The Second Coming of Jasmine Fitzgerald1
The only thing that's missing is a motive. They were a quiet
Not much, at first glance. Blood pools in a pattern entirely
couple, the neighbours say. He was sick, he'd been sick for months.
consistent with the location of the victim. No conspicuous arterial
They never went out much. There was no history of violence. They
spray; the butchery's all abdominal, more spilled than spurted. No
slogans either. Nobody's scrawled HelterSkelter or Satan is Lord or
Maybe she was sick too. Maybe she was following orders from
even Elvis Lives on any of the walls. It's just another mess in
some tumour in her brain. Or maybe it was a botched alien
another kitchen in another one-bedroom apartment, already
abduction, grey-skinned creatures from Zeta II Reticuli framing an
overcrowded with the piecemeal accumulation of two lives. One
innocent bystander for their own incompetence. Maybe it's a mass
life's all that's left now, a thrashing gory creature screaming her
hallucination, maybe it isn't really happening at all.
mantra over and over as the police wrestle her away—
"I have to save him I have to save him I have to save him—"—more evidence, not that the assembled cops need it, of why
domestic calls absolutely suck.
She hasn't saved him. By now it's obvious that no one can. He
They got to her early. This is one of the advantages of killing
lies in a pool of his own insides, blood and lymph spreading along
someone during office hours. They've taken samples, scraped
the cracks between the linoleum tiles, crossing, criss-crossing, a
residue from clothes and skin on the off chance that anyone might
convenient clotting grid drawing itself across the crime scene.
question whose blood she was wearing. They've searched the
Every now and then a red bubble grows and breaks on his lips.
apartment, questioned neighbours and relatives, established the
Anyone who happens to notice this, pretends not to.
superficial details of identity: Jasmine Fitzgerald, 24-year-old
The weapon? Right here: run-of-the-mill steak knife, slick with
Caucasian brunette, doctoral candidate. In Global General
blood and coagulating fingerprints, lying exactly where she dropped
Relativity, whatever the fuck that is. They've stripped her down,
cleaned her up, bounced her off a judge into Interview Room 1,Forensic Psychiatric Support Services.
1 First published in Divine Realms (1998), S. MacGregor (Ed.). Turnstone Books, Regina. Way before The Matrix came out.
They've put someone in there with her.
"Yeah." She nods, seriously. "It's tough enough to do that shit to
"Hello, Ms. Fitzgerald. I'm Dr. Thomas. My first name's Myles,
yourself, you know, but to risk someone else, someone you really
care about—" She wipes at one eye. "He was dying for over a year,
She stares at him. "Myles it is." She seems calm, but the tracks
did you know that? Each day he'd hurt a little more. You could
of recent tears still show on her face. "I guess you're supposed to
almost see it spreading through him, like some sort of— leaf, going
brown. Or maybe that was the chemo. Never could decide which
"Whether you're fit to stand trial, yes. I should tell you right off
was worse." She shakes her head. "Heh. At least that's over now."
that nothing you say to me is necessarily confidential. Do you
"Is that why you did it? To end his suffering?" Thomas doubts it.
understand?" She nods. Thomas sits down across from her. "What
Mercy killers don't generally disembowel their beneficiaries. Still,
"Napoleon. Mohammed. Jesus Christ." Her lips twitch, the
She answers. "Of course I fucked up, I only ended up making
faintest smile, gone in an instant. "Sorry. Just kidding. Jaz's fine."
things worse." She clasps her hands in front of her. "I miss him
"Are you doing okay in here? Are they treating you all right?"
already. Isn't that crazy? It only happened a few hours ago, and I
She snorts. "They're treating me pretty damn well, considering
know it's no big deal, but I still miss him. That head-heart thing
the kind of monster they think I am." A pause, then, "I'm not, you
"You say you fucked up," Thomas says.
She takes a deep breath, nods. "Big time."
"Crazy. I've— I've just recently undergone a paradigm shift, you
know? The whole world looks different, and my head's there but
"I don't know shit about debugging. I thought I did, but when
sometimes my gut— I mean, it's so hard to feel differently about
you're dealing with organics— all I really did was go in and mess
randomly with the code. You make a mess of everything, unless
"Tell me about this paradigm shift," Thomas suggests. He makes
you know exactly what you're doing. That's what I'm working on
it a point not to take notes. He doesn't even have a notepad. Not
that it matters. The microcassette recorder in his blazer has very
"That's what I call it. There's no real word for it yet."
