Fiction: The Butterfly Dragon: A Piano, A Full Glass And The Disappearance Of Time by Brian Joseph Johns

200 Sherbourne Street #701, Toronto, ON Canada

Warning: This story deals with some mature situations. Reader discretion is advised.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Author's Preface

This novella/short fiction is about one of the characters from the book The Butterfly Dragon I: Heroes Of Our Own. A character named Alicia Westin, who is a brilliant Biochemist and Quantum Biologist in the cutting edge of biological research.

This is perhaps one of my personal favourite stories from the Butterfly Dragon series that focuses on Alicia's pursuit of both comprehension and understanding in the face of the Quantum based mystery of the SY349. Please read on, there's much to be understood not to mention a great and inspiring story.

During the course of the story in The Butterfly Dragon I: Heroes Of Our Own, Alicia creates a two phase formula consisting of an ingested medical capsule (SY349A) that must be taken by the recipient, and a spray (SY349B) that is applied to any sort of garment that is within close contact of the body such as clothing or jewelry. The formula of Alicia's creation for the company that she's employed at that time (Tynan And Associates) allows the effects upon the body of the SY349A to be affected by the artistic and aesthetic design of whatever the SY349B is applied to. In other words, for the first time in medical history Alicia Westin has somehow integrated the subjectivity of the observer of the collapse of the wave function in the Quantum Mechanical interpretation of the universe as a part of the medical treatment itself. That is that the medical treatment and its effectiveness is influenced in an almost Placebo like manner by the subjectivity of the person receiving the treatment as influenced by the artistic design of element of whatever the SY349B is applied.

For Alicia this proves to be a conundrum that violates the very foundations of the fabric of reality that finds it's root in a long standing argument held by Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr with regard to the impact of the observer upon the unfolding of reality. Bohr's interpretation of the mathematics and the results of experimentation deemed that consciousness has a probabilistic influence upon the nature of reality while Einstein himself is quoted as saying that "God did not play dice with the universe". Bohr casually replied "Stop telling God what to do". In other words two of the most brilliant Physicists and Mathematicians were confounded as to the influence of subjectivity upon the proceedings of the unfolding of the universe and hence reality itself.

Alicia, a physical scientist herself though amazed by what she'd discovered somehow felt betrayed by this invisible "God" of the universe that in fact was actually quite democratic in how (she'd? he'd? they'd?) allowed reality to evolve. After all, if subjectivity is the prime factor in every branch point with regard to every energetic interaction whose outcome has a dual outcome of variable degrees hidden between the mystery of the Planck scale (the smallest of any measurement that we can make whether it be space, time or energy), then we all have an effect upon reality and very obviously a great responsibility in as much. Our influence is hidden somewhere in the mysteries of the Planck scale.

The data had confounded Alicia. Was this the nature of reality? What was going on in that mysterious and ever hidden scale that Max Planck had theorized and eventually proven existed to our limits of knowledge. For Alicia the answer that the mystery was somehow hidden somewhere between the smallest measurements physical scientists could make was just not good enough. And so it was that Alicia struggled with understanding the formula she'd invented that had somehow transformed her and all of those with which had been treated. Her answers though would only lead to more questions but sometimes in life, the answer is not an answer at all, but merely the asking of the right question.

2021 Update: This story takes place before The Butterfly Dragon II: What Different Eyes See, and introduces us to some of the key characters that appear in the two sequels after Heroes Of Our Own. This story focuses on Doctor Alicia Westin and her dream of meeting and speaking with one of her life inspirations, Professor Bryce Maxwell. Its a bite sized story with much breadth and depth and serves as the inspiration for what eventually became What Different Eyes See. I have done very little in the way of editing since having written it in the summer of 2016. With so much on my plate, I won't return to it any time soon, but it certainly is on my list of things to do. The most I could give in this way was by updating the title picture seeing as it coincided with my work on the Vietnam Special Addition of What Different Eyes See. I do hope you enjoy.

Brian Joseph Johns

A Piano, A Full Glass And The Disappearance Of Time

Looking Glass

She stepped through the beaded doorway and into the lounge, a dimly lit recluse for those more interested in good conversation amidst the backdrop of the cerebral tickling of piano keys. A variety of tables and booths were (artistically? strategically?) distributed throughout the lounge, most being occupied by those deep in engaging banter. The sound of the piano had presence yet it did not intrude upon her or any of the audience's front line conscious space. Instead it laid down a path offering a turn here, or a glance there giving the room its complete ambiance. Giving it space where it lacked dimension and time in the absence of anticipation. Adding pastels for the auditory senses.

Alicia stepped as quietly as she could trying not to upset the mood, yet still making her way towards her quarry on this night. Her shoulder length magenta highlighted golden hair responded to the colored lighting giving her the appearance of a brilliant angel. She was not a vixen though her body was sleek and fit, perhaps even as much as that of an Olympian athlete. She'd not earned it through a strict regimen of exercise but  rather as a result of her own brilliance. She was one of the Scientific pioneers of Quantum Biology, a field which sought to explain and exploit the relationship between Biology and the Quantum interpretation of matter, energy, time and space. After years of research and development at Tynan And Associates, the company which owned the research lab - she had a breakthrough. The SY349 as she'd dubbed it. Aptly with the initials of one of her deceased mentors followed by a number, indicating the number of development cycles it had taken to arrive at that version of the formula. A formula which targeted and modified the human genome using copies of itself that were taken from alternate pocket universes in two directions of time. It was a front runner treatment that was being developed for dealing with degenerative diseases such as Lymphoma-Hodgkins and Muscular Dystrophy. At the genetic level it could defeat even hereditary Cancer. It worked by allowing the RNA messenger used to build a genetic sequence during cellular mitosis access to a gene copy that was taken from completely different universe, but from the same organism. A copy of the genome that was taken from a version of one's self that was in a much better genetic state.

