Monday, June 22, 2015

Being more than a Simulacrum (Part 10)

[Link to part 1]

Place was on the verge of nodding off to sleep after hours of driving, so the CD had to be put on. It was part way though a line when it started

... in the house of detention.

Since she knew the song, and thus knew what was coming next, she thought it was fairly appropriate:

Well, I'm on my way;

Place tried to keep her head up and her eyes open. She wanted to keep Joannah company, which meant staying awake.

I don't know where I'm going.

A blink that almost put her to sleep.

I'm on my way;

It was really a pointless exercise, she was passed the point of being able to make conversation. She just wanted to be awake, even if she couldn't help.

I'm taking my time but I don't know where.

Maybe think about something? The ride so far, perhaps?

* * *

Introductions over, Place climbed into the cab of the semi. “Thanks again for doing this,” she said to the driver.

“As you-- sorry. As Kim would say, it's 'no big',” Joannah said.

There was a moment of silence, then Joannah said, “I'm glad to have company. The radio's busted, the CD player won't eject, and if I don't hear a human voice I tend to fall asleep, so if it weren't for you I'd be listening to the same CD on endless repeat for the seventeen hours from here to Calgary.

“I'll probably owe you a favor or two for letting me give you the ride.”

“Just remember that I'm getting off before the Canadian border,” Place said.

Joannah smiled. “I will.”

“What's the CD?” Place asked.

“Paul Simon, self titled,” Joannah said. “I love him, but the same 11 songs non-stop is . . .”

Obviously at a loss for words, Jonnah kept her eyes on the road and her left hand on the wheel, but gestured with her right as if she were trying to grasp for ideas. Finally she made a sound somewhere between a sigh and a groan.

“I can imagine,” Place said.

For a bit there was just the sound of the truck on the road.

“So what are you going to do in Montana?” Joannah asked.

“Introduce myself to my uncle and my cousin and hope that they take it well,” Place said.

“You think they will?”

Place shrugged. Then she realized that Joannah was keeping her sight so focused on the road that she probably didn't pick up on it. “They're Possibles,” she explained. “Strange is what we live.”

“What about other people? Do you think they'll have a problem with you because you're … you know?”

Place didn't immediately answer. For a moment her mind was blank, then she thought about the question in general. She hadn't done that in a while. It had been one of the first things she'd thought about when she woke up in Drakken's lair and Shego told her she was a clone, but since then she'd had other things on her mind.

Finding an identity of her own, thinking about the process that made her, trying to find a way to navigate knowing people who didn't know her thanks to Kim's memories, the desire to introduce herself to her family personally instead of letting them find out when the news broke that there was a Kim-clone.

“You don't have to answer if it's too personal,” Joannah offered.

“No, it's not that,” Place said. “I just … don't know.” She closed her eyes and cleared her mind. Where to start? “The last time Kim was cloned the clones were shoddy, not-quite-human, mindless, and vicious. It doesn't exactly set a good precedent for clone acceptance.

“But, on the other hand, I'm pretty much the same as a twin, and maybe people will realize that.

“The big thing that makes me different from everyone else is memories. I have Kim's, I still don't fully understand why.” Place snorted at herself. “Actually, I don't understand why at all. Trying to get answers on that is my next stop after Montana.

“Kim is so well known and connected that it's sure to make a huge difference that I'm a clone of Kim Possible, as opposed to just a clone of someone.

“I have no idea how people will react,” Place said. “You seem to have taken it well.”

“Well … Kim doesn't know this,” Joannah said, “but the reason that I reached out to Team Possible when I had that trouble was that Wade and I already knew each other.”

“Oh?” Place asked. She didn't actually know much of anything about Joannah, or what 'that trouble' was because it had apparently happened just a few months ago-- after Place's memories from Kim stopped.

“I used to work in genetics,” Joannah said. “I did cloning.”

Place had no idea what to say to that.

“Not people,” Joannah said with a tone and cadence Place associated with a feeling of, 'Oh crap, I just gave someone the completely wrong idea.' “I mostly worked with cephalopods, actually... but I've got enough experience not to be superstitious about clones or assume stereotypes from bad science fiction will be true.”

