Daughter of the Sun – free sample

Daughter of the Sun

a modern epic poem

by JD Adler

ISBN: 9781520646589

(full text available on Amazon in print or Kindle)

“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so? ”
– Charles Bukowski

Chapter 1: Prey

running
through the trees
long
slender
sweaty legs
in big brown hiking boots
heart
pounding
panic
breathing
mind
racing
frightened, focused, excited
eyes simultaneously seeking
paths before
predator behind
wanting
hunting
closer all the time

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Drone Wars 2: Pµni§πM3n†

Punishment

The door exploded into the apartment. When the dust and smoke cleared, a 4 foot tall, 2 foot wide, 2 foot deep, grey cube on small tank tracks extending to either side of its base, rolled into the apartment. It bore no markings and made no noise. Having rolled six inches across the threshold it stopped. the walls around the top section, perhaps a foot down, opened like metal flower petals revealing sensor devices below monitors. Then a sphere ejected from the top and began to fly around the room, stopping by each human, and scanning them with a green light. It finally stopped in front of Edgar, where he lay curled up at Kevin the Dog’s feet.

20130731-201528.jpgArt by El Greco

“You are Edgar, leader of this cell. You are to be detained for questioning.”

Heather, who had been hiding behind the kitchen counter, found this too much to bear. She bolted up and marched out between the drone and Edgar, wagging her finger in its sensor, “Questioning by whom? Who are you? Why are you operational while everything else is down? Where is your warrant for him? You can’t just come in here and take this person, you, you, robot.”

The drone sphere flew back to its body, reconnected, and ‘faced’ her with its primary monitor. “This unit is a US Army drone series Civilian Interrogation and Detention, designated for civilian patrol. You may refer to this unit as Cid. Units like Cid are able to operate because the military and civilian nets are not linked. A warrant is not necessary because the Patriot Act of 2001 and the NDAA of 2012 allow the President to declare an emergency which supersedes the Bill of Rights. I was built to enforce executive power in such an emergency. Do you have any other questions, citizen?”

“Only 1, Cid, if you are built for emergencies, why weren’t you prepared for this?”

Stevie and Johnny had snuck up behind Cid while it was talking with a scramble grenade. It was a crude device of their own making. Once attached to any digital machine with a suction pad, dozens of recursive algorithms would be generated and infected the target, all absent any structure to determine a termination point, causing the device to lock up and shut down.

Unfortunately for them, Cid didn’t actually have a backside and was well aware of their attack. When they leapt for it, 2 robotic arms shot out of its midsection, pummeled them in the stomachs, and then retracted as they sank to the floor. “I am sorry if I hurt you. But damage to Cid is not allowed. You have all now been upgraded to prime suspects in the assault on the civilian network. You will come with Cid.”

“And if we refuse?” Ellen tried to look hard, with her hand on her out thrust hip.

“Cid must bring you to headquarters for questioning. It is not necessary that you be conscious, though that is optimal. The choice is yours, however. There is a military vehicle downstairs.” Then it turned slightly, and extended a grasping limb from its body, gesturing towards the door like a person politely offering to allow someone to go first.

Then Heather and Ellen walked over to the boys, and helped them to their feet. Cid continued to stand near Edgar. It offered him assistance standing, but he slapped the metallic appendage away. In single file, the prisoners marched out the door, followed by their robot captor.

The Naval Yard

they were taken to was just a few blocks from Penn’s Landing where they had been the night before. Grey skies hung over the bay, a few commercial ships slowly drifted downriver, but there were none of the personal boats normally seen cruising around.

They were taken to the Marine Parade Grounds off Broad St and Constitution Ave, which had been fenced in as an open air prison to hold the dozens of people now milling around. With more showing up, like Edgar’s crew, almost continuously.

The auto-van took them to the North West corner, where Broad intersected Intrepid Ave and overlooked the bay. Cid had disappeared after they were locked in the back of the van, presumably to secure more prisoners. When the doors opened here, a 2 foot long, flying, 3 sided, pyramid drone was in front of them, also grey. It appeared to have visual sensors along the edges and a microphone/speaker in the center of each panel. It spoke briefly, “Follow me or be punished.” It then flew in the direction of a set of locks to enter the fenced area.

“I guess we should follow.”

“Are we going to attempt escape?”

By this point they had all climbed out of the van and were able to get a better look at the surrounds than provided via the tiny, barred windows. The air over the base was filled with drones of all types, as was the road and the building rooftops. Some with obvious weapons, some without. There were also humans, armed and unarmed, in uniform and in suits, walking hurriedly everywhere.

“So, that would be a no on the escaping thing.” Ellen’s dry sarcasm received no laughs.

Heather sighed and focused on keeping everyone focused, “Not right now, anyway. Just stick to the protocol. Deny everything. You’re just a citizen.”

“And if they have evidence?” Stevie was calculating the skill sets of the various drones around them.

“If they show you the evidence, then you declare yourself with pride but turn nobody else over.”

“About that, if we’re proud–“

“We are anonymous. Nobody should ever know us, individually. We are not interested in being heroes, just in being free.”

“Yes, we are all individuals.” Ellen intoned. Edgar hadn’t said anything, he just kept staring at the gates.

The first set of gates locked behind them, they were now in a 3 foot wide, 30 yard long, fence hallway between 2 gates with about 30 other people when the pyramid drones demanded a halt. A large sphere drone, like a golden, metallic mirror, rose above the group, issued a short tonal introduction and then began to speak in stern, but soft feminine tones, like an old librarian.

“Greetings Citizens, you are all suspects in last night’s attack on this nation’s security and stability. Obviously most of you are not guilty. It is the goal of this process to figure out who is innocent and set them free. You will all now be tagged with ID chips to make this process more efficient. The chip will be inserted into the arm at the shoulder by the drone, the drone will issue a beep sound, the suspect will then state their name aloud. It is advised that suspects respond properly the first time to avoid punishment. Thank you for your assistance in catching the truly guilty people who caused all of this.”

Then a flock of pyramid drones descended onto the group, with limbs extended from the center of their bottom. Each limb terminated in a 1″ diameter tubular device containing an injector. When the tube is placed against a body, the injector slides forward, digs into the flesh and thrusts the ID chip inside the body, stapling it to the bone with a second device that sends out a RF signal only if removed. There was a good deal of screaming, shouting and crying emanating from the compound in the next few minutes.

Afterwards, they were released into the yard. It didn’t take long to figure out how these people were selected. Everyone was a hacker of some type. Most were amateurs who like to jail break phones or pirate games. But there were a handful of pros around too. They were all staying away from each other, but Ellen and Heather had already seen half the local Anonymous crew milling around the yard.

