Did you hear what happened last chapter???
Qbit and the Professor have taken a transport and tram ride to The Company to check out their animal facility.
Back to the story…
They were led into a curved room with rows of seats that looked towards a beautiful wood paneled wall. The words The Company were carved into it and lit by bright lights hanging from the ceiling. The door closed behind them. They were alone again.
The Professor sighed. “How long do you think they’ll make us wait this time?”
Before Qbit could answer a loud screech of what sounded like feedback from a microphone echoed in the small room.
“Hello Professor and Qbit. I’m Chad, the CEO of The Company. I’m glad to finally meet the both of you.”
They both looked around for its source but didn’t see anyone. They moved further into the room to get out of the glare of the bright lights. They still couldn’t find where the voice had come from.
“Is there a problem?” the voice said.
“Um,” replied the Professor, “I can hear you but, uh, where are you?”
In a hushed and angry tone, the voice hissed “They can’t see me you fool. I told you to push the green button! THE GREEN BUTTON!”
Suddenly, a man was visible sitting in the middle chair in the middle row. His legs were crossed, and he was adjusting his tie. Only it wasn’t a real man but, instead, a holographic image of one.
Qbit and the Professor turned toward him.
“Is that better? New software, you know. Trying to work out all the glitches. Can you see me now?”
“Yes. Yes, we can” replied the Professor.
“Fantastic. Please have a seat.”
They sat in a couple of chairs at the end of the row.
“No, a little closer.”
They both got back up and moved over a couple of seats.
“Really?” said the Professor, looking annoyed.
“Just one more.”
Qbit said, “I think we’re close enough.” To prove his point, he reached out his hand and put it through Chad’s head, or what would have been Chad’s head if he was actually there.
“Yes, of course, perfect! Let me start again.” He looked down at a set of index cards in his hand. He cleared his throat with a couple of short coughs. “Hello Professor and Qbit. I’m Chad, the CEO of The Company. I’m glad to finally meet the both of you.” He stuck out his hand to shake theirs. However, neither of them extended theirs in return. It puzzled him for a second and he was about to say something before he remembered he was a hologram. He withdrew his hand quickly and said, “Oh, of course, what was I thinking?” He glanced at his cards again and said, “Hello Professor, and … oops, read that already. Ah, here it is. Professor, firstly, I would like to thank you for your dedication to The Company. Your break throughs in genetic engineering have been top notch. Secondly, I apologize for not meeting you in person but, I’m not, uhhh, feeling well, a bit under the weather. I thought this arrangement, (he made a circular motion with his hands) would be better for all of us. I hope you understand?”
She replied, “Yes, certainly…I think.”
“Very good. When I heard that you wanted to see, first hand, our methods of caring for the animals and how we extract the DNA samples you require, I made sure it was I who gave you the grand tour. Everything you are about to see was made under my direct supervision. I spared no expense. So please sit back and relax and let the tour begin!”
The seats made a small lurch then smoothly moved to the right. Chad’s image stayed were it was and they both ended up moving through him.
“The yellow button! THE YELLOW BUTTON! hissed Chad.
His image jumped back to the right and unexpectedly stopped between the Professor and Qbit. Chad’s image looked from one to the other and smiled apologetically before continuing to the right.It ended up back in the seat next to Qbit, turned to him, shrugged and said, “Hard to get good help these days.”
The seats continued to the right then slowly came to a stop. Directly in front of them, behind a large pane of glass, a medical lab came into view. In the middle of the lab, laying on an operating table, was a lion. However, instead of the lion laying on its side with a breathing tube in its mouth as it would be in a typical surgery, this lion was on its back with its legs stuck straight in the air. Its eyes and mouth were wide open as if it were caught in the middle of a roar. A doctor was standing over the animal with a syringe. It was hard to tell if it was a man or a woman because it had a mask covering his or her mouth and a surgical cap on his or her head. The movement of the surgeon looked almost robotic. It seemed to be repeating the same movement over and over.
The Professor looked at Q with her mouth hanging open. “What the…?”
“Uh oh, this doesn’t look good.”
“It’s amazing isn’t it?” beamed Chad. It’s auto erotica.”
From somewhere, a muffled voice yelled, “Animatronic, animatronic!”
“Animatronic” said Chad who was smiling from ear to ear. “I spared no expense.”
“Really?” said the Professor. “This is your demonstration as to how you obtain the DNA samples I use? I mean, this looks as if it were thrown together this morning. It’s unbelievable!”
“It is unbelievable, isn’t it” Chad replied smiling. It took him a moment then he said, “Hey!” Chad looked shocked at the Professors question. “No, no, no. This was developed by me and a team of specialists! It has to be good, right?”
The Professor shook her head in disbelief.
Chad’s demeanor changed quickly. He lost his smile and looked as though he was ready to explode. He caught himself and said, “Please, wait and see the rest before you make any harsh judgments.”
His image disappeared for a second, but they could still hear him. “Fools. Who do they think they are?”
“They can still hear you.”
“What? Damn! This isn’t going the way I wanted it to.” Chad whispered, “Just show them the stuff the media crew put together for the buyers.”
Chad reappeared still looking angry but quickly switched back to a smile. The seats started to move again, and the image of the lab thankfully disappeared from the screen.
This time the seats came to a stop in front of a blank wall. An image of the company logo was flashed onto it, projected from somewhere in the ceiling. Next, a photograph of Chad appeared in front of the logo. He looked to be in mid-sentence as his mouth was open and his eyes were shut. He was dressed in a white suit jacket over a white Nehru shirt, white slacks and white shoes.
Chad’s holographic image turned to Qbit, poked him with his holographic elbow and said, “Looks like we get our clothes from the same place.”
Qbit nodded his head and said, “Looks like it.” He could feel the Professor hitting his thigh with her hand.
She leaned into him and whispered, “See, what I’d tell you?” She tried to contain her giggling but wasn’t successful.
Q stared straight ahead and pretended to ignore her.
The projected image of Chad on the wall turned out to be a paused video. Someone somewhere hit the play button. Chad started to speak, “Good evening Ladi…(the image jumped) Professor and Qbit. I am so glad you decided to come and visit my state of the art A.P.F., or Animal Processing Facility. I just wanted to mention that if it wasn’t for you both none of this would be possible. Thank you.”
The Professor noticed out of the corner of her eye that the holographic Chad was waving his hand, trying to get her attention. She looked over at him. He mouthed the word thank you and gave her a broad grin, showing off his perfect teeth.She smiled back and mouthed you’re welcome.
The Wall Chad continued, “In a few minutes you’ll go on a short tour of the facility, but first, I wanted to familiarize you with a few highlights. This facility was originally designed to house the many “host” animals that were needed to complete our custom beasts. But now, due to the development of the designer egg, we are no longer in need of them, so they have been sol… (another jump) …safely returned to their home planets and back to the loving bosoms of their original caretakers.”
Qbit thought, “Bosom? Who says that and how do you return an entire herd of animals to the bosom of a few caregivers? You’d think they would be crushed by the rush of all those animals trying to get back to their bosoms.” The mental picture that formed in his head made him smile. He looked over at Chad and noticed he was looking at him smile.Chad smiled back and gave him a thumbs up. Qbit replied with a thumbs up of his own.
Q looked over at the Professor and noticed that she had a puzzled look on her face.
“Everything okay, Professor?” he asked.
“Umm, did you see those glitches in his speech?”
“You saw the lab demo. I welcome a couple of glitches compared to that disaster.”
Wall Chad continued, “You may have noticed the lack of animals in the large outdoor containment areas on your walk over here.” Photos of large, empty containment areas came into view. “Today, this facility houses just a few “pure” animals that are occasionally needed to keep the DNA stock full and healthy. Those animals are kept in large separate open areas that have been modified to recreate the habitat of their home planet.”
Pictures of animals roaming large, clean looking areas were flashed up on the screen as he continued.
“Unfortunately, these animals won’t be part of today’s tour. However, you will get to view our DNA extraction lab…”
“I hope it’s better than the other one” said the Professor under her breath. She looked over at Chad. He had a hurt look on his face.
“…hopefully seeing it first hand will help answer any questions you may have concerning that process. We also have a few of your finished beasts here waiting for pick up. They are kept indoors, for their safety, in large enclosures allowing them to have the freedom to walk or fly around. They will usually only be here for a few days to a week as delivery to their new owners is arranged.”
The Professor leaned towards Chad and quietly asked if they will be able to see any of these beasts. Expecting him to say no, she was surprised when he replied “yes, of course.”
“In conclusion, here at The Company, we take pride in our animals. We… (another jump)… we produce only high-quality beasts and stand behind their purity one hundred percent. All bids…”
Qbit noticed the Professor rubbing her chin, a sure sign that she was upset.
The wall Chad suddenly went quiet even though his mouth was still moving. Then, when he seemed to be in mid-sentence, his image vanished. Holographic Chad immediately started talking,“Wow, that was really good, don’t you think?” He clapped his hands together and rubbed them rapidly. “Right, on with the tour!”
A set of double doors on the wall behind them opened inward. Standing on the other side was the smiling attendant. He took a step back and motioned for them to come through.
Not really sure how to word her question, the Professor said, “Are you, um, coming along with us Chad? I mean as a person, not an image.”
“No, I’m afraid not. Too sick. (He coughed into his hand) My attendant, Sterling, will take you. I hope you have enjoyed yourself so far. Thank you both for coming.” Before either of them could respond,he vanished.
The Professor and Q looked at each other. “You would think he would want to come so he could answer any of our questions and show off his amazing facility.” said the Professor.
“This has been nothing like what I had expected. Very interesting.” Qbit said as he made his way to the door.
Pushing past Qbit, the Professor said, “I agree. But now I really have to pee!”