2018 OR 2019 OR 2020

john e. kilberg

26,300 words.


 Sometime in the year 2018 or 2019 or 2020

 It's late - the hour feels dark - the clock ticks past the
hour of normality. A heaviness is in the air as if someone is
watching Jason. Sitting on the edge of his bed, Jason absorbs
the atmosphere in the apartment, using his eyes to search for
someone there. There isn't anyone there. Feeling the air tight
around him, he is in need of something he is guilty of
triggering his paranoia that someone is there. Eyes glued down
below him to his phone, gripping it hard, he viciously scrolls
through the dating apps on his phone.

 There's a sound somewhere in the apartment - Jason looks
for it with his eyes, not moving a muscle. Sweat accumulates on
his forehead, and with his free hand, he wipes it away as he
stares at the countless images scrolling through the phone's
screen. His hands are sweaty, wiping them dry on his gym shorts,
he is just about nervous. The images dominating the screen are
just numerous types of: Girls. All types of girls. Is he needing

 Ding. A red dot appears signaling the notification of a new
message. It's as if he is constantly anticipating for that red
dot to appear. His social anxiety creeping out of him in
response to a cell phone message.

 He breathes in slowly, and looks at the message:
So basic, he thinks. He imagines a girl whose breathy with
her words heavily breathing out the greeting, "Hhheeeeeyyyyy..."
This white girl with blonde, straight hair, long and kept it

 Biting his nails he feels the weight of anxiety from the
situation. He thinks too long to come up with a response, what
does he say? What do you say..every time he begins with a
"Hello" back it ends with silence, and or the beginning of a
longer than needed awkward conversation that would eventually
lead into the main reason for even talking to each other in the
first place.

 "Looking for now?" he was so direct. He can't believe it.
And with that, a map is sent of where she is which happens to be
around the corner, is sent. Convenient. In a small moment after
all of that, he finds himself flying out his apartment door and
in no minute time finds himself standing outside her building's
door. It's not a cold night, but it's cold to him. Waiting
slowly in the dark night for her to come down, he looks up to
the sky and tries to count all of the stars that he is able to
see in a city usually lacking the ability to see stars. But
tonight is darker than usual, and with that more stars can be
seen if he looked hard enough.

 The door cracks open: she is a young girl, of 20. White as
a sheet of paper, she looks upon the dark knight that is Jason.
Blending into the night, only the white in his eyes show him to
her, and the darkness of his skin to her is mesmerizing.

 She waits for Jason to speak, and yet nothing is coming out
of his mouth. Just the same as if it would have been if this
conversation was done through text messaging. Instead Jason
looks around him, away from her for a second, as if he is
thinking of heading home.

 The girl quickly smiles and makes a noise to try and grab
his attention and to make her move, "Hi."

 Jason, in an anxious panic manages to spew out, "Hi."

"Come in."

 As she closes the door, Jason goes to enter the building
not looking at her but inside at the stairs inside leading up.

 "It's at the top of the stairs." The door claps behind her.
The sound is now inside of Jason. He finally makes his move to
walk up the stairs, with her standing waiting for him to do so.
Awkwardly going first, he feels her watching at him - looking at
him - admiring him from behind. The breath in his lungs feels
tight, and almost none existent. He reaches a door at the top of
the stairs bringing his hand out slowly to the handle, then he
stops, "Is it...open?" Jason mutters.

 "No hold on." Fuddling her keys out she smirks with a joke,
"There's burglars."

 Jason doesn't get she's joking. Which only raises his
already high anxiety of the situation. Feeling her joke being a
flop, she drops the smirk. Once inside Jason feels the motion to
take his shoes off, the apartment looks so clean and put
together, but he chooses not to. He's realizing more and more
that he doesn't want to stay.

 Meanwhile the girl gets inside, gets herself comfortable.
It's so easy for her. Jason watches as she slips her shoes off,
brings her hair back, and then back down. She glides into the
kitchen and grabs a glass:

"No...I'm fine."
As she drinks her glass of water, she walks across the
room, passing Jason. For a minute she stops in front of him to
try and lean in on him. Make some kind of sexual contact,
because she isn't as calm and collected as Jason is thinking she
is at this very moment, she is getting really antsy and
impatient. Jason reacts in moving out of the way. Not the move
she was expecting.

 She let's out her frustration, "So -"
Jason quickly interrupts, "I'm sorry."
She stops short in everything she is doing to pay attention
to what exactly Jason means.
"I can't do this. I just. I can't do this. My girlfriend is
out fucking someone else, and I'm new to this whole thing - this
whole open relationship thing. You were close so I came over. I
don't want to be doing this -"

 The girl doesn't waste a minute of emotion.
"It's fine."
She heads to the door. Unlocks it and opens it wide open.

No more is said from her, as Jason waits to hear something come
out of her mouth. Break the silence, end the awful awkwardness.
But he realizes, quickly, he needs to just get himself out of
"I - yeah. Bye." He stumbles out the front door of her
apartment the same way he stumbled through that exiting line. He
runs down the stairs trying not to slip on a step. Fast out the
front door slamming it a bit hard behind him. He runs around the
corner, and down the block, to get back to his place. He runs up
to the front door of the building and puts in the key. Running
up his building's stairs, he passes by someone hunched hacking a
lung almost knocking them over. He frantically opens the door
and enters his apartment. Closing the front door to his
apartment, throwing his keys down on a counter and breathing
heavily he walks through the apartment with no direction only
panting out:

 "Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes." In major relief and celebration
of not going through with it. He plops down, shoes on and all -
still panting. Once he catches his breath he realizes no one is
home, no one has been home, and no one will probably come home
for another few hours. He goes once more to his phone to see if
that girl was still there. What exactly he would need to say to
her to make that work again, he had no idea. But it didn't
really matter because she wasn't on, she had found someone else
all ready. He would only have to imagine it because in reality
there is no way in him knowing if she did or not, if he wanted
to think and fret about it he would only be thinking of the
scenarios, not necessarily knowing one to be true. Ripping his
shoes off he throws them far away from him making a bit of a
mess and making loud noises. He needs to calm down or the woman
downstairs would be up in a few to call him out on his loud
noisemaking above her. He's got that below him, a girlfriend no
where to be seen, and a roommate that he wishes never lived
there. There is nothing in any of this for him to be truly happy
in staying committed to whatever it is he is in with this girl,
her name being Rachel.

 Looking at his phone - no messages.

 Looking for Rachel on his phone through his texts, chats
and apps to see if she is online? - No luck. Putting his phone
down, Jason has a moment of realization: why did he leave that
girl's apartment? Taking his phone out he goes to look again for
someone, someone new. Once again he tightens his breath in
looking for that red dot to appear on the top of the screen. He
wonders if he can actually stay committed to sleeping with one
of these girls and not run away like he just did. He can look at
this all he wants and fantasize about these people, but when
will he actually go through with the action he is fantasizing
himself doing with another person? Rachel isn't going to walk
through that door right now and tell him she loves him, she
wants to stop this, she wants to start over. She likes this
arraignment too much, and him just too little. What does he do


 Another dark night. Street lights hit the entrance of a
Brooklyn apartment building on the corner of a small city
street. Time surrounding this apartment building is in a pause
of action. Anticipation fills the area around the door for
someone to come out, or at least for someone to come to the
door. Time begins to moves slowly it seems, a leaf is seen move
from a nearby tree. The silence in the night is broken by the
sound of a car driving passed signaling a sign that there is
life. Jason comes walking up while looking down at his phone,
leaving one hand slightly behind him for someone. Rachel comes
walking up and grabs the hand, eyes glued to the prize ahead of
her, the apartment building. Jason is looking for information on
his phone, and once he finally looks up from his phone he says,

"This is it. 405 Carlton."
Rachel seems a little impatient to get the ball moving, but
in her way of life impatience is key. Patience does not exist,

 Jason is used to her rushed moves and quick tone, he slowly
tries to find the apartment number to buzz up, "Let me see if
they are home. They're at 4F I think."

 But of course, Rachel takes the initiative and makes her
way to the intercom preparing herself and getting her finger
ready to push, "They're home."

 She buzzes 4F. No answer. Her impatience level goes through
the roof, and she is drenched in a stressful aura. She takes a
few breaths, and after those few deep breathes Rachel begins to
look disappointed. But then there are more crackling noises
coming from the intercom and a man's voice, "Yes?"

 Rachel regains her excitement, and with a smirk and a lean
in towards the intercom she releases an enthusiastic, "Hey!"

 Jason follows suit to lean in and speak into the intercom
with no room for him thanks to Rachel needing to take up the
entire space to able to enjoy herself, "Hey whats up, we're both
here." Rachel basically yelling into the intercom.

 A buzzer goes off, the door is clicked open and he looks to
Rachel to exchange a glance but she is all ready getting herself
inside and to their apartment. Entering the building, the door
closes behind them with a sound as if it's a giant wooden gate
closing with a bang behind them. Jason feels trapped inside.
Rachel was all ready at the elevator, button pushed, by the time
Jason moved away from the closed door and made his way to her.
The doors open and she stands in getting that button pushed.
Jason enters in the elevator as the doors begin to close,
hitting them back open, and goes to stand beside her as the
doors come to meet together, one more time, to close in the
space between them. Inside the elevator is slightly painful to
him, why aren't they saying anything? They've done this so many
times now it's like one of those moments your find yourself in a
car with a family member where you don't need to say anything
because you're so used to doing this trip with each other
together what is there really to say? Doors to the elevator
finally open for Rachel, she goes to walk down the fourth floor
hallway smelling a strong odor of incense. There is the faintest
of sounds creeping from the same direction as the smell. At the
end of the hallway, a door is seen cracked open by the smallest
sliver. A fog of incense pours out of the cracks of the door.
Jason goes to knock on it, even though it is all ready open. The
door swings open, "Hey!" comes from inside.

 Rachel and Jason both reply quickly with a "Hey!" and are
quickly brought inside. The door is swung open, Rachel looks for
a missing element, as Jason analyzes Sean. He is standing
confidently wearing a nice enough shirt on, not looking to
impressive. White sneakers, that could look whiter, and holding
a cigarette in his hand. Rachel goes to ask a question burning
inside of her, "Where's Jess?"

 Sean picks up on her suspicion, a suspicion that perhaps
Jess is not there and only Sean will be with them this evening
making it awkward for them to leave now that they are all ready
there. This has happened before, and in Rachel's opinion, it's
not the same amount of fun without Jess. A laugh finds its way
out of Sean's mouth, and it reassures Rachel that everything is
going as planned. Jason couldn't care as much as Rachel about
any of this, because to him, this hangout is not something he
finds as fun.

 "She's over in the kitchen."

 A small sound is heard reaching from the kitchen. Jason
looks over to see her leg but nothing else, Jess cries out, "We
got tequila!"

 Rachel is content in knowing Jess is there, and that there
is tequila. The drink of choice to get the blood pumping,

 Walking into the apartment, it is noticeably a basic young
adult's apartment. It has it's rustic wood furniture, carpet
rugs, fun little knick knacks. There's no need to be shown
around, they've been there plenty of times before. After sitting
for what seems like past times of eternity in the rooms of this
apartment, Jason has gotten to know these rooms very well.

 Jess holds on to her drink, with a tight grip. Meddling the
glass, turning the ice around the rim and anticipating the sip.
A rush to the head. "How was getting here?" she takes a sip. She
moves as fluid as the drink moves down her throat. Her long red
hair whips around her as Sean drags her close and tight next to

 "It was easy." Jason says.

 "Yeah it was easy," Rachel smiles, a small smile. Greetings
are out of the way and the acknowledgment of her lack of a
tequila glass is making her once again, impatient "where's the

 Jess laughs loudly with excitement, "In the kitchen!"

 Of course, the kitchen. Rachel goes to get one while Jason
remains with Sean and Jess, trying to hold a smile. Jess seems
to be having a great time all ready, especially now that she has
that drink coming her way. "It's only been about two minutes"
Jason realizes to himself.

 Sean makes a gesture to Jason to sit at the couch placed in
the middle of the room. Looking to it, Jason feels it's touch
will be that of a potato sack. He does not want to be here. He
never truly wants to be here in these situations. Thinking back
on times with Rachel when it wasn't like this, he has to think
back a very long time, and for them that's 2 years.

On warm fall days, when you could step on a few leaves

crackling in the pathway in which they walked on. It smells of
pine, lake water, and soft ground. It is on these days, when
they come around each year, does Jason find himself remembering
the beginning days with Rachel. Which were the best days. Her
eyes would be crystalized in his mind for days after their first
meeting. An imprint on his life, he knew he could not let her
go. She was the girl he met and she understood himeasily and
right away, meaning: she knew what to say or what to do to make
him do the things she needed him to do for her. That sense of
accomplishment kept him around, he knew of nothing better than
Rachel. But with the change of times, so came the change of
their relationship. Her more so than him became affected by the
desire of change in human society. The desire to want something
more than just the one thing you have. It was accompanied by
social media, connection to everyone at all times, searching, at
all times, and communication, at all times. Throughout the years
it has become a never ending cycle of connection to everyone. It
was so easy for so many to find someone to connect with, which
is ultimately a desire of the human kind. Connection.

 Dating Phone Applications began the opening of doors to
numerous possibilities to meet new people. Eventually it became
taboo to not try it out, trying out the new update, the fun
design to be able and see what else was out there. Most of
people are diagnosed with ADD, or ADHD, which triggered the
creation of drugs for the mind. Drugs to control the mind, and
help the mind get on the right brainwave, the rightful course.
We are given the power of ultimate focus, which has been deemed
the cure of these diseases. Being labeled ADD or ADHD has become
like the inevitability to one day needing glasses, due to the
declining state of your eyes from the constant strain and use
from a screen. It is from the constant use of using your eyes
and mind to absorb information, between your long searches for
human companionship to needing to know the accurate information
at all times. To know a constant daily to yearly updates to
technology was the beginning of people slowly losing control of
their own mind from the basis of time in it's normal order.

 So many younger kids in this current time and generation
are using these applications on a faster basis then you may have
ever thought someone could do. Younger generations as infants
are born without a coloring book to understand the world or
maybe a Dr. Seuss book to understand their language and the
human mentality, but a piece of technology as their companion in
raising their minds being more than their own parent and more of
a friend then an actual friend. It has even become rare now to
see someone in a committed, monogamous relationship. Humans, as
a society, have continued to grow deeper into this highly
connected relationship with technology that it has become the
relationship of their lives. They have their partner, their
device, to comfort them, feed them, and ultimately be the one
there always. A person is so fickle nowadays, there is more
trust and understanding between a human to technology then it be
from a human to a human.

