Saturday, November 27, 2004
Tick... tick... tick...
The only thing worse, I think, than waiting for something important to happen is knowing that there's a good chance that said something important already has happened. It's been a week since Carter bolted with no notice. How long does it take to travel cross-country, especially if you're not driving yourself? I was playing with Amtrak.com and Greyhouond.com earlier. Amtrak can apparently get you from Boston to Seattle in three and a half days, with two transfers; Greyhound can do it in as little as three with five. Of course, who knows if maybe Nat has made arrangements for faster transport at some point.
But, anyway, figure Carter gets to Seattle sometime Wednesday. Assume Nat and her people have been looking into Cater/Samantha's background in the interim, and then spent some time with Carter making sure that she was what she appeared to be and not some FBI sting operation. If I had to guess, I'd guess they performed the switch yesterday.
And then what? Homeland Security has "Martin Hartle" on the no-fly list, and any sort of background check will get their attention. I spoke with some of the local agents yesterday, as they tried to get any information on Nat and Carter that they could, and from what I gather, every law enforcement officer in the Pacific Northwest has "Sam"'s and Nat's and "Martin"'s pictures.
Of course, there's the question of how much worry the local cops will put into it - Nat must be just about ready to pop, and Carter (or, by now, Alexei) is this hundred-pound blonde teenager. How concerned would you be if you didn't know the backstory they have?
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
I live with a crazy person.
But, I guess we all deal with stress in our own ways. I alphabetize things, or if they're already in alphabetical order somehow reorganize them a la John Cusack in High Fidelity. It's a habit I've sort of retained from my previous life, and it was developed there in order to keep me from dealing with stress by eating. However, if that iteration of me had been the one sharing and apartment with Maureen, he probably would have exploded, because she evidently deals with stress by cooking.
I kid you not - when I got home from work today, she was making pies. A variety of pies. I don't know what she dropped at the grocery store, but she had peeled her own apples, made her own meringue, mixed the filling for a banana-cream... I was like, wow, her family was lucky.
Ha, she says, these are for us. There is no way I am going to sit in the back of one of my brothers' or sister's car while they're being insincere about being sorry just to arrive at the other end to hear my parents be smug about "Samantha" abandoning me - and it'll all be "Samantha", just to make sure it's clear to me that dating a girl was just an open invitation to heartache. Of course, if it were so easy with men then I would have been married right out of high school like Sean and Pat. Then, of course, they'll go on about me living in the city, and maybe, just maybe, they'll be caveman enough to suggest that if this is what sort of ideas a two-year Christian college put in my head, then think of what that state University must be doing to Krista...
I sort of started to back away, planning to get a Mike's out of the fridge, only to see a good chunk of the appliance filled with a turkey. Mo, I thought you were working tomorrow.
Oh, she is. Don't worry, though, she'd do all the stuffing and trimming and putting bacon on it for flavor, and put it in the oven, and if I'd just follow the instructions for when to turn the oven on, it'll be ready when she gets home at seven. Because I was planning on staying home and waiting to hear from the FBI anyway, right?
And don't worry, she'd mash the potatoes and make the gravy and and and and... I asked if she was planning on getting any sleep, but she said she not to worry, she'd be fine. That she needs to do this, because otherwise the thought of spending Thanksgiving away from her family for the first time ever would be too depressing but she just can't go back there.
So I tell her it's okay, that I wasn't looking forward to spending the holiday alone, either. Was weird last year (and led to me doing weird things), and I imagine spending it with a friend would be much better.
Yeah, she said, it would be. Then she laughed. Us, friends. If someone told her that I'd be her best friend when we first met, she probably would have just snorted. So would I, probably. Life's funny even outside the paranormal, isn't it?
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Amazingly stressful is...
...waiting for a call from someone in federal law enforcement when your job is, in large part, answering the telephone. This has happened about fifty times in the last few days:
PHONE: Brrr-ri--! (picked up before the first ring is finished)
MARTINA (breathlessly): Hello, Ellis Brothers Equipment, Martina speaking.
