Tuesday, July 17, 2018

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update for 7/16/18: Meeting Mom

Get the most recent draft here:

fe2018.pete.ink

Read the latest words below this line:


So, Mom could see us through the window in the door, so, I was a little bummed she wasn’t immediately smiling as she opened the front door to the small, three bedroom house she and dad had lived in for the last four years.

“Is the world ending?” she said smiling softly. 

I awkwardly cleared my throat as Jill made a noise that was one-half scoff and one-half giggle.

“What else could get both of you to come see me?”

Jill smirked at me and I rolled my eyes. “Mom, Jill and I got back in touch and I thought you would want to know.  I thought you’d be happy to know.”

“You couldn’t just call or email or text? Isn’t that always what you want me to do rather than have a real interaction with you? AFK, I believe you two say?”

Away From Keyboard. This was like a punch to the gut. Here we were reaching out, trying to have an “AFK” relationship but she has to be negative.

“That’s what I say, Mom. Not Jake. He has a life AFK. He has friends, a non tech job and sees the sun on a regular basis."

"Can we come in, Mom?" I finally blurted out. She backed in, leaving the door open for us.  As I waved Jill past me, letting her go in first, she muttered, "Like I s-s-said--she's always with the n-negative!"

As I entered I made a declaration. "I have a new rule for you, Mom.  You need to follow it for as long as you can.  Only make positive, encouraging comments.  No negativity about my own, or Jill's choices in life, OK?"

"What?  I'm never negative!  You two don't know me very well!"

"B-b-buzzzzz, you lose, Mrs. Rivera. Thanks for playing." Jill said smiling through a smirk.

"I don't know what you're talking about.  I love you both and had no problem when you decided to be gay, Jacob, or you, Jill, when you decided to run off with your technology.  I suppose I should be happy you didn't meet some terrible man who forced himself on you and got you pregnant."

That felt like a punch to my gut--I can only guess how it felt to Jill.

"OK, this game was clearly not a game for us to bother with," I said.  "Mom, can we just have a pleasant visit, please?"

Mom looked to me and her face cracked a warm smile. "Of course."

Monday, July 16, 2018

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update for 7/15/18: How can you go home again if you can't agree what "home" is?

Just a quick reminder: pretty much everything you're going to read on this blog or its PDFs is an absolute first draft.  In most cases, you're reading these pages before even I do as I write them and post them without even checking for typos.  The whole point is to write every day and worry about editing later.  If you want to read something from me that has been proofread and edited (WOW!), please check out manfromzero.com and buy my most recent novel.  It's good and takes place in the same story universe as Fire Escape--just way in the futrure.  In the meantime, if you want to make it easier for me to write, why not support me on Patreon? Just go here: patreon.com/petenicholls. Don't want to commit to Patreon?  Then buy me a cup of coffee!  Or hay, just let me know that you like my stuff.  That means so much, too. Find me on TwitterIG, or FB.

Get the most recent draft here:

fe2018.pete.ink

Read the latest words below this line:


“We’re going home, Jill—you’re not cat going to the vet to be put down,” I said in the back seat of the ride share.

“Home? That place is hardly my home, Jacob. C-c-come on.”

“It’s where our mother lives. It’s close enough.”

“Jacob, when was ‘where our mother lived’ EVER a home? In fact, any place our mother and father were was pretty much invariably a horrible place I’d never want to call home.”

“Yeah, well, dad’s gone now, so you’ve got 50% less of an excuse to not want to go to Mom’s house.”

Jill was silent. 

“I... I just thought we should see Mom one more time before things might get nuts. We’ve almost died several times over the past couple, uh, weeks is it? I’ve lost track of time.”
Jill shrugged.

“Don’t you love Mom?”

“Of course—that’s why I wanted you to have the other Accessory. So you and she could hide from this invasion.”

“Then what’s the big deal in seeing her now?”

“Don’t you get it? I never wanted to see Mom or Dad again!”

“Well, you got your wish with Dad.”

Jill let out a big sigh and we just sat there silently for a while.

“You think I’m happy to feel this way?”

“I don’t know. Don’t you still love Mom and Dad?”

“I don’t love what they did to us. We had the opposite of a stable home. We barely stayed in one place long enough for us to make friends and when we did we moved. Then the fights! We never got any attention from them! It was like we were all just roommates, man—it was absurd! And then, when we do get attention it was only when we did something wrong! They didn’t care about anything we did that was good.”

This was good. I was glad she was letting all this out. I was hoping she’d off load enough over her anger to uncover her feelings of love for our mom at some point.

“You know what? Screw this. Driver? Pull over! I don’t need this today!”
Obviously, I was going to have to help her dig more.

“Hey! No, come on, Jill! Driver, don’t stop!”

“Jake! Come on! Why you gotta make me feel all this right now?”

“Because—we’re gonna be doing some dangerous things—don’t you want to see Mom one more time, give her one last hug?”

“If I’m honest, not really.”

She hadn’t stuttered in an hour so I knew she was sure of what she was saying. I decided to put all my cards on the table.

“Then please, Jill, keep venting! Let it out so maybe you’ll be able to find some place in your heart that still loves the woman who gave birth to you!”

Once again she was silent. After a long moment, I spoke. “So, are you ok with this then?”

“I stopped talking didn’t I?”

“Alright. No news is good news.”

We were silent for the rest of the trip out to Mom and Dad’s place. 

By the time we pulled into Mom’s driveway, I had pulled out the Accessory and was viewing the AR map of all of the Fire Escapes. There were none in the neighborhood.  No surprise—this was the heart of suburbia. Nothing interesting happens in the heart of suburbia.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update for 7/14/18: But What if They're NOT Going to Invade?

Get the most recent draft here:

fe2018.pete.ink

Read the latest words below this line:


"Hold up--we don't know that," Kate said. "I mean, it looks like they're gearing up for something but can we really assume it's us?"

"Well, it matches up with what everyone at M has believed for years now," Julio said.

"She's right to q-q-question, though," Jill said. "Just because Department M believes this is going to happen, doesn't mean it's going to.  P-p-plus, there are Double-Oes who are interested in peace.  The HNT proves that.  This isn't going to be that simple."

"Sounds like you're wanting to have hard evidence or even proof that the invasion is coming, kid," Dot said, adding: "What's that even gonna look like?"

"We go, we record video of these barracks filled with Double-O soldiers.  We take photos of the surroundings and approach Mary Manchester and her two remaining colleagues on the HNT."

"What I know of Conva, they are smart and difficult," Green said. "In end, they just like every sovereign beings. Happiness, steady ground, and family are most to them."

"And that's why we need to see the army b-b-before we do anything."

"Trying to find peace at this point, it's not advisable, I think," Julio said.

"Why do you say that, Hu?" Jill asked.

"Tedesco is dead and he was one of them.  Now everyone on the HNT, they've all clammed up--how else can we take this than a move against anyone official who wants peace?"

"So, that means we let them have their way? Play right into their hands?" I asked.

"I don't look at it like that.  But I'm also not in charge.  I'll do whatever you say, but I won't stay silent.  No chance of that happening."

"I wouldn't want you to, Hu," Jill said. She turned to Jim, "Can we 3-D print the required equipment and the clothing for three people?"

"Sure.  It will take a few days to get the designs ready and to print everything, but we can do it."

"Good.  Let's do it," Jill said.

Since we had three days to kill, I decided to do something that I had been thinking about doing for a while.  A few hours later, I found Jill in the kitchen, about to make a sandwich.  

"Before you start eating, I just want to talk to you for a sec."

Jill eyed me awkwardly. "Why?"

"Because, there are a couple things I think we need to do.  Together."

"Oh, you're not going to hug me, are you?"

I smiled, "Would that be so horrible?"

"Yes."

"Well, maybe I can change your mind.  Get something to eat and we're going to head to the Tri for a short vacation."

"Okaaaay," Jill said, sounding very suspicious and she had good reason to be.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update 7/13/18: More Clues are Found!

