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M. T. Anderson "O dear white children casual as birds, Playing among the ruined languages, So small beside their large confusing words, So gay against the greater silences Of dreadful things you did ..." —from "Anthem for St. Cecilia s !ay," ". #. Auden
Part 1: moon your face is not an organ "e went to the moon to ha$e fun, but the moon turned out to com%letely suc&. "e went on a 'riday, because there was shit(all to do at home. )t was the beginning of s%ring brea&. *$erything at home was boring. +in& Arwa&er was li&e, ") m so null," and Marty was all, ") m null too, unit," but ) mean we were all %retty null, because for the last li&e hour we d been %laying with three uninsulated wires that were coming out of the wall. "e were trying to ride shoc&s off them. So Marty told us that there was this fun %lace for lo(gra$ on the moon. +o(gra$ can be &ind of stu%id, but this was su%%osed to be good. )t was called the ,icochet +ounge. "e thought we d go for a few days with some of the girls and stay at a hotel there and go dancing. "e flew u% and our feeds were burbling all sorts of things about where to stay and what to eat. )t sounded %retty fun, and at first there were lots of %ictures of dancing and %eo%le with rom%er(gills and metal wings, and ) was li&e, This will be big, really big, but then ) guess ) wasn t so s&i% when we were flying o$er the surface of the moon itself, because the moon was -ust li&e it always is, after your first few times there, when you get o$er being li&e, Whoa, unit! The moon! The goddamn moon! and instead there s -ust the roc&iness, and the suc&iness, and the craters all being full of old bro&en shit, li&e domes nobody s using anymore and wra%%ers and claws. The thing ) hate about s%ace is that you can feel how old and em%ty it is. ) don t &now if the others felt li&e ) felt, about s%ace. /ut ) thin& they did, because they all got louder. They all %ointed more, and s0uee1ed close to +in& s window. 2ou need the noise of your friends, in s%ace. ) feel real sorry for %eo%le who ha$e to tra$el by themsel$es. )n s%ace, that must suc&. "hen you re going %laces with other %eo%le, with this big grou%, e$eryone is leaning toward each other, and %eo%le are laughing and they re chatting, and things are great, and it s -ust li&e in a commercial for -eans, or something with nougat. To ma&e some noise, +in& started to mo$e his seat u% and bac& to whac& Marty s &nees. ) was li&e trying to slee% for the last few minutes of
the flight because there was nothing to see e3ce%t bro&en things in s%ace, and when we re going hard ) get real slee%y real easy, and ) didn t want to be null for the unettes on the moon, at the hotel, if any of them were youch. ) guess if ) m honest. Then ) was ho%ing to meet someone on the moon. Maybe %art of it was the loneliness of the craters, but ) was feeling li&e it was maybe time to hoo& u% with someone again, because it had been a cou%le months. At %arties, ) was starting to get real lonely, e$en when there were other %eo%le around me, and it s worse when you lea$e. Then there s that silence when you re dri$ing home alone in the u%car and there s nothing but the feed telling you, This is the music you heard. This is the music you missed. This is what is new. Listen. And it would be good to ha$e someone to download with. )t would be good to ha$e someone in the u%car with you, flying home with the lights underneath you, and the green faces of mothers that you can see halfway through the windows of dro%%ing $ans. As we flew across the surface of the moon, ) couldn t slee%. +in& was %laying with the seat li&e an asshole. #e was mo$ing it forward and bac&ward. Marty had dro%%ed his bird, these fa&e birds that were the big s%it and lots of %eo%le had them, and Marty s bird was floating off, because there was hardly any gra$ity, and whene$er he leaned out to get his bird, +in& would slam his seat bac& li&e meg hard and it would go bam on Marty s face, and they would start laughing. Marty would be all, "4nit5 6ust wait one —" and +in& would be, "7o for it. Try5 Try it5" and Marty would be li&e, "4nit5 2ou are so—5" And then they would be all big laughing and ) felt li&e a com%lete bones%roc&et for trying to slee% when there was fun. ) &e%t ho%ing the waitress lady would say something and ma&e them shut u% for a minute, but as soon as we got out of *arth s gra$itational 1one she had gone all gaga o$er the duty(free. ) didn t want to be slee%y and li&e all stu%id, but ) had been drin&ing %retty hard the night before and had been in mal and ) was feeling &ind of li&e shit. So it was not a good way to start this whole tri% to the moon, with the seat thum%ing on Marty s face, and him going, "4nit5 ) m trying to get my bird5" +in& was saying, "7o for it." Marty went, "+in&whac&er5 Shit5 2ou re li&e doing all this meg damage to my &nees and my face5" "8iss the chair. Puc&er u%." They both started laughing again. "O&ay" said Marty. "O&ay, -ust tell me which of my fric&in organs you re going to smash this time." "8ee% your tray in the u%right %osition." "+i&e what organ. 6ust tell me." "Those aren t organs." ""hat do you mean."
" "Omigod." ") m trying to slee%. What a nice young man. and ) sat u% and was li&e com%letely there was no ho%e of slee%ing with these morons doing rum%us on my armrest. )t s ali$e. The waitress came by and +in& sto%%ed and smiled at her and she was li&e." holding on to his face." +oga com%lained." "My face is too an organ. Meg."2our face is not an organ. shit." Then there was this wham and Marty was all. "/ecause are you ha$ing some &ind of neuron death. That was because he %urchased li&e a slo%(buc&et of cologne from the duty( free. She yawned. ." said our friend Calista. is there enough o3ygen. ") m flat(lining. "Oh.
)t s li&e meg chea%. and &ids were all lea%ing u% and down the halls and ma&ing their $oices echo. "e got some %otato s&ins for a%%eti1ers. and -ust li&e the one at home. "hen we got off the shi%. /arnigan s 'amily *3tra$agan1a. ) was trying to tal& to +in&. "This is a crummy hotel. and we went out to this %lace that Marty said ser$ed the best electrolyte chun&ies but it had closed a year before. Then we went bac& to the hotel. so if you dro%%ed things. and ) &e%t blin&ing and trying to wal& forward with my carry(on. )t was me and Marty and +in& and Calista and +oga and 9uendy The three girls had one room at the hotel. but ) couldn t because ) was getting bannered so hard. so for a long time we all watched the football game while the girls." ) tried to tell myself that being here was not re: slee%ing but re: being with your friends and doing great stuff. The whole time was li&e that. because most of the rest of the city had %retty good artificial gra$ity." but Marty was all.s from room ser$ice but they ga$e us all headaches. )t was a %retty crummy hotel. )t was almost li&e normal. and there was bumff from li&e the casinos and mud slides and the gift sho%s and %laces where you could rent e3tra arms. The moon went on and on. and no one had a fa&e )! so they %ut a loc& on the minibar. The hotels were -um%ing on each other. ) can t hardly remember any of it. "4nit. There were a lot of %eo%le there for the brea&. "e ordered some fancy nutrient ). saying. )t was dinnertime. which is how ) li&e it. at least they fuc&in fell. bam! +in& and Marty would suddenly go all fission on me. so we had dinner at a 6. and the fun. this is where ) stayed last time. but it was mostly college &ids. but e$ery time ) tried." Our feeds were clear again from all the moon banners. our feeds were going fugue with all the banners. though. because me and +in& and Marty . "Titus5 !id you fuc&in see that. they did something else on the feed. and the three of us boys had another room.Impact So ) was tired and %issy from the get(go. There were %arties there. They were chatting each other and we couldn t hear them. ) wanted to go to slee%. ) -ust remember that e$erything in the banners loo&ed goldy and s%ar&ling. which was %retty good. all of it. and all the staff are made from a crystalline substance. but they &e%t laughing and touching each other s faces. ) tried to concentrate on all the stimulus. ) was li&e. and there was hardly any gra$ity. 4sually we can get in. )t was at least good to get out of the hotel. !id you see #emmacher. There was not always too good fun. all the air $ents were strea&ed with blac&. but as we wal&ed down to the luggage. P. and there weren t enough sheets.
in this case. Still. *$en with his im%act helmet on. #e swung them around and s%un. Fine. "e had the lesions that %eo%le were getting. ) was thin&ing that maybe +oga and ) could hoo& u% again. it was %retty fun at first. She was li&e. /ut now we were friends. so that it s always going deet deet deet deet in in$isible wa$es and %eo%le are suddenly li&e. There are different &inds of lesions. and e$en though we re all %retty good(loo&ing. )t was $ery lo(gra$<no( gra$. )n the low gra$ity. ""ho the hell are you. which was good. but somehow our lesions. 9uendy had a lesion on her forehead. total guys. if we didn t find anyone else. The %lace had been hi%. because he s %art of a secret %atriotic e3%eriment. which she does with her $oice and her shoulder blades. and ) had lesions on my arm and on my side. and we re this trio. we were all %ale and our hair was greasy.and Calista. ) was being a little careful when ) ran into other %eo%le. Plus. any game. The walls were all mar&ed u% from %eo%le hitting them. The slogan was "Slam the Ones 2ou +o$e5" =ow the %lace -ust loo&ed old and sad. which usually ma&es %eo%le let us in and gi$e us beer. +in& is tall and buttugly and really rich. Then get some s ecial goggles. lin& had a lesion on his -aw. That didn t wor& this time. Then it was this big thing. and . which ma&es %eo%le thin& she s older than she is and really im%ortant. and it was all about whamming one %erson into another in big stuffed suits. because of the arm lesion. I never want to see you again. Calista is blond and she can do this sorority(girl ice(%rincess thing. and ours right then were &ind of red and wet(loo&ing. and ) was li&e. his arms seemed li&e they were e$erywhere. Marty. ) was watching +oga real close. until we had this big argument. "e all loo&ed &ind of bad. Okay? Fine. ) thin& it s always really lim%. +in& stood out. ) mean. being li&e. ) didn t ha$e a thing for Calista or 9uendy or e$en com%letely a thing >anymore? for +oga. /ut ) was watching +in& slamming into them. li&e on the moon or whate$. that &ind of old rich that s li&e radiation. seemed li&e &id stuff. )t had bro&e o%en and it was oo1ing. "4nit5 #ey5 4nit5" and they want to be guys with him. we can turn on the charm. his thing is that he s good at li&e anything. "e tried to get in and we were standing in the doorway and they were all. the three of us guys. "e loo&ed tired and slee%y. )n the lights of the hallway you could see them real good.icochet +ounge." "e loo&ed at oursel$es. e3ce%t +in&. launching oursel$es off the walls and going li&e $$$$$$$$$$$$$ and hitting other %eo%le and wrestling while floating to the floor. #e s much taller than anyone else. when guys can t tal& to girls they went out with. and ) -ust stand there silent and act cool. there are lesions and lesions. She and ) had gone out about si3 months before. +ater after some showers we went to the . a year and a half ago. li&e.
it was beautiful. what it s called when you s&im really close o$er the surface of something. And then ) saw someone watching. She was loo&ing at us li&e we were shit. ) stood there wondering what it was that made her so beautiful. and now when ) ran into her at high s%eeds it wasn t anything li&e when +in& ran into her at high s%eeds. Play with yourself." /ut +in& was li&e.." "Pass. She had this short blond hair. /ut usually we sailed right %ast each other. e$er." and Marty %o%%ed the ball to him. it was li&e. #er s%ine was li&e. Maybe it was her s%ine. )t -ust. ) didn t &now the word. Play by yourself. but of course Marty started winning all the time. he was off in a corner doing these gymnastics in midair. The feed suggested "su%%le. "This is null.. "7i$e it a chance. who doesn t li&e to lose. 'or a while we %layed a game with the ball. +in& said. "=o. and that was %art of the game." "That this %lace suc&s. we were that to the floor. was li&e. and he &ic&ed it to me. #er s%ine was. ) thought she and ) should ha$e a little secret way of collision. ) was getting some meg feed on the food bar and the %ot stic&ers were really chea%. Marty said." and suddenly e$erything seemed really stu%id. "O$er here. and we were li&e. ) loo&ed again. There was a $al$e that led into the food bar. it wasn t the way—) guess it wasn t -ust the way it loo&ed li&e. ""hat s fuc&in doing." ." said Marty. She had her crash helmet under her arm. She was watching our stu%idity. ) wasn t glad. #e had a ball and he was somehow &ic&ing it in a circle so it came bac& to his foot.. li&e. but also how she was standing. #er s%ine. #er face. ) was unha%%y because +oga and ) had been a diad. Marty. with our arms out. Maybe it wasn t her face." said +in&.when he slammed. who can do anything good. ) -ust stared at her. and we were twirling all o$er the %lace. unit. This suc&s. "ith her arm. She was the most beautiful girl. She was in the $al$e. ) don t &now. and +in&. it said that he and the girls all &new what each other s bodies would be li&e.
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#e was all. ) watched her through my underarm. )t wasn t %lastic. he was yelling at them because they &e%t bouncing in the snac& bar. ) watched the -uice. She was sitting there. +uc&ily. what2s doin? and then she d loo& at me. cli%%ed in. as if she didn t want anyone to be loo&ing at her.juice ) followed her when ) could. gentle and se3y. 7ray wool. She was sitting in the snac& bar now. ) lowered my head. ) shifted. "hen she thought no one was loo&ing. she was letting it go. da da da. and they got in trouble. and the light didn t reflect off it. 7ey. and it came out in lo( gra$<no(gra$ as a beautiful %ur%le wobble. The others came through the $al$e behind me. ) hung on to the counter with one hand. #er shoulders were li&e. /ehind the girl in gray was a big window and you could see we were in a bubble way high u% o$er the moon. !own on the ground. e/ ress instructions. She -ust o%ened her mouth and %ushed it out with her tongue. with her bac& to the $al$e. they came in and immediately +in& and Marty started doing these gymnastics. all bent in. She was -ust sitting. . #er helmet was on a hoo& ne3t to her. ) loo&ed bac& o$er at her. This guy. 'or her own amusement. which was off(bounds for still bouncing. unit. he was from the club. 6uice. #er eyes were barely o%en. ) didn t want them to be li&e. think you2re doing. She was wearing a dress of gray wool. da da. All the stars were out. )t was chocolate mousse in a tube. ) too& a slug of tube mousse. da da da be removed !rom the remises. liability. She was all cli%%ed into the seat so she wouldn t float away if she -er&ed. hey. 9a da da. with her slamsuit off now and in a bundle. The -uice came out of her li%s as if it was being e3tracted real careful by a roc&( star dentist who she lo$ed. She had filled her mouth with -uice. so ) could stay watching her without them being a mob on me. ) bought a snac&. /lac& stoc&ings. da da da. The guy was still yelling at the others o$er by the $al$e. she o%ened her mouth. and turned it toward the girl in gray. ) &e%t my head low. "ool. She would be disturbed. hey. Something trembled there. tourists were riding big %roteins across the craters. Titus.
%erched in the air li&e a %in& slug gargoyle.)t hung in front of her. . she watched traces on the drin& s round surface swirl. her -uice. )t stayed inches from her face. #er tongue was close behind it. "ith her eyes almost shut.
" said 9uendy. "it s not s%reading." "#on. "they re not going to &now what you normally loo& li&e." ")f they don t &now you. ." "Maybe. "Omi(god5 +i&e big than&s to e$eryone for not telling me that my lesion is li&e meg com%letely s%reading. ) was %laying with the magnets on my boots and trying not to loo& at her. li&e that girl. ) mean nicely. they might thin& we were dumb. so they thin& that usually my li&e forehead is li&e wee%ing. Like !rom an animal. )t will li&e go onto the brim. "ra%%ers were turning through s%ace li&e birds. I! you want to hear about an animal. and then Calista did her own chat to us." said Calista. and ) was going. #e %ointed to the girl in gray. if there weren t those %eo%le. ")t s huge. and we stared out the window. ")t s good. )f someone o$erheard us." said +in&." Marty was getting angry that e$eryone was li&e turding on his recommendation. +in& and ) were chatting about the girl. which was. "This so big suc&s. then maybe we wouldn t all be standing here ha$ing a big shame ban0uet." said +in&. 9uendy and +oga went off to the bathroom because hairstyles had changed. ) was careful. li&e ) was going. "=o one will notice. Marty drifted around and made slit(eyes at +in&. "=obody cares about a stu%id lesion." said Calista." Marty said. because suddenly ) reali1ed that we didn t really sound too smart." "As& her. What the hell2s she wearing?.the nose grid +in& whis%ered at my side. and it s right on my forehead. Wool. +oga went." "Oh. )t s li&e bonnnng!3 She trembled her hands around the lesion li&e it was a &ind of lesion gong." "*3ercise the breath. 9uendy came bac& from the bathroom and said.he is meg youch. "if there were certain %eo%le who didn t go -um%ing on %eo%le s heads near the snac& bar. It2s wool. what about two guys staring with their mouths wide o en so they look com letely :ro-4agnon? That shut us u%. and he was going. ." "Omigod5 )t is going to be li&e larger than my whole head5 ) am going to need a hat -ust to ha$e all this lesion. ) didn t want her to feel my eyes before ) made my mo$e." "This %lace doesn t suc&." "#ow can you not." said Marty. and ) -ust wanted them all to shut u% somehow.
)t draws attention to your face. ") got a lesion on my foot. "2eah. "There are times you -ust want to sin& through the floor. ") $e been thin&ing. )t -ust frames your face. anyway." said Calista." She smiled sweetly. he didn t ha$e any idea what the hell she was tal&ing about either. )t was li&e a nec&lace. )t s not on a line. "She s right. The nose is where those lines intersect." The girl turned around and loo&ed at 9uendy. +i&e. "2ou saw it5 See. you ha$e this lesion which is entirely on the edge of this one 0uadrant. "#ey. +in& %ointed at his face and was li&e. She said. See. it s on the edge of your face. ) wonder if you would. "but then you reali1e there s no air out there. "The face. what about my lesion. so it !rames your face. ") want mine to go all the way around. The good grid. not really. the more noticeable it is. See. ) m %robably saying way too much." The girl said. She smiled. This is my theory." 9uendy s hands were out in a lease. could you loo& at this girl and tell me if you notice anything. mmm(hm. 2ou li&e this. "The lesion isn t bad." "#ey. 2ou want to see it. . it s -ust a tor0ue. and made football goal%osts around 9uendy s face." she said. how far is the air loc&." said Marty. +oo& at this %u%%y. She said. sounding confused." The girl in gray touched her own lesion with a na%&in. but he started laughing while the rest of us were still loo&ing u% "su%%uration" on the feed *nglish(to(*nglish wordboo&." "e were all &ind of stunned. See." #on. because of my nec&. The two big imaginary lines are one down the center of the face and one -ust across the to% of the chee&s. "+isten to the girl. The more a lesion interferes with those lines. but right now. "Oh. 2our lesion. the hardest lesion to carry off is one on the nose itself. That s not going to matter. ) want it to be li&e a nec&lace." she said. A red cho&er." The girl s lesion was beautiful. "e &e%t staring at her. )n your case." she said. "Miss." said the girl. "2ou %ut the su%%er bac& in su%%uration. " +in& thought that was hilarious." said Calista." She smir&ed. you ha$e this great grid." "e were all -ust &ind of staring at her li&e she was an alien. "=o. "'raming. )t bleeds sometimes. "is a grid.#e said." She undi%%ed herself and reached u% with both her hands and touched her thumbs together. Of course.
what about my lesion." And then she loo&ed at me. and started to want. 6ust at me. "e were all li&e. for e3am%le a slur%y 0uestion about. in s%ite of the fact that he s a meg asshole to them. /ut when this girl hel%ed her. "6esus." and.She was now com%letely youch on all of our meters. She seemed really smart from what she said. and ) was still thin&ing about that globe of -uice floating in front of her face. ) wondered whether she wanted me to s&ee1e. to be with her." Marty was trying to ma&e u% lost ground by saying. who ) could tell had started to chat each other li&e some ants after someone s buried a missionary ali$e in the middle of their hill. . and she was %retty. to see if ) was going to s&ee1e li&e Marty and +in&. ) was %retty disa%%ointed she was s&ee1ing this se3y tal& with +in& Arwa&er. "here do you come from. Marty unit. who women for some reason always go for. "4nit. and feels real bad about it. "Maybe you could change the bandages on my foot. She was waiting for me to say something. ) was still thin&ing about the beauty of how that -uice had been born delicately from her li%s." +in& was as&ing her. little economy model of Calista. She and the girls s%ent the rest of the hour fi3ing 9uendy s hair to li&e showcase the lesion. 9uendy is -ust li&e a &ind of bro&en. 9uendy was the center of e$eryone for a long time. On the other hand. and ) &new she was wondering what ) thought about the guys and seducti$eness and s&ee1e and all. +et s tal& more about me and my @%en sores. no one wants to see your damn foot. e3ce%t with the girls. That was why ) &e%t loo&ing at the girl in gray. and she &nows that. stow the mess(hole. e$en if she was weird as shit. ""ho are you. ) thought she was the most ama1ing %erson ) had e$er seen in my life. On the one hand. more than anything else that night. how it had been born whole. /ut ) had nothing to say. "Oh. 4sually. it wasn t li&e that. and how her tongue stood there afterward to see the -uice ma&e its trembling %rogress into the world." but that was clearly -ust disgusting to e$eryone.
based on the true story o! a clone !ighting to save her own liver !rom the cruel and ruthless original who2s !arming her !or organs. .urture. ooo . ..3 /lam.the cola with the re!reshing taste o! citrus and butter. ooo :alculon. 3+emember.ew solutions !or.. ande/! I2m also . 5ou can2t s ell 2danger3 without 9. $s.. but a erson!3 )mage of a girl holding a blaster to a twin s tem%le. bitch.. 3I am not <irl ... ooo .).umber One! I2m not a roduct.. 3.. . )mage of a girl wee%ing on a courtroom floor. an adventure in slouching. ..3 ) *rimus rime-time !eedcast event.ature . =udge ..umber Two! *lease. ooo ..
and ) don t thin& the other girls really were too s&i% about wal&ing behind us.iolet. because sometimes %arts weren t included. and as we were wal&ing around we were . e$erything seemed &ind of sad and boring so we couldn t tell anymore what we wanted. but she said that really. "e as&ed her to come with us. which seemed really good. and she was on the moon." she said. "e told her we were thin&ing about going to some club called the . #er name was . obser$e. a. and he said was there any %lace where we could drin& without )!s. After we wal&ed around for a while. and she saw all these great things that way. the %ri1es.iolet and as&ing her all these 0uestions. She said she was there to obser$e. s%ring brea&. Our feeds tried to hel%. She saw %ools filled with foam. it was. &ind of fresh. which was called Sombrero !ot. 2ou can go and. you &now. but we were on the moon. so +oga and 9uendy said we should go in and buy some cool stuff to go out in. with the action. /ut ) was li&e. There were crowds in the domes at night. fuc&in . ") don t &now. They had built a %retty nice stucco mall there. Marty said he &new of this one %lace. you &now. and all these college guys without shirts lifting their arms. where there was all this meg action. and we were telling her." she said." Marty said. . ")t will be a. s%raying 7atorade from hoses. it will. on the scale. and she was as&ing us stuff. #ere it was. After we were wal&ing for a few minutes. She said she -ust wal&ed through the crowds and watched. "e wanted to go to slee% by then. and he went there before with his cousin." #e &ind of wiggled his hand. Calista laughed. maybe closer to hate. and it was s%ring brea&. "e got there and it had been torn down. and she was there without friends.umble S%ot that we d heard about on the feed.the moon is in the house of boring She was on the moon all alone. because Marty and +in& and ) were all wal&ing around . There was a beetle that wal&ed through the lanes and ga$e out %ri1es. so there was no way we were admitting we wanted to go to slee%. That seemed good to us. "Since you %ut it that way. Suddenly ) &new Calista was either going to lo$e her or hate her. +in& said he wanted to get cran&ed before we went. "2ou got to go. they were &ind of shitty when you loo&ed at them close(u%. ) wanted to buy some things but ) didn t &now what they were. #e said it wasn t too out(of(the(way. . you &now. e$en if it suc&ed.
but we hadn t got drun& yet. "Omigod. but really the only thing that ) wanted to get was a %air of infrared &nee bands. There were all these &ids. and ha$e them sent to my house." ) said. They were li&e shouting. some of them e$en were %rotesting the feed. "Caster. and it was hard not to recei$e. and they were standing in the middle of the s0uare and broadcasting to e$eryone all these slogans. She was sitting all stiff on the bed. than in the stu%id %hysical moon stores. The fa&e birds were still in style. and they didn t sto% us. because . . =ow it was e$en later and we wanted to go to the club. "2ou bro&e off a. ) m better off dead5 Chi% in my head. Marty couldn t thin& of anything he wanted. because the birds didn t e$en fly or sing or anything. "Chi% in my head. . so he ordered this really null shirt. )t was stu%id. ) wanted to brea& it o%en 0uic&ly. She nodded." ) said. what my dad calls *uro( trash. #e said it was so null it was li&e ordering nothing." . As we were dri$ing through the tube streets. and ) could get better ones off the feed. then with &ic&ing. "6ust a sec." "A caster. which wasn t as hard to do with almost no gra$ity. "e threw it against the wall. "7ood one." "e got bac& to the hotel. Calista was whis%ering to +in&. so +in& said maybe we could ta&e a cab to the hotel and brea& into the minibar. ) m better off dead5" +oga rolled her eyes and was li&e.iolet was loo&ing li&e she wasn t ha$ing fun. because they were so angry. 8ids were running down the halls with their fa&e birds. "e went to the girls bedroom and started to assault the minibar." "e tried the minibar first with a comb. but the minute she wal&ed out of the store she didn t li&e them anymore. there was all of this commotion because of the %rotests about the moon. ""hat s her %roblem. %ointing at my nose. but the cab dro$e right by them." said Marty.a thing. 9uendy bought some shoes.getting all the %rices of things. "2ou bro&e off a fuc&in thing. but it was &ind of %olite." said +in&. They were %rotesting all these things.
" "Ow5" Marty said. There was no way he was getting lobotomi1ed or weasel(faced. "e won t &now which way s u%.. That s big. one clic&. *ighty(fi$e buc&s.iolet was was -ust sitting on the bed. +in& said. Lobe-reamer. $rake and u grade." Calista chatted all of us guys. for chea%. &ic&ing the minibar. Calista was li&e." "Oh. Calista and +oga were staring into s%ace. >s ecially because the girl is meg un-into it. There was about a million %eo%le it ." ) said." ") heard about this great site called +obe(reamer.iolet loo&ed real uncomfortable now. so we could get in." "!ro% it. "=o one wants to be fuguing. #er shoulders were droo%y and her feet were turned in. Lobe-reamer! 9o those words mean nothing to you? $rake. "!ro% it. )t was their 2outh in Action night. ""e could malfunction. +in& was li&e. Marty. ") want to get weasel(faced.umble S%ot un(slammed." "4nit5" said Marty. 9on2t like ush this. ""hat s the %roblem. "Shut u%. +in& loo&ed around at the girls faces. big scrambled.2ou &now your brea& suc&s when the most brag %art of the night is you coming u% with the word "caster." ) said." he said. )n fact. ""e re fuc&in there5" +in& said. all the girls loo&ed &ind of on sus%end. +in&." "There s no way you re getting weasel(faced. "+et s -ust go." said +in&." "Am ) no one." . god. units. . Link." said +in&. )t was meg big big loud. %laying with her thumb." Marty was li&e. "O&ay." ) said. "'uc&. )t was %retty ob$ious she really didn t want to be with us. "Are you as&ing in terms of se3 a%%eal. and we ll be com%letely ra&ed for an hour and a half.." said +oga and 9uendy rolling their eyes. watching something on the feed. so we -ust went o$er to the . +et s . There was e$erything there. ""e re not going in mal.
seemed, and lights, and the beat was roc&ing the moon. There was a band hung by their arms and their legs from the ceiling, and there was girders and floating units going u% and down, and these meg youch late3 ri%%lechic&s dancing on the bar, and there were all these frat guys that were wearing these, unit, they were fuc&in brag, they were wearing these tachyon shorts so you couldn t barely loo& at them, which were ABCD.DD according to the feed, and they were on sale for li&e AEDD at the Fone, and could be shi%%ed to the hotel for an additional ABC.DG, and that was -ust one great thing that %eo%le were wearing. "hen ) loo&ed around, ) wanted so much, that all of the %rices were coming into my brain, and it was bam bam bam, li&e fugue(-oy, and +oga and 9uendy and Calista were already out on the dance floor, and my feed was li&e going fried, going things about the dance and %ictures they were feedflinging across the dance floor of %eo%le on fire doing the mo$es. ;iolet was screaming to me. ) couldn t hear a thing. She was li&e, 39a da da? 9a da!3 ) was li&e, ""hat." She chatted me, This is a scene. ) was li&e, 9on2t you dance? ;ot really. )re these all college kids? I bet most o! them. Look at the guy in the, you know, that thing. The neck bat? $ow tie. $ow tie. #e was maybe a hundred or so, dancing with the ri%%lechic&s, a man in a dirty old tweed -ac&et, and he had this long white hair that loo&ed &ind of yellow, and his eyes were wide, li&e he was in mal, but ) m not sure he was in mal. #e &e%t on stic&ing his thumbs u% in the air. And then they turned off the artificial gra$ity and we all went bounding accidentally, and it was li&e %eo%le cruising %ast each other with their nec&s &in&ed, and ;iolet grabbed on to my arm, and
now ) was thin&ing that e$en though she loo&ed really uncomfortable, and li&e she was watching some &ind of bugs in an e3%eriment, it wasn t so bad being a bug as long as she grabbed on to my arm, so ) said, 9on2t worry. We2ll dri!t down. ,orry, she chatted. ;o wrong, ) said. ,eally. ) didn2t mean to grab you. ;o wrong. ) %ut my hand o$er her hand on my arm, and then she smiled and too& her hand out from under my hand, and by that time we d come down again, and were bending our &nees. The guy with the tweed -ac&et had on a -etbelt, and he was flying around near the ceiling. 5ou don2t look like you2re having !un, ) chatted to her. I will. When? I2m not used to this. What do you do !or !un? When? ;ormally. I haven2t been on the moon be!ore. I mean, anywhere. What do you do? The man with the bow tie was standing near us. #e was trying to tal& to +in& by cran&ing +in& s head around and shouting into his ear. +in& was bac&ing away. )re you having a good time? she as&ed. The moon really isn2t working out, ) said. ;e/t time, maybe you should try 4ars. 5eah, I2ve been to 4ars, ) said. It was dumb. Suddenly, she laughed. )re you serious? 5eah, I2m serious. Omigod, she said. 4ars is a whole lanet. )nd it2s dumb! She was li&e, 9umb? She was starting to %iss me off. ) said, 5es, dumb. The whole world? 9umb. The whole world.
9umb. Oh, this is golden. The +ed *lanet was a iece o! shit. I don2t believe you could—but ) couldn t recei$e any more of her chat because our feeds were s%i&ing, and the music was getting louder, with the band singing ") ll Se3 2ou )n," and ) saw her folding her arms li&e she didn t li&e me, and ) didn t li&e her, and e$eryone was %ulsing, e$en the old guy, and e$eryone was ho%%ing, and they were scatterfeeding %ictures across the floor: tribal dances, stuff with gourds, salsa, houses under brea&ing dams, women grinning, women oiling men with their fingerti%s, women ta&ing out their teeth, girls stomachs, boys cal$es, roc&ets from old "mo$ies" flaring, bi&ini to%s, fingers cree%ing into nostrils, silos, suns—and the old man was standing by our side, and trying to yell, but we couldn t hear him, so he leaned closer, and said to us, to Marty and ;iolet and now +in& and me, he said, yelled, more li&e, he yelled: ""e enter a time of calamity5" "e stared. ""e enter a time of calamity5" "e tried to bac& u%, all of us e3ce%t ;iolet, who was confused, and +in& was saying, "This unit, he s li&e com%letely fuguing. #e has this—" ""e enter a time of calamity5 "e enter a time of calamity5" The old man reached out and, with a metal handle, touched me on the nec&. Suddenly, ) could feel myself broadcasting. ) was broadcasting across the scatterfeed, going, hel%lessly, We enter a time o! calamity! We enter a time o! calamity! ) couldn t sto%. And he had touched ;iolet now, and +in&, and Marty, and from all of them, it was coming, We enter a time o! calamity! We enter a time o! calamity! And now ) could feel that it was coming from other %laces, too, other %eo%le he had touched, and Marty was trying to say that he d ne$er had this before, it was &ind of cool, but he couldn t because
and bodies fell. The %olice were coming.iolet s. Towers o! air !ro?en in the lunar wastes. as the co%s came through the crowd. ) felt a &ind of &ic&ing in my face and ) disco$ered it was my mouth. this cra1y calling o$er it all. dance. and ) tried to ta&e her hand.ee the illars !all.3 "hile we said.. we were broadcasting. and he fell on one &nee. and then o$er us all. 9o you see the bodies? :an you smell the beat? Then you2ll . but at the to% of my lungs. $lood on the tarmac. and finally my fingers found her wrist. There2s nothing to sto you !rom !un.iolet loo&ed as scared as me. o$er our chorus.his signal was -ammed -ust with that. That2s !un. and the %olice were by our side. ) could see them. again and again. all of us in a chorus. . ""e re going to ha$e to shut you off now "e re going to ha$e to shut you off. too. li&e something ) had ne$er felt before. both out loud and on the feed. 'ingers in the 1uicer. hitting the man o$er the head again and again with stunners and stic&s. :hildren with smiles that can2t be undone. It2s dance. And then the %olice were at our sides. going. :hicken shall rot in the aisles." And then they touched us. Models dead on the runways. We enter a time o! calamity! We enter a time o! calamity! and %eo%le were turning toward us. ) couldn t really mo$e much. Peo%le were mo$ing away. whis%ering to us. o$er and o$er again. )t felt so soft. 3We enter a time o! calamity. . with their legs !acing backward. . Fun2s !un. which was saying the time of calamity thing. Peo%le were loo&ing. and there was nothing else. We enter a time o! calamity.3 and others in the room said it. and she tried to ta&e mine. )t felt li&e the nec& of a swan in the wind. and . the guy started this cra1y calling. dance. "e were standing in a line and the old guy was standing in front of us. It2s dance. and it went: ""e enter a time o! calamity. and !un2s what you can have. "e were shouting..
all o! the !un. Someone had left a message in my head. My body—) was in a bed.umble . and the lights. )t felt li&e ) was in a little room. and you see the veins o! the eo le you love bright as branches against the sky. but there was no transmission etc. :ome thrash in the cool until your head o ens u . which was aslee%. :ome and throw your boots at su erstars. and ) was starting to get scared. ) couldn t find the +unar 7PS to tell me. but there was nothing there. The +umble . . a hand e3tended toward the lemonade li&e 7od s at CreationH boys in 7a% tees shot from a roc&etH more lining u% with tin helmetsH =i&e gra$( gear %lunging into MontanaH a choir of 6amaican girls dressed in %inafores and stra%(on solar cellsH dry cleaners ironing the chee& %rostheses of the richH friends clutching at birds made of alloysH law %artners -um%ing fencesH snowH altitudeH tearsH hugsH night. on to% of my arm. ) tried to chat them on *arth.. which ) found. ) tried to touch my credit. which said that there was no transmission signal.come and roar with us. and then &e%t finding e$erywhere ) went. ooo Part 2 eden awake The first thing ) felt was no credit. ot6 an ocean o! chaos in the . and burnt in your brain will be the !un. and the 9o ler !ade o! screaming you heard at the . The +umble . of course.ea o! Tran#uillity. ) was currently disconnected from feednet. but nothing. that ) was currently disconnected from feednet. there was no transmission signal. ) tried to chat +in& and then Marty. ooo )mages of Co&e falling in ri$ulets down chiseled mountainsidesH children being held toward the sunH blades slicing grassH a hand. so ) tried to chat my %arents. ) was currently etc. but ) didn t &now where. ot. ot.