Place thought about that for a bit and then said, “Trucking seems a bit of a change of pace from cloning squid.”

“Primarily octopodes, in point of fact. And yes it is, I needed a change of pace.”

“Do tell.”

* * *

Place was pulled out of her reflection by familiar notes playing. “It couldn't have gone all the way around yet.”

“It hasn't,” Joannah said.

It took effort to process the sounds, realize they were different, and figure out what was going on, “Demo track on the 2004 CD?” Place asked.

“Yup,” Joannah said. “Which means that there are three songs that play twice every time the CD plays.”

Place nodded. She was too tired to think of the fact that Joannah couldn't see her nod.

She went back to thinking about the ride, so far. Where had she left off? Joannah telling about herself.

* * *

Joannah's story started off normally. Going through school, university, grad school, getting a starting job at a research lab, working her way up, specializing first in cephalopods in general, then in octopodes, and finally becoming the leader in the field of modifying them, cloning them, and cloning modified versions.

That was when things took a sharp turn. Villains started coming after her. They were mostly small time, sea-life themed ones that Kim, and thus Place, had never heard of but Joannah did have a story to tell about Dr. Dementor that had left Place laughing so hard she could barely breathe.

As more and more of her life became dealing with villains, Joannah found herself enjoying her work significantly less and dreaming of a clean break and a new life. She'd met Wade --online of course-- by now, and was thinking about asking him to help her start fresh. The last straw had been a low life named “The Double Barreled Nautilus.”

After that she'd just wanted out.

“I found a good home for Six-foot in a local aquarium, asked Wade to help me find a non-science job that would let me see more of the world --landscape, not cities and such-- because I'd spent so much time cooped up in a lab, and in six weeks I had my first trucking gig.”

“Makes sense,” Place had said. Then she'd thought for a moment about where Joannah had said she was going. Calgary, which was in.... “How do you like Alberta?”

“It's good, the north is mostly forest, which limits your views, but it's also got prairie in the south, the continental divide on the western border, and the steppe. So there's various stuff to see as you're driving through it.”

* * *

This time it was because the CD had cycled all the way though.

“I can see how this could get grating after a while.”

...when the radical priest
come to get me released

It felt to Place like all she did was blink.

and spit on the ground
every time my name gets mentioned.

“It couldn't have... I was only … it was just a second,” Place stammered.

“It's the third time this has played since the last time you spoke.”


Miles and songs blended together. It was impossible to concentrate on anything.


* * *

Joannah opened the door and said to the girl, “Found a motel, think you can walk in?”

The response was a murmured, “I would not give you false hope, on this strange and mournful day...”

Joannah closed the door and walked toward the office. She'd heard enough of the lyrics from Simon. She didn't need sleeping beauty's rendition. She'd have to carry the girl to the room, but there was no sense in doing that until she actually had the room.

* * *

“My friend needs a room,” Joannah said to the woman, maybe in her early twenties, at the desk.

“Your friend?”

“She's asleep in my truck.”

“And you don't need a room?”

“There's a bed in the back of a cab,” Joannah said, “Can I get her a room or not?”

The woman shrugged. “Yeah; cash or credit?”

“Cash,” Joannah said as she opened her wallet.

“For cash I need an ID,” the woman said.

“From her? She's asleep and I'm not about to--”

“No, no,” the woman said. “Yours is fine, I just need to photograph the ID so we have a record of who we did business with. With credit cards the information is all in the transaction so I don't need anything extra.”

* * *

Place woke up and was careful not to move or open her eyes. Habits kept from Kim's memories. Never tip your hand and let a potential enemy know you're conscious. Last she remembered she was in a truck and a Paul Simon CD was on endless repeat.

She definitely wasn't in the truck anymore. She seemed to be in a bed. She was still wearing her clothes, shoes included. There was a blanket over her.

No restraints.

She cautiously opened an eye and took a look.

Motel room.

