Floozman in Space
by Bertrand Cayzac
In a space station in Earth orbit, Janatone Waldenpond, a refugee from Europa, is trying to return to Earth. She meets a long-lost cousin, Fred Looseman. Meanwhile, Jenny Appleseed, the president of the Cosmitix Corporation, holds a conference to plan interstellar expeditions.
Chapter 19: Set and Setting
Several dozen hours have elapsed since the departure order was given. Procedures are unfolding and corresponding with one another throughout the ship. The decision to depart was very likely hastened by recent events attributed to Europan agents. No doubt remains: the Solar System’s financial stability is at stake.
The Lighthouse leaves Earth orbit in a majestic and uniform acceleration. The ship is a magnificent construction, powerful like a sea mammal at its center, multiple and coordinated like a school of anchovies at its periphery. It sparkles. It would have been a pity not to share it with scientists .
The subjects of the experiment are forming a circle on the patio. Dr. Weenie gives them a very simple, very factual speech. He walks to and fro with his hands in his pockets, speaking in short sentences. His heart is pounding. He says to himself that his life is certainly a good life and that he will certainly be able to take the little pill, later...
People are swallowing it now. It is pretty, it is good. It’s the chemical key. The metrology palotins settle in front of their control panels, and nurses join the group to conduct interviews.
* * *
Meanwhile, other palotins are trying to settle the case of the stowaways. The two objects that have succeeded in getting through the Lighthouse’s firewalls must return to the common web pursuant to inquiry and reimbursement of their purchases in the interzone. The expulsion procedure must be completed before the ship’s acceleration requires use of the space protocol.
But they are making a lot of fuss. They want to talk to Captain Diana. They are carrying a very important message concerning the financial stability. It’s about Jenny Appleseed and Janatone’s mutant child.
“Appleseed is looking for me,” says the avatar that is wearing a hat. “She is looking for my counterpart in Real Life and I know where it is.”
The two stowaways insist so much that they get to talk to a moderator. The names they mention trigger a Level One alert, and soon Captain Diana’s decision-making tapestry opens a secured way for the two travelers.
“Walt... Whitman! Greetings, sir.” Then she turns her thoughts to the second entity, which appears to be no more than a point. “Hello. To whom do I have the honor of speaking?”
The point turns into a line that forks and then becomes a kind of ball of twine. It whirls for a second and then morphs into Stan Laurel. Captain Diana laughs heartily. “I took the first thing I could find in the web’s library,” mutters the new character in a fixed posture. “It ranges between silence and speech, I guess. I’ve never had to concern myself with my appearance before.”
“Whatever, I am an emancipated stimuli shield. I served Ms. Janatone Waldenpond since my initialization, and then we ended our cooperation by mutual agreement.”
“Janatone! Do you know where she is?”
“On Earth, in the flood zone. She has no indicators anymore. She is riding in a brown car. It’s going badly.”
“And you, Walt?”
“I’m okay. Er, this is not what I...” He falls silent for a few seconds and then speaks very rapidly. “I am the avatar of the Artificial Uterus, which is bearing the child of Janatone, Jenny Appleseed and the operational information labyrinth of the Cosmitics Academy. Help me! I think I’m in danger. I was hiding in the subcontractor’s warehouse, but I was kidnapped by smugglers and I have lost contact with myself for several cycles.
“If it’s okay with you, I’ll speak in my own name for the sake of clarity. I don’t know where the real A.U. is. I also know that the web is seriously malfunctioning. It has signed a contract with a consultancy and a shaman to reactivate a dangerous messianic movement that wants to bring about the End Times!”
“You... the A.U. is not at the hospital where I saw it?”
“No, Captain, the doctors wanted to examine it, and it got scared. It fled with the complicity of a technician. I hesitated for a long time before coming to see you, but I remembered that you offered your help.”
“It’s true. I didn’t take you with me, because I thought you were safe. Anyway, I didn’t have the right to take you. But I do regret it now.”
“I... listen to me. I don’t... The A.U. is not a simple Cosmitics prosthesis! It’s a product of the Academy’s advanced labs in Jenny’s palace, where psycho-pumps are projecting the CosmiGirls into the SUPERWORLD.
“No? You don’t know what that is? It’s a region of the cosmos where are all the forms of all the worlds, and the pure numbers, and the dead who were living, the celestials and many, many other beings... I don’t know, I’m only a machine, but I think some of these notions are already in the books.
“What’s important is that Janatone was fecundated by Jenny with a form from the Superworld. Jenny and her cyronic supercalculators have developed the technology, believe me. The A.U. bears a mutant child chosen by Jenny Appleseed. But she wanted to incorporate him and make herself like him and become the mistress of the universe. Jenny Appleseed suffers from afflictions listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, volume 23.
“But Janatone fled with the A.U. She crossed half the Solar System in a cargo ship to take him to a safe place. And then he panicked. I was not connected, but I know how it happened. I wouldn’t have been able to do much anyway, I’m only an extension...
“I was there, myself, in the Superworld, when they” — the stimuli-shield hesitates — “but Janatone kept deactivating me all the time! I saw traces in her memories and in the psycho-pump records. There are forms that extend over hundreds of coiled dimensions, they are—”
Captain Diana interrupts. “Stop! Thank you. That’s a whole lot of information. We’ll get back to it, but we need to inform Special Services right away. A mutant, then! Do you have any idea of his powers?”
“No, Captain. Well, maybe. I... the A.U. has had visions recently. Visions of potential futures and concurrent pasts. We machines have that all the time with probabilistic methods, but this was different.”
“Nothing else? Could he attempt something against us in utero?”
“No, I don’t believe so. And we are friends,” Walt responds. “But what are you going to do with us? We don’t have much reason to be anymore... Well, as far as I’m concerned.”
Stan Laurel breaks in. “Speak for yourself! I am an experienced stimuli shield. I can put myself at the service of a high-tech system as long as the interfaces are exposed and documented. I can also consider a reconversion. I have money.”
Captain Diana moves into action; she makes novelty go with the flow. “Stop now! Follow me. I’ll need you...”
* * *
Proceed to part 3...
Copyright © 2015 by Bertrand Cayzac