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…


Then another entry…


Then another entry…


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*…


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.


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…


…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…


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? 


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:


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



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