The Amazing Adventures of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey
Chapter Twenty-nine: Interview
Winter was little more
than an annoyance to the Big Apple. Snow was pushed aside, the
subways ran as usual, city services were rescheduled or
worked around, some schools were (thankfully, to be sure) closed
occasionally, radiators rang with demands for more heat, the
bars were fuller and noisier, gridlock worsened, and the general
tenor of peoples' complaints changed -- as usual -- with the
But in the City That
Never Sleeps, work went on despite the temporary inconvenience
of a major snowstorm. Especially on the forty-fourth floor of
the old Daily Planet building, housing what was once a great
metropolitan newspaper, now successfully metamorphosed into
an international multimedia cable news conglomerate. They had
And Louise Layne had a
problem. She always had a problem, and it was always the same:
her boss, the star of the show she produced that bore his name --
'Deep Inside with Ken Clark'.
In a way, she was the
victim of her own success. He'd always somehow managed to be the
interviewer who landed the Big One -- the newsmaker of the
moment, the happening celebrity, the head of state or captain of
industry, the lucky or unfortunate wretch who commanded the
attention of the world for a brief moment of immortality. His
insightful probing put a human face on the events the world
cared about. His easy familiarity with the powerful and famous
bridged social and cultural chasms between the unapproachable
and the unwashed.
Only -- it wasn't
necessarily Ken Clark who did the considerable dirty work
involved in bullying, bribing, cajoling, threatening, pleading,
stampeding, blackmailing, groveling or outright lying to get
these self-important bozos in line to kiss his feet. He wasn't
the one who did the research needed to come up with the 'facts'
behind the 'insightful probing' that let his subjects spin their
stories just the way they wanted in order to further their own
agendas. And his 'easy familiarity' was born of only one thing --
a narcissistic proccupation with his own bloated ego that
brooked no rival to his overweening self-importance.
So it was up to Louise
regularly accomplish the impossible, scoop the
competition and set him up for another triumph. Which, for the
most part, she had been able to do. She was good, after all.
Tough and persistent, savvy and smart. Years of effort on her part had made it so that an appearance
with her boss defined importance in the perceptions of
superstars and Joe Sixpack alike.
But this... This was
maybe too much. Everyone -- everyone -- was focused on
one incredible newsmaker.
Whoever nailed down
the elusive little girl with the 'S' on her chest was going to
win the biggest prize possible. Terms like 'interview of the
century' were woefully inadequate to describe such an event.
Louise stared morosely
at the swirling storm in the evening gloom outside her nearly
frosted-over office window. Try as she might, she couldn't come up with an angle
that was any better than anyone else's. The little brat just
wasn't part of the interconnected network of associations and acquaintances
that encompassed 'normal' movie stars, politicians, thinkers and
doers. There were no favors to call in, no dirty laundry that
she could discover, no discernable prejudices or worthy causes
she could exploit, and the creature didn't even appear to have
an agent. It was very frustrating.
Her boss summoned
her into his inner sanctum. She scurried in obediently. His tall,
impressive frame was leaning back comfortably in the big chair behind his
desk, the trademark curl of jet-black hair dangling across his
brow in a calculatedly insouciant manner. He was wearing his
prop glasses, which meant he was currently portraying his
'professional newsman' character. Louise knew it was all part of a carefully crafted image that
constituted his principal talent, one that had little to do with
any kind of legitimate credentials. His whole purpose for being
revolved around his looking and sounding authoritative, charming
and -- well -- manly. His persona had nothing to do with being
a mild-mannered reporter and everything to do with the
perception -- at least in his own mind -- that he was some
kind of journalistic superstud.
Louise," he greeted her, "Got me a date with the alien
it," she mumbled.
Ken looked impatient.
"It's been -- what -- nearly a month since she was all over
the news with that quake stuff in Tokyo..."
she corrected inaudibly.
"...and you still
haven't even talked to her people yet. What's the holdup?"
appear to have any 'people'. At least, not the kinds of 'people'
I usually deal with."
'people'. I have 'people'..."
That would be me,
"...so get her
'people' to talk to my 'people'. How hard can it be?"
"Well, she has
friends, and even a lawyer," Louise told him. "But
they're not talking to anyone in the media. It's not just me..."
"I'm surprised at you,
Louise. You've never had this kind of difficulty before."
How would you know?
"Show me what
you've got so far," he commanded, beckoning her to come
behind his desk.
