Chapter 17: Pain

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When Mara turned 13, she decided that she was entitled to at least one night free of torment, so she decided to sneak out around 7 PM and go see a movie with her friend Jessica. Her dad didn’t like her out after dark, so generally she didn’t sneak out until after he was asleep, around 9 or 10 PM. This night, however, she felt it was OK to risk his wrath if she was caught.

Before she left her room, she decided to take a few precautions. Using the webcam on her computer, she set up a video stream so she could hear what was going on. It was very rare her parents ever set foot inside her bedroom, usually they just called out to her and waited for her to answer. Using a bit of technical know-how, she rigged up the speakers in her room to play whatever she sent them through her cell phone. So this way, if her parents started calling out, she could placate them enough to get home and get back to her room before they would open the door. She thought it was a pretty brilliant plan, as many adolescents thing before the experience of the real world reminds them that things are seldom that easy.

She was right about one thing – the webcam certainly did allow her to hear what was going on. As the movie started, she inserted one earbud from her phone to keep an ear on her room at home, while the video streamed into her pocket.

As was her luck, that was the night her parents decided to call up to her at 8:30, and she heard it as she sat in the theatre. Springing up from her seat, she darted out into the hallway and out the exit. Jessica wasn’t at all shocked – she knew this was possible – however she was amazed at the speed with which Mara moved. Mara lived about 10 minutes from the movie theatre, so hopefully she’d make it home in time.

Desperately trying to not sound out of breath, she tapped on the button that would allow her to talk through her phone to the speakers in her room. Her mom was calling up to her, and she yelled back that she’d be down in just a minute. However something was wrong – Mom kept yelling. Frantically Mara raced home, wondering what was wrong with her setup. She briefly thought of calling the house phone from hers, under the ruse that she wasn’t able to come down right now but would be there in a moment, but knew that this angered her father, so she decided not to risk it. Another decision she’d regret later.

About 5 minutes from home she pulled her phone from her pocket and watched the video stream. It was no longer her mother just calling her, her dad had started yelling up as well. This was getting bad, and Mara prayed for a few more moments before her parents were motivated enough to get up and investigate. Sadly she didn’t get them. As she watched, her father burst into her bedroom, and instantly figured out what was going on. Unaware she was watching, his fury let loose as he screamed about his ungrateful daughter, using dozens of other words in the process that were far less complimentary. When she got outside her home, she could tell that things were much worse than they ever had been before, when she heard noises coming from the second floor clear out to the street. She briefly thought of running away for good – never opening the door to the pain that awaited. Now as she sat thinking of the story and telling it to Sara Beth, she wished she had. Instead she went into the house, found her bedroom room in shambles, and found her father waiting for her with a crazed angry look in his eye. It took several weeks for her to completely heal physically. Emotionally, she doubted she’d ever heal.

Sara Beth listened to the story, patiently waiting as Mara worked through the more difficult parts. At the end, she hugged Mara, which was not what Mara was expecting, but she wasn’t opposed to the idea either.

“Why did you tell me that story today?”, Sara Beth asked, “I don’t mean that it wasn’t something you shouldn’t have told me – don’t get me wrong – you can tell me whatever you need to – I’m just curious what brought it up”

“That”, Mara said as she pointed toward the mountains in the distance.

“What about them?”, Sara Beth replied. The mountains and their strange colors had moved into the ranks of the mundane for all except Mara, who pointed out their strange behavior the day before, and would today.

“There isn’t any activity today”, Mara said, “If the activity happens when Julie is active, she doesn’t seem to be very active right now”.

“Yeah, she doesn’t, but what does that have to do with the story”.

“The problem that night at my house was that I was too quiet. My mom told me later that they were used to me making noise – music, TV, something. When they heard nothing, the got suspicious and worried. The irony is that I thought about that in advance, and had music just loud enough to be heard outside the door set up to play while I was gone. Just one problem – before I left I forgot to turn my speakers on. So no music, and no “calling back” to Mom and Dad as they called me. I might have saved myself a lot of pain if I’d just checked that button on the front of the speaker.”

“Mistakes – we all make them”, Sara Beth said reluctantly.

“It was quiet – too quiet – just like those mountains”


 

As it turned out, the mountains didn’t stay dark for long. A few hours later, a few colors danced across their tops, and the group became hopeful that perhaps normality was returning. But the hope didn’t last long, as a blood red color appeared on the tops. Ryan, who came back earlier that day, began to nervously pace, hoping that a repeat of yesterday was not in store.

However about an hour after they watched the tops of the mountains begin to turn, Ryan began clutching his stomach. The same pain as yesterday came flooding back to him. It lasted approximately the same amount of time as it had the day before. As it ended, like clockwork, Sara Beth broke into tears, with G-ma following after her. Nothing had happened to the others.

That night, the group tried to make sense of the events.

“Is it going to keep happening?”, Sara Beth asked, “Well, I know no one knows if it will, but do you think it will?”

Ryan, exhausted from the ordeal, spoke up with a shaky but calm voice.

“I think it will keep going as long as whatever is bothering Julie keeps bothering her.”

“But what could that be?”, Sara Beth replied.

“Perhaps she’s being reminded of something each day, of something sad. Maybe she found out that you’re moving, Sara Beth”, Mrs. Corum offered.

“Or perhaps she isn’t doing very well in school, or her home life is a mess – both possibilities”, G-ma added.

“I guess so”, said Sara Beth.

Curiously absent from the conversation was Jamie, who appeared to be interested but not inclined to talk. Mara eyed her suspiciously.

“I just wish it didn’t target me”, Ryan said, “You know, maybe it could share the wealth”, flashing a slight grin. He was only half joking – at age 12 all ideals that may become altruism in the future are absent. Ryan would have given this torture to any of the others in a heartbeat. But unfortunately, he had no say in it.

“I don’t know what it means when one person is hurting and two others are crying”, Mrs. Corum began, “Unless somehow Julie is doing something with all three of you in the real world. Maybe it translates to us somehow”.

“Well, it would probably then go in order of when Julie sees us”, Ryan said, “She’d see me at school, then Sara Beth, and then G-ma later in the day”.

“Yeah, but she’s been doing that for months, if not longer, why are we feeling this now?”, Sara Beth replied.

Mrs. Corum had a theory on that.

“Ryan… I’m not quite sure how to put this…”, Mrs. Corum began, “Did you make fun of Julie outside of class?”

Ryan looked down, averting his eyes from any of the others. It was the obvious body language of guilt. He surprised himself in that regard – the pangs of guilt he’d felt before had now bloomed into full regret for his behavior in the past.

