“I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon”

[Estimated reading time: 8 minutes]

[This is a work in progress.
The title is a placeholder and only refers to the song I was listening to when posting this story.]

First time

My name is Barry, my wife is Cass, and this is the first time for both of us.
We're in the living room of our small house on the outskirts of Seattle.
Cass is sitting on the couch and I'm in the recliner, our usual spots for watching TV or reading, though today we're doing neither.

We both have bright-blue "swimming caps" on our heads.
Twin tangles of wires come out of each cap and snake over too-old carpet to a thick silver case that sits on the coffee table between us.

"We're ready on this side," a tech by the name of Alexis speaks into a phone as she watches over us and the case.
Alexis is standing on the opposite side of the coffee table, facing us, and the three of us form a rough equilateral triangle, with the suitcase smack in the middle.

I look over towards Cass and give her a smile.
I want to go over to her, hug her, hold her in my arms and whisper sweet nothings into her ear, but the tech said we shouldn't be touching at this point.
Something about messing up the connection.

The cap is starting to itch, but we're not supposed to mess with those either.

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The Director

[Estimated reading time: 24 minutes]

Habeas Corpus - 1992

The woman behind the glass is crying, tears are running down her not-quite make-up-free face.
She is sobbing, quietly, while staring with kind eyes at a person on the other side of the glass.

She is wearing an orange jumpsuit and is shackled into a black chair.
There are wires connected to a metal cap on her head and metal bracelets on her arms.

"The studio wanted less tears in this scene.
Apparently, having a death-row inmate bawling her eyes out is just 'off-putting'," The Director narrates to no one in particular.
The Director sits in the small, dark room, where a dozen people are sitting and watching the execution through thick glass.
The Director sits at the edge of the assembled, in the very back, and slowly looks from one attendant to the others.
Miranda is accused of murder, and the victim's parents are both sitting in the front row.
Her's husband is also in the front row, with the prosecutor and the defense attorneys between the two parties, acting as a sort of buffer.

No one notices The Director, no one reacts as he comments about the scene.
There are no cameras, no gaffers, no microphones just out of view.

"The screenwriter had just three conditions for this whole picture, and it was all about this scene," The Director continues.
"Three things she asked for: real tears, an older actress, and the protagonist dies."
The Director sits and shakes his head.
"The actress, a newcomer by the name of Jenifer, was cast as Miranda when the studio sent down a nicely-worded threat.
She got picked because she is a Julia Roberts type, but younger, and that's what the studio wanted.
But Jenifer cannot cry on command, so the makeup artist is just off-screen, ready to apply a tear here or there as necessary.
I wanted a single tracking shot, backing away from her eyes, pulling back so we can finally see the electric chair.
But Jenifer couldn't hold an expression for more than ten seconds!
So we ended up with lots of quick cuts, like fucking amateur hour!"

The phone rings on the wall, next to a clock that reads "11:57", and everyone gasps.
Miranda's eyes follow those of the assembled audience, and suddenly there is hope in her eyes.
The warden picks up the phone and has a short conversation, then waves to the executioner, stopping the whole thing.

"Miranda's released on a technicality.
A promising script is flushed down the toilet because of studio interference, once again," The Director laments.

A green-eyed woman in a smart blue suit turns and looks at The Director, and for a moment he wonders if she can see him, but she looks away quickly.

Miranda's husband cries a single manly tear, and the world fades away to black.
The credits start to roll.

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“Joy to the world”

[Estimated reading time: 30 minutes]

[This is a work in progress.]

New Digs

It's Monday and the first day working from a new building.
My team was moved over the weekend, our desks and computers transported by men with soft blue gloves and carpet-covered dollies, and placed onto different desks.

I of course forget about the move and initially come back to the old building, only to find strangers occupying "my" cubicle.
So after a brief bout of confusion I shuffle to our new digs and navigate the strange automated elevators that I'll be using from now on.

I circle the floor twice before I finally find my new spot in the far corner, cooped up behind three short cubicle walls and right next to a rather tall and imposing wall.
At this time, only Matt is in, so we say our hellos, make some comments about the new sitting arrangement, and then I start reconnecting all the hardware.

Then, when that's all done, I go on a bit of a sight-seeing tour.
The view from this floor is about the same as in the last building, the kitchen area has the same snacks and coffee, so after a while I come back to the cubicle farm and start work.

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Happy birthday

[Estimated reading time: 4 minutes]

I sit down at a wooden kitchen table, red place mats at four spots, familiar wear in the surface.
There'a blackboard-
No, wait, it's a white-board, with alcohol-smelling markers.
One is definitely shitty, but we're not going to throw it away.
It's there in case.

The teacher walks in and my spine snaps, my head moves at sonic frequencies and for a moment I break the sound-barrier.

"Today's lesson is feelings.
It's very simple: you are not allowed to have them."

The teacher writes NO FEELINGS in big blocky letters on the board.
She starts with the shitty red marker, which fails halfway through the O, and replaces it with a blue one, continues like it's nothing.