 Then there are those who oppose all of this. There are
those who try to live life connected through human instincts,
human ways of life, and not this cold detached life of
technology connection that they see it as. Riots have broken out
onto the streets, and all over the world. Cell phone
demonstrations by members of a newly formed "terrorist" group
whose sole purpose is to show to the world the negatives of life
filled with technology while living in a world dominated by
nature. It goes against the very nature of humans life, which
has always meant to be a part of nature.

 Jason is one of the few, who resemble someone you might as
well have known during a time where all of this was just
beginning. Someone with his own opinion, ideas, and the desire
of one person with whom he can connect with. Only one person. It
is common, in this current day in age, where a fun hangout
situation might be to: get a group together, do some drugs, and
go somewhere with the ability to scan you in. A scan of your
phone sending a push notification out to whoever else is checked
in at that same club you have checked into. It sends it out to
the people on the app you have a relationship with.

 And it's with these hangouts, it's with these situations,
where Jason is just different.

With that, Jason goes to respond in the only way he likes

to, passive aggressively. Moving deeper into the room means time
will be spent in this apartment, and he's just trying to get out
and get to wherever it is they are going and get it over with.
Jess tries to loosen him up by using her drink, "Tequila?"

 She tries tempting him with a sip of her beverage in hopes
to get another side out of him. In what seems like to him as
slow motion, Jason feels a heavy weight in his hand in reaching
for her drink. The effort in taking an extra sip of someone
else's glass, meaning more than his own glass he'll inevitably
have, is simply painful for him. It has been a long time coming
that he would one day want to just slap a drink out of someone's
hand or throw one given to him in an effort to show in his anger
how he truly feel about having a drink. It's become so forced on
him by everyone around to drink in order to have a good time. Of
course, it's rare to put the words "to his rescue" and the name
Rachel in one sentence, but Rachel is heard from the kitchen
saving him from this sip he wishes he didn't have to take, "I'm
getting him one."

 But before Jason could feel an attempt of help from Rachel
even if she didn't realize she was helping him, Jess helps pour
a sip down his throat from her glass, smiling as she does it.
Jason sips the smallest amount back and releases his mouth to do
the only thing he knew he could do to appease them and help them
ignore his odd behavior, he goes to make a movement towards the
couch. Sean gives a look to Jason, noticinghow tense he is by
his demeanor. Putting a hand to Jess's back, the two of them
move forward to Jason for all of them to make themselves
comfortable in the apartment. Rachel comes back with drinks
throwing Jason's right into his hand, some of it spilling to the
ground. She brings her attentive focus back to the group and
plopping herself down on the couch, "Ok!"

 There's an awkward pause after the drinks have been brought
out, and it hovers over them like a smoke bomb had just gone
off. Jason feels for his phone. Is someone messaging him? Please
someone message him to take him out of this moment, just for a

 They sit facing Sean and Jess as they sit on two separate
chairs facing them. They all look at each other and continue to
drink sitting in a silence that is almost on par with torture.
Nothing interesting is usually said at these things between
them, and it's odd they even continue seeing each other given
that this is what keeps happening. Living in such a large place
and in the time era they dwell in, they should be hooking
themselves up with good conversation as well as party animals.
The smallest conversation would begin, it would include the
ideas of the night and the alternatives of where it would go,
but it almost always comes right back to the same exact place
they initially agreed upon. Which even that place is the same
place they end up going to.

 Being in the circle of disappointment of knowing his night
wouldn't go beyond RAM, Jason takes a sip and chokes hard on it.
Spilling most of his drink to the ground he couldn't have been
happier. Hacking on his lugs, he apologizes and goes to stand up
to get himself out of the room, which is what he wants very
badly. But Rachel gets up first to go get him paper towels,
leaving him with Jess who gets close to him and grabs the
nearest tissues on the table and starts to wipe off the liquid
from his pants laughing. In an attempt of being reassuring Sean
says, "You're good man. Don't worry about it."

 Jason gives a short smile while Jess starts to stoke his
crotch with the hand trying to clean up the mess on his pants,
forget about the massive spill on the floor. Jason looks to Sean
quickly, but he's off at a nearby drawer taking something out of
it, the drugs more than likely. And even if he did share a
glance moment with Sean that his girlfriend was stroking his
crotch, Sean would not care. Rachel comes back with a few paper
towels, only a few, and begins wiping off any remaining liquid
from the floor. With Jess at his side stroking him still, not
getting aroused, and Rachel below him cleaning, Jason shoots up
from the couch with his half empty glass and eyes glued in the
direction of the kitchen. He needs to get out of that room,
"Thanks. I got it."

 Making his strides out of the room, he almost collapses in
the kitchen on a wall and a hand on a counter in victory of
hiding away for this moment from them. The box Sean takes out
from the drawer is brought to the coffee table in between the
couch and the two chairs Sean and Jess are sitting on. White
pills inside, and instruments to take drugs with. Jason heads
towards the liquor in the kitchen, feeling a little fumbled in
the head. He looks at the tequila and knows it's not what he
wants and he tries to think of alternatives for his glass. Maybe
water with ice would look exactly the same..

 Laughing comes from the other room. Jason feels around his
pockets for his phone and looks at the time, 10:25, they've only
been there for 25 minutes. Going to the sink he pours in water,
grabs some ice, and takes a sip of his water and gives a smile
less like the one he's been giving to the others. It's to
himself, in a hidden room away from them all. The laughing from
them indicates the beginning of the drug intake, preparation
beginning. He can feel the pull to the other room, and with the
successful move to water in his cup instead of tequila is more
than enough for him to be able to endure the events soon to
come. The drug part was never the problem, even though his brain
thinks otherwise, because when he is under the influence of
drugs he at least can find some happiness in this world he calls
life. Finally leaving the kitchen he finds Rachel jumping up to
give him his part of the drugs, she's nervously smiling -
excited, "Here."

 Without realizing he dies, Jason takes a breath before
grabbing it from her. The room notices his hesitance, the same
hesitance he has tried so hard to hide this entire time. It
should be ok they all do this, if it wasn't it was proof he had
wasted so many days doing what he is about to do. Understanding
the problem is far from his acknowledgement at this point. He
takes the pill for them. He never will know why. Rachel is happy
and nods at him as she slowly goes to take it as well, sipping
it back with his glass of tequila, which in her glass is real.
Sean looks for music on his phone, picking something and
standing in need of, "Anyone want a cig?"

 Rachel, "I'd love a cig."

 No one gets ready for one. Jason goes for his pack and
shakes them to feel how many he has. Not many. Standing up he
goes towards a window in the apartment, opens it, and puts a
cigarette in his mouth sticking it out the window. Looking out
the window he can see other windows of the night, some with
bright lights on, shinning bright for him to see. He tries to
count how many windows has life within them, and which ones of
the lighted ones he can see what is they are doing. Something
more fun than what he is doing he imagines. Different lives
through each window he wants to know what is like to have more
than one option to his life, and if society is able to give him
that option. Lighting the cigarette, the smoke makes waves back
into the room from the breeze outside. Pushing the smoke out
with a free hand, he tries to breath but stuck not being able to
from the smoke and the wind. His mind becomes completely closed.
Dark sensations surround him as he tries to do a basic human
move. To stand, to walk, to talk, to do anything was not right
to him. It all felt heavy, it all felt wrong. The drugs couldn't
be kicking in now, he just took the pill. He tries to focus his
mind in the room, a room filled with thick cigarette smoke.
Sounds of the others are head circling around him. They're all
having conversations of the best way to get to the club, who
else could join, and an excited nervous energy in the room for
anticipation of a fun night. Jason realizes at this moment, with
what he can with his mind, that the only conversation these four
will share tonight will be how they will get to the club.

 They all get into Jason's car as they drive into the night
laughing, boozing, and swapping spit. Driving the car and
looking ahead, Jason tries ignoring the action to the side and
around him. Hands waver around him, yearning and reaching for
the window button. Cigarettes are lit once again, and smoke is
filling up inside. His window button couldn't send a stronger
vibe up his spine, his hand in reaction goes to push it faster
than anything he's done tonight. Once it is pushed down and the
window cracks open, the air and the breeze of the night rips the
smoke out and away from his mouth and nose. It was as if he was
relieving himself from a gas mask and he can finally live again.

They drive down in the night, smoke spewing out of all four

 Reaching the club, the area around it is bare and almost
inhabitant looking. Running out of the car Sean and Jess call
out to Jason and Rachel once the door is slammed back closed,
"Meet us inside!"

Parking the car, Jason puts the car in park and his hand
feels light in doing so. The drugs are beginning to truly kick
in and he feels Rachel looking into his eyes. She looks deep
into them, looking for any sign of drug activity. It being
there, she sees it, and lets him go going for the door to leave
into the club. She asks him before doing so, "You're ok, right?"

 She never asks Jason how he is, not for a long time.
Lacking the ability to truly speak, a common trait of Jason on
drugs, he nods his head with a smile and wants nothing more than
to connect with Rachel. They leave the car, and head into the
club where they dance their way once inside. They find the other
two on the dance floor, and all four are together. Jess grabs
Jason to dance with her, her eyes staring him down, she wants
him. Jason looks back for Rachel, but she isn't there anymore.
Pulling himself to Jess he begins to give in to the dance with
her, almost forgetting the small moment he had shared with
Rachel. In the distance, the lights on the floor hit Sean and
Rachel and Jason can see them on the dance floor groping,
kissing, his tongue down her throat. Jason looks back to a
hungry Jess wanting him. Her body close up against his, he
forgets everything else, and sees only her. His hands begin to
move, feel, and touch. He wants her now.



 Jason opens his eyes in a musky room, where he is somehow
the last one up. All the clothes in the room have disappeared,
along with the people that go with them. "Such a dirty bed" he
thinks as he shoots up from the bed, his clothes lay alone and
empty close to him. His eyes - bug eyed. Noticing the size of
his eyes from a mirror facing the bed, he tries to close them -
rub a hand on them, relax then. It's difficult. Excess emotion
beings to pour out of him, clogged up inside of him from the
drugs clouding him mind. Like heat accumulates sweat from your

Slipping his pants on, he breathes in with a sound.
Pushing up from the bed, he moved towards a creaked open door.
The smell of bacon, and laughs are heard down the hallway.

Exiting the bedroom, the sounds and smells lead hims towards a
kitchen where everyone who was missing, is now found. Eggs,
drinks and coffee are placed around the table. Jason is still
waking up, "Well...this is nice."

 "Sit down." Sean gets the chair pulled out.
"Want me to make you a plate?" Jess offers.
"I got it."
Overwhelmed, Jason goes to fix himself his own breakfast.

Looking for Rachel, she is found sitting at a table on the other
side of the kitchen, her phone. Trying to peak over without her
noticing, he can see she is on tinder (or some dating app). He
tries to not let it bother him, and continues his action in
eating the breakfast given to him. No one says much as they all
eat. It looks almost routine. All of their brains are dead, and
are physically and mentally raped by the night before. Sean gets
up, finished eating and disposing of his plate, "I'm going to
take a shower." He kisses Jess's forehead before leaving.

 Once gone, Jess looks at Jason and at Rachel, who is still
occupied by her phone, to say "I need to be getting going myself
you guys."

 The sound of leaving from Jess is a signal to Rachel
finally, and she gets off her phone to say, "So tonight -"

 It's left hanging in the air. Jason doesn't look at Rachel
and he doesn't want to hear the rest of what she needs to say.
He tries to recall a dead emotion inside of him towards her from
last night. Leaving the car together, he tries to remember what
it felt like inside of him to actually want to be out with her.
But with sleep comes the reality of the next day. For her to
continue the next morning with the intention to plan another
night, he couldn't care less to even look at her. Jess bites,

 "It's Monday." Jason finally gets Rachel's attention,
shooting down Jess's remark, in which he saw as wood to her

 "Adam and Melissa just invited us over." Rachel puts out
plain and simply.

 "Oh I can't do that." Jess snaps out of being interested,
her mind is all ready coming up with other solutions for the
rest of her day.

"Why not?"

 "No no. Bad...bad time last time. There's some people -
like you guys - I can hangout with. But some people - some
people go way too far."

 "I like hanging out with them." Rachel isn't scared of Adam
and Melissa.

 "Ha!" Jess jolts up for her seat, the sound of a shower
could be heard turned on.
"I better go hop in that shower so I can make it to work on
time." Jess is heading towards the sound of the shower, "If you
guys need a shower hop in you're always welcomed." Jess walks
away with a smile leaving Jason and Rachel alone at the table
and alone in the apartment. Begrudgingly, Jason spits out

 "It'll be fun." Rachel is back on her phone.

 Jason gives her a moment for her to notice she isn't even
looking at him but rather her phone, "Looking for something?"

 Rachel whispers a "hm?"
"Can we head out? I need to get going as well."
"One. Second..."
Jason waits as Rachel finishes typing. It couldn't be too

soon for her to finish. Why does he even wait for her? Why is he
even waiting to spend more time with her?


 Together, they sit on a public train heading back to their
apartment. Both looking hungover, messy, Jason unnerved, and
Rachel typing on her phone more. Neither one is talking to the
other. Jason goes to rest his head back, feeling the vibrations
from the rocking of the train. Bump. Bump. His head rolls on the
metal side to side. Slightly. Slowly. Not too much, he's just
sitting there. The morning air is sick, and wet. He's sweating a

 Looking to Rachel, hoping she is off her phone - she is.
But her eyes wonder the train. She is looking around for good
looking people. He's seen this before, it's routine, its normal,
it is what it is - to her. It's one of her traits he finds that
makes her not a good person. Then, when there's nothing more for
her to look at around her, she's back to her phone looking again
to her social media.

 The train members themselves aren't much different than
Rachel, Jason thinks to himself. He sees only people on their
phones, with their headphones plugged in and there is no one at
all who does not have headphones in. Except for Jason. Looking
to Rachel she is even in the process of putting hers on as well.
No one is connecting with the people they are riding with, no
one is talking to anyone, they are all on their phones. The
train moves fast down the track, his head leaning back again to
the metal and he it sways back and forth, looking up to the
ceiling of the train car. He can see the wear and tear of the
train and the numerous possibilities of what may have happened
to cause them.

 A man sits looking at one of those 1 Hour Energy shots,
bottle empty. He's middle aged, hair beginning to whiten, he has
no phone on him, making him a rare individual on the train. But
instead of a phone, is this empty shot bottle of an energy
drinking, of course he drank it all. A finger rubbing against
it, in a stroke like manner. He is a man who is sad he needs the
boost of energy to get on with his day. The hour is early, and
he could have a day full of work ahead of him. Reading the side
of the bottle, understanding more of the beverage he just shot
back, his eyes squint behind glasses. Putting a hand to his
heart, it's beating fast and it doesn't feel normal to him. It's
too late to turn back now, the chemical reactions of the shot
course through his blood. If only he could talk to Jason about
the guilt of taking something they shouldn't just because they
feel it's what they need to get on with their day. He wishes he
could be his friend and together help each other not do these
things to themselves.

