Chapter 2 -- Team Building

May 2052

My wife Esther complained that May in Orlando was “especialmente caliente y húmedo.” I was putting so much time in at work I hardly noticed the weather.

Much progress had been made during my five months in the Religion Research Department of the Infinite Future Branch of TABB. At my urging, leaders of many religions issued statements supporting the spread of human civilization from Earth throughout the Heavens. Subtle changes were made to the e-texts of scriptures in support of human space ventures. E-photos of many originals were expertly altered to support the deception. Plans were in place for corresponding modifications to the oldest extant hard copies.

I worked with Hawking Plan system engineers and technologists from other departments within IFB and outside organizations to develop alternative concepts for human occupation of planets beyond our Solar System. The most promising concepts called for thousands of space missions to Earth-like planets. Unfortunately, the reliability numbers indicated many missions would fail, killing all life onboard. Would these be considered “misiones del suicidio”? That was a critical ethical issue.

Did the end, to make sure human life survived the “inevitable” destruction of Earth; justify the means, sending thousands of human beings to their deaths, hoping some would survive on some remote planets? It was also political. The war on terrorism had been won when moderate Imams convinced their followers it was more important to love their own young men and women – their children – than to hate western civilization. Religion-based killing died out when leaders preached a positive message: love life more than death and martyrdom.

My small staff of translators and religious scholars considered if human space misiones del suicidio might revive the social acceptance of the damnable bombardeos del suicidio. We worried the Hawking Plan might energize the pockets of radical Islam that had not yet submitted to western civilization.

Stephanie required official TABB Planning Board approval to issue formal Request for Proposal documents. She ordered me and my counterparts from other branches to travel to Tokyo to support her at the Board meeting.

We took the sleeplane – the best choice for air trips of over six hours. We were scheduled for the Saturday noon flight, with a 10AM pickup. Sleeplane passengers were advised not to take anything by mouth for eight to twelve hours before scheduled pickup, to wear an adult diaper, and take a P-pill (purge pill) a half hour before pickup. As I emerged from the bathroom, Esther gave me a kiss and wished me “A safe flight.” Adam, our seven-year-old, added, “And a dry trip as well!” That sent him and our nine-year-old Rebecca into gales of laughter. They remembered the trip a year earlier when I awakened on the couch all smelly with full pants.

The pickup was quite efficient. A gold-suited sleeplane medic and its silver-suited helper, both IRAs, wheeled my transcap (transport capsule) into the living room. It was a casket-sized box with a built-in air conditioning and life support system. The medic gave me a sleepo (sleeping potion) injection. Within a few minutes, I was unconscious and ready for the trip to the airport and the flight to Tokyo. Upon arrival there, the process was reversed, with a wayko (wake-up) injection. I awoke at about 4PM, on a sofa in my hotel room, with dry pants, extremely refreshed and a bit hungry for dinner.

The introduction of sleeplanes in the 2030’s was controversial. People worried they would wake up in the cargo hold. Or a failure would suffocate them or send them to the wrong destination. Perhaps the wayko wouldn’t work and they would die. Sure enough, during the first few years, several dozen people died and hundreds had bad reactions. There were reports of people awakening in transit and suffering great fright. In the early days before human medics were replaced by robots, some were accused of fondling passengers.

Complaints ceased after they fitted transcaps and the IRA medics with video cameras, preventing hanky-panky and putting the lie to the stories about passengers awaking in their transcaps. It cost less to transport a sleeplane passenger. More bodies per plane, no need to serve food or beverages, and sleeplane passengers didn’t have air rage nor did they commit terrorist attacks.

Scientists and technologists proved, as early as 2025, that robots the size of humans could have general intelligence in the normal human range. By 2030 their cost of ownership became económico for most grunt labor. Robots that passed a standardized test were certified as IRAs, “intelligent at the human level.”

Specially-designed violet-suited IRAs were employed as REPS, Robotic Erotic Pleasure Suppliers. I never had any desire to be “serviced” by a REPS and, as long as I had a reasonable sex life with my wife and could perform autoerotic fantasies without machine assistance, I didn’t intend to hire one.

At first, IRAs tended to be employed as robotic assistants, accompanied by human supervisors. Then, in 2037, a taxi company in Cincinnati installed red “panic” buttons in the passenger compartment of their IRA-driven taxis and inaugurated the era of IRAs working without direct supervision. In case of a problem, the passenger could press the button and the IRA would have to pull over and stop at the nearest safe place. A human supervisor at the taxi company would then initiate a conversación video with the passenger to determine what was wrong. If necessary, the supervisor could review video of the ride. It turned out hardly anyone except anti-robot activists ever pressed the button! With that breakthrough came increased demand, higher production quantities, and lower prices for IRAs.

Transcaps were fitted with sophisticated medical monitoring devices and a mouth tube to deliver liquids with medications in the event a passenger suffered de-hydration or almost any other health problem in transit. The sleepo and wayko injections were carefully metered according to the passenger’s weight and age. In the event of transport delays, the mouth tube system automatically delivered additional sleeping medication good for up to six hours.

