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"Sages of Time" - The sad, sad prequel to "The CPA Revolution"... but not if our protagonists can help it...


            Yes... it's finally here. The 'new novella' or 'prequel to "The CPA Revolution"' that I have talked so much about... it's finally done... well, at least the first part is. You'll probably like it, though I hope you'll be a little jarred when you finish. And this thing is a monster... 149K!! That's equal to Parts One and Two of "The CPA Revolution" put together.
            This story has been through a LOT of incarnations... and I'm not going to bore you with any more details because you'll just press Page Down or something anyway... =) But they were simpler stories, and although they would have stood on their own, I didn't want to just backpedal from "The CPA Revolution"'s stellar action-comedy plot. This desire, combined with some newer artistic influences I have encountered (which will be duly explained in the Afterword), fueled what is now "Sages of Time".
            And as for being a prequel... well, that's only half-true now. There were alarmingly few 'hooks' between the two stories that I could exploit, and the TSF-related stuff became a minor subplot, to be explored in Part Two along with major changes in the story's spirit. But we'll see, I guess...
            Oh, and before you begin reading, I should probably show you the general structure because I am compelled to do so even though I know for certain that no one is interested. (This is also the Appendix's reason for existence...)

Essay 20:
Foreword - This section of this document, letting people know a bit about the story's development before diving in.
Prologue - Introduces the storytellers, a bit of foreshadowing, other stuff...
Part One: A Dramatis Personae of Sorts - Very cerebral. Told primarily by Lauren Weir. Ridiculously huge... needed to be split in two.

Essay ??:
Threshold I - Some comments on Part One and some notes about Part Two.
Synopsis - What did you do?! Fall asleep?! Argghh... =)
Part Two: The New Age - Fairly linear. Told primarily by Will Matheson. (Aren't all of these told by me already?! This should get weird!) Most 'hooks' to "The CPA Revolution" and my first ideas for the story manifest themselves here.

Essay ??:
Threshold II - Some comments on Part Two and some notes about Part Three.
Synopsis - Not again?! Do you enjoy just skimming through and hassling me to explain everything?! Well, you don't get that satisfaction this time! =)
Part Three: Project Nova One - Incredibly cerebral. And the secrets are wrapped up tighter than mummies...

Essay ??:
Threshold III - Some comments on Part Three and some notes about Part Four.
Synopsis - Next you'll want me to just tell you the ending scene so you can save yourself the trouble of reading anything. Well, I won't! =)
Part Four: Return to Grace OR Lots of Stuff Gets Blowed up Real Good - Linear again. And it goes without saying that the $@%# has hit the fan for all the characters, too...
Epilogue - Poignant, very poignant...
Afterword - A complete dissection of the whole novella, lots of things are explained and/or accounted for. Interestingly enough, that's my favorite part to write!
Appendix - I like to draw stuff too... this is where you can find all kinds of drawings that weren't incorporated into the novella, and where you can learn more about CPA2 (if you even want to...).

            Anyway, now that I've really confused you, I guess you can read the story. And since Part Two and so on have only been conceptualized in my head as I write this, it's not too late for new ideas to jump in or for people to demand they be put in it (although all the major plot points are [quite literally, now that I think of Part One's ending...] carved in stone). And when you're finished, let me know what you think! (I didn't put any exclusive links down at the bottom of the second document so as not to accidentally spoil anything for you... just trust me, okay?) Have fun!


            It was fall.
            It was overcast.
            He got off of his bicycle and walked past the blue sign into the oblivion of trees. He stumbled a bit at the outset, whether it was due to his stiff gait or loose twigs underfoot, he did not know. But he did know one thing: If things kept going the way they were, he would fall into deep despair... perhaps never to rise again. And would the rest sink with me? Or do I overestimate my own importance? Or do I wallow in self-pity so much... you idiot! Snap out of it! You're just a jerk, you know that?! No one deserves to go to hell except you, you freak of nature! Going here was a last-ditch attempt on his part to cheer up, but deep down inside he knew the effort was futile. Or maybe not futile, maybe I'm such a jerk I don't deserve to... oh shut the hell up! The world doesn't revolve around you, you idiot! Why do you even think it does for those fractions of seconds?! You're just a stupid jerk! Go! Dive off the damn rock! Hit your head! Who's gonna care, you jerk?! Among other things, he hoped that he would not stumble upon his peers smoking various substances in this area, if he did, he'd get the living crap beat out of him.
            There were a lot of things to think about.
            At length, he picked his way through the maze of trees, down a steep hill, and finally out into the open again.
           Magnificent. You could see so much from these rocks. He had only been here once before, and that was a long time ago, back before he would have been mortified to be seen in public by his peers. You jerk. It's not like anyone would come around to see a little bastard like you, especially after what happened...
            He sat himself down on top of the highest rock, got out his binoculars, and started searching the long horizon. He zoomed in on the monumental spires that once held the Angus L. MacDonald Bridge. He zoomed in on the resulting traffic tie-ups surrounding the A. Murray MacKay Bridge. He eyed the magnificent architecture on Purdy's Wharf. He heard the rustling and snapping of leaves and twigs behind him.
           Rustling? Snapping? Oh no! He dived for whatever cover he could find.
            "Will? I know you're here... where ARE you?"
           Good! She doesn't see me yet!
            "Will! I know you're here... I'm a good stalker when I need to be!" She giggled. "C'mon out, don't you want to talk to me?"
            "Oh, but you need to talk to me, I think. Especially after all that happened at CPA..."
            "AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW?!?!", Will shouted harshly.
            "Ok... ok... I get it. But I still think we should talk about it."
            "And just what is that, Miss Weir?!", Will bit back.
            "I don't know... but I'm worried about you..."
            A wave of guilt crashed into Will, and he immediately felt awful about what he said... but what did I do? I don't understand... arggh... "I'm sorry, Lauren...", he uttered.
            "I guess that's okay..."
           What happened to her normal personality? Something's wrong! "Uh... if you want to talk..."
            "Uh... okay..."
            Will got up from his ill-conceived hiding place and went back to sitting on the rock. Lauren tentatively sat down nearby.
            "You want me to start?"
            "You might as well... all I know about is this bloody CPA2 business..." Will cast an arm in the direction of the Rocky Lake area.
            "Well, okay..."

