Author Topic: Joy - Sci-fi  (Read 336 times)

Offline bevett

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Joy - Sci-fi
« on: April 10, 2019, 07:59:56 AM »
PROLOGUE – VIRGO

JOY.

JOY.

JOY.

JOY.

JOY.

OBLIVION.

Chapter One
TENDER – THE STORM

Tender reboots and exits his bay. Even down here, he can hear the howling of the wind, rising all day as the storm approaches. Not good. So much to do today. He puts on his white coat, replaces his handskin with a fresh antimicrobial layer, and enters the Balneum. His guests lie before him in their baths, five to a side.

He raises the first lid on the left. “Virgo,” he says, “are you ready, my girl? It’s your big day.” She doesn’t answer. Can’t answer. Her eyes closed, her face rising just above the pale pink jelly of her bath medium, her brows knit in that peculiar way she has. When Tender first saw it, the expression concerned him. He searched for some imbalance, something wrong, but at last concluded that it was just a quirk of her personality. The unique way she expressed her Joy.

Mainframe informs Tender that the procedure will commence in six thousand seconds. “I must tend to the others,” he tells the motionless girl. “Then, it’s all about you.”
He chooses the Beethoven Sonata Number 8 in C Minor, the “Pathétique”, and plays it in his internal system. It can’t be said that the rolling run of the first movement energizes him, or that he enjoys the gentle reverie of the second movement. He does not feel these things. But he recognizes the complexity of their construction, and finds the sophisticated manipulation of tone and rhythm instructive, a layered lesson in human expression. The stately opening chords sound within him, and he attends to his guests.

Tender begins, as always, on the male side, with little Puer, pausing for a moment to consider the Latin appellations used throughout the complex: Puer meaning ‘boy’, Virgo ‘maiden’, and so on. All the names at the Elysium Spa are Roman, classical terms chosen by the Founders to express all that is most excellent and noble. The finest. The happiest. He nods his approval.

Raising the bath lid, he places his right hand on Puer’s forehead and performs a scan. “8.65 out of 10. Very good. But we can do better, can’t we?” He inputs a new algorithm to balance the parameters: Serotonin, Oxytocin, Adrenaline, Dopamine, Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, Endocannabinoids, Endorphins. Switching to his left hand he performs the EEG. Detecting a slight instability in the waveform, he amplifies the sonic pulse generator to bolster the alpha pattern.

The boy moans softly as the new mixture floods his brain. His lips part in a wide smile, revealing the gap in front, and the saw-like ridge of adult teeth poking through the gums. Tender imitates the smile. Then he reaches in and gently wiggles another tooth. “Yes, little one, that one will be coming out soon.”

He moves down the line. The males don’t require much from him right now, each half-way through the current cycle. The solid midpoint, where the balance is easy to maintain. Not for long. In a few years, Puer will begin his growth spurt, and Vir will require testosterone regulation to maintain robustness. But for now, they all coast smoothly along. 

The females are all entering a new life stage, so there is more to do over here. Tender gets to work. Mulier, for example, has just entered menopause, and her levels of estrogen and progesterone swing wildly, often unpredictably. For the others, the physical symptoms of the menstrual cycle can be almost totally suppressed, but the subtle changes in hormone levels throughout the month necessitate vigilance, anticipation and improvisation.

Especially for Virgo. At fifteen, she is a perfect storm of physiochemical intensity. She began puberty at eleven, so he has had time to learn the peculiarities of her system, but the hormones continue to rage.

Still, Tender knows her intimately. Knows them all. He calibrates every parameter to the nanogram to maintain them in Joy unceasing. The music rises to a triumphant crescendo as he works, sounding its final, joyous chords as he makes the last adjustments.

There are still 267 seconds left in the countdown when Tender completes his morning circuit, and all ten of his guests thrum with pure, timeless ecstasy. He comes across a reference in his data files to a pat on the back, so he gives himself one.

“I’ll get everything ready upstairs,” he tells Virgo, and heads for the elevator. On the way, he passes the Tender from Guest Group 5 pushing an empty gurney in the opposite direction. He recognizes the face, because it is his own.

