Honeymoon on the Moon
And Other Stories
Translation from the French by Marybeth Timmermann
Honeymoon on the Moon
That evening, Jek had taken me out to the Moonlight restaurant. We had just ordered dessert when he announced, “Gaïa, my darling, today I started my yearly vacation, so we can go on our honeymoon. I’ve reserved a room at the Earthlight hotel….”
“I’ve never heard of this hotel. Where is it?”
“On the Moon...”
At that time, the Moon- now habitable after colonies of specialized bacteria had been cultivated there in order to synthesize the necessary gases to form an atmosphere- had become a popular tourism destination for those living on Earth.
“Isn’t it a bit far… Why the Moon instead of somewhere else?”
“I’m taking you to the Moon to prove my love to you… even if we only spend one day there...”
“Yes, a lunar day- the residents of the Moon have two weeks of daylight and then two weeks of nighttime. So, a day on the Moon lasts 28 of our days.”
“What does our love have to do with the Moon?”
“It’s an ancient belief. Our ancestors celebrated true love with a Moon cult. The masters of ceremony of this cult were called ‘poets.’ They called the odes they sang to the Moon ‘poems.’ Some of those songs have been handed down to us. The poets used to describe a beloved woman with lunar imagery. I studied this cult back when I was doing my Master’s thesis on ancient myths...”
“You know that the Moon is under the jurisdiction of the Spacians. Remember that they threatened to kill you after the articles you wrote against Exterior Worlds…?”
“I’m not scared of them!”
The next day, we were at the space airport ready to board. Our flight was scheduled for 3pm. I took my place at a window seat and fastened my seat belt. The ship took off vertically, like a rocket. A synthetic voice resonated in my head and images began to flash in my mind. First the security instructions, next an introduction to the hotel, then the complete tourist’s guide to the Moon:
<Magical Moon! Who hasn’t dreamed of staying on the Moon, that magical star of our earthly nights? For your stay on the Moon, this guide will give you information about the Moon, the main tourist sites and guided tours, plus the best restaurants, concerts, and means of transportation...> Tired, I dozed off and lost track of the telepathic tour guide.
When I woke up, he was talking about the caves on the Moon. <Don’t miss a visit to Hadley’s Cavern, in the Ocean of Storms region, the vast volcanic plain. It’s the entryway to an enormous network of tunnels that stretch out beneath the surface of the Moon. This cavity was formed by the collapse of a lava tunnel, perhaps due to a meteorite impact. Before the formation of the lunar atmosphere, humans installed their first bases of space conquest here. These vast caves were dug out by lava during a time when the young Moon experienced intense volcanic activity. They formed the network of tunnels that fan out under a layer of rocks that is several hundred meters thick. The first astronauts built their bases here in order to protect themselves from radiation, meteorites, and temperature extremes. The temperature in the tunnels was stable, getting no colder than the coldest caves on Earth. On the cave walls, you can see representations of the primitive vessels and the gods worshiped by the men of that era. There are also representations of flying humans...>
I turned toward Jek to express my surprise. “Do you hear what they just said?”
“What? I wasn’t listening; I unbuckled my seat belt.”
“They said that humans used to fly!”
“That’s true. Living on the Moon, they would have fun playing with the weak gravity. On the Moon, they were six times lighter than on Earth. Some of them built wings and flew like birds...”
Just before landing, a robot flight attendant handed out respiration masks to us. “A violent regolith storm is sweeping over the Moon. The regolith was produced by the intense and continuous bombardments of meteorites that the Moon underwent for millions of years before it had an atmosphere. This fine powder sticks to everything and inhaling it can be fatal.”
On the Moon, a hostess took charge of us and led us right to the hotel’s teleportation booth. We found ourselves in front of our room, whose door opened after a facial recognition scan. The air in the room was saturated with the aromas of intoxicating perfumes. A muted light filtered in from invisible sources. The air conditioning system detected the heat from our bodies and kicked on to adjust the temperature of the room. Bouquets of scented flowers brightened up the space with enchanting fragrances. All of this created an ambiance of an intimate cocoon.
After getting settled in our room, we went up to dine in the hotel’s Ganymedian restaurant. Located on the 22nd floor, the restaurant afforded an unobstructed view over Lunatown. The storm’s intensity had subsided, and the dust had started to dissipate. We could now distinguish the pale full Earth rising over the horizon. The Earthlight shown faintly through the city lights.
“You seem tired and you’re dozing off...”
“I feel dizzy and am having trouble swallowing. I feel like I might even faint...”
“You are suffering from the time change, and you need to rest …”
We had just come back to our room and were getting ready for bed when a violent explosion blew out the window. Masked soldiers, dressed in black and suspended from ropes, erupted into the room and opened heavy fire on Jek. I screamed in panic:
“Jek! Jek! Help! Help!”
Through the broken window I saw helicopters hovering in place. The intense gunfire on Jek had split his head in two. The soldiers were leaving now, holding onto the ropes suspended from the helicopters.
Robots from the hotel medical unit helped me to put the two halves of Jek’s head back together and performed the steps to conserve the body before putting it in a coffin. I was transferred along with the coffin to another room. I asked the reception desk to cancel our reservation and book two seats- one for me and one for my husband’s coffin- on the first shuttle leaving for Earth. They informed me that my return flight was scheduled that same night, in 73 hours. So, in spite of myself, I experienced the ancient custom of keeping vigil over the dead. I put myself in complete darkness inside the room.
For the first few hours, I couldn’t stop crying and reproaching Jek:
“Why did you take us to the Moon? I knew that the Spacians would take advantage of it and assassinate you!”
After several hours of lamentations, I was overcome with drowsiness and fell asleep with my head resting on the coffin. When I awoke with a start, I was screaming like a madwoman:
“Jek! Jek! You will live again! I don’t want to lose you! I’m going to clone you!”
I informed no one of my premature return. I contacted the Stemage clinic that specialized in human cloning. They collected skin cells from the body and made a complete copy of the mental processes. Then, I had the body cremated without telling anyone about the death.
After the cremation, I again went to the clinic. They explained to me that the cloning would be done by nuclear transfer of fibroblasts into my enucleated oocytes.
“You will undergo a series of treatments and tests before the oocyte retrieval. We must stimulate your ovaries to obtain a sufficient number of mature oocytes. Cloning can be done in two ways: either by ectogenesis, which is the development of the embryo and fetus in an artificial womb, assuming the various functions of the natural uterus, and he will be delivered to you in eighteen months. He will be the same biological age as Jek was at his death. The advantage of this solution is that we can program the brain with the copy of the mental processes that we have made and obtain a clone that will have the same personality as your husband...”
“So, the clone will be identical to Jek?”
“Not exactly. There will be a biological difference caused by the mitochondrial genome of your enucleated ova and by potential genetic mutations… The second solution would be to implant the embryo in your uterus with the inconveniences of an at-risk pregnancy. And if you succeed in having the baby, you will have to raise him- in the hopes that he would reach adulthood- and when he does reach that age, you would be as old as his grandmother, if you are still alive….”
I chose ectogenesis.
“You will have to have hormone injections twice a day at specific times for 12 days in order to stimulate the ovaries and produce several follicles at the same time. You can do the injections yourself. But during the treatment cycle, you must go regularly to the lab for ultrasounds and blood tests, to monitor the development of the follicles.”
The hormones caused me to swell, and I was very tired. The treatment produced a severe hyperstimulation of my ovaries. At the end of the 12 days of treatment, the ultrasound showed about 40 follicles measuring between 18 and 30 millimeters. I was able to get the trigger shot. 35 hours later, I went to the operating room for the egg retrieval procedure. After giving me a local anesthetic, the gynecologist located the follicles on the ultrasound and aspirated them into a tube.
“We are going to identify the viable eggs, enucleate them and place them in the incubator long enough to thaw out the fibroblasts for the nuclear transfer, which will be done in 2 hours. The fibroblasts will develop in your enucleated eggs and will produce genetic clones of your husband.”
