Post-modern play about future technologies
conflicting with human moral imperatives.
Should I be rid of my R.I.D.? Like eyeless Oedipus,
— Johnny, in deep dreamtime blackout
[Johnny, strapped upright, optical wires spouting from his forehead, is getting uploaded with illegally obtained data. He is masked, with a mirrory sunglass type set-up obscuring his eyes; we can see his mouth as he talks, the wires, at forehead level, his hair, but nothing else; he is gowned from the neck down, his figure invisible under the surgical green cloth.] JOHNNY My harassing dreams are meaningless. Stray formulae, hit-and-miss bits snipping my sniping synapses to a rhumba beat of ones and zeroes. No holy trinity zings in to save me, beating seraphic wings. My world is base-2 grounded. My skull's amorphous; its contents, even in snore-storage, bleat and repeat more pay-worthy information than any other ten-thousand humans CAN carry, burdened by the kludgey input of pubic ed. I, however, am access-inhibited. A closed Coney Island of iridescent graphics and save-the-world synthetic cure-alls circulates in my limitless skull, but I can't touch it, can't initiate the flip-switch that spills the light to some dark outside, anyplace my frowning face inhabits, that my tongue triangulates. I'll never know what I know; know-it-all knowledge landmine, with my tongue unplugged. But I can carry it, whisk it from here to elsewhere. I can; its in there. Incessantly at dreamtime, my miming mind gets ultravivid vid-bits of wacked static. Images. Gross sub-subconscious stuff, weird feels spastic up and down my electric skin, or weird-wired sequences of neon numbers and zapping sounds. But meaningless, all of it, meaningless, meaningless, all quite meaningless. I would hazard that I'm disastered, at a loss, but I've no way to calculate that fact. I used to dream all the time, regular stuff, lollygag days stealing crack from the local hook-up.... He was too trashed on his own white stash to notice, half the time. A cyan-dilated Heaven-high in his fixed-open eyes. I'd sell it, get a corndog and six Mars bars, beat it back to the old-time asphalt shingles on the roof of my uncle's rain-ruinous bodega, splay out, soak in the sunshine long afternoons, doing nothing, sleeping and belching. At least, those were my dreams, if they were mine, if that's my childhood I dream and remember; if not, well it's still pretty pleasant, and who cares nowadays about a stasis-source for self anyway? I'm whatever I make myself up as; that's a fact. A fiction. Whatever. All that real/unreal talk just gives me whiplash. Leave that for the saliva merchants running the country. [JOHNNY's mask flips up, lightwires start to flash off and on as if winding down their operations. He has silver eyes, utterly opaque.] JOHNNY Chrome eyes. Edged metal moistened by living eyelid, delicate lashes moving over a silverfield. First thing people notice about me. No pupil, no targeting center for other eyes to eye. Where is the person if you can't see how they see you, spy you out into existence? My R.I.D. Retinal Input Device. Let's me do my courier service work, aboveboard or below; legit jobbing pays OK, but when I can, I'll smuggle the odd gigabyte. Not a customs service in the world can decrypt the human brain; any kind of scan they've got to buzz me with, I come up normal pigflesh; my eyes scan out a standard blind-eyes cure. You know, modern medicine. No abnormalities flood up to their peeping screens. Hey, they never could read your thoughts, now could they? [Lightwires fall from his forehead.] TECHNICIAN ONE Download sequencing complete. JOHNNY Lightwires slip out of my head like ejaculated neon spaghetti, dangling dark at the slick ends of motor arm that disappear into recessed wall sockets, light into black, like always, even in those cold Nordic sagas. Lightwires up the compression algorithm geometrically, folding infospace as distinctly and compactly as my emerald cerebrum. Maybe it crowds out a few faces from my past in the process, but, then, maybe I don't mind that so much. It's an information economy, as they say, and nobody'll pay shit for personal mem. Would you? All this stuff they've got here, sparkling and dark in this wild Hong Kong lab, very fine, very hifi. A technician applies carefully and fast a ring of band-aids around the top of my head, where the lightwires exited, giving me a sticky and dead red crown of thorns, automatic antibacterial sinking into the incisions, as he nudges me out of this sooped-up dentist's chair. TECHNICIAN ONE Bonnie banzai, rocketman. Good fucking luck. Talk to Aldo before you bolt, though. This isn't the usual zip and run, Johnny-san. [TECHNICIAN ONE offers JOHNNY a disingenuous glance of mock-condolence, then grins, his teeth a high-decibel purple, a new craze on the vids.] TECHNICIAN ONE Bye bye. I'm going virtual before the Yakuza snap the plastic on this little secret set-up and spike my hard drive. So, don't you try to contact me in any way. I won't be in touch, so don't you be in touch. OK Johnny-san? JOHNNY Before you wipe: I just want to make sure; half the pay charge is in my account. TECHNICIAN ONE [Tosses what looks like a credit card to Johnny.] Sure, Johnny-san. No problemo, lobo. Grand Caymen account, locked on your vid and voiceprint. Would've used a retinal lock too, but you've got those crazy eyes. JOHNNY Yeah. Drives the girls wild. TECHNICIAN ONE [Hits a button, a plane ticket to L.A. prints out, he hands it to JOHNNY.] Here's the plane ticket to your destination. Fastest ram-scoop out of this piss-hole; you leave in one hour. Talk to Aldo. [ALDO comes over; he has been wandering around the set, helping with small clean-up chores, disassembling the illegal set-up.] ALDO Let's get scarce. That boy's going to be harder to detect than a rat's fart in a thunderstorm. These insert jerks like to pry open your skull, give it a lightwire fry, dump their hump of illicit gigabyte, and then scram. Very anti-human, like you're just one more output device. JOHNNY Which, I guess, I am. ALDO Hell of a way to make a living. JOHNNY Man, my head is aching. What'd these geeks do to me? ALDO Like narrow-eyes said, this ain't the usual zip and run. You've been arced. Its a chaotic compression pattern, running a Mandelbrot sequence encoded into heavily drugged synapses so that the pattern is decay resistant. The chem-net they installed infiltrates in micron-doses your slumbering baby's brain with a dreamless wash of thought preservatives, pickled like a dino-fetus in some up-to-date modern form of rheumy amber, keeping the natural chaotic decay of that hot archived info to a cool blue minimum. Even so, some decay's inevitable, that's the law of the world, every night our organized self unfolds from neat daytime to the wildness of dreams, each morning the face in the mirror's a stranger, randomer and randomer until it wakes up dead. Law of the world. That's why, on the other end, when they catch you back to earth, my Johnny-san, they've got a complexity adaptor rigged up somewhere. I don't know where. Your contact knows where, and I'm sure they'll tell you then, or take you blindfold to their nest. That adaptor sees the pattern inherent in chaotic decay trends, reads between the lines, and forms a self-solving extraction-equation on the spot. Very complicated stuff. They'd need some mondo big machines, hombre, to do what your three pounds