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Resonance: Chapter Twenty Seven

       Last updated: Wednesday, December 21, 2005 23:31 EST



    “And that would be bad?” asked Annalise.

    Schenck shrugged. “It would depend upon the event resonating. The discovery of a cure for a debilitating disease? I can’t see many people complaining about that.”

    “But if it was something bad?”

    “Then it could be catastrophic. Once a resonance reaches a critical mass the event is practically pre-ordained.”

    “Like fate?”

    “One could call it that. One could say that fate is another name for resonance. Though, I see it more as a series of probabilities. Every second of our lives we are bombarded with fields of resonance generated by events in our sister worlds. Most we ignore, most we can’t even sense, but some resonate with the way we feel - strengthen our determination to take a certain path. Others are so strong they can make us change our minds - the gut feeling that flies in the face of every fact, the impulse that forces us to do something totally out of character.”

    Graham listened. The man was describing his life - his inner voice, the feelings, the certainty that one path was right and all others wrong.

    “That’s the power of resonance,” Schenck continued. “As I envisage it, it works on instinct rather than intellect. In the same way a professional sportsman trains by repeating the same movements over and over again until they become automatic, we, too, can be trained by the actions of our alter egos. Their repetition resonates with our instinct.”

    “Could you stop a resonance wave?” asked Annalise.

    Schenck shrugged and settled back into his chair. “One could always try. I can only speculate about the forces involved but I’d imagine them to be intense. It would be like telling one’s teenage daughter to stop seeing an unsuitable boyfriend. Even if, at an intellectual level, she could appreciate the logic of the request, she’d most likely ignore it - every fibre of her body would scream at her to keep seeing the boy.”

    Graham nodded. He’d felt that power Monday night at the tube station. Maybe it hadn’t been his fear of making a scene. Maybe it had been resonance, and the wake from two hundred billion Graham Smiths tracing their daily route home

    “What about starting a resonance wave?” asked Annalise. “Could someone intentionally create one?”

    “Unlikely. They’d have to co-ordinate the process across countless parallel worlds. We don’t even know if there are parallel worlds let alone how we’d begin to communicate with them.”

    “But say there are parallel worlds out there that can communicate with each other. Could they get together and force some event to resonate across the dimensions?”

    Schenck’s eyes narrowed as he sat up. He looked at Annalise as though he was seeing her for the first time - no longer the striking girl with the orange hair but something else. Something he wasn’t quite sure about.

    “What event are you talking about?” he asked. “Have you something in mind?”

    “No, I…”

    Annalise’s phone rang.



    “Sorry,” she said, turning her body away from Schenck as she lifted the phone to her ear.

    “We need to meet,” said Kevin Alexander. He sounded anxious.


    “Divide the number of girls by four and add six.”


    “That’s the number of the place we’re going to meet.”

    “Oh, right! Okay, done that, divide by four and add six. What’s next?”

    “The street is the name of the month after April.”

    “Got it. What time do we meet?”

    “As soon as you can. And bring your friend.”

    The phone line clicked dead. Annalise turned to Schenck. “Sorry, we’ve got to go.”



    They thanked Schenck and left, pausing on the stairs to look up May Street in Annalise’s A-Z. It was in Brompton. A small street near Knightsbridge tube station - fifteen, maybe twenty minutes away.

    They hurried back to Russell Square and caught the south-bound train.

    “I’m going to contact the girls,” said Annalise, as she settled down in the seat next to Graham. “Won’t be long.”

    Graham watched as she closed her eyes and drifted away. She looked almost regal, the way she sat with her back and head so straight - not slouched like everyone else in the compartment - an expression of benign confidence adding to the impression.

    The carriage rocked from side to side as the train picked up speed. Annalise pitched forward, Graham grabbed her arm and pulled her back. She smiled and mouthed a silent, ‘thank you,’ without ever opening an eye.

    Graham left his hand where it was, feeling protective - at first - and then self conscious. He wondered what the other people in the carriage were thinking. Were any of them watching? He let his eyes drift up and down the carriage, feigning indifference while he scanned every face out of the corner of his eye. Some were looking at Annalise. The woman opposite for one; her eyes flicked up and down, resting the longest on Annalise’s face - or was it her hair? Whichever it was, she disapproved, and looked away.

    Others were not so disapproving. Two youths by the doors elbowed each other and leered. Another man stared at her from over his newspaper.

    No one looked at Graham.

    Didn’t they see his hand on her arm? Couldn’t they imagine that he and Annalise could be together? Was it that unlikely?

    He looked at their imperfect reflection in the window opposite and filled in the gaps. She was young and exotic and he wasn’t. He was weird but harmless. Ten, maybe thirteen years separated them. Thirteen years and three thousand miles.

    They came from different worlds - literally.

    And yet?

    And yet he didn’t want to think about it any more. He removed his hand. Only pain and disappointment lay down that particular road.

    Annalise opened her eyes. “Are we there yet?”