Sleeplane travel was safer than regular air travel. There were fewer stress-induced heart attacks. It was “sofa-to-sofa” so there was no chance for a passenger to slip and hurt him- or herself rushing through the airport or carrying heavy luggage. The eight to sixteen hours of rest improved working efficiency and reduced the passenger’s weight by two to five pounds, at least temporarily. The sleeplane concept was applied to other modes of travel and human activity, including railrest and sleepships. “Sleepspas” offered twelve hours of deep rest and weight loss without the need for travel.

By 2052 it was routine for IRAs to perform nearly all service jobs as well as many more advanced types of work. IRAs were better and safer to have around than human workers. In the medical field, it became common for dental hygienists, physician’s assistants, nurses, and virtually all other support workers to be IRAs. Most surgeries were performed by computer-controlled machines, under the supervision of a licensed human doctor, of course.

The cautionary tales in twentieth-century science fiction about robots revolting turned out to be nonsense. IRAs were manufactured with a “supervisory module” that prevented thoughts of revolt. Of course, there were some “robot rights activists” who disabled the supervisory modules in some IRAs. However, given the Positive ID society, none of them could ever organize enough IRAs to have anything like an effective revolt. Every once in a while, news organizations reported a “poetic justice” story about a misguided robot rights activist who had been done in by his or her IRA.

Stephanie hosted the welcome dinner for our Hawking Plan team at our Tokyo hotel. In addition to me, there were six others from Orlando, two from Atlanta, and four from the TABB Tokyo office.

I excused myself early from the dinner for a conversación video with Esther, Rebecca and Adam, a daily travel ritual. Considering the time difference between Tokyo and Orlando, and the short time window between when they awoke and had to leave for school or work, it turned out I had to call around dinner, Tokyo time.

One wall of my hotel room was a giant display screen that showed a photo of a scene from a classic Japanese kabuki show. I used the codip on the desk to change it to conversación video mode and called home. Esther was happy to see and speak to me, but she asked why I called so early on a Sunday morning, a day they usually slept in till 8 or 9AM. I apologized, explaining it was Sunday afternoon in Tokyo and I got mixed up and thought it was Monday in the US. She laughed as did the children. Of course, I knew this error would be added to the tale of the turd-y pants in Adam’s repertoire.

Neither Esther nor I had ever been to Tokyo, so she asked my impressions of the city. I said I hadn’t seen much of anything so far, other than the hotel and the nearby TABB office, which were quite similar to those in any large city. She knew I was a bit nervous about my presentation to the TABB Planning Board and wished me the best of luck. Adam asked if my trip had been “dry” and I was happy to reply “yes.”

Rebecca told me there was a rumor floating around school that the Japanese company that made watches “with hands!” had come out with a new model. She asked me to check out their Tokyo factory. I knew I was going to be very busy and made no promises.

After the conversación video, I watched a bit of TV, handled some TABB-related business e-mails and video-mails, reviewed the presentation I planned to give the following day and took a quick shower. Around ten PM Tokyo time, I hopped into the very comfortable bed.

However, I could not sleep. What to do? I watched a few English-language channels on the display wall. An hour later I decided to dress and go for a walk. With the advent of the “Positive ID society,” it was quite safe to walk the streets of almost any populated area that had good WIN coverage.

I stopped briefly at the sundries shop in the hotel lobby for a flashlight, a candy bar and some calorie-free, non-alcoholic sake. Like nearly all stores, the sundries shop was totally automatic, sensing my PID as well as the RFID tags on the items I picked up. They charged them against my bank balance. As I exited the shop there was a single beep and a green light flash. I could have touched the green light and received a printed receipt, but I trusted the system and simply walked out. Had my PID not worked or my bank balance been insufficient, there would have been two beeps and the red light would have flashed. I would have been identified as a “person of interest” and the video would have been sent to the police for further investigation.

I broke the seal on the flashlight and turned it on to be sure it worked. I was about to open the candy bar and take a bite when my conscience alerted me to the fact it was extra-large size and I was trying to lose weight. I returned to the shop and put it back on the shelf, taking a small-size bar instead. Again, the automatic system noted my return with the drink and extra-large candy bar, both still sealed, and the flashlight, which had been paid for and used. My account was credited for the still-sealed items. As I left with the drink and the small-sized candy bar, they were added to my account and the flashlight was ignored. Like most people, I was so familiar with these types of automatic transactions I didn’t consciously think about them anymore. In effect, for someone like me, with a working PID and a positive bank balance, the whole world was a buffet.

I brought up a walking map on my read-WINs (glasses that displayed video images). My hotel was in Rainbow City, just north of Tokyo Bay. I headed south, under a highway overpass and soon came to a bayside park with a pleasure boat channel along its northeast. I admired the docked watercraft and some larger ships across the bay. I followed the path as it curved to the right, crossed a pond via a picturesque bridge, and eventually returned to where I had entered the park. I sat down briefly to consume my drink and candy bar.

As I returned under the highway, I noticed a woman across the street striking a sexy pose. She was the first person I had seen since leaving the hotel. From a distance, in the poor lighting under the highway, she looked “muy caliente.” As I came closer, the woman beckoned to me. I said “Hi” and the woman said something in Japanese that sounded like “enjo kosai.” It was then I noticed she was quite old – at least forty and perhaps older – and most likely a low-class prostitute. “Buy date? Enjo kosai?” she said, confirming my suspicions. I wondered how “Johns” paid prostitutes in a cashless society. Perhaps all she wanted was a restaurant meal and a night in a hotel bed. I wondered what she would have done for a drink and a candy bar.

