“It is physically impossible to pull a 3D object out of one’s subconscious for use in spacetime as we know it. So what you will need to do is become scientists who create Proxy. Obviously if you are the creators of it, you’ll know all of the ingredients and the methods for cooking it.” Mr Spoon says, drinking his tea.
“Scientists? What about our lives? We want to be painters!” Rosie says annoyed.
“Well, yes, essentially you are painters. But in the future you will be scientists. After your fine arts degrees, you both must enrol in a Bachelor of Science and then in a Bachelor of Nanotechnology at the University of Melbourne.” Mr Spoon says.
“Are you serious? We have to change the course of our whole lives just to make sure you don’t have dementia?” I am angry.
“No Baxter. You must sleep for twenty days, and in that time save the whole human race from extinguishing itself.” Mr Spoon is quite stern.
“Twenty days? That’s all?” I ask.
“Yes. Twenty days will propel you forward twenty years. Do the math.” Mr Spoon says.
“I can’t. I’m shit at maths.” I say.
“Sixty minutes of Gyliptin Sleep will propel you forward a day. One hundred and twenty minutes of Gyliptin Sleep will propel you forward two days. Three hours of Gyliptin Sleep will propel you forward three days. And so on and so on. Does that make sense? It’s a five minutes per every two days ratio.” Mr Spoon explains though I still don’t understand.
“How can I sleep for twenty days without waking up? Or eating or going to the toilet?” I ask.
“The Gyliptin also sedates you. We will feed you through tubes and allow you to go to the bathroom with medical bags that will be inserted into your body using tubes.”
“This sounds a bit like the Matrix and Avatar rolled into one.” I say.
“Well, modern films tend to get their ideas from what-if scenarios. This is one of those what-if scenarios.” Mr Spoon says.
“What if I get my period in that time? What happens then?” Rosie asks, and surprisingly Mr Spoon isn’t put off.
“My nurse will administer a contraceptive into your drip Rosie to ensure you do not ovulate during the twenty days that you are in Gyliptin Sleep. When you wake up the contraceptive will stop and you will have your period as per normal.” Mr Spoon explains.
“Oh ok. That’s pretty straight forward. And who’s going to pay for our degrees? My parents can’t afford any more degrees. They can barely afford this one.” Rosie says biting her nails.
“I will fund your two extra degrees. I will write formal letters addressed to your parents, outlining the scholarships you have both been awarded for exemplary grades. Your grades can be as poorly as you wish them to be. I will adjust anything afterward. I have a few friends on the education board.” Mr Spoon winks.
“You’ll pay for four degrees, and give us two thousand dollars each just to become scientists in our dreams and memorise Proxy formulas?” I ask.
“Exactly Mr Breckeridge. Exactly.” Mr Spoon smiles and this time his smile is different. It’s friendlier somehow. Warmer perhaps.
“What do you reckon Rose? Is it worth it? Do you wanna be a scientist? I mean your rents will be happy right? You’ve got a plan B then.” I say, thinking about what I’ll tell my own parents when I suddenly declare I want to keep painting as a hobby, and pursue a career in science instead.
“Are there contracts in case we don’t wake up?” Rosie asks cleverly.
“Yes sweetheart, there are. Would you like to see them?” Mr Spoon asks.
“Yes. Please.” Rosie answers. Mr Spoon yells out for Leonie and Leonie totters into Mr Spoon’s office ready to hear whatever he has to ask her.
“Bring in two contracts Leonie.” He says, turning sideways and putting his feet on the arm rest of his chair. He kicks off his shoes and chews on a Mintie. I help myself to another Mintie while Rosie is ripping her wrapper around and around in a square, an activity taught to us in Primary School. The object of the game is to rip the Mintie wrapper closely to the edge so that it forms a border of wrapping that implodes in on itself with each new spiral started, until one can pull the ends of this spiral outward, and the wrapper becomes a long snaking line. A bit like holding up a metre-length tape measure. Whoever has the longest Mintie wrapper wins and another Mintie is their prize. I kiss Rosie’s forehead for witnessing her delight in a game meant for ten year olds.
