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Max's finger tapped the side of the cup. He didn't realize that he was doing it, but when he heard the sound he stopped. He was sitting in the corner table at a diner, watching the door. His laptop was open in front of him and his finger hitting the arrow key as he was scrolling down the pages of various images.

"Isn't technology grand," the waitress said as she came over and refilled the coffee mug. "You have the entire world at your fingertips."

"Entire worlds," Max corrected her with a smile.

"So what is a fellow like you doing here alone on a Friday night?" the waitress asked; she was a young twenty-something girl and she was obviously flirting with Max.

He had started coming into the diner five weeks ago, every night around the same time and had brought his laptop with him. So she figured she'd make a move since he was obviously single.

"Waiting for a friend," Max replied, and he could see her look turn to a sort-of frown. "And then it's off to somewhere else."

"Oh," the waitress replied; she kept her friendly tone. Though she knew her luck was always bad and that she was cursed to be alone. She gave him a perky smile and headed off to the next booth where two gentlemen were sitting and chowing down on some food.

Max typed on the laptop. He typed in the name of the waitress, 'Kelli', and following, 'will win some money and live the cozy life'. He hit the Enter button and smiled.

After the Fall

Maggie looked to one side and spat out blood. The fall that should of killed her hadn't, but it did hurt a lot. She knew that she had taken some serious damage to her body.

That's not good.

She staggered off to one side and fell to her knees. Trying to catch her breath, she was fighting to breath and that hurt as well. As if millions of shards of tiny glass were circulating in her lungs.

Is this what it feels like to die?

She coughed again and more blood trickled out. She knew that if she didn't find a place to rest that the internal damage might cause major problems later one. She could feel her body trying to heal itself. It was one of the benefits of being a guardian; something she felt she had to do in order to protect the last haven.

Hurts like a bitch!

She crawled on hands and knees through the debris around her, until she saw a makeshift shack and crawled towards the little shelter. Time to rest and let the body do what it does naturally, healing itself as much as possible.

"Need my beauty sleep," Mags muttered to herself.

"Not here, toots," a gruffled voice said. "This is my hidey hole. Go find yourself another one."


Max was waiting behind a pillar with his guns drawn, ready for action. The problem was that there was no action happening yet, but he was sticking to the plan. A perfect plan that was laid out a couple of hours before.

He was sitting there in the car port waiting. And several minutes ticked by like millenniums passing. Suki was a few yards away from him; he could see her behind a barrier, the Godhammer resting in her lap. She was bored as well.

But this wasn't a time or the place to be bored and let your guard down. Just then the elevator doors began to chime; Max straightened up. Soon it would be showtime. As soon as Suki heard the chime, she spat out the bubble gum and winked at Max.

A car was pulling into the parking garage; Max could hear a familiar riff of a Talking Heads song getting louder. He heard the music, the beginning of Burning Down The House. Suki heard it too, and she cracked a smile, and just as soon as the elevator doors opened, both went into action singing the song as it was being played; weapons blazing in a symphony of music.


Red Dawn Of The Dead

Sprawling terminals spread out from the building like legs of a spider.

MAX, MAGGIE, ANGST, WRAITH, DEXTER, AQUA and PRECIOUS are strolling towards the terminal. PRECIOUS has an digital audio player on speaker. An old rockabilly tune is playing. Even though she is in her late 60's she still has a lot of spring in her step.

A WHITE VAN emerges from the darkness and pulls to a stop in front of them. RUSSIAN ENVOY DARVOS STANKOFF greets them.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Russia. I'm Darvos Stankoff, special envoy to...

It's been a long flight. Can you fill in the stuff you left off on the phone.

Forgive him Comrade Stankoff. Max gets a little irritable when he misses episodes of Spongebob.

I don't understand.

Just cut to the chase, Stanky. Give us what you got.


Like Landing on the Moon for the First Time

Max suffered from disorientation, but he was used to it. His head felt like thousands of houseflies were crawling around in his brain. The wave had hit him hard this time around, and he could never shake that sensation. He thought that after all the shifts he'd gone through that he would have developed some sort of immunity to it, but he was wrong.

He lifted his head to try to find out where he was. To get a bearing on where he was and if he was in immediate danger.

"Okay fellow," a male voice asked. "Where and the hell did you just come from?"

"Long story," Max said as he sat up, still feeling the dizzying effects of the shift. "Where am I?"

"Well, we've got a long time," a female voice chimed in; she had a high cockney accent. "You better start talking the talk mister, or you'll be going to another place really soon."

"And fellow, you ain't going nowhere until we get answers," another male voice said, with a hint of a Texas drawl in it.

Max looked around and he noticed the group surrounding him. They were all standing in a living room. A blonde girl was looking at him warily. Across the room an older woman was staring at him with her hands on her hips and a cold look in her eyes. The first fellow who had spoken stood nearby holding a small object in his hands, keeping it pointed at Max. And the old fellow with the Texas drawl knelt beside him, patting him down.

"If I were you buddy, I'd start talking," the blonde said to Max.