On the night she'd received the reports from the test lab that ninety five percent of the cancerous lab animals treated with the SY349 had no signs of Cancer within a month of the application of the treatment. It had been tested in a variety of biology simulations of the human body as well with the same results. The SY349 was the beginning of a whole new era in treatment and with Alicia having spent her whole life developing it, she decided on that fateful night to test it on herself. Irresponsibly but she'd done it nonetheless. It had turned her from a slightly out of shape Scientist and researcher into an Olympic class athlete over the course of an hour. Her body literally transformed before her eyes (and very painfully) to change her into this new ideal visage of which she was not accustomed.

She hadn't developed the treatment to cure weight problems or neglect of the body. Instead she'd targeted degenerative diseases and Cancer itself by giving the body the ability to recall from an infinite quantum library of backups of the original DNA from the first stem cells in a patient's own body. Essentially the chemical components and the RNA itself was not only referring to the existing DNA of the cell, but to another copy of the DNA hidden in a parallel universe only detectable at the molecular level by the use of chemistry and quantum mechanics. Furthermore the effectiveness of this transmogrification as she'd coined it could be affected by something she'd referred to in her paper as the artist's effect. The ability to shape the cure according to the aesthetics of whatever the cure and formula itself was applied to. The fact that this could occur at all had enormous implications for science and medicine that were as significant as the placebo effect if not even more critical to the healing process. It was for this reason that she's arrived here on this night.

Her dinner jacket and skirt hugged her body to just above her knees, compelling to those who appreciated the fine curves and subtle beauty that graced every woman's body. Alicia was most certainly intellectually seductive though seduction was the last thought on her mind. She'd save that for later, perhaps sneaking into bed at home where her spouse Walton Norler would be waiting for her. For now she pursued the world of quantum mystery.

Norler had encouraged her to do this. He'd been with Alicia long enough to know how much she loved her work. A gifted researcher. Her obsessive long nights going over the atomic bonds of the molecules she'd constructed in one of her many thought experiments. Their interactions with proteins and amino acids and the resultant impact they had upon the process of cellular mitosis. He did his best to discuss her work with her but often it just went over his head. Norler was certainly apt, though his abilities as such tended to shine in investment strategy, finance and the boardroom. He'd known that she'd needed someone with whom she could speak about her work. Someone who could understand her and challenge her. He knew that she needed that in order to grow and so his concern for her put him to task.

He'd been going over an investment quarterly in his office one day when he spied a column written about one of her university heroes, Bryce Maxwell. As a Professor and lead researcher, he'd been one of Alicia's inspirations early on and perhaps the one who'd pointed the way to her breakthrough in Quantum Transmogrification. When Alicia and Norler had began dating, she'd often bring up Maxwell's name in conversation. Excitedly and enthusiastically. At first he'd thought that it might have been a university crush but after he'd gotten to know her, he realized that this was one of her heroes.

The article he'd come across had listed Maxwell's past research projects as well as his extracurricular activities. Bryce Maxwell it turned out was also a concert and lounge pianist who'd gigged for years in the city. In the column Bryce had plugged his current venue at the Looking Glass Lounge, a small but popular venue in the city. Norler had called the lounge himself reserving a table for Alicia up front and close to the piano. The rest was up to her.

For the week before her reservation, she'd played down the whole thing though inside she was deeply excited. On that night she'd prepared her most important paper notes and put them in her journal beside her tablet computer. Heylyn had even coordinated with Norler and had sent Alicia one of her recent evening wear designs, especially customized for her Night Style alter ego should her presence be required. She stood before the mirror examining herself.

"How do I look?" Alicia asked Norler who admired from down the hall.

"You look stunning. How do you feel?" Norler asked her.

"Great honey." she turned away from the mirror and approached him wrapping her arms around him.

"Thank you." she whispered in her ear planting a soft kiss on his lips.

"Enjoy yourself honey. I'll be here if you need me." Norler said brushing his lips over hers gently so as not to mess up her makeup.

"Don't wait up. Keep my side of the bed warm if you can..." Alicia said to him as she grabbed her journal and slipped out the door.

Alicia found her reservation and seated herself a short distance from the stage where Bryce already sat playing a quiet instrumental and clearly enjoying himself. The waiter arrived, taking her order of gin and tonic. As he finished the piece he turned to see Alicia, and threw her a wink. She blushed as the applause filled the lounge. Bryce stood bowing before taking a seat behind the microphone on the piano. Alicia's waiter brought her gin and tonic and placed it gingerly on the table.

"You know. Long before I'd started my long career in quantum research, I'd always had this idea that one day I'd be an instrumentalist. A pianist actually. Imagine that. So what a coincidence it is to be here playing this gig. Behind a fourteen foot grand piano, though a twelve footer would have done nicely too. Life really is a big string of coincidences. One connecting to another and so on. That, actually is what the world of quantum physics is all about. Coincidences, though coincidence tends to take on a different meaning depending upon which side of the event you're on. Before, during or after it. Especially if you remove time altogether which many have tried to do if only to make sense of it. I guess there's no time like the present. So that's my next piece. Maybe its a coincidence. Maybe not. You'll have to decide..." Bryce started the piece as he finished his sentence.

Alicia's smile stretched from ear to ear mulling over what he'd just said. Was he talking to her? After all she was there to discuss quantum physics with one of the foremost theorists and researchers in her field. How'd he know she was here to discuss such a thing with him. She blushed again slightly as she pulled herself together retrieving her notes from her notebook journal. She fished through her tablet bringing up the files she wanted to share where she waited for the opportunity to do so enjoying the music.