Leonie places the contracts in front of us and we read them. After an hour has passed and Mr Spoon has jumped down off his chair and disappeared to Gosh-knows-where, Leonie comes back in with two mugs of Milo and a plate of Tim Tams for us to scoff down.
“Would you like some sandwiches guys?” She asks.
“What kind are you offering?” Rosie asks.
“Well you can have the kid kind or you can have the gourmet kind. Alfalfa, salmon, hollandaise, turkey, ham, turmeric glaze. That sort of thing.” Leonie says.
“What’s the kid kind?” I ask, turning to page 56.
“Nutella, Vegemite or Peanut Butter.” She smiles.
“I’ll have two vegemite sandwiches.” I say.
“Can I please have roasted turkey, with alfalfa, and hollandaise?” Rosie asks.
“Sure can! Be right back!” Leonie disappears and we continue munching on Tim Tams whilst flicking through pages of the contract.
“This thing goes on forever. Ninety pages! Fucking hell!” Rosie says.
“I’m on fifty six. What’re you on?”
“Forty Nine.” Rosie groans.
“Just think of the money.” I say.
“What am I gonna tell mum and dad about where I’m gonna be for twenty days’ time? They’ll be like, umm our daughter has just disappeared.” Rosie asks me.
“Beats me. Maybe we can say we’re going to Europe?” I suggest.
“With what money? They know we’re broke.” Rosie scoffs. Mr Spoon walks back in in that moment.
“I can help out with that. Hypothetically speaking of course. I’ll procure false flight details for you both and false itineries. You can show them to your parents and friends and whoever else. Which country would you like to pretend to go to?” He smiles.
“Oooh. I want to pretend to go to Paris.” Rosie says.
“I’d rather go to Amsterdam.” I say.
“You can visit both in twenty days. Leonie?” Mr Spoon calls for his secretary. Leonie returns with two plates holding our sandwiches. She puts our plates down in front of us and looks at Mr Spoon.
“When these two have signed their contracts can you please procure false flight details and documents for a twenty day trip for two adults to Paris and then to Amsterdam?” Mr Spoon instructs.
“Yep. Sure can.” She says. “Is that all for now?”
“That’s all for now.” Mr Spoon says and she leaves again.
We eat our sandwiches while talking and reading through the rest of the contract. It is quite lengthy although contrary to my assumptions, created using very basic English, so thankfully it’s an easy read and I understand all of it.
“Mr Spoon. Why have you chosen us? Haven’t you had other students interested in this adventure?” Rosie asks, swallowing her last bit of sandwich and following it up with the remnants of her hot chocolate.
“I have Rosie but none of them were this excited or enthusiastic about helping me, and only half of them would contemplate further study. Some of them wouldn’t contemplate studying again at all, and despite the ad addressing young males, I had some men as old as forty coming into my office to see if they could be of use to me. Of course they could not be.”
“Why not?” Rosie asks.
“In twenty years’ time Rosie, they would be sixty. They have already had their careers by then. What forty year old man would be able to commence a science degree now, and then a nanotechnology degree after it? I figured it would be much easier for a younger person to learn new trains of thought as opposed to someone who has already been working for twenty years.”
“Heaps of people go back to uni when they’re older.” She says.
“Very true. Very true. However a younger brain will memorise a Proxy formula much better than an older brain will. Delving into subconscious memory takes effort.” Mr Spoon explains.
“You’re saying, the older we get the less we remember?” I ask.
“Precisely Baxter. Precisely.” I have hit the nail on the head. There’s a glint in Mr Spoon’s eyes.
“Mr Spoon, how much worse will you get in twenty days?” I ask, swallowing the last bit of my sandwich.
“Baxter, it has taken me thirty years to lose thirteen percent of my brain mass. This condition cannot be measured using maths however. I suspect in twenty days, it won’t be much.”
