Year 17

Chapter 9
Music of the Spheres

by E.Escher - 2nd Jan 2017
Carmen couldn't sleep. The problem was three-fold: she hated strange beds, it should have been lunchtime, and lastly Revs didn't need much sleep. Technically, she didn't need to sleep at all. She usually streamed music to her cochlear implant and chilled out.

Hmm, there was an idea. The hotel provided free access to the global computer network, and her own computer was specially equipped to interface with relic technologies. She instructed it to find her some music, and waited to see what it came up with.

She remembered belatedly that the entertainment channels of the time were broadcast through simple radio waves rather than the network, but apparently she was mistaken: the computer had identified hundreds of music streams being streamed over the network. Intrigued, she selected one at random and settled back to listen.

It seemed things had changed a lot over the last three hundred years, and while some of the tunes had a basic melodic purity she liked, they seemed slow and simple, something a child might listen to. Old fashioned folk music enjoyed a small resurgence every few years, but she'd never really been a fan.

The tune ended, a frustrating fade into silence rather than an actual ending, and a human host began to talk over the music. He thanked the listeners (you're stars, all fourteen of you), and invited them to place a request if there was anything they'd particularly like to hear.

A live DJ, online in the middle of the night, playing whatever she wanted? Carmen beamed, she wasn't going to pass that up.

She grabbed her computer and connected to the broadcaster's online presence, a flat two-dimensional page of text. Sure enough, there was a data entry section where she could make her requests.

She asked the computer for a list of unpopular tunes, things she wouldn't be likely to hear otherwise. Grinning, she then fed the most interesting six titles into the request box and sent her message.

Less than a minute later, as another tune was ending, the DJ erupted with excitement that somebody had placed requests. Carmen lay back and listened to the old-timey tunes, letting their simplistic patterns lull her into a light sleep.

After a few tunes the computer detected that she was resting, and muted the audio feed. It would wake her again in a few hours.

When morning finally came Carmen hopped in the shower, partly for the pleasure of it and partly to fit in. Revs didn't sweat, but she didn't want the cleaning staff gossiping about the tall Chinese girl who never used the shower. She was sure they'd know, somehow.

Standing beneath the jets, she felt a twinge in her left foot, and groaned quietly. 'Damn thing.'

She crouched, feeling her way down to the silver band around her ankle. It was fairly common for revs to suffer some degradation while under the influence of the Sobek virus, which is to say some of the cops weren't too gentle restraining homicidal zombies so they could be cured. That's why there were only a few thousand revenants in the world instead of several hundred million, and why a large proportion of those in, say, China, had replacement parts. Carmen considered herself lucky; two fingers and a foot was nothing, really. The Chinese authorities were quite ruthless with living criminals, it was almost unheard of for them to bring in a zombie alive, so to speak.

She massaged the back of her calf, finding the triggers that would disengage the attachment. She felt the mechanism release, and felt a hiss of imagined cold as her foot went suddenly numb. It came off and dropped free, tipping over in the water.

She tossed it out of the shower, then used the wall for balance as she straightened. Her prosthetics had been fitted before she'd completed the Revival process, so she'd never had to learn to walk with a missing foot, but she knew the metal cap on the end of her leg was no good for traction on slick surfaces, and hopping on wet bathroom floors was a good way to crack your head open.

Damn it, she should have waited. Oh well. She clung onto the framework and exited the shower unit as safely as she could, picking up the foot as she went into the main sleeping area. She could use her computer to re-tune the thing, synchronising it to the feed from her medical interface, but it was a chore and she didn't do it often enough, leading to twitchy behaviour that she couldn't afford during a mission. Aside from that, she only took it off for pranks, and the opportunities were few and far between these days. It wasn't like she had a lot of friends, since her revival.

She tossed the foot onto the bed, next to her bag. Away from her connection port it would automatically link to the bag's computer and request an update. While it worked, she wrapped herself in a towel and did her best to dry off without falling over. For all her post-human strength and endurance, her sense of balance was depressingly normal. After a while she gave up and sat down, reaching for the complementary hair dryer. It was a hand-held thing that required power from a wall outlet. It took ages.

