Over the next few days I’ll be posting key excerpts leading up to Miira’s entry into Innerscape. I’m rushing things a bit because I’d like to reach the scenes in Paris before nano ends. Enjoy!
* * *
For the interview with Stanley Fitzgerald, Miira was forced to go to him as all the holo equipment was in his lab, as was her new avatar. She didn’t mind though. After three days stuck in her room she was ready for a change of scenery.
“That’s the graphics lab, up ahead,” Emily said as she walked beside Miira’s wheelchair.
‘I know,” Miira thought as she glanced up from the schematics of the facility displayed on the arm of her chair. Not that she needed the map either; her chair was slaved to the AI and could take her anywhere she chose to go, but ‘they’, whoever they were, must have decided it would not be a good idea to let her pass through the Catacombs on her own, so they had sent Emily to distract her.
In the beginning, Emily’s company and cheerful chatter had been quite welcome, but now Miira could not help wishing the kindly nurse would just leave her alone.
“I really can take it from here,” she said with bright smile. “I promise I’ll let the AI know when I’m ready to go back to my room.”
“Well, if you’re sure…”
“Absolutely sure. Honest.”
“Okay. I’ll see you later then.”
As soon as Emily began to walk back the way she had come, Miira touched the control pad on her chair and scooted forwards. Quite apart from not needing to be cosseted like a child, she really did not want Emily peering over her shoulder as she took her first look at the avatar that would be her new body in a few short days. In fact she would have preferred not having anyone there at all. She had had her holo taken countless times, but this avatar would be different, more like a clone of herself than a simple holo. If the staff were right, her avatar would feel just like a real body.
“Once I’m disconnected from the old one,” Miira thought with a slight shiver.
She was still about ten feet from the door to the graphics lab when it suddenly opened with a soft hum and an odd little person bounced out to greet her.
“Hi Miira! I’m Stanley Fitzgerald, but please call me Stan.”
“Oh!” Miira said in surprise as she brought the chair to an abrupt halt. The little man in front of her was not a midget, or a dwarf, but he was tiny. Perfect in every way, but tiny, as if someone had taken a normal sized man and reduced him by a third. However it was his face that was the most disconcerting. From the neck up, Stanley-please-call-me-Stan looked like a cherub, or a pre-pubescent boy with a brush cut. Only his fleshy lips looked out of place somehow.
“Hi… Stan,” Miira murmured as the cherub pumped her hand up and down. When he finally released her and ushered her into his sanctum, she put her hand in the pocket of her dressing gown and surreptitiously wiped her palm. The cherub had very damp hands.
“I’ve been wanting to meet you for ages,” Stanley said as he fussed over Miira. “I’m sorry it’s so cold in here but I can’t stand the heat. Are you warm enough? Would you like a rug? How about a cup of tea?”
“I’m fine, thank you,” Miira said, raising her voice over the stream of solicitous questions. “Really, I just want to see my avatar.”
“She’s not really your avatar yet,” Stanley said in an oddly possessive voice. “Until we composite the final data she’s just a holographic model…”
A sudden chill made Miira shiver slightly.
“See! I knew you were cold!”
Without waiting for a response, the cherub pounced on a fluffy, white blanket draped over the back of a chair and tucked it in around Miira’s shoulders. In moments she was too hot.
What was wrong with this strange man?
“So… Stan,” she said, as she extricated her arms. “Can I have a look at… the avatar?”
“Of course, of course,” the cherub said as his fingers flew over the console on his desk. Coloured domes lit up one after the other in a dizzying sequence of flashing lights as he worked. Somewhere in the distance a machine of some sort began to hum.
“Here we go,” Stan said as the space between them began to fill with a blizzard of microscopic points of light.
As Miira watched, the lights slowly coalesced into a full-sized human figure turning slowly in space.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” the cherub cooed as he feasted his eyes on the model’s slender curves and small, gravity defying breasts.
Miira was not a prude, but the sight of her naked, twenty-nine year old body being ogled by this damp fingered little creep was akin to being ravaged.
“The hair’s too long,” she gasped as she threw the blanket to the floor and aimed the chair at the door. The door’s sensors picked up her trajectory just in time and she went shooting out into the corridor.
“Wait! You haven’t seen her face yet!”
“My face!” Miira yelled as she hurtled down the long corridor on full manual. My face…