for not being able to engage in sex.”
“And just what excuse am I supposed to give?” Jon asked.
“Lie,” Lester said.
“To Loxy?!” Jon asked. “You know I can’t lie to her. And if a Freshman asks you for sex, you have to engage them. It’s the University’s rule.”
“Unless you’re in this class, then rule two trumps the general rule that you should have sex with whomever asks, whenever they ask. The Freshman must be so thoroughly discouraged by your excuse that they will intentionally avoid you for all time,” Lester said.
Jon got up and tried to leave the class. The door didn’t open.
“Jon, please return to your seat,” Lester said.
“Or what, you will kick me out?” Jon asked.
Lester smiled. It was creepy. “Oh, please challenge me in my class,” he said.
Jon considered the situation. Lester was pretty handy with the cane. The dance number with Dick Van Dyke and the old bamboo, well, that’s child’s play compared to Lester’s martial arts ability with a cane. Jon returned to his seat.
Lester continued with the rules. Jon was so busy sulking, he didn’t hear any of the other rules, nor did he hear the class dismissed. He only saw people getting up to leave and he got up to leave, too.
“Jon, I need you stay,” Lester said.
“Oh, fuck you,” Jon said.
“Refer to rule one and sit. The professor wants to speak with you,” Lester said.
Jon sat back down. Lester was the last person to depart the room. He closed the door behind him. Jon sat there, waiting for the professor to come speak with him. To the fish he said,
‘I know a game we can play; it’s called up up up with the fish.’ The fish didn’t laugh. “Oh, come on, it was funny. Doctor Seuss? Oh, maybe Loxy is right, I am not funny.” He put his head on the desk.
When sleep didn’t come, he got up and tried to open the door. It didn’t open. He walked around the room, but there was no other exit and no windows. Only the chairs, the desks, and the goldfish. Jon opened all the drawers on the teacher’s desk. He found goldfish food and dry erase markers. Jon ranted, “I hate fucking dry-erase markers. Doesn’t the school know chalk is cheaper? I can buy a box of non-allergenic chalk for fifty cents that lasts me five years, but a single dry-erase marker rarely lasts beyond a week and cost like five bucks a piece…” He tried to open the drawers on the student desk, but none would open for him, except the drawers on his desk, and they were empty. He sat back down. He leaned his head on his desk. He stared at the goldfish. The goldfish stared back. Its mouth made the slow opening and closings as it pushed water through its gills. It pooped. Everybody poops. Jon went through that childhood story. Elephants poop, and they need a huge kitty litter box. Goldfish poop, too. He wondered if dolphins made fart jokes. Maybe that’s why the pod was always jumping out of the water and laughing. Did stragglers get hit with poop?
Jon struggled to avoid going into daydream mode. He had flashbacks to the movie “3 O’clock High,” and a clock montage. He found himself entertaining a montage of the goldfish and him holding a staring contest with the camera getting closer and closer to the goldfish with dramatic music, ending with Ferris Bueler jokes. He wondered if Stan Lee would join him for a cameo and coffee. Finally, Jon’s eyes started to close from boredom and just as he was about to sleep, he heard the voice:
“You’re making this difficult.”
Jon became alert, looking around for the professor. “Hello?” His mind was as quiet as the classroom. It was like being in an empty house and hearing a creak and suddenly even your breath stopped so you could hear the echo of what was, but you’re not a bat, and you can’t chase echoes, and eventually you have to breathe again. No one was there. He got up and tried the door. Locked. He looked for a camera or a speaker but found none. “Hello?”
No one answered. He stood there for a while, until he got bored of standing, returned to his chair, and again, his eyes began to shut.
“Jon,” came the voice.
Jon sat back up. He was seriously attentive.
“That’s better,” the voice said.
Jon blinked. He pointed at the goldfish. “You’re the professor?” “My name is Frito,” it said. The voice was booming, inside Jon’s head.
“That’s funny,” Jon said.
“I was named by a child on Earth,” Frito said. “It stuck. Just like your call sign
‘Strangelove,’ is going to stick.” “My call sign?” Jon said.
“You didn’t think you’d be solarchariot, did you? Your group call sign is solarchariot, but you, Sir, are Strangelove,” Frito said.
“Speaking of love of strange, I am opposed to the class rule…” “Suck it up,” Frito said.
“Wouldn’t that be breaking the rule?” Jon asked.
“Not everything is an innuendo,” Frito said.
“Has anyone told you that you sound like Samuel?” Jon asked.
“Expecting Morgan Freeman?” Frito asked.
“Yes, actually,” Jon said.
“I am not God. I am a goldfish,” Frito said. “And I chose the voice I thought you would most likely respond to…”
“I would have responded better to Lauren Bacall,” Jon interrupted.
“No, you would have just been distracted by sex. There is more to life than sex,” Frito said.
Jon bit his lower lip. “May I be released from your class?”
“No,” Frito said. “You have been chosen to be a Guardian of Doors. This class is designed to expand your liminal nature to the next level.” Jon didn’t say anything.
“What part of that don’t you understand?” Frito asked.
“I don’t know enough to even ask,” Jon said.
“Fair enough,” Frito said. He began to pace back and forth as he lectured. “You, Sir, are a generalist. Most worlds hate generalists. They prefer specialists. Worlds steeped in industrial economic paradigms, they are even more loathed to generalists than other economic models. The more generalists a society has, the rarer the call for specialists. Even your world’s primary dating philosophy is to seek specialists, one partner who can meet all needs, which is a better explanation for the obsessiveness of one ring to rule them all, and why you personally suck at monogamy. You’re not a specialist. You’re a generalist. You irritate the majority of folks. They see you as useless, unfaithful, undisciplined, reckless, unfocused, flighty…”
“I got you,” Jon said.
“You are severely lucky to have avoided the diagnosis of ADHD and been placed on narcotics,” Frito said.
“Oh, I got the diagnosis,” Jon said. “But my mother used the prescription for herself.” “There you go,” Frito said.
“What does this have to with me and your class and no sex?” Jon asked.
“Everyone is a generalist,” Frito said.
“I said everyone wants specialists. They are even trained to believe they are specialist and they get really perturbed when they have to go outside of their domain just to function.
Interestingly, if they wander out of their domain on their own accord and get called out, they will say, ‘trust me, I am specialist,’ which just confuses the matter. People are punished if they don’t specialize, and even if they do, they can still be punished because there is always something they should know, either by society or other specialist who expect others to know enough to hold a conversation with them, but get irritated when you actually do know a smidgeon of the special lore, but the truth is, everyone’s true nature is to be a generalist,” Frito said. “As a Guardian, your job is to help build bridges between worlds.”
“You’re speaking metaphorically connecting people to other aspects of their nature, or literally connecting them to other worlds?” Jon asked. “I don’t make a distinction between the two paradigms you just espoused,” Frito said. Jon rubbed his forehead.
“How many people do you have in your head?” Frito asked.
“Me and Loxy,” Jon said.