So ) o%ened my eyes. ) said. ) couldn t find anything interesting about that %icture at all. until they could see what had been done. There was nothing that was about to ha%%en or had -ust ha%%ened. Boring There was nothing there but the walls. "e loo&ed really s0uelch. still boring Our %arents had been notified while we were aslee%. because the room was irregular. waiting in a chair. "e loo&ed at them. #e had touched thirteen %eo%le in all. They said that they had identified him. She hadn t let him touch her. "e were in a hos%ital." she said. and that he was a hac&er and a naysayer of the worst &ind. because he loo&ed really cree%y to her. )t was fuc&ed." "e d been u% for fifteen or twenty minutes. Only +oga hadn t been touched by the hac&er. college try "=othing. "e had remote relays attached to us to watch our blood and our brains. The boat was on a %ond or maybe la&e. ""hat do we do.." she said. "2ou &now. ) didn t &now. There were fi$e walls." ) smiled. and they were in the wards. +in& was still aslee%." "Sure you did. ) couldn t figure out e$en the littlest reason to %aint a %icture li&e that. So sto% trying. "Or through my hos%ital gown. #e told us that we would be off(line for a while. . Our hair and stuff. There were also others.. ) thought maybe . who had been touched. ) had gotten u% and was sitting on a chair beside her. too. "e too& u% a ward. =urses went by. *$erything in my head was 0uiet." she as&ed. There was a %olice officer there. and at each other. One of them had a %icture of a boat on it. and chec& for $iruses." "=o. so she stood way far away. ") can t see anything. "ant some a%%le -uice. Through the feed. %eo%le we d ne$er met. and decry%t the feed history to get information to use against the guy in court.
this show called Oh? Wow! Thing! which has all these &ids li&e us who do stuff but get all %outy. Com%uters were all outside the body. All of the feedcasts and the instant news. so there s all the entertainment ) was missing without a feed. and &e%t touching our heads. *$erything we thin& and feel is ta&en in by the cor%orations. it s not so much about the educational stuff but more regarding the fact that e$erything that goes on. our heads felt real em%ty. and hel% you ma&e buying decisions that are hard. this big educational thing. missing the feed ) missed the feed. the thing that made it really big. that s on there. They carried them around outside of them. That s one of the great things about the feed —that you can be su%ersmart without e$er wor&ing. goes on on the feed. the %outiness. li&e the girls were all missing their fa$orite feedcast. *$eryone is su%ersmart now. which is what the girls go cra1y for. li&e if you carried your lungs in a briefcase and o%ened it to breathe. Suddenly. etc. is that it &nows e$erything you want and ho%e for. li&e if you want to &now which battles of the Ci$il "ar 7eorge "ashington fought in and shit. in their hands. )t s more now. )t was all da da da. and . fifty or a hundred years ago."e were frightened. closer than their !ingerti s. da da da. /efore that. At least in the hos%ital they had better gra$ity than the hotel. sometimes before you e$en &now what those things are. ) don t &now when they first had feeds. mainly by data ones li&e 'eedlin& and On'eed and American 'eed(ware. your child will have the advantage. /ut the braggest thing about the feed. li&e science and history. Peo%le were really e3cited when they first came out with feeds. )t can tell you how to get them. encyclo edias at their !ingerti s. they had to use their hands and their eyes. +i&e maybe. 2ou can loo& things u% automatic.
we all say that. ) fli%%ed through them sadly. because ) would ha$e li&ed to ha$e been able to ta&e the o%%ortunity to chec& out these great bargains. cache & carry ) had a few %ages cached. -ust sitting there. which was e$en more stu%id.they ma&e a s%ecial %rofile. 5ou have been hacked by the :oalition o! *ity. they &ee% li&e e$eryone in the world em%loyed. from right before the feed sto%%ed. or other com%anies buy them. /ut they re the only way to get all this stuff. and it s no good getting %issy about it. Of course. to ha$e it -ust li&e. so ) was -ust lying there. evil cor orations. that the sails were u%. The other was a good sale at "eatherbee I Crotch. da da da. for e3am%le they had a trim( shirt with side %oc&ets that . and then they gi$e it to their branch com%anies. and we all &now they control e$erything. and was &ind of how ) felt. but there was no one on board to loo& at the hori1on. which was e$en worse. and they can get to &now what it is we need. e$eryone is li&e. and ) couldn t do a fuc&in thing e3ce%t loo& at that stu%id boat %ainting. )t was too bad. because they re still going to control e$erything whether you li&e it or not. )n fact. *$eryone feels bad about that. whate$er rudders are. which said. because now ) saw that there was no one on the boat. ) went bac& and forth between them. Plus. oh they2re so bad. the thing that made me %issy was when they couldn t hel% me at all. and the rudder was. so all you ha$e to do is want something and there s a chance it will be yours. because who &nows what e$il shit they re u% to. in our brain. one that s &eyed -ust to you. which. ) mean. it s not great. and couldn t chat anyone. ) had %robably missed. by this time. so it s not li&e we could do without them. and couldn t %lay any of the games on the feed. well. And it s really great to &now e$erything about e$erything whene$er we want. One was a message from the cra1y asshole.
without saying anything. )t had been a day since any of us had heard from the feed. +ater. Then we couldn t hel% oursel$es. There was nothing to do. . Someone &e%t starting it u%. and were coming to the hos%ital the ne3t morning. . ) loo&ed o$er at her. The main lights were out. they went and did theirs different li&e that. Occasionally. +in& had finally wo&en u%. casual(li&e. Calista and 9uendy watched her. She would laugh at -o&es we couldn t hear.iolet stared at her hands in her la%. she d forget and she d say out loud to no one. night and boring )t was Saturday night. too. and she &e%t saying. "'uc& this shit. She loo&ed at me and then went bac& to staring at her hands. su%%orti$e. and $etch." #e wanted to be out %laying bas&etball or something. e3ce%t that then she would %ause and we could tell she was m(chatting all the news bac& to our friends on *arth. Marty was sometimes saying his usual &ind of thing. =one of us could get the tune of ") ll Se3 2ou )n" out of our heads.ight here5" or "#ello . which was li&e. . she went to the bathroom. 'uc& this. we had stared at the walls. you &now. which was nice. and then the others would swear and tell them to shut u%. "e d been sitting in our beds." or whate$er it was she was saying in her head. and we d start to ta% it out on our trays with a s%or&. Once. ) smiled. 'or most of the day since we wo&e u% after the attac&. %ersimmon. and he %aced u% and down the floor. Our %arents were %robably already on the moon. +oga came by during the afternoon and she tal&ed to all of us. . and we ta%%ed our feet on the rails. "Omigod5 2es5 .) thought ) %robably would ha$e bought. e3ce%t it only came in sand. . and came bac& with her hair %arted a different %lace. "Ohhhhh5 Ohhhhh5" in this sorry tone of $oice.
trying to say the right thing to %eo%le. . "2ou can ." she said. ) tried. "2ou go try to ha$e fun li&e a normal %erson.. "e were all su%%osed to be slee%ing. ) lay my head bac& on my %illow." ) didn t &now how to say what ) wanted. #ey. A few minutes later. We don2t have to say anything. #er head was low. "2ou re . which were red and loo%y. =ow the silence wasn t $ery good. There were machines that were ta&ing our %ulse and shit. ) heard ." ) said. and suddenly you re screwed. We2re 1ust sitting here. ) said. hey. ) was thin&ing." "e sat there." ) said. This is nice. it s li&e some &ind of brain surgery. "e were lying there. ) heard her wal&ing bac&. 2ou re crying. ) %ulled myself u% against the %illows. ""hy don t you sit down for a sec." ") m screwed. a normal %erson with a real life—-ust for one night you want to li$e.iolet wal& across the floor and head for the bathroom. ) could see the cur$e of her nose against my %ulse. ) wanted to say something to cheer her u%.. "e sat there for a little while. ) felt real contented. "2ou don t seem li&e a crier. "2eah. ) was thin&ing of how sometimes. ) could see the cur$e of her chee& against my brain wa$es. "2ou don t . She said. ) loo&ed o$er at her face. ) could see the light from my heartbeat on her tears. and all the big lights were out." she said. "#ey.. . ) had a feeling that cheering her u% might be a lot of wor&." "2ou re not screwed. She sto%%ed.=ow it was night." She sat down in the chair by my bed. *3ce%t with . which was green and bum%y. ." "2es. and you ha$e to twea& e3actly the right %art of the lobe.. "e sat." she said." "=o.
Shit." he said. it s more li&e brain surgery with old. yeah. =o m(chat. And it wasn t bad." ) was li&e. #e was dressed u%. 2eah. #e stood there staring at me for a few seconds. #e was being $ery %owerful and businessli&e." "Oh. ) &e%t thin&ing of nice things ) could say. And you ha$e to get e3actly the right %lace. whoa. ) told him." or. "Oh. #e -ust &e%t sha&ing his head and going. ) didn t want to ha$e her -udging us. and then blin&ed.iolet watching us.tal&ing. "2eah. li&e. . she &ee%s -um%ing and saying. ) started to not want to say anything. "Ow. and he loo&ed li&e he was ready to gi$e some orders and sort things out. Father "hen my father got there the ne3t morning. She was listening." ) could com%letely feel . !ude." but they all seemed -ust smarm. and ) was li&e. . "And ) thin& you are a normal %erson. What?3 #e seemed sur%rised. and thin&ing we were too boring or stu%id or something. maybe li&e those things you use to eat lobster. but the %atient. #ow s Smell 'actor. ) ho%ed she could see my smile in the light of my brain. li&e trying to brea& in to the minibar. So we -ust sat there." . This is . and you re touching around in the brain." "2eah. rusted s&ewers and things." "#ow s Mom. together. ) forgot. ") m glad you went out last night. "!o you ha$e to remind me. and we didn t say anything." Thin&ing of it li&e this. 6ust tal&ing." "She s li&e." "2eah. "hat s doing. this is some way bad shit. lea$ing out some %arts. she s li&e so stressed out. he didn t stay long. "!ude. My father as&ed me to tell him what ha%%ened. #e said. but brown. ""hat." "2our brother has a name. because that s how ) met you. #e loo&ed li&e e$eryone around us was stu%id and he was going to roll u% his slee$es and do some real clarity wor&.
She whis%ered. So Marty in$ented this game where we blew hy%odermic needleti%s through tubing at a s&inless anatomy man on the wall. and that she didn t need to stand with all her weight because ) was there.") said. This is this thing which is . . "As%irate. She too& my hand and %ut the tube in my mouth. ) could feel that she was %utting %ressure on it. "They re busy. and it was s&i%. #is mouth twitched. "e s%at the needles and tried to %in his nads. but she didn t %ay them any attention." "!ad." he said." She said in a flat $oice. one of the greatest days of my life. and we laughed and sang ") ll Se3 2ou )n. ) suc&ed. "ith -obs. . "O&ay. ) was staring at the wall and the stu%id boat %icture.iolet for it. "e all %layed the dart game. She always won. "ith the tongue. ""hen are your %arents coming. he said to someone who wasn t there. )t was a com%lete turn(on." Peo%le were really im%ressed."2eah. The sur%rise was. +in& and Marty were com%letely hitting on . ." #e turned to me and said." After a minute.iolet. #e hit me on the &nee and left. he stood u%. )t was the beginning of a great day. "O&ay O&ay. O&ay. ) could tell he was %issed." salad days w!snee"e guard The ne3t morning.iolet was the best at the dart game. #e held u% his hands. #e said. #e nodded to someone. we hadn t heard anything." "Shit." 'inally. ) heard 9uendy say to . ." 3$usy?3 "2eah. ) guess they can t come at all." !ad %ut his hand o$er his ear. ""hen am ) going home. "e decided we needed to be cheered u% big(time." *$eryone was smiling. She tried to teach me. and sometimes she would stand there with one hand on my shoulder. ") m going down to the %olice. this is bullshit. "They want to sub%oena your memories." "2eah.
meg. . . Organelle. tell us what s ha%%ening. he s going.iolet and ) loo&ed at each other. and she sat there cross(legged on the bed and told us. when we re li&e—we re li&e. +uc&ily. O&ay. "2ou can smell the salt. so she ga$e him a %iece of her mind.." so we all gathered around her in our little gowns. and her eyes were $acant li&e she was seeing some other world. what2s with all the needles? and he was u%grading to homicidal and going all. he s com%letely malfunctioning— he s com%letely in mal. 9a da da ro!essional care unit. so li&e now 7reg s wal&ing in." 9uendy actually cried one tear. and we all sat there. and she e$en used her hands and stuff. . smiling. and we were all tal&ing to her about stuff when she sto%%ed for a second because the girls fa$orite feedcast. and he s going . and soft. omigod. The moon s out. The bree1e is li&e that. when the doctor came in and was li&e. ) wish you could feel it. which ) guess she was. omigod. 2ou can feel the bree1e on your s&in. . /ig meg. so she goes . " 9uendy was li&e." And she told us the story of what was ha%%ening as it ha%%ened. and Ste%h is crying on the sofa. .Then +oga came in to the hos%ital for a while. da da da dangerous and costly da da in1ection da da da. god5 This is so romantic5" "Oh. . ) ne$er heard +oga tell a story this good before.. +in& s mom heard him yelling at us. Oh? Wow! Thing! was on." "e all shi$ered. li&e those nights. and he s . "e didn t loo& away "e still were li&e that. And he holds his hand u%. "O&ay. you &now. ) always lo$ed you from when we first went sailing. . )t s high abo$e e$erything. "Oh. loo&ing into each other s eyes and all. They were all li&e. She said. etc. What the hell had ha ened in the e/amination room. . "Tell us what s ha%%ening. )t s warm. "e re always going to be young. he goes. "6ac&ie is sitting on the front of the boat. and she s a com%lete dragon.
iolet was off some%lace tal&ing to the doctor. because he s a nice guy. and ." She shrugged. )t loo&ed li&e Calista was getting o$er +in& being so stu%id. ." ")t weirdly is.iolet said she still had a cane at home. ." ) said. too. ) li&ed being -ust a few beds away from her. glaring at them. "hen we were eating dinner. and ) reali1ed that they had %robably decided to hoo& u%. #a%%y. the garden . ) still felt &ind of bad about it." "#uh. +in& and Calista were standing real close by the $ibrating bath." ""hat s ha%%y about a salad.A. li&e the year when the big fashion from +. and shit was that e$eryone wanted to dress li&e they were in an elderly con$alescent home. ) say "some%lace" because we were using the e3amination room to blow needles at the anatomical guy s bas&et. and Calista had e$en bought one of those stu%id accessory wal&ers at "eatherbee I Crotch. There were those stu%id ads for ha$ing your %ants %ulled u% li&e around your chest.iolet came bac& from the doctor.She told him that we were all suffering from a $ery stressful e3%erience and we weren t used to these &inds of stresses and he had to understand that we had to ha$e our fun. "e could wa$e. ". which was brag. She was all intense loo&ing.iolet was com%letely meg blushing. "e all tal&ed about old music. and all the stu%id bands they had bac& then. but at least we didn t get li&e sho$ed into orbit on cybergurneys or something. because we made a big mess. "Maybe these are our salad days. ) as&ed what was wrong. "This is fun. sitting on her bed side by side. 9uendy sat there on the table. She . she said to me. so we all remembered ha$ing stretch %ants and $elour to%s." "2ou &now." she said. and the stu%id fashions we li&ed in middle school. there was this weird nostalgic chic for that.anch. li&e from when we were little.
and ) was staring at her. !itik on the floors. Outside the window. sla%%ing bac& and forth. She wal&ed in front of me. %ulled toward the crac& in the ceiling where we could see the stars. ""hoa. they were all writhing against the s%ine of . She massaged the floor. ) guess you could call it a courtyard or terrarium.said she d found a %lace she wanted to show me. dead garden. "e went out into the hall. she settled her foot bac& in. and ) went with her. and ) mo$ed toward her." ) said. Peo%le floated by automatically on gurneys. sliss. ) said sure. lots of waste air. and the air was roc&eting off into s%ace through the hole. !itik. "hen we sto%%ed to wait for an u%tube. and we &issed. so all of the dead $ines in the garden were standing straight u%. The $ines beat against each other out in the gray." ")t s li&e . li&e the sounds mouths ma&e when they o%en and close. "2ou re the only one of them that uses meta%hor. ")sn t it beautiful. Also. something was lea&ing air and heat out in the garden. They were soft sounds. !itik. and walked. and there was moon dust all o$er e$erything out there. ) hadn t felt anything li&e that for a long time. ." ) said. right on in. and she went." She was only loo&ing at me. The shouting from the e3amination room was more distant. and with her toes she slid it bac& and forth on the tiles without thin&ing about it. which was nice. li&e. #er sli%%ers went !itik. sliss. and so e$erything was dead.!itik. there had been a garden. /ut a long time ago the glass ceiling o$er the terrarium had crac&ed.!itik. she lifted her an&le so her heel came out of the sli%%er. ) watched her from behind. "e wal&ed for a ways through some tubes and so on. "e stood in front of it. ")t s li&e a s0uid in lo$e with the s&y. . *$erything was gray. . She rubbed my head. "hen the u%tube was free. She too& me u% to a huge window." She was staring at me.
and went to get her bag. /AS)C. a little embarrassed. )t in$ol$ed him being tied with all of his limbs. .the Mil&y "ay on its edge. They ha$en t been used for a long time. #e teaches the dead languages. ) felt her s%ine.A=. ) loo&ed at her funny. "hate$er it was." she said. ) didn t understand what my dad did e3actly. onto the frame of his bed with the rubber tubing. too. with my fingers. "2ou write." "Peo%le study that. ) said he was a lot younger and a real %ain. li&e his arms and his legs. ") guess. Then he tried to get u% and wal&. She o%ened it and %ulled out something.iolet and ) were sitting on a bun&." "+i&e what languages. he was off doing it on the moon until tomorrow." "They re languages that were once im%ortant but that nobody uses anymore. ""ith a %en. which was a %en. and my mom was in design. and for the first time." ) said. ) told her that my dad did some &ind of ban&ing thing. e3ce%t by historians." "O&ay." "2O4 &now. She said ) hadn t mentioned him." ""hat does one sound li&e. She also had %a%er. each &nuc&le of it. . "hen ) as&ed her what her dad did. she said. #e was not getting $ery far. dead language "e were watching Marty in$ent a game called Struggle of the !ying "arrior." She shrugged." "Sure. 'O. swinging our legs in rhythm.T. She %ut the %ad of %a%er on my la%.iolet as&ed me about my mom and dad. "e were tal&ing about our families. "#e s a college %rofessor. ) told her that ) had a little brother." She slid off the bun&. while the air lea&ed and the %lants whac&ed each other near the silent stars. when they were going to tell us about our feeds. She wrote something down. So what are the dead languages. .
eally %retentious. "So what does that mean. ) came. "Shut u%5 "ould you all shut u%." ) as&ed. it said: KKLMMK 7oto KMNGKK KMNGKK Pee& MENCC." ) loo&ed at her." ) as&ed . something occurred to me." ) said. ) -ust write down things ) see sometimes. A little. "!on t you end u% li&e. "e %awed each other with hoo&(hand. " ) loo&ed at her %en. and was being %ulled bac& toward the bed by the tubing. ". She nodded real 0uiet. ) &ind of %rotested it in SchoolJ. All of the ridges on his arms stood out. stuff. #is fingers were getting blue. ." "!o you write . ")t means. . ") $e done it since ) was little. so the studio audience has noticed. )t s way faster." ") m %retentious. ) loo&ed u% at her." ) as&ed. LNE She read it to me." "Seriously." she said. ) con0uered. Marty had fallen to his &nees. LNE KMNGMK Po&e MKNCD." she said. ""hy don t you use the feed. but he was too busy to come see you after . ) could tell the numbers fine." "On %a%er." ) said. "2ou write all the time. hoo&(hand." "=ot stories or anything.iolet. On the %a%er. ")t s the first thing my dad teaches the students on the first day. he s a college %rofessor. "!oesn t your hand get all cram%ed u%." "2eah." ) made hoo&(hand. She shoo& her head and smiled." "2eah. but seriously. ") can read. ) as&ed." she said." "This is the language called /AS)C." ) nodded. "2ou re one funny enchilada. "!o you &now how to read. #is chee&s were %uffed out #is hands were in fists. On the grounds that the silent * is stu%id. Calista and +in& were whistling with their fingers in their mouths. The other %eo%le in the ward were yelling." Suddenly. ) saw.She as&ed me. She made hoo&(hand. com%letely in awe. "2our father.
he was sorry for the delay. ) could feel the little hairs standing u% around it. da da da da da. *$eryone wanted to forget how suc&y the moon had been." said the doctor. "=othing. da da da. etc. "=o. -ust before lunch. there were nurses and the doctor and the technician. "O&ay. a doctor and a %olicewoman and a technician came in. Could we li&e get a thingie." she said. Too busy?3 She loo&ed me in the eye. . "but that s what ) told you." The bootstic& was cold on my nec&. #e shifted the bootstic& and it bee%ed again. that our feeds were safe. One by one. There was some &ind of static electricity. but they wanted to be absolutely sure there was no %ermanent hac&. our blood %ressure and all. we would !ind our normal service resumed without interru tion. The rest of us were all sitting around. da da da. 2ou ll feel it all coming bac& in a few seconds. Our %arents were all tal&ing o$er in the corner. like thank you all again !or your atience." The doctor touched a bootstic& to my head. ) heard it bee%. They mo$ed the bootstic& a little. Tuesday. "!on t worry about anything. The nurses were watching the relays." #elease The salad days couldn t last fore$er. ) loo&ed around. ) shifted on the bed. They were li&e." said one of the nurses. we went into the e3amination room. ) didn t feel anything. "2ou should feel it now. The technician called us all to attention and went through this whole thing. "=o." "#old your head still. "e really wanted to get bac& to *arth. )n there. he was meg sorry we had to go through this. da da da. ) feel nothing. tal&ing about s%aceshi% disasters. #e was all li&e. must have been a di!!icult time !or all o! us. and he had com lied with the olice and handed over our data." ) said. #e said. a reading on his limbic acti$ity. ) didn t feel anything. They were watching me closely. ) said.you li&e com%letely colla%sed from a hac&er attac&.
+ising. 9on2t dro the e/terior relays yet. and the doctor and ) did these big grins. all of it. :elebrate !un. . "e were all starting to feel it good— . and I2d like to tell you about u er-body strength . and we couldn t sto% laughing. . .) &ic&ed my heels against the bed. and this is the time !or a table !ull o! love and !riendshi and the e/citing entrees you can only !ind at. S&y and Suburb Monthly says there2s no other u car like it. until one cra?y day when this cranky old woman and this sick little boy meet a coy-dog . feeling them again. The Ford La uta.ignal engaged. . the su le u holstery and economically designed dash will0 They sla%%ed me on the bac&. and ) saw . . and there were our files. And the feed was %ouring in on us now. 5ou2ll he more than a little attracted to its ower!ul T"" !ermion li!t with vertical rise o! !i!ty !eet er second0and i! you like com!ort. and our m(chatlines. . . 9on2t worry. "There s nothing. her chin u% in the air. . =othing. big bro? $ig bro. and we were all starting to feel it now. *ulse u . name is Terry *onk. 5ou2ve 1ust come through something di!!icult. Limbic activity okay? 7e2s 1ust nervous. . "e were dancing in it li&e rain. . It2ll hit him in like a second. )t came down li&e fric&in s%ring rains. . and %ulling her hands down across her breasts.iolet almost hysterical with laughter. and we were dancing in it. . :elebrate !riends. .. all of the feednet. and we were running our hands across our bodies. ""hy don t you—" said the nurse." ) said.. "There you go. rubbing her chee&s. . )t came down on us li&e water. ) went bac& out into the other room. We have readings on engram !ormation. . . #uality. and we could feel all of our fa$orites. ) laughed." said the nurse. )nd we agree. and class. you there? 4om says I should .
.. 3What we have today. "e had this ma-or debate going on because we watched the Oh? Wow! Thing! and there was this %art where Organelle as&ed 6ac&ie whether she had meg hi%s and he was li&e. .. . I! you don2t !eel slogging waist-dee within !i!teen seconds. . "e went bac& to *arth. .3 She held my hand—we found each other s hands through the li&e.In other news.... . i! she asked him this com lete #uestion he should answer it. no way.. .3 you2ll love these other o ular slum -rock e ics by hot new storm 2n2 chunder band $ee! #uake. we danced. we both could wor& out more." and she was li&e. hits a grounder to the mound. and— .. you should $e lied. "Since you as&. rotests continued today against the )merican anne/ation o! the moon. with the things that are ha ening in today2s society.i/ty levels o! detonation and viscera 1ust waiting to !ly at your command.. .e/ 5ou In.outh )merican countries including $ra?il and )rgentina have submitted re#uests to 1oin the <lobal )lliance in res onse. We hand icked our s ring !ashions . #ardgore.. . and we all rested u%..with a heart o! gold—and they all learn an im ortant lesson about love. . I! you liked 3I2ll . and holding hands. ..." and so all the guys were saying. :a tain $astard. you may not have heard .. the best !eed-sim battle game ever to ri u the hori?on... and our moms brought us ginger ale in bed. *resident Trumbull s oke !rom the White 7ouse.everal . we2ll eat our !ucking hats . . The =2T called it. .. . "2ou shithead. .. is. "e chatted all the time on the feeds and shared music and shit. .In your absence. we danced. #and in hand. Part $ utopia normal Things were bac& to normal real 0uic&. !ull o! ri!!s that. and the girls were li&e.. the waterfall.
orangest sails toward :ryos. and e$en Smell 'actor was lea$ing his around and not clutching it. da da da da da. She was real busy with him and she went to %eewee league games for him and e$en too& him to wor& with her sometimes. omigod. da da da da da. because ) didn t see them in any ads. da da da da da. it s li&e. :harm @uark. and then wor&s down. because it was a software %roblem. who cares. :a 2n To @uark. )t was &ind of fun. lickety-s lit. The birds must ha$e been yesterday for a while. but she asked. $oson. My dad didn t really tal& to me e3ce%t to wal& u% and chec& to see if ) had a fe$er. which ) didn t. on the lanet . and Calista said this thing. and +in& said if they really didn t want to &now how they loo&ed. and it was li&e. )ye. too. until when the si3(year(olds get it. the metal ones. ) li&e debates where you argue about different %oints of $iew. re are the Friend :annon. and we2re on our way. then how come they as&ed so much. or sometimes. aye. Smell 'actor. "hen she wasn t around in the afternoons. with it broadcasting all o$er the %lace. li&e s0uee1ing him li&e a doll. one of the ones that didn t fly or sing. behind the counters. and they were li&e. Stuff always starts with %eo%le who are cool and in college. sir! Smell 'actor had one of those birds now. they were coming and going. . so ) watched it. and then ) said this thing. so ) could tell they were meg yesterday. he sat in his closet watching To @uark. and we were li&e. ) saw them on the landings. that whole lanet is so sad that I think they2ll need a whole lot o! good thoughts and hugging! That2s why. sir! 5ou2ve made me one ha y article. My mother was always holding on to my brother. because there was nothing else to do really but watch To @uark and eat Chi%wiches. when ) went down to the &itchen. you don2t get it. turn our biggest. My family.adalia. all day.i! you ever insult how I look then you2re com letely shallow.
and we lifted it together. . li&e A%%le Crest and 'o3 #ollow. and you could see the s&y through the dome. her hand was there. She was waiting there and loo&ing u% at the sun hitting one of the de%artment stores. )t was great because we had music on our feeds. . and &ids hanging out and shit. That was when e$eryone was ha$ing those cho&ing %arties. and ) would -ust fly through the tubes in the suburbs in my %arents u%car.A few days later. Then ) d go home and sit on my bed and watch the feed. and our heads were li&e mo$ing together. )t s times li&e this that ) m real glad ) ha$e friends. and e$erything seemed normal. so while we dro$e we had a little time to tal& before we got to the %arty. )t was the first time ) saw . "e had a %arty at the end of the wee& o$er at 9uendy s. ) met her at a mall near her house. because her %arents were off cho&ing somewhere. because really. The mall was right on the surface. )t felt good to get out and to see all of the u%cars in tubes and in the %ar&ing lots. and it was the same music. and our fingers closed o$er the lift le$er. each one in its own %od. loo&ing at all the houses and the lawns. and she %ut her hand near the lift le$er. ) went out on errands. They say friends are worth your weight in gold. so ) &new she was hearing the same notes that ) was hearing. and were flung u% into the s&y. it was com%letely midlife crisis. so ) got to fly o$er and %ic& her u%. so when ) got to the e3it tube and went to lift us. There were all the suburbs stac&ed on to% of each other. )t was brag because she didn t ha$e a ride. ) mean.iolet li$ed in a suburb that was a few hundred miles away from my suburb. and ) could borrow my %arents u%car. li&e %eo%le wal&ing and tal&ing on their feeds. there was no %roblem anymore. -ust normal stuff. and e$erything was all li&e neat.iolet since we were on the moon.
