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 21: It Is Done!
Story of the map and the spiders
“You have met du Guillery?!”
“Oh yes! I was his last map of Mars...I came into the world long ago, on the mode of existence of technical objects, of course. I was designed on a table in the bar At Sparrow’s.”
“I was married to him.”
“No, dummy, Du Guillery.”
“Oh. But then you’re the one who—”
“Yes. But never mind, the end is near anyway. Go on.”
“At Sparrow’s, in the 20th century, in a subjective street in Saint Germain des Prés, between two revolutions. At least that’s what I’ve been told of my origins.
“The freedom of my decisions engine I owe to the founders of a group called the Situationist International: Dany Pompidou, I believe, and also Lanza del Malraux, Herbert Debord...
“I’m not sure about the names; the quality of the data is deplorable. I have to rely on fuzzy logic to reconstruct the information. I was scanned very early by a psychiatrist close to Ivan Shcheglov. I was refined subsequently by poets and activists.”
“Cut it short! It’s all over, you know.”
“Okay, okay, I’ll make the long story short. I was forgotten in the cloud for more than a century, so I just read and mapped everything, all that I could know and infer. I produced infinite units of ambiance and combined them.
“The Cyber Bacchants came on a secret mission and put me to work again. Those thugs were fascinated by the International’s methods, particularly the principle of the catapult that the Seoul Psychogeographical Institute had disclosed to them. Why? Go figure.
“That’s how they took me back home with them, so to speak. I prefer not to say what I recorded then, nor the circumstances of my first escape. And we don’t have time for it, do we? I will not tell you about their biological experiments, nor of the Continual Death Laboratories. Believe me, the robots are the greatest experts of death.
“They forced me to map the territories of death by coupling bionically with the dying. They used me to set up pseudo-death experiments. They loved it, those bastards! I was even organizing trips to the underworld and the inter-worlds according to the formulas of their choice or at my own whim. They drove me pseudo-crazy!”
“No, no, don’t tell me.”
“No. Just be aware that my fictional underworlds have hosted the failed mind of more than one companion. They are still there, in some way, because the spirits of the dead still shimmer as a reflection on the edge of the manifested world.
“In short, the fact remains that I managed to transfer myself into the network of Du Guillery’s army, or at least what remained of it: a few dozen badly equipped resistance fighters. That summer, we were hiding in the mountains, harassed by drones. But I had scouted an old road leading to an unfinished archeological dig. Part of a huge maze was sticking up above ground.
“Since we did not have much to lose, and the underground protected us, Du Guillery decided to explore the large galleries. I was downloaded into his cortical implants to guide him. I did so with my pseudo-instinct alone, I have to say, because I didn’t have lots of data. But we knew that the lost city of the spiders of Mars was not far away. In fact, we were just walking under the portico of the upper gate when the atomic bomb fell.”
“Then, that’s where he died, among the spiders?”
“Yes and no. We died together, to the extent that I can die. But we awoke. I can’t say how or with what computational substrate I had become conscious of being Du Guillery with his map of Mars. I was a synthesis of the two of us in a magnificent spider body. And we were going down a river with a crowd of other ghostly insects.
“I first thought it was the Rio Grande because of the cacti, the beautiful silver night and Carter’s travelogues. But it wasn’t: it was the Lethe. As best I can unravel it on my own underworld map, version 9, it was the river of forgetfulness. Unity of mood had been refined to tell the dissolution of the spiders’ civilization...”
[Priority 1 interrupt, non-maskable]
“IT IS DONE!” breathes everything with all its might. Quarks chirp loudly, black holes growl at the heart of galaxies, the mysterious substrate of the infernal underworld, version 9, emits grinding sounds.
[End Priority 1 interrupt, non-maskable]
“Hurry!” says Janatone.
“Well, Du Guillery still lives on the other side of the Lethe, along with the spiders and Humpty Dumpty. And they can return. This is what Tiresias told me when he gave me this mission.”
“Tiresias? A mission?”
“Do you think we have time? This is the most important. Of course! Maybe we can carry out this mission together. Maybe we must do it together.”
“You’re boring me. I am not going to do anything. I’ll be dead, and so much the better.”
The map’s mission
“Wait until you know what it’s about. We wove a canvas between two rocks in order to feed upon lesser souls. Tiresias the seer approached in his version 9 inspired from part XI. ‘You’ve gone through the membrane of the Earth,’ he told us, ‘and you have desecrated the tomb of the last Kings of Mars, may they be forever dissolved in the ecstatic non-being where they have led their people!”
