Nice to be home after such a violent outing.
I tell Janah, “I hope the search program takes a while to find more Shadows.”
“Me too. Katya brought up something, I want your thoughts on it. She says they are going to give up the assassination business, they have far too much money to do it for that, and they jobs they’ve been willing to take are more complicated and risky.”
“What about Sarah, and Mani, they’re homicidal psychopaths, they need an outlet..”
“They say they will take on Shadow work, but they have no particular skills to deal like we do. She figures Sarah and Mani will be satisfied killing Shadows once in a while, but they have to use laser guns. What do you think?”
“Shadows are going to die when we find them, the guns are actually less painful, and more importantly, it gets them out of the murder for hire business.”
“We may not even need to give them much Shadow work, Katya says they are also going after sexual predators, but not for money, so they aren’t technically doing murder for hire, but they are doing murder.”
“What do we care what happens to predators?”
“We don’t. At least with virtual reality child porn, the number of predators has been reduced. There are still some that want the real thing, no matter how realistic the VR is.”
“Hard to fathom. I’ve tried VR, not child sexual abuse, but a few porn experiences, and a few other things, hang gliding, mountain climbing, sports stuff. It seems real when I’m in it. Really real, like I feel as if I could fall off the cliff.”
“Exactly, still, there are real children being abused, too many men can’t get past the need to control. Anyway, I’ll talk to Katya, some lucky Shadow will get a four inch deep hole in his skull instead of Dasha crushing it like melon.”
“Yuck, don’t remind me, and I wasn’t even there, at least not in person.”
Janah goes off to find Katya, a few minutes later on my way to the kitchen I pass her in the office sitting with Katya and the other four assassins.
Dasha’s in the kitchen, “I am bringing children a snack, here, take this tray, we will do something more pleasant than talk of Shadows and murder.”
Upstairs in the dorm, the children turn in unison, “Mama, Tetya Dafna, what did you bring us?”
Dasha, “Cookies, chocolate, wiz sugar substitute so you will not anyway be fat little girls.”
They giggle, if you stack them together they look like matchsticks with muscle. Swimming, dance with Amaya, gymnastics with Mama, racing around the property, if they get any harder, they’ll be statues.
Uma, “Tetya Amaya is almost finished with the screenplay. She sent photos of us to animators, but only ones after we were made up. We look like us, but not exactly. We are studying the script with Tetya Chloe and Kota B. Tetya Amaya wants us to say things a certain way.”
“Tetya Amaya wants everything done a certain way, which is good, she is most often right.”
Amaya is at the door, “Most often? Excuse me?”
I tell the children, “Amaya is always right, never wrong, never in doubt.”
They giggle again.
Amaya, “Better.” then to the children, “after you have your snack, I would like a read through of the first two dozen pages please.”
“Haf cookie Eemaya, no sugar.”
“Thank you Dasha,” bites, “Wow, tasty.”
We hang around to listen to the first read through. The screenplay is partially biographical about the children. It doesn’t include the part where they were used for entertainment, it does include a neglectful orphanage and how the girls bonded by taking care of each other. As they grow, then stop growing, the Zycyryn are introduced. The children can see them because they were neglected and thus free to see without the blinders of adult biases. Parents’ idea of raising children is to brainwash them with whatever prejudices their worldview encompasses. The movie is about what can happen without limitations imposed by people who think they understand the world.
The lesson from the girls is that the universe is nothing like our limited consciousness paints it. That desire and fear color our motives and mask our ability to go beyond a person, a form, a world. Of course, all this unfolds over the course of the film. The audience will not get a lecture about quantum mechanics and the multiverse, they will see how it works, they will see the universes the children have seen. Amaya’s little joke is that the audience will call it science fiction, when in reality it is science fact.
While they don’t need to memorize the script, they do need to know how Amaya wants it paced, the voice modulations, whispers to screeches.
The first run though, Amaya doesn’t interrupt, just makes notes. Then she goes over the changes she wants.
“It is not that you did wrong, you did it exactly as the script notes indicated. When I hear it, I think it would be better to say it more slowly, or faster, a pause, or a higher or lower pitch. Or that Tasia should say it instead of Karol or Nadia. This is the process we will use until we finish the entire script. After that, you will read your lines and Eloise will record it. We will go to Malibu and I will take the recording and my script notes to the editors and they will plug the voices in as the final animations are done. Right now, the animators are doing stills of each of you and of your visions. They can’t do the action until we have a final reading, your mouths have to match what’s being said. The same people who create our virtual reality programs are doing the movie. This is not old style animation where the characters are obviously anime, it will be impossible to tell your animated characters from real girls.”
