Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 6.25

Posted by harmony0stars on June 21, 2010

Ann shook her head sadly. “I don’t know what makes some people think they have the right to experiment on other creatures, especially intelligent ones. I don’t care if an animal is only as intelligent as a five year old. Does that mean they think experimenting on five year olds is acceptable? I’ve always believed that any creature with a herd mentality, that gathers in a social group, has the potential for intelligence.”

“I don’t know about that,” Glory said with a shrug. “I always figured intelligence developed from a variety of environmental pressures. Herd mentality could just as easily hold mental development back as give it a leg up. Schools of fish and flocking birds are following instinct and most are not at all intelligent. But octopuses and other cephalopods are thought to be at least curious, which is one accepted sign of possible intelligence, and they’re solitary, no social structure to speak of. I think lower and higher animals form social groups for different reasons. Herding may be an instinctive response to predation, but higher animals may form social groups as much for mental stimulation as for mutual protection. Similar tactics to deal with very different stimuli.”

“Oh I am so going to enjoy talking to you!” Ann chuckled, setting down her travel mug to steep. She came back into the living room and opened a door to a closet. With a grunt, she shut it and headed towards a hall that probably went to her bedroom. “You might as well come with me and help me look. If it’s not up here, we’ll have to go down to the basement and my storage space.”

There weren’t as many bookcases in Ann’s bedroom, though there were enough that Glory felt they had to be kindred spirits at least in so far as bibliophilia went. “Um, don’t mind the mess,” she said, gesturing to the unmade bed. “I don’t usually have company. Could you look under the bed? I think it would fit under there.” She turned to the closet that ran half the length of the room, poking around on the high shelf before moving clothes out of the way to scan the floor.

“I think I got it,” Glory said after a few seconds, grabbing the handle of an ancient battered suitcase and pulling it out.

“So what do you do for a living?” Ann asked as she took the suitcase and opened it on the bed. “Five bedroom house in Sybar City, you must have a pretty important job. I doubt you’re independently wealthy.”

Glory blushed. “Um, well, actually I am.”

“Oh,” Ann looked embarrassed.

“It’s a long story,” she said, and part of an even longer story which she’d have to tell Robert and Ann both if Edgar approved of her.

“But then you could afford to go to any university. Don’t let Nigel lure you out here.”

Glory shook her head. “I’ve already given the kids as an excuse for why I can’t really be a member of his little club, but I’ve offered to work on select cases, and I‘m funding an increase in security around their special collections room in the library. It’s not that I want anything to do with him or whatever paranoid goal he has in mind, but after what happened with Jacoby, I can’t afford to alienate him. He has to think I’m at least trying to play ball.”

“I don’t imagine he’s going to be happy about me working for you,” Ann replied nervously.

“Considering I’m hiding Edgar in plain site, you’re the least of my worries.”

Ann smirked. “Edgar… for Poe? That’s cute.” She dumped some shampoo and conditioner into the suitcase, and went over to a dresser to root around for some clothes.

“Ghouls have a very odd sense of humor. I think he’ll appreciate the reference when he’s older.” She watched as Ann filled the suitcase. “ Look, if Scott says anything about you, I‘ll know he‘s watching me, and I‘ll just say that I felt sorry for you. If I continue to help him out now and then, he‘ll realize you‘re harmless or at least that it‘s worth it to leave you alone if only to free me up for whatever he has planned.”

“It’s still dangerous,” Ann said, squeezing the suitcase shut and snapping the locks in place. “You don’t know how many people he’s gotten killed over the years, not that he‘s ever taken responsibility for a single death. It’d be a PR nightmare if the various families ever found out about each other.”

“That’s something to keep in mind if we ever get the feeling he might try anything. But if I don’t keep my foot in, I’ll never know what he’s up to until it’s too late to do anything about it. If he’d been completely honest with me about the draug…”

“I don’t think he’s even completely honest with himself,” Ann replied bitterly. “You’re not responsible for that, and I don’t blame you or myself for Sean. I -I feel guilty about his death, but I really do believe if he hadn’t had Nigel’s menagerie to abuse, he would have been a serial killer. I never met anyone, except maybe for Nigel, who was so cruel and yet could be so charming.”

“I’ve had the same thought about Professor Scott several times. Dr Blackwood is hard to fathom as well, though I only just met him.”

“Albert’s nice once you get to know him,” Ann replied with a blush. Maybe they’d dated? “Keeping watch over the special collections is a huge burden on him. At least once a week he has to go down there either to let someone look at the books or just to make sure no one’s tampered with them. I know he hates handling them, and it’s not because they’re delicate.”

“Well, hopefully the new security and the magical protections I promised to work on will help him out.” Ann looked at her skeptically as they walked to the door, and Glory smiled. “You’re going to say you don’t believe in magic, even after everything you’ve probably seen, and Dr Blackwood’s reaction to the special collections.”

Ann paused to pick up her mug. “Well… I believe in psychic ability, so Dr Blackwood could simply be sensitive to psychic imprints on occult artifacts, and all of the creatures in the holding cells can be explained away through evolution.”

“What about the way the books warp surveillance equipment?” The rain had all but stopped and she popped the trunk for Ann’s suitcase.

“I didn’t know that.” She shrugged. “I’m sure there’s a plausible physical explanation. Maybe some of the artifacts are radioactive?”

“And Freyr’s sword? It fought on its own against the draug.”

Ann shrugged again as she opened the car door and took a her seat. “I guess I just don’t like the term. Anything people don’t understand is typically called magic.”

Glory smiled. “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

“Arthur C Clarke, right?”

“It’s my favorite quote, and Leigh Brackett’s ‘Witchcraft to the ignorant is simple science to the learned.’”

to Book 6, page 26


Through the Eye of an Octopus


4 Responses to “Tattoo Book 6.25”

  1. Fiona said

    octopuses: the closest thing to an alien intelligence we have on earth?

    • Definitely. Water itself is such a different medium to live in that at the very least an octopus might think in three or more dimensions, whereas we tend to deal with planar-linear thought. There was a Discovery channel special I saw in which they advanced the evolution of some animals in the event that mankind disappeared. I especially liked what they did with octopuses, putting them in trees and making them possibly the next intelligent species to inherit the earth. Just recently I read an article online about octopuses using some of them legs to “walk” on the bottom of the ocean and the others as arms, just like us. It would be excellent if we could flash forward in time see what they might become in a couple eons.

      • Fiona said

        Have you ever read the book “Mother of Demons” by Eric Flint? A bunch of humans crash land on a planet where the intelligent lifeforms are huge mollusc-like creatures. It’s pretty cool how their physiology and social relationships are imagined.

        (Tip: book is available free from Baen Free Libary if you want to read online)

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