"Things make sense now," she says. "They never did before. I
Oh yes there is. Aloud: "Go on."
think, for the first time in my life, I'm actually happy." She smiles
Jasmine Fitzgerald sighs, her eyes closed. "I don't expect you to
again, for longer this time. Long enough for Thomas to marvel at
believe this under the circumstances, but I really loved him. No: I
love him." Her breath comes out in a soft snort, a whispered laugh.
"You weren't very happy when you first came here," he says
"There I go again. That bloody past tense."
gently. "They say you were very upset."
"I don't think you're up for it, Myles. I don't even think you're all
There are snares sprinkled throughout these tests, linked questions
that interested." Her eyes open, point directly at him. "But for the
designed to catch liars in subtle traps of self-contradiction. Jasmine
record, Stu was dying. I tried to save him. I failed. Next time I'll
Fitzgerald has avoided them all. Is she unusually honest? Is she too
do better, and better still the time after that, and eventually I'll get it
smart for the tests? There doesn't seem to be anything here that—
"And what happens then?" Thomas says. Who was Louis Pasteur? asks the WAIS, trying to get a handle on
"I repair the glitches in the string. Or if it's easier, I replicate an
Back up the list. Here's another one, on the previous page: Who
undamaged version of the subroutine and insert it back into the main
was Winston Churchill? And again: a virus.
And fifteen questions before that: Who was Florence
"Uh huh. And what would I see?"
She shrugs. "Stu rising from the dead."
A famous nurse, Fitzgerald responded to that one. And her
responses to all previous questions on historical personalities are
unremarkably correct. But everyone after Nightingale is a virus.
Killing a virus is no sin. You can do it with an utterly clear
conscience. Maybe she's redefining the nature of her act. Maybe
Spread out across the table, the mind of Jasmine Fitzgerald winks
that's how she manages to live with herself these days.
back from pages of standardised questions. Somewhere in here,
Just as well. That raising-the-dead shtick didn't cut any ice at all.
These are the tools used to dissect human psyches. The WAIS.
The MMPI. The PDI. Hammers, all of them. Blunt chisels posingas microtomes. A copy of the DSM-IV sits off to one side, a fat
She's slumped across the table when he enters, her head resting on
paperback volume of symptoms and pathologies. A matrix of
folded arms. Thomas clears his throat. "Jasmine."
pigeonholes. Perhaps Fitzgerald fits into one of them. Intermittent
No response. He reaches out, touches her lightly on the shoulder.
Explosive, maybe? Battered Woman? Garden-variety Sociopath?
Her head comes up, a fluid motion containing no hint of grogginess.
The test results are inconclusive. It's as though she's laughing up
She settles back into her chair and smiles. "Welcome back. So, am
from the page at him. True or false: I sometimes hear voices thatno one else hears. False, she's checked. I have been feeling
Thomas smiles back and sits down across from her. "We try to
unusually depressed lately. False. Sometimes I get so angry I feellike hitting something. True, and a hand-written note in the margin:
"Hey, I can take it. I'm not prone to tantrums."
A picture flashes across the front of his mind: beloved husband,
— I mean, Jesus, Myles, they wrote therapy programs back in the
entrails spread-eagled like butterfly wings against a linoleum grid. sixties that had more range than you do! In BASIC even! Register
Of course not. No tantrums for you. We need a whole new word todescribe what it is you do.
"It's just a technique, Jaz. I'm not here to get into a debate with
you, as interesting as that might be. I'm trying to assess your fitness
"I was going over your test results," he begins.
to stand trial. My opinions aren't really at issue."
She sighs, and sags. "I know. I'm sorry, I know you're not here to
"It's not that kind of test. But I was intrigued by some of your
keep me entertained, but I'm used to being able to—
"I mean, Stuart would always be so—
"Oh, God. I miss him so much," she admits, her eyes shining and
That sunny smile again. "Sure. Mutable information strings that
She's a killer, he tells himself. Don't let her suck you in. Just
can't replicate without hijacking external source code."
assess her, that's all you have to do. Don't start liking her, for Christ's sake.
"That's— understandable," Thomas says.