    “Why Svenson?” asked Graham, four stops later. They’d been discussing the candidates for possible resonance waves and not getting anywhere. They’d agreed it had to be something to do with ParaDim but beyond that they were stumped. There were so many events linked to ParaDim - so many discoveries, so many ramifications. Were they all resonating? Was one resonating stronger than the others? Graham thought he’d change the subject.

    “Svenson? Oh, that! First thing that came into my head. It’s my mother’s name, you know. She’s Danish. Came to America as an au pair, met my father and never went home. That’s how I got my name - Annalise. It’s Danish, too. Do you know I’ve never met another Annalise? Ever. Except in here.” She tapped her head and smiled.

    The train pulled into another station, Graham watched the station name flash by the windows - Green Park. He checked their progress against the tube map over the carriage window. He knew there were two stops to go but he liked the confirmation - you never know when a new station might appear.

    He froze in his seat. Why had he suddenly thought about unravelling? The world didn’t unravel - he knew that now. The world stayed as it was. It was he - Graham Smith - who changed.

    And her.

    He swung around. Was she still there? Had he flipped? Had he lost her? Panic. Instinctively, he threw out an arm as he turned. Perhaps there was still time to grab hold and keep her with him.

    Annalise smiled back. The same orange hair, the same clothes, the same easy smile. “What’s the matter?” she said. “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

    Graham started to say something, looked down, saw his hand fastened around Annalise’s, withdrew it quickly and changed the subject as best he could.

    “I was thinking…” He broke off as he noticed his left hand flash in front of his face in an extravagant gesture - freed of Annalise’s arm it appeared to be taking on a life of its own. He clamped it back down to the arm of the seat and tried to fight the rush of blood towards his face.

    “How come,” he tried a different tack, “how come Kevin Alexander knew about Schenck’s Law?”

    “You mean before Schenck published?”

    Graham nodded and looked away, relieved.

    “That’s easy, we know that Kevin Alexander can access data from other parallel worlds, don’t we? He knew all that stuff about you.”


    “So, what if his Schenck - the one who published Schenck’s Law - lives on some parallel world?”

    “And our Schenck just happened to come up with the same idea?”

    “Exactly, our Schenck is not THE Schenck. It’s one of those resonance thingys. He said himself the idea came to him out of the blue. Way I see it, you have this really brainy Schenck on planet X who comes up with the idea and writes this mega best-seller. Maybe they’re more advanced on planet X. Maybe they’ve already discovered other parallel worlds. Who knows? Anyway, using Schenck’s Law, once one Schenck has made the breakthrough then the probability of other Schenck’s doing the same increases. There’s probably millions of Schenck’s out there this minute with those exact same words resonating through their brains. One of them probably shouts ‘eureka’ every five minutes.”

    “Do you really believe that?”

    “Graham,” she paused, catching his eye. “I’m the girl with two hundred voices in her head. I believe everything.”



    They turned into May Street, a wide car-lined thoroughfare edged by two lines of grey Victorian terraces, five storeys high. Number fifty-six was on the corner, hiding behind years of grime and neglect which had left its facade dirty, pock-marked and flaking. A state shared by many of its neighbours. There was a line halfway along the terrace, beyond which the houses shone freshly-painted white.

    Annalise trotted up the steps to the door and reached out to turn the handle. The door opened before she got there. Kevin Alexander appeared, his eyes flicking left and right. “Quick, come inside,” he said, flattening himself against the door, one hand on the door knob, the other shepherding the two of them inside.

    A dank musty smell permeated the hall-way. The tiled floor was dirty and covered in recent boot prints - the only evidence that anyone had been in the building for years.

    “It’s another of ParaDim’s new offices,” said Kevin. “It’s still being renovated.”

    He turned and led them up the stairs, their footsteps echoing through the empty building - the only sound other than the ever present hum of traffic.

    “How many new offices do ParaDim have?” asked Annalise.

    “Three in London, dozens world-wide. The company’s awash with money at the moment.”

    They reached the landing halfway between the floors.  

    “But why all these old buildings? Why not build something new?”

    “Mr. Sylvestrus dislikes modern architecture.” A woman’s voice - educated, precise, American - rang out from the landing above. “He prefers a more classical style.”

    Graham and Annalise stopped and looked up. A black woman in her late thirties leaned against the banisters, her eyes fixed on Graham.

    “This is Dr. Kent,“ said Kevin.

    “Call me, Tamisha,” said the woman, “and you must be Graham.”

    Graham smiled nervously, looking towards Annalise who, in turn, looked accusingly at Kevin Alexander.

    “You never said there’d be other people at this meeting,” she said.

    “We’re not other people,” interrupted Tamisha. “We’re the Resonance project. What’s left of it.”

    Graham felt uneasy. Something was very wrong. The way the woman spoke - he wasn’t sure if she’d been drinking or she was just being sarcastic, but there was a hopelessness about the way she phrased that last sentence. What’s left of it. Had the Resonance project  been disbanded? Was he a day away from being found unconscious on the street?

    “What’s happened?” asked Annalise.

    “We’ll tell you inside,” said Kevin. “We’re in the room at the front to your right.”

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