"I wonder if he's a shifter?" the Texan asked another. "Like us, traveling the infinities."

Max's attention turned to the Texan.

"It's possible," the other fellow said.

Champions Do Eat Breakfast

Frank lowered the newspaper he was reading and peered over it. "Take it easy on breakfast buffet, Goner. You're not the only one here who likes breakfast."

They were sitting in a corner table inside Endless Griddle, enjoying a fine breakfast.

"Sorry, Frank," Goner said in-between bites. "I really don't know when I will eat a meal like this again. Besides, it's fucking delicious."

Max came back and sat down with his plate; he gave Goner a little double-take. It was like he was watching Shaggy attack a meal. Max didn't know where the kid was putting the food, but he figured Goner needed the nourishment.

"Make sure you come up for air," Frank told Goner.

"You getting anything, Frank?" Max asked the older fellow.

Frank folded the newspaper and stood up, grabbing his coffee cup. "Just sticking with coffee. I think Goner is eating for the both of us."

Max chuckled and began to eat his breakfast.


The Beginning of Something


It would be another day in Atlantic City, the crowds are beginning to wake and move about the boardwalk.

VENDORS are setting up their booths, preparing to sell their wares to those who have money to burn.


Exiting through the doors and walking onto the Atlantic Boardwalk are MAX, MAGGIE, FRANK & AQUA. Max is wearing pressed jeans and a white t-shirt with a bulls-eye over his heart and written underneath it is 'HIT THIS!' Maggie is dressed in black shirt and torn jeans. Frank in a hot pink shirt underneath a black jacket and black pants, while Aqua wears a cowboy hat, tropical shirt tucked into a denim skirt.

They look like they are ready for action. Walking with a purpose and scanning the crowds.

He's not there.

He's got to be around here. Somewhere.

Hopefully he hasn't bolted just yet.

He better not.

Well, we have only 88 more minutes to find him.

He's close by I can feel him.

Of Presents Given

The car traveled on throughout tunnels unknown and passing worlds of gone-by, should-have-been, the plurealities streaking past the windows all different but still looking the same.

Suki was waking from a little sleep. Her eyes flickering open like someone turning on a light switch. She turned her head and spotted two gifts on the seat beside her; she glanced around. She saw Max was up at the front of the car chatting with Bishop, who was leaning up against the door to his booth. Akimoto was stretched out on the seat in the back, and seemed to be taking in the downtime with a nap as well. 

The presents were wrapped with tender care and a tear welled up in her eye. Though, she knew it wasn't the sight of seeing the presents; it was the thought of them being beside her that made her happy. She had found a new family.

"Merry Christmas, Suki," Max and Akimoto echoed throughout the subway car.

The Cat in the Hat Came Back

"What's with the hat?" Trump asked Max. "Planning on putting the smack down on a couple of hookers?"

Max looked at Trump and said nothing. He and that cat didn't see eye-to-eye on much, but it wasn't a hateful relationship. It was something akin to brothers who don't agree very often. 

"Looks good though," Trump added and he went back to licking his paws. Max smiled.

Max had on a fedora; it had been given to him as a gift and he felt like he had to wear it. Suki had seen it at a store and picked it up for him. When she presented it to him she told Max, "You call me Shortround I will kick you."


Art Imitating Life Imitating Art


MAX, SUKI & AKIMOTO are on the platform. Max is leaning up against a pillar, smoking a cigarette. He is wearing a red t-shirt declaring "Pick Me Kirk!". Akimoto is dressed in a tropical shirt and torn jeans; he is sitting at bench reading a comic book. Suki is sitting on the floor; she is tracing patterns on the tile.

I'm bored. How long are we going to wait here?

As long as it takes

This sucks. We should be kicking butt by now.

Suki, be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

Akimoto looks up from his comic and flips a page. The action on the comic book seems to mirror what just went on between Suki and Max. Akimoto shrugs and goes back to reading... On the first panel is the sound of a train. 

Sound of a train approaching.

Hope our car is on this one.

It could be.

Akimoto looks at the comic book again and at Suki and Max and then he flips the page to see something hideous on it. Cut to Akimoto's eyes widening in horror. He drops the comic and grabs his sword.

Camera pans into the comic book and onto a frame in which Max asks Akimoto:

What is it?

Cut to other panel in which Akimoto turns and faces Max:

Something spooky.

The Cards Be Calling

Mags was in a sunny room with others; she was seated on the floor with a cup of tea by her side and a deck of cards in front of her. But they weren't an ordinary deck of cards; they were cards with some symbols and other pictures on them. She was drawing the cards out and looking at them and then putting them down as part of a pattern.

"What are you doing?" Kia asked.

Mags looked at her and cocked an eyebrow. "If you have to ask then you're to ignorant to know." Then she went back to draw the next card and look at it. Pondering the implication of what the card was telling her. 

"Now, now Maggie," a nurse scorned Mags. "We gave you those cards to calm you down, we can just as easily take them away from you."

