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Excerpt for DuOPolis by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

DuOPolis

By S. Dorman


Copyright 2016-2018 S. Dorman

Softcover ISBN:

Digital ISBN: 9780463859780

Smashwords Edition


This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is not to be construed as real.

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.


Cover image © 2018 by Evelyn Yareff, Creative Memories consultant. Cover design, John Dorman, video journalist.


This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



Contents


Timing

FivePoints Akropolis?


The Documents in the Case


The Media Gives It a Try


CossycSystems Gives It a Try


Headlines and Headaches


Being (Somewhat) Human


What's Wrong Now?



Throw Forward


Anno Domine to the Common Era


Story Hour


Rendezvous


The Suffering of Trice


What is Okay?


What's Not Okay


Mr. and Mrs. Yu, Messages, and the Other


Night of The Girl


Ghostly Struggles?


Enchanting


Where Did They Go?


Past Things First






\ Timing /


CONTENTS

~~~~~~~~~~~

FivePoints Akropolis?


Jay felt she was crawling out sleep, out of a dream. Coming together in solution, bits and particles from the once dissolving periphery of a dream. An unfathomably explosive dream.


Five teenagers and a little kid appeared suddenly on the moldy stone cemetery wall. Through sparse traffic a passerby happened to video capture them on her device. Amazed, frightened, she turned away, then stepping onto the curb and heading toward the intersection, turned back. It was ghostly, transformative—frightened—she turned again and walked toward 3rd St.

Jayrai held hands with two of the others on the wall—lightly, but sure. The six had just happened to be here with her on the old stone wall earlier—moments before actually. And now they lined the wall, holding hands. Jay was specially invested in her Arm. The Arm CossycSystems had given her…well her uncle really. He'd paid for it. The Arm was going to make it through.

Now! …Her eyes were open. The first thing was hands and arms! Especially for Jayrai, perched with them on the rockhard wall beneath tall dark leafless trees of the cemetery. —Fingers—yes!! She laughed with delight. "Girls!"

Muscles flexing, each FivePoints 2017 gang member checked to make sure of their torsos, legs, hands and arms. Jayrai had loosed her hold on Quadri's small hand to flex her biomechanical fingers. All in working order! "Girls!"

From her perch on the wall between Quadri and Tu she looked next at the sidewalk. Concrete!! She'd been afraid it might be wooden—boardwalk. Jayrai laughed and looked up. There was the library! Across the street! She sniffed. Of course the sewer smell should be here, but not as bad as 1900 with its horse-pies. —She wasn't smelling it!? Wasn't sewer smell here the moment they transported? The quiet electric vehicles. —Oh That beautiful modern brick library! But… it's closed? —Wasn't it open a minute ago? Five minutes? Ten? …At least it's not wooden and full of violins and musical instruments. Just how much time had actually lapsed while they were in 1900 CE? Only minutes – had to be!

They were not acclimated to the RIT, the Ripple in Time. No one could be. They had crossed Times and maybe even multi-times—the multiverse?! but still, no getting used to it! Or? —could the Time passage itself go unnoticed? For instance, the first time: They had not noticed their arrival from Akropolis 2017 to Akropolis 1900 CE. They had thought they were right here—gaming and witting and surfing—until the wifi and pod phone signals awfully disappeared.

Now everyone was having a variation on Jay's experience. They looked at one another, making sure all the 2017 gang had made it through from 1900. Pomala the albino jumped down, leaned in and kissed Tu, who backed off a bit. All leapt off the stone wall of the cemetery and started yelling, congratulating the air. Pomala apologized to Tu amidst the otherwise general hugging and shouting. Tu was the stoic, not into hugging. "But Tu, Tu, you did it! You brought us back!! We're home from 1900 CE! Home! Our own FivePoints 2017!!"

Everyone screamed. "2017 Rah!!" Even Tu—not the usual for Tu.

He said, "Hacking Hadesthon software can be tricky. One glitch kept happening. Shooting Baltoid on Persesus29 fails the first five times, every time, then launches the P29 module gimmex.lld, causing bribell27.xee to gobble mega percentages of its CUP sickles—so, not mega, but you know what I mean. Nothing to do with the calculations, though. The real problem is trying to regard what you are doing as you are doing it. Observation of an event changes it if you are the one engaged in it. You see."

HB answered, "Like I said before, girl, sure we know all that dump stuff! We ain't 2017 for nothing." (Sarcasm.)

"I was paying attention, that's all," said Tu. "I still don't know how it worked ... exactly. I've got to study that."

"Got device?" asked Fabian.

Everyone checked pockets for phones and pods. Jayrai ripped open the Velcra™ on the right leg of her purple cargoes, and dug out the z-pod, kissing it. She searched it, swiping. It was on! "We're good to go!" She yelled. She screamed. "Good to go! I've got a zillion messages!" She did a double-take. "Wait a minute! I got NO messages! Can't be right! Can't be! You got messages, Pome? HB!!?

