'Wait a minute! I remember!' I cried. 'I remember the First Law! The First Law says: You exist. That's it, that's the First Law. You exist! '
As I might have expected if I'd been at least half sober, this idiotic outburst of mine brought the house down. Aklo was literally bent over in raucous laughter. Of course the jokes kept coming. So if I exist, where does that leave you? or, If I don't exist, do I break the Law? or, Everything changes except Law Six, and other such puerile inanities.
Believe me, it's funnier when you've had a few drinks in you. I laughed as much as they did. In fact, I hadn't actually laughed as much for as long as I could remember. What would Zol think of me now? Xendo? Solari? I felt so ashamed of myself and yet I was laughing my head off. No wonder the Lemurians couldn't trust the wheelies. I was as ridiculous as any of them.
As the merriment died down, a deep, soft gong rang out, followed by an announcement that our shuttle was waiting to transport us to our island airport. As I stood to leave with the group, in the distance I could hear someone singing that song again. Solari's song. Where was it coming from? I started to weep quietly as the tears welled up and before I knew it, the sobbing became uncontrollable. Jordan? queried Sanshi, staring into my eyes through her huge, black spectacles, holding my arm, are you all right? I hadn't noticed how beautiful those large green eyes of hers were...Sanshi...Jordan?...Jordan?....
It's Lucy's voice.
'Lazarus!' she laughs. 'Are you OK? I'm sorry, I had to wake you. I thought you were choking, your whole body was trembling. One minute you're laughing your head off, then the next minute you're shaking all over and crying. That trip must have been quite a roller-coaster! So sorry to have to wake you, but I was getting a little worried. You were really out long enough for one day. Cup of tea before we do the recording?'
Long Time Sun is playing in the background.
I wipe the tears from my face and try to remember the Six Laws.
Lucy returns with a tray of tea and a slice of her delicious apple and blackberry pie.
As she goes over her notes after my recording, she remarks that the Jainists, who go back to the time of the Buddha, are also very conscientious about the life-forms under their feet. They use brooms to sweep the insects away in front of them as they walk. She tells me that the term merkaba has captured her interest. She took a course once which included a module on Egyptology she says. When she was a student. In another life, as she puts it jokingly. The ba and the ka terms also appear in ancient Egyptian culture. The ba was the personality; the ka the spirit, or vital spark, that kept the person alive. In Egyptian hieroglyphs, the ba was represented as a bird with a man's head. Or was it a man with a bird's head?
I'm exhausted. And to be honest, far too tired to be bothered by any of this right now. I need some air. Mercifully, Lucy's phone rings and she answers it. I point urgently at my watch, grab my phone, wave at her and dash for the door, feeling relieved to be out of there at last. I look forward to a cool beer and a normal chat at home with Cathy. In the breeze, on the way to the bus-stop, I can still feel the tears on my face.
Lucy rings me on my mobile while I'm on the bus. She's wondering if I'd ever heard of the I Ching, pronounced Ih Ging. No, no I don't believe I have. Can I remember anything else about the chessboard design on the wall, the squares of straight and broken lines of silver and lapis lazuli? Oh, yes, of course. Yes. What about it? She asks me to Google the I Ching as soon as I get home and to contact her if I can make any connections. She spells it out for me. I try to show some interest and tell her I'll do it first thing. I take out my biro and write I Ching on my fist.
As I get off the bus and cross the road, I look around for the guy in the wheelchair. I wonder where he is now.