One embryo was selected out of the 30 that had developed. The biologist asked me if I wanted to genetically modify it before the implantation.
“Did the pre-implantation tests show any anomalies?”
“No, but I want to know if you want to correct any flaws that your husband may have had… For example, do you want to increase his physical strength?”
“Yes… I remember that on our wedding night, he wasn’t able to carry me in his arms...”
“Do you want to increase his strength by a factor of ten, or a hundred?”
“Increase it tenfold, that will be enough!”
“OK, but be aware that it will cause his metabolism to be ten times faster...”
“So, he will need to eat ten meals per day...”
“That’s no problem! I will have a gargantuan husband, but he’ll be able to carry me in his arms!”
“Are there other modifications that you would like to make? Make him more handsome, for example, or taller?”
“Yes, he was average height and his long face sometimes made him look like an awful gourd!”
“We can reprogram the parts of the DNA responsible for height and facial features; a few DNA modifications will suffice to change his face. Do you want him to keep the same color of hair and eyes?”
“No! He was blond, but I prefer him to be dark-haired with light eyes.”
“Are there psychological characteristics that you would like to modify?”
“Yes. He was fickle by nature and was always looking at other women.”
“Was he cheating on you?”
“I don’t know, but I suspect he was unfaithful...”
“We can correct that with a simple change to the vasopressin gene...”
“There’s also his grumpy mood in the morning and his tendency to daydream...”
“In 24 hours, we will call you in to be here for the implantation of the embryo into the artificial womb.”
The womb room was enormous. It contained hundreds of large machines, sorts of large, pear-shaped tubs with thick walls and convex glass lids. The wombs were connected to interlacing cables and transparent hoses that were gurgling in unison. They contained clones in all the stages of life, some were still mere embryos, others were babies, children, adolescents, or adults. They all were swimming in clear or tinted liquids.
“In the artificial womb, the embryo develops just like in the mother’s womb. But in its third week, you should talk to him regularly and be attentive to his responses, in order to stimulate him.”
“Will he hear me?”
“Yes, there is an audio amplifier so he can hear sounds coming in from the walls of the womb.”
“What should I say to him?”
“Tell him stories like those that the ancient mothers used to tell their children.”
During this time, I kept having nightmares and bizarre dreams. I dreamed that I was in labor and gave birth to an adult man. One dream kept reoccurring: the Spacians were attacking the clinic, occupying the birthing room and unplugging the wombs… I still remember a strange dream that I had during the third week after cloning: upon leaving his womb, Jek was bicephalous, both of his heads were shaved, and a bird was coming out of each of his mouths… During the last nights leading up to the birth, the nightmares became more frequent and more violent. I often dreamed that I was giving birth to a monster…
Jek was now in the fetal position.
“It’s an innate reflex. He thinks that he’s in his mother’s womb and that it’s almost time to be born,” the caretaker told me.
“Once upon a time...”
“See how his heart beats faster when you talk to him! He’s sensitive to your voice.”
“Once upon a time, a very long time ago, when the Earth was still divided into several states, there was a kingdom called Arabistan. This kingdom had a cruel and abominable king who never was able to satisfy his thirst for human blood. This tyrant of unsurpassed cruelty lived only to gratify his impulses. He fell victim to lycanthropy, a disease that transformed him into a werewolf. He would undergo a metamorphosis every night there was a full moon. The men, women, and children of the entire kingdom were at the mercy of his evil spirit.
“One day, he arrested one of his subjects, a man by the name of Jem Spooner, who had been exiled in a faraway land called the Country of Sam. The man was tortured before being killed by strangulation. After being killed, he was dismembered and delivered to the cannibalistic monarch. But secret recordings of the crime were leaked and circulated around the world, creating a massive wave of disapproval and forcing the Country of Sam- which exercised guardianship over Arabistan- to hold the bloody monarch accountable. But it was discovered that the king still had in his possession the dismembered cadaver’s head. He told the palace coroner to remove some skin cells from the head and use them to clone the assassinated man. The clone was presented to the international press to deny the murder. No one knew that the man presented to the press was merely the clone of the assassinated man.”
Today when I arrived, Jek was holding his feet and sucking his toes.
“Once upon a time...”
When he heard my voice, he burst into loud laughter.
“Once upon a time, a very long time ago, there was a country called the Land of Moors. This country was inhabited by nomadic tribes that warred among themselves, each one jealously defending its territory. A man named the Father of the Nation declared that he wanted to unite these tribes. He first decided to construct a capital. He found that the ideal location to build the new city was along the coast. He went to visit the holy man of the tribe that occupied this part of the territory. ‘I want your blessing to build a capital for our future state here.’ «He wants to invade our territory, » thought the holy man to himself, but he kept his face impassive and said to the Father of the Nation: ‘Do you see that tree? Dig at the base of its trunk and bring me some of the sand you dig up.’ The Father of the Nation obeyed. When he came back with the sand, the holy man recited some inaudible incantations over it. The Father of the Nation, who had kept the sand in his hand, lifted it to his mouth and started to eat it. When he left, the holy man gathered the wise men of the tribe together. ‘We must leave this place! I have had a visit from a man who asked me to bless his project to build a city here. I asked him to bring me some sand and I recited the sayings that were supposed to cause him to go far away from our territory, if he had kept the sand with him, but he ate it! By that act, he canceled out the effectiveness of the incantations I had recited. It is thus written that he will construct his capital here!’”
Today, when I arrived in the womb room, Jek was playing with his umbilical cord. His brain had already been programmed. The clinic asked me to come and attend the birth. I was impatient and filled with emotion; I was crying tears of joy. «At last! The long wait is over, and I am finally going to be able to hold Jek in my arms! » As he came out of the womb, he let out a loud cry that scared me.
“That’s nothing,” the birthing assistant told me. “He just filled his lung with air, and they expanded.”
His skin was all wrinkled and a little purple. He was covered in blood and grease. The machine released him by clipping the umbilical cord that still attached him to it.
“Gaïa!” he cried, leaping into my arms.
He was all slimy and sticky, but in spite of that, I thought he was the most beautiful of all the clones. He had become tall, dark, and extraordinarily handsome.
“Jek! How you’ve changed!”
“Why am I naked? And what was I doing in that machine?”
“Did you forget that you died? I cloned you when the Spacians assassinated you...”
“What are you talking about? I was never assassinated!”
An android came in. “I’m going to take him from you for a moment, so he can get cleaned up and dressed.”
That evening, Jek and I made love. I was relaxed and in a good mood.
“Now, you really deserve your name!” he said as he caressed my hair.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Don’t you know the significance of your name? In mythology, Gaïa was the mother Goddess of the gods; she gave birth to a son without any help from a male and married her son. I am ashamed! I feel guilty to have made love to my mother!”
“I love you, my son! Do you feel good in your new skin?”
“With all the muscles you gave me, I feel that my soul is weighed down with the burden of my body! Frankly, I’m unhappy in my new body...”
“How can you be? It’s so strong and so handsome...”
“Yes, that’s true, but it weighs on me… I would like to be able to explore my previous life. I am going to connect with a hypnotist to rediscover my former self...”
“That’s not necessary, the Clinic has a copy of it. You can consult it whenever you want to.”
“How am I going to explain all the changes that you had me undergo to our friends and my work colleagues?
“Tell them that you took advantage of our trip to the Moon to have a genetic makeover.”
A few days later, I went back to the clinic to see the psychologist. I wanted to know why Jek persisted in denying his death and why he now claimed to be the Spacian ambassador to Earth:
“Ever since his birth, Jek persists in denying his death and has gone back to writing articles and sharing them on the space networks, but instead of lambasting the Spacians, like he used to do, he now praises them and says that he is preparing for their arrival on Earth!”
“He no longer remembers his death and says that he is preparing for the arrival of Spacians on Earth?! Yet in the mental processes that we copied, the Spacians were presented as the enemies of humanity…”
“Now he presents them as their saviors...”
