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Authors: David M. Henley

Manifestations

BOOK: Manifestations
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Manifestations
Number II of
Pierre Jnr Trilogy
David M. Henley
HarperVoyager (2013)
Rating:
****

The thrilling follow-up to The Hunt for Pierre Jnr. The Weave is left reeling after an explosion devastates the city of Busan. Who is behind it? What does it mean for the psis? Pete Lazarus has been taken captive and Colonel Pinter is discovering the joys of rejuvenation, while the most powerful telepath ever born marches steadily towards world domination, collecting subservient Citizens in his wake. In this second instalment in the trilogy, following on from The Hunt for Pierre Jnr, David Henley immerses us into a world of ambiguity where the end does not always justify the means. 'A fantastic look at the idea of human prejudice and fear ... another Peter F Hamilton or Daniel Suarez' - fantasybookreview.co.uk   

 

 

~ * ~

 

MANIFESTATIONS

 

[Pierre Jnr 02]

 

David M. Henley

 

No copyright 
 2015 by MadMaxAU eBooks

 

 

~ * ~

 

 

 

 

 

PRELUDE

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ * ~

 

 

 

 

The widow Mali had always been kind to Morgan, as had her late partner Eurosh. The pair of them often shared their meals with him and endured his grumblings of dissatisfaction.

 

Morgan was an artist and wanted to spend all of his days making
objets d’art.
That is what he wanted the Will to want of him, but all it seemed to want him to make was more faces.

 

On Earth, in the year 2159, there are twenty-six megapolises and hundreds of smaller cities and housing clusters spreading out a population rapidly approaching twenty billion individuals. In almost every community hub it is common to have what is known as the town face, which might sit in a square if it was a sculpture; mounted on a building like a gargoyle; or placed on a mantel if simply a bust — as Morgan made.

 

Faces, technically, could look like anything — from an abstract kinetic sculpture, or a light show of coloured panels, to a faux Impressionist-style painting, or a life-sized replica (though socially that was unacceptable) — what made each artwork a face was how it uniquely interpreted the innumerable ways the Will and the Weave could be calculated, filtered and measured. Some faces changed with the trends — as determined by the most often used phrases and keywords — others reacted to the pace of change. Some averaged the local region, others the entire world. Morgan, as an artist, was interested in more than statistical averages though.

 

Unlike the clocks of old that kept people informed of the time, town faces depicted the overall mood and feelings of the Weave. The face’s expression gave all who looked upon it an immediate sense of how those around them might be feeling.

 

In Nijmegen, the town face looked very human, which Morgan was particularly skilled at creating. It was hairless, effete and three metres tall. After he won the student prize for 2157 it had been made the common face for the town and was raised four storeys high to sit below the old clock of the meister tower. When the world was sad, its eyebrows drooped and its eyes searched the road and sky for hope. When the world was worried, as it often was these days, the face bit the inside of its lip and closed its eyes as if praying to a higher power. Morgan wished he’d never made it as a self-portrait.

 

Since his study piece nearly three years ago, Morgan had been making small hand-sized faces, versions of people’s lost loved ones: ‘death masks’, he sometimes thought of them. The commissioners would supply images and recordings of their dear departed along with any personal writings or memos. Morgan had to draw everything together to create a miniature bust that closely imitated the person and how they had reacted to certain news and topics.

 

It was gruesome. Ghastly and morbid. And yet Morgan could never resist the pleas of those who had lost the ones they loved and wanted only to share their lives with them once again. Even if it was simply an image, even if the bust
was
only a replica, and even if its expressions were statistically motivated imitations, to them it was the face they had known, that had smiled upon them. That cried with them.

 

His studio was small and narrow. A long bench with just enough room for him to wheel his stool along its length. The shelves held the faces he was working on: three rows of heads, some the size of a child’s fist, others larger busts for altars and entryways. Below the bench he kept a few sylus, handscreens and a replication box. All the tools he needed.

 

Making the lifelike image was easy. All it took was to feed in enough recordings to generate the visage overnight on one of the template skulls with actuated muscles. It was also easy to load the key expressions, another automated process.

