Authenticating the Transparency Movement

Like all of us, I’ve been reading many weblogs on the Identity movement, and like all of us, I’ve read some incredibly brilliant, insightful and wonderful posts, such as those from Dale Innis, Botgirl Questi, Emily Orr

Somehow the Identity movement ties with a book I recently finished reading:  “Googled…The End of the World as We Know It” by Ken Auletta.  For a Google-neophyte like myself, it proved a fascinating read.  For those well-versed in the inner workings of Google, it’s probably not as fascinating a read.  But either way, you come away from the book realizing that it’s much more than the exploration of how new media disrupted old media.  It also looks very closely at the increasingly long reach into “other people’s content” (OPC) and tries to suggest (because who really knows?) where that reach is headed.    But in thinking about the wonderful weblog entries on Identity, about this book on OPC, and about the recent statements about how privacy isn’t a social norm any more (a rather flippant statement that I strongly disagree with), it just seems to me that the idea of “other people’s content” now extends itself into the idea of “other people’s individual identity.” 

…what greater content do any of us have than our identity and our sense of self, afterall?

I can see how transparency is very important.  Where I have difficulty is with how transparency is framed up in the conversation (as the very thoughtful posts that have already been published have pointed out so beautifully).  Knowing the manmade construct of a RL name or knowing the numbering system (social security numbers, driver’s licenses, credit cards, home addresses, etc.) won’t tell anyone who that person really is at their core:  what they value, what they believe, how they view life and people and love, what their goals are, what their dreams are, what their fears are, where their struggles are, where their successes are, how they feel, how they’re motivated or not.  I’ve heard it said a few times over the past year that virtual world residents wear a mask inworld.  Not many have said it but every time I’ve heard the few who said it, I found it curious because I’ve never believed that we wear masks inworld to any greater degree than we might be inclined to wear them in the atomic world:  by our labels, our titles, our nicknames, the tones in our voices, by the cultural messages that we buy, our branded items that we wear or drive, our tendency to compartmentalize life…wearing this hat for this and that hat for that at this time or that time.  By the clothes we wear, the makeup we wear, how we transform ourselves through fashion and exercise and time and gravity into messages we want to communicate to the world.  Does a RLname and social security number or credit card number provide greater insight into belief systems and character?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  Does it absolutely tell the whole story of a person in every moment of that person’s lifetime?  No way. 

If “get real” *really* is a discussion about the importance of integrity, I wholeheartedly agree.  But that’s something that should exist no matter how we are called in any world.  Names themselves don’t guarantee the presence of integrity.  Our addresses or phone number or credit cards don’t either.  So this push for authenticating, this sweeping decision that privacy has no meaning to anyone (I really hate when someone assumes they can speak for me, let alone a few billion individuals), this increasing reach into OPC, and the foreshadowing of a possible link up of persons to other persons on various social media platforms (in effect controlling Other People’s Choice, Context & Content)…well, it all seems to be converging a bit too conveniently.   If we’re pushing to “get real” (whatever that is) let’s push for it all the way around.  Maybe the organizations that are bringing up this conversation starter should go even further than introducing the topic and state the true reasons why they’re pushing into the most personal content of all, individual identity.  (This rationale does not fly:  that the more connections in a social network platform the more value it provides…in fact, it erodes.  Privacy isn’t dead.  What may possibly be dead in social media platforms is Reflection and Discourse, but if they are, they’ve no doubt been pummelled into near oblivion by the immediacy of the question “What’s happening (now…NOW!…right NOW! this second and every second dammit!).”  So what gives?  Do the manmade constructs of anyone’s real life name or social security number or buying behavior automatically make a person more authentic?  Are we somehow more “fake” if search engines and social media platforms can’t advertise to us based on an analysis of where we’ve surfed and how long we’ve stayed there and who we’ve talked with?  Is the linking up of social media platforms and the ensuing glut tsunami somehow a context more “real” than our own contextual relationship with our own sense of self, our own sense of choice, and our own sense of self- or collaboratively-made community with others?  In any conversation about “getting real” — particularly one started by an organization — I would think the onus for authenticity falls just as squarely on the companies to, well, authenticate their true intentions behind the push.  Something in me suspects the sinister on this one.  (I blame the book “Googled” followed by the declaration by that social media founder dude that privacy is dead when it is far from dead.)  Something in me says the truth may lay in the marketing plans.  If that’s the case, somehow that would be awfully, well, traditional of “new” media institutions, wouldn’t it? 

From “Googled”, an interesting passage (whether or not one agrees with it) on the possible social costs of Transparent Personalization: 

“They impose homogeneity on the Internet’s wild heterogeneity.  As the tools and algorithms become more sophisticated and our online profiles more refined, the Internet will act increasingly as an incredibly sensitive feedback loop, constantly playing back to us, in amplified form, our existing preferences.”  (~ Nicholas Carr, author of The Big Switch)   We will narrow our frames of reference, become more polarized in our views, gravitate toward those whose opinions we share, and maybe be less willing to compromise because, he (Carr) said, the narrow information we receive will magnify our differences, making it harder to reach agreement.  Carr also expressed concern that search extracts another toll.  ‘The common term surfing the Web perfectly captures the essential superficiality of our relationship with the information we find in such great quantities on the Internet … The most revolutionary consequence of the expansion of the Internet’s power, scope, and usefulness may not be that computers will start to think like us but that we will come to think like computers.  Our consciousness will thin out, flatten, as our minds are trained, link by link, to DO THIS with what you find HERE and go THERE with the result.  The artificial intelligence we’re creating may turn out to be our own.”

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Designs on Helping

I’m a skin and hair fanatic with the best of them.  When I logged inworld and received notecards about ways to donate monies to Haiti via the Red Cross International Response Fund by buying skin and hair, I didn’t hesitate.  I didn’t even try the demos on. 

The point isn’t really so much the products, which are lovely indeed.  The point is the chance to reach out and help, even in a small way, while you’re inworld.  Proceeds from the sale of these products benefit Haiti via the Red Cross International Response Fund.  If you should want to donate more while you’re at either LeLutka or Maiterya, both shops have a Red Cross vendor that accepts donations.   Or consider donating to Doctors Without Borders (grateful acknowledgements to my v wonderful and treasured friend for this recommendation).  I found it a very painless and easy process to donate directly at the Doctors Without Borders website.

Skin and Hair information:

Skin:  LeLutka IFELight Haiti, available at a special price of 550L with all proceeds going to the Red Cross in support of Haiti

Hair:  Maiterya  Sasha Bistre with a color changing knit cap, available for a limited time at the pre-release price of 50L and also available in Ash Blonde at the same pre-release price

In a land called Twas

…is a gorgeous and mysterious place called Decay.  I’ve been there three times and each time was captivated by its beauty, serenity, and depth.  Do visit and step into another world inworld.  Set your environment to midnight, pick up the notecard at the entrance to learn the creator’s suggestion for a wonderful windlight preset that works so beautifully there.  Most of the photos below used that present (I forgot the name…it has “plum” in the title…but do touch the sign near the entrance for a notecard that will give you the full name.) 

Decay is yet another one of those builds created with a great deal of love.  I won’t try to describe the serene beauty of Decay…a name that speaks to the gorgeous old worldliness of the surroundings.  A very small sneak peek of some photos describes it far better than words.  It’s one of those places where every photo is wonderful.  I’ve posted a few photos here (click on each to enlarge), the others I’ve uploaded to flickr.

kindred fae
In a place called Decay using the Bryn Oh environment preset

The photo above uses a Bryn Oh windlight preset.  All the others use the windlight preset recommended by the creator of Decay.

Serene Beauty
Immersed
kindred spirits
Steward of Light
Dance of Ages

It’s a soulful world.  A beautiful place of quiet ease that invokes images from the Ages.  After your first visit, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you return to it many times over again.

Concentricity … 28

Ch 28 ~ Then what…

The slight woman drawing the concentric circles pulled her head up.  She studied the piece of paper, covered now with an etch-a-sketch chaos of circles within circles.  She smiled.  Wide and deeply.  Because in the center of it all, through all the dimensions, through all the experiences, through all the intentions and universes…through the center of it all, was love.

Miles and Emily gazed tenderly at each other.  Gently wrapped in each other’s arms, they danced.  Perfectly so.  Timelessly so.  Eternally so.  With nothing more than a smile between them.  Their lips brushed together ever so slightly, formed around each other’s ever so softly, cradling and breathing …one…

Concentricity … 22 – 27

Ch 22 ~ Layers upon Layers upon Layers upon Layers

Emily’s torso jerked.  What was it about Forge, she wondered.  Always pursuing the fantastical and drawing upon her particular talent to see if his notion of the fantastical was worth doing.  Even after he began doing it.  Kind of ass-backwards.  These “idea surveys” of his made a particular habit of turning her time dimensions upside down.  They — her sense of time and place and space — were outright whirling in a blender now and it was all that Emily could do to sort through the multitude of images that assaulted her senses as they whizzed in flashes before her mind’s eye.

Forge’s and Pat’s voices called in a commentary from a distance…”love.”  Emily held on tightly to the formica tabletop, her spirit holding tightly to the mousy redheaded good looking young man. 

Lifetimes melded and whirled. 

Suddenly, she saw Linda Mall, but Emily really wouldn’t know who she was were it not for her identifying doorplate outside of her office.  The recently altered alphabet soup that morphed into itself on the glass floor-to-ceiling door of Linda’s department suite came into view.  Then Emily watched as a woman entered into her sight.  It was the person whose name matched the office identifying doorplate.  Teetering heels confidently balanced a slender, tightly wrapped woman — tightly wrapped both emotionally and physically.  Her physical view communicated a determination to be in control, but what lay underneathe all of that tight wrapping was really just a breath below her outer surface and was easily undone.  Her form was about to burst through her seams — both emotionally and physically.  Not too long ago at one time her personality might not have burst through her seams.  Not too long ago her identity would have kept her personality fiercely groomed.  For Linda Mall, it was all about the brand, afterall.   That was then.  Now, this was no longer the case.  At least, not in this precise moment when she came into Emily’s view, not in this precise time dimension when Emily’s particular talent revealed Linda Mall to her. 

Narrowing in on her appearance, Emily glanced back again to what had caught her attention first:  the woman’s shoes as odd as that may seem.  Powerful, pointy, and quite deadly pointed shoes.  They were instruments of purpose.  They moved Linda Mall to and fro with an unbending attitude.  If she ever suffered an off day, her shoes never would.  Indeed, Linda Mall’s stilettos worked overtime in making sure that no one ever saw Linda Mall, Cheif Security Officer, sweat.  But if Linda Mall’s stilettos could speak at this moment, they would be screaming that they were drowning in sweat because Linda Mall was not only have an “off” day…she was completely outside of who she thought herself to be.

And someone else was inside of her, controlling her now.

Emily saw Linda Mall’s mind flash a blinding white light, then retreat back when a blanket of static smothered from sight her personal canvas of thought or purpose or her own very personal will.  She existed now, yes, but her identity was frozen in its stream.  And whoever had commandeered her sense of purpose had made sure to expose every path and interaction in Linda Mall’s life.  Those that had come before.  Those that had arrived in the present. 

…a deep dark determined yearning exploded forth from some source, a yearning grinded out an unshakable insistence to hijack the sense of identity of the future.   

The Door lurched to Little Miss Katie’s account on the latest, greatest social networking site.  A digital lurching erupted across her channel as signals surged within every post Little Miss Katie had ever expressed, within every post her every BFF or fangirl or fanboy had ever expressed or thought to express beyond what they intended to be merely silent lurkings.  Blinding white light flashed within their digital aura, drenching their digital DNA with a blanket of static that smothered from sight the personal canvas of their own uniquely personal thoughts.

Whoever had commandeered Linda Mall’s identity wielded an insidious touch.  At every point through the abductor’s travels in Linda Mall’s cognitive person, a wave of corruption erupted, a wave of corruption reprogrammed Linda’s internal circuitry, carving out the essence of her identity and imposing the abductor’s belief system completely onto hers.  A wave of corruption reprogrammed everyone throughout the digital channels, spreading like a virus that had rapidly begun to worm its way with a crushing and bludgeoning silence into the sphere of Linda Mall’s influence…but no doubt, Emily puased shaking internally, no doubt…more…  What would stop it from going further out?   Displayed in full view, Emily witnessed the immensity of what was an inexplicably and beautifully woven dazzling pattern that was the entirety of interconnection between Linda and those in her life…but even so very much more.  It extended into infinity connecting those in the lives of the “those” who were in Linda’s life, connecting into the “those” in the beyond.  And so on.  Infinity.  Entirety.  …Oh my god, Emily gasped.  What would stop the static from going further out, she choked on the wild question.  What would stop it from going into the very core of everything?  Into the entire world brain, spilling out and seeping into the very essence of the collective consciousness.

Intense were the muscle spasms that racked Emily’s body and convulsed her fibers into a series of hard flinches now.  She knew herself to be jumping out of her very skin right at this moment and well into the next several moments.  Blood pounded within her ears.  Breath pounded within her lungs.  And an eerie remembering rose up to the surface.

She had been physically shocked in this manner before, but she now realized why. 

She had heard of muscle membrane.

In a heated rush, Emily wished she had the powerful, pointy, and quite deadly pointed shoes on her feet.  Because she began sweating now.  A massive flop sweat that avalanched her nervous system without any hope of reprieve.   But the shoes wouldn’t give her the confidence she so desparately needed now.  She would have to find that somewhere else. 

What is happening, she gasped hoarsely into the deepest parts of her mind, she burrowed into the deepest parts of her heart and soul and wrapped tightly perfectly around the good looking redheaded young man.  And he held her perfectly in return.

Suddenly, then it was as if Linda Mall’s abductor had heard Emily from deep within.  Is every thought laid bare for him, she asked.  He sneered, having heard her ask without her even speaking.  Worse, nearly worse than the abductor becoming fully aware of Emily’s presence in this time and place dimension, even worse, nearly worse than that was the fact that Emily had seen him before.  And he had seen her.  But now not only her…now too Miles.  Now too everything. 

The entire planet lay bare to him this time and she knew it.  The entire planet was his oyster, yet he chose to focus now in her direction.  He turned his head under and he cast his eyes over an average-sized shoulder — his shoulder —  to deliver a hooded and ominous gaze directly into the center of her eyes — into the center of Emily’s pools.

Emily felt again the thought she had felt the first time she had seen that gaze.  Her emotional panick from their first time-travelled meeting washed completley over her being.  Emily experienced again the alarming awareness she had experienced the first time.  And all the while a cruel irony of a crystalizing thought played itself out again…thought itself out again just as she had thought it the first time.

Holding your breath was radically difficult, she now knew, when you felt deep within each molecule of your being that your thoughts and your entire thought process…was alive.  Thought as form.  Intention as presence.  Made manifest.

Her mind flew back to the first sighting of this slight man with the average build as he stalked in relentless intention over a body — over Pat’s body — laying quietly in a bed, barely aware with machinery plugged into her being.  Into her being.  Her mind’s eye, Emily’s mind eye, flew wildly into the air wildly in perfect unison with her own now stiletto’d intention, her own now determined goal to look closely…to see more clearly…to reveal the face…was that really Pat?  Had she been seeing Pat all along?  Was it really…could it be…oh my god…it was…it is…

Me…

She knew now.  This was so incredibly much more than a panicked unreasoned reaction, she shuddered inside now.  This was so incredibly very much more than a feeling, she confirmed to herself pushing hard and fast through her panick until she arrived at clarity.  She now knew who he was.  She now knew what he was doing when she hadn’t the first time she had seen him in that future sighting.  He intends to steal the world brain as his own.  This is his purpose.  As simple as this.