Even from a short distance you would mistake Tender for a human at the midpoint of the ‘Vir’ cycle, aged fifty-two or fifty-three years. He has not been depilated like the guests, of course — his hair is short and straight, dark with silver at the temples. The eyebrows dark, too. The nose straight. The lips full. The eyes grey with flecks of orange and brown. The skin whelite pale. The overall impression kind and serious, strong but gentle.

Get closer, however, and the illusion of humanity quickly falls away. The skin is too smooth, less elastic than human skin; the servomotors less expressive than the muscles under a human face. And the eyes, up close — they are not human eyes. And he does not breathe.

“Good afternoon,” says Tender to his twin.

“Good afternoon,” says Number 5. “A hurricane. What next, eh?”

“What indeed. You’ve just officiated an Apotheosis?”

“Yes. My Senex rose to glory.”

“I rejoice in his Joy.”

“Thank you.”

And they pass on.

The roar of the storm rises as he exits the elevator into the wide lobby. The weather satellite has been offline for three years, but mainframe still tracks wind speed and barometric pressure and estimates at least a Category Six hurricane making landfall in the vicinity. Violent weather events have become commonplace, especially in the spring, but Tender cannot recall anything of this intensity hitting the coast so far north.

He heads down a long glass-covered hallway that branches off the main Spa building. The green lawn glimmers dully in the gray light. The towers of old Boston hunker to the east, nothing but dim shadows. Rain slams against the glass, traveling almost horizontally. He turns again and enters the Gynaeceum, the ‘women’s chamber’, a low, flat building, sturdily constructed of concrete and steel.

The Incubator sits on a long table against the wall. “Good morning,” it says as he enters.

“Good morning. How are you today?”

“All systems are functioning,” says the Incubator. “I expect you will be pleased with the results.”

“Let’s have a look. We must hurry.” He opens the Incubator and removes a small glass dish containing eggs harvested from Virgo, fertilized with sperm from Adulescens. The sperm were processed to remove all Y-bearing zygotes, so the dish contains only female embryos. They have been growing for seventy-two hours.

Tender places the dish under the scanner, plugs himself into the machine and studies the specimens. He identifies six high grade blastomeres, each a symmetrical ball of cells, perfect, showing no signs of fragmentation. “You must have been a beautiful baby…” he sings to himself. He segregates them from the others, zooms in on them, and culls the candidates down to one. This he transfers to the implantation device.

The sound of breaking glass echoes from the hall. He picks up his pace, collects a gurney and returns to the lower level, passing two Custodians working in the corridor, their white plastic bodies shining dully in the dim light. Water pours through a leak in the ceiling, and the robots are suctioning up a growing pool on the floor. One of the Custodians elongates his torso so he can reach the aging tiles above and begins removing them one by one.

“That’s a new one,” says Tender. The robots ignore him.

Tender enters the bath chamber and puts Virgo into sleep. Working quickly, but not rushing, he confirms that her vital signs are stable, detaches her from the bath, lifts her in his arms, and places her on the gurney. He covers her in a clean white sheet and wheels her down the hall, past the impassive Custodians, to the elevator.

As the door opens to the upper level, the sound of the wind leaps at him. It whines and roars, punctuated by bangs and clanks as pieces of debris fly into the sides of the building. Through the glass, he watches an old Stop sign go bouncing across the circular driveway of the Spa. It disappears from view, but he hears it slam into the front doors of the complex, locked now for decades.

As Tender enters the Gynaeceum, the lights flicker. Not a good sign. He considers cancelling the procedure and returning to his guests below. But the timetable is a strict one, and he puts the idea aside. He will get back to them soon. He plays the Presto from the “Summer” section of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, as if its driving intensity could push him to work faster. He does not want to lose power in the middle of the operation. Above all things, he must ensure that the cycle continues.



Offline rivergirl

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Re: Joy - Sci-fi
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2019, 02:02:19 PM »
JOY.

JOY.

JOY.

JOY.

JOY.

OBLIVION.

Chapter One
TENDER – THE STORM

Tender reboots and exits his bay. Even down here, he can hear the howling of the wind, rising all day as the storm approaches. Not good. So much to do today. He puts on his white coat, replaces his handskin with a fresh antimicrobial layer,no comma necessary and enters the Balneum. His guests lie before him in their baths, five to a side.

He raises the first lid on the left. “Virgo,” he says, “are you ready, my girl? It’s your big day.”

