Wetweb, p.1Robert Haney
Robert R. Haney
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Copyright © 2011 by Robert R. Haney
All Rights Reserved
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By Robert R. Haney
“Synaptic Derivation is the root of the slang term ‘Synapped’ as ‘Synapped In’. When used in this context, Synaptic Derivation refers to the interface of sensations and remote control of a host body by a remote user over the WetWeb.”
“My Warmbot died today.” Franklin Tempo was careful to say it without any emotional intonations or facial expressions.
He knew any sign of emotion would be exaggerated by the synapse host he had rented for this meeting.
“Sorry to hear it,” Titus said.
Titus stopped shaking hands with Franklin’s host and stepped into his office.
Franklin perceived the desk, two chairs, and sparse display case. Titus’ office was austere. It had a few antique novels were on display, and on the wall there were colorful posters from old style movies that Franklin had never seen. The posters depicted tough guys with guns and soft ladies with thick hair and thin blouses. His desk included a Synapse Suit and a vid-phone. The panoramic window across the back of the office allowed light to sparkle across the clean glass surfaces of the desk and glass poster frames. This natural light made Franklin nervous. He navigated his host into the room and stood behind one of the chairs that was positioned to face the desk. He put the host’s hands on the back of the chair. He could feel the smooth coolness of the pseudo-leather surface. By anchoring his hands, Franklin was able to relax remote manipulations and not worry about the host unconsciously moving without his knowledge.
Titus was at a side table busying himself.
“Coffee Frank?” he asked.
“Sure, sounds great. Just black… thanks,” Franklin’s voice was the voice of the host, which was high pitched and girlish.
Franklin looked out through the wide window and onto the busy skyline of San Francisco, where he saw skimmers moving about on the steep streets below. Franklin’s gaze followed the line of the buildings down the streets and then swept out past the wharf and into the bay. Franklin admired the Bay Bridge rising from the morning mist.
Franklin guided the host to sit in the chair, expertly avoiding the small coffee table that separated the two chairs. He sat the host down quietly and crossed her legs. Franklin preferred petite female hosts. The lightness of their forms, their dexterity, and agility made them easy to manipulate remotely.
The smell of the strong coffee and the sound of steam filled the quiet office. Titus then placed a cup of coffee on the table between them and settled into the chair opposite. Both men knew from experience that a direct hand-off of a hot liquid to a host was difficult. Franklin lifted the cup and took a long sip. It was hot and rich.
“How did it die?” Titus asked politely.
“I am not sure what happened,” Franklin answered, “The organics were running a fever so I sent it to the dealership for maintenance. They called and said it died. I have to skim over this afternoon and deal with it.”
“Well, look at the bright side. Your insurance will cover it and you can bring home a new model,” Titus explained.
“I am sure you are right,” Franklin replied, and took another long sip of coffee to hide any possible expression of discomfiture that he might be transmitted to the host.
In truth, Franklin was sure that Titus was wrong. The insurance would not cover it because he had not been paying the premiums. Franklin was broke. The pulp he was turning in lately was not selling well. He knew it, and Titus knew it, but there was no need to discuss these failures. His plummeting pulp feature sales were the elephant in the room.
With no Warmbot and no way to replace it, Franklin would be forced to face Dolly and tell her they were out of funds. Without a Warmbot servant their social standing would also plummet. If this happened, Dolly would probably leave him. He tried not to think about it. Franklin felt his life was teetering on the edge of a precipice.
Titus Briggs was Franklin’s publisher and his lifeline, and Titus was his only connection into the mysterious world of the WetWeb. When Franklin turned in a pulp feature to Titus, they would work through a round of editing and then it went to into production. The feature publishing house of Brandon and Stern who published Franklin’s pulp features to the WetWeb was a massive multi-national information conglomerate that produced countless features across all genres of pulp and content. Titus Briggs was his link to this world.
Franklin savored the strong dry flavor and warming sensations from the coffee. It helped to focus him. This meeting had to go well.
Franklin said, “I want to write a content feature.”
Titus did not bother to hide his expression, which was disdain.
Titus responded saying, “Franklin, we discussed this before. You are a pulp guy. You have written some great pulp and I have other guys that I use to produce content features. By the way, your host is drooling a bit.”
Franklin dried his host’s mouth and chin with a tissue. Drooling was common and did not bother him. He was undeterred.
“I have an idea,” Franklin said.
“OK, tell me,” Titus replied.
“I want to do a bit on Al McKnight.”
Titus dismissed the idea with a wave of his hand, saying, “I have a guy covering McKnight already - an experienced content guy.”
As well he should. The execution of Al McKnight was shaping up to be the biggest content feature of the year. McKnight had led the Organic Robot movement back in the early days of the WetWeb. The story had everything that was needed for great content. It had the rise of a corporate empire, the introduction of world changing technology, and a great man meeting a tragic end.
Franklin could feel himself nervously sweating inside his Synapse Suit. He wondered how much his subtle anxiety was being transmitted and displayed by the host.
He tried again saying, “I want to write about the history of the WetWeb. A retro bit, nostalgia. You get the idea. McKnight was there, he can tell the real story.”
“I don’t think so Franklin,” Titus said firmly, “You’re a pulp guy. I need good pulp features.”
“I thought about that. What if I also turn in a pulp feature on the same topic? People will go for that old school stuff. There are still plenty of feature leeches that remember in the early days. The days when they were synapped into an actor, who played a cowboy in that Wild West game.”
“And this is your idea? This is your pulp feature? Running around like Cowboys shooting at each other? Sounds like every other Western pulp feature we have ever published,” Titus said irritated.
“This is different,” Franklin continued, “In this feature, we see the control room. We understand how the game was invented and then developed. It’s got action, but it’s still got good historic content too. We learn about the history of the WetWeb and we get to ride on horses and shoot at the outlaws.”
Titus was thinking.
Franklin pressed his case, “I’ll do the content feature on my own time. If you like it, you can post it. If not you will still get your retro-pulp.”
“You’re wasting your time,” Titus said, “Pulp writers do not break into content. If you want to waste your time on this I won’t stop you. But I am not sending you in to interview Al McKnight.
“Let me look through my assignment stack. I’ll send you something,” Titus said at last.
Titus stood a
Titus then turned and sat down at his desk signaling the end of their meeting.
“I will send you something, but not McKnight,” Titus said.
Franklin exhaled, “Thank you.”
Franklin synapped off from the host abruptly before Titus could change his mind.
Wetweb by Robert Haney / Science Fiction have rating 3.3 out of 5 / Based on39 votes