) don t &now." "+i&e a %arty. )t s fun.." "Oh yeah. They were all yellow in the sunset that was s%reading o$er the CloudsJ. "e flew between them." ") ha$en t been to many." ""ill it be li&e it is on the feed." "2ou don t go to SchoolJ. )t s a %arty. ) mean." She raised u% her hand. She loo&ed serious." "2eah. Can you show me." she said." ) loo&ed at her."e were going along %retty fast." "'rom what. ")t s got to change us somehow. "!o you thin& things are going to be different." ""e $e all been through this big thing together. She as&ed. and going around towers and shit. this ma&es me feel li&e a s%ecial girl." ) shrugged. "e could barely see the sil$er of their blim%(hides through the color of syru%." "4nit. ) shrugged. ")t s good to ha$e %eo%le again. She leaned bac& in her seat. dumber. There were some weather blim%s in front of us. "e were both thoughtful for a minute. "2ou do this . The s%ecialest girl in the world. ) said." ) %atted her hand. and we &noc&ed &nuc&les together. tal&ing to you in your head." ""hoa. so we re a mi3ed bag. "2eah. They were li&e a herd." ""hy. ) leaned my head bac&. but yeah.. and she as&ed me. "hat do you do instead of %arties." "2ou . ""hat ll a %arty be li&e.. She %ulled some seat belt out and then let it roll bac& in." "Alf s %arents teach us how to breechload their antiaircraft gun." "My friends and ) are all home(schooled." She rested her arm along the bac& of my seat. ) m so e3cited to be going to a real %arty. /ettina s mother has us come o$er and wea$e %onchos." "#ere s the sur%rising thing: )t s all in the wrists. suddenly. 7od. li&e all these %eo%le. 4nit." "'rom the way things were before.. ) could feel my hairs rub .
so when . 9uendy was at first really nice and normal. Marty almost whac&ed her in the stomach with his fist. 4nit5" #e was all shouting at +in&." said +in&.ever mind. 7e2s such a ig." Marty was li&e. #e and +in& were swearing and ho%%ing u% and down on the marble tiles. "hen we got there. because +in& and Marty were %laying each other at this game. . Then she started this glaring at Calista. "4nit. and how she was o&ay. now that we were there. . "Out of the fuc&in way5 "e re—Oh. -ust the gamefeed. I bet.iolet loo&ed &ind of timid. She too& a dee% breath and went o$er to say hi to Calista. 5eah. 7e did it with me like—Oh. a comedy about a young man who nothing e$er ha%%ens to. "e went into the li$ing room and o$er to the table where 9uendy had all the drin&s and beer. until one cra1y day when he crosses the mob at a s&i resort and finds out what s really buried in those moguls— and then all hell brea&s loose5 >=C(MB? . shit5—"e re—oh . ) stood around and tal&ed with 9uendy for a few minutes. Peo%le were sitting around drin&ing.against her arm. 9o you think :alista and Link are doing it? ) shrugged and was li&e. one of the ones with 1ombies and mutants. They couldn t see anything. The :ranky Tumble o! 9ark 7ouse. who was li&e missing some shot at a s%ine(leech. . *$en to my hairs. under%alued truffle "e got to the %arty and it was a %retty good %arty. tal&ing about how it was good to see that we were doing o&ay. but low(&ey.nowblind. and some of them had music on their feeds and were sitting around tal&ing to it. for a second we stood in the entry(way. and some others had im%orted a feedcast of . "6ust get out of the way.iolet wal&ed in. . and they were all s%inning around and shooting their fingers li&e guns. and e$erything was fine. and she was chatting me li&e. her arm felt soft.
as if she d ne$er been different from the rest of us. are you going out with . 5ou want to try the shrim on your !inger? She showed me how to %o% the shrim%. Some guy was %ouring the beer. =ust talking with :alista. ) loo&ed across the room and saw . "e were watching feedcasts as if our brains had ne$er been in$aded by the asshole. with her thumb. What2s doing? 7eyyyyy. so ) m(chatted her. =othing but a %arty." )t was li&e nothing had ha%%ened. Like. As she did it. with the shrim and your thumb? Okay.iolet tal&ing to Calista. +in& and Marty were doing li&e acrobatics in the entryway fighting in$isible . ) chatted. She was li&e. and both of them were frowning. I2ll show you. ) loo&ed around me. I made the mistake o! saying we were hack to the icayune grind. the one left with the feed when the rest of us didn t ha$e it. I wish I hadn2t said anything. ) was worried that something bad had ha%%ened. I2m tired o! 1ust being the !riendly one who everyone like ste s all over. 7ey. or had their eyes -ust blan& with the feedcast. "/ut he never %u&es when he chugalugs. )t was -ust a %arty. :alista says she2s kind o! stuck-u ? $ut I don2t agree at all. 'rom one direction. handsome. 5eah. ") thin& the truffle is li&e com%letely under$alued.iolet? 5eah. ) heard a &id say. That2s great. I think she2s meg nice. :alista2s the one who2s stuck-u . 7aving a nice little chat.9uendy glared at Calista and %o%%ed a %o%corn shrim% into her mouth from way down below. *$eryone was nodding their heads to music. +oga was laughing with her front teeth showing." And from the other direction. =ow she kee s going. :alista said that? 5eah. beauti!ul. li&e. 32*icayune2?!? 2*icayune2?!?3 and retending I2m French. 7ey. 5eah. a girl was saying. 7ow do you do that.
. !reedom does not lesions make. The feedcast went on and on. to believe the allegations that were made by these cor orate 2watch2 organi?ations. and they all went u% the mountain on s&is and shot at each other and finally they all learned an im%ortant lesson about lo$e. "e watched . and that !reedom. Then it was o$er. ooo . It is our duty as )mericans. ooo the others in mal The %arty went on. We need to remember. $y this I mean that we shouldn2t think that there are any truth to the rumors that the lesions are the result o! any activity o! )merican industry. The eo le o! the Anited . ) couldn t concentrate anymore. .tates know.. as I know. !or e/am le.tones. my !riends. O! course they are not the result o! anything )merican industry has done. that that is 1ust lain hooey. Okay.demons. and aren2t its will. I re eat not. 3It is not the will o! the )merican eo le. the eo le o! this great nation. The !irst stone. . And e$erything was com%letely normal.. which was weirding me out. She was -ust sitting there. to stand behind our !ellow )mericans and not cast. and as a nation dedicated to !reedom and !ree commerce. . which are not the ma1ority o! the )merican eo le.3 The *resident is e/ ected to veto the congressional. The truffle was com%letely under$alued.... he fell off a %latform at a mob(owned s&i lift and landed in %owder ne3t to a se3y assassin with a heart of gold. we need to remember that )merica is the nation o! !reedom. which the *resident denied in an address early on Tuesday.nowblind. things at them. The guy in it. and she wasn t laughing. . ) was feeling strange sitting ne3t to .iolet.
emember." said +in&. ecial. +in& s tongue came out. what did we -ust." ) wha%%ed myself on the bac& of the head." They s%read out their arms and closed their eyes. this is a great site." "4nit. and there were all these %eo%le bac& there on the bed and a chair and the floor.) went u%stairs to ta&e a whi11. "!o a burst. "'ly the friendly s&ies. blinded. "=ot tonight." ")t is time. and you could see when it hit them. 4nit. ") can com%letely see straight. ""hat did we -ust go through." ") m with. "4nit.iolet s into the mal. %unching me on the arm. doing the 0ui$er. "2our loss. and they went bac&ward." "O&ay. They got the shudder first. "for /ulb(twea&er. and then their heads roc&ed. They were whis%ering." ) was li&e. "is this malfunction. and they were big stumbling." " /ulb(twea&er ." ")t s -ust a mild scrambler." ) said." ""hat. "That s right in front of me.." "Come on. ". too. she ll ne$er &now. shitheads." "Oh." There were other guys in there. unit. )t s fuc&in smooth as glass." "=e$ermind." ") said ne$er mind. ." "Oh." ) was li&e. Then cran& it down to a slow burn." said Marty. 9uendy and . #e %ointed. ) went bac& downstairs." "#ey hey hey hey hey.3 "She ll ne$er &now5" said +in&. and one girl. +i&e. #ere ) go.. unit. "hen ) was done.iolet . Marty. ") m going to go again. come on. unit. ) said. "4nit. #uh." said Marty." ""hat is this." ") don t thin& . and Marty and +in& were dragging me into a bedroom. "Cut the )$: )!ter-school . you are about to wal& through the mirror. ) went out and to the bathroom." "#uh. 2ou with." +in& said. )t was %ur%le from candy. Someone had gone com%letely fugue on the bed." said +in&." Marty said." said +in&." "O&ay.
were tal&ing. 9uendy was li&e, ""here is e$eryone." but ) didn t tell her they were u% getting scrambled in the master bedroom. ;iolet as&ed if ) wanted to wal& out in the yard for a minute, and ) said sure, so we went out. "e were standing on the %orch and it was much cooler out there. The dome on the yard s %od was all blue, li&e it was night, which it was, ) mean, u% on the surface, but it was blue there at the house, too. "e stood, leaning on the railing. The night was %erfect. "e shut out the music from the feed. )t was funny, then, to loo& bac& in and see %eo%le mo$ing to nothing. She said, "2ou re 0uiet." ) nodded. ""hat s doing." she as&ed. "=o real one thing." "e -ust stood there together. ) said, "2ou didn t li&e the feature." She said, ")t was o&ay." "2ou didn t laugh." ") li&ed the mountains. All the %ine trees. ) d li&e to go to the mountains. "ouldn t it be nice. "ith a fire." ) %ictured the mountains and the fire and a snowball fight and let s(get(out( of(these(wet(clothes, and ) said, "2eah. Sure." ") want to get out to the country," she said. She loo&ed at me. ""hat s really doing." ) couldn t tell her about the guys going in mal. ) didn t want her loo&ing at them while they were on the wall(to(wall car%eting and doing the 0ui$er. ) didn t want her to loo& at them as if she was sorry. 'inally, ) said, "Peo%le ha$e -ust gone so 0uic& bac& to li&e before." ""hy." she said. ""hat ha%%ened." ) didn t tell her about them u%stairs. ) -ust told her about sitting in the li$ing room, and hearing the guy who was li&e the truffle was under$alued, and the girl who was li&e he ne$er %u&es when he chugalugs. ) told her about them and then ) loo&ed for the memory of them, which ) still had, and )
%layed it for her. She &new e3actly what ) was tal&ing about. She went, $rittle. I !eel like we2re the only two o! us who like remember the, like, the thing. *eo le want to !orget. 5ou can2t blame them. She loo&ed at me. She didn t say anything for a second, and then she said, "My feedware is damaged." ""hat. )n your—in your brain." She %ut her hand u% ne3t to her scal%. ")t ll be fine. /ut ) m the only one who had damage. They re trying to fi3 it." ""hat s wrong. Can you still get li&e, stuff and shit." She laughed. "2eah. /oth of them. ) m fine. /ut they say they ha$e to find some way to ma&e ad-ustments. Something ha%%ened when the guy hac&ed. Most %eo%le, the hac& -ust -ammed them for a while. Somehow it affected mine more. Something s still wrong." "#oly shit." "!o you remember one day when we were on the moon, the doctors too& me out to tal& to me alone. Then ) came bac& and found you, and too& you u% to the air(loss garden. The doctors, they were tal&ing to me about this. They said that it would %robably stabili1e. )t hasn t yet." "#oly shit." "They say it will %robably be fine." "#oly shit." She %atted me on the chest. "Calm," she said. "The rose will bloom ere long." "2eah. "hat(fuc&in (e$er." She watched me. ) stared at her. ) thought about Marty and +in& going in mal. She chatted, What are you thinking about? ;othing. It can2t be nothing. ) thought about +in& and Marty s eyes rolled bac&. And ) lied, li&e, I2m 1ust wondering whether he meant tru!!les the mushroom or tru!!les the candy.
She laughed and touched my face. ) felt li&e ) was %rotecting her from something and that felt good, li&e ) was a man already. ) hugged her li&e a man and we &issed. 'or a long time, we stared at each other. ) li&ed the way the synthetic bree1e was on her hair. "e stood, loo&ing out at the shrubs, and the motorboat u% on a trailer, and ) felt li&e ) was in lo$e, and our arms were around each other. She leaned close to my head and too& a handful of my hair in her hand and %ulled my head down. She whis%ered, "8ee% thin&ing. 2ou can hear our brains rattling inside us, li&e the littler ,ussian dolls." &udging That night, the night after the %arty, ) had something that ) thought was a dream, with me at a great site where all the games were free and you could %lay anything. So ) was thin&ing different e$en about %retty dumb games li&e Turbo :heckers, because if you can get anything for free, what the hell, so ) started one of them, which was this fantasy game, and ) was %utting on some elf glo$es, and stringing my bow, when ) could feel that someone was nudging my feed. They were nudging it, li&e with their chee& or nose. )n my dream, ) as&ed them who they were. )n my dream, they told me they were the %olice. They as&ed me if ) was a $ictim of the hac& at the ,umble S%ot. )n my dream, ) said yes. )n my dream, they told me o&ay, go bac& to slee%. )n my dream, ) said who were they really. They said that they were going to be running some tests on me, and that ) should thin& about something else. ) said that they weren t the %olice, so who were they really. They said, here is the li1ard you ha$e always been wanting. "e too& the liberty of gi$ing it a nice new collar. ) as&ed if all these games were mine.
There were streets in the cities. and the li1ard that was all mine.All yours. ooo . . I remember. and eagles !lew over them. during those last days o! the )merican !orests. which. . and you2d stumble on them—these rinces o! the air on common roo!to s— the rivers that burst through city streets so they ran like canals—the rabbits in arking garages —the deer !oaling. sweetie. the Coalition of Pity. . and the elf glo$es. I miss that time. All yours. 7ood night. )4A+I:)6 ) *O+T+)IT I. wobbling without moving their wings. I remember seeing the hawks erched on street lam s. or ine woods that were now two or three levels o! suburb. and the bow. nestled in 9um sters like a . They had come !rom the mountains. were !ull o! wonders. back then. as the last !orests !ell. but the haw&s sat in our cities like kings. ) didn t remember that for wee&s. we would see hawks and eagles in the cities. maybe... /ut when ) wo&e u%. 1ust a!ter the !orests died. The cities back then. "hat ) remembered was -ust the games.. )n my dream.. . they said. The tem erature usually didn2t get above a hundred. ) thought they were the hac&er grou%. Ta&e them. at about that time. <>>B>+. *eo le walked outside more. It was like they sat alone on 9ouglas !irs. They re all yours. once ) was awa&e.ativity. . ) couldn t find. They would not look down !rom their lam osts as thousands o! downcars went by underneath.. ooo lose the chemise . All yours.
and %eo%le were flying $ery businessli&e.)t was maybe.iolet was standing near the fountain and she had a real low shirt on. o&ay. maybe it was li&e two days after the %arty with the "ne$er %u&es when he chugalugs" that . So ) flew o$er to the mall near her house through the rain. and really e3cited for her idea. and she was li&e. yum. she %ointed out that. and besides that she was smiling. to show off her lesion. They were buying all this stuff. es%ecially before you use mouthwash. ) said. "2um. sure. . Okay. !ine. and she was li&e. ) said. because the stars of the Oh? Wow! Thing! had started to get lesions. so now %eo%le were thin&ing better about lesions. *$eryone had on all their lights until they got abo$e the clouds. ) didn t ha$e $ery much of one. regarding legs to stand on. should I come over to su casa? I2ve never been there. yum. did ) want to see the new one. li&e the inflatable houses for their &ids. 4% there it was sunny. not yet.iolet. Okay. whate$er swings your string. The mall was really busy. there were a lot of crowds there. and the dog massagers. and the tooth e3tensions that %eo%le were wearing. you swing my string.iolet loo&ed great in her low shirt. . 'or a second we said hello and -ust laughed about all of the stu%id things %eo%le were buying and then . because ) was wheeling around a wheelbarrow full of a giant hot cross bun from /un in a /arrow.iolet chatted me first thing in the morning and said she was wor&ing on a brand(new %ro-ect." . . and lesions e$en loo&ed &ind of cool. $abycakes. which is a nice thing for someone to say to you.o. Let2s meet at the mall ) was li&e. and she was all. which was coming down outside in this really hard way. the white ones which you slid o$er your real teeth and they made your mouth -ust li&e one big single tooth going all the way across. ) as&ed her what was the old %ro-ect.
"+oo& around you. "+isten. They want to &now what you want. they do these demogra%hic studies that di$ide e$eryone u% into a few %ersonality ty%es. . "They re also waiting to ma&e you want things. and how e$erything on the feed had its %rice. *$erything we $e grown u% with—the stories on the feed. and to ma&e you conform to one of their ty%es for easy mar&eting. They try to figure out who you are." ) as&ed her what the idea was. That s the feed. O&ay." ")s . what ) $e been doing o$er the feed for the last two days. +i&e they re watching us right now. ) mean. All right. "+isten to me. And gradually. more sim%le. so we get less and less $aried as %eo%le. And it goes on and on." She smiled and %ut her finger inside the collar of my shirt. She said. )t s li&e a s%iral: They &ee% ma&ing e$erything more basic so it will a%%eal to e$eryone. ) m going to become in$isible." ")t s a mall.She was li&e. %arents were going on about how toys were stu%id now." ) said. no one can mar&et to it. So what. "2ou ready." she said. the games. ""hat ) m doing." ) did." This was the &ind of thing %eo%le tal&ed about a lot. is trying to create a customer %rofile that s so screwed. . So the cor%s ma&e e$erything e$en sim%ler. e$eryone gets used to e$erything being basic. so ) was li&e. and ) started to thin& about things. She said. )t was the mall. and then you get ads based on what you re su%%osedly li&e. "2eah. when they used to be good. *$erything we do gets thrown into a big calculation. but it s also boring. ") was sitting at the feed doctor s a few days ago. ) m not going to let them catalog me. all of that—it s all streamlining our %ersonalities so we re easier to sell to." ) listened. O&ay. li&e." "This is my %ro-ect. it might be true. and o&ay. ." . She said. They can tell where you re loo&ing.
huh. but she said to come with her. )t was. and immediately our feeds were all com%letely /ebre&&er I 8arl." She whis%ered. ) waited for an e3%lanation. chea%er searchlight. yawn. And all o$er the to% of them. . "e were bannered with all this cra1y high(tech fun stuff they sold there. ) said ) didn t &now." /ebre&&er I 8arl were bannering us big. "Sure. and +ela/. and he too& these big searchlights off the rac&. We2ve streamlined the Tesla coil !or ersonal use—you can even wear it in your hair! With these new. the really strong ones. There was this one time. She didn t tell me any more. ) was li&e. "hen he went into the bac& to get another. ) ha$e one of these on my u%car. ) said to .iolet. "O&ay. #e showed us some different models.iolet was li&e.. and she grabbed one of the nodules on my shirt—it was one of those nodule shirts—and she led me toward /ebre&&er I 8arl. #e told us. The feeds had s%ecs. They showed us the s%ecs while he tal&ed. really—whoa. it loo&ed li&e it was mo$ing. da da da." but the guy came bac& and he had another searchlight.) stared at her for a minute. "2ou can see shit real good with this one. ""e ha$e . so her nail touched the s&in of my throat." he said." "2eah. ""hat ne3t. She ran her finger along the edge of my collar. "Com%licating. "e ha$e those.esisting.. And ) was flying along at night and ) shined the light down at the ground. to loo& at the to%s of all the suburb %ods. li&e that. "e went into the store. li&e there was a blac& goo. /ut . and slum ! While our greased cybermassage beads travel u and down your back! <uaranteed to make you etc." #e went o$er to some rac&. ) mean. !o you ha$e those big searchlights.. yeah. )t s sometimes li&e— whoa. So ) turned u% the brightness. and ) . Then a guy wal&ed u% to us and said could he hel% us.
She too& me to a rug store. Music is mar&eting. There s no difference between a song and an ad$ertising -ingle anymore. and we went to a toy store and she as&ed them to e3%lain the world of /lea&a1oid action figures. #e was li&e. running all o$er the to%s of the domes. )nstead. "They ha$e charts that show which chords are most thumbs( u%. She win&ed at me. ""ould that be %ossible. there would be this—" ") d li&e to mount the light on my belly. Then ) could swi$el it." "Sure. They ha$e lists of &ey changes that get thirteen(year(old girls screaming. but then she didn t buy it. as&ing for weird shit we didn t buy. O$er here." "Something s%ecial." "e went to a clothing store and she held u% all these stu%id dresses. ) can t e$en thin&. "e ran through the big hallway with her ta%%ing her head and saying. "e &e%t going from %lace to %lace. and ) was starting to get the %icture and thin& it was all %retty funny. which is a dumb(ass name if ) e$er heard one.went down. There were miles of them. in this low $oice." #e loo&ed at her funny. They &e%t on trying to get out of the light." )t was %o% songs. Ste% li$ely. She rubbed my arm u% and down. but they e3%lained it all. and then she too& me out of the store. so where$er you shined it. She didn t ha$e it mounted. )t was &ind of a turn(on. and a store with old chests and %ieces of eight and shit. The music. and ) shined it more bright. and it turned out the blac& mo$ing goo was all these hordes of coc&roaches. ." ""hat s this for. which is usually how it is.iolet said." . she than&ed him a real lot. ""hoa." #e ga$e me the thumbs(u%. She got him to send her all of the feedstats for the lam%. ""ith a swi$el head. "e didn t buy anything." she said. )t was mainly they were these muscular %eo%le from a %arallel world. se3ily. Songs are their own -ingles. and the girl there was li&e. "#ear that.
you reali1e this obscure stuff isn t obscure at all.iolet as&ed me. business stationery. "e went to some more clothing stores. ) can t tell you. ) wor& out." . and we loo&ed at ma&eu% that she wouldn t wear.. a %ennywhistle. all of these sites." ) %ractically started to laugh snot into my hand. "That will loo& great. and ) was fro1en." . and she was all." She said. a sarong. all of this info on male %attern baldness." ) said. ! you thin&. "'or the last two days." The girl loo&ed at me. "This one is the chea%est. ) don t &now. it s all out there. barrettes . so she &e%t smiling fa&e. and a gra$el(tumbler. a barrel of institutional lard. "2eah. And ) $e been loo&ing u% house %ainting for the Antarctic homeowner.iolet. and she com%arison(sho%%ed for home endosco%y &its. #e s %retty wide in the chest. ") don t &now. "hat s your cu% si1e. and we loo&ed at all these dumb sweaters and %retended we li&ed them." ) shrugged and %layed along. an industrial lawn mower. so I2m going to be really !ake. ""hat are you. So ) said. and the way %eo%le get married in Tonga. waiting. o&ay. "e were loo&ing at the endosco%y &its when she started whis%ering to me. nine and a half. ") thin& he d li&e something slin&y. .S Pharmacy Su%erstore. and we went to a !. and nodding really serious at all the dresses ." and .iolet held u%. .. "O&ay. "+i&e. &ind of sil&y." ) %ic&ed u% one bo3. 2ou swallow the %ills and they ta&e %ictures as they go down." ) guessed." "O&ay. holding u% her hands li&e she was annoyed.iolet said. some really cheesy boy(%o%. "Once you start loo&ing at all this stuff." .iolet said. and genealogy home %ages in the C1ech ." said .e%ublic . *ach thing is li&e a whole world. ) $e been earmar&ing all this different stuff as if ) want to buy it —you &now. the chemise last wee& was a mista&e. "That s my shoe si1e. "As long as you can sto% me from rubbing myself u% against a wall the whole time.I2m hel ing a weird kid.
as long as ) get to wear the chemise. She was %inching the elbow s&in and %ulling it. "e went to dinner at a 6. standing by the door. with your house. and then went in. a month of his salary. %inching and %ulling." ) guessed."#ow s your li&e. but it would ha$e been." ") m -ust wondering." ")t s fine. /efore ) %ulled out of the tube by his office." ) %ointed at my head. ""hat s doing with your %arents. a lot. we were sitting there in the booth." She as&ed me." she as&ed me really hard. And why didn t your dad come to the moon. ) said. "A lot. ) said was she sure. She got a Caesar salad." "2eah. #er -aw muscles were stic&ing out. you &now." She loo&ed at me funny. ) wonder if it s true." "#e sa$ed u% for a year for you to go to the moon. She had her hands on her elbows. Then ) flew her a few miles away. and that stuff ha%%ened. 'niffling . "!o you &now how much it costs to fly someone to the moon. li&e." ") li&ed the guy in /ebre&&er I 8arl. ) ha$e an a%%ointment. "hen we were. about the coc&roaches. ) left her there. 2eah. 2ou re not listening." "e made out for a minute in the car. "#ey. and why you ha$e me meet you here instead. She said no." She laughed. and she said yes. She said. to a technician. #e wanted to come. She waited there. "how s your feedware wor&ing out. ) said." ""ell. ")t sounds great. ) loo&ed bac& at her. There were free refills on drin&s. #e sa$ed u% for a year to send me. Afterward." ""hat do you thin& about resisting. Then ) went." She said. and ) as&ed her whether she wanted a ride home. 2ou can dro% me at the feed technician s office. "e had mo11arella stic&s and then ) had a big stea&." "2eah. ""hat do you thin&. P /arnigan s 'amily *3tra$agan1a." ""hat do you mean. here s what you can do.
.iolet. 9idn2t you have a real good time? I wish you were here.iolet 9urn. And they were landing on our fingers. . )re you crying? There was a long feed silence. . What2s doing? . ) could hear %rogramming. =ust !or ractice. so she was warm. and on our eyes. It2s going cra?y with everything we looked at today. Look. ) thought about her lying in bed.iolet? She was li&e. I had a good time. and their wings were win&ing beautifully. It2s trying to work !or me.ever mind. 'inally. I wish I was there. ) chatted her after ) went to bed.ever mind. It was great.ina. And we were going—Whoa! . ) said. ) as&ed. 7i! I2m . she chatted. going to the mall today. o%ening and dosing. she said. Once they started coming. what a ski kinda day you had! 5ou go sho . too. and ) could feel them doing that call. too. . she was li&e. your ersonal FeedTech sho ing assistant! Tired o! that gross-out smell in your mouth? Try Fresh<orge <lottal 9eodorant—your boy! will thank you big-time! 7ey. and we were smeared with something. There were sites for the s%otlights and the dresses and the endosco%y &its. she said. 5eah. and they &e%t coming and coming. 7ey there.iolet started to forward me things. girl! 7ere2s some more great in!o about all the brag stu!! you asked about! . This %er&y $oice on her feed said.That night. ) was li&e. Look at everything I got !rom the !eed. Maybe in some %a-amas. they started to call others to them. )t was li&e they were lots of friendly butterflies. 7ey. and on our li%s. and they were all around me. She was li&e. and she sent them in flurries. changing the whole sub-ect. and more and more came. ) could tell something was wrong. I en1oyed that whole thing. They came to us. )t was something about the way she was sending things on the feed. I did.
"e went there holding hands. but -ust that there was so much she hadn t done. though. and together we went to an old %lace. ) was afraid that she would be too smart for me. or her father -ust said no. and it was a new %lace. ) did get worried that she was too smart for me. Sho%%ers wal&ed around us on the concourses. the dimples of delglacey O&ay.Whoa! Whoa! )t was cra1y. . "e sat in the mall and made u% stories about %eo%le who %assed by.iolet was great. ) don t do too good in SchoolJ. /ut she had watched all the shows about how other %eo%le li$e normally. he said she couldn t ha$e toy guns. and we duc&ed through doorways. because they were against his beliefs. She was always new. and she really wanted to li$e li&e the rest of us. ) don t mean she wasn t smarter. So she and her other home(schooling friends had tried to co%y us. a new place /eing with . so she had to %ic& u% anything— %ieces of wood or bent metal—and use them li&e a toy gun. A lot of it was too e3%ensi$e. or ) too& her hand. She was li&e a little &id. and we laughed and laughed. )t was li&e she too& my hand. They were all muttering. and we wal&ed from store to store or went on the air slides or sho%%ed underwater. but sometimes. She hadn t had much of the stuff you see on the feed when she was younger. but she wasn t. "e went into stores. 'or e3am%le. so ) was reminded %retty often that ) was stu%id. "e made u% stories about how they d gi$en birth to monsters in attics. because she was. "e were bac& in SchoolJ. all e3cited when ) was -ust meeting her at the mall for the day. She had hardly e$er done any of it before. their mouths mo$ing. and %retend it was -ust as good as a real one made of %lastic. tal&ing to %eo%le who weren t there.
it was big boring. I know. )t was still hard.SchoolJ is not so bad now. when you mi/ like. and ) felt stu%id. lease. )t s an in$estment in tomorrow. some of the big media congloms got together and ga$e all this money and bought the schools so that all of them could ha$e com%uters and %i11a for lunch and stuff. this ha ened in !ourteen ninety-two. li&e mainly how to use our feeds. which they ga$e for free. and that &ind of shit. condescending? Omigod. they care about America s future. Also. Omigodl This is so dumb! :ould the teacher be any more. And ) sat there with my %alms %ressed into my forehead. which sounds com%letely li&e. =ow that SchoolJ is run by the cor%orations. being smart. +i&e she was always reading things about how e$erything was dying and there was less air and . and all the &ids were meg null. And nothing was useful. da da da da. ) would thin& about some con$ersation we were ha$ing where ) was dumb. chalk and water. it makes nitroglycerin. it s good because that way we &now that the big cor%s are made u% of real human beings. and not -ust -er&s out for money. it was all li&e. and we all felt stu%id. not li&e bac& when my grand%arents were &ids. to ha$e the go$ernment running the schools. at home. thin&ing about . thanks !or the hea in2 hel ings o! yawn ban#uet. because ta&ing care of children. =a1i. and +oga and Calista were li&e. da da da da. it s %retty brag. /ac& then. when the schools were run by the go$ernment. and now we do stuff in classes about how to wor& technology and how to find bargains and what s the best way to get a -ob and how to decorate our bedroom. because it teaches us how the world can be used. because they didn t learn anything useful. there were some times when none of us did good. Like.iolet. "hen no one was going to %ay for the %ublic schools anymore and they were all li&e filled with guns and drugs and *nglish teachers who were really %im%s and stuff.
it2s all !ascist. ) was li&e. because the news had been as&ed to be a little more %ositi$e. so ) was li&e. and ) was li&e. $ut I want to know what2s going on. So ) was li&e. da da da. "hen she said things li&e It2s not a democracy. and she said. . ) was li&e. She was li&e.othing2s ever going to ha en in a two. isn2t it? We2re all !ascists? Then she was li&e. but she couldn t really tell e3actly how bad. it2s a democracy. "Ca%italist fool—%ro%aganda tool. and she was li&e. we can change things. suddenly ) couldn t stand to be ha$ing this whole con$ersation. she was suddenly li&e those girls in SchoolJ who sit underground and dress all in blac& with ribbing and get an iron fi3ture for their -aws and they re li&e. okay." holding u% both their hands. She told me about how things were getting really bad with some things in South America.o. 5ou got to believe in the eo le. both arties are in the ocket o! big business. da da da. I2m not trying to be an asshole. it2s not a democracy. She said that it made her frightened to read all this &ind of thing. . 5es it is. Oh. ) mean. She was li&e. . 5ou should do something. It2s not a democracy. and ) got sarcastic. and she was li&e. sure. so ) was li&e. Oh. It2s a re ublic. It2s a !ree country. yeah. .e$erything was getting to3ic. . because it was -ust de%ressing. about how %eo%le hated us for what we did. So one time ) said to her that she should sto% reading it. That2s my oint. she wasn t li&e this %layful %erson who drags me around the mall doing cra1y shit. etc. really gently. lease. It2s not. Why? $ecause we elect eo le to vote !or us. ) hated it when she got li&e this.o it isn2t. It2s not a democracy. Then what is it? ) re ublic. She was li&e. so she was li&e. because then she wasn t li&e herself.o. all that. nothing2s ever going to change. and ) was li&e.o. . Then you should do something about it.arty system.
and then she e$en chatted me. .. only about seventy-three ercent o! )mericans have !eeds. Then it would be a democracy. )t was that &ind of 0uiet. that so many eo le don2t have them. And so ) felt stu%id. 7oly shit. and she %ut her hand on my arm. and she felt bad. ) -ust sat. )nd my dad and mom didn2t want me to have one. she reali1ed what she had said. From the !eeds. what eo le don2t know about these days. For what? For not knowing. There2s that many who don2t? Then she told me. . that she d -ust called me a self( centered. When I was little. Then she went. I. ) said. we2re raising a nation o! idiots. I got it when I was seven. ) said. . I didn2t mean . 5ou know. you2re brought u to not think about things. she said. 5eah. $ecause o! the !eed. When you have the !eed all your li!e. so ) didn t mo$e my mouth or chat her or anything. Instantaneous. ) loo&ed away. It2s something that makes me angry. it2s not really im ortant.o one with !eeds thinks about it. ) was li&e. . ) could tell ) was li&ing to watch her tri% u% o$er her words while ) was doing this angry face. everybody would have to decide about everything. ) -ust sat there and watched her. because it showed that we both &new ) was stu%id. I believe . she said. I2m sorry. and so on. . Suddenly. but 1ust. She started stumbling all o$er her words. sel!-centered idiots. She sto%%ed. Oh. We could have everybody vote. . and she was li&e. I didn2t used to have a !eed. because it was the . ignorant idiot. Like them never telling you that it2s a re ublic and not a democracy. ) thought about that. . What do you mean? She was 0uiet li&e she didn t want to chat. We didn2t have enough money.o why is it like that? $ecause i! it was a democracy. . which was bad. you know . and then ) loo&ed away. I2m sorry. >/ce t. which was the worst. Ignorant.
""hat s wrong. 'inally. "=o." "=o. +i&e." ) didn t want to say anything. ) didn t want my mom to thin& . and my mom came u% and hugged me. anyway.iolet wasn t a snob. learning ancient Swahili or building a re%lica of Carthage out of iron filings or finding the cure for entro%y or some shit." "Come on." "She should be %roud of you. ")sn t he a wonderful boy." and my mom was li&e. ) mean. ." "2ou re a catch.consolation %ri1e. "!o you thin& ) m stu%id." ) didn t answer for a while." and my dad was li&e." My dad was con&ed out at the table going o$er the news on the feed. am ) dumb. "Sure.iolet was a snob. ) did really bad on a test. "2ou re %ewter." "6ust as&ing. o&ay. and my mother was li&e.. when ) got home. That night. )sn t he. staring at a corner of a room. "2ou re as handsome as a duc& in butter.iolet. . #e s dumb. two hundred miles from here. ) said. "2ou re a wonderful boy. she was. yeah." That was no hel% at all. being sorry. he s not. but ) can say that you re a wonderful boy. yeah. ")s this re: . ) don t &now. it s un(re: her. and . My mom came o$er and said to me." "2ou re a nontraditional learner.iolet chatted me to say she couldn t tal&. ) &now ) m your mom. ) $e ne$er been there. and ) was sitting around. "hy." said my mother. ") don t &now. That s not good." ""here does she li$e. Ste$e. and she was li&e. ) was loo&ing out the window. /ecause she shouldn t ma&e you feel stu%id. ) was -ust dumb. where two of the walls and the floor came together." My mother as&ed. and the ne3t day. and ) came home. and my mom and dad caught me doing it." my dad as&ed. but he %ulled himself u%. )s it re: her." Smell 'actor said." "Mom.
