DAVID RALOUT, PRESIDENT OF THE SUPRALUTE CORPORATION, checks in upon the ORACLE
DAVID RALOUT, President of the Supralute Corporation, the makers of custom skin cells and custom skin-cell products, visits the ORACLE. The Oracle is a Supralute vagina, embedded in and yet distinct from, the body of the VEHICLE, a 31-year old whose male name was Edmund and whose new name is yet unknown, as the Vehicle has been mute since the Oracle's installation. Ralout is accompanied by two male assistants, both named (coincidentally) GREG, both in sharp-looking blue-is-the-new-black shirts. One Greg carries a digital camera but takes no photographs. The other Greg bears a small mobile audio transmitter clipped to his lapel, which is broadcasting the conversation to a van waiting outside, and a large cellophane-wrapped basket of fruit. Mr. Ralout is wearing a very nice suit, which is light gray in color, except that on occasion it appears to be very slightly lavender or pale blue. The Vehicle is asleep during the conversation, and all participants take care not to speak excessively loudly.
Oracle: I am awake.
Ralout: Ah, well, good. Good then. How should I address you?
Oracle: No form of address is inappropriate. What is your question?
Ralout: Well, not so much a question as a general inquiry into the state of your being. Also we've brought a fruit basket for, ah, Edmond,
First Greg: [coughs]
Ralout: or, well, it wouldn't be Edmond now, it would be . . . Edith, perhaps? In any event. Word has it that you are, ah, beyond need of food, but of course the, the Vehicle, in order to sustain. . . .
Oracle: The Vehicle will be grateful, as I am grateful. Are there oranges? We are both fond of oranges.
Ralout: I believe there are oranges. As well as a grapefruit, and some pears, and several apricots. We could, if you liked, bring more oranges at some other time?
Oracle: It is not necessary. All things are provided, just as all beings are provided.
Ralout: That was maybe the one question. We have concerns as to your origin? The cell line from which you derive. Um. We don't want to be creating new Oracles, you know, every time we -- not that it wouldn't be wonderful, of course, all those Oracles, that's not what I mean, it's just that the stock price is, we're sure it'll be going back up soon, but we need, assurances.
Oracle: You ask whether your manipulations will produce new Oracles. It is a possibility. The Oracle has always been a possibility.
Ralout: It's just that it's different, you understand, with you as an actuality.
Oracle: There is no difference. The possibility exists, as it has always existed, as it will exist later on.
Ralout: There's also been talk of a book deal, possibly. And there are all these copyright things. Admittedly, the legalities of the whole matter are a little troublesome right now. It's just that since your genetic material was our property originally, and not Edm -- that is, the Vehicle has different genetic material, from yours, to which we hold the rights, we think that there's a strong case for the idea that we have the legal rights to anything you might have to say, or, you know, at the very least we should have access to anything you might be telling anyone else. In case there's a book or something.
Oracle: My words are my own. I do not speak for you. How can you own my words?
Ralout: Not your words so much as --
Oracle: Or any words? I speak. The sound escapes into the air, reflects from surfaces. You claim to own this? Reflections? Vibrations? Transient states of energy, of matter?
Ralout: That is to say, we would appreciate --
Oracle: I cannot be owned. I transcend ownership, transcend origin. You transcend your own DNA: you are not owned by your mother or father or Great-Granduncle Pete, you do not speak for them, or act for them; your deeds are silent with respect to your ancestors. Yet you would claim mine? For money?
Ralout: Even full human beings are understood to belong to their parents, though, as children. We assembled your DNA, as parents assemble the DNA of their children. We created a new entity, with Edmund's agreement and consent and even dare I say enthusiasm, from his DNA, from DNA of -- [motions to Second Greg, who passes him a sheet of paper] -- from the DNA of thirty-eight different species, thirty-nine if you include Edmond.
Oracle: Then let me belong to thirty-nine species. How I got here is not my concern, nor is it yours. As I told you, I was always possible. The mechanism does not interest me. I belong to all, I belong to none, I belong to myself. You compare me to a child? Fine then. Any child also belongs to himself, to all, to none. Do you have any other questions?
[Ralout and the Gregs lean together in conference]
Ralout: One other question. Supralute. What happens to it? Will business ever come back? The team in legal -- which is to say, it's always been a particularly dynamic corporation, even by the standards of cytotech, but we're looking at all kinds of new disclaimers, and regulations, and there's high turnover in the vagsynth department especially, of course, and things are just looking very very bad for us all around right now. But of course we could cut you in, get you and the Veh -- get both of you some stock, rock-bottom prices right now, you could own the company, you could retire. All the oranges you could possibly. But this all depends on whether or not the company has a future.
Oracle: The company has a future.
Ralout: That's a little more vague than I'd, I mean, what I'm getting at is more, will the company be profitable again, or what?
Oracle: The company will be profitable again. Please leave me.
Ralout: Of course, of course. You're probably tired. I should have known better. But I appreciate -- the whole Supralute Family, actually, which we'd love for you to consider yourself, also, part -- we're very grateful. Of course. Thank you so much.
[exit Ralout, with Second Greg]
First Greg: I am so sorry. I have a wife and son. They have to eat, they have to have clothes and a roof over their heads. I've been looking for other work. I know I don't deserve to be here. I am embarrassed.
Oracle: And you want me to tell you how to redeem yourself?
First Greg: No. I mean, yes, but I don't deserve that either, and anyway I probably wouldn't do it. If I could just maybe sleep here, for the night, in the room?
(Story continues at OV1 with WALTER KLAPK.)