Paige said, “I won’t keep you in suspense. My client is Washington Westwood Hohokus.”
A joke, Miranda thought. WWH, the self-proclaimed “King of Pop,” wasn’t merely a “star”… he was a music industry demigod. His Chiller had been the world’s best-selling album for ten years now. Paige might just as well have claimed that her client was the Archangel Gabriel, or Vishnu, or Mickey Mouse.
But Paige was still smiling, and Rose took it in stride, and slowly Miranda realized that it was not a joke; instead, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. And nothing, nothing, could keep them from accepting the offer.
A month later, a spacious private jet flew Rose and Miranda to California, a limousine drove them from the airport to a secluded country estate, and Latrisha Paige escorted them to a study/drawing room and into the Presence.
Despite Miranda’s knowledge that he was her own age, she had expected WWH to be a child, a pretty teenybopper, androgynous and anorexic — instead, she found a mature young man, graceful and slender but with a dancer’s muscles moving beneath leotards and a white silk robe. He bowed over her hand, and Rose’s, kissing the air a centimeter above her skin. “I’m very pleased to meet both of you. Welcome to my home.” His voice was gentle, and carried with it the barest whisper of song, as if an unseen and almost-imperceptible phantom choir followed him around.
He nodded to Paige, who discreetly withdrew. “Please, make yourselves comfortable.”
2042: Miranda's grandson Damien brings his fiancee, Penylle, to visit his grandfather, WWH:
He eases the door open, and together they step into the heart of Oz.
The chamber is round and fully ten meters across. The domed ceiling is a stylized sky, with golden suns and cotton clouds. Dark figures stand in shadowed alcoves around the perimeter; a waist-high rail of polished mahogany forms a three-meter circle in the room’s center.
Damien leads the way to the railing; it encircles a pit which overlooks the room below. This chamber, about four meters below, looks like a hospital operating theater. White-coated medical personnel, oblivious to those above, tend an assortment of consoles and instruments. The focal point of all this attention, in the center of the room, is a translucent sarcophagus; inside it, a human figure is just barely discernible.
“Damien!” The voice comes from behind them; Damien and Penylle turn to see a figure step out of its alcove. It is WWH, but WWH from the past: a slender, androgynous youngster, wearing the archaic red zippered jacket from his Tough videos. “It’s so good to see you.”
One by one around the room, the other alcoves brighten and their occupants step forth: a baker’s dozen of WWH’s, ranging in age from the ten-year-old star of the H5 to the wizened, stooped master entertainer who had given Oz to the world.
Penylle looks from one to the other in bewilderment, then whispers, “Robots.”
A middle-aged WWH in a fairly conservative business suit takes her hand and bows over it. “Animatrons, we call them here, lovely lady. Damien, will you introduce us?”
Read more in Dance for the Ivory Madonna by Don Sakers
copyright (c) 2002, Don Sakers
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