FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Updates for 4/26/18: About that ASTEROID…

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To avoid thinking about what might be on Jill’s mind, I focused on the biggest reason for me not wanting to walk away: “More than any other reason, though, is Wise.  We may be living in a living manifestation of a pause button, but he’s still suffering.  He’s still lying there on that asteroid…”

My words seemed to hang in the air after I said them.

“Lying there on that asteroid…” KJ repeated.

“I hear what you were saying, Kage—it’s easy for us to ignore things and move on with our days but when we stop and think about it, it’s hard to ignore suffering when you know it’s going on.  Least it is for me at this point.  Even if he is frozen in time all quantum and what not.  Let’s go get him.  If for no other reason than to stop our worrying, you know?”

“So, who were those thugs?” Jill asked.

“The ones that were trying to kill Wise? I have no idea. They were pretty human looking, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t Double-Oes, I guess.”

“But they were using a Fire Escape you said,” KJ said.  I nodded and Jill spoke.  “So, that means that they had access to our tech or they were Double-Oes.”

“Question: is Uncle Julio on our side, Jill?”  Jill took a deep breath and let it out with a big sigh.  “Yeah, maybe?  I guess?  You know, Uncle Julio’s always been on Uncle Julio’s side first and if he could help other people he’d be on their side, too.”

I thought back to my days with him and I could definitely see the accuracy in what she was saying.

“The last we saw of him, he was getting attacked by Double-Oes in the Fire Escape Hub.” KJ said.

“What’s this now?” Jill was intrigued.

“Is that not what you call it?  That place where all the static Fire Escapes are?  A kind of network hub?”

“You guys found that–awesome.  I’m not sure why that’s there, but it’s like all the traffic through the Fire Escape dimension goes through there.  I was ecstatic when I found that place because it made this tech make so much more sense.”

“So, how do we find where those thugs came from?” I asked.

“When you fell through the Fire Escape in your workplace’s bathroom, it was connected through the hub to where ever the thugs came from—which was this asteroid, but how did they get there?”

“Asteroids… damn…” KJ said randomly.

“And how do we go back there to get Wise, dawg?  Asteroids have no atmosphere. We can’t breathe in space?  Jake almost died trying to breathe in space!”

“This one did,” I said.  “It was cold, but not absolute zero cold.  I think what ever atmosphere was there just didn’t have any oxygen in it.”

“What was in the air, then?” KJ asked.

“Whatever it was, it was like trying to inhale solid rock.  But once Wise exhaled that oxygen into me, and put that circle triangle thing on my hand, it wasn’t seconds later when I could breathe for a sec.”

“Did that thing tweak your body’s ability to breathe things other than oxygen?” Jill asked.  I shrugged.

“Wise could speak—that was another clue that there was an atmosphere on that asteroid.”

“So, if you can breathe whatever air was on that asteroid now, does that mean that the way you breathe air here has changed?” Jill said.

“I don’t know,” I said.

“I think I may have made a discovery that could relate to the problem at hand,” Jim said.

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Updates for 4/25/18: How can he walk away from this?

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To be honest there have been a few times during this whole thing when I did consider the idea of walking away but at that moment, when Kate asked me point blank, I wasn’t thinking about walking away, I was thinking about how to take in this new version of reality.  Some how Kate and KJ were ready for it, but me? I was still having trouble swallowing the uncut revelations we’d all been experiencing.  I decided that Jill was probably OK with all of this because she was old enough to realize what we were doing all those summers ago, working for Uncle Julio but I wondered—was I that dumb a kid to not realize that we were selling alien technology to aliens?

Maybe I was that dumb.  I mean, kids, right?

“No, of course, not,” I said.  “I just learned my DNA has changed.  I kinda figure I can’t walk away from that.”

“You know how many things people ignore about their own selves?” KJ rhetorically asked, adding, “Self-delusion is practically the new American way.  Dude, we elected Trump.”

“Yeah, well, I’m not the kind of person that willingly deludes myself,” I said, catching a worried look from Jill.  I looked at her and she shook her head, shrugging casually.
KJ smiled and shrugged.  “Well, I for one, am glad you are staying.  I don’t want to walk away from all of this, but I would if you wanted us to. I would probably go nuts though.  I’d need to get my memory erased.  Hey, Jim, do you have tech like that?”

“No, not that I know of.  No memory erasing devices.  At least, not that I can recall.

“Ohhh, that’s a good one, Jimmy!” KJ said making guns with his fingers on both hands and 
“shooting” them at Jim.  Kate and I rolled our eyes at each other.  I glanced over to Jill and nodded. “That’s a pretty impressive AI you coded there, Jill!”

Jill was lost in thought but quickly caught up with reality once she heard me say her name.


“Did you program Jim to tell dad jokes?” I asked.

“N-n-n-no, that was probably one of the previous programers who worked on him.  I only did version 4 but I’ll take credit for him since none of those other coders are around.”

Jill was smiling but I could tell something was on her mind.  Good thing we have such an open, and warm relationship as siblings, I knew I could just ask her.  OH wait, that’s completely not the kind of sibling relationship we have together…

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Updates for 4/24/18: Kate and KJ speak their minds

Short entry today.  Real life is annoying.

