Trex World, Part 40
They left the bank by tubewerx, peristalting their way to a node that was local to Paul’s borough. It was a casual stroll though avenues that Paul was instinctively familiar with. What was extra nice was not having to go home to say goodbye to it. What remained to be seen though was what exactly the taster’s where planning on doing with it. Extension office? Holy shight, what was that supposed to mean? What was in store for him now?
“So,” started Paul as they got to his door. “Does extension office mean anything like HR office?”
“We’ll be seeing about that, mainline, now why don’t you get around to trexing that door open.”
“No need, it’s Taste!’s now, remember,” said 25_Itty_Bitty, pointing her trex at the ID screen. The door irised and in they went. “Paul, for your own edification you might like to know that this is a pretty nice chunk of closet. I can understand now why you were so hard-pressed to part with it. Good thing we came along when we did, it looks like.”
“You can say that again.”
The interior was charcoal black. Having no one to maintain it’s mood, the apartment had powered itself down nigh completely. There was the faintest trace of blue light pulsing around the rounded corners, giving the impression that it was seriously depressed. Upon the quartet’s entrance, the gamma correction started kicking in, black was slowly dissolving and pulsating into violet, then purple, then blue. They must have been sending it positive vibes.
“Unusual to see a mood feature bundled with a real estate account.”
“Part of why I like this particular block. Somebody must’ve been planning on a party district or something before getting in trouble with a license holder, ‘cause I’ve never had a party nor heard one around here, ever. I’m afraid it looks like I don’t have enough cred to get the water running yet, nor the actual lights and screens and furniture. Sorry. Though I noticed my cred isn’t red-lining it anymore. Thanks.”
“Ferget about it. You’ll be paying us back in ways you can’t imagine. Now. Let’s dump some cred in this thing and get it out of the blues.”
Itty and Baby went over to the trex interface wall of the apartment and both started dialing on their trex’s and whispering to each other, effectively leaving Amanda_adnamA and Paul to their own devices.
“Blue blue blue. Look at all this blue. Tell me why it’s blue, Paul,” said Amanda_adnamA.
“I don’t know. I never had the kind of cred to really keep the place happy. That’s all there is to it, really.”
“How did you come to be here?”
“I got stuck. I was tired of living in a hive closet. I pushed my credit to the max against Joe’s warnings to the contrary.”
“You ever find it strange that he just didn’t flat out refuse to offer you credit in the first place?”
“Well, at the time I was the up and coming star of Panpro’s taggin department, remember? Hahaha...the Skylight was the limit.”
“You ever wonder what’s beyond the Skylight?”
“Beyond the Skylight?”
“Oh. Nothing. No. It’s just that you sound like my mother.”
“Oh come on now, that’s a pretty OK compliment isn’t it? I mean, she was curious about everything weird like that.”
She hit his arm, not too gently. “Weird? You calling me weird, Paul? Shight, I thought you were nice.”
“Nope. I’m terrible. Tragically terrible.”
“Uh-huh. So, your mom was interested in the Skylight?”
“She was interested in all sorts of stuff. Stuff you prolly can’t look up on the feeds, ‘cause if you tried, there just wouldn’t be anything.”
“Oh, what was it. Range lines. That was a biggy.”
“Range lines? What were those?”
“I dunno. Trying to find out.”
“You remember any of the context?”
“She had this room in our home, which was a nice place that overlooked the Expanse. It was filled to the brim with the wackiest stuff. I was never allowed in, and would get into serious trouble if I made the remotest hint at it’s existence. Not a secret room per se, just a room filled with secrets.”
“Well, stuff she’d managed to fabricate without using a trex.” Paul paused for effect and then continued as Amanda_adnamA’s eyes grew satisfactorily wide. “One of these things was a tube that when light shone through, rainbows emerged. And if you looked really close at the rainbows, magnified them, you’d see that there were little straight bands of black in the rainbow, sometimes between color bands or within a band of color itself, depending on what kind of light was shining through the tube. After a while, mom figured out that they represented deficiencies in certain elements. And then she rectified it with what she called ‘The Missing Pieces’ in how trex’s work. Why would only certain information be available on the feeds and not others? There was plenty of information on quantum states and photons and all sorts of stuff I don’t understand, but nothing on spectral lines. Where did the quantum mechanical knowledge come from, then? The Omnitrex wouldn’t work without knowledge of events at that level. She worked herself to exhaustion looking for the answers to her missing pieces and then, one day, she tried the experiment with the tube out on light from the Skylight. She wound up having to go to hospital because there were no range lines, at least not at the magnification she could achieve. She couldn’t rectify it..”
