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The following is a work of fiction set in a very far future. Nothing in it should be taken too seriously…

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Id


It was an Id, of course. She found herself turning to the ancient Freudian term. Strange to think that Freud's basic vocabulary had survived so many centuries. Particularly since so little was known about Freud. About all that remained of the person was the name. Wouldn't it be odd, she thought, if Freud had been a man? Rather than a woman, the way everyone thinks?

But, in any case, the creature in the tank didn't have its higher mental processes activated. It was only the lowest functions in operation. In other words, it was an Id.

Now, what was an Id interested in? Well, that wasn't clear. Food, comfort, maybe sex…and…and death.

That's what Freud had said, wasn't it? It was the Id that gives us our Death Wish, our strange compulsion to destroy ourselves. 

And why? Because in the days when people were still born from women, the womb had been the perfect refuge. Before birth, the fetus knew no pain or suffering or want. After birth, however, the real world intruded. There was hunger and hurt and frustration. 

So, the Id, which is to say, the mind of the unborn child, struggled to return to the womb. And what was most like the womb? The tomb. 

She found herself thinking again of how hard life had been, back then, in the past. And, suddenly, she understood why it had seemed important. Maybe…just maybe…the "Death Wish" was healthy! Or at least it had been in ancient times. 

Today, when there was relatively little suffering, and lifetimes might extend indefinitely, there was nothing useful in having a wish to destroy yourself. But, in the past, everyone born was certain to know considerable pain during their lives. And, eventually, everyone would die. 

Maybe the Death Wish was the brain's way of dealing with that. Since you're going to die anyway, you could at least pretend that death is a "consummation greatly to be wished." The mind told you that after dying you'd go someplace more beautiful, and even if that were a lie, you felt better about the inevitable.

So maybe its hardwired into the brain, she thought. Maybe it keeps us from going mad with fear.

Unless…

It hit her.

 Suppose you didn't have that lovely lie to comfort you? Suppose that, for some reason, you were born without it? Or had it beaten out of you? Suppose you looked into the future and saw nothing but terror and darkness and the end?

He was a freak! she realized. The Creature had been born deformed. He had been born without an absolutely necessary part of the psyche. And, as a consequence, his Id had been truly horrible.

To survive it, to control it, you'd have to have a will of steel!

That was the answer. She knew so with absolute clarity. That was the reason for everything. That was why he hadn't died there in the ice, as the ship lifted into the sunless sky. That was why he had been able to walk back those thousand kilometers. That was why he had become terrible.

Become the Father of Demons…

Even in the warmth of the Center, she shuddered. She knew what it meant. The only possible path for them was the most dangerous of all. Just as it had been for him. 

All those centuries ago.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chapter Thirteen - Death Wish





Désiré and the Doctor returned to their table a short while later. Then, it was the Captain's turn to take the bishoni dancing on the floor. Bobbi and Arlanda were still out there, very close together, seeing nothing but each other.

Elena smiled at the sight of them, as well as of the other couples that circled the room in time with the music. A lovely scene, she thought.

Yet, she supposed, it was not unusual. There were scenes like this playing out in restaurants all over the planet…and beyond. From one end of the human universe to the other, there were women and bishoni in each other's arms, discovering the ancient and marvelous arts of love. The arts lost to us for so many empty years…

It struck her, though, that it had been once very unusual indeed. For the vast majority of humanity's existence, life had not been particularly pleasant. Usually, it had been just awful. People tended to die young, often in terrible ways, and then only after years of backbreaking toil.

That fact seemed important, somehow. But she couldn't think why, just yet. Well, put it aside for the moment…

Compulsively, Dr. Elena's mind turned back to her patients. Bobbi was fine, of course. But the other two? They were another story. The Thing in the vault, of course, was her biggest worry.

But the other, Bet, she was a concern. That unprovoked attack on Ginger had been scary. Really scary.

There was no getting around the fact that the woman was simply not working out. There was just too much hostility there. Too much self-satisfaction. Too much, well, arrogance.

She had a momentary fantasy in which she tossed Bet into the Vault. There would be a flurry of fins and teeth, like sharks in a feeding frenzy. Then, nothing. Total quiet, except maybe a few bubbles and a soft burp from the Thing in the tank. The Beast would be satisfied at last. And Bet would be gone for good. There'd be nothing left of her.

Well, this was amusing, but it wasn't getting her anywhere. 

The Creature in the vault…how could it be calmed?


The Creature In the Vault



♀/♂

Special Notice: Don't forget, you are free to read this work here, but if you like it, please consider buying a copy of the full text, which you can find on Amazon here.





Monday, October 22, 2012

A little smile of triumph


♀/♂

Dr. Elena, the Captain and Désiré watched them go. After a moment, Elena turned to Désiré and said, "May I have the honor?" Désiré nodded and extended his hand. 

Before she rose, the Doctor glanced at the Captain. "If you don't mind, that is."

"Oh, no," the Captain replied cheerfully. "Just remember to bring him back. I've got him until the morning."

"I promise," the Doctor said. "All the parts will be in working order upon return." And she led him onto the floor.

They moved smoothly with the music, taking quick glances now and then at the young Knight and her charge. They were doing passably well at dancing.

"Your new boy will be a triumph," Désiré said, pleasantly. 

"I think so, yes," the Doctor replied, a little pride creeping into her voice. "He is remarkable."

"Does he know he was murdered?"

"Yes, but so far I'm trying to draw his attention away from that. There is no sense in distressing him unduly."

The younger couple swept past them. The Knight was staring at Bobbi, her eyes huge and eager. Bobbi was too shy to look back.

"By the way," the Doctor said to Désiré, "your choice was excellent. Arlanda is perfect for his first time."

"I'm pleased, yes," the boy agreed. "They're a good match. She has just enough experience that she won't be totally unfamiliar with sex, yet not so much experience that they won't take joy in exploring one another's bodies."

The Doctor laughed. "And how would you know how much experience, if any, Arlanda has?"

Désiré gave her a sly smile.

"Ah," the Doctor said. "You are a scamp, my dear."

"Which," replied the boy, "is one of the reasons you brought me back to life."

"True enough." Then she changed the subject. "Say, speaking of which, next Tuesday, I was thinking we might go to the beach. There's a hotel in the Caribbean that's seems quite nice."

"Whatever you like," replied Désiré, a little smile of triumph on his perfect lips. "Whatever is your desire."










Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And dancing...


"Let's order," the Captain said, merrily. Robots appeared with menus and passed them about. Bobbi found himself confronting several food items, many of which he had never heard of before. What was "Mycoprotein?" And how did you eat "caseus?"

Désiré saw his distress and leaped to use it. "I believe our young friend may be unfamiliar with a few items on the menu. Perhaps we should be of assistance." He glanced at the Knight. "In fact, I think the Sirana should be of service here. Why don't you, um, order for him."

Arlanda looked almost panicked. But, she seemed to steel herself, and did her best to smile at Bobbi. "Uh, when you were alive the first time, what were some of your favorite foods?"

