714 and Counting

Jason Snell

America's top export? Entertainment. Export number two? History.

The man with the rabbit skins blocked our path as we tried to enter the Sampo Hotel. He was wearing a torn jacket made of some kind of animal, probably vat-grown horsehide. Anyone selling rabbit skins on a streetcorner in Osaka couldn't afford the genuine article.

"Out of my way," I said to him in my undoubtedly American-accented Japanese, flashing my card. He immediately stepped back, probably out of fear that I might haul him in for soliciting. Osaka cards don't broadcast whether you're a detective or a cop, and that was fine with me--it was a lot less trouble that way. In L.A., a flashing PI tag was an invitation to either laugh or draw weapons. Believe me, I preferred it when they laughed.

As I moved to enter the hotel, the rabbit-skin man immediately confronted Gehrig. I turned to explain that he was with me, and shouldn't be bothered, but Columbia Lou had already scared him away with one firm wave of his hand. I've always been envious of people who can do that.

"You think this is where he is?" I asked Gehrig as the Sampo's smudged plastic doors slid open in front of us. The place smelled dirty--I couldn't smell the local stink, but the cheap air freshener in the air let me know that it must have been fairly putrid.

"The place may have bright lights and moving doors, Ken, but it's still a cheap hotel. And no matter what century it is, there are only two places to look if you've lost Babe Ruth: bars and cheap hotels."

The Sampo had both. We made our way for the bar first.

Laurie was there, of course. I had been to the bar at least fifty times since Matsushita sent me to Osaka--who I had pissed off to get the stranger-in-a-strange-land assignment was still an open question, but I had about a dozen suspects--and she was always there. The first ten times her appearance reassured me, reminded me of home. Then I was assigned to work with an American exec. I was astounded when I met her, because she looked nothing like Laurie. I guess in my time here, I had begun to think that all American women looked like hookers--and they don't, no matter what some of my ruder Japanese friends say.

After my experience with the American exec, I tried to forget all about Laurie. She was a California hooker, and that was all. No matter where you are in Japan, there are always expatriate Americans catering both to company boys and to crumbs who have credit to burn and a taste for the exotic.

"Hey, Kenny, wanna taste of home?"

"No thanks, Laurie. I need to ask you if you've seen someone around here."

I think she missed what I said entirely, mostly because she had already focused her attention on Lou. "And who's this?" she asked.

You've got to understand--no matter what the bizarre surroundings, Lou Gehrig still looked like he had walked straight out of 1927. We had given him a modern suit, but it didn't hang on him right. He was squeaky-clean, with wholesomeness and purity you'd expect to see in a Capra or Spielberg, but not roaming the streets of the American. His manner made him seem like a prime target for Laurie: he was a U.S. businessman or vacationer far from the States and ripe for some down-home pleasure.

He took off his hat--he had insisted on wearing a hat, despite my protestations--and nodded his head.

"My name's Lou Gehrig, ma'am. We're looking for a friend of mine named Babe Ruth."

I pulled the picture I had of Ruth from my pocket and gave it to her. It had been taken the day before, during yesterday's Classic Series game. Ruth, wearing an official 1927 New York Yankees baseball uniform, was touching home plate. He had just homered off Catfish Hunter to defeat the Oakland Athletics, 6-5. After the game, Ruth disappeared. He never made it back to the team's hotel.

"He's a fat one, isn't he? I didn't know they let fatties like him play baseball."

"Mr. Ruth is good with the bat," I assured her.

"Yeah, that's what Shelly said." She handed the picture back to me.

"Shelly? The Marilyn Monroe?"

"Yeah, that's him. I can't believe that a recon job could be doing better business than me. Jesus, they took off his dick and moved his fat around a little, that's all. At least I'm fuckin' real. As advertised."

"Has Shelly seen Mr. Ruth?"

"Seen him? She did the piglet last night. Said she expected him to be exhausted after one round, but he kept comin' back, like a boxer."

"Where is she now?"

"He's upstairs with a client," Laurie said with contempt. "A local. Little bastards never ask to see his birth certificate, so he takes 'em for full price. My fuckin' chromosomes should be worth a little more, you know?"

"What's the room number?"

"1530. And be sure to scare the shit out of john-san, so he asks for a refund. Serves Sheldon right."

I thanked her, and Lou and I turned to go.

"Come back now, slugger," she said to Lou. This time, Lou didn't respond. Despite the 150-year gap, he did know when to be polite and when to ignore.

"Did she say that Ruth was sleeping with a man?" Lou asked as we entered the elevator.

"Sort of. Reconstructive surgery--I guess some guys really have something against their dicks, and want 'em off. Can you believe that? Lots of them end up as hookers--they say it's a great way to affirm their newfound womanhood, but more likely they're too deep in debt to afford respectable work. Either way, they usually end up being bartenders or marrying decrepit old men for their money."

"This is an incredible world you live in," Gehrig said, and shook his head.

"Not so incredible. There's the same sleaze as before. It's just shaped different."

I wasn't really talking to Lou Gehrig, of course, no more than the man that we were chasing was really George Herman Ruth. But they thought they were, and for all intents and purposes they acted just like their long-dead counterparts. I don't know the specifics of how they were created--it involves artificial intelligence, chromosome matching, and lots of baseball nuts doing research into the history of the all-time great baseball teams.

Matsushita, seeing as it owns half the National League and most of the teams in the Pacific League, decided to throw some of their money behind a "greatest baseball series of all time" event. So they set their technicians and research people at work on finding the eight greatest teams of all time, getting information on all their players, and creating exact replicas.

And they did it. Last night, in the fifth game of the semifinal series, Babe Ruth--or his ghost, replica, whatever you want to call it--hit a home run to send the 1973 Oakland Athletics (most of whom weren't even born before Ruth had died) back into the ether from whence they came. Ain't science something?

"The woman we're going to meet looks exactly like Marilyn Monroe," I told Gehrig.


"I'm sorry--I thought you knew who she was. Some Yankee player ended up marrying her."

"Must've been after my time."

The elevator stopped on the fifteenth floor, and as the door opened we found ourselves looking right in Marilyn Monroe's face.

"Shelly, we've got to talk."

"Shit," she said, and pulled something from her purse. It was money. "Here, take three thousand. Just don't pull me in."

"Shelly, you know I'm not feeding for the locals. And where the hell did you get money like this?"

"All of Scarlett's girls have it on 'em, to make sure they don't get into any trouble with the cops."

The first time I had met Shelly, she had just been a cheap hooker, not much different from any other. But now she was working for Scarlett--the den-mother-meets-madam who controlled half of the city's sex trade and a good portion of its money. Being one of Scarlett's girls carried lots of perks--including, it seemed, plenty of bribe money to keep the cops away.

"This gentleman and I need your help, Shelly. We're looking for this man." I took her hand, led her into the elevator, and showed her the picture of Ruth.

"Oh, him," she said, and rolled up her eyes. "I figured he'd be an easy one, pay me for more than he could actually handle. But he didn't stop."

"When did you do business with him?"

"Last night, around midnight. He came into the Sampo bar and we had a few drinks. Then we came upstairs."

"Did he say anything about where he was going after he left you?"

She paused for a moment, pursing her lips in thought.

"Three or four. The bar had closed for the night. He asked what else might be open that late, and I told him to head for the Plaza. Everything's open all night over there."

The door slid open, and we were back in the lobby. I thanked Shelly, and Lou and I headed for the door.

"You sure I didn't marry her? I mean, later on? My Hollywood phase?" he asked me.

"Pretty sure." Gehrig knew his life's history up to 1927, but not beyond. To the Yankees, it seemed as if they had been sucked through a time machine--they didn't even know that they were created beings. I'm sure Lou had spoken to other players from other eras as they stood on first base, next to him, but I didn't know if they had mentioned what happened to Lou Gehrig after 1927.

For the poor bastard's sake, I certainly hope not. To this day, there's still a Lou Gehrig's Disease--though depending on where you live, it's got different names, like ALS and Hawking Syndrome. There are still people who die slowly as they lose control of their bodies--just like Gehrig did. I tried to picture the huge, incredibly strong man in front of me as a uncontrollable shaking pile of flesh, and couldn't do it.

"Let's go find him, so we can all get back to work," Gehrig said as we walked out the door. "We've got to get ready for the Giants. The game's tomorrow, right?"