She dropped a folder
in front of him. Pictures spilled out, some taken at the NASA
news conference, some grainy and ill-focused screen shots from
amateur videos, and a few obvious surveillance-type paparazzi
"There's quite a
cast of characters surrounding her," she said, pointing to
several of the photos. "Apparently, she lives with some old
guy who evidently found her -- and his girlfriend, a
semi-notorious 'worthy cause' lawyer who used to work for Bruce
distastefully at Dinah's picture, an intimidating pose caught
while she was snarling at the trespassing cameraman.
"The kid used to
hang out with a bunch of skaters, but they basically have the
attention span of trout, with a vocabulary to match. They're
She went on.
"There's a bunch of retired Russian ex-pat geezers at the
apartments where she lives, and they know a lot about her, but
they're not even talking to the KGB, let alone any newspeople.
Then there's this computer geek..."
Ken gave an
appreciative whistle at Jimmie's picture. Lanna was in the same
shot, standing next to him.
"Who's the, uh,
young lady with him," he asked.
Louise rolled her eyes
heavenward. "That would be Mrs. Oldsen, Jimmie
Oldsen's wife. They own and operate Exocybernautics, which
is a NASA contractor that..."
he interrupted, "There's always a weak link that can be
exploited to get our man -- or girl, in this case. Maybe I
should fly down there to Houston and personally have a talk
with, uh, some of her associates. Do a little field work, if you
know what I mean." He held up the photo of Lanna and
Whatsisname for a closer look.
Yeah, I know
exactly what you mean, thought Louise. Pig...
that's what investigative journalism is all about," he
Louise knew he was
just being a creep for her benefit, as if he thought it might
egg her on a little. She hated that. It was disrespectfully -- and clumsily
-- manipulative, and completely unnecessary.
said, maybe a little too defensively, "I've looked at
everything about her I can get my hands on and made every kind
of call possible. None of her friends appear willing or able to
act on her behalf as far as the press is concerned. The girl
herself is evasive. I sent Steve and Jan down there and they're
practically camping out on her doorstep, along with about a
"Yeah, yeah, yeah
-- I know all about that. Look, you need to get with it,
Louise. Burn the midnight oil, if you have to. I don't care what
you do, but get me that interview. This is the big one,
and I'll be damned if I'll let it get away from me. She's mine,
you understand? And you're going to get her for me."
Louise gritted her
teeth. She looked at him as if she was about to say
something, but the moment passed. Sonofabitch, she
thought. Why do I put up with this crap? The
thought crossed her mind for about the millionth time that she
could be making a whole lot more money working somewhere -- anywhere
-- else. For someone who would show her a little
appreciation. She angrily swept up her papers and photos.
Ken seemed to suddenly
realize that he'd gone too far. He whipped off his glasses and
loosened his tie with a quick tug, somehow transforming himself in the process.
Softly, almost apologetically, he said, "Louise...
He reached out and
took her hand. "Hey, I'm sorry," he told her, looking
the part of someone who was perfectly sincere. "You know
I'm no good at any of this without you. I need you now, and I
swear I'll make it up to you when all this is over,
She looked at him,
into his eyes. She had wanted to lash out at him, but found
herself wavering uncertainly. She found herself mumbling,
"Yeah, sure, OK."
you," he said, as if he meant it.
She nodded, mentally
kicking herself for being his perpetual doormat. She knew that
he was just being his normal, insensitive self, but that was the
way he was. It was part of what made him good at what he did. It
was his job to be pushy and arrogant -- and then make his
victims love him. They did, too. So did she.
So now what was she
going to do? Dammit. She pounded her keyboard in
frustration a few times. She stared at her monitor as if maybe
an answer would pop up. Finally, almost irrationally, she
started her email program.
Alien..." she started. No, to hell with that.
"Dear Space Creature..."
Nah, the 'dear' part is too friendly. She cleared it
and started over. Forget the salutation.
here, you little monster. You're a goddam guest on our planet.
What the hell do you mean teasing everybody like you're doing?
We want some answers and we want them now."
Ah -- that's
get your alien butt over here to the Daily Planet building this
instant. I'm Ken Clark's producer and you belong to us. You're
gonna spill your guts on a prime-time special the whole world
will watch, and we're not gonna take any Twilight Zone crap from
This is fun.
you're not getting a dime, either. You owe us, pal. Everybody's
knocking their brains out trying to get your attention and you
won't give us the time of day. Well, I'm sick of your attitude,
sister. Give it up or go back to wherever the hell you came
That's telling her.