“Sorry, no” I replied and hurried back to my hotel. I washed my hands, drank a glass of water and hopped back into bed. Still unable to sleep, I flipped to the Japanese-language fare and happened upon a kabuki play. Not knowing the language, and being totally unaware of the subtle meanings of the costumes and gestures, I found myself engaging in mental matings with the female actresses, one of whom – I named her “Yum, Yum” after the character in Mikado – was particularly beautiful. Their sing-song voices, and the lack of action I could understand, finally put me to sleep.

I awoke with a start at 7AM Tokyo time when the alarm went off, vibrating the bed. I vaguely remembered a pleasant dream involving myself and Yum Yum interacting as players in a kabuki show.

Our initial briefing to the TABB Planning Board was scheduled for after lunch that day. Having a free morning, I had scheduled a visit to the Preservation Department of the DoHiMuTo, the Documentary History Museum of Tokyo. I knew the large Japanese telecommunications company, DoCoMo (Do Communications Mobile) also meant “everywhere” in Japanese and I wondered if DoHiMuTo meant something in that language.

Some of the Dead Sea Scrolls were on loan from their home in Jerusalem to the Tokyo museum for máquina del tiempo work per my orders. The scrolls, dating from about 200 BC to 100 AD, are the oldest physical evidence we have of biblical and other religious texts that formed the basis of the Abrahamic religions; Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. As an historian, I was well-aware of their significance and value and was honored to be in their presence.

Of course I didn’t believe in their provenance as the literal word of God. Yet, as I held a fragment in my gloved hands, I was surprised to be overcome by a strange “religioso” feeling. It was like the time I touched the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

The subtle word changes were going well. The “preservaciónistas,” as I called the Japanese technicians, saved the ancient ink they scraped from some areas and carefully re-applied it, using solvents that evaporated completely, to create or modify words. The carbon-14 dating record and chemical analysis veracidad was thus preserved. They were experts at this most artful form of forgery.

That afternoon, after my emotional time with the Dead Sea Scrolls, I was charged up for my presentation to the TABB Planning Board. Stephanie, after brief introductory remarks, introduced me as the first speaker. “Ladies and Gentlemen of the TABB Planning Board, My Lieges, I bid you homage” I began, using the honorific title and fancy greeting expected by high TABB officials. “It is my privilege to address you, representing the Infinite Future Branch headed by Dr. Stephanie Goldenrod. I am a Rabbi as well as a former Professor of Religious History and Philosophy.

“Earlier today I had the honor of holding some fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls in my gloved hands at the DoHiMuTo, the Documentary History Museum of Tokyo. Although I do not happen to be a literal believer, I must confess I felt some ‘magic’ in those fragments, those ‘voices from the past’.”

As I spoke, I was overcome by “religioso” emotions. My throat choked. My hands, in front as if I were holding the fragments, began to quiver. For a moment my knees weakened and I could not speak.

The members of the Board stared at me in complete silence. One or two bit their lower lips, sharing my emotional experience and remembering some of their own.

“Over two-thousand years ago,” I continued, taking a deep breath, “An obscure group of Essene scribes copied these sacred texts on leather parchment, reed paper, and inscribed on rolls of copper sheet. They concealed the scrolls in high caves along the Dead Sea to protect them from destruction by the invading Romans. These relics remained hidden, safe and secure until they were found only a hundred years ago. Those blessed ancient people preserved the civilization of their time for us.

"I am here to ask you to help preserve human life and human civilization for the next two thousand years and beyond to the infinite future.

“The inspired words of Edna St.Vincent Millay apply to the Hawking Plan: 'The world stands out on either side / no wider than the heart is wide. / Above the world is stretched the sky / no higher than the soul is high. / The heart can push the sea and land / Farther away on either hand. / The soul can split the sky in two / And let the face of God shine through.'

“Each of you has an opportunity to open your hearts as wide as the Universe and let the face of God shine through. Millay says it all in the final lines of her poem: 'But East and West will pinch the heart / that can not keep them pushed apart. / And he whose soul is flat – the sky / will cave in on him by and by.' Only one whose heart is ‘pinched’ and whose soul is ‘flat’ would ignore the possibility of saving human life and civilization”

I read statements from recognized clerics of many religious denominations – most citing words from their scriptures – in support of the Hawking Plan. I also presented an e-petition signed by tens of thousands of clerical supporters, religious historians, and ethicists.

“Historians and religious leaders of all schools and sects support this great adventure for human survival. There will be no religious backlash when you approve the Hawking Plan. I pledge to you the highest ethical standards will be followed in this venture, our great project – yours and mine – for preservation of humankind.”

I was followed by Luke Mathews, the system engineer for the Hawking Plan project. His chart outlined the three main options:

Noah’s Ark – live humans in suspended animation.

Embryonic – frozen human embryos to be thawed and brought to term in artificial wombs and socialized by “nanny robot” IRAs.

Panspermia – frozen or salted prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells to be thawed and evolved to advanced complexity over several thousand years in robot run genetic engineering laboratories, using modern plant, animal, and human genome data.

Luke and I had worked on the ethical aspects of sending human beings into space; particularly the issue of reliability of the spaceships and the likelihood a substantial number of passengers would not reach their destinations alive. I respected his knowledge and open-minded attitude and thought he had balanced the ethical, scientific, and technological issues extremely well. He was followed by experts on schedule, contractual, and legal issues. These, I realized, were extremely important, but of little interest to me personally.

Stephanie was clearly pleased with my talk and generally happy with the presentations by the other members of her Hawking Plan team. She gave the final wrap-up, expertly summarizing and tying it all together in a beautiful bow (as well as an elegant Japanese-style bow). I carefully observed the august members of the TABB Planning Board as she strode back and forth in front of her charts and animations. Three of the four men on the Board seemed especially appreciative when she bent over to point to some detail of a chart. The same was true for one of the three women! Stephanie, for her part, seemed to enjoy people of either gender looking at her lasciviously. She had great enthusiasm, energy and sincerity.

”Hola Estephania,” I thought to myself, for this was yet another new Stephanie! Far more reserved, speaking Standard English with no Inglañol interpolations. And, there was something else – vulnerability. Not helplessness of any kind – confidence flowed from her every pore – but with a new appearance of humility and modesty. “What a consummate temptress and actress,” I thought with great admiration, “I am honored to work for her.”

Our team convened in a conference room at the TABB Tokyo office headquarters for a post-mortem. Over a light dinner, Stephanie made suggestions for the question and answer session scheduled for the following day. After the meal and meeting were over, she called me aside and asked me to meet her in the hotel gym so we could talk further during her daily workout.

I had a hurried conversación video with my family, changed clothes, and rushed to the hotel gym. Stephanie was on the overhead press machine when I arrived. “I’m about done with this one, want to try it?” she asked as she wiped her sweat off.

“Ningún problema ... Estephania, I’ll give it a try,” I said to yet another version of Stephanie. I sat at the unfamiliar machine and tried to lift the bars above my head. They wouldn’t budge!

“Sorry Jim, let me adjust the weights. It took me quite a while to build up to my range. Let’s try three-quarters the weight, OK?” I was barely able to lift the arms. It took all my machismo to complete the exercise. Meanwhile, Stephanie was off on the leg press machine. When she was done with that, she wiped it down and adjusted the weights for me.

This went on for several more machines until it was time for the pool. Stephanie swam back and forth in forma perfecta while I struggled to do a few laps. Finally, the exercise session was over. I was exhausted! My muscles ached and I was pleased to contemplate a hot shower and some well-deserved bed rest.

My room had a western-style shower I had used the night before, but it also had a Japanese bath. Luke had spoken very highly of the restfulness of the soaking tub. So, I stepped into the Japanese bathroom and dropped my swim suit to the faux wood floor. Through the wood lathe wall came the sound of rushing water and the delightful aroma of plants and flowers. I peeked through the wall and beheld a beautiful Japanese garden with a large pond and waterfall. Soon the water sounds gave way to some peaceful Japanese music. Several gorgeous geisha danced in at the far side of the pond.

I turned away to hide my nakedness but soon realized it was only a 4D-display wall that made use of laser projectors to create an animated, three-dimensional, distant view. The aroma was the fourth dimension. I dropped my towel and watched the women sing and dance, eventually coming right up to my window. As each passed by and winked at me I smelled her unique perfume. With a gigantic grin on my face, I waved back – and not only with my hands!

I turned to observe the soaking tub and the washing area. The tub was very deep and wide. Following Luke’s suggestion, I turned the water on and set the temperature very hot. In the middle of the washing area, near the drain, sat a wooden bucket and a short wooden stool. A low shelf held a container of shampoo, a large bar of soap, and a very large natural sponge. A faucet protruded from the wall.

Following Luke’s instructions, I sat on the stool and turned the water on, adjusting the temperature to moderately hot. I filled the bucket, dumped it on my head, applied some shampoo and lathered up. I did my face, arms, upper body, and legs with the soap and sponge, standing for my private parts.

Several buckets of water were required to rinse it all off. I felt absolutely wonderful – my skin tingling from the abrasive action of the natural sponge. As I peered out at my garden six Japanese men performed a strenuous dance as they played strange-looking instruments. They waved to me and I waved back!

By this time, the tub was filled to the brim and overflowing a bit. I turned the water off and stepped in. It was near-scalding – too painful to bear. I stepped out and added cold water for a couple of minutes. I touched my toe to the surface of the water and plunged my right foot to the bottom. The water was still too hot, but I gritted my teeth, put my other foot in, and stood there for a while, wondering how I was going to make myself sit down.

I noticed a package of aromatic bath salts and emptied it into the tub, using my feet to mix it around. When the water was an even, light green color, I counted “one, two, and three” and quickly sat down. As the hot water covered my private parts I cried out in pain. I kicked my feet up and down and counted once more “one, two, and three” and quickly lay down, holding my nose and plunging my head below the water line.

I raised my head a bit, until only my nose, eyes and mouth were above the water. “Ahh!” I said, enjoying the floating, total body warmth, and delicious fragrance. “I could stay here forever.”

I noticed the ceiling was a mirror-like image of me floating in the tub! Writing, in Japanese and English, appeared on the display, just above my head. It pointed to a codip on the stand to my right. I touched the codip and a menu, in Japanese and English, appeared. I selected "X-rated geisha." Kabuki music began and, to my amazement, the image of a geisha, in a skimpy two-piece bathing suit, appeared next to me in the ceiling display. As I moved my hands and feet, the geisha in the image moved in coordinated synchronism, as if the two of us were actually together. After a few moments of graceful dancing, she took off her top and then her bottom.