Alicia took a moment to look around the room recognizing some fellow researchers and other fans of Bryce. There was Nelson Tanner, a biologist from Montreal who'd had successes against melanoma via gene therapy. She recognized Zheng Ni Wong, a lady and popular researcher who'd just received her Doctor's degree from the University of Toronto. Her thesis had been about the artificial stimulation of mitosis and "temporal skewing" of a cell's internal clock. Katya and Victor Piotr sat in a booth just across from her. They were husband and wife research team who'd emigrated from Russia to New York where they'd worked with phages. They'd published a paper on the fact that phages could be used to accelerate the delivery of medicines through the bloodstream directly, acting as carriers for the treatments. They both waved upon recognizing Alicia. She waved back politely as Bryce's piece finished. There was a moment of applause as Bryce once again spoke into the mic.

"Thank you very much. Coincidence? I think not for there's more to this journey than meets the eye. Ask any physicist or philosopher and they'll confirm it, be they speaking of Bosons or even Bozos, but we didn't bring the lab with us tonight did we?" Bryce posed for the audience.

"Just play the piano and let the real physicists do the work!" came a response from one of Bryce's academic peers in the audience.

"I guess we can leave the bosons in the lab, but there's no getting rid of the bozos. I guess maybe that's because they're gluons. Or really glued on. If any of you out there discover some new elementary particles, be sure to use the suffix off rather than on..." Bryce replied without losing a step.

The audience broke out in laughter and a ripe smile stretched across the heckler's face. Alicia even found herself laughing and feeling very much at home all of the sudden.

"I'm going to take a short break and enjoy the company of some of my peers. I hope you're enjoying your evening here at the Looking Glass Lounge and it looks like our Alice for the evening has arrived. So I guess that either makes me the Chesire Cat." with those words Bryce stepped down from the stage signalling Alicia that he'd be right back.

She watched him with interest as he made his way over to the bar where they'd prepared a drink for him. He took a moment and shook hands with another one of his peers before making his way back over to Alicia's table.

"...or the Mad Hatter?" Alicia suggested to her idol and peer, Professor Bryce Maxwell.

"Alicia Westin. To what occasion do I owe this wonderful surprise?" Bryce addressed her.

"Uhhh, Mr Maxwell. You remember me from the talk I gave a few years ago on Quantum Transmogrification at the University Of Waterloo don't you? I mean you've already accomplished so much in your career and life, especially in the field of quantum biology. " Alicia asked him.

"Do you mind if I join you?" Bryce asked her candidly.

"I was hoping you would! Please do!" she said awkwardly standing as he seated himself.

"You didn't come all the way down here to the Looking Glass to speak about quantum physics did you?" he asked her.

"Well... you see I've always had a fantasy that we'd meet some day and..." Alicia began.

"...fantasy can be such a misunderstood word sometimes. So many use it to implicate sexuality where as it can mean something so friendly and intimate as a good conversation. Right?" Bryce spoke easing her tension a bit.

"Exactly! This is a little cliche in some ways, but its important." Alicia assured him.

"Most certainly it is. I've met some of the most interesting people I know in much the same way just as I'm sure I've added another to that list. Maybe its coincidence? Maybe there's something happening on another level. Too small for the eye to see. Maybe you wanted it to happen. After all, that's how I met my wife. Let's drink to serendipity." Bryce said to her offering his glass in a toast.

She met his glass with her untouched gin and tonic like a chime.

"This is the Looking Glass we'll look through tonight. But not too much of course." Bryce savored his drink and sat back taking in Alicia.

"I see you've prepared for this. Are these your research notes?" Bryce asked her.

"The most important ones anyway. Here's the numbers though I've been trying to statistically document and analyze the data regarding the artist's effect. You're familiar with the SY349 program aren't you?" Alicia asked him feeling a little more comfortable.

"Absolutely. The artist's effect. The measurable impact that aesthetic design can have upon shaping the effects of the SY349 formula. Like the diametrical opposite of the placebo effect if you would. I remember your talk at University Of Waterloo by the way." he responded as she handed him some papers with her significant numbers circled.

"I saw your data. In the paper you published last year. Very impressive. I can't help but think that you might be looking in the wrong place for the answers though." Bryce said going over her data.

"I've been very thorough." Alicia assured him.

"You certainly have but we're dealing with a very elusive idea here. The numbers might point in a direction, but I think you'll find that the direction between experiments that it points will appear random. Inconsistent. Boggling and counter intuitive." Bryce suggested looking at the numbers.

"Are you saying that there's something wrong with my data? My experiments?" Alicia asked him a look of shock crossing over her face.

"Nothing at all of that sort my dear Alicia. You, your experiments or your data are not a problem at all. There is nothing wrong. Please don't condemn yourself before you really start looking at the mystery. You're looking for an answer. You need to ask yourself if what you seek the answers to is really what is needed to accomplish what you're trying to do with the SY349 and quantum transmogrification." Bryce suggested to her.

"As researchers and scientists, theory, experimentation and hypothesis are the ways we collect data. So we can use what we learn to..." Alicia started as she paused realizing her idealism was speaking for her.

" make the world a better place. I see you caught yourself whilst being pulled in by the gravity of idealism. Gravity is good and so is a moral compass. Your work seeks to save lives and make life better without dire consequences or price to the biosphere or any of it's denizens. That tells me that its somehow built into your intuition yet you're trying to restrain yourself. Sometimes though we need to think without constraints that are misleading so our thinking and insight isn't so rigid as to hide the truth from us." Bryce said to her as she took a drink.

"How do we know how to use the artist's effect to our advantage without data?" Alicia asked him.

"It isn't imperative for me to know the mechanical processes at work when I press one of the keys on a piano in order to be able to play, is it? I mean all of that happens under the hood and it doesn't require me to know a thing about it unless maybe I need to tune it." Bryce suggested through metaphor.

