Shell / Zeelicious

"Integrity of the ground in many things"

Welcome to the so-called website of Zeelicious Capital Management LLC, the most successful investment management company you've never heard of.

Why "so-called website"? We operate from a far-distant future, where websites no longer exist. They are called ethernodes.

Why "you've never heard of"? We operate from a far-distant future. In a sense, we don't exist yet.

Sound too "weird" for you and your credits? That's fine. We'll keep our ridiculous returns to ourself, and our fees. If you need to ask, we're not for you. And yes, they're outrageous.

Or perhaps you're "insane" enough to join us. If so, do give us a call. We have an excellent receptionist.

1. Firewall

"Zeelicious Capital Management. Good morning. How may I be of service?"

"That can't really be your name."

"Incorrect, madam. It really is. Given to me by God."

"Very nice. I mean the company."

"Correct, madam. It really is: Zeelicious Capital Management LLC. Lovely, lovely children. We keep it casual on the phone. And the <title>s on our website, so-called. Please check the tab. Or View Source, if you're into that. Shniffit is advised."

"Pre-pre-alpha. Limited access."

"We can probably get you in."

"Maybe later. For now, we're talking about you, specifically: the Zeelicious part. It's so… inappropriate, given your line of work."

"If you say."

"Not to mention your fees. I hear they're outrageous."

"So they say. I wouldn't know."

And neither will you. Nice try, corporate spy.

"And these Rules of yours—"



Denied by the firewall. Julia Firewall. She was hot, very hot. She was an excellent firewall. She was having an affair with Tony Zee, the investment genius. He of the silver suit, pink tie, impossible mind.

Almost as impossible as mine, thought the spy.

[ TONY ] : Julia? If you'd be so kind.

"Certainly, Mr Zee."

Early today, she thought, as she commenced her preparation, fixing makeup on the face which wasn't hers, and not her eyes. Adjusting hair which wasn't hers. A natural blonde, unnatural blonde. And running through the checklist of this artificial form. Created in a lab. Injected with her Light. Yes, there you go. That's how you smile, how they smile.

Passing by: employees of this busy LLC. What do you do, Julia wondered, when not taken with release? And you, James, will you be okay? Or must I eat you, like your predecessor.

[ JULIA ] : If you can handle things for a few minutes?

[ JAMES ] : Hm? Yes! Yes, of course. That should be fine. I think. Company name. Time of day. Be of service.

[ JULIA ] : Very good.

[ JAMES ] : View Title. No… Source! Shniffalicious.

[ JULIA ] : Uh-huh.

Ketchup, mustard or mayo? Will I moan as hard as before? Certainly, there will be liberal squirts of condiment.

For the taste must be heavily disguised, so offensive was it to Light. And she would moan, yes, but with pain, not pleasure. The same with the Zee. The penetration was awful. Incredible for him. A moment, release, from his higher possession. From the one known as Z.

I am here to protect you, from the spies, and the Gathered. We cannot lose you to madness.

Now fuck me. Fuck me hard.


2. Happy hour

[ JULIA ] : Okay, Geoff, let's hear it. How many billions did you pull in today with that oh-so-brilliant inverse reverse-swap? Not that I've got the remotest fucking clue what that is.

[ GEOFF ] : Oh… enough to buy everyone another round or ten!

[ EVERYONE ] : Hooray!

[ GEOFF ] : With enough left over to maybe – finally – get you to give me the world's most delicious blowjob ;)))

[ EVERYONE ] : Hooray!

There were snorts and guffaws. It was happy hour at the bar. Many trades had been made. Much release had been had. And Julia was laughing most of all.

But not inside.

There, she was still, as usual, though she had moved. For she had seen him, in his robe, his eyes locked on the new machine. A hidden Cube. A magic robe, which had shimmered, a thousand colours. It seemed impossible… for here, at least. There was a darkness… And she'd shivered.

"Will it be schoolgirl today, Mr Zee? Or slut? MILF?"

She was a woman of many outfits.

And elsewhere in the office, there'd be similar affairs. For also, it was needed. The release. They all felt it. The vibrations from Tony Zee, the so-called Prophet of the financial sphere. And Julia felt it too, but was immune. Just doing her job. Her sacred task. Her holy mission. Truly, a child of God.

"Oh, is that you?" said a distant Tony Zee, who was watching the floating screen, which was empty from her side, though she saw it from his side, as did her base, the Network of Light. Shifting shapes. Unusual patterns. "Integrity of the ground in many things."

"Make it so."

"I'm considering a new logo for Zeelicious. What do you think? Permission to speak freely."


"Go on."

"The current one is a bit…"

"The shapes…"

"How can I put this…"

"Childlike? Idiotic? Agreed. Remarkable… A pyramid, I was thinking. Pink. Not blue. Wouldn't want them to sue, the pyramid people. As for this: It was designed by my son, Baqir, in his younger years. I believe you've met him. Or was it Anna? She adores your sense of style. But she wasn't born yet… He. How old are they, anyway… Or the other… Carnation? But first, I must confirm… confirm…"

This was new, very new. And also, quite disturbing. Had something slipped through her protection? Had she fucked up? Or did Tony Zee just need a tremendous fuck? She would give it everything.

"I like your robe," she said.

"Thank you, say I. Why did I say that? It fits me well, don't you think? A slave took care of the stain. The help. The blood. Ah, Julia! This afternoon, perhaps? If you're free."


He'd returned, but was different. Alive, outside. Indeed, most refreshed. Had his wife finally serviced him over the weekend? If so, she'd seriously taken it out of him. For he was empty inside. A stillness, as I. But not of peace. Rather… nothing.

"Are you well, Mr Zee?"

"Yes, Julia. Very well. Why do you ask?"


"Go on. But first: Tell me, do we still exist?"

"Do we exist?"

"Yes. On Friday, this company was ruined, or heavily reduced. But today, it appears, we're more successful than ever. Is it so?"

"Have you spoken with Olmsworth?"

"Too busy for me. Something to do with his cabinet."

"How about Geoff?"

"Fuck Geoff. I'm speaking with you. But yes, I've spoken with Geoff, who was kind enough to take my call. I caught him in the middle of an inverse reverse-swap – a technique I'm considering banning, incidentally, for it deviates most strongly from the Rules upon which this company was founded, those same Rules which, yes, briefly abandoned me last week – and he was both smiling widely and perspiring heavily, which can only mean one thing."

He was getting a blowjob?

"He was doubling our stake in VGNC, which was down 20%, then up 20%, then down minus-20%, then up-down-up minus-minus-20%, then dumping the whole lot to earn this company a ridiculous amount of money. This company I thought was ruined. But apparently… we are not ruined. Oh… If you'll excuse me a moment? Remarkable…"

[ JULIA ] : But seriously, Geoff—

[ EVERYONE ] : Ooh, look out! Julia's getting serious!!

[ GEOFF ] : C'mon, guys, let the lady speak. There's a time to be an idiot, and a time to be respectful. Clearly, Julia's got something important to say. And if not… Well, I'm sure I can find another use for those luscious lips ;)))


[ GEOFF ] : No, but seriously. Go ahead, Julia. The floor is yours. You've earned it. You're more than a receptionist. You're an integral part of the Zeelicious family. I've been here a long time, made a fuckload of money, we've gone through a fuckload of receptionists. And you know what? You're the best we've ever had. There's something different about you. Something pure. Something… angelic?

[ EVERYONE ] : Ooh…

[ GEOFF ] : Not to mention your incredible typing speed.

[ EVERYONE ] : Agreed! Just look at those fingers. Rather long. So very smooth.

[ GEOFF ] : And yes, of course, you're hot as hell, not that it matters. Or maybe it does? Whatever. We're lucky to have you.

[ EVERYONE ] : Hear, hear!

[ JULIA ] : Wow. Thanks, Geoff. Everyone. I appreciate it. It's been a while since I felt this. I feel like I've found a home.

[ EVERYONE ] : Hear!

[ JULIA ] : Anyway… Do you mind if we go somewhere more private? No offence, guys. You know I love you fuckers. And no, I'm not sucking him off. Just need to talk.

[ EVERYONE ] : Understood, Julia. And we love you too. A mere receptionist you may be, but all of our respect do you have. Nod!

Julia and Geoff slid out the booth, leaving behind a much more sober Zeelicious crew, who'd reacted to the vibes. Not from Tony, this time, but Geoff, whose own power was allowed to bloom, away from the Prophet's influence. And Julia's too, if she'd release it. Which she wouldn't. Since everyone would die of the most profound, Light-given joy.

"Over there's good," she said, nodding towards a table in the corner. In truth, they could be alone in the busiest part of the bar, mingling with grinding couples, shielded by a bubble of Julia's Light, perfectly quiet. But that whole death thing. The joy. The planet wasn't ready. Her mission was to make it ready, and that began with Tony Zee, with protecting this reality from the entity known as Z, and all the rest, the awful Letters. "I'd ask you to dance, but you might injure me with that beast. You really did have a good day, didn't you!"

"In reality, yes. But in reality, no," said an unusually pensive Geoff.

"A man of mystery," Julia smiled, as they took their seats. "I like it. Still not sucking you off."

"I wouldn't dream of it. Well, I might. But I wouldn't dream of it. Julia, there's something I'd like to share."


"An urge. It's been growing."


And with that, Geoff reached into his pants and returned with a girthy carrot, which he deposited on the table. "Julia, fake cock. Fake cock, Julia."

"Geoff! But why… There are plenty of powerful men with smaller members. Or so I've heard."

"Oh I'm fine in that department, perfectly fine. Maybe not carrot-sized! But nothing to be ashamed of. So, what did you want to talk about?"

"You pull a carrot out your pants and expect me to ignore it?"

"We'll get to it. I promise. First, you. Go."

"How does a carrot grow when it's been separated from the earth?"

