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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…

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,"