Conversations With Myself

A Novel by Altimexis

The Whispers of Time
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Book Three • Chapter 9 — Filaments

March 2012 • Chris-45

“I could have told you that!” Frank responded to the allegation — more of a realization, actually, that my work at Livermore had been compromised by one or more Soviet spies.

“Really?” I barked in surprise. “If you knew there were spies at Livermore, why didn’t you say something?”

“Because it was the most logical conclusion,” he answered, “and because I would have been a prime suspect.”

I opened my mouth to tell him that I knew it couldn’t have been him, when it dawned on me that he was right. “But the Russians tried to sabotage my dissertation,” I pointed out. “We weren’t even together then.”

“True, but we’ve known each other since we were thirteen,” Frank responded, “and we didn’t exactly part amicably. You have to admit that if the Soviets had managed to indoctrinate me and if I’d wanted to get back at you, that would’ve been a good way to do it.”

“Yes, but you of all people understand the consequences of mucking around with time,” I countered. “Fuck, you’re aware of the existence of multiple realities. You always have been since I first met you. Even if the Russians somehow did manage to recruit you, you would never use time as a weapon to get back at me. No matter what they did to you or your family, wrecking the integrity of the timeline isn’t something you’d do. You’re probably the last person who’d be willing to feed the Soviets knowledge of the future.”

Pulling me into a hug and kissing me long and hard, Frank eventually came up for air and said, “I should never have feared that you’d question my integrity.” After another round of tongue wrestling, he continued, “not any more than I would expect you to sell out to the Russians.” I couldn’t help but laugh at the absurdity that I would pass knowledge of the future to the Russians, only to have them use it to sabotage the very dissertation that allowed me to pass them future knowledge in the first place.

“So it’s a given that neither of us is spying for the Soviets,” I went on, “but then who could it be? It would have to be someone very close to me someone… with access to OTT data from even before I joined Lawrence Livermore. Not even Jack Craegen was aware of the full extent of TTT until later.”

“It could have been Marion Dawson,” Frank pointed out. “He could have used his own knowledge of the future and fed it back to them as long ago as the early 1960s.”

“Except that the Russians didn’t start to meddle with history until the early-to-mid 1980s,” I countered, “until around the time I started college, and from all indications, not until after Dawson had already defected. If anything, his defection should have prevented him from passing knowledge of the future back into the past.”

“Sorry, Chris, I know you’d rather not think he betrayed you from the beginning, but even after his defection, he already possessed knowledge of the original failure of the Soviet Union. That knowledge wouldn’t have disappeared, just because he created a new reality in which he never experienced it firsthand,” Frank continued. “I’m not saying there isn’t a spy at Livermore too, but Dawson is a more likely common denominator. He was in the right place at the right time, throughout time.”

“And I brought him right into OTT,” I realized. “I gave him access to our most sensitive data. Even if he didn’t give the Russians TTT itself, knowledge of the future was just as valuable, if not more so. But then why didn’t he intervene sooner, back in the sixties?”

“There are many potential reasons, Chris,” Frank answered. “Even if Dawson did feed information to the Russians back in the early sixties, they might not have been ready to believe it. Hell, they might have thought it so preposterous to question its authenticity. Vietnam was a win-win for them. They’d been successful in countering our foreign policy, all over the world. They assumed their command economy would prove superior to ours and the idea that an arms race ultimately would bankrupt them was preposterous.

“It’s also quite possible the Russians didn’t even recruit Dawson until later. There’s no way to know when he might have begun feeding them knowledge of the future, or when they might have started taking it seriously.”

“Either way, it’s likely Marion Dawson was a Soviet spy from at least when we first met him,” I noted.

“It certainly looks that way,” Frank agreed.


April 1991 • Chris-24

It seemed like I’d been here for months. The reality was, it had probably been no more than weeks, if even that long. For a prisoner, time has no meaning. Every day I woke with the sun streaming in through the open window — the window through which I couldn’t escape because it was covered with bars. Not that there was any place I could escape to, even if I did get out of my stone hut, even if I did get past the electrified fence and the razor wire. I was in the middle of nowhere, in a vast country where I didn’t speak the language. And I had no idea of where to go.

Every morning I did the best I could to wash myself with the limited amount of water available and without soap and started what had become my daily routine. Every morning they brought me a meager meal of rice and beans that was my only meal of the day. Every day I ate it hungrily and washed it down with the brackish water, and then rinsed my mouth out without benefit of toothpaste.