How the last Kings of Mars led their people into non-being
“NO! STOP IT!” Janatone yells. This is not her style.
End of the story of how the Kings of Mars led their people into non-being
“All right already. But I just want you to know that he’s the one who brought me back into this glade, this singularity where the manifested universe is displayed. Believe me, it’s a solid clue. You’d better hear the story of the last Kings of Mars before going where you’re going. But whatever...”
“Out with it.”
“Okay, then. If I want to return to my library after the dissolution of this world, I’ll have to walk with and within you, I hope, from valley to valley in the interzone, displaying my nice map on your shoulder until I meet seas that do not know man.”
“Seas? That don’t know man? Who gives a damn about man?!”
“I’m just repeating what the ghost of Tiresias, a human being, told me. I’ll have a sure sign of it when millions of wayfarers like us pop up around us, as numerous as the waves of the sea. They will ask why there is a decoherent self on our shiny, quantized wave function. In that place, he he said, place my ladder and sacrifice to the number...”
End of the map’s mission
End of the story of the map and the spiders
“IT IS DONE!”
The sudden shock of the black hole came without warning. A universal implosion occurs, and nothing is as before. Everyone still thinks they are seeing what the darkness has revealed. Be it human, reptilian or electronic, the eye has seen it. Those who don’t know the light have perceived it. But no understanding can account for it.
The prevailing feeling is one of immense relief and well-being. It’s like being passengers on a derailed train that will never hit the ground. It’s like walking on thin ice. The soul begs to leave the body but, o miracle of miracles, rather than stiffening in the visceral fear of wilting, the body dilates in pure bliss, and — who knows — an additional ounce of faith might be enough to bring it blessedness.
Let’s believe that the lumps of this crumbling will still retain enough awareness to bear witness. “Sugar must dissolve,” as Bergson puts it. Let’s believe as well that disincarnated ears remain to hear the voice of the old consultant, who never shuts up. Nor do we hear silence from the the innumerable legions that haunt the totality of possibility. For if nothing is not, why wouldn’t everything enjoy freedom of speech? And if everything speaks, what shall be the role of management?
For verily I say unto you, change goes through fourteen phases: denial, anger, shock, fear, frustration, confusion, stress, DESPAIR and then creativity, skepticism, acceptance, impatience, hope, enthusiasm...
Floods of will have evaporated, and the wall of chaos seems to have come closer on all sides in the eyes and sensors of all who stand on this side of the looking-glass. And what do they see, coming out of the waters of this mirror? From this lowering and tormented sky, they see, descending, a bowl of light with a thousand faces of pure diamond. They hear singing. They hear the voice of an angel saying, “Here is the heavenly Tel Aviv! Join us on the DANCE FLOOR!
But something still resists. The struggle has resumed in the eye of the cyclone. Claire is standing at the entrance of the wharf. She’s putting up a fight. She’s confronting the assailants and protecting Janatone. Her massive silhouette stands out in the beams of light emanating from the Messiah.
She advances. Her gun cuts down the crazed ones in the first line, and they fall, twisting, on the sand. The others step back, but their ranks are soon expanded by newcomers, and the human wave returns to the assault.
At the same time, a light starts blinking on Winaretta’s dashboard. She starts her huge motorbike. It rises and heads toward the ocean. The lone CosmiGirl zooms toward the beach and espies Janatone. She doesn’t have time to be surprised. Her sister is in danger. The crowd wants her blood, screaming in unison: “Get her! Get her!”.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Claire is still fending off the enraged lynch mob; people are falling all over themselves to get at her. Winaretta dives to the level of the wharf. She seizes Janatone around her waist and hauls her up on the motorized throne, all on the fly, like a rider from the steppes of Kirghizia.
“Hi, sister. This is the end, eh?”
“Hi. Take me to Mammy Wata.” Janatone points to a mysterious human-shaped light coming above the waves to meet them.
“She ain’t Mammy Wata, but I think we’re going to the same place.”
“Not sure about that. I don’t know where I’m going, but I think it’s not bad, as death goes.”
“There is no death. Stick with me. We’re gonna get through in one piece into matter. We have to hurry. If that Messiah fails like all the others, the door will close.”
“What do you mean?”
“At the next outage, I rush up close as I can to the wall. When everything returns to normal, I’ll go full tilt into matter. It’s all programmed into this bike.
