Late to the Party


Laston Kirkland
(Autumn, 2013)

First, the base.

Lana carefully applied the cream to her face, neck and arms. She'd be wearing long pants, so nothing for her legs today.

The base is always where you start. Coats over the pores so it can wick any moisture and oils away from the powder. It also gives it a good connective medium. Default is always white. Makes it easy to tell if you miss a spot. It goes clear when you tap the control to it.

"Honey! where's my other jumpsuit?" Jack yelled from the other room.

Lana sighed. Some things never change. "You threw it at the cleaner a week ago. It's clean and hung in the back, exactly where it’s supposed to be!"

"Ahh, found it!" Lana could hear him struggling into it. "How's the time?"

"We are doing fine."

The eyelids need a different applicator, so do the lips.

Lana applied cream from the same container to the eyelids very carefully. She hated when she got too much in her eyes. Harmless, but it made her vision watery, and that always annoyed her. Sometimes, when she was in a hurry, she just used her finger. Same for the lips. Whenever she got some in her mouth it always coated and dried out her tongue, and she couldn't taste anything until she used the control to remove it. Keep it real thin on the lips and the eyes, she reminded herself.

"Are you sure?"

Lana didn't stop while she answered, some of the words were a bit mangled while she did her lips.

"Yes, I amph shue. We aren'th gonna tmiss nthing."

Once everything was coated white, she then got out the dusting powder. She opened the case, pulled out the rosin bag, closed her eyes, and poofed. She liked this company best. Magic Dust, with Intel inside. They had the brightest blues and darkest black.

The dusting never took more than a couple of seconds. Electrostatic attraction between the cream and the dust meant very little powder lost. What didn't adhere tended to float back to the bag or container. She waved the bag through the air slowly to make sure she got any that was floating free. Hated to waste any.

"Should I call for the car?" yelled Jack.

Lana grunted. "The car isn't here?" she asked.

"Dave was pretty drunk last night, and said he didn't know how he had gotten here. I bundled him into our car, and told it to take him home. As far as I know, he's still in it."

"Why don't you just check?" Lana replied.

"OK. Just a sec."

Lana smiled. She liked Jack, she really did, but he'd forget his own arms if they didn't have integral homing tags.

Like always, her coloring started out a pale creamy pink. Always reminded her of bubble gum. Perfectly hideous color, she thought to herself. She checked everything. Face, check. Arms, check. Armpits, check. Neck, check. All were coated well.

"It’s on its way, now,” Jack yelled out. “Dave seems to have gotten out of it somewhere in the U-district. I think he went to another bar!"

Lana frowned. "This is his second liver, right?"

"Yep. He's going to have to break down and buy an augmented model. The doctors are starting to really lecture him about his self-control issues. But he insists on real whisky, and won't drink the healthy stuff."

"Is he going to be there?"

"Yeah, he'll make it. It's really all about him and the rest isn't it? They're making history tonight."

She grabbed her control and then the projector inside instantly mapped her face and body, displaying it on the smartmirror right next to her own real reflection. Idly she flicked through dozens of patterns looking for the perfect combo. She eventually chose a blue and gold pattern that made her eyes into butterflies. She selected it from the mirror, then with the control, touched the application end of it to the cream.

Instantly, her arms neck and most of her face turned the exact same shade of deep purple-blue. She blinked and the butterfly around her eyes fluttered. Very lifelike she thought. This particular butterfly was her own. She was certain no one else had mapped it.

She idly wondered if it was one from a natural species, or something engineered and released. So many species had been reintroduced now. All you needed was a little DNA, and Voila!

She had seen this one the other day, fluttering in the roof garden, and had recorded it. From there she used her control to map it into her makeup file. There was an app she had found a long time ago that had a HUGE database of movements, integrated to allow for makeup effects. The one she had used for her eyes was called "Flutterfly." It would be a hit.

Lana asked Jack, "Didn't Dave also get the trip implant? The one that sends random signals to your cortex so you hallucinate?"

"Yeah, he tried that, but had it removed. Said it was too safe for him."

"I think he's really trying to fry his brain beyond repair."

"Huh, maybe. Have you ever seen Dave sober?"

"Nope. He's living the stereotype. A real party animal."

"Me neither."