Part One: A Dramatis Personae of Sorts

            "There! It's done!"
            "Great work Lori! What do you call it?", asked Mr. Lincoln.
            "I don't know, now that I think about it..."
            "What does it do?"
            "Lori thought for a moment so that she could compose her words carefully. "It... well, basically it reads minds and it can also imprint thoughts. I have this little feature that makes it seem like someone you know is sending messages to you telepathically... anyway, I'm really proud of it. It's really rather useful." Lori pushed a button on the device marked 'MACRO 1'.
            "Uh... Sure, Mr. Whitman...", Mr. Lincoln muttered. "Great work, Lori."

            "Ok, here's the master. Go, go, we're late already!", said Tyson H. to Colin MacDonald. Colin grabbed the 8mm cassette from Tyson and ran down the walk to his waiting Cherokee.

            In an east-coast metropolis, in a large town, up a long, hilly street, among trees near the highest point for several miles around, stood a brick building.
            It was three stories tall and shaped akin to a cube. But it wasn't the cube that was so special, it was what it contained... lots and lots and lots and lots of cute girls. Plus, it was a school, so the fact that there were lots of cute girls was made better because these were girls you could drool over AND interact with, unlike, say, the Spice Girls. Of course, if a girl walked in dressed as Baby Spice she would be instantly given a lifelong reputation as a wee bit of a skank, but aside from those limitations things were always... interesting on those fronts.
            Now it may be possible that the females of the building liked the boys... but according to a reliable source1 "there just aren't enough likable guys and most of them have girlfriends.".
            But that was hardly a concern of the timid teenage male looking down upon the solarium from above, sighing audibly in his mental angst over a socialistic teenage female down below. Hopeless.
1 An ICQ "Incoming Message" (not her real name)

            The rain beat down on Colin's windshield with an uncharacteristic sharpness, hampering visibility as he floored his Jeep down Highway 102.
           C'mon, c'mon...
            He managed to coax even more speed out of his brand-new sports-utility than the manufacturers ever thought possible. But something was about to go wrong...

* * *

            "What went wrong?", interjected Will when Lauren trailed off.
            "I... I don't know."
            "But how did you know something went wrong?"
            "Well, the witnesses say..."

* * *

            Colin was concentrating on his driving (not the speedometer) when a giant orange mass appeared out of nowhere and... absorbed the Jeep.
            "Oh... shit!!", he shouted.

            People searched for days, but not even a trace of Colin could be found. After several weeks, most people (with the exception of his close friends and relatives) gave up any hope of ever seeing him again. But CPA was now without a vice-president, and given the relative lateness of the year to appoint a successor, Jeremy Strong was asked to take the position, shattering the faint hopes of Jill Matthews, Kendra Bernard, and Will Matheson. Now he had three votes on the council (as president he had a 'tie-breaker vote'), but there was no need for him to use this fringe benefit for the time being...

Three weeks later...

            "How was Florida, Lori?", asked Angela after disengaging from an obligatory but obviously joyful embrace with her friend.
            "Oh, it was... great. I won!"
            "You won the Science Fair?!", gasped Angela.
            "Yep! It was great! You should've been there! The judges told me that my Psi-trans was the best thing they've ever seen!"
            "That's great!"
            "Oh, let's go home. I'm tired."
            With that, they left the Halifax International Airport.

To: All staff
From: Ray Whitman, Principal
Re: Fall River High

            The latest news is that the establishing of Fall River High is (suprise!) far behind schedule and as a result it will not be open for enrollment for the 99-00 school year.
            However, as an impractical alternative, the Board has proposed an 'upgrade' to CPA so that it will meet the 2000 standards by 2005 or so. Clearly, this is undesirable to most parties for many reasons, namely because there are new speculations of our campus having faulty roof joists and, worse, ceiling tiles practically made of asbestos.
            Let's cross our fingers and keep smiling: Maybe the Generous Board will listen to us and accelerate the Fall River High Project! And maybe trained llamas will someday handle all our paperwork!

Keep Smiling,
- Ray Whitman

            "Theodore?"2, asked Laura Johnson.
            "Oh... um, what?", he replied with a heavy air of distraction.
            "You've been spending your lunch hours staring out this window for the last three weeks."
            Theodore pulled himself away from the window and turned his attention to Laura. "I guess so..."
            Theodore beckoned Laura to the window and pointed at a figure below. "Her.", he said quietly.
            "Oh... I understand. You... think this is healthy?", she asked with concern.
            Theodore thought for a moment. "No... of course not. I... just..."
            "I think you should go talk to her."
            "Oh, but I've tried. Lots."
            "Try again. Besides, if you keep this up, she'll freak out."
            "Oh... okay."
            There was something profound about that moment... it was different from your usual prodding of others to bury their butterflies and go for the gusto, and both of them understood that.
            "Go... I have a good feeling about her, Theodore."
            "So do I... I'm just... drawn to her."
            "Always good to be honest with yourself. Now go, go!", Laura said with a sincere smile.
            Theodore hesitantly broke away, then started down the stairs.
2 I usually leave notes to the end, but something needs to be said right now: "Theodore", unlike virtually every other character, does not have a real-life counterpart. Any real Theodore's at CPA can rest easy.

            Stairs exist to be trod upon... at least that's what everyone would have us believe. The stairs themselves think they're meant to convey people with their inner power... like escalators.
            Ask any escalator about this and he or she (the females tend to run faster and break down less) will tell you that the stairs are full of hooey because escalators are supposed to let people be carried straight up and down (and what do you expect to hear from a stairwell?!)... like elevators.
            The stairs didn't find out how wrong they were because CPA had no escalators or elevators... at that time.