“They must have had all of us on a list to be able to scoop us up like this.” Johnny muttered.

“File that under no shit.”

He ignored Ellen and kept on, “Sooo, about that drone saying we were prime suspects, I don’t see why that made us any more suspicious to them than before. Isn’t that exactly what they expect from everybody here? A bunch of anti-gov, hacker, radicals?”

Heather nodded, “Yeah, your probably right. But we should also assume those ID chips they practically raped us with,” she rubbed at the quarter sized wound on her arm, and everybody else did too, “probably have bugs in them, too.”

Stevie’s eyes got wide and he spoke into Ellen’s shoulder, “Right, I’m sure glad that I’m not the person responsible for this terrible deed. I’d hate to have the government after me.”

Before anybody could offer Johnny more than a withering look in response, a spectacle had begun on the far side of the field. A young man in a white t-shirt and sweat pants, clearly pulled out of his home while still in his PJs, stood up on a rock in the field and began speaking to the crowd of prisoners. People were cheering him on, so the crew walked over to hear what he was saying.

“- and I don’t know who did that last night, but if you’re here, good job.” The crowd cheered again. “Not only was that an awesome hack, but look at this bullshit!” More cheers and cursing, “How the fuck can they just round us up, tag us, and lock us up like cattle? When the hell did that become kosher? I’m a college kid who once a hacked a phone just to see if I could, and here I am on some enemies list.

“It was Fredric Nietzsche who said-,” Edgar and Heather turned to scan the perimeter. The drones didn’t seem to care about the young speaker. They continued to buzz about the yard, swooping in on individuals, herding them over towards the gate or back again, as they received unheard orders from their unseen masters.

A flock of 7 pyramid drones flew towards them. They exchanged a glance, but said nothing. The drones encircled them. The crowd grew silent and backed away. The drone, intoned its directions, “You 5 are required to come to the interview room at this time.”

The young speaker, realizing his audience had been stolen from him, decided to seize an opportunity to be daring and heroic. He jumped off his rock, ran through the crowd, and jumped in front of the drone issuing orders. “How dare you! We are humans! We made you! You don’t give us orders!”

A small, circular portal opened on the side of the drone and out fired a small projectile into the angry young man. He remained awake long enough to say, “What was that?” By which time the sedative had flooded his nervous system and he collapsed into a pile of skinny limbs and oversized clothing.

“So,” Ellen smirked at the drone, “Which way to the interview rooms?”

The drone turned on its axis in mid air, “You will follow this unit.”

As the crew started to move towards the pyramid drone, Edgar remained in place. He did not speak, or act in any specific way, but it was clear something was stirring deep inside him. The crowd could feel it and they began to back away. The machines were unaware, and they approached Edgar, insisting on his obedience.

“You will not deviate from instructions.”

The drone attempted to herd Edgar along by taking a position behind him and moving towards the desired direction. He did not budge. The nose of the machine pressed against his back fat, first just a nudge, then harder, and harder still. A slender trickle of blood began to leak out from his flesh, through the shirt, and down the silver sides of the flying pyramid.

Everyone, even the other drones, stood still and watched this battle of wills between man and machine taking place on the field. Edgar’s eyes were closed, his face blank, he leaned back into the drone, just slightly. Heather thought he had never looked so noble. The drone’s engines began to rev higher, and it dug deeper into his flesh.

“Deviation is not allowed.” The drone repeated.

“I guess I’m just a deviant.” Edgar said, quietly. Then he threw himself sideways. The drone had embedded itself too far to pull out in time and they both smashed into the ground with a loud noise. Edgar rolled off its nose, picked up a rock, and with blood pouring out his back, began to smash the machine to pieces where it lay.

From the sky, an electric pulse shot into Edgar’s back, sending him into a chubby pile of vibrating, bleeding flesh. This was a last straw for the crowd. Several dozen rocks flew towards the flock of drones hovering above, which dodged them with mechanical ease. The impromptu ballistic protests reached their collective zeniths, paused dramatically, then completed their parabolic paths in a disheartening stony rain.

Yelps, shouts and panicked cries echoed across the yard as nerd pandemonium ensued. The yard PA system issued a singular statement, “Deviation from instructions will be punished!” Then the drones began firing volleys of electric stun blasts into the crowd. It took only a few moments for the majority to be immobilized. The remainder volunteered to lay down after that.

Edgar still lay bleeding where he fell. The drone still lay next to him, in pieces. 2 drones lowered themselves over the 2 damaged bodies. A green light scanned each. Then they paused for a few moments while data was shared and processed with the central processor. After an assessment and decision had been made, they rose a few feet, a panel slid open in the base of both, and each released a single round object at the damaged parties. Seconds later they struck dead center in the exposed side.

The explosion did not fill a large area. Nor was it very bright, or loud. In mere moments, Edgar and the Drone were no longer occupying the yard. When the dust settled, whatever the grenades released had melted both bodies down to puddles of goo. Then the pyramid drones that had extinguished them, hovered low, extended a vacuum tube, sucked their liquified remains and flew away.

Heather, one of the lucky few who was still conscious, screamed as they left. It was a primal, guttural wail with no intelligible words but the deep sadness it contained was easily understood by any animal who heard it. The drones were nonplussed.

The Pool

Jerome Peabody, Fund Manager

Jerome Peabody drove his pooh brown SUV out of his 2 car garage, and down the short driveway, turning right onto Mason St. The garage couldn’t really fit 2 cars because of this oversized vehicle, but Jerome lived alone, so that wasn’t a problem. Though this fact made the oversized vehicle less sensical, still it was the thing to have at his age and income level. He absently brushed his right hand down the length of the narrow, plaid tie which served to break the monotony of his pale blue, button down shirt checked his thinning brown hair in the mirror, and pulled out of the driveway. The plaid tie, pale blue shirt, black pleather belt, black nylon slacks, and sturdy, black, dress/walking shoes were all newly purchased at JCPenny just the day before; a present to himself on the occasion of his 10th anniversary at work. At the office, they gave him a dinner coupon for $50, a cake in the break room, and a bonus of $350. His supervisor, a kid half his age who had been there half the time, patted him on the back and praised his consistency. Jerome was surprised and delighted.

Today was Wednesday. Jerome didn’t go into the office on Wednesdays. This was his day in the field with Citizens who were about to become active in The Pool. The Pool couldn’t just exist on its own, someone had to operate it. That was Jerome’s job. He was a Manager for the National Economic Stability and Justice Pool, and newly active accounts had to be investigated to prevent “mistakes”.