Mags looked up at the nurse and cocked an eyebrow and added a wry smile to it, as if challenging the nurse to come and do what she had threatened to do.



"You set?" Max asked Maggie. He could tell that she was in state of preparedness.

Maggie nodded, then added, "Ready when you are, sweetie."

"Soon. Very soon now," Max replied; he was transferring cigarettes from a cardboard pack into a solid tin. "I can feel it now."

Killer Instinct

Maggie walked towards the door to the complex, still feeling uneasy that something sinister was in the air. She took a precautionary glance, seeing nothing out of the ordinary, and then proceeded to the door.

That's when she felt something hit her in the back the head. She paused, momentarily stunned, and brought her hand to her head and felt liquid. The impact was enough to stagger her, falling on a knee. Turning to see Frank standing there; he had been hiding in the shadows, waiting for her.

He looked at her and nodded.

How dare he, Mags thought, her body filling with emotion. After all I did for him.

Frank walked closer to her, his hands clasped behind his back. He was dressed in black, his killer wardrobe.

"Why?" Maggie asked.

"Because," Frank replied coolly. "It's my nature."

Maggie leaned forward to control her stance. She was like a deer caught in the headlights of an approaching semi.

"Max will avenge me," she said.

"Not before I get him," Frank replied. He stopped 15 feet away from her.

She was scanning around and taking in all her options. She knew that she was caught off-guard, blindsided because she was taking things too slack. She was caught off her guard and now she was paying the price.

"I hope you don't hold it against me," Frank said. "After all, you knew who I was in the beginning."

His face cracked into a vicious smile as he brought up the second snowball.

The Aria Effect

Frank slid back into the booth with a sly grin on his face. Max was sitting there smoking another shitty smelling cigarette, his arm draped around Mags. Angst sat on the other side next to Goner.

"What are you smiling at?" Angst asked him.

"I slipped the disc jockey a c-note and a song to play," he replied.

"Why?" Goner asked this time around.

"Because," was all that Frank said.

As the last song ended the haunting melody of the next one began. It started to perk up the interest of the table. The tune began to wail from the speakers and the dance floor cleared. Then the techno sound began to sneak into the haunting melodic tune. Which made the young crowd seem to turn away from the dance floor.

"Care to dance?" Frank asked of Angst. She turned and smiled and held out a hand for Frank to take.

Max just looked a Mags and gave her a wink; she gave him a nod and they too headed out onto the dance floor, as the haunting voice began to sing. Both couples took to the dance floor like nobility at a grand ball. The crowd of 20-somethings stood around looking at the majestic couples as they did their ritualistic movements on the dance floor.

Goner sat at the table shaking his head, though he thought Frank was cool for an old fart. Goner flagged down a waitress and ordered another round, his head bobbing to the music.

"Fuckin' A, Frank," Goner whispered.

Mags looked into Max's eyes and she was swept away into the pools of azure, lost for a mere fraction of a second in his world. She began to spin like a dervish, the scarves around her arm billowing out, and Max was getting into the essence of the song.

He thought he owed Frank big time for this, because right now it was what he needed.

A Breakfast of Illusions

"I got a feeling that you are going to miss me," Max told Suki. Suki was sitting on a bench facing the tracks, eating a bowl of cereal. She had been hungry and this was the first quiet stop in a little while to grab something nourishing.

"You're not going anywhere are you?" Suki asked back. "Aren't you?"

"Well, just in case something happens and we get separated," Max said, beside her on the bench. He butted out a cigarette and leaned back. "You know this journey we are on can't last forever."

Suki paused for a long while; a single tear streaked down her face, seeming more foreign than ever. "What do you mean?"

"Someday this will end," said Max. He took his thumb and wiped the tear from her face. "Life will continue and so will we."

Suki added, "I never really thought that it would eventually end. I always thought we'd be doing this forever."

"Forever is such along time," Max said. 

"Yeah, but can't I just live the fantasy for now?" Suki said. She placed the cereal carton into the trash bin.

Max let out a chuckle, and then he turned to Suki and winked, "But we are having a kick-ass time doing so!"

} A Close Call - for B.H.

The cool breeze enveloped him, though he didn't shiver for it was a comforting one. Max stood outside on the patio and looked out over the city below. He was sure he was home. For a little while at least, he hoped.

His cellphone chimed. A haunting melody emitting. He answered it.

"Hello Max," the voice said.

"Yes?" Max asked pensively.

"Time is coming," the voice said. "Prepared yet?"

"Yes," Max replied.


Faux Blog

Excerpt from Sparkle_Lady's journal at Ghostbloggers:

I haven't updated in a while. I haven't been nothng much at all. Stay in my room, listening to the gothic voices sing to me on my mp3 player. Nothing too exciting has been going on. Nothing until earlier this evening.

I've been hanging out at a coffee house where a strange eccletic group of people been hanging out as well. I really don't know what to make of them but they seem to be a pretty eccentric bunch (wow look at me use big words I are edumakated! ;)) After school I like popping in and getting a cap or two and read up on the current events. It's a nice cosy atmosphere.

