10/01 Direct Link
Until the world exploded from me in a warm gush of opalescent suspension fluid, all I could remember was excruciatingly rapid movement and a realm of bizarre dreams. The explosion bore a soft tang of familiarity, but lacked immediate pain.

The viscous oil broke forth and I followed it. The liquid hit a gray floor and refracted in every direction. My body did not get as far. A wrenching agony radiated from multiple points on my body as I reached the limit of an invisible tether and bounced forward again. My body swayed in nauseous suspension and then... stilled.

10/02 Direct Link
The swaying stilled, but the sickly sweet suspension fluid fled my body in slick streams. The motion reminded me of the possibility of my own mobility. With effort I lifted my head and felt dull pain ease from just above the back of my neck.

I was suspended above the floor by several thick cables. I couldn't tell where they began though they seemed to end at several aching points on my body. I could see them buried in my hands and elbows, but I could only feel the rest of them.

Their presence did not feel alien.

10/03 Direct Link
In fact, little about the situation seemed unfamiliar at all. Except, I didn't understand the reality of it. The crisp hard edge of perception was unfamiliar in the setting. Memories of velocity, burning rubber, rarefied friction from air on plastic skin were real. This other skin, the flesh and bone, was more of a dream.

The cords I dangled from, like a puppet on strings, were my attachment to the womb I was most familiar with. If the slightly glittering liquid was my amniotic fluid and I had fallen from the womb, it was time to cut the cord.

10/04 Direct Link
The cords buried in my palms were the easiest to study. On closer inspection I saw a glint of bright metal where the cord met my palm. It did not meet my flesh, but a scarred ring of clear plastic.

The cords ended in plugs. The plugs were inserted into ports. The ports, now those were what lay beneath my skin.

My weight had not unplugged me when I fell from a nebulous 'above'. Was it due to my angle of descent? I yanked my left hand down, hard, in the direction I believed the plug would point.

10/05 Direct Link
The plug popped from my hand and danced in the air at the end of its cord. Once released, my hand fell down, completing the arrested arc that was anchored at my shoulder.

Pleased with my success, I yanked my other hand free. For a moment, I let both hands dangle down; only the thumbs pointed to the wet floor. Then I reached one free hand to the back of my neck.

Fingers quested and found the plug at the base of my skull. This connection was more frightening; it felt vital. But freedom is greater than fear.

10/06 Direct Link
Quick and sudden nausea followed by gagging. The suspension fluid of before was propelled forward this time from mouth and throat. The sudden new stream was not from my stomach, but other, larger, organs. My lungs.

It was disconcerting, alien, but maddeningly familiar just like everything else! As I hung, spasms shook my body, warm tears sprung to my eyes. But the repercussions from pulling the vital plug were not finished. With my head and arms hanging down and my body convulsing, I unleashed a chain reaction. A series of popping noises heralded a jerky descent to the floor.

10/07 Direct Link
My head hit the floor and slid backwards. My spine then unwound along the slippery ground. I continued to gag and choke as air replaced fluid in my lungs. Attempts to turn over on my stomach were hampered by my feet; still attached. I jerked them free with angry motions and sent the cables flying.

At length the spasms calmed and breath came at a natural, if wheezy, pace. I lay a moment, cheek pressed to the cold floor, recuperating, but couldn't stay still for long. I skittered into an unsteady crouch and stared up at my former womb.

10/08 Direct Link
In shape the container resembled a flower before bloom, except it was colorful on the outside rather than inside. Predominantly white, it swam with abstract red, orange, and gray bolts and flattened curls. It looked fast. The interior was black and unlit; I couldn't see where the cables led. They came down in a single group of differing dripping lengths.

Fluid was dripping from all my jutting, awkward angles, including cold-hardened nipples. I felt like nothing but elbows, knees, and hard plastic ports. Standing was difficult; the wet floor in combination with my foot-ports made balance difficult.

10/09 Direct Link
Except for the slick floor, the room was comfortable. Red metal lockers and drawers lined one wall. Another wall was taken up by deep steel sinks. There was a sonic cleaner in a corner. Racks of uncut tires framed either side of an unlit passage that led to... one of twenty-seven realities, but I didn't know which one.

Past the two orange pneumatic lifts and roll-away computer stations, was a set of double sliding glass doors. Set into the wall at shoulder height beside the glass was a touchscreen panel. I could use it to call someone.

10/10 Direct Link
It was easiest to slide my feet forward in a shuffle through the pool of suspension fluid on the way to the panel. The doors didn't open at my presence, but the touchscreen glowed faintly to life. I placed my right hand on the screen.

Text appeared: Good morning, Jasmine. What would you like to do?

The screen knew me. Good. I probably knew the screen, too, but I didn't. "Make," I rasped terribly, "a call."

Who would you like to call?

Somebody with clothes? A hospital? Emergency?

"I'm not sure..."

10/11 Direct Link
Who would you like to call? The line repeated.