"Yeah, tomorrow night." The beginning of the Classic Series. Great publicity for the Matsushita Corporation. I had to discreetly find Babe by midnight, or the Corp would send out a massive search team for him. Publicly admitting the loss of one of the ghost players wouldn't reflect well on my dear Corp, but Babe Ruth had to be there for the opening game. He was their star, the all-time best baseball player in the baseball series of the ages.

The Corp preferred that I find him quietly. And considering how well I knew the American, I would have no problem doing just that. Or so I hoped.

The American District in Osaka is, well, a laugh. Which isn't to say that it isn't American--in fact, I came here quite often, to try and remind myself of what home was really like. It didn't help.

The American was a strip of movie theaters, fast food restaurants, cheap hotels, a sports memorabilia shop, a couple of soldier-of-fortune weapons stores--and lots of Lizard Joints.

Lizard Joints were, economically, the glue that held the American together. They were incredibly popular to the locals. For them, seeing a Lizard show was the ultimate American experience, without actually going to America.

I avoided them. My memories of growing up in California included McDonald's, Hollywood movies, the occasional stay in a Holiday Inn, cheering on the local sports teams, and even occasional bursts of gunfire.

But I never--not even once--went to a live show featuring songs like 'My Way,' 'Night and Day,' and 'The Candy Man.' Nor did I see any Elvis, Beatles, Michael Jackson, or any other oldies revival show. No singer crooning ditties while his gut stuck out over the cummerbund of his tuxedo. Not even when I went to Vegas.

Nobody at the Corp in Osaka could believe it, when I told them. "You have to see it," they said. "It's the best of America!"

And they took me, kicking and screaming.

I only learned two things from the trip to Sammy's Sinatra-riffic Sensation In the Heart of the American. First, I learned that it was up to me, New York, New York. About that same time, I discovered that I would never go see a Lizard show again.

"We'll start with the bars," I told Gehrig. "Hopefully we'll find him soon."

I prayed that George Herman Ruth wasn't downing gin and tonics while swinging to the groove of 'Feelings' as performed by the Jerry Vale Memorial Orchestra.

"You seen this guy?" I asked Mark at Rick's American Cafe.

"Fat guy," Mark said in that funny accent of his.

"So you have seen him?"

"Hell, you can tell from that picture that he's a fat guy. Look, Kenny, you know that information don't come without a price."

"Here's a thousand for your time," I said, and dropped the coins in his hand. "Got any leads on him?"

"You guys missed him by about three hours. He was here, all right--first he got completely drunk, but then he got hold of some detox pills. Then he proceeded to get drunk all over again."

"Sounds like our man. Any idea where he went?"

"Look, after he got drunk again, he started playing around with a couple of local girls. They're hookers, but your fat guy was trying to romance 'em or something."

"Was there trouble?"

"Nah. They straightened him out. Guess he paid one of 'em, because they gave him some Randies and then headed for the door."

"Shit. So he bought Randies and took off with a hooker?"

"That's about it." He tapped his watch. "Time's up."

"Look, thanks for your help. Can you call me if you see him again?"

"No way," Mark said. "The babes are Scarlett's. The Randies, too. They walk out the door, it's her business, not mine. Protective bitch, that one."

"A few thousand help you forget that fear?"

"Not for that fat-ass, it wouldn't. Didn't much like the looks of him anyway."

I gave Mark my best fuck-you smile. "Let's get out of here," I said.

"I knew he wouldn't help us," Gehrig said as we headed for the door.


"Didn't you hear the accent? He's from Brooklyn. They've always hated the Yankees."

Outside the bar, he dropped his big right hand onto the top of my shoulder.

"Hold on a second," he said. "Do you mind explaining what all that was about?"

"What part didn't you get?"

"Well, most of it. I know plenty about girls and booze, but what are Randies and what's a detox?"

"Pills," I told him. "Randies are slightly psychedelic, plus they increase sexual drive and potency. Kind of the best of all worlds. Detox pills are instant sober-ups. Babe probably took a Detox by mistake, and then popped some Randies to rectify the situation."

"What a world," Gehrig said, shaking his head. "If we had sober-up pills in the '20s, Babe might've hit 70 or 80 home runs a year."

"And if you had Randies in the '920s, he would've ended up dead in an alley somewhere."

And then it hit me. Randies were no common street drug. Scarlett's girls had them because they went with the business. Randied-up johns could still get it up. But, like Scarlett's girls, Randies cost large sums of money for even the smallest of doses.

And none of the players had carried any money.