“Yeah… I kinda noticed she was walking home a certain way, and thought about where I could find her along the route and who I could take with me to have some fun with her, at least that’s what I thought it was in my head. Just some harmless ‘fun’”. He stopped himself before he let out anything remotely like an apology. He wasn’t completely weak willed quite yet, he told himself.

“You were doing this before you came here?”, Mrs. Corum asked, in confusion.

“No, I thought to do it closer to the end of school, when there was less chance I could get in trouble. I figured the teachers would be busy with things, and that Julie wouldn’t say anything since it would have been over in just a few weeks.”

“I think I know what’s happening after that”, Sara Beth said. The look on Ryan’s face was somewhat one of relief – Mrs. Corum hadn’t seemed to happy to hear what he had to say, and he briefly wondered if he was in for a verbal dressing down akin to what had happened in class weeks ago.

“What is that, dear?”, G-ma said, urging her on.

“Whenever Julie had a bad day at school, she’d tell me about at ‘Other Worlds’”, Sara Beth began, “And I’d always try to just listen and then try to make her feel better. But in the past few months, it’s been harder and harder to help her. Nothing I could really say could make her feel any better. I’d get really frustrated, and I think she started to realize that. She wouldn’t always talk to me about it – sometimes she’d even tell me ‘Oh, it’s just going to make you sad cause there is nothing you can do about it’, and I’d have to insist she keep going, telling her not to worry about me”.

Off in the distance, Mara felt a bit relieved hearing this story, understanding that, perhaps, Sara Beth truly had no ulterior motives. She simply was a caring soul.

Next to Sara Beth, G-ma looked up to speak.

“She’d come over to my place sometimes, on her way home from daycare, especially if it had been a bad day. I’d try to cheer her up too… and I think she felt the same way about my reactions. It’s frustrating when you can’t help someone you love”.

Mrs. Corum looked at both of them, and Ryan, and began piecing a theory together.

“Here’s my guess. The mountains turn red when Ryan begins taunting Julie, and Julie runs off, heading to daycare. While going there, she imagines what she might want to happen to Ryan, in retaliation. Later, while talking to both Sara Beth and G-ma, she feels guilty for burdening them with her story, and imagines how they must be feeling inside. I think Julie might have the ability to do something this world can’t do on it’s own: Change how we feel or do, perhaps even how we think.”

This thought took them all by surprise, even Jamie who was desperately trying not to be involved in the conversation, yet still needed to be close enough to hear it.

“I always felt bad”, Mara said, as she walked closer to the group, “I always felt bad when others suffered because of what I was going through. Felt somehow responsible”.

“There’s nothing I can do here”, Ryan said, “Just hope that maybe I stop doing things in the real world”.

They all looked at him and nodded. They’d noticed such a change in him after the first few weeks he’d been here, but were still not quite ready to accept he might be changing before their eyes. He wasn’t ready to accept that either.

As the conversation trailed off, they gazed up at the mountains. No real activity, other than a burst of light here or there. It was getting close to dim, and Mara looked at Sara Beth. They’d been sitting together the last few dims, talking about their past. Mara looked forward to those times, as did Sara Beth.

After they left the large group, in an uncharacteristic twist, Sara Beth opened up to Mara.

“I don’t want to cry anymore”, Sara Beth said, “I don’t think I can handle it”.

“I know how that is”, Mara said, soulfully, “I’ve been there too”.

“How did you get through it”, Sara Beth asked.

“I didn’t… I still cry a lot about my past”

“Maybe we can get through it together?”

“Maybe”

The two young women hugged, and then sat next to each other as the sky darkened.

“Sara Beth”, Mara began.

“Yes?”

“Jamie knows something about this”

“How do you know?”

“It’s written all over her. She didn’t say a word while you guys were talking. She knows something about all of this that she isn’t sharing. It may be something really important, but she isn’t going to share until someone forces it out of her”

“What do you mean?”

“Someone needs to push her – she’ll deny she knows it but I can see it so clearly. You don’t go on for half a decade trying to hide something without knowing what that looks like in other people”

“What should we do?”

“I don’t know… I don’t know if I can get it out of her alone. I’m still not sure who to trust around here, other than you”.

Sara Beth smiled, taking the compliment.

“I guess we’ll try to talk to her about it tomorrow”

Chapter 16: Lows and Highs

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Sara Beth knew she couldn’t tell Mara’s secret to the rest of the group, but at the same time, she also thought it was something Mara might want to mention at some point since it would, likely, get the others to stop wondering so much about her. Sara Beth reasoned that it must be quite difficult to have others talking about you all the time, wondering about your intentions, and whispering about every little action you did. It would drive Sara Beth nuts to know it was happening, however it didn’t seem to be bothering Mara very much. Sara Beth wondered if Mara simply didn’t notice. Should she tell her? Would that make it worse or better? And what if (And this really threw Sara Beth for a loop), Mara knew about it and really didn’t care. This caused a great deal of conflict within Sara Beth – it was the first time she had ever realized that perhaps it wasn’t important for others to approve of you – Mara certainly didn’t seem to be caring if the others talked about her.

Continue reading “Chapter 16: Lows and Highs”

Chapter 6: The Link

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Hi Everyone – before we get into Part 6, I just wanted to thank those who have been reading the novel so far. I’ve come up with a name for it – “Cinereous”. I hope that you’re enjoying the book so far. This chapter clears up a few big questions, and asks a few more. Remember, in the end we’ll be at 30 chapters, so we’re getting a decent way in, but there is a lot more to come! If you have a chance, shoot me a message on Twitter (@jonwestfall) or leave a comment!

Best,

Jon.

Shooting up like a bolt of lightning had hit her, Mrs. Corum blurted out “I think I know you”, toward Sara Beth’s general direction.

G-ma and Sara Beth were taken aback. They’d been together for about a week at that point, and had decided, mutually, that they’d spend most of the dim hours in silence. The only time this place didn’t mess with how you thought was when you could devote 100% of your attention to thinking, and so minimizing distraction was the goal. The only one who didn’t get the memo was Sonic, who from time to time would move around in his ball and require Sara Beth to pull him out and cradle him for a bit.

Sara Beth looked toward Mrs. Corum, subtly asking if she was talking to her.

“Yes, Sara Beth, I think I know you, or rather, I knew you, in the past, before this place.”

