The smile of anubis, p.3
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       The Smile of Anubis, p.3

           Alexandra Serbay
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Adam Lance had been an obedient child. He was a diligent student, never pulled the girl’s hair and never fought with other boys. Growing up, he, unlike the other kids, was polite all the time and tried cigarettes only once. He always helped old ladies cross the street and Mom with the groceries and dishes. He chose a useful profession, married early, was faithful to his wife, had two children, regularly went to Church and helped his sister as much as he could! He was doing everything that a good man is supposed to do, and he was a good man!

  “This choice was right too. Yes, it was right and efficient! I am young, I have to take care of my family and children! After all, I am a talented teacher: my class is the best in the city, I am increasing the school’s rating, forming the minds of the youth, I am able to give a lot to this world! And Zoe? What is a sick and lonely person able to give? Nothing! She has no family, well, not counting myself as it is a different thing. She’s got no husband and no kids, and her future is a continuous torture for her and the others!

  Whatever is said, people are not born equal and life takes them apart even more. Some people are more valuable than others. It is obvious! Anyway, no one has the right to ask such a sacrifice of me! I am a husband and a father! Why would she even ask for my help in such a situation? She is an adult independent person and must solve her problems on her own! I have been doing even more than most brothers would! And what did I get in return? Yes, what? Nothing at all! A rare thank you? A sense of fulfillment? For all that I did for her!”

  Adam spent a long time pacing around the bathroom, then he moved to the kitchen, where he rehearsed and repeated every thought, argument and word multiple times while drinking coffee. As a result, the morning found Mr. Lance reborn: his shoulders broadened, his head was higher than ever before, his eyes were gleaming with the light of truths he discovered and when he looked in the mirror, he saw a radiance of a martyr’s halo around his disheveled brown hair.


  “The World shall arise from the ashes of the old life

  When thrice is born

  the two mothers’ son”.

  From the sacred book of Lihato Ilumari,

  The Prophet of the United Universal Church

  I will never forget the day I saw Thirteenth for the first time. That day my life took a sudden turn, although I am not sure that the life I live was ever really mine.

  I had just turned six. It was the beginning of summer: already warm, but the choking heat was not there yet to drain your hair and throat dry. We had just finished our lunch, and my nanny came into the room to take me for a walk in the garden, when the door burst open and the black woman stormed in. Her cheap black dress, a long black caftan too warm for the current weather, huge sparkling black eyes and orange-brown skin – everything was screaming of poverty and Tarsian origin.

  Higher gravity and lack of light that were usual for underground settlements of industrial planets resulted in larger eyes, thicker bones and squat bodies of their residents. But only Tarsians were the owners of dark, reddish-brown skin, because of local water. There were some elements in it that could not be filtered by any means known to humans. These elements were not dangerous for people. On the contrary, scientists who had been studying this phenomenon came to a conclusion it was because of the unique water composition that life expectancy on Tars reached three hundred years, whilst it was at best two hundred and seventy on any other planet.

  It seemed that an elixir of longevity had been found, but no matter how hard chemists tried, they could not recreate this miracle water. Being taken from Tars, the healing elements would just disintegrate, regardless of the efforts made to preserve them. Very few people were ready to spend their lives bearing the hardships of a red planet for the sake of thirty extra years, if they had an opportunity to avoid it.

  I had asked myself many times why I was so unlike my parents, and even asked others the same question: my father would pretend not to hear what I had said, however, he purposefully and successfully did not notice me most of the time; my nanny would start telling me some old tales about extinct animals and wandering worlds until I fell asleep; my mother would babble something incoherent about grandparents, kiss me on the top on my head and run off to a meeting of one of the multiple women societies she attended to solve the problems of starving children from the outskirts of the colonized Space, or to decide fates of provincial artists and poets, or to discuss endless amendments to all sorts of contracts that were the basis of Tarsian society and a stifling hand to life in all its manifestations.