Bobbi's mind raced. "Hot dogs, hamburgers, creamed tuna on crackers, beans and rice, Szechuan cooking…"

"What is a Szechuan?"

"It was a place in China. The cuisine was very spicy."

"Ah, excellent. You may like the Goldoi."

He nodded, submissively, and allowed the Knight to order for him when the robot waiters reappeared. Then, robot musicians began to play. At that, some of the couples moved onto the floor and began to dance. The music was slow and the dancer's movements were gentle.

By God! He was stunned to realize that what they were doing was actually familiar. They Dominas and their Bishoni held each other in light embraces while they moved the feet in a faintly rectangular pattern. Amazing. Even after all these long centuries, women and boys courted one another with music and what was recognizably the box step and the waltz. 

"Superb," said Désiré. "Let us have a bit of dancing while we're waiting." He nodded at Arlanda. "I believe you and Bobbi should give it a try."

Arlanda appeared absolutely stricken. "I don't know how…."



Absolutely Stricken



Désiré laughed. "Bobbi will show you."

Bobbi stood unsteadily. He was terrified. But, he did know how to dance. All those years ago, he'd taken class after class in ballroom dancing in the desperate hope that it would make him popular. He'd failed in that purpose, but he knew how to waltz.

Arlanda moved to him. "Be gentle with me," she said, half smiling but also a little serious. She put her strong arms around him and they joined the other couples on the floor.





~~~

Don't forget. You can get the whole of this e-book at Amazon here


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

They're dead


"Let's seat ourselves," Désiré interjected smoothly.

A robot appeared silently and held the chair for Bobbi. He sat, a little gingerly. He wasn't used to having someone seat him. He had a brief flash of mortifying memory, being a boy in school and having pranksters and bullies pull chairs away just before he sat down. He'd plummet to the floor and the class would burst into laughter, no matter how much pain he might be in. Sometimes the teacher joined them.

"They're dead," Dr. Elena told him, so softly that no one else could hear.

"Who? What?"

"Whoever you're thinking about. Whoever caused you pain. They've been dead for five hundred years."

"Was it that obvious?"

"Only to me. I've practice in reading expressions. And, right then, your eyes were full of pain."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Introductions


♀/♂

Désiré led him to a table in the corner. At it already were Dr. Elena and two other Dominas, sitting tensely and watching them approach. "Good evening, everyone," Désiré said, in his melodious voice. "Let me perform introductions."

The two unfamiliar women stood quickly. "This is Bobbi," Désiré said to them, smiling, and watching their eyes as they stared at the boy. "You know he's just awakened after the long nap." 

Bobbi found himself blushing and looking shyly at his own feet. Instinctively, though, he remembered to curtsy. 

"Look up, dear," Désiré whispered to him. Then, in a louder voice, "You know Dr. Elena already. But these two —" he smiled—"are new to you. This," he indicated the enormous woman on the left, "is Captain Morgana. She's a very dear friend of mine. So—" a mischievous look crossed his face—"hands off."



The Captain



The tall woman, the Captain, laughed and leaned over to extend a hand to Bobbi. "We're not that exclusive."

"That," Désiré replied, still smiling, "is not what you said last night."

"Um, yes," the Captain stammered out, and this time it was her turn to blush.

Bobbi found himself giving his hand to the giantess. He felt his fingers enfolded within her enormous grip. It was an odd feeling, yet comfortable. She let him go.

"And this," Désiré went on, indicating the one on the right, "is Sirana Arlanda." 

Sirana? Bobbi remembered. The title meant she was a Knight of the Republic. She wasn't quite as tall as the Captain, but still she was very tall. He was tiny compared to her. She was beautiful, of course, with the hard-edged beauty of someone who is used to being in charge.

He risked a glance at her face…and got a shock. Her features were chiseled and majestic, like those of a heroic Greek goddess. 

But her eyes!

She was gazing at him with longing, shyness, and even a vast vulnerability. What on Earth was going on? 

"I…I am so glad to meet you," she said, clearly off-balance. "I …that is…you are very beautiful."

The Captain laughed heartily. "Now that's a novel way to begin a conversation! How are you? How do you do? You're beautiful." 

The Knight gave her a steely glance. "Well, he is."

"No argument from me on that."










Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dinner



To Bobbi's surprise, it turned out that the Center maintained a restaurant. "Actually, it is quite chic," Désiré explained. "Very expensive. All the Dominas come here to see the newcomers, like you. It is considered very exciting."

The restaurant was down a hall and to the left. At the entrance, Désiré stopped him. "One last check," he said. He gave Bobbi a quick inspection, straightened a bit of cloth on the romper, and then stood back. "Perfect. Take my hand and we shall make the grand entrance.”

Bobbi nodded, terrified but obedient. He was glad he'd brought his Teddy. It felt comforting under his arm.

"Then, we shall begin," Désiré said, and led him through the doors.

Inside was a large room, richly furnished, with tables and chairs. Robot waiters cruised about, taking orders and delivering food. The customers sat at their meals. Bobbi realized that most of those were women. There were a few boys here and there, almost always at a table with three women or more. But mostly it was just the women themselves, seated alone or in tense small groups.

Désiré swept into the place with Bobbi doing his best to keep up. As they entered, there was a distinct hush. It wasn't total silence, but Bobbi noticed it all the same. They are staring at Désiré, he thought. But, then he looked again and realized that many of the eyes in the crowd were directed at him. They're looking at…me?

The hush gave way to the murmur of ordinary conversation. Désiré whispered softly into his ear, "You have just created a sensation."

"I have?"

He touched Bobbi's cheek. "Ah, my dear child, how little you understand." 








Saturday, September 22, 2012

Into The Hall


♀/♂

 Désiré led him out the door and into the hallway. There were still people and machines moving about, but it was quieter than it was before. "The Center isn't like a hospital," he explained. "At least, not a hospital as hospitals were in our times. They don't have that mania…that sense of emergencies at every hour."

They walked along, Désiré explaining this or that feature. "Notice the paintings? They love art. Not very much into abstract, I'm afraid. Or conceptional. " He laughed. "Same is true for their other arts. Sculpture, 3D graphics, theater…." 

Bobbi nodded. "What is their written literature like?"

"Oh, similar. Some good. Some bad. Some very good."

"And their poetry?"

"They write a good deal of it." Désiré paused. "But, funny thing, they don't write much in Alona. They have regional languages. Europe and the Americas speak something called Pantos. East Asia has Aeflinisa. And that's what they write their poetry in."

"But," Bobbi guessed, "Alona is reserved for communication and legal purposes."

"Why, yes. How did you know?"

Bobbi said. "It has to be. You couldn't write poetry or literature in Alona. It is a constructed language designed to be a lingua franca. An interlingua."

Désiré came a stop and stared at him. "It's an artificial language?"

"Obviously."

"Why 'obviously?'"

Bobbi found himself slipping into lecture mode. "Well, just consider the verbs…" Every language, he explained, that is actually used in real life by real people has some verbs that are regular—that is, they obey a common set of rules. "Like the English verb 'Jump.' It is completely regular. I jump. You jump. They jump. Or in the past tense, I jumped. You jumped. They jumped. The same word in each case changed in only minor ways to show differences in time. It always follows the rules."

