The Pulse: B.C.
Berry agreed with the Baulian directive that the human race was an almost complete waste of time. The problem, however, was that there was a woman. And despite everything, Berry was a man.
Her name was Juniper. Berry met her in an Italian Literature class at the University of British Columbia. She was like the wind: wild and unpredictable. Together, they would look out over the steep cliffs and wind down through the trails that surrounded the campus on three sides. They would eye each other’s bodies on a secluded spot on the beach, he wearing his Jockey underwear, and she wearing her pink Emma lace thong and thin cotton t-shirt. He saw that her dimensions conformed to the configuration humans expressed mathematically as “36D.” Rolling over in the sand, her breasts separated, which made them seem even larger, even more tempting. All he wanted to do was dive head-first into that valley of cotton.
Berry and Juniper would eye each other’s bodies on the beach, and then wander chastely up to the Rose Garden, trying to remember what Dante wrote about Heaven.
At first Juniper’s pink hair reminded him of his own people, the ones he’d seen in the section behind membrane 47583.394. The section was supposed to remain separate, inviolable, pure. Yet somehow Juniper’s pink hair got refracted into it, and she seeped into his blood. Invisibly, without tinge, like sap. Definitely not in the way the architects of the Infraction had planned.
Sitting on the beach at sunset, her fluorescent dark green eyes reminded him of the liquid depths of the Crater of Dreams, which he had never seen (except in section 80813.471). During his dream cycle he would swim in the Crater as if he were a dolphin off the white beaches of Capri. And then it seemed to him that she was sitting there on the beach next to him, eyeing him with a curiosity he couldn’t fathom.
He, too, was perplexed, not so much about the chemistry between them (he had analyzed this and they were a perfect match), but by the imperfect synchrony of their names. For he knew that the berry of the juniper was no berry at all. It was a cone in disguise.
Looking at the sunset and then into her eyes, he condensed the moment into an ever-tighter, ever-deeper fractal. Just as the fractal was about to disappear, she reached out and touched his abdomen. She made up some excuse about the scar above his appendix, which had been removed when he was thirteen — medical science thus thwarting his body’s last-ditch effort to destroy the subatomic fluid that was ravaging and re-programming his DNA.
He told himself that humans were limited and ridiculous, that he couldn’t stand their self-absorption, their suffocating conception of romance, or their need to talk to each other to reassure themselves that their lives had some sort of meaning. It was sordid and idiotic. And yet he couldn’t live without it.
Slowly, his right hand lifted the cotton. His fingers were inches from the soft orbs that reminded him of his earliest years. He could feel Juniper’s pulse, even though his fingers were still inches from her skin. His fingers were about to connect him to the woman he loved when an orange streak extracted him, and he was no longer there.
Next: Total Collapse