I’m asleep. At least I think I am. We’re altogether this time, sitting round the glass table in the garden. We are wrestling with the problem of how to find out if my head has any other entities lurking beneath consciousness and if so, how to get in touch with them. We’ve postponed trying to reach agreement on how to reflect more often and more effectively until we’ve sorted this issue out.
‘We don’t seem to be getting very far with our watching brief plan. And I don’t think we’re going to. We need to do something more proactive.’ He paused for a moment and when no one else spoke he added, ‘Why don’t we try using an ouija board?’ Frederick Mires seems slightly embarrassed to be making this suggestion.
‘Good to see a brain scientist prepared to put something so discredited to the test, Fred.’ Christopher Humfreeze finds it hard to conceal his pleasure at scoring such an unlikely point. For once he is not on the receiving end of Mires’s unremitting need to test the validity of his faith in meditation.
‘Too easy to fake, isn’t it?’ comments the pragmatic Emma Pancake dismissively. Anything so flaky is unlikely to receive the support of such a hard-line campaigner in the socio-political sphere.
‘What’s an Ouija board?’ asks the bewildered William Wordless. Exploring and rhapsodising about mountains and forests has obviously given him too little time to explore the esoteric.
I feel it’s time I stepped in.
‘I don’t think we have to explain that to you, Bill, I’m happy to say. I’m not convinced that tables, letter cards and up-turned tumblers are going to get us very far towards solving this problem. We’re not in a material space now but an immaterial one: dreamland requires a different approach, I feel.’
There is a period of silence.
‘I have an idea but it’s unlikely to work,’ Mires muses.
‘We’d be glad to hear it, whatever it is,’ is my attempt at an encouraging response.
‘Well, you know I’ve been investigating consciousness for decades now, and there is one method that in my view, if it can work at all, could just possibly work as well in dreamland as in waking time.’ He pauses dramatically.
‘Come on, Fred. Don’t keep us hanging in suspense.’ Pancake has little patience with anyone’s dramatics except her own.
‘Calm down, Emmie! I’m going to tell you now. If we had access to a psychic, a spirit medium, we could possibly detect and access whatever is there.’
‘That puts the kibosh on that one then,’ gloats Pancake. ‘We haven’t got a medium.’
‘Slow down a moment, folks. Not so hasty.’ Bill clearly doesn’t like Pancake’s knee jerk dismissal of this idea. There’s always been a tension between them. He knows she despises his love of poetry: she sees it as an impractical waste of time. He, on the other hand, distrusts the frantic activity with which she chases her dream of changing the world.
‘Maybe we have someone who doesn’t know they’re a medium.’
‘How likely is that, Bill?’ asks Mires. ‘We’ve been together in here for decades. We know each other really well. I don’t see anyone among us with a secret gift for contacting spirits.’
‘That’s where I think you’re mistaken, Fred. You’ve never been convinced that meditation does what Chris says it can. What if he’s right? What if he is closer to his soul than any of us? What if that means he can tune in to the world of souls and spirits that we can’t sense?’
‘Steady on, Bill, for heaven’s sake,’ Humfreeze butts in. ‘It’s my head you’re talking about here. Don’t let your poetic imagination run away with you. I have never had, and I do not expect ever to have, psychic powers, whatever they are. That’s not why I meditate.’
‘I’m not suggesting that is why you do it, only that it might have helped you be able to do it and not even know. Why don’t you just give it try? We really need to find a way to do this.’
Humfreeze seems to be shrinking with repugnance at the whole idea.
‘I know this probably cuts across everything you feel you are trying to do,’ Mires interjects sympathetically, ‘and I will respect and understand whatever decision you make in the end. However, I think there is something here that trumps your reluctance. If there is a hidden entity inside Pete’s head and if contacting it results in us all becoming more able to do more good, then there’s no blame attached to your testing the existence of a possible skill you never tried to acquire. It can do no harm and might do a lot of good.’
‘That’s an awful lot of ifs,’ laments Humfreeze. He pauses for a moment as he ponders what to say. We all realise this is a tipping point and keep schtum.
‘OK. This is the deal. I want to hear everyone’s opinion on this insane suggestion. If I end up feeling that all of you are definitely in favour of this plan, I will give it a go. I will try three times and three times only. If nothing happens, I’m not doing it again, do you all understand?’
‘Thank you, Chris. That’s very gracious of you, and we really appreciate how much it cost you to say that. So, what do we all think of the plan, then? You first, Emmie.’ Mires gives Pancake a searching look.
‘Did you have to start with me, Fred?’ Pancake complains. ‘I need more time. Ask someone else.’
Mires’s stops himself from commenting that this is the first occasion to his knowledge that she has wanted more time before deciding to act.
‘I’ll come back to you then. What do you think, Bill. Are you still for the idea?’
‘Definitely. I think we have to give it a go.’
‘Pete, what do you think?’
‘Well, I’m not very happy to go down this road, but I can’t think of a better idea. I have a really strong sense there is some kind of being underneath our awareness that we absolutely need to get in touch with, so I feel we should accept Chris’s generous offer and see if he’s psychic after all.’
‘Back to you then, Emmie. I’m in favour of trying this out even though I’m anything but sure it will work. It can’t do any harm and there’s a lot at stake here, and I’ve been wrong before.’
‘Can I have that in writing, Fred, for use in future arguments?’ quips Pancake. We all laugh, glad to have an excuse to break the tension a little.
‘I’ve had time to think and I agree we should go with this idea. I find it hard to believe it will work but we’ve got nothing to lose by trying.’
‘That’s it then, Chris. I come back to you with a unanimous decision that we ask you to try.’
‘I was afraid that would be how it turned out. I said I would do it if you all agreed and I’ll stick to my word. Can you give me just a bit more time to prepare?’
We all nod and agree to meet as soon as Humfreeze lets us know he’s ready.
Coming through the open window in the heat, the sound of the milkman’s van outside wakes me up. It’s light already but far too early to get up. I turn on my other side mulling over the contents of the dream as the mist of sleep slowly blots out my thoughts.