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Floozman: First Episode
Figs* and Riesling

* Depending on availability

by Bertrand Cayzac

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Vers la version originale

Part 9: After the Brainwash

“With a scandalous abundance, he brings deliverance”

Fred Looseman used to be the head risk assessor at World Wide Credit Corporation and the chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Commission. Now he works as an automated teller machine repairman.

Sometimes he hears voices, and sometimes what he hears moves him to tears. His bank account overflows with the money of deliverance, and he becomes a financial super-hero: Floozman.

After the brainwash, Fred and Martine savor a Riesling in the trembling shadow of the lime trees. Everywhere they look, on the flowing river or on the peaceful expanses of the plain, nothing ugly can be seen. In the vineyards and forests and over the village roofs, the light is filling with the greens it joyfully draws from the sweet sap.

“You know, Fred, sometimes I have the feeling that we’ve lived this moment thousands of times.”

“And the moment to come as well?”

“Yes...” Martine answers, blushing. Her shoulder blades move like wings, a habit she has not been able to break upon taking human form.

“Well, as for me,” replies Fred, “yesterday morning, before breakfast, I was struck by the carpet in the apartment. I have seen it somewhere before... It makes me feel uneasy. It’s a dumb thing to say, but I feel it’s associated with an expectation. Somebody expects something from me... I can’t see who it is, and I’m not going to look...”

Melanie and Siegfried take places at their table. “What if we escaped?” asks Melanie in a hushed voice.

“If you want, but what for?” Fred answers, smiling.

“Let me explain.” Melanie sighs. “I know everything now. Our trap is about to close on their organization. As soon as they have spotted this spacio-temporal bubble, the worldwide governance elite squads will rescue us.”

“Our trap? What trap? What organization?”

“You don’t remember anything, Fred, but the financial police agents have been inoculated against suggestion. We are partly bionic; did you know that? Our synthetic brain is equipped with many defenses. The reprogramming was deep, but Siegfried’s reptilian alert and reboot system saved us; you can thank him. He warned the governance, then he came to wake me up... We must act; financial stability is under threat!”

“Financial stability is under threat!!!”

“Yes, indeed. Whopping amounts are being injected every day through different circuits. Wake up! But let’s go and talk on the promenade. Siegfried will work on Martine. As for you, Fred, you’d better follow us... Well, come on.”

They start walking.

“Careful, we are coming across some people. Try to look normal. ‘Be seeing you’. Okay, fine, let’s sit down in this little square. Go ahead, Siegfried.”

Siegfried firmly clasps his hands behind Martine’s neck and stares at her with digital intensity.

“Ah!” Martine utters a faint cry. “But then... then, all this time...”

“We are prisoners of an interstitial brane,” explains Siegfried. “It’s very strong, but we know how to get out. I still don’t understand how the dwarves have such technology.”

“Okay,” says Melanie, picking up the topic. “The lady of the river certainly knows where the mummy is but her organization is standing in our way.”

“A mummy?” asks Martine.

“All the Mana is now concentrated in the corpse of Sophie, the wife of the accursed banker. She perished at the battle of Scherwiller in 1525. We suppose that she was embalmed by the survivors of the Eternal Council. We’ve got to find and neutralize her.”

“What if we went swimming instead?” Fred asks.

“Yes, I see what you’re talking about,” continues Martine. “Nothing was recorded in the chronicles. but folklorists know about oral lore recounting inexplicable phenomena. According to these accounts, Sophie led the army to victory in the first hours of the battle with the support of heavenly powers.

“In the mêlée, Sophie’s soldiers were churning out prodigious riches. The alloy of their swords glistened with a supernatural glare while in the opposing army the metal became brittle, and the shields crumbled. Legend also has it that Sophie’s warriors could uproot fir trees and throw cows for a distance of several leagues, so great was their strength.”

Fred is visibly bored. “Okay, I get it. But I am not going to be tossing any cows. I’m going to the casino.”

“You don’t get it: you have no choice,” says Siegfried, glaring at Fred.

“You’re wearing me out. I feel as though I’m watching you work. I’m old. Why wouldn’t I stay in the peace and quiet of this village? I have hot meals, wine, and company. I can sit on a bench and gaze upon the beauty of the world. I don’t know what I’ve forgotten, and I don’t want to know...”

“Fred, you’re starting to get on our nerves. You can understand we all have a job and responsibilities. I’m paying for your contribution, by the way!” hisses Melanie before she goes on. “Why did they lose? What does the legend say?”

“Sophie confronted her husband in a fight to the death. On the verge of dying, the banker took her life with a magic formula. The spell was broken, the insurgents were mercilessly crushed. In a last assault, a handful of men managed to escape with Sophie’s remains. She is said to be lying in a secret crypt.”

“Where is Fred?” asks Martine. He has vanished.

Wait: there’s Fred, running frantically down the hillside like some big hairy faun. He hails three half-naked young women passing by in a Jeep on the road at the bottom of the hill.

“Wellgunde! Woglinde! Flosshilde! Wait for me!”

The small vehicle stops and the girls let him in, laughing. Siegfried doesn’t have time to catch up.

Martine watches them moving away towards the river and smiles tenderly. “Poor old chap...”

* * *

To be continued...

Copyright © 2005 by Bertrand Cayzac
Dépôt S.A.C.D. 174 627

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