            Greg Baker and Jenni Leonard quietly opened the third floor doorway to the Ramp and snuck in. Now if this was Will Matheson and Jenni Leonard, Will would have said 'Can't you read?! It says "Strictly Out of Bounds to all Students"!'. And then he would have thought the better of it and happily gone in with Jenni.
            But this guy, Greg, was not Will.
            They went in feeling quite mischievous. Jenni tried to stifle her giggling long enough so that Greg could shut the door.
            "Did you bring it?", Greg asked his partner-in-crime. Jenni nodded and handed him the skateboard she was holding behind her back.
            "The principal never frisked me!", she exclaimed.
            Greg rolled his eyes and set down the skateboard.
            "You're actually going to do this?"
            "Of course!" He oriented the board to point down the ramp, then hopped on. "Just give me a gentle push!"
            Jenni smiled and shoved him away as hard as she could.
            "That... wasn't... funny..." came his rapidly fading shouts as he barreled down the Ramp, still managing to handle the U-turns. Jenni just giggled.

            Greg wasn't having a hard time of it, actually. He handled the first few U-turns with ease... just one of the many things that came natural to him. At length, he breezed by the second floor exit.

            Lauren, uncharacteristically quickly, found Tyson H..
            "Tyson, do you know when the Video Yearbook will be finished?", she accused.
            Tyson stared at her for a second or two, then made a run for it. Lauren gave chase.

            Ramps aren't much like stairs, escalators, or elevators. They have a more open attitude as to who or what uses them and how. But one thing is for certain. They do not like being skateboarded on.

            "Ray?", shouted Ms. Beazley.
            "What is it, Fran?", Mr. Whitman replied.
            "Mr. Mead just paged us. He says that he saw Tyson H. racing past his door shouting 'Yeagghh!!', followed by Lauren Weir screaming 'Get back here!!'."
            "Hmmph. Must be the Idiot Squad. I'll send Elwin up. Elwin?"
            Mr. LeRoux emerged from the confines of his office looking quite scared. "Y-y-yes?", he stammered.
            "Oh, what's wrong with you?", asked Ms. Beazley with obvious disdain.
            "M-m-my o-office is... is t-t-too small!", shrieked the vice-principal. "The walls are closing in on me!" He grabbed Mr. Whitman by his sport coat and shook him. "Get me a bigger office!", he begged.
            Mr. Whitman rolled his eyes and continued. "Go up to the second floor, we think that there may be some kids tearing around the halls up there."
            Mr. LeRoux regained his composure. "<Ahem>... I agree. The last thing we need now is for everyone to think that this is Joke Around Day."
            The comm panel beeped again. Ms. Beazley strolled up and pushed a button. "Yes, Mr. MacGillvary? ... Of course. ... Right away. Office out." She turned to face the administrators. "They're on the third floor now.", she told them.
            At that moment, Mr. LeRoux thought he heard saw out of the corner of his eye (though he is unsure to this very day) the Ramp doors blasting open to make way for someone, in the loosest sense of the word, 'ride' a skateboard straight through the lobby, screaming and flailing his arms in a wild, erratic fashion, ultimately crashing again through the main entry... a most puzzling event.
           Nah... he dismissed. "I'm on my way."

            As those of you who own a relatively new GM vehicle and have read the Owner's Manual know, the basic reason as to why people get injured in moving object or vehicle accidents is that when something stops suddenly, the occupants of that something keep going:

1. Dummy on chair approaches obstacle.2. Chair stops at obstacle, dummy is airborne.3. Dummy impacts with test wall.

            So does Greg:

1. Greg crashes through entranceway on skateboard.2. Greg approaches steep curb between Concrete Yard and Parking Lot.3. Skateboard stops, Greg flies through the air.4. Greg approaches 'Doritos' truck... airborne.5. A Greg-shaped hole in the box of the truck.6. Greg passes a lamppost.7. Greg approaches Josh's car...8. Greg departs Josh's car, he has taken the door with him.9. Greg approaches an angered Josh.(Withdrawn by RSACi ... Violence - 5)(Withdrawn by RSACi ... Violence - 6)(Withdrawn by RSACi ... Violence - 7 ... Language - 4)

            Josh's fists are of course, stronger than Greg's skull so the end result is: Greg needs medical attention.

* * *

            "Pfft! Ha-ha! That would have been something to see!", laughed Will.
            "He-he... I know!", laughed Lauren.
            "What... ha-ha... what happened with you and Tyson?"
            "Oh, I caught him eventually..."

* * *

            Lauren, with her last ounce of stamina, threw herself at Tyson H. to stop him.
            "Hey... relax. Wow, I didn't know I was that attractive!"
            "Shut up! What about the Video Yearbook?"
            "Okay, okay... calm down! Look, it's not my fault, okay? Colin had the master copy with him when he disappeared!"
            "Shit!", Lauren exclaimed. In her rage, she took a moment to kick Tyson in the shins as she left.

One week later...

            Though Mr. LeRoux wasn't sure if he saw the incident with Greg, Ms. Quinlan was. She promptly put CPA on the fast track to getting an elevator, even though everyone thought that she was a raving lunatic when she described what happened to Greg Baker as she saw it while talking with Ms. Harbord up the hall from the lobby (Ms. Harbord, if you asked her 'off the record', would confess to agree with Ms. Quinlan's interpretation of events...).
            Of course, getting an elevator installed where the Ramp was would prove to be a complicated venture... but as any Board Advisors with a 20% commission under the table would agree, "CPA really does need No! Don't give it to me in 100's! Use twenties! erm... uh, yes, an elevator!"

