The Unwelcome Thrust of Progress (Part 1)

In Three Parts

Part One: The Corner Office

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Alta Vista did not, as is commonly thought, simply fold or become absorbed into a larger tech company. It morphed, with offices in New York, into an independent research company, mostly for hire by firms looking for a competitive edge against a rival firm. Alta Vista became AltVista. First Vice-President for Account Analysis Robert Hughes turned the knob on his office door at 8:55 am, as he did every morning, whether the train was early or late, entering, throwing his laptop case on the couch, pressing the brew button on his Keurig machine, and staring out his window down into the city, where he could just see the corner of Madison Square Park until his cup of coffee was brewed.

“French Roast,” he said. “So this is what the pavement in France tastes like.”

He took the cup from the machine and sipped, lifting his eyes to gaze out the window, thinking how many people were scurrying to be at work on time, as if it mattered, but they should have made allowance for time, like he did, so that at least appearances were kept up. Look at them, he mused to himself. The wealth of the nations, scurrying to push history forward, one cog at a time, until the cog comes around again, and then…” He couldn’t bear to finish the thought. He began another thought. They’re only me, just five minutes behind. I’m only five minutes ahead, so I’ll see it close down upon me just before they see it close down upon them. He lifted his cup to take another sip. At least I have a nice house…

At that moment, whether by the stimulating power of coffee, or by a change in the light reflecting from inside the window, VP Hughes became aware of another person in his office, someone behind him, sitting on the couch. Startled, he spun. “Oh, hello!” he started, then, “Oh, good lord…” A robot was sitting on his couch. Continue reading “The Unwelcome Thrust of Progress (Part 1)”

The Unwelcome Thrust of Progress (Part 1)

The Primal Flower, Chapter 5 (Part A)

In which our intrepid hero goes in search of supplies and finds, instead, a pub.

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“Lily,” the beer made me say, “is making things happen to me.”

“Lily,” said her uncle, “Lily is a catalyst.”

“A catalyst?”

“A catalyst,” he said. “Your character is responding to her, and you are unfamiliar with the response because it is visceral and you cannot control it; it must feel similar to that day of the battle for your city.”

“Yes,” I said, pondering. “Come to think of it, it does.” I pulled my feet up under my chair. “It is a thrill to look at her—to put my eyes upon her—to imagine her figure—”

“Tut!” he interrupted, laughing. “Speak carefully, O Nathet! You have a habit of speaking too colorfully.”

“Surely,” I said, shaking my head, looking directly at him from under my own brow, “surely we must be able to speak to each other colorfully if we are to be companions upon the highways.”

He laughed, saying, “Indeed, and we must be able to speak colorfully upon the wilderness roads and when we are lost, as well! Do continue.”

“It is a thrill, as I was saying, to imagine her figure; it is not as though she hides her figure, even though the outward effort is there, using the dark clothing as a cloud, but her figure is so clearly evident,” I said, “that the imagination is forced to work in that particular direction.”

He said nothing, but he fingered his cup.

“And she’s such a mystery,” I continued. “A mystery. She has treasured up knowledge in music, especially, but she is able to speak music. Speak music. When she talks, it is the same as a song—not the music, as in the melody—it is the artistry, the wisdom, the poetry—the words, and she walks those words. I see those words in her figure, and it is music when she moves it.”

He continued looking at his cup without a comment.

“When I left my home that day, I had decided to leave for the sake of leaving. Now I desire to leave, even more earnestly, not to leave but to find something.”

“Then to return?” he asked.

“Then to return,” I said.

“For her?” he asked.

“It is a mystery,” I returned. “I don’t know what I will find.”

“You will find her,” he said. “Most certainly.”

The Primal Flower, Chapter 5 (Part A)