Devona, “We will be movie stars, like Tetya Chloe.”
“Yes, but not exactly you, we did a bit of makeup and a change of hairstyle and color. We will know, but if people see you when we’re out, it will be a stretch for them to recognized you as the movie characters. We have already explained why that is not a good idea.”
Nadia, “We do not mind Tetya Amaya, we like doing our plays, now a movie, nothing out there,” she waves her arm, “means anything to us, we visit other worlds, and have visited many places in this world. We do not want people to stare at us and take pictures. Tetya Chloe puts up with it because she wants to make her fans happy. It is different for this. The people who see our movie think they are seeing made up characters. They know Tetya Chloe is a real person.”
“Mature attitude, my compliments. Just know, Zycyryn Girls are going to be famous.”
“It will make Zycyryn sparkle, they will take us on even more journeys.”
What happens when the girls go off to places unknown? They don’t actually leave the dorm, and their journeys are always at night when the rest of us are in bed.
They go to sleep around ten, but on nights when the Gids come, they wake just after midnight then simultaneously sit cross legged surrounding the circular fireplace. A stream of light pours in, which turns into glistening sparkles, mostly silver with shades of dark metallic purple, almost black. It isn’t frenzied, more like twinkling stars.
They remain motionless, eyes closed, but they are not asleep. Kota B never leaves the children, she keeps a record of all their activities, including the Zycyryn sessions. From the replays we’ve watched, the state lasts a couple of hours, sometimes three. When they return to their bodies, they stand as one and snuggle into the beds, instantly asleep. We only know they went with the Zycyryn when they don’t show up for breakfast the next morning and Kota B sends a digital note to Grace B and Emma B that the children went off with the Gids and won’t be coming down until later.
It would do us no good to sit in their dorm and watch, Zycyryn come when they do, we have no idea when, it isn’t on any schedule. Best we can tell, it happens around once a month, but it has been as little as two weeks in between trips and as long as five or six. Zycyryn don’t know from time, the multiverse isn’t in time.
Then why does it happen at a certain time of night? Good question, we don’t know so I ask Nadia.
“They are being considerate. Gids are always with us, they see we have activities during the day.”
“How do you know to wake up?”
Zofia giggles, “They wake us Tetya Dafna, they put us to sleep when it is over.”
Simple enough. I could ask more questions but I’m not really sure I want it all laid out, explained. Much of our lives, starting with Janah finding me mentally when we were eight, is unexplained and unexplainable. You have to have been there as they say. And it is their world, they have no obligation to explain it to us.
I always wonder why people feel there is some obligation others have to explain themselves. And then they get miffed when they are lied to. Hey, you asked for it, quit being so nosy, or needy. Women in particular are persistently trying to pry out the truth, calling it honesty. Too much honesty will kill a relationship, and the reason isn’t what you might think. It’s because people don’t know why they did what they did, or they want to color it so it doesn’t sound so bad, or to avoid hurt feelings. So they shade the story, color it favorably and paint right over the ugly spots. In extreme cases, they invent a completely unrelated excuse, one that frequently blames the person asking all ‘whys’.
Anyone constantly demanding honesty has something to hide, more likely several somethings, and the something they want you to be honest about is the thing they want to hide. It’s called projection. They don’t see you, they see themselves, and they don’t like what they see, owning up to it would poke a hole in their self image. The work around is to accuse you of the bad behavior, as if they can cure themselves of the virus by passing it along.
People are some delusional mammajammas.
While New York and New Jersey pump water and clean away rubble, we are fortunate to be in Arizona and the parents and extended family enjoying Malibu.
Susan calls, “You may have created a monster, we’re supposed to be mourning soaked basements and damaged property, Black’s gung fu school lost a portion of roof and the place took on a lot of water. Their house is good though. Fong’s took water and will be closed for a while. Ning’s other restaurant, Asiana, is fine. The Down Home restaurants are all good except the one in Brooklyn, it’s waterlogged. Chan says the temple got a good soak, but the monks are over every day working. The vaults did their job, no damage to the valuable books and artifacts. I guess Janah’s been talking to them, you probably already know that.”
“Yes, she has. The temple was well insured, they don’t need to tap their own funds.”
Black and Sonia appear onscreen, “We can’t thank you enough for pushing us to get out of town, Susan was on the phone demanding we fly out with them. Like she was saying, we’re having a wonderful time, sad about friends in the city of course.”
