This section covers the change in Marita's situation.
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A Ghostly Vision
When George and Kerstin returned to the Spacers Club in the morning, they went to see the Commander.
As they entered his cabin, he began to speak but George gestured him to stay silent.
George said "Sir, we have some important news for you that you will find unbelievable. Marita is not dead."
The Commander was about to remonstrate but he realised that as Marita's partner, George would never make such a claim unless he had completely lost his senses. As he was in doubt about such a state of affairs, he decided to give George enough rope to hang himself. He said. "How do you account for that George?"
Kerstin answered. "Sir, you see me as Kerstin now but in a way I am Marita too now."
The Commander was now faced with the prospect of having two mentally ill Spacers so he thought that he had better give George and Kerstin a chance to prove that they were not as silly as they sounded.
"He said. "This is not making sense to me but please continue."
Kertin switched to Marita's voice. She said. "Who puts cold coffee on her desk?"
The Commander looked as if he had been unexpectedly thumped in the back. He said in Swedish with an odd accent. "Du är sent." ("You are late.")
"He said in English. "It can't be. Only someone as old as Marita would know about the coffee and Admiral Nilsson at the Spacers College."
Kerstin continued using Marita's voice. "Who was the only cadet to survive three cups of Admiral Nilsson's coffee?"
The Commander sank down in his seat as if he had a slow puncture. Then tears welled up in his eyes. I can't believe it. I never told anyone but you Marita. What am I saying? This must be a trick you have dreamed up Kerstin to fool me."
George said. "Sir, it is no trick. Ask any question you like. You will find that whatever you ask that only Marita knows will be answered correctly. Although it is what any madman would say, I will say it. I am not mad. I shared with Marita for part of the time last night. Undepoldus has saved Marita's id and consciousness inside himself somehow. If you call Undepoldus House now and ask to speak to Marita, she will answer. Then ask her what she has done to Kerstin."
The Commander looked flustered. A woman who looked and sounded like Marita had just begun to prove that she was Marita stood in front of him while George was saying Marita was with Undepoldus in Undepoldus House.
He said. "Processor, link to Undepoldus House, Marita Andersson."
Marita's face appeared on the screen. She said. "Good morning Ivan. I take it that the coffee wasn't warm enough for you." As she spoke the vidcom camera in Undepoldus House zoomed backwards to show Marita's face as an image on the side of Undepoldus.
Marita continued: "I am here mentally but I have asked Kerstin to be me for George from time to time. I have no body now but I still feel alive, here with Undepoldus. I have transferred a copy of my memories and experiences to Kerstin so that she can take my place when the occasion demands. When she is being me, she knows all I know. When she is being herself, she will not have any access to my memories. My body is dead but I trust that you have now had some evidence that a part of me is still here. Ivan, I suggest that you come to Undepoldus House and meet me here. It is perhaps the only way that you can be convinced that I still exist as a thinking entity. I do not exist as a human anymore but Kerstin and I were different for George. He loves the two of us equally but he also loves our differences. Last night I shared for a time with George through Kerstin. Kerstin was me then as far as George was concerned. Now she can choose to be me or herself whenever she wants to. When she is being me, the inner Kerstin is in control as an observer. The Marita that she presents cannot take over her body without her wish that she should be me. I hope that you understand Ivan. I have been saved from oblivion by Undepoldus in a way that only George and Kerstin can understand. Undepoldus was created by some intelligent beings who were just as fearful of death as humans are. They devised a sort of answer in him. I know, I understand how that answer works."
The Commander was crying as he began to appreciate what Marita said to him.
Marita said. "Ivan, please don't be upset. You were my very special friend at the College. We had to ignore our College relationship after you got married and I came back into your life. Nevertheless I still think of you as someone who will always be special to me. Come and see me at Undepoldus House tonight and bring Eva with you."
Ivan was too choked up to answer.
George asked. "Marita, what was the significance of the three cups of coffee?"