“Wow,” I thought to myself, here is another recruit for my autoerotic pleasures!”

As I reacted to her provocative naked posing, a message box popped up in the upper left corner of the ceiling display:


I wondered what this could be. Did Stephanie get a heads-up about critical questions the opponents of the Hawking Plan might pose at the TABB Board meeting the next day? Why couldn’t she handle this by phone? I got out of the tub and dressed and rushed to the elevator. Her suite, as usual, was on the very top floor.

Stephanie hid behind her door and quickly closed and locked it after I entered. She was wearing nothing but a shortie nightgown! Before I could say or do anything, she gave me one of her patented lambada hugs. “You smell nice,” she said. “I can tell you took Luke’s advice about the Japanese tub. So did I! Which video did you watch?”

I considered leaving, looked at the door, then thought better of it. “I uh,” I began, “I watched the dancing geisha and the minstrels.”

“Not the garden! The tub ceiling display!” she laughed.

“I uh,” I fumbled, “I watched the, uh, ‘X-rated geisha’.”

“Really?” She said, smiling, “That one is my second favorite.”

I felt it necessary to ask, “Which is your favorite?”

“Oh,” she replied, quite matter-of-factly, “Swimming with sharks.” She sashayed to the sofa and gestured to the place beside her.

I strode to the far side of the room and sat on a chair by the desk. “You know,” I began, “I’m a little put off by the way you’re dressed. I came up here to talk about the Hawking Plan and our strategy for tomorrow’s Q and A session – nothing more.”

Stephanie grinned, and spoke in rhyme: “Things are sometimes what they seem / Milk the cow and get the cream.” She stood and sashayed towards me. “Pretty girls are sometimes bold. / Successful boys do as they’re told!” With that she hopped astride me, curled her legs around the chair, and locked her arms to the back.

I pushed at her, but she had me pinned into the chair. ”Estephania!” I cried using her Latinized name, for this was yet another Stephanie, “I’m a happily married man with two young children – please don’t do this.”

“Your mouth protests,” she replied, “But you really want me. Your flag is at full staff!”

“You’re very attractive and that’s a normal bodily reaction to estímulo sexual. And you know it.” I realized pushing was futile since she was stronger than me. Any further struggle would raise my estímulo sexual still more.

“Diego, at dinner I took the liberty of putting some performance enhancement stuff into your iced tea. You don’t have to worry about meeting my expectations.”

“That tea did taste bitter, but I put it down to Japanese tastes. After dinner I noticed the lights seemed brighter than normal. I was worried my eyes were going bad. Was that a side effect?”

“Don’t you know about that? Don’t you use that performance enhancement medicine with your wife?”

“Stephanie, I don’t want to talk about my sex life with my wife. Do you want to tell me about your husband?”

“My husband and I are quite happily married; we have a very civilized understanding.” She lifted herself a bit, allowing my flag to assume a more comfortable position. “You’ve been with TABB for five months,” she continued, “So far, I’ve been quite pleased with your work for me. I know you like your job. Satisfying me is the key to your continued employment. I can give you happy or I can give you hurt. Which do you prefer?”

“What if my wife calls or messages? I won’t do anything that might damage our relationship. You can take this job and ...”

“I thought about that before I called you up here. Your PID is modo contrario. As far as the world is concerned, you are at the DoHiMuTo laboratory doing evening research on the Dead Sea Scrolls. You are in their most secure chamber where messaging is not available. If she or anyone else inquires, that’s the information they’ll receive. Our asunto secreto is safe. No one will tell any living soul.”

With that she began a rhythmic gyration, rubbing her abdomen against mine. She leaned forward, pressing her nightgown to my face. I relaxed, accepting the inevitable. Suddenly, she pulled back, raised her nightgown above my head and pulled it down behind the seatback, exposing her bare breasts. “Kiss them; I’d like it if you’d suck them. Put your hands on my butt. Knead my buttocks if you please.” I did as requested, not without considerable pleasure. I chose happy rather than hurt. I was, after all, a macho man and she was muy caliente.

Her left breast smelled of lemon – and tasted like it as well. Her right was lime! As I sucked, she asked me to put my hands under her nightgown and run them up and down her back, from butt to shoulder, then down her spine to “as low as you can go.” She leaned back a bit and pulled her nightgown off. With her hands high, she asked me to run my fingers down her arms and her sides, and then make circles around her navel. She stood up and asked me to stroke her inner thighs “but don’t touch the good stuff … yet.” She pulled my head to her belly and asked me to lick around her navel. It smelled and tasted of pineapple!

After a while, Stephanie released me, motioned to the bedroom and asked me to strip to my shorts and get on my hands and knees on the bed. She stood astride me, sat on my back, crossed her ankles and tightened her legs, taking my breath away. She leaned forward, grabbed me around the neck, thrust her legs between mine and tightened her grip until I collapsed onto the bed.

