Location: San Lorenzo de El Escorial near Madrid, Spain, 1784
Context: The consort queen, Maria Luisa de Parma, has just given birth to a child who is going to be the future Fernando VII, infamous as the “felon king” or the worst king in Spanish history. When he reaches the age of majority, he will depose of his own father, Carlos IV, and give Spain and all of its viceroyalties and provinces to Napoleon. He will spend most of the War of Independence as a voluntary hostage in France, even begging Napoleon to adopt him. When the French are expelled from Spain, he will return to the throne, ratifying the Constitution of Cadiz (1812), one of the first liberal constitutions in Europe, which recognizes the freedoms and rights of citizens in the Spanish territories of Europe, America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.
Procedure: It is necessary to replace baby Fernando with another baby genetically modified in an appropriate way. It will be conveniently educated by our agents in court. The replacement is being produced as assessed by our experts, since the original Fernando is completely immune to any sort of education.
Expected outcome: We hope that the new Fernando, more aware of the interests of his own people, will not allow Napoleon to enter the Iberian peninsula or, possibly, invade. Hopefully, he will promote the active resistance of the army and eventually flee to any capital in the Americas, probably Mexico’s. This very action will extend the life of the Hispanic Monarchy a few more years, and, when the overseas provinces achieve their independence, they will do it as one united country and not by forming 20 separate republics as happened in reality. Many civil wars will be avoided, and this United Hispanic America will be a world power, while the recognition of the Constitution of Cadiz by Fernando VII will make the Hispanic lands the most socially advanced and democratic territories on the planet during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
I’m in a forest now but, fortunately, it is daytime. This place is somehow familiar to me. I can’t say why exactly… I keep walking down an earthy road, and it is not that I know where I’m going, but I continue walking anyway. Suddenly a horse coach passes me, spewing dust in the air, another one does the same a few minutes later. After a few bends in the dusty road, I see a small unfamiliar village in front of me, but next to it rises something completely familiar: the San Lorenzo de El Escorial Monastery. Well, it is actually partly a monastery, partly a palace, partly a museum, library and center of knowledge.
King Felipe II built this massive structure meant to be the center from which he would rule the whole world. He personally supervised the construction work from the top of a nearby hill, which was bestowed the name “Felipe II’s Chair.” I’m not a youngster anymore and was starting to feel tired of walking when I arrived in the town of El Escorial. Most people were busy with their daily activities, and I tried to pass unnoticed. According to the instructions for the mission, I should collect a packet in the convent of the Carmelitas Descalzas and then proceed to the Monastery, the place where the new Infante Fernando had been born two days before.
I knocked on the door, and a nun made me go in. “I guess you are Don Restituto. You have come for the packet, haven’t you?” – “Yes, you are right, mother.” The old woman handed me a small package, wrapped up in what looked like a piece of sackcloth. Without saying much else, that old nun pushed me out, back to the street and shut the door on my back.
Interestingly enough, the package was somewhat heavy for its small size. I felt something breaking inside of me when I realized that its contents were moving! I immediately veered into a narrow dark lane to crack it open.
I couldn’t but feel real anger when I unwrapped the package and saw… a baby. It was very small, eyes still closed, and smelled like a newborn. I felt my legs shake. Definitively, I was too old for certain kinds of missions, and I had obviously misunderstood the procedures in this one. That pack of freaks had kidnapped a real child!! I looked at the little sweet face of the baby. It was like coming face to face with the personal failure that my whole life had been. A man my age should be playing with his grandsons and granddaughters, but I was alone. It is not that women scared me when I was young, but maybe rejection frightened me, as did compromise, and the fear of not being a good husband or a good father…
Too much sentimentality when the future of our kingdom was at stake. Who cares about a lonely old man, unless that old man can save the Hispanic civilization from centuries of humiliation and oppression by the enemies of Spain? I pulled myself together and kept on walking towards the next stage of the mission. A few meters ahead was the royal guard’s first check-point. There were a few who asked questions, and a few who wanted identification papers at that post and then the next three. Still, in less time than I had expected, I was knocking at the consort queen’s door.
“Come in!” I heard a weak voice saying from within. “Good morning, your majesty, I’m the new doctor” – “Where is Don Miguel?” – “He is sick your majesty, and I’m his substitute” – “Well, actually I wanted to see a doctor cause I’m feeling a bit unwell today…” – I quickly surveyed the room and realized the baby Fernando, the future king, wasn’t there. “Your majesty, how is your son doing? I’d like to make sure he is healthy,” I explained, while clumsily checking for a stethoscope in my bag. I must have agitated the baby inside because he made a little noise, giving me the impression that my heart was at the tip of my mouth.
I feigned a little cough and approached the queen who was lying in her bed. “He’s with the wet nurse in the chamber next to this one, but…oh! I feel like I can hear him even though he is not here…” – “That is your natural motherly instinct, your majesty. You will be an excellent mother.”
Yes, I know I talked to her as if Fernando was her first pregnancy, but… how could I possibly know that she had had 12 before him? That included 4 natural abortions, 6 elder brothers and sisters who died at a young age, and 3 older sisters. It wasn’t in the instructions. I’m a soldier and professional hitman, not a historian.
I made up a new cough and tried to auscultate her right breast, successfully enough for the monarch not to realize that her heart was in the left one. I prescribed her a jar that I had previously filled with tap water and ceremoniously gave it to her chamber maid, so she could administer the prescription once a day on a daily basis.
Then it was on to the objective. I finagled my way into the next room under the excuse of checking the newborn child’s pulse. The wet nurse was immediately sent for a glass of iced water with a leaf of salvia on top of it. When she left, I proceeded to pull my baby out of the bag, hoping he hadn’t died of suffocation. He seemed alright, but seeing his tiny face made me feel a little bit weird inside. “Good luck, buddy, I hope you are happy in life.”