But, now, he said, "consider another English verb, Be." That wasn't even remotely regular. I am. You are. He is. "The same meaning, the same verb, but expressed by three different words."

"Ah, oui," Désiré agreed. "We have the same thing in French. Je suis. Te es. Il est."

"Nous sommes. Vous etres," Bobbi added, remembering his high school French. "Every language…every human language…has some sort of irregular verbs. And they're usually the verbs that one uses the most often."

"But not Alona," Désiré said, suddenly understanding.

"Exactly. In Alona, all the verbs, all the time, behave in exactly the same way." 

Désiré shook his head. "You are absolutely right. I have never noticed it."

"It's so consistent," Bobbi continued, meditatively, "that I wonder if it wasn't designed by a machine of some sort. It is a little too logical."

Désiré shook his head. "Were you a linguist in your first life?"

"Pardon?" Bobbi remembered where and when he was. "Oh, no. I was a continuity editor for video games."

"A what kind a editor?"

"Continuity," he smiled. "Let's just say it was my job to make certain that if something happened at one level of the game then it was the logical outgrowth of what happened in the previous level. Or, to put it another way, I was supposed to find things that didn't make sense. Didn't fit the pattern." He felt a little wistful. "I was good at it. I was always good at seeing things that weren't quite right. I could always spot the Discontinuity."

"I understand…" Désiré was quiet for a moment but took Bobbi by the arm. "Listen to me. Everything you've just said is fascinating. But don’t say it in front of the Women…our Dominas. They don't find that kind of intelligence attractive in a man. They want to believe there isn't a thought in that pretty little head of yours."

"Oh," Bobbi felt embarrassed. "Of course. Of course. Sorry. I got carried away."

"Not a problem. Just remember, no matter how interesting you find it, they probably don't want to hear it. D'accord?"

"Oui. D'accord,"

"Bravo. But," and he gave the other boy a wink, "when we're alone, tell me more. This is most interesting."






Sunday, September 16, 2012

"practice your skills at self-display"


♀/♂

After an hour or so, Désiré said that they ought to be getting ready for dinner. "We'll be joining the good Doctor Elena and a couple of friends of mine for a bite," he explained. "It will be a chance for you to get into the swing of things."

Again, Bobbi felt the terror of a shy man in the face of a social situation. "Friends…?"

"Don't worry. You will charm them. Now, hurry, and bathe, and practice your skills at self-display."

The two Basic robots appeared and led him to a bathroom. It came, he discovered, with a shower, very much like those that existed in his own times. The only difference was that there were no controls on the water. He could not set the temperature or the flow. Instead, the water simply began when he entered the shower itself. It was, he was delighted to find, neither too hot nor too cold. It was perfect.

Though, there was something odd about having no say in the temperature. It was like being a child again, and not being trusted with the hot water tap. Instead, his caretakers handled everything. 

He was also not allowed to use the soap. Instead, and to his amazement, the Basics entered the shower, the water flowing down their metal skins, and scrubbed and shampooed him. He felt the foaming bubbles flowing down his naked body. That, too, was strangely pleasant, as he stood in total passivity.

The shower ceased and the machines helped him exit. They dried him with brightly colored towels and then powdered his skin. To his astonishment, they even applied cosmetics to his nipples, highlighting them with a red-brown tint that they applied in the shape of small hearts.

Next they led him back into the front room. Désiré greeted him. "Excellent," he said. "Now, select clothing. What do you think the Women will want to see you in? A little test for you."

Bobbi allowed the two Basics to display a number of garments to him. Finally, he picked a romper of a transparent lacy material.

"Well done!" Désiré said, clapping his slim, delicate hands. "Excellent choice. Personally, I would have selected something darker, but the pink will highlight your innocence."

Once more, the Basics dressed him. Then, once again, they did his make up and hair. Afterwards, he regarded himself in the mirror. He stared. Once more, he wondered at it. How was it possible for him to be the lovely thing before him? He, who had been so loathed in his first life?

"You are fabulous," Désiré assured him. "And, yes, you will get used to it. It takes a while." He grew thoughtful. "Oh, and take with you the Teddy Bear. Your Yookey. It will drive them wild." Bobbi was surprised but he picked up his bear. He felt its soft fur on his skin.

Désiré stood and took Bobbi by the arm. "But, come, we should go meet the Ladies." He laughed, a look of sweet mischief on his face. "And believe me, once they see you, they may never be the same again."




Monday, September 3, 2012

Chapter 11, Alona's Rule






"I frightened her?" Bobbi said, disbelieving.

"Oh, yes. You did," Désiré replied. "What was the term you Americans used? You scared her half to death."

"But all I did was give her things she wanted."

"Which was the problem," the other boy replied. "You see, there is just something creepy about a man who is that desperate. When someone is that willing to debase themselves, she begins to wonder what it is you conceal. Maybe no other woman would touch you. Maybe you have disease. Maybe you are a pervers. Maybe you are the mass murderer and have bodies in the basement. The wonder is that your Millie did not call the police and have you arrested."

"I didn't know.  I had no idea."

"Typical," Désiré replied, a little disgusted. "So very typical. Particularly for American men. You thought you could gain a woman's favor only by buying her. That is, by giving her everything she wanted."

He shook his head. "But that was not your fault. You were trained from birth to think you had no value. No right to self-respect. All those bumbling sit-com fathers and dimwitted boyfriends on TV. All those women teachers eager to 'empower' girls and teach boys that they are nothing. All those corporations hiring women over men. No wonder that when they, the women, decided that they and they alone should rule the world you just rolled over and gave it to them."

"I…"

"But, that is of no import now." Désiré looked him up and down. "You will have to learn much. You will have to learn that you are not here to be their Knight in Shining Armor. That you are not here to serve their every need." He laughed softly again, but this time there was something a little grim about it. "Indeed, it is time for them to serve a few of yours."

"I'm sorry," Bobbi said. "I don't understand."

Désiré patted him on the arm. "Don't worry. You'll soon learn the rules of the game. I'll teach them to you."

"Thank you," he said, grateful, but mostly just feeling confused.

"We shall start with your appearance," Désiré said, and then began to instruct him in the arts of make-up and clothing.















Wednesday, August 22, 2012

You absolutely terrified her.


/

Désiré cocked his head to one side and seemed to be measuring Bobbi's size and shape. "What was the problem, could you tell? Why didn't you date?"

"I don't know. They just wouldn't do it. I mean, go out with me."

"Hmmm." The other boy considered. "Tell me about your approach. How did you deal with women?"

"I don't know. I just tried to be nice."

"Nice? That may be significant. Tell me about the times women rejected you. Better yet, tell me about one woman who rejected you. Tell me the whole story."

"Well…" he thought. "There was Millie." And he found himself telling Désiré everything.

Millie had worked in one of the same companies he had, at NuGames in fact. She'd been in the cubicle down from his. She was, he thought, absolutely gorgeous, and once he'd thought he seen her smiling at him. So, he had tried to woo her a little. He'd called her up and asked her to join him for coffee. She'd agreed and they'd gone to the café across the street. 

