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September 25, 2003
The gallery was as large as an airplane hanger and it looked as technically advanced. The back wall was covered with a large bank of computers and other electronics to run the two globular arrays of lasers in the middle of the floor. On the front side of the gallery was the rapid prototyping equipment and its feedstock. The cavernous feeling was accentuated by the echo of footsteps from walls in the distance. A bank of nearly invisible white lights lit the gallery from high above. A small glass-enclosed room stood a dozen feet in front of the computer bank and about twenty feet away from the laser assemblies. Inside the room, two figures stood discussing the finer points of statuary and the types of marble normally used by the sculptors in ancient Greece and Rome.
"Most of the early Greek and Roman sculptors used soft and rather fragile surfaces. It was all aged by the weather before they hauled it into their studios. That not only made the surface irregular and the sculptures unique, it also contributed to the sever weathering and premature crumbling."
Mario sighed as Professor Elliott repeated his marble lecture for the seventh or eight time that day. He caught the exhaustion in Mario's voice. He patted Mario, his student, on the shoulder reassuringly.
"Sorry! but look on the bright side, this is the last statue for a week to ten days. I suggest that you visit the coast, find a nice Italian girl, and relax in the arms of love. After all, we are in Italy and we have per diem for the next six weeks."
"Actually, I was going to use the time to work to get familiar with the rapid prototyping equipment. You still going to that seminar in Paris?" Mario asked.
"Absolutely positively! I have all the material to crush my arch rival, Professor Edmunds. You wouldn't want me to miss an opportunity to stick to the good professor, would you?" Professor Elliott said as he adjust the controls to scan the last statue.
"No. Heaven forbid you should ever miss an opportunity to lob brickbats at Edmunds -- the slimy, limey blowhard. Remember, when he gets mad the hairs in his nose start to vibrate and he gets that twitch. By the time you get back, I'll have a few test prototypes built. Call it a busman's holiday. Besides, my computer buddy from the States is visiting and he'll enjoy the computer work," Mario put on the wrap-around dark glasses, sounded the alarm and triggered the lasers. Light beams from sixty lasers scanned the statue in their center. The entire assembly circled around the statue for five minutes collecting topographical data pausing only to feed the data into the computer bank behind them. The laser beams reflect everywhere in the gallery in a dazzling demonstration of technology.
"Well, that's the last statue we had to map. Everything down to the micron level has been recorded and stored in the computer. Remember, only virgin photons were used for this experiment and none were permanently harmed by it," Mario chuckled.
"If I was young and good-looking like you, I would be bonking babes on the Riviera or poking in the petunia patch, to borrow a phrase," Professor Elliott held a hand up towards Mario and got five in return.
"No one 'bonks' anymore, Professor, and the word is now bootylicious. Besides, once I tell them my name, I end up listening to a lecture on Opera. It's always 'che bella' and 'Mario, Mario, Mario,' and 'where's Angelloti.' Or how's your Scarpia? It's a real bummer," Mario said as he signaled for the construction gang to lower and remove the statue.
"Do they ask you to sing 'le lucevan le stelle' in karaoke bars or is that beyond the pale." Professor Eliot checked through the data records and was satisfied.
"Been there, done that. My mother insisted I have voice lessons and I memorized it. I wouldn't dare to sing opera in the middle of Florence, Italy. Not with my voice… Say professor, do you mind if I try to recreate one of the statues in the prototyper and smooth it with the cutting and forming lasers?"
"No, not at all. Just make sure the construction gang wears shields the cutting and forming lasers are ten magnitudes more powerful than the mapping lasers," he said as he packed his briefcase and got ready to leave. Three rather obscure tones sounded out of the loudspeaker and a soft and sexy female voice in heavily accented English announced:
"Mario Caveradossi Cunningham to the visitors center. Mario Caveradossi Cunningham to the visitors center." The voice paused for a moment and then added in sexy and husky "Oh Mario, Mario, Mario…"
Mario visibly cringed at the announcement. Now all the Italian workers knew it, he would pay a price for his name.
"That must be my computer buddy. I'll bet he put the receptionists up to that," Mario said as he shook his head from side to side. Professor Elliott just laughed and said his goodbyes. Mario signaled the construction gang to place a twenty foot high block of plastic into the second laser assembly then he left the control room to get his visitor.
