I have scrolled the memo report twice and shall now seal it with my thumbprint. I don't seriously expect that anyone else will ever read this memo or listen to this audio record, and if all goes well, I shall destroy both before the morning. So why bother recording it? Perhaps to make it clearer in my own mind.
The items before me on the desk can then be replaced in the Logo Books time capsule and no one will be the wiser. I am glad to be able to look through them before their official unveiling when Logo opens it. Perhaps it will save us all from grief in the future.
My motives for pursuing this course are personal. I have always prided myself on my highly developed moral and lawful sense and have attempted to be worthy of the high position I hold, but my current circumstances are unique. I am, at present, the last of my family, and unless Castle, Pia C and I are judged fit to produce a child, there will never be more after myself.
I guess I'm like an animal, striking out to protect my young, though they aren't even born yet. I hope I can be forgiven for doing something so out of my character.
Castle, Pia C has a gene chart as clear as triple-filtered water. Dominants, recessives: all are clear and fine. My own gene chart is equally satisfactory, except for a single doubtful entry.
The subject of that entry is Cool, Sam. Dead long ago, and so nearly beyond the reach of the Genetic Council. Cool, Sam. Or, as the archaic form has it Sam Cool. And about Sam Cool, there is an undoubted whiff of peculiarity. It is fortunate that I am in charge of opening this time capsule.
Cool is a decidedly uncommon name; (naturally I am aware that 'Sam Cool' is the old fashioned way of rendering the name we would know today as 'Cool, Sam') one which occurs in my family from time to time, passed down by my distant ancestor, Cool, Robert. I accessed the statistics of Sam Cool and discovered a surprising fact; a fact which made me all the more anxious for my family's future. About Sam Cool, there was undoubtedly a stain of celebrity, something firmly disapproved by the Genetic Council.
Sam Cool was a hero. And there lies possible disaster for my hopes.
I decided to open the time capsule myself, secretly, and examine what it contained. In it, I found the book Miracle Reef: The Sam Cool Story. If all is well, I vowed to restore the item to the capsule.
If not - then I knew I would be forced to take further measures.
Sam Cool was a hero, yes, but a hero by circumstance, not by choice. Surely the Genetic Council cannot frown on that. Yet there remains the datadisc stored with the copy of that book... and, in the light of the information I learned when I accessed the records of Sam Cool this may have ominous contents.
And I shall now begin to read the words put down by my forbear, Sam Cool during the last days of the year 2010.
HARDING, JOHANN B (DECEMBER 2210)
So now I'm a hero. An icon for the new age.
Me, I'm all bad, rotten to the pips. Must be, because I don't feel a bit sorry for what I've done. Maybe that'll come later, when I'm old and arthritic like my great granny.
Maybe I'll get religion, or find a conscience or something.
Maybe I'll leave my fortune to a charity in aid of Serbian Sculptors or Disused Dogs or Prayers for Prostitutes or something.
Pigs might fly.
So I'm a modern icon. I'm also a liar, but who cares? I've always been a liar, all my life. I find it pays. I'm such a good liar no one ever realizes I'm not telling the strict truth. I'm a genius, too, with a photographic memory, but so far I've made damned sure nobody ever found that out either. Just as well.
Look, what I've done is made me a lot of money. It's made me a popular modern icon etc. A person on a pedestal for other kids to admire. Dynamism without Drugs, Adventure for Adrenaline - God, how they do crap on. But one thing isn't crap. We do need heroes. And why shouldn't I be the one on top of the pedestal instead of one of the poor creeps craning their necks at the bottom?
Miracle Reef's made a lot of other people a lot of money, too, and there's even talk of a mini-series, with me playing myself, of course. (They'll have to hurry, or else I'll be too old for the role and they'll have to get some bloody little snot nose that probably doesn't even look like me.)
Logo Books was a bit surprised at how well the book actually did. They printed four thousand, but then had to do a quick reprint of eighty thousand more for their display at the Darling Harbor Book Fair. News agents across the country are making a killing.
Not to speak of Treasure Chest Chocolates and Coolie Surfboots and CoolZinc; they've made pots of money out of me too. Glory, there's even a new ice cream out! They call it the Sam Cool, and it's a blue/green frosty-top with red cherry buttons up the front. God knows how that's meant to represent me, but I eat them anyway and pretend to be addicted. I find it pays to uphold the image, although a fat share in the bloody sales royalties would have been more lucrative.
The chat shows have done OK, too; I've hoisted their ratings sky high. Not because of what I've done, but because of what I represent.
Active youth. A miracle on the hoof.
And as for the popular mags! Wow! If I see one more headline saying Sam Plays it Cool, I'll bloody well puke.
Or I would if it wasn't raking in more money for yours truly. Just now, I'm bigger than Mister Maiden. Bigger than the Iceman ever was. Bigger than the Olympic teen darlings. (And doesn't that make 'em spitting mad! They're not used to playing second fiddle to an author, especially one that's about their own age! Geez, that I should live to see a book overtaking the Great God Sport!) But everyone else's happy, everyone's laughing all the way to the credit union, just because of what I did. Even the Japanese love me - all except Osaki, who was set to marry The Rabbit and isn't now.
OK, let's be honest here. (Honesty is a luxury I don't often indulge in.) I gave the Wrinkly Sprinklies a few more gray hairs.
OK, so my sib The Rabbit lost a finger or so and nearly went bust. I paid him back, didn't I? Of course I did. You probably saw the headlines:
Cool Sam Melts Creditors' Hearts.
On second thought, considering what I'm going to do with this confession when I've finished it, you probably didn't see the headlines. But go to the library and look 'em up in the microfiche. If you still have libraries. If you still have microfiches. If you can still read.
On third thought, I'll enclose the reports with the book. Read (if you can) and weep.
So. Why should I feel guilty? Everyone had a fine old time and now everyone's a whole lot richer because of what I've done. Including me. Especially me. The only thing I regret at all is what I had to do to Amanda May and Alex and Miracle Reef.
So, why am I talking on like this? I'll tell you why. Because I'm normal.
I'm a normal person who's done something clever and made a killing, and I want to tell someone.
I want to boast.
And that puts me in a complicated position. I want the world to know about my brilliant shakedown, but not yet. Not this year. See, if I tell anyone at all, I can kiss my mini-series goodbye, and with it, my chance to break into television as more than a flash in the pan personality. I might not end up in jail - quite - but you can just bet I'd be sued or fined to the nth degree. And most people would say I'd deserve it.
So, being the clever sod I am, I'm indulging myself in the safest possible way. Bank vaults can't whisper in the wind and by the time this comes to light, I'll either be one hundred and seventeen years old or dead. Maybe they'll dig me up and stick my bones in a museum, but I won't care.
Look, I always thought that if the worst happened, if I got caught, I could just go ahead and write another book in jail; call it something like this; The Real Story of Sam Cool, or Sam Cool Comes Clean. Or even Shakedown. And earn another fortune, bigger than the first, because bad pays better than good. But there'd be heaps of hassle before the fortune, so I've decided to lie low and keep my halo and pedestal intact. So I'm writing it this way. I won't make any publicity or profit out of it myself, but maybe my great grandkids will. If I have any. I'm writing this book Shakedown and when I've finished, I'll lock the disk in anti-magnetic film and store it in a bank vault with instructions to release it in a hundred years. Or no - I've got an even better idea!
Jason Long at Logo Books wants me to seal a first edition copy of Miracle Reef; The Sam Cool Story in that two century time capsule they're putting in at the new Logo Head Office. So - how's this for a top scenario?
1. Sam Cool does the pretty in public.
2. But, by a little sleight of hand, Sam Cool slips in a couple of other little packages as well. Right into the capsule, along with Miracle Reef.