She snorts. "Bullshit. You don't understand at all. You know
"Back in the early eighties some guys got together and wrote a
what he did, the first time he went in for chemo? I was studying for
bunch of self-replicating computer programs. The idea was to put
my comps, and he stole my textbooks."
them into the same block of memory and have them compete for
space. They all had their own little tricks for self-defence and
"Because he knew I wasn't studying at home. I was a complete
reproduction and, of course, eating the competition."
wreck. And when I came to see him at the hospital he pulls these
"Oh, you mean computer viruses," Thomas says.
bloody books out from under his bed and starts quizzing me on
"Actually, before all that." Fitzgerald pauses a moment, cocks her
Dirac and the Beckenstein Bound. He was dying, and all he wanted
head to one side. "You ever wonder what it might be like to be one
to do was help me prepare for some stupid test. I'd do anything for
of those little programs? Running around laying eggs and dropping
logic bombs and interacting with other viruses?"
Well, Thomas doesn't say, You certainly did more than most.
Thomas shrugs. "I never even knew about them until now. Why?
"I can't wait to see him again," she adds, almost as an
"No," she says. "Not any more."
"When do you think?" She looks at him, and the sorrow and
Her expression changes. "You know, talking to you is a bit like
despair he thought he saw in those eyes is suddenly nowhere to be
talking to a program. All you ever say is goon and tell me more and
"Most people, if they said that, would be talking about the
Her face goes completely expressionless. "Does God tell me to do
things, you mean. Did God tell me to carve Stu up like— like—"
She favours him with a sad little smile. "This is the afterlife,
Her breath hisses out between her teeth. "No, Myles. I don't hear
Myles. This is Heaven, and Hell, and Nirvana. Whatever we
voices. Charlie Manson doesn't come to me in my dreams and
whisper sweet nothings. I answered all those questions on your test
"Yes," Thomas says after a moment. "Of course."
already, so give me a fucking break, okay?"
Her disappointment in him hangs there like an accusation.
He holds up his hands, placating. "That's not what I meant,
"You don't believe in God, do you?" she asks at last.
Jasmine." Liar. "I'm sorry if that's how it sounded, it's just— you
know, God, quantum mechanics— it's a lot to swallow at once, you
"Didn't used to. Turns out there's clues, though. Proof, even."
She watches him through guarded eyes. "Yeah. I guess it can be.
"The mass of the top quark. The width of the Higgs boson. You
I forget, sometimes." She relaxes a fraction. "But it's all true. The
can't read them any other way when you know what you're looking
math is inevitable. You can change the nature of reality, just by
for. Know anything about quantum physics, Myles?"
looking at it. You're right. It's mind-blowing."
He shakes his head. "Not really."
"But only at the subatomic level, right? You're not really saying
"Nothing really exists, not down at the subatomic level. It's all
we could make this table disappear just by ignoring it, are you?"
just probability waves. Until someone looks at it, that is. Then the
Her eye flickers to a spot just to the right and behind him, about
wave collapses and you get what we call reality. But it can't happen
without an observer to get things started."
"Well, no," she says at last. "Not without a lot of practise."
Thomas squints, trying to squeeze some sort of insight into his
brain. "So if we weren't here looking at this table, it wouldn't
Fitzgerald nods. "More or less." That smile peeks around the
Besides the obvious, of course. Besides the vertical incision
He tries to lure it back. "So God's the observer, is that what you're
running from sternum to approximately two centimetres below the
saying? God watches all the atoms so the universe can exist?"
navel, penetrating the abdominal musculature and extending through
"Huh. I never thought about it that way before." The smile
into the visceral coelom. Beyond the serrations along its edge which
morphs into a frown of concentration. "More metaphoric than
suggest the use of some sort of blade. Not, evidently, a very sharp
"Was God watching you yesterday?"
No. We're getting ahead of ourselves here. The coroner's art is
nothing if not systematic. Very well, then: Caucasian male, mid-
"Does He— does It communicate with you?"
twenties. External morphometrics previously noted. Hair loss and
bruising consistent with chemotherapeutic toxicity. Right index andring fingernails missing, same notation. The deceased was one sick
His desk is absolutely spartan. Not a shred of paper out of place.
puppy at time of demise. Sickened by the disease, poisoned by the
Not a shred of paper even in evidence, actually. The surface is as
cure. And just when you thought things couldn't get any worse.
featureless as a Kubrick monolith, except for the Sun workstation
Down and in. The wound swallows the coroner's rubberised
positioned dead centre and a rack of CDs angled off to the left.
hands like some huge torn vagina, its labia clotted and crystallised.
"I thought she looked familiar," he says. "When I saw the papers.