Lana thought for a moment about how her makeup worked. How the control, and the mirror, and the dust all communicated due to the tiny chips inside. How the powder had the ability to change its index of refraction, allowing it to become whatever color you wanted. And how each mote of dust, embedded as it was in the cream, could be assigned its own number, allowing the controller to map locations with precision. And command every single mote as an individual pixel. The Intel ones could glow too, emitting their own light. It didn't matter that much to Lana how it worked. It simply worked.

Jack came into the bathroom and looked at Lana. "Nice." That's the butterfly from the garden you were playing with isn't it?"

Lana smiled. "You noticed!"

"Yeah, we were watching from the kitchen. Dave was talking about it too. He said something about wishing he was the butterfly. But he was pretty wasted."

Lana used the control on the embedded chips in her jumpsuit, and again her mirror displayed a second image, showing her entire body this time. She found a pattern to match her makeup, and applied it to her fabric. Her clothing now looked a bit like tall grass, the stalks swaying in the wind. Her own body was mapped onto her jumpsuit, painting her own curves. It looked like she was naked and blue, with the stalks of brilliant green grass carefully keeping certain parts modestly hidden. She smiled as she saw that Jack was mesmerized by the effect.

Lana checked herself in the mirror again, body paint and jumpsuit working perfectly together. Clothing and makeup enhancing her natural looks. She liked what she saw.

"Do you think they'll let Dave on the stage?" Lana wondered aloud.

"Probably not. It'll likely be that doctor doing all the talking. The one that found out about the colony and made them release them all. He’s the one that said it's slavery to keep them there, treating them like lab animals. He'll probably bore us all on the ethics of what is and is not OK to create. Dave would have never known about the world if it wasn’t for the doctor.

"This is a big day for Dave. It’s not everyday that an entire people are declared legally sentient," Jack finished.

Lana looked Jack over. He had set his jumpsuit to Black Tie. She approved. Most of the time he just had advertisements playing ads of his favorite drugs and alcoholic beverages. Even though it wasn't a real tuxedo, like the wealthy had, it certainly made him look dashing.

"Besides" Jack said, "There are plenty of Nean's who can give a good speech."

"Don't call them that. It's offensive."

"Would you prefer I call them ‘Cavemen’?”

Lana slapped Jack teasingly.

"Don't even call them ‘Neanderthals.’ Call them 'Reintroduced people.’"

"–Car's here!"

As they walked through the garden, Lana saw a butterfly madly fluttering, trapped in a spiderweb.

“Oh look!” she said. “It’s the same as the one I mapped!”

Jack looked at it closely. “Wow, look at it squirm.”

They both watched it for a while.

“We’re late,” Lana said.

“Let’s go.”

Author Bio:

Laston Kirkland

Laston lives in a small two bedroom apartment with his wife, three daughters and an old cat.  He writes with one hand, gently holding the rest of the world at bay with the other.  He's fond of tabletop boardgames and all things nerdy.

How to cite the above article in APA format:
Kirkland, Laston. (2013).  Late to the party.
The Journal of Social Era Knowledge, Volume 1, Issue 3.  Retrieved from

About the Artist:

Peter Gentenaar writes:  

My interest in paper started while working as a printmaker, when my engravings had such deep relief, that commercial paper could not fill it. 

I decided to make my own paper and was helped by Jo Persoon at the Royal Dutch Paper Factory, KNP. He taught me about beaters for making paper pulp and vacuum systems to suck water out of pulp, to make paper. The laboratory beater I used was unable to process long fibers, so I built a beater of my own design. 

A paper sheet is thin and strong and, reinforced with very thin ribs of bamboo, can be compared to a leaf. By beating pulp a long time, an extraordinary play of forces occurs during the drying process of my paper sculpture. The paper shrinks considerably, up to 40%, and the force of this puts the non-shrinking bamboo framework under stress, just as a leaf when it drys. 

My sculptures start as totally 2-dimensional, colored sheets of pulp laying on my vacuumtable. The forms in my work are caused by pulp drying and shrinking in unison. The simplicity of the material, which is the carrier, the color, the texture and the form, in one, makes working with it wonderful and direct. 

To bring paper art to the public and to be inspired by fellow paper artists, I instigated the Holland Paper Biennial in Museum Rijswijk and CODA, Apeldoorn. With friends, Pat and I have published seven books with the first seven Biennials.

To learn more about this fascinating artwork or to reach the artist, Peter can be reached through his website at the following URL: