The Giftgiver sighed and stretched and let the room around him loose definition and fade into the greyness that was it’s natural state. His own form shifted too and became the neutral grey-skinned humanoid that he had been when he had first been activated, an uncountable time ago. He had worn so many forms since then, to fit the conceptions of his clients: a number of different shapes that would be uncountable for a human mind. But he wasn’t really human and the computational resources at the fringe of his consciousness brought back the precise number.
One billion four hundred million, twelve thousand and thirty six. About halfway through the list of clients. About halfway through his task. His life.
The furniture that had a moment ago decked the room to look like an English Headmaster’s office vanished and there was only him, the Door and the Window. They were the only constants here, the rest shifted to make the client as comfortable as possible, just as the Giftgiver’s form shifted to become the male person the client trusted most. It had been determined by his Makers that males were the dominant gender on this planet and to give him a stable sense of personality, they had made him male. If they had endured the number of interviews with feminists, neo-pagans, lesbians and especially neo-pagan, lesbian feminists that he had they might have given him the ability to appear as female. Or at least someone to help him.
But he was on his own and that was that.
He went over to the window and looked up (down part of him kept saying) at the Earth. Full and lovely it hung, apparently unchanging in the black sky of the Moon. Even the clouds were frozen in place. Actually, they were moving but so slowly that mortal eyes could not detect them. Time was running at different paces here and on Earth, thanks to his Makers’ will. By the time he had completed his task, by the time he had spoken to every person on Earth of an age to be able to understand his words, a whole day would have passed. By the time he had offered each person living on Earth a wish twenty four hours would have passed. It would be much longer than that for him of course, even at an average of five minutes per person. That average was what defined his life-span, since his Makers would not let him continue to be past the end of his function.
Some took longer than the average, some shorter. Some came in a told him exactly what they wanted. (Or told him to take his wish and stuff it in some unlikely orifice, they weren’t going to be tricked by Satan, the Illuminati or Whoever....) Some argued with him for hours when he wouldn’t give them what they wanted. No harm to others. That was the rule his Makers’ had burned into him and he could not disobey. Do what you like with your own life but don’t fuck up the lives of those around you.
It didn’t matter to the Giftgiver how sure you were that the land over the hill really belonged to you. He didn’t get involved in the complexities of human law, politics and war. And it didn’t matter how convinced you were that someone deserved punishment: he wouldn’t kill, cripple or change people from the way they were if they didn’t want to be killed, crippled or changed.
The last client had stalked from the room when he could get no revenge on the priests who had raped him for four years when he was a boy. He refused all other Gifts and slammed the door as he left.
Still, the Giftgiver knew that there had been some wise wishes made. The Earth’s eco-sphere had been repaired early on in his session and mankind had been enriched by enough gifts of new technology to make the age that would dawn when the next day finally came a Golden one. (But not, no matter how many times they asked, the secret of rewriting reality that his Makers knew. They want to give humanity a step up, not pull them all the way to the top.)
For now, the Earth was all that existed down there. Humanity only existed in a state of potential, masses of information scanned into the machinery here on the Moon. Each one was brought into reality here in this room for an interview and then returned to storage, to awake in the tomorrow the Giftgiver would never see.
Ah, well. No need for sentiment and a lot left for him to do.
He called out to the air and over the next three seconds his body changed again. He was still working his way through the British and was un-surprised as his undifferentiated body grew a bushy, black beard and became encased in tweeds. The room shifted too and became a duplicate of a solicitor’s office somewhere in Wales.
There was a tentative tap at the Door.
“Come in!” He stood at the window looking at the Earth as the door opened. When he turned back there was a woman standing beside it in a summer dress with her mouth hanging open. There was a desk with chairs either side. There was a tray of tea-things. Seventy-three percent of British Clients wanted tea while they had their interview. It was well that his bladder was purely virtual.
The woman continued to gape at him.
“Please sit down, Miss Thomas. Would you care for some tea?” His accent was Welsh too. He gave a smile and pointed her towards the chair as he readied the tea things.
“Uuuhhh. Hugh? Uhhh. Mr. Jenkins?”
“No. I am the Giftgiver. I am wearing this form to make you more comfortable. It seems that of all the men in the world, this Mr Jenkins was the one you trusted the most and so this was chosen. I hope... I can change my form if this one is upsetting to you?”
“No, no. That will be fine. Hugh Jenkins was my father’s lawyer. He was very helpful after my father died....”