Get the most recent draft here:

fe2018.pete.ink

Read the latest words below this line:


Later, back at Nowhere House, we stood inside Jill's lab which was overtaken by a massive version of the hologram of the plans Green had shown us on her handheld.  The structure was very much to scale only it was made up of the same green-lined wireframe plans we saw before, only now the surrounding background and surfaces of the floor, walls, etc, were all a deep blue, very much like the blue paper building plans used to be drawn on.

"This has made me very very happy," Jim said. I remember thinking it was nice to know that an AI could feel happiness--or at least pretend to.  Jim continued: "This will allow me to confirm the accuracy of the work we've done so far on my hub simulation."

"Why don't you switch out Green's plans for your s-s-sim, Jim?"

"Really?  Uh, well, I could, but uh," Jim sounded very hesitant.  It was nice to see that an AI could be nervous, too.

"What's wrong?" Julio said.  "We just spent several hours on it--it looks fine so far.  Let's compare them."

"I just feel like the sim isn't a finished product yet."

"What are you afraid of, Jim?  Your last name is SMART for crying out loud!" Dot said with a smirk that was audible in her tone of voice.

"There's no need to get mean," Jim said, crossing his arms and adding:  "Fine."

The blueprint hologram was instantly replaced by the simulation Jim had been working on with the help of Kate and Julio. It immediately struck me as being pretty damn accurate.  It looked almost like the real thing.  

"Great work, Jim!" I said walking around as much as I could without walking into Jill's lab equipment or the library furniture. "This almost gives me that sick feeling I had the first few times I went over there!"

"What was that, anyway?" Kate asked.

"I just figured I had a time-release hangover or something," said KJ.

"That's just portal sickness," Julio began, "It eventually goes away once you've been over to the hub enough times."

"So, that's different from when you jump through too many Fire Escapes at once and feel sick to your stomach or just super tired?" I asked.

"Yes.  That is just the Fire Escape equivalent to jet lag.  Portal Sickness is kind of a bad name for it since it's really about how the Fire Escape Dimension is effecting your physiology.  That's all it is."

"Oh, yeah, it's only effecting our physiology!" KJ said. 

"It's not permanent or anything.  As soon as we came back our DNA returned to normal.  It turns out our genetic material is pretty plastic."  

"At least, when it comes to what a compressed dimensional space can do to a human b-b-body."

"What's the longest either of you stayed over there for?" KJ asked.

"A few hours, p-p-probably."

"I knew someone in M who claimed to have been over there for close to twelve hours and he claimed he started to see external changes," Julio said.  "This is why M's SOP is to never stay over there for longer than a few hours within a twenty-four hour period."

"External changes..." I said.

"That's why we'll be sticking to the same SO-p-p-P, also," Jill said.

"So, what do we think of Jim's sim so far?" I asked, trying to remember what it really looked like in person.

"How does it look next to plans my friend gave?" Green asked.

"Jim, superimpose them p-p-please." 

Suddenly, everything was accented with the green lines from the plans Green was sent.  We all began looking around.  After a few moments, Dot pointed past us, toward a wall on the far side of the sim/plans and spoke.  "What about that way over there? I don't--that is, I mean--I don't think that looks like it should be there."

We turned and saw a very small door in a wall, that only existed outlined in green. "Jim, p-p-please bring it closer."

Jim nodded and suddenly we seemed to have teleported to within ten feet of the door.  Only it was odd and not anything I remembered seeing during my visits to the hub.

"Why's it so short?" KJ said.

"Word, I don't remember that door there at all."

"It's too short for a Conva," I said.

"It's too short for a regular human, Jim said. If the plans Dr. Green provided match the scale of our sim, that door is four feet tall."

"It's a fun-size door!" KJ said.

"Must be old plan if you don't remember it," Green said. "I think the plans are still good for matching what sim is right but maybe not for what sim is wrong."

"Jim can you bring us even closer? I want to look out the window near that door," I said.  Instantly, I found myself at the window with the short door a few feet to my left.  I looked out the window and down to see the hillside the hub was built into.  It sloped down quite a ways until there was a big sign that read "DOUBLE-O CITY HERE".