 

The art of it, what Morgan really did, was in relating these imitation reactions to informational input in the same way the person he was modelling would have. For every soul, he had to find their essence, to capture their
je ne sais quoi,
so that when someone came home from a long day of frustration they could visit their loved one and look upon the face of the lover they remembered.

 

For him this was draining. Some people were easy, but some were so quirky it could take him months to discover the pattern of their emotive reactions. This was the first time he was working on a friend.

 

He had known Eurosh well. Morgan was building him life-sized and his stilled head sat in the centre of the bench, lit from all sides by recessed lumen bars.

 

‘Eurosh?’ Morgan called out the wake-up trigger. The eyes of his friend opened and blinked, looking towards Morgan as affably and welcoming as when he was alive, patiently waiting for his lonely friend to tell him what was on his mind.

 

‘Today I have some pictures to show you. Would you like to see some pictures?’ Eurosh smiled; this meant yes. Morgan wished the head could talk, but this was a line many facemakers chose not to cross. What they were doing felt bad enough. He sighed and Eurosh looked at him with curious concern. ‘It’s nothing, Eurosh. Nothing to worry about. Let’s start.’

 

He propped a handscreen up in front of the head and tapped through images from the Weave. Recent events, historical events, cultural happenings. Sprinkled throughout the presentation, Morgan showed the head of Eurosh pictures of Mali, his wife. Each time the head would look downcast with longing. It looked real and convincing, but something wasn’t right. It just wasn’t his friend.

 

‘Feg it, Eurosh. What am I missing?’ he muttered, but the head was no longer watching him, or the screen.

 

A look of horror now contorted its skin, the eyes bulging and lips stretching back from its teeth. It stared to Morgan’s side, its expression becoming more and more distorted beyond its programming.

 

‘What’s wrong with you now? Oh —’ He turned and saw a boy standing next to him. ‘Where did you come from?’

 

The boy only smiled and turned his head, looking from Morgan to the half-finished busts on the shelves.

 

Eurosh was nearly gagging, obviously broken. Morgan tapped it twice on the forehead to shut it down. It relaxed into sleep mode.

 

He turned back to the boy. His mind screamed that he knew who this was. He’d heard of this boy, or seen him some place before ... he was normally so good with faces.

 

He felt his attention swing to the handscreen and he reached out, his hands moving of their own accord. He tapped for the screen to go to a live view, a balloon hovering over some place in Korea. Nothing was happening. It looked like a nice day.

 

‘What is it?’

 

Watch,
a voice spoke into his head.

 

~ * ~

 

 

 

 

 

PIERRE JNR IS A MYTH

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ * ~

 

 

 

 

Shen waited while the panel scanned his thumb until it greenly approved and he heard the bolts in the wall retract. He pushed down a stiff lever that drained the electricity from the cage and grabbed hold of the handle.

 

He didn’t notice the screech as it opened, or see the sharp gouges in the back of the door as it swung past him. Shen saw only the dark interior of the vault. There was no light inside. The room was full of blackness. An undulating, swallowing volume of black viscosity.

 

‘Kronos?’ Shen called.

 

~ * ~

 

The blackness sensed the change in light and the vibrations. It felt the shape of the new light and the taste of the sounds. It reached out, it grew, it took up space without knowing what any of those things were.

 

‘Kronos?’

 

It smelt something. It came from the new. It tangled inside it. It took the it and absorbed it into its itness. It did not know what it was.

 

Quickly its hunger made it move. It saw the thing that made the sound. It moved. It could move ... from the place it had always been. It could move from the place. It touched the it that made the sound. It. Me. Kronos.

 

The it had made sounds — words — no, a name. The it was Shen. Shen made more sound words, ‘Arck. Arghh. Arghllllllll.’ It-Kronos took more of the it-Shen and it-Shen became Kronos. Words. Thought. Memory. From the man came words. Kronos saw light and dark, felt hot and cold.

 

It was wet, and warm, until it was cold. It had weight. The light of it-Shen disappeared and the words and thoughts stopped coming into Kronos. It shook the Shen. With a thousand spikes it searched the body, but the light was gone.

 

BOOK: Manifestations
12.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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