." said my mom. and hairline of !el7lacey Murdoch. we ha$e this %icture of !el7lacey Murdoch. ." ) said. small roles." said my dad." ""ell. . ""hat." said my mom. and ) ho%ed they would lea$e. dim%les. So after the mo$ie we went right to the conce%tionarium and told them. "And the chin. he was mostly . ""e thought he was li&e the most beautiful man we d e$er seen in our li$es. "hat did you say his name was again... he starred in a lot of things. She said." "!el7lacey Murdoch. the night you were made. And we thought he was the most beautiful man we d e$er seen. 2ou re -ust what we as&ed for. &ind of smoothing things o$er. Okay. "e want him with my nose and his dad s eyes. 4a. yeah. ") $e ne$er e$en li&e heard of !el7lacey Murdoch." My father %layed ner$ously with his %instri%es." . "we thought he was going to be big." My dad was meg uncomfortable and &e%t on mo$ing from foot to foot. enough !or a!!ection. ) guess . "That s right. "e want the most beautiful boy you $e e$er made. and roc&ed me bac& and forth." "!el7lacey Murdoch." "And my mouth. So ) had to sit there and listen to about me. 5ou can back o!! now. " ) said. enough to say. he didn t really ta&e off the way li&e we e3%ected. "2ou re -ust the boy we wanted. "And my hands. My mom ran her fingers through my hair. 2ou ne$er told me about the actor. She did." "#e was . li&e a %oem. but they weren t done. and for the rest." e3%lained my mom." "#e starred in some things. . They d tried to find me. "Ste$e. "#e didn t . 2ou re good enough for any girl." My mom win&ed. "This big actor. ""hat was his name. ) %atted Mom a little on the bac&.) could tell it was all staged. .." said my mom." ""hat. e$en though ) was standing." said my dad." ""e saw a feedcast with him in it the night we . . Ste$e.." ) said. After that mo$ie. "2ou $e got your father s eyes and my nose. and she said.
"Oh. . "#ere s the banner. god5" ) said.." "#e was in the feature with all the cra1y utensils. and so he was li&e. So we went into the conce%tionarium. coughing. ")t doesn t matter what he was in. by tomorrow ) would be dri$ing to %ic& u% ." said my mother." ""e $e decided that you $e been through a lot.. and ) was li&e holy shit. that isn t the %oint. and how bra$e you are. ) started to feel a little better. ". no. shit5 #oly shit5 Are you &idding5 2ou are li&e the best mom and dad e$er5" ""e re not &idding." said my father. . The guy touched me and ) -ust li&e. some &ind of banner they were %ulling u%. ) could feel them li&e %rodding it. ) could feel their feeds shifting toward a common %oint. he was the most beautiful actor e$er. My %arents were chec&ing my feed." ) had already %ulled u% a list of his feed(features and ) was going o$er them. "=o." And it unwra%%ed in my head. ") -ust fell down." and she m(chatted something to my dad." "2ou were bra$e." said my dad." ""hat we re tal&ing about. god5 Oh. . ""e $e decided you need a little cheering u%. and a big line of credit. a banner for a dealer. "2ou $e been $ery bra$e. and .emember . "is how handsome you are. and ) was hugging them. and your father went in one room.irtual $last? #e %layed the fifth =a$y Seal. with the crou%. ""e $e decided to get you your own u%car. and told the geneticists what we wanted."Straight to daytime. ""ithin certain limits. "2ou can %ic& it." said my dad." "Oh." "#ey—hey—) don t want to hear5" "2ou &now what he was in." my mother re%eated. 2ou &now." said my father. #e was the doorman in the %illbo3 hat. "2eah . =one of them got more than two stars." said my mother. and ) went in the other." said my dad. fell down. That one. "#oney. and lin&s to other dealers. and my mom was li&e." ) said." said my dad. "A few years ago. Mom—!ad—this is—oh." said my mother." said my mother.
'or e3am%le. and whether the . We should say again that any attem t to withdraw the )lliance2s di lomatic resence !rom )merican soil will be taken as a sign o! ill will. because you ne$er &now what une3%ected factors will come into %lay. and. It has to be understood. and suddenly. and you should always test(dri$e a $ehicle before %urchasing it.. uh.what the *resident meant in the interce ted chat. uh—this is an )merican idiom used to raise eo le. uh. ) didn t feel so stu%id anymore. ooo C. "e %ic&ed ..iolet u% at the mall and too& her with us. The *resident meant to say that the *rime 4inister2s head was !ertile.2 what he was trying to convey was. 1ust !ull o! these nutrients where ideas can grow. /oth she and me were really e3cited by the whole thing. but it s not the same as actually dri$ing them. that.iolet in my own goddamn u%car. nothing but a routine translation roblem.. This was. by re!erring to the sheer !ertili?ing ower o! their thoughts. and ) didn t li&e the dashboard arrangement of the !odge Cormorant. about what color to get.. . we are likely to res ond with the most stringent." ooo lift My father too& me to test(dri$e u%cars on Saturday. and we were chatting really fast the whole time. ) had tried a lot of them in the feed(sim. ) disco$ered that the )llia Cloud had a windshield that was &ind of the wrong height for me.It has to be understood that when the *resident re!erred to the *rime 4inister o! the <lobal )lliance as a 2big shithead. suddenly. It really was a com liment.
iolet. "." . and they made her chee&s &ind of s%ar&ly in a way that. "e too& them out to test(dri$e." Me and . ) was thin&ing about the Swar% and the !odge 7ry%hon. "hen he was done chatting.iolet wal&ed u% and down the rows of u%cars. he d as& me a 0uestion out loud. because if ) got an u%car that was too small. . 7reat.iolet would say. ""hat do you thin&. #e had trouble thin&ing and hearing at the same time. e3ce%t they made her taller and with bigger boobs. . "#ow s she feel." ) d tell him about the handling or the lift." "7reat. li&e ) could be the sceneH and =ongen. ""e ll ta&e my car instead. this big %arty. and all of these %eo%le in bi&inis stuffed into the car with me." and then ) would ha$e s%ent these . who they got %retty much right. )t was a little s%ortier. who made the Swar%." "A seat on ele%hant(bac&. with my father sitting ne3t to me." my father would say." "2eah. and with a beach ball. The Swar% didn t ha$e as much room in the bac&. ) didn t &now which to choose. if it were really ha%%ening." #e d as& me.iolet or ) tal&ed out loud.iolet would tell me. So here was the decision: !odge was bannering me with me dri$ing.red was too cheesy. than&s.esist the feed. li&e. or whether it was autumnal. ) would try to wi%e off with a facecloth. #e d be loo&ing out the window. ""e re ha$ing serious decision flu3 here. +oo& into o3 carts. then +in& and Marty might be li&e. More of us can fit in. too." !ad as&ed. #e d be chatting with someone somewhere else while ) dro$e. ""hat s a howdah. was showing a romantic dri$e through the mountains with -ust me and .iolet. The !odge 7ry%hon had the larger bac& seat for your friends and shit. and wincing whene$er . Than&s. which is what she said. but it was a little lumbering. "#ow about a howdah.
remember. My father wal&ed toward us across the %a$ement." "=o." She thought about this for a minute." "#e was beaten to death at the club. The %lastic flags were fla%%ing in the artificial wind while Mu1a& came out of hea$en." ""e re not going to court. but we re going to ha$e to go to court against that guy. #er eyebrow was arched. ) bought the !odge." "#e died a day after we went into the hos%ital. "=o one s told you. They re buying it." She loo&ed at me strangely. =o one told me what." ) waited. /ut if ) bought the Swar%." "2eah. a (uestion of moral . that s not it. you are." ." "=othing." ) loo&ed it u%. "e saw it. and said. The guy was dead. "=o." She reached out and too& my arm." ""hat are contusions. The %olice. ") guess. it was a little more s%orty." ")t seems li&e that s what you mean. ) m going to turn in e$idence in court and e$erything. it s li&e a reward.iolet as&ed. "So what is it." ""e got out of it. ) mean. ) ga$e in and said. "So you re getting this as a reward for being in the hos%ital. "e should get something for that." "#e didn t need to. "2ou re luc&y. because the !odge 7ry%hon was maybe too family." ) thought for a second. and that might be brag. They beat him o$er the head. Contusions." "=o. ""hat. "Oh." "+oo&. /ro&en s&ull." ) said. #ow. My dad was trying to get us out of it." ""hat." "A little %resent from mommy and daddy. Then she shoo& her head. too." "Are you saying ) m s%oiled. 'inally. "e deser$e it.hundreds of thousands of dollars for nothing. wa$ing.
then s0uinted while he li&e clawed something off the roof of his mouth with his tongue. #e told us. "2ou got to ha$e air. ")t s meg brag. or out to beef country. #e had a bunny %late and was ma&ing something with his burrito. #e had some cra%%y &ids music show blasting in his feed so loud his and ner$es were %robably shot. My dad was real %roud of me. 2eah." he said. and it s too bad." "/ut we need trees5" "'or what." ) couldn t hel% grinning li&e a shithead again." he said. ") mean. "e re thin&ing about going either there.iolet smiled bac& at me. "2eah." ) was li&e. but li&e . #ey5 Sto% %laying with your food. "#e dro$e home behind me. She wants to go for a wal&. "2eah. !o you &now how much real estate costs." My dad nodded. ")t ll ha$e to be beef country. Smell 'actor wasn t listening to anything.. .That night we all had dinner together. "2eah. "Tomorrow." said . My father stared at her for a long time. "#ey." . "Trees ma&e air. She and me are dri$ing out to li&e the country.. ) m %ic&ing her u%. "2eah." ) couldn t sto% smiling. Our own son with his own u%car. shrugging. Then he said. "Are you going to ta&e .iolet %ointed out.iolet.iolet." #e nodded." Mom as&ed. ")t s called 6efferson Par&. Sure." .iolet out in it. my family and . 6efferson Par&.iolet." My mom smiled at me. "There s a forest. that s what ha%%ened. Can you li&e belie$e this shit. they re nice." ") can t belie$e they cut it down5" Mom said to Smell 'actor." said !ad. ne3t to an air factory." "6efferson Par&. That was &noc&ed down to ma&e an air factory. !o you &now how inefficient trees are." "2ou re &idding5" said ." which &ind of worried me because ) &new !ad would thin& it was snotty. "The forest s gone. and was all.
" My father chewed some. Ain t a 0uestion of moral. The thing on the moon. ) remember when ) was li&e you. "e $e all tal&ed about suing." 'or a minute." . you &now.iolet loo&ed either angry or embarrassed. That means family networ&ing and defragging time. maybe the %olice. ". there wasn t.iolet. "=o one told me he was dead. . That is so li&e cor%orate—" My father nodded and smiled at her with this meg condescending smile on his face.emember. and was li&e. ) chatted her about being sorry for what !ad said." "2ou d -ust get worried. we all ate without saying anything. ""e were li&e assaulted." said my dad." "2eah. ) thought !ad was being &ind of a -er& to . you &now. ) said." "=o. there was. Peo%le need a lot of air. ." ")ntercrural or oral5 Ain t a 0uestion of moral5" My mom reached o$er and touched me on the wrist and said. "2ou ha$e an u%car. he s dead. something about how she was more right than he was." ) said. something that would be. There s no trial. ")ntercrural or oral. "e ll %robably sue the nightclub." my mother said." My father said to me." "About what." "They cut down 6efferson Par&." !ad said. !on t lose that. /ut remember. "This is dinner together. but she didn t chat me bac&. 2ou should grow u% to be a. "#ey." "2es. "There wasn t any reason for you to &now. ) wanted to say something. Clean(air wor&er or something.Smell 'actor was head(banging with the feed music and turning his bunny %late around and around with his little %udgy fingers. sure. "=o. )t s about %eo%le. Smell 'actor was banging his head and singing along with the feed. "2ou re safe. li&e. )f there s li&e some meg thing wrong." ")t s my feed. My father told him. "!ude.iolet told me we re not going to court." ") want to get worried." ) said.
#e rattled them against the rim of the -un&tube as he threw them away." said Mom. )re you okay? . Suddenly.iolet. "2ou o&ay." ) said. we re going to sue the nightclub. ""hate$. "but that s no reason —" ")ntercrural or oral5 Ain t a 0uestion of moral5" "Smell 'actor5" "That s not his name.iolet chatted. 7oly shit." ) said." ) said. "Sto% chatting. "#ey." said my father. ) saw . ") m really disa%%ointed."The lunatic is dead. %ointing at me. and her eyes sto%%ed mo$ing and her face got all white.iolet free1e. ) -ust bought you an u%car." "2eah. . "There s nothing to worry about." "Sha&e it. 9on2t say anything. "+oo&. the incinerator. 4y !inger or something. "ith the &eys ) -ust held out in my %alm li&e a gift. ""e should go. because it was a gift." said !ad." .iolet said. They crashed down into the thing. ""hat are you saying. She loo&ed down at the table.omething 1ust won2t work !or an hour or two." said my dad." "9uits. ." said my mother." "9uits." said my mother." ")t s -ust. )n the new u%car. sure. My dad was saying." My father got u% all %issy and too& the dishes into the &itchen." "=ow maybe you better ta&e the girlf home." "!ude. you5 "e don t sing at the table5" "2ou re acting out of line. and you re being a brat." "+et them alone. dismissing her &ind of -er&ily. ")t was frightening for all of us. Oh. It2s ha ened a cou le o! times since the hack. O&ay. ") m -ust as&ing. Ste$e. ) was li&e. I mean my !oot isn2t working." ) said to . my foot s fallen aslee%." "Sure." "!oing what. ")ntercrural or oral5 Ain t a 0uestion of moral5" ""hat would you—" 3Intercrural or oral! )in2t a #uestion o! moral!3 "#ey5" yelled my mother." 5ou2re not being a brat.
Cute. ) as&ed. She was alone in the middle of the rug. )t goes away." ) leaned my head against the window. not mo$ing while right ne3t to her Mom and Smell 'actor crin&led u% the dis%osable table together and threw it away. My mom smiled. who was still %issed. 'inally. Try to move the !oot. near where the table had been. )n my new !odge 7ry%hon. . she mo$ed the foot. She mo$ed it slowly in circles." ")t s a good red. ""hat are you thin&ing about. ") guess. ") m a %each. "e -ust sat together. It was -ust the stress. She -ust sat there." ) said. li&e it was se3. don2t worry about it. ""hat if it really doesn t handle as good. "Are you at least o&ay with the color. She breathed out really dee%." "e left a few minutes later. "e were 0uiet. 1ust try. and we met her father in a mall %ar&ing lot. "Than&s." She said. said. She as&ed me." ) loo&ed behind us." ) smiled." "2ou re sure it s not li&e chea%." She nodded. She was loo&ing at her &nees. 2ou &now.iolet was still in her chair. "2eah. ) held out my hand and %ulled her to her feet. "Are you sure you re o&ay.I2m !ine. with lots of s%otlights swinging through the s&y and rainbows going u% a giant %yramid. 2ou re a %each." "2eah. It2ll go away in a minute." ")t s fall(li&e. ) dro$e her most of the way to her house." "Autumnal. and my dad. it s roomier. and ) was drumming my fingers on the steering column and all. ")t s nice. "e had to wait a few minutes for her dad to get there." . 9o you want some water? Titus." ") m fine. ) sighed. smiling &ind of sic&. but what if it doesn t handle as good as the Swar%. )t was a new mall. She came to my arms li&e we were doing some &ind of flamenco rum%us. #er eyes were closed. She said. holding hands." she said. ) said.
. The %yramid glowed. $ut. 7old me tight. 2:ause 3touching3 Is not 1ust that it2s touching. She &issed me. $ut that we both are touching. 7o-oh-old me tight.#er father was landing. She &e%t turning and wa$ing as she wal&ed away across the %a$ement. ) rose u% into the s&y and turned the feed on to songs about %eo%le allowed to get out of the same bed. :an2t hel us like a dove. ooo 2:ause i! love :an2t hel us !rom above. 7old me tight. )nd i! ho e Is nothing hut a do e Who2s holding on to ro e Then I don2t think I can co e.o hold me tight. The s%otlights wobbled o$er the CloudsJ. $ut. two toasts on the $ery same %late. 7old me tight. She got out of the car. ) said ) would see her the ne3t morning.. and to eat brea&fast together. ) couldn t see him through the glare of his windshield.o let me go. 9arling. Like with our mouths are touching. ooo obser%e the remarkable . . . i! !aith Is more than 1ust a wraith )nd is in real good !aith Then let us both have !aith )nd hold me tight. 9arling. Then let me go. Let me go. With wings so !ull o! love.
but mostly blue. She came to the door. ) found her house. called 'o3 7len and Caleby 'arm *states and "ater($iew Par&. ) went in. and ) was glad to see her. ) dro$e about two hundred miles to get to the general area. #er father loo&ed li&e a cran&. from bac& when they . *$erything had words on it. until ) hit the bottom of the tube.%erdure The ne3t day. There were %a%ers with words on them. which was a little house with her %arents u%car %ar&ed outside it and some &ind of a scul%ture in the yard. which was wood. really early feedscanner. because there were these big occasional CloudsJ. and e$en %osters on the wall had words. #is bac& honestly had a big hunch. The streets were blue and crac&ed. s%i&y ball. and she was all smiling. li&e for when things went on the ground. where it was called Cre$ille #eights. sorting %u11le %ieces. which ) could hear through the door. #er neighborhood was down a long dro%tube. ) mean. )t was a good day for a wal& in the country. who was at home. hunched o$er li&e a hunchbac&. and she was so glad to see me. All the houses were really old and flat. The doorbell %layed a %iece of music. ) followed my feed s directions to her house. She in$ited me in to meet her dad. Cre$ille #eights was all one big area. instead of each yard ha$ing its own bubble with its own sun and seasons. and ) climbed down and went to the door. They must $e had -ust one sun for the whole %lace. #e was sitting in a lawn chair in the li$ing room. The %lace was a mess. and they were streets. ) %ar&ed ne3t to the house with the u%car still le$itated. ) &e%t on going down and down through all these different suburbs. with some hoo%s or loo%s and a floating. The sun was reflecting in darts off all the u%cars that %assed me. and boo&s. which was from a really. Their sun was u% and you could see the s&y was %eeling.
iolet suggested.. #e said in a high(%itched $oice. li&e a teensy(weensy &ind of $oice. and when we shoo& hands ) could see %ictures and words reflecting on his eyeballs. which didn t change when he mo$ed his mouth. as close as twin wings torn off the same butterfly. ) am master of all ) sur$ey." . it was because he couldn t learn the minuet. "2ou can see why ) don t ta&e him out in %ublic much.wore them in a big bac&%ac& on their bac&. ""e re going out into the country for the day ) ll ta&e real good care of her. and then he flew his hand toward some boo&s and landed it. it is nonetheless an occasion of great moment to meet one of her erotic attachments. li&e res%onsible. ") am filled with astonishment at the regularity of your features and the handsome generosity you ha$e shown my daughter. #e made these chir%y noises li&e the windows rolling down. "when he flun&ed out of charm school. and he was ma&ing an engine noise.iolet said. "Ooooooh5 Obser$e the remar&able $erdure5 +ittle friend. which gladdens the heart. )t was real good to meet you." "The sarcasm of my daughter notwithstanding. she has not brought them home. and lifted off with it li&e it was a !odge 7ry%hon." ) was trying to be li&e a man to another man." ) was li&e. #e nodded." ""hy don t we lea$e." "The sur%rising thing is." . "while my last shred of dignity is still at least as big as a thong. #e said." said . #e wore the glasses. li&e when you stir water in the sun.. but has chosen instead to conduct her trysts at remote locales. #e said. The two of you are close. #e flattened his hand. flat &ind of $oice. too. ) %resume. or s%ea&easies." . %erha%s beach huts or o3ygen(rich confabularies.iolet. #e s%o&e with this bu11ing. with s%ecial glasses that had foldout screens on either side of your eyes. #e held out his hand. ")t is a fine %leasure to meet you and ma&e your ac0uaintance." "She meets them at the drama. ")t was . )n the line of things." ) said." #e had a $ery slight smile.
and she said he was always hard to understand." ) said. .iolet had the door o%ened. . what stri&es me as a good idea is lea$ing him in the basement wra%%ed in a cocoon of %in& insulation.iolet said. hard to understand. ""here s your mom. "hile we flew. . "e went out and climbed into the 7ry%hon. the things that most of us . .. "2eah. . ""ow." ) lifted us off and we floated down the street. and decided to li$e together as an e3%eriment in lifestyle. "e %ulled on our seat belts. "#e s something." "#e says the language is dying. but after her mother left was when he started to get com%letely li&e he was.) nodded." ") didn t understand a single thing he said. "She li&es it warm. #e was %acing u% and down through the ." ." "6ust.." "They ne$er married. )t must be &ind of strange." "So far as my social life goes. #e thin&s words are being debased. do.. and yelling all the time and stuff." "Are they di$orced. So he tries to s%ea& entirely in weird words and irony. so no one can sim%lify anything he says." "e turned a corner. a day in the country "e flew for an hour or so out into farm country. she told me the story of her family." ) as&ed. ) as&ed her if that was when her father started to get li&e he was. Then e$erything was fine for a few years. li&e she wanted to change the to%ic. and her mother ran away. and had her." she said." "=o. ) mean." "Meaning what. but when she was about si3 or se$en her %arents started li&e fighting all the time. "Probably South America. it s not." "2our life . ) hit the dro%tube. and we fell u%. She %layed me some sa$ed memories of him lecturing. which was that her mom and dad met when they were in grad school..
I don2t have any like circulation to my !inger. And my mom s li&e. the older %rogramming languages. ")n the nineties. with Love %ronounced Lerv.enus was called The Love *lanet. e$en Aristotelian logical structures." "ho the hell &nows what he meant. She said the only time he actually tal&ed li&e a normal human being was sometimes when he was big tired and they were eating dinner before he went to bed. discrete software ob-ects interfaced more freely. da da da. they started to li$e together. bac& when . and my dad holds u% his hand. bac& before the moulting(0ua&es and the u%risings. already on his finger5 So he ta&es it off and sli%s it on her finger and it constricts and clam%s on and she s li&e. da da da. #e was li&e a different guy. She and he too& turns ma&ing dinner. da da da." #is shoes scra%ed along the tiled floor. is it malignant? and he goes. in a system of cor%orate ser$ice %ro$ision that mirrored the emergent structures of late ca%italism. And she s li&e.teve. they went out. . 7oney. what2s that. but it wasn t as interesting. She as&ed for my family s story. so they re sitting there. but suddenly. and he %ulls a little %ull(tab and the s&in un%eels and under it is an engagement ring for her. 6ust da da da. . they re sitting in this restaurant on .lecture hall and he was saying. my %arents met through some friend. I ho e it2s benign. li&e he was challenging them to a fight.o. and so they had to go to a -eweler really 0uic& and get it . li&e some &ind of cyst. #e loo&ed all his students in the eye. #e leaned toward them and said. and it has this big lum% on one of the fingers.enus. They had -ust got a 8itchnet food synthesi1er. with their em%hasis on neoclassical. he seemed &ind of %owerful. you &now. li&e someone who shouldn t necessarily be wound u% in a cocoon of %in& insulation and hidden in a basement somewhere. Omigod! Omigod! and e$eryone in the restaurant starts cla%%ing.enus. ")n ob-ect( oriented %rogramming. ga$e way to ob-ect( oriented interacti$e structures. they went to .
so ) could see the little frowns made by her elbows. and they thought we were cute. )t was really interesting. e$en though hers was &ind of more interesting than mine. for tourists. ) said it must be hard for her dad to bring her u% and home(school her himself. so we were almost alone while we wal&ed around. )t was a %erfect afternoon. married. too.iolet s story. They had made %art of it into a stea& ma1e. and we could see the blood running around. Then we sat and had some cider doughnuts that we bought at the farm stand. "e were big laughing and we d run into each other and growl and bac& away. "e got some that . )t was a filet mignon farm. u% and down. they were bringing the tissue blood. in my o%inion. and the tissue s%read for miles around the %aths where we were wal&ing. and to tell mine. e$en though he was—from what ) could see. and with the scars to rove it. She was %roud of him. and we s%lit u% in the stea& ma1e and tried to see who could get to the center first. )t was li&e these huge hedges of red all around us. There were other tourists in the stea& ma1e. li&e. "e wal&ed along holding hands. and to understand where they come from. ) li&e to see how things are made. my mom always has this -o&e. Our feeds caught a banner from a farm that in$ited $isitors. They had these tubes. )t was real %eaceful. so you d see all these none3istent beef hallways.iolet wasn t wearing slee$es.ad-usted. and also wor&ed real hard teaching. )t smelled li&e the country. She goes. that he wor&ed real hard at it. and there were these mirrors set u% to confuse you. which is why whene$er they ha$e a fight and ma&e u%. She said it was. and our elbows rubbed. all of it. too. so we swer$ed for there and landed. where you could wal& around and see e$erything grow. 5u . "e were li&e running around corners and %ee&ing and di$ing. There weren t many other %eo%le there that day. )t felt good to hear .—an insane %sycho%ath. . with these beautiful marble %atterns running through them.
so it was meg %retty. She would touch it. but not being able to stand u% because ) had com%lete %rong. 2ou could tell how good the doughnuts were because they left a clear ring on the %a%er. Then she would go away and wouldn t loo& for a wee&. She d run her fingers along it &ind of delicate. not e$en really letting herself touch it com%letely. So it would ta&e li&e three days to get to her. She would wait for days until she couldn t stand it anymore to ta&e it out and try it on. ) was com%letely turned on. 6ust along the edge of it. ) li&ed the cinnamon better.iolet said that it was im%ortant to start with the %lain. Then she d let herself get fed the sense(sim. or maybe the bac& of her hand.were %lain and some cinnamon. she d li&e be. ) don t want it shi%%ed hour rate. hey. Then finally when it was ready to shi%. we went and climbed u% an obser$ation tower o$er the farm. slow rate. she d o%en the bo3 -ust enough to see li&e the hem of the s&irt or whate$er. Then she would -ust go to the %urchase site and show it to herself. o&ay. 'inally. ) wanted to get more doughnuts. and the im%ortance of self(control. oh. she wouldn t let herself order it for a long time. She said she had a theory that e$erything was better if you delayed it. but only if it was on bac& order and wouldn t be shi%%ed immediately. but it was this debate between getting more doughnuts. or what it would smell li&e. 'or e3am%le. which were really good doughnuts. Then she would go bac& finally and order it. -ust &nowing it was hers. you &now. At this %oint. She had this whole thing about self( control. . she said. )t was getting to be sunset. +ater. so that the cinnamon seemed more li&e a change. . -ust gently. when she bought something. she d let herself &now how it would feel. So we sat for a while -ust where we were and ) flattened out the doughnut bag with my hand on the table(to%. and then she d lea$e it in the bo3. ) want it slow. with her fingerti%s.
) said. =ow it s -ust a blan&. )t used to be a hole you fell into and &e%t falling. and it s going faster and faster and better and better. how would you li&e to. ""hy you as&ing. with all these shudders running across the to% of it. this intense %leasure in e$ery one of my senses. and the birds. so that it s li&e e$ery channel is -ust -ammed with e3citement." when you loo&ed at it. crying &ind of sad. which had a %icture of a smiling brain and broadcasted "!ynacom )nc. ) d li&e to die from some &ind of sense o$erload. Then ) said. and which hit on all those miles of muscle and made it fle3 and 0ui$er. ""hat are you as&ing for. until -ust—/AM5 That s it." She said. which it was time to show us now." She said. all of them so full u% that they -ust burst me o%en. and the s&y. which was this brag red. "e could see all these miles of filet mignon from where we were sitting. and some %laces where the genetic coding had gone wrong and there. ) was li&e. ) guess. ) thin& death is shallower now. it all glowed li&e there was a light inside it. and the CloudsJ were all turning %in& in front of us." ) thought for a while." . ") d li&e to ha$e this li&e. "2eah." ) said. and the whole thing."e were sitting side by side. +ater. and birds were flying o$er." "e flew o$er a la&e. ") m going to do that when ) get real old and boring. ") $e -ust been thin&ing about it a lot. in the middle of the beef. lit u% by the dashboard. ")f you could die any way you wanted. maybe seagulls loo&ing for garbage. The bottom had been co$ered with a huge blue ad that was lit u% and magnified by the water." She nodded. the tissue had formed a horn or an eye or a heart blin&ing u% at the sunset. she as&ed me. with our legs swinging on the wall of the tower. 2ou &now. when we were flying bac& in the dar&. with the beef. and the feed li&e going a mile a second.
Then she saw what ) meant. and lay there thin&ing about how %erfect e$erything was. but which ) could tell. because they weren t shielding them. they re %robably not %artly soot. you can only go on being . +i&e. ") ll be the first one. 'or a second." The way she said it. "hen ) got home. Smell 'actor was dreaming while a fun(site with tal&ing giraffes sang him songs and showed him wonderful things in different sha%es. the lights were out. %ull your %lug. about $egetables. but ) didn t thin& that was her %oint. dum%ling. "So when it s time for them to do a %leasure o$erload on me. and ) said." ) wanted to %oint out that that was %robably because her dad made them. ) dro%%ed her off. to %ull your %lug. ) wal&ed through the em%ty house. and we %lanned other things. They were winding down together. ")t ma&es good times e$en better when you &now they re going to end. "This was a good time. +i&e grilled $egetables are better because some of them is %artly soot. she was li&e com%letely confused.She said. Sure ) ll be there. and she laughed li&e ) d gi$en her a %resent. "One of the best. She said. but that if someone good ma&es them. ) dro$e bac& toward home listening to some brag new trium%h screams by /ritish storm n chunder bands." She leaned o$er." She loo&ed at me. and got ready for bed. e3%ensi$e malfunction site that was easy to trace. and &issed me on the chee&. ) could trace their feeds faintly. )t was li&e ) d said something else. it sounded &ind of se3y. Then she whis%ered. sure. are you going to be around to gi$e the order to cut the -uice. e$erything seemed %erfect. really sudden. so ) -ust &e%t flying. ) could feel my family all around me. and did a secret handsha&e. ." and she said. sur%rised. ")f you ll let me." and ) said. but they came on for me. My %arents were u%stairs going in mal. because they chose a really flashy. ) guess. which they wouldn t want me to &now.ight then.