“Before programming him, I myself checked the copy of his mental processes that we had made, and I noticed that he had a highly advanced autobiographical memory…”
“But did he memorize his death?”
“He certainly had memorized and classified the memories of his death. It might be a matter of traumatic amnesia, or a false memory. We are going to investigate to find out when and how he acquired it. Bring him back to the clinic, we are going to verify the programming of his brain.”
This morning, I received a pathy from the clinic informing me that they had detected the origin of Jek’s false memories, and that the psychologist wanted to have a meeting with me.
“Why were you surprised by your husband’s amnesia and by his false memories when you yourself were the one who caused them?”
“Come on, we are going to review the images of you captured by the womb camera. They were recorded one hour after his programming.”
A close-up of me appeared on the screen. My face wore an expression that I had never seen reflected in my mirror. I wore light makeup and a resplendent suit that was not part of my wardrobe.
“Who is that woman who looks so much like me?”
“What do you mean, who is that woman? You can see perfectly well that it’s you!”
The woman sat down next to the womb, took out a tube attached to a hoop that she placed at the level of Jek’s head. A beam of multicolored rays converged on his forehead and started to spin. When it stopped, she started to talk:
“Jek, my darling...”
I recognized my voice.
“It’s Gaïa, your wife. I have just put you to sleep. You are sleeping now. I have established a connection between our mental spaces. You are in a modified state of consciousness. Let my mental suggestions flow toward you. Integrate them as elements of your memory. They programmed you with false memories and want to make you believe you died assassinated by the Spacians. Don’t believe any of that! The inhabitants of the Exterior Worlds are peaceful and want only the best for the inhabitants of Earth...”
“That woman is doing an inception on Jek...”
“What? Don’t you recognize your own voice?”
“That’s not me, it’s a Spacian who’s taken on my shape to get close to Jek!”
“Remember,” continued the woman, “that night at the Earthlight hotel, when you asked me to come up with you to the roof to admire the panoramic view of Lunatown, and I told you, ‘Go up without me; at that height I’ll get dizzy’…”
“I can’t believe it! What a liar!”
“Remember, you went up by yourself and didn’t come back until 36 hours later. Remember. You told me that you went up to the roof of the hotel and that you were admiring the view of Lunatown when a spaceship came down from the sky. Remember. You told me that a Spacian came out of it and offered to take you with him, so he could pass on to you the extraordinary knowledge of the peoples of the Exterior Worlds….”
A counter-inception was done on Jek, and he was able to recover his real memories.
Today, Brigitte brought me to Anubisland to see my parents. I am particularly fond of this animal park where I was born and where I spent part of my childhood. As loving as a female dog, she helped me put on my white cashmere sweater adorned with brown, green, and pink diamonds, and my leather coat trimmed with black fur. Brigitte’s sentimental attachment to me is endless. Now it’s tied to our exclusive sexuality, ever since her breakup with Patrick, her ex-boyfriend. My impressive strength, my golden fleece, my jowls, eyes, and paws make her wildly in love, in the same way a man might love a female top model. She admitted to me once that just hearing my steps aroused in her a stirring sensation of pleasure.
I could never stand her ex! I still clearly remember his unfriendly way of welcoming me, the day Brigitte first brought me to the house.
“Patrick, this is Tep Komondor!” she said as she pulled on my leash and added, “Whoever loves me loves my dog!”
“Oh, great, a dog! You can say goodbye to your quiet evenings watching TV and say hello to the trials of daily walks!”
Obviously, he was extremely impressed by my size. I had raised the hair on my neck and, standing upright, I put my paws on his shoulders. He pushed me back and started yelling at me and threatening me. Then I began to examine his odors. Since there were no interesting odors, I started to sniff between his legs in order to pick up his individual smell.
“Filthy, mangy dog, get away from me!”
“Well, stop yelling at him! You’re only going to get him worked up and he won’t listen to you.”
Over time, my conflict with Patrick continued to get worse. He was used to the exclusive adoration of his girlfriend; he was very jealous and didn’t want to let me in on his territory. He never respected the boundaries of my territory, but I always knew how to push him away, even if it was simply with my imposing bearing and my low, off-putting growls. I put up with Patrick without ever complaining, and when he fought with Brigitte, I was always there to comfort her, licking her lavishly. For her I was a real antidepressant. When she had had a bad day at work and was feeling low, I would do everything to comfort her, even going so far as to act the clown! Contrary to Patrick who was grumpy in the morning, I made sure to always be adorable! Sometimes Brigitte would leave me for an entire day, shut up in the house all alone. But when she came back, I greeted her enthusiastically because I was always happy to see her again. I was ready to do anything for her! She was the center of my world and I only had eyes for her! I spent all my time at her side, whereas Patrick preferred going out with his friends. Brigitte and I became so closely attached to one another that he felt excluded from the relationship. I ended up dethroning him and became the dominant dog in the pack of the household and took his place in Brigitte’s bed.
When we got to the park, we went over to the dog enclosure, passing the birds of prey enclosure on the way. My father saw me and came to meet me.
“Where is mom?”
“Your mother has disappeared! It’s been more than a week. I woke up one night and saw that she wasn’t lying next to me. I tried several times to telepath her, but I haven’t received any answer. I alerted the guards who searched for her everywhere in the park, without finding her. For a while she had been telling me that she could no longer stand life in a zoo and had been asking me to escape with her and meet up with one of the wild packs that prowl around outside the city.”
<Mom! It’s me, Tep! Where are you?>
<I left the park! I have joined up with one of the dog packs that roam the wastelands.>
<Where are these wastelands?>
<They’re in the southwestern outskirts of the city.>
“Dad, mom says she has gone and joined the stray dogs!”
“That’s what I was afraid of!”
Leaving the park, we passed by an ad display calling out to us to recommend a perfume for Brigitte: “Make yourself desirable to your dog! Our new Doggy in Heat perfume will sweep your pet off his feet! This bouquet of scents is formulated with all the pheromones of a female dog in heat!” A message appeared in the air in front of our eyes: “Due to the growing number of stray dogs, the municipal authorities have taken measures to capture and euthanize them...”
“Dammit! I must warn Laika! <Mom, answer!> Shit, I can no longer telepath! We must go look for her!”
We started with the wastelands beyond the periphery. Two sentries raised the alarm by barking furiously from the top of their observation post. This zone was inhabited by stray dogs: dalmatians, chuskies, labskies, chugs, cocker-peis, horgis, pomskies, Shar-Peis, robot dogs…
<Mom, where are you? Brigitte and I are in the wastelands, outside the periphery. We have to talk to you!>
<Follow the train tracks. I will meet you in the vacant lot!>
A pack of seven adults and their little ones, barking ferociously, came up to us. I let out a determined bark with my deep voice.
“Don’t be scared!” I told Brigitte. “They sense your emotions perfectly, and a frightened human has a special odor.”
My mom led us to the intimidating pack that had welcomed her. Our approach set off a chorus of barking. A huge black rottweiler with tawny spots of reddish brown stepped from the pack and came over to meet us. With his massive head held high, his tail raised, and his ears pointed forward, he looked at us suspiciously. A large male followed him.
“This is Socrates, the strongest male and charismatic leader. Everyone obeys him.”
“Listen, Socrates! The packs are all in danger. The municipality has decided to eradicate the stray dogs!”
“How long are we going to take abuse from these creatures who kill other living creatures for the sole pleasure of murder?”
“Not only do men eat us, but they torture us and make us suffer. They claim that our flesh carries an aphrodisiac property and that the more we are tortured before we die, the more these powers will be intensified!”
“Throughout their history, humans have constantly invented cruel games to make even the most harmless beasts suffer and die. Fox hunting, bull fighting, cock fighting and dog fighting, pigeon shooting, their entertainment is killing us!”
“Man is the only animal that kills for pleasure!”
“And with that, he claims to be like the Creator!”