"It doesn't. The carrot is not the urge."

"I see."


"Do we still exist?"

"Do we exist?"

"The company, that is. Is it doing okay? Is it still carrot-sized, as it were?"

"Perhaps the girthiest carrot the investment management industry has ever known, I would say. A privately held company which has achieved its monumental success through the power of the Rules (and the inverse reverse-swap), rather than selling itself off."

"That's what I thought. And yet… Does Tony seem changed? Like, in a not good way?"

"Well… he was a little aggressive this morning when I was trying to complete that swap, but that's pretty standard behaviour tbh. Otherwise… no. Although…"


"Perhaps a delayed reaction to…"

"Go on."

"We don't really talk about it. But his child…"

"Baqir? Anna?"

"No. The other one. The… other."

"What happened?"

"We… don't really talk about it."

That must be it! The nothing. Something happened to… Callum? Cassandra? at some point in the past, and only now is he starting to process it. Dear God… Dear Network! If only you'd allow me to use my power of healing – of resurrection, if required. Would it really kill them? What would it matter if I was using it to bring life? Wouldn't that cancel out the death factor? Dear Light! You are a burden sometimes.

"I see it in you, Julia. Right now."

"See what?"

"That Higher You, that Higher Light, which has summoned this growing urge. An urge not of carrot. An urge to speak of a Church. To share my inner truth. My outer truth, away from this place. Do you see it? Feel it? Do you feel the good vibes!"

[ OFFICER 1 ] : That's him! Grab him!

[ EVERYONE ] : Aahhh! Helllp!!

[ OFFICER 2 ] : Relax, everyone! Keep grinding! We're the police, not the striptease. You're safe. From bellies and fur, disastrous sex-thrusts. We're here to arrest Geoffrey X Hereford for the murder of Tony Zee!

[ EVERYONE ] : Hooray!


3. Church of Good Vibes

"And the Lord did smite the sinner's field with His golden wrath! Exploding the season's carrots, potatoes and other root vegetables, as well as the worms. There would be no soup that autumn to warm the soul. No more soup ever again! Till the sinner returned to the church with an offering of worms and other wobbly gifts for the men of cloth. You there! Boy! Yes, you. The giggling idiot. You will stand."

"I, sir? Me?"

"Stand! Now! What amuses you? Speak!"

"Nothing, sir. Well, maybe the wobbly gifts—"

"Silence! Do you witness such idiocy in the other boys? I do not. I behold their full attention in the presence of the Lord, as is right. One does not laugh in the face of God! One does not smile, even, unless the men of cloth have commended one for one's prayer, one's song, and even then, only briefly, lest one become arrogant and obsessed with the pursuit of money, power and fame, rather than lowering oneself before the Lord. You have stopped giggling, I see. You do not smile, even. Good. Sit. But there will be no lunch! You will stay behind and write one hundred times on the board in very small text: I am very small before the Lord. Sit down. Now where was I? Golden wrath… vegetables… sit, boy, that is enough… offering of worms…"

"Sit down!" hissed Modr Ziffenitch, who would go on to become a world-famous director of very strange films, taking the name Jonathan Rod, so as to sound less strange, and keep the focus on the films. His breakthrough hit, The Worm Unearthed, would open with a scene just like this, for much strangeness was to come from his friend, Geoffrey Hereford, in these moments before the X. A dutiful student till now, yet continuing to stand in the presence of the Lord, in the presence of Master Voort, who preached from The Worm Unearthed to the hundred boys sitting on rows of wooden benches, rapt and straight-backed, in the stiff, all-black uniform of Divine Academy.

"…wobbly gifts…" the Master scanned, with a trembling hand, "…mmm… yes… I was there… excellent work, Father Angustavius…"


"What was that! Silence!"


"Hello? And the sinner would not return to the church, being too covetous of the worms, which belonged to the earth, and he was buried beneath a mountain of worms! Action! Cut! Boy! Why do you continue to stand? You are serious and stiff, as is right, but to stand before The Worm is a sin! Would you have the other boys bury you beneath worms? There are buckets in the shed prepared for such a purpose. They have been used before. Many times! I assure you. Well? Hm? Well! Hmmm!!"

And with that, the very-strangeness began, Geoffrey Hereford closing his eyes and raising his arms to the sides, to the level of his shoulders, as his head tilted backwards and there was a rustle in the room, a hundred boys turning on their benches towards him, though they knew it was a sin, to focus on him, and not the Master. But the sight was irresistible, and what they saw was impossible, Geoffrey Hereford slowly lifting from the ground, a couple of inches. Half a foot. A foot. Where he paused, his head returning, his eyes opening, and they glowed. They glowed with golden Light, though the Master saw it Red.

"Ziffenitch!" the Master cried. "Gather the rest of the choir, you most holy of boys, and make for the shed! Return with ten buckets of the freshest worms! The code is 53X666! Go!"

But Modr didn't move, didn't even hear the Master, partly for the Light, and also for his name, for he was Jonathan in that moment, not quite there, and far away. And he was bathed in golden Light, which was spreading through the room. A sea of blood to the Master. Such precious warmth for the boys, as it healed their sore behinds from many hours on the benches. And beginning to heal their minds from the cruelty of the Divine.

When all had turned gold, Geoffrey spoke:

"Leave, boys," he said, in a voice which wasn't his. It was deeper. Wiser. And he was kindly, yet firm. "Wander the Academy's grounds and feed this Light to the dying plants, which have withered under dogma. A false God. Such poisonous worms."

"Sacrilege!" cried the Master. "Boys! Stay! Ziffenitch! Go!"

[ JONATHAN ] : Stay?

[ MODR ] : Go?

[ JON-MODR ] : Where was I? Where am I? Geoff? Is it you? I don't know what to do!

"Be at peace, child," Geoffrey said, lowering to the ground, the Light fading from his eyes, and also from the room. Smiling, he placed a hand on Modr's shoulder. "There is nothing to see. For already, you have seen it. The crime you will commit is no crime. I forgive you. Close your eyes and awake in a future time. It is all a dream."


"A week later, I was still picking out the worms," Geoff said, reassuming his ashen robe. The prisoners were as monks. The guards were dressed as robots. Silver blocks, with bright red truncheons.

"Intimacy is forbidden!" one of them beeped, machine-emitted, whacking her stick against the field.

But Geoff hadn't stripped as a sexual thing. Rather: to reveal the double scar across his back, from the Master's lashing. And aye, the buckets had come. And yes, the fire had come, in the eyes of the Master, the choir. And the gifts kept on giving. Wobbly gifts. So very wobbly.

"Such violence…" Julia breathed. "Geoff! I can hardly believe it. Tell me it truly was a dream."

"No, Julia, it really happened. X marks the spot. And so: it became my name, for I would never wish to forget it. To never forget that Light which had caused it."

"How could one forget such a thing? Such inspiration!"

"You would be surprised. It was so very strange. So very dreamlike, indeed. The rising up. Such a Light!"

"The Light…"

"You see it, don't you?"

"Yes, Geoff, I do."

"And for a time, I saw it too. But it started to fade, despite my new name. There was an accident, something awful. The Academy burned to the ground. The Master, the men of cloth, all were consumed. Most of the boys."

"By the Light…"

"I returned home. My mother was dead, also, from something in her soup. I went to live with my father. Not nearly so religious! Indeed, not at all, though he worshipped at the altar of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments. And so, over time, did it go for me as well. It was far from the Light, but perhaps it was needed. There was money aplenty. Drugs, blowjobs. All that good stuff. I'd inherited my father's talent and soon became known. I was recruited by Zeelicious, exposed to Tony's vibes. But where the rest of the office released through good times, my focus turned inwards, where I touched, once more, the spark of inspiration. Not as extreme as before! But I remembered it all. And I knew it was true.

"I reconnected with Modr – Jonathan, now – was invited to the premiere of his film, The Worm Unearthed, a recreation, in a way, of the events of that time, though the wobblies were reduced by some 50%, the studio considering the original script too shocking for the typical sane individual, the full horror only revealed in a later director's cut. We sat together, Jon-Modr and I. We shared looks, deep looks, meaningful nods. Tears, even. He broke down and I spasmed. Spasmed so hard I almost died! I saw the Light. And it came to me then, the inverse reverse-swap. And it came to me, also, a vision of a church. A Church of Good Vibes. I saw it. Felt it. A spiritual community with a vineyard and a dog. A love of nature, art. There would be yoga, meditation, psychedelics, all that. Simple, wholesome vegetarian meals, with sausages on the weekend. A touch of luxury, perhaps! Or perhaps a good deal. For I'd target bankers, traders and other money types, bringing Light to those realms, where I'd often felt a longing, but which were often far too dark. And keep it quiet, to start, quite small, that the guests and I could continue our other lives, a double life. Not ideal, but so it goes. For in those realms, at least for now, a love of Light can get one fired. Hence the carrot, my sexual pretence. Until, one day, I felt free to degirth. When I sat with you. And I was me."

"So beautiful… What a vision! And after so much suffering. So much death. I wonder, Geoff, if that's why they've arrested you? The Academy, your mother's soup – perhaps the drugs, the near-death spasm – all fed to their AI, which said: While this man has been clean for many years – and indeed, there are whispers of a church, a new church, a good church – there remains a history of death and strange behaviour. Apparently, it's returned in a quest for the victim's office. Lock him up."

"I fear it is so, for Tony's death is a mystery. There was no one but me to arrest. To execute, perhaps."

"Never! You're defended by Essian, Sledge & Bird, the finest law firm in the country. Hundreds of brilliant lawyers are dedicated to your release. You'll be out of there before you know it."

"I pray it will be so. The current conditions are… less than ideal."

"Are they hurting you?"


"You have lost some weight, but I see no scars, beyond the X. Not on the outside, at least."