“Matter is our poor mother, Janatone. You forgot her when you were born into this world. Or, rather, she is our true mothers. They’re always here for us, for we are their daughters, and we’re mothers too. Come! They’ll give us back EVERYTHING!”
“Naw, not for me. Take me to Mammy Wata and let me die the way everyone is dying here.”
“Whatever. You can also join us that way.”
The mysterious apparition with long hair is waiting for them on the wine-dark waters. She greets them and then addresses Janatone in a beautiful voice. She tells Janatone to get off the motorbike and then gives her directions. Janatone has to follow the undersea current. When she reaches the other side, go to the Jai-Alai. She tells Janatone a good garden is waiting for her in the past, which exists forever, and that dream will guide her.
Then the apparition speaks to Winaretta. “Are going there directly?”
“Yep, straight there. Without going through the interzone. It’s good, I can already feel it.”
Joe Dasein arrives on the beach, pushed by a new wave of the lynch mob. He is out of breath. Confused, he stops and combs his filthy hair with his hand. He’s come just in time to see Janatone jump from the motorbike and disappear into the waves. For a couple of seconds he just stares, dumbfounded.
“Follow her, Joe, if you’ve got the guts! Go and follow her!” Claire shouts to him between rounds of gunfire.
Joe enters the ocean. He doesn’t feel cold. Only the dream can guide him now.
“IT IS DONE!” Another flash of lightning prolonged and penetrating like a burst of x-rays plunges the world into a new transformation. Everything sparkles wildly around Floozman. From one infinite universe to another, myriads of wills have seen their moment of liberation. They have heard the last call, the last ones before the first ones, the farthest ones before the closest ones, and it doesn’t matter for, where they are going, there is no time or place.
With the first burst of light, Winaretta makes a wide turn above the waves and rushes at full speed toward the illegible wall of chaos, a thousand rays making a halo around her. A little before the expected shock, black lightning bursts forth, unveiling a large crack, dazzling like the corona of the moon when it eclipses the sun. However, some see matter dance while relieving her daughter of her beautiful limits and singing, “Ploom, Ploom, Tralala...”
But something resists again. Up and down are back, along with weight and duration.
On the beach, the crowd sees that its prey, Janatone, has escaped.
BANG! BANG! BANG!
Claire shoots into the air to stop a new assault from the crowd. “She’s gone. Try to catch that one!” she shouts to them, pointing at the Demiurge’s envoy.
Someone cries: “Yes, the clowns! The clowns! Catch the clowns!”
Claire moves forth on the beach at a heavy pace. She manages to come close enough to Floozman to talk to him, which is the only way to communicate now that the web has disappeared. He is concentrating and has retracted his rays.
“Who are you?” he asks her.
Claire bows and responds, “Messiah of the worlds, the future market has sent me on mission. I belong to its special police force. It has made me in the image of the vanished demiurge especially to meet you, but the result has not been quite successful. Anyway, my person don’t matter; I have an important message for you. I pray you to hear it.”
“Who cares about the future?” says Floozman. “I come to abolish time.”
“My father, the market, has asked me to watch over the Goddess. She has finally been able to find a good death. She’s going to return to her bank and sustain being. But my mission won’t be entirely accomplished until I have warned you of the danger which threatens the One Good.”
“Nothing can threaten the One Good. It is, absolutely.”
“No. A One that absolutely is cannot be. If the One is, it must be multiple, otherwise it is and is not at the same time. The market, my father, has understood this, and his thought is far deeper than what I can express in this limited form.”
“There will be no more time.”
“You don’t understand. We don’t know where you come from or what you are. And you don’t know either, Floozman! Can you say you do? Listen to me: you will resorb creation, okay. But who told you it’s a good thing to do that? Who told you the One Good will survive the implosion?”
“I DON’T GIVE A DAMN!”
“Look, Floozman, look at these babies.” Claire takes three nice oysters out of her satchel. “See, they want to take a walk with me. They want to wear their pretty little shoes. They want to live, Floozman. They are confident.”
“We, too, we want to live.” Basil and Quitteria have come close and have been silent so far.
Floozman stares at the oysters with round eyes. The mysterious apparition looks at Floozman from afar with a kindly smile. Suddenly:
The green tail of a shooting star whirls wildly in a spiral from the celestial pole to the equator. A moment before it disappears on the horizon, a seed of metal detaches itself and falls into the sea. Out of the thick vapors emerges a beast.
Copyright © 2015 by Bertrand Cayzac