The Risks of Empathy, a Novella
The three-way, live, TE had been more than either Stan or Earnie had imagined. There was still feed back and Karen had been confused for the first few instants, but the confusion dissolved into no confusion and a quickly escalating sense of largeness.
Karen was Ted being confused about what was happening, but she was also Earnie realizing that Ted was confused, and at that instant, the part of the group sense that was Ted was no longer confused because his confusion was lost in the others' understanding. And the experience of Ted's realization led to greater understanding when one experienced the other being the third, and the feedback fed the process and level upon level of understanding unfolded like the petals of the lotus.
Afterward, they were each trying to explain to Stan what it had been like. Ted sat serenely in the center of the lab, apparently listening with some understanding.
Earnie said, "It was so big."
Karen said, "I'm going to call it Big Mind."
Ted barked and Karen and Earnie looked at each other.
"Let's set the timer, Stan, you too. " And the four of them spent the next fifteen minutes expanding into Big Mind.
Twenty-four hours later many of the residents of HtH Cattle and Timber were no longer separated by the insuperable gulf. Now 'self' meant something larger and expansive, it was Big Mind.
Seven black helicopters dropped silently from the sky. There was no moon to belie the mirage of nothing. Ten nearly invisible heavily armed agents slipped from each helicopter and silently began moving toward the large house they each knew Richard Selling referred to as his cabin. Their night vision goggles found only a few animals standing or lying around. There seemed to be no guards at all.
Their orders were simple. Find and apprehend Richard Selling. Avoid killing him, but kill him rather than allow him to escape or avoid capture. Thirty men encircled the house while the other forty deployed at the various entrances. Twenty prepared to crash through the front door just as the other entrances were breeched. At the signal, all the doors were tested and found to be unlocked, but no one mentioned this to another group and the only message relayed was "We're in," as each group gained entrance. They began searching from room to room.
Outside, they were surprised when two cows came ambling up and proceeded to graze between the cordon of agents and the house. The standing order was radio silence and because the group leader didn't sense any danger, nothing was said.
Three more cows showed up. Then five more. Before long a large herd seemed to be walking past and pausing occasionally to calmly graze at the manicured lawn. As the cows milled about, the agents began losing sight of each other, but no one seemed too worried and the cows seemed to be just wandering through. At one particular moment though, each of the agents was isolated from all the others and simultaneously were surprised, overpowered, and drug away by four or five large dogs who had been shielded from view by the cows. When the cows wandered off, only a sleepy hound on the porch and a couple of goats lying and chewing their cud under a tree remained.
Inside, each of the four squads found secret entrances to secret hallways when a dog, or a cat was scratching at a concealed door. They each entered a large room at about the same time close on the heals of a cat or dog. As they entered, the doors behind them closed and the room was filled with gas before they could get their gas masks in place. No one fired a shot.