Begonia Séu peeked inside Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (1968) of Philip K. Dick. This novel had inspired her to divide people into categories, based on their Voight-Kampff empathy scale score. Reluctantly, she picked up the Mental Debilities Manual, which was no good, but was thorough and could help her save Ada Wong. One entry in particular stood out, -
Emotional Atrophication (MDM V name & diagnosis information: EA, Axis I, X123.54): a painstaking disease in which the emotional life of an individual gradually deteriorates.
While this description didn’t help her in the slightest, she had to give Julia Vanessa von Kärnten credit where it was due. Or should she call her Jules? The masculine diminutive she preferred? Anyway, she couldn’t believe in the fantasy that this silly book could help patients. Von Kärnten only had success with her therapy because of her location. Her practice was situated in the French Alps, a place of divine beauty, peace and comfort. It was here where she could treat those weak and tormented souls with the best intentions.
Even though she did not want to believe in this book, she grabbed her calculator and began to fill in the scale for Ada Wong. Was she really emotionally unstable? Or atrophied, as Julia Vanessa put it? Some items counted double on the Voight-Kampff empathy scale and since she loathed the poor equipment needed to assess someone, she devised a way to circumvent these arcana requirements. What good came from it when you assessed someone’s emotional life with an instrument that clearly had no empathy of its own? You could hardly trust a polygraph to tell you what was hidden in the recesses of someone’s soul.
Ada Wong was not the least desirable person she could think of, come to think of it. She did have pets in the past. While she didn’t take care of them herself, Ada Wong did rescue those pets heroically from the bio-industry. At least that made her not totally devoid of emotion. But did she share any genuine connection to the human world? Maybe not, but she did exhibit interest in the humanoids. For art purposes, in particular, she overheard on Twitter.
While she was refuting every argument that could possibly incriminate Ada Wong into a cruel mental illness, her cell phone rang. It was Adriana. She immediately accepted the call. ‘Bego, you must help me,’ Adriana, Ada Wong’s daughter, quivered.
‘O.K. I just need to take care of a few things,’ Begonia replied.
Of course, this wasn’t the response Adriana had hoped for, but she remained quiet and malleable: ‘But listen to me, Bego, I have a story to tell.’
‘I am listening, really I do, but I am a bit sleepy and need to figure out things.’
Affronted, Adriana almost cried and said: ‘You don’t know what is happening right under your nose.’
‘Oh please, don’t be so overly dramatic. Relax. Take a sip, dance and live your life on the floor.’
‘Begonia, you are disappointing me.’
‘OK, what exactly has been going on while I was away for ten minutes?’
‘I am just going to let that comment pass. It is most unbecoming of you as a professional psychologist. I will tell you that Desa has terminated his relation to my mother.’
This remark made Begonia shudder. She should have been more serious at this late hour. Those drinks earlier on and her slightly somnolent attitude were no excuse for this malfeasance.
Adriana continued: ‘Since you are not answering, I take it that you are either shocked, appalled or simply do not care. What use is a psychologist if she does not listen to you?’
‘Are you asking to me?’
‘Well, I was just reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.’
This infuriated Adriana. ‘What has that got to do with anything? You and your reading. Please keep your attention focused, Bego. You need to focus on humans. Do you want me to spell it out for you?’
‘All right, I will see what I can do for your mother. In the meantime, you may wish to consider calling Doctor Penguin for your medication.’