"Oh, man," I said.

Gehrig looked puzzled.

"If I asked you to buy me a drink, could you?" He shook his head.

"Of course not. I don't have a wallet--hell, I feel naked without one."

"Right. So where has Babe gotten the money to pay for his fun?"

I had hoped we could get him back before he had broken any laws. Now I just hoped we'd get him back before the skin of the world's greatest batsman was being peddled on an Osaka streetcorner.

Home base for Scarlett and her girls was, as you might expect, a mansion known as Tara. And while the hookers didn't resemble any character in "Gone With the Wind," all of Scarlett's security people looked exactly like Rhett Butler--or should I say Clark Gable?

"What do you want?" one of the Gables at the door asked us.

"We need to see Scarlett," I told him. "We're looking for a friend of ours."

"Scarlett's real busy," the Gable said. "Who should we say is callin'?"

"My name's Ken Nishi," I said. "I'm looking for a man named Babe Ruth."

"Hold on," Gable Number One said, and went inside. Gehrig and I stood outside with the silent second Gable.

"This Scarlett has identical twin bodyguards?" Gehrig asked me.

"Not quite. The one that just went in is almost two inches shorter than this one." Lou raised his eyebrows. "I'm a detective. I notice this stuff."

"Are these bodyguards like that Shelly girl, then?"

"The plumbing's different--but otherwise, yes."

"I'm sorry," said the first Gable as he emerged from the front door. "Scarlett can't be disturbed right now. I suggest you call again tomorrow."

"Sir," Gehrig began, "would you be so kind as to let us go inside and find our friend?"

The Gable smiled widely. "I'm sorry, pal--but business is business. No visitors while work is in session."

I turned away from the Gables and began walking down the steps that led down to street level.

"Come on, Lou," I said loudly. When we reached the street, I added: "We'll be back. Just need to make a quick purchase."

We found a couple of Scarlett's girls back at Rick's--the problem was getting them interested in us. Scarlett's trained her girls to be very selective about who they'll bring back to Tara. The first thing we had to do was make sure that the girls were first-string--only the cream of the crop room at Tara. The dregs, like Shelly, work at shitholes like the Sampo.

After we found out that Sara and Viv were Scarlett's top-of-the line, we had to convince them that we had money. The first-string ladies are extremely expensive, and the purchase of a few Randies is also required.

We managed to pass our john interview by showing them my credit card (with billions in Corp money backing it) and claiming to be two of the baseball players from the series. Sara bought Gehrig's story, which had the virtue of being true. As for me, well, I told Viv I was legendary Japanese slugger Saduharo Oh.

I guess my credit was good enough that Viv wasn't going to question my veracity. I do look fairly Japanese, though about half my family is European-American--but when it comes to my clothing, body language, and the way I talk, I'm about as inauthentic as you can get.

After they took my money, they handed each of us two small green pills--Randies. I turned to look at Gehrig, who was staring into the palm of his hand. He made a small gulping noise.

I smiled at him and dry-swallowed the Randies. I have to give it to the guy--he had a lot of guts. He imitated my actions as soon as I had finished swallowing.

It was a couple blocks to Tara, so we ended up walking there from Rick's. As I stepped out of the bar and onto the dirty sidewalks of the American, I felt the whole district slide around me.

I could tell that the Randies were kicking in, though their psychedelic effects were mild compared to the drugs I'd taken in the past. And I wasn't really afraid of getting out of control--if I needed it, I had a couple of detox patches in the bottom of my pocket and a gun hidden against the small of my back.

The randies also had an effect on my libido, and so I suddenly began to take more notice of Viv. She was reconstituted-gorgeous, every man's dream and a credit to her plastician. Though I like to think of myself as a pretty good detective, I didn't know whether she was a natural male or female. Some people can take one look at a person's neck and figure out whether they've had their Adam's apple picked or not.

My hand slid around her back and I could feel the curve of her hip underneath the strange material her clothes were made out of. It felt almost alive, more of a second skin than actual clothing. Then again, it could've just been the Randies talking.

Gehrig, meanwhile, was squeezing Sara's breasts and mumbling to himself. I didn't suppose the old boy had much experience with drugs like these, and the double-whammy of sexual drive and hallucinations had to be more powerful than anything that existed in Gehrig's time.

I decided to let him enjoy it while it lasted.

It didn't take us very long to reach Tara. As we neared the front door, a skinseller approached us. It looked like the same one who had been in front of the Sampo earlier.

"Buy some skin," he said. "Real rabbit!"

This time, under the influence of Randies, I was a bit nicer to the little man. Rather than ignoring him, I paused briefly to say hello to the cute bunny skin and pet it a little.

"Nice rabbit you've got there," I told the man. Then Viv pulled me away from him. It was time to enter Tara.

I blinked as I looked up at the mansion's facade. It seemed incredibly huge, aristocratic, and completely out-of-place amidst the cheap neon and plastic crap that made up the rest of the American.

"My, my," I said, "I do believe the south has risen again." The girls ignored me, wisely. We went inside.

"Ready, slugger?" Viv asked me. I have to admit, the Randies were certainly having an effect. I put my hands on her waist, and then slid them up to her breasts. From there, I moved them to on her cheeks, as I began kissing her. Then I slid one of my hands to the nape of her neck and gently stuck a sedative patch to it.

Twenty seconds later, she was unconscious. Two minutes later, Gehrig and I had slapped on our detoxes and were searching room by room for Ruth.

We found the Sultan of Swat half-clothed and face down on a bed a few doors down from our rooms. One of Scarlett's girls was sitting on a chair in the corner, surfing the news channels.

"What do you want?" she asked. "Can't you see I've got a customer?"

"A busy one, too," Gehrig said.

"Look, Scarlett doesn't allow more than one client per girl. And I've got mine. So you'd better leave."

"He's a friend of ours," I told her. "We've come to take him back home."

"Oh, no you don't," she said. "He's paid up. I'm supposed to keep him here until he walks himself out."

"Who asked you to do that?" I asked.

"Scarlett. She told me the fat guy had some big money behind him, and that I should try to get as much of it out of him as possible."

"So you'd keep him here, charging him for your services and for drugs until he finally left?"

"Or until his money ran out, yeah. Why not?"

"Like I said, sister... we've come to take him home." I nodded to Gehrig, who went over to the bed and began shaking Ruth awake.

"Stop it!" the girl shouted. Before she could get protest too loudly, I walked over to her and slapped a sedative derm on her neck.

"Hey!" she shouted. "What the hell do you think you're doing? What's this fucking thing you stuck to me? What did you do to me? Help! I can' stan'up..."

Scarlett's girl hit the ground.

Babe Ruth was slowly coming to, under the kind hand of Lou Gehrig.

"Come on, Babe... time to get up... got to get back before the next game," Gehrig said to the massive home-run king.

"You've done this before," I said.

"Too many times to remember. Like I said... the drugs and buildings may have changed, but he's still the same man and a whorehouse is still a whorehouse."

Gehrig and I pulled the Babe to his feet and began leading him out of Tara. We were about 10 feet from the back door when an alarm went off. I heard a woman screaming from upstairs--it was Viv. Her constitution was stronger than I had expected.

"He fuckin' knocked me out!" she yelled.

Four Gables were suddenly running toward us, two from the front door and two more from the hallway that led to the rest of the building.

"Down!" I yelled to Gehrig and the Babe, and we all fell to the ground. I pulled my gun, hoping that I could get all four of the Gables before they got us.

"Frankly, my dear," I said, pulled the trigger, and scored a direct hit on the head of Gable Number One. "I don't--" and Gable Two went down, "give a--" and Gable three went down, "damn..."

And then Gable Number Four's gun shattered my pistol hand. The gun flew across the floor, but I didn't really notice. I was screaming so loud that I can't even remember being knocked out when the Gable kicked me in the head.

When I woke up, I was in a Matsushita hospital bed. I obviously hadn't been killed by Scarlett--in fact, she had turned me back over to the Corp.

There was nothing I could do during the next few days I lay in that hospital bed but stare at the TV--so I watched the Classic Series. It was as exciting as the Corp had hoped it would be, and they no doubt made a killing on the entire affair. The series went to seven games, just as they had hoped. Maximizing profits was the key.

I was amazed the series was that close--I figured the Yankees would win in a cakewalk. But they were actually down three games to two going into game six. Just as the Corp had hoped, the game ended dramatically--Babe Ruth, looking just as healthy as he always seemed to look on those old-time movie reels, doubled off the top of the centerfield wall in the top of the ninth to score Lou Gehrig and put the Yankees ahead to stay. That hit sent the championship of all time to a seventh game. And to think that just a few days before, Gehrig and I were carrying a half-naked and stoned out of his mind Babe out of a local whorehouse.

