Annals of the Omega Project – A Trilogy
by Thomas A. Cahill
Paperback: 354 pages
Publisher: EditPros LLC (June 24, 2012)
On a flight from Sacramento to Denver, Professor Ken O’Neal discovers he has a telepathic and loving connectedness with flight attendant Michelle Kolberg. Believing that other “sensitives” probably exist in their midst, they embark on the formation of a group of “like” minds they call the Omega Project at a University of California campus. The Omega Project’s benevolent communication is suddenly threatened by powerful people in San Francisco – older men in secret Covens who use ancient mind-control techniques to trap their telepathic victims and perform horrific deadly “feedings” on their brains to strengthen their own powers of domination. A “feeding” on the brain of a university student named Bonny ignites warfare between the Covens and Omega members, with gruesome fatalities.
Ken and Michelle learn more about the frightening control of the leaders of the Covens’ organization in Europe, forcing Omega to go underground. Fearing the growing capabilities of the Omega members, the Covens call upon their Gypsy allies, some of whom they casually sacrifice as part of their strategy to frighten and execute Omega members. Furious, the Gypsies reluctantly realize they must reconsider their alliances.
The battle spills over into Europe, and some innocent bystanders who become aware of the Coven monsters in their midst pay an awful price. Eventually acknowledging the compassionate intentions of the Omega Project, the Gypsy clans cautiously develop trust and agree to help Omega launch a counterattack against the Covens, despite knowing they must face the evil Emil, who is powerful enough to kill by thoughts alone.
It had been an important colloquium at the Department of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Ken was absolutely on top of his game. He had blown them away with a whole new way of looking at thin-film superconductivity, with important implications for layered room-temperature superconductors. His analysis flew in the face of current theory, but he had his key and very original experiments to make the case convincingly. If this worked, and it did lead to a cheap, high-current room-temperature superconductor, it was the stuff of which Nobel Prizes were made.
Old Kauffman, long protagonist of conventional wisdom, had asked at the end exactly the question Ken had anticipated, and Ken neatly put him away with not only a proven error in an earlier Kauffman paper but a re-evaluation of the same data Kauffman had used, explaining a problem Kauffman had alluded to but left unexplained. He could sense a certain pleasure among the younger faculty at seeing the old curmudgeon simply leveled by this much younger professor from that nascent cow college, the new University of California, Merced campus. Ken felt the audience was with him, some through nods and smiles, others just by rapt attention as he showed them a whole new way of using data and theory, opening up new opportunities for many in the audience.
The only minor annoyance in this picture was that he would be unable to share and exult with his beloved Jill, wife of 13 years. He had to rush to catch the plane, and Jill had that seminar. In fact, he was probably not that far from Merced and Jill right now. A yearning far beyond the physical flowed through him, and he could picture a wonderful evening and delicious night as they reveled in Ken’s success and each other’s presence. Alas, a long-promised colloquium at the University of Colorado was too important to avoid or delay. So Ken quietly sat, but his mind was both furiously active and emotionally bereft by Jill’s absence.
A flight attendant was coming down the aisle, tall like Jill and good looking, with a wisp of hair that kept falling in front of her face. Her nameplate said M. Kolberg, but that could simply be a noncommittal way of avoiding stating her marital status. Sort of like “Ms.” Ken had not the slightest romantic interest in her, but appreciated her style. She was passing out drinks with an unusual flair. She addressed each person as though he or she were the only person on the plane, smiling, joking, exuding confidence and competence. Ken liked that whenever he saw it in his students, fostered it, encouraged it and in the processes won the coveted Academic Senate Teaching Award with its $25,000 prize.
Michelle Kolberg was indeed alive with good humor and anticipation of her upcoming vacation. She was on the last shift before a two-week vacation with Karen hiking in the Maroon Bells wilderness in Colorado. Michelle really liked being a flight attendant, liked the people, liked the travel, and liked the other girls. She had been at this for two-and-a-half years, and the kick she got out of the whole scene had never faded. Her ratings were sky high, and she was destined for a better route in three months.
She smiled and chatted, and many of the passengers responded with smiles. She really liked people, which made it all the more troubling that her love life was zero. Worse than zero. Zilch! She had had numerous boyfriends and had been willing, even eager, to have sex with some of them, but somehow it all went wrong at the last minute. This resulted in three or four occasions that could have been legally called attempted rape, but Michelle was athletic and quick and determined, and thus one more relationship would end badly. This actually had some advantages in the career of the flight attendant as this reduced the number of attempts from unsuitable (one-night-stand specialist) co-workers as the word got out that she was an iceberg. Still, sometimes she wondered whether she was the only 24-year-old virgin among the United flight attendants.