 The doors open, just like that, and Rachel is up and out
for they have reached their stop. The doors close on Jason as he
goes to leave, because he tries to look back at the older man
one more time, for he knew he more than likely will never see
him again. And wether that man knew it or not, they shared a
moment on the train, a moment in which Jason feels he had
successfully connected with someone on the grounds of similary
agreeing and understanding. Though they never spoke a single

Entering their apartment, Jason is holding his breath, but

for what? Their apartment has the nicest smell in the building,
and it's not saying much because the smell can be compared
almost dying flowers. It isn't the smell he's holding his breath
for but to see, and hopes he doesn't , if there was someone
still living on the couch. And there is.

 Rachel, excited to get inside, quickly goes in and makes a
fast bolt to their bedroom. The apartment is small with the
bathroom, kitchen and living roomset in one room. For the
bedrooms, there are two doors that lead to two the two different
rooms. Its not necessarily a messy apartment, all the pieces
brought in bring a sense of a good enough living situation. But
things feel a little used in, un attended to and possibly smells
a little. This is not Jason's doing, or even Rachel for that
matter. It is because of the other people who are inhabiting
this space with them. Jason slowly walks into the apartment as
if not to wake anyone. The second bedroom door closed, and a
body lays hidden by blankets on the couch. The window in the
room holding no curtains, and the bright day sun beaming in
trying to work it's magic, but failing.

 Suddenly, the closed bedroom door rips open and its their
roommate, Derik. He is a young, short, and a flaming gay boy
from California. His hair is a fumble of mess on top of his
head, as if a dead peacock found its way up there, landed, and
realized it reached it's worst potential in life by landing on
this guy head, died by killing itself and has put itself in a
weird position to try and save this kid's appearance. There's
this small, weird smile on his face, as if there is so much he
wants to say but feels he can't say it. He's in his underwear,
most of the time, and sometimes draped over by a over sized fur
coat. Sometimes.

 "Hey guys..."

 Jason is disappointed this is happening. He is disappointed
that a conversation involving everyone in the apartment was
about to commence. That body at any moment is about to come
alive on the couch, and Rachel will come in and join the party.
Derik is a roommate that came into their lives by force. It was
a forced roommate match up, from a third party helper, no helps
thanks to them. All of this meaning of course: no one knew each
other before living together. Which could be a good thing for
some people living in a big city, but this was one of those
cases where that is not so.

 Derik's voice brings Rachel out of their bedroom and back
into the main room. She likes to play "sexual" flirtation with
Derik, "Hi." Rachel, excited, sounds ready for sex when greeting
Derik. Though it's obviously not meant to be for him to make a
real move, he loves it.

 Jason, nonchalant, walks in ignoring Rachel and the body
slowly moving on the couch and responds directly without making
eye contact to Derik, "Hey."

 Derik is still smiling, "Had fun last night?" He's so
curious in their life.

 He takes a big slap down with his bony ass down on the side
of the couch where the body on it is not hitting. Rachel gets
her body in position to tell the story of her night. The thought
of the night before, the hangout with Sean and Jess and the
crazy fun she had, Rachel laughs out loud thinking about it.
Derik, in turn, laughs with her even though he has no idea what
had happened yet. The body on the couch begins to make soft
girly sighs as the blob of sheets move around to reveal a short
white thin girl with long brown hair and then she speaks,
"...Good morning..." Arielle smiles, her face half hidden by the
blanket resting on her face.

 A glimpse break in the blanket by her feet show a bright
white surface of skin. Derik goes for her leg and puts his cold
hand to it. His hands seemingly are always cold. She doesn't
move from the feeling of his cold hand, but smiles. Derik
accompanies the cold touch with, "Good morning sleepy head. I
got cold hands, sorry."

 "Aw, baby, it's ok. We good. We gucci."

 Jason gets the hell out of the room and heads to his
bedroom. The swift intensity in his exit brings Derik to notice
it. Rachel however goes to get some water and get into it with
the other two. She takes a sip of water and quenches her deep
thirst. Looking back to Derik, she asks in turn about Derik's
night, "Another night?"

 "It was...a night."

 "Yo. Seriously though. What a night." Arielle manages to

 "What happened?" Rachel sounding just as curious as Derik.

 "Well..." Derik gets nervous in saying more. "Well. We had
some people over."

 "Ok? I don't care?" Rachel says flat out.

 Arielle steps in, "I had some people stop by for some

 "Oh. Again, I don't care you guys."

 "It's ok. It's ok, nothing. Nothing bad happened." Derik
tries to reassure everything fine.

 "I'm sure it's all fine, the apartment looks exactly the
same as any day. Business, go all right?"

 "Made some good money, yeah, thanks baby." Arielle melts
back into her blankets.

 The door to Jason and Rachel's bedroom is open, and Jason
is in there trying to separate himself from the rest of the
group. He sits himself down on a messy un made bed to take his
shoes off. Numerous occasions have they come home and their bed
is occupied by either Derik or others. On a list of anxieties in
his life, Jason's is way too long.

 Their room is cleaner than the rest of the apartment,
because he cleans it constantly. Minimal artwork on the walls,
and no curtains to hide the rising sun he loves to wake up to
the energy of morning light and not an alarm clock or a beeping
sound coming from his phone. He successfully gets his shoes off
and crashes on the bed. Listening to the sounds of their
conversation from the other room he stares up at the ceiling.
Arielle was a girl that was forced into his life as well, just
like Derik. But it was Derik that brought her in. One morning,
Jason woke up to the sound of a dog barking in his living. This
was odd to him of course because, no one in the apartment has a
dog. Opening his bedroom door to look out, he finds a blob of
sheets on the couch, and a dog staring at him from a top of
them. She's been living off their couch ever since, for free.
The dog in the situation ended up being one of her client's, she
agreed to watch that night. Of course it was a dog's bark that
signals the first night of her staying in their apartment. And
nothing against dogs, it wasn't even a dog you could be excited
about living with. It was a very yappy Yorki.

 These memories bring Jason to a lull in the back of his
mind. He thinks into his life at a time when connecting to a
person was more to do with the words and actions you did for
them, rather than what software update you were on to in able to
express yourself better.

 Virtual consoles have been created to link up to cell
phones to be able to put you in a virtual reality to see your
friends, meet new people, and some developers delved a bit
deeper to connect people with all their senses. Some machines
have the ability to work with poppers, a solution that when
sniffed heightens the senses and relaxes the body. It has been
designed so when you strap the console onto your head, newly
advanced poppers are sprayed out from the designed holes near
the nose and mouth. This new potency of poppers sets your mind
in a delusional and aroused like state with it's main objective
to heighten the entire experience of using a virtual console.
Brain damage, loss of sight, are just a few of common side
affects for overdosing and/or overuse of this particular
console. But even with the news highlighting tragic stories from
over use of this console has not stopped the increase in sales.
It is very common to find it in many young adults home, in fact
there is one by Jason and Rachel's bed side. It has replaced the
vibrating dildo as the most purchased sex item by women in the
last year. Jason sometimes has dreams of seeing Rachel using it,
pleasuring herself on their bed while in a very high state of
illusion. He could try and offer himself as an alternative
solution, but most of the time her main desire is to use the
virtual console instead of him. The sight of her doing this to
herself is a sight he cannot stomach, no matter how much he
tries to accept her he knows she is just not right for him.

 His eyes open.

 Jason hears the sound of the TV playing in the living room.
Some hours have slipped by him. His door is still cracked open,
and he looks for Rachel but she is no where in sight. Moving up
from laying down he feels uncomfortable waking up and wearing
his clothes from earlier. It looks as if he didn't move much on
the bed and the movement to sit up his body cannot move with
him. His body wishes it was still asleep.

 Before opening the door to see who it is that is out there,
Jason takes a breath in and prepares himself. At this point
doing this every single time he enters the apartment or the
living room is starting to become exhausting and a waste of
energy. Opening the door all the way, Derik is revealed to him
on the couch in his underwear with a fur coat and eating trail
mix while engrossed in whatever it is thats on the TV.

 "This movie...is so good." Derik says while chewing on an
almond. He goes to say something else but doesn't. Jason looks
to the bathroom and notices the light is on.

 "It's Arielle." Derik answers for Jason.

 When she is in there, she is in there. Forever. The anger
boiling inside of him knowing she is in there is very noticeable
and easily readable from Jason's facial expression. Derik likes
to look at Jason to see his facial reactions, especially when
Derik knows more about Rachel and Jason has to hear it first
from him, "And Rachel... -" Derik slowly looks for it, but Jason
does not give any facial reaction. He is aware he looks for it
and refuses to grant him that satisfaction in seeing him
distressed, "...left for work.

 Moving on from the tension Derik and Jason quickly build
over the smallest conversation, Jason is curious to see what it
is he is watching. Analyzing it, it is some old black and white
film with some people in a car partaking in a road trip. It
looks very boring, and not something he can focus on with it
being Derik watching it with him.

 "Well I got work soon." Jason tries to leave the room.

 "Gotta love those night shifts."

 "Actually, I don't. -" Jason has more to his sentence but
Derik interrupts, "I don't either!" Derik says while giving off
his chuckle.

 Jason finally finishes his thought, " - And it's not the
night shift, it's the middle of the morning."

 The bathroom is still occupied with Arielle. Jason takes
out his phone and checks to see the weather or anything
productive for him to take his mind off of the occupied bathroom
and for him to get the hell out of there. Back to Derik's black
and white TV movie, all the characters reach a point in the film
where they need to look at a paper map to figure out directions.
Instead of using their phones or a GPS, like anyone would today,
they are using only their brains and a paper map to figure out
how to get where they are going. Jason continues to preoccupy
his last few moments of resting at home before work looking
through his phone, not at all watching the film. Derik on the
other hand notices the film and notices Jason and using his eyes
looking back and forth between the two images, his mind is
showing some sign of a spark. It's as if he is on the brink of
understanding the concept of people relying on technology over
their own brain. The revelation is like a sign of God reaching
out to him. Jason can feel the oddity that is the stare of Derik
on him.


 "Are you aware that I need a job?"
"Thats up to you."
On the TV screen the film shows the actors in the film
arguing over the direction by way of the paper map. Derik looks
to it again, his eyes showing the wonder of his realization. He
goes to speak again but Jason cuts him off anyway, "You're on
something." Jason says definitively.

 Once again his words leave him and he politely responds to
Jason's question, "On to something?"

 "Did Arielle give you something?"

 "You know, funny story, I found out her name isn't

 "Like the mermaid."

 "Right, exactly like the mermaid. Which I love. But her
name is -" His eyes take form in their bug eyed shape "Mary. Her
name is Mary like the mother of our savior Jesus Christ."

 "Arielle's real name - is Mary?"

 "I know right? The most basic name. Basic compared to

 Water noises cease in the bathroom and both their eyes dart
to the door in anticipation for them to open. But from past
history of her bathroom usage, Jason knows she's still got some
time in there, "Can she hear us?"

 "I can never hear anything outside of that bathroom. When
the fan is on in that bathroom, it's on - loud."

 "Well I want to ask -"

 "Like that time you guys came home and I thought I had
transported myself to France from the bathtub." Derik laughs so
loudly that Arielle does hear it from within the bathroom.

 "How long is she saying?" Jason finally lays out, not
caring to remember Derik's past drug stories.

 Derik hesitates a response, results to an innocent
approach, "Until she finds a place?"

 "I still find it funny - waking up one morning to a dog and
a girl on the couch my mom gave me for this apartment."

 "Wait - was funny, or do you mean it wasn't funny?"
"It wasn't funny Derik."
With a smile, "I'm sorry. ... At least the dog isn't here."
Jason goes to get away from the room, Derik feels detached,

Jason notices. He let's him know he means business, in hopes to
soften the blow of his jerk motion out of the room, "I gotta get
to work."

 Trying to be cheerful Derik replies, "Have fun."
Jason goes for his bag, his shoes and his keys. Jason looks
at himself in his bedroom mirror, he looks disheveled. He hasn't
showered. It's going to be one of those days. Taking a pack of
spliff cigarettes with him, he heads to the door, not before
taking a quick glance of the bathroom door that is still and
will be occupied. Looking into the apartment from the front
door, Jason sees Derik watching him go, with that same smile.
"Have fun." Jason throws back at him, and with that Jason is out
the door.

 Derik gives it a minute, before he wants to run and do
something in his bedroom. He takes a look to the bathroom door
to see how much longer Arielle is going to be, if she's coming
out he'd rather just talk to her. He thinks to himself with a
decisive nod, "another 30 minutes." Going to his bedroom, he
slowly closes the door, looking to the virtual console sitting
on his bed. Turning on his phone, he connects the two and signs
onto a sex app. Scrolling down he finds guys profiles that shows
links to their Facebook, Instagram Snapchat profiles and other
social media. A downloading bar appears once you pick what you
want and once that is finished the system is ready to go.
Pulling down his pants, he is all ready excited. The man of
choice: beefy hispanic. The console squirts out the enhanced
poppers and the real affect begins on him. Alone in his room, he
enjoys his device.
Outside in the back of the apartment there is a small space
for parking a car. Jason gets into his car putting the keys in
and starts the engine and it has trouble starting. He tries it
again, and again it doesn't start. One more time, it finally
works. "The beauty of a real car" he thinks to himself. The
development of self driving cars has become a major commodity in
today's society. A car that drives you where you need to go is
the first step of universal laziness. But to Jason, driving a
car himself is the universal concept that people like to be in
control. A human trait he hopes will never die out, being in
control of your own life. Pulling his car out and driving out to
the street, he notices everyone outside walking around, or
exiting places or doing anything - they are most on their phones
with their eyes and heads looking down. You could not find one
person walking these streets he is on without their faces glued
to the device in their hands. It's almost robotic. As he
approaches a city light, a car is comes fast and crashes into

Chapter Four 4

 Opening his eyes is hard. The lights flutter, and they
screech. Or is that the sound of the wheels moving? Location is
not clear. A face appears before Jason, her eyes a piercing
green and her hair is long and straight to perfection. Jason's
face quints and scrunches as he begins to wake his face up. She
is a nurse in her late 20's and he can't make her out. There's
something about her that he has never seen before so up close
and in such a vulnerable state. She's just a woman, what can be
so new about her?

 "Hi." He speaks to her.

 The nurse doesn't say anything. She has a smile but it's
hard to focus on it with his head throbbing, and sight wavering.
She leans him up a little to check his eyes and his current
state of health. It is with this motion, Jason can see with a
little more clearly and a snap into reality. He can see clearly
now that she is a transgender woman. The structure of her face,
the shape of her body, he can see the signs of a man but her
smile and her eyes are purely that of a woman. An abrasive
entrance of another individual bangs into the room removing the
soft air the nurse had in the room. The nurse moves out of the
away and turns to look for the doctor coming into the room, she
could not be any less interested in Jason. The doctor who comes
in, is some idealistic version of a woman. She is in her 40's,
approachable, and is interested in conversing with Jason. Blonde
hair tied into a bun above her head, she gives a simple smile.

 "Hey Jason. So you got hit. By a car?"

 This is news to him. The doctor's hands are rough on his
body, which is easily noticeable to him now compared to the soft
and warm touch of the nurse's. He can't seem to focus well in
the moment he's in with the doctor. It is as if his mind is
everywhere, and yet nowhere. These trapped door sensations in
his mind is highly comparable to that of when he does Molly.

 "A car...hit you? Is that correct?" the doctor tries again.

 "I don't know. You tell me. I guess so. Yeah. I was in my
car -"

 The interaction between the two of them pushes him to react
defensively. The doctor doesn't respond to it nor react to it as
well. She analyzes Jason's eyes and then checks her apple watch
to see if she has been in there for a reasonable and long enough
time. Going to put a hand on his head to see if he can find any
injuries, bumps or scars from his lack of concentration, but he
finds nothing. His head is fine, unharmed. "Such luck", he
thinks. The doctor tries to soften her approach now seeing him
waver into a place of worry for his well being. All she can say
is, "You seem fine. .." She drags out the end to think of more
to say, but there isn't more for her to say.

 Feeling for his phone, he checks it and sees he has no new
messages. Habitual for him to check his phone, even in a moment
like this. The doctor reveals her tactic, "I was trying to see
how good your memory is, Jason. I'm sorry if it's a stress to
your brain. I imagine you may not have realized what exactly had
happened to you. Are you stressed?"

 "I feel stressed." Spitting out his words plainly.

 She scratches her head, he looks at her nails digging into
her scalp. The head is such a fragile part of the human body.
Doing different types of drugs in short measurements in life is
just wrong to do to your head. All days on a drug, all times he
put his brain through the ride of doing a drug flashes before

 "A self driven car caused the accident -"
"Self driven? Those things are fucking dangerous."
Taken a back by the sharp language, she responds with
elegance and grace, "Yes..it's brought in a lot of people to the

 The doctor notices the nurse still in the room and is
confused as to why she is, "You can go Sam." Her tone is sharp,
cold, and not friendly.

 Jason watches Sam leave the room and notice that she
doesn't give a look back to him. But what he didn't notice, was
that she stayed in the room because she was curious in him. The
way his eyes opened to look at her was something she noticed.
She doesn't look to him when she leaves, but she was thinking
about him the whole time. He too can't stop thinking about her
more than his accident and head injury. Jason wonders how she
was feeling, what she was thinking, and who she was. He is

 Stumbling out of the hospital finally getting himself out
of there and away from that poor excuse of a doctor, the doors
open and close and he finds himself in the sun. He looks around
a bit and sees a few benches, a few people, he looks a little
wried up and anxious and they all seem to notice. Pulling out
his phone looking at it again, and again there's no
notifications. He calls a number:
"Hey. Ash."

 "Jason, where the fuck are you man? Are you alive?"
"Yeah no I'm just..I - no one tried calling?"
"..are you ok?"
"No yeah I'm ok. - I'm just calling because I got into an


 "A self driven car hit right into me. Lost control I guess.
I don't know how to explain a self driving car loosing control
but -"

 "God, those fucking self driven cars. No one is benefiting
from these pieces of shit vehicles."

 "Yeah, no I know -"
"Anything broken, are you broken?"
"No I'm fine, no broken...anything."
Jason takes out a spliff from his pack. One of the empty

benches near him looks really good right about now and he heads
his way over to it.

 "I think I need to take the day." Plopping down.
"Jason you got into an accident. Take the day, take the -"
"Thanks Ash, no yeah I'll be in tomorrow I just... - Yeah I

need a minute." He awkwardly laughs. "Good luck today. See you
The spliff is lit, the phone call is over, and the
relaxation is finally beginning. He does a replay of the car
hitting him in his head. It's crazy to him because the situation
is not his fault, or the driver's fault, it's the car's fault
itself. Not the driver, the car. Self driven cars are the way of
the future, and they are for the lazy ones. People have tried to
sue specific auto industries for incidents they have been in,
but none successful enough to really end the high demand and
market for it. It's crazy to think the car is still in
production. Out of the corner of his eye, it's as if he can feel
her coming outside. Frantic but yet somehow put together, the
nurse Sam comes strutting out of the hospital. Pulling out a
cigarette, she lights it with the wrong end facing the flame,

 She spits out what she inhaled and throws the cig down on
the ground. She feels someone looking at her. Turning to Jason's
stare she turns away from him and goes to leave. But he finds
the words to call out, "You wanna sit?"

 She stops and looks over to Jason holding and puffing on
his spliff. Her stare moves off him ever so quickly and he grabs
her right back in, "Nurse?"

 Sam looks over to him, Jason tries again, "Hi."

 She feels it out by walking a little closer. It's shocking
to her that someone actually is talking to her off the job, her
reasoning for acting so strangely towards him, "Hi." She gives
in to being herself and off the defensive, "I'm sorry about your

 "I'm doing ok. But thanks." He's happy their starting a

 She walks up closer and confidently now and goes to sit
down next to him. In the light, and now being visually active in
the last few hours, Jason can see more of her. You could only
see a smidge of the dark roots in her hair, only so slightly.
It's died blonde, but with a faded sense of red. Her skin,
golden. Noticing his spliff more now with the smoke in her face,
she's wants some, "Can I hit that? If you don't mind. I'm
feeling a little crazed."

 Handing over the spliff to her hands she carefully takes it
to her lips and she inhales deeply with a nice strong force. She
gives her first real smirk as she coughs, quietly, out the

 "There you go." Jason goes to pat her back, but doesn't.
Too much.

 "I'd rather this than a shot. Not needing to get
crazy..needing to chill out."

 "Thanks for the help today -"
She cuts him off, "It's my job."
She's so forward, short and different than most girls. He
finishes his thought, "Self driven car accidents - are they

 "There's been a few. Honestly it's no different than a
regular car crash. People are just getting lazier. We, as a
race, have only been getting lazier as the centuries go on. I
mean drive the damn car. Making a car drive for you. Stupid."

 Taking a another hit, another idea of her pops into his
head, "Are you with Q5?"

 "I've gone to a meeting or two. It's not for me. I'm not
about using technology for everything. But they're on another

 Jason thinks about the time he almost went to a Q5 group
meeting. The "terrorist" group that is against the overuse of
technology. Deemed terrorist by FOX News, it is an organization
trying to show people the harms of technology, but the efforts
are slow proving no thanks to the labeling of being a
"terrorist" group. They've been called "terrorist" because of
the breaking of technology demonstrations that happen, and the
occasional harm it does to those nearby who are not involved,
and in some cases there have been deadly accidents. The over use
of technology has created a loop in time, the group believes,
whether people realize this or not. There are usually four
quarters in every year, four times we change time, and four
times nature changes itself. But the fifth quarter is
representative of the fact that an extra quarter exists. And
that fifth quarter is a never ending cycle of time in which
everyone lives in. The idea that something is available at a
later point in the year is presented sooner and closer no matter
what point of time in the year you are in.

 "I've wanted to go once." Jason finally says. It seems like
a closed off subject for Jason, revealing his involvement and
thoughts with Q5, "I went through a period in my life that kept
me from the real the world. Like I personally sedated myself to
not realize what was going on around me. I'm realizing now
though that it will not like that anymore. It'll become a period
in my life I won't miss."

 "Starting when? -"

 "Now. Starting now. Too much molly. Acid...virtual
consoles. It's rough, it's not me. I'm not doing it as much now
at all anyways. It was crazy. When I was doing it."

 "I've seen so many of my friends here, anywhere, whose
lives get lost in that. They end up moving back to their
parents, and if they don't have those they end up in recovery."

 There was a friend of her's named Louis Fisher. Coming to
the city he was all about the night life, a story we all know
all too well. In some conversations it can even become white
noise, the story of someone addicted to drugs. But it can become
white noise if so many people have these stories, and more
stories are told that tell us not to partake in addiction to
drugs. But it keeps happening anyway, because there are people
out there that make money off of these addictions. And from
those people, it will never stop and for it to become white
noise is good for them because people won't want to listen and
think of other things.

"It's sick."

 "It's sad." Sam says deafeningly, "At least you see it

 Jason feels the weight of disappointment from his life. The
weed is making him think, and feel deeply in his current
situation. He quickly brushes it off and takes the final hit of
the spliff, and kick it.

 "Thanks for sitting down. You seemed a little stand offish
at first."

 "I can be." She looks at him, straight in the eye. He holds
the stare, which for him is rare, "You know, you didn't even
check your phone. Once." She points out.

 "Am I supposed to?" He's confused.

 "Everyone else, I feel like, has to check their phones
every 5 minutes in their day." Sam stands to leave and head back
in, the spliff is kicked after all, "Thanks for wanting me to
sit down."

 It is this conversation with Sam does Jason feel he
actually talked to someone and they listened to him. His mind is
a complex web of thoughts and emotions that you can get lost in,
and if you know Sam many would say the same about her. It is
rare for them to find someone they can just talk to. Jason
personally is surrounded by people who only care about where
they are going in life, what they are doing, and they don't
really care about him. They only care as long as he does right
by them. Watching Sam go, he doesn't want her to. She walks away
with a small bashful smile, hidden from Jason's eyes.

 Jason's makes it back to his apartment. Opening the front
door of his apartment, he finds everyone hanging out in the
living room. Derik is wearing his fur coat once again, Arielle
is knelled down by the coffee tables in the center of the room
oddly bug eyed and holding a massive blunt. Rachel is also home,
she was never went to work today she was out doing something or
someone. The lights in the apartment are all on bright and
beaming down while it's the early afternoon. A cheerful Derik
greets Jason into the apartment, "Hello."
Rachel looks to see who he's talking to, "No work today?"
"I could ask you the same thing." He replies. She doesn't

respond to it and waits for a real response from him and he
gives in, "I got into an accident."

 No emotion is seen from her, or Arielle, or even Derik. In
fact Arielle lights her blunt, Derik is flipping through the TV,
and Rachel says nonchalantly "What happened?"

 "A fucking self driven car hit me."

 Rachel is now giving a shocked reaction, but still doesn't
come close to make sure Jason is all right. It's a little odd
she's acting this way given they've been together for a few
years and they live together, "Oh - my god!" she gets out of
her, borderline fake and forced.

 "Well I was in my car, which is now totaled."
"Fuck, Jason. I need a car."
Jason sees where the conversation is going to go. He could

be missing an arm, he could be dying of a deathly virus due to
the concussion, but instead the conversation is becoming "how
will she get to drive herself around?"

 "I guess I was going to rent a car while it's in the shop."
"A self driven car?" She asks excited.
"A self driven car is what almost killed me today, and you
want me to rent one?"
The two who are having this conversation, which could be

called a personal conversation, openly between these two other
people in the apartment. This never seems to bother Rachel, but
it sure as hell bothers Jason.

 "Yeah! I really want to try one out. Don't you? Marvin has

 Jason looks away from her and at the two watching them
talk. He looks beyond to the bedroom and goes to it, ending this
public display of a couple's conversation. Once in the bedroom
he notices the bed disheveled, their virtual console out and
still on.

 Rachel enters the room, she notices him staring at the
console, "I thought you were at work. I was having some personal

 Jason picks up the console and, for some reason, is
compelled to look inside and see what it was she was looking at
this time. Going to stop him, he manages to hold strength in
this moment and fend her away as he peaks in to see a man with
broad shoulders, unlike Jason, massive hands, unlike Jason, and
a nice size junk. It also happens to be Rachel's Arabic ex
Bruno. Pulling it off he hears Rachel laughing, "Like it matters
Jason, come on. We fuck other people anyway."

 He doesn't disagree or agree. Taking his clothes off, he
settles in, maybe take a shower. Rachel goes for the virtual
console and turns it off. "I mean, you use it too."

 Jason nods his head. Goes to gab his towel and walks to the
bathroom, away from her. She watches him go and to herself she
says, "Honestly."

 In the shower, Jason lets the water fall on his naked body.
His head, throbbing still from the recent accident of that
morning. Putting a hand to his head he notices it is not his,
but it is Sam's. The water falling down his face, running
through his eyes, he feels as if he can see clearer than he ever
has. For too long had he not been able to see, to think clearly.
What is she to look like underneath her clothes? A transgender,
he is so curious. It doesn't matter to him what he finds, he
just knows that it is him who is dominating her, and that is all
he needs to know. The shower becomes their place of worship to
each other as he allows himself to taste her lips, feel her
skin. He hopes it is exactly like this that he feels within his
imagination. Touching himself in reality, and sticking it in her
in his imagination, it only comes from a place of pure
admiration, and absolute pure emotion. Those eyes, he can see
deep into the green it's a melting grass plain in his sight.
Before climaxing, it's obvious it's a day dream, and she is not
there. He quietly finishes in the shower, covering his mouth as
he tries to not make much noise. From then, he continues to wash
himself clean.

Rachel is driving a self driven car near a rental car

parking lot. It glides down a long road, the movement of the car
is fluid and with precision. A mechanical creation. It's almost
like going for a ride, the phrase in it's rightful meaning. This
make and model has both controls, self driving and manual
driving. There is a tablet screen that extends to the entire
dashboard. It contains a menu before each seat for controls to
the speed, direction along with the usual set of controls in a
car. Music, air temperatures, and controls for settings. Jason
is not inside of the car. He stands away from the car, far away
from the car, in the distance watching Rachel test drive it. She
pulls the car up towards Jason and rolls down the window, she's
perky, "Hop in!"

 "I'm good."
"Come on!"
"I don't trust that shit, just go back to normal driving

please? I know being Asian there's a lot of history of you not
being able to drive well, so I'm sure self driving is just lux
for you."
He is given Rachel's strong bored glare. She pushes a
button, moves a gear in with a snapping in place, and sits up
towards the wheel which has moved in to her position in order to
become more accessible to use. With that, Jason enters the car.

