Chapter 1 : Wake Up Call

Chapter 2 : Back From the Dead

Chapter 3 : So This is the Future

Chapter 4 : The Scientists

Chapter 5 : Catching Up

Chapter 6 : The Woman

Chapter 7 : Questions

Chapter 8 : Being A Ghost

Chapter 9 : Chiang Wu

Chapter 10: Tomorrowland

Chapter 11: The Committee

Chapter 12: Fear of Flying

Chapter 13: The Job

Chapter 14: Romance Blooms
Chapter 15: Conspiracies

Chapter 16: Impressions

Chapter 17: Action Hero

Chapter 18: Happily Ever After

Chapter 19: A Temptress

Chapter 20: Lover's Quarrel

Chapter 21: Hacking

Chapter 22: Success!

Chapter 23: Escape! Escape!

Chapter 24: Plan? What Plan?

Chapter 25: Revealed Stuff

Chapter 26: The Mole Hole

Chapter 27: Prague

Chapter 28: Reawakening

Chapter 1:     WAKE UP CALL

I awoke...no, wait, that's not right... He awoke. He awoke, very confused. Couldn't see, or remember who he was, but was most confused about waking up at all. He'd had a feeling that he had suddenly just come to EXIST, as if now conceived from nothingness. There had been nothing, not even himself and now there was awareness, a dim consciousness, blurred sounds, meaningless vibrations in his sensory system, shadows and light flittering about. Then he slept, but was aware that he did so. Later he opened his eyes. There were colors, fuzzy things moving, none of it made sense, but it was nice to see...again. So he watched. One of the fuzzy things moved close to him and a sound came out. This triggered a memory, something familiar about the sound. Ah, it was a voice, of course, someone was talking to him. But in a foreign language, incomprehensible mutterings. He tried to decipher the image of the fuzzy thing, to understand what was going on here. Then, rather suddenly, everything fell into focus. He was looking at a man in a white coat. Now he remembered: doctors in white coats; he was dying in a hospital. On painkillers, of course he was confused. But he felt no pain. In fact, he felt rather good, considering his age and sickness, the best he'd felt in...years? The doctor was speaking slowly and carefully to him, elocuting every meaningless word with precision. He could almost understand...the language was familiar, although not his own. Wait, there were words from his own language, but pronounced wrong: "pro fess or yah nose slah vek..." That meant something! He almost had it. Yah nose slah vek. Very familiar words. Then it came to him: a name, Janoz Slavek--a Czech name, wait, he knew it well...it was his very own name. A vast wave of memory arrived like a flood from a burst dam; suddenly all there, who he was, the story of his life, the ending of it... "Professor Janoz Slavek, can you hear me?" Of course, got it now: the doctor was speaking English, repeating that phrase again and again. "Ano, ano...", oops, wrong language, speak English, "...I mean, Yes, I can hear you." "Ah, good! How do you feel?" "Pretty good, I guess, considering." "Can you remember who you are?" "Uh...sure, Janoz Alphonse Slavek." He looked around, "But I don't remember you, and I don't know where we are." The man smiled at that and explained, "I'm Doctor Morris Ross, Chief Cybersurgeon CONCOM Laboratories. And we're in the West Coast Mnemonic Clinic at Big Sur, California." "California? A minute ago I was in Boston...must have slept quite a while." "You have, we'll get to that. But first I need to test your memory. Please tell me your age." "Seventy...seven, I guess. I sort of lost interest in keeping track of just how many years." "Birth date and place, parent's names, some details of your life?" "Born 1945, Kutna Hora, Czechoslovakia. Father's name Jiri Slavek, who married Maruska Hestmanek. Studied in Prague until the Russian Invasion in '68, escaped to the west, finished my studies in Vienna, immigrated to the States, married Vera Wilson, became a naturalized American citizen in 1983, did research at Harvard...." "You received a Nobel Prize." "Oh that. Yes, in 2012, for research in FDT --Field Distortion Theoretics." "And you performed some of the first successful experiments involving field distortion." "Right," Janoz remembered, "a very promising theory evolved, wherein MEST fields--Matter, Energy, Space & Time--could be manipulated and controlled. I've been involved with that at Harvard for the last 15 years." "But you never finished it." "Well, the technology we need for practical application just isn't here yet, won't be for years. And then I got sick and that was that." "Would you be interested in continuing that project, Professor Slavek?" "Oh sure, I'd love it, if I wasn't lying here dying." "Well, you're certainly not dying now." "Hmm. I do feel pretty good." "As indeed you should. Now, I'm going to tell you what's going on and you're going to astounded, surprised, shocked, etc. But just remember how amazing modern medicine could be even in your own time." "I've been cured?" "More than that, Professor Slavek, you've been Transplanted."

Chapter 2:     BACK FROM THE DEAD

It was true. Janoz could feel that his body was not as it had been. He felt bigger, stronger and much much better than he had. He looked down at his hands, which were not his hands at all. Shockingly beautiful powerful young hands. He was lying in a hospital bed in an antiseptic white room, although definitely not where he had been yesterday and he fumbled with the sheet to uncover his legs: long tanned muscular legs, nothing like the spindly stalks he had shuffled around upon all of his life. His tiny pot belly was gone, instead an athlete's trim waist, bulging pectoral muscles, swelling biceps. "My God, I've become Tarzan!" The doctor held up a mirror, but kept it turned away for a proper unveiling. "Now brace yourself," he said, then held up the mirror for Janoz to see his face. Shockingly young, quite masculine, moderately handsome. Dark haired, blue-eyed, square-jawed, unreasonably different from his own face. Janoz could say nothing, only look, turning his new head this way and that, not understanding anything of what he saw except that the image in the mirror copied every move he made. "Do you remember," asked the doctor, "when they asked you to participate in an experiment with memory-plasma downloading?" "Of course, that was just this morning...I thought. I'm obviously confused, I was feeling so sick just then, they gave me a sedative..." "Do you remember nature of the experiment?" "Sure. They were attempting to store human memory as a plasma-data file on an experimental bioelectronic computer they've been developing. Memory transplantation being the goal. I let them try, but I certainly don't believe it could actually work. Maybe later on." "It IS later on, and transplanting is a standardized procedure now, Professor. And as you can see, it certainly does work." Janoz thought about this for a while, then asked, "Then I take it that I did...die?" "That Professor Slavek died of terminal cancer, yes. A couple months after the downloading. September 2022." "Hmm. All right, so I'm braced, you can tell me what year it is now." "You were downloaded 83 years ago. It's 2105." "Really?" He took it pretty well; he was a scientist, after all. "Oh, well, hmm, that's not so bad." "Not bad at all," Doctor Ross agreed philosophically, "within a human lifetime, at least." "Ok, so...so who AM I? What is this body? A clone? An android?" "Oh, ha ha, you must have read a lot of science fiction, Professor--no, we still can't do that yet. Maybe someday. No, you have the quite human body of a young Caucasian male, age 39, healthy and sports trained, above average intelligence." "39? I look 25!" "Modern medicine and health standards allow people to be young longer, a common lifespan is about 130 years now." "Yes? Well! And uh... so where is...He?" "He is you, but his memories have been amnesiated." "Amnesiated? Is that like...Deleted? My God, what had he done to deserve that? Treason? Serial murders? Who was he?" "He was a volunteer. His identity is confidential, we may not tell Transplantees about their host bodies, it just confuses them. He is YOU now." Dr Ross rolled up the plastic sheet he had been typing on and stood up, saying, "We want to get you on your feet as soon as possible--you're far from sick, after all--but there is usually a day's adjustment to the new host nervous system. So we'll put you in a more comfortable room and let you simply get used to your new sensory input today. Tomorrow you'll be taken for a walk and if all goes well after a few days of testing, you'll be out of here to a new life, Professor Slavek."

Chapter 3:     SO THIS IS THE FUTURE

A couple of porters-- human guys, Janoz noted, having met no futuristic robots yet --rolled his bed through a series of long hallways, descended by elevator and delivered him to a pleasant room with a window that let glorious sunlight in and looked out upon a park like building complex. Two nurses were waiting for him and introduced themselves as Bonnie and Jane. They were young and pretty and Professor Slavek politely tried not to react to their femaleness, a habit of his old-fart memories, but his young man's body stirred anyway. They smiled professionally to him but were overtly respectful-- he had to wonder: what was the social status of a Transplantee? Then he was left alone, for a few minutes at least. He lay there, with a moment to ponder this stunning development of being miraculously alive and even more magically, of being young again. A new life, here in the future. The more he thought about it, the more stunned he was by it. Memories came rolling at him, and they generated questions. What about his old life? His wife, Vera?-- dead by now, certainly-- but his children, grandchildren? Friends? The political state of America and the world and the Czech Republic? The research he had been involved in, where did it stand now? He tried to get up and get to the window, to better see where he was, to catch a glimpse of the landscape. Perhaps to ascertain if he was where they said he was, since it all seemed too fantastic to be true. It could be a joke they were playing on him, or a clever plot to fool him into revealing the secret he had taken to the grave. However, he couldn't stand up yet, almost falling down when he tried, not from weakness, but from unsteered strength. This new body worked differently than his very old one, he was off- balance. But he could manage to sit up. From his bed he could see his reflection in a mirror. He couldn't help studying his new face in the mirror. Nor could he help asking: Who was this guy? He was impressed by that face: high-browed, aquiline nose, solid chin, intelligently moody eyes. Resembling somewhat a popular actor back in Janoz' movie-buff days, a young Nicholas Cage. And he studied that face to understand a mystery: why had this man given up the life he'd been living to host a guest from the past? Because of some great tragedy? An unrequited love? Whatever the reason, Janoz felt a vast gratitude to that man for this admirable face, this noble face-- his face now. The nurses soon brought him food, better than standard hospital fare. Either organic or synthetic here in the future, he supposed, but couldn't tell which. He was hungry, his senses of taste and smell were keen, everything tasted wonderful. They also gave him a scrollviewer-- a computerized multimedia viewer programmed with an orientations document, so that he could read about anything he wanted or needed to know. It was an amazing piece of technology, a simple pencil-thin tube of plastic, which when clicked rolled itself flat out as a letter-sized plastic page, resembling a lit computer screen with touch-sensitive buttons, obviously functional. The image onscreen reminded Janoz of an Internet home page, divided into frames with easily recognized hypertext links. In the largest frame he read in large bold text:
West Coast Mnemonic Clinic
CONCOM Laboratories,
WELCOMES Transplantee
Janoz Alphonse Slavek
And down the right side were the categories he could link to:
About Being a Transplantee
Memory Transplantation Process & History
Your Legal Rights
Historical Overviews Since Upload, Public
Historical Overviews Since Upload, Personal
Online NetSpan DataSearch
News Channels
Entertainment Channels
He turned the plastic sheet over a couple of times to marvel at the minimalistic design. "Is this thing actually online?" he asked. "Of course, everything's online," said Nurse Bonnie on her way out the door. The screen was touch-sensitive; he tapped the text for "Who, What..."

We address you as Professor Janoz Slavek and that is to be your identity among us, because you have his mind and memories and knowledge and are therefore HIM

And yet, both you and we are aware that this is a fiction, but a necessary one, to reinforce your new identity and give you a place in our society.

The Truth is that you are a Transplantee downloaded with the plasma-data memory file of Janoz Slavek, born 1945, died 2022. You feel-- remember, think, believe --that you are him, but of course you are not really him at all.

You are instead the Transplantee, who was once another man with another life, but who now perceives himself as being You Janoz Slavek, with your present memories. That other man is not gone, not dead; he is you, reading this. But your memories of him are dormant, having been chemically amnesiated to enable him/you to become a transplantee. Eventually his memories will return if amnesiation is not maintained.

Remember: you have volunteered for this, although you have no memory of it, for reasons of your own, which are confidential, even from Janoz Slavek.

So who are you? The Transplanted or the Host?

Neither: you are a hybrid, a new being. You have never existed before, are unique, an adult child, an unknown factor. We cannot really tell you who you are, because we don't know, and you have to find that out for yourself.

Officially, you are Transplantee Janoz Alphonse Slavek. Welcome.

About Being A Transplantee

There are some basic limitations and qualifying conditions to Memory Transplanting, as miraculous as it seems:

We can never, for example, evoke an Albert Einstein Transplantee because we have never Uploaded his memories--he died long before that process was available. But let's say that we could travel back in time and Upload a plasma-data file of the old boy.

Naturally, if we transplanted Einstein's memories into an inferior brain, the man wouldn't be able to think like Einstein. But the Transplantee would think that he was Einstein anyway, just as you think that you are Janoz Slavek.

We don't expect to get a perfect copy, just a reasonable facsimile. However, if we upload to a superior brain, the result could be an enhanced Einstein: better than the original.

But of course his personality would also be different than the original's, therefore he would behave differently. Personality is often determined by changed factors such as age, health, build, possibly even sex, and not the least, this new modern environment. Sometimes this confuses the Transplantee, because it clashes with his memories of the original self.
Dizzy with the enormity and the transcendental paradox of it all, Janoz jumped down to the less subjective chapter on Historical Overviews Since Upload, Public. Now that he knew who he was, he really wanted to know what kind of world he had arrived into. It was fascinating reading, the history of the world during the last 83 years; bloody, catastrophic, technical and political revolutions, leading to the year 2105--once The Future--and now... Well, it seemed to be a pretty good world these days: most important, the reign of terror under the accursed Moral Right had ended. So had the USA, in fact--the States had merged with Canada to form UNA, United North America. Uncontrolled international war had been made illegal by the UniWorld Authority, although there were still minor military or revolutionary conflicts here and there. Environmental controls had saved much of the planet's resources and clean high-powered energy had apparently arrived, although from that arose new unsolved problems. Cancer was gone, so was AIDS, Ebola under control, but there were some new diseases that didn't seem much better. There were now orbital space stations, one with the population of a fair-sized city. There were bases on the Moon and Mars. The first interstellar project was underway. That which had been the Internet was now NetSpan and everyone in the world was connected, in one way or another. There were technological advances that changed everyday lifestyles drastically; some he had expected, such as space stations and artificial intelligence; and others that would have seemed far too fantastic in his own time, such as extremely rapid transportation to anywhere in the world via phase-tunnels which apparently passed directly through the core of the planet itself to the other side, like a tunnel to China! And then he read something that surprised him more than anything else: that phase tunnels were an application of FDT--that which he had been researching in his first life, but now those letters no longer meant Field Distortion Theoretics, but Field Distortion Technology. It seems FDT was now considered one of the most important scientific breakthroughs in the history of Man. Janoz Slavek HAD read a lot of science-fiction, especially many tales of dystopian futures where the systems were collapsing and evil mega-corporations ruled the world with inhuman disdain for the individual: Brave New World, We, 1984, Alien, Blade Runner, the Matrix, Stand on Zanzibar... and as a Czech he considered these to be of valid historical perspective, the future being logically a continuation of the past, patterns being consistent. A future that was better than the past being almost suspect. And yet, here it was, thanks to a technology that he had theorized over 100 years ago. He fell asleep, dreaming of his childhood, his mother, of Russian tanks rolling into Prague, of the wonder of freedom when he came to America just in time for the Woodstock Festival. He dreamed of beautiful young Vera and of beautiful old wrinkled Vera, his wife. He dreamed of other girls and women he had known, and of the two nurses, sexual dreams, the first in many years. There were nightmares too: one that woke him up in a sweat-- that this new life was just a dream and when he awoke he would be his old own self and dying of cancer again.