Marita answered. Admiral Nilsson always ordered a cup of cold coffee to offer to any student who was late for an appointment with her. It was her way of saying. 'You are late!' Ivan managed to survive three cups of coffee when most cadets were advised to leave after two. Ivan and I were on the same course years ago. He told me that he considered himself lucky to have graduated as a Spacer. It was something that neither you nor Kerstin knew so it was one way to identify myself to Ivan. There are many other ways but I won't embarrass him by mentioning them."
The Commander had recovered a little as Marita was speaking. He was trying to work out what Kerstin's role should be in the future. Eventually he asked. "Marita, does your personality in Undepoldus know what your personality in Kerstin knows?"
Undepoldus Marita said. "No. We are two separate identities in a way. My Undepoldus identity is the original. My Kerstin identity is just a copy. As I am only active in Kerstin for short periods, I can only gain a small number of new experiences, but with help from Undepoldus, I can transfer any new experiences I have gained to my other self and vice versa. However, the real me knows exactly how I will react to circumstances and knows what my copy would say. My real self is active and conscious all the time but will soon leave with Undepoldus to have new and different experiences. When and if he returns, the two of us can share our different experiences. I will clear now so that you do not get confused about which one of me you are talking to."
The Commander noted that Marita's persona in Kerstin only made an appearance when directly addressed. He asked. "Kerstin, how much do you know of Marita's past life?"
Kerstin said. "Very little sir. I can talk to Marita inside my head but to me she seems like she is outside my body. I cannot find out what she knows without asking her. If she is active and talking, I hear what she says and what others say to her. Otherwise, we are effectively two separate people. The strange thing is that she knows that she is a copy and the real version of her is with Undepoldus. She knows that I am happy to present her for the benefit of myself and her friends but she never would take over my body. She is happy for me to decide when she should take over. Otherwise, if you speak to me as you would to Marita, Marita will answer."
The Commander asked. "Kerstin, are you really happy to share your body with Marita?"
Kerstin said. "I wish that the original Marita was still with us but as that cannot be, it is the least I can do to help a very special friend. It is another way of showing my love for George. I can be Marita for him whenever he wants to share comfort with Marita. In case you are wondering, Marita cannot hear me when I talk although I can hear her when she talks. I am glad that I can present myself as Marita to all her friends so that they will not feel bereaved."
George said. "I can vouch for the genuineness of the Marita that Kerstin presents to me. I cannot tell the difference between Kerstin as Marita and Marita as she was with me. I think that Undepoldus was made to do something like he has done for Marita. I don't think that he was designed to make use of another nearly identical body to provide a copy of Marita. I think he did it because of his great friendship for all three of us. Even Undepoldus does not know what he can do until circumstances prompt him to react in a certain way."
The Commander said. "I have been wondering what your status should be Kerstin. The Spacers League will have to know whether to continue to treat you as Kerstin or as Marita. I can accept that you can be Marita whenever you want to but that is not the same as being the real Marita. You now present the Spacers League with a dilemma."
George said. "I think that we should ask Marita for her opinion. She knows her status and has the experience and wisdom to decide what would be best."
Kerstin said. "I agree with George. I will accept any proposal that Marita suggests. I have told Marita what the problem is so I will let her have her say now."
Kerstin's Marita said. "I think that you should treat me as an éminence grise. I am not in control of a human body anymore so I cannot act as an independent entity. It would be unfair to Kerstin for me to have the use of her body for more than occasional appearances. I can provide knowledge and information that is based on my past experience and I can act as if Kerstin's body were my original body. But I cannot advance as I could if I still had my own body. I am not aware of what happens when Kerstin is in charge so at best I can only obtain a disjointed and incomplete picture of events. The answer is to say that I am not around anymore except for those who want to experience my presence through Kerstin. As I was away for so long I lost contact with all my old friends except for a few. And those I still have some contact with treat me quite differently to the way that they did 23 years ago. I can fade away for all practical purposes except for a very small circle of mainly new friends. My students may want to see me from time to time but they have their own lives to lead. There is no real dilemma Ivan. Accept me for what I am - a friend you will still be able to see occasionally. My other self will soon leave with Undepoldus in a new adventure. The other me will be able to see and participate in everything that Undepoldus does. She is the complete Marita now. Kerstin is the complete Kerstin who has a friend with her as a lodger. I exist with Kerstin and Undepoldus for one reason; my friends will not have to mourn for me. Maybe some day Undepoldus will find a way to provide me with a new body. In the meantime I will continue to be an occasional visitor to friends who still want to see me."