We s eak in visions. and later.. and what we wish !or settles like a kerchie! in our alm. and ni%%les. These—oral culture. and there were new techni0ues to reconfigure %ecs. the culture o! rint—these have always been considered the great e ochs o! man. We have only to stretch out our hand and desire. Our letters are like !locks o! doves. symbols that roduced sounds as i! by magic.. and all shall be well. . released !rom under our hats. abs. and beer was washing through mountain %asses. First. in the universities and under the stee les o! young nations. and as ) fell aslee%. in the deserts and veldts arose oral culture. rint culture. and the stars of the Oh? Wow! Thing! had got lesions. and mine loo&ed li&e a million dollars. and what !ollowed was written culture. ooo . The sun was rising o$er foreign countries. $ut we have entered a new age. so lesions were hi% now. It is now the age o! oneiric culture.com%letely fugue(stressed for so long without winding down. the feed murmured to me again and again: )ll shall be well. We are wi?ards. the culture o! the s oken word. and underwear was chea%. We are a new eo le. and all manner o! things shall be well. and bands ) should &now. and friends of many colors were all drin&ing Co&e. Then in the cities with their tem les and ba?aars came the ictogra hs. Then. We are seers. .. in the em%ty house. the culture o! dreams. real hi%. written culture.. where we could turn on and off the sun and the stars. )nd we are the nation o! dreams. and games with new le$els and stalactites and fields of diamonds.. and the feed s%o&e to me real 0uiet about new trends. in our bubble. and at "eatherbee I Crotch there was a sale banner and nice rugby shirts and there were %ictures of frec&led %re%(school boys and girls in chinos %laying on the beach and dry hum%ing in the eel grass. and the President of the 4nited States was certain of the future. about %ants that should be shorter or longer. ) could feel all of my family aslee% in their own way around me.
but ) was still aslee%. It is the age o! oneiric culture. and clouds of gas drifted through them and the American flags they were burning started to s%ar& big. inside the s&ull. enchanters. ) saw fields and fields of blac&. ""his%ering ma&es a narrow %lace narrower. and it dragged itself with the front ones. and they were throwing stones and bottles. and needles coming out of the sand. grabbing at their nec&s and wa$ing and sitting and sla%%ing the ground. They said. They were in front of factories. whim%ering. s%read for miles. ) saw a sign with a %icture of a head with a little de$il sitting in the brain. They fell down. and ) couldn t figure them out. We are )tlantis. and the gas got dar&er and dar&er. through some%lace with gray dust. we are the nation o! dreams. with these li&e energy bolts coming out of his mouth. it was this disgusting blac& shit. and then the firing started." Then came all these %ictures. li&e a -o&e. )merica. and the %olice were mo$ing forward on horses. but ) didn t li&e the stitching. is ours. ) saw a furry animal trying to stand u% on its legs but the bac& ones were bro&en or not wor&ing. What we wish !or. )nd we. and %eo%le were screaming in some other language. ooo nudging again +ater that night.We are a race o! sorcerers. ) saw walls of concrete fall from the s&y and crush little wood houses. and ) was seeing all o$er the world. and then ) saw them torn and there was blood on them. they were in &ha&is or -eans and T(shirts. They tried to %ut it li&e in my ear. and there were e3%lanations. Someone was %o&ing my head with a broom handle. )t was a riot on a street. ) had nightmares. )ts -aws were . only AMGK. and a man in the crowd wa$ed a gun. ) saw &ha&is that were really chea%. and the %eo%le s%ed u%. We are the wi?ard-isle o! 4u.
where they wear dresses. it s called the butt.. ) smelled the summer in this roc&y %lace. 9on2t. okay. to get all of those weird shadows somehow. Oh. . . ) saw girls sewing things. .. . . Was that you? ) was li&e. ) saw long cables going through the sea. 9on2t you have a shield? They got right wham through the shield. I bet. 4aybe. and the summer smelled li&e electrical burns.? 9id I wake you u ? Okay. he was a &id from another culture. unit. ) saw a &id loo&ing at me.the. 9o you know how aslee I was? I called FeedTech :ustomer )ssistance. and then the end of a gun. They didn2t have a tag. Oh.o%en. unit. and there were all of these shadows all o$er his face. but with nothing ma&ing them. I was so aslee . It was like ten aslee !actor.. could . Oh.. unit.. ) reali1ed that they weren t shadows. it was like . .o can I go like back to slee ? 5ou sure it wasn2t you? Anette—it wasn2t me. It was robably a cor . these ama1ing shadows. and finally. 5ou didn2t see any o! this? The images? What o!? There2s someone else here. Oh. :an you !eel it? Who? . .. ) saw %eo%le %raying o$er missiles.omeone was 1ust nosing around my !eed. they were bruises. ? 7ey—look lively. I can2t believe you com letely 1olted me.. What? What2s the thing? With .hit. it came down and hit him in the face and then all the %ictures were o$er. checking out my s ecs and sending me all these images. They can trace who it was.iolet said. . I was having this weird-ass dreaming.. and ) thought it was a really cool %icture. .omething2s ha ening. 5eah. 7ey.. . I don2t think it was a cor . I2m. 7ey. little girls in big halls. Okay. I2m going to re ort this.is she.
and trying to make li!e as easy and interesting as ossible !or you and your !riend and all o! our e/cellent customers at FeedTech— making your dreams into . They were checking the s ecs and stats.o thanks.iolet.o.iolet 9urn3! Fuck o!!! Okay. 35ou! 5ou! 5ou!3 as i! it was always .ometimes choices are hard to make. @uickly . . I know! 5ou2re almost a woman. . A $oice said. . )re you having trouble making u your mind with so much cool stu!! to choose !rom? :an you lease connect me with a live o erator? . I2m done.ina to talk to you instead. I2ll be sorting and si!ting. )re you tired o! the same old shoulders? Why not try e/tensions? . so I2ve sent this automated intelligence . it doesn2t seem like you want to talk right now.. . I notice that you2ve e/ ressed interest in a lot o! roducts you haven2t bought. )nd what can I do to hel you this morning? 5ou need to !ollow them and see. 35ou. and you want things that are totally big . 1ust a second ago. Looking at your recent urchase history. somehow. This automated intelligence . Fuck o!!. Thanks.ina can hel you throw away the bad—and !ind the good! I can hel you !ind the great roducts that are uni#uely the woman known as 34s. due to increased customer demand.omeone 1ust a roached my !eed. you don2t understand.iolet. I2d love to res ond ersonally to each and every re#uest !or assistance.ina !rom FeedTech :ustomer )ssistance.aturday! Oh. . chatted . this is .3 They2ll shout. see who it was. 7i. There. Thank god.omeone else. . I think I can hel you come u with roducts that really say. They 1ust ta ed in. @uickly! .iolet was li&e. .iolet! That2s where I can hel ! )ll right.o I2m going back to my little hole. .iolet. but un!ortunately I2m unable to.
sure. whenever you— :an I go back to slee ? ) as&ed. where if you tal&ed about the great taste of Coca(Cola to your friends li&e a thousand times. ) turned o$er and curled u%. I2ll talk to you tomorrow.war F>-%% 2s mega(le%ton li!t and electrokinetic gyrostasis. Thanks. ooo the real thing One Saturday. not so $iolent or suc&y. There is a city. Camels. )t was a dee% slee%. <o ahead. and the %ictures %laying in my head now were better. and ) didn t wa&e u% until morning.oint-two seconds—so getting through the gate 1ust won2t he a roblem anymore. :oke.war F>-%%6 5ou can take it with you.hard !actD. . I had these really weird dreams. ooo )t is an u%car tearing along o$er the desert. A mar&et%lace. I2ll look !orward to hel ing you again. ) heard some music. Okay. They were more of women in turtlenec&s %etting my hair. a few days after we saw the riot from the news in our dreams. =ow we know that the 3eye o! the needle3 is 1ust another name !or a gate in =erusalem—and with the . Arabs. )nd thank you. The u%car shoots o$erhead. :oke for about three hours so we d get a year s su%%ly )t was a chance to ri% off the cor%orations. you can !li ninety degrees to the ground and back again in one. there was this %romotion. ) fell aslee%. . you got a free si3(%ac& of it. Thanks a big lot.iolet seemed &ind of without any energy.omeone once said it was easier !or a camel to ass through the eye o! a needle than !or a rich guy to get into heaven. 5eah. She was slow. She was li&e. :oke. :oke. "e said good night. . )t cuts brag swer$es through %asses and o$er gulches. which we all thought was a funny idea. The . so we decided to ta&e them for some meg ride by all getting together and being li&e. and they duc&. .iolet 9urn o! %"E% ) lebaum )venue.
"hen we got there.iot 7ear. but in reality. 7reat s&irt5" 9uendy bowed her legs out. "hat ha%%ened. ")nto the—in here—fuc& yeah. and it was li&e. ) was going." They stood there and loo&ed at us. They were wal&ing normal. "#oly shit5 Are you o&ay. where e$eryone was meeting.omeone is oo iehead! "2uh. "e were li&e waiting. "e all sat there for a minute. too. . loo&ing li&e we were smiling. "hen we went inside. fli%%ing her hair. ")t s . not." said +oga. and 9uendy was -ealous." . "Coca(Cola5" "e waited to start." "e grabbed some seats. but they loo&ed li&e they d been burned u% and hit with stuff. "4nits5" said Marty. because Calista had -ust %ut her arm around +in& and they were smelling each other s faces. ")t s not a s&irt—it s culottes5" "Ohhh. %ointing. "That loo&s great on you5" 9uendy didn t say anything to Calista. ) ran o$er to them. she was going. 7i! 7ey! 7ey! 7i! Anit! What2s doing? "#ey5" said +oga to 9uendy. right." said Marty.iolet. *$eryone was going. because they were wearing all torn(u% clothes. Marty and 9uendy were also wearing . Whoa. "8ent State collection. )t s beat u% to loo& li&e one of the big twentiethcentury riots. then loo&ed at each other li&e. *ach of us loo&ed ." and . 8ay &ay &ay &ay.iolet at her house and we dro$e to Marty s. Omigod! . "O&ay.iot 7ear.) %ic&ed u% . man—into the li$ing room. )t s retro." said Calista. cute5" Calista said." "=o wrong.ight in here.iolet was li&e." ) was li&e. "#ey—are you o&ay. "Sorry. )t s been big since earlier this wee&. Calista and +oga were getting out of Calista s car. "O(fuc&in (&ay5" #e nodded. "Oh.
its great taste. it s really good." "Anyone." *$eryone was loo&ing at her. "ho would hand a &id a Co&e and thin&. She was saying. "Me. and we had this slumber arty and agreed to show each other our boohs. "So . She &ind of sighed. ) don t thin& so. too.iolet said. li&e ." +in& %inched Calista.. ) could feel them chatting each other. )t s li&e a bunch of itsy(bitsy commuters running for a shuttle in my wind%i%e." ") li&e regular Co&e." +in& %inched Calista. . She said. &ind of snea&y." . . #ow could we e$er ha$e started to en-oy it.iolet chatted me. . . 2ou -ust lost us one5 The fuc&in count -ust went down. but ) can t remember. ) %ut my hand on her bac&. trying to thin& of something." said +in&. 'or that matter." +oga said." "4nette5" said Marty. . /ecause it must ha$e hurt. #er first one. " Almost . it s so good that ) would beat u% a guy if he had one and ) really wanted it. ")t s li&e sweet gra$el. "2ou and Co&e.. Co&e." ." said Marty. )f something s an ac0uired taste." ")t s really good on a really hot day. too. "There s nothing li&e an ice( cold Co&e. My father." +oga said. "Co&e. ) sat nearer to her. ") li&e its refreshing fla$or.at e$eryone else s face. ") li&e Co&e because of the energy. how do you start to ac0uire it. ) m so %roud. "Me. "Anyone u% for the great taste of. who ga$e me Co&e the first time. I think we !inally 1ust gave u and watched America s 4nli&eliest Allergy Attac&s. ") lo$e the great feeling of Co&e s carbonation going down my throat. "Co&e." Marty said. "Sometimes ) try to thin& bac& to the first time ) e$er had Co&e. . This is like when I was twelve." said 9uendy "but also the fantastic taste of !iet Co&e. all the %ain." ) said 0uic&ly." She wa$ed her hands in the air and loo&ed at the ceiling. She &ind of sighed. almost as good as Pe%si. #ow do we e$en start. li&e." said +in&. saying that was stu%id.
it s called an ottoman." Marty was li&e. They re so brag.iolet wal&ing behind them. with its refreshing fla$or." . near the S%orts 7iant. They saw she was near them." "2eah.There was a long." "e were all standing u%." "There s a #alt n /uy u% on li&e." "e loo&ed at our feet for a minute. -ust sat there silently. and +in& said. with . about Co&e fights. Then Marty said. Are they comfy. "Are those the Stonewall Clogs.iolet was all clammy. Marty(unit. Marty was li&e announcing. They loo& wholly comfy. "Oh. and they changed the sub-ect. we ll go out and get some of the great be$erage of Co&e. "O&ay. "2eah. flat Co&e. "2eah. and the other guys were going s%astic and throwing %illows at each other. "=o. but .iolet didn t say anything else. +et s go to the store. So ) was yelling all these carbonation things and trying to bring her bac& in. /ut. because ) didn t want %eo%le to notice that . fuc&. and Co&e floats. com%arati$e suc&iness of. "ith all of this tal&ing about the great taste of Co&e. Cherry Co&e." And then we were onto this whole thing. do you actually ha$e any Co&e. #ey. "e were li&e rum and Co&e. That may ha$e cost us a few. "+et s go out and get some." ""hich store." said +in&. and omigod5" said Calista. "Omigod. bottled Co&e. how about the great foaming ca%abilities of Co&e. ) mo$ed my butt around on the. and we went on and on and on. Co&e and hot dogs. +oga and Calista were whis%ering to each other. ) was laughing e3tra loud at e$erything. hot Co&e. "#ey. stadium Co&e." but no one was really rattling that way now. until finally there was another 0uiet %art. silent %art. aren t you getting li&e meg thirsty. The guys &e%t going. Co&e on ta%." said +oga. and Co&e %romotions. Co&e and nachos.
"They re %retty comfy. )t s not li&e ) was saying something mean or stu%id. ""hat s a meti1abism." "2eah." "This to% is the "atts ." +oga %ic&ed u% her foot and %layed with her flowery clog.o one—!uck!—no one thinks you2re stu id. .. but it feels more li&e a man s si1e se$en. ") was -ust as&ing. . ) thought it was good to use stu%id. "+i&e. . ." "Oh. .iolet was %laying 0uic&ly with her own hands.iot to%. when %eo%le start brea&ing windows and beating each other u%. ") don t &now. ) was li&e. &now. 9id you hear that? I can2t stand this anymore. "hich one was the "atts riot. Oh shit." Calista laughed and loo&ed bac&ward. ) could feel them flashing chat. and she was li&e." said Calista. and they ha$e to call in the co%s. ") got a si1e se$en. +oga said. . ") can ne$er &ee% any of the riots straight. . going.o one hates you.. What do you mean? They were 1ust these meg bitches." ") was -ust." said Calista. 5our !riends hate me. " ""hat.. +oga. "Shhh. "2eah. sorry. long words that no one can understand. +i&e. .iolet." . ) was li&e. ) wondered what incited it." . They think I2m stu id. =ust let it blow. A riot. .iolet was chatting me. I don2t mean dumb stu id. )ncited." )n my head." Calista and +oga sto%%ed and loo&ed at her. ." They &e%t on wal&ing. She ll hear you and ha$e an al%oduffin ." Calista said. They hate me. .. O&ay.o wrong. ) -ust thought you might . are we going. Will you take me home? ) was li&e. "Put that in your meti1abism. ." said . 2ou &now. Let it blow." "Oh.iolet.iot.iolet said. a riot." "=o. fleatcher. 5eah. "O&ay. . Maybe . .
)t was a gated community. and ) waited to get out through the neighborhood s security s%hincter. Take me home. What is your roblem? Take me home. ) would be li&e 0uiet angry li&e my father got. and ) flew out into the dro%tube. they didn2t. I want to leave.iolet. Anit. and ) d -ust do e$erything e/actly right.iolet. "2ou coming with. "e ha$en t e$en filled the bathtub with anything from the &itchen yet. e$erything u% to the centigram. smiling li&e she was sha&ing hands with the members of the fric&in PTA. going li&e a million miles an hour so that ." said +in&." ") $e really got to go. They think everything I say is weird and stu id. Calista was showing off her "TO riot "indbrea&er. Fuck! Why? Fuck. Then we started to fight. )t %ulled o%en. Then when ) was going u%. "e too& off. They thought what ) said during the game was stu id.iolet would -er& bac& in her seat.iolet was li&e. It would be like a total rash on their ass i! we went.iolet and me said good(bye.We can2t leave them now. "The %arty s -ust begun. "e got in my u%car." ) said to +in&. They 1ust insulted me. ". fight and flight ) flew down the main tube in Marty s community. going o$er the shantytowns that had been ." said . uh." "4nit. So ) flew really good when ) got u% abo$e the surface. ) had this idea that instead of li&e throwing her around by going too fast. she has to go home." . "=o. . *$eryone was going out to get in their u%cars and go get some stuff at the store. +in& was li&e.
" "*$eryone s beautiful. There were cargo shi%s anchored in the s&y ) flew around them. screw you5" she yelled out loud. li&e a shithead.othing. ""hat do you mean. .aying weird shit. show o!! like that. and it %issed me off. )t was stu%id. those really hard lights. She was li&e. those bright white ones.. . )t s &ind of scary for %eo%le sometimes. "e went for a while. ) didn t say anything. What? . )t s something ) li&e about you.. They were shining through all the gases. What are you angry about? ) breathed. .how o!!? Like what? Like the way you do sometimes." "2ou &now what ) mean. "Oh. and they were heading off to the stri%." . *$eryone s %retty as a %ansy in a blister %ac&. you re so funny. ) was li&e. li&e a gentleman. "e were too angry to s%ea& out loud. Asing weird words. ) could see the others come out of the dro%tube behind me. )t was raining. li&e. Why are we going away? $ecause they were making !un o! me. and you . you &now. li&e . abo$e the tubing and the tan&s and ladders. li&e . maybe you shouldn2t. "hat is it you li&e. %olitely. I don2t use weird words. but you ha$e to . So we started to chat. ." ") li&e . . Okay. 2ou can . . . and beautiful. . . ... )t feels .built u% around the cooling stee%les. you know.. to myself. ) flew %erfect. So ). instead of being us. Our -aws were li&e grrrrrvvvvv.." "2ou li&e it about me. )t sometimes feels li&e you re watching us. )t s." "2ou can be a little .. The whole thing was dumb. said. That s not what you re tal&ing about.. . This is dumb. "ell. "ell.iolet was %ushing me. loud and &ind of angry. What nothing? What nothing what? She was li&e. There was all of the lights from the factory towers below us.
) $e been going to technicians. ) don t thin& you . 5ou think I2m a bitch." "e dro$e on. On . ) went. ) was feeling com%letely s0ueam. Is there something else wrong? She loo&ed at me.. O&ay. They were -ust gray.ky O!!enders. . ) could tell she was trying. ) would ha$e done them slalom. Isn2t there? =othing.ight now. o&ay. The feed(ware is starting to %roduce ma-or errors.""ell. it feels. 'or a long time. There2s something else wrong. "O&ay.. They were li&e the rows of trees u% the sides of +in& s dri$eway. This is dumb. my feed is really. "2es." "Shut u%. ) m not used to the things you re used to. we went through columns of smo&e. They were as gray as." ") don t understand. She said. 2ou told me this already. "Tal& to me." ") can t feel it right now. =o answer." She loo&ed scared. they were ha$ing a li$e thing about drug smugglers getting caught on %arasails. really malfunctioning." ") ha$e. )n the air." ") m -ust telling you how it sometimes ." "7o to a technician." ") m -ust telling you." 'or a long time. nothing. isn2t there? ) as&ed her. ) don t &now. ) could feel how much she wasn t loo&ing at me but was ." ". ) hate these &inds of con$ersations. Then ) was li&e. ) $e gone to a bunch. There was a lot of static from her chat brea&ing through." "Than&s for telling me how it feels." ) was li&e. She wasn t loo&ing at me. what s wrong. She was %ushing it hard. "hat s." ) was li&e biting my li%. uh. She said. don2t you? This is stu id. What is it? She whis%ered. ) dro%%ed my feedwall and let her chat me again. /ut yes. The rain hit them. "My feed is really malfunctioning.. not to cry. )f we had been ha%%ier. She stared out the window. They were coming u% from below." "Than&s.
." "+i&e rusting. Anything. They turned it off before. but the software<wetware interface. )f the feed fails too se$erely. they didn t. They said the limbic system. ) m not going to cry." ""hat does this mean. My heart could -ust. . She was saying. . She was loo&ing right at me. *$erything." "/ut the %roblem is." ") mean. So. not the hardware. She didn t loo& $ery huggable. ) could lose . "They don t &now. The feed is tied in to e$erything. going through the air. She was all slouched. ) could lose my ability to mo$eH ) could lose my ability to thin&. Meg worse.. They listed all this stuff. )t s tied in e$erywhere. They said they didn t. . if you get the feed after you re fully formed." "Susce%tible." ) didn t &now what ) should do. )t s more susce%tible to malfunction." ) loo&ed o$er at her. your memory. it could interfere with basic %rocesses." "e were sitting there." ")t can brea& down more easily. They can t -ust turn it off. the feedware. ) don t &now." "=obody &nows. They shut down most of the functions. )t s %art of the brain. They disconnected us." "2ou told me. Sometimes feed errors are fatal. "This suc&s. the hi%%ocam%us." "=o. )t s getting worse. ") got my feed really late. /ut it didn t. "e were going down the aisle of smo&e . ") got my feed later . . . They thought it would stabili1e. ) mean. than some &ids." She said e$enly. your emotions. ) said. My hands felt really useless. 2our body control. the motor corte3 . ) am not going to cry. ) don t &now. ) went to mo$e my arm that way.loo&ing other %laces. They told me yesterday it s deteriorating.. it doesn t fit as snugly. ) guessed that ) should %ut my arm around her.. The feed was still on..
. )t s this whole meg thing. "e went u% the ste%s and into the family room. wondering what the hell she was tal&ing about. the drug %arasailers were being shot out of the air. Pu%%ets telling you about e$ery goddamn thing. "They re sweaty." . They were being 1erky." "My dad will be there. I was being retentious. ) dro%%ed us. "e weren t really interested in the feed. ) said. . )t was -ust mainly across our foreheads and fingerti%s. Somewhere o$er =ebras&a. Soa% o%eras with all these %eo%le with the big hair going on crying -ags. then. anyway." She nodded. "e both felt meg nauseous. She smiled at me. Let2s go back now. !ro% and then catch us. ) can t go bac&. ) changed the course.. 5ou don2t want to go back. "My fingerti%s. I2m okay." "ith one hand.o. "e were going to watch something on the feed." ""hat do you mean. ) am li&e com%letely—) am—) m this thing. ""e can t -ust go bac&." . "e flew o$er gray %iles and gray %iles and gray %iles toward home. ") want to . so much to do "hen we got to my house. ) don t &now." That sounded o&ay to me. "e flew for a bit." ) was staring at the steering column. suddenly both of us had sweat." ) said. She said. +et s feel $ertigo together. +et s go to your house.iolet said. She too& it. ") want to feel something.through the s&y. ") wish there was some%lace we could go. She chatted me li&e. 5ou weren2t— ") m fine now. ) held out the other hand. "6ust dro%." "+et s go to my house. "e sat there." "O&ay. we went inside and ) shut the garage door behind us. They weren2t being 1erky. )t was daytime shit." ) said. And lots of %u%%ets. She said. "hen we sto%%ed.
and then if it turned out that by "so much she wanted to do." ") m -ust using that as an e3am%le." ""ould you sto%." she said." ) didn t &now what to say. "e were sitting there. There s -ust so much ) want to do." "2ou could $e told me." ) said." "2eah. there s a whole uni$erse out there.. . There s so much. ) said. we . try :yrano!eed. ") want to go out and see the world.. it loo&ed li&e it might mean one thing. . Otherwise. and it would be embarrassing if it didn t mean what ) thought it meant. 2eah." ") been down on a cou%le of $acations into the really dee% %art. "!o you mean ." she really meant riding tri&es across the Sahara. "That could be ta&en to mean that. "e sat there." She had her hands in her la% now. ") m sorry if ) embarrassed you at Marty s. . you &now . side by side. "2ou didn t need to be thin&ing about it all alone. and tried. but on the other hand." After a minute.. available at rates as low as— She was li&e. "2ou &e%t 0uiet about this for a long time. you get the bends. This suc&s.. and if ) said something. stro&ing my face. That would suc&. if you go by yourself. She said."6ust. "2eah." she said.." "2eah. "e were done . it %robably meant something else. ) said. )t s %retty good." ") $e ne$er been underwater for a really long time. . "2ou ha$e to ha$e reser$ations. )t meg suc&s." which was a difficult thing for her to say. There s a lot of stuff to do. "A few wee&s. and it seemed li&e nothing was right. ") %robably don t ha$e much time. -ust so much." She was stro&ing my face and was li&e. ) $e &nown. Tongue-tied? Wowed and gaga? For a !ist!ul o! icku s tailored e/tras ecially !or this nightmarish scenario. There s . ) don t &now." ) sto%%ed." My feed was li&e." She nodded. because when she was stro&ing my face. ." ") could $e.
) held on to her. She said some stuff that made my mother laugh. I2ll ne$er get the ri?e at the !air. 4sually there seem to be shadows from . or night.tal&ing. so it went better than the last time. and when you turn bac& toward them. Mom was chatting me about how she was a great girl. Mom was home with Smell 'actor. Whoa. There were the fa&e logs and the fa&e iron %arts. 5eah. Then there was the sound of the front door banging o%en. To @uark. )w. so we were %ic&ing u% the whole thing. Then he fell down on the rug and %hased out and started watching To @uark. . "e %ulled a%art. Listen u . #e -ust lay there." "hich made absolutely no sense to me. and you turn away from the other %erson. . She was cla%%ing and calling his name. and it feels li&e it s too late in the afternoon. and they turn away from you. e$en if it s morning. "e both were li&e. My father wasn t there. you can both see each other s moles. "e were staring at the wall. ?a y song. She said. li&e when you get sad after se3. 9own @uark—don2t get so down! +emember all your !riends are right behind you. 9own @uark! 5eah. "e held li&e that.enetian blinds all across your legs. "e sat and we loo&ed at the fire%lace. and she held on to me. and were sitting there. !ull o! chuckles and chortles. we2ll sing a song !or you! It2s a ha y. and you lie there. #e -ust &e%t u% with To @uark. #e didn t ha$e it shielded. and you e3%ect it to come bac& down again. All the bric&s were %erfect.iolet ate dinner with us. The walls were all a weird color of white. "2ou toss something u% in the air. Smell 'actor ran into the family room and too& off his snea&ers one at a time and threw them at the wall. )t was a strange moment. Mom was li&e yelling for him to go %ic& u% his room. She blew out all her breath.
on the Christian Cyber&id1 =etwor&: ". and sometimes yellow or green. It2s like. "e watched it mo$e around.. but colorful.. I don2t know what she would look like i! she came back.ow they2re not sure. )nd I think you2ll see a little voice inside you that will tell you the same. ) hate it when a suit is a really ugly color so you loo& com%letely dumb. It still could be years. There weren t any %lans.he was the best dog. "e sat in the sand. how long her hair would be. and I still sing her my03 ooo seashore "e went to the sea. It could ha en anytime. "e didn t ma&e any %lans. we stared u% at the . ooo . >arlier. ) s%ent the rest of the night doing homewor&. but she wasn2t like a su erdog. She %iled sand on my stomach.3 35eah. from $ow-Wow and *lucky. "e had on suits so we wouldn t smell it. )t was dead. 9ad? ) kee thinking she2ll come back.3 ") still ut the suet out by the mailbo/. but I know now that she2s going to stay away. She and ) went to stand beside it. and %ur%le when the sun hit it another way. )t seemed li&e that was the only thing left to do. After she was done %iling sand and ) was done with my angel. they were saying it could take years. ) dro%%ed her off at her house. which was stu%id. I! she came back. They2re saying it will be much !aster. )t was blue when the sun hit it one way. it would make everything right. it2s been so long..othing will make everything right. That dog was a good dog.o. ) finally as&ed her. because there wasn t time after SchoolJ to go under it. It2s not going to be years. . 9o they know how long? . with owers. . ) made an angel with my arms and legs. The suits were orange.3 3$illy6 ."e flew bac& late at night.3 3.
I2m getting a lot o! error messages. only on Fo/.ee? Like. I. ) &ic&ed at the sand. I 1ust don2t know.. . you saw it with my !oot—but it2s ha ening more o!ten. >verything2s dying. She hit me on the bac& of the head. What? What are you being sarcastic about? I2m screwed. 9on2t tell me this.to :rackdown )lley . she said. through the mas&. Some cargo shi%s. ) was li&e. she said. 7e com letely !ucked you over. >verything2s dead. that2s so big negative. ) sat u%. Like once every other day. Oh shit. 37ave you given it to her?3 . ) was li&e. What? I really like you.. She loo&ed good. .. 5eah. One o! my !ingers or a art o! my !ace will 1ust !ree?e u . 5ou know the art that2s the really ironic thing? The guy? The hacker? 5ou almost agree with him. and you almost agree with him. Oh shit. I mean.cience is like. . ) was %issed off with things. . )nd I2m not getting all the images that are su osed to come through on the !eed.s&y. . !or ten or !i!teen minutes. Some transit needles..ometimes !or a !ew hours. That2ll do. they2re always discovering things.. Some u%cars floated o$er in the CloudsJ. They can !i/ that. ooo . 5ou know. That2s certainly the really ironic thing. What do you mean? What2s ositive? 4y body is com letely !alling a art. ) loo&ed at her. ) went. 7ave you looked at the sea? 5ou2ve been reading more o! that de ressing shit. her big sunglasses brown and %ur%le in the light. 5eah. heading off to =orway or 6a%an or something. I don2t think you have to worry. I don2t know. . I don2t know. It2s getting more !re#uent.
and then he . Whoa. Like6 Obadum%. to le o!!.3 . but it2s arti!icial.O It2s so stu id. and on the bac& of her nec& was this total insane macro(lesion that ) ne$er e$en saw before. It2s not even real. I2m sur rised her head doesn2t. Those are beads o! late/. ) as&ed her.3 3I didn2t give it to her. <o breathe in someone else2s !ace.3 37ave you given it to her?3 3Want me to tell you what I think?3 3What do you think I03 ooo limbo and prayer On Monday.3 37ave you given it to her?3 3What do you think I am?3 3Want me to tell you what I think?3 39on2t breathe in my !ace. it2s an incision. <od. 9uendy still hated Calista. It2s not even really wee ing. What do you mean? :alista got it done yesterday. It2s !uckin2 huge. ) guess ) was loo&ing at it &ind of 7oly shit!. because 9uendy sat down ne3t to me and chatted. with his hand behind her s&ull.G 3I2ll breathe in whatever !ace I want to breathe in.35ou can kiss my ass.3 3What do you think l am?3 3.ow that they2re the s it. Im ressed? )in2t even real.3 39on2t breathe in my !ace. +in& came in and was &issing Calista on the forehead. 9uendy made this face.he doesn2t have it. ) went into SchoolJ and ) was sitting in homeroom when ) saw that Calista had her hair u% in this new way. =ow that lesions are 3brag.3 35ou can kiss my ass. It2s huge. I can2t believe how stu id it is. you know. I mean. because 9uendy wanted to be going out with +in& herself.
he2ll go cra?y.tic&led her lesion. +ight now. . 5ou heard it here !irst. )t was &ind of flirty.o much !or my Frosted Flakes. ) found a hitch(u% to . 7ave you met him? That2s why I thought he was youch. I think she2s nice. It2s so dumb. like you said. da da da. Let me 1ust ush the bowl toward the wall. 4a1or system error! It2s so stu id. unit. 7e2s !alling into a desk. this is like—whoa—total error message. 5ou all were so beauti!ul. )re you kidding? Antil he o ens his mouth. first thing in the morning.hell think it2s !unny. I2m going to chat her about this. 9o.iolet is always. What do you mean by that? . . but do you mind i! I say he2s not the #uickest bunny in the centri!uge? ) laughed. I can2t believe he2s 1ailing !or that. he and 4arty are ski ing ro e with some coa/ial cable. Oh! Anit! ) grabbed 9uendy s wrist. . :alista got an arti!icial lesion. Link is tickling her lesion. )t had a &ind of bedroom feel to it. . 5eah. &ind of drowsy. some te/ture there. ) loo&ed at 9uendy. Oh. Whoa! I got to tell . 9id I tell you I thought he was youch the !irst time I saw him? Link? Our Link?!? 7e2s butt-ugly. 5eah. . . I don2t know.he2s always looking !or stu!! about the decline o! civili?ation.ot our Link.othing. =ust that . 5ou sitting down? ) said.o. ) li&ed tal&ing to her li&e this. . . 7e was hideous.iolet.he2s always looking !or like evidence o! the decline o! civili?ation. Is that a roblem? I don2t have a roblem with it. he2s tri ing. . . and everything2s a mess. There was some. )h. 7e2s a great guy.iolet about this. 5eah. Link is .
you know. .3? . and reading ancient 4ayan s ells. ) sat there. >/ce t. . 5es. 7ow about over there at your house? Let me recover. Oh my god. With the coa/ial cable. 4om2s 1ust a mom-sha ed hole in the !ront door.o? I don2t think you want to know. . . Oh. It2s a enis thing.iolet2s lace? 9ad2s o!! at work. .. 4ary Todd Lincoln. .. utting on my stockings. ) said. isn2t it? . 5ou are so . Link. the limbo.o he2s the genetic clone o! )braham Lincoln. 5eah. What2s doing at . It2s some gross boyHlocker-room sausage 1oke. . 7e2s the roduct o! this government e/ eriment. There was another silence. :an I ask you a #uestion about Link? 5eah? The name. There was a long silence. 4ary. isn2t it? . then. Is not. it is.. What? 7is !amily2s like really old and meg rich? . )braham Lincoln. Tell me what he2s doing now. . What? 7e was cloned !rom the bloodstains !ound on Lucy Todd Lincoln2s o era cloak.o. I thought so. 5ou know 4ayan? . it2s not. Mary. )s in 34issing. 5eah. I2m eating cereal. She was li&e. Then .. This is e/tremely grim. 7uh? . Is so. he2s bending !orward instead o! backward. . .o. waiting. . about civili?ation ending and stu!!. . you know ..She was li&e.iolet was li&e.o.o they got this . so it isn2t as hard. . It won2t hel much with your worry. Oh my god.ausage link? Oh. >h . That2s what I said.
Okay. >/actly. 3. 4ount o! Fire. no ca tivity. always ha$e dawns. It2s time !or announcements. don2t they? They think you2re like meg cuddly.3 Then it goes. I make my own announcements. Into the garbage can. 5ou want to come? 9o they hate me? They don2t hate you. anish. Thank goodness !or home-schooling. 3O Jing One-Leg. )nd she kee s 1olting each time she scra es the edge o! the lesion. Will you get me? .3 Jing One-Leg. +ightning Lord. grant us descendants !or as long as the sun moves. 5eah? :alista is combing her hair. 9on2t worry.They2re not in Mayan. very eace!ul. )men. They hate me. and let them not !allI let them not be wounded. O thou . $rag. There2s a arty on Friday night. 5ou were talking with her about me. Womb o! >arth. irit o! the sky. The !eed2s translating them into >nglish.ure. <iver o! <reen. !or as long as there is dawn. Lord =aguar. brother. Let there be no disgrace. I want to live a little. @uendy 1ust told me she thought you were nice. Let our eo le always have days. Written sometime be!ore their em ire !ell. I2ll come. . I won2t. I tell mysel! to come to the o!!ice. What time is it right now? 9o you have to go? 5eah. s irit o! the earth. I guess. Link and 4arty are doing a lasso with the coa/ial cable. Lonely.hrouded <lory. Womb o! 7eaven. I2m reading a s ell to reserve dying cultures. 4ay the eo le be eace!ul. They2re in . so it echoes. <rant us green roadsI grant us many green aths. Ah-huh.