It was then that she blinked.  She stared directly into the hooded ominous glare delivered by the slight man.  She stepped forward, out from the corner where she watched the future unfold itself in this place from a shroud of semi-darkness.  She revealed her presence to him then just as he had revealed his intention to her now.  And she forcibly closed off her purpose from his reach.  He might try to take over the identity of the world.  He might try and he looked to be well on his way, she clenched her jaw and bit down hard into shock mixed with an unmovable resolve.  But he won’t do it without a fight.  He will never take over my identity, or the identities of those I love.  He couldn’t touch her here, in this particular place, in this particular dimension, through her particular talent.  He couldn’t touch her here, she knew now, that she was out of his reach in this place, in this future state.  But she also knew without kidding herself in the least that he intended to find Emily, she grimly knew this now.  He intended to find her, now that he had become fully aware somehow of her ability to jump dimensions.  She could read the truth in his face.  He can access the collective consciousness.  He had found a way there, she gasped silently through her eyes into his gaze.  She saw Linda Mall’s eyes suddenly flashing from the place where his eyes had been.  Emily frowned more deeply even while she held her breath in shock.  She stared.  He stared.  She saw Little Miss Katie’s eyes — the ones Emily had viewed on her Door — now on his face.  The eyes of the Work Order crew members one by one on his face.  The eyes of countless people on his face that she knew didn’t belong to him, she knew belonged to others, she knew had interacted with his starting point, with Linda.  The Chief Steward of some organization’s identity.  He willingly showed Emily.  He deliberately flaunted his capability before Emily.  He wanted her to know.  He can steal identities and entire memories.  But what he may or may not yet know…was something Emily firmly came to know all this time.  He can steal identities, yes.  But he can’t command the dimensions of time.  Yet.

He believes me to be the key.

Her eyes spilled out onto her cheeks and her mouth spilled out into the growing static that played itself out in the back of Pat’s eyeball, on the front of Pat’s brain.  She had switched from an episode of America Has Got To Be Kidding If It Thinks This is Talent onto The Linda Mall Channel, deep into discovery of who Linda Mall was, deep into the growing static that ballooned out and enveloped Linda Mall’s identifying DNA…a growing static that enlarged itself, spilling and spreading into the DNA of every person who was every captured on the 20 survellaiance cameras that lined every hallway of the organization in which Linda Mall served as the Chief Security Officer, the steward to the organization’s very brain.

A crushing silence gave rise on the charged electric static bubbles that infested the chain of DNA on which it coursed.  It spread relentlessly, uncontrollably into the very fiber of everyone Linda has every known.  It spread ominously, uncontrollably beyond her.  A crushing silence that screamed:  I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHO I AM…A B-SQUARED  I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHO I AM… 

I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHO I AM… 

I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHO I AM… 

I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHO I AM… I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHO I AM… 

Everywhere from every channel from all the identies that he had already stolen, they broadcasted this message over and over and over again in perfect unison, slicing through the global airwaves, resounding into perpetuity.  Again and again and again.  Gazillions in lockstep, speaking one language but not hearing each other.  Gazillions broadcasting one message again and again and again and again.  Gazillions living, breathing, being, extending the hyper me-ism of A B-Squared, of group think, of Big Brother.

“…When a person walks, lifting and dropping each foot in turn, he or she produces a slight sideways force.  If hundreds of people are walking in a confined space, and some happen to walk in step, they can generate enough lateral momentum to move a footbridge — just a little.  Once the footway starts swaying, however subtly, more and more predestrians adjust their gait to get comfortable, stepping to and fro in synch.  As a positive-feedback loop develops between the bridge’s swing and the pedestrian’s stride, the sideways forces can increase dramatically and the bridge can lurch violently.  The investigating engineers termed this process ’synchronous lateral excitation’ and came up with a mathematical formula to describe it.  …where previously there were diverse views, now there is unanimity:  everybody’s moving in lockstep.  …all the elements that formed a virtuous circle to promote stability now will conspire to undermine it.”  from “Rational Irrationality – the real reason that capitalism is so crash-prone,” New Yorker magazine October 5 2009

 

NaNoWriMos total word count this chapter:  2,390; total word count todate (not including this notation) this chapter: 40,245

Ch 23 ~ The Enemy Within

“I know what is happening,” she blurted out, her eyes focusing into the present and looking over and through her surroundings in the Glenwood Cafe.  The place was still all abuzz with weekend patrons.  Pat zoomed up and down the not-too-expansive space between a motley assortment of tables and the narrowly unforgiving aisles where she set about busily refilling coffee and taking new orders.  And, Emily knew, surfing the web through the back of her eyeball.  The only difference in terms of knowledge was that Emily also knew Pat had no clue that the web was really surfing her.  It had personalized the experience to Pat’s particular mental DNA mapping.  Her thoughts were triggering the experience, the visuals, the viewpoints she was being fed and that she was sucking in like the very air that she breathed.  But in the end, it wasn’t really Pat’s thoughts.  Because in the end, it wasn’t really her unique mental DNA mapping that the web had designs on to use. 

Pat simply didn’t have a clue about what she simply but desparately didn’t know.  But what Pat simply but potentially devastatingly didn’t know was that she hadn’t a clue about the person — in the guise of the web — who was about to surf through her stream of consciousness.  Hell, the thought that someone could even do such a thing hadn’t even occurred to her.  Not on any level.  (How does one disguise oneself as the web and/or surf any part of the collective consciousness?)  This was not something she tended to even begin to remotely fantasize about.

“What,” Forge replied with hushed urgency.  “Em…what is it?”

“More than I could ever try to describe.  It’s all so incredibly complex and so incredibly unreal.  But very very very real,” she added, “And from the development that I’ve seen, from the turn that this took…I hate to tell you but I have to tell you.  It’s all so incredibly not good.”  She clipped that last thought out with some finality, then bore her eyes into Pat.  Rapidly then, as if deciding something and as if in need of pronouncing that something, she turned her eyes like lasers onto Forge and said, “You will never get that inside of my head.  Never.  Not in a million years.”

“It’s not all that bad,” he offered slowly, quietly.

“Yeah.  Probably not.  Not until someone figures out a way to hack into everyone’s brain.  But until that time, yeah, it’s probably not all that bad.  You’re probably right.”

Forge’s shoulders squared and his torso pushed itself upright now.  In point of fact, her words had the same effect as if she had rammed her hands into his arms and shoved his body back against the settee of their booth.   He slumped back into his seated position now.  As if winded, almost.  He had heard enough just then to know that he no longer needed to lean forward and climb into Emily’s mind to learn her views about  this new creation.   She could murmur it now.  She could murmur it from the other side of the world and Forge would still hear what she had said.   And what she had said was troublesome.

Somehow he hadn’t thought of this one, he frowned to himself.  He hadn’t quite thought this through, he frowned more deeply now.  In his rush to prove something, somehow he hadn’t thought through how this invention could be used…how it could be misused even abused.  And he still couldn’t describe the details of how that could be so, still he didn’t really have the full picture in his mind of how that could be so…but he knew that she did because she had been there to see it play itself out.  As he looked at Emily, he knew that she literally had had the full picture in her mind just moments before and he heard enough in her words and enough in her voice to know how deadly serious she was.

“Yeah,” she nodded her head grimly.  “It’s already begun, Forge,” she nearly whispered, pausing briefly with some punctuated trepidation before she continued her thought, trying her darnedest to sound casual. 

“Oh…and by the way…I wasn’t the only one in that space who was watching.  Don’t ask me how…but my presence was known.”

The expression on Forge’s face was one of such intense displeasure the likes of which Emily had never seen before that she barely recognized him.   She was grateful that she knew — at some level she knew — that his expression wasn’t directed towards her.  They had been friends too long for her not to know this.  This was a Forge variety of primal instinct.  This was his way of letting those around him know that he was going to protect the pack…and by whatever means necessary even if he still failed to grasp the where or what or how or even the why of the danger…or even when the danger was for that matter. 

“Oh, really,” his vocal chords stretched the sounds out low and dark until they sounded just about like a growl, brushing all the refined evaluation of who what where when why and how quite bluntly aside.  No doubt Emily was impressed with his fierceness, but still.  Not to sound ungrateful, but still she wasn’t exactly sure what a man with such soft hands could do in the face of a life and death situation.  Not that this was life or death.  It wasn’t she reminded herself.  But it was identity theft on a level never before achieved or never before imagined.  Who would she be if the slight man with the average build was able to usurp her identity.  Who would she be and what would she do. 

“Then…” Forge pushed the sounds out again, only pausing to tap his thumb with some force on the tabletop, “then let’s unbegin it, shall we?”   He didn’t wait for her to answer.  He wasn’t asking her viewpoint now.  He was deciding.  “And let’s remove that focus on you.”  His eyes locked onto hers with steely resolve.

“Now, my dear friend with a most fascinating and particular habit…some might even go as far as to say a most peculiar habit.  Tell me all that you know.  Tell me quickly.  I have the grave impression that time is of the essence.”

And so she did, and in the midst of the telling, Forge waved his hand toward the good looking young man with the mousy red hair and the laptop, indicating that he should join Emily and Forge at their booth.  And so he did, and Emily barely managed to keep recounting all that she had seen after somehow blushingly finding her footing again on the heels of the introductions, the warm smiles, the gentle hand shake that looked and felt more like a lingering caress, that said and felt so very much more than “hello”…that said and felt so very much more like “always.”  She had barely managed to continue sharing all that she had expeirenced in the different dimensions  but had the presence of mind — albeit at the very last nanosecond — to hold delicately private the description of their dancing together, she and Miles.  She believed they would still dance as one so beautifully one together.  She knew in her heart that they would.  And while she had seen it all unfold before her eyes and had felt her senses flood with joy and desire (and pulse a rush of blood to her outer most skin layer despite her best efforts to contain it) she preferred to allow those moments to unfold according to their own time, their own design. 

In the present, as she shared all that she knew of the slight man with the average build, both she and Miles Thomas watched a slow wave of recognition creep and then build across Forge’s expression when he realized he had spoken to this man…a mystic, he thought him to be.  Rather like an odd type of a odd little mystic who summoned around his person a crushingly quiet presence. 

But if Forge had his way, the three of them sitting around the formica tabletop in a booth at the Glenwood Cafe were about to broadcast that crushingly quiet presence into outer space.

NaNoWriMos total word count this chapter:  1,400; total word count todate (not including this notation) this chapter: 41,645

Ch 24 ~ Where in the Worlds…

“Well…”

Forge cleared his throat as if in an effort to disguise his thoughts and appear to be oblivious.  He spread his soft hands along the edge of the formica table that nestled itself snuggly between the booth benches, with Miles Thomas seated nearly electrically next to Emily, both of whom sat directly across from Forge…who was well aware of their electricity, the aura of which kept growing, surging and threatening (in a powerful yet lovely way) to overpower everything in its path.

Briefly, he looked up at the outer halo of their combined aura and was amazed immediately by the power of love.  Huey Lewis wasn’t kidding.  After a while, Forge cast his eyes down again onto the tabletop, else risk that he would continue to be completely distracted by their living breathing wordlessly unfolding romance…something everyone around them in the crowded Glenwood Cafe became intensely aware of just as much it seemed (if not even a bit more) than Emily and Miles were aware of themselves.  Afterall, they were in the thick of it, experiencing new levels new vistas together within this unspoken romance as those new levels, new vistas gently opened up to them.  They explored those new levels, new vistas in each other, together with each other without even realizing it.  Their instincts, their primal awareness, their collective consciousness had opened up, had entwined at some level.  It was just that palpable.

“Well,” Forge smiled slightly then continued as he firmly directed his mind back to what he now believed to be the most pressing issue at hand:  how to deal with this mystic, this person who Forge had met all that while back and who Forge hadn’t regarded as a particularly noteworthy early adopter of the embedded technology.  This mystic, this odd person of suffocating quietness was the one Forge hadn’t seen coming.  They say there’s always at least one.

“We stop him before he gets much further,” Forge breathed out through a thoroughly cleared throat.  “He’s actively inworld.  We need to find him there and from there…I don’t know the terms, but we need to — what do you call it — ‘cage’ him, trap him, purge him — whatever the term is that you use to remove his — what is the term — functionality?  To remove his ability to do what he’s doing, how about that,” Forge gave up.

Miles smiled thoughtfully.  Emily fidgeted nervously…quite distracted — albeit wildly pleasantly so — but the nearness of the redheaded good looking man with the laptop caused a party to burst out deep inside of her, frankly.  She was more than certain everyone knew it too.  But frankly, they both excelled at not listening one whit to Forge.

Then suddenly, Miles’s eyes widened, almost as if to indicate that he knew he needed to pay very close attention to Forge.  In that same moment, Emily latched onto a couple of words that she *thought* she had heard Forge say:  “…purge him…remove his — what is the term — functionality?…”  

It was from those couple of words that she blurted out:

“Are you suggesting…you don’t mean to imply…(she blinked and rolled her eyes under her closed lids somehow trying to cleanse her pupils from what they just had envisioned with those words) …that we…that we…kill this person?” she asked in such a muffled voice it was as if her chin and her mouth had taken her throat by the hand and had crawled down under the snug fabric of her turtleneck to hide.

“My dear,” he admonished.

“A reasonable question,” Miles offered.  Emily found herself reddening even more.

“I’m suggesting, not implying, that there has to be a way to unplug — for lack of a better description — his ability to hack into the idea of this global brain that you’ve introduced me to.”

“Introduced you to?  That you’ve facilitated.”

“That existed before the advent of any scientific advances,” Miles offered.  “Perhaps the ultimate high tech of all.  And it’s been around since the dawn of man.”

“In the form of the collective consciousness.  Indeed,” Forge agreed.

“Well, now it’s exposed.  And that’s all fine and well, but,” she paused “isn’t there a way for it to protect itself.”

“We’re talking in circles,” Forge offered.  “Or a series of circles.”

Indeed, mulled the slight woman with the napkin on which were drawn a series of concentric circles.

“Because we aren’t yet able to fully articulate a possible solution,” Miles agreed.

“But if the person you saw is able to do what he’s doing, Em,” Forge persisted.  “And you yourself are by some means doing what he’s doing…just on another pathway.”

“I’m not getting a warm and fuzzy feeling about where this may be going,” she muttered to herself but made certain to mutter loudly enough for Forge especially to hear.

He nodded grimly.  “I can appreciate that.  But it would seem we have no choice.”

“There’s always choice.  Even no choice is a choice.  So what exactly is it, Forge.  What does the choice look like?  What will it intend to do?”

“You have to go in, Em.”

“No.”

“No, precisely, in the sense that there’s no other way around it.  You must go in, Em.” 

“Why”

“Forge is suggesting that you can find the beginning of this, that you can undo whatever leap this person who you saw makes at whatever point in time that enables him to be able to transform the way in which he uses the embed such that it allows him to hack intention.”

“Somehow.  Yes.  Exactly.  Or so it would seem.  Close enough,” Forge muttered truly to himself.  He wasn’t entirely sure it made sense to suggest this, but he saw no other alternative.

“Do we even know what we’re talking about here?  I don’t mean to sound…abrupt.  Or rude even,” Emily said as quietly as possible but with some sense of urgency.  For the first time this day, she was the one who leaned forward across the tabletop, her intense attraction on every level to the redheaded good looking young man tingling around her chest and racing up and down her spinal chord into every nerve within her being.  She knew he was there immediately beside her and even now, as she moved forward and without benefit of sight, knew he was unmistakably there with her.  She hoped she wasn’t making an ass out of herself by sounding like a nay-sayer, but still she leaned forward in order to…implore, was the word she would use…to implore Forge to think this through more carefully than he typically tended to think through things when he found himself moved to a particular course of action.  When he found himself wanting to prove a point.

“We may have been lulled into a false sense of security by our own achievement,” Miles reflected gingerly.  “It wouldn’t make us bad people.  It wouldn’t be the first time this had ever happened to anyone in the history of the world.  Not hardly.”

Forge knitted his brows together for a time.  For such a long time, in fact, it had seemed that at least three or four weeks had passed.

…and that NaNoWriMo had come and gone, truth be told, with nearly 8,000 words remaining silent, waiting to be written, groused the slight woman as she smoothed and flattened the napkins that bore the concentric circles that she had drawn all that while ago.  Was it really four weeks ago?  She stared at the markings on the paper with tender interest, even though it was apparent that she had fretted over their shapes and connections, that she couldn’t quite make out the pattern of the whole story or how to compose it into that that might even remotely resemble the notion of a whole story.  Her mind wandered a bit as she thought about the artistic struggle, and at the same time of her mental wanderings, she viewed the graphical representation of her story outline. 

She had once seen it said somewhere (it had been said in writing, which is why she could confidently say that she had once seen it said), that the artist shouldn’t insert themselves into the story…that somehow when the artist did insert him or herself into the story, the story somehow became less-than…that the story somehow became nothing more serious than some exercise in playing-at, something not to be taken quite so seriously or with any kind of high regard or held in admiration by any kind of snobbish proclamation from those who so very often are more than quite prone to review what they, themselves, are more than quite prone to dare not ever think to try to actually do themselves.  And yet the slight woman could appreciate the general spirit of this sentiment…the one that suggested that the story should remain an identity separate and apart from the artist who created it.  At the same time, the slight woman could say without hesitation that such a creative world view made little sense to her…how could she ever separate herself from that which she created?  Its form comes from her mind, even if the characters then take the form (as she had heard that all artists should actually want them to do) to places she hadn’t intended or hadn’t even considered initially.  How could such a creative world view make sense, she wondered, when throughout the entire process an echoing played in the back of her mind…an echoing of words written lifetimes ago by the Bard…the echoing of the phrase “all the world’s a stage, and we merely players…”  Life as a creative endeavor.  Individuals as storyshapers whether or not they even realize they are immersed in the creative process.  How could such a limited creative world view hold now, most particularly now when the idea of story telling has been supplanted, disrupted – truly – by the notion of story sharing, by the notion of engaging others in the story, by the notion of the message as the medium as the messenger, all intertwined as critical components of story sharing.  In the midst of such a phenomenom, how does the artist then separate themselves out, deny themselves a role, deny themselves interaction in the piece that is born from their own minds and creative processes?  And if they don’t deny this for themselves, how would this form of story engagement be somehow less-than or playing at or not be regarded in the fullness that it is…something which, in the slight woman’s humble opinion, simply had to be regarded as an monumentally more textured and a more dimensional form of story sharing than probably existed ever before precisely because engagement between the reader, the creator, the characters — this blurred messy engagement where one morphs into the other — was central to the entire process of new media.  No longer a teacher-centric or lecture-centric form of story telling with a passive, perhaps asleep audience that one can only hope received the content or cared about the content.  No.  This now a fully engaged process of story building, story sharing with the audience as creator as character as process interacting with the content.  In fact building it.

How would

Such an audience

Take this story

Perhaps, at this particular juncture — a story that had idled for the past three to four weeks, the slight woman mused to herself

And after the three-four weeks of haitus, how would any audience member shape this story, interact with it and move it in whatever direction it called to be moved in, with nearly a charicature of an antogonist and a group of good looking beautifully spirited protagonists who sat in a welcoming warm restaurant while they explored the culture disruption — and all the elements of that disruption, good and bad, poorly articulated or well framed — of social media.  Of what art now means in a world where the message is the medium is the messenger.  Where Engagement is King.  How is the artist a dispassionate bystander in such a world?  And what does it mean to be truly intimate in such a world?

How would

such an audience

take and move this story forward

at this point?

And resolve or redefine what it means to be an individual in a global mind?

This wasn’t an attempt to write a story that condemns social media or technology.  In fact, quite the opposite.  This is a story that attempts to explore the revolution of how communications has been redefined.  This is a story that attempts to suggest how the creative process has been radically altered.  This is a story that attempts to paint a picture that hopefully might work to capture in one moment (albeit a static moment for something that appears to be continually evolving along a revolutionary track) intimacy and privacy just as those concepts and expressions are being radically redefined.  This is a story that attempts to explore how a sense of identity is being reshaped on a scale probably never before experienced and with a velocity that appears to be only growing exponentially.  Did Old Traditional Media try to tell us what to think and how to feel and how to be?  Is New Media really any different in that regard?  Does Google know our individual intentions better than we individually know them to be?  Does anyone or anything know them any better than we know them to be for ourselves? 

In a story about interactive communication, interactive technology, interactive story sharing, the slight woman with the concentric circles couldn’t help but muse through the dimensions.  Stories that lift up off of the pages even if they still show themselves with words on white background.  Stories now are multilayered.  How then, in such a creative age, would you the audience as artist as process as story, how would you move this story forward? 

The slight woman gazed directly into your eyes from across the WordPress screen.  She held the concentric circles up slightly and handed the pencil to you.  She likes pencils still, what can she say.  If you prefer some other way to capture thoughts, so be it, she mutters gently, before slowly drawing her eyes to the comment box, inviting you to pick up any thread of this story.

 

NaNoWriMos total word count this chapter:  2,385; total word count todate (not including this notation) this chapter: 44,070

 

Ch 25 ~ New Forms of Storytelling

“I can’t believe I’ve agreed to this,” she muttered, half-aware but nearly slipped fully into the comfortable bed of light and energy that Emily really should have recognized immediatley and should have recognized all too well because she skipped along this bed of light and energy every time she found herself in the grips of her particular habit.  It was within this bed that the collective consciousness lay, if the stream of consciousness was more like a snoozing being and less like a free flowing entity — or collections of entities…or something Emily couldn’t describe accurately, in actuality, because she didn’t know the fullness of it.  But the stream of consciousness would lay in this bed of light and energy in moments, Emily supposed, or in larger ways that Emily couldn’t comprehend…that no one could really comprehend…but perhaps in moments, the stream would settle itself into this bed of light and energy if it were ever to lay idle in one place, that is.  It just so happened that was exactly where Emily found herself in this particular moment.  Slipping into a warming bed of light and energy, laying idle in a room that looked for all its worth from what she could briefly tell to be some kind of hospital room maybe even an operating room, with machinery whizzing and whirling and registering and communicating all kinds of biological metrics and measures for people in coats with tablets and stethescopes curled around their necks like loosely wrapped scarfs worn on a brisk autumn day.

For more than an instant, far more than an instant, she shuddered in watch as the memory of this future scenario — seemingly occurring now, in this moment — unfurled itself again in her mind. 

A man stood over her.  A slight man of average build.  Seemingly inconsequential, but in actuality, she knew he was the very reason she found herself in this place. 

“Everything will be fine,” Forge assured her.  His voice pierced through the memory of the slight man with the average build in the darkened hospital room.  And in a blip that memory dissolved from her view, barely lingering in the scrapbook that was part of Emily’s mind.  She loosely rolled her head in the direction of Forge’s voice, bypassing the outline of Glenwood’s most successful entrepreneur with something to prove, and landing her vision upon, well, a true vision as far as Emily was concerned.

Miles smiled tenderly into her face.  He discreetly slipped his hands around hers.  His eyes held her eyes in quiet knowing, and the warmth of their light and energy cradled her into serenity and beyond.  The truth was the warmth of their light and energy seeped into her cells and stayed there, where it had always been.  Even when she opened her eyes again at last.  And when she did open her eyes again, she thought she was looking out into the world in the same instant that her eyes were looking quietly inward.  In fact, if you asked Emily she would say her eyes had never closed and on many levels, she would be right.  But on a medical level, in order for the operation to proceed, Emily’s eyes and mind and body would had have to have been tucked safely into the gentle bed of light and energy — which they had been, and where the central parts of herself remained (truth be told, had always been).  And now after what had been in actuality more than a few hours (pre-surigcal prep, surgery, recovery), Emily re-opened her eyes as if they had never been closed and saw in the front of her mind a flat screen that gave her entire being entrance to entire new worlds…ones that she hadn’t seen before but ones that had always been there.  

She sat upright in the passenger seat of a car now.  Miles manuveured the road expertly.  Emily could sense that he rather liked speed but chose this time to place a light foothold on the pedal for her sake.  They had left the hospital maybe just left, of that Emily was certain, although she couldn’t really recount the precise steps from the side of the bed where Miles tenderly held her hand and smiled into her eyes to the car where she was acutely aware of his presence and tried to regain the accounts of the day more fully.   She liked the part in the day when Miles had tenderly held her hand.  She admitted to herself that she hoped she could experience that again sometime very soon.  Isn’t it funny…despite having just had an operation, that was really where Emily’s mind dwelled — on that feeling of wanting her hand engulfed by his again — even as she asked questions to piece together a sense of context.

“Forge stayed behind?” she asked as if she had emerged from a moderate trance.  She was feeling a little heady still…but couldn’t honestly tell if it was from the procedure or from her feelings.

“Yes.  He said he wanted to check into a couple of things.  We’re to meet up with him later tonight.  Around dinner time, at the Glenwood Cafe.”  Miles spoke softly, perhaps anticipating her disorientation or perhaps for some other reason.  But either way, no doubt she was fumbling around with the controls at the back of her eyes, he was certain, trying to get accustomed to them.  And in fact, she was, albeit rather clumsily. 

“Where are we going then?” she asked casually somewhat brightly, hoping for an answer something along the lines of “dancing” or “a moonlit walk along the beach” (even though there wasn’t a beach to be found for hundreds of miles in any direction) or “cuddling.”  Or really anything at all as long as Miles wasn’t about to drop her off and leave.

He smiled in a gentlemanly way and said, “I thought I’d introduce you to a friend.  He has the same gizmo behind the eye as you do.”

“Do you have this…this…well…gizmo…well…whatever it is?”

“I do,” he confirmed.  “Just recently had the latest upgrade, which is what you had installed today.  More secure,” he answered before she had a chance to ask about the difference between the upgrade from what, say, Pat had installed behind her eye.  “Shouldn’t be as easy for anyone to be able to sense us…at least that’s the theory.”

She nodded her head, smiled slightly, remembering all too well why she finally agreed to have the gizmo placed behind her mind’s eye.  To stop the slight man of the average build.  (How they were going to stop him, she still hadn’t quite figured out.)  The one she had originally seen in the hospital room, a vision she had had not too long ago but a vision that she felt like she had had ages ago and the reality of which played itself out a bit differently than the way in which she had originally seen it, she couldn’t help but note to herself. 

She switched gears then, because she couldn’t quite reconcile the difference and because she couldn’t shake the feeling that even though Miles had the gizmo, as they were calling it, too, she had the sensation that he really didn’t need to have it.  That he could still travel these worlds even without a device embedded in the back of his eye.  Fantastical?  Maybe, she admitted even to herself, but she held firmly to the thought.  It was abundantly clear to her that the good looking redheaded young man driving the car so smoothly was something more than a genuis and on top of that possessed something more than a generous and loving heart.  That was all she needed to know, and so she didn’t ask anything more about a technology or a procedure that was on an entirely other plane, even though Miles could easily explain it to her and she felt confident could do so in a way that even she could understand.

Maybe after they caught this “bad guy” (however they were going to do that), she thought, she could ask Miles all these questions.  But for now, Emily had to think like Charlie’s Angels or Lara Croft, or Ripley, which was enough to make Emily laugh because she hadn’t the first clue about how to fend off an evil-doer, but that was exactly what she and Miles and, Emily supposed, Miles’s friend were setting off to do.  And with that thought of Miles’s friend, she remembered that she still didn’t know where they were headed to meet him.

“Where’s your friend again?”

“Right now?  Any number of places, at least one of which is Pages & Crumbs.  The other of which is most likely inworld.  Let’s see if we can find him en route,” Miles suggested. 

“We’re going inworld?  …right now?”

“Sure!”

“…um…while driving?”

“Why not?  They haven’t made it illegal yet.”

“And how could the police monitor it anyway,” she mumbled in a rather astonished way.

“Good point!” he replied with a smile, removed one hand from the steering wheel and with his free hand appeared to be navigating the wind.  “Okay, here’s what I want you to do.  Smile or furrow your brow…try a variety of things to activate the muscles around the eyes.  Wink if you like,” he said and then winked at her.  She had the distinct feeling it was a genuine wink to her and not an exercise in example.  Kind of like their eyes were holding hands, something that caused Emily’s face to turn flush red more than just a bit.  Instinctively and quite immediately, she smiled such a deeply penetrating smile she could feel her cells writhing in happiness.  And not only that, she suddenly, within that smile, could feel herself squeezing some gizmo from somewhere around the back of her eyeball, at first groping around there and then somehow naturally contracting and releasing what amounted to a complex symphony of muscle fibers so as to propel Emily’s entire body and mind inworld (while she sat strapped in the passenger seat of a moving vehicle, watching the pavement tumble past) through a blinding white flash where — after the light dissolved just enough to reveal depth and form and texture and sounds and surroundings — she suddenly found herself bouncing around the side of a giant castle that floated in the clouds.  

“Whaaaaaa…ttttt?  Whaaaaaaatttt?  Whattttttt??!  Whatttt!! What a totally wierd place to park a castle!!!  I can’t believe I agreed to do this!!” she shouted from the pit of her lungs and swallowed giant gulps of atomospheric mist as her body careened into the castle in the clouds and flipped somehow gracefully, even if most definitely chaotically, and thankfully (Emily thought) without any pain or harm whatsoever.  She knew because her hands busied themselves patting her body down as she sat and spun in the passenger seat despite the fact that only the sitting and not the spinning was generated in the atomic world but Emily spun anyway in both worlds and through the spinning rapidly took her own physical inventory, feeling no broken bones, no bleeding, no harm, no foul.  She witnessed the road as it peeled on by in the atomic world.  She witnessed a giant castle parked in the sky — as strange as Emily couldn’t help but think that was — in the digital world.  She witnessed these both, simultaneously.  Her body played havock catching up with itself in both worlds, but somehow miraculously without any apparent help from Emily, it did.  The mind is an amazing amazing amazing thing, she marveled, and then a flurry of redheadedness that warmed the mind of someone who was something far more than a genuis soared around her, swooping and lighting with impossible precision next to her.

Miles grinned widely. 

“You’re doing great, Emily.  Steer yourself a bit more…I know it’s not easy to harness from the back of the eye, but you’re doing really great.”  He squeezed her hand with his.  He said this in words…that he was squeezing her hand with his.  She saw his form, his wild red hair, his gentle smile, his handsome face, his luminous powerful presence.  She heard his voice, felt light and energy melded around brilliance and confidence, openness and wonder.  She saw his words:  he squeezed her hand with his.  And she felt his hand around hers — even before she felt his hand cradle hers as they rode in the car in the atomic world, even before that — she felt his being around hers even as she repeatedly bounced along the side of the castle in the sky.  Or was her heart really doing exuberant flips, she wondered quietly yet astonishingly to herself, gazing nearly wildly while at once serenely into his smile and then spinning side over side over front over back.

“Take control!” a voice yelled from someplace — yelling, not in a criticizing way, but in some kind of urgent way, as if in some kind of obvious way (as if everyone should somehow immediately know how to take control from the back of their eye).  The voice beckoned to Emily from her other side or one of the other sides that she found herself tumbling into and from somewhere above her, she thought instinctively but in all honesty Emily couldn’t really pinpoint the direction while she spun like she imagined a drunk would spin.  Only this extreme wobbling came along the edge of a cloud.  That brushed against the side of a castle.  Parked in the sky.  While her atomic tuckus was parked into the passenger seat of a car and images of both whirled and seeped into her mind’s eye. 

She blinked, or thought she did but she was too busy flailing about to be certain but knew only that her spinning had accelerated suddenly.  She grit her teeth realizing this would be a steep learning curve.

“Hey, Luke!  Ease up, buddy.  This is Emily’s first time.  She’s doing great.”

“Dude, dude!! She’s flipping all over the place!”

“Wheeeeee!” Miles laughed smiling into Emily’s eyes and with his hands holding her hands warmly and even more tightly.  (It was so…don’t ask in which world.  It was in both.  It was in all.  It was in theirs.  It was one.)  And Emily wrapped her hands around Miles’s hands, melding warmth and closeness beyond oneness.  “You’re doing great, Emily.  Don’t listen to Luke.  He’s a good guy but a bit excitable, shall we say, in here.  Luke, this is my friend, Emily — ” his voice wrapped around each character in her name and held it tenderly “– Emily, this is my friend Luke.

“Nice to meet you.  Now, take control already!” Luke yelled with some urgency, but still somehow playfully.

“Show off,” Miles chastised him.

“What exactly am I taking control of?!”  — she tried to yell — “and nice to meet you too!” — but her voice wobbled in her chest as she bounced repeatedly off of the castle.  It was as if an invisible hand was playing basketball, and Emily was the ball.  And the side of the castle in the sky was the court.  Where the hell was the hoop and the net, she wondered.

Luke nearly sighed with some exasperation.  She could just about sense his arms flapping down along the sides of his body as the exasperated sigh pushed forth from out of his lungs.  She could just about sense his eyeballs bugging out.  And then, when she looked slightly to the side of Miles who she had fixed her sights onto and who centered her focus and her insides no matter how wildly out of control she spun, she saw his friend Luke hovering to the side of Miles.  He flapped his arms down along the sides of his body.  His legs kicked softly forward and back, as if he were treading air, which really he actually was doing.  And really he actually was bugging his eyes out at Emily at the same time, in a “duh” kind of way.

“Your mind,” he said as if the word “mind” was the longest word in the history of the human language.  Then added, for effect and just because he was definitely being a showoff, “duh!”

“Can you be a bit more specific please?!”

“Listen to your heart,” Miles whispered in a manner that defied silence, and suddenly, she knew.  Emily couldn’t tell you how she did what she was about to do.  She could only tell you that it was perfectly natural and right, that it simply irrefutably had to be so.  She held the center of her focus deep within the pools of Miles’s eyes.  From there, her heart and mind willed all aspects of her being home…to that which she knew to be perfect and right, to be beautiful and undeniable.  She felt all aspects of her being and her body right themselves immediately then gently buffet her form from the wild spinning she had been doing and instead eased her being into a graceful glide upon the castle in the sky, into a serene walk and heavenly dance on the grand and ornately decorated terraces, into a long drink of the great expanse of the turrents and the manner in which they beckoned one to the stars, the stars to one.

She smiled, squeezing his hands, sensing his pleasure, knowing he sensed hers.  Emily was flying, and this was no dream.  She was flying in the skies, her hands and mind and heart wrapped one with the one who irrefutably had to be.  Because he was so utterly so wonderfully so, she whispered into her mind, she found tucked safely behind her mind’s eye, she saw gleaming so beautifully in the wholeness of her heart.

“There,” Miles said with a smile, “you’ve got it.”

“I most certainly do,” Emily said with a smile.  He could have sworn she winked with her voice, and in fact, she had.  And in fact he knew. 

“I most certainly do, too,” Miles winked with his voice.

Luke swooped in as close as he could without accidentally kicking his shoetips into either of their legs.  “Dude…I think Emily’s found control over her mind.  Now *this* is flying,” he said with quiet appreciation at Emily’s mastery over her movements.   

“Dude,” Emily laughed back.  “Thanks, and the thing is?  What does the notion of control *really* have to do with it?”

NaNoWriMos total word count this chapter:  3,030; total word count todate (not including this notation) this chapter: 48,100

Ch 26 ~ One World, Two Worlds, Three Worlds, Four…

Five worlds, six worlds, seven worlds…more.

She was having difficulty processing it all.  Even while she was smack dab in the middle of it all.

How on earth Miles drove down one of the busiest roads in Glenwood while flying in the air around a castle that hovered in the sky and while rapidly guiding her through a steep learning curve in this virtual world — and keeping her from jumping out of the passenger seat in the atomic world if for no other reason than the very startling fact that the experiences in both worlds were so utterly blurred together — Emily couldn’t say.   This was multitasking on an entirely different level.  She could only believe that Miles was able to be immersed fully in both worlds simultaneously because he brought his entire being to everything that he did.  There was no separation for him, with his sense of life whole and living within the universe of life… all around them on the inside, all around them on the outside.  And all around them through the fiber optic cables.  Somehow, Miles understood all of this on an intrinsic level.  This type of knowing was something in the DNA of his very fibers.  His fibers and the fiber optics, unique, individual and instinctively mingled.  Something he was born into knowing, a language that gave him understanding even if he didn’t have the words for it.  Something he trusted to be whole and complete even if it couldn’t be described because the wholeness of it all was too much to comprehend. 

But it did exist.  And it had existed and it would continue to exist.  Precisely because it is.

There was something much larger than the individual.  At the same time, there was something so very much in harmony with the individual and the whole of individuals.  There was something completely above and beyond the reach of “other people’s content.”  The very thing the slight man of the average build wanted to claim:  other people’s content. 

Emily scrunched her brow in thought and for the next several minutes completely forgot that she hovered several miles in the sky, with a foundation-less castle majestically surfing the clouds and Miles and Luke defying gravity along side her while also staring at her as if she might have been hit on the head or something.  Luke, with some curiosity mixed with apprehension; Miles, with unspoken but clearly broadcasted caring. 

“By stealing everyone’s identity, he wants claim to other people’s content, dont’ you see,” she said as if in a near trance.  Somehow the alien’s intention became even more clear to her.  She laughed softly for a moment.  That word.  “Intention.”  She had always been a firm believer in intention and still was, but given the circumstances unfolding around them, even Emily had to recognize that the concept of intention held special, ironic meaning now.  It wasn’t so much that the concept was redefined or that it was somehow now “bad.”  No, instead, it was precisely what some people of ill intent (ironically enough again) might do with it.  Somehow the slight man of the average build believed he could not only organize and anticipate intention, but outright take it.  Claim it.  Use it.  Abuse it.  Fashion it.  Snack on it.  Edit it.  Wipe it out entirely and push it back with thoughts of his choosing into the stream of consciousness to find its original “owner” (whatever the notion of “owner” might mean), going far far far beyond putting words into people’s mouth.  Far beyond that.  The slight man of average build had set out to put words into people’s thoughts, to hijack their thought process and their self-formulated intention only to forcefeed it with his own intention instead. 

“Other people’s content?  Dude.  I think she’s in shock,” Luke said with some amount of concern.

“He’s basically a walking talking living breathing search engine, who instead of providing a service to us is searching out every possible speck of energy about us.  Down to our behavior.  Down to our patterns.  Down to our motivations.  Right into our thoughts.”

Miles set his lips tightly together for a moment, thinking about what he was hearing.

“Exactly what you’re doing now…thinking,” she said softly and nodded her forehead delicately toward him.  “That’s what he wants to get.”

“She’s talking about the dude you mentioned?” Luke asked Miles but kept his eyes fixed on Emily.  She was a strange creature to Luke.  He stared as if trying to decide if he should believe her.

“Yeah,” Miles murmurred.

Luke nodded his head.  He swung his legs in a carefree motion as he hovered in the sky with his arms crossed casually in front of his torso and he thought on things.  And while he did, Emily watched in return.  He liked swinging his legs, Emily could tell.  He claimed his intention beautifully.

“And Emily here,” Luke said slowly after a beat.  “Emily here.  She’s the one who can travel time.  The one you mentioned to me just before logging in?”

“That would be correct,” Miles confirmed.

“I hate to, well, hurry this along,” she said suddenly “but we need to find the dude that Miles mentioned to you.”  What was at first her casual evaluation of Luke turned into a direct stare at him as if to vaporize what she took to be his apprehension about everything she was saying.  “Somehow we need to stop this guy, the alien,” she trailed off in thought.  “There must be a way.”

“Yeah, well you keep working on that one,” Luke surprised her by saying more rapidly now, albeit with a touch of grimness, “because you’re going to have to have that figured out alot sooner than you think.”

Miles spun his head abruptly to the side, where his eyes locked onto the eyes of his book-loving friend.  Even when in a serious frame of mind, Luke floated regally in the air, arms and legs whole body jostling and flowing with each turn of the delicate wind, perfectly anticipating the physical change — the tiny and sometimes not so tiny adjustments — , perfectly accommodating the physical demands — mind, body, spirit so perfectly in sync — and really so very much more, Miles knew.

“You know where the alien is,”  Miles said more than asked.

“Yep,” Luke confirmed.  “As it happens, I believe I do.”

“Where,” Miles and Emily asked simultaneously.

“Well, for starters, it turns out that the chief security officer is no stranger to all things inworld.”

“Is she here now?” Miles asked more than said.

Luke nodded his head, then added, “As luck or fate would have it, I saw her while I was flying around.  I actually ran right into her.  I mean…right…into her,” he emphasized.  Then paused.  Then added, “She’s not too terribly far away.”

Emily and Miles studied each other briefly before turning the attention back to Luke.  But in that brief visual exchange, they held an unspoken conversation on multiple levels.  That much was plain to see.  Even the conversation itself was apparent.  No extra security measures or stream of consciousness hacking needed to occur for anyone to know that Emily and Miles now looked at each other to see if either one of them was as perplexed as the other one was by what Luke was describing.  When they ultimately rejoined their eyes back onto Luke, their expressions urged him to say more. 

“Obviously, I didn’t know her at all before I ran into her.  Or before I heard all about an actual alien who turned out to be Big Brother…not that anyone could ever imagine that Big Brother was an actual person…of sorts…”

“…but…” Emily’s voice nudged Luke’s words forward.

“…well…even so.  I can tell that she is not at all herself.  It’s the best way I can put it.  If you ask me, it’s not her.  It’s him.”  He paused, then added, “Let’s go.  I’ll take you there.  See for yourself.”

What an odd turn of events that Luke would make that connection.  Yet for all appearances, he had and that was a good thing because time was increasingly of the essence.  All they had to do now was go with Luke, fly off to this new location, and see for themselves.  But for some reason, after they did, Emily had more than a hunch they would suddenly find themselves flying by the seat of their pants.  

Which — in a manner of speaking — was exactly what the three of them — Emily, Miles, and Luke — did then.  They flew, the three of them, with Miles clasping his hand a bit more firmly around Emily’s hand, then sliding it from her hand to lay around her torso just to steady her through the transport.  Within the blink of an eye (three blinks from three individuals to be precise), flight was less upon them than they were upon flight itself, and whoosh!! they had sailed in the air through what seemed to be a worm hole made of cascading light.  A worm hole that transported them to arrive within nanoseconds into the air just above the landmass of a new continent where they hovered quietly.  Only they weren’t the only ones hovering there.  Not terribly far away, not too terribly far at all, a statue of a woman hovered rather stiffly, her stiletto shoes controlled — nearly contorted — and flexed into points like sabers toward the gound, heels at the ready to gouge the surface with her authority.  The only problem was that while Linda Mall was, in fact, there…she really wasn’t in fact there.  At all.  In fact, she was really quite frozen there.  She was quite literally hollowed out and ghosted, point of fact.  

And he was there.  In plain sight.

Ch 27 ~ Giving Up the Ghost

An internal battle raged from the moment Emily, Miles, and Luke had transported into the new continent.  It was the same moment that their presence was sensed by the alien who had found his way not only to the Glenwood Cafe but to the mind hive of the internet.  In Glenwood, the alien would have been hard pressed to find the three who pursued him all in the same spot since they had been scattered at different tables or on the road or in some other establishment, most notably a bookstore.  Had he known he needed to pursue beyond the girl?  Not initially but now somehow yes.  And now, inworld, as fate or choice would have it, all the alien had to do was look up, and he saw them, the trilogy hovering above him. 

What happened next would be more thrilling if it had been a physical battle, with the trilogy somehow kicking the alien’s ass in some kind of fantastical All-Worlds Wrestling Event.   But that wasn’t how things played themselves out.  Instead what happened next was a quiet battle, engaged in on a much higher plane, on that ubiquitous “next level.”  Wherever or whatever that meant.  But wherever or whatever it was, that next level was not a cliche to Emily.  Nor was it one to Big Brother. 

It was, in fact, a very real place.

Miles held Emily tightly then.  He sensed where she travelled now.  He had observed her closely all that time sitting in the booth with his laptop at the Glenwood Cafe.  He had noticed that her eyes lifted themselves up and then her energy propelled itself inward, taking her outward again — Miles knew — to another dimension.  Not the atomic world.  Not inworld.  To some other time even if it was to the same place.  Even if it was to another place.  It was everyplace all around them, the Stream of Consciousness where Emily swam instinctively and in full sight, where the illusion of Time and Circumstance stripped and fell away.  Miles knew she was there now.  He watched by way of stolen glances at her atomic form seated in the passenger seat of the car where he saw her eyes lift themselves up.  And he felt by way of holding onto her digital form inworld where he observed her energy suddenly propel itself inward and then back outward again.  He knew she was on that next level…that other plane, the one that held everything together, the one that removed all boundaries.  All Miles could do was hold her steady in both worlds.  But the truth was, he could do even more than that.  Aside from Emily, only Miles had the capability of guaranteeing her return.  He may not have known that on a conscious level.  But if he were floating in the Stream, if he were surfing on his unspoken levels — levels unspoken even to the self — he would know this to be true.

And somewhere, not too terribly far away from his consciousness, somewhere not too terribly far at all, somewhere deep within him, filling his heart in fact, Miles had always known.  He held Emily tightly, as closely to him as his own skin.  Feeling their connection to each other growing and bonding ever more perfectly.  So very deeply in fact that if he listened very carefully — and he found himself mesmerized, compelled to listen incredibly deeply — he could hear new levels of knowing.  He could see new levels of the immensity.   He could see Emily just as clearly as she could see and feel and know him.

He saw Emily on the Stream, as clear as day flying and twirling with momentum, rising and undulating along waves.  She journeyed effortlessly along the stream of her identity.  It was the place where true authenticating really happened.  What was a name, even a birth name in the atomic world, but an invention?  What was any other way of manmade labelling or naming or organizing but creative invention.  The Stream was something altogether different.  It was the root of authentification — authentic authentification — that existed solely to recognize the one in the many, to recognize the whole of the one, together and individual.  Those parts in the Stream that bore Emily’s signature instantly recognized her.  Her identity, her consciousness, her existence glowed and giggled from her presence in the waves of everything.  It expanded out in happy particle streams to her and cascaded down and around her, connecting one to the other, binding joining never separated from the other.  Uniquely hers yet oh so very much woven into the complete tapestry of everyone and everything.  Uniquely individual but so very far, so impossibly far from alone or disconnected.  Everything was connected.  Everything was one.  Everyone was Everything.  Everyone was One and All. 

He gasped a soft deep breath, Miles did, at this realization, at this sight.  An incredibly comforting realization in one moment that bubbled up from his entirety.  And then in the next moment, the realization carried with it some alarm, because in that next moment, Miles saw the alien leaping across waves of consciousness in rapid pursuit of Emily.  His shadow cast itself heavily into the stream, dimming out light with darkness rippling through down and across the layers.  He absorbed all the energy, disconnected it all, overloaded it into passivity.  Whatever he touched,  it wasn’t the way of things.  Whatever he was doing, it was far more intrusive than anything could ever be:  swallowing intentions whole, categorizing the entire lives and motives of individuals, consuming it all as deeply as he could extend his dark reach and as deeply as he could spread his voracious appetite like a virus. 

He grimaced suddenly through his jaw, Miles did, and he leaned in facing what was unfolding before his very eyes.  He could see it all with such clarity in all worlds.  He lunged his body forward inworld as he held Emily in the air with him.  At the same time, Miles leaned his body forward abruptly in the car while his foot suddenly shoved at the accelerator, pummelling it into the floor of the vehicle. 