Well anyways the crew that hangs up in the upper tier, I have come to know by their chatting: There is Max (tall handsome fellow with sandy hair), Frank (a middle aged fellow with jet black hair and always wears nice suits), Goner (a twenty something dweeb), Angst (a very pretty girl who could could be a debutante) and Maggie (a tough looking lady). I am sitting at a low table, pretty close to where they usually sit.
I notice Goner always glancing at me. 

I am sitting there this evening and in comes Frank and Max. They go over to their usual spot by the window and they sit back and chillax for a bit. Sipping coffee and Frank reading the papers (he always has a stack of papers with him). Max is smoking a cigarette (a bad habit I know). I have been working up the nerve to try and chat with these guys... though we do say the occasional hello and how's it going.

I am just about to stand up and make a move over there, I feel all queasy and nervous inside... when suddenly an elderly gentlemen strolls past me. He walks up to the table and Frank really is about to do something, when Max signals for him to stop. The fellow has got to be in his 40's maybe, looking dapper (but Frank looks more dapper)... he stands at the table and says:

"Max Cube. We need to talk," and than adds as he scans the room and looks directly at me. "Privately".

I drop my drink on the table, and Frank looks at Max and Max nods his okay. So Frank gets up and comes over and he helps me.

"Let me buy you a coffee," he says to me like a father. After we gather the paper up, Frank leads me by the arm down to the main area and he buys me a coffee. But he's got this real concerned look on him.

"Trouble?" I asked meekly.

"No," Frank replies. "Something much much worse."

Whatever that means.... oops got to go now. I will continue this escapade later on tonight.

And Now Another Word...

Max drummed his fingers on the table. He had been sitting in the booth with a cup of coffee in front of him and a pack of smokes out on the table. His cellphone was beside the coffee cup and there was something playing on it. He had been glancing at the news every now and then on the hopes that something caught his eye.

"Another coffee, sugar?" the waitress asked.

Max nodded.

"Anything on?" The waitress wanted to know what was on the cellphone.

"Nothing as usual," Max replied. He was facing towards the window as the elderly waitress poured another cup of black gold. "Hoping to hear about some old friends."

The waitress smiled and gave him a wink.

Max took the coffee and sipped away. He was in the middle of another sip and that's when he heard it...

> Karen in Plureality 2

Steps formed from fractals coming together and disappearing as they climbed, towards what she did not know.

“So what’s the deal here, Max?” she asked

“Ah, you’re going to love this Raven. It’s genius, even for me," he said as more steps appeared and disappeared from the grid, which had rolled and flattened as required. “Just watch out for Mor…”

The words melted into the air, and the floor, and the walls, as Max disappeared and Raven fell… no, slid towards an unknown destination.

Damn! What now? She tried to right herself but things were changing too quickly, pitching and rolling, so she relaxed into it. That’s better. Wonder what Max was trying to warn me about? 

“Good evening, Raven," he said, as he peered through the beaker that held a golden liquid.

She looked out from her cage at the man in the white lab coat. Reaching out, she touched the bars and brought fingers back quickly, as they sparked in response.

“Cute," she said. “So what are you, the evil scientist?”

“No, no. Nothing quite so dramatic. My name is Morganfokker.”

“Well, nice meeting you Fokker but I was in the middle of something.” Raven looked toward the ceiling. So where’s the exit on this contraption? Wish I had my slice. 

As the thought came, so did the slice. She could feel it in her hand and she smiled. Ok then. Thought creates reality. Nice. 

“I require you to tell me what Max has created,” Morganfokker said.

“No can do, Fokker.”

“It’s Morganfokker.” He frowned. Noncompliance was not what he expected and it disturbed him.

“Whatever. So, like I said, nice meeting you.” She sliced the bars and flipped the cage over Morganfokker when he opened his mouth to speak, thinking stairs, then slide, as each thought transformed into reality and she heard his voice fading into the distance.

Nice. I could use a burger, and up ahead a diner appeared and she entered and sat down at the counter, smelling the burgers on the grill and thinking, ”Where the hell was Max?”


Conversational Piece

"What are you saying?" Angst asked Frank. "You are saying that Maggie is not who she says she is?"

Frank was sitting on a chair in the kitchen; he leaned closer to Angst and shook his head. "No. I'm just saying that she is older than she looks."

Angst leaned back in her chair, giving Frank a weird look. "After all the shit I've seen and the places we've been and the stuff that we've been through, it doesn't surprise me one bit."

Frank grabbed a smoke from the table and lit it. He took a long satisfactory puff. Angst wasn't getting at what he was saying. So he might have to illustrate the point.

"Look," he started. "You and I have traveled realities and shifts and even been to the first gates of hell. But we are getting older, aging."

"So?" Angst stated. She was trying to reach the depth that Frank was swimming at.

"So," Frank said. "But Maggie has been something like this for a long, long time."

"Meaning?" Angst asked; she was missing the point.

} Somewhere Between Page 1 and Page 4 - for J.D.

"You okay, Mags?" Aqua asked her, after tapping her on the shoulder.