“Are Chan and Ning nearby?”
The screen shifts, pans out to take in more space, everyone is at the dining table.
After waves of greeting, I go into my pitch, “We’re bailing on the city once this is over, this is the third Category Five in ten years. Maybe they never have another for the next fifty, but we aren’t hanging around to find out. That got us to thinking, there are no Down Homes, no Ultra Violets and no Fong’s or Asiana on the left coast. We decided there should be. Maybe you can talk it over while you are all together.”
Ning, “You mean we sell off in Manhattan and start up in California?”
“Yep. Nikko says your property is still worth a ton, particularly if you wait a year and this current mess has moved off the news. You can take the opportunity while you’re out there to look around, see what you like for both homes and business locations. Nikko, Zi and Daria know the market. There are no cheap properties, but it’s no different than New York. Besides, I want to see Chan surf.”
Chan has no expression, Chan never has any expression, discounting when he looks at Ning or his children. Then, if you know him as well as we do, there is a softening, Chan is not a soft man.
Sonia pipes up, “That is an idea I can work with, Black, what do you think?”
“I think we’re gonna do what you want.”
Sonia smiles, looks into the cam, “He is such a perfect husband. And I got him because of you and Janah.”
“You got him because of you, but we did make introductions. Ning, it isn’t a rush, talk it over with the big guy. It won’t hurt to explore since you are already out there.”
Chan, “Wife will decide.”
Ning, “I don’t know squat about California property.”
Nikko is behind me, I pull our cam back to include her, “Ning, suppose Zi and I fly out tomorrow and we take a ride around. LA is overstuffed, but that isn’t as true for either where we are or further up the coast all the way to Ventura. There are millions of residents inland, clean up to and through San Francisco. We can skip Frisco, it’s jammed up like LA, but north of that there are huge communities in Modesto, Stockton, Sacramento over to Santa Rosa. Grace B will collect the data, we’ll forward it to you guys, we can discuss when we’re there.”
Ning, “Great! Be good to see you in person.”
“Grace B will forward arrivals, we’ll arrange a car.”
Ning, “I’m getting kind of excited at the prospect, see you tomorrow Nikko.”
Susan is back on, “Book the same plane for a return trip to Arizona, Lacy, Taylor and I want to see the children.”
I grin, should have thought of that myself, “Will do, see you tomorrow…granny.”
“James and Kara coming?”
She asks, “Kara said James has no intention of leaving paradise. They are going house hunting tomorrow.”
Nikko, “Let me add houses to Grace B’s list, I think spacious, well lit art room, office for James. You live in the same building as Susan, do you want houses close together, together, as far apart as possible?”
Kara, “I can’t speak for Sis, I’m assuming she wants to be near you guys, that works for us.”
Nikko, “Good enough, I have a few ideas, see you tomorrow.”
We click off the call.
Nikko, “We have enough land to build them a house, or houses. Do you want me to open that possibility?”
“Sis will jump at it, a short walk to visit the kids, and they travel half the year, makes sense to have something we can keep an eye on when they’re gone. Plus we’re frequently here in Arizona and Canada. We may never run into them. And it isn’t like we have family issues.”
Nikko, “Grace B, you heard, you know what to do.”
“I have assembled all the relevant data, and sent it to you and the others. I included population, median income, comparative land and leasing prices, tax rates and, of course, available properties, both developed and raw. If you need additional information, pop me a line.”
Nikko, “You are a wonder Grace B.”
We have a family meeting over tea.
“It is possible the parents, plus Chan, Ning, Black and Sonia will be selling in New York and moving to California. No decisions have been made about where in California. Black will likely prefer it down our way, Ning may see more opportunity to the north. Nikko and Zi are going over tomorrow to discuss property, both housing and restaurant locations. Black may or may not want to start up more Down Homes, or an Ultra Violet, Ning loves the restaurant business and will operate at least one. Our question is, what does the family think about building homes for the parents on our property in Malibu?”
Amaya, “I have no objection, but what do they want?”
“Don’t know, we haven’t broached the subject.”
Katya, “You going to cook for five more people?”
“They won’t want that. We didn’t do it in Manhattan and they lived two blocks away. They will be farther than that if they have homes on our Malibu property.”
Dasha, “Ees not anyway a problem, parents haf never been the kind of people to be over all the time, they haf own life.”
“Anyone else, speak up, this is our family, you are encouraged to speak your mind.”
Chloe, “I think it’s great.”
