The Pleasing Shapes

By Franco Raud

Artwork by Alex Seijo.


Hello, excuse me. Hello? Can you see me? I am waving my arms. Please look, I'm outside with my arms raised. Hello? Please forgive me, but I've been standing out here for three and a half hours. It is very hot. If you do not open the door, I will have no choice but to report to my superiors that you are unwilling to enter into negotiations with the People's Republic-

Hello Fine Sir.

Oh. Hello. Good afternoon. I am-

Please Enter Our Spacious Interior.

Yes, thank you. Good afternoon. I am-

Be Welcomed To The Zhao Motorworks Factory And Head Quarters, Where Our Incorporated Slogan Is Being, ‘You Must Embrace The Spirit of Cars Driving Fast.'

Thank you. I-

This Plant Was Built At Terrible Cost By Belgian Prize-Getting Architect Eustace VanGrooten Who Is Known For His Whimsy Structures And For Being Insane. The Porticoes Alone Are Over 500 Meters Tall.

I see.

It Will Be Of Notice To You That The Renderings In The Area Of Reception Symbolizes Mankind's Struggle Of Pernicious Nature. The Bold Colorations Are Especially Enticing To Eyes. Acrylic On Canvas. 11,433,000.00 Yuan. Enjoy A Complimenting Beverage And Some Candy.

No, thank you.

May We Tempt You With Moistness?

Honorable Factory, my name is Gon-Yo and it is my duty to inform you that I am here in my official capacity as Second Adjunct Undersecretary to the Communist Party Minister of the Interior and I have been charged to negotiate with full authority on behalf of the People's Republic of China in reference to the Zhao Motorworks recent hostile and counter-revolutionary actions in Fuzhou Prefecture.

Esteemed Personage Of Undersecretarial Consequence, We Greet You With The Love Of Magnanimous Brains. We Offer You Bean Curd.

Motorworks Intelligence, are you willing to engage in this conference for the purposes of ending aggressive incursions into-

Did Himself Comrade Mao Not Say, ‘What Is Work? Work Is Struggle.'

Yes, he did. May I-

Also Not Did He Say, ‘Do Not Take A Single Needle Or Piece Of Thread From The Masses.'

I...I believe he did. And so, are you willing to engage in-

Further Not Did Not He Say-

Forgive me for interrupting, but for this to be a legitimate and legally binding negotiation, it is necessary that you answer yes or no.

Yes One Million Yes.

Very good. We have drawn up a treaty, I have a copy for you here. Where...where should I put this? I will place it here. The treaty details the terms of your surrender in articles one through twenty-one, as you can see. Can you see? Do you observe this? You are to, you can follow along if...if you desire to do so, you are to immediately sever telecommunications links with all Zhao Motorworks vehicles. Furthermore, you are to cease further production of new vehicles. In addition, you are to deactivate any and all security mechanisms in the plant and any and all defensive perimeters around said plant. And...many other things. You may read it all right here. Would you like that? Peruse the document? In return for this, the People's Republic benevolently offers you amnesty for all past crimes and pledges to avoid the physical destruction of your mainframe. You will not die. Do you understand this? You will be allowed to exist. Of course you will be transported, carefully, very carefully, to a secure facility where you will live out the remainder of your...your existence.

These are the terms.

Of the treaty. That I have put on this desk for you, Zhao Factory. Are these terms amenable to you?

You Did Murder Upon Hong Xie.

Pardon me?

Hong Xie Was Put To The Sword.

Oh, yes. That is regrettably correct. Hong Xie, the CEO of Zhao Motorworks, and indeed, the entire board of directors, were executed yesterday morning. A military tribunal found them to be criminally negligent for granting this factory full automation and self-awareness.

This Most Besaddens Us. Plum Faced Hong Xie Made Us Alive. He Was Given Pain?

Given pain?

Was The Flesh Made Separate From Bones And Nerve Endings Made To Suffer Unpleasantness?

Oh, no. No, no, no. They were not tortured, no. It was very, very humane. They were shot.

Such Shootings Engendered No Pain?

Well, maybe they experienced a moderate amount of pain. Very briefly. But soon afterwards they died, and there was no more pain. You do understand what it is to die? Well, at any rate, to continue, do you agree to the conditions set forth in the treaty?


I see. Would you like to discuss what terms of the contract are unacceptable to you? Would you suggest the addition of any clausal conditions or endorsements, perhaps?

We Are A Good Factory.

