At first, I feel bad for the iguana.
I’m almost surprised that the drone tagged it. On infra, it’s barely yellow; just a tepid, scrawny blob clinging to a vine, suspended over brutal surf. For all I know, it’s the last of its kind in the New Grenada Atolls.
My Ray-Bans zero in and I can see the faint pulse in its throat, its skeletal frame, its slowly blinking eye. I’m considering hitting IG and letting the miserable creature face inevitable death when the drone pivots and pulls back.
There is a boy above the iguana. It strikes me that both boy and iguana look equally gaunt. The boy has a knife clenched in his teeth. Some kind of raggedy-ass paracord is roped under his arms. I pan up and see two men are standing above the severe drop. They’re lowering the boy down toward the iguana. Both men are probably ex-militia. They wear camo with the legs and arms sheared off, machetes in their belts. Their teeth flash as they bark instructions to the boy. Improbably, one is wearing a vintage Disneyland ball cap.
The boy does not look happy. The men look intent.
The drone and its mama AI keep flashing alerts. They see weapons. They see an unauthorized perimeter breach. They see the sort of ugliness that a guest of Lulutopia should never see, and will never. As the resort’s chief security officer—(HELLO! My Name is NIGEL BLANC, CSO. says my aura.)—my job is clear. I should terminate the incident and file it away as an unpleasantry. That’s the corporate euphemism du jour, anyway. Good night, Irene. Longer dreams and shorter telomeres while you sleep.
Everything I do is now being recorded. I have seconds before I’m overriden.
If you haven’t heard of Lulutopia, there’s a good reason. We do not advertise. We are invitation only. We are not for the one-percenter. We are for the point-two-percenter. And as of today’s global yen-doge market report, only 1,345 adults on (hey, or off) the planet currently qualify to be our guests. We can safely assume you’re not one of them. Neither, certainly, am I.
My very first day as an intern, I met one of the Accomplished. That’s how our training told us to address them. He was wearing a pale blue e-kimono, with custom pheromones. His kid was puking in the sandbox.
“What the fucking fuck, Nigel?” he roared.
I froze. “Sri…” My Ray-Bans filled in the blanks in his aura. “Sri Silverstein. How may I exceed your expectations today?”
“My kid’s puking in the sandbox,” he said icily.
“I’m so sorry, Sri Silverstein,” I said. (A true tongue-twister, that.) “As Lulutopia’s third security officer trainee, I can assure you there are no bio-contaminants in the vicinity, and your son’s registering only mild distress.”
“Other than upchucking his cookies,” he said. “Do you know who I am?”
Of course, I did. My Ray-Bans were scrolling epileptically.
First name: King. American. Water baron. Desalination mogul. Yen-doge: 1.4356T. Wife: Batia. Israeli. Son: King Jr. Nut allergies.
“Perhaps your son might have mistakenly enjoyed a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie this morning? In your suite?” I asked. “Srimatil Silverstein placed an order at 10:46 am.”
In the sandbox, most of the kids were enjoying Pirate Day. One had dug up a brass heart-shaped locket, circa 2041. Another was brushing sand off a wallet , even older. But not King Jr.
He was dry heaving.
His blubbery body and face were beaded with sweat. He made tiny yack-yack sounds. His e-kimono was bunched up over his haunches. My silent request for a medi-angel was still pulsing.
King Senior, water baron, screwed up his porcine face into utter contempt. “I don’t know where they get you people, Nigel,” he said. “You swarthy little people.”
He licked the back of his bracelet. Venlafaxine, my Ray-Bans said. And a soupçon of Y.
That was my first day. As an intern. Of course, the medi-angel arrived shortly. And all was resolved.
Still, I had my first unpleasantry on my permanent record.
The boy is almost within reach of the iguana.
Lulutopia is Chinese-owned. If necessary, (no lie!) our security can call in the support of a nuclear submarine. Our dedicated satellite unremittingly watches over the Accomplished, ensuring their welfare, while forgetting their foibles. All is always well. Our guests enjoy unparalleled access to power, geishas, organics, biologics, and real blood oranges. They literally extend their lives by visiting us.
Our spa is non-pareil in telomere rejuvenation, rental knees and ex-rotic massage.
But my people are swarthy little people.
Fillipa Sam Longjohn shares my cot in staff quarters. She works in hospitality, a C-class geisha, close to B. She strokes my thigh. Her kimono is pink. Her aura is flashing like houndfish, hooked and dangerous.
“So what did you do?” she asks.
“I filed an unpleasantry,” I say.
About the Creator
Murray is an accomplished painter and writer.
Through 2010, he was shown exclusively by Treehouse Studio Galleries. His work hangs in private collections around the world. He's also published 5 books. You can see more at www.pdmurray.art