            The main reason that everyone thought Ms. Quinlan was mistaken about the whole Greg Baker and Ramp thing was that, other than Josh's car and a skateboard, there was no evidence of anything out of the ordinary having happened.
            Greg finally came to in starkingly unfamiliar surroundings. He raised his bandaged? head and looked around the bedroom?
           Whose bedroom?, he wondered.
            He was about to move, but he discovered that his legs were both in casts, as was his right arm.
            "Uggh... what happened? Where am I?"
            "My house! Yay! You're awake!", shouted a very familiar voice.
            "Jenni?", he uttered.
            "Yes! It's me! Wow, you were out for over a week!"
            "Why am I in your bedroom? Actually, why am I even in your house, for that matter?"
            Jenni sighed and sat down on his cot to explain. "Well, if you had been found... you'd be in a lot of trouble. I can't let that happen... and you were lying there, bleeding... I had to do something..."
            "Oh...", contemplated Greg. "I... ow!"
            "You're still in bad shape... please rest, please... don't get hurt more!", hastefully pleaded Jenni.
            Greg lay back again. Man... what is going on?

            "Theodore?", called Laura.
            "You never told me how things went with... um, ... oh blast! What was her name?"
            "Devon Day?"
            "Yes! Her! Tell me about it!"
            "She... got scared of me."
            "What did you tell her?"
            "Oh Theodore...", sighed Laura.

Three days later...

            Greg had by now settled into a 'comfortable' routine at Jenni's house. He was, of course, very suspicious of her... among other things, she had stopped going out to see her friends ("Kingswood can be dangerous this time of year...", she would explain) and instead she would spend a LOT of time playing various parlor games with Greg:
            "Ok, let's play 'Monopoly'!", suggested Jenni.
            "Um, okay.", agreed Greg. "I'll be the wheelbarrow."
            "Don't you want to be the car or the ship or something?"
            "Well, wouldn't you rather pick something COOL?"
            "Nah, I'm more of a realist."
            "Oh, for God's sake..."
            "Look, I don't know what to say to you! I just like the wheelbarrow!"
            "Oh, I'm sorry I mentioned it! Let's play something else, okay? ... How about 'Clue'?"
            "Okay... I'll be Ms. Scarlet..."

            Sparks flew out of what was once the third floor Ramp access to bounced around a bit on the hall floor before dying out.
            Laura, intrigued, took a moment to watch during her journey to the washroom. She could see several electricians, elevator mechanics, welders... all there to build, furnish, and install an elevator for CPA.
            Laura was captivated by the scene. Somehow, in a strange way, watching other people create... build, it motivated her to think.
            After a few minutes, a new idea popped into her head. And are you going to implement it? That's the most important part, you know! She then ran off to the washroom.

            Greg didn't totally mind being trapped in Jenni's bedroom, but one of his bigger pet peeves was that Jenni would never let him communicate in any way with anyone else but her... say via telephone, ICQ, etc... citing that "Kingswood is just too dangerous for you to survive...", and even though she was quite sincere and quite concerned for Greg's welfare, Greg was soon fed up.
            Jenni would usually leave Greg alone in her room around 8 am every morning, locking the door behind her as she left for school.
            But this morning would be different. Greg had been testing his various wrappings and he found that they were not even necessary... it was all a façade. While Jenni slept, Greg quietly removed all his casts and bandages. To his satisfaction, he felt great.
            At 7:00 or so, Jenni began to stir. Sleepily, she kicked off the blankets covering her body and slid as to sit up on the edge of the bed. She opened her eyes a crack and looked over to see Greg still seemingly restrained in his small cot at the foot of her bed. She smiled, then rose up and proceeded towards her own fully-appointed bathroom attached to the bedroom, the lower extremities of her nightgown trailing behind her. Removing the nightgown, she-
            [Subsequent seventeen paragraphs deleted]
            She then left the bathroom and proceeded to her bureau and closet, picked out, among other things, a nice [deleted] and a rather stunning [deleted] and a gray sweater. Removing her bath towel, [subsequent three sentences deleted], then she went back to the bathroom to fix her beautiful black hair.
            Greg, as any male would feel watching this, indeed felt very [deleted], but he shoved those carnal urges aside and prepared to act.
            Jenni returned from the bathroom, picked up a gold key from her bedside table, slipped on some outdoor clothing, then proceeded to unlock the door and leave.
            Not even a second after she unlocked the door, Greg was on top of her (not in a [deleted] sort of way, what the heck of a kind of a book do you think this is?!). With almost professional efficiency, he relieved Jenni of having to possess the key and remaining conscious.
            This was it. Greg was about to walk out into Kingswood. Jenni, however, had not gone to the trouble of procuring more clothing for Greg, and all he had to wear was what he had on the day of his little accident, probably not enough to protect him in the cold outdoors. Greg examined what Greg was wearing, and decided that her sweater, mittens, and boots would fit him reasonably well. Greg removed all he would need but the sweater.
           Wouldn't that be going a little far? Wouldn't I be just as psychotic as Jenni? Greg thought for a moment about some moral issues while examining Jenni's body. After deliberating, he continued to stare at Jenni... and then stared some more.

            Mr. Lincoln rose from his chair in the physics lab, walked out to the hall, and locked the door behind him.
            Waving and nodding to many physics-oriented students along the way, he made tracks for the staff room, hoping to find Mr. Sparks.
            Entering the Staff Room, he found... Nothing.
           Nothing? What's going on in here?
            Yes... he found Nothing... Nothing. He found himself immersed in... Nothing. He didn't know quite what to make of it.
            Suddenly, the Nothing 'dispersed' and he was looking at the normal Staff Room... but no one else was around.
            "Mr. Lincoln?", inquired a voice from the ceiling.
            He looked up and saw one of the elevator technicians poke his head through an open ceiling tile slot. "Mr. Lincoln?"
            "Sir, I'm sorry, but the Staff Room is not ready yet."
            "What do you mean by 'not ready yet.'?!"
            "Oh, you haven't heard?"
           Hmph. I'm usually the last one to hear about anything around here... "Heard what?"
            "Well... while we installed the elevator, Mr. Whitman thought that it might be a good idea to upgrade some CPA systems to... advanced standards."
            "What standards?"
            "2050 standards."
            Mr. Lincoln's heart skipped a beat. "What does... this have to do with 2050 standards?"
            "It's a special holographic recreation of the Staff Room. Mr. Whitman will fill you in... I don't know too much about it myself. But here, you'll need this. I think you're the last to get it."
            At that, a small plastic card fluttered down into Mr. Lincoln's hands:

Front of Mr. Lincoln's new ID... badly drawn!Back of the card. Says: This card is the property of the Halifax Regional School Board, who reserve the right to recall or nullify this card at any time. Use at any '2050' school.

