"Love is all there is, or so I've heard."
She does that laugh snort thing she does. I love her eyes when she's convinced she has discovered lightning or some other elemental force of nature. It happens far too seldom lately.
"Look at this, I got it with a grant." And she pulls a demon machine out of a cardboard box. Bile leaps to my throat, and I want to cry.
"Jenifer, what the Hell is that?" even though I know it well enough.
The helmet and yoke assembly are now painted bright chrome and crimson, but I remember how the prototypes looked when--
"They say I am a natural. Artistic types have a special sensitivity to the influence..."
"Throw that God-cursed bucket into the trash and walk away from it! Jennifer those things are the talons of the Devil!"
She is shocked, genuinely shocked. "Rory, this is just an artistic tool."
"Look, I never told you what they did to me at the Institute. Guess I never figured they'd make those damned things available, after the horrible way those demon machines twisted me and the other guinea pigs."
"This? This is what they did to you?"
"Dimethyltryptamine stimulation of the DMT centers of the brain."
"But it's not a drug, it's a machine."
"That touches the part of your brain where you see God. Oh God, Jennifer I can still feel my blood burning in a hell of crimson ecstasy."
"Did you see seraphim?"
"STOP IT Jen!"
"Rory, you need to leave."
"Jen don't do this, please."
"Why can't you support me in my efforts to be an artist? Why do you always have to correct me?"
"Hon, this isn't art... "
"Get out! I'll gather you stuff and send it to you."
"Please Jen, fight it. Don't put that thing on your head."
"Look asshole, I'm a mediocre artist at best." She lifted the demon machine from its molded foam cradle. "This could give me the edge I need to become the next Vincent van Gogh."
"It ended badly for him."
"Sure, you joke. Rory you just don't get it."
"You don't need this, babe. There has to be a better way."
Three minutes later I was standing outside the building in the rain.
Three months later, they called me to ID the body.
Three years later they did an installment of her work in a New York gallery. I forget the name.
Some Critic said it was the best work since the Renascence, other reviews were kinda mixed but everyone agrees that her work was inspired.
They are trying to draft legislation to outlaw the demon machines despite all the promised safety features. The opposition keeps citing the Forefathers, saying something about religious freedom and the pursuit of happiness or some such crap.
No one ever listens to me. Making it illegal won't do all that much. Equipment is cheap on the streets when there is a demand.
And, besides, what'd I have to offer her that was better than kissing God on the lips? What could I offer that might be better than love?
William C. Burns, Jr
Bill was born in Washington DC, circa the early fifties, which puts him on the trailing edge of the beautiful generation (remember the Hippies? OK for those of you too young to how bout Shaggy from Scooby Doo?).
Lots of degrees (mostly Celsius, some Fahrenheit some Kelvin) in areas such as Electrical engineering, Biomedical engineering and Adult & Technical education.
Keeps the hounds of starvation at bay by teaching engineering and technology courses at various colleges.
Has been published in a bunch of small magazines and online journals.
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