Phyton: Episode 2

**Previous episode**

Al had just picked up his fork for the delivered plate of food.

“Al, may I sit with you?”

He turned and saw Jeff at his elbow, trying to let people go by in the tight confines of the diner’s aisles between tables. He shook his head, but said, “Sure” and set down his fork as Jeff slid into the booth opposite. Of course Jeff knew about the diner, Al came here every week after fencing on Wednesdays for the last 20 or so years. In fact Al tried to imagine a time when he had missed this ritual, only conferences, and always the same sunny-side-up burger even if it was late evening. The only change was the company, over the years people had come and gone, including Jeff for a while.

“I’m really sorry,” Al snapped back to the present as Jeff pulled out a manilla envelope, he did look a bit sorry, “but the boss said to have another go at you.” He slid the envelope over the table, missing the fork.

“What’s this?” Al felt like he was in one of those old spy movies.

“A bit more evidence and hopefully quite a bit more incentive.” That was ambiguous, possibly ominous.

“So what’s he have that he thinks that you talking to me would help?” Al’s hand hovered over the envelope for a second before he decided to accept it.

Jeff indicated the envelope and Al opened it, some sort of teflon if he was any judge, and pulled out the specs and e-paper set. He definitely didn’t feel comfortable with the large glasses frames, it seemed a bit too close to the pair he had finally rid himself of, but between the government being half a step behind with technology and the recent crackdown on autonomous entities it was unlikely that the paper would interface with his permanent contact lenses because it wouldn’t be able to positively ID him. In fact if the heft was any indication the e-paper might be recently dug out of storage, without even a capacity to support a basic entity.

The specs were coded to be able to read the phased display of the e-paper, making it legible for him, otherwise it was just a mess of gray lines for anybody else looking at it, though without an entity there was a limit to how thoroughly it could be encoded, anybody could slip on the glasses to read it.

“They told me it was rigged to wipe when you took the glasses off, so, uh, don’t move them around your face after you have them on.” Jeff must have been referring to his habit, Al smiled carefully and looked down at the paper.

“Thanks. Do you know what’s on here?” Al asked as the paper and glasses were syncing.

“Nope, better that I don’t at this moment.”

A gray scale photo of a doting mother and a child sitting on a park bench swam into view as the glasses and paper finished syncing. The concise paragraph below told a few details about the photo:

Angela Fisler and son, Edward, in Monterey, CA. Dr. Fisler and husband Dr. Gustaf Fisler run a small lab for the D.o.D. on several internal microbiome projects meant to enhance a person’s survival in harsh conditions. While the work from the lab has been exemplary, there is cause to suspect unsanctioned human experimentation of unknown extent. More thorough investigation is suggested.

“Great.” Al sat back,  took off the glasses and watched through the reduced view as the page was scrubbed. Rubbing the bridge of his nose he slid the now blank set back to Jeff. “That’s the Angela I know, though a bit older now and a kid…” He trailed off hoping that he wasn’t giving too much classified information away, “If I had known that I might be their only chance for a ‘negative skeptic’ I wouldn’t have been so short with you last time.”

“I sure hope that’s a yes.” Jeff didn’t take the materials, but stared at him hopefully.

“Yep, so how soon can we get funding for my inept replacements? And probably more liability insurance for the mistakes they will make?”

“They won’t be that bad.” Jeff slid the paper and the specs back into the manilla-colored envelope.

“How old were you during the crop failure of ‘35?”

“Twelve. My parents were certainly worried.”

“Well between the large corporations waging a no-seed-crop war and the testing failure it cost nearly a trillion dollars to straighten it out, not something an insurance company takes lightly.”

Jeff seemed to mull over it for a few moments, “I think I can convince my boss that we don’t want to have that happen again.” Even though he seemed serious Al could see that he was excited to get a positive answer. “I’ll have information to start the process tomorrow.”


“I would really like to get this over with, so sooner is better.”

**Next episode**

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