 Driving down the street, they realize they have nothing to
say to each other. After his bench talk with Sam, the small
moments together with Rachel has been proven to be that nothing
is said and nothing is ever shared. So what is the point of him
being with her? It's worse than the drive you have with someone
close to you where nothing needs to be said. It's a kind of
painful silence. Rachel wants to talk about her experience
driving the car, or rather how it felt to be driven by it.
That's all she cared about which is more to be said than usual
by her in these small moments together.

 "It's so fun..I don't know why you don't want to try it
out." She calls out.

 "I'm good." Jason is not interested.

 "This is the new thing, you know? Laptops, cellphones, and
now it's self driving cars. You should be excited!" She is alive
behind the wheel. She goes to change the gear -

Rachel quickly stops, laughs it off, "I won't...calm down."

 His mind clouds again, he cannot focus. He breathes and he
gets dizzy, and if he breaths anymore he feels as if he's going
to throw up. For days he feels that all the drugs he's taken in
his life, including society's drugs that are technology and
coffee to name a few, are surfacing in his mind and in his skin
and he hopes to sweat it out from his pores. The overload of the
current time in his life beings to explode like a pot full of
water over boiling.

 "I need Arielle out of the apartment. Our apartment - It's
not a crack den. Telling me to just live your day smiling while
you know your boyfriend is somewhere else probably fucking
someone else. What do you do? You smile along. She's crazy."

 "Let them do their own thing the way they want to do it."

 "This is Derik's shit. I'm done with these roommate
situations after she leaves. Seriously. I'm going to get Derik
out too."

 "It makes things interesting. Having roommates, you know?"

 Rachel almost hits a car from a light cutting to yellow too
short. "Watch it!" Jason jumps up in his seat.

 "I'm sorry."
"You can't even drive normally can you!"
"Well neither can you."
Actually Jason is a really good driver. But after his
accident that morning, she feels she can use that statement on
him. Rachel hits her finger to the dashboard as if she was
trying to crack the glass in. The radio is thrown on and a small
voice is heard in the background. They don't speak anymore to
each other. Jason knows where the night is going. One bad fight
leads to the rest of the day in shambles for them. It is certain
her night will end with sex, with someone else. Consuming all of
her time with other people, "what is the purpose of her life?"
he thinks to himself. He needs to get out of his head, he turns
up the volume to the radio show, which two people are in mid

 "...Shackles. We are bound like watches to our wrists!"

 "Phones are here to help improve our lives, not hurt us.
You're getting a little too over board with your theory -"

 "Phones are the new shackles. We are locked in to feed
ourselves information from basically a computer. I just read
that the average IQ has gone down the most in history - "

 And with that, it's cut short. Rachel turns it off.
"I hate that we have to listen to the radio."
Jason looks out the window in silence, he lets her turn it
off. He doesn't know why. It's all becoming a blur to him once
more. Her controlling web has got him stuck and tangled in. He
wishes he wasn't in that car. He looks to his phone, then stops
himself from doing it. Sam's face is in his head. Not looking at
his phone in all the in-between minutes of the day is good. He
looks at Rachel, whose connecting her phone to the bluetooth in
the car. Phones, phones, phones.

 They both have a conversation neither wanted to really have
and for formality purposes, they decided to have a goodbye.

 "Well I'm off to work."
"Cool -"
"You going to chill out?"
"I may go to the aquarium, eat at that di - (ner)" Rachel
doesn't care.
"Sean and Jess want to hangout. I told them after work."
Jason get's the door open himself and gets half out of the

car, "Bye."
The names Sean and Jess floated in the air around him.

Rachel doesn't care what floats around his head, she looks in
her rear view mirror to check herself out and after looking at
her phone she heads off. Switching it back to self drive mode,
Rachel get's her nightly plans ready while on her way to work a
shift at a coffee shop she still half assed works at. Jason
watches her go and looks back to the apartment. Once he can't
see her anymore, he goes in the complete opposite direction of
his apartment.



 A woman is in the emergency room. Wearing a yellow jacket -
off yellow jacket - reading something off her phone. She is
about 60 or so, in the later years of her life. Next to her, in
the emergency room she is sitting in, is a young child with a
bandage on his knee. The young child looks up to her for some
solstice in knowing he will be ok, but when looking to her she
is on her phone and she will remain on her phone.

 "Ok, do you remember her name?"

 Jason looks back to the woman at the front desk he is
standing in front of, and away from looking at the older woman
and her hurt grandson.

 "So I don't mean to be weird, but I'm looking for a nurse
who helped me when I was here." Jason says trying to give off a
charming grin to get what he wants.
"When were you here?" She isn't noticing his charming grin.
"Earlier today."
"She may have left for the day all ready. She had a morning

She scrolls up and down the computer, Jason looks away from
her disappointed and his eyes wonder the depths of the waiting
room he's standing in. Suddenly, with the swing of a door, and
the stopping of feet, a voice is heard that Jason remembers. He
looks for it. All over the room, not hysterically crazy, but
with the whipping of his eyes. He sees the back of a girl
walking towards the door. The hair, the golden skin, it was her.
Back to receptionist he says this while heading to the door,
"Never mind, thanks for your help!"

 He runs off towards the doors, and towards her. It's a busy
hospital lobby, and waiting room. Bodies are in his way, he
doesn't mind knocking someone over until he finally inches his
way to her and gives a tap to the shoulder. While everyone
around them continues their flow of movement, these two stop
together in the big room. She turns around and she gives a smirk
she likes to hide from most men. In her hand are her pack of
regular cigarettes, "Want one?" she offers. Her eyes hit him
like a warm sea breeze. Her cigarette is a golden ticket to a
day with her that he wants to pick.

 They stand before a massive fish tank filled with colorful
fish of different shapes and different sizes. A red-yellow fish
catches Jason's eye. It moves through the the water so
gracefully that no other fish bothers it's motion to glide
around the tank. A bright light from above the tank hits the
water and creates a blue light projecting into the room they
stand in. Both Sam and Jason bathe in a moonlit light of blue.
The ripples reflect with the light and it is imprinted on their
faces like moving tattoos. Jason's mind is soothed from it's
headaches and it's constant fog by being mesmerized from the
water light. He always wants to come here with someone and catch
a fish and swim with it with his eyes.

 A dropping of food for the fish breaks the moment. All of
the fish move along together in a group creating a sense of
consciences togetherness with the flow of the water. The clock
ticks the next singer and hunger hits the mind and changes the
mentality of them all. Some of the packs of fish are aggressive
for the food knocking others out to grab what they think will be
the last piece. It's like when people go about their day not
worried about a thing, and then the littlest thing that appears
to be a necessity changes your thought and your desires. There
are some not fighting for the food as much as those others. They
wait in an organized formed line to hopefully catch a piece
falling down to them. The two of them standing before the fish
tank are under a trance from the scene. Sam sees a fish miss
their food and she looks to the ground of the tank where it
landedwhile the fish looks to it's side and up to look for a
piece of food it will never find. This breaks the trance, Sam
speaks her mind "Did you need someone to come with you, or are
you just avoiding coming alone?"

 "Maybe I wanted to come here with someone who also enjoys
coming to the aquarium."

 "I thought you said you have someone for that?" Maybe he's
forgotten everything from the head injury she thinks, "- Did you
really hit your head hard today?"

She chuckles pleasantly, but Jason isn't really listening.
He looks a little confused as if he is lost in a thought that
has nothing to do with what he's dong right now. His mind races
with multiple thoughts and outcomes of his actions in this
current situation lost in his own mind maze. All the responses
he could give flutter in his mind like birds trapped in a cage.
Trying to respond he blurs out, "What?" Mildly confused

 "Clearly you did hit your head hard."

 Looking at the new exhibit of fish, Jason looks out at them
and feels Sam speaking, but it feels as if he is not registering
it. Luckily Sam doesn't take too much notice of his lack of
comprehending at the moment, and he closes his eyes as if he is
restarting a part of his brain, "I'm sorry. I don't focus as
well as I used to."

 Now Sam notices his odd listening behavior and answers
definitively "Sounds like you do drugs."

 With no emotion, and with a heavy weight of guilt, Jason
agrees. Like his brain, there are so many fish and so much
intertwining movement within the strokes of the water. His mind
is like a tank of numerous fish, going in each and every way of
direction. The door is next, leading them to a less confided
room and hopefully light to bring him back to his senses. One
last look at the fish. Such beautiful feelings stirring inside
of him, and just like that he goes right out the door, in need
of a "desperate attempt to bring his social skills back" he
thinks. Maybe with a change of scenery it can. Sam watches him
leave out the door, and she feels a heaviness for him at that
very moment.

Seated in a classic booth, in one of those small time

diners serving your basic hamburger, coke, and the occasional
milk shake; Sam eats her last bite of food, while Jason watches
her put it in her mouth, "I like this diner."

 "It's not bad." Sam enjoys her final bite.
"My girlfriend doesn't like it."
"You're girlfriend doesn't seem to like anything you like."
In that one line, he realizes the truth of his entire

relationship. He's surrounded himself with people who agree with
Rachel, think like Rachel, and some even want to be Rachel.
She's that girl.

 "I'm not really happy in it."
"I can tell."
"Whats the point of it?"
"No one wants a relationship anymore. I've noticed a change

in society."
"Everyone's dating themselves ultimately. Self fulfillment

from themselves."
"Doesn't sound too bad honestly."
"Does it?"
"No one dates me. So, I wouldn't mind that life."
"No one?"
Her smile that she finally shows, the smirk she hides from

him, and anyone she hopes is genuine to her, is once again put
away behind a mask she wears all too often.
"Tell me more about your obsession on hiking."
"I hike all the time."
"I've done that. Hiking that is, I've done it."
Jason makes an offer, "You should come with me sometime."
"It's not like I have no friends. I went with friends to
hike once when I did do it. I'm good."
She never went on a hiking trip with friends. What she
meant to say, and is the truth of her hiking story, is that her
family took her on that trip. Friends came along, but they were
family friends, and if you personally have those kind of friends
would know not all are really meant to be friends with you. They
are just the kids of the parents who are friends to your parent.
Climbing up the hill, with all of them, she holds on to a barbie
doll that she would take everywhere at that age. If they made
more boy ones, "I would buy those", she would think everyday. As
a little boy, it was confusing to any who met her, carrying
around a barbie doll. "Why can a young girl have one, and play
with?" her thoughts as a child running wild, "Why can't any
young kid play with the toys designed for kids?"

 Her parent's friend's kids would torment her. Call her,
"he/she". Call her, "girly", which being a young boy and without
the understanding that gender would soon be a choice for her,
was upsetting and hurtful.
"I'm sure you have friends." Jason says looking into her

lost eyes stuck in a dark memory. Her eyes appear glossed over
deep in thought, and she is brought back to him again. His eyes
are warm, and she sees they don't resemble the eyes of the kids
she was just thinking of. Or the eyes of the people who look at
her, but his eyes are kind. His eyes are warm, and they are

 "Are we one a date?" She asks with the most tender like
tone, he never knew she had.

 "Yes." He answers quickly.

 They are interrupted by the bus boy taking her plate away.
Sam smiles as this is happening, knowing it is once again half
hidden by the distraction of the bus boy in-between them. Jason
looks around the busboy, his mind once again lost. He tries so
hard to focus back to the table he is sitting at. He hears his
phone going off, but doesn't go for it, still trying to focus.
He knows he should pick up his phone, but he can't go for it, he
is lost in a thought, but what thought?

 It's Rachel. Calling. He ignores it. And with that, the
sound of a car crashing into another one is heard within the
diner. Jason is snapped back into reality, and looks for the
source of the sound, the TV. It is a report of another self
driven car accident moments ago. Everyone in the room goes to
look at the TV, and employees of the diner stop to look and
watch the scene. A woman is taken out of the crashed car, blood
on her face - Jason looks away, "We're not ready for self drive
cars. Earlier, today, I heard on the radio some guy comparing
cell phones to shackles. We would do better as a society...if we
just tried to retain information more, use our brain first -"
there's more he was going to say, but he stops. He sees a woman
in the diner walking towards him. The commotion of the TV has
lead everyone to check in with the rest of the room, and this
woman happened to see Jason was there. Valerie. Late 30's,
annoying and invasive.

 "Isn't this crazy! The whole..car shit. Fucking crazy." She
pays no attention to Sam, and when her eyes happen to take a
glance over - she quickly glances them away, uninterested, "I
haven seen you or Rachel in so long. Rick wants us to get
together but..I don't think I have your number? Or your info on
like apps and stuff."

 "I leave that to Rachel." He takes a pause hoping it's
enough, she isn't satisfied so he adds, "Usually." Hoping that
puts the end of the conversation with Valerie. It's awkward.

 "Well, ok!" Valerie laughs it off, looks to Sam and looks
away, it's a very fake greeting "Hey." Valerie says to Sam
taking her phone out and putting a hand on Jason's shoulder in a
very sensual way while scrolling on some app on her phone.

 Sam, "Hi, how's it going?" No response from Valerie. She
tries again, "Who are you?"

 Without looking up from her phone she says to Sam, "Val.
Valerie...Val. Whatever."

 "What do you think of these car crashes lately?" Sam asks
in an attempt of a conversation.

 Ding, a light bulb shines bright above Valerie, and she
looks directly and only to Jason, "Don't you want a self driven
car? They are so cool. I just saw an ad for the new one by

 Sam responds for Jason, "If we all want to end up in a
future like Wall-E."

 Valerie gives a full facial expression to Sam, of disgust,
Sam continues, "I like driving a car. Like my hands, in control,
I am using my brain, I am driving a car."

 Jason smiles, "Me too."

 "Don't lie." Valerie shares the disgusted look to Jason,
taking her hand off his shoulder.

"I'm not."

 Going back to her phone she hovers over them, disagreeing,
"Less stress. So much less stress! They're saying here that they
are designing the cars to be able to communicate with each
other. That way they can inform each other, the cars, of dangers
and troubles they've experienced to teach the other cars on
better driving. It's like they have a mind of their own."

 "Don't you ever get off your phone?" Sam asks Valerie whole

 "...What?" she is so offended.

 Their waiter approaches the table, "Anything else you

 Sam is quick, "The check." She adds a firm smile.

 Valerie remains standing by the table, Sam looks to Jason
as they await the check, She asks Jason "What are you doing the
rest of the day?"

 "You don't have to go back in?"
"I did my work. Had an early day. 3am."
"Shouldn't you be tired?"
"I am."
The check is brought, and Valerie remains standing on her
phone in the way.
"I have off tomorrow. So I'm a happy bitch."
A loud hackle belts out of Valerie, reading something off
of her phone.
"Did you want to sit down?" Sam offers to Valerie.