of swiss cheese is doing. But let me warn you, you've ONLY got twenty-four, count 'em, twenty-four hours to get that gelled-in sequence out of your primate skull. Otherwise, well.... JOHNNY Otherwise, what? ALDO If you don't get decoded in that magic twenty-four, that single day, well, then, then.... JOHNNY Then.... ALDO Uncoiling random lines of information will begin to unleash themselves inside your head, synaptic leakage occurs, and all of that archived information will start to decompress. That much information would require an aircraft carrier of brain tissue to exist in an unarchived state; all that information unfolding in a space the size of a small loaf of Italian bread. JOHNNY But what's that really mean? What would happen to me? ALDO Maybe you can't blink; some part of an equation flares out and takes over the blink synapse in your head. Can't blink, nothing much, right? So what, right? Can't blink, your eyes dry up, get little itty bitty dust motes in them, collapse back into your skull irretrievably infected. Can't blink, you're blind inside a couple of hours. Eventually more and more of the compressed data will snake out into the surrounding tissue, filling it up with information that's different from what's there now ... your memories, what your name is, what planet you're on. And it would progress geometrically, unfolding, unfolding, each fold unfolding another flower to unfold; after a few minutes, your life would disappear in a clashing hash of indecipherable statics. It's like Alzheimer's, except that instead of emptying out your mind to some sun-blitzed Bhudda's zero-sum, its kicking into hydrocephalic overdrive, filling it with thin physics-ribbons of stuff these techie-sans get hard-ons just thinking about. Eventually, you just forget how to breathe, you lay down somewhere, or are kept catatonically erect by some wrong-wired misfire, but not breathing, forgetting breath. Wouldn't even think to call out to your Mommy; she wouldn't exist for you. Then you die. Total information degrade. Nobody'd even want your head, then. The Company's logo hardwired on your medulla oblongata. Irreversible wet-crash, Johnny-san. JOHNNY Can't I just keep micro-dosing this brain-freeze drug? ALDO You could, but its kind of like curari; works by paralyzing the synaptic messengers into a hardwired state. If it didn't kill you outright, or convince your heart to stop for a beat too long, I guess It'd eventually just hardwire everything in your head pretty much the way it is now. No new information processing could go on. You'd be Atari Pong, stuck in an eternal Now state. Might be some people's idea of Nirvana, but its not mine. Same blip going back and forth between the same, two switches. Whatever your last thought was before the curari slammed it in its pasted place, that's what you'd be thinking forever. If you were pissing, you'd be on permanent drain. This stuff's poison to both human and rat anatomies. It poisons you, but not fatally, not for, let's say, a week. Of course, nobody's been on a micron filtration drip of pure taxtaxinol for a week.... But you could be the first one. JOHNNY I don't think I want to find out. ALDO I didn't think so. [JOHNNY presses a small hypodermic gun to his neck with the ease of a practiced move. A small hiss escapes from the gun.] JOHNNY Stim. ALDO A real vim and vigor lifter. Give you a real adrenaline sheen. Noticeable to the right eyes. JOHNNY Or the wrong ones. ALDO That slick shit'll jump you up higher than the Kwannon Towers. JOHNNY I've got a feeling this is going to be an extended duty 24 in realtime. ALDO Hey, if you can't hack reality, you've got some real bottom line considerations. JOHNNY Yeah, well, reality's what you make of it, they say. ALDO Test everything. Don't let anyone slip one doped chip past you. Fastest way in the world to get fucked, Johnny. Ain't even gonna have time to cap it with a condom. Test everything. One slip, and, man, your cherry's gone. JOHNNY Thanks for the advice. What's your angle on all this, anyway? ALDO Born right here on the mainland. Upright walking, jive talking, mother fuckin' chinaman, Jack. Won't never take that back. A real Hong Kong-born, majong-playing ace of spades. Slipperiest citizenship in the world, and don't think that ain't useful. Never been anywhere else-- and I don't need to go either. Whole world plugs into Hong Kong, if they've got anything to trade, that is. And everybody's got something they'll give up for something else-- as long as that something else is something they ain't never had. They say dreams are priceless. I seen that price get fixed every day out on the street. Only problem is, sometimes that price is more than you've got to pay. JOHNNY Why's this information so important to the Tigris Company anyway? ALDO I don't know. Maybe they've got a serious case of tech-envy. JOHNNY Very serious. ALDO Hey, it's not my job to know. I'm just supposed to help get the info from one black box to the next. JOHNNY Yeah. Except that this black box has got ears. ALDO Like I said: helluva way to make a living. JOHNNY Use my lauded head to ferry other people's genius. Why not? Lotta first class plane ride everywhere. Good money. It's easy. Get where you're going, they dump you out, leave you high and dry, the way I like it. Plenty of little free shrimp on those plane rides too. Use your head, I heard that all my life. Well, what else am I going to do with it anyway, right? ALDO All these gleaming things. They don't mean that much to me. Regular food and a sweet woman, that's my gig. Hell, I still read the paper. Print it out. Old-fashioned, hard copy format. Put my feet up. That sort of thing. Pretty dull, huh? But you, Johnny, this stuff's just a part of who you are, like a high-impact ceramic skeleton, an indelible skull like the ace racers hov-jet with. Another gleaming thing, those racing shells fighting the 500 mark. You, Johnny, you're inside the shine. It ain't gonna catch you. You're lucky. You're inside. All these gleaming things. I live with 'em; I live near 'em. But you-- you got them in your bone and brain. They're in you, and you're in them, Johnny. You're inside the shine. JOHNNY Why didn't you ever plug in, Aldo? The money's easy. ALDO Do I look crazy? This head's gonna stay just the way Mrs. Howard squeezed it out of herself. Call me old-fashioned, but there's still a place for the un- enhanced flat-Jacks like me out on the street. JOHNNY I hope there always will be. ALDO You ain't just laughing out your ass, digital boy. Now just unplug before the Tigris Company's Yakuza swat-team us with their late-night John Belushi impression. JOHNNY Samurai roadkill. You leaving? ALDO No. I'll stay here. Like I've done all of my life. Besides, these guys obviously need some help cleaning up. Still gotta wipe your own ass, even if you use mylar substrate, right? Now pretend you're a photon and wave. G'bye. G'bye. [Exit JOHNNY.] BALLET SEQUENCE [A troop of Yakuza enter, elegantly dressed. All strip to beautifully tattooed waists, including women. Except Jiriki. Yakuza kill everyone in the room, including ALDO, destroying machinery. One data screen remains active. As destruction goes on all about, Jiriki goes to the screen, inserts a small datapad, and types rapidly. A kitten is killed, the left-behind pet of some technician. After everyone is dead, Jiriki looks up from the data-display with a smile.] JIRIKI L. A.
