Travel Broadens: Episode 21

Cristal is thinking about a summer in his childhood spent by a lake ~~ happiness fun ~~. He and Bibi are experimenting with free emotions again.

Bibi smiles, enjoying Cristal's nager.

Cristal ~~ remembers ~~ the rope swing hanging down over the lake from the birch trees. He's physically sitting in the Hannard's Ford Collectorium, such as it is, but mentally he's swinging on that rope, letting go at the extremum, and ~~ splooshing ~~ down into the ~~ cold ~~ water on a ~~ hot ~~ summer day.

Bibi ~~ startles ~~ a bit at that effect, but enjoys it nonetheless.

Cristal watches Bibi's face and ~~ smiles ~~ at her very obvious enjoyment.

Bibi: What was that one, Cristal?

Cristal: Something that happened two years before I established.

Bibi: ~~ inquiry ~~

Cristal recites slowly and meditatively:

So was I once myself a swinger of birches;
And so I dream of going back to be.
It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.

Cristal pauses for a while and adds:

One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

Cristal: That's all I can remember of the poem. It's about jumping off a rope into a lake. ~~ thoughtful ~~

Bibi strokes Cristal's hand ~~ comfortingly ~~

Cristal is ~~ comforted ~~ by Bibi's touch.

Cristal: I spent a whole summer doing that, or that's the way it seems anyhow.

Bibi enjoys the bittersweet ambient, remembering the best parts of childhood as an adult.

Fox walks along the road to the Sime Center gate, fumbles with the latch, and finally gets the gate open. He walks a short way up the path, stops, and removes his battered old hat.

Fox speaks loudly and proudly, with an accent that is neither local nor Simelan.

Fox: Barrysboy Fox is here!

Fox waits ~~ patiently ~~ to be acknowledged or repulsed.

Bibi is startled and tries to zlin the Gen at that distance.

Cristal: Oh, Bibi, that's one of the first-time donors who showed up when Hajene Darrel was here. But he didn't actually stick around to donate

Bibi: Invite him in, Cristal. I'll sit here and look harmless.

Cristal: [English] Will do.

Cristal walks to the door and opens it on its brand-new hinges.

Cristal: [loudly] Come in, come in!

Fox walks to the door and bows over his clasped hands toward Cristal, who is rather ~~ surprised ~~ but manages to bow back, though without the hand gesture.

Fox walks with Cristal to stand and bow before Bibi. ~~ pride ~~ courage ~~ calm ~~ He repeats his line from from outside, more quietly

Bibi: Hello, Mr. Fox. Welcome. I'm Hajene Bibi, and you've met Sosu Cristal. Would you like some tea and cookies?

Fox sweeps his hand to indicate Cristal and Bibi.

Fox: Blessed be they that are found.

Fox accepts a cookie, sniffs the tea, and jerks his head sharply upwards.

Fox: Water, if you please.

Fox, despite his ceremonious manners, is only about seventeen natal years.

Bibi: Of course. I believe the pitcher there is still full.

Fox lifts the pitcher to his lips and drinks from it daintily.

Fox: Your forgiveness, but this, this ...

Fox pauses, then goes on.

Fox: ... is rather large for my needs.

Bibi: You can pour water into one of those cups if you prefer.

Bibi is getting a bit ~~ concerned ~~ at the Gen's eccentric behavior.

Cristal spots Bibi's state of mind and ~~ ups the support level ~~

Bibi looks to Cristal, in case he has information from Fox's previous visit.

Fox: Ah. Please forgive my mistake. My people, they do not have these ...

Fox: [another pause]

Fox: things.

Fox pours water from the pitcher into the glass and drinks from the glass.

Fox: I live most far from the town, so I do not know the ways of townfolk. But it is said, it is said, that you can take from us, and you give money. My family, we need money! ~~ humor ~~

Bibi smiles charmingly.

Fox: [hastily] Not for food, you understand. But some things, like town clothes ...

Fox points to his clothes, which don't quite fit him; he's not wearing any shoes.

Bibi: Yes, most people need money, or at least, can find a use for it.

Fox: ~~ controlled eagerness ~~ So it is true?

Bibi: Yes. I'll be glad to take your donation. Have you read the booklets about it?

Fox: No. Read, we do not read, except the Elders. And they read only the Book.

Fox does his best to smile charmingly too.

Fox: You can tell me what I need to know?

Bibi: Of course. It's very simple. All you really have to do is sit quietly. You won't feel the selyn being drawn.

Bibi wonders if the Gen really knows what he's asking for. He seems a bit strange.

Fox: Sit quietly, yes. We have much practice at that.