There was a pause. “That’s amazing, Paul. Some of us have stumbled on to similar findings. We don’t call them ‘range lines’ exactly. Baby and Thomas call them ‘spectral lines’ because they seem to show up over the whole spectrum of electromagnetic radiation. We never thought to run the same test on the Skylight though. Holy shight.”
“What’s a matter?”
“It’s a little crazy, is all. Sounds like yer mom would be right at home in Taste!”
“Ha. Hm. Maybe,” and he looked at Baby and Itty, still diligent in their tinkering, seemingly oblivious to Paul and Amanda_adnamA’s conversation. “Shight. Yeah. She would’ve.”
“Where is she now?”
“Retired,” Paul said, lying and remembering his dad’s voicemail from so long ago.
He looked at her. “Sorry? Why?”
“You’d prefer congratulations? A pat on the back?”
“No. Now, how did you know that?”
“You’re pretty transparent, Paul. That’s all.”
“How old are you again?”
She was close to him now. 25_Iitty_Kitty and Baby had finished their machinations. During their conversation, the furniture had been resetting itself and now there was now a new wall between them, separating them into two groups. He reached fro her and she let him pull her close, her forehead rolling into his neck, messaging him, inspiring his hands to message her back.
“No no, not just yet, Paul,” she said lightly.
“But you’re here, I’m here. Obviously Baby and Itty are over there, doing something.”
“Oh, we can do something, Paul. To that, there is no problem.” And her hand gently made it’s way through his garment with a mysterious manual dexterity and started working him into a frenzy, squeezing forcibly at the right time to prevent him from going over the edge, only to start the cycle over again, striving for the next plateau.
When he finally did come, his orgasm put him in a coma.
Now he was awake.
And she was gone.
He felt great.
When was the last time he bounded up from his back like so? Oh but the deliciousness of checking in on what Itty might just have provided fro him? Yes. Oh yes. There was water on demand. Oh lord. Was it good to shower once more in one’s own domicile? It was. Washing off the excess that he and she had generated, he was also pleased to find there was no trace of whatever Itty and Baby might have been doing on the other side of the now vanished partition. He felt so powerfully alive, he thought his whole body had begun to tingle. But no.
His trex was buzzing.
He went over, letting the shower continue to run simply to enjoy the sound of it, and dialed up the messaging protocol. This wasn’t a message, however, this was somebody trying to zing through on live chat. Why was it using the messaging protocol then? What the hell was wrong with this machine?
Buzzing buzzing buzzing it didn’t stop, this person was adamant, whoever they were, and their privacy filters must’ve been exceedingly strong, but then Paul remembered his snooper program had lapsed it’s license renewal a few weeks ago and so this could be anybody. Dialing the shower off, he answered the urgent device while his coveralls started wicking water.
It was the Detective.
Her face as impassive as Flooring, she raised an eyebrow at him. “Having fun?” she enquired.
“Fun, ah, yes. Having a blast actually.” And in truth he was. It had been far too long since he had close and intimate contact with someone, even if it was just a friendly hand. He started recreating the events of yesterday in his mind when the Detective continued.
“You’re drifting Paul,” she snapped, in voice and in hand gesture.
“What? Sorry. I guess I was lost in thought. What can I do you for, yer honor?
She sighed. Checking on your progress, of course. I notice your financials have taken a turn for the better. We’ve also got snippets of you entering your bank’s home office. Just snippets, mind you, which is interesting. I couldn’t prod too deeply, lest Bizness get ideas we were up to an actual investigation, which is something I don’t want yet. I do want to hear what you have to say on this matter, however.”
So this was it. Fark. he had thought he would have more time than this to think of something. Where do your loyalties lie, Paul?
“Well, let’s see, yer honor, I made contact with personnel in Taste! and convinced them to give me a job. I also explained to them my living situation and, kind souls that they seem to be, they took over my mortgage payments. Shoot, not just took over, they eliminated them completely. Of course, they own my flat now, but they seem to not mind me squatting here. Which for the time being suits me fine. Don’t know why you only had snippets of vid cap. There didn’t seem to be any funny business going on as far as I could tell.”
“I see. I’m both relieved and slightly distressed by this matter. Authority access to security video is complete and total, yet there are exceedingly long spaces of simply nothing going on whatsoever within the walls of your bank. I find this very curious, don’t you?”
“Frightfully so, detective, Paul said. “Have you checked with my banker, Daemon Joe?”
“We ran a routine sweep through that particular administration’s level, yes. Your man Joe reported no anomalies, to the best of his knowledge, and actually pointed out how glad he was to see a certain customer, namely you, turn his life around in such a satisfactory manner.”