TAKEHASHI My vision splays and jags. Hyped on hypnotic displays day after day, I echo its electronic rush and hiss to fulfillment, but feel a lingering emptiness. Click on a dithered executive, ash suit, conned and conning conservative attire, tired and still aspiring-- to what skyscrapered height, I don't know! My Zen discipline isn't winning against this info-loaded argosy a subsidized rice-farmer's son hunched rice-ball bunched into as a sound career alt. [TAKEHASHI swings a beautiful samurai sword, beaten 500 times.] Stainless steel, diamond-dusted edge. This jaded blade cuts nothing that knows not that it is a blade. Out of what air-blasted, time-lined avatar vat came you, my thin insistence on tradition and razor-meaning pressed swishing into the plastic circuit board of my quantum solid-state and existential existence? This filtered air riffs against me, nearly frictionless. SECRETARY Sir, I apologize wide-eyed, but... TAKEHASHI ...Jiriki has arrived. SECRETARY Hai! [Clicks off.] TAKEHASHI A good Yakuza makes his enemies work for him, slaved to his live and deciding PC. This causes the enemy the greatest humiliation, and is useful to the slave-owner. [Enter JIRIKI.] TAKEHASHI Report to me on the disposition of the data. JIRIKI All of the smuggler's team have been executed. TAKEHASHI They were traitors to their company. No flag, no combine, no country even of the wallet. They have no honor. There are of no concern to us, alive or dead. We are the warring Yakuza. Report to me on the disposition of the data. JIRIKI They had stolen the information to sell to another firm. TAKEHASHI You are not telling me anything I do not already know! We lost the illicit bid for the illegal information to a darker contender, and your team was to put that right and get us the goods, honto-pronto! You are insolent, as when you trained under me, Jiriki. Do not let your film-noire arrogance betray you as it has betrayed these slaughtered smugglers. Arrogance has a narrow gravity-well; its multi-dimensional slopes are error-prone honed to a slippery slickness and may not allow any devious slant of light an exit. Beware. I assume that you do not want to be tripped and tipped into the same lamb's fate they have met with. JIRIKI The data was wiped from their equipment. TAKEHASHI Word on the street is that the traitors wiped the Zony mainframe before they began this charade that has led to their deaths. JIRIKI If this is true, Zony will no longer be a viable competitor on the international market for anything, except, perhaps, baby food. TAKEHASHI Undoubtedly they are wailing like babies now, surreally angry, and willing to crap on and slap at anything and anyone that is between them and their still-warm bottle of dada data before their powdered milk of resources evaporates. Do you have any intelligence confirming the mainframe wipedown? JIRIKI No. I apologize, Takehashi-san. I have failed. TAKEHASHI Nevertheless, Zony will still undoubtedly be quite anxious to recover their data. JIRIKI Hai. TAKEHASHI We must see that this does not happen. Our sources happened onto their data heist by accident. A lucky coincidence, allowing us to sabotage the saboteurs. By this killing we may have already shown our hand to our enemies; Zony will know that they are not alone in their quest for the stolen data. We must trust to speed and ruthless efficiency. Tigris demands that there be no failure in this regard. JIRIKI It is doubtful that Zony has even heard of the execution of their traitors yet. TAKEHASHI Don't be ridiculous. We must simply hope that our own handprints are no too clearly distinguishable in the flooded blood of the Hong Kong debacle. JIRIKI All clean-kill procedures were followed. TAKEHASHI And the data, the data was already gone.... JIRIKI Hai, Takehashi-san. I regret we were not on-site quickly enough to prevent their strip-destruction of the courier-insertion copy. TAKEHASHI And the courier himself has escaped. JIRIKI Regretfully. TAKEHASHI There are only a sticky-handed handful of conglomerates that could profit by receipt of such data. But which sinning one is the courier headed for? JIRIKI There was no mold of a clue remaining on-site. TAKEHASHI Regretful that there is no one left alive to tell us. JIRIKI It is best to leave no witnesses. TAKEHASHI Secrecy is of vital importance. Zony is a serious competitor. I believe you will remember the last time. JIRIKI Yes. My brother will not come back to life. TAKEHASHI It was... regretful... what happened to your brother. JIRIKI Yes. Our information was faulty. TAKEHASHI There was no way to know that. JIRIKI Hai! Yakuza-san. TAKEHASHI Hai! Yakuza! [Pause.] A Zony vendetta is to be feared and avoided. If they do not come to understand that we, Tigris, are involved, then they cannot retaliate until it is too late. Once we have the data, and word hits the market that Zony's mainframe is merely an empty shell, their stock will plummet, and they will cease to be a viable threat. To anyone. JIRIKI I was able to discover where the courier was headed. TAKEHASHI Tell me. [JIRIKI pauses.] TAKEHASHI Immediately! JIRIKI [Shrugs.] Los Angeles. TAKEHASHI You must go there at once, without your team. We cannot risk broadcasting our presence. Take the next flight. Immediately. JIRIKI I already have. [The next thing we see is JIRIKI taking off her VR goggles; we realize that she was holo-conferencing with TAKEHASHI the entire time.]
[JIRIKI is revealed removing her vid goggles aboard a transpacific flight.] JIRIKI My highflying banzai eye skips the scudding pacific effortless-- what a beautiful rueful day! Takehashi's all frantic-splenetic at our catastrophe. My failure to nab with carbon-based hands what precise, silicon plans demand. Like Hitler diminished to his third-tier Third Reich and subconscious bunker, Takehashi sees his Pacific Rim's Tojo-Axis red all over the watery map, arrowing out the victory track past burning men still smouldering in their bombed-out Panzers. His hyped holographic highrise of Yakuza supremacy will vanish beneath his florsheim's one night in a bit-instant, every at-attention one twisted round to zeroes all unable to give purchase to his slick, stamping heel. Takehashi's ghost of willfulness courses through his black enraged eye, a collapsing star of small-mindedness bending every rearing ray to its quicksand sinkhole like VanGogh's one, sultry, sunken raven punching through the blazing wheatfields at Ardennes. Asian Ahab with a wooden heart to my step-at-fetch-it Starbuck, we spit our spatting, snapping histrionics on a tilting deck of pressed circuits, themselves star-stuff like the rest of us, waiting a rapid hint of free electrons to surge and shine. My brother, if you can hear me from your lacquered level of purging purgatory even now, burn knowing that I will not be caught saluting that jerk when his personal, vortexing apocalypse appears reeling him to the crushing no-space of a quasar by the torqued tongue-instrument of his own freshly pressed tie.
[JIRIKI sits at a bar with her back to the audience. We do not recognize her until JOHNNY talks to her and JIRIKI turns around. JOHNNY does not realize that this isn't his legitimate contact, but we do.] JOHNNY A charming establishment. JIRIKI Yes. I come here often; its in the neighborhood. JOHNNY Really? I've never been. JIRIKI Well, then, welcome, Mr.... JOHNNY Oedipus. Rex Oedipus. JIRIKI Mr. Oedipus. JOHNNY Do you have the other half of the payment? JIRIKI [Holding up paycard.] In this account. Do you have the data? JOHNNY Its staring at you. JIRIKI Ah. Yes. The so-called wild eyes. JOHNNY You are very beautiful. JIRIKI An irrelevant comment, Mr. Oedipus. JOHNNY I've had one sweat of a day. JIRIKI It is very pleasant to meet you as well; I never knew someone who'd hollow out their skull for a few dollars, or a plain yen-infestation of their bank account. It seems a dirty thing; a soul perverted to pay a bill. But I guess some people are in paradise if they can sell one kidney to keep the other one slummed in beer. JOHNNY Yeah, well. Its real nice to meet you too. JIRIKI Tell me,-- do you mind if I call you Mr. O?-- Tell me, Mr. O, what's it like to sleep with a girl, do her, to fool your body into its measured, rhythmed dick-tick of boy-joy and juice expenditure and not know if that woman sleeping next to you, a swollen lust-bunny and tired angel, was your fucked mother or reamed-out sister? What does it feel like? I have a squat, powerful curiosity. JOHNNY What the fuck is your game? You some kind of mag-lev perv, getting off by being so repellent? JIRIKI Hey, whatever shoots your goose. Right, Mr. Oedipussy? [Pause.] Tell me, have you ever hunted? JOHNNY I don't really have the downtime. And, besides, the preserves are smaller than God's Providence these days; ten snapping Nikons to every twitching bush. JIRIKI The killing attracts me. In parts of China you can still buy out a bushido-style lancing safari. Very black market, but the officials are as corrupt as cancer out there. JOHNNY I've heard that they don't even have eye-in-the-terminal bigbrother technology in the ditches there yet. JIRIKI Some places in China are still very primitive. Occasionally you run pell-mell across an entire village that still believes in Mao's little Red Book. JOHNNY The bioluminescent tatoo artist in this neighborhood is very good, I hear. JIRIKI Yes. Fine work. JOHNNY He once did a bird-of-paradise on a sumo wrestler's kicking midriff, with mating display air sacs that could fool to wooing another bird-of-paradise. Or so I hear. JIRIKI I have seen it in photographs. JOHNNY They say that the wrestler keeled over at Mickey-Ds, trying to keep up his wrestling weight, and they cut the neon-suave tatoo out of him there and then. JIRIKI Yes. Its true. JOHNNY They say its on display at the MOMA now. JIRIKI Indeed it is. JOHNNY Say, if you're from this neighborhood, you must know Aldo. Grew up around here somewhere. Been in the business forever. JIRIKI Oh sure. Aldo. Great guy. JOHNNY Hey, I've got a splitting headache. Do you mind.... JIRIKI Go ahead. Don't take any aspirin, though. It'll throw the micron readings off. [JOHNNY gets up and heads towards the bathroom.] JIRIKI Spired and alive on my freemarket highwire, I perform fearless feats against the cold quartz clock. Zipped from a split-screen meeting with holographic Takehashi, I rocked my supersonic ass across the Pacific doublequick. Speed Racer erasing this distance. All the Hong Kong flights had their outbound relays delayed by my chortling cohorts at HK International Airway; the skyglide had some fractil gravel flipped beneath its sweet, silver, sweptback wings-- cha-ching! And now I'm here, and in the clear to zero-out my Rex's rich head to a lopped-off nullity. When he gets back from his piss and patented head-tread massage-o-matic in the bathroom-- vvvvipp! I'll bowling-bag back the crimson lump of data to my restless master pacing his eterna-wear carpeting back to pressboard. Ha ha. Life's easy, sinuous, and free. Everything is possible with the right backer. [In the bathroom.] JOHNNY Shit. I've gotta get out of here. That's not my contact. [JOHNNY presses at the edge of the sealed window; it gives.] JOHNNY Test everything. [A minute later, JIRIKI comes into the bathroom, dashes out the window.]
