• Machine to Describe a Moth

    by  • December 4, 2017 • Fiction • 0 Comments

    An essay by Dr. Phillip R. Bates, as provided by J. Lee Strickland
    Art by Shannon Legler


    I found the street, although my anxiety about the city would often turn the simplest directions into a trial. It was lined with attached single homes of Gothic aspect, steep gables fronting on the street and windows with leaded panes set deep in the stone facades. The entrance to the house I sought was set to one side and raised above the street three or four feet with a stone staircase and landing leading to it. Beneath the landing, obscured by the overhanging masonry, there appeared to be a downward leading staircase and perhaps a door–a basement door of some sort, I thought.

    I looked at the note in my hand. The number was correct, but I could not bring myself to mount the stairs to the door. I was not expected. Doubts clouded my mind–to arrive unannounced at the home of a stranger–and the object of my visit was unsettling even to me. I strolled to the end of the block. The trees that lined the street gave it a pleasant air that contrasted with the dour, colorless stone of the buildings. A carriage rolled by on the avenue, the horse’s hooves echoing as it passed. I turned and made my way back, but again hesitated at the stairs. Another walk to the end of the block, and I began to feel I might be making a spectacle of myself, although no other person was in evidence.

    I reversed my course, determined now to abandon my project, when a figure emerged from the house in question–a woman, plump and short, wrapped in a heavy cloak with a market basket in her hand. She descended the stair and, without a glance in my direction, made her way toward the opposite end of the block, where she disappeared around the corner. What motivation this gave me, I don’t know, but I returned to the house, climbed the stairs, and rapped smartly on the door.

    I waited a moment. Nothing stirred. I was dressed in my best, hoping to offset any negative impression my unexpected appearance might convey. I even carried my finest cane, its ebony shaft tipped with a chased silver boss, the silver grip fashioned as the head of a bird. I used the cane to knock on the door. I imagined I heard activity inside, but the door remained closed. I was about to knock one last time, when the door opened a crack. The crack widened. Fingers curled around to grip the edge of the door as it continued to move until it had reached its full swing.

    The person who opened the door was dressed elegantly–his attire rivaled my own–but no veneer of elegance could mask the strange form of this human who stood before me. He was short–no more than four and a half feet tall–broad at the shoulders with a barrel chest. His legs and arms were foreshortened, giving him a comic disproportion. His head, perched on that unlikely torso, was enormous, his eyes bulging, luminous orbs. The pleasing bilateral symmetry that defines us as humans was in him distorted and confused. From head to foot, he was like a puzzle badly assembled.

    “I am sorry. My housekeeper just stepped out. How can I help you?” His voice had a hollow quality like an echo, and it did not seem to issue directly from his mouth, but from the side, like some ventriloquist’s trick.

    “I’m looking for Dr. Monard. I hope I’ve come to the right place.”

    “I am Dr. Monard.”

    Taken by the unsettling quality of his voice, I hesitated. I had my card in hand, and I offered it to him. The card was modest, just my name followed by a sprinkling of my academic titles, and beneath that, “Patents Consultant.”

    “My name is Phillip Bates. Please forgive my calling unannounced. I have a matter of some importance I’d like to discuss with you.”

    He looked up from the card to my face. His eyes seemed to grow larger. “Is this some sort of solicitation?” He made no attempt to hide his irritation.

    “No, Sir,” I cried. “I assure you it is not.” In my naiveté, I had not imagined that I might make such an impression. I gripped my cane with both hands, a kind of supplicating gesture. He seemed to focus on the cane, stared at it, silent for a few moments.

    “Please come inside, Mr. Bates.”

    I stepped inside, and he proceeded to close the door. He struggled with it, but I resisted the urge to reach out, fearing that my gesture might be misconstrued.

    The foyer was broad, and ahead a stairway led to a second floor. A hallway beside it led toward the rear of the residence.

    “Please come with me,” Monard said.

