“Brother Johnson?” The voice startled Dan out of his reverie. He had been thinking of Bobbie, his oldest daughter, and almost unknowingly wandered into a forest of enormous redwood trees. He stopped walking and turned around to face the unexpected voice.
A man followed him through the trees, eyes focused on Dan. He wore a suit, much like the one Dan wore, only white—shirt, tie, shoes, everything. At times, the white glowed as he passed the shadows of the massive trees surrounding him.
“Hi,” Dan said. “Have we met?”
“No, not yet, I’m Davied,” the man said, extending his right hand to shake.
The way he pronounced his name was different, and Dan repeated it slowly, hoping to say it correctly, accepting the handshake, “dah-VEED?”
“Yes, that’s right.”
“What can I do for you?”
“I have been asked to take you on a tour, you know, kind of show you around? Would that be alright?”
“Sure! What did you have in mind?” Dan asked.
Still grasping Dan’s hand, the two rose above the trees. A floating city came into view, towers of varying heights gleamed in the blue sky—metal and glass buildings displayed technological wonders that Dan had never conceived. It rushed at great speed towards Dan and Davied, yet the two stepped lightly onto a cobblestone alley between two buildings. It was as if Dan had stepped off an escalator.
Looking around, mostly up, at the buildings and their technology, Dan asked, “Where are we?”
“This is Hasik Misrahd, where everything under heaven is recorded. Come, let me show you.” Davied turned down an alley lined with doors on either side, then gestured at one. To Dan, it looked like every other door on the block, and he wondered how Davied knew which one to enter.
Dan stopped and stared at the spacious room they had entered. They stood at the edge of a botanical garden, gravel pathways leading away from them to arched footbridges that spanned streams. Near the center lay a perfectly still pond, with boulders forming a foundation of a small shack to the right side of the water. Dan sensed Japanese zen influences in the architecture of the building and grounds.
Everywhere Dan looked, flowers, ferns, bushes, and trees added beauty to the place. Flowery scents wafted past them that was at once calming and seductive to the senses.
People dressed in a variety of styles and colors walked the paths or sat on one of dozens of benches. Everyone operated a personal computing device by interacting with laser-like objects floating in three-dimensional space around their head.
“These are the MenHuRen,” Davied said gesturing to the people. “Roughly translated as ‘Portal-People,’ it is their job to record everything.” Waving, he caught the attention of one man and waved him over.
Smiling, an oriental man approached Dan. His face was round under dark hair. Dark eyes shined with intelligence, but the way his smile touched the corners of his eyes and made his cheeks puff a little put Dan at ease. Instead of reaching out to shake hands, he clasped his hands over his stomach and bowed slightly at the hips.
“Dan Johnson, may I introduce Ariyama Yuuto, your recorder.”
“I um…” Dan stammered, glancing between the two men, not certain who to address the multitude of questions that slammed into his mind. “I have…” he said, looking at Davied. Turning to the other man, he said, “I mean you are my…” He closed his eyes and drew in a deep breath, willing calmness, and focus into his being. He opened his eyes and noticed both men smiling with practiced patience. Looking at the Japanese man, he asked, “You recorded me? My actions?”
Shaking his head with small motions, he responded, “Please, call me Yoo-ootoh. And no, I am not your only recorder.” Yuuto spread his arms wide to encompass the entire garden and everyone in it. “We all participated. Some recorded everything you saw, others your hearing. Some took note of your heart, your intentions, and desires. Here, take this.” Yuuto held a white pearl between his thumb and forefinger.
Dan held out his hand, palm up, to accept the offering. When Yuuto placed it into his hand, he curled Dan’s fingers around it and pressed both hands around Dan’s fist, squeezing firmly.
After an awkward pause, Dan asked, “Is something supposed to happen?”
Yuuto smiled a patient, understanding smile, glanced at Davied, and said, “Seek, and ye shall find. Ask, and it shall be given thee.”
“Computer?” Dan asked. The air between Dan and Yuuto hummed with electric-like vibrations. A light blue, semi-transparent column of words appeared on the left under the heading COMMANDS. As he read the list, he wondered if he could use hand gestures, like pressing buttons. From the word “Help” at the bottom of the list, a line appeared, which split in two vertically, then sharply turned right, forming a box. Inside that box, it read, “Use thoughts or spoken commands to invoke functionality. Use hand and finger gestures to interact with functions and information. To see function-specific help, invoke that function.”
“This is fantastic!” Dan said, looking past the interface to Yuuto and Davied.
“For now,” Davied said, “information is limited to particular needs, based on assignments. You’ll be introduced to that more in a while. For now, we are here to show you how the record of life is written, literally, in the stars.”
“I gave you your BaiJyuShi,” Yuuto said.
“Buy jee-you-she?” Dan asked.
“Think of it more as, ‘buy jew she.’ Loosely translated as small white stone. You’ll learn more about that later. For now, let’s focus on your life.”
Motioning to a nearby bench, Davied said, “You might want to sit. I’ve got some other duties nearby. I’ll come back for you Brother Johnson. Until then, I’ll leave you in the capable care of brother Ariyama.” With a wave of his hand, he turned and left the area.