New para. here. She doesn’t answer. Can’t answer. Her eyes closed, her face rising just above the pale pink jelly of her bath medium, her brows knit in that peculiar way she hasa peculiar way. When Tender first saw it, the expression concerned him. He searched for some imbalance, something wrong,no comma necessary but at last concluded that it was just a quirk of her personality. The unique way she expressed her Joy.

Mainframe informs Tender that the procedure will commence in six thousand seconds. “I must tend to the others,” he tells the motionless girl. “Then, it’s all about you.”
He chooses the Beethoven Sonata Number 8 in C Minor, the “Pathétique”, and plays it in his internal system. It can’t be said that the rolling run of the first movement energizes him, or that he enjoys the gentle reverie of the second movement. He does not feel these things. But he recognizes the complexity of their construction, and finds the sophisticated manipulation of tone and rhythm instructive, a layered lesson in human expression. The stately opening chords sound within him, and he attends to his guests.

Tender begins, as always, on the male side, with little Puer, pausing for a moment to consider the Latin appellations used throughout the complex: Puer meaning ‘boy’, Virgo ‘maiden’, and so on. All the names at the Elysium Spa are Roman, classical terms chosen by the Founders to express all that is most excellent and noble. The finest. The happiest. He nods his approval. I'm a little lost in this para. I'm not sure what he's talking about. After a couple of re-reads, i'm thinking all males are referred to as Puer and all girls are Virgo??? don't be afraid to spell things out to your reader. (Tender begins, as always, on the male side of the tanks. It was the tradition of the spa, the males, also known as Puers were blah blah blah first...)

Raising the bath lid, he places his right hand on Puer’s forehead and performs a scan. “8.65 out of 10. Very good. But we can do better, can’t we?” He inputs a new algorithm to balance the parameters: Serotonin, Oxytocin, Adrenaline, Dopamine, Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid, Endocannabinoids, Endorphins. Switching to his left hand he performs the EEG. Detecting a slight instability in the waveform, he amplifies the sonic pulse generator to bolster the alpha pattern.

The boy moans softly as the new mixture floods his brain. His lips part in a wide smile, revealing the gap in front, and the saw-like ridge of adult teeth poking through the gums. Tender imitates the smile. Then he reaches in and gently wiggles another tooth. “Yes, little one, that one will be coming out soon.”

He moves down the line. The males don’t require much from him right now, each half-way through the current cycle. The solid midpoint, where the balance is easy to maintain. Not for long. In a few years, Puer will begin his growth spurt, and Vir will require testosterone regulation to maintain robustness. But for now, they all coast smoothly along. 

The females are all entering a new life stage, so there is more to do over here. Tender gets to work. Mulier, for example, has just entered menopause, and her levels of estrogen and progesterone swing wildly, often unpredictably. For the others, the physical symptoms of the menstrual cycle can be almost totally suppressed, but the subtle changes in hormone levels throughout the month necessitate vigilance, anticipation comma and improvisation.

Especially for Virgo. At fifteen, she is a perfect storm of physiochemical intensity. She began puberty at eleven, so he has had time to learn the peculiarities of her system, but the hormones continue to rage.

Still, Tender knows her intimately. Knows them all. He calibrates every parameter to the nanogram to maintain them in Joy unceasing. The music rises to a triumphant crescendo as he works, sounding its final, joyous chords as he makes the last adjustments.

There are still 267 seconds left in the countdown when Tender completes his morning circuit, and all ten of his guests thrum with pure, timeless ecstasy. He comes across a reference in his data files to a pat on the back, so he gives himself one. not understanding these last two sentences. You've created your whole world here, so some things will need to be spelled out

“I’ll get everything ready upstairs,” he tells Virgo, and heads for the elevator. On the way, he passes the Tender from Guest Group 5 pushing an empty gurney in the opposite direction. He recognizes the face, because it is his own.

Even from a short distance you would mistake Tender for a human at the midpoint of the ‘Vir’ cycle, aged fifty-two or fifty-three years. He has not been depilated like the guests, of course — his hair is short and straight, dark with silver at the temples. The eyebrows dark, too. The nose straight. The lips full. The eyes grey with flecks of orange and brown. The skin whelite pale. The overall impression kind and serious, strong but gentle. Great descriptions here. I don't know what the Vir cycle is, so don't hesitate to add a sentence to explain before continuing.