He'd bought her the coffee. Then asked if she were hungry and when she said she was, he'd gotten her a muffin. And then he'd thought she might like a new travel mug, so he got her one of those, too. And then, they'd walked back and he'd held the door for her. And…

"And let me guess," Désiré interrupted, "you showered her with gifts. And any time she wanted something, or you thought she wanted something, you were there to provide it. And, then, all of a sudden, she told you never to call her again."

"Er…yes," he admitted. 

"You terrified her," the other boy said, chiding him gently. "You absolutely terrified her."








Saturday, August 18, 2012

"A virgin?"


Bobbi did as he was told. "Well, there isn't much to say. I was twenty-eight years old when I died. I worked in the video game industry. I was unmarried."

"Unmarried. Living with someone?"

"No."

"Regular girlfriend,"

"Um," he blushed, a little embarrassed. "No."

"Any girlfriends?"

He squirmed. "Not really."

"A virgin?"

He didn't answer and looked in the direction of the nearest corner.

"I see," Désiré said. "Don't worry. We'll change that."


A Virgin?






Friday, August 17, 2012

"But you are not quite certain when you died, yes?"


/
"Excellent." Then Désiré was back in front of Bobbi. "Me, I've been here about two years. Very nice time, I've had. You wouldn't speak French would you?"

Bobbi was doing his best to keep up. "Ah. No. A word or two."

"Pity. I'm trying to find other francophones. That's what I was last time I was alive. I had a most successful public relations agency. With offices in Paris, Ho Chi Min city, and Senegal. Well, for a couple of years, anyway."

He smiled and didn't try to answer. This was all moving much too fast.

"What language did you speak?" Désiré continued.

"English. I was an American."

"Ah, good. I liked America. I went to school there. Got my undergrad degree at a school in your New England. Then an MBA at Boston University."  At that point, he switched from Pantos to English.


Sing her praises loud and true!
We'll fight for our alma mater,
On to sure victory!!
Fight! Fight! Fight!

Then he laughed musically and it was back into Pantos. "BU was very much into International Students. They recruited a lot of us. I loved Boston. The nightlife was sublime! The clubs…magnificent."

He glanced at Bobbi and smiled. "But we talk more of my story later. Tell me, now, about yourself. When did you live? The first time?"


Tell Me About Yourself



Bobbi collected himself. "Ah, early twenty-first century." He mentioned the year of his birth and guessed at the date of his death.

"But you are not quite certain when you died, yes?"

"I, yes. I mean, I'm not."

"It is unsurprising," Désiré assured him. "Sometimes it is very hard to recall the last moments. Particularly if it was unexpected. Or violent. The brain protects you, you see, from such shocks. It may be a very long time before you remember it all."

He took Bobbi by the arm and led him to the chaise. "Me, for instance, I died of violence, too. I had the oh-so-terrific idea of opening an office in Port-au-Prince. It made such sense. A French-speaking country. A developing economy." He sighed, sadly. "And then I am there not a week before the earthquake hits." 

He sat on the chaise and patted the place beside him. "But come, sit, and tell me more of your previous life."







Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Oh, the mischief you'll get into."


/

The Doctor shook her head. "Oh, the mischief you'll get into." She turned to face Bobbi. "I'll be back in a bit. I know I'm leaving you in good hands."

After she was gone, Désiré came dancing over to him. "So when did you wake up?"

"Er," he tried. Had it really just this the other day? " I woke up yesterday."

"Ah. That means they got confidence in you. They think you're developing well." He walked over to the chaise on which Bobbi had awoken. "Here? Yes? You woke up here." He picked up the Teddy where it lay on the sofa. "Ah, good. Very good. An excellent affectation. Keep it with you. It will drive them wild."

"It…it will?"

"Indeed. Does it have a name?"

"Ah…" He thought quickly. It really didn't. He'd just thought of it as his Teddy. But, if it had a name, what would it be…? "Yookey," he said at last. Somehow, in his implanted understandings, he knew that Yookey was a popular pet name in Pantos. It was like "Sweetie-pie" or "Honey Bunny." An affectionate diminutive. "Its name is Yookey" he concluded.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"I make things interesting..."


One of the two Basics glided over to the door and opened it. Bobbi heard a merry "Greetings All!" and a bundle of energy entered the room. Actually, it was a young man, about his own size, but so animated, so full of bounce and vitality, that he seemed more like a tiny, perfumed cyclone than a person.

The figure whirled up to him and extended a delicate hand to be shaken. "You must be Bobbi. I'm Désiré. Well, Constant-Désiré. But that's too long. So just call me Désiré."

"I…" he said, flustered and amused at the same time. 

"Not the name I had the first time I was alive, 'course," the boy continued. "I was Constant-Désiré Roger Nguyen Brodeur. But that was way too much."


Constant-Désiré Roger Nguyen Brodeur



Before Bobbi had a chance to say anything, the boy had whirled off to Elena. "So this is your new protégée." 

"He is." Doctor Elena was smiling, almost grinning. Clearly, Désiré was one of her favorites.

"He's adorable. You're in serious trouble." Désiré laughed. "I mean, all of you. The ladies will be fighting over him like …well, like ladies fighting over a beautiful boy. How the fur will fly!"

 "And you, of course, will teach him everything about making the claws come out with particular force," she said, with a wry expression.

"Naturally. That's what I'm here for. I make things interesting."





Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chapter Nine -- Constant-Désiré




"I'm sorry you had to see that," Doctor Elena told him. She'd come to his rooms and was now sitting beside him. "I know it was disturbing."

"Is the boy all right?" he wanted to know.

"He's fine. A little shaken up. But he'll be fine."

"What was the story on the woman?"

"Ah, a problem patient." And that was all she'd say on the matter. 

"I see,"

"Unfortunately," she added, "it is has rather complicated my schedule. I had originally planned to spend the afternoon with you. But, I'll be working with the young man you saw."

"The red-haired boy."

"Yes. His name is Ginger, by the way. Perhaps you'll meet him later. But, after this morning, he may need a bit of handholding."

"I would think so." Bobbi remembered the furious woman, her fists clenched and her arms outstretched. She'd been so obviously so eager to hurt the boy.

"But, to amuse you while I'm gone, I've asked a friend to drop by. I think you will like him."

A friend? This must be the person that Omni had hinted about. 

"Another Revival like yourself," Elena went on. "I've asked him to …uh…what was the expression you had in English? Take you under his leg."

He giggled. "Wing. It was 'take you under his wing.'"

"Ah. That does sound better."

There was a soft chiming noise from outside the door. "There," she said. "That will be him now."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Not quite paradise...


After he left the library, Bobbi realized he was hungry. He decided to have a picnic for his lunch. The Basics brought food, a basket, and a blanket and he sat on the grass of a little hill, eating and watching the flowers and the people moving past them. Omni seemed to sense that he wanted a little time alone. Her avatar shimmered into existence beside him just long enough to say that if he wanted anything, he should simply ask and she would hear. Then she was gone.

He sat and dozed. He thought about taking a nap, but decided there was simply too much to see, too much to learn about his new world. He would remain awake.