The usual viscera glisten inside, repackaged by medics at the site
Didn't know quite where to place her, though."
who had to reel in all loose ends for transport. Perhaps evidence
Jasmine Fitzgerald's graduate supervisor.
was lost in the process. Perhaps the killer had arranged the entrails
"I guess you've got a lot of students," Thomas suggests.
in some significant pattern, perhaps the arrangement of the GI tract
"Yes." He leans forward, begins tapping at the workstation
spelled out some clue or unholy name. No matter. They took
keyboard. "I've yet to meet all of them, actually. One or two in
Europe I correspond with exclusively over the net. I hope to meet
Mesentary stretches like thin latex, binding loops of intestine one
them this summer in Berne— ah, yes. Here she is; doesn't look
to the other. A bit too tightly, in fact. There appear to be— fistulas
of some sort, scattered along the lower ileum. Loops seem fused
"She doesn't live in Europe, Dr. Russell."
together at several spots. What could have caused that?
"No, right here. Did her field work at CERN, though. Damn hard
getting anything done here since the supercollider fell through. Ah."
Note it, record it, take a sample for detailed histological analysis.
Move on. The scalpel passes through the tract as easily as through
"She's on leave. I remember her now. She put her thesis on hold
overcooked pasta. Stringy bile and pre-fecal lumps slump tiredly
about a year and a half ago. Illness in the family, as I recall."
into a collecting dish. Something bulges behind them from the
Russell stares at the monitor; something he sees there seems to sink
dorsal wall. Something shines white as bone where no bone should
be. Slice, resect. There. A mass of some kind covering the right
"She killed her husband? She killed him?"
kidney, approximately fifteen centimetres by ten, extending down to
the bladder. Quite heterogeneous, it's got some sort of lumps in it.
"My God." Russell shakes his head. "She didn't seem the type.
A tumour? Is this what Stuart MacLennan's doctors were duelling
She always seemed so— well, so cheery."
with when they pumped him full of poison? It doesn't look like any
"My God," he repeats. "And how can I help you?"
For one thing— and this is really kind of strange— it's looking
"She's suffering from some very elaborate delusions. She couches
them in a lot of technical terminology I don't understand. I mean,for all I know she could actually be making sense— no, no. Scratch
that. She can't be, but I don't have the background to really
"Mmmm?" Russell blinks, momentarily distracted. "Oh, yes.
understand her, well, claims."
Frank Tipler. Cosmologist from Tulane, claimed to have a testable
mathematical proof of the existence of God. And the afterlife too, if
"For one thing, she keeps talking about bringing her husband back
I recall. Raised a bit of a stir a few years back."
"I take it you weren't impressed."
"Actually, I didn't follow it very closely. Theology's not that
interesting to me. I mean, if physics proves that there is or there
"Should I be? You said she was delusional."
isn't a god that's fine, but that's not really the point of the exercise, is
Thomas takes a deep breath. "Dr. Russell, I've been doing some
reading the past couple of days. Popular cosmology, quantum
"I couldn't say. Seems to me it'd be a hell of a spin-off, though."
mechanics for beginners, that sort of thing."
Russell smiles indulgently. "I suppose it's never too late to start."
"I don't suppose you've got the reference?" Thomas suggests.
"I get the impression that a lot of the stuff that happens down at
"Of course. Just a moment." Russell feeds a CD to the
the subatomic level almost has quasi-religious overtones.
workstation and massages the keyboard. The Sun purrs. "Yes, here
Spontaneous appearance of matter, simultaneous existence in
it is: The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and theResurrection of the Dead. 1994, Frank J. Tipler. I can print you out
"Yes, I suppose that's true. After a fashion."
"Are cosmologists a religious lot, by and large?"
"Not really." Russell drums fingers on his monolith. "The field's
The professor displays something akin to a very small smile.
so strange that we don't really need religious experience on top of it.
"In thirty words or less," Thomas adds. "For idiots."
Some of the eastern religions make claims that sound vaguely
"Well," Russell says, "basically, he argued that some billions of
quantum-mechanical, but the similarities are pretty superficial."
years hence, life will incorporate itself into a massive quantum-
"Nothing more, well, Christian? Nothing that would lead
effect computing device to avoid extinction when the universe
someone to believe in a single omniscient God who raises the
"I thought the universe wasn't going to collapse," Thomas
"God no. Oh, except for that Tipler fellow." Russell leans
interjects. "I thought they proved it was just going to keep
forward. "Why? Jasmine Fitzgerald hasn't become a Christian, has
she?" Murder is one thing, his tone suggests, but this.
"That was last year," Russell says shortly. "May I continue?"
"I don't think so," Thomas reassures him. "Not unless
Christianity's broadened its tenets to embrace human sacrifice."
