Dinner: The light was dim and indirect and he had no sense of direction. There were bushes, but Pilot could see no trees. Around him, he detected shadowy, indistinct figures.
Pilot felt there was something he was supposed to do here that had long been programmed. He wasn’t sure what this was, but he was sure it was Important. At first he was asked to do several different things but none of these things made a great deal of sense.
“You will have to meet Mr. Farley,” said Robert, his large brown eyes rolling dramatically up and around as though to imply Mr. Farley was Everywhere including in the cornice moulding and the plate rail that ran high up on the walls and around the dining room.. Pilot didn’t quite understand, but he nodded nevertheless.
Carefully, he replaced the bandages and with a heavy heart he stood up. Reaching up to the sink he washed El’s tiny hands as Mother had shown him, rubbing the white bar with I-V-O-R-Y stamped on it, until the bubbles appeared.
While El was damaged, there was little that Pilot could do except wait things out. Locomotion was limited to the least possible lumbering movements. Sure, he could ‘walk’ El, he could crawl too, and he was beginning to get how to compensate for the left-right thing but flight was impossible. He’d tried of course, but those circuits, along with much of his memory banks were either blown or fused. Without extracting himself there was no way to make repairs.
Normally his Elevator would have braked smoothly, banking across the atmosphere at terrific speed but in a controlled and predictable manner. Instead, he could feel himself flipping end over end over end as the Elevator spun out of control, feverishly trying to right itself and brake by using its automatic stabilizers and powerful thrusters. He headed directly for a massive ditch below; and crashed into the earth there, pushing up mounds and masses of red earth in the process. The Elevator’s smoking chassis left a charred trail over a dark, grassy embankment, turning the wet wilderness into a steaming, slippery hell fit only for a fire demon. Not being a fire demon however, Pilot was shaken rather badly.
Pilot knew, as surely as his old hard cover calendars were reliable go to items, Brain Paper books may be today’s calendar equivalents in broader application. While the entire suite was familiar to him in some detail—its documentation was, after all, a core piece of his early training—never before had said information been published in any form, for any reason, least all for sales. “Well then, here we are.” he thought.
Shards of sunlight punctuated by sharp shadows, sliding and flashing across the paper as his hand gripped the pen and slid it rhythmically across the graduated lines. Dressed for the weekend’s summer weather in shorts, tank top, hat and glasses, and a green bandana worked around his neck and face as a mask.
The sun, flashing through the trees and the windows of the moving vehicle continued to trace shadows and shapes on his Brain Paper.
There was ambivalence at first, then a rising tide of recognition, coming at first in glimpses, looking ahead, and in moments alone, coming in rising tides and moments of intense curiosity, ambition, accomplishment, satisfaction, correction and practice, practice, practice.