A light day today, only 2 Citizens to visit. Jerome decided to drive to the furthest account first and then head towards home as he worked. That would be most efficient. Tapping the turn signal left, he checked all directions twice, then rolled up the on ramp, slowing for the yield sign as he checked across his left shoulder, and then merged smoothly onto the freeway. There was no radio on, or cell phone hooked up, no tasty beverage, or any other form of distraction. Jerome drove the vehicle with his hands at 10 and 2, and thought about his next meeting. Safety demanded he not divide his attention further.

North for an hour to see Erin Nolan, 80 years old, mother of 4, widow of 5 years, dying of Leukemia, property totaling 40 acres valued at $3.4 million, cash/investments totaling $2.5 million. Expected death date: 3 days maximum, October, 17, 2042. Exactly 80 years, 3 months and 4 days after her birth.

Without even realizing it Jerome began to whistle. He did it a lot, though he had no idea, whistling while he thought about his clients. It would shock him to realize it, such an unnecessary and pointless act. “Why would anyone do that?” He would ask, if he were ever cornered into a conversation about whistling. But there he was, just driving down the highway, thinking about a dying woman’s property, and whistling a tune.

Erin Nolan, Citizen

It took exactly 1 hour 10 minutes to cover the 63 miles between his home and Mrs. Nolan’s, including a stop to buy a water and energy bar before the meeting, granola without flavoring. The driveway wound like a snake up the perfectly trimmed, vibrant green hillside the ivory mansion perched atop. Walls gleaming, 137 windows and solar paneled roofs sparkling, his fecal toned automobile rolled into its corona sphere. Squinting against the reflected light, he reached for his laptop from the seat back compartment of the passenger seat, an outdated, heavy piece of equipment that contained files on thousands of Citizens. He opened the door, stepped into the light, and approached the column framed entryway. A pair of ivory colored, ceramic, Doric Columns, connected to nothing, pointed at the sky. Jerome stared at the not-portico for a moment, confused. There were columns but no roof. The base was cement, painted ivory, and the doorframe was wood, carved with an Ionic pattern, also painted ivory. He could not help but wonder where they found the craftsman willing to do this project. Shaking his head, and whistling, he walked up to the door and pushed the little yellow button bearing a smiley face. He could here the song, “Hello” by the Beatles, echoing through the house.

Jerome cleared his throat, straightened his perfectly straight shirt, then turned to observe the view. From this vantage he could see the suburb where he lived and the city skyline beyond. In close, rolling green hills, groves of trees, and farmhouses, cut into squares by transportation routes extended outward towards the grim urban towers spewing columns of dust, smoke, and heat into the sky with multifaceted flecks of electric lights cutting the darkness like insect eyes. He had just started to whistle when the door opened again.

“Oh, sir, hello, sorry for the wait.” He turned around to find a woman standing there probably only a few years younger than him. She looked as if someone had stretched out a much younger girl, dressed her in a black pantsuit, and added wrinkles to the corners of her eyes. Blonde hair hung in a scraggled mess around her face, framing eyes puffy and red from weeping. Her thin lips chewed on a lock, which she quickly pulled away with a long, slender finger. She attempted a smile, “Please come in, I’m Kerrie. Are you the PoolBoy?”

Jerome bristled at the diminutive nickname, “I am the Fund Manager, Jerome Peabody, yes ma’am.” He nodded as he crossed the threshold. The main room was larger than his home, a giant open, circular, space, floored with hardwood, containing only a massive chandler dangling over a circular table in the center. Along both walls were pocket stairwells, and in the center back, the only exit, a set of white double doors.

“Fund Manager? You mean PoolBoy isn’t your proper title?”

Jerome turned to face her, “No, ma’am, people just say that because the the Fund is referred to as The Pool.”

“Isn’t that it’s proper name either?”

“No ma’am, it’s the National Economic Stability and Justice Pool.”

“Well that is a mouthful.”

“I suppose, ma’am.”

“They ought to call it the Government Crime Project!” Stumbling down the stairs with a drink of dark alcohol in his hand, at 10:15 am, a young man with curly black hair and dressed in a pink bathrobe, bellowed and slurred.

“Don’t listen to him.” Kerrie turned her back to intruder and waved her hand dismissively, “He’s my cousin Luke, he’s just angry because he has to earn his own money now.”

“Yes, we’ll, Justice does have 2 scales, as they say.” Jerome nodded in a thoughtful manner.

Her head tilted slightly, “I never heard that before. Who says that?”

He paused, surprised by the inquiry, “I don’t know, possibly only my father.”

“Oh, hmm, I like that.”

“Ma’am, not to be rude, but may I see Mrs. Erin Nolan?”

Luke slid/fell his way down the last few stairs, then paused holding onto the bannister, as if unsure whether he was indeed standing or not. He looked around, then seemed to remember what was happening and turned to Jerome with a sneer, “Yes! Hurry up and get to your prey, vulture. Don’t waste any time talking to those of us who are about to be bereft of our love.”

This was too much for Kerrie, she pirouetted angrily, and delivered her most acidic, boardroom, retort, “Which love would that be, Luke, my Mother, or her fortune?” Luke shrank back, unsure how to deal with actual confrontation, so she dismissed him with a snide upturn of her lip and returned her attention to Jerome. “Mr. Peabody, if you’ll follow me, please.”

“Yes, ma’am.” She escorted him, briskly, butt cheeks almost squeaking, towards the white doors at the back of the hall. A large, bearded, black man dressed in a dark suit with a white shirt swung open the double doors upon their approach till they locked in place, then stood by the right, at attention. Kerrie stopped in front of him.

“Todd, this is Mr. Peabody from the National Econ- from The Pool. He will be here for a few hours. Treat him as you would any guest.”

“Yes, ma’am.” He responded in a high, squeaky voice like an animated mouse or a misaligned flywheel.

“Sir, this is my mother’s butler, Todd. He will get you anything you need, my Mother is in here.” Then she turned and headed through the doors into a sunroom which had been converted into a makeshift hospice bedroom.

The floor was cement, tiled with painted ceramic laid out in a mosaic of Van Gogh’s The Lilly’s, the ceiling and wall was a half arch of glass extending in a radius of 5 meters out from the wall, supported by plastic beams every meter along the width. To his left, all the plants in the room had been moved, crowded together, haphazardly piled on tables, chairs, and the floor. To his right, Mrs. Erin Nolan lay prone on an aluminum framed bed, stark white sheets and blankets bleached yellow by the sun, a single tube extending from her emaciated left arm into a clear plastic bag dangling from a metal pole by the bedside. The sole color came from a small square of cloth laying across her torso, gripped tightly by her right hand, faded and edges haggard, it had the face of a puppy stitched into the center in green yarn. Older than anyone in the house except Erin, she had this blanket since her now deceased little sister made it for her 70 years ago.

