A young man learns his entire life has been a series of manipulations by a shadowy cult in order to lead us toward an enlightenment he doesn’t believe in.
Adam Grigori’s entire life he’s been encouraged to follow his aptitude, not his folly, culminating in a brilliant but brief graduate school career in physics. If only he enjoyed it. Now, at twenty-five, he’s questioning his life path and life choices, but might lose his girlfriend if in the process. When a secretive, anti-science religious cult threatens him because of his work, it seems like perhaps a good time to quit the field of physics. If only the love of his girlfriend, the attention and affection of a beautiful FBI agent, and threats from a group of fervent science zealots didn’t stand in the way. As the pressures mount, he finds that either choice results in someone he loves dying.
The Luminescence, Chapter 1
“Maybe therein lies the problem. Singular intelligence without a soul to guide it, without the compliment of empathy and understanding. Is it truly illumination if the light has no heat? The tragedy of human luminescence manifested in a wandering void, a man searching for scientific answers in a world where the laws of physics provide only a framework, not the life. “
From Treatise on Isolation, Ulrich Engle, 1250
Adam was nothing.
She’d never said it. Words weren’t needed; he could guess her thoughts, had collected the subtle comments over the previous days and weeks, perhaps months. Stored them in that tight, dark place that tainted the flavor of the world. He knew. Only days -at most a week- remained of “Adam and Sharon.”
Her silence loomed, separated them as they hiked up sun-baked earth and stone. His sideways glances captured no expression, no frown or smile. She no longer asked his thoughts, sought his opinions. No idle conversation. She was simply there.
Did she want to be?
Why else would she be, if she didn’t want to be? She was still there, still beside him, still hanging on to a … a hope? A potential not yet realized but held somewhere in her minds eye? She accompanied him, hiking in the brutal sun even though she didn’t enjoy it, didn’t find the sight of piercing blue skies cathartically beautiful, didn’t share Adam’s love of all things outside. She was there. For him.
Perhaps he was nothing. But he didn’t need to be. The sun warmed his back, brought perspiration and inspiration. Things could change. He could change. He would change. Starting then.
“I’ll do the interview.”
She stopped, turned to him, wary, searching for a hint of his usual sarcasm.
“I’m serious. I’ll go to the job interview. But I can’t see why they would hire me.”
The smile. The smile he always longed for. “That’s ok, Adam. It’s a step. It means you’re trying. And I think you could surprise yourself once you really try. Maybe they’ll see the potential in you that I do.”
She squeezed his hand, brief and intimate in her message. He’d made her happy. Their future survived, albeit hazy and tenuous. His reciprocal squeeze lied, like his smile, said that he shared her vision of them, a happy couple, white picket fence - all the standard fantasies of someone other than him. But he might as well keep his options open, stumble down the path that life chose for him, the path of least resistance.
Just as he’d always done.