"Are you saying that we can use the artist's effect without understanding it? I mean what would happen if the piano broke? Wouldn't you want to be able to fix it?" Alicia returned.

"The piano isn't broken and it is broken much the same as the biological process you're trying to effect aren't broken and are broken. It's a point of view because the concept of broken is subjective. With the SY349 you're trying to shape the next generation of cells in such a way that they benefit the current whole in a biological specimen. Who is to say that specimen is broken or not broken? That concept depends on what is needed to survive within the current time span of that specimen. Does it mean that we're broken just because we don't breath water like fish? It might if the world were subjected to a great deluge much like that depicted in the Epic Of Gilgamesh. We have land that we can live on and air that we breath. If we tried to survive underwater then by all means yes, we could probably say that we're broken because our lungs can't deal with water." Bryce explained to Alicia.

"But other sea going mammals live in the ocean. Dolphins for instance. They can't breath water. We essentially have the same respiratory systems as they do." Alicia tried to correct him.

"You're missing the point. They're not broken because they can't breath water and they're broken because they can't. That doesn't mean that we need to fix dolphins. Take a cancerous dolphin on the other hand. A part of its natural biology that is working in detriment to the individual's own survival. A living thing is not broken just because it has lesser capabilities of survival so long as its own biology is working towards it's own survival. Of course we aren't going to get into evaluating its fitness to bare offspring. When people start making decisions related to who gets to have babies and who doesn't on the basis of genome, we're in for a world of rights abuses and an era of elitism. I mean we certainly wouldn't ban procreation of those with a history of cancer now, would we?" Bryce posed to Alicia.

"I think we buried eugenics during the talk I gave at University Of Waterloo. I mean limiting someone's right to procreation on the basis of genetics is the same thing as encouraging those who believe in such nonsense and superior genetics to have more children. Both ideas seem very absurd and outright disgusting to me." Alicia confirmed her stance once again for Bryce.

"As they are to myself as well. Is the dolphin inferior to fish because it doesn't breath water? If it has cancer though, that's a threat to its life and a possible gamble for its offspring though no reason for the poor dolphin to have its ability to procreate taken from it. I take it that the SY349 is being used not to make dolphins that breath water, but to stop cancerous cells from wreaking havoc upon the body?" Bryce asked her keeping his eyes on her as he waited for her answer.

Alicia paused a moment as she weighed her answer. She'd used the formula to imbue herself with superhuman abilities. Would that qualify as giving gills to a dolphin? Had she overstepped the moral line with regard to genetics and the sanctity of life? She'd already spent a year moralizing her decision to test the formula on herself.

"No. The SY349 has been used in a large number of cases as a front running cancer treatment. We aren't making water breathing dolphins or fire breathing butterflies. At least not bad ones." Alicia assured him as best as she could.

"I should hope not. I like butterflies. I am also very much intrigued by the artist's effect, though I have to be honest with you Alicia. I'd hate to be the peer of the scientist who'd have supported limiting the procreation rights of Mr. Hawking's mother." Bryce said to her approvingly.

There was a pause as Bryce's smile returned and the serious tension of the conversation disappeared for a moment.

"If you'll excuse me, I have to get up on stage and perform another set. We'll continue this talk if you'd like during my next break?" Bryce asked her.

"I hope you don't mind?" Alicia confirmed with him.

"Not at all. This is just the kind of thing that needs to be spoken of in class as much as it does in the labs. I'd be willing to bet that some of the best theoretical work takes place in a lounge. So let's see if we can't help you find an answer." Bryce said as he politely took his leave of her table.

"I'll be waiting." Alicia said with both a smile and a tear on her cheek.


A few of the guests in the lounge had taken to the floor for a close dance during the last song in Bryce's set. A moody ballad in which he sang with his weathered voice. He wasn't technically a singer but he certainly had the heart of one and that's what had warmed her's. He wasn't pretending to be anything but himself and that was an honesty that it had taken him a long time to earn. Living up to his own legend Alicia had thought.

He sang the last words in the song and bowed for the audience, most of whom were on the dance floor by that point.

"I've got to take one more break and then I'll be up here for one more set. The finale if you'd have it though I'm only just getting started. Care to join me?" Bryce stood and departed the piano making his way to the bar for a drink before returning to Alicia's table.

"That was brilliant!" Alicia said to him standing as he joined her at her table.

"That was the mood. The right time and the right place. The right crowd." Bryce said to her clanking glasses once again.

"Now lets talk about numbers and reality." Bryce said with a measured sense of retrospect.

"I thought you said these numbers wouldn't show us anything." Alicia said without any hint of resent.

"I said they wouldn't point the way to what we need to understand the artist's effect. In fact your numbers give us the most interesting clues that something very intriguing is going on here. Something that Sylvia was onto during her time as a researcher." Bryce said to her uncovering a memory she'd long treasured.

"You knew a researcher named Sylvia?" Alicia asked surprised that Bryce had brought up her name.

"Sylvia Upadhaya. A brilliant theorist and perhaps one of the greatest laboratory researchers with whom I've had the pleasure of working. She was one of the funniest Women I've ever met. She had a wonderful sense of humor. Humor seems always to pair well with motivation and curiosity. Wonderful qualities in any Woman." Bryce said directly to Alicia.

"...or Man. So you knew her. I can't believe this. I used to volunteer at a home for the elderly. She was staying there when I was sixteen. That's when I met my best friend too. Heylyn." Alicia added directing it back to Bryce.

"There are many coincidences in life. Enough so that if you were to measure them, the data would look something like your numbers. Indicating that something was going on but unpredictably enough to make you question whether you were imagining it. Something Sylvia was quite comfortable with at that time." Bryce suggested to her.

"So you were peers at that time?" Alicia asked Bryce.