"Whoever I call most."

It is illegal to log calls.

No thoughts spared me from an empty head; even the panel was more expressive than I. Who to call?

Then, tentatively... a feeling bloomed warm in my chest. A vague-featured face came to my mind. From the realm of dreams came a name.

"Joel. I would like to call Joel." The name rang golden in my ears.

Joel who?

My heart sank as my mind emptied again.

10/12 Direct Link
How could I forget someone like that? Somebody that made my body warm despite cold and nakedness?

"Joel," I insisted.

What is Joel's surname?

"I don't know! Start from the top and I'll work my way down!"

I'm sorry, I don't understand your request.

Feelings of rage bubbled up from my chest; I beat my fist on the panel in my frustration. How could I not know this name? I didn't even know my own name until the computer gave it to me. For that matter, why was I there alone?

10/13 Direct Link
My forehead came to rest on the wall. My fist slipped down to my side.

"A... c-cab," I suggested in defeat, "call me a cab."

I pushed back from the wall slightly to read the touchscreen's response.

Please select a cab company from the list.

I lifted my hand again and touched the screen without reading the choices. It was more important to find clothes.

Skirting the edge of the suspension fluid, I made my way to the lockers. They were locked, but my fingers knew the codes even if I didn't.

10/14 Direct Link
The lockers were all the same; polished to a high gloss finish. Oil and other fluids would come off them easily. Solvents, like brake fluid, would be another story.

It was funny, I didn't know the combination to the locks, but my fingers flew over the code. It popped open on the first try. Inside were matching coveralls, boots, and hooded rain jacket. I pulled the clothes out and draped them across a lift.

I was getting ahead of myself. I needed to clean myself up. The steel wash basins were big enough and they even had hoses.

10/15 Direct Link
The steel basins were colder than I had imagined. Climbing in was no easy feat; the suspension fluid did not dry and it was slippery on the steel. The water was cold, too, but warmed slightly. Scrubbing it out of my hair wasn't difficult; wet, it wasn't longer than my shoulders. A few dark strands came off in my hands which meant I was... well, brunette.

I tried not to stare at or touch the ports rooted in my body, but scrubbed efficiently. I couldn't find proper towels, so I used polishing chami. Their smell made me feel complete.

10/16 Direct Link
The coveralls and jacket were loose, but the boots fit remarkably well. I fiddled with the jacket's zipper as I headed for the doors again. They didn't open despite my direct advance, but when I neared them my right hand swerved out automatically and double-tapped the touch screen.

The doors opened quietly and I walked through.

My body seemed to do quite well on autopilot. A snort of amusement echoed in the dim hallways as I contemplated walking with my eyes closed. The halls were broad and the ceilings high; it felt like a very large structure.

10/17 Direct Link
I was hyper aware of the passage of time. Walking through the spacious passage ways in what had to be an immense structure took too long. I began to run. No thoughts about left or right came to mind as I pelted through halls and down stairs.

At long last I saw brighter white lights and tall glass windows. I entered a huge atrium that ran along the building's perimeter. The glass windows shot up more than thirty meters and housed hundreds of double door entries along the ground. Each doorway was lit with a glowing red EXIT sign.

10/18 Direct Link
The touchscreen had bade me 'Good morning', but it was dark outside. I had no idea what time it was nor did I think to look for a clock. In fact, I didn't do much thinking at all.

I practically flew to the glass double doors. These did not open for me and there were no panels to double-tap. The glass and the metal framing of the doors were cool against my body as I strained against it.

I scrambled around looking for door touchscreens, but found nothing. Then, my eyes caught on a heavy trash receptacle.

10/19 Direct Link
I had envisioned myself wrenching the refuse bin up and bulleting it through the glass and metal doors. No sooner had the thought come to mind before I acted on it. Even empty, it took far more effort than I had supposed. I barely lifted it. Slinging it was a desperately more pathetic affair.

Still, it hit hard and the sound was terrific. The glass vibrated with the hit, but there wasn't so much as a scratch on the glass, though the metal was scuffed. A snarl was strangled as I watched the can bounce past an emergency exit.

10/20 Direct Link
It took more strength than I expected, but I pulled up the red rubber-coated bar that unlocked the emergency exit. From there it was easy to roll the door back along well-lubricated runners.

An annoying alarm began before the door was completely open, but I hardly noticed. As the door opened wind hit my body and filled me with motion. I stepped outside and flung my arms out wide. It felt like I was flying down a straight away, but I wasn't moving.

Laughing, I remembered Joel and the taxi and I began again to run.

10/21 Direct Link
It was dark and chill outside. The air smelled strangely fantastical; wet asphalt and something else. The building I left was indeed vast and surrounded with trees. Far ahead, beyond slick lanes, I could see the occasional moving lights from other vehicles.

I didn't avoid puddles as I pelted forward; my hair was wet anyway. It was fun to splash through them, my boots created fleeting crowns with every impact. I knew crowns: I had worn one.