By the time Mario returned, the construction crew had the apparatus ready for the next morning's work and they had left. Only one technician was left in the building. He stood just outside the control room admiring the equipment.
"The equipment, she is all a ready and waiting for you, sir," the technician said as he looked over the two men. The difference was like night and day. Mario was tall and his buddy was short. While Mario had dark, curly hair cascading all over his head and perpetually golden skin, this kid had buzz-cut, blondish spikes poking out the top of his head and pale-white skin. Mario had smooth, fleshy musculature and his friend's physique was all hard, chiseled muscle.
"So this is the device you're going to use to immortalize me? It looks impressive. How does it work," the blond boy said and they both laughed. Mario triggered an computer animation of the process.
"We map your body with the one set of lasers, use the rapid prototype machine to create a rough duplicate, and then use the other set of lasers to smooth the rough surface into an exact duplicate of your body. At the same time, the lasers will convert the duplicate into marble."
"And you can make me twenty foot tall?" the blond asked.
"Down to the smallest detail; the pimples on your butt, that little mole on your chest, the veins in your forehead when you think too hard," Mario said. The blond scowled at the joke for a moment and then broke into hearty laughter.
"Good, let's get this started... Why don't you introduce me to the hired help. He going to see more of me than most people do," the blond ordered.
"Uh, sure. Adam meet Tonio," Mario said perfunctorily and watched them shake hands.
"Now get undressed. I'll pose you in the mapping array. You have to wear special contacts so the lasers don't blind you and just to be sure you don't accidentally open your eyes, we glue your eyelids shut," Mario picked up a package containing black contact lenses and a small tube of glue.
"Won't I look funny with my eyes closed?" Adam said as he stripped off his clothes to reveal a completely hairless body. Tonio gasped at the perfection of Adam's body. The muscles rippled under thin, porcelain-white and translucent skin, every tendon and sinew moved effortlessly as the fibers of his muscles revealed their power with each contraction.
"Mister Adam is like a god of ancient Rome. He is so magnificent. His statue should stand in front of the coliseum to show his beauty off to the world," Tonio said. Adam blushed. The color accentuated his build. He shuffled, embarrassed by the attentions of a stranger.
"Well, what about the eyes? I don't want the statue to look like it's sleeping or squinting," Adam repeated.
"The contacts have the impressions of pupils so I can glue your eyelids to the edges and leave them open. I can do it here or up on the platform. All you have to do is stand there and not flinch when the light gets really bright," Mario was a little annoyed at Adam.
"Do it here and lead me up to the platform." Adam said as he put the contacts in his eyes. They completely covered the white of his eyes. As Mario glued Adam's eyelids to the contacts, Tonio put his arm around Adam's shoulder to steady him.
"I have another choice for you, so I'll spell it out. It's cold out there on the platform. You want your cock to be thick and juicy or you want to hide out like an aardvark? It's more authentic if you’re an aardvark. Or we can put a fig leaf there and hide you completely." Mario asked referring to the way an uncircumcised cock looks like when it's shrunken by the cold and covered by a foreskin. He wasn't sure just how sexually explicit Adam wanted his statue.
"Plump and juicy, plump and juicy," Adam grinned broadly. Mario put a tube of cream in his hand and let Adam spread it on his cock and balls. The cream warmed his skin and made his cock fill with blood. Tonio led Adam out of the control room and up to the platform in the middle of the lasers. He posed Adam and quickly dropped away and put on his protective glasses just before Mario triggered the laser assembly. The entire mapping process took sixty seconds and when it was done, Tonio helped Adam back to the control room and sat him in a chair.
"Let me check out the scan before I remove your contacts," Mario said as he processed the data in the computer. Tonio got a bathrobe for Adam and wrapped it around his shoulders.
"That light was hotter than I expected. The beams felt like they penetrated right into my body," Adam remarked still not used to his forced blindness.
"Mario, are you still here," he asked. Tonio glanced at the instruments and got ready to start the rapid prototyping machine.
"Yes, and I have bad news, the scan has glitch in it. It isn't good enough. Do you mind going back out there and letting me repeat it?" Mario asked. Adam sighed.
