I moved forward, the pressure of their will opposing me. Picking up a stone, I threw it as a distraction. Nothing. It was the living entry they opposed.

The gate lay open behind them, and I could hear the rustle of the wind in palm trees within. There was something hidden in there: some oasis of plenty, which I desired above all things to see. Only these two opposed me – these lidless eyes of fire.

Stare (blink) – turn my head – (blink) stare. One side to the other. Always I was too late to see if the other blinked at the same time. I could not penetrate their pattern.

I began to count inside my head. One, one thousand – two, two thousand – three, three thousand. On fifty, the eagle blinked. Resisting the impulse to run, I counted him through again. On fifty, another blink. Now for the other. Waiting for the blink, I started my count. One, one thousand; two, two thousand; three, three thousand – fifty-two. That was the ratio. I checked it a few more times. The blinks were a mere heartbeat, a second’s inattention, but they were spaced so many seconds apart.

The insane problem had come to dominate my whole mind, my being. How to match the two time-beats, given I could not count them both at the same time, nor could I watch both to time them from the blink? Every twenty-five cycles a moment must come, I reasoned, when the two wills were suspended at the same time. That was my moment for action.

Man, at least in some of his manifestations, is a reasoning animal. I scraped some pebbles from the ground around me and arranged them in a circle – in two circles, one by either hand. In the first there were fifty pebbles, in the second fifty-two. I began to touch the first circle of stones with my hand as I counted through the seconds, first the left hand, then the right, trying to imbue myself with the rhythm of their stone lids.

One, one thousand; two, two thousand; three, three thousand. When I thought the rhythm was right, I looked up and waited for the first, the left-hand blink. It came. I started my count with one hand, then looked over to the eagle statue on the other side. Half-way through the circle on the left (touch – touch – touch), the next blink came. I set my other hand to work. Touch: one thousand – touch: two thousand. Both hands were moving, rhythmically, strangely, in these counting circles of the will.

The end of the first circle was reached, and sure enough, there came the blink – but should that denote the next pebble, or space for a pause? My hand faltered, the pattern lost.

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