A blaring horn sounded, adding to the siren bleating inside the building behind me. A car was approaching from the streets.

10/22 Direct Link
I didn't know the car's model, but the glowing sign on top designated it a taxi. Feet touching lightly, I ran up to greet it head on. It slowed immediately but I did not until the last moment.

I intended to kick out into a slide, but the boots had such strong grip that my feet stopped abruptly. My body continued on without them. I scrambled to catch my balance, but I ended up hitting the car's hood anyway.

My body sprawled against the battery-warmed hood and slid forward until my cheek pressed against the wind shield.

10/23 Direct Link
The driver looked at me through the glass, his eyes wide and lips tightly compressed. Feeling foolish and unhurt I grinned at him which likely looked silly with my cheek pressed against the window.

"Hello," I said, "are you here for me?"

He stared at me for a long moment before finding a reply. "Jasmine Molina?"

Familiar, but not quite right that Molina part. "That's me. Can I get in?"

He touched a button and the right rear door opened. "Are you hurt?"

"Not a bit." I slid down the hood and back to earth.

10/24 Direct Link
The driver stared at me as I rounded the vehicle to the open passenger door. His expression hardly changed, but his lips kept relaxing and compressing again as if he wanted to say something.

The interior of the car was warm and dry. The dark upholstery was soft under my hands and gave under my weight when I clambered in. I found I preferred the warmth of the car, but not being able to control it was difficult. It felt slow.

"Where to, Mrs. Molina?"


"Take me to Joel," I replied.

10/25 Direct Link
"Joel?" The driver asked. "You know, Ma'am, I'm a fan, but I'm not the paparazzi. I don't know where you live."

I'm famous... and I'm married. It wasn't a bad thought, but it worried me a little. Famous and with some kind of bizarre memory loss? Famous and left all alone?

I stared at the back of the front passenger seat as if it would provide me all the answers. It wasn't entirely useless; there was a screen and old-style keypad in the seat back.

I closed my eyes and touched the screen.

10/26 Direct Link
As I had hoped, my fingers seemed to know more than my brain. With a series of taps on the keypad, the driver had an address. I took note of it and found that it seemed vaguely familiar.

"Thank you, Ma'am," the driver said. I met his eyes in the rear view mirror. "You feeling okay? Been a real long time since I had you in the cab."

"I'm good," I replied, trying to hide my mystification. He didn't seem familiar. "I'm sorry, I'm having a hard time placing your face. When's the last time we met?"

10/27 Direct Link
The car lurched forward, bring me a frown. It was obviously a vehicle inferior to anything I had ever experienced. The driver wasn't skilled at all.

"Been since you... Well." He looked forward as he turned the car around. "Since you got sick."

Sick. That kicked loose a dream or a memory. I had been sick, but it wasn't physical. It had caused confusion and there had been excruciating pain. But, the pain had been physical, even though there were no physical injuries. Maybe I was sick again. I was definitely confused, even if I wasn't hurting.

10/28 Direct Link
I didn't say anything more to the driver. There didn't seem to be any safe topics. I focused on the drive instead; I would need to know my way around.

On the way out of the parking lot, I saw a huge sign with the building's name: Estrella Raceway. The name sounded more authentic than my own.

It was a long, slow, drive. We went through sparsely populated suburbs, the dim glitter of a sleeping city, back into suburbs and their wooded hills. I sighed in relief when we finally pulled up to gated apartment complex.

10/29 Direct Link
There were two gates and between them was a small glass sentry house. As the car pulled up to the entry gate, an armed woman stepped out.

I didn't touch anything, but the passenger window behind the driver rolled down. I leaned forward toward the sentry outside the door. "Hello."

A bright smile transformed the woman's formerly serious face. "Jasmine! Hey! You're back early. Do you want me to send somebody to help with your gear?"

I shook my head. "No, somebody'll bring it later."

"Okay," she nodded, "well, go get some sleep, rock star."

10/30 Direct Link
The gate rattled back and the cab drove me up to the condos. As before, the vehicle's door opened automatically when we arrived. I pulled myself out and walked around the front of the vehicle to the driver. "You need anything else from me?"

He shook his head. "No, money's already come from your account."

I nodded, "Okay, well, thanks."

I turned and walked to the building's entrance, leaving the cab and driver behind. The touchscreen let me in without question. On instinct, I ran up the stairs to the third floor and stopped before apartment 312.

10/31 Direct Link
I tapped the touchscreen outside the door. I heard tumblers fall back and the door creaked open slightly. My head full of motion; I pushed forward and was immediately enveloped in the scent of home.

My heart beat wildly as I moved through the apartment. I saw nothing, I just moved, my feet leading me unerringly to my destination. I didn't stop when I reached the bedroom. Nor when I saw him sleeping in our bed. Nothing could stop me. This was home. He was home.

He roused at the sound of my heavy boots and looked up.