"Years before. She was a mentor of sorts though I've had my share of heroes too, Alicia. We all have someone that inspired us enough to get over our fear and to really try. She was amongst those who'd helped me similarly. It's no surprise to me that you also knew her for the line that connects us is invisible and its name is serendipity. I remembered when she left the field for medical reasons, though I'd suspected something else was afoot. Four years later I stood with her closest family and friends at the crematorium to wish her a farewell on her final departure and possible return as she'd have it. I suppose that people live on through their impact upon those they affect. For all intense purposes, she's alive through us." Bryce raised his glass again and Alicia met it.

"I'd known that I wanted to be a research scientist. It was Sylvia that opened my eyes to quantum phenomenon though she only referred to them as coincidences. Kind of like you do." Alicia told him.

"Well Sylvia and I had very different beliefs and a different understanding of how the universe worked. We had some great debates between us. She certainly kept me on my toes. So we've found a thread between us, Alicia. One that certainly provides some compelling evidence but counter intuitive numbers. Perhaps Godel's ideas are at work somewhere..." Bryce said recalling his time with Sylvia.

"You mean Godel's trickster? There's something very unappealing about the idea that a little subatomic trickster is running around between Planck's limits to our ability to measure, keeping the secrets of the universe hidden from us." Alicia's eye brows furrowed as she spoke a cynical smile perched on her lips.

"Maybe that's because Godel's trickster is not outside of us but a part of us." Bryce replied with a smug smile of his own laying the bait for her.

"You can't just leave it hanging there. Do you care to elaborate or do you wish to concede your point?" Alicia said to him playfully.

He paused for a moment admiring her challenge.

"An objective universe keeps no secrets for it has no mind and therefore no motive. It is purely object and substance without a push. It is only effect and never cause. Like the billiards table with the balls racked and ready to play. Nothing results until something happens. The player breaks and everything that occurs after that is effect. The player is cause. Do you really believe that the universe is just a collection of subatomic billiards' balls just waiting to be affected? There in that quantum soup there is something beyond time and space that somehow binds both of those concepts together and gives them meaning." Bryce explained to her.

"You're talking of observation selection. Anthropomorphism maybe? We impose ourselves upon what we perceive. To give it life and meaning. We're looking in a mirror. As a little girl I see a teddy bear and believe it is alive even though it is just a collection of molecules arranged to look like something alive. It has two eyes, a nose and a mouth and maybe some cute ears. I'm seeing myself in a mirror." Alicia responded to Bryce.

"It's interesting that you chose the metaphor of a mirror when explaining yourself. What's even more interesting is that just like your poor teddy bear, we are nothing more than a collection of molecules bound together by some atomic forces but mostly composed of energy and empty space. Even your explanation lends credence to the idea that we in fact act as Godel's trickster. Keeping the secret of the inner workings of the universe hidden. Even from ourselves. You just proved it. Now I think you owe your poor teddy bear an apology. Even Sylvia would agree." Bryce said to her raising his glass.

"We're talking about how our the numbers in scientific data of such phenomenon both hide and reveal the nature of reality. What does that have to do with my teddy bear?" Alicia asked him with focus and discipline.

"Because even as a grown Woman and a scientific professional, you still have that teddy bear in you. That secret love of something and someone that becomes personified in what you do and why you do it. The numbers only reveal the fact that it's there, not where it is." Bryce smiled as he pulled his chair out.

"You've got some company it seems. I've got a set to play and I shall return when we will conclude this conversation and uncover the answers to what you came here to seek. Alicia, it is always a great pleasure speaking with you. Katya, Victor, Nelson, Zheng, I'll be back to join you here at Alicia's table soon." with that Bryce stepped back up onto the stage and sat before the piano.

"Please do have a seat. All of you."Alicia was surprised to see her peers had come to join her at her table.

"So, what were you and Bryce discussing?" asked Nelson pulling out a chair for Zheng.

Alicia paused for a moment thinking of how to respond. By the time she did, Katya and Victor were seated beside her.

"Two good friends and an elusive mystery. Sylvia Uphadhaya, my teddy bear and Godel's trickster." Alicia replied igniting the fires of conversation.

The Unveiling Of The Mystery

The peers at Alicia's table went through the regimen of introductions and social familiarity and it was forty minutes before Katya asked the million dollar question.

"Now you've got us so intrigued that you're going to have to explain yourself. I mean what could Sylvia Uphadhaya, a teddy bear and Godel's trickster have to do with one another?" Katya said with a playful smile on her face.

"You'd better watch it. I think that she just laid a trap for us to step into." Zheng responded to Katya's inquiry.

"Me? I was hoping you'd help me out of this trap of a debate he lured me into. The same way I might add." Alicia said responding to Zheng and Katya.

"Well don't look to me. I mean philosophy was never my strong point. I'm a hands on sort of man." Victor said hoping he'd excused himself from the upcoming conversation.

"Just because we had to take the mandatory Ethics Of Genetic Engineering 101 doesn't mean that we're well equipped to delve into Godel, Bohr, Heisenberg or Einstein for that matter." Nelson suggested.

"I think that you're selling us short. I mean what ever happened to your your sense of adventure, your graduate's ego? That wonderful confidence of a newborn graduate that can get you into an opportunity and sometimes just as much trouble?" Katya asked Nelson.

"Pop science, public interest, continued funding and results." Nelson replied tipping his drink back to his lips.

"Pop science? There is no pop science in this day and age. I mean we've reached the time where every science has delved so far that they are starting to overlap others. Like our respective fields are each islands and we've completely explored those islands and have learned that in order to continue we have to study the ocean that connects us to other islands in order to know what goes on in our own. A merging of the sciences. This is becoming evident now." Zheng replied to Nelson as Bryce finished his tune.