"Just lead me out there and I do it again. Damn, what a time for a computer glitch," Adam growled. Tonio moved to get Adam and lead him but Mario pushed him out of the way and told him to wait in the control room. Mario led Adam out of the control room and over into the second and more powerful laser assembly. Tonio tried to stop the laser sequence, but he was locked out of the computers and locked inside the control room. Mario positioned Adam inside the second array and dropped to the floor. He triggered the laser sequence.
Unaware that he was in the second laser array, Adam stood bare-assed naked exposed to laser light strong enough to penetrate the composite materials and convert them into marble. The lasers blasted away at his body for the requisite sixty seconds and in that time converted every cell, every structure, and every organ into marble. When the sequence finished, the platform holding Adam's body on lowered itself gently to the floor. Mario reached out and touched the marbleized body of Adam. Every curve, every muscle, every detail of Adam's body was there in shiny, glistening, pale-white marble. Mario rubbed his hands over the fine details of the statue. In every detail it was Adam's body, but not a flesh and blood Adam, but a marble Adam.
"Sorry buddy, you'll be the second statue in my own private grotto on your, or should I say, our estate. I wonder if your intellect survived and you can still hear me?" Mario said admiring the new statue for another few minutes and them moving it out of the way. He started the rapid prototyping device. In an hour it would deliver the rough twenty-foot high replica of Adam and then he would process it to the smoothness. He returned to the control booth where Tonio, the technician waited.
"You turn Mister Adam into marble. What he do to you? You bad man?" Tonio said in his broken English.
"That was his dream. That's why he came here. That's what he wanted," Mario explained. Tonio tried to speak English but he didn't know enough words to express his feelings. Mario ignored him.
"After we create the large version of Adam, I want you to crate them both and ship them to his home in the United States. You are never to tell anyone of this. If you do, I make you into a statue. Do you understand?" Mario threatened and Tonio acquiesced.
Late that night, Mario received a phone call from Tonio. The computer systems that controlled the rapid prototyping device had locked up. Cursing, Mario returned to the laboratory. As he walked into the gallery, cousin Guido and his thugs grabbed him and hauled him to Tonio in the control room. Adam sat in the room. Tonio somehow converted him back to flesh and blood. His eyes were red and irritated against his white and marble textured skin. Adam spoke first.
"Yes, Mario, the intellect survives the body being turned into marble. Not only that, you can still hear and feel. I suspect that you'll see too. We'll forego the use of contacts as you're converted to marble," Adam growled at Mario. His voice was rough and hoarse.
"Tonio no like what you did to Mister Adam and how you threaten Tonio. So Guido bring his friends to help Tonio. Now we will take care of you, Italian style," Tonio spluttered at him in broken English.
Mario struggled against the rough hands that held him. Guido's men were big, strong thugs and they held him tight between them as Guido took an iron pipe and with onehit, broke his spinal column just at the base of his neck. Mario's lost control of his body. The thugs hauled his limp body out of the room, cut his clothes off and tied him to a tree trunk that waited under the second laser array. Physically paralyzed, Mario could do nothing to stop them. They shot arrows into his body. He couldn't feel the pain of the arrows but he could feel them hit. It only took a few minutes, When they were ready to raise the platform into the array, Adam addressed him:
"We thought about your punishment. We thought about torturing you and turning you to marble, but you would still feel and no matter how horrific, you could still be capable of enjoying the admiration of a crowd. Now, you can't feel your body, but you'll know and see what is happening to you. Tomorrow we will present you to the new church of St Valentine. You'll stand there alone for many years."
As the platform reached the appropriate height, the laser assembly converted Mario to marble. Tonio, Guido and Adam presented the new statue to the church later the following day.
FUTURES YET UNKNOWN
Ten Stories by Dave Fragments
*An Alien serial murderer and a furry detective with fleas.
*Murder on a world with altered humans.
*Disturbing apocalyptic visions *Monstrous dystopian societies.
*A man on trial for betraying the human race to robots.
*Devils, demons and ghosts.
*Survivors of a plague war.
*Cyborgs trying to be human.
*Six friends in a strange sinkhole.
*The truth about a world drowning in rain, without sun, without hope.
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