We are trying to do what is—" ooo flat hope On 'riday. ) went and %ic&ed u% .tates has been instrumental in the overthrow o! truly genocidal dictatorshi s.5eah.. ) ho%ed that the %arty would cheer her u%.tudy o! *sychoeconomyI $ridgeton *layland and :om ulsion :enter—and after a while.iolet at her house for the %arty. waiting !or me to show u . "hile we flew to the %arty. :onsider6 The Anited . I wait and I wait in the o!!ice. sometimes whole herds. We give harbor to many who seek our shores. now. you know. There were new . we gotta—" ooo " . and the way animals li$ed in ducts. Then I ace in circles. We are trying to do what is right. our Lady o2 Love. I wait and I wait.atalie !rom . and my feed told me their names as ) loo&ed at them—:harming Lawn Observation TowerI +iverdale >/haust 7oodI Institute !or the .. and with each one. 2. the antennas and chutes and $ents. ) could feel li&e ) was getting closer to . 34y guy se?. and ) li&ed seeing all the stuff ) %assed.ew =ersey messages us.e/ Ti s !or <irls. she said. which was li&e a %resent which ) didn t &now what was inside of. Peo%le would hear the stam%eding through their walls. which is why I ask it. ) &new them by sight. while she was resisting it or whate$. We su ort !ailing economies. this month2s EK 7ot . We dole out billions o! dollars each year in !oreign aid. 7ey! 5ou wanna leave your boy! with his head s inning? Then check out what Lucia. She told me about the scales on butterflies.iolet. has to say about these chicks and their sich in the sack! . ooo . ) was used to the route.o nookie at arties!2 $ut I !eel that in order to do our duty to the arty.. but me never comes. she told me about weird things she d read on the feed.
. " she said. )t was all going %retty good until 9uendy arri$ed. she said. ) ha$e a %retty good auditory(ner$e hoo&u% with my feed. and we did it. And second. ..iolet had her face in her hands. ") got it yesterday.. "hen she got there. . The cuts were li&e eyes. . you walk. so we tuned in. because otherwise you -ust hear the shuffling while %eo%le are mo$ing around with no music on the floor. "e were all -ust loo&ing at her. "So ada%table you wonder what s natural. smiling li&e he was an idiot. it was doing this song. They were all o$er her." she said. they2re gonna walk. So we got some drin&s and dran& them. and said hi to %eo%le. wwwwwwww . "you re co$ered with cuts.. %eo%le were drin&ing already and it loo&ed %retty fun. "'irst of all. it s called birching. She raised her arms. Whoa. and they re lenticels. so the sound is real s%in&. ing L in dro ingM—because her whole s&in was cut u% with these artificial lesions. and so we danced to it. Anit. the ten toes. Anit. They got bigger and redder when she mo$ed. Someone was being a !6 and broadcasting trac&s on the feed. I walk with the !eet. . "!o you li&e them." said Marty. and it s good to mo$e to. and then the feed was going. wwwwwwwwww >wind? ." "hen we got there. that one. I got some !eet. with the draggy elbows." she said." "They re not cuts. There were slugs so big a toddler could ride them sidesaddle. for your info. and those !eet. Walk." "2ou re. Peo%le were starting to dance again. laughing. )t s a &ind of low(hi%s dance. it s good for that. unit.&inds of fungus." Marty and +in& were chatting me and each other. that were ma&ing -ungles where the cables ran. "The natural world is so ada%table. !eet. it s the big s%it. it was li&e—silence .
) loo&ed at her. it2s sure not too attractive. It2s the end o! the civili?ation. ) had an idea. "hen we wal&ed. our footste%s. ) too& her u% %ast the bedrooms. and willed the light. ) went. We used to come u here. and ) was li&e.iolet was standing ne3t to me. I walk these itty-bitty ste s. to the attic. :an you even think how much that cost? I don2t know. ) walk away. This was this meg good lace. I can2t believe she did it. The boards felt old. It2s all !or Link. She came u% behind me. li&e.iolet. and the feed was going. =ust itty-bitty ste s. ) too& her hands. "e went away from all the %eo%le. but there wasn t any feedlin& to the light. ) said. >ach one o! those incisions has to be ca ed o!! in lastic. and the light went on. and this ladder folded out. There was all &inds of old shit u% there. .o. ) said. Let me show you something. )way !rom you. #er face was full of lines. li&e. It was robably retty ricey. . . 9uendy went o$er to the table with the drin&s and %oured herself some $od&a and Tang. ) went u%. . We2re going down. The things burning and eo le living in cellars.iolet. The light was wor&ed by a string. It2s the end. they hide with you. and then everyone looks !or you. Lenticels. . the %ull. She wasn t -o&ing. I guess she wanted to outdo :alista. they were clun&y. ) %ulled down the attic. I 1ust ho e my kids don2t live to see the last days. Some other girls were o$er tal&ing to her. The bedroom doors were closed. 5ou got to hide. "e layed sardines in the closet. The only thing worse than the thought it may all come tumbling down is the thought that we may go on like this !orever. u% the stairs. 2ou %ulled it sometimes. She didn t say or chat anything. and when they !ind you.) could tell Calista and +oga were chatting u% a storm. 5eah. Peo%le were dancing.
and we2d be laughing our asses o!!. That2s the cree y thing. 5ou reali?e that the moment. walking on the car eting. but ) nodded.o you2re more alone.because only Link2s best !riends. holding their breath. 5ou2Ne been that way !or a while. you know. and the soa is still wet on the soa dish. !ollowing your. the e/act moment. 5ou2re walking. icking u stu!! and looking at it. She sat down on an old thing. . and eo le who weren2t his good !riends. we were the only ones that knew about it. when I was hiding here. and everything2s em ty. ) didn t &now what she meant. and all the towels are !olded u%. ) was li&e. It can 1ust go on and on !or hours. and it2s a big game. and we could hear them. and you ass eo le in the halls. The weirdest thing is that you know that you2re more alone than anyone. and then you don2t see them again. and no one else has been wal&ing !or a while. ) &e%t going. be!ore I was good !riends with Link. I ke t thinking o! when I was littler. I used to. 5ou know. like your every move through the house. when you became alone is already over. They2re all 1ust there. until Link gets tired o! it. and eo le kee giggling. they2d be wal&ing around downstairs. alone. there2s this weird moment where you reali?e that you2re alone. but the weirdest thing is that it2s not em ty at all. We would be u here. Then you2re wal&ing around alone. That2s e/actly it. but that more eo le are thinking about you than ever be!ore. . but thought about. )nd you2re like assing them all and looking in all the laundry %laces and shit. you walking around. all together. like in cartoons where eo le go in one door and come out another one. but more watched. . listening to your !ootste s and the doors o ening and closing. she chatted. younger. I ke t thinking o! the time when you2re all racing around. and says the game is over.o you2re walking around this em ty house.
#o%e was loo&ing off to the side. There are some old ictures. and %eo%le cheering. ones from the %ast: Abram. The doors were o%en now. ) watched her.iolet s bac& was &ind of sagging as she wal&ed down the stairs in front . *aintings. and we got to the landing. Old(time faces. stretched out on the floor. They had old(time names. they were all %laying s%in(the(bottle li&e little &ids. "e loo&ed at them. #o%e. their legs and arms all twitching and their heads roc&ing bac& and forth. 6ubilee was frowning. #o%e was this fat old woman with a little dog. and on some others. . *1e&ial was co$ered with %oc&(mar&s. =oah. ) wal&ed o$er to one wall. and heard some &ind of smac&ing down below. +in& s dead relati$es from long ago. Someone s arm was coming out from under a bed. li&e she didn t want to be touched. and someone was %u&ing in a roll(to% des& and trying to roll the to% down to hide it. holding %ieces of %a%er or big boo&s. . *1e&ial. we %assed the bedrooms again. %ainted without smiles or anything. The %arty had %ic&ed u%. dressed in blac&. Whoa. lifting things u%. ) said. our duty to the party On the way down. as if someone she missed was calling her name. swinging their legs. She stood u% and brushed off the butt of her s&irt. %eo%le were in mal. and on some beds. "hen we went downstairs.She rubbed her eyes with her %alms. there were %eo%le ma&ing out. and ) %ut my arm around her.iolet wal&ed closer to me. She loo&ed around. 6ubilee. She came to my side. What is this 1unk? Old shit. mo$ing li&e they were conducting a sym%hony orchestra. ) lifted them away from the inside of the roof. Shi%s at sea. but her shoulders weren t soft. )ll this old shit.
7ey. ) was feeling &ind of strange. where you could see all the red fibers through the s%lits in the s&in. chatted Marty to the guys. They were shifting as she and this meathead named Ches Something &issed for a turn. but being afraid to %ush too hard. and ) was li&e. and they &e%t on &issing. *$eryone was com%letely silent. but she %ut her %alm against his chee& and turned his head so she was &issing him on the mouth. which was good. but thrown all ways and still tra$eling. *$eryone was really uncomfortable. +in& said. but ) thin& ) did &ind of good. because ) thought she might get really %issed by the stu%idity of the whole game. . "#ey.of me. while e$eryone did this big whoo%. ") $e only s%un once. "but it s &ind of se3y." ")t s for &ids. . li&e as if hy%odermics were in the air again. it s so uncomfortable sitting on the floor with my lesion. ) was sitting cross(legged." 9uendy said. and Calista staring at them both with this big(hair hatred in her eyes. This is so wholly stu%id. She was really glad. li&e Omigod." She shifted on the floor." Calista was li&e. with her cuts e$erywhere. ) can t really e3%lain it. shit. Marty s eyes were li&e meg ri$eted on her ass. ta&e yoursel$es a seat and %lay )t s fun. and got +in&. "Omigod. and then %ut her arms around him. bad news. with +in& &ind of trying to %ull bac&. "e weren t ne3t. ) didn t need to chat her to tell she didn t want to %lay. telling the bottle with my eyes to &ee% on going while it s%un. Oh. 9uendy s%un. li&e. and he started to &iss her on the chee&. but ) really didn t want her to get s%un to. She went o$er to him. and ) %ut my fist in my chee& and -ust sat there. =ust shut u and lay. don2t you think @uendy looks good? +in& was li&e. and also on her shoulder blades. e3ce%t Marty. really -ust friendly." said +oga.iolet and ) sat down. +in& li&e tri%%ed and stumbled bac&ward and sat bac& down ne3t to Calista.
+oga s &inds were in Ches s hair. "because seeing what s inside of you." +oga and the Ches guy started &issing. 5eah." said Calista. ) thin& they re a lot of fun. smearing through the hair. saying. ""e were ." "That s good. "2ou li&e the lesions. "About your lesions. )t s a good look. "Can we -ust %lay. as if she didn t mean it but meant the o%%osite." "Oh. hard. li&e." "Calista. Calista was still tal&ing to 9uendy. you &now what s fun about your lesions. Calista said. in this really mean $oice." "9uendy. Marty chatted. huh? Which is se/y. #e wal&ed o$er to her and said. is -ust so se3y. and kind o! !un." said 9uendy." There was a 0uiet %art." . ." said 9uendy. "O&ay— -ust—let s—o&ay—let s— fuc&in —fuc&in — -ust let s %lay. )t was li&e she was going to start something mean. +in& s%un again. all your guts." said Marty." said Calista. 7uh? 5ou can see her like muscles and tendons and ligaments and stu!! through the lesions.) was li&e." ""ell. her fingers wet with gel. "2ou must be chatting about how 9uendy loo&s really se3y. "we re -ust ha$ing fun. 9uendy." Calista said. said Marty. "Time to %lay. trying to sto% her." said Calista. "And don t let anyone tell you you loo& stu%id. "That s right. They were %laying u% their &iss. "hat s fun is watching a girl who s so des%erate for someone s boyfriend that she does something to herself which is really stu%id. I think it looks stu%id." "=othing s stu%id." +in& said. which makes you kind o! think about what2s inside. ) was disgusted. . -ust saying that the lesions loo& good. maybe to li&e ta&e attention away from the meanness Calista was ha$ing. and while he &issed this other girl. really hardly at all. The guy Ches Something s%un and got +oga. "2eah. Then Marty said." said Marty.
" #e reached out his hand toward her.iolet5 She s not a—she s not a goddamn monster. This is ob$ious5 Ob$ious5 "e re %laying games. "#ey. #e held out his hand toward her wrist.he2s a monster! ) monster! :overed with cuts! . 3. "Sto% it all. and it turned." said . #e too& her wrist in his hand. and they weren t chatting with me. "e re losing it. ) mean.iolet was screaming. ) said.iolet screeched.#e s%un the bottle. "This isn t much fun. And you re tal&ing—you re starting to tal& in a !ucking sestina! Okay? ) sestina! Okay? . 3Look at us! 5ou don2t have the !eed! 5ou are !eed! 5ou2re !eed! 5ou2re being eaten! 5ou2re raised !or !ood! Look at what you2ve made yourselves!3 She %ointed at 9uendy. standing u%.iolet—!on t. and suddenly ) could hear 9uendy crying. win&ing. and then ) saw the bottle land on . and went." said Marty." he said. "+et s ma&e this good. "Sto% it. and we re ma&ing out." said Marty. She was sha&ing. . #e %ut his hand on the to% of her head. Peo%le were staring and chatting. before cutting me off. "Can ) tell you what ) see. it was bobbing.he2s a creature!3 And now ) was going." ""hat s wrong. . Marty got u% and straightened his %ants and wal&ed o$er. se3y. but her hand wasn t wor&ing. . She flinched bac&ward. e3ce%t +in&. who ga$e me a single. and our s&in is falling off.iolet. "hat s doing with this? Fi/ it. ". .to it! Fuck you! We2ve got to all sto it!3 She was screaming. Can ) tell you.iolet was com%letely white. #er head. She s —" but . with the nec& flashing. there. She suddenly was yelling. "e are ho$ering in the air while %eo%le are star$ing.iolet. 35ou tool Fuck you too!3—and she tried to sla% me —) grabbed her by the arm—and she tried to scratch at my face." ""e ll show you fun.
and she was breathing again. and she was bro&en.The waiting room was white. but things were too screwed u%. "'uc& you5" And . and her eyes were all white and rolling around. but her eyes were closed. Part ) slumberland *2+.She had bro&en somehow. There were noises. and something ha%%ened. "There will be some delays. and s0uee1ing. She was com%letely bro&en. There was a long line of s%it coming out of her mouth." said one of the nurses. The !ucking arty is over. and suddenly ) reali1ed. And the feed whis%ered to me about sales. and ) %ut her there. and she was sha&ing. The arty is over. :all a !ucking ambulance. and s0uee1ing. ) was crying and saying to call an ambulance. and women came.iolet was breathing now in hea$y. She %ressed on her chee&. ) went with them. and ) tried to do it on my feed. . she was sagging and ) grabbed her to hel% her. and 9uendy was still yelling. oh fuc&. li&e she had a toothache. She was bro&en. and ) could feel the signals going out. and made all these suggestions about medical lawyers and mal%ractice. There were these orbs mo$ing bac& and forth filled with fluids. #er %in&ie was stic&ing out. and %eo%le were li&e. and she couldn t tal& anymore— —she was cho&ing— ) grabbed her and tried to wra% my arms around her. and s0uee1ing. and ) was leaning ne3t to her aslee% body. and ) was li&e. #er legs were %um%ing u% and down. ) don t &now what the others did. She touched her face with her hand. They went u% and down the halls. is she in mal? I! she2s in mal. but she d gone lim%. "'uc& you5" at her body. Fuck no. big gas%s. and. and ) was sitting beside her in an ambulance. we2ll get in trouble. and ) lowered her to the ground. no way.
Peo%le. . . . the world going by. ) saw him running %ast me. The wheels rolled by.iolet s father got there half an hour after ) did. The feed was handing me things." said a woman on a chair ne3t to me. "*3%ect a delay. and ) %aced around." ""here. The men in the wheels stared out. but the men were not mo$ing at all." "+et me tell you a little story. "#e s here. "/reathe dee%." "There was this one time./+$." ) said. served with s routs on the side. .. in circles." ")n the room with her. because ) didn t want to get in the way or be a %ain in the butt." said the woman on the chair." ""hat. The %eo%le in smoc&s were whistling." "The doctor will tal& to you.She said. . ) didn t wa$e or anything." ) as&ed. their eyes loo&ing at e$erything flashing by. Men loc&ed into giant wheels with their arms and legs s%read out were being wheeled %ast down the hall.. ""hat do you mean. they need . What ha ens when two normal guys and two normal girls meet in their !avorite health-!ood restaurant? Lots o! )bnormal laughs. "She s %retty functional. following the %attern of the tiles on the floor.." "/ut when s he li&e coming out." She sighed. ) did them slalom. ""hen is the doctor coming. the oor sales o! the Ford La uta in the Latin )merican market can2t be e/ lained by . sometimes. is what! ) %aced there. "#e s distressed. Peo%le in smoc&s hit them on the rim to &ee% them rolling." ) %aced on the floor." the nurse told me. 6ust loo&ing at the world hel%less. She fi3ed her hair. ) listened to it. "2ou might want to rest your eyes. which was this hair held together with two magic wands. their mouths o%en." said the nurse. cra?iest rime-time comedy yet. ) went around all the chairs. .
. ) sto%%ed. 2es. "Can you sto%. "2es. ) stood still. #e stared at me. "e waited. The orbs went %ast. ) %ut my hands down. Feed >!!iciency6 &O.P(." he said." ) went there. nodding.iolet 9urn. -ust. #e was smoothing out the &nees of his tribe(suit. "7o there." he said. she s o&ay. #e said. one last one. "Oh. the number you detect would be about ninety(eight %ercent. ") hate rhythms. #e said. There was nothing ) wanted to watch on the feed. ) reali1ed that they were swinging really wide." said her father to me. )t made me feel tired. They too& him into the room. She didn t mean those things." #e sent me an address. #e sat down. ) couldn t hel% a small cla%.PQ. ) swung my arms at my sides and then cla%%ed. ) stared at him. " #e didn t seem much li&e before. ) said hello. there. #e turned his head." #e was -ust li&e. The doctor s coming out. ) went o$er. #ello. . Peo%le were loo&ing u% at me. O&ay. That was o&ay with me. ) reali1ed ) d li&e been cla%%ing again." #is eyes were orange with the light from his feed glasses. "2es." he said. ""hat s ha%%ening. #e was wal&ing real slow." ) as&ed. in front of him. #e came out.iolet was not a bitch.i. ) cla%%ed my hands together softly a bunch of times. . ) didn t &now whether to tal& to him. "e were li&e. ) was li&e. Someone was whistling two notes in the hallway.to be alone. The efficiency went u% to CB. ")s she o&ay. ) waited." "They re fi3ing the malfunction. . "2ou can monitor her feed function. )t was ma&ing her not herself. )t was because of the damage. yes. Two nurses were tal&ing about the wee&end. )t said . 'or the time being. Than& you for . #e went %ast me and didn t see who ) was. ) told myself that again and again. and introduced myself again. )t was some &ind of medical site. ")f things neural were going swimmingly with .
the ones who sat on the floor in the basement and tal&ed about the earth. "=ow you. ") m sorry. ) watched her." She held on to her &neeca%." she said. ." She loo&ed u% at me. I can2t even say everything I need to say. Some of them went to her head. . Why are you standing so !ar away? ) was li&e." ) followed her in.iolet to be uninsane again. She didn t answer. "2ou don t ha$e to say." "'ine. she loo&ed away from me. She rubbed her eye. 5ou2re covered with cables." she said. 9on2t be—don2t—it2s all going to be good. She mo$ed it bac& and forth. ") said ) m sorry. screaming li&e one of those girls in blac& at school.iolet was sitting in a floating chair with lots of cables." said a nurse. -ust a %erson who would touch my face. +i&e when we were getting to &now each other." She wanted him. "'or a little while." ) as&ed. She said. "#ow long. #e turned around and went in. )t was the fact she said it. "#ow did they say you are. "Please come in. After a while. the ones who got ri$ets through their eyes -ust to ma&e %eo%le thin& they were hard. ") m -ust . She was dressed in -ust a gown again. ) didn t &now how close she was to the %erson who had gone com%letely fugue at the %arty. She was li&e. es%ecially to 9uendy calling her a monster." "=ot long./ut it didn t matter if she was right or wrong about what she said." ) didn t want to %iss her off. ) said. ) wanted . "hen ) came in. "She s awa&e. =ot me. She was almost crying. and ) said. so ) figured what she wanted me to say." She shrugged. he came out and sat down again. . "e stood that way for a little while. The nurse said. bac& on the moon. . ) -ust stood there. ) as&ed. ) m worrying about you.
+ater. )t was li&e. said they belonged to a %im%. and ) got in my u%car and flew home behind my mom. "e had bean cubes and fish stic&s for dinner. She bent down to fi3 it. Ti -ti -a-ti ti . ) d forgot. &ind of %athetic. Oh. . +in& was in the bac&. but ) watched the feed instead.o. #e wa$ed. and we went and got my u%car. and yelled o$er to me. sure. and he chatted me that that was good.ure. and ) went out. +eally? . . ) said my u%car was bac& at +in& s.She was li&e. ) went out into the hall. by his %ool. "as that o&ay. 5eah. The others weren t there at +in& s house anymore. Ti ta . ) couldn t get to slee%. The light outside the blinds was -ust gray. the star of the show. !urgin. ) was li&e. Could she chat me. my mom came and %ic&ed me u%. She said she d see me later. ) said ) ho%ed she was o&ay." ) chatted him yes. "e were -ust li&e standing there for a minute. It2s !unny that you can move your kneeca all around with your !ingers. She d chat me later. One of the orbs came in and started to circle around her. ) said ) had to go. 5eah. She said ) should go and get it. ) couldn t see what she loo&ed li&e. but you couldn2t move it with your muscles i! you tried. The orb was in front of her face. 5eah. but ) was standing. . Oh. She went. #is assistant had a run in her stoc&ings. 'inally ) wa$ed. ) %atted myself on my hi%s. ) nodded. ) had a cou%le of hel%ings. "She o&ay. On the chat. Some co%s found a bunch of rods in a warehouse and were trying to figure out what they were. She said she was %retty o&ay. ) loo&ed u% at her. "ell.ure. My %arents had turned off the sun hours before. +ater ) went to bed. she was sitting. She was mo$ing her &neeca% again. There was still time to do my homewor&.
o matter what. When I was si/. "e didn t o%en our mouths. Oh.iolet said." and ) said. ) didn t understand." and ) said. At least. ) can2t remember anything !rom the year be!ore ) got the !eed. . She went. 9on2t worry." and she said. 4aybe I am like that. She chatted. There2s nothing there. For a whole year. 2ou com%letely &now. ) went. She was %ressing her %alms into her thighs as hard as she could. "#ow many do you need before you re done. ) argued. chatting. 5ou can2t even know. )ll gone. ) ll remember you. "e could hear him through the wall. 9uring the sei?ure. ) don t &now why. She loo&ed sic&.o talking. silent. . and there were beads of water going along some string. She rubbed her hands together.othing. ) was at her house. "e didn t tal&. "That s why ) want to hear it from your mouth. 5eah./+1The ne3t day. ) guess ) must ha$e fell slee%. "e -ust sat there. )t was all weird. I want to dance. What? I lost a year. She watched herself real careful li&e it was a crafts %ro-ect. . "2ou &now. 5ou know? That2s this dumbass thing. maybe with . She reached out and rubbed my hand.'inally. Tell @uendy I2m sorry. and . "#ow many do you need. She went. The in!ormation is 1ust gone. but that2s what I see mysel! doing. ) -ust loo&ed at her face. #er father was wal&ing down the stairs near us. ) lost a year o! my memories. there2s so much I need to do.o smells. because it2s so clichQ. <od. 5ou2re not like that. I want to go out right now and start." and she said. . ) dreamed. )t s not you. Oh my god. . ) chatted. We2re still together. There were lines on it ) hadn t seen before. Oh. li&e her mouth would taste li&e the hos%ital. She saw me loo&ing at her. "These are yours. She was li&e. I2m sorry. I2ll hold on to you. I want to dance with like a whole lacrosse team. first.o ictures. It2s the !eed thing. Okay." . *lease. we2ll still be together. Titus. 4aybe that2s what2s wrong. first.
5ou know? Oh. so ) -ust loo&ed li&e. #er father was wor&ing on something in the basement.ow we go 1um in the !ountain! We come out o! the tunnel o! love! We run through the merry-goround. the Tilt-a-Whirl? 5ou know. without the !eed? It2s all !rom the !eed credits. What? >verything I think o! when I think o! really living. !unny. 4y god. ) wasn t really wanting to thin& about us crushed together right then. I want to see things gra?ing through !ield glasses.iolet. a big bunch o! us on the teacu s. or li&e. I want to have a s lashing !ight. Oh.3 Oh. )t sounded li&e he had some %ower tools. 3)lso starring Lurna <inty as . with you and me crushed together !rom the centri!ugal !orce. The !lume. I wi e it o!! with my elbow.them holding me u on a Formica tableto . ) want to eat huge meals with wine. or about us in a big grou%. I want to get the hell out o! here and visit some 4ayan tem les. What about it? . a beach where you can go in the water. Maybe he was drilling. 4y idea o! real li!e. She went. 5ou know ? I want to run down to the beach. I want to go some lace now. I mean. 5eah. ha y day! . living to the !ull—all my ideas are 1ust the o ening credits o! sitcoms. you and I share a snow cone at the ark. where she might go insane again. I want you to take my icture ne/t to the sacri!icial stone. They2re all sitcom o eners. the teacu s. I want to go to the ?oo with you. The teacu s! And she was still saying. ) -ust sat there. cutting or boring. it2s what ha ens when they2re rolling the credits. )ll the animals 1ust sit there and lay with their toes. 5ou2re checking the ark with a metal detector! I2m checking the ark with a <eiger counter! We wave to the camera! >/ce t the 4ayan ruin. What am I. Boos suck. it2s dribbling down your chin.ee what I mean? 4y idea o! li!e. . ) said. I want to do the things that show you2re alive. I can2t even tell you. I want to go on rides.
iolet s dad couldn t %ay for all the tests and shit himself.. ) sat there while they s%o&e it together. +eally good. What did it !eel like? )t the arty? She waited. . They as&ed 'eedTech to ta&e on %ayments for research and re%airs. ""e will %resent this %etition to se$eral cor%orate s%onsors. It !elt good. 1ust to scream !inally." said . ) as&ed her. ) was so li$ing eternally in . After that. =one of it was co$ered by medical. #er feed s warranty had e3%ired years ago. before ) left. She still had the lesions all o$er her." ")f you want us as customers. we didn t say much.iolet. In sitcoms. . $ut in 7ell. . Then.o. At first. "e sat side by side." said . ) watched . ) could see a lesion on her nec& o%en and close li&e a fish mouth singing a country song. "e will find someone who will su%%ort this re%air. ") was li&e . ""e need your financial assistance. because it was about the life of a girl." 9uendy nodded. they were made of concrete. :halk one u !or the home team. "e were sitting on big cubes.There aren2t. and about how she had gone com%letely fugue(state. and how sometimes she couldn t mo$e %arts of her. ")f you do not ac0uiesce. ) li&e %ointed out. "e sat. That2s right. ) was li&e. she admitted. there aren2t the sacri!icial stones.. They said that 'eedTech had to. They sent the message. 9uendy said. others will. "She s really sorry. I !elt like I was singing a hit single.0+*9uendy and ) tal&ed the ne3t day. )t was all about how she had lost her memory. she said./+1+ater. . They sent a message to 'eedTech e3%laining what ha%%ened. because the feed wasn t medical. "hen she mo$ed her head." said her father." "Please. She fi3ed her hair with her hand. "e will ta&e our business elsewhere.iolet and her father %etition 'eedTech for free re%airs.iolets dad. ) can t go out in %ublic anymore.
" "The limbic system. da da da." ") &now." ") don t &now. "She o&ay." ) said." "There s a diagram." "O&ay." She sent me the site. The feed isn t wor&ing well with her brain anymore. ) -ust nodded. ) -ust sat there. don2t listen to her. 9a da da. "!on t you want to &now. That was -ust what ) li&e needed to hear then. "e went bac& and sat around at my house. She was sitting with me that night. )t wasn t her." She loo&ed at me.a tool shed. "O&ay." "Omigod." She loo&ed o$er at me. ") guess not. She s the one who this is ha%%ening to. /ut +oga was li&e really. a little angry ")t ll hel% you understand what s ha%%ening to her. ." ) sat there." she said. "She s scared. ) rubbed the corner of the concrete with my thumb. she was com letely in mal. She was li&e." ) %ulled u% my leg and untied and tied my shoe. ""hat does that mean." "2ou &now." ") -ust loo&ed it u%. li&e the memory and the %art that ma&es you mo$e and the %art for your emotions. "Maybe you should chec& it out." "She feels real bad. really good. They say that it s ." said 9uendy." ") don t &now. "this isn t re: the world ser$ing you some meg three(course dum% ban0uet. The whole brain. /ut ) ho%e you aren t sul&ing weirdly. 9uendy as&ed. ) don t &now what you re saying to her. 9uendy brushed her hair bac& out of her face. "Ma&ing her feel low(grade. )t isn t re: the world ser$ing me some dum% ban0uet. . she2s a com lete !uguing bitch. The whole brain is tied in to the feed." "She s—but she s not—" ") &now." ) didn t say anything. She added." ) shoo& my head." .
I mean. I like to icture you aslee . with the mouths o! the heads calling your name. 4y mom and dad both went through college without the !eed.he decided not to have the !eed installed. )nyway. I guess they really wanted to have me !reestyle. like :atholic con!irmation. she said. ." Through the holes in her hand. I2m lying here. They were advertised with these silver seethrough heads with the chi inside them. They couldn2t remember things the way everyone else could. the blood in her $eins was blue. 7er arents said they were going to wait until she was old enough to understand and make her own decision about it.he es ecially made . . It2s three-!i!teen in the morning. The heads would be s inning around at the mall. "#ey. They talked about it a lot. *2+1"hen ) wo&e u% the ne3t morning. Well. little 1okes between the two o! us.iolet waiting in my cache.34y !ather2s !amily didn2t have the money to buy !eeds !or my dad and my uncle. That2s where they met. . . and they were more e/ ensive. the ambient radiation was already too bad by then !or !reestyle. you know. . a lot !or that. 5ou have beauti!ul li s.he didn2t get it installed when she was little. I think my !irst memory o! my mom is her carrying me on her shoulders through the mall. The !eeds were newer then. there was a message from . they2d only been going out !or a !ew months.he called it 3the brain mole. ." she said. 5ou2re robably sound aslee right now. $ut they both went on to grad school. o! chromosomes or stamens. you know. I haven2t heard anything !rom FeedTech. or see the models that were in the air. I always thought it was strange that they decided to have a kid at a conce tionarium.o they went test-tube.She %ut her hand on my leg. 4y mom never had the !eed. but. "#ey. I guess it was really hard.he would constantly be whis ering 1okes to me.
and at that oint. so there you are. 3They2re all wearing oil. 4y knee was all locked u . I2m looking u at my leg. that2s all you have. 7e2s not doing very well. . the leg started to work again. and !eeling the mud. waiting !or the arti!icial sun. )nd that2s it. 3Trilobites. 4y dad was there with me. That2s a great !eeling. I ho e you2re okay this morning. ) was lying there in bed.3 . 3It2s the height o! !ashion. and you2re standing.3 )nd I would say.he2d say. mud? When it2s in your yard? )nd you know the day2s going to get hot again when the rain2s over. . s#uelching them. 3Old lants. 34issus0 missus lady0those are some nice old lankton. I2m moving my toes. 4y toes were clenched.3 I would whis er.!un o! lastic. >/ce t it2s kind o! cram ed !rom the clenching. and you raise your arms u above your head. on >arth. That2s an a!ternoon. I went to a technician. and you s#uelch your toes.3 I would whis er back to her. and you watch the clouds get sucked back into ducts in the sky. I can2t !eel anything wrong with the leg now. your hundred years. a little kid. . It seems !ine.3 . )ll their clothes. I didn2t chat you.o you stand there. I didn2t want to worry you.o you can 1ust stand there. I mean. I2m lying here in bed. That2s all. your toes still work er!ectly. I couldn2t move my leg. 9ead dinosaurs dri y all over them. They don2t have anything on but oil. 9o you know.he would whis er.2+)) didn t listen to all of it immediately.3 For an hour and a hal! today. $y the time I waited. too. s#uelching. and wait !or the sun? )nd it2s your one time on >arth. the one time you2ll be a little kid. 5ou don2t talk much now. ) saw that it was going to be long.he would whis er. . like in mud. li!ting it u and down. 3They2re wearing dinosaurs. because that2s what the neighborhood association has decided? .