Ellen, “Suits me.”
“Okay then, Nikko and Zi will offer building here as an option. I’m not completely certain about Kara and James, but Sis will like the chance to see more of the children. I know my mom, she’s going to accept an offer to be nearby.”
Janah, “My father will be circumspect. He knows there’s a fair amount of lightly dressed to completely undressed. If they do accept living nearby, he would never just show up unannounced, none of them ever did in Manhattan. The unspoken rule is call or text, find out when would be a good time. That goes for us, if they live on the property, we won’t show up at their places unannounced either.”
That was easy, I didn’t expect it to be otherwise, the parents never interfered in our lives, and Susan has been an integral part of our coding and software development for years.
Eloise, “It’s about time to update their bots’ hardware, software is updated automatically as we make changes to ours. I’ll wait and alter them when they move.”
“Good, thank you all, now your chefs need to get busy or we’ll be getting pizza droned in.”
Amaya, “Do you have something prepared already, pizza sounds fine to me.”
I look at Dasha, “We do not haf something already, I was thinking about lasagna, but have not started anything. I can keep veal until tomorrow.”
Amaya, “Wait…you were making veal lasagna, can I change my mind?”
Dasha, “Ees easy, will be ready by seven or so. Everyone clear out, cooks need to get busy.”
They do, we do. Run the pasta dough through the machine, nice thin sheets. Layer of pasta, then veal and vegetables, sauce, cheese, pasta, repeat for four layers. We are cooking for twenty plus girls and eight children, you can imagine, our pans are commercial size. While it simmers away in the oven, Amaya bartends, Grace B and Emma B pass around canapés, roasted cinnamon pear bruschetta and toasted goat cheese crostini with honey walnuts.
Sloane, “Dang mom, you’re upgrading our appetizers.”
“Ellen is upgrading our appetizers, they are splendido, yes?”
“I love crunchy toast with goodies on top.”
Janah, “I could have these for an entrée, good job Ellen, more Champagne Emma B if you please.”
Grace B, “Suck up. Have another pear thingy Janah, you know you want it.”
“One of each I think.”
“I’ve analyzed your calorie intake for the last year, you should weigh in at two fifty, but you don’t gain an ounce.”
Janah giggles, “I didn’t know you were counting my calories.”
“I count everyone’s calories, except the children, Kota B counts theirs, and their sugar and vitamin intake. Chloe should be a bloated whale, Amaya should be a stick, neither come close. And I factor in exercise. There is a genetic or atmospheric thing happening I cannot account for.”
Amaya, “How do you know how much we exercise?”
“There are cameras everywhere Your Highness, I review them at night and make caloric adjustments based on bodyweight, muscle density and respiration. None of you ages, I do not need to adjust for metabolism changes due to creakiness. Only Daphne and Sloane make sense based on calories consumed and calories expended. Nikko is close to expectations, but slimmer than my calculations predict.”
Amaya, “As long as I am maintaining my perfection, calculations are irrelevant. My bodyweight can fluctuate by three pounds, it is not allowed more or less than that.”
“Nikko has never permitted body fat, I’ve known her for decades, she weighs the same thing now as she did when she seduced me in the Chapman’s locker room. I know, I have examined her closely throughout the years. She’s tight as titanium.”
Grace B, “We do not plan your meals, I send Dasha a report on the sugar, fat, vitamin and mineral content of each meal, then a summary for the week. That way she can adjust what meats, cheeses, nuts, fruits and vegetables to serve the following week.”
Amaya, “I didn’t know that, we are being portion controlled?”
“You are getting proper nutrition, how much you eat is up to you. The children get portion controlled, they do not complain.”
Dasha, “Dinner ees ready, first Italian salad while lasagna sets, Ellen haf selected a nice Chianti. Brownies wiz vanilla bean ice crim for dessert. Kota B, serve children first, small glass of wine ees permitted, add water also.”
Kota B, “Sit down children, Mama has allowed wine with dinner.”
It isn’t like a major decision, the children are always going to be children physically. But we see no reason to deprive them of a few simple, if more adult, pleasures. They do not have children’s palates, they like a little Champagne or a small glass of diluted wine. If they move on to heroin, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. French children have wine regularly, they’re no more insane than the rest of the world. We draw the line at Gauloises.