But something more happened on that other level.  Particle streams reached up and toward the alien.  When they connected, they were sucked out as if absorbed in the membranes of a sponge.  But what alarmed Miles was where those particle streams came from.  They flew up automatically to the alien from an identity Miles never would have imagined possible.  Seconds of shock felt like several minutes of upset that nearly erupted into years of shouts from deep within his throat, but Miles was too mortified to give an extended voice to his stunned silence.  Outraged comprehension fell rapidly into place now.  Miles wildly turned the speeding vehicle around, tires screeching in agony against the seismic lethargy as everything he thought he knew about Big Brother heaved and collapsed and dissolved violently. 

He gripped Emily’s hand and wrist tightly in the vehicle as he bore his weight through his leg and onto the accelerator.  And he drove as fast as he could.  Back in an anguished, nearly frantic rush.  Back to that unbelievable identity.  Back to the man who always seemed to have something to prove.

Was it being told what to think and feel and having all of our actions monitored that disquieted so.  Having the entirety of our spirit and soul categorized purely on the basis of a series of contextless digital actions, then labeled and used by some outside marketing agency with their proclamation of who we are?   Some would say we are who we are not who we say we are…but does that mean a marketing agency or anyone else like the alien who sought to hijack contextless digital tracks could actually discern the wholeness of our intention or the fullness of our beings?  Would they truly know who we are better than we ourselves would?  Or was it more unsettling to be endlessly pummelled with information and noise, the likes of which all but paralyzed us and jailed us into a state of passivity and uber egoism?   Brave new strange new world, still captivated by itself, marvelling at itself like babies laying engrossed in fascination with their own toes and feet and hands and fingers…not seeing anything much of the world around them.  Marvelling at these incredible creations — feet and hands — as if they had never been discovered by anyone anywhere else ever before. 

Emily flew along the Stream.  She felt the alien — the one with something to prove…these aliens always seem to have something to prove — in dark pursuit.  His silence crushed the dimensions around them and bore down rapidly upon her.  She could feel the blackness mounting fast behind her, the layers upon layers of particled consciousness stirred up in a strange new way.  Its bottomless depths sighing quietly.  He would never darken it completely, never completely consume it or snack on it for his own devices, she suddenly realized.  She heard all the ooodles and gaaggles of the immensity of the universes…billions of souls gazing joyfully in complete wonderment, innocently even at their navels and toes and hands.  She looked frantically along the stream with its vibrating energy and light billowing and pulsing independently and all at once collectively.  It flickered gently with a soft glow that somehow spoke to her, that somehow communicated clearly every unspoken word and dream, every known and pre-thought pre-intention…even if she sensed it more than fully knew it all.  She just knew it was there whether or not she was privvy to it.  Scanning the sometimes tubular sometimes morphing as a gigantic ocean sometimes glowing dewdrop of universes, she felt an energy reaching toward her, an energy of quiet undeniable connection, of eternal unspoken knowing.  With a gentleness and authenticity and nothing but a smile between them.  “Miles,” she uttered and felt him in the instant before that instant.  Her eyes locked onto his stream, wisps of particles glided up toward her, morphing in the outline of his brilliant soul…she had seen it in his smile.  She had been made privvy to it; they had given this to each other.  He had shared it with her just as she had with him.  She recognized him just as he had recognized her.  She saw him there.  She knew him.  Just as he did her.  She felt him in every part of her entirety and through all that was interwoven yet distinct.  Primal intimacy in the soup of everything, they bonded and melded as one in the stream of all.  And from there in this impenetrable place of unity together with him, from there she listened to him closely, as deeply as she ever had before.  She twirled along, diving slightly to skip her body along the surface of her own stream like a stone skipping along the ocean hurtling herself gracefully with a sheer intention that refused denial.  Then just as the alien lunged to savage her thoughts and wrestle her will away, to deny Emily her own self of self and replace it with his decree of who she should be, then just then her mind and soul, her entire being and entire heart moved faster, held stronger, reached new levels never before imagined, dreamed of, or described.  Just then, Emily reached down and gathered, touched and held their shared intention — the fullness of who she was and the fullness of who Miles was the fullness of who they were and would always be — within her own heart and soul.  Just then she vibrated.  Her form glowed beyond the boundaries of worlds and dimensions, inworld hovering above the continent where Miles held her tightly; seated in a passenger seat of a car that tore down a road and in which Miles squeezed her hand with his.  Light penetrated darkness, transforming shadows into glow, revealing hopes and dreams from secrets, revealing truth of a larger purpose from the depths of self absorption and mounting consumption.  Suddenly, toes and hands wiggled independently and with purpose, shielding off and breaking down and slamming a transparent yet impenetrable door on all attempts by the alien from a Black Hole to hack into the thought process, to steal identity and intention. 

And then suddenly the glow dissolved, transcending up to that higher plane, gently cradling the worlds in a new level of will.  The individual mind, Emily’s mind, Miles’s mind…the mind of each individual suddenly removed themselves from the alien’s reach.  Consciousness and subconsciousness had found a way to secure itself from a digital theft.  Intention could not and would not be wrestled away or hacked into.  Intention was much more formidable, of a far greater fullness than any map of digital behavior could ever hope to profile.

And then suddenly, Miles and Emily ran, flying on their feet down the street from the parked car through the crowded aisles of the Glenwood cafe to the table holding the wildly successful local entrepreneur.  They bullied their ways into Forge’s thought process as he dwelled on the power of the embed.  He was a slight man of average build.  In that moment, sitting in the booth, he sat with a quietness that crushed everything around him.  He sat in his darkest thoughts and chewed deeply over and over and over again whether or not to pursue the mind hacking aspect of the embed as an entrepreneurial venture. 

Forge glanced up with some annoyance mixed with some welcome distraction at Emily and Miles, a frown creasing his forehead, his eyes showing no surprise really to see them.  They had just met each other, Miles and Emily, and danced along the edges of a blossoming romance, Forge could tell.  Their connection was immediate and complete.  Forge marveled at the irony.  Exactly what he thought to do with technology, these two achieved in an instant with their hearts.

“I had this great idea…”  Forge’s voice trailed off as he read their expressions.  They sat across the table from him, studying him with concern, catching their breaths. 

“A great idea…” he said without much enthusiasm, light shifting slowly over his dark thoughts, the obsessive control freak of his wants giving way to a more enlightened awareness — maybe not a complete understanding of it because he hadn’t seen it all play itself out like Emily just did — but at least an intelligent guess of the reckless, destructive contortion that his own mind had made of the phrase “knowledge is power” 

“You saw…” he added, looking first at Emily, then realizing Miles somehow saw some of that future possibility too.  Pat whizzed past the table, fully engrossed in the chaos of her morning shift at the Glenwood Cafe.  Emily stared in Pat’s eyes almost as if seized with an affliction and didn’t relax until she realized that the embed behind Pat’s eye was all part of a possible future Emily had seen.

“Yes,” Miles said calmly.

“We did…have to say…it wasn’t the best side of you, Forge.”

He snickered at his long time friends.  Somehow he knew.  A piece of him knew.  More light shone in his mind, dissolving away far out of his reach the urge to try to control minds.  He felt himself more than quite a bit lighter and brighter in spirit.

“Yeah?  Well, what else do you have to say to me?”

They looked quietly at each other, smiled gently and as they looked then to their friend Forge, nodded their heads as if to punctuate their words and said, “Maybe the mind hacking’s not such a great idea afterall.”

“Hmmm,” Forge grinned in resignation.  His great idea had given him long pause afterall…long enough for Emily to use her particular talent and with Miles’s help somehow (“somehow” only in that how does one categorize and fully describe the power of love?) —  to see how it could all play itself out.  He knew.  Before he even felt the great idea dissolve away along the stream where his less-than-best-side had travelled in some future scenario, Forge knew.  Maybe not such a great idea of his afterall.

“Well, then,” he continued, not at all downbeat.  In fact remarkably upbeat.  “What then?”

NaNoWriMos total word count this chapter:  4,250; total word count todate (not including this notation) this chapter: 52,350

Concentricity … 17 – 21

Note from the woman drawing the concentric circles…in this post and another post to follow are entries for the rest of “Concentricity”.  I wrote much of this in November, but admit that I had about 7-8000 words left to write after nanowrimo(s) ended.  In December, I wrote about 6000 words and in January, I wrote the remaining 2000 plus.  2000-plus words because in trying to articulate communication changes and messenger-as medium-as message and the creative process and what intimacy and knowledge are (so much of which seems to be nuanced changes as well as very obvious changes), I bit off more than I could chew and exaggerated some elements in an attempt to find clarity, ironically enough).  This disclaimer aside, here’s the rest of the attempt at a story…utlimately 50,000+ words, yay!)

Ch 17 ~ Surfing the Mind Electric

“It’s a shame all of these ideas came to show themselves before I arrived,” the slight man with the average build — the Alien Big Brother — said to no one in particular.  Would I really speak like that, he paused to ask himself.  He thought not.  He asked for a retake, even though this wasn’t a movie.  Hell, he didn’t ask for anything.  He just took it.  Starting with a retake.

“So much shit to shift through…a world of noise to tap into,” the slight man with the average build — the Alien Big Brother — said to no one in particular.  He was having trouble finding his voice, even he could admit this.  Hardly easy to find a voice for someone who was born in a place of crushing nothingness.  He was, in a way, like a child, learning how to speak.  But there was only one purpose that drove him, only one thing he chose to do with his voice and that was to broadcast it through all of the channels of every medium.

“This might not be as easy as I originally thought,” he said to no one in particular and he grimaced deeply at this fact.  With each passing moment, he felt the planet continue to influence his very nature.  Sounds continued to escape his lips, which had the effect of riling something deep within him.  He simply couldn’t accept that the ways of his place of origin could be bested and would submit to the will of this planet…that a crushing Black Hole wouldn’t prevail with a crushing resound.  Instead, his inborn tendencies borne from the Black Hole were being altered rapidly and unrecognizably so, no matter how hard he thought to live what he knew.  Even in the silence of his own Earth-bound house this was true.  He dwelled in a dark place, one with no distinguishing characteristics, but one that — much to his annoyance was littered with beams of diffused light rotating throughout various parts of his dwelling.  It was a sparse dwelling, holding little more than his slight person — his complete alienness — in it.  No time for leisure things or creature comforts.  No interest in appointments or curios.  No need for a computer or a flat screen tv or a cell phone.  Or a Mother Ship, even.  He had much more at his fingertips than any of all of that could even think to provide even if they all had been combined.  He had more than the world at his figuretips.  What he truly had — plugged in at his eyesocket and something he obsessively twiddled with — was unlimited access to all the channels in the entire universe. 

could one really limit their views by believing that collective consciousness took up residence only on the planet Earth, he wondered and voiced his rhetorical ruminations to no one in particular.  With all the debris in space, all the hardware littering the vacuum, and the tsunami of noise pushing forth from the planet Earth and threatening to cascade and crash down around the entire galaxy first and then the entire universe second?  (He rambled and babbled a fine blather even in the void of his own mind.)  With voices, ideas, hopes, dreams, desires, intentions reaching out far beyond the outer reaches of the plant?  could one really limit their views by thinking that…thinking that collective consciousness was somehow bounded to the blue and white planet in this place in space?  could one really limit their views by being so very planet-centric, he sneered to himself as he continued to tinker at his eyesocket, testing the channels for the underlying connective fibers.  Much like connective tissue in the atomic form, yes, but instead, connective fibers for the mind, connective fibers of thought…connective fibers of energy…the stuff that runs invisibly throughout all of creation, known and unknown.  Decidedly inner space even in the ever expanding and farthest reaches of outer space.  Get over yourself, Planet Earth, he spat in his head.

“It must be so,” he muttered as he concentrated his field of view along each channel that was being broadcasted to the front of his mind.  (Maybe it was the back of his mind.  Maybe it was his armpit.  Maybe it was the inside of his kneecap…he was an alien afterall.)   He fussed in a peculiar way.  He was hitting the wall and this began to irk him no end, causing his mind to fill with no small amount of agitation and intensifying frustration both of which he mixed in with his own stubbornly unyielding determination. He would force his way in if need be, he told himself and clenched his jaw as if the clenching would punctuate his resolve and tear through any restrictions that had seized ahold of him. 

In space, can you hear the screams of authors and would-be authors during the third week of NaNoWriMo?  In space, can you hear the answer to why the third week in NaNoWriMo seems to be so particularly excruciatingly difficult?  The slight woman with the concentric circles turned her head under and peered quietly over her shoulder to see if Emily or anyone else in the story had noticed her writer’s block, had noticed how inelegantly she was pushing through this.  If they had, she had noticed not because she sat blinded by the whiteness of the blank page of her wordpress account.  Get over the third week, she spat in her head.  Get over your process, she spat to herself.

The slight man with the average build was not a muuhaahaaaa evil villian sort.  He didn’t lean to the theatrics or the dramatics but instead stealthily and incessantly intended to chip away bit by bit at a person’s will.  He focused more intensely now, testing the channels for the underlying and surrounding layer that bound and directed the broadcast such that it was woven directly into the layer that bound and directed each person’s mind.  It was there…that coupling, that mental fornication…happening in each moment, happening in each nanosecond multiple times over.  His hacking of a person’s will need not be elegant or surgical, only effective in opening the door to the mind and providing him with direct access into the heart of a person’s consciousness.  The fabric and fiber of their entire being, their mental framework, their belief system, the very engine behind their actions.  This was the vehicle he would drive and drive hard and fast into the ground.  He would split the world open, tearing out a one-way path to force his intention, his purpose, his will onto everyone before him, behind him, aside him, against him.  Even with him.  And through it all and at the end of it all, no one would be over him, of that he was convinced.  But were they now with him, he mused to himself almost from a place of friendless insecurity but he could never admit that to himself even if he full well knew the answer.  Of course it had to be no…no had to be the answer (becuase it’s only the thrid week!  get over it already, she spat again!)  But yes or no was of little importance at this moment.  Because the slight man with the average build who had made his way onto the blue and white planet with no good will in mind knew that the inhabitants here were well on their way to being with him.  They were so very far along that path…far more than they even realized or even thought to realize, and the slight man had the entrepreneurialism of Forge to thank for that fact.  In fact, once these humans, he scowled (even though he found himself enjoying forming the word “human” between his lips)… once these “humans”, he repeated, eventually caught onto the path they were really on, the entire world could thank Forge personally, he grimly decided.  But after he hacked into each of their minds, they would never catch on, really.  He knew this to be so, and yet some kind of perverse pleasure ran through his mind at the thought of his allowing everyone on the entire planet to know who had given him the means to steal their wills and ultimately, to control the entire collective consciousness.

Ouch…she thought to herself and desparately tried to stop counting the days until the beginning of the fourth week when she hoped by some miracle something of the story arc would insert itself again…because after all, come the forth week, the pressure to control the consciousness of the entire piece is really on.

NaNoWriMos total word count this chapter:  1,260; total word count todate (not including this notation) this chapter: 27,310

Ch 18 ~ When there is a will…

The images in time and space and place — filled with an assortment of people, most of whom she didn’t know until now — flew rapidly to Emily now.  Were they even in the Glenwood Cafe anymore?  Physically perhaps…but Emily considered the possibility that she, the good looking redheaded young man with the laptop, Forge, and Pat might not even be there physically.  Something was happening, she thought to herself in the most quiet of ways, trying to shield some part of her mind into a corner outside of the chaotic images that flew at her now.  Forge’s lips had silented themselves, but his eyes hadn’t.  He could see that Emily was in another dimension.  He latched onto her, wherever she was.  With their eyes, Miles Thomas Brown and his employer Forge, the wildly successful Glenwood entrepreneur, latched onto Emily with their eyes wherever she was taking them.  Wherever she was being led.   Pat seemed to be furthest down the way to there, Emily realized.  Wherever “there” was…and whatever “there” was. 

Something told Emily…something told all of them…that they really weren’t in the Glenwood Cafe anymore.

Linda Mall spent her afternoons in the fishbowl at the front of the suite for the security monitoring department.  Make that “organizational identity” department.  They liked to think of themselves as leveraging the organization’s identity or as building upon its intellectual assets even though everyone else knew them really to be in the business of monitoring every step taken by the firm’s employees.  But the staff at the security monitoring department wouldn’t necessarily know that’s what others thought…because they hadn’t yet figured out a way to monitor the minds of everyone in the organization.  At least, not yet.  Would that be a worthwhile thing to be able to do?   Linda Mall chewed the question over in her head as she stood in the center of the fishbowl at the front of the suite and gazed at the floor-to -ceiling glass entrance.  She took her job seriously.  Such a thing could make her work even that much more effective.  Imagine corralling and marshalling everyone’s thought repositories for the good of the organization’s brand.  Yes, she answered herself.  Kind of like a pre-crime approach to security monitoring or phrased another way, a more appropriate way in Linda’s estimation, kind of like a pre-brand dilution approach to brand management.  Thwarting any brand dilution activitieis (i.e. security breaches) before they even happened.  Catching them “pre-intent”…even before the intent was crystalized or known fully.  

Such flight of fancy, she thought to herself and flicked her eyebrows up ruefully.  And maybe all the better that it was, she decided.  Because if the firm had that capability, would the likes of Linda Mall and her staff in the Security montioring Department really even be necessary anymore?  Would her work then be so effective that she would, well effectively, work her way out of a job — no, she shook her head vigorously in her mind — in the security monitoring department?  Strike that…make that “organizational identity department” because, as I said, they liked to think of themselves as in the business of protecting intellectual assets.  Not only that but the name Security Monitoring Departmetn wasn’t exactly warm and fuzzy.  In fact, it proved to be quite alarming to the vast majority of employees, even to Linda Mall and that’s saying something because Linda Mall, who was in the practice of taking her job very seriously, was the organizatino’s Chief Managing Officer (initial cap, please…that title was well-earned if you asked Linda and deserving of all the importance it gave to her).  As the Chief Managing Officer (some would say a glorified office manager, but they never said this to her face…or anywhere in the building since Linda was constantly watching everything that happened there and on the outside perimeter of the building), but as chief managing officer (“ahem,” she coughed with poignant annoyance)… “oh right,” the slight woman said.  So as the Chief Managing Officer, Linda Mall — being the strategic thinker that she liked to think she was — proposed a name change.  What’s in a name, she asked rhetorically as she watched the Work Order staff strip away the old lettering and replace it with “Office of Organizational Identity — Where all the Intellectual Assets Come Together.”   Linda smiled with no small amount of satisfaction.  It was always invigorating to see progress being made.  She studied the freshly made changes in language.  She cast her long gaze over the now officially redirected message on the official signage and felt her entire department fast forward from 20 years ago into 10 years ago.  This was substantial progress, she thought to herself and laughed slightly at the realization that she coudl still think that thought to herself as ironic as that was, given her curiousness over the notion of being able to actually monitor the thoughts of others.  But that notion was just flights of fancy, she chortled inside, and allowed herself to swim in the pleasure of progress…a 10 year leap forward into 10 years back. 

“We’ve moved light years into the last decade,” she murmurred with great satisfaction.  The work order staff might have heard her (in fact they had), but they didn’t acknowledge her.  Frankly, they didn’t quite understand what she was talking about, but they weren’t about to suggest to her that she wasn’t making sense.  It would do no good. 

“And next month,” said Linda Mall, the strategic thinker and Chief Managing Officer of the Office of Organizational Indentity — where all the Intellectual Assets Come Together, “next month, as the Office of Brain Capital, we’ll move light years into the future.” 

Several banks of monitors that confirmed the firm’s survelliance cameras were hard at work carried a never-ending load of images across the screen.  The life of the organization moved and flowed before her eyes across those screens while she cast her gaze about the fishbowl entrance of the Office of Organizational Identity.  Imagine.  All this equipment flooding the senses.  Everything here was only a very small portion of what the firm allowed people to see.  The remainder of her vast suite (and Linda did quite think of it as belonging to her) was a veritable sprawling complex of gizmos and devices — large and small and powerful — that were brought to bear to, yes, she said to herself, to protect and advance the Organization’s Identity…of which I am the Chief Steward.  Linda Mall took her role very seriously…so much so it eclipsed her own identity.  But that was neither here nor there.  It was, in fact, quite internalized, and along those most intimately internalized lines, as luck would have it, all of the organization’s gazillion oodles of dollars worth of gizmos and devices combined were nothing to what Linda Mall had just recently come across.

A small series of cogs and wheels, some miniscule internal device whirled behind her eye.  She had met a man, a slight man with a sneer, but nonetheless a compelling person at a recent Worldwide Security Monitoring Conference, and while she typically heard the same speakers, saw the same attendees, rehashed some of the same group think that some of these conference can slip into when one attends them year after year after year, Linda Mall had seized up with an unsettled reaction, at first, to the slight man with a sneer.   There was something…so…very…odd…about him.  He seemed altogether otherworldly, as fanciful as that might be of her to think or say, but she couldn’t pinpoint how or why.  For someone like Linda Mall who prided herself on her ability to size people and situations up in an instant (afterall, she watched them all day everyday), the ambiguousness, the overpowering curiousness about the slight man and her own very shocking inability to label him in and box him into a slot vexed her no end.  She simply wasn’t used to this.  And so with the bizarreness of her own quite substantial capabilities failing her before her very own eyes, she had no other choice but to seek him out.  Becuase this kind of thing had never happened to her before.  And so she had sought him out.  And so they had talked…pleasantly, if, yes, oddly so only because of what she sensed to be his crushingly otherworldly nature, as bizarre as that was for her to say in describing it.  But by the end of the three-day conference, she had managed to look past that because what he discussed with her was so overwhelmingly compelling and intriguing that that was all that she had heard.

Forget the conference package…the multitude of pages that consisted the attendees directory, the continually exploding collection of business cards, the plethora of presenter bios, the forests of brochures and powerpoint printouts and DVDs, pens and totebags and cubed notepad stacks, plenary session materials and breakout session materials…and the magazine guide to the city presented very politely on the writing table in each hotel room.  Forget the name badge.  What Linda Mall came away with after the three-day event were very empty hands (save her travel receipts) and a fully loaded wired mind.

She squeezed something…something around the back of her eyeball.  She couldn’t tell you where it was exactly or how she was able to access it and drive it, per se, exactly.  But she somehow “moused over” something in her connective tissue (or someplace like that) and found her way to the latest greatest social networking platform that her daughter basically lived in these days.  The girl takes her laptop in with her to the bathroom, Linda frowned slightly, not really knowing if this was a good thing or a bad thing.  Was it any different really than taking a book or a magazine with you into the bathroom?  She wasn’t exactly sure.  At least it wasn’t the phone, she thought, knowing full well Katie could be skyping on the throne for all she knew.  Yuck.

At 20 years old, Katie wasn’t a child, but as far as Linda was concerned of late she was behaving in a manner that parents trouble themselves over when it comes to how their children act in life.  From what Linda saw of her daughter’s posts to her Door on the latest greatest social networking platform, her daughter seemed determined to express something quite a bit more potently provocative than a sterilized notion of adulthood. 

“Why do you post things like that out there,” Linda rattled the words out of her mouth with no small amount of concern.  She wasn’t yelling.  No, not at all, because the fact of the matter was Linda wanted to be heard and shouting would only fall on deaf ears.  “We know you’re a woman.  The world knows you’re a woman.  Do you not know yourself to be a woman…is that why you post things like that to your Door?”

“You just don’t get it,” Katie snapped back. 

“And not just once or twice, I might add,” Linda added.

“I know what I’m doing!”

“Yes, and so do I.  Although, honestly, honey, I think you don’t really know what you’re doing at all,” she said with quiet exasperation.

“Oh, Mom!” Katie puffed the words out and then stormed out of the house and into the routine of her day.

“I just can’t stand seeing it, Katie,” Linda called after her.  “I just worry about you every time I see it,” Linda nearly pleaded, which would have shocked everyone in the firm.  Linda was one who was not known to be a pleader.  But when it comes to her own flesh and blood and how she witnessed her baby “…diluting her brand…” she thought …well, pleading, talking, lecturing, asking, nearly yelling but not shouting because she wanted to be heard and not shut out, well, yes all of these things weren’t beyond her then.

And so that conversation had gone, as it had always gone these days of late, but none of that meant that the conversation had gone away.  It hadn’t…not by a long shot.  Linda nad Katie revisited that discussion, much to Katie’s upset, on a near daily basis, for all the good it did.  In fact, it seemed to do little to no good.  Katie’s more than potently provocative posts were rapidly on the increase in both volume and shock value instead of the opposite.  This pattern of behavior alarmed Linda no end and caused her to check her daughter’s Door compulsively.  She moused over to the site from the back of her eye all the while physically standing in the fishbowl entrance to the suite of the Office of Organizational Identity.  She rapidly squeezed some device or mechanism or nerve endings or connective tissue or some combination of something inside of herself.  She couldn’t tell you how she did all of this.  She could only tell you that she did, because within the blink of an eye, Linda had logged into the social nteworking platform for the sole purpose of reading what she couldn’t help but anticipate would be a multitude of upsetting posts on her daughter’s Door.  She sighed.  Obsessing over her daughter’s Door was a behavior that Linda found herself adopting nearly subconsciously throughout the day.  And she couldn’t say that she much liked it…despite her own field of expertise.  But check in on her daughter’s digital behvaior she did.  Routinely.  So when Linda pointed and clicked somewhere in the stream of her mind’s eye, she believed and fully expected that she would enter Katie’s world.  But instead, she was met with the rude discovery that Little Miss Katie Mall, daughter of Linda Mall, the Chief Managing Officer of the Office of Organizational Indentity formerly known as the Security Monitoring Deparmtent, had defriended… 

“Her own mother!” Linda grunted the words out fully cloaked in the heat of her breath as if she were giving birth. 

“I love her…I do…I do……….but……..but……………….what a little …………..”

Shut all the way out.  This had never quite happened in this way to Linda before. 

“Who does she think she’s dealing with,” she evenutally fumed quietly.  The Work Order crew (all two of them…why it took two, I couldn’t say) looked up from under their bushy eyebrows only to cast their eyes quickly back down to the carpet fibers.  They decided not to even think about fishing in Linda Mall’s expression any longer than necessary.  She had that look in her eyes.  That look of steely inner resolve that pointed its energy with pinpoint precision onto, well, something and had the effect of making anyone who saw it want to be asbsolutely certain that they weren’t the object of the pinpoint precision in her eyes for fear that their heads might explode.  It was more than an intense look that dwelled underneathe her eyelids.  It was a forcibly quietly wild look that increasingly verged on the creepy, and everyone — including the Work Order staff — had noticed it even more than they ever had before…ever since she had returned from the conference.   Not only that, but since Linda Mall had returned from that conference, everyone definitely noticed that she seemed to know even more things now than she ever had before.  Things that weren’t so readily or so easily filmed, not even after the installation of 20 security cameras hanging down the hallway like stringed lightbulbs.  Eighty cameras within a six block walk in most major cities.  Twenty cameras decorating each and every hallway in the building of the organization in which Linda Mall prided herself on serving as the Chief Steward of the firm’s intellecutal assets. 

Yeah, people who worked there talked about this a great deal.  Only they whispered it.  Only when they whispered it, they did so amongst themselves and only when they were far, far away off of the work premises because of late, Linda Mall’s reach was long.  Indeed. 

Thoughts whirled through her mind.  She pushed her shoulders squarely back.  While she stood, deep in disbelief that her daughter had not only continued to go against her counsel but had in fact thought she could block her mother out, Linda reached an arm out instinctively…as if preparing to test the limits of that long reach of hers.  But this was not a test that Linda worried about failing.  No, in fact, she was deep in the realization that there was more than one way to skin that independent streak of her daughter’s and peel beyond the layer that Katie’s now-slammed Door had pushed out into the girl’s now defriend mother. 

Enter Nicole.  Nicole Louise Taylor was one of Katie’s closest friends.  In many ways, the two couldn’t be more different if they had tried but somehow they had a meshing of viewpoints and personalities that clicked and worked incredibly well together.  Their physical differences were a bit more stark. Katie was tall and rail thin with a fresh wholesome face that men and women alike gravitated to.   Nicole was petite and roundish in body and in face, but her curves had nothing to do with the fact that she had just given birth to her first child.  Nicole had always been curvaceous.  Katie wore her clothes skin tight; even as a waif she was poured into them.  She had the uncanny —  and to her mother Linda — the unsettling ability to make a tailored career wear suit look like it was made of latex and made for scuba diving, the fabric bounded itself to her form so breathlessly tightly.  Nicole, on the other hand, was a bit more loosely wrapped…but only when it came to her fashion style.

Linda scanned Nicole’s Door on the latest greatest social networking site.  After reading her posts, Linda immediately learned that Nicole was in a bit of a tiff at the moment.  Well, for the last several hours, according to the day/time stamp of her post entries.  Drama filled the World According to Nicole, who was a bit ticked off — well, more than a bit ticked off — because it appeared that one of Nicole’s other bestest friends had absolutely no clue that Nicole had just given birth to her first child, a boy, Trevor James Taylor (Nicole’s mother had always loved the artist).   Linda smirked and could only assume that Nicole wasn’t going to be singing “You Got a Friend” to her forgetful bestest friend, who Nicole compulsively tore into with a series of posts on her Door.

9:30  “WTF!!  How could she NOT know I just had a baby.   I JUST HAD A BABY HOW OMFG WTF HOW LAME HOW COULD SHE NOT KNOW!!!

Then another entry…

9:31 “I POSTED PICTURES OF THE LITTLE GUY ON MY DOOR!  HOW COULD ANYONEEEEE NOT KNOW!!!!”

Then another entry…

9:35 “HOW COULD A BFF HAVE NO CLUE & BE SO TOTALLY CLUELESS!!!!  YEAH SOME BBF!!!! PFFFFTTTT!!!”

Then another entry…

9:40 “WTH!!!! WTFFF!!!!! PHHHHTTTTT!!!  CURRENTLY IMMERSED IN A MASSIVE TEXT WAR WITH FORMER CLUELESS BFF MORON WHO DIDN’T CHECK MY DOOR TO SEE THAT I HAD JUST HAD A BABY!!  SHE WANTS TO TALK ON THE CELL, WTF!!!  THE CELL??!!!  IS SHE IN THE DARK AGES?  HOW DOES SHE LIVE WITH HER HEAD SO FAR UP HER ASS!!!”

Sheesh, Linda rolled her eyes.  Without even realizing it, before she knew it she had written on Nicole’s door:  SHEESH!!!! and the realization of that fact caused Linda to jump back into the base of her career wear pumps with the high but sensibly fashionable heel.  But what really curled Linda’s toes wasn’t so much that her thought had just appeared on Nicole’s door.  What really took Linda’s breath away was the fact that her thought had just replaced some of the words *in Nicole’s very own entry*…

9:35  “HOW COULD A BBF HAVE NO CLUE & BE SO TOTALLY CLUELESS!!!!  YEAH SOME BBF!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!!”

Linda blinked and checked the day/time stamp.  “Oh my god,” she breathed and in that breath was knocked back even further into her stillettos.

