Sunday, April 22, 2018

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Updates for 4/21/18: It's OK, this place is also a B&B.

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Once I got up the energy to stand, I did, and used the Accessory to get me back here.

“Wait, so Wise is dead?” KJ said.

“I didn’t say that!  I said I saw him get shot by these two thugs!”

“So now what do we do now?” Kate said.  “We needed his help.”

“We do it on our own,” Jill said.

“No. We should go back for him,” I said.  KJ smiled at me.  “You felt something for him didn’t you?”

“I did, but not like that.  I just don’t like leaving him for dead.”

“I think it’s a risk that is not really worth taking, but, if you want to, I get it,” Jill said, adding, but it sounded like you couldn’t breathe on that asteroid.  Were those thugs wearing any space suit or environmental suits or what did they look like?  Did they have any—”

“Yeah—I already told you what I remember.  Let me just like take a nap or something.  I nearly died.”

“Sorry, man,” KJ said.  “We’re just anxious.”

“I know.  It’s OK. I want to go back for him immediately.”

“The hardest thing to get used to about this space, this region of existence, is that there really is no point in worrying about time beyond the passing of your own personal time.”

“What do you call this… nowhere zone, Jill?!?” KJ asked.

“That’s as good as any name I’ve tossed around.  Jim doesn’t have a name for it, do you Jim?”

“No.  Dr. Ellsworth never had a name for it as far as I know.  If she did, my father didn’t tell me what it was.”

“Ellsworth was the founder of this library?” KJ asked.

“As legend has it,” Jim said.

“Jake you’re going to need a rest before we do more.  That’s why I was talking about letting go of time as a concern.  You don’t need to worry.  It’s true, Wise is wounded and probably dead on that asteroid, but he’ll stay in that state until we go back and see for ourselves.  You used the Accessory to get back, right?”  I nodded. “Good.  So your previous destination on that asteroid had a Fire Escape there and as a result, it will be in your Accessory history.  Easy peasy to get back to Wise at the very moment you left.”

“Oh, ok, great.  You sure this isn’t a distraction from the important stuff?”

“Like I said, with this as a base of operations, time isn’t as big as a factor so long as we don’t die of old age before we stop the double-Oes from what ever they are up to.”

“Thanks, Jill.”

“Let’s show you to your rooms,” Jill said.

“Rooms?” Kate said.  “This place is a hotel, now?”

“More like a bed and breakfast,” Jim said.  “Come on, I’ll show you guys. Do you have any bags?”

Jim looked at us as though he wasn’t already aware that all we had was on our persons.

“Nope,” KJ said.

“Wait, do we get our own bathrooms?” Kate said, sounding excited.

“Well, no—but the accommodations are pretty reasonable, I think,” Jill said. 

We followed Jim through a portion of the library that was just tables and shelves of books.  Maybe thirty feet away from the lab portion of the library and 50 or so feet away from the dinner table, where Jim’s three holo-ladyfriends still sat paused seemingly in perpetuity.  From this location and angle we could see a rather grand staircase sort of tucked in a corner of the library that was completely hidden from where we had been spending time.  It was a glorious old thing that looked like it came out of an old horror movie with a haunted mansion or maybe the big atrium from the Titanic. 

“Yo, this is like, both beautiful and creepy,” Kate said, smiling softly and looking around as we climbed the steps.  When we reached the top, we could see a big hallway that also seemed like it came out of one of those old horror movies.

“Hey, uh, Jim, did this Ellsworth lady like old horror films?” KJ said.

“I don’t have much knowledge of her, I’m afraid.  So, I can’t answer that question.”

“Dr. Jennifer Ellsworth died a long time ago—before horror movies,” Jill said, following us up the steps.

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“I’ve just picked up bits of info about her over the years.”

“How did she die?” Jim asked.  “I’d love to know for my own knowledge base.”

“No one knows,” Jill said.

“When did she die?” Kate asked.

“No one knows,” Jill repeated.

“So, how you know she’s dead?”

“Simple, Kate.  She was born in the early 1900s.”

“So? She could be alive still.”

“Kate, she’d be 118 years old,” I said.

“Word? My bad.  I’m usually good at math.”

Jim stopped walking about halfway down that long hall and pointed like a flight attendant pointing at emergency exits at two doors opposite each other.  “These are the first two rooms.”

He then pointed to the next two rooms, pointing more at the one on the left and added, “this is Dr. Rivera’s, the room across and the first two, you can each choose which ever you like.  If they are not to your liking, just let me know.  We have four more rooms to choose from further down the hallway.”

“Dang, man,” Kate began, “Even in this Nowhere Zone, they still got a brother being a butler.”

“Would you prefer I take a Caucasian appearance?” just then Jim’s skin turned from a very dark brown to a pinkish, beige shade.

“Oh, really? Wow, no, you’re fine, Jim!”

“Can you do Asian?” KJ asked.

“NO,” Kate said.  “Jim, just stay black.”

“What? Is having an Asian butler racist?”

“You know, I think I need a nap too,” Kate said.

“I need one as well,” Jill said.  “But like he said, if you guys need anything you can ask Jim.  
He can’t get it for you, but he can tell you where to find it.”

“What you mean you haven’t figured out solid holograms yet?” KJ said, sounding surprised.

“No, I haven’t figured out solid holograms yet,” Jill said flatly.

“We should talk, I have some interesting theories on how that would work.”

“Good night!” I said, picking the door opposite my sister’s and moving through it.  Inside it looked even more like a gothic horror film than it had before.  Lots of dark brown wood on the walls and hardwood floors.  The bed was a four-poster and even had a canopy.  This place was nuts!!

I got undressed and climbed into bed.  Sleep came quickly and I slept for a long time.  When I woke up, I couldn’t immediately tell because my smart watch battery had died.  I looked over at the nightstand next to the bed and saw an LED alarm clock that showed the time as 4:20 PM, but what that meant in terms of the time of day on Earth, I had no idea.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Update for 4/20/18: Losing Wise

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When the blue flash pulled away from my eyes, and I was on the other side of the Fire Escape, I found myself feeling colder than I’ve ever felt before.  It was like being frozen in ice, only it was the air that was frozen around me.  That meant I could move, but only long enough for my my hands to reach my own neck where suddenly I was having trouble breathing.  The air was going in, but my lungs didn’t seem to be hungry for it.  I tugged at my shirt collar only to realize a tight collar was definitely not my problem.  It was the air—it was the lack breathable air.  I looked over to Wise to see him single handedly beating up the two thugs.  The lack of oxygen started to take its toll on me.  I wished I’d taken a deep breath before letting gravity pull me off of that stall wall.  I dropped to my knees and saw my skin turning blue.  I looked up to see Wise, walking toward me touching his right palm—scratching it with his index finger… or was he swiping at it?

“Look at me, Jake,” he said with a tone in his voice that made is command impossible to disobey.  He looked me in the eyes, with a look of deep fear in his.

Then, he kissed me.

Well, kissing wasn’t what he was doing.  He was exhaling into my mouth.  Once I realized that was what he was doing, I tried inhaling and immediately felt better.  I looked past him and saw we were surrounded by stars with only dirt and rock below us.  A surge of adrenaline, hit me and I felt like I was on a roller coaster.  Once he finished exhaling oxygen into my lungs he grabbed my hand and squeezed it hard.  He pulled his lips away from mine and spoke.  “You have the Conveniencer.  It will only last a few seconds, but it will fix you.  Use the Accessory to go home and don’t worry about me—I’ll find you!”

He shoved me away from him and turned back to face the two thugs.  One of them had his gun pointed at me and looked like he was about to pull the trigger.  He did, but not before Wise moved in front of the gun.  Wise’s body shuddered and fell to the ground slightly more slowly than I’d expected.  That’s when I noticed we were on an asteroid.  A big asteroid.  The two thugs aimed their pistols at me as I heard a voice. 

“Please give CONVENIENCER access to bodily functions.  Say ‘granted’ if you agree.”


Suddenly, I felt my body jerk out of the way of the oncoming blasts from the thugs pistols. 

“Now accessing recently acquired motor skills.  If you wish to revoke this permission, you can visit the CONVENIENCER settings menu.”

Suddenly the Accessory was in front of me and my hands were doing what they should do to open the Fire Escape and in seconds, was back in that bathroom stall at work. 

