Melissa Destiny

Friday, December 17, 2004

Chapter 1.4

“This is a recording,” Camhurst said. “The property rights, including all intellectual properties, enzymological properties, and genomic properties, of Camhurst Products, Peacosck Products, Garfuel Products, Regent Products, Clarimia Products, Entron Ltd., Storkphon Ltd., Randolph Consolidated Ltd., Wolfette Torment Ltd, Big Joel Industries Ltd., Captain Cappin Ltd., and all subsidiaries and applicable partnerships of the aforementioned corporations and groups, are copyright protected.”

At this point the Joel-hologram paused and started wagging a meaty finger up and down. Melissa thought he looked like an off-duty highway patrolman— the kind of guy who would talk to his wife in exactly the same tone he used for lecturing someone about why they deserved a ticket.

“I repeat,” Joel said, “copyright protected. I should add that these copyrights are vigorously policed and defended by our legal representatives, McTucker, Chuckles, and Taape, in the United States and Free Trade Regions L and Q, and by their affiliates in Free Trade Regions E, J, C, and U, and by the State Organization for Logically Arranged Equity and Ethical Ownership in Free Trade Region A. Proprietary codes are not authorized for ethical study at universities participating in the Federal License and Ownership Program. Copyrights are policed and defended vigorously in disputed territories and stateless zones on an at-need basis by Felix Hard Professional Strikeforce and affiliates.”

“What is this rigmarole?” Melissa said.

“You know what it is,” Suky answered. “It’s a threat. He thinks we’re trying to steal his company’s secrets from the stork. He’s reminding us that they’ll sue us, and if we’re affiliated with a university our school will lose all federal funding if they catch us even looking at his code, and if we’re in China the government will sue us, and if we think we can copy his code safely just because we’re in the Congo or some other place in the middle of a war, we’re wrong, because he’ll send hired soldiers after us.”

“Humph. What do I want with his stupid code? Didn’t his code cause a bunch of people eating cans of Beefaroo to projectile vomit for a week?”

“Yes, or actually maybe. That case is pending in the legal system. It is rumored that Camhurst code produced the problematic meat. Nevertheless, once they get the “bugs” out of the meat’s genomic code, those “low-feed” animals are going to replace most of the meat-animals grazing today. That means that Camhurst stands to be in a position of owning the DNA of the majority of the world’s livestock. That’s big money. Potentially it’s a roll of dough as big as the State of Texas.”

Camhurst had apparently finished his speech and was now standing motionless. In Melissa’s opinion, there was something nervous-making about stilled holograms; she didn’t like them. Some people, of course, like to use stilled holograms, especially of nude celebrities and porn-stars, as part of the decoration in their homes, sort of like visual furniture. Melissa had never liked this, because she tended to find her eyes were more attracted to holograms than they were to real people, probably because the holograms are light sources, putting out about as much radiance as a TV. It’s hard not to be attracted to bright lights in a room, especially if the bright lights have faces or even genitalia. In L.A. a lot of people would come to parties and avoid looking at any of the real people; the real people, having the power to look back, make these “gramophilic” people feel uncomfortable. A “gramophile” likes nothing better than to stare and stare, and being looked back at is torture to them, because it embarrasses them so they can’t stare as they would like to and therefore can’t enjoy themselves. Most hip, cool people are to some extent “gramophiles,” just because a reluctance to look at people is kinda sexy (it puts people in their place and implies you have more power than them). But Melissa’s more of a “gramophobe” and does her best to drag her eyes off of the things and look at anything instead (often her feet.)

The interesting thing about the Camhurst-gram is how ugly he is. It’s a kind of rugged, masculine ugliness, such as some women might like, especially if it came with money.

Several of the storks were now circling the Camhurst-gram.

“Why doesn’t this place have a receptionist?” Melissa asked. “I mean, considering all the damn unemployment, you would think a big corporate head-office like this would hire someone to wait for visitors.”

Suddenly all the storks around Camhurst began flashing different colors. A pistachio-type green, a raspberryish-red, a kind-of-deep-sea, kind-of-gloomy blue.

“There probably is a receptionist,” Suky said. “He or she is probably watching us through a camera. Because Camhurst is important, they’re dramatizing his importance, by making us wait before they even acknowledge our existence. But in case someone important comes in, they don’t want this room to be too boring, because some big shot might come in here and get all riled about his time being wasted, so that’s why the animals are here to entertain us.”

“That’s a very detailed response to be pre-programmed. How can such an elaborate analysis of and hypothesis about the situation be pre-programmed?”

“I have been programmed with quite a few things to say on the subject of hierarchy, demonstrations of hierarchy, and general corporate culture. These issues are pivotal ones in our society.”

Suddenly all of the wolf-like animals began to howl.

“Obviously, someone’s going to come out soon,” Suky said. “They’re preparing an ‘atmosphere.’”

“Well, I’m not getting all excited about it,” replied Melissa. “Hey, why don’t you recite to me that Walt Whitman poem I like. . .”

“Okay,” replied Suky. The robot cleared his throat, which he often did when he wanted to sound authentic. “Are you the new person drawn toward me, and asking something significant from me? To begin with, take warning— I am probably far different from what you suppose. . .”

Melissa giggled, because Suky’s voice had suddenly become so much deeper and more resonant. It was his 19th century wise-man voice. . .



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