She clicked the exit
button and the dialog box asked her if she wanted to send her
unsaved message. She hesitated, then clicked 'Cancel'.
What the heck, she
thought giddily. Might as well send it. It'll just come back
anyway. But it'll make me feel better...
"susan@..." in the address bar and stopped. She
thought a while and added, "space." Well, she's not
a dot-com or a dot-org or a dot-gov. Finally, she finished
with, ".ufo." Almost as an afterthought,
she added the 'P' after 'Susan', the way it was on her NASA
Wonder what the 'P'
stands for? Louise knew -- as did probably every journalist
by now -- that the kid went by the name Sara Corel. It wasn't
exactly a well-guarded secret. For some reason, she just
preferred to use the name 'Susan' in public. Susan P.
Louise looked hard at the name.
Susan. Suzy. Sue -- wait a minute...
Her sudden laughter
made everyone in the office outside her door look up. She
quickly added a PS to the email.
damned well better talk to me because I know what the 'P' stands
She clicked the send
button before she could change her mind.
And then stared
blankly at the screen for what seemed like an hour. Nothing
happened. I'm losing it, she finally admitted to herself.
She turned off the computer and started to get up. The phone
Her private line. The
hotline. Only a very few people had the number, and they knew it
had to be life or death to use it. Except for Ken, of course.
She reached for it.
the girlish voice on the other end queried. "Sorry it took
so long to get back to you, but the switchboard operator
wouldn't connect me to your office phones. I finally had to try
this line. I hope you don't mind."
Louise was a little
disconcerted, maybe more than a little suspicious, and was
trying desperately not to be wildly hopeful.
"And you would be...?" she replied guardedly.
"Susan. I got
"How did you get
my email?" She did not dare fall for some kind of prank.
She'd been in this business too long.
"Well, um... I
sorta get every email, in a way. Mostly, I never actually see
'em unless it's from someone I know, but yours kinda jumped out
at me, if you know what I mean. I hope you don't take this
wrong, but it was very funny. And cool. And you're right. I've
been meaning to talk to someone, like an interview kind of
thing, but I didn't know who or how I should go about it or if
anyone was really all that interested."
Yeah, I'll say we're interested. Louise was still
whoever-you-are. Anyone can call up and say they're whoever they
want to be. For all I know, you're some kind of hacker, or
somebody I know who is yanking my chain."
voice replied. "I guess so. Um... How about if I come over?
It won't take me long to get there. I know where it is 'cause
the address is on your website. What floor you on? And do you
have a window? North, east, south or west?"
Louise told her.
"OK. I think I
got it. See ya in a couple of minutes. Bye." The line went dead.
Louise walked numbly
into the outer office as if entranced. One of the young research
assistants looked at her and asked her if she was alright.
she replied absently. "Bring me some coffee, will you? To
my office. Get yourself some, too. Whatever you're doing, drop
it. I'm going to need a witness, maybe."
She walked back into
her office, sat down at her desk and tried to stare through the
frosted pane. When Jim came back with a couple of steaming
cups, she told him to close the door, then nodded at the window.
He followed her gaze.
The frost had
vanished, as if there was a heating element in the glass that
had suddenly been turned on, clearing it completely, inside and
out. No other buildings could be seen through the low clouds
which surrounded them. The street was hidden as well. The lights
glowing through the neighboring windows wanly illuminated the
figure casually drifting in the grey gale just a few feet away.
Her hair flowed wildly
around her, highlights from caught snowflakes glinting like
sequins as it tumbled and tussled. The bitter cold seemed to be
harmless to her, beneath her notice, unable to bite her with its
stinging rebuke. Her cape billowed magnificently, at its own
majestic pace independent of the furious wind, a dramatic
backdrop against which she was gloriously displayed. She was a
study in effortless levitation, heedless of the giddy height and
unfazed by the storm's commotion, anchored to nothingness by her
She waved cheerily at
the staring figures inside. Louise's private phone rang in her
office. The apparition held up her right hand, middle fingers
closed, thumb and little finger extended. She held her thumb
against her ear -- mimicking a telephone -- and 'spoke' into
her little finger, mouthing, pick up the phone.
"You can close
your mouth now, Jim," Louise said to her companion. She
punched the speaker button on the phone.
"Hi, Ms. Layne.
Who's your cute friend?" The girl's voice in the phone was
crystal clear and synched perfectly to her moving lips.
incoherently, finally managing to make a sound that was
something like his name.