“You know,” she said, as she rhythmically squeezed and released me, “They say it’s better to be killed by a boa constrictor, which takes fifteen seconds, than a rattlesnake, whose poison can keep you in agony for hours.” After a while she let go, stood up again, and ordered me to roll over. She stood astride me, looking at my face, and placed her right foot on my chest, increasing the pressure until I cried out in pain. With that, she dropped to a seated position on my abdomen. She placed her bare left foot behind my neck and her right on my face. Her foot had the odor of the Japanese bath salts. In that position, she did a series of sit-ups.

“Dear God,” I thought to myself, “She’s using me like a piece of exercise equipment.” It was not entirely unpleasant. She stood astride me yet again, this time facing my feet. She placed her left foot on my abdomen, rubbing gently until my flag went to full staff again. She bent her right knee and wagged her derriere a foot above my head. I saw a tiny tattoo on her right butt cheek. It was a bee – a little bee with a crown on its head! “Are you looking at my Queen Bee-hind?” she asked. Before I could answer, she dropped to a seated position on my chest, now rubbing my abdomen gently with both feet.

She suddenly leaned forward, lifted herself a bit, and rotated her legs backwards. She squeezed my head with her warm, well-toned legs, removed my shorts and stroked me. As I was about to climax she squeezed to prevent release. “O-ooow,” I cried, “You’ve got me on a fine line between exquisite torture and delicious ecstasy. I don’t know if I can take more of you brand of estímulo sexual.”

“Pain and pleasure are opposite sides of the same coin,” Stephanie said with a laugh as she tightened her legs. With her hand she squeezed my testicles a bit. “They are the yin and yang – one is not possible without the other. You can’t enjoy pleasure without some pain. You can’t appreciate the light glowing in a painting without the dark background. Or, the accelerator and the brakes on an automobile – some people think the brakes are so you can go slow!”

“Yes,” I answered, “The accelerator is to make you go fast and the brakes are so you can go slowly. What are you getting at?”

“Think about it Jim! The brakes on a car are what makes it safe to go fast! Without brakes, you would always have to go slow to avoid accidents. With good brakes, you are free to accelerate up to whatever speed you can handle! Accelerator and brakes, you can’t have one without the other! It’s also like fe y razón ...”

“Faith and reason?” I challenged her. Then I thought better of arguing the point at that critical moment. “Yes, yin and yang, like water and fire.” I said.

“I take it sex with your wife is pretty much ‘bam, bam, thank you ma’am’,”

“I told you I do not want to discuss my sex life with my wife.”

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’”

“Take it any way you want.”

“And you have sex, what, once a week, twice in a good week.”

“Don’t talk about my personal life with my wife ... please!”

“I’ll take that as a ‘yes’ and I pity you and your wife. Estímulo sexual est muy importante. Use it or lose it, I say. Better to wear it out than let it rust out! I have an orgasm as part of my daily workout. Three on a good night!” I didn’t reply. I simply tried to enjoy my situation and not anticipate the inevitable painful interludes.

"OK, what do they call me behind my back when all you drones are at the coffee brewer?”

Acutely aware of my situation precaria, I was hesitant to say. “I don’t know what you’re getting at, Stephanie. They call you ‘Stephanie’ ...” Once again she tightened her legs and her hand. “Oh-Owww!” I cried. “’The Queen Bee’ – they call you ‘the Queen Bee’.”

She released her grip. “Every drone strives to mate with the Queen Bee! The one who successfully copulates soon dies as his sex organs are ripped from his body during the act.” With that she raised herself a bit and slid down to muff me. It smelled and tasted of cherry! I struggled to breathe as she pressed down, moving back and forth.

”Sh’ma Yisra’el,” I thought to myself, “So this is how I die! In a hotel suite in Tokyo, smothered by my boss’s boss ...” After a long twenty seconds, she lifted herself off me a bit. She calmly told me what to do with my hands, my mouth, and my tongue. I did as instructed and, after a few minutes, felt a slight rhythmic oscillation followed by a great deal of pressure and more oscillations. I stopped moving and held on for the ride until it was over.

She lifted herself off and said “Gracias, Diego. Would you mind trying for one more?”

“Sure, Estephania, ningún problema,” I replied. As we built up to her second orgasm, she expertly pumped and massaged me and we had perfectly timed simultaneous orgasms, followed by “gracias” in unison. She rolled off and we lay there for a while in silence.

"You know, Stephanie” I began, trying to make conversación, “You mentioned something earlier that confused me. How are fe y razón like pain and pleasure and light and dark? It seems that faith is on a totalmente different plane from reason.”

She remained silent, so I spoke on, “Isn’t faith believing something for no reason? It isn’t faith if you have perfect proof and reason, is it? I mean, the highest form of faith is believing something that defies reason! She didn’t say a word, so I continued. “For its part, reason doesn’t require any faith at all. Follow the método científico: Make observations, come up with a theory of cause and effect and then check the predictions of that theory with further observation. That constitutes reasonable proof of the theory. Any competent scientist can use the método científico and reproduce the proof. If it can be reliably tested and reproduced, then science must accept it as veracidad. Where’s the faith in that?”

Stephanie responded in an unexpected way. “Have you heard the story of the priest, the lawyer, the scientist and the guillotine?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Well, it’s the French revolution or something and these three guys are condemned to have their heads mown off. First it’s the priest’s turn and the executioner shoves his head in the thing and pulls the cord and nothing happens. The priest shouts ‘It’s a miracle. God saved my life so you must let me go free.’ The executioner has to let the priest go.

"The lawyer is next and again the guillotine fails to work. ‘You can’t execute me twice,’ he says, ‘that’s against the law.’ So he goes free.

"Of course the scientist has been observing and using the método científico to come up with theories. He puts his head in the guillotine, and looks up. ‘I think I see your problem,’ he says.”

“Stephanie? ... What does that have to do with fe y razón?”

“It doesn’t, it has to do with academics! Here you’ve just had satisfying sex with el más caliente woman you’ll ever know, and you want to talk about scientific reasoning. Ridiculous! Now, even more ridiculous, I want to talk about it. Jim, don’t you realize the método científico depends upon fe in human razón?

"All evidence points to great deficits in human reason. We talk about razón and logic, but we are motivated by emotion. On the other side, no society has lasted very long without illogical fe in something, some irrational myths they cling to for no apparent logical reason. There must be some biological survival reason for fe. Human nature requires fe. Razón is like yin, which you know means water. Razón is cold. It flows downwards, from logical rules and acts to conclusions. For example, if I said you were born in the year 2000, how old would you be?”

“Well,” I replied, “This year is 2052, so I’m fifty-two.”

“Really?” asked Stephanie.

“It could be fifty-one depending on the exact date in 2000 when I was born. I’m quite sure of that!”

“Logically and mathematically correct,” Stephanie laughed, “But, Jim ... JIM! Think about it. No matter what I happen to have said, you are in your thirties, not your fifties!” I rotated my head up and down. I was embarrassed that I was so careful about whether I was fifty-two or fifty-one when I knew so well I was thirty-three.

“Fe is like yang You know it means fire, bright, hot flames that shoot upwards. If you look directly at it you go blind. If you touch it with your hands, they are consumed. Fe, like fire, may jump unexpectedly from one person to another and consume them.”

“OK, Stephanie, I’ll accept that in ordinary life everybody does things that aren’t based on razón. However, in our professional lives, don’t we impose métodos that support razón? In science it’s the método científico. In business it’s some formal review and approval processes, such as the TABB Board we’re involved in this week.”

She sat up and shook her head. “Jim, you gave a wonderful presentation today that went a long way towards convincing the Board to go ahead with the Hawking Plan. Your presentation was más importante than any of the technical and contractual mumbo jumbo from the other members of my team. Do you know the best part?”

I sat up and rotated my head left and right. She continued. “It was when you were talking about the Dead Sea Scrolls and your voice choked up. You said how the Essenes, two-thousand years ago, saved history for us, and how it was our turn to do the same for those who will follow us.

"You turned all the esteemed Lieges of the TABB Board into potential Essenes! What a wonderful way to show them homage! All emotion! Emotion. Emotion. Emotion!”

I was surprised. “My talk and that part of it was the best?” I asked. “My favorite was Luke Mathews’s system engineering presentation. He came up with some great concepts and has a logical plan to study them and select the very best one.”

“You know Luke is the guy I told you about, don’t you?”

“Luke? The system engineer I’ve been working with for the past five months? What about him?”

“The very same. He’s a religioso literal believer! A Christian Fundamentalist!”

“I can’t believe it! He’s the most logical and well-informed person I’ve ever worked with. He gave no indication he was a religiosas locas. Are you sure?”

“’Ku-ke Lu-ke’ I call him. Ask him yourself tomorrow.”

“I will. Thanks for a very stimulating evening, Stephanie...” I wanted to go to my room and sleep, but now she wanted to talk.

“Speaking of fe y razón, have you heard the story of the ‘unexpected firing’?”

“No, what are you getting at?”

“Well, last year, before you arrived, I had to fire our lead mathematician. He was quite competent, but lacked teamwork skills and showed no flexibility, if you know what I mean.” I had no idea what she meant, but I shook my head up and down anyway.

“Well, I called him to my office and said it was his last week. He was totalmente destroyed and begged for his job. I hate to see anybody cry like a baby – even a baby; you know I hate crying babies! So, to give him something to think about during his last week, I offered him a proposition. He had to be in his office at noon every day. On one of the days of that very week, I said, I would show up and fire him and he’d be out by 1 PM. To make it interesting, I told him he’d be totalmente surprised when I showed up –and– if he could honestly say he was not surprised, not only would I not fire him but I would give him a promotion and a raise.”

“Kind of cruel, Stephanie. So, tell me el resto de la historia. When you actually fire him it will be no surprise to me.”

“OK Jim. So he went back to his office – and I could watch because I had a surveillance camera in there – and he closed the door and cried. Noon came and he looked at the clock. I didn’t show up and he stared at the clock until 1 PM and he was safe for the day. Well, that was Monday. So, on Tuesday his assistant noticed something was wrong and he told her the whole story. So they both sat in his office from noon to 1 PM and I didn’t show up.

“‘Well’, he said, ‘The Queen Bee didn’t fire me on Monday and she didn’t fire me on Tuesday, so she has to fire me on Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday.’ ’She can’t fire you on Friday’ said the assistant, who was also an expert in reasoning. ‘If you’re still in your office at 1PM on Thursday, that means she has to fire you on Friday, right? If she has to fire you, it won’t be a surprise, will it? She said you had to be totalmente surprised didn’t she?’”