"But that doesn't help funding. I mean the sciences have thrived on these boundaries in the past. Like each of the sciences themselves have become a brand for investment purposes and public interest. Remember that in the past the sciences were often competing for the same investment dollars by attempting to tackle problems from a different angle. It's only in recent years that we've seen the face of investment change and the public interest grow. We're experiencing a renaissance that has begun to erode the walls built between the sciences in the old segmented investment model. That change is happening faster than many can cope with and the demand for something to showcase is skyrocketing." Bryce said from behind them.

"Not to mention that competing for the spotlight itself has changed. I mean my husband and I spent years working on our medicinal delivery method that utilized phages as the agents of delivery before the public interest in medical biology found its way to take a look at phages themselves. We struggled with funding, until that point. When we had the spotlight for just a moment, it was just enough to inject our research with public interest and investment funding found us fortunately. During that time we found the need to hang on to that spotlight, even fighting over it with other members of our field. Our fellow scientific researchers. With the internet and world wide exposure that has changed but have we?" Katya said looking to Bryce who seated himself between Alicia and Victor.

"The trickster. Once again we as scientists have been fooled by the very universal devices ever present to keep us from revealing her secrets for personal gain or something less than whatever this might be about. Don't let me get too esoteric or even theological for they have a place in enticing curiosity and wonder but not in discovering the truth. Segmentation of the sciences is obviously necessary in order to study them as it is to market them for investment. Once we have achieved sufficient knowledge of our individual sciences though it only makes sense that the frontier itself is at the point where they overlap. We're suddenly plunged into a world where we're working with the very people with whom we've been competing for research money. That money is directly affected by public interest and the so called spotlight Katya mentioned. Both those elements it seems could very much operate in contradiction to progress until that mind set of scientific segregation and competing for the spotlight has itself eroded. Sounds like the trickster at work to me." Bryce said confidently taking a drink.

"The public interest for a particular thing is only so much." Nelson said underlining his realistic point of view.

"But we live in a world where there are many spotlights. Not just one focused on the sciences but many, with many different audiences all interested." Zheng added.

"It's true. When Alex and I first presented the data for the SY349, we had several research giants fighting over us and despite the Zek and Torman scandal, we were able to procure long term investment in the program though the truth is that once we presented, we had offers from many different venues. It was a crossover of the sciences too, between quantum physics and medical biology, biochemistry and genetics. Potentially a risky investment though the interest in it wouldn't indicate that at all." Alicia said excitedly.

"Well if this is the case, and you've obviously come here to discuss something with your hero..." Victor started.

"...peer. I'm one of her peers. Just as are you all." Bryce corrected Victor.

"Alright. You've obviously come here to discuss something with your peers. Here we are. A crossing over of the sciences. Let's see what we can do." Victor suggested to Alicia.

"Alright. I've got a set of numbers here that were taken over the course of two years of testing on the SY349. As you already might know, the SY349 is a two fold treatment involving a pill which acts as a genetic dye for the body's current generation of cells. This dye affects the process of mitosis allowing the RNA messenger access to all of the prior versions of its own genetic code by folding space/time through Bryce's discovery..." Alicia paused.

"Quantum fold propagation... We read his paper." Katya and Victor said simultaneously.

" you've managed to make qubits from the parts of the human genome?" Nelson confirmed with Alicia.

"I'm lost. What are qubits? Are we talking about a video game here?" Victor asked.

"No, that was Q*bertQubits are the computing components of a quantum computer analogous to bits on a classical computer. They are essentially any particle whose superposition can be equated to more than one state, which is discerned after the collapse of the wave function." Zheng explained to Victor.

"We're talking physics or biology here?" Victor asked.

"Physics and chemistry. You've heard of wave - particle duality? That we can't know the position and the velocity of any fundamental particle simultaneously. They're mutually exclusive. Once we measure one, we can't know the other. A qubit functions in much the same way and its state isn't known until after the computation because before, it is simultaneously all possible states at once. Like a strange bit. It's both one and zero until we look at it,or measure it and then it collapses to becomes one or zero." Bryce explained to Victor.

"So the amino acids and their molecules and atoms are qubits in the sense of using past occurrences of the same genome as processing units in a qubit-like operation though we're not building a quantum computer inside of the human body. The molecules and the constituent atoms that make up the amino acids for each of the genetic fields in our genome, Guanine, Cytocine, Adenine and Thymine take part in the process as Bryce's discoveries had indicated and we confirmed that they are entangled with all of the past particles that had been an ancestor of that particular cell. Those particles still have information encoded in their spin that allows us to refer back to their past state in that cell. So its like a qubit but not a quantum computer. It's like a memory reference more so than a calculation. All of this happens between the RNA and coded structure of the gene as its built through mitosis." Alicia continued her explanation.

"That's very interesting but what would be the problem then?" asked Nelson.

"The second part of the SY349 formula is a catalyst that is applied to something exterior to the body. The composition of whatever it is applied to plays a part in how it affects the dye taken internally. So for example a necklace or wrist band. During the tests we discovered that we could make changes to the formation of the genes and how they were expressed merely by changing the design of whatever the exterior application was applied to. That is both its composition and aesthetic design including its colors and shape. Both have an impact upon the effect. We called this the artist's effect and it is similar in some ways to the placebo effect except that it is consistently measurable in each distinct case. It becomes unpredictable between cases and patients though as Bryce pointed out." Alicia explained.

"So from what you're saying, the actual design of whatever the external application of the SY349 is applied to has an effect upon the cells affected by the internal application of the formula?" Zheng asked Alicia.

"Precisely." Alicia replied.

"So you mean that something as simple as applying it to a necklace with a happy face pendant could have an effect?" Katya asked.

"Very much so and something of that nature definitely does." Alicia responded.