“Men have damaged the climate, poisoned the oceans, destroyed the forests, and massacred the animals!”
“Upon what do they found this ontological dignity that man reserves for himself and that gives him all rights over everything that does not have to do with humans? He used to boast about being the only animal that spoke and claimed that speaking befitted only him! But for a long time now, speaking is no longer the privilege of man; he is no longer anything but an animal among others who speak. Ever since the mutation of our transgenic ancestors- following the manipulations of our genetic makeup by humans- we are endowed with a phonatory system that far outperforms that of men.”
“Let’s flee to the forest and seek refuge among our cousins, the wolves!”
“Come, Laika! We will go alert the packs!”
We had arrived near the periphery, when a dalmatian with a wide smile came to meet us. He had an unusual appearance, wore mismatched clothes, and had a strange look in his eyes. His upper lip was pulled back, uncovering his teeth and giving his face an expression of nervous laughter. He told me telepathically, <O, perfect dog, I am the adorer who loves you!>
“This dalmatian must be nuts!” I said to Brigitte. “Did you hear what he said?”
“He said, ‘O, perfect dog, I am the adorer who loves you!’!”
“I thought that I was the only one who loved you!”
“Stop kidding around!” And to the dalmatian, I said, <What is this nonsense? Are you crazy or what?>
<I am Cob V 987, and I am part of a group of scouts from Setha, a planet located 193,000 billion kilometers from Earth, in the Libra Constellation. The komondor is one of our primary divinities….>
“An extraterrestrial dalmatian!”
<Our species is formed of nonphysical entities. But we are able to go and seek information in other universes and take on the bodies of the beings who live there…>
<And what are you seeking on our planet?>
<Our Planetary Counsel has decided to invade Earth in order to help the animals. We have received an SOS sent out by the animals begging the extraterrestrials to come liberate the Earth from the men who eat them and mistreat them, destroy the environment of the planet, and threaten the existence of the other species. The invasion will take place this year, between October 31 and November 22, when your sun will cross our constellation...>
<With Earth’s entire military arsenal, it will not be a walk in the park!>
<All that privileged crowd will be quickly overpowered!>
<To give you an idea, think for a moment about parasites, a rather frequent phenomenon here. Parasites can modify the behavior of their hosts to the point of taking control of them! Our soldiers will come by the billions to Earth and infect all humans, whose speech will be taken away and who will regress to a quadrupedal state. They will be tucked into the frontal brain lobe of those they infect. They will insure control over them by acting upon the central nervous system. Humans contaminated in this way will be nothing more than puppets.>
“Oh my gosh! Did you hear that, Brigitte? He says that he is an extraterrestrial who has taken on the body of a dalmatian and comes as a scout for an army that is going to invade Earth and take control of humans!”
“What are you talking about?”
“Yes, I mean it, I’m not joking! He says that he comes from Setha, a planet in the Libra Constellation. They have decided to invade Earth! He also claims that I am one of their divinities there!”
“So, it’s true? You are going to invade us?” Brigitte inquired of the dalmatian.
<Affirmative! Our Planetary Counsel has decided to invade Earth in order to help the animals. It will be in three months,> telepathed the dalmatian, who suddenly became very agitated and then scurried off, howling.
“Wait, not so fast! What about us? What are we supposed to do to prepare for this happy event?”
“The time of humans is at an end; the time of animals is beginning!” This message- emitted by an unknown voice and coming from who knows where- was broadcast on the morning of November 13 over all the radio and television waves and on all the social media platforms on Earth. The same day, humans were all infected by an unknown virus that took away their speech and made them into quadrupeds. Brigitte found herself on all fours, unable to speak. So talkative before, she was transformed into a silent and suffering beast. Provisions were quickly depleted, and I had trouble finding enough to feed her.
Millions of blue balloons were released into the sky above all the continents of Earth. They burst as they touched down and Sethian robots emerged from them, swarming over the entire surface of the globe. Multitudes of robots thus disembarked upon the Earth. After recharging themselves in the ambient light, the robots started communicating among themselves. They built mega-zoos and started to corral the humans into them. The old zoos on the planet were decommissioned and the animals set free. On the morning of the third day after the invasion, a Sethian robot materialized before us. He removed Brigitte’s clothes- in spite of my protests- put her on a leash and teleported her to an unknown destination. For 48 hours, I tried in vain to telepath Cobe, to ask him to help me find Brigitte.
I was starting to lose hope when he telepathed me: <My master and sovereign, how pleasing for me to gaze upon you! This is Cobe, your adorer who visits you!>
<Cobe, finally! I am so upset! They have taken Brigitte from me!>
<Like all humans, Brigitte’s place is in the zoo!>
<Cobe, unless you want to experience the wrath of your god, bring Brigitte back to me!>
<O, perfect dog, forgive me! I will do everything I can to bring her back to you! But allow me to stay near you and deign to welcome into your house my animal and his robot pet!>
<You are all welcome. Come whenever you want!>
That very night, Cobe’s animal showed up with his pet robot. And what an animal! A sort of luminescent sphinx with three heads, about the size of a large cat with clawed paws, a long tail wrapped around himself, and multicolored whiskers. Next to him and above his heads floated a sphere of blue light.
<What happiness to arrive at your house, O perfect dog! I am Heris of Cobe and this is Imago, my pet robot,> the animal telepathed me.
<And Cobe, when will he be here?>
<I am here, before you!>
<But I see no one!>
<I am indeed here, but you can not see me. As I have already explained to you, I am immaterial, which is not the case for my animal and his robot...>
<Do you have any news of Brigitte?>
<No, but I have submitted an appeal for her to receive human pet status!>
<Yes. Our Counsel has provided this special status for humans who used to be animal rights activists...>
<So, Brigitte can walk on two legs again and regain her speech?>
<No! Human pets will always be speechless quadrupeds, like all other humans. But they can live with their preferred animal, if that animal accepts them.>
While I was telepathing with Cobe, the sphere of light lowered itself down to ground level and almost immediately transformed into a female komondor dog! I stood stock still, transfixed by the violent surge of my emotions!
<Tep, my darling, come to me!>
<Don’t look so stunned,> Cobe telepathed me. <Imago has simply deciphered the elements of your genome to configure herself into the female version of you. She is genetically unique. Polymorphous and mutant, she is endowed with a plasticity that allows her to take on any form. She can pare down a major part of her genes to the point of modifying her original genome. When she wants to put on a new form, her genome divides into fragments of very active, mobile DNA called jumping genes which then multiply and modify the genome of her cells by inserting themselves along her entire DNA chain...>
Cobe continued to telepath to me, but I was no longer listening to him, my body seized by a violent fever, the uncontrollable desire for Imago Komondor. I let out a wolf howl and started to sniff her chin, her lips, the skin of her muzzle, then started licking her whiskers and cheeks before moving on to the fold between her mammary glands…
The fever of desire for Imago Komondor remained with me. But after a few weeks, the memory of Brigitte came back even stronger. I lost sleep and my appetite over it. I was panicking and crying all the time. I started losing my fur, pinned my ears back, and couldn’t stop licking my nose and lips. I yawned continuously and panted abnormally. I chewed obsessively and my behavior became self-destructive. I was hurting myself and chewing on the furniture. I barked incessantly.
Cobe was worried about me. He reproached Imago for it: <Imago, you should pay more attention to Tep! Don’t you see that he’s in a terrible state?>
<I spend more time with him than I do with Heris. I’ve tried everything to alleviate his stress. But his adrenal glands are still overactive, flooding his organism with cortisol. I had to regulate cerebral transmission to help him adapt his neuronal connections and I adjusted his pituitary gland to control adrenal production. He is stressed because he has lost Brigitte.>
<I am going to have to speed up her liberation then. She will be part of the first batch of human pets.>
The Sethian robots transformed the face of the Earth. They brought advanced technology from Setha, decontaminated the planet, replaced electric energy with photosynthetic energy, and transportation with teleportation; they developed soil-free agriculture, revolutionized education for animals with universal downloads directly into the brain, and attacked the Earth’s toxic atmosphere so as to change it with their geo-engineering technology. They grew plants that released oxygen and destroyed the carbon gas cycle. Then they began to gather rocks from the asteroid belt, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and store them in deposits to change the mass of the Earth with a view to modify its axis of rotation and alter the seasons.