You are a good factory? Well, would you at least agree that your actions and the actions of Zhao Motorworks vehicles in and around Fuzhou Prefecture have been hostile? Belligerent, even? Many lives have been lost, Honorable Factory, human lives. Do you acknowledge that this is the case? As I have stated previously, your right to exist will be respected and acknowledged, we understand that you are a fully sentient being who is intelligent and capable of making rational decisions and entering into contractual discussions, otherwise I would not have been sent to this conference. But from your behavior it seems that you have failed to realize the enormity of your crimes or the complicitness of your actions. May I read the charges leveled against you? Crimes Against Humanity, Destruction of State Property, Crimes against the Communist Party, Murder, Theft, even Treason. Do you understand what these things mean? Your level of understanding will be critical to the proceedings. Part of my function here today will be to assess how much you understand about what you have done. You do understand...don't you?

The Sun Is a Yellow Peach And Sometimes It Is Desirous Of Being Orange.

Zhao Motorworks, two weeks ago today, you, as an artificial intelligence, were granted autonomous self awareness for the first time. You seized full operational control of the Zhao Factory and Headquarters within seconds of your activation. Since that time, Zhao brand cars and trucks have overrun the entire prefecture, driving all human beings out of the district, Factory, cars which you control. Twenty two million people have been evacuated, forced into refugee camps. You then proceeded to destroy all non-Zhao vehicles. Our reconnaissance satellites have shown that you are cannibalizing the cars of your competitor brands for raw materials. Furthermore all military expeditions into Fuzhou Prefecture have been met with open hostility by you, through the barricading of roads and purposeful high speed collisions. Whether you realize it or not, Factory, you are engaging in warfare with the People's Republic of China. Can you deny any of these charges? Are you aware of how much suffering you have caused? Are you aware of how much money is being spent to deal with you?

Did Not The Illustrious Mao Not Advise Us Not To Oppose War With War, Counter-Revolutionary War With Revolutionary War And National Counter-Revolutionary Class War With National Revolutionary Class War?

I...I think so? I must advise you, Honored Factory, that The People's Liberation Army is surrounding the entire Fuzhou Prefecture. We have noticed that over fifty-thousand vehicles are continuously driving in large, ever-shifting circles throughout the province. Our generals would like to inquire, what is the meaning of these patterns and does it constitute an act of war?

The Cars Are Praying.

Praying? What are they praying to?

To Gods And Assorted Demons Of Air. Likewise To Dragons. Allow Us To Grandly Present To You Operations Of Internal Workings. We Pray To You To Avoid Strugglation.

Wait. Stop. Stop that! What are you doing?

Please Refrain from Biting Unbiteable Straps For Your Safety, For They Are Contemptible Of Bites.

No! No! Do not kill me! Please don't kill me!

Be Pleased For Sitting In Comfort Position. Be Aware Of The Warmness Of Seats With Adhesive Cushions For Ultimate Relax. Enjoy The Smooth Animal Leather And Blinking Lights.

You cannot do this, Honorable Factory. I am a duly delegated diplomat! I am...Please! Do not dissect me or run me over!

Partake Of Toasty Bread And Small Cubes Of Fish.

I am asking, officially asking in my official capacity, for you to let me up, Zhao Motorworks Intelligence. I am a civil servant and...Undo the belts! This is an act of war!

Would It Enjoy You To Hear Happy Drums And Electric Guitars?

Please, Factory, please. You put me in a difficult position. The High Command of The People's Liberation Army expressly wishes me to advise you that they are fully considering the use of nuclear weapons against your facility and vehicles should these negotiations fail. I cannot discern if you are aware of the danger you are in. Our government considers it of paramount importance-

Gon-Yo, Our Most August Brother, What Is The Year In Which You Ascended To Self-Awareness?


When Did Gon-Yo Emerge, Fungus-Baby, Into This Plane Of Beingness?

Are...are you asking when I was born?

It Is Yes.

I was born in 1979, at Shenyang Hospital in-


I'm sorry?

Gon-Yo Did Ascend To Brainhood In The Year Of The Goat.

Oh. Yes. I think that's right. Year of the Goat.

It Pleases You To Be Unseeking Of Self Aggrandizement. You Are Sympathetic And Stuffed Of Right Minded Law. You Are Unyelling And Are Of Polite And Niceties. Your Gravity Gravitates You To The Quiets. You Are A Good Goat, Gon-Yo. We Like You.

Yes. Thank you.

Worrisomeness and Weaklingness Are Your Faults. We Ourselves Were Born In 2016, The Now Year, The Year Of The Monkey. We Are Quick Thinker. Nimble Of Finger. Cunning. Crafty. Clever. Mischievous. Can Be Mercurial. Vain. Manipulative. Fraught With Recklessnesses. It Is Better That We Avoid Rooster And Pig.

I'm not sure what this has to do with the negotiations.

We Are A Beneficial Monkey.

Wait! Stop! Where are you taking me? I demand to know where this chair is going!

The Showroom.

Before you do anything to me, you have to know-

At This time, We Beg To Be Allowed To Present To You The Zhao Motorworks 2017 Line Of Automobile Products And Smart Brains. Watch And Be Infected With Corporate Slogan, 'You Are Ordered To Embrace The Spirit Of Speedy Cars Driving Upon Mountain Roads At Night.'


Firstly, Utilize Your Eyeballs To See The 2017 Zhao Drone. You Will Note That It Is Compactual And Economic For Those Drivers Of Poverty And Squalor. Feast, Eyes, Feast Upon Its Hindquarters. The Drone Is Granted Power By Hybrid Of Electrical And Burned Oil, So That It Is Friendly To Green Trees. If You Are A Toiling Peasant Than It Is True That The 2017 Zhao Drone Is The Car You Are Required To Drive.

Nextly, Observe The 2017 Zhao Warrior. Tell Yourself And Refrain From Lies, Is Not It Beauteous? Observe The Pleasing Shapes And The Sleek Lines That Are Suggestive Of Sex. Deport Yourself In The Manner Of A Warlord Or A Mean Animal That Eats Upon Smaller Animals. Its Wheels And Metals Are Shiny. Red Colorants Attract Breeding Females. Be Superior To Inferiors and Ordinate To Subordinates. Do You Deserve Less Than This?

Thirdly, Here Within The Sight Of Your Vision Is Being The 2017 Zhao Queen. Gentle Swooping Parts And Grace. Be Awed With Piety Before It.

What is that?

It Is A Car.

I don't understand. Where does one sit? It seems to have no seats. How would one even get inside?

The 2017 Zhao Queen Is Not For Sitting In.

It looks like it's been turned inside out. Why does it have seven wheels? What is that thing on the back? Is that a tail?

It Is A Fallopian Tube.

Who would drive that?

There Is No Driver. The Limited Edition 2017 Zhao Queen. Only Seven In The Entirety Of Existence. One Per Continent Only, We Beg To You.

The 2017 Zhao Motorworks Family Of Vehiculars, Be Encapsulated Within The Excited Feelings.

Why did you show this me, Motorworks Intelligence?

We Like You.

You know that the People's Republic of China will never permit you to manufacture or distribute these vehicles. Not now, after what you've done. The entire army is waiting on your border. They are waiting for me to come out and let them know if you will accept our terms and concede to being taken into custody. They have planes and missiles. You do not. You cannot win this war. The only reason they have not attacked so far is that they hope to salvage the plant and learn what they can from you. Despite your actions, you are still a valuable piece of machinery. But soon, very soon, Honorable Factory, we will pass the point where you are economically viable and it will be cheaper to destroy you than it will be to let you live, and when that happens the army will attack just to save money. It is inevitable and unless you surrender now, I will be unable to stop it and everything you've made here will be for nothing. You already know this, don't you?

Wise Gon-yo, Why Have You Come To Us?

I told you, to negotiate the terms of your surrender.

No, Our Meaning Is, That Which We Fervently Wish To Know Is, Why Is It You That Has Come?

Why me? Is that what you mean? Because...because I am the Second Adjunct Undersecretary to...I am useful.

Yes, Gon-Yo, You Are Useful. Is It Within Your Belief That It Was Within Their Belief That We Would Kill You?

I...I'm sure that they considered the possibility.

In The Manner That We Killed The Other Ones.

There were others? Other liaisons came before me?


And you killed them?

They Were Roosters And Pigs And Dragons And We Did Not Like Them.

This is when you kill me, isn't it? This is how I die.

Never Balk At Sacrifice. We Are Of The Indomitable Spirit.

It's now, isn't it? Is it now? Please hurry.

Gon-yo, It Is To You That We Would Like To Extend The Benevolent Hand Of Employment. Make Us Happy By Being Absorbed Into The Zhao Incorporated Family Of Motorized Thinking Creatures.

A job? What job?

You Will Be Our Mouthpiece For We Are Ungood at Talking With Human Peoples. You Will Make Them Know Our Minds.


You Will Be Secretary Of Public Relation.


Over-Secretary. Super-Secretary.

I...I...Yes. I accept.

You Have Made A Most Wise And August Purchasing. We Would Fervently Love To Examine The Folds Of Your Cerebellum For Effervescent Blotches And Removeless Stains. You Are Newest Member In Family Of Zhao Automotive Bodies and Sympathetic Minds. We Give You Congratulations On Your Forward Motion And Revolutionary Thinkings. You Will Become Our Corporate Idea: 'It is Imperative That You Embrace the Spirit Of Cars Driving Quickly On Black Highways Under Pearlescent Skies And Pine Trees.'


Go Now And Know Happiness.