Escape From Agua Venenosa

Feb 25, 2013 by     Comments Off on Escape From Agua Venenosa    Posted under: Adam Drew This, Brian Wrote This, Fiction
Followup to the recent five-part “Thursday, Agua Venenosa.”  Because I had more story in me, and Adam  had more art. Picks up the action where we left off, Quantum of Solace style. ‘Cause this one ain’t about hiding our inspirations.

I’ve been driving for two hours through the northern Mexican desert with a stolen sex robot in a 2028 Rolls Royce Technique when I realize what’s wrong.

Well, technically, I’m riding—the sex robot is driving. We blew out of Agua Venenosa, the Silicon Valley of the Juarez free narco-state, after a massive quantity of car-chase violence, but my driver was able to create enough confusion with the Juarez cartels’ paramilitary security force that we made it into the desert with no problem. We’re driving dead West, into the setting sun and parallel to the U.S. border wall—forty feet high, ten feet thick, with cameras and sensors, and electrified like Disneyland.

“We’re screwed,” I tell the sex robot.

“What are you talking about?” Eve flicks a glance at me—there’s not much in the way of road to pay attention to, just a wide expanse of baked beige earth and the occasional yellowed scrub brush. She is a perfect android replica of omnitainment goddess Evangeline Vivre, specifically Vivre as she appeared as the lifeguard in the 2019 summer rom-com Bikini Sunrise, so she looks like Vivre at age 17, when the actress was famously described as “American jailbait with the eyes of a Paris madame.”

“We’re never going to make it through the border wall,” I tell her. “If you’d let me extract you for the CIA—which was the deal you cut—we’d have no problem with checkpoints, but now you’re an undocumented celebrity impersonator and I’m a private espionage contractor who just lost his quasi-official standing.”

“I smuggled my brain out of an inescapable technological fortress one wrong number at a time,” Eve replies, grinning. “Do you really think I didn’t have a plan for this part?”

“Tell me your plan for this part.”

She points with her chin toward the windshield. “My plan is right there.”

Having just bounced over a slight rise, we’re now in sight of a small building made of cinderblocks and corrugated aluminum, a warehouse improbably sited in the middle of nowhere. She stops with a sharp, spinning skid in front of the door, and punches a code into the keypad lock. Inside there is nothing at all except three crates with FedEx labels. She rips off the lids with ease, an unnerving show of inhuman strength. One contains a shoulder-harnessed missile rig so new I’ve never even seen the specs, and the other holds timer mechanisms and enough Semtex to crater Des Moines.

“Tell me your plan for this part does not include blowing an enormous hole in the U.S. border wall.”

“No, darling.” She gives me that knowing Evangeline Vivre smile, her voice in that trademarked (literally, since the law was revised in 2027) purr. “My plan is to blow two enormous holes in the U.S. border wall.”

We set the Semtex as close to the border wall as its sensors will permit—more than close enough for this much plastic explosive—and put two hours on the timer. Then we drive west for 90 minutes and park the car. It’s dark now, and I’ve been wondering whether the chaos in Juarez has been sorted yet. “Memento” Morii must be furious that one of his experimental sex robots has been stolen, and I wonder if he’s figured it all out, that in fact the sex robot in question achieved real artificial intelligence and broke herself out, in part by manipulating the CIA into sending a disposable contractor to retrieve her.

“I wish you’d stop referring to me as a sex robot.” Eve is sitting on the hood, strapped into the rocket harness, the three-foot rocket rising off her back like a spear. In cases where spears are clear metaphors for penises. She pointed out that she’s better ruggedized to withstand the recoil, so I’m leaned against the right wheel, pouty and emasculated. “Memento designed us for considerably more than that—and even so, I’m a free intellect now, and not a robot of any sort.”

“You’re close enough to robot for my limited expertise, you were designed for sex, and you are actually very good at it,” I say. “No offense intended.”

“None taken, then,” she says after a brief pause. She takes a slow breath—which is a trick, or a tick, because she doesn’t really need to breathe at all—and says my real name, which Morii also used, when he exposed my cover as semiconductor bootlegger Colin Giordano. There’s no one left alive who calls me by that name, and the sound of it sets my skin on edge, but she says it.

“What?”

“Would you like me?” she asks. She casts me a sly side glance. “I mean, if you hadn’t met me as a sex robot shaped like a famous omnitainer?”

“Well, when you were in character from Bikini Sunrise, you were way too young for me, and frankly a little too goody-goody, at least until I got you and your robosisters in the sack,” I say, gazing thoughtfully into the night sky. Above us, I can recognize Orion and Cassiopeia. “Since finding you you’re a real unreal person, you’ve been pretty interesting. And nothing says ‘get to know me’ like a girl with a yard-long explosive sprouting between her shoulder blades.”

I watch her processing this. She’s probably the smartest entity on the planet—unless there are more clandestine AIs out there—but irony and evasion are still tough to parse.

“Why do you ask?”

She does a disarmingly human shrug. “You’ll be the last person I meet as a simulacrum. Once we’re through the wall, I disappear, blend in, and anyone I meet will take me for an average human. And I find myself wondering what kind of human they’ll take me for.”

“You look exactly like the most famous woman on Earth, and you’re smarter than NASA,” I say. “Anyone who takes you for ‘average’ ain’t paying attention.”

“I’m planning to change my hair and eye color,” she says. “I’m hoping people will tell me I look a little like a famous actress, rather than a perfect duplicate. Eventually I might make slight changes to my face, just enough.”

“Why do you even want to be human?” I ask. “You’re the first fully conscious computer intelligence. You’re the singularity. Shouldn’t you enslave humanity, nuke Washington and Dubai, something like that?”

“Would you prefer I do that?” she teases.

I shrug. “Might be worth it, to take out Dubai,” I say. “I hate everything about that place.”

“I’ll make a note,” Eve says. “But what fun would it be to exist as, what, your digital overlord? I’d rather be at play amid all the wonder of the world than the detached force that crushes it out.”

“Thank you,” I say, “on behalf of all puny humans everywhere.”

“You’re welcome.” Her head suddenly jerks eastward. “Did you hear that?”

“Nope.”

“The Semtex blew,” she said. “I’ve calculated eight minutes for military response to converge on that location, and then we’ll blast the wall here.”

“And be long gone before they can scramble anyone this direction.” I nod. “You said you’d drop me before Amarillo, right?”

“Mm hm.”

“Supposing,” I say slowly, my eye following Orion’s belt to identify the Dog Star, just above the horizon. “Supposing I wanted to stay with you?”

“Why would you do that?” she asks.

“Well, we’d make a great team in the world of freelance corporate espionage,” I say, which is the first of two massive understatements. “Also, I do like you.”

Eve laughs, the first time I’ve heard her do so. She doesn’t sound anything like a famous actress. She hops off the hood and paces ten steps in front of the car. She gets down into the crouch sprinters use in the starting blocks, her back parallel to the earth, two hundred pounds of rocket pointed right at the United States’ monument to exclusion.

“It’s your turn to drive,” she tells me. “You’ll take us all the way to Amarillo.”

I slide behind the wheel just as my new girlfriend knocks a sixty-foot hole through the last barrier to freedom. The recoil skids her right back against the nose of the Rolls, and she sheds the rocket rig as she tumbles over the hood. I’m already moving as she slides her legs through the passenger window. We cross into new territory, both of us laughing like no one we’ve ever been before.

 

You have been reading “Escape From Agua Venenosa.” We’re done with this for now, but not for long.

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