She got out of the bed, walked to the window. The truck was in the parking lot.

She walked out to it, but wasn't sure what to do. Did she knock?

“I was wondering when you'd get up,” Joannah said from behind her. “I'm glad you didn't sleep too late, it might have put me behind.”

“Um...” At first Place wasn't sure where to start, then she decided to go for the obvious. “Why are we here?”

“I thought you could use a bed,” Joannah said. “Also, Marie, the woman who works the counter here, is a stunning chess player. But I didn't know that until after I woke up this morning and wanted someone to talk to.”

“Ok... um, how far along are we?”

“It'll probably still be morning when I drop you off.”

* * *

“Thanks again,” Place said as she got out of the truck.

“I owe you for--”

“Whatever Kim did for you is--”

“For fixing my radio,” Joannah said.

“Oh,” Place said. She felt bad about cutting Joannah off. “I'm not going to act humble, because that was a huge deal, but it was as much for me as it was for you.

You can beat us with wires,” Place said quoting track 7, “you can beat us with chains, but it's nothing compared to listening to the same eleven songs a hundred thousand times in a row.”

“Well, I'm the one who will be in this truck from here on out,” Joannah said, “So whatever your motives, I feel like I owe you.”

“I feel like I owe whoever abandoned that Chevy on the side of the road,” Place said. “I can do a lot of things, but I can't repair a radio without parts.”

Joannah just laughed, “Thanks regardless. Good luck with your family.”

“Ditto, and good luck with the rest of the journey.”

* * *

A robot horse was acting every bit as wild as the least trained mustang in existence. Joss was standing with her back to Place, pretty much all Place could see of her was her dark red hair.

“Still haven't gotten the bugs out of Old Tornado?” Place asked.

“Kim?” Joss asked, turning around.

Place was glad to see that Joss had taken up fashion of her own, instead of copying Kim and Ron's mission clothes. The flannel shirt and well worn jeans suited her.

“No, not Kim,” Place said. “My name is Leela Place Possible, and I'm a clone of Kim.”

Uncle Slim had come out of the barn, and said, “Maybe we should go in the house and talk.”

Place nodded. Slim used a remote to power down Old Tornado, Joss vaulted over the paddock fence, and all three walked toward the house.


[Previous][Being more than a Simulacrum Index][Next]
[Kim Possible Index]

- - -

Originally I was going to have a lot more story in this chapter (it was going to continue until Place left her uncle's ranch) but the ride ended up taking more words than I anticipated so this seemed like a good place to break.


  1. Yay, more BmtaS!

    This is a good chapter. I like Paul Simon too - although I have Graceland, not his self-titled album - but one album on heavy repeat ... oof. I will do that voluntarily for a few days, but by the end of the month it would drive me nuts.

  2. “You can beat us with wires,” Place said quoting track 7, “you can beat us with chains, but it's nothing compared to listening to the same eleven songs a hundred thousand times in a row.”

    Personally, I find that after several dozen repetitions of a CD, I lose almost all ability to feel any emotion at all about the songs or their presence. Songs that were good, songs that were bad, they're all just background noise now.

    (Our car's CD player is not broken, but there were a few years there where Mom liked to use it to play the same mix CD over and over.)


    For the record, I enjoyed reading this.

    1. For the record, I enjoyed reading this.



      Personally, I find that after several dozen repetitions of a CD, I lose almost all ability to feel any emotion at all about the songs or their presence. Songs that were good, songs that were bad, they're all just background noise now.

      Honestly, it works the same way for me. Perhaps I should have thought about that as I was writing this.

      That said, Place is exaggerating, but it's also the case that she heard most of the music while in a semiconscious state of continuously falling asleep but not quite getting there. (She didn't reach truly restful sleep until she was in a bed instead of a moving truck.) Which means that the music invaded her dreams and stuff like that. I haven't really worked out what those dreams would have been, but they might not have been pleasant.

      It'll probably be at least a month before she can actually have an emotional response (good or bad) to any of the songs, it's more the idea of listening to them on endless repeat that bothers her at this point.