"Hey, Jim, can you see if the other set of plans Dr. Green's friend provided would fit on the hill leading down from this door, please?"

"Hm, based on what I see in those other plans, no. However, those plans match the exact dimensions of the hub itself."

"What does that mean?" Dot asked. "Are these guys just boring architects?"

"If I move the short door to the floor, and place the other plans below my sim..."

We all looked to where the short door had been and saw that Jim had moved it to the floor. We could now see the bunk beds through the floor.  

"I noticed that the other plans call for the space you described as a barracks to include empty space along this side where there are spaces marked off for multiple platforms that are the same dimensions as the door's."

"So?" Jill said.

"The door may be too short for a Double-O, but it's more than wide enough for one."

Instantly, we saw thirty, or so, digitally generated Conva appear below us.  Then, the door, itself, slid out of the way and I could see a Conva below it rising up, through it and stand in front of me.

"That is some quick access to aaaaall those damn Fire Escapes," Kate said.

"And therefore where ever there is a Fire Escape in the Tri," Dot said.

"They're absolutely going to invade our dimension," I said.

Friday, July 13, 2018

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update for 7/12/18: Dr. Green Reaches Out to Friends Who Deliver!

Just a quick reminder: pretty much everything you're going to read on this blog or its PDFs is an absolute first draft.  In most cases, you're reading these pages before even I do as I write them and post them without even checking for typos.  The whole point is to write every day and worry about editing later.  If you want to read something from me that has been proofread and edited (WOW!), please check out manfromzero.com and buy my most recent novel.  It's good and takes place in the same story universe as Fire Escape--just way in the futrure.  In the meantime, if you want to make it easier for me to write, why not support me on Patreon? Just go here: patreon.com/petenicholls. Don't want to commit to Patreon?  Then buy me a cup of coffee!  Or hay, just let me know that you like my stuff.  That means so much, too. Find me on TwitterIG, or FB.

Get the most recent draft here:

fe2018.pete.ink

Read the latest words below this line:


The trip back to the "Tri" as we came to call it (AKA, the dimension you and I were born in) with Kate, KJ, Green and I was uneventful.  We used the Accessory to drop us into a part of the city none of us ever go to--Staten Island, in a secluded alley not far from a shopping mall in Staten Island to more precise.  Wait--is it "in" Staten Island or "on" Staten Island?  I have no idea.  Oh, and we landed a few months ago, to give Green's friends time to respond. Dr. Green pulled her handheld device from her pocket and started tapping at it.  Figure, communications take a while to travel pretty massive distances, even with Dr. Green's cool smart device.

"When I learn more English I can tell you how this object works," she said.

"That'd be cool," Kate said.  "I've been studying all kinds of tech with Jim. He's shown me stuff I'd never imagined before.  It's been great, but--that's why I came along!"

Kate was pointing to the end of the alley where sunlight fell directly onto the sidewalk and street beyond.

"Go enjoy it," I said as she was already walking toward it.  

"Can I go, too?" KJ asked, already following her.

"Sure," I said, looking around.  "I think we're safe back here.  Just keep an eye out for anyone--"

"I gotchu, I gotchu!" KJ said, dismissively. 

I watched as Kate stepped into the sunlight and squinted up at the sky.  She immediately held out her arms stretched her back. "I'm so glad we came back early before the fall."

"The fall of what?" KJ asked, mimicking her stretching and squinting.  

"The autumn, man--use your head."

"I did--that's why I was asking!"

I shook my head and glanced around the alley, making sure to eyeball the other entrance to it.  As I watched Green tap on that device of her's, I really wondered how it could work.  A small device like that being able to transmit who knows how many miles seemed incredible to me.  There were still places in the city I couldn't get a signal on my smart phone. 

"Before I left, Galak-Ga Pru, my home world, I set up a, inbox, is that the right word?"

"Yes," I said.

"I am reaching it, touching it?"

"Connecting to it?"

"Yes.  Connecting to it, and sending messages from it."

