Author: Tim Emery
Genre: Young Adult (Sci-Fantasy Thriller)
Title: The Fire-Breather's Daughter
Adam’s room was messy. Not normal teenager messy. Yes, posters hung haphazardly on the walls and there were clothes on the floor, but there was some less conventional teenage untidiness. On the window sill, there was a shoe cleanly cut into two parts. The leather, laces and sole had each been cut without leaving any indication of the method of separation. It could have been taken for abstract art, except that Adam had completed the separation and he wasn’t an artist. The corner of the top of his desk was missing, exposing a smooth, bare edge. There was a large hole in his duvet. It showed no sign of being a tear or burn. It was a clean hole that continued through the sheets and part the way into the mattress below. The deep, shag pile carpet also had several holes of varying depths, including one that showed a neat shape precisely shaved out of the floorboard.
Adam would have liked to have included his best friend and neighbour, Guy, in his experiments. Guy was at least Adam’s equal technically, but Guy wouldn’t take part without knowing what Adam knew. If Guy knew what Adam knew he would freak out; their ‘business’ partnership would be finished. Guy was just too cautious to do what Adam intended and Adam couldn’t wait.
He opened up Word and added a few lines to the notes in the Word document he was leaving for Guy. He hoped Guy would understand.
Guy, I have spent the last couple of months exploring the Global Literary Agency’s system and developing a couple of apps.
I just happened on their site while I was browsing a couple of months ago and poked my way into their system out of interest. I know you would have no interest in a Lit Agency system but Guy it’s incredible. It’s immense. It’s light years ahead of what we have been working with – but (thankfully) it has all sorts of little holes that I have been squeezing through. (Old tech rules ok!)
I know you would want to explore the technology there but that would take forever. (And there are more exciting things to do.) You will understand my attraction to a story called ‘Hackers’. It’s our story Guy! It accurately describes what we have been doing for the past couple of years. Guess where I got the idea for hacking into that Share-Dealing database last month. But that kinda creeps me out. Did we only hack into the shares system because the book said we did, or did we make a choice? Is our fate written or can we change it?
Well, I’ve read the book. You probably ought to - but I should warn you that you will see that we are going to get into trouble with a guy called Jez who owns a casino. No, I haven’t heard of him either – so perhaps the book is wrong. Whatever, it has a happy ending and that’s good enough for me.
So, now you’re confused and think I’m nuts and don’t believe any of it. Don’t blame you. That’s why I performed the stunt in front of you. If you’re reading this it must have worked - to some extent.
I reckon we can take control of our own story. We can be authors of our own lives – if that makes sense. If I’m right we can also improve other stories; other people’s lives. If I’m right, we’re not restricted to a life in Tooting in 2012 – we can go places. And armed with foresight, we can do so many things.
I know you will be horrified by the maths in the apps but the dynamic nature makes the ‘estimating’ element necessary. I challenge you to find a better way.
So, take a look at the apps and read ‘Hackers’. (Note - we don’t hack into the Agency in the book. Does that mean no recursive loop?)
If everything works ok then ‘I’ll be back’ (I wrote that in an Arnie voice – did you get that?). Otherwise … well, otherwise I hope you understand my notes!
Adam shut down his laptop. He knew he hadn’t got time to explain to Guy, and he knew would never have time because he didn’t really understand it himself; not fully. After all it needed more than just a powerful computer with unlimited virtual space – it also needed programmes far beyond even his imagination; but that was for another day. Small steps first. A demonstration was the best way to get Guy’s support.
Slinging his full backpack over his shoulder, he paused as he caught sight of the shoe. That was a lesson well learnt. Then there was the corner of the desktop. Now, that lesson had not been well learnt. He wasn’t sure where the pen and the corner of desk had gone, and more importantly why he had failed to get them back. He had deliberately omitted mentioning the pen experiment in his notes.
Adam nipped over the low wall between his mom’s house and their neighbours, and bounced up to the front door. Before knocking, he pulled his phone out of his pocket and selected the ‘Tripudio’ app. He realised he had to slow himself down. He felt like a five year old on Christmas morning and knew it. It wasn’t cool.
Slipping the phone back into his pocket, he rapped the knocker of number 42, Hikers Avenue. In his mind it was the tune from ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. To anyone else it was a few oddly spaced raps. Through the small frosted pane he could see Laura, Guy’s 14 year old sister. He smiled. He was pleased to catch Laura before he left, just in case things … well, just in case. Recently, Laura had been regularly dropping into Guy’ room when Adam was there, even though he mostly ignored her. He felt a little awkward at having read about her feelings for him. It wasn’t as if he had read her diary, it just felt like he had. “Hey Laura. Wow, you’re looking good. You’re really errrm …”, but what he could say to his best friend’s younger sister. He settled for a clumsy kiss on the cheek and shot up the stairs before she could react.
Bursting through his bedroom door always drew Guy’s attention away from his laptop.
"Guy, I know you'll think this is nuts. I've seen the future, or a future, or maybe, maybe just ONE of our futures. One as it has been written. I'm not really sure yet, but I think this is all virtual." Adam gestured to take in the room, finishing with a thump on the wall – though that only demonstrated its solidity.
"LIFE IS VIRTUAL. Nothing is really real, if you see what I mean." Adam continued breathlessly. "But everything is as real as we want it to be, and you and I, YOU AND I can be masters of reality, or at least of virtual reality. Appealing or what?"
Guy raised his eyebrows. "Adam, slow down and give me that again in simple English."
"Guy, I can’t fully explain ‘cos there’s still loads to work out. But I have been experimenting. I'm going to disappear for a while; to help someone called Vicky. You don't know her and, well, she doesn't know me yet, but I might need you here, to help me to help her."