Tom Kim

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11/9/2017 9:23am

/* Rise and shine, Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Need you at position niner-niner-epsilon-niner post tail digi-freeze on recall seven oh-u-see-it-two. Over. */

The embers of the campfire are still glowing. Snappo is sleeping peacefully with his head on his bedroll. One of the mounts lets out a snorf and a shiver, tied up a short distance away in the dark.

It won't be dark much longer. If I read the chart right, we should see dawn in just a few minutes. It's a very small planetlet, and there are eclipses and occultations in play, so nights are short and of varying lengths. Okay for a vacation, but it would mess with your circadian rhythms to try and live here.

Suddenly the ground heaves, like a wave, and I'm in the air, along with a still-sleeping Snappo, our gear, and an unfinished campfire.

/* That's perfect, Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Now how about a little looksie at William J24 squares 60 to uh-oh 64.*\

"And here," the doctor taps at the projection with a pen, "you can see the outline of the sarcoma, where it's grown into the liver and the spleen."

The imaging is in black and white, but the rough, irregular outline of the tumor is obvious next to the smooth shapes of the organs. An out-of-place invader.

"And here," the doctor continues, unrolling a long strip of paper covered in dots, dashes, and numbers, "are the transmissions we've been receiving from it. We've ruled out a distress call, because it's non-repeating. We think it's sending out telemetry of its surrounding environment."

\* BEEEEEEP--t'll be just fine, Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Now we're gonna head back to ol' 297 E as in Elephant, if you please. *\

Maeg-Ur has been cataloging these glowing silver petroglyphs, keeping a map scratched into a plank of bark he keeps in his juju bag. It's more organization than I've seen out of, well, anybody around here, though I'm afraid it's not a very permanent record. Maybe I'll suggest we do it with paint on the cave wall, but I get the feeling it's something he wants to keep secret.

We traipse over the steppe, dropping into arroyos and cuts to take a look at exposed rocks, seeking out more instances of the gently luminous sigils. Are they leading us somewhere? Are they marking something? I wish I could get a better look at Maeg-Ur's map but he doesn't want to share. We're starting to argue about it when around the corner appears a saber toothed tiger, accompanied by a young woman.

"Muku! Match hurk mook attcha @Cave Girl Claire."

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7/15/2017 1:38am

/* Heads up, Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Time to head over to Whimsy 9973, sub 122.19.*/

Back at school, looking down over the apple orchard. It's basic flying with Mr. Lu, and we're all levitating in a circle around him, just 50 feet off the ground.

"It is vitally important that you maintain layers of backup in your levitation mindset. That way if you loose focus up here," he points to his forehead, "you'll still have a buffer back here," he points to the back of his head. "That's what will keep you from slamming into the ground and breaking your neck. It's your number one key to safety. Your life preserver."

I feel something wet on my forehead. Is it raining? I wipe it with my hand and it's white. Bird crap.

A moment later I'm looking up at the group, flat on my back but still floating, right at tree-top level.

"THAT's what I'm talking about. Well done Mr. Kim!"

/* Great work, Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Now let's take a look at 11498 Doggy Quarterback sub 7-9. Over.*\

The terraced gardens are visible out the window, gracefully fading into the misty valley, but we never get to go for walks. Too busy going over the pages and pages of spreadsheets bound in the huge leather folios. Teemera is operating the tesseractive abacus while I read out the figures. We're double checking the math.

"No, that one adds up too," she says. "Are you sure you didn't already read me that page?"

"Yes, I'm sure. When I'm done with a page I put a dot at the top with the register ink."

"Like that little red one? At the top of the page?"

\*Alrighty Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Need you back at 297 E as in Elephant.*\

Maeg-Ur has taken me herb collecting. He leads the way, with his limp and his massive mat of black and grey hair. He stops at a patch of tiny red flowers hiding under a boulder and grunts something. We have a language--rudimentary as it is--but Maeg-Ur refuses to use it. Or he just doesn't enunciate. He grunts again and points so I start picking and putting them into my bag.