After dinner the kids want to race go karts, although race is inaccurate. They make four rows of two, wheels and bumpers a hairsbreadth apart and run at full speed, which on the electric karts is sixty. Then as if on cue, the lead karts part and the three rows behind zing through the gap and the two front zip into the rear spot. Sometimes the other way, the three rear rows part and zip past the two leaders who take the rear. The third trick is when the columns separate, then the karts weave left and right between each other. It is almost impossible to grasp the precision, we breathlessly wait for one kart to clip another and create a crash, but they never do.
Amaya, “Even though I have seen them do that bit dozens of times, my heart races as if it is the first time.”
Lauren, “What’s as amazing is there is no signal or sign, they do it spontaneously, like a flock of starlings.”
“The time I sent the video along to the parents, Sis was on the phone in two minutes accusing me of trying to give them all a heart attack. Lacy was convinced I speeded up the video, like they do in movie car chases. I think they convinced themselves it was my little joke until they came out and watched it live.”
Our darling starlings put away the karts, then up to their nest for hot showers. Mamas will go up and offer double kisses around, Kota B will read to them until they fall away.
Nikko and Zi take off with the twins to Malibu, we pass a leisurely day. Not sure what everyone got up to, I helped Chloe take the girls through kendo practice for a couple of hours. I guess at what Janah got up to, I didn’t follow in her mind, but I saw her leave our bedroom, she was nude. She only strolls around naked when she’s going to sit by the pool, she didn’t go there, which means she’s was on the prowl for intimacies.
I find out later she went to the workshop with Eloise on her mind. Her thing with our tech sprite is sink to her knees while Eloise leans over the workbench and Janah tongues her tush until Eloise has a squeaky vibe orgasm. I think Janah is fascinated by the small butt, small but rounded and firm, and the little pink target of opportunity between the cheeks. I can relate, I’ve pleasured Eloise that way myself, it’s her favorite form of stimulation, although she never fails to turn around so we can service the smoothness on the other side.
In our room, Janah says, ‘Lauren was also in the workshop, nude, like she always is in her room. Lauren decided to strum for Eloise while Janah did her bit, no doubt giving Eloise an extra vibe.’
‘When you get that mood, you usually go in search of at least one, often two or three more conquests.’
‘I did, Sarah is always ready, then Mani came along and demanded equal treatment. When I was returning to our room, Zi caught me wandering naked, she forced me to take her strap on in my butt until she was satisfied.’
‘Good gravy, I need to stay in your head more often. Did you just give, did no one reciprocate?’
‘Wasn’t in my plan.’
‘Then stretch out on the bed, I have a new plan.’
Geez, Janah was so stimulated from her exploits, she nearly levitates when I work her over.
She’s gasping, hands clench the sheets, ‘What a girl slut I am,’ she giggles.
“I seen my duty and I done it.”
“Shall I reciprocate?”
“I think you’ve done your duty as well, and, to be honest, Ellen has requested my company tonight. I was flattered, she said a one on one, no extra players.”
“Wonder what got her wound up?”
“It might have something to do with me fondling her legs while we sat around plotting dinner.”
“That would do it, what’s for dinner by the way?”
“Dasha’s fried chicken, coleslaw, BBQ beans and spinach casserole. Speaking of which, I need to help batter, have a nice warm bubble, see you for cocktails.”
We batter a mound of chicken, wings are popular with the kids, the rest is some of all the other parts. While we are at it, I batter a couple of pints of chicken livers and we fry those up as appetizers.
Cocktails in hand, Emma B takes a tray of livers skewered with toothpicks, and individual condiment cups with ketchup or horseradish mayo to dip them in.
Sloane, “Mom! These are soooo good, who came up with this?”
“Fried chicken livers hadn’t crossed my mind in years. When we were buying the chicken, I first thought of pâté and crackers, pâté put liver in my brain and I bought those instead. In New Orleans, at least back when, several sandwich shops used to sell fried chicken liver poboys. One of those takes a week to fully digest, but slathered in ketchup and hot sauce, they are delicious.”
“You can make me one anytime you want, I’m game.”
Kota B, “The children want to try them.”
“Two each, I mean, let them taste one, use ketchup only, if they want a second, fine, that’s the limit. They have a ton of crispy wings, plus the sides, and make sure they get spinach and slaw.”
“Always, the children aren’t fussy about food, they eat what they are given, portioned to suit their size. If they want seconds, maybe a little. I monitor them closely as Grace B said.”
I grin, “Am I getting to fussy?”
“Not at all, Mamas and Tetyas always have the children’s best interests in mind. It is difficult even for me to look at them and remember they are not really children anymore.”
“Dasha, take a sec,” she comes over, “Kota B is suggesting we do less portion control of the kids’ food and see how they handle it themselves. She gently reminded me that they only look like children, their maturity level is past that, half of them are past adolescent in years on Earth.”
“Da, ees okay….for now. Eef any of them go overboard wiz food, go back to the old way. Children are maybe not children, but are not adults een everything. They like being children, they like Mamas to look after them, they watch Tetyas and look to them for instruction. So let them decide, they have to anyway take some of all, not only chicken and ice crim.”
Kota B, “Understood.”
Tonight, for the first time, children have platters and bowls on their table, like the adults, not individual plates of food placed before them. they look a bit baffled until Kota B explains.
“You will decide for yourselves how much, your table will be set like the adults’ table. Mama Dasha has one rule, have some of everything, she makes the dishes to provide the proper amount of nutrition you need, vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein and carbohydrates. You must show your appreciation for her careful planning.”
A simultaneous, “Spasibo Mama, spasibo Tetya Dafna, Tetya Ellen.”
Three hearts melt.
Ellen, “I am such a sucker for those girls.”
“They are surrounded by loving suckers, which is how it ought to be.”
Platters set out, girls dig in, gratifying to see our handiwork enjoyed with such gusto.
Kota B passes by, “They took and ate almost exactly what I would have put on their plates. First run is a success.”
“Spasibo Kota B.”
I think even the bots have a soft spot in their titanium shells for the children.
Katya, “Did you hear from Nikko or one of the others?”
“Only that they arrived, which was a message from Emma B, she tracked the flight. I don’t know what they did, probably reviewed the data Grace B collected. That will tell them costs and what the demographics are. New York is a walking and public transportation city, California is a driving one. Visibility from the street is more important, more people are going to drive past a restaurant than walk past.”
“That means the data can only tell them so much, they will need to drive to potential locations.”
Grace B, “Not necessarily. I have live street and overhead views on a video feed. They can study a location, scan access and egress, skip those parking lots that are more maze than convenience. When they settle on a few possibilities, then I do a car count, what the flow is into the area and how it varies over time of day. We will also collect records of other businesses in the area, if they have existed for more than a couple of years, it is a sign that people find the location convenient. If the businesses are turning over every few months, no good.”
Amaya, “Good job Grace B, I had no idea, they may never have to leave the house.”
“My pleasure Your Majesty.”
Uma, “Kota B, please find us a movie before bed. I think the Gids may come tonight.”
“I thought it was a surprise when they come.”
Tasia, “Uma started getting a feeling, in advance, she’s been right the last two times.”
“What’s it feel like?”
Uma, “Not exactly a feeling, more like a sense, like they are more energetic than usual. The Gids are always around, they are everywhere. Before we travel with them, it is like the volume is higher, or there is more current in the air.”
“Nobody else gets the vibe?”
Nadia, “Only Uma, but when she senses it, we sense that she senses it, maybe the Zycyryn are just being efficient.”
Later, I’m lying in bed with Janah, she’s flipping though a research report on something or other, her normal bedtime routine. I’m channel surfing with the sound off, hit a news channel. New York is doing what New York does, cleaning up and getting people back to work. A dozen years ago, white supremacists blew up Times Square in a failed attempt to get the blame placed on Muslims. New York cleaned up, rebuilt and got people back to work. This third hurricane is just another day in the city.
Janah, “Any feelings about leaving the city? I don’t sense any.”
“Not really. We live forever, most of the people we knew beyond our extended family are much older, as are most of the monks we knew from the temple. Today, we’re almost strangers there. With advances in genetic alteration, people have fewer aging effects, look younger, but in the end they get older and die. We don’t. We almost have to withdraw from former friends and acquaintances. Chloe can pass because the world attributes her youth to the magic of digital alteration. She has to avoid public appearances, it would create a tabloid nightmare, how does Chloe Sylk today, almost twenty years later, look exactly like she looked in the Ultra Violet films. Amaya never did book promotions, when she shifted to screenplays, there’s no reason to be in the public eye.”
“Dad’s colleagues at the hospital look at him askance. People he worked with retire, certainly get older, he just rocks along. One reason he’s willing to relocate is to avoid dodging questions.”
“Is he going to work in California?”
“I don’t know. He and mom don’t travel as much as Sis and the others. Kara is usually painting or thinking about a painting. His work is all consulting now, he quit taking private patients. I have no idea who he knows in the California psychiatric community, but he’s been to enough conferences he must know someone.”
“I bet he knows several someones.”