Alone in his room.
Intricate work. Slow going. Dull intensity of limited time. The love of art.
Maccon moved the graphite shavings delicately with a boars-hair brush. Soft
glow from the light box beneath the shavings bathing his face. Like a child again, he thought to himself as the
image took shape. Like a child buried in sand, lit by the sun, moving the world beneath his fingers.
These thoughts never change, he realized. These thoughts of creation. They
were burned into him at birth and continued now even into his forties. I can create art. Simply. With little conscious
effort. It is my gift.
Beneath him the graphite spilled into the shape of a man. Then the somber face
of an old woman. Gradually into the penetrating stare of a pair of eyes.
I can create art.
But for how long...
* * *
Myoccular cataracts. Degenerative tissue damage. Incurable. A death sentence
to a man like Maccon. He'd heard talk of the disease when he first went to work for the Networks at fourteen. Mainly
from the older Mechanics in the construction labs. Some said it was the bio-rads that dripped from the monitors.
Others said it was the pseuphodrine pumped into the labs air supply to squeeze out those twenty hour work days.
Even if he'd known then that the rumors were true, Maccon would have ignored them. To be given the chance to create
was worth the price. All Mechanics understood this. It was why they were chosen by the Networks.
Why Maccon became their jewel.
They'd started him on skeletal construction. Months spent designing the delicate
bones of the hand. The fragile bat-like shape of the pelvis. Layering in the pieces to make way for muscle, then
skin, then tendrils of hair.
As he got better, Maccon could design flaws into the process. To create defects
that would produce limps. Sunken chests. Bow-legged hunched creatures of a nightmare.
He could also create beauty.
It was here the Networks found Maccon's true calling.
On his 28th birthday, they gave him a face.
* * *
Wind swept in from under Maccon's door blowing the graphite eyes into a corner
of the light box. Someone was entering the hotel. He turned around quickly, squinting into the darkness of his
Blindness. Still not used to how fast it was coming.
Trapped without his eyes in this hotel which was now his home. So far away
from the security of the construction labs that were once his life.
Reaching out, grasping at his furniture for guidance, Maccon found his clock
and brought its face up close.
He knew the comings and goings of almost everyone in the hotel. The regularity
of peoples rituals, he noticed, made him feel secure.
She was late tonight. Probably with one of her men.
They'd never met. Touched once, but only briefly, when Maccon had been coming
home with an arm load of groceries. She'd held the door for him. The moment replayed itself for him. Enough to
seal her image in his mind. He could create her now. Push the fine depressions of her face into the graphite.
He could create her now. Alone, in his tomb.
Stumbling. Maccon made his way back to the light box.
Several times he'd thought of talking to her. To invite her in to view his
treasures. His delicate works of art. Encased in the thousands of CD's littering his floor that the Networks had
let him keep when his cataracts became known to them.
When they cast him out.
Entire populations of children, animals, adults, all designed by his loving
hand. They could breath, if he chose. Dance. Make love. Just programs, though. Cold, lifeless computer code.
Suz's brief touch held more life. It was what had drawn him to her. There was
one CD though. One that was different. A CD the Networks did not know he had.
This, Maccon hoped, would make Suz understand why she had to help him. I can
create art. It is my gift.
Don't take that away from me.
Suz's face began to take shape in the light box.
* * *
The face the Networks gave Maccon on his 28th birthday belonged to Rita Carlyle.
A trip-com star, Rita had successfully bridged the gap from pORN to television. No small feat. There were only
a couple of starlets who could make this claim, and most of them didn't last. bLACK pORN and it's offshoots were
a tough trick to break. Those in the know said you could develop a taste for it. Hard to break.
Rita was an exception. A bi-sexual fuck/suck fantasy who just happened to have
the timing. Network hacks fell over themselves trying to please her. They'd struck gold, and they wanted to mine
it for as long as possible. Given a few years, with proper press, they could build another Network platform around
her. A 24 hour channel of just Rita Carlyle. The stuff of dreams.
Absolutely. Right on the money. Time to make a toast...
Then came the accident.
In brief, it went down like this:
Boyfriend. Fight. Too many pills. Downtown club. Too many drinks. Underage
girl-toy. Driving too fast.
They were barely able to piece Rita back together.
Which brings us to Maccon's 28th. Much was already in place when Maccon was
brought in. The Networks master plan had always been to turn Rita into a synth-star before age started to dig it's
pound of flesh. Mind you, Rita was already 20. Within a few years, the Networks knew, their investment would begin
A synth-star was just what it sounded like. Synthetic animations.
Actors. Male. Female. Animal. The brain child of an executive producer named
Mark Brady. Brady had made his millions in Hollywood piecing together news footage of car accidents, police shootouts,
and plane disasters into what he termed "real life docu-traumas". He devised the idea of synthetic animations
not long after the bombing of the 1998 Oscars, when half of Hollywood's elite were burned to death. The idea then
was to reanimate dead Hollywood.
Save the investment.
In the beginning, Brady's "synthetic instruments", as they would
come to be called, were limited to pre-existing footage of the star that was already on hand. Experiments had been
in the works before the bombing. Some instruments had already made it to the market place in the form of TV commercials
Crude recycling. Couldn't match the real thing. Not a viable investment. No
The bombing changed all that.
Mark Brady was smart enough to be there when it happened. Within two years,
the Mechanics division of ABC - now Entropa Televista - was born. Mechanics to play the instruments.
Brady reinvented himself in the shape of God.
Once the Mechanics had honed their animation skills, there was no looking back.
But Brady didn't stop at the dead. Old Hollywood, and the way it worshipped its stars, was over. Why bother with
rising salaries, OD's, sexual scandal. Once a performer was found, tested in the market place, found to be successful...discard
it for the synthetic.
HIL was born.
Human Image Licensing. A proven performer could market their image. Forever,
if the TVQ was good.
Hollywood and Mark Brady entered the 21st century arm-in-arm. Maccon, of course,
was barely born when much of this was going on. The synth-star was fact, not future for him. He had to admit, though,
he was shocked when Mark Brady himself came down to the Mechanics workshop to talk about Rita.
Brady by this time was well into his hundreds. He was being kept alive in a
neoprene suit that was submerged in a vat of glycerol where perfect body temperature could be maintained. The effect
made the legendary executive look like a large fetus floating in a Plexiglas womb. The image of perpetual life
was not lost on those who met him. The two talked long into the night about art, and its place in evolution. Brady,
you see, was not an artist. Nor did he make any overtures of being such.
Oh, but the love of art was there...
"To create, God has always needed the hands and mind of someone who can
do it for him."
Thus went the gospel of Mark Brady.
Rita, of course, would be a challenge. There was very little of her instrument
prepared before the accident. Could Maccon piece her together and play Rita's instrument in time for the fall season?
The young artist saw his reflection nodding "yes" in the walls of Brady's vat.
It can be safely said, he was seduced.
* * *
The graphite image of Suz spread across Maccon's light box. Flickers from the
finite shavings made her dark features almost luminescent. He moved closer to stare into the cold eyes.
From the hallway he heard a door close. Suz safely hidden away for the night
in her own tomb.
With the back of his hand, Maccon wiped her face away.
Pushing himself onto the floor, he felt for a diamond shaped CD case, and released
its disc into his hand. Ran the tips of his fingers along the face. A wingless angel slept inside, sealed much
like himself and Suz. The only thing he could truly say he'd given life to. The one piece of art that if played
correctly, could breath meaning into his dead world.
With Suz's help, he knew he could give it life again.
A life stolen by Mark Brady.
I can create art. It is my gift.
Gently, Maccon returned the disc to it's case.
Good night, Rita.
We'll be reunited soon.