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Floozman: First Episode
Figs* and Riesling

* Depending on availability

by Bertrand Cayzac

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Part 6: Jenny Appleseed’s Flight

“With a scandalous abundance, he brings deliverance”

Fred Looseman used to be the head risk assessor at World Wide Credit Corporation and the chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Commission. Now he works as an automated teller machine repairman.

Sometimes he hears voices, and sometimes what he hears moves him to tears. His bank account overflows with the money of deliverance, and he becomes a financial super-hero: Floozman.

“What does a smart woman do, one who knows how to make the right decisions?” Jenny Appleseed asks herself while loading the cylinder of her silver revolver. “It’s a risky plan, but I have no choice. Some day I’ll look back on all this and laugh. Maybe tell the story on TV? Comebacks: they’re all about bouncing and bouncing back.

“And time is on my side. I have centuries before me. I’ll remain beautiful, maybe the most beautiful of all. And if new breakthroughs in beauty are made, I will transform along with them.” With her mind’s eye she glimpses ineffable gracefulness and extraordinarily sculpted contours...

She constantly refines her plan and is inebriated with her sheer willpower; she pictures herself in a clandestine attire: a skin-tight cotton t-shirt bulging over her naked breasts (her gorgeous breasts), a raw linen jacket, a denim skirt with simple leggings and black sneakers... or a bolero with golden embroidery... For space, a light travel spacesuit with fluo latex lapels. But cucumber masks...? How will she manage that?

For a long time, Jenny thought she would die like all the roses on the friendly, crumbling wall by which she was standing, as a child, when she was told about death for the first time. Was she even old enough to walk? There were bees in the Virginia creeper. Who was talking? A woman, in the old language. Who had died? The rose? Now a word of truth was making its way into her mind, which was as yet eternal. What!? Death!?

Later, on the school playground, the singularity of her incarnation appeared to her. It was a summer of satellites and sticky popsicles. Dizziness suddenly seized and shocked her as she was running under the dusty plane trees. She stared wide-eyed and her long eyelashes quivered. In every direction, children were chasing each other and screaming. But she stood perplexed in a node of silence. Why was she enclosed in her own body rather than in another one? Toss a coin. A flash of lightning, a hiccup, a hole in the fabric of reality. Something from outside was revealed to her, and some substance was gone from her forever. But she was not afraid.

Since that day on the playground, her consciousness never really managed to return to its cracked shell. Jenny’s presence in the world expanded inexorably in space and time and was touched by all the beings with which it came into contact. As she grew up, she was not surprised that cats talked to her the same as birds, boys, and stones. Nothing ever surprised Jenny anymore. Jenny liked nothing so much as starry summer nights, roads through pine forests, sand dunes and harbors.

She was drawn towards space and was familiar with the constellations. She told herself, “Go for it!” And then she left the community of her birth, her family, and her father’s house, and she rode forth on a little motorbike. “Am I so small? Am I so young? Am I really mortal?” she asked the cosmos. “Am I really only what I am?”

Jenny mated, Jenny loved, learned, thought, and built her career. Jenny hardened, put on boots, wore jewels, embraced lovers, and signed contracts. At last she realized what the answer to her questions was: she would not die, or rather she would remain eternally aware of the over-soul in which everything transpires. And then she forgot.

* * *

“The riot is spreading to the neighborhood,” the assistant announces. “Your plane takes off in three hours but I don’t know if we can get through.”

Jenny resumes walking back and forth in the hotel room, her head bobbing like a wildcat’s. From time to time she opens her brawny arms, swears, or clenches her fist. On the television screens, the news is scrolling again: “A speculative fund owned by Worldwide Credit accumulates monster profits. The Chief Operations Officer is accused of embezzlement.”

“There’s nothing illegal! It’s investment. You do believe me Billitis, don’t you?”

“Yes I do, Jenny. You’ll see: our lawyers will make sure you walk away free. And people will forget.”

“No. You’re dreaming. The board of directors isn’t going to protect me. Not with these amounts! Shareholders will want my head on a platter. And the government can’t look the other way, not now. But I won’t go to jail. I don’t have the time left to go to jail. I have much better things to do. No way! I’ve found a solution...”

Someone knocks at the door. It’s the commando. She stops and throws back her thick blond hair. “At last, here you are!”

Friedrich Engels’ ghost stays on watch in the corridor while the stumpy man enters the room, followed by an old servant lady.

“We are going to smuggle you out, Appleseed,” says the short man, standing very stiff. “In a few weeks, you’ll be on Phobos!”

Jenny shivers at the thought. It’s a twilight world. But what a fantastic adventure... The space labs! My labs! All experiences, all the fountains of youth within her reach, forever... When she returns to Earth, all who pursue her now will be dead. Too bad. And if she doesn’t return, then what? It’s very far from the space stations to the next meadows... How will she get to them?

“What do we do? They can arrest me any moment.”

“To begin with, we move immediately to another room,” he says. Then you will change clothing. Here, I hope this is your size.” He hands her a cleaning lady’s uniform and a wig. “Follow my men and wait for instructions. If anyone speaks to you, don’t answer.

“The hotel staff is on strike. In the evening, rioters will simultaneously attack this hotel, the airport and the site of the economic summit meeting; they’ll take hostages. When your disappearance becomes known, investigations will focus on the rioters while you will already be safe on Phobos or Mars, under the protection of our police. Politicians close to the anti-globalists will be permanently discredited by the fighting. People will be killed...”

“Spare me the details,” Jenny interrupts. “I see. Once the opposing politicians are weakened, the bio-control amendment will pass in the spring. My friends at Worldwide Credit will be in a position to launch the off-Earth financial platform.”

“And we can finance the genetic adaptation programs, then the industries and low-cost settlements. We will need you to extend Cosmitic’s range of activities and finance the new emigrants. The board of directors really likes your plan. In the meantime, the regulatory authorities have frozen La Figa. The police are overextended. We’re transferring the treasure to Phobos right now. The current confusion will make things easier...”

“And what are we doing with the crypts in Scherwiller?” asks Jenny. “And the mummy? It hasn’t been found yet, has it?”

“Yes. We had the excavation works accelerated. There is some breakage but we have no choice.”

“I want to supervise the transfer! I know the place is close. Give instructions to your men.”

“Go to the other room first. We’ll leave during the attack.”

“Billitis, you stay here. Answer the telephone. Buy time. I won’t forget you, darling.” The two women hug each other at length. Jenny’s embrace is rough. There is something ingenuous and awkward in the rustic simplicity of her eagerness. “You know how to find me.”

They go down a few floors and enter the old consultant’s room.

“You must follow us; your life is coming to an end. It will end even faster if you try to resist,” says the ghost twice as loudly, just for the fun of it.

Without a glance at him, Jenny Appleseed locks herself in the bathroom. Soon after the attack starts, the little group goes out on the balcony and down to the parking lot.

* * *

To be continued...

Copyright © 2005 by Bertrand Cayzac
Dépôt S.A.C.D. 174 627

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