With that, I lifted the real Fernando out of his golden cradle, putting him inside my bag and replacing him with my baby. Fortunately, the original Fernando did not make any noise on our way out of the Monastery, probably an early indication of his intellectual inferiority. When I gave him back to the nuns and thanked them for the loan, I couldn’t avoid saying: “Please give him a good life. All children are innocent and beautiful, even though they are going to be bad as men.” – “Don’t worry we will provide him with a good family, and he will have a good future.”
I pressed Mission Completed.
Location: 23 September 1890, Madrid
Context: The Armada officer and naval engineer Isaac Peral has built the first electrically powered military submarine in the world. It is able to launch torpedoes from beneath the water. This new military device will be of extreme importance in defending the overseas provinces from an increasingly aggressive USA, which wants to become a new imperial power at the expense of a decadent and weak Spain. Even though the project is initially welcomed and supported by the Spanish government, the intervention of foreign powers developing their own submarines, especially a dark figure called Basil Zaharoff, causes the project to be abandoned and forgotten. Zaharoff used the dirtiest tactics ever to make the project fail, including bribery, stealing and murder.
Procedure: We won’t annoy you with our instructions. You are a professional in this field. This is your thing. Just kill the bastard. Do it however you think is best.
Expected outcome: A flotilla with a minimum of 10 submarines is made, and 8 years later, during the Spanish-American war, the Spanish Armada manages to destroy the American fleet. Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Philippines, Marianas, Carolinas and Palaos will remain Spanish for a few more years, then they will become independent satellite states of Spain, and one day they will join the future Hispanic Union. The submarines will give Spain a technological edge over rival nations: the USA, the British and French Empires and the Second Reich. This could eventually be used to avoid World War I.
I was so happy to be in Madrid again… even though it was at the end of the nineteenth century. I couldn’t keep myself from whistling while cleaning the client’s shoes. That was my cover. I simulated being a shoe shiner outside el café Asturias, the favorite place for intellectuals, politicians and artists to discuss their ideas, and for arms traffickers and criminals like Zaharoff to make deals.
I waited patiently for him to get out, asking whether he would need my services. He said yes. Without much planning, I stabbed him in the femoral artery and then stuck the knife in his neck while the pavement turned red with blood.
I pressed the button and immediately appeared before my weird couple from the future. But there was an odd look on their faces… Actually, I was feeling kind of unwell now… Then I looked at my belly, and it was all red with blood. Now I remembered: That bastard Zaharoff had a tiny gun in his hand. He must have fired before I even noticed…I fell to the ground and both freaks tried to help me. “It looks as if this is the end, isn’t it?” – “Yes, I’m afraid it is, Restituto. Our computer cannot find you in any of the other 259 dimensions” – “You completed the three missions and have done such a great service to the whole Hispanidad, but we won’t be able to pay.” – “I knew you weren’t going to pay me, you freaks,” – I forced a smile and then all went dark.
“But there’s one thing we can do that you don’t know anything about, Resti. We will collect your consciousness and transmit it to another body. In fact, we already have a good candidate.”
I felt comfortable, warm, like I was floating, loved and happy… still in the dark. Then I felt immense pressure on my body, above all, in my head. An invisible hand was pushing me out of my place of happiness. I was in the dark, but then it all became an intense light. I couldn’t see anything, even open my eyes. The light was blinding. Many hands touched me. Outer space was extremely noisy. Then someone placed me on a warm and soft surface, cut my umbilical cord, and the noise went down enough to hear a familiar voice. “Isn’t this the most beautiful boy you’ve ever seen?” said Amelia. “Yes, but have you decided what we are going to call him?” She gave it a little thought and then said, “We will call him Alberto, like my grandpa. His name will be Alberto García Pérez.”
Transadaptation Volume 4 – Material Dissent
January: A Blinding Light and Then, All Darkness – Jonay Quintero Hernández (Spain)
February: The Opportunist – Lauren Voaden (United Kingdom)
March: A Stranger in my City – Alejandra Baccino (Uruguay)
April: A South African Soundtrack – Sarah-Leah Pimentel (South Africa)
May: Full Circle – Ina Maria Vogel (Germany)
June: La Lluvia en Bogotá – Adriana Uribe (Columbia)
July: Freedom – Krisztina Janosi (Hungary)
August: A Bus Ride – Svetlana Molchanova (Russia)
September: Transcendence – Armine Asryan (Nane Sevunts) (Armenia)
October: Motherhood – Marilin Guerrero Casas (Cuba)
November: To be announced – (hopefully) Gennady Bondarenko (Ukraine)
December: Open – Seyit Ali Dastan (Turkey)
Background – Context
Transadaptation Volume 3: Evanescent – Young Adulthood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2022)
Transadaptation Volume 2: Conceived – Childhood Transadapted, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2021)
Transadaptation Volume 1: In the Middle – Prelude to a Contemporary Transadaptation, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2020)
Peripatetic Alterity: A Philosophical Treatise on the Spectrum of Being – Romantics and Pragmatists by Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
La Syncrétion of Polarization and Extremes Transposée, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2019)
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2018)
L’anthologie of Global Instability Transpuesta, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2017)
From Wahnsinnig to the Loony Bin: German and Russian Stories Transposed to Modern-day America, (eds.) Angelika Friedrich, Yuri Smirnov and Henry Whittlesey (2013)
Emblems and stories on the international community
Perception by country – Transposing emblems, articles, short stories and reports from around the world
Cover photo: San Lorenzo, Spain – El Escorial – Hernan Gonzalez (Shutterstock)
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed