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LJ Idol - Week [3] - "In Another Castle"

Pen
Jailee took a moment to scan her surroundings, eyes darting back and forth. Then, when she was certain all was secure, she relaxed and took a breath. No video cams were permitted in anyone’s dorm rooms, thanks to the “throwback” rule that reinstituted the law, disallowing security from physically viewing the interior of someone’s private space.

Jailee caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror on the far wall and nearly jumped. The reddish hair with manufactured tresses of white, grafted on in layers with a laser (for super cheap!), flowing like a waterfall down her shoulders, the dark brown undereye makeup offsetting the green of her irises, the black lower and white upper lip and just a tinge of orange blush on the cheeks of her pale blue skin made her think she was looking at a different person, much older than twenty. She liked her new look!

But the crimson blazer, the white fitted butterfly collar shirt and pleated navy skirt, inched up a bit too high, was her standard fashion statement. She slipped off her silver-studded black combat boots and stood in her knee-stockings.


At the start of first semester, Jailee had already hacked the cams in the hallway and stairwell up to her rooftop loft, making what was typically seen by them, normal and dull. And with the touch of a xxDELETEDxx she could edit in a snippet of her carrying her tank down the hall, applying her make up or kicking something with those boots, retrofitted with flatzels to permit her to walk (or even run) on any surface, which allowed her to get places faster. Security was too slow for her with those on, she nodded.

Despite the six month old law that was officially back in place, there was no guarantee that secretly planted nanocams might be capturing footage in specific areas, or attached to miniblips that could silently hover at any window. Jailee immediately took off all her clothes and threw them to the floor, slipping her thong underwear onto her thumb and firing them, like a fisherman’s spear, at the window.

Now, if someone is shooting a contraband video, all they’ll see is me, she thought, and they’ll have to stop. Nude videos would be inadmissible in a court of law and videos doctored to add clothing to the observed subject were always found out, tossed out and The State was given a stiff penalty for their trouble.

Jailee did a slow three hundred and sixty degree turn, then sat on the bed and displayed her fully intact feet, rolling her socks down and off and wiggling her ten toes for a moment before turning towards the window on her left and placing her right hallux into her mouth, moaning slightly.

As she did, she thought she saw a small shadow move across the window pane and disappear. She smirked and placed her foot back on the floor. Jailee’s heel hit a solid metallic box under her bed and she made sure to turn her back to her main window and bend over at the waist to retrieve it, just in case.

“J, I think you do all of that because you’re an exhibitionist!”

“WHATWHATWHAT?”

It was Conroy! He left a xxDELETEDxx on top of the box! The box now sitting on Jailee’s bed was of course, placed underneath it by Conroy, who knew the timing of the exterior rotating cam sequence, so he entered and exited the dorm via his power skimmer land adapter without detection. Really, the ancient video games she noticed at the top of the box, like “Grand Theft Spaceship 2: Holland Underwater” and “The New Sims 68: Beijing, Capital of the World” provided greater challenges than the 22nd Century style aquaport rudimentary low-power scanning that was still being used across their campus.

Jailee grabbed the xxDELETEDxx and stared at it. “Can you see me?” she shouted at it.

“No, Fishbrain!” Conroy laughed. “If we were on a video bandwidth, we’d be found out in seventeen seconds. This is an audio channel only, on a frequency that nobody has used in like fifty years.”

“So how did you know I was… ” Jailee asked, whispering the last word, “naked?”

“Because I do the same thing when I get back to my dorm!” Conroy cackled. “And I could hear you sighing. You might want to tone that down.”

Jailee flipped the xxDELETEDxx to the bed and wanted to flip it off in two ways but turned her attention to the rest of the contents of the box.

“It’s okay. I soundproofed my loft. I could be screaming and no one in the hall outside my door would hear.”

“Okay. How did you soundproof your loft? I need you to do that for me because my new sex fiend partner Culp makes more noise than a dolphin. And he is as ravenous as a shark.”

Jailee started unpacking the box. “Conroy, what is this junk?”

“Hey! That box is MY stuff. I didn’t leave it for you, I’m just storing it there until I can secure my system,” Conroy called.

“I guess you want me to do that for you, too. I’ll add it to the list.” Jailee pulled out a thin, metallic rectangle. “No way!” She opened the lid and saw something she had only heard about.

“DUST!”

She gently touched her fingertip to her tongue and moved that finger to the keyboard, managing to get a few fibers to stick as she examined them closely. How old was this, and how was it kept so perfectly?

“Yeah, I got all this stuff from what’s her name's estate, that woman who endowed the school with a lot of the funding for scholarships,” Conroy said. “She was a multi-octillionaire. I guess we both owe her something.”

“You mean Maxelle Genering? The great granddaughter of the woman Genering College is named for?” Jailee asked mockingly, continuing to unpack.

“No. I would have remembered that name, obv.” Conroy seemed almost insulted. “It was her investor friend and partner and lover, the one who hated surveillance.”

“Oh!” Jailee looked up and thought for a few seconds “Marina… Poem?”

“Marina Pope!” Conroy shouted “That’s why I can never remember her surname. It’s like some meaningless foreign word or something.”

“You should have paid more attention in your language class.” Jailee frowned and examined the lidded rectangle. “Why was this object called a xxDELETEDxx Air when it was clearly incapable of floating, like all of the devices on the current market?” she asked.

“That’s an excellent question!” Conroy responded.

“That you don’t have an answer for,” Jailee grumbled. “You should have paid more attention in History class too.” Jailee looked at the unpacked contents. “So, besides old video games, older devices and this thing we’re talking on, why am I storing this box?”

“Because I DID pay attention in History class,” Conroy countered. “Do you see the large red envelope at the bottom? This will be our ticket to super wealth and success!”

Jailee reached in and pulled out the sleeve which had about forty circular flat disk objects with various writing and pictures on them. “I’ve got it.”

“Put one of those discs with the picture side up in the little sliding tray of the brown device with them.” Conroy said. “And flip up the screen.”

Jailee did as instructed and waited for a moment for it to respond.

Jailee started laughing. “This picture has no color! It’s all whte and gray and black! Who would want this?”

“Some of them have color,” Conroy tried. “Which one are you looking at?”

“I don’t know. It’s… It’s Jackie Gleason The Honeymooners. What are Honeymooners?”

“It’s something to do with living with someone for a long time,” Conroy stated firmly. “That’s why nobody knows anything about it.”

“Who would live with somebody at all?” Jailee chuckled. “You know what else? There’s no sound on this.”

“Yeah. The brown device needs some repair…”

“…That you want me to fix.” Jailee finished Conroy’s sentence. “So what am I supposed to be looking for in this?” It’s a baby manatee, and a woman and another woman and they’re in a room, talking.”

“That’s not a manatee. That’s a man! Don’t you see he has legs, like you! This is something that entertained people in previous centuries!” Conroy exclaimed.

“You mean like those video games, but without any interaction?” Jailee rolled her eyes, unimpressed. “Yeah, you definitely found a permanent air pocket with this.”

“I’m telling you Jailee, people are going to be fascinated. It’s all kinds of humans walking around, people driving something other than boats or subs or rafts. And there’s a lot of New York related stuff. I know you’re fascinated with that sunken treasure for some reason.”

Jailee finally took a closer look. She was watching how the gray man commanded the room, how he gestured, his facial expressions, how large his eyes got. Jailee looked into the mirror and widened her eyes in the same way. She started to laugh out loud at her reflection.

“Well, whatever you’re seeing, it must be pretty dam funny!”

Jailee looked at the screen with the man and the woman standing together and shook her head.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right, Conroy,” she smiled, and as she did, she noticed in the mirror that the black and the white of her lips had begun to smudge and turn slightly gray.

The bell on Jailee’s door rang urgently and she instinctively grabbed her clothing.