"Nice to meet
you, Jim. I'm Susan. I mean, I don't have any kind of ID or
anything, but, uh... Well, just like the pictures, huh...?"
Louise confirmed. "Alright. So you're ready to commit to
being interviewed on Deep Inside with Ken Clark?"
"Sure, if you
want. I can come inside and we can talk."
"No -- wait a
minute. I don't want you going through the lobby like that. I
want to get this nailed down before everybody and his
uncle knows about it. How about the roof? There's a door up
there to the helipad."
The girl shrugged.
Louise turned to Jim.
"Find the super and get him up here right away."
"You mean, Mr.
"Yeah, today. As
in now. He's probably in the basement, where the printing
presses used to be."
Jim took off. Louise
called after him, "Make sure he has his keys with him. And
don't say a word to anyone."
Louise turned back to
the window, half wondering if the girl would still be there.
"I hate to keep you hanging around..." she said
mind," Sara replied. "So what do you think the 'P'
stands for? And how'd you figure it out?"
Sara/Susan thing. OK, this is just a guess, but I think Sara is
who you are, someone who feels she's really not all that
different from the rest of us, your human side. Am I
The girl outside the
window nodded, looking very impressed at this stranger's
Louise went on,
"So Susan is the alien part that's made up to look like a
comic book character, with all that goes with it. Obviously, you
were meant to function in that role -- but that's not really
'you'. It's more like your job."
the girl agreed.
"I don't think
you're all that comfortable with the 'S', are you? It's just too
obvious and blatant. If you really embraced what your aliens had
made you into, you wouldn't have come up with the Susan name.
But everybody's going to see you as the character you were meant
to portray, anyway."
Sara was grinning
"So the 'P' -- that stands for the rest of your name for your role. It's
a joke, isn't it? To keep the whole thing in perspective. A way
to accept the obvious without anyone having to take it too
seriously. Especially you."
"Looks like you
nailed it, girlfriend."
Louise was grinning now. "I haven't the foggiest idea. I
lied about having figured it out."
Sara looked completely
"And since I
didn't figure it out, your secret's safe until you decide
to tell everyone. Like in front of a worldwide audience on our
show." Louise rolled her eyes up in mock dismay. "Gee --
it's too bad I wasn't able to come up with that little
tidbit of pre-interview research. I hope Ken doesn't get too
upset with me..."
The girl outside
seemed puzzled for a moment, then looked slyly through the
window at Louise. "Ah... You're devious, aren't you? I
think I'm beginning to like you."
They both laughed.
It wasn't long before
Jim came back with the venerable Mr. Whyte, whose eyes nearly
popped out of his head when he looked through the window.
ghost!" he sputtered.
Perry," Louise replied. "Not quite."
the voice-over announcer concluded, "Ken Clark."
Ken greeted Sara
directly, "Good evening, Susan." The weeks of promo
for the live broadcast had been supplemented by a great deal of
speculation and anticipation, even among rival networks. Ken
didn't need to waste any time on the customary preliminaries or
introductions. She was in her uniform, so it was unlikely that a
channel-surfer (if there were any, in this case) would have to
guess who his guest was. Currently, her picture was on every
single magazine at the supermarket checkout stand.
Sara was relaxed and
comfortable in an overstuffed armchair on the carefully informal
set, half-facing Ken's customary desk in the usual manner of
talk shows. She had plenty of room to scootch around as
necessary, in typical teenaged fashion. "Thanks for having
me on your show, Mr. Clark."
"Ken -- please," he smiled in his most winning manner. "We've
seen so much about you in the news these past few weeks, from
your debut at the NASA press conference to your amazing exploits
in Singapore. The popular press is full of details about your
astonishing attributes. Yet all of this coverage has focused on
your -- please forgive me -- alien nature. Is there a human
side to Susan?"
"Sure, Ken. I'm
not gonna make like I'm just a regular old normal girl-type
teen, 'cause, well, you know -- I'm not. Most of the time I like
to think of myself as no different from anyone else, but I have
to deal with a lot of weird stuff sometimes. Still, I honestly
believe I'm basically a real person. I mean, I like to eat and
sleep and watch movies and listen to music and read and shop and
hang out with my friends. I've got parents -- like foster
parents, actually -- regular people who love me and try to make
sure I turn out sorta decent, even though I can be a lot of
trouble (that's for sure). And teachers, though I didn't exactly
go to a regular school. I think I drove most of them
"Do you have a
She managed to look
positively embarrassed. "Well, I guess -- I sorta did
once. Not these days, though. I... I like boys, and stuff. You
know. But I don't think any kind of -- well, I guess
you might say relationship -- would ever work out in the long
run. That's something that's different about me, alright. I,
like, don't grow or anything. I'm sorta stuck where I am, where
I've always been. It doesn't look like I'm ever actually gonna
grow up and get married and have kids and all that. I guess
that's the hardest part of what I have to accept about the way
the Cryptoaliens made me. When I really think about it -- considering all the rest of it
-- I guess it's best that way.