3. Sam Cool makes a heart-stirring speech, screws the capsule up tight, and pops it into the belly of Mother Earth for the next two centuries.
4. A long, looooong pregnancy ensues with a wild child at the end.
I like it! I like it!
Of course, it'll be a bit of a rush to be ready in time, but why not? I've got a few hours to spare over the coming weeks and this nifty little pocket 'putor. So here goes nothing! Immortality, here I come.
"I never set out to be a hero. I mean, who does? I've never thought of myself as brave or clever or anything like that " Miracle Reef: The Sam Cool Story (Logo Books, July, 2010).
I was born in 1993, and I had my first adventure when I was three years old.
I wrote my first book when I was seven and got my first rejection when I was nine.
I stole my first trail bike when I was eleven and won my first photo competition when I was fourteen. Then they took the prize off me because they found out I'd lied about my race. (It was only open to people of Pacific Island descent.)
I s'pose you could say that tells you all you really need to know about me. The pop psychs would say so, if they knew. But maybe it doesn't help you any. After all, you're right off there in posterity, aren't you? Maybe you're reading this on the Moon. Or maybe you're burrowed down in the guts of the earth to escape the Greenhouse Effect. Or maybe everyone lies their heads off in your day. (They do it in my day, too, especially politicians, but we all pretend we don't.)
Anyway, you mightn't understand the way pop psychologists think in the year 2010, so I'll explain it for you in words of three syllables and fewer.
They forgive anything, anything as long as you can point a finger at your parents or society and blame them for your problems. The only thing is - the law doesn't always go along with them on the forgiveness train. If it did, I could confess this from the rooftops.
Right. The truth now. I really am a product of my parents.
DenDen (Mr. Dennis Cool) and Alleypuss (Ms. Alison Cool). Oops! Since the Language Act on May, 2009, we're not supposed to use terms like Mr, or Miss or Mrs or even Ms! We're meant to use just M. So, let's start that bit again...
My parents, M Dennis Cool (DenDen) and M Alison Cool (Alleypuss), are ordinary people, actually pretty dull. They think of me as a real cuckoo in the nest. Even now. Oh yeah, I'm a bloody useful cuckoo, but they really prefer The Rabbit. That's my sib Robert, named after Grand Cool, a pompous old git if ever there was one. You might say The Rabbit is the immediate cause of all my problems. Him and my parents' favoritism.
The Rabbit was born in 1985, a neat fifteen years before the end of the good ol' twentieth century. The Rabbit always does things neatly. He's got blue eyes and hair that only needs combing once a day and washing once a week (only The Rabbit washes it every day).
He's tall enough to see eye to eye with most men and rest his chin on the heads of most women.
He's handsome enough for a second look but not for a third.
He's nice enough to have lots of casual friends but no best mate.
He's utterly puke-making as an elder sib.
The Rabbit's road to righteousness was paved with golden milestones.
Gold star in kindergarten, Class Captain in primary school, Prefect in High School.
Rotary Club Scholarship, exchange student to Japan, Wales Award in Scouting.
Studied Social Services at University, gained Googol Award in Math, Shakespeare Award in English - Fry Award in Community Service, Emmanuel Award in Music; God, you name it, The Rabbit got it. Everything except laid. And nicked.
Later, he made his modest little pile in electronics. He got a girl called Sheridan who liked sailing, then he bought a boat called Amanda May.
He did his community bit for video censorship and got dumped by Sheridan, because she didn't believe in censorship. After six months, he got engaged to a politically correct person called Kimura Osaki. They would have been married by now and well on the way to two point three kids if it weren't for me. And does The Rabbit thank me for his deliverance from suburbia?
In a word - no. He hasn't spoken to me since February, except in public.
Now by the time I came along, Alleypuss and DenDen were resigned to having just The Rabbit in their burrow. Or maybe they actually intended to have just The Rabbit in their burrow. After all, why break a perfect record? Quit when you're ahead, that's the Wrinkly Sprinklies' motto. And mine. But anyway, Alleypuss got pregnant with me. In the old days, they'd have blamed me and my ways on Alleypuss's being scared by a passing surfer, but I'm inclined to blame me and my ways on the persisting genes of good ol' Grandie Finnigan. Thank ye gods of wave and wind for Grandie Finnigan!
I expect if they had meant to have another kid, they would've gone and ordered a daughter, a pretty little miss, sort of female version of The Rabbit. They could have called her 'The Bunny' for short. God! What a deliverance! Instead of a li'l ol' Bunny, they got me, Sam Cool. No Bunny about me, so they named me after Grandie Samuel Finnigan, the only relative I ever like to admit to.
Needless to say, their only interest in Grandie Sam Finnigan was what he had in his Visa Card, and not long after I arrived he blew the lot on an Italian dancer named Carlotta Carlo and died on the job.
Way to go, Grandie Finnigan! (Pun!)
Bad luck, Wrinkly Sprinklies.
In fact, the Wrinkly Sprinklies didn't survive me. Not as a unit. By the time I was six or seven they'd given up on me and on one another, and when they split I remember them fighting it out on who was to get me as a semi-permanent boarder. Alleypuss drew the short straw. So, mostly I live with Alleypuss here at Mangrove, and go to spend a few days with DenDen down in Brizzie now and then when I feel like a change.
Alleypuss and DenDen don't communicate except by mail or by kid. Sometimes this comes in handy. Very handy. I pass on most messages verbatim. I find it pays.
Me, I don't look anything like The Rabbit. No white tail, for a start. (Joke!)
I've got ragged-looking straw-colored hair and freckles and those fade-away eyebrows surfies often have. Good eyes; dark and direct and honest-looking, and a chin with a little cleft in it. (The Rabbit would kill to have my chin. His own is a Queen Victoria special.) Broad shoulders, a mole on my cheek and a funny thumb. An anchor-shaped scar on my wrist. (My own early attempt at tattooing. Alleypuss was really pissed off.) That's me. That's Sam Cool.
Until partway through the Shakedown, I also had my change-hue Sam Rules cap. It was a real top grade, made of that cloth that changes color with the temperature or when it gets wet. I used to wear it all the time, except in the water or in bed. Alleypuss hated it and so did The Rabbit, but I wasn't about to leave it off to please them. I'd got it off a designer in exchange for some publicity pics I'd taken for his portfolio.
Since Miracle Reef was released, I've had Yosemite Joe from HairAttack! after me with a sponsorship form in one hand and a pair of scissors in the other, but I won't let him have his way with me. See, I don't want to look punk or pooffie, and Yosemite Joe manages to look both. He's a fraud as well. God, Joe was born in Balmain and the nearest he's ever been to the old U.S. of A. is watching Redwood on TV. I reckon he's a poof, too, but that's his business. No thanks, Joe, I'll leave my hair au natural until I get a better offer. It looks good with my silver skull ear stud.
Besides which, it's sort-of my trademark. Surfin' Sam Cool - that's me. My mates wouldn't recognize me without my die-away eyebrows, my skull, my surfie mane and Sam Rules. They didn't recognize me without my die-away eyebrows, my skull, my surfie mane and Sam Rules in fact!
Enough about me at seventeen. Which I am, now. Except - you couldn't call me handsome. Not like The Rabbit. The best anyone's managed to come up with is 'natural androgynous charm', which is a pretty two-edged sword. I'm pretty skinny, but my muscles are bigger than The Rabbit's and I'm a centimeter taller, as well. The blokes are used to me, but the girls give me the old push off. Who cares? I don't need 'em.
As I said, I was three when I had my first adventure. I don't remember it, but it seems I went mountaineering up a slag heap at the tin mine where Grandie Finnigan used to work. The bloke who caught me called me a bloody, silly, little sod, but I bet he thought I was a pretty cool kid for three. He was right.
When I was seven I wrote a big long story about that adventure, but I brushed it up a bit with me going right down the mine and coming out in Victorian times. It was a bloody good story, but Alleypuss didn't bother to read it. She said my spelling "stank" and wrote a rude letter to the school.
I learned to spell properly off my Year Four teacher and sent a story off to a magazine when I was nine and they sent it back with a letter crapping on about how good it was for my age.
I hadn't told them how old I was, but I found out later the bloody Rabbit had written it on the back of the envelope I'd given him to post. (Alleypuss and DenDen were both too mean to let me have any stamps to send it off but the old Rabbit always was a soft touch. Guilt, I reckon, because of him being the blue-eyed boy.)
I punched The Rabbit out for that, and I used the magazine's crappy letter for toilet paper. Oh, and later on I got hold of one of The Rabbit's essays and changed his name to The Rabbit on the top. That made the school newspaper - The Robert Rabbits On, the only decent headline he ever got at school.
I stole the trail bike a couple of years later and then wrote that episode up anonymously for the school paper, but they didn't believe me and wouldn't print it. (See, I'd put the bike back where I got it, none the worse, and even fixed up the automatic choke as rent for the bike. It was a bit sticky but it fired like a dream when I'd finished with it. I really wished I could've got the credit for that. I reckon the owner owed me.)
I stole a few more bikes then got sick of it, so I took up photography and climbing the next year, and surfing and kayaking the year after that. I taught myself to write left-handed at the same time, just for fun. I taught myself to forge the Wrinkly Sprinkly writing too. I find it pays.
I reckoned all that made me a well-rounded person, but The Rabbit and the Wrinkly Sprinklies didn't agree. They kept crapping on and on and on (separately, of course, which meant I got a double dose) about what a waste of time and money it all was (except the left-handedness, which they never knew about) and bitching whenever I asked any of them to drive me to the climbing club or the sea. (The bus services around here are lousy, and there aren't any trains at all.)
OK, I told them, I'll hitch if that's how you feel, but that didn't suit them either. What they really wanted was for me to stay at home and paint pictures or something. OK for The Rabbit to go off doing his public service stuff, but not for me to do my private service stuff.
God, I said to Alleypuss, what d'you reckon's going to happen to me if I hitch? Reckon I'll get kidnapped or murdered or something?
Mistake, because they went on and on and on again, trying to make me feel guilty. As if The Rabbit didn't need transport to all his bloody Scouting hikes and things! But as I said, that was different.
The Rabbit was God Almighty, I was no one.
In the end, I decided to sell a few photo articles to raise money for my own set of wheels. I reckoned I'd be old enough for a license by the time I'd saved enough. I always take my camera when I go anywhere, so I started looking through my photo files and geez, I had so many great pics I knew I had it made. I thought, I'll write a flamin' book and aim for some serious cash! So I did.
It didn't take me long to get my book together. I had all these pics already and I laid them out in order and wrote a linking text. I had pics of surfing, kayaking, swimming, climbing, sailing (with The Rabbit's little boat Amanda May) and a lot of scenery, and I strung them together in logical order with lots of little boxes of info on different subjects like Surfiespeak and things to watch out for and even a sort of glossary for each subject. I mean, half the people who read books don't know a paddle from a boom or a rappel from an alpenstock.
I wrote the book with the emphasis on having fun with a bit of a bow to the greenies and the screenies (I mean, I talked a lot about conservation and wearing sun screen and hats and not leaving rubbish around or scaring wildlife and that). I like to keep on their right side. I find it pays.
It was a bloody good book.
I typed the text up on the computer (not this nifty one - the big old one The Rabbit had) and then fixed up captions on sticky labels and put them on the back of the photos. It was great, just the sort of book I like myself. I called it Joe Quest's Adventure Book, and used 'Joe Quest' as a pen name.
I ran it by my mate Gaz, and he reckoned it was a sure-fire best seller too. Course, he would, since he featured in some of the photos. He even started banging on about how he was going to charge me modelling fees. Naturally, I told him to get off himself. I said I'd pay him when we did the sequel.
I sent Joe Quest's Adventure Book to Logo Publications. They kept it two months, and I was starting to get really hopeful. Then the publisher, Vicki Moran, sent it back with a rejection letter.
I thought that was a real snotty letter, so I rang up the Logo office and asked to speak to Vicki Moran. I got her secretary, and then had to sit there listening to some dumb music while she went looking for Moran and told her who was speaking. That is, I said I was Joe Quest, because that was the name I was using on the book. I thought it sounded better than my real one - then.
'Why didn't you take my book?' I asked when she finally got round to me.
'What book is this?' asked the Moran.
'Look,' I said, 'this is Joe Quest speaking, right? I mean my book Joe Quest's Adventure Book. How many other bloody books am I supposed to have sent you?'
'Just a moment while I check my file,' said the Moran, and I could hear keys tapping. 'Ah yes, well, we enjoyed your book very much, Joe.'
'So you said,' I said. 'So why didn't you publish it?'
The Moran said something about lack of market potential.
'Geez, Vicki,' I said, 'you don't know anything. My mate Gaz, he read that book right through and it's the first book he's read since he left school.'
The Moran quacked on, and finally I hung up. What it boiled down to was this: I wasn't important enough to have a book published.
If I'd been one of the Olympic teen darlings, or a telly star or something, then my book would have been published, even if it hadn't been bloody good. Ticks you off , doesn't it? Sort of, like, you've gotta be famous to get famous. Like getting bank loans. DenDen always reckons it's only the people who don't need one that can get one.
I didn't give up right then. Determination is Sam Cool's middle name. No, I offered Joe Quest's Adventure Book to five other publishing companies. Only this time I didn't sit round sweating it out while they made up their minds; I photocopied it four times and made re-prints of all the photos.
Might just as well not have bothered. The book came back within three months from all of them. One crowd - Wave Press, sent it back within a week. Bet they didn't even read it. And they all came up with this same old crap about market potential.
I didn't want to waste all the work I'd done, so I sent bits of the book off to magazines, offering it as a serial, but none of them were interested either. But I noticed in the same month they rejected mine, one magazine ran an article about an adventure camp for asthmatics and another one had one of the Olympic teen darlings yapping on about surfing - you could see he didn't know a hang ten from anything. To cap it all, the chat shows were all falling over themselves to interview this stupid bloke that got himself stranded in the south west wilderness down in Tassie. I mean, how mad can you get?
This guy goes off without a proper map, without checking the weather report, without a bloody clue. All these people have to go looking for him and bingo! They find him and next thing; he's all over the telly.
'I'm going to write a book about my experiences,' said this creep, staring earnestly at the camera. 'I want everyone out there to take warning from my ordeal.'
'Stupid git,' I said to the resident Wrinkly Sprinkly.
'A very self-reliant person,' said Alleypuss admiringly. 'Didn't panic at all.'
'Wouldn't have the sense,' I said. 'What's he use for brains? Jelly beans?'
'Made a shelter...' burbled on Alleypuss.
'Give it a rest!' I said. 'If he'd used a gram of sense he wouldn't have been stuck there in the first place. God, he wouldn't have been there in the first place. The dimzoo had no right going off and getting lost like that.'
'Granted,' said Alleypuss, 'but you must admit he's facing up to the consequences of his own actions.'
I was just about to say; Great, Alleypuss. But I bet you wouldn't say that if I got lost; when I had the idea.
Or I should say THE IDEA, because it was a bit like that. See, it wasn't just an idea that made me into a modern icon and stuck me up here on my pedestal, it was the idea. The idea that led to my monster shakedown and this confession.
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