"Marita, with Kerstin's permission I would like to be able to talk to you as if you were still here in the future. Maybe you could just drift into my cabin for a chat now and again or have a cosy dinner with your friends."
"I will be very happy to spend time with you Ivan as long as it does not put too much strain on Kerstin's affairs. Perhaps George and Kerstin will arrange it when it is convenient."
Kerstin said. "I like the idea of presenting Marita for everyone on a regular basis. I don't know what my new role will be so I cannot make any plans yet, but I am sure that when Undepoldus has gone, my situation will clarify itself. In the meantime, whenever you want Marita, just ask for her and she will be with you. It is not entirely selflessness on my part. Although I can present Marita to you instead of myself, I can appreciate the way that you enjoy her company because I can continue as a vicarious observer at the same time. I do not have to worry about eavesdropping on Marita because she is happy to have me watching her."
The Commander said. "I will have to make a formal report on your situation Kerstin. I can appreciate that Marita is with you and Undepoldus but for those I have to report to, Marita is effectively a sort of ghost. If word gets out about the way Undepoldus can save the identity of a person who is dying, he will be inundated with pleas to help millions of people. Sadly as it may seem, I will have to say that Marita is dead. We will have to have a formal acknowledgement of her passing as a well-loved and talented Spacer. Her physical presence will be sadly missed."
George said. "I think that it would be wise to contact Undepoldus via the vidcom. In that way he can be told how we will recognise Marita's death without telling Marita. She will find out in due course but I know that she would want to be present if she found out about it before it happened. I think it would be traumatic for her to be there. We know that it isn't the end for her but we will have to act as if it were."
"In this matter I will accept your judgement George. You know Marita better than anyone. I will do as you suggest. I will inform those who have seen Undepoldus Marita of the arrangements so that they know what to expect."
Kerstin said. "I agree with George sir. We can tell Marita after the ceremony. I suggest that it is arranged as soon as possible because the Undepoldus Marita will want to find out why George and I are staying away from her if we are away for a long time."
"Because of the special circumstances I will arrange it for later today. In space a lost Spacer is usually acknowledged within 24 hours, so I do not think that it will be taken as a precedent. I suggest that it should be held in the conference room at 16:30."
"Kerstin and I would be grateful if you can arrange it then. It will mean that we can tell Marita how it went when we see her tonight."
"I will contact Undepoldus to confirm the time. He may be able to create a diversionary activity for Marita to keep her occupied until some time after it is over."
"Kerstin and I will be in our cabin. Both of us need time to get used to our new situation now."
Kerstin said. "We will see you in the Conference room at 16:30 sir unless there is a change of plan in the meantime."
"I will pass the word around so that you are not disturbed unless you want to be. I wish you both well."
George and Kerstin were not disturbed.
Rear Admiral Chebychev began the ceremony.
He said. "Today we mark the passing of one of our most loved and talented friends. Marita has been transferred to a different plane of which we know nothing. Her cheerful outlook and her great achievements are just a small part of the great personality who will no longer grace this world with her athletic presence. Marita will always remain in our thoughts as an example of the highest standards that a Spacer can achieve. We will all miss her. Our sympathy must go to George and Kerstin. I am sure that they will want to keep the spirit of Marita alive in their hearts for as long as they live."