            "What's this?"
            "It's your passcard. Just slip it in the slot when you come in here... I gotta go. Bye."
            "Wait- ..."
            At that moment, the worker disappeared into thin air.
            "Wha? ..."
            And at that moment, Mr. Sparks ran into the 'Staff Room'.
            "You looking for me, Wayne?"
            Mr. Lincoln, suprised, turned to see Mr. Sparks.
            "How did you know..."
            "Aw, it was nothing. The new computer system registered that you thought about looking for me, then it informed me and told me exactly where you were.", he said with a grin.
            "Wow... yikes, I forgot what I wanted to talk to you about now. Tell you what... I'll talk to you again when I remember what it was."
            "Sure." Mr. Sparks nodded, then left.

            Greg Baker was... lost.
            Now of course that isn't very specific, for there are very many types of 'lost'. You can lose a contest, lose your belongings, lose your religion when you're in the corner in the spotlight... You can lose a friend, or lose your way in life... or in a subdivision.
            Greg Baker lost his way in a subdivision... the subdivision of Kingswood. And he was LOST... this went way beyond the run-of-the-mill 'Oh shit, I'm lost!', or even the 'Help me! I'm lost!', even surpassing the kind of lost you might have felt if you were this author when he got lost in Brekon Beacon National Park at age eleven... well, suffice it to say there's something to be said for those GPS jobbies... Greg was really really lost. It was the kind of lost you could be proud of... if you weren't shivering in the -35ºC windchill.
            Greg... was.

            Laura sighted Theodore and ran towards him. "Have you talked to her lately?"
            "No.", said Theodore, utterly dejected.
            "Listen, I have a plan."
            "What?", Theodore asked hopefully.
            Laura leaned towards him and whispered the condensed version of her plan into Theodore's ear.
            "Oh no. We can't do that. That's just awful!", uttered a shocked Theodore.
            "But when you think about it, there's no other way, is there?"
            "I guess not.", sighed Theodore.
            "Good. Don't worry about a thing. Just get yourself where you have to be when you have to be there, okay?"
            Theodore nodded.

            The word 'sub'division seemed quite inadequate to Greg. Given that he had spent the last seven hours walking along never-ending streets, Greg thought that the sheer size of Kingswood would warrant its classification as a full, unadulterated 'division'. Or the heck with 'division', try 'All'. Yes. That sounds good. The All.
            Greg, a frostbitten, tired and lost figure in the All... hated the All. Seems appropriate...
            He turned to walk (down? up?) another street.

            Anyone interested in having a good 'What the hey?' reaction while reading a book might want to examine Michio Kaku's Hyperspace.3 (A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the 10th Dimension) Anyone merely interested in impressing friends ("You'rereading that?!") might also find it useful.
            As a two-dimensional being can only see the cross-sections of objects in our third dimension, we would be in a similar situation in the case of an encounter with the fourth dimension.
            So in the short story "... And He Built a Crooked House...", by Robert Heinlein, the architect Quintus Teal decides to build a house in the shape of a tesseract (a hypercube that has been unraveled in the third dimension) and cons his buddies Mr. and Mrs. Bailey into buying it:
3 This paraphrase of Heinlein's story appeared in Hyperspace. I paraphrased the paraphrase... I have never actually read this story. Yep, this is a completely unauthorized slight re-wording of Kaku's and Heinlein's work... hope I don't get sued... =)

A simple, everyday, run-of-the-mill, unfolded fourth-dimensional hypercube.

            Built in Los Angeles, it is a series of eight cubes stacked on top of one another. But just as Teal is about to show his creation to the Baileys, an earthquake strikes, and the house collapses into itself. The cubes topple, but a single cube remains standing... the other cubes have vanished. Teal and the Baileys timidly enter what is left of the house, only to discover that the other rooms are quite visible through the windows of the first floor. But how could that be, the house is only a single cube? How can the interior be connected to the other cubes if they were not seen from the outside?
            They climb upstairs and find the master bedroom above the entryway. Going up again, instead of finding the third floor, they are back on the ground floor. They race to the front door. But they just end up in another room. Ms. Bailey faints.
            Exploring, they find that each room is connected to an impossible series of other rooms. In the original house, each cube had windows to view the outside (except, presumably, cube three), but now all the windows face other rooms. What happened to the 'outside'?
            Scared, they try all the doors of the house only to wind up in other rooms. In the study (cube four), they decide to open the blinds and look outside. Out of the first blind they see that they are looking down at the Empire State Building... apparently, that window opened up to a 'window' in space just above the spire of the tower. The second finds them staring at a vast ocean... upside down. The third is opened onto... Nothing. Not inky blackness, not empty space, Nothing. The fourth and last looks upon the Martian desert.
            Continuing the tour through the house, Teal finally realizes that the earthquake collapsed the joints of various cubes and folded the house in the fourth dimension.
            On the outside, the house was an ordinary sequence of cubes. It did not collapse because the cubes were rigid and stable in three dimensions. But from the fourth dimension, the house was an unraveled hypercube that could (easily, from the fourth-dimensional perspective) be reassembled or folded back into a hypercube. When the house shook, it folded up in four dimensions, leaving only a single cube dangling in our third dimension. Anyone walking into the remaining cube would view a series of rooms connected in a seemingly impossible fashion. By racing through the rooms, they have moved through the fourth dimension.
            Just as everything is starting to look really bleak, another earthquake occurs. Teal and the Baileys leap out the nearest window, landing in Joshua Tree National Monument, miles from Los Angeles. Hours later, they return to the property only to find that the last cube had vanished completely. Teal speculates that the tesseract is now drifting in the fourth dimension. Yoiks.
            Now Greg Baker had never read Hyperspace or "... And He Built a Crooked House...". But he must have felt the same way when, no matter how many streets he tried, he always ended up on either Kingswood Drive or a cul-de-sac... essentially, he felt the same way that the characters in Heinlein's story did. He was especially perplexed when Kingswood Drive seemed to lead back onto Kingswood Drive again.
            Greg was now very cold, very hungry, and very desperate... doubtful of his possibility for survival as day quickly turned to a night of -55ºC...
* * *

            "And you understand this stuff?! Wow, you're a lot smarter than I thought!"
            Lauren just smiled back at him.

* * *

            The last of Greg's limbs still functioning finally went numb. He didn't want to die, but deep down he knew that he would finally be free of all the pain. The bright stars in the sky above began to call to him...

* * *

            "Doesn't this just totally creep you out?"
            "Not really, but now you're making me feel real guilty..."

* * *

AUTHORS NOTE: This in no way represents my beliefs... personally, I believe that the afterlife is pretty much what you make it, and it would be different for everyone... just like this life, huh? I mean, this stuff here is HOLLOW.
            "Welcome, Gregory...", whispered a familiar voice.
            "Jenni... oh shit, not again...", Greg murmured.
            And there she was... okay, before I describe everything here, try to imagine the most beautiful woman you've ever met. Okay... now imagine her in a prom dress or some such thing... makes her prettier right? Well, put about 1500 times that effect on Jenni and you pretty much have what Greg is seeing now (and it's not as if Jenni needs lots of enhancing to begin with, if you know what I mean).
            And Greg looked the same way to Jenni, but since my tastes do not travel in that... ahem, direction... we'll leave that bit to your imagination.
            And watching all those episodes of Unsolved Mysteries finally paid off for Greg. "Am I dead?", he asked.
            "Yes, Gregory. But forget about that, there is just so much I want to show you..." Jenni took his 'hand' and led him to a (chamber?). "This is your room... and mine... for all eternity... oh, did you enjoy your last life?" Jenni smiled at him.
            "The last week or so of it left something to be desired..."
            "That's too bad... well, at least you'll like it here."
            The 'left' side of the 'room' seemed to be for Greg's stuff and the 'right' side was for Jenni's stuff... but why do we have all this mortal crap?, Greg wondered. And why is she here and - OH MY GAWD!! I'VE DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN!! WOW!! Wait... I'm already dead... hehehe this is SO cool...
            "Yep, that's a new one. I just brought it up for you."
            "300 megahertz."
            Greg whistled. "The CPU?"
            "Uh, there was a choice between the Intel Pentium IV 1024 mHz and an AMD K7-2 of the same speed... I picked the AMD chip, they're really quite nice now, you know."
            "Stop drooling Greg, it's just a computer..."
            "Don't you have one?"
            "Oh, they put an organic implant in the back of my left hand, right now it's running Windows 2000 CE and ICQ 99 for Windows CE. I can just go anywhere and use ICQ... but they don't let us talk to the Planet much... you know how it is.
            Relax... just let yourself go. You'll be happy once you do...
            But I'm happy now... hey, you're right... Wow, this is great! I wonder what's on TV now...
            Oh, forget about that...
            Yeah, seems so hollow now that I think of it... but YOU, you're always refreshing... invigorating... this is amazing. That's the best part, I can be with you until the end of time...
            Oh, that's sooo sweet, Greg...
            Ahh, everything's perfect now... ow!
            You're in pain! How... I can't feel you anymore! Greg, there's something I have to tell you! Don't go into the-
            The bliss was gone. The pain was back.
            "Yes! He's back! Go tell that kid out there we got him back!"
            "No no... no... why?!", murmured Greg. "Jenni... why?"
            "He's delirious! Get the chain saw!"
            "Aaah!", screamed Greg.
            "Relax... just a little medical humor. You okay, kid?"
            Greg painfully examined his surroundings. "Jenni...", he uttered. "Yeah... okay, I guess..."
            "You nearly died out there! This kid named Will Matheson brought you in here..."
            "Will...", Greg muttered, the same way you would mutter something like 'Nazis' after they came and murdered most of your family.
            "Boy, you don't sound grateful!"
            "ugh... Jenni..."

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I know that the whole 'housewife' stereotype has almost vanished, but I couldn't resist making fun of it one last time... =)
            Will was BORED. After reading the 14 issues of Reader's Digest available in the cramped secondary waiting room, he was left with nothing to do. After that, he dipped into the plethora of Better Homes & Gardens and learned a lot about the reason behind the high suicide rate among housewives. After 56 issues of that, Will didn't do anything for another hour... he was contemplating dipping into the one remaining magazine in the room... Cosmopolitan. Agonizingly, when no one was looking, he grabbed the magazine and began to read:
            [Subsequent interlude deleted]
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Let's hope I get bored of this idea.
            Well, THAT was an experience he'd just as soon forget. But it wasn't all bad... at least he could tell 'reals' from 'fakes'... um, erm... okay, let's get on with the story. See, the reason he was so bored was that he had been sitting in the Cobequid Center for the last 16 hours, waiting for Greg to go through a fun system called 'triage', wherein people with last names such as 'Banks', 'Gates', 'Oland', 'Irving', 'Turner', or 'Strong' tend to get first pick of the doctors. Will looked about the small claustrophobic pink room for the 1500th time, just in time to see the hauntingly beautiful girl next to him finally croak from extreme loss of blood. A custodian came in, dumped her body in the wash bucket, then left again.
           Wow, that makes six today.