But I don't have to like it..."
Cryptoaliens -- the unknown beings who created you... What can
you tell us about them?"
That's why they're called that. Crypto means 'hidden',
basically. They're aliens that nobody knows anything about,
"Yet as a
computer, essentially, can't you access any kind of information?
Aren't there some messages or instructions or clues of some kind
in your memory banks?"
absolutely sure about that. I've got a friend who's a really
good computer hacker, and there's Dr. Belloes, the NASA
psychologist. We've been through all sorts of stuff to see if
anything would pop up. I can sorta access everything that's
there, or at least see what there is to access. Believe me,
"Are there any
more like you on our planet?"
"Uh-uh. I'd know
it, too. Someone like me would stick out like a sore thumb. And
the guys who track satellites would be able to tell, 'cause when
I travel real fast, it makes some of 'em bob up and down a
"Should we be
concerned that there might be more alien visitations in the near
"I can't really
say. But I don't think there's anything to worry about. I mean,
they coulda made me look and act like the robot from 'The Day
the Earth Stood Still', I suppose. I think they purposely made
me out to be the least scary fer sure alien possible."
true," he said. "If you represent an alien invasion,
I'd have to say you're the cutest and friendliest one anybody
Sara could only smile
prettily at that, proving his point.
morphing?" he asked. "Scientists speculate that your
form is the way it is because of something like programming. Can
you change it?"
"You know, I
should be able to, you'd think. I've tried it, but nothing
happens. The way I am now, it's like really a basic part of me.
I think the definition of invulnerable means I can't be changed
-- you know, injured or altered or rearranged. Not even by
She held up her left
arm. "I don't have bones or anything. So I should be able
to bend my arm backwards at the elbow. There's no, like,
mechanical reason I can't. Except that I can't." She flexed
her arm a few times. "See? Perfectly normal."
added, "there's apparently no force or substance on Earth
that can prevent you from moving your arm if you feel like it.
It apparently doesn't matter if there's a battleship tied to it,
or if there's a mountain in the way."
"Yeah. I'm pretty
strong, I guess," she said almost resignedly, as if she was
discussing having athlete's foot. "I'm a regular flying
"For which the
residents of Singapore are very thankful. We've all seen the
home videos of your heroic actions on behalf of the
Sara looked somber.
"Ken, there was absolutely nothing 'heroic' about what I
did in Singapore. I'm glad I was able to help, but the heroes
are all over there. Not me."
Ken raised his
eyebrows for camera three.
She continued, "I
can't imagine that any normal person would ignore their
neighbor's house burning down. You can't turn your back on
something like that. The second I 'heard' the news chopper's
radio and picked up the geological data, I knew I had to go and
do what I could -- even though I was at that White House thing.
As soon as the President officially welcomed me to the planet, I
knew I was really a part of the world, and -- like everybody
else -- I have to accept the responsibility to do what I can do
to help out if I can."
"But, look," she went on. "It
didn't cost me any money, the effort involved didn't wear me out or
make me tired, and I was never in any kind of danger. All of which
isn't true for the people I tried to help. Some of them lost everything
or even died helping others. There were so many I coudn't save -- some
who were terribly mangled or burned, some of them who died in my arms,
some of them I had to abandon, knowing they would die, so that I could
try to save others. So many of the ones who survived -- their whole
lives are changed. They may never recover."
She paused, looking
somber beyond her years. "There was a moment when it was
just all too much for me to take. I was so upset at the
hopelessness of it all that I cried like a baby. Yet these
people, whose friends and families were dead or dying, whose
homes and lives were in ruins -- these people came up to me,
took me in their arms, and comforted me. Gave me the
strength to go on. I really owe them a debt I can never
She turned to look
directly into camera two and spoke a short phrase in what
sounded like Chinese, then bowed her head respectfully.
Fade to black. Cue
Most of the rest of the
show was comparatively inconsequential, with Sara babbling
happily about her fave movie stars and singers, recounting some
of her travels around this planet and a few others, and mostly
acting like a normal kid. She was as charming as she was
designed to be and essentially conquered the world that night.