George said. "I will always remember Marita as a self effacing partner whose unselfishness endeared her to all who knew her. She combined a huge body with an enormous intellect yet presented herself as an ordinary Spacer. She enjoyed life and made sharing comfort an art. It was her favourite spare time activity. At the same time she was industrious and actively tried to make up for the 22 years she had spent away from Earth. In the year she was back on Earth she made a point of completing the current Spacer Cadet course while she taught the most successful class of cadet candidates at any university in the world. She used a lot of her spare time as an athletics coach with equal success. Her motto was. "I am twice as big and twice as bright so I should do twice as much twice as well." I was privileged to have been her partner. She has left Kerstin an incredibly hard act to follow, but when she was with us, she did her best to try to help Kerstin prepare to become her equal in every respect. She was a heroine to others while she was my dearest, sweetest love."
Kerstin said. "Marita was originally my role model. Then by force of circumstances I met her and became her friend. She taught me how to be a Spacer and encouraged me to extend my capabilities in every way possible. She loved the way I could look exactly like her and do many of the things she did. She made me feel that my role was to be an equal partner for George in every respect. She welcomed me into the partnership with George in a way that completely wiped away any feelings that I was an intruder into such a personal relationship. She taught me how to share comfort with George in such a way that it practically became an addiction. She loved to watch me share comfort with George and I always had the heights of vicarious pleasure when I watched her with him. Marita was the kindest, sweetest friend and companion a girl could ever have. Our mutual love for George brought us as close together as two co-partners could ever be. I consider myself very lucky to be able to look like her and to be able to do some of the things she did. Now I know that I will have to work as hard as she did to be as good a Spacer as she was. I cannot take her place but I hope that I can serve as a reminder to all who knew her what a wonderful person she was."
The Commander said. "I have known Marita for longer than I care to remember. When I was a boy I tended to think that girls were weaker and less capable than boys. When I became a cadet I found that I had to struggle to try to keep pace with the girls who were in my class. Then I met Marita. She was big, strong and beautiful. She could out perform any of the boys in athletics and sharing comfort with her was like an erotic dream. She was never refused a share and she shared with all of us because it was her favourite spare time activity. She was very kind to me and all the other cadets. She was aware of her effect on us boys and loved it when any of us looked at her and showed that we would like to share with her. She would then say. "Say it." to make us say that we would like to share with her aloud. Many a time she would be found in the sports pavilion sharing with a cadet who could not resist the thought of being with her after seeing her close up. She used to say to the other girls. "Get some share practice in. You are not satisfying the boys enough. Share with them until they are too tired and weak to want to share with me all the time." She persuaded me to drop a hint to Admiral Nilsson that I might be available for a share. From then on I was Admiral Nilsson's favourite student. I didn't like the idea at first because Admiral Nilsson was 55 and I was only 23. I soon learned that age makes no difference and it did help me to get past three cups of cold coffee. I owe a lot to Marita and her passing will be a great loss to the League. I am now happily married but Eva has always known that if I was free and Marita was around, it would not have been long before we renewed our old aquaintanceship. Now, Eva has no rival anymore. I am sure that she would not have wished to be the only one left for me in the way things have occurred. May the wonder that was Marita live long in our memories."
Rear Admiral Chebychev said. "I have heard many tributes on other sad occasions like this but your words have told how Marita was a very special Spacer who will missed by all who knew her. She was and is an example to us all. May her memory live long in all of us."
There was a general chorus of. "May Marita's memory live
long in all of us," from all who were present at the simple
Those present formed themselves into small groups to share their bereavement with their closest friends.
The Commander joined George and Kerstin and said. "Kerstin, I would like to accept Marita's invitation and to bring Eva with me."
George said. "That will please Marita very much. I am sure that Undepoldus will be happy to see both of you too."
Kerstin said "My Marita would love to meet you both. I don't think it would be appropriate for her to speak to you directly while we are here. It would be better for her to talk to you when we are in Undepoldus House."
George and Kerstin were greeted and offered comforting words
by all those who had not spoken. Some had seen Marita's image
with Undepoldus but most had not. All were told what had actually
happened and were requested not to divulge the information.
Kerstin said that Marita would like to see them all and have at least one more chat before she left with Undepoldus.
The next section covers the concert played for Marita.
Viewers familiar with this subject may pass on to the following section.
Please select PASS or CONTINUE.