Zack doesn’t know where he came from. He’s not even sure what he IS.
But since they went to Cornwall for Gordon’s eleventh birthday and learned something very interesting about where Gordon’s special powers might have come from, Zack has been giving the matter some serious thought…
It seems to him likely that his existence and current residence inside Gordon is down to the same mysterious Entity that conferred those special powers upon Gordon in the first place. After all, is he not numbered himself among the special powers that Gordon has?
(I asked him why he gave “Entity” a capital letter. He didn’t know that either.)
Up to now I haven’t expounded upon Zack’s theory concerning his origins, because I didn’t want to slow the story down. But this seems to be an appropriate place to tell you about it, in case you’d like to know – because of course you can skip it if it doesn’t interest you.
If you’ve already read Book 2 chapter 19, you might remember the following snippet of conversation:
“I love him,” Edith said, “because he’s a part of you; though I still haven’t worked out how he knows so much…”
“We’ve been thinking about that,” Gordon said. “He’s got a theory…”
Gordon didn’t elaborate at the time because too much else was going on; but a few days later – when they were by themselves – Edith brought the subject up.
“We’ve thought some more about it,” Gordon told her. “I was wrong to call it a ‘theory’. What Zack has come up with, we have now decided, is a plausible hypothesis.”
Edith fought the urge to smile. “Would Zack like to remind me what a hypothesis is?” she asked.
“He would be delighted,” Gordon informed her. “A hypothesis is a tentative, possible explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.”
Now she knew. “So what is the difference between a hypothesis and a theory?”
“A theory is a more confident, probable explanation developed after extensive investigation and a thorough analysis of reasonable amounts of available evidence.”
“He really has swallowed a dictionary, hasn’t he?”
“That’s an interesting way of putting it,” Gordon replied pensively, “but what we’re thinking is that in a way, yes he has…”
“O…K…,” his mum said slowly, “so I’m going to understand this ‘plausible hypothesis’, am I?”
“Oh yes,” Gordon assured her. “You’ll understand it; but remember it’s only a starting point. We don’t have enough evidence yet. I’m going to ask Myrddin about it when I get a chance…”
“Right,” Edith said – because she was interested (as I hope you are) – “Zack’s plausible hypothesis…”
“Well,” Gordon said. “You know everyone’s brain has R.O.M. …?”
“You mean like in computers – Read Only Memory?”
“Yes. Our brains have a section that makes our bodies work: the heart and lungs and kidneys and everything. All the functions and instincts…”
“O…K…” said his mum, concentrating hard.
“That R.O.M. section of our brain is wired into our genes and passed on to us. We don’t control it; it controls us.”
“Yes it does,” his mum agreed.
“But we also have R.A.M.: that bit of our brains that records and stores everything that happens to us once we are born. R.A.M. increases our chances of survival because it helps us to make sensible decisions. We call it things like ‘intelligence’, ‘experience’, ‘memory’…”
His mum nodded. “Random Access Memory” she said, following the computer analogy. She was quite relieved that she was understanding; so far…
“Some people’s memories are better than others…” Gordon went on.
His mum nodded vigorously. Gordon’s memory was amazing. “I think you’ve got what they call ‘total recall'” she told him.
Gordon nodded back. “That’s what Zack says I have. He says that people use their R.A.M. and their R.O.M. together to develop ‘talents’ and ‘expertise’.”
Edith had never thought about it before, but it made perfect sense. You train your body and your mind (using R.A.M.), which then both become fitter (thanks to R.O.M.), and you find out what you’re best at…
“Zack told me about a boy called Stephen Wiltshire. You can find out more about him on the internet. He was autistic and didn’t learn to speak properly until he was nine, but he could do amazing drawings of buildings from memory. He sold his first drawing when he was seven, and when he was eight the prime minister at the time [Edward Heath] commissioned a drawing of Salisbury Cathedral from him!”
“Wow!” his mum said. Gordon followed her into the kitchen. She put the kettle on.
“There’s a little girl in America called Emily Bear. She’s on the internet as well. Her grandmother heard her playing the piano when she was two. By the time she was six she was giving concert performances, writing her own music and being described as a second Mozart. Her mum said she’d read about children like that but she never thought she’d have one…”
“I can identify with that,” Edith said feelingly. “But how does this relate to Zack?”
“Right…,” said Gordon. “This is where it gets even more interesting…”
It was one of Gordon’s most endearing qualities as far as his mum was concerned: he was interested in everything. That made him enthusiastic, and enthusiasm is infectious…
She popped her tea-bag into the cup. Gordon poured himself some orange juice.
“…Suppose a species evolved to a point where they’d accumulated vast amounts of knowledge, and knew how to implant that knowledge into another organism. Human beings have started doing something like that already: with microchips and robots…”
Edith agreed that out there in the universe somewhere there might be such a species…
“There’s talk now of us humans being able to slow down the process of aging. More and more people are living longer. So suppose this other species had also found out how to cure all diseases and prevent aging in itself,” he went on, his eyes shining.
“They would live a very long time…” Edith said, trying to grasp what that would mean in terms of controlling their population.
“Yes. And having accumulated vast amounts of knowledge and experience, and stored it all on microchips, they then discovered how to implant those chips into their own brains: to enhance their R.O.M. and their R.A.M. capabilities.”
“So their physical and mental characteristics would be computer-enhanced…” his mum said slowly.
“Yes,” Gordon said. “Wouldn’t such a creature seem immortal and omniscient to us – if it constantly renewed itself and knew everything there was to know?”
His mum followed the logic of his argument. “Then he or she would be like a…”
“A God or Goddess,” Gordon said, “or at least a very powerful witch or wizard…”
Edith began to make her own connections. “You said that fairies had a way of renewing their ‘magic’, whatever that is…”
“Yes, and they think the power comes from the God and Goddess of the Oak,” Gordon said. “But what if such gods and goddesses were actually aliens who planted microchips into the brains of the fairy species on Earth a long time ago: in order to be able to control the R.O.M. and R.A.M. functions of their brains? That way they could endow that species with ‘magic’ and ‘youthfulness’.”
“That’s pretty far-fetched…” Edith pointed out.
“It certainly IS,” Gordon agreed. “But is it any more far-fetched than what many people believe now? – that their lives are watched over by a “God”, who lives forever and who knows everything; who knows what they think, and who hears their prayers; who tells them what to do and sends them signs and helps them make decisions and sometimes saves them from disaster? They have faith in a “God” they call by different names, who moves in a mysterious way to perform wonders…?”
Edith made a face: this was a very tricky subject, on which many people held very strong views… But she supposed he did have a point…
“And just suppose…” Gordon went on, “… such a God or wizard or member of an alien super-race then decided to microchip at least two human children…”
Edith nodded again. It couldn’t do any harm to “just suppose”…
Gordon was closing in on his proposition. “One of those microchips might contain a chosen amount of accumulated human knowledge…”
His mum saw where he was going with the idea.
“You might even give such a chip a name…” Gordon went on. “An acronym of an appropriate phrase, which in English might be something like ‘Zenith of Accumulated Knowledge’…”
“Zack…” Edith murmured.
“…implanted in my brain, and therefore producing images only visible to me, or to any other creature with a compatible processor.”
He grinned suddenly. “It’s only a hypothesis,” he reminded his mum, “and it doesn’t explain everything…”
So there you are. It doesn’t explain everything, as Gordon says. You wouldn’t expect a microchip-induced hologram to be able to pop out of your body in the shape of another boy and help you out with things…
That’s why they’re still working on it.