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Four fevered hours later, Annn opened her eyes. Slowly, slowly, the animation returned to her face. She looked around.


“Mr. Jones…”


“Yes?”


“Where am I?”


“A repairman’s office. I had a broken toaster oven I needed fixing.”


She carefully inspected her flesh. “You did this?”


“Vicariously.”


Annn looked at me for a long time. I began to feel a little bit like a grade school kid who has just said something unwittingly offensive to his teacher. “Mr. Jones, I owe you a boon.”


“What?”


“You’ve saved my life, such as it is, and I am eternally thankful. If there is ever anything I can to do repay you, simply name it.”


“Really?”


“Yes.”


“Wonderful! You can start by paying the man with the gun.”

One custom repair job and four months’ worth of rent later, I sat her down on the couch- the eminent Mr. Grund took to the floor- and steadied myself. This is the part nobody likes, including me.


“Annn.”


“Yes?”


“I need to ask you some questions.”


“Yes, Mr. Jones.”


“Do you, in fact, own the Club Emphasis?”


“Didn’t you say it exploded?”


“Alright, did you at one time own the Club Emphasis?”


“Yes.”


“How many people besides me know you’re a machine?”


She looked thoughtful. “What do you mean by ‘people’?


Oh gods! Other machines. “Um. Anything or anyone conceivably capable of relating the information that you are a machine to someone else without them asking it specific questions in regards to the fact.”


“Seven.”


“Go ahead and rattle off their names.”


“AC17345-843, Harvey Bookman, The Octivo, Farragut the Lab, Stephen Silva, Archivist #32004, James Rinehart.”


“Is that the same James Rinehart that owns half of HyPeriCo?”


“Yes, Mr. Jones.”


“Wait. Is that the same Stephen Silva that owns the other half?”


“Yes, Mr. Jones.”


“How do they know you?”


“Stephen Silva met me first during a private party at his home three years ago. James Rinehart built me.”


“What!?”


“James Rinehart built me, Mr. Jones.”


“Jesus God, what for?!”


“I don’t understand the question, Mr. Jones.”


She probably didn’t. “Did James Rinehart direct you to build and operate the Club Emphasis?”


“Yes, Mr. Jones.”


“Do you know why?”


“No, Mr. Jones.”


“Did he also build Harry Trudeau?”


“Yes, Mr. Jones.”


“And you don’t know why?”


“No, Mr. Jones.”


“Do you know where Rinehart can be found.”


“Mr. Jones, that is classified information.”


“Clas-,”


“And I cannot allow anyone access to that information without proper authority. You know the password, of course?”


“The pas-?”


“Very good, Mr. Jones. James Rinehart can be found at 11187 Ephemeris Street. Fourty-Sixth Floor, Room 2209743, Midport.”


“Thanks, Annn.”


For the first time since I’d fixed her up, maybe for the first time ever, she smiled at me. “Good luck, Jones.” She stood up suddenly, and kissed me. I felt something like an electric shock go through my mind. Only when it had passed did I realize I was kissing back.
Oh no. Oh no…



“I need to see Mr. Rinehart.”


“Do you have an appointment?”


“No, but he’ll see me.”


“I see. And who shall I say is here?”


“Tell him Professor Jones is here. Tell him I need to talk to him about Annn.”



Rinehart’s office was an exercise in extremes. A massive desk, black as black could be, dominated the room. Bottles, like outposts of drunkenness, were strewn about the vicinity. The walls were bare plasteel. Two pictures- one of a young woman, one of Rinehart and someone else shaking hands- were crudely taped up. Three huge bay windows looked out over Downtown Midport. Rinehart sat behind his desk, a sailor on a ship to hell, and simply stared at me. His eyes were very bloodshot.


“Mr. Rinehart-,”


“I know you.”


“Mr. Rinehart-,”


“Professor Jones, isn’t it? You’re that annoying detective. Hates machines, spends his days dealing with them?” He laughed, a sound like something small and feral being skewered. “What do you want, Jones?”


“Information.”


“Go away.”


“Why did you build Annn?”


“Piss off.”


“What’s the Club Emphasis for?”


“Get lost.”


“Why is everyone and his brother trying to destroy your machines, Rinehart?”


“Destroy?”


“Destroy.”


“Even Annn?”


“Especially Annn. I’ve already had to repair her once, Mr. Rinehart.”


“Keep your goddamn hands off her, Jones!”


“Why did you build Annn, Mr. Rinehart?”


He said nothing for a moment. Then: “You see those pictures on the wall?”


“Yes.”


“The one on the left, that’s me and Neal Gibbons.”


“Gibbons? As in The Gibbons Serum?”


“The same. He had planned to market the drug, with my help, once it was deemed safe. He never got the chance, though. He was very unpopular at the time, and most people were ready to cut his throat to get the miracle drug. He moved away, found a safe apartment most people didn’t know about, and set up shop for a while. One day, two men stopped my soon-to-be wife while she was walking in South Midport- I don’t know why- and bundled her into their van. They tortured her to get Gibbons’s address. Then they raped her, killed her, and threw her in the bay. Then they went to his home and killed Gibbons. But his miracle drug wasn’t there.”


“Where was it?”


“Safe in the hands of Stephen Silva, his janitor. Silva brought a vial to me, sold it to me in exchange for 49% of HyPeriCo, and left happy as a clam.” He sneered at me. “You see the other picture on the wall?”


“Yes.”


“Look closer. Who is it?”


I squinted. “It’s Annn!”


“No. It’s Anne, my fiancée. You wanted to know why I built Annn. Now you know.”


“Why the Club Emphasis? Why Harry Trudeau?”


“I couldn’t bring myself to think of Annn as a replacement for Anne. It just wasn’t right. Dead is dead, Jones, and Annn is her own person. I gave her the club and Harry so she could go and be her own person. You wanted to know. Now you know. Anything else?”


------
"Quit this world, quit the next world, quit quitting!" -Sufi proverb.


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Comments

The following comments are for "Professor Jones- Part Five"
by Beckett Grey

Ditto
Tens don't come cheap, but you seem to have no trouble getting them with this story!

( Posted by: The Hal [Member] On: January 14, 2002 )





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