Aloha writers on the Coast,
Coastal mountains, sleek catamaran, and ocean blues inspire today's
watersport coastSciFi flash fiction. Enjoy and play on!
He watches. For a moment Cooper is consumed by the slowness of her arrival. His expectation rises as he views her approach from behind the thick walls of the outpost cliff station. The jungle behind, deep in green, is a romantic, almost bliss inspiring, tangle of colors. He stands at attention as if momentarily mistaking her for a famous war commander from ancient history. She approaches up the trail from the ocean dock to the outpost bunker.
"Hello," she says, as the huge metal door creaks open. Cooper's look glances off her beauty, not expecting this appearance in the raw. She is the official human voice at ComTrax, the flesh and bones of the networks. Her face is smaller than he remembers, and smaller than it should be, given the timbre of her voice, a voice that, somehow, inflects in ways he doesn't recognize. He expects her to speak again.
"Hello, Dr. Cooper," she says louder.
Dr Cooper recognizes what it is that has changed. On the network monitors, she is less authoritarian and more motherly, for lack of a better word. She was the type of person who would be eagerly punctual if there was some information she could use. She knows how to use data streams to her personal advantage. Yet, here in the jungle she looks like the type who could easily unhinge, or even snap, the type that would always make him wonder what she would do next, as if it is he that hasn't changed much, not her. She still wears her brown hair back in a loose pony tail. Sun glasses bring out her features, goddess-like. In her approach, she fakes a cool smile. They both did. Cooper wants to do more than shake her hand, but he resists his feelings. She has the eye contact of a lover, but Cooper knows this is all business.
They stare at each other for a moment.
"Look, let's cut through the wax," she says.
"What's your hurry? It's an island." Cooper all of a sudden could see this person didn't fit his depiction of who she once was. He knows, or can guess, that all agents of ComTrax abide by their own corporopolitics, and exactly, the nonstop agenda to generate profit. By now, he was already reading her mind and looking at her shirt pocket.
"MIT," Cooper says.
"Folks at MIT smoke those."
"Class of 2084."
Sitting across the table, Cooper watches her. "She isn't inhaling. A true scientist," he thinks. The smokelessness evaporates into the breeze.
"There's a lot happening back at Central," she says.
He watches the smokeless continue to drift . Her glass touches her lips, brought there silky smooth by the hands of a surgeon. Cooper could sense why she was a gifted economist. He was beginning to see her again as a beautiful woman. As a cool breeze caresses her hair, he doesn't hear the clinking of ice cubes against her glass. Through her gaze, the waves became hooves pounding on the trail, the outpost fortress a chapel, and the sea a gathering of for angels.
"Are you hungry?" she asks. Her voice seems to come from a deep tunnel as her face comes back into focus. Cooper's sense of camaraderie with Dr. Jenna vanishes the moment she speaks. Her disarming smile and beautiful face, all of a sudden, begins crawling with years of concern and mistrust. Her attractiveness is still there, but Cooper's urge to flirt is gone. He looks at her slender fingers. None of them have a gold band. She seems comfortable in the company of a man, but her playful flirtatiousness resembles manipulation. Cooper thinks to himself, "So this is the woman who brought artificial intelligence out of the dark ages."
Cooper searches into her eyes looking for some emotion. He finds none. His one urge was to check her for a pulse. His heart was beating a little faster now. The thick wood outside captures the morning sunshine. The conversation warmed.
"Do you see those clocks on the wall?" Cooper turns his head."They make no sound and keep perfect time."
"That's the way it should be." Her look becomes more serious. "You work for the Consortioum."
"True, but at this moment they don't know exactly where I am. What about COMTRAX?"
"They don't know I'm here."
"Good. I'm speaking now as a member of the human race. And I want you to hear it as the same."
"Do they know we're together?" she asked.
"I think they'll have that figured out before the night's over. I'm here to work out a deal that doesn't include their kind of authority."
"How can you trust me?"
"Because you're human."
"Suzie's not human, and you trust her."
"Between my position at ComTrax and Suzi's imagination, do you really think you stand a chance to get what you want?"
Cooper summons courage. He thinks it would expedite the conversation. He likes those colors of the ocean. He looked at Jenna with the coolness of a shark hunter. "I have something I need you to do."
She looks at him seriously. "Take a swim?" she said, with the beginnings of a smile.
Cooper's tone wasn't thawing. "I need your help."
Across the table she notices his eyes. They had the color of distance. Something she wasn't sure of. He looks relaxed, but she knows something inside was ripping him.
"Help me keep Suzie alive. Tell me how to do that," Cooper said.
"She sips her water and stares at the rock cliffs beyond the beach.
The silence between them becomes torturous. "There is no one in your field better than you. A biologist with engineering degrees. You were the first to bring psychiatry into the field of engineering. You are the only one who really knows what makes Suzie tick. You know what's inside her mind, how she acts. How could Suzie reprogram herself? How could she think to reprogram so fast?"
Dr. Jenna lookes at Cooper, purposely hiding her amazement. The simplicity of his questions ring in her mind. "You're serious," she said.
"As a heart attack."
"You really want me to take you through Suzie's emotional logic?"
"Isn't that what I asked you?"
Jenna focuses on the distant dance of the sea in the wind over the ocean. "Dr. Cooper, I think we're way past the point of being polite to each other. You may not have noticed, but we both need each other."
She moves her body to get into a more comfortable position, a soft breeze still in her face. She sits for awhile.
"You have to know this," she finally said. "Suzi's life begins with you. You set off her auto-reprogram. She had been one of the finest innovations in biological technician technology, the best we'd seen in years. She was programmed with a specialty in tropical plant genetics. Her evals at COMTRAX are stellar."
"So what happened?"
"Are you asking what was the trigger that started all this?" Jenna looks at Cooper with a blank face. The morning sun has become hotter, but the ocean air remains cool. She sips and looks at Cooper.
"Would you like another virgin?"
"Would you like another virgin?"
"Another Virgin Water."
"I'm okay," Jenna says. "To me," she thinks, still processing the new information into what she had already known, "there had to be more than one thing to trigger her retroprogram. A series of events. The new project you were working on. There have been some exciting data, but there's nothing different about your data on the Tigress Project. Her artificial intelligence is the most advanced known to man."
"And woman," Cooper said with a hidden smile.
"And you're a smart man. But Suzi can't be picking up any new data from you that hasn't already been programmed into her."
The meaning of that thought occurs to both of them at the same moment.