"Thank you. As I was saying, Tipler claimed that billions of
"Yes. Quite." Russell leans back again, apparently satisfied.
years hence, life will incorporate itself into a massive quantum-
"Who's Tipler?" Thomas asks.
effect computing device to avoid extinction when the universe
collapses. An integral part of this process involves the exactreproduction of everything that ever happened in the universe up to
that point, right down to the quantum level, as well as all possible
Nothing. Everything. Suddenly awake, Myles Thomas stares
around a darkened studio and tries to convince himself that nothing
Beside the desk, Russell's printer extrudes a paper tongue. He
Nothing has changed. The faint sounds of late-night traffic sound
"So God's a supercomputer at the end of time? And we'll all be
the same as ever. Grey parallelograms stretch across wall and
resurrected in the mother of all simulation models?"
ceiling, a faint luminous shadow of his bedroom window cast by
"Well—" Russell wavers. The caricature seems to cause him
some distant streetlight. Natalie's still gone from the left side of his
physical pain. "I suppose so," he finishes, reluctantly. "In thirty
bed, her departure so far removed by now that he doesn't even have
"Wow." Suddenly Fitzgerald' ravings sound downright
He checks the LEDs on his bedside alarm: 2:35a.
pedestrian. "But if he's right—"
"The consensus is he's not," Russell interjects hastily.
"But if. If the model's an exact reproduction, how could you tell
Well, maybe one thing. Tipler's heresy sits on the night stand, its
the difference between real life and afterlife? I mean, what would
plastic dustcover reflecting slashes of red light from the alarm clock. The Physics of Immortality: Modern Cosmology, God and the
"Well, the point is avoiding ultimate extinction, supposedly. As to
Resurrection of the Dead. It's too dark to read the lettering but you
how you'd tell the difference." Russell shakes his head. "Actually,
don't forget a title like that. Myles Thomas signed it out of the
I never finished the book. As I said, theology doesn't interest me all
library this afternoon, opened it at random
Thomas shakes his head. "I can't believe it."
"Not many could," Russell says. Then, almost apologetically, he
adds "Tipler's theoretical proofs were quite extensive, though, as I
p(n) f (k)p(nk) f (k) p(n)
"I bet. Whatever happened to him?"
Russell shrugs. "What happens to anyone who's stupid enough to
come up with a new way of looking at the world? They tore into
f p(n) p(n)
him like sharks at a feeding frenzy. I don't know where he ended
which is just (E.3), and (E.3) can hold only if.
and threw it into his briefcase, confused and disgusted. He doesn't
"Tell me about it. Nothing about that crazy b— nothing about her
even know why he went to the effort of getting the fucking thing.
makes sense." The orderly wanders off down the hall, frowning.
Jasmine Fitzgerald is delusional. It's that simple. For reasons that it
Jasmine Fitzgerald lies between sheets tucked tight as a
is not Myles Thomas' job to understand, she vivisected her husband
straitjacket, stares unblinking at the ceiling. A nurse sits to one side,
on the kitchen floor. Now she's inventing all sorts of ways to excuse
boredom and curiosity mixing in equal measures on his face.
herself, to undo the undoable, and the fact that she cloaks her
delusions in cosmological gobbledegook does not make them any
"Don't really know," the nurse says. "She seems okay now."
more credible. What does he expect to do, turn into a quantum
"She doesn't look okay to me. She looks almost catatonic."
mechanic overnight? Is he going to learn even a fraction of what
he'd need to find the holes in her carefully constructed fantasy?
"We're sorry," Fitzgerald says cheerfully. "The person you are
trying to reach is temporarily unavailable. Please leave a message
But he did. And now Modern Cosmology, God and the
and we'll get back to you." Then: "Hi, Myles. Good to see you."
Resurrection of the Dead looms dimly in front of him at two thirty
Her eyes never waver from the acoustic tiles overhead.
in the fucking morning, and something's changed, he's almost sure
"You better blink one of these days," Thomas remarks. "Your
of it, but try as he might he can't get a handle on what it is. He just
feels different, somehow. He just feels.
"Nothing a little judicious editing won't fix," she tells him. Awake. That's what you feel. You couldn't get back to sleep now
Thomas glances at the nurse. "Would you excuse us for a few
Myles Thomas sighs and turns on the reading lamp. Squinting as
"Sure. I'll be in the caf if you need me."
his pupils shrink against the light, he reaches out and grabs the
Thomas waits until the door swings shut. "So, Jaz. What's the
Parts of it, astonishingly, almost make sense.
She turns to look at him. "Two hundred twenty eight GeV," she says. "All right. Someone
"She's not here," the orderly tells him. "Last night we had to
actually read my thesis proposal."
"Not just your proposal. That's one of Tipler's testable
Next door: the hospital. "Why? What's wrong?"
"Not a clue. Convulsions, cyanosis— we thought she was toast,
Her smile widens. "The critical one, actually. The others are
actually. But by the time the doctor got to her she couldn't find
"Yup. Over at CERN. So how'd you find his book?"
"I only read parts of it," Thomas admits. "It was pretty tough
".and I didn't know what. I couldn't fix it if I couldn't see what
I'd done wrong. So I— I cut him open." Her brow furrows
"Sorry. My fault," Fitzgerald says.
suddenly. Thomas can't tell with what: remembrance, remorse?
"I really overstepped myself," she says at last.
"I thought you could use some help, so I souped you up a bit.
No. Concentration. She's rebuilding her defences, she's pushing
Increased your processing speed. Not enough, I guess."
the tip of that bloody iceberg back below the surface. It can't be
Something shivers down his back. He ignores it.
easy. Thomas can see it, ponderous and massively buoyant, pushing
"I'm not—" Thomas rubs his chin; he forgot to shave this
up from the depths while Jasmine Fitzgerald leans down and
morning "—exactly sure what you mean by that."
"Sure you do. You just don't believe it." Fitzgerald squirms up
"I know it must be difficult to think about," Thomas says.
from between the sheets, props her back against a pillow. "It's just a
She shrugs. "Sometimes." Going. "When my head slips back
semantic difference, Myles. You'd call it a delusion. Us physics
into the old school. Old habits die hard." Going. "But I get over
geeks would call it a hypothesis."
"Oh, just say it, Myles. I know you're dying to."
"Go on," he blurts, strangely unable to stop himself.
"You know when I told you about Core Wars?" she asks brightly.
Fitzgerald laughs. "If you insist, Doctor. I figured out what I was
doing wrong. I thought I had to do everything myself, and I just
"All viruses replicate, but some of the better ones can write
can't. Too many variables, you see, even if you access them
macros— micros, actually, would be a better name for them— to
individually there's no way you can keep track of 'em all at once.
other addresses, little subroutines that autonomously perform simple
When I tried, I got mixed up and everything—"
tasks. And some of those can replicate too. Get my drift?"
A sudden darkness in her face now. A memory, perhaps, pushing
"Not really," Thomas says quietly.
up through all those careful layers of contrivance.
"I really should have souped you up a bit more. Anyway, those
"Everything went wrong," she finishes softly.
little routines, they can handle all the book-keeping. Each one
Thomas nods, keeps his voice low and gentle. "What are you
tracks a few variables, and each time they replicate that's a few
more, and pretty soon there's no limit to the size of the problem you
"You know damn well what I'm remembering," she whispers. "I
can handle. Hell, you could rewrite the whole damn operating
system from the inside out and not have to worry about any of the
details, all your little daemons are doing that for you."
"He was dying. He was dying. I tried to fix him, I tried to fix the
"Are we all just viruses to you, Jaz?"
She laughs at that, not unkindly. "Ah, Myles. It's a technical
"Oh." She considers. "Just as well, I guess. It'll given me more
term, not a moral judgement. Life's information, shaped by natural
"And you've learned to— rewrite the code," Thomas says.
"Too bad you missed Stuart," she says behind him. "You'd have
She shakes her head. "Still learning. But I'm getting better at it
liked him. Maybe I'll bring him around to your place sometime."
The doorknob sticks. He tries again.
"I see." Thomas pretends to check his watch. He still doesn't
"Something wrong?" she asks.
know the jargon. He never will. But at least, at last, he knows
"No," Thomas says, a bit too quickly. "It's just—"
"Oh, right. Hang on a sec." She rustles in her sheets.
He turns his head. Jasmine Fitzgerald lies flat on her back,
"That's all I need right now, Jasmine. I want to thank you for
unblinking, staring straight up. Her breath is fast and shallow.
being so co-operative. I know how tough this must be on you."
The doorknob seems subtly warmer in his hand.
She cocks her head at him, smiling. "This is goodbye then,
Myles? You haven't come close to curing me."