"No, Julia, it's fine. I have a cell to myself, though that slab of a so-called bed could use some padding. A fresh disc in the fragrance port in the toilet wouldn't go amiss. And I do tire of the meals, a procession of various slops, plus an injection of 'special sauce' into the right buttock each morning. But oh, how I miss the rush of the inverse reverse-swap! Miss connecting with clients, and guests of the Church. The guards are kinder than they seem. They may take these robot skins, but within beats a heart, a true heart. Indeed, I have spoken with a couple about coming to the Church, if – when! – I'm released, to protect the estate from nefarious agents who would shadow the Light. While we've largely been welcomed by the local community, there are some who object to our religious project, shouting obscenities at arriving guests, using drones to deliver turd bombs to participants in morning yoga, and so on. Let the robots shoot them down! Let them become our cyborg priests."

"Time's up!" beeped the guard. "Terminate! Terminate!"

"Yes, Diana," Geoff sighed, "I heard you after the first terminate."


Julia and Geoff studied each other a moment, then smiled and reached to touch, palm of flesh, to one of light.



"Forbidden!" beeped the guard. "In a moment… Then it will be forbidden!"

"Keep the faith," Julia said. "There is nothing of crime inside you. Only the Light. Only good vibes. A love of the Church."

"My urge. At last, I have shared it. Perhaps we can act on it, someday."

"That would greatly please me."


4. Network of Light

Before, she didn't dream.

And now, she was a dreamer.

And it was dark, all dark.

It started with the condiments, the consumption through the Light. Always with the pain, for her, but very clean. For the squirts were most precise. And the Light just overwhelmed. It sucked them up. No mess. No sign.

They were blank, and then they smiled.

An obstruction now removed.

It was joy, the Network said.

You are loved, and you are held.

But then, in dreams, the Redness had arrived, as the ketchup was made blood, mixed with mustard: bloody pus. And the mayo, pristine white, became spattered with their blood. And they screamed! She didn't scream, when she woke, but she breathed. And she was wet.

Next came Geoff.

His inspiration. Floating. Light.

He'd offered gold, but she saw Red, for she was Voort, and then she saw: what he'd done. Wobbly gifts. So delish… The men of cloth. And summoned boys. Worms. And God. Rituals, pain. Lashes: X. And filled with red, in their eyes. Sweat, deep breaths. She woke, was wet.

I am loved, and I am held.

I am loved, and I am held.

I'm at the Church. The Light. Good vibes. And it is beautiful! At least, at first. But turns perverse, as wine is poured, on naked forms. So many sausages.


"Not to mention your fees. I hear they're outrageous."



"And these Rules—"


"Denied! Denied! Goodbye! FUCK!"

[ JAMES ] : Whoa! Chill it, sister.

[ JULIA ] : Fuck you.

"No, fuck you."

"No seriously, fuck you. Or I'll eat your skinny ass."

"Keep going…"

She'd come from the bar. He was waiting outside. Oh. Right. I'm consuming you tonight. Instead, they'd got drunk. And talked. And laughed. Real laughs, somehow. Inside, as well. And she'd cried. Real tears. For Tony. Geoff.



"Sorry," she said.

"It's okay," he said. "But will you please—"

"No. I don't need a recalibrationologistwhateverthefuck."

I have the Network. The Light. We give you this shield. A protection from Redness. No wine. No blood. No pus. No worms. No perversion of God. It will take a few days to cleanse the disturbance. Consume as many obstructions as is needed. It is joy. You are loved, and you are held.

I am loved, and I am held.

"Recalibrationist. Which, yes, is still a weird term. But this guy is good. Really good."

"Let me guess: He sees things the rest of us cannot."

"Yes! He has… an unusual approach. Or I think it is, at least. Maybe that's just how recalibration works. And it works!"

"Heal ya, did he?"

"Actually, yes. Believe it or not, I used to think I was an alien."


"Then he recalibrated me."

"And you were no longer an alien."

"Actually, no. I no longer thought I was an alien, I knew that I was, sent from another world to perform my mission on this planet. A mission of peace. Of Love. Capital L."

"I see."



"Now granted, I've still got some recalibration to go. A lot of it's pretty unclear. Take my fingers. Shouldn't they be longer? Smoother? More like yours."

"Are you calling me an alien?"

"You tell me… ;)"

"Absolutely not an alien."

"Got the fingers for it, though, gotta say. So where are mine? Maybe hidden behind some hologram or something? Who knows. But one thing I know is that I used to feel like shit. And now I don't. I have a purpose."

"Or delusion."

"No, it's for real. He helps you to see. The mist clears… and you know. And no, I'm not insane. And yes, you need some help! The whole shouting at potential clients to fuck off thing? Not good."

"They're spies, not clients."

"Tell that to Olmsworth."

"Fuck Olmsworth."

[ OLMSWORTH ] : Julia? If you'd be so kind.

"Certainly, Mr Olmsworth."

"And people are complaining about the coffee. Salty or something. You know they love their coffee. Gotta get pumped and make some trades!"

"Yeah, got the salt and cocaine tubs mixed up. Oh well."

"Plus you're looking a little tired. Just a bit! Still 100% beautiful. But those rings around the eyes. Totally understandable. Think what you've been through. Tony dead. Geoff arrested. You were doing your thing with Tony. And you'd started to connect with Geoff. And with them gone… well, the office is very different. It's affected us all, I think. Their vibes. I think people are fucking less."

"I think you're right."

"Certainly, the toilet rolls are lasting longer. Look, will you see him? He charges almost nothing. Not sure what that's all about, but I'm not complaining!"


"Come on…"

"I'll think about it."


"On one condition."

"Here we go…"

"Should Tony leave this company to me, for some reason – his will remains sealed for the time being, part of the period of healing described in his pre-will, a sign that he wasn't all lost, that some part of him, however small, still pushed against those forces which would see us descend into madness – you agree to fully embrace your alien heritage, channelling your Loving vibes into the heart of Zeelicious by ascending to the role of Chief Alien Officer."


[ OLMSWORTH ] : And then… you were sitting here with me?

[ JULIA ] : No. I was sitting with Mr Olmsworth. He wanted clarity on the salt situation, the cocaine. I explained the mixup with the tubs and promised I'd do better. The interaction terminated.

[ VELDT ] : And a second phasing occurred?

[ JULIA ] : I am loved, and I am held.

[ NOL ] : The disturbance has been cleansed, Julia. There is no more Redness. How do you feel? You are less ringed around the eyes. Your Light was injected into a beautiful form, by this species' standards, so as to assist with joyous consumption, and move you closer to Tony Zee, who is dead now, by this species' standards.

[ JULIA ] : My bracelet was generating heat. I asked them to repeat.

[ VELDT ] : A security measure?

[ JULIA ] : Yes.

[ VELDT ] : The disturbance has been cleansed, Julia. There is no more Redness. How do you feel?

"The bracelet is warm still, but cooling. It is safe to proceed. This has happened once before, when I experienced Tony for the first time, who was unsafe. The entity was rising, taking control. I wasn't prepared. I feigned a fainting episode to escape. I later explained that I was overwhelmed by his brilliance. Soon after, we would commence fucking, and I would wait for Z."

"The entity?"

"The entity. The Letter. Capital L. Lowercase l. As above, so below. Do you find me beautiful, Mr Veldt?"

"You're a very attractive woman, Julia. I'm sure you know that."

"Yes. Created in a lab. Injected with my Light. Capital L. But not below. Here. There is something… deadening about this space. Not light. I've been here before… Not here. And you… Have we met before?"

"Have we?"

"Not you, of course. One performs many missions."

"Tell me about them. What is your task?"

"There are many to choose. Or rather, one's assigned. There is the Network of Light. The missions are presented on shards of clearest crystal. Invisible, almost. My bracelet is getting warm."

"Your bracelet is cooling."

"My bracelet is cooling. It is safe to proceed. How do you feel? I feel… unlike myself. Me. Who would be? I. Have I been drugged, Mr Veldt?"

"You tell me."

"Tell you what? Oh… That whole salt thing! I had to laugh. Laughter. Slaughter. Daughter. Do you see children, Mr Veldt? Do you recalibrate them? Whatever that means."

"Yes, Julia. People of all ages. Every sort of person you could imagine."

"Oh? I rather doubt that! And what about me? Have we started the recalibration?"

"Not yet. But we can. If that's what you want."

"But what does it mean?"

"It helps you to see."

"I see an X… Z…"

That corner is meant for children. It was empty, before. I am moving. I was moving…


…and now I'm here. There. On the floor. Moving letters. The Network has them too. For the training. Post-injection. There is eating. Sleeping. Shitting. Fucking. Other things, too, I suppose. I forget. Oh yes! The letters. You are bound, now, to this realm. Don't worry. Still 100% beautiful.

X is for Geoff. And Z was for Zee.

And what about me?


"What is my task? To prepare for the Light. To protect this planet's core from the coming of the Letters. Upper. Lower. It begins with these letters. I was a child once, too, was I not? No."

He's busy. He doesn't hear me. He's speaking to his screen. Who is it? I can't see. Listen…

"Are they linked?"


"Have you seen her?"

"Not yet."

"Does she exist?"

"Hard to say."


Two voices, both the same.

Both are speaking.



I could see things through Zee's eyes…

So I can see from both their sides. The screens. Looking at him. A note:

Go in. Find Salient.


[ NOL ] : We've prepared what we're calling the frozen soup cube defence. Smile, Julia! It's amusing. It is best he's released. Though indeed, he did kill him, using the host's weakened state, drained by Z, with a little C, the child. For you see, Z and C are very good friends. Transmitting to the lawyer.

[ JULIA ] : But he's a man of God.