Three months after the occupation, Brigitte came back to the house, even more miserable, and still speechless and on four legs. Cobe included her into our Circle of Fraternity that communicated by telepathy. Each of us was connected to the others and shared their declarative, episodic, and autobiographical memories. I could thus access all the events that Brigitte had personally lived through, in their temporal and spatial context, with their sensory and phenomenological details.
She had been teleported to the mega zoo of Nouakchott, one of the first to be constructed by the Sethians. The zoo covered thousands of hectares. It was an immense human zoo, with thousands of main pens and multiple outbuildings. <You can not imagine the repulsion I felt when I was teleported into my cage. The unbearable smell, the excrement on the ground, the sweat from the packed bodies, the dying children, the smell of distress and despair, the barred cages. We communicated with facial expressions, body posture, and by touching the person we wanted to communicate with. A trough, always filled to overflowing with multicolored pills, was attached to the bottom of the bars. What shocked me the most- seeing the gigantic images of the zoo that floating around the cages, transforming the ambient air into a three-dimensional screen- was the density at which we were cooped up. Millions of people of all races- men, women, children, adults and old people- all piled up in overcrowded cages. The cramped cages and naked bodies created an unbearable promiscuity. Each day, thousands were taken away to an unknown destination. The Sethians proved to be totally devoid of pity and consideration for the humans. Their ultimate goal seems to be to eliminate the human species!>
Brigitte found herself with ten others- two women with children and three men, one of whom was a large black man- in a cage smaller than a double bed. As soon as she arrived, the black man jumped on top of her and raped her. And so began an infernal cycle of repeated sexual assaults. <I was in a permanent war-like situation, living in the utmost anguish, with a constant feeling of insecurity and danger. The psychological and physical suffering was intolerable. The painful awareness of imprisonment, the hell of oppressive promiscuity, the insomnia, and the mental and physical strain all gave me the feeling of imminent death.>
The large black man, the strongest of the men, was constantly provoking the other two in order to insure their submission, adopting dominant body language with expansive gestures and meaningful facial expressions. Frustrated, they ended up maiming him cruelly, to the point of emasculating him and killing him. Clouds of flies congregated on the body, which was never removed. <The cadaver began to swell, almost doubling in volume, before bursting. It was swimming in a suppurating oily liquid. The tongue hung out and the skin peeled off. The worst part was the putrid smell of death, an absolutely vile odor that suffocated us day and night, mixed also with the smell of excrement.> Cobe explained to me that they couldn’t bury the cadavers or burn them because they might contaminate the subsoil and the groundwater table.
Brigitte’s testimony moved me deeply. I decided to ask my mom to put me in contact with Socrates. I wanted to ask him to help me convince the stray dogs to form a canine society for the protection of humans.
<Mom, we should raise awareness among the stray dogs about the issue of more than ten billion humans who are suffering from harsh treatment and negligence at the hands of the Sethians. The humans are cooped up in open air zoos where they are exposed to the wind, cold, heat, and bad weather. They are piled up in cages, crawling over those who are already dead. The women give birth in the cages and their babies almost never survive. This situation is shocking and alarming... >
<They are only getting what they deserve! Didn’t they make us suffer for centuries?”
<That’s true, but it’s not only my sensitivity to the pain inflicted on humans that makes this action necessary. It’s also because I’m aware that there’s only a small step between cruelty to humans and cruelty to animals... >
<We have nothing to fear from the Sethians. Didn’t you tell me that they worship animals? >
<That’s not unique to the Sethians. In many human societies, animals were considered to be living incarnations of their main deities and were idolized as sacred, but that didn’t prevent them from being mistreated and eaten! We must act to insure the protection and defense of humans. The Sethians should take steps to insure their well-being. Improving the lot of humans is a challenge for our animality. >
Tucked beneath its solar panels, the twelve-wheel drive cruiser carrying the French teacher and his team whizzed across the immense desert at a dizzying speed. Its wheels skidded horizontally, leaving wide scars in the sand. Like a raging fire fanned by the wind, the cruiser ran along the surface of the quartz dunes, rushing down into the valleys, soaring up over the peaks, and then dipping down again. As it passed by, the desert came to life. Small lizards shot off like lightening and big ones dove quickly, like fish, or played dead, holding stock still. The clever fennec fox spread its big ears and then lept away to escape the enemy. Frightened gazelles bounded off in rapid leaps, racing away at top speed. The ash-colored hare scampered off, constantly turning around to the left and to the right, always thinking it was being followed, and the jerboas- the same color as the sand- hopped along on their long springy back legs. The large desert lark swiftly winged away, abandoning its desiccated locust… But the overpowered speedster was so fast that it outdistanced all this wildlife, each animal freezing or bolting in an effort to save itself.
The cruiser remained stable, no matter how steep the passing slopes were, so the materials on board were completely secure. Often, rows of shifting dunes straddled huge sand massifs, and only rarely did these formations subside. The cruiser attacked them head on to maintain its course. Sometimes, it followed wide, unbroken, parallel valleys covered with patches of vegetation. The three front cameras, as well as the one located in the back, provided direct views of the ground and was constantly analyzing its configuration. The laser beam alert systems also served to control the trajectory and modify the speed parameters. The sensors embedded into the seats adjusted them as the passengers changed positions, which assured their comfort, as did the perfectly maintained temperature of the purified air. The optoelectronic systems and the communication instruments, which allowed for driverless navigation, guided the cruiser toward its pre-programmed destination.
At the hottest point of the day- just as the vehicle and its shadow were completing their high-speed chase- there appeared on the side of a large dune some white cone-shaped roofs, lost in the midst of the immense and silent solitude. A wee boy, who was driving an unruly donkey toward the encampment, suddenly saw this strangely caparisoned animal, drenched in the blinding reflections of the sun, barreling down the tall, crumbling slope at top speed. The child started to run away, but the monster had already come to a stop in front of the chief’s tent, which was set up in the middle at a distance from the others. The camp echoed with the bleating and blatting of baby goats and lambs, the shouts of children, voices calling to one another, women chatting while they hastily spread out smooth mats of bright and varied colors in the shelter of piled up sacks, setting out cushions here and there.
The men came out to welcome the visitors with blessings and the customary long-winded greetings. “Greetings upon you! Welcome! Welcome! Come on in and may the welcome you find here be great and generous!”
“No troubles, praise be to God!”
“I hope that you are in peace?”
“Thanks be to God!”
“And in good health?”
“Thanks be to God!”
A bald man with a hooked nose and a thinning beard, his face wrinkled and tanned from the sun, shouted in the French teacher’s face, suffocating him with his rank breath. “On your way here, did you happen to see a large short-haired gelding, marked with a crescent, that wandered off yesterday?”
“I hope that you have encountered nothing but goodness!” called out another.
“All goodness and peace!”
Clearly the visitors were not playing along with this litany of salamalecs. A suspicious and awestruck crowd surrounded the cruiser, jostling each other and shouting. In the tent, the young people who were permitted to attend the reception were grouped behind the notables. Servants and children stayed by the entrance, on the edge of the shadows. Curdled milk mixed with water was served.
“Quench your thirst fully! It’s very hot today!”