Kerrie pointed to the bed, and held back a sob, “She’s not awake very often. I would prefer you didn’t disturb her.”

“I need to run some tests, but I should be able to do so without bothering the Citizen. I do have to ask some questions of someone. Will you be around in half an hour?”

“Yes, though you may find Todd more useful for personal details, he knew her better than anyone at this point.”

“Very well. I’ll begin now. You can stay or go, as you wish.”

Kerrie looked at her mother again, then all but ran from the room, holding her hand to her mouth. He walked over to the bedside, noticed a chair against the wall, pulled it out, and sat facing her. He set the computer on his lap, opened it, and began calling up files as soon as the operating system engaged.

Active Accounts > Inheritance > Incoming > Nolan, Erin > Identification

This was the first time he had actually looked at her, personally. She looked like her daughter, but all dried up like a raisin to a grape. Her hair lay in wispy patterns of white on white across the pillow. Her narrow lips fluttered in the weak puffs of air her lungs still managed to expel. Both of her arms lay exposed, pale flesh dangling from the bone, so thin the feeble veins and arteries were visible like a morbid, interactive Jackson Pollock.

He pressed audio record on the keyboard. “This is Manager Peabody, Case #42-10-345p, Nolan, Erin. On Location with Citizen. She is unconscious, gaunt, dehydrated, pale, and malnourished to the untrained eye. First thought upon seeing her is that this human will be dead soon. About to perform DNA test to confirm identity.”

Jerome then set the computer down on the floor, reached into his left shirt pocket and removed a vial containing a cotton swab. Whistling, he popped open the top, removed the swab, leaned down by the side of the bed, stuck it into her urine container that was being filled by a catheter tube plugged directly into her pee hole. He soaked it, and then pulled it back out, and looked to be sure it was saturated. Still whistling, he stuck it back into the vial, replaced the lid, and pressed a button on the bottom. A clear chemical filled the bottom, and the swab turned blue. After painting the inside of the lid with the treated cotton, he laid it face down on a 3 cm square scanner in the upper right corner of the keypad. The he turned to face the Butler.

“Okay, that will take awhile. I will need confirmation of Mrs. Nolan’s estate and assets,” He told Todd the Butler. “and their is a final witness document.”

“Mrs. Nolan, when she was still able, gave me this to give you. It is a complete list of all her holdings.” Todd held out a USB drive.

“Hmmm, yes, I should be able to view this while the scan completes.” Jerome took it, plugged it in, began perusing the list. “All very standard. 2 boats, 3 houses, a farm, several vehicles, oh a private airplane, very nice. Ah, she still owned shares in quite a number of companies, usually they buy them back before death. That will fetch quite a nice sum. Very good, very good, everything seems to be in order.”

“I’m very happy for you.”

“Hmm? Oh yes, sorry. Well, as you know, property will not transfer to the state until 6 months after death. Cash and investments will transfer immediately. The funeral cost will be-”

“Can we not talk about this right here. She can still hear, you know.”

“Oh, well, if you wish.”

“I wish.”

“I just have a 1 more thing to do here with the body.”

“Mrs. Nolan.”

“Yes, who else?”

“I meant- never mind, just hurry up and be done, I’ll be right outside if you need me.”

“I understand.”

Exactly 14 minutes and 30 seconds after beginning his Citizen Inventory, Fund Manager Jerome Peabody completed it. He had also measured and weighed the Citizen, and complied a complete list of her demographics. Finalizing his checklist, Jerome stood and went outside for Todd the Butler. He found him standing in the doorway, facing forward, hands at his side, eyes brimming. “Excuse me, Todd, I could use your assistance inside.”

The Butler cleared his throat and replied in quivering falsetto, “Of course, I’ll be right there.”

Jerome returned to his laptop, balanced it on his left palm, and with his right thumb pressed a preset on the number pad. An application of his own design opened with a absolutely no fanfare at all, beyond the interface fading in full screen. The camera and mic were now set to record at the touch of a button, and the scanner became touch sensitive. Todd entered the room.

“Okay, Todd, you will say your name, that you are a “witness”, and the date, and then put your thumb on the scanner like I do.”

“My thumb?”

“Yes. I am here to confirm this is her, and you are confirming that I am actually here. Can’t have people defrauding The Pool. Trust but verify, as the proverbs say.” Jerome found it was helpful to reassure people with traditional sayings. The Butler gave him a funny look but shrugged and nodded. Jerome was satisfied with that. He continued ahead.

Reaching up, he pressed the space bar and the word recording appeared on the screen in red. He straightened his shoulders and looked into the camera, “This is Jerome Peabody Fund Manager for the Social Economic Justice Fund, performing final inventory for Mrs. Erin Nolan at her primary residence, on October 14, 2042.” Then he placed his thumb on the scanner, it flashed once, then went dark.

Jerome turned the computer to face Todd, and placed both his palms beneath it for balance. “I uh, This is Todd Weaton, Butler to Mrs. Nolan, as good a woman as I’ve ever known, and uh, I am a witness that Mr. Peabody is here, now.” He raised him thumb for the scan, but Jerome stopped him with a gesture.

“Sir, could you, just, say the date.”

“Today is October 14, 2042.” Then he slapped his thumb onto the scanner, hard enough for Jerome to almost lose control of the keyboard.

“Thanks you. Now just 1 more.”

“What do you mean 1 more? What are you doing?” But it was too late for Todd to do anything. Jerome laid the computer on the bed, picked up Erin’s hand, and pressed it on the scanner.

“This is the fingerprint of Erin Nolan, the Citizen whose account has become active.” then he dropped her hand.

Todd had his arms around Jerome by now, he picked him up and tossed the older, smaller, paler man across the room. Jerome landed in a pile of plants, flowers, and chairs, he opened his eyes to see the angry butler storming towards him. Kerrie ran into the room, “What is all that noise? Todd? No! What are you doing?”

“He put his hands on Mrs. Nolan.”

“What?”

“I was just getting a fingerprint, for my files. It is required.” He stood slowly, bruised and shaken, but not really hurt. He began to vigorously brush the dirt and wrinkles out of his suit, but then surrendered to the situation.

“Is it required that you do it like an ambush, instead of asking politely, like a human being?”

“I find that people are not always accommodating, yet it has to be done. So I take the shortest route.”