:ould the dancing be in a nightclub with lots o! mirrors ? )nd eo le wear tu/edos. Fly over an active volcano. ) got u% and too& my shower. but the smell was still there. but it wasn t. and I2ll say. G. and went out to my u%car and started to dri$e to SchoolJ. At first. in some weird &ind of trance. and ) got dressed and went downstairs and had one of my dad s 7ranola S0uee1es. ) listened to the rest while the u%car dro$e me. ) sto%%ed breathing. There was a smell li&e the hos%ital. )t was her.1+. ) held my breath. Is there any moss anywhere? E. dro% anchor. ) could still smell the hos%ital in my nose. 9ancing. ) didn t want to get out. it stu!! into magma. )t was li&e sic&ness. . )t was coming from my nose. )t wasn t anything around me. My hand was still on the lift shift. and erha s some mob activity? )nd you2ll kee staring at a cigarette girl named $elinda. N.and ) sto%%ed after a few sentences. ) want to sit with you in a lace where I can2t hear engines. Their bac&%ac&s were all s%ar&ly in the sun. ) stared out the window at the SchoolJ. 39amn you. I want to go under the sea and watch the last !ishes. !rom Oklahoma. I want to sit in one o! those bubbles in the middle o! a school. . and fall u%ward into the s&y. L. . ) &e%t staring out the front window. as if ) was waiting there for the right moment to %ull bac&. The lea$es on the trees turned red to show ) was late. "hen the u%car settled in the SchoolJ %ar&ing lot. 8ids were running e$erywhere and %ushing each other.9e!initive list o! things I want to do6 M. man—damn you —can2t you kee your eyes in your sockets like everyone else?3 P. *$eryone went in through the doors. and there2s a big band. ) thought it was an attachment. ) -ust left it there.
in some kind o! suit. I want to remind mysel! that they wore clothes and armor. and com lain to you through the !eed while I2m at my desk about my bitch o! a manager or my ervert boss. and be someone2s administrative assistant. 5ou2re also !rom Fort Wayne. MB. I want to get older.ometime. MN. We2ll kiss in the u car.. MP. 5ou know. *eo le with strange haircuts. MK. I guess named a!ter someone obscure0usually. We won2t have the !eed.ocrates or Thomas *aine. I want to say we2re !rom Fort Wayne. MM. someone named <erblich who2s writing a iece where you take an a/ to the iano. I want to remind mysel! about the 9utch. I guess I2ll call mine *aine. ME. I want to go u into the mountains with you !or a weekend. I2ll go east to the big city. to !ind my !irst 1ob. Where eo le don2t usually go. . I want to wear a cardigan and have a golden retriever named . like =e!!erson or . Their dogs are named !or great thinkers.B. Like. I want to go to a store that sells only beer and 1erky. when I2m in my twenties. Or !rom a small town outside o! it. D. isn2t that how it goes !or eo le like me? Their cats are named like Tutankhamen or 4ithridates. I want to rent a hotel room with you. 5ou2ll be my boy!riend !rom home. )s 4ister and 4issus . I want to see art. I want !amous artists and com osers to come and stay at my house. I want to see the years ass.mith. and we2ll go to 3movies3 on dates. When we2re there. sometimes even on weekends. . )nd have the ro rietor !rown. I don2t know. That some o! them !ell in love while they were sitting near ma s or ta estries. )nd I want to go into 3the o!!ice3 every day. drinking wine out o! lastic cu s. MG. things sheared into geometrical sha es. )nd have eo le at arties sitting on the arms o! chairs. ML.. and know we2re lying. C. )nd then. I would like to actually he !rom Fort Wayne. hut still nod.
and show them old ictures on the !amily site. and my granddaughter will cut a er . ushing me back onto gurneys. 7e got to )merica and married a retty 4ar/ist candy stri er to get citi?enshi .hirley will hel me shuck the corn. little . which won2t steam like lakes do and won2t move when the wind isn2t on it. I won2t remember what2s really going to ha en. 4y grandkids will come u to see me when I2m in my cardigan. I want them to call me . I want to tell her about what her mama used to do when she was 1ust hatched. MD. When we make dinner. I2ll lean on the sink. I won2t remember any o! that. 7e was a homose/ual. I won2t remember watching you stand by my bed when I can2t move. We2ll sit by the lake. and then blue.econd World War. that em tiness. and eventually they decided to have kids.ana. and still not have any !eeling. LK. like a ur le cloud. that nervesilence s reading over the whole o! my body. and I won2t remember the hours s ent in waiting rooms. that inactivity. watching you staring downI I won2t remember you a ologi?ing !or not coming soonerI I won2t remember you standing there bored by my bedside as I slur words. and then red. standing there waiting to !eel like you2ve stayed long enough so that you2re a good erson and you2re allowed to leave. the doctors touching me with metal rods. the technicians having secret con!erences with my !ather. and had to wear a ink triangle on his arm. I2ll tell them about their great-grand arents. or burn sticks. I won2t remember what it is like to stare at my leg and ress it with my !ingernails until the skin turns white. LM. because it won2t ha en.MC. the silly things 4ama did when she was a child. I2ll lean on the sink. 4y grandkids will ask me what a candy stri er is. I2ll tell them how their great-great-great-grand!ather !led <ermany 1ust be!ore the .
) couldn t li&e focus on the teacher. +in& as&ed me about . What2s doing? I wish I was with you today. because it2s getting to be evening. The night will be !alling. "hen ) got to the end. they sometimes seem to be hollow. that was it. . 3*aine! *aine!3 )nd he2ll come when I call. . . did you get my list? Titus? . I2ll call 03*aine!3 )nd the trees will rustle. /. I always wish I was with you. li&e when your teacher is one of them. ) didn t e$en listen to her list all the way through the first time. Then.iolet. ) fast(forwarded it.. ) said ) hadn t. and there are coyotes out there in the woods. li&e each hour or so. $y the screen door. and +in& and Marty went swimming. and there is nothing inside them. "e were sitting outside near the %ool. She had tried chatting me a cou%le of times since she sent me the list. she chatted. . ) said ) guessed she was o&ay. ) stared at the bac& of the girl in front of me.molecules with her scissors !or a ro1ect !or school LL.+0) was staring at a girl s sweater. but ) had on my busy signal.. //+. ) s&immed it. and we %layed water $olleyball. they can loo& -ust li&e an em%ty shell. #e as&ed me hadn t ) tal&ed to her. "e sat there for a while. 2ou see them and suddenly they don t ha$e a face that %o&es out.7ey. ) d go bac&. Their face %o&es in. and how she was doing. The school band was gone. their nose and so on. "ith a hologram. and ) d listen to one %art of it.iolet. Titus? /0+$After SchoolJ that day ) went o$er to +in& s with Marty and +in&. ) didn t send a message bac& to . Oh. not for a cou%le of days. and so were the ali$e teachers. )f you don t loo& right at them. if you aren t loo&ing right at them. There had been some funding cuts. The teacher was a hologram that day. I2ll go out and call !or the dog.
which was hard with three %eo%le. So we stood there for a minute, until ) said, "!oes anyone else want to go in mal." They loo&ed at me. They were li&e, Anit. Marty said sure, and +in& said he had a ti% for this great new site. They went, "2ou sure." ) was li&e, ""hat ) say." They nodded. "e got out of the %ool and dried off with towels. "e went inside. "e found the site. )t had these meg(ass warnings all o$er it, it was Swedish. "e all clic&ed on it and we could feel it ta% our credit, and then suddenly it hit me all at once. )t was colored bric&s, first, and ) fell down because they were coming too 0uic&. Then ) could start to see the bottom of the sofa. +in& was crawling, and his face was ta&en u% by it. )t &e%t coming in wa$e after wa$e. The floor was stee%. ) held on to the lam% but it dum%ed me. The static was co$ering e$erything and so when we went somewhere, ) couldn t e$en see where we were going. ) -ust watched the others. 'rom the static, ) could see their mouths tal&ing. ;iolet as&ed me what was going on with me. ) tried sitting u% and answering but she wasn t in the room. That was funny and ) laughed. Marty thought ) was laughing at something else, so he got started, too, and %retty soon we were all laughing, and so e$erybody at the ice(cream store was loo&ing at us. "e d -ust bought a tub and ) was li&e, I! I eat this I2m going to uke, and Marty went, Anit, how the !uck did we get to an icecream store anyway? and ) was li&e, Whoa, unit, shit, I ho e you didn2t drive. Some %arents were mo$ing their &ids away from us, and +in& went to them, "/oo5 O&ay. /OO5" #e s%read his hands. There was light coming from his fingers. ) %ointed and said, "+ight." Marty said, "/right." +in& said,
"Sight." Marty said, "=ight." ) said, "8ite." +in& said, "#a$e you e$er thought about how a &ite is held u% by nothing." Marty said it wasn t nothing, fuc&head, it was air. +i&e, air. +i&e, as in fuc&in air. Air. "e went out into the main %art of the mall and went into a music store but it was really really really loud, so we went out. And we went down to a clothes store, and sat in the dressing room for a while. )t was 0uiet there, e3ce%t the banging on the door and as&ing us to lea$e. ) showed Marty and +in& the message from ;iolet with the list, the things she wanted to do before she died, and they read it, and Marty said, Fuck, unit, !uck, and +in& said, Whoa, that2s intense, she2s one weird bitch. ) said she wasn t a bitch and he said that that s not what he meant, that s -ust what he said. Marty as&ed me why ) wasn t tal&ing to her, and ) said ) was tal&ing to her, ) -ust hadn t. #e said that message was so fuc&in sad it made him want to li&e fuc&in , you &now, bawl his eyes out, and ) said, 9o you think she2s being mean to me? In telling me about that art with me standing by her bed? They said, Mean how. And there &e%t on being this stu%id banging on the door, which wo&e me u% se$eral times in one minute. ) was curled u% in this ball, li&e doing a cannon(ball, but on car%eting, with my arms wra%%ed around my leg. There were some %ants hanging on one of the hoo&s. "e chec&ed a few times, but we all had our %ants on, so they must ha$e belonged to the lady who left -ust before we came in. "e thought it was funny that she hadn t come bac& for them, and we laughed about that. )t was good to be with friends. ;iolet as&ed me again what was going on, and ) told her to shut the fuc& u%, but luc&ily, ) told her that out loud, and she wasn t there, but chatting. "e got u% and o%ened the door, and there was this &id dressed in %erfect clothes, li&e, with doughnut rings on his arms, and he as&ed us would we %lease lea$e as we a%%eared to be under the
influence. "e went out and sat near the fountain, watching the water, which was interesting, because your $ision slowed it down so much that you could see each indi$idual dro%let, which was fascinating, each one of them, falling down, and ma&ing a ring in the water, and that ring s%reading with all of its tentacles reaching u% and then dro%%ing bac&, and then the water roc&ing. ;iolet as&ed me what ) was doing, was ) out of SchoolJ yet. Anit, ) said. I2m way out o! ,choolD. She was li&e, #ow are you? I haven2t heard !rom you !or days. .iolet, ) was li&e, .iolet. .iolet. .iolet. 7ey. What2s u ? .iolet. .iolet. .iolet. )re you in mal? I2m coming o$er 7ey. 5oo-hoo. 7ey. ,to . I can2t remember i! my u car2s here. 9on2t !ly like this. 5ou2re slammed. 7ave you heard about this :entral )merican stu!!? Two $illages on the <ul! o! 4e/ico, !i!teen hundred eo le—they2ve 1ust been !ound dead, covered in this black stu!!. "7entlemen," ) said to the other two. ") got to go." 7ave you heard about it? This is big. It seems like an industrial disaster. The <lobal )lliance is blaming the A.,. ") am ho%ing, sirs, that we brought se%arate $ehicles for..." ) said. "Things. ;ehicles." 9on2t !ly right now, she said. 9on2t !ly. 5ou2re meg 1a??ed. ;o, I2m not. 5ou2re s ewing a substream o! 1unk characters all over the lace. 5ou2re com letely un!ormatted. What are you doing? Why did you do this? =ust stay there. I2m at the mall. In mal. )t the mall. In mal. )t the mall. Oh. Oh, god. 9on2t do anything. Wait !or it to wear down. I2m coming to see you. I !eel. I !eel bad. 5ou are such a shithead. 5ou don2t know what ha ened to me this morning. )nd the news.
My dad will &now. and it found its way to her le$el. *lflings. I can2t believe in the middle o! all this.3 It is thought that the )merican anne/ation o! the moon as the !i!ty-!irst state ." ) scratched my hair. )t was mainly -ust eu%horia now.. her suburb was.. 3the hysical and biological integrity o! the earth relies at this oint u on the dismantling o! )merican-based cor orate entities. whatever the cost." ) said. ) found my u%car ne3t to Marty s. She was waiting outside her house. mainly. you went and got mal!unctioned." .." which was the com%letely wrong song. "The horse &nows the way to carry the sleigh.. 2ou o&ay to dri$e." ") ll do it auto%ilot. =e3t to mine. which was on the bottom. ) went u% to the %ar&ing lot. )nto her dro%tube. She had her hair u% in this really nice way. #o.. +in& started singing "#o. ) loo&ed for le$el three. Santa s on #is "ay.Titus—this morning.. "On le$el three. ) was almost aslee%. "2ou sure. Once ) got u% the dro%tube. ) flew. a!ter the *rime 4inister o! the <lobal )lliance issued a statement that. "4nette.. readable cheese! $ut with a di!!erence! .. Marty s u%car was &ind of touched and wrin&led by a %illar. who ) disco$ered was still sitting in front of me. /iiiiig unsteady. The in mal was starting to wear off a little. . ) %ut the u%car in auto%ilot. ) %ulled u% in her dri$eway and left the u%car ho$ering. "Of the %ar&ing lot. 5ou are such an asshole and a shithead. ) dreamed about sweater $ests." "/ig unsteady. #uote." said Marty. or maybe -ust toward the bottom. ) o%ened the door and stumbled to hang out of it." ) said. Marty nodded. ) was li&e. through the ." "!on t go inside. ) flew to her street.
and the dirt was cool. )t was memories from that morning." ") thin& maybe if ) slee% again." "Acti$ity twel$e is out of the 0uestion. O&ay. #e s sto%%ed teaching me. ")t will -ust ta&e about fi$e days. for us to do e$erything." ) felt li&e what she was telling me was real im%ortant. /0+2"hile ) sle%t on her lawn." "+oo& at your list." ) said." "#uh. "e re going to find the mountains. but the trees were so green. ." "#ey. "e better wait for the wee&end to go to the mountains. "2our list. )t s awful. 7et down from there. but that there s no reason for lessons anymore. ) -ust ha$e mourning. and she as&ed him whether there was a soul." "My father sitting around. ) mean. and the grass was tic&ling my nose." "Acti$ity twel$e. )t was a full feed(sim of . and ) fell aslee%. unette. Acti$ity twel$e. )t will -ust ta&e about fi$e days. This is !rom earlier today. "ell. we can start by going dancing. she sent me a message. staring at me."2ou are such a shithead. Calm down. #ey." ""e re going to do it all." "=o. where you become from 'ort "orth. ) had to touch the grass with my heel li&e all these times to ma&e sure it was still hard. #e says he ll tell me whate$er ) want to &now. Actually being from 'ort "ayne. ) tried them on. :heck out the attachment. #a$e you heard the news." ""hat. The FeedTech res onse. ) was worried you weren t going to. and ) could smell the grass near my face." ") m glad you came bac&. 2ou don t. ) ha$e SchoolJ. )t e3%lained a lot.iolet s sensations. it said. you &now. the list before the %art." ) climbed down. +et s s%end some time on the lawn. She too& my hand. o&ay. but ) -ust %ut my face against the ground. She told me that her father as&ed her what she wanted to &now. and heard the news tal&ing through my eyes." ""hat." "'ort "ayne.
Why not check out the brag collection o! ers iration-control devices at the 9. ) too& the ste%s two at a time. . Suddenly. fuc& you. ) was whistling some stu%id bore(core tune. . =o. 'irst little breaths. then bigger ones. but we regret to tell you that you were turned down. ) hit the walls with my hand as hard as %ossible and then my face hit the car%et on the stair and ) was sliding down on my butt. *lease. ) couldn t mo$e my legs.iolet. I2m here to in!orm you that FeedTech :or has decided to turn down your etition !or com lementary !eed re air andHor re lacement. ) was trying to breathe. "=o. The rug on each stair was burning the side of my face. ) -ust tried to grab on to the banister. I2m . She chatted. ) couldn t e$en scream. There was no s%ace in me for breathing. "e were lying there.. *lease. . 7i. There was a %oster ne3t to me with a %icture of an Asian lady holding u% an old machine. it was li&e underwater. "=o. =ina said. . . "e couldn t mo$e our legs. We tried our best to interest a variety o! ossible cor orate s onsors. and ) had my wind bac&. ) was falling bac&ward. wal&ing down the stairs in her house. )t was dar& because ) hadn t turned on the light. and =ina was saying. That was when =ina a%%eared.u er harmacy 7y ersite? $ut that2s not why I2m here.) was . ) clutched at the air. and we couldn t mo$e them. Trying to breathe.iolet. Please.iolet was li&e. I need hel . then finally ) could feel my face and my bac& hurting. ) lifted my head u% and dro%%ed it. ) was lying on the floor of the downstairs. Please. My legs were in funny %laces and ) couldn t feel them at all. 7ave you noticed anic can lead to big-time underarm odor? ) lot o! girls do." We have also tried to interest other cor orate investors in your case." said .ina. your FeedTech customer assistance re resentative.o sweat%.iolet<me out loud.
her legs starting to sting. you and me—girls together! . "e didn t go dancing.iolet lay bac& down in the dar&. waiting for her father to come and hel%. We have to in!orm you that our cor orate investors were like. She was sobbing. . *lease go away.o one could get what we call a 3handle3 on your sho ing habits.ho till you sto and dro ! <o away. "ondering if it was -ust from falling. in the basement. 3What2s doing with this?3 . She called out loud for her dad.iolet. and ) felt li&e a -er&. That s where .orry—I2m a!raid you2ll 1ust have to work with your !eed the way it is. . and we don2t !eel that you would be a reliable investment at this time.iolet 9urn? =ust us. ) had a headache. <o away. like !or e/am le you asking !or in!ormation about all those wow and brag roducts and then never buying anything. )t was already getting dar& in her neighborhood. . I2ve got a gala/y o! su er roducts we can try together! *lease. and her father was staring out the window at her. we might be able to create a consumer ortrait o! you that would interest our investment team. if we check out some o! the great bargains available to you through the !eednet over the ne/t si/ months. <o—away. I2m alone in the house and I !ell down. /0+2"hen ) wo&e u%. 'eeling the %ain in her head. or if it was the feed rusting somehow.What? Why? We2re sorry. . . as if she could feel it.iolet cli%%ed off the end of her memory when she sent it to me. My daughter is s ending these last like recious hours with some . An!ortunately. =ina smiled. lying in the dar&. because it was %retty clear he was thin&ing. on the ground. FeedTech and other investors reviewed your urchasing history. . rusting brown in her brain. 7ow 3bout it. *lease don2t hel . 4aybe.iolet said in a burst o$er the feed.iolet 9urn. #er.
. because it was a long ride to get home. bac& and forth. and crawled in. 4%cars were shooting o$er. ) didn t &now that they had sent you that. so ) said no. #er father watched us through the window. and she as&ed if ) had to go.. She as&ed whether ) wanted to stay for dinner. ) &e%t waiting for something to ha%%en. and ) said ) couldn t feel anything.iolet wal&ed me out to the u%car. ) didn t &now. She &e%t tal&ing about !iatribe on tour. The refusal. ) could feel it doing ner$e bloc&s. and ) was feeling bad about coming o$er and embarrassing her. and told me about some concerts she d been to. She as&ed if ) felt better. ") didn t mean . ) was li&e. There was no way ) was trying that shit again. She didn t li&e fun music." ) &e%t being silent so she could bring stuff u%.. "e sat on the grass. /ut ) wasn t going to touch her if she didn t touch me first. "e sto%%ed tal&ing. ) wanted her to do something. She -ust tal&ed about music. The feed was trying to mo% u% my headache. After a while. ) stood u% and loo&ed in the window at her father. )t was the end of the day. ) said ) %robably should. ) waited near it for her to try to &iss me. if she wanted to. ) started to want her to grab my hand so much that ) %ut it on the grass right ne3t to her hi%. She didn t bring any of it u%. %eo%le were commuting. She didn t. but sarcastic music li&e bore(core. with his li%s %ursed. ) felt li&e ) wanted to bum% u% against her accidentally. She was sitting ne3t to me on the grass. because it had a mean attac& and a bastard of a decay. %lease come again. a few years before. so ) said good(bye. li&e grab my hand. . #e was sitting with his elbows on his &nees." "2ou didn t as&. There was a message in my inbo3 from Sweden saying they ho%ed ) had en-oyed Cow&ic&er. so we d touch. ) felt awful.mal!unctioned asshole. )t was li&e we weren t going out. staring at the bottom of a garbage can.
)t was huge. *. I2ve been listening to burial rites !rom all over the world. !rom si/ to seven.o I2m going to tell you some things. I2ve been listening to re#uiems. Who are we. )t was a big one.ome laces they scream. It2s strange0once you start listening to wailing that2s also singing. . )t started. it2s nothing. She &e%t sending things. and ordering more. Titus. The ne3t day. but the wailing is close to a song. . . that2s also like a ritual. I can remember remembering. ) closed the door. I2m a!raid my memory will go soon. ) lifted off. ) was wal&ing around SchoolJ the ne3t . She raised her hand. i! we don2t have a ast? . her arms sto%%ed wor&ing for an hour. ) didn t o%en them. I might want you to tell it back to me. but I can2t remember anything that ha ened to me right be!ore I got the !eed. I2m going to tell you e$erything. >s ecially the things be!ore I got the !eed. you start to wonder0how much does anyone really miss anyone else? 7ow much are they 1ust crying because it2s what they have to do. ) let them sit. and she %anic&ed and had to be gi$en a sedati$e. 5ou2re the most im ortant erson in my li!e. . they wail.ome day. When I try to think about that year that disa eared. the song they have to sing? . In *olynesia.ome laces they dance and chant. .ome laces they lay choirs o! bamboo clarinets. I can2t remember anything.ome )ustralian women have to !all silent when they2re grieving0it2s re#uired0and they s eak !or the rest o! their lives only with their hands.She loo&ed at me. It2s three again.ome laces they tear their clothes. I2m a!raid I2m going to lose my ast. and started to smile. I2m a!raid o! silence.+$That night ) could feel another message caching. I2m awake. I mean.
She was sending them e$ery few minutes. saying. any of the stories. ) went to bed. ) would get a few words. We2ll be together. ) was afraid ) would loo& at the memories. from before she got the feed. What2s your answer about the weekend idea? We2ll have to sneak around my dad. )t was always there. where if you loo&ed at them. so ) didn t answer her. Sometimes. ) sat down at the table. )n the u%car. They were getting bigger. ) didn t do my homewor&. ) -ust &e%t them. ) went to the &itchen to get a drin& of water. face u%. ) didn t &now what wee&end idea she was tal&ing about. )t was li&e something was always s%illing. ) got home. wearing sandals and a %roton lid. ) didn t slee%. ) lied there. ) went home that afternoon. The walls of my room were all white. throwing her a baseball. ) had a headache. ) went into the li$ing room and sat on the sofa. and then wal&ed around. Stories she told. younger. My lines were clear. The smell of some sauce coo&ing. whatever ha ens. They -ust bled. and as&ed if ) wanted to o%en it. ) didn t listen to any of them. ) deleted e$erything she had sent me. something would bleed through —her father. feeling them crowd me. ) loo&ed at the window o$er the sin&. ) didn t touch them on the way home. )t sent me a message about how much ) was caching. 'inally. she chatted me. feeling them li&e. ) told the feed to shut off the headache. +ater on. ) loo&ed at the fire%lace. ) got a message that she d sto%%ed. or some shit. something about an aunt. ) filled a glass. ) didn t feel good. #er mother. ) had deleted all her memories. but ) shut them off. or a camel. */+2- . %osters would a%%ear. or a guitar. There was nothing on my walls. because he doesn2t want me to see you—but don2t worry— don2t worry. They had hot(s%ots. ) sat on the sofa.day. She was bombarding me.
Or suddenly you re li&e doubling o$er. She came in. "Can ) come in. .IF TO ) *):J)<>.. I. . <I. 5OA+ 7)I+! . telling him she d gi$e him some coo&ie dough if he d sto%. My hand was on the button. She stood -ust outside the room. )<)I. and he &e%t running all u% and down the car%ets. ) m going . and ) shut the door. . "2ou didn t gi$e me an answer about this wee&end.@A)+>? *OI.T TO O. ) sat there and wondered what to do. . #e s %robably aslee%. ) -ust stood there. 5OA+ 7>)9 ) . My dad hadn t been home for a few wee&s. but ) didn t &now if anyone was going out. li&e ) was going to yell at her.:)+>! >""ow5" "Meg brag!3 34ine2s called Looty!3M ) was staying in my room to a$oid ha$ing my li&e brain blown u% by Smell 'actor s broadcasts. "#ey5" my mom called. 5OA :). and it was -ust 'riday. She was coming u% the stairs. "but ) -ust figured. :7A:JI>.iolet. . and my mom was really angry and &e%t yelling at Smell 'actor. "2ou can -ust go u%. ) heard Mom running after him.> 4O4 ) . because Smell 'actor was crying and running around the house throwing things. and didn t %ush the button to o%en it.O:J. or what we were su%%osed to do that wee&end. li&e. "#ey5 . She said. ." ) let her in. +O$OT *)L. ) got u% and went to my bedroom door.?!? ." she said. She wa$ed. J>>* I.. ) was -ust inside. ) -ust stood by the door to let her in my room. but ) didn t %ush it.iolet s here5" She said it li&e ) was e3%ecting . and it s .OW! . #e was directing these li&e blasts of &ids %rograms in different directions so it hurt to wal& around because you &e%t getting caught in his beams. She didn t come in." ) %ressed the button. .T 5OA+ .> 5OA LO. because ) was bored of the games ) had. &ind of %athetic.> . 7).) couldn t thin& on 'riday night. ) stood by the door. ) heard her say. Mom called u% to me.
) didn t get anything. And then each day after that." ) said. "Oh. ) said to her." ) said. ")f ) d got it. *s%ecially because it can ma&e %eo%le really uncomfortable. ) said. fifteen minutes." ") guess not. ) m going to go u% to the mountains and see things. Oh." ""hat. 7round me for the rest of my life. ) m going to do something different. Museums. "Are you coming or not. and you &ee% bringing it u% in certain ways. ") m &ind of busy. what ) ha$e to do." ) said. ) m going to really li$e." "=ow. ") m going to fuc&ing li$e. !idn t you get my message. "=o. She loo&ed u%." She was li&e. ) could $e changed my %lans. ") told my dad ) was going to a friend s house." ) said. "Oh." ) went o$er to my dresser and leaned on it. She said. Anything. Any memories or anything." She stared at me li&e she couldn t belie$e me. what s he going to do. This is my big time. ") d li&e it if you d come." ) loo&ed at the rug." She sat down on the bed." . ") got here in a ta3i. I2ve used every second." She laughed really short and harsh. So that s going wrong." "Or the memories. li&e." ) shoo& my head. Shows. 2ou can come if you want.anyway. ""hat memories. too. god. ") m going to the mountains. ) didn t thin& she should -o&e about that. "Oh. She was li&e. and ) m going to come home on Monday or Tuesday and be li&e. I2ve seen it. "=o. ) sent you hours worth. because you -ust don t -o&e about your life. 'or the wee&end. Meaning. ) don t care." ""hen." ) didn t say anything. My chat and messaging." she said. =o." She said. #e doesn t &now it s you. shit. ) don t &now how much time ) ha$e. if you ha$e something wrong with you. ) wondered why you didn t say anything. She told me." ") sent you all these memories. ) figure. ) -ust stood there. great. ) wish ) d got the message." "The other night. Oh.
" ) didn t want to answer her." "2ou don t want to run away together. ) thought about the comforter. ) said. ."O&ay.!3M. and she %ut her finger through the $ent in the front and twiddled it." She sent me %ictures of a cabin with some %ine trees. whate$er you re doing. 2ou don t thin& that sounds e3citing. and a fire. T>>. shooting out his broadcast beams L37>)9. and two %eo%le with smudged faces that could be her and me sitting there under one comforter. "O&ay" "2ou ll go. )t stood u% li&e an ele%hant s trun&. What2s scheduled? ) thought about the %ictures again." She said get my clothes.. She was all cheerful and &e%t bouncing herself on the bed and tal&ing about where we were going. A*.> T7)T ." "O&ay. . She slammed some doors. Then she tossed the bo3er shorts onto the duffel bag. "Come on.2T T7> W>L:O4> W)<O.iolet s house . She was angry." "O&ay. 2:)A. She said. the cabin and the %ine trees. ) thought about me erasing the co%ies of her memories. She stood u%. ""hat are you going to do otherwise. >. ) thin& she must $e caught u% to him. ) watched her. . ")t ll be fun. and Smell 'actor was running down the hall behind us." she said. Mom was running along the car%et behind him. . and ) folded them again and %ut them in.iolet said." ") m really sorry.FO+:>+. and she had this smile. this is great." "Oh.iolet. /etter than doing . and her sitting ne3t to me. she chatted. "e re going to ha$e a great time." said . ) too& out some clothes and started %utting them in a duffel bag.A+> )I. shouting at him." "e were standing there. so ) did. She %ic&ed u% my bo3er shorts when ) was folding them.eriously. "O&ay. ) told my mom that we were going to a concert and that ) was going to stay o$er at .
Oh great. and he would birth meg cow if he found out she was gone for the wee&end. though. com%letely." She loo&ed at me real intense. "2ou can -oin me." and she said. and ) can mo$e." ) lied to her: "A few things. ) didn t &now. it sto%s. ) m worried about the chat. They can t right now )t re%laces too many basic functions. They were short. =ina said she d noticed all of the re0uiem masses ) d been listening to. ) as&ed her whether she shouldn t tell her dad where we were going." but ) didn t feel good about it." ") li&ed them. ) could feel it calculating a flight %attern. and ) was waiting for her directions." ""hat. #ere s the hideous thing. "e were flying now. )t s tied in to e$erything. !id you try to send me things. ) mean. The other day. Off. . because she was busy running on a treadmill that lit things u% while Smell 'actor tried to throw marbles at her &nees. She suggested some others. have a good time." "Can t they. That s new. ) $e been s&etched demogra%hically They can still %redict things ." She was loo&ing at the ceiling. <reat. ) said. and with me. ) ha$e this dream that ) ll be able to learn to li$e without the feed. because ) thought she would frea& if she &new ) was going to go off somewhere without ha$ing any real %lan and s%end money on a hotel or cabin.iolet and ) went out to my u%car and we got in. "So ha$e you been o&ay. ) said. She goes. Mom said." she said. going u% the dro%tube. and she said no. "One little thing.afterward." "=ot dormant. "2ou could send the memories to me again. ) wish they could -ust switch it off. "e can %re%are. She sent them right to the u%car and it sent confirmation. She figured it out. ) as&ed her. ") ca$ed in. he was being $ery %rotecti$e. "Things ha%%en— immobility—then a few hours later.
" She loo&ed around. 2ou re Smith li&e ) m /etty 7rable." "6ust . She had made a reser$ation at a hotel." ) was trying to ha$e fun. ) went in. and she was smiling li&e she was bro&en. the &ind where you always are thin&ing about urban legends. A man with rulers for hands sitting in the room ne3t door." She sighed. "Mister and Missus Smith. ")f you dig the %ubic lice out of the soa%s." she said.iolet said. ) said. Smith. . ) reached down. "'or bodies. #e was li&e. . ) didn t &now stucco could brown li&e this." #e held u% a scanner. . "They re really close to winning. ) went out to the u%car and got our bags. 2ou &now. ) ll &ey you for the room. She lifted the co$ers on the bed and loo&ed at the sheets. "e went in to the manager. chihuahuas in the mini(fridge. "2eah." ) said. ""hat a 0uaint little %lace. and said.) li&e. "#old out your hands. and turned u% the fan in the climate control." She loo&ed at me and smiled. "=ame." She touched the door. #e said. "!oing. Sure." ." ) said." #e loo&ed at me. "e went out to the room. "!ead rattlers drying on the shower curtain rod. They sew them in." She said. ) m trying to resist." "O&ay. and it o%ened for her hand. &ee% . .iolet was li&e." ) didn t want to be called her hero. ") reser$ed a room. ")t s the &ind of a%ocry%hal story hotel where %eo%le usually only stay when their u%car brea&s down during a rainstorm. ) don t gi$e a rat s ass. *)+1)t was a college town u% in some mountains. "2eah. She was %o&ing around the room. ) loo&ed at her. ) guessed. ) li&ed being the man getting the bags. but they re close to winning.") didn t &now what to say." .iolet smiled li&e we were in a musical and she was about to brea& out singing. She went in." . . )t was a chea% hotel. The guy nodded. The mountainsides were co$ered with gouges and cables. "Chec& the mattress foundation. "My hero.
) thought maybe it wouldn t be so bad. and she had the front of my coat in her hands. )t was a whole night we had to get through." she said. "e as&ed the %eo%le what it was. She grabbed me when we went through. "e got bac& to the room and touched the door. ) felt li&e ) needed a drin&. it will be grainy when you touch it. ) thought maybe some 8ahlua. My chest &e%t on falling. dee% hole. and they said it was a %rotest. he %layed the guitar. being with her. too. and got some hot cocoa. She whis%ered. )t was cold out. ) had this boyfriend. "/ut ) $e ne$er done the main e$ent. and concrete. ") want to e3%erience e$erything."e went out to chec& out the town. in loo%s and half loo%s from all of the cul(de(sacs. So we ate our %i11a there. O&ay. because we were outside on a mountain. ") $e done some of it before." ) said. maybe with . There was some shouting going on by the college cam%us. She was tal&ing in a way that made me feel li&e the whole mucusy %art of my chest was hardened into a stone and someone threw it off a bridge into a dee%. )t was the nice &ind of cold when someone else s s&in." ) ho%ed she would li&e get the signal." She sat on the bed. all of the lights from the u%%er layer of suburbs stretching all around for as far as you could see. There were lights e$erywhere. She too& off her coat and threw it on a chair. which was the null signal. "e as&ed for what. She was going. )t was good to ha$e the cocoa. "Oh. because ) suddenly reali1ed that ) was dreading e$ery second. and we wore -ac&ets and night goggles. 2ou could see down off the mountain. Titus. Somehow he tric&ed me into doing a thing or two before ) reali1ed his lyrics didn t rhyme. li&e it was romantic. but ) figured the only alcohol they d ha$e at the hotel would be for cleaning tile. and she %ulled me right u% to her and &issed me. and they didn t &now. "e went into a %i11a %lace and ordered a %i11a.