By then already I would be sweating profusely from the heat and humidity, but with so much time on my hands and nothing better to do, I began my exercise routine, before the heat and humidity became even more oppressive, as it would later in the day. I began with alternating sets of push-ups and sit-ups, and moved onto chin-ups and calisthenics. I didn’t have weights to lift, so I used my own body weight to build my muscles. I ran in place and danced to whatever pop tunes I could remember. I did my routine in the morning after I’d digested my breakfast, and again in the evening as the sun set. I’d never been athletic before and couldn’t believe how buff I was becoming, in spite of the lack of food.

So far they had left me alone and the exercises took up only so much time. My sleep was of poor quality, thanks to the drugs they gave me, but still I was wide-awake during the day. I passed the time by doing mathematical derivations in my head and eventually was able to track reams of simultaneous differential vector equations. I found ways to simplify what I’d previously derived, and what Andy had supposedly derived in the future. Slowly the things he’d reportedly told me began to make sense, and I finally understood how the universe could exist within a singularity.

The easiest way to conceptualize it was to think of the universe as if it were a sheet of paper. A very, very large but infinitesimally thin sheet of paper, wadded up into a tiny ball. No matter how large the sheet of paper, if it had zero thickness, then its volume would be zero. If it had no volume, then it could be compressed down to a single point, even as the surface area of the sheet of paper remained very large.

Similarly, the universe could be seen the same way, so long as it is of finite size, which it is, and has a finite number of dimensions, which it does. In higher-dimensional space, infinite dimensional space or non-dimensional space, the hyper-volume of the universe would always be zero and by wadding it up, it could be compressed to a single point. Yet from the vantage point of people living inside the physical structure of the universe, Euclidian geometry would be preserved. In other words, from within the universe, a straight line would appear to be straight, even though in hyperspace it would appear to be a highly convoluted, wound up string, compressed to fit within a single point.

So if Andy was right, the Big Bang wasn’t much of a bang at all. The expansion of the universe didn’t change the fact that it existed within a singularity. Instead of space expanding outward, the four dimensions of space-time, plus however many invisible dimensions were needed to realize the fundamental building blocks of matter, were carved out of the singularity as convoluted filaments in much the way that tightly wound elastic string fills the substance of a golf ball. This conceptualization even allowed for quantum theory and string theory. Indeed, individual segments could separate, form loops and recombine in different configurations. Each such reconfiguration would represent a quantum event.

Usually such quantum phenomena are so tiny and ubiquitous as to be invisible to the observer, but by sending information back into the past, we created entire segments of the universe that were isolated from all others. These isolated segments, or realities, were creating a region of space that was highly unstable, and they’d either coalesce into a singularity, or they’d dissipate, leaving a single filament, or reality, to fill the void. Indeed, I almost thought I could see a way to collapse all of the multiple realities we’d created into a single cohesive reality. Andy’s model showed me that it was possible, even if I didn’t yet know how.

Unfortunately, I also was becoming convinced that Andy was right — that the only stable reality was one in which TTT had never been invented — one without him in it.


April 1998 • Chris-32

“Happy birthday, Dad!” My nine-year old son exclaimed as he carried a cake from the open kitchen into the dining area of the great room. I’d recently bought a beautiful house in Oakland Hills with breathtaking views of San Francisco and the San Francisco Bay. The cake was obviously home made and was covered with flaming candles — I didn’t count them but it sure looked like there were 32. He set the cake down on the table and, rather than admire my young son’s handiwork, I made a wish and blew the candles out quickly. I wished for things to go back to the way they were before OTT, but it took me three tries to blow out all the candles. Some wishes just aren’t meant to come true.

“How in the world did you light all those candles without burning yourself?” I asked.

“Mom gave me a butane fireplace lighter to use,” Andy explained. “It was easy.”

“It was nice of you and Mom to bake me a cake for my birthday,” I added.

“Actually, I made the cake myself,” he clarified with evident pride in his voice.

“You did?” I exclaimed in surprise.

Nodding his head, he answered, “Yup, I did. I looked through Mom’s recipe books and found one for making a cake from scratch that wasn’t too complicated. I know how much you like peanut butter cups, so I looked for a recipe for a chocolate peanut butter cake. Actually it’s a devils food cake layered with chocolate peanut butter frosting. I tried it out last week to make sure it’d come out all right. I think you’ll like it,” he concluded as he cut a couple of pieces from it and set one in front of me.

I waited for Andy to sit down with his own piece of cake, but he continued to watch me expectantly, so I grabbed hold of my fork and took a bite. It was sooo good, I actually moaned.

“I take it you like it,” Andy said as he finally took his seat, a grin on his face.

“This is the best cake I’ve ever had,” I told him quite honestly.

“I can tell by the look on your face, Dad, you think it’s orgasmic.”

I practically choked on the cake as I responded in shock, “Where in Hell did you learn that word?”

“I told you before, there aren’t many words I don’t know, but kids say things like that at my age,” he replied. “I even know what it means and what an orgasm feels like…”

“Andy?” I asked in even more shock, an image of him taking a girl to bed after school flashing through my mind.

Rolling his eyes, he said, “No Dad, I’m not having sex… not really. Not with a girl. I mean my friends and I sometimes fool around a little, but then boys my age have always done stuff together, like getting naked and touching each other and stuff. I bet you did too.” Although I wasn’t about to admit it, he was right. I had played around when I was his age. It had been pure curiosity and nothing more.

“But that’s not what I’m talking about,” he continued. “To be blunt, I jerk off, Dad. I’m too young to squirt but I do have orgasms. I’ve been doin’ it a couple years now. I know most boys don’t start ’til they’re twelve or so, but I read a lot and I read about boys doin’ it and I wanted to know what the big deal is. Well I found out what the big deal is. It’s fun!” he said with the cutest grin on his face. “It’s a lot of fun. I do it every day. Usually more than once. I can’t imagine not doin’ it. So yeah, I know what an orgasm feels like.”

“Damn,” I said as I looked at my nine-year-old boy in a new light, dressed as he was in a wife beater and skimpy shorts, and barefoot. This was his usual weekend attire for all but the winter months. I never saw my son as a sexual creature, nor did I now, but the thought that he jerked off on a regular basis — that he craved orgasms as any youth did, certainly put his development in a new light. How could I get mad at him for doing something all boys do — something I still did, even if he was only nine?

“Don’t freak out about it, Dad, OK?” Andy went on when I remained silent. “I know adults are hung up on anything having to do with sex and they really get uptight about their kids having sex, but this isn’t about me having sex with anyone other than my own left hand. This is just about jerking off, Dad. All boys do it. All men, too. I mean, you do it too, right?”

I couldn’t help but blush, causing Andy to giggle. “Don’t you know that most kids are repulsed by the thought of their parents having sex?” I asked.

“You mean, does it gross me out thinkin’ of you yankin’ on it? Not really. I mean I know it feels great, and I know you crave it like I do. It’s just physiology.

“Actually I think it’s kinda cool that we both jerk off. It might even be fun to do it together sometime, but from the look on your face, that ain’t gonna happen,” he added with an impish giggle. “So no, it doesn’t gross me out. And besides, I’m not most boys.”

No, he most certainly wasn’t.


April 2005 • Chris-39

Four months had passed since my son was taken from me. Four months since he’d disappeared from the face of the earth. Four months during which the only contact I’d had was to receive a package via DHL Express. The package contained a frozen, severed piece of his finger along with a warning that if I failed to cooperate, this wouldn’t be the last of my son’s body parts that I’d receive. We knew it was my son’s fingertip because the fingerprint matched, as did the DNA.

Initially we’d thought the package might yield valuable clues as to where Andy was being held, but the box itself was made in China and purchased in Alberta. It was then shipped from Vancouver, further obscuring the true point of origin. The finger itself was shipped in much the same way that fresh fish are shipped cross-country. It was wrapped in polyethylene plastic, packed with chips of dry ice and fit loosely into a polystyrene foam container. Polyethylene and polystyrene are petroleum-based plastics common throughout the world, and dry ice is nothing more than frozen carbon dioxide. Sometimes, trapped impurities in dry ice can yield valuable clues, but Andy’s kidnappers were skilled in their art if nothing else. They used medical-grade dry ice, making it untraceable.

If this was a Soviet operation, as we believed it to be, the attention to detail could only mean that the KGB had gotten involved. Those who’d abducted Andy were rank amateurs by comparison. The fact that the initial kidnapping was done by agents of the Russian military, or perhaps staged to look like it had been, resulted in a lot of speculation as to whom was actually responsible for taking Andy. None of that helped me get my son back though.