 "I'm good...god was that funny. Tell Rachel to get back to
me. I messaged her." Valerie goes in for the lips to say goodbye
to Jason, he turns his head and hopes she doesn't land on his
cheek. She leaves and waves goodbye, only to Jason.

 Jason feels he should explain himself, "She -"
Sam gets it, "I get it."
"That's all Rachel."
"Not you?"

 His phone goes off again, he goes to look at it, but stops
himself. He looks Sam in the eye, "Ok. So what's happening

 "Well I got something."
"It's stupid." She thinks it must be so odd to him to think
a plan later was to eat a dinner for someone's birthday, given
he just saw what it is he spends his time with. But for the
first time Jason has been with her, she takes out her phone. An
old ass phone. She checks for something on it, and once found
she tells Jason, while she puts the phone back away, "Some
friends want to meet up." She stops there.

 Jason waits for more, "...ok." He laughs awkwardly.

 "My friend is having a birthday. They're having a dinner at

 "I know Smith's. It's right next to Ram.."
"You go to Ram?"
There are some modern clubs, some, that have a new check in
policy. By scanning your phone, all who have your info on
specific app will know you have arrived. It could be a normal
hangout app, friend get togethers, or it could be a sex app.
It's usually from a sex application.

 "Rachel likes to go to Ram."
"But not you."
"No. Not me."
Grabbing the bill, Jason goes to take out some cash for it,
thinking as he does it. Wanting to go as slow as he can to make
himself stay with her longer in the day.

 "Is it an open invite?" He drops a line to see if she'll
catch it.

 "If you want to go you can, if you don't want to go, don't

"I want to."

 Sam goes for her wallet and slaps down a wad of cash, "I
like going Dutch. If this is a date and all." She brings back
this topic, for confirmation.

 "It is." Jason says as he closes the check book.


 Rachel sits on on her side of the bed. Her view a little
disoriented as she looks down at her phone. Her eyes and her
brain tell her to look away, but she forces it anyway. She stops
trying to focus so much and tries to simply look at her phone.
It's proven to be difficult for her. She reads the news:
"workers suddenly dropping pieces off from cranes in the city,
and other cities in the country. Causing deaths, and injuries."

 She reads intensely, and almost drops her phone from the
thought of a crane falling on her. There's a bowl of weed
sitting next to her on the bed, and she goes to hit it. It's
actually surprising she has not checked her dating and sex apps
in the time between reading the news and smoking. She wipes her
forehead of sweat, "Why am I sweating?" she thinks to herself.

She can feel that Jason isn't going to walk in any time soon and
doesn't care to think where he is at this moment.

 Leaving her room she finds Derik and Arielle smoking weed,
he's putting plates away in the kitchen in a very unorthodox
way. Organizing the plates one by one, not stacked. The cups are
divided up throughout the shelves and are right side up or
upside down. The act of putting the dishes away are becoming
some kind of art form. His body jerking around with the fur coat
moving like a dance with his almost naked body. They're
laughing, thinking they've come up with a modern way to putting
dishes away. On her knees, Arielle is rolling another blunt,
while they blast some offbeat classical piece. Derik is in mid
conversation when Rachel steps into the room, "...cutest couple.
But when he asked, 'Who wants to such my dick -"

 Arielle responds in a fake stoner gangster voice. Derik
enjoys the conversation way too much. The girl isn't even
listening and is using recycled lines of personal motivation to
make him feel she understands and is giving good advice, "You
gotta do what you gotta do baby."

 "Exactly! But he had a girlfriend there. And she's my

 "Was your friend -" Rachel cuts in, "Hey guys."
Arielle smiles cheerfully, "Hi -"

 "Hey there." Derik has to continue his story "So, when I
gave him that cocaine you gave me - I was just trying to make
some business -"

 "You're selling now Derik?"

 "Yeah. But apparently he was getting out of rehab for it,
for cocaine use, and there I was sucking his dick. Giving him
cocaine, and she in in the other room with no idea." He stops
putting things away and comes up close to Rachel, kind of too
close, "Did you see the news?"

 "I saw guys dropping shit. Off of cranes?"
"Yes, but no.."
The TV is switched on. We see a scene of people standing

where they are, this time it happens to be in lines down a
street, taking their cell phones out and dropping them, one by
one, and then stomping on them causing a major scene. Rachel
watches, not realizing her mouth is dropping open, "What the

 Arielle is high, laughing, "I know right?"

 Rachel looks at the scene and then away from it. All of
their faces have a black ski mask with a rectangle cut out shape
for their eyes to see. Each person is un noticeable as they
stand being taped. It is unclear where they are, but the footage
has been sent through the internet and spammed to people through
their emails. It's been shared, it's been reacted to, and all
three go right back to what they were doing. The blunt starts
off, and with that Arielle stands up almost robotic like and
heads off to the bathroom. For god knows how long. Derik goes
back to the plates, and Rachel goes back to checking her phone.
The music changes to a loud electronic rave music. They do their
business to it like it's normal background music.

Jason and Sam ride on a transit train that is above ground.

And just like any time Jason finds himself on a train he notices
all of the attention from everyone on the train is to their
phones, and less to the person they ride with. But not the two
of them. They look out the windows, provided by the train, to
watch the sky. They both watch the birds together, and the thick
low hovering clouds in the city. And unlike earlier, the girl
Jason is sitting next to is not on her phone, but rather looking
up with him at the sky. Not consumed by technology, Jason looks
to Sam who gives him a warm smile, "Trains used to be the only
place where you could truly hide from being found." Sam states
as it is common now for wifi to be on every train. "You can't
really hide now."

 The time has struck early evening, and the colors in the
sky are beginning to peak out. The cracks in the sky of color
caused by the sun that breaks the sky into a million pieces it
seems. Blue, purple, orange, melting together to eventually
bring out the night sky. It's as if all the colors are meshing
together to create, eventually, the color black.

 Jason walks Sam off the train with her, he doesn't want to
let her go. They stand together, both with body languages
inciting they are to go in two different directions.

 "Let me go home and change. For later." Jason says to her.

 The journey home is down a road he wishes he doesn't have
to walk down. His palms sweat, he feels the weight and the smell
of the apartment awaiting him, "I don't really want to go home."
He says.

 He hopes he could just go with her. Go with her now, and go
with her forever. Start a new life with her, and jump right in
it without any problems, set backs or complications, just go now
with her. But the odds of that happening are slim. He had only
just met her today. And she is fully aware of his current place
in life. "Why would she take me in?" he thinks of himself as a
dog up for rescuing.

 "You could come over to my place?" she finally says.

 His answer flows out of him as if thoughts of this never
went through his mind, "Why not."

 They walk in her direction. "I have some roommates" the
word roommates haunts Jason for a moment. He thinks of his, and
he wonders what are the odds of her having roommates like his,
when she has an old phone and is a nurse. "Bet they're not like

 "They're great."

 Jason laughs, relieved she thinks that way about her
roommates, but he sadly says, "Yeah. Not like mine."

 "What are you living in? You're own filth?" and with that
she quickly steers away from him and to a door of one of the
many doors lining down the street.

 Walking in, Jason finds himself walking into an apartment
he wishes he walked into more often. Taking his shoes off up
front, following Sam's lead, they walk deeper into the
apartment. It's like a home of someone he once would go to after
school. A friend's home, a parent's home. He felt at home as the
hall has a long rug leading them to a opened door with a light
on on the other side. Paintings hanging, photos of the residence
who reside in the home. This is a home. Pushing through the
door, Jacie is on the other side playing chess. There's a bottle
of half drunken wine on the table and an empty seat. She looks
as if she is playing alone. In her early 30's, she has dark
olive skin, curly dark hair, and is one of the roommates of
Sam's. A Sam Cooke record is playing in the background, having
both Sam in the room and Sam Cooke blasting through the
speakers, she's ecstatic, "Hey! Sam's on. Sam's here. Isn't that

 Sam laughs, she looks comfortable in her own home. "Whose
here?" She notices the empty seat, "Where's Timothy? You're not
playing alone are you?"

 "No! No, he's is just peeing." Jacie looks to Jason, "Who
are you?" She looks back to Sam, "Whose this?"

 Jason says his own name.

 "Cute. You have a nice face." She gives a wink, and laughs
at the awkwardness she created by it. Like usual, he looks
confused by her remark. But it was nice for him to hear. Her
laugh is as if Jason hasn't heard someone genuinely laugh in a
really long time. It makes him lightly laugh along with her.

 "You're not playing alone?" Jason tries to be funny.
"No...no. Timothy is in the bathroom."
"That would have been one challenging game."
"To play with myself?"


 "Yeah well...maybe he shouldn't be peeing then, because I
feel like I am playing with myself the amount of time he's been
-" she raises her voice for it to be carried to the closed door
bathroom, "- GONE!"

 A shuffle is heard behind the door she directed her voice
to and with a turn of the nob a presence of a nice male voice
comes along with it, "Bitch! I needed to pee."

 This brings Jacie to laugh uncontrollable tears down her
face. She loves it.

 "Thats what my mouth is for babe."

 Timothy comes into view of Jason's with a perplexed facial
expression, which is in response to Jacie's comment. He's a
shaggy man, with shaggy hair, like a shaggy dog. You could call
him a stoner, or you could just call him a chilled out guy. But
none the less, he is put together, in his own way, and he holds
a nice strong confidence in his step. He looks as if he is in
his early 30's.

 "Pee. In your - what!"
"You heard me."
Timothy looks to Jason, "Whose this? A guy?"
"Shut up, you fool. Sam brought him."
"Hi." Finally, Jason speaks.
Sam sees he can't fully finish his own introduction,

"Jason. His name is Jason."
"Want some wine, Jason?" Timothy is all ready in motion in

grabbing him a glass. Pours out a healthy pour, and slings it to
him, a drop almost hitting the floor.

 "What are you guys up to? We can stop this game. We're not
invested in it."

 "We were just stopping here for a second. I need to

 "She means a quickie, Jacie."
"Stop it. No. I forgot, you got that dinner."
A change of song, "Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha" by Sam
Cooke. With that first beat, that first hit of the drum, Sam
Cooke's note of the letter E, Jacie moves her hips right off her
seat. It happens to be the song played when Jacie wants to bring
some cheer to her life.

 "Come on!" she calls out, and with that Jacie is now moving
her hips standing up.

 Sam is embarrassed, "No! No..guys."

 Jason watches as Jacie gets up to the beat of the cha cha
and forces her dance moves onto Sam. She pushes her away and
Timothy grabs hold of his woman to continue the dance.

 Looking to the clock, Jason knows the time is reaching that
hour. The hour that of Rachel reaching an apartment building,
wearing those small white headphones blasting music in her ears,
more than likely took a little hit of something from Arielle and
is on her way down a hall, down a trip. Hands gliding down the
edges of the walls in the building hallway, leading to the
apartment she can't wait to enter. He can even smell the perfume
from her skin. It's known to him, as well, that she isn't even
thinking, "I wish Jason was here."

 Pulling him out of his lost mind, a hand touches his hand
and with that his thoughts of Rachel disappear. His hand is
guided to Sam's waist, where she moves her hips with his. It's
the first he's felt her embrace to his. The music in his ears is
completely different then the music playing in the room. It's as
if the whole world stopped for them to have this dance. The
smell of her skin - finally he can smell her skin and know what
it's like. Honeysuckle. A vine of honeysuckle, just given a
sprinkle of fresh water on a hot day. "Don't let go" he thinks
to himself.

She has blue christmas lights hanging in her bedroom. And
pink - there is so much pink. A deep, dark pink. Her bed has a
green comforter and is inviting to the eye. She keeps it rather
tidy, no clothes on the floor, only folded in her dresser, or in
her closet. If you try to find something wrong with the room,
maybe a lightbulb has died, or maybe nothing is wrong at all.
One window, tight tall and small. Sam goes for her closet, as
Jason stands still close to the door, which she closed behind
them, taking in the room she calls her bedroom.

 "I'm going to take a shower."

 Closet doors fling open, a dress is ripped out, a pair of
jeans and a top is put together. She isn't frantic, but rather
thoughtful in her approach in picking out an outfit.

 Jason goes for her bed and sits on the edge, crossing a leg
over, putting a hand to the comforter to know how it feels. He
becomes lost in his head as the touch of the bed brings comfort
and ease. He slowly feels his eyes about to close.."Do you have
many conversations...?" Sam asks Jason.

 He snaps back awake. He notices she's stopped looking in
closet, and is instead holding a dress high up with her hand
while looking at him, "No. I don't."

 "Should we blame this on the accident?"

 "No. I've been like this. Ever since they started come out
with bars like Ram."

 She continues her search in the closet, while not letting
this conversation go, "You don't seem like a party animal."

"I'm not."

 "You are good to look at." She looks back at Jason, "I can
see how it was easy for you to fall into that shit though."

 "You never did?"
"No one wants me." She says again.
Jason gives a laugh, it just slips out. "How could no one
in her whole life not find her attractive" he thinks to himself.
"It's not funny." She says, short. With a swift motion of

moving on from that moment, she goes to pull her clothes off,
and Jason feels the need to turn away but instead watches her
closely. She intentionally wanted his attention on her, "...are
you curious?"

 Sam comes over to Jason and at this moment, Jason knows
what to do. Instead of awkward conversations and lost eye
contact, he touches her body to bring her even closer. He begins
to take off the rest of her clothes, revealing she still has her
boy parts down below. None of this is shocking, or weird for
him. In fact he wants it this way. He stands up and removes his
clothes one by one, for her to see and feel. He kisses her,
holding her close, but Sam goes to stop it, "I'm fun. But I'm
not for fun."

 Jason looks into her eyes, and Sam allows herself into the
moment when she looks deep into his eyes and sees this is not
"for fun". With their bodies close to each other, he takes his
hand and brings their bodies together, a moment of intimate sex.
They don't kiss, they look into each other's eyes as they reach
their climax together. They finish, and he kisses her, and it's
as if she melts into his arms and calm each other down by their
mouths connected.


 In Rachel's opinion, she is putting the self driven car too
good use. She's taking a ride to RAM, with a different couple
this time Adam and Melissa. This is that same couple Jess was a
little hesitant about spending a night with due to their

 One of their story begins just like this one, taking a pill
drinking a drink and heading out to a club. They ended up on
their roof for the view of the night where the landscape of the
city, and it's lights of the buildings that shoot up, highlight
the harmony of the city and the night sky. Like stars in your
reach, the stars in the sky could be just as close to them if
they really believed it. And one guy really did believe it, when
he climbed the water tower on their roof with a ladder that is
half off the ground and the only way to obtain a grip on it is
if you get a little boost up to grab it. Their friend, who they
brought along for their nightly activities, wanted to reach the
stars, just like the building lights that paint the night sky in
itself is purely reachable. He climbs and climbs with vocal help
from Adam, Melissa and the people below cheering him on.
Reaching that final step and with a strong thrust of his hand up
and out to reach a star, the voices below change from cheers to
the sound of fear as the distance between him and the star
become further and further away. He tries so hard to reach the
sky and touch that star until his body hits the concrete ground
below. His soul reached the sky that night, and touched that
star. It is after that night, when everyone knew he was with
Adam and Melissa, did many people believe it was the two of them
that lead him to his desire of touching that star. A reach that
was the ultimate downfall putting a period at the end of his

 Rachel is showing off the self driven car to two of them as
they quickly drive down the road to their destination. There's
no need to be coherent, because the car can drive itself. All of
them rolling around in the car laughing, pushing buttons, and
getting themselves prepared for the night.