“I hope we memorise the cure for you then. I really do.” I say.
“Hypnosis will find it. Do not worry child.”
“Hypnosis?” I ask.
“Yes. Once you are both awake, my hypnotist Organza will put you into a deep trance and hand you a bit of paper. She will ask you to write down the method and the ingredients onto this bit of paper. She will ask you to wake up, and there the recipe will be.” Mr Spoon really has thought of everything.
“Why can’t you get your scientists to take the Gyliptin for twenty days?” Rosie asks.
“My lab team are very busy working with universities all around the world researching medication for human longevity. By 2030 there will be an injection available on the mass market that will see our natural life expectancy increased to one hundred. Thirty more years. What is it you young ones say? Hell yes? Well a big hell yes to that. I could do a lot with thirty more years.” Mr Spoon says.
“If we sign these contracts we will give you thirty more years Mr Spoon.” I say.
“Good boy. You are a good boy.” He winks at me.
We sign the contracts, pick up our canvas satchels, and leave Mr Spoon’s office. Rosie catches the tram with me and we go back to my place in Carlton. My parents are still at work.
I throw my bag down on the ground, and Rosie kicks off her black Docs, revealing the holes in her stockings she bought from Savers for a dollar not that long ago. I want to rip her stockings off her legs and lick the rose tattoos on her thighs, but something tells me we have a lot of talking to do.
“So this time next week, we’ll be in Paris.” She laughs.
“You know I love my sleep but twenty days of it? It’s fucking scary.” I say, handing her a glass of coke.
“I know. Asleep for twenty days. That’s crazy. Do you think he is crazy?” Rosie asks me, resting her feet in my lap as I sit down.
“Him? Crazy? What about us? We are going to be scientists just to stop his Lobadandy whatever from progressing.” I say.
“There’s more to it than that. Be fair on him. He is a genius.”
“Says the girl who told me he was a load of crap.”
“That was before I met him. I think he is a freak. He is an absolute freak.”
“We’re going to be freaks to by the sounds of it. Curing Lobadandy in 2046. We’re gonna be in newspapers and everything. It sounds like the people who are gonna cure cancer. It’s THAT big.”
“It does seem big, doesn’t it? It’s a huge deal. I think”
“I keep wondering. Is any of this true? But my gut tells me it’s all true. I have to go with it. I don’t know why. I just have to.”
“You know, I have that same feeling. It’s like we MUST do this. Do you think Leonie put something in our Milo?”
“Nah. I saw her sleep with the Gyliptin as well. She’s fine. It’s legit.”
“But dude, that was for like, five minutes. Twenty days is a bit different to five minutes.”
“Yeah, but she doesn’t look much older than us. Twenty-two maybe. If she believes Gyliptin works, then we have to believe it does too.”
“Mr Spoon says the proof is in the pudding. When we wake up, we will know if he’s right.”
“Whether we’ll be renowned scientists or not, you mean.” I say.
“Yeah. That.” She smiles.
“The hypnosis should be interesting.”
“Yeah. I’ve never been hypnotised before. Mum has and she reckons it works. Remember I was telling you last year? About her anxiety? How it took her anxiety away?”
“Yeah. I remember.”
“I do feel a bit sad but.”
“Cos I’m not gonna be a painter. I’ve always wanted to be a painter and now I’m going to save the human race instead.” Rosie fake cries like a silly sook.
“Do you want to entertain people in a gallery or save the world babe?”
“Meh. I’m eighteen. I’m too young to be this fucking philosophical. And I’m too sober. Give me some pot and I might be able to answer your questions.”
“Want some? I’ve got some. We can sit in the yard.” I say.
“Yeah. Alright. But don’t take me home until I’m straight.”
“Why do you have to go home? Sleep over.”
“Ah, I could, couldn’t I? What’s tomorrow? Saturday? Yeah. Alright. Hit me up!” Rosie giggles, tickles me and kisses my mouth hard.