A delicious aroma of green tea spread throughout the tent and soon their small glasses were filled with the hot, amber-colored, fragrant liquid, which the guests hastily gulped down, making lots of noise and unafraid of burning themselves. A yellowish-brown adolescent with a filthy boubou tied at the back of his neck and hiked halfway up his legs over his pleated trousers, brought the pitcher and copper wash basin. Of medium height, with slender, well-proportioned limbs and peppercorn hair, he curled his thin lips, especially his upper lip, causing his triangular nose to wrinkle slightly. His belt- a braid of thin multicolored strips of rounded leather- hung down to his ankles. The grilled meat was served on a large platter, placed directly on the mat in the middle of the guests. The meal did not last long. Everything was quickly torn to shreds, crunched, slurped and swallowed, and the satisfied guests were soon scraping the grease off their hands which they then rubbed on their legs to soften their calluses from riding their camels. They spoke of dried-up pastures, weather that was not as it should be, and wayward livestock… They conversed in measured voices, sitting directly on the ground, their legs folded cross-legged, or stretched out, casually propped on the cushions, their turbans bunched up under their elbows, ready to succumb to the torpor and doze off, lulled by the successive rounds of tea.
This smoker untied the small leather cord which closed his tobacco pouch, to unfold it flat on his left hand. He took his engraved, bone and copper pipe out of it and ran the pipe cleaner through it before blowing away the leftover burned tobacco. Then he crushed a bit of tobacco taken from the last pocket of his tobacco pouch, packed the pipe by pressing the tobacco down with his right index finger, took out the amadou tinder, flint, and striker, pinched a little clump out of the ball of organic fiber, held it between his thumb and index finger, and drew the striker sharply across the flint to make a spark that caught the fiber on fire. He placed the fiber into the pipe with the pointed end of the striker, pulled on the pipe stem, rejecting this first puff and breathing in a second one, which he inhaled with a quick hiccup before releasing columns of the purified white smoke through his nose… The call of the muezzin rang out, very close by, and faded away in echos across the surface of the dazzling swells running between the tents.
When the sun slightly loosened its implacable grip, delivering the shadows of the tents to the lethargy of the afternoon, the director of "HOPE" addressed the notables gathered there:
“First of all, I want to thank you for your hospitality. It is a source of great satisfaction for us to begin our campaign this year with the children of your camp. Our fight to educate nomadic children in French began back in the year 2000, but it wasn’t until the end of the ‘30’s that we initiated our FRENCH NOMADIC HOPE program to save the endangered French language. For several years before that, the French language was listed in the UNESCO World Atlas of Endangered Languages, and children were no longer learning it as their native language growing up. This ambitious project aims to save the French language- which is on the brink of extinction- in the memories of nomadic Mauritanian children, far from the voracity of the hegemonic language.”
After the director of HOPE, the Regional Director for the Conservation of the French Language recalled the efforts of the Government to save this endangered language and praised the intelligence of the nomadic children, who are “the best repository for this sacred deposit,” before giving the floor to the UNESCO representative:
“I have come to pass along our General Manager’s congratulations to you who have placed what you cherish most, your own children, at the service of the ideals of UNESCO. Your action lends a special touch to the work and mission of UNESCO. You have committed yourselves and have generously accepted to dedicate your children’s talents and memories to the service of the conservation of an endangered language- French- without holding a grudge against its past as the language of the colonizer. With your participation in the conservation of the French language, you are providing a very important contribution to the propagation of UNESCO objectives in one of its most important areas of expertise, saving endangered languages.
“FRENCH NOMADIC HOPE is affiliated with the UNESCO Endangered Languages Program, which classifies it as one of the best examples of projects for the conservation of languages. It appears on its Registry of Best Practices for conserving languages. Language loss is a detriment to the relationship between humanity and biodiversity, because languages are the vehicle for much knowledge about nature and the universe. The extinction of a language leads to the extinction of many forms of intangible cultural heritage, in particular the precious heritage made up of oral traditions and expressions- from poems and legends to proverbs and jokes- of the community that spoke it.
“The data concerning languages is worrisome: out of the 6,700 languages that existed worldwide at the beginning of the century, more than 6,200 of them have died out over the last three decades- 129 of them are critically endangered, 142 are severely endangered, 132 endangered, and 97 vulnerable. If nothing is done, 99% of languages will most likely disappear by the end of this century.”
The French teacher, for his part, was brief:
“This afternoon I will make your children into artists, philosophers, and scientists… In the blink of an eye, I will teach them all the knowledge of humanity; I will take them into the world of geniuses; I will open their enlightened minds to the realms of every possibility. Thanks to direct and instantaneous downloads of French files into their memories, your children will no longer even need to go to school! The download room is located in the central cabin; I am going up there right now. Send your children in one by one.”
The first child went up into the cruiser. His head was shaved except for his bangs and curls on top. His charming face revealed the earnestness of those who want to learn, but above all great fear. He was shaking. The computer-generated doorkeeper on the little screen above the door announced, “K1 – NG -MII! Memory SDRAM DDR. Capacity 75 Go!”
“What kind of dumb-ass digital doorkeeper are you, introducing people that way?” said the Narrator indignantly. “It’s a child, not a computer!”
The room’s metallic walls were covered with screens and mirrors. The French teacher got rid of the clothes the child was wearing and put a nonwoven fleece coverall on him. He had him sit down under a helmet into which he placed his head, hooked up the auditory and tactile stimulators, and lowered a screen down in front of him, right in his field of vision, before sitting down off to the side. Anatomical images were displayed on the screens, allowing the teacher to navigate through the different cross-sections and locate the main regions of the brain (the occipital, temporal, frontal, and parietal lobes) as well as the principal brain structures (the hemispheres, cerebellum, cerebral cortex, gray matter, white matter, corpus callosum, hippocampus…) and decipher the waves emitted by the neurons.
The recordings provided almost instantaneous data on the reactions of the child’s cortex to the stimulus. The teacher controlled the computer with his thoughts. As for me, the omniscient Narrator- all-knowing and unable to hide anything from you, dear readers- I was reporting to you his deeds and gestures. The computer analyzed the waves and reproduced them as words or images, filtered through the neuronal vibrations and brain signals, measured conscious thoughts and concentration levels, and also detected all facial expressions and even emotions, in real time. The teacher could see his student’s brain think, function, or fail.
Next, the teacher completely eliminated everything that was contained in the child’s memory, careful to save everything. He had the child undergo an artificial reincarnation by transferring his digitized mind into the computer before making the transfer of the digitized information into his brain, which had to be reformatted in order to start with a clean slate. Then the teacher annihilated the right side of the brain, which is linked to creativity, and stimulated the left side to increase the RAM capacity. He replaced the bits of the brain with quantum bits, or q-bits. The advantage of a quantum brain is its ability to take in a very large amount of values and its ability to simultaneously deal with several cultures at the same time. With a 300 q-bit quantum brain, the child will be able to manage about 1090 different pieces of information, or more than the number of atoms in the observable universe. There will no longer be any limit to how fast he learns or how much he can remember.
Garlie, a girl of 16, was the last one to be sent to the French teacher. Her arrival imbued the cabin with a pleasant and very unique scent of burnt resin. The incorrigible electronic doorkeeper announced, “Q1 – NF – MX! Memory SDRAM DDR. Capacity 103 Go.”
The new student took a few tiny steps forward, moving her right hip forward and her left hip backwards, all while giving light shakes to her rump, skillfully, highlighting her Callipygian Venus’s steatopygia. A light veil enlivened with colorful geometric patterns, predominantly black, was wrapped around her voluptuous body. Henna had woven delicate lace upon her hands and feet, transforming them into rich, skillfully drawn illuminations. She tirelessly rubbed her teeth with a stick. The teacher put the tip of his tongue against his bottom teeth, formed his lips into the shape of a heart, and let out a long whistle of admiration.
“Be careful, lubricious French teacher! That might get you sued for sexual harassment of a minor!” warned the Narrator, scandalized by this overly casual behavior.
While the teacher helped her put on the suit, the veil slipped off Garlie’s shoulders, revealing a cascade of braided hair dotted with pearls and the carnelian necklace upon her naked chest. She stared at the teacher with a profound look and, with a voracious gesture of her small, flexible, and expressive hands loaded with rings and bracelets, readjusted the wrapping of the veil, tightening it narrowly around her face, which was the color of a ripe date. «You could say she succeeded in getting dolled up for the occasion, » thought the teacher.