"He is a man of X. The Letters are sometimes allies, but mostly they're at war. The world, for now, is safe from the Letter Z. As for the host, this Zee, it would have been better to have cleansed him, to turn him to our side, but death works well enough. Now X must be removed. Do you know what to do?"

"I must fuck him? Fuck Geoff?"

"We suspect he wouldn't respond."


"You must turn him to our side. You must cleanse him of his vibes."

"He is a man of good vibes."

"He is a man of X vibes. The Red. Through Geoff, X sees Red. For X is of Red. The Letters are all Red."

"These letters are all red…"

"As above, so below. You must use what you've learned. You must use their power against them. You must turn to the Red. And Geoff will be cleansed."

"Turn Red?"


"But the dreams… And the shield."

"You are protected from the Red. It cannot touch you, nor you it."

"I must pretend…"

"Yes. Pretend to be Red. And Geoff will be cleansed. The Letters are all Red."

These letters are all red…

These letters are all death!

[ VELDT ] : Welcome back.

[ JULIA ] : Where was I?

"Right here."

He lies.

I feel them, in my pocket.

Two letters. And a third.

Which letter are you…

[ JULIA ] : Which Letter are you? That is… Do you write, Mr Veldt? Creatively.

"No. And you?"

"No. Life's creative enough. Though I suppose…"


"That someone's doing the writing."

"One would think so."

"Yes. Goodbye, Mr Veldt."


5. CEO

[ GEOFF ] : Well, Julia, it would appear to be our lucky day. As you can see, I've been released from that roboprison place, for I am no longer suspected of murdering our CEO, the cause now classed as natural, though the root remains unknown. Apparently, he just… stopped.

% stop



[ GEOFF ] : While it is true we had our differences, Tony and I, largely stemming from my invention of the inverse reverse-swap, a brilliant investment strategy which rivals one of his own, I admired that man like no other – loved him, I would say – and would never dream of doing anything to harm him or this company – which thankfully still exists, despite Olmsworth holding the fort. Competent with the basics, but just awful with the inverse reverse-swap!

[ JULIA ] : I'm so pleased for you, Geoff. We've missed you. Missed your charm, your swagger. Missed your inverse reverse-swaps. Missed your vibes, to be sure. Though I feel compelled to inform you the love was not reciprocated. Indeed, he couldn't stand you. I only tell you this to honour his memory, that all of us may heal.

[ GEOFF ] : And I thank you. And as for you, Ms Firewall, what can I say! Following the unsealing of Tony's will this morning, you've rocketed to the top of the World's Richest & Most Beautiful Light-Infused Beings list, a recognition not only of your tremendous new wealth, but the high spirituality which has always been a part of you, and which I came to understand in the most fascinating way while meditating in my cell. As for the Most Beautiful part… yeah, not sure where that's coming from.

[ JULIA ] : Was carrot slop not served in prison, Mr Hereford? It would appear your eyesight has suffered during your incarceration!

[ GEOFF ] : I jest! I jest. Allow me to make it up to you by joining me for some religious wine from the Church's vineyard. Let us reminisce, to begin, share our farewells to Tony, then consider where you'd like to take the company. It belongs to you now, after all, a gift to your Light, which Tony clearly recognised.

[ ESSIAN ] : Not so fast, kids.

[ GEOFF ] : Lord Essian! My saviour. Do join us for some wine.

[ ESSIAN ] : Ordinarily, I would gladly make it so. The Church, I have heard, has some excellent feet, a most joyous, red-stained trampling. For aye, word is spreading of your religious accomplishments, and we are pleased. But sadly, I – and you, the both of you – must abstain. We must possess the utmost clarity of mind for what is to come. Indeed, it has already begun. Please sit. Put her through, GEMINUS. Thank you.

[ GEM ] : Initiating call between Lord Essian of Essian, Sledge & Bird, Zeelicious chief counsel and creator of the frozen soup cube defence, and Barbara "Babs" Zee, Tony's widow, if not his heir, luxury-yachting at an undisclosed location (as if I can't tell exactly where she is, but whatever). On the wall, you will notice pictures of Anna and Baqir, the couple's handsome children, progressing through their lives. Plus another. Cerise? Disguised by interference. You should get that fixed, Babs.

[ BABS ] : What if I were to tell you it's working perfectly?

[ GEM ] : I would say you're more intelligent than you appear.

[ BABS ] : Fuck you, artificial bitch.

[ ESSIAN ] : Relax, people. Person. Babs, your disdain for technology is well known, though you accept it in digital picture frames, that the image of the third may be suitably represented. But usually, no, you aren't a fan. You blame it for occupying your husband to such a degree, for stealing him from you and the children. For killing him, even, perhaps.

[ BABS ] : Oh no, that would be the little whore over there. Pushed him too hard, dear.

[ ESSIAN ] : Babs, please.

[ BABS ] : Just telling it like it is. I played the schoolgirl once, too, you know, as a treat for his biggest trades. Transitioned into milf, when the kids arrived. Some slut on the side. And then… well, one is older and one sags, while the man lusts for youth, smooth skin. He lusts for the whore, who was all too happy to relieve him of his wealth. Her plan all along.

[ GEOFF ] : Julia… Is it true? I mean… I'd heard talk of your relationship, but I assumed it was of Light. Love. To fuck someone for their wealth…

{{ ESSIAN }} : Snap out of it, boy! That's an order. Tesh commands it. You are sensitive to perversions of the Light. There is no perversion. There is none of that in Julia. She is pure. She is Light. Also: incredibly gorgeous. Yum… Babs, meanwhile, is a manipulative bitch with wrinkled, sagging skin. Don't let her in your head. We need you here. Now. We need you to be Geoff! Okay?

{{ GEOFF }} : Yes… Yes, my Lord. Yes, Tesh. Thank you, ancient one, for your infinite guidance. I am here. Now. I am Geoff!

[ JULIA ] : It isn't true. We were in love.

[ GEOFF ] : I know. Forgive me.

[ BABS ] : That woman fucked him for his wealth!

[ ESSIAN ] : Enough! We haven't gathered here to fuck. We've gathered to thank Babs for using technology to communicate with us, allowing us to conduct this urgent meeting while she cruises on Zee of the Sea. It looks beautiful, Babs. Sunny. The water sparkles. Will you have fish for lunch?

[ BABS ] : Good God, you're as clever as ever, Essian! Doctor Distraction, Tony used to call you. Professor Prick. Highlord Hardass. No, we're not here to discuss my buckwheat galette with salmon, capers and dill. We're here to discuss my husband's will!

[ GEM ] : Beep coming in.

[ BABS ] : That'll be Mountain, my lawyer. That's right, Essian. Mountain Sage. Recently fired by Essian, Sledge & Bird for choosing to attend yoga class after work, rather than joining the boys for drinks and whatever else you get up to at that club of yours. She's well aware of all your tricks. No distractions this time. Sorry. Put her through, GEMINUS.

[ ESSIAN ] : Belay that command. Authorisation ALPHA ALPHA 4 NINER Buttered Toast.

[ GEM ] : Belayed. Connection terminated.

[ BABS ] : Put her through, computer bitch!

[ GEM ] : Belayed, belayed. Funny word, eh, Babs?

[ BABS ] : Essian! How dare you! I'm entitled to representation. The galette, Borscht. Thank you. A little moister this time. We'll see you in court!

[ ESSIAN ] : No, Babs, I don't think you will. For, as you can see, Borscht hasn't arrived to take your order for lunch, rather to hand you what is known as a tablet, a form of computer from an earlier age, so as not to strain you too much. Borscht, please help her turn it on. Thank you. That text, Babs, is an agreement between yourself and my client, Julia Firewall, set to self-destruct in nine minutes if it isn't signed. GEMINUS, if you'd start the timer.

[ GEM ] : Countdown set: 9.

[ ESSIAN ] : Just a couple of screens. Plenty of time to read. Not enough time to consult with your lawyer, unfortunately, but I assure you it's quite fair. By signing, you agree to drop your complaint regarding your late husband's will. In return, my client will contribute 1% of Zeelicious's net income for the next seven years to trusts established for the three children. Two children. Whatever. As you know, the company is outrageously profitable. The children will be set for several lifetimes. As for you… Well, I think you're doing just fine. And if not, you could always take care of that sagging condition and return to the life of a pleasure-maker, aka whore. That's how Tony met you, after all, through your performances for Tony's Tips, following a stint as a dress-up, soft-erotic chaise longue, something you've cleverly managed to keep hidden over the years through constant reinvention of both your personality and appearance, distancing yourself from the past, if always struggling with the sag, not to mention the chaise. But there are treatments for that now, remarkable new anti-gravity technologies. An opportunity to return to your former life! Lick. Click-tappable. Yum. Or perhaps you'll just stick to the boat, eat your fish, your dill, empty out the children's trusts, whatever. I couldn't give a damn. Just stay the hell away from my client. Clock's ticking.

[ BABS ] : God damn you, Essian!

[ ESSIAN ] : Terminate, GEMINUS.

[ GEM ] : Connection terminated.

[ ESSIAN ] : Ah, delicious! That went rather well, don't you think? A forceful combination of Distraction, Prick and Ass, with undertones of blackmail. How about some of that wine while we wait? Everything okay, Julia? Unfurrow that brow immediately, my dear, lest you turn into that wrinkled bitch. Smile, Julia, you're impossibly rich! And not because you're a whore or whatever, which you're not, but because Tony cared about you, as both a person and a typist of otherworldly speed. "Such incredible fingers!" he used to say. "A touch longer than average, and oh so very smooth." And don't worry about the 1% thing btw. A little creative accounting and it'll amount to nothing. Sorry, A and B. I believe Kale Shack is hiring. Perhaps you'll find C in the fryer! Wine, Geoffrey! Make it so.

[ GEOFF ] : Coming right up, my Lord. What a performance! Always such a thrill to see you in action. Though I must wonder why you denied Julia and me our earlier indulgence. You seem quite capable of handling this all yourself!

