Monday 9 March 2015

The Infestation — Part 6

Preamble: This the sixth chapter of a serialized science-fiction short story concerning animal control and an exterminator. (Previously: Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 and Chapter 5)

by Cheeseburger Brown

Chapter 6.

"Are you completely mental?" I wanted to know. "You're some kind of activist, right? Save all the poor whatevers -- isn't that it?"

She watched me pace, eyes tracking patiently side to side, top to bottom.

"I've run into your kind before, of course," I added, wagging my index finger. "Oh yes. It's nothing new. Same old nonsense. Think of things as people, people as things. As if. As if you'd harbour that malarkey if you'd worked an honest hour in your life! What are you -- a university student?"

"We are not a student, no."

"A professional layabout, then? A hedonist? A scientist?"

"We are Queen of Space."

"That's ludicrous, lady. Do I look cognitively impaired enough to believe that? If so, at which frequency?"

"Your belief is immaterial to the fact, citizen."

"My name is William. Please use it. I won't be called 'citizen' and have you think every time I don't bother to roll my eyes I'm endorsing your bunk."

She closed her eyes briefly, then opened them again and tried afresh. "William, we implore you to stop the assault on these people."

I cocked my head, confused. "What people?"

"The people of this world."

"Are you one of those oddballs with way too many pets, and you confuse them for children? Level with me: you're a crazy ape lady."

"These apes are our progenitors, William."

"You think I don't know that? There's not a thing about ancestors I don't know, lady. Trust me. I've been in this racket for nearly nine decades. I wrote the book on ancestors. Like, almost literally."

"Have you ever taken a moment to converse with one of them?"

I squinted sceptically. "You hear apes talking to you?" I took a careful step away from her. "When was your neurological integrity value last probed?"

Her face tightened. "The progenitors are not capable of proper human speech, of course; but they are fluent after their own manner. Their speech is like a scaffolding that gave rise to our own. A different form, naturally, but the grammar is familiar -- if elementary."

I grimaced. "But it's liquid communications, isn't it? It's all ripples in a medium. Like smoke signals."

"Are you capable?"

"Well of course I'm capable. It's just a bit off-putting. The idea."

"But you are not afraid to attempt it?"

"Of course not."

The self-crowned crazy ape lady straightened, her chin high. "Then let us share with you the details: touch your finger to ours. And we will convene a council with their appointed speakers, and you will come to understand what we have."

I swore quietly and shook my head, then offered out my ring finger. She touched the tip of hers to the tip of mine and a bunch of foreign details trickled into my blood. Oscillation patterns encoding verbs, adverbs, nouns and noises.

I looked up. "This better be good. I'm on the ministry's clock."

"Prepare yourself to be astonished, William, for in a moment you will peer into the face of time itself and see the eternal essence of your own kind reflected there."

I had to look away. "Sacred dung. You really are unbelievable, lady."


Sheik Yerbouti said...

So... rogue Zorannics? Or something much later in the Burgerverse? Either way, you sure are stringing us along.

Keep it up :D

I am not a robot.

dsayswhat said...

Referencing - seems like the queen of space is a long way from Callicrates. Also, see the reference at the bottom of that chapter, on how the executives are domesticating humanity...

radvlescv said...

Looks like a long way into the future from Simon and Felix... maybe the Equivalents took over at some point? I could plausibly see a lot of turmoil in the wake of Something Wicked.
I for one approve of the literary return of our robotic overlords, mr. CBB. Welcome back, do stay a while.

Cheeseburger Brown said...

Dear readers,

Please excuse the lateness of my reply.

As has been mentioned voluminously elsewhere, I have for a while been rather preoccupied with my business start up, and have had very little time to devote to my own pursuits. Parallel to this family obligations tend to increase geometrically with time, as those of you with maturing roosts can attest.

(There's a brief peace when they stop rolling off the changing table or wandering into traffic, but then they become teenage and moody and their identities become fluttering waveforms unwilling to collapse and they hog the washroom and use up all the Internet.)

I was planning to paint today, but instead one of the dogs climbed a snow bank and jumped the fence and ran into the village and bit somebody in the bum. So instead of personal artistic development I dealt with the police. Nice day for it, though. The melt is on. Air smells like dirt again. Yum.

It's been a hard winter. Coldest in our region for 115 years. This old pioneer schoolhouse froze right up, so we had to bathe at the community centre like hobos. We wore pyjamas over our pyjamas, and burned everything burnable. Each morning I boiled snow for tea.

The lack of good sunlight was cruel to me. I had to run four miles a day just to stave off the worst kinds of dread and self-doubt. I've never had to run so hard for my happy.

But we made it through. The equinox is coming. O Canada.

And my business has stayed alive two years and remains -- if by the skin of its teeth -- in the black. Our yearly profits are basically just enough to throw a modest kegger at a low-end frat house, but at least there are profits. However, instead of a kegger we just paid off our legal costs to wrap up a law suit or two...but, still. At least we're not in debt!

We've hired sales people. We leased a second floor of offices on top of the seafood restaurant, which has changed hands and has a new logo. I think it's called "The Pearl Necklace" or something now. Anyway, I like working on the third floor because it's got cool red chairs and doesn't smell like oysters.

So maybe things are hummed along enough that I can blink? Maybe!

This serial is about halfway done. I have an intriguing sequel in mind that opens up a whole new theatre of possibilities. But that won't come next, likely. I've had another story in development for months, and it's almost baked. Deals with a totally different time period. I thought it was shit and planned to delete it, but I just re-read it and decided I like it again. So, that untitled story, which takes place back in the old Solar system, will probably run next.

Okay, gotta go run four miles now.


Sheik Yerbouti said...

Way to keep your running alive in the dead of winter, CBB; I have not been so diligent. And congratulations on surviving past the small business statistics!

Soooo, without sounding too needy (if such a thing is possible) -- may I ask when we can expect to see Mr. Miss and his Zorannic limbs at the edge of zerofinity? Whatever the answer is, rest assured that you remain a beloved talespinner. Keep doing what matters to the people in your house, good and faithful sir.