It is nine months after my return from Shanghai and I as usual I write my journal to document and re-assess my progress. According to Mr. Ho my acceleration as a Seer has been remarkable and he thinks I have a talent for it. Naturally his own experience is used for comparison which I think unfair as it is his refinement and experiments on which my progress has developed. After experiencing my first glimmer of Aura I had no compunction in funding his experiments as a collaborative venture. I have sent my man Mr. James to Shanghai to purchase a property more suitable as a laboratory and to furnish it with such equipment as Mr. Ho requires. He is making great strides with refining the Beige Matter in this more clean and controlled environment.
It is often said in the Empire, that men from the orient have a tendency for underhand practices that we cannot read from their taciturn expression; yet I have found Mr. Ho the perfect gentleman in all dealings. He works tirelessly towards his goals and under not only the pressure of finances and peer pressure from a staid scientific community, but also another pressure which I will speak of now and which I do so from first hand experience.
I speak of the ‘burden of the foreknowledge’ At first the Auras that were revealed to me were feint and flickering, it was difficult to determine their meaning and they were a joy to behold as one might enjoy motes of dust dancing in a shaft of sunlight in an old library, or the dappling light reflected on the underside of a canal bridge. However, as the Beige matter became more refined and potent, the Auras have become clearer and their meanings more apparent.
It is now clear to me when someone is ‘misrepresenting themselves with untruths’ which happens, I now realise, with great frequency in ‘polite society’. I see someone compliment an acquaintance, yet their Aura shows disdain for their comrade. I have lost days to sitting in cafés observing people’s interactions and their attendant Auras. With one’s own interactions it is something entirely different. One has to learn to hide that ticks and squints that cross one’s own face when one observes a dishonest remark, or an inappropriate amorous feeling. It is stressful to not have to betray this knowledge, trying to explain it would lead me back into the disrepute which seems to have faded from a fickle public’s memory.
I confess to feelings of stress and some depression, constantly seeing what is inside people’s hearts.
Then it occurred to me that not only must we build a device to show Auras but we should work towards a way of suppressing Auras ie have an antidote to hand to give respite when Auras are too clamourous and overbearing.
I wrote a letter to Mr. Ho outlining this idea and the heart-felt letter I received in reply had some smudged characters that I can only suspect were caused by a tear or two splashing onto the page. It makes me realise the immense, long-lasting and solitary pressures that Mr. Ho has been under. This uncharacteristic release I take as a warning to how we proceed with our developments. I am committed to creating a device that can read Auras without the need for individual medication. This will be my noble contribution to the work. The idea came to me when observing beige matter under a microscope. I sandwiched a thin smear of the substance between two glass slides and passed a mild current of electricity through it.
I observed no immediate reaction, but when I passed my hand underneath the electrified slide I saw a flickering of colour through the glass. It is difficult for me to determine the nature of this effect in a controlled way, as my own Aura Sight may be affecting the phenomenon. However I am excited at the possibility of this. If we could hold a glass up to someone and reveal their Aura without needing to ingest the Beige Matter ourselves, then why not an Aura-Viewing Monocle? Of course my excitement has my thoughts running away with me, we would first have to perfect the ‘Aura Glass’ before thinking of miniaturisation or other efficiencies.
My next version of a device to display Auras had at it’s base is a wooden box which mainly contains a large component to store electricity that is called a ‘battery’. This part of the device confers a certain amount of weight and bulk to the device which I am hoping to improve upon in the eventual goal of making a portable device. The rest of the machine is the size of (as it was created from) a small door. This door had a glass panel that is thin but tempered to be strong. It was on the creation of this device that I accepted my man Mr. James into my confidence. It was a condition of our collaboration that neither I nor Mr. Ho would involve any other persons in our development without the other’s consent. After my previous humiliation I did not want to declare any work until we had an iron-clad working version to present. For his own part Mr. Ho seemed equally concerned for the privacy of the project. It was dawning on the that he had made a great effort on his own to get the project so far advanced and had dabbled a lot more with ‘personal Aura’ than I had and was a lot more affected. There were times in our correspondence that I felt that Mr. Ho wanted to say more about his own Aura experiences.
However it became obvious that I needed a test subject not affected by Aura ingestion to experiment with and Mr. James’s family had been faithful retainers to the Fiendish family for generations. Mr. Ho agreed to trust my choice and I started using Mr. James to walk behind the device to display his Aura. Unfortunately the Beige matter, even when spread thinly was opaque and it was difficult to see Mr. James behind the screen. Unaware of the dangers of electricity Mr. James pressed his nose against the pain to try to see through the glass. It was at that time that I saw an Aura about the size of Mr. James nose as it touched the glass a beautiful circular light blue Aura ! We were making progress!
My next version of the device is a much smaller box, the size of a small suitcase, topped by a glass panel that someone can press their palm against and a feint Aura appears around their hand. I have abandoned the ‘see through’ design for now. The battery is smaller and less powerful yet the Aura is more vivid on the smaller glass area.
Like Mr. Ho described at our first meeting on the ship, I began to see unattached Auras floating in the air. In line with Mr.Ho’s impeccable logic I believe at least the majority of these to be the souls of cats. I have noticed these cluster around the jars of Beige Matter that I keep in a locked metal materials cabinet in my laboratory. I find these spirits to be comforting and not at all troublesome. The colours they produce are mainly in the light yellow to light blue range, though rarely a definite green.
However a troubling development has arisen. After a breakfast of Eggs Benedict and a strong black coffee I entered the laboratory and sat for a while on the chaise longue reading the morning paper. I had a fitful nights sleep and was not in a hurry to begin work. Then glancing up I noticed a flickering from one of the experimental Aura Boxes. It was ‘Aura Alert IV’ a device about the size of a shoebox, with particularly thin glass but a particularly strong battery. I looked over at it and noticed on the screen a circular aura moving from edge to edge of the glass. The peculiar thing about it was that no one was near the box! Mr. James was on one of his liason trips to Shanghai to meet with Mr. Ho and I was on the other side of the room from the box. Although my Aura Sight meant I could see Auras in the air, this Aura seemed definitely like one within the device which were somehow distinct and more varied than the airborne ones. I put my paper down and stood up to better see the top pane, the Aura was feint but crimson coloured which seemed to indicate some distress. I slowly approached the box and as I drew close the Aura slowed it’s movement and started to turn to a more agreeable shade of light yellow with orange flecking. Putting my had over the box the Aura moved under my hand. I then took a few steps backwards, the orange flecking grew more prominent and the Aura started crashing around the glass once more. I approached a second time and the Aura seemed to ‘calm down’. I am not sure if it is my Aura sight or a reasoned deduction but I felt sure the Aura was somehow ‘trapped’ in the device and comforted by my presence. That would be just like a cat to get itself trapped, curiosity and all that! As I worked around the lab I found myself trying to work closer to the box as every time I moved away it went back to its distressed state. Soon it came time for me to leave for supper and I felt a sense of guilt at leaving this trapped soul. This box although smaller in size than most of my creations was deuced heavy due to the extra strong battery used which contained a lot of electrodes and was made of thick porcelain. So I got a tea-trolley with wheels and placed it on and wheeled the thing to my dining room.
Whilst eating I had the strange sensation that I was eating in company and company that was happy to be there. Without thinking I started muttering out loud, just the kind of thing I would when eating in company. “This salmon’s a bit dry… I wonder how Derbyshire are doing in the cricket…” As I spoke the Aura flickered with a brighter light, which I took to be a happiness at my company. From that moment I did not have the heart to leave the Aura ‘on it’s own’ and wheeled it to my sleeping quarters after supper. On waking I saw the Aura was still there, a small circle of feint burnt umber. Without thinking I started talking in a conversational air, as if talking to my beloved deerhound Belvedere. “Well it’s a bright enough morning, let’s get to it!” The Aura ‘perked up’ brightened and started softly undulating.
It was then that I thought I need to ‘release’ this Aura from the box and it came to me in a flash, simply disconnect the battery. I started to unscrew the screw around which the copper wire leading to the battery was coiled. I uncoiled the wire and saw the Aura Fade away. Unexpectedly I uttered the words:
“Ladybird, ladybird fly away home!” as I felt the Aura fluttering away. I wheeled the inert box to the Laboratory and decided to have breakfast in the garden. I feel I have been locked up in the laboratory for too long and it was a delight to see the sun glinting off the pond and hear the sounds that are peculiar to an English garden.
On returning to the laboratory the first thing I did was to recoil the battery on the Aura Box and too my alarm there was for a moment a flash of red and then the Aura a weak and orange vibrating circle. I talked again to calm it down and as usual it soon settled to a whitish yello and grew into a larger thinner circle. It was then I was reminded of my previous work with the spirit world and the Tesla machines, my old theorems seemed to be coalescing with this new Aura work; maybe Mr. Ho had guessed this would be the case when he first contacted me. Whatever the answer it seems I have, with one of my devices, trapped an unhappy soul, whether cat or something more sentient I needed to find the secret of releasing it.
I resolved to go ‘back to the drawing board’ as they say to solve this puzzle and set off for my library wheeling my companion with me.