They’d been over a number of common questions in the previous week. The only thing they hadn’t done was an exhaustive listing of names. Sara Beth lived in the next town over from G-ma, and Mrs. Corum lived slightly north. They didn’t see any immediate connection. G-ma and Mrs. Corum had mentioned their shared link in Julie, yet Sara Beth hadn’t recognized the name. So again they launched into a long discussion about where they may have crossed paths.

“And the daycare center, Other Worlds, was where I met my best friend”, Sara Beth began, telling the story of the last day she could remember away from this place.

“‘Other Worlds’,” Mrs. Corum began, “I remember I had a few students who mentioned that place. Seems like an ironic name for all three of us to be saying given where we are right now!” They all laughed at the ludicrous observation. The people at ‘Other Worlds’ weren’t thinking of this place when they themed their classrooms and common spaces in foreign and space landscapes! I visited a few times when I’d drop students off at the request of their parents”.

Sara Beth then began the retelling of the fight between herself and her best friend, and both G-ma and Mrs. Corum took more interest than in the past – actively asking questions of things they didn’t understand. They both supposed that when Sara Beth had originally been found, with this as one of the first stories they’d heard, they didn’t think of it as critically as they might now, a week later. At the time all they knew was that a frightened little girl was upset, and had been more interested in her emotional wellbeing than the facts of the story.

“Sara Beth”, G-ma started, “What was your best friend’s name?”

Sara Beth looked a bit sheepish, and G-ma knew instantly that she’d asked a question with a less than obvious answer.

“Uh… I don’t think that’s important”, Sara Beth said, before launching into more of the story.

But when she naturally paused, G-ma again pressed the issue.

“I don’t know…” Sara Beth said casually, moving on in the story. This caught both Mrs. Corum and G-ma by surprise. Perhaps even Sonic too!

“Dear, you don’t know the name of your best friend?”, Mrs. Corum gently asked.

Sara Beth grew quiet. Finally she spoke.

“I never knew her name…”

“She never told you?”, G-ma asked.

“No….”, Sara Beth began, her speech shaky as she suppressed emotions of sadness and guilt, “You see…, we met at ‘Other Worlds’ 6 months ago, and we’d see each other every day. But when you first meet someone, they introduce themselves, and you introduce yourself, but you don’t always know they’re going to be your best friend”.

“And once you do…”, Mrs. Corum said.

“You feel stupid asking them what their name is”, Sara Beth concluded.

“Oh dear, we understand”, G-ma said. It was a common enough occurrence, the forgetting of a name, but in the world of a 12 year old, when names of classmates are known from first grade on, one doesn’t think to remember new names outside the classroom. There are no teachers to call on new friends, however, and it’s quite remarkable how little someone refers to themselves by name. Poor Sara Beth had grown to care about a friend deeply that she couldn’t even identify by name.

“I always kinda hoped she’d give me a card, but then when she did for my birthday, she just signed it with ‘your best friend and Sonic’s Aunt’”. The older women could not help themselves from giggling at the irony of the 12 year old’s ploy and it’s failure to work.

As they finished the story, a thought struck Mrs. Corum.

“G-ma, I think there is a similarity between your story of how you got here and Sara Beth’s”, she said.

G-ma hadn’t told Sara Beth the story of the sweater yet, and couldn’t see any sort of connection. After all, there were no hedgehogs or arguments in her story.

“What do you mean?”, she asked Mrs. Corum.

“Both of you were with other people. Both of you were talking with those people. And both of you had a memorable moment happen. For you”, she said as she gestured toward Sara Beth, “it was a fight that was a major event with your friend. For you”, as she motioned toward G-ma, “It was a moment with Julie where she beamed up at you with pride over your sweater. Both moments are things that people would look back upon in the future”.

The other two looked at Mrs. Corum skeptically.

“Shame you still haven’t come up with your story, honey, or else we might be further convinced!”, G-ma said to Mrs. Corum.

“I may have come up with my story…”, Mrs. Corum replied.

G-ma looked shocked. They’d been together for nearly 4 weeks at this point, and Mrs. Corum hadn’t shared this with her. She would have remembered – it was, after all, big news in the world they all lived in.

“Well… don’t leave us waiting!”, G-ma said with a tone that implied that this was definitely shared knowledge – there would be no secrets between the three of them.

“It’s embarrassing, and I’m afraid you’ll be mad at me”, she said to G-ma. G-ma was incredulous.

“How can I be mad at you? We didn’t meet until you came here”.

“Yes… but it involves Julie”.

They sat there for a few moments, wondering if Mrs. Corum would say more. Finally she did.

“I suppose there really isn’t anything I can do about it now. I just feel bad about it, still.”

“I promise I’ll keep my emotions in check”, G-ma said. In her mind, she ran through a list of all the potentially bad things that could have happened between a teacher and Julie, and was prepared for the worst.

“Julie has been a bit different for the past few months”, Mrs. Corum began, “She seemed to spend most of her time in a bit of a daze. It didn’t affect her schoolwork, but the other kids did start noticing. I was worried, so I talked with our school counselor, and she told me, confidentially, that Julie had gone through periods of inattentiveness, mood swings, and mania over her entire time in school. They generally passed without incident, but teachers were made aware of it so they weren’t surprised if the girl with the normally high grades suddenly checked out for a month, emotionally, or if she became overly social, or if she began to have boundary issues with other kids. Julie is a wonderful young woman, but she has these moments”

“You were afraid I’d be mad that Julie wasn’t perfect?”, G-ma asked, confused.

“Well, I didn’t you’d be happy about it, but that wasn’t what I was afraid of”, Mrs. Corum continued.

“A few weeks ago, another student in class, Ryan, began to notice Julie was, well, different. And he wasn’t happy to let it slide by. Each time she’d blurt out something in class, he’d make a wisecrack about ‘that crazy one’. I’d hush the children, but never do anything more. He attracted a small group of kids who began to scrutinize Julie for anything they could pounce on – you know how kids are – and they’d take the opportunity to point out her impulsive actions, her mood swings, her quietness even. I kept the classroom in order, but between teaching and managing everyone in the room, I never had much time to do anything else. Finally, one day, Ryan said something that struck a nerve with me. Julie had been working on an assignment that asked the students to imagine their future families. She’d drawn a picture of herself and her two children, and her husband. When it came time to present, she told the class that she wanted to have two kids with her charming husband. Ryan, upon hearing this, yelled out ‘As if anyone would want to marry you, you crazy ugly thing!’ Julie’s mood immediately dropped from ecstatic over her future plans to heartbroken, and she began crying.”

G-ma and Sara Beth attentively looked at Mrs. Corum as she paused.

“I lost it. I launched into a tirade against Ryan. The kind of tirade teachers aren’t supposed to launch into anymore, or at the least, launch into only in private with a student. I told him that he was being a horrible classmate to Julie, and a despicable person for saying such a thing. I told him that I would ask him to apologize if I felt his apology would be worth anything, but that I doubted it really did. I told him that he should be amazed if anyone in the class would ever want to be friends with him after such a mean spirited remark. By the time I was done, Julie’s tears had subsided, but Ryan’s had just begun. I emotionally tore down a 12 year old kid who was just acting like a 12 year old kid. A cruel 12 year old kid, but I mustered all of my might to be a cruel elementary school teacher in return.”

They sat there in silence while Mrs. Corum looked down at the ground. Tears rolled down her face.

“Everyone snaps, sometimes”, G-ma said, “I don’t know why you felt that you should worry about my reaction, it sounds like what you did was perfectly natural”.

Mrs. Corum looked up.

“Natural, perhaps, but not something I should have done. And I didn’t think you’d be mad at me for yelling at Ryan. I thought you’d be mad at me for not defending Julie earlier. In retrospect, I could have done a lot more to stop him before it ever reached that point. I failed Julie as a student, and I feel ashamed and embarrassed at my behavior. And the next thing I knew, after that, I was here. I never had a chance to make things right”

G-ma let a moment pass before speaking again.

“There is no point in chastising yourself for this again and again, it was a mistake – we all learn from mistakes”.


Sara Beth had sat there quietly through Mrs. Corum’s emotional story. Sonic sat idly by as well, almost as if he knew something important was happening, and that he shouldn’t interrupt. Both G-ma and Mrs. Corum had grown quiet, and Sara Beth knew that it was time to speak up.

“I think….”, She said as they looked toward her, “I think that I’ve heard that story before”.

“From who?”, Mrs. Corum asked. She feared that, if indeed they were copies, her present self my find herself in the unemployment line due to her little outrage, and that news may have spread of that fast. “Was a friend of yours in the class?”

“Yeah, I think so, I remember her telling me the story”, Sara Beth replied. “And another thing…”, Sara Beth took in a deep breath, “I think I know the name of my best friend”

Putting the pieces together, G-ma and Mrs. Corum looked at Sara Beth.

“My best friend’s name is, well after the fight, was, Julie”.

They paused, with Mrs. Corum breaking the silence.

“Julie told you about this?”, she said quietly.

“Yes, but you should know how she told me”, Sara Beth said with a upbeat note, “She told me all about how her teacher had stood up for her that day. That the other kids thought she was weird, and she’d been really upset, but that her favorite teacher finally told them off. She didn’t even remember everything you said, because she was still upset, but by the time she felt better, the rest of the kids were in shock and you were sitting behind your desk. She said that after school you held both her and Ryan back. You apologized to her for not stepping in earlier. She didn’t know what you said to Ryan”. The memories Sara Beth spoke from had become crystal clear over the past several minutes. Almost as though they’d been dusted clean and placed in the forefront of her mind.

“So I did make it right… but my copy was made before that”, Mrs. Corum mused.

“Again with the copies”, G-ma said. “Its as good a theory as any, but it’s a crazy one”.

By this point, the dimness had passed and it was about halfway through the lighter cycle of the day. The women had stood and idly began walking toward their latest destination – a spot still very much far off in the distance. As they walked, their conversation turned toward lighter matters. They all knew their common link, Julie, and as best they could place, they’d come here during emotional moments in her life. They joked that perhaps Julie was a supernatural being that could zap them away from life and seal them up here somehow. But still they had no concrete idea about where ‘here’ might be.

“Julie loved recess”, Mrs. Corum said absentmindedly, “It would be about recess time now, I suppose”.

“She’d tell me about how she would play with her few friends at school during recess – they’d make up stories to tell each other”, Sara Beth added.

“She was all about stories, even as a little girl”, G-ma concluded. Of the three, the situation regarding Julie was probably hardest on G-ma. It had been so long since G-ma had seen her, and while hearing about her from Mrs. Corum and Sara Beth was lovely, it also stung.

As they walked, something in the sky caught Sara Beth’s eye. “What is that?”, she said as she pointed up.

A flash of coppery shimmer appeared above them. They’d barely had a chance to talk about it before the earthquake began. Similar to the one that Mrs. Corum and G-ma had experienced weeks before, however much more severe. The tremors knocked the women back and forth, far enough from each other as to not be able to hear. Periodically they’d believe it to be over and get up to wander nearer to the rest of the group, only to have a tremor knock them down once more. Finally the rain came, dropping buckets of water onto their heads. The ground couldn’t soak it up fast enough, with Sonic’s little ball floating slightly from time to time as water pooled under him. Thankfully once the rain had stopped, and the ground was still, and the dimness came for the night, the women had time to gather their wits. All three were thankful that they couldn’t feel the pain they would inevitably been afflicted with if they were still on earth. G-ma and Mrs. Corum wondered if that one might have been fatal if they hadn’t been here.

“I wonder what happened”, Sara Beth asked.

“No idea, but whatever it was, it was severe”, Mrs. Corum replied.

“We’ve been talking so much about Julie”, Sara Beth continued, “That I thought of how her moods would change from time to time. They’d start out as if nothing was wrong. Then a burst of intense emotion, and then she’d end up crying. It was weird that the weather here was almost exactly the same as that”

The women thought about this for a moment, when G-ma broke the silence.

“Mrs. Corum, I think the copy idea may truly be right… I think I know where we are”

“Where?”, both Sara Beth and Mrs. Corum asked at the same time.

“You know how it is when you’re thinking about someone?”, G-ma began. The others nodded. G-ma spoke slowly and purposefully.

“It’s almost as if you place them in your mind, and you think about how they’d react to a situation, how they’d be if they were there. Sometimes you have them say things and control their behavior. Other times you just imagine them to have them near you during tough times.”

“What if sometimes you stole them away for yourself later? What if you kept a copy of them to recall in the future. We would have no idea how many times we’d been copied. How many of us there would be out there. We’d go on living our lives as if nothing had happened, with clones of us living out their days in the minds of others.”

“They wouldn’t feel any physical feelings, because they weren’t physically people”, Mrs. Corum added.

“They wouldn’t have any needs – I don’t think of my friends as having to eat, or drink, or use the bathroom, when I remember them in my mind”, Sara Beth said.

“Ladies… I think I know where we are… We’re in the mind of my granddaughter, your student, your friend, and little Sonic’s Aunt: Julie McKay”

Chapter 3: Similarities

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Mrs. Corum sat for a long time while G-ma happily air knitted. Finally she’d had enough.
“You know, I would have taken a nap to escape this, by now”, she said.
G-ma looked up from her knitting. “Funny how we realize that a lot of the time we spent napping, or eating, or any other mundane thing before wasn’t because of our need to do those things, but rather our need to not do them – to find anything else to occupy us”.
“Do you think we’re dead?”, Mrs. Corum asked.
It was the first time the thought had crossed her mind, and she mentally chastised herself for not thinking of it earlier. G-ma, however, appeared to have already thought it out.
“No matter what spirituality someone has, they imagine the afterlife to be different than this, honey”, G-ma started, “At the very least, there should be some torment or joy, purpose or interaction with some part of the Universe. Best I can tell, we’re not dead, although the thought crossed my mind that we might be stuck somewhere in-between life and death. In the end though, it’s those weird feelings we have when we’re near a spot we’ve been to before, or my emotional warmth, that lead me to think we’re still very much alive. I also had concluded that if I were dead, I’d meet someone at some point. You kinda destroyed that argument when you arrived”, G-ma ended with a smile.
“I don’t know why I didn’t wonder about being dead earlier”, Mrs. Corum mused, “Now that it crosses my mind, it seems like one of the first things I should have considered.”
“I didn’t think of it for at least a year”, G-ma replied. “It’s almost as if this place actively fights that thought away from you”.
“Speaking of actively fighting, that’s all I feel like I’ve been doing for the last few hours – fighting to remember a time before this place”, Mrs. Corum said softly.
“Damnedest thing, isn’t it?”, said G-ma.
“I kept coming back to one thought – if you and I are the only two here, is it because we’re somehow linked?”, Mrs. Corum asked.
G-ma paused for a moment, as if this time she was the one to have the revelation late to the game.
“I suppose it’s possible”, G-ma conceded. For someone who seemed to know a lot of this world, she appeared shaky in her convictions for the first time in Mrs. Corum’s presence.
“Maybe we should talk about our past, as much of it as we can remember”, Mrs. Corum suggested.
The women sat and spoke at length for several hours, each recalling their own personal history. G-ma had been born about 5 years earlier than Mrs. Corum, and they found they were both from the same part of the country – even being born in the same hospital. Aside from that link, though, most things were different. Mrs. Corum had worked all her life, never married, never had children, and socialized mostly with her students in the classroom, living a solitary life outside of it. G-ma married young to the love of her life, Edgar, had one child, John, and socialized almost exclusively with her husband and child until Edgar died. G-ma hadn’t ever held a job (well, a real job anyway, she’d worked as a teenager at a hamburger stand), and the only children she saw on a regular basis were Julie and Jamie.
Mrs. Corum was still having trouble recalling names of her students, so she began describing them. There was the little boy who was preoccupied with peeling glue from the top of glue bottles, cleaning the whole classes supply out of some sort of prepubescent OCD need. There was the little girl who couldn’t pronounce the word bird correctly, despite loving the creatures. And so on. G-ma humored Mrs. Corum as she told her stories, pushing back the urge to relate each one to an experience with her grandchildren.
“And this year, I’ve got one with one heck of an imagination”, Mrs. Corum started, “She tells the most fantastical stories, with such detail. It’s almost as if she plans them all out and rigorously rehearses them before hand”.
G-ma couldn’t resist this time.
“Oh, that reminds me of Julie so much”, G-ma started, “She would come over to my place when she was just learning to put together full sentences, and I’d listen to these broken stories that she’d tell.”, G-ma smiled while recalling the memory.
“Kids do that so well”, Mrs. Corum said, “Often they take what they see on TV and reinterpret it, re-telling it so that it scarcely resembles the original”.
“If that’s what Julie was doing, then she was mighty good at it”, G-ma replied, “I could never quite figure out where she got these ideas from. Her father wasn’t the most creative person, so I doubt it was from him. And her mom didn’t have time for such things either – too busy working. Such a shame when families break up and the woman must work”
Mrs. Corum wasn’t exactly a diehard feminist, but the last line tweaked her just a bit. She might have wanted to have had a life like G-ma’s, but she was happy in hers. By the time she re-focused herself on what G-ma was rambling on about, she was surprised to hear that G-ma had refocused her story back on little Julie.
Suddenly, as if a bolt of lightning had struck her, Mrs. Corum broke the story.
“My student’s name is… Julie”, she said.
G-ma didn’t waste any time “An interesting coincidence, dear, maybe all Julies are inherently creative?”.
“What is your last name”, Mrs. Corum asked.
“You don’t think that’s really possible”, G-ma said as she realized what Mrs. Corum was insinuating.
“Is this world supposed to be possible?”, Mrs. Corum retorted.
“Alright… McKay. My last name is McKay, as is John’s, as is Julie and Jamie’s”
The look in Mrs. Corum’s eye told the whole story. The women, who up until that point had been walking absentmindedly while talking, stopped, sat down, and looked at each other in disbelief.


G-ma hadn’t felt so free since before she came to this place. It was as if the weight of the world she’d been carrying for so many years was lifted.
They talked for hours, filling in each other’s memory. Verifying it was the same Julie McKay was first up, and everything checked out. From there it went to how Julie was doing, and by extension, Jamie. Mrs. Corum didn’t know Jamie, other than to know that Julie had a little sister a grade behind. G-ma was ecstatic to hear that Julie was alive, well, and a good student in Mrs. Corum’s class. They were so caught up in the discussion of Julie that they didn’t think about what their connection meant to each other, until finally Mrs. Corum remembered a small detail.
“Last Halloween, all of the children dressed up as usual, but Julie said something I didn’t even think about until now”.
“What was that?”, G-ma asked, intently. She waited to hear the answer, as she had waited on edge during the entire conversation. She craved more knowledge about her granddaughters, and badgered Mrs. Corum with her eyes to spill the beans as quickly as possible.
“Well, Julie dressed up as a witch, and when I asked her about her costume, she mentioned that her grandmother had helped her make it.”
“Wow, I only met her mom’s mom once, but she didn’t seem like the kind who had the skills or desire to help out with a halloween costume”, G-ma replied.
“That’s just it”, Mrs. Corum replied, “I think she was talking about you”
“How could she? She probably barely remembers me – I’ve been gone so long”
“What if you weren’t gone?”
“What do you mean? Of course I’m gone, I’m here with you”
“It sounds crazy”, Mrs. Corum conceded, “But what if, somehow, we were copied.”
“You on about aliens again? You can’t copy someone!”, G-ma replied harshly.
“But there isn’t any other way this makes sense. Think about it. If you had disappeared when she was 5, don’t you think that would have made news and a bit impact on a little girl? But she never mentioned it, and I never saw a news story about a local woman missing”
“You wouldn’t remember a news story about me from 7 years back! And kids are resilient, she probably made up a story in which I went away”, G-ma said in return.
“I don’t know”, Mrs. Corum mused, “I think there is something way stranger going on here than we know already”.
The ludicrous nature of the statement caused both of them to smile and laugh. It seemed way stranger than a world that existed in tones of gray, where you couldn’t feel pain except in your emotions, where you didn’t need to breathe or eat, where you didn’t sleep… How could something be even stranger than that?
After several minutes, G-ma spoke.
“I guess anything is possible, since this place even exists… and if you’re right, than I’m even more relieved than I was when I heard Julie was OK. I’m relieved because apparently, somewhere, I might exist… OK… maybe I might even get back there some day”
“Let’s not run too far with it”, Mrs. Corum replied, “It was just a thought, and as you said, it’s a bit unlikely that I’d even remember those things from years ago”.
“Yes, but I believe sometimes that you need to choose what you want to believe in, or else you’re going to go mad”, G-ma said quietly. “And I might just choose to believe that a world exists where everyone is OK, with the exception of clones of you and I, which are stuck here”.
“Well, it seems as reasonable an explanation as any”, Mrs. Corum said.
The rest of that day was filled with more discussion of Julie, Jamie, and some shared connections both ladies had. Mrs. Corum had met Julie’s mom and dad, knew they were divorced and had even met the man Julie’s mom was dating. G-ma, despite feeling that her own son wasn’t the best parent in the world, scoffed at the idea that the girls might have a stepfather at some point.
They had begun walking again, and eventually Mrs. Corum realized they had gone all the way back to where she had arrived in this world, days ago. Their mental map of the space they inhabited had begun to form a bit, and while they had no idea how big the space was, they at least found they could recognize the subtle changes in ground gradation, and tones of gray in the sky. What a crazy situation – this world that was so foreign was beginning to have some orderliness to it. Upon arriving at Mrs. Corum’s old spot, the two decided to turn sharply 90 degrees and head in a new direction. They even joked about spending the rest of their days just devoted to mapping this place out, like an intrepid and cursed modern-day Lewis and Clark expedition. That is if Lewis and Clark were female… and didn’t need to stop to rest.


The journey of the intrepid explorers could best be described as monotonous. Day in, day out, they wandered. Occasionally they’d decide to switch directions, and sometimes they’d quiz each other about the mental map they were building in their head. They became experts at the subtle differences in terrain they found. A 2% grade drop was exciting, and splotches in the sky that resembled something were named accordingly. An equivalent of naming passing clouds, yet those clouds remained the same whenever one returned to that spot.
Mrs. Corum did, however, begin to notice some of the same things G-ma had spoken about earlier. Sometimes the ground did seem to shake slightly. Sometimes Mrs. Corum could easily dismiss this as her own stumble, but other times her and G-ma would both stop and look to each other, acknowledging what they both had just felt.
The two also noticed that the dimming seemed in some cases to be darker, and in other cases, it seemed to occur too early, or last for just a short amount of time. G-ma swore it had always been pretty predictable, so this was exciting news, if for nothing other than it indicated something different than the norm.
“Do you think there is an edge, somewhere”, Mrs. Corum asked G-ma one day.
“You know, sometimes I think there has to be”, G-ma replied. “And then I think about how the Earth wouldn’t have an edge if there wasn’t so much water… one could just keep walking around it, eternally”.
“True, although I think we’re still quite away from walking around the Earth, distance wise”, Mrs. Corum replied.
“Especially since we like to double back sometimes”, G-ma said with a laugh.
As they shared the moment, they both saw something quite unexpected – the sky, normally tones of ashy gray, began to take on a more coppery tone to it. They both stood, in awe, as colors they hadn’t seen began to wash over the area above their heads.
“Did this ever happen…”, Mrs. Corum asked.
“No… nothing like this…”, G-ma replied.
“Did you feel that…”, Mrs. Corum asked.
“Yes”, G-ma replied.
The feeling Mrs. Corum spoke of was a minor ache in her soul. The sort of way you feel when something is wrong but you just can’t put your finger on it.
“Same way I felt the day John called me to tell me the marriage was over”, G-ma began. “Just knew something was off that day. People would tell me I was crazy if I’d told it to them, but I knew a phone call was coming. I also knew it wasn’t going to be as bad as it could be, but it was bad – what’s the word for that kind of thing?”
“Foreboding”, Mrs. Corum replied, “Its one of the challenge words my 6th graders learn during their weekly spelling lesson. I always put it around the end of the year, and make an example of final examinations giving one a foreboding sense”. She tried to force a laugh, however the very real sense of foreboding she felt prevented that from happening.
Suddenly, the ground began to move. It moved faster and harder than both women had expected, and they lost their balance and tumbled to it.
“That would have broken a hip, if we were back home”, G-ma said as they both righted themselves and sat on the still shaking ground.
“How far out are we from where we both started?”, Mrs. Corum asked. G-ma always had the slightly better mental map. G-ma thought for a moment.
“About 2 days journey from my old spot, about 3 days from where you began”, she replied as she gestured toward each of the locations she mentioned.
“I wonder if we would have felt this there”, Mrs. Corum mused.
“Good question… this is pretty far out for us, maybe this area just gets that sky color regularly and these… tremors”, G-ma conceded.
And then, something neither of them had dreamed was possible occurred. It began to rain.
The rain came slowly at first, before it gradually increased to a moderate downpour. The women had nothing they could hide under, and thus just sat there, as the water washed over them. The ground seemed to soak it up, ending all fear they might have had of swimming back to their original spots.
“Why now”, G-ma said.
“Why not now?”, Mrs. Corum replied.
“I suppose – but for 8 years this place has been dry as a bone. Maybe once or twice the ground felt a bit soggy, but I always thought I was imagining that”.
“Perhaps it never rained where you used to stay”, Mrs. Corum offered.
“I guess…”
Gradually the rain let up, and the two women stood to take stock of the situation.
It was then they noticed that neither was water logged in anyway. Sure, they’d felt the rain, but their clothing was dry to the touch. Their hair was the same it had always been. They didn’t feel particularly cold, despite the normally comfortable temperature not going up.
“I’d expected it to be like coming into an air conditioned building after a storm”, Mrs. Corum said as they began walking again.
“Yeah, that cold feeling you get, even though the temperature inside is just fine”, G-ma replied.
“Do you think we should keep exploring, or should we head back to one of our spots?”, Mrs. Corum asked.
“Why would we head back?”
Mrs. Corum didn’t have an answer. It had been a crazy few days. First they’d found they had a mutual connection in Julie, then they’d seen colors in the sky, and finally they’d been rained on. Perhaps heading back to her original spot was a way of seeking safety.
“I don’t know”, Mrs. Corum finally replied, “I really don’t know”
“It’s starting to get to you, isn’t it, dear?”, G-ma asked with a knowing smile.
“I suppose it is. Is this what happens before a mental breakdown here?”, Mrs. Corum asked.
“Well, I’ve had my share of them, but they never included hallucinated weather events”, G-ma replied.
“Maybe there is a first time for everything”, Mrs. Corum said.
It would be the last words she audibly spoke for several hours, perhaps even days. She felt the frustration mounting and it wasn’t going to go away by returning to her original spot. It just needed to be dealt with over time. G-ma gave her space, both metaphorically and physically, trailing her as they continued to explore the world.