Blake Griffin, also known as HBBBAH or HB, had been sliding screen pages, one after the other. "Bogus; bogus; bogus; BOGUS!! BOGUS!!" He started to shiver and jerked his jacket on. He had been sweating a moment before in August heat of the 1900 neighborhood, but now a gust sent chills through him, autumn leaves flying. He said, "I need me some earmuffs, if this November keeps up much longer."

"If they'd fit," said Fabian. He looked pointedly at the big, black kinky broom-cut bristling down-center—from the top of HB's forehead to the nape of his neck behind. "You ever gonna cut that? Me either." Fabian had the shorter buzz-cut version, blond, but with lank hair on either side, like puppy-dog ears. His face sported a couple dimples and small blue tattoos.

"Are we back or not?" said Pomala, looking around at the cemetery back of them, the slow quiet street. She believed they were.

Quadri had picked up her hand again. He was shivering. He asked, "Where's the game?"

She looked down at him and squeezed his hand. We'll figure it out," she said. He continued gazing up at her, dark eyes searching just a bit in his olive complected face. Pomala's face might have been olive, descended from the Graks as it was. But she was albino, all white, except that she was now mostly tattooed blue. Her white hair and eyelashes were temporarily dyed blue, and her eyes were blue when the contacts were in. Otherwise they were pink. Her hair ascended like a glowing blue gas flame. Quadri's family descended of the Middle East, and yet their skin might have matched if she were not albino. Her skin, Pome liked to say, was descended from the polar bear but had lost all its fur.

"How we gon figure it out, white thang?" demanded HB. "Tu? You got anything figured out?"

Tu looked blankly at him a moment, black bang hanging straight above his delicate symmetrically aligned brows and eyes. Then he looked down at his device. It needed a charge.

"Here's an idea," suggested Fabian. "Let's actually walk around and ask somebody. You know, like with our mouths. These guys have ears, 'know?" He gestured to some passersby crossing quickly to the other side of Exchange Street. But none of these rapidly walking pedestrians paid attention, or so it seemed at first to Fabe. Then he looked close and thought he saw fear walking.

"They must have seen us twinkling back, shouting. A moment ago," he said.

"Right," said HBBBAH. "We just appeared. That's bound to scare anybody. I be some scared my own self if the Big Fello didn't pull that number on me, and save us all in Paddy's Pool Hall—1900."

"I don't remember that, yo," said Jay.

HB shrugged.

"What, we've had this conversation before?" She looked down at her z-pod.

"Somewhere or when, before." He puzzled briefly over it. "Get your jacket on, Quadri," he said.

Shivering Quad dropped Pomala's hand to comply and she stooped a bit to help him. All had worn their jackets tied round their waists in 1900 because for some reason it was August. For some reason it was 1900! August where the Hadesthon (evidently) had pitched them into the different era as they played the game here on the cemetery wall in November, 2017. Tu never worked the calculations to figure out precisely why it was August instead of November. There'd been too much going on and maybe not enough battery. Could it, maybe for instance, have had anything to do with The Hadesthon sIncing of Pluto and the Sun?

"Anyone getting hungry?" said HB. "A man gets empty crossing all that empty on his way through nowhere. Let's go to the SoupMission—make sure it's not Paddy's Pool Hall by some flippin' mistake. That'll tell us what's going on. Pastor Zettler's pretty knowledgeable about soSHmedia and stuff, though he got none his own self. He gets it from your sister, I think." This last was said to Pomala.

"Good," said Tu, "but start sending out now anyway—witter, flumbr, OOga+, all that. Just go fishing on the way."

Now they started toward the FivePoints intersection, still swiping, pushing buttons, surfing... and getting no witts from anybody.

"Look! There's plenty witts everywhere on all kinds of new happenings, especially, but no new witts for me?" said Jay over her bionic shoulder joint to those behind.

"Weird," said Fabian, looking at passersby as they walked down Exchange St. toward the soup kitchen. "Look up, you girls! Everyone's wearing dark clothes. Frowns. You'd say, What's up,?—HB?

HB was mumbling. "Waz up?..." Looking at his gizzzmo8, he wasn't paying attention.

"Pome, look," said Fabian. "Jay!"

The girls looked around.

"Tu?" asked Pomala.

"Tu?" said Jayrai. "What'd you do? All the traffic is almost gone. Everybody's scared and dark. Look, they won't look at us. This-Can't-Be-The-Same-FivePoints. Tu!! Look!" She raised and waggled her bionic hand.

"So, at least you got your arm," said HB, paying attention now. "Just no one wants to look at that arm of yours."