The local time was 6:30am, but she was wide awake after only a few hours of sleep. Jet lag had nothing on time travel, and forcing herself to sleep after a six-hour day had really messed up her routine. The UK was eight hours behind China, but she was also about three hundred years late for dinner.

She slid the wardrobe open and decided what to wear, then nearly collapsed when she got up without reattaching her foot. Grumbling, she grabbed the thing, checked the calibration was complete, and held it flush against her ankle cap. It squirmed in her grasp as the attachment mechanism reconnected, adjusting itself to mount correctly. It would only connect if she held it in roughly the correct position - there was no way to put it on backwards, and no way to make it connect any faster.

The two fingers, by comparison, worked flawlessly and had never given her any problems, but then, they didn't experience as much wear and tear as a foot (a right-handed person doesn't use the left pinky for much, but feet are most often used as a pair). She'd never needed to take them off (except for, obviously, pranks), but the reconnect process was a lot slower, due to the increased nerve density they simulated. They felt a little numb compared to her 'real' fingers, but she was used to that. She'd had four years to adapt, according to the director.

Where did the years go? What was the point of being immortal if you kept forgetting things?

She dressed herself in period-appropriate attire - pale jeans and a tight black sweater - then went down to the dining room to see if they were serving breakfast yet.

They were, although 'serving' wasn't the right word. Somebody had set the tables in advance, and left out some boxed items for her to serve herself. She resolved to keep a log, for future historians.

Dry. Stale. Plain. Boring. All of it. The artwork on the boxes recommended milk, as a serving suggestion, but the staff hadn't put any out yet. 'This won't do at all. Even the walking dead need better than this stuff.'

She walked to the front desk to ask about the rest of the refreshments, and found a surprisingly chirpy young man at the post.

'Good morning, Miss,' he crowed. 'Can I help you?'

'Uh, yeah, I think. The food boxes, for breakfast? They're kinda dry. I'm looking for milk.'

He smiled, or maybe it was a smirk, she couldn't be sure. 'Right away, Miss. Breakfast is usually served from 7am onwards, so the catering staff should be putting the rest of the stuff out sometime in the next ten minutes.'

'Right. Thanks.' She marched back to the dining room, grumbling to herself. That was no fun.

Happily, jugs of milk were soon provided, along with small plastic pots of yoghurt, and little slabs of fruit conserve in transparent bubbles. She tried them all, and found most of the combinations quite enjoyable. She got a few puzzled glances, by which she learned that some combinations were uncommon, and thus frowned upon. Honestly, she thought the fruit jellies went quite well in the yoghurt, and the yoghurt mixed quite nicely with the various cereals, so it made perfect sense to try all three together.

The locals were starting to get on her nerves, so she stood up and walked away, leaving a small mountain of bowls and boxes for the staff.

Sometimes she wondered if her taste buds were still working, or if she just imagined that things tasted the way she remembered them.
The curious tale of Colin Campbell
Part One - How did it come to this?, Chapter 1, Earlier that day
Chapter 2, Earlier still
Chapter 3, Making a withdrawal
Chapter 4, August 18th, 2362
Chapter 5, Angel of Death
Chapter 6, Welcome to 2016.
Chapter 7, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 8, After the crash
Chapter 9, Music of the Spheres
Chapter 10, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 11, Harbinger FM
Chapter 12, Denmark, July 2358
Chapter 13, Excuses and lies
Part Two - So here we are, Chapter 14
Chapter 15, Quite a ride
Chapter 16, Talking the talk
Chapter 17, Leisurely pursuit
Chapter 18, Dinner Date with Destiny
Chapter 19, Chips with everything
Chapter 20, Harbinger
Chapter 21, Time to leave
Chapter 22, Manchester
Chapter 23, Colin's House
Chapter 24, On the road
Chapter 25, Chateau Harbinger
Chapter 26, Showdown
Epilogue, Debriefing
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