Periodical Installment 4

 
Periodical Installment 4 by Pam Benjamin

Periodical Installment 4
by Pam Benjamin

Periodical 4

Jane 6 took the host elevator to the 500th floor. The doors opened to a rainbow lit screen hallway with digital birds swooping and chirping in a greenly pastured pixelated sunshine. Bright tubes dangled from the impossibly high ceiling misting Jane 6 in scented water, she was going to meet her potential colony and had never really bathed in the “TenLawn”. Could bio-bacterial sentient beings smell things? Did they have noses? She imagined purple flies with rainbow proboscis sucking at the inside of her lungs as she shook her blonde hair from it's skull cap toward the skyward tubes to make herself presentable for her future with them. What would she call them? friends?Alien Overlords? The pamphlet explained about as much as the posters because just like Kims and Cindys, Janes couldn't read. They were never taught words, just processes and directions through pictures. They didn't really need to know much to make THE CHOICE, just enough to make the walk down one of the hallways to an elevator for the 400th, 500th, or 600th floor of her building in the “TenLawn”.

Jane 6 slipped from her body suit to be fully cleansed. There was more than water in this spray, some of the girls genetic makeup was toxic to alien colonies, and tests needed to be done before any introductions could be made. A fleck of phlegm could wipe an entire ancient alien civilization  and they were the clients paying the biggest bucks, so some “Hosts” needed to be genetically modified for the safety of the buyer. Inside the mist were nano scientists pulling every strand from Jane 6's DNA apart, looking for the slightest abnormality or normality that could obliterate an alien world. Thankfully, Jane 6 wouldn't need any modification, just a thorough cleaning. The bio side effects of Hosting were usually helpful: one host gained a third breast, another didn't have to eat. Jane 6 hoped for something extraordinary that would allow her access to the outside world she'd only seen through glass, in pictures and simulations.

Jane 6 stepped out of the mist and felt the virbro vac pull all the moisture from her body for recycling.  She moved forward as indicated by the picture signs into the glass box and faced an enormous screen. Cameras droned around her glass enclosure transmitting her image into the microscopic city in a plastic orb suspended centrally between Jane 6 and the screen.

“Jane 6. Host Interview 1. Um, I'm supposed to meet the...” she'd practiced their name so many times and didn't want to stumble. “The first impression is the only impression”, but that was a “sexer” mantra, and Jane 6 suddenly couldn't remember why she'd decided to be a “host”. So much responsibility, could she handle it? “Utiiud. I'm willing to host the Utiiud.”

The screen flickered and fuzzed. A garbled voice surrounded the room. They must have left the translator off because the unintelligible voices screeched unhearable sounds, or maybe it was just the prototonic voice projection system on the fritz. Either way, this interview wasn't going well as Jane 6 crumpled to the ground holding her head.

“Can you... Can you hear me now? Testing. Sibilance  Moot, did you press the? For the love of Uutis, can we? Is she there? How does this?” The squeaky voice vibrated nervously like 40 theramins tuning for a concert. “We've been maintaining this cunky civilization for 600 million cast ups, and you think we could figure out the capkuut com system?”

Jane 6 stood to her feet and stared at the screen that warbled into focus. Resplendent gems glittered in his alien neck like an implanted crown or a collar. She'd see those on “cats” in the book she wasn't supposed to have from Kim 12. In fact, he had hair fluffed all round him and slanted green eyes, but the Utiiud couldn't be cats, their entire colony of 30,000 was living spaciously inside a temporary enclosure the size of Jane 6's hands clasped together. It was an impossible idea for Jane 6: she could see the spaciousness behind him with chairs on risers slowly being inhabited by these felinesqe beings while she was staring at the floating orb enclosure. This was just one of their rooms; that orb was their whole world. Soon, they'd be living somewhere inside her, all 30,000 of them.

Her eyes grew wider as they slinked to their chairs behind whom she assumed was their leader. None others were be-speckled with gems nor did they wear clothing; their fur curled around them as they filled the small (well, microscopic really) stadium on the screen facing Jane 6.

The leader snorted to purred or cleared something from his gullet before his voice normalized to Jane 6's ears, “We! We are the Utiiud!” Agreeing sounds rumbled behind him, “And the Utiiud have come to Earth seeking sanctuary in this willing host! We have paid the price as will she!” He grabbed something below and out of the screen and waved a contract written on silvery film from his claw. The contract was impossible for Jane 6 to read, because she couldn't. Most “hosts” had certain rules to abide by for the comfort of their alien guests, and Jane 6 was willing to make any compromise for a Kangen Tap. “You will agree to our terms before accepting implantation." His tiny voice boomed, "1. No Alcohol.” Jane 6 could handle that. Only “Sexers” drank alcohol in the “MissShawn” and Jane 6 had never tasted the stuff, so not even a compromise. “2. No sexual intercourse or implantation of anything into your vaginal orifice.” Jane 6 never had sex, nor any interest for it. Only “Sexers” with the chip that made them like it did that stuff, and Jane 6 couldn't imagine wanting anyone to put anything anywhere inside her, excepting, of course, an alien colony. “3. You must start eating meat.” Meat? What was meat? Were they talking about the brown goo or catheter nutrients? Jane 6 knew that putting goo in her mouth hole was horrific.  What food source could they mean? Another voice boomed in the amphitheater surrounding Jane 6, "MEAT WILL BE INCLUDED WITH HER DOMICILE ON 'DIEMANHEIGHTS'."  

Jane 6 couldn't sense any compromise with the contract and immediately added her thumb to the glass as agreement before glancing up to ask, "So where will you reside inside me?"

"We are the Utiiuds, and we thrive in your uterus."

Jane 6's eyes rolled to the ceiling as she crumpled the the ground.
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Pam Benjamin is the director of Mutiny Radio. She has an MA in Fiction and an MFA in Poetry from SFSU because she likes fancy framed pieces of paper on her kitchen walls. Pam likes to do stand up comedy because it is poetry that people actually listen to, and she does an excessive number of weekly podcasts:

http://podcasts.pcrcollective.org/Alta-Cast/

http://podcasts.pcrcollective.org/SomeCallMeTim/

http://podcasts.pcrcollective.org/HappyHourOpenMic/

http://podcasts.pcrcollective.org/JokeWorkshop/

http://podcasts.pcrcollective.org/KomedyKlubhouse/