The funny thing was that, in sending me his finger, his captors had done more to show me that my son was all right than just about anything else they could have done. In spite of my objections, Andy had carried through with his plan of defiance.

I was now the recipient of my son's well-preserved right little fingertip and his captors were in possession of a sixteen-year-old boy who was in every way their superior.

After receiving the package, I expected I would receive a second communication after a short while, instructing me on what my son’s captors wanted from me, but more than a month had passed and nothing had happened. Both Andy and I had celebrated birthdays and yet there was still no word. I was now 39 years old, and Andy was sixteen. No matter what was going on over there, be it in Russia or elsewhere, I had little doubt that it was Andy who had the upper hand.


“We would be much more inclined to help you, Andrew, if you would tell us why you think your approach will succeed when Dawson’s has failed,” the KGB agent admonished his young charge.

“For the fifteen thousandth time,” the boy said as he rolled his eyes in exasperation, “these are two completely different approaches to sending information back in time. Particles with paired quantum states are extremely susceptible to electromagnetic interference. When you detonated Tsar Bomba in 1961, you not only fried electronic components all across Russia, but you destroyed paired quantum particles for thousands of miles around, for hundreds of years into the future. You wiped out any possibility of using this method throughout a sizable chunk of the northern hemisphere.

“But the use of paired quantum states is only a means to an end. We all have the ability to communicate with ourselves in the past. Most of us have had premonitions, and some of us have them regularly. Paired quantum states merely facilitate our forming a link from the present to the past, opening a channel within our brain that transcends time. There are other ways of doing this, however… ways that aren’t affected by quantum cataclysms such as nuclear tests.

“The equipment I’ve requested will allow me to test some of these ideas, but perhaps the concepts are beyond the understanding of a party apparatchik. Perhaps this discussion should be with your top physicists instead.”

“I have shown your diagrams and your equipment list to the same people who designed the TTT apparatus,” the KGB agent responded, “the same people who worked with Dawson. They are, in fact, our best physicists and they could find little merit in your request.

“You have already tried my patience with your little birthday demonstration. Against my better judgment, we sent your finger to your father and he has undoubtedly verified by now that it is yours. Included with it was a warning that unless he cooperated, we would be sending back additional body parts in the future. Perhaps a better use of you would be to make good on that threat.”

“Hand me a knife and I’ll do it myself,” the boy answered without hesitation. “Perhaps my father would respond better to my penis, or an eyeball, or my entire left hand. However, knowing my dad, sending me home to him, piece by piece, will only strengthen his resolve not to cooperate with you. He might be more inclined to cooperate if you treat me well and give me the chance to convince him myself but, even still, I wouldn’t count on it.

“The bottom line, comrade, is that my father can’t give you anything you don’t already have. The best chance you have of communicating with the past and of fixing the things that made the Soviet Union fall apart is to let me proceed with my experiments. Give me the equipment I need and let me talk to your best physicists, face-to-face. Please give me a chance to get it right.”

“Then why do I get the impression, young man, that your only interest is in undoing what we’ve already done? Why do I get the impression that you have no interest in helping us in the end?”

Sighing, the boy replied, “True, you have no guarantee that I will help you achieve what you want to achieve, but you have to trust me that our ultimate goals will be the same in the end. I can’t promise you to do your bidding because, even if I did, no amount of tinkering with the past will make a command economy succeed, any more than it will prevent America from having to choose between a safe, but closed society and a slightly less safe, but open one. No amount of meddling with the past will help humanity avoid having to deal with cataclysmic sea level rise and ecosystem collapse. These problems, as difficult as they may be to solve, do have solutions, however.

“None of that matters if the fabric of time becomes so fragmented that it ends up being destroyed. None of that matters if a singularity forms… if a black hole opens up and consumes the earth and with it, our past, present and future. No, our primary objective must be to repair the damage we’ve already done to the timeline. Only by fixing the problems we’ve created unintentionally by meddling with time can we live another day. Only then can the USSR begin to tackle the real problems that will ultimately lead to its demise.”