“You are a disgusting little man, Mr. Peabody.” Kerrie now turned her sneer on him. “Have you collected everything you need?”

“I have.”

“Then gather your things and leave.”

“Very well.”

Jerome Peabody, Regroup

It took less than 5 minutes for Jerome Peabody to be on the road again. He was quite satisfied to be away from that house. People were most unruly at these times, especially the wealthy. They were so accustomed to being in control of their world and getting what they want, both death and The Pool did not sit well with them.

Ah well, nothing to be done, next on the list. Which would be… Loomis, Arthur T., 34 years 362 days old, 1 child, married, property totaling 1 vehicle valued at $10,000, cash/ investments totaling $500 cash and -$10,000 debt. Birthdate: October, 17, 2007.

It would take 32 minutes to arrive at the home of Citizen Loomis. Jerome tried to focus on piloting the vehicle, but all he could think about was his disheveled appearance. His new clothes were ruined, even the shoes, which were both comfortable and dress black, had been scuffed in the fall. These were his anniversary present to himself. Now they’re ruined. Not even an apology, instead they use terms like Pool Boy and thief. As if The Pool weren’t essential.

The Pool was the result of the Great Economic Compromise of 2025. American government was stagnate, divided leaders refused to give any philosophical ground, meanwhile the country was sinking deeper into economic ruin. Until President Stein struck a deal all sides could accept. Social Security and Welfare, in all forms, would cease to exist. Medicare would become a universal health insurance plan with a means tested fee. Only spouses can inherit money or property of any type, with certain exceptions for heirlooms. Absent a living spouse, all treasure is converted to cash and entered into The Pool. At age 18, 35 and again at the chosen date of retirement, no less than age 55, all Citizens will receive payments equal to 1/2 the national median income.

Which will be $35,000 today. Jerome mused as he turned into the neighborhood. He swore he recognized these houses. A left on Rodale Street, a right onto Greenway, I know this place. This should be it on the right side, 472. Yes sir, I have definitely been here before. I wonder if it was for a payment or an inventory?

Each yard was neatly squared off by sidewalks of square cement blocks and cracked tar driveways. Basketball nets hung, ragged and rusted, like a field of crosses marking the death of middle aged men’s dreams. Citizen Loomis’s yard was a brown swath of old growth infiltrated by every weed in the region. You could feel the lush green grass in the other yards projecting disapproval towards his yard.

Arthur Loomis, Citizen

Jerome stood next to his vehicle, inspecting himself to be sure he didn’t have any dirt left hanging on him. It was bad enough to be a wrinkled mess, but he couldn’t very well embarrass the government by showing up covered in dirt. He took another look, and then headed up the path towards the white aluminum screen door on the front of the forest green ranch house. Perfectly squared bushes lined the walk on the approach to the house, creating a privacy barrier for the front deck. Jerome stepped onto the cherry stained pine planks, a series of wooden 4×4’s to his left and right, support the roof over his head, all untreated. He stepped towards the door looking for a bell.

“Hello.” From his left, a tiny voice sitting on a hammock. A little girl, 5 or 6, with red hair and a blue jumpsuit, and a cloth doll of some type Jerome was not familiar. “Can I help you?”

He approached her, “Hello. I hope so. I’m looking for a Mr. Arthur Loomis.”

“That’s Daddy, but I don’t know you.”

Despite himself, Jerome smiled, “That’s true, but you’re father is expecting me. Why don’t you tell him that the man from The Pool is here.”

“You’re the PoolBoy?”

“I am not- yes, fine, whatever, please just tell you’re father I am here.”

“You don’t look like a pool guy, you’re not even wearing a bathing suit. You know, we don’t even have a pool.”

“I don’t work on pools. It’s just a nickname. I’m here to discuss something important with your father could you please let him know that I’m here.”

“My Dad is at the store. He’ll be back in a half hour or so.”

“I see. And your mother, where is she?”

“Mommy’s standing behind you.”

Jerome spun around to find a brunette in a ponytail, blue t- shirt, work gloves, and overalls holding a hand spade in 1 hand while covering her giggles with the other. As soon as he saw her he remembered why he recognized the address. She knew him, too.

“Peabody! It’s you, holy cow! You’re my guy, and now my husband’s guy, too! What are the odds of that? Huh? How often does a couple get the same guy? Come in, come in.”

She grabbed his hand and dragged him inside. Her name was Ellen Klein, at least it was 3 years ago. When he new her she was a single, childless, doctoral student. She was the one. For weeks after their meeting he had been unable to work properly, his entire life became unsettled, all he wanted was to reach out to her. But there were rules about that sort of thing, and he did not break rules. Now here she was again, and him with his new, anniversary suit, ruined.

The little girl took his other hand, “My name is Athena.”

“Really?”

“Yes really, what’s your name?”

“Jerome Peabody.”

“Really?”

“Fair enough.”

Ellen patted him on the arm, “Its really nice to see you again. I never thought I’d get to thank you.”

“Thank me?”

“The Payment saved me.” she snapped her fingers, “Out of debt, wiser for the mistakes, and a few grand left to do something with, just like that. I set up a home business which not only pays my bills but also led to meeting my husband.”

“And me!” shouted Athena.

“And you, my little bonus prize. Say thank you to the nice man for setting those dominos in motion.” She hugged and kissed Athena on the head.

“Thanks Peabody, for the dominos.” She beamed at him so enthusiastically he barely had the heart to correct them.

“Really, ma’am, I think you are giving me too much credit. I didn’t give you anything, the law says everyone on their 18th and 35th birthday and retirement. I just verify and deliver.”

“Daddy is going to be 35 this week. Is that why you’re here?”

“Yes. I have to be sure that we have the correct information, address, bank account number, stuff like that, and while I’m here we do an enhanced census report. Then I file my approval and the payment is deposited on the Citizen’s birthday.

“and to answer your prior question, I’ve never heard of a Manager getting assigned both spouses, but the program is getting older now. I mean so far nobody born into the program has retired, so we have a lot to learn yet.”

“Wow, I never thought about that side of it.” Ellen shrugged, then looked around in mock surprise, “I’m sorry, do you want a drink? Something to eat?”

“If Citizen Loomis is going to be another half hour, I suppose I could use a glass of water.”

“Okay. It won’t be quite that long, but it’ll be a minute. How about a muffin, I made muffins this morning, they should still be just a little over room temp. I’ll get some.”

When she came back Athena and Jerome were engaged in a staring contest. He sat upright in the faux Victorian high back, hands laying palm down on his knees, and she sat cross legged on the glass coffee table across from him. She smiled and said “I can not be beaten.”