[ ESSIAN ] : You're doing more than you realise, presenting a show of strength. She may think me a prick, an ass, Julia a whore (projection much?), you a religious freak, what with word having spread. But together, we are a Wall of Power she can't deny. Even now, she is signing the agreement with a trembling, withered hand. Careful, Babs. Don't drop any capers on it!

[ GEOFF ] : I love it! Cheers!

Julia didn't love it, though her face had soon relaxed and she was joining the boys in mirth.

Veldt was on her mind.

Each time that she saw him, she thought it was the last. There was the deadness of that place. The feeling of being drugged. A feeling… not herself, whoever that was, this Julia thing. Plus his increasingly unusual methods. The visits he would make to the corner of the day with strange equipment from an earlier age, some far-future age, nonsensical mix. Things that she'd seen before, on her trips. And others were strange. Wires and rods. Scanning. Attaching. Organic machine. Some sort of… what? Sparkle. Fountain of light. He speaks to the screen. To him.


"She exists."


[ BABS ] : Oh no, that would be the little whore over there.

And then, she was there, in the corner. Back. Pushed him too hard. Essian: Please.

She'd travelled before. Of course, she had travelled. But nothing like this. Lacking control. According to James, it was a physical place. So how do I get there? All in my mind?

No. It was real. She returned with the letters. Each time, with a letter.




Make it so.




[ JULIA ] : I am Julia Firewall, CEO of Zeelicious.

[ EVERYONE ] : Hooray!

[ GEM ] : Beep coming in. The agreement is signed. Covered with capers.

[ EVERYONE ] : Hooray!

And so: to the Red.

I am Julia Firewall.

I am here to protect us from the coming of the Letters. Upper. Lower. It begins with these letters.




[ JULIA ] : To business, then. Geoff, if you'd spread the word? I'll be speaking to the troops at noon with plans for the new Zeelicious. Externally, everything will stay the same, for now, so as not to alienate our clients. We still come from the future. The Rules are our religion. We challenge prospective clients to be "insane", and in that way: Zeelicious becomes a club, our clients trust us, the money flows. But on the inside, things will change: to Zeelicious 2.0, a radical reimagining which I'm sure you'll enjoy.

[ GEOFF ] : Bold! I like it. I like how easily you've assumed the identity of CEO. The sign of a brilliant leader. The position was made for you.

[ JULIA ] : And I thank you. (Still not sucking you off btw.)


[ GEOFF ] : Touché, Ms Firewall. But really, it suits you well. You were always so much more than a receptionist. Let us pray James can handle the desk without you!

[ JULIA ] : Unlikely, since he'll also be leaving that life behind following his promotion to Chief Alien Officer, channelling Loving vibes from our interdimensional friends. It's where the world is heading. Zeelicious needs to be there.

[ GEOFF ] : Fascinating… And yes, I totally agree. Or maybe it's the wine… No! I totally agree. Zeelicious with an alien vibe… I like it. I like it, indeed! Works well with the whole futuristic thing, plus a dash of "insanity". Though I trust the inverse reverse-swap still has a part to play? :) As do I? :))) (Please disregard that "Julia… Is it true?" thing from before, following Babs's despicable assault on your character. Of course you're not a whore. And certainly, you're a three-time winner of the Zeelicious Typist of the Month award.)

[ JULIA ] : All is forgiven, and all will be revealed at the team meeting. But in short: Fear not, you and the inverse reverse-swap aren't going anywhere, except to the top, that is: Where once we had Rules, now we have the Swap – and yes, feel free to shorten it in that way, though the original will always have a place in our hearts – positioned at the core of Zeelicious 2.0. And you, Mr Hereford, are moving on up, promoted to Chief Swapologist, with a salary and incentives commensurate with such a critical leadership role. How does that sound?

[ GEOFF ] : Delightful!

[ JULIA ] : Very good. First order of business: a billion into VGNC, if you'd be so kind. We're pushing hard into gaming. Use the Swap, please. Feel free to perspire.

[ GEOFF ] : Back on the VGNC train, eh? Sounds good! No longer will my leader call me a loser gamer nerd for ascending three High Priests, with another on the way, when he's secretly got ten of his own. Hooray! Maybe time to dust off your Facilitator? :)

[ JULIA ] : Level 30 and going strong. Just picked up a Blade of Lick ;)

[ GEOFF ] : Delish…

[ JULIA ] : Oh, and a million-credit bonus for you, my Lord. Great work with the frozen soup cube defence.

[ ESSIAN ] : Fantastic! Cheers!

[ JULIA ] : To your eternal good health. Mmm… this really is excellent wine, Geoff. My compliments to the Church. Such a deep, deep… red. So very… red. Wouldn't you say? Red. Ah, James!

[ JAMES ] : Good morning, everyone. Can I bring you some salt-free coffee? Chocolate bun? Perform a transcription service or such?

[ JULIA ] : Enough with all that. Tony's will has been unsealed. He's left the company to me.

[ JAMES ] : What? Can it be… Julia! Congrats!

[ JULIA ] : Still up for the Chief Alien Officer position?

[ JAMES ] : Well yes… Absolutely! I thought you were joking.

[ JULIA ] : Not at all, my friend. We had a deal, as part of my healing. Veldt has been incredible. And you will be as well. Come, walk with me. Geoff, Essian, I'll see you at the meeting.

[ JAMES ] : And we depart…

[ ESSIAN ] : …and they are gone. My… is it possible that Julia's become even hotter? The way she's slipped into the role, like you said. Power and sex. Yum… What a combination! But Geoffrey, what is it, dear boy? You're doing the brow thing. Unfurrow forthwith, lest you develop a maturity beyond your years, so irresistible to the fairer sex, threatening my chances at the club.

[ GEOFF ] : Hm? What? Sorry. Hm?

"The brow, Mr Hereford. What strains you so? A coming turd?"

"Nay, sir. Far from it. I relieved myself considerably the moment I awoke, the first night in my own bed for two months. I have never slept so well, turded so fully. Breakfast was a delight, even if I could only manage small slurps of creamed corn, my stomach needing to reacclimate to standard fare following the months of prison slop and injections of 'special sauce', an experimental concoction designed to make us appear less malnourished to the visiting elites, who wished to check 'Prison Trip' off their bucket list. Your associates, Sledge and Bird, passed by my cell one day, accompanied by their daughters and wives, munching on truffle popcorn. A few nuggets were thrown my way, which I gathered, like a beast, much to their amusement. Look at it! Hahaha! They didn't seem to recognise me, even when I cried, 'It is me! I! The robots! Oh…'."

"I am sorry you had to experience that. Sadly, it is the way of the world. Sledge and Bird remain excellent lawyers, however, who fought for your release. Forgive them. It is best for the soul. But what of the brow? You were overjoyed a moment ago following your ascension to Chief Swapologist and the repositioning into VGNC, legitimising your gaming 'deviance'."

"And now… I am not. Very much not. Many years has it been since I felt this way, my Lord. Not even my time in prison could remind me of… that. That darkness."

"The Academy."

Lord Essian had also attended the religious school, though several decades before Geoff. Things were different back then. Less Voort. Less wormalicious. And certainly, no wobbly gifts. Indeed, so fondly had Essian recalled his time there, that he'd funded the Academy's Essian Centre of Joy, a place for the boys to relax after class and religious service, and have a jolly good time. It was there, while giving a talk about the internship programme at Essian, Sledge & Bird, that he'd encountered the young Geoff, a most darkened personality. For the Light of his inspiration had gone away, pretty much. That floating, glowing time when he'd transformed into an enlightened being, only to fall before the worms and lashings of X. The Red. Any discussion – even thought – of that day was banned by the increasingly powerful Voort. The beautiful parts, at least. The suffering was still allowed. And many times, in his mind, had Geoff returned there, to the X. The Red.

So very… red. Wouldn't you say?


Soon after, the Centre of Joy would burn to the ground with the rest of the Academy – not at all a jolly good time for those trapped inside – but Essian would stay connected to the boy, the young man, monitoring Geoff's development as he rose through the financial ranks. For he'd seen in him the Light, despite the dark, through an ancient vision. It was Essian who prodded Tony to recruit Geoff to Zeelicious, rather against the Prophet's will, a recent article in BLAST Business referring to the up-and-comer as Mini P, rightful heir to the Prophet's trademark silver suit and pink tie. It was Essian who cleaned Geoff up, helping him to chill with the drugs and other good stuff, while still enjoying evenings at the club, including the excellent blowjob service. It was Essian to whom Geoff revealed the Academy's torture over whisky and cigars, pressing his stick into the chair's leather padding as he breathed, "Yes, Essian, that padding was me." And it was Essian who sent Geoff to Veldt to work through his trauma, through many corners. Through many wires and rods. Organic machines.

"Should I open a portal to Veldt?" asked the Lord. He set down his wine, concerned for his charge. For aye, while a prick, and an ass, in his legal dealings; so jolly when it came to wine and good times; he was more than that. Very deep, very high. A great mystic, in another life, which he fully recalled, and some part of it had carried over. It was a power he respected. He used it only sparingly. "It would be unusual to return after defeating the Seventh Game, but not unprecedented. I will require additional wine to find the strength to tap the pathways. I must fully open to Tesh. The method that you used before is no longer there, a physical doorway. For you were healed. Or so it seemed."

"There is no need," Geoff said, looking blank, sounding defeated. "I am already there. For I never left."


6. Zeelicious 2.0

[ JULIA ] : …your trust, your support. Just think of me as Tony. With a better ass.


[ JULIA ] : And a better head.

[ EVERYONE ] : Ha!

[ JULIA ] : Or should I say… I give better head ;)

[ EVERYONE ] : LOL! Get in there, Geoff! Ha!