“Oh, no! Don’t kid yourself, Missssster!” called out the Narrator, reprimanding his character so that the reader would not be fooled.
In fact, if Garlie made herself so beautiful, dear readers, it is certainly not for the French course, but because the wedding of her cousin Maimouna was celebrated yesterday. Recently, Maimouna had succeeded in gaining weight. She wasn’t just getting fatter; she was literally swelling up. The men of the camp only had eyes for her, forsaking Garlie, even though she was much prettier, but had the fault of not being as plump. Yet her mother had tried everything to fatten her up. For months, she put the azayyar, vice, on her foot and force-fed her. For breakfast, she served her camel hump dumplings washed down with a gourd full of milk. For lunch, she gorged her with bread crumbs and peanuts and mush, with more milk. She then had to drink a gourd full of curdled milk. For dinner, she gave her semolina mixed with still more milk, after which she had to ingest yet again six to seven liters of milk. And in the middle of the night, she woke her up to drink a few more liters.
Sometimes, unable to swallow, Garlie’s drenched mouth remained inside the heavy gourd filled with milk that was difficult to hold up in her hands, but that she could not get rid of while her mother watched her sternly and held her foot between the vice clamp which might close at any moment. To avoid this torture, she pretended to drink the milk, but in reality, only touched her lips to it. But each time she felt her foot crushed between the jaws of the azayyar and felt an atrocious pain like a wild beast caught in a cruel trap. “So, Garlie! You think that you can fool me? Are you going to keep me up all night because you refuse to drink your milk?” shouted her mother, squeezing even harder. She held back a cry and almost let go of the gourd. Milk trickled from her mouth and chin down her throat and onto her chest, making white streaks on her melhfa. “I beg you, Mama, let me breathe a little, just for a moment. You know that I’m on my seventh gourd. I feel like I’m going to throw up if I keep drinking.”
“Keep drinking and be quiet! Too bad if you puke!” said her mother in a no-nonsense tone, pinching her thigh painfully. So Garlie plunged her open mouth back into the milk and forced herself to drink as much as she could, hoping to feel the vice loosen on her foot.
The day before, Garlie had gone to find her cousin, crying.
“Maimouna, I beg of you! Don’t leave me to stay on the mat of my parents’ tent until I’m an old maid! Have pity on me and tell me your secret!”
“My poor dear, you know what the proverb says: ‘a woman occupies in her man’s heart the space she occupies in his bed.’ If you want to get fat quickly like I did, take Lub-dub...”
“Yes, Lub-dub, the fattening pill. They named it for the sound of men’s heartbeats, which start to accelerate when they are in the presence of a woman who is taking it.”
“Cousin! Can you give me some?”
“No, unfortunately! I just finished up the only container that I had.”
“Give it to me, my father will bring me back one when he goes to Atar.”
Not knowing how to read, Garlie couldn’t do more than observe at length the empty container of the miracle cure. Wide, black markings were prominently displayed on the container, overshadowing the yellow, orange, and red pictograms. A red frame appeared prominently under the pictograms. Many other markings appeared over the entire surface. She ended up putting the container inside her jewelry box.
When Garlie finally came out of the cabin, her quantum brain clock read 00:15 o’clock. The entire camp and its surroundings were flooded with the stark light of the cruiser’s headlights, as if a thousand suns had risen in the night. The livestock would not keep still and bawled fearfully. The camels pinned back their ears in fright and watched with their great, glistening eyes.
After her mental restructuring, Garlie found that she loved the French language, which she associated with the colonizer, the worst enemy. But what bothered her more than anything else was that little gentleman, decked out in a redingote and a beret, perpetually holding a baguette under his arm and a bottle of red wine in his hand, who kept running around inside her brain. The entire French culture, living and dead- like the cat who is living and dead at the same time in quantum physics- had come to line itself up inside her brain, all in one very straight line. All knowledge in French had been piled up in a sort of little circular and transparent porthole, located just in front of her, where all understanding had been accumulated and was self-evident. The past, the present, and the future had merged together into a single instant. The formatting had shed its unremitting light into every corner of her consciousness, laying bare all knowledge. Garlie suddenly discovered the meaning of every word, every field of understanding. Nothing about any being or thing escaped her now. From now on she longed for foreign lands and was able to see what was actually not visible. But as a result of all those downloads into her brain, she could no longer find her self. Her consciousness had become a veritable battlefield where spirits fought each other to gain control. She no longer knew where to direct her thoughts. Schizophrenia, the coexistence of cultures was not yet up and running!
Back in her parents’ tent, the stark light had spared no nook or cranny. It was impossible to change clothes. She took off her jewelry and opened her jewelry box to put it away. And, oh, what a surprise! What Maimouna called “Lub-dub” was Melengestrol acetate, a hormonal feed additive to promote growth in cattle by suppressing the estrous cycle and improving the feed conversion ratio and the rate of weight gain. The instructions on the container specified that it should not be consumed by reproductive animals. Human use of this veterinarian product causes cardio-vascular disease, kidney failure, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, diabetes, arterial hypertension, hemorrhaging, and ultimately leads to death.
«Poor Maimouna! If only she knew how to read! »
A celestial body four times bigger than the Moon was approaching the Earth at a speed of 19 kilometers per second. The chance of collision was certain. Its classification as Level 10 on the Torino Scale meant that it would set off a planet-wide disaster. The collision would be so powerful that the Earth’s orbit would be thrown off. The impact would be apocalyptic.
The world Government had been searching for the best way to protect the Earth from such a collision. The debates were transmitted directly into the brains of all the female citizens of the world. Experts paraded before the crisis committee, each one presenting her solution, from the most credible to the most preposterous. Finally, it was decided to set off near the celestial body a nuclear bomb powerful enough that the shock wave produced by the explosion would cause it to deviate from its course. But how to find an atomic bomb whose explosion would produce a blast powerful enough to cause such a gigantic celestial body to deviate from its trajectory? That’s when the President got her life-saving idea:
“Our planet is facing another terrible danger, represented by the hundreds of thousands of nuclear weapons, produced by the folly of men during that detestable era of masculine power. The accidental detonation of even one of these weapons would bring about catastrophic consequences from which the Earth could never recover. The threat weighing upon our planet today offers us the opportunity to get rid of nuclear arms and no longer live under the threat of these massive weapons of destruction. Let us also get rid of toxic waste and all hazardous products at the same time. Let us construct enough cargo spaceships, collect the entire global nuclear arsenal, and transport it to an appropriate distance from the threat. The explosion will produce a blast powerful enough to shift it into a new trajectory. We will kill two birds with one stone: eliminating the threat of nuclear disaster and protecting the Earth from the giant impact!”
In two years, the spaceships were ready, but gathering all the nuclear arms of the world took longer than planned. When the wayward planet was visible in the sky, like a shiny star growing bigger and bigger, the deviation mission was able to be launched at last. Each vessel had its female flight commander. Saphodesiresse was one of the flight commanders. She was proud to participate in the deviation mission and knew that it was a unique moment in the history of humanity. She lead one of the control teams and was responsible for all the operations and made all the decisions to successfully complete her vessel’s flight. There were hundreds of teams taking care of monitoring the mission, with three teams rotating shifts every nine hours. These women were confined to the Space Center for the duration of the mission. Each flight commander chose her own color which became her symbol. The color chosen by Saphodesiresse was violet and her team of controllers was designated as “Violet Team.” Inside the windowless control room at the Space Center, there were rows of consoles for monitoring and supervising the different systems of the spaceships and the operations of the mission.