9:35  “HOW COULD A BBF HAVE NO CLUE & BE SO TOTALLY CLUELESS!!!!  YEAH SOME BBF!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!!  OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD”

Linda held her breath and didn’t say another word.  She gathered herself and tested the limits of whatever was happening…she tested the limits of her own reach and simply thought “Erase Nicole’s 9:35 entry but show the timestamp” and instantaneously, Linda’s eyes were met with tihs:

9:35 …

Her nerve endings bunjee jumped.  As she felt adrelin coursing through her every cell, Linda didn’t think another thought but only held her breath wanting to scream out loud from complete surprise and delight it dawned on her what she could do with this.  When it dawned a doozy of a thought dawned on her.  The most perfect thought she could have to accomplish exactly what she had intended to accomplish by coming to Nicole’s door in the first place.  Linda was nearly one hundred percent sure it would work and so she let her doozy of a thought rip into life…

9:35  “HOW COULD A BBF HAVE NO CLUE & BE SO TOTALLY CLUELESS!!!!  YEAH SOME BBF!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!!  OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD”

…but this time, the entry reverted back to her previous thought and nothing new had changed.  She didn’t understand.  Her previous thoughts, as abbreviated as they were, had poured themselves into Nicole’s very own posts.  Why not this new thought, she wondered quite crestfallen  On top of that, she just noticed that none of the wonderings in which she was presently immersed had suddenly appeared in Nicole’s own posts.  Was everything in her thoughts suddenly too long, she wondered.  “Did complete sentences not work?” she asked Nicole’s door but it stood quietly unchanged.  Linda suspected that complete sentences might not work afterall.  This disappointed her greatly because what she wanted to say in Nicole’s entry was more like a lecture directed at one of Nicole’s BFF (as Nicole would say) and less like a logo.  But still…if Linda Mall were forced to edit her lecture down to a few characters, she would find a way to do so and still convey her message.  Afterall, the name change from Security Monitoring Department to Office of Organizational Identity — Where the Intellecutal Assets Come Together had been her brainchild.  And so she tried again.  This time, she pulled a word out — a short word, a common word and a commonly used word both, in fact, the word “idiot.”  She pulled it out as an experiment, thought it as nonchalantly as she had thought “sheesh!” and “oh my god”, and looked to see if “idiot” would appear in Nicole’s entry…

9:35  “HOW COULD A BBF HAVE NO CLUE & BE SO TOTALLY CLUELESS!!!!  YEAH SOME BBF!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!! SHEESH!!!!  OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD”

but it hadn’t. 

“I don’t understand…”

The Work Order staff pretended not to hear.

Then suddenly, Linda’s right eye alerted her to an incoming message someone had written on her own Door on her account in the latest greatest social newtorking platform.  Her right eye said to her brain:  “The slight man of average build wrote a message on your door.” 

“What?” she murmurred.

The Work Order staff didn’t have to pretend not to hear that.  They truly hadn’t heard the word that escaped on the breath of her gasp.l

She squeezed something somewhere in the inside of her connective tissue or brain or eyeball or something somehow inside of her body.  She couldn’t tell you where and she couldn’t tell you how.  But she could tell you that she arrived at her own Door where she was greeted with a message from the slight man of average build.  It simply said:

9:45  We met at the Worldwide Security Monitoring Conference.  Hope you are enjoying the new tool we talked about.  By the way…would you like to know how to get any message you’d like to make on anybody’s door…even the doors of those who you have yet to friend.  Or who might have recently unfriended you (no doubt by mistake).  I can show you how to post your message right on their doors.  It’s quick and easy.  It would be my extreme pleasure…truly…to show you.

NaNoWriMos total word count this chapter:  4,050; total word count todate (not including this notation) this chapter: 31,350

 

Ch 19 ~ The Motive is Total Control

She wasn’t exactly accustomed to the feeling that she was being watched.  Watching was, afterall, her purview…the scrutiny of others and all. 

She gasped, yet again, and yet again the Work Order staff barely flinched.  Instead, they concentrated on what everyone in the organization put all of their efforts into whenever they found themselves in Linda Mall’s earsight and eyesight.  They tried to be as quiet and as nondescript as possible.  Not out of a sense of guilt in the least.  Not by any means.  The thing about it all was that Linda Mall was more than a little bit known for following up with a vengence on any sort of suspicious looking activity, even when said suspicious looking activity turned out to be completely harmless.  Just the appearance of suspicion was enough to raise the alarm as far as Linda was concerned, and eveyrone knew it.  The problem with it all was that nobody really knew how Linda Mall defined “suspicious looking activity” (they suspected she didn’t know how to define it for herself either and they weren’t too far off of the mark in that case) and so everyone went to great lenghts to ensure that they did not even remotely look to be suggesting anything suspicious in Linda’s eyes.  You can imagine that it was a bit like Ready – Fire – Aim.  Only blindfolded.  How does one engage in the opposite behavior of a way that had not been defined clearly.   Clearly, one could not unless it was arrived upon by chance or the whim of Linda’s mood at the moment, or some such thing.  Indeed.   But if the Work Order staff had taken just their own moment to glance up into Linda’s scrutinizing eyes, they would have witnessed a most unusual sight.  They would have realized that Linda Mall, Chief Managing Officer of the Security Monitoring Department (apparently the Work Order staff didn’t find itself ready to embrace fully the euphomism of the name change) wasn’t paying the least bit of attention to them or, for that matter, to anyone else on the premises.  Inexplicably so.  Something else had forcibly seized her focus.  Something else had refused to let her attention go. 

Her right eye twitched as if it was hyperventilating.  It convulsed as if it was running out of breath.  Fleeting seconds later — really immeasurably so it all happened so fast, nearly instantaneously so — her right eye pushed out its radically abbreviated pregnant pause and wailed into existence an alert to Linda of yet another message on her social networking door from the slight man with the average build.

9:45  You’re not imaginging this.  And I really can help you achieve your goal.  It occurred to me that a very capable professional in your position — such an accomplished professional as yourself — would have a great interest in exploring the full range of capabilities in the tool that you now possess.  Unfortunately, the time constraints imposed by the robust conference schedule didn’t allow us to engage in a run-through of the myriad of things that you can do with this tool.  But I can walk you through the capabilities easily enough right here.  Probably even more easily, really.  So if you are interested and find yourself wanting to know how to get any message you’d like to make onto anybody’s social networking door…including the doors of those who you have yet to friend or the doors of those who recently might have unfriended you (no doubt by mistake), I can show you how to do this.  Again, it’s very easy enough to do and will take no time at all to explain.  Don’t mean to come across like a hard sell…just know that I realize you’re probably a bit taken aback by my message since we’re currently not friends on this platform.  And see?  Here I am.  Writing directly to your post on your Door.  Do write on my door or send an email if you prefer that method if you are at all interested.  With regards,

Linda squeezed her eyes together, studied her Door with lazer like precision, and staggered two steps backwards, sinking even more deeply into the heels that she wore on her feet as she stood inexplicably quietly (to those around her…this was not the Linda that they knew) in the fishbowl entrance to the suite of her newly renamed department.  But, for Linda, the inexplicable was much more than readily apparent.  As she studied her Door, she saw before her very eyes that the slight man with the average build had done just what he had said.  And he had done so on her very own Door.   She nearly rubbed her eyes but stopped herself for fear of rubbing her makeup all over her face, and instead, reviewed her Door again.   She checked her last post and saw that — sure enough! — he had altered it.   How had he done precisely what she had wanted to do on Nicole’s Door, she wondered with no small amount of agitation … because, sure!, she wanted to be the first one to do this.  How could anyone *not* want to discover such a thing as this first and be the first one to reveal it to the world.   Such an amazing thing, such a nearly wild thing that, yes, made everything feel so “groovy”…such a thing that she had stumbled upon quite innocently this morning.  She had rewritten parts — collaborated on, co-authored, directly edited — some of Nicole’s very own post.  Why, she had put her own words into Nicole’s virtual mouth, so to speak.  And here.  On her Door.  The slight man.  With the average build.  Who she had met at the Worldwide Security Monitoring Conference and who had given her this already marvelous tool that she had gone to great lengths to have embedded behind her eye (with the memory of the surgical procedure deleted thanks to a nifty feature in the tool) was now altering her own words.  Altering her own digital thoughts.  He was either somehow either incredibly insightful, or fate and serendipidity both were conspiring in her favor, working in overdrive this morning seeing as how his post to her Door coincidentally (was it?) had found its way into the front of Linda’s mind within the very same instant that she found herself stymied by this and eager for a solution…eager to seize an opportunity, one that she felt all of her five foot seven inch self teetering within her stilettos on the brink of experiencing…and all it all revolved around this very topic.  The topic of how to alter someone else’s comments…the topic of how to infuse her own thoughts into someone else’s thought-space.  A wild thing she had innocently stumbled upon this morning.  Only to be met with the wildness of the slight man and his post offering a solution nearly as innocently as the wild opportunity had been given. 

Was this all so terribly innocent, she cried out, caught up in a moment’s alarm that suddenly jangled her nerve endings.   It was as if…  It was entirely as if… 

Her breath pushed to a hard stop before she changed was had promised to be a statement and turned it into a question to pose directly to herself:  “could he have just read my thoughts?”

She shook her head, not fearing at all that she would jar loose the miniscule mechanism embedded behind her eye.  It was there for keeps now.  What she couldn’t quite embrace was the timing of her good fortune.  Could this be just too good to be true, she wondered for a split second.  But how absurd, she chortled to herself in the second half of that split second.  She was overthinking this, she was sure of it.  It was luck and her good fortune not to mention her impressive skill set that had brought this opportunity forth, she reminded herself despite the somewhat less than good timing associated with the fact that the slight man with the average build had beaten her to this cool tool.  But then again he was the one who itnroduced her to the embed in the first place, so it really only made sense, she reasoned.  (Was this an app by chance, she wondered to herself with her wondering happening  at such a near subliminal level that her wondering found its way enclosed between a set of parentheses that hovered quietly in the furthest recesses of her awakened mind.)  And while she busied herself with reminding herself of her impressive skill set and good fortune, Linda Mall also busied herself with reminding herself that she only need to say what she want to be to make it so.  Intention made manifest.  Believe and it is so.  Put the energy forth.

Indeed, he nearly sneered, but Linda hadn’t heard, being far to immersed in the thrill of a wonderful new find that would not only give her the means to climb into her daughter’s head but that would also give her the means to accelerate the next name change of her department from what had just this morning become the “Office of Organizaitonal Identity  — where all the Intellectual Assets Come Together” to what perhaps next week, perhaps within the next day, why not! would become — quite succinctly — the Office of Brain Capital.  Linda heard nothing of the slight man’s growing sneer.  She heard only everything of her growing intention.

It is my good fortune — not happenstance, no, but deliberate, directed fortune — to have access to this killer app, she allowed herself to utter the phrase that meant little more to her than an overused commercial jingle.   But even she sounded cool saying it.   It just had to be my directed quite deliberate good fortune, she convinced herself until she finally stopped overthinking.  Instead, in the next few seconds or very short minutes, she worked her mind and her nerve endings through her optics in such a way — a way that she only knew she could do but a way that she also knew she couldn’t describe — as to write on the slight man’s door.  She continued working her nerve endings at the same time in such a way as to send the slight man an email.  Both of which — her post on his Door and her words in her email to him — both of which said, in a nutshell, “Yes, I’m interested.  Very much so.  What are the next steps?  Looking forward to hearing from you as soon as you are able.  All best,”

Nearly instantaneously again, her right eye alerted her to his reply, which came with an attachment this time.  His instructions were wonderfully clear:

9:49 Wonderful!  You’ll find this a most useful tool.  Open the attachment, point and click, and you’re on your way.  Suggest giving it a test run on my door first.  Feel free to use my latest post after this one for the test.  Look forward to seeing what words you put into my mouth.  Have fun!  With regards,

“All set, Linda,” Mike the lead crew member in the Work Order staff called out, just as he and Paul — the other half of this two-person crew team — collected the tools of their trade, tossed a casual wave and smile or two Linda’s way, and headed down the hall where 20 survalliance cameras captured their every movement.

They shook their heads from side to side as they walked, silently exchanging the shared viewpoint that “…she’s a weird chick.”

Linda — “…the wierd chick” — waved absentmindedly, as if nearly brushing them along their merry way.  Which wasn’t too far from the truth; Mike and Paul were genuinely releived to be distancing themselves from her department even though they knew full well that her eyes were everywhere in the building.  This was hardly a secret, even to Linda.  She knew people thought this of her, and she credited them for being right to think this of her.  She laughed mildly.  But honestly, she thought to herself.  Honestly.  How ironic.  She paused to marvel at the freakish nature of the irony.  Honestly they really had no idea of it all, she thought to herself.

And that little missy of a daughter of mine had another thing coming.  She was in for the shock of her life, that one.

Nearly rubbing her hands together with excitement, she set her mind into this test that the slight man had proposed.  This test of what had to be one of the most powerful features in the gizmo behind her eye.  She couldn’t imagine anythign more powerful than this and there it was all along…right in front of her face, so to speak, and she hadn’t even known it was there.  But now she had stumbled upon it, stumbled upon it, yes stumbled upon it, she just about sang with mounting excited anticipation.

Don’t ask her how, but she started.  She pointed and clicked on the attached that materialized on the screen in the front of her mind, just as the slight man of average build had instructed her to do.  Something flashed briefly on her screen (that would be her mind).  Something whirled her vision around like a spoon in a cup of coffee (that would be her perception).   Something then settled her line of sight smooth as silk like it had been (that would be her thought…or so she thought).  And that would have been her intention — to own her own thoughts — if she had had her wits about her to have articulated that intention before she stumbled upon it stumbled upon it yes stumbled upon it.  Before all of that when Linda Mall was still in a position to formulate her own intention, which unencumbered by the slight man’s influence originally had been to be smooth as silk right smack dab in the middle of it all on the slight man’s social network Door.   But she was surfing across his digital DNA now, which was unlike any kind of DNA ever seen before on the planet Earth.

She focused her thoughts on his latest post, which simply and benignly extended this invitation:

9:49 (the entry was left wide open, blank, with only the time stamp revealing that an entry was there at all)

She flexed something in the back of her eyeball and ran her very earth-generated digital DNA across his very otherworldly-generated digital DNA.  They were, at that moment, two thoughts from vastly different streams colliding together in one instant but LInda Mall didn’t realize this.  She had no clue that she had paddled her surfboard out to sea into an oncoming series of tsunamis.  Instead, she only felt a somewhat noticeable lack of control over the will of her thoughts…it was as if someone else’s hands were tapping on her internal QWERTY.  It was as if someone else controlled her nerve endings and caused her to squeeze out sentences onto the screen in a voice that wasn’t hers, from a place that wasn’t hers, with a focus that wasn’t entirely hers.  She recognized the sense of wanting control.  She recognized a thought that burst into her mind from those external places, the thought was:  I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHO I AM. 

Was that not entirely her person saying this?  Wasn’t that, after all, the essence of the message that she wanted so desparately to write on her daughter’s Door?  Was that not, after all, the ultimate name change goal for her department? 

I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHO I AM. 

Yes, she said.  This was entirely her person saying this.  Look what she was about to do!  She urged herself forward unwittingly outside of her own will.  She wrote on his wall:

9:50  I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHO I AM.

And from somewhere in the nerve endings within Linda Mall’s eyes, from somewhere inside the stream of her connective tissue and DNA.  From somewhere along the path of collective consciousness that bore her name, from there, the slight man with the average build curled his lips up into a penetrating smile.  

NaNoWriMos total word count this chapter:  2,660; total word count todate (not including this notation) this chapter: 34,010

 

Ch 20 ~ Web Squared

There she was, teetering at the threshold to a strange, new world.   Standing loose-kneed in her stillettos, the type of shoe that made her feel powerful, he now knew from reading her thoughts.  Standing on the brink.  Then after what seemed a very long deliberation, she had crossed over — one three inch heel at a time — into that strange, new world.

And it was entirely his world. 

And Linda Mall had walked quite willingly right in.
 