“J, don’t answer…”

//END TRANSCRIPT//

*****A NOTE TO THE JURORS*****

Thoughtstreaming is usually considered inadmissible in court, as a person’s thoughts cannot be proven to be real or imagined, but is allowed to be presented to you as circumstantial evidence here, in this case, as other means of testimony are unavailable or inconclusive. You are completely free to disregard or to accept the previous information as you see fit.

Also, the xxDELETEDxx words were names of items we have determined have no need to be revealed and, as such, are not germane to the case or to understanding the transcript. This should NOT imply that any other part of the text was altered or edited in any way that directly affects the reading of it.

--The State

Comments

( 66 comments — Leave a comment )
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elledanger
Mar. 29th, 2014 05:39 pm (UTC)
Ooooh what a fun piece of future dystopia!
penpusher
Mar. 29th, 2014 07:38 pm (UTC)
Thanks much for reading!
basric
Mar. 29th, 2014 08:13 pm (UTC)
Terrifying look into the future?
penpusher
Mar. 29th, 2014 09:24 pm (UTC)
As long as it's not an inevitable future! Thanks for venturing in.
i_will_not_say
Mar. 29th, 2014 09:01 pm (UTC)
This was a cool take on the prompt!
penpusher
Mar. 29th, 2014 09:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much!
i_love_freddie
Mar. 29th, 2014 11:49 pm (UTC)
I love stuff like this; it's creepy to think that it could one day be reality.
penpusher
Mar. 30th, 2014 02:15 am (UTC)
I still have much hope that humanity can avoid a fate like this one. Thanks for reading!
similiesslip
Mar. 30th, 2014 12:13 am (UTC)
This was so incredibly creative! Great job! :)
penpusher
Mar. 30th, 2014 02:15 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading and for a great compliment!
lapis_lazuli615
Mar. 30th, 2014 03:04 am (UTC)
I really really liked this. 1984-ish, but with oddly more freedom, and less.
I would love to see more from this world!
penpusher
Mar. 30th, 2014 11:30 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! It was an unexpected place for me to occupy and I might like to go back there as well.
solstice_singer
Mar. 30th, 2014 09:30 pm (UTC)
Hmmm. It seems someone disapproved of what Jailee was doing in her room. Very bad for her, I'm thinking.
penpusher
Mar. 30th, 2014 10:07 pm (UTC)
It's really up to the jury! But thanks for reading and caring about Jailee.
shimmerdream
Mar. 30th, 2014 09:41 pm (UTC)
I really enjoyed reading this, I hope to see more of this world :)
penpusher
Mar. 30th, 2014 10:12 pm (UTC)
Thanks much! I could definitely imagine coming back to this time and place...
kandigurl
Mar. 30th, 2014 11:31 pm (UTC)
I really like this world! I would love to see more from it!
penpusher
Mar. 31st, 2014 12:06 am (UTC)
Thanks a lot! I'm glad you found it interesting.
tatdatcm
Mar. 31st, 2014 03:54 am (UTC)
I like the world you built here. Fascinating. I was expecting another reference to Mario Brothers so the Honeymooners was a nice twist.

Nice use of the prompt.
penpusher
Mar. 31st, 2014 04:55 am (UTC)
Thanks and thank you for reading! The story actually germinated from a Honeymooners clip into what it became, so I'm glad you noticed that element!
sweeny_todd
Mar. 31st, 2014 06:34 am (UTC)
oh interesting!

.... I am pretty sure I do not trust The State!
penpusher
Apr. 1st, 2014 03:00 am (UTC)
I'm fairly certain the feeling is mutual!
uncawes
Mar. 31st, 2014 08:20 am (UTC)
The campus tech must be truly horrible if it would take 17 seconds to catch a video call.
I love the brown device, and the sitcoms, and well - all of it.
penpusher
Apr. 1st, 2014 03:01 am (UTC)
From all expectations, their tech is pretty much the low end, it seems. But thanks very much for visiting!
swirlsofblue
Mar. 31st, 2014 09:40 am (UTC)
OH, THIS IS AWESOME. Absolutely love what you did here. This dystopian future world is created so wonderfully with brilliant descriptive detail, I loved all the ideas for her look. And then all the descriptions of the video games as weird old things, and the ominous 'deleted' words, and that it turned out to be a trial. Perfect.
penpusher
Apr. 1st, 2014 03:04 am (UTC)
Thanks very much!
i_17bingo
Mar. 31st, 2014 09:59 am (UTC)
Jailee immediately took off all her clothes and threw them to the floor, slipping her thong underwear onto her thumb and firing them, like a fisherman’s spear, at the window.

Ooh! Clever as hell! I mean, it ultimately didn't work, but still...
penpusher
Apr. 1st, 2014 03:05 am (UTC)
Ha! Well, if that's what you selected to be most critical of, I feel pretty good about it! Thanks for the read.
(no subject) - i_17bingo - Apr. 1st, 2014 03:07 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - penpusher - Apr. 1st, 2014 03:28 am (UTC) - Expand
eternal_ot
Mar. 31st, 2014 11:09 am (UTC)
Oh! who would have thought ab't a future like this (but you)..:) a excellent take on the prompt! well done!
penpusher
Apr. 1st, 2014 03:05 am (UTC)
Thanks very much!
waltzmatildah
Mar. 31st, 2014 12:27 pm (UTC)
What a fun and creative entry :)
penpusher
Apr. 1st, 2014 03:05 am (UTC)
Thanks and glad you liked it!
halfshellvenus
Mar. 31st, 2014 06:17 pm (UTC)
Totally unexpected in all possible ways, and the thought of someone describing Jackie Gleason as a baby manatee just cracked me up.

How is that not mostly accurate? :D
penpusher
Apr. 1st, 2014 03:09 am (UTC)
Thanks for that. In Jailee's world it was actually more likely to have a manatee chatting with two women than a man of that stature, so it was an understandable mistake.
baxaphobia
Apr. 1st, 2014 01:12 pm (UTC)
This was fun and fabulous!
penpusher
Apr. 1st, 2014 07:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
surpanakhalives
Apr. 1st, 2014 01:27 pm (UTC)
This was fun! 1984-meets-Hunger Games-ish, but the voice is so fresh!
penpusher
Apr. 1st, 2014 07:02 pm (UTC)
Wow, I would love to be at that level. Thanks for a wonderful compliment!
dusty_chenille
Apr. 1st, 2014 01:32 pm (UTC)
ooh, I want to know what happened. Excellent job of reeling me in with curiosity. I love this kind of dystopian/future world stuff.
penpusher
Apr. 1st, 2014 07:07 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much! That's very high praise. I have a feeling that one way or another, we haven't seen the last of Jailee (or the first of Conroy)!
eska818
Apr. 1st, 2014 10:53 pm (UTC)
A very inventive imagining of what the future could be like! Nice job.
penpusher
Apr. 2nd, 2014 10:34 am (UTC)
Thanks very much for reading and your comment!
crazypuce
Apr. 2nd, 2014 02:41 am (UTC)
You really grab my interest. Very creative future and a bit scary.
I wonder why he didn't want her to get the door.
penpusher
Apr. 2nd, 2014 10:39 am (UTC)
Thanks for a great compliment. Maybe that might be revealed if Jailee and Conroy have the chance...
(no subject) - crazypuce - Apr. 2nd, 2014 10:46 am (UTC) - Expand
witches
Apr. 2nd, 2014 05:25 am (UTC)
I really love your writing style!
penpusher
Apr. 2nd, 2014 10:40 am (UTC)
Thanks so much. That means a lot!
seakittym
Apr. 2nd, 2014 04:53 pm (UTC)
Wow, this is really cool!
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading!
karmasoup
Apr. 3rd, 2014 05:07 am (UTC)
I'm always a sucker for an Aldous Huxley image of the future, and I love how you snuck in a mental image of Kyle's mom here with the triple-take.
penpusher
Apr. 3rd, 2014 02:23 pm (UTC)
Thanks very much for this.
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