Jerome, stone faced, said nothing.

“I will not blink.” She said, but you could see the strain was getting to the little girl. She began to shake from the effort, sweat built up on her brow. Jerome didn’t stir.

“I brought water, ice tea, and muffins. If anybody wants to stop competing with children and have some.”

Jerome took the hint, and looked away, “I am beaten. You are the winner.”

“I win! I win!” She hollered and jumped around the room. Hopping from green area rug, to blue couch, to brown love seat, and back again she screamed, “I win!” over and over.

“Alright Athena, enough of that. Don’t be rude to our guest.” Jerome was already pouring himself a glass of water and ignoring the display. “Mr. Peabody, tell me about yourself.” Ellen sat next to him on the couch, and hugging her knees up to her chest.

He almost choked on the water, shocked by the interest in his life, “Me?”

“Yes, you. You must have a life. You know all about me, and my husband, but I don’t know anything about you. That hardly seems fair.”

“I don’t ma’am, I mean there’s-”

“Oh would you please stop being so formal? You know me more intimately than most people, I think you can call me Ellen.”

He blushed at the suggestion that they were intimate, “I don’t know ma- Ellen, my life is not so fascinating. I work and I go home, I’m 47, I own some property and a -”

“Oh no, no, those are just stats. What do you do? I like to garden and make muffins. I help raise this crazed genius. Tell me about you?”

“Well, I enjoy sitting alone at night, on a building rooftop, and just listening to the city; the motors, the feet, the voices, the weapons fire, the alarms, the wind, the buzz of electricity in the wires, a fight between strays, the city. I find the constant measured rhythm of the combined chaos to be reassuring. You know? As if despite all the unknown factors we must face everyday, somehow they combine to form a balanced whole that is always consistent in form.”

“Wow, that’s really beautiful, Peabody.” They looked at each other, and he could see her admiration for his words was completely plutonic, but in that look he felt the burning call of his temptation.

Just then the front door swung open to allow a slender man with a mess of red hair in jeans and a yellow, red, and green horizontal striped T-shirt, carrying bags of groceries. He bellowed a deep brassy, “Daddy’s home! With ice cream.”

“Ice cream!” Athena was off the couch, across the table, and wrapped around his knees before the sound of her voice could close the distance. “Daddy, look, Mommy’s favorite PoolBoy came!”

After Ellen and Arthur stopped laughing, the young man extended a hand to Jerome, “I’m Arthur and I guess you’re from the Pool?”

Ellen interjected, “He’s the same guy who showed up for my payment. Can you believe that? Even he said he never heard of that?”

Arthur looked at him, skeptical,” Really? How bizarre. Well, let’s call it a good omen, and get on with collecting that payment. Shall we?”

Arthur was very happy to get down to business, “Absolutely, sir. We just have to do some paperwork, then I’ll be on my way.”

“Okay, Ellen, could you take the groceries for me before Athena has the ice cream on the rug. Thank you.” He sat down across from Jerome, while he was busily setting up the laptop in the table.

“Alright, to begin I need a DNA sample, for ID purposes, so if you could just swipe your cheek with this,” Jerome reached into his pocket and pulled out a second vial with cotton swab. The process was completed quickly. As was the inventory and fingerprint.

“Very well, sir. Everything appears to be in order. Over the next few days the data from this interview will be catalogued and double checked. Assuming nobody sees an error I missed, you will have a payment equalling half the median income for all households in your primary account on the morning of your birthday.”

“Do you know what that amount is?”

“This morning it was $30,213.45, but it does vary from day to day by a few dollars.”

“A few dollars, huh? Well I guess I’ll just have to wait before i do any real budgeting.”

“Exactly so.”

Ellen had returned, she sat next to Arthur, squeezing his arm, she was so excited, “We’re going to expand our business with half and put the other half away for her college. We’re so excited.”

“What did you do with your 18th birthday payments?” Never before had Jerome taken am interest in the personal lives of his Citizen accounts. He was confused by his own behavior.

They both laughed, she answered, “I went to Australia for a month, came back flat broke. This guy bought a car.”

“I did not buy a car. I bought 3 partially wrecked 1974 Mustangs, and rebuilt them into a single, working vehicle.”
This interested Jerome, “That must have been worth a significant amount of money.”

Arthur looked a little embarrassed, “It was for about a week, until I wrapped it around a tree.”

Ellen giggled, “Not just any tree.”

“It was the tree outside the Mayor’s house. In the middle of his front yard to be precise.”

“Oh.”

“Yes. So, what money I had left was spent on fines, etc.”

“But now you have business together?”

Ellen perked up, “Yes, we have a one of those antique bookstores with a wine bar, so you can have a drink and snack while reading an old fashioned print book. You wouldn’t believe how popular it is.”

“Your probably right. Well, barring any unusual circumstance, your payment sold process on your birthday. Thank you for the muffin.”

“Oh, can’t you stay for dinner?”

“Ellen, let the man go, he’s probably got more clients to see.”

“Thank you for the offer, but that really wouldn’t be appropriate.” Why do I want to say yes so badly.

Jerome gathered his computer, and walked out the door, down the path, and stood by the driver side of his vehicle. He paused and looked up at the porch, Athena hung off the post, swinging back and forth, watching him, she waved. He waved back. Then he got into the vehicle, backed out of the driveway, and whistled all the way home.

Epilepsy nearly killed me (again)

[This is the original, author’s version. An edited was published by The Key West Citizen] When I was 14 (1985) I began having bizarre, frightening experiences. In the mornings, while in the bathroom, I would suddenly find myself falling to the ground without any memory of how I stopped standing normally. During the day, in class, my head would suddenly bounce off my desk for no apparent reason. Sometimes I would be holding conversations with people and, although nothing would seem different to me, they would start looking at me like I was crazy. When I asked why, they would explain I had stopped talking for several seconds and then started up again as if I had never paused, sometimes in mid-word.

My pediatrician, a well respected doctor in the community, had no explanation. He offered ridiculous suggestions like “try eating breakfast before going into the bathroom for your shower, etc”, or getting more sleep, and so on. I don’t think he bellieved these, but he needed to try something.

A few months later, in health class, we were shown a movie. You know the type; black and white film, made in the 50s, with a horrible voice over and scratchy lines cutting through it. This one was about epilepsy, and although the medical science was horribly out of date even then, it was enough for me to recognize what was happening to me. I can not tell you the excitement and relief of realizing that there is an explanation for what is happening to you, that you are not a crazy person. The glimmer of hope it offers that there might actually be some solution.