She had just finished serving a grandmotherly type in 16D, who was clearly nervous at flying, and giving her hand a squeeze and a wink, reclined the back of her seat, to be rewarded with a lovely smile and visible relaxation. Michelle could sense her success, and turned to serve the passenger in the next row, 17D. She was still bent over from helping thelady, and thus her head was very close to his. He was in fact a great-looking older guy with a glorious smile alive with feelings as she looked into his eyes. Why can’t I find a guy like this, she thought, and in her loneliness reached out her feelings.
Suddenly she was seeing herself, standing there, transfixed, like in a mirror, but it was not a mirror. She was seeing herself in the eyes of this guy. In Ken’s eyes.
Ken was stunned. Suddenly he was not seeing this flight attendant, but himself, in her eyes. In Michelle’s eyes.
For long seconds neither could, or wanted, to move, to breathe. Emotions surged uncontrollably through each, neither wanting this moment to pass. But it had to.
Ken said, or thought he said, “We must meet again as soon as you get a chance.” But, in fact, his lips hadn’t moved. “Yes, yes yes,” thought Michelle. But why hadn’t his lips moved? Stunned, she went into autopilot, serving the people in 17E and 17F, and moving on, averting her eyes, but feeling him still in her mind and he in hers. How had this happened?
By row 20, she had lost all contact with Ken. Her mind worked furiously. Somehow they had transcended some incredible barrier and could read, share each other’s thoughts. She yearned to repeat the moment again, and again, and forever. This was way beyond love, beyond yearning.
Ken, ever analytical, was way ahead of her. There had been some transcending of a barrier between their minds. He had to get close and do it again, as soon as possible, but while Michelle worked her way down the plane, he had time to think. The best analogy he could think of was that at that moment when their eyes met he had sort of blown a kiss at her mentally, in appreciation of her enthusiasm, appreciation of her smile, her attention to the passengers, her athletic good looks.
He was aware of the recent work on brain functions, since some of it used the hypersensitive thin-film electric devices he both designed and used. The technical term for what just occurred was telepathy, and unlike most of the paranormal trash that so many of his students accepted as real, telepathy violated none of the laws of physics. He had long had a subscription to the The Skeptical Inquirer, just to anticipate such questions from lower-division students, but he was careful to base his arguments on sound science. Telepathy in fact had some scientific support for its potential existence. Contrary to prior thought, it was now proven that thoughts did not originate at a point in the brain but seemed to occur simultaneously at many spots that were too far apart to be in chemical communication via synapses. Thus, there had to be some sort of electrical signal passing through the brain, and these could be picked up outside the skull. The same studies showed that women’s minds were more dispersed in memory than men’s, with far more left-hemisphere, right-hemisphere interconnectivity than men’s. It was just that previous attempts to probe these signals had been rather crude – EEGs, for example. Could it be that some combination of great intelligence (he was realistic about his capabilities) and a yearning to reach out could link the signals across the barrier of skull and skin. He was also aware that the range of contact was short, and by the time Michelle was 10 feet down the aisle, all contact was lost.
This was a stunning development, and he could scarcely contain himself until Michelle had finished her drink service. The lavatories were at the back of the plane, and at the first opportunity, he headed down the aisle. He was wracked with all the doubts and fears of a high school junior on a prom date, eager and emotionally driven by self-doubts and self-worth.
Michelle was sideways to him, doing something totally inconsequential, not looking at Ken, fearing that the moment would never occur again.
But as he approached, she could feel his mind, which was in a state of wild longing and near panic of doubt. Their eyes never met.
“Where and when,” asked Ken audibly.
“At the Starbuck stand, south side of the main concourse, 30 minutes after we touch down,” Michelle responded.
For the rest of the flight, Ken was in some state of torture. Clearly, either something extraordinary had just occurred or he was loosing his mind. But every time Michelle passed by on the aisle, he could sense her mind and sense her panic, facing the unknown with both profound longing and fear of what might come of it. Every time Michelle passed by, it seemed easier to regain contact, a skill once mastered never forgotten, sort of like riding a bike.
The first point was that no one must know what had happenedbetween them. If they were wrong, misled, daydreaming, they would be laughingstocks, ruining his career and probably hers, too. Thus, there must be total secrecy until they could work out what had happened.
