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Piqued - A Toki Ponist Adventure
Chapter 26: That Hurst

You are reading a chapter of the novel Piqued - a Toki Ponist Adventure. The novel is part of a larger universe, explore the rest here.

sina pana e nimi pi jan sona suli tawa jan la, sina weka sona.
Toki Ponist Pu

Events in nature appear to occur in random patterns. But hidden within the complex random-looking signal may be the active push of a willful system. We see them in the more obvious bodily signals, such as glucose level or heart rate variability. In a healthy human body, the restoring mechanism acts upon itself, even though that might not be directly apparent if you look at the signal itself. High values follow low values. If the mechanism grows old or broken, its grasp weakens and the signal becomes more random. You could not detect the difference looking at the numbers, but math can. Other self-reinforcing mechanisms steer even larger values to follow large values. The effect may not be as obvious as you expect. You don’t see a sliding scale or rapid and sudden changes; it does not need to look like the number of casualties and infections of a virus pandemic. More often than not, it is unobservable.

There are situations in life that make you wonder whether you are dealing with the effects of such self-reinforcing systems at work.

Today, Tipi was having a similar experiencing, although he would not have put it in this kind of language. When the boy he met by accident on a mountain turns out to be connected to the crow men who were after his secret, it makes sense. When these people have knowledge about the neural implant, it is an almost natural co-occurrence. When the boy finds himself transported by his unruly parents to New Zealand, that may be an oddity that appeals to a simple explanation. But when one of the three stooges responsible for getting him on the mountain with the crow people and the boy who is now in New Zealand, turns out to be on a holiday in the south of Argentina, a pattern emerged that reinforces itself.

Planes leave at regular intervals for south pole flyovers. Cruises leave Patagonia to visit the southernmost inhabited islands and may take detours to the icy coastlines even more south. The signal of events seems to go to lower and lower latitudes and not restore itself. Tipi knew the conclusions were not the product of valid reasoning, but they could still be true. All paths converged towards Antartica.

Kalisa had been right all along, of course. There was both a pull and a push, and they both pointed south. A guru could not ignore the onset of the apocalypse by whatever caused it. So far nobody ran or fled because there was no place to flee to. But there is a place of such extreme cold and isolation that it might provide some safety. And there is where Tipi had to go. He had no plan, but he had one lead: the woman from the bookstore.

“The publisher has not contacted me yet,” the woman said, pre-emptively when Tipi chimed the bells again upon entering. “I think he took you for a fool. And he was right, because you are still here waiting for his message.”

“I am not,” Tipi said. “I already got in touch with the people I wanted to re-connect with.”

“Then why are you here?”

“Your son worked as a researcher on O’Killain, right?”

“If I understand where this is going, I see a lot of book sales coming my way.”

“Is he going there soon and could he maybe take me?”

“You think I can answer those questions?” she said. “I haven’t spoken to him in years.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”

“He fled to about the furthest away from me as possible on this planet.”

“Yeah, I do form a small pond of sympathy for the guy.”

“He prefers gal.”

“I prefer gals too,” Tipi said, confused.

“No, I mean he prefers to be called a gal, not a guy.”

“So your son is—“

“They are now a ‘she’, yes. A doctor She.”

“And all that played a role with you not getting along, I suppose?”

“She is what a shop full of bookcases and books are not.”

Tipi browsed in an atlas to make sure Patagonia was where he knew it was.

“If you look long enough, you can find any statement or opinion in a book. Books with the opinions you don’t like you can put somewhere far away where you don’t see them or you throw them out of the shop. You can sort books and create a collection of everything you think is beautiful.”

Patagonia was exactly where he thought it was, and it was the closest you could get from a mainland continent for traveling to O’Killain Station by boat.

“She, Tessa, is the opposite. She would dangle the worst opinions in front of me, even if she did not care for them herself. She collects ugly things and undoes other people’s sorting.”


“Mine. But she does it to everyone.”

“Why the name Tessa?”

“From the French Sans Testicles, perhaps. At birth, we named him Stuart.”

“So I cannot persuade you to call her for me.”


“Not even if I do some book shopping?”

“This goes beyond the ordinary lack of wanting to assist you in a fruitless request. This is about my life.”

“But it is also about my life,” Tipi said, walking toward the psychology and self-help section. “Look, there are some books here that you did not put away far enough.”

He picked a few books from the bookcase and dropped it on the desk. “I’ll take these,” Tipi said. “Sparkling titles,” he added. “Things I never said to my baby, A love stranger than estrangement, You can’t undo the death of your child, Turtle Thomas says Moo!”

“I’m inspired by the drawing style of the turtle book,” he explained.

“That will be 118 euros,” the woman said, putting the books in a paper bag, undeterred.

When she handed the bag over to Tipi, he said: “Before I forget, I wanted to give you something.”

“Oh?” the woman said.

“Here,” Tipi took the turtle book out of the bag and then gave the bag containing the rest of the books back to Tessa’s mother. “Those books were still in your shop. You kept them there for a reason. You sorted them so I could easily find them. Listen to yourself. Make the call.”

“With tears in her eyes, she put down the bag and picked up the phone. From memory, she dialed the number and then the floodgates opened for real.

The following hour Tipi perused the shop and with it the assorted snippets of the owner’s mind. Then suddenly there was a click of the phone and a deep exhalation that blew the dust of all the book’s dust-jackets and took all the stress out of the little bookstore.

“I’m not a woman of many words.”

“Nor friendly ones.”

“True, but I wish to thank you, anyway.”

“You’re welcome.” Tipi waited, and then it came.

“It turns out Tessa planned to go south this week with a research partner to continue their research, but also to escape the onslaught of the world. Alas, the schedule is too late for her research partner, who is now fighting for his life on an ICU.”

“That’s terrible.”

“But not for you. Unbelievable or not, but she knows you. There was an incident where you put a dirt fork on her table. Anyway, she wants you to take the place of her partner on her research mission to Antartica. You should prepare immediately, get yourself tested and suited up. The world and its regulations are changing so rapidly, it is not sure long you can still travel all over the world and to O’Killain.”

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