Bibi: As you can see, I'm a Sime, but I'm also a channel. That means I can draw selyn from a Gen without harming him, store it in my body, and then give it to another Sime so that he can live without killing.

Fox: I see. Which Sime is that that you will give it to? ~~ curious ~~

Bibi: Most of the selyn I collect is sent to Simeland, but some I give to young people who are turning Sime here at the Sime Center, mostly children from the town and the farms around.

Fox: That is well, for it is written: "When you are invited, enter, and when you have taken the food, then disperse".

Bibi is ~~ puzzled ~~ by this, and is glad she has Cristal with her. Who knows what this young man will come up with next?

Fox: The man who was here when I came before, he did not do so. I saw that he had no heart for it. And so I left him, to return another day, and that is now here.

Bibi wonders whether Darrel didn't offer Fox tea and cookies.

Fox: But now: you will tell me where to sit quietly, and you will do that which must be done?

Bibi: Of course. Come with me. We'll fill out some papers, and I'll explain the process of donation to you.

Fox: That is well.

Bibi stands and gestures toward the donation room, using her tentacles as well as her hand, zlinning carefully for Fox's reaction.

Fox: ~~ surprise but no fear ~~

Fox walks to the donation room and sits on the wrong side of the donation lounge.

Bibi sits at the desk and takes out a fresh set of forms.

Fox: You will ask the questions, and I will answer. The other man, he asked questions also, but his manner lacked respect, for he feared me.

Bibi goes through the questions, and Fox answers them well enough to fill in the blanks adequately.

Fox: You speak well. And you do not ask the name of my father, for I have already told it to you, as you are strangers to me.

Fox smiles just a little.

Bibi: Your father's name is Barry?

Fox smiles a little more and nods.

Bibi smiles back.

Bibi: Okay, Mr. Fox. Let me tell you about donation. We'll both sit on the lounge there, and I'll take your hands, and hold your arms with my handling tentacles.

Bibi waves a few handling tentacles in demonstration.

Fox nods again ~~ calm ~~

Bibi: Then I'll put my lateral tentacles on your arms. They're smaller than the others, and have a selyn-conducting fluid on them which may tingle a bit, but it won't hurt. Lateral tentacles are very delicate and easily injured, so you'll have to stay still or you can hurt me.

Bibi notes that the donor continues calm and interested.

Fox: I will be still, for it is also written, "Throw not yourselves with your own hands into perdition; and do good, for God loves those who do good."

Fox is still both physically and emotionally.

Bibi: Then we'll touch lips, and hold for about a minute. When I've completed the donation, I'll release your arms, and write out a voucher for you.

Fox: That is a writing that is money? We do not know this writing.

Bibi: Yes, I'll write on a piece of paper the amount you donated, and the amount of money you should get. You'll take the paper to Mr. Nattin, who has an office down the hall, and he'll give you the money.

Fox lifts his head back, more gently this time, silently and reaches out his hands toward Bibi's. ~~ acceptance ~~

Bibi gets up and goes to the lounge.

Bibi: If you'll just move to the other seat....

Bibi gestures.

Fox gets up, walks around the lounge, and sits down again.

Cristal moves to the new neutral point.

Bibi sits in the channel's position and offers her arms with a friendly and encouraging smile.

Fox clasps her hands firmly ~~ calm curiosity ~~

Bibi: Just let me slide my hands onto your wrists... good... now I'll extend my handling tentacles... hold your arms lightly... So far so good?

Fox shakes his head.

Fox: All is well. ~~ meditation ~~

Bibi is a little surprised by the gesture not matching the words, but the nager matches the words, which is good enough for a Sime.

Bibi: Now I'll tighten my hold... extend my laterals... remember they may tingle a bit... good... now the lip contact.

Bibi bends forward to offer a lip contact to the donor.

Fox nods just a little and presses his lips against Bibi's, then holds himself perfectly still. ~~ deep meditative trance ~~

Bibi finds the Gen's psychological state quite unusual, and his physical condition that of a healthy young man. She easily drains his GN-3 level and anticipates being able to upgrade him in the future. She breaks the lip contact and dismantles her hold.

Cristal supports Bibi as she goes through recovery.

Bibi: Thank you, Mr. Fox. You did that extremely well.

Fox smiles broadly for the first time and extends his arms upward and outward.

Fox: "There is no God but God, and he is mighty and wise!" So we are taught, and it is true!

Fox realizes what he is doing, and where he is, and puts his arms down with a bit of ~~ embarrassment ~~. His face returns to near-impassivity and his nager to ~~ calm ~~.

Fox: So it is true. The Sime's touch, the Sime's kiss, these things need not kill.

Bibi hopes that Fox doesn't think that donation is the same as transfer, with dire consequences should he try to serve a changeover.

