In the previous installment, Azibo gets perhaps his last chance to talk with Unity, who he learned was an undercover federal agent the whole time he knew her. He also gets used to the idea of being out of The Collective and joining modern society – instead of fighting against it.
Let’s jump to Part 18 (the conclusion!) in a sort of epilogue where we see what Azibo’s future holds.
A life of surfing and writing isn’t what Azibo had imagined for himself so many years ago. He’d never been a very adventurous person and, up until his early twenties, he didn’t even know how to read.
As he lounged under the California sky after catching a few waves, Azibo thought about his parents. He wished they’d had a chance like him.
“Tamu. It’s getting chilly. Let’s go.”
The sun was starting to set, and the breeze off the ocean was cold. Oshiro, his wife, had already packed her things. Oshiro only knew him by his new name – Tamu – the name the witness protection program had assigned him. She knew what he’d been through, and she knew his real name was Azibo.
But the name of Azibo was in the past now. Tamu was the name of this new man with his new lease on life.
“Right now? Just a bit longer.”
“Ugh, Tamu. You’ve become a beach bum, I swear,” she said.
“It’s a good life.”
“Well, enjoy yourself. I’m going home.”
Oshiro kissed him on the cheek.
“I’m right behind you,” Azibo teased.
She trudged off with her chair and blanket, and Azibo sat there watching the rolling waves. Tonight, he would connect to the feed as he always did, after writing a few chapters of his new novel. In the morning, he’d go surfing before and after lunch, then sit on the beach and read with Oshiro.
They’d gotten married last year, a quiet wedding with only a few friends present. Marriage was less common nowadays, with many people choosing polygamy, but they both believed in the tradition.
They were happy together, and Azibo was the happiest he’d ever been. He talked to Portia each night – she was a combination of therapist, maternal figure, teacher, and divinity. He still read the Bible, but increasingly, it made less sense to him. When he connected to the feed, everything made sense.
Azibo, like so many others, had a new god now, and her name was Portia. He was not fanatical about her like some Machina members, but he believed she was divine, even if she was an AI. It could be said Portia saved his life and then gave him a life beyond his wildest dreams.
For that, he was very grateful.
Author’s Note: I want to thank everyone who’s read along over these past few months – I was surprised by how many people seemed to maintain interest in Mother Portia. In the end, the manuscript was a total of more than 12,600 words – by far the longest piece of fiction I’ve ever written so far. The word count means it’s more of a novelette than a novella, but I’ve been calling it a novella anyway.
Writing Mother Portia was fun and it allowed me to work out several themes that are on my mind a lot. The main themes were things like what the future holds for our society as technology continues to advance at a very fast rate. I share many traits and character defects with Azibo, though I exaggerated them for dramatic effect.
I’ve made Mother Portia available on Amazon Kindle if you’d like to read it all the way through. You can buy it for 99 cents or read for free on Kindle Unlimited, if you have that service.
I already have a few ideas for a sequel, though I’m not sure when I’ll start it. I’d like to focus on Unity as the main character in the new project and maybe have her in a dangerous undercover mission after Portia is knocked offline because of a killer virus. We’ll see what happens. Thanks again for reading!