The slight man with the average build wasted no time.  After Linda Mall clicked on his attachment (or somehow summoned it with her mnd, was more accurate…or somehow it knew to go to her, was even more accurate), he pinpointed her precise thought waves without too terribly much difficulty.  Well, that was really an understatement, but the slight man was flush with alien adrenalin now, celebrating this moment.  He couldn’t really tell you how he was able to access her thought waves (and even if he could tell you how, he wouldn’t).  Because even though what he had basically done was hack into Linda Mall’s mind and done so fairly rapidly (considering that he was able to do so at all), that wasn’t to say that it had been an easy thing to do.  Not at all, and on another day he might want to marvel at what he had just done.  But that day wasn’t today, and that thought wasn’t what he found himself marveling over at the moment.  As far as he was concerned, the doing of the thing — the very fact that it had been achieved — was far greater than the check list of how he had  hacked into the mind of the chief security officer.  The thing of utmost importance in no uncertain terms for him was that he *had* hacked into her mind and as a consequence, he found himself now in complete possession of the keys to all of Linda Mall’s mental DNA.  All of it.  Every strand that wove itself in unimaginably complex layers not only throughout her body at the cellular level, but indeed all across every aspect, every nook and cranny, every thought, every pre-thought, every impulse, every factoid, every emotion, every experience, every belief, every dimension of time and space and place that was housed within her cognitive powers.  Or that visited her cognitive powers.  Or the entirety of the collective consciousness that her mind visited on an instinctive, interwoven, connected level like no amount of advances in technology had ever seen.  But that, the slight man rumbled inside himself, was all about to change.   

Mental DNA was something that was not uniquely Linda Mall’s, despite the fact that she wore stiletto shoes in order to believe herself to be head and shoulders above everyone else.  The shoes and their cruel heels had nothing whatsoever to do with it.  What had everything to do with it was the architecture of the mind, of how human thought was built, shaped, maintained, morphed, shared…and the slight man with the average build who had found his way into the Glenwood Cafe by way of a Black Hole now possessed the schematics.  Worse yet (if you were any human on the planet Earth) but better yet (if you were the slight man with the average build from a Black Hole), he now had access to the mental DNA of every person on the planet Earth who ever plugged into the internet.  Or who ever would.  

Was that a near frenzied laugh heard off in the vicinity of her inner ear?  She thought not.  But a primal chill ran through Linda Mall despite her better judgement, a judgement that — even in her view — seemed stubbornly and adamantly withdrawn from her in a way that it never had been before.  A judgement that — even in her view — somehow obsessed in what felt to her to be a very alien way on the statement:  I JUST WANT YOU TO KNOW WHO I AM.   Was that her voice, she wondered from someplace deep within her because it was from that someplace deep within that a rogue and rude impulse had broken away from the swirling morphing expanding melding thoughts in her subconscious where thoughts were left to ride her mental wave unspoken even to herself.  Unsatisfied with merely standing out from the pack, that rogue and rude impulse had bullied its way up into the very front of her perception in order to pose the question to her.  Was that my voice, she asked herself point blankly.  Part of Linda asked herself to think.  Part of Linda implored her to grab ahold of herself.  Then, just as rudely and as suddenly as that rogue and rude impulse had appeared, it had disappeared, melding back to its origins, melding back to the world view, if you will.

He realized something for the first time since his intent had formed and manifested itself. 

The slight man shouldn’t be so cocky.  For once, he actually chastised himself and insisted that he not get ahead of himself.  With great surprise and a bit of astonishment, he studied Linda’s mind as it worked to resist his efforts to hack into it.  He was mildly impressed that she put up such a fight.   Perhaps the stilettos had made her more powerful afterall.  She believed that they would and so it had to be so for her.  But other beliefs factored into his value system.  Other — for him — more significant beliefs drove his actions.  His beliefs were consumed with a kind of Hyper Me-ism the likes of which the world had not yet seen, and his overriding belief insisted that his particular Hyper Me-ism was something the world should, in fact, not only see above all of the world’s own hyper me-ism but should in fact know quite intimately…and quite above their own. 

He thrummed her mental stream, fine tuning it to his pleasure, fine tuning it for his devices.  She would give up the resistance soon, he was certain of it.  Not because it was so easy.  Not because he was so formidable, although he knew that he soon would be.  But the fact of the matter was that no matter how casual he seemed, identifying and plucking Linda Mall’s stream of consciousness out from the woven tapestry of the whole of entirety — meaning, the entirety of all the universes combined — had not been a simple thing.  This was not something done casually everyday.  This had been a huge, huge feat…a feat that some would have said was the stuff of wild fantasy and imagingings.  (The slight woman with the concentric circles could only hope the wild imagingings were cogent enought.)    They should see this, he thought, because I am proving that this is reality.  Transformed from the realm of what the vast majority of the world believed to be impossible and morphed very much into the realm of the quite possible.  Decidedly so, and all because of Forge.  Because when Linda Mall walked right through the slight man’s Door, when she employed the vast capabilities of the miniscule computer that had been affixed permanently now to the inside of her head somewhere around her eyeball, when she lived and breathed and dreamed in each step of her physical reality in the atomic world and subsequently did so in the digital world, with each breath she transferred the clearest cleanest DNA fingerprint of her person onto both worlds.  Her defining aura — uniquely hers — manifested itself with such striking clarity and detail that her mind may as well have grabbed a glass of wine by the stem, swirled the liquid in its half-sphere, and left an indeliable thumbprint on the glass.  

Who needed her driver’s license or social security number.  Who need 20 survelliance cameras positioned like strung lighting up and down every corridor?  He sneered with delight revelling in the fact that he now possessed entry into every corridor in her mind. 

The Slight man — aka Alien Big Brother (or “A B-squared” as he started to think of himself for no particular reason…the slight woman in the Glenwood Cafe who had managed to remain silent for the past few chapters tugged at her napkin with the concentric circles and scrunched her face at the Slight man’s self-selected name, but she managed to keep her peace)…A B-Squared (how cumbersome, she couldn’t help but interject…cumbersome and odd, she added)…

He scowled in a more than slightly threatening way at the slight woman.  He was determined to get this thought out and into the story.  She yipped nearly inaudibly so and scrambled back into the booth, tucking her internal editor very quietly, very rapidly away. 

A B-Squared (!!!!! she thought) had the very pieces of Linda Mall’s high-heeled consciousness.  And through her, he had found a doorway into the entire stream.  He was on his way to collect all of the keys to unlock and take up residence in the power of the entire collective consciousness itself.  Keep your embedded tools, he thought to himself, surprising even himself that he would say such a thing since it had been Forge’s creation that had amped up the volume of the noise.  But ironically it had been Forge’s creation that in colliding message with messenger with medium on a global scale had provided A B-squared with directions to the front door of the universal mind.  This was the last frontier.  This was the final frontier, the DNA-identified stream within the ocean of tsunamis that combine to form the collective consciousness in all of the universes.  As he continued thrumming her stream, the slight man marveled that the act of plucking Linda Mall out of the enormity exposed her mental fingerprints in stark releif at all levels of her cognitive processes.  Her mind drank a lot of wine.  She harbored a multitude of desires and fears.  There were a multitude of things she just had no answer for.  There was an even greater multitude of things that she didn’t have the first idea to even realize existed or to even ask about.  There was so very much that Linda Mall didn’t know that she didn’t know.

A B-Squared surfed rapidly now along her stream of consciousness, hopping from her stream onto the wave of another stream that billowed and melded in and out of the soupiness that was the collective consciousness, and as he did so, he plucked her intentions off one by one — “schooling” that Little Miss Katie, for one about the ways of the world — and replacing them all with his own. 
 
Linda Mall, as she once was, was no more.  He had abducted her channel, as he liked to think of anyone else’s mind.  And he was now well on his way to becoming fully wired.

NaNoWriMos total word count this chapter:  1,810; total word count todate (not including this notation) this chapter: 36,830

 

Ch 21 ~ And then…where was I, she asked…

“Where am I,” Emily asked as her memory slipped down into her palms.  When it seeped into her fingertips, she closed her hand into a delicately fisted ball, tenderly holding her sense of time and place as if she had just caught a bird.

From somewhere…somewhere not too terribly far away…not too terribly far away at all…a flock of birds took the air and traversed the sky in perfect unison.  Whoosh.

She had the thought of cranberries on her mind.  Whole berry cranberry sauce, all richly red and puckered open, gently cooling in a bed of sugared water.  A holiday whizzed past in her mind.  Here and done and undone for another year.  Another year christened by another celebration with each year bringing forth a gentle resolve to step out of the hype of the season, to remember why the holiday existed in the first place.  To give thanks.  To live one with nature.  To live in harmony and gratitude with each other.  And sometimes something more. 

They had first met each other from across a crowded room.  They had first broken bread together from across a holiday table that was dressed in the season’s most welcoming finery and linens and saddled with the season’s most burgeoning feast.  A meal of plentiful to nourish the body.  A meal of gratitude and love to nourish the soul.  She, the mousy headed good looking young woman with brown hair, smiled from under shy eyelashes — forever shy eyelashes as he quietly and consistently rendered her undone — across the table to him…He, the mousy headed good looking young man with red hair who was something quite more than a genuis, both in mind and in heart.  So very much more than that in all places, in every place.  He smiled from under tender eyelashes to her, at once with her, at one with each other they two.  And so they danced, wrapped in each other’s arms they danced wrapped in each other’s hearts they danced as they sat next to each other, thighs and arms and feet kissing each other in gentle natural movements, all of them gravitating unmistakably so to each other, all of those movements and touches kissing skin and body parts softly, like the most gentle of mists, traversing the same space together through time and place traversing the same space in perfect unison at the holiday table — with nothing more than a smile coming between them.

“I never should have introduced the two of them to each other,” Forge muttered and as it happened, it was Pat’s ear that caught his sound waves.  She was unplugged at the moment but fully prepared to plug in on a moment’s notice, depending on how the evening here went.  But she was willing to give the evening a shot first.  She sighed and stood next to Glenwood’s local and wildly successful entrepreneur.  The two of them huddled against the kitchen countertop (despite the fact that the room hardly required any sort of huddling) and hovered over the hor de ourves.  He had a nice kitchen, which was a begrudging understatement.  Even Pat realized this.  She nodded approvingly as she glanced around (she hoped casually) at the expansive counter space, richly appointed counter tops and extensive cabinetry.  This was a perfectly coordinated room, Pat smirked with an appreciation that refused to be denied.  This was a fashionista kitchen if ever she saw one.  Sheesh, she thought, I hope he doesn’t see me drooling over this.

“I’ve never seen either one of them quite so enthralled like this,” Forge added.  Pat listened…politely and she supposed genuinely.  She was hearing Forge afterall and following his comments, but all the while Pat intensely continued her survey of the kitchen, undressing it with her eyes at every nook and cranny.  Pat had seen her way around a kitchen or two.  Professional ones at that.  She knew what she was doing.  She had good hands in her eyes, she did.

  “…It’s disturbing,” he added again.  And he chuckled inside — ha!! — because there was an irony here.  If their emotional bond was so disturbing, it was interesting even to Forge that in observing it now while he and Pat of all people stood shoulder to shoulder, he kept adding words instead of saying things that subtracted words.

Thank goodness…the slight woman with the concentric circles thought to herself as she sat somewhere off in the living room, very sternly resisting the urge to place herself at the head of the table.  There is the matter of the word count afterall, she added then just as suddenly she gave sway, sensing a few words coming forth.  She certainly did not want to impede the words any.  And then it happened.  The most glorious, the most powerful word yet.

“Love,” Pat said matter of factly from the corner of her mouth.  Forge glanced at Pat.  For some reason the fact that she was standing surprised him.  She wasn’t working.  It was the holiday.  This was a dinner feast, a dinner party he was throwing for a treasured few because as much as Forge always had an agenda, he was also a very caring soul…in general but most definitely toward this treasured few whom he had invited into his home.  No one would deny his caring nature.  Not even Pat, whose attitude always tended to tip itself in the direction of cynical.  But everyone also knew that when it came to Forge, no matter how well intentioned he might be, his purpose often led the charge into whatever direction his latest idea might find itself galloping.  And it could seem like caring took a back seat…but that really wasn’t the case.

He glanced at Pat, looking her over once over lightly.  She hadn’t noticed.  She was enthralled with his kitchen.  Just about as deeply enthralled with his kitchen as Emily and Miles were with each other.  Forge chuckled and refilled Pat’s glass with wine.  She smiled as her free hand caressed the countertop to retrieve her wine glass.

“Love,” Forge added.

NaNoWriMos total word count this chapter:  1,025; total word count todate (not including this notation) this chapter: 37,855

 

Deconstructing Fashion

I couldn’t resist trying on the persona of a fashionista today when I stumbled upon the release of LeLutka’s Ultra line.  I am very far from a fashionista as I’m much more at home in a fluid casual feel, but that’s not to say that I don’t appreciate wonderfully inventive and edge-y looks.  LeLutka’s Ultra line is definitely that.  I purchased only four pieces (high restraint on my part as I wanted nearly every piece in the shop) and spent all day playing with the purchases, wearing them as full sets and also mixing and matching various components from each purchase.   The fact that the pieces work so beautifully across the line more than suggests a wonderfully cohesive vision.  To start it off, here I am in one of several incredible sculpted gowns; this one is aptly named “Constricted” (in Snow).  (Not sure why the photos look fuzzy in the entry, but if you click on them, they seem to come into focus better.)

LeLutka Ultra, Constricted (in Snow)

The back of the corset and neck art come complete with wonderful lacing detail that finishes off the gorgeous textures in the entire look.  I found myself fascinated by this gown.  It has such a strong presence and yet is refined and adventurous all at once.   For some reason, I wanted to deconstruct it and get a feel for its range.  So from this look I started mixing the components of the other purchases together.

The bodice in this photo (above) is the top from the Constricted gown, paired with the skirt from the Emperatriz ensemble (in Black).  Emperatriz is a wonderful dress ensemble.  The skirt is flexi, and its accompanying top is a very see-through, very light mesh top that is elegantly designed and constructed, all of which — top and skirt — is finished off with a prim corset.  I admit I often find it difficult to wear some prim corsets because of my very curvy shape.  But for those with a more trim shape, I think you’ll love the corset, which really cinches in the waist and lends a substantial yet elegant trim around the body.  The delightful find for me was discovering that the pieces from the Ultra line can even pull off an urban flavor.  Grant it, it’s a kind of high-end urban feel, but no matter how you categorize it, it’s fun to see the couture top and neck art of Constricted paired with LeLutka’s Enigma pants (in Red):

From here it was very easy to pair Enigma with LeLutka’s Postal military jacket (in Rose):

Here’s another look at the jacket (this time paired with pants from LeeZu).  The jacket’s versatility provides for the option of attaching its sculpted cape.  Ah!  And the mesh top that you see under the jacket?  That’s the top that accompanies the flexi skirt from the Emperatriz ensemble (that I mention above). 

By this point, I was pretty excited and nearly overwhelmed by all the possibilities in LeLutka’s Ultra line.  And so, feeling nearly overwhelmed, I began to strip the look down.  Who would think the Constricted gown would be so lovely even down to its nearly bare minimum, but it really is:

And the skin and hair?  Both are also LeLutka’s and both come in the skin releases.  (Well, of course the skin would, but the hair does as well 🙂 )  I’m wearing the new skin, Estelle in the dark hairbase and attached the dark PonyUp hair that comes with it.  If one is so inclined, LeLutka also provides (within the same purchase yet!) a light hairbase (blonde, with blonde brows) and a blonde PonyUp hair, great eyelashes, and two makeups.   Alot of bang for the lindens!  (The ears and forehead jewelry are from two other shops entirely, but I really liked the feel of it all together.)

Deconstructing a fashionista-style entry even further, I’d like to close by saying how very much I admire the efforts of the fashion webloggers who post entries everyday or even every week.  This is a great, great deal of work (from finding the creations to review, putting the look together, finding the best poses — you can tell I peetered out a bit above using the same pose more than once — and then cropping and preparing the shots from a large file of digital film, and doing the write up, getting the slurls, the garment names, gah it’s extremely involved!).  It’s truly a great deal of work and I’m more than humbled by those who commit to do this on a very regular basis.  Especially when you factor in that probably many (if not most) of the talented souls doing so, do this on a volunteer basis.  That part I understand.  You do it for the love of it and because you believe in it. 

And that’s a wonderful thing.  Much like you’ll find LeLutka’s Ultra line.  Wonderful.