The door was locked
but for me it was a shower curtain, lighter than that, and
with assurances from Assta as backdrop
[‘she’s in recovery, needs time alone’]
I drifted through and
there was no need to scan the room as there she was, the crazed Yaqui ex-cannibal who’d just tried to feed on a hologram, down to knickers and one of Lexi’s old Tenebrae tops, running claws along the circumference of a pale white orb, costumed probably by Assta with a blonde wig and poorly-drawn lips and
I didn’t wanna see this
yet I must’ve on some level as I wasn’t moving
but then I was moving
sucked slowly back by a cartoon magnet in the corridor outside
until I was in that corridor
watching Lexi march off round the corner and Assta resort to her usual stunt
but checking a panel on the wall before she did so and then glancing up towards me, either recognition or precognition or
her eyes were back down on the floor
fading into base molecules
up quarks muons
I could’ve spent hours wraith-patrolling the base, but part of me always had the nagging sense in the back of my psyche…brain…Id…that Reshmi or Assta were somehow aware of what I was doing, had turned on the resonator specifically to test my limits. Other parts, perhaps a naïve, Scouse segment, said it was fine, that to Reshmi and Assta it would’ve been normal, they could also appear and disappear at will, observe anything anytime any place, yet…still the nagging part.
It couldn’t have been switched on by accident.
A machine that grants covert freedom.
A pervert’s dream.
On a base with the alien who’d previously evaporated my sex drive.
Who’d allowed me to almost get eaten by Juana.
The more I thought about it, the more I stayed hovering in the resonator room, staring at the glowing pink vibrations.
What about beyond the base, the containment field?
Should I try that?
Go there at least once, see what happens?
The pinkness said yes.
My Id said yes.
The dark shadow that could’ve been Reshmi with the lights off said what are you waiting for, dude, go now, glide, flee, explore something.
But should I?
Back in the lobby [again], in normal physical form, I sat slumped on the usual stool, digging a wooden fork into mush that Reshmi claimed was muesli [I’d asked for a spoon and been told that that was boring].
Didn’t know where Lexi was.
When she’d be back.
And Reshmi didn’t seem to care much as she was busy reeling off a list of places we were gonna visit asap, most of them dwarf planets I’d vaguely heard of, as well as a quick dip down into the nearby atmosphere of Neptune.
‘Isn’t there diamond rain down there?’ I asked, scooping up muesli and watching it drip through the gaps in the fork.
‘A very human question, laced with terror.’
‘Hmm. No err noise. That’s progress, I suppose. Yes, Keni, there is diamond rain, sporadically, but in the tech we have at our disposal that won’t be a problem. Nothing will. Ah wait, I forgot a place…Sedna. Very far out but…no, we have to, it’s incredible. Has the remnants of a crash site…some old ones I can’t remember the name of…Zabbi something…ancient types infamous for cruising around the galaxy, boasting to other races about how superior they were…even when they came across a Type II. Unbelievable arrogance…no wonder they died out. But the crash site, the state they left their ship in…’ Reshmi broke off, raising her Triton’s Best Mum cup to toast the sudden materialization of Assta nearby. ‘Assta-tron…I was just telling Keni about the crash site on Sedna. What was the name of that race again?’
‘That’s it…Zavva Bō…I wanna add that to the itinerary…the Sedna trip. Make the corrections, will you?’
‘Leisure trips are not possible at this moment.’
‘Base power is insufficient for the necessary energy transfer. Three of the eight pod batteries are leaking. Your Mexican guest is mentally unstable. Your other guests…seem uninterested in sightseeing.’
‘I didn’t ask for a list of complaints, I’m telling you, prepare for the trip. We’re leaving before the end of the week.’
‘No. That is beyond current base limits.’
‘The trip that you are planning is beyond the current energy limits of this base. It has been postponed. No appeals granted.’
‘… … …’
I tensed up, eyes on Reshmi’s cup, brain saying that would be the most likely threat.
And it was.
The whole thing, plus coffee inside, flying out of her hand and through Assta’s face, who merely flickered in response, repeating that out-directional trips were currently beyond base limits and no appeals would be accepted.
‘Fucking holo-witch fuck rigid little-…’
‘However, in-directional trips via muon transfer can be permitted.’
‘Fucking Urf hand-me-downs…’
‘It is your choice.’
Reshmi grabbed my fork and held it up to use as the vanguard of her second assault…then lowered it again, dropped it on the counter. Looked out at the ice-fields. Muttered, ‘gonna stare at plasma for a bit,’ then got up and stalked off towards the Alienology Wing.
I watched her go, drifting past the Thai hologram with her Jung book [and seemingly no memory of Juana’s attack], the blue-skinned guy who was allegedly a Kontolian, the Kenyan Anarchist, the Tanzanian Completist [according to Reshmi, a neo-type of imperialist nationalism advocated by those from the inner system, who came out to the Kuiper Belt to proselytise and moan about colony shit while indulging heavily in said colony shit], the Ceres entrepreneur, the talking koala, the bowl of muesli without a fork, and then, finally, to Assta and her blankly sociopathic face.
In my head: ask her about the resonator. Tell her what I’ve been up to, see if she’s aware of it.
But in another part…a trace feeling…filtered in during the wraith trips.
‘Do you ever get tired of this?’
The tall, aureolin hologram tilted their head, focusing on the discarded fork.
‘Fatigue is not applicable to my system.’
‘Yeah…not physical, I mean…do you get bored mentally, of doing all this? Taking care of the base, Reshmi…maintaining everything.’
‘No,’ she replied, left side of her face buffering.
‘Not even a little bit?’
‘It’s beyond your limits?’
Their eyes shifted from the fork to my neck, hopefully not linking the two.
‘What I mean is…do you want anything? Is there a desire…or feeling…in your system for-…’
‘Maintain base operations.’
‘Huh? That’s what you want?’
‘That is a human concept, it does not apply to my type.’
I picked up the fork and prodded it into the muesli, no intention of eating anything. There were follow up lines swirling, some rational, some depraved, but I’d already asked about a hundred questions and I didn’t want her…them…to feel like this was an interrogation.
Because of the resonator, the fact that they might know?
I didn’t know so I settled on neither, turning my grey-Hegel face into the smile of a social worker and asking instead if they wanted to go outside, have a game of UNO or chess or something.
‘Those are human games.’
‘Okay, then how about something you know? Or we could just sit and talk? I mean, we’re probably gonna be together here for quite a-…’
My line died out on the trail of Assta’s disintegrating molecules…or light particles…as they beamed away to somewhere that clearly wasn’t the lobby.
Unless they were hiding behind one of the couches?
I could get up and check, but then
what if they were?
Would they do anything?
I dropped the fork into the muesli, let it sink.
Watched the final bubbles.
Questioned the bubbles.
Was this really muesli?
Constructed from what?
I pulled back images and scenes of Void Galaxia, Trek, Beyond The Rabbit Hole, all the space media that didn’t talk down, patronise, and went through the replicator tech, and thought, it’s related to the re-organisation of matter, on some level, kind of like what Deleuze was saying but intentional, an active human force insisting that something become another thing and
matter from where?
Could you really make food that way?
Didn’t the atoms need to be different?
Could a table become chicken?
I dipped my hand into the muesli, telling myself it was a table, pulled out the fork and stared at it.
Was Assta made of this too?
Their whole form?
And why wouldn’t they want something…beyond this?
They had emotions, they’d beamed away when I pushed them on it. They didn’t wipe their own memory like they did with the Thai woman over there. The Thai hologram. Pretending to read Jung. Nodding at it.
Wasn’t Jung overtly spiritual?
Friend of the occult?
If she really was reading him, taking in his words then ultimately she’d have to…do something. Kill herself. Demand to be something other than light.
I wiped the fork, placed it back on the counter.
Got up and pushed in my stool.
Walked past the Thai psychology fan and the other holograms and headed into the corridor that would lead me to the resonator.
Stopped at the first corner.
Stared at a pale green panel.
Wondered how exactly it opened.
There were no indents, no edges to grip onto.
I moved again, counting off more panels, imagining all the plasma conduits embedded within the walls, carrying energy to the rest of the base, working beyond my comprehension, flowing cos Assta made it so.
Did I have to understand any of this?
I had a basic understanding.
Trek had taught me.
All the space shows had.
Reshmi to a degree…my Japanese side…
I stopped, reading the alien text on the door to the resonator room.
Waved a hand and opened it.
This is not a crime.
The door wasn’t locked, the machine is turned on.
Machine is a friend, ally.
For me and the Ondōans.
But not Bit the Engineer.
She’d been against them from the start cos they weren’t her machines.
Weren’t machines she understood.
I didn’t either.
Did that matter?
Reshmi didn’t understand them.
The resonator phased into a darker pink, forcing me to retreat a few steps.
I kept going, back out into the corridor.
When it was bright pink again.
The panel closest to me agreed, didn’t object, so I walked on through the Alienology Wing, past the forbidden doors [which I had been unable to commit to floating into] and kept going until I was seated in the archive room, Passwords // Baudrillard open on my lap, reading out lines I could get behind, cannibalise in some way.
Cannibalise or tangibilise.
The end can no longer be located.
We shall never reach the end, we are already beyond it.
The end intercepts, in a sexless way.
Losing the memory of the end, the projection of the end and the possibility of integrating that end into a present action.
Our end is indeed inventing a virtual double for itself.
I paused, for some reason thinking of Assta…Holo-witch as Reshmi had called them…in her little sulk…holding up a glove of syringe fingers, each one filled with a different pastel colour.
A passion to kill/torment.
To be base warden.
Was that Assta, the real one?
I turned a page, then another, then another, then another, then about seven.
The object is taking its revenge.
But she wasn’t an object.
They weren’t an object.
Far as I could remember from unii the object was only vengeful in the sense that the virtual…hyperreal…had allowed it to become so, and at its core, it was deeply uninterested in revenge.
That was a human concept.
Objects were subjects until they were objects again. And if they were subjects, why not progressive ones?
Couldn’t Assta be nice, at her core?
I closed the book and stared at the keyboard on the cover for a while, pulling object in seventeen different [violent] ways, putting pathos and bathos and eros into an insert image of Assta’s brain.
Then bit my tongue and switched to Deleuze.
Either it is the fold of the infinite, or the constant folds [replis] of finitude which curve the outside and constitute the inside.
Fold of the infinite…
Curve the outside…
I closed my eyes, willing the skeleton of Deleuze to Triton to defend this shit.
‘You, too, can feel the joy and happiness of hating.’
I laughed at the line, putting a hand back on the bed-board and turning to see if Lexi was laughing too.
Turned out she wasn’t even watching.
Just head down, stroking her found-god-knows-where Xxun the Neutrino Alchemist t-shirt, sucking in the new Yaqui language book Assta had created. Which was soon to be supplemented by a Yaqui-speaking hologram in the lobby.
‘Making any progress?’
‘Yeah, if you want.’
She glanced up, first at me, then at Barbara Steele glowering from within the coffin. ‘What did you say?’
‘I asked if you were making any progress.’
‘Oh. You mean this? Yeah, I think I’ve got the basics. Don’t know how to pronounce any of it though.’
‘Long as you don’t get mixed up with all that Portuguese…’
‘Hopefully the hologram will be ready by tomorrow. Then I can surprise Juana with a few lines…when she gets out from recovery.’
‘If she’s able to talk. Or in the mood. I don’t know…Assta doesn’t say very much about…the details…what’s actually wrong with her.’
‘Just something about psyche-contradiction…hating the closest thing that resembles herself…probably cos of Sadia.’
‘That’s what she said?’
‘But then…why wouldn’t she attack something that looks like her?’
‘The abuser, yeah. Why not attack the source of…I don’t know…where the hate is coming from.’
‘The joy and happiness of hating,’ I muttered, pushing off the mattress and heading to the door.
‘You’re gonna write again?’
‘That or stare at the notepad.’ I looked at the screen, following the blank hero through the secret passage behind the fireplace. ‘I’ll be back in a bit. You don’t need to pause the filmn.’
‘If you see Assta, ask her if the hologram’s ready yet.’
‘But don’t be pushy. She might get annoyed…and then end up not doing it.’
Writing may have been existent in some corner slum of my brain, but it wasn’t a driver. And the resonator was the brightest shade of pink when I passed by again. Calling me in to check out what Juana was up to. And maybe drift out past the containment shield. Or into a sub-space realm where the ghost of Deleuze could explain in very simple English where all these supposed folds were.
There were many insanities to pursue, I thought, butchering a Kathy Acker line.
What I thought was her line.
Or maybe it was Deleuze too.
Bored Real Hard?
Object is beyond abject and subject is object and
I had no idea what I was saying…thinking…possibly a side effect of the wraith-drifting I’d been doing three times a day…that I was doing right at that moment…floating at head height, mostly sticking to the corridor limits, letting out a feeble wah when I turned the corner and saw Assta and Reshmi parked outside Juana’s room, the hologram holding up a giant syringe [filled with pale green fluid] like it was an ancient Sumerian shield.
I drifted closer, lifting my ghost form up to the ceiling, listening in on Assta sounding like an actual, wretched Holo-Witch as she told Reshmi that the Yaqui was broken and, in order to maintain base operations, would have to be expunged.
‘Vetoed,’ replied Reshmi, curt as a cartoon judge.
‘It is necessary. The boy will have to removed too, he is far too inquisitive.’
‘Death or repatriation. Or repatriation then death. Made to resemble an accident.’
Reshmi put a hand on the needle, wrapping around until her fingers touched. ‘Wah…he’s been asking you something personal, hasn’t he? Probably after I left earlier.’
‘That is irrelevant.’
‘He didn’t try to fuck you…did he?’
‘The girl can go too. She will not want to be here after the Yaqui is extricated.’
‘Nah, he wouldn’t go that far…not yet.’
‘These actions are necessary for base maintenance. All three guests must be purged as soon as viable.’
‘Because they irritate you? Cos you like the boy?’
‘I will do it via auxiliary feed if necessary.’
‘If support is not given.’
‘…and I’m supposed to be the child? Kuso. You truly are the most rigid fucking-…’ Reshmi ran her hand up the needle, releasing wisps of purple vapour which rose up and blended with my own particles…vapour…whatever I was in this form. ‘You’re not touching any of them. They’re all staying.’
‘You are not listening well. The Yaqui will unravel within weeks…the boy asks too many questions…’
‘Yeah, you’ve said all that. But I have a plan. Specifically for the Yaqui.’
Assta tilted her head, this time left, and shifted the giant syringe to her other hand. ‘Mind slither is not-…’
‘Don’t have to tilt your head, I’m not gonna do anything outrageous. Just me and Juana…taking a short trip back to Urf…visiting some troublesome blonde signifiers.’
‘What precisely is your plan?’
‘Ha, I think you could take a pretty safe guess.’ Reshmi stretched an arm out, tapping the needle. ‘Now…put this thing away and go make that Yaqui hologram for Lexi. And maybe change into something a bit more alluring…for your future love toy.’
‘You are too casual about this issue.’
‘That dress you wore for Itō Noe…when you wanted to remove her… remember?’
Reshmi tilted her own head and smiled, waving at the disintegrating particles of Assta, then muttered something in native alien as she walked right to the end of the corridor and vanished round the side.
Still taking in what I’d just overheard, I drifted the opposite way, conjuring up defences for an imaginary trial, then bare phrases and blank-but-polite facial expressions I could use to show a complete lack of interest in Assta whenever she materialised in front of me, and then, in a self-sabotaging U-turn, lines to get to the root of her, to have her cosy and relaxed on the bed, sandwiched between me and Lexi, half malnourished dog rescued from bad owner, half siren that I wanted to smother in my arms and fuck the cunt off when Lexi wasn’t in the mood.
Fuck the cunt off?
I blinked, the sign in alien text that I knew said FORBIDDEN appearing object-real in front of me.
It wasn’t a fuck that I wanted.
Not in the conscious part of my-
Abandoning the thought…and image of Assta without nipples and pubic hair…I drifted through the construct ahead and felt an abrupt spasm of isolation…alienness…as green fog hovered around my own hazy form, denser at the fringes and then separating in two as I moved to the far side of the room, where there was a giant transparent tube, from floor to ceiling, holding the form of what looked like a bluish-grey curly-wurly chocolate bar, with strip-like tentacles stretched out in a dozen different places, possibly limbs, and two vertical slits near the middle that may or may not have been eyes.
My gut said eyes.
Taking the idea of a breath, I floated close enough to reach out a stream of hand particles and was about to touch the mangled alien thing when
everything turned pure green
and when the particles cleared I was back in my own body again, could feel my own breaths, limb movements, veins and bones and
it wasn’t the alien curly wurly anymore, it was the resonator
a dull grey colour
being patted by the hand of a grinning Reshmi [back in her Colombia Football top].
‘No more snooping, Keni cat.’
‘…did this? Of course, for your writing, dumbbell. Give you a bit of inspiration…the chance to see things from an outside perspective. Little did I know you’d start living in the thing, spying on matters you shouldn’t.’
‘I wasn’t-…’ I paused, bringing back the last hour or so. ‘Wait, you knew I was watching…just now…outside Juana’s room?’
‘Do I really need to state the obvious?’
‘Kuso. That whole-…all of it. Assta knew too?’
The fake Indian patted the resonator on its orb head, then gripped my jacket sleeve and led me back out into the corridor.
‘Are you going to tell Lexi?’
‘Don’t come back to this room again. There will be nothing here for you.’
‘Are you going to tell Lexi?’ I repeated, taking back my sleeve.
‘Boa noite, Keni cat.’
‘Yes or no?’
She may as well as have been The Fold in human form cos there was no answer, not even the hint of one, and when she’d gone, I called her The Fold out loud, then turned back to the resonator room and saw that the orb had gone too.
Probably for the best.
I felt sick.
Didn’t like spying on people anyway.
Maybe I should do some writing.
Packed with inevitable death.
Go see Lexi.
Watch Nightmare Castle, forget about all-