She talks, I listen.
She tells stories of minimal importance, things like the cost of chicken on this particular Tuesday, and creates a storm in a freaking tea-cup.
She discusses her feelings, at every opportunity, and I have to listen.

I forget what it's like to have feelings.

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“Hot IPA”

[Estimated reading time: 4 minutes]

[This is a work in progress.]

The whale-song rings in the air, bounces off the bay-side cliffs, and echoes across the water.
The pod has been getting rowdier every day, and today, shortly after noon, they set out on their annual southern pilgrimage.

There is a small crowd gathered to see me off, all of us intimately aware of the whales setting off for ports unknown, and I am overcome with hugs and kisses from friends and family.
My sub is stuffed to the brims with their gifts and well-wishes, from bunches of apples to gallons of milk, a dozen sticks of butter.
And, somehow, an entire ramman, chopped and divvied up into manageable chunks that have been buried in the deepest crevices of the sub.
The whales' pilgrimage is my own, as well.
The first time following a pod, outside of a sim or a virtuality.
My heart is doing laps now.

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[Estimated reading time: 6 minutes]

ID: PAA-19BDL-2025

Recovery date: March 4, 12 PAE (August 7, 2038 CE)

Diary belonging to Anne Graham-Hatoyama, found in the aftermath of ORANGE FEATHER.
Handwriting analysis and on-site surveillance confirm that all entries were written by the same person, Anne Graham-Hatoyama, over the course of 6 days.

Monday, October 6th, 2025

Dear diary, hi!

My name is Anne and I am 13 years old.

Papa said that I should keep a diary, and then he brought you for me.
You are leather-bound hippy paper, pages with rough edges in a strange, inconsistent white.

I'm using my favorite black pen, the one I buy online direct from Japan, with very sharp tip.
It rips you to small, white shreds, but it works.
When I go to the store tomorrow I will try to find a different pen.

I am going to try writing in you for at least 10 minutes a day.

Papa says "habits make the person".
I like that.

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[Estimated reading time: 29 minutes]

Tuesday morning, catching up

It's Tuesday morning, not even 7, when I get to the school.
For the past few days I was out of town, camping, and this is my first day back, so I decided to come in earlier than normal and start in on the ungraded pile of quizzes from Monday.
Hit the ground running and all that.

Eventually Jerome comes in and we split the remainder of the work.
Grading the quizzes and chatting about our lives is a nice way to get back into the swing of things.

The first class is at 9 and we have plenty of time to catch up and even plan out the day's activities.
Over the past week, Jerome has been working through the lesson plan we both came up with, and I'm happy to see that all the kids in our classes seem to be following the material.

As 9am approaches, the students start to come in, so I ask each about the past week, and in turn I get grilled about the camping trip.

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[Estimated reading time: 27 minutes]

Ferry, drive

Strong winds bring the chill and cover us in ocean spray, but they are a welcome counterpart to the blazing sun, so we stay over the foredeck of the ferry and welcome it.
Clara nuzzles in closer, hides her face within the too-large windbreaker she got just for these occasions.
Alan is doing his best King of the World impression, and his red 49s jacket looks like Superman's cape.
Beth is off to the side, a camera up to her face, moving a bit to secure a proper vantage point.

"Composition," she explains to anyone who will listen, "is the most important aspect of photography," then chuckles at her own joke.
She is now lining up Alan and the mountains off in the distance, attempting to get both into an iconic Pacific Northwest shot.

"This is going to be fun," Clara says for the dozenth time and kisses my cheek.
I stare ahead and nod.

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“The Rover”

[Estimated reading time: 11 minutes]

[This is a work in progress.]

Fran's evening, a trip to the hospital

Fran pushes the pizza box against the door, her purse balanced on top, the keys in the same hand that's supporting the box, and awkwardly unlocks the door.
Her grip shifts down to the handle and she carefully stumbles into her apartment, in a well-practiced and rehearsed motion.

The door slams shut behind her, Fran puts the pizza and her stuff on the ground, then lets out a long-held scream: "Ahhhh! Fuck that scum-sucking fuck! Fucker!"

She stands and breathes and centers herself.
The explosion is good, it's helpful and cathartic, and now she just needs to regain her composure.

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“Now that you’re gone”

[Estimated reading time: 19 minutes]

[This is a work in progress.]

1997, July 15th, 7pm

I get to the tower just a minute or two after it happens: his body is lying on the ground, just to the side of the small fountain that occupies the circular driveway.
His eyes are closed and it almost looks like he's asleep.

People love taking naps in pools of blood, right?

I pause time and walk around the body, weave my way between very realistic-looking statues of businessmen and women.
His hair is disheveled, and of course there's all the blood, but that's about it, nothing else looks strange or out of place.
He might as well be sleeping.

I look up and my eyes - slowly - follow the parallel lines of the building up, stopping ever so briefly at each floor, counting the stories consciously.
The top of the building is occupied by a penthouse, and so far I've counted about thirty-five stories.

I walk toward the building, enter the statue-menagerie through an open door.
The lobby is packed with a bunch of corporate suits, all streaming out to take in the sight.

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