Hari’s whoop of joy soon faded as he noticed his fingertips turning black. Maya watched, horrified, as the black very slowly but steadily started covering his hands. It was Hari’s gasp of terror that returned her to her senses. Her first and only hope of curing Hari being the Symantak, she repeatedly pressed the gem to his hands and forehead with no effect. As she despaired once again, the door opened and the old lady appeared once again.
Sizing up the situation quickly, she led them both inside her home and shut the door. After examining Hari’s blackening hands, she questioned Maya quickly.
“It’s just as I thought. Hari has been cursed by Ladon. His hands are turning black first as he used his hands to grab the apples Ladon was guarding. Soon his entire body will turn black and he will cease to live.”
Maya despairingly said – “I figured that. How can I save him? The Symantak, known to cure all diseases and ills is not healing him. Why?”
“It’s because he interrupted the karma of a divine creature. The Symantak does not aid acts that is not righteous.”
“But you sent us to steal them! If you knew about it already, why didn’t you warn us?”
“I can still help you if you’ll listen. Thor left me this piece of paper to aid you if you were in mortal peril. This situation definitely qualifies. I cannot read the paper as it was not meant for me. You try.”
Maya opened the paper to read the slowly glowing words – “Where faith belies, science bestows. Go to Hawkwing at the end of 1970.”
“Is this a joke?” shouted a frustrated Maya.
The old lady, calm as always, said – “You should follow the instructions, dear child. I don’t know what it’s but if you want your friend to live, you should. Once healed, both of you can deliver the apples to Thor and finish the quest to gain your objective. Use this bag to keep it in and tie it around your neck. The bag will seem like an ordinary necklace unless you open it again.”
Maya following the instructions once again, vanished in a flash of light along with Hari.
Physicist Sonny Hawkwing’s house seemed nothing out of ordinary as Maya knocked on his door holding Hari’s hand fiercely. As the door was opened by a small child, Maya found the man she sought for behind the child in a wheelchair. Awestruck even in her dilemma of meeting a world famous scientist, Maya was tongue tied until she heard the irate words – “Well, what is it? Who are you?”
Maya quickly pulled Hari into the house and firmly shut the door behind her.
“Professor Hawkwing, there is something we need your help for and which we believe will help your studies as well.”
Steely blue eyes studied them before a casual – “Well, come on into the study then.”
Once in the study, Maya quickly launched into an explanation of events leaving out major parts of the story except for time travel and Symantak as well as describing an unspecified curse for the fear of being dismissed as a lunatic.”
Hawkwing quietly examined Hari’s hands and uttered a sigh of satisfaction.
He then turned to a stupefied Maya and said – “Girl, I don’t believe half your story except for the time travel bit. Your friend here confirms my working hypothesis over a long time about black holes.”
A baffled Maya asked – “Black holes?”
“Yes, time travel is possible only via black holes. Your extraordinary gem here somehow facilitates that travel. Your friend has been affected by travelling too much in the edges of the event horizon.”
“Listen carefully. There is a particle–antiparticle radiation is emitted from just beyond the event horizon. This radiation does not come directly from the black hole itself, but rather is a result of virtual particles being “boosted” by the black hole’s gravitation into becoming real particles. As the particle–antiparticle pair was produced by the black hole’s gravitational energy, the escape of one of the particles lowers the mass of the black hole. Due to whatever reason, your friend’s time travelling has disrupted the radiation. His particles that make up his body are being dissipated as we speak.”
Maya straining to understand asked – “How do we cure him?”
“There is only one way.”
Fun facts and disclaimer:
(1) Please note that the fictional scientist in my story is Sonny Hawkwing and not Stephen Hawking. No disrespect is intended by the publication of this piece towards the world famous physicist and one of my enduring scientific heroes.
(2) Some of the theories mentioned here references Professor’s Hawking’s work. You can read more about him here.
(3) The theory of Hawking radiation, one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in the last century can be found here.
(4) I wish to credit my blogger friend Kanika who has helped me with some of my scientific reading in the past.
(5) Last but not the least, you can read more of Maya and Hari’s original background here in the sample chapters for my earlier publication, Maya & the Mind Mystics.