“Sounds reasonable” I replied. “You couldn’t fire him on Friday because it wouldn’t be a surprise.”

Stephanie winked and continued, “They both thought about it for a while – these two paragons of human razón – and then the assistant said, ‘She can’t fire you on Thursday either! If we are sitting here at 1 PM on Wednesday, she has to fire you on Thursday or Friday. We already proved she can’t fire you on Friday, so she has to fire you on Thursday. If she has to fire you, it won’t be a surprise, will it? She said you had to be totalmente surprised didn’t she?’”

“Sounds reasonable” I replied. “Where are we going here?”

“Well, it wasn’t long before the guy I’m going to fire said “The Queen Bee didn’t fire me on Monday or Tuesday and we just proved logically she can’t fire me on Friday or Thursday, so she has to fire me on Wednesday. Right? If she has to fire me on Wednesday, it won’t be a surprise, will it? She said I had to be totalmente surprised by the firing or I’d get a promotion and a raise instead’”

“So, it sounds like you had to give the guy a promotion and a raise, right?” I concluded. “That’s the logic and razón of the story – unless you went back on your word.”

“Jim, I never go back on my word! Mi palabra es mi bondo! Anyway, on Wednesday the assistant brought in a rum cake to celebrate the promotion and raise this guy thought he was going to get. And they were eating the cake and a bit under the 'affluence of inchohol' from the rum when I showed up at high noon to tell him he was fired! Boy was he surprised!” Stephanie laughed energetically.

“You ... Stephanie, are very cruel. I’m in no position to evaluate the logic and razón behind that story. However, I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation!”

“You’re in no position? How about a position even the missionaries would approve?” She invited me to enjoy sex with her again – and we did.

“Our ‘team building exercise’ is over for this evening,” Stephanie said matter-of-factly when we were done. “We have a critical day tomorrow and need to get a good night’s sleep.”

When I returned to my room, I made the following cryptic entry in my e-calendar:

11 June 2052: DoHiMuTo, pitch to TPB – Team Building Exercise w Steph – WOW!

After that, I fell asleep almost immediately.

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Anonymous said...

the constant use of spanglish is a turn off.

Adult Diapers said...

Wow, Fantastic Blog, it’s so helpful to me, and your blog is very good,

Anonymous said...

Hello Ira, I am glad to see that you put your credentials and picture with your novel. The fact that you have a PH.D in engineering and that you are older than I had first expected (only thought you were younger because of the sexual overtones immediately referenced in relation to Jim's not so inhibited feelings(shame on Jim! He's both married and a rabbi!! LOL!!!) for the flawed doctor who also is the great-granddaughter of Hawking. Anyway, your chapter headings, your credentials and age have really gotten me interested in reading on further. So, let me see what I think.

Lisa Krasonja-Jones,
B.S. Biopsychology '91' from UMCP,College Park;
J.D. in Law '03' from University of Baltimore with a Concentration in Intellectual Property Law, Member of Intellectual Property Law Journal.
Practice part time in any area; not licensed in patent law (perhaps a future goal).

P.S. My interests are obviously law, but my higher interests include mathematics (the language of God), astrophysics, astronomy, genetics,and most of all consciousness, as defined to exist in anything, including machinery as long as it has the requisite intelligence for self-awareness as defined by some mathematical formula (this concept blew me away when I understood it!). Favorite pass-time included watching the science fiction channel, the science channel, the history channel, the Smithsonian channel, National Geographic channel, and so on. One of my only regrets: I didn't get a B.S. in engineering. Everybody should have an engineering degree! It's the MOST valuable undergraduate degree one can possess! It's worth every cent and dime! I'm presently, taking free courses online at MIT, it's part of their effort in manifesting their belief that education should be free for anybody that wants to learn. So, minus the cost and unfortunately the degree, my goal is to become a self-taught engineer in electrical engineering, as well as computer science.
I believe that reading fiction novels based on the hardcore sciences is the best way to learn more about the subject. I also would like to see more novels written by people like yourself to also include corroborative mathematical formulas.
I'm also interested in Witchcraft, Kaballah, and other Shamanic, and Hypnotic arts (Edgar Cayce is a seer of great interest to me). I have a split Judaic-Christian(Catholic)background that I wouldn't wish upon anybody. It's much worse than being raised by parents of the same religion! I imagine it's almost as tough as being bi-racial. Culturally, it's like being bi-racial. The only benefit I see fit is that I have good knowledge of both religions; sort of like being bi-lingual. Would I've traded that knowledge to be raised one way or the other? Yes! LOL. For example, my mother expected all of her children to have higher educations, where as my father could have cared less, and kicked me out of the house at 18. In fact, out of the 4 million dollars he inherited from his parents 20 years ago, he has spent a mere $50 total on me. So, I had the pressure to be educated (by my Jewish mother), but had no support whatsoever to carry it through, not by family, not by community! Yes, it was/is rough and lonely not having either family or community support, especially when you've done nothing to cause such an underdog situation. If I were raised by a mother that was like my father, I wouldn't have cared to be educated because that wouldn't have been stressed in my life. And if my mother would have married a man like herself, I would have had a supportive father, and would have also been locked in the community as well! It's actually I lot tougher than it sounds; to be raised bi-culturally.

Anyway, good luck writing career. I look forward to reading this novel of yours.