" ) said. holding me u%. ) said. they go off for s&i wee&ends." ) as&ed. ) could still feel the most or ) guess biggest %art of my chest. One year we went to Swit1erland. with a &ind of s0uelching noise.some ice crystals on it now. they were bac& on the bed.ight from when we started going out. and ) tried to mo$e away. Then she whis%ered. and ) -ust sat there. She was &neading me with her hand. for Americans. "Sit down ne3t to me. 2ou &now." "7reat. )t was &ind of aw&ward." She said. off s&iing. She was still wor&ing away with her hand and nothing was really ha%%ening." ) sat down ne3t to her. "Ow. and she %ut her other hand on my leg." She &issed me on the mouth to shut me u%. 2ou re -ust so beautiful. . and ) started &issing her bac&. #er one hand was around my nec&. Titus." she said. 2ou lead this life li&e ) $e always wanted to— -ust. "#a$e you e$er been telemar&ing. normal &ids. "e can -ust be li&e normal %eo%le are. because it wasn t . She was li&e mushing me u% with her hand. and ) was thin&ing forward to when it would be o$er. ") lo$e you. "*$ery year ) go s&iing with my %arents. ) felt bad. ") really wanted this to ha%%en with you. This is going to drill eyes in the bac& of our heads. She &issed me on the li%s. She was holding my hair too. This is going to be the most ama1ing night. and she had her arm around me and was starting to loo& worried. She said. "e could e$en rent s&is. which hel%ed. the lung and mucus %art. "2ou &now the border s closed now. e$erything is normal. She %ut one arm around me. =ow let s refocus our attention. because we were sitting ne3t to one another. maybe hitting the edge and getting dirty and rolling now. My arms weren t around her anymore. falling down into the %it.
=ow ) ll ha$e a boyfriend. "hen you came along. ) m really sorry. o&ay.." ""hat. ) couldn t belie$e it when the first night. and ) said. so ) tried to smile. li&e going. ) thought. ) want to feel you. )t feels . 'inally. ""hat s ha%%ening. )t . she said. ""hat s going on. ") m sorry. She dro%%ed it. Other %eo%le -ust ha$e fun. though. ") &ee% %icturing you dead already.her fault she was going to die." she said. down on the bed." ) said. and e$en worse. "All right. She was loo&ing what %eo%le call "as&ance. "+i&e a %unishment. That guy. "Come on baby. ." ) said. "hat s the matter with you. ") guess this was a bad idea. She was li&e.. She was waiting. The first night. maybe because ) was angry." She %ic&ed u% the edge of the co$erlet with her fingers and rubbed it. ")n tests. The hac&er." "=othing." She said." ) said. ") can tell. but ) couldn t. "hat am ) doing wrong." She said." ) stood and waited." She said. so for some stu%id reason. She said. ) did finish it. That s what it feels li&e. "+et s not. ")t feels li&e being felt u% by a 1ombie. ) didn t mean that." ) didn t want to finish the sentence. ) felt really bad. . they find huge numbers of !=A strands on hotel co$erlets." ) said." She loo&ed $ery little. . ) felt li&e shit." She whac&ed the bac& of her own head. li&e %eo%le ha$e boyfriends. tried to be dirty. that guy ." #er face turned com%letely white. "=othing." and all that &ind of thing. ." She said. and it comes naturally to them. ) said. ""hat s the matter." She tried again. ") went to the moon during s%ring brea& to see how %eo%le li$e. ""hat s going on." ) stood u%. She said. They -ust ha$e fun. "=othing. ""hat did ) do wrong.
") was brought into the world in a room with no one there but se$en machines. you were -ust %lanning this whole eternal thing. 2our feed is damaged." ) was li&e. ". "Then we were in the hos%ital. That s the thing." ) said. =ormal !umbass." "2ou mean 2sorry. ) m real—) m real sorry.23 She loo&ed u% at me. She said. ) was magic Mr.. and ) was su%%osed to automatically lo$e you always.iolet. ) was thin&ing.. They too& me away from the rest of you and told me. There s a danger it may be life(threatening. but to you. She said. ) was the normal guy. "Sorry in that way.ow I2m living. O&ay. "but ) seem to be dying. that ) had -ust bro&en u% with her. ) can t field this. ) was -ust thin&ing about going out with you. li&e oh5 #ow delightful. and &issed you. ) can t field any of this. ") didn t want to go out of it alone." ) said." "=o—) can t field this. I2m not alone. ) thought it would be li&e when you re finally tied to the doc&. the whole time.was li&e ) was being %unished for e$en trying. 2ou re laying this whole guilt ban0uet." she said. with my dumbass normal friends. ") wanted someone to &now me. "That s—see. And ) came down. I have someone with me. ) came into the world alone. . "2eah. and we would ha$e some fun for a few months. and too& you away." She thought about it." =ow the color was coming bac& into her face." ") m sorry. She said. My %arents watched through the glass when ) was ta&en out of the amniotic fluid. That." She thought about it more. 2ou were. but ) didn t e$en &now. . and oh5 +i&e the whole. with her eyebrows weird. "e all are. . and what that &ind of "sorry" meant to both of us was that it was o$er. And the whole time.3 "O&ay. the whole enchanted world of being a stu%id shithead who goes . he . I2m living. She said." She %ic&ed u% her shoe and scratched the crust out of the tread.
" ""hat s wrong with it." "!o you &now what s going on in Central America." "That s not what ) mean. or what our %roblems are. no one &nows where they are anymore." "Oh." There was a silence. )t s not some big eternal thing. that s it." "Oh. . O&ay. or that we might not be li&e sa$ing the en$ironment or anything." ""hat s wrong with my u%car. And she li&es it. And ) m su%%osed to act li&e we re married. !o you &now why our s&in is falling off. A cou%le of months. ) mean. . #a$e you heard that some suburbs ha$e been lost. . "That s it.. ) would $e. =o." ""hat. but we ha$e our own %roblems—now you re— you &now. while all the time. #ardly anyone does." she said. really soft and angry. May." ""e $e only been going out a cou%le of months. )t s been a cou%le of months." "+et s go home. here we—" "!o you &now why the 7lobal Alliance is %ointing all the wea%onry at their dis%osal at us. ha$ing this little wish that you could be li&e us. A cou%le of months. fuc& you. ""ell. if you hadn t been . now you re going to ta&e it all wrong. That would ma&e it A%ril." "The male goat %isses in his own face to attract the female." "Ta&e me out to your brand(s%an&ing(new u%car and ta&e me home. ") don t ha$e any idea. 2ou &now. without thin&ing about what we re li&e." "Oh. -ust. "e should $e bro&e u% wee&s ago. =o one &nows . =o one can find them. 6ust latch on to this one dumbass. 2ou loo& worried. it was s%ring brea&. "hat s that su%%osed to mean." "2ou tell me." ") didn t sign u% to go out with you fore$er when you re dead." "=o. and ma&e fun of his friends for being stu%id." she said." ")f ) hadn t been what.dancing and gets laid5 2ou wanted to mingle with the common %eo%le.
) ha$e li&e all the money in the world. "e were flying. "e were hurtling forward. ) was almost saying it. "e ha$e tea %arties with our teddies. with the harness around her. li&e a fli%%er. something about how she had watched us all and tried to be as dumb and fun as us. darling. no. She loo&ed really alone. and her cri%%led fli%%er(hand cradled between her legs so ) wouldn t see it. She was crying. #er one hand was lim%. ) went out to the u%car.what s ha%%ened. ) don t &now how ) s%ent two hours. shit." ) said. and she said. !o you &now the earth is dead. =o. "Oh. ) reali1ed it wasn t wor&ing anymore. ) could say ) was sorry. "e ta&e what s coming to us. )t was night." "!on t worry. "2ou can finish the li&e. "e flew bac&. the sermon in the u%car. something snotty. +i&e all of the lights on the dashboard were teasing us. +i&e the whole air was bu11ing. no. "e don t &now any of that. )t made her ugly. and ) was close to saying it. honey. ) closed my eyes. "e go sledding. ) felt my credit blotted fi$e hundred and twenty dollars. ) o%ened the door for her. She e3%lained carefully. That s our way." ) %ic&ed u% my duffel bag. She crossed her arms on her la%. li&e it was crammed. "Maybe you can also sing me some death songs. "!o you want to %ay for the room. =o. ) thought about anything else that . "e %ut the duffel bags between us. ") disco$er that ) hate you. or should ). There was nothing but air in between us." She reali1ed it had to be %aid still. ) had ne$er been some%lace with that much of angry in the air. and it was li&e we were fueled by how much we hated each other. "e en-oy being young. Almost nothing li$es here anymore. ) was wal&ing out the door. if only she wouldn t say something sarcastic. ) thought how ugly she was." ) said. sitting there in the seat." She grabbed her bag. She got in. "2ou ll ha$e a cou%le of hours before we get to your house. e3ce%t where we %lant it." ) %aid. it was so awful and boring." ) o%ened the door.
#er father watched her. #er father was watching through the window. She freed her hand from her dad s. She wobbled there. "e flew down her street. $ut I am messaging you to say that I love you. 5ou low? said a banner. She let herself down to the ground alone. ) couldn t belie$e it when we got to her dro%tube and went down to the bottom. #e came out of the front door. ) left. ) did it really careful. She reached out with her other hand and too& her own wrist bac& from him. "Oh. 5ou2re . . loo&ing from one to the other.ummer Fashions . to her suburb. At her house. #e too& her hand. ) had gone around to her side and o%ened her door u%. but ) did order a -ersey. I always thought you could teach me things. ) got in. all alone. )t was only months later that ) reali1ed that the last thing ) e$er heard her mouth say. ) flew home. shit. She stood between the two of us. had already been s%o&en. I2m not messaging you to say I2m sorry. ) got out and climbed down. There were streets on the ground. She couldn t get out too good with her arm not wor&ing. ) held u% my hand. the last words she would s%ea& to me. in case she was trac&ing my feed. "e were ho$ering in the dri$eway. They were lit by lights. The night seemed to go on for hours. and that you2re com letely wrong about me thinking you2re stu id.) could. and they were. she messaged me the ne3t day. because I2m not. #e saw what was ha%%ening and ran u%.ale! )t was a little embarrassing. She didn t ta&e it. She was afraid she would fall. ) turned around and went bac& to my side of the u%car. I was always waiting. #e would see me and &now she was lying about where she had been.ot !or long—not when you !ind out the savings you can en1oy at Weatherbee R :rotch2s )nnual $lowout . not !or e$erything. and she was trying to stand." *1+*So.
)t was o&ay.not like the others. and we had less and less s&in. $ut there2s always time to change. . )t was %retty funny. =i&e. )t floated abo$e Marty s house. nothing. "e met other girls on )o. "This fuc&in shit =i&e. +in& and Marty and ) went to one of the moons of 6u%iter to stay with Marty s aunt for a few wee&s. because you could hardly understand what he said anymore. )nd I want to talk. things we didn2t mean. because for most %eo%le." #e %aid a lot for it. our hair fell out and we were bald. /y that %oint. it was inflatable and huge. "e went out to &ic& some ass on the bas&etball court. "Oh. Then later there was this thing that hit hi%sters. That was her message. 5ou think you2re stu id. e$en though there were some meg delays in feed ser$ice between the %lanets. Antil there2s not. 'ummertime "hen school ended for the year. dumb things. you &now. Marty had also gotten a =i&e s%eech tattoo. and ) &ind of missed her. )t meant that e$ery sentence. *$erything was not always going well. )t was hilarious. "e both said mean things. 5ou say things that no one e/ ects you to. and the %ool was in To% 9uar& s belly. "e had some good %arties that summer when we got bac& to *arth. )t was -ust. ) told her how much ) missed her. 5ou want to be stu id. but ) was chatting bac& to 9uendy the whole time. $ut you2re someone eo le could learn !rom. There2s always time. At first. he automatically said "=i&e. Marty got a giant To% 9uar& %ool. and they were loo&ing for grou%s li&e the Coalition of Pity. %eo%le thought it was another $irus." etc. but it turned out that it was something called =ostalgia 'eedbac&. ) said. Peo%le were -ust sto%%ing in their trac&s fro1en. i! you do. ) was going out with 9uendy. fuc&in ." when +in& loo&ed at me funny. which was %retty brag. "e had a %retty good time.
)t turned out that my u%car was not the &ind of u%car my friends rode in. and %eo%le couldn t figure it out at all. ) &e%t thin&ing of her %inching her leg and not being able to feel it. ) thought of her lying without mo$ing. So he broadcast it to the family. and the whales lamination. the deep One night at dinner. ) couldn t slee% at all. #e said it was great and really refreshing. but cool was always flying -ust ahead of me. )t had enough room. ) felt li&e ) d been running toward it for a long time.iolet and her bro&en fli%%er(hand. ) &e%t thin&ing of . her eyes were o%en.Peo%le had been getting nostalgia for fashions that were closer and closer to their own time. "#oly fuc&in shit. That summer was the summer when all of the bees came out of the walls of those suburbs and went cra1y. when my dad came bac& from a cor%orate ad$enture with his management team. e$en though they were o&ay. They went whale hunting. )t was -ust %eo%le and old shi%s and the whales. and the feedbac& com%letely fro1e them. you &now Marty was li&e. "e were real worried about them for a day or so. until finally %eo%le became nostalgic for the moment they were actually li$ing in. this is so =i&e fuc&ed. #e was all. ) don t &now why. )t was li&e ) &e%t buying these things to be cool. here you see us in the little whaleboat. and ) could ne$er e3actly catch u% to it. )t ha%%ened to Calista and +oga. "e &new they d be all right. . he showed us memories from it. and to get e$eryone to wor& out their sto%<go hierarchies. but for some reason %eo%le didn t thin& of it that way Sometimes that made me feel &ind of tired. "O&ay." The night after ) saw them fro1en. but in my thoughts. and that it was -ust the &ind of thing to %romote team interface. which he said was a non(organic co$ering that made it %ossible for them to li$e in the sea. but still.
) &e%t getting it in my eyes and blin&ing. 2ou can see 6eff Matson stabbing it. and the water was gray e$erywhere. Maggie and . She s great. They ha$e to lift the blubber sheets on hoo&s and feed it into the try(wor&s. 'ine. "6eff s. you &now. )t was really rough that day See. O&ay. we re all shouting that we need to be going faster. and it was ma&ing me a little sic& to my stomach.ic&. =ow they ha$e to flense the whale. Oh.ide. where the blubber. it s all reduced with.eal good &ids..ow. #i. See him wa$ing. 6esus—here we go5 'eel that tug5 )t s awesome.P. #ey. +isa5" ) wasn t $ery interested.5" There was this big s%ray of blood. O&ay. "All right." as&ed Mom. . there: This is later. 2ou can see the head of our Phoeni3 office there holding the har%oon. and ) thin& !ad must $e been sic& to his stomach. this is tough wor&. ) lo$ed it. . This was awesome. and ) felt real bad for the interns you see there doing it.elations. )t s really hot and difficult. huh. So here you can see us har%ooning the whale. ) thin&. . of Client . this is what they call a =antuc&et Sleigh . Totally awesome."e $e %ut out from the main shi%. "#ow s his wife. because it was going u% and down. row. that s !a$e Percole3. Can you feel the s%ray. !a$e. "e $e s%otted a whale. This was the greatest feeling. or remo$e all its blubber in huge mats. So we re rowing out there as fast as %ossible. Then you can go u% to it and %uncture its lung. fire and heat. and so was the s&y. 7ood &ids. and we re rowing out to it. That s—oh. . 2ou got to be dragged by the whale until it gets tired. Totally awesome. so here we $e %ulled the whale u% beside the shi%. #e s Chairman of the /oard. !ude. #e s in charge of the buc&et of ro%e." ) heard a $oice say. Oh. "ow5 Thar she blows. . because the feed was broadcasting his stomach sic&ness.he wanted me to tell you when everything sto ed. row5 "e ha$e our new intern there %ulling at the oars.
because it was a feed noise." "2es. &ind of dangerous sounding.P. ") got to go. "=e$er mind the rest. lady and getting com%letely turned on. And in the bac&ground. ""hat was the lady at the end. and his memory. ) don t &now. because it was my dad s head. They loo&ed at me.. two more of our interns." said my dad. and ) tried to loo& for the $oice.he wanted me to tell you that you don2t need to see her i! you don2t wish to. 2ou ha$e to actually send %eo%le into the brain ca$ity to bail it out with buc&ets. See. or the seagulls flying o$er the boat and charging at the slime that was all o$er the wood. ) &e%t on loo&ing at this li&e forty(fi$e(year(old . with the buc&et." said Smell 'actor. . wal&ing around in the brain. but ) couldn t turn my head." said my dad.iolet s . ""ait5" ) said. and anyway." said my mom. ) was trying to %ic& u% the line from . ) thin& something s really wrong. They re dressed u% all in rubber." said my dad." . )t s an awful -ob. ) tried to sto% loo&ing down her blouse when she stoo%ed down to %ic& u% some &ind of flensing s%ade. ) said. and the attachment with their address.) could barely hear it o$er the cries on the shi%.. ) stood u%. you can see— now they get some &ind of s%ecial oil out of the brain ca$ity. but ) couldn t find it.. ) loo&ed for who said it on the shi%. ""ho was she. See 6ohn.iolet s father s $oice." .he wanted me to tell you when it was over.he told me to tell you when it was all over. ) -ust got this message that . ) was searching for it. "#ere we are drin&ing a toast. and the smashing of wa$es against the carcass of the whale. it wasn t there with the interns bailing the whale oil. . Those are /y% and 6ohn. and he sto%%ed the broadcast. but ) couldn t turn my head. "All right." "So that was the outing. "She made me funny. and there was the sea s%ray. in case you2ve !orgotten it.iolet s father. I am attaching our address. There was -ust his message. )t was .
My father said, "There s a name we li&e ha$en t heard for a while." My mother said, "Maybe because we ha$e been strutting around on a whaling boat, eyeing u% the ;P. of Sales." My mom had lost so much s&in you could see her teeth e$en when her mouth was closed. ""hat about it, Peg(leg Pete." ) left and went out to my u%car and got in. ) flew out of our bubble and into the main tube, and then out of our neighborhood and u% the dro%tube and then across the surface. Peo%le were going by me in strea&s of light. The clouds were glowing green, and a blac& snow was falling. )t was miles and miles away. )t was li&e so far. On the news, there were underground e3%losions that no one could e3%lain in =ew 6ersey and a riot had started a few hours before in a mall in California, and was s%reading, with feed co$erage of %eo%le stam%eding for safety and children falling and %rofessional %eo%le beating the shit out of each other with chairs and a body floating in a fountain while the Mu1a& %layed a walt1. ) had fed ;iolet s address into the u%car, so it did the dri$ing. ) didn t need to do hardly anything. ) didn t ha$e the li&e, you &now, the attention, and ) wished ) didn t ha$e to sit. ) wanted to %ace until ) got there, if there d been enough room. My legs felt -um%y. "hile ) got out of my u%car, the front door of the house o%ened. #er father was there. #e left the door o%ened and went inside. ) wal&ed down the dri$eway. ) stood for a minute by the o%en door. )t was dar& inside. Then ) went in. There was no one in the li$ing room. There were the stac&s of boo&s e$erywhere, and %osters with words on them, and some %lants. ) called out, "#ello." and nobody answered me, so ) went around the corner to go to ;iolet s room. #er father was standing in the &itchen. #e was leaned u% against the counter. #e had on his feed bac&%ac& and his s%ecial glasses, which were showing him words. #e loo&ed u% at me 0uic&ly when
) came in. ) whis%ered, ""hat s ha%%ened." The father %ointed down the hall. The hall was dar&, with wall(to(wall car%eting that might $e had something s%illed on it. ) went down the hall. ) went into the room, and saw her there. )+0) stood there in front of her bed. The bed was floating. She was co$ered in discs. They were on her face and u% her arms. She loo&ed real, real %ale. There were signals going on behind her. /ee%ing and so on. #er hair had been sha$ed off, and it was -ust a fu11, now. There were scars on her scal% from where they tried to fi3 her. #er eyes were o%en. )t was weird to be in the room with her. )t was li&e being in the room with her if she was wood. )t didn t feel li&e you were in the room with anyone. 2ou could stand there and you would feel com%letely alone, li&e you were -ust in a room with a %ro%. 2ou could watch the %ro%, and not feel anything, or remember anything about how the %ro% used to -o&e with you, and how you wanted to &iss it and feel it u%. ) had thought it would feel li&e a tragedy, but it didn t feel li&e anything at all. #er father came in and sat down in a chair behind me. ) was still standing u%. #e settled in his chair. ) could hear his feed%ac& crea&ing. ) &e%t loo&ing at her. #e said, "#er s%eech became increasingly slurred. Toward the end, she no longer could ma&e the &ind of sly witticism of which she was so fond. 2our bon mots cannot fly fleetly when each consonant is a labor. She could barely get her tongue to touch her hard %alate. She would &ic& things in anger when she couldn t s%ea&. 4ntil her legs sto%%ed wor&ing finally, and didn t start bac& u% again. Then ) could see her tra%%ed in there. ) could see it in her eyes. 'or a while. She had also
become"—he sighed—"she had become ha1y. Confused. The hi%%ocam%us was li&ely being mismanaged, so her memory was dim. She as&ed me about her mother. She s%o&e a great deal of you. The worst stage was when one could tell she was still awa&e and almost alert, but she &new that nothing wor&ed. )m%risoned. She was im%risoned. )n a statue li&e the S%hin3. +oo&ing out from the eyes. #er own mind, at that %oint, was as small and bewildered as a little fly. /ehind great battlements." ) turned around. "ords were going across his eyes. #e did not read them. ) whis%ered, "Oh." #e said, facing toward her feet, "#er mother and ) didn t want to get her a feed at all. ) did not ha$e one. =either did her mother. ) said none for my family. "Then one day, when her mother had left, and ) needed wor&, ) was at a -ob inter$iew. ) was an e3cellent candidate. Two men were inter$iewing me. Tal&ing about this and that. Then they were silent, -ust loo&ing at me. ) grew uncomfortable. Then they began loo&ing at each other, and doing what ) might call smirking. ") reali1ed that they had chatted me, and that ) had not res%onded. They found this funny. ,isible. That a man would not ha$e a feed. So they were chatting about me in my %resence. Teasing me when ) could not hear. 'ree to assess me as they would, right in front of me. ") did not get the -ob. ")t was thus that ) reali1ed that my daughter would need the feed. She had to li$e in the world. ) as&ed her if she wanted it. She was a little girl. Of course she said yes. )t was installed. ")f they had not installed it ..." #e lifted his hand, and held it, li&e he was weighing %ossibilities. "They say," he told me, "that it was the late installation that made it dangerous. The brain was already wired to o%erate on its own. The feed installation was nonstandard. They ha$e also told me
" "'or what ) did. And then he began sending me shots of memory. %artway on the floor." ) said.that if ) had bought a better model. The room smelled li&e her urine. ") m sorry. staring at me." ) nodded." #e whis%ered. ) saw her lying %artway on the bed." "2ou too& her to that nightclub. ""hat could go wrong. "!oes this count. mooing li&e a cow for mercy. ) saw her %leading with her eyes. "comes so chea%. There was a bee%ing. ") s&im%ed. tangled in her sheets. %ointing at her." "Sorrow." "2ou can t blame me. Throwing hy%odermic needles at a %icture of a man with no s&in." ) said." "Sto% it. her eyes o%en but not blin&ing. ) rolled her o$er with his hands. "So &ind of you to come. ) began to cough." ""hat about what you didn t do." he said. ) saw her gagging when %arts of her throat sto%%ed wor&ing." "She—but she wanted to li$e. ""hat a nice $isit." he said. #e was sitting there. #e as&ed." ) loo&ed at her. ) rolled her o$er." #e hissed. ) remembered her in the hos%ital on the moon. " #e loo&ed at me. and the bac& of her %a-amas were blac& and wet with her shit. ) saw her thrashing on the mattress. %erha%s it would ha$e been more ada%table. ") m sorry for that. and as&ed. "'or what. li&e something hot and -ust starting to bud. +aughing. too. . She was com%letely calm. She didn t mo$e. ) remember them as&ing at the time. ) started to clean her. "hat s the difference. She told me she wanted to li$e." #e was glaring at me. and came out of the memories." ") didn t do this. She told me. ) read consumer re%orts and wondered." ""hy.
""hat does it mean. snotty." ""ill you e$er o%en your eyes. Thin." ""hat are the eloi." ")t s almost time for foosball." "So read it.ead it." ) said. but tall. "/ecause ) m sic& of —" ". ""e Americans." "2ou re sorry. and you ll &now. "'uc& you5 'uc& you5 2ou can fuc&in tell me5" ." ")t s a reference." "Tell me. with these big. "ells. real thin." "2ou can loo& it u%. 'or her courage. ""e re the land of youth. Toward the end. ") didn t throw her away. The land of o%%ortunity. #. 7o along. 7o bac& and hang with the eloi. loose hands. #e was taller than me." #e stood u%. "e ha$e no interest in how they were %roduced. 2ou made her a%ologi1e for sic&ness. 2ou made her feel sorry for dying. ")t s from The Time 4achine."2ou $e done your duty. )t will be a gala." ) ste%%ed closer to him. ""hy don t you go bac& to your friends. for how she beha$ed. or what ha%%ens to them"—he %ointed at his daughter—"what ha%%ens to them once we discard them." said her father." "Tell me. little child." ) as&ed." he said. 7." "2ou can tell me." ") m sorry. "are interested only in the consum tion of our %roducts." ".ead it." "They didn t." ") m sic& of being told ) m stu%id." ) yelled. ) didn t say anything to her." ) said. "is that you made her a%ologi1e." "And the worst thing." ") m not a -er&. but she told me she was a%ologi1ing to you for what she said." he said. the ones who teased her. 7o out and ta&e what s yours. once we throw them away" ") didn t." he said. #e said. "hy don t you go along and %lay your games.
)t was a real bargain. 3Fuck you !orever and ever and ever! Forever and ever!3 ) %ushed his arm away. their %rices s%ea&ing to me in my head. At home. ) sat on my floor.i. . ) sat.#e grabbed my shirt. ) too& off my sweatshirt. "'uc& you fore$er and e$er. #e was crying. ) was trying so hard to get them off that they ri%%ed. ) sat on the rug. )t too& me. ) m sorry. with window bo3es co$ered in ash. ) could hear him ma&e e3%losions with his mouth. ." ) wal&ed so fast ) almost ran through the house. and saying. ) sat in the middle of the floor. 'inally ) told it ) wanted to go home. ) ran out to the dri$eway. ) wal&ed around my room. ) stumbled sometimes. ) threw my bo3er shorts against the wall. ) could hear Smell 'actor %laying action figures. 4%cars flashing %ast. ) sat in the u%car. ) didn t go anywhere. the shafts. #is big. ) ordered the draft %ants from Multitude. ) didn t fly. ) heard him saying to her. ) tore at my %ants. )t nudged me and as&ed me where ) wanted to go. Trailer %ar&s on miles of concrete. ) could smell my own sweat from my folded %laces. . Miles of suburban bubbles. #e was yelling li&e a little &id. ) went for the door. "2ou couldn t hear that. Out in the hall. #e was yelling. loose hand was on my shirt. the %ods. ) m sorry. . . ) didn t answer. #e was -ust crying. ) sat. the tubes. There was a %re$iew of the season o%ener of Jlang. Com%letely na&ed. fuc& you5 'uc& you fore$er and fore$er and fore$er5 'uc& you fore$er and e$er5" ) %ushed at his arm. #is fingers were wound u% in the fabric." /efore the door shut. 'ore$er and e$er. ) sat there. ) was na&ed. There was a s%ecial on draft %ants at Multitude. could you. Pennants ad$ertising malls. "=o. ) didn t e3%ect that. ) went to my u%car. 2ou didn t hear that.
and %ac&ing.iolet s room. ) was shi$ering with the cold on my butt. ) could feel them in circulation all around me li&e blood in my $eins. and the shi%ment. ) ordered %ants after %ants. S%reading out from me. and was awa&e at dawn. #e wal&ed into the &itchen and out the bac& door. The father ste%%ed away and let me in. the transition to 'ed*3. They were slate. ) could feel them in orbit. ) %ut trac&ing orders on them. My arms were around my legs. and ) could feel them coming to me as the night %assed. the order number. Someone had laid her arms outside of the sheets. ordering. ) dressed real careful. #e didn t say anything. and the warehouse alerted. ) ordered %air after %air. ) %ut my hands on . when ) %ut on clothes.iolet s arm. the father o%ened the door. #er eyes were still o%en. ) was ordering them as 0uic&ly as ) could. li&e for a s%ecial occasion. ) had an hour before ) had to go meet 9uendy. ) went into . ) stayed u% all through the early morning. She still had the discs all o$er her. She -ust lay there. ) %ut in my address again and again. in the dead of night. ) went to $isit her. the numbers. ) could feel credit deducted. and went u% to the surface. ordering. and watched the shit( stu%id sun rise o$er the whole shit(stu%id world. "hile ) was dri$ing there. ) had no credit. shi$ering. ) could feel the %ants winging their way toward me through the night. each time. )+0Two days later. . the distribution. ) ordered them all in the same color. my customer number traded li&e secret words at a border. ) had nothing left in my account. ) trac&ed each one. "hen ) got to the house. ) tried the slee$es rolled u% and rolled down at different %laces on my bice%s. and the things all went out. ) could feel the %ac&ing.) ordered another %air. ) could feel them mo$ing through the system. ) sat beside her. ) &e%t fiddling with my shirt.
) told her that the red( suited Santa Claus we &now—the regular one. on a bridge of dreams. on the bridge of dreams. There s one story ) ll &ee% telling you. 2ou might be able to—maybe you can hear in there.iolet. and that no one &new why. had a giant sea built where he could &ee% sea monsters and ha$e na$al battles staged for him.." Outside her window. That there s nothing more than that. %ulling out %ieces of grass from where the flowers were. ) told her that the 7lobal Alliance had issued more warnings about the %ossibility of total war if their demands were not met. the girls in wet shirts offering me sham%oo. ) thought ) d tell you the news.. #e was on his hands and &nees. . . ) tried not to listen to the noise on the feed.) said. ) thought you d li&e to hear. 6ust us. ) told her what ) could. "And ) also found some things li&e you li&e. ) told her that the *m%eror =ero." ) said. her father was wor&ing in the garden. -ust tal& to you. ) ll &ee% telling it. ) told her that the "hite #ouse had not confirmed or denied re%orts that e3tensi$e bombing had started in ma-or cities in South America. About things in other %laces. ) told her. . #e %atted the dirt with his hands. ) watched him. ". ". That s all ) &new how to find. what s going on. The strange facts. So ) told her bro&en stories.—was %o%ulari1ed by the Coca(Cola Com%any in the MDNKs." ) tried to tal& -ust to her. that life is li&e wal&ing from one side of infinite dar&ness to another. They say that we re all crossing the bridge of dreams together.ome. from . The little %ieces of bro&en stories ) could find. ) told her stories.iolet. They were only a sentence long. ) told her that there had been rioting in malls all o$er America. #is feed%ac& glittered in the sun. And ) whis%ered. each one of them. . "So ) came o$er to .iolet. The s&y was blue o$er him. "There s an ancient saying in 6a%an.
by her side.2ou re the story. ) don t want you to forget. in her blan& eye. when he meets a dissident with a heart of gold. and she stared at the ceiling." ) whis%ered. 'or language." ) said. really heartwarming. ) held her hand. and ) told her the story of us. . "hen you wa&e u%. ) want you to remember yourself." ) sat in her room.ales >vent! ." And for the first time. >verything must go. it s the highs%irited story of their lo$e together. sitting by her bed. . ) started crying. the two cra1y &ids grow. as long as ) can remember you. ")t s about this meg normal guy. "Together. This is the story. and a $isual feast. who doesn t thin& about anything until one wac&y day." ) said.ated P7(MN. On a screen. ) could see my face. crying. >verything must go. ) whis%ered to her fingers. "Set against the bac&dro% of America in its final days. and learn an im%ortant lesson about lo$e. ")t s about the feed. ) &now you so well. ooo Feeling blue? Then dress blue! It2s the $lue-=ean Warehouse2s Final ." ) %ic&ed u% her hand and held it to my li%s. ) cried. As long as someone &nows you. 2ou re still there. >verything must go. ha$e madca% esca%ades. it s laugh(out(loud funny. ) m going to remember. her heart was barely beating. "and mild se3ual situations.tock is 1ust !lying o!! the shel$es at rices so low you won2t believe your !eed! >verything must go! >verything must go. They learn to resist the feed. ) could dri$e a simulator.