Ken started his wrap-up, "Where do you go from here? Have
you given much thought to how you plan to organize your public
"Well, I'm not
gonna do the comic book thing and be a crime fighter." She
made a face. "Aside from the fact that it sounds stupid,
there's not really a whole lot I can do. I mean, I'm not a cop
or a lawyer or a vigilante. And there's way too much crime for a
thousand of me to even make the slightest dent. But even more
than all that, crime is a human problem and I don't think it's a
good idea for me to interfere much in human problems."
taken an active role in some respects," he reminded her.
"Yeah, but it
would be a big mistake for people to rely on me to protect them
or solve their problems. People have to protect themselves, for
the most part. Even if I was able to catch everybody who fell
off a cliff -- well, there's a lot of people who shouldn't try
to climb a cliff in the first place. The ones who fall generally
manage to keep the population of cliff climbers down to a
reasonable number by their example."
said, "People have to solve their own problems, especially
when it comes to other people. Take the crime thing. Like drugs,
for instance. The government has pretty much proven that trying
to arrest all the suppliers can't be done and doesn't work
anyway. If I could somehow manage to find every drug dealer and
producer there is and drop them on the other side of the Moon,
that would drive up the prices so much that others would take
the risk and there would just be more of them, faster than I
could round them up. The solution is in getting rid of the
demand, and the government is pretty useless there, too, just
like I would be. This is a problem that can only be solved by
people reaching out to each other and making the need for
drugs stop happening. That's gonna take really super
powers, like love, respect, responsibility, tolerance,
opportunity, equality, commitment, honor, decency, teaching,
forgiveness and common sense."
"Does that mean
you won't intervene at all?"
said, "I just did -- didn't I? I mean, here I am, with I
don't know how many people watching right now. On the one hand,
I'm just a regular girl who has trouble with boys and eats too
much -- and on the other hand, I'm this powerful creature from
some planet nobody's ever heard of. I'm telling you stuff that
you already know, but maybe it's different coming from me
somehow. Will it make any difference to anybody? Change things?
It could, if a few people decide to do something that they might
not have thought about doing before. That's up to them."
"It's like the
Singapore fires after the quake. There were way too many of them
for me to try and put out. All I could do was bring in a little
water, and even then I needed a lot of help. It was the people
there that figured out how to get the water on the fires and did
all the work. Sure, I helped. But the real work didn't even
start until after I'd left. The rebuilding will take years, and
I'll bet you anything that the new Singapore is gonna be a lot
better and safer than the old one."
"You're being too
modest, Susan. You saved a lot of lives and there are people
there who are grateful for the things you were able to do. I'm
sure this will be true in more than just this one instance, but
also in other potential disasters still to come, natural and
potentially even man-made."
whenever I can. At least on some of the big stuff that looks
like it might overwhelm people. But all
I can do is bring in the water, so to speak, and maybe clear a
few streets, pick up a building or two..."
"And sound the
alarm," Ken added.
After the last break,
Ken headed into the final segment. "There's just one other
thing I want to ask you. I know you have another name for your
private life -- and even though it's no secret, I'll not
mention it in public. The nametag on your NASA overalls and some
of the studies that have been released identified you as 'Susan
P'. As I understand it, this is a name you selected for your
public life, in part as a way of differentiating your alien side
and some of your computer functions from your human
pretty complicated, Ken, but it's really not. It's like I'm a
normal person driving this alien robot-computer around, sorta. I
mean, it's me, but sometimes I think of it as not me, so I call
that part 'Susan'. And since when I'm out in public people are mostly
dealing with the stuff that the alien robot-computer does, then
they're really dealing with me as 'Susan'."
said Ken a little uncertainly. "But what I really want to
know is what the 'P' stands for. Is it a last name? Or some kind
"It's like a
symbolic last name. You really wanna know? It's kinda
everybody wants to know, Susan."
"OK. Got a
pencil? It's spelled P-U-R-G..."
Ken wrote it down on
his notepad. "Uh-huh."
Ken looked at the name
he's written and pronounced, "Purr-jerl."
"No, with a hard
'g', like 'get'."
He looked slightly
puzzled, as if trying to discover some significance to the name.
He tried again: "Purr-grrl."
"But you can call
me Sue, Ken."
There may have been a
planetary groan of Richter proportions. Nobody ever called her
Chapter Thirty: Money
© Patrick Hill,