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                                  spanish original | author's bio

by Juan Abreu

original title: Ternurachip
translated by Graham Thompson


 Wendy’s smooth face is covered with spray. Little, tiny drops of blood shimmering on the pale skin. Immaculate. Maximum virtual carnality. Palpable three-dimensionality in the broadcast figures. What the experts class as the excited chips effect. A magical moment when chips attain emotion. Achievable at times, on rare occasions, by means of implants of virtual flesh in exceptionally gifted artists. But that was later.
      Expression: see page 38.
      Exactly at the moment she discovers Peter Pan sitting on the carpet, weeping for the loss of his shadow.
      Boy… Why are you crying? Porous voice. Of printed paper.
      Her question, already a classic, started the show. No one remembered what the question had meant for the character created by Disney,
{1} centuries before. The question expressed hope, a reaffirmation of the invincibility and inexhaustible capacity for progress of the human race. Supreme poetry of Technology and Entertainment.
      The audience goes wild. The amphistudio (capacity three hundred thousand; packed) reverberates. Twenty thousand million people in China and many thousand millions more all over the Firm Lands, the lunar colonies and what remains of Europe applaud, touched by the art of the greatest of the Poets of the Church of the Born-Again Serial Killers.
      But that was before.
      The Sky which protected Mic City, the most important megacity of the Firm Lands, at the mouth of the Hudson River, was broadcasting the event live. The Sky was a bubble made up of layers of filters attached to an infinite plastic alloy mesh which protected the inhabitants of the city island from the poisonous rays of the naked sun. Seas of ozone-loss in the riddled atmosphere. The Sky rested its concrete and steel legs in the space once occupied by Queens, Brooklyn, Hoboken, Jersey City, in the muddy bottom of the bay next to the also roofed-over Statue of Liberty. Extremities that were sunk in the earth beneath which throbbed the subterranean cities that ringed the island. The Sky covered with screens of liquid crystal, segmented in sections at the disposal of powerful advertisers and the Corporation Channels. Regarded as the first wonder of the civilization that came into being with the Age of New Order.
      This time the Sky was not a variegated explosion of different ads, music, bodies and voices, but was a simultaneous broadcast. Not since the Programmed Plagues for exterminating peoples decreed "inferior, non-consumers, non-human and disposable" by the Convention of Consumption and World Salvation could anyone recall such a unanimous interest on the part of the Corporation Channels.
      Only the matches of the League of Gods or the Great Annual Sports Mass drew larger audiences than the shows of Wendy, who was universally regarded as one of the most popular and influential media-aesthetic personalities in the history of humanity.
      The animal was grazing peacefully. It ambled slowly, nibbling the juicy stalks, from time to time swishing its tail with a nervous movement that made the skin of its flanks shudder in a repulsive spasm. An inattentive observer might have supposed this to be a virtual animal, like the rest of the studio, which reproduced a meadow bursting with spring, brilliant with flowers; but every observer there knew that it wasn’t. This had been verified by the strict controls of the World Entertainment Commission, beyond all doubt an unbribable institution. They had certified that this animal, contentedly chewing virtual grass, was the last natural zebra of the species (kept in a private zoo, bought at an antiques auction by the Disney Corporation, and subsequently donated to the Church of the Born-Again Serial Killers). Although the official confirmation was hardly necessary. A closer inspection revealed imperfections (skin spoiled by blemishes, a scratch by its lip, stained and irregular teeth, a scar on one ear; the characteristic unpleasant musty smell of natural creatures) unimaginable in a virtual animal.
      Wendy (a.k.a. The Artist, The Apostle and Master Number One, among other names) appeared, surrounded by assistants, amid the tremendous clamour of the Planetary Choir of Blind Children (a voluntary blindness which enhanced their musical talent) intoning the DNA Hymn. The audience, overwhelmed, watched with bated breath. The purification ceremony began. Kiuty, priestess and inseparable companion of the Master (who was not yet Wendy, the transformation had not yet taken place), undressed him. As the others prepared the attire, ironed the old white dress with its low bodice and skirt adorned with lace (a delightful period touch) and set out in meticulous order the weapon and the silver receptacle at one end of the famous ceremonial table, Kiuty removed all the hair from Wendy’s pale fragile body and cut off the penis and the testicles. Members of virtual flesh, of course, but the operation was impressive nonetheless. The shaver zipped over The Artist’s body, giving squeals of joy. With a skilful slash the priestess delineated the delicate hairless lips of the girl’s sex. Perfumed panties. Rustle of the dress, arms raised. Talc. She put on the sky-blue ribbon, which exposed the small, delicate, translucent ears.
      Kiuty took a step back. She tipped her head in a gesture of approval. An outfit of a deep turquoise colour, full of oval holes through which shone the coppery skin. Suck on the right nipple. Pause. Suck on the left nipple.
      Exclamations left off in ecstasy. Applause. Hurricane of emotions. Planetary gasps. Millions of new applications for genetic manipulation of germinal lines on unborn baby girls. Women who want daughters like Kiuty. Or like Wendy. Millions of applications for ephemeral degradable clones of Kiuty and Wendy for purposes of Sexual Entertainment.
      Kiuty had special suck-suck antigravitational breasts, which her dress exposed to view, and she suctioned these as she performed her task to the delight and admiration of the spectators. Public self-satisfaction was very much in fashion, although it was regarded as rather snobbish in intellectual circles.
      One of the assistants, with impeccable, shining artificial black skin, wore his phallus outside his purple overall, in a yellow sheath which ended in front of his mouth. The pink glans emerged a few centimetres from his face. From time to time he licked it with his tongue. Forty billion human beings sighed in unison. In the clinics of Webland millions underwent implants of virtual penises in the Suckable Length style.
      When Wendy was ready she walked over to the table that stood out, beautiful, archaic and metallic, in the middle of the flower-studded meadow. She distilled purity. The bees buzzed musically, the butterflies flitted sparkling about. Her dress, gauzy and delicate, brushed the tips of the dewy grass. Cotton stockings, dotted with hand-embroidered pink flowers; patent leather shoes.
      They brought the animal.
      Four burly assistants laid it upside down on the table. Close-up. Horror... it was sweating! General outcry. Disgust. Shudder in the white stripes. Shudder in the black stripes. Wendy adjusted her gloves. She took the laser knife and made a delicate gesture. The head of the zebra fell into the silver receptacle. Red fountains hissed. The meadow had gone. Continuous marble floor. Which added to the impact of the show. The marble would be cut up and sold to leading Museums and collectors who were bidding at that very moment in Sotheby's, the auctioneers who handled Wendy’s art.
      The Planetary Choir of Blind Children intoned the Virtual Planet Hymn.
      Sprinkling. Wendy’s smooth face is covered with spray. She smiles. Close-up. Ecstasy.
      The zebra’s head blinks; a welling up of primitive terror in the eyes; the slobbering tongue hanging out. Thick rope of saliva. Close-up. Cries of horror from the crowd. Hysterical screams.
      The body kicks; torso arches. Assistants restraining the shuddering extremities. Close-up.
      Laser knife slicing the abdomen of the hoofed animal. Multiple shot. Skin opening, entrails exposed; Wendy’s face: beauty, balance, purity. Dedication to The Saving Cause of Total Virtuality according to the Teachings of the Resurrected. Simultaneous shot. Receptacle overflowing. Close-up. Clotted blood. Ceremonial knife. Close-up: armed hand. Hindquarters. Fore quarters. Mystic gestures. Musicality. Legs severed. Multiple shot. Four obscenely gaping wounds where the legs had been. Circle of bone in the centre of the steaming flesh.
      Close-up: Wendy’s face. Message: I sacrifice myself for you, I submit myself to this stench for you, I make poetry of this filth, I put an end to this evolutive excrescence so that we can have a better world, for our God Mic The Resurrected and for you. Brothers! She introduces her arms into the bloody mess and extracts the organs. Stomach, liver, intestines. Kidneys. She exhibits them in all their natural, imperfect, corrupt, mortal, dripping reality. Urine, excrement. Detritus. Shrieks. Smells.
      Pools of blood pattern the continuous marble.
      Eighty billion shocked, disgusted eyes. Eighty billion expressions of shame that their owners ever had anything to do with that source of pus and worms.
      Sales of virtual pet zebras soar, up by fifty per cent every minute. The kids’ model, weight four kilos, height thirty centimetres, sold complete with perpetual flowering meadow, overtakes its rivals. Two hundred million copies of Virtual is Better, the Artist’s latest best-seller, are sold in a record time of twenty minutes. A thousand million people ask to move permanently to Webland and leave the Old Order.
      Wendy terminates the carving up. As usual in her presentations, a panel of theologians is getting ready to talk about the advantages of virtual flesh and the humiliating, degrading conditions to which the human species was once subject. Accompanied on its evolutionary course by repugnant and infectious species of animals.
      Now the stage is clean again, the offal removed and incinerated, the flowery meadow returns, the rhythmic bees, the butterflies. A dozen dancing children lead on an eternal virtual zebra. It walks, springy and radiant. Ovations. Hysterical screams. Singing. Weeping. Hymn of the Church of the Born-Again Serial Killers sung by the Planetary Choir of Blind Children. Thunderous applause.
      Multiple shot of the panellists.
      A sigh of relief from billions of throats: passing through the ruins, the devastated continents, the endless tunnels, the underground cities, the poisoned seas, the garbage lands, the shining roofed-in megacities, the decayed atmosphere, the infinite and growing landscapes of Webland.
      Close-up: Wendy’s face.


      1. At the time of speaking (August 2205) I felt it was unnecessary to mention the discredited legend which attributes to an obscure Scottish writer, a certain J. M. Barrie, the creation of the character Wendy. It has been amply demonstrated that she is a product of the sacred, immortal and immeasurable genius of the Disney Corporation. (Author’s note) back

© 2000 Juan Abreu
   Translated by Graham Thompson  
    spanish original

This electronic version is published by The Barcelona Review by arrangement with the author.
This story may not be archived or distributed further without the author's express permission. Please see our conditions of use.

Author bio: Juan Abreu

Juan Abreu, writer, journalist and artist, was born in Havana, Cuba in 1952. He has published three books: Libro de las exhortaciones al amor, Habanera fue and A la sombra del mar: Jornadas cubanas con Reinaldo Arenas. He is currently working on a trilogy set in the future "but not science fiction," entitled Garbageland, from which the present selection is taken. He has been a columnist for Diario las Américas since 1990. His artwork can be found in public institutions and art galleries throughout the United States. He lives and works in the United States and Barcelona, Spain. If you wish to contact the author in English: jaamim@hotmail.com

navigation:                         barcelona review #16                       January - February 2000
-Fiction Juan Abreu: Tendernesschip
Guillaume Dustan: Serge the Beauty & Rendezvous
Len Kruger: Hotline
Norman Lock: In the Time of the Comet
Richard Peabody: Essence of Mitchum
-Poetry John Giorno: Three Poems
-Article January and February in Barcelona
-Quiz Federico García Lorca - win a book
Answers to last issue's Samuel Beckett Quiz
-Regular Features Book Reviews
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