[Interior of vidiphone. JOHNNY has just escaped JIRIKI using a hologram. He punches in, using a phonecard lifted from someone along the way so its untraceable. Calls his X-girl. She's in a rockband, but very sheik hi-exec type. Has serious Madonna-class negotiation skills.] JOHNNY Lean adrenaline shifts into me, giving Stim-shakes to my wimpy limbs. Fetal-curled in my plastic cocochannel-scented and probably soon to become tomb-- too soon tombed, I punch for who, sweet Lord!, who to be my last treasured gasp of the realistic-fantastic? I had thought my 24 hours more blatantly impastoed than this fate's twisty titty-twist. I need my gaping grave's immeasurable reveries to be more fly-thick with incident before I'll refuse to whinny and kick the presswood coffinlid back into outer space, like that 2-3-5 proportion propulsed icon-object in Odyssey 2001, hon. I've fobbed this soggy callcard from a alley-plunked drunk, some Stim-junkie swilled into unconscious bliss in a cobalt drool pool two zagged blocks back. That Yakuza semen-storage device gave chase, and I accepted. A mistake. [Puts card in machine.] Who do I know in L.A.? Memory, memory, work, work; this screen's empty as a lily, pale blank, waiting for my shivering fingers to remember some name. C'mon, guys, type! Here, I'll help you: here's a mnemonic code I heard in the first grade. [Sing-songs:] abcdefg-hijklmnop.....qrstu...vw...xy and z. [Pause.] X, y, and z. XYZ. X! X! X-cetera! [JOHNNY types, an instant later we hear:] XCETERA You've rocked it in the socket and locked onto the X-girl. Have a sip of saki and state your business or you're not getting on the guestlist. JOHNNY Uh, hello, Xcetera? XCETERA Glistening. JOHNNY Um.... Do you remember me? XCETERA Not yet. [She looks at info offscreen, reads.] Howard Chicichigano? JOHNNY Uh no, this is Johnny. I'm sure they're radaring the net for me. XCETERA Johnny! Well, I do remember you. How've you been? Are you in wow-town? Why'd you call me? JOHNNY I'm not really sure. I remembered your name. Kinda flamed out at me. XCETERA Ought to flame after that game we played last time we got together. Who's looking for you? And who's Howard Chicichigano anyway? JOHNNY I lifted that card. And, I'm not sure who's after me. XCETERA You always were sorta absent-minded. Absent mind, but what a grind! Hey, Johnny, are you OK? You look a little shivery, out-of-focus, you know? JOHNNY Slightly unmanageable Stim-adrenaline overcharge. Muscleclature's having trouble stabilizing in just three dimensions. XCETERA Oh, baby. You need to relax. Is that vidphone VR capable? JOHNNY Yeah, it seems to be. But what.... XCETERA I was sure it would be. Well, I was thinking, y'know, for old times' sake.... JOHNNY Jesus H., what makes you so horny, Xcetera? XCETERA C'mon! It's not like you ever call. JOHNNY No, really, I don't have time for this. XCETERA Do you want my help or not? JOHNNY I need your help.... XCETERA Into the pressure sheath then. I don't want to miss one wiggle of that x-tra cute bod of yours. JOHNNY Xcetera! XCETERA Velcro-up and initiate, toyboy. [JOHNNY reluctantly slips into a superthin mylar sheath that will give sensation feedback to the wearer. To us, it looks like he is in a martian sleeping bag.] XCETERA [Licking her lips.] Virt time! I hope you don't mind if I make you an American Gladiator. [JOHNNY's sheath is still. XCETERA begins horny monologue; eventually his mylar sleeping bag begins to wiggle.] XCETERA There it is, sinner, beneath an open, mesmerized sky anti-aliased electric blue: Our white, sweet, antique, chrome-loaded chevy Impala, baby, locked on automatic pilot. I used to honk the obtruding horn whenever our motions got too close in bliss during our erotic rovings-- two self-willed adolescents yearning to breed free! Remember its triple, Italianate accent? Reep reep reeppii! Push back the leather strap--- there, there, no, there! Oh Johnny, jiggle over and give us a kiss. [Pause.] Your hot tongue's the last word in virtual thrill; my teeth must ai carumba! for another shove and jangle just like that. I thought a honed, rainbowed Nevada skyline would smack of just the right, apocalyptic bliss. See, the green, flora-chlorafilled cacti are all erect... ripe! Spikes as sopped as tugged jugulars against a radiant, pristine me. Lick the tender effigy you see clean of sweat. My smiles abandon fashion and curl into self-fulfilling fractals now. Oh Johnny. Your wildly styled eyes are x-raying a cinematic me to glory. Lord, if your insisting gospels had half his insinuating touch, I'd snake my way to mass on bleeding knees to get your blood and body in my mouth. Johnny, I'm transparent-ecstatic beneath your advancing glance. Is there something in this rush of fluids that has a spine? You make me see myself rolled back to one primeval ache. It must be love! Double-gloved and lightwired, as we seem to be, each compelling touch is rough-rouged or cozened by the hot electronic mist this interface imposes; I know that what's boning me to this unreal glow is real-feel real, dear. Can't you feel it too, my Johnny? That dactylic riff, the idyllic lick I apply in alarming lures to your swiftly constructed skin? Lurid under the instant thunderstorm, and plowing 90 down the road, the rains, the rains, are hissing lovish appellations as we reach our applauding finish. JOHNNY That almost did finish me. XCETERA Confess: you never could resist my wishes, dishy. JOHNNY Ahh, phew. [Stepping out of sleeping bag.] Now, about that minor assistance I was asking about. Can you safehouse me? I'm going to require some major in-tech support. XCETERA No can do, babearoo. JOHNNY But Xcetera! XCETERA Sorry, joyguy, we're just two halves of a double helix that pass and kiss in the gene pool. Look, I've got to go on tour in exactly 39 and 1/2 minutes. All the Pacific Rim wants a twist at Xcetera. Can I help it if I'm the most popular girl in highschool? And this time, I didn't have to blow all the jocks to get there. I'm not going to flummox my own success for any brain-fry cadet, I don't care how annoyingly vulnerable he is. [Pause; no response from JOHNNY.] Hey, Johnny, you look seriously cruised. You should check in somewhere, chicano amano. JOHNNY Yeah, well, I guess I'll do that then. You know, you can be a real harsh miss sometimes, Xcetera. A sinister bitch. XCETERA Si-- and I mean sigh-- onara. [JOHNNY, drained, staggers down the street a few paces, collapses near the bum who's callingcard he lifted, Stim-twitching in restless dream.]
[JIRIKI has circled back to the bar in search of JOHNNY. Her cellular phone rings, bleeps. It is TAKEHASHI.] JIRIKI Jiriki. TAKEHASHI Report. JIRIKI Takehashi-san. Things... have not gone well. TAKEHASHI Report on the disposition of the data. JIRIKI The courier is at large in L. A. But he is weak, confused. TAKEHASHI Where is the data? JIRIKI Still with the courier. TAKEHASHI You have failed me, Jiriki. JIRIKI Yes, Takehashi-san. TAKEHASHI This is not honorable. JIRIKI Hai! TAKEHASHI I shall be in L. A. in three hours. Locate the courier. But do nothing until I arrive. JIRIKI Hai! TAKEHASHI Do not fail me as your brother did, Jiriki. JIRIKI Yes, Takehashi-san. [TAKEHASHI clicks off. JIRIKI's face is underlit as he punches into the Net to find out where JOHNNY's scurried to.] JIRIKI Bashed and abolished in Takehashi's ramping eye, I stare a chastened tiger left to nose his noosing confines and drink the grateful milk his captors trickle to his imprisoned dish. Raarr!! I'll not confine my blood-browsing to our target-flesh, but turn, a battered parricide of sorts, on whatever white-cuffed, pleasant hand has held me to my permitted meats. My brother's lolling neck was gnashed on monofilament barbedwire that night we hit the chip printing installation at our paid enemy's glass-towered camp. Takehashi had rushed the singing wire blind and sent out a piercing, high-decibel trill beseech-screeching loudly at the starred sky. I remember my dash-mastering brother's final act: a silhouette against the nothing of the night, losing an untouchable gush of blood from his carotid... he still held himself lightly against gravity and the light tripping of the metal threat alarm. I saw him die upright, trying to save us all in the spasm aftermath of the foiled attack. And Takehashi saw what I had seen. Their security satellite's relay microwaved retaliation at our matt backs, dull in absorbent black. We raced beneath our cheap, starlight-reflective mylars through the burning grass. I mirrored to the android submersible to pick us up like sandfleas off the shore. A mile out, through the transparent serpent of the periscope I watched my hopeless brother's body burn high on the midnight wires like Christ deified.
