Vocalizations: A Rather Harmless Exercise In Mind Control

A fanfic about the guy who painted the ECCO the Dolphin cover art.

By: Jason Johnson

Filed Under: Adventure Editor's Pick Editorial Experimental


Jost Van Dyke. Twenty-three nautical miles northwest. Accelerating through the crests in his faithful yacht the Saint Sebastien, Boris had been a little drunk and eager to get away, to feel the exhilaration of salty spray and crisp wind batting his raven ponytail. The emerald gulf was a sheet of glass, fractured but held intact, with the high sun dancing on the broken angles in rays. “This,” he thought, “I could paint.” The banality of his stay at the summer home on the Cote d’Azur had left him sexless and uninspired for three weeks.

He squinted into the bloom, where the emerald sheet acquiesced to ultramarine and then cerulean, dreaming unknown realms of marine fantasy that could exist in those colors. He imagined mermen perfect in shape and bearing. And in the horizon a voluptuous sea maiden with the iridescent tail of a snapper, draped in a scarlet mantilla, the tendrils of an unseen octopus concealing her womanliness, her curves accentuated in oil, her hands clutching a rusty trident and a crystal globe that somehow held in it the ocean and his boat and him.

Suddenly, an excruciating jolt like his head had been knocked off, followed by a piercing ring. He wasn’t sure how he had escaped the cabin, but he was certain he would not escape death. Quavering shades of blue. His lungs collapsed with liquid. The weight of an anchor pulling him down. At the height of the tunnel was a glare as he was falling into leagues of undulating fractals, unfurling in impossible spirals, neural patterns repeating in infinite sets that faded off into crudely animated pixels.

Dolphins are capable of communication with man on a high level of intelligence. They can move the apparent sound of their voice from one side of the head to the other. They can do this easily, smoothly, and continuously. With his two ears he could detect the fusion of his two sources in an apparent single one. There are additional complexities to the dolphin’s voice and phonation, and other sounds fill the screen with noise.

“No no, nssashhhh asssshhhh cccxxxcccxxx,” she says. Its echo resembles the call, delayed by being reflected from a flat surface 250 feet away. She can control the effects between the call and its echo. He can hear a classic “Doppler effect.” (The Doppler effect is an apparent shift in the frequency.) Her name, it seems, is Chee Chee.

Chee Chee has a “personal call” that is distinctive–that places an image in the sky. It’s a call that can be heard near the celestial equator, back over to the right in a small constellation in the northern hemisphere. Boris had heard it, jumped into the sea, and was saved by the dolphin that with music had enchanted him. He had been fleeing from her advances, but the dolphin was capable of changing his mind.

Boris responds mainly in delphinese clicks. Boris often speaks (clicks) while Chee Chee is still speaking. They are not “mesh-ing gears.” He estimates Chee Chee to be twelve years old. At least, she is much more sophisticated than the youngsters Elvar and Tolva. Chee Chee moves slowly in a circle and sonars his genital region. The apparent source of the sound moves between his two ears and through the center of his head.

Now Boris follows out of gratitude as she sings. Chee Chee leads him under a grate at latitudes between +90° and -70°. They swim rapidly, nosing each other, sonaring genitals, hovering, playing. He is always conscious of four stars that seem to have either evolved from the surrounding fauna or are a species from the vortex. They disappear in foam, with a hissing sound.

The Globeholder, perhaps living, is a dolphin galaxy that lies in the lunar bay. Here, orcas loll about, watching the cathode ray tubes built around two globes. Quickly then, we see that the patterns which occur, when the sound’s source is apparently moving inside his head, are circles ellipses, loops, and lines. The dolphin’s emitted sounds are relatively harmless long segments. Boris watches her blow-hole move in a different fashion than it did in the case of the other dolphins. The other dolphins give their personal call underwater. The whistles synchronize.

It is suggested (but unproven) that most if not all of the globes are covered in water, explaining why intelligence arose in an aquatic species rather than a land species. In the distance, drones from the dark remove a tube to rapidly sonar it. A sonar pulse will destroy:
-hive turrets
-vortex dragons
-vortex jellyfishes
-vortex worms
The tentacles retract eventually.

Interestingly enough, drones on the third planet in the Cassandra system have different carapace colors than drones in the vortex, the prior being dark green in color. Both species are technologically sophisticated and know how to generate electricity and make machines. Such devices include high-speed X-ray motion picture cameras that can operate underwater, which take pictures during the production of sounds. In one possible future, they have mastered antigravity.

Similar to the drones, a queen floats in a circular pattern around her chamber, located in the head of the constellation Pegasus. The recordings are studied in various ways in her cocoon. A tape recording is made in two separate tracks; one from each side of the dolphin’s head. They are recorded, one played against the other on the X and Y axes of the cathode ray tube. Though no information on Chee Chee’s intelligence or thought processes is revealed, the recording exerts a strong suction that will cause paralysis, and her nerves will be damaged if she stays in contact with it for too long.

The area itself is very large and full of strange machines as he follows Chee Chee to her pod. Chee Chee navigates the tube quickly, where in its deepest corridor resides a queen. As they go through a long sequence, we see beautiful systematic progressions of very complex figures on the cathode ray tube. Inside her head the beam of the cathode ray traces circles and ellipses of varying sizes. Chee Chee’s ability to communicate is reduced to the point where she is no longer able to produce sentences. “M15 — Named stars — Markab (Alpha Peg) — Scheat (Beta Peg) — Algenib (Gamma Peg) — Enif (Epsilon Peg) — Baham (Theta Peg),” she says.

Later in our investigation she regains the ability to sing. After traveling through the grottos and a number of other areas, 51 Pegasi, extrasolar planets (planets orbiting a star other than the Sun), neighboring constellations, Chee Chee tells Boris to look straight up at the zenith and measure one palm-width to the south and one to the east. They take high-speed motion pictures of the activities. When these pictures are slowed down, they see the fourth star, called City of Forever. It glares out and evanesces in blue pixels.

Boris came to on an empty beach, face down on the shore, the tide low, the waves lapping his sternum, his teeth gritty with sand, coughing up a lung. His thoughts swirling, but in no apparent pain, he lied there stunned and coughing, the wind knocked out of him, until fragments of his life returned in vapors: His yacht, his watch, his Joselina! Thoughts of their whereabouts inspired him to his knees, when he heard a shrill whistle behind him. He turned, squinted in the sun, and way out he saw it––a silver dolphin leaping in the surf.

This fanfic was inspired by the majestic cover art for ECCO the Dolphin on the Sega Genesis, which was painted in oil by the high-fantasy illustrator Boris Vallejo. It was duly inspired by the dolphin writings of the late neurologist John C. Lilly, best known as the inventor of the isolation tank, whose postulation of the Earth Coincidence Control Office (E.C.C.O.) probably lent the game its name. I’ve borrowed liberally from his book The Mind of the Dolphin, as well as the ECCO the Dolphin wiki on Wikia.

Filed Under: Adventure Editor's Pick Editorial Experimental

About the Author:
Jason Johnson is a freelance writer. His work has appeared in Kill Screen, Gamasutra, Unwinnable, GameSetWatch, FingerGaming, WSJ Speakeasy, and The Guide to Classic Graphic Adventures. He owns 27 Sun Ra albums.

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