After a series of tests, my self diagnosis was confirmed and given a label; juvenile onset myoclonic epilepsy. A very technical way of saying puberty has triggered a condition you were born with that causes your brain to short circuit. Over time this condition, if left untreated, will develop into tonic clinic seizures, which are the type most people think of when they hear the word seizure wherein your muscles tighten and release repeatedly for varying periods of time. If it lasts five minutes or more, that’s called status epileptics and could possibly result in brain injury or death. Often, but not always, these seizures include loss of bowel and/or bladder control (imagine explaining that to a new girlfriend in the middle of the night). The victim of these seizures has no memory of events during the seizure. Afterwards, the victim is confused and disoriented, a state called post-ichtal.

This describes the type of epilepsy I have lived with, there are many others. Some elements are common to all, others are unique to this type. In this article I will only be talking about my type.

I also experience something I call mini-seizures. My doctor has never given me a proper medical term, although I am sure there is one. In these mini-seizures I do not lose consciousness or anything else, it is just one specific set of things that happens. My chest constricts like a hiccup, I take an involuntary step, but most significantly, I feel as if my mind is momentarily slightly outside my body. That is a metaphor for something I have diffuctly describing. I am not saying my mind actually leaves my body. I am saying the physical and mental perception is as if I am somehow disconnected from my brain and snap back into place. I know how crazy that sounds, but I do not know how else to describe the sensation. It is disorienting, terrifying, and exciting all at the same time. Afterwards, my stomach is tied up in knots for an hour.

My first neurologist, at the age of 15, prescribed phenobarbital, a powerful barbituate. I went from being among the top students in my class to being a glassy eyed dope head in a matter of weeks. It also had the wonderful side effect of giving me acne across 80% of my face. All of this with little effect at reducing my seizures. He retired two years later. My next doctor was horrified to discover he had prescribed this drug, and immediately changed my prescription to something called depakote. My acne cleared up, my mental processes became better (still not normal, but better), and my seizures started to come under control.

There is no such thing as 100% control. I have been lucky enough to have good control. Some people need brain surgery, or tons of medicines, etc. I have usually been able to get significant control from only one medication at a time.

When I was 19, I decided to travel across country in my car. People told my I was crazy to do this as an epileptic, but I refused to live a life of fear. The first leg of my trip took me to NY state where I immediately got into a car accident. At the time I did not connect it to epilepsy, but when I looked back on it later I realized it was an absence seizure that caused me to pause in the middle of an intersection, not poor vehicle pickup due to too much weight, as I tried to convince myself at the time. The last thing I remember was checking both directions for clearance and then entering the intersection. I do not remember my car being struck in the passenger door, causing it to pivot up onto its nose. I do remember looking through the front window at the ground, and then the car slamming down onto its roof and spinning like a top. I managed to climb out and was standing there when the first responders arrived. I clearly remember all of them being shocked that I was alive, let alone suffering nothing worse than a few scratches. I did continue my cross country trip, but that is a separate story.

Eventually I was able to maintain enough continuous years seizure free that I was able to volunteer as a firefighter (yes my Chief knew the story). Which was very exciting for me, because that had always been my dream job. After a time I was preparing to take the test to become a paid firefighter, and two days before the test I had my first tonic clonic seizure. I remember eating breakfast in a local diner, and then I remember being in an ambulance struggling with the medic. When I became aware enough to stop fighting him, my first question was, “What am I doing in an ambulance?” he told me I had a seizure, and I just sighed. Ending any hope of ever being a paid firefighter, or even volunteering anymore. After all, how could I possibly put other firefighters at risk like that?

As an adult living in California, I now had to find a new neurologist. This doctor put me on a drug called Topomax, along with the Depakote I was already taking. In addition to successfully controlling my seizures, I lost most of my short term memory, began moving my bowels so often that my weight dropped below my high school weight in a matter of weeks, essentially making me look like a junkie, and I began suffering from something called temporary global amnesia. This lovely condition presents as finding yourself somewhere with no idea how you got there or why, although you still know who you are and how to do things like drive for example. My doctor at the time (I had retuned to PA and a new doctor before this last symptom presented) told me this was unrelated to my epilepsy or my medicine. At which point I began looking for yet another new doctor.

The newest doctor, who remains my current one, told me of course the conditions were related, in a way that made me feel good about thinking the prior doctor was a moron. He took me off both of the old meds and replaced them with a medicine called Zonegran which has proven to be very successful at controlling seizures and has shown little in the way of side effects. In fact, not only did I regain a healthy weight, and my short term memory, but I also discovered that what I thought was a normal depression cycle (for me) was in fact a side effect of Depakote, and I had been suffering from cognitive issues as well, all without realizing it. Over a decade lost to depression and cognitive suppression.

But nothing is 100% and I do still suffer from occasional seizures. Usually these present as the “mini-seizures” I described above. However, occasionally they present as full blown tonic clonic, and that is when things get dangerous. Although I still hold a legal driver’s license, I do not drive anymore out of fear of what might happen to someone else. I do not think I could forgive myself if someone else died as a result of me having a seizure while behind the wheel.

What really scares me though is that I might die in some totally pointless way. I am a person who has traveled America several times, I snowboard, I’ve hiked mountains, I do not fear death by adventure. I do fear a humiliating death, falling down the stairs, hitting my head on a toilet, etc. and epilepsy makes that a real possibility.

Ten years ago I almost died in the shower when I had a seizure, fell through the shower curtain, which then wrapped around my face, cutting off my air supply. Had one of my house mates not happened to be home, heard the crash, and kicked in the door when I didn’t answer, pulling the curtain off my face just in time, I surely would have suffocated to death. He told me my face was pale and my lips were blue and I immediately began sucking air in once the blockage was removed. I have no memory of anything between getting in the shower and waking up in the hospital.

Two weeks ago I was riding my bicycle to meet a friend when I apparently had a seizure in the middle of an intersection. I remember riding my bike on Friday and waking up in the hospital on Saturday in four point restraints, a neck brace, my right eye swollen shut, and three broken ribs. In addition, for reasons I can not explain, I believed I had been kidnapped and that the medical staff were lying to me. I was actively fighting and verbally assaulting my caretakers as if they were indeed kidnappers, although I had no reason to believe they would want to do so. When my mother was put on the phone, I warned her to stay away lest she too fall into their trap. It would be Sunday before I began to return to reality. I still have no memory of events between riding my bike on Friday and waking up on Saturday, though I was apparently awake a good portion of that time.