The day of the seventh game, I finally found out how I had managed to come out of my adventure alive, and how Babe and Lou had managed to get back in order to play in the series.

My first visitor was a mid-range Matsushita executive named Mariko Santos, and she sure didn't seem happy to see me. In fact, when she walked in the door and saw that I was conscious, she began to scowl. She also refused to make eye contact with me.

"Well, Nishi, at least you managed to get Ruth back without any bad publicity," she said.

No publicity? I had blown away three reincarnations of Rhett Butler in the middle of the biggest brothel in Osaka.

"But you also cost the Corporation a mint, almost all of it unauthorized. You paid for hookers--expensive hookers--and drugs for both yourself and your assistant, and we had to pay Scarlett for all the services Ruth paid for while he was out."

"The Corp had to pay for that?"

"Sure did. Scarlett knew that we were behind the series, and she knew perfectly well who their customer was. So they tried to wring as much money out of the Corporation as possible."

"Well, I did manage to limit how much time Ruth spent at Tara," I told her.

"True. But you also managed to kill two of her bodyguards and seriously wounded a third. We had to pay for his medical bills, plus yours. Scarlett also demanded a very large sum of money to keep it all away from the police."

"How large?"

"Extremely large. That's all I'm allowed to say."

"Shit," I said. Once a Corp worker, always a Corp worker. Matsushita would never fire me--they'd just transfer me again, this time to Antarctica. I'd be gutting fish and throwing their heads into a bucket by Thursday.

"We've got plenty of money, and we got Ruth back in time to have him play in the series. So you're not going to be disciplined. But regional will probably want you out."

I nodded. I would be going somewhere else, if not Antarctica, then somewhere equally unappetizing. Outer Mongolia. Inner Moscow. Someplace cold, where I couldn't read the street signs. At least I'd be someplace where I wouldn't be confused with the locals.

When Santos left the room, Gehrig came in. Right behind him was Babe Ruth himself.

"You're looking a lot better, Ken," were the first words out of Gehrig's mouth.

"Yeah, lookin' real good," Ruth said.

"Thanks. Hey, good luck tonight."

Ruth smiled his famous dimpled, fat-cheeked smile.

"And thanks for pullin' me out of that dive the other day," Ruth said. "I've got hold of some mean stuff in my time, but those pills really take the cake."

"Look, Ken," Gehrig started, "we can't stay long. I practically had to beg on my knees before that Santos woman agreed to bring us here. I just wanted to thank you for all you've done for us. You did a great job."

"It's the first time anyone's gotten shot up for me," Ruth said with a laugh. "If there's anything I can do for you, just name it."

"One thing, Babe," I said. "Hit one out for me tonight."

He smiled again. "You got it, kid."

Whoever made this Ruth character sure got the recipe right.

Ruth hit me a homer, too. It won the series for the Yankees in the bottom of the ninth inning.

The next day, the simulations of the 1927 Yankees were sent back into the void from which they came. They were melted down or erased or whatever you do with computer simulations of real people.

So I had risked my life for these artificial people and the integrity of my corporation. And after all that, while I lay in a hospital bed, the people I had saved were wiped from existence. The only real souvenir I had of the whole event was my shattered hand.

Well, not just the hand. The day after the series, as those players were being dispatched back into oblivion, a Matsushita courier brought me a special package. Inside was a baseball, signed by the real live Ruth and Gehrig replicas.

It was good enough for me.

Jason Snell (jsnell@intertext.com) is the editor of InterText and TeeVee, and the editor of Macworld magazine.

InterText stories written by Jason Snell: "Mr. Wilt" (v1n1), "Haircuts $20" (v1n2), "Peoplesurfing" (v1n3), "Gravity" (v2n1), "The Tired Man and The Hoop" (v2n6), "The Watcher" (v4n3), "714 and Counting" (v12n1).

A version of this story originally appeared in the December 1991 edition of Quanta.

InterText Copyright © 1991-2002 Jason Snell. This story may only be distributed as part of the collected whole of Volume 12, Number 1 of InterText. This story Copyright © 2002 Jason Snell.