Science Fiction in 2015 – Sadly Subtlety Need Not Apply

Karey & I are watching Star Trek Deep Space Nine, and we just finished the three episode arc that starts the second season (The Homecoming, The Circle, The Siege). I haven’t watched those episodes in about 15 years, and you know what impressed me? The extreme lack of something: Explosions. 



You see, back when I was growing up, you could have a story unfold over 135 hours with just a couple of small firefights (4 that I can think of) and some limited effects. The story was the point, it’s what people tuned in for. The eye candy was… well, just eye candy. Today I don’t think any network or producer would let that slide (One could argue this was exactly what made TNG & DS9 special: Lack of a network overseer). Today you’re much more likely to find directors like Peter DeLuise who scream “B-I-G-G-E-R” – if we don’t see things blowing up and people shooting for at least five minutes at a time, it’s not worth it. 

Which is a shame. When I think about the influence Star Trek had on my early life, I realize that I found it far more interesting to take the non-force option into account to get where I wanted. Sure, I was big enough that I could use force – be physically intimidating – but that just led to consequences. Usually short-term gain and long-term pain.  Pull a page from the Picard playbook and you get where you want to be with little collateral damage (usually). I think we’ve lost some of that in recent years – we’ve forgotten that we can use diplomacy, cunning, words and subtle actions. When I think of my leisure activities now – which are principally centered around spending time with others and learning about them, I see the influence of Trek. Thank you Star Trek, for teaching me as a young adult to not only enjoy story-based Sci Fi, but also story-driven life.

Adonit Customer Service Rocks

Over a year ago I bought an Evernote Jot Script stylus by Adonit, and while it had excellent build quality, I could never quite get it to work right. I chalked it up to the fact that I must be holding it wrong or some other issue, and it slowly fell into disuse. Prompted by a friend I recently pulled it out and found evidence online that a very small number of users actually had the same problems that I did, and that there may have been a manufacturing defect in a small number of first-run units. I had pre-ordered my Jot Script the day it was announced, so I figured I’d look into it.

Long story short, after an email of troubleshooting and a video I made with my phone to show the problems I was having, Adonit’s customer service sent me a new stylus that works PERFECTLY AS ADVERTISED. I’m pretty psyched! Thanks Adonit for covering something even after the warranty period had technically expired. I’ll be a repeat buyer now for sure!

I Definitely Grew Up in Ohio

I’ve joked about this before, but a while back it made news that Ohio was the “sweariest” state in the US. Apparently those of us who hail from the Buckeye state swore in 1 out of every 150 phone conversations in the study. Karey & I had great fun talking about this study, peppering our words with profanities beyond what I feel comfortable printing on my blog. And while we joked about it, I wondered if there was any truth to it. Sure, I can swear (I grew up the son of a salesman who hated people, so I heard a lot of swearing), but can I really swear better than my non-Ohioan peers?

By: stockicide

Tonight I was editing some old writing of mine, in preparation to publish it on this blog. These are old stories that I never actually published on the blog, and I figured I might as well put them up as a sort of reminiscing over my childhood. And you know what? I had to edit that article something fierce! It sounded exactly like I would tell a story, not as I would print a story (since I like to keep my editorial tone on here G rated as much as possible). I suppose there is something to that study – if left to my native tongue, I will unleash a string of profanity quite epic. Next time I joke with my students that I’m showing amazing restraint by not swearing in my lectures, I suppose I might not be exaggerating!

Ladies, If Your Man Doesn’t Want Sex, Just Drug and/or Rape Him

A few months ago I posted about finding a forum post (Which I’ll link to if you want to read the entire thread) which majorly creeped me out. Long story short: Woman’s husband doesn’t have a very active sex drive (or maybe just motivation to have sex with her). She asks for advice. Amid some semi-useful stuff comes the suggestion to… well… rape him.

Screen Shot 2012-08-17 at 8.39.23 AM

Tonight I was posting a comment on Facebook and thought of this post, so I went back to the forum, and I found another piece of advice.

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 10.09.41 PM

 

So if you’re not willing to rape him, you could just drug and frustrate him. Probably not going to get you a rape conviction, but it is probably good enough for domestic abuse.

Now I’m not going to pretend that this is the only double standard in the world, but honestly, if you switch this entire conversation around, it’s really really disturbing. (Of course there are some that still aren’t sure what rights people should have to consent, especially if they dress a bit too sexy – just ask many of my Indian friends who are concerned about this issue in their country).

Others have caught on to this creepiness, of course few in the forum actually admit they’re advocating illegal behavior or take such concerns seriously. Heck, one woman admits to the ‘cuddle’ trick:

Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 10.26.09 PMIf I were “The bf” I wouldn’t go into the bedroom ever again. I’d also stop accepting prepared food, and find someone a bit less inclined to joke about raping me.

 

 

Jon’s “Broken” Day

So I should start this post by noting that as of 7:24 AM this morning, Saturday, “Broken” day has been resolved. Amazingly. So however horrific this ‘bad day’ story sounds, at least I believe it has a happy ending.

Broken glass © by liknes

Yesterday started out like any other Friday. Little did I know that it was the day that most of technology and mechanical interaction were gunning against me. I peacefully woke up, worked out, showered, and was excited to teach on a Friday for the first time in 5 years. Karey even woke up early with me, and offered to make me breakfast.

“Sure”, I said, “Just make me a couple of pop tarts”.

