Heart. The thought of the word disheartens Chamaroche, having suffered a third heart attack in the relatively brief period of the last 14 years. Like a man with a terrible driving record careening round bends every day, he carries a fatal car-wreck in his chest.
It’s just a matter of time, he thinks, as he sinks into his favourite leather chair in the Hologram TV room, letting his knees dissolve and his bum settle in with a squawk, sigh and (soft) accompanying passing of the wind, into smooth surface of leather.
“I used to think I had a pretty good life here, just plugging into my machine, then watching TempleVision in the evening …We’ve had peace since 2062, when the surviving worlds was bonded together under the Red Star of the Solar Federation”.
Chamaroche rubs his right index figures twice with his thumb to activate digi-TV and the hologram of a Chinese anchor woman dressed in a body-fitting silvery outfit is suddenly in the room with him. Behind her, the hologram of an interplanetary space-craft with the label ‘Du Jiao Shou’ shimmers uncertainly, and farther still, about three feet from her shoulder, a red orb in figure six contrail, the size of a pool-table ball meant to represent planet Mars, slowly rotates, a gravity-defying trick of TempleVision.
It is like being in a room with an Oriental ghost with props. The light from 8.40am morning sun diffuses through the holograms, like they are all just silhouettes made out of that strange sunlight. Morgan knows he could walk right through them all, the anchor woman, the space rocket, that red ball in a 6 shape hanging up there in his living room, glittering in crimson, looking to be potted.
‘Maybe I am the hologram,’ he thinks, and allows himself a hollow laugh that rings false even to his ‘years’ that no longer take pleasure in bird song. The Chinese woman has slit eyes, like a beautiful but cruel Halloween-daggered Jack o’ Lantern, that make him think of the slot machines for the small time, two bit dime players in GOD. Thinking of GOD makes his scrotum tighten with excitement, the way the anticipation of sex did, well back in the intercourse interval of 2044/45?
He isn’t quite sure. Orgasm these days is a big score, betting on the football games, like when small-time second tier Sunderland recently knocked 2060-2062 back-to-back EPL champions Chelsea FC out of the Capital Cup, at twelve-to-one-odds.
The Chinese ghost’s voice has a sharp edge of excitement to it, as the Chinese Unicorn (Du Jiao Shou in Chinese) prepares to land the first ever manned mission to Mars in a little under twenty four hours, and conquer strange alien skies. Morgan vaguely remembers something about the Americans and a Mars-Orbiter craft called ‘Vulcan One’ that circumnavigated Mars’ moons two years ago, in 2061.
First round Phobos (which means fear) then Demios (which means dread) and landed dummies on both places. “Like the challenge of JFK a century ago to put a man on the moon before that decade was out, in those sixties, in this first century in the middle of the second millennium, we, the mankind of America, are looking to putting the first human on Mars before our decade is out.”
Those fighting words were said by US President Olivia Olsen-Church, the first woman president of America, a leggy blonde with wide sky blue eyes that belied a wolverine face.
And the champion of NASA’s Mars man space quest was a petite green-eyed lady called Joanna Jonsen. America had immediately fallen in love with ‘Jo-Jo’ as the media called her, whose sweet manner seemed more suited for kindergarten teaching than conquering the Red Planet.
Now it looks like that feat will fall to androgynous real life Chinese twins, Ching Chong and Yang Yin, chosen not just because they are both cosmonauts born within minutes of each other (Pulp: Well we were born within minutes of each other, our mothers said we coulda been sister and brother, oh Deborah!) and so, eye-catching, but because they were top of their cosmo class.
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