I lost my footing and once again dropped to my knees.  I slumped to the wall and then the floor.  I looked at my left hand, the hand that Wise had held and, on the palm, saw a dark brown ring with a triangle in the middle of it.  The triangle was pointing toward my fingers.  “CONVENIENCER is now disengaging control of this biological unit.  Thank you for using CONVENIENCER.”  I watched as the ring and triangle slowly faded like fresh Sharpie ink.

Friday, April 20, 2018

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Updates for 4/19/18: Getting Wise

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“Where’s Wise? You were supposed to get Wise!” Jill demanded.  I shrugged off my instinct to figuratively ‘get wise’ with her.

“Yeah, well, something came up!”

“Something came up?” Kate said.  “What’s that even mean?”

I proceeded to tell them what happened:

I found myself in an accessibility stall in the mens room down the hall from my boss’s office.  Stupidly, Fire Escaping into a bathroom stall was enough of a suggestion to my subconscious to suddenly make me want to pee.  I tried to ignore it, pushing my focus back to the task at hand.  I listened for anyone else in the bathroom but heard nothing.  I even checked for other shoes underneath the walls of the stalls but found no one.  It was safe to exit the stall without bothering to flush.

I left the stall and walked to the door of the men’s room, slowly opening it a crack.  I could see down the hallway to the doorway that week-ago-me was sitting inside of.  I suddenly felt a pang in my bladder again and shrugged.  I checked my watch and saw that it had connected to the wifi in the building and reset itself, syncing the displayed time with the actual local time.  I saw that Wise wouldn’t be showing up for a few minutes.  I looked back down the hallway, saw no one, so I went back to the accessible stall and made a deposit.  Yeah, it wasn’t just liquid assets but, well, you get where this joke is going.

As I sat there on the toilet I found myself thinking about how crazy my life was.  I had just teleported into the men’s room at my workplace.  That’s a pretty stress-free commute right there.  Usually I rely on the busses that come once an hour.  With this Fire Escape tech I could go home for lunch or for breaks or for any other reason and my boss might never notice.  I realized how fun this tech would be if I could use it in my normal life.
I finished my business and went to wash my hands.

As I dunked my hands under the water and lathered them up with soap, I heard the men’s room door open.  I looked up to see Wise entering.  I smiled and felt both nervous that I had almost missed him, but glad he happened to come in.

He froze, completely surprised to see me.  His eyes were wide and his expression was tinted with suspicion.  “Jake…?  Why… how are you in here?”

“Funny story!  I’d like to tell it to you but—wow—it’s so good to see you again.”

“Uh, it’s been like two minutes.”

“No, this is week-from-now-me.”

“Oh.”  He looked pretty puzzled.  Or maybe it was inconvenienced.

“Can I just use the toilet please?  This body needs to use the toilet a lot.”

“Sure!” I said.  “Use the one on the end—the big one—it’s got lots of legroom.”

“OK!” He entered the stall and locked it behind him.  I heard him unzip his zipper and start to relieve himself.  I leaned against one of the sinks and rubbed my eyes.  Suddenly, the sound of Wise’s pee stopped. I pulled my hand away from my eyes and looked to the stall. 

“You OK, man?”

“Yeah, just light headed for a moment,” he said.  “Think I didn’t eat enough this morning.”

“We can grab you some food once we get to my sister.”

“You found your sister?”

“Yep!  Well, she found us, I guess.”

“That’s great.” 

That’s when I saw a flash of blue light and when Wise started yelling.

“Hey!  What the hell?! Who are—get off me!  JAKE!”

I dashed to the stall door and pulled on it.  Wise had locked it. I started pulling on the door.  It was useless.  I entered the stall next to his, climbed onto the toilet and then leapt onto the stall wall, ending up half in the accessibility stall and half in the other one.  I could see a Fire Escape stuck in the open position as two men, half inside and half out of the Fire Escape, were grabbing at Wise.  But Wise was fighting back.  I knew I had nothing or everything to lose, so I tipped myself up and over the wall, letting gravity pull myself down and through the Fire Escape, bringing Wise and the two men with me.

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Updates for 4/21/18: It's OK, this place is also a B&B.

Get the most recent draft here: Read the latest words below this line: Once I got up the energy to stand,...