About 10 minutes later, she arrived with said pop tarts, which were burnt around the edges.

“Sorry – I don’t know how they got so dark so quick – I’ll eat them if you want, and make you new ones”. My wife is great like that – she’s willing to remake something for me and even masochistically eat the ‘bad’ food so it doesn’t go to waste. I declined said offer, and just ate the crispy parts first to get rid of them. In retrospect, I should have seen this as an omen of the day ahead.

I arrived at work around 9, and at 9:45 I headed off to my class. The clock in the back of the classroom was running slow, so my colleague ran a bit over on his class. No problem, I got in, got set up, and was off and rolling by 10:01.

Then at about 10:30, everything died.

And by everything, I mean the computer, monitor, and projection system. My notes disappeared into the ether of thrown breaker. My students rejoiced, and I tried to ad-lib, recalling my lecture as best as possible. The custodian in the building checked in with me every couple of minutes, asking if she’d thrown the right switch to bring my class back to life, which in a way only made things more vexing. Now I’m trying to recall my lecture outline from memory, and just as I get rolling, I need to break to see if the power is back on. At one point, I simply looked at my students and explained:

Listen, I view this as “I’m telling you the story of the lecture”, and I apologize for the distractions. It’s sorta like telling a story to a child and having the book suddenly explode. It throws you off

After the students got a good laugh, and about 10 minutes, the computer came back on, and I was back in business. Not a horrible event, but one that was annoying.

So I played ‘catch-up’ as best I could, noting where I left off to resume on Monday. I returned to my office, and found an email, displayed below:

Hmm… so that’s why it was a bit warm in here. Oh well, at least it’s only in the 80s today, not the 90s as usual. And I have a little fan, so I make due.

The rest of the work day was pretty uneventful. The A/C got fixed, the second “show” (a.k.a. lecture) went smoother, and I left work around 5. I wanted to get home quick because a new “toy” was waiting for me. You see, after 5 years, the dyed-in-the-wool geek in me finally decided to buy and activate a current-generation iPhone. And it was arriving today.

So, anxious geek Jon gets home, checks the mail, and no iPhone. Karey was out shopping, so I assumed she got the mail first. I figured I’d check the tracking information when I got to my computer, however upon returning to my computer, I am distracted by a very loud buzzing noise coming somewhere in the sea of technology of both my and Karey’s desk (which are back to back). I dismiss the buzzing in favor of looking up the tracking number, and see an “exception” – “notice left”. This makes no sense – we have locked mailboxes here – why wouldn’t USPS drop the package? I start to get angry. Post offices here are not open on Saturday, so if it’s sitting at the post office, it will be there until Karey picks it up Monday during the day.

While I wait for her to get home, to see if she might actually have said notice or package, I decide to figure out the buzzing issue. I check the two small desk fans, neither are on. I check Karey’s laptop, it’s fine. Finally I decide to turn off my monitor, and it goes away.

I turn the monitor back on. And nothing happens.

Now I’m really stressed. My monitor is a 27” Apple Cinema Display, which I (in a delirious state and after receiving a consulting payment) paid nearly $1,000 for last year. I intend for it to last quite awhile, and shutter at the thought of lugging it in for service (especially since my nearest Apple store is 3 hours away, and I don’t know if authorized repair shops take AppleCare). I mess with the plugs, power cable, etc.. and nothing works. I am now sad, angry Jon.

Karey arrives home with my iPhone – it had been left, the postal service website was wrong (And they wonder why people find their service sub par). I figure if one Apple product is broken, I might as well play with another. Since moving to our new apartment, my T-Mobile service has absolutely sucked in the building and at our pool and fitness center. Since it’s my only phone, I’ve investigated multiple options to get around this limitation (VoIP, etc…) but nothing has worked. Most of my phones don’t have T-Mobile’s WiFi Calling, so I decided a few weeks ago (in a moment of rage) that I was just going to dump T-Mo after 9 years, 9 months of service. Surprisingly, I found that Verizon would give me everything I was currently using for a cheaper rate, so my mind was made up.

So yesterday I took my used iPhone 4s (which I bought on eBay after verifying the ESN was clean) to the Verizon store and got it activated on a month-to-month service basis (Because I have a feeling a new iPhone might be coming out soon… that I’d like to use a subsidy for). The whole process seems to go smoothly, the number ports, and my 4s is up and running. Karey and I grab dinner, and head home.

I arrive back at my desk to look at the giant paperweight which used to be my monitor. Figuring that now was as good a time as any to call Apple and see what they have to say (And since I now have cell coverage, I can do that confidently), I dial them up.

And the call connects!

And there is no audio!

Yea, my first night on Verizon, and the calls have no audio incoming or outgoing. I freak out. Did my new iPhone have some weird defect related to the phone’s radio audio channels? The rest of the phone works fine. Speaker works fine. Mic works fine. No audio. Grr….

I pulled up Twitter, searched “Verizon”, and find nothing of note. So it’s just me.

After an hour of frustration, multiple reboots, and much frustration, I search Twitter again, and find 1 tweet. Here’s the conversation I had with the gentleman:

By Midnight, my “wiggin” service was fixed. I head to bed, figuring that I’ll deal with the monitor tomorrow.

This morning my eyes popped open at 7 AM (Oh well, I’ll sleep when I’m dead), and I stumble out to my desk with my non-wiggin phone. Figure I’ll give the monitor one more shot. Nothing.

After my macbook finishes booting, something prompts me to try the monitor yet again. And for some weird reason… it works.

So I power cycle a few times, and it comes back each time. No problem. In fact, I’ll do it right now just to tempt the Apple gods.

And it came back again. Hopefully the issue was transient and now we’re back to “normal”.

So, to recap, here’s what broke yesterday:

  • My pop tarts
  • The power in my classroom
  • The A/C in my office
  • The United States Postal Service’s method of tracking packages
  • My ludicrously expensive Apple Cinema Display
  • America’s largest network

Here’s hoping that today isn’t a repeat!

The Pirate and The Butterfly (And The Man)

So those of you who noticed my Short Story of the Day project a few months back probably realized that I am much more comfortable with writing than drawing. I tell the anecdote time and time again that I have no idea how someone who has artists for parents can’t muster up more than a decent stick figure. But last night I found an app that gives me hope (Well, one of many apps that help out loser artists like me): My Story Creator, an app that recently went from the horribly high price of $0.99 to free, so I downloaded it.

And here’s my first story. It’s a work in progress, and has a cliffhanger ending for sure! (Click each picture to enlarge)