Chapter 4:     THE SCIENTISTS

Dr Ross and two other men came in to him that evening. "And how are you doing, Janoz?" "Oh? Sleepy, I guess." "Quite normal. Your brain has suffered a form of shock, but you should be over the worst of it by now. I need to perform a check up of your reflexes to be sure, can you sit up now?" Janoz sat up easily, swinging his legs out of bed. There was a dizzy rush, but it passed quickly. "May I introduce professors Bill Waller and Greg Smith? They are from a FDT research facility and would very much like to meet you." Janoz shook each their offered hands, they were polite, nodding heads, kowtowing slightly. "Very pleased to meet you, Professor Slavek, such an honor, etc..." Waller was older, Smith younger, they were as respectful as the nurses. Or nervous, maybe even...afraid? Janoz wondered again about his social status: was a Transplantee an interesting relic from the past, or an undead vampire who had possessed the body of a living man? He remembered an ancient science fiction film: Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Waller came right to the point, "Professor, we hope that you will be interested in working with us on the continuation of your theoretic research in Field Distortion." Janoz blinked with surprise. "Me? All those far-fetched theories I worked on back then seem to be powering everyday household appliances today-- I'm way out of date now." "Well, those theories worked out rather well all right. But now we need some new ones," Waller said. "And we've read how you just DREAMED them up," added Smith with youthful enthusiasm, "like Einstein did the Theory of Relativity." "Hmm. I take it that you're the guys who...called me up?" "Well, yes we are, hope you don't mind." Janoz had to laugh at that. "Oh no! It's quite an experience, believe me, wouldn't miss this for the world." Smith seemed very intrigued, "I'm sure it must be. What is it like, suddenly finding yourself in the future?" "I have no idea, I just got here. But it's definitely good to be young and healthy instead of old and deathly ill." "Oh, that's right-- old Professor Slavek was downloaded in the hospital just before he died of..." Smith stopped, realizing that he might be saying something disturbing to this version of Slavek. Janoz nodded, "...yes, died of cancer." "My God, then that's your last memory? I can't imagine..." "Don't even try. I'm working on forgetting it myself," Janoz said. "Back to the subject of your work, Professor," Waller pressed, "have you read the eldoc orientation we've provided?" "Uh, no, not yet. I felt there were other things with higher priority, sorry." "Of course, of course, your descendants, I suppose..." "No, not them yet either. I was more concerned with political developments over the last 83 years." "Political, really?" young Smith asked with surprise, revealing himself to be a typically and totally apolitical scientist. Older Waller said to Smith, "Ah, yes...as I remember, you lived back when the Moral Right was coming into political power." "That's right. I was pretty concerned about how bad things were getting in the States. They had annulled the Constitution and reinstated the death penalty--and used it unrestrainedly--it was very much like Nazi times all over again." "Well, if you read your orientation, you can see that those times are long gone," Smith said dismissively, "everything's quite democratic now." "Hmm. Yes. So it said...in the documentation which you provided." Waller hesitated, catching the inference that perhaps they were feeding him lies, then shrugged and nodded. "Of course, you'd like to verify things for yourself. I understand," but he went on, "It's just that we are anxious to know if you will be on our research team or not." "Gentlemen, I put that work behind me a year ago--excuse me, a year before I was...downloaded... which seems now to be 83-84 years ago. I was really sick, dying in fact, but even sicker of that government and there were reservations I had about doing any work for them. I had to step off the wheel. So I can't answer your question just yet, sorry." Smith had to press a bit more anyway, "Please just tell us if you're interested at all." "Oh yes, I'm interested, of course. It was my greatest passion once. And I'm flattered that anyone would so value my work as to bring me back from the dead. I'll read the material you've provided--I assume there is an update on all the research done since my passing?" The two scientists nodded eagerly. And when Dr Ross said that his patient shouldn't be disturbed any more this evening they said polite goodbyes.
"Your reflexes seem to be in order," Dr Ross announced, after tapping Janoz' knee and shining a light in each eye, "and physical abilities are right on schedule. I think you'll live." "No small thing," Janoz said, with earnest sincerity. Ross put a blue/red pill on the table. "You need to take one of these every day." Always suspicious of pills, Janoz had to ask. "What is it?" "Hydergine, choline: memory enhancers--and suppressants. The memories we've transplanted into your brain don't really belong there yet, they're too new, so they need to have some backup, otherwise they fade." "And the suppressants?" "Your original host memories have been amnesiated, but they would slowly return unless you maintain dormancy. However, that couldn't happen for quite a while, they're too stunned out. "Presently more critical is that you have been downloaded from a very large analog copy of the total accumulation of Janoz Slavek's lifetime, in which all of those memories have been galvanized and brought forward into the mix, so to speak, electronically whipped into a frenzy. "You would be remembering everything at once if we didn't filter that deluge of data for awhile until you can begin to sort it out yourself, organize it the way the original Janoz had done." "So if I don't take the pill I go mad?" Ross shrugged, "Let's not find out. Just take the pill." "And when you said memory fading--" Janoz questioned, "do you mean I'd forget who I am?" "Let's be accurate: you might become confused as to who you think you are, develop genuine amnesia, and end up being nobody at all. Sound like fun?"


Lying in bed, unable to get up yet, Janoz studied the screen intensely for many hours, then was suddenly totally weary of information overload. He tried to turn off the "computer" in the sheet of plastic, but it seemed that the only way to do so was to roll it up and assume that it was turned off. He sank his head back into the pillow and tried to sleep. But he couldn't, memories surged over him; so many, so intense, from so far back, when he was a young man, or a boy. Good and bad memories, uncalled and unwanted memories. They too soon became information overload. So he unrolled the plastic scroll again and selected the "Entertainment" menu. "Books, Music, Movies, Theater, Art..." Movies-- he'd always been a movie buff. There must be a lot of new films to catch up on. Indeed, an endless list of film titles filled up the screen. At first he tried to visually scan the listings, but there were too many titles he did not know, with actors and directors he had never heard of. He wasn't ready to start learning any more new information. So he used the search function, finding titles from his own time, to see how many films Spielberg had eventually produced, amused to see that Stars Wars Episode 101 had just been released with great fanfare. He noticed that one could select "classic" or "virtual" versions of any film. Intrigued, he selected Gone With The Wind, classic edition. It was as he remembered it, although the colors did seem to be brighter, probably due to the incredibly perfect picture resolution of this silly little sheet of plastic-- even the sound quality was astounding if he faced it square on and inaudible if he turned the sheet sideways. Janoz fast-forwarded to a classic scene with Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh. Then he paused it and clicked on "virtual". A list of options appeared onscreen. He chose actors from his time as a movie buff-- Julia Roberts to play Scarlett O'Hara, and just for fun, Woody Allen as Rhett Butler--and hit "play" again. The scene continued, everything the same as before, but the actors were now those he had selected, the illusion was perfect. He had to laugh, Woody was pretty funny. He amused himself further by inserting Czech actors and playing the film in Czech, then by inserting Spielberg as director--it was incredible what variations were available, apparently computer-generated in real-time. But that too was too much; he turned off the movies, his brain collapsing. The whole charm of films as art seemed lost in this vast sea of infinite variations. And the sheer volume of films offered made him realize that he would have to spend all the rest of his new life just to catch up on everything he had missed, endlessly watching one film after another after another. A horrifying concept.

Chapter 6:     THE WOMAN

Janoz slept soundly, there were dreams, but he couldn't really remember them when he awoke. He felt very refreshed, very good. The nurses came with breakfast and of course, his pill. Janoz had always distrusted doctors and their pills, preferring alternative medicines in his last life...but then again, he'd died of cancer anyway back then. So he took the pill. He was reading his viewscroll, scanning the DataNet for online news to tune into the world around him when he noticed the young woman who stood still in the doorway of his room, looking at him. Not just any woman, either, but a tall green-eyed auburn-haired beauty whose face and form instantly galvanized him with a high-voltage love at first sight as well as an electric lust. He seemed to recognize her: this was HIS woman, he just knew it. He had been remembering Vera, his poor wrinkled old wife, last time he saw her 83 years ago. She had come to visit him as he lay dying in the hospital, so tired of their grueling tragedy, wanting it to end, for him and for herself. There was no fun left in their lives after he got sick. And sex hadn't been fun for years. Later he learned that she had lived another 23 years after him, remarried and died of pneumonia at the age of 89. He didn't feel any regret, or even that he missed her, they had said their goodbyes as he was dying. But suddenly now the memory of Vera simply evaporated and he was a beast in rut for this beautiful stranger, feeling that powerful and wonderful feeling of focused desire he had lost so long ago. But the real wonder was that he sensed that she felt the same way: longing for him from across the room. He could see it, she didn't hide it...although there also seemed to be a mysterious sadness in her eyes. And as he seemed to know her, she seemed to know him. It was magic. Both were frozen, stunned, nostrils flaring, man and woman caressing one another with their eyes. Until she finally cleared her throat and said, "Uh... good morning, Professor Slavek, my name is Sassa Nelson and I've been assigned to be your personal manager." "My...personal...manager?" She walked halfway into the room, then stopped as if unsure of herself. And as she approached, Janoz' feeling of sudden infatuation intensified violently. Everything about her: the elegance of her wrists stopped him from breathing, the freckles on her nose set off sparkles in his brain. "Yes, I'm to be your contact-person with modern society until you learn to deal with it yourself. Anyone, private, professional or media, wanting to contact you will go through me. I'll be your secretary, economic manager, therapist, girl friend-- whatever you need." Then she approached his bed, looking into his eyes, shy smile, "if you'll have me, that is." Janoz just looked at her with his mouth open, paralyzed, helpless, like an idiot. At last he found a word that made sense: "Assigned?" "Well, I volunteered. I've studied about you and I knew I wanted the job." "Oh...good! I mean, uh, yes, I mean, uh, just call me, uh, Janoz... uh...Miss..." "Sassa," she reminded me. "Uh, Sa-Sa-Sassa," he stammered. She came even closer; in fact she was so close that he could smell her--the maddening blast of her pheromones shoved his hormones into ready alert. Now beside him, she offered her hand. He wanted to reach up and take her hand and pull her into the bed with him and...but he only froze instead, realizing that such was probably inappropriate behavior. Suddenly he felt quite confused, remembering that he was just an old man who should not be so foolish as to flirt with the young girls, who should try to control himself. He found himself falling back into the excuse-me persona of the dignified old Professor. After all, this wonderful woman had to be attached, boyfriend, perhaps married...calm down, at least until you know who she is. But she did not freeze; she took his hand as if to shake hands, then just held it as a lover would for a long moment. And his nervousness dissipated. They said nothing for that moment, just looked at one another in a very nice way, then she broke the silence, "You should be ready to go for a walk now. Want to come with me?" "Oh, I'd love to come with you," he said, then realized the double-entendre he'd just blundered out and was prepared to be embarrassed. But she just rolled her eyes and bit her lip in a funny way and said "Mm-hmm, we ARE feeling better." She handed him a bathrobe and helped him to stand up. He wobbled, but she was strong and not afraid to press her body up against him for support. He couldn't help it, his erection slipped out of his loose hospital pajamas. He fumbled to hide it before she saw it, now really embarrassed and almost fell over. She reacted quickly to steady him and coincidentally came to grab...it. For a second they both stood there in frozen surprise, Janoz standing quite steady now that she had a firm grip on him. "Oops, where did that come from? heh heh heh." she said, much more amused than embarrassed herself and in fact, did not let go, but just held on and looked at him with a big grin. Janoz wondered about modern etiquette. Maybe this was normal, how could he know? So he didn't pull away. Nor did he want to. "Well, I guess you like me, at least," Sassa said. "It, uh, seems to be mutual," he retorted. Then they both laughed heartily, still standing there like that, quite comfortable together. She even gave him a friendly little squeeze before she finally did let go.
It was a sunny day outside. Sassa took Janoz for a tour of the medical complex, there were paths through parklike grounds, flowers, green grass. The buildings looked modern, but not especially "futuristic", considering his jump forward in time. Perhaps because many of them were old, they had already existed in his day. He was stiff and awkward at first, but within the hour became quite graceful. The body was wonderful, Janoz could feel the strength compelling him to use it, to exercise and later that day he was jogging.

Chapter 7:     QUESTIONS

Dr Ross finished the physical examination and said, "Well, you're in fine tune. Your transplantation wobbles are gone, body and mind seem to be functioning as a unit now. I proclaim you a success." "Yes, I think so too," Janoz said. Ross asked, "How is your thinking, Professor?" Janoz shrugged, "I seem to be thinking like a young man again--I attribute that to this young brain. And this body certainly is an enhancement. But I have to wonder: if this man was so intelligent and so physically perfect, why did he ever volunteer to be a transplantee?" "Actually, we get many volunteers, more than we can use. A stringent screening process eliminates most of them." "But why did...HE...volunteer?" "Could be many reasons. Some people are depressive, lost, suicidal, traumatized, alienated-- it's an escape for them, I suppose. Others are looking for adventure--to experience the memories of another man from another time. Or perhaps just for the money." "Money?" Janoz was surprised. "Sure. Paid upon completion of the Contract." "Contract? Completion?" "Haven't you read your Orientation Data, under Legal Rights?" "Uh... I may have skipped that part, there was so much..." "I suggest you read it." "Oh, well I will. But I'm confused: what good would money do him if he's no longer... himself?" "Transplantees are often confused about their hosts, thinking of them as dead and gone, when in reality the transplantee IS the host, quite alive here and now." "But anyone doing this for money... must be counting on getting his old life back?" "Well, eventually he probably will, but that is entirely up to you, not us. After you fulfill the conditions of the contract, you're free to be anyone you want."
Back in his room, Janoz hurriedly unrolled his scrollviewer, clicked through his orientation data to...
Legal Rights

Every Transplantee has a contract with the agency which has arranged the transplantation, which delineates the obligations and guarantees for each party.

There is, of course, a large investment to be protected and a transplantation usually has an objective: in your case, to resolve a certain scientific problem, as specified in the contract.

Therefore You --that is, Your Host-- signed a contract to become Janoz Slavek for 3 years, or until your services were no longer required, at which time He-- that is, You --may be released from said contract.

In exchange, you shall be paid a generous service fee, over any other salaries or gratuities you may have accrued. At the time of release you may also request a data-dossier containing the details of your original host identity, to do with as you see fit.

You are then free to decide to restore your host's original memories or not.
"Restore host's memories? But...but that would be the end of me as myself! I'd be HIM instead... whoever HE is!" Yes, who was this guy? Janoz was staring into the mirror again. Had he really been so mercenary as to RENT his body? Did he really expect to get it back? That face didn't seem so noble as he'd thought at first: wasn't there a slightly shifty look to the eyes, a weak lower lip? He read the last lines again: You are then free... Janoz asked himself, "What the hell does THAT mean? ...WHICH you is free, him or me?"

Chapter 8:     BEING A GHOST

Janoz had lunch with Sassa, who was helping him to understand the complexities of modern society, showing him what and how and where to look up information on NetSpan. "You mentioned Media," he asked her, "am I going to be running from paparazzi for the rest of my life?" Sassa wrinkled her brow, striving to understand the ancient word. "Papara...oh, you mean journalists? Probably not-- privacy laws are among the strictest in modern society and anyone caught violating them is taking a chance, especially news agencies. "Actually," she said, "we won't be announcing your arrival-- they'll probably find out soon enough, but we'll keep you discreet as long as we can." "Transplantees aren't headline news?" "Not any more. There've been so many over the last 80 years, or so. And, well..." "Yes?" "...you may as well know: Some people find the idea of Memory Transplantation kind of creepy. Ghosts is the popular slang. "So I'm a creep," Janoz teased. "Not to me," the beautiful woman said. Janoz' heart hopped around, as it did every time she said anything nice to him. Which she did a lot, so his heart was hopping a lot. He was so in love it hurt. And he knew that she was attracted to him, she made that abundantly clear, but still he was too shy to make a real move. Part of him still regarded himself as an old man, morally bound not to sexually harass a young woman. And he felt a perverse twinge of jealousy about her attraction to him: it wasn't really for HIMSELF, but his young host body. "However," she said, "there IS something creepy about how you don't seem to trust ANY form of authority--back in your own time and even now; not the clinic, not those scientists, not the government...I hope you aren't going to become a revolutionary terrorist, like they did back then?" "No, I was never a revolutionary, only a victimized citizen." "Is this self pity I hear?" "Not at all, I did something about it: I escaped. When I got out of Czechoslovakia and Europe I came to the States in 1967. I arrived just in time for Woodstock..." "Which is what?" "...oh, a famous happening back then... anyway, I was so happy, at last I had found a Free and Benevolent society. Later I learned that all of the sinister forces were also at work here, just covertly, not so blatantly." "Oh, come on, Janoz, you've got to admit there's a big difference between isolated cases of corruption or police brutality and legally sanctioned..." she searched her mind for an appropriate historical reference, "...Gestapo putches eradicating ghettos." "That was actually before my time," Janoz said, "but Gestapo, Communists, Moral Right, they're all the same and they're still around-- they just change the name to protect the guilty." Nodding, as if he knew.

Chapter 9:     CHIANG WU

Janoz had an appointment for more tests in a laboratory, Sassa accompanied him to the lab but sent him in alone. There were several doctors and technicians, busy with something and he was asked to take a seat in the waiting room. There was one other patient waiting there, a young black boy, perhaps 13 years old. Janoz nodded to him. "What are you here for?" he asked. "The same as you," the boy said, "I'm a Transplantee too. And you must be the one downloaded from Janoz Slavek, the FDT pioneer. You were one of the earliest downloadings, weren't you, from the 2020s?" "Uh, yes, I am--or at least I seem to think I am. Who are you downloaded from?" "Chiang Wu," the boy said, as if with a blending of pride and embarrassment. "But they made me black this time." "Hmm. Chiang Wu...were you Chinese?" "You don't know?" the boy said in surprise, then calculated something, "Right, you were downloaded before my time. I was born in 2038, murdered in 2071 at 33 years old--just like Jesus-- surely you read about me in your orientation eldocs." "Uh, no, there's so much to read." "You should have read about me--I was considered the greatest computer genius the world has ever known, programmed the Wu Cyberneticon, stuff like that." "You were murdered?" "Oh, yeah. China was politically corrupt, I was a threat to the government, they executed me. Of course, I don't remember that part, last time they downloaded me was 5 months before then." "Last time? You were downloaded more than once?" "Oh yeah, I was considered a child prodigy, so I was downloaded all along: at 10, 15, 20, etc." Janoz thought about that. "Then there could be different versions of...you?" "There ARE different versions of me: I've met 4 of them. Actually, I do believe that I'm the most transplanted personality ever. Eight, as far as I know, but there may also be some secret classified copies running around." "Why so many?" Janoz had to ask. "We all have a flair for computers; programming, hacking. They want some genius to program The Perfect Software System, so they try to create the perfect genius. But of course the concept is meaningless, in both cases, perfection being relative. Each copy is different anyway: different brains and bodies, you know. And in fact, different souls. Most of them are arrogant bastards! None of us are really Chiang Wu, we only think we are. Then he indicated his skin color and said with disdain, "And I had to be the one they uploaded in a black body! Such an indignity for a Chinese who was also the greatest genius in the world." Ignoring the racism, Janoz had to ask, "Didn't you--that is, your host--volunteer to become Chiang Wu?" "Volunteer? Who would volunteer to be gone? No, they told me I was a criminal." Janoz looked surprised. He hadn't thought of that. "Criminal? What had he done to deserve being transplanted?" "Who knows? All depends on the definitions a society chooses to inflict upon its citizens: jaywalking = erase mind, sorry about that. They won't tell me what he did." Chiang Wu sounded slightly bitter. "They don't tell us who we were, because it confuses us, they say." "Well, I guess that's understandable," Janoz reasoned, but did not sound convincing. "Yeah, fuck'em. You know, back in my day they were researching a criminal chromosome, the XX-gene which may have been a determining factor in pathological behavior. So I asked Dr Ross what the results of that research finally determined. He said he didn't know. "So I said, if my host has such chromosomes, then so do I now, which might affect my behavior..." "Dr Ross just laughed at that, saying no no, that my host was screened for everything, don't worry about that!" "That's when I learned 2 things: One, that Doctor Ross was lying--of course he knew about any chromosome screening process, it would be crazy not to--and Two, that I wasn't especially worried about having an outlaw chromosome...in fact, I sorta LIKED the idea." Janoz could easily envision this boy as member of some black street gang from New York in the last century. Easier that than as a Chinese genius. But there was something in the boy's spirit he liked. "You don't trust The System either, do you?" Chiang Wu looked directly at Janoz Slavek, actually for the first time, the arrogance dwindled and there was some friendliness in his eyes. "Fuck The System," he said with a crooked smile. "Yes, Fuck The System," Janoz repeated, but did not smile.

Chapter 10:     TOMORROWLAND

"Janoz, do you think you're ready to take a look around," Sassa asked him, "get a feel for When you are?" "Yes indeedy, visiting the Future and all," he said, "so where do we go: the moon?" "Nawww, let's start small and work up--we'll take the Moon when you can afford it. Monterey's more in our budget and just 15 kilometers away." They walked out of the building and across the grounds of the facility, to a port which opened automatically for them. "We don't have to show passes or anything?" "We've got ID/licenses/passports microchipped inside our bodies, that's all we need." Janoz scowled, "You mean that's all BIG BROTHER needs. But I don't have one in me... or do I?" "You have a modern body, so you're wired and online just like all the rest of us. Too bad, Janoz." "You know," Janoz said, "I have a picture of the Future in my mind--I loved science fiction books and movies when I was younger--vast Metropoli of shopping malls, robots everywhere, flying cars, spaceships blasting off on the horizon, people in funny clothes out of old Star Trek reruns." "Gee, I hope you're not going to be disappointed." Outside the port they arrived to something so mundane as a parking lot full of...pods. They were modern cars, of all shapes and sizes and colors. The concept seemed to be the same as 83 years ago: neatly packaged personal transportation, compact cabin with large windscreen and doors, but they were all missing the wheels. Sassa touched her scroll and a little blue egglike pod pulled up and hovered in front of them, up about 30 cm, then settled down and opened both doors. There was no driver. "Computerized to drive itself?" Janoz asked. "Right. That's not too surprising, is it?" "I wouldn't be surprised if it flies," Janoz said. Sassa shook her head. "Not really, it's just floating on a limited proximity field-- a result of FDT, by the way." Janoz got in the right side so that Sassa could drive, but inside her seat was turned away from the front. "Monterey City Center, section 1-D," she told the car, which lifted off the ground and glided away. It turned onto a roadway, merged with other traffic and accelerated to a very high speed. "You don't drive at all?" Janoz asked, looking ahead nervously. "Not in common traffic, it's illegal. Human driving causes too many traffic accidents." The car glided above a road through a forest, running down from wooded hills to the coast. Suddenly the Pacific Ocean spread out before Janoz, beyond the spectacular cliffs and twisted trees of Big Sur. There was still nature, unchanged by time, seeming more like the past than the future. The car automatically followed the twisted coast road north until buildings appeared ahead of them, which didn't take long. From a distance Monterey didn't look much different than a medium-sized town from his own time, obviously not gone crazy with expansion. There were old buildings as well as new, mostly utilitarian or classical forms, no skyscrapers, it even looked nice. Then they were downtown and car parked itself. They got out in a park surrounded by buildings. There were malls everywhere, more or less as Janoz had expected, but it didn't appear to be the concrete jungle he had dreaded. Slidewalks conveyed people in every direction, many people, yet it didn't seem crowded. He saw none of the advertisements or billboards he had become used to in his own time, although some of the shops had flashy name signs. "I figured you'd just like to see everyday stuff," Sassa said, "this is where you'd come to buy clothes, equipment, books, or eat and drink." "It doesn't seem that different from what I'm used to." "No? Say, let's go to a spa, sit down, have a drink. There's one over there." The spa was an indoor swimming area with bar and restaurant. People sat or laid around the asymmetrically shaped pool, and Janoz was surprised to see that many of them were naked. Sassa ordered 2 beers for them and a bowl of nachos with guacamole. Then she took off all her clothes and sat with her legs in the pool. Janoz was still standing, unsure of proper procedure, but the sight of her bare skin aroused him so that he had to sit down. "Come on, get comfortable," she said. Janoz looked around nervously. "The last time I was at a place like this...nudity was punishable by death." "What?" She looked disbelieving. Then thought, "Oh, wait...the Moral Right, right?" Then frowned, "I'm sorry, I should have remembered that, after all, I did research your life. I thought you were used to nudity." Janoz smiled. "Oh, I was once, but that was a long time ago, even for me-- way back in the Sixties." "The Sixties? What happened back in 2060?" "The 1960's. Free love, hippie time, flower power." Sassa rolled her eyes, "Oh right, the NINETEEN-sixties! That WAS a long time ago! Whew, you're really OLD, Janoz." "Well, I WAS old ...but I don't feel that way now," he said, looking over at Sassa's delightfully naked body. He shrugged and peeled off his own clothes and his oldness, remembering that he HAD once been casual about nudity and sat next to her. "So how were the 60's? There was that Woodstock thing, you said." "Yes, and well yes, people were getting naked then and there--it was Freedom. A great time, lots of fun." "Hmm. I think about that era as one of countless wars, crime, diseases--especially social problems like unwanted pregnancies, broken homes, divorces...wasn't it scary?" Sassa asked. "Sure, but don't knock sex, drugs & rock'n'roll for diverting your mind from any problems. But what: no divorces now?" Janoz challenged. "Not many. People who are data-matched usually fit together so well that they stay together." Janoz couldn't help noticing the other people around the spa. He was struck by how beautiful most of them were, male and female both, with their trim bodies, clear skins, glossy hair. Sassa was gorgeous, but then so were all of the other women there as well. And the men, muscular, handsome--just like himself. Health and beauty was obviously the standard now. He thought that it would be easy to be tempted by any of these women and wondered if Sassa's perception of a divorce-free society wasn't perhaps fanciful...until he looked back at her. She had an aura of HISNESS. The stranger he would have chosen across a crowded room, every time, desired more than others, most perfect for him, period. It hit him as great realizations do, with an almost physical impact. His Future: Sassa. He desperately longed to touch her just then and even knew that he could, but he was still afraid to make that wrong move, so he didn't. Their drinks and nachos arrived. Janoz sipped his beer. He was surprised that it tasted so good. As a Czech he had always liked beer, but had been critical of the watery weak brew found in the States. "I would have expected something new to drink, here in the future, Martain Mud, Saturnian Sling or something." "Oh, there are designer drinks and drugs, but as a new Transplantee you'd better avoid them. Stick to one beer and you'll be all right." "Drugs? Are they legal now?" "Sure, everything's legal." "Last I remember, possession of any drugs--even tobacco and alcohol--was punishable by death." "Really? How horrible." "What will drugs do to a Transplantee?" Janoz had to ask. "You're already on drugs--choline, hydergine--don't mix, don't mess. Later maybe, in a few months." "Do you know a lot about Transplantees?" he asked her, "For example, have you been assigned to one before?" "Yes, I've worked with several. You're the... 7th, in fact." Janoz hesitated before asking his next question. "Excuse me for asking, but...uh....do you offer to be 'girl friend' to all of them?" She looked directly at him for a long moment, either emotionlessly or teasingly, deliberately prolonging the suspense. Finally she said, "What if I do?" "Well, I...uh...it's just that I don't know what...er, modern social mores...er, are these days, I..." Then a slow shy smile. "Only you," she said. Janoz blinked, his heart leaped. "Really?" Then, "Why me?" "Lust at first sight, I guess. You felt it too, didn't you?" "Uh, well, yes... Yes, I did." "Good. Well, since that's settled, let's have sex. I'm pretty horny right now." "Now? Here, now?" Janoz' mouth fell open. Couldn't help it. "Sure, why not?" "We're in a public place! Everyone can see us." "Well, we'll get down in the water. It's okay, everybody else does it..." "I don't! I mean, I want you yes, but...not like this, I can't..." "Okay, okay, it was just an idea," she said, with a little shrug. "Oh, I like the idea! I'm just not ready for this...I'm from another time, when we could be severely punished by law for any indiscretion whatsoever." "It's not like that now," she said, "but I understand. Culture shock." "I'll say. But later tonight, your place or mine, a little wine, candlelight..." "Nope, not tonight. Some other time." Her tone inferred a "maybe" at the end, that she was bored with him now, that he had blown his chance. Janoz realized that one thing had not changed with the centuries: women were still not to be understood by men.

Chapter 11:     THE COMMITTEE

One evening Janoz was asked to attend a meeting with a committee. Dr Ross and Sassa were there, as well as Waller and Smith. And a mature Latin-looking woman in a grey suit, who was introduced as Ms Cleo Garcia-Lopez, Attorney at Law. Waller began the meeting, "Professor Slavek, earlier we asked if you are interested in continuing your work in FDT Research. We are still awaiting an unequivocal answer from you." Suddenly Janoz knew what this committee was to determine. "Hmm. Well, I've read that the technology we dreamed of in 2022 is well established by now, but there must be something still lacking or you wouldn't have...called me back." "Quite so." "This memory transplantation is obviously an expensive operation, involving a lot of people. So I have to ask: why me? Obviously, there have been many scientists who have progressed far beyond my own theories with practical applications over the last 83 years." "Certainly, but there is a specific hang-up. And there are those who feel that your insight of the subject was particularly inspired, intuitive." "Hmm. I thought so too, back then. But then, I'm not really ME now, am I? I'm a...software copy of the old Janoz Slavek. I may not BE as inspired as my original self." "Actually, since you mention it," Waller stated, "we expect that you will prove to be an enhanced copy of Janoz Slavek: your present host is a very intelligent man." "So tell us, Professor," Waller said, still trying to sound jovial, but firmly now, "are you interested in resuming your work with us or not?" Janoz sat in silence for a moment, pondering his answer. "Interested? Yes, of course, but I do need to ask a question first: what if I should refuse? Will I be...what do we call it...amnesiated?" Ms Garcia-Lopez, the lawyer spoke, "You mean killed, don't you?" "Well, yes, that's what I mean. I realize that you woke me up for your own agenda, but I have to wonder what my rights actually are. If I prove to be of no use to you--perhaps I can't solve the problem any more now than then--where do I stand?" The lawyer nodded sympathetically and said, "This is a question that every Transplantee asks at some point or another, so we'll tell you how it is: this committee has to determine if a Transplant is viable or not and until then we do have the option of making adjustments--such as re-uploading the transplant for a better result. For example, we are required to erase psychopathic or dangerous personalities. "However, once we have certified a Transplantee, his or her identity is protected by law, even from us. Subject to the conditions in the Contract, of course." "About that Contract: how do I know that I've actually signed this alleged contract you refer to? I have no memory of it, of course." The lawyer spoke to a computer somewhere, "Contract, Transplantee J Slavek," and pointed to a large picture on the wall, an abstract painting. The picture suddenly changed into a media screen, a vidiox started to play. Now the picture was of this very same office, the same lawyer was there and Janoz saw himself sitting in the same chair where he now sat. Different clothes, shorter hair, but himself. Or...? "Do you hereby agree to become amnesiated and receive the persona transplant of one Janoz Slavek," Ms Garcia-Lopez was saying, "and to fulfill the conditions of the legal contract presented to you on this day, 6th of April, year 2105?" "I do hereby agree," Janoz heard himself saying, although he had no memory of this event... Then it hit him. Of course he couldn't remember this event, he wasn't transplanted until after the 6th of April, that wasn't himself...yet. That was HIM! Janoz experienced a mind-wrenching dichotomy, seeing his host-self onscreen. Then his mind went from stunned surprise into high speed: could he glean any clues to his original identity from this image? But the short vidiox ended too quickly. "As you see," the lawyer continued in the here and now, "the Contract is documented." Still stunned, Janoz fumbled for words, then said, "But how can I--Janoz Slavek--be held responsible for a contract agreed to by this other guy who wasn't me when he signed?" "Indeed, you are not. That is why it is a two-part contract, which you are requested to co-sign." Janoz knew that, he had studied his own copy of the Contract on scrollviewer, which basically only stipulated that he agreed to continue his own research, but he wanted to protest against The System. "And if I refuse...?" "You will be uploaded with another personality, of course. As agreed to." "Isn't that murder?" Janoz accused them all. "Not at all. You'll be fine, just with another set of memories." "But Janoz Slavek would be dead by your hand," he said with great drama. Everyone looked at him as if amused...or embarrassed, it was hard to tell. Ms Garcia-Lopez cleared her throat and said, "The real Janoz Slavek died 83 years ago, we cannot save nor harm him in any way. He has no legal presence here...unless you are certified by us to be him." "Could you tell us why you might consider refusing to continue your research, Professor?" Waller asked, carefully. Janoz nodded. "Because I don't yet really know who you people are. I've lived under several heartless totalitarian regimes, the Nazis and the Communists took turns with Czechoslovakia and the future was looking bleak for America back when I lived here last. Field Distortion technological applications could be used for wonderful or terrible purposes. Do I want to contribute to some dictatorial government's schemes of domination?" "But you've scanned the NetSpan, that should give you some indication of the political situation today." "Hmm, yes. If the data I am allowed to access is not edited or fabricated by my keepers. Ever read 1984? Creative history, written by those in power. How can I know? I've not been out there." "Are you really so suspicious of our motives?" "Not especially, I just don't know what your motives are yet." "It is said that you HAD, in fact, solved some major theoretic problem about..." Ms Garcia-Lopez looked up a reference, "...variable time fields(?), but that you refused to reveal your findings and took the secret with you to the grave. Ostensibly because you were in conflict with the political system developing in the United States at that time--the Moral Right, the military nationalism, the DEA--and that you considered FDT too dangerous to put into their hands." "More or less," Janoz confirmed. Waller spoke, "Professor Slavek, I think we all respect you for that. Hell, I would have quibbled too, back then." "But that political system is long gone now," Smith added. "And now the government is benevolent, you say? All right, maybe so-- but for how long? Politics change all the time, I've seen it happen. I've also read that the American Constitution was ANNULLED for the 9 years when the Moral Right took over. If you know the past, you dare not trust the future!" "I know what you're saying," Smith agreed, "but the fact is that the development of FDT has gone far beyond the part you feared. And been counterbalanced." "Yes, I've read the documentation." "Anyway, the research, Professor?" Waller persisted. "What happens if I agree to do it?" "You become immediately employed by the Western Washington University FDT Research Facility in Bellingham, Washington," Waller promised, "with full professorship, a fair salary, working with the best people in the field--us!--and a fairly decent budget." Ms Garcia-Lopez added, "And we certify you as a viable personality, naturally." "You will also have a personal staff to back you up," said Sassa, who had been silent up to now, "--me." Janoz looked over at her. That was all the argument he really needed. Sassa nodded, "Come on Janoz, just do it. Don't leave me now." "Hmm, well, all right. Guess I don't have much choice anyway: what would I otherwise do for a living in this Brave New World?" He co-signed the Contract.