Maggie snapped out of her daydream and shot Aqua a smile. "Yeah, sorry, was drifting off there for a minute."

"You sure picked a hell of a time to go off on a tangent," Aqua told her.

"Sorry," Mags apologized. 

Both girls were sitting down on the ground, behind a concrete wall. Mags shook the cobwebs from her brain and started to asses the situation at hand. Aqua was flexing her fingers in the gauntlets she was wearing.

"We only got one shot at this," Aqua said. "And I don't want to end it like Butch & Sundance did."

"But didn't they have fun doing that?" Mags said with a sly, wry smile.

Like Butch and Sundance... But With More Irony

The shell ejected from the gun, tumbling into the air for a few seconds, before landing on the marble floor. It joined his brothers on the floor. With both guns blazing Max was making sure that the mooks around him knew who they were dealing with.

"Don't you die on me you bastard," Max told the crumpled figure on the floor.

He was surveying the area and he was vastly outnumbered. No matter how many he took out, it seemed like two would take the place of one fallen comrade. It looked like this time that these mooks would rather face death than report back to their bossman of a failure.

"I ain't going to die just yet," the crumpled figure said. "There's still plenty of things to do."

"Who are these guys?" Max asked.

"Why they belong to your counterpoint..." the figure replied.

"Ain't you my counterpart?" Max questioned the figure on the floor. Max had always figured that Control was behind most of the stuff he had been through; after all he was Control.

"No," Control said. "I'm not your Anti-Max."

Nothing Lasts Forever Including Cyberain

Apple City 2123 AD

The rain fell in the cold predawn morning and she didn't care. She stood on the lip of the doorway looking down the street, remaining partially hidden from the casting of lights. She watched a diner's neon lights begin to flicker and that's when she stepped out into the cold embrace of the rain.

The neon lighting declared the diner to be "Now Open".

She entered the establishment. The doors parting like the red sea for Moses and she stepped inside the comforting embrace of mercury lighting. She slid into a booth and her fingers danced on the table top.

A sound emanating from the back, indicating that her order was received and would be processed.

She moved her hand over and a holographic screen emerged on the table, two news anchors reporting the events of the hour as they happened. She waited for her order and turned as she heard the door open and watched three kids enter the place. They all were dressed in black slickers.

An Asimo 451 waitress appeared with her order. Rolling across the floor with built-in wheels, gliding like a mechanical angel over clouds.

"Here you go, Maggie," the Asimo 451 model said.

"Thanks Jen," Maggie replied; she motioned towards the slicker trio and said, "Prepare for trouble."

Jen's head turned slightly, her sensors picking up on the trio. "How can you tell?"

"When you've been around the block a couple of times you can make an educated guess," Maggie replied with a wink that wasn't lost to Jen.

Like Hoboes in the Night

The train shunted along the tracks. An ambient sound which could be heard from the inside of the car. Here they were like hoboes hitching around, on a car with a side door open enjoying the country view.

"It's times like these that make it all worthwhile," said Frank; his black suit was dirty and he had tried his best to look presentable. He leaned up against the open door, a smoke in his hands and he was watching the starry sky.

Max was sitting on the ledge; he was in that exact frame of mind that Frank was in. Though he was splattered with enough blood to make a CSI happy. He didn't reply at all, content with the knowledge that someone else was feeling what he thought.

The car that they were in was empty, except for Angst sleeping off to one side. She was using Frank's jacket as a pillow.

"Well, I hope Pretty can get that for me," Frank wondered aloud.

"He's good," Max replied still staring up at the night sky, his eyes seemed a million miles away. "He's like Felix The Cat - all he has to do is reach into his bag of tricks."

Frank chuckled.


Message in an Electronic Bottle

Like a vampire with a deep hunger for a taste of blood, so does Max hunger for combat and change. Sitting alone in his apartment, his radio attuned to a station where the music was nothing like the ones he listened to.

Tell me something.

There were three cigarettes butted out in the ashtray beside him. A fourth cigarette smoldered in it, the smoke drifting out like a signal from the past. He was bored, really bored, and he really didn't know what he wanted to do.

A fly had landed on his arm and Max turned to ask it, "What do you think?"

The fly continued to walk along his arm until it finally headed off elsewhere.

"Et tu?" Max muttered and he sighed.

His laptop was open and the screensaver had kicked in hours ago. A swirling mass of lines intermixing with each other in some form of sexual innuendos. He heard the blip of someone messaging him.

He got up from the chair and walked over to the desk. His finger hit the screen and the screensaver disappeared; at the bottom of the screen in the system tray the blue flashing signalling him. He touched it and it called up the messenger.

This Transmission is coming to you.


She turned when she heard the sound of heavy footsteps approaching; she saw a huge, 14 foot tall beast plodding through the walls coming towards her. She ran towards it, her hand on the handle of the katana strapped to her back.

Maggie leapt into the air, and on the ascent she drew the katana, raising it high. She moved as if she was being guided by unseen wires. She brought the sword down upon the skull of the huge beast and split the beast in half.

Landing on her feet, she sheathed the katana and brought up a handgun, firing away at the unnamed mooks who were sent out to die by her hand. Bullets flew and found their mark as she made her way deeper and deeper into the complex.

"This is no picnic," she muttered to herself.

The Decision

MAX, FRANK, MAGGIE and ANGST are around a low table; all of them have a mug of something in front of them. Frank has a newspaper folded up and is reading a section. TRUMP is also with them but he is resting on MAGGIE's lap.

Other customers in the shop are scattered about and not paying too much attention to what's transpiring before them.

So that's it then?

Pretty much.

When are you thinking of putting it into action?

Soon. You'll know when.


Now Angst.

This blows Frank. How could you accept that?

It's more their war. I'm willing to stand to one side and wait for the call.

Goddammit Max, when I was pulled into this group it was all-for-one and one-for-all. Why are you doing this?

It's final.

This fucking sucks.

ANGST gets up and storms off the set.

She didn't take it too well.

Well, I am not sure if she ever would agree. I don't think I am partial to your decisions.


Before the ReAwakening

Max looked up at the screens and sighed. There had to be more than life then sitting behind a desk and watching empty halls in a building. He looked down upon his name tag and shuddered. 

There was something wrong and he could sense it, but he really couldn't quite put his finger on it. For the past few days he had this nagging feeling of being watched, studied like a rat in a maze and he really couldn't understand why.

"Your turn," Kent told him, snapping Max out of his thought process. It seemed like whenever he got to this thought process something would happen to snap him out of it.

"What are you doing anyways?" Kent asked. "Thinking of some hot chick?"

"No," Max replied; he slipped into his boots. "Just going off on a tangent. I guess."

"Well, you can go back to it once you finish your rounds," Kent stated with a wink.

"Kay," Max said; he got up and took his flashlight. "Be back in 45 minutes."

"Not unless," Kent said and he drew his forefinger across his heck. "You know we are the expendables."

Max chuckled and headed out the door. In every movie security guards were slain in the beginning of a plot, or when the heroes tried to do something in a museum and the bad guys come in, or a monster chews them up good.

He walked down the hallway.

Morganfokker looked up from the stasis tube where a body floated like a specimen in a jar; he tapped the glass and a smile cracked his face. Then he turned and approached the assistant.

"How is he taking to the stimuli?" Morganfokker asked.

The assistant glanced over at the monitor and then down at a flimsy sheet. "Just like predicted. His neural patterns are low. He's actually bored, like projected."

"Good," said Morganfokker. "He's just about prepared for his assignment."

I Would Run Right Into Hell And Back

"I love you," Maggie told him.

"I love me too," Max replied.

The next thing Max saw were stars and then he fell to the floor like a tree struck by lightning.

Signals Sent

Goner entered the room and saw Frank and Max sitting at the kitchen table with a small device; it looked like one of those crystal radio kits you buy at a store. The radio was tuned to a classical station and Mozart was emanating from the speakers, which made Goner cringe. He hated that type of music.

"What you doing?" Goner asked after he opened the fridge and got a cola out.

"Influencing the past," Frank replied; he didn't look up from what he was doing. His left hand was on a keyboard while his right hand held a thin stick and his head was tilted to one side of a makeshift speaker.

Max just gave Goner a wink as he sipped from his coffee mug.

"Really now?" Goner said as he sat down at the table. "And how are we doing that?"

Frank replied with a smile, "Simple if you know what your doing."

Max let a chuckle slip from his lips.

"Well, time is a illusion, like ripples in water and I am just skipping some signals into the mix," Frank replied. "I was just showing Max here how slight signals sent back in time could influence the present. Sending flashes back into time, until the signal is caught and understood."

"Is it working?" Goner asked. "I see that you are listening to music and have a mic up to the speakers?"

Frank reached over and turned the classical station off and hit a top 40 station. A song was playing and then Frank's fingers danced on the contraption, holding the mic close to the speakers. He could hear some tween queen sing lyrics of a song trying to be more sexy than her age, and the beat was funky as well.

"Listen closely," Frank said.

Goner listened to the song as it was being played. Saw Frank's left hand dance across the keyboard, the stick in his hand, hitting a few tiny switches on the board, and that's when Goner heard the slight difference emanating from the radio.

"Whoa!" Goner said.

} Messages in the Black - for T.B.

Max walked across the street. Plopped several bills onto the counter and took 13 random newspapers off the shelf. He walked into a nearby cafe and promptly sat down; he signaled for a coffee and then proceeded with opening up the first paper.

"Now that's strange," said Maude; she had just gotten back from a wedding for which she had taken a week off.

Gladys looked up from the magazine she was reading and spotted Max. "Yeah, he's been coming in ever other morning with a stack of newspapers."

"Any idea why?" Maude asked.

Gladys shrugged and went back to her magazine. "Just bring him an ashtray and keep refilling his cup and he will leave you a nice tip."

"But didn't we go no smokin..." Maude began but promptly shut up and did what she was told.

He opened up the paper to a random page. Looked down at a word and then took a pen and circled it and jotted it down off to one side and then he did the same with the other papers. The waitress gave him a curious glance as he constantly opened up the newspaper at random pages and circled a word.

She glanced over his shoulder as she set the cup down and noticed what he had written: FIND TABLE MARKED WITH SYMBOL GANGLAND... Which she thought was weird but made kind of sense.

The Countdown


MAGGIE sits at the kitchen table. MAX is leaning up against the counter. He's got a cigarette and a coffee mug beside him. Coffee mug has a slogan on it stating "Be Prepared!"

You know what this means.

That I do.

I think it's the only course of action we have to take at the moment.

Maggie looks up into the eyes of Max. Max looks like he has thought this one out, looks like he hasn't slept in a long while.

So when do you think?

Soon. Very Soon.


A figure in black is lying close to the edge with a listening device.

Okay then.

Let's hope that I'm not wrong about this.


Then we shall see. Make the call.

Max reaches for the phone.

A Book is a Book

Control walked into the conference room and threw down a children's book in front of the trio that was sitting at a table. The trio looked at the book and then at Control, who took a seat.

"What's this?" inquired one.

"It's a book," Control replied. "It's a good read."

One of the gentlemen turned the book to read the title. It was a preschool Prince-Fish Book. The title read 'Cube'.

"Go on," Control urged; he sat back in the chair and folded his arms. "Skim through it and read."

The trio looked up and then at the book and one of the fellows opened it up. The illustrations were manga-ish but done in pencil style.

Max & Maggie
by Tym Billion
Illustrated by Dan Synnik

Max likes shooting. He shoots well.
He could shoot the moon like William Tell.

Maggie likes fencing. She fences well.
Her katana is like a symphony as you could tell.

Trump likes meowing. He meows well.
The talking cat likes to complain as you can tell.

Goner likes sitting. He sits by the well.
When he's not sitting, he's got secrets to tell.

One of the trio closed the book after skimming the first several pages and asked, "What does this mean?"

"It means," Control said. "that we've moved into another territory."


Chakra Up

MAX is sitting on an old wooden chair with his hands behind him. In front of him THE FUTURE paces across the floor. The Future is clearly agitated.

You know eventually I will have to kill you.

I know you do.

You seem pretty calm about it.

Well, we all die sooner or later.

You don't have to be smug about it.

I am not as smug as I look. Can I ask you a favour before my life expires?

That depends on what the favour is?

Can I have a smoke?

The Future pauses and then reaches for a pack of smokes. As he opens one, the camera zooms in on the cigarettes and each cigarette has a miniature chakra engraved on them.

The Future pulls out one and puts it in Max's mouth and lights it. Max closes his eyes as he puffs on the cigarette. Letting the smoke down deep into his lungs, and then exhaling a purplish fog.

Now that hits the spot.

You know you are this close to dying.

I have been this close for a long, long time now.

She's Fine Until Someone Says Something They Shouldn't Have Said...

Cue music.

A SERIES OF CUTS while the music begins from darkness: various shots of the city. Subway platform. City square. Tall building. Busker strumming guitar. Man with a fedora looking at some kids playing across the road. An abandoned building with boarded-up windows. A gum wrapper blowing in the breeze. Kids playing in the park. A teen in a car zooming past a corner store.

CAMERA ZOOMS IN ON THE DOOR as MAX steps out of a convenient store. He is dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt with the words LIFER. He heads down the sidewalk walking towards the subway.

THUG 1, THUG 2 and GOON step out of the alleyway as Max passes. They proceed to follow him.

Max heads down the stairs walking towards the camera. We see the Thugs follow.

Max standing off to one side. SUKI is skipping rope at the far end. AKIMOTO is leaning up against the wall his nose buried in a book.

Hey Man.



You got change for a dollar. I need to make a phone call.

GOON and THUG 2 are giddy.

(reaching for front pocket)

Thug 1 pulls out a handgun and aims it at Max. While Thug 2 and Goon look at the others on the platform.

Good because I am going to take it all.

No one else move or else there's gonna be trouble.

Suki is skipping over.

Akimoto glances up over at Suki. Suki gives him the 'I can handle it' look so Akimoto goes back to reading the novel.

(softly to Suki)
You're not going to let this one slide are you?

Suki throws Akimoto the 'Hey It's Me' look. Akimoto shakes his head.

Yo Bitch. Stop skipping.

oh boy.


Moments of Distraction

Max sipped from the mug, tasting the liquid as if for the first time. He marveled at the little sensations that he had taken for granted, tantalization of the taste buds. He hadn't had a good cup of coffee like this in a long, long while.

This is as close to coming home as possible.

Though he knew he could never go home again, that things constantly shifted now and then to obscure truths and changing lies. He was glad that things he liked were still around in the plurealities that he had visited and stayed in awhile. Things like his brand of smokes and coffee.