I am a man who believes in facing a challenge, attacking it, and defeating it. When your opponent is your own brain, what are you to do? Unseen, unknown, unable to mount any type of defense or even be given a real explanation. This is life with epilepsy. Literally millions of people have this condition, 50,000 die every year in America, yet no one ever discusses it publicly. Which is why I am telling my story here. I neither want nor need your pity or condolences. I am a grown man, I can get through my life and shoulder my burdens.

What I want, what those of us with epilepsy need, is twofold. 1) an educated public and 2) a greater focus on a finding a cure instead of just a treatment.

So here’s some education: don’t ever put anything in an epileptic’s mouth, they’ll just bite it off and choke on it. If you see someone having a seizure put a pillow under their head, and move anything that might hurt them away. Only call an ambulance if they have hurt themself already, or if it goes on for three minutes or longer, there’s very little a hospital can do for just a seizure. Although an extended seizure can cause brain trauma. Afterwards give them water, and tell them what happened, because they will be confused and dehydrated.

Epilepsy is not a sign of mental retardation or weakness; Alexander and Ceaser conquered the world while suffering from epilepsy in an age when people thought it meant you were possessed by demons. Epilepsy does not prevent you from handling most mental or physical tasks, although you should self regulate when it comes to putting others at risk, but I am perfectly capable of doing most anything anyone else is doing on any given day of the week.

The one thing all types of epilepsy, and many other neurological disorders have in common is low levels of a chemical called GABA. This acronym describes a a chemical which supports the transmission of signals between neurons on the brain. Anti-epileptic drugs help by increasing the receptiveness of the cannabinoid receptors (yes the same receptors as marijuana cannabinis affects) in collecting signals that the low GABA levels cause difficulty in making connections. Is this an oversimplification? Yes, but it’s not wrong. So why are we so far from a cure? I do not know. The brain is a mystery still. Many good people are working on the problem, but no one has a solution yet.

There are days, years, that go by where I am able to barely think about it. Other times, I have no choice because it is shoved right in my face like a brick wall. I am reminded that I am a powerless victim of my own brain and genetics and there ain’t a damn thing I can do about that. All I can do is stand up and dust my self off and take another step forward because what other choice do I have. Screaming at the sky don’t do nothing, not even make me feel better. That’s life with epilepsy, until it isn’t.

Why am I writing this for the whole world to see? I really don’t know, except maybe it’s a little bit cathartic.

Epilepsy has nearly killed me three times now. Will it be the death of me in the end, or will I die from something else entirely? Only time will tell.

[update: 2/13/13]

Another close call, December 20th, two days after my birthday, causing a LisFranc fracture of the right foot which I am still recovering from the resulting surgery. This seizure was full of firsts; my first stairwell fall, my first broken bone, my first surgery, and my first metal plates implanted into my body. I remember sitting at my desk and then being in the hospital. My roomate says his dog came and got him just as he was leaving. A few minutes later, and I would have laid there for how long?

My Doctor wants to give me a second medication. Last time I tried that it had devastating mental and physical side affects. I can handle the physical, but the mental? Which is worse seizures or stupid? If you think that’s an easy question then you either have never had a seizure or you are not a creative thinker.

28 years of seizures, with no end in sight, and all the doctors can offer me is more drug expriments.

[update: 05/28/14]

The textbook says seizures should decrease in frequency after 40. For me, that seems to be true as of 42.  I’ve only had 1 tonic clonic since my last update. That was 2 days after my last birthday, and I’m fairly sure the celebration was the contributing factor there.  Right in the middle of the new girlfriend’s living room. Guesses on how that turned out?

Mini-seizures have increased in frequency, however. Nearly once per week, I momentarily feel my perspective shift, then my stomach rolls, then the dizziness sets in. Sometimes an involuntary twitch of the foot or hand, which sucks if I’m holding coffee.

I finally have insurance via Obamacare, which is nice. I currently owe 10’s of thousands in medical bills from my last 3, uninsured seizures. Taking that fear off the table is a definite stress reducer. Now all I have to do is figure how to pay my debts off.

I never went on the second medication. I think it proved to be the best choice. The zonegran has kept me mostly under control with minimal side effects. Until a cure comes along, that seems t be the best I can hope for.

[Update: 10/21/2015]

I’ve since moved to a new city. One tonic clonic seizure not long after moving here, right around my birthday again. Of course it was in public and people called an ambulance because they were scared. Of course the hospital couldn’t do anything but bill me. Small town doesn’t get the same training as big city, so while I was post-ichtal, all confused, laying on the table in the hospital… the EMT was yelling at me to pay attention and give him the info for his paperwork. Good times.

Mini-Seizures continue to increase in frequency and a severity. Now they seem to hit in series, 3-5 in a row. At work one day I had to stop and sit down because I couldn’t maintain during the post-ichtal. I hate having to ask others to cover for my weaknesses.

I got kicked off Obama-care because I missed two payments. The mistake was mine, I thought I had set up auto pay and hadn’t. When I tried to pay everything I owed, they told me I was too late and couldn’t get it back. I went back forth between the government and the insurance company several times, each blaming the other, before I was told I had no option left. Complete inflexibility, the rules are the rules and you will obey or suffer. So now I pay $121/month for my meds while working for $12/hour plus a handful of tips. Wonder if they’ll make me pay the tax penalty?

Several articles have been published over the last year claiming scientific proof that marijuana can limit seizures with fewer side effects… yet still the government remains adamant on classifying it as worse than heroin or cocaine. Whose side are you on boys?

Maybe there will be cure next year….

A Plan for US

A Plan for US by JD Adler and C Schmitt A call for an Article 5 Constitutional Convention so that the people can impose reform on the government. Bookstore Table of Contents Washington’s Farewell Address    4 I. The Case for a Third Continental Congress    13 II. Amendments    14 Political Accountability    15 Campaign Finance Reform    17 […]

Project Mars

The President of Earth announces that volunteers are needed to settle Mars with the assistance of  aliens who have recently made first contact with us, and every idiot and his brother decides they are the Lewis and Clark of space.

Project Mars, Earth 2025

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Legacy

Chapter 2: Nathan

Officially, you had to be 18 to work. But that was a privilege which belonged to the upper castes. For the children of workers, making money began when you could count. For Nathan, it had always been the hustle. He was a smart kid, quick witted. He never missed an opportunity when it presented itself, and that made him successful on the street. Some days he brought home more money than his father. Not that that what was saying a lot. Even in a lucky family such as Nathan’s, where both parents had decent jobs, there was barely enough income to maintain the small 3 room shack they lived in. Not that he had spent much time there in the last 2 years, anyway