Chapter 12:     FEAR OF FLYING

Sassa and Janoz spent a day in San Francisco. He had been there before, last time in 1989, with Vera and the kids. It was changed, of course, but was not much bigger, except for more skyscrapers. Their relationship was still unconsummated and Janoz was becoming a bit tense with unrequited lust. He had tried, clumsily of course, to seduce her the way he had done that sort of thing in his own day. "Uh...I've been thinking abut...well, about what you offered the other day..." "Oh, I'm sure you have." She was smirking, enjoying this. "Maybe tonight..." "Maybe not." "Er...Sassa, have I offended you? When I...turned you down?" "No, Janoz, you haven't," then she laughed out loud, "don't worry, we'll have sex sometime, just not on a time and date planned and specified in the future, okay?" "Oh...okay." So they had gone to see San Francisco instead of becoming lovers. Sassa took Janoz to see the phase tunnel terminal: the Mole Hole. It had once been San Francisco International Airport, but now the mass transport went down into the earth instead of up in the air, and passengers did not walk into airplanes but drove their cars into gigantic elevator platforms. "They descend to the pulse rings where they're phased out and shot through the earth to another set of pulse rings at another Mole Terminal," Sassa was pointing out the details of the system. "The whole elevator, cars and all?" Janoz asked, awed at the enormity of it all. "Oh, sure. You'll need your car when you get there." Janoz watched the process with fascination. The platform bound for München was due to be shot off. There were about 85 cars along for the ride. The port closed off access, a sign started blinking countdown numbers and then the platform slowly descended out of sight. That wasn't especially exciting, but there were huge media monitor screens which followed the descent of the platform down into the well, as it built up velocity, rapidly falling faster, finally shooting through stroboscopic rings of light--and then it was gone in a speed blur. "They're already on the other side," Sassa said, "decelerating into München now." She pointed to the München monitor, and there was the platform again. "That fast?" Janoz was stunned. "The speed of light?" "No, but close enough, I guess," Sassa said. Janoz frowned. "I can't help but think of what a dangerous thing this would have been in my time...a weapon of war, spreading of disease...tell me, what would stop a terrorist from sending a nuclear bomb to another city via Mole?" Sassa was surprised at the negativity of his reaction to this scientific wonder, as well as the question. "There are no terrorists who do that," she said. "There were in my time. They would go crazy with this technology." "Well, I'm no expert, but I do know that there are lots of safety features built into the Moles, all based on MESTwarp technology--fields within fields, stuff like that. Any explosion, big or small, immediately activates a zero-time field, which freezes the explosion within a nanosecond, so that it can then be encased within a portable containment field and simply removed. I guess it's so easy to control now that no terrorist would bother." "Do the fields ever fail?" "That's not happened since the technology was new, over 40 years ago. There hasn't been a serious Mole accident in...well, I don't know, in my lifetime anyway. Hey-- want to take a ride somewhere?" "What? Now? On THAT?" "Sure, experience the result of everything you were working on back in the 2020s." "Oh...uh...no! No thank you!" "Why not? Just a little hop to...oh, China, for instance." "Oh god no...I'm not getting into that thing!" She studied Janoz' face and realized something. "You're AFRAID of going on it, aren't you?" "Who wouldn't be?" Janoz said, despite the non-stop flow of hundreds of passengers going into and out of the terminal. Sassa wrinkled her brow. "But YOU theorized this! YOU made this possible!" "Not alone...I was only one of many." "Others, sure, but you DREAMED the solutions--and here they are." "Yes, well, I still don't believe in this yet. Maybe we could take a trip later, someday, but not now." "Ok," she said, with a disappointed little shrug.
Janoz had actually become quite well-versed in the numerous modern applications of Field Distortion Technology. Such as how phase-tunnels applied MESTwarp to allow physical matter enveloped in a zero-time-&-out-of-phase-field to be pulsed directly through the planet to terminals on the other side of the world. The virtual tunnel to China, or anywhere else. Although no physical tunnel actually existed, it was the easiest way to conceive of the function it fulfilled. However, that he accepted the concept intellectually did not mean he had faith in it. Which was a paradox; he was a scientist! He could even remember conceiving of and discussing a theoretic version of the phase effect with a doubtful colleague a hundred years ago, back when he was young. In fact, he had a DREAM about that very conversation the night after visiting the Mole Terminal, perhaps in reaction to his own lack of faith in the wonders of science. He couldn't quite remember that colleague's name; just that he was a thin old codger with bushy eyebrows. "It's a violation of Physics," his colleague was saying, like some fuddy-duddy old-school flat-worlder, "for one body of matter to pass through another without interacting in some way; displacement, collision, friction, or mutual destruction." "Nonsense: it happens all the time--" Janoz remembered getting excited then, a typical young scientist proving himself right, "zillions of radio waves are passing through our bodies right now and there's research already being done which correlates the similarities of waves and particles. Phase one clump of matter to a different frequency and it could theoretically pass through the other as if it weren't there. No sweat." Oh, he was hot, this young Janoz in the dream. But when he awoke, there he was, himself now the fuddy-duddy old professor who was afraid of new ideas and new technology. Like some Stone Age Man brought into Future, unable to comprehend.

Chapter 13:     THE JOB

The FDT research facility was at Western Washington University in Bellingham, in the Pacific Northwest. Janoz should begin work there in five days. Sassa had intended that they take the Mole from San Francisco to Seattle, but Janoz was so against it that she had to give up on it. He absolutely distrusted the phase tunnel process. "Let's just drive," he insisted, "we have five days and I'd like to see the west coast highway anyway. I've never been north of San Francisco before." Sassa was easy to persuade and they had a very pleasant trip. Northern California had been well protected by environmentalist politics and was still a nature wonderland. Small towns had remained small and picturesque, the coast was still rugged and wild. They drove the longer stretches at high speed, which was very much like flying, since the car was elevated to the highest traffic banes--invisible highways of proximity fields stretching from city to city, about a hundred meters over ground level. They stopped a few times. Once at a tourist stop, "the Trees of Mystery", and to eat in roadside restaurants. They slept in Ashland Oregon, but bypassed the big cities, Portland and Seattle, to arrive at Bellingham with time to spare. Bellingham was a moderate-sized city on the coast of Puget Sound, with a charming Old Town and a modern university campus sprawling on the hilltop overlooking the city. Janoz had an apartment on campus assigned to him, they found it and made arrangements to move in. Sassa had another apartment nearby. Then they found the research labs, perched atop Seholm Hill, not especially large, but a pleasant location tucked into an evergreen forest. Inside they were greeted by Bill Waller and Greg Smith, who welcomed them both gladly. Janoz began to get the feeling that this might not be so bad after all. However, he was anxious to know just what it was they needed him for. That had never been mentioned, as if Top Secret. Any attempt to breach the subject had only resulted in the answer that, "all we want you to do is DREAM one of your theories for us, like you used to do."
There was not a large staff at the FDT Research Facility: Waller, Smith, three undergraduate students and himself. Waller had explained that the science of Field Distortion was generally considered essentially complete already and that there was minimal interest for research in the direction they had taken, being pure science. "Hardly anyone believes that we can wring any more surprises out of this 80-year old science," Greg Smith said with a wise-guy smile. "We're the only ones who believe otherwise," Bill Waller said, "because we studied a sideline of what you were working on back in 2021. Specifically variable time fields." Janoz had been diligently studying every available eldoc of whatever had been achieved in his field, and he had come to realize that his BIG SECRET--the one he'd supposedly taken to the grave 83 years before--was hardly a secret these days. They had come so far ahead of where he'd been that he was now worried that his contribution in this time would be essentially worthless. So he felt rather humble. "Well, from what I've picked up," he said, humbly, "the science of MESTwarp fields has far outstripped my own imagination. Besides variable time fields: proximity fields, gravity-warp fields, black hole fields, containment fields capable of holding a nuclear explosion in zero-time...the mind boggles." "And the boggle-power of that technology is increased exponentially by field-within-field stacking," Greg Smith dramatized. "Yes, so I've read." "And you've also read about the interstellar expedition?" "To Sirius? Of course, crew of 200 living in slow-time, left 2 years ago, should arrive in another 6 years, travelling at almost light-speed due to MESTwarp drives. Powered by a black hole separated from a nuclear blast by a proximity field within a containment field. Very impressive." "Too slow," Smith insisted. Janoz perked his head up. Looked over at Waller, raised a questioning eyebrow. Waller nodded. Looked back at Smith, who grinned madly. "You guys are working on FTL?" Janoz dared to ask. "We like to call it FTFL," Smith boasted, "Faster Than FUCKING Light!"

Chapter 14:     ROMANCE BLOOMS

Janoz apartment on campus wasn't huge, but was big enough for two. It had all the modern appliances, most of which weren't visible and he didn't know how to use. So Sassa showed him how to use the various facilities. The toilet, the mediascreen, the kitchen appliances, foldaway bedroom. "It'll take me a little while to figure all this out," he told her, "so it's nice of you to show me my way around." "That's what I'm here for. Of course, it would be best that I move in with you," she said without any trace of coyness, "best way to go native, sleep with native girl...that is, if you want me to move in." Janoz looked at her as if trying to understand a force of nature, seeing it, but not knowing how it worked. "My God, Sassa, what are you trying to do to me? Are you on or off?" "I'm on right now. Want me?" "You know I..." "Shhh. Want me?" He did want her, so he shut up and took her. It was great, just what she'd wanted too and even better than what he'd wanted. Spontaneous, hot, animal, spiritual, everything primitive and holy at once. Multiple mutual orgasms, tantric highs, they were in heaven. After they were totally spent, lying on the carpet because they'd never gotten around to unfolding the bedroom, Sassa said "Well, you're certainly a pushover...at last!" "I was pushed over way back. What took YOU so long?" She thought about what her answer would be. "I don't want to be dominated. I want to give, but not be taken for granted. I automatically resist if you try to push me, but I love to initiate sex myself." Then she turned and looked Janoz intensely into his eyes. "Listen carefully, Janoz, I'm going to tell you how to love me and be happy: let me be the boss of our love life. I promise that if you just let me initiate the sex you'll get all you can ever use, because I LOVE your body; I'm hooked on your bone. But if you try to coerce me...you'll probably get nothing." "Well, I really like what I just got," Janoz admitted, "so I'll try not to do anything that keeps it from coming." Sassa sighed and slumped back in relaxation. "Good, since we've actually been data-matched as a couple anyway--my viewscroll readout indicates that we're highly compatible sexually, you know--so I've been assuming that we'd be lovers." "Oh. Well...I've certainly been hoping that we would be!" "You should have jumped me when you had the chance!" she said in mock indignation. "Hey, be fair, I'm still not sure of the sexual rights and wrongs of this time, what's proper behavior, what's not." "Pretty relaxed, I suppose, especially compared to your former time. Sexual diseases have been eliminated, pregnancy is controllable, so people are free to do what they want. The deciding factors are ethical rather than anything else: it's bad form to cheat, to lie, to break hearts. So don't." "The rules were frighteningly strict last time I lived, especially while the Moral Right was in power-- punishments awaited sinners, sex was trouble, very restrictive, lots of perversions developed." "Not now, you can play all you want--as long as it's with me. Data-matched couples usually have the best sex anyway." "Data-Matched? Didn't you say that WE were data-matched?" "Yes. Computers correlate compatibilities, compare them to find the best mates, usually successfully. You and I are a match. That's how I got involved in this." Janoz blinked, "Does that mean we're sort of...married?" Sassa hesitated, then said, "Not necessarily, but we could be. Mostly it means that we'd probably be good lovers." Janoz was about to question the validity of romance programmed by some heartless sterile computer, when he paused to look at Sassa: and realized that any computer who had put this beautiful woman into his life was nothing less than a good friend. So what he said instead was, "You were going to show me how the foldaway bed works." They went on all night long. Making love with Sassa was an extreme experience in itself-- but to Janoz, who had known the indignity of growing old and less potent (then finally deathly ill and impotent), just being young and horny again was truly wonderful. In fact he had never been so powerful a lover in his own youth. But most remarkable was how they both seemed to know just how to touch each other and how deep their emotions already ran, as if they were soul mates who had made love together many times before. Maybe there was something to being data-matched after all.