 They reach a bar with no name, no sign, no anything on the
outside. It is just simply a black wall with a black door and a
hefty bouncer sitting out front. Loud music is heard from the
outside and a line is seen wrapping around the building.
Everyone on the line is looking at each other, looking around,
and Rachel is on her phone ready to check in and see herself who
else she knows is here.

 Rachel has an in with the bouncer. With a scan of her
phone, a beep is heard, and the load screen appears to show a
large green checkmark that she is logged in to RAM and the list
of whose there uploads very quickly. Looking up he gives her an
odd wink, as if they know each other well.

 Entering through the black painted door, the hallway inside
is long and narrow. Your vision is screwed, peripheral vision is
not even possible. You made to be focused down the hall, smoke
in the air and sweat formulating on the skin. The main room
shows the strobe lights, the bar and a few people acting
belligerent all over each other. You can hear similar
interactions from anyone in the room, "I knew you'd be here!",
"Check your phone I think he's here." Adam and Melissa go out
into the club, lost in the sea of bodies like a pack of worms.
Rachel, alone, heads straight to the bar. She sees Oliver, a
bartender she sleeps with and likes to stay connected with for
the half off (or sometimes free) drinks. He is what you would
imagine is the hot bartender in a grungy hip club such as this.
He's tall, shaved head, tattoos running down the arms, slim but
not skinny to the bone. He's got some muscle sure, a nice
definition to the arm. Rachel knew he would be here from
checking her phone when walking in, she greets him with "Saw you
were here."

 "I can't even look at my phone anymore to see that shit. It
goes off every two seconds."

 "Mine doesn't go off that much. Popular.."
"Where's the guy?"
"Even when he is here it's not like he's with me. Or like
you actually care."
She gives a "bad girl face" as she looks at her phone to
see who else has checked in. She scrolls through pervious chats
on the dating app revealing sexual photos, and conversations.
The room is wild in the night, as everyone parties at RAM. A mid
aged guy, a little wavering in his movement, which can lead to
the assumption he is on a drug or multiple drugs, begins
undressing himself to the beat of the music blasting. He pulls
down his pants, takes a chair at the bar that is next to Rachel,
and puts it upside down. He gets himself ready to use it as a
penetrating force up his ass. Rachel screams when she sees this,
it's a mix of a laugh from excitement and a general scream of
shock. She is excited to see it happen. On an opposite side of
the room, Adam is feeling up some girl, and Melissa is taking
some guy to the bathroom area. Their night is just beginning.

Sam stands in her shower. Jason stands in the bathroom

outside of the shower naked waiting to enter. He's hesitant, and
slow about making a move in. Sam finds it charming, and doesn't
stop what she's doing but watches him from within and amongst
the fog from the heat of the water, admiring what she sees. But
he is taking too long, "Are you going to come in?"

 With that invitation Jason goes and slides in with her. He
puts his arm around her as she lathers up the soap on her body.
The smell is soft, earthy, and like a small flower in a garden.
He holds her as she washes off the soap on her body, "Thank
you." He says.

 "For what?"
"Letting me hold you."
"Have you not held a person before in the shower?" She

laughs at her own joke. Jason rubs her down and she gets quiet
not to allow Jason to take control.

 "Were you expecting a different body, underneath I mean.."
She's quiet, almost as if she wishes she didn't have this
thought or that she had to know the answer, but she did.

 "You were expecting there to be a dick?"

 "I was. I actually day dreamed about it in the shower
earlier today."

 "No you didn't."
"I did. I imagined fucking you in the shower."
"Not with a vagina."
"Honestly, dick - and all."
"Why do you think that is?"
He rinses the water out of his hair and she turns around,
finished with the shower, and looks him in the eye. He becomes
weighted by the thoughts of his desire in wanting her. He
doesn't want to make this first day together some rapid play of
a relationship. This isn't that moment of their relationship,
yet. Sam exits the shower, leaving Jason to watch her go. She
grabs a towel from the door and dries her body off. Jason
remains dripping in the shower, "Why do you think people don't
want to be in committed relationships anymore?"

 "Too many options."

 "Wouldn't it be nice to just - be. To not constantly be

 Jason's phone goes off in his pants pocket on the floor of
the bathroom, and his head begins to feel out of focus again, as
if he knows he needs to respond but doesn't want to. He tries to
deny himself access to his phone, "I have a hard time" he says
finally trying to keep his focus, "trying to stay in this
conversation. Or any."

 Sam ties the towel around her hip and looks in the mirror,
digesting what he just said. This whole time being so distant at
times, he's trying to explain, "A cell phone - technology, it's
like anything else. Like coffee, a sellable and acceptable drug
on the market. You walk in to a coffee shop, there's bags of it
everywhere, basically bags of drugs. I love myself a coffee. Who
doesn't love themselves a coffee. Places like Dunkin and
Starbucks got smart and made them more like dessert like drinks
and less like coffee because honestly, when you crack yourself
up with too much caffeine, I can throw up. All that anxious
energy. We are being fed drugs, and then there are drugs we are
denied. We need to know a balance, but when we are fed drugs -
forced it by watching ads for it and it being acceptable - the
fine line between needing these drugs and knowing you don't, is
lost -"

 There's a knock at the door. Sam yells out, "You need the

 From behind the wall Jacie responds, "Sorry to interrupt -"

 "You're not." Sam says, and smiles at Jason. She goes to
crack the door open and see her.

 "You need to see what's happening." Jacie has a face of
slight fear and a bit of confusion.

 With that, Jason rushes to his phone to see any news
updates to get the information fast. But, his phone is not
turning on, "What the fuck?" he says to his phone out loud.

 Sam looks to him worried, his phone won't turn on. And it
appears no ones phones are turning on. Running out of the
bathroom, putting on whatever quick, they rush down to the
living room where Timothy is there with the TV blasting. All
communicative devices have been malfunctioning, and are not in
use. The reporter on the news channel is reporting the crisis,
"Today at 10pm eastern standard time, cell phones from across
the nation are reportedly malfunctioning. The source has yet to
be found -"

 Jason is panicking. He sits down on the couch with his
phone in hand and tries to turn it on, over and over again. He's
like a child learning something doesn't work, but keeps trying
because he wants it so. He's overwhelmed by the strong denying
of use of his phone but some over seeing power. Sam tries to not
notice Jason on his phone and she checks the time, "We need to
go get ready for the dinner Jason, we're going to be late."

 Jason looks up with complete disarray, "How will we be able
to contact them? How will we know they'll be there?"

 Timothy and Jacie stay out of it, Jason sounds almost
psychotic in his lack of understanding a life with no constant
communication, "It's ok..I'm sure they will all head over there
at the time we said."

 "But how will you know?"

 Jacie goes to leave the room, and at the door before
leaving she says, "Just thought you guys should know what was
going on."

 Timothy decides to follow her out, silently. None of these
people have the same attachment to their device and to constant
communication as much as Jason. They don't know what to say to
calm him down, but he clearly is in need of calming down from

 Sam tries, "It'll be fine. I'm going to finish changing.
Feel free to head on up or stay here."

 Jason nods and lets her leave the room. She stops before
heading up and looks at him. She watches him try over and over
again to turn his phone on.

Some guy is in the car with Rachel. She doesn't know him,

he isn't someone she's had around before, he's new and she likes
new. Finishing up their hump in the car, which is parked in some
parking lot, they finish with a cigarette out the open windows.
Excited, drunk and drugged out, she licks her lips and laughs
loudly as she puts her hand on the button in the car that turns
it on, "Let's go for another test drive."

"Fuck yeah."

 "Fuck, yeah." She cackles her laugh, turns on the car, and
they start driving. No hands on the wheels of course. They love
the motion of the car, the fluid turns and swerves to make it a
pleasant self driven experience. It's like the car is an
intoxicating drugs itself.

 "I love sitting back, checking my phone while it drives."

 She goes for her phone, and notices it doesn't turn on,
"Fuck. It must have died."

 Taking the cord to the phone, with a click of success, she
believes the charging process is about to begin. But it doesn't.
She tries it over and over again with no luck and of no sign
that it is charging.

 "Is it fucking broken?"

 The guy goes for his phone, not as frantic as her but he's
disoriented in trying to turn it on. It doesn't, and he's not
sure if he should be freaking out as well, "Yeah my phones not

 They head back to RAM. Pulling up to the front before
parking, she looks at the scene of the club outside and everyone
out on the line waiting to get in and the people exiting the bar
are acting like Rachel is about their phones. Frantic, standing
around, scratching their heads, falling over trying to
comprehend their phones are not working these people cannot seem
to work without the knowledge that their phone isn't. The
bouncer in the front with his scanner is hitting it against a
wall trying to make it work, thinking maybe his scanner did this
to all of their phones. With the amount of people spewing out,
it is hard to believe many people are still inside of the club.

 The guy in the car is frightened by the whole show, he goes
to leave the car "I'm going to head out.." And with that he
opens the door and runs into the crowd closing the door behind
him. She lets him go quick, he didn't mean anything to her.
Parking the car, she walks into the club and chaos surrounds
her. Getting inside the club, the hallway that felt long,
narrow, dark and crowded is now bleak, open, and lacking the
same entry affect it possessed over her. Oliver is still at the
bar, he catches her eye, "Still here?"

 "What, is going on?" She asks him.

 The TV is on the other side of the bar, and he clicks the
volume higher to have her tune in, it is in mid reporting,
"...it seems to be an act of Q5. Communication, signals and all
cellphones are down...-"

 Rachel sits down at the bar holding a tight grip on her
phone. She puts her hand glued to her phone as one onto the bar
and keeps her eyes to the TV screen. Words fall out of her
mouth, "I need something to drink."

 Oliver prepares her a favorite, gin and tonic. Straight to
the head liquor, she needs it. The drink is slung to her and in
one fell swoop she grabs it and brings a large sip to her throat
almost finishing the drink.

 "Who was that guy you left with?"

 She swallows her sip and with a painful swallow answers, "I
don't remember."

 She tries to check her phone, almost as if she forgot it
wasn't working, to see if she can find his name. In an instant
she feels retarded, "My fucking phone isn't working."

 Holding her head up with a hand, she thinks to herself,
"Where's Jason?"

 Oliver sees her lost in her head, and it is no different
then the numerous individuals who left the bar and the club due
to cell phone malfunctions. He's over it. Moving down the bar to
a needy customer, he leaves her sitting there. She notices him
go help a young 20 something or other while throwing in some
flirtatious charm. He cracks a joke with her, and before the
girl can laugh, Rachel tries to out laugh her. It's
embarrassing, and his image of her changes in that moment. Then,
without it really being thought about first or realized fully,
she speaks out loud to them, "It's all fun. It's all fun in the
beginning. And then you want more, or you think you want more -
you think you know what you want. You don't need anyone else if
you got someone who actually cares. But you get bored - why am I
so bored with just one person? Am I so bored? - is that... -"

 Rachel takes a sober moment. Oliver and the 20 something or
other look at her, not sure what to say to her. She sips her
drink, swallows it back to finish it off, "I'll - pay later."

 She gets up from where she is sitting at the bar, almost
falling over while doing so and dropping her phone to the ground
in the process. It shatters to pieces. Looking at it for a
moment, like a pet finally dying, she decides to leave it and
goes to stumble out of the club.

 Oliver tries to help, "Hey! ...You good?"

 But she walks out, without looking back to respond. Walking
outside, the scene is a little less packed. The shock and
confusion of phones not working has slowed down a little, with
no new update on when they will all come back on. Emotionless in
the face, she walks passed a few people crying and acting overly
emotional by it all. Fumbling to get her keys out, she opens the
car door and falls in it.

 Laying inside, she flips herself around to look up at the
sky through the sun roof of the car. Like the guy who thought he
could reach the stars like the lights of the city skyline, she
looks up to them in awe, and then her face turns to sadness.
Sadness in understanding one thing about herself - that she
doesn't understand anything.

Walking passed RAM, Jason notices it's not as busy as it

usually is. In fact he thinks back to a time when it was ever as
dead as it is at this moment, and he could not think of any
time. His anxiety over the phones not turning on is reaching a
calmer note now. He's wearing the same clothes he's had on this
whole day with Sam, given he has chosen not to go back home and
change. Sam has changed into a white sun dress with highlights
of woven material, and it accentuates a nice curved body. Her
hair perfect, everything about her is perfect. It is because of
her that Jason understands why he can think less of his phone
and more of her.

 Inside Smith's, it obtains more people inside then RAM
which is highly unusual. It is filled with families, friends,
people who are having their dinner and the concept of a phone
not working is not hindering their evening. Sam looks deep into
the restaurant to find her friend, Emerald, whose birthday it
is. She is a long time and close friend of Sam's. Dark skin,
straight dark hair, and she usually holds a big dopy grin. Her
younger sister Shelly, who also has known Sam for a long time,
sits next to her. Cute, thin and has her hair braided long she
is a young girl about to take part in an engagement between some
rowdy mouthed friends.. The third attendee of the birthday
dinner party is another mutual friend Sasha. Tanned skin, Dark
Italian features, and with strong blue eyes and a strong jaw.
There's a cry from the room to Jason and Sam's direction, "Yes!
You made it! Yas!"

 Emerald stands up from her seat, and Sam moves quick to her
and gives her a hug, "Happy Birthday girl." Emerald hugs Sam so
strong it's as if she wants to hurt her.

 Sam looks to Shelly, "Oh. My. God, Shelly! Nice braids."

 Shelly is on her phone, well - her broken phone waiting for
the moment it lights back on. Jason notices Shelly and her
phone, but he also notices she isn't as frantic and as of in
need of it to work again as much as he kind of is now. Being the
youngest one of the group Shelly is quiet, and a little bit
incognito from the group. She is there simply for birthday
support for her older sister. She's used to the fast talk, and
the bad language they use in conversation.

 "This cell phone shit!" Sasha yelps out.

