Dead Planet IX

Dead Planet IX

“It was after midnight”
—William Faulkner
Light in August

It was after midnight. JJ had been in bed for a couple of hours. This is after I met him a couple of weeks earlier—hustling in the Hellas Zoo the way I bumped into him that humid night.

He didn’t talk about it much—anymore than I talked about LA or NYC back on Earth. Before the Gulag Apocalypse—down in the Gulf of Mexico.

He really didn’t remember that much either—some kind of android amnesia had erased his memory card before he met me. There’d been a couple of bad tricks—he’d been picked up by some louche Martian downworlder types. He shrugged—didn’t tell me about it. He didn’t remember it—I don’t blame him.

I found out thru sleeping with him—dreaming my way into the droid amnesia thing. For some reason there was this human-douchedroid thing—I could remember things inside JJ’s mind that he forgot or had been erased. We had different memory systems—yet somehow things fit together.

A funny thing about memory—memory believes before knowing remembers. Memory works differently than knowing—memory’s more deeply & intimately a part of us.

Memory believes—because the substance of remembering is sight, smell, all the senses. It’s the muscles—it’s the hearing & feeling of somebody you love next to you. The way JJ was in bed with me—the way we did things together.

The way knowing remembers things—it was different. Knowing how to fly a hover-craft—or knowing how to use a vidscreen to find out things. All the things that seem counter-intuitive to what love is—whatever it is.

Memory was different than cool, svelte knowing about this or that. The whole thing with knowing—was you either know it or you don’t.

But memory was different—you either believed in something or you didn’t. Even if you did believe in something or somebody—there was leeway and wiggle-room for doubt, regret, nostalgia, grief and all the other things that go into being human, being lonely, being sad or being in love.

JJ was learning how different it was—how different it could be. He was learning from me what humans took for granted—memory believes before knowing remembers.

For me it was pretty simple—memory was forever and inescapable. As long as there was flesh that lived and felt things and could hear & taste—then I was human. I could titillate myself, remember JJ but never forget him—I still masturbate just thinkin’ about him.

And I don’t mean just cruisin’ porno on the vidscreen—or pawing thru YouTube or VidPorn channels. That kind of knowing was like lookin’ at old French postcards—and beating off in airport bathrooms. Or whatever they did back then—before there were spaceports & antigrav-hovercraft.

Even droids had it—at least the Nexus 9 ones. Or at least they had the ability to get there maybe—because JJ was a fast study. A lot faster than me—some learning curves were just too steep for me to take.

But I did know that—if memory existed outside of flesh & blood, then it wouldn’t be memory. Because it wouldn’t remember the way humans do—it takes a human being to remember things they don’t wanna remember. Things like grief and heartache—regrets and remorse. Things you feel—but don’t wanna feel.

Things get meta—when it comes to memory. Pulp fiction & those early golden age sci-fi writers—maybe they felt mixed feelings about edging into new genres. Maybe there’s something to it—being possessed by nostalgia for the future.

Being a meat-memory being like the human being I am—it always amazes sometimes when memory believes in something even when I’m asleep. How else can I fuckin’ explain having wetdreams—about JJ even now while I’m a grown-up adult. Not a kid anymore—goin’ thru adolescence.

But whether it’s my dream-memory or my right hand—getting me off, it’s still memory. All bundled up and embedded inside a maze of meme—a labyrinth of lazy afternoons or mornings in bed. Muscles and odors—tasting him & knowing him. I’m sure he was going thru the same thing—learning as much about himself as he was about me?

So I suppose to make a long story short—it my right hand and this talking tongue of mine that freed me. To be more myself—no matter how many palimpsest layers there were to whoever I was.

JJ was the same way—he was always flirting with anonymity. Self-parody and feeling the doubleness of being a Nexus 9—half of him android & the other half Martian. He couldn’t seem to express himself or be himself—directly as anything just simply one or the other.

Was it the Martian side that felt degraded by being android—or the other way around? This JJ have a chronic sense of degradation being around me—lowering himself to my stupid naked ape level? I got that feeling sometimes—things would collapse around me.

Maybe we both felt that way—as if we’d been invaded & our privacy somehow profaned? Being the helpless victims—of our own physical body? I’m sure JJ felt that way about Tyrell—as if Tyrell his creator was the epitome of some kind of malignant power. An aloof source of power—ironic & smirking at his shock & outrage sometimes. For being too human?

Other times I could see JJ—almost dissolving into himself. Finding himself—listening to himself. Telling his own story to himself—quietly, the words coming not fast. But easily to his tongue & mind—as if he were having a séance with himself. JJ-as-source and JJ-as-moviegoer—both of them dissolved into the other?

Sometimes it was like—a wall was between JJ & me. I’d have to reach thru this invisible wall—to talk with the android-Martian kid. “Humans, shit,” I heard him say more than once.

I’d have to reach thru that wall—and scribble notes on the other side for him. Maybe he could read them—maybe not. Maybe it was all mumbo-jumbo to him—maybe it was just a bunch of invisible ink.

I dunno—it was all so immediate & quick. Immediate love & suffering—supremely lucid & yet gimpy at the same time. Feeling him up—it was like Braille sometimes.

Body language was all I had to go on—and yet other times just the opposite. JJ sleek & streamlined—more elegant than human. Kinda.

Other times I felt cooler—and more cerebral about it. Reimagining generations of exo-family genealogies—family fictions like JJ’s android-Martian background. Where JJ reconceives & figuratively begets his own fathers—physically & psychically thru android-Martian philoprogenitive meta-fictions like the ones I’m narrating here.

Such alien, android, Terran, Martian representations are more than just traced chronologies or exo-genetic genealogies. All that genealogy & inheritance stuff—I left up to Tyrell and his corporate managers.

Tyrell created JJ—they must’ve had something in mind. Maybe JJ was a runaway droid or exiled or maybe he was some kind of miscegenation mistake or exo-reject? Maybe a young Yoknapatawpha Planet retard or something weird like that?

I didn’t know—I didn’t care. Androids, Martians, humans—if things worked out they’d all be spawning & breeding throughout the solar system. Maybe they already were—extraterrestrial race & miscegenation issues were bound to come up sooner or later.

Disillusionment was just another thing JJ would have to learn about & deal with—just as humans & androids would be doing the same thing with guilty attractions & guilty pleasures.

Things like human ownership—and android exploitation. Can there be incestuous miscegenation—between androids and Earthmen? Between androids—and Martians? Is there such a thing as shame or incest—within extraterrestrial humanoid and android relationships?

Maybe that was the purpose of me—and my rendezvous with JJ at the Zoo? How appropriate—the Martian Hellas Zoo—a Pandora Box of genetic memories, a museum of extinct Terran creatures? Fictional performances—was that what the panthers pacing back & forth were all about?

JJ and me—a couple of minor, insignificant meta-creatures meeting each other in an archaic funhouse. Full of gone memories—and what could have been but not were just fictive animals in cages? Captivity narratives—both of us dispossessed of old storylines.

Whatever it was—it was the size of a puny little postage stamp. Licked & pasted onto some kind of apocryphal letter—that was addressed to nowhere, nohow, nowhen & nobody.

Later it would come out in The Martian Review—texts, translations, Tyrell footnotes, TerraCorp interviews and stuff like that. About me & JJ—inextricably caught up in Phobos thing…

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