Chapter 15:     CONSPIRACIES

Janoz had run into Chiang Wu several times at the clinic in Big Sur and they had exchanged friendly words and e-mail addresses before each went his way. One day he got a mail from Chiang Wu in Mexico City: "Janoz, I'll be in Seattle next week. Want to get together? CW" Janoz had several times found himself thinking about the black boy with the adult memories of a Chinese genius. He had done some historical research on the life of the original Chiang Wu, ultimative computer genius of the 21st century: hacker, system critic, outlaw, revolutionist, hero, martyr. They had liked each other, two scientists from the past with a common destiny. The thought of traveling alone off to distant Seattle (25 minutes by car) to meet the inscrutable Chiang Wu rang of adventure and novelty, maybe even fun. He responded affirmatively. They met on Capitol Hill, the night-life part of Seattle, ending up in a raunchy bar called the Comet Tavern. They had a couple pitchers of beer, just two guys out on the town. They wasted little time on informing each the other of what was going on in their lives, they spoke about their mutual favorite subject: conspiracies. "For example, if they were to upload either of us again," Janoz supposed, "couldn't they make subtle changes in the data to get more...malleable versions of us?" "Of course they COULD, but that's the last thing they'd want to do--" the black kid spoke with the authority of an adult genius, "why awaken a man from the past if you're going to scramble his memories?" "Depends upon what they want." "Heh heh, suspicious of their motives?" "I often wonder if they have manipulated my memory," Janoz accused, "to make me think the way they want me to." Chiang Wu laughed sarcastically. "Really? Well, a great job they did of it then!" He threw up his hands, "Logically, if they were so godlike in their understanding of how our memory-plasmas worked, wouldn't they have manipulated you better? Wouldn't they have made you sedated, satisfied, happy, easily led by the nose?" Janoz laughed, being a little drunk after all, "Hah! Well, they DID assign Sassa to me!" Then he stopped laughing. So did Chiang Wu and they both pondered that one for a silent moment. Until Janoz shrugged and said, "Maybe they're not that godlike, but try to do it anyway." Chiang Wu broke his silence as well, "Oh, you're right about manipulating...it's been experimented with, of course, but what they ended up with was always lunacy, schizophrenia, useless minds that don't do anyone any good." Chiang Wu went on, "No: I don't think they tamper with the memory plasmas, it's hard enough to get a good transplantee-- they want them pristine, clean. There's enough shit in the baggage of a man's mind already--but he's the one who put it there, not them." Chiang Wu was getting excited, enjoying the mental game, "and if they trim out the traumas and unwanted ghosts of the past, fabricate a perfect memory of a perfect life, they might just clip out the very part they needed the transplantee for in the first place. "But suppose that they really ARE good at this...why stop there? Why use real memories at all? Perhaps they've just synthesized a FICTIONAL INTELLIGENCE called Janoz Slavek, or Chiang Wu and programmed it with the scientific knowledge they wanted it to work on, jammed in enough historical facts and general incidents from various real people's lives to make it seem coherent, mix it up, turn it on and see what happens." "Wouldn't work," Janoz shook his head, "if they're after a secret that only you or I know. If they can program that, then they don't need us anyway." "So let's say your memories are genuine--" Chiang Wu said, waving his hands, "but that they are simply running the plasma-data through a simulation program, a virtual reality that seems to be real to you. This physical you does not exist, none of this is happening. This conversation is part of their program...if you're going to be paranoid, why not go all the way?" Janoz was silent for a moment, then nodded appreciatively, "I saw a movie about that back in the early 2000s, The Matrix, but even then I figured out the flaws in the concept. It would only work for one person. We're two here." "Yeah, but which one of us is real?" Chiang asked.
Janoz finished his glass of beer and poured another. "You know, when I think about what an unscrupulous government could do with Transplantees--spies planted among the enemies' government; undercover agents they could casually sacrifice because they were just enemy hosts uploaded with memories of their own agent...my god, of course they HAVE done that, haven't they?" Chiang Wu looked at him with amusement, "Nobody knows if they have, but they probably couldn't do it now: transplantees can be detected. But you're not the first person to think of that, in fact it's the supposition for a popular vidiox series, TransAgent." Janoz looked it up later on the Entertainment media. TransAgent was about a virtual Agent (heroically deceased in line of duty) constantly being uploaded into criminals, political dictators, whoever was at the core of some problem the benevolent government was dealing with. It was a terrible show, lowest common denominator entertainment with fist fights & car chases--TV for the masses was no better in the future than in the past. But Janoz felt hooked anyway, seeing several episodes of it, because there were twists and ideas he'd never thought of himself: multiple personalities spying upon each other in the same host; macho-male agents downloaded into women hosts; some of them even comic relief. But still, he was even more convinced that it could be done, and that this media popularization of it was a smoke-screen of some sort.

Chapter 16:     IMPRESSIONS

The job was all right. Janoz quickly warmed to the subject, after all it was something he really did understand. And soon he was working away quite merrily, not thinking about the past or the future, just the moment. Working with Smith and Waller was even kind of fun, they were gregarious and rather interested in him, especially concerning Janoz' trip through time, often asking questions about the 20th Century. "You were telling me about Woodstock the other day," Gregg Smith said, "so I uploaded some recordings from it. Sounds like hell." "For me it was the greatest celebration of Freedom I'd ever experienced," Janoz said, "I'd just escaped from Communist Europe, so it was an even more amazing and new world for me than this one is." "Really?" Smith pondered, "That's odd. I'd think the technological changes would be the most impressive differences." "Not really, the political changes are much more significant. I was expecting the technology: already in my youth those changes were happening so fast that nothing seemed impossible any more. I was ready for artificial intelligence and space travel--or the total destruction of civilization, either one." "There's nothing that surprises you?" Smith asked, somewhat skeptically. "Well, yes, of course. That my own research came true!" Janoz admitted. "The contrast between theory and practice--I still can't swallow phase tunnels, for example." "Moles? Why not?" "The idea of shooting people through the planet and out the other side still sounds preposterous to me. And dangerous." "But that's old technology; we've had them for 40 years. Almost all public mass transportation is via Moles now-- how can you not swallow something so well established?" "Oh, I don't deny that it works--it obviously does. It's the idea of sending my own body through an entire planet: all that mass, that heat..." "Uh...Janoz," Smith delivered his coup de gras, "they've flown through the SUN with MESTwarp fields." "What? Impossible!" Waller joined in, nodding. "Two years ago. The interstellar project made a trial run. Passed through Jupiter too, no sweat. Literally." "I haven't read about that anywhere," Janoz protested, feeling quite old fashioned and foolish. "It's kind of secret," Waller confided. "Then how do you know?" "Because we were working on that project." Janoz shook his head. Then laughed. "All right, all right, I'm impressed, you guys win."
"You've never taken a Mole anywhere?" Smith asked, on another occasion, over lunch. "No way," Janoz stated. "Proven by far the safest, fastest, most effective way to travel." Waller postulated, teasing a little. Playing their game, Janoz answered, "It reminds me too much of a Star Trek Transporter Room. You know, Beam me up, Scotty?" Smith and Waller looked at each other then shook their heads uncomprehendingly. "Too far back, I guess," Janoz realized, "ok, once upon a time there was a science fiction TV series and in it they used a teleportation beam to get around quickly. Basically, it broke down your molecules, beamed you to a receiving station and reassembled you." "Sounds like science fiction, all right," Waller reasoned. "Well, so does a Mole," Janoz insisted. "Yeah, but so what? What's wrong with either one?" "It's the part about molecules being broken and reassembled--I always wondered: just who has arrived at the other end? The original you...or a COPY who believes he is you? The original you must be dead, since molecules breaking down usually does that to a person. You yourself never arrive, your experiencing the journey ends right there, poof! But your copy never knows the difference and is so stupid as to allow himself to be beamed somewhere else, because he remembers it as being harmless." "Well, really, Janoz, that IS just science fiction..." "And this isn't?" Janoz gestured to take in the world, "I AM a copy, who remembers being uploaded. And now I've been beamed here, but the real me is really dead, molecules broken down, so to speak." "Yeah, but... that's not how the Mole works...your molecules aren't disassembled, just..." Janoz had to laugh, "Ha! Just made virtually nonexistent and blasted through a planet! Excuse me if that makes me wonder."
One day Janoz found that he was actually enjoying his life: the fascination of his research, the bantering comaraderie with Smith and Waller, living and loving with the woman of his dreams. He almost forgot to be suspicious of government agents, Communists-- or Gestapo, as Sassa had called them--hiding around every corner, monitoring his moves. But there was an enemy: that face he saw in the mirror every day, that man who one day would take this life away from him. Who was that guy?

Chapter 17:     ACTION HERO

Janoz went to Vancouver B.C. for a science conference. He had refused to go to other conferences farther away because he wouldn't travel by phase tunnels, but Vancouver was just minutes away from Bellingham by car. He even had a good time, ending up going out on the town with several fellow scientists he had met at the conference, drinking in the Gaslight District. Eventually he had to pee, excused himself from the jolly group and went into a toilet alone. A tall dark Latin-looking man came into the toilet a moment later and stared at Janoz urinating. Janoz noticed, but pretended to ignore the man. But as he tried to leave the man blocked the exit and confronted him. "Eduardo Avilla, cabrón!" the man said, the tone was unfriendly, "sabía que le contraria algún dia, pendejo!" The posture was threatening. Janoz stepped back, intimidated. "Excuse me? I don't understand...Spanish...or whatever you're speaking." "No? That's funny, you understood well enough last time, chingaso!" Janoz shrugged and tried to go past, but the man shoved him back roughly. "No me puedes engañar, Avilla, yo..." then he stopped and, looking deep into Janoz' eyes, seemed to recognize something, "...aw shit, you fucking Ghost-- you're someone else now, aren't you?" "I don't know what you're talking about," Janoz said, afraid now. "Hah! No, you probably don't, but I don't give a shit: this is my chance for payback!" He pulled something out of his jacket that must have been a weapon. Janoz reacted so quickly that it surprised the both of them. Suddenly the weapon was slapped away and he had hit the man two times. His opponent crashed back into a toilet stall. Janoz would have run, but the other man was not quite defeated yet, he pushed off the wall and staggered back erect, assuming a martial arts pose, hands waving expertly. Janoz thought: o no, I got in a couple lucky punches, but now I've just pissed off a karate expert. Janoz had never been a fighter, had lost every fight he'd been in as a boy and knew that he was about to be beaten up--maybe even killed. However, here followed a rapid-fire series of sudden surprises: most surprising was that he was the more expert, executing blows and parries at blinding speed; but also that he was not himself calling the shots; that his body had taken over. It was like watching a karate film--himself being invincible--until a deft kick caught him under the ribs and he staggered back, almost blacked out by the pain. His assailant dived for the weapon. Janoz turned--to run away, he thought, but no--around in a sweeping kick that caught the other man off balance and sent him sprawling just out of reach of the weapon. Which Janoz then snatched up. He didn't even know what kind of weapon it was, but he turned and pointed it at the man who was staggering up, who stopped and raised his hands, crying "No no, por favor!" Janoz, who was quite aware that he had not been in control of his own body for the last few seconds, was afraid that he was perhaps actually going to shoot the man. He opened his mouth to scream "No" himself, but what came out was an entire speech: "Querías una oportunidad para matarme, y la conseguiste. Ahora, si no te mato, podemos decir que estamos desquitados?" Janoz had no idea what he was saying, but it sounded pretty tough.
"Chinga tu madre!" The Latino spoke it like a snarl. Whatever it meant, it sounded defiant. "Bueno-- adios," Janoz readied the weapon, now really frightened that he was going to do it... "No, esperate!...sí sí, estamos desquitados!" The man slumped, defeated, then nodded and said in English, "okay okay, goddammit!" At least Janoz could understand that the conversation was over. He calmly turned and sauntered out of the washroom, pocketing the weapon. Like James Bond, or what was that vidiox series...TransAgent? But once through the door, he began to shake. He walked directly out of the bar without saying goodbye to the other scientists-- they were pretty drunk anyway--and once outside the building he ran, making sure no one was following him, even as he called for his car to come pick him up and get him back to Bellingham as fast as possible..
It was late when he arrived. Sassa was asleep, he lay down beside her. "Have a nice time?" she mumbled, not quite awake. "I was attacked," he said without drama, too tired. "That's nice," she said, eyes still not open. There was a long pause in the darkness. Both of them almost asleep. Finally Janoz spoke: "Some Latino guy started shouting at me in Spanish, like he knew me and was mad about something. I think he was even going to kill me, but--somehow--I beat him up. And then I said something in Spanish (which I don't even speak: pretty weird), it was like watching an episode from that stupid vidiox series, TransAgent. I think he said a name...but I can't remember it...Villa...Vanilla... Avilla..." Another long silence. Then he mumbled groggily "Avilla... Eduardo Avilla, cabrón..." Sassa spoke in her sleep, "Buenas noches, Eduardo..." Almost asleep himself, he said "Sí, sueñas dulces, cara mia."

Chapter 18:     HAPPILY EVER AFTER

Living with Sassa made his new life seem normal. She took care of all interactions with society or authority and he took care of his work. Together they had a social life with University staff and their own little society of two. They had a very active and passionate love life and as instructed, Janoz let Sassa take charge of that too. She did a good job of it, because was a very lusty girl and usually initiated sex about 3--sometimes 4-- times a day, so Janoz almost never got to feeling neglected. At first his old man's mind considered so often to be excessive, but his healthy young man's body thrived on their lovemaking, as did hers. He was getting just enough. Unless he was so foolish as to break Sassa's rules, for instance by even suggesting sex when HE was horny, and then, good as her word, 2 days of celibacy would follow. If it wasn't her idea, she wasn't playing: he was the sex-slave, she was the firm but unfair master, ruling with an iron hand...or whatever. Janoz believed in romance. The first time he brought Sassa flowers she was surprised: the idea was so quaint. When talked about things it was usually perceptions, feelings, the differences in their cultures. They couldn't really talk about work: Sassa's was confidential and Janoz' theoretic research was incomprehensible. But it was their easy comfort together that made their life together really work: cooking dinner, seeing old movies, going for nature walks. And Bellingham was a nice place to live. Besides being a cozy town with a vital cultural life due to the University, it was also a nature wonderland of mountains and pine forest, lakes, rivers, craggy cliffs along the coast of Puget Sound. On a summer day they would bike out to Chuckanut Drive and climb down the well-worn dirt trail to Teddy Bear Cove and swim naked along with the other young people from the University. Janoz also became a film buff again. He was most interested in the era around the end of his first life rather than modern movies. He wanted to see what his favorite actors and directors had produced in their lives. Sassa had seen very few films from those days, 50 years before she was born--there existed simply too many films on file to have seen everything--so they were new for her too. The only modern media he was interested in was the news and that preposterous TransAgent vidiox series. So it was a they-lived-happily-ever-after life. Actually, it reminded Janoz of being married to Vera back when they were young, but without all the effort of kids. Whenever he had thought about his children Janoz felt that he should look them up, but was ambivalent about contacting them, not sure if a Transplantee was an especially welcome relationship in a family. A ghost come to visit? Finally he had tried to trace them on NetSpan-- but was shocked and saddened to discover that his son Willy had died at the age of 42 in an auto accident just 6 years after himself. He already knew that Willy's only daughter, Lizi, was killed at 17 in a protest demonstration against the Moral Right a year before Janoz himself died, so that was the end of that line. Janoz had had a daughter as well, Cristi, but he didn't have the heart to learn how and when she too had died. Not yet. There was a grandson too, who would be 83 years old now if he still lived. Actually, Janoz had enough family in Sassa. She sent him off to work every day a happy man, she took care of the complexities of the 22nd century, she made sense of his being alive again. So he was really not prepared for how life would be without her.