  As the unexpected guest appeared, scrambled thoughts started roaring in my head. I continued to stare at this Black Woman, unable to turn away, even when my mom pressed me to herself in awe before handing me over to the nanny, brave Clementine immediately barred me with herself and I had to watch what was happening by peeping out from the folds of her wide skirts.

  “Who are you?” My mother’s hoarse voice trembled a little. A thin hand stretched to straighten an impeccably-laid high hair, but stopped in the middle of the way and, going down on the knee of its mistress, began to stroke the soft blue fabric of her long dress.

  Thirteenth later told me that at that moment he was pondering on the strangeness of our planet: the inhabitants of Renaissance, who rejected harmful technologies, leading the lifestyle of the Terrain European elite of the eighteenth century that was described in the ancient literature. Water and solar engines, artificial atmosphere system and robotized manufactures allowed this fantasy to those, whose ancestors had more or less decent fortune, when living on the blue planet.

  State art support and development programs had been attracting all sorts of men of arts and creative personalities from around the galaxy. As a result, the planet and its entire solar system had become a source of beauty, a hotbed of strange and a greenhouse for the inexplicable.

  Despite the progressing bureaucratization of life, one could find something that could not be bought, explained by profit or prescribed by a contract in this corner of the Universe.

  What struck him most was that we dressed in such an uncomfortable eight centuries old fashion and that we did not use the commonly accepted nominal structure, borrowing earth names from different cultures and eras, and mercilessly mixing them instead. My mother, for example was called Elizaveta Vacharaporn Manuela Ai. Her maiden name – Vasquez, her married name – Jones. My fathers’ name was simple Darcy Luis.

  The standard nominal structure reflected not only the name, but also a year, the city and the birth planet of the person. That simplified the life of multiple clerks who now needed to ask a single question to obtain all the necessary information. Our system was unique, being used as a reproach to comfort and simplicity.

  “Who are you?” Mom repeated, glancing at her husband, who was calmly smoking his usual afternoon fragrant cigar.

  No one could have imagined that we were facing the metamorph “Organic 1397” with serial number 132713, who was called Liquid Metal in honor of his great, though fictional, ancestor from the long-forgotten absurd film. It was always difficult for me to imagine that films were once not only non-interactive, but also two-dimensional. It was even more difficult to understand how a character from an entertaining picture could have become the progenitor of robots – metamorphs, which are considered the apex of the engineering thought.

  We all saw a woman who silently handed my mother an incredible paper document, which I have never seen anywhere else, except for the cozy outskirts of the planet where I managed to be born. The document certified that she, Tyra 2634 Div Telek Tars, was the biological mother of six-years-old AnasAsiy Sieggy Tayiin Div, who happened to be me.

  “It cannot be!” exclaimed Mom, after studying the writing. She put the paper on the table and, for some reason neatly straightened it, then stood up, took a few steps in one direction, then into the other, tearing with her long fingers the lace handkerchief that was grabbed from a table by her
self-willed left hand. “Sr. Jones, please confirm, we were told that AnastAsiy’s mother died during childbirth!”

  As an answer to that, silent Tyra held out the second document.

  The permission to reunite the family looked even more impressive: a huge seal, ribbons hanging down, and ornate letters. Mom turned pale and slowly sank into a chair.

  “I believe Mr. Jones is able to confirm something else: Six years ago one immigrant who gave birth to a boy in the hospital of St. Rembrandt was deported on his orders. As it turned out, under the new law on the restriction of the social, racial, religious and sexually-oriented stratification of the Renaissance society, it was forbidden for her to enter and stay on this planet. At the same time her child was pronounced a rene-citizen and the property of state and she was not allowed to take him with her. And what Mr. Jones is not able to confirm to you, having no idea about it, is what this poor woman has had to go through having no money, no connections, no religion, being orange-skinned and heterosexual to get a revision of this decision in the Supreme Galactic Court and get a permission to get her son back.” The reserved words of the black woman were generously sated by depleted indignation.

  Not a bit embarrassed,
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