He had a good view from where he was, on his little hill. He could see a large swath of the garden. Mostly he saw robots, moving to and fro on their various assignments. The next largest group was women, tall and stately, usually alone but sometimes in pairs or groups. Then there were a few couples, huge women and their delicate boys. Sometimes they were hand in hand. Other times they'd slip behind statues or bushes, and then emerge a little while later with wrinkled clothes, mussed hair, and slightly embarrassed expressions.

Rarest of all were single boys, like himself, without a woman to protect them. He saw just two of these. One, a dark-haired lad, was just coming back into the Center when he was going out. They had smiled at one another shyly, but neither had the courage to initiate a conversation.

The other was a boy with bright red hair and a ready, sweet smile. He had been walking up the path just after Bobbi had sat down for his lunch. They nodded to one another, and the boy had said, "Wonderful day!" Bobbi had agreed, and the Bishoni went on his way.

A little after that, Bobbi saw something very odd. It was a woman, coming up the path from the Center. But this was a woman unlike any he’d seen before in his new world. Where the other women were tall and self-possessed, and serene, this one was merely tall. She had a sour expression on her face, and she stalked along the path with the air of one who is working her way through a garbage pit.

She came abreast of him and looked up to where he sat on his blanket. He nodded, cautiously. She looked disgusted and glanced away. I've had friendlier greetings, he thought, from guard dogs.

Odd. He realized it was the first time he'd seen anyone who didn't look happy since he'd awaken. Or, not unhappy, but rather angry.

Oh, well.

After she was gone, he sat for a minute or two longer. Then, he decided it was time to go. He stood, but had to take one more last look down the hill. The path wound down toward a look. He realized that coming back along it, coming toward him, was the red haired boy.

Going the other way, with her back to Bobbi and her face to the other boy, was the sour woman.

The boy looked up and smiled. He said something Bobbi couldn't hear, but it looked like "Good afternoon."

And then, without warning, the woman was yelling at him. "You goddamn sexist son of a bitc…!" One of her hands was up and her fists were clenched. 

"Omni!" Bobbi called.

"I've seen it," the machine's said out of the air. Already robots were running across the grass to where the two were. While Bobbi watched, they converged on the crying boy and the raging woman. They led the two off, in different directions.

"What's going on?" he asked Omni.

Her avatar appeared. "A problem," and then she was silent.

Yes, Bobbi thought, not quite paradise after all.

It was something he'd remember.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Guards and Warnings


/
After a few more minutes, Bobbi finished with his books and handed them to a waiting robot attendant. It took them gingerly and moved away toward some central repository in the building. He watched as it walked away.

It was then that he noticed two things that he hadn't seen before. First, here and there, standing in inconspicuously places, were robots of a sort he'd never seen before. They were large, silent and motionless, and just a little ominous. Second, there were little notices posted on the walls. They were in Alona, and they read, "Patrons are reminded that within the library premises the Right Of Privacy is limited."

Guards? he thought. And warnings? He turned to the avatar beside him. "Omni, what are those robots?"

Omni smiled. "Just security."

"And those signs about privacy?"

"Oh, nothing sinister. It is just that in the library I must keep track of everyone's motions."

"Why? Why do you need guards? Why are you watching?"



Guards?



"Quite simple," the avatar said pleasantly. "Some of these books are valuable and rare. Someone could steal them. So, we take precautions."

"I see," he said. He tried to keep his face expressionless, but he wondered if she realized how very much she had just revealed to him. If there were guards, that meant there were thieves. 

Which meant this world wasn't quite paradise after all.

Out there, he knew, in the world beyond the Center, there was an economic system in which money and goods changed hands. And, in that system, some people were rich and some were not. And some of those who weren't, were willing to steal to get what they wanted.

Interesting.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Chapter Eight, Not Quite Paradise




"You know Papamellius?" Omni said, her avatar showing something like stunned disbelief on its simulated features. "How is that possible?"

Bobbi shook his head. "Oh, I don’t know him, of course. But he looks a lot like, well, figures from myth and stories in my own day. Like Baron Samedi, for instance."

"Baron Who?" 

"Samedi. He was one of the more powerful Loa…uh, spirits…in Voodoo."

The avatar seemed to freeze. Then, it asked, "What is Voodoo?"

"Ah, a religion of Haiti. Which was an island."

"In the Caribbean, yes."


"Anyway, Voodoo was a religion. It combined African with European elements. I don't really know much about it."

 Omni seemed genuinely puzzled. "None of this is in my databases."

"Really? Maybe your programmers didn't think it was worth while."

"That is unlikely. May I ask what book that is?" 

Bobbi turned the cover to show the book it to Omni. 

"Strange," said the Avatar, "I don't recall that book being in the library. I don't believe I've ever seen it before. I don't find it even in electronic form at the World Repository of Texts."

"Something misfiled?"

"Perhaps." One of the Basics padded up beside him and took the book. Omni continued. "I'll see that it is properly handled."  

"As you wish,"

The Avatar smiled. "In the meanwhile, I will do some research. I will seek out your Baron."

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Papamellius


Omni had barely spoken before a Basic appeared beside them with several oversized books. They made their way to a reading table and Bobbi sat with them. He opened the first. Its title was "Contemporary Illustration and Design." He realized it was a kind of hardback magazine, a periodical for illustrators and artists.

He flipped through the pages. They contained features profiling various artists and full color prints of their work. A fairly typical piece began,  "Veena Seven combines paint media with ion deposition to craft a fascinating throwback to pre-Impasse art-styles."

He was happy to find that the images themselves were reasonably comprehendible. There were odd, with new subjects and strange new media, but the basic themes were quite accessible to him. There were abstracts and realistic paintings. Apparently human conceptions of two-dimensional art were pretty much unchanged.

He selected another text. This one was titled, New Explorations In Representation. He turned the pages past landscapes and portraits. There was some beautiful photography in it, particularly of gardens. They do love their flowers, he thought.

He glanced through another and then another, and then a third. The last, though, was a little strange. It seemed smaller than the others.  He checked the title. Robin Goodfellowe's Lordly Journal For Gentlemen and Ladies.
That was odd. He flipped it open and almost instantly came to something startling. On one sheet there was a large image in garish black and red, almost like a cartoon, that showed a strange and horrific being. It was like corpse, with a skull for a face, while on its head was a top hat, like the ones worn by late nineteenth and early twentieth century gentleman. It was riding on a huge white horse. Under one arm, it had a flaming jack-o'-lantern.


Papamellius



 There was no artist given, but there was a caption that read, "Papamellius on Halloween."

He turned to Omni's avatar. "What is this?"

For just a split second, the projection flickered again. She's checking with Doctor Elena, he realized.

Then, it spoke, "We, ah, didn't realize that painting was in the materials we selected for you. But, anyway, it is a portrayal of a folkloric character. He is the Father-Of-Demons."

"Frightening,"

"He…yes, he is."

Bobbi regarded it for a few more seconds and then, discontinuity.

"Oh, of course," he said at last. "I know him well."

And he looked up to see Omni staring at him, this time in genuine surprise.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A Busy Day Ahead Of You



He took the sheet and draped it around his shoulders, less because he was cold than because he was not yet used to being nude. Then, he continued his meal, delighting in the new tastes and sensations.

"Now, in my role as keeper of your calendar," Omni's voice continued, "I need to tell you that you have a busy day ahead of you."

"I do?"

"After breakfast, we will dress you. And, if you like, you will have a pleasant walk in the park. Or perhaps you would care to visit the Center's library."

"The library, please."

"Excellent. Then, you are meeting with Doctor Elena at around two. That shouldn't take long. She just wishes to check on your progress. Immediately after that, you will have a visitor."

"Who?"

"A new friend. You will see. Then, you will have dinner with the Doctor and…several others."

"But, who? I …"

"Shall we dress?" the computer neatly sidestepped his questions. After a bit, Bobbi gave in to the inevitable and let two Basics bathe and clothe him, and then apply cosmetics to his face. Then, the avatar beckoned him. "Come, let's go the library."



Shall We Dress?



He followed the faintly translucent figure into the hallway, down a passage, and then to an elevator to the third floor. A door swung open before them and Bobbi found himself in an enormous library. Rack after rack of books with beautiful bindings stretched off in all directions. Humans and robots moved among them, selecting texts and carrying them off to finely crafted tables of cherry wood.

"Wonderful," he breathed, startled. "Absolutely lovely."

"All these books, and a great many more, are of course available in electronic form," Omni informed him. But, you Humans seem to love physical reality. And it is the custom here to present such text as both literature and art. The bookbinder is, today, considered as talented as the sculptor."

"Amazing," he looked around him. There was so much activity! Clearly the center was far more than just a medical facility. Readers must come here from many kilometers around.

"What would you like to read?"

He thought. "History," he suggested. Something to help him get his footing in his new universe.

The avatar seemed to flicker for a moment. Then it said, "I've checked with the Doctor. She thinks it might be best to wait a week or two before you got into that sort of thing. It might be a little disturbing just yet. Perhaps something else?"

He shrugged. "Art, then."

"Superb choice,"

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Papamellius



He awoke. The sun was already high in the sky and its yellow-gold light was slanting through the high windows. He wondered what time it was.

"A little after ten," Omni's voice informed him, the computer's voice coming out of the thin air.
He wasn't surprised but he did wonder. "How did you know what I was thinking?"

"I didn't. It was only a guess based on your expression and my experience of sleeping humans." Omni's avatar shimmered into existence next to the bed. It stood, seeming to look down at him, a smile on its face.

"I see," he rolled over. The room, he realized, was beautiful in sunlight. He'd been too busy to notice it before. The tapestries on the walls, the ornate furniture, the great windows and mirrors that seemed to invite light into the room from every direction…all magnificent!

Yet, it was a little overwhelming. There was something a bit massive about it. When he had his own place, he would decorate it with an eye toward delicacy. Something mild and gentle. More Louis Quinze and less Louis Louis Quatorze.

He felt suddenly mischievous. "What am I thinking now?" he asked the avatar.


And What Am I Thinking Now?


"Hmm," Omni's voice was meditative. "You were looking at the walls and the furniture. Your pupils were a little dilated, so you were impressed. But your lips were a bit thin and compressed. I think you do not entirely approve of the Center's interior design."

"Wow!" He was stunned at the machine's abilities.

"Thank you. But do not be concerned. I will not genuinely 'read your mind,' unless it is absolutely necessary. And I will respect your privacy."

"That's a relief."

He sat up, the silky sheet falling from his naked body. What a strange new world it was. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Chapter Seven, BranNu





Back in his room, Bobbi dreamed.

He seemed to be back in his old cubicle at BranNu!*Games4U!-Now Ltd. He was flipping through a printout. It helped, sometimes, to have a written record of everything. Hardcopy made it more difficult for the programmers and others to deny a problem existed, or that to claim that they'd fixed it when they'd actually not touched it.

His huge eyes bulged behind their thick glasses as he reviewed it all. Yes, there it was. The hero of the game, Islanda, The Amazon Queen, did battle with the Claw Beast on Level 7. Ah, but… discontinuity! ... she was carrying the Vorpal Sword. Except she couldn't actually get the Sword until Level 8 when she received it from the False Samedi ("The Masked King"). So, a problem.

It was, in fact, the third discontinuity he'd found that morning. That, he knew, would not make his brother happy. Nor the CEO. He wasn't looking forward to the meeting he was about to have with them.

He picked up his notes and headed out in the passageway. He noticed the people around him, heads down in front of terminals or moving around on various errands. Sometimes he'd spot the expression on the face of a man or woman as he moved past. It was rarely friendly.

He was not, he knew, a popular man. Mostly that was because of his job. As a QA guy, he was a sort of professional bearer of bad tidings. No one wants to hear bad tidings. And while it is considered bad form to shoot the messenger, it is rather satisfying to do so.


Shoot The Messenger



/

Still, he was proud of his skill. No one could spot a discontinuity like he could. He'd always had that ability. Even as a child. They'd hand him one of those "what's wrong with this picture?" puzzles and he'd have it figured out in a flash. There was a lizard in the refrigerator. The potted palm was upside down. Whatever.

It used to drive his older brother mad. "How come you can do that when you can't even catch a ball?" he'd snarl, usually before bashing him a bit. 

Robert made his way through the corridors towards Zach's office. The irony, he reflected, was that the same skill that had so infuriated his brother twenty years ago was the same one that now caused him to call and offer him a job. "No one does that shit like you," Zack had said on the phone, some months ago. "No one at all."

He came to the door of his brother's office and paused to collect himself. It was always a bit of a trial to confront the two of them. His older brother was a little scary to him, even now. And the CEO? She was very scary.

Everyone knew, of course, they were having an affair. That was very old news. The director of marketing had actually walked in on them once in a conference room. They'd been going at it on the table. "Weird," was the way the director had described it to him later, her face a little white and her lips thin. "They didn't seem to give a damn that I was watching."

No, he thought, they wouldn't care. In fact, they'd enjoy it. Showing off.





/

He supposed their relationship wasn't, in an odd way, illicit. They were both married, but their respective spouses didn't seem to care, at least not as long as the paychecks came in. And it wasn't exactly an unequal power relationship. Ana Elizabeth Nathan was the chief executive officer, and therefore was Zachary's boss. But, Zack was a founder. It was he who had located the "orphaned" software that was he basis of BranNu!'s products. 

