Lavinia sits on the bench outside the local Starbs and swallows her antifutureshock meds with a soy chai latte. After a few minutes, she feels able to switch her shades from obstacle-imaging to full vision. The world slowly fades up from green and black wireframe to three-dimensional colour. She gazes blankly over the rail station, at the full-motion billboard ad for the new Speculum Bar down on Main Street, where warm drinks are mixed in and served from the muscular rectums of young Algerian girls.
A flock of Fuckit Kids clatter past Lavinia, videoloop John Lydon tattoos on their scrawny arms snapping out the words “fuck it” over and over. Some of them slow down in front of her. People under twenty-five or so aren’t used to seeing pregnant women. One of them stops dead, scratches his scabby upper arm, making his fresh new talking John Lydon face bend and ripple. Antishocked to the eyeballs, he still struggles to cope with Lavinia’s alien curves.
Fuckit fuckit fuckit. The words lose their power, when they become a constant part of the urban soundtrack. The tat may be new, but the Fuckit Kid shows all the signs of having already tuned out the noise. Lavinia considers the boy. He’s beautiful, in a crooked, dirty way. He’s thin and wired and stupid and sniffs the air like an animal. It occurs to her that, on the days she’d forget to take her meds, he’d be attractive to her. The sort of boy she’d wipe her mouth on afterwards and toss back at the floor like a rag.
Sparrows skitter across the ground between them, playing ringtones.
She smiles, peels back her top to expose her belly. “Do you want to touch?” The words sound slow to her. She’d never realised, before she started experimenting with unmedicated urban experience, that everyone speaks slowly now. Sedated antishock drawl. He sniggers. Looks back at his crew, fuckiting off into the tangle of commuterhuman streams. Nervous now. Lavinia strokes her belly. “Come and feel it. It’s weird.”
He steps to her. Kneels. He’s almost reverent. This is going to be special. This is going to be new. In his slow head, he can almost perceive a frame around the image, something timeless. This is how people used to be made, he thinks. This is biological history, this is.
Bark drops from the shade tree beside the bench, revealing slick pink vertebrae.
Lavinia takes his grimy hand and places it gently on her belly. “Just wait,” she says. “You’ll feel him move in a moment.”
Her stomach distends softly. A bump, from a kick. His eyes widen in wonder. He feels it move. Again. Independent motion inside her body. He feels… he doesn’t know what he feels. He feels.
And then he hears it move.
A whump. A beating sound. A deep, cupped clapping. Whump. Coming from her belly. Whump.
Lavinia smiles. It’s not a nice smile anymore, she knows. She smiles and pulls the sonogram sheet from her bag. Rubs it together to release its conducting gel, and then stretches it tight over her belly. The sheet flickers to life, taking soundings of her womb. The image of her unborn child resolves.
Her winged foetus.
The Fuckit Kid retches and scrambles away. Lavinia throws the sonogram sheet on the floor. It freaks out for a moment, and then begins imaging the pipes, wires and dead animals under the paving slabs. She watches the Fuckit Kid almost fall over again in his eagerness to be back inside his flock of cultural clones. Winks to read the time off the inside of her eyelid. Time to go. Lavinia stands, leaving the sheet, leaving her bag and her drink, and walks steadily down the steps to the rail station, followed by a three-headed frog.
Just enough time to be on the tracks by the time the train arrives.
((c) Warren Ellis 2004 all rights reserved etc etc. This later got adapted into the opening sequence of the comics single ANGEL STOMP FUTURE.)