Twilight, like everything else in the Park, is completely under the control of corporate policy. The bastards lose hours upon hours of artificial sleep trying to come up with a way to charge for this transfiguring time of day when nothing is what it will soon be.
Sitting, watching, trying to be the one still object in the blur of motion.
She approached slowly. That alone would have made her stand out in the swarm. She paused. She looked in windows. She read posters and street signs. She wasn't waiting for something. She wasn't on her way somewhere else. Unlike the rest of the world, she was already the person she was going to become.
She sat down across from me without acknowledging my presence and produced a small pad and began sketching something on it. I made no pretense of doing anything other than watching her.
Her clothes were simple and anonymous. In contrast, every bit of her body that was visible showed some kind of artificial enhancement, either functional or decorative or both: tattoos, makeup, cybernetic prosthetics, ritual scarification, surgically implanted costume jewelry. Most of us are robots going to absurd lengths to pass ourselves off as warmbodies, or warmbodies flaunting an accident of procreation. But she has gone to great trouble to show that she doesn't care. She is a warmbody dreaming she's a robot dreaming she's a warmbody.
At exactly the moment I knew she would, she spoke. Without looking up from her pad she said, "There is a factory beneath us. They grow woodlike furniture there and the little brains they put into appliances. It's huge." She looked up at me. "Have you ever seen it?"
As she spoke she moved her pad and I could see she had been drawing a map of some kind. I told her I'd never been Down Below.
She said that she loved it Down Below. Better than up here. Much.
I told her that I didn't have access rights to production areas and that they keep pretty close tabs on my comings and goings. I asked her why she liked it down there.
"It's more intense," she said. "Up here everything is a copy of a cheap imitation. Down Below things are what they are. Impressive things are truly impressive. Scary things are really dangerous. Some places are too hot, some places stink, lots of places are dirty and noisy and dark. It's real."
She smiled and I could see that although her teeth looked healthy they
were not perfect.
She said. "I don't have access rights anymore either and I never let
that stop me."