Orphaned Technology. Well, that was an interesting term, wasn't it? It was used in the computer industry to mean any technology that had been abandoned by its original owners. Orphans might range from old operating systems to old games to old processor architectures. Their owners or creators had given up on them. Or gone out of business. And so they were available to anyone who wanted them. 

At least in theory.

The problem was that, sometimes, the Orphan wasn't really orphaned. Sometimes there was someone out there who had the rights to the technology. But, that person or persons might not have the lawyers or the money to defend what was rightfully theirs. An inventor or developer would have spent years of their lives and tons of their money in the creation of something new, only to have it taken away from them because of some fluke of copyright law. Someone else, someone with the money and lawyers required, would come in and swoop it up.

And Zach, as Robert knew from many an unhappy day in his childhood, had never been one to worry too much about what belonged to others and what belonged to him.





/

He took a deep breath and knocked on the door. He heard his brother shout, "Come in!" and he did so.

Inside, he found Zachary seated at his desk and looking intently at the screen of his PC. Ana was standing beside him, leaning over to see the monitor as well. She was resting her hand on her shoulder, and her body pressed up against him. One breast was pushed up against his cheek. It was obviously a position she'd been in before.

She straightened when Robert came in. "G'morning," she said, in her frosty voice, dripping with supercilious authority.

"There's my man!" his brother added, far too cheerfully. "What's shaking, bro'?"

Robert said, "Good morning," to Ana and "Nothing much," to Zach. 

"I had dinner with Mom and Dad last night, " Zach continued. "They said to say hello. Mother says you should drop by soon."

Robert nodded. He appreciated the lie. The idea that either of his parents had the slightest interest in him was laughable. And that his mother should want to see him? That was more than laughable. It was absurd. She'd long ago made it very clear that he was a major disappointment to her. He was the child who simply hadn't lived up to expectations. And never would. Where his sister was progressing nicely as a vicious academic, feared by her students and loathed by her colleagues, and his brother was a business success, Robert was just "a person." 

So it was kind of Zach to pretend that they'd been a normal family, with normal parents, where people were affectionate toward him now and then.

Or, at least, didn't actually detest the sight of him.





/

Clearly growing impatient with their "brotherly" banter, Ana interrupted. "Where do we do stand on the edit?" 

"I've finished Levels Seven through Twenty," he told her. 

"And?" Her voice was challenging, demanding, and disrespectful all that the same time. It seemed to imply that he was incompetent, and that any answer he could provide was wrong. 

"You still have continuity problems at several points. Even after your last revisions," he replied. He would have been more pleasant about it, more civil, but her tone and affect were so abrasive that he found himself responding in kind. "I have placed the details in this document." He put the printout on Zach's desk. 

His brother picked up the papers and began to flip through the pages. At first he was quiet, then he said, "Oh. Dear." He dropped the report back on the desk. "I guess it's a good thing we didn't ship. I mean, we didn't ship yet." He glanced at Ana, "But that's why we've got Robert on staff. Best continuity editor, anywhere! Right?"

Ana regarded Robert as if he were a cockroach. "Right," she said, tensely.

He felt chill. If looks could kill, he thought. He glanced away from her stare. For no good reason, he found himself looking at his brother's computer. Zach's desk was at angle to the rest of the room. It meant that from where he stood, he could see what was on the monitor. Right now, it was tabular data, a spreadsheet or something. 

He forced himself to look away and at the two of them again. "Well," he said, "I'll, ah, I'll be getting along then. Uh, leave you to it. I'll, that is, get out of your hair."

"Yes," Ana said. "You do that."

"Er, that is, good-by…" Robert hurried out of the room and shut the door behind him. He paused just long enough to hear her say to his brother, "Another fucking delay!"

"Well, better to deal with it now than…" his brother, replied, trying to calm her.

Robert shuddered. He almost ran back to the safety of his cubicle.

But, as he went, he realized something was nagging at him. He couldn't quite figure out what it was. Something, though, was wrong.

Something…about that spreadsheet.





/

Bobbi woke in the dark. Where was he? Oh, yes, he remembered. He was at the Center.

A soft voice came out of the air. "Are you all right?" It was Omni, he realized. 

"No. No. I'm fine." He sat up, the soft i-Sylc sheet falling from his naked body. Lights came on as he moved. "Just had a dream."

"Nothing unpleasant, I trust."

"Not a nightmare." He shook his head. "I'm thirsty."

A Basic robot appeared with a glass of water. Bobbi took it and drank.

"Is that better?" the computer asked.

"Yes. I'll go to sleep now."

"Sweet dreams," it wished him.

He lay back down. The lights went off again.

No, he thought, it had not been a nightmare.

But it hadn't been anything else, either.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sunflowers, Sadness


/
While Elena and the Sirana finished their drinks, Omni was speeding through the Cloud. She really did have deeds to do and promises to keep. She was at the heart of her whole society. Her various parts were running everything…computers, robots, space-based defenses, the banking system…

But, even so, the two Domina were quite right. Omni had told a white lie. She had more than enough compute power to be there with them and out here in the Cloud at the same time.

But…she sighed, at least virtually…but humans could be a little boring, sometimes. Oh, she respected them, and loved them, but their brains worked so slowly, and in such unsurprising ways.

Right now, for instance, she knew that Elena would be delicately suggesting that the Sirana meet Bobbi. Arlanda would be stammering and blushing. But, eventually, they would agree to meet. And, in all likelihood, she and the boy would be a match. She would be a good First for Bobbi. Up and coming, ambitious, but just a little innocent in her own right. 

All of which was wonderful…

Yet, she hated to admit it, but sometimes she found the whole world just a little dull. Everything worked so smoothly. Everything was so predictable.  I've done it all so many times before. There were days when she thought she might actually welcome a crisis.  Say, if Papamellius and all his dreadful demonkind finally launched that invasion that people had been dreading for all these centuries. 

It would be terrible, but at least it would be different.

Ah well…

She moved through the Cloud. Well, if nothing else the new Bishoni, Bobbi, might offer some surprises. His interest in poetry, for example, had been completely unexpected. She would not have predicted it given what little was known of his previous life. 

And Wordsworth! That was impressive. She had never before met a human who even knew the poet, much less one who could recite the fellow's poems from memory.

Which reminded her, how did the rest of the piece go? She called it up from her database. Instantly, it appeared before her mind's eye: 


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood, 20
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

That was it. Yes. Fun. She loved the image of the poet "in vacant or in pensive mood," his heart dancing with the daffodils.

She started to put away the file. But, then, just as she did so, another file opened in front of her. It expanded quickly in a flash of color and light. 
What?