He grunts again, frustrated this time, and grabs my shoulder. I turn around and look at his big scarred brow and increasingly toothless mouth, but his dark eyes are focused behind me.

"On the rock, dummy," he whispers.

On the side of the boulder is a tiny petroglyph, but not one made by our people, or any of the people we know. It's silver, glowing faintly, a circle within a circle with lines crossing it and many tiny intricate symbols. Its perfection and symmetry make it completely alien to this world.

|* And... freeze that, Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Crrrrkck! Yeah, INFO-TRAK, do you copy? Can we get a memorex team on this one? Over. *|

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6/30/2017 10:20pm

/*Krrrrrrckt! Come in, Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Can we have the 411 on sequence two-eight-seventy-ten electron again? Over.*/

I find myself behind the wheel of a race car driver. It's dark, and luminescent oil is raining down over the windshield. The wipers aren't doing any good, but I can tell I am passing very large objects at speed on either side. I realize I can't really see a thing in front of me but am travelling very fast. I look down at the dashboard and it's covered with LED symbols I don't recognize. They're changing rapidly.

"Proximity warning. Proximity warning." It's a female computer voice that doesn't sound terribly worried. It sounds bored.

I look up just in time to see what looks like train headlights hurtling towards me...
/*Crrrrrrrck CLiCK! OK, Franklin Bottle Four Niner, that'll do. Now give us a view on subsector L as in Loki frames four-eight-oh-oh thru oh-oh-oh-yeah. Over. *\


"Do you have a rewards card?" I ask.

"Phone number," says the lady. She keys it in. A girl who must be her daughter is standing behind her, looking at gum.

Three dragon fruit. I punch in the PLU code 2921. I'm amazed I can remember stuff like that. Next it's a watermelon, but it's got a bunch of cuts in it and oozes on my hand.

"Ooooo, this one's damaged. Can I have another brought up for you?"

"No, that one will be fine," says the girl. I notice it's @Klarya from school, but she wouldn't recognize me in this body.

I punch in the PLU code 3733t.

\* You're doing great, Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Now let's go waaaaaaay over to position niner-niner-epsilon-niner post tail digi-freeze on recall seven uh-wut-two-bee, over. *\

The savanna stretches out purple to meet the green sky in the distance. We're galloping towards the dual suns, trying to beat them to the horizon, which is actually possible given the tiny size of this planetoid. Plus the fact that our mounts have such ridiculously long legs--though not quite as long as their necks.

Snappo is just ahead of me to the right, and turns to shout "I THINK WE LEFT THE PICNIC BASKET BACK AT CAMP!"

Hopefully I can stay in this one for a while.

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6/5/2017 3:31pm

/*Kcch-tck! Rodger, Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Gimme a breakdown on 297 E as in Elephant? Over. */

Shadows flicker over the wall of the cave. There's a white outline of an animal... a deer? Maeg-Ur squats below it, focusing inspiration for the next addition. A few of the audience get up to relieve themselves outside, because this can take awhile.

/*Alrighty Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Let's take a look at 11498 Doggy Quarterback sub 4.*\

"Who had the Jackfruit Spritz?"

I raise my hand. The rest of the team has been served, looking out over the balcony to the terraced gardens stretching out to the horizon. There's a slight mist hanging over the valley, like when the world was young. Which of course it isn't at all.

Teemera gets excited and shoots her hand out, spilling my drink over the table and into my lap.

\*That'll do Franklin Bottle Four Niner. Now let's take a look at Whimsy 9973, sub 112.33.*\

"Tom? Are you with us?"

The teacher is staring at me. I can feel the rest of the class staring too. Which class is this again? 21st century psychic anarchism?

"Did you read the assignment, Tom?"

"I know, Ms. Meaty! I read the assignment!" It's Marco from the seat right behind me. Now I remember what class this is.

"Yes Marco."

"Future Days!"

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