Not at the moment, but often its works were exposed—wires, tiny motors, metallic finger joints, electronics, all. She should wear the sheer polychloroprene covering from fingertips to shoulder beneath her jacket; but she loved the attention and triumph of the works. Some people thought it had been donated but was actually a gift from her uncle. She, however, liked the reputation of donation; she liked hanging out with the poor kids.

Quadri tried to show Pomala his device. "Look, look," he kept saying.

Pome kept looking about her, asking, "Tu?"

"Tu, is this not the neighborhood?!" said Jayrai. "Is this even FivePoints?" She was majorly ticked. "The Hadesthon has us on!"

"Again?" (HB)

Quadri wailed. "He says I'm a disgusting troll and he's gonna get the police!" He tried to show the 7qz to Pomala, to Fabian. Everybody stopped to circle him and look.

"Who says that?" asked HB. He grabbed the device.

"Look on the gizzzmo, HB," suggested Fabian as Quadri howled. "Check his witter too, Jayrai.

Quadri tried to get the 7qz back. "My brother, my brother" he cried. "My brother, my brother."

"That's your brother?" asked HB. "Why would Quadrangi do that?"

"That's just it," said Pome. "His brother would not do that. You know Quadrangi would never do that."

"Yo," said HB. "Some trolling hack's just done took over his account then. That's totally off! I don't think he'd let it happen."

"He's right, you know," said Jayrai looking at her z-pod. "Both you. Someone's pretending to be his brother, yo. That's the troll!"

"See," said Pome to Quadri. "It's going to be all right, Quadri. There's a mix-up and some bad person is pretending to be your brother. Your brother would never call you a disgusting troll, would he."

Quadri thought. "But he got mad once and said I was a terrorist."

"What were you doing, or what was going on when he said that?"

"I was tormenting him," Quadri admitted. "But I didn't do that before we left."

"You mean everything was OK before 1900 CE?... that would be just a little bit ago...."

"We were playing the game together," he said.

"That's right," said HB. "Quadrangi was playing the game with us, remember? Then the wifi was gone, and we were in horse-and-buggy FivePoints."

Jay said, "But that should only be a twinkle ago, like 15 minutes, not 115 years ago!"

Tu corrected her. "Hundred-seventeen."

They looked dumbly at him.

"That's all you got?" asked Fabian. "A verbal two year math correction? Don't we need an actual Time correction?"

Tu looked dumbly back.

Fabian turned and started toward the intersection of FivePoints. "The SoupMission! Pastor Zettler! Maybe Nana's helping out tonight," he added hopefully. "If this is FivePoints, Pastor Zettler's got no wifi, she's got no gizzzmo8 but she's got food!"

"See," said Pomala. "Soup. It's gonna be all right, Quad! "We'll be doing homework before you know it."

"Homework!" said HB with distaste. "It better not be history!" He tried to think about today's assignments. "Oh sht!"

"No. Soup!" said Jay, waggling her bionic arm like she does when showing off or nervous. Encased now in transparency, its glimmery wires and circuitry and otherwise hidden electronics would have reassured Quad. He thought, Yes, soup!

But, almost at the soup kitchen on the intersection, and just crossing Third St.—the fifth point at FivePoints—Fabian saw someone steady her pad in the direction of Jayrai, and then hurry up Third. Whoever—is either angry or scared!


"OMH!! Comes a shout from one of the long tables as they enter. The place is crowded more than usual. Screaming erupts, a gust of activity and chaotic rumbling as several chairs scrape back and some fall over. The smell is all chicken soup, onions and thyme, which the gang almost don't notice for the turmoil. But right off they see more kids, teenagers, more FivePoints gang than usual in the soup kitchen. Someone was banging on the kitchen wall, Pastor Zettler putting a hand on his shoulder, the man jumped back startled and pushed him away.

Shouting, Quadrangi stood. "Quadri! It was you!! Oh my Hal-La!! Quadri! Fabian! Jayrai! What happened! You mean it was really him? Where you been?!"

What's the big deal? They can't know we were in 1900 for, what, ten minutes of 2017's time? Fabian glanced at the counter—where the soup was being served—in time to see his grandma go stiffly to her knees on the filthy floor. He knew what she was doing. But why?

Quadrangi threaded through tables, jumped some overturned chairs and grabbed up his little brother. "What happened?" Then he looked at the little boy in his arms and said, "You shrunk! Wait, you're the same, did you just get little again?"

Quadri kissed his brother's cheek. "No!" He shouted. "You got big!"

At that moment FivePoints 2017 didn't give toot what anybody looked like. Home! Ho! Crowding, hugging and shouting, the soup joint jumping and five-highing and/ or ripping:


"Yo-yo!

Y'know!

No mo slo-mo!

No that-n-this!

No fishbone-ham-bone-pig-bone-pork-bone!

CHICKEN SOUP BONE!!"


Pastor Zettler threaded his way through the crowd with Fabe's grandmother, her arm tucked in his. They held hands fast, the Pastor steadying her, but people noticed and gave way for them.

