Eno thought he'd been allowed to drive to AREA 51 to be shown the 'facility'. It turns out he is part of the show, and that the show must go on.
I was thinking of asking Trank how he got the Zappata moustache and chin stripe goatee which weren't there this morning but remembered, just in time to avoid making a fool of myself, that in IRL, as the nerds say, it hadn't been only THIS morning but some other morning, an indefinite number of days ago; and that even if he hadn't had time to 'grow', in this sim (and I had to remind myself it still WAS a sim, even after my recent dip in the Mediterranean), he could look like anybody or any thing he liked. I assumed he was dressed up (or was it down?) as FZ because I was such an admiring fan; owning more than half of his official output and with Youtube access to all of the rest, despite the ongoing efforts of Gail, Moon and the Zappa Family Trust.
I sat down between Karl and Quaternity and began to tuck into my steak and chips, taking a long swig of that glorious California orange juice. It reminded me at once of the freshly pressed Mazoe orange juice that they had served at the 'Flower Pot' in that quaint, shady little continental style courtyard, just off Manica Avenue in Salisbury. I used to eat steaks just like this; char grilled and served in split, fat, white bridge rolls while drinking the juice, back in the mid 'sixties. Those were the days. Maybe 'they' were deliberately making me nostalgic for my childhood again. I was beginning to wonder how real even THAT had been.
But why? This was insane. I'd been through all that more with than one of the TWOs, three, I think, or was it four?. Three or Four? I wasn't sure any more. I'd told them everything I remembered and been glad to do it. I'd told the various 'visitors' to The Village who had called themselves psychologists or even psychiatrists all the same things, all over again, in ever greater detail as I salvaged more and more of my shattered memories. There was only one thing... that I couldn't talk... couldn't, mustn't ..... think of.
I already knew Quaternity was prickly about being called Trinity in what 'they' had tried to assure me was 'Real Life'; THE Real Life; the World Outside The Village; the desert outside L.A.; the secret compound out beyond Edwards AFB at Groom Lake, INSIDE Area 51! Couldn't they see why, for a whole bunch of reasons, I couldn't yet commit myself to a firm belief in ANY of this? She looked at me mischievously and a familiar voice spoke from a familiar apparent location and distance, into my right ear. With a sweet, innocent childish sense of wonder, it said;
"He's fallen in the water!"
I know we'd all heard it before. Everybody in the world over forty years old has heard it. It's what happens in the GOON show every time there's a splash of any kind, for any reason; or none. The entire table had cracked up and I just couldn't resist it any longer. I sprayed fresh orange juice all over my chips and joined them in helpless, convulsive laughter. After we'd recovered and I'd cleaned myself up I abandoned the soggy chips, ate the last few bites of my steak and began to listen seriously all over again while the A-Team and Dr Young explained, to my growing consternation and alarm, what was going to happen next.
"You're going to be the subject of a lecture, dear boy!" said Karl cheerfully. "This facility has one of the best lecture halls in the entire state... seats eight hundred people easily," he pointed towards a self closing door with a round porthole in it at head height. "For convenience, and because space is limited, the exit on this side leads straight to the canteen; so the permanently 'on base' People, the Desert Rats as I call them, can all come in here afterwards and have a chin wag."
"Who's speaking? You're not going to ask me to GIVE the lecture are you?" I'd had that sprung on me once too, in Horton.
"Better even than that, my dear chap, good as you are.... No. Today," I waited with bated breath is if he were about to tell me about the imminent arrival of the Second Coming, "We're going to hear Henry Markram himself talk about the whole history of his and our progress, from 'Blue Brain' to 'Whole Human Brain'. Some wag wanted to call it 'Blue Whale' when he saw the projected size of it, but he was instantly dismissed. We've always called the Mk II 'Big Brain, actually..."
"The MARK TWO?" I shouted. "I thought you said I was the ONE!"
"You ARE the ONE, my dear chap! I believe that, anyway. The first SUCCESSFUL One... all the Mk I series models crashed within subjective days when they didn't go immediately and permanently insane. As soon as the team had seen that happening they assumed that YOU were 'suffering' and switched you off. Parameters would be changed, intense brain storming would produce a new idea that might stabilise the machine's processing and output. It never happened. They all crashed"
"And I haven't?"
"Oh, you've crashed five times; six if you count this morning; but I don't think that really counts, do you?"
"So, the other five times.... I got 'set back'. What is that?"
"It's like this... when they are SURE that you have gone irretrievably insane you are deleted...."
"...deleted, and the stored parameters from the last time in The Village when you were known to be sane get re-loaded; and we start again from there."
"So why doesn't the same thing just happen all over again from there, if I don't remember what happened.... will happen..... after... what's to stop me doing exactly the same thing all over again?"
"Chaos and complexity. Tiffany is the expert" Quaternity gave Karl a dirty look. She would only be 'Tiffany' to me when we were both firmly in the Real, the World Outside, and I knew it. I sensed that that was just the way she was; determined to stay firmly 'in character' whichever version of reality we were in together. People were beginning to drift towards the canteen exit, murmuring quietly like an expectant theatre audience discussing the play they are about to see, of which they have already read the script. It was slightly unnerving.
"So... this lecture I have to go to... " I said in my 'young Michael Caine' voice.
"Is starting now...", replied the Professor of Existential Philosophy in a tone that sounded exactly like the one used by Nigel Green as ex-Army Major Dalby to Michael Caine as ex-Army Intelligence Sergeant Harry Palmer, in The IPCRESS File.