"That's incredible. That's a direct link to what had been discussed by Niels Bohr and Heisenberg." Zheng said once again a broad smile across her face.

"I think that Alicia though isn't so much concerned that it does happen that way as much as she wants to know how it happens that way?" Nelson suggested to the group.

"I am ecstatic that it happens that way and I want to know why." Alicia corrected Nelson.

"Now we're getting to the really interesting stuff." Bryce said to them with his own smile.

Objectively Subjective

"How is it that the visual design of the external component of the cure can have an effect upon the mitosis of the cells affected by the internal component?" Nelson asked in disbelief once he'd comprehended what was going on.

"There's obviously something going on between the dyed cells and the external component. A link of some kind." Zheng suggested.

"Entanglement? It is certainly involved but in no way did we predict that whatever the external part of the formula was applied to would affect the process of mitosis so drastically. I mean in our tests, we applied the external component to symbols, shapes of varying colors and we achieved a different effect in the next generation of cells produced by their formula affected ancestors. The only consistency we found was within individual cases but never the same effects in two different people. In some cases these effects were similar but only enough so as to be barely quantifiable in some cases." Alicia told them holding up a chart on her tablet computer.

"The different colored graph lines each identify a different case or test subject. The vertical graph indicates the extent of the effects certain kinds of effects while the horizontal graph indicates different shapes that the external component of the formula was applied to." Alicia showed them clearly so they could all see.

"So from what I see here, you have some consistency between test cases but always the same or very similar effects within the individuals per exposure. That would mean..." Victor started as his wife excitedly interjected.

"...that there's something within the test subjects themselves and the way it interacts with them that is unique to them and similar enough to account for the overlap in the graph here." Katya exclaimed.

"Different physiology, age, sex? I mean there's so many different variables that could be involved." Nelson said bringing his biology expertise to the table.

"What about psychological factors?" Zheng asked Alicia.

"That would imply subjectivity. I'm trying to keep this objective here." Alicia responded somewhat defensively.

"I've seen this distribution on a graph before. It's very much the same distribution to what you'd see with a placebo graphed against actual dosage. Because placebo is so unpredictable and involves social psychology we use placebo to eliminate test subject error or bias." Nelson said pointing again to Alicia's tablet.

"In the case of placebo we saw no effects whatsoever. Where no treatment was applied there was no effect upon the cellular mitosis whatsoever whereas in test subjects with a real application of the formula there was greatly accelerated mitosis and increased metabolism as well which would be consistent. None of the test subjects who'd taken the placebo reported any difference in their being." Alicia informed Nelson.

"There is one thing that would be greatly different between your test subjects besides demographics or physiology." Bryce spoke up having held his tongue for so long.

"What? Wait..." Alicia said looking at nothing in particular deep in thought.

"You mean their perception? Their cognition and their interpretation of the symbols you tested the formula against." Alicia said in realization.

"That sounds consistent with your graph. People certainly have very different interpretations of symbol and color. Those interpretations would vary greatly from person to person while some would be similar but that would bring you back to subjectivity." Zheng added.

"How could someone's perception and interpretation of the external component that the formula was applied to affect the internal effects? I mean they're related to perception and the mind." Alicia asked aloud still deep in thought.

"When you hear a joke, there are some people who laugh and some who don't. Humor is definitely subjective." Victor added his suggestion.

"...and based upon knowledge and life experience." Katya added.

"Yes and laughing has been shown to produce anti-carcinogens as well as endorphins. It actually promotes healing. There's a situation where you have subjective interpretation that has a direct effect upon health." Nelson told his peers at the table.

"Subjectivity implies so many things..." Alicia said hesitantly.

"Like responsibility?" Nelson said.

"For what?" Alicia asked a little defensively.

"For one's own mindset. I mean healing can be effected by your mind set and there's plenty of studies to suggest this. A patient has to want to get better." Nelson replied.

"But a person's mood and perception and front line consciousness are affected by so many biochemical processes in the body. Naturally occurring hormones for one can skew a person's perception and mood greatly. So for an undisciplined mind, hormones can greatly skew a person's mind set not to mention their cognition. How does responsibility play into that?" Zheng asked Nelson.

"A Woman's body during pregnancy is vulnerable to changes in hormone levels because of all of the changes occurring to support the life of the newborn in her womb. Is that to say that if she is too emotional, that it is her fault or even a case of fault?" Victor asked looking around the table.

"Perhaps a disciplined mind can overcome these effects but even that takes conscious awareness of these facts. Not something that they'd readily teach in school. Maybe that's what compassion is all about." Katya added.

[Begin Update Monday December 26, 2016 1:50 PM]

"That's a lot to throw at a patient. First of all to tell them that they are responsible for their own healing and that their mindset can affect it. Then when their treatment is not as successful as hoped, they suddenly have to bare the thought that it might be their fault, which in turn would produce worse feelings and lead to a poor mindset and attitude that would cause the body to produce stress hormones that slow natural healing. So in the case of subjectivity, it does them good to be in a good mindset and for them to be aware that their perception can be affected by a variety of complications." Zheng advised her peers.

"That's a lot to throw at any one of us. To tell us we're responsible for how we perceive the world around us. So we as Doctors and healers have the power to affect healing by encouraging a good mind set in the patient. To make them part of their own healing process and strategy." Victor looked over the table.

"True. But what would stop another group of people from being lethally damaging to a person's psyche? Affecting their healing process by being abusive or hateful to them? Don't tell me it doesn't happen because it does. Shunning or social lambasting are social phenomenon I've seen before. Then after being treated as such a patient again is blamed by their own Doctors for their lack of progress in healing? Once again that's a lot to throw at a patient and that could potentially lead to reduced immune system response just through the imbalance of hormones such stress would cause. If we're healers and responsible for a patient's good mind set in regard to healing, would that make the people who conduct social abuse murderers?" Zheng posed a thought for the table.

"They're factors beyond our control unfortunately and just the same as any such factors that a Doctor and patient must deal with together." Nelson was the first to reply.

"Why not look at it like a biological process? A challenge for the patient to be better." Katya proposed.

"You mean like making the patient stronger in a way? I mean healing has nothing to do with the faces of Athos and Pathos. Tragedy or suffering does not define or make healing possible. Tragedy and suffering result from health and social problems and aren't made better by social lambasting or abuse. Healing or strength of character is not being empowered by people who would do such a thing to someone." Zheng responded to Katya calmly.

"If I may honey, I think what Katya was trying to say is... how you say? Like if a young person learns to be strong of mind and focused, the kind of people who do such things likely won't have an effect upon them. Kind of like taking away their power to affect someone negatively by teaching them to be actively involved in determining their own mind set. Is that right Katya?" Victor asked his wife.

"Yes. I think I might have worded it a little bit differently, but that's worth a kiss." she gave him a peck on the cheek making Zheng and Alicia blush a little.

"That's a good point. If something of that nature is going to happen and we can't cure it socially by discipline, laws or reforms then it is best to teach people how to deal with it from an early age. Makes sense. Take the power from such people away right from the beginning. I guess it even makes sense that we're discussing such a thing though I think we'd need Jung or even Freud here to sign off on it." Zheng replied satisfied with the answer.

"It just underlines the importance of the patient's mind set in the process of healing. After all, they're the proverbial observer in the Schrodinger equation and from our data that observer has an affect on how the healing process unfolds." Alicia added.

"Now we're getting to the importance of symbol, color and design and its influence upon this process." Bryce smiled at having reached this point in the conversation.

"How do you jump back and forth so quickly between being a Mystic and a Scientist?" asked Nelson of Bryce.

"I'll take it that you're being rhetorical?" Bryce responded.

"That I am. Guilty as charged." Nelson tipped his drink to Bryce.

[End Update Monday December 26, 2016 2:32 PM Brian Joseph Johns]

"The power of artistic ability to affect the results the formula produce are very significant. We've tried applying the external treatment to a variety of items like artistically designed clothing, jewelry and other items with a strong aesthetic presence and in every case the design has effected the resulting treatment." Alicia said to the rest of the table.

"It is incredible how a piece of art can move one to ecstasy or drive them to tears." Bryce commented.

"So we've discerned that it is very possible that the subjective mind is playing a role in this process. So once again are we returning to the collapse of the wave function, to Bohr and Heisenberg's interpretation of reality. Imposing that observation, perception and mindset is what propagates this whole process of causality? Causality being the push and effect being the results of that push. The same process that results in the formula being able to repair and mend the body so well? If we create our own reality in such a way then why does the body sometimes work so much against our being consciously able to maintain a positive viewpoint? Why do some people do so?" Alicia asked a little bit lost in possibility.

"If everyone knew that we had the power to create our own reality or at least deal with it by nothing more than our perception and mindset, chances are they might not like the kind of world that their neighbor is going to create. Not everywhere in the world are people afforded the time and luxury of being able to think and discuss what we discussed tonight. It would certainly be arrogant to say that we make our own reality because that would be to blame every child who was born into a war zone or famine or deathly struggle. While we live in peace we certainly can affect our own life and reality and that's really a luxury, not a privilege and more importantly it is one that we have to endeavor to spread and preserve the world over. As far as the SY349 is concerned, it is the power to affect reality directly by the perception of the one receiving the treatment. Affected by the designs of your friend Heylyn Yates and others who eventually will become a generation of Aesthetic Doctors. Those whose work in medicine will involve not only diagnosis but the treatment and the creation of aesthetic components to their treatment." Bryce said to Alicia and her peers at the table.

"I think what he was trying to say about your cure is that its subjective, or at least powered by subjective consciousness. Certainly not a placebo though. Something entirely different." Kayta said as Victor, Zheng and Nelson nodded in agreement.

"Bryce. Thank you." Alicia said as she stood and gave him a peck on the cheek.

The group filed out and bid each other farewell making empty promises to call one another and to do the same thing again soon.

Bryce walked Alicia to her cab.

"You wanted to know and now I think that you do. I believe there's something going on behind the scenes that keeps this whole thing going." Bryce said to her as she opened the cab door.

"What's that?" she asked him.

"Do you remember your talk at University Of Waterloo?" Bryce asked her.

"Yes. What about it?" she continued.

"After seeing your presentation I was going to contact you to come work for me. To work on my research. Every attempt I made to contact you from that point on was futile. As if the universe did not want me to connect with you or stop you from working on your research. Godel's trickster maybe?" Bryce said to her.

"No. Serendipity. Thanks for the wonderful night. I'll never forget this." she kissed him on the cheek and got into her cab keeping her eyes on him.

The cab drove away as he watched it diffuse into the lights of the night. A variety of colors and hues. A clouded tangle of photons interlocked in a dance with the forces of nature and which yielded it's only secrets via probability. Like the chances that Alicia would show up on the one night that he'd be playing a gig at the Looking Glass Lounge. Maybe some phenomenon in this universe had a little help from an outside force he pondered looking to the stars. Maybe it was all just probability. The thought occurred to both Alicia (as she drove away in the cab) and himself that maybe the observer determines the truth of that concept as well.

Alicia unlocked the door to the condominium and quietly stepped in feeling giddy and slightly tipsy. She sneaked down the hall to the bedroom discarding her clothing as she progressed past the bedroom door.

"Thanks for keeping my side warm." she said kissing his ear as she got into bed.

The End

The Story Continues in: The Butterfly Dragon II: What Different Eyes See

Copyright © 2017 Brian Joseph Johns