For the purpose of this story I have a name, Orlow Fabricatum. I am the proverbial fly on the wall. I see a great deal and inform the proper authorities. I’ve been used in thousands of stories, in movies, and in computer games as a device to move things along. I am here, now, in Red City and I’m spying. By nature, I am a people watcher. Of course, I’ve been altered — no longer a common house fly, but modified with implants to be a bionic Super-Fly. Changes are afoot in Red City. Presently I am patrolling Fog Cairn, the home of the eminent Alchemist, Jupiter Fogg. My buzz has been modified to an ultra-sonic hum only dogs can hear so as to hide my presence from the people I’m spying on. I’m shielded to be virtually invisible, a neat trick used in the computer game, Master’s Revenge, where I disrupted an ill advised rebellion.
A new apprentice has been accepted by Jupiter Fogg. Her name is Ann Anon and she tastes like sweet taffy (I always manage to taste the people I watch to gather subliminal information). I learned a lot by tasting Ann. She is intelligent and deceptive. As soon as she arrived she bonded with Daniel Ot because Daniel has the most information regarding Fogg’s recent activities and experiments. She also snuggled up to the big man himself, Jupiter Fogg, trying to gain his trust. Fogg was slightly distracted; nevertheless, he decided to test Miss Anon to discover how useful she could be. The test progressed like this: Ann and Fogg were together in the lab working on a newly arrived subject who had been kidnapped for experimental purposes. Fogg appraised his new apprentice’s reactions when he exposed the living body strapped to a gurney. He explained his plan to test the resiliency of an individual after being exposed to bodily harm.
Fogg explained to his apprentice, “It’s the eyes, my dear — windows to the soul.”
“Will I be forced to pull out his eyeballs,” Ann stated with as much reserve as she could muster.
Jupiter was satisfied with her response. “Not necessary my dear. I’m really not so crude or cruel. I was just testing your resolve and you passed.” When Fogg was not experimenting on his apprentices or using them for carnal amusements, he loved to test them. He believed tests were the only means of evaluating an individual’s worth. Fogg’s idea of a scientific utopia was based on values that could be derived from testing newly formed embryos to determine if they were worthy enough to be born. He designed the tests himself and concluded they were full proof. If his plan had been enacted (he was convinced) Red City would never have faced the current impending cataclysm. As a fly on the wall, I am convinced that Fogg is certainly delusional.
Orlow Fabricatum, my name, comes from a Latin pejorative meaning: artificial snoop. I do that… snoop. I watched Ann Anon and Daniel Ot dance around one another like timid shadow puppets, afraid and shy with all the encumbrances of confused adolescents caught in a harrowing situation, torn between forces too huge to comprehend. Hormones added to the drama in the same way that earthquakes and volcanoes tore at a crumbling Red City. The couple knew they were at the center of the spectacle, aware they had to derail Jupiter Fogg’s experiments. If Fogg succeeded in enabling the Philosopher’s Stone, Red City would be destroyed (just one side effect among many including sacrificial lambs, vomiting, death to apprentices, and premature signs of aging). Daniel was aware he was Fogg’s chosen sacrifice. A growing tenderness and empathy grew between Daniel and Ann.
“At home before any of this started, I was better off,” Ann spoke softly to Daniel. “I never realized any of this could happen. Back then, I thought they didn’t care. They sat me down in front of a Screen and left me.”
“Sorry,” Daniel whispered. They were afraid of being overheard by Fogg’s spies. “I was raised in a video game — the only life I knew. It’s different now.”
“Everything is insane, now. I’m scared.”
“Hey,” Daniel was aroused, “at least we’re together. I never would have met you… and you are beautiful.” His statement hung in the air like crystal. They touched each other softly in the dark shadows of an abandoned passageway. A red moon seemed to bleed through a window cut in the stone wall.
Ann had a secret — she was playing a dangerous game, perhaps she was forced into it or it was a game of her own design. Anonymous Ann was really Aaron Keepx, a spy sent by Rufus Thyme. Rufus was afraid Jupiter would suspect Aaron so he disguised the boy. They say, “love heals all things,” but love can be brutal when it gets confused with lust (and nothing is as it seems).
(to be continued)