 Sam tries to change the subject, for Jason's sake, "Don't
get me started."

 "I mean, I care more than anyone else right now. How the
hell am I supposed to get my birthday shit from people?" Emerald
slams her broken phone down on the table.

 "You probably broke it even more girl." Sam tells Emerald.

 Jason realizes he doesn't have much to say. It's also not
likely he can just go away and hide looking up something on his

 "You're not going to get any fulfillment from birthdays
texts or Facebook posts then your actual birthday dinner party
right now." Sasha points out to Emerald.

 "Honestly Sasha, I don't give a fuck. It's my birthday."

 Emerald finds herself hilarious, but she is just a basic
girl giving out basic jokes she knows gets a laugh somewhere. If
no one will laugh with her, she'll laugh and that is enough for
her. Jason gives a nice smile and he wants to laugh out loud,
but the ability to do so has run away from him. The lack of
involvement has now put him in the spotlight and he sees it
happening. He goes to say, "Hi, happy birthday" but before he
does so Sasha beats him to the punch, "Who are you? Whose this

 Sam feels she should answer, "He's, a -"
"I'm the date." Jason says finally.
Emerald did not think the label date would be used for

Jason when it's dealing with Sam, "The - date? Whose date? My

 Sasha chimes in, "You choose this meal to bring a man
around? Since when are you seeing someone? Where'd you meet?
Tinder, F3k -"

 "We met at her hospital."

 Everyone looks at them quietly. They all know she works at
a hospital but them having met there to then lead them to date
is surprising and new. Thoughts run wild of how they got to
meeting in that environment.

 "You guys met at the hospital?" Sasha asks bluntly.
"That's rare I tell ya." Emerald says.
Sam looks over to Shelly, who holds her phone in her hands,

and tries to engage her in conversation, "So Shelly, you're
doing all right?"

 Her voice comes out like a small voice from a gerbil,

 "She's great, you don't need to talk to her." Emerald snaps
at Sam, then looks to Jason, "What do you do Jason?"
"I do most of the garden work in the city."
"Nature boy." Sasha calls him.
"There's just something about keeping well attended
greenery in towns, or a city. It's nice, isn't it?"
Emerald makes a happy noise, and sits up right in her chair
nodding her head, "Yeah, there's something earthy about you. I'm
glad you're doing my girl -"
Sam is confused this came out her mouth. Emerald tries to
defend her comment, "You're just so busy with work -"
"It's going fine at work, thank you." Sam says.
They order drinks, Sam quickly orders "Whiskey please. Over
ice. That's it." Jason enjoys a beer as they sit around the
table laughing. He couldn't remember when he had a moment like
this with friends in a long time. He looks down the cracks of
the table by his lap to see Sam's leg next to him. He wants so
badly to put his hand on it, but he is used to the person
receiving his touch to move away from it. It's so weird to him
that Sam would even see this thought process through his mind,
it's almost as if she has this entire time. She grabs his hand
and puts it on her leg. He feels happy in this moment.

 Emerald snaps at Sam, "You know I got a job, I don't need
you making me look bad in front of this boy here -"

 "Where. McDonalds?" Sam says back.

"I haven't had that job since the 9th grade, bitch please."

 Looking around the restaurant, Jason realizes how normal
all of this is. To be having a birthday dinner at Smith's.
Rachel would never come here. And even if she did, it wouldn't
be like this. He slowly let's anxiety of his phone slip away as
he warms into the group. His head doesn't even hurt as much as
it has the entire day. His mind can focus, and he sees clearly
that where he is right now is better than anything he's been in.
Sam leans in to whisper in his ear, in a way that doesn't cause
a scene with Emerald, or Sasha, "You haven't checked your phone
once since we got here."

 Jason's confused she's bringing this up to him, given her
detachment to the entire phone crisis, "They're dead?" Jason
responds low into her ear.

 "I know. But still." She leans away from him for the girls
at the table brought their focus back to them.

 It's true, what she just said to him. He hasn't had an urge
to check his phone, there is no desire to even look at it, and
she noticed. Grateful that he has been shown this positive
detachment from his phone, it could put him on a path for a more
happy and fulfilling life. The type of people he has surrounded
himself with in comparison to now. Sitting around a table,
eating drinking and laughing the night away with people who have
no desire to drown the night in drugs and sex. But what he
doesn't know, is that outside right now, Rachel is in the car
looking into Smith's and looking everywhere around the streets
in the area she is looking to find him. Manually driving down
the streets acting a little off her rocker, she does not have it
in self drive mode because she is in need of being in control.
Mumbling phrases to herself and sentences about Jason, sounding
as if she was either cursing him or missing him. She is

 Moving through the course of the meal, the girls are in mid
conversation. Sasha is ready for a self driven car road trip
experiment, "Now with these self driven cars the trip going
across the country could be a breeze."

 "I got hit by one today." Jason's words landing down on the

 Sasha tries to lighten the mood, "Who the hell needs a self
driven car? Who needs a car to drive themselves?"

 "It's going down a road to being fat.." Emerald jokes.

 Sasha tries to make a statement, "People are getting hit by
them by the second. I saw on the news the other day people on
their phones crossing the street and a car just comes and hit
them. I mean people are literally mentally checked out. It's not
good. All I was saying was that the trip would have been

 "My car that got totaled from the accident is in the shop.
It's just a basic Honda accord, from 2013. I've wanted to go on
a road trip but just haven't found the time. California..could
be nice. Wouldn't mind doing the drive."

 The idea of a road trip in his car, to get away form this
city, seemed like a successful start to the beginning of him
changing his life for the better. Looking ahead, he can see the
future. Driving down a long winding road, with trees leaning in
to grace him with their presence. Cars driving by him with
families sitting in them hanging out together, playing a game
together, as their car does the work for them. Inside his car,
Jason drives himself as Sam sits next to him helping him with
directions. Turning the wheel, watching every turn, every change
of lane, getting themselves where they need to go. They
communicate together, working together to drive themselves
somewhere. Anywhere. Doesn't need to be California, or to the
West Coast. Maybe one day a long enough bridge will be made to
get you to Europe or the United Kingdom. With her, he would do
anything as a team. There would be no need of checking his
phone, because the only person that matters is all ready right
next to him. There would be no need of a virtual console,
because she would be willing every night to sleep with him.
Finishing the dinner, Jason goes to leave Smith's with the
knowledge that dining with these friends did some good for him.

Emerald is so confident, Sasha is so outspoken, and Shelly is
someone young who has the potential to understand the future and
what it means to be human without technology. Heading towards
the door to exit, Emerald grabs ahold of Jason when she can and
says, "You do some good with this girl."

 He nods.
"I mean it." She reaffirms.
Jason holds on to her words as she lets him go and they all
go to leave the restaurant. He knows the end of the night is
drawing near which is something he has been avoiding since the
moment he started his day with Sam. He isn't sure what it may
mean for him, to end the night and say goodbye to her. Sam holds
the door open and looks at him, who is all ready looking at her.
He can't do any harm to this girl. But the eventual need to
return home is close. He's also in need of a change of clothes.

 Departing from the others is easy for Sam to do, and not so
much Emerald. Hitting a part of the walk home, Sam and Jason
reach a point where neither seemed to want to walk past. It's as
if an invisible gate had appeared. Both look in the direction
their homes are, which are opposite.

 "Thanks for having me out." Jason says.

 He smiles at her, but she looks as if she is waiting for
more to be said. He doesn't add anything else. She assumes in
this moment, like she of course would, that he is done with her
this was all a one day fling. Hanging on his line, she believes
it is destined to end with parting ways. She wishes to herself
this didn't have to come. Moving towards her direction and away
from him, slightly, he notices quickly something is off, "What?"

 "Are you going home?" She asks him.

 "Yeah -" He thinks for a minute. Holding his focus with a
more deep and sincere way.

 "I think I should go home eventually."

 He moves in close, to be closer to her, to try and reassure
her that him leaving is not because he wants to get away from
her, "I need to just grab some stuff."

 "Do you want me to come?"

 Jason thinks really hard if that was a possibility, but
that apartment, those people - no.

 "I'm glad I came out with you, especially because every
moment I've been out with you I feel more and more myself.
Leaving you now is going to suck - I'm embarrassed to even have
you see what I live in. It's not me. And -"

 She cuts him off right there, "Just come back tonight. I'll
be up."
"Yeah. Yeah, I will."
"Ok." She smiles at him.
He kisses her. They share a moment on a street corner, in
the middle of the night, in each other's arms. The hug feels
never-ending if you were to see it passing by. The image of them
hugging is so tight that they would still look as if they were
hugging even if one had stopped hugging the other. And though
the air is warm on this night, when they break from their hold
on to each other the air that passes them feels cold. It's as if
he should hold back onto her for warmth. Making it like ripping
off a bandaid, Sam goes confidently in her direction leaving him
a moment to watch her go. As she disappears into the night, he
let's the moment go and goes his way.

 Reaching close to his apartment, Jason takes a look at the
street he lives on. Walking down the side street that leads to
the building's back entrance, he enjoys the night sky. He looks
up to the stars and tries to count how many he can see. He
wishes he was somewhere in an open field, with no lights for
miles, to see the countless stars above so he could just see
them all and wonder what it's like to be near each and every one
of them. Never did the night sky mean so much to him as it did
this very moment. Endless possibilities he realized he has in
front of him now that he never opened his mind to see before.
How he wishes he thought this way sooner. If only he had been
hit by a car sooner would he have met Sam sooner. She is a star
to him, a star that is realistically reachable. In that moment,
a car is seen coming down that same side street to the
building's back door that Jason stands on. And in that quick
second Jason looks to see the car, and he sees the car's driver.
Rachel's body lays in the car from what anyone could see in that
quick amount of time. A body that is passed out and on her way
home. He doesn't get a chance to close his eyes before the car
enviably hits him.


 The opening of the eyes is hard. The lights flutter, and
they screech. Location is not clear. A face appears, her eyes a
cold piercing green, hair frazzled and unkept. Sam feels the
patient's face, her eyes hazing while trying to focus on him.

 "You seem fine." She waits for the patient to respond.
There is none.

 "Can you tell me what happened to you?" She waits again for
a response. And again nothing.

 "No. Ok." She check's the patient throughly, checking off
her list off.

 "The doctor will see you soon." Her tone striking no sense
of emotion. It is cold, bare and stark.

 Walking home from work, the streets continue their day to
day routine of pedestrians lined up walking about, phone in use.
A mother walking the street not looking at her daughter while
trying to cross the street. A bicyclist trying to respond to a

 Riding the train home, she sits looking out the windows to
the sky. No headphones on, everyone else around her does. The
path home is a forward motion, non stopping. There was nowhere
else she needed to go or wanted to be going to.

 Entering her apartment the TV is head loud in the living
room, echoing through the house. It has been on the past few
weeks with the constant news regarding Q5 attacks, recent
showings of terrible self driven car accidents, and the recent
law suits put on the auto industry distributing these cars. The
members of Q5 have been revealed to be people who have been
diagnosed as allergic to cell phone radiation caused by the
unseeing connection of all phones. Footage of men crashing into
a small village in the middle of nowhere America, protected from
cell phone towers and clean of phone radiation. From the outside
of it, you can call it a cult. But the truth of it is that it is
not. It's been perceived as one in the media, to make a story
out of it, and to eliminate the question many should be asking,
have we gone too far for constant connection and communication?
The small town sets the scene of a gruesome take down of the
culprits responsible for the shutdown and hacking of everyone's
mobile device.

Sam takes her shoes off, her bag off, and puts everything
away. Going past the living to head up the stairs, she passes
Jacie and Timothy sitting together, not really doing anything
but looking uncomfortable watching what ever it is they are
watching from the news.

 Lying on her bed, she looks at the cracks in her ceiling.
She could imagine the ceiling cave in on top of her at any
moment. What luck that would be.

 Her eyes close, her sense of smell goes to a sense memory.
That smell of Jason, she wants to smell the scent of his skin
one more time. Earthy, romantic and powerful. She opens her eyes
to the feeling of tears. A knock at the door.

 Sam speaks out of interruption, "What?"
Jacie cries out, "Get in here!"
By the time she gets up and to the door Jacie is back
downstairs and so does Sam.

 Timothy sits up straight leaning in watching the news, and
Jacie stands up in the doorway looking in, "They're doing a news
report on self driven car incidents."

 Jacie looks to Sam, "You don't have to watch."

 Sam looks to the screen to find Derik on it. But to her, he
is nothing. She doesn't know who he is, she has never met him
before. The initial seeing of him on the screen couldn't prepare
her for the new she was about to receive. He talks about a car
accident involving a couple. How one of them was walking home
one night and the other was coming home drunk while driving her
car that was self driving.

 The reporter, "Jason Torson is one of the many stories we
are sharing tonight, about the lives that have ended due to self
driven cars. -"

 Sam loses the next few words, she can't focus on the screen
and feels a haze over her thoughts and emotions. As she tries to
go she can make out the rest, "...process of shutting down
production of self driven cars is underway."

 Jacie calls out to Sam, but she walks off deaf to the sound
of her voice. She can hear in the distance another story about
someone who got hit. Taking each step slowly at a time she
counts the amount of steps it takes to get her to her room. Her
mind is a constant movement of thoughts, a constant flow of fish
swimming in water. She needs to consume herself with little
ideas to keep herself from thinking of the things she doesn't
want to think about.

 Her room is quiet. She enters and when closing the door
behind her she feels a presence in the room and quickly looks to
see whose there. It is late, and dark. Past the hour of
normality. There is heaviness in her room, and the presence of
someone who shouldn't be there is there. But this presence is
someone she wants there and let's herself embrace it.

 She takes a shower, letting the water hit her skin and
relax her body. Breathing in deep, she prepares herself for a
night with someone she loves. Standing in her bedroom, looking
beautiful, she does her make up in the mirror. Voices circle
around her, echoing through the room and in her mind, "I told
you I wasn't ignoring you."

 Sam stops looking for the presence in the room, and stands
sill. Trying to find someone with her eyes whose not even there.
Closing her eyes she wants to only hear the voice as strong as
she did just then. Flurries of sound come in and out and she is
dazed in the moment finding him in her room. Finally, she picks
up her newly bought virtual console and straps it on her head.
Looking through it, she see's the presence that was in the room
standing before her smiling. The excitement in the eyes of him
feels like sunlight warming her cold soul from her dark and cold
inner emotions. Jason stands before her as if he hadn't changed
that day she spent with him.

 Every night, after that night, Sam wears her console to see
Jason. He becomes a drug to her, and like a drug she is
addicted. Addicted to seeing him, addicted to touching him,
holding him, and seeing that smile once more. No one will ever
smile at her the way he did.