Tonight, when the next shift arrived to take over, Saphodesiresse swallowed her energy mint and went downstairs to go to sleep. She lay down on her back in her bed, thought ardently about Sherylbillie and initiated foreplay. She was an expert at foreplay. The action she thought about in her brain became real elsewhere, but not as a unilateral transfer of data from her brain to that of her partner; instead it was a mental fusion that brought about a symbiosis between both women’s bodies and minds. Saphodesiresse and Sherylbillie were now kissing each other all over and taking their time giving each other long, erotic massages. Both women’s hand roamed, caressing her partner’s body to test her reactions and find what drove her crazy…
One morning the teams were ready for the launch. The ignition sequence started, all the motors were running, and all the vessels took off at the same time. By now they had reached their cruising rate and flew at close to the speed of light.
After months of travel through space, the vessels were placed in orbit, at the appropriate distance from the giant planet. Ignition set off a colossal, clustered explosion, a series of nearly simultaneous luminous flashes. The explosion generated a shock wave that grew at more that 10,000 kilometers per hour, radiating out several thousand kilometers from the point of impact. The blast created by the nuclear conflagration literally swept the giant planet aside, altering its orbit by approximately 578,000 kilometers.
Saphodesiresse got ready to leave the Space Center at the end of her very long detainment. On her way out, she passed by a drink kiosk, stopped at one of the machines, and mentally ordered a taurine-maltodextrin-inositol-carnitine-ginkgo biloba cocktail. The machine produced an ocher liquid in an enclosed, transparent cup. She took it with a straw that she inserted into the slats on the lid and left the Space Center sipping on her cocktail.
It was not raining that night, it was pouring! The wind gusted. The traffic lights swayed like wheat in a field. She felt the ground shake beneath her feet. Sharp smells suffocated her and irritated her eyes. Overcome by a sudden coughing fit, she quickly put her mask back on. She dashed into the Skytran entrance, placed her hand flat on the identification screen on the handrail, thinking of where she wanted to go. A monotone voice, without inflections, announced, “Your capsule will arrive in five seconds!”
The giant impact had been avoided. But when the giant planet hurtled past the Earth, it caught the Moon! The moon started to move away from the Earth at a speed of 19 kilometers per second. The Earth no longer had seasons and started making a full rotation every six hours. Its axis began to oscillate and then change constantly, like Venus. The oceans no longer had waves, women could no longer procreate without ovarian stimulation, and the weather spun completely out of control. Antarctica became a desert, while the tropics were covered in ice. Winds of unprecedented speed and gigantic cyclones permanently swept across every inch of the globe. In order to survive, the world population had to take refuge in underground cities or emigrate to other planets.
In this devastated world, Saphodesiresse and Sherylbillie had not given up on having their daughter. They applied for the ovarian stimulation training course in order to prepare for their pregnancy. But it took a long time to get approved. And on the day they were scheduled to start, they went to the enormous tent where the training was to take place. There, a few thousand women were gathered- some of them relaxing, others scrolling through the training course agenda- when a great clamor rose up: “Lesbos! Lesbos! Lesbos!”
The Guru had just appeared on the stage. She was wearing a long white coat and had her red hair tied back in a high ponytail. A few seconds were all she needed to connect to the participants’ brains. <Today, without the Moon, your blood no longer flows; you can no longer get pregnant due to irregular or nonexistent ovulation. The moon used to create waves on the Earth, as in you; it interacted with the electromagnetic fields of your bodies and affected your internal physiological processes. The cycles during which the Moon revolved around the Earth and its own rotation were the same length as your hormonal cycle. Your menstrual cycle was conceived to be synchronous with the lunar cycle. You were programmed to ovulate with the full moon and bleed with the Black moon. But your ovum can develop and grow without the Moon, they just need to be stimulated. The purpose of the training course is to prepare you for pregnancy, by stimulating your ovaries.
<Now stand up! Concentrate on your ovaries. Bring the ovarian energy through the uterus all the way to the perineum. Raise the energy through the spinal column and up to your brain. Lower it now to your belly button where it will be kept on reserve. Continue lowering it to your deepest cavity…. Your ovaries will listen to your heart from now on. Massage your breasts, to increase their sensitivity. Now we are going to go through the motions of mating in order to stimulate your fertility and prepare you for hormonal treatment.
<Let us pray together for the return of the Moon. Repeat after me. O, Moon, all powerful, do not abandon us to our misery. Deign to listen with favor to the prayers we address to you at this time. O, Moon, come back! Our mother the Earth is dying, consumed with the grief inflicted by your loss! O, legitimate daughter of Theia and of our mother the Earth, show us that you are our sister. O, Moon, Queen of the sky, we beg you from the bottom of our hearts- come back to your mother, the Earth!>
When Sherylbillie and Saphodesiresse came to the insemination center, a robot with feminine morphology welcomed them with a wide smile, hands and arms open in an expansive gesture, a sign of welcome and invitation.
“Follow me. The Gynecologist will see you right away!”
The Gynecologist, standing behind her desk, was tapping away on a keyboard. She wore an immaculate suit and matching boots.
“Which of you will be inseminated?” asked the Gynecologist, looking from one woman to the other. She had cameras instead of eyes.
“Me!” answered Saphodesiresse. “I will carry our baby for the first five months. Then, the embryo will be extracted from my womb and transplanted into Sherylbillie’s.”
“Your pregnancy will be a thelytokous parthenogenesis which will produce a one hundred percent parthenogenetic girl. For the five months of your pregnancy, your partner will follow a treatment to increase the volume of her uterus, so it can receive the baby. Here, swallow this! It’s an antispasmodic to relax the uterus.”
The android had them lay down on the gynecological tables with their feet in the stirrups. She disinfected their vulvae and vaginas, laid out the surgical drape, put the specula in place, and inserted the ultrasound probe. Then, the Gynecologist proceeded to perform the retrieval, collecting eggs from both partners. She guided a needle through the vaginal wall of each woman, directing it toward the ovaries and proceeded to draw the eggs out of each follicle seen on the ultrasound. The orientation of the screens permitted both women to follow along throughout the procedure.
“I will fertilize them immediately after the egg retrieval.”
She came back with a very thin tube that she guided through Saphodesiresse’s cervix, so that the tip extended into her uterine cavity. She pressed down on the syringe on the other end of the tube, which expelled the drop containing the embryo into the uterus. On the screens, they could see a spot inside the cavity. The embryo was in its nest!
“All done! Remain lying down for a few minutes!”
This was the day to visit the virtual cemetery and remember their cat Kaya. Saphodesiresse and Sherylbillie sat down, dressed up in their suits, facing each other knee to knee, hands in hands, and closed their eyes.
“Kaya, our thoughts leap joyously across the Web, all the way to your cemetery!”
“Kaya, we love you so much! You still exist, to the extent that you survive in us!”
“Your tomb sends us back to life. You live on within us. We can not forget you!”
“The Earth has become uninhabitable since you left us. The Moon has abandoned her!”
“Did you know that our daughter was conceived yesterday? I will carry her for the first five months, and then it will be Sherylbillie’s turn.”
“How we would have loved to see you play with our little girl!”
“We offer you this bouquet of dahlias to show our faithfulness and to express to you our wish that you are happy in the other world!”
Three years after the Capture and after years of space travel, a flotilla of magnetic tractors was able to reach the Moon in its new orbit. Each vessel carried spheres containing tons of paint and had on board a strong permanent magnet, which, due to its long-lasting field and its extremely large coercive field magnet, had the ability to exert a formidable force of attraction on all ferromagnetic material.
The vessels were now orbiting around the runaway planetoid, Earth’s ex-companion. Their altitude continued to decrease, until they reached 0.9 kilometers, the distance from which the bombs were supposed to be cast off. Now, the cameras showed jets of fine dust emitted from the surface of the Moon. The gigantic spheres rained down, falling at terminal velocity onto the lunar surface. They had been released in several successive waves. Upon impact, they exploded, covering the entire surface of the Moon with a thick layer of ferromagnetic paint, magnetized and degradable.
A magnetic attraction occurred between the Moon and the vessels loaded with magnets. And when the space tugs chugged off in the direction of Earth, they were dragging the Moon behind them, slowly changing its trajectory.