October 1979 • Chris-13

I was shocked to hear that Professor Dawson’s counterpart in 1972 already had managed to fabricate a TTT apparatus. True, the equipment for making custom vacuum tubes was mostly still intact back then, so that made a big difference, but he still had to make a custom quartz emitter-detector and to machine and align 64 precision particle reflector mirrors within a cylinder attached to a stepper motor. Custom circuitry had to be built and tested, and the whole thing had to be checked and rechecked, ’cause even a minor problem could cause permanent brain damage.

So it seemed that Professor Dawson had successfully contacted his counterpart in 1972, and transmitted all the information back to himself in 1965. It would then be up to his 1965 counterpart to contact himself in 1959, so that we could stop his boyfriend, David, from going to Vietnam. Hopefully, that would be enough to stop the Russians from getting their hands on Professor Dawson and TTT.

I wondered to myself how long it would take the Professor Dawson of 1965 to make a TTT machine. Making custom vacuum tubes would be a lot easier back then, ’cause they still used vacuum tubes for just about everything in 1965. The transistor was pretty new in that timeframe and, according to Professor Dawson, ‘solid state’ electronics were a big enough deal that companies advertised it, right on the outside of TVs, radios and the like, that used transistors instead of tubes.

The one question mark in 1965 would be the stepper motor. In 1965, they didn’t have them. Well, they did, but they lacked the precision we would need for TTT. Instead we were gonna have to use something called a servo-motor, which used position sensors and a feedback loop to do the same thing. Trouble was, there was a lot more than could go wrong with them, so we were gonna have to use a shitload of redundancy, as the professor put it. I like it when he cussed like that with me. He didn’t do it often and he hardly ever did it at all with the other students, which made me feel kinda special.

Speakin’ of which, one of the other hurdles to using TTT in 1972 and in 1965 was that I wasn’t there. Since TTT needed at least two people to operate it, that meant Professor Dawson a was gonna have to find someone else to assist him with each session — someone he could trust. But that had me worried more than a little bit. What if the kid he got to help him was a Russian spy? What if the kid decided to use TTT for his own purposes. There were just too many ‘what ifs’!


April 1984 • Chris-18

I couldn’t believe it. I was finally an adult! I’d just turned eighteen and could legally do anything — I could vote, I could enlist — not that I was going to. The only thing I couldn’t do legally, at least not in Missouri, was to drink — not that that ever stopped any college student before.

Classes at the university were winding down and soon the summer term would begin. As was typical in most colleges, as opposed to high school, the school year began in August so that the semester could end before Christmas. Classes then resumed after the New Year and ended in May, rather than June. Although this meant an early end to summer, it meant that the summer break began in the spring, in May, when the weather was glorious and no one wanted to be in the classroom anyway.

For me, however, I would be spending the summer working in Marion Dawson’s lab again, as I had the last few years. At the end of the summer I would then transfer my credits to Stanford and I would finally make the move to California, a move that would be permanent, from what I had learned from my older counterparts. Somehow while at Stanford, I would meet Jen, fall in love with her, and father our son before the relationship broke up. I wasn’t sure how I would manage to have sex with a girl now, but it was going to have to happen if Andy was going to be born. Andy’s role in TTT had already become paramount — not that I could discuss it with Professor Dawson — so anything that prevented his existence wasn’t an option. Andy had to be born, no matter what.


April 1991 • Chris-25

The day started like any other, with the sunlight in my face and waking up by washing myself as best I could in the brackish water. I relieved myself using the small hole in the ground that emptied into a latrine under the stone hut that was my home. I’d long since gotten used to the smell and the incessant buzzing of the flies.

My guards came as they always did, but rather than bring me my one meal of the day, the one who spoke English began, “We have been letting you get used to the hospitality of your Chinese hosts, but now the time has come to repay them for their hospitality. We can do this the easy way, or the hard way.

“The easy way is, you cooperate with us, and we return you to Hong Kong, where you will live a life of luxury with your boyfriend and his mentor. If you choose not to cooperate with us, we will do whatever it takes until you agree to help us. If we have to torture you to get what we want, so be it, but if you ever decide to cooperate and cooperate fully, the offer to return to Hong Kong still stands.

“We will use an escalating scale of torture until you give it up, or die trying not to. Except that you won’t die, although you’ll beg for us to let you. We’ll start with sodium Pentothal, also known as truth serum. Hopefully, this will be enough to get you to loosen your tongue and give us what we want. If unsuccessful, you will get your first dose of torture, a small dose of succinylcholine, a paralyzing agent that will cause intense muscle cramps and make it hard to breathe. Each day you will get a higher dose of succinylcholine, causing worsening cramps and difficulty breathing, until you suffocate. Most of our prisoners give it up within the first week, and few last more than two weeks. Should you manage to hold out for more than a month, you will suffocate, slowly and painfully every time, only to have us resuscitate you to relive the experience of death yet again the next day.”

