Dusting Doctor W's den, Bi Mun avoids his desk, atop which piles of papers, stacks of books, and scores of ballpoint pens compete with clip and keyboard, mouse and monitor, disc and drive, for space. Although retired, the man of science does not qualify as inactive; he continues to pursue rather arcane interests. Why he won't turn anything off, however, irks the nanny (who is housemaid, for the most part, due to Vina's self-reliance - most unfortunate, in Bi Mun's opinion; girls ought to be ampuh), the adage "waste not, want not" wasted on father and daughter alike. Mrs. W (pretty little thing) whose image graces photographs that are prevalent in the house at large, if somewhat sparse herein, maintains her influence over widowed husband, none over wayward child, the pair impaired by ceaseless mourning and unrelenting mischief. Immune to every subtle hint suggesting he remarry, Dr. Windmollen isolates Vina (inadvertently) and himself (by choice) in ways Bi Mun considers sad to sinister. Scarcely half a century old, the man is far from feeble; just-turned-ten, the girl needs mothering more than words can hope to say. Combined, their lack of social interaction - he withdrawn, she arrogant - guarantees the milk-of-human-kindness nurses neither one. This is not to say that they are cruel or even callous; 'disassociated' might describe the Windmollen's stateless state, who, from the moment they arrived, have not belonged.

"Holy Mary, Mother of God," Bi Mun implores, "forgive them." Much like Indonesians generally, she subscribes to several faiths, revering Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (if most The Blessed Virgin), adding Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma (who destroy, preserve, create), Gautama Buddha likewise reigning in her populous theology, each a symbol of traditions (adat) dating back through time to untold seers, shamans, sorcerers, and divinities... none of whom prepares her for the sight she now beholds, as Ade Oya, on the prowl, proceeds through the den's propped-open door, and leaps from floor, to chair, to drawer, to cluttered desktop.

"Gusti Allah! " cries Bi Mun, at the interloping rodent, as he scoots across the keyboard, gapes at its activated screen, then 'feigns' to comprehend its wealth of scrolling content.

"Hus! " the servant threatens with her feather duster.

"Pergi! " she pronounces with a false bravado.

Scared beyond belief, she tries to inch around the oddball squirrel, obstructing its escape route, in a vain attempt to un-impede her own.

FREEZE, the beast asserts, without so much as glancing sideways.

At a loss to comprehend the reasons why, Bi Mun obeys, in fact feels stricken by some tip-to-toe paralysis.

Ade Oya, sure the maid will pose no further problem, turns his total concentration toward the complex signs and ciphers that appear like notes of music in a score composed by Bach. Is this a Symphony of Symbols that has reached its culmination? As he reads, his snow-white fur stands up on end?

IF THESE ARE CORRECT (the squirrel deduces), APPLICATION MIGHT BE JUST AROUND THE CORNER (he reflects with added zest)... A FORCE FIELD MIGHT BE GENERATED MENTALLY... CONTRAPUNTALLY, YES... WHERE MASS REDUCED ITS WEIGHT IN PAIRED PROPORTION TO THE CHARGE... UNLESS DE-MAGNETIZED... WOULD THAT CREATE CONDITIONS FOR SUSPENSION(?)... YES, PROVIDED PROTONS... YES... ELECTRONS MAY; NO MUST RESPOND... AND SURELY THAT WOULD THEN INDUCE... EXCEPT SUSTAINING THE VIBRATION, AT A LEVEL CORRESPONDING TO EACH POLAR PULL, REQUIRES... OF COURSE... AND, ONCE PUT INTO PLACE, THE PARADIGM WORKS!

Helpless to avert her gaze,
Bi Mun bears wide-eyed witness
as the rodent -
unattached to any
rope, string, thread, or wire -
appears to lift
from off its hind and forepaws
caught as by an updraft...
rising...
hovering
like some airborne,
fur-frocked
hummingbird.

'Flabbergasted' understates the servant's utter wonderment at a feat she quickly damns as spawned by Satan, vile, depraved. An evil spirit has possessed the squirrel; what other explanation could account for such a freak of Nature?

By degrees, it turns, defines a slow-mo revolution, not a single muscle flexing, like a globe between magnetic poles, head North, tail South, unfazed, its ghostly body holding still, while it slowly pirouettes.

Panic finally breaking through her mesmerized inertia, an alarm cry - "EEK!" - escapes the servant; trance expired, she flees - regaining wits enough to slam the door behind her.

 

"VINA, VINA, VINA!" madly echoes down the hallway, through the foyer, out the portico, all along its colonnade, haranguing atrium onto greenhouse with the nanny's hoarse hysterics, reaching deep within the tangled vines - absorbed but not grown faint - until The Lab itself reverberates her distress calls.

Dede, out of nowhere, intercepts the nanny's flight path (in the course of which she points a trembling finger in her wake), which he proceeds to track, with haste, to her panic's likely source.

*

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