    He showed me into the first room off the hallway, a beautifully appointed sitting room with windows fronting on the street. Though it was daylight, the sky had threatened rain most of the day, and several gas lamps whispered, giving the room a cozy, warm glow. I set my hat and cloak on a wooden chair next to the door and followed Monard to a pair of chairs near the windows. He sat facing me, expectant, I would say, although the oddness of his appearance made him difficult to read. I decided to state my case without further ceremony.

    “Let me get right to the point,” I said. “I work for the Office of Patents. Not as an employee, mind you, but as an independent consultant. Few people realize that the explosion of technological advances in the past few years–especially in novel applications of steam, hydraulics, and miniaturization–has overwhelmed the Patent Office. To counter this, they have developed a network of consultants, screeners ultimately, who are the first to look at new applications. We pass them on to the Office with our criticisms and recommendations.” I paused, trying to judge the effect of my words. His expression remained unchanged.

    “I should note that our reviews are completely anonymous. We receive only the technical material for review. The applicant’s identity is kept from us to prevent any bias. If it were known that I was here talking to you in this regard, I would likely get no more work from the Patent Office. I might be exposed as well to further difficulties.”

    “If the process is anonymous, then how did you find me?” he asked. “And why did you take the risk?”

    “That’s the strange part. Of the thousands of patent applications the Office receives each month, I review but a few. The probability that I would see more than one application from a single individual seems quite small, unless of course, that individual were submitting hundreds or thousands of applications.”

    A jagged, toothy smile spread across Monard’s face. “I assure you all my applications are carefully researched and confirmed through repeated experiment. And they do not number in the hundreds, or even in the dozens.”

    “When I saw your latest–and I’m quite sure it is yours–on biomechanics, I saw in it the same brilliant mind that had authored the patent for the long-distance hydraulic communications device, the hydraulic keyboard/printing device, and the multiplexing machine that allows those devices to be interconnected to form networks. These have already revolutionized communications. I reviewed them all–an implausible four applications from you by my count.”

    He nodded. “Given what you’ve told me, I too am amazed. You have seen all my patents but one, and that a minor one for a novel method of textile production using a single thread. A kind of hyperbolic crochet, I called it.”

    “During my research to discover your identity, I had the luck to read your monograph on trinary math and logic–a work of genius.”

    “Ah, yes. I leave that to others.” His eyelids worked rapidly across his bulging, luminous eyes. “As you have seen, I prowl a different frontier now.” He clasped his hands across the barrel of his chest, and his feet swung back and forth beneath the chair in a gesture that was almost child-like.

    Just then, I heard the front door open.

    “Good,” Monard said. “I am such an inadequate host. I depend on Mrs. Brookes for everything.” He hopped from his chair and made his way to the open door of the sitting room. He tilted from side to side as he walked, like some mechanical toy, threatening, it seemed, to tip on his side at any moment. “Mrs. Brookes,” he said, as she came abreast of the doorway. “We have company. Could you come in once you have settled your things?”

    He came back to his chair. “I am beginning to understand how you found me, but you have yet to tell me why you sought me out.”

    “Dr. Monard, I am good at my job because I have a passing familiarity with the breadth of the mechanical sciences, both their foundation and, with some effort, their latest discoveries.” I leaned back in my chair, the plush fabric cushioning my back.” I am of the opinion that there are great and unmapped forces in the universe. I think that some of those forces have conspired to bring us together. For what purpose, I don’t know, but I am here.”

    Monard was nodding his head in vigorous assent. “I too believe that science has barely scratched the surface of what the universe has to offer. Those unmapped forces that you mentioned? They interest me a great deal. I see signs of their activity often in my daily dealings. For example, I would have closed the door on you today if I had not noticed your cane. The grip is the head of a nighthawk, is it not?”

    I looked at the cane. “I’m afraid taxonomy is not a strength of mine. I would have said a bird.”