He butted out his cigarette and then reached for the cellphone. His thumb danced over the keypad and he brought the phone to his ear. It was time to get some answers. Time to see what was happening, time to uncover this reality's secrets that were hidden.


Pick it up.


He needed to get to the bottom of this and wanted a question or two asked. But the phone kept on ringing, no answer.


Max looked at the phone. And ended the call. He placed it on the table and reached for a pack of cigarettes. He lit one up and leaned back in the chair, exhaling a huge cloud of blue fog.

I can wait.

> Debashis in Plureality 2

Flaps up, throttle on. Gear in.  Lift off, climb high and soar.  Everything is smooth rolling.  Not a hitch, a couple of bumps but, nothing really.  This machine has gotten more cumbersome, but nothing we can*t handle.  We still love it.  Just gotta adjust the throttle on this thing.  Say what?  You want us to take on a bit more baggage?  Sure, but we*re gonna need some help.  Hmmm?  Yep, not a problem.  We can make it work.  Just need some fine-tuning.  But you gotta know, the more you give me, the bumpier the ride.  Hey, the first part of this journey is going well.  Sunny skies all the way, the cargo is not moving around much and it*s a great flight.  Couldn*t ask for better.  Some wanna get off a bit early, so we*ll make some stops.   Say it again?  Great to hear it * yeah, they*re liking the ride.  A bit of nausea for a few, but we got puke bags and some kind of homeopathic stuff on board for that.  There*s also Gravol for those who want it.  Yeah, we know there*s a bit more bumps, but hey, we got an old machine and lots of stuff on board, so it*s going to be a bit tougher to get this ride smooth, but they*re still liking it.  Hold on, can*t quite hear you.  Switching channels.  Say that last thing again, will you? Oh, things are fine overall for us*how about you?  It*s busy for us all, eh?   Ummm, hold on, different message coming in.  Says that something*s not right but we*ll fix it later on.  Not to worry.  Not to worry?? Geeez!  We*re like way up high right now and you*re telling me not to worry?  But, hey, you*re the boss.  But I will worry a bit.  Hey, listen, I*ve got a couple of problems on board and I*ll get you the documentation in a bit, but I*m also running into some clouds. So, the paperwork will wait, ok?  Lots of clouds, some dark ones.  A storm?  What is this?  Hmm. The instruments aren*t working properly.  There is NO WAY that the altitude can say THAT!  Oh well, time to fly without instruments.  We can do this.  Ride*s getting rougher.  But the clouds are still weird.  No storm yet, but something*s a-loomin*.  The luggage is moving around a bit more and the passengers are getting a bit upset.    Oh, for goodness* sake!! Rumours of an imminent crash?  Are you kidding!?  Tell them it*s not happened before and never will.  What??  They*re telling each other what?  Oh well, we gotta fly this thing.  The field*s not so far away.  They*re talking to the boss now?  But the boss is miles and miles away from up here.  Nothing the boss can do and why the heck don*t they just hang tight!?  Someone wants up into the cockpit?  Sure*gotta make the customers happy, I guess.    Well hi there.  How old are you?  11 years old, eh?  And who do have with you?  Oh yeah?  What*s your dog*s name?  You want to fly for a bit?  Can*t really allow you to do that.  Yes, it takes years of practice and training.  You know a lot about these machines?  Tell me more.  Yup, that makes sense*probably once you grow up, you can really get into learning about this stuff.  If you like this, do not lose your passion.  You can do this, it*s fun and I love it.  Look, I got a book or two for ya.  Hey, we*re getting into some air pockets, so I need you and everyone else to go back to your seats and get secure.  No, nothing to be scared about.  But, we gotta be safe.  Thanks for coming in.  Take care of that dog and I will see you when we land.    Ok, let*s get a handle on this thing.  What?  Someone else wants to see the cockpit?  We can*t right now.  They have to wait, or it might not even happen.  No, I*m not trying to be rude or whatever.  We gotta get through this storm or whatever it is and get down.  Someone*s complaining about the dog now?  The kid can fly better than us?  But the kid don*t even a license yet.  The kid ain*t tall enough to reach the pedals.  The kid needs time.  Is anyone still enjoying the ride?  Well, that*s good.  Oh, wait, here comes a transmission.  You*re telling me to go through the clouds and be careful for the mountains.  I can*t even see through the mountains.  Aren*t there some automatic beacons that are supposed to be around here somewhere?  Oh well, I know they*ll blink when they need to.  We*re all in this together, right?    SLAM!!!  What the heck was that?  We*re still flying, but what was that?!  A bird?  This high?  Oh, luggage?  Can someone please go down and secure all that?  What now?  Less fuel?  I thought I told you to keep check on that.  I thought you filled up before we took off*.  But don*t worry, I*ll just make this adjustment to the flight plan and we should be ok.  Ok.  I*m tired and I don*t know what*s coming next.  I*m not good anymore.  I*m just ok.  I don*t like it.  We*re in trouble.  We won*t crash.  I will make sure of that.  But what if I do. It*s all my fault,  none of it*s my fault.  Doesn*t matter.  Got keep this boat afloat.