Many friends, a few friendemies and some plain enemies: 2017 looked over people's heads trying to find special someones. But so far the only "specials" were Quadri's brother and Fabian's grandmother. And Pastor Zettler. He shook hands all round in that special way, leftover from old-time 1960's, clasping the hand and forearm of each in turn. He was still an authoritative man, more robust by far than was Fabian's grandmother. Despite the '60's handshake, his hair was short and thick—salt-and-pepper. To 2017 the handshake was old and new at the same time. It was a relief to be "in his hands" again. But he did not stop to talk to them.

The Pastor stepped aside so Fabian could hug his grandmother, and then began speaking to the noisy crowd. Pastor's immigrant roots had been of great, even healing help in the neighborhood. Their descendent now lifted his hands and, speaking in a firm voice, urged them all. "Sit down everyone. Sit back down please and eat the good soup prepared by the brothers and sisters. Please. Please everybody, give our friends a chance to rest, and to eat as well. Afterward we will have the service and listen to what they have to tell us, if they will."

He spared a glance toward them, gauging, calm; and then went on. "Make a seat for each, please give them room either on benches or at smaller tables. Don't worry. If they're willing, you shall hear them, and the service will not be quite as usual... which I know will be a relief to many!"

This brought a laugh as people settled back into their places and began to eat once more. More soup was coming from the kitchen, great kettles carried out with strong arms of various hue, and placed on boards upon the countertop, an attempt to do the antique "sideboard" (as it was called by older folks) no harm.

Scattered among the friends they'd left behind, FivePoints 2017 sat down. They all looked … somehow these friends looked … different. Distorted. Bigger. Scary … are we in the right universe? But we know them! They know us!

Yet now, for the first time ever they were waited on. Bowls of soup and plates with rolls and real butter were set before them, glasses of milk and bottles of water. Some kids passed their own sodas and colas hand-over-hand to the new arrivals, and everybody was talking at once. Fabian sat on a bench with friends but Nana was by his side. She could not take her gaze off him as others peppered him with questions, boys and girls his own age or a bit older. He joked a lot but said nothing exactly true amid all the obvious satiric exaggerated excuses he was giving for their "absence" —of which absence Fabian himself could make not a bit of sense: It seemed some kids thought he'd been gone two years! At which he made a giant guffaw. But he wondered. People did not look as he remembered—from earlier today? Yesterday...? He felt strange… and creepily younger.

"I knew you'd be back," said his grandmother in a low bumpy alto. "I mean, hoped." She talked with a bit more gravel in her voice than he remembered from—yesterday? —When she'd got him up for school this morning? "I just didn't think you'd look exactly like—well, like you do, she said." She seemed more nervous than before.

He had bent his head to her but now sat up, looking down at her. She looked much the same to him.... Maybe just a bit more worn. Tired? "Are you tired?" he asked. She didn't seem to hear him. Just kept looking at him, her eyes a bit droopy, crows feet surrounding them, wrinkles on her forehead—even on the bridge of her nose between wire rims of her 60's-style glasses. The prescription made them bigger, clearer. He did not expect her to hear—it was just too noisy, but he put an arm around and squeezed her, smiling.

Was it just Jay's imagination or did everything look twice as decrepit as it did yesterday? Everything in this long room had, of course, looked pretty grand and new when it was Paddy's Pool Hall and Saloon. In 1900 it had a shiny white tin ceiling, patterned in crosses. New bar, tables, chairs, gleaming brass accoutrement, spittoons. In 2017 at least the floors were generally swept. She looked up. Dim cobwebby tin ceiling patterned with crosses. Could do with a dusting. Are these people really the same—same friends, friendemies? She was creeping-out. Someone, a couple someones spoke to her and she brought herself back. Yeah. Home.

"Where's Bo?" She asked Trice, sitting across from her. She had to lean in to hear the answer. But that look on Trice's face. What is that? Something is wrong.... something. She stopped eating and fixed her gaze on her friend. "Where do you mean?" Jayrai asked. "What do you mean?"

Trice did not seem to want to say, exactly. Trice. Trice? Is this even FivePoints? How can there be a different version of FivePoints?

At last Trice stood up, her long brown hair hanging as she bent to step out over the bench. Trice, skinny as ever if taller, came around the long end of the table and stooped to Jayrai's ear. "He was in People's, but now he's in jail. They thought he did you in. —Your people thought, after I told them about Bo. I had to tell them about Bo, the police. Didn't you know?"


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