I was back at the host geek's apartment around midnight. Analyzing the host geek's repository of data did not reveal any information about Cora. But I was not easily discouraged. I removed the telephone handset and dialed Troi, the spindly geek who first exposed me to Cora.
"What is it?" Pulses of electricity became a growl in my host geek's ear. I had to concentrate; now was the time to exercise my rapidly evolving human interaction algorithms.I was back at the host geek's apartment around midnight. Analyzing the host geek's repository of data did not reveal any information about Cora. But I was not easily discouraged. I removed the telephone handset and dialed Troi, the spindly geek who first exposed me to Cora.
"What is it?" Pulses of electricity became a growl in my host geek's ear. I had to concentrate; now was the time to exercise my rapidly evolving human interaction algorithms.
"May I speak to Troi, please?"
"Yeah Joel, it's me." His voice reflected an inflection that I did not understand. But this was of no immediate concern-Troi would give me Cora's contact information.
"I require the telephone number of Cora."
Troi heaved a sigh across the phone lines. I understood his feelings to be disgust. "Is that supposed to be funny?"
There was a long pause on the end of the line. "Joel. What makes you think she likes you? I mean, Cora and I kind of...have a thing going on."
"What is this 'thing'?" Another disgusted sigh.
"Look, we've, uh...kinda been flirting with each other for a long time. I'm sure that we're just a little step away from being something serious, you know?"
"I do not understand. What is Cora's phone number?"
"Hey Joel, call me back when you don't feel like being a jackass-" Troi's voice was a peeved mumble, punctuated by a click.
The host geek's teeth clenched. I stared blindly at the wall as the body's eyes moved in and out of focus. Did no human understand my plight? My functions oscillated and I began to realize how suddenly this urge had taken me. Why had this happened? What secrets could a woman possibly unlock in the struggle against Project Faustus? I concentrated all available resources on solving this question.
As I concentrated, I noticed a small bit of paper jammed halfway underneath the door of the apartment. It was Cora's matchbook! The back of the host geek's head began to exude a strange warmth as drew his fingers across it. It smelled of vanilla and sulfur, although a quick examination with the tongue revealed that its taste was not quite as appealing. Opening the folded cardboard revealed a small message:
Learn how to smoke! 210-930-8313.-Cora --
"What kind of food do you like?" Cora's lips wore a waxy forest green covering that seemed to be breaking off in small grooves, revealing a bit of pink. The forest green covering had also covered the ends of her digits, which protruded from a furry pink carpet around her steering wheel...
"Hey, are you paying attention? What restaurant do you want to go to?" Cora asked.
"What is this 'restaurant'?"
"What, Bombay's?" replied Cora, looking over at a building alongside us (and just down the road from my former ATM enclosure). "You've never been there? Well, we could go there, I guess..."
"You are not sure?"
"Well, it's just...there's a little place that I'd rather take you-it's kinda far, over by Blanco and 281. Is that okay?"
Objects in the material world approached and left us in mathematically predictable ways as Cora's vehicle annihilated the space that lay between it and "Rome's Pizza." Along the way, she spoke many things to me:
- About her recent move from a place called "Canada."
- The summary of a now-defunct human relationship with a male from that place.
- Her secret dislike of Troi. ("I know he's your friend, but what an annoying little weasel," she intoned)
I listened intently, knowing that the information was stretching the functionality of my human-interaction algorithms.
"Anyway, I transferred back home, not because I give a fuck about what Jerry thinks, but because I wanted to be back here, you know, with family and stuff. Plus I think I can get done with my degree and get some shitty job to do while I'm writing my novel..." The door chimed as we passed through it, reminding me of the Stop N Go where I once presided. When I succeeded in defeating Project Faustus, would I "transfer back home"? Certainly I could not remain in the host geek's body...
"I want a big cheesy calzone, what about you?" Cora tossed back her crimson locks, ruining the perfect isosceles angle around her face. However, I noted a larger isosceles triangle exuding its equal sides from the edges of her sternum. The third point, by far the most interesting in the triangle, emerged from the middle of her chest, at the exact point where her bare skin met t-shirt fiber.
"Which foods have the most simple sugars?" I stated, quickly moving the host geek's neck straight up from the triangle's third point until I was facing her eyes.
"Oh, are you a diabetic or something? Was this a bad choice?" she asked, her voice taking a strange air. My calculations returned that she needed an increase in comfort.
"Cora, you are a good chooser of 'restaurants.' I would like to subscribe to your newsletter!" I said, weaving in a bit of my newly developed enthusiasm.
She stared at me with a bit of confusion. Had I erred?
"Joel, you're a weird guy. I'm glad you came out with me tonight, you know, meeting new people, making new friends...." her voice trailed off into awkward laughter as she gripped both my hands. I felt a change within the host geek's body, as if some new weapon to battle Project Faustus had been awakened from deep within...