Bibi: Yes, donation to a channel is always safe, but it's certainly not the same for a Sime who isn't a trained channel.

Fox: ~~ serious ~~ We are not fools. We know that without training the Sime will kill.

Bibi: Good. Mr. Fox, you may want to take some booklets about changeover home to your Elders. If a child who is turning Sime can be brought here in time, we can save his life, and he can live without ever killing.

Fox's eyebrows shoot up.

Fox: You say this, and you do not lie?

Fox's eyebrows drop down again.

Fox: But it is very far away. I have journeyed for a day and part of a day to come here.

Bibi: I understand. I hope someday there will be a channel available for every child in changeover...

Bibi knows she can't save them all, but it saddens her.

Bibi: I can tell if a child has turned Gen, even before he reaches sixteen. So if you'd like to bring children of twelve and over to me, I can let you know when you need no longer worry about them becoming Sime.

Fox: ~~ heartened ~~ That is well. We will bring the boys here, and the girls too, when they have twelve years.

Bibi: I wish I could do more for your other children. ~~ sad ~~ resigned ~~

Fox: All things are done by the will of God. ~~ cheerful ~~ When shall I return?

Bibi: You can donate again in four weeks, but you and your people are welcome here any time.

Fox nods.

Fox: In four weeks I will come again, and bring my brother Wolf, who has thirteen years, and my sister Pigeon, who has twelve, if the Elders permit it.

Bibi offers Fox the voucher slip, and tells him what's written on it.

Fox takes the voucher from Bibi, holding it gently between his right thumb and forefinger. He clasps his hands and bows ~~ respect gratitude hope ~~

Bibi: You'll probably make more money in future donations. The amount you've donated today will give a Sime almost a month of life.

Fox: That is well, and it is well, and all is well.

Bibi: Let me show you where Mr. Nattin's office is.

Fox gets up and waits ~~ patiently ~~.

Bibi hopes that Nattin won't latch onto Fox's cultural peculiarities and give him a hard time in the name of science. She leads the way out of the donation room and shows Fox where to go.

Fox walks off in the direction Bibi indicates.

Cristal: [after a pause] Well, that was something else. But I don't know what.

Bibi: I feel... dishonest... when I take a donation from someone who lives too far away to bring a child in changeover here in time. ~~ sad ~~

Cristal: ~~ comforting ~~ Well, even if you can diagnose the Gens among them, at least you'll save them from being murdered for having an upset stomach.

Bibi: Yes. It will make their lives a bit easier, at least. I wonder... do you remember what Darrel said or did with this donor?

Cristal: He seemed totally professional to me. But perhaps he was a bit nervous, and perhaps Mr. Fox picked up on that.

Bibi: I can see how he would have made Darrel nervous. After all, Darrel has little experience even with mainstream out-T culture and Mr. Fox would seem even stranger to him than to me.

Cristal: His people, the Submissionists I think he said they were called, they seem to value calm courage, not bravado like they do here in the towns.

Bibi: Submissionists... I have heard about them.

Cristal raises one eyebrow.

Cristal: Really?

Bibi: I didn't know they had a colony in this area, although he did travel quite a way to get here.

Cristal: Yes, a day and a half, he said.

Bibi: They keep to themselves to avoid their faith being polluted by the general culture. They're mostly self-sufficient, and help each other a lot, so they need very little from the rest of the world.

Cristal: That makes sense. It would also account for the odd way he talks.

Bibi: Hm. If I recall correctly, their holy books are written in a different language, so that may influence their English, I suppose. Or maybe just the isolation from the mainstream.

Cristal: Mr. Fox certainly was showing a lot of calm courage himself.

Cristal's eyebrow goes up again.

Cristal: Or was it true fearlessness?

Bibi: I'd say it was true fearlessness, and not based on trusting me, either.

Cristal: Wow. If they're all like that --- ~~ surprise anticipation ~~

Bibi: If they're all that calm, it should be a snap taking their donations should they want to try it.

Cristal: If so, that would be quite a selyn pool. I wonder how many of them there are? Well, doubtless Professor Nattin will find out soon enough.

Bibi: I hope Nattin doesn't offend him. I hope he doesn't get a hard time from his community for doing something as unusual as donating.

Cristal: ~~ insight ~~ I'll bet the Elders sent him here to find out what's what. They knew he was a Gen, and perhaps they thought he was -- expendable.

Bibi winces.

Bibi: I suppose that would explain why they sent such a young man, if that's what happened. Rather cold-blooded... I wonder if Nattin knows more about their culture or religion.

Cristal: What he doesn't know, he can very probably find out, if they've been studied at all.

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