    “You may not be familiar with the characteristics of nighthawks, but the artist who fashioned your cane certainly was. It is an exquisite rendering.” He had reached between us to retrieve the cane. He turned it slowly in his hands. “Nighthawks, as the name implies, are nocturnal. They feed on nocturnal insects, mostly moths. Moths, as you know, are one of my specialties.” He set the cane back in its place. “It might be a coincidence, but I have learned not to ignore the possibility of signs.”

    Mrs. Brookes came in, and Monard turned his attention to her.

    “Mrs. Brookes. Mr. Bates has honored us with a visit. I am sorry I could not have given you more notice.” He turned back to me. “Bates, would you enjoy a whiskey? It is my time of day, and I am sure Mrs. Brookes will not mind pouring two.”

    Twilight had settled in, and the warm glow of the room conspired to make the offer irresistible. I nodded my assent as Mrs. Brookes turned toward the liquor cabinet.

    “And Mr. Bates will be joining me for supper,” Monard said.

    “I couldn’t impose,” I said immediately.

    “Nonsense. Mrs. Brookes has promised pigeon pie tonight. She makes the best pigeon pie of anyone. Tell Mr. Bates what makes your pigeon pie so special,” he said.

    “What makes it special is you like it so much,” Mrs. Brookes said as she poured two glasses of whiskey.

    “Yes, yes.” Monard’s delight in the exchange was evident. “But tell him the secret. The secret that makes it so good.”

    “It’s no secret,” she said addressing me as she handed me my glass. “The Doctor likes to call it a secret, but it’s not.” She smiled. “I just don’t put no pigeon in the pie.”

    Monard clapped his hands and emitted a sound that must have been a laugh. “Whatever else you may gain from this visit, Bates, it will not compare to Mrs. Brookes’ pigeon pie.”

    Mrs. Brookes blushed. “I’d better get to work,” she said, “or there’ll be nothing to eat but bread and butter.” As she left the room she picked up my hat and cloak. “I’ll hang these up for you, Mr. Bates,” she said.

    I sipped my whiskey and returned to the remarks Dr. Monard had made about moths.

    “I gathered from my reading of your latest patent application that you had become expert in lepidopterans, and particularly the moths.” I paused as I considered how to proceed. “There was something in your application that I found–” I hesitated. “I’m not sure what word to use, but disturbing will do. I was struck by your assertion that in the pupa stage of lepidopterans, the creature literally liquefies, that it loses all particularity. Were it not for my having recognized signs of your previous brilliant work, I would have rejected the application out of hand. As it was, the opposite occurred. I felt compelled to seek you out, to hear from your own lips how such an outlandish thing might occur. I felt that if this is true–that a creature could completely dissociate, dissolve, and then reconstitute itself in some more complex form–that would have profound implications for our understanding of life itself.”

    “The controversy surrounding the final stage of metamorphosis is longstanding,” Monard said. “The problem has been, any attempted intervention interrupted the life-cycle and destroyed the pupa. It was believed that the observed liquefaction might be a result of the intervention itself–some rapid oxidation or other unknown chemical reaction. By inserting a very small lens into the cocoon at the time of its formation, I was able to observe the progress of the pupa without destroying it. I was able to observe repeatedly the entire amazing process.” He set down his glass and, grasping both arms of his chair, levered himself back into a more comfortable position. He retrieved his whiskey and continued. “It was when one of those tiny lenses accidently became incorporated into a mature insect that I realized that I might be able to introduce deliberate mechanical enhancements in the pupal stage that would be fully integrated in the adult insect. Thus commenced the study that led to the most recent patent application.” He swirled the whiskey in his glass and held it at the level of his eyes–those amazing eyes.

    “Of course, it was not so simple. The first accidental success was just that–an accident. Subsequently, some of my attempts would be incorporated, but in ways that made them useless. Sometimes their inclusion proved fatal to the creature. A piece of the puzzle was missing, and it was that part of the process that most interests you. I had to put the whole of my effort into the mystery of the metamorphosis, for without understanding it, I could not control it.”

