Chapter 61

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Your turn, Dvorak.

Dvorak says, "I wanted tonight to be about the issues, not personal attacks. I wanted to talk about how my Xerman software integrates into a 3D printing technology that creates living tissue on demand. I wanted to explain how it basically clones a body part with 99.99 percent accuracy in less than a week. I wanted to dive into the profound applications for the medical field, not only for organ transplants and life expectancy, but also for society at large. It wouldn't matter if the mind or the body of a person died or became injured. Both could be recreated with my technology. I only need the proper investment to bring it to scale."

"It sounds like you've discovered the Fountain of Youth," Sloggins says, playing the part of infomercial host.

"It's better than the Fountain of Youth. Unlike that myth, my full suite of Xerman technology actually exists," Dvorak says. He looks directly at the cameras near the edge of the stage. "Simply put, Xerman offers eternal life. Not only does it offer more than the supernatural, it makes every superstition irrelevant. There's no need to talk to the afterlife if no one dies. Religion, with all it has to say about life after death and the requirements to get there, goes into the dustbin of history where it belongs. Even war will become obsolete if armies can heal the wounded at the push of a button. We'll be forced to discuss, not dismember.

"Picture a world where we're not divided by the imaginary lines we draw for ourselves in the name of survival or a god. We can build a paradise with all the resources we're saving with this technology. But we can't if we hold on to the superstitions that keep us in the past. Some people with vested financial interests, like Zandra and other religious institutions, will find those hard to let go. They should remember, just as everyone in this audience should, that I can offer heaven on Earth at the push of a button. What better can they offer? Nothing.

"As a matter of fact, that's my slogan for the Xerman technology. Heaven on Earth at the push of a button."

Caveat emptor, as they say. Buyer beware. If it's too good to be true, it probably is.

"Do you have any proof?" Sloggins says.

Dvorak asks for assistance in getting image of two fingers projected onto the upstage screen. One is attached to a hand. The other is severed.

Those look familiar.

"On the left is a volunteer's finger. On the right is an identical finger created with Xerman technology. They're biologically indistinguishable, right down to the finger prints," Dvorak says as a slide comparing the prints replaces the image of the fingers. "Of course, fingers are only the beginning. I'm a kidney transplant recipient. I was lucky. Thousands die in this country and many more around the world waiting for a transplant that never happens. With Xerman, the wait is over."

He pauses to let the audience clap.

So many slogans. How long did you work on those, Dvorak?

"For as much as I wanted to talk about those things tonight, Zandra decided to make this personal. I was the perfect gentleman up until now, but I can't let an attack that egregious go unanswered," Dvorak says.

"Three minutes left," Sloggins says.

"I'll only need two," Dvorak says and holds up his index and middle fingers. "Think for a moment, ladies and gentlemen, why someone becomes a psychic. I say becomes because those inherent gifts are nonsense. This is a business decision, a career move, and as such I can only suppose Zandra got into the psychic game to make money. If she stuck only to entertaining her clients for cash, then that would be fine, but she's made claims that go far beyond the boundaries of amusement. The timing of the opening of Sneak Peek, where she bilks the gullible and desperate, begs another question, too.

"What I mean is there's a reason she's pulling such a big lie over on this town. What's that saying again? Ah, I remember now. If you're going to lie, make it big. That's the one. Coined by a Nazi, I think, but true nonetheless, and used as cover for an equally malevolent reason as our Zandra.

"I want you to consider, ladies and gentlemen, that the moment Zandra burst onto the scene as a psychic was also the moment she covered up something terrible, pulling one of the biggest cons in the history of cons. Occam's Razor states that all things being equal, the simplest answer is the correct one. Ask yourselves which of these two possibilities is simpler. Did Zandra receive a psychic impression out of the blue identifying Soma Falls as the location of her missing husband's tragically deceased body, or was she the one to put him there in the first place?"

How dare you suggest a thing like that, you son of a bitch.

"That's a serious allegation. Are you sure you want to put that out there?" Sloggins says.

"That's for the legal system to sort out. I'm only explaining what's logical per Occam's Razor. It's more likely she covered up a murder by claiming these psychic powers led her to his body. Then she used that reputation to make an obscene amount of money. That the world fell for her act only proves the urgent need for tech like Xerman to free us from the stranglehold of superstition," Dvorak says.

Zandra tries to come up with a response, but she chokes on her words. She's enraged, but to the audience she must appear flabbergasted, unable to speak. She hacks into her sleeve to cover herself.

How dare you, Dvorak. How dare you. There's nothing left of me to take. How dare you.

"With that, ladies and gentlemen, we're ready for the intermission. Feel free to stand up and stretch while our participants retreat to their green rooms," Sloggins says.

How dare you.

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