Chapter 19:     A TEMPTRESS

"Excuse me, Professor Slavek?" Janoz turned to see who had spoken to him on his way out of the research facility. It was a blonde woman so perfectly beautiful that she didn't seem real, with a shoulder camera and a WorldSpan News label on her breast. A media journalist. "Uh...yes?" "I'm Naomi Steen, WorldSpan News. Could I talk you into an interview?" "Well actually, all media coverage is supposed to go through my personal agent." "Oh yes--Sassa", she said, as if reluctantly, "--I know, but... well, there seems to be some kind of cover-up going on, I can't get through to her. And I just HAPPENED to see you here..." Now she was being cute, posturing like some precocious teenager. And those were exactly the right words to elicit Janoz' anti-authoritarian sympathy--cover up indeed. "Well, why would you want to interview me?" he asked. "Janoz Slavek was a physicist who inspired FDT almost a century ago. And here you are continuing his research at Western, wearing the same name. There could be a story in that: for instance, that you are a Transplantee of the original Janoz Slavek. Well?" This was a media trap and this woman was no teen-ager. Janoz said what Sassa had told him to in a case like this: "That is private and personal information which I do not wish to have made public." This was a formalized statement which made it illegal for journalists to simply report anything they wanted to. Privacy laws forbade the media from publishing personal secrets against the wishes of those involved. "Yeah, yeah, all right," she seemed to have expected that, "but I'd like to talk to you anyway." Janoz was tempted to just walk away from her, much as that was against his own sense of politeness, but he could see that she had something personal had to say to him. As if she knew him. "Off the record?" Janoz asked, with a glance at her shoulder- camera. She nodded and immediately reached up to turn the camera off. "I just wanted to see how...you...were doing," she said, with big sad eyes. Janoz blinked. "Oh, I'm doing...fine. Uh, why do you ask?" She fidgeted, then said, "I'm not supposed to say." "Cryptic." She smiled again, nodded. "Yeah, I guess. Sorry." Janoz looked at her and several possible stories ran through his mind. Finally he asked, "Did you know me...before?" She looked around, as if making sure she wasn't being overheard, then nodded just a little. Janoz looked around as well, WAS someone watching them? WAS Big Brother out there? He whispered, "Who was I?" Naomi looked at him with wide eyes, studying his face intensely, then regret on her own face. She whispered, "You don't remember anything? Not your name, not Paris, not even me?" He shrugged, "I'm Janoz Slavek, that's all I know. But tell me, was my name...Eduardo?" She shook her head, shrugged, frowned as if frustrated. "Who? Never heard of him. But then again, I know you were a ghost at that time too." "I was?" Janoz was surprised. Had his host also been a transplantee before? How many times? "Are you sure?" She nodded. She was really quite a good-looking woman. "Could I invite you for a cup of coffee?" Janoz offered.
There was a cafeteria in Old Main, it was full of students, but they sat at a table off in a corner. "Why can't you tell me who I was?" he asked. "Because you've probably been transplanted for a project of some sort, at considerable expense, and if I were to mess up that project by destroying your illusion of who you think you are, I'd be liable for a hefty lawsuit by the investors. Simple as that." "I see. Although I don't, really. There was a Spanish speaking man who thought he knew me...he tried to KILL me, I believe. Called me Eduardo. But he hardly seemed concerned about a lawsuit." "He probably didn't know you were a ghost--excuse me, a transplantee--anyway, murderers don't usually worry about getting sued." Janoz laughed. "No, I guess not." "You laugh like yourself," she said, "I always liked that." "Uh...were we..?" She nodded. Looked away. Looked back. Looked sad. Looked sexy. Janoz couldn't help imagining being with this woman. Artificially beautiful perhaps, but intelligent, nice body (well, that was standard now). In another life, where he didn't know Sassa, Naomi could have been... She reached over and took his hand. "I've missed you...him. Come with me and I'll help you remember how we were together." Janoz stopped imagining abruptly. "Uh...sorry, I...have a girl friend," he said, in excuse. "Sassy?" Naomi sounded suddenly indignant, offended, almost angry. "You think she's your girl friend? She's really..." she almost said something, but refrained and said something else instead, "...she just wants to CONTROL you!" "Well, she is my personal manager--control is what she's there for." "Yeah, sure, but it's YOUR life! And MINE, the bitch!" Her perfect face became suddenly unpleasant with resentment. "You know Sassa?" Janoz asked, carefully. She glared at him. The resentment was for him too. But she didn't answer the question. She hardly needed to, there had obviously been some conflict between Sassa and her. Then it hit Janoz. "Was I also with her when...when I knew you?" "Oh, you were with everybody, asshole," she said, then shook her head, having said too much. "Sorry. I don't even know why I'm here. You're not him anymore. He's...gone..." Actually, he was relieved to see the negative side of this otherwise perfectly packaged young woman, because he wanted very much to stay true to Sassa. He really didn't want to be tempted by Naomi Steen, even though she might be--probably was-- great in bed. Then he realized that he didn't really even want to hear her story either, because she was Sassa's rival. "Uh, I think I'd better be gone too," he said, nodding goodbye and standing up to go in the same move. "Wait, I need to know what you're planning to do when you stop being this...Professor Slavek guy." "Well, I'm planning to be myself for the rest of my life," he said, leaning into leaving. "Oh, have they let you think that? How cruel--but they'll never let you do it, you'll be dumped just like all the others." "What others?" Janoz asked, stopping, slightly alarmed. "Never mind, I've said too much already. Listen, if you really want to know, just ask Sassa. She knows everything. She's in on it all." "I'm sure she is, but she says it's confidential." "Yes, I'll bet-- she can better control you that way, keep you complacent until it's too late and then...Janoz Slavek is kaput, just like Stefán!" "I trust Sassa..." "Really? And just why is she with you? Besides for True Love, that is." "She was assigned to me..." "Assigned? Ah, of course...ever check to see just WHO assigned her to you? It wasn't the Transplantee Clinic, it isn't the research foundation. Who could it be? And why? Who is your personal manager really working for? And what is her agenda?" Janoz stopped, turned. "What do you mean?" "Oh, nothing. Well, tell your personal manager 'Hi from Naomi', and ask her whose side she's really on--yours...or HIS?"

Chapter 20:     LOVER'S QUARREL

"Naomi? Not her again!" "You girls don't seem to like each other," Janoz observed, "she accused you of having some secret agenda." "She's the one with an agenda--especially concerning you." "Yes, she mentioned that. Called me Stefán. Mean anything to you?" "Of course it does, but that's confidential informa..." "Not any more, Sassa. You're not just my manager, you're also my woman. We're a team, us against the world, so come on and level with me." "Janoz, it's best that I don't. Not until you're ready--and you're not. Trust me in this." "That's not so easy without some answers... you told me that you were assigned to me, but you're neither working for ComCo or the Research Facility...so just WHO did assign you to me?" She hesitated. Janoz could see that she wasn't supposed to tell him that and sure enough, she said, "There's a reason that all this stuff is confidential, sorry." But he waited. Finally she weakened, shrugged and said, "All right, actually...YOU did." "Me? Oh, you mean...HIM?" Janoz pointed at himself. "It's a rather standard procedure," she explained, "for a candidate host to engage someone they know and trust to watch out for him while he is not quite himself, so to speak." "Then you knew HIM personally?" "Yes, but you know that I may not tell you about him. It confuses..." "Were you lovers?" There was definitely a jealous tone to Janoz' voice. "You see? That's why it's confidential--you'll start asking questions like that, back me into a corner until I've told you everything I know. Then you'll accuse me of setting you up, of being loyal to him instead of you." "You WERE lovers! Slut!" "Oh, stop it Janoz and don't get abusive. You'll only end up apologizing abjectly later on when you realize that I'm only doing exactly what YOU asked of me." But Janoz was getting worked up now, "You sound like you know this routine," he said with some sarcasm, "how many times have you done this with him...? No wait, I know: 7 times, right?" "Confidential, confidential..." she was saying, smugly, it seemed. Janoz grabbed her wrist hard. "You'll tell me or I'll..." Now she was angry, trying but unable to twist her wrist free, and she gave him a dark look. "Janoz, back off! I'm not defenseless!" "Oh, now you're threatening me? I thought you LOVED me?" "I do. And you love me--that's why we programmed a posthypnotic trigger word that will immediately restore your original memories if Janoz Slavek should threaten me with violence." "You're bluffing!" "You want to hear the word?" Janoz released her wrist and backed away from her. If that was so, and she said the word, he would cease to exist. He backed even farther away.
Janoz spent the night alone. Sassa had gone to her own apartment, angry at him. Or afraid of him. He was devastated. The thought of not having her in his life was catastrophic. He didn't sleep at all. In the morning he found himself glaring into the mirror, stuck there, obsessed with the face of his enemy. Yes, who WAS this guy, or rather; who did he THINK he was? Offering this new life to Janoz, just to snatch it away again when it amused him! And now revealed to be Rival for the love of Sassa, seducer, ruiner of True Love. Yes, now he could clearly see the arrogance in that face, the real HIM at last: selfish, egotistical, heartless... He didn't go to work that day, was too distraught. All night he tossed in his bed, missing her body next to him, afraid it never would be there again. The next day wasn't better, but he did go to work. However, he accomplished nothing. Back home that evening, his scrollviewer buzzed: incoming call. He answered, hoping it was Sassa. It was. "Hi, Janoz. Can we be friends again now?" "Yes, listen I..." "Let's not have another scene like that again, all right? Confidential means confidential, all right?" "Uh...yes, all right." "Good, I'll come over. We can make love, then we'll both feel better. Ok?" "Uh...ok." Sure enough, he felt better after they made love and he went back to work the next day a reasonably happy man once more. Janoz didn't challenge her again after that.

Chapter 21:     HACKING

He had to find out who his host was. Eduardo? Stefán? Someone else? At first Janoz had wondered how his host body got to be so trained, so perfect, but soon realized that so was everyone else. It was explained to him that everyone had a computerized PHP, Personal Health Program, to assure a proper balance of vitamins, minerals, organic chemicals, based upon analysis of body cells. People take the prescribed food supplements and feel better, are more healthy. "20th century medicine concentrated upon the causes of illness, such as cancer," Dr Ross had told him, "while modern medicine is oriented toward preventing and avoiding sickness through advanced health maintenance." Janoz secretly reasoned to himself: "a PHP must generate a medical history for the patient. If I could access that archive, I'd probably find out who this body was before my transplantation." He had been computer proficient back in his day, but now the software was developed so far beyond his knowledge or skill that he knew he could never hack his way into it. But there was someone he knew who might be able to do it. Chiang Wu had been a computer genius before and still was a master of modern cybernetics, he could probably pull it off. He was working at CBM in Mexico City, Janoz called him, using an encryption program that Chiang Wu had himself created so that no one could hack in on them. Chiang Wu gladly agreed to do it--he was always enthusiastic about hacking into confidential files, "fucking the system". He addressed Janoz' PHP, which was accessible online, and when he looked up "medical history" he got a readout that went back 7 weeks and stopped. "Previous records," he commanded the system and there was "Restricted Access: Who is asking and Why? Identify and give Password." "Oh good," Chiang Wu said with a happy smile, "I love it when they do this. The trick is to give the computer everything it wants and more," the black boy said, his fingers dancing through a 3-D field of light ray controllers... It worked. They came up with a medical history and a personal history: born 2066, Crescent City, California; graduated Cal Tech, Military Service Record, licensed air/orbital pilot, Transplantee host 7 times. And a name: John Stander.

Chapter 22:     SUCCESS!

At work, the research was coming along quite well. Janoz' main duty was to study all of the established data and theories and guesses that had ever been documented in the science of FDT and MESTwarp functions. This had taken long while because there was a lot of data. Waller and Smith were always saying that one night Janoz would simply DREAM up the solution to the possibility of Faster Than Light speed, although a only little bit faster than light was hardly satisfactory, what they really wanted was the magnum leap to FTFL. Dream it as he had dreamed 90 years before. Actually, Janoz did dream prodigiously at night-- but they were mostly rewarmed memories rather than flights forward into physics. His childhood, Vera, the kids. Or fantasies whose symbolism he couldn't always decipher. One night he fantasized about himself being a version of TransAgent: but instead of being downloaded into various bodies and sent upon dangerous assignments, as in the vidiox series, he was himself the recipient of various personalities, becoming a collective of experience and wisdom, training himself for some great mission in the future... And sometimes he did dream about science, about his research in FDT, but mostly those dreams centered around that same old conversation with his bushy-browed fuddy-duddy colleague so many years ago--over a century ago, in fact! Those dreams irritated him: He was such a young and brash Janoz, and the older colleague was always being made a fool of for his antiquated beliefs, but Janoz had come to understand that the older man was actually symbolic of his own original self. They continued that conversation about disobeying the Laws of Physics, the young Janoz always with a smart rebuttal to the older man's knowledge of how things functioned on the cosmic plane. "...phase one clump of matter/energy/space/time to a different frequency and it could theoretically pass through another matter/energy/space/time as if it weren't there. No sweat." "Well, ANYTHING is theoretically possible if you IGNORE the laws of physics," the old codger protested yet again, as he always did. But in vain, for the bright young Janoz Slavek, cool genius, cut him down with brilliant arguments, "Or rather if you truly UNDERSTOOD the laws of physics. "Besides, old man," he expounded, "you're talking Archimedean Physics, simple displacements of mass and volume--but just as Newtonian Physics were replaced by Einsteinian Physics (which have in turn been pretty well tweaked by now), those old Greek Laws are due for an Upgrade." "And you," the frustrated old colleague accused, "would replace them all with Janozslavekian Physics?" Janoz laughed. Hahahaha. Yes, why not? The same dream again and again, sometimes he tried to wake up and get out of it. He was tired of it, he wanted a new dream. Oh, there was some variation, some new wisecrack he would unveil as the Ultimate Truth to put the uselessly outdated scientist in his place. "For every Law of Physics, there is an Equal and Opposite Exception!" Meaningless cleverisms that could not stand up under scientific analysis. It happened one day, while wide awake studying the documentation, he suddenly realized that an Equal and Opposite Exception was looking right back at him. Variable-time fields; fast, slow, zero, reverse... twist the mechanics of those processes and you get the Instantaneous Eternity. And there it was: FTFL, the puzzle solved, the equation perfect. Faster Than Fucking Light was a theoretic possibility. And therefore a practical certainty. It could be done, it should be done, it would be done. But he told no one about it. Not yet. He spent two days checking over his results and when he was certain of their validity, he had to decide what to do. Because now he had finished the work they had awakened him from the dead for. He had succeeded. Therefore They had also succeeded and didn't really need him any more...

Chapter 23:     ESCAPE! ESCAPE!

He found Sassa in her apartment. She smiled when he came into the room, but immediately sensed that something was wrong. "We've got to escape!" he told her. "Escape what?" Sassa asked, lifting an are-you-crazy? eyebrow. "The Research Facility, Bellingham, the government, The SYSTEM." "What are you talking about? We're having a good time here." "It's about to end. I've finished the research!" "Really? Wonderful!" "Don't you see? They won't need me any way, they can just... turn me off and let John Stander have his body back!" Sassa didn't seem surprised to hear him say that name. "THEY can't do that, Janoz, only you can. Although if you're right about being finished you might as well cash in your Contract already and be free to do whatever you want." "Cash in...? You want me to do that?" "Eventually, sure. Don't you?" "I want to be myself, Janoz Slavek!" "You will be yourself, stop being so paranoid. Anyway, they'll probably need you to test the results, modify the parameters, all that. I'll bet that you've got years of work ahead of you." "No, it's done! There can't be any more, I've come full circle-- it's rather perfect, really. They won't need me any more, I'm a doomed man. I have to go-- come away with me!" "What? Away to where?" "A remote corner of the world where They can't find us." "Janoz, there is no remote corner in the world anymore." "There must be, somewhere. I'll find it." She gave him an exasperated look. "Janoz, you know that everything is online--YOU'RE online and so am I and everyone else--and any secret place you escape TO is online as well." "Yes, I know, Big Brother is watching us. That's why I have to escape." "You have really misjudged the online civilization, Janoz. You can always watch Big Brother back, you know, the democratic process takes place online. You think that's bad? Well, try being offline and see how far you get. But without me, thanks." "You won't come?" "Janoz, you're not thinking: come WHERE?" "Prague." "You're kidding?" "Come with me to Prague. We can disappear from this computerized tyranny." "But Janoz Slavek is Czech: that's the first place someone would look for you, if they bothered--besides, you can always be traced by your IDchip." "No, that's what they want you to think, but it's all a ploy--a ruse to cover over the fact that they CAN'T really control us after all." She laughed. Janoz was surprised, this was serious. "Janoz, you've created yourself a crazy-Kafka universe to live in, understandable because of your background, but based upon miscomprehensions about who you think you are, as well as who you think we are." "I know who I am..." "So do I--never mind the name, you will always be that same YOU, no matter whoever you happen to think you are at any given moment. I swear to you that no one is out to kill Janos Slavek to bring John Stander back. John Stander has never been gone." She came very close, "You want to escape, from HIM, from THEM. Fine, go ahead and escape--but you don't need to run away and hide, an outlaw without money or connections. DON'T tell them you're done with the project; we take a leave, go to Prague, you can show me around, slip out the back door, sounds great." Janoz looked at her as if she was crazy, "Then THEY'D know where I was. I'm not sure you understand the realities of life..." She cut him off. "I do, it seems that you don't. Go to Prague secretly? No ticket, not paid for with the money you have on account...so we'll walk? Or drive in an unmarked stolen car? But first you'll have to surgically remove the chips in your body so that you can't be located by satellite. Then you'd get a new identity--new name, new job--and never concern yourself with FDT research again?" Sassa shook her head, then shrugged, "And then you'll have to give ME up as well, because eventually they'd find me!" "It can be done..." "So can suicide." "It's suicide for me to tell them that I'm finished." She shook her head, "You're wrong, just do it and everything will work out the way it has to anyway." "That's what you say," he challenged her, "but...how do I know that I can trust you?" "DON'T you trust me?" She turned to look at him indignantly. "I don't really know-- which me are you loyal to?" "I'm loyal to you You YOU---I'm here to take care of you, help you. You arranged this, you ASSIGNED me to this, you asshole, we're partners!" "Partners? Do you sleep with all your partners?" "Isn't that a stupid question that has nothing to do with anything?" "Try answering it." "Look: you know that I may not tell you certain things until your contract is fulfilled. Once you report that you've done the job--fulfilled the contract--you'll be released from said contract and I'll be free to tell you everything. I really want to, believe me." "Right, then you can also tell me your magic words--and poof!--I'm gone so that you can be reunited with your beloved John Stander." "Not really, Janoz." She was really indignant now. "For one thing, I may not use the escape phrase unless it's a real emergency. For another, I have neither the right nor the authority to wake John up, only you do. And if I DID do that, well, you'd only be angry with me anyway." "I'd be angry? What would that matter? I'd be GONE!" Sassa gave an exasperated sigh, throwing up her hands. "What do you think happens when the host wakes up? That YOU fade out, do a dissolve, die screaming, maybe falling down some endless tunnel and that's it--you are no more and the other guy takes over? No, you're still there, the only difference is that you remember everything you've forgotten about the rest of you. You don't become less, you become MORE." "How American: more is better? And if that was so, then all the six other transplantees he has ever been would also be there..." "That's right." Janoz was stopped by the concept. "...well, hmmm. Since I seem to be number seven, sounds pretty crowded for one man's brain. He'd have to be absolutely schizophrenic." "Do you remember being a child? Where you lived? Your friends?" "Of course." "You were that child, but now you're not any more--it's like another person. Are you troubled by those memories? Are you still that child? Do you still think like him? Still want what he wanted? Does he disturb your thoughts?" "No, I grew up. But everyone has ONE set of memories, this fellow's got 7...no, 8 with his own!" "Any good theater actor learns the lines of his role sometimes so well that he feels he BECOMES the character. Later he plays another character in another play with the same intensity, again and again taking on new roles, until he himself becomes tangled up with the qualities he liked best from each of those characters--but he's still only..." "This is Bullshit! You're trying to convince me that if I wake up as...John...that our life will continue as is. But we both know that's simply not true: I'm sure John Stander has his own agenda and I doubt that doing theoretic research in Bellingham is on his list." Janoz was waving his arms now. "This cozy little life we're living would be over, then you and he will go on to something else somewhere else. Am I wrong?" "I can't tell you anything until..." "Just tell me if I'm wrong!" Sassa tried to say something, but couldn't. She could only shake her head No. Janoz read that as: no, he was not wrong. "Well, I'm escaping. You coming?" "No. You're acting too paranoid!" She was on the brink of tears, but not quite. Janoz suddenly realized that he had never seen her cry. "I love you Sassa. But goodbye."

Chapter 24:     PLAN? WHAT PLAN?

Janoz hurriedly packed a small suitcase with a change of clothes and a toothbrush. Except for his viewscroll he could think of nothing else he really needed. Of course, there was also the weapon he had taken from his attacker in Vancouver. It had been hidden in his car since then, nor had he ever told Sassa about it. He supposed that it was an illegal possession, but some instinct (perhaps Eduardo's) told him to keep it, just in case. So Janoz drove off into the night, away from his happy home in Bellingham, escaping to some unknown destination. He had no idea where he was going. South? North? Okay, south. Janoz got off to a bad start. He was so rattled, so confused, so unsure of how to escape that he started in one direction, rethought, changed directions and after half an hour still had not gotten out of Bellingham. It was as if something was scrambling his mind--one of his former ghosts who had other plans than escape, perhaps. He got as far as Chuckanut Drive along the coast, then made a decision to break out of the mental trap he was in: he drove the car off the road, out over the edge of the craggy cliffs with the waves crashing a hundred meters below. His car's proximity drive went into automatic semi-flight mode and he floated down to the rocky beach, landing gently and safely. He turned everything off, killing the lights and sat back in the silence. It was a moonlit night and the beauty of the scene was incredible, the San Juan Islands poking up out of that shining black sea, the waves gushing, nothing but nature visible from there. Except for all the satellites orbiting in the sky, speeding across the background of stars. Take the time to make a plan. Where was he going? And how was he going to get there? And then what? He didn't dare use his bank account, his whereabouts could be traced, but there was no such thing as cash in this computerized world. So he was broke. He could travel across the continent in the car, fuel was no problem in this age, but he couldn't cross oceans. There was Mexico or Canada, but they were all part of United North America now, so there was no political refuge nearby. He had no family--he was a ghost to any descendants he could find. No friends, except in Bellingham. But he had to escape Bellingham. Work, friends, woman. This was going to be hard. Especially being without Sassa any more... Wait. One friend. In Mexico City. He unrolled his viewscroll and punched in Chiang Wu's e-address. The vidiphone function trilled, but no one answered. Janoz typed a mail. "CW, are you there? Need to talk. JS" He waited, opening the car so that he could smell and hear the ocean surging in against the rocks. He had no plan anyway. But he did have a weapon. If he was really going to be an outlaw on the run, at least he was equipped. He took it out from under the seat of the car. It resembled a pistol, but was apparently electronic rather than a bullet shooter, a ray gun of science-fiction fame. But he felt uneasy as he held it, he had no idea of how dangerous it might be. He was reminded of the one time in his life he had held a pistol--a German 9mm Luger--back when he was 18 years old in Prague. It was at a clandestine gathering of university students who were toying with the idea of revolution against their Communist suppressors. Holding that pistol had given Janoz a feeling of intense danger: he could go to prison just for being in the same room with it. It was not a thrill of danger, but of nauseas fright. And disgust for what the pistol was: a death-machine, no more, no less. This was a thing that changed every rule: you had to be committed to perhaps killing someone, or there was no point in carrying the weapon at all, because flashing a gun you weren't prepared to use was the best way to get yourself shot. He had put that pistol down and never touched one again...until now. But he knew what a 9mm Luger would do to someone, this thing-- he didn't even know what it WAS. Suddenly he realized that this weapon was a symbol, an indicator of just how humane this future society really was. A society he was escaping because he simply could not believe in the semi-utopia it claimed to be. He always suspected that the evils he had known from his own time were still around, being hidden from him, sinister secrets everywhere. But he now held one of those secrets in his hands: how ruthless were the weapons? He was curious. He hefted the weapon in his hand, a pistol with an authoritative weight and feel. It felt familiar somehow. But he didn't even know how to turn it on and didn't dare experiment. He let his mind go blank. Let someone else take charge, whoever it was that night he won the fight in Vancouver. Eduardo? Stefán? John Stander? Somebody inside him knew how to handle it. Janoz went to the water's edge, where moonlit waves crunched against the rocks. He found a plank of driftwood and cast it out into the water. Aimed the gun at the floating wood and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Then another part of his mind seemed to get irritated at himself and took over. With suddenly deft slapping motions he did whatever it took to cock, lock & load a ray gun, resulting in a rising whine as the batteries came to life. He noticed that there were no indicator lights on the pistol (for an enemy to aim at?), but assumed that it was ready to fire. Again he fired at the wood. There was a crackle like static electricity, but no kick, no bang and the wood seemed unaffected in any way. But he could hear the batteries charging up the next shot, so energy had been spent. No pyrotechnics anyway. A death ray? Or, if not so bad, a stun gun? However, the owner of the weapon had been very frightened of it, remember. But then it could also just be some sort of extreme pain ray. How to find out? Shoot his own finger? Not interested. Shoot a bird? Janoz Slavek had never willingly killed anything, he turned the weapon off. There was nothing to make him believe that he needed a weapon-- not yet at least. He didn't want it with him, but nor did he want to throw it away, so he wrapped it in a plastic bag from the car and buried it beside a tree.
He was still sitting there about midnight, looking out at the sea and still without a plan, when his vidiphone trilled, it was Chiang Wu. "Hi Janoz, what's up?" "Hey Chiang. Well, I finished my project, the Theory of Field Distortion is complete at last." "Wow, that's great! Now what?" "Now...I guess my host wants his body back. So I'm escaping. Getting out before they get me." "Wow, Fuck the System?" "Yeah, speaking of that, I need some technical advice: can they really trace my IDchip anywhere I go?" "Oh yeah, they sure can--unless you have it surgically removed, and I wouldn't recommend that at all." "Well, you're the computer genius--how can I beat it?" "It wouldn't be easy, but I suppose it could be done...screw up the tracer signal so that it reads wrong, I guess. I'd have to work on that. Want me to?" "How long would it take?" Chiang Wu laughed, "Who knows? A while at least; days; weeks. Trouble is I'm tied up writing an artificial intelligence program just now and I'm SO CLOSE to crossing the design threshold now that I don't have that kind of spare time. Shit, I don't even have a life. But I'm not complaining--if I get this AI running, my god, I'll be a Daddy!" "Well, sounds like you do have a life," Janoz said. "Ah, it's okay, I'm doing what I'm good at. But it's not like...well, like you have, with that sassy Sassa you've got. Or...? Or are you escaping her too?" "Afraid so." "Aww, hey man, don't do it. I wouldn't ever leave that nice woman's behind, I'd give up everything else first." "Life's not always that simple." "The hell it's not. You've got a woman who will stick it through with you, no matter what. She's a doll, I'd love her forever if I had a woman like that." "You don't even know her." "I know about her, maybe more than you do. I hack computers for fun, man, I've hacked yours, seen pictures, vidiphone conversations, confidential reports. I haven't told you all I know because...well it's true, it confuses us to know too much about our host selves...never mind. Just don't leave her, take her with you, do something." Lights appeared in the hills, a car was descending directly towards Janoz' own car. Standing outside, Janoz had to shield his eyes from the glare, he got into his car so that the windshield filtered the light and he could see that it was Sassa's car. "I don't need to, Chiang. She's found me already, I don't know how." "Well, you were asking about your IDchip, you knew that you're online. Anyway, be glad that she did. I would, believe me." Janoz nodded, even smiling, as Sassa got out of her car and walked over to him, sat down beside him without saying anything. "Oh, I am," he said, putting his arm around her, "well, see you later." "Yeah? as who, Janoz?" "I really don't know." "Well, just one last thought: if you do dump that lady--Send Her To Me!" On that note, Chiang Wu broke contact and vanished from the viewscroll. Sassa still hadn't said a thing yet. She was looking out at the water, sitting there with him as if they'd come here together. "Who was that?" she asked casually, having seen the image of a black boy on Janoz' viewscroll. "My friend I told you about, Chiang Wu." "Oh yeah, the Chinese computer genius ghost." Janoz touched her face, turning it towards him. Her tears were glistening in the moonlight. Real, acting, who cares? He kissed the tears. "I was afraid you were really gone," she said. "Oh, I was. But you found me..." he had to laugh about it, "just when I needed you most." "I'll go with you to Prague. We'll escape-- I don't know how, but whatever you choose to do, I'll go with you." "Oh hell, let's take the easy way out. I'll tell Waller and Smith tomorrow, tell them I did it: completed the quest, solved the final mystery and reveal to them..." Janoz finished his speech with a ring of bravado.. the Complete Field Distortion Theory." "Really?" Her smile was blinding in the moonlight. "Really, yes, and you should be proud too. You also earn a whole bunch of money--unless you're TOO proud." "Oh, I'm just proud enough. Shall we go home?" "Can we make love here on the sand first?" Sassa asked. No, actually, she wasn't asking at all.

Chapter 25:     REVEALED STUFF

Waller and Smith were ecstatic when Janoz revealed the ultimate solution to the completed Theory of Field Distortion Dynamics. They got very excited, slapping Janoz on the back and inviting him for a beer down in the South Side. "Look," Waller said over a beer, "I know this probably officially fulfills your contract and you'll be free to do whatever you want...but you're still welcome to keep on working with us." "We'll continue developing FTFL, and even though it should work now, " Smith was saying, "who knows how far we could tweak it? Maybe even come up to the standards of your Star Truck transporter, or something..." "What we mean is, if you're in no hurry to..." Waller hesitated, unsure of what words to say, "...uh...get back to whoever your...uh...host self was..." Janoz was surprised. "Uh, no...no hurry, I like being me." "That's good, because we like you too, Janoz."
The next morning Janoz received an online confirmation that his contract was fulfilled, he was thereby released and that so much money was transferred to his account. He and Sassa were in bed together, reading his viewscroll. "You're a free man, Janoz!" she said, rolling over onto him. "Maybe so, but there's already a new contract here, concerning the continuation of research at Western. That's tempting." "No, THIS is tempting!" she informed him, wiggling her body against his, "but before you sign on to anything else right now, there's a lot of stuff I need to tell you." "Well, isn't this finally the time for that?" "It certainly is. First, let me inform you that we are actually married. I am John Stander's--your--wife." "I guessed that. Lucky him." "Hey, you're the I'm lying on. Lucky you." "Okay, no argument. Go on; why shouldn't I sign anything else now?" "Because you've got yet another contract going on which you don't even know about: you're a government agent whose assignment is to accumulate knowledge for eventual use in the field, via the Transplantee process." "What? You mean I'm...he's...like...Trans-Agent?" "Sort of: the vidiox show overdramaticizes and fantasizes the action aspect of it all, but the concept of uploading agents with special talents is genuine enough." "What special talents?" "The original Janoz Slavek, for example, was a theoretic scientist with a miraculous instinct for field dynamics--very useful knowledge. Including Janoz, you now have 7 especially talented personas accumulated, along with all their memories, abilities and skills." "Wait a minute--are you telling me that John Stander is a...spy?" "Not necessarily, although you could be, of course. But you've been more an investigative agent, problem-solver, trouble- shooter. You were very successful at undoing an international criminal organization in Latin America a few years ago." "Let me guess: as Eduardo Avilla?" "The original Eduardo WAS a spy. He was from Venezuela, active from 2069-'93. You uploaded his techniques, culture, language, connections, and blended into the Latin world as a native. You also had the advantage of having once been the Japanese martial-arts master Hoito Toru, when you needed to fight your way out of trouble." "Oh come on, you're not serious?" She reached over and caressed him. "You don't do that any more-- you're no longer military but a civilian under contract, thank god--now you do THIS: developing yourself as the perfect agent." "And what if they--whoever THEY are--suddenly decide that they need their super-agent to go into some incredible high-risk situation for their cause?" Janoz sounded indignant. "Then they upload Agent John Stander as a transplantee into a younger volunteer and send him off to do the job." "My god! And where do they get a...volunteer for such a job?" "Criminals with long prison sentences are always willing to take such a chance for eventual freedom. Violence and risk appeals to them, in fact-- that's why they became criminals in the first place." "My god!" "You've already said that." "Yes, well, my god...so who else have I been?" "Stefán Romulus, an Italian finance genius, millionaire, playboy--and womanizer; that was who Naomi wanted you to be again. Wilford Higgens, a British historian and political philosopher, very cultural you know. Timothy Mach, an American war hero, soldier, pilot, astronaut. Those were the good guys. "But you also experienced the darker side of human psychology, so that you could understand it: Gunther Messerschmidt was a German MegaNazi Gangster from the mid-2000's, a psychopath. You had to remain locked up while you were him--and I certainly wasn't being your girl friend at that time, you were horrible." "It doesn't sound like all of this has been especially easy for you," Janoz said to Sassa, touching her hand. "Not always. Stefán was a heartbreaker. Hoito was so alien in his concept of women. But Wilford and Timothy were both quite nice to me. And Eduardo was very sexy..." "And Janoz?" "Janoz is my favorite: he's been so sweet, so considerate and so in love with me that I really don't want to lose him." "But what if I STAYED being Janoz, instead of reverting to the other guy? What if I didn't change back?" She looked at Janoz with some sympathy. "That would be fine with me, I'm happy with you like this. But eventually you will start to remember who you were. It's just like growing up: we all want to be kids as long as possible, but we grow up anyway." "What about John Stander? Do you...love him?" "I...I desire John physically, intensely. And we're a loyal team. Oh, sure I love him, but really no more than I love you, Janoz." Janoz' heart warmed to that. "Do you miss him?" "Not really, you're right here. You don't act that different, you know. Oh sure, some things, John's a bit more self-confident than Janoz, who is a bit more romantic and considerate." She dug him once in the ribs, "Remember that when you wake up as John: Sassa likes romantic and considerate." "So what happens now?" Janoz asked. "Prague!"

Chapter 26:     THE MOLE HOLE

Sassa arranged the trip. She told the foundation that Janoz wanted to visit Prague, so they gave him leave of absence and even paid for the trip. There was no problem at all, "Bon Voyage," they said. Janoz was suspicious of their intentions, but was eager to take the trip. He made secret plans: to perhaps change hotels when he got there, make his break in the Czech Republic, where he spoke the language and could blend in, where technological control was perhaps less developed than in the States...he would see. "So how do we get there?" "We'll take the Mole," Sassa said, "it's fastest and cheapest." "You know I won't do that--I can accept a lot, but I won't take a Mole anywhere. Can't we fly?" "Fly? In a car? It would take a week." "Aren't there any passenger planes left?" "Not on routes from city to city. Why fill up the sky with slow planes that could only crash and pollute the air, when the Mole will cheaply and safely get us to the other side of the world in seconds?" "Because Moles might be killing the passengers and delivering copies who only think they've arrived intact!" "Nonsense, I've taken them many times. So have you, before being Janoz, and you're still alive, aren't you?" "How am I supposed to answer that? I'm not who I was before, so he's not alive." "Well, then I'll take the Mole to Prague. Join me when you can." She won. She convinced Janoz that his fears were science- fiction fantasies--which he also knew to be so--and that he was behaving childishly. But he acquiesced mostly because he trusted her. And loved her, so if she was going to her death...he would go with her. Perhaps he could even talk her out of it at the last second. They drove to a phase tunnel terminal in Seattle. Their car parked itself on a large elevator carriage along with several other cars, inside the building. At the assigned time, lights began to strobe. Janoz almost went into panic when he thought about how they would now be shot through the earth, phase-tunneled through all those thousands of kilometers of rock and molten magma, through the heat and the pressure of the earth's core...Sassa reached over and took his hand. They looked each other in the eyes. The wagon dropped, accelerating down a huge tunnel into the earth, the walls blurring with speed, then the stroboscopic flashes of green light as they shot through the pulse rings, a stunning instant of electrification, then deceleration and stopping. When they drove out of the new terminal, it was night and they were in Prague. The whole trip took less than 5 minutes. Janoz seemed to be alive, as far as he could tell.

Chapter 27:     PRAGUE

Prague was still a beautiful city, remarkably unchanged in the 65 years Janoz had been away. They had a nice hotel room in Stare Mesto and crossed Karls Bridge several times a day on tours around town. So much was as he'd known it, both before and after the fall of Communism. They ate in some of his old favorite restaurants and toured the University where he had studied and peeked into the windows of a house he'd once lived in. There were changes since he had last been there, mostly for the good, he had to admit. The slums were cleaned up, become even charming, no longer cursed by poverty. And yet the old city was preserved rather than replaced, the way of life was still very Czech and the food and beer were almost as good as he remembered them--or wait, maybe better than ever. Transportation was also modern, by shootover shuttles, so it was fast and easy to travel out to Kutna Hora, the town of his youth. He asked around for anyone he might have known, but those people had died at least a generation ago. Janoz enjoyed speaking Czech again, although the accent was difficult for him because his new mouth had never physically spoken the language before, his vocal muscles had to learn new routines. But it came fast. He showed Sassa the Gothic cathedral of skeletons in Sedlec, which she thought was pretty grotesque. They got a hotel in town and ate out at a sidewalk restaurant. They had a nice time, it was in fact quite romantic. Janoz found himself remembering what it had been like in the Communist years, but it was all so different now, so free. It felt like the past he remembered really had nothing to do with him or who he was now. Which was true, that had been a completely different Janoz Slavek. This new flesh had never been disciplined by torture, it felt no fear. "So this is where you want to escape to?" Sassa asked him as they had a couple of beers in the sunset over Kutna Hora. "Oh, it's fun being here, but I'm not really part of it any more. If I ever really was--when I was here all I really wanted to do was escape to America. I hated it here." "I like it here." "Oh, I do too--now. But back in the days of communist oppression it was terrible. I DID escape, that was great. My life's adventure." "And now you want to escape the modern world. Looking for more adventure?" Sassa asked with a smile. Janoz reflected, nodded and then shrugged. "Being alive again IS an adventure. And being with you. I just don't want it to end yet--and end of this is what I want to escape from now." "Let's go to our room. I'll convince you that it's not about to end." "Oh, but it is--I can feel it. The job is done, I have no reason to exist as Janoz Slavek anymore." "But you'll still be alive, still be YOURSELF and still be with me." "Yes, let's go to our room, I'd love for you to convince me of that."

Chapter 28:     WAKING UP

He awoke--no, wait, this time I think it was me. Or WE, sometimes it's hard to tell. I awaken. Not sure of where I am, disoriented, confused. Until I turn our head and see Sassa lying asleep beside me in the bed. Strange bed, room, city. Then I remember that we're in Prague, that I was Janoz, but now I know who we really are. I focus in on Sassa: okay, there she is, my wife, my partner. Christ, what a beautiful girl! I uncover her naked body, looking at her makes me feel in love and very horny. I'm ready for her right now. But you can't just jump her and violate her, she's sleeping... ...what is this? Pussywhipped Janoz thoughts clouding my mind? Although maybe I should be a little more romantic about it. Wake her up, at least. It's just that she's so beautiful sleeping like this. It's a shame we don't get along. Of course we don't, I don't treat her right, don't respect her as much as she deserves, take her for granted, make her babysit all my ghosts... Back off, Janoz! Oh well, at least she got the romantic kind of love she wants while I was him. She must get something out of these ghosts I upload if she's still with me. Lucky for me, how could I do this without her? How many women would put up with it? Scared me when she wanted a divorce, though: Gunther was almost the last straw. Enough reflection, I want her now. "Not now, Janoz, I want to sleep some more." "Not Janoz, Sassy, the other guy. Spread 'em." "John's back? Okay, so have me." Funny: whenever I'm a ghost she's the absolute boss in bed--a veritable Dominatrix; but as myself, John, it's me who can be unreasonably aggressive and she just takes it willingly, like a good little sex-slave. So I have her thoroughly. Hey, maybe we get along pretty well after all.
"Well, we've put another good clump of money in our accounts," she tells me, after we're through having sex and are sitting in bed together. We've got lots to talk about. "So do we have enough yet?" "If we want to scrimp. We can buy the land but we won't be able to eat." When Janoz was young only the poor lived out in nature. Here in the 22nd Century only the rich can afford land outside the cities. "There'll be another payment when I update my Agent Memory File with the government," I remind her. "I've already calculated that in." "Well then, we'll just have to do one more ghost." "Okay." No hesitation. She used to hesitate. I look at her, laugh. "Is that the only way we can stand being together?" "Oh, I don't know. You change a little each time you do this. Janoz was nice to me, maybe you can be nicer too now." Hmm, she's giving me another chance to win her back. Maybe I should take it. But I won't crawl... "As Janoz I might have been pussywhipped, but you know ol' John's not. Just lucky for me you're so hooked on my bone that you'll put up with anything to stay with me." "Actually, I really won't put up with anything...but yeah, I'm still addicted to you. Even more so when you're being your arrogant bastard self than any the nice ghosts you've been. Pretty weird, I guess." "Oh, I don't know. Janoz treated you nice, but don't tell me you weren't irritated by how paranoid I--I mean HE--he was all the time." "Yo, a little. But...well, you know why better than I." I nod, just remembering Janoz' life as a young man here in Prague. Those nice Czech people had a history of incredible inhumanity to each other. Nazis coming up the steps, Communist tanks rolling through the streets...but the worst was what your neighbors did to you... "Hello? John? Or Janoz?" I wipe his hand across my face, as if wiping another face away. "Little bit of both," I confess. "I always feel sorry for your ghosts," Sassy admits, "they're fighting for their lives, so desperate. I always want to save them." "Well, me too of course--sorry for myself at least, although I don't know that at the time. As Janoz, I was afraid of ME-- until I woke up just now and remembered that I've been me all the time anyway." Y yo tambien! Yeah yeah, Eduardo, and don't you other guys start. "Anyway, I have saved them, every one of them. I still remember being them...in fact, they won't go away." "I suppose," Sassy says, "but once I see that you're not REALLY them anymore, it's as if I/they actually DO die in a way. And that it's me who has betrayed them." "You? You certainly haven't betrayed them--or me--in any way. You've been completely loyal, I give you that. It's always ME who whines and gets jealous--or paranoid. I'm the one who misunderstands, who gets weird..." "And why not?" Sassa asks. We both stop and laugh together. "Yes, why not get weird when you come back from the dead?" I ask. "Anyway, you are alive and they've been dead for years. They don't even experience this, only you do." "I know, Sassy, I know, they're just software illusions in my head, but so convincing." I look at her and suddenly feel so much love instead of lust, touch her face, "Hmmm, Janoz really loved you, you know." "I know. But it was really you loving me and me loving you. It always is." "Not always...Sassy, I'm sorry about Gunther..." "Oh, Gunther Messerschmidt, MegaNazi monster. Don't remind me, he scared me. Good thing we kept him/you locked up." "And yet it was just me anyway, you know. I regret that I ever allowed him into our lives." "It was your assignment. And you DID find out where he'd hidden the bombs, so it was for a good cause--you were a hero, John." "To everyone but my wife. They purged his memories, but I still remembered something about dominating others and some part of me liked that. Gunther contaminated me. Sorry I got so mean..." "Yeah, well, he certainly brought out the worst in you. I'm always a bit more careful about just who your transplantee might be since him. But he gets pushed farther back by each new transplantee. Janoz was romantic at least." "Hey, I'm jealous!" "Of Janoz? Too sweet and innocent...you should rather be jealous of Eduardo Avilla, now HE really got you to perform! Yoo hoo Eduardo, are you in there?" "Sí, baby! Aqui soy!" A suddenly careful look comes into her eyes. I understand: if Eduardo is in here, so are all the others...including Gunther Messerschmidt. "Hey, just kidding, it's only me," I assure her. "Yeah? And just which ME is speaking?" "John Stander, Ma'am, faithful husband, heroic transplantee courier--a virtual TransAgent HimSelf--back from yet another dangerous mission." "Until the next one. Maybe you SHOULD stop now, John, while you still do have a personality of your own. Sometimes I'm afraid that you'll be permanently changed into someone else." "Well, of course I will be, eventually. But then again, so will you by all this." "It was ironic to see you, as Janoz, watching that TransAgent videox series," you say, "always saying how silly you thought it was, but never ever missing an episode. Even though you couldn't quite remember that you really ARE a TransAgent, more or less." "But you know," I have to tell her, "it was really fascinating to be from so far back in time--having been born more than 160 years ago--and to see our modern world with new eyes. Things we take for granted, like space cities, phase tunnels, etc-- they're truly fantastic if one bothers to think about it." "Yes, I suppose they are." I can see that Sassy is simply not amazed by the world she grew up in. But then, she's not yet been a transplantee. "The other day, for instance, on the Mole," I tell her, "I was absolutely and totally flabbergasted by how absurdly impossible it was to be phasing through a planet and out the other side...wow!" I shook my head, still amazed by it all. "That's the kind of thing people from our time don't even THINK about! And I was really terrified that something would break and we'd end up merged in boiling magma halfway through the planet..." "But that's never happened," she assures me. "Well, not that we've been told about." "You're still thinking like Janoz: conspiracies, cover-ups. He never did accept that the world could grow up someday and become civilized." "Are you sure it has? We believe that it is, but maybe we just can't see the sinister side: it IS rather alarming that we can all be traced by our IDchips anytime an authority want us." "Oh, not you too, John." She says it with a laugh. I have an experience of epiphany, enlightenment, revelation: not of one realization, but many--for I am many--I remember being Janoz discarding the weapon I had taken from Eduardo's enemy, because I could never use it to harm anyone; even as I remember being Timothy Mach killing a man in combat, as a soldier in a war; even as I remember being John Stander, trouble shooter extraordinaire, blowing up a building full of "gangsters" without mercy. Stefán made money at the expense of others, Winfred wasted his life on books, I don't remember Gunter Messerschmidt (thank God), but I know all about him. Each of them changed me in some way, good or bad. And we all loved Sassa. My actual realization is this: I upload these ghosts to become some sort of an Ultimate Agent for the Authorities. I become clever, knowing, skilled, the Perfect Everyman. But what they're going to get when they upload me is a man who loves a woman too much to become the monster they want. The next upload is going to tip me back to being good for Sassa, and then I stop. That's all I really want out of this. "Janoz had a different perspective, for good reasons," I say without missing a beat, "Guess I'll be thinking like him for a while, still processing the things I can remember." "But there's SO MUCH you remember now, John, how can you keep it all straight? All those lives, all that expertise: pilot, astronaut, kung-fu master, academic historian, economic mastermind, spy, (& nazi gangster, unfortunately)--and now with Janoz, scientist. What's next?" "Actually, I don't know enough about Computers yet: do you remember that Chinese genius named Chiang Wu..?"

The End



"Eduardo Avilla, cabrón! sabía que le contraría algún dia, pendejo!"
Eduardo Avilla, you bastard! I knew I'd find you some day, you fool!

"No me puedes engañar, Avilla, yo..."
You can't fool me, Avilla, I...

"No no, por favor!"
No, no, please!

"Querías una oportunidad para matarme, y la conseguiste. Ahora, si no te mato, podemos decir que estamos desquitados?"
You wanted a chance to kill me, you got it. Now then, if I don't kill you, can we call it quits?

"Chinga tu madre!"
Fuck your mother!

"Bueno-- adios"
Fine-- goodbye

"No, esperate!...sí sí, estamos desquitados!"
No, wait!...yes, yes, we're quits!



"Buenas noches, Eduardo..."
Good night, Eduardo...

"Sí, sueñas dulces, cara mia."
Yes, sweet dreams, my dear.