Tom Purdom

Back home in Delaware County, in the area 
that was generally known as the "Philadelphia 
region", the three guys talking to George Sparr 
would probably have been descended from long 
dead ancestors who had immigrated from Sicily.
Here on the Moon they were probably the sons
of parents who had been born in Taiwan or 
Thailand.  They had good contacts, the big one 
explained, with the union that "represented" 
the musicians who played in eateries like the 
Twelve Sages Cafe.  If George wanted to 
continue sawing on his viola twelve hours a 
day, thirteen days out of fourteen, it 
would be to his advantage to accept their 
offer.  If he declined, someone else would 
take his place in the string quintet that 
the diners and lunchers ignored while they 
On Earth, George had played the viola because 
he wanted to.  The performance system he had 
planted in his nervous system was top of the 
line, state-of-the-art.  There had been weeks, 
back when he had been a normal take-it-as-it-comes 
American, when he had played with a different 
trio or quartet every night, including Saturday, 
and squeezed in two sessions on Sunday.  Now 
his performance system was the only thing 
standing between him and the euphoric
psychological states induced by malnutrition.  
Live music, performed by real live musicians, 
was one of the lowest forms of unskilled labor.  
Anybody could do it, provided they had attached 
the right information molecules to the right
motor nerves.  It was, in short, the one form 
of employment you could count on, if you were 
an American immigrant who was, when all was 
said and done, only a commonplace, cookbook 
kind of biodesigner.
George's grasp of Techno-Mandarin was still 
developing.  He had been scraping for money 
when he had left Earth.  He had sold almost 
everything he owned-- including his best 
viola-- to buy his way off the planet.  The 
language program he had purchased had been a 
cheap, quick-and-dirty item that gave him the 
equivalent of a useful pidgin.  The three guys 
were talking very slowly.
They wanted to slip George into one of the 
big artificial ecosystems that were one of 
the Moon's leading economic resources.  
They had a contact who could stow him in one 
of the carts that delivered supplies to the 
canaries-- the "long term research and 
maintenance team"-- who lived in the ecosystem.  
The contact would think she was merely 
transferring a container that had been 
loaded with a little harmless recreational 
George was only five-eight, which was one 
reason he'd been selected for the "opportunity".  
He would be wearing a guaranteed, airtight 
isolation unit.  Once inside, he would hunt 
down a few specimens, analyze their genetic 
makeup with the equipment he would be given, 
and come out with the information a member 
of a certain Board of Directors was interested 
in.  Robots could have done the job, but robots 
had to be controlled from outside, with 
detectable radio sources.  The Director 
(George could hear the capital, even with his 
limited knowledge of the language), the 
Director wanted to run some tests on the 
specimens without engaging in a direct 
confrontation with his colleagues.

There was, of course, a very real possibility 
the isolation suit might be damaged in some way.  
In that case, George would become a permanent 
resident of the ecosystem-- a destiny he had 
been trying to avoid ever since he had arrived 
on the Moon.
Copyright (c) 1997 by Tom Purdom.  All rights 
reserved.  This document may be printed out and 
archived for personal use.  All other use is 
strictly prohibited.

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