“Well, that’s awfully nice of Joe,” Paul said. “We had a kind of falling out when I had defaulted on my mortgages.”
“So I gathered. Well, it seems you’ve been set to rights then. I’ll call that good and label the discrepancy as anomaly and we shall proceed.”
“The next phase, eh?”
“Precisely. You are to work yourself more and more into their organizational structure. Attached to our vid conference stream is a protocol that will allow Authority to track your movements and your conversations directly. No more of this snippet crap.”
Paul was slightly surprised. Everyone knew Authority could do these things anytime they pleased; this was the first he heard of it being specifically mentioned. “I thought Authority did that sort of thing anyway?”
“It has the power to, yes. However, think for a second, Paul on how much information could be collected on one person’s life. That someone would then have to parse out all that information for themselves, looking for the interesting bits. Even fast-forwarding the feed, the endeavor would soon wind up disastrously laggy. One person watching their neighbor on an Authority terminal, and then who watches them? I take you into confidence as you know what will happen to you if you and I have a falling out. While ee could have half the populace watching the other half, but then who would watch them? What kind of resources would be used to collect that information? Do you see how useless it would be unless we focused on certain segments of the population only? Therefore, Authority will only enact personal observation when it is of prime benefit to investigation. We, however, will not dissipate the rumor that everyone is watched all the time. In the quest for fame and feed time, people keep tabs on their neighbors far more effectively then a disinterested third party ever could.”
“So, how do you determine who and what to investigate?”
“That is a matter for members of Authority charged with studying non-linear dynamics. I do not believe you are qualified for such discussion, am I wrong?”
Paul shook his head no and left it at that.
“Very well. Just leave the detective business to the professionals and do as you’re told, how does that sound? I need not remind you that the earlier terms of our agreement are still in effect. Screw off in anyway, and I’ll retire your sorry arse, understood?”
Paul nodded in the affirmative.
“Fair enough. Good day, citizen.”
Shight, that went well, Paul thought. But he was bound and determined not to let the Detective ruin his mood. He was hungry, in fact ravenous now, and was about top trex out a tasty snack, when his trex buzzed again. “HOLY NUTZ,” he shouted to the room and answered the urgent call.
It was Mattie.
“Whoa,” breathed Paul. “I was wondering when I’d see you again.”
“It hasn’t been that long, Paul.”
“Fleebus, are you sure?”
“Of course, you goober, it’s been 96 hours, almost precisely since I pulled your sorry butt out of that mob. I’m calling to see how you’re doing.”
“Well, things have, ah, taken a turn for the better, I guess.”
“Yes, I know. They’re fun kids, aren’t they?”
“They’re the ‘one’s’ you were speaking of?”
“Of course, could there be any doubt?”
“No, not in retrospect, I guess. They are pretty fun. Kinda nutty, but fun.”
“Hm. Sounds like you might be just the kind of counter balance they’ve been needing. They have a tendency to get carried away, Paul. Not that I want you to turn into a daddy figure or anything like that. Just be yourself, ‘K?”
“How could I be otherwise?”
“That’s the spirit. Now. We need to discuss some things. Are you decent?
“That will do. Hang on.” And she flitted off the screen. Moments later, there was a disturbance in the floor of Paul’s pad. The middle had turned to liquid consistency bounding with circular waves coalescing at it’s center, a giant drop morphing itself into a human figure It was Mattie, all two meters of her long and slender sexy frame, bright yellow jumpsuit and all. Standing before him imperious and unnerving.
“Who arewill learn, Paul. But it will take time, also. I’m sorry, but it’s true. We don’t come out of the womb knowing everything, not in this world, at least.” She stepped towards him, in the easiest of fashions, like she had know him all his life. Her elbows rested on his shoulders and she tussled with his hair, a knowing look in her eyes. Paul’s hands instinctively went for her waist. She didn’t flinch away, but there was an understanding projected through her eyes that they would not explore beyond these boundaries.
“What was it we were going to discuss again,” Paul said, dreaming of some life where he got to have Mattie and Amanda_adnamA and even the Detective at the same time. Jeebus, stop yourself, idiot, you’ve got a live person right in front of you.
“You still have the doll?” she asked.
“In me pocket.” Her hand felt around his midsections, her eyes never leaving his. It came to rest on the section that housed the doll. Her hand was terribly warm. He was in the midst of a swell and the blood loss was making him slightly woozy. She didn’t seem to mind.
“Good. A reminder to keep it safe. It’s the world, remember.”
“I will. I do.”