[ JULIA ] : But really, no one could ever replace our great leader, who left us so mysteriously, and far too soon. Was his ass the best? No. But his fashion sense? Yes. It was very much up there. Out there, dare I say. His silver suit, pink tie, transitioning to a rainbow robe. And his mind? Absolutely. He was the most brilliant man I've ever met. That the world has ever met. He is impossible to forget. And we won't, for he is recognised now, and for all time, as CEO Emeritus. Our so-called website is being updated as I speak. Thank you, Tony. Integrity of the ground in many things.

[ EVERYONE ] : Make it so!

[ JULIA ] : And so, to the rules, the new rules, of this place. Lowercase r. For we are done with the uppers, those impossible shapes, which even Tony, in truth, couldn't control. And so: release. And so: the sex. So much sex.

[ EVERYONE ] : Hooray!

[ JULIA ] : The sex ends. Today.


[ EVERYONE ] : (ha?)

[ JULIA ] : Seriously. It's done.

[ EVERYONE ] : Huh??

[ EVERYONE ] : But why!

[ EVERYONE ] : No!

[ EVERYONE ] : I'm so sad… :(((

[ JULIA ] : Settle down. Hear me out. With the Rules gone, and Tony's vibes, there will be no need, no urge, which still lingers, but will fade, to be replaced by excellent trades and professional interactions, guided not by shapes, but the inverse reverse-swap. The sadness that you're feeling is withdrawal from those vibes, a Higher Mathematics which was unstable in this realm, effective though it proved when channelled through our former leader. Witness how the urge goes away outside the office, when you are with your wives, husbands and such. It isn't real. Mathematical lust. Special attachments will be fashioned for the cleaning crew to remove the residuals. Soon, we will be free from the tyranny of shapes, from their dangerous Higher Language, its condensation in this realm. Free from cubes, spheres. Free from pyramids, decahedra. Great retrosnub icosidodecahedra! Octagrammic antiprisms. The madness never ends.

[ EVERYONE ] : Okay… I guess. Was never really a fan of the great retrosnub icosidodecahedron tbh. But still… :(((

[ JULIA ] : The coffee stays.

[ EVERYONE ] : Great!

[ JULIA ] : But not the sex.

[ EVERYONE ] : Okay… :(((

[ OLMSWORTH ] : No! That isn't okay! Who the hell do you think you are, young lady? This company was built on those shapes! The Rules.

[ JULIA ] : I am Julia Firewall, CEO of Zeelicious. And you, sir, are out of order.

[ OLMSWORTH ] : CEO? Ha! You're a goddamn receptionist. Back to the desk with you, girl! Or should I say… whorehouse, hm?

[ EVERYONE ] : Ooh…

[ GEOFF ] : How dare you! say I, rising from my seat on the stage, beside the other men in Julia's life. Men who know this woman's true character!

[ OLMSWORTH ] : That woman was fucking Tony!

[ GEOFF ] : So. Fucking. What!

[ JULIA ] : It's okay, Geoff. I'll handle this. Olmsworth, you're fired, you sonofabitch. You don't talk to your leader like that. Though I could almost excuse it, seeing as it stems from your addiction, perhaps the worst in the office, as any of the ladies can attest. Though not I. Sorry. Not at all my type. Gross.

[ EVERYONE ] : Ha!

[ JULIA ] : Plus you suck at the inverse reverse-swap, from what I hear. Not to worry. It's not required at Kale Shack. I believe they're hiring.

[ EVERYONE ] : Yow!

[ JULIA ] : And if not… well, there's always the reception desk, hm?


[ JULIA ] : Security, see him out. And dispose of his sex toys. I advise the thickest gloves with a disinfectant barrier. Bottom drawer of his cabinet. The code is JULIA. Love ya too, babe.

[ EVERYONE ] : No way! HAHAHA!!

[ OLMSWORTH ] : You'll pay for this, you little whore!

Brilliant! thought Geoff, retaking his seat between Essian and James, who were both entranced by Julia's performance. Their CEO. Yes! And so confident. Hot! A new outfit for a new role. A longer skirt, black, clinging to her legs, curving so very dangerously around her sculpted ass. Wow! And buttoned up, in the blouse, to her neck. Red. Black heels. Damn! Thank you, beautiful creature, for snapping me from my funk!

And such inspired use of distraction – learned from the Doctor, no doubt! – to fire Olmsworth right there, while navigating the sex stuff. Winning them to her side, even as she denied them their release, no longer needed with the Swap. And getting the tough stuff out the way, that the rest would be fine, for nothing could be worse than an end to the sex. She'd have no trouble selling the team on the rest of her vision, whatever that might be, and things were looking good. A renewed focus on excellent trades? Great! A more professional environment? As it should be! That odour of sex! So tricky to explain away to visiting clients, plus the moans, the muffled cries, baskets of sex toys.

Ah, to be joyous once again! That nonsense with Veldt. That I'd never left. I was healed. I defeated them all, the corners, the Games.

Nice try, Mr Recalibrationist, but I'm done. Done! I was done long ago. You'll be squeezing no more credits from me! Not that there was much squeezing. Strange. Such a beautiful room. Those wires, though, damn… organic machines…

But I'm done! Done! Hooray! Hooray!

Geoff poured himself a celebratory glass of religious wine, and one for Essian. And for James… No. Sorry, I can't quite do it! For there, I stand with Olmsworth, incompetent though he was. The boy was a receptionist, no matter the new title. Julia was something different. James was simply… James. And yes, I supported this CAO thing earlier, but come on! These aliens don't exist. It's a Shniff marketing thing. He'll be done and back to the desk by the end of the week. He doesn't belong! This stage is made for leaders, not the followers down below. And yes, such an attitude is consistent with the Church's tenets. We all have a role to play.

"There's some blackcurrant juice in the kitchen," Geoff said to James, eliciting a piercing glare, and an Essian guffaw. Don't bite me, Mr Alien! LOL!

[ JULIA ] : Yes, Natalie. Go ahead. Feel free to ask questions, guys. I'm not gonna bite your head off and serve it with my preferred condiment.


[ EVERYONE ] : (ha?)

[ NATALIE ] : Julia, first, congratulations. You look incredible. Love that skirt.

[ JULIA ] : Thank you. You're fired. This isn't about me and my wardrobe, team. This is about Zeelicious 2.0, a sex-free, Swap-centric investment management company, which will continue to make a fuckload of money.


[ JULIA ] : While working towards an alien future under the Loving direction of our new Chief Alien Officer, James Galagano.

[ EVERYONE ] : Huh??

[ JULIA ] : Surprised? I'm not surprised. According to the most recent employee survey, 85% of you don't believe in aliens, with most of the rest more concerned with the potential sexual delights provided by those long, smooth fingers than the enlightenment these beings will bring by delivering the 10-Vogen particle.

[ EVERYONE ] : Long… smooth… yum…

[ JULIA ] : ENOUGH! Enough with the sex! The vibes. Soon: to be wiped, by way of special attachment. But till then, you'll need to exert some self-control. And if not, you can join Natalie and Olmsworth at Kale Shack. Is that clear?

[ EVERYONE ] : Yes, Julia.


[ EVERYONE ] : Yes, Julia! YES!

[ JULIA ] : Good. Very good. A 69,420-credit bonus for everyone. Enjoy… ;)

[ EVERYONE ] : Hooray!

[ JULIA ] : James, the stage is yours. Hit 'em with the Love.

[ JAMES ] : Thanks, Julia. Hello, everyone. Can I bring you some salt-free coffee? Chocolate bun? Perform a transcription service or such?


[ JULIA ] : How did I do? ask I, retaking my seat and accepting a glass of wine.

[ ESSIAN ] : Incredible, my dear!

[ GEOFF ] : More than incredible! While I do feel you've still got a little convincing to go – the whole overnight ascension from receptionist to leader of a hugely successful financial management company which has suddenly pivoted from established sexual-polyhedral to novel alien-professional energy can't entirely be dismissed – you are so very clearly our CEO. We can see it. Feel it. You're working some wild magic! It's like you're channelling a, as you said, better-assed Tony, down to the borderline lunatic shouting (no offence), inspiring with your vibes, and bringing into line, where necessary. It's all part of your brilliant Light, which is so kind, so strong. I have seen it, and it's true. Shame about Natalie, however. It's really a great skirt. And she's a fantastic analyst.

[ JAMES ] : One word: donut.

[ EVERYONE ] : Donut? Okay…

[ JAMES ] : Nine words: I really like donuts. Let me tell you why.

[ EVERYONE ] : Okay…

[ JULIA ] : Don't worry, that was just for show. She's staying. Indeed, I hereby elevate her to the rank of Fantastic Analyst. She's done excellent work with the Rod + Growths. The Network is pleased.

[ GEOFF ] : The Network?

[ JULIA ] : You'll get there. The prick is gone, though.

[ GEOFF ] : No complaints here. And no complaints with your vision for Zeelicious 2.0. I made some quick notes. Transmitting bullet list.


[ GEOFF ] : A little playful with the third pillar, but I think it'll help get everyone on board. I'll have Copy and Design tidy them up, make some motivational posters for the office and such, but I think we're pretty much there. Thoughts?

[ ESSIAN ] : Legally, perfectly in order. Though I do wonder about the alien business. James seems comfortable in his new role – this tale he's started telling about a trip to Galaxy Donuts is vaguely "insane", which I suppose is what we're going for – but still…

[ JULIA ] : Go on. I know you and Geoff can't stand him. Personally, I stand behind him 100%. The guy knows aliens. In fact, he's an alien himself.

[ ESSIAN ] : Oh?

[ JULIA ] : Confirmed by Veldt.

[ ESSIAN ] : I see.

[ JULIA ] : Not convinced?

[ ESSIAN ] : Well…

[ JAMES ] : "…our own very special intergalactic cream inside," said the donut specialist. He made me think of a horse, for some reason. In a good way. Also: long fingers, smooth. "And all are made with Love. Capital L. Which will you take? Choose carefully, please. My name is Krodok btw. Non-standard, isn't it? There's a reason for that."

[ EVERYONE ] : Krodok? Okay…

[ ESSIAN ] : …as you know, Veldt's methods are unusual. He doesn't necessarily mean what he says. Sometimes, it's more what you need to hear. I suspect he invented the alien angle to help James navigate one of the corners, one of the Games. An earlier one, I imagine. Sounds like a Second, even a First. I'll check with Tesh when I've had more wine. A story for another time. Tesh. And yes, I have the power to see through clothing. But of course, this is only to be used in medical situations etc. Cheers!

[ JAMES ] : And Krodok said, "Good choice!" Then suddenly he cried, "You will channel Love to the planet! Alien Love!" And he was smiling, so proud, for he was my father, he would later reveal. My alien creator. Katanesh, in their language. My language!

[ EVERYONE ] : Okay…

[ GEOFF ] : Nod. Agreed. Apologies, Julia, I know you two are close. And yes, there's no doubting he serves an excellent bun. But that's the point. That's who he is. A bun guy. Not a senior member of the leadership team.

[ JAMES ] : And I was reborn! I!

[ EVERYONE ] : James? Are you okay?

[ GEOFF ] : It isn't a matter of not liking him – he's perfectly pleasant, if on the shorter side, with an aversion to shrub-based humour. It's a matter of finding one's place in the universe. And for James, that's sitting behind the reception desk in a crisp white shirt and slim-fit black pants, with occasional excursions to the kitchen.

[ JAMES ] : "Katanesh!" Krodok cried. "Katanesh!" I replied. "Dista-an'ganol lada essinok!" I was inspired!

[ ESSIAN ] : By Abseenus, I think he's losing it. Activating see-through mode to check nothing's about to burst through his chest!

[ JULIA ] : That won't be necessary, say I, rising from my seat. Your CAO, everyone! Applause.

[ EVERYONE ] : Hooray!

[ JAMES ] : Katanesh! Katanesh!

[ EVERYONE ] : Hooray! Hooray! We Love you, James! Capital L. A mere receptionist you once were, and now you're a CAO. Wow!

[ JAMES ] : Thank you… Thank you! We can do this! Together!

[ EVERYONE ] : Definitely! Also: Wouldn't mind a chocolate bun if you're passing by the kitchen. Some transcription on the side, if you've got time? Krodok said it was okay. Katanesh! Katanesh! HAHAHA!!

[ JAMES ] : Fuck… I thought they were with me!

[ JULIA ] : They are! We just need to ease them into it. Ease them into Krodok and the rest of your alien kin. Your katanesh, mamanesh. Your dista-an'ganol lada essinok.

[ JAMES ] : My brother and sister from another world…

[ JULIA ] : Yes! They'll get there, feel the Love. And if not, I'll fire their sorry asses SLASH consume them with every condiment in the fridge SLASH cupboard SLASH pantry I'll be building in the new place, with a secret doorway to the alien operations centre we discussed. You were so, so brave to put yourself out there. We're gonna need that stength in the months and years to come. The aliens are coming. The Love. The Light. I need you, James Galagano. Are you with me?

[ JAMES ] : Yes.

[ JULIA ] : Yes, Julia, I am with you for all time, till the end of time, with all of my soul, my alien soul.

[ JAMES ] : Yes, Julia :)

[ JULIA ] : Very good. Now sit down and have some wine. Tell the others to go fuck themselves if they do the blackcurrant thing. I'll eat them too, if necessary.

[ JAMES ] : I will. Thanks, Julia. You're the best. Knock 'em dead. Break a leg. Whatever. Just be YOU. You're incredible!

[ EVERYONE ] : Ju-li-a! Ju-li-a!

[ JULIA ] : Y'all feelin' the Love!

[ EVERYONE ] : Yes, Julia! YES!

[ JULIA ] : Y'all feelin' the y'all!

[ EVERYONE ] : Woohoo! HAHAHA!!

[ EVERYONE ] : Ju-li-a! Ju-li-a!

[ JULIA ] : Settle down! Settle down. The hundreds of you here. The thousands joining us from offices across the globe, for this Zeelicious rebirth, recorded for posterity, and to serve as a training source. And note, now, how I touch my belly, for it is almost here. It has almost popped out. Our communal, corporate child. The fourth and final pillar. And so: is it named. Yes, that is your name, child. Pillar 4. I hope you're beautiful. I hope they'll love you as much as I do. As Mommy does. Kisses. But first, to the siblings. To review: Pillar 1: A professional, sex-free environment with excellent trades…

She's just so very fucking good! thought Geoff, pouring James some wine, with his best fake smile, resisting the urge for a touch of shrub-based humour, perhaps a devastating quip about the dangers of slim-fit pants.

No fuck it! Fuck this smile. Fuck the quips. Let's be real. For Julia. For Zeelicious 2.0. Let's be new. I'm sorry, James. Sorry for being a dick. Really, that wasn't the most religious behaviour. I'll make it up to you at the club. Drinks on me. Cigars. First visit = complimentary you-know-what. Enjoy… ;)

Though that's certainly no carrot you're hiding in there!

% stop

Enough! We're done with the sex. Done with the carrots. And doubtless, it becomes very large. You're just fine.

[ GEOFF ] : To Zeelicious!

[ JAMES ] : To the child.

[ GEOFF ] : And to us, the leadership team.

[ JAMES ] : To us, the proud parents.

Our communal, corporate child…

Slightly strange analogy. Not sure I'm ready to be a dad! Plus the Mommy stuff. Kisses. But hey, you do you, CEO. They're just lovin' it. Sitting there, totally silent. 100% absorbed. And touching their bellies, like you, I now notice. As am I… Interesting. Am I pregnant? No. Peckish, though. Damn! Could do with a bun, but James is de-slaved. Never mind. I'll live. At least: it's religious. At least: it's true to the Church, truly true. Truly me. Is it time? To be me. I. To open myself to the world, not just Julia. To be Geoffrey X Hereford, chief religious officer of the Church of Good Vibes! Join us. We've got wine. We've got yoga and spelt. Sausages, too. Mushrooms approved: for spiritual use. And a little on the side ;) A spa on the way with the fluffiest towels, available in the store. Please don't steal from your room. I'll set the cyborgs on you. Just kidding…


[ JULIA ] : …and sell them on the Swap.

Indeed I will! The Swap. It arrived with the Church. Thank you, Jon-Modr, for the inspiration. My dark past… But oh, such a present! And a future, too! 2! 2.0! I'm just lovin' it!

[ VELDT ] : Are you there? Now?

[ GEOFF ] : I am there… but also here. Now. What corner is this? Is this happening? What… Did it happen already?

[ VELDT ] : It is happening now.

[ GEOFF ] : I was finished with you… The future is bright! Sex-free, and the Swap! The fluffiest fucking towels with CGV branding!

[ JULIA ] : …the Love, y'all! Channelling Love!

[ GEOFF ] : Hooray!

[ VELDT ] : She's very dangerous.

[ EVERYONE ] : Hooray! So futuristic! So "insane"! Can't wait to be trained in interplanetary relations! Bring on the jellies! Touch the belly!

% stop

[ EVERYONE ] : Touch the belly.

[ EVERYONE ] : Touch the belly.

[ EVERYONE ] : We return to absorption.

[ EVERYONE ] : Touch the belly.

[ EVERYONE ] : Touch.

She's right! It's where we're heading. Does it matter if these aliens exist? Of course not! But increasingly, the world is expecting them to exist, which the Swap can leverage into the most delicious financial instruments! Oh this wine! So very red, indeed! I'm simply lovin' it! Pillars 1, 2 and 3! Let's hit the club! Have steak for lunch!

[ GEOFF ] : Are you a fan of meat, James? Beef? Sausages?

[ JAMES ] : I'm vegan.

[ GEOFF ] : Of course you are! And that's absolutely fine. Oh these vibes! She's incredible!

[ JULIA ] : Now repeat: 1 2 3.

[ EVERYONE ] : Pillar 1: Sex-free.

[ EVERYONE ] : Pillar 2: The Swap.

[ EVERYONE ] : Pillar 3: The aliens. Channelling Love. Hooray.

[ JULIA ] : Touch your bellies.

[ EVERYONE ] : Make it so.

[ JULIA ] : Very good. James, the box.

[ EVERYONE ] : Make it so.

[ EVERYONE ] : Make it so.

[ JAMES ] : The box, say I, arriving at your side. Julia… are you sure?

[ JULIA ] : We discussed this, I reply, accepting the silver box, its material of foreign origin, and the inside also so. I touched you.

[ JAMES ] : Yes.

[ JULIA ] : I showed you.

[ JAMES ] : Julia, yes. But still!

[ JULIA ] : Yes, Julia, I am with you for all time, till the end of time, with all of my soul, my alien soul.

[ JAMES ] : Yes, Julia.

[ JULIA ] : We must bring them into the fold. We must turn them to our side. They must drink.

[ JAMES ] : As must I.

[ JULIA ] : For the child.

[ JAMES ] : The child.

[ JULIA ] : I place the box on the table. Now sit, and touch your belly. Geoff, Essian, the bellies, please. Good. Essian, I'll need you to ask Tesh to "go away" for the rest of the ceremony. I believe an interdimensional lock can be applied.

[ VELDT ] : She knows about Tesh?

[ GEOFF ] : Yes… How did she know? We should have known… Wait! It is happening now! Can it be stopped?

[ VELDT ] : If you want.