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As KJ, Kate, and I sat around the kitchen table eating breakfast, I tried not to think about any of this.  The moment I started to, my worry for Wise would start to overtake me and I knew that was a bad way to go.

“You OK, brah?” I saw Kate eyeing me.  “You know, as much as I love all this stuff and the tech I get to see up close, you know, any time you want to bail, it’s OK with me.”

“You don’t want to stay here?” I asked.

“Of course, I do.  But I have hardly any skin in this game, you know?  Me and KJ, we’re just along for this ride and I’m sure we’re both thankful for this view of a world we had no idea existed.  Thing is, I see what this is doing to you and I just don’t want you to feel like you can’t step away from this all.”

“Kate, what are you saying?” KJ asked.

“Shut up, Kage, I’m serious.”

“So, am I!  This is the stuff of my dreams and my nightmares.  We can’t walk away from this!”

“Sure we can, dawg.  This here?  This is gonna go on whether we’re here for it or not.”
Kate had a pretty good point. 

“As much as we want to think how cool we are and how we need to do this or that to stop whatever is happening here, we are probably not at all qualified to be here, you know?”

“I’ve been studying stuff like this for years, Kate.”

“No, KJ, you’ve been studying Internet forums for years.  None of that ever talked about this freaky wormhole-accessing tech.  This is a conspiracy all y’all friends have no idea about.”

“So what?  I still know how all this conspiracy stuff works.  How secret organizations work, how they stay in the shadows and keep things hidden in plain sight.”

“Yeah, but that’s all not real.”

“Why do you ignore reality, Kate?!  Look around you!  The alien shape-shifters that are infiltrating our society may not be lizards, but they are real.”

Kate made a sound that was half-scoff and half-click.

“Don’t click at me, Kate.  I hate when you click at me!”

“Anyway, so Jake, what’s next?  You OK to stay or go?”

FIRE ESCAPE First Draft Updates for 4/23/18: That DNA Difference!

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Once my laundry got started, I made my way through the library, on my way to the kitchen, but my way was quickly obstructed, when Jill spotted me.

“Ah, perfect. Jake, come here,” Jill ordered.  My stomach growled and urged me on.

“I am just going to get some breakfast, I’m apparently quite hungry, or so my stomach tells me.”

Jill looked at me with quite a bit of dismissiveness and then spoke.  “That can wait, you need to see this.”

“Jim, you have contextualized all the medical knowledge available in the United States Library of Congress, perhaps you can do a better job of this than I can.”

“Sure,” Jim said, from behind my right shoulder, where I hadn’t seen him a second earlier.  I was startled but also wondered how sound works when one is a hologram—it really sounded like he was right next to me, and not at all a light projection.  Before I could bring any of these questions up, an all too realistic hologram of a human muscular structure, including all the major organs, appeared in the center of Jill lab.  In other words, I was startled again.

“Yuck—what is that?!” I asked

“It’s you,” Jim said.


“Well, it’s you about six hours ago, while you were still sleeping.”


“We wanted to make sure you weren’t injured after being on that asteroid.”

“Great, but could you put flesh on me?  That’s disgusting!”
Suddenly a layer of flesh appeared over the hologram, leaving me staring at myself naked.

“OK! HOW ABOUT SOME CLOTHES?” I yelled, looking away.  Quickly, a gray sweatshirt and sweat pants appeared.

“THANK you,” I said.  “Jill, you know I have body issues, jeez!”

“Jim, go on.”

“So, let me zoom in on your DNA,” Jim said, as holo-me suddenly got big and was then replaced by a cell of mine with some double helixes floating around in it with some other things that looked like the double helix DNA but were tangled and yet others that were tangled, well, differently.

“Looking at your DNA this closely, you can see that blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.  Blah, blah blah.”

OK, obviously, that’s not what Jim said, but you can see right where he lost me, can’t you?
After a lot of re-explaining and oversimplifying, Jim managed to explain that my DNA had been changed at some point, probably recently. 

“We think it was done by what ever Wise put on your hand.”

“The triangle in the circle?”

“Yes—and that… can you draw that for us?” Jill asked.

“Do you have a pen and paper?” I asked.  Jill nodded to Jim who immediately spoke.  “Just use your finger.”

Clearly I looked confused because Jill started explaining.  “Draw with your finger in the space in front of your face.”

“Mo-cap finger painting, cool!” Kate said, entering from the stairs wearing a similar jumpsuit to mine.  I held my index finger up and drew a circle with glowing yellow holo-ink and then drew a triangle inside of the circle.

“It looked like that but it was dark brown.  Like melanin, almost.”

Suddenly the color switched from yellow to dark brown.

Jill stared at it for a long time.


I waited another few moments and was about to say her name when Jill spoke.

“Yeah, that thing probably changed your DNA, but at some point we need to get a sample of your DNA previous to all this stuff.”

“So, what does this mean?” I asked.

“You’re different.  We don’t know how but this DNA does not match mine in the way it should,” Jill said.

“So, what does that mean?”

“Jim will keep working on that.”

“You got it, Dr. Rivera!” Jim said.