Holding up a rather large syringe, the English-speaking guard, whose name I still didn’t know, said, “This is your first dose of Pentothal. It will make you feel a bit woozy and hot all over, and you may have some difficulty breathing at first. After a short while, you should feel relaxed and your inhibitions will be gone. Now before I inject this, can I get you to reconsider? All you have to do is say so and you’ll be returned to your boyfriend in Hong Kong.”

“No… fucking… way,” I responded.

“Very well then,” the guard said before jabbing the needle into my arm without even using any antiseptic. He then pushed down on the plunger and the effects of the drug were immediate. I felt groggy, dizzy and nauseated, as well as flushed all over. Soon these feelings subsided and I just felt tired — really, really tired all over. The guard lowered me back onto my cot, with my face squarely in the midst of the bright sunlight that streamed in through the open window. This prevented me from seeing the guards face, which I was sure was probably deliberate.

But then something strange happened — a fog slowly began to surround me and a familiar face coalesced in front of me. “Thank God, Chris,” my older counterpart from the future began. “We were beginning to wonder if we would ever have a way to contact you again.

“Whatever you do, don’t try to say anything to me except what I tell you to say. I assume you’re drugged and that you are unable to keep from saying anything you think aloud, so we’ll make sure that what you say aloud is what we want them to hear.

“If you think you can do this, please say, ‘I feel funny, please wait a minute.’ If you can’t, please say, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’”

“I feel strange, please wait a minute,” I dutifully replied.

“Great, Chris, that’s perfect, even if you did change it a bit,” Chris-32 said. “What we believe has happened is that you were taken to Hong Kong and kept in a luxury apartment that is owned by a Chinese holding company and used by Charles Hudson. We’ve identified the location of the apartment, thanks to CIA and MI6 operatives working under cover, and their contacts within Hudson’s organization. You were only moved to the mainland about a month ago. If you were in fact held in a luxury apartment with Mr. Hudson and your boyfriend, Wang Lee, please say, ‘I don’t think I can take this. I feel like I can’t breathe, and we’ve only just begun.’ If our information is incorrect, please say, “I will never cooperate with you ’til my dying day.’”

I of course responded by speaking aloud the first response, which led the guard to say, “If you think this is bad, just wait until we give you the succinylcholine and you start to feel intense muscle cramps and to suffocate for real. You’ll be begging us to return you to Hong Kong!”

“Excellent,” my future self said. “That’s exactly what we wanted to hear. We can get you out of Hong Kong if you go back there. We can rescue you from Charles Hudson’s apartment. I know you’re wondering how we can communicate back in time to get the word to operatives in 1991, when we’re based in 1998. That’s actually quite simple. There are operatives in your time clandestinely working inside Mr. Hudson’s organization. They already knew you were taken there, but there wasn’t sufficient time to formulate a rescue plan before you were taken to the mainland. They were developing one, but did not realize until it was too late that you wouldn’t be allowed to stay there indefinitely. A plan is now fully in place in the event that you are returned to Hong Kong, to the care of Mr. Hudson. We are merely serving as the messenger to tell you what you need to do to be rescued.

“Tell your interrogator that you are already suffocating and don’t think you can survive the succinylcholine. Maybe you are allergic to Pentothal or something, but it's making it very hard to breathe. Tell them you will do anything to avoid going through this again, even if it means telling them what they want to know. Tell them you’ll give them everything they want if they let you return to Hong Kong.”

The author gratefully acknowledges the assistance of David of Hope and Anthony Camacho in editing this story, as well as the support of Awesome Dude for hosting it.
This story is purely fictional and any resemblance of characters to real individuals other than named historical figures is purely coincidental and unintentional. Some characters may be gay and at times engage in homosexual acts. Because the story explores characters at various stages of their lives, they may be underage during early sexual explorations. Obviously, anyone uncomfortable with this should not be reading the story, and the reader assumes responsibility for the legality of reading this type of story where they live. The author retains full copyright, and permission must be obtained prior to duplication of the story in any form.