"So, when your friends reply, their messages will go into the inbox.  So, all you have to do is connect to it again and get the messages."

"Yes.  Simple and safe. And--" Green paused, clearly looking for a word.

"Tiny cell level?  Quantum encrypted?"

"Yes!  Quantum level encrypted." She tapped for a bit more and then spoke again. "When Strife is finished, when we are safe. I like to study you more.  My study was bad on Galag-Ka far away base."

"That's where you and I met?"

"Yes. Tools--equipment there, good, best even, but I read data wrong. Saw only what I wanted to see.  Wish I brought study data here."

"Well, my sister's lab seems pretty advanced."

"Yo, it's more advanced than you know," Kate said, walking back from the street.  I looked and saw KJ wasn't with her.

"Where's KJ?" I asked.

"He just went to get a soda from the corner place, uh, around the corner.  He's coming right back.  How are we doing?"

"I am done," Green said. "Now we just Fire Escape to a future date and I load down any messages in my inbox."

A few minutes later KJ was back with his soda and we Fire Escaped back to Nowhere House and then back to the same secluded alley on Staten Island.  Minutes after that, she had "load downed" her messages and one was quite impressive. As she saw the message decrypt on her device, here eyes went wide.  She tapped a bit more and a hologram appeared above the device so we could all see it. I couldn't tell what it was at first. It was a line drawing of a rectangular structure with several pillars inside.

"My friend says this early plan for a place in the Conva home land."

"Yo, that looks like the Hub!" Kate said.

She was absolutely right.

"Wait, that is only a file. There is more."

"But wait!  There's more!" KJ said with a deep voice as the hologram switched to another line drawing, this time of a big room with bunk beds.  

"Friend say this recent. Just finished soon ago."

"Looks like summer camp!" KJ said, smiling.

"Or an army barracks, dawg," Kate said. "Haven't you seen movies about war?  That's what they go back to after combat."

"Why would they need an army barracks?" I asked.

"Oh, I don't know, maybe to keep an invasion force?" Kate said.

"Oh..." KJ said.

"Yeah, that could be," I said.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update for 7/11/18: Who Does Dr. Green Know?

Get the most recent draft here:

fe2018.pete.ink

Read the latest words below this line:


“Dr. Green, do you know any Conva personally?” Julio asked.

“No, not in person. But I know colleagues who do. If I could go to our dimension, I could send messages.”

“Are they encrypted?” Jill asked.

“What is this?” Green asked.

“Coded, hidden from anyone who might see them on the way?”

“On a tiny small cell level.”

Jill gave her a puzzled look. So, I explained: “She means on a cellular level.”

“Yes, cellular, but no—smaller. Next level smaller.”

“Molecular level?” Kate asked. Green thought for a moment and shook her head. “No, sorry, smaller.”

“Atomic?” Jim asked as Green tapped at a little smart device she brought with her from home. She looked up and said “No, smaller.”

“What’s smaller than atomic?” KJ asked instantly realizing what was smaller.

“Quantum encryption?” Kate said, sounding impressed.

“Yes! That is the word. Just found it.” Green pointed to the display on her handheld.

“That’ll do,” Jill said. “KJ, c-c-can you take her back to the trimension?”

“Sure.”

“I should go, too,” I said, adding, “with my adaptation abilities, I can protect them if the Caretakers or anyone worse show up.”

“Man, I kinda want to go, too,” Kate said. “Feeling like I need to get some vitamin D or maybe just some fresh real air, know what I’m saying?”

Jim spoke. “But we need to finish working on our intel dossier.  I’m almost done with the AR simulation of the hub and I need to make sure it’s accurate.”

Julio spoke next. “Hell, I know the hub better than any of you. Kate, go with them if you want.”

“I’m sorry, I like my time with tech but I love the sun, too.”

“In the meantime, I will work with Jim, Dot, and...Julio, to work out our plan of a-a-attack.”

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update for 7/16/18: Meeting Mom

Get the most recent draft here: fe2018.pete.ink Read the latest words below this line: So, Mom could see us through the window in ...