    “But you did it,” I said. “You deciphered the process?” I had slid to the edge of my chair, my body tensed with anticipation.

    Mrs. Brookes came in, breaking the spell. “Pigeon pie, gentlemen. Come sit at the table like civilized folk.” She set a large tray on a table in the corner next to the fireplace and pulled out two chairs. Monard needed no urging, and the seductive aroma of the food beckoned me along.

    The food was extraordinary, and Mrs. Brookes had uncorked a delightful claret to keep it company. The conversation turned to lighter topics, and we discovered that our times at University had overlapped by a pair of years. Monard, ahead of me, was immersed in Advanced Etherics while I was still pursuing my degree in Philosophy, not yet seduced by the Mechanical Sciences.

    At the end of the meal, we returned to our seats, brandy in hand. I could not remember enjoying such a delightful repast in such fascinating company, and I basked in the warmth of it until Monard broke the silence.

    “I have instructed Mrs. Brookes to prepare a room for you. I am sure you have some plan for the night, but we have much to discuss and our exchange will be ill-served by you worrying about your schedule.”

    I had not made any accommodations. I had not thought beyond the moment when I would knock on his door. “Dr. Monard, please. You have been so generous with your hospitality–”

    Again, he waved me off. “I trust you, Bates”, he said. “I detect in you a solitary man like myself. What I am about to tell you must, for the time being, remain just between us.”

    I nodded my assent.

    “Have you ever wondered about the location of the mind?”

    I didn’t know what to make of the question. “The mind?” I asked.

    “Yes, Bates, the mind. The you that cogitates, the you that thinks, the you that ruminates, that reflects.”

    “Why, in my head, I guess.”

    “Quite so.” He nodded. “Most think of it as being in the head. And yet we have all had so-called gut feelings. We have expressed heart-felt sympathies and gratitude. We recognize through our language that feeling and intuition–kinds of thought–can seem to inhabit places other than our heads.”

    He shifted in his seat. He seemed always to be seeking some elusive place of comfort, elusive perhaps because of his own misshapen body. “I’ve studied this, and I’ve made a remarkable discovery.” He sipped his brandy, watching me over the rim of the glass. “You’re familiar with the cellular theory of vital function, I presume.”

    I nodded without speaking, not wanting to interrupt the flow of his disquisition.

    “All life is built up of cells, from the unicellular to the most complex multi-cellular plants and animals. My research has led me to the conclusion that Mind resides in every living cell–and here I give it a capital M.”

    The claim was nearly incomprehensible. What could he mean by this? “How–”

    He stopped me with a wave. “Save your questions. Allow me to continue.” He got down from his chair and retrieved the brandy carafe. “Here, let me freshen your brandy.”

    He poured brandy into my glass. It looked like a liquefied gemstone as it danced in the steady light of the gas lamps. I sat back in my chair and waited.

    “I had come to an impasse in my attempts to create the biomechanical hybrids I thought possible. I had the occasional tantalizing success, but far outweighed by failures. It was pure serendipity that I came across an ethnographic article on the use of the psilocybes fungus in certain cultures. Are you at all familiar with the fungus, Bates?”

    I shifted uncomfortably at this second instance where I must plead a lack of knowledge. “As I said before, Doctor, my strength is in mechanics. I haven’t invested great thought into nature.”

    “Ah, but the mechanics of nature–that is the most fascinating. Creatures smaller than the head of a pin that can fly. Creatures larger than this house that swim the vast expanses of the oceans–”

    He hesitated, reproach and perhaps condescension in that pause. I certainly deserved such, given my avowed ignorance of such wonders. I knew of them. I knew nothing about them. I offered no further defense, and Monard returned to the fungus.

    “The psilocybes fungus is employed in many cultures in religious and quasi-religious ceremonies, in healing practices, and by shamans the world around who claim it to be a gateway to specialized knowledge. The author of the article I read used the term ‘mind-expanding’ to describe it. It was this language that triggered something in me.” He paused and sipped his brandy, his gaze seemingly fixed on some indefinite point in space. “I had long speculated on what sort of organizing principle could be at work in the murky stew of the pupa to bring it to its mature form. I suspected that, in that soup, were some cells that had not been destroyed in the cataclysmic dissociation of the creature, and that those cells somehow knew how to organize the materia prima at hand.” He turned to me as if he’d rediscovered my presence in the room. “Am I making sense to you, Bates?”

    “Your logic is clear,” I said. “I see the sense of it, but I don’t see the connection–”

    He waved me into silence. “In what sense could a cell be said to know?” He answered his own question. “If the cell had a mind, like you and I. I prepared a tincture of the psilocybes fungus and applied it to my experimental pupas–an attempt to expand the mind I suspected was present. I won’t tire you with details of the refinements I had to make. Let me just say, the results were astounding. With the addition of the tincture, whatever material I introduced was seamlessly incorporated into the adult form. It was as if my own intentions were read directly into the process.”

    “That is amazing doctor, but I have to ask, how can you be so certain that Mind is at work in this process?”

    “Because the cells themselves told me,” he said.

    This assertion left me speechless. I was not dealing with some lunatic dragged from a back alley. Dr. Monard had many times demonstrated his genius in his contributions to advance society, and yet here he was claiming to converse with individual cells floating randomly in the liquefied remains of an immature insect. He watched me in silence, no doubt gauging the effect his statement had on me. Finally, he spoke.

    “I am going to ask one more indulgence of you, Mr. Bates. Doubtless you found my last statement a bit strange.” He smiled his crooked smile. “You will find it perhaps more strange when I say I do not possess words adequate to the task of explaining it. Rather I would like to show you directly what I have seen for myself. Would you be interested?”

    “If it will help to enlighten me on the substance of your research, I am eager to participate.”

    “I will ask you to ingest a small amount of my tincture. It is made from my finest brandy, the same that you are drinking now. You may detect in it the flavor of the additional substance, but it is not unpleasant. I speak with authority on that.”

    He moved to a small cabinet against the far wall and extracted a brown bottle. He took my glass and used a pipette to add to it a measure of liquid from the bottle. To this he added brandy from the carafe. I took a sip, interested to see how the flavor might have changed.

    “No need to hurry this,” he said. “You will notice the effects once you have ingested sufficient. In the meantime, let me show you one of my hybrids.”

    He brought out a glass-sided box, perhaps a foot or so square. Inside was a large moth. Its wings moved up and down a few times as he set the box on the table between us. The moth was alive.

    “Notice the forelimbs,” Monard said.

    I leaned close to the box, and the moth turned as if to accommodate my view. I could see on either side of the thorax glints of metal where the front legs would be.

    “I had those crafted by a watchmaker to my specifications. They articulate exactly as their organic counterparts. The moth’s forelimbs are encased in them. In addition, they can be actuated hydraulically using the same fluid the moth uses to expand its wings when it emerges from the cocoon. The hydraulics give it a great strength advantage, and the mechanics are completely integrated into the living creature, completely biologic. They are part of its body.”

    As I watched, the moth moved to a tray of liquid in a corner of the box, extended its proboscis and drank. I sat back in my chair and sipped my brandy. “Dr. Monard, I am humbled to be witness to the wonders you have accomplished. From here the possibilities seem literally limitless.” As I said it, they did indeed seem limitless. Vision after vision flashed through my mind of practical applications for the technique, each one analyzed and catalogued as quickly as it appeared, and as quickly as I catalogued one, another would appear. The projections became more complex, more involved, and the analysis more calculated, but I approached each one with clarity and confidence, a mounting feeling of deep understanding filling me with each passing moment.

    Suddenly my sight fragmented into a thousand pieces. I had been looking at nothing, my whole self absorbed in my ruminations on Monard’s biomechanical hybrids, but what I saw now seemed like a variegated mosaic of light fragments, each one a blurry edged hexagon. As I forced my concentration into play, I realized I could make out bits of the room in the fragments. Adjoining fragments had similar but not quite identical bits displayed. I was able to build up a picture of the room piece by piece. I saw Monard, but from what seemed an odd perspective, as if I were looking up at him. I saw the windows, dark now that night had fallen. I became so immersed in the mechanics of this new vision system that I did not question the strangeness of it until I saw myself–that is, until I found myself looking up at myself as I had looked up at Monard, me slack-jawed, still staring at nothing. Beyond me, mounted on the wall, a gas lamp glowed. I felt an unnerving desire to move toward it.

    As quickly as it happened, my fragmented vision disappeared. My normal sight returned. As I contemplated my hands at rest in my lap, comparing their articulations to the hydraulic articulations of the moth’s legs, Monard spoke.

    “Quite amazing, the moth’s perspective, don’t you think?” he said, except he employed a new ventriloquist’s trick. This time his voice was inside my head.

    Art for "Machine to Describe a Moth"

    “Moths, as you know, are one of my specialties.”

    I looked up from my hands. Monard’s chin rested on his chest. His eyes were closed. He appeared to be asleep.

    “Let’s look somewhere else, Bates,” said the voice in my head. “I do not find myself to be a pleasant sight, not from the perspective of a moth, and certainly not from the perspective of a fellow scientist.”

    I had not yet formulated my next thought into words when Monard responded to it. “We do not take up space in the shared environment of Mind because we always share this place. You have simply become aware of that. I know it can be exhausting and overwhelming, so let us rest a bit.”

    Monard’s head came up. His eyes opened, and a version of a smile spread across the tortured landscape of his face. At the same time, I felt an absence where his voice had been, a vague emptiness I could not define. I was suffused with a sense of understanding, of clarity, but that sense would not crystallize into words, and I felt myself more spectator than participant in my own being.

    “You are remarkably receptive, Bates.” Monard’s voice had returned to the vicinity of his mouth. “I congratulate you. I hope you have had a glimpse of what I wished to explain.”

    I could only nod. Lethargy weighed upon every part of my body.

    ~

    I must have dozed. When I awoke, I was alone in the sitting room. I tried to sort out what had occurred. The illusion–I can only believe that’s what it was–was complete. Through the medium of his tincture and with further subtle suggestions, Monard had created in me the feeling that I occupied the body of the moth, even to being able to see myself as from a distance. He had enhanced that illusion with his own voice, as if he shared my body with me. It was a remarkable experience. I looked to the table. My brandy glass was still there, the dregs of the tincture at its bottom. The tincture was powerful, I thought. The intensity of the experience had exhausted me. My limbs felt like lead.

    The moth was gone, and in its place was a piece of note paper, folded in half with “Mr. Bates” written on it. I opened the paper and read:

     

    Dear Mr. Bates,

    Thank you for your visit. I do not remember when I took such delight in the company of another. I thank those invisible (and, certainly, not blind!) forces of the universe that chose to bring us together on this day, for I have just reached a critical phase in my own experiments, and your presence has inspired me to move forward. Unfortunately, I will not be available to attend you. In fact, I will be unavailable for a few weeks; however, I will be in contact with you the moment I return. I promise I will have amazing results to reveal, results that will be worth the wait. In the meantime, please enjoy your stay. Your room is prepared. Mrs. Brookes will attend to your every need. My home is yours for as long as you like.

    Yours truly,

    Angus Monard

     

    How strange that Monard would leave me alone in his house, asleep in a chair no less. I contemplated the situation and realized I could not remain there in his absence. I pulled myself from the chair. I was light-headed, not quite in control of my motor functions–a lingering effect of the tincture, I guessed. I needed to find my hat and cloak. Mrs. Brookes had taken them and hung them somewhere.

    I made my way to the hall. The house was silent. I listened at the bottom of the stairs, but heard nothing. If Mrs. Brookes was still awake, the back of the house seemed the better bet. If she was not, I had no wish to disturb her. Just beyond the stairs and beneath them I noticed an open door. Inside, stairs led downward, to a basement. Perhaps Mrs. Brookes was down there. Why else the open door? I started down the stairs. I still did not trust my balance and clung to the rail mounted on the wall. The room below was well-lit and devoid of clutter, but when I reached the bottom, I was confronted with a sight that made me forget my search for Mrs. Brookes.

    From a beam close to the far wall, there hung what appeared to be a cloth sack the size of a man, and behind it some gleaming, mechanical apparatus. As I approached I could see limb-like appendages with hooked ends ranging on either side of the sack – eight or ten of them, the whole thing looking spider-like. The hyperbolic crochet machine, I thought. It must have produced the sack. From the top of the sack, a small brass tube extended upward, then across the beam and back down to a second object, this one clearly some sort of cocoon, perhaps of a moth similar to the one Monard had shown me.

    I turned back to the sack. I reached out and touched it. It was soft, but unyielding. Something stirred inside. Suddenly my sight was gone, as if I had closed my eyes though I had not. The disorientation harkened to my experience under the influence of the tincture. Could I still be in its sway? I forced my eyes open, for I found that they were indeed closed. The whole world was gauzy, indistinct, as if I wore a heavy veil.

    “Bates, I did not expect a visit from you!”

    It was Monard’s voice, as close as my own thoughts. I felt his presence–not beside me or near me, but within me–an indivisible intimacy. And I felt another presence, equally intimate, that expressed itself not in words, but in shapes, forms, processes, teleologies.

    “What a fine trio we make!” Monard said, but the words had the quality of my own thought. “I take this as a sign–the true meaning of our meeting. When I return, or should I say, when you return my body to me, we will both be witness to a wondrous transformation, as amazing as that from caterpillar to moth. Thank you my friend. I know you will understand.”

    He was gone.

    Even with my compromised vision, I sensed that I must be within the cocoon-like sack that hung from the beam. I strove to free myself from the sack, but the very architecture of the body I inhabited seemed alien to me. My robust, fear-fed impulses returned only feeble quivers in my extremities. I was not alone, I realized, and those gross motor functions had already surrendered to a finer, more nuanced process. I felt a loosening, a lightening, a liberation, as all around me, all through me, cells obeyed the wordless commands of the presence within me.


    Dr. Phillip R. Bates is a patents inspector working under contract for the Office of Patents. He is also available as a technical consultant. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Nottingwood College, an M.A. in Dialectics, M.S. in Applied Technology, and a PhD. in Advanced Etherics, all from Caledon University. His broad knowledge of steam technology, hydraulics, and miniaturization, as well as machine theory, makes him uniquely suited to assist in the development of projects that broaden both our practical and theoretical understanding of the universe.


    J. Lee Strickland is a freelance writer living in upstate New York. In addition to fiction, he has written on the subjects of rural living, modern homesteading and voluntary simplicity. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sixfold, Atticus Review, Icarus Down Review, Latchkey Tales, Scarlet Leaf Review, Workers Write!, Pure Slush, Small Farm Journal, and others. He served as a judge for the 2015 and 2016 storySouth Million Writers Awards. He is at work on a collection of connected short stories vaguely similar in format to the long-defunct American television series, Naked City, but without the salacious title.


    Shannon’s professional title is “illustrator,” but that’s just a nice word for “monster-maker,” in this case. More information about them can be found at http://shannonlegler.carbonmade.com/.


    “Machine to Describe a Moth” is © 2017 J. Lee Strickland
    Art accompanying story is © 2017 Shannon Legler

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