            Devon Day wasn't all that different from anyone else at CPA in the respect that she had an obsession. And the obsession she possessed wasn't terribly unique, you see, she was rather obsessed with Nick Carter. She knew, deep within her heart and mind, that there was no way in hell she'd marry Nick Carter (yet she still considered things like her forthcoming pre-nup agreement with 'Nickypie'). But 20,000,000 other teenage girls knew that too, and there was no way in hell they'd ever care.
            And Theodore was obsessed with things too... but, sadly, he was obsessed with Devon.
            And Theodore had a conscience...
            And just as Devon was about to step into the newly-completed elevator, Theodore shouted "Wait! Stop!".
            And Devon turned to him in suprise. "Huh? I was just going up to the third floor..." The key she held in her hand was a duplicate, and it had been duplicated hundreds of times. People mid-way up the social pyramid at CPA could get away with using the elevator, and Devon was right up there with the Saunders twins, Tyson H. and Honorary Council Members.
            But that wasn't important. What transpired next was. The elevator doors, pre-programmed to close three seconds after Devon pushed the button, shut, never to open again for one full hour.
            And Devon wasn't stupid. She freaked when she figured it all out. But we're getting ahead of ourselves, that doesn't happen until Part Four...

            Pain... Time...
            "Greg? You awake?", asked the distinct voice of the Betrayor.
           Damn... it's the Betrayor.
            "Greg? Are you still asleep?"
            Greg stirred visibly. "No, I'm dead. Leave the flowers and get out."
            "Hehehe! That's funny!"
            "Not from my point of view..." Death, it was such bliss...
            "How are you feeling?"
            "Okay." Just well enough to hate your guts for the rest of my prolonged existence.
            "That's good... so why were you in Kingswood?"
            At tat moment, something snapped inside of Greg's mind. "I... I was running away from Jenni's house... I couldn't find my way out."
            "Running away from Jenni's? Cripes, I'd elect to be there forever if I could!" Will chuckled at his own remark. "Greg, what were you thinking?! She's hot!"
            "Well... I had to leave..."
            "How were you lucky enough to even be there?"
            "Oh... she took me to her house after I got hurt... kept me in her room on a cot..."
            "YOU WERE IN HER ROOM!?!? Damn, that was just wasted on you!!" Will groaned and tried to picture himself in Greg's memories of Jenni.
            "Well... I skateboarded down the ramp... Jenni shoved me."
            "That was YOU?! We've been trying to figure that out for over a week!" Will paused to think. "Hmph... well at least all this explains why you were wearing Jenni's clothes when I found you." Will sighed very audibly.
            "How did you know those were Jenni's clothes... what did you do, spy on her or something?!"
            "Oh, come off it. You know very well I lost my binoculars while I was out on the lake six months ago."
            "I know... I was sort of joking." Greg managed a weak grin. "Will... can I ask you a question?"
            "Call me William. No one ever calls me William anymore... not even my childhood crush." Will sighed super audibly.
            "Okay... but why?"
            "Well... it just sounds nicer... well, I mean, I'd really like to be called something like Nathan or even Theodore... but we'll stick with William." Will smiled.
            "Will. I am calling you 'Will', Mr. Identity Crisis."
            "Hehehe... okay, what was the question?"
            "Why were you in Kingswood?"
            Will was taken aback. "Um... well, I was just visiting a friend. I do have friends, you know.", Will said very defensively.
            "How did you find your way out?"
            "You were lost, weren't you? Well, take a look at this. I made it myself.", Will said proudly. Will grabbed his knapsack and pulled out a sheet of paper. He showed it to Greg:

HUGE hand-drawn map of Kingswood... and it's like twenty times bigger in real-life, let me assure you!

            Greg drew a breath in amazement. "Woah, that's pretty huge."
            "Yeah... I wonder how they built it like that." Will paused. "Oh! I just remembered... you're free to come back to school anytime!"
            "Aren't I in trouble about that ramp thing?"
            "Not at all. Just sign here."

'RELEASE' FORM ___ is granted total excuse from all events concerning ___ and is to be given 100% on any and all missed evaluations. WITNESS _Dr. Averys_ STUDENT COUNCILLOR _Will Matheson_ (HAND-DRAWN FACSIMILIE)

            Greg reached for a pen and wrote in his name. "I didn't know you guys had these things."
            "Neither did I... until yesterday."
            Greg looked up at Will, and he was close to asking him what he meant... but at the last second he thought the better of it.

            "Why isn't the elevator moving? I told him I had to wait until they were underway to stop it... ergghh..."
            Time was running out. Only seconds remained until SecurCheck would run and detect the anomaly: The door to the maintenance room being opened... under Laura Johnson's ID.
            The red lights in the ceiling began to flash. Sirens sounded. Laura heard the footsteps of the nearby staff rush towards the room to see what was the matter.
            She'd be in serious trouble if she was found. Student's Council? That would only be the tip of the iceberg. She would be expelled, and, in all likelihood, arrested.
            That is, if they caught her. The dusty CPA ventilation ducts never looked more inviting. She sprang from where she was working and began to pry open the grate...

            The car containing Greg turned the corner into the driveway and found a parking spot. Unceremoniously, he got up and walked through the entrance...

Welcome to Charles P. Allen HIGH SCHOOL

Something stirred in Greg's head, then forced its way to the forefront.

CPA2 - HALIFAX | GRAY 1 | Gray Sector - Old Entrance | >> Main entrance at RED L

Just as quickly as it appeared, the alternate sign vanished.

Welcome to Charles P. Allen HIGH SCHOOL

            The switches back and forth made his head hurt.
            "Take it easy.", Will advised. They went into the Lobby.
            "Let's go upstairs... maybe Jenni is there...", Will hoped audibly.
            After some time, they reached the Yearbook Room. Sure enough, Jenni was there... Ugh!, reeled Greg. He began to collapse, but Will and Jenni managed to hold him up.
            "What's wrong?", asked Jenni's sweet voice.
            "It's... I... everything was suddenly dark, there was dust everywhere... there was this faint blue light... it was awful. And I was there, just at that... moment, wow..."
            Will looked at him quizzically.
            Jenni just laughed.

            We all enjoy a good laugh now and then. For Laura Johnson, however, this was not 'then'. Even if she were to laugh, the resulting dust inhalation would probably kill her.
            Unsure as to where she should go, she dragged herself around for hours.
           Surely they've figured out I'm in here by now... hey!
            Laura tried to move, but something was restraining her... Reaching behind her, she pulled part of her sweater off of a snag in the metal and continued on.
            Someone could lose something on that snag... She paid it no more attention.
           Where am I now?, she wondered. Reaching around with all fours, he left foot found a latch of some sort.

            Will enjoyed his free periods. They could be boring sometimes, but it was a great opportunity to walk around and not worry about classes or schedules for a bit.
            He passed Mr. Lincoln's door. Will hardly knew Mr. Lincoln. And even if they did know each other, Will wouldn't be so rude as to interrupt class for no reason.
            But for some reason, Mr. Lincoln was not there. And there was no substitute. But Lori Walsh was there, sitting quietly by the door. Will strolled in.
            "How's life?", he asked.
            Lori looked up from her notes, startled. "Oh... great."
            "Angela told me you won the contest.", advanced Will.
            "Um... yep. I won. Me!" Lori feigned a smile.
            "Cool... hey... um, look, are you good at this science stuff? I'm terrible at it."
            "Yes, why?"
            "Well... I've been wondering about this place called Kingswood..."

            Lori's life had new meaning. In addition to her school work and various world science fairs, she had a real problem to work out. She had quickly replaced Will's crude hand-drawn map with something of her own that looked more professional by a stellar jump. And even then, she spent long nights racking her brain again and again, trying to solve the new mystery...
            Clearly, though, something was missing. To explore this new mystery effectively, she needed to go there. Kingswood...

            Scrimmage was always fun. Kendra Bernard tripped over her own stick, giving Catherine Lutz a great opportunity to rack up another assist.
            She and her close friends had been through this routine many times. Before the defense line and goaltender knew it, Lutz had passed the 'puck' over to Erica Gee, who in turn sneaked the object of current interest to Kristina Kenny. WHAM! Another goal for Team 'B'!
            "Yeah!!", the trio shouted in unison. "Wow, that was so cool!", piped in Lutz.
            "Boy, that was great!", shouted Ms. MacKinnon. "Okay, now let's do some more of the -"
            They all looked up. And froze.
            The basic problem with looking up and freezing is that you don't move anywhere. But you can still realize things. Erica Gee, her mouth wide open and eyes staring upwards in sheer horror, realized that a certain Grade 10 Representative was about to collide with her in a vertical manner.
            Lutz ran towards Erica, screaming for her to get out of the way, but she was probably too busy realizing the finer points of opened air grates and gravity and cement floors and things like that.

            "We got two more from CPA!"
            "Yeah, yeah... what's their condition?"
            "Um, they've both got broken limbs, dislocations, skull trauma..."
            "Are they gonna live?"
            "Yeah, if we put them in right-"
            The triage lady turned around and yelled. "Zelda! Put the two Bedford snots on tomorrow's list... um, give 'em a decent spot, they're in bad shape!"

To: All staff, students, and parents
From: Elwin LeRoux, Vice-Principal
Re: 2050 / CPA2

            It has been decided that CPA will be upgraded to 2050 standards as opposed to the 2000 standards. Aside from being far more desirable, this upgrade will provide many additional benefits to our staff and students.
            But in the wake of this good news, we have also learned that the Fall River High Project has been canceled indefinitely. Instead, the Board will implement CPA2. CPA2, with luck, will be the first school in Nova Scotia built to 2050 standards. It may even be the seventh built ever, that is, if Ontario doesn't get their sixth due to proposed budget cuts by Mike Harris.

Jan. Ottawa  ON
Mar. Kanata  ON
Mar. Hull    PQ
Apr. Ottawa  ON
Jun. Kanata  ON
Jun. Ottawa  ON
Oct. Bedford NS
Black - Laboratory Sciences
Blue - Upper Administration, Fine Arts, Most Classrooms
Brown - Industrial Arts, Computer Core, Power Generators, Distribution Nodes
Green - Auxiliary, Auditorium, Main Gymnasium, Ventilation Systems, Turbolift Systems
Gray - Auxiliary
Red - Lower Administration, Foyer, Security, Information
Skydeck - Observation, Support Services, Heliport
(There is also a Parkade built to accommodate student and faculty cars.)

This is all the information that we were able to receive. And to concerned parents who have heard rumors that a 2050 school only lasts for three months: These rumors are UNTRUE. However, I am slightly concerned... no blueprints or conceptual drawings have been submitted to us and yet the Board has already signed the deal.

Respectfully Yours,
- Elwin LeRoux

            Ugh! How boring! Did anyone care? But the boredom was soon overshadowed by the mirads of technicians working, and the hope that CPA might finally become a decent school.
            As a narrator, I hate to dampen your spirits, but that new hope faded fast. A group of parents decided that, in addition to painting the outside of Skydeck like a can of Coca-Cola, having a promotional message on every page of every textbook was too much. ("Welcome to the exciting world of mathematics... but don't you think it's time for some refreshment? Ask your teacher if you can go to the bathroom, then sneak off to your cafeteria to buy a nice, refreshing Coke! Go ahead! Do it! NOW!") So Coca-Cola withdrew its support for CPA2, and so did a number of local companies wanting to stay in their good graces... leaving 25¢ left with which to build the school.
            In a suprise move, Councilor Peter Kelly personally deposited his life savings into the building fund and moved into a well-appointed cardboard box on Sackville Street (gee, that sounds like where I'm going to live! What class!), but he was accused of trying to gain more votes instead of acting in the public interest. At that point, the $1,000 chair Mr. Fitzgerald was sitting in broke into pieces.
            Fortunately, some digging was done, and CPA2 remained on the books... at the expense of numerous 'programs' at the three levels of government such as the many 'taxpayer years' set aside to study the Detroit Tigers. Yes! The Tigers! Hah!