[JOHNNY's X-girl finds him unconscious on the street of his previous scene. She administers some sort of medicine to him.] XCETERA Half-alive. You've got to live with all of your skin, and everything writhing within. What do I keep telling you, Johnny? This high-mem courier gig is for encephalitics, not my sweet thing. Oh Johnny, Oh God. You felt so nervous-alive in the Virt box. God. [JOHNNY moans, stirs.] That's it, that's it, keep on rocking. I can't believe your vital stats are so frayed and bad. You're boxed in with the reaper already, nearly. You're in the knocking room, the knocking room. Wake up, Johnny. Johnny. Look who came to you. [JOHNNY wakes.] JOHNNY What the hell are you doing here? XCETERA You looked a little albino around the gills; so, I ran a simulation based on physio signs picked up via vid, calculated a probable knock-out radius, and here I am. ....You're the only horizontal thing on the street besides that bum who's callcard you stole. JOHNNY Quite a pair. XCETERA Why, thank you. JOHNNY No, not you. Nevermind. I thought you had a flight to catch, a concert to lullaby at in Adorationland. XCETERA You know, I keep telling myself: Beautiful, stop thinking with your vulva, stop thinking with your vulva, stop thinking with your vulva. But, by the third vulva, I've forgotten all the other words in the sentence. JOHNNY All right, all right. I'm sorry. Thank you for saving my ass, your highness. XCETERA You should talk to me like that more often. I night be inclined to do a little more than dust your sorry ass off and send you monorailing on your way. JOHNNY I hear you, I hear you. XCETERA If I'm going to be involved in this, I want to know everything. You'd better come clean right now; dump your core, Johnny, or I'll have to spacewalk out of this sorry scenario right now. I can't operate in the dark. I'm not going to end up in some Multi-User Dungeon on the darqside just for you, screwball. JOHNNY All right. Here it is. I've got less than seven heavenly hours to eep and decompress my utterly overly compressed brain, or I'll splurge my neuron-trodes all over your shiny shiny boots in one big ugly way. XCETERA You've arced your meat hardcore. JOHNNY Yeah. Something like that. And if I don't unzip and download soon.... XCETERA .... its a lifetime winter vay-cay in lovely Catatonia. JOHNNY Something like that. XCETERA You know, I'm starting to not like you all over again. JOHNNY It's like the first time again for me too, darling. XCETERA As it is, I'm going to call a friend of mine who might be able to hack your ass out of this mess, sweetness. JOHNNY No. Absolutely not. I don't want to involve any strangers in this. Have to keep a zip-ship encryption-strict security girdle on this or its a total no-go. XCETERA Speed dialing. JOHNNY Xcetera.... XCETERA Connect. JESUS [Online.] Jesus Saves Refuse Unlimited. XCETERA Can the salespitch, Jesus. This is Xcetera. JESUS Hey, I thought I read that you were on tour. XCETERA Well, I am scheduled to depart in 06 minutes. JESUS Well crack my ass, you didn't have to call to say goodbye. XCETERA Jesus, please, don't let that moniker go to your pretty head. This is Xcetera, after all. JESUS Well, then, what's the deal. XCETERA My friend here is sick, real sick. JESUS Put his head up against the phone. [JOHNNY leans over, puts his head against it.] JESUS [Low, appreciative whistle.] Wow. That must hurt like a motherfucker. What'd you do, use your head to storage a surreptitious copy of the entire human genome? JOHNNY Something like that. JESUS Wow.... XCETERA Can you download him? Jesus. JESUS I don't know. No. Not with anything I have here. There's no hardware to work on in there. Its all just lapsed synapses fluxing in a steady-state, tripping the same billion handful of neurons back and forth, waiting to be read-and-released. Right? JOHNNY Right. Aldo said something about the download device creating a self-defining decryption algorithm. JESUS Yes, that makes sense, given the encryption medium's inherent chaotic tenancies. But you's need something alot more sensitive than an MRI to read the initial-state synapse status. I'm afraid there's not a damn thing that I can do to help you. XCETERA Shit. JESUS You'd better find your contact person split-second fast and let them wedge you out to download status pronto. You've already got some pretty serious neural degrade. JOHNNY Great. My contact was killed. JESUS Go to wherever he came from then. But I can't really help.... So, Xcetera, is your tour cancelled, or just the first concert, you diva-vixen yeowl-howler? I was kind of looking forward to catching you on MTV. JOHNNY But I don't know what company my contact represented! [Noticing he's being ignored.] Jesus Christ! JESUS I told you I can't help you. I don't have the set-up for anything nearly that complex in biotech reach. You're fucked and hexed, rex. XCETERA Jesus, is there anyplace around that might have equipment sensitive enough to help Johnny out? JESUS Well.... JOHNNY Yes... yes.... JESUS There might be one place. Down in the valley. XCETERA Praise the Lord. JESUS And pass the ashes. I did some freelance consulting at this one place last spring, bringing their trash facilities in line with Kalifornia's new eco-standards. I remember seeing a sign in the valley for an experimental decryption facility.... JOHNNY Oh great. And I'm going to let a garbage man root around in my junked skull? JESUS Waste management is very serious business, mister. Mafia's all over that catshit. You know, though, there's only x square kilometers of habitable earth surface, and each squealing human being in our present state of technological grace requires y kilometers of that flatness to support them. So, we have to minimize and manage our waste products. And haste makes waste, my friend. JOHNNY Yeah, well, in six-plus hours you can hump me into the human parts bin in back of the medical center; I'll be 100% waste then. JESUS It would free up a few kilometers for alternate use. XCETERA Jesus. JESUS But I see your point. I guess I'd better hack some facetime on this mission, miss. Meet me here immediamente, Xcetera. XCETERA We'll be there. JESUS Stay clean and stay Green. Hate the Grid, but love the Net. A crypto-Anarchic creed. My personal praxis? Definitely.