PHONE: Yes, I'm filming a training video for blah blah blah blah blah...
MARTINA (to herself): Damn, legitimate business.
It has, I gathered, been the same for Maureen, only she just has to look at the number on her cell in order to realize that, no, there's not yet any word on Nat or Carter or Alexei, just more hotel guests who want dinner reservations somewhere. She had called in sick at work on Monday, and was quite frankly surprised that I didn't. I couldn't think of a good reason not to go in, I said - it's sit here and wait for a call, sit at the FBI office and wait for information, or sit at work and actually do something useful while waiting for information. Besides, I've only been at my job for two months and haven't accrued much sick/vacation time, so soon it would be unpaid days off.
And, besides, your time off is precious. It should be hoarded for when you can do something positive, not just mope. And let's also face it - we can't afford not to work, because it suddenly doesn't look likely that Carter's going to be chipping in for the rent.
I'm a little worried about that last one, too - I've mentioned before that I'm awful with keeping on top of the bills, but Maureen isn't; she actually went to school for office management and is frightfully organized. She says we're okay, but she at least will have to cut back on Christmas presents for everyone but the twins (and not them because shopping for kids is more fun than for grown-ups anyway). Still, there will be a little belt-tightening going on, which is no fun.
Sunday, November 21, 2004
No pleasure in being right
Carter's on her way west. A security camera at South Station caught her not twenty minutes after we left the FBI; she took the first bus to New York and got lost in the crowd at Grand Central Station. No way to know which route she took to get there, or even if Seattle is where she's heading at all. I think it is, though - the situation between Nat and Alexei is personal, and Nat is going to want to be there to rip Alexei apart and put him back together as a girl.
Mo and I have been talking about this, about whether Alexei deserves that. There's no doubt that he intended to do it anyway, to get into a body that didn't have the law on its trail. He's never been violent, so we assume he didn't intend to make the trail completely cold by killing "Martin" or whatever intermediate body his mind occupied before switching to another man. Maybe he just intended to drive or sail to another country where it would be difficult for the American authorities to follow him.
But, anyway, the question is, does Alexei-Martin deserve to be punished for what "Alexei Zero" or Alexei-Michelle did? I've said before that I'm a new person, made out of Michelle's body and Martin's experiences. That I consider Martin's actions my actions, try to maintain his friendships and obligations, is my decisions, but do I have any responsibility in the eyes of the law? I asked the FBI agents (a stunning number of them have been through law school; these are smart people), and they said that, legally, I'm still Michelle Garber; I may have changed my name, but that any belief that I'm Martin is all in my head, so to speak. I guess it's nice to not have to worry about those college loans, but it also, perversely, means I'd be legally responsible for switching Martin Zero's mind with Alexei-Michelle's if the Feds were looking to bring charges for unauthorized use of a drug or treatment not endorsed by the FDA.
That's the big ethical dilemna with this sort of technology/technique/process. Nobody really dies when it's used - or has so far, that we know of; of course, who knows what long term effects a billion nanomachines sitting in your brain and making transmissions will have down the road. But when it is used, two unique people cease to exist as discrete units. There are still two people afterward, with all the same body parts and memories and mental and physical constructs that form personality traits, but they're new people. Soon, unless the FBI finds them first, Alexei-Martin and Carter-Samantha will disappear, to be replaced with Carter-Martin and Alexei-Samantha. Nothing will actually be gone, but two unique things will be no more.
If I hadn't called the FBI, and gone out there instead of Carter, would one of the two new people created by the process be "Martin Zero" again, or would he be Martina-Martin, or "almost Martin" or "Martin Prime"? We're all changing every day, after all.
Maureen is trying to think about it in terms of souls, but the lack of quantifiability is throwing her. When it's all said and done, will the girl she loved just be gone forever, will she still love "her" even though the part that's supposed to be really important is housed in a man's body, or what?
And no way to find out but to wait.