"Sure," she says to the ceiling. "Just tired. Takes a bit out of you,
He smiles back. He can almost feel each muscle fibre contracting,
the increased tension on facial tendons, soft tissue stretching over
bone. The utter insincerity of a purely mechanical process. "That's
"Really, I just need some rest." She looks at him one last time,
and giggles. "But Myles to go before I sleep."
"Right. You're assessing my fitness."Thomas nods.
"Well?" she asks after a moment. "Am I fit?"He takes a breath. "I think you have some problems you haven't
faced. But you can understand counsel, and there's no doubt you
could follow any proceedings the court is likely to throw at you.
"You performed the autopsy on Stuart MacLennan?"
Legally, that means you can stand trial."
A brief silence. Then: "Who is this?"
"Ah. So I'm not sane, but I'm not crazy enough to get off, eh?"
"My name's Myles Thomas. I'm a psychologist at FPSS. Jasmine
"I hope things work out for you." That much, at least, is sincere.
Fitzgerald is— was a client of mine."
"Oh, they will," she says easily. "Never fear. How much longer
The phone sits there in his hand, silent.
"I was looking at the case report, writing up my assessment, and I
"Maybe another three weeks. Thirty days is the usual period."
just noticed something about your findings—"
"But you've finished with me. Why so long?"
"They're preliminary," Desjardins interrupts. "I'll have the full
He shrugs. "Nowhere else to put you, for now."
"Yes, I understand that, Dr. Desjardins. But my understanding is
"So you're saying these teratomas might have had some role in
that MacLennan was, well, mortally wounded."
"He was gutted like a fish," Desjardins says.
"I don't see how," Desjardins says.
"Right. But your r— your preliminary report lists cause of death
"Look, maybe I'm not making myself clear. I have my doubts that
"That's because I haven't determined the cause of death."
Stuart MacLennan died from his wife's carving skills because any
"Right. I guess I'm a bit confused about what else it could have
one of the abnormalities I found should have killed him more or less
been. You didn't find any toxins in the body, at least none that
weren't involved in MacLennan's chemo, and no other injuries
"But that's pretty much impossible, isn't it? I mean, what did the
except for these fistulas and teratomas—"
The phone barks in Thomas's hand, a short ugly laugh. "Do you
"Quite frankly, I don't think they read my report," Desjardins
know what a teratoma is?" Desjardins asks.
grumbles. "Neither did you, apparently, or you would have called
"I assumed it was something to do with his cancer."
"Ever hear the term primordial cyst?"
"Well, it wasn't really central to my assessment, Dr. Desjardins.
And besides, it seemed so obvious—"
"Hope you haven't eaten recently," Desjardins says. "Every now
"For sure. You see someone laid open from crotch to sternum,
and then you get a clump of proliferating cells floating around in the
you don't need any report to know what killed him. Who cares
coelomic cavity. Something happens to activate the dormant genes
about any of this congenital abnormality bullshit?"
— could be a lot of things, but the upshot is you sometimes get
Congen— "You're saying he was born that way?"
these growing blobs of tissue sprouting teeth and hair and bone.
"Except he couldn't have been. He'd never have even made it to
Sometimes they get as big as grapefruits."
"My God. MacLennan had one of those in him?"
"I thought, maybe. At first. Turned out to be a chunk of his
"I'm saying Stuart MacLennan's wife couldn't have killed him,
kidney. Only there was an eye growing out of it. And most of his
because physiologically there's no way in hell that he could have
abdominal lymph nodes, too, the ducts were clotted with hair and
something like fingernail. It was keratinised, anyway."
Thomas stares at the phone. It offers no retraction.
"That's horrible," Thomas whispers.
"But— he was twenty-eight years old! How could that be?"
"No shit. Not to mention the perforated diaphragm, or the fact
"God only knows," Desjardins tells him. "You ask me, it's a
that half the loops of his small intestine were fused together."
"But I thought he had leukaemia.""He did. That wasn't what killed him."
should be told the difference between empiricism and stubbornness,
He isn't quite certain, because he doesn't quite know what he was
doctor. Know what that's from?"
expecting. No opened grave, no stone rolled dramatically away
from the sepulchre. Of course not. Jasmine Fitzgerald would
"Oh well. It's not important." She looks back at the ground. Wet
probably say that her powers are too subtle for such obvious theatre.
tendrils of hair hang across her face. "They wouldn't let me come to
Why leave a pile of shovelled earth, an opened coffin, when you can
"You don't seem to need their permission."
She sits cross-legged on her husband's undisturbed grave.
"Not now. That was a few days ago. I still hadn't worked all the
Whatever powers she lays claim to, they don't shield her from the
bugs out then." She plunges one hand into wet dirt. "You know
light rain falling on her head. She doesn't even have an umbrella.
"Myles," she says, not looking up. "I thought it might be you."
Beforetheknife, she means.
Her sunny smile, that radiant expression of happy denial, is nowhere
to be seen. Her face is as expressionless as her husband's must be,
Finally he nods, although she isn't looking.
The rain falls harder. Thomas shivers under his windbreaker.
"How did you find me?" she asks him.
"FPSS went ballistic when you disappeared. They're calling
"So what now?" he asks at last.
everyone who had any contact with you, trying to figure out how
"I'm not sure. It seemed so straightforward at first, you know? I
loved Stuart, completely, without reservation. I was going to bring
Her fingers play in the fresh earth. "Did you tell them?"
him back as soon as I learned how. I was going to do it right this
"I didn't think of this place until after," he lies. Then, to atone:
time. And I still love him, I really do, but damn it all I don't love
"And I don't know how you got out."
everything about him, you know? He was a slob, sometimes. And I
"Yes you do, Myles. You do it yourself all the time."
hated his taste in music. So now that I'm here, I figure, why stop at
"Go on," he says, deliberately.
just bringing him back? Why not, well, fine-tune him a bit?"
She smiles, but it doesn't last. "We got here the same way, Myles.
"Is that what you're going to do?"
We copied ourselves from one address to another. The only
"I don't know. I'm going through all the things I'd change, and
difference is, you still have to go from A to B to C. I just cut
when it comes right down to it maybe it'd be better to just start again
from scratch. Less— intensive. Computationally."
"I can't accept that," Thomas says.
"I hope you are delusional." Not a wise thing to say, but suddenly
"Ever the doubter, aren't you? How can you enjoy heaven when
he doesn't care. "Because if you're not, God's a really callous
you can't even recognise it?" Finally, she looks up at him. "You
"Is it," she says, without much interest.
"Everything's just information. We're all just subroutines
through him then. But maybe he does. Maybe it feels like a ripple
interacting in a model somewhere. Well nothing's really all that
growing across some stagnant surface. A subtle reweaving of
important then, is it? You'll get around to debugging Stuart one of
electrons. A small change in the way things are.
these days. No hurry. He can wait. It's just microcode, nothing's
I'm going to clean the place up. I'm going to fill in the holes.
irrevocable. So nothing really matters, does it? How could God
Myles Thomas doesn't know exactly what she meant by that. But
give a shit about anything in a universe like that?"
he's afraid that soon— far too soon— there won't be anything wrong
Jasmine Fitzgerald rises from the grave and wipes the dirt off her
hands. "Watch it, Myles." There's a faint smile on her face. "Youdon't want to piss me off."
He meets her eyes. "I'm glad I still can.""Touché." There's still a twinkle there, behind her soaked lashes
and the runnels of rainwater coursing down her face.
"So what are you going to do?" he asks again. She looks around the soaking graveyard. "Everything. I'm going
to clean the place up. I'm going to fill in the holes. I'm going torewrite Planck's constant so it makes sense." She smiles at him. "Right now, though, I think I'm just going to go somewhere andthink about things for a while."
She steps off the mound. "Thanks for not telling on me. It
wouldn't have made any difference, but I appreciate the thought. Iwon't forget it." She begins to walk away in the rain.
"Jaz," Thomas calls after her. She shakes her head, without looking back. "Forget it, Myles.
Nobody handed me any miracles." She stops, then, turns briefly. "Besides, you're not ready. You'd probably just think I hypnotisedyou or something."
I should stop her, Thomas tells himself. She's dangerous. She'sdeluded. They could charge me with aiding and abetting. I shouldstop her.If I can. She leaves him in the rain with the memory of that bright,
guiltless smile. He's almost sure he doesn't feel anything pass
Gisele Dazzi Lorenzoni Gisele Dazzi Lorenzoni Curriculum Vitae ______________________________________________________________________________________ Dados Pessoais Nome ______________________________________________________________________________________ Formação Acadêmica/Titulação 2009 - 2011 Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, UFRJ, Rio De Janeiro, Brasil
What seems to begin as a simple search for a cat and Provides step-by-step instructions for making a variety a dog take the children far beyond their own backyard of no-cook recipes, including muesli, cheese boats, Clear text and beautiful photographs trace Goodall’s work in this introduction to maps! Vocabulary and different coconut bars, frozen fruit pops, and other snacks and with chim