“I know. Now,” she said pushing him away gently, she turned and walked away surveying his pad. “Now we’re going to need to up the ante a bit with your involvement with the kids.” She stared at a particular spot on one of the walls, towards the ceiling for a long moment and then continued.
“I think you’re doing an excellent job, Paul and it’s very fortunate how well things are progressing. Unfortunately, I don’t know if it’s progressing fast enough.”
“What do you mean?”
“I need to share some information Paul,” she said and the look of worry that suddenly came to his face made Paul’s heart want to drop out of his chest. The tint of the walls had become red.
“What is it,” he said in a small voice.
“The temperature of the world is increasing.”
Paul’s eyes widened and then squinted. This was not what he was expecting. I have two months in which to live or something like that. “Come again?” he asked.
“The average mean temperature of the world has been increasing, ever so slightly, for the past decade. Fractions of a degree, but still, significant.”
“How do you know this?”
“My sources and resources are immense, Paul. The data I’ve collected recently correlates with all the past statistics; the world’s average temperature is increasing and it shouldn’t be. There’s no cause for it. It’s up .97 from where it was ten years ago.”
“That…doesn’t sound like a lot.”
“Do you have any idea of the size of the world, Paul? Given that volume it’s a huge increase, thermodynamically speaking.”
He admitted he did not. He had put aside any thoughts of seeking out the worlds’ dimensions after his mother lost her self to it. What’s the use of a place that takes your mother away from you? “Fark the world,” he said, suddenly angry. “And now you, you fiction come and tell me to care about nine-tenths of a degree increase in ten farking years? Mattie, for the love of all that’s holy--”
“EXACTLY, Paul. Exactly! For the love, of ALL that’s holy. What better reason is there for doing anything, ever?”
“I…I don’t know.” He thought of his father. The boyish, stupid innocence that he kept layered on top of whomever he might have been, all so that he could persevere and remain with Paul’s mother, right up to the end. And here he was. In the same place. With not one but three crazy ladies demanding the same thing from him. If you could see me now, Pop. If you could see me now.
“You’re right,” he said finally. “So, what do we do?”
She relaxed a bit and the look of worry started to dissipate. The mood of the room became white, neutral. “We’ve got to wake the people up to this fact, Paul. Too many are in the same position as you, too busy in a coma from the day-to-day struggle of simply keeping their bank account in the black to care about the bigger picture. And this is a sleep you can’t simply shake people out of. That course of action is always too little, too late. No, you have to entice them out of their complacency. You have to provide an environment for them to choose of their own free will what outcome they want.”
“And what good will waking everyone up to this fact have?”
“It doesn’t have to be everyone Paul, just enough of the right people in the right places at the right time.”
“Is that why you made Taste!?”
She chuckled to herself. “I didn’t make Taste!. It sprang up spontaneously from individuals who are committed to effective change. I just happened to vector them a bit in the proper direction.”
“‘Vector them a bit,’ eh? Not outright manipulation?”
“Manipulation suggests a rigid desired outcome. I have no expectations, merely a problem to solve. Why the increase in the heat of the world, when all known factors appear static in the time frame involved?”
“So, there must be an unknown factor. Something that even your Gawd-like powers can’t spot.”
“…Correct. I’m not Gawd, though, Paul. Please keep that in mind.”
“Uh-huh. Well, you ain’t no hive-flunkie, either. Fark. I don’t even know if you’re real, or if you’re some deranged figment of my lackluster imagination. Maybe I’m still at PanPro, locked in my tagging cube, dribbling like a moron because Geoff didn’t let me have a bathroom break in time.”
“Is that the reality you want,” she asked, cocking her head, a bemused expression on her face.
“Of course not. I’ll take this madness over the other any day of the week.”
“That’s good to hear. Cheesy, but good. Alright. I need to reconnoiter. Get some things worked out. Please continue on with what you’re doing and you’ll find out what needs be done later, k?”
“k. um. Mattie?”
“Do you believe in Gawd?”
There was a beat.
“I used to.” And she melted into the floor. There was shimmering light and dollops of syrupy sound and she was gone, leaving no trace. Paul prodded the floor with his foot. It was spong-tastic as ever. His stomach was demanding attention.
And his trex buzzed, again. “SONOVABITCH,” echoed slightly about the room.
“Are you ok, Paul?” It was Amanda_adnamA.
‘Yeah yeah. Fine. No problems. Damnation is it good to see you again.”
She giggled. “Wanna have some brunch?”
“Come pick me up, then.”
She snapped off the screen.
“Nutz,” Paul said, to no one in particular. His stomach answered with a gurgle that cared little for the spoken word.
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