Chapter 1: Vacation
Caution: This Science Fiction Sex Story contains strong sexual content, including Ma/Fa, Consensual, Lesbian, Heterosexual, Science Fiction, Polygamy/Polyamory,
Desc: Science Fiction Sex Story: Chapter 1: Vacation - Mitch loved his job: decoding ancient inscriptions to bring dead cultures to life. A visit to a book shop offers him a puzzle of a lifetime.
I deliberately kept my eyes closed for three seconds before opening them again. My hands shook as I stared at the last page of the journal. The signature: F. Pitt Colt, in shaky writing, was there, glowing in a weird color on what was otherwise a blank page.
The writing stood out slightly from the surface of the paper. Or perhaps it was embedded below. The words, saturated, almost glowing, and thicker than pen, could have been made with some fluorescent felt-tip marker, very incongruous for a 19th-century journal. The signature, although larger in size, seemed to match the handwriting in the rest of the journal.
Still, it could have been made recently by somebody trying to copy Colt's writing, except for the tint. It did not look like any color in the visible spectrum. I have seen splashes of unusual colors as long I could remember. I think it was in kindergarten when I realized that nobody else could see them. After the third eye exam I decided it was easier not to mention the fact to anybody. The colors seemed to float on top of whatever was the actual coloration of the objects. I started calling it the tint, and as far as I knew it was just a quirk of my mind, a hallucination.
The tints did not match any conventional colors; I could not even describe them in as vague a manner as "reddish" or "greenish". Trying to explain them to another person would be like describing color to a blind person, double entendre and all. Internally, I sometimes thought of them as spanning a range from cool to warm, but that was not related to any real qualities of the tints. For most of my life I regarded the tints as harmless hallucinations, possibly subconsciously generated from other visual clues. Healthy people usually had a different tint from sick or very tired ones. Animals and plants usually had them, so did some organic materials. This, however, was the first time I had seen an indication of deliberate use of the tint.
I told myself to calm down. The last page of Colt's journal was otherwise blank; maybe somebody used an ink that accidentally had a strong tint but otherwise faded into white.
I had almost missed visiting the "Third Hand Bookshop" on the outskirts of North Haddon. This was the second year that I had spent a vacation in this picturesque New England town. The bookshop, filled with an eclectic collection of old books, heavy on local history and old textbooks, provided a pleasant half-hour of browsing and two books last year. However, when I drove by this time, the shop was closed. The proprietor didn't keep regular hours, and it wasn't possible to determine when he would be back. Luckily, on the way back from a supermarket on the edge of town, I decided to check the shop once more, and this time, Martin, the bookseller, had it open.
The vintage science fiction section didn't have anything of interest, and I once more perused the rack filled with old textbooks. It was always fun to see how they studied math, history and Latin in the mid-19th century. The journal of a local antiquarian, Flinders Pitt Colt, was on a shelf below the old texts, and like them, was priced way higher than my book-buying budget.
I was paging through the thick bound journal when I saw pages of unusual characters. At least I thought they were characters, but they looked like no alphabet I had ever seen. Considering my background I have seen most alphabets in use, but this writing was new to me. Perhaps it was a puzzle of some sort. I wouldn't have minded looking at it a bit further, but not at $300.
Martin saw me paging through the leather-bound journal, and demonstrated his knowledge of local history.
"Mr. Colt was a famous antiquarian. Famous in these parts, anyway. He was considered quite an eccentric — he claimed he could see and hear things that nobody else could, and they helped him discover lost artifacts."
I didn't pay any attention to that, until that signature on the last page.
Martin continued, "Mr. Colt was quite wealthy, and was able to travel extensively in Europe and the Orient. That journal you are reading was about his findings in Italy in the 1850s."
Once I got over my surprise at the tint signature on the last page of the journal, I decided I needed to dig deep into my vacation budget and buy it. I was able to talk Martin into selling the journal for two hundred dollars, far more than I expected to spend on books but well worth the puzzle. If Colt could write using tint, and could also see things invisible to others, I wanted to read the journal. It looked like my invisible colors were more than a hallucination.
I had only two days of vacation left, and no facilities to examine a hand-written journal filled with intricate drawings and pages of cryptic glyphs. Reluctantly, I decided to put off its examination until later. Besides, I didn't want to ignore my friends or cancel previously planned outings.
I really enjoyed my vacation. I liked going around the little quaint towns; I liked snow-shoeing through places that looked like nobody had been there for centuries. But I was glad to get back. Back to digging into the fascinating journal of F. Pitt Colt. And back to my girlfriend, Caroline, whom I hadn't seen for two weeks.
As I was driving back to Coleridge, I found myself contemplating the years I had thought the tints were merely a figment of my imagination. When I was a child, my playmates quickly ridiculed me regarding things they could not see. I knew even then that I was more gifted intellectually than most of my peers; so it was my parents who really convinced me that the strange colors existed only in my imagination.
My parents have always supported my curiosity, and taught me things well in advance of my age. I supposed most parents want their children to be "above average" in the immortal words of Garrison Keillor. Thus I knew how to multiply integers up to 19 in kindergarten, and simple powers in first grade. So when they carefully explained about the colors of the rainbow, and the color receptors in human eyes, I fully believed that the weird tints, somehow slightly above or below the surface of things, were purely imaginary.
It wasn't that my parents didn't love me – for that matter they still do. But since they had no rational explanation for the "colors" I kept bringing up, they only hoped that there was nothing wrong with my eyes. Probably much to my parents' relief, I stopped bringing it up and avoided additional eye exams, which would have been followed by neurological or psychological evaluations.
They raised me to love science, however, and despite eventually choosing a "soft science", I considered myself a scientist. F. Pitt Colt evidently saw something similar to my "tints"; I now had enough corroborative evidence to seriously consider that they described some real, physical property of objects. The colors I saw were not related to the usual colors; thus they were probably perceived by something other than the usual cones in the human eye.
I had no problems distinguishing the full color palette, with no evidence of any color blindness. Thus I expected I had the normal three types of cones. Was I perhaps a rare tetrachromat, a human who could perceive four different colors? My understanding was that only women could theoretically be tetrachromats, so perhaps something else was going on. In addition, the human tetrachromats could, in theory, distinguish more shades of colors like green and yellow, not see some completely different colors in addition to the existing ones.
Was it possible I was perceiving ultraviolet or infrared? Some fish had receptors for ultraviolet. I could test this easily enough; I was sure I could find ultraviolet photography equipment at the university and see if Colt's signature was visible.
When I was tired, I could sometimes see the tints with my eyes closed; but I could not be sure if it was a normal response of a tired brain, or if these wavelengths actually passed through my eyelids. I was assuming it was actually electromagnetic radiation, something close to light, and not something exotic like beta radiation. That was a bit scary. Perhaps I should check the journal with a Geiger counter before spending much time with it. Radiation poisoning was not something I wanted to experience myself. It's possible that Colt found some radioactive liquid to write his signature; and I somehow could see that. I was suddenly glad I was not able to spend much time with the journal during my vacation.