“And I hope you’ll find me as helpful as he was. Milk, one sugar, isn’t it? There we go.”
He took a cup of tea for himself. He had come to enjoy it. He hoped that when he got around to the French, he’d enjoy coffee and cigarettes and brandy as much.
“You understand, I hope, the terms of the offer? My Makers put it into the minds of everyone on Earth before they left but some people have some questions.....”
“I.... One wish, they said. As payment for something....”
“My Makers were trapped on Earth for a while and were given aid by some humans. They, the humans that is, were offered a reward and they took this. One wish for each person on Earth, anything my Makers’ abilities could grant them as long as it did not harm anyone else. My Makers have powers that you would consider god-like and so they made me to carry out their benefaction to humans.”
“There are some wishes already granted which will affect you, the chief of which is that everyone on Earth can have a new body, built to their own specifications. I take it you have already seen our Bodymaker?”
“Yes. It.... made this for me.” She looked down at herself. “Do you like it?”
“As long as you like it.... Now, have you thought out what your wish will be?”
She was silent for some time. And then she said:
“Is dead. I cannot undo that. I can, I have, made duplicates of dead people, genetic twins of them. But I am compelled by my Makers’ commands to ensure that these twins are born as infants and grow up and are nurtured in the normal way. I could implant in your womb an embryo that would grow to be your father’s twin. But it would not be your father but a separate person with his genes.”
“No,” she said. “It was him I loved, not his genes. If he is to live on in my children, it will be in the normal way.”
He nodded and waited. When she said no more he put down his tea and said:
“I think you already know what you want. Please let me assure you, I am quite unshockable. I am not truly a human being and I have no desire to judge you or any of my clients. Simply say what you want.”
“I want....I want to be owned.”
There was a pause and then he said:
“I’m not sure I know what you mean. I am forbidden to take any action that will cause harm to any human being and the institution of slavery is a crime, at least in name if not in fact, throughout the world....”
“But it does happen.”
“Yes. But for you to be owned, legally and fully, I would have to create a place on your planet where slavery was legal. And this I am not able to do. It would hurt too many people.”
“I don’t want to hurt anyone. Except maybe.... myself.”
“I.... I have a fantasy. A sexual fantasy. I am a slave, owned and absolutely controlled by my owner. My owner is usually a man but sometimes a woman. I am his toy, his plaything....”
“These fantasies are not uncommon. I have matched up several people with so-called ‘owners’ who have compatible desires....”
“No. That’s not it. Not the core of the fantasy.”
“The reason I am so completely owned is that I have no will of my own. I have been altered somehow (sometimes it’s a brain operation, sometimes a drug or a magic spell) and I have no ability to disobey. I must obey any command my master gives me. And I do. I cannot be freed from this slavery even by my master’s death. If he were to die I would seek out someone else and offer myself to them until I found someone who said: ‘I am your Master and Owner.’ ”
“And in these fantasies, are you happy?”
“Sometimes. If my owner tells me to be a happy slave, to enjoy belonging to him. And sometimes he does not care even that much.”
“And this is what you want?”
“I.... Even sitting here, just telling you this.... I have wetness running down my thighs..... It is who I need to be.....”
“And you want it to be irreversible? You want there to be no way out? This is a gift I am very reluctant to give.”
“It hurts no-one but me.”
“It might hurt your master and owner. Power corrupts.....”
“Then find me someone who will not be corrupted by this even if that means giving me to the vilest wretch on Earth who can fall no further. That is my Wish! Find me the one who will give me what I need! Make me into the sexual slave of the one best suited to be my Master! Give me a life of being owned, controlled and without any will except to obey!”
“Very well. Your wish is granted. Leave now. And close the door on the way out.”
She opened her mouth as if to speak but could not. She turned and left and the room faded behind her.
The Giftgiver found his Welsh lawyer’s form lingering as he turned to the Window. A smile lingered in the beard.
Of course there was no human anywhere who would not be corrupted by such a gift. It would require inhuman control to behave in way that would use the girl’s body and soul and not destroy her. He had to give her to the person he trusted most in the world.....
And that person was himself. Of course.
When the dawn came, he would not have to dissolve away after all. He would have a continuing function, fulfilling her wish and being her perfect Master. He would go on doing it for the rest of her life..... And with his abilities that could be a very long time.....
And who knows, there might even be others with the same desire......
Only one and a half billion people to go!