I’m seeing the end of the 50,000 word tunnel, although the story will be far from complete. I’ll have reached the target tomorrow, unless something happens. Shouldn’t put the cart before the horse (or, as we say in French, the plough before the oxen).
Here’s another unedited excerpt to either feast your eyes on or take a red pen to:
â€œHow much would it cost, in dollars, to buy a Phoenix?â€
Jacqueline frowned. â€œSales of Phoenixes are prohibited on Earth, due to humansâ€™ overwhelming lack of knowledge of other species. Owning such a species as the Phoenix could change the balance of knowledge and accelerate humanityâ€™sâ€”â€
â€œYeah, yeah, Iâ€™ve heard the speech before. Next youâ€™ll tell me my brain is too small to understand all of it. How much?â€
â€œHold, please, while I convert funds.â€ She disappeared again. I glanced at Eve. She looked sad, almost ready to cry. â€œIâ€™m not thinking of buying you,â€ I said, my voice grumpy even to my ears. That did it. Her face scrunched like a dried-up apple, then she launched a wail that made the windows tremble. Shit.
What did I do, now? Every time that happened at Terryâ€™s, Betty intervened, whisked the child away, and, after whatever she did or said, the cries stopped. Problem was, I never was privy to what she did or said, so I had no idea how to deal with Eve.
â€œWhat did you do to her?â€ Isabel asked behind me.
I turned, relieved beyond belief. â€œI didnâ€™t hear you come in, I said above Eveâ€™s cries. And I didnâ€™t do anything. Really.â€
Isabel threw me a pitying glance and walked over to Eve. â€œAt least you couldâ€™ve picked her up.â€ She did just that. â€œCome here, sweetie, come here. Why so sad?â€
Isabel sat in the chair, Eve on her lap, and rocked back and forth. Eve calmed down to silent tears and hiccups. â€œJack mean,â€ she said.
Isabel looked at me, startled. â€œShe talks?â€
â€œYeah. Phoenix didnâ€™t, but Eve does.â€
â€œI had to call her something. Anyway, Iâ€™m not being mean, Iâ€™m trying to figure out whatâ€™s going on.â€
â€œWhere did you get that gizmo on the table?â€
â€œWinston sent it. He had to leave unexpectedly on a mission, but he didnâ€™t leave me completely in the lurch.â€
â€œI have the data,â€ Jacqueline said as she appeared on the screen.
Isabelâ€™s eyebrows rose. â€œJacqueline?â€
I grimaced. â€œWinstonâ€™s little joke. So, what would it cost me?â€
â€œAgain, I must emphasizeâ€”â€
â€œCut it, sister. I asked you a question.â€
â€œVery well. The twelve-hour model is between two hundred and five hundred thousand, depending on where you order it from. The twenty-four hour model would run between one million five to two million, again depending the source factory.â€
I whistled. That was no chump change. I could easily afford the half-hour model; the twenty-four one would be a bit of a stretch, but, with equal paymentsâ€¦ I blinked.
Wait a minute, here, I thought. What was going on? All of a sudden, I wanted to buy a Phoenix? I stared at the bag, which was sitting right beside the communication station on the coffee table.