Then there was Jill. Ken was totally and completely bonded to Jill in every way a man could, through friendship, admiration, love, marriage, body, and soul. Yet he could sense Michelle’s longing, and he would not, could not hurt Jill who had shared his very thoughts and feelings, and who knew that he could not help but love her in return. Thus, immediately, there had to be a resolution involving Jill. And there could be no physical relationship with Michelle.
However, he couldn’t easily drop his colloquium tomorrow, and so he had to tough out one night in Boulder, attending the scheduled dinner in his honor this evening, teaching a graduate class at 11:00 a.m., and then the colloquium at 3:30 p.m. It would be a challenge to his intellect to focus on the talks that had meant so much to him just an hour ago, and now were inconsequential to his recent experience. Then he and Michelle would take the 7:55 to Sacramento, and then the long drive to Merced for a midnight arrival. He would call Jill first and tell her everything. It would be a weird phone call, but a lifetime of total truthfulness would be a foundation for understanding. Far better than showing up at midnight with an attractive young woman in tow.
Ken got to Starbucks in about 15 minutes, about as fast as the Denver train shuttle would allow. Of course, he was using a roller board and laptop carrier and had no checked luggage. The next minutes were pure torture. What if Michelle didn’t show up? What if she, too, was married, and simply ran away from a potentially disastrous situation?
But 10 minutes later, there she was, still in uniform with her carry-on over her shoulder. She wordlessly motioned for Ken to follow, and passing behind the ticket counters used her pass to enter a door marked “Authorized Personnel Only.” It was a set of small rooms, designed for aircrews between flights, which were generally used mostly late at night (except for brief liaisons of a romantic nature). Michelle chose one, motioned Ken inside, and closed the door. There was one chair and the bed, and Michelle chose the chair. Ken sat on the bed, about as far from Michelle as the room would allow and out of mental contact.
“What happened to us? What do we do now?” said Michelle in an anguished voice clearly looking at the wedding ring on Ken’s hand.
“We have had some sort of telepathic breakthrough,” said Ken. “Contrary to popular belief, this does not violate any of the laws of physics and indeed recent research has hinted at some sort of inner-brain electrical communication. No one has made any sense of the signals that have been seen for decades, and no one has even hinted at person-to-person telepathic contact. My analysis is that it was only a very unusual coincidence of circumstances that occurred between two highly intelligent people that allowed this to occur. First, you are clearly very smart and empathetic, interacting with and responding to your passengers in an especially effective manner. Second, I was in a high state of excitement, longing for a chance to communicate with Jill, my darling wife, and also appreciating your sympathy for the old woman. Third, by accident, our heads were very close when our eyes met.
“I have to accept what happened as fact, and act thusly. I could not help loving you, and you me, as we knew each other more intimately than any married couple, any lovers ever could. I have an enormous desire to know more of you, to protect you, and to see us grow in grace and wisdom with this enormous gift we have been given. But I propose we move very slowly, in total secrecy, and with no physical intimacy, until we understand what has happened and plot the best course for our joint future.”
Michelle’s heart plummeted with the words “Jill, my darling wife,” as Ken feared it would. But she stuck with it, and at the end merely nodded concurrence.
Ken laid out his plans, and Michelle dreaded having to cancel the long-planned trip with Karen, her best friend. Some excuse had to be found, and soon. The death of a relative, her old aunt with whom Karen had had no contact, was decided upon. Conveniently, she lived just north of Sacramento.
This done, Ken said, asked, prayed, “Do we dare to get close together here?” Michelle nodded yes, so they decided that Ken would sit on the floor and Michelle would bring her head near his. For about 15 minutes, they communed, each gripping the chair so hard their hands became numb, as they talked and saw and felt as one. Ken remembered Jill, and instantlyMichelle was in love with her, too. She vowed never, never, to interfere with this love of 13 years, no matter what hurt it cost her.
It became clear that they could read only current thoughts, and had no access to past memories. It was also clear that they shared all the physical sensations each was experiencing: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. Emotions were deeply shared.
After about 15 minutes, some sort of mental exhaustion set in, and regretfully all contact ceased. They sat, still apart physically but deeply and permanently bonded. They were drenched in sweat, as though they had been in heavy exercise. They both had headaches, and their foreheads were hot and blushed.
Fearful of physical contact, they each went their way, with a scheduled meeting just before the flight back. They agreed to sit apart and refrain from communicating.