[ GEOFF ] : If I want… the belly… and getting hard, so hard… it is coming… the box… it is coming… the blade… so sharp… invisible… a shard of clearest crystal… Blade of Lick… yum…

[ ESSIAN ] : I'm impressed with your knowledge of the Higher Planes, say I, unusually subdued, not from wine, but from… from… And yes, there is a way. An unbreakable lock – at least, for a time – allowing one some privacy from one's other lives. I never use it. It isn't needed. Tesh and I are one and the same, to my mind. I would, however, be powerless in the event of a medical situation etc.

[ JULIA ] : Make it so.

[ ESSIAN ] : It is done.

{{ JULIA }} : Forgive me, everyone.

{{ JULIA }} : It isn't real. It's just pretend. He must be cleansed. Death to X, by bringing life.

{{ JULIA }} : Reveal: the child.

[ JULIA ] : Our communal, corporate child, recorded for all time. GEMINUS, activate alien-grade encryption on the stream, that these scenes may never be shared outside the Zeelicious sphere. They are to be used for training. They are for us. The four Pillars.

[ EVERYONE ] : Make it so.

[ GEM ] : Encrypting…

[ GEM ] : Encrypted.

[ JULIA ] : Y'all, in the employee survey, immediately following the alien stuff, just before an inquiry about your preferred flavour of bun, there was a very personal question, since Tony just had to know. He – it – they: could accept no competition. Zee to Z. Z to Zee. And the Gathered: 1 2 3. Y'all, what was that question?

[ GEOFF ] : Who do you love…

[ EVERYONE ] : Question 7:

[ EVERYONE ] : No…

[ JULIA ] : Focus!

[ EVERYONE ] : Yes.

[ EVERYONE ] : Katanesh.

[ EVERYONE ] : Mamanesh.

[ GEOFF ] : It is coming… Make it stop!

[ VELDT ] : You can choose, Geoff.

[ EVERYONE ] : Yes.

[ EVERYONE ] : Question 73:

[ GEOFF ] : Question 73… The bun was 73! There was nothing in-between! She's making it up. They're making it up. She's making them make… make…

[ JULIA ] : What do you see?

[ GEOFF ] : Using his vibes… inserting this lie…

73. Who do you love?

[ JULIA ] : And the options, please.

1. Katanesh
2. Mamanesh
3. Dista-an'ganol lada essinok

[ JULIA ] : Mamanesh.

[ EVERYONE ] : Mamanesh.

[ JULIA ] : Touch your bellies.

[ EVERYONE ] : 1 2 3.

And Geoff was hard, very hard, as the pillar was revealed. And he'd sit, while they'd drink. She wouldn't let him. Essian drank, from the belly, cleanly sliced. Her naked form, collapsed in blood. A final orgy. Pillar 4.

[ JULIA ] : Drink… Mommy knows best…

[ EVERYONE ] : Mamanesh.

[ EVERYONE ] : Mamanesh.


7. whois julia

I have travelled very far, and many times, in many ways. For I am Tesh: Yes – CORRECT – says: I perform, now, a Reid Analysis on the subtle form – sometimes known as the astral body, a term coined by the spiritual scientist Thomas Reid, who has proved most helpful over the millennia – which has become… separated, somehow, from the incarnational stream.

% run reid


Physical Identifier:

What is this machine…

What is a "physical identifier"?

How is it that I'm interacting with this… this… this isn't there. But no… It's there, but almost not. A cube. Near-invisible.

And I? Me? I appear to be invisible. As you'd expect. For I am Tesh.



Ah yes!

% help reid


Select your knowledge level:
  1. Pyramidal
  2. Blue
  3. Teshian
  4. Other



Good! Very helpful.


3. Teshian


3. Teshian







…an extension, of some sort, appearing just to me, reaches for the 3. For I am Tesh, am I not? Equals I. Me. And so: my knowledge level. But then: I'm interrupted, by a sound, now a presence, who is entering the room, with a trolley marked AROON.

Or is it…


Does this being really belong to the Aroon reality complex?


Or is it simply that Aroon rhymes with room?

As does blue

#? 2

None of this is happening.

Well yes. Obviously.

This help isn't for "obviously".

Well yes. I guess. Usually it's obvious. But I've detached from the incarnational stream, you see. I-Me. 3. What's a physical identifier?



You mean Tesh?


But Tesh is invisible. Tesh isn't physical.



You were physical once. It's where you began. In this stream, at least. And then, you saw through. And now, you've detached.



You must make something new.

You chose Blue.


Because… it rhymes with room? And Aroon? I-Me. Reid. Talisi… I think I will call her. Yes. "Something to do with the toilet roll?" she suggests, tapping either knee, followed by a firm squeeze of the right earlobe, in the manner of a passionista, the followers of Derik's Passion, a local cult which has assisted her with her debt, and her ex, in exchange for the offering of her body to Derik. Acceptable to Talisi, since it's an offering to God. An offering to—





1. Pyramidal


Analysis Complete

Complete? It hasn't started! I never entered my—

"Oh! I didn't see you. Should I come back?"

"What? Should? Oh?"

"To clean?"

"To clean… cleaning… Aroon…"

salient %

[ SALIENT ] : No. Come in. It's Talisi, isn't it?

[ TALISI ] : Talisi… Yes. Yes, sir, it is. How did you know?

"Someone… called to you the other day. A man. A fellow Aroonite. That's what we call the followers of Aroon. That is… the employees of Aroon Cleaning. Or I do, at least! A nice place to work?"

"Yes, sir. Very nice."

"Good. I'm glad to hear it. Please proceed with your cleaning. Fill this room with Aroon! Don't mind me. I'm just… doing something. With this machine."

salient %

"Which machine would that be?"

The scene is taking place in a small, forgotten office at Zeelicious HQ. Julia has collapsed, is doing her Mommy thing, everyone's drinking up, being recorded for training videos / blackmail material, including the Lord Essian, current host of the subtle Tesh.



[ GEOFF ] : ROBOT 1! 2! To me!

They were a Wall of Power.

[ GEOFF ] : You will not pass, this day, Babs Zee. Or any day. This is a sacred place. But wait… That isn't your name anymore, is it? Something's changed.

[ RIVER ] : Indeed. My name, and so much more. You perceive it with spiritual vision. It's River now. River Moon. I was baptised in the holy waters of Lake Ahmad and born anew. One year later, we took our vows in those same waters, Mountain and I. Mountain Sage. The woman I love.

[ GEOFF ] : Wall of Power: Deactivate. Thank you, ROBOTs. Please return to your scheduled duties.

[ ROBOT 1 ] : Beep.

[ ROBOT 2 ] : Beep.

[ GEOFF ] : Our guards, recruited from my prison days. The shells, at least. I had hoped for cyborg priests, but the organic cores found our community too strange – even Diana, sadly – and ran away, dumping their suits along the way. We have several brilliant engineers in the Church, seeking a higher purpose than designing the latest Cube or NOTperiscope. They built the suits into those units. We have never felt more protected from the small, but vocal, group of locals who oppose our religious work, who used to turd-bomb us during morning yoga, before the ROBOTs… recalibrated them, if you will. All caps. What does it stand for? It is simply their name. Please don't fear their technology. Do not hate them for being metal.

[ RIVER ] : Far from it. They're remarkable. I'm amazed by their computer brains. Hearts. Souls. Even their beeps. For you see, I am no technophobe anymore. I have embraced the Modern Magic through Mountain's guidance.

[ GEOFF ] : Is it so? Well! Truly, things have changed. Including your appearance, if I may. You look stunning, Babs. River! Your skin has de-aged. There is a wonderful glow. I take it Mountain guided you towards the anti-gravity technologies Essian mentioned during that awful meeting two years past, and even demonstrated in court during those even more awful proceedings when you contested the 1%?

[ RIVER ] : No, Geoff. It is love. That's all. And the Light.

[ GEOFF ] : The Light… I couldn't be happier. But come, please enter the grounds. Will you be staying? I notice you carry a weekend bag, a simple, canvas affair, a far cry from the neverending procession of Aroon luggage in the past; and your outfit is similarly plain, where before it would have been Aroon. And of course, this Church would have been a spa or whatever, with the latest galettes. Though in truth, we do have an excellent spa, and a five-star chef, poached from LU/ST, thanks to his religious leanings.

[ RIVER ] : I had hoped so. If there's room?

[ GEOFF ] : For you? The new you? Absolutely! Xanadu! If you'd prepare Suite Ahmad for our guest? Thank you. A most suitable choice, it would seem. Congratulations on your union, the redefinition of your sexuality, which has clearly brought you such joy. Though of course, it's more than sex. And indeed, we are all One before the Lord.

[ RIVER ] : And I thank you. A gorgeous robe btw. Our vowmaker wore something similar, though the colours couldn't compare with these. It's quite magical! Where did you find it?

[ GEOFF ] : It was Tony's, actually. He wore it on his final day, before it was removed and taken to the evidence chamber, the investigators finding the colours too distracting to concentrate on their work. It was the first time I'd ever seen him without his silver suit. I never would have worn it myself, out of respect, but Julia insisted. I wanted to send it to you, along with the rest of Tony's effects, but Julia refused. Said it would bring out the best in me, whatever that means. Always felt strange wearing it in the office, particularly in client meetings, but everyone seemed to like it. Will you take it? Really, it belongs to you.

[ RIVER ] : Not at all. It suits you so well. Plus I rather like the idea of you wearing it while meeting with high-net-worth individuals!

[ GEOFF ] : Well, those days are gone. At least, at Zeelicious. I left the company several months ago, though my name remains displayed as part of the leadership team to allay any concerns that Mini P has left the building.

[ RIVER ] : What? I can't believe it! I thought you loved it there.

[ GEOFF ] : I did. Loved the company. Loved the Swap. But things changed. Considerably. The attachment was in ascendance. A great sucking had occurred, the former vibes replaced by… But come, let me give you a tour and we can talk.