Here is the eighth excerpt from Biotime.
I plan to release Biotime in droplets – short excerpts, fairly often. Feedback welcome: on content, frequency, style or anything else. I’d love to hear from you.
I’m also publishing a “story so far” post for infrequent readers, bringing together the excerpts published up to now.
Ghanaian market – Photo SDT
Biotime. The future, today. Excerpt 8
[Part 1, Breughel vs. Jones, continues]
Lumusi Jones stood facing the altar. She wore a white blouse and a long red skirt, with a simple black bag over her shoulder. Breughel took a few steps down the aisle, still supported by the burly nun. A sigh went up from the congregation.
Lumusi Jones turned.
Breughel saw that her face was wet with tears. Her fists were clenched. Yet he could only think how beautiful she was. And how young.
At first, Lumusi Jones did not see the old man. Ever since she had arrived here, crowds had been gathering. At first, Mother Hope had placed her with three other “children” the Church had persuaded to renege on their Termination Contracts. But since this so-called Dying Dutchman, Breughel, had announced he was flying to Ghana, it seemed every man, woman and child in Accra wanted to see the scandalous and exciting Lumusi Jones.
Sometimes Lumusi was not sure she had been right to let The Church of Christ is Risen embrace her. Sometimes she felt it would all be simpler to lie down on the slab and give Mr Breughel his Biotime. How could all this end well?
Lumusi had turned because she sensed something happening. But in the crowd of well-wishers, journalists, priests, lawyers, nuns and all the others who had crammed into the church, she could not see what it was. Behind her, someone who called himself a One Lifer was shouting at a camera about the virtues of life without Biotime.
Then she saw him. The pale, shrunken bundle of bones was barely visible, tucked under the mighty arm of Sister Truth. Only when the nun had dragged the old man almost to the altar rail could Lumusi see him properly.
Could this really be Hans Breughel? He looked older than Lumusi would have thought possible. The sagging skin of his face was sheathed in sweat. A dribble of spittle hung at the corner of his mouth. How could this man have afforded to buy her Biotime? His ancient, soiled clothes seemed to have been made for a bigger man.
‘Oh,’ she said. ‘Is it you? I am so sorry.’
The man stared at her. His mouth was open. When a dozen camera teams jostling on a pew crashed backwards onto the concrete floor, he did not seem to hear it.
Lumusi saw flies were settling around the old man’s eyes, as though he were dead already. Sister Truth waved them away.
Breughel’s silence triggered a stir among the media.
‘Come on, granddad! Say something!’ a journalist shouted. ‘Cat got your tongue?’
‘Let him be,’ Lumusi said. ‘He is sick.’
Breughel took another step forward, his hand quivering on a walking stick. He peered up at Lumusi. ‘Are you her? Do you have it?’
‘I am Lumusi Jones,’ she said. ‘Yes. I have your life. You have purchased it.’
‘I thought I was buying only the part you did not want.’
‘Yes. But now I find I do not want to give it to you.’
[Excerpt ends][Next episode]
I hope you’ve enjoyed this excerpt from my novel “Biotime”. If you’re interested in hearing about further episodes, follow this blog by e-mail (top right, “click here”); or follow me on Twitter @RobertPimm (left hand side). I can promise you a fun ride.
If you’d like to read some complete fiction by me, see what you think of my “wonderful, feminist and dark” Hotel Stories.