Get closer, however, and the illusion of humanity quickly falls away. The skin is too smooth, less elastic than human skin; the servomotors less expressive than the muscles under a human face.(this can't be a semicolon without the use of a verb) And the eyes, up close — they are not human eyes. And he does not breathe.

“Good afternoon,” says Tender to his twin.

“Good afternoon,” says Number 5. “A hurricane. What next, eh?”

“What indeed. You’ve just officiated an Apotheosis?”

“Yes. My Senex rose to glory.”

“I rejoice in his Joy.”

“Thank you.”

And they pass on.

The roar of the storm rises as he exits the elevator into the wide lobby. The weather satellite has been offline for three years, but mainframe still tracks wind speed and barometric pressure and estimates at least a Category Six (I thought they only went up to five. This is your world, so could be different here, just be advised this might give your reader pause)hurricane making landfall in the vicinity. Violent weather events have become commonplace, especially in the spring, but Tender cannot recall anything of this intensity hitting the coast so far north.

He heads down a long glass-covered hallway that branches off the main Spa building. The green lawn glimmers dully in the gray light. The towers of old Boston hunker to the east, nothing but dim shadows. Rain slams against the glass, traveling almost horizontally. He turns again and enters the Gynaeceum, the ‘women’s chamber’, a low, flat building, sturdily constructed of concrete and steel. (excellent job of spelling things out)

The Incubator sits on a long table against the wall. “Good morning,” it says as he enters.

“Good morning. How are you today?”

“All systems are functioning,” says the Incubator. “I expect you will be pleased with the results.”

“Let’s have a look. We must hurry.” He opens the Incubator and removes a small glass dish containing eggs harvested from Virgo, fertilized with sperm from Adulescens. The sperm were processed to remove all Y-bearing zygotes, so the dish contains only female embryos. They have been growing for seventy-two hours.

Tender places the dish under the scanner, plugs himself into the machine and studies the specimens. He identifies six high grade blastomeres, each a symmetrical ball of cells, perfect, showing no signs of fragmentation. “You must have been a beautiful baby…” he sings to himself. He segregates them from the others, zooms in on them, and culls the candidates down to one. This he transfers to the implantation device.

The sound of breaking glass echoes from the hall. He picks up his pace, (i'm surprised he's walking since a moment ago he was transplanting an embryo. need a transition sentence here) collects a gurney and returns to the lower level, passing two Custodians working in the corridor, their white plastic bodies shining dully in the dim light. Water pours through a leak in the ceiling, and the robots are suctioning up a growing pool on the floor. One of the Custodians elongates his torso so he can reach the aging tiles above and begins removing them one by one.

“That’s a new one,” says Tender.

New para. The robots ignore him.

Tender enters the bath chamber and puts Virgo into sleep. Working quickly,no comma but not rushing, he confirms that her vital signs are stable, detaches her from the bath, lifts her in his arms, and places her on the gurney. He covers her in a clean white sheet and wheels her down the hall, past the impassive Custodians, to the elevator.

As the door opens to the upper level, the sound of the wind leaps at him. It whines and roars, punctuated by bangs and clanks as pieces of debris fly into the sides of the building. Through the glass, he watches an old stop sign go bouncing across the circular driveway of the Spa. It disappears from view, but he hears it slam into the front doors of the complex, locked now for decades.

As Tender enters the Gynaeceum, the lights flicker. Not a good sign. He considers cancelling the procedure and returning to his guests below. But the timetable is a strict one, and he puts the idea aside. He will get back to them soon. He plays the Presto from the “Summer” section of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, as if its driving intensity could push him to work faster. He does not want to lose power in the middle of the operation. Above all things, he must ensure that the cycle continues.

This is pretty clean. Most of my comments are nitpicks. My biggest critique is adding more explanation at the areas I commented. story sounds wonderfully creepy.

Offline bevett

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Re: Joy - Sci-fi
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2019, 07:50:00 AM »
Thank you for the comments. I really appreciate it!  :)

Offline vivaviolet

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Re: Joy - Sci-fi
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2019, 04:44:52 PM »
Fantastic!

I labored through the classical music references, but that's just me.

This tossed me out of the story a bit: Even from a short distance you would mistake Tender for a human. Didn't like the "you" there. "One" seems more consistent with the voice of the story.

Wonderful writing!