[TAKEHASHI arrives in L. A. to cut off JIRIKI's thumb.] TAKEHASHI Pilgrim grim in my IBM issue business suit, I stalk my subservient, Jiriki, through the trick matrix of his fuzzy deceptions, crashing from their apogee in my high, black, blind eye back to disastered earth. Her hiroshimaed shadow is grounded now to dust. Her whiz-biz methods and black-jacketed audacity have spent their new sheen to narrow nothingness. Its time for the farmer's boy to pluck luck back out of distress, save our sassy asses, and then mount the pure air back to longing Hong Kong, our clients, and one fat untraceable account. [Enter JIRIKI.] TAKEHASHI Oh Jiriki, your golden eye trapped like a whale's flotsamed to the gritty beach, stares at the wrong man for the wanness of compassion. I will not pale and weep; I will not lose honor to gain mercy at this late date. We are not some harikari brat-pack with wise almond eyes. JIRIKI Can't I ginger my disgrace with some saving gesture? TAKEHASHI Too late. Avert your defeatist face. I am tired of looking at your eyes. You've crash-landed in the wrong century if you want to meet the buddha face-to-face. [Strips off shirt, readies blade.] His peace is the peace of Nirvana-hounds, while I, I only believe in howling hell herself. Can't you see the skin demons that gird my arms about? They are not there to laugh my soul to peace. Pace, pace, is for Roman tongues, not mine. I've sabered together my hatred and life-flash from eons of culture-trivia, and know that the choice was mine. "Garbage in, garbage out." This is all the mantra-motor on which I will willingly rely. Thumbs up, so I may like a marauding Caesar mow it down, please. [Cuts off thumb.] Thank you, Jiriki. Now place the blood stub in that plastic forensic, mummifying cup over there. It will preserve it to a blue, strained stain-- a thumb lump of marble crushed and petrified in mezazoic muds. Good soldier. There's a generic box of aspirin by the gilded Gideon on the nightstand.
[Before the door of the high-tech NAVUS company in Silicon Valley. JESUS uses a video-enhanced fake head (perfect-register video image) to trick the security system, which is totally automated, and therefore can be tricked in this way.] [JESUS pulls a mounted transparent head from a bowling bag.] JOHNNY What the hell is that? JESUS The Admiral's ghost. This is the head of NAVUS; P. J. Spindt. The Admiral started NAVUS on technology he smuggled out of the Navy. The first tax break-in of many many for old "teflon sides." This gimmick here's a perfect register video image projected into a transparent latex matrix. The high definition video is indistinguishable from the actual, since security never uses a high-res set-up to grab their image. Too expensive. Waste of good technology. We'll go by probably a thousand cameras between the front door and the lab-- every one standard issue; I guarantee it. Even old P. J. Spindt's retinal pattern is back projected behind the pupils. And the fleshlike quality of the latex lets lets the security computer think that a real amigo is dawdling at the yipping gate, and not some high-grade computer-simulation being fed in mouth-to-nipple on the in-house video line. That's how this kind of break-in would normally be attempted. They know that. And that means that I know that, and that I know that they know that. So, I'm using a throwback technology that they won't be expecting, and aren't prepped to guard against. If the cavalry expects you to use high-res lasers, throw rocks instead. And, since there's no human operator in the security sys at this minimal level (since human operatives can be bought, or their caring families held at nazi-hostage)-- there's nobody in there to wide angle the camera and see that instead of old P. J. Spindt standing demanding that "these fuckers pipe me aboard," its just Jesus and his apostles ready to rob the grave. This plastic baby is a failed precursor of the hologram. But it should do what we want it to. XCETERA Praise be to the Lord. JOHNNY All this is really interesting. But can we get going? Pretty soon I'm going to have a headache that makes Mt. St. Helen's look like a job for Flintstones chewables. XCETERA Jesus, plug that silicon monkey in, and start chattering. JESUS All I have to do is caress this indentation and old P. J. here goes into ectoplasmic morph. JOHNNY Do it. [JESUS touches the button.] JESUS Disney! J. P. SPINDT Vox identification J. P. Spindt. Request entrance. [The computer whirrs silently for a moment, the door clicks softly open.] COMPUTER VOICE, FEMALE, PLEASANT Identification accepted. XCETERA OK, commandoes. Let's get the Encyclopedia Japonica out of Johnny's head here. [They go in.]
[In the laboratory. JOHNNY is strapped in, as in first scene. TAKEHASHI and JIRIKI are standing there as the lights go up. JIRIKI is silent, next to TAKEHASHI.] TAKEHASHI OM. AUM. Son of the one and Sony Only, I must have your head of you. Now now now. This is the will of TIGRIS, and I mayn't be amiss. Prepare for the honor of being included in our non-delusional database, Johnny. Your head has hacked a 21st century miracle today. It seems you see with sweeping vision the rude suicide of the future past. History reflects grammar, you know that. And today's grammar lesson conflates the stripped ego-I of yourself into the near seamless industry of Us. It is never too late to be appropriated by the debate. A detournement? Perhaps. The powers that be are only sad shadows of themselves; every grand god gets his heaven from those who stoop to praise. Not in any other way. Jiriki and I are the realtime kneelteam forcing prayers and payment from the buckled-in and reluctant. Lucent enough? I know that my god needs me. Hiss blessing will suffice my truncheoned and nodding know-node. Every dent bleeds obedience. I gain my significance by the swiftness of my adherence. By believing that this solemn rumor of communion occurs, it does. Each prayer completes its nattering circuit, and I am pulled bootstrapped by my own, loved. rosy and stolen prayerbeads into the heaven I invented. Your death will bequeath a mantra I will repeat in my flitting Porsche by the datalight your own buzzing bits emit. I regret that your death has gone the narrow road to become our only saving solution in this situation. But, I must have your head. It sheds its charcoal and aesthetic side as well: one man's death, and a billion billion numerals and lines of running programming will roam free. A very American phrase for this nexus of a nearly Greek necessity. But, I must have your head. Fate has held her high-watt candle to your egg, and found you nearly hatching. But your data is far, far too valuable to go flapping into the safe, Pacific sunset. No. You must hatch bursting into our neural Net, and flap to the flip profit of the garden that makes a statue of you. You will be in our pantheon a long time, Johnny. Your headless honor will be long upheld. A good fate for one as inherently insignificant as yourself. Other gods have played their flaying game with us, eons out of mind; bitter centuries that spent their thin hours defying time only to be once again defined by its bright passage. So it is with us. So it shall be. Formulated in your brain is a pro-rated program that has discovered a new law of physical intercon- nectedness. A law that will bring all of cyberspace under one comprehensible rubric of imagination's fancy. The company that owns that program will define online reality by having a superior understanding of all events that unfold there. Not a mere simulation, or model of a model of the universe's perverse halves soldered whole, but the complete thing-in-itself, the face in the cybersky, revealed. Einstein's spacetime for the inner real. Root and website, floating point fluency and the innumerable numinous. JOHNNY Great. Just great. TAKEHASHI Be content, not contentious. Your hissing spleen demeans you. Did you think that you would never die? That your morning's prayers would forever cease in noon? That noon would trundle on to night, and that dark bring back some waking from the heralded nightmare of your sleep? That the circuit that you ran and ran was supercooled, frictionless, supreme? Yourself the white electron of that hyperborean dream? The corporation is the home of our small-m mythic identities. It will harbor all that any dim one may glow and give in the synergistic many of its waves. Geodesic sunlight will split upon its crests. Light supplied, and light divided; prismed to a startled pitch, a rainbow vibration of significance. Electrons, racing ever, there will find some rest. "Johnny" is the marker of one, just one, sequence of surfing, superfluous bytes and bits. Markers on a game the maker has forgotten how to play. Takehashi is another marker, and hops where he is shoved. This is the way of the Way. And even your disobedience translates into "Well, OK." Jiriki, your friends standing here, the blank billions who dot the globe, all, all are markers and dot their bingo cards embryo-blind as lab mice. What number will be called from the algorithm infected with raw chance? The hollering caller is blind, the corporate players have put out their eyes. They play the final game every day with giant thumbs that manipulate human lives. Pretty, pink bingo pieces that may shove back, but still are shoved. Our corporate sponsors play this pink bingo daily, but never win. The game goes on. Only their ferocity to win is real, and gains its reality at our expense. Pink bingo pieces smear the cards. the game goes on. [JIRIKI, to whom TAKEHASHI has handed his ceremonial sword, beheads TAKEHASHI, with a cry:] JIRIKI Hai! [Everyone looks at each other in total astonishment.] JIRIKI The people I represent will perform a micron-depth vivisection of your brain matter, scan the autopsied synapses, map them on a computer-generated grid, model your brain unerringly, and then extract the information we need from that model using decryption methods already available to us. XCETERA Can't you just yank it out of his aching head, like we were just about to do just now? JIRIKI The interests I am employed to satisfy are not non-invasive capable. This technology is too cutting edge. JESUS Nice pun. Just let us download here. I've got a handle on it. XCETERA And we'll give you whatever we extract. JOHNNY Hey, I'm under contract.... XCETERA Johnny, shut-up. JESUS You don't even have the time to get him to any facility before he goes critical. The data will be irretrievable when than happens. JIRIKI You need him alive. I do not. I simply require his head. I hold the advantage. I do not see where our goals overlap. JESUS Even dead, his steady-state will begin an irreversible decay process. The information he's carrying is extremely delicate, and the cryptology more massive than anything I've ever even heard of. JIRIKI That is a chance I will have to take. XCETERA But you don't have to take it. The decryption equipment is right here. [JIRIKI pauses.] JESUS We didn't set off any intruder alarms, did you? JIRIKI No. JESUS So nobody knows we're here.... JOHNNY But I won't get paid! XCETERA Johnny. Shut. Up. JIRIKI My company can recompense you. [Smiles all around.] JESUS All right Johnny, let's see some mercury. Open them twiggy peepers, I'm about the read your mind. [They attach eye-shielding, lightwires.] XCETERA Just who do you work for anyway? JIRIKI Soma-E. A subdivision of Zony. JOHNNY That's who the information was pirated from in the first place. JIRIKI They outbidded my loyalty from TIGRIS-eyed Takehashi. XCETERA Pointless. This whole routine. Totally pointless. JESUS One more iteration through the feedback loop. JOHNNY Aldo said they'd probably be pretty anxious to retrieve their data. XCETERA I guess "Aldo" was right. JIRIKI Aldo was executed when my team hit the impromptu lab where you were uploaded. JOHNNY Did anyone else make it out of there? JIRIKI [Insulted.] I am efficient. JESUS Commencing download sequence. Now. [Lightwires flicker on. A moment passes.] JOHNNY Oh.... [Stage lights go down, except for a spot on JOHNNY, strapped in as in the beginning.] JOHNNY Who am I? Who amI? If I knew, would I tell? I can't disclose those cancerous clues, they eat identity alive, and, in this case, that's mine. If I'd decide to die, this finishing minute, who would I send packing to the chopping block? What soma-droning and drowning boy have I become? Was Takehashi right, have I no I in my lead sights? What love or inspiration lingers at these graphited fingertips? Zoned on overloaded silicone, and trapped in one final, ecstatic Now, I'll know my ground zero when I feel it, not before. How many times can a man divide and evade? Am I glad my face is melting as if it was never made? A formless mess puddles into mercury, and drains. I watch it slither after gravity, and laugh, a fine, Stim-jimmied extroverted snort. My moody mortality unmasks me. I stare into its laser-licking glare and wince. Who am I, essentially, once the last mask is ripped back to skin, the final lie, the lie of self, of something being me instead of nothing constituting myself comes up a blank cartridge, a recursive syntax looping on zero.... What then, what then? Who then, then what is all of this, this thisness? What has all of this been? No memory to rudder my oblivion in some self-defining and self- creating dream stream self-fashioning; not even the lazy image of an overhead-projected story to go by, some ultravivid vid img, some loved blood on the TV snow. No, not even that, nothing. But still this head, this voice, these arcite eyes, skin of antimony, surreal interior visions and revisions, still that, until the last moment, the cubed solution. My question commands silences. My pause is sempiternal, solemn. Then, when the microtape fails and fritters, a thumb on its steel reel, then even the pause pauses. [Pause.] Pulses of light pass the cave mouth. I am a sleeper asleep in his cave, in love with flowing water, all light, the small, serried series of wet ticks that compose the human concept of infinity. That deep repeat. I am in love with my dim cave, its shallows of lights, its deep darks, the surprising grottoes that give a sense of unexpected distance under my suddenly suspended feet. I pass hours the way an owl, still hungry, overlooks a vulnerable mouse at the fir's crowded root. I know the waters pass me in the dark. I know I am space suspended, a miracle bridge with no heaven or horizon to cry out unto. My eyes attract small, blind fish. They are suave and attentive. A minute passes. They turn away from me forever, suave and diminishing. Then they are gone. I am alone. A minute passes. The waters walk away, suavely evaporating. A minute passes. And the cave disintegrates. I am alone. Space abandons me. There is no medium left for suavity to express itself in. There is a darkness so dark that I cannot see it. Pulses of light pass the cave mouth. Somewhere else. I am alone. JESUS Disney! [JESUS pops a cd-rom from its reader, hands it over to JIRIKI, who exits.]