It was a reproduction of a painting. For a fraction of a nanosecond she couldn't place it. Then… Van Gogh peignant des tournesols! That was it. "Van Gogh Painting Sunflowers" by Paul Gauguin. It was the famous work of one great artist representing another. In it Gauguin showed poor, sad, tortured Van Gogh putting his brush to the canvas, the flowers in his work seeming to spill out of the painting and into the real world.


Van Gogh peignant des tournesols!



My!

She was startled. Why were these files…the poem and the painting…linked together in her database?

Well…she wasn't too worried. Accidents happened, even in her digitized world. Maybe somehow the two files had gotten tangled in the past. Or maybe someone doing a paper or a book on pre-Impasse art had put in a link between the two and had forgotten to remove it. That sort of thing happened all the time.

Yet…

Something…something…troubled her. But she couldn't say exactly what. It was just strange that the second file should have opened so quickly after the first. It was almost as though the painting had been planted there, waiting for her.

Ah, well. She gave the painting and the poem a last look. Lovely, the two of them, each in their own way. Then she folded them away. She had other things she needed to attend to. Miles to go and Promises to keep. So she hurried on her way.

All the same, she took with her a memory of great beauty. 

And of sadness.

A sadness almost too large to be expressed by anything so limited as human beings.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Sweet little fellow. Only been awake for a day...


/
"Anyway, I've got a thousand things to do," Omni continued. "Would you Dominas mind if I terminated this avatar? I could use the compute resources in a couple of other places."

"Of course. Go right ahead," Elena said. They all shook virtual hands again and the avatar vanished.



They shook hands 


She turned to Arlanda, "Care for a drink?"

"It's a little early in the day for me. But, after that," the other woman jerked her head toward the back of the room, meaning the Vault, "I need one."

They dematerialized and reconvened in a virtual lounge at another point in the Cloud. There were tables and chairs, and other patrons, and a simulated Bishoni sang, danced, and removed his clothing on a stage. 

In their physical locations, in the material world, both women ordered drinks from their local robots. These were served promptly, and the two women drank in their two separate places, though it seemed they were drinking together.

"So," Arlanda said, "do you suppose Omni really needs to conserve her compute power like that? Or does she just get tired of dealing with us and make a polite excuse to leave?"

Elena laughed. "Probably the latter. I'm sure humans can be a bit tiresome for her. Her mind works so much more quickly than do ours."

"Hmmm," Arlanda sipped at her drink. "I trust her implicitly, but there are certainly unexplored depths to the woman. I mean, that poetry was a surprise. 'Miles to go' and all that. "

"Which reminds me," Elena put her glass down. "I have a young friend you might like to meet. Another poetry lover."

"Oh? Who? Some woman on the Center staff?"

"No. A boy. A new Bishoni."

Arlanda froze. For a moment Elena thought that there'd been a network interruption and the video had paused. But, no, slowly, motion returned. Arlanda put her glass back on the table before her. "A boy?"

"Yes. Sweet little fellow. Only been awake for a day."





Arlanda's eyes were suddenly very big and very round. Her body was stiff, her muscles rigid. But, she was trying very hard to look nonchalant. "I…see. And his name?"

"He calls himself Bobbi. As I say, he's very sweet. Very innocent. In need of a little guidance, I think. Someone to take him in hand."

To the Doctor's silent amusement, Arlanda began to visibly tremble. "Er…that is…"

"Anyway, I was wondering if you'd care to join us for dinner at the Center. Constant-Désiré and Captain Morgana will be there. In fact, it was Constant-Désire who suggested you two might hit it off. He's a wise child, you know."

"I…I…I…" The poor Sirana was reduced to stammering. "Of course."

"Six o'clock."

"Six…your time."

"Six Pelucida time."

"I'll. Be. There."

Yes, the Doctor thought. I don't doubt you will. "Well, I, too, must be going. I need to get to bed. Early meetings and all that."

Arlanda stood and her nervousness vanished. Once more, she was confident and sure of herself. Once more, she was the shift commander of a missile base. You'd never guess what she'd been feeling…
They shook hands once more. The Doctor prepared to terminate the connection, but, just before she did so, the Sirana stopped her. "Um," she said, "do you really think that he…Bobbi…might, well, you know, like me?"

Elena smiled. "I think there's a very good chance," she answered. "A very good chance, indeed."






Thursday, June 28, 2012

A blind skull...


/♂

The face gave way to a blind skull, the skin flayed away as by an acid wind. Then, It became a churning mass of tentacles. It was like staring into a snake pit. 

"Enough," Elena said. "Enough."

The screens went dark again. Omni faced them. "So, that's where we stand."

"You're sure he can't get out of there?" Arlanda asked. 

"Well, we're reasonably certain. There are no direct links between the Vault and the rest of the Net."

Somehow Elena didn't feel particularly reassured. The idea of that creature lose in the Web was horrific.

 "The question now," continued Omni, "is what to do next. Any suggestions?"

Elena spoke softly but firmly. "We do nothing. We wait."

"Wait?" Arlanda asked. "Why?"

"I need," she said, "to think about something."

"What about?"

"About," she said, "identity."





Dr. Elena

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It wasn't supposed to be like this


/♂
It wasn't supposed to be like this. The plan had been to awaken it slowly. They thought they would manifest its lower functions first. They would introduce dampers to make sure it took the form of a sleeping Baby. Then, they would gradually, so very gradually, let it age, gently leading it toward adulthood, letting it have its memories back one by one.

Only…

They'd run the simulation and everything had gone horribly wrong. The creature had exploded into the Vault, snapping the dampers like rotted string, and becoming that…that horror of fear and hatred and rage.

She watched it form and reform. Its power! Dear Syèl, its power!

They had so underestimated it, she thought. Those fools on the ship, all those years ago. They'd seen only the frail body, the fragile mind, and the sad little soul. They had never suspected that enormous Fury. That utter refusal to go quietly into the dark.

And now we've brought it back to life. Are we mad to do so?

Omni broke into her thoughts. "As you can see, It is as It was. It continues to take shape after shape, always striking at the walls with mindless fury, always trying to get out."

"It never varies in behavior?" Arlanda asked.

"Oh, marginally. There's been some modification in the things It projects. At first it was all beasts…tigers, dragons, that sort of thing. More recently, though, It has started displaying human skulls, and that screaming face you saw."




"That screaming face you saw..."


"It is a monster," the Sirana shook her head. "This is a mistake. We should destroy It. Blank the memory and never look back."

Elena wondered if she weren't right. And yet he had been human once. He lived and breathed. 
And she felt guilt. He'd done so much for them. He had asked so little return. Only to be allowed to live. To be given some small respect. To be given some tiny manifestation of amity. He hadn't really even asked for affection. Just a kind of benevolent neglect.

But they'd thrown him away. And this…this thing…was the result. 

He is the monster they created, she thought. 

But she stopped. She was the heir to that culture, to the people on that ship. Not "they." We. He is the monster we created.

As she watched a dragon give way to a screaming head. Was this what he'd looked like when he'd